Tori Holmes: Fear as an expression

At 21, Tori Holmes, was the youngest female to row across the Atlantic Ocean at the time. Her epic journey, shared with her then boyfriend Paul Gleeson, involved enduring a hurricane, dehydration; sleep deprivation, severe physical pain and psychological gymnastics. 

Today, 9 years later, Tori blazes forth in the world as a story teller and entrepreneur. Most recently she co-founded Nectar Juicery – a juice company with a vision to change the face of modern nourishment and using juice as a tool to help people connect food is healing. 

People have accused Tori of being fearless but, she says it’s quite the opposite – she’s scared all the time; she was terrified when she rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and launching a company in a competitive market is a daunting feat.

She claims that it’s your relationship to fear that determines your fate.

Q) Tell us what being Fearless means to you.

I’ve never experienced fearlessness. 

Fear is an expression of your intuition and it presents you with two choices: harness it and use it to propel you forward or get paralyzed and stagnate. 

I am scared most days. In the face of the unknown our bodies are programmed for fight or flight. Being afraid and achieving what people say cannot be done should scare you. But it shouldn’t stop you from chasing what you desire.

Q) Please share part of your journey with us. When you were out there, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, what were your thoughts and feelings?

It was lonely and liberating. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, in nature, you have no choice but to wander into the best and the darkest parts of yourself. It was a unique gift, to meet myself in such a raw, vulnerable way at a young age. 

We created routine to keep our sanity: each day started with a cleansing ritual to decipher one day from another; face washed, teeth brushed, hair combed and the day began. Specific music was played on loop during certain times of the day to help pass consistent low points. We clung to it like a lifeline knowing that in seconds the ocean could shift from a glassy plane into a vicious, rolling storm with waves 30 – 60 feet high.

The unknown is what inspires fear in us. Travelling across the ocean is a dance with ambiguity. My thoughts pounded daily: “what is under the boat?” “How deep is the ocean here?” “Will we survive this hurricane?" We couldn’t know; we just had to keep rowing.

We would imagine coming ashore and completing the journey so often that it felt like a lucid reality. Each day was a battle of harnessing the fear enough to keep me awake and rowing towards that goal: the dream of crossing the ocean. 

Q) What has fear given you?

Moving forward in the face of fear has taught me that a fear of experiencing fear is wasted energy. Fear is one of many tools I use to guide me in making life’s decisions.

The greatest lesson about fear came at sea: I learned that it’s ok to be scared. Move forward with confidence and if you cannot move forward confidently, dance somewhere in the middle with your head high. Choose to sit with fear in a way that you can to move forward with life.


I realize I can’t be fearless and accomplish the impossible. I embrace fear and use it to guide me through my journey every day. 

Posted By: Nicole Parmar

Photo Credit: Suzanne Rushton Photography