We had the good fortune of connecting with Gertie Breffle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gertie, what principle do you value most?
If I am honest, 🙂 I think that courage, curiosity, and exuberance have been the most important treasures I’ve carried in my pocket throughout my career, which of course I think my career originated in my childhood and life path and these three have been invaluable companions playing a critical role in it. I think the combination of these three have been a recipe for being tickled by wonder, insight, and deep appreciation for all the resilience, stength, wisdom, tenderness, and infinite qualities and depths of the human spirit I see embodied in all the little moments overcoming, longsuffering, and sweetness and stength of people I’ve worked with, interacted with, known, loved and learned through local/global community and storytelling. I think one of the most important elements of my work is to appreciate and draw on each person’s capacity to go through relentless suffering and have the audacity to continue on, to dare, to wake up and greet another day, to continue striving for dreams and to draw on their own courage, curiosity, kindness, and humor. To me exuberance is an embodied experience of wonderment looking into a person’s eyes as they tell their stories of profound experiences of loss and pain as well as undeniable strength, love, dreams, reveries and their own exuberance. To me, curiosity allows an ongoing openness to collect experiences of the innate and cultivated biodiversity within each person and community, facets such as delight, humor, stubbornness, tenacity, grit, creativity, friendliness, beauty, sharing, innovation, compassion, and experience of awe – to draw on in the process of healing and growth. To me courage is a shared experience of walking hand in hand, hearts together, toward personal and systemic dragons, as a life choice, as active participants in personal and collective healing work.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a psychotherapist and as a human I have found the art of storytelling and appreciation for storytelling to be deeply woven into my work. Each of us is a multifaceted being intricately woven together with our life experiences, culture, history, aspects of communities. Listening to a person’s story is standing on sacred ground. In being with people’s stories I like to draw on and gather all the strengths, and creativity, and innovation and resilience, and brilliance revealed intrinsically throughout to use and build on in the healing process. Our body and experience holds so much strengths to draw on and build on, and the body knows what to do to heal, as we cultivate our relationship with our bodies and ourselves and our experience. I attended Naropa University in pursuit of a Master’s in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology, as I found embodiment practice to be immensely valuable in these healing process. I had a vision to creat a system which incorporated holistic healing methods backed by neuroscience accessible to persons struggling with trauma, addictions and systemic marginalization using holistic methods that draw on the strengths of individuals, the body, culture, community, personal histories, relationships, etc. I serendipitously met Lyndsey Ryan on a moving job, moving her out of her house during grad school, and in sharing our career interests found a very similar vision. We began working together under her supervision and mentorship in my practicum, and she started the business two years later inviting me on as a wilderness therapist. It was a rocky beginning the first two years, trying to find a sustainable way to provide access to services while growing a business from the ground up, and even folded for 8 months with no clear solution in sight. My acupuncturist was a mentor to me during this time and would remind me times like this teach us to have faith. Several serendipitous happenings fell into place and we found ourselves back in business with a Medicaid contract, and sustainable ability to provide access to services. Integrating Insights began with 4 clinicians and now has over 30 clinicians of diverse backgrounds, education, training and orientations. Lyndsey has created a business culture that fosters growth through continuous education resources and a culture of friendliness, collaboration, integration of concepts, models and styles, and empowerment of clinicians in their professional development. I’ve learned through the growth and development of this vision, that integrity, tenacity, faith, and fostering a culture of inclusivity, friendliness, respect, and empowerment are imperative and possible to continuously cultivate and foster. I have seen it and continue to see this at work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I think it’s lovely to peruse the city of Boulder, particularly the shops, coffee shops, and restaurants along Pearl Street. I’d encourage anyone to explore with curiosity, exuberance and playfulness, to spontaneously taste of each experience that lay instore. And proceed according to the moment’s curiosity and interest. I’d encourage the same kind of exploration of the beautiful mountains. The possibilities to explore are endless and one an follow their heart and adventuresome spirit to wander to hiking, biking, mountain biking, backpacking trails and drives down any mountain road from Boulder or the surrounding areas north and south. Grab a map and your gear and follow your heart and embrace beauty and adventure exploring these mountains.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Maya Angelou says that “we live in direct relation to the heroes and sheroes we have, always and in all ways.” I have found this to be true, and I’m so deeply grateful to all of the human beings who have come before to teach and contribute to the healing and growth of our local and global cultures and individuals, and to my life and journey. My work wouldn’t be what it is without all the shoulders I stand on. Storytellers and freedom fighters like Belle Hooks, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, and Martin Luther King. Mentors and teachers who have demonstrated the qualities that I aspire to and have paved the way with, courage, grace, excellence and style. Nicol McGough, Wellness Director of College Track, a program designed to support underserved youth in graduating high school and college/ university. College Track has a 95% success rate in this goal and is built on a supportive inclusive community surrounding students through the personal and community challenges they are faced with. Nicol was a leader/supervisor well loved and whose live was felt but all within this community. She embodied a ferocious love and was a grower of people. She instilled confidence in mentors in supporting students with their emotional wellness, and her example and mentorship will always be something I draw on in my career path. Lyndsey Ryan, founder of Integrating Insights has been an incredible mentor and leader in creating a business model that embodies the integrity of her work in assisting persons struggling with trauma, addictions, relationship challenges, systemic marginalization through empowerment, healing and dignity. Her leadership fosters growth, empowerment, friendliness, compassion and collaboration in clinicians in their work and in the business culture. Many more teachers, mentors, leaders, and community members have played a huge role in my growth and my work and they are deeply appreciated.
Jennifer MacNiven Photography