Talking to the trees. Healing with Ayahuasca.

“My Ayahuasca experience definitely gave me clarity. I was able to see myself as a child, abandoned and afraid but fearless and ready to take on challenge after challenge. I was able to tell myself how proud I am for making it this far.”

Welcome to Tarapoto, Peru

When I first arrived in Tarapoto, Peru I was mesmerized by the people, they are some hustling individuals. I love it! The moto-taxi drivers are eager to get you to your destination so I picked a young man that understood and spoke english and off we went to find the Bed and Breakfast. There I will meet up with the rest of the group of eight veterans, perfect strangers all on a mission to heal. Little did I know I was about add on to my family.

Zygo Bed and Breakfast,33i99.html

Day 1

The following morning we are picked up by our Guide, Vlad and our yoga instructor, Claire. It’s a quick twenty minute drive to La Medicina, the retreat where we will be staying in the Peruvian jungle. The levels of anxiety I am experiencing at this time is at an all time high because I have no idea what awaits me the next six days but I am optimistic to say the least. Whooooo hoo, lets get it!

Arrival at La Medicina

When we arrive at La Medicina I am surrounded by these beautiful sounds of the jungle. All I can hear for days is insects, birds, monkeys, owls etc. The sounds are constant and took me a few days to get used to for they are very loud like an alarm that never stops. The grounds are very well maintained and our casita (that’s what I called it) was very clean and cozy.

Once we are settled in our rooms, we head over to meet the healers and receive our first flower bath before lunch. In the Peruvian shamanic tradition, flower baths are used before an Ayahuasca ceremony to rid the body of any unhelpful spirits or energetic blockages that would otherwise impair us from healing and receiving the full benefit from the sacred plant medicines. It is best to air dry after these baths and wait several hours before showering or bathing after this. We each receive one daily prior to starting a ceremony. There was something very tender about the cool water streaming down your face that gave me a sense a peace.

Let talk food!

Now that I have been showered with fresh marigolds and other fragrant flowers its time to eat! The food was prepared three times daily with fresh plant based ingredients. Absolutely delicious and made with love and care. I don’t think I’ve ever ate so well in my life. Why plant-based? It supports your immune system. Plants have essential nutrients that you cannot get from other foods. The vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants in plants help keep your cells healthy and your body in balance so that your immune system can function at its best. This was an important part of preparing your body for the medicine.

Day two

Lets all throw up together…Yes, Vomitivos: On the first morning you wake up you will participate in a vomitivo. This technique is used by the Shipibo to cleanse the body, stomach and intestinal track prior to working with Ayahuasca. The vomitivos are made purely with Herba Luisa (lemongrass) and consist of drinking a ton of lemongrass water until the body naturally regurgitates this back up. (It doesn’t sound pleasant, but I felt great and more clear after this was over.) After this we ate lunch, discussed the ceremony protocols and prepped for Yoga with Claire. After yoga we rested for about two hours and then prepared for our first ceremony.

Our Yoga instructor, Claire.

Ceremony One

There’s a nervous collective energy. Almost everyone here is doing ayahuasca for the first time, and Im scared shitless. The Guide announces the first call to drink, me..Im first. One by one, we take our shot glasses, silently reflect on the intention for the evening, and then drink.

The stuff is nasty, like a cup of motor oil diluted with a splash of water. I throw it back like a shot of tequila.

We’re instructed to sit up and lean against the wall after we drink. The tea takes at least 30 minutes to work its way through the body. I sit quietly and wait.

I feel a little dizzy but nothing overwhelming. About 30 minutes pass, and I start to feel … strange. I can see colors, shapes, and shifting shadows on the wall. I look outside and I swear the trees turned into people. So I start talking to the trees. I had a whole conversation with the fucking trees, whoa!

Inside the loud, stuffy ceremony room, people were crying, chanting, gyrating, and, yes, vomiting, around me. When my time finally comes, I think: Just aim for the bucket and keep your ass on your mat. I had to go to the bathroom several times due to the urge to take a ____, I’m sure you can figure that one out.

Meanwhile the healers are singing Icaros: Icaros are the healing songs of the plants and the healers act as vessels for these songs to come through in ceremony. Very often these songs can help to open up a person’s experience in working with Ayahuasca or induce a cleansing type of purging.  Each person received an icaro from both healers during each ceremony.

