Musings, Inspirations, and Adventures


I intend this blog to be a safe and inspiring space for me to share and express myself intentionally and without the noise and not-so-fun side of social media. I also intend it to be a living, breathing, ongoing conversation. I welcome your thoughts, questions, and even your disagreements…let’s connect, share ideas, explore the world, and this thing called life together!

Wanderlust 2009

I went, I saw, I conquered ;-) The 1st annual Wanderlust Festival lived up to my wildest expectations and then some…I have been on a cloud since returning last Monday, so I have yet to post up my pics – but stay tuned. In the meantime, here are a couple of cool links to give you a sense of what you missed:

A Piece of my Childhood Died Today…

Michael Jackson is dead. So sudden, and so wierd – shouldn’t really surprise any one I guess…yet I am immensely sad and shocked right now. Just like everyone else, I had become jaded and creeped out by him towards the end. But I think I had separated him into two different people. The Michael of recent years was not the same Michael I grew up worshipping and transfixed by in the 80’s and 90’s. The one who gave the world so much AMAZING music, paradigm-shifting performances, inspiration, and genuine love. The Philanthropist and soft-spoken activist who transfixed everyone – it didn’t matter who you were – with his one-of-a-kind talent. He was a truly gifted performer…often imitated but never equaled.

There’s a part of me that always felt like I “knew” him somehow. When I was a kid I swore we were destined to meet one day. Sounds silly maybe, but aside from being the most famous man on earth, there was also the fact that Neverland Ranch was 5 miles away from my house my entire childhood. He was my neighbor ;-) I remember legends of his brief appearances in downtown Solvang and how I would dream of someday seeing him in person. When my mom told me he had come into her store, I hyperventilated at the mere thought! I think there’s also something about celebrities from your youth – it affects you so much more when they pass on…something about the innocence of childhood, that we just appreciate them and their talents in a raw and honest way. He is part of so many beautiful memories, and his songs are more than just music – they are like a soundtrack of an entire generation. There was also an intuitive knowing that he was such a sad, lonely, haunted, and pained soul. How could any one be “normal” living such an abnormal life?? He was put to work at age 4, and mentally, emotionally and physically abused by his father. It breaks my heart to see any one who is not allowed a childhood. I am saddened by the dispicable comments I keep reading on the internet about him – a clue into how truly ugly human beings can be. I can only get a sense of the ugliness in people he must have seen and felt in his lifetime. I cry thinking that humanity was his biggest abuser of all. No one will ever know what being Michael Jackson was like except for Michael Jackson, and I just feel immensely sorry for him, and for those closest to him.

Aside from all of that – the truth is that Michael Jackson was a unique and gifted human being like we have rarely seen before. Never will be another like him. Say what you will about his personal life, the man touched people and hit nerves that only he could. He inspired any one who ever saw him perform. The reaction to his death is unprecedented – I am shocked and surprised at the intensity of my own. He was an icon that touched so many souls in a profound way. Today we are all feeling the impact of his loss – even the ones that had forgotten how much they cared. I am mourning his death, but I think I’m also mourning part of that innocent era that I so fondly remember growing up. When symbols of a generation pass on – it strikes a painful chord. I miss the 80’s sometimes, and I freak out when I think they were 20+ years ago…seems surreal. Events like this make me feel like I don’t fit into this world today. A world without Micheal Jackson seems strange; even stranger than his overly-destructed nose and ghostly white skin of latter years.

I choose to continue remembering the Michael I fell in love with as a child. Sitting here watching his videos and smiling, I remember him at the peak of his fame – before the drama and cruel speculations. I remember when he was speaking out about causes ahead of his time and making positive change in the world before it was a P.R. move. I will always remember his sweet face that brought so much happiness to people as a member of the Jackson 5, feeling a tug at my heart as he showed us how much hunger was out there in the world, and grooving to his timeless songs at every moment of celebration throughout my entire life – which I have no doubt I will continue to do ;-)

A great and talented enetertainer died today, and took with him a piece of my childhood. Rest in Peace Michael, may you find some at last…

Some of my Favorite Michael Jackson Songs:

Man In the Mirror
Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough
Another Part of Me
Liberian Girl
Working Day & Night

I am an American Woman Now!!! ;-)

 Today, at the age of 29, after almost 28 years in the United States, I finally became an American Citizen. Am I a procrastinator or what??? ;-p It’s a little anti-climactic, but gratifying and exciting just the same. I’m very proud of myself actually – it hasn’t been an easy road (for those who know the drama I’ve been through) but I didn’t let it stop me! I had 3 main goals that I set for myself for the year when I got back from Peru – and now I can check this one off the list!

