Behind Closed Doors: Dominique Morisseau’s Mud Row Review

Sometimes you never absolutely know what’s happens behind closed doors. What people present is only their representative. We all have things that we hold on that we are fighting. Things that are or have been said, unforgiveness, pain, generational challenges, etc. that has helped to shape and mold us one way or another.

From Mud Row in East End of West Chester is a story of sisters fighting for their place. Elsie is consumed with stature and being in the elite class. It’s in the elite class that she will have redemption and make a way for her future daughter. Her sister Frances is willing to join those on the front line to freedom for Blacks. Her strong will to carve a better way by any means is her saving grace. These sisters bump heads on how they plan on serving the future of their family.

Fast forward and you have Regine who is well educated and some might even say through her education she has followed her Mother’s script to the T on becoming an elitist however don’t call her an elitist because she has worked hard to get where she is today! Enter Toshi who takes after her aunt Frances, she’s a fighter in a sense. She believes in taking things by force-even if that strong motivation has gotten her into a world of personal chaos and turmoil. She appears to be problematic because no one wants to acknowledge she may have areas to work out but instead of seeing past what her actions show she’s ignore and passed over.

Without spoiling what actually happens I will speak on what “Mud Row” spoke to me. In every family especially with siblings is this fight to be the chosen one. The one whom everyone calls on to be a success story. It can make for great sibling rivalry but then there’s also the sibling who doesn’t go down the “correct” path. The looking down on why aren’t you more “like” the other while never dealing with internal issues that may have placed them on the path they are on. No accountability into the pain that is almost birthed down to a child. The quiet fights within a person that they have no way of escaping.

I think about my own childhood home. The stories good and bad are within those walls. Every failure I have ever made is there. Every success is there. All the conversations and fights that built me up and tore me down are there. What happened when I moved? It may have stayed there but like most of us those issues travel to our next home along with us. Homes tell stories not of just how they were built but of the folks that lived within them. Why a person acts or reacts has a lot to do with their upbringing and what took place within the walls they called home. A house is but a home is a recurring theme and it will be challenged!

We are sometimes walking traumas. Even if the home you once knew is no longer there trust me in one way or another they are well alive in your life. How about the fact that at one time blacks couldn’t even own a home. The blood, sweat, and tears that many before us to keep their homes are then passed down to generations. Some think that selling those homes are a great idea. What about our great great grandparents and beyond who knew the value of what they owned due to the work it took to get it? How do we sell or keep these memories alive?

My own grandmother literally has been in her home my entire life. She worked her butt off to make sure my mother and aunt wound have a place of their own so they would never have to have someone control their living arrangements. “Mud Row” is a place of freedom where blacks weren’t able to own before. It’s one of the first developments of home ownership for African Americans. It’s important to have this play as genetrification is becoming more and more prevalent today!

Mud Row is an important story that highlights one family in their home that tells more than just ownership but redemption through turmoil. Both sets of sisters needing one another to be who they are and to heal. Is healing possible when you have been apart for so long? What about hearing and listening! Sometimes we hear or see what we want to believe without really ever hearing or seeing.

I highly recommend this play to be on the top of your go see. It is best suited for teenagers and up. There are briefly scenes of violence, cursing, and some scenes may be triggering for individuals who have any issues of familiar turmoil. I would say even if you are in a family turmoil it may be a great thing to watch to aid towards healing. There are scenes that will make some uncomfortable to watch as scenes of police brutality is touched as well. I watched the gasp from the audience. I felt tears in my eyes during many scenes. I felt the realness of pain when you’re trying you’re best but can’t get family members to see past the you they experienced of you. I felt the fear security of trying to be in a stable environment.

My best friends family is from West Chester. I’ve been several times there and didn’t know the history of East End or Mud Run! I enjoyed seeing this piece and you will too! Thank you People’s Light and Carrie Gorn for the invite. I walked away doing some soul searching of my own in how I can “build” better relationships with family. I walked away so profound I found myself speaking with a group of older women who spoke to me in a way I had only experienced with my great grandparents as a kid. That good conversation where you talk about the “good times” and the elders speak wisdom over you! When an elder speaks and it “stops” you in your tracks because you hear wisdom giving you the only answers that an elder can give!

