– – 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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Two New Zealand Star Experiences That Drove My Love For Astronomy

Bright. Plentiful. Stars are just everywhere. Unfortunately, growing up in New York City meant that I really didn’t get to see all the stars that exist in our night sky. The highest I ever counted was about nine from my dining room window, though I am pretty sure that five of those ‘stars’ were actually airplanes because stars don’t usually blink red and white right near John F. Kennedy Airport, right? No, no they don’t.

Living in New Zealand, though, that number went from “nine” to nine-hundred (and quite possibly to nine-thousand) fairly quickly. I felt comfortable with the first one hundred, but the more they appeared at night, the more scared I started to become. I had, what you would call “astraphobia,” the fear of stars and space. And the feeling was real. It was like I was a cavewoman and someone lit a torch in front of me for the first time. You can’t process it. You feel threatened. You feel like you don’t know what to believe. Camping in the middle of farmlands and mountains and being surrounded by pitch dark and little lights in the sky was just scary.

So what did I do? I ignored them. I prayed to the heavens above for super cloudy days and urged my husband to park under a tree or something so I wouldn’t see them. Basically, I tried to not see them for months. I pushed my feelings to the side and continued onward. Suppression was working.

After three months of traveling around, we found ourselves camping overnight at Lake Pukaki in the South Island. And that’s when I had to face the music. And then some. I was making dinner inside the campervan when my husband called my name in a frantic, excited holler from outside: “Loren! You, MUST SEE THIS!”

I knew that he was looking at the sky. But there was a part of me that really wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So I put my spatula down and slowly crept of out of the van to join him outside. He had a warm smile on his face and, with his index finger, pointed up to the night sky. Staring at him, I shook my head “no.” I didn’t want to see anything; yet, part of me did want to see something. I needed to at least peek. So I clenched my hands over his, took a quick gulp, and slowly gazed my eyes up towards the sky.

And there they were. THOUSANDS of STARS. If not millions.

I freaked out.

I felt absolutely small.


Who am I?

What is life?

I cannot.

I quickly pulled myself away and ran inside the van to cry. It wasn’t necessarily the stars I was crying about this time, but more so the beauty of the night sky. WOW!! The beauty was overwhelming. But then it suddenly made sense: all this time I was avoiding them because, for the first time in my life, I felt outnumbered; it was a feeling I didn’t think was possible to have, let alone brought on by nature.

My hands were shaking, but it was such a beautiful sight that I knew I had to go back out there and accept that I was just this small human on this big, beautiful earth and that we are just floating around in this universe.

That night, I didn’t leave the van, but instead let all the feelings come. I journaled while my husband fell fast asleep. The enormity and beauty left me curious. Now or never. So I opened our window, slipped up on the windowsill and spent the night looking up, becoming friends with the stars.

Twinkling. Plentiful. Bright.

I was never going to be bigger than them. Their presence was overwhelming, but being overwhelmed is a temporary feeling. This was a sign from the universe to learn more. The stars were trying to show me more.

So I went seeking more.


1) Tekapo Stargazing and Hot Pools

location: Tekapo, South Island, New Zealand


While down in the south island, I found out two things: (1) we were in the Mackenzie Region, near Tekapo, which is part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and (2) there are only eight Dark Sky Reserves in the world and this one just so happens to be the most southern, darkest place on the globe. Crazy!

We researched a bit and came across the Tekapo Star Gazing experience. I was falling more and more in love with the stars every night– they were fascinating to me now!– so, naturally, we booked the tour and my goodness what an awesome time!

You start off by boarding a courtesy van late in the evening (the darker the better!) and they take you to Tekapo Springs. Once you’re off, some hot cocoa/tea is there to warm you up before you head outside to the main deck. Your guides point to the stars above you with a laser (it’s pretty cool that it reaches infinity!) and explain to you the constellations they are a part of. With our own naked eye we were able to see: the milky way, another galaxy (yeah, seriously), venus, jupiter and thousands upon thousands of stars.

My little heart was just so full!

If that wasn’t enough, there were two telescopes that we were able to use! We saw Jupiter up close and its moons, as well as that other galaxy up close– apparently you can only see it from the southern hemisphere. *swoon*

After our tour of the stars outside on deck, we all went into the changing rooms to put on our bathing suits (togs) and entered a 38ºC (100.4ºF) hot pool. Floating beds were handed to us and, as we laid on them, staring up to the night sky, our guides told us stories of constellations, Maori legends, and answered any questions we had about astronomy.

I didn’t want the evening to end. It was peaceful, magical and it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen elsewhere in my travels before!

travel tip: make sure to look at the weather. Stargazing is best when the night is clear (not many clouds) and the moon isn’t visible (less light). I love Accuweather’s ‘Astronomy’ predictor for this!



2) Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center

location: Mt. Cook, South Island, New Zealand

Don’t know if you know, but Sir Edmund Hillary was from New Zealand and, with Nepalese mountaineer, Tenzing Norgay, they were the first men to climb Mount Everest– ever!

This alpine center is actually located right next to Mt. Cook, the mountain that Sir Edmund Hillary trained on for many years, in order to build up his mountaineering skills and stamina to take on Everest!