But most importantly, I will sleep soundly knowing I am finally free from the threat of La MIGRA!!! ;-) Ay Carajo!!!


Lots of activity as of late – one of those moments in time that feel like you’re in a big dust storm and you can’t really make anything out; you know the dust will settle soon, but you have no idea when. I also realize that a dust storm creates a “refresh” and brings in new energy, ideas and possibilities. Transitioning back from my trip to Peru was tough – I was full of inspirations and new ideas for how I wanted to be in the world and what really mattered for a happy, fulfilled life; yet felt stuck by the reality that there was “unfinished business” in my current life that needed to get taken care of before I could really throw myself out there freely. Travel and family are two priorities that have been life-long passions, yet have been brushed aside for other objectives (career, school, financial stability) over the last few years. I am challenging the belief that in order to achieve my career and educational goals – I will have to sacrifice either of those two.

Recently I have come to realize that I am at an inflection point – similar to ones I have been through at various times in my life – like at 25 when you realize you’re no longer 21 and the people and lifestyle you have surrounded yourself with are no longer satisfying you or making you better. When I started at Emergent Solutions, I was challenged to grow in ways I could never have imagined. I have evolved personally and professionally in exponential ways – and I know that I am truly blessed. This inflection point feels like “growing pains” – like there are some remaining layers of old skin that need to be sloughed off for me to freely step into the next chapter of my life. These layers are in the form of negative self-limiting beliefs, self destructive/non-constructive habits, relationships that are not enhancing my best qualities, and general FEAR.

I am in “search” mode – reaching out for resources, answers, and examples of people and organizations that are doing the sorts of work and living the lifestyle I have always dreamed of. I believe that when you put it out in the universe that you need some help – you better be ready to start picking up on the signs, clues, and resources that will start presenting themselves to you. The universe has been telling me to FOCUS and that word has come up for me a lot lately – around going to school, figuring out what my goals are, and deciding what it is I really want to manifest – so that I can focus all of my energy to that and not let it get wasted and dispersed to other unimportant activities or people. I realized that one of my weaknesses is my negative self talk. I have done a lot of personal growth and development, and I believe a disciplined mind is capable of so much. I started working with a hypnotherapist and she has been great – it has been a refreshing change from the standard therapy I had gone through a year ago, and is helping me realize a lot of the root causes for some of my behavior and beliefs, and reframing past negative experiences so that I can heal and move on from them. I felt like I was in a rut – and while it is not an immediate/quick fix – it is helping me slowly but surely start to see what I need to do to get out of it.

I told myself that I wanted to be a Yoga instructor – but I kept talking about it like it was some far off goal that I was not “ready” for. So I decided to challenge that belief and applied for Yoga Kula’s Anusara Immersion Program and lo and behold – I was accepted ;-) This is a 108 hour program that is essentially the first Phase towards achieving an Anusara Yoga teacher certification – and will undoubtedly be a life changing experience. I can’t begin to express how excited I am to see the growth in my yoga practice, my spirituality, my self confidence, and to be surrounded by such beautiful, evolved and radiant people. This is a huge learning edge for me – a little scary, but I know it will be amazing. My goal is to be certified by this time next year – so that I can start taking groups on yoga retreats to Cusco and other amazing places. Yoga has opened the door to so much healing and enlightenment and I can’t wait to be able to share that gift with others…and getting paid to do that and travel would be like icing on the cake ;-)

I have also recently been introduced to The Silva Method – which I am super excited to learn more about. I’m doing a 9-Day online training called “TheUnlimited You” which works with their fundamental principals for how to use Meditation, Visualisation and positive affirmations to bring about positive change in your life. Cool stuff.

