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

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