Christmas Village Experience 2018

So as many of you know I came across the Christmas Village last year doing a Google search for free family fun. I then convinced my family to give the authentic outdoor German Market a try. We were impressed and excited to attend again this year. This year I was invited to take an intimate look at what the Christmas Village really has to offer behind the scenes. This year thanks to the renovations of the Love Park sign, it was even more special!

I was able to attend the opening ceremony to light “The Present.” Thanks to Mayor Jim Kenney who hit it home with his opening speech about giving towards others. This is the season to not just think about ourselves and our families but how we can best serve the people of Philadelphia. The Present is 27 feet in height, well-lit holiday present. It is in the middle of the Christmas Village.  Not only is it visually stunning, its set as a reminder to give to others.  If you are in the area you can give by texting and you will receive a gift tag that can be displayed on “The Present” that is a symbol of what the holiday is all about. You can actively give by doing the following:

  • TEXT PARKS to 501501 to donate to Fairmount Park Conservancy will go towards helping Philadelphia Parks
  • TEXT BOOKS  to 20222 to donate to Welcome America’s holiday book campaign for Parks and Recreation. Every $5 raised will purchase a total of 4 books. 
  • TEXT 80100 to donate to Project Home to help end poverty and homelessness

Inside “The Present”

“The Present is open starting today to the public all the way through December 24th. It’s free to enter and as you can see from the above photos it’s a beauty to see, take photos and walk inside!  I felt like the biggest kid. The colors and lights had me mesmerized. 

So I knew after watching “The Present” light up that I was off to a good start. The first stop on the tour was the German Grill. The open grill had all the best of the German deliciousness. From Bratwurst to Schnitzel, I was in pure Heaven. The open grill is such a delight and the smells pulled me in. I was completely satisfied.  As soon as I got home, I was upset as to why I didn’t take a Bratwurst to go. 

This took me to the second stop on the tour and that was to the open beer garden, The Alm. It’s always a good idea for beer. There are a lot of new items on the menu. Let me also point out for families with young children. This is a great spot to combine adulting and kids. It’s closed in. So this means a lot of play for the kids and drinks for the adults. This year they have a new beer mug. It’s a beauty to behold and you know that the bigger the cup, the bigger the gulp!

As if the beer wasn’t enough, I made my way to one if that’s right one of the wine offerings, German Gluhwein.  It’s a mulled wine. They offer a white and a red wine and both were amazing.

Next up was Käthe Wohlfahrt. This indoor gem blew my mind. This unique shop was full of mostly hand-made treasures. From one of a kind pieces to ornaments and decorations, it was a delight. Note there is no videography or photos for the public. However I was able to get you that inside look. What I will say is this is a must on your stops through the open village. Be careful as some of the pieces are pricey. So if you have little ones just hold their hands. I do believe once they see how well-lit and how beautiful the pieces are, they will spend more time asking questions than running through the store.

Next stop was the The Bacon Jams. I’ve never had bacon jam but today I wanted to buy all of them. These easy to spread jams taste super authentic to real bacon. The flavors were amazing. I tried every last one. From the maple bacon to the honey bourbon! All of them were a treat!

I believe I was turning into a foodie by the end of the night. The next stop was to Sweets where we tried some toasted chestnuts. I’ve never had any before but I was a believer tonight. Be sure if you attend that you make your way. There are other sweet treats as well.

Keeping in line with sweets we make our way to John and Kira’s. This was like chocolate Heaven! I tried for her first time honey bee chocolate made from local honey bee. First of all this gooey treat should be eaten in one bite. It’s honey flavor mixed with chocolate had to be the best that I have had in a long time. We also had some amazing sea salt caramel.

If you ever been to the Christmas Village you are full aware of the Raclette. It’s basically the best cheese I’ve ever eaten, that is melted under a special heated lamp and the cheese oozes onto some of the freshest bread Philadelphia has to offer. I was in cheese coma. Let me say that yes I took one for the team of non dairy, but I ain’t feel not ounce of shame.

For those who love unique cards you must stop at Love Pop. You can get pop up 3D cards. I enjoyed the tour and I plan to grab a few to give to special friends.

