Odyssey Storytelling

img_8566Odyssey Storytelling brings together people of all aspects of life to connect through sharing stories. This community showcases monthly events, where several storytellers share their experiences to an audience through story. Each show has a theme, and is held in downtown Tucson at The Sea Of Glass Center for the Arts. I got to participate in the January show as one of the storytellers!

We got to write our own bios, which were all posted online and included in the programs: “Gina Finio is 27 years old and originally from the Philadelphia, PA area. She graduated from a PA university that you’ve probably never heard of and has worked in Human Resources ever since. img_8569She turned her love for cactus into a cross-country move this summer, relocating from Allentown, PA to Tucson. Her dog Ducky is the most important thing in her life and is also her longest lasting relationship. Her hobbies include binge watching or auditioning for reality television, finishing jigsaw puzzles with her girlfriend and then putting it back in the box like a savage, and spending way too much money on crop tops that she will never stop wearing no matter how old she gets. Follow her weird life on social media @ginafinio or read her blog if you feel like it at www.ginafinio.com.” If you’re interested in reading the bios of my fellow storytellers, the picture to the left should show everyone from the show.

The theme of the night was Hindsight: “Stories from the shoulda – coulda – woulda club. They say hindsight is 20/20. If you knew then what you know now . . . how would your life be different? Would you make the same choices or would you take a different path? Are our lives predetermined by fate or do we exercise free will? Or, is it some odd combination of the two?”

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The story that I told was basically my coming out story, which honestly is one that I’m not a big fan of. I didn’t have a bad experience or anything, but if I could go back and do things differently, I certainly would. It’s not about the act of actually coming out, but more the way that I did it. Hindsight has allowed me to recognize this now, which is basically what my story was about. It was also something that I was holding onto in a way that I didn’t like, and by being able to joke about it, I was able to find some closure.

The energy that I felt coming off of the stage was like nothing I’ve ever experienced! It was a lot of highs, and I was truly really proud of myself. People kept coming up to me after the show, saying that they could relate in someway – which was incredible! Whether it was through myself or a family member type of figure – it was crazy to see people feel so connected to my experience. The crowd was amazing, extremely open, diverse, and accepting.

I hope to be able to do another story sometime soon, but I want to make sure it’s something I hold just as close to my heart is this one. I don’t want to tell a story just for the sake of telling it; I want it to be really meaningful. But I DEFINITELY would like to do it again.odyssey

You can listen to all the stories from the Hindsight show via The Odyssey Storytelling Podcast. The recording was released on Friday, January 31st: January 2020: Hindsight. My story begins around minute 47:47. You can also find more information for Odyssey Storytelling and their upcoming events by visiting OdysseyStorytelling.com.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

New Tattoos (part two)

Well, I’ve gotten some new ink. My tattoo total is up to 12 now, but of course I’m far from done. I absolutely love the tattoos I’ve gotten in the past month or two, so I had to share:

 

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1. Mountains: A while ago, my sister got a tattoo of a simple line in the shape of a wave (similar to those wave rings you’ve probably seen on Instagram). I really liked the look and placement, although the beach and ocean does not mean the same to me as it does for my sister. Instead I took her inspiration and turned it into a mountainscape. I’ve always been drawn to mountains, and it’s part of the reason that I loved Tucson so much. Living in a town where you’re surrounded by beautiful mountains has been amazing, and I hope to always have a good mountain view in my life.

 

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2. That’s Amore: When my sister turned 18, I went with her to a parlor to purchase her first tattoo. We actually got coordinating tatts, where she has a lock and I have the key. When our cousin turned 18 this year, my sister extended the tradition down. Growing up, my cousin and my grams would sing the song “That’s Amore” before my cousin was fully able to read. Instead, Grams drew pictures for the moon, sky, a pizza pie, and then wrote the words “that’s amore”. My cousin, my sister and I all got the lyrics “that’s amore” in my grams’ handwriting, and it turned out absolutely adorable on everyone. Since my sister and cousin are on the east coast and I’m out in AZ, I wasn’t able to get tatted with them, but the sentiment still stands.

 

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3. Rainbow Dots: I’ve wanted something “gay” related for a long time, but I wasn’t ready to get a full on rainbow tattooed on myself. I thought about maybe just “BI” or something else subtle, but couldn’t find anything that I loved. My friend then sent me a tattoo she found on Instagram that had a line of dots in rainbow colors. It was so simple and beautiful, and I also loved the nod to R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. from my art days. This tattoos is so elegant and discrete, yet creative and unique and I absolutely am obsessed with it.

 

As always, more tattoos to come I’m sure!

Thanks for reading.

