Women's Weekend in the Woods

I am beyond blessed to know the wonderful Gina Molinari - a wonderful adventurer, yogi and downright awesome person.

How we met was a pure accident and honestly, almost didn't happen.
I had a work acquaintance that invited me to a donation based community yoga class. Since I already had a work exchange pass, I really didn't see the need to pay for a class (even if it is $5.00), but I went with it because I needed some social time in my life.

Gina was teaching the class and I actually recall that she was wearing a dark blue sweatshirt and a blue and white scarf. - Don't ask, I remember weird things.

Anyhow, I felt connected with Gina almost immediately. Her class always starts out with a question along the line of  "what do YOU need today?" and then she asks that you honor that and yourself and that throughout the practice you flow the way your body is asking you to. Not necessarily the class she is preaching, but whatever movement works for you.

Seriously, I know no other teacher that so openly says, do what it is right for you, even if it is not the yoga pose that I am teaching. Not only does this not through Gina off her game - but she welcomes it and can, on a whim, update her class to drive towards what you might be in need of at that time.

Then I started following Gina as I watched her overcome any fear or anxiety I might have had in her place, as she packed up to travel the world for 6 months (?) and off she went documenting all of her travels and sharing it with the world! I was in awe, I was jealous, and I was nervous for her.

Upon her return, she so happened to substitute a yoga class at my place of employment and again, we just "connected".  It was right around this time that she posted she would be hosting her first ever retreat AND:

A. It was affordable, the whole weekend at an early bird price under $150.00 (all inclusive)
B. It was camping
C. It was not too far away
D. Gina had noted she would work with me on food allergies and help coordinate rides and tent shares

The only thing holding my back was that my dad and I are VERY close and the retreat was scheduled over Father's Day weekend. Well, the earth has some mysterious ways of working, because my dad was actually away this weekend for my cousin's confirmation.

Okay world, I hear you! I am going to cave in and go do something for myself for once. Something I have been wanting to do for the longest of time!

Prior to the retreat, Gina met with me 1:1 to discuss food options - thank the shining stars above me, she is already a very conscious eater and tries to eat well - even familiar with and fellow lover of khichari! Whoop Whoop!

As it got closer to the event - Gina did everything in her human power to eliminate any anxiety that might come up on my end and any other participants.

I was ready to rock and roll! I was teamed up with another local lovely lady and off we went on our way to the mountains for a weekend of - who knows what we are going to get into....

We arrived on Friday and did the quick unpack, get settled shenanigans and then off to dinner and meet and greet we go. Our dinner feast was a delicious ginger carrot soup and 3 bean salad.

The evening was chill - we got to introduce ourselves, immerse in yoga, and sit around the campfire until we were all ready to rest our heads.

The rain held off until we were all cozy in our sleeping bags - and I spent the night wide awake and taking in all the sounds of the storm, nature, and my tentmate's conversations.

When I decided to emerge the next morning, I arose to the sunrise and a picturesque view of the lake.
I spent about 90 minutes to myself (no cell phone, no camera, no nothing) just me and nature. What a beautiful gift. One that I have allowed myself in years.

The remainder of the group began to awake and off to some morning ACV, Lemon Water and Cayenne and then gluten-free oatmeal made by the lovely Gina - say what?! You heard me right, someone else made me breakfast! This NEVER EVER happens! It was such a blessing that I don't know Gina even knew that her small little gesture was so foreign and so welcomed by me.

Breakfast was once again, distraction free. I took my time, embraced it and enjoyed a healthy start to the day before we headed down to the field for a little yoga and intention setting time.

After yoga, the race was on to make it to the Wolf Preserve on time. What an experience! I know I grew up on a self-proclaimed farm, but I have never seen a wolf, bobcat, or fox in person - EVER!

Off for a snack and then back to camp to start getting lunch ready - but not until after Gina made a pit stop to grab some additional bananas for some more banana campfire boats.

Lunch was some healthy khichari - BUT I had never made a sweet version, on the savory. Gina added some maple syrup to her recipe and it was a group favorite!

After lunch, we engaged in a cacao ceremony - raw organic cacao powder, maple syrup and a touch of cayenne powder.  Which gave us a burst of energy needed for our 3-mile hike.

Just before the hike, we did a quick angel card reading. Can you guess what my card was? If you guess release, then you got it right. Even the Angels are telling me to just let go of the past - don't forget it get, learn from it, embrace it remember it, but move forward with all that the present and future have to offer you.

While I may have had moments of self-doubt on this hike, it was an amazing accomplishment to finish it and I was able to see my black bear! Now, ONLY if he wouldn't have been so smart, every time I tried to take a photo, he hid behind the trees! He said, "Paparazzi, um, no thank you!"

After having "survived" the hike, I was in need of some additional hydration, a shower, and some wholesome dinner! Tonight's menu was vegan hobo packets with lentils. Of course, dinner was followed by some banana boats and a card game I found tucked away at my house - something along the lines of "conversation game". It was a deck of cards, each with a question of some sort on it. We decided to change it up a bit where we would take turns answering a card of our own, but then we would also pick one other person to answer the same question. It was a great way for us to not only be honest with ourselves, get to know one another but to also remind ourselves that we are all more alike than we are different.

This may have been my favorite moment of the retreat. Snuggled up at the campfire, enjoying some social time and just chilling.

Sunday came all too fast - breakfast passed and everyone began to pack up their tents and before you knew it, it was time to grab a quick lunch of lentil stew and a greens salad before we all headed home.

Thank you, Gina and all the beautiful women who attended this retreat for such an amazing
gift! This weekend gave to me more than I thought I would get out of it. Friends, some much needed social time, some forgiveness to myself, grounding time with nature, and a sense of a clean slate ready to start anew!

I know - crazy, no recipes this post and all that good food! Stay tuned for my twist on the dishes in future posts!

Please check out Gina's blog for an awesome sweet khichari recipe.


  1. Love Gina!! She's doing a yoga/surfing/service with dogs retreat in the fall. It is very, very affordable, it's everything I love to do and it's Gina!! Keeping an eye on airfare (major impediment, unfortunately)


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