Chapter 13: Your Joy is Your Responsibility

January 12, 2019

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. Happy Saturday to you, my sweet reader. Ooh, if I could give you a warm hug right now.. I would. As I type this, love is pulsing through my veins. Why? Because I am experiencing the benefit of nourishing my heart. Because I am prioritizing self-love and showing up for myself in ways I have dreamed of in the past. That’s why. Now my question for you is: what action are you taking TODAY to nourish your heart?

I am a few hours away from picking my daughter up and spending time with her for the next 6 days. If you remember a few newsletters ago, around the holidays, I was drowning in motherhood. I didn’t prepare for my long week with Rayne, and therefore, I suffered. I take full responsibility for this, too. I was the cause of my suffering. Yikes. Well, I am about to do another solid chunk of time with her and I am so inspired, so motivated, to self-love-the-fuck out of myself during. I woke up this morning and asked myself, “what would make me feel good today?” and three things came up instantly: movement, writing, and seated meditation. I went to ecstatic dance this morning and my experience was…pure-fucking-joy. I cried halfway through my dance because I was feeling so much joy. Not because of anything materialistic, either. I wasn’t thinking, “I have this, therefore I am joyful.” I was experiencing joy because of where I was putting my focus. I was experiencing joy because I was moving my body
with community. I was experiencing joy because I was choosing gratitude. I was experiencing joy because I was focused on what I have; The abundance in my life. I was experiencing joy because I was choosing self-love over self-sabotage and FEELING the benefits of that choice.

Each day, I have roughly 15 hours awake. That means, I have 15 hours to show up for myself in some way. Whether I am with my daughter or alone, the hours don’t change. What can change though, is my mental state. I can drop into a scarcity mindset or I can blossom from an abundant mindset. I can drop into fear or I can radiate from my heart. I can make decisions as a victim or I can make decisions as my powerful inner wise woman.

I always have a choice and so do you.

I made a decision to take my seated meditation practice to the next level. We are twelve days into this new year and I have sat silently in meditation each day. This past Thursday was an extremely busy day for me. I was working on my FINAL edits for my book and was deep in my creative flow. I then had to pick my daughter up from school and the rest of my afternoon and evening was stacked with commitments. I arrived to a restaurant where I was meeting a dear friend. She just so happened to be running behind and I realized that I hadn’t sat in meditation yet and probably wouldn’t have much more space before bed to get it in. I had twenty minutes before my friend would arrive and I was sitting in the drivers seat of my car. It was around 6:30pm, so it was totally dark outside. I set an alarm on my phone, sat as tall as I could in my seat, and closed my eyes. Let me tell you, as bizarre as that context may have been, I dropped the fuck into that meditation. Like, I went deep.

The point of me sharing this story?
I took what life was offering me and gave myself exactly what I needed, despite the circumstances.

So my sweet friend,
What would it be like to let go of our expectations and our stories, and to take what life is offering us, and create what we need in that moment?
What would it be like to stay in our power rather than drop into our victimhood?
What would it be like to show up for ourselves even when life is inconvenient and less-than-perfect?

Questions I am contemplating in my life.
Questions I encourage you to contemplate in yours.

Show up for yourself today. You won’t regret it.
I love you.

With Gratitude,
Bree

Chapter 12: Closing My Chapter As A Yoga Teacher

January 4th, 2019

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to you. Happy new year and welcome to 2019. We are four days into this year and I hope whatever has showed up for you thus far… you are saying hello and welcoming it in with an open mind and heart. Before dropping into the story let’s take a moment to pause and check in. How is your heart today? Close your eyes, ask that question, see what comes up. My heart feels warm, happy, and inspired in this moment.

This morning, I taught my final yoga class. Curious why? I was hoping so. Let’s dive in.

Earlier in 2018, I made a huge change to my teaching schedule. I transitioned from working evenings to working only mornings and early afternoons. This was something I wanted to do for awhile but had to get my ducks in order first. I’ve literally never used that phrase before. Anyways, I wanted my evenings to be open for motherhood and to preserve my energy. Little did I know at the time, I was also subconsciously being guided by my inner wise woman. I went from teaching and subbing a handful of yoga classes every week to teaching just one and turning down most sub requests that would come my way. A few months into my new teaching schedule and I found myself craving to teach my Friday morning yoga class. The space, the students, and the opportunity to speak and teach my truth was such a unique part of my schedule as I was mostly doing 1-on-1 personal training at the time. As many of you know, 2018 was a huge year of growth for me. Through my writings, teachings, dancing, meditation, and
emotional-healing work — I was able to peel off layers and masks that no longer served me; That limited me. You also may know that I made a lot of changes in 2018.

