Anybody who has met Sandi Dekker, the founder and creator of myUTOPIA, can attest to what an incredibly passionate, and giving person she is.
myUTOPIA, a boutique lifestyle centre, situated in the heart of the V&A Waterfront is far more than just a studio. With Sandi’s big heart, she has created a sanctuary….. a safe space that no matter what you are feeling or dealing with, together with her staff, they will celebrate you and your accomplishments, and you will undoubtedly feel better when you leave, than when you arrived.
Covid-19 meant a shift in some things that were supposed to be non-negotiable at myUTOPIA.
In a matter of days after Lockdown was announced, Sandi had to change their offering from that dynamic physical space of connection, to replicate one of a very different “virtual” world.
At the start, thinking it would be for 21 days, they created an offering that was free and accessible to everybody, but when the extension was announced, they realized it was not sustainable and that they would have to find a solution to ensure they could look after their staff and teachers.
Although the concept was fresh, and a great way to stay connected, as time progressed, they felt that the people were wary-ing of the Zoom sessions, and it was apparent that they really missed the energy that came with meeting in the myUTOPIA space. This continues to be challenging, since nothing “virtual” beats actual touch, and a shared space.
Social media proved to be a great way for passing on information, so that they could be more proactive about any changes and provide updates on what they were doing for the community.
With the onset of their hosting a series of live conversations and interviews, they managed to connect with people on different levels of honesty through their heartfelt conversations.
She says, she had made the decision at the beginning that she could not change reality, and that she would accept it, as there was no alternative so, then and there, Sandi made the choice to make the most of it.
One of the big mind shifts Sandi faced during this time, was that since she had been married, her husband had always commuted and would only ever be home over the weekends. But with the onset of lockdown they spent the most extended period of our lives ever, together!
Sandi says: ”Since the Pandemic, the only part that I have really struggled with, was not being able to exercise my dogs. There was no way to explain to them why they could not walk, and it has been reasonably depressing for them.”.
The biggest challenge has been seeing the plight of people on a socio-economic scale, and the devastation in families caused by the loss of income. This has highlighted the very real poverty issues, economic disparity as well as the extent of mental wellness issues.
One of her meaningful ”take-homes”, is that she has come to appreciate that there is no reason to live life at the manic pace she had become accustomed to, and now really values the gift of time. Sandi believes this time has made her deeply aware that every moment is precious, that nothing should be taken granted and to appreciate each day. She says the experience has deepened her faith, acknowledging that man is naive, to think they are ”in control”, as COVID-19 has clearly shown to what extent man is in fact, powerless.
On the positive side, Sandi said it had been really amazing to see parents reconnect with their children, and extended families….all spending quality time together and trying to create different experiences, and that she’s loved hearing the sound of kids playing and life going back to basics and the awareness of life’s simple pleasures.
Sandi’s frank wrap-up of what she stands for in her business and private life read…”It’s a constant battle to live up to everyone’s expectations – I am stretched between being all things to all people and the (generally unfulfilled) desire to both BE ME and ACT ME; and make connections with people who are genuinely rooting for my wellbeing. Mostly I have a burning desire to live a life where I am the best version of myself, and strive to provide the framework, and tools for that experience, for my fellowman”.