Episode 219 | May 5, 2020

The Dancing Soul with Maria Nhambu

A Personal Note From Orion

This episode’s guest is beyond amazing. She’s 76 years old and she’s so full of life, light, and joy. We talk about her incredible life story. She’s overcome so much and shares the lessons she’s learned along the way. She’s such a mind-blowing ray of light, and I am grateful I had this conversation with her. She’s no other than Maria Nhambu, author of the Dancing Soul trilogy.

Maria was born in Tanzania, East Africa, and was raised by German nuns at an orphanage for mixed-race children. Throughout the hardship and mixed blessings of her childhood, she sustained her fierce spirit through dance. She never lost her dream of furthering her education. She was able to fulfill that dream in the United States, where she attended college, became a teacher, and eventually married and raised two children.

Her short bio is just the tip of an iceberg on how incredibly fascinating she is as a person. What’s most empowering is how pure her heart is in the way she views life. She’s such an elevated soul. She’s so beautiful from the inside out, and I’m sure you’re going to really enjoy this episode. Without further ado, on with the show!


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About Today’s Show

Hi, Maria and welcome to Stellar Life podcast. It’s a joy having you here. Thank you for being here.

Thank you very much.

Maria, you are such a unique person with such an extraordinary story. You’re an author, you’re bright, and you’re beautiful. You are such a light in the world. I did record an intro and people know your bio, but can you please tell me in your own words a little bit about yourself and your passion?

Yes. I always have to begin from the beginning of it. I always say I was born and raised in an orphanage. Well, I was raised in an orphanage in Africa for mixed-race children. We’re also called the unwanted children and children of sin. We were not accepted very much in African society. Also, the white people, for the most part, the fathers didn’t even acknowledge us. We’re ostracized and we had a very tough time. This was it at that time in my country, which was called Tanganyika, now it is Tanzania.

There was an order of German nuns, the Precious Blood Sisters, a Catholic order, felt sorry and bad for us so they built an orphanage for us. Children came from all over the country there because we were accepted and the nuns took care of us. When the children came from all over, they came for every age. From every age, some were 2, some were 0, some were 10, some 15, some 19, all the age range came over there so that the older girls, older orphans who came from other parts of the country—because finally there was a place where we were accepted—whom we called the big girls, took care of the little girls.

I was brought there when I was only three days old. My entire life was in the orphanage and it seemed also my entire life was trying to find a way or trying to find out who I was, why I was there, and how to get away from the orphanage.

No matter how someone makes you feel, nobody will love you the way you love yourself. Click To Tweet

From what I know a little bit about you, growing up in this orphanage, it was mixed because there was some abuse but you got a really good education. What was it like?

There was really a little bit of both. There was abuse, most of it from the older orphans who took care of the little orphans. They just beat us all the time because they were frustrated. We had to work very hard. We were also often abused, mostly verbally, psychologically, and emotionally by some of the nuns, the ones who always call us unwanted children, children of sin, and black devils. Also, we were beaten quite often when we misbehaved or we didn’t do something right. For discipline, we were usually beaten with a cane, with blows, or with whatever. 

We were always afraid. I remember I was always afraid of trying my best to be good. I was not beaten for not kneeling perfectly at church. Life was really difficult. I remember we were fed well but we were always hungry. It was up in the mountains and we were always cold. Yet there were so many wonderful people from all over the world. But for us, mostly from Germany, who brought boxes—there is a chapter in my book I called about boxes from Germany—they donated clothes and everything to help the orphans in Africa.

I’m in America now, and I see all these organizations collecting clothes to send to the poor people whether it’s here, whether it’s in Africa. I was on the receiving end of that. It is really very difficult to look at both sides, to be now where I am now, in a position where I can help, where I can send stuff, and also to help the people here understand what it is like to be on the other end, on the receiving end of their generosity. At the same time, also recognizing our poverty and our needs.

What was it like for you to receive those boxes? I didn’t grow up in an orphanage and my childhood was pretty difficult but very different from yours. I grew up in Israel and I used to get hand-me-down clothes. My mom will throw up with a bag. When I got it, I was super excited because I was like, “I can’t believe people giving away this. This is awesome.”