27th Birthday

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My birthday was October 1st, so I am officially 27!It’s really crazy to think about where my life was at even just a year ago. A LOT of things have changed for me – for the better! I’ve been reflecting on how different my life is and all the progress I’ve made to be living the happiest life possible.

Throughout all of my twenties, I definitely had a good sense of who I was. I’ve always been myself. but there was definitely a period of IMG-6240time where I was making some questionable decisions. I was trying to figure some things out for myself in my adult life, and I was exploring what it is that makes me happy. As a result of looking for certain answers, I found myself in several different situations and relationships that were not the healthiest.

This time last year, I had just gotten out of a very unhealthy relationship. I felt as though I had someone else’s world on IMG-6571my shoulders, and I was ten feet under water and drowning fast. I felt responsible for this person, but it was affecting my ability to be happy in so many areas of my life. Even though I was able to end this relationship this time last year, there was still a falling out after, which led to a difficult start to my 26th year. Sometimes, you have to learn that certain things truly belong in the past in order for you to move on and into a healthy head-space. (Support from family and friends definitely helps as well.)

I was also trying, at this time last year, to figure out how to be more open about my sexuality, which was very hindering when I was in a heterosexual relationship. I wanted to live authentically, but I felt held back in so many ways. I have been open IMG-7740with myself about my sexuality as well as those very close to me for many years, but this time last year I was not fully “out” to everyone in my life. I was able to find a way to really date the way I want to during my 26th year, and to create healthy dynamics from the beginning with anyone I spent time with. I was reminded that you can set your own parameters and create a positive space and mindset for yourself in really anything that you do. This journey to openness also included coming out to my family, which truthfully didn’t exactly go the way I really wanted it to in retrospect. But regardless of how I got here, I can now be completely living my truth at this point and not filtering my life for those around me. And that’s huge. 

Looking back at what my life was like over a year ago, I was being held back from all aspects – including my career. I had been considering transferring to a new office across IMG-5795the country since I had started this new job at the age of 25, but the idea originally put a lot of guilt on my shoulders. Once I was out of that relationship, I was able to see more clearly that I wasn’t physically in the place that I wanted to be. Around the new year, just three months into my 26th year, I started to put my plan into place. I talked to my work and my family about the move and by the end of June, I was in my new apartment and new office in Tucson. I really did love the time I spent in Allentown, but I felt that I had already gotten everything there that I needed to. I knew there was so much more out there for me than what I was surrounding myself with. Knowing there were things out there waiting for me, I got my ass out to Arizona.

As I started thinking about getting out of PA, there was so much toxic energy that I realized I would be leaving behind me. It felt good to move on from all the strange cactus picdynamics, situations, and toxicity that I hadn’t even realized was overwhelming me. I was involved in friendships and relationships that were not the healthiest for anyone involved, and the best thing I could do for everyone was leave it all behind and start new. And truthfully, it felt amazing!  There were things I was still holding onto, holding out for, dealing with, holding onto hope for, or even just involved in that weren’t good for me. It wasn’t making me happy in a good way, and it was nice to know I was putting a lot of that behind me with this move and allowing myself to actually grow without confines.

Coming to Arizona, I really felt that I was in a good mindset and free of things that had vanessapreviously held me down. I’m in a relationship now that’s been so amazing and I’ve been really enjoying our time together. I feel confident in what we have as a result of who we are at this point in our lives, and I take Vanessa for who she is and what she gives to me. It’s amazing to be in a healthy relationship where we have mutual respect and love and so much support for each other. It’s also been absolutely wonderful to openly date a woman for the first time. It’s not just something my friends know about – I can post on social media and refer to her as my “girlfriend” and it’s been a really incredible feeling. I feel very free, open, and authentically myself. 

Going into year 27, I feel more who I want to be, and less who I used to be, or who I thought I was supposed to be. I’m realizing that all of my experiences are pieces of my identity, but I have skythe ability to create myself and who I am today.  Even if you’ve been doing something every single day for years, you have the control to say ‘ya know what, that’s going to be who I was and no longer who I am.’ You can say ‘I used to do this, and now I don’t.’  People can change. I used to live in PA, and now I don’t. I used to get involved in unhealthy relationships with men, and now I don’t. I used to hide certain parts of myself, and now I don’t. That’s something I’ve really realized in moving to AZ; starting anew allowed me to have complete control over what I surrounded myself with and how I spend my time. It doesn’t matter who you’ve been, it matters who you are. You can always create your own narrative.

