Creative Visualization

Forty-something years ago I happened to read a slim, newly published paperback book that has reverberated in my life ever since. Written by an American woman named Shakti Gawain, the book, Creative Visualization, became a best-seller, read by millions of people all over the world.

This week – in a fit of what, nostalgia? — I decided to reread Creative Visualization as an eBook. The subtitle for the 40thAnniversary Edition, published a few years ago, reads: “Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life.” So now I’ll add my small voice to the testimonies of those who have found this book effective in helping them to do just that.

In creative visualization, as the book defines it, you use your imagination to create a clear image, idea, or feeling of something you wish to manifest. Then you continue to focus on it – and give it lots of positive energy — until it becomes reality.

In my own experience as a caterer in Manhattan from 1986 to 1996, for example, I applied creative visualization to every one of my catering jobs. I’d imagine the end result in detail – every item on the menu, the choreography of the service, the guests’ pleasure and comfort – as if it were a full-length Technicolor movie playing in my mind.

This “movie” became my goal, and I focused on it intently, making mental – and literal – lists for what needed to be done to see that the party as I’d imagined it became a reality. This process took a lot of creative, positive energy, but I found it worked well for me. And I felt I had Shakti Gawain’s guidebook Creative Visualization to thank.

A more recent example is my newest book, Sweet Tarts for My Sweethearts: Stories and Recipes from a Culinary Career (Nighthawk Press 2020). This book was alive in my imagination well before it became tangible.

The cover of it, especially — for which my friend Kharin Gilbert took the photo of me, wearing a blouse my friend Kim Malcolm gave me, holding a platter I’d borrowed from my friend Beatriz Villegas, containing my just-baked blueberry tart (recipe in the book) – clearly existed in my mind before anyone else could see it or even imagine it. The book’s actual cover, designed by Kathleen Munroe ( is the manifestation:

Similarly, whenever I’ve had to give a presentation, whether a college lecture or a public reading, I’ve applied the same creative visualization techniques: imagining the final (successful) outcome as if it had already occurred, and then rehearsing sufficiently beforehand to make the presentation the best it might be.

This Sunday, as I wrote in my previous WOW post, “You Are Invited,” (, I’ll be doing a Zoom reading for the first time. Because this will be a first for me, it’s difficult for me to even imagine how it will go. In the meantime, I’ll try to creatively visualize all of your faces on the screen, rehearse the pieces I plan to read, and pray that I have an Internet connection. As they say here in Mexico, vamos a ver (we’ll see)! If you tune into it, you can see for yourself. See you there?