Brena's Story: A Sewing Machine, Heels, Tattoos and a Low Rider Melinda McAuliff, re-posted May 2011
(I wrote about Brena for a personal blog I started keeping before launching iRocYoga. Her story is a big part of what inspired me to include Yogi Profiles on iRocYoga. Enjoy!)
When I came across a Facebook link to “BresValley” I clicked and fell in love with what I found. To say “handmade yoga accessories” does not do it justice. It's more like art – the kind that resonates with inspiration. It made me want to know more about the person behind what I’d stumbled across.
I emailed Brena, the talented artist behind BresValley, and asked if she would be willing to share her story. I had no idea how good of a story I was in for.
“I’m a 37 year old mother of four, two children and two Newfoundland dogs,” she says. “I add the dogs, because they are like people in bear suits, really. They eat more than any us, have their own bedroom, their own dedicated fridge and sleep on a full size bed.”
“I mention these fury kids of mine because I owe them thanks for most of the love and happiness that fills my life. It was because of them that I met my husband a decade ago. Our son, Valentin is 5 and daughter Yeva Soleil is 20 months. “
About 8 years ago, Brena was given an unpredictable and temperamental second-hand sewing machine that collected dust in her basement for a long time because she didn’t know how to sew. “In 2005, after my son was born, I was struggling with depression, adapting to being the mother of a newborn, working full-time as a Financial Advisor, and really lonely in a marriage that was being tested daily.”
“One late night, in the dead of winter and in emotional despair, I opened up that machine and just started sewing with vigor. "Bre's Valley" came to my mind that night. I dedicated it to my son Valentin, who I call Valley for short. He was my source of strength and inspiration.”
“As I sat in my cold basement, feeling so crummy and not knowing how to get out of that painful space inside, I realized I was living in my own dark valley. I quickly found that the sewing, the sound of the machine, the process of creating, touching and the feeling of material, the unison of my breath with my thoughts and my stitching helped me. I couldn't get to a yoga class, but I could get similar satisfaction making yoga headbands! So the process and practice of making headbands became my very own sanctuary of peace and quiet and release.”
I asked Brena what inspires her and her words resonated with the same inspired art I saw when I first came across BresVally. “I am not sure if I can pin that down specifically. In a general sense, the beautiful mysteries of life, listening from within and giving space to let what will be, be.”
She says her favorite thing about making yoga accessories is “dreaming up a piece and telling my little romantic story with the material and my sewing machine. Then, the happiness I feel when the person it was ‘made for’ out there in the world actually finds it!”
Between home, family, work and BresValley, Brena maintains a home yoga practice that is as inspired by life as her handmade accessories. She says, “my ability to get to a formal class these days is almost zero. However, I practice yoga in my head, I dream about doing yoga every day. I practice my breathing as much as possible from sunup to sundown.”
“I try to incorporate certain poses in some fashion throughout my hectic day. I wash dishes in as best a tree pose as possible, at night I breast feed my daughter while moving in and out of a modified chair pose, I watch Go Diego Go in a variety of warrior poses, I do down dog when I can disappear to the bathroom away from my kids who want to jump all over my back when they see me bend over!!....I must say Ohm Shanti Shanti Shanti three hundred times a day. This is my practice. It keeps me thoughtful, mindful, positive, and strong.”
The last question I asked is one of my favorites because I am never quite sure what to expect, meeting someone for the first time what would surprise them the most about you? For Brena, “Most people don't know that when I take my shoes off, let down my big hair knot, that I am only 4 foot 11 … and that under my stuffy work suits and day job I love my big tattoos and wish I could just cruise on a low rider.”
Visitwww.bresvalley.etsy.com to check out Brena’s handmade yoga accessories, headbands and belts … otherwise known as life-inspired-art.
Thank you Brena for sharing your story, and Liz for posting her link where I would find it.
Rochester has a dynamic yoga community with students and teachers whose talents are as diverse and unique as the places we live and practice. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend a fellow yogi (student or teacher) to be profiled on iRocYoga.
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