– – part 1/3 – –

Tony who? Maybe you’ve heard about him, maybe not. I never knew who he was but, at the time of writing this post, I can tell you that he helped change my life.

With a brief introduction (you can read a better description of him here), Tony is a “life/peak-performance coach” that is highly admired by so many people around the world. He’s worked with Presidents of the United States, Olympic athletes and has been working on his craft for over forty years. He started from nothing and is a successful multi-millionaire today. Oprah’s interviewed him for Super Soul Sunday and you can find him in many Forbes articles– Warren Buffett being a close friend of his. If you want a one-on-one session with him, prepare to get on a three-year waitlist. And, while you’re at it, get that one million dollar fee ready.

Yes, it sounds like a big deal and the fact that I got to go to one of his seminars was absolutely a blessing– in total disguise. It is something I am eternally grateful for and have decided to dedicate the next three posts to this life-changing event as part of a series.

Tony Robbins UPW (Unleash the Power Within) is a four-day, fully immersive seminar that shows you how to overcome your fears so that you can live a beautiful, brave and purposeful life.

The Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within seminar was one that I will forever remember in my life. It opened my eyes and gave me many tears of joy, release, love and optimism. It’s probably one of the best events I have ever been to, coming in to a close tie right there with my wedding day. I remember it like it was yesterday and I cannot wait until I get there again. It was the seminar that gave me the strength to leave my fears behind and move abroad. Yeah, it was that amazing.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a *very* long time now, but I believe that the universe guides you to its proper moment in time and, well, it finally brought me here. Today is the day I start to share with you my experience at the Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within seminar, which, from this point forward, I will describe as UPW (’cause that’s what we use anyway ;)). It only happens at most four times a year, around the world, and it came into my life at the perfect time.

I’m sharing this story because it comes full circle.

It all started on a gloomy Tuesday morning; I remember it so well because, outside of my NYC office building, the sun seemed to have looked like it took a PTO itself the day after I took mine. I picked up my phone and texted my husband:

I’m struggling and need some inspiration.”

“Look at this seminar link I came across,” he wrote. “It’s Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within and it’s $1,000 a ticket for general admission, am I losing it? So expensive!”

“Who is this guy? And WOW, that is one expensive ticket for sure.” I answered. “The conferences I’ve wanted to go to are around the $500 mark.”

“What kind of conferences are you looking for?” he wrote.

“Something travel or writing related, I just need to be inspired,” I wrote back.

I quickly looked online for some conferences. There was one happening in the middle of America in a few months related to travel and writing. There was a Create & Cultivate one I’ve been eyeing for a while. And another one happening in Boston the following week related to women making change.

“I’m thinking about one of these,” I texted.

“You should go to the Tony Robbins’ UPW seminar I just sent you,” he answered.

“You’re crazy,” I replied.

I mean, here was the opportunity for me to finally get to go to a conference I really wanted to go to and he was proposing I go to this random one? I mean, Tony who? I never heard of this man. The website he sent me seemed very put together, but what in the world was this thing? It stated it was over a few days, that ‘your life would change,’ and it had a bunch of celebrity testimonials at the bottom with their experiences. I was very skeptical. I know celebrities get paid money for their testimonials sometimes, how was I sure that this just wasn’t one of them?

I researched the heck out of this seminar and, honestly, the more research I did the more scared I became. It was meant to tap into the depths of your soul. It was meant to, well, “unleash the power within.” I remember reading on their site something about needing to wear “loose fitting clothing” for the first day and to “eat a light meal before the fire walk.” Um, excuse me? The fire what? You better believe I googled “fire walk” because I needed to know if it was the new “electric slide” or something. News flash: it was not. The fire walk, I soon learned, was exactly what it sounded like: hot coals, roasted overnight, and laid out for you to walk on.

What. The. Heck.
It sounded like a recipe for getting me to the emergency room STAT.

I kept digging and found some videos, along with more testimonials explaining what a difference this seminar made in people’s lives and how they finally “saw.” I mean, was I blind or something? Maybe.

