Cissy Nansera is a 25 year old Ugandan Yoga practitioner. She’s a voracious reader. Yet she’s also big on execution. She’s done her 10,000 hours in Yoga being able to perform the Headstands, something that is unusual for many Ugandans. Nansera is a digital nomad and lifestyle blogger at www.theetherealoutlook.com. She’s a philosopher of sorts. She will take you through her journey of mastering her own body after an accident that got her locked in bed for sometime. She’s also the youngest Ugandan to be interviewed by Great Ugandans. Ian Ortega and Jaluum Luwiiza caught up with her to get her story.
Ian Ortega: So Let’s talk Yoga, your favourite thing. How did you get started? What the heavens did a Ugandan girl have to do with Yoga? What got you hooked on?
Cissy Nansera: I started Yoga in 2015 following a fatal accident that I was involved in. It almost took my life but I was saved by the seat belt which held me back so I didn’t go out flying. But then the problem was, because there was too much force as the seat belt held me back, it almost cracked my chest open. Luckily my chest did not crack open but there was severe pain. I struggled so much. I had to be on bed rest. And you know, that gets you down on your fours for someone who is naturally a physical person. I am very physical, something I picked up from my dad. Being on the couch, being a couch potato for a long time came with its issues. I got into depression, ended my relationship and maybe alcoholism undertones. I wouldn’t exactly say I am alcoholic but I was almost headed down that path.
And then coincidentally in the same period, my Yoga teacher moved to Kampala and in the hospital they recommended I do some physical therapy. But then I wanted something that would resonate with me as opposed to feeling like; “Oh my God, it is so bad, I really need help” and Yoga just did that. Because in Yoga, you only go to your body’s extent, there is no pain or anything. You listen to your body. It is very gentle when you want it to be. And yeah, that’s how I started Yoga. And it really saved my life because I was down that road.
Ortega: So I am guessing you start off as a complete amateur, a super newbie. What motivated you to keep going and stick at it? Because if you are seeing people already executing the headstands or the handstands, you could get demotivated somewhere along the way to give up and think; “maybe yoga is not for me.” In your case, what kept you going?
Nansera: You see, that’s the thing with Yoga. Everyone has their own special relationship with yoga. My relationship with yoga might not be your relationship with yoga. But once you get started and you understand how beneficial that practice is. Because it is not just physical, like you are going to do a headstand. All those things are impressive to look at but then as someone who does yoga, the fact that you can work out and not just the work out the body, but also work out the mind. It calms your mind if you are suffering from anxiety or you are stressed, yoga helps you relax, sleep better in the night and then once you start seeing those benefits that go beyond the physical appearance, no one can take that away from you. You just go ahead and say; “you know what, this is it for me. I resonate with this and that’s it.” And for me, that’s what yoga did for me.
Gone are the days when I used to suffer with anxiety, depression and all these things. I may not always be calm, but I am now close to it.
Ortega: So would you rate Yoga as spiritual or physical. What is Yoga? To the person out there who is uninitiated about Yoga, what is Yoga? How would you break it down? First in the general way but also in your own philosophy of yoga?
Nansera: Yoga is an exercise for the body, the mind and the soul. Yoga is something you do to relax your mind. Yoga is something you do to make your soul happy. Yoga is also something you do to strengthen your body. So it is an exercise for your whole existence. That is the best way I can explain it for someone to really understand it. I know a lot of people say; “you know it’s spiritual, people are always meditating and doing these things.” They are doing that because they are keeping company with their mind.
There is so much happening especially in this world. You have social media, then you know, you have rush hour, you have people stressing you, and all that. And you don’t realise because people are so buried into “I have to get this done” they forget about taking care of themselves. And Yoga does that (brings back the balance). So when you see people meditating, it is because they are keeping company with their mind. And you need that. Every doctor says “relax your mind.” And how do you relax your mind? By doing some yoga. Take time out.
Ortega: If my landlord is knocking, the rent is due, I can just get into yoga and relax my mind in that moment?
