As a dear friend of mine, I’ve seen Lynn Mylou go through a beautiful transformation over the years, and while that may have brought her many different places, she has always stayed deeply true to herself. One essential trait that has always been a strong part of Lynn’s personality, is that when she cares about something, she really puts her heart and soul into it, and becomes relentless. Therefore, when Lynn in 2015 sold her home and belongings in Amsterdam, bought a van and hit the road with her dog Fausto, headed for Portugal, I wasn’t worried for a second. I knew that her passion and dedication would transform into something extraordinary, but what I’ve witnessed though social media and our conversations over the last year has literally blown my socks off, in lack of better words. After finding a piece of paradise at the foothills of the Serra de Estrela mountain range, building her own non-toxic, carbon positive, off-grid treehouse, she’s setting out to build three more small homes, establish a natural, community farm and accept over 200 visitors and collaborators yearly to join in her vision towards a more sustainable future.
Many people dream of changing their lives and their ways. Going off the grid and living in harmony with nature may be a distant dream for many, but few actually act on it. What prompted you to take the plunge and really do it?
I guess it’s my strong sense of integrity. Over a few years I became conscious about how destructive our Western society is, and became aware that all of my daily choices make me either an accomplice or prosecutor of those responsible for the mess we find ourselves in. As individuals we have a lot of power—the smallest decisions from where we buy our food, shop for clothes, entertain ourselves, or what news we share on social media all determine who we feed with our personal energy (whether that’s money, attention, time or other energy forms) and therefore our individual choices empower those we engage with, and disempower those we don’t. While living in the city, I was able to adjust and change a lot of lifestyle choices, but I also faced a lot of dead ends. No matter how creative I was, I found myself still being dependent on corporations and institutions that I didn’t align with. I became increasingly fed up with the level of control in our society, and with the straight lies told to us in order to sell us things under the pretence of acting in our best interest. This brought me to a point of contemplating how I could regain my independence and personal freedom. This is a complex thing, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed and left with a feeling of despair and powerlessness, but I decided to take it step by step by first focussing on my basic needs of food and shelter, with the aim to provide alternatives and solutions to others at the same time, and work my way up from there. I’m not the only one who’ve embarked on this path, and there’s an incredible well of information to be found online from people who already took the plunge decades before me. I’m very happy to notice that lately more and more are standing up to the capitalistic system by starting to follow a different path than the one they are taught. The impact of every small decision in this direction, is far greater in the big picture than we can imagine.
As individuals we have a lot of power—the smallest decisions from where we buy our food, shop for clothes, entertain ourselves, or what news we share on social media all determine who we feed with our personal energy and therefore our individual choices empower those we engage with, and disempower those we don’t.
Your site and name of your project, A Vida Fausto, is named after your dog, (Fausto) who has been with you since shortly after you moved from Berlin to Amsterdam. Can you tell me us more about how your dog has been instrumental in this process for you?
Yes, this happened during one of the darkest periods I’ve ever experienced in my life. Later I found out that what I had experienced then is often referred to as The dark night of the soul, and that I went through a Spiritual death. At that time I just felt incredible devastated, and for a few weeks I was literally mentally and physically paralyzed, which was a very strange experience for someone like me who’s over all quite optimistic, and from an outsiders perspective looking at my life, shouldn’t have much to complain about. From a rational perspective, it wasn’t the most ideal time to take on the responsibility for an abandoned shelter puppy, but it was one of the few very strong intuitive messages I received during that time. I checked out many shelter websites, scrolling through hundreds of pictures of dogs in need of a home. Somehow Fausto stuck with me, not because I was familiar with his breed, or country of origin, but when looking at his picture a strong feeling of familiarity and recognition came over me. When he arrived in Amsterdam from Lisbon, I soon realized that he was a special one. I grew up with dogs, but those were all quite easy going and chill. Fausto, on the other hand, turned out to be a highly sensitive and intelligent being. In order for me to build a functioning relationship with him, I had to learn how to communicate with him, and pick up his subtle clues. I spent a lot of time learning about dog behavior and taking classes at the dog school (which is really more a school for humans than the other way around). Because his breed is the most advanced hunting dog out there, I couldn’t let him off leash in the city parks, and started to go on long hikes with him to keep him satisfied. I found that his fears, aggressions, abandonment issues and vulnerabilities all mirrored back things about myself. I was lucky to work freelance for the best employers in the world (Halal Amsterdam and Appelsap Fresh Music Festival) who allowed me to take him to the office. As a little puppy, he needed to go outside quite often and this helped me to take more breaks during work. Before, the perfectionist in me had a lot of control, causing me to work way too many hours, but Fausto helped me detach from a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms by taking me into nature, where I found a much more meaningful connection—and myself.