So at the beginning of December, I got the call. The call was from my inner wise woman, my intuition, my heart. The call summed up was
“It is time for your teaching to evolve. Close your chapter teaching yoga and make space for what’s to come.” You can imagine my reaction. “What the actual fuck? Why? What’s coming?”
Perhaps needless to say, I didn’t get an answer at the moment. Instead, I held onto it until one evening I was out walking with a dear friend of mine and yelled “I don’t want to teach yoga anymore!”
We both stopped in our tracks and looked at each other.
Silence. Sensations.
Woah.

From there, I started to act and make moves. I reached out to both studios that I am employed for and shared that in a few weeks time I will be done teaching Hatha Yoga. To my surprise, both owners received the news extremely well and came back with “ So what do you want to teach? Send me a proposal.”
Woah.
Did that just happen?
Did I just say what I desired and in return get rewarded?
Yep. I sure as hell did.

From there, I dropped into content and proposal writing. This is something I have never done before but just like my book, it flowed out of me naturally. Like it was always living inside of me but waiting for the right amount of space to release. I sent off my proposals and patiently waited for responses — fully accepting that this could go both ways. I could get a yes or I could get a no. It didn’t matter the outcome. All that mattered was that I was listening to my heart.

So fast forward to this morning. I taught my final Hatha yoga class and announced that I will be teaching a new style as of next week. So what is this new style?

“This class is inspired by many different movement and healing practices that all encourage the same thing: connection. Bree describes this class as a hybrid of seated meditation, movement, and emotional-healing. She is taking her ten years of experience in the movement and holistic health industry and creating one class. Students can expect to get connected, confronted, and challenged.”

The writer in me doesn’t want to give you much more than that as I love building anticipation. To learn more, you’ll just have to show up and trust the fucking hell out of me.

Movement, meditation, and emotional-healing.
Merging and become one.
What would that be like?
Stay tuned to find out.

With Gratitude,
Bree

Chapter 11: Aggression is not strength

December 31st, 2018

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to you. My hope is that wherever you may be in this moment, you are feeling ease. Like allowing the space between your eyebrows to soften, letting your jaw release, and allowing your breath to flow deeply into your belly. Three small reminders that can make a huge difference in our energy field. And for those of you who are navigating something challenging right now and are not at ease, I hope you trust that the challenge will come to a closing; The cycle will end. Just like the cycle that was 2018. We are in the final day of this year and it is about to close out, for good.

For me, this year has been tough. I have recently described it as a never-ending hike up a mountain. I have felt like I have been climbing for 365 days. Some days, I make a lot of progress and get higher. Some days, I misplace my foot and slip back down to a part of the mountain I already navigated but clearly needed to experience again. Some days, I pause and take in the view and marinate in gratitude. But if I am being honest, I have been waiting for a break. A break in the climb. A break in the storm. A break from the intense physical, emotional, and mental work that has been asked of me this year. What is interesting though, is as I type this from a very peaceful state, I wouldn’t have wanted 2018 to look any different. Interesting, right? However, if you asked me a few days ago or even yesterday morning, I would have told you to call in a helicopter because I am fucking done with this climb.
Let me give you some context.

I am a single mother to a 3 year old. That could be enough context but I’ll keep going. Her name is Rayne, for those of you just joining us. Rayne has had cold symptoms for a few weeks now that always seem to be worse when with me. Go figure. Rayne’s father and I are coparents and every week is split up pretty equally. Typically we go 3.5 days on and 3.5 days off. For me, it is the perfect amount of time to recharge. Rayne’s father is originally from Massachusetts and booked a trip home for the holidays for a week. I have known about this trip for awhile and had fully accepted that Rayne and I would be together for 8 days straight, without any break. Now, I have gone much longer without breaks in the past but I was not internally thriving at that time. I was fronting to be a stoic-single-mom-that-didn’t-need-any-support. I don’t play that game anymore. Over the years, I have learned to ask for support, receive support, and prioritize myself…first.

Back to the story.
So not only is Rayne sick (violently coughing, sneezing, congested) but we are with each other all day every day for 8 days. EIGHT DAYS. May as well been an entire fucking year.

