In the last few years, some very big things happened for me, in terms of where I came in my life. When I turned 43, I got to this place where I felt like, as a woman, I had completely outgrown what I was doing. I don’t mean to the point of where I don’t want to do it anymore; but I became much more than what those things represent. I needed another avenue to express things that had become much more important to me than my work. As a young woman, being a singer or performer, a dancer and an actor, was a way for me to explore and express myself. Coming up, I got to experience many lifetimes in one through these various characters I would play; the various songs I would sing or interpret. But it eventually turned the other way around: where the experiences I had had in my life really were so much more than any role could encompass or any song could express. I personally had become much more valuable than any of my work could represent.
So, when the tsunami hit in December, 2004 in Southeast Asia, a small group of us—mostly surfers—put together a rebel relief organization called Surfzone Relief Operations. We pooled our money, dummied up documents, and went over to Indonesia. We chartered our own seventy-five-foot wooden panisi boat, and we loaded it with goods: well-digging kits; dugout canoes for the Mentawais with fishing kits; viable breeding stock; water; medical supplies; and school supplies. We went to the smallest, outermost islands off the west coast of Sumatra for a month and delivered goods.
That month-long journey was a way for me to be there, wholly, as Nia, the person—not Nia, the entertainer; Nia ,the singer; or Nia, the celebrity that people have questions for. But Nia, the woman. What was I capable of doing? I had to pull anchor; I had to sleep on bags of rice; I had to deliver the rice to people. I became an important, functioning part of what was going on right there. It was wonderful for me. It started this journey into integrating the woman that I had become with the career woman I had been. And out of that came an outline for a book called The Long Way Home; and out of that came a request for a book on health, beauty and fitness. When I sat down, I realized I couldn’t write an outline on such a book without talking about the inside. So, that’s what became the twelve elements of life—and those are the chapters of the book. Each chapter represents the importance of an element like individuality, passion, adventure, or forgiveness. There are 30-minute seminars on each element on the website. It’s very profound and powerful; and people are being very touched by it.