Jihan Jamal-Baraka's Weekly e-Newsletter on Life, Dance, Music, Yoga and Cultural Arts
Weekly Briefs and Special Announcements 

Sunday Morning Over Coffee  ~ Sunday, January 10, 2010 ~  " ... A time to mourn and a time to dance ..."  



 In this Issue: (Scroll down to each segment)
  • Hello, Again! ~ "Dances of a Woman"
  • On A Sad Note - In memory of Raina Millman, Dancer & Friend Extraordinaire
  • Be A Queen, Move Like a Goddess, Dance Like A Diva ~ Weekly Class Schedules & Specialty Workshops
  • Mighty Muse ~"Here I Come to Save the Day! _ New column, beginning February 2010
  • Basboussa's Boutique & Unique Design Alluring &Feminine Fashions & International Gifts for Every Queen, Goddess & Diva and her Sultan! 
  •  Past, Present and Future ~ Dance, Music and Cultural Arts Sightings  "Thurs, FEB 18, 2010 Student Recital at West Miami Middle Community School"
"... A time to mourn, and a time to dance ..." ~ Ecclesiastic iii
 "Dances of a Woman"
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Dear Friends, Colleagues and Students,
Hello, Again,
It's been a while since I have issued the SMOC. As some of you may know by now, my father passed away on January 28, 2009, and I've really been trying to write, since his departure, but somehow, I haven't brought myself to the task of doing one of the things that give me joy and allow me creative expression. I can't believe it's been this long, and I don't know if it has been my way mourning, or if I have been merely been stiffled by this human experience, or even a way of coping or not knowing what to do, in facing other matters in my life that have set me in a state of "suspended animation".  You may refer to it as a response to stress or depression ... whatever ... why even bother giving it a name? It is just what has been happening to me, and I have surrendered to this paralyzing lack of writing activity, while stories have been dancing about in my mind and soul, wanting to jump out and decorate the typing screen, like sequence perfectly sewn and sratigically placed on fabric, creating elaborate patterns, calling for attention and admiration from the beholder; A seemingly involuntary disinterest in my own thought process' importance - A creative sojourn and hibernation, as if I were paying tribute and respect to the memory of my many personal losses this past year. And yet, this time of non-communication has also been a period of  empoweing observation and deep emotional Zen-like meditative inertia - a healing process, perhaps? Or merely a base human response to not really knowing what else to do, except that which is ultimately necessary.  I have allowed my body to take over, and I've danced more than before ... as if the body was allowed to express in its own language, that which the mind was abstaining from expressing in words.
Aside from my personal gloom, the debilitating doom-like prospects of our global economy, and everyone's participation in the sensationalistic weariness and feelings of helplessness and the fear of financial devastation, have also attempted to poison my mind, creating actual situations of lack of abundance, and thus augmenting my fears of lack of independence, pecking at the back of my brain, like the raven in Edgar Allan Poe's poem, chanting the negative zhikr ... "Nevermore, nevermore ..."  Such drama!  I have to be careful that I don't manifest the worst! As the saying goes, "as a woman thinketh ..."
So, after all these months, all of my weariness, my worries, my fears and my tears - I'm back! In spite of anything, and because of all uncertainties.   
There's a time to mourn and a time to dance, etc., as the biblical scripture depicts.
I will forever miss my father, as I also miss my Mom, who died six years ago, on March 19, 2003. (I can't believe its been that long, either).  There comes a time when one has to get back on track and continue to do the things that give meaning to our lives; those things which bring us joy and somewhat define who we are (perhaps only to ourselves); Those things which give us the gumption to continue on our path, however humble it may be, but for sure, a path which allows us to forge our imprint in this very short, but wonderful life - The things that give us the moxie to be able to perform at all levels, in the face of death, sadness, strife, or even just a bout of sitting on the Pitty-Potty.  We must remember our brevity in this life, and we should do what we can to make it meaningful ... We each have a purpose, a mission, a goal ... and we each definitely have a reason to be here.  We are created in the image of God, and we are on this earth to connect with the highest of all beings (our Godhead, Higher Self, or whatever makes you comfortable). I keep telling myself all this, while I sit in front of the television (now having to deal with the impertinense of the digital television age. I wonder if my discontent is because I am disturbed by the absurdity of comformity, or because I've had quite a bit of loss, and I've just had enough!  I guess the hardest thing to accept is just how little control I really have in life), instead of getting to work and be creative. But I recognize that there's also a time to do, and a time to be still ...
