Quintessence Theatre Presents: Rachel by Angelina Weld Grimké

I brought my tissues for this production because I wasn’t sure how deep they would go into the disparities into Blacks during the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a time of changing the way Blacks were perceived however just like with things today, having white people open their eyes to have amazingly educated, and worthy that we are is still an ever-present issue.  Rachel played by Jessica Johnson is one of those productions that is almost predictive of the struggles we would fight. Set in 1915 this film is like the light bulb to our time now. NAACP commissioned Angelina Grimke to write this from the perspective of Blacks to the audience of Whites so that it could open the eyes of them in hopes of change. Grimke and her sister are first generations whose grandfather was a slave. The vision that education would be the key to making a better life was and is now a tool that many thoughts would provide a better life. However, with Rachel we see how we are seen-dirty, ugly, and useless outside of servitude. My review is going to draw on so many parallels that I saw and how I felt. This was directed by Alexandra Espinoza who I knew I had seen before and realized I recognized her from Azuka Theatre’s Boycott Esther which I had written a blog post for. 

Trauma

This all-star studded and all Black cast brought the emotions that was felt from start to finish. One of the first things that touched me was Rachel’s optimism. She made me feel like she was my daughter. My own daughter’s optimism is super affectious. She is happy and go lucky. You see her and Ma Loving going back forth like typical mother and daughters do. I noticed the uneasiness in how Ma Loving showed. Immediately I knew there was some trauma that wasn’t being told. It was in the way that Ma Loving interacted, her word choices, and her body language. I want to take this time to talk about that for a moment. The way we interact with our children matters. Sometimes our own traumas and pain can be transferred to our children. I know for me on a personal level my own trauma was heightened when I had my first child. Something about childbirth that pulled on me and immediately I had the mindset to get into therapy. I saw no way that I could parent without out. How many parents do you know today with their traumas that have been unresolved that is being projected onto their own kids? 

Breaks

Zuhairah McGill plays Ma Loving and I recently saw her in the production of DOT at People’s Light. She plays the heck out of Ma Loving. I saw my mother in her. Pushing through after the lynching of her husband and son 10 years earlier. This is the trauma that comes out that she kept from Rachel and her brother, Tom played by Travoye Joyner. Once this trauma is revealed you see an immediate change in Rachel and Tom but especially Rachel. Rachel whose dream is to have a lot of children and provide a safe space is no longer there in its same glorious light. She still despite her killed dreams pushes through and takes a liking to Lil Jimmy the neighborhood kid who even in his relationship pulls further on the trauma of Ma Loving as well as contributes to the trauma to Rachel. As they all heal or attempt to heal the breaks is still present and you see Rachel unfold.

Birth or not to birth

Now even though the play centers around Rachel who decides to not have children of her own because of the pain that birthing children into the world where they could be called such things as Niggers, killed, or beaten parrells today. I think about my children as evil as it is in general its that much worse because they are black. I must have conversations with my kids that white people don’t have to have. Even my 8-year-old son has been taught what to do when he is approached by a police officer. Keep his hands present, be polite, answer with the upmost respect. Don’t step out of line in word or deed so that he can come home and yet, he’s here. I love him and my daughters and couldn’t imagine life without him but the fear that maybe if I hadn’t had children I wouldn’t have to bear the stress that I have when they aren’t in my sight is real and traumatic and a fear that ALL blacks feel. It doesn’t matter if we are law abiding citizens or college educated, we are in this world where even after all this time are devalued and made to feel less than our counterparts. This is the fear that Rachel has and because of her father and brother being lynched has decided to never have children. One of the things that I loved at seeing Rachel this past Sunday is that they had a after talk and pretalk about the production. I heard some of the audience think that Rachel was fragile when I see her just like most black mothers, she is strong, unraveling but during her unraveling she wakes up and does what she must. 

Cries in the dark

Little Jimmy experiences his first insult to his being. He is called Nigger. He didn’t do anything wrong. He just simply existed. I have blogged this many time, I was a straight A student since the 2nd grade. I had a student call me a Nigger to my face and for what? I had nothing wrong. This was in the early 90s. My own teacher changed my name from LaToi to Denise because my name was too ethnic for him to remember. I also had grades changed because college wasn’t on the horizon for me.  I am personally afraid for my own kids. It hasn’t gotten so much better that the ideal of this becoming their reality is gone. I can’t think that because my husband and I are both college graduates, homeowners, and affluent that they will escape what Jimmy experienced. The media paints racial divide as a choice only given to the Blacks who gang bang and commit crimes but do police or others have a way of choosing just “those Black” folks? Not that I am aware of. 

Come with me

Rachel is fancied by the neighbor John Strong played by newcomer Walter Deshields. He at first comes in and you can see some sparks between the two. We find out that he goes and buys a flat for him and Rachel to raise a family and become one. Rachel’s decree to never have kids is something she tells him and then lets him know that because of this decree she can’t unite with him. She can’t bring herself to be there for Little Jimmy and have children seeing the despair it has brought to know that kids are being attacked for no reason simply because they are black.  I watched the audience clutch their imaginary pears as Jimmy cried out in his nightmares reliving the moment he was devalued repeatedly. How much more for the other children in this world? They don’t understand why the kid who was taught racism at home is piercing at him like he’s a science experience. Why the girl has someone petting her hair as if her hair is some nuance. These things matter. These things hurt. Rachel is complex. There are a lot of things that are seen when you see the breakdown between Camiel Taylor who plays both Ethel and Louise who is broken. Her mother, Nia Colbert who plays Mrs. Lane is in despair but again she is doing what she can to provide a better life for her child even if that means living where she can’t afford. You see this mental break down and I resonated with that. My parents moved us from a nice neighborhood to one that wasn’t as nice just because the nicer neighborhood practically moved us out with the breakdown of how they treated us. Stay in the nice neighborhood and watch your child be called everything but a child of God or go to a lower neighborhood so we can be with likeminded individuals? The choice is hard. I want to give it up to young Jimmy played by Donavan Bazemore.

