“Paris is always a good idea.”

– Quote from Audrey Hepburn

In an earlier blog, I wrote about how important it is to be really specific about the things we want in life. I reiterated how I had always wanted to see Paris with someone I loved, and wound up going with my sister Andrea, which meant I DID get what I asked for. Exactly.

About twenty years later, I found myself planning a trip to France–this time with John. When I met him several years earlier, he was new to the idea of visualization, the Law of Attraction, and manifesting. On the other hand, I had been brought up in a religion that was primarily metaphysical, and all the contemporary New Age gurus such as Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay, Rhonda Byrnes of The Secret fame, were essentially restating what ancient writers had written and what I had been taught since childhood.

At first, John looked at me with the same disbelief I received throughout my youth: “That’s weird. What are you, a witch or something?” But when I began to read passages to him from a newly published book at that time, “Ask and It is Given” by Esther and Jerry Hicks, he began to embrace the idea of taking control of his life by directing his thoughts.

“I’ll SEE it when I BELIEVE it,” was the first hurdle he approached. As he began to discern the difference between repeating  Coué-like phrases and making declarations, he was rewarded with some successes. He was incredulous as little things like parking spaces appeared within seconds of driving to a store entrance; or when a thought occurred to look in an unlikely place for an item he thought was lost, or when answers just ‘showed up’ when he needed it.

“Beginner’s luck,” I teased, but I was also pleased that he was growing away from the purely material way of looking at the world. An oft-quoted phrase by Mary Baker Eddy in our household when I was a child was, “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionately to their occupancy of your thoughts.” As I get older, I realize how true her euphemisms were, even if couched in 19th century prose.

Now, just because I knew about these ideas didn’t mean I practiced them all the time; if I did, I’d probably have everything my heart desires. It seems that after long use of something we often get lazy, and like a relationship gone stale, I began to take metaphysics for granted.

I found myself in that state of mind in Paris.

AudreyJohn and I had a wonderful week driving through the French countryside. We visited Versailles, Amboise, Blois, and the Loire Valley with all its beautiful castles and grounds. Little surprises seemed to be around every corner that delighted the eye and the palate. We met locals and shop owners and families who were so authentic and happy, it made us wish we could stay forever. But of course, that’s what vacations are for–to learn things about other cultures and try to incorporate them into life at home.

As we made our way towards Paris (John, for the first time), we saw a sign for Orleans. John had seen a photo of the quaint little town in a brochure and wanted to visit, but never said anything because he didn’t think we’d have time. But a sign said the Fêtes Johanniques, the festival for Joan of Arc, was taking place that day, and we veered off the A10 toward the celebration. “See John, you put it into your consciousness, and here we are!” I told him, mirroring what my parents had always told me.

That little town turned out to be a big city, and true to form, John found the last available parking space, the one that was closest to the parade route. We marveled at this recurring talent of his and joined in the revelry just as Joan was riding past our spot in the crowd. We followed her and the Mayor in all his pageantry to the beautiful cathedral where the Mayor gave us a private tour.

“This is just like the picture!” he whispered. My eyes found his and we were locked together in that private language that couples in harmony have. It works! he said without speaking. Are you surprised? I silently answered.

We were falling in love with small-town France and wanted to delay leaving it. Paris would be exciting and romantic, but a quick, relaxing dinner (anything less than two hours in France is quick) would nicely finish off our rural escapade. We reviewed all the things we had seen and done, shared a decadent dessert, and were finally ready to head back toward the City of Lights.

colzaThe sun was fading over the fields of colza (rape seed), lavender and tall, slim windmills, and we realized with a dismay that we would never make it to the car rental location before it closed. “No matter,” John said confidently. “We’ll stop somewhere for a map and return the car in the morning.”

Drawing upon my own memories, I envisioned the nightmare of driving in Paris: tight, medieval lanes, one-way streets, cars jammed into spots like sardines and the possibility of getting lost. I got out the little flashlight I had in my bag and searched for our itinerary. “Rick Steves says that some hotels have parking garages, but you have to reserve well in advance.” I realized with dismay that I wouldn’t know how to use the phones, even if we found one.

Eyeing my worried look, John turned his eyes back to the road and answered by quoting a principle he was becoming comfortable with. “What do you always tell me? Don’t bring that negative energy into this.”

I’ll admit, that got my dander up a bit. Who was HE to tell ME about staying positive? He had never heard about the ‘Law of Attraction’ until he met me. He had never been to Paris. I took a deep breath. It was getting late, we were tired, and it had started to rain.