Fausto helped me detach from a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms by taking me into nature, where I found a much more meaningful connection—and myself.
Before I hadn’t considered Portugal as a country in which to establish my project, but while researching to go visit his birthplace for a holiday, it opened my eyes. Soon after, it became very clear that Portugal was the place to be, and things rapidly started aligning. Mine and Fausto’s trip together in the camper towards Portugal was incredible. At times it really felt like I was traveling with a human friend, and him being very protective of me also provided a level of safety when parking somewhere in the middle of nowhere over night. During this time I learned a lot more about energy, universal law and the animal realm. Fausto behaves very particular around people; he can be the sweetest, most loving dog, licking your face upon meeting for the first time, or he’ll go for your calves within seconds. At first I perceived the latter as inconvenient, to say the least, and was looking for answers within the first months of his life, when he’d experienced quite a bit of trauma. As I became better equipped to understand him and his language, I realized that most of this behavior came from him reading people’s energy and subconscious intentions, mainly in relationship to me. In 99% of the cases he has proven to be right, only for me to find out weeks later when people started to show their true intentions towards me. Now, instead of punishing him for this behavior, which we as humans perceive to be unwanted, I thank him. In all the events where I meet new people, I take note of how Fausto is behaving around them. He’s an incredible guide in that sense. I have a very special connection with all four of my dogs, and they are amazing teachers in their own unique way, nevertheless I do feel that Fausto came into my life with a much higher purpose, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. Fausto got his name from the shelter and when I found out what it meant, depending on the context, ‘lucky, blessed or most beautiful’, I kept that name for him. A vida Fausto translates to ‘The wonderful life’ or ‘The Luxury life’. From a Western perspective my life now would be perceived as far from luxurious, but every day I personally feel like the richest woman on the planet.
I have a very special connection with all four of my dogs, and they are amazing teachers in their own unique way, nevertheless I do feel that Fausto came into my life with a much higher purpose, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.
Is there such a thing as a typical day in your life, and if so, what does it look like?
That’s the fun part of being here, and me learning to let go of control and to fully trust my inner guidance; I changed my subconscious programming of I have to into I want to. There’s always enough to do around here, and so far all these options are equally exciting to me. I try to wake up every day and decide what I feel most joyful about doing. I also had to learn the hard way, that when I try to force things to happen I experience a lot of resistance, but when I allow myself to be in energetic alignment, things flow naturally and unfold peacefully, without much effort. Of course, the dogs and future farm animals require a certain routine, but in order to not let that have too much control over me, I try to create the most ideal circumstances for them, where their needs are met without requiring a lot of input from me. I’m also much more paced by the seasons and elements here—when the weather is good, I love to work outside, and even until now, in mid-January, I spend most of my days, from early morning until long after sunset, outdoors. The open kitchen in my Birdhouse is one of my favorite places to be. I spend hours cooking, baking, lighting the fire for a hot shower or do work on my computer in the sun, while my furry friends are hanging around enjoying themselves. I try to find a healthy balance between hard physical work and time to recharge by going into nature. During the occasional colder days or heavy rains I really enjoy studying, researching and developing new plans and designs next to the upstairs fire. Some weeks in summer are just too hot to do anything mid-day, so I happily accept that as a sign from mother nature to jump in some paradise pools instead. Spending time with local or international friends who are visiting is also something I really enjoy, and I try, when that happens, not to be distracted by a schedule, responsibilities or planning, but to enjoy their company to the fullest by staying present.
I try to wake up every day and decide what I feel most joyful about doing. I also had to learn the hard way, that when I try to force things to happen I experience a lot of resistance, but when I allow myself to be in energetic alignment, things flow naturally and unfold peacefully, without much effort.