Unpacking

So much to unpack. So much to take in but Grimke was before her time. She understood and wrote this production from the pain of all Black people who know how real this is. This is everyday being Black. As many people want to act like we have arrived because there is more advancement it won’t be right until no child or adult is broken down simply from being born. Is it better to take the child out or watch them die slowly? Rachel gives us a glimpse into the slow death of our people. I need all of us to see this. Talk about it. Be an ally if you aren’t Black. Don’t just watch and clutch your pearls and say how shameful it is if you have no intentions in speaking up amid your own friends and family about the inherent racism that still exists.

Rachel is showing until February 23rd! Quintessence Theatre is locate at 7136 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia PA! Thank you to Carrie Gorn, Quintessence Theatre and Aversa PR for having me!

Monday Motivation: Fear of Trying Something Different

It’s no secret that I have always considered myself pretty bold. I love trying new things but that doesn’t mean that every now and again that I don’t get nervous about trying a few new things here and there. I think we all can relate. The fear of the unknown can sometimes be super debilitating. It’s the wonders of what will take place that can leave us a little stuck.

Bring fear along?

With that being said one thing that works for me is to bring fear with me. Yes I know we aren’t supposed to walk in fear but if we are real there are times when fear falls off as you walk with it attempting to hold onto you. I took a boxing class for the first time and I was scared. I was scared that I would look crazy. As much as I run and work out I do not always like organized classes. I am learning that about myself because I always feel like everyone is on point and I am not. So worrying about others has me in the gym free styling or at home doing a home work out. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter right? All that needs to be done is to work out. However when the reasons as to why I hold back don’t make sense than yes it’s time to move past fear and accomplish the goals I set out and that’s to be physically fit and now I am working on toning this body. I haven’t gone up on the scale but my stomach and arms are out of sync and that is what I am working on. Boxing is a great way to definitely give tone definition. 

Clumsy but got it done

During this class you should have seen my face. When I am unsure about something I am not as organized. I had all these bags, I barely got parked before it started and I almost walked into the men’s bathroom. I get real clumsy when I get nervous but the staff at Do your Rumble say me, acknowledged me and helped me get past my jitters. Shout out to Molly who arranged for us to come and try out the class to begin with. I follow her and see most of her post and really admire her but when she asked initially if anyone wanted to take a class, I just scrolled past. I knew deep down I wouldn’t just go. While I was in LA she sent me a direct message and I was like okay Lord I hear you let’s do this. I think I hit her with a let me check my schedule which was true I wanted to get through LA first and circle back. Thankfully I didn’t do my normal out of sight, out of mind and let the opportunity pass me. 

Frances Dilone

The class itself had a warm up and 5 minute pre class so we could go over the moves. The moves are simple on the bag it’s the combinations and paying attention that I was more concerned with. However I was actually getting it. We switched sides and did the weight training etc. and I was shocked that I was getting it too. Can we just shout out Frances Dilone our amazing instructor whose high energy was what I needed from the start? She is hands on, encouraging and she is the reason I didn’t want to give up. She kept reminding us to not give up on ourselves. That is a whole word right? Giving up is easy, staying the course isn’t always ideal but having someone push you helps. 

Beginners nerves

Do your Rumble is not hard even for a clumsy beginner even for me. I was happy to see that the class is super organized and everyone in the gym really knows what they are doing in regards to making everyone feel special. Molly thank you for having me and Do your Rumble I am going to lock down some more classes. I have a few races and hopefully my 3rd Broad Street and my doctors have challenged me to other work outs outside of run and spin class. With that in mind, Do your Rumble is a great exercise that will help me with my problem areas. Do your Rumble is located at 1520 Walnut Street. Funny part is even though I kept telling myself I didn’t know where it was, I realized once I got there that I have passed this location several times going to events and never tuned into it. Well I want you to tune into it. Who knows maybe when you take a class you will see me. I plan to add this into my life at least 2 times a month along with my workouts and weekly runs as I increase from once a week to 2 times a week on the ground. As I get closer to the races that I have scheduled I will most definitely increase more workouts.

Why does my class serve as a Monday motivation? Simple-we all have a fear somewhere. We all have somewhere we feel a tug to do something we have been putting off that is going to be a great inspiration to us and a way to build us up but we are too scared to try it. Whether you try do your Rumble like I did, is great but pushing past that fear and making you a priority in life is. It’s important for you to reach all of the goals. If I won’t make myself take a class how will I even be in alignment to have an increase in my life to open up? Don’t close up other opportunities by being closed minded. 

PS Do Your Rumble has a beautiful facility for showering. They provide towels and even some toiletries. You pay for your gloves and hand wraps ($3). Once you pay for the wraps they are yours to keep. The gloves are rented for $5 unless you bring your own. They have a lot of lockers that you don’t even need locks for. It’s convenient they take the guess work so you can concentrate on the working out and showing up for yourself. Come comfy and ready to work they will take care of the rest!

Look at this Girl Gang?

Blogher Health 20 Full Recap

This was my first Blogher Health experience although not my first Blogher experience. I was not disappointed. As I start all conferences with a purpose, I had my why in my mind and heart. I am not interested in going to conferences for the sake I was there but to get something out of them that I can apply to my business and life. 