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Being in this new place, I feel so good. I feel more confident in my everyday life, more successful at work, and more comfortable in my relationship than I ever have before. It’s really wild for me to see the progress I made within the past year. Going into year 27, EVERYTHING is different. For so long, I felt like I was trying to get out or get away from something, and I finally feel like now, I can just LIVE.

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Be aware of who you are versus who you’ve been. Reflect on what you have versus what you’ve had. Know what you want versus what you’ve wanted. This helps you to create the best version of yourself possible, right now, today.

“If you don’t like your life, then you should go and change it.” – The Dirty Heads, Vacation

Thanks for reading!

New Tattoos

I’m a big fan of tattoos and already have several small ones, and now I have added tattoos #8 and #9.

These were both tattoos that I had been thinking about for a very long time. The first one, actually, I almost got done in college and didn’t because of last minute plans that got changed. Now almost 6 years later, I finally got it done.

gravityThere are two songs titled “Gravity” that hold a lot of weight to me for different reasons. One is by John Mayer, and the other by Sara Bareilles. The idea of “gravity” allows you to be pulled towards different directions, and can have forces working against you. You may feel a magnetic connection to something and can easily be swayed as a result of it’s pull. We can allow ourselves to be influenced, or we can stop it from keeping us down. Gravity is also what can keep us grounded, and keep our heads out of the clouds. I got the word “gravity” tattooed behind by left ear, as a reminder to be in control of my life and to keep myself grounded. (This was also written in my mom’s handwriting.)

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My other tattoo is on my upper/inner right forearm. This tattoo is of the Libra constellation, depicted by flowers. I always resonated with being a Libra, but the idea of “balance” is something I can’t always connect with. Balance is something I strive for, but rarely achieve, so I didn’t want to get the Libra scale as my tattoo. Instead, there are two flowers, whose blossoms represent the stars in the constellation. This shows that despite expectations, we will bloom where we are planted, but we will grow how we want to.

I’m super super super happy with all of my tattoos and look forward for more to come!

Thanks for reading.

Coming Out: An Update

Wow. You all really showed up for my last post, huh? I mean, I post links to this blog all the time and I’ve never gotten the buzz that I did last week. A whopping ten people felt compelled to click and read what I had to say about JVN, but over one hundred of you wanted to get the details once it got super personal. I guess everyone wants in on the spilled T.

Let me just say that my parents are very understanding and open-minded people, and I never for one second thought that this was going to be an issue in my family. Truthfully, I was very much under the impression that they probably already knew. I had been playing with the idea of “coming out”, not even knowing if I felt the need to. This never felt like some deep dark secret to me, so I didn’t feel like I had to make some grand announcement.

Well, apparently that’s what I did last week.

When I wrote that post, I wasn’t thinking about who would read it – I know what my stats usually looked like, and there’s not often a lot of traffic. If anything, I thought it would just be helpful for me to write this out and maybe to collect my thoughts and figure out what I wanted exactly. Looking back, I’m regretful that I made that post public before talking to my parents. I think I was just trying to figure things out for myself, and I didn’t think it all the way through. Sitting someone down and telling them about my sexuality didn’t seem like the right thing for me personally to do, but maybe it’s also about who is on the other end of that conversation as well. I certainly didn’t mean for all these conversations to be had without me there.

That being said, I’ve had wonderful conversations with my parents and I feel really good about where things are right now. There was a lot of open dialogue that I knew would be there whenever I was ready to have it. And of course, there was a lot of love that will always be there to make me wildly uncomfortable when directly pointed my way.

So to anyone reaching out to my family members asking if they “are okay”, yeah they’re fucking great, thanks for asking.

To anyone who has reached out to me directly, thank you so much and please know that I really appreciated your words. It was very validating to hear from other bisexuals, and having that support means a lot.

I’ll try not to get on my soapbox about this, but it’s annoying that I had to “come out”. It’s annoying that the default is set to ‘straight’. It’s annoying that I have to tell everyone if it’s different. And it’s annoying that once I do, it’s a hot topic of conversation. I know I’m not a very private person, and I don’t really have secrets of my own. But being bisexual somehow by default gave me this secret that I never even wanted to keep in the first place. I will admit that while I usually love having all of the attention on me, I think I would do things just a little bit differently if I was given a second chance.

This whole experience was truly more than I signed up for. Without meaning to, I made myself feel exposed, uncomfortable, and embarrassed. But now, I also feel relieved, supported, and content. I’m out! And I’m totally done paying my gay dues for now.

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Thanks for reading.

Bisexuality

Hi, I’m Gina and I am bisexual – this may or may not be the first time you are hearing this, but it is most definitely not the first time I have said this.