What, if anything, do you miss the most about how you used to live? And is there anything you thought you would miss, but are not?
International take away food! Some days I truly crave the convenience, and flavor, of Indian food, Suriname roti, really good Italian pizza, Vietnamese curry or Japanese Ramen delivered to my door. I spend a lot of time cooking three fresh meals every day, avoiding as much processed food as possible, but sometimes, after a long day, I would love to take the easy way out and eat something quick and different yet delicious. There’s a good amount of restaurants around here where they serve traditional Portuguese home cooked meals, but they only have meat and fish dishes on the menu, and as someone who doesn’t eat any of that I usually end up with a tomato salad and fries—if I’m lucky. Nevertheless, I do enjoy cooking a lot, and love sharing meals with friends here in the woods, and my body tells me it’s much happier this way. The absence of this type of food supply also has it’s advantages. A friend came over for the weekend and just when I was lighting the oven, I ran out of cooking gas. In Amsterdam, I would have walked across the street to my favorite Italian spot, to order some of their treats, but now, our only option was to cook over the bonfire. It was a lot of fun this way, and surprisingly, it tasted quite good.
A friend came over for the weekend and just when I was lighting the oven, I ran out of cooking gas. In Amsterdam, I would have walked across the street to my favorite Italian spot, to order some of their treats, but now, our only option was to cook over the bonfire.
Over the years, moving countries, the only thing I’ve missed at times were my very good friends. I’m not attached to materialistic things so that’s never been an issue. Modern technology makes it a lot easier to stay connected with everyone all over the world, but I also have first hand experience now that separation is an illusion. There are many more different ways and dimensions to connect, and whenever I experience loneliness, which is very rare lately, it’s a sign that I’m in desperate need of myself.
Whenever I experience loneliness, which is very rare lately, it’s a sign that I’m in desperate need of myself.
What are your five most favorite or essential objects right now and why?
Matryoshka Nesting Doll Spice Holders
Ten years ago, I worked for the creative agency Hendsum & Young in Amsterdam, who shared a space with 290sqm. The owner, Ido, had hundreds of Russian Matryoshka dolls left over from a project. I really liked them, and he told me to take as many as I wanted. The dolls are considered to be a symbol of motherhood and fertility—a mother doll with numerous doll-children perfectly expresses the oldest symbol of human culture. To me food, plants, herbs and spices are very much linked to the feminine energy, fertility and the circle of life, so I like to have them in my kitchen where they are filled with different spices and herbs. They have traveled the world with me, from Amsterdam to Brooklyn, to Berlin and now Portugal. They stand in the centre of my open kitchen and every morning when I come down the stairs I’m happy to see them.
To me food, plants, herbs and spices are very much linked to the feminine energy, fertility and the circle of life, so I like to have them in my kitchen where they are filled with different spices and herbs.
Vintage Patagonia Winter Coat
Patagonia is one of the few brands I highly respect for their efforts towards running a social and ecologically responsible business, without compromising on quality or aesthetics. I bought this coat second-hand for 16 €. The Patagonia items are worth a lot more due to their sustainable design, so this was a very lucky find which makes it even more special to me. It’s an ideal outdoor coat for me to use when cutting trees or firewood, but also when I go hiking in the morning. Now, in winter, I wear it most of the time and unfortunately burnt my sleeves when lighting the fire. Patagonia has a policy that lets you send in broken items, which they repair for free in order to extend their lifetime. Right now, I need it too much to let it go, but I may send it off in summer for ‘surgery’.
It’s an ideal outdoor coat for me to use when cutting trees or firewood, but also when I go hiking in the morning.
The Birdhouse, in general, is of course the most amazing gift I received last year, but the spiral staircase has a special meaning to me. For months I was searching the website Olx (Portuguese eBay) to find a second hand spiral staircase that would fit the house, and my budget. In the meantime I had to walk, with two puppies under my arm, 60 meters around the terrace wall to move between floors. Finally I found someone who was willing to listen to my poor Portuguese, but the stairs were located near Lisbon, which is a 3 hour drive. Not long after, I found someone with a truck who was willing to bring this large and heavy item over. With the help of eight people, we carried it down the slope, and my local builders cut it and welded it in place. After months of walking lots of extra meters every day, this felt like a true luxury item, and I love the curved shape in contrast with the straight lines and square shapes of the rest of the building.