Not even a few minutes and I ran right into my good friend, Karina D’ Bautista. I met her at the LA Blogher Biz conference,and we had such instant connection. We decided to sit with one another and catch up. She is about business, as the founder of Latinxgal which is a haven to help Latinxgal creators have a space to create and influence. I was happy to hear that she is also starting a podcast called Latinxgal the podcast. When you go to such large conferences it’s about what you put into it that makes it flow for you. I always make the conferences smaller by looking into making meaningful conversations and relationships but still enjoying the largeness of it all. It can be overwhelming but like I said my system has worked. Let me refresh you on how I interact within a Blogher conference:

1. Get in the building and know that even with nerves most if not all want to meet you and speak so don’t be shy. 
2. Get close. Don’t hide in the back. Get in the action of it all-I was right in the front. I like the front because I want to get all the information as well as keep my concentration on point.
3. Take notes-use your phone or even laptop but take notes. The information is so full that you don’t want to miss a thing.

SO now that I have given you my top 3 secrets to making a successful Blogher conference experience, I detailed it in detail in the Blogher 2019 Parts 1 and 2 which you can look here.

All conferences start with getting checked in and grabbing your swag bag. Blogher NEVER disappoints with sponsored goodies. The products for the Blogher Health 20 were about wellness and health so it’s no wonder sponsors like Nature Made Vitamins and Veeda was on the rooster. 

We started the day with breakfast and coffee supplied by La Colombe. I had not tried their flavored Draft Latte but the one I fell in love with was the Vanilla. Its lactose free and smooth to drink that you forget its coffee. I had several throughout the day. 

Invitae

One of the first stops for me was back to Invitae which I had made connections with the day before for the Soul Cycle Tap into Heart Health event. They were there talking to us about heart health and encouraging us to consider the technology of having genetic testing to determine any underlying health issues. It’s a discouraging thing to eat right, work out and find that no matter how much effort you put into being a better version of yourself it just isn’t helping. Invitae also have a network of help to get the genetic testing done, interpreting the results, and the next steps following the testing. Unlike recreational genetic testing this is to ensure that you find answers that you might not otherwise have to help you and your doctor find a regiment that can assist in your ultimate health. 

 

 

PCA skin

One of the highlights of the day for vendors was PCA skin. This is a professional level skin care that considers education of skin to help the skin. They specialize in peels and have been in existence for 25 years. Oh, and in case you are wondering they specialize in skin care for all skin care needs and tones. I had an intimate conversation and learned a lot such as the amount of money that we waste each year in store bought products due to attempting to find something that works. We have a thousand bottles of skin care bottles on our dressers but say things like we don’t have money to get professional skin care in the form of facials that are needed to help the skin get balanced and bright. PCA skin is leading the charge to help women skin look their best. I received some new products that I will be taking to my esthetician when I got to her this weekend. I have been taking the time to visit my local esthetician because I know that great skin begins with a professional touch along with professional grade products so I can declutter my vanity from skin care pileup. 

The Class with Sophie Kos

I decided to cap my vendor stop at just the two as it was time for the main attractions to start and that was the conference itself. We had another session with Sophie Kos to take The Class. You remember that out of body experience I told you about from the day before? It was much bigger crowd and a little bit smaller session but at least I felt I knew this time what to expect. Again,The Class is about tapping into yourself and hearing and speaking intentions while you stretch and push past your uncomfortable feeling. This was sponsored by Pacira BioSciences.

Samantha Skey

With a warm welcome from SHEmedia CEO, Samantha Skey who by the way was killing it in her outfit it was time to start. Every time you see Samantha, she is always approachable and just a badass woman in her own right. When she says her goal is to make sure that woman know their worth and charge for it, she means it. SHEmedia is for and about the uplifting of women and their voices and has been consistent in the mission. 

Self-Care and Success

This first session was a must. This was a candid conversation with Jen Gotch and Alli Webb on what it’s like to build a brand and still maintain mental health. We all have been there especially if you are a creative. You are out and about trying to do it all and be “on” but behind the scenes you have balance sometimes and sometimes you don’t. Both women did NOT hold back on their failure in this maintenance. Monica Padman did a great job moderating the conversation. It’s a conversation that needs to be had across the board but if we are honest no one wants to go first. You can build a brand and take breaks. You can build a brand and not get the formula right. Both women were candid and if you don’t know who they are let me enlighten you. 

Jen Gotch is the author of the Upside of Being Down and the owner of Bando which sells products that speak on wellness. For instance, a necklace that says Bipolar that speaks on knocking out the stigma of dealing with mental health behind doors. Now how does a company that is built on wellness have an owner that says sometimes she gets it right and sometimes she doesn’t? Easily, its life. It’s how we all move in this world. No one gets it 100 percent correct and its okay to build and tweak things along the way. Alli Webb is the owner of The Drybar. It’s built on allowing women the pleasure of coming in and getting their hair done and leaving feeling like a thousand bucks. But she also is clear on although the mission was simple there were major mistakes along the way. They have had to make apologies when mistakes were made or when customers felt the ball was drop. Everyone wants to be successful no one wants to climb those steps to get there when it seems all Hell has broken loose. I don’t think there was a better way to start the day than speaking on the ups and downs of what is success and what is success if you can’t get you together while doing it.

Impact Talk 

Next up as a blunt and necessary conversation about vaccinations. This I know is a sensitive conversation. One of the best ways we can protect our children and others is through vaccinations. Right now, there are people on one side and others on the other. It’s a topic that we must speak on. When we look at the children who aren’t vaccinated and the sicknesses that come from it. We were given the information from Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Development at Pfizer. Again, this isn’t a choice that is up for me to battle with. I know for me personally my kids were born with certain risks that if I had not vaccinated them with their weak immune systems they might not be here and that’s real for me as a parent. 