I can be really dramatic by the way, I’m not totally convinced my time in theater is done.

Our time together was a bit unusual because of the holidays. Her preschool was closed and my work schedule was light. This meant that we actually spent every moment together. Be it your dog, life partner, or child — we need fucking space. Not only do we NEED space but we deserve space. Giving myself space from my duty as a mother has been a challenge to drop into over the years. I assumed if I was away, I wasn’t being a good mother. But in fact, it has been just the opposite. When I am away (and creating space for myself), I show up as a kick ass-love warrior-mother.

When I show up for myself with love, I can show up for my daughter with love.

Now, we hadn’t gone a week together like this in awhile so I had forgotten what it was like. I had forgotten to make time for myself. I had forgotten to ask for ample support. Instead, I let myself sink. Each day that that went by, I sank a little lower into my victimhood. I woke up frustrated and irritated that I had to tend to a sick child and that would set the tone for the day. I would attempt to change up the energy but nothing seemed to work. Then we had a few consecutive nights of bad sleep. Let me let you in on a little secret of mine: when I don’t sleep, my monster surfaces. I don’t say that as a joke either. My inner-monster, which is essentially made up of my shadows, takes over. The less love I give myself, the more fuel my monster is given. My inner-monster is negative, angry, aggressive, and short-fused. The tiniest trigger can set this side of me off. To be honest, it is scary. It is a side of myself that I met for the first time a few months into motherhood, when I was
sleep-deprived, poorly nourished, and alone. Some use the term “post-partum depression” but I think after almost 4-years of mothering, it is deserves a new title.

So yeah, this side of me came out this past week. Full throttle.

The piece of all of this story that am wanting to focus in on though is: aggression. I remember myself to always have been aggressive. I have met aggression with aggression. I never surrendered to it. I didn’t express aggression through physicality though, I actually expressed it through words. I believe the term is “passive-aggressive” and If I had a dollar for every time someone has labeled me that way in my life, I’d be fucking rich.
I use to harm others with my potent words and body language. I can’t remember the exact timing but I was around the age of 21 when I decided to shift out of this way of being. I had started meeting and working with what I would describe as conscious humans and that inspired me to evolve.

This aggressive way of showing up in the world didn’t stop overnight. It has been a practice to become aware of my aggressive projections to then attempt and rewire them.

So yesterday morning, Rayne went off to her fathers house. I went to dance. I laid down on the dance floor in fetal position as a gentle instrumental piano song played in the background. My eyes were closed and I started some inner dialogue with my inner wise woman.

Where does this aggression come from?
Silence.
WHERE DOES THIS AGGRESSION COME FROM?
Silence.
Take me back to my earliest memory of aggression.
Silence.
PLEASE take me back to my earliest memory of aggression.
A jarring memory then comes through and my entire body reacts.
A memory I didn’t want to see.
A memory I didn’t want to feel.
A memory I didn’t want to be true.
Tears flowed down my face as my body quivered and moved into this memory.

And after a moment I asked:
Why me?
Why did this happen?
Why was she so aggressive to me?
Was I that challenging?

The words that followed were:
To make you strong, Bree.

In that moment I understood. I accepted the answer to the question I have been asking for most of my adulthood. My history and story around aggression ends with me. I am no longer interested in meeting aggression with aggression. I am inspired to keep climbing this fucking mountain if it means Rayne will grow up NEVER having to ask those same questions I asked myself yesterday morning. I am inspired to surrender and soften when my inner-monster wants to act out aggressively. I am inspired to continue to make space for myself and stay connected. I am inspired to be the best version of Bree that I can possibly be.

Aggression is not strength.

With that, I will close this chapter and this year.
Thank you for being here.
I look forward to 2019 and all it brings.

With Gratitude,
BG

Chapter 9: Abundance

December 16th, 2018

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to you. I hope this email finds you with support around your spine, a strong back, and an open heart. I hope your are asking yourself what you need daily and taking good care of those needs this winter. As for me, I have felt under-the-weather the last few days. I have had cold symptoms. I have felt quiet. I have felt observant. This morning, I feel rested and ready to share some words.
Let’s drop in.