I finish vomiting and start crying and laughing and smiling all at once. Something has been lifted in this “purge,” something dark and deep I was carrying around for decades. Relief washes over me, and I lay down and close my eyes only to see the most beautiful vibrant colors, hexagons, eyes and cosmic scenery. Ayahuasca exposes the gap between who you think you are and who you actually are. In my case, the gap was immense, and the pain of seeing it for the first time was practically unbearable. I wept my entire first ceremony as I grieved all the loses in my life. Most importantly my childhood innocence that was taken from me at age eight.

Day two

I woke up the next day with an overwhelming feeling of sadness. I was very teary throughout the day as I replayed the moments from the previous nights ceremony. Seeing myself as a child was difficult but necessary to move forward. It no longer serves me to carry this pain. It was time to let it go.

Our day starts with yoga, then breakfast. After breakfast we meet individually with the Guide and the healers to discuss our first experience. During my consult I shared how I was feeling so the healers know how much medicine to give me during ceremony two.

The Healers

Ceremony two

As I approached the healers and Guide with my shot glass I can’t help but think “holy shit, I’m in freakin South America” I still can’t believe I’m in another country facing my demons. This is an overwhelming feeling but has a calming effect at the same time. I thank the lady healer for the medicine and am handed some tobacco from the Guide . I return to my mat and wait quietly as the room is filled with darkness.

I do not own the rights to this photo. This was taken from the internet for visual of what a ceremony traditionally looks like. I did not take any photos while in ceremony.

Watching all the silhouettes around the room as they purged made me realize something about trauma, we all have it. It’s just stored differently inside each of us. Up until this moment I had thought that the men who raised me into adulthood

Twenty five feet away from me one of the male veterans started experiencing what looked like an exorcism. He was screaming in a language I couldn’t understand and slamming his legs on the ground. I looked outside to the silhouette of the trees who have taken human form once again. The trees start speaking to me again. “Sit up straight, focus, you are brave” they tell me. Do not be afraid, stay alert. I sat and watched as my brother in arms released generations of trauma. We are told not to speak but something kept telling me to say “let it out, be brave, it’s ok” over and over. So much chaos around me and yet I was very calm and peaceful watching and listening to the worry that filled the room. The Guide, Vlad came over to me and gently touched my arm and asked “are you doing ok? I looked up at him and saw his gentle eyes and said “yes, I think so” he responded “you don’t have speak, it’s going to be ok”. There was something in that moment that made me feel safe and my need to comfort my battle buddy in the distance ceased. I wasn’t afraid, I felt confident that everything was indeed going to be alright. Thanks, Vlad.

Our fearless Guide, Vlad

Ceremony Three

When I received my medicine, I held onto it just a little while longer before slamming it like a shot of tequila. I wanted to be sure my intentions were clear. There’s something very calming about the very last ceremony, the room felt more calm in general. I sat in silence and stared outside at the trees, I saw my military leadership. This was a big deal to me, the most pain I carry is because of the betrayal I faced in my final years of the Military. There aren’t enough words to explain what it’s like to have to walk away from what’s familiar because you are forced to, while trusting what’s next will offer a relief. It’s lonely to lose your anchors. But the medicine taught me that it’s brave to want more. I asked for healing from this pain because its stolen the joy I once had. Ive held on to this trauma like a toddler with a pacifier. I need to let go, it no longer serves me. So that’s just what I did. Deep breathe in – Deep breathe out. The healing continues.

Thanks for joining me on my healing adventure to Peru.

Roberta, the fashionista Sloth and I met on my second day. It has been a childhood dream to see one in person so this definitely made my day.

Thank you to Heroic Hearts Project for making this possible as well as Danny and Brenda Edmondson for their generosity.

All photos used for this blog post (with the exception of one) are mine and are not to be used without my permission.

Hello, Ireland!

Traveling to Ireland for Spring break was definitely an adventure I’d love to repeat. The 14 hour flight from Albuquerque, New Mexico wasn’t very exciting but well worth the adventures that followed.

As this was my first trip to Ireland, I can tell you to expect a warm welcome, gorgeous scenery, interesting ruins, fun and friendly locals, a relaxed atmosphere, and a lot of rain.

Ireland is a place where you can fill your days with outdoor adventures and hours of sightseeing, but it’ll also tempt you to slow down and soak up the natural beauty and inviting culture.

