12.5.14

Grow.

I tend to burry my nose in news at times. It can be a hard thing to have a sense of global awareness because once you start looking at the worlds issues it seems like its a never ending abyss of darkness. Its crazy to think that every person has a different reality. almost 8 billion people in this world and not one story is the same. When I was growing up, my mom would tell me how lucky I was. That there were children all over the world starving. That bad things were happening. I happened to be born into a safe environment with parents who would love and protect me. I had food. A warm bed…. How quickly I learned to take that for granted. I was sneaking around doing stupid stuff with my friends, obsessing about how skinny or chubby I was getting. Drinking and doing whatever else that represented rebellion or freedom at a young age. It was so easy for me to unplug my brain and pretend that my problems were important. Thats what teenagers do right? Magnify mini dramas. My mom would say… "Aja you think you are a spectacle, but nobody really cares what you wear ." I remember thinking how "mean" I thought that was of her to say. Hahaha. Embarrassing to think back on. But all a part of growing up. Then slowly its as if consciousness started to seep in. As I grew older I could see myself more clearly, and then I started to explore my relationship with the world. With others. Everything became a game. How can I treat people? How do people treat me? How do I let others effect my mind? Why are my emotions unstable? What can I do to have more control over my emotions and my mind? What is "good"? I want to be "good" because I know that "bad" feels yucky. How can I be good? How will the world respond to me if I am good? How can I be better? How good can I be? Can I actually get rid of my selfish tendencies and my ego? Man I could go on for days… I went to work. And hope was blossoming inside of me. I was looking at the world through different lenses. I made a bunch of vision boards. Big cardboard collages of the things I wanted to attract into my life. Every time I got stuck, or lost, or afraid of the future, I made a vision board. I convinced others to make them too. I really did (and truly do) believe that if you want things to happen in life you have to visualize them and say what you want out loud. After years of vision boards my life started to change. First there were subtle shifts. And then it happened rapidly. I noticed that every transition point had a crossroad. Right before a major shift happened I had to chose a path. One of them was scary and exciting and unpredictable, and one path was safe and obvious and almost complacent. At every crossroads it seemed I was going to make someone uncomfortable. There would be people in my life used to the way things had always been. They had adjusted to a comfortable and predictable me. If I was going to rock that boat, someone would be upset with me. I found that as long as I followed that honest voice in my heart. The one that said "I really want to go down this path" My life would progress beautifully. A lot of times the transition points were horrific. I felt as though I was responsible for other peoples feelings. You know I learned that as long as my integrity was in tact, I would be okay. I definitely made some pretty serious mistakes at times. How I handled situations was less than perfect. I am only human though, and that means I have to practice forgiveness as well. Cant go around hating myself for things that happened in the past. I can however try to do more "good" in the world then "bad". And make right where I have wronged. I know this seems like a rant. And thats probably what it is. But I just want to say that as I sit and pay attention to the news and the world, I have a choice. I can either keep challenging myself to be better. To think bigger, to be more brave. I can treat the world with kindness and love and work hard to help those in need. I can be a good listener, and not be afraid to hug someone or touch their shoulder with care, I can smile more often. I can look at whats happening in the world and allow it to soften my heart so that I share it with others or think of ways to help. I can be conscious enough to not express anger to a common stranger over petty road rage or waiting in line at the post office. I can choose to educate myself, and challenge my spiritual thoughts, or lack there of.I can ask big questions and seek out the answers. I can create, I can invent, I can grow....

Or I can stay right here. Stagnant but safe. A little hurt by the things I have done, and bruised by the things that have been done to me. I can not pay attention to others, and not worry about what "good" or "bad" is. Not worry about a global consciousness. Not worry about what I am doing here or how I got here. I can not feel overwhelmed by what is. I can live inside of a small yet comfortable space where only a few people exist and feel really safe.

Sometimes the second option sounds good. So much less work. Almost like a vacation from thought.
I get it. I get why so many people stay in that space. Aside from the fact that its a privilege to not have to care, Its just easy.

Dont do it. Expand yourself. Grow.

Thanks for reading.
Love Aja

1.5.14

How can we help?

