Sita Sings the Blues

I posted this movie 5 years ago… but it’s so great, I am sharing it again!

“Sita Sings the Blues” is based on the Hindu epic “The Ramayana”. Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina Paley is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Ramayana. Set to the 1920’s jazz vocals of torch singer Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as “the Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told.” It is written, directed, produced and animated by American artist Nina Paley.

For more about the film and about Nina Paley’s other work, see: http://sitasingstheblues.com

For more about how retroactive copyright restrictions almost prevented the release of the film, see this interview with Nina Paley: http://questioncopyright.org/nina_paley_sita_interview

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I have a question…

i have a question _

I often feel guilt for being who I am. It’s something that I’ve struggled with for many years. I wrote this email to a friend, earlier in the week:

From: aimeelovesyou
Sent: Wed 4/15/15 12:20 PM
To: SK

I often feel so much guilt. I have for years. Guilt for not making better use of my talents; Guilt for sometimes not wanting to go through the monotony of life; Guilt for abusing my body in the past; Guilt for not saying what I feel or guilt for hurting people’s feelings when I do; Guilt for not being more grateful for all the love & luck I have in my life. There is much more that I could mention — but it’s basically a resistance to life. Some sort of internal struggle or fight. I am not embracing, accepting or allowing what is. I’m turning it into something good/bad/right/wrong/better/worse. And none of it matters. None of it’s real. Real beingness is effortless. It feels like spaciousness and unconditional love. It feels open, indifferent and empty, yet intimate, and timeless. I know it. I am it. But only between the words, and only in moments of spontaneous allowing (non-resistance).

Each year of my life I feel like I allow more, and struggle less. But there is still a fight. Still a part of me that goes kicking and screaming. Still a part of me that refuses to allow, and looks for a way to shake things, until they settle in a formation that suits me better. The effort it takes to control or fight life, is the very thing that prevents one from living it fully.

It’s like being on the floor, sweaty and bloody, with your opponent, side by side. Completely spent, completely vulnerable. Looking at each other in exhaustion. Feeling foolish for having expended all that energy in the fight. In that state of surrender, what the fight was about is immediately forgotten, and completely irrelevant. At that moment, one can experience the bliss and effortless of being. The joy of just being with what is. Accepting that one is only fighting life itself — which is who and what we are.

I’m babbling. ;) But I just wanted to share my thoughts. To accept all that is. To allow myself to be me, and life to be life (which is also me). I’ll have to ponder this more, and maybe turn it into a blog post. ;) For now, I’m just going to focus on having an effortless day, full of life living life.

Love,
A.

Shortly after that email, I received two emails in the same vein, from two different friends. They were not related in any way, had no idea what I was feeling or communicating earlier that day, and live on opposite sides of the USA. One email was about an ‘inner light’ and acceptance. The other email was about embracing vulnerability. My life is often synchronistic in this way. Whenever I open, and become vulnerable and true to myself, the Universe sends me flowers. It sends me messages and signs. Confirmation that I am on the right path.

After spending more time on guilt, and why I find it challenging to truly embrace myself — which is to embrace life. A few things came to mind. Why do I make myself wrong so much? Why do I always view myself as ‘the bad guy’? I think I do this because I see myself wanting different things than most people (obviously we all want to be happy and loved, but we choose different ways to address that need — my way is often considered odd). Living in a way that’s not the norm. Thinking things that aren’t necessarily mainstream.

There is a quote that comes to mind: “If everybody likes what you are doing, you’re doing it wrong.” (I’m not sure who the author of that quote is. It’s seems unknown.)

I wouldn’t say wrong — I would say why? Why are you doing things just like everyone else?

Instead of feeling guilty for the choices I make, I should question myself: Who gave me the idea of how things should be done? Where did I learn it?

I question what it means to be a friend.

I question what it means to be a lover/partner.

I question what it means to be an artist.

I question what it means to be a family member.

I question what it means to be loving.

