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  • She is Selamawit Yohannes: Haftey with a Voice; Music That Moves Us All


    She is Selamawit Yohannes: Haftey with a Voice; Music That Moves Us All



    “Where words fail; music speaks”. Truer words have rarely been said about music than this quote from Hans Christian Andersen. If I wrote a thousand books and a million words for a hundred years, I would still not be able to fully express the way music has impacted my life and how music has been my greatest of healers. I have noticed one thing over the years; when I stop listening to music, I am asking for trouble. I think this is the case with all of us; where music is nowhere to be found, what hell is made evident. Music is the universal language that stills turbulence and gives meaning to the meaningless.

    I write these words inspired by the music of Selamawit Yohannes, an Ethiopian singer whose songs I bumped into on YouTube as it was running on continuous mode. The minute the song “Senay” came on with its catchy cadence and the rhythmic drum beats, I paused my writing and traced the arrow to the YouTube tab to see who was singing this music that was making my shoulders shimmy and my neck move side to side. What I was treated to was a video that was beautifully produced, a singer who was dripping with charisma and a voice that was through and through captivating.

    I never heard of Selamawit Yohannes before this day. But from the moment I heard her music, I subscribed to her channel and I could not get enough of her voice. I admit, when it comes to music I am a zealot. Let me hear a song I like and I will play it out like Donald Trump wore out his welcome at the White House. However, I expect a lot from musicians. I do not abide mediocrity nor will I ever write about music that does not move me and inspires a deep emotion in my heart. This is exactly what Selamawit’s music did for me last week; through her song, I was embraced by happiness and wrapped in melodies as if her voice was a gabi (blanket) on a cold December night.

    Here is the kicker though. The songs of Selamawit I kept listening to were in Tigrinia, a dialect spoken by Tigray people in Ethiopia. I don’t speak a lick of Tigrinia aside from four words I have picked up over the years. Hamushto, haftey, hawey, and mish–this is the extent of my knowledge of Tigrinia. Yet Selamawit’s music spoke to me because I could feel the essence of her soul through her voice. This is the magic of music; we don’t have to understand the language in order to love the music of a people. Music binds humanity in this way; I have met a lot of people who hate people from other tribes or nations, but rarely do I hear someone hate their music. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that church services are America’s most segregated hour; the inverse of this statement can be found at concerts. Music gathers the most ardent of foes under the umbrella of harmony; people who might otherwise detest one another let biases and preconceived notions go by the wayside the minute the music hits.

    I write this next paragraph of Ethiopia but really I write this for the world. Just because we might disagree politically or philosophically does not mean we have to disparage each other or bludgeon each other rhetorically. What unites us as a people is a lot greater than the current regime in power or the ideologies of the powerful. We all have common hopes, common dreams and all of us want a better future for our children. I pray this for my nation and the world; please put away antipathy and let love be our music. “Black” and “white”, believer versus non-believer, man versus woman, there are endless ways we inflict wounds on each other. If only we saw each other not as labels which don’t describe us but as fellow humans who are all in the struggle together. Humanity is one big orchestra; we all have different instruments and different ways we play music, harmony is found when we leverage our unique gifts and find a common music through our differences.

    Let me clarify this one thing, though my stance against the Ethiopian government is absolute, this should in no way be taken as a stand against my fellow Tigray people who are Ethiopian just like me. I love Tigray people as my own for they are my own. In my vein courses the blood and spirit of my grandfather four generations removed Ras Gebreyohanes who was the husband of Semeon Meshesha (family tree link). To hate Tigray people would be hating myself. The same can be said of all of us; not even the most rabid ethnic “purist” can say that they are not related to other tribes or ethnicities. Tribe is inconsequential when our blood comes from one. Demachin andinew. Let us remember that more than anything else; we are one people forged by one history. Though injustices are copious and past pains felt by many, we can only hope to heal from within when we treat each other as one family tied in by history and our common humanity.