You can see Mud Row until August 4th by purchasing tickets here! Peoples Light is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern PA 19355!

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Week 4: Storr Summer Adventures

So I can’t believe we have made it through the first month of Summer! 4 weeks down and over! I’m grateful for the opportunity to work, do what I love and be with my kids! I’ve been calling it work boss, mom boss and camp mommy all in one! So how much did I spend? Drum roll please, $77.70! We almost got close to $80 but we made it! Let’s break this down!

Monday

We decided to stick to old faithful! I started my morning with a 5am run and if I’m super honest in order to not burn out from being super active these days I have to make a list of work items and household movement to keep my eyes open and body going! So we went to Legoland! It’s a great place for me to move around with them as well as keeping the kids to moving as well! I love that we were able to watch 4D movies. It’s one is my favorite parts of Legoland. You get water splashed on you, fog, etc. They spent hours there that since I didn’t have an event we also spent an hour at the park allowing me more workout time and then play time!

We packed a snack for the kids but of course I didn’t grab anything to drink so I had to stop and get all of us something to drink and that set us back 11.83 at Auntie Annie’s Pretzel!

Tuesday

We took our mini Spider-Man fan to see Spider-Man Far from Home! You know that meant $5 AMC with our $5.00 snacks! We loved the movie and can’t wait to see the next one! We didn’t get pics since we were running late and by the time we were done it was hot we made our way back to the car and got home in the air conditioning! It was way too hot for the park today! We did have lunch and I had an event at The Deck! today’s today was $40.87!

Wednesday

We elected to have a late evening activity instead of an earlier day! I’m seeing a pattern these last few weeks of doing more work on Wednesdays and my kids have been adjusting really well. At our church they had an ice-cream social that honored Father Corley who recently passed. He always loved this event and always organized it! In addition to the fact that Father Corley loved this social he also was the Darby Police Departments’ Pastor so many officers attended! They interacted with the kids and even allowed them to play with the lights and sirens! The ice-cream social was a dollar per person. I gave a flat $10 total spent for the day!

By the time the social was over, the kids definitely were wired up with all of the ice-cream toppings that it took them quite some time to settle down! We allowed them to stay up a little longer!

Thursday

It was time to go to our weekly library trip! The kids completed their weekly reading in addition to their book reports for school! They were rewarded a toy and a new book from the Free Library of Philadelphia weekly reading adventure! My kids have been knocking out the park by getting a mix of books to learn about their culture as well as books that spark their individual interest! So far they are averaging about 5-6 books a week! Naila the oldest decided to slow it down with bigger chapter books and we are challenged to read together! It also allowed me to start and complete all laundry!

It rained so hard on Thursday that once we got back from the library they wanted to relax and start reading! I also attended the Sofitel Philadelphia happy hour and showcasing of Janice Telestar: “French Kiss.” No money was spent today!

Friday

Since it was coming to the close of the week we elected to go to McDonald’s for their food and we swam for 2 hours! Swimming is just one of those activities that is always a great idea! McDonald’s cost a flat $15 with my coupons and ended up being the only money spent as we packed snacks and drinks from home for the ride home!

So between Legoland, library, movies, lunch, ice-cream social, the park and swimming each day we were on the go!! The kids are also utilizing my work time to get their reading time completed and they are surpassing my personal reading goals for them. With events I was able to have me time, impromptu date nights, and even though it doesn’t seem clear some personal rest time! It takes a lot to keep it moving and I’m always checking in with myself to find ways to create balance so we can keep moving!

Let’s see what week 5 brings!

Monday Motivation: Open Heart

So happy Monday! First let’s be grateful for waking up! If you can read this you are on the right path. We forget that life is but a vapor. We spend more time upset over small things. Shift the mind! I am grateful for waking up! I am grateful for another opportunity to make an amazing path!

With that being said what if you woke up with a closed heart. A closed heart that doesn’t see good in anyone. An open heart that isn’t open to love and living a full life! That has to be a hard place to live in. I used to live like that. Everyday argumentative and angry. It’s a draining way to live! When your heart is open to the right things you can overcome all kinds of obstacles. You can push through difficult moments even when you feel like no answers are near.