After months of walking lots of extra meters every day, this felt like a true luxury item, and I love the curved shape in contrast with the straight lines and square shapes of the rest of the building.
This was a gift from my beloved friends in Amsterdam, on the night that I moved into the camper, on my way into the unknown. They had already engraved A vida Fausto — The luxury life, in it, which I found a very sweet gesture. It’s turned out to be one of my favorite items to have on me at all times, and I use it a lot for work on the land, or on hikes to share food. It also saved me once I locked myself out of the house and I’ve used it to remove a nasty bramble from dog paws—and I just like the idea of carrying my friends around wherever I go.
It’s turned out to be one of my favorite items to have on me at all times, and I use it a lot for work on the land, or on hikes to share food.
I worked for Halal and Dekmantel on a short documentary about a DJ who was based in Istanbul. We were filming in this magical city for four days, and on my day off I decided to go to one of the famous Hammams. On my way there I stopped to buy a towel at one of the many stalls at the Bazar and came across a very old Turkish lady, selling stacks of the typical hammam bath towels in every color of the rainbow. I was surprised by how well she spoke English, and I asked her to pick the color she found most suitable for me. She gave me a magenta one accompanied by the words, “This color stands for balance and harmony. You are the carrier of the flame of Universal love. This color helps you on your quest.” I was a bit stunned by her words, and didn’t know then what to make of it, but I found it a cool and well thought out answer nonetheless, so I happily continued my way to the bathhouse. Here in Portugal I spend a lot of time with this towel; I take it with me on hikes, wear it as as a skirt or scarf, and use it as a blanket. Somehow I feel very safe and comfortable when wearing it, so there was probably some truth in what that old lady at the market told me that day.
I stopped to buy a towel at one of the many stalls at the Bazar and came across a very old Turkish lady, selling stacks of hammam bath towels in every color of the rainbow. […] She gave me a magenta one accompanied by the words, “This color stands for balance and harmony. You are the carrier of the flame of Universal love. This color helps you on your quest.”
What is the most important lesson you have learned about yourself since you left embraced on this journey?
This journey started the day I was born, but if you refer specifically to the journey towards Portugal and the life I’m establishing here, many lessons repeated themselves, however, this time, I was able to consciously observe them. You’ve probably heard before that everything in our external world is a reflection of our inner world. ‘My man’, Einstein, says the same thing in different words, “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” In order to truly understand what this means, I had to educate myself about my various bodies: my physical body, my emotional body and mental body (which together form my ego), and my etheric body, or energy field, so to speak. Who I am, in essence, is none of them, they are merely vehicles I received upon birth to navigate through this lifetime on this planet. Our society tries to make us believe differently, by constantly feeding our egos, and by keeping us occupied with distractions in order not to spend to much time discovering our authentic selves. In order to become fully aligned with who I am, I first had to understand how these various vehicles operate in order to make them function to my best interest. My spiritual self was highly suppressed during most of my life, until a sudden Kundalini awakening two years ago set everything in high speed motion and opened many exciting new doors for me. Only when I became an observer of my ego (mental and emotional body), was I able to notice all of the unhealthy coping mechanisms I had built up over the years. I was able to let go of attachment and the illusion of fear. Through practice in everyday interactions with life, I started to transform the lower vibrational thoughts and emotions into higher vibrational ones. In addition, my physical body has become an excellent messenger of pointing out where I’m not in alignment with my authentic self. Every ailment or physical injury carries a message about something that needs healing on a metaphysical level, and when you’re able to receive and understand these messages, you are also able to heal yourself. It teaches me that I will always experience pain during my lifetime, but the amount of suffering is fully within my control. Being in that position feels very empowering and makes it equally exciting to encounter the good, the bad and the ugly. I still learn so many lessons every day, and it’s difficult to pick the most important one, because to me they’re all of equal value. The most startling one I found, is that magic (yeah the Harry Potter kind) is everywhere, after you’ve cracked a code or two.
Only when I became an observer of my ego (mental and emotional body), was I able to notice all of the unhealthy coping mechanisms I had built up over the years. I was able to let go of attachment and the illusion of fear.
