Category Archives: Theatre



As I reflect over the 2017, I realize it was an extremely busy year.  It was a year of a lot of firsts for me, particularly as it relates to building my two year old business This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM).

It was a year that allowed me to see how I brought dreams to fruition for others and just how much satisfaction I derived from playing a role in that.  It was also a year where I faced some long-standing doubts and fears, and surprisingly I came out on the other side!  I like to do yearly recaps mainly so that I can not only see what I’ve accomplished, but examine the misses and areas where I still need to grow, as well.

So for all that it brought, here is TIDFM’s 2017 recapped:


January — I, along with nine female relatives, took (what has become known as “The Cousins’ Trip”) a four day jaunt to Atlanta, Georgia. Our cousin and her husband treated us royally.  The trip was made especially memorable because we traveled there during the time Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s  birthday was being celebrated in his hometown.   It was also magical to spend that time with family members.  We took in the movie “Hidden Figures”, saw Roy Ayers perform at the City Winery, ate at some fabulous restaurants, laughed and talked, talked and laughed, and more importantly, we paid homage to Dr. King by visiting his grave site,  along with that of his dedicated wife and comrade Coretta Scott King.



March — I was able to visit a close friend who lives in Berkeley, California.  This was the first time that I spent my entire time in Berkeley versus spending time in Oakland or San Francisco.  We saw an art exhibit at Berkeley Museum of Art, ate Bi Bim Bap at a  Korean restaurant (ate there twice because I can never get enough of Bi Bim Bap), watched a myriad of movies at her home and toured the campus of The University of California, Berkeley.  I have always wanted to see this campus, especially because of its history of protest, advocacy and of being a change agent.

A visit to the Bay area would not be complete without paying a visit to the outstanding restaurant Burma Superstar!  That place! That place!  They offer every imaginable way to please your palate; their coconut rice alone will have you begging for more, and the variety of Burmese food offered is amazing.


September — I finally got to travel to a city that I have been longing to visit for quite some time.  This trip, like my excursion to Atlanta, allowed me to spend time with family — 3 cousins — who made my trip so special.  Not only is Seattle a most gorgeous city, its food scene is amazing and as diverse as its residents.  You want good ice cream?  There is Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.  You want really good Sushi?  There is Trappers.

And I can’t  forget my visit to the famed Pike’s Market, The Northwest African American Museum and the city’s Space Needle!





The University of Washington’s campus is picturesque, and situated on that campus are some of the most architecturally unique buildings I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, Seattle’s weather is my kind of weather.  Although it was overcast on several days, the breezes and fresh air made the trip all the more enjoyable.

Also, Seattle gave me a chance to be mesmerized by The Chihuly Exhibit held on The Seattle Space Museum Caampus — what magnificent work!









October — Reykjavik, Iceland — Not a place I would have ever imagined myself visiting until I came across an incredible fare offered by Southwest Airlines, but AM I GLAD I DID!  Naturally, once I really began to research Aurora Borealis (aka The Northern Lights), I was determined to witness this phenomenon first hand.  On a cold Iceland evening, I got my chance.  How awe-inspiring it was!





Who would have thought I would have paid to join an excursion to whale watch?  I maintained the attitude that “as long as I am here, I might as well immerse myself in Icelandic culture.”  It was cold and wet, but I felt like a trooper because I pushed myself to do something that I would never have done before.  I saw not only whales, but but I saw humpback dolphins, and other unrecognizable water bound animals.

I shivered my butt off, but I enjoyed every minute.




I was also able to partake in a two hour Icelandic Beer Class where you not only tasted a variety of beers (that was a lot of fun), but I learned about what was going on historically in Iceland at the time those beers were crafted.  Our class members were from Canada, Italy and Sweden.


Of course we took the obligatory city tour — Reykjavik’s Cultural Building was hosting a run of Tosca, along with some lesser known productions and exhibits.


We also saw the building (pictured below) where President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev held in 1986 made progress toward creating The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and The Soviet Union.


The highlight of the city tour was seeing the Lutheran Church Hallgrimskir, which is one of Iceland’s hallmark tourist attractions. Running a close second was bathing in the iconic Blue Lagoon.