The Temple Bar, Dublin

The Temple Bar is quite possibly one of the most iconic bars in all of Dublin, with tourists flocking from all over the world to have a drink inside its famous walls. I’m not a beer or whiskey gal so I opted for fresh Oysters and and an Irish Coffee. Although the history of the bar dates back to the early 1300s, it still remains popular to this day due to its famous red exterior, its great location in the heart of the city, as well as being a huge part of Dublin’s central nightlife scene.

Take a Tour of the Old Jameson Distillery

Another historical gem is the Old Jameson Distillery, located just off Smithfield Square. This location previously used to be the original site where Jameson whiskey was manufactured and distilled until it stopped production in the early 1970s. Although I am not a fan of whiskey, I was rather intrigued by the process in which this solution is made (pun intended). This tour of the old distillery will take you through the history and process of creating the refined whiskey, along with the unique opportunity to take part in a comparative whiskey-tasting experience. At the end of the tour, you will be given a drink coupon to indulge in the greatness, I chose a Jameson and Ginger ale which is now one of my favorite cocktails.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Known as the largest church in all of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is actually one of two cathedrals that were built on Dublin soil. However, St. Patcrick’s Cathedral still remains the most popular of the two when it comes to tourists. A brilliant architectural wonder, its beauty can be noticed both inside and out although I didn’t get to see the inside due to services being in session. The cathedral was originally founded in 1191 and is the final resting place of Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s travels and Dean of the Cathedral (according to the sign outside).

The Cliffs of Moher

Another spectacular trip that awaits you just beyond the city is a tour of the marvelous Cliffs of Moher. These natural wonders have also been used for various film shoots, such as Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and The Princess Bride, and are an absolute breathtaking experience to view in person.

The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most recognizable landmarks. Finally seeing them in person was one of the things I was most looking forward to on my trip to Ireland!

The Cliffs of Moher stretch over 8 miles along the western coast of Ireland. They tower above the Atlantic Ocean, reaching over 702 feet at their highest point.

The Visitor Center is located at the midpoint of the cliffs, which is also the highest point. If you’re short on time and just want to see the most recognizable view of the cliffs, you can do that from here.

Giants Causeway

This spectacular rock formation on the coast of Northern Ireland. It is an area of about 40,000+ hexagonal columns rising out of the sea. The unique look of the causeway was formed by an intense ancient volcanic eruption. Or if you’d prefer to believe the legend which was told by our awesome tour guide, the columns are the remains of a causeway (bridge) built by an Irish giant named Finn MacCool to connect Ireland and Scotland.

Giant’s Causeway is free (without a guide) to visit and is always open. However it can get super busy during the day, and knowing where to park can be confusing. We found an official parking lot for the Visitor Center. Parking costs around £10.00 per person (not per vehicle, per person) and gives you access to a museum about how the causeway was formed. However you can visit the causeway for free without visiting the museum.

After exploring the causeway, there is a hiking trail you can take that follows along the upper cliffs of the coast, giving you a panoramic view down onto the causeway.

The Book of Kells

I had heard about the Trinity College Library from friends but never thought I’d actually see the inside. We didn’t spend much time in Dublin, but I’m glad we made time to see this beautiful establishment.

It’s more than just a place for book lovers, the Book of Kells exhibit at Trinity College is an interesting lesson in art, history, and religion.  And if that is not enough, the Long Room upstairs is just visually stunning and filled with so many amazing books. Books on books, these books have books!

You don’t get to see the Book of Kells right away.  You have to go through the exhibit which helps you appreciate the book and learn some Book of Kells facts.  

First, you learn about how the Book of Kells was made.  I hadn’t thought about it before but obviously, they don’t have the tools that we do now to be able to make books.  They actually used 185 calf skins to make the pages.  They were very resourceful and used various things such as gypsum, green clay, and indigo indigotin to get the colors that they needed.

The Blarney Castle, County Cork, Ireland

One of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions is the Blarney Castle, a medieval stronghold in Blarney. I still can’t believe that people from all over the world come to this old castle to climb to the top and kiss its famous Blarney Stone. The reason people kiss the stone is to ‘gain the gift of eloquence’, though I’m still not entirely sure how kissing a stone can make someone eloquent.

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Yes, this is it. literally…

Me, kiss the stone…. I did not. I have no interest in putting my mouth on a rock that has seen millions of mouths. No thanks, hard pass.

