We caught up with Gypsy at her nicely appointed place just outside of Ubud, Bali. She talked with us about how important travel and location independence are to her; her travels to Central America, Europe and Southeast Asia, how Burning Man festival changed her life, her dance and yoga practice and instruction both in private lessons and at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, why smiling and fearlessness are essential, and a whole lot more.
Gypsy: My name is Gypsy, and that name alone is a nomadic name. It was not the name that I was born with but I have been using it as my nickname for more than half my life. So about the time I turned eighteen, I was performing, I was dancing, I was always very colorful and enjoying being a free spirit and connecting with community. The name Gypsy was inspiration for me because it allowed me to step into that energy and it’s kind of taken now me to all these places in my life where I have been quite a bit of a Gypsy in a positive way, associating that with that I love to travel. I don’t really stay in one place too long. And as soon as I feel that stagnation of comfort zone or I’ve learned a certain place or certain language because I’ve lived in Central America, I’ve lived in Europe for many years. And now I’m living here in Southeast Asia. And so I really enjoy traveling and I think my name kind of took me into that realm even more so. What I do besides dancing and performing is all things that are associated with the body being a vehicle for expression, whether it’s performing, whether it is praying. I teach yoga. I teach Pilates. I teach dance. I teach meditation. I learn those things as well and kind of continue to expand and grow and take myself to the place where I’m being moved. And in that movement with spirit that is consciousness, a breath of life that helps me to feel free and that connection to the universal freedom that we all share and that we all desire I think innately as human beings.
Bram: So how long have you been in Southeast Asia? What has the flow of your travel been like over the last several years?
Gypsy: I was living in Europe until mid—I’ll say about middle of 2011, and I decided to go in search of something else. I kind of took myself in my own Sabbatical because I’d been based in Europe for five years. I didn’t know it was going to be Southeast Asia. I really didn’t know where I was going to go. And I just threw caution to the wind. I traveled to see some family which is in the United States where I was born. And then from there I was visiting some friends and at the back of my mind toying with the idea of going back to Europe of trying something new. I came to Asia because I knew about the Bali Spirit Festival which was created to bring together dance and music and yoga. And I forgot that part. I also really love music. And so I came here for the Bali Spirit Festival and not any expectations of staying. But when I landed and the culture was so beautiful and welcoming and the energy in Bali seemed to be connected to me as I needed to evolve into my own spiritual self even deeper and it was very feminine here. It seemed very soft as compared to Northern Europe where I was living. I decided to wrap up my life from the last chapter and make my new chapter here. So this February will be two years. So I’ve been here a little more than a year and a half and I love it every day and grateful of living here and recognize that I’m a foreigner, and I think I like that because it helps me to stay humble and yet connect on many different intelligences of other people’s cultures.
Bram: What are some of the things you find attractive about the mobile lifestyle? What’s kept you in motion all these years?
Gypsy: New adventure. Always meeting with people and I think there’s a great gift that comes from the courage and the bravery that it takes to trust and moving forward without the fear that you might lose it all which I have. I’ve been completely without money and not knowing where I was going to live. But the way the universe and people actually come together and help each other in community even if people you’ve never met them before. I’ve met complete strangers that had brought me into their house and shared things with me that have brought me closer to them more than my entire life. And being that I’ve traveled and taught and performed and moved in many different places whether it’s for work, most of it has been for work. It’s not just been always just jumping off. But besides coming to Asia for the Bali Spirit Festival, I usually move places for work. But it’s been with risk because I didn’t know if the work was really going to sustain me. But in landing there, something always comes. And time and time again, I’m reminded of trust. I’m reminded of how life rewards risk. That’s fun.
Bram: You mentioned the Bali Spirit Festival. Are there any other specific events or any places in particular that stand out in your mind as having a major impact in your life?
Gypsy: Definitely Burning Man. [laughs] Yeah. Check it out online. I Google on and on and on for ages. Burning Man definitely changed my life, again showing me that humanity I think 95 percent of all humans are inherently good, inherently want to share, inherently want to be a part of something and participate in community full of love, and we really can flow out abundance of energy whether that’s circulation of support, supporting art, helping circulate money while we support each other’s businesses that are conscious businesses. Through Burning Man, that really showed me about the gift of economy and showing me how to do barters and trades, which I’m doing right now. Even though I work and make money off and trade with people, which I think is great. It’s where we have to go. Besides that, wow. Living a couple of times in third world countries including this one here and seeing how happy people are without much of anything, with dirt floors and seven family members all living under a little shack and seeing them beam and smile and laugh when I know so many other people, friends of mine that are uber wealthy but really aren’t happy inside. It’s just it’s really about finding yourself and knowing that that’s stripping down the clothes and stripping down of the material. What’s really important is the connection.