Paging Dr. Google

I know for one whenever I am sick the worse things to do is Google search my systems. I think I have personally died a few times. The internet is a great wealth of information when it works but when it’s time to get information we need to know where accredited information to use. Thankfully Blogher had a team of women doctors from all fields present. They had Dr. Yasmeen Agosti, Dr. Stephanie Canale, Dr. Jessica Shepherd, and Dr. Cara present to break the misuse of information down. As doctors it was refreshing to hear them encourage us to ask more questions and if the relationship you have with your doctors isn’t solid, they encouraged us to find one that is. That is important. If the basics of your doctors isn’t one that you can rely on you are less likely to utilize them and depend on places like Google to mislead you. This session was moderated by Reshma Gopaldas who told of how when she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, went down her own rabbit hole of misinformation. One of the places for credible information is the CDC site or American Academy of Pediatrics. One of the things you will notice from a legitimate site especially a medical one is the lack of fluff. You won’t see a lot of pretty graphics, but the information is good. If you see sites with a lot of pop ups, ads, or many unnecessary graphics it’s a sign that the site may not be credible.  One of the best ways to combat bad information is even if you find something online-take what you found to your doctor and ask questions. 

Moms on a Mission

I was so glad I attended this important session. This was about the diaper poverty. Women and families who lack the basic needs to diaper and care for their infants and kids. We learned from a mother (in video) who was working full time but couldn’t afford diapers. She would wash one diaper and hang it up and switch them back and forth between her kids. This is a real need. Let me break it down for you in another way, if you place a child in a daycare facility, they require 8-12 diapers to be dropped off or you can’t leave that child at the facility. A mom who doesn’t have them is now missing work and often is the only bread winner for the home leaving the cycle continuing without solution. Baby2Baby provides diapers and supplies to women and families. This session was moderated by Lisa Ling who I have the upmost respect for. Anytime she’s on scene you know that her reporting is true because her character speaks volumes. Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein lead the charge in helping this mission.  Just in case you are wondering you can donate here.

 

Alechia Reese

She spoke on building relationships and not networking. When you network you only focus on getting a certain amount of business cards. I know for creators you focus on making more social media connections to build numbers instead of building actual relationships that become mutually beneficially. She has a book called The Relationship Game where she breaks down the notion of what it takes to build meaningful relationships in business. I loved the 3 things we should ask:

1. What’s your name?
2. How do you use your magic on daily?
3. What are some of your biggest problems you are facing?

She encouraged us to use this method and make an email that we send as a follow up 3 days later after meeting someone. You can get more of her tips here by ordering her book here!

Model Citizens

This was an amazing panel. I had been looking forward to this one for quite some time. The panel included Hunter McGrady, Maye Musk, and Camila Coelho and moderated by Mansi Pathak. It was one of the most refreshing. You heard from Maye talk about being older and doing what she loves on her terms. Unlike when you are younger, and you jump through hoops for brands she made her statement on what she would and wouldn’t do. If you don’t remember Maye maybe you remember her from the Covergirl commercial. I remember when I saw it and I thought about how beautiful she was and how her age had no bearing on her beauty-FYI it still doesn’t. Any woman making excuses after hearing her story is just not with it. I loved hearing from Hunter McGrady who talks about not dealing with brands who didn’t support her size or with brands who didn’t include women of color. Was she not worthy of nice things because she’s considered a “plus size” woman? Nope. So why would she be with brands who didn’t mirror inclusivity? So, refreshing to hear her speak. Finally, Camila who talked about being different and her mom encouraging her that her difference is what would make her stand out. Shout out to the moms who mold their daughters early instead of trying to compete or tear them down! Hearing how she wants to use all forms of social media since that’s where she got her start to empower other young women. She’s stunning not just because she’s beautiful on the outside but because she has something to add from the inside. There are a lot of pretty women but not a lot of pretty women who don’t mind taking risks and saying no for the greater good of ALL women. 

Own your Health

This session reiterated the many times we aren’t even out own advocates let alone an advocate for someone else. This panel was with Dr. Taz Bhata, Jenna Finley, and Rachel Thee and moderated by Reshma.  It was funny but super informative. So many times we don’t ask or honestly too scared thinking that a question is too dumb enough to ask and let things slide that can build up and be a bigger issue as time goes by. It’s important for us to ask often. For instance when you go to the doctor, write down a few questions so we aren’t “that patient” down to ask so we don’t forget about it later down the line. This helps so we can self-guide the appointment in our favor. 

Passion to Profit

This was with none other than Hilary Duff and moderated by Jessica Hall. We learn about all of the aspects that being a mom has changed Hilary Duff who many remember from their childhood show, Lizzie McGuire. That is where I remember her the most as a kid. Seeing her all grown up and owning that stage was such a beautiful thing to see. Hilary has also partnered with Veeda and Happy Camper as she is quite interested in making sure that the products we use for feminine hygiene and what we put on our little kids are not only natural but sustainable. Natural products that can’t hold during the time you need them the most is not what any woman or mom would need. She spoke very candidly about this pressure to act as if women don’t have periods and the shame that is associated with it. From hiding our products in as we proceed to the bathroom to period poverty where girls don’t have the necessary products and end up missing work or school. Period poverty is very real and is a right for women to have what they need. 

Thank you to Lemonade LA for providing lunch for all of the participants. You know I got the vegan box and the food was good. That lemonade though, I need all the gallons! Not too sweet it was the perfect refreshment in that LA sun.

A conversation about Reproductive Rights

We can’t have equality if we can’t control our own bodies-periodt! This is crazy that even if you don’t agree with abortion you should agree that a woman has a right to make the decisions that matter to her for her body and her rights. I have seen and heard both sides of the coin but at the end of the day if we allow the government or a man to control our bodies we are losing every single day. As a mom of young ladies I would hate for them to be in a situation and had to have some entity say sorry we will make that right or decision for you. If we don’t take a stand now we will never be able to give our daughters the proper future since we are struggling with our now. Busy Philips, Nancy Northup and Blogher’s very own Samantha Skey talk about all of that and more as we try to put into perspective that we are losing the battle of Roe v. Wade. The time to move is now. Also congrats to Nancy for receiving the VOTY Visionary Award and Busy for winning the VOTY Truth Teller Award. These ladies are fighting a very real and serious fight. Just like they are fighting there is something we can do too. On March 4 stand with Myrightmydecision as the Supreme Court hears June Medical Services v. Gee. This is going to be monumental. If you can’t be there-spread the word!! Be an ally for another woman we can talk about these issues just like we talk about everything else and talk about it without shame or fear.