To kiss the Blarney Stone, you actually have to lean backwards and grab the iron railing. There is a man there to hold you and keep the line moving. There are also railings under the stone for an additional layer of safety.

Waterford Crystal Factory

Waterford Crystal is known throughout the world as a premiere brand and it’s my name, so of course I went to see it. It’s used for famous occasions, well known trophies and glassware for royalty. You can see first-hand how the crystal gets made in a tour that takes visitors through every phase of the process, including watching master craftsmen put cuts in to the pieces that make for unique designs. When you’re done, there is a showroom on hand to buy your own souvenir. Don’t worry about having it break in your luggage; you can arrange to have them ship it home.

Well folks, thats all I got for you this trip. Thanks for joining along for my Ireland adventure.

All photos used for this blog post are mine and are not to be used without my permission.

Athleisure, please!


I’m sure you all have noticed that “athleisure” is (and has been) a HUGE trend right now and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I mean, I’m totally down with wearing leggings and sneakers ALL day!  Of course it’s fun to get dressed up but I also love incorporating my workout clothes into my everyday wardrobe.  When I’m looking for new active wear I always head straight to Nordstrom. I’ve been buying my active wear from Nordstrom for years and I always know their selection will be awesome and have amazing quality. I bought this Adidas crop hoodie from Nordstrom a week ago and have been wearing it like crazy! I love that the old-school Adidas logo is totally back in now and I am completely in love with this geometric panel vibe.   I bought a size x-small for reference, it does have a slightly over-sized fit! I paired it with a pair black Adidas sweatpants similar to these I’m wearing a size small in these for reference. Finally, how cute are these Adidas Swift Run J sneaks?!  I’ve got a small foot so I’m able to save about $15 and get them in a kids size 5, SCORE!

Thanks for stopping by…



Petite, Chic and Magnifique!

There’s nothing better than owning a flattering dress you can simply throw on and quickly head out the door feeling great—the fit is flawless and the design flatters your figure at every angle. Sounds great, right? But if you have a smaller frame, you can vouch that finding just the right dress can take a lot of searching.

After research, experience, and lots of shopping, I know that, in general, styles that are cinched at the waist, hemmed to hit above the knee, or have a plunging neckline work best.

You can find this Eliza J dress on or click the link below.


Morocco is home to beautiful nature, exotic ancient cities and some and the world’s best food. If you haven’t been there yet maybe this little list of amazing things to do in Morocco will convince you to plan that trip!


Medinas of Fez, Morocco

One of the first things I see as I walk down the main street of the old medina here in the Moroccan city of Fez is this feathery fellow.  Quite an introduction! Moments later, he’s getting his head chopped off….The other birds in the shop seem not to have noticed the death of their friend, or perhaps they just don’t understand. There’s no fuss from them even though their lives can surely be counted only in minutes.

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It feels rough and raw – but I guess that’s because I’m comparing the Fez medina to the cities where I grew up. Outside the walls of this old part of town, things are a bit more relatable. But when you’re inside them – in the crooked alleyways with just glimpses of sunlight, smoke billowing up from stoves, the glow of lamps reaching out from stalls – you lose perspective of time.

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Not just the amount of time you have been wandering through the enormous labyrinth – and it’s certainly easy to lose track of that. But also the medina’s position in the timeline of Morocco’s culture. It may be 2017 as I wander through the souks and residential areas but, in many ways, it could be any century from the past millennium.

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The Medina of Fez was founded in the 9th century at around the same time that Islam arrived in Morocco and the imperial rule that would create this country.  It grew in the 12th and 13th centuries to about the size that it is today.

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Fez was the capital of Morocco until 1912 and, although political power may have moved to Rabat, this still feels like the cultural and spiritual centre of the country. It has an energy that is inescapable that comes as much from the buildings as it does the people.

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I wonder how different the behaviour is here these days compared to hundreds of years ago. I suspect not too much. It’s one of the reasons I find it so hard to place the medina of Fez in a particular place in time. The donkeys that walk up the steps carrying goods to shops have probably always done that; the men sitting and smoking on wooden stools in front of their carpet shops would never have look out of place; the markets full of fruits and vegetables on the outer edge of the city wall has probably always been just as busy.

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The Moroccan Hybrid

In one small square, men sit on stools outside banging copper into place as they make pots in front of the crowds rushing past.

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I peek through a wooden door that I’m passing and see workers with large looms creating beautiful scarves and rugs.