Yesterday was an extremely productive day for me, despite my energy levels feeling a bit low. I spent most of my morning working on my book and taking the appropriate steps to keep moving forward. I quickly realized that I needed support around these steps; I couldn’t do it alone. I had two beautiful, powerful, women in mind and I reached out to both. One for new headshots and the other for designing my book cover. Within the day, both had gotten back to me and said yes.
Boom. Remember this.
Eventually I got to a point where I needed to take a break from my laptop and leave my house. I headed to the grocery store. Quick tangent: Any other parent get so much satisfaction going to the grocery store alone? Woah. It’s like a walking meditation.
Back to the story.
I was moving pretty slowly as I was grocery shopping. I went down every aisle, twice, and looked closely at prices to find the most financially friendly option. I haven’t always operated this way but if you read my newsletter a few weeks back, you know I am currently rewiring my relationship with money. Anyways, I arrived to the nut butter section. You know, the peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter section. I was specifically looking for almond butter and completely astonished by prices.
$21 for 12 ounces of almond butter?
Do people seriously grab for that option?
Are those almonds blessed by shamans?
I had my little moment and then grabbed for the smallest and cheapest option. I then walked over to the bulk section to see what the price difference was there.
$17.99 for a pound of almond butter. I looked at the plastic containers and wondered how much almond butter would fit in it and how much weight it would be if it was completely full. I could have walked away at this point but remember, I was kid-free and super motivated to find the friendliest financial option.
(And yes, if you are wondering, this entire story is about almond butter and we are only about half way through. Grab some popcorn.)

Instead of walking away, I spotted the closest employee and asked him for some help.
Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi, I could probably figure this out on my own but I feel like asking for help.
Him: Great. How can I help?
Me: I am curious how much almond butter can fit into this plastic container, do you know?
Him: I actually don’t. Let’s try it out.
Me: But wait! I don’t want to pay for a pound of almond butter. I simply want to compare the price to this other almond butter jar and see which choice makes most sense.
Him: How about this, let’s fill this entire thing up and see if it costs more than your other jar. I don’t think it will but if it does, I’ll cut you a deal.
Me: Okay. Has anyone ever asked about this before?
Him: No, and now I am also curious so this is good for the both of us.

He filled the entire container up and then weighed it. It was just over a pound which means it was roughly $20 of almond butter. We both were shocked.

Him: Wow. That surprises me. I will match the price of your other jar and give this entire thing to you.
Me: Woah. Are you sure? I can just buy the other jar.
Him: Very sure. I’ll hold onto this until you are ready to check out.

I grab a few other items and run into this employee again as he is writing something on top of the lid.

Him: My shift just ended and I have to get to a massage now. You are all taken care of, just tell the cashier at check out.

I look down at the lid and there, written in ink is: paid. I look back up at him with confusion.

Him: It’s taken care of. It’s yours. It was nice to meet you.

As he walks away, I am still standing there in disbelief. Did I just get $20 of almond butter, for free? And why? I was so willing to pay? And in that moment the universe sent me a message.
She said, ask for support, receive abundance.

If I ask for support, I receive abundance.
I asked a friend to help me with new headshots. She said yes.
I asked a friend to help me with my book cover. She said yes.
I asked an employee at new leaf to help me find the friendliest priced almond butter. He said yes.

Abundance.
Abundance.
Abundance.

We cannot do everything alone. We can certainly try, but we will likely find ourselves feeling stagnant, exhausted, and frustrated. I tend to take on everything I do with the mindset of: I have to do it by myself or I am not successful or worthy. Icky self-sabotaging mindset. Scarcity mindset. A mindset I am learning to rewire. Yesterday was a beautiful example of what abundance feels like. Yesterday’s interactions inspire me to ask for support, more often. Yesterday I felt stagnant, exhausted, and frustrated, and then three angels appeared as soon as I gave myself permission to be supported.
Woah.

My dearest reader, I want to encourage you to ask for support. Whether it is from someone you love dearly or a stranger nearby. Ask for support.
Whether it is because you can’t push a cart full of groceries and carry a clingy toddler back to your car simultaneously or because you want to find the cheapest option of almond butter.
Ask for support.
Not only do I encourage you to ask for support but I also want to encourage you to receive it.
Ask for support.
Receive that support.
Marinate in the abundance.
You are so fucking deserving of that.