We found a petrol stop with a convenience store where I struggled to make myself understood. In my experience, few people in France speak English outside of the big cities, or perhaps they are just reluctant to do so with Americans. If you at least try to speak their language, they will be very nice.

As I unfolded the map on the front hood to take advantage of the store’s interior light, John walked around the car trying to figure out why everyone had been beeping at us as they passed. “Tell me if the brake lights work.” They did. And so did all the directional signals. “Are you sure?” He pressed.

“Yes, I’m sure,” I said, a little more forcefully than necessary, then added, “They’re a little different from an American car, but they work.” We continued on our way, straining to read the signs through the pouring rain.

We missed our exit off the ring road and had to approach the city center from the North. We found ourselves on a wide boulevard, passing gated shops. Cars were beeping at us and we were clueless as to why. Finally, a driver leaned over at a stop light and shouted that we had our rear high beams on. We had been blinding everyone. John fumbled and found the knob to turn it off. “Merci,” he called to the driver in that sing-song way that the French speak. With the mystery solved, cars stopped honking, and thankfully the rain stopped as well.

Our moment of relief was short-lived. As I drew an imaginary line on the map between where we were and where we wanted to be, I realized we were heading straight toward the Seine and the center of Paris. I had hoped to avoid heavy traffic.

city art paris building

We’ll drive past that big church,” he said nonchalantly.

I eyed him with disbelief. “Notre Dame? You’ll just drive past Notre Dame, in the center of the city, with all the tourists walking around?”

“What’s the big deal?” I kept my mouth closed as we drove over the Rue de la Cite with its beautiful cathedral lit up like a jewel. The sight of it at night took my breath away.

“We’re almost there,” he said triumphantly. “There’s the Opera. We’ll be in our room opening that bottle of wine we bought in Chenonceau within the hour.” Was that just male bravado speaking? I wondered. But he said it with such conviction that I started to believe him. Was I creating the problems with my negative thoughts?

I looked at the clock. It said 8:35. We pre-paid for several nights at the hotel and were assured for late arrival, but as we drew closer to our destination, the streets narrowed and became incredibly confusing. We hadn’t passed a single open parking spot. “Don’t worry,” John said, “I’ll just drop you off at the hotel with the bags, park the car, and then I’ll come back.”

Suddenly, I was recalling the time Andrea and I got lost in Montparnasse after all the buses had stopped for the night. I shudder to think what would have happened if not for a young man who walked us to the street where our hotel was located.

“You don’t understand,” I said with real anxiety in my voice. “If you drop me off, I’ll never see you again! You don’t even speak the language!”

John didn’t answer. He has a calming effect on me when I get wound up and realizes that sometimes it’s best to say nothing. But after driving in circles and coming to the same corner three times in a row, even he was getting frustrated. Suddenly, without warning, he pulled into a residential driveway and shut the car off. I thought he was angry. “I don’t know what to do,” he admitted.

I realized I was caught up in a fear or anxiety ‘loop’–and I was pulling him there with me. A thought occurred to me, ‘Stop Everything and Listen!’ We sat there in silence and waited.

It could have been minutes or only a few seconds later when we were startled by a knock on the window. “Puis-je vous aider?” an older woman dressed all in black asked John.

He rolled down the window. “Oh oui, merci,” I said to the kind lady. Her husband stood nearby. “Notre destination est Hotel Mogador at…ummm… cinquante-et-un Rue de la Victoire.” I had been practicing for just such an encounter.

Ah! L’hotel Mogadar.” And then she rattled off in French a lot of droits and gauches, meaning lefts and rights.

John interrupted. “Do you speak English?” The husband, who had been standing nearby, shook his head and smiled. “Celeste, you’re giving them walking directions!” He proceeded to tell John how to find the hotel.

And then we were on our way. We turned into the correct street and saw the hotel name on the building ahead on the left. “There it is!” I exclaimed. It looked like the city of Oz in the distance.

A moment later, John asked, “Do you see what I see?” I turned my head slightly and watched as a car pulled out of a space right across from the door of the hotel. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. “I’ll run in and ask if it’s OK to park there and how much it will cost.”

John was removing our bags from the trunk. “We’re good,” I told him, “and no charge after eight PM.”

We checked into our lovely room, set the bags down, and he opened that bottle of wine. I realized I had learned a good lesson from our experience–one that was more important than simply getting lost and finding our way.

John had been adamant when he said he would be able to find a parking spot, and it showed up exactly where he expected at exactly the right time. He believed it, and then he saw it, not the other way around. If we had arrived a minute or two earlier or later, it might not have been there.

