Who are you, where are you from? What was it like for you growing up?
Born in Pittsburgh, PA, I am the middle child and only daughter to Herbert and Fay Massie. My dad, a quiet and non confrontational type, is the perfect foil to my mom — confident, fiery and yet nurturing Jamaican woman. We lived in Pittsburgh for the first third of my life where I was raised in a loving home. My mother was the dominant presence, disciplinarian and comforter, serving as the spiritual head of the household. Dad, the provider, spent quite a bit of quality time with me, divulging tidbits of acquired wisdom.
As a child, I was shy, fanciful, creative, and empathetic. I distinctly remember crying when viewing clips of The Three Stooges, wailing, “They’re so mean!” at the sight of Moe’s slapstick physical aggression toward Larry, haha! At the age of four, I decided that I wanted to be a nurse (even though I had no concept of all that would entail).
However, I soon discovered my voice in music at age five. Although we weren’t wealthy, my parents sacrificed to ensure that I was enrolled in private music lessons throughout my entire childhood — piano, violin, and viola.
At the age of twelve, my family and I moved to Maryland. It was a vastly different environment: more culturally diverse, a higher standard of living with added educational and musical opportunities.
My eldest brother, nine years my senior, did not live with us for very long as he was independent and driven, ready to leave the nest and find his own way. Meanwhile, my younger brother and I were like two peas in a pod. I was always (perhaps subconsciously) trying to hold things in balance — between my parents, between my brothers, between my mother and my younger brother, etc.
Music and art always provided a sense of peace and therein I discovered my purpose.
What was the worst time in your life/ biggest challenge?
I have traversed deep valleys and yet, my faith in God has always sustained me. One critical moment occurred during a time when I was excited about the possibilities of life. I had just moved to Boston, MA to begin a graduate program in Viola Performance. I was thrilled to pursue my passion for musical study and performance at the professional level.
After just a few months in my new city, I encountered a man who approached me with flirtatious interest. Little did I expect that over the ensuing months, he would become a stalker, making me a victim of sexual assault. That violation left me feeling broken and angry, hopeless and frustrated. I sank into a depression, nearly losing my desire to make music, to thrive. Thank God for my closest friends and family who covered me in prayers and love.
I emerged from that period more determined to create, to live authentically and freely, and to rediscover my own self worth, restorative joy, and purpose.
Best time/ biggest obstacle you’ve overcome?
Following that dark period during graduate school, I was subsequently married to my daughter’s father and divorced. Several years later, I remarried. What initially seemed like a beautiful whirlwind courtship led to an intimate and free-spirited wedding. However, after just one year, I discovered that my husband was struggling to conceal a heavy dependence on alcohol…
Two and a half years in, his body commenced to break down. Arguments between us occurred weekly, like clockwork. I grew tired… so tired. Drained, I knew that it was time to take care of myself — mentally, physically, and emotionally.
After many talks with my parents, I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue a career shift. I had wanted to explore nursing from the age of four but discovered my love for music at age five. I consequently pursued musical study throughout my childhood and into undergraduate and graduate studies.
However, now was the time to pivot. I had to make a change. Furthermore, I was married to a man who needed both psychological and physical support: in essence, my first patient…
Though our marriage disintegrated, my resolve was strengthened as I enrolled in nursing school while maintaining my career as a freelance musician. By the time my divorce was finalized, I had completed my first year of nursing school. I was well on my way to establishing another career path which was tied to my passion and purpose.
What are your goals? 5 yrs 10 yrs
While I have minor goals, I prefer to allow myself to move through life with an open heart and open hands, ready to give and receive. I desire to purchase and cultivate a warm and loving home with enough space for my daughter, my mom, my musical instruments, and any visitor who might need a place of refuge.
I plan to pursue yoga teacher certification and to have a beautiful space in which to guide others to wellness. I will continue performing music and would love to have the opportunity to even perform on a tour. I would also love to take my daughter back to Jamaica, also to Hawaii, Ghana, England, and anywhere else she would like to visit.
If you had a Magic wand, what would your world look like?
If I could twirl and whirl a magic wand to change the world for the better, I certainly would! I would create a world of compassionate and respectful listeners. Everyone desires to be seen and heard for who they really are; however, oftentimes our vision is clouded and the music of life is muted when everyone jostles for centerstage and acquisition of resources.
What is your profession or passion?
I am a lifelong muse — a musician by trade — and a nurse. Both professions fall upon the same spectrum of caring, compassionate communication, empathetic listening, and presence. My life’s passion is outlined in these specific areas and manifests itself in my joy.
How do you help people or how would you like to help people?
I am blessed to maintain two professions which provide me opportunities to care for those who are often overlooked in society. As a musician and as a nurse, I am able to feed people, both physically and in spirit. I am able to connect with others by ministering to the heart through pain and distress. In doing so, I am well-fed.
How can we help support you?
What are you working on or what kind of work do you do that would interest someone enough to hire you for your services offered?
I continue to seek opportunities for growth and self-actualization through everything that I do, including music, nursing, as a mother, daughter, and as a friend. Each day is a continuation in my quest to appreciate and understand humanity and the world in which we live.
What does inspiration mean to you?
For me, inspiration is rooted in identifying, understanding, and nurturing one’s divine purpose; to commune with God and to be continually rejuvenated.
How do you want to inspire? What is the biggest message you can offer a person?
I hope that my life is an inspiration to my daughter and to anyone else with whom I may come into contact. For me, to love with intention is the most radical act of living.
How did we meet or get to know each other?
I am so happy to have met you in the former Buti Yoga forum on Facebook! I am blessed to have a sister for life in you, Nina Joy!
What about YogiYogaWear?
In becoming acquainted with Nina Joy Rizzo, I learned of YogiYogaWear (YYW), the versatility in the apparel, the unique colors and patterns that she designs. My eyes were further delighted after visiting her Instagram page and seeing photos of YYW in action! I ordered my first pair of shorts and Nina was kind to add a personal note and a headband as a special gift. I fell in love with the soft and moveable fabric and the vibrant hues.
Thank you, Nina Joy, for adding color to our lives as we connect through yoga and humanity. I am deeply humbled by your invitation to be featured by YYW and am so grateful for our sisterhood.