Chapter 4: Leaning into discomfort

November 10th, 2018

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to you. I hope these words find you exactly where you need to be in this moment. I hope wherever you are right now, you have a roof over your head, you are warm, and you have reason to be grateful.

It is 7:09AM and I am sitting on my bed, in my cozy bedroom, with a warm cup of coffee at my side. The sky is ashy and hazy from the current California wildfire, and though there are devastating things happening in the world right now, all feels calm in this moment and I am grateful to experience that. And to each and every person who has been impacted by wildfires this year, I send my breath. I close my eyes, I breathe into my heart and feel it expand, and I exhale my love outwardly. It’s not much; It certainly won’t repair the damage that’s been done, but it is something. And I hope that when you and I experience our next suffering, there are others somewhere in the world breathing into their hearts and sending us love. We are in this together, right? Even when our sufferings make us believe we are alone. We are not.

Just over a year ago I began writing. It is as if twenty-seven years of words stored in my mind, my body, and my heart, really needed to evacuate. I never thought of myself as a writer because in school I was terrible at “writing.” My essays were total crap, mostly because I had no interest in the given topic. I remember thinking that the structure of an essay was such a waste of time. The formatting, the references, the weird-neutral narrator without any personality. Then I’d turn it in, knowing how little effort I spent on it, just to receive it back with a bunch of negative unhelpful feedback. “Hey, you aren’t interested in this? Great, let me rip you a new one and not offer any support.” Perhaps needless to say, It felt like such a waste of time and I’m not sure I transferred those skills over to adulthood. You know what I wish I learned more about? Finances. How to budget. How to have a harmonious relationship with money. How to follow your hearts calling in life and also make money.
How to take care of your self when financials stress you out. How getting a credit card has pros and cons. How to navigate debt from educational institutions. How to live the life you desire to live without finances shitting all over you. How to be a balanced, kind, humble human, with financial abundance. How to navigate the finances of unexpected life events, such as single parenting or life-threatening disease, on a single-income.
You know, stuff like that. That is what we should have talked about. Could you imagine? You have two options in college. Financial education and mindfulness education. You learn how to navigate the system and then you learn how to navigate your self. Boom.

For most of my adulthood, I have had an inharmonious relationship with money. It didn’t cross my mind in college, because I was receiving financial aid and grants. It never occurred to me that I would have to look at all of that financial aid five years later and pay it back as if I had been quietly stashing thousands of dollars away between the ages of 18 and 22*.

*It took me 5 years to graduate college. I used to say it was because of budget cuts and limited classes at that time, which isn’t totally false, but it was also very much because I had to take Human Anatomy twice. The first time around, I essentially failed because I didn’t participate in the cutting of cadavers in lab. (They give you a choice to opt in or out, but essentially shame you for opting out) and lecture was boring for this fireball, so I was pretty much doomed. And in the spirit of being transparent, I also failed my political science class, because I live-streamed the Warriors game each time. I’m laughing now. Being honest is funny.

Okay, lets get back to the point here.

I was really lucky when it came to starting my career. I was freshly twenty-one and had just gotten hired to coach at a private high school in San Francisco. That opportunity really opened some beautiful doors for me. I ended up coaching at two private high schools over the course of five years. I even got the opportunity to create and implement a strength and conditioning program that I ran by my self. In addition to athletic coaching, I was also running a private personal training business out of a martial arts studio. At twenty-four, I found out I was pregnant. Path changer. A few weeks after I had my daughter Rayne, I was offered a full-time physical education job at a private school in San Francisco. A dream job, really.
I turned it down to move back to my hometown.
I chose to leave a career I had spent years manifesting and creating. I chose to shut down my private coaching business that was finally doing so-fucking-well.
I chose to start over because being closer to my mom and dad, as a new single mom, was the only thing that made sense.

This was three and a half years ago.