Yeah, exactly the same for us. We were just thrilled. But it was once a year, around Christmas time. Now, this was the Catholic orphanage. Of course, they celebrated Christmas, and Christmas was very special. It was made special by those boxes. Those boxes came in and we were called and we each had to pick one dress or one pair of shoes that sat from the box. That would be your one dress more or less for the year.

It was a very exciting time to get something from the boxes of Germany. We always picked shoes that were really big, so we stuffed them with leaves or whatever we could find so that they would last the whole year because our little feet would grow. We were very excited to receive those and we always pray. Once the boxes from Germany came, we went to pray for all the benefactors and all the people who donated to us.

Don’t let negative labels define you. You are only human. You will make mistakes, but you are not your flaws.

Wow. Goosebumps. That’s amazing. You said there was food but you were always hungry and you, specifically, had an obsession with food and they called you Fat Marie?

Fat Mary. Very often, kids were brought there when they were really young. Of course, the first thing the nuns had to do was to baptize us. In case we died, we’d go to heaven.

You black devil kids will go to heaven. Let’s talk about that later. It’s crazy.

Yeah. So, I was called Mary. It was a pretty generic name. Every other person I kind of know what’s called some kind of Mary. I was Mary and because I was just plain old Mary and then I was fat. I was really obsessed with food. In my more adult mind, I’m thinking of why I was so obsessed with food. For me, food was really a way of consoling myself. I ate everything. We were given the food, three times a day. The food was not special but it was good, it was nourishing for us, it was very simple. But I would always go and search for food, I would walk around.

If I would find a banana peel that somebody has stepped on or dry, whatever. I would remove the sand or the soil and I would just eat it. I would pick anything that looked edible from anywhere and I would eat it. I think I was just trying to fill myself, to comfort myself because I was very much alone and I used to hate when they called me Fat Mary. The nuns called me Fat Mary and the kids called me Fat Mary. I used to cry every time they called me Fat Mary. 

Until one day—I don’t know what happened and how it came to this idea—I decided I would not let the word or the name Fat Mary be a bad name for me. I took the word Fat Mary and I decided Fat Mary was really me. I would make Fat Mary my friend. She was like my twin. I made it my consoler and my counselor. Whenever anybody said Fat Mary, I just kind of saw my image of me and I decided I was going to like me and I was going to love Fat Mary and I would talk to Fat Mary and she would help me analyze everything. In the end, she became my counselor, my console, and my closest friend. I was able to take that and turn it around.

As an adult now, I look back and I have no idea how or why I came to that conclusion but I recognize that that’s really what saved me. I learned to look within me for the solution to my situation because I had no one out there. I had no mother, no father, no uncle, no aunt, no brother, nobody and I felt that nobody loved me and I was all alone. I saw with Fat Mary, at least I had someone who loved me and I loved that.

Once I discovered that I was so excited. I realized it didn’t make a difference to anybody where they lived or where they died. But with Fat Mary, I realized it made a difference to me and to us. I wanted to live because now I had me. I had me and myself in the embodiment of Fat Mary and I started to talk to her, to help her help me, and to realize that I was not alone. From that, I really learned to love myself. I really loved myself even though I knew for a fact, no one out there loved me. I loved myself because I had Fat Mary.

You can't make someone happy if you aren't happy because you cannot give what you do not have. Click To Tweet

Oh, my God. You’re telling the story and I’m getting emotional because I’m a new mom. He’s almost seven months.


Thank you. Babies need so much love, they need so much attention. I can’t even imagine how a three-day-old baby was treated in this orphanage, being raised by the older kids, and then having this incredible inner guidance to create peace within your own self, to fall in love with you, and to make you your best friend. In this time in the world, people are experiencing loneliness and they don’t know how to become their best friend. They don’t know how to create this inner version, how to connect to themselves, how to trust their inner intuition, and inner guidance. What you did was just beyond brilliant.

I have thought about it until I wrote my book and someone pointed that out and said, “I don’t understand how you could at that age. It’s such a young age.” I think I was four or five when I decided that I had to love myself until someone pointed it out and said, “That was really smart; that was brilliant.” It has not occurred to me it was brilliant; it was just a survival thing. When somebody said that, I said, “Well, okay.” They asked me, “How did you do that?” I’m just saying, “I did it by necessity. I had no choice. If I didn’t do it, I would die.” And I wanted to live. 