With gratitude,
Bree Irene Gwinner

Chapter 7: Transitions

December 1, 2018
Chapter 7: Transitions

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. I hope your belly is full. I hope your feet are warm. I hope your mind is at rest. Happy December to you, my dearest reader. As we transition into the final month of this year, I find myself to be calm, quiet, and internal. My heart is warm. My mind is at peace. My body is at rest. All is quiet around me. The only sounds I hear are my fingers tapping on my laptop and the ocean in the distance. I just closed my eyes and took in a deep belly breath to really appreciate what I have just typed. Had you told me this is where I would be today, one year ago, I would have been perplexed.

One year ago at this time my life looked quite different. I was newly single. Heartbroken and devastated at that. I was crying a lot and entirely depleted by recent events. I lived in an one bedroom apartment with my daughter. I lived in my hometown. I had just began writing and ecstatic dancing. I also had fringe bangs. Did I paint you a sweet picture or what?
And now?
I have been single for over a year. My heart is happy and alive. I still cry a lot and have totally embraced that form of healing. I have been living with friends for 3-months in their detached cottage bedroom in Santa Cruz. I am moving into a new place in a couple of days. I have completed my book and am in the final stages before self-publishing. I have ecstatic danced every week, multiple times a week, for over a year now. I have super curly hair that I refer to as my lion mane. How about that visual?
Different. Very, very, different.

If I had to choose three words to describe this year I would choose: transition, authenticity, and death.

Let’s shine light on transition, as that is what is most alive for me. This year has been full of them. I transitioned out of a relationship, I transitioned into being on my own again, I transitioned out of a work schedule that was depleting me and into one that was nourishing me, I transitioned from casually journaling to actively writing my book, I transitioned back into dating, I transitioned away from dating and explored autonomy and my relationship with self, I transitioned my home into a storage unit, I transitioned into a new city, and as mentioned above, in just a few days times, I will transition, once again, into a new home.
Whew. Yeah, a lot of movement. Internal and external. Which is precisely why I committed to a meditation practice earlier this year. It was the only time my life felt fucking still.
Something I have learned about transitions is that they can be really beautiful, especially if you really give yourself permission to be in it. There can be a lot of uncertainty in transitions and I have found that welcoming the uncertainty, rather than fearing it, makes transitions that much more beautiful. Like, “okay, I don’t know how the fuck this will turn out but I’m going to fully fucking marinate in this mystery and stay curious.”
Something I encourage often, in both my meditation and yoga classes, is to pause and be in the transition.
For example, as you slowly reawaken from savasana at the end of your yoga practice and roll to your side in fetal position.
Pause.
When you come back to your body, after sitting quietly in meditation for twenty minutes.
Pause.
As I sit on my bed, writing this newsletter, just two days before another move.
I pause.
I welcome the transition.
I give myself permission to be in it.
I stay curious.
I trust the mystery that is my life.
I trust what is aligning with me.

So, my dearest reader, I wonder if you are transitioning right now too? Or perhaps you have just moved through a transition and are settling. Grounding. Rooting. Wherever you may be on your path right now, let’s make a few promises to each other. Let’s promise to be gentle with ourselves while we navigate our life path. Let’s allow ourselves to pause in the moments that challenge us, but also very much the moments that are joyful. Let’s close our eyes and take deep breaths more frequently, to bring us into the present moment. Let’s embrace the unknown, rather, let’s open our arms and hearts to it. And as the days get shorter, and the darkness surrounds us, let’s keep coming together to remind each other of our light.
That sounds good to me.
Real fucking good.

Thank you for being here.
I love you a lot.

With Gratitude,
Bree Gwinner

Chapter 6: Gratitude practice

November 24th 2018
Chapter 6: Gratitude practice

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to you. Wherever you may be in this moment, I hope your breath is present, is full, and is nourishing you. I hope you are taking good care of your self this weekend. I hope your heart is warm.

I had a challenging week with my daughter, mostly physical, but my mind and heart were very much challenged too. Here was the combination: single mother + sick child + poor sleep + work schedule + no extra set of hands to help/relieve = the last five days of my life. I have been here before, many of times, and each time feels like the first. Weeks like that ask everything of me. Every-fucking-thing. Weeks like that wreck me. Weeks like that also strengthen me, though I don’t recognize this until after the storm has passed.