Nansera: Yoga is not an escape from your responsibilities. Let me say you have a responsibility, you have to go to work but at the same time, you have to take time out and eat food. So that’s the same for yoga. Take time out and relax your mind. Keep company with your mind. Rejuvenate yourself. And strengthen your body.
Ortega: Does the type of yoga you practice have a particular name? I know people have particular names for their yoga. Is yours of a particular type?
Nansera: The kind of yoga that I practice is called Vinyasa. It is called Vinyasa because it is flowing. You go from one pose to the other pose. It is all like a sequence. That is the kind of yoga I practice and I love it so much.
I have tried Hatha yoga which is the beginning of yoga. That is where yoga started from. All these other types of yoga are rooted from Hatha yoga. Hatha Yoga is something I have tried. Then there is Yin and Yang Yoga. There are many other different types. But the one I do is Vinyasa and it is the one I resonate with the most.
Ortega: So why do you resonate with Vinyasa in particular?
Nansera: Because there is a flow. You go from one pose to the other pose but the way you do it there is a flow. It is not just a plunge into a pose. And for me, my muscles love that. They love when it is all gentle, when you slowly get into a different pose. So I don’t like straining them or suddenly feeling pain. But also, it is entertaining to my mind because it is flowing.
Ortega: Do you ever get demotivated and not want to do Yoga? You know like when you are gyming and you wake up on this one rainy day and it is not your thing. And how do you get back? From the demotivation back to your high spirits.
Nansera: When I am demotivated, sometimes I just want to stay in my bed and not do anything, even Yoga. But how I get back to be honest: People say social media is a bad thing. But if something is bad, there must be something good attached to it. For me social media is not a bad thing, it is a good thing for as long as you manage it well. So when I am demotivated, I look up on my social media, I see all these girls doing yoga, what they say in their captions, what yoga has done for them or how they started their mornings and that motivates me. Also the fact that I just remember how I always feel at the end of a yoga practice and for me, that moment is priceless. That just gets me up and gets me on the mat.
And if we are being honest, sometimes I am just; “you know what, I wanna do a handstand but just on one hand.” And if I wanna do that, I need to strengthen my arms. So I am like; “you know what, I am going to get on the mat so my arms get stronger.” And then other times I am like; “Because this is the only exercise I do to keep in shape and I want to rock my bikini until I am 70. So if I wanna rock a bikini until I am 70, I need to work for it.”
Ortega: So speaking of 70 and of age, is there a particular age to start on yoga? Can I start off now or can my grandmother start off at 70 years. Is there a particular limit?
Nansera: That is the beauty about yoga. No limit. That is why I told you, no pain, you only go to your body’s extent and you start building on that. Because the more you practice it, the more your body’s extent goes further. So you can do it at any age, even at 5 years, you can do yoga. It is perfect.
Ortega: One last thing that you think everyone should know about yoga. If they should take one thing out of this interview, what should they take about yoga?
Nansera: What I would say is that yoga is something amazing. It is such a beautiful gift for your body, for your whole life. Yoga is something that will help you have a different perspective on life. Not just because of the poses and how you move, that is just physical. But the understanding of you know, the way yoga explains life as it is, to live in the moment, and take every moment from your life. And that is what life is about, live in the moment. Enjoy this moment because this moment is your life. And yoga makes you be in that moment. Even in a moment of pain, because some of these poses when you are working out, they are sometimes, you just feel like; “ouch.” And in yoga they tell you, do not distract your mind from the pain you are feeling, and the struggle. Feel the pain, recognize it, respect the fact that it is there and then let it go. And that is how life should be.
Ortega: Who’s been the greatest influence on your life and why?
Nansera: First, I would say my Dad. From the way I eat, the physical exercise, everything, I picked up from my dad. Growing up, I never had pizza until maybe I was 15 years old. I had never tasted anything like pizza. At home we always had fruits, we had a very well endowed compound filled with mango trees, pomegranate, guavas etc. So we always had fruits and then we maybe always had an egg. We always ate healthy. And that has really influenced what I eat daily. People always ask me; “Oh how do you eat this, how do you eat that?” I tell them; “first I love myself so I try to feed my body well, I respect it. But also secondly, this is the only way of life that I know.” So my dad has really been an influence in that way. But also on the workout. All my life, I don’t remember seeing my dad not going to the gym or missing his physicals. And that has really had a big influence on me.