Last but not least – I was sent an email today titled “FinerMinds – Welcome to the first day of your new childhood”. Intrigued, I opened it, and followed the link to the website of an organization called MindValley. Let’s just say that as I browsed around the site and watched a couple of videos – it became clear that it was no coincidence this came across my path at precisely this time. Check out the video below and you’ll see what I mean:

This post is incredibly after-the-fact, however, I feel I still need to post something! I was in Peru – the land of my birth – from 12/15/08 – 1/10/09 for the first time in 12 years. I was able to fit in so much, yet still had so much left to do… No stress though – only more reason to go back as soon as possible. Peru is a magical country, and it was amazing to get to connect with my true peeps, and with family I hadn’t seen in far too long. Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu were magical – beyond words. I have never felt so human, so alive, and so connected to everything…

I created a separate travelblog to share my experience and pictures from my nearly month long trip to Peru with family, friends and any one else who may be interested for any reason somewhere down the road. I decided to use Travelpod since their blogging tools are specific to traveling and I liked the format. The process of putting the blog together was great – as a diary and to help me try to process all that I experienced; which has been life changing on so many levels.

I put it together once I returned, because to be honest, there was no way I was going to rob myself of one minute of being there, being fully present and soaking in the country and my family and friends by stressing over keeping up with a Blog. So, I posted it up retroactively and that is ok. ;-) Hope you all enjoy… xo

I also posted up just the pics on Picasa:

Cusco Pics:

Lima Pics:

Return to Cusco

Return to Cusco
Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru

I decided to make an impromptu trip back to Cusco for what was supposed to only be three days, but ended up being 5 ;-) I hate to admit that I actually got sick with “soroche” aka alitude sickness -what a mean, unfortunate experience that was….I walked around Cusco city and saw some beautiful sights, then I tried to be a “trooper” and head out to some of the clubs later in the nigth and regretted it like I’ve never regretted anything in my life. I went to Mama Afrika which is “the place to be” in Cusco, so I assumed I would have a blast – however, I was annoyed at the fact that the place cost 15 soles to get into, and was packed beyond belief with people, to the point that I couldn’t breathe…besides the fact that almost everyone was smoking cigarettes so the only oxygen available was completely sucked out of the room…I left my group to go to the restroom, and made it halfway before I felt the world spinning around me and my face immediately flush. I needed fresh air, but had no idea how I was going to get through the crowd in time. I don’t know how I made it to the bathroom. but once I did, I was able to feel slightly human again and well enough to grab my coat and make it outside…I walked to my hostel a little tired, and a lot relieved!! The next day was a beautiful time in Cusco – I was thankfully no longer sick, so Pamela and I headed out into Cusco city and explored some of the main city. We went to the Inca Museum which was so beautiful yet did a good job of making me resent my spanish ancestors ;-( We met up with Beto and her friends in a “local” part of Cusco at a Rodizio restaurant called “El Carbon” that was absolutely excellent and cost us 35 soles for a delicious and incerdibly delicious buffet meat lunch. GOOD TIMES!! I was so relieved to find out that my stomach was now behaving. so…. That night was going to be my last night in cusco (potentially) so I was excited to go out and see the city! however, my cousin ended up getting sick, so she bailed on me!! ;-) It ended up being ok, since it forced me to go out and enjoy the city on my own, so I walked all over the city looking for a place to eat and drink – and found my way back to Incanto off of the Plaza de Armas and had one of the best Pizzas and Pisco Sours of my entire trip! After that, I went to Paddy’s a few doors away, out of nostalgia mostly, but ended up meeting a great new friend David while I was there. We had a great time and got to catch up with Lauren – the other bartender, who was so nice and had such an interesting history…. The next day I went back to Pisac – lots of exploring to do for my mom – it was so beautiful the first time that I couldn’t leave Cusco without going back again! The Market was incredible! I found everything and everyone I was looking for and then some! As we were leaving, I looked back and realized I could seriously see myself living here and doing this kind of business for the rest of my life! Then I parted ways with Pamela – she was go go back to Cusco and catch a plane to Lima later that afternoon, and I was to drive into Ollantaytambo and try to meet up with Aiden to catch a 3:00 bull fight! I made it to Ollantaytambo, thankfully by 1:00, so plenty of time for the bull fight…found Aiden’s hostel and thankfully Aiden himself followed shortly. We decided to relax and grab a bite to eat at a great little spot called Heart’s Cafe – Inspiring history of the owner and her calling to this magical land…then head into the center of town to follow the procession down to the bull fight. To say it was magical would be an injustice. We had such a blast! We met so many local folks – all eager to share their local pride and knowledge with us, some even eager to hand us free beer in reference to their appreciation and pride of their town. We appreciated and accepted all of their generosity! ;-) I showed Aiden around my uncle’s hotel – the Pakaritampu, enjoyed a Cuzquena and headed into town for a lovely dinner at KP Tambo – very quaint, cozy restaurant and hostel. I had the best Lomo Saltado of my entire trip…great vibe, great service, great meal, and great company ;-) After dinner we headed out on the town – assuming there would be a plethora of festivities to choose from, and soon realizing that the locals had taken their festivities up the mountain and away from the main part of town. Aiden and I contemplated making the trek, and decided we were not that brave ;-) We ended up stopping by a quiet little spot closer to the ruins called Quechua Blues Bar Cafe -ironically playing reggae music. Had a beer and chatted with the friendly bartendress who recommended we check out the local “Club”. So we headed to the club, ended up making a few friends who all worked for PeruRail and were incredibly generous and very sweet.