Financially, it’s been fucking rough.
I didn’t have a paid-maternity leave because I was self-employed nor did I have a partners’ income to rely on. I began motherhood with a few hundred dollars in my bank account that disappeared, very quickly. I opened a credit card because I had to. I maxed it out in the first year of motherhood on: diapers, wipes, gas, and groceries. I ate oatmeal for dinner more nights than I can count because I guilted myself for being broke. I believed I didn’t deserve anything more than that. I didn’t talk about my finances because it felt easier to avoid instead. I eventually accepted a full-time job at Facebook HQ that ran me into the fucking ground. I worked 40+ hours a week and would then race home to my breast-feeding infant. I hired a full-time nanny that essentially cost me just as much as I was making at Facebook. I racked up even more debt because again, I needed gas and groceries.
It was a brutal cycle. A cycle I felt stuck in for a long time. But, I eventually broke that cycle because my health was deteriorating. Literally, my jaw locked up and I couldn’t speak. This cycle led me to change my priorities. After leaving Facebook, my intention and priority moving forward was my wellbeing. I had to take care of myself, in order to genuinely take care of my daughter. I couldn’t let the fear of not-having-enough-money guide me any longer.

Today, my wellbeing, my immunity, my connection to self is stronger than it has ever been. Today, I still face financial sufferings. I am still paying off debt. I am still burdened by bay area rentals. I am still navigating self-employment as a single parent. But the difference? My innerverse is at peace. My mind, my heart, and my physical body are in harmony. And when they fall out of harmony, I know exactly how to respond. When my mind drops into the fear of finances, my inner wise woman always guides me back home; To my heart.

In the last week I have been really asked to look at my financial situation. I have experienced so much internal discomfort. Exhaustion. Anger. Sadness. Frustration. Hopelessness. Confusion.
But, my inner wise woman, she is loud at times like this. She doesn’t let this haziness take over anymore. She reminds me to come back to self. She reminds me to breathe. She reminds me to trust-the-fuck out of my lifes purpose. She reminds me that I don’t have to work jobs just to make money, rather, that I can do the work I know I am meant to do AND get compensated for it.

So, that’s where I’m at today, friends.
Acknowledging my sufferings but staying rooted in who I am.
Feeling the discomfort but not allowing it to guide me.
Meditating but also ACTING and getting shit done.
We can’t just meditate.
We can’t just do.
We’ve also go to ask for support.

So my dearest reader, I need help. I am asking for support around my finances. Someone to help me navigate the numbers. Someone who enjoys this sort of work. If you feel called, please respond directly to this newsletter. In return, I would love to offer you a private service of mine.*
*In case you didn’t know, I offer a few different private services. This is something I have always felt uncomfortable to share and promote but that sabotaging story ends here.
I offer Personal training, Yoga, Meditation, and Emotional Healing/Self-Sabotage Coaching. I currently have space to take on TWO new clients. If you feel curious, please reach out.

In the meantime, let’s lean into one another. Let’s ask one another for what we need. What we want. What we desire. What we long for. What works. What does not work.
Let us be in this together.
Let us get uncomfortable.
Let us fucking LEAN IN to one another.
You with me?

With so much gratitude,
Bree Irene Gwinner

Chapter 3: Emotional irresponsibility

November 3rd, 2018

Chapter 3: Emotional Irresponsibility

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening to you. I hope these words find you in a comfortable, cozy, and warm space. I hope your heart has been held recently. I hope you know you are worthy of joy.

For those still getting to know me here — I am a story teller. I love sharing personal stories, especially when the topic is so often ignored in society. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

One year ago today, I was on a two-week RV adventure with my former partner and my daughter. We drove from San Jose to Astoria, Oregon and then back down on the coast. We were a year and half into our partnership at this point and had been navigating some rough storms leading up to this trip. The trip started off with tension as we had a miscommunication a few days prior that never got loved, acknowledged, or resolved. The trip was a blend of light and dark. Joy and sorrow. Beginnings and endings. There is so much I could share about this trip, because it was so fucking dynamic, but what I want to acknowledge is the major theme that was present then: Emotional irresponsibility.

We spent most of that trip blaming one another. In fact, we spent a greater portion of our relationship blaming one another. More than not, our emotions, triggers, and experiences were blamed rather than owned. Essentially, we were two wounded children masking around as adults in a relationship. Yikes.

