Philadelphia Zoo and the New Gorilla Tree House

When you think about the zoo of course animals come to mind. There is no zoo without them. Providing the animals a place that is safe, clean, and gives them a better space to thrive is important to their well being. The Philadelphia Zoo is doing all they can to ensure the needs of the animals are their top priority. With that being said, the new Gorilla Tree House aids in the Gorillas having enough space to roam and play.

This 20 foot structure is everything that the gorillas need to play, eat, and have the time of their lives! I was there as I watched the gorillas interact with each other. They jumped from the new treehouse as well as played! It was amazing to see. I even spoke to one of the gorillas handlers about how contrary to popular belief they eat vegetables and not fruit. They enjoy eating mostly in the morning hours and they spend about 1/3 of their day resting. I also learned that in the gorilla groupings it’s usually in the case of the Philadelphia Zoo one male to two females and their babies.

Pictured are my three kids, Marques, Naila, and Noelle along with one of the gorilla handlers; Kelsey Wise. Not pictured is Kristen Farley-Rambo another gorilla handler

To start the festivities of the opening of the Gorilla Tree House was Michael Stern. Michael is the Curator of Primates. You can tell he loves what he does. It has to be interesting to be designated as the one to ensure that the Primates have all that they need! He was so energetic and funny. You can catch his speech on my Instagram! I enjoyed the fact that he was so knowledgeable about the primates and has a heart for them.

Pictured are my children again and Michael Stern as he shows the kids how to beat their chest like gorillas do

The Gorillas that are at the Philadelphia Zoo are grouped into a family: Motuba, Honi, Kira, Amani, and Ajabu. There are also 2 bachelor males; Louis and Kuchimba!

Pictured is Louis

Pictured is Ajabu hanging out

Between the fun of watching these animals swing, play, run, and jump in their habitats it appears that they will he loving this new structure for quite some time. The Philadelphia Zoo is committed to the change and as the habitats around us changes so will the Philadelphia Zoo in keeping align with change.

So in addition to the Gorilla Tree House you can see and learn a lot about the Philadelphia Zoo and the rest of the animals. Remember they also have amazing new food trucks at the Urban Green that offer top of the line food options to help keep you stay healthy and full! The Zoo Key is back and that is vital in helping you not just take pictures of animals but an interactive way to learn. If you want to be interactive yourself don’t forget to stop at the KidZoo U, Wildworks Rope Course, the Swan Boats, and it’s the home of the Zoo 360 Animal Trails. There is something for everyone. Your patronage at the Zoo helps the animals and a way to keep the Western Lowland Gorillas who are considered dangerously critically endangered a place to thrive!

Thank you to the Philadelphia Zoo and Aversa PR for the invite. Thank you to the generous donors; the Korman Family, Tom Hartman, and AnnMarie Byrnes, Lisa Gemmill and the Ruth Solomon Foundation!

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Sunday Message: Controlling Your Triggers

We all have triggers.  Triggers are the things that we see, experience, or are around us that pushes an emotional response.  We all have to find a way to control them, handle them and most importantly address them.

Some people deal with them in healthy ways such as counseling, talking to a trusted associate or friend or acknowledge them.  The unhealthy way of dealing with triggers is hoping they will simply go away, drugs, sex, relationships, etc. I am aware of my triggers because I have had more times of not handling them right that I had no choice but address them.  I was tired of arguing, yelling, ready to fight, and being about drama to deflect what I hadn’t acknowledged.  It was too much to keep things going!  My tipping point came when I got into it with family and it spilled over into social media. I knew at that moment that I had to disengage, take a break, and handle the root of the issue. So instead of worrying who was wrong, I just dug deep into getting my life aligned. Now the issues that came up didn’t  disappear but with the help of my counselor I worked through!  Funny part I was in counseling and she told me that the situation was going to happen.  It was almost verbatim how she described it.  It’s funny now but then I was one split second from bail.