Each day, I learn new things, either about myself, or about life. Each day, I depend more and more, on God to see me through each moment, specially during hardships. Each day, I cling on for dear life, to the things that make my life meaningful, and I relate how my parents lives and their choices, brought me to this moment, in my unique reality (as similar as it may be to yours), when I make my own decisions. The hardest thing is to realize that I have no parents on this earthplane, but I speak to them in my dreams and I mention them in my prayers, and I ask the devine souls, that if it is possible, that my parents watch over me and help me, wherever they may be ... Of course, I don't want to mess with their present level of experience. After all, everyone keeps reassuring me that they are "in a better place", so I don't want to interfere. I just want them to know how much I miss them.  I've lost many friends in 2009, too, either by death or by a chosen separation. They may be gone but not forgotten, and the love and memories remain.
So many things in my life have changed in 2009, and continue to change in the present. Some, by my right, wrong or indiferent choices, many by destiny - Should I even go there? Maqtuub (in Arabic) "It is written", is an easy verbal solution, I suppose? Perhaps? Whatever the case may be, life is continuously changing, and we must remain resilient, flexible and strong ... sounds like the commencement of a dance warm-up routine. Everything in my life is about dance, so it is befitting.
I've taken down the wreath of yellow ribbons from my front door. The photos of memories that seemed stiffled in time, for the past almost four years have been boxed away.  And I finally found the gumption to remove my wedding band, and put it in a safe place, where I couldn't place my marriage. I am no longer awaiting Ahmed's arrival, as he has changed his mind, or gotten tired of waiting, or pressured by his family, and the burden or our commitment ... or who knows what? I've experienced my own pressures, too, but I'm a rebel and I don't give in easily. I just can't do this dance alone. I gave myself until December to react to nothingness. I haven't heard from Ahmed in a very long time, and I have accepted that this journey has run its course, and that there's no more to be anticipated.  I'd like to think, as MaryAnne Williamson teaches, "there are no failed relationships. All relationships are succesfful, up to the endline, when they have reached their purpose in our lives."  But I would be lying if I were to say that I am not grieving this loss, too, or that I haven't cried myself a river ... enough to alter the contents of the Nile ... or that I have not feared devastation from this loss. I surrender, finally. Even a warrior knows when it is time to sheath the sword, and still hold her face to the sun.
 I also had great and positive experiences in 2009. I was featured on the cover of Florida's own, Yallah Magazine, along with one of my beloved teachers, Scheherezade, and my colleague and "cousin" (as I like to tease her), Maria Jammal. The mag also featured a background story on me. This brought me great joy - To be recognized as a "mover and shaker" in our dance community. I was very happy to be honored in this way! And I was in love with all the great photos featured, by Sacha Hidalgo (now, Sacha Nairobi), who transformed me into a Queen, Goddess and Diva, through the magic of her camera's lens! Everyone thought I'd had "work done", or that the photos were either old or air brushed. I have dubbed Sacha the "Escavulo" of this century.
I also had the great pleasure to have been invited by Nathalie, to teach at her second annual Miami Bellydance Convention, over the Labor Day weekend, September 4 to 7, 2009. I was thrilled to have been given an almost unanimous standing ovation, and had to keep my tears of joy at bay! I'm a ham on the stage ... I was in heaven! Thank you, all!
I also had very nice complements for my group's performance at FIU's South Campus theater,  for Adriana Etcheberri's production of "Gems - Empowering Women Through Dance", on October 9, 2009. I also had the pleasure of teaching at her studio "Belly2Abs" in Coconut Grove, from May to December.
I have had a very nice winter holiday season with my son and family, for which I'm also greatful. It was abundant in familial gatherings and all the experiences that unfold with loved ones, including the dysfuntional stuff. (Go ahead, LOL!)
 I look to 2010 as the year of healing and change, for the better, for all, and I wish everyone a grand entering into the new decade, and the promise of hope, abundance in all areas, and the fulfillment of our goals and dreams.
I've made resent changes regarding my present life, such as not teaching on Saturdays, for now. Leaving that space open to spend with family and friends, and planning weekend workshops and travels. I've added a new class during the week, on Wednesdays, revolving around my new vision and plan - B.O.D.Y. (Bellyrina Oriental Dance & Yoga) Raks Extreme. Everything about me needs to be extreme, at this moment. It's a way of resilience; Of reinventing myself, while I deal with life's "things."
"Everyting is possible, nothing is forever, and life goes on." That's my motto on Facebook, and in my mind. 
 I am in gratitude for all that God and life and the universe have given me, and for that which is yet to be unveiled.
 I wish you the same, as gratitude is what gives us grace.
Do your dance, and do it well!
 Until next Sunday, Have a lovely week!
Jihan Jamal-Baraka

         "Life is a dance both of joy and of sadness. Happiness is a choice.
Live your life ... Do your dance, and do it well" 



  On A Sad Note - In memory of
Raina Millman
Who left this earth's stage on December 26, 2009
Return to the universe, and dance amognst the stars ...
I will always be inspired by your positive, kind, loving and joyous spirit.
I am honored and a better person for having known you!