Thursday, February 20, 2014


                                                                                    When in doubt, dance
Photo: Kira Burdeshaw

This story, as with many before on this blog, is late...and it is a long time coming. It is the story of feist--a rare word and action and, to be clearer, it is the tale of the war between Feist and Fear.

If you've dared read this wayward little tale for some time, you may have seen long stories and loud pictures  of vast and small countrysides, quaint or bold adventures, and fine characters. It's been that way for over half a dozen states and at least one gypsy-rambled European country.

It has been my life, for the last three years. It has been strange and dreamy and enviable and bold and downright crazy....this, I've been told by people who dare to admire the stitched together pieces that I share here.

Occasionally, it has been painful, too.

Last year was a strange year, which followed a year much stranger, much more surreal. That year may be called--in the Romany Tongue and songs of gypsies--The Year of Fire. While that sounds dramatic, it really means that fire takes one thing to turn into another, and ends one phase of things to create another. More figuratively, that time went from the general light heart of great traveling to a descending well. It was darkness, and ashes, it burned of smoke.

That year, I lost my father, my inspiring work with bees, my general life in New York, TWO different dream writing jobs, and a person I loved deeply. I knock on wood as I type this, natch, that I could not lose one more thing.  For me, that Year of Fire was really a Year of Fear. Sure, there is a certain buoyancy that still existed--it had to, by my general mindset--but there was the sudden realization that maybe, just maybe, stepping anywhere was sure to get your paws jaw-trapped amongst a forest of confusion.That this whole thing actually had teeth, and would not let go, holding a high ransom over your head.

This is NOT how it all started, of course. We are born with feist, with zeal (notice my penchant for seldom-used words), with the mad drive for living. So very like baby goats, bursting out into the world, all long legs and bouncing. There would be no knowledge of fences, wolves, slaughterhouses.  There would be no understanding of aging, injury, pain, loss. And if you're not careful, these things will come for you, plaguing your heart with a blackness that will never recover from any amount of scrubbing.

And that was happening. That boundless fearlessness had now dissolved into a puddle of questioning, a malignant stagnation that would leave me foggy-brained. I found myself, for hours at a time, having long conversations with myself, all of which boiled down to "what am I doing?" and whether any of the decisions I was making would really lead me to the place I needed to be.  And where was that place, anyway? Would anyone be waiting for me there? Would I be a lonely, old, frail thing?  And on and on it went.  Yet, what can you say when every effort or worthy thing has been torn or rejected away from you.

There was no point in talking about it--it was a slow, nagging thing living inside of my head, along with another: I belonged nowhere in civilization. For the many qualifications, skills, and experiences I've had, there was not a reliable job that would touch me. There was no significant other for hand holding, no kids, nary a dog to speak of. It's as if part of my existence--*POOF* had entirely counted for nothing. I came back from a strange and fruitless year of journeying with little to show for it in hand or pocket.....feeling tired and lonely, but for one thing....

There is a book. Literally all that was being asked of me. A publisher wanted to have a look at a book. A book I am writing about these travels, and how you can do it, too. In a way this writing, as it always does, saves me. As I wrote a funny little memoir of a girl who has no business traveling around, and as I relived those pages I thought to myself  "HEY! I have done some pretty unique and interesting things!" I realize I ran a dance and theater troupe, and I've been published for my folk art, and I've been in a film for beekeeping and I teach all this stuff around the country, I had a radio show and ran a group of writers and I have met and spoken with important and amazing people and HEY! I've done some pretty unique and interesting things!

And suddenly, the FEIST returned. And a gal with feist is a dangerous thing. 

And in finding the feist, I realized I had been too cautiously stepping, and it made for a lot of sitting still. And travelers, you may have heard, REALLY (really!) do not like sitting still.

And so now, I will tell you about another story. One in which I need your help.  I have news, and I need advice, and I want you to share in this adventure, as it is very much your story, going along with me on this strange adventure.