November — The end of the year saw me revisit Sydney, Australia, but unlike my first visit in 2015 where I went Down Under solo, this time I escorted eight women aged 50+ to the land of Oz!  It was a monumental trip because it was the first official excursion for This…I…Do…For…Me and it was the first time some of the ladies had ever left the United States.  AUSTRALIA WAS EVERYTHING!

Our Sydney, Australia  Itinerary Included:  The Sydney Opera House Tour, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Cronulla Beach, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Seeing the Southern Cross at the Sydney Observatory, Sea Life Aquarium, Madam Tussaud, Watson’s Bay and Doyle’s Restaurant, Bondi Junction (for shopping) Day Trip to The Blue Mountains and numerous restaurants representing Thai, Greek, German, Italian and Mexican Cuisines.














  1.  We took a Greek Cooking Class at Sur La Table in Chicago;
  2.  I and 12 TIDFM patrons participated in a Wine Tasting and Food Pairing led by Sommelier Brian Duncan at Eddie Vs on The Gold Coast;
  3. We attended The City Winery’s Sunday Concert Series; classical, jazz and choral music was the fare;
  4. We attended a Salute to Katherine Dunham at The Harold Washington Library;
  5. We attended both The Annual African American Film Festival and viewed a film monthly at The Gene Siskel Film Center;
  6. TIDFM sponsored its First Annual Book Swap and Dinner at Eddie Vs;
  7.  We attended three theatrical productions — Hamilton, An American in Paris and The Bodyguard;
  8. TIDFM in conjunction with Chisiko offered a Women Warrior Masterpiece Art Class at Robust Coffee Shop;
  9. We attended The Chicago Cultural Center’s showing of the documentary “Still I Rise” featuring the life of phenomenal Activist, Writer and Renaissance Woman Maya Angelou;
  10. We attended a musical performance featuring drummer extraordinaire Terri Lyne Carrington and Liz Wright;
  11. We attended Dixon School’s Annual African American Cultural Festival;
  12. I attended “Black Girls Gather” in Chicago hosted by “For Harriett “Writer and Activist Kimberly Foster;
  13. I was invited to join The Shanghai Committee for The Chicago Sister Cities Program;
  14. I even learned how to play Mah Jong;
  15. Attended The Annual Good Food Conference;
  16. I threw my first Paella Party (see pics below)










I am excited about 2018, as TIDFM will be traveling to Greece in September!  We will continue to experience the wonderful cultural scene that Chicago offers.

I will keep you posted on our other exciting events scheduled for throughout the year.

























It was exactly one year on August 15, 2015 that I launched This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM)! It has been a year of tremendous growth, creativity, meeting fascinating people, traveling to places that I thought I’d never visit and stepping out with the belief that I could carry TIDFM off into the world for the benefit of women who are 50 years of age and older!


I am most proud of the business’s website; this is the pipeline for posting information for our clients and readers in the areas of Art/Literature, Theater/Dance, Music/Concerts, Food/Restaurants, For the Soul, and Travel. I chose to focus on these areas for the website, as well as the blog because activities, outings and excursions would serve as the focal point to encourage our target population to immerse and treat themselves, particularly since they have spent countless years caring for others.


Here are some of the fun things that I, along with my adventurous clients explored this past year:


In September 2015 – It was 11 cities in France – Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Avignon, Monaco, St. Paul de Vence, St. Balme Maxime, Nice, Lyon and St. Tropez! I left feeling like France was my home.

In November 2015 – It was magnificent Sydney, Australia! I have a trip planned for eight people planned in November 2017!

In January 2016 – It was the beautiful shores of Orange County and Los Angeles, California!  Shopping and sheer relaxation was the order of day for a solid week.

In June 2016 – I had the honor of traveling to Madrid, Salamanca and La Alberca, Spain! It was here that I fell in love with the culture, the magnificent food and the warm and loving people. I even had the chance to take a short side trip to Dublin, Ireland! I must go back there if for no other reason than I must spend more time in some of neighborhood pubs that are full of life, laughter and good food to accompany that fun environment.


It’s looking like Atlanta, Georgia in January, Cuba in February and back to Sydney, Australia in November 2017! Life is Good!


Some of the theater outings that TIDFM clients participated in included Byhalia, Mississippi at The Steppenwolf Theater, Lorraine Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window at The Goodman Theater, the musical 42nd Street at The Cadillac Palace Theater, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at The Oriental Theater and Satchmo at the Waldorf at Hyde Park’s Court Theater.


