The Winter Coat

After the birth of our second daughter, money was tighter than ever.  It was September 19, 1978 and winter was coming.  I needed a new winter coat but I had only $35 to spend on it—tops.  And this was a time when coats started selling at $50-60 a piece.  While it felt early in the season, it was actually late.  Coats had been picked over and I’d been looking already for several weeks.

I remembered listening to some Norman Vincent Peale tapes where he stated that in order to draw to you what you need, you have to believe that you already own it.  That it’s already yours.  That it’s meant to be yours.  The secret was to speak and believe as if you already owned it, so the choice of verb tense was important.  Peale’s most famous work—now a true classic—is The Power of Positive Thinking, first published in 1952.  It can still be found on popular bookstore shelves today.

This positive-thinking philosophy would be repeated every decade by someone new.  In the 1970s, that person was Dr. Wayne Dyer, followed by Anthony Robbins in the 1980s.  By the twenty-first century, both would be talking about higher consciousness and our need to connect with our inner consciousness, that our power comes from within.

And then, a little tiny book authored by Rhonda Byrne would make headlines in 2006 unlike other books of self-fulfillment.  That book was The Secret and many of the philosophies that were being introduced to the public I was already practicing.  In fact, I had practiced it back on that day in 1978.

It was a typical shopping day for me where I was on a hunt for a specific item and coming up with nothing.  As I stood in the store, I visualized.  In my mind’s eye, I saw the coat that I desired—brown plaid fabric, a long coat that came down to my boots or knees, and with a hood.

At that very moment, my glaze fell upon the bin in front of me, which was full of mittens, gloves, and hats.  I wasn’t normally a hat wearer, but I noticed a rust-colored hat that I knew would match this desired coat perfectly.  I bought the hat.  I even began wearing it and carrying it, not caring that it didn’t go with the light-weight fall jacket or sweaters I was wearing while still on the hunt.

Two weeks later, I found the coat on sale for $32.  It was on a rack where it should not have been hanging.  It was almost as if it was there for me to find at that moment.  I happened to be wearing the hat.  When I put on the coat and looked in the mirror, the hat appeared as if it originally came with the coat.

Several days later, the winter’s first snow fell.  Every time thereafter, for the decade or more that I owned that coat, whenever I put it on, I was reminded that visualization works.  More importantly, I learned how my belief could not waver.  I had to see it, feel it, hear it, smell it, taste it.  All the senses had to be engaged.

This was not be the first time that I would draw to me that which I needed.  The future would hold far bigger needs, seemingly impossible goals, needs, or desires.  But what I did learn this day was not only did the secret work, but I learned how it worked.  Unbeknownst to me, the future was filled with opportunities for practice.

The Red Thread

By the time I was 24, I was married and expecting my first child.  We lived out in the country, so going to town to run errands was a planned event and with a list.  If something wasn’t purchased, most generally, the item would have to be put on the list again for the next trip.

On this particular trip to town, I needed to pick up a spool of red thread, but I had forgotten to bring a piece of the material I was using with me.  I needed an exact match.  I didn’t want to wait until my next trip to make the purchase because my ability to finish the project had already been delayed by several days already.  The thought of having to wait several more days if not a week displeased me.

At the time, I’d been reading a lot of books about intuition, how we are all born with an intuitive ability but that for most people, it remains underdeveloped because it wasn’t understood at the time.  While it was known that women were often seen as being more intuitive than men, the science wasn’t clear at the time as to why.  That science would come decades later, but at that time, a woman’s intuitive was something to joke about.

I was curious about my own intuition, but I wasn’t sure how to develop it.  While books spoke about it, there weren’t how-to books on the market back then as there are now.  At least, these books weren’t in the stacks of the public library that I used.

I been wondering if I could develop my intuition, let alone trust it.  And now, on this day, I had an opportunity, so I decided to test my intuitive power on red thread.  I was down to two possibilities.  Thread A was the one that I rationalized was the correct color.  I saw the fabric in my mind’s eye.  I sincerely thought it was THE thread to buy.  Thread B was the one that my intuition was telling me to buy, but I had no rationale behind that feeling.  None.  I couldn’t base the feeling on a single fact.  I thought it looked too dark, that it wasn’t even the right family of shades; it was a wine red, not the more cherry red Thread A was.

Because I didn’t want to take one spool home and discover it was the wrong choice, I decided the best way to test my intuitive powers was to purchase both.  Spending even so much as an extra dollar on a limited budget taxed my sensibilities, but I was desperate to have usable thread that evening so I could finish my sewing project.  As much as I hated returning items, I decided if I needed, I could return the spool that ended up being the wrong color.

So, I marked the threads lightly on the spool’s ends, marking the one I thought was the true color as A, and marking the one my intuition was telling to buy as B.

When I got home, I was astonished and surprised to find that thread B was a perfect match.  It was so perfect, in fact, that when the thread was laid on the material, the thread completely disappeared.  I had to look hard to see it.  Thread A, which I’d been so sure was the perfect match, was hideously incorrect.

The test was a small one, but my intuition had been correct and convincingly so.  The question in my mind now was, how trustworthy would this intuition be on larger purchases or events that had outcomes that were more important, if not downright critical.  Would I be able to trust my intuition no matter what?