Food as Fuel

When I had my first child is when I researched how to keep my daughter alive practically. I wanted her to be healthy especially since she was a preemie. I ran into articles about Agatha Achindu when she spoke on keeping kids plates colorful and that kids will reject but we can still have them eat foods that are good for them. Fast forward to this moment at Blogher and I am seated in the front. I have a son that eats it all, a daughter (that same one) who loves salads and a smaller child that is caught in the middle but is still introduced to an array of colorful foods. Achindu was joined by Dr. Susan Mitmesser and Chelsea Williams as they talk about eating food for the right reasons. One thing that stuck out to me and I tweeted about it is how when I first went vegan in the very beginning I was fine than I started wanted to try food that mimicked meat and the amounts of calories and things in those foods aren’t always good. Food that is more water based and have more nutritional value is better. It was a gut checked to make sure I took it back to what works for me. In my home personally I have never pushed veganism on anyone. I teach them to eat what’s best for them but eat what’s best for them.

Platform for Good

Guided by Carly Anderson, Dani Donovan, Erin Jackson, and Kendall Rayburn; moderated by Justine Goodman we talked all the things that social media and our audiences are good for. However we all have a responsibility to do the best for others by being authentic and real and that means balancing this need to overdo pictures, etc. as we progress in our influencer journeys. How we move on our networks matter and we owe it to ourselves and the eyes on us to use it responsibly. For instance if we encourage someone to do what they need to do for their health end with a call to action. Don’t just leave it openly and remember that what works for us may not work for others. 

Hollywood on Health

This dynamic panel of speakers had me cracking up. It was made of Lauren Ash, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Rachel Matthews, Kelly McCreary, and Jade Pettyjohn; moderated by Bonnie Fuller. They talked about it all from having fibroids and having to speak up about the fact that if you went to the doctors and you said your arm hurt no doctor would say oh well arms are supposed to hurt but we don’t apply the same to feminine pain and that’s what lead Kelly McCreary to finally get help for her fibroids-well that and her husband was an amazing advocate. Shout out to the men who get it! They talked about the ways that Hollywood is embracing change especially for me specifically on natural hair. Shout out to the women who kept keeping space until now it’s becoming more and more acceptable for people to celebrate their differences and walk in it unashamed!

Wine and Gyn

Minus the wine I actually was sipping Truly– a hard seltzer. I loved the raspberry lime while eating snacks by Hungry Girl. It wasn’t that wine wasn’t available I just went in and divulged on these options. I definitely needed some wine as we talked with Dr. Marcy Crouch, and Dr. Jennifer Lang (moderated by Reshma) on all things like pain during sex or not being able to hold your pee. These are things that many women go through and yet when we mention pelvic floors and Kegels (did you do one?) we don’t talk about the reality that yours or maybe just mine need to be strengthened from them 3 kids I had. Oh just me?! That’s fine. The US is one of the only countries that don’t allow women to rehab their vaginas after major birth etc. 

Life Unfiltered

How much filters do you use on social media? I use them but I do my best to use them sparingly as I don’t need to be walking around and someone can’t recognize me because I don’t have Bambi antlers on my head. Dr. Candace Spann, Maya Howard, Rachel Pitzel, and Britney Vest all discuss this being authentic talk. How far is too far? How much is too much? Do we have a responsibility to say I am not going to airbrush or try too hard to edit my pictures? However we all like a good picture and sometimes we need a little spruce up. The balance is not always easy. 

Blogher University: Working with Brands

We all want to work with brands for the most part. Knowing how to negotiate your contract whether you are starting out from getting products to getting paid and the balance it takes to know how to switch from one to the other is important. They also talked about when its appropriate to know when you are ready for a manager. Working hard to give the brands what they asked and aka what they paid for is key too. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes. When you see someone working with brands you may want to get into it but there is always more to be done behind the scenes to make it all work. Be willing to do the work but stick to being organized when doing so to meet deadlines. 

Leann Rimes sweet angelic voice

Leann talked about her blog and finding the passion and balance to get it done. She talked about the things that she learned in the business and how now she speaks to the things that make sense for her instead of doing things she felt she had to. She also sang us to Jesus in a psychedelic way. She led us into song and it was the most beautiful thing ever. FYI she definitely spoke on being true to yourself. I loved the fact that outside of her singing which none of us thought would even happen she sat literally and talked with us. She poured from her soul. I literally was at her concert here in Philly a few weeks ago and she was sick. Just like a true boss that she is she did her best. Seeing her in the front row and hearing her was one of the best ways to end the night. That and the tacos and wine but it all was the best time. 

Thank you to all sponsors mentioned and not mentioned in this blog-all of them which I am still going through in the grab bag are amazing. I had the best time. Thank you Blogher for having me. I look forward to many more. I can’t wait to continue making some strong relationships with the attendees as well as a lot of the brands too. This was a great way to keep pushing towards my health goals and to encourage others to do the same. This is the time to take care of myself and my brand!!

 

 

 

 

Philly Theatre Week

Philly Theatre Week starts February 6th-16th and will feature the best of the best of some of the most amazing actors and actresses in the city. There is a play for everyone-children, men, women, great date night, Black History focused, and everything else in-between. With that in mind I am linking with several theatres to bring you the best reviews during this exciting time.