I’ve known that I was attracted to both men and women from a very young age, even if I didn’t have the terminology for it. I spent most of my youth under the presumption that people are either gay or straight, and there weren’t really any other options. I always liked boys and never had any trouble feeling comfortable around them, so in my head that meant I must be straight. Sure, when I was alone I spent time finding Tumblr videos of girls kissing, but I was kissing boys in real life, so come on I must be straight, right????

If you get super super technical, the first person I ever kissed was a girl. I don’t really consider this my “first kiss”, because we were just little girls playing stupid games and it wasn’t anything meaningful – I may not have even been 10 years old yet. In middle school I started kissing boys and having boyfriends, and I was always a little ahead of my friends in terms of “experience”.

In high school, I had a female friend who I got super close with, got drunk for the first time with, and had my first lesbian experience with. The experience itself was very PG, but this was the first time where I was kissing a girl who was kissing me back and it was intentional – even if heavily influenced by alcohol. After my straight guy friends learned about this, there was a lot of encouragement whenever we were drinking for me to make out with the other girls. I happily obliged of course, but I continued to date guys exclusively. By the end of high school, I had probably kissed just as many girls as I had guys, but I only had experience past that with the guys, and I had never been romantically involved with a girl.

This didn’t change much as I entered college and I continued to be involved with men romantically, but fantasizing about women in my alone time. I was still under the impression that I was straight, I just figured I was more sexually open than most people. I believed myself to be more open in general than most, so I didn’t put too much extra thought into my sexuality as a whole.

Enter the world of Tinder. Tinder became a thing sometime while I was still in college and it was common on my campus. As I set up my profile to start swiping, I was faced with filling out some preferences:

Are you interested in:
○ Men
○ Women
○ Both

Both? OMG. BOTH?! IS THAT AN OPTION?! CAN I DO THAT?!

Both. BOTH!

That’s when things clicked for me. That’s when I stopped thinking that I had to be on one side or the other, either gay or straight, and maybe I could actually sit somewhere on the fence.

I clicked both, and started swiping on both men and women.

For a while, this was just an internal thought. I hadn’t fully identified with the word “bisexual” yet, even if I had rolled it around in my head a few times. Even though I was matching with and talking to girls on Tinder, I wasn’t meeting up with any of them in real life and was instead still spending my time involved with men. I even started dating someone towards the end of college, and I would think to myself, “I’ll explore girls more if/when we break up.” In my head, I had put my sexuality on hold (even though I was still swiping and talking with girls here and there when my boyfriend was being a dick).

By the time we broke up, I was sure that this was something I wanted to explore. I had had plenty of experiences with men, and I wanted to bring my female experiences up to par. I started hooking up with a girl that I had a crush on who was sort of in my friend group and identified as a lesbian. When our friends first got wind that we were a thing, they asked me if I was a lesbian also. This was the first time I said the words out loud: “Nope, I’m bi.”

* Insert fireworks and celebration sound effects here *

Since then, I’ve dated both men and women openly and happily. I spent over a year in a relationship with a man, and now that I am single again I would like to focus more on being with women. I believe my sexuality will always be fluid and I will always pride myself in having an open mind and an open heart.

That’s as much of a “coming out” story as I have so far. My friends have kind of organically learned about it over the past several years as I told them about my involvement with different people. I’m open about it with new people I meet and become involved with. My coworkers all know I am openly bisexual and I even indicated this in my voluntary demographics.

However, I never had that serious sit down with my parents (if you’re reading this – sorry, Mom and Dad!) where I look them in the eye and tell this deep dark secret that I’ve been hiding for years and wait to see if I still have their approval. It’s not like that for me – it wasn’t something I was ever “hiding”, it was something I was still figuring out. I also don’t need anyone’s approval about it, not that I think anyone would really have an issue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about telling them in some way that was maybe more casual, but it’s been hard for me to conceptualize the right words. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with the word “bisexual” (watch the Hulu show, The Bisexual), and I think this could be potentially difficult to navigate with my parents. That being said, I want to be open and honest with my family. I would also feel bad if they were to learn about it from someone that wasn’t me, making them feel sad that I wasn’t the one to tell them. Maybe I’m dealing with having some feelings of guilt or something, that’s for my therapist to figure out. The point is that I have gotten to a place now where I would like them to know.

So, instead of coming out in some formal way, I’ve been passive aggressively reposting outwardly bisexual things to my Instagram story and allowing my family to view them. Not kidding – my parents both have Instagrams and see everything that I post and I’ve just been making it semi/extremely obvious:

 

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Am I being too subtle?

So yeah, that’s my experience so far. To be honest, I feel pretty good about it overall. And I’m excited about what is to come in the future.

Thanks for reading!