I have since seen a few family members since the whole breakdown and nothing on he inside of me moves. I hold no malice.  However there are other triggers that I still work through quite often.  For me they come out when I handle my children. My kids are good overall but they will every now and again make me tap into something and I find I have to work through some things. Parenthood in my opinion is sharpening me to be a better version of myself.  I owe it to my children to be the parent that they need and not the parent that is in constant fight or flight so that is why I have been in and out of therapy since I had my oldest and she will be 10 this year. I  have no embarrassment at all with saying that in order to control how I walk in this world is to have help. I want to spend my days being whole and not a whole mess.

How do you know that you are being triggered? Listen to yourself.  The things you speak about portray where you are.  If all you speak about is certain people or things that aren’t about building you to be your best, that issue you speak on still has life and you need to really deal with.  When I as having marital issues and not speaking and listening to my husband all I spoke about was negativity of our marriage.  I also would speak negatively about the imagery of other positive marriages. This is where the term hating does apply. I wanted my marriage to be a safe space.  I wanted it to be strong from the inside out and would take issue with others who appeared that way.  I wasn’t strong enough to be real about my part in my marriage. I never acknowledged how my triggers were not my husband’s to deal with.  I wanted him to be understanding and fix me while I acted a fool and hide behind “for better or for worse.”

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We are responsible for our own happiness. We want others to care about our triggers more than we are wiling to deal and handle them.  It’s not enough to be understanding as you watch a partner do nothing.  How about just regular folks watching you wallow in your triggers.  Are your friends supposed to carry your triggers and the bad behavior they often demonstrate?  They can love and be supportive but they are limited in making things okay. I blogged the other day about who my friends were present for my most colorful times with Marques in college. Looking back they should have raised the standard for our behavior in that if we wanted to hang the drama couldn’t come.  Triggers place distance between people.  Triggers is the cause of why hurt people hurt people.  It’s simply still not okay to contain hurting people and having expectations that your relationship, title, or age will grace you.

You need to speak for, handle, and show up for that inner pain and deal with it. You need to trust me it’s in your best interest.  Everyday I wake up even when the day before  might have allowed  a trigger to get the best of me and show up for myself.  It’s important for me to mirror wholeness to myself as well as my children. Also social media and triggers is real. I do not argue  with folks on social media. Debate is a thin line to fighting too.  I will debate you with maybe 2 exchanges and that’s it.  It also depends on the topic. The trolls will never engage me.  Also if its family or friends that I have personal numbers to, it’s a no automatically. First I don’t post too many subjective things and on top of that I think about whether or not its someone who has a front row or at least a few rows into my life for me to get hype and it has zero outcome.  Also don’t let what you think you see on Facebook. I knew of several males who made who dedications to their wives and was cheating the whole time using hashtags like couple goals.  Life is complicated and comparison will leave you  in self defeat! Don’t do it!

One last thing, in life we can’t always retreat but one of the things that can assist in healing is separation.  I was told when I stated I needed to separate from individuals that I was wrong.  I knew what I needed.  I knew I wasn’t going to be okay from years of mess by staying in the midst.  My counselor allowed me to see that the person needed me to stay and work things out because staying gave the other party to believe that things weren’t as bad as it was. I didn’t care if I was looked as wrong.  I no longer wanted to be right. I wanted to be free to live and love.  I needed healing from my triggers.  I needed to separate to walk in real wholeness and know right or wrong I was entitled to how I felt but not entitled to react negatively to it!  Working through triggers is a daily tussle.  However if you are overwhelmed or feel overtaken in your triggers, its time to acknowledge it and get help!

Monday Motivation: Mario Kart Life

Today is a day like any day to make the best out of our situations. Let’s not front and act as if everyone woke up with their affairs in order. You might have gotten up this morning with stress on your heart and feeling overwhelmed. I sympathize with you. I want you to know that no matter what’s going on in your life, mind, or heart we have to press through. There may not be someone to come and save you but don’t have to let your situation overtake you.

