About Lainie Liberti
Lainie Liberti is a recovering branding expert, who’s career once focused on creating campaigns for green - eco business, non-profits and conscious business. Dazzling clients with her high-energy designs for over 18 years, Lainie lent her artistic talents to businesses that matter. But that was then.
In 2008, after the economy took a turn, Lainie decided to be the change (instead of a victim) and began the process of “lifestyle redesign,” a joint decision between both her and her 11-year-old son, Miro. They sold or gave away all of of their possessions in 2009 and began a life of travel, service, and exploration. Lainie and her son Miro began their open-ended adventure backpacking through Central and South America. They are slow traveling around the globe allowing inspiration to be their compass. The pair is most interested in exploring different cultures, contributing by serving, and connecting with humanity as ‘global citizens.’
Today Lainie considers herself a digital nomad who is living a location independent life. She and her son write and podcast their experiences from the road at Raising Miro on the Road of Life.
Latest Posts by Lainie Liberti
We stumbled upon the Holocaust Memorial in Boston Massachusetts by accident. At first, we had no idea of what we stumbled upon, but I knew immediately it was a memorial.
The sketched numbers representing the human being memorialized, reminded me of the famous Vietnam Memorial and the more personal Chris Burden version, the Other Vietnam Memorial in Los Angeles. Then I realized it was for the Holocaust Victims from World War II.
Upon a little research, I realized the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston is very special in its own way for a number of reasons. It was designed by Stanley Saitowiz, and it was officially erected in 1995. This unique memorial was constructed in the memory of the six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.
This memorial is made up of six separate glass towers, and visitors are able to walk under each of these towering towers, which do contain numbers engraved on the outer walls of each tower. Inside each of these very superb towers visually, there are various quotes, which were left by survivors who were fortunate enough to walk away from the Holocaust alive.
From underneath the towers, there is a steam that rises up, and this steam comes from beneath grates made of metal on dark floors with twinkling lights. Sort of eerie, in my opinion.
Each of the six individual glass towers that does make up this extraordinary memorial do signify something, and that meaning is this, each tower is a symbol of the major extermination camps for Jews that were in existence during the Holocaust. These six main extermination camps were called Majdanek, Sobibor, Chelmno, Belzec, Treblinka, and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
At the entrance of the memorial, reads this famous poem from Martin Niemöller, an famous anti-Nazi theologian:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
What makes these very special towers so awesome to behold is obvious. They are a living reminder of the souls of six million innocent people who died in a six year period of cruel extermination of human life. This six year period of needless extermination took place between 1939 and 1945. All of these very innocent lives were lost in such a tragic, as well as very cruel way, and this memorial serves as a reality to attest to this fact.
The mysterious site of Sayhuite, is one of Peru’s greatest anomalies, baffling archeologists as to its origins and purpose. Located in the province of Abancay about four hours from Cusco by car, the site is one of the lesser visited tourist attractions. And this was a site I was really excited to see.
Early one morning, I climbed into a crowded collectivo ready to brave the windy mountain roads. The crowded van shifted with each turn, hugged the side of the mountains, traversed the narrow cliffs and passed above farms resting in the valley below.
After four hours, the collectivo stopped in Abancay and the first leg of the journey was over. Next, I found a taxi driving willing to take me to the site and negotiated a rate. For 50 soles, Javier agreed to take me to the site and wait for me while I explored.
Most that venture out of Cusco to visit Sayhuite are aware that the site consists of several carved rocks, with the Sayhuite monolith as the most famous. The site is highly regarded by the Peruvian people as a glimpse into the sacred minds that only the Inca’s understood. But since the true purpose of Sayhuite is unknown, the mystery adds to the intrigue. And some question the site itself was created by the Incas.
- Who created Sayhuite?
- What was the purpose?
- What did it represent?
Those answers died with the original builders and users, from many years past.
There are many theories but no one can really say for sure.
Some regard Sayhuite as a place of religious worship by a water cult with a priestess in charge.
