Remain Teachable – Live Well

I have learned that in order to experience joy, you have to be open to experiencing pain. In similar fashion, sometimes you have to get through the ugly in order to see the beauty and this is what I am discovering as I continue on this cultural journey. There are so many layers and so many cultures and we sometimes form hasty opinions based on one or two experience with the protective layer and never venture any further. Today, I have a new appreciation for the wonderful array of art, architecture and artists that is a major part of the Ethiopian culture, in addition to its ties to the popular Rastafarian culture.

Next stop, India.
The Indian Dance Educators Association (IDEA) is excited to partner with Gallery Underground in Crystal City in a unique collaboration of visual and performance art that crosses cultures.

On October 18, IDEA will present at Gallery Underground a preview of our upcoming program “Silver Screen: Celebrating Hundred Years of Indian Cinema through Classical Dance.”‎

On October 26, enjoy the 26th Annual Indian Festival at the Tampa Fairgrounds.



Meklit Hadero – Feeling Good

Click here to listen!

“You may not have heard Meklit Hadero’s music before, but once you do, it’ll be tough to forget. Hadero’s sound is a unique blend of jazz, Ethiopia, the San Francisco art scene and visceral poetry; it paints pictures in your head as you listen.”  – NPR’s Tell Me More

“[Meklit] sings of fragility, hope and self-empowerment… [with a] sensuous, gentle sound. She is stunning.” – San Francisco Chronicle

Beef with Gomen

Last week at the Queen of Sheba, I had this dish, which is a combination of beef with collard greens, lentils and mushrooms — very spicy. This was a very good experience and it inspired me to do a little research on the cultural contributions of Ethiopians living in the US.

Gift of Acceptance – India Arie and Idan Raichel

Not enough artist are making songs like this!
We all want the same things from life,
We want peace, love and prosperity.
But can we give up our need to be right?
Give the world a present, give the gift of your acceptance.
Give the world a present, give the gift of your acceptance.

We can debate to the end of time who’s wrong and who is right,
Or I can honor your choices and you can honor mine.

What to Wear?

I am on my way to explore Ethiopian Culture – Dinner at Queen of Sheba in Tampa, Florida.  As it is 85 degrees in Florida (which is normal), getting dressed for these cultural events always leave me with questions?  So this too shall be a learning opportunity,

I did a little research and found out that there is an Ethiopian Association in Tampa and I wanted to share this information from the site:

“Vision- The Ethiopian Community Association of Tampa Bay, Inc. is a non-profit organization focused in improving the socio-economic and physical viability of the Ethiopian community in Tampa Bay area. Since its establishment in 1998, the association strives to promote community relations, cultural exchanges, education and unity with in the community.

    Mission- Our Mission is to serve as a catalyst for socio-economic, commercial development, housing and physical revitalization for Ethiopian Community of Tampa Bay.
      Value Statement-


      Fairness – Every resident will be treated with fairness


      Respect – Every resident will be respected


      Unity – The community will be a unified community all sharing for the improvement of the community as a whole


      Belief – A belief that we will succeed no matter what the obstacles


      Integrity – A high moral approach in everything we do


    Everyone Count – No one will be left behind in this process.”

NO. NO. NO. – How Religion Defines Islam Culture

Religion or Culture

Culture is lifestyle of people belonging to particular society. Religion is a set of rules (custom) which makes people to have or follow particular lifestyle.

Culture is defined by the traditions, language, art, food, and various attributes of a particular group.  Religion can be classified underneath the concept of “culture.  In other words, culture is the way you live and religion influences the culture.  However, religion can create it’s own culture and many times does.

“Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion does not dominate everyday life in the West today, whereas Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds, and make no division between secular and sacred. They believe that the Divine Law, the Shari’a, should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important.” <ahref=”

Muslims are people who practice Islam (the religion). Both words are used to refer to religious practices, and even though it includes people from many different regions around the globe, culture seems to be intertwined with religion, as one.  This would be an example of how religion creates its own culture. Unfortunately, all I can remember from my conversation with the women on my recent visit to the Islamic Society in Tampa is the Word No.  No, you can’t do this, No, you are not allowed.  No, you can’t wear that.  It is not that I do not respect that other cultures have different practices but when those practices are represented as right for everyone, it can be offensive.


I try to look at people as individuals and uniquely so.    When I am judged by my appearance, it tells me that nothing else matters except what I look like.  I have seen the effect of this when women and some men are so concerned about their outward appearance, that they neglect to develop their inner self.  As a result, they don’t know who they are.  They become what others told them they are supposed to look and act like.  Too many are in debt trying to keep up appearances; others have mutilated bodies and even died from inappropriate and unnecessary surgical procedures trying to conform to someone else’s idea of what they are supposed to look like.  If as much passion and education is put into learning more about our inner strengths and potentials, or even learning about one another, we would quickly see that ‘honor’ is not how one is dressed.

Your Dress is Disrespectful

Interesting visit to the Islam Center this week where I was able to meet for Islam 101 and visit the Temple.  Islam 101 was one on one with the teacher and he was eager to share Islam’s beliefs and customs.  Most of it seem very similar to Christian and Buddhist beliefs, except with different names.  

The Center consists of the Mosque and several other buildings and trailers.   There are two separate entrances to the mosque, one for women and one for men.  The teacher said that is because women are not comfortable praying in front of the men.  However, he did say that husband and wives pray together in their home. 

When we went inside the Mosque, prayer time was about to begin and the ladies there told us that we were welcome to stay.  As the prayer session started, I felt uncomfortable because we had been given chairs and was spectator-like and I remembered what the teacher had said about women not wanting to pray in front of others.  

After the prayer session, one of the women came over to talk with us and she was telling us about the Quran and its teachings.  One thing she said sounded contradictory to what the teacher had told us earlier but mostly, all I could hear her saying was no, no, no.   This reminded me of how religion sometimes take rigid actions in an attempt to control certain behaviors.   On one hand, they say, “God loves you, all of us are God’s children BUT you have to do these things.” 

Since all of these religions are similar and based on some of the same teachings, it puzzles me that they go to such great lengths to be different.  The differences are not just cultural, they are religious beliefs that they pin their life and future generations’ life to and hearing her say “no” so many times felt like an attack on my chosen belief.

Muslim tradition is that women do not show any part of their bodies – so I found out that my dress was a sign of disrespect.  Being on the conservative side, this seem like just another “no.”  No, you can’t dress like that! No, you must not drink that!  No, you must not eat that! No, you must not do that!   There seems to be so much emphasis on the external and I think that that is what is wrong with religion.   Many people keep up appearances so when someone goes off the deep end, everyone is surprised. The following link tells of a similar situation that happened to a teacher in England.