On November 3rd, I wrote my first poem in that RV after another fight. A fight about sex, or lack there of rather. Yep – I just told you that. I remember feeling terrified at the words that were coming through in that moment. I opened the notes app on my phone and began to type. I won’t share the poem here, because this will build anticipation, but just know that the first poem I ever wrote is what inspired me to write a book. That first poem changed the course of my life. That first poem is the first page of my first book. I finished my book just two days ago, one year after writing my that poem.

Two days after that poem was written, our partnership ended. In the most dramatic way, too. But I’ll spare you that story for now.

This break-up truly changed the course of my life. The amount of sadness and pain I felt the months following that is perhaps indescribable through words. I remember not wanting to move any part of my body. Crying more than I ever had in my entire adulthood. Watching movies all day every day to distract me from my discomfort. Avoiding meditation and asana because I was scared what would come up. Wondering when I would pick my self up again and attempt to move forward with my life.

About a week later I attended a Saturday morning yoga class with one of my favorite teachers who also happened to be my acupuncturist at the time. This was my first morning alone since the break-up as my daughter was at her fathers for the weekend. I don’t know where the motivation came from, I just new I needed to leave my apartment and attempt to nourish my heart.

About half way in to class, Bridget said the words “ecstatic dance.” I immediately made eyes with her like I had just heard the secret of life. I hadn’t heard that term in a long time, four years to be exact. The first time I experienced an ecstatic dance was in 2013 in Bali. I assumed it was just a Bali thing and never even thought to look it up once I got back in the states. As soon as the class ended, I jumped on google and searched for local ecstatic dances. To my surprise, they were EVERYWHERE in the bay area. I remember wanting to go as soon as I could and started looking at the closest cities and their offerings. There was a dance that evening in Santa Cruz and another the next morning in Oakland. I was convinced I would go to both but as the day moved along, and my energy started to drop, I decided my first ecstatic dance in four years would be a Sunday morning in Oakland. And oh, that dance. I will never forget how nervous and excited I felt to attend. I walked in, heart pounding out of my chest, and sat on the floor with my eyes closed. I felt so much adrenaline pumping through me, so much energy wanting to be moved, patiently waiting to be moved, sort of like my inner wise woman was freaking out with excitement, “Finally! You are here!”

I have danced every week since that day. In Oakland, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Santa Cruz. Each dance, getting me a little bit closer to my truest self; My most authentic self. Each dance encouraging me to move through stories, feelings, wounds, and sensations. Each dance connecting me with others, experiencing similar yet different things. Each dance reminding me that the ultimate healer in this life, is me.

Today, I claim to be emotionally aware and responsible. I have spent the last year connecting with my inner wise woman, navigating core childhood wounds, healing those wounds, and owning MY experiences. Have I fucked up a bit? Of course. Have I blamed the external along the way? I’m sure. But the difference now, in reflection to last year at this time, is that I am in my power. I am rooted in self. I fuck up and then I own the shit out of my fuck up. I take responsibility for my emotions. My actions. My choices. My stories. My projections. My wounds.

I take full responsibility for my happiness.

Today, I am really really happy.
Today, I am really really proud.
Today, I am really really in love.
With me.

And dear reader, as a reminder, in case you need one today, the pain will pass. The discomfort you may be experiencing now will move. The challenges you face will provide a lesson in time. But here’s the thing, there’s no timeline for this stuff. You have got to be patient with your self. Gentle. Loving.
You have got to honor the fucking hell out of your self and what you are going through. Trust me. Move into the discomfort. Dance around with the darkness.
The light will find its way back to you heart.
It always does.

With so much gratitude,
BG

Chapter 2: Inner dialogue

October 26th, 2018

Chapter 2: Inner Dialogue

One of my teachers of meditation, who I have studied with intimately over the years, always started his online talks with: good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. It always made me smile, mainly because he said it with a HUGE grin on his face followed by a giggle, and I think I am going to adopt it.

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to you. Wherever you may be while choosing to read this, I hope your heart feels nourished, feels warm, feels love.
I spent half of the morning with my daughter and since she left I have been tending to my heart. Honoring what my heart is needing and doing my best to give it just that. Writing and sharing through words makes my heart feel warm. So, thank you for being here.