When your heart is open to the right things even in dark times you can hold onto light! I’ve had many times where someone has said something to me that alerted me to what was inside of me all along. My heart was able to receive someone speaking hope into my hopeless situation. It’s a blessing to keeping your heart open! When you have closed off your heart it seems like everything and everyone is against you. You find fault in everything all the time and often times you’re not able to take accountability! Today during your Monday shuffle; find ways to open your heart. It could in how you shift from a complaining spirit to a grateful one. One time I had mere dollars if you could call it that. My want or needs list was higher than the money to take care of them. I wanted to be mad as if it was the moneys fault. I took a deep breath and wrote what I could do to proceed in my day in the right mindset and in a matter of hours, money didn’t appear but provision did. This meant what I needed came in ways I wouldn’t have had room to mentally conceive until I shifted my heart to be open!

I hope that if you feel hopeless that you would understand that it’s a dark moment not a dark life. Your moment isn’t a permanent life choice. Things do and always turn. The worse thing you have gotten into you have always managed to come out on the other side so whatever has your heart closed, release it! Replace it with hope of the future and that doesn’t mean months and years-we talking about your today and now! Take charge to let go and open your heart!

Happy Bastille Day: Ardmore Bastille Block Party

One thing that I enjoyed this past spring was my trip to Paris. Seeing up close how the culture and the people mesh is nothing but a once in a lifetime adventure. With first hand knowledge of how the French love and treat others I was more than happy to attend Ardmore Bastille Block Party! It was a mix of everything France with music, food, drinks, entertainment, and even things for the kids to go as well! Also it’s the first in Ardmore and I hope they continue this worthy celebration for years to come! Let me break it down for you! Special thanks to Delice Et Chocolate and The Bercy for joining forces to bring the Best of the Best of France to the Mainline!

Wine Garden

The Bercy made sure those who wanted to rosé all day definitely was able to. Sponsored by Veuve Clicquot drink selections included rosé, champagnes, and sparkling wines. Tickets were $20 in advance and $25 on location. Anytime drink offerings are available my high suggestion is to take it! If you plan on having at least 2-3 drinks they become well worth it and it was drink as you like which meant for each ticket you could continue drinking until last call. Its definitely cost effective to drink!

For non alcoholic drinkers The Bercy had a cucumber limeade that was amazing good and refreshing!!

Thank you Cory you were an amazing server with amazing personality!!

The Bercy also had a brunch that was available from 10-3pm! This was an all you care to eat buffet style brunch and definitely worth it. We elected to eat inside of the Bercy and let me tell you it was well worth it! They have a great selection of food and their kids menus is more than I bargained for-it’s super great! I took my 3 kids and my niece and all of them got different options. From a cheeseburger, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese to the butter noodles each meal came with fresh fruit, fresh veggies, fries and a chocolate chip cookie. No child left hungry! Special shout out to the staff who went and above taking care of their needs as well as the adults!

I decided to have the Quiche Du Jour which was amazing! My husband had “The Bercy Burger.” He had nothing but raves over this burger. He asked for it to be well done however at some places well down means non juicy and over cooked-not at The Bercy! It was the best he’s ever had!!!! My quiche was outstanding I have zero regrets!

Delice Et Chocolat

If you ever been to Paris you know they are known for some of the most amazing treats! From croissants to macaroon and chocolate-it’s amazing! I took my oldest kids and we had a blast enjoying these French treats! From the first bite to the last I wasn’t disappointed. It took me back to my Paris trip and on Bastille this couldn’t have been any better! I had some amazing croissants when I attended the Ardmore Preview a few weeks ago and I knew if ever I was missing Paris that Delice Et Chocolat is and will always be my go to!

The Parlour

The icecream supplied by Parlour ice cream shop is always a great treat. Mom hack-they have a mini cone that is only $1 that in my opinion is more than enough for little and big hands. Today’s feature was mint chocolate chip and caramel pretzel!