Our next stop was Mike’s Hot Honey. We were told that when you taste it, it would be sweet and then bitter and it was true. Mike’s Hot Honey is a spread that can be put on almost anything from bagels to chicken. I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I am getting a cold but if I was when I left I definitely felt like my palette was cleared. 

mike hot

girl

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Of course we needed something a little sweet so we headed over to Helmuts Original Austrian Strudel. They had your classics like cherry but they also had some that were a definite go back and true such as the meat and pulled pork puffs. They even have a mac and cheese one!  

helmut

cherry

One of the final stops before ending with hot chocolate was Truffleist. This is what the name says, Truffle. So between some amazing cheeses and salami, the truffle butter was everything. I mean everyone enjoyed it. They have an amazing selection and to be honest I could eat that truffle butter by the spoonfuls. It was that good. 

truffle

One more goodie before I end, I love hand blown glass. The colors are amazing. So I had to take a picture of the Mouth Blown Ornaments. 

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So the tour was everything and more. You and your family or friends will have an amazing time. I tried to give you a snippet of what it would be like. The only thing that I didn’t see was Santa but you can catch Santa in the Santa Hut for pics starting on the weekends and then close to the season being over he will be there everyday. I would make sure you go and see him if you’re trying to get on the Nice List. 

Special thanks to Philadelphia Christmas Village, the sponsors: Bank of America, Acme, Käthe Wohlfahrt, and Hernnhuter and all of the partners who helped to make this day. Also shout out to all of the amazing vendors who bring the Christmas Village to Life rain or shine. Remember its free to enter and you only pay for the food, drinks, and treasures you find. 

Special shout out to Kory Aversa and the Aversa PR and Events for having me. 

So head on over and grab your kids, your friends, your girls, or your boys and  have an experience to remember!

Hours:
Sunday – Thursday: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00am – 8:00pm
Christmas Eve: 11:00am – 5:00pm

Location:
LOVE Park, 1500 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

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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!

 

Love Energy

If you ever worked out you know how it can feel. Sometimes you feel super motivated. Other times you have a love/hate relationship.  However if you are consistent in it you will notice how better you feel and eventually you will see results. When you are consistent and you see results it keeps you feeling amazing and keeps you going even when you have days when you slack off.

The energy behind that feeling of working out, eating better, or doing better is the same type of energy that needs to be put into your love relationship. You should feel loved on everyday. The days where arguments seem to be on a thousand, and you’re not getting along, should be way less than the days you and your partner spend loving on each other. One thing that I am realizing is the more energy into the relationship, the better the results. The times in your relationships where BOTH partners are attempting to meet in the middle is key to making it work.

Energy never lies. I don’t care what a person says, if the energy that a person is giving or lack thereof, is the key to how things hold up. You can never go on record with your spouse naming the things that you do in response to responsibilities alone if the energy in how you love isn’t being shown. I learned that in counseling on my own. I went to counseling about my life in general and if I am honest my marriage came up. My counselor was a man and he said to me that I know the energy in which my marriage is giving and if that energy is slacking, it won’t hold up. I either had to do my part, wait to see if my husband’s part would match, and if it don’t match, I knew what I had to do. This doesn’t mean my counselor was encouraging to divorce, etc, but he was making me aware of things that love blinds you to.

man wearing suit jacket sitting on chair in front of woman wearing eyeglasses

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Love is amazing. If you are being loved right, it shows. A woman glows better when she’s loving herself and her partner is loving her correctly. There is no denying that. Energy is all about what you give to your partner. If all you do is harp on what your partner does that is negative than don’t get mad when that person goes looking for someone to encourage them. Let me say it for the folks in the back, this is not a oh well if they cheat clause. I am saying if you’re honest and you know you aren’t speaking good into your relationship and over the person you claim to love and all you do is tearing that individual them, gaslighting them, and downing their every move, eventually that ugly side of you becomes less and less attractive. No ONE wants to be put down. You can’t come with a smile, ever? You don’t have not one nice thing to say, ever? There is something wrong, always? Don’t nobody got time for that. If you have an issue with something, speak up but it don’t have to be drawn into a picture with a neon sign everyday! Speak love. Speak encouragement. Put into the relationship what you want out of it.