Ortega: So dad was a fitness freak?
Nansera: No, he wasn’t really a fitness freak, he was just health conscious. And then secondly my mother.
Ortega: And now? You’re speaking of your father in past tense?
Nansera: He passed away in 2013.
Ortega: Sorry about that…
Nansera: He is in a better place. His soul is always resting in peace.
Ortega: And then your mum?
Nansera: My mother is my second greatest influence because that’s where I get my kindness from and compassion. She is a very kind person. I would not want to be kind to her level of kindness. I take like 50 percent from mum because if I were to take 100 percent, it would be ridiculous. She is too kind, she is too nice. And I pray that when I am grown, I can be at least half the mother she’s been to me. I am her world. She loves me so much. She’s my second greatest influence.
Ortega: Are you the only child?
Nansera: No, I am not.
Ortega: I am guessing you had a sweet soft life. Or I am having an assumption?
Nansera: God blessed my family. I come from a humble background. My parents could afford to take me to school, have a roof over my head, feed me and keep me healthy and even when I would fall sick, they could take me to hospital. So I have had fairly a humble background.
Ortega: Which of your daily habits would you say most positively impacts your life? Apart from yoga of course? I have seen you advise people on dieting. I loved for example where you talked of the fruity rainbow, where you try to pick fruits and make a rainbow.
Nansera: I would not call them habits but the things I usually do on a daily, it is drink water. I drink a lot of water. Because when I don’t, my lips easily crack. I think that happens to everyone. But for someone who has lipstick, every girl can relate, you need to have your water otherwise your lipstick is going to go to waste. And because I also do physicals, yoga involves being physical, I need my energy. So that’s why I really drink a lot of water.
I also write small notes on tiny pieces of paper and then I put them on my mirror and then they are my mantras. And then when you ask me; “What’s your best quote?” I told you; “I know what I want and I know what I need to do to get what I want.” I wrote that down and it is on my mirror. So everytime I look in the mirror, I see it there and I say it again and again. I got it from Victoria Beckham. I love that woman so much, going by what she has achieved. I do that a lot, say my mantras, put them on the mirror. Because when you hear something, you are like; “wow, that is such a cool saying. You know what, I am going to live by that.” And guess what, when you get stressed, you are going to forget that very saying. But when you have it on the mirror, you look at yourself in the mirror, you are feeling very very sad and you see it there, it is like an affirmation. You say it over and over again. So I have like four that I have in my mirror.
I also love reading so much. Because I believe that is how you educate yourself. I love reading biographies, Steve Jobs is my favourite. Then I love reading fiction. So I would tell people; “please those habits, take.” Have your affirmations and mantras on your mirrors, read books because that is how you learn, educate yourself and then drink a lot of water.
Ortega: You seem to be an enthusiast of the law of attraction. I don’t know whether you’ve watched the documentary of the Secret. And the secret happened to be the law of attraction. And there were these affirmations and even in yoga you have the ‘Om” mantra. What is the secret in the law of attraction?
Nansera: I believe in the law of attraction. I have not watched the documentary. I am not really a TV person. I am really into reading. I have read “The Secret.” It is one of my favourite books. I believe in it and everything it says. And for me, it has worked for me. I sometimes struggle but then it is always there, I just pull it out. I love that it has chapters on all these things so I just pull it out and go straight to the chapter I want. I believe in the law of attraction. The universe is happy to give you signs of something to lead you to where you want to be but you have to let it know. So what you tell it, that’s the message it gets and it will respond according to what you tell it.
So if you tell the Universe; “Oh I am so broke”, it replies; “Oh, broke.” Then it will send you back that. And when you say; “I know everything is going to be fine, I know my life is going to get better, I know this and that.” Then the Universe is going to send that.