I am sitting here with a heavy heart. You know, I have always had a deep urge to help the world become a brighter place for those who feel dim. That being said, its easy to feel helpless in a world this big. I have found myself spiraling down the ,"what can I even do to help anyone?" tunnel so many times. I know that music has always been a platform for me to encourage people. I am grateful for that. I still find myself wanting to do more. Lately I have been speaking with people about the refugee crisis in the middle east. The thing is.. Most of us just assume these problems are bigger than we are as people and way over our heads. They seem unsolvable. They might not be solvable right now. Thats something I have had to face. But does that mean I don't look at it? Learn more about it? No. I am looking at it now. I am seeing so many displaced families. Mostly children without parents. Where there is war, there are displaced women and children. Those women and children are just like Arrow and I. Wow. They have no city, no neighborhood, no school, no home. I want to help them. I want them to have food, shelter, love, comfort. I want to find out how I can help. I know the best way right now is to look at it. To bring awareness to it. To show people whats happening so they can feel a connection to it. If this was happening here, we would be forced to look at it. Read about whats happening in Syria. Over 2 million people have fled in search of safety. Over a hundred thousand dead. Lets talk about it. Lets read about it. Lets find a way to be involved.  Here is a link about something that happened this week. This school was actually targeted. 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-reports-of-napalmlike-bomb-attack-on-aleppo-playground-emerge-after-mps-vote-against-military-action-8790841.html

26.3.14

Random post about relationships. Open for discussion.

Yes. I deleted this post. Honestly after I wrote it, I myself felt that it was a little judgmental.  There are so many people with so many different stories I can't begin to put anybody into a box. It was on my mind off and on for the past few weeks, so I just decided… " Aja, you don't need to back this up if you feel differently about what you wrote now." So I took it down. Love you all. Thanks for helping me grow.

15.5.12



I am going to be a mother. Its the greatest gift of my life. I am tremendously fortunate to have a loving family, and a perfect husband to support me in my choice to be a mother. My life has been a series of coincidental blessings. I wouldn't say that it has been a perfect road, however I would say that it has brought me to what feels like a perfect destination.

I married my best friend despite our drastically different upbringing, and our misguided understanding of what normalcy meant. I had the courage to follow my heart in a world where people get caught up in the logistics.
If I could pin point utter and complete happiness, it would be me today. I feel that I have everything. Does this mean I have a mansion in the hills? No. Does it mean that I have fulfilled my aspirations of being a successful artist? Maybe.
What my happiness means to me is that I have followed my heart, and allowed the beautiful spirit to guide me.
My life mission is to convert negative energy into positive energy. Its to come into a place where I can choose to be happy no matter what the given circumstances are. I hope to impact peoples lives in a positive way, and to surround myself and my family with as much beauty and light as possible. As a singer, my goal is to spread love and light. I consider myself a communicator before I am even a technical singer. I also want to be a good mother. A good teacher, and a good partner to my husband. And I am sure our child will teach us just as equally. Those are the things that are important to me.
I haven't documented my pregnancy thus far publicly. Mainly because I am a pretty shy person, although I know thats not how it might seem. I felt that it would be important for me to include the people that have so inspired me in years past. You. So, here is my baby girl all wrapped up in her little cocoon in my belly. She is healthy as far as we know, and very used to her daddy's music as we have been on tour throughout his rise up the charts. In a few weeks Nico Vega will tour for about ten days on the west coast and I am hoping to see some of you.
Thank you for allowing me to share this beautiful experience with all of you. If there is one last thing I would like to leave you with, it is this...

Its easy to find problems to focus on. Its also easy to take issue with every menial misfortune in life. The challenge is to find and experience happiness. The trick is that its not something that you must find. Its something you already have. You either choose it, or you choose otherwise. That is how I became happy. I chose it. And this little girl is every bit a part of that bliss.
Love Aja

23.2.12

Out with the old, in with the new.