I question what it means to be compassionate.

I question what it means to be loyal.

I question what it means to be honest.

I question what it means to be human.

I question what it means to be alive.

I question what it means to be me.

Is it possible that I can create my own definition of those words? Could I not love people in my own way? Could I not be an artist in my own way? Could I not be a friend or family member in my own way? And if I did, and I fully accepted myself….. Would I ever feel guilty for being me? The question itself sounds absurd. I’ll have to question myself more often. To remind myself that life is not a program. And being human doesn’t have to be a blueprint we follow.

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Getting Honest & Being Authentic

unprotected presence honest authentic

This week (with the support of an awesome friend) I tried a 100% honest day. Which meant, if someone said, “Hey, can we talk later tonight? I’ll call you at 7PM, Okay?” My reply would be, “No, sorry. Weekends are actually better for me, I have unlimited mobile minutes. Can we talk then?” Another example is, “Would you like to come to dinner? A group of us are going out.” My reply would be, “I’m more of a one-on-one person. I tend to enjoy intimate get-togethers much more. But have fun — and thanks for the invitation!”

After the 100% honest day was over. I couldn’t believe how easy it was! It was really no big deal. I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. I think people prefer honesty. And they wouldn’t (especially friends) want me to do anything that I really wasn’t keen on.

I’m excited to keep the honest & authentic train rolling. :) It will be a nice experiment for me at first, and a lasting habit in the long run. I will be so much better for it, the world will be too.

Here are a few videos (below) to inspire you, and me, to be more honest.

Oh! And one more thing. This is the best definition of what it means to be authentic. By far, the best definition I’ve ever heard/read: Being authentic means showing up as unprotected presence. (Quote by Roxanne Hai)

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12 Life Changing Questions

life changing questions

This week a friend sent me a link to some interesting questions. They were 35 life changing questions written by Jason Nazar (in 2013, at Forbes). I’ll share only 12 of the questions with you (because 35 is a lot!), and then I’ll answer them myself. Feel free to email me or comment with your answers too. It wold be fun and interesting to know how people are answering the questions.

  1. What are you pretending not to know?
  2. Why don’t you do the things you know you should be doing?
  3. What are your values and are you being true to them?
  4. Are your “shoulds” getting in the way of your happiness?
  5. If you achieved all of your life’s goals how would you feel? How can you feel that along the way?
  6. If you weren’t scared what would you do?
  7. What/Who did you make better today?
  8. What do you want your life to be in 5 years?
  9. What can you do today to improve?
  10. What’s your WHY?
  11. If we could wave a magic wand and do anything together, what would that look like?
  12. How would your role models act and carry themselves?

What are you pretending not to know?
I’m definitely pretending not to know how much ignorance (which manifests as hatred, greed, stress, mindlessness, destruction and abuse) is in the world. You see, I pretend not to know as I indeed know. Who I am is a direct result of all that is ‘wrong’ with the world. The optimism I carry, the beliefs that I have, the work that I create, the blog posts that I write, the goals that I pursue — they are all aimed to raise the level of awareness, and to be more mindful. In order to carry on this way, it’s best for me to ‘tune out’ of the news, shopping malls, rat race, and other mind & spirit influencing distractions that program the general population — often programing them in the worst way.

Why don’t you do the things you know you should be doing?
Mostly because it doesn’t feel authentic to me. And sometimes because I’m simply being lazy and enjoying my freedom to be in the moment.

What are your values and are you being true to them?
Integrity, Openness, Well-being, Forgiveness, Awareness, Creativity, Authenticity, Excellence, Fairness, Trust, Self-discipline… I could go on and on. Some are easier for me than others. The hardest ones are probably Integrity and Authenticity. I do a lot of things to ‘save face’, and I don’t like that about myself. I wish I had the heart to ‘tell it straight’. But often, I don’t want to hurt feelings. This also can be turned around on myself. Sometimes I go on too long with things, before I look myself in the face and get real with myself.