I woke up Friday morning feeling terrible; We had our hardest night of sleep yet. I had an alarm set because I had to teach a yoga class that morning. My head was pounding, my throat was aching, and my mood was: frustrated as fuck. I peeled myself out of bed and began my morning. Something about a morning routine is so special to me. Brushing my teeth, washing my face, making a warm beverage, and sitting down to write, puts me in a pretty sweet space. Even after an icky night of sleep. I pulled out my gratitude journal and stared blankly at the pages. I had no fucking clue what to write because truthfully, I wasn’t feely ooey-gooey-positively-grateful in that moment. I was feeling frustrated and totally dropped in to my victimhood. Then I had a thought, “what if all of my current frustrations were blessings?” and I sat with that for another moment. What if I wrote down everything that was frustrating me in my gratitude journal and looked at it with a different lens? So I gave it a try. A
few things I wrote down were: single motherhood, poor sleep, coparenting, my financial situation, and lack of alone time this week. I then read everything aloud and placed “I am grateful for..” before. Then I laughed because who the fuck was I trying to kid? Am I really grateful for this stuff right now? I paused. I closed my eyes. I remembered the last time I felt this shitty. I remember growing from last time. I came back to this moment, opened my eyes, and thought “yeah, I am grateful for these frustrations” because they are what encourage me to expand. They are what motivate me to grow. They are what inspire me to be the best version of myself. I closed my gratitude journal and headed out to teach my class.

I can recall the time in my life where I wanted to start a gratitude practice. I was a newly certified yoga teacher and had been teaching for just a few months at this point. I was hearing the word ‘Gratitude’ often within the yoga/mindfulness community. Though I knew what the definition was, I remember not knowing how to practice it. We as humans can speak something our entire life without ever truly embodying and living it. I found myself perplexed in that way.

It was October in 2014 and I was about 5 months pregnant. I decided to take a solo trip to Portland for the first time. It was my ‘babymoon’ in a way; My last adventure by myself before my child would arrive earth side. I had never been before and didn’t have any friends in the area so I heavily relied on blogs and yelp to navigate the town. I used buses and trains to get around and spent much of my time walking quietly in the crispy Oregon weather. I stumbled into a large bookstore downtown one day. One of the first books I saw on display was titled “Rain, Reign” with an illustration of a little girl running in the rain. This felt serendipitous because I would later name my daughter Rayne (which was inspired by Bali’s mystical rain/sun storms.) I continued on and pretty much walked down every aisle for the next two hours. I fucking love bookstores and this was the ultimate experience. I eventually stumbled upon a section of journals. I picked out a small bright green gratitude journal.
Scanned through a few of the pages and purchased it within minutes. That was the only thing I bought at the store that day. That was the day I began my gratitude practice.

Fast forward to the present and I have filled two of those journals and am currently on my third. In hindsight, It was the beginning of my writing practice. It initiated my writing flow. It is perhaps the reason this newsletter is even a real thing.

I remember it wasn’t easy at first. Creating and maintaining a gratitude practice, that is. It took me weeks, maybe months, to create a consistent practice. Then at some point it became a part of my morning routine, and when I was away from it, I missed it. It became such a meaningful part of my day that I began applying it in other areas of my life because that felt good. I started signing my emails with it, speaking it aloud, and practicing silently in my mind when I was out experiencing life’s offerings. At some point, it took over. It became a part of me. I had reached a point where I was literally embodying Gratitude. I have photographic memories from my past that I can travel back to in an instant if I close my eyes, all because I remember the sensation of gratitude in those moments. To be clear, expressing and embodying and feeling gratitude does not always imply experiencing peace. In fact, some of the most challenging times in my life is when I tend to practice gratitude the most.

Practicing gratitude is more than a word; A definition.
It is a lens. It is a perspective. It is a choice. It is a way to show up. It is an embodiment. It is a practice.
A lifelong practice at that.

Some days, I have to complain and write down everything I am frustrated with to recognize and uncover what I am actually grateful for. Some days, I forget to sit down and write in my journal because I choose to be busy instead. Some days, I act a damn fool like the white privileged woman that I am and show very little gratitude to for my life. Some days, I am grateful as fucking hell and others I slip deep into my wounded child and throw a tantrum because I didn’t get my way.
It is a practice.
A lifelong, fucking, practice.

Want to be grateful? Start your practice.
It may not feel genuine at first. It didn’t for me.
Remember when you were a baby and were learning to walk for the first time? Then you fell 97,000 times? And even now, as a grown ass adult, you fucking fall?
Nothing happens overnight.
Just start to practice.
See what happens.

I love you.