Here are my chosen productions and why I choose to review them. I will of course double back as I cross them off my list and report to you which made my personal grade and why. Although I want you to enjoy my reviews I also want you to be a part of the action as well. I am listing each theatre and their respective pages so you can grab a friend or two and immerse yourself into theatre life. These men and women work hard to bring about some of the most amazing productions and to miss them would be a travesty. 

Oh and it’s not just plays there events too from learning the tricks of the trade to readings, and panels. Some events feature food and drinks too. In order to find your way go here!

There you will find all of the events so you can grab your tickets and be ready!

Inis Nua “A hundred words for snow”

Inis Nua is one of my favorite theatres to attend. I attend a lot of their productions all year so I wouldn’t miss a thing during Philly Theatre Week. I will be seeing A hundred words for snow. Although in real life snow is not one of my favorites this production will showcase the grieving process and honoring family wishes. I like to think I am doing the same in my own way. I love one actor productions. They show depth and range and I can’t wait to see how this journey ends. 

Bristol Riverside Theatre King Lear”

King Lear-I wanted to see this early in its production but sadly it’s possible. I will be seeing it in its final run time and date. However it’s about tragedy and there’s a part of me that is drawn to tragedy. I am still figuring that out about myself. However King Lear is a classic and about forgiveness, madness and reconciliation.  I have heard the buzz and now I want take my own look to see how this production matches the buzz.

Bristol Riverside Theatre is also a stunning place. I have always found great help when there, a great welcoming spirit and great snacks as well. If ever you are going, leave early for parking. 

Quintessence Theatre Group “Rachel”

Rachel is all I have been hearing about. The press has been eating it up. One of the things that attracted me to this production has to be that it’s one of the original pieces during the Harlem Renaissance. The author Angelina Weld Grimke was a Black queer writer and it was produced by the NACCP in 1917 by an all-Black cast. I can’t wait to dive in. I will be attending this important piece and the time I am going will also have a question and answer following the production. This will no doubt be great conversations to dissect what it was like for Blacks during that time. I am so proud to be at this production. Also the theatre itself is magnificent. I made my first attendance when I saw the Wizard of OZ this past fall and I can’t wait to see this production its high on my list of must see.

 

Philadelphia Theatre Company  “Everything is Wonderful”

I am from Lancaster and to see a play about am Amish couple who forgives as they deal with the tragedy of their son. They are welcomed by their daughter and something about this appeals to me. I know I sure haven’t thought of myself of someone who could be so forgiving but I have seen it done. Since I am working on bettering myself seeing plays where its possible gives me hope. Also I know quite a few Amish personally and I want to see how far in the faith it goes to showcase their great ability to forgive. 

Dramatist Center presents “A Thin line between love and hate” Rotunda Theatre

I have not ever been to this production although I have seen the original movie. This will be a great production of the over obsession one woman goes after she meets a charming man who isn’t ready to fully commit. I expect it to be funny, witty, and have a lot of drama. I might take the hubby with me to see this one. As much as we both enjoyed the movie I know we will laugh our way. You know some women never can tell the difference between the two. 

“Ruth and Estelle; A sequins of Fortunate events” Bagel place

One who doesn’t love bagels and drinks? I do. With that I was intrigued to see what exactly something called an ‘educomedy” would produce through unique story telling. I was told that once I see this I will never un-see it and for great reasons. I was also told that I would feel like the two actors were like my best friend even if it’s in my head. For that reason I love to see stories told in bold format to match my bold personality. I have never been to the Bagel place but I feel like once there I will be back. 

I love Alice Curio Theatre

The Curio is one of the theatres that I frequent. I tried to match my schedule to make room for all but unfortunaly I am only one person. With that in mind I can’t wait to see how two women make some headlines for kissing each other in Ireland. I know now it may not be that big a deal but back in time it was taboo. The LGBTQ community have always been under attack and I love to see people authentic in their love choices and how they push past all odds to love on purpose since love is love. Oh both women are named Alice so this should be good. 

Philly Improv Theatre “Free Improve Jam” Adrienne Theatre

This is a free improve jam and I am nervous. I have zero experience but I know that since growing up in theatre most of life, the guts it takes to perform of an audience is something that I want to add to my plate. Not that I plan on showing up in front of a large audience but expanding my fear gates to close fear out is one of those things that will help me in all areas of life especially blogging. So I can’t wait to see how I do and I can’t wait to have some fun 

 As my schedule permits I want to add so many more that’s how wonderful the theatre circuit is here in Philadelphia. Be on the lookout for the reviews as they come in and I attend and also get you some tickets! Congrats to all who will be putting on for the city!! I can’t wait!!

Shout out to all the sponsors!!

 

 

 

Blogher Part 2: Winning for Women with PaciraxBlogher; Nature Made Social Hour 

Since I wasn’t gifted Megan Thee Stallion’s knees for Christmas like I had asked so after Soul Cycle I had to go and relax and rest. After which it was time to get to the Presentation, Winning for Women; A modern approach to Tackling Your Health which was a collaboration with Pacira Biosciences and Blogher. This was another invite only presentation that I was so glad I attended!

It started out with The Class with Sophie Kos. I like to describe The Class as partial stretching, partial workout; partial mediation, and partial out of this world experience. Not only had I not taken The Class before I hadn’t even heard of it. To protect everyone’s vulnerability and mine I have zero pictures. This for me wasn’t a take a pic experience. It was one of those be present moments that I hadn’t had in a while. Unlike a traditional class it was about tapping into yourself and finding out what you wanted out of the room, the space, and the evening. Sophie has a Rockstar personality and I will be taking this class digitally starting next week. I need this week to get through my severe jetlag. Apparently, my Fitbit still hasn’t joined me in the East Coast, and I am grateful for my body’s natural alarm clock or else I would be late for all things.

