Beth Nielsen Chapman: At school, I was the girl with 'Granny' glasses and guitar on her back

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Nashville Grammy-nominated singer songwriter, Beth Nielsen Chapman

Beth Nielsen Chapman
Gail Bell

Up and at it - what is your morning routine?

I try to quiet my mind and find my centre before putting my feet on the floor. Even 10 seconds makes a difference. Then, if I'm really being good, I'll do a session of Wim Hof breathing to put a lot of oxygen in my blood. Once my feet hit the floor, things speed up.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

I'll drink a cup of Athletic Greens while waiting for the kettle to boil. This is a concentrated powder which has tons of nutrients and greens in it. Some days I'll have hot lemon juice for the first hour and then coffee. I don't normally eat until lunchtime unless I have to hit the ground running and then I'll whip up a couple of eggs and sauteed spinach.


Some form of protein like a couple of eggs or sliced turkey or smoke salmon. And some greens. Maybe a piece of fruit.

Evening meal?

That varies greatly. My favourite is a lovely grilled fish and a salad and veggies. And, if I stray into treats, I am compelled to say 'yes' to ice-cream.


Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

Yes, being a breast cancer survivor, nutrition is very important to me. I do find it very challenging to avoid sugar, but generally, I try to eat a minimum of fried foods and 'fast' foods. I get most of my nutrition from food, but occasionally I'll take extra vitamin D and C and an overall daily vitamin.


Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

I've been on a million diets - I have found them mostly unsustainable and the best luck I've had is to try to be conscious of what I eat throughout the day, often fasting in the morning to reset my gut.


Weekend treat?

It swings between mint chocolate chip gelato and ready salted crisps.


How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

Sleep, good nutrition and movement - in that order. In 2012 I was diagnosed with ADHD, so getting my brain to slow down and getting my body tucked into bed, head on the pillow, is a big challenge. Meditation helps, but one song haunting me that I'm trying to finish can send me back into my studio until the sun comes up.


Best tip for everyday fitness?

Lately, I've gotten into the 'flo-rope' which is thick-knotted heavy rope that I swing around in all sorts of ways - kind of like a moving meditation, but also quite a workout.


Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

I was the girl with the round 'Granny' glasses with a guitar on her back looking for the girls' smoking bathroom and looking to meet up with my friends and do a sing-a-long...


Teetotal or tipple?

I loved having my wine with dinner and Grand Marnier after, but once I went through stage 2 breast cancer in 2000, I became aware that any, even a small amount of regular alcohol consumption could increase my chances of having a reoccurrence, so I stopped drinking completely about eight years ago. I don't miss it as long as I drink my fizzy-water/elderflower cordial out of a fine wine glass.


Stairs or lift?

Stairs when I can find them.


What book are you currently reading?

Talking To The Sky by Aimee Mayo - it's an absolute page-turner memoir about hit songwriter, Aimee Mayo. She's a fantastic writer and the story and sentences jump off the page.


Best Netflix?

The Crown.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself over the pandemic?

I've learned that it's pointless to wallow in or dwell on the things I have no control over. Being a lifelong control freak, this has been somewhat liberating.


Any new skills or hobbies?

Well, in the early days of the pandemic when supplies were limited, I learned how to make a face shield out of the lid of a Costco chicken pot pie, which I posted on my Instagram @beth_nielsen_chapman to great response.


How do you relax?

Hot baths and music... but mostly playing with my two grandsons: Trey, who is eight, and Sebastian, who is two.


What are your goals for 2022?

I'll be putting most of my energy into promoting my new record CrazyTown and touring extensively. Between all that, I'll be teaching workshops on creativity, vocal presence and songwriting.


What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

Oh, my worst subject... It is a struggle for me to get to bed on time every night, sometimes to get to bed at all. I am in danger of going into hyper-focus when I'm working in my studio. Sometimes, I look up and I'm amazed the birds are singing and the sun is back.


Biggest gripe?

The way my country and some other parts of the world have been sabotaged by misinformation that has scattered and distorted reality and affected half a world of people who are convinced that the other side is brainwashed. It has been the most destructive thing I've ever witnessed and I'm not sure how we get to fix the problem.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Yes. I try not to miss the beauty of each moment wherever and whenever I can find it.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

I was already very much aware of my mortality having come through the death of my husband to cancer in 1994 and my treatments and ultimate cure of breast cancer in 2000. Then I went through a brain tumour in 2009, fortunately coming through that completely fine. But my perspective on mortality changed with each of those experiences. And with the pandemic, it was just broadened out to include the world. I felt a sense of fear, wonder and a new awareness of our global mortality, which put my own sense of mortality into uncharted territory.

Beth Nielsen Chapman's new single, Hey Girl is out now with her album, Crazytown, launching in September. Irish concert dates will follow.

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