Are your “shoulds” getting in the way of your happiness?
Sometimes. I’ve lived a very alternative lifestyle for a very long time (and practiced cutting out the shoulds). So I don’t have shoulds that rule me. Not in friendships, family, or work. Except… the ‘save face’ part that I mentioned above. Sometimes I do say or do things (like visit, call, small-talk, etc.) because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. But it’s not often. And if it is, or becomes more frequent, I try to snip it in the bud. I’m definitely aware of it, which makes it easier to see and stop.

If you achieved all of your life’s goals how would you feel? How can you feel that along the way?
I would feel a sense of lightness and completeness.
Again, it’s very similar to the answers above. I’d like to connect with people on a deeper more authentic level. I’d like to be more bold, more communicative, more straightforward — even at the risk of hurting feelings. I think I would inspire more people, than people that would have feelings hurt. I noticed the more I hold off, hold back or shut down — the heavier I feel and the more incomplete my life is. If I can boldly stand in who I am, and what is important to me, and how I feel — so much more can be accomplished. Life would be much more clear and straightforward. There would be a power present, that isn’t fully present now.

If you weren’t scared what would you do?
I would make videos. I would vlog. Fear is a big part of that, but a lot of other things are wrapped into it. I’m not used to being in front of a camera, so I feel like I wouldn’t be comfortable or have anything to say. But the only way to know for sure, is to test it. To actually do it and see how it feels and unfolds.

What/Who did you make better today?
I definitely feel that I made two people better today. In the way that I usually do; encouraging them to be better/brighter. I’m always doing this for myself (giving pep talks to myself), so it’s easy to do it for others — and I enjoy it.
I also ate super-healthy today. So I would imagine I made my health a little better too. And my dogs too! :) We took a great walk in the sun, and we both ate healthfully, and we had plenty of snuggle time.

What do you want your life to be in 5 years?
Powerful, Peaceful, Promising.

What can you do today to improve?
Look at what I wrote today, and take mental note.
Get to bed early.
Wake up early.
Say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I am being asked something.

What’s your WHY?
The big why for most of the choices in my life (that seem odd to most people) is because I cherish freedom. I protect it. And often, when I am making big decisions, I compare it to my need for freedom. Will it give me more freedom, or take it away? If the answer is the latter, I tend to stay clear of it. Of course this is not the case for everything, but it is true for many things. Especially my work and relationships.

If we could wave a magic wand and do anything together, what would that look like?
If I could do anything with someone, being silent and just being comes to mind. Maybe make a video. Maybe dance. Maybe star gaze or go for a walk. Maybe help someone in need. Something simple. Something personal and intimate. Something loving and appreciative of Life.

How would your role models act and carry themselves?
Bold and loving. Fierce* and giving. I also think they would have a direct/strong presence, and be in tune with nature and animals.
(I mean fierce in the slang way.)

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Ram Dass: The Steps to Success

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The World Is Yours: Alan Watts

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Thank You, Greg Boyle (and Everyone at Homeboy Industries!)

Homeboy-Bakery-Bread-e1381946167538

Father Greg Boyle_g-dog

Homeboy_Industries

homegirl industries

Just in case you haven’t heard of Homeboy Industries and the work of Father Greg Boyle, I thought I would a share it with you. You can read the book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, or watch the documentary G-Dog, or eat at Homegirl Cafe, and much, much, more. There is so much goodness to experience through the work that Father Greg Boyle sparked. And that spark has now turned into Homeboy Industries wildfires. It has helped Los Angeles communities (and people all over the world) in such powerful ways, and it stands as an example of what is possible when love & compassion are unstoppable.

All I have to say is, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Below are a few clips from the G-Dog documentary, and a few other videos that share the philosophy, work, and story of Homeboy Industries.

“Don’t forget, you are the hero of your own story.” – Greg Boyle

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Filed under change, community, rehabilitation