Bram: Do you remember what your motivation was when you first began feeling attracted to taking off and exploring?
Gypsy: Hmm, motivate that. You know, my mom is an airline stewardess and my dad loves to travel. We always travel. They met on an airplane. So I think it was implanted in my being. [laughs] I think it’s just that we, me and my family personally, my family, my little nuclear family, we need to shake it up and not get too complacent and settled in one spot. That doesn’t mean we can’t have our nest to come back to. But I love traveling alone. I think it’s such an eye-opening and heart opening and sometimes it can even bring on some internal fears. But if you bring yourself into challenge and stay with yourself and see where the mind goes in your challenge and rise up, to me it’s just a greater path of evolution and a path of stepping into other cultures. Walking the Commune de Santiago, that was one that probably had also changed my life. I walked Commune de Santiago as a pilgrim and really working myself down a lot over and over and crying and not thinking I could make it through it. Taking yourself to these places where you feel elated because you’ve gone there.
Bram: What are some of the most important skills or abilities that have enabled you to become more sustainable in this lifestyle?
Gypsy: Confidence. Smile. Waking up every day and smiling even when you don’t think you should. It really shifts your whole perspective of the day. Just setting the tone of I really have it so good in my life. Even in those moments when I feel like it’s all crumbling underneath me. And then the qualities that I’m really grateful for which is my talent. I feel innately from a very early age that I was gifted with the talent to be a mover and I shift with the wind and I shape-shift to the wind. I’m a dancer and I’m a teacher, and innately that is a calling to me that comes really naturally. And I love to connect with people. And I think that also comes from being able to travel, being able to be independent, stand on my own. A little bit like I haven’t studied too many martial arts but I know martial arts when I’ve done them and the philosophy behind them is not being a block to your own opponent but being able to ease through like water and shift the energy and move through life like water. That’s a gift.
Bram: Thank you for that. What are the most exciting aspects of what you’re doing currently here? You kind of touched on a few but what comes to mind when…
Gypsy: Right now I’m most excited because I’m just now starting to be—I’m starting teaching at the Yoga Barn which is pretty much what brought me here to Bali Spirit Festival. And the most exciting part about that for me is that it is such an international hub for people all around the globe to come through whether it’s for sound healing, yoga, dance, just connecting with people. It’s like a health campus and it’s a beautiful space. The fact that I get to meet so many people internationally and know that my teachings and my gifts are being shared on a global level is really exciting for me because I know I have a lot to offer and I felt that throughout my whole life and anyone who does come through my classes gives me that feedback. And so my next goal is to shift up to launching all of my offerings and my classes and my teachings through my online web site so that not only I’m based here on Southeast Asia, but no matter where anyone is living on the planet, they can tap in to what I teach and to what I share no matter what time of day and what area of the world they live on and they can actually tailor what they would like or have a personal one on one journey with me. And that’s really exciting. I’m kind of moving that to the next level where I’m actually seeing that coming to fruition. Whereas before I really held myself back I think because I traveled so much. Now I’m actually settling a little bit. Not to say that I won’t continue to explore my whole life, but for now, while I’m in Asia these next couple of years launching a web site which would be a Gypsy nomadic global way of sharing what I do.
Bram: Wonderful. We look forward to seeing that roll out.
Bram: As people are thinking about doing what you’re doing, thinking about taking off and being a nomad, it’s easy to idealize what that lifestyle is like. What are some of the tedious or kind of the shadow side of living a conscious nomadic lifestyle that you can share with people so that they might be prepared for that?
