personal growth

 – – part 2/3 – –


If you read the previous post about who Tony Robbins is and how his Unleash the Power Within seminar came into my life, then you’re all caught up for this next post that goes into what I experienced — and what you would, too, if you go!

The seminar is about four days in length at around thirteen hours on average per day.

Day one of registration was filled with a super long line outside of the Prudential Center. Hundreds of people all ready to get inside and start. I remember walking in, passing security and seeing everyone high-five each other left and right as I made my way over to the check-in table. As I signed in, the volunteer handed me my packet filled with Tony’s latest book, a workbook and some goodies. As soon as he let go of the bag —I will never forget this— he smiled at me and said:

“Great! You’re all set! Now walk through those doors and make a right. Oh, and remember, as soon as you walk through those doors, life will never be the same again.”

I looked at him puzzled, but thanked him, smiling back and proceeded to walk through the door. They asked me to grab a button that would set the intention for the day. Amongst a whole wall of pins, I knew which one stood out to me the most: brave. I grabbed it and proceeded to find a seat.

And there I was, walking into the Prudential Center arena, to join 39,999 other people from around the world (42 different countries represented) for an event I don’t think many expected. Seats were all getting filled quickly. Music started to blast like it was a club. “Where am I? What am I doing here, alone?” is what I thought; I found my way to a seat and gave out a giant “GULP.” Here we go.

As the program started, it was HIGH energy. What do I mean? Well, you were told to get your butt off the chair, to start dancing and jumping to the BLASTING music and to smile like you’ve never smiled before. While I was there alone, and didn’t know anyone else, my dance wasn’t as much. But, man, you know when your favorite song comes on and you just can’t help but shake what your momma’ gave you? Well, yeah, that happened. Great job DJ!

You were asked to shake the building. To massage the person to your left and then let them give you a little back rub, too. I mean, what? All boundaries were just instantly removed and, long story short, I found myself with some new friends pretty quickly. I legit felt like I was at a club and the music was blasting like there was no tomorrow. I noticed some aromatherapy scents coming through the ventilation system and when I looked at my watch, there I was, partying like I was in Cabo on a Saturday night… only it was Thursday, 10AM.

Tony finally came out and, WOW, the energy of the room totally went up a hundred notches (didn’t even know that was possible). And there he was. The man who was going to change my life with a program he made and has been delivering around the world for years. Well, let me tell you, the man has a presence. I was seated SO far away, but, somehow, I felt SO close and connected.

The next thirteen hours were filled with Tony asking you some simple questions about your life, asking you to reflect. He made you think– hard. He not once drank a sip of water. He not once went for a bathroom break. He was on stage the whole time. This man was dedicated to you and making sure you walked away unleashing your power within.

Without giving away too much, he asked us to think about a problem in our life and to really see how that made us feel. Then took us on an exercise where he said, “You see how that has limited you? The things it has kept you from? Now fast forward. If you continue thinking that this is a problem you will never overcome, what will it steal from your life in five years? ten years? twenty? forty?” Needless to say, the pain was so intense thinking that something (whatever that something may be in your life) could stop you from living your best life ever. And then, at one point, we all overcame it. All 40,000 people in that arena just burst in screams of freedom. And just like that, the limiting belief we had was gone. It’s very hard to explain, but it was absolutely beautiful. After that moment, the music came on SUPER loud and we dance-partied for the next ten songs. Ah-mazing. All the happy endorphins you could ever imagine.

And then, at around midnight, just when I thought I was home free, Tony said something that made me GULP all over again: the fire walk.

He showed us a video of the coals being burnt throughout the day and of people laying them down in the form of a walkway. He told us that we didn’t need to walk over them and that if we were going to complain about the possibility of getting burned, then to please not go for it. It was OK if we didn’t want to do it, but he really believed we could do it. The next hour was us getting hyped for the firewalk. Next thing I knew, we kicked off our shoes and 40,000 people, all barefoot, walked out of the Prudential Center to the parking lot ready to conquer what we thought was the impossible.

I remembered seeing a video once of Oprah coming to Tony’s UPW seminar and walking on the fire. I mean, if Oprah did it, what was my excuse? Homegirl did it. She did it to set an example and I wanted to keep that example going– especially to my own self.

We chanted “yes” all the way from our seats to the hot coals. “Yes” to us overcoming our biggest fears, “yes” to overcoming what we think is impossible.

The secret behind not getting burned, many will say, is in the science. How the ash actually reduces the conduction of heat is one of those explanations. However, I would reckon that the secret of not getting burned is to not fear it, get in a positive mindset and be truly intentional with what you are doing. Ask your body to protect you. It’s kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you focus on getting burned and keep fearing that you will get burned, chances are you will get burned. But thinking positive things and keeping your attention away from the fear of something (like getting burned) will make you accomplish things that you never thought you could!

So, we finally made it down to the coals and I was up to walk on them next. I was ready, but I got suddenly got pretty scared. I placed my right foot on the coals and OUCH, it was HOT; I got a burn. But I instantly, in a heartbeat, changed my mindset, my self beliefs, and was like “I AM DOING THIS, I AM COMMITTING, I DO NOT FEAR THE FIRE– RAWR!!” and pressed my left foot on top of the coals and proceeded to walk. Guess what? IT DIDN’T BURN! It WASN’T HOT! How crazy was that?! It felt like walking on cold grass and, before I knew it, I was done. I DID IT!! The staff all made me jump up and down, cheering my success! I actually did it. Say whaaa. I, Loren, walked on hot coals. Put that on my résumé.

Honestly, I did get a little bit of a burn on the bottom of my right foot afterwards from that first step. But nothing on my left. Science can have its way with explanations, but I’m more of an emotional and physical believer. Walking on that fire meant something to me. I actually tried it and, in a moment of crisis, changed my thinking and succeeded in achieving what I once thought was impossible. It was a moment that made me prove to myself that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for; it was a moment I will never forget.

The next three days were just like this– minus the hot coals, but filled with more deep conquering exercises, mostly comprised of meditation, and totally filled with more rave music AT BLAST (they make sure to keep it FUN). Learning, listening, partying, meeting new people and being told that you are just SO kick ass was what this seminar was all about. We focused on ourselves, our goals and wishes in life, our health and, if we had a business, how to maximize it. The whole experience, at about 52 hours of working on YOU (talk about total immersion), can be summarized with the one word: amazing.

It makes you wonder, what else in life can you accomplish that you thought was impossible before? If you can walk on fire, what other things are out there for you to just break through?


Part three in this series is up next!

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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.