I have been looking at gypsy wagons, and I have been looking at people to film this journey, and I have a publisher looking at books, and I don't even know where to start. I know I would like to document this somehow, and bring it to you, and teach people who want to live a life from under the thumb of fear, or who want to live a life adventure, how to do so, even just a little bit. I know so many people who live lives of jobs they hate and lives of convenience, which they hate, and do things that they dislike all. the. time. to feed some sort of unknown animal that promises security, but never quite delivers it.

So, I am starting on the next leg of the adventure, and I would love for you to participate! Here are some details!  I am hoping to do all of these, so let's see how far we get!

BOOK~"Beyond Vagabond" is a book, which is a manuscript, which is almost done. It's part story of mine, and also how to live your life outside the box, with little money, travel around, with the environment, and so on. I cover all the modes of "outside of the box" living. My friend joked that the book should be called "Hippie 101" but the book really is for everyone and includes a lot of options.
*My publisher is LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE LIVED OFF THE GRID, AWAY FROM the cubicle job, or who have made seemingly impossible interested lives happen. Are you INTERESTED in being featured? Contact me at and we'll see if it can be made to happen.

TOUR~I am scheduling more traveling classes in May!  For those of you who don't know, Beyond Vagabond has me going around the country and teaching any of a various list of sustainable and artistic classes. Consider it a traveling peddlers wagon of learning delights. **I AM ALSO PLANNING TO PACK UP MY SOAPS, goodies, clocks, art and herbie things and take them with me!
Right now, it is looking like New England maybe the place to go in May!
I hope to have some more news on this!

WAGON (?!) ~ Speaking of packing things up--so I must clearly drive along the roads to these classes. While my faithful Jalopy will suffice for now. I've been looking for other options--How about THIS little peddler's wagon?

Update: after a long bout of calling, I've found that this lovely has already been sold!

However, I'm looking at another fine maker of gypsy wagon goodness who also happens to be within a reasonable distance of getting-to, and I'll have that as an update soon.

WEBSITE ~ In order to get all sorts of information out to you, I'll be revamping this little spot on the interwebs, and adding another, separate, linkable site with just things to buy, as I may have many things to sell, to finance it all. Look for more here in the next few days!

GIVEAWAY ~ In the same vein, in order to celebrate all of this, I'll have a giveaway here or on my little space on Facebook. Click HERE if you'd like to be part of that little community.

RADIO SHOW ~ I'm planning to host a radio show featuring positive, amazing people who live the sort of life that I am aiming for--they are doing amazing things outside the box. I hope to inspire you with it!
*If you know of someone who would like to, or should be interviewed send them my way!

KICKSTARTER?? ~ This is where I need the most advice. While this journey, the idea of going around, teaching people, filming it, and bringing it to you is indeed wonderful, it is not without unforeseen expenses. Payment for gas and maintenance, possible lodging, paying someone to film, any equipment, food, and other unforseen aspects is something to think about. Although I have been lucky to have rainy day pennies tucked away for just such a situation, I can guess that there might need to be some sort of funding necessary. I have been thinking heavily of the idea of using Kickstarter or other sort of online funding method. What I would need to know, Fine Friends and Readers, is this:

1. Does this Beyond Vagabond Project seem of use or interest to you?

2. Would this be something you would support?

3. If not Kickstarter, what other advice would you have for raising funds, or in general for this project?

Many thanks my FEISTY Fellow Friends!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

zan, I am supportive of just about anything you come up with...and I love the idea of a book from you. I would love to be featured as a scrap artisan if there is some way I can fit in. also I want you to think about coming to the farm in texas. I think we could come up with a lot of things for you to do , teach etc. I don't recommend texas in july and august. but the fall and spring are wonderful. you could use us as a home base and we would try and help find teaching assignments I can talk in exact ideas about that later. love you and your journey, fran and country in texasl