Do you have any advise for people who are not quite ready to give up the comfort and convenience of city life, but still wish to make a difference and perhaps feel more connected to nature?
You don’t have to jump into extremes right away. We make a lot of choices every day, and even if we would change only 50% of them on a daily basis, we can create a huge difference collectively. The only thing you have to do is to observe your own habits and how you inhabit them. Simple things like reducing your meat consumption and choosing organic food has a huge impact on climate change and our ecosystem as a whole. Become conscious of the restaurants you chose, the events you support, the holidays you book, the materials you use or buy. In a capitalistic society we vote with our money, not by ticking a box once every four years. When buying things, start tracing your money back to the source. Usually this means you have to get through a chain of many (invisible) suppliers. If you think that a part of that chain isn’t beneficial to our planet and people, find a retailer or business who takes responsibility for the entire chain. If you empower these people and businesses by spending your money there, you disempower those who’s practices are destructive. This is the power we all individually have and if we use it wisely we’re able to demand a shift very rapidly. In the beginning this will cost a little more effort and research time, but very soon these new choices are naturally incorporated in your day to day life. Eliminating low vibrational energy, such as fear, envy and anger by not engaging in gossip and other negative behaviors, and avoiding people, places and corporations that you do not align with, will not only clear your own energy field, but allow space for more higher vibrational energy to enter your life, which has a similar effect on the collective. Reserve time in your day to meditate and make room for self-loving activities in your busy weekly schedule to raise your vibration. If classical meditation isn’t your thing, hiking or working in nature and being around animals has a similar effect on me. Another thing I’ve learned is that all dreams, no matter how crazy they are, can become reality, if they are in alignment with your life’s purpose on this planet: We are creators of our own reality! If it seems differently because there’s a long list of reasons why you can’t do something, this only means that your ego mind is making up excuses rooted in fear. In order to follow your heart and live your dream, the only thing you need to do is some serious inner-work. By identifying your fears and their root cause, you are able to release them from your subconscious and create a vacuum for higher vibrational energies to come in, which will help you towards your goal. If you strongly feel called to make a difference, to be that change, it may be time to start asking yourself the right questions why you are attached to the comfort and convenience of city life and you’ll find the answers you need by being brutally honest with yourself.
Eliminating low vibrational energy, such as fear, envy and anger by not engaging in gossip and other negative behaviors, and avoiding people, places and corporations that you do not align with, will not only clear your own energy field, but allow space for more higher vibrational energy to enter your life, which has a similar effect on the collective.
A classic last question—how do you envision your paradise a year from now? And how can we help you make this happen?
Paradise isn’t build in one day, and a year goes by so quick here! In a year I’d like to have shared my place with approximately 150 others, and we would have made a start with the first phases of the farm. This year I’m organizing some intimate, short retreats of five days for small groups of ten people, so if you feel drawn to my project and you work on the topics of sustainable food, shelter and well-being, you can connect with me on here to see if we can make something happen. My project surpasses my individual needs, and in the big picture there’s a lot more exciting work in progress, which you can read about on my website. I’d like to connect with highly talented individuals in the field of design, architecture, media, film, carpentry and engineering, and to use our talents and creative skills to build dreams towards a sustainable future for all. Until the end of this month, I’m offering the opportunity for a few lucky people to stay in my beloved Birdhouse for a week this year. In exchange for your donation, I welcome you here to experience paradise life yourself and you will contribute to a more sustainable future for all at the same time. Through this, I would love to meet some kindred spirits, and share in the abundance of joy and natural beauty that I experience here every day, while enjoying a glass of port and a home cooked organic meal. Because I’ve already received so many generous donations and because the rest of the year I’m very much occupied with work for the project, I only have five more weeks available this year, so if you want to treat yourself with sunshine, natural beauty and dreams in a Treehouse, I kindly ask you to book your week for this year here.
I’d like to connect with highly talented individuals in the field of design, architecture, media, film, carpentry and engineering, and to use our talents and creative skills to build dreams towards a sustainable future for all.
Thank you Lynn! I can’t wait to come visit you sometime this year.
Learn more on Lynn’s website, A Vida Fausto and support her project here.
Photos by Amie at Style & Still