New Year’s with Navy Boys!! ;-)

New Year's with Navy Boys!! ;-)
Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru

The days leading up to New Years were spent connecting with family members and going out in Lima. My cousin took me to Larcomar in Miraflores for the first time – it is a boardwalk type mall that overlooks the coast of Miraflores and the beach and is absolutely gorgeous. There are the best of the best stores and restaurants, a movie theater, and tons of things to entertain you. We met up with some old college friends of my cousin’s and went to a restaurant called La Dama Juana – they had a live show featuring various styles of Peruvian traditional dances from the different regions. The food was Criollo – my favorite!! I decided to go for the buffet so I could sample all of the incredible dishes I haven’t had in many, many years – Arroz con Pollo, Causa, Ceviche, Carrapulcra, etc etc…SO GOOD!!! The show was incredible – I saw dances from the Sierras/Andes region that I had never seen, and some Afro-Peruvian dancing (Negroide) that I love. Fun night and would recommend any one check that place out when visiting Lima. My cousin Carlo Mario is in the Peruvian Navy – and I was honored that he asked me to be his date for the Navy’s New Year extravaganza at the Naval Center in Lima. This year was the year he earned his next stripes, and tradition is that the official ceremony where they change the shoulder boards happens at the New Year’s party. It was my role as his date to do the official change of stripes – and I completed my mission like a champ! My cousin looked so handsome and the Naval center was absolutely breathtaking. The party was amazing – a live 12 person band that played all the best music and had the party poppin’ all night! The theme was a bit of circus/carnival so there were jugglers, men on stilts and huge 12 foot masks walking around keeping everyone entertained. All of my cousins Navy buddies were so nice and I had a blast dancing the night away…we left around 5:30 AM – totally content and totally tired. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! ;-)

The Beach – Mar Adentro, Lima

The Beach – Mar Adentro, Lima
Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru

I finally got to go to the beach ;-) And what a beach it was…in Lima, the beach during the summer is not just an option – it’s a way of life. I am lucky that the majority of my family owns beach houses, so I am completely spoiled! The coast south of Lima is pretty much one beach after another – along the Panamerica Freeway that is referenced by how many kilometers they are from Lima. My aunt Cucu’s beach house is on a beach called Mar Adentro that is approximately 100 kilometers from Lima and is absolutely gorgeous. The first day was a combination of eating fabulous food, laying out on the beach and swimming in amazingly clear, warm ocean water. The menu included home-made ceviche, bbq and amazing desserts, and of course – rum and cokes ;-) I was absolutely exhausted after being out all night with my uncle Andres et al in Barranco, so I decided to take a little nap around 8:00 with every intention to wake up in a couple of hours and head to the main center in Asia (the beach town) with my cousin Carlo Mario so he could show me the night life. I had heard how much fun the clubs in Asia are, but unfortunately, that was not enough to wake me from a well-needed sleep ;-) I woke up around 1:00 AM; totally rested, but bummed that I had slept the night away. I was surprised that Carlo Mario had not woken me up – but found out from my aunt that he had also fallen asleep shortly after me. I quietly walked into the kitchen for a glass of water and there was Carlo Mario doing the same ;-) We laughed and decided to have a night cap outside watching the ocean. We ended up talking and drinking scotch until 5 AM – 4 hours of quality catching up and getting to know each other for the first time in 12 years. All the while listening to the ocean waves crashing on the shore….ahhhh! The next day we all shared a delicious breakfast and Carlo Mario and I took a two hour walk on the beach – exploring the caves and watching the dolphins that were swiming insanely close to the shore! Then we headed to the pool area (yes, a pool area on the beach!) to eat some Conchas a la Parmesana (Parmesan crusted Scallops – yum!!) at the clubhouse and hang out by the pool. The rest of the day was spent laying out on the beach, playing poker with Mamama and Aunt Chabu, and eating. TOUGH LIFE!! I did not want to leave, but we had to head back to Lima so we left around 4:00. What an incredible weekend – if I lived in Peru, I would never leave the beach ;-) Note to self – save up and buy a beach house in Lima!! Here’s more info on Mar Adentro for any one who wants to do the same ;-) l

