My Experience in Utopia
It’s now two days post the cancellation of Utopia and I’m still processing. I’m still insulated— sitting here in solitude at the desk in my hotel room in Valencia, CA. I haven’t watched any episodes or web clips yet—there is a part of me that wonders if I ever will. I’m at peace in this very moment and excited for the journey ahead.
I’ve spent some time on Twitter, but barely any time on Facebook as I’ll be sorting through it all over the next few weeks. I’m beyond grateful for all the love and support I have received. It is truly inspiring. This morning I posted a picture of Amanda and I on Instagram—it was funny to experience a proper dinner together all clean and tidy in our everyday clothes.
I’ve talked to my parents and some friends on the phone. I’ve sent some text messages here and there, but I still feel insulated. I prefer it for the time being, as it will come to an end very soon. I figured it best to write about my experience now—before any interviews and before moving on. Writing is therapeutic. It allows me to reflect on my experiences, taking with me the lessons for continued growth and evolution.
Note: This post is long. I invite you to read what you like, absorbing what you choose and leaving the rest. This is part of my closure. This is my perception based on my experience at this time.
Despite having appreciated the time away from technology, it feels good to connect to the keyboard. I’ve missed this feeling of inspiration as words and thoughts channel through me down to my fingertips, tapping away a soothing melody as I create a message to share my innermost thoughts and feelings.
And so where to begin…
Utopia was one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever stayed on. I am so grateful to say that was home for about 65 days. We were nestled between breathtaking mountains living amongst the large, wise elder trees. There was a serenity and peace in the air that was truly magical. The sound of the waterfall created a calming ambiance. The dewy morning air transformed daily into a crisp clean breeze. I’ll never forget how different and breath taking the views were in all the different parts of Utopia.
My favorite times of the day were the stillness of the mornings before sunrise, and the beauty of the sunsets just before dusk. I’ll miss watching the rising of the sun and the moon. The blooming of the wildflowers and the marigolds filled me with joy. Lying on the grass gazing up at the blue sky was most enjoyable on days the clouds grazed on by. I truly have a romance with nature—she soothes the soul and ignites a flame of inspiration.
My morning yoga and meditation dock sessions kept me grounded and started my days off perfectly. On the few days I did a midday or evening practice the effects weren’t the same. I cherish morning rituals that facilitate grounding despite the ups and downs of the day.
Despite not having the luxury of books, teachers, Internet, music, and other modalities to explore my morning routine, it was wonderful to listen to my body and intuitively guide myself through daily meditation and yoga. Stretching and moving the muscles of the body and mind create stamina and grace, energizing us through the day.
Getting to know and live with 20 different people who I may have never met in life under typical circumstances was such an amazing experience! Wow! To see how we all lived together day in and day out, affecting each other to the point that we were all in each other’s dreams was so cool. I laughed and cried with one awesome Hillbilly and had great intellectually stimulating conversations with a Tea Party member—just to name two.
This project only confirms my desire to spread the message of equality, acceptance, and unconditional love—the uniqueness, depth, complexity and beauty of each pioneer shined so brightly it was impossible to place any of us into neatly labeled boxes. One thing is for sure—We are all human and we are all connected.
Creating a Utopia…
Although initially hesitant to sign up for this project because of all the fears about what could go wrong, I decided to listen to the advice I often share with clients and dive head first into the unknown and the uncomfortable. Without risk, there is no chance for reward. Without pushing our boundaries and getting uncomfortable there is no room for growth.
Once I signed up for this experiment I was hopeful and committed. I still truly believe that 15 strangers from very different backgrounds can come together, rise above differences, and work together in harmony to create a Utopia. The friendship between Amanda and I proved this.
The physical and tangible aspects of Utopia would of course be a compromise and a medley of each of our visions. I truly believe that we could have created a Utopia in which everyone’s needs could have been met and where everyone could have been happy to live.
What I came to realize, however, was that Utopia is a state of mind. It’s a process. It’s a process of growth and evolution to find happiness. And the only way we can ever truly be happy is to be happy with ourselves first. Happiness lies within me and within you. Happiness is not the material possessions we accrue. It isn’t anyone’s responsibility to make us happy. We can choose to find our own Utopia within ourselves, which can then manifest into the material world.