One last nugget my counselor told me that we tend to say, if I was with “this” person whatever the “this” represents, we would….. If you don’t work out in yourself whatever negative issues you feel from what you get out of your mate, you can leave them and run right back into that same type of person later. Check your loves of the past, do they all share common traits? If so than maybe there’s something in you that needs to be worked out. Energy never lies. If you feel miserable and you’re working on yourself and find that the person you are with is not and its dragging you down, speak up. After awhile things will naturally take its course. Don’t ignore the warning signs cause you love this person!

Re-write Your Monday

Today was one for the books. I needed a drink and it wasn’t even 8am. I felt like I was on a show where I had to phone in a friend, grab a locksmith, and all before I even had a sip of my coffee. You know coffee is life. However today I had to take a second, regroup, ask for help and rewrite my Monday.

casual fashion girl outfit

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As much as life throws at us, we would think we are more prepared to deal with an occasional drama moment or two. However today proved that I am not. I haven’t had to live in chaos, but it won’t mean it wont come knocking on my door every now and again. One I am glad for friends and family who can help without asking a ton of questions. They believe in you, see that change, and when you need them they don’t hesitate. God is good. Also thanks to Mike who got me in where I needed to be. What a way to start the day.  You know that moment when you get the laundry done AND folded, bags packed, and then you think you got Monday and Monday don’t got you………..

I decided to take a moment to collect my thoughts and say had this been a few years ago you would have been a mess. So what do you want your Monday to look like? I wanted it to run smoothly.  I felt like all the preparation that I put into it should have yielded better results. The issue was that regardless of the preparation I put into it, life happens. It was a test. It was a test to see if I would break down. It was a test to see if I would crumble. I didn’t so regardless if it started off crazy in the end I won. How about you? We love the Mondays where you feel super empowered due to the fact that things just line up, but when it doesn’t, can you still smile? Can you still get through? Can you find a way to reset and re-write your Monday.

I heard something last week that stuck with me. It was a motivational speaker and she was talking about how we have bad moments keep us in bad days. If someone cut you off in traffic at 8am, why is that still a thing at 9?  I had to think about the times I would do that. How many moments I missed of readjusting myself for a bad moment?  How many times did I sit around speaking more negative energy into my day? So today I used that same mindset to continue this day. I will continue finding solutions to my problems. I will find ways to make this week pop by writing out my goals and focusing on that alone. How about you? What are you going to do?

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.

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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!

 

Why Podcasts Are Necessary for Mental Management

I love music. I have blogged about how music is really one of those things that aids in controlling your mind-set.   One of my newest mindful tactics is podcasts.  My interests are pretty eclectic and ranges from my favorite blog series, to politics, to music, fashion, parenting and even a few celebrity-inspired ones as well. I listen to podcasts at least once or twice a day.  I find that I exchange it in its place for music sometimes especially when I get a few minutes of peace.

The benefits to me is mindfulness. I am able to explore different topics that I enjoy or learn new things daily.   It allows me to switch it up and feel like I am listening to more purpose filled blogs on the go.  I enjoy writing my own blogs, writing for TCP network or even guest appear on other blogs, but all of that is behind the scenes.  Hearing other people’s voices speak on a subject matter is super soothing.  Now be aware of why you listen to podcasts and be sure to find the ones you are interested in.  I know for me the podcasts I stick close to are the ones that allow me to listen straight through.  Any of them that I find myself fast forwarding I don’t follow or continue to listen to the artist.  No disrespect but my time is valuable so I need to utilize it wisely. I need something that speaks to me as a woman, mother, wife, or just one that provides a good listen to the things that I find the most interesting.  I have also been featured in one and let me say that the podcasts was super nerve-racking.  One I talk super fast and I am not interested in hearing my voice on a daily.  Shout out to podcasts artist who take their artistry serious.  I will leave it up to you great voices and may only do an appearance here or there.

Benefits:

  • Helps to calm your nerves
  • Helps you to maintain information
  • Guards your mindset

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Photo by Tommy Lopez on Pexels.com

With that being said here’s a list of my favorite podcasts in no particular order and why I like them:

BGIO-Black Girl In OM

This blog I found about a year ago.  I was at work and having a bad day and I literally looked them up and stumbled upon a jewel.  This podcasts talks about mindfulness and addresses what its like to be a creative black women who is making her mark.  I absolutely love it and although they haven’t had a new episode sine July, it’s still worth going back and listening to.

