A friend sent me an email with this message: "Heal the past, live the present, dream the future." This concept spoke to me.

Healing the past is challenging. Many of us have had difficult experiences such as an unhappy or abusive childhood, a bad business venture or a devastating love affair. I've had all three.

As a result, there is a "not-so-nice" part of my personality that occasionally rears its irrational head. I've said and done pointless, insensitive things because of unresolved anger. I have misperceived situations with friends or relatives as vicious or hostile. And I have felt betrayed by people I trusted.

And I am not as forgiving as I could be. Since my mom died a couple of months ago, I've taken a long, honest view at our volatile attachment. I choose to remember the generous, caring and compassionate part of our relationship. We resolved our differences before she died. That was a major healing experience.

Living in the present is complicated. Although I try to live one day at a time, thoughts of the past creep into my head, as do fantasies about the future.

To motivate myself to stay in the present, I've started making a "to do" list every morning. This keeps me focused on what needs to be done each day. Not surprisingly, my life is more orderly, forcing me to center on what is important. When most of the chores are done, I permit myself "playtime." This is part of my "healing" process.

Even with this new tool, I find staying in the day arduous because I have a vivid imagination. Ironically, most situations I fantasize about never occur! When I start planning what will happen during an upcoming event, like a book signing, or a meeting with a friend I've had an argument with, things never proceed the way I've visualized.

Even more strenuous is imagining an upcoming intimidating conversation. I'll go 'round and 'round in my head, thinking, "Well, if he says this, I'll say that." Of course, none of the conversation goes the way I've concocted because people are not that predictable. Obviously, it is impossible to write someone else's script!

Sometimes, though, visualizing the future has positive outcomes. I've accomplished most of the things I've imagined because I believe the mind is powerful - if you think it, you can make it happen. You do have to know your limits, though. One thing I dreamed of was being a Rockette. Due to terrible asthma and never reaching more than 5 feet tall, this dream never came true.

But good news abounds: My friend Claude and I are writing a book titled "The Cowgirl and the Rockette." When I told my older daughter about the book, she said, "Gee, Mom, your fantasy of being a Rockette will come true in your character!"

I love it when one of my daughters perceives that something is really important to me, and not only grasps but enjoys my childlike attitude toward life..

There are different ways to make your aspirations come true. The important thing is to believe in yourself and believe in your flights of fancy. Have faith. See each day as a gift and an opportunity. Live each day in the present, and make it beautiful.

On StarNet: Read recent columns by Alexis Powers at azstarnet.com/alexispowers

Email Alexis Powers at northwest@azstarnet.com