Utopia is about acceptance—accepting who we are and where we are, and choosing to love others and ourselves exactly as is. We can choose to love anyway. We live in a transient world—nothing is permanent. The sufferings and the pleasures pass.
The Challenges Triumphed…
I assumed the biggest challenges would be the interpersonal dynamics, which indeed was true. Imagine living in close proximity to 14 other people confined to the same area and being under 24-hour surveillance. This was indeed meant to challenge our mental and emotional bodies. This was the perfect setting for personal growth to occur. Without the distractions of technology and vices there was nowhere to look but within. What a gift! To observe my level of patience and compassion, as well as the natural cycle of emotions in the eye of storms and sunny days was fascinating. We had the choice to act or react.
It takes time for people to grow as individuals let alone as a group, and thus time was against us. Sure it was a bumpy start, which was to be expected, and we were just beginning chapter three of the 12-chapter saga.
On the timeline given, we succeeded. I witnessed positive, personal growth in all of the Utopians. Trust me, I know that everything wasn’t rainbows and unicorns all the time, and at the same time, I know that each one of us was given an opportunity to examine ourselves with moments of true self-reflection and insight, as well as the choice to change for the better. I have no doubt that each pioneer is taking something positive from this experience.
Even on the food front we were winning! Beginning with white flour, milk, and canned goods, by the end we were nourishing our bodies with fresh produce, organics when possible, and options to meet every dietary need. Some of my favorite memories of Utopia were cooking in the kitchen. Sure I was scared the week I was asked to cook, but I succeeded! I was able to cook a healthy, balanced meal on a budget for the largest group I’ve cooked for yet, while meeting all dietary needs. Another challenge triumphed! And so is life. Sure we can choose to stay in our comfort zone and steer clear of facing fears and challenges, but then we may never find out just how much we are capable of.
We also proved to ourselves that we were able to become self-sustainable by using our talents and skills. We were just embarking on creating a home together. On a year timeline a Utopia could have been achieved.
Personally, this experience was super positive. With choosing to change my lifestyle to a more spiritual track, it was an opportunity to test myself in so many ways. It’s easy for the monk on the mountain to keep centered and calm. It’s when challenged by interactions with the world and others that we are able to see the progress we have made and where to continue self-work.
Knowing what I know now I would have packed much differently. And at the same time it all happened so perfectly. Mistakes turned into blessings.
I wish I had filled my journal. I wish I had taken more mindful walks around Utopia. I wish I had taken a boat ride!
Ultimately, I have no regrets. If I could do it all over again, I would. I’m happy to be interviewed and share my experience.
Back to the world…
Interestingly the most challenging part of acclimating back to reality is seeing the dependence our culture has on technology. This is the longest I’ve stayed disconnected. By having our cell phones be an extension of our hands and constantly checking into the virtual world, I’ve noticed a huge difference with people connecting. Pardon, may I have your undivided attention? Without the distraction of cell phones, it was so beautiful to have everyone fully present for conversations and gatherings in Utopia! Last night at dinner I made a rule that cell phones had to be put away and I plan to continue this rule with anyone I choose to dine with!
Moving forward my intention is to continue to empower people to live a healthier, happier existence using tools like positive mindset, yoga, nutrition, meditation, constructive communication, and more. I’m inspired to continue learning and to share my journey.
I’m excited for the next part of my journey to begin. I’m inspired and motivated to continue spreading love. We can always choose to love anyway. Regardless of what is happening around us we can still choose to see through a lens of love and compassion.
Although I practice gratitude daily and have lived with families in third world countries, this experience has only intensified my gratitude for the little things in life we may take for granted. I am truly grateful for the bed I have to sleep in, the clean clothes I have to wear, the shoes on my feet, the hot water to bathe in, the food there is to eat, the love in my life, and so much more…
Finally, I want to say thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for the magnificent outcome to this life changing opportunity. Thank you to the production and casting teams. Thank you to all the pioneers. Thank you to my friends and family. Thank you to all the supporters of Utopia—your positivity and love is felt.