The more research I did the more all of this just sounded very cult-like, too. This man has a following. A MASSIVE one. At four days straight in length, I didn’t want to lose control of myself and be brainwashed! I mean, not that they brainwashed you, but how else was everyone just so in love with Tony and what he preached?! I honestly couldn’t really understand what this seminar was all about and just didn’t really want any part of it anymore, especially knowing that it was $1,000 for a ticket– for general admission.

“Woah, Buddy. Thanks, but no thanks,” I texted him. “It is absolutely out of the question; we are not spending this much money on me. You know where we can travel with $1k?! I would feel so guilty. Plus, I don’t think this will work. Thanks, but not for me.”

“Too late, it’s done,” he responded, “the seminar starts next week and you’re going.”


“Just transfer the name to yours. Say I got sick or something!!” I pleaded.

How could he do that? How could we spend this much money on me? I didn’t feel it was worth it. I didn’t feel that I was worth it. After getting out of my head, I could see the very unselfish gesture my husband made and I thanked him for it. I also expressed how I didn’t want to let him down and have $1,000 of our hard-earned money go to waste. If I was eating ramen for the next three months to make me feel better about this purchase, I needed it to be so worth it. I really wanted him to go, not me.

“Just keep an open mind; that is all you can do for me,” is what he responded to all of this.

After accepting the fact that I was going, I counted my blessings and started to feel pretty blessed for this opportunity; I started to kind of get excited for what was to come– whatever that was.

It seemed like I was somehow destined to go. My husband was the carrier of this experience sent by the universe. I was never searching for it and, somehow, it all happened so quickly and it found me.  And so, unaware of what the future held, unaware of what Tony would do for me, unaware of what was going to happen, I made my way to New Jersey the following week for an experience like no other.


Read part II of this series: Tony Robbins UPW: I Walked On Fire– Literally


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Brooklyn native, Latina, and founder of Enlightened by Bravery, an adventure/travel and wellness blog that focuses on drawing inspiration from adventures around the world back into your life // iPhoneographer // Francophile

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Fear of Popping a Balloon: Exposed

I know, I know.  It seems silly to be afraid of a balloon popping; but, truth be told, it was one of my greatest fears.  I know it may be trivial to some, but sometimes small things like these are earth shattering to others.

One of the reasons why I want to talk about it today is because I actually met someone this week that has the same fear I once had!  (I thought I was the only one!)

Living with Fear and Getting Over It
I could never be around balloons because they always filled me with anxiety.

I think my fear stemmed from when I was young and was forced to play that terrible game of ‘balloon pop’.  Many of the birthday parties I went to had the game where money would be stuffed inside the balloon and the only way to get it was to pop it.  While it seemed innocent, I was actually traumatized by cousins who would take the balloon, put a fork to it, and pop it in my face.  Left… POP.  Right… POP.  Under you… POP. “Hey Loren!… POP!”  Popping was going on everywhere!  And after many birthdays, I suddenly found myself with a fear.

Fast forward to being an adult and cringing when balloons came into the frame; it actually wasn’t so ‘cute’ anymore.  And, since it’s somewhat rare, it makes you seem a little… different.  I will never forget that one meeting at work (with about one hundred people in attendance) that ended with a balloon drop; I ran away from that meeting into another room.  While I let people know why I was acting funky and they seemed to understand, I knew deep down inside that there was something more to it than just balloons.

A few months ago, for my birthday, I asked my husband to buy me balloons.  And he did.
Being afraid of a balloon didn’t mean just trying to get over the loud sound, but it meant getting over an anxiety that was housed inside of me for so many years.  And this fear just so happened to be masked with an elastic rubber that comes in a multitude of colours.

A balloon popping is something sudden and usually surprising.  And that was the problem, I was not one to want to be surprised, because I needed to know everything.  I needed to be in control.  I didn’t know how to react to a sudden or surprising thing.  The way I reacted when someone teased me by putting a fork to a balloon in my adult life was not normal.  I freaked out, cried and screamed.  And you know what?  I let them get away with it.  I let myself get weak, back down, and never challenged them by saying “Go on, do it.”  I was then teased. Constantly.  I let that get added to my list of insecurities and it was my own fault.