With Gratitude,
Bree Irene Gwinner

Chapter 5: Embody your truth

November 17th, 2018
Chapter 5: Embody your truth

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to you. I hope these words find you and feel like a really good hug. One of those hugs where the other person fits perfectly into your nooks and nuzzles in for a few big breaths. Where you don’t need to be anywhere else in that moment except in that hug. I hope you are allowing yourself the rest you deserve in this transition to winter. And above all things, I hope you are at peace.

When my daughter and I moved to Santa Cruz at the end of August, our lives inevitably shifted. One thing I knew I wanted to find for her was a gymnastics program, as she had been in one for a couple years prior to our move. To my luck, I found a small local gymnastics school just a few doors down from where I participate in ecstatic dancing each week. Upon signing her up, I learned that there was also weekly adult classes. This is something I had been wanting to do for years, as I have a background in gymnastics, and have always dreamed to get back into it. I signed us both up. About two months into my classes, I was trying a new movement out, and triggered my right shoulder*.

*My right shoulder has a lot of history with injury and discomfort. I was a volleyball player growing up, naturally quite mobile, and dislocated it a handful of times. The last time I dislocated my shoulder playing volleyball was in college. I remember laying on the floor thinking, “this is it, I’ve got to stop playing.” That injury changed the course of my life because for the first time, perhaps in my entire existence, I had to slow down. I had to change my lifestyle. How I was moving my body. How I was eating. How I was recovering. How I was thinking. I had to prioritize my wellbeing before anything else. This was all happening around the age of 20 or 21. I worked with a holistic exercise coach three times a week and spent thousands of dollars on that injury. Priorities. It took me two years to fully heal my shoulder.

Ever since healing my shoulder, I have chosen to keep my movement simple, clean, and safe. I have also carried that into how I train private clients and teach my classes. So when I triggered my shoulder a few weeks back, I instantly shifted and began to prioritize once again. I am taking a break from my weekly gymnastics classes and to my luck, the instructor of that class has offered to work 1-on-1 with me during Rayne’s classes to help me with my stability. This past Wednesday we were working together and I shared that I have been training and coaching for ten years. She then shared that was something she’d like to get into and asked, “what is one piece of advice you would give to me based on your experience as a coach and trainer?” I paused. I let the question marinate for a moment. Then responded with something like, “Stay true to who you are. Keep showing up as Sybil and ALLOW your past, everything you have ever experienced, to inspire you. When you attend a new course, certification,
or workshop, remember who you are. Even if what you are learning sounds like the secret to life, remember who you are. There will be people who tell you to be a certain way. To feel a certain way. To move this like this. To breathe like this. Try not to attach to what anyone says. Let it inspire you while staying rooted in who you are. The most success I have ever found as a coach is when I have showed up as myself and embodied what I was teaching.”

It felt really sweet to answer her question. It felt really sweet to reflect on the last ten years. I appreciate questions like that; The ones that really ask you to check in with self and answer honestly. I gave her the advice that I wish I received when I started exploring the movement industry. This leads to my next story: when I interned out in Massachusetts.

I think I say this a lot, but, that internship ALSO changed the course of my life. I say that because when unexpected life events happen, our life path inevitably changes. I have had many ideas of how I thought my life would unravel. I thought I would go out to Boston, intern at the best strength and conditioning facility in the united states, and then get offered a job to work with professional athletes. Instead? I went out to Boston. I had an icky experience as an intern. I was treated like shit by the underpaid, poorly-rested, deeply unhappy employees. I met a man that would later become my daughters’ father. I left my internship early because of the toxic environment. I drove from Boston to San Francisco, alone. A month later after arriving back in San Francisco, I flew out to Bali, newly pregnant, to begin a month immersion in a yoga teacher training. You see? Life unraveled differently. Much differently that I thought. The reason I share this is because when I told Sybil to “stay
true to who you are,” I had wished that someone constantly reminded me of that over these last ten years.

It took me a long time to unapologetically accept who I am. It took me a long time to show up as Bree, without any shame. It took me years of faking to show up authentically.

We have got to stay true to who we are, even when it threatens someone else.
We have got to show up as ourself, even if we stand alone.
We have got to speak our truth, even when it is uncomfortable.
We have got to embody what we feel, even if it is scary.
We have got to let our light shine, even if it is too bright for others.

My dearest reader,
We need you, to be you.
No other light exists in this world and,

we need your light.

Please keep shining,
even when the world screams for you to dim.
You were not meant to be dim.
You were meant

to fucking glow.

With Gratitude,
Bree Irene Gwinner