The following is based on the book Knowing Who I Am by Nianell. It is published by Hay House (publication date: October 15, 2012) and available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com.
Q: Please can you elaborate on what you mean with: “Love yourself and make a difference”?
A: When I was 8 years old, I’ve already sounded like an adult opera singer. I had a very strong and developed voice which was very unusual and strange, but I was shy, insecure and an introvert, which made my musical gift a great challenge for me. Like so many of us do, I’ve measured myself by my achievements, by what I have, how I look and by how other people respond to me and that only made me feel more insecure and scared. As a child I was teased by the other children and teachers did not notice my potential. On top of everything, the music that came to me was not commercial and when I eventually wanted to start a career in the music industry, all the record labels were reluctant to give me a recording contract, because according to them, there was no market for my style of music. All this negative feedback made me doubt myself even more and if it was not for the help and wisdom I’ve received from many guides, I would not have discovered who I am during this uphill journey.
I’ve learned to peel off the layers of who I thought I was; I am not what I do or what I can do, or what I achieve and what I have. I am not how I look, think, feel or what I can create and although all this is part of my life, it does not define who I am. I finally got to the core of my being and I’ve realised that I am the one thing we all desire and that is love. When I found and developed that love within myself, it started to circle out and back to me again and suddenly my life became a life worth living. The change inside me had an effect on the people around me as well, because now, I was comfortable with myself and that made people feel comfortable in my presence and they were more open to receive what I had to share.
Q: How does self love benefit our relationships?
A: The one thing we all have is relationships and we can also not have a life worth living without relationships. We need relationships to grow and to learn and also to get to know ourselves better. Relationships can be very challenging when we haven’t learned yet to focus on our side of the relationship. The best advice I’ve ever heard when it comes to relationships is: “If you spot it, you’ve got it.” If another person’s behaviour is upsetting us, or effecting us in a negative way, we must always go within and see how we are guilty of the same behaviour. It’s only bothering us in the first place, because we’re doing it ourselves in some form or another. So instead of focusing our attention on the other person, we need to focus on ourselves first. These self-cleansing processes require honesty with the self, then forgiveness and finally love. We cannot change anybody but ourselves and when we focus on others and attempt to change them, our relationships will end up being very difficult. When we love ourselves unconditionally and we are willing to focus on what we need to change within ourselves, we will be able to have successful relationships in every area of our lives.
Q: You have achieved a great amount of success in your career as a singer/songwriter, author and performer, what would you say is the secret to your success?
A: I believe success is simply doing what you love and success will follow if you feel successful within yourself. I’ve had to walk a long road to reaching my goals and a breakthrough came when I was about 28 years old. I was doing background music gigs in hotel lobbies for many years, trying to make a living through music and trying to earn enough money to record my original music. Being a background artist can be very demoralising, because you hardly ever receive applauses and usually people will only ask you to play softer because they’re trying to have a conversation. For many years I felt like a failure, because I focused on what I haven’t achieved yet and on what I haven’t got. The minute I changed my focus on what I did have, I realised how lucky I am to be able to make a living with something I love to do, singing. I started to look at the background gigs as an opportunity to perfect my original music and a platform to practice and prepare myself for what’s to come. I realised that I have everything I need, a roof over my head, food to eat and I had a wonderful man in my life. Suddenly I felt so thankful and I felt successful and that feeling attracted more success into my life, making me feel even more thankful. We attract into our lives what we feel and what we are and that is why it’s so important to focus on what we have and to be thankful for that.
Q: You are the mother of a triplet, what is the most important thing you want to teach your three little girls?
A: I think we are all students and teachers here. My children teach me so much and I know that I will have to be, that which I want to teach my children. My children will most likely rather follow my example, than my advice. So I try to focus on loving myself, because that is what I want to teach my children. I know that if they can learn to love themselves unconditionally, they will have a life worth living. Even if I fail at loving myself at times, my children must see that I can forgive myself for failing and that I am willing to try again and again.
Q: What do you think is vital in being a parent?
A: To be a great parent, you need to be a great you. A healthy state of mind, a sense of well being and quality of life are very important when raising children. When we are unhappy, tired, negative, and ill or depressed, we can’t be patient and kind. It is best for our children when we’re in a good state of mind, positive, happy, rested, joyful and full of energy. To achieve this we need to look after ourselves first, then we will have so much more to give our children. We should also play with our children as much and for as long as we can. When we play with our children it keeps us young and full of energy and we also teach our children how to enjoy life!
Q: It must have put a lot of strain on your body giving birth to triplets, how did you get back into shape and how do you maintain a healthy body?