So, for my birthday last year, I said enough was enough.  I was tired of running away.  I was tired of anxiety. So I took a ballon and, after a bit of hesitation, popped it!  I then cried.  But, funny enough, I immediately started to laugh.

I then turned into a little bit of a crazy lady and grabbed all of the balloons around the house and popped them all.  It was so therapeutic and I felt years of anxiety melt away!  Not only that, but I grew confident.  Having a fear and just going for it head-on is intimidating, but it honestly is how you get over things sometimes.  And I proved to myself that it wasn’t just with a balloon that I could take this experience and apply it to; there were so many other parts of my life that could use this newfound ‘bravery’.  I tackled a champagne bottle the following week- ha!  But then I also confronted someone  via conversation.  I didn’t let the ‘what-if”s’ get in the way of me moving forward.  And that was a big learning for me, especially since it came from such a small thing.

Meeting Someone with the Same Fear
So this week, I had the pleasure of meeting myself.  It was actually someone else, but I saw a lot of the ‘old me’ in the ‘present her’. While I know our lives aren’t the same and we have different things that attest to who we are today, the anxiety was there.  So I sat with her and told her my story.  She was very much inspired, which I could tell, and was very humbled by.  We had a video shoot that day which included balloons and, by the end of the day, I saw her being able to look at balloons in a different way.  She didn’t exactly pop a ballon -and I wouldn’t have expected her to- but I saw that she was being very brave and built up the courage to take baby steps forward instead of running back to what she always deemed as ‘safe’.  She was laughing the whole day and I was so happy to know that sharing just a bit of my own experience with her gave her some sort of ‘hope’.  Even if it’s very minimal, it still brought a smile to my face knowing that I helped someone.

Again, again!
I can proudly say that I can pop a balloon with no problem these days.  I have this little bit of ‘guilty pleasure’ while doing it, which is actually quite funny.  But, ever since then, I proved that I could become more confident and that I do have it in me to be my strongest self.  All it takes is just some self-listening to what it is that you really want in your life, taking the plunge, and trusting yourself.

We went to the park today and I thought I would commemorate that day and my conversation with the girl I had this week by popping a balloon!

Unfortunately my hand slipped and popped the balloon too quick for me to even plan it. Haha


The surprise and suddenness didn’t freak me out though; I actually enjoyed it and laughed it off!


I encourage you to just think about a little fear you may have and why you may have it.  And, if you find yourself building up the courage to say “enough is enough,” then do something that will help you get over your little fear.  You may be afraid now, but in a couple of months, you could laugh it off and help someone else.  You never know :).


Have a wonderful week everyone! 🙂


Anxiety & Eating: How they go hand in hand (part: I)

White rice, whole milk, frozen dinner entrées, ice cream, lots of soda, beef patties, and cake.

These were some of the things I ate growing up; heck, there were some days that I ate all of these in a single day.  It was definitely a kid’s dream come true.  But ‘kid’ defined me from the moment I could chew my food to, literally, a couple of months ago.  I have been eating ‘clean’ for about two months or so now and, I must say, my anxiety level has gone down and my positive mood has gone up.

But, before I get to the current, positive moment of eating clean, I think it’s good to reflect and see how the ‘bad’ foods helped support the anxiety that was built inside me for many years:

You know, I grew up in a very loving family that taught me a lot about respect, values, and how to love.  But one thing that I was never really taught was how to eat properly.  Yes, there was always food on the table, food in the pantry, and food in the fridge, but they were all ‘quick’ things.  My meals were very predictable, too.  Breakfast was pancakes (from a box), drenched with a sugary (addictive) processed syrup.  Lunch was take-out from the local Chinese food place.  Dinner meant rice, beans, chicken, and maybe a salad.  And then the night concluded with lots of ice cream, cookies, and maybe a second round of dinner.  The only real time I would eat fruits were if we went out to the farms during the summer and went apple or peach picking – but even then there wasn’t any kind of portion control.  I would have about eight giant peaches on my way home because the giant basket (filled with nothing but that) was sitting in the car!  And then I would be tired of peaches.  I would refuse them.  When I got home it would be all “oh, hello, microwaveable bacon!”  And I went on with my life.  ‘Happy’ at the time, sad looking back at it now.

