Gina Molinari yoga, wellness, travel and coaching
My Love Language (of the 5) lately has been Words of Affirmation. With such a nomadic life, words are timeless and location independent. They cost nothing and can lift heaviness we don’t need to carry. They touch hearts (and egos) when physical connection isn’t possible.
This morning I woke up in Sri Lanka having brought in my 32nd birthday with great friends and a night of perfectly combined gin, dancing my face off, and solid sleep. But the nastiness of words in my own head started tearing me down- nothing new. They told me I’m inadequate, boring, bratty, and obviously took jabs at my physical appearance. My monologue blared out my insecurities and bashed the things I’m proud of. Downright NASTY.
So, I isolated myself for a while. Sabotaged to make reality of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Left my friends with their good intentions so I could wallow in my self-pity and lack of self-esteem.
BUT!! This is not how I intend to move into another dance around the sun.
My Love Language is Words of Affirmation, so I sat down with a journal and loved up on myself until I blushed.
With that, for my birthday, I’d love for you to gift me with Words of Affirmation. If you feel called to, share something meaningful, personal, and loving.
For the first time since my Confirmation, when I asked the priest if he really believed in God, I went to church. This summer, I had a calling to understand this God thing, a tearful yearning to feel the connection, and was answered with an invitation. While I still haven’t accepted a Judeo-Christian faith, my travels, close friends, and studies of yoga and Hinduism have brought me closer to religion than I’ve ever been.
Sex is a wonderful earthly pleasure, as long as God is in it.
So what is God? What if I don’t believe in "God"?
Well, if I say God is Love, does that help?
Sure, but what is Love?
In my view, God is a completely interchangeable word for what I call Oneness, the Universe, Divinity. It is the Great Consciousness that IS. It resides within us and connects us all, eliminating any separation our earthly bodies lend us to. God is the big picture that we have ultimate trust in, the reason we have faith in what we cannot prove. The energy of Grace that guides us through life without grasping for every answer and explanation. It is hope and the foundation and home for our beliefs. The warm hug during struggle or suffering, but also the celebration of joy. God is persistent but patient, forgiving and certain. This is the light at the end of the tunnel, the path along the way, and the Source all at once.
Love is our Oneness, and acknowledgement of our connection, and lack of separateness. It is the innate consciousness that witnesses and experiences the Other as part of the Self. The part that sees you as no different than me. Love is the big picture outside of this collection of moment. A source of trust, faith, and Grace. It is forgiveness, acceptance, and patience with stern compassion. It is flexible but absolute and unconditional. At the core, it is a truth we fully believe in as all powerful even without proof. It feels like a warm hug, firm foundation, and Home. Love is the light we seek and follow, the path to get there and the Source all at once.
God is Love is God is Love.
So, if we can successfully practice sex with God/Love in it, can we agree that sex - practicing Love - is an act of worship towards the Divine? Because the Divine/Oneness/God exists in and connects all things. It is bringing Love to the surface, to a place where we can touch and interact with God. Sex is the act of worshipping that divinity in such a fullness of body, mind, and spirit that there is no separation of Self from the Divine. I honor this in you, and acknowledge the same in me. In feeding and nourishing my joy and pleasure, I share and celebrate God/Love. Cyclically. Reciprocally. Sex is our shared understanding of and celebration of our connection in this human form, a chance to touch God through diving into our humanly divine avatar of that bliss and perfection we call God, as though it were ever outside of us. But Sex must be approached as we approach God or Love – without grasping, with trust, belief, Grace, forgiveness, gentleness, and utmost respect. Arriving fully present and knowing that every moment that ever was, is, and will be is inside this single act of worship we call sex. Let it not be a destination, but a journey through the Source back to ourselves. Take the pressure off the sacred. Allow it to be light, giving, a strong foundation, a trustworthy support, and celebration of our ability to celebrate.
Let sex be making Love, touching God, and coming home to our divine selves.
