you can’t get it if you don’t ask for it

Many, many years ago, I stumbled across an article entitled “Glenna’s Goal Book.”  It was in the pre-Internet era, but I’m sure if it were circulating now, it would go viral. I was in a very difficult place in my life and actively searching for guidance and support.  When I read the article, it felt as if someone were speaking directly to me.

Here it is:

In 1977 I was a single mother with three young daughters, a house payment, a car payment, and a need to rekindle some dreams.  One evening  I attended a seminar and heard a man speak on the I x V = R Principle (Imagination mixed with Vividness becomes Reality).  The speaker pointed out that the mind thinks in pictures, not in words.  And as we vividly picture in our mind what we desire, it will become a reality.

This concept struck a chord of creativity in my heart.  I knew the Biblical truth that the Lord gives us “the desires of our heart” (Psalms 37:4) and that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).  I was determined to take my written prayer list and turn it into pictures.  I began cutting up old magazines and gather pictures that depicted the “desires of my heart.”  I arranged them in an expensive photo album and waited expectantly.  I was very specific with my pictures.  They included:

1.  A good-looking man.
2.  A woman in a wedding gown and a man in a tuxedo.
3.  Bouquets of flowers (I’m a romantic).
4.  Beautiful diamond jewelry (I rationalized that God loved David and Solomon and they were two of the richest men who ever lived).
5. An island in the sparkling Caribbean.
6.  A lovely home.
7.  New furniture.
8.  A woman who had recently become the vice-president of a large corporation.  (I was working for a company that had no female officers.  I wanted to be the first vice-president in that company.)

About eight weeks later, I was driving down a California freeway, minding my own business at 10:30 in the morning.  Suddenly a gorgeous red and white Cadillac passed me.  I looked at the car because it was a beautiful care.  And the driver looked at me and smiled, and I smiled back because I always smile.  Now I was deep trouble.  Have you ever done that?  I tried to pretend that I hadn’t looked.  “Who me?  I didn’t look at you!”  He followed me for the next 15 miles.  Scared me to death!  I drove a few miles, he drove a few miles.  I parked, he parked…. and eventually I married him!

On the first day after our first date, Jim sent me a dozen roses.  Then I found out that he had a hobby.  His hobby was collecting diamonds.  Big ones!  And he was looking for somebody to decorate.  I volunteered!  We dated for about two years and every Monday morning I received a long-stemmed red rose and a love note from him.

About three months before we were getting married, Jim said to me, “I have found the perfect place to go on our honeymoon.  We will go to St. John’s island down in the Caribbean.”  I laughingly said, “I never would have thought of that!”

I did not confess the truth about my picture book until Jim and I had been married for almost a year.  It was then that we were moving into our gorgeous new home and furnishing it with the elegant furniture that I had pictured.  (Jim turned out to be the West Coast wholesale distributor for one of the finest Eastern furniture manufacturers.)

By the way, the wedding was in Laguna Beach, CA, and included the gown and tuxedo as realities.  Eight months after I created my dream book, I became the Vice-President of Human Resources in the company where I worked.

In some sense this sounds like a fairy tale, but it is absolutely true.  Jim and I have made many “picture books” since we have been married.  God has filled our lives with the demonstration of these powerful principles of faith at work.

Decide what it is that you want in every area of your life.  Imagine it vividly.  Then act on your desires by actually constructing your personal goal book.  Convert your dreams to into concrete realities through this simple exercise.  There are no impossible dreams.  And remember, God has promised to give his children the desires of of their hearts.

I did just as Glenna directed.  I gathered together a huge stack of old magazines, grabbed a pair of scissors, and began to assemble my own goal book.  My goal book included pages on my career (which was in its infancy), my love life, my hoped-for future family life, my future home, and my ideal wardrobe (I was VERY poor at that point, and clothes were like diamonds for me then).  For the first few months, I looked at it frequently, gently running my fingers across the pictures and imagining that they were real, genuine, mine.  Then I put it away and mostly forgot about it, until earlier this week, when I was going through some old boxes of keepsakes and memories and there, at the bottom, was the daisy-embellished photo album:  my goal book.

I hesitated to open it.  There is something very painful in coming face to face with unrealized dreams.  But open it I did, and I was astounded.  As I turned page after page, I got chill after chill, for there, before me on those yellowed photo album pages, were images that could have been taken from my own life, rather than random magazines and newspapers.  I had constructed this goal book sometime in 1994 or 1995, prior to finishing graduate school or  meeting my husband.  But nearly every single aspect of my goal book had been achieved within the a few short years of its creation.