    Next time, when you encounter someone who thinks different than you, instead of reverting to anger or animus, listen to their music and let the the songs of love heal us all. We have enough rancor and discord in the world, take a pause from the cacophony that is bleeding our spirits and humanity in the process–let harmony fill our souls. Listen to the music of Selamawit below and you will understand why I’ve been listening to her songs the whole time I’ve been writing this article. Her catchy tunes, her voice that is melodic and the addictive beats will have you moving and dancing right where you are at.

    Just now I met a woman named Angela who is a hairdresser here in Fort Collins. She asked me what I was working on and I told her that I’m writing an article about Selamawit Yohannes and the connective and healing power of music. Angela shared with me a story of how her mother, who was in a horrible car accident last January, has been ailing for a while and has not been too responsive. Yesterday, she visited her mom and decided to play John Denver’s album while giving her a foot massage. Her mom instantly became responsive and told Angela that she loved her. Angela was tearing up as she told me how she sobbed while hugging her mom. Music can heal us all in this way; music can give us peace in the midst of tribulation.

    Music is my maestro and melodies my serendipity. I give thanks to God above all and thank HIM for the music that is all around us. Let me end it on poetry, Selamawit means “she is peace” and Yohannes was the name of a former king of Ethiopia (see artwork below) who was once a rival of my ancestor Emperor Tewodros II (read Quintessential Jegna of Ethiopia)–the music of peace heals past pains and delivers love in the end. I pay respects to Emperor Yohannes IV the same way my father Fikremariam Million (Father’s Wisdom) paid respects to Haile Selassie when he signed up in the Ethiopian Navy instead of being embittered by the way his father Fitawary Million Tedla was taken away from him by injustices after World War II ended and Haile Selassie returned to power. Past is past; we move forward and let love be the music that heals humanity and brings us together as one. #SheisPeaceMusic

    “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

    If you appreciate the message behind this write up and love music regardless of genre or dialect, share this article on social media using #SheisPeaceMusic and make sure to like Selamawit’s page on Facebook (Selamawit Yohannes)

    Check out the music of Selamawit Yohannes and let her music move you.


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  • 7 Ways to Make Her Feel Like a Princess

    I remember when I was a young teenager I remember sitting around the campfire with my friends discussing the Disney princesses. Our purpose was two-fold: first, to identify which ones were the most attractive, and second, to rank them in order of their beauty and then argue as to who was right about the most attractive princess.



    Those were fun times. It was always a hearty discussion and each of us almost always had a different number one princess. Part of this debate was defending your opinion which meant you needed to be very familiar with the physical aspects and personality of the princess that you were championing.
    I'm not sure why we did this but as I've gotten older and reflected on those teenage discussions I have also realized that, while inadvertent, I was being prepared to recognize the princess I wanted to marry someday. She had to be very attractive, smart, funny, sweet and kind, strong, and courageous. When I met her many years later, I recognized her instantly.
    I believe that most men when they are engaged or newly wed would agree that they recognize the princess in their fiancee/spouse and she would say that he treats her like a princess. But how many women would say that they still feel like their husband's princess (or queen) after a few years of marriage? I suspect not nearly as many.
    Husbands, let me remind you how to make your wife feel like a princess.
    1. Save her from dragons. Whether it is the children, her own nerves, or pressures from life save her from them. Take her away on a date or maybe a get away. You might not be able to slay the dragons but you can help her escape them even if it's only temporary.
    2. Be her prince. Be a gentleman and shower her with jewels. They can be real jewels like ear rings or necklaces. Or they can be metaphorical jewels like opening the door for her, giving her your coat, or saying kind things.
    3. Shower her with treasures. They can be real treasures like ear rings or necklaces. Or they can be metaphorical treasures like opening the door for her, giving her your coat, or saying kind things. The small and simple things like kind words and deeds are the greatest treasures.
    4. Build her a castle. If you can do it, actually build her a real castle. However, most of us aren't going to be able to do that. Instead make your home, wherever it is, a sanctuary and somewhere that she feels safe. Her castle should be a place where she is protected from criticism and unkind words. In her castle she should feel confident and secure in who she is. Make your home her castle.