Part of the Hermitage Hotel, the Alpine Center is “the world’s only theatre with 2D, 3D and a Digital Dome Planetarium, contained within the same space.” What I fell in love with, though, was their 360º Digital Dome Planetarium. You pay about $20 and you have unlimited entrance to the shows they play in the theatre all day! From the big bang, black holes, to what we are doing today to continue learning more about the stars and planets in our skies, you will learn so much in a fun, educational way. Your entrance ticket also allows you to watch various 2D documentaries, along with a 3D short film giving you the inside scoop of Mount Cook. The best part? When you come out, you are in the mountains and, if you wanted to go hike into the Mt. Cook area you just learned about, the Hooker Valley Track is a beautiful way to bring everything into reality.

I learned so much that day and kept all of the fun facts in mind as we kept traveling through the beautiful night skies of the South Island.

travel tip: make a day out of it! get to the theatre in the morning when it opens, start watching presentations for a few hours, treat yourself to a buffet lunch in the hotel, then go out trekking into the Hooker Valley Track for a view of Mt. Cook!

These experiences have definitely made me much more interested in astronomy and have given me my next little fun thing to learn: how to shoot night sky photography. The world is absolutely beautiful and I learned, yet again, that embracing those curious matters in our minds leads to fascinating observations, discoveries, and, well, new loves.

Astronomy, continue teaching me your ways <3.



Brave Series: Exploring New Zealand’s ‘White Island’– an ACTIVE marine volcano

According to Maori legend, White Island was formed when Maui first came in contact with fire, holding it in his hand, feeling the intense burn, diving deep into the sea and letting it go. What resulted was ‘White Island,’ New Zealand’s active marine volcano.

James Cook first saw it in 1769, it last erupted in 2001, and it rises about 1600 meters from the seafloor.  As scary as it sounds, there are actually tours that take you out there for the opportunity to experience it yourself. In an effort to overcome fear and give in to my curiosity and intrigue, we booked a tour to the mighty, natural formation. That’s right, we voluntarily went on an active volcano and into its inner crater– and it was cray.

I can honestly say that I’m not the same person I was when I last left New York City earlier this year, already. We all grow and development is natural, sure. But, I can tell you this: New Zealand has put my love of nature and understanding/intrigue natural disasters on a whole different different level.

Volcanoes are scary, yeah? Especially if they are active. But that fear inside of me, is a fire of its own, driven by a cloud of bravery that peeks over, dodging the flames and wanting to experience and understand more of the world’s offerings.

We booked a trip with White Island Tours and I honestly couldn’t sleep the two days beforehand; I was shaking in my bed sheets, worried that I was surely going to die.

I remember eating my last meal the night before: pad thai. And I remember putting on my shoes one last time that morning: hiking boots. Sure, it seems silly to some, but don’t we all go through things like this?

We checked-in around 9am that morning and departed Whakatane on a boat; destination: White Island. We passed rivers, islands, marine wildlife and, 80 minutes later, we saw her. I turned for a quick photo, thinking: “Gosh, I’m okay with just cruising, do we really need to land?” Fear was present, but there was no turning back.

We were handed life vests, hard hats and a gas mask. Anchored just a few meters away from the volcano, we got into a little inflatable raft and landed on the beach.

It was like we landed on another planet. Rocks, rubble, gas. It was all there. And the risk of disaster? Well, I appreciate that our tour guide brought up the obvious point and said that in the case of an emergency, either if the volcano were to erupt or a landslide should occur, that we should run and seek shelter behind a rock formation on the other side. Ouf!!!

My mind just couldn’t comprehend what was around me, what was happening. It was like an out-of-body experience. The only thing I knew, though, was that I was there. I was finally there.

With our tour guides leading the way, we safely walked on the volcano, avoiding ‘soft spots’ that were ready to burst should we have stepped on them and learned about all the minerals present: sulphur, iron, among others. We even learned about a mine that existed there and ceased its operation in the early 1900’s for sulphur & gypsum (a mineral you’ll find on the head of matches!), due to it being super hazardous, leading to an unfortunate event that took the lives of ten men and a few cats. One cat did, however, make it out alive and became somewhat famous in the nearby city after being rescued!

Our gas masks did come into play when we approached high levels of sulphur gases. When mixed with the saliva in your throat, it caused an irritation, causing you to cough. It dawned upon me, as my group all coughed together in a manner equal to that of an unsynchronized choir that we, as humans, are fragile. A natural gas can have this effect on us. It was honestly, pretty darn humbling.

As we approached the inner crater and saw the pool of super acidic water (a.k.a., where the eruption would occur), I wasn’t so scared anymore. Being vis-à-vis to the thing that caused me so much grief the nights prior was humbling. I let my guards down. I experienced a sense of calm. It was actually pretty darn cool.

Our tour ended shortly after and I was so bummed! I secretly wanted more. We boarded our rafts back to the boat. They gave us a light lunch and we spotted whales on the way back to Whakatane.

I was so proud that I conquered a fear and decided to go on such an excursion that led me to understand and experience more of Earth’s natural beauty; I would highly recommend the tour!!

I bought this Paua shell ring down in the South Island. Paua is native to New Zealand and it’s beautiful. The shell’s pattern in my ring below reminded me of a mountain. I feared mountains when I first arrived, but then I climbed a few. I also feared volcanoes, but I’ve now hiked on one and visited the inner crater of another. My ring will now represent mountains and volcanoes and the bravery to climb/visit them, head-on.

I love you, New Zealand.