(Trigger Warning: I am still very much recovering from body image issues and disordered eating. My language is not perfect. The thoughts I express are not entirely sensitive. It's still difficult for me to love myself unconditionally. This was really hard to write and took an inordinate amount of time, but I hope you get the idea.)
I admire the fuck out of this girl.
She had been holding pieces of a broken heart for years, and just started loosening her grasp. She took the risk of seeing the world in a way everyone else said was irresponsible. She had navigated airports, buses, and longtail boats that dropped her in the shallows of a bay at low tide with her backpack. She'd just come from a life changing month in Sri Lanka after being robbed in India. She was questioning her purpose and thirsting to discover what else life had in store for her.
Obviously, that girl was, and always will be, a version of me. Yet when I look back on this series of photos as some of my favorites of all time, I have to admit I constantly struggle with seeing this version of me. Since then, I've expanded in more ways than one.
It was the day before my 28th birthday and I was at least 15lbs lighter. Body image issues die really hard, ya'll. I'm as threatened by this girl as I am by every other girl in her 20s as I compare our bodies. I wish I could stand here and say that I know it doesn't matter what I look like, but that would be dishonest.
However, when it comes down to it, I admire this current version of myself even more when I can look at where I came from. I am a woman now, living in a woman's body that comes complete with curves, stretch marks, and a fair share of aches and limitations. I am the product of the expansion and growth I'd been setting myself up for. I'm confident now in ways that have nothing to do with my body.
I've expanded my inquiry of "what is Love?" to actually include allowing love into my world. I've learned to make home wherever I land and thrive with what I've got. I've learned to lead by example and inspire by living my own truth. I've worn sexy clothing not because I need validation, but because it feels awesome to be adorn my shape. I've proven that living a life I love isn't fatally irresponsible.
You know what? Even in my bigger presence, no one comments on my bigger size.
I am everything I was and so, so much more.
Last night, my mom and I watched an episode of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, a show based on the KonMari method of organizing and cleaning. It reminded us that the ways we keep our home organized and full of joy are essentially the same ways we bring these things elements into our lives.
Take a step back from your life to assess the areas that have become cluttered or they’ve become so full, you’ve lost track of what’s in it. Are there relationships that take a lot of time and energy, but no longer bring you joy? Are there routines that you continue with only out of habit rather than necessity or choice? Are there old hobbies taking away from new passions you haven’t had the time to pursue?
It’s not until we take the time to assess and organize our lives that we can recognize these areas that have become cluttered. What’s worse, is that sometimes those cluttered spaces in our lives contain things we really value, things that bring us a lot of joy, but that we haven’t experienced them in so long, we’ve forgotten about them.
If you could press pause on your day-to-day and evaluate your relationships, hobbies, habits, ways you spend your free time, etc, I bet you’d rediscover some valuable things you forgot about. Give yourself the opportunity to hold it in front of you and ask, “Does this serve and bring joy to the life I want to be living?” or has it stuck around simply because you just never got rid of it.
I’ll propose the GiMari method of organizing and cleaning your life:
Area by area, evaluate the elements of your life in their totality.
Look at relationships (friends, family, coworkers, counselors) and ask if these people are supporting the version of You that you want to grow into. If they are, celebrate and spend more time with them. If they aren’t, allow yourself to mourn the loss and reallocate your energy.
Pay attention to your daily routines and habits. From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, what items do you use? When do you check social media? What times do you eat? Are you watching TV or playing on the computer? Do you read? Are you studying? If you had to make a conscious choice to do each of these things, would you say yes, or are you doing it because it’s habit? The actions should be bringing you joy or be crucial to fulfilling your obligations. Habits are the things we do over and over, and the things we do determine who we are. Act according to who you want to be.
Notice the way you eat and the foods you choose. Do you sit down for meals or are you eating on the go? Is your food freshly prepared or out of plastic? Does it make you feel energized, healthy, and happy? Review the things you are putting into your body and make sure that what you have in your house is supporting your health so you can function at your best every single day.
You get it, right? The things in your life need to set you up for your success and happiness. Reorganize your day-to-day to be joyful, functional, and supportive.