Entertainment

We didn’t just walk around eating and drinking. Even if we had it would have been more than amazing! Shout out to the can can dancers From Philadelphia Academy of Ballet! They were more than amazing-check out my Instagram for their performance! These beautiful ladies were in sync and everyone loved them!

French Cooking

This blues band was so amazing! I loved them. They had the crowds swinging! My kids surprised me when they just stopped what they were doing to start dancing! Trust me as soon as I heard them I came out of the Delice Et Chocolat to hear them. They are from New York and have such a southern sound that I enjoyed!

Face painting!

Who doesn’t love face painting? I do! My kids and I were able to have our face painted by Mudroom! You can stop at Mudroom to do some amazing crafts any time their open!

Between crafts, drinks, food, music, can can dancers, and all around Sunday Funday-Bastille Day was an amazing celebration of love and freedom and I’m glad I was able to join in all the fun! Thank you Aversa PR, Admore Initiatives, The Bercy, The Parlour, Mudroom and Delice Et Chocolat!

So now I know you’re thinking how much you missed. Well don’t be! This is all a great prelude to Ardmore Restaurant week where you can definitely stop in to The Bercy and Delice Et Chocolat or others by clicking on the link and stopping in!

Week 3 Summer Adventures Break Down

So it’s week 3 or should I say it was week 3 and also 4th of July week so in my mind it was a short week which meant more fun! I enjoyed week 3 as we tried to switch it up a bit! So how much did we spend?! Drum roll please…..68.23!!!!! Oh yes I keep challenging myself and it feels amazing to save and have a ball so let’s break it down:

Monday

So with it being 4th of July this week there were a lot of events in the city for free. We decided to go to a Photo Pop Philly from 9-11 and it was free. I attended Photo Pop Philly in blogger mode before it opened as a preview but to attend it in mom mode was just as fun. It felt great to see some more of the interactive photo extravaganza.

Let me remind you that once there you can take pictures, gifs, and video in over 20 high quality photo spreads. I was able to get shots of them and me individually and collectively because the staff is on point and are there to get your angles. Also should out to Phillyfoodgal for the info and meeting up with us as well!!

The kids absolutely loved it! With that day also being free museum day the parking was tight. I spent $23 dollars in the parking deck. Since I didn’t pack a snack for the kids they of course opted to get ice-cream from Philly Scoopdeville! Shout out to the staff they were so welcoming. I have had their ice-cream before and blogged it but it was the kids first time! I know they will be asking me to take them back. I was able to get 2 medium cups and split it into 4 smalls for the win! I got a vegan blueberry and the kids all got Cookie Monster! The total was $15.81!

Also keep in mind the theme for Photo Pop Philly is Sweet Paradise! Philly Scoopdeville has collaborated with Photo Pop Philly for the Sweet Paradise flavor that you can get at the Bourse!

So super backwards we ended up heading home for lunch but hey everyone has room for ice-cream right?!

Tuesday

Today was jam packed! It was time for a visit to our local library! We went to Eastwick Library. Let me be honest. I’ve gone to many libraries in Philadelphia but I kept bypassing the one close to us. Not sure why but boy once I walked in I was taken back. It’s beautiful in there and the staff is amazing. They have a summer reading program that rewards them for reading and other summer fun with books and prizes! Also we were able to get in addition to their summer book list for book reports but other books as well. We will be adding this into the rotation weekly! Each kid got one free book and a prize as well as 30 books combined. Oh and yes they have read them! When there’s down time it’s reading time!

Also we got free passes to the Philadelphia Museum of Art! I definitely will be utilizing these passes in the coming weeks!

I was going to add in bowling today but we had to go to a birthday party as well as pay our respects to Monsignor Corley and it would have been too much!

Rita’s

You know I love me some Rita’s! It’s always a fun time getting water ice. The kids and I love it! This time I was armed with coupons!! So we spent 12.71 and got 3 large gelati and I got a regular water ice! Insert happy dance. This week, they had unicorn and you know kids love anything unicorn flavored!

