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I decided that I would keep a mental add-a-pearl necklace. I would think of the good moments in my life as pearls and then add them to the gold chain I would keep in my mind. I began thinking of the memorable events in my life that I was grateful for and visualized each as a pearl that I placed on the chain. It was soon a long rope of gleaming pearls. Through the years I've added so many pearls that the necklace has turned into a very long coil. I imagine that each pearl has a beautiful luster from all the times I have taken the strand out and touched them to remind myself how much I have to be grateful for.

I've used imagery on many occasions to heal and comfort myself. When heading out to an audition, I visualize all the creativity of the world, past and present, floating like a shimmering violet cloud right above my head. I reach my arm straight into the air to grab hold of it. While hanging on tight, I shift ever so slightly to the right to get out of my own way and let the creativity shine through me. It's always a great reminder that the only thing that stops my creativity from owing is me. I don't always get the job but it makes the audition so much more enjoyable.

One of my favorite imaginative moments, which I've chosen to call a spiritual experience, happened in my gray Honda Civic hatchback. It started one awful week when no matter where I went, people were paying me compliments about my work as an actor. I say awful because it used to be difficult for me to accept praise and, in fact, I found it quite painful. People complimented me in the grocery store, at the dry cleaner, at my temp job. I talked to a friend about it and she said, "Maybe you need to think of it as you've been given a gift. When someone offers you a compliment, thank them and then silently thank God for the gift." So that's what I did, but by the end of the week the complimenting still seemed out of control to me and I was really feeling raw and self-conscious.

After yet another person gave me a compliment while I was at the gas station, I snapped. I got in my Honda, and as I drove away I started yelling at God. "What is this about?" I shouted. "Why is everyone complimenting me? Do I have a gift and, if so, why do I have a gift? Why did Sarah Bernhardt and Mozart have a gift? I'm not saying I have that big a gift," I bellowed. "But why do some people have gifts and others don't?" Why? WHY? WHY!?! There was silence, as if I was in a vacuum, and then this thought came clearly into my head: "Don't question. Be grateful. Help others." It resonated so strongly for me that I burst into tears.

I traded that Honda in long ago but I will always be grateful for the words that came to me in it that day. They are the motto I live by. My imagination is still a great tool that I use as a balm to take the sting out of living. I've returned to God's office many times to lay out my fears and have him delegate them to the necessary department so I can get back to my job of being happy, joyous and free.

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