I know you’re saying that it may be easy for me to say but it’s not. Most days lately have been pure crazy. If I could touch on the things you would be like wow. I know that life happens to all of us. I know that even with crazy life circumstances, what will pull me through is resetting myself daily. It’s going to take me being in charge of what I entertain in my mind and who I allow around me. Your thoughts matter. It’s the first line of defense in how you continue in your day. If all you speak is negativity and worry that’s all you look to see. Even in bad situations I’m like what’s the lesson and where is the good that can come out of this. I know I’ve been in worst situations and I know some how I’ve come out. That’s the reassurance that motivates me to wake up and intentionally push.

Some mornings especially in this holiday season I can feel grieve and sadness around me. So I do what I need to do for me to push out of it. Prayer is how I start, music and speaking to my children is also how I push through. Sometimes journaling. Whatever you need, grab it while your situations work themselves out. Take care of you while life happens. The worst thing you can do is fall apart and while life is happening to you. The stress of life is going to be there. Losing your mind or losing yourself is not worth it.

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Take Monday by the horns and have a great day on purpose. You ever play Mario Kart?  In the game all kinds of objects are being thrown. The objective is to dodge the objectives and keep going. Sometimes life is like that. I think about that when I am driving in Philly and trying to avoid the potholes. Life is like that sometimes. You have everything being thrown to you at one time only to find that some you miss and others you don’t. The objective is to keep going and win. It didn’t say it would be easy. It didn’t say it would work out, life is about not quitting. Usually regardless of skill set, resources, and help the person who wins in life is the one who doesn’t give up. They are the ones that push through.  How about you?

National Make A Difference Day

How can you make a difference? This is such an open-ended question. We always have a tenacity to go to what we don’t have before we answer. You start listing all of the things you aren’t before you can just simply find ways to be the difference in someone else’s lives.

Whatever gifts and talents that are inside of you is more than enough to make a difference. Here are a few ways you can give back and make a difference:

 

Home Life

One charity starts at home. I hate to see people who are super bomb to everyone around them except their own family. I hate to see it with parents who go out and win everyone else’s child but ignore the issues with their own. I hate to see husbands and wives flex on social media but behind closed doors, give silent treatments and ignore the needs of their spouse. We all have to do better.

  • Spend more time with your children. Yes you work to provide. Provision is responsibility. Taking time away from your phone, to sing a song, or play one of their games, or sit and ask them what they like and what’s bothering them makes a difference for a child. Try it some time.
  • Love on your mate. Whether it’s a boo, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, take some time and spend it on them. Yes gifts are great, but how about watch one of their shows actively with them. How about talk and make sure the air is clear? You can also make a dessert together. These are inexpensive ways to show the ones you love that you are one with them.
  • Check in on loved ones. We say we love folks but the only time we check in on them is if we have the tea about another family member. Change that. Call and ask if all is well and mean it. Than when you find out it’s not if you can help, help. Also unless someone told you to tell another person, build trust and just listen and not take their issues to another family member so you “can pray about it.”

Work Life

  • Show up and be on time ready to work. That’s a ministry all in itself.
  • Don’t be apart of the office gossip-remember the same lips bringing you the tea, is the same one taking your tea to stir at another pot on you
  • Be the change in the office you want to see
  • If the job no longer serves you, don’t stay get an exit plan. This may take time, but be proactive in leaving
  • Find ways to be more productive even if that means changing the scenery. When work starts to get to me sometimes I redecorate to fit a new mood. It helps me about 60% of the time

Social Media Life

  • Don’t go back and forth with them……. (in my Lil Duval voice) if you find yourself having to respond to more than one comment just stop. You aren’t going to win an argument on social media with trolls
  • Be who you post to be. Yeah that’s right. Align your social media to reflect who you are. On my social media I highlight me as a mom and wife. I don’t create doors to let anyone think they have space to slide in the DM. They do but at that point they just are trying to do the most.
  • Make sure you don’t do subliminal post. This is hard even for me at times. You see a post and it speaks to you but post it cause it spoke to YOU. You can’t be out here taking shots at folks you don’t even @

 