Sayhuite is located on top of the hill called Concacha. The monolith measures four meters wide and two meters long. The surface is carved with more than 200 figures of geometric and zoomorphic shapes, mostly felines, reptiles, frogs, and serpents. These animals all have sensual flowing qualities, representing a close association with water. The entire rock itself is even formed in the shape of a feline head. It is said to have been transported to the hill since it is not a natural outcrop.
Or could Sayhuite be a scale model of an ancient city?
Researcher Brien Foerster and Dr. Arlan Andrews believe the Sayhuite monolith was once a water irrigation testing site. They demonstrate water flow in this video.
Or how about my theory, a representation of a large craft, perhaps one that once set out to escape a great flood in times of catastrophic earth changes?
Nobody knows for sure at this point.
Just beyond the Concach hilltop into the valley below, there we found several other carved rocks scattered through the grassy knolls.
The carved style is very different than the Sayhuite monolith above, reminiscent of some of the other ancient sites within the Sacred Valley. The most amazing was a rock with carved stairways and ascending platforms which is cracked down the center.
There are unusual squares, circles, geometric shapes and channels carved into the surfaces as well.
Just a few feet south, there is another interesting carved rock, thought by some to be a solar rock–when shadows are cast by the sun, they can be used to record cycles. But who really knows?
Whatever these rocks may have been used for during the Inca or pre Inca civilizations, they look as if they served a specific purpose, but today, no can be sure of what that could be.
As always, one of my greatest joys when I travel is walking around, getting lost, and taking photos. Below are photos shot in and around Lowell Massachusetts and the greater area.
As always, one of my greatest joys when I travel is walking around, getting lost, and taking photos. I love seeing places for the first time with fresh eyes and find beauty in the mundane. Meet Lowell, Massachusetts.
Our first stop on our crazy six week trip before the conference, we were invited to couch surf with a family who lived in the quaint community of Lowell Massachusetts. We love couchsurfing with families and have done so many times throughout our travels in Latin America. But we’ve never couchsurfed in the United States, so I thought this would be not only a great reentry back into the US, but an opportunity for: Cultural exchange, learning, growing, experiencing, connecting… in our own country.
After we finally arrived in Boston after our DC debacle, we were anxious to meet our hosts. However, our early flight into Boston meant we had to wait until our hosts were available. Miro and I took the train up to Lowell, where we marveled at the scenery.
It was our first time to New England, let alone traveling through the region just as spring was about to break the winter hues. The ground was dusted with patches of snow, the trees bare and proud, rooftops glimmering from the sun’s reflection and whoa, the architecture straight out of a children’s story book.
The words “charming” and “quaint” are just words in comparison to the amazement I was witnessing, and as unreal as the snow covered scenery looked, we were completely present, drinking in the sights and sounds.
Miro said “It just doesn’t look like this in California,” and I completely agree with him. New England is part of the same country we both grew up in, but our eyes feasted upon a completely foreign landscape for the first time.
And so we were there, and had a sense of being relaxed after our DC tear drenched ordeal and had about three hours to kill. Being patient is something we’ve become pretty good at, so Miro took a nap at the train station and I got some work done.
We met our host family and had no idea what to expect.
Lori picked us up and we headed over to her house. We were two days late and the family was in knee deep in it’s own rhythms. Her husband Jon, a videographer, was filming a production of one of Shakespere’s lesser known plays, Cymbeline. We were invited to go to that evening’s performance, and although there was slight reluctance, we both said “yes”.
The play was performed by a homeschooling group and all the cast members were around Miro’s age. It was a confusing play, even had a cheat sheet.
Ah, I was starting to understand New England’s sense of tradition and culture just a little bit more.
Upon returning to our host family’s home, we started to notice the same framed photos of what appeared to be a rendering of Jesus Christ all over the house. There were over 6 identical renderings, one in each room. But it was late and we’d ask the family about that the next morning.
The next day, we learned that this family were actually Mormons. Honestly, I didn’t know very much about the religion other than:
1.) They send their young adults to other countries to convert people
2.) Mitt Romney is Mormon
3.) Mormons have what I perceive as very conservative and restrictive traditions & laws
4.) There’s something about “special underwear”?