And what kind of conversations did you have with her?

The conversations I had with Fat Mary were everyday conversations. Each one was assigned a big girl to take care of the little girls. My big girl happened to be extremely cruel. When she would beat me, when she would demand I do different things, and when she called me all these names, I would always go to Fat Mary. Fat Mary, like I said, it was me but I had this special place. I went there and talked with her, so I would hide behind the statue of Blessed Martin who was our patron saint because he was also a mixed-race.

He was a saint from Lima, Peru and he was our patron saint. I would go behind his statue which was made of cement and I would sit there and I would talk to Fat Mary. But a lot of the things I talk to Fat Mary are the same things. I talked to her a lot about my longings, about what I wanted. I really wanted a mother. Other children at the orphanage—it was not a 100% orphanage, not everybody there was an orphan—were ostracized from this society, the African society in general. Even couples who were mixed-race, biracial who wanted and loved their children, their children were also discriminated against in society. Whether they loved their kids or whether they were legally married or not, there were many of those, when the school opened, all of them took advantage and sent their kids to this place where we were accepted, so to speak.

It was difficult because very often, these children who had parents, either one parent or two parents who could bring them, who could afford them, who kept them and who brought them, who wanted them, they would bring them gifts, they would come and visit them, and then they would go home for the holidays and we would just stay home. I was always looking at the road, there was a mile-long road with cypress trees on either side, very beautiful, and there would be one long car, maybe one car every two or three weeks. It was out in the boondocks. We all stood up, then watched the car and everybody was hoping somebody in the car would be for them. But I realized that no one would ever come for me. But I still stopped and looked at the car.

Those are the things I’ll talk to Fat Mary. I would ask Fat Mary, I want somebody to come in the car to visit me or to come and take me away. And I would ask all sorts of questions, why didn’t my parents want me? Why didn’t my mother want me? My whole life, I always remember only looking for my mother. I never really, as a child, even thought of a father because I think most of the children who were there, it was their African mothers who came to visit them. Once in a blue moon, there was a child with both parents would come, the white one and the black one. I just felt that I needed a mother. Whenever I felt alone and I felt those things that I wanted, I would talk to Fat Mary.

What did she tell you about, why don’t I have a mother or why did she leave me? What kind of answers did you get?

She always told me that for now, I was fine, that I had everything I needed that a mother could give me. I believed in it. All she told me all the time was to absolutely love myself. I remember one day she said, “You know, you are longing for a mother. You are longing not to be beaten, you are longing for more people to love you. But I will tell you, nobody can love you the way you can love yourself. Love yourself and everything will follow.”

Convert your imperfections into your biggest strengths. For example, if you think you’re too emotional or vulnerable, explore different labels like empathetic and caring.

To tell you the truth, the older I got, and even now, I’m 76 years old, I still find that it was the lesson that helped me survive. That is the lesson we all need, be it right now, during the Coronavirus, when so much is going on and where many people are feeling lonely, alone, and like the whole world is kind of pulling away from them. I just want to tell them all, just like I keep telling myself, I have everything I need right here. I have loved and I survived terrible, traumatic, physical circumstances as a child. I had loved and we all really have love, but we have to take that love or look at the loving and it has to begin with ourselves.

If you truly love yourself, you will be gentle with yourself. You won’t judge what’s happening out in the whole wide world as it’s a reflection on you or you are going to be punished, or you’ll just say this happens. It’s happening out there. I’m a part of it, I’m a part of the world, I’m very concerned. But the bottom line is I truly love myself and whenever I can, however I can, I will share this love with others that will, hopefully, give us some peace during this time, that love endures. 

Albert Einstein sent letters to his daughter and he was asking her to publish them 20 years after he died. One of them, he told her, “I discovered that the strongest force in the world is love. I am asking you to share it only 20 years in the future because much of my thinking is something people right now cannot conceive especially during this time.” Love is the strongest power. Love, kindness to our communities, self-love, it is the biggest force, love for Mother Earth. Love is a force that conceives us.