You know my biggest prayer in life. People pray for; “I want to have money, I want to meet the right person.” My Prayer is; “please Universe, I am happy where I am right now, but can I go forward.” In whatever I do in my life, I want to go forward, I never want to go backwards. I just want to keep going forward, that’s my biggest prayer. And I believe I am going forward, small steps at a time. But I see I am moving because when I look back it is not the same place I was. And that is because of the law of attraction.
Ortega: That reminds me of one of my greatest books; “the alchemist.” Somewhere it speaks of this Shepherd boy and he is following these sounds, the sounds of the Universe. And what I have realised is that when you get out of sync with the Universe, you begin to notice. And this also applies for passion, for the things we should really be doing. When you are doing what you really want to be doing, you are in a flow. For example when I write in flow, there is no struggle. So speaking of books, what are your favourite books? And why these books? My favourite has been Steve Jobs’ Biography. I saw myself in his story. And I now believe the measure of a good book is how many times you get to re-read it. I see books as a personal friend you keep going to. What are your favourite books that you’ve re-read?
Nansera: For biographies, it is Steve Jobs. I love Steve Jobs so much. How I read this book, a friend of mine had it just seated there. They meant to read it but he never read it. And then I just decided I want to start reading more and educate myself more. Because from reading that’s where you learn more. Then I picked it up. It was so big and he asked me; “are you sure you are going to read that? It is huge for someone who never reads.” I replied; “watch me.”
And I read it, I loved it so much. And from that day, in 2015, moving forward, I only use Apple because it is not just a gadget. For me it is more than a gadget. You know the quotes he says; “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, that is what Apple is all about.” And then how he says; “respect the craftsmanship” something he got from his dad. That book is just amazing. I read it once, I remember it like the back of my hand. That is my favourite book for biographies.
For fiction, I like the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I really like it because of the law of attraction. It was quite an interesting story for such a young boy. It was awesome. It takes a lot of confidence at such a young age.
For drama, I love The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It is about this alcoholic girl struggling and how everything plays out. It is such an awesome book. You should read it, you will love it. You will read it in one day, you can’t put it down.
For Sci-Fi, I love The Martian by Andy Weir. This guy was stuck on Mars and he had to figure out his way to come back to earth. Don’t watch the movie until you’ve read the book.
When it comes to Self-Help Books, the Secret by Rhonda Byrne is my favourite.
Ortega: This is intriguing, for most people I talk to, books are not their thing. As for me, books are my thing because they helped me to bridge the gap to grow up much faster. It is through books that I got to travel the world. Through books, you get to interface with the greatest of heroes. You go back to any moment in time. So for you, where do you get this reading culture? Is reading something made for some people?
Nansera: Like I said before, my favourite quote or mantra or affirmation is; “I know what I want and I know what I need to do to get it.” Reading a book for me came about because I know what I want and I know what I need to do to get it. I wanted to be more aware, I wanted to learn about different cultures, I was curious and so I had to feed my curiosity. I can’t afford to go to all these places but I can educate myself about them. I don’t need a class to educate myself about this. I don’t need to pay tuition to learn about all these things I need to learn about. All I need to do, I am lucky I am a millennial, I am the MTV generation, all I have to do is put it up on the internet and get to know about it. That is how I started. It was just interesting and I just kept going and going.
Ortega: And then you are into writing. Is this something that comes naturally? Is this something you just kept on doing? Because for my case, I would say, maybe some of my earliest influences included a father who was a journalist but also because naturally I get bored easily by some people’s ideas so I ended up reading and writing more. I found it easier to send out messages through this medium of writing. How does this habit of writing come to you?