Other than those things, we didn’t know much. And I have to admit, before this engagement, I had no desire to learn any more.
We were both born Jewish, although that has always been more of a cultural identity for our family than a religious persuasion. Miro and I love Jewish food, but we are completely non-practicing and in all honesty, don’t know very much about our own religion.
However, we both identify as being spiritual people. We are connected to the energy of the consciousness, the universe and all that exists. We live in our inspiration and follow our passions. We are kind to others and feel deep purpose when we contribute through volunteering or help others through sharing our stories.
We have studied the beliefs of ancient cultures, looked to stars for answers, investigated the wisdom in plant medicines and swam around in what’s considered a “new age” of thought. Some of my teachers include Eckhart Tolle, Abraham Hicks, Depak Chopra, science, history and humanity and so much more.
I really wanted to give our readers a feeling of where I was coming from but if you are a regular reader of our blog, you’ve noticed our perspectives in practice. One of the things I have absolutely no connection to is religious dogma of any persuasion. We’ve experienced traditions from the many cultures we’ve visited as an anthropologist would. We observe and absorb.
Both Miro and I weren’t exposed to religious dogma, biblical scriptures or traditional rites as children and neither of us find a need for it in our lives. When others espouse the scriptures, normally I just glaze over and tune out until we get back to the meat-of-the-matter, or the original topic we were discussing. That being said, I always make an effort to be tolerant and respectful of all beliefs.
It turns out this family is very active in their church and very active in their community. Although I didn’t learn about the religion, we experienced an open family that was very tightly knit, lived frugally, trusted the world, and had an awesome level of communication among all members.
It actually was easier to see the similarities between our two families than our differences.
Miro and I shared moments with this family like they were our own, had lovely conversations about the world and travel, engaged in a full out “sock-ball” war, sang folk songs together and threw snowballs.
The next evening the family invited us to their monthly group get together. Lori explained that once a month the families and friends from their church, about 8-15 families, decided who’s house to meet in for an arranged a pot luck dinner. The family that is hosting, also leads a discussion group after dinner on any topic they wish. Dinner was a mixture of dishes from around the world, rice and beans, cold pasta salads, and hot cider was served. The large dining room was enough for twelve adults to sit, so when the late comers arrived, we all switched seats which looked like a well dressed version of musical chairs. The participants were a mixture of professionals, married couples, doctors and lawyers. One family included three generations, each member dressed in either a dark suit or a conservative dress, whereas our host family were comfortable dressing more casually in sweaters and pant combinations for both the men and women.
The one thing in common among all the participants, they all welcomed me and I never felt like an intruder.
After dinner the kids went into the family room. Later, Miro reported to me, “they were just like normal kids even though I thought they’d be different. We talked about the Hunger Games and played Apples to Apples. It was fun!”
The adults went into the living room. Here’s where I thought, “Oh boy, we are going to talk about the bible and I’ll probably be preached to.”
But that’s not what happened.
This particular evening’s topic was about “joy”. “OK, I can wrap my head around that,” I thought.
Everyone in the group was prepared, having read “The New York Review of Books” article by Zadie Smith, called “Joy”. Luckily one of the members had printed out the article so I had a chance to read it too. The article starts out with:
“It might be useful to distinguish between pleasure and joy. But maybe everybody does this very easily, all the time, and only I am confused. A lot of people seem to feel that joy is only the most intense version of pleasure, arrived at by the same road—you simply have to go a little further down the track. That has not been my experience. And if you asked me if I wanted more joyful experiences in my life, I wouldn’t be at all sure I did, exactly because it proves such a difficult emotion to manage.”