Spring cleaning is more important than most of us think. Winter is a very stagnant time period. There are many amazing things about it, but feeling fresh and new is something that happens in the springtime. Its part of the cycle of life, and its our opportunity to be reborn in our lives, and bring in new energy. Don't be afraid of getting rid of things. We are fortunate enough in this country to have the luxury of owning junk. If your junk doesn't make you feel good when you look at it, get rid of it. Out with the old. It doesn't matter that its worth something, or someone special gave it to you. If it drags you down at all, or is just in the way, ditch it! Life is not about material possessions anyway. I was fortunate enough to have a mom and dad that taught me to clean. If you didn't have that, it doesn't mean you have to live like a slob. You deserve to feel good in your personal space too. When they say, "Messy bed messy head." they are referring to how hard it is to focus when you live in chaos. Creativity needs space to be free. It needs a clean slate to flourish. This is a small reminder that spring is the time to have a page turn. One of the first steps is cleaning. Create a new space where you feel free, and this next year will have the chance it deserves to be your year. In with the new!

love Aja

15.12.11

Tis the season.









Today I would like to write about the Holidays. We all have different experiences surrounding them. For some of us, they hold fond memories. For others the Holidays may remind us of painful experiences, or stress. We all know that the Holidays are supposed to be about family, and maybe thats why they can be tough at times. Not everybody is in love with their family. In fact, I know quite a few people who have never felt loved or supported by the people they are related to. In turn its hard for them to love back. Its okay to try and accept things as they are if you can't change them. Nobody has complete control on the outcome of a situation. There are always so many factors. Surrendering and trying to let go, or accept may be the only peaceful option. Even then, it may not feel peaceful. That being said, this time of year might reel in a lot of emotions. It is also the time of year when things might feel stagnant. People are wrapped up with their families. Business may be slow, unless you are in retail. Creative inspiration may dwindle as mine does. It's the end of the year, and we are all getting ready for a new perspective. In winter things die. In spring they are born. I have always loved the Holidays. They bring nostalgic memories of being a child. We celebrated Christmas in my family, and it was the time of year when my brother would stay the night, and my mom would wake up at 5 in the morning. Sometimes I would wake her up, but I think she was just as excited as I was. We would make a fresh pot of coffee, and cocoa, and go into the living room.  My mom would bring out a tray of pastries or homemade donuts. The stockings were my favorite part because of the little individually wrapped, well thought out trinkets. I could have had a stocking full of second hand goodwill finds (Which usually was the case) , and it would still have been my favorite part. As I grew older, we decided to make a new policy. We would only gift stockings at Christmas, and that most of the contents needed to be second hand. Some people in my family have a bit of stress surrounding Christmas. The time, money, wastefulness, and feeling like they would disappoint began to spoil the beauty of it. In recent years it has made things a lot easier to have second hand options. It's not as wasteful. Christmas became more about food, and gathering together. I have thought really hard about what the Holiday season is about. We know that Christmas is about Christ the savior coming into the world to bring light, joy, peace, and acceptance. Im not making this a religious post, but I want to point out something that may help people appreciate this Holiday more. Tis the season to be Jolly. It's the time of year when we should take time out of our busy schedules to connect. It's the time of year to spend more time thinking about others than ourselves. It's the time of year to help someone. It's the time of year to make an effort to be more loving and accepting of those that surround us. One of the most important things that you can do this time of year is listen. Listen to the people that you love. Ask them how they are. Ask them if the need any help. Show them that they are a priority. Give love. If there is someone far away that you are thinking about, write them a letter. If you are poor and you can't afford gifts, send an email with links to all of the things you would buy for them if you could afford it. I promise you it will be far greater than any gift you can buy. Don't let your memories of this season determine its meaning. Create a new memory full of thoughtfulness, and love. Talk to strangers. Offer help. Don't be too shy or prideful. The worst thing that can happen is a simple no thank you. This Holiday season is not about money, or gluttony, or wastefulness, or material things. It is about giving love unconditionally. Happy Holidays to all of you beautiful people in the world. 
Love Aja





4.12.11

Healthy alternatives for the Holidays!










Some people can't have all the delicious goodies at the dessert table around the holidays. Its important to find ways to include the people that have food allergies in on the fun. In our family, there are a few people with a wheat allergy. Here is a delicious alternative to a holiday loaf that I got from a great book on low starch. You definitely need to go to a health food store to get the ingredients, but the consensus in our household is that it's worth it. For those with an allergy to nuts, this won't work. 










