I met Niva in Spring 2016 through an online natural care shop my wife and I put together on Instagram. I was struck by her vibrant, creative nature, and positivity. And then we met in person. She carries an unbelievably high frequency and genuine happy energy into the room. Niva is the owner and founder of HugLife by Niva Flor and a sound healer who shares her sweet, sweet melodies across social media as well as her handmade candles in her store-front in Sacramento. I have the pleasure of calling her friend; here is her story in her own words.
Name: Niva Flor
Occupation: Huglife by Niva Flor, Founder & Owner
Current place of residence: Sacramento, CA
I was born into an affectionate southern working class family in a warm and loving home in the Jersey suburbs. I was a quiet and curious child who constantly found things to be interested in. I was seven or eight years old when my mother told me that I could “hear” music. She explained to me that meant I could repeat and match tones with my voice. Before then, I don’t think I knew I had a voice. I absolutely loved the idea of having a voice but along with that new love came a creeping anxiety that I’d lose it. Since I didn’t know where my secret gift came from – if whoever gave it to me decided they didn’t like me anymore, could they take it back?
I’d say that my sweetest childhood memories were made at home. My parents raised me to celebrate and marvel in my own blackness. They never imposed any limitations on what I could or could not do. They created a safe container for me to express, share and feel an undeniable sense of love. I love them for loving me like that. I love trying to create safe containers of love on my own. I love loving --- cause where there is love, there is freedom.
I think my own family ritual of storytelling inspired my love for hearing and understanding other people’s stories. I have an insatiable appetite for stories. My father has an uncanny knack for telling stories. When I was a child, he told stories of his youth in the segregated south. He talked about mythical serpent creatures that would steal the breath of babies left alone in their cribs.
I am really lucky. Like really, really lucky. Over the years I have come to meet some of the most brilliant and extraordinary humans who have had huge impacts on my life. Dr. Warren, my high school music teacher was one of my earliest mentors in music. She helped cultivate a deep and profound respect for music and a sacred intimacy with my voice. I told her my teenage secrets. She gave inspiring and heartfelt pep talks. We were the best of friends. Well at least in my mind anyway.
I was on my way to work and my jam came on the radio. I always sing my jam when it comes on the radio. Correction, I always sing my jam loudly when it comes on the radio. But this time, something was different. The chorus of my favorite song was blasting, my lips were moving but there was no sound. My voice was gone! Even more terrifying than losing my voice was the realization that it been over a year since I last performed. I was devastated. What was I doing? What hadn’t I noticed? What else what missing? What else had I lost?
I launched Huglife by Niva Flor as a radical celebration of self-love. If I had unimaginatively managed to stop singing -- one of the greatest joys of my life, I knew I needed to prioritize my self-care. I started singing -- every day. I enrolled in a voice and theater class. I started taking guitar lessons and writing music. I became certified in sound healing and began intentionally crafting spaces for personal and collective healing. I sat in ritual. I cried. I went to church and deepened my meditation and yoga practice. I became a student and an expert in the quest for my own liberation. It was freaking awesome and I am so not done yet.
Courage is the seed of all creative change and transformation. It ignites, and stirs up. It is the moment the heart opens and spirit moves; you do and/or say extraordinary things. It lives outside our comfort zone, and sharpens our to ability harness the transformative power of truth-telling. It’s an opportunity to show the world who we really are. It connects us more deeply to our own humanity and helps reveal the profound limitations of our own fears. It saves us from ourselves. It is the moment we muster up the strength to take up space and connect to the wisdom that comes from the small voice of our highest and truest self.