Absolutely. And that says it all. That’s how and what brought into this world. It is what will keep us together, what opens up everything else. Truly, without that, it is hard to live a good fulfilled life. What I found very often, we are never taught or we don’t know how to love ourselves. We just feel that, in the name of consideration and all, we shouldn’t be so selfish. We shouldn’t just say, “I should take this for myself. I should do this.” We should love, we should give, we should be out there. I find many people will do lots of charity and do lots of work with other people, and love and support them. But then, they go home to an empty self and they try to give something.

I always say, you really cannot give what you do not have and we would be able to give so much more love if we actually knew, felt, and experienced that self-love, not the selfish self-love, but the true self-love that is so necessary to survive and to be able to give love to the world and to others.

Do you still have conversations with Fat Mary?

Yes, as old as I am.

You do? What did she tell you about the Coronavirus?

Well, Fat Mary is me, Fat Mary and me. She was not an imaginary friend. I never played with her. We never had little play sessions. It was always very serious. It was always issues that were in my mind, that in my being, that had no one to discuss with or no one could understand it from my level. With the Coronavirus going on, I talked to Fat Mary and I really believed she was telling me that this is a really special time. This is a special time to realize, to look again, to go deep within me again, and try to pick out in case I don’t spend that much time, what is important in life. 

When all the riches and glamour are gone, all we have are the people we love. If we don't have each other, we really are very poor. Click To Tweet

What is important in life are people, people all over the world. Especially at this point, it is magnified a million times because everyone in the whole wide world is more or less experiencing this whether you call it fear. I don’t even call it fear, I call it grief. I call it grief for people around the world losing loved ones, the grief of losing people. We are all experiencing that. We are realizing no matter what we have materially, educationally, professionally, or otherwise, if we don’t have ourselves, we don’t have each other, and we don’t have people in other places of the world, we really are very poor. It’s showing us that all the selfishness, all the material wealth we have collected, all of it can go just like that. The only thing that’s left is people. 

We have to learn to be still, to feel what we are feeling, and to hopefully when this is over go out there and try to look at the world in a different way. For me, Fat Mary is telling me to continue to be who I am and to try to just almost not be appreciative, so to speak of this time, but to count it as a blessing in disguise, that I really am understanding. 

I think once again, like I have so many times, that love of self, love of humanity, love of human nature, love of the universe, is what is important. I get lots of comfort from that in spite of the universal grief I’m feeling right now. People are dying all over. I don’t know them but I feel them, I feel their pain, and I’m with them. I just feel that connectedness to humanity.

Do you have people who take care of you during this time?

Like around me?


I’m living alone, which for the most part I really like. I was married for 35 years. My whole story about my whole life, as you know, is in my three books; how everything went and how everything ended. Yes, I have friends in the community here living in Delray Beach, Florida. The only thing, I feel, that just put Delray Beach on the world map is Coco Gauff, who is the great big tennis sensation, who played in Wimbledon and is only 17 or 15. She’s a huge tennis player. The Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, they all practice here in Delray Beach, Florida. It’s a little town just about 50 miles north of Miami on the East Coast.

This is where I am and I have lots of friends in the community. I have friends who check on me. I live in a condo, I’m on the 10th floor, it’s 55 and older. We are the most vulnerable. But I must say that people are taking care of each other and we have lots of precautions we are taking. I feel pretty safe and I know I have someone I can call in case of something. I have a good doctor. When you ask me if I have someone here to take care of me, if I have what I need, I feel embarrassed almost to say that I have really everything I need. The way I’m talking to you, I’m sitting on my recliner and I have the view of the ocean in front of me. I am looking at the ocean. 

That’s beautiful.

Yeah, and I’m looking at the sky, but because of my childhood and because of who I am, I can’t help but wish that the whole world was right here sitting and seeing what I was seeing and having everything. I’m happy, but I know there are many who are alone, who are suffering, who have nothing. It’s almost impossible to truly, fully 100% not appreciate, feel special, all of this when you know there’s so many, in humanity, who are out there, who are really suffering. What I can do is just love them and tell them at this distance I am with them and I feel them. There’s nothing more I can do at this moment but just be who I am.

That’s why I really feel your heart, you have a huge heart. What do you do? What’s your everyday routine? I know that you were a dance instructor and you taught Aerobic and African dance. Do you still dance in your apartment? What do you do every day?