The critically acclaimed Hamilton (hopefully my group’s name will move up the wait list)! If I see nothing else except Hamilton in 2017, it will have been a good year.


Yes, I and my clients love to eat! I, along with food critic Eleni Murphy reviewed some interesting restaurants. Eleni even shared some of her London, England favs. Oftentimes, these restaurants were sampled following a theater performance. What a way to top off a great production!

Here are some of the restaurants visited and reviewed during TIDFM’s first year of operation:

1. Café Ba Ba Reeba (Chicago, Illinois)
2. Sobrino de Botin (Madrid, Spain)
3. NAC (London, England)
4. Kappacasein Dairy (London, England)
5. Granger and Co (London, England)
6. Berners Tavern (London, England)
7. Sweet Mandy B’s (Chicago, Illinois)
8. Del Seoul (Chicago, Illinois)
9. Summer House Santa Monica (Chicago, Illinois)
10. Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago, Illinois)
11. Cemetia’s Puebla (Chicago, Illinois)
12. Nini’s Deli (Chicago, Illinois)
13. Podhalanka (Chicago, Illinois)
14. Mercado San Miguel (Madrid, Spain)


1. Army Thai on Damen
2. La Palapa on 34th Street


I and a client attended the “Portraits of Motherhood” Exhibit, which highlighted the artistic talent of Antonia Ruppert. I found a gem on the south side of Chicago – The Creative Room located in the heart of the Park Manor community. This design studio’s mission is to provide a space for people to create their own DIY (do it yourself) interior design projects.  Clemenstien Love is the mastermind behind this hidden treasure.

I provided overview of books that I’ve read over the past year – including a few children’s books. There were a mixture of travel, music, autobiography/memoirs, short stories and social justice commentaries.  They ranged from biographies of culinary icon Marcus Samuelsson to children’s classics like “Corduroy” by Don Freeman.  For reviews of the other selections, please check out the art and literature link on


I plan in conjunction with another entity to include my clients on a few Famous House Tours during the holidays. Please stay tuned.


One of my favorite things to do in conjunction with the business is learning about the myriad ways in which women care for themselves even in the midst of dealing with life’s stressors. This section of the website spotlights a diversity of women who share with TIDFM’s audience how they care for their souls, especially as they are taking care of other people, their jobs/businesses.  Please check it out as you might find some helpful hints on self-care and the exploration of new things.

My first year has been loaded with fun, doubt, new experiences and places, great people and a true excitement about TIDFM’s future growth.

The growth of TIDFM has manifested through the creation of a logo, connecting with Mighty Mongoose Tours to write a blog post of an upcoming helicopter excursion, participation in The Diverbo program in Spain, serving as a guest on the radio program “Living it Up After 50,” hired two freelance writers for the website, ran two TIDFM contests, announced TIDFM’s first international excursion to Sydney, Australia, and I was asked to review a self-empowerment book by a coaching expert.

I am grateful to our readers, those who traveled with me and those who joined us on a number of outings. In the coming year, I plan to broaden TIDFM’s reach, and I hope you will stick around for the ride.


PHOTO ABOVE:  Me enjoying Indoor Skydiving!





“Byhalia, Mississippi!” The title, alone, makes you curious and ready to purchase a ticket to The Steppenwolf’s (Chicago, Illinois) latest production. Written by Evan Linder and directed by the phenomenally talented Tyrone Phillips, the production “Byhalia, Mississippi” highlights the story of a young couple embedded with themes of race, class, gender and even sexuality. Self-determination is also a key theme that resonated for me while viewing the play.

Madly in love with each other, the characters Laurel and Jim are poor but rich in dreaming and dream making. What is the big deal, you might ask? Well, given all of the issues surrounding the aforementioned themes and their relevance in today’s America, this story is a timely one.


As the lights go down, we see a Laurel who is pregnant, and her husband who is extremely excited about the impending arrival of his child. It seems that everything Jim wished for himself is transferred to his unborn child. He connects so strongly with the child while still in the womb that it is easy to understand why he is virtually devastated once it revealed during the delivery of the child that the father is black.


With the story line being as simple as that, it’s the underlying themes, the hidden messages and age-old nuances around race and gender that stand out. The following is a listing of the five  characters played by five outstanding actors and a description of what that character represents.