This is how I came not knowing what to expect for The Class

#onelesspill

I know that I have for one had way too many surgeries to name. Every surgery even my C-Sections I have asked for alternatives to opioids and never got them outside of Tylenol. I have had quite a few people that I know get addicted to them and it was always my desire to not rely on them. It wasn’t about me being a mayry for pain. I really do not like the way they feel. I have had even severe reactions to them in the past and for that alone I have asked and now I realize that I probably should have asked these questions prior to having surgery. I also should have gotten a new doctor. It’s important to be able to have a relationship with your doctor that is about supporting your choices. #onelesspill was a discussion about the alternatives like nerve blocks, numbing creams, and other methods to help patients recover in the high point of their pain management.

I stay ready so I don’t have to get ready!

Ask the Doctor

Dr. Alicia Warlick was phenomenal in letting us know that yes,we can ask for non-opioid medication that really do work and help in times for instance of a c-section. I had no idea there was a cream or pain blocker that would have given me 4 hours of relief without using an opioid. I think secretly I was sitting there a little mad too. I know that women sometimes don’t ask because they may not feel supported or feel that there are options. I asked and was told this is aka using an opioid was the only way for maximum pain management. I wish I was given the opportunity to try out another option for myself. Also,blessings to Jennifer Wysong who ended up having her life turned around after being addicted to them. She made some bad decisions along the way and I am sure had she known there were other options she too would have taken the advantage of trying. I don’t know if someone needs to hear this: not all people who abuse them are homeless and down and out. We must dismantle this mindset. Its regular people like you and me who have all intentions of using them properly but can get caught up in these highly addictive  medications.

Pictured from left to right: Sophie Kos, Dr. Alicia Warlick, Jennifer Wysong, and Reshma Gopaldas

Options Anyone?

So now that we know that there are other options, now what? Do we say that’s nice and continue? No not me. I want to be an advocate if a loved one is going to have surgery be that a tooth extraction or a serious gastrological issue and be there to ask the questions about ALL the options available. Help a friend that in the height of their pain be an advocate where they can’t speak up for themselves. Would you stand in the gap to help your loved one? Our health is important and especially for women who are that more likely to endure some form of surgery than a man. We need people speaking up to offer an alternative instead of being the loud voice in the room when one of us like Jennifer is messed up on them to offer a dirty look. 

Let’s stop someone in their tracks before it takes over their lives. Women we have a unique responsibility to advocate for ourselves and encourage the women around us to do the same. Where I could go into a room and say I want other options and with the right doctor in place get it, there are so many women who don’t even have the information to make an informed decision. SO, if you are going to have any procedure done, ask the following;

How long is the recovery process?

What are my options during recovery?

What if one pain management isn’t working what is the backup plan?

Vet your doctors well ahead of time. In emergency have someone who can be your voice. Have documents ready that express your voice as well. 

#asktheopiodquestion

#nonopiodrelief

Thank you Pacira and Blogher for opening my eyes to the options I had NO idea existed but not that I know I will take the knowledge and help others be more informed about their health choices.

Also, as always you can never come to an event held by Blogher without amazing food and drinks.

Nature Made Social Hour 

I want to take the time to shout out Nature Made for the Nature Made Social! I loved my flowers. Due to traveling via plane I made a beautiful bouquet and gave them to my cousin. Vibrant colors that I hope made her day. With socializing comes amazing drinks like my favorite, The Elderberry Fizz. It was made with Vodka, fresh elderberry syrup, fresh lemon juice and topped with soda water. Why an Elderberry drink? Easy answer-it’s the name of their Elderberry gummi. Nature made was the ONLY prenatal pill I could take with all 3 of my pregnancies so I may sound a bit like a hype girl when I say that I stand behind their products. They are quality tested, and their gummies are amazing. Each participant during the main Blogher program took home a bottle. I took two. The taste is great. It helps with keeping your immune system healthy. So, when you see me taking them, mind my business and ask. I will help point you into the right direction on where to get you some. A plug for CVS is with their coupons I never pay full price so that I can always keep Nature Made flowing in my home. You can find them at the store of your choosing like Walmart, Target or even Walgreens. 

We sipped the night away with some of the best food. I need someone to mail me or give me the recipe to the green veggie dip. I think me and some of the other ladies unapologetically made a few stops to the veggie tray just for the dip. 

 

Blogher Health 20: Part 1; Invitae-Heart Health

I am so blessed and honored to have attended the Blogher Health 20! The amazing conversations and knowledge alone. The Blogher Health is a one day event for women inspiring women in the form of engaging in health related real and raw conversations and advice. Held in Los Angeles women from all over traveled near and far to be apart of this event!

In addition to the one day event there is also some invite only events and I was happy to be apart. Before I get into it let’s talk about the reason for Blogher Health. Blogher Health is to bring women together who want to make the appropriate changes in their health and how they move within themselves to outreach to others. So a lot of lifestyle, wellness, food, etc. bloggers and influencers are attracted to this event. Blogher brings in the best from doctors, health advocates for both mind and body, nutritionists and workout enthusiasts to help motivate women to tap into themselves. They teach us to bring out the best of ourselves as we influence others to do the same. So how exactly can you motivate the motivator?

Heart Health

One of the leading causes of death especially among women is heart disease. Invitae specializes in medical grade genetic testing to assist in diagnosing how genetics play a large part in how we live. Even though physical activity helps to decrease our chances in having heart related problems, genetics is the key player we don’t talk about. Invitae and Blogher invited a few of us to take part in a Soul Cycle class at Soul Cycle in Santa Monica.