Whether it's time, people, or things - Celebrate or reallocate!
I’ll have to talk to Marie Kondo to collaborate with her on this one…
Have you ever caught yourself saying, "I'm confused. I just don't know what to do" when you in fact know exactly what you want to do?
Often it's not clarity that we are seeking, but rather commitment. We are trying to find the place in our hearts and minds that feels settled when we fully take action in one direction. The "confusion" is the byproduct of our soul wanting to move forward when we keep yanking it back to agitated stillness.
We tell ourselves stories about how we are unsure, but what we really feel is more like fear.
You are already clear. It's been inside you since the first moment that you felt the excitement of butterflies in your stomach and the jumping of your heart. Now it's time to commit and take action towards the path you have been shying away from. Trust that you know what you want, then go get it!
(This is an example of a Love Note. Want to read something like this once a week? Sign up to receive Love Notes in your e-mail and you can cancel anytime if you get sick of my perspective, inspiration, or tips.)
Caught at Sea in Jungle Beach
Surfing is a bit of a self-induced exposure therapy for me. The power of the ocean terrifies me, so I put myself in it just to prove that I won't die.
This morning, paddling back to shore from Jungle Beach's ocean break was an emotional experience. I was proud of myself for sitting so far out, watching a big, glassy left and right break on either side of me. The fact that I didn't even attempt to paddle into a wave was not a problem. I'd been hanging out in the deep water where the face of a wave would come barreling in from the sea and then melt down just before it reached me. My attempts to sit on the board without it flipping out from underneath me were laughable.
Despite being constantly reminded that I need to sit up on the board and face the waves to see what's coming, I wasn't doing it. It seemed fine. Then a big set came, one that broke across the whole face of the wave instead of fizzling out, and I wasn't ready, not that I ever really say I am. I was a bit too far left to avoid it and too caught off guard to catch it, so it pummeled me. I gave in, one hand holding my nose (because I can't hold my breath) covering my head like I'd been taught. The second wave was coming fast, so I pulled the board closer to avoid smashing into the fins as I accepted the next blow. By the third wave, I had it pretty figured out and dove into the whitewall.
Surviving was enough. Every wave that doesn't kill me proves that I'm not going to be instantaneously murdered by the ocean. In fact, I wasn't even phased by being unable to sit up on the board without toppling over, not catching a single wave, or the knowledge of the terrifying vastness of the blue world I was hovering over. Getting back to shore was the real test.
I paddled and paddled and paddled and paddled... and got nowhere. Just to my left I could see the ticket in. She was a long, fast, but gentle ride toward the shore where I could paddle along the current instead of perpetually being pushed back into it. But I saw the massive rock face that I'd realistically never hit, and I turned away from the wave. I saw the frothy whitewater seething with power, and I turned further from its helpful push.
My arms were utterly exhausted, more flailing than paddling. My friend in the water could paddle toward me and then 10 meters ahead in the time it took for me to gain 1 meter. My hands were cupped, chest lifted, forearms pushing water, but I couldn't get any closer to the beach. The board wobbled and I spent my energy trying not to fall off the board as I willed it forward, all the while checking over my shoulder for another surprise wave. Salvation and the sweetness of a long, deep breath felt days away. Desperately looking to the shore, I felt the breakdown coming on and wondered how long I'd survive if I gave up and let the current pull me out to sea. I'd live there.
It took forever and I'd completely exhausted my courage, determination, patience, and arms by the time I finally collapsed onto the sand. I can't express how long it took - probably nearly 20 minutes - but it felt like a hopeless eternity. Stuck, out of control, trapped - all my worst enemies.
Anyway, there's a lesson in this, obviously. I thought it would be about learning how to gracefully fall, face fears, adjust...but it was harder. More challenging because I didn't expect it. This time it was actually a new, difficult, unanticipated challenge. In fact, I haven't quite sussed it out entirely - the lesson is still percolating.
