I want to share a thought I have been having over the last couple of months since Matt and I won the Amazing Race. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a CBS reality show where eleven teams of two race around the world and take part in the ultimate international scavenger hunt. At the end, one team wins it all and a one million dollar prize. I was 28 when we won season 28…
What I really can’t stop thinking is: “What are the odds?” To date there have been 28 teams who have won the American version of the show, including Matt and I, out of a little over 300 who have played…those odds are pretty impressive- but what about when you factor in the thousands and thousands who have auditioned?
To audition, get cast and then play to the end and WIN? thats pretty incredible/unlikely.
A lot of you may even be thinking, “that’s lucky.” At first, that thought crossed my mind too and then I wondered… is it? I started to think through the process that led us to that moment on the winner’s mat and I began to see a divine plan unfold. (Disclaimer: I am not religious and I am not a believer in “fate” or “destiny.” I firmly believe our thoughts create our life.)
Many people don’t know this but Matt and I began auditioning as a team for the show about 5 years ago. I also applied for 3 years before that with a different partner. Each time it was always the same thing, someone would call us and express interest but we never made it all the way. Something was always off… Now I recognize that “Something” to be timing.
In all the years of visualization we never, ever pictured just competing on the race… we ALWAYS pictured winning. Winning would take readiness- it would take physical and mental preparation that 8 years ago and even 3 or 4 years ago- I didn’t have. I had to learn things and be ready to accept something like winning half a million dollars. I had to battle anxiety and learn to trust in the Universe’s timing. I had to learn to trust myself.
Eventually, after countless audition tapes and even a live audition (we drove through the night to San Fransisco and slept outside to be seen by producers)– we put it on the back burner. It remained part of our bucket list, so to speak, and I always found myself thinking about it, wondering about it and picturing us running to that mat as winners before I fell asleep at night. Here is a photo of my vision board that I looked at for the year before we were chosen to run the race….
Kind of scary huh? Not only did I visualize the race and the prize… but do you see that helicopter? I had never ridden in one before and it turns out the first time I did, it was to the final destination where we would go on to win. Coincidence? Could be…But what if it isn’t. What if I created, anticipated, almost willed some of it to happen?
I think about the choices we made when we were preparing…we didn’t do much out of the ordinary, but one thing we did focus on was rock climbing… one of the key tasks in the final challenge.
I think back even further to when I was younger and my grandpa would sit with me for hours in awe of my memory. He always praised me for having a mind like a steel trap and would play the memory game with me for days on end, even though he could never beat me- he always wanted to play. He wanted to cultivate that skill in me, the skill that would go on to win me a half a million dollars a couple of decades later.
After Matt and I were not taken through the casting for the race after our numerous audition attempts we didn’t do much else, aside from putting it on our vision board and watching old episodes religiously, not that there was much we could do lol. We just went on with our regular lives and followed our paths in dance. It turns out our path led us down the road of social media. We began to do what dancers had never done before and acquire a social media following and a youtube channel that would go on to become the largest dance channel in the world. We weren’t seeking that necessarily, it just kind of found us. It was very organic the way we fell into social media- it was something we were doing because we enjoyed it… and then it caught fire.
And then… we got the call.
A casting director told us that they were organizing a new season of the Amazing Race, a never been done before “Social Media Themed” season. He said he was browsing Youtube and recognized one of the photos on Matt’s channel from one of our previous applications. Odds? ….
If that doesn’t get you, how about this? In the first leg we were paired with a cameraman and sound guy (Alan and Steve) that we really loved. Since the race left from our houses, Alan, our camera guy was in our house taking some shots for B roll or what have you. He went into the bathroom and came to notice a piece of paper we had taped to the bathroom mirror. It said “ We are going to WIN the Amazing Race Season 28 #BlackTeam.” It was where we would see it every morning and repeat it to ourselves as soon as we woke up. Alan noticed it and commented on it and at first, I felt a little embarrassed and silly. Someone who didn’t get visualization might think we were crazy or cocky lol We thought we would win and we hadn’t even left the house.
We won that first leg and then alternated camera/sound crews throughout the show. We never had Alan and Steve again… until the final leg. Matt and I said after the first leg that if were lucky enough to get them back in the last leg that we could win it all, so when we saw them waiting for us in the lobby for that last leg, we were over the top excited. I never would have expected Alan to remember such a small moment in my bathroom that happened a month ago- but on the way to the final challenge he turned to me in the car and asked me about that posted sign on our bathroom mirror. The sign I scribbled on an old piece of paper on the way out the door to teach a private lesson. I explained to him that we used it to visualize our winning every day. Alan could have laughed, but he didn’t- he didn’t day anything at all. After we won, there was a farewell dinner for all the cast members and Alan came over to me and said, “I use visualization too.” He opened his phone and showed me his note in his calendar for that date- he had written it before the leg began… it said “Dana and Matt win the Amazing race.”
I guess the point of this post is that even though it was unlikely, I don’t think it was random, accidental or even lucky. This didn’t just happen- it was years in the making; A whole lifetime in creation. Years of visualizing, planning, picturing what it would like like, how it would feel. I’m not trying to say I am that powerful of a person and I can make things happen just by imagining they will… but yea actually, I kind of am saying that— and I think you are that powerful too. A long time ago someone explained visualization to me and said, “you don’t need the how, you just need to know what.” You don’t need to think of how it will happen or come to be- you just need to know what your desire is. For example, say you want to make $100,000 – you don’t need to picture how you will make it, just imagine receiving the check and how it would feel to see that money in your bank account, how you’ll spend it, etc. Let the universe handle the how. You just need to picture it, believe in it with every ounce of your being, live each day like you are waiting on the universe to deliver that desire to you- whatever it is. In retrospect I can see all the hints, all the warnings, all the signs the universe sent me to prepare me to complete this mission and live out this life long dream. I didn’t recognize them at the time but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. I felt compelled to learn to drive stick shift before we were even called, to sign us up for rock climbing, to drag us to San Fransisco in the middle of the night, I even booked us a trip to Santa Barbara for New Years a couple years ago never realizing the race would lead us back there. We began to travel a lot and that experience sure came in handy too.
I mean, what the hell do I know really…? Maybe I’m way off and life is a series of serendipitous moments that culminate in grand victories or earth shattering defeats. Maybe there’s no preparation or rhyme or reason- sometimes I feel that way too. Every once in a while though, moments like winning the race trigger an “A-Ha!” moment for me and I begin to feel like maybe it’s not so arbitrary. I would like to believe we have some control and ability to create our lives and so I continue to put my hopes and dreams out into the world… then I wait patiently for signs from the universe. Sometimes even the heartbreaks can be preparing you, readying you for what lie ahead. To me there’s so much hope in believing that, that the darkness is only preparing us to receive the light. How will you know when you get a sign? Sometimes it’s just a little nudge, a feeling in the pit of your stomach that urges you to do something in a moment. Sometimes its thoughts and urgings so powerful they keep you up at night- just pay attention to your feelings, trust your gut and get used to accepting “coincidences” as signals sent by the universe, ushering you forward on your path toward your true hearts desire. I’m really grateful that I did.
P.S My best friend watched our “time capsule” which was a cute little message that CBS had us leave to ourselves before we left for the race that we were meant to watch after we returned home. She made a funny observation that we were the only team that spoke in our time capsule as though we had already won… we never even realized we were doing that.