Monsignor Corley

He’s been such a jewel to our family. He was our priest/pastor. He called himself both to our family. I personally met him a few years ago. My husband is Catholic and I’ve been raised Baptist and Non-Denominational all my life. I had never heard of any positive thing about Catholics. I know it sounds bad but it’s the truth. It comes from pure ignorance to be honest. I think the miscommunication and misconception was knocked out the park when I met Father Corley.

He knew I wasn’t Catholic and he told me straight up, I don’t care what name is on the religion how someone treats others different from them will tell you what you need to know about a person. He was right. Father Corley took our family and treated us like family. When my mother in law passes he told us not to worry he was grandpa Corley and he kept his word! He was there for my children in ways I can’t ever explain. He encouraged my husband and I to be faithful as well as gave us amazing marital counseling. He was the one that would call our cells and make sure we were okay. Losing him was devastating. However today we made sure to pay our respect to him!

The service I took the kids too was just enough for them. My oldest elected not to view Father Corley because it was too much and reminded her of her Mom Mom! I respected that! I had her wait for me in the back and we were able to see several of her teachers which made her happy! My younger two kids did great! My son was down but I was glad that we were scheduled to attend Sonny’s birthday party afterwards!

Happy Birthday Akira and Sonny

Thank you Akira and Kenny for inviting us to the mother and son joint party! The amount of care that was put into this super hero 1st birthday party was amazing! Sonny turned one and they had a party for for the little king he is!

Sonny and his dad; Kenny

Shout out to @thehandsthatgodmade for the face painting…. She was amazing and patient and so bomb!

Shout out to Impressed by MC! Hands down they did their thing to ensure Sonny’s party was amazing! Check them out by clicking on the link! Look at the detail:

So from the library, to Rita’s, to the funeral and to the party, which was held at Smith Playground the kids ran and ran and when it was bed time…they were out like a light!

And one of the highlights was Iron Man provided by @bouncys1_onwheels!

Malia; Sonny’s big sister!

Tuesday was definitely filled with a lot and I was hoping they would want to relax but….the way they are set up…

Wednesday

So I knew that we would be in Lancaster for the 4th I took them to the pool! Nothing is better than being in the pool for 2 hours. I use it to do water aerobics and swim. Afterwards we play at the park while I walk! It made for a great day! Since we did grocery shopping in the morning I took them to McDonald’s for lunch. I spent 16.71!

4th of July: Thursday

We spent it in Lancaster! It was great! To add we also got a chance to see my grandma; my mother’s mom! Having us all there was amazing. The kids had cousin time and I sibling time as well as a great drive there and back! We also went to the fireworks display in Philly since we got back in enough time! I love my grandma and this makes 2 times I’ve seen her this year! So I am a happy girl!!

Friday

Between the long week and the drive and letting them stay up late; it was a much needed down day! No work or no events we had fun running errands and hanging out!

So let’s add:

Parking: 23

Philly Scoopdeville: 15.81

Rita’s: 12.71

McDonald’s: 16.71

Total: 68.23 for a week of immense fun and outings for one adult and 3 kids!! Let’s see how we do next week!! I plan to rotate some activities and add a new activity as well!!

Monday Motivation: Gratefulness

Every now and again I think it’s important to speak our gratefulness and not just around Thanksgiving. Being grateful is something you walk!

When I was in my most depressive moods I would complain about air. That might be a stretch but the reality is ungratefulness was deep in my spirit and therefore it would come out of my mouth. Spending so much time saying what’s wrong comes out in how you walk. How? You can’t even gravitate towards good things looking at the bad things. It’s draining and it’s defeating!

Like for instance I was up at 4am to do my 5 am run. It was dark and by the time I started running I could see the rain coming! I didn’t check the weather before I left so I had only my headband but no hat. Before I could complain I thought about the fact that one I was up and had met my group on time despite finding my running belt and reflectors last minute. I was up with no help of my alarm. I was up in my right mind. I have the ability to run! There was and is no reason to be in negative land.

On my last leg of my run I said my extended prayer. Every run I do, I pray. It allows me communication with God. It allows me to speak my truth and my heart in the quietness of the morning. I needed to be reminded to take it easy and be grateful for the blessings around me. As I transported my twin to work this morning I saw a woman who I noticed last week sleeping outside. She’s been there for about a week! I don’t know her story or why she’s there! What I know is that here I am in a car full of gas, with my coffee and dry while she’s in the elements and outside where any and everything can happen to her. One I pray her situation is better and two may I do all I can do to stay focused on what is to come and not on what is happening!