I am going to get right into a story. Here we go.

On Tuesday morning, my daughter and I headed to the airport for our first trip to Disneyland. This trip had been booked for months and for whatever reason, I didn’t feel much excitement leading up. As a kid, this was the most magical and exciting trip I had ever been on so I felt a bit perplexed as to why I was so underwhelmed. There was only one way to find out and that was to simply experience it!
By the time we got there and settled into our room I noticed a shift in energy. I was excited to experience this with my daughter! I was excited for her to experience the magic that is Disneyland. She put on her sweet Belle dress and we headed out for an early dinner which yes, involved lots of characters! When she first saw Mickey Mouse, her entire being glowed as if a light literally turned on inside of her. She squealed and jumped around and ran to him for a big hug. It was so darling to witness.
The next day we went to the park. We were up at 6 AM on the dot and out until about 6:30 PM. The day went as perfectly as I hoped it would. The joy, the purity, the curiosity, and the presence that my daughter embodied was so special to witness. She had just a few challenging moments within the day that were triggers from being hot, tired, and wanting to be held. SAME.

Observing Rayne brought me so much joy, to the point of tears.

Then another type of observation presented itself.
I noticed that I was surrounded by couples and partnered families. They were in front of us, behind us, to the side of us. They were fucking everywhere. I observed myself as I observed everyone around me. All of the sudden, I began to feel sad. Loneliness was also presenting itself. Again, to the point of tears.
Then, I began a dialogue in my mind.
I wondered if every couple I saw was in love.
I wondered if the partnered families were happy.
I wondered if the kids knew if their parents were happy or not.
I wondered if their kids were happier because they had partnered parents.
I wondered if my co-parenting set-up was beneficial or sabotaging for Rayne’s emotional well-being.
I wondered if Rayne’s father would have more kids and if Rayne would be forgotten about, just as I experienced as a child with my mother.
I wondered if Rayne’s dad would love his nonexistent future kids more.
I wondered if the way I showed up as a parent would wound Rayne.
I wondered if I’d ever be partnered again.
I wondered, and wondered, and wondered. To the point of mental exhaustion. Until I felt entirely worthless and had sabotaged myself. Mind you, I’m walking around Disneyland park as this dialogue is happening. Needless to say, I likely wasn’t being very present, or was I?
Then another observation. I recognized that I was sabotaging myself and that my inner dialogue was entirely in my control. Should I continue with this sabotaging dialogue or should I choose a new one?
We headed back to our hotel room for lunch and a quick change. I asked my dad to take Rayne down into the lobby so I could meditate. I happened to pack some lavender essential oil so I lathered that on and took a seat. I sat for about 12 minutes. I checked in with my physical body, my mind, and my heart. I remember my body feeling strong, my mind feeling tired, and my heart feeling joyfulness and sadness simultaneously. I didn’t try to “fix” anything. I just observed and allowed everything I was feeling to be present. Even the loneliness.

Quick tangent: loneliness should not be linked to guilt or shame. If you feel lonely, SO BE IT, invite that shit in and let it be there. I am so over the negative dialogue around “being lonely.” If someone ever tries to invalidate you as you are feeling lonely, tell them to fuck off. As my mom says, I am passionate.

Back to my story…
Once I completed my meditation we headed back out to the park and I felt such a huge shift within me. Instead of dialoging in a sabotaging way I chose to dialogue in a powerful, expanding way. Instead of thinking about what I didn’t have, I chose to focus on what I did have. Instead of focusing on other family dynamics, I chose to focus on mine. Instead of being trapped in my mind, I chose to sink deep into my heart. Instead of closing up to the experience, I chose to open up.

My darlings, we have so much power.

Our inner harmony is entirely dependent on us.

We get to choose what nourishes us and what does not.

We also get to choose whether or not we attach to our thoughts or observe them.

What if we owned all of that power?
What if we took responsibility for everything we felt?
What if we gave ourselves permission to feel, without attaching some wild dialogue, that may or may not be true?
Is it possible?

My instinct says yes.
Keep connecting with self to find out.

