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Wild Woman Interview: Nikola Botha on Doing Brave Things

‘The Wild Woman Interviews’ is a series of Q&As with women who do interesting, brave and inspiring things. The name hints at how nature, the outdoors, travel, the natural cycles of life etc. motivate and influence their passions and pursuits.

This month, I’d like you to meet Nikola Botha. She is an integrative nutrition health coach and a whizz in the kitchen, with a knack for baking the most delicious vegan goodies. After living abroad for the most part of a decade – teaching English in South Korea and then Thailand – Nikola and her partner, Kelly, recently returned to South Africa to start a brave, new life here. Full disclosure: Nikola also happens to be my cousin and one of my favourite people in the world. 

If you had to rewrite all your social media bios to capture who you are right at this very moment, what would it be?

Manifesting my dreams every day

Believing that anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

Everything happens just as it should and at the right time!

|Healthy | Vibrant | Healing |

You and your partner, Kelly, recently returned to South Africa permanently after spending more than six years living and working in South Korea and Thailand. During this time, you had managed to gain substantial experience as an English teacher and could probably have picked any number of countries around the world to further your career. What made you decide to come back to your home country instead?

After living abroad for so long, we really felt the urge to come back and settle a bit and try something new. Being a teacher was so amazing, and we had wonderful, stable yet exciting lives in Asia. But with our kind of lifestyle change and personal development, I just had this calling to follow my dream and try something different.

Kelly is from Canada and loves warmer weather, and was keen to explore another new country. Another big factor was being closer to family and being part of a community again. Although we have made wonderful friends living abroad, people tend to come and go and we were longing to build and surround ourselves with a community.

Also, throughout my 6 years abroad, I have also been so proud of being South African, and was also so excited to tell people where I am from and how beautiful it is and how kind most people are! Once we moved back, I have just continued to be in awe of the insane beauty that surrounds us.

I have been to quite a few spectacular islands and places, and nothing really compares to the majestic views and landscapes here in beautiful South Africa. I still get a feeling of childlike excitement when I drive up and over Suikerbossie road, heading to Llandudno! That view is just totally insane and really makes me cry almost every time!

What have the biggest challenges been so far with settling back in? And the greatest joys?

I must say, I have moved to two different countries, settled in a place with a foreign language and culture, and adapted and thrived. But moving back to SA this time has been a lot harder than any of those. Navigating all the familiar, yet totally new and different roads, places and rules, can be hard. We have had wonderful stable jobs these past years abroad, and giving that up to follow our dream and heart can be quite daunting.

Some of the greatest joys are swimming in the ocean whenever I want, popping over to family and friends for tea whenever I feel like it, hearing Afrikaans and speaking it again. Feeling more connected to the people around me, we are together in this beautiful country and that binds us in a way. I enjoy the fresh clean air, mountains, hills and trees! Adapting back here has not been easy, but we are exactly where we are meant to be on this journey and embracing, living and enjoying every moment of it.

You recently wrote a blog post about the valuable lessons you learned while living abroad. I’d love it if you could share a few of them here!

Wow, there are so many trials and errors when you live abroad. On my first trip to the train station (I think I had been in Korea for maybe 3 days), I jumped on the KTX train (super-fast train that speeds across the country) instead of the subway, and after about two hours, I was well on my way to North Korea instead of a town just a few stops away from where I lived.  With a dead phone and literally not knowing where I am, I found my way back to my town at 11pm at night, with the lesson that you can always find your way back, and take every step as an adventure.

I think it goes hand in hand with the lesson that life is not always easy, but you can always make it work. There is nothing ever put on our path that we are not able to handle or learn from in some or other way. And when life gets tough, you learn to be resilient and embrace the challenge.

You truly see who your friends are, and realize that oceans and distance can be hard,      and it takes work and effort to keep friendships and relationships going. I always made it a priority to stay in contact with friends and loved ones, by sending voice notes, a quick WhatsApp or email. Everyone has busy lives, (no matter where you are in the world), and putting in some effort and time is key to nurturing and maintaining a close connection with friends and family.

No matter where you live, in the suburbs or in busy Bangkok, life goes on. We all have our ups and downs and just because you are living abroad (or in the suburbs for that matter) life isn’t always peachy. Always reach out, connect and build on healthy meaningful relationships.

