BRENDA SARAI ZUNIGA
Brenda Sarai Zuniga is an artist, comedian, singer, pianist, author, philanthropist, motivational speaker, and mindfulness coach determined to create positive change in this world.
An exceptional and compassionate leader, Brenda is an active member in giving back on a global scale. In the last few years, she’s raised over $100,000 for children in need through her humanitarian efforts.
She created and hosts her own video podcast titled “Getting Mental with Brenda Sarai Zuniga”, bringing mental health education in a fun and relatable way. A true creative, she has found a way to blend her comedy, music, and mental health all in one. “Getting Mental with Brenda Sarai Zuniga” can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube.
She regularly speaks at schools, hospitals, and corporate events on the topics of mental health, mindfulness, and her incredible life story of adversity and triumph. Brenda is living proof of the American dream. At one year old, she was smuggled into the US and raised by teenage parents. Growing up she attended 11 schools, lived in 15 different homes, and wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until the age of 25. She credits her adversity filled upbringing for having developed incredible resilience and empathy; and humor. In 2018, she became a U.S citizen, a triumph 25 years in the making. That same year she founded Sweet Thoughts Travel Inc., a mindfulness coaching company. Using practical tools, backed by neuroscience, she helps clients optimize their ability at handling life’s inevitable difficulties.
A true queen, in 2019 she won the title of Miss Burbank USA and is the co-creator of the innovative charity campaign “Brenda’s Dress”, making its onstage debut at Miss California USA 2020. This never-before-seen charity campaign raised funds for children in need by having donors names printed on her pageant dress. “Brenda’s Dress” was featured in the LA TIMES, raised $10,000, and became the first-ever charity art piece at a pageant for the Miss Universe Organization.
A passionate mental health activist, Brenda is a nationally certified speaker for NAMI, the nation’s largest grass-root mental health organization.
An inspirational woman of many talents, Brenda Sarai Zuniga is a shining example of what can be achieved taking care of one’s mental health, having grit, and being kind.
Miss California USA
2020 & 2019.
Brenda is the co-creator of the innovative charity campaign “Brenda’s Dress”, which she debut onstage at Miss California USA 2020, the preliminary pageant to Miss USA. This never-before-seen charity campaign raised funds for children in need by having donors names printed on her pageant dress. “Brenda’s Dress” was featured in the LA TIMES, Insomniac Radio, and broadcasted on the So-Cal News. “Brenda’s Dress” raised $10,000 and became the first-ever charity art piece debut at a pageant part of the Miss Universe Organization.Read the LA TImes article
NOW THAT WE GOT THE THIRD PERSON SECTIONS OUT OF THE WAY... HERE'S THE OTHER SIDE OF ME!
MY FAVORITE THINGS:
- CONCERTS (MY HAPPY PLACE)
- DONUTS (ANY KIND. GIVE THEM ALL TO ME)
- IN-N-OUT JUNKIE (ADD SKITTLES TO THIS)
- WHITE ROSES (2ND FAVE: SUNFLOWERS)
- AMUSEMENT PARKS (DISNEY FREAK OVER HERE!)
- SOLO TRIPS (FAVE DESTINATION: COLORADO MOUNTAINS)
- BLACK TEA WITH ALMOND MILK AND STEVIA (TEA ADDICT)
- DANCE PARTIES IN MY CAR (ADD SINGING TO THIS)
- LAUGHING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS ( P.S I GET LOUD)
- MAKING FUN OF MYSELF (I’M A GOOFBALL)
- PIZZA WITH PEPPERONI + PINEAPPLE (DEEP DISH > NYC STYLE)
- COOKING WHILE LISTENING TO BILLY JOEL (LOW-KEY OBSESSED)
- PLAYING MY PIANO (HIGH-KEY OBSESSED)
- TRAVELING. ANYWHERE. (TRAVEL ADDICT TO THE MAX)
- F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (BEST TV SHOW EVAAA)
- MUSIC IS MY LIFE (MICHAEL JACKSON, BILLY JOEL, DEADMAU5, REZZ, ERIC PRYDZ, THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, MANÅ, FALL OUT BOY, SYSTEM OF A DOWN…)
- TOP 5 MOVIES (GREASE, AMERICAN PSYCHO, SERIAL MOM, WHAT ABOUT BOB, STAR WARS EPISODE IV- A NEW HOPE)
“Brenda Sarai Zuniga came to me at a pivotal time in my life. I had gone through a very rough few months that included a stint in an Intensive Outpatient Program because of a complete mental breakdown. Even being a National Ambassador for NAMI, (The National Alliance on Mental Illness), I’m not immune to my own mental health setbacks. As a recent transplant to LA, I had very few people to lean on during periods of my episodes of depression and anxiety, but friends and family always helped over the phone. This time was different. I needed help and after the system failing me over and over for weeks I almost gave up. Luckily, I got into a program that gave me resources to a psychiatrist and with the help of modern medicine I could at least get up on my feet again to function.
Over the course of 3 months I barely ate, lost 10 pounds, moved into a new home, and the holidays were coming up. I graduated the program I was in, but I refused to go to a therapist again after a bad experience that jolted me into an episode. My psychiatrist (for those who don’t know, they only give medication, not therapy, but do ask how you’re doing) urged me that medication will HELP but ultimately the way I thought about myself was going to keep me healthy long term and I needed to start talking positively to myself. As he spoke I started to cry, “How can I do that if I don’t believe it?” He gave me some exercises and told me to come back in 2 weeks to check on how I’m feeling.
In these two weeks, Christmas was coming. I had been working with Brenda with NAMI for a while but we reconnected at a holiday gathering for the organization. She later invited me to spend Christmas with her and we chatted about her story, why she became a Mindfulness Coach, and what it actually means. I told her that I’ve always rolled my eyes at meditation because I felt I wasn’t “Zen” enough to sit quiet for 20 minutes not thinking. I wanted to try but I didn’t know if it would work for me… Quickly, she explained what she actually did, and a week or so later she gave me a Gratitude Journal to start my journey with baby steps.
And then… after months of contemplating living or not, I chose to live. I know I didn’t WANT to go, but I felt I was really at the end, and I had no reason to choose to live. She made me realize I was the reason to live, that we have the power within ourselves to not just “be so happy and positive” (because that always sounded so cheesy to me) but to LIVE.
Brenda and Sweet Thoughts Travel really did save my life. I tell her this all the time, but I believe she came into my life at that moment because something knew I needed help. She’s given me small exercises and homework at my speed and they’re so small they can be done in a matter of minutes. It will set you up for a great day, week, year, and maybe restart a day that started on the wrong side of bed.
I recommend Brenda and Sweet Thoughts Travel to everyone, young or old, this is a true gift to give to yourself. The ability to CHOSE to love yourself and to live everyday. Now, there’s nothing stopping me from going no matter what the circumstances.
I’m so proud of myself and my psychiatrist is pretty proud of me too ;)”