Much has been made of the power of visualization.  We humans are hungry for a surefire plan that leads to the realization of all of our deepest hopes and desires.  The Secret and The Law of Attraction each sold millions recently, but long before that, Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking and Werner Erhard’s “est” seminars offered up guidance on how to use our minds to influence our realities. Indeed, even Glenna Salsbury, author of the piece above, went on to become a successful motivational speaker.

Now, I’m generally of the mindset that where there’s a lot of smoke, there must be some fire, and this applies to even fringe beliefs or practices.   If they’ve been around a long time, in one form or another, and haven’t been completely discarded, then I tend to think that there is a little kernel of truth wrapped up inside whatever the contemporary packaging of the day is.  And lately, this concept of visualization has been a recurring theme in my life.

I recently spent a day with a friend with whom I share similar spiritual philosophies.  I frequently turn to her for guidance when I’m stuck.  After telling her where I was in my life, she told me stories of people she knew (including herself) who had declared their deepest needs or most precious desires publicly to a close group of caring friends and found their declarations answered in short order.

The story of one woman, in particular, stuck with me.  For some time, her life had been filled with frustration and pain and loneliness.  She finally grew weary of it, and one night she stood up and declared, in front of her friends, what she needed in her life (in her case, it was a “good man.”)  Her friends applauded and vouched their support. Within two months, she was dating said “good man,” and was so stunned by her good fortune that she was scared to believe it.  Ultimately, she must have overcome her fear, because they are now married.

I have done quite a bit of reading about the power of asking the universe, or God, or whatever force you believe in, for help in achieving your goals, whatever they may be.  And a constant — and I do mean constant — thread running through various spiritual and secular approaches is that you must ask for the help, and you must be clear in your intention.  In fact, it seems that the clearer you are (as in the example of Glenna’s goal book), the better the universal forces will be able to line up your heart’s desires.

This being the case, I’m kind of surprised that the woman from the example above was able to find her happiness with a request as vague as “a good man,” but perhaps she truly was at a place where that one, broad definition was all she needed.  Or maybe, in her private moments, she provided more detail as to what “good” meant for her, what it looked like, how it would feel.  Either way, the point is that she felt her prayer or declaration had been answered, and isn’t that really the important part?

I have numerous examples from my own life when I have, in moments of desperation or empowerment, declared my needs to the universe and found them granted in such an obvious and clear fashion that I am left stunned by own relative powerlessness.  In my experience, the more specific my requests, the more quickly they are delivered in a manner in which I recognize them.   However, sometimes, when I’m really not sure what will work for me, I offer a vague prayer along with the trust that some being I can’t see will know better than I what it is that I need.  This was true a year after my separation, when the part-time jobs I had were no longer going to be able to sustain me financially.  I calmly sent out word that I needed a job.  A good one.  Fast.  Within a month, I had applied for two good jobs (the job market was shockingly bad), and got one of them.

So much of my life is really very rich and blessed, that sometimes I feel terribly guilty for not being satisfied with what I already have.  But then I remind myself that we are not in control of our own heart; it wants what it wants without reference to or permission from our brain.  And so I forgive myself for my wanting and try to figure out how to get that for which my heart is clamoring.  I am not yet at a place where I could comfortably and confidently declare to my friends my heart’s desire, although I can feel and appreciate the power in that, and so have set it as a personal goal.   In the meantime, I will work on a new goal book, and meditate or pray — vividly and with specificity — on my desires, and see what appears.

Stay tuned……

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3 Comments

Filed under dating, divorce, general musings, relationships, single mom, work

3 responses to “you can’t get it if you don’t ask for it

  1. Pingback: 10 Things I Want In My Next Relationship | Match Penalty

  2. Aarti

    Do I really need to construct a picture book? I have imagined the life I want, very vividly in my mind, and the photos in magazines don’t really correspond to that. Instead of constructing a book, can I simply save the images in a folder on my computer? My mother says I daydream a lot, but I imagine the desires of my heart, and pretend I already have it…

    • In my experience, it seems that envisioning things is the key part, and most people do that more easily with concrete photos. But I don’t think it’s vital, and visualization may accomplish the same thing for you.

      One thing to think about, if you do decide to do a dream book, is that you don’t need to have photos that perfectly capture your dream literally — you can cut out words, or photos that capture the emotions that would be part of your dream. The dream book does not have to literal at all — it can be very interpretive and representative of what you imagine. It only has to evoke — for you and you only — the images you are striving toward.

      Good luck to you!

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