We all have things that we can give to the world. I came across a young lady on social media that is a hair dresser and she feeds the homeless. This is her life work. She literally gets out there with the folks that many would snub their noses at, and she feeds them and cleans them up and does their hair. She has a whole team of folks that assist her. Think about how her being there does for them. She treats them with dignity and respect. I know if I was down and out the last thing I would want is someone kicking me when I was done. What about those who raise money for others?  They are making a difference in the causes by which they are raising it for. How about those who set up camps at the bus stops for kids to make sure all of the kids have breakfast. You don’t know what someone may be going through at home. Everybody ain’t sitting at home collecting checks. Some middle class folks work everyday and still can’t make ends meet. How about the men who go into the community to pray over the city. There are a few groups here in Philadelphia who do it consistently. What can you do? Whatever gift is inside of you can help make a difference.

I said it before but around thanksgiving I see so many companies give back to others and it warms my heart. If you cut hair, how about offer your services to people who can’t afford to maintain their cuts on a regular basis? If you are a financial planner, offer your services to a few families for free to get them out of debt?  The sky is the limit. Whatever you do, do it well. Someone needs the very thing you have and complain about. Make a difference today and everyday!

 

Evaluate Your Life

I think doing check ins with yourself is important. It’s not just something you do when the New Year hits or on your birthday. A life check up and check in helps to reinforce your goals. T

So what do you do when you check in and discover your life is heading left and you are off task of completing your goals?

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You take a deep breath. You find out what caused you to lose focus. Was it not investing enough time into yourself. This happens more often than most people think. If you aren’t doing a monthly or even weekly check up you can find that on your lists of importance you are on the bottom. You can’t give to someone when you have nothing to give of yourself. Take the time to put you back on the top of your list and make your dreams come true.

What if you don’t have enough resources?

A lot of us don’t have enough resources. We simply are acquiring them as we go along. Join the crowd. End of day, you can still make things happen. If you work your plan and find hiccups, set some intentions. Research what you need and how others in your same position got them. If it worked for them it can work for you. The difference is when you don’t have resources you have to learn to make them. Ask a mom who has limited resources but her children have many needs. If she loves her kids, she gets up and makes it happen.

What if the list are long and overwhelming?

Take that list and put them into categories. What can you do right now? What will take time? List them in order of the time you think it will take to make it happen. Not all dreams if not most are build over night. You have to be doing the work and being consistent. Its like the stories of those who are looking for a job and interviewing. They may hear a thousand Nos until they get to that Yes. Be consistent and keep moving.

What if you lose hope?

Hope isn’t lost its just shifted. You have to be able to refocus yourself. How do you refocus yourself? Look at what you want. Is it something that no matter how many times you put it down, you keep coming back to it? Is it a passion that you feel on a daily basis. If you are at work is it always on your mind? This is where your hope is. Just because you laid your dream down, it didn’t die its crying out to you to pick it up. This is why you talk about it all the time. This is why the desire is burning so bright. It has a hold of you tighter than you have a hold on it. Tighten it up. Get back out there. Be ready for a few Nos. Be ready for times when you feel overwhelmed.

woman writing on a notebook beside teacup and tablet computer

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Evaluating your life can be exhausting. It can be mentally draining. All you do is focus on what you don’t have, where you aren’t, the time wasted, etc. you will find it hard to keep going. Find the little victories along the way. Get back up, dust yourself. and get back into your life. Don’t quit on life, make your life happen. Even if that dream takes years as long as you keep moving you will get there. Everyday there is at least one more thing you can do to make your dream happen. If you aren’t doing something everyday than you aren’t working hard enough or smart enough. If you want to lose weight, everyday you should be drinking your water, increasing your exercise, substituting better food in place of bad food. This is daily. If you want to go to school, you need to prepare. Have you gone to the school of your choice and spoke to a counselor? Have you applied for grants online and in your community? Have you filled out the application? Are you working hard in the day to finance school? This is called an action plan. The part where you take your dreams from off the paper and push them into the atmosphere of action so you can see the reward!

