dancing around my dreams

I met Jessemey while working at a kundalini yoga studio in Los Feliz. She was beautiful and would often show up in this funky black sweater. Initially she seemed quiet, but had a relaxed and friendly vibe about her. Over time, we began chatting before or after class. I found her kiwi accent charming and her love for yoga inspiring. Eventually I invited her on a tea date, which is how I end up connecting with most new friends these days. We instantly bonded over our love for kundalini and passion for creative, authentic living. Before she left town, I asked her if she would write something for me. With a background in dance and modeling, the subject seemed fitting. 

I am a Kiwi girl with a gypsy heart and a mind full of dreams. This is my story of how important it is to follow your desires, listen to your intuition and continue to grow as your own unique person.

As I write this post, it is the middle of Winter in New Zealand the fire is roaring beside me. I’m sitting in a cute 70s hippy bach in a small beach town called Whiritoa in the Coromandel.  I have been traveling for the last ten years and I have decided to make New Zealand home as of now. My adventurous spirit started back when I was young. Being brought up in the country, I’ve always had a sense of freedom and adventure. From an early age, dancing was my passion. It gave me a feeling of elegance, presence and expression. Putting movement and music together made me feel alive, burnt my energy and kick started my free spirited nature.

From dancing professionally, I progressed into modelling. This happened incidentally when I was scouted by a Japanese agency.  Going to Tokyo at the age of 18 was liberating.  I fell in love with Japan, the food, the people, the secret streets, delicious ramen noodle shops, cherry blossom trees, the language and the respect that Japanese people showed one another.

At 25 I had the opportunity to move to New York City. Being thrown straight into the city and the grind was incredible.  You have no choice but to hit the ground running and I was determined to put 100% into my career. I loved the energy, the buildings, the foods, the people and the excitement of the city.

Work was good. I had a great agency who looked after me and booked me on exciting jobs. I made friends and got to fly to incredible places. I was fully alive in a city filled with so much potential. As NYC became my new home, I slowly started to forget about New Zealand. I would fly home for a few weeks each year and find it so hard to switch off from my New York lifestyle. I loved seeing my friends and family, but couldnt wait to get back to the city.

After a few years in New York, I started to become a lot more aware of my feelings. Upon inner exploration, I knew that something was missing in my life. New York can be a ruthless place. Below the shininess of the city were things that I didnt want to be a part of- sadness, greed,  egotism, pollution and addiction. I started to think that the glamour wasnt worth the darkness that accompanied it. After tossing and turning for a year or two, not feeling one hundred percent grounded with how I was living, I decided to go off in search of something more fulfilling

After careful consideration, I decided to give up my New York lifestyle. I waved goodbye to the buildings, the frenetic energy and friends, and headed back to a country of green and quiet. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. Apart of me still had that drive to succeed in the city but I knew deep down I had to follow my intuition and find what I truly desired.

Returning to New Zealand, I felt completely lost. Grasping for grounding, I signed up to do my 200 teacher training yoga course in Fiji.  I had always had a passion for yoga and the philosophies seemed like they could help answer the questions on my mind.

Yoga has taught me how to lead a healthy lifestyle by following Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. It has also helped to release blockages and thought patterns. Living in a city like New York, you feel like you have to continuously protect yourself. After a while this protection turns into fear and that fear leads you away from your truth.

Today, yoga has become a daily ritual. Everything I do now stems from this practice of self-guidance, self-respect and self-acceptance. It helps process both positive and negative emotions, while nurturing decisions made through a neutral mind. This path of self-growth leads me to live mindfully in each moment.

When I look back on modeling in New York, I realized that the bad outweighed the good. Even though there were high highs, I need more in my life. It just wasnt the world that would let me grow and be who I truly wanted to be. Once I stopped dancing around my truth, everything fell into place. By basing my life around my yoga, it gives me the strength and stability to make anything possible.

Currently I am back living in New Zealand and feel settled for now. I am preparing to open a small yoga studio/ health retreat in the country. My dream is to create a brand that ties yogic philosophy and sustainable living together. I will continue to teach yoga, helping to bring awareness into peoples lives.

Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” - Yogi Bajan



Thanks to Jessemy for this essay and all photos! For more of J, you can find her on insta at @jessemeybank & @_jasana_ or through her blog.

Kenna Conway