Nansera: I come off to you as a strong personality, very open to talk but the thing is that when I get angry, I can’t really express myself the way I want to. Either I will just get so emotional or something. I don’t like facing people when I am upset with them because I don’t know what could happen. It is a bit uncomfortable for me. Then I have a shy element when I am trying to really articulate my feelings. But writing is a safe space for me because there is no one putting pressure on me, questioning everything I am saying as opposed to a conversation with someone questioning everything you are saying and then they can easily intimidate you. Writing is a safe space. I can’t tell you that I did literature in school, I never did literature. I can’t tell you it’s something I picked from my dad or my mum, that’s not so. My dad used to read the papers. My mum she too occasionally reads the paper. For me I write because it is the best way I can articulate my feelings.
Ortega: So tell me about your blog..
Nansera: My blog is called; “Ethereal Outlook.” I called it “ethereal outlook” because for me simplicity is the ultimate sophistication like Steve Jobs said. And ethereal beauty is something that is really simple, a bit delicate. And I love it. I just love something that is simple, that is not overdone. Even my fashion sense, I love really thin jewellery like you can see the ear pins I am wearing or the necklace. And you see my bangle, the colour is very subtle. So you know, something really delicate in that way. I love ethereal beauty. And Outlook is because that is how I want to look out on life. For me life is a beautiful and simple thing. It is something delicate, you have to have fun but also be vigilant.
Ortega: What should people be looking out for on your blog?
Nansera: My blog is a lifestyle blog. For me it is a way to share my take on life with people And my take on life is the 80-20 rule. 80 percent of your life you know, eat healthy, take care of your body, respect yourself, go to bed on time, and then the 20 percent, indulge. Eat the fries, sip the margarita, go dancing, wear the high heels, you only live once. But in order to enjoy the 20 percent, you need to be doing the 80 percent. It is the same thing as working, you go to work, Monday to Friday to earn money so you can be able to have fun on the weekend. That is 80 to 20.
Ortega: So it is like the Yin Yang. I would call it a balance of sorts, not here, not there. It is the end goal of virtue, you are not a coward, but then you are not reckless, you are just courageous.
Nansera: As long as the 80 percent is the healthy bit.
Ortega: What is the biggest failure you’ve had till this point? And why?
Nansera: My biggest of failures is that sometimes I rush so fast to get something only to realise I didn’t have to do any of the things I did. Because at the end of the day you realise it did not yield anything. Because I had to go back and do something in the right process. That has been my biggest failure.
To be specific, I will give an example of how I did my first split. I really wanted to do my first split so badly that I forced my legs to go further and in yoga you are not supposed to do that. Then I had my hip muscle sprained. It has been a while but then it finally healed. It taught me to always trust the process and not just in yoga but in everything I do in life. Follow the process, trust it, be patient and things will happen.
Ortega: Speaking of patience, there is a tendency for most young people to overly want to really rush life. How would you advise people to get to trust the journey? And not just be so much obsessed about the destination? Because people feel they are running out of time.
Nansera: First of all, I keep the word perfect out of my vocabulary. There is no such thing as perfect. Unless you describe perfect as ‘perfect imperfections.’ Then I tell people to look at life positively. If you are seeing someone posting a picture of themselves in Dubai on a yacht, don’t try to look at someone’s picture negatively just because you sleep better in the night saying; “oh yeah, it is all fake.” Don’t do that, be happy for them, it is their time, your time will come. Everyone has a different path to success, and don’t compare your chapter one to someone’s chapter 10. If you see someone on Chapter 10, be happy for them and trust that you will also get there. Things on social media should encourage you to keep going forward and spread love, don’t spread hate. Have a positive outlook on life. If you have this positive outlook, that means you are going to generate positive energy, and if you are doing that, there is no way you are going to get impatient. And if you are sending a positive message to the universe, it will come back like a boomerang.
Ortega: How do you face your fears in the way of going for what you want to do? For me the way I would look at fear is that everytime I am scared of something, then I know that’s what I really want to do. If something is scary for me, it becomes more inspirational for me to try it out. In your own way, how do you face fear and how would you advise people to face their own fears in their moments when there is something they want to do but fear is holding them back?
