Reflections of Life produces gorgeous short films that uplift the personal stories of ordinary people, with the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change. We feel hugely blessed to feature video-stories that filmmakers Michael and Justine capture with exquisite expertise, and which so beautifully illustrate grateful living principles and practices. In this short film we hear from Siti Nur Iman.

Learn more about Reflections of Life (formerly Green Renaissance) through our Grateful Changemaker feature.

Video Transcript

[Singing] You are the promised kiss of springtime that makes the lonely winter seem long. You are the breathless hush of evening that trembles on the brink of a lovely song.

I’m a romantic. So when I hear songs like this and lyrics like these, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Because just saying I love you is not enough. You have to say all these flowery things. I’m that kind of person. [laughs] If you can’t write stanzas about me, then don’t even bother telling me that you love me.

My friend got really annoyed once. She said, “All the jazz songs are about love. I’m tired of singing about love.” But for me, love is amazing. I would sing about it until I die if I could, because everyone must have experienced love in one way or another. It doesn’t have to be romantic love all the time. There are songs out there about familial love, about love between friends. Love is an emotion that can be felt in so many different ways.

[Singing] Love is a beautiful thing, hugging, kissing, laughing, holding hands. Love is a beautiful thing…

Every time I spend time with the girls or with my family, I feel so warm, and my heart is so full after all those interactions because it’s a nice reminder to know that you’re loved.

It makes me feel alive again.

[Singing] Well, I find comfort in believing over time I’ll come to see someday how love could be that way.

Every time I walk through a crowded area or when I’m surrounded by a lot of people, the first thing that comes into my mind is every one of these people has their own lives. They’re facing their own things. They’re just like me, you know? Especially if it’s young people, like we’re all…we’re all lost together.

Maybe there’s the illusion of knowing what’s going on, but I think deep down everyone’s scared and everyone is lost and confused and they’re just trying to get by. I’m trying to get by.

I think right now I feel lost because, well, I don’t really know who I am or what makes me, me.

When I think about the person that I want to be I think about a time when I was unabashedly myself, and that was in my teens. I regularly would make a paper crown and I would go down from class to recess with the crown around my head. That to me was the ideal, true version of me because I was just so unapologetically me at that time. And I knew who I was. I was all these things that I loved and I was…I was Iman.

I do feel like I’m living a double life a little bit. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel completely myself sometimes, in all areas of my life. I feel like I wear different hats, I step into different shoes. And everyone does that, right? But for me, for some reason, it feels so much more significant in my life. My students see one side of me, my colleagues see another side of me. My friends see one side of me. My family definitely sees another side of me.

I have all these parts of me. And the problem with that is that you don’t really know who you are in the end. When I’m in my bed at night, after everything, after the whole day, I’m like, “Who am I?” How do I reconcile all those parts?

[Singing] I remember when five bells would toll and work would end, you and I would meet out on the square.

I distinctly remember the first time that I showed my grandparents a video of The Sugar Bees. This was the first performance we ever did. And their first reaction was, “I don’t understand it.” And then they didn’t want to watch anymore.

They didn’t mean to hurt me, but they just didn’t understand it. And it was a hard pill to swallow.

[Singing] He can’t find the time…

In the Muslim community, what if someone sees you at a bar? What kind of example are you setting? Even though I go there, I just listen to music. It’s not like I drink. I don’t pick up guys to bring home, you know, but it’s kind of ingrained in you to feel guilty for just doing that. And you know, when I hear those voices, it’s really internal and I just have to keep reminding myself, I know who I am, I know my limits, my own boundaries, and I trust myself to uphold those boundaries.


I’m just here to sing. And I still pray, and I am still a good Muslim, I hope. All these aspects of me can still coexist. You know, I don’t have to choose. And just because I do one doesn’t mean that I don’t do the other.

We tend to judge because we don’t understand, right? If I see something that’s unfamiliar or someone’s doing something that I wouldn’t do, the first instinct is to judge. But if you just allow yourself to get to know more, to ask more, then maybe that will open your mind.

The more you ask, the more you understand, and the easier it is to see all those little details in someone’s mosaic portrait.

People have an essence, but on top of their essence, there’s still many different parts that make them who they are. And everyone should be seen like a mosaic.

I want people to see me that way. I want them to see…when they see Iman, they see a general kind of vibe, but also all these different parts that make me, me.

At first I thought I wanted to keep all these lives separate. I wanted to assume one persona when I’m in one situation and another in another, but it’s slowly bleeding into each other.

I don’t think I’m super comfortable yet with letting everyone see all the parts of me. I think doing that comes with some consequences as well. And there are consequences that I think are a bit too significant or severe for me to want to fully let go. I’m trying to bit by bit.

In order to do that, you need to do it in spite of the fear. It’s a very brave thing to do. I’m not so brave yet. At this point, for my mental health and for a lot of other reasons, I still am holding back a little bit, but I think the goal is to eventually just let go and enjoy being me and being all these different versions of me and letting them co-exist and not hiding them from each other.

Maybe if I could make a wish, I would wish to still be all of the things that I am now. As much as I say that they bring me discomfort and identity crises…but I would still want to be all these parts of me, but I want to do it with this steadfast feeling and assurance within myself that I am still me.

I’ve been through so many phases in my life. The versions of me are always changing. Sometimes I get better, sometimes I get worse, and without fail, my mother would always remind me that I’m still her daughter and above all, it’s okay to not know what you’re doing. It’s okay to be heartbroken. It’s okay to be stressed or to hate your job. But as long as you’re home, as long as you’re in my arms, you’re still my daughter, you’re still my little girl. And that’s so precious to me and so important to me. It makes me feel like myself actually…to be accepted no matter what, who I am.

She’s the kind of person who would love in spite of anything. And she’s the kind of person who would always seek to understand and to put love above anything else. Maybe that’s why I’m the way that I am.

I’m really grateful that you’re my mother. And you don’t really understand much about jazz or musical theatre, but you still love me and you still support me and you don’t let that get in the way of your love. And that’s the kind of love that I want to show people. And it’s the kind of love that I hope I show you too.

To support Michael and Justine in their film-making journey, visit Reflections of Life.

Reflections of Life

Reflections of Life

About the author

Justine and Michael are a creative couple living in South Africa.  Their project, Reflections of Life (formerly Green Renaissance), works to spread positive stories that reflect the wonder of the world. With the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change, they produce gorgeous short films that are posted online and available for anyone, anywhere, to watch and share freely.


Through their films, they explore what it means to be human. They touch on topics that can often be difficult for people to discuss – from loss of a loved one to aging and retirement to friendship to love and courage – universal themes that we all deal with at some stage in our lives.


By sharing these stories, Justine and Michael hope to remind us of one simple truth – that we are all human – that inside our hearts and minds, we are all facing similar challenges.  We have so much to learn from each other, and our connections run so much deeper and stronger than we think. Learn more and support their work at