Here are the ingredients you are going to need.


2 cups blanched almond flour 
1/4 cup coconut flour 
1/2 tsp xanthan gum 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 cup light oil 
1 1/2 tablespoon honey or agave syrup 
1/2 cup buttermilk 
3 eggs 
2 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks 





lets get started! 





Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine almond 
flour, coconut flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 
Mix the oil, honey, buttermilk and eggs together before adding them to 
the dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Gently fold in the egg whites. 
Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake in the oven for 50 
minutes to one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean when 
inserted in the center and the loaf feels relatively firm to the touch. 







                           






When I took the loaf out of the oven, I wished that I had done a better job greasing the pan. It ended up working out okay though. I usually serve this loaf sliced and toasted with butter, or earth balance spread and agave nectar on top. However, my favorite way to eat it, is shown above. I spread a thin layer of greek yogurt on top and add my choice of berry. To finish it off, I drizzle honey or agave nectar to sweeten.
It's so good, that you won't miss the junk food one bit! Enjoy!










2.12.11

Save a tree.






My Christmas tree this year.




You can reduce your households waste this year by creating a christmas tree out of things that you already have around your house. Here are three examples that I have pulled together. I have to credit my mother in sending me these ideas from an online magazine. The fist one is my own rendition of the idea. I have friends that celebrate all sorts of holidays this time of year, and I have used this opportunity to find things around my house to represent the people that I love. Have fun with it!





Pieces of old wood, either glued or hammered together.




This Tree was posted on Nico Vegas facebook page. I love the use of natural objects. 




If you are someone who collects lots of little things, this approach is a good one for you.





There are lots of ways to be resourceful around the holidays, and it feels good not to add to the mass amounts of waste when we don't need to. I think that gifts wrapped in newspaper are underrated,  and I am always a fan of reusing wrapping paper as my family knows. Also, giving a gift in a basket, or some kind of a beautiful box that can be used around the house is a good idea. Don't be afraid to work outside the box on this one. The chances are, your friends and family will be surprised by your craftiness.

29.11.11

Women who have paved their own way.





My Mother Rogene Manas


I woke up today compelled to blog about women that have inspired me in one way or another. I love these women so much because of what they represent in society. Some of them have been frowned upon for the mistakes that they have made in years past. I identify with some of  them because of their mistakes and ability to recover. I identify with others because they went where no woman had gone before. It is so important to have role models that inspire you. Not just saints and untouchables, but real life people that represent a goal, a destination, a strength, or a will to persevere. I don't believe in idolizing people in an inhuman way. It can be unhealthy to aspire to BE someone that you aren't. Each one of us has a strength, and a uniqueness inside that we choose, or choose not to tap into. We can be LIKE others, but we are always exactly ourselves. 
I started the blog off with a picture of my beautiful mother. She has always been the most stable thing about my life. We were best friends the moment I got into this world, and have been ever since. She was more or less a single mom raising 2 children while pursuing a career in art. She is the person who has taught me about buying second hand , and recycling. She makes 75% of the gifts she gives from scratch, and they are always more amazing than anything else I get. My mom is a true artist in every aspect of her life. I wouldn't be a musician, nor would I have pursued a life in art if it were not for her. 





Bjork


Bjork. One of the most inventive musical, and visual artists of all time. She never ceases to amaze me. She has also performed pregnant, and managed to stay out of the limelight as a mother her entire career. Bjork is the definition of someone who paves their own path. She is true inspiration.




Tina Turner


People that know me well know that musically I have been inspired by Tina Turner. She was the voice that encouraged me to become a rock singer. Tina Turner has been through so many trials, and has managed to come out on top.  I love this woman.





Angelina Jolie



Angelina Jolie. A mother of 6, a goodwill ambassador of the United Nations, a jet setter, an actress, and someone who used her face to help save the world. Rag on her all you want. She does more good than anybody in her industry.




Maryl Streep


Maryl Streep. This woman is a master of her trade. She deserves every bit of hype that she gets. Maryl Streep is so inspiring to me. Her ability to transform herself and create the most convincing character(s) is undeniable. I have yet to see a better actor or actress.

Thank you to these women for inspiring me with their individuality, and strength.