Then it ends with:
“It hurts just as much as it is worth. What an arrangement. Why would anyone accept such a crazy deal? Surely if we were sane and reasonable we would every time choose a pleasure over a joy, as animals themselves sensibly do. The end of pleasure brings no great harm to anyone, after all and can always be replaced with another of more or less equal worth. ”
In between, the author Smith shares experiences in her life where she felt joy. Then, she talks about “pleasures” which somehow seem to be fleeting and more accessible than joy. Some of Zadie Smith’s examples of pleasure are: experiencing a pineapple popsicle, giving birth, taking the drug Ecstasy, being in love, sitting on a wall, being in a night club, experiencing her child although the author states that her daughter is mostly a joy which means in fact she gives the author no pleasure at all, but rather a strange mixture of terror, pain, and delight.
“Seemed like an interesting article for a group of Mormons to be discussing,” I thought….
Interesting and surreal.
At some point during the group discussion I asked why this article was relevant to them. I was told, “being Mormon is about living a joyful life.”
“Yes!” I said to myself. I understand this intention.
Throughout the hour and a half discussion, others shared their impressions of joy, pleasure alternating from the article to their personal experiences and every now and then a scripture was quoted and discussed.
My overall impression was that I was experiencing a group of intellectual, loving people interested in finding ways to explore their beliefs in their lives and understand their human experience.
What we found was a group of beautiful people, kind, gentle and welcoming. The whole family and the entire community has a sene of peace and you could feel the love in their hearts. It was a blessing for us to be invited to share their lives, just for a short while as we continue on our journey.
I’m extremely empathic. Normally, I feel the emotional energy around me from people and places. In other other words, I’m emotionally intuitive. No, I don’t read minds, nor can tell fortunes, but I am very sensitive to energy. I’ve learned to manage this throughout my life. I even used this to my advantage professionally, when I worked in branding, but that’s a completely different story for another time.
But I’ll get to how this relates to our travels, in just a second…
Washington DC was where we embarked and our first reentry back into the States in over a year.
Now I admit, I was emotionally exhausted. I was drained from the travel too. But the last day we were in DC and things were sorted out in terms of our travel, Miro said he wanted to see the Capital. So, with about 3 hours to kill, we took a shuttle into town and did just that.
The day was picturesque, just as winter was winding down, branches bare and skies blue.
It was a cold, cold day, but Miro and I were dedicated to walk from the Washington Monument to the Capital building. The iconic nature felt larger than life, and my eyes were wide open, hair standing on it’s end. I was alert and I was present, in Washington DC.
We walked passed all the museums, felt connected to the Miro sculpture.
We observed lots tourists as curious as we were.
It was surreal. I expected to feel some overwhelming pride, connection to my country of origin, or even some level of connection.
I expected to see important politicians making their way through the grassy parks, connecting with the people they represent.
I expected to feel the buzz of productive energy swirling around me, progress, and hope.
The energy of Washington DC felt extremely heavy to me. The energy was strong, and for me, just a little too much to deal with, especially in my fragile state. No judgement, just a overwhelm heaviness, like the feeling of the weight of the world on it’s shoulders..
Our travels back to the States have been eventful, to say the least. But a good night’s sleep is always welcome when we are traveling. One of the perks of living so publicly and sharing our lives through this blog are the occasional invitations we receive to write a review and share our experiences about hotels, attractions, etc. On this occasion, we were so grateful to receive the opportunity to to stay at 40 Berkeley in Boston in exchange for our honest review.
Visiting the United States is expensive. Staying in Boston is more expensive than I could have imagined. This was our first time visiting New England, and our first visit to Boston. We have been living on a budget now for just about 4 years and our relationship to money has changed drastically. Knowing that Boston is one of the most expensive cities to visit we were so grateful for the opportunity to stay in a hotel for two nights without having to pay. But according to the 40 Berkeley web site, our room rate would be over a $100 a night. Here’s what you get for that in Boston:
Our room, was a simple dormitory room style, equipped with two single beds, desk in front of the window and a very functional radiator heater on the the well. For me, the mint green walls had a calming effect, since hey, green is my favorite color. Down the hall we found the shared bathrooms, a common concept on our travels. (For some reason I forgot to take a photo of our dorm room, but the photos on 40 Berkeley web site are pretty accurate.)