It would be easy to say that his advantage was that he didn’t have old memories clouding his optimism, but there was more to it than that. I had a personal lesson to learn. I was thinking that he was practicing the visualization I had taught him. So, I had not only doubted him, I had been haughty and egotistical about it.


The ability to manifest is available to everyone. It is a power that when utilized can make a lot of things in our life much easier. If we remember not to get caught up in our own fears and negativity, and if we ask for what we want in a clear, direct way, when the time is right, our ideas will manifest into our experience.

It’s been over a decade since we went to Paris, but I will always keep this story in my memory to remind me not to become jaded about the power of our thinking – both positive and negative.

Oh, the clock on the bedside table said 9:30 as we sipped our wine. One hour had passed, just as John had envisioned.

They would have burned me at the stake

“When I was growing up, I always wanted to be someone.
Now I realize I should have been more specific.” – Lily Tomlin

October 5, 2020

Last week I wrote about how re-reading my old journals brought to light a practice that has probably helped me through my darkest hours. During the 1980s when I was a single mom and worried about so many, many things, I would write down the mixed up, fearful things on my mind. The act of getting my thoughts down on paper was liberating and somehow helped me to navigate the dark waters of my life.

Throughout those pages, I also created bulleted lists of things that I wanted or needed. They weren’t things like trips to Europe or diamond tiaras, but answers to what I should do about an issue, or a request for overtime at my job, or perhaps to find a lost item. I was alone for the first time in my life, and my problems were not the type that one could chat about with coworkers, so my journal became my best friend.

Those were the days I would get up and catch a bus at six in the morning to go to a temporary job in Manhattan. Money was so tight that I could only afford a twenty-five cent banana for breakfast, and I walked thirty-five minutes each way in all kinds of weather to save the fare. Some days it would rain so hard that I called it a ‘two-umbrella day’ because I had to stop at Rockefeller Center to change from one to the other to stay dry. It’s odd the way we can look back on times of adversity and find that they are when our Creator annealed the steel that was to become our character.

As I said in My Own 800 Words, I was startled to see how many of the things I asked for did materialize, and there were a few that happened with such proximity to the request that I learned never to doubt that there is a Listener who always hears our call for help.

One of the first incidences I can recall in detail happened back in 1989, and it has become a touchstone to me. I had been fixing up some little nagging details around the house and noticed that I was missing a wooden door stopper. It was not the kind that you could just go out to the hardware store to buy, but was common in the 1920s when my house was built. I recall saying out loud, “I wish I had a stopper to match.” Nothing earth-shattering. A simple statement, and I let it go.

That night it rained like Noah’s flood, and the next morning the streets were full of flowing rivers of water and huge puddles that I had to step carefully around to get to the bus stop without drowning. As I passed a streetlight, something caught my eye, and I bent down to pick it up. There, in the middle of the road, was a wooden door stopper. I kid you not! It was almost, but not quite, like the others in my house. As I held it in my hand, I had to hold back the tears lest they ruin my eye makeup.

It’s hard to explain the joy which that one little piece of wood brought to me that dark morning and continues to do so till this day. As I sat on the hour-long bus ride, I contemplated how many other times my requests – or prayers- had been answered and I just hadn’t realized it.

Now, of course, I can look back on decades of events that happened so frequently for me that people used to ask if I was a witch. There was the time that I needed a back door – again, a wooden one – and an odd, custom made size that couldn’t be purchased in the store. I called and searched everywhere, but most doors were metal, or without windows, or horribly expensive. I didn’t have the money for a carpenter. Then one day before going to the market, I felt the urge to measure my old door.

Not five minutes later, I drove past a house on the highway that had some construction work going on and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a door. I made a U-turn, parked in the driveway, and asked one of the men if the pile was all trash. It was, and so I pulled out my measuring tape and found it would be the perfect size if cut down two inches. The men helped me put it into the back of my hatchback, and off I went with a kind of thankful daze across my face. “What are the odds,” I asked myself.

Here’s the pièce de résistance: When I got home, my eldest son was with a friend who just ‘happened’ to be a carpenter, and who had his tools with him. Within the hour, I had a brand-new door installed and working properly! His payment was a nice dinner.

What I learned was that I need to be precise about what I ask the Universe for. I once said, “I want to go to Paris with someone I love,” and I wound up going with my sister. We had a fabulous time, and I’m really glad my first trip there was with her, but the lesson was clear: Be specific. Be so minutely exact about your asking that there is no room left for interpretation.

So, what do I want today?

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