    5. Buy her shoes and clothes. Whether or not they are glass slippers girls love shoes. Need I say more?

    6. Make her feel pretty and outstanding. According to one definition of princess is "any very attractive or outstanding woman." Tell her she's pretty and amazing. Share with her why you're attracted to her and tell her the things you admire about her. Remind her that she is a princess because she is very attractive and outstanding.

    7. Treat her like the prize. This last one is the most important and encapsulates all of the others. I found this description of a princess in literature and it is perfect. "In terms of epic story structure, the Princess is the sought after person, the prize, the Holy Grail." Does your wife feel this way?


    Men, I challenge you to make sure your wife remembers the princess that she is. Women, I challenge you to be the princesses that your husbands believe you are.




    What do you do (or what does your husband do) to make your wife feel like a princess?


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  • 13 Tips to Increase Your Family’s Happiness and Health

    Obama was right—happy families are all alike. At least they share certain basic characteristics. Here are a few of the foundations experts say are key to a loving, cheerful home:

    1. Create cuddle time.
    You can’t overdose on hugs. It’s important for families to spend time snuggling in bed together, reading, or talking or playing games. This kind of positive touch helps kids feel loved and secure, plus it’s fun for parents!

    2. Sing together, stay together.
    The Von Trapp family had it right—singing together is a terrific way to bond as a family. Make up your own words to your favorite tunes; dance around the living room with your children; and use music to motivate room cleaning.


    3. Make room for fun.
    While it’s good to encourage your children’s schoolwork and extracurricular activities, too much emphasis on them can create tension and anxiety. Make time for activities that have no purpose other than to allow family members to enjoy spending time together. Play games, plot surprise parties, take long walks, explore a cave, plant a garden, or cook.

    4. Exercise together.
    Take a run or a bike ride to a local park with your child. At the park, you can take time to relax while your child plays in the sandbox or on the seesaw. This kind of outing allows parents to model healthy behavior, get exercise, and spend time with their kids.

    5. Create healthy habits.
    Junk food high in salt and sugar may taste appealing, but it will play havoc with your family’s health and moods. Create healthy snacking habits by leaving out bowls of fruit, cut-up vegetables, nuts, or dried fruit.

    6. Cook together.
    This is another way to get kids interested in healthy foods. While you’re whipping up dinner with your children you are encouraging healthy eating habits as well as teaching cooking, measurement, teamwork, and improvisational skills. Also, kids who help makes meals are more likely to eat them.

    7. Reward good behavior.
    It’s important to reinforce your child’s good behavior. But there’s no need to be extravagant. A trip to the humane shelter, a visit to the zoo, a movie and popcorn, or a slightly later bedtime can be good motivators.

    8. Read and write together.
    Make time every day for reading. Read aloud to the kids, or have the whole family spend time with their own books, or listen to an audiobook. Cuddling up on the couch can make it even cozier. It’s also important for children to spend some time writing each day.

    9. Go one-on-one.
    Parents with more than one child should try to spend a little time interacting just with one child each day, even if it’s just for ten minutes. That special time with a parent helps the child feel special and to bond with you.

    10. Have routines.
    Kids thrive when they know what to expect. So bedtime routines that involve bath, stories, and songs before sleep can minimize nighttime misbehavior. A morning routine can also help you get out the door faster with little fuss.

    11. Appreciate each other.
    Find little ways to show how much you value each other. One idea is to do a little happy dance every time a child returns from school or a parent from work.

    12. Remember sorry isn’t enough.
    When one of your children hurts the feelings of a sibling, it’s not enough to apologize. That child must also find a way to help heal the hurt she has caused, by helping with a chore or sharing a toy.

    13. Prioritize your marriage
    The most important thing you can do for your child is to love your spouse and to demonstrate that love. This models a good relationship for your child and helps to keep your marriage intact.




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