Nansera: First of all, fear is always there. Everyone should understand this. Fear is something we live with. Fear is going to be next to you in your bed. Embrace it. Be scared. Be very, very scared. Don’t let that fear go away from you. Once that fear is gone, are you even going to do it? Is it even a thing worth doing if there isn’t that intensity of the fear? Embrace that fear. But understand, be disciplined, be grounded. Understand that “yes I am scared” but I have to do it. And I have to. And you are lucky. You have this one life, you get to live another day, not everyone does.
Your biggest problem is that you are scared of doing something. Someone’s biggest problem is that they are probably taking their last breath. So understand that you have this one life. It is okay to be scared, it is very okay. Actually use that, be scared and still do it. Look fear in the eye and say; “I recognize you, you are here. Yes, I am very scared, I am going to do it anyway.” What do I have to lose if I fail or if I try? If you fail, you get to say, “I tried, I failed.” But if you let fear win, are you really going to sleep with yourself for the rest of your life? It is going to haunt you.
Take fear along with you everywhere you go, carry your fear with you. Don’t leave it behind. Fear should be your best friend. Take it everywhere like your boyfriend or your partner. And still do what you need to do.
Ortega: I love how you put it. Because at the beginning of last year, I wanted to go into Somalia. I just set out that intention. I met this Somali lady and told her, “next time you go to Somalia, I wanna come along with you.” But I really never followed up with her. Then one day, I am all relaxed and a phone call comes in; “there’s a chance to go to Somalia, the plane leaves tomorrow morning. Are you in?” So I had this big yes, that moment you give your “hell yeah” answer. One of my favourite bloggers Mark Manson often says; “it is either a Hell Yes or No.” So I really went in with a “hell yes” for that Somalia trip. Then next day as the plane is landing in Mogadishu, it hits me; “what if this is it, what if this plane is bombed, what if some sniper takes me out?” Then the other side of fear spoke out; “Look Ian, whether you die now or not, you’ve just died in the pursuit of something that fulfilled you.” So I was reminded of Will Smith when he went for skydiving. The last minute, he almost wants to opt out but then he sticks there. And he asks; “what do you need that fear for? Bliss is on the other side of fear.”
Nansera: Take fear along with you, everywhere you go. There’s really no way I can tell anyone how to overcome fear. You are always going to be afraid. And that’s okay. That’s being human. Just do it anyway.
Ortega: What do you think of when you hear the word success or successful? And which names come to your mind? My current example is a man named Naval Ravikant. He espouses my idea of success. He has no typical day. He doesn’t have these tight fixed schedules, he’s living in randomness. And he’s done these great things in angel investing, spends good time of his life sharing his ideas on all things, life. And he has a balanced family life. And to me that is success, finding your own voice, customizing the many things the Universe has to offer to what sounds true for you.
Nansera: The way I would describe or define successful is: achieving your pure intentions. A pure intention is something you set yourself out to do from the bottom of your heart. And something that comes from the heart is never with hate. The heart never hates. When you are angry at someone and upset with feelings of hate, that has nothing to do with your heart. That is maybe your mind.
But if someone achieves their pure intentions, that are coming from the heart, from a place of love, something that doesn’t cause harm or does not intend to cause harm to other human beings or the Universe, to Mother Earth, that’s success. If you achieve that, something that is so pure, and it is what you set out to do, then you are successful.
Ortega: So speaking of that, which personalities would you call out as successful?
Nansera: Honestly, I would not say anyone famous because I don’t know them on a personal level. I don’t know their struggles or their intentions on a personal level. But I could say some of my friends that I know are successful like one of my Yoga teachers, Rosa. She is a very successful woman. Financially, I don’t know. She seems fine. But that is none of my business. But in other aspects of life, how she chooses to live her life, what she chooses to do.
She just started a company here. It is called Jinja Company Limited in Uganda. And her intention is to bring value to the craftsmanship of the Ugandans. The company does art and craft and also for farmers. And her intention has nothing to do with the money, it’s more with, bring value to products of these people. Because they put in so much work. Like for most of these farmers, their products are organic. So that is what she set out to do. And she’s doing that, it is kicking off. By way, it has not yet even gone further because it’s just at the beginning phase but for me it is success. She is successful. She is already off the ground. She exported her first products. I look at her and I am wowed. Will the money come in? Obviously. But this is a moment of success, such a pure intention.