Gypsy: I think the hardest for most people including myself when I really very first started to pick up and leave with no home was getting rid of all my stuff. I remember the first time I had two huge suitcases. When I went to even hike the Commune de Santiago, I had 25 kilos on my pack. And I thought I needed all this stuff. And I think that’s really difficult. We really believe we need to hold on to stuff. And sure, that’s not to say I also hold on to some treasured items. But I had now realized how much better and easier it feels to purge and let go and release the amount that I carry with me and that’s an enormous freedom. The other hard part is feeling ungrounded if you don’t have a practice that keeps you grounded whether that is a movement practice, or Tai chi or qigong or yoga or meditation because when you don’t have a place to call home and you might be sleeping on a different couch or a different hotel every night or every other night and living out of a suitcase, it can get quite scattering. And when you’re living out of a suitcase and you don’t know where things are and you start to feel really scattered, it’s very unsettling and ungrounding and there’s nothing I think more challenging for me than being really scattered because I’m already quite like quite fiery and I have a lot of air and so that creates fire and air and I tend to move that way. So if I don’t have some practice that keeps me grounded while moving, and an occasional glass of wine [laughs], then it can be quite challenging. But I encourage people to do it because if you do it and you can open up to the stranger, the person sitting next to you on the bus, while you’re eating alone, and also that lonely person that might want to have a nice conversation with you, you can make some of the best of friends and they might even invite you in for that glass of wine. You can invite them and meditate with you the next day.
Bram: Do you feel what you’re doing currently is the highest expression of this offering or do you envision it evolving in some way other than what you’ve mentioned in terms of the web site?
Gypsy: It’s definitely my highest self that I’m working with. And when I’m really in in teaching and working and performing, I’m channeling and I am part of the divine and I am the divine. I will say that I do keep a higher vortex out of humility in myself to always continue to aspire to because I feel that I think that comes—for me being as an artist, there’s always a work in progress and I’m always aspiring to take the next step in evolution. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here and that is part of the philosophy that comes from yoga and many different spiritual philosophies is you can’t jump to the absolute. You can’t already be at the absolute. You have to take each step. And through that, I know that there is more to come and always growing and learning. I pray that I will always be living for that highest life, that highest consciousness that like Christ or Buddha, Krishna, that bright light that we attain but then we are always human. We’re not completely infallible. So yeah. There’s more to come. I think it’s more in the healing realm, being able to reach people.
Bram: Thinking about yourself and the people you know up here in Bali and the people you know that are traveling in other places, people who expressed themselves a Burning Man, what contributions do you think this type of lifestyle is making to a world like ours where there are so many boundaries and borders and limitations and fear being constantly put on people? Do you see that? Do you see that there’s a…
Gypsy: Oh yeah. It’s always a little bit baffling to me how much the borders and the boundaries and the immigration and the blocks are so global. In my country, the United States, they’re cracking down even more now on Mexican migrants. I don’t agree with the borders. I see that the world is our home. The Earth is our home. And we should all be able to explore it and treat it as it is our home even though of course that doesn’t mean that you don’t value cultures and communities and indigenous cultures whether you’re in Scandinavia or whether you’re in Peru. Of course those are the indigenous peoples. I really value people who push the borders and become expats because we’re already mixing all of our races and that’s been going for centuries already. I mean I could be wrong. I don’t know. But there’s not that many true indigenous cultures left. So I can understand the need to hold on to patriotism and culture and preserve it. But I look forward to being part of one of the pioneers with all the other nomadic people that really begin to intermix, intermingle and allow dissolve that is held around the structure of what our governments are trying to hold because I think it’s just keeping us in more of a racist kind of mentality. When we start to see the other person as ourselves no matter what they look like, color, past, what soul exists here. When people can open to their own vulnerabilities and help a community of global citizens.
Bram: One more question.
Bram: Do you have any advice you would give to someone wanting to follow a similar path or any last thoughts you’d like to share with the community at large?
Gypsy: Be fearless. Even though it will creep back up on you, be fearless. Life is always changing, will never stop changing. You will always change. You cannot hold on to something. The more you can accept what is even when that what is is painful and challenging and you feel that you’re broken and bent, you can be strong always like a mountain and still be yourself, standing up and changing and moving through it and letting things pass in acceptance of what is. One thing I’ll leave with is this one, my favorite parts of a William Blake poem. When I first went to college, I was never really the school type. I was way too like “No, I want to do it my way! I’m free! I want to go here, here, here!” When I first moved to college, I lived in a dorm and the walls were white which drove me nuts. So I picked up some paint and I painted the wall and I painted this William Blake quote on my wall because I think it was really beautiful for whether you want to be a nomad and you want to start traveling or whether you’re staying in your little bubble. But to be able to feel this with everyone in your life including yourself and that is this: "He who binds himself to joy does the wings life destroy. But he who kisses the joys of life lives in eternity’s sunrise." Thank you.
Bram: Thank you for sharing with us.
Gypsy: Thank you so much, Bram.