– – part 3/3 – –

Post Tony Robbins’ UPW seminar, things seemed pretty clear to me. I mean, talk about immersion; you were non-stop working on you, day after day, four days straight. Forget eating and sleeping. You didn’t really need that. The energy was all in you and you alone. I opened up to total strangers who became some amazing friends. Those amazing friends, in turn, opened up to me about some things they were going through. It didn’t matter where we were from, what the color of our skin was, or if English was our first language or not: at the core of it all, we were humans with emotions and our own set of goals (remember, there were 42 different countries represented in one arena!).

It showed me that, as a community of support, we rise; we are all here to help each other on this earth. We can all learn from each other. Overall, the seminar taught me that we all need to listen to our most inner desires, pivot our mentality to “can-do” and go after what we were seeking for a more positive, true and meaningful life.

Remember that deep exercise I shared in my previous post that we did, where Tony made you think about something that was a limiting belief and how it would affect you up to forty years from now? Well, to share with you candidly, my limiting belief was that I could never leave New York again and live elsewhere. I say “again” because the last time I lived elsewhere was when I studied abroad in college. I loved France so much and wanted to try that type of living arrangement again somewhere else. Alas, though, I kept holding myself back from doing it because I didn’t think it was possible. I was supposed to be a ‘responsible’ adult and not be ‘foolish’ with my actions. I was building a career. I had my family here. How could I leave them? To be selfish and just go would be too selfish.

It was something inside me that I held for so long that just caused me so much internal pain.

I love traveling; it makes me feel just so alive! And purposeful!! I was always escaping on the weekends traveling outside of New York just to get a taste of what I was looking for; but, the thing with tasting is that you may never get your full to eat if you don’t commit to that full dish. I won’t ever stop exploring on the weekends, ever, but my heart personally yearned for more. I wasn’t in nor out– I was in-between.

This hurt my heart for the longest, but this seminar showed me that I needed to do what was right for me. I didn’t want to be sixty years old living with regret. I loved my family, but if they loved me, too, then they would support what needed to be done to make me happy. I didn’t have logistics figured out. What would I do about work? What was going to happen? Would I live out of a car? Or out on the streets? I didn’t know the answers. But you know what, the seminar also showed me that that I’ve overcome a lot of stuff in my life previously and that I was smart enough to figure them all out again in the future. I didn’t know when this would all happen, but it had to happen sooner rather than later.

Yes, I had a limiting belief that I could never leave and go. It held me back for years. I was stuck in daydreams and ‘what ifs.’

In reading this, I am sure you know that we moved to New Zealand a few months ago now. Yeah, I still can’t believe it. How amazing is life, right? That announcement post can be found here if you missed it. Yes, life has definitely changed. I didn’t think this day would come, but it finally came. I can’t wait to share how we did it and what we’ve been learning!

In the meantime, I will leave you with two things:

Firstly: If you ever have the chance to attend a Tony Robbins UPW event, I highly recommend it. While it may cost a bit, try to save as much as you can for it and when you finally have enough DO IT. If there is any kind of investment that I am 100% behind, it is that of your own personal development and growth. While I initially freaked out over the cost, I realized that I was spending well over that on things that weren’t really challenging me on a deeper level: clothes, shoes, makeup, super fancy dinners, etc. I’m not saying that these things are bad (because who doesn’t want a pair of brand new shoes?! ;)), but what I am saying is to take a step back and reflect on if saving for something that will help you improve from the inside is worth it. Personally, anything that helps me improve myself from the inside is always totally worth it.

Listen, to each their own, I’m not telling you what to do with your money, but as a very honest person, I can tell you that I attended this event and that if I needed to pay double for it I would have happily done so. The immediate changes that I saw within myself from day one and the changes others saw in me, too, were incredible. (I think my coworker Christina, who I shared an office with, could vouch 100% to this when I went back to work on Monday– haha). So many companies like Amazon, Coach, etc. send their employees here. It teaches you about teamwork. It teaches you respect. It teaches you that you can do anything, yes ANYTHING in life. If you want it and you are willing to work hard for it you can achieve it.

The story for my wonderful husband ended well, too, as I believed in this seminar so much that I not only bought him a plane ticket from New York to West Palm Beach, but also bought his own UPW ticket for the event in Florida a few months later. He absolutely loved it, too. In the end, we both got to go and, in the end, we cannot wait for the day we can go again!

If you are feeling stuck, if you feel that there is more to life somewhere and that there are some things inside of you that need deep attention for you to move forward, attend this event and give yourself the total immersion in you. You will get something out of it– Tony actually makes sure of it (really, he asked the audience of 40,000 if there was anyone in the room that didn’t have a revelation of sorts and asked you to raise your hand. Note: he will call on you if you haven’t to fix that).

The next UPW is in the USA in July. If you live in Chicago, you are in luck! He will be THERE! And if you’re not in Chicago find a way and GO. If I could, I would send everyone and their mother to this event. It’s that good. Here’s a calendar for next cities for the year!!

UPDATE: GREAT NEWS!! Reached out to Jeremy from Tony’s Team (who helped me get my husband’s tickets) to see if there was a special promo on offer for tickets AND THERE IS!! Click *here* to email him to get more info on discounts. Let him know Loren from Enlightened by Bravery sent you and mention JEREMY-FL2017! YAY!!

Secondly, and lastly, I will openly leave you with two quick diary entries I wrote as I went through it: right before the event and right after. All real. Nothing fake.

Day 1:
8:40am: I am so emotional. I guess it’s because I am hoping that something today (or this weekend) just clicks. I really want something to click, an inspiration to strike, so that I may so very well take that burning flame inside of me to do more and light up a new torch, one that will take me down the halls of a new path that I, myself, never once step foot down.

Day 4:
I am filled with such an overflow of love and excitement for the future. There have been so many truths exposed to myself that I always believed weren’t there, and in the course of a weekend, I can honestly say that I have, truly, been enlightened by Bravery. I have been awakened by Bravery. I have been awakened by the truth. Lots of great speakers and such a privilege to hear everything about health, to walk out of here with a plan, and be able to implement immediately. I am so humbled and have learned that in giving, it is how we receive.

Bonus: “Life is about Moments; Don’t wait for them, Create them.” -Tony Robbins


Thank you for reading this series. I would very much love to hear your comments and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! As always, may love and light guide you <3.

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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.