1. Laurel – A young white woman who has a history of making decisions based on her own selfish needs. Her mom, Celeste,  delivers a scathing soliloquy on Laurel’s history of this behavior and wants her to “get rid” of the black child. Of course, getting rid of the child speaks to Celeste’s irresponsibility. The fruit seems to fall not too far from the tree.

2. Jim – A young white man who seems to bond with the child so deeply prior to the delivery that his world come crashing down when he finds out the child is black. The underlying theme here is that he is more in love with the idea of fatherhood than the actual carrying out of the role – the child being black seems to destroy this.

3. Karl – a young black man who is Jim’s best friend and immediately assumed to be the father of the black child. He is so loyal to Jim, that it takes him a while to realize that Jim has some deep seated issues around his black maleness. Additionally, it’s Karl’s later (prompted by Ayesha’s pain) inner revelation that “wakes” him up to a world of racism and invisibility (even though Jim doesn’t have a clue as to why Karl now sees their relationship differently).


4. Celeste – Laurel’s mother who is exceptionally concerned about the hardships that Laurel will have raising a black child and the equally troublesome time the child will have. She feels that Jim is a great husband, and she doesn’t want to her daughter to lose him over something that reeks of misery.

6.  Paul- the husband of Ayesha and educator who fathers Laurels baby.  We never see Paul in the production, but he is characterized through Ayesha’s eyes as selfish, irresponsible and self-indulgent.

5  Ayesha – a young, black woman married to Paul who has invested a lot into the image of an upstanding woman.

However, she needs to maintain her family’s respectable image even if it means major self-sacrificing.  It doesn’t go unnoticed that Laurel seems to have very little interest in Paul — she is too interested in getting Jim to forgive her so they can move on with their lives (even with a biracial child).

Ayesha, in my estimation, has the deepest character representation in the entire production. She has placed a lot of time, energy and value into being the quintessential wife and mother , an upstanding citizen and credit to her race. These traits, along with her self-sacrificing nature, has been created and built over the years, and for what purpose?


Ayesha is betrayed by Laurel despite their numerous years of being friendship; she is still disrespected by her husband Paul who could care less about how his actions hurt others, and the whole town knows about Paul’s history, making Ayesha’s sacrifices really worthless.

The scenes between Laurel and Ayesha highlight longstanding tensions between white and black women around men, status and stature. Ayesha even writes Laurel a check to high tail it out of town – anything so that she can maintain her dignity and save face.

The remainder of the play is spent allowing the characters to move into their own truth. For Laurel and Jim, that truth translates into forgiveness.

It doesn’t get past me that this well written and directed play, along with its superb acting (by ALL of the actors) was conjured out of the genius of Evan Linder (who also portrays Jim).  For a white writer to understand these complex racial themes and all of the underlying nuances, is nothing short of miraculous!  Linder truly has a high state of consciousness and an understanding of the power of forgiveness

Trust me — you can’t afford to miss this outstanding play.  It has to be one of the best plays that I’ve ever seen!

A Weekend of Theater


“On Friday, February 5, 2016, I was able to see the production of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical!”  While I was in New York City in 2015, I opted to pass on seeing “Beautiful” in order to see two other Broadway productions — “Kinky Boots” and “Brothers in the Bottom.”

When the Carole King musical production arrived in Chicago, I still was not motivated to see it.  It wasn’t because I didn’t like the music of King — after all, I knew all too well the lyrics of “Natural Woman”, “I Feel the Earth Move”, “Will You Still Love Me” and the ever recognized “You’ve Got A Friend.”  I think I wasn’t motivated  to see it mainly because I wasn’t interested in another biographical tale of yet another musical artist UNTIL…I started having conversations with people who shared just how many other artists King either wrote for or how many artists (that I adored) covered her music.


Photo:  Marquee of The Oriental Theater, Chicago, Illinois

“Locomotion” — Little Eva, “One Fine Day” — The Chiffons, “Will You Still Love Love Me” — The Shirelles, “Chains” — The Beatles, “Up on the Roof” — The Drifters, and of course Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” and James Taylor’s “You’ve Got A Friend” — these are all classic songs, thanks to King, that are woven throughout the American songbook.

During the performance, I was amazed at how many King compositions I didn’t know she wrote.  With my head bopping back and forth, feet tapping and snapping fingers, I openly sang along with the cast, and I was proud that I knew all the words to most of the musical numbers featured in the production.