Learning to communicate without speaking is a skill you only know if you have lived in a foreign country. Embracing the challenge of constant charades and sign language can be super frustrating sometimes, but at the end of the day, it is a way of connecting to people, not taking yourself too seriously and really listening to what people are saying.

Age, religion, culture and language doesn’t stand in the way of real true friendships and connections. It is amazing to think I have friends in most continents in the world, and with people from different cultures, upbringing and walks of life! What a privilege to be able to connect with some many people, to broaden my horizon and expand my thinking in this way! The world is so big and beautiful, and how awesome is it to be years down the line and still meet up with friends I met 6 years ago in Korea.

The world is a marvellous place and how amazing it was to experience so many new and exciting places, people and things first hand, and really live life! I am forever grateful for what travelling and living abroad gave me.

Apart from making this big move, you’ve also taken a hugely brave step by choosing entrepreneurship and launching your own business recently. Can you share a bit about Living a Lighter Life? What does your work entail?

I would love to share more about what I do! Living a Lighter Life consists of health coaching and also the making of delicious healthy vegan treats and snacks.

I am an Integrative Nutrition health coach and my passion is to help others live their best, healthiest and happiest lives. Moving away from restriction and deprivation and eating healthy nourishing food in abundance!

Healing ourselves from the inside out not only through the food we eat but through emotional healing and balancing all areas of our lives. I always say you can eat all the kale and green smoothies in the world, but if you are for instance unhappy at work, or struggling in a relationship, you are not living your healthiest and happiest life.

My goal is to help and guide people to find the balance that they have been looking for, to heal and navigate the world of eating healthy, with less restriction and more freedom, and encouraging a more holistic approach to health and happiness. I work one-on-one with clients in person or via Skype.

My programs are designed to really focus on the individual, meet them where they are and help them reach their goals. I have some amazing clients and it has been my absolute dream to see how they grow, learn, evolve and align with their goals and live the lives they have always dreamed of. Giving clients the safe space to try new things, embrace who they are and help them navigate the way of true holistic healing.

What first sparked your passion for health and wellness? What would your top tip/s be for anyone looking to live a lighter life of their own?

My passion for health, wellness and healing started when I went through my own health journey in 2017 and lost 17kg, started to heal myself from the inside out. Living a lighter life in more than just about losing physical weight, but healing mentally and emotionally. It has been about shedding all the things that burdened me, and that kept me heavy and prevented me from living my lightest happiest life. Letting go of limitations, fears that held me back and embracing my true self.

This was also a time of becoming more aware of my impact on the environment and being conscious of where my food, clothes and water come from. This led to starting to live a more minimalistic life, getting rid of stuff, the things that hold us down and leave no room to be light and free! Kelly and I came to SA with just 30kg each and continue to live a super simple minimalistic life.

Living a lighter life, emotional, physically mentally and environmentally has been so liberating, and created a space to actually see the impact we have on the world we live in.

Some of the things that helped me along my journey is the follow:

  1. Being more mindful of what we consume. The awareness of what we eat, where it comes from and how it got on our plate.
  2. Focus on whole, real food. Food that is not processed or comes in a package. Think more veggies, beans, rice, lentils and fruit and less bars, cookies, pre-made meals and processed, man-made foods.
  3. Hydration! People are mostly chronically dehydrated, which leads to so many problem and illnesses. Headaches, cravings, bad skin and issues with digestion. Drinking enough GOOD QUAILITY water is key! We are 60 – 70 % water after all!
  4. Gratitude! Gratitude brings joy! And having joy is the ultimate way to live a happy and fulfilling life! A daily gratitude journal has been so powerful for me. Putting down on paper what I am grateful for gives one such perspective and allows one to really appreciate everyone you have.
  5. Positive attitude! Where focus goes, energy flows and what we think we attract. The more positive we are the more our life will line up as they are supposed to.

How can people find out more about what you do and maybe even book a health coaching consultation with you?

It would be so lovely to connect with people, you can find me on Instagram at @nikolabotha I love sharing recipes, ideas and motivation and interacting with people about health and wellness. I also have a Facebook page, Nikola Botha – Living a Lighter Life.

My brand-new website which I am so proud of has just be redone! You can check it out at livingalighterlife.com.  Please feel free to have a browse on here to see what I do, and send me a message to book a health consultation today.

Nikola has been so kind as to offer a free health consultation to anyone who came across her work on this here Peregrina blog. All you have to do is get in touch with her on one of her social media platforms or via email, say you read this post and voila!


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