With Gratitude,
Bree Irene Gwinner

Chapter 1: Presence

October 16th, 2018

Chapter 1: Presence 

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. I hope where ever this email finds you, you are experiencing some state of your natural being: of peace, of ease, of bliss.

You are receiving this email because you signed up for my newsletters and I would just like to say: Thank you. Thank you for choosing to be here. Thank you for choosing to connect with me. I am so grateful you are here.

I am currently sitting in a coffee shop, drinking an earl gray tea latte, while a sweet jazzy song plays in the background. The song was so sweet, I had to “shazam” it, which I guess is officially a word in my vocabulary. Check out “Lay Down” by Son Little for some chill af vibes.

Let’s catch up.
As some of you know, my daughter and I recently moved to Santa Cruz, CA. A month and a half ago our car was fully packed, our storage unit was full, and we were leaving our home of three years which just so happened to be my hometown. I didn’t have much clarity on where we would end up, I just knew deep in my heart it was time to move on.
Two friends of mine, one in Santa Cruz, one in San Francisco, opened their homes to us initially. The original plan was to stay with each for two weeks max, giving me 4-weeks to figure out what was next. It took a lot of practice to get to this point, but I was completely trusting of the universe at this time. I knew the stars would align and after a month of being hosted, I would know which direction to go.
Well, as life likes to have it, everything shifted in an unexpected yet beautiful way. Our friends here in Santa Cruz opened up their hearts and their home to my daughter and I for the remainder of this year, allowing us to settle for much longer than I had expected. I think I cried everyday for our first month. I have been entirely overwhelmed with gratitude and in disbelief that this is our reality. Let me paint you a picture of our current living situation…
Three adults, three kids under the age of 4, two dogs, and one toilet. YEP. Beautiful chaos as I like to say. Absolute, beautiful fucking chaos.
I don’t have any idea where we will be come December/January, but that doesn’t worry me. I am practicing being here right now, which leads me to my next story.

This theme has presented itself a lot over the last year in my life. The simple, yet extremely challenging practice of presence.
What would it be like to drop the chronic conceptualizing?
To not constantly have your next move figured out?
To simply just experience what life is offering?
What would it be like to just fucking be here without all the complexity?
We constantly hear, read, and say, ‘be present’ but honestly?
We, as humans, are fucking terrible at it.
We are doers.
Thinkers.

Conceptualizers.
Contemplators.
And while that is beautiful part of the human experience, it also makes me wonder: At what point do we let go of the DO and just BE?
That is where my curiosity currently lives. I am observing myself as I naturally begin to conceptualize and make sense of a situation, be it past or future. I am acknowledging my default pattern and then asking myself “do I really need to do this? Do I actually need an answer right now?”
What I am finding is that the answer is no. I don’t need to analyze this right now. I don’t need to plan out future dialogue or actions. I don’t need to constantly have answers and wise realizations.
I can just give myself permission to experience the mystery of life as I travel through it. Permission granted. And what a relief. To give myself permission to literally flow through life just as I flow through my dance practice. No choreography. No attachment to outcome. Just me and the mystery and my awareness of it all as I experience it.

Now my dear friend, I have some encouragement for you. Try this practice with your self, first. I encourage you to sit for a few moments with your eyes closed. Check in with your self. Observe your breath. Observe your physical body. Observe your mind. Observe your heart. What is currently present? What do you feel? Can you observe what is happening without any additional story-telling (i.e. “i feel this way because…”)? Can you observe what is happening without any judgement? Can you observe what is happening without analyzing, conceptualizing, or making sense of it? Can you just let what is present within you BE there? Is it possible?

Let me know. Share your experience with me. Share a story with me. Share a reflection with me. I am all ears (and eyes). This is a two-way connection.

Oh, and in case you needed this reminder, because often I too forget, you always have your breath. Your breath is your greatest tool. When you feel disconnected to this life, to your self, observe your breath. Re-connect with self through breath. Guide yourself back home. You always have that power.

With so much Gratitude,
Bree Irene Gwinner

Dancing With The Mystery Of Life.