It is also important to note that despite her prolific composing career, this delightful musical production highlights her emotional roller coaster marriage and partnership with one of the world’s best known lyricists — Gerry Goffin.  That aspect, deeply focused on in the production, illustrates King’s vulnerability, her human desire to hold on to love even when it is not healthy to do so, and her talent for incorporating those painful experiences in her music, along with the greatest gift of all — human resilience!


Photo:  Musical Genius Carole King




I also had the opportunity to see another production at The Court Theater “Satchmo At The Waldorf” two days after seeing “Beautiful.” Based on the book “Pops” by Terry Teachout, the drama critic at The Wall Street Journal, this is a moving story line bound to cause you to reexamine Armstrong.


The Court Theater (Chicago) production centers around Armstrong’s performance in the famed Empire Room of The Waldorf Astoria as the landscape for a virtual one man performance (the only other voice in the play belongs to Armstrong’s manager Joe Glaser) showcasing his life as an African American musician and all of the challenges that accompanies that journey, particularly as it relates to racism.

This production of “Satchmo” features famed actor Barry Shabaka Henley as Armstrong, and he channels him expertly.  Henley’s portrayal provides great depth, elicits an emotional intimacy with the audience that comes forth as you are immersed in the dialogue of some of Armstrong’s painful memories and the unfortunate destruction of his relationship with his manager.

It isn’t happenstance that Henley, himself, is a native of New Orleans; his understanding of jazz and the spirit of one of our great American cities permeates throughout his performance.  Henley has appeared in numerous films —  “Ali” with Will Smith, “Collateral” with Jaime Foxx and Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg’s “Terminal,” and after Edward James Olmos left television’s “Miami Vice” as the superior officer, Henly took over in the role as Lieutenant Martin Castillo.  He is a great character actor, and his performance in “Satchmo at The Waldorf Astoria” showcases his solo acting skills. He did one outstanding job! “Satchmo at The Waldorf” is currently on the San Franscisco stage, as well.


Photo: Actor Barry Shabaka Henley


Photo:  The Master — Louis Armstrong














September and October 2016: A Recap of Travel, Education And Fun


imageEvery two months, I will provide an update on my travels, activities and any new venture that materializes.  Here is what I had the opportunity to experience during September and October 2016:


From September 9-20, 2015, I experienced Wonderful France that featured excursions to Paris, Avignon, Arles, Aix-En-Provence, St. Tropez, Nice, Monaco, Lyon, St. Paul de Vence, Beaune and St.  Balme Maxime.  This entire trip was fun, educational and whimsical.  The food was great and the historic sights were amazing!

In October, I was honored to return to my undergraduate institution Oberlin College for the OA4 (Oberlin Association of African American Alumni) reunion.  It was amazing to see classmates that I had not seen since commencement. To be able to reminisce while walking the campus and getting reconnected to the college that served as the foundation for my path in social services was almost surreal.

Also in October, I had the chance to travel to Cincinnati, Ohio, for The International Congress of Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly (LBFE). Not only were the workshops well presented, but I was blessed to meet my colleagues who work in other parts of the world.  Staff and board members from other LBFE chapters — Madrid, Barcelona, Romania, France, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and Ireland and the U.S. — were able to meet and share best practices for working with isolated elders.


In mid October, I attended The  Court Theatre’s (Chicago) production of “Gem of the Ocean” written by renowned playwright August Wilson.  Wilson wrote The Century Cycle plays (one for every decade from the 1900s to 1990s), and after having seen this production, I can proudly say I have seen all 10 of Wilson’s masterpieces.


I, along with five “This I Do For Me” participants, experienced an absolutely delectable meal at Francessa’s on Taylor in September, and at Pizza Capri and Chant, in October.


In September, I read the seminal work “The Sisters Are Alright” — a must read that examines the stereotypes that plague African American women. The author Tamara Winfrey Harris did a beautiful job with this book.  Also, “Leave Your Nets” written by mystic Joel Goldsmith was devoured by me in October.


In October, I saw the musical phenom Cecilie McLorin Salvant in concert, and immediately following the concert, I purchased her latest CD entitled “For One to Love.” I am also listening to “Live in Cuba” by The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

Lets see what November holds!

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