It’s tough. What do I do now during the quarantine, you mean? During staying in now?

I would like to see you dancing.

It would be fun to dance with you. Nothing all that much has changed for me. And again, I go back to knowing, to having had the experience of being alone, living alone, loving being alone, loving myself, and solving pretty much most of my psychological and emotional problems by myself. I was not brought up when something is wrong to go out and seek help. I was brought up—when something is wrong because of my circumstances—to go inside, look within me, and see what do I have that will help me.

Be your own best friend. Treat yourself as you’d treat one of your closest friends – with respect, love, and kindness.

My life is more or less the same. I get up in the morning, I’ll have a cup of coffee and then I go out for a walk. Again, that’s where my blessing is. I’m in Florida, the weather’s good, I walk. We know that the beaches are closed, but we have wonderful paths on the boardwalk along the ocean. I walk when it is permitted. I just see the vastness of the sky, you see the ocean, and you just feel like a little grain of sand walking around and feeling so blessed to be alive and well.

When I come home, I have my breakfast. I read and I have lots of projects that I am doing. A lot of them, the huge collection of African art I gave away, and lots of them to Haley Farm, which is for the Children’s Defense Fund. I’m working on a catalog for that, doing a catalog for all the artists over there. I call on my friends, my children, and my grandkids. I read. But to tell you, for the most part, I’m using a lot of time just being aware and feeling so blessed to be given this time to know myself even more and to appreciate who I am, everything around me, and everything that is in all that is given to me. 

Every other day, I dance. I put on my music. I choreographed all of these many classes that I taught for years and years and I’ve trained instructors. I put that in my condo, of course. I try not to make too much racket, but I put on my music and I dance like a madwoman. If somebody just heard me, they would just say there’s a woman up there who is crazy. I pretend I’m teaching because any time I could be called to go and give a class at the fitness studio or fitness convention.

I have to be ready to go and give the one-hour class in African Aerobics class. I cannot just sit still. I have a big audience. I start with my inhaler, I jump, I give instructions, and I have such a good time. When I’m finished, I just feel like a million dollars. I do that but I do that my whole life. No matter where I am, I take time to dance.

Wow. When I grew up, I want to be you. You’re amazing. You’re also a great manifester. You talk to Fat Mary and you were like, “I want a mom. I want to have a mom.” Eventually, you actually had a mom figure. Can you share a bit about that?

Africa’s Child by Maria Nhambu

Yes. I used to pray so much in the book. Actually, the first line of book one and the first chapter, the title is called, Where is My Mother? I’ve always wanted my mother. We were told if we prayed really hard, Baby Jesus, being Catholic, would give us whatever we wanted.

The book starts with me telling Baby Jesus, I’ve been asking you for so long, you still cannot find my mother. Where is my mother? Baby Jesus says to me, “You will find your mother one day.” I ask him, “How far away is one day?” I’m not just understanding that. That one day came when I was 19 years old. I was lucky enough to be in this school, in a secondary school that had just been opened by American Maryknoll Sisters; also Catholic. Most women in my age were not educated. Again, it is a long story of how come I got to be educated at least up to the 12th grade. I was picked—I started in ninth grade—to go to this high school which was by Maryknoll Sisters. They were like night and day from the German nuns that we had at the orphanage.

There was a lay teacher from a small town in Minnesota called Onamia, who decided one winter she had enough of winter in the snow, the ice, scraping her car, and sliding all over the ice. She decided, hot Africa. This is what she said, “Hot Africa, here I come,” because her friend who was in the Peace Corps, a program like the Peace Corps, but it was called Teachers for East Africa, told her that they really needed an English teacher. She went to Africa. She just picked up and came to Africa and to Tanzania. She happened to be in my high school and she became my English teacher.

Her name, at that time, was Catherine Murray. She was my oral English teacher. She would always have us talk about our stories, about our lives, about our home life in order to practice speaking English. There were four other girls whom she was preparing for the Cambridge oral exams (we were a British colony). We had to talk orally and all the others would say, “Well, my father is a farmer. I had two sisters and I have an aunt. We grew this or this.” Someone will say, “My father is a teacher,” and there’s another one who is a construction worker and all. Then she would come to me and I would say, “I have no father, I have no mother. I was born and raised in an orphanage. End of story.” It was the truth and she couldn’t believe it.

