photo: Lori and Mandy Naseelah  with Zoey Jakes (center). October 2015

With Schoolhouse Raqs fast approaching, I have been thinking back on all of the workshops I have ever taken. There have been a lot! I have been rather privileged to belong to a great lineage of dancers through my primary teacher, which traces back to Fifi Abdou (love that woman). Add to that the long list of dancers whom I have taken workshops. Local and regional favorites, as well as some very well known dancers, are on that roll. Taletha Al Badr, Avassa, Zoey Jakes, Chandara Gamal, Laylia White, Yasmina Ramsey, Amy Sigil…the list goes on and on.

One may think I would stop taking workshops at some point. Or perhaps I may start to feel as if I must only follow my own style. However, I want more workshops. I would love to soak up all of the energy, knowledge and wisdom from every dancer possible. I have a “style,” I think. But to me, each and every workshop is an opportunity to learn a new move, a new way of doing the same move, a look at my self as a dancer and to admire those great dancers around me. I may know a lot at this point in the game, but I definitely have a long way to go, and I don’t ever presume any one dancer ever knows it ALL (except maybe Fifi…lol). Workshops are where I get to tap into all that makes the art what is.

I once read that great runners never try to beat someone else’s time. The great runners run to beat his/her own previous time. This is how I feel workshops should be. I am not looking to exactly duplicate the style of that dancer, but to improve my own style. Maybe I will learn a new a favorite move. Maybe I will just tuck that move into my mental “file” to be pulled out at a later date while hammering out a choreography. Maybe I’ll use it in during an improv because it suddenly feels like the time and place to throw it in. However, if I had never taken the workshop, I would not even have that particular tool in my box to pull out.

There is always something to take away from workshops – always.

And so, with this sentiment in place, I want to formally invite you all to our spring “thaw out” event: Schoolhouse Raqs. Please see the info at Also be sure to check out our autumn event, Gypsy Mystique, as more details become available. 

“Time, time, time
See what’s become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please”

(The Bangles – Hazy Shade Of Winter Lyrics | MetroLyrics)


Oh the possibilities!

It is time for me to talk about Thyme. Many people have heard for this plant, but few have first hand knowledge or use it. I feel it is an often neglected plant as it can be easily disregarded as “just a kitchen herb.” But what an herb it is! It holds the potential to be a huge immune booster in this time of anti-biotic resistance. You see, thyme has long been used in respiratory ailments. The ancient Romans used it for this purposes and are thought to be the ones who introduced it to Britain. During the time of the plague of Black Death, small bouquets of thyme were sniffed to aid those hoping to avoid catching the illness. IT has been noted by the herbalist Culpepper to be “…a noble strengthener of the lungs, as notable a one as grows, nor is there a better remedy growing for hooping cough. It purgeth the body of phlegm and is an excellent remedy for shortness of breath. It is so harmless you need not fear the use of it. An ointment made of it takes away hot swellings and warts, helps the sciatica and dullness of sight and takes away any pains and hardness of the spleen: it is excellent for those that are troubled with the gout and the herb taken anyway inwardly is of great comfort to the stomach.” Gerard, a notable herbalist in the Middle Ages,  suggested its use for pains in the head, leprosy and the “falling sickness.”

Have you used Listerine? One of the ingredients in the popular mouthwash is Thymol. This is the oil of thyme. While many sources insist the active ingredients in Listerine have no benefit at all, I beg to differ, All of the active ingredients have been shown to be bactericidal to some degree. Not only does it taste great with lemon on baked white fish, but it has been long used in the meat industry during the preservation process. Studies as recent as 2016 show thyme has a bactericidal effect on the the strains of bacteria causing meat born pathogens, like listeria, etc.

At a time where a lot of us are coming out the “Hazy Shades of Winter,” Thyme is one natural tool in the chest to combat those seasonal illnesses which seem to crop up.

Thyme to use it

I, personally, love to use thyme for respiratory illness. There is a blend I particularly suggest to my family and clients, called Fenugreek & Thyme, which may help to reduce the inflammation of the sinus mucous membranes and relieve that feeling of pressure in the head.

A tea (decoction) of thyme herb may be sipped to help when there is sore throat and/or inflammation of the tonsils.

Thyme has been used as a carmative, as well. This means it relaxes smooth muscles and allows for the alleviation of indigestion like feelings.

Some studies suggest that using Thyme may enhance the effect of some other antibacterial substances. In an age of antibiotic resistant infections, this is good to know.

The essential oil of thyme (thymol) has been shown to be antimicrobial in many studies. I like to add a few drops of thyme oil to my mop water and to the solution I use to clean my bathroom. I have seen the essential oil of thyme included in many blends used as deodorants, both for the armpits and the house. Making a rinse containing a few drops of thyme essential oil may help to prevent skin rashes and/or infections. Studies have been done on the decoction of thyme used as a wash, of sorts, to deter acne. In one such study, it outperformed OTC acne remedies.

**Thyme oil may be irritating to some. It is suggested to do a patch test when investigating using the essential oil for yourself. It is contraindicated in times of pregnancy.

Isn’t about Thyme you use it, too?





















Sources:, accessed 2/21/2017, accessed 02/21/2017, accessed 02/21/2017, accessed 02/21/2017, accessed 02/21/2017, accessed 02/21/2017