Cusco Day 4 – Cathedral, Pisac, Sacsayhuaman,Cusco

Cusco Day 4 – Cathedral, Pisac, Sacsayhuaman,Cusco
Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru

Sunday in Cusco city is full of life – markets, local children dancing in the Plaza de Armas, and lots of activity. I decided it would be a good day to check out the Cathedral – not only to be a good Catholic, but also to take advantage of not having to pay 25 soles to see it (wow, that makes me sound horrible!!) It was a beautiful mass and the inside of the Cathedral is like entering a colonial art museum. The works of art are massive in scale and gorgeous pieces from the Cusco School. The Choir is amazing – it is directly in front of the altar and is carved in cedar wood with a very complex baroque style. It has carved images of 42 male Saints of the Catholic Church from all over the world and on the upper side 38 female Saints and Virgins. Gorgeous. But my favorite piece was the famous last supper depicted in Cusco style showing Christ and the Apostles having a Cuy (Guinea Pig) in with a glass of Chicha. So perfect ;-) After mass, I went to grab a taxi to Pisac so I could visit the Pisac Market. I took a “Taxi de Estacion” (Collection Taxi) which meant we had to wait for it to fill before we could leave, so it was a bit annoying having to wait 30 minutes, and to have to share a toyota station wagon with 7 other people – but hey, for 7 Soles, I couldn’t complain. The drive to Pisac is gorgeous, and when we got to the market – I didn’t know where to start! There were so many booths and vendors, I was a bit overwhelmed at first, but I somehow managed to see most of it and get a few things for myself and as gifts. The best part of the trip was enjoying my first Choclo (Corn on the Cob) which I had been looking forward to since arriving in Cusco. It did not disappoint – DELICIOUS!! After making my way through the entire market, I found a cool looking restaurant/art gallery serving healthy, organic food – so I headed in and enjoyed a stuffed avocado with rice and fresh salad – it was so good! I headed to the front of town to find a taxi and head back to Cusco, and met a taxista names Juan who recommended I check out the Pisac ruins before heading back. I am so grateful I took his advice – I had not heard much about the ruins at Pisac, which is shocking to me considering how impressive they are. Juan drove me up the backside of the mountain to the top of the mountain and helped me find a guide, since I didn’t know much about the ruins. My guide’s name was Eduardo, and he was born and raised in one of the small towns in the valley below Pisac, so he was extremely knowledgeable about the area, its history, and the significance of the ruins. Before starting our trek, I sat and chatted with a young girl who was weaving belts and purchased one from her – she was also born and raised in Pisac and is learning spanish so that she can go to school and earn more money for her family. She was beautiful ;-) I stopped at the ritual bathing fountains to “purify myself” before entering the ruins – this is where visitors from across the empire would cleanse themselves of any negative energy/spirits. The ruins were amazing – as were the incredible views of the valley from the top. After seeing The Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Moon and Intihuatana, I started to get a deeper sense of the intricacy and interconnectedness of all the Inca ruins. It is truly fascinating to see how each location had its own specific function – yet was part of a larger design. I left Pisac in total bliss – and the ride back to Cusco was gorgeous. We neared Cusco right before sunset, just in time to stop at Sacsayhuaman and visit these beautiful ruins.

Claudia MirĂ³

A journey of blogging, traveling, and creative living.

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