Ortega: Do you have a life philosophy? And how would you break it down?
Nansera: My life philosophy is simple. You have this moment right now. This moment is your life. Be present in this moment. That’s my philosophy. Be present, live in the moment. Like right now here during this interview, I am living in this moment. And even when we go away, no one will ever take this memory away from me. I will remember you were putting on a shoe, that was Calvin Klein because I am right here, I am present. I am listening to everything you are saying and hanging on to your words and responding in the best way I can. And that’s my philosophy in life.
I might have other problems to deal with but those have to wait because this is my moment right now with you and I am living in it, I am present. Be present in life, in every moment. Catch as many moments as you can. And also, catch your brain when it wanders. Sometimes it doesn’t wander to good places. Try to catch it and bring it back to the moment. You tell it; “come on, be present.”
Ortega: I agree. Someone once said; “the brain is like a monkey, jumping up and down.” And I think I was reading Patrick Bitature writing about; “catching your pauses.” That whenever you are about to react, pause. Whenever you are scared, pause. Relax, pause. What would you say is your biggest challenge right now? What is something you are trying to work on right now? What is the habit you are most trying to change?
Nansera: My biggest challenge right now and my number one priority is my health. It is a challenge because I am a 25 year old. I am fortunate enough to go out on a weekend and be able to afford a drink. My challenge right now is how do I balance it because on one hand I am a 25 year old who is very energetic, whose friends are in a bar snapchatting. Have you seen snapchat on any given weekend? You wonder, what am I doing in this bed?
So to me this is a challenge, trying to understand; “do I just want something that is going to last 2 seconds or do I want something for the better good.” Because as a young entrepreneur, you have to sacrifice. You can’t be going out every other time. You have to put in the work. You have to sit back and work. And that for me is the biggest challenge. Sometimes I wanna do this, I am only 25 once, after my early twenties are gone, they are gone. But then also, I wanna pursue my goals, I wanna work towards something. And if I want to wake up tomorrow and also have a good day and do my practice, because I always say I want to do yoga at least 5 times a week. So sometimes it happens Monday to Friday. And when I go out, I always say I wanna have just a drink or two then walk out. Then as you are going out, guess what? The Deejay plays; “Wizzy Boy…”
My biggest challenge is thus about trying to find a balance between being a real youth and do what’s expected of me and also trying to meet my goals as an entrepreneur, as someone trying to care for their body and health.
Ortega: Do you have any regrets in life?
Nansera: I had regrets in life but right now in this moment, I don’t have any regrets. Before I used to have regrets. But ever since I started doing yoga, I don’t have regrets.
Ortega: I too used to have regrets until I read this quote by Ram Dass. He said; “be here now.” Because everyday you are born and then you die. You just died the last second and then were reborn in this second. There’s this moment, it is passing. You can’t go back in time and touch it. So it hit me too that why in the Heavens should I even have regrets? Once in a while of course that voice comes in saying this is something to regret, but then I remember, “be here now.”
Nansera: I also get that voice but I make sure I catch it halfway The point is it has happened and I can’t take it back. There’s nothing I can do about it. But I can control my reaction to it.
Ortega: Speaking of languages, I realize you are learning French, what is your motivation for the languages? The reason I love to learn languages is that languages are a way understand a people, a culture. There are certain words that have no equivalent in another language. Like you just can’t find the equivalent of such words. There is a word in Sanskrit; “Vairagya.” The only equivalent you can find in English are two words; “passionate detachment” but even that, doesn’t bring it out. So when I use that word and explain it in English, it’s hard for most people to understand where I am coming from.
Nansera: In my case, it’s actually just a motivation for French. I love the French language. I love the French accent. Have you heard like native French speakers speaking English? I love how their tongue rolls. And then also, I love the French culture, their food, their wine. I love the way they dress. The girls always look so chic. It is just very “Je ne sais quoi.” (Euphemism for something too pleasant yet can’t be described).