Real growth doesn't necessarily happen on our own terms. Like being robbed, raped, or ill, we are at the mercy of the Universe's greater plan. In the moment, we are struggling to survive - and we must - but the process of that struggle and our Soul's determination to continue is where the expansion happens. The pain of the comfortable edges being stretched. Muscles tearing in order to be rebuilt bigger and stronger. Truth is, there will be pain, or at least discomfort. Struggle, confusion, denial, and even a moment where you give up and resign yourself to being permanently lost at sea.
You must persevere. You must trust this process. You must breathe - even if you first cry, scream, panic and shut down before you muster enough faith to release a deep exhalation. Your inhalation will come. Your torn muscles, broken heart, and crumbled walls will rebuild and heal. The path to your growth is not yours to choose, but you can direct how you react to it.
Keep paddling, G. You aren't destined to die at sea.
Have you ever started something - a BIG, scary thing that took a lot of courage to begin - and then midway through, you panic and self-sabotage to make your fears come true?
Let me give you an oddly specific, but rather comical example (we need to keep Mondays light-hearted!)
There's this abandoned harbor near Twin Fin Surf Camp where you can jump off the wall and into deep, clear water. I'm a fire sign, through and through, so getting into water has never felt natural to me. It takes courage for me to cross a river, let alone jump into the ocean from 6 meters up.
Determined to jump, I climbed over the ledge and attempted to steady my nervous legs as friends looked up from below and encouraged me. "You'll be fine! Just jump out!".
Mustering all the courage I had, I let go and let this big thing happen.
Here's the sabotage piece.
I'd already done the hard work, the brave part. I'd already allowed myself permission to act boldly. I'd already committed and set the course in motion. Truly, there was only one outcome - land in the water - and all I had to do was not fight my way there.
I wish I could report that I learned to levitate, but I didn't. Somewhere between my release and the water, I panicked and started running in the air. Flailing my legs and left arm (my right hand was holding my nose), some irrational part of my brain tried to control the simple act of falling into gravity.
"Are you alright?" When I resurfaced to see the shock on my friends' faces, I knew I'd done it wrong. Then I felt the stinging pain on the back of my right leg and my left shin. Instead of landing feet first like a dagger piercing the ocean, I'd configured myself into an awful, floppy shape and hit the water hard. My moment of panic and fighting had sabotaged the letting go I had committed to.
I’m fine. There’s a 9-inch bruise on the back of my leg, but I’m fine. Even trying to defy gravity and sabotaging a simple jump didn’t destroy me. Plus, there’s a hilarious video of my clumsy mishap.
There are many lessons here, but today I invite you to be curious about what big leaps of faith you’ve taken in your life. Where have you acted boldly and with courage to move towards something that could be natural if you let it?
Can you predict where you may sabotage the good things that are happening? Can you identify the places where fear may call for you to reach out towards the edges and fight against the course you’ve set in motion?
Can you stay true to your course, try not to panic, and allow yourself to land gracefully at your destination?
My senior year of high school, I printed out the poem Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman. At that point of my life I was both making plans for my suicide and creating dreams of traveling the world. I’ve always had commitment issues, fortunately. That poem held hope within its lines, words that painted a meaningful existence I couldn’t resist falling in love with.
After college, I started working a 9-5 office job and still had the printed poem. Day by day, I felt my soul being sucked away through the computer screen or screams on the other end of the telephone line. I imagined the triumphant day I would leave, walking away from security, the status quo, and the way things were. On that day, I told myself, I would post on my Facebook the first lines of that poem that served as a beacon of hope for all those years:
Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I chose.
The same copy of the poem came with me when I finally quit my job and traveled for 5 months.
Each time I leave to travel, I read Song of the Open Road again, new lines jumping off the page to guide me. Because every journey off the beaten path brings a new lesson, a new challenge, a new perspective. What excites me most about my travels are the things I’m not expecting, aside from knowing that I will be surprised by the twists and gifts of Grace as I walk this open road.
I’d like to share with you the entirety of Walt Whitman’s ode to the traveler, so that you may be sung to by the message that your heart most needs to hear.