Today is August 1st, 2018 and I feel like I have been patiently waiting for this day for quite some time. As of today, I have paid my final rent check and given my 30-day notice to move out of my apartment, where my daughter and I have lived for the last 2.5 years. I will be moving all of our belongings into a storage unit and the rest is pretty much unknown at this point.

Earlier this year, say January, I had a couple of somewhat clear messages come through via my meditations. The messages went something like this: “when your lease is up, you will move” and “write that fucking book.” Initially, those felt intense to receive. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where the fuck am I supposed to move and what the fuck will this book be about!?” I was perplexed. But I did what any good student of life would do, I wrote them down in my journal and invited them into my meditations and dances.

Fast forward to the present moment, the now, and my first book (yes, there are two alive within me) is almost complete and I will begin the manuscript process soon. Fucking wild. Next, I have two wonderful friends who have opened up their homes to my daughter and I and we will be floating around the bay area come August 30th.

What is still a bit unclear? Where we will root; where we will create our next home. For some reason, I feel entirely okay with this too. Yes, some days I am in the shower and think about the unknown and I sob uncontrollably. Most days though, I feel extremely excited for this new adventure. This opportunity to dance with the mystery of life.

This year has consistently presented a reoccurring theme for me. It has showed up in so many situations and contexts and people. The theme is this: Attach To Nothing & No One. Seems simple, right? Well, it fucking hasn’t been. It has tested me unlike ever before. I could give endless examples of this but instead I’ll just keep you curious.

Each and every emotional experience this year has led and prepared me for this next phase of my life.

I am
entering the unknown,
letting go of control,
trusting deeply,
staying curious,
remaining patient, 
maintaining individuality,
and loving fiercely.

I have no answers. I desire no answers.

I am being asked to dance with the mystery of my life and let my heart lead the way.

As Jack Kornfield so poetically phrases it, “are we going to let fear set the agenda for our hearts?”

I’m not and I hope you won’t either.

With Gratitude,
Bg

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Loving My Home; My Body.

For as long as I can remember I have mostly been seen for my body. My first memories were somewhere in between 6th-12th grade. Girlfriends would throw around comments such as, “ugh, you’re just so lucky, I hate you” and dude-friends would say something with either “ass” or “booty.” This was an every day ordeal for me. It didn’t matter what I wore, people were always feeling triggered and/or stimulated by my physical shell. At some point in high school, I began to hide my body. I wore sweatshirts around my waist (and got to deal with “grandma” comments from that point on), bras that kept my chest flat and contained, and loosely-fit shirts and dresses. When I received attention for my body moving forward, I eventually decided on a dialogue that made me reclaim my power which went something like this, “go fuck yourself.” If it was a dude, it was verbal, and if it was a chick, it was an internal thought. I also owned the identity of a “prude” because no way in hell was I letting a little horny boy touch this kingdom. I was shamed for having a dope body but I was also shamed for not letting men inside of it. High school is kind of like a bunch of toddlers running around in teenager bodies, projectile vomiting insecurities all over everyone else, based on their mommy-daddy-caretaker wounds. 

That was an impressionable time for me and I carried that attitude for years to come. My first boyfriend, who I first explored intimacy with, was in college. I was a “late-bloomer.” I don’t remember many details of our intimate time together, but I remember trusting the fucking hell out of him, and that was pretty incredible. Towards the end of our relationship, I had “little” sex drive and for the first time began to hear, “are you not attracted to me or something?” That was something I would hear for the next ten years. So naturally, I assumed I wasn’t a sexual-being, perhaps I was broken, questioned my sexuality, and then decided to keep distance from intimacy for awhile.

Day after day, week after week, year after year, I continued to be seen for my body. At this point, I was now working in the fitness industry and that shit is kind of unavoidable. But I kept doing my thing: wearing loose tanks, avoiding bikinis, and dressing-down whenever possible. It sort of worked but people still found a way to objectify me. It was rare to meet anyone, and I mean anyone close to my age, that would acknowledge that I had depth of any kind. I was so bored of my day to day exchanges and I desperately wanted connection. I remember always wanting to shout, “just talk to me about something that is REAL!”