Ortega: The French are an embodiment of freedom, of people who are in that flow. I was actually listening to this Kizomba remix of a French song by Zaho; “Tourner La Page.” I listened to it in French, I could not get all the words, but I just couldn’t get enough of it.
Nansera: Actually most people say Spanish is the most romantic language, I beg to differ. For me, French is the most romantic language. It is the most passionate language. I love it so much. And I love English second, because it is practical for me. I don’t have a passionate for learning languages, I just have one for French. The first time I had the French language, I said to myself; “I wanna speak that language.”
Ortega: Which of your three possessions would you count as the most valuable and why?
Nansera: When it comes to material things, I love my Yoga mat so much. I just go a new one from Paris and it kinda cost me a lot for a yoga mat. But it is my favourite thing right now. It has all these yoga signs. It is very pretty and I must say, it’s my best possession.
Then secondly, I love my phone because this is how I communicate to my loved ones. This is how I work. I am fortunate to be able to work on my phone.
And then the shoes I am wearing today. They are from Zara. And they are supposed to be worn like this. They are meant to be stepped on top.
Ortega: Let’s talk entrepreneurship. You do business on the phone. What would you advise people about this grand new world. Gary Vaynerchuk tends to say we are living in the luckiest era. And coming to think of that. I have the Library of Alexandria of my phone. This was the biggest library in History. Now everyone has an equivalent on that on their phones. I can just buy anything from Aliexpress and create a brand for it, and I will be known as the manufacturer. The internet is the closest we have come to equality. While at University, some of my lectures, I caught them on Youtube, searching for that MIT or Stanford video that explained the concepts better. Tell me about this. What are you doing online? How should people handle their lives online?
Nansera: The way I look at the internet, the internet is the world. The internet is the world that you know and the world that you didn’t know existed. On the internet you will find good things, some of the things you will love to see but also on the internet you will find mean things. You will find bad things. And what you need to understand is that just as you control your life, what you take in and what you give out, that’s how you should look at the internet. You have to take it really seriously. Have fun but still be vigilant.
Facebook will customize things to what you like and keep away what you don’t like. We are lucky that we have the internet because it makes us aware of everything happening around. But also because you are only human, you have to control how much of that you take in. So you need to be very disciplined, you need to be very grounded. I try to always be grounded, by 10pm, my phone is off, no internet past this time. And before it is 7am, I am not allowed to be on the internet. Set time when you are supposed to be on the internet.
And before you start indulging in instagram and all these things, first be productive. Do you have emails to respond to? Do I have something important to address? But also, have a positive outlook while going on the internet. Look at it as a source of knowledge, a source of inspiration and then you will have the best time there.
If you have such a power, even the online bullying can’t get to you. I was once cyber-bullied. But I faced it up head-on. I didn’t even try to exchange negatively, I did so positively. I was very assertive because for me I go to the internet looking for inspiration and all these good things and awareness and I couldn’t let a bunch of negative comments change me. Develop thick-skin while on the internet. Everyone in this world needs it.
Ortega: Assuming you had this one opportunity to speak to the whole world. If you had this one minute when the whole world was listening, or perhaps a giant billboard that the whole world could get to see, what message would you give to the world? What would you write on that giant billboard?
Nansera: I would say, you have this one life, live it the way you want to. Please live it the way you want to. For you, for your pure intentions. What do you want? What is coming from your heart? That is what you should send out to the world and live that way.
Ortega: What legacy do you want to leave? 200 years from now, there is not gonna be Cissy Nansera, that’s a fact. What is it that you want to live on after you are gone?
Nansera: I hope that if a kid in the future landed on anything that had my name and saw something attached to it, I hope it would be that; “she lived her best life.” That is all I ever want, to live my best life. Whatever that looks like to other people, it doesn’t matter, as long as it is my best life. As long as I am genuinely happy and fulfilled. That is the only legacy I would want to leave behind.
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