So as you start this morning, have you started the complain game? Have you started focusing on what you don’t have or want? Have you said thank you for your life? Have you said thank you for your job? Have you been grateful? If not start now! Start changing the conversation of your life. Start walking in gratitude. Start being a testament to others around you of gratefulness. People would love your portion and yet you can’t see it because your focus is not in tune! Make the change towards gratefulness! Be grateful for you, the things around you, and show that to someone else today!

Catch UP

So it’s been a minute. I will be blogging a gambit of Ask Toi questions in the next few days! Also I will be posting week 3 of the kids and I summer adventures! I needed to check in with you all on a person check In and not just a mommy cheek in as it’s been these last few weeks outside of work! So life has been interesting.

As always I have a lot of events coming up. I love being on the go! Outside of a sinus affection that I had that I thought was an allergy fit life has been doing well. For the past few weeks I had been getting seriously sick like the type of sick where I had to say no to a few events. You know how much I love being out and about in the Summer. One thing I will say is Philadelphia has it going on all year long and the Summer is just pure magic. Anyone saying I have nothing to do is legitimately in a mental funk. Trust me I understand that too as I’ve talked openly about my life and anxiety or complaining instead of being proactive. I get it!

Between blog events and being out and about I have to say that I too have been making my mental health a priority! It’s important for me to find moments of slow down. I have had to call a friend a day behind, or say no to an event, pick and choose if I can go to a family member’s house or just say no I need a regroup moment! Why? Cause just because things seem light doesn’t mean that I don’t have moments of insanity!

This year I have set out to find my biological dad and that has brought a set of triggers for me I didn’t know I had! Like for instance because my step dad who I only call for reasons of clarity step has been in my life since around 5 people have said to me why? Why do you need to close or open this chapter? It’s simple, I want to! I’ve a grown woman who still has questions inside of her that may not ever be answered but I have to find them for myself. I have found out more and more about the character of my biological father than any other time in my life!

It’s been rewarding and challenging at the same time. Also let me be clear this is my story to tell. I’m not entertaining anyone telling me how I should feel about the story or a should you write about it speech either! I’m 38 I think I’ve given parties involved a time to create the story they wanted me to accept! Now it’s my time. No sugar coating is going into effect! Plain and simple my biological father has not only failed me but my other siblings! I have quite a few and still gathering information. I think as a kid I’ve had it in my head that things would magically fuse as they do in the movies. It’s what I wanted! However the turns have shown that this will be more like a reality show than a loving movie! The mere fact that I’m seeking him when he’s not seeking me is already trigger enough. There are many like me who still want to know why. I’ve talked to those closest to him I may not never get an answer.

Also with balance of my biological dad its made me look at the way I parent my own kid. What do I want them to do? What do I want to leave for them. Do I plan to be honest and open with them? The answer is absolutely yes! If the stuff I got into is just to be a testimony to them then so be it! You see the Preachers Kid moment there? It’s important for me to be clear in what I can offer my children in support and love!

Also I’ve been noticing that I’m easily angered lately. I don’t know if it’s changes happening around me is making me that way but please believe I got my therapist on hand. I am working through it. I’m calling my stuff to the rug when things happen because I believe whatever is happening has to start with me first. I had someone ask for forgiveness that I wouldn’t have received from years ago! That’s growth! Despite the growth I’m still human dealing with life no matter how pretty the filter, you can’t filter life!

As this journey with my biological father unfolds I will share as I profess. I like to take my time with these steps to be sure I’ve dealt with them offline before I share them online. Other aspects of life are always changing. Many moments Ido well with change and other times I don’t! Sometimes, I would say most times I handle my anxiety extremely well and other times I have blow ups. However even when I feel like I’m having a moment I still feel better equipped now than before to recognize my triggers, handle them alone, and remove myself from them!!

Hoping anyone who is dealing with the ups and downs of life can relate and process!!