Shortly before becoming a mother in 2015, I decided to take dramatic action and practice self-love in a new way. I cut off all of my hair and stopped wearing make-up. This was dramatic, yes, but holy hell did it help me begin to connect with my internal self and start the self-love relationship I had been dying to create my entire existence.

Fast forward to present day, and I am still finding myself rewiring this dialogue, narrative, pattern. Though I am mostly surrounding myself with people who want depth and connection, I still am constantly seen for my body. A recent exchange that I care to share was after an ecstatic dance. For those that don’t know, ecstatic dance is a mostly-conscious community of movers, dancers, and self-expressionists. It is the most wonderful movement community I have been a part of thus far. However, a recent exchange left me feeling frustrated as fuck. A woman, who I had just started dancing with, trusting, and opening up to, objectified me. She walked over to me and I immediately asked, “who are youuuu?” as I pulled her in for a hug. We exchanged names. She then said, “so what do you do?” and naive me said, “in life? well, I am a mother, I like to –” and she abruptly cut me off and said, “no, no, like for movement. you are so athletic, your body is so strong.”

I stopped. I stared. I thought, “are you FUCKING kidding me?” Nope. She wasn’t kidding. That’s truly all she wanted to know about me. How my physical shell was strong and athletic. At this point, I’m feeling triggered and sassy and say, “oh well I was a gymnast growing up.” Boom. That was it. That is all she wanted, and I knew that is all she wanted, because I have had thousands of exchanges just like that one. Both men and women just want to hear a few words about how I “so easily” got this body, and then they are gone with the wind.

I was so disappointed. I was disappointed in this new female friend, who I assumed was living consciously, to be so shallow. I was disappointed that I answered her shallow question with the words she wanted to hear, just so she could validate her motives.

It has been so exhausting to be seen for a body, and nothing more, for so many years. My shoulders and ass have gotten so much attention my entire life, that I have basically become immune to it all. I shut myself down from receiving at an early age. I carried a narrative that was something like, “if I receive, I’ll probably offend someone, so it’s best I don’t receive at all, to keep others cozy.” But this is a problem. This is an imbalance. This is avoidance.

When I shifted my career from fitness to heart-based work (yoga, meditation, emotional-healing), I noticed a big shift in my life. I noticed that more than not, students were seeing me for my heart. They were feeling my energy. They were connecting with my words. They didn’t give a damn about my body.

A few days ago a student who takes my class regularly came up to me after and said, “you look so joyful. You look so happy. I feel it. This makes me so happy. I am so happy for you.” I received it. I just stood there and received it. I hugged her. She hugged me. It was the exchange of a fucking lifetime. The exchange I always knew existed within me; Within this universe. The connection and depth I had been longing for my entire childhood.

You know what I call these types of humans? Light in human form. The light within her, saw the light within me. This is the meaning of “namaste” should you never have known.

Today, I am rewriting this narrative, still. I am practicing hiding my body less. I am practicing receiving, in all forms, superficial or deep. I am reminding myself that my physical shell is for me, and others may like what they see, but it is ultimately mine. I move for me, not for anyone else. I please me, for me. I am in a committed relationship with me.

Some still only see me for my shoulders and ass and others see me for my heart and my soul. My new narrative goes like this: my body is an extension of my heart and my hearts main function is to love. I am falling in love with my home; My body.

with gratitude,
bg

My Relationship With The Masculine.

In January of 2017 I reached out to an old coach and dear friend of mine to set up a phone call and discuss options for working together. I was struggling in my then partnership and was looking for some type of non-bias outlet and support. We quickly decided that ‘coaching calls’ would be the best fit as we live several hundred miles apart and have always had a hard time syncing up in person. This was about a year and a half ago and since then I have learned much about myself, where I operate from, and the childhood wounds that I have carried with me for twenty-eight years.