My life consisted of processed foods, filled with chemicals that I couldn’t even pronounce.  They had absolutely no nutritional value, but they made me feel ‘good’ for a quick moment.  The things inside of all of those things were alien to my body and acted like a drug.  Actually, they were my drugs.  Because that time I was seven years old and my grandmother passed away, I held back my tears because I was subliminally told that I shouldn’t be a cry baby and that sharing my emotions towards other people was a ‘personal’ thing.  This emotion was mended with me eating a whole loaf of white, processed bread, toasted with tons of trans-fatty butter and a giant glass of sugary chocolate milk.  And that time I got an eighty-eight on my math test in the eighth grade and was told that I could do better and needed to get nothing but one-hundreds?  Well, that made me feel like I was a total failure.  But there it was, that very fatty fourteen-ounce tub of ice cream and giant bag of addicting chips to help mend my broken heart and mind.  So while I was ‘healing’ my heart and mind with food, I was actually holding a lot of things back (anger, frustration, confusion, etc.) and burying them deep, deep down inside. (That explains those times I’ve cried during yoga, huh?)  So you start to become anxious.  Hating the next time you feel this way.  And it all continues to build up.  Every little bit counts.

My emotions were controlled with eating: failure was rewarded with sugary fats and successes, if I felt I had them, were rewarded with greasy foods (pizza party, anyone?).  And I grew up like this.  I was confused, trying to figure life out, restricting my self-desires to come out, and hoping to make everyone but myself happy.  I found comfort in food.  But the food I was eating didn’t give me any clarity; I couldn’t think things through with a ‘clear mind’.  All it was doing was fogging up my mind.  They served zero nutritional value, but made me ‘happy’.  Voilà, my adolescent (and well-into-my-adult-hood) drugs.

Side note:  you could only imagine how self-image played a role in this.  Why, with all of this poor eating, I wasn’t exactly ‘fit’.  I was ‘fat’.  And the media hated ‘fat’.  They said that that it wasn’t ‘beautiful.’  So, naturally, I also grew up with very low self-esteem, telling myself that I was ‘ugly’, ‘useless’, and a ‘failure’ every day.  My confidence level was lower than a turtle’s.   And this is how I grew up.  For more than twenty years, this was my life.

circa high school graduation - 2006
high school graduation – 2006

After years of suppressing my own happiness, and right before my giant panic attack last summer, I noticed a few months worth of terrible abdominal pain.  Not only that, but I was also very bloated and starting to become a bit overweight.  Worried, I went to a gastroenterologist (tummy & digestion doctor) and found out that I was lactose intolerant… great.

My life seemed to have shattered at the instant of being diagnosed, because it meant that I could no longer have the ice cream, yogurt, pizza, or cake that once mended my wounds.  I did play devil’s advocate and ate them anyway, but felt the consequences within thirty minutes of consuming the stuff.

2013 - before panic attack - after being diagnosed as lactose intolerant
summer 2013 – 2 weeks after being diagnosed as lactose intolerant & 2 weeks before panic attack

So it was true, after all.  I was lactose intolerant.  Two weeks before my I-didn’t-even-see-it-coming giant panic attack, I had to adjust.  And that was hard.  I didn’t really know how to adjust.  I never learned.  And looking back at it today, part of me thinks that the attack maybe came out from being forced to learn how to live with some confrontations and without some of those drugs.  I was starting to be confronted by my own self.

I didn’t know how to deal then.  But today, I am learning how to deal now (next post – stay tuned!).

But until then, be kind to your body.  Think back to those times you maybe reached for that thing you shouldn’t have reached for.  Think of what you were running away from.  Starting to slowly think about these things will help open up and shape you for a better tomorrow.  Don’t resolve to continue suppressing emotions with food.  Eat well.  You are beautiful. Who cares about the media.  They don’t pay your bills, you pay their bills.  They don’t give you a hug when you need it the most.  And this applies to others around you.  There is only one person like you out there and you deserve the absolute best.  The road to a better tomorrow starts with this type of first step… and it starts from within.