The bathrooms were clean and there was plenty of hot water to accommodate the guests on our floor. Our first night there, I took a very hot bath in the deep bathtub, and lounged undisturbed for about 30 minutes. Privacy though is consideration, as several women came into the bathroom and used the toilet while I was in the bath, and the smell was not always so pleasant. Just saying.
The halls were clean and sterile. There were security domes with cameras throughout the hotel and I personally felt like I was being watched which was a little unsettling, although many find that comforting. Miro and I talked about how the hostel has a very formal feeling in contrast to many of the hostels we’ve stayed at in Central and South America.
There was wifi throughout the hostel, a TV room down near the loby and rocking chair through out invited us to relax and check emails. However, more than once, I had flash backs of living in college dorm, oh so many years ago.
The loby was clean and inviting. The staff was friendly and helpful. There were fresh cookies to greet us when we checked in and free popcorn popping throughout the day. The waiting area was stuffed full with information about Boston and the activities and all questioned went answered.
Every breakfast food you can think of was included. Cafeteria style. Miro and I both felt overwhelmed with choices so we ended up with odd combinations. Miro: a plate of bacon, French toast and cornflakes. Me: yoghurt, cheerios and pumpernickel toast. The coffee, milk and juice came from a machine and always ready to refill until our cup runneth over.
Everyone we spoke with was pleasant. The other other guests thought they received great value for their bucks, and overwhelmingly people seemed happy with 40 Berkeley. The service, smiles, information, and cleanliness balance the college dorm institutional like feel. The location was ideal, the hotel was easily accessible and the neighborhood was safe. And all we spoke with felt it was a good value.
Our re-entry into the U.S. after being in South America for so long was more than just a little jarring. The experience was peppered with travel drama, exhaustion, but during those hours, we had a lot of time to people watch.
The DC airport was abuzz, the beginning of Spring break and it became our fish eye lens to observe the people who rushed through one end to the other. We were in super slow motion, no where to go, only time to observe. The world we left almost four years ago was represented here, in DC as a true microcosm. A microcosm on steroids, actually.
We had much time to sit, watch. I love airports as I’m always searching for those Love Actually moments, a window into people’s lives, love and connections with one another. My perspective was tainted through my tears and exhaustion, but it also gave me a chance to observe closely, actually stare at people through my puffy eyes and become still with what I was seeing.
I watched. I observed.
And I became aware of the way the energy felt too. It was heavy. Noticeably so. I was certain it wasn’t just my energy I was feeling. It was all around me.
I saw stylish, manicured people rush in and rush out.
I saw people , of whom I perceived thought they were very important.
I saw people dressed in very expensive clothes.
I saw people wearing expensive shoes.
I saw rushing.
I didn’t see many smiles.
I didn’t see people connecting with one another.
I didn’t see any of those “Love Actually” moments. Anywhere.
And I surely did not see much joy. Anywhere.
I imagined this country’s politicians, their assistants, their staff, all rushing away from the Capital, eager to go somewhere else. I imagined this was the group of stressed people who were running the United States of America.
Then, I thought about “primitive” peoples, of cultures past.
I thought of the people I’ve read so much about in my quest to understand the cultures behind the ancient archeology that intrigues me so. I thought about the people who were the great builders of the many sites and the temples ruins that surround our little house in Cusco.
I think about the stories of aggression among the rivaling ancient cultures from Peru, the Incas, the Moche, the Chimu, the change of ages and the movement from one great culture to another. I recall the tales of warfare, violence, aggression and the fight for territory and power.
I look at the people around me and wonder if they consider their practices, their lives, as trivial as some might perceive the ancient cultures of Peru that intrigue me so? I wonder if busy bodies of Washington DC’s airport might consider their own actions in the same manner we view people throughout history? Was I witnessing the actual tribes of Washington DC who inflict warfare, violence, aggression and the fight for territory and power too?
I clearly have a different feeling about the United States now. I feel as if I’m on foreign soil. I don’t perceive the energy as welcoming. I don’t feel that Love Actually connection.
Has the country changed? Or have all the changes I was feeling actually occurring inside of me?
We have reentered the United States.
But for now, we are just visitors.