You have everything you need within your heart as long as you have love. Click To Tweet

But somehow, I don’t know what she did. She moved mountains and I don’t know what she did. But by the time I was ready to graduate from the 12th grade, she decided to adopt me. The miracle in this whole story is that she was 23 years old and I was 19. At 23, she took it on. She decided to adopt this absolutely, I always say, basket case, African girl. To the face of everybody, I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing. I was lost, I was alone, but I was 19, she was 23. She adopted me and brought me to America and gave me the break of my life.

Wow. What was it like to be in America? What was it like to come from Africa to America? Probably was such a culture shock.

Beyond the culture shock. Many Africans who come over here, very often they come from families and they’re educated. They have some means, not all the time, but most of the time. But I was just straight from the orphanage and then this boarding school, which was 200 miles away. I really knew nothing from nothing. Book two really tells you what it’s like to be an immigrant. It’s literally taking me someplace from the frying pan and throwing me into a fire, telling me, “Now, survive.”

America’s Daughter by Maria Nhambu

Everything was different. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t speak English well, I didn’t understand many things, and I wrote all of that in detail in book two which is called America’s Daughter. I learned how to be a daughter because I’ve never had a mother. You never think of what it’s like to have someone who you have in your mind. You have this image of who her mother is and what they’re going to do and here she is. She’s hardly older than you, hardly older than your sister, and I had to learn.

I managed right away to think of her as my mother. The age didn’t make any difference, whatsoever. She learned to treat me as a daughter, which means to provide for me and to give me all of that. It was very tough learning American customs, American habits, getting used to American food, seeing an escalator for the first time and not knowing what to do with it, or coming to New York and seeing this.

I was told as soon as I’m in America, my American Maryknoll Sister says, “When you go to America, the first thing when you arrive in New York, the Statue of Liberty will be there to greet you.” Of course, in my mind, I have this statue just greeting me and welcoming me at the airport. I come to the airport and I’m looking for the Statue of Liberty everywhere. I’m thinking, this Statue of Liberty doesn’t want me.

Nobody told me it was way out there outside on Ellis Island. I could have seen it from the air. It took me a long time to figure out why I couldn’t find why the Statue of Liberty wasn’t there for me. That, to me, was more prophetic than I thought because I really learned one of the toughest things for me. Those first years—and it still is to some degree—I had to learn how to be black. I had to learn how to be a black American because it was in the 60s, I came in 1963.

There were all these civil rights movements and all the problems that went with that in the 60s. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated while I was in college. There were two of us black people in a college of 2000. It was a private Catholic college. We supposedly (and I, in particular, because I didn’t know the other one well) were to represent the entire black race. I knew nothing about the African-Americans, absolutely nothing. We hadn’t even been taught anything about the slave trade and all. People would ask me all sorts of questions.

When Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, we had a discussion in class. I remember everybody was talking about different things and they were getting frustrated because there were so many race riots and there was so much going on, people were killing each other. 

In frustration, one student turned around to me. I was sitting in the back, turned around, looked up, and said, “Well, what do you people want anyway? We’d given you a head start. We have all these welfare projects. We’re doing all of this.” She just turned around towards where I was sitting and said, “What do you people want anyway?” 

Well, I turned around and was looking around for ‘you people.’ I don’t see anybody behind me. I turned back and all the eyes in the classroom were on me so I realized I was ‘you people.’ I knew nothing about nothing. I’ll tell you at that moment, I felt the weight of race, of prejudice, of being the other, being ‘you people.’

Yeah. Being Israeli, being Jewish, I see a lot of anti-semitisms. I live in a country where our neighbors don’t love us and kind of want to destroy us on a daily basis. Even now, with the Coronavirus that came out of China, there are anti-Semitic groups that are now pointing fingers at the Jews. I’m like, “What? Why? How? How even? Like the Jews invented this or what?”

In Israel, where everybody’s suffering just as much as they are in LA—we’re not in a third world country and everybody has food, water, and whatever they need—everybody’s in quarantine. We’re taking all these same measures of gloves, masks, and everything, but racism and anti-Semitism is such a cancer. I don’t understand why people do that. It is crazy.