Full disclosure I haven’t done Soul Cycle since last year. When I first started a few years ago I got hooked quick and found myself taking quite a full schedule of classes. Just like we learned at Blogher Health, balance is key. I was excited to take this class after a break but I was super nervous. Rebecca our amazing teacher walked in the door with amazing energy. She introduced herself to me and Lindsay and I knew we were in great hands! By the way follow both women they are super dope! As always I made a whole Blogher Health 20 highlight on my Instagram for you to check out! I will be also breaking down each event and a recap video!!! This was too good not to share!

As with many Soul Cycle Classes, often times the class isn’t just about a workout out but it’s a journey of self expression and motivation. Rebecca was right there to remind us how bad ass we really are. From the music, meditation, and the push she helped us unlock the power within us to push through and make the class well worth it. It gave me the courage to not only take this picture but post it!

Never have I ever posted myself in a sports bra! Yup not at a size 8/10 or a 2! Confidence isn’t about size it’s about tapping into your inner bad ass and owning it! Also if you’re following me you know that Invitae will donate $10 for every post that tags them and includes #whoholdsyourheart to a heart organization! I’m encouraging women to post and post and post! They are donating up to $10,000 and that’s something I can get behind!

The staff of Invitae was present as well and it was good to talk to them intimately about their mission. They sponsored the event as well as made sure they took care of all that we needed including lunch and refreshments. Who doesn’t love avocado toast?! I know I do! Shout out to AvocaToast By Lizzy for some of the best avocado toast I’ve ever had! Oh and for the best green juices we have to give that title to Main Squeeze Juice Co! My favorite definitely was the ginger, lemon, apple and cayenne pepper. Fresh and smooth definitely has me hooked. The only down side is they are locked in LA and Texas!

You know I love a great grab bag especially one with an amazing cause…

Simple reminders of heart health is what we need. We are our biggest assets and whether or not I can’t feel my legs is neither here nor there. What does matter is that small steps to increase movement is what we need to add into our lives. Checking into our genetics to answer those hard questions of why after working out and eating right isn’t helping-genetics could be the key player into our heart health! I encourage all of you to get a check up. Ask questions and be proactive in what you do with the information you find. I know it seems scary to ask but what’s more scary is not asking and having time not be on your side!

Also can we also take the time to shout out One Hope wine. I love wine! If you have been following me you know this already. One Hope Wine is the company that not only produces great tasting wine but they donate towards The Hearts Foundation that supports early detection, and heart research! So each bottle is giving others the opportunity to be heart healthy. I can definitely drink to that! Oh and red wine has been linked to producing antioxidants that lead to heart health and decrease inflammation.

Thank you to Blogher, Invitae, AvocaToast by Lizzy, Main Squeeze, One Hope, Rebecca and the staff of Soul Cycle for an amazing morning and reminder of taking our hearts health a little more seriously…who holds your heart? Let Invitae know by tagging them and use the hashtag #whoholdsyourheart

For me it’s my kids and husband…..

Blogher had a little more for us…….

Leda and the Swan

I had the opportunity to attend the Media VIP party for Leda and the Swan. This is one of the first bars that I will say tested my Penn State drinking tests. This is a great thing. The drinks alone make them stand out if you can get pass the eye dropping flowers dropping from the ceiling. Its absolutely a stunning venture. 

I am not surprised of the care taken into this new hot spot as its also the owners of the Vesper Day club, Derek Gibbons and Tim Lu (Glu Hospitality). It’s a mix of senses when you step into the venue for the first time. I want to take you through a quick run-down. When you walk in the bar meets you. The staff was wonderful. On media days the place is packed but each bartender paid close attention to each of us. They handled drinks and orders flawlessly. I always watch how they handle everyone as that matters. As a blogger I like to do my research, but I think about myself as a consumer and some of the very issues that some bars have this one doesn’t. Also, while seated we were greeted numerous times even taken more drink orders as well. 

Pictured left to right Elle aka Sip on What and Cherryl aka Phillyfoodgal

Leda and the Swan is in Midtown Village on 1224 Chestnut Street. Pay attention to the sign as I almost missed it. Granted it was a media preview and they had it closed off for the public. It’s a few blocks away from Macy’s I would suggest parking in a garage or using a car service like Uber or Lyft. Its 2500 square feet of fun that includes a 25 foot bar. It’s a mix of elegance, art, and culture and it done well. I wanted to know more about the name, and I found out that they took the naming of Leda and the Swan on Greek mythology where Zeus transformed into a swan and seduces Leda. It’s an intimate space that will allow you to have fun, enjoy a crowd and have an amazing time from live entertainment and DJ after hours. 

So, what’s a bar without drinks? Just a plain venue and Leda and the Swan is not your average bar and night spot for sure. For research purposes I tried quite a few drinks. Keep in mind I didn’t consume them all because well we will get to that later….

Lilith

This is a mix of Blanco Tequila, Lillet, Beet shrub, Lemon, sea salt and cracked pepper

Shiro

Mezcal, Togarashi, Ginger, Lemon and Cucumber

Leeds Devil

Rye, Cynar, Averna, Luxardo, Grand Marnier, Madagascarvanilla

Trobairitz

Grey Goose, sparking wine, pink peppercorn syrup, Yuzu Bergamot tincture

Cursed Creator

Plata Tequila, Cynar, Suze, Lime, Pomegranate

I enjoyed the food. If you want food, you if you’re having a private event can have it done by Vesper and Raw. However, for the Media event I enjoyed the sushi and the sliders.

This new addition is sure to be the talk of the town. As I stated if you are looking for weak drinks, this is not your spot. The signature drinks are $14 each and are worth the coin and more. From first sip to your last its truly an experience. Be mindful of that as you enjoy your evening. Leda and the Swan opens today, Friday January 31, at 5pm just in time for a great happy hour. Grab a few friends and a couple of loved ones and let me know what you think? As for me, I got to continue drinking my water so I can be ready for the next round. Thanks to Leda and the Swan for the warm welcome and of course Aversa PR!