A: Our bodies needs three things to assist us successfully and that is healthy nourishment, exercise and unconditional love, but out of the three the most important one is love. I focus every day on accepting and loving my body unconditionally, by being thankful for every part of my body. I send love to my entire body and I try to give my body only what is good for it. I call this the love diet. I also bless whatever I consume, by sending it positive and loving energy, therefore ensuring that it would not be harmful to my body. My main goal is to keep my body healthy, because I love it and when I fail, I make sure to forgive myself, because it will only be harmful to my body when I send myself negative energy. When I want to lose some unwanted weight, I focus on increasing my protein intake and decreasing my starch intake. I drink a lot of water and I eat early and very light in the evenings, preferably no starch in the evening. I also stretch and do muscle toning at least three times a week. The ultimate goal however must be to maintain this healthy lifestyle every day. Another thing we do as a family is to drink our vegetables by juicing it and this keeps our mineral intake high, which boosts out immune systems. It’s very important that we listen to our bodies, because it will tell us what we need and what we don’t need.
Q: As a performing artist, doing plus minus 100 live performances per year, what would you say is the most challenging part of walking on stage in front of a hall full of people?
A: I would say the most challenging part of every live performance is to walk on stage with the right attitude and intention. I always take enough time before every performance to prepare myself. The most important thing I have to focus on; is to leave my ego in the dressing room and to walk on that stage with one intention only, not to impress or be perfect, but to love. To love myself, the audience and what I’m presenting. I try not to expect anything from my audience, like an applause, appreciation or admiration, those are all the things my ego needs. I try to focus only on the love that I can give to my audiences as well as to myself. My main object should be to enjoy myself and to have fun and the only way I can achieve that is when I’m willing to let go of all the things my ego needs and the negative feelings my ego will try to install in me. When I have complete faith by allowing the music and Spirit to carry and guide me, I am guaranteed to have a very fulfilling performance and the audience will enjoy it so much more.
Q: A highlight in your career was when you performed with the legendary tenor, Andrea Bocelli. How was this experience for you?
A: Besides that it was a great honour to perform with Andrea, I was also incredibly thankful for what I’ve learned in preparation for this performance. One of the songs we sang together was in Italian and I went for some lessons to work on my Italian pronunciation as well as my breathing. The ending of one of the songs required me to hold a note for very long and Andrea was a master at this. He held that note for so long and it was my goal to try and hold it as long as he could. While practising I would be blue in the face, still hearing his voice carrying the note on and on. Then my vocal coach suggested that I should not focus on pushing the air out of my lungs, but rather imagine that I’m drawing air into my lungs while holding the note. She told me to allow the note to carry me, instead of trying to carry the note myself. Holding the note longer became so much easier and although I still didn’t manage to hold the note as long as Andrea could, I’ve learned a valuable life lesson: “Draw life in and don’t push or force things. Allow life to carry you, relax and have faith that it will take you where you need to go.” There’s a life lesson in every experience; we just need to be open and willing to receive it.
Q: In your book you write about the power of music, tell us more about how music has influenced your life and how you use music to convey your message.
A: I believe music chose me and it was my life’s journey to grow into this perfect gift I’ve received. My first challenge was to develop a stage personality, because I was terrified of people and when I had to speak in front of people, I would become totally overwhelmed. I was amazed to discover that we have already received everything we need to make whatever we want to accomplish a success, we just need to have the will and courage to develop it. I knew I had to develop my extrovert side to be more effective on stage and in between people. I also had to develop my left brain to be more effective in business, because I had to manage my own career for a very long time.
After I’ve spend some time on working to developing myself, I’ve realized that I now have the skills and I was achieving great success, but still felt unsatisfied and unfulfilled. The messages in the music that comes to me, then gently guided me to the awareness of who I am and what my purpose is. I know the wisdom that flows through me, is not from me and I just feel thankful to receive guidance this way and I’m grateful that I can share it. Often I will hear in my mind a language I don’t understand and I will then dictate it phonetically and sing it as I hear it in my head. Although I don’t know what it means, I know it brings healing and it is opening a doorway, or act as a bridge to self-awareness. I became aware that I am one with everything as well as with God and my fears were replaced by love. Everyone understands the language of music and using music to convey the message of love makes it easy for everyone to feel and understand.
Q: We know it’s important to love ourselves unconditionally, but how do you remind yourself of this?
A: Knowing something and applying it is two different things all together, so I spend a lot of time on applying what I know. When I take a shower I bless my entire body, from my head to my toes, I send it love and I’m thankful for every part of my body and mind. I say thank you for the positive and uplifting, loving thoughts, feelings and emotions I’m going to have that day and I release all fear, guilt and stress I might have. I forgive myself or others if it’s needed and I invite love, joy and peace into my life. Then I state my intention for the day, which is always to listen, learn and love. I ask for guidance and wisdom, so that I might not cause separation in any way or form, but that I might only unite with my thoughts, actions and with my being. Loving oneself unconditionally remains a choice and that choice demands constant attention and dedication.