Fire Walker

Tony Robbins was just in town doing his Unleash the Power Within (UPW) Event. So, of course I have to reminisce about the time I went…

It was a year and a half ago and I was hemming & hawing about starting Normal Nelly. I had purchased the domain name but hadn’t really started publishing. I had all these AMAZING ideas but I was afraid of putting them out there where they would be SEEN and ANALYZED by other people (gasp!).

So, my husband, being the amazing man that he is, surprised me with a UPW ticket for my birthday. Really, my hubby is amazing. Because you see, he was the Tony Robbins fan. He had read Tony’s books, watched Tony’s videos and dreamed of attending UPW. But instead of splurging on himself, he got me a ticket to see Tony Robbins live because he thought I needed it more.

I just love him.

The whole 4 day loooooooooooong event, of course, is killer. Bomb. Amaze. But let’s focus on the Fire Walk. Leading up to it, I was stoked. I was all in. I was going to WALK ON FIRE for crying out loud! I was going to rip the anxieties out of my brain and throw them away forever. I would be a card carrying BADASS and I couldn’t wait.

But just like in real life, all the motivational hoo-ha isn’t worth a dime unless you can take action — aka walk on mah fuckin fire. And by fire, I mean, actual (insert cute emojii flames here). I don’t know how familiar you are with Tony’s whole fire walk thang, but let me just tell you —  it’s real. Imagine a bed of burning coals — there’s some black…some gray…and ORANGE! Glowing, throbbing radiating ORANGE. AKA hot. AKA pain. AKA OMFG.

Tony had been talking about the Fire Walk all day, stoking us up mentally as his team was stoking up the coals outside. Early in the afternoon, I started losing steam. My stomach felt funny and my head was pounding. Uh-oh.

Was I getting sick? Was that taco plate I had for lunch just the wrong choice? I tried to ignore the icky feelings in my tum and focus on Tony. But that nagging, nauseous draining feeling would not let up. Then my head began to pound and it was hard to be present with Tony’s words. Hours and hours went by. Trying to find some comfort, I left my seat in the audience and found a spot on the outskirts of the hall, where I could sit on the cool concrete floor by myself and breathe.  At this point, the walk was imminent. The room was dark and Tony was leading us through some meditation/visualization prep.

I thought, “how crap would it be if I got this far and my hubs spent all this $ on me, and I didn’t do the walk?”

But I felt genuinely ill. It’s not my fault. I’m not doing it on purpose. I’m sick! Then it hit me — I was FOSing (Freak Out Session) about walking on fire! I was making myself physically sick as a way to get out of doing it! Holy crap!

I know this about myself because it has happened many times. Before, during or immediately after an anxiety-provoking event, I can become very very sick. Think migraine with a large side of vomit. This is how my mind tries to protect me.  Mmm hmmm.  Thanks.

Becoming sick will make me get away from whatever is making me scared…a party, a work presentation, an interview, WALKING ON ACTUAL SMOKING FIRE.

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Wait – I came here, actually my hubby sent me here, to learn some tools for pushing through my anxiety. And now, right before the Fire Walk I’m gonna go home? Because my mind is telling my body to be sick because my mind is scurred?

NOPE!!!

Nope.

Unacceptable.

UN-FUCKING-ACCEPTABLE.

These two realities were just going to have to deal with each other:

1. I am sick

2. I am going to walk on fire

Nelly, of course, jumps in like, “WTF? You’re staying?!?!? Getting sick ALWAYS works! We always run away and go home when we get sick. What is going on here?!?!?!”

Nelly was understandably shocked by this coupe, and might I add, a bit vengeful with that last trip to the bathroom. Ugh.

Of course, by this time, Tony had already asked everyone to find a Fire Walking Buddy. Crap. There were like 9,999 people in the audience and 9,998 of them were all paired up, ready to go. And then me. Sigh. This was just not going to be easy on any level.

Dang it! I was socializing with my seatmates the whole day —  until I got sick and went to go sit by myself — and now, I’m sure they were all paired up. Then Tony said, “If you STILL don’t have a Fire Walking Buddy, go stand next to one of the volunteers in the aisle holding the ‘Loser’ signs and they will get you paired up.”  (Actually the signs  said ‘Buddy’ but Nelly likes to embellish).

I made my way over to the closest sign-wielding volunteer and was relieved to discover that I was not the only one w/o a partner. A very nice guy, maybe 10 yrs younger than me,  took me under his wing and declared me his Fire Walking Buddy.  Thank the Lord he had enough verve for the both of us.

We had to turn to our buddy and tell them why we were doing the walk. Why we were here. I told him that I was doing this to push through my anxiety. I also told him that I was currently barfy and migraine-ey. He was ok with that.

And so it began. We took off our shoes and socks, and left them under the closest chair. We followed the masses out of the conference hall, into the dark night and lined up behind 30 rows of hot burning coals. I held onto my partner’s arm most of the way. He was doing all the talking since I could not. I was well beyond my comfort zone and it took all I had just to be there, putting one cold, bare foot in front of the other.

After all, during a typical Nelly-induced migraine I would have escaped by now. I’d be lying in bed, feeling less and less sick, but more and more guilty for running away.

Instead I was in line, inching toward the fire.

It’s always the anticipation that gets me. Talking about it, thinking about it, standing in front of it, Looking at it. Thinking about it some more. It’s the worst.

FINALLY we got to the front. My partner went across first and then it was just me. Standing in front of a long, hot smoking track of pure TERROR. The volunteer in charge of that line looked me in the eyes and said “Go!”

I didn’t think, I just went. Step 1…Step 2…Step 3…I didn’t feel a thing until…Step 4 my thoughts started spinning again…and BURN! As in…flesh! Ahhhh!!! I hustled up through each scalding step to the end.

I DID IT!!!!!

I thought, as I squished my feet up and down on the soggy grass pads on the other side of the fire walk.

I did it.

Anxiety and all. Fear and all. Nelly and I. We all walked across fire. Together.

I learned a very important lesson that day – you can’t wait until you get rid of your fear or anxiety to act. You will always have some measure of apprehension. That is just how the brain is wired. Fight or flight baby. The trick is to take the action regardless. If Nelly pops up, well then, she’s coming along for the ride. Saddle up.

And here’s the part I’m not sure I should tell you — I was pregnant!!!!!!

I know, right?!?!

You see, being pregnant made it impossible for me to bitch out. I had to grab Nelly by the hand and drag her across that fire because I wanted to be a courageous example for my daughter. I was teaching myself to move forward, however uncomfortable I felt… and I was taking my daughter with me.

This is precisely why my hubs sent me to UPW. I was supposed to walk across fire, carrying my daughter, while feeling physically ill and mentally FREAKED.

That was a life-changing moment for me. I am so thankful for the opportunity to, as Tony says:

“Set a New Standard! Defy the Odds! Step Up! Step Up! Step Up!”

And now, my 10 month old daughter is everything you would expect of a Fire Walker —  a total BOSS.