GirlBoss

This podcasts along with the website talks about mindfulness as well as every aspect of what makes a woman a woman.  They give great tips and they are an easy listening podcasts that I listen to when I am on my way home.  I have planned a few outfits to work just from hearing the information given.  Plus who doesn’t want to be a boss?  We aren’t bossy we are bosses! Right?  Right! This podcasts makes me own it!

Mastering Marriage: This podcasts are from a married couple, Amanda and David Taylor.  I found them a few years ago when I got married.  They are a couple that talk about how they were headed down the road of divorce.  I love this real and vulnerable talk about how marriage taking work and that things are never as cookie cutter as we especially women want them to be.  I applaud them for being able to share their real life story of how bad things can get if you aren’t connected and doing the work to maintain.

Women Evolve

So this one is by Sarah Jakes Roberts, the daughter of esteemed pastor T.D. Jakes.  I was a bit leery of this one because I love the lord but I am also the one that will throw hands and I didn’t need an overly church podcasts.  So I just started this podcasts but…. I have listened to all of them.  Let me tell you why I like this podcasts and have respect for Sarah, she is real.  I like her calm approach to the topics that she knows we know about.  She can take a topic from the Shaderoom and spin it to where it’s not a place to hear a dump of information.

TCP; The cultured Professional is the other network that I am on.  I would advise this is your one stop shop to be aware, awoke and therefore enlightened.  This network is diverse, young, and ready to tackle on the  world both professionally and personally.  They give it to you straight just like my personality.

Within TCP is there are 5 podcasts that have shows weekly on TCP Facebook. I would suggest you connect to the page as well as link to all of the other pages on Facebook page as well if you have time to link and hear the podcasts in real-time.  If not you can do like I do and catch them on the flip side!

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Hip Hop and Politics: this blog challenges what you think about the politics around you in addition to how hip hop plays an important part of that.  Also a lot of these podcasts actually live shows but the way my life is set up I barely can listen to them live.  But fear not that’s what podcasts are for?  I can go back and watch them.  Although in my link its for Apple iTunes, they are on all major streams for podcasts, check it out!

Sayless: This podcast is one of the most happily ignorant podcasts.  This is the one I listen to on the train ride into work. It gets me going.  They cover it all from having sex on the first date, spoken word, or catching your significant other with a sex doll.  Yep they take it there.  This is not your momma’s podcasts. So I would caution if you were looking for politically correctness, this isn’t the place.  For the real adults, get your ear phones and turn up!

Raw Royalty: shout out to women empowering one another.  This is a queens only podcasts. I listen to them on Sunday night as I go through my house getting my life right for the week.  They don’t hold anything back.  From raising kids, dealing with co parenting, to dating dos and don’ts, it all hits the fan.  They make me adjust my crown every time I turn them on.  Raw Royalty is also in conjunction with Regal Finesse:

Regal Finesse is your one stop shop for everything a young king and queen need from work out gear to your shirts.  Check out their designs.  They even have a few more things up their sleeve, literally.  Be on the look out!

Opinionated Facts: This is the Sports and man-cave talk for the men! I do still listen to them.  They talk about things from your favorite shows to current events and sports but I love hearing men talk that talk.  Why as a woman its hard for me to understand the makings of a man.  I love listening to these kings talking and hearing their perspective.  Letting men be men and I love it!

The newest newbie but definitely doing its thing in the podcasts arena is Shots of E and J.  Lady E and Jessica are the most woke white girls I know.  They do not sugar coat anything and they tell it like it is.  They are definitely becoming one of my favorites.  I love how real and raw but they come with the facts.  They hit you hard and steady with the facts then cut you quick before you even know you were cut.  Their interviews are great and they make sure that they talk about the issues that are in the media such as Serena Williams cheating (we know she ain’t cheat) to being a stan for Drake.  They hit it all so make sure you don’t miss it!

Like I said, make sure that you continue to catch these and add some more to your arsenal.  I literally listen to podcasts while doing a number of duties in my life.  As I am going to work, rotating the kids from bath, etc.  I literally try to keep my mind clear and sometimes podcasts are another notch of mindfulness to add to your daily self-care!