 

Wait Your Turn

I have been in this mindset of making people wait.  Everyone knows what I mean by that.  The person or persons in your life that need what they need right this second and think that the sun rises and sets on them.  Or a coworker that as soon as you enter the door has to be on extra and won’t give you the courtesy of at least taking off your coat.  These are the emotional blood suckers that zap your energy and life because at the end of the day they have no life of their own.

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If you allow people to not wait when they don’t have a priority in your life, you will be the one frustrated. I had to put this nugget to use in my own life first.  These last few weeks my life has been super busy.  I have been going to more events this year than ever before.  With that in mind, I am super organized.  My kids don’t miss a beat. My husband and I don’t miss it either.  In order to get things done, I plan ahead.  A large greatness to planning ahead is being prepared and knowing when I can take on more, when to say no, and when to make people wait.  A lot of times people live in this McDonald’s now mentality.  Everything can’t be instant.  Sometimes they want your attention because they are lacking in other places.  Sometimes they want your money and ain’t worked for it, or will go above and beyond to get it as hard as they in your face grabbing it from you. Sometimes they feel like “it’s always” been a certain way and when you detach you are the one that is wrong.

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Making people wait allows you to think.  It cuts you from making rush decisions which happens if you don’t first get in control of your own emotions when dealing with others. If you allow others to tell you how to run your own life, next thing you know, you are the one full of anger and resentment for allowing others power over you.  Waiting also allows you to determine what is beneficial and what needs to prioritized or not. So take your time on a few things.  It can wait.  People can wait. If someone wants to use your resources, they too can wait.  You don’t have to stop the world and get it for them at a drop of a dime.  Consider, if you were in the same position would the same courtesy be shown?  It’s not about tit for tat its about principle of allowing the same people to be takers and you are the one that has to allot for their lives.  This isn’t just about money but about emotional, mental, and spiritual robbers that come in and out of your life.  Be careful.  Learn how to weed them out.  Find them and make every effort to put stops and checks in place to guard from this type of behavior.

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I use a step in making decisions if I should rush into things or not:

  1. Is it necessary for basic survival?  Ie. living expenses such as utility bills not including cable or phones.  Those are nice but fully necessary.  If someone wants to borrow money or resources that’s not about keeping basic needs met, the answer is no or make them wait
  2. Is what the person or person want about fulfilling some long-term emotional baggage?  They can wait.  The girlfriend who doesn’t have a man so she wants to monopolize your time can wait.  You just hung out with her last week, but because she can’t get other friends to bend she needs you to stop what you’re doing. She guilt trips you and you cave, no make her wait.  You have other areas of your life to attend to and her need to find fulfillment in you needs to wait or be channelled.
  3. Are you the only source? Some will come to you because you make it too easy. Like a yes man, you give them what they need and you never check or ask anyone or have anyone else.  There’s a reason.  It’s not just because they love you so much either.  It has more to do with you being the source, them not handling their business correctly, and burning bridges with others.

Be careful.  Anything no matter what its is for that makes you mad that you helped, makes you upset to the point where you lose faith in yourself or humanity, is it really worth it?  Most likely not. You are in control make others respect you, and if they can’t sometimes a time out is necessary.  Do not feel cornered to do for others what they won’t do for themselves.

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Adult Not Grown

I finally get it.  Shout out to my parents, Charles and Rhonda but I finally get it.  All the times I was yelling out how “grown” I was and my parents would come behind my rant, and burst my bubble, I would feel some type of way, I was wrong and they were totally right.  But the reality is they were teaching me an invaluable lesson.  A lesson I need to share with some of my adults who have yet to walk in what it is to be a grown man or woman.

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As an adult its easy to think you have arrived when reality you have not.  You think that age has finally granted you the right to speak up and do whatever it is you want until life hits you and find out real quick the difference between grown and an adult. After many conversations with other adults let me help some of you fake grown adults out a bit.

