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Column: See it to believe it

When well-known authors of self-help books appeared on two Oprah shows last month, both shows had the same theme: how to attract the life we want. That we deserve. One step is to make a visualization board. The panelists' message was clear: See it. Believe it. It will happen.

How? The first step is deciding what you want to bring into your life. Then, pore through magazines and cut out likenesses of those things. It's similar to praying but instead of asking, you see it as though it already is. Let's say, you want a college degree. You cut out a picture of someone wearing a cap and gown and holding a diploma. You then paste it to your visualization board, maybe covering the model's face with your own photo.

Members of Oprah's audience testified about what they had attracted since making their own visualization boards. A new career. A happy relationship. One woman finally met Mr. Right. He has all the qualities of the man she had visualized. He's even handsome. It would be easy to dismiss this as so much hocus-pocus but real people who appeared to have their screws on tight were espousing the benefit of the board.

We have all done some variation of this theme at one time or another, haven't we? I started many diets by taping a picture of a model with a flat tummy to the refrigerator. How many have fantasized about owning a Porsche and tacked a poster to the bedroom wall? I spent hours in high school classes daydreaming about my future as Mrs. So-and-so. I drew hearts on every page of my notebook and connected his initials to mine with a plus sign. My doodles became reality when Mr. So-and-so and I became husband and wife. Did the same dream come true for those who carved theirs and their true love's initials into the trunk of a sturdy oak tree?

Oprah's guests, the three authors, shared what they had put on their visualization boards many years ago. One even brought hers along. In the middle was a picture of Oprah whom she had wanted to meet someday. And there she was -- two seats away from her on the stage. Evidence like that is hard to dismiss. There were words like Health, Wellness and Spirituality on her board, too. I don't remember seeing a stack of hundred dollar bills but certainly, the woman would say she had achieved Success.

Besides health, wealth and spirituality, I wondered, what has been missing in my life? What should I attract with my visualization board? Remembering my mother's words, "Be careful what you wish for," I found myself worrying. What if I tape a picture of a brand new car to my board and instead of a small SUV suitable for Minnesota winters, a ragtop with a stick shift appears in my driveway? I'd better make sure to visualize an automatic transmission. And a Florida condo so I can have the top down on the convertible all year round. This visualization stuff is going to be fun.