Emotional healing of any kind requires patience and a lot of fucking honor. Though I have been fully committed to healing old wounds for the last year and a half, I don’t really have any control over when I will actually be healed. Only time does. It can sometimes feel like you are constantly discovering new information about yourself, you are then unsure if you will ever truly be able to piece it all together and fully heal. This work pushes you to your edge, then a bit further than your edge, then asks you to be patient and honor the fuck out of your edge. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

It wasn’t until my former partnership officially ended in November of 2017 did I start to piece together my true relationship with the masculine. When I say “the masculine” I am referring to: my relationship with my father, my romantic relationships with men, and my embodiment of masculine energy (I am a fiery-aries female).

There was a defining moment a few months ago that stopped me in my tracks. Literally. The entire world went quiet and it was as if two missing puzzle pieces connected and the picture was so clear, for the first time. It was a sunny day, I had just finished dancing in Oakland, and was walking back to my car after a really delicious lunch. This was the moment I had been patiently waiting for; patiently honoring: total clarity on a wound I had been dissecting for a year and a HALF.

I seek validation through men.
I seek validation through masculine energy.
If I don’t receive validation through men, I am empty.
If I do receive validation through men, I am whole.

Fuck. Right?

Let me take you back in time and paint you a pretty little picture.

My parents were divorced by the time I was 5 and I have no memory of us being a family nor do I remember them being in love. My mom remarried within the next few years and that was the defining moment that led me to believe that I was no longer loved by her. So naturally, I became a daddy’s girl, because daddy never got remarried and I was his only girl (well, besides my older sister who was off living on her own at this point). My dad spoiled me rotten. Not with money, because we never really had much of that, but with his consistency, his capacity to always give me attention regardless of what was happening internally, and the fact that he always said “yes.” This began at age 5 and continued until, well I suppose it never really stopped. I just became aware. He was the dad that was at every single one of my volleyball games and tournaments. He bought tickets to every theatrical production I was in and attended every SINGLE show. He played catch with me after his 8-hour work day. He “hid” his cigarettes because he knew how much they disappointed me. He bought me my first dream car: a used 1997 automatic red jeep wrangler. Then a used 2003 black mustang. Then a used 1998 white jeep wrangler when I got sick of the fast bat mobile. He cooked all of our meals based on my naive ass palette. I wanted a kitten? We got a kitten. Do you get it yet? This man was amazing. He still is. He is the most giving human I have ever met and I would be a selfish-narcissistic-aries-asshole without his beautiful character.

However, with all of these beautiful selfless acts that my father provided come a lot of engraved bullshit within me. The child me and the adult me.

So, I have this full-body realization a few months back on the sunny streets of Oakland. I freeze. I lose my breath. I see the fully painted picture. Within the next few days, I will share this with my coach, learn to fully accept this realization, and then commit to healing this wound. Healing my relationship with the masculine.

One of my favorite teachers of meditation, Carlos Pomeda, was asked what the “point” of all this spiritual work was. His answer? Awareness. I have learned this to be true over the years of this conscious expansive internal work. Awareness is everything. Being aware of the self, how you operate, what patterns you default with, how you choose to hold yourself in this life, is absolutely everything. The reason I share this is because It took me a year and a half to discover that I seek validation through masculine energy. Since then, I have been actively working on rewriting this narrative. I am aware of my default behavior patterns. However, I am not done. Like, no where near being done. This work is actually never-ending. I believe you get to a point of being so aware, that eventually you shift your defaulting behaviors, and your narrative shifts, and so does your life.

It’s been a few months since that realization and I am doing the very best that I can. I am extremely mindful when I interact with all men, regardless if I have romantic interest or not. I am extremely aware of my exchanges with my father, especially when I am seeking for him to be “proud of me” for something I have done. I am having transparent and honest conversations with anyone who is willing to listen and relate. I am setting intentions in my meditation, yoga, and dance practices that are keeping me focused on ME. I am carrying around mantras with me that remind me that I am loved, I am worthy, I am smart, I am beautiful, I am proud, I am sexy, and I am whole. There are days where I feel like this piece of me will never be healed and there are days where I give myself a high-five because I am so proud of the baby steps I am taking. I am enjoying men and masculine energy with a new perspective: I am whole and everything in addition is a blessing.

Emotional healing is a fucking whirlwind but it is the greatest work I have ever committed fully to, right after motherhood.

Keep going you.
Don’t give up.

With Gratitude,

bg