Song of the Open Road
Over a year ago I wrote a note in my phone called "I Don't Want to Forget". It had one liners from various small details of the epic five month adventure Orion and I had taken.
"I don't want to forget the moments on the side of Salkantay wondering if I might freeze and die... the smoothie at Prasada in Cusco that I had to hold with two hands... the happy cow that drank for hours from the spout in Rishikesh... crying and huddling against a closed storefront on Diwali as kids threw fireworks in the street... hearing my mom's voice as I called from the US Embassy to tell her I'd been robbed... the saxophone solo at the Esplanade concert." You get the point.
What if we did this kind of stuff more often? Could you pause at the end of each week and write down the small details, the ones that might slip away between the threads of time? These small instances hold such a richness to them. They are the moments where we truly pause - not because of some big, spectacular event - but simply to appreciate the overlooked details we take for granted.
In this way, the small things become more special.
My invitation today is to slow down enough to notice these small details. As summer winds down and we get swept up by airy Autumn, ground yourself in the sweetness of the present moment.
Maybe you'll even create an I Don't Want To Forget note on your phone.
PS - This is a Love Note. Can I e-mail you stuff like this weekly?
It's been a year since I met my Grapefruit.
I first felt her as I was laying in the field of Valley Forge Park under the eerie dim sky of the solar eclipse. Everything had fallen silent in the confusion, the unveiling, as though a portal had been opened to our dazed eyes. The pain grew for days. Orion and I retreated to the cabin and dove behind the veil. I was lost where I couldn't hide. A wasp stung the sole of my foot as I looked at a withering mushroom, and the radiating fury of its poison was a welcome reprieve from the dizzying discomfort in my stomach. My insides shook me to tears with every step I stumbled. By the time we came home, I was doubled over holding the hurt. He drove me to work and I taught a class from the floor distracted by thoughts of dying the way my Grandmother had.
When I walked through the hospital doors, uninsured, I never expected it to cost $12,000, but it didn't matter. It was a pain I couldn't bare backed by fear that pulsed venom through my blood and sent me pleading for help and answers.
Six hours in the ER, an MRI, and 2 ultrasounds later, I had been introduced to my Grapefruit.
My uterine fibroid, a benign tumor mass that grew between my uterus and ovary, had been pressing its frustrations against my diaphragm, stomach and low back. I know now that the intensity of the pain was partially exacerbated by GERD. I had been so ignorant to my body's messages that it needed to attack from multiple angles before I'd pay attention.
Having an ultrasound brought me to tears. Women having babies get ultraounds, but I was there in pain getting measurements of the muscle my uterus built around itself. If had been pregnant, the fibroid would have allowed no space for a baby to grow.
A year later and my Grapefruit is still there, still twice the size of my uterus. I used acupuncture, Chinese herbs, diet changes, DIM supplement and a whole lotta self-love to manage it and I don't feel pain anymore, but I still feel it's presence. I'm okay. We are managing well.
A friend said to me the other day (and I'm paraphrasing immensely), "I think you love it too much. You've let it become part of you and you don't really want it to leave." He's right. My Grapefruit, she was born out of my hatred for everything that made me Woman, then she taught me how to love being a Woman. She made me aware of my gifts, my ability to create. I learned to love her and kindly say thank you. My Grapefruit would never allow space for a baby, but it was okay because I didn't want it. I didn't hate it.
It's a tough one for me to make sense of, and I still haven't quite wrapped my head around the depth of this lesson. My Grapefruit. I love it for they way it taught me to listen, to love, to care for myself, to appreciate my natural gifts. I love it because I feel shame for having created it out of my hatred. The way I felt my community rise up to support and comfort me. I love it because it is uniquely female, and mine.
But, as all things I love, I must be willing to let her go. Decay, shrivel, and die. A martyr, a memorial, a memory. I must be willing to let my uterus release its anti-baby muscle so I can empower myself with that decision, even if that means letting the space stay empty.
I loved my Grapefruit for this past year, but I'm ready for her to go.
Ramblings, insights, & motivation