An adult by definition according to the law is anyone who is 18 years and up.  How many 18 year olders are supporting themselves?  Not many.  However when they get in their feelings and want to talk they throw grown around and quite frankly not living up to it.  There are 50 year olds that are doing the same.  Your age doesn’t make you grown, its how you live your life that makes you grown. Just like when I was in college with a car but had a scholarship I was feeling myself except that my parents were still insuring my car.  See if I really wanted to be grown I should have been fitting ALL of my bills.  Yes I had two jobs and taking 19 credits and doing well, but the reality is I would have been financially supporting myself without their help then I could have hollered I was grown. My parents would have respected it.  Trust and believe they awaited the day for me to be grown.  All I had to do was use the energy of wanting to say I was grown and really be grown to get there.

Grown is when you can finance and deal with the repercussions of ALL of your actions. So if you fake grown and are pregnant with a baby that others will have to help you to support you just made an adult decision but ain’t grown enough to handle it.  See now I can say I am grown.  No one can say that they had to support me.  When I had my kids, my parents didn’t shell out money for my children.  They could just be grandparents and not feel like they were second parents in command.  As much as anyone could have had so much to say at the end of the day, no one had to support me financially.  I made a grown and an adult decision and still do this day.

See adulting will have you thinking the best of yourself when you aren’t in that place.  Grown people do grown things.  They can handle rejection, they can handle fall out from their decisions, they can stand on their own.  You can’t call yourself grown when at the very sign of pain or hurt, you fall apart.  You are just an adult that can’t take things. Grown folks are just grown and handle life has it comes.  Now that isn’t to say that things won’t knock you down, but there are childish adults that whine and die if any one thing happens.  Please understand where you are.

Here are examples of you being an adult but not grown:

  1. Someone having to pay your rent for you.  Grown people provide for their housing.  So if you are in the category of having to borrow money ALL the time you are an adult you are not grown. Grown people make an assessment of where they are financially and get their finances in order.  If that means cutting back, not spending on things they don’t need, etc.
  2. If you always have to call someone else to fight your battles. Why can’t you hold an argument or disagreement? If you find that you always need someone to speak for you, or you only say what you need to say when your support system is there, you are not grown you are an adult.  Grown people do as Kevin Hart, they “say it with their chest” and move on.
  3. If you have credit issues but refuse to deal with it, be grown open them past due bills and handle it.  You may take forever and a day to get it together but you do it because you are grown and have to face the music.
  4. If you have offended someone, apologize.  Yes this is hard to do but as an adult and one who wants to be grown be humble in my Kendrick Lamar voice.
  5. You lack accountability. Yes you are an adult.  Yes you can do certain things, but accountability leaves from parent to child so you can become stable.  The fact that you think of yourself as an island just because “nobody can tell you what to do” shows your lack of maturity.  Handle your business but have the maturity to know when to let others into your space and when to let them go.
  6. Skipping responsibilities such as fathering a child you had, being a good mother, skipping work, not paying bills, etc this is an adult who isn’t grown.  We ALL have been an adult that may have been messy in one or more of these areas, but when you are grown you are constantly trying to improve.  Not going to work is not being an adult, that’s stupid.  Yes stupid.  If you don’t work you don’t eat.  Stop relying on others to bail you out until you get your check next week because you don’t want to work and do what you need to do.

So to all of my adults that haven’t started walking in grown up things, get there.  It’s going to take discipline.  No one should have to carry another adult’s load.  Things happen in life, that someone will have to help others but when this is your everyday life than you need to accept that although you are by age an adult,  you are not a full-grown woman or man.  Get there!  Thanks to my mom and dad for busting my chops many a day.  Especially when I wanted to make decisions that they would have had to deal with the fall out.  I teach this lesson to my own kids.  We can be friends when you can pay these bills is not just a thing that parents say but its a way of life.  You can’t keep talking the talk but not walking the walk.  You really have to be able to handle YOUR decisions.  If YOUR decisions become a community response and it’s not just because you got sick, or unable to work, maybe you need less “grown” talk and more “grown” actions.

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