Have faith in humanity like it's the rising sun. Whether you see it or not, it's always there. Click To Tweet

It is completely crazy. I have a little hope that with this Coronavirus, seeing that it absolutely affects every single person, regardless of rank, color, creed, or country. Hopefully, one of the good things, the positive thing that might come out of this, if we can at least most of us (I know some of us won’t) can really see how we are all one no matter what. We all suffered the same way. We all lose loved ones the same way, we grieve the same way. I’m just hoping there’ll be a different order. We will look at life, we would look at people, we would look at culture a little bit differently because for once, I think it is obvious to everyone, that we are in this together. Too bad it’s taken something so terrible for us to see the truth.

Wow. Maria, what are your three top tips for living a stellar life?

I’m always scared when people ask me that because I don’t really think I have.

They don’t have to be your best tips, but whatever is coming to mind right now.

I have always found out that, like I already said and I always stick with that, you truly have to know and to love yourself. That, to me, was my number one tip to living to survival. I had to love myself. I had to know that once I had me, I could conquer the world. I always say, “if you don’t love yourself, you really cannot love other people.” I think people don’t fully understand what loving yourself is. Loving yourself is just accepting yourself the way you are and just being so grateful for your humanity. 

It brings me to the second point which is to really live a good life. You have to have gratitude, because gratitude, if for nothing else, for the universe or the sun which rises every day for you, whether you know it or not, it’s rising. Whether you see it or not, it’s there. So, gratitude.

Another thing is to just realize that whatever we have, it is people that matter. We have to reach out and share what we have and help as much as we can. As I said earlier, life is people. First, you have to know yourself, you have to be so grateful for what you have, and what you have is not only materially, that you have yourself, you have your family, you have the universe. We have so much in it that’s given to us that we forget to even look at. Our material things are also a given. We appreciate those, too, but we have to put them in proportion with some of the bigger things it has given us. 

Again, I think, just love yourself. Be very, grateful for what you have, and for who you are and then just realize that we are all one and we have to reach out and give what we have and take what we need from humanity.

Thank you, Maria. This was one of my favorite conversations. You are such a joy, you are amazing, and you are very inspiring. I really appreciate the person that you are, how you show up in the world, and you share so much light with people. So, thank you very much.

Thank you very much. Thank you for sharing a little bit about you and your heritage. I think that’s another reason it’s nice to talk with you because I think we are on the same wavelength. It always takes one to know one.

Thank you. Thank you so much, Maria.

You’re welcome. Thank you.

And thank you, listeners. Remember to know, love, and accept yourself just the way you are. Live in gratitude, be kind to yourself and to others, share yourself and share what you have with others, and have a stellar life. This is Orion, until next time.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

{✓} Don’t let negative labels define you. You are only human. You will make mistakes, but you are not your flaws.
{✓} Convert your imperfections into your biggest strengths. For example, if you think you’re too emotional or vulnerable, explore different labels like empathetic and caring.
{✓} Be your own best friend. Treat yourself as you’d treat one of your closest friends – with respect, love, and kindness.  
{✓} Don’t focus on collecting material wealth. Invest in spending quality time with the people you love. Collect memories, not things. 
{✓} Always lend a helping hand. The biggest blessing is being a blessing to others. A little bit of kindness goes a long way. 
{✓} Let adversities give you a new perspective on life. Let challenging times strengthen your faith. You are a higher being in the universe.
{✓} Pay close attention to blessings in disguise. Appreciate the little things and remember every dark cloud has a silver lining.
{✓} If you can’t go outside, go within yourself. Take this time to reflect and evaluate what you can change, improve, and let go of in your life moving forward. 
{✓} Dance! Play music you love and just move with the beat. Feel the rhythm and connect with yourself. It’s very therapeutic. 
{✓} Check out Maria Nhambu’s website to access her stories, dance videos, and books.

Links and Resources

About Maria Nhambu

Maria Nhambu was born in Tanzania, East Africa. She was raised by German nuns at an orphanage for mixed-race children. Throughout the hardship and mixed blessings of her childhood, Nhambu (as she is called) sustained her spirit through dance and kept alive her dream of further education. She was able to fulfill that dream in the United States where she attended college, became a teacher and eventually married and raised two children.

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