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Loom weaver operating a horizontal wooden hand loom in a cloth shop in Fez, Morocco

Follow the right little alleyways and you’ll come across the infamous tanneries where the animal skins are treated in the open air and plain view.  The smell is horrible so when someone offers you a mint leaf to shove up your nose, take it!


This is Chouara, an 11th-century tannery that still operates as it did a thousand years ago.  Tannery workers plunge the skins into the colored wells, leaving them there for a few more days to absorb each hue. The dyes all come from natural substances, such as indigo, henna, saffron, poppies, and pomegranates.

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This is where the process begins. The raw skins are being soaked in a mixture of cow urine, pigeon feces (yup, shit) quicklime, salt and water.  This loosens the hair from the hides and makes them softer.

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Cow, sheep, goat and camel hides are brought here to be preserved, dyed and turned into handbags, jackets and wallets.

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We were shown around by Mohammad, a guide arranged through the owner of our Riad.

On to Casablanca, Morocco

The number one attraction in Casablanca is the Hassan II Mosque.

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Completed in 1993, the 210 meters (689 feet) mosque rises above the Atlantic Ocean which you can also see through the glass floor inside the magnificent building. It welcomes 105,000 worshippers for prayers at once. The walls are made from hand-crafted marbles with the minaret at 60 stories in height.


Shop ’til you drop at Marche Central

As Casablanca’s main market, you can find everything at Marche Central: rare spices, olives for days, colorful decor and gorgeous fabrics. This is the perfect place for you to show off mad bargaining skills and bring home loads of souvenir for loved ones.


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Morocco is the fifth largest producer and exporter of Olive oil worldwide.  It is also among the top three countries with the lowest cost to produce.

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Grab lunch at Rick’s Cafe

An ex-American diplomat in Morocco, Kathy Kriger, established Rick’s Cafe back in 2004 for travelers who yearn to relive the beloved Hollywood film: Casablanca. The restaurant/bar/cafe is inside a traditional Moroccan mansion with an interior mainly displaying photographs, and memorabilia from the film. Every decor placement inside the establishment is a tribute to the film.


Although we know that Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman weren’t actually in Casablanca during filming (the movie was completely shot in Burbank, California,) there’s no harm in bringing out the tourist in all of us once in awhile and soak in the greatest love story ever told.


Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech is one of the most evocative places in the world. Just the name is sexy!

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Probably one of my favorite shot from Marrakech.

I don’t like to be bored, and neither does Marrakech.  Of all the things to do in Marrakech, I recommend the infamous market place. The souqs of Marrakech are vibrant color and noise.  Crowds of people weave through the alleys of the medina and its hundreds of stalls displaying brightly colored wares. If this is your first visit to Morocco, you’ll no doubt want to experience the souqs at least once. They’re not for everyone though, the hustle is real and can make it stressful or annoying since you’ll receive plenty of attention from stallholders competing for your money. If you’ve never been to a souq before be prepared to negotiate with everyone selling something.

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The chicken reaper of Marrakech

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Its not as easy as I thought it would be. Much respect to these beautiful women.

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The women who embroider all day do not use templates.  Its all free hand.

Marrakesh is a modern mix of Moroccan and international culture with the most diversity of delicious international food and beautiful architecture in the medina.  The chaotic pace exposed a city and people always on the go. The famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square is truly the mess everyone describes: tens of thousands of people at night eating, shopping, getting henna tattoos, listening to bands and storytellers, and watching magicians (and snake charmers during the day). It’s one of the most hectic but fascinating people-watching places in the country. It still blows my mind how big and full it was!

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Bread on bread.  Even their bread has bread.

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Pastilla at the Argana Cafe, Marrakech

Ride a Camel

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Meet Victoria

Camel trekking may not be the most comfortable means of travelling for some, but it is undoubtedly a ‘must’ for every traveller as a way to experience the mode of transport of the Berber nomads of the Sahara.

Imlil, Morocco

The Ourika Valley is a short drive from Marrakech in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.

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The making of Argan Oil

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High Atlas Mountains


The Atlas Mountains are an easy one-hour drive from Marrakech, offering secluded tranquility and breathtaking natural surroundings.  A mile hike up the mountains and you’ll get to experience the beautiful waterfalls.

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Half way up the mountain you can stop and enjoy a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.


Well folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on Morocco.  Thanks for following me on all my adventures.


All photos used for this blog post are mine and are not to be used without my permission.