*

Archive for the 'Art & Creativity' Category

How to finish a book, film-script or any other stalled project: knock the bugger off

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

 

“Giving up on telling this story was never an option for me.” ~ Heather Morris

I first met Heather Morris when she came to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand from her home in Melbourne to visit her brother, and my friend, who had been given a terminal diagnosis of cancer. As you can appreciate this was a very distressing time. Yet, as we discovered we all had a passion for telling stories, and as we shared our writing inspiration we all felt encouraged, emboldened and filled with light.

And with this came renewed hope. Not just for her brother, who was inspired to crack on with his own writing projects,  but I was also reminded of the finality of life.  For a small moment in time, we all escaped our worldly concerns and became excited by Heather’s “overnight” (not!) success with the publication and resulting worldwide interest in her novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

The novel is based on the true story of Slovakian Jew Lale Sokolov, who was forced to tattoo the numbers on his fellow victims’ arms that would mark them for survival, and who used the infinitesimal freedom of movement his position gave him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive.

As Heather said to me, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a remarkable love story.

“BTW my book is the true story of the Tattooist in Auschwitz concentration camp and the girl he fell in love with when he held her hand and tattooed a number on her left arm, and how they survived for two and a half years in that danteesque circle of hell, got separated, found each other, married and lived very happily for over 50 years.”

I invited Heather to share her story and she generously emailed me the below:

I met Lale Sokolov in December 2003.   I was 50 years old and had been dabbling in learning and writing screenplays, he was 87-years-old and his wife, Gita, had died two months earlier. 

A friend of a friend of their son, Gary, asked me to meet Lale to hear the secret he’d kept for over fifty years and which he wanted to tell someone before he ‘hurried up and joined his beloved Gita’. 

Over the next three years our friendship grew as slowly his story was revealed to me piecemeal, often told at bullet pace with limited coherency and with no flow or connection to the many, many stories he told.  

It didn’t matter.  I fell under his spell. 

Was it the delightful Eastern European accent?  Was it the charm this old rascal had lived his life dispensing? Or, was it the twisted convoluted story I was starting to make sense of, the significance and importance of which was beginning to dawn on me. 

It was all of these things and more.  I was spending time with ‘living history’ and was being given a story to tell for which I am honoured and privileged to have been entrusted with.

Fast forward to 2017—14 years after my fateful meeting with Lale Sokolov.   It took me two years to get the story I would eventually write into a screenplay.   He got to read it and loved it. 

I sat with him and held his hand and said goodbye to him the night he died.  At that time I vowed to never stop trying to tell his story.

A film production company optioned the script from me for three years, then another two years but failed to ‘get it up’.  

I took the option back and after a rewrite started entering it in screenplay competitions around the world.  It did well, often a finalist and won the International Independent Film Awards in 2016

I was receiving comments from film executives that the story ‘not only should be told, but must be told’; that it was ‘oscar bait’.   But still no-one came forward to talk production.

Then a light-bulb moment when I decided to write it as a novel, something I had no experience with and had never written or studied as a writing medium. 

On the advice of one of my sons to help with ‘free promotion’, I did a Kickstarter campaign to  raise funds to self-publish. From this campaign a local publishing company in Melbourne approached me and signed me up. 

I attempted to write while working full-time in a large Melbourne hospital and being the accommodating grandmother to my son and his wife, my daughter and her husband and their three little ones.  

I was getting no-where. 

I’m lucky to have family living in San Diego, California who have a holiday house on the top of Big Bear Mountain.  In the middle of their winter, in six feet of snow I squirreled myself away for four weeks and as Sir Edmund Hilary said ‘knocked the bugger off’. 

The parent company of my publisher came to Melbourne in February and heard about my story.  The have now taken over the publishing, sold foreign language rights to 13 countries and done a deal with Harper Collins in the U.S. to publish there.  And the screenplay? Stay tuned—some heavy hitters in Hollywood are vying for it. 

I am now 64-years-old and about to embark on a journey beyond my wildest dreams as I travel promoting the book and hopefully in 2-3 years time a film.  

Giving up on telling this story was never an option for me.  Yes, months went by when I did nothing to further it as life got in the way.  I tell myself it is The Tattooist’s time, I had to hang in there, seek out avenues to have the story heard and eventually one paid off.  

I don’t kid myself that I’m a great writer. I am privileged to have been given a great story to tell and I hope Lale and Gita would be proud of the job I’ve done telling their story.  I have received the ultimate validation of my attempt from their son who doesn’t want a word changed.  

A lot of very talented people / editors both in Melbourne and London will produce a book which I am honoured to have my name on.  My family keep telling me they wouldn’t be doing that if I hadn’t written it in the first place.  

I have two quotes on the wall near my desk, the one mentioned above by Sir Edmund and one from one of my favourite screenwriters William Goldman who references the children’s book ‘The little engine that could’.  

“Just get the @#%&% engine over the mountain.”

Harper Collins have come on board as the publisher in the U.S. and Canada, and major film companies are bidding for the movie rights. Stay tuned!

Heather’s story is a powerful reminder not to give up on your dreams. Tenacity, perseverance, patience and the ability to adapt are big factors in her success—and many other attributes as well, including talent! She began with a film-script and then taught herself how to turn a script into a novel. She also taught herself to fund her dreams via the Internet—and opportunity then came knocking.
It’s a reminder to us all that many times you grow into your dreams, and a commitment to continual learning is essential. As is hanging onto a success mindset. As Heather said, “Giving up on telling this story was never an option for me.”
Heather also proves what Napoleon Hill so famously wrote in his classic book Think and Grow Rich, most people don’t achieve their success until their sixties and beyond.
Later, more good news came too—her brother’s cancer has taken a u-turn. The medication he is on has slowed, and in one case slightly shrunk one of the tumors in his lung, and his oncologist is extremely happy with the slow progress of the disease. Who knows what further miracles the future will bring. But we all agree—there is power in story and in creativity!
So what are you waiting for? It’s never too late to make it big!

Did you enjoy this post?

Subscribe to this blog, and sign up for Cassandra’s newsletter for inspirational tips and strategies to live your best life. Click here to claim a FREE copy of Find Your Passion and Purpose>> http://eepurl.com/bEArfT

Ditch the 9-to-5

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

 

“She works hard for the money
so hard for it honey
she works hard for the money
So you better treat her right”
~ Donna Summer

Hannah quit her 9-to-5 the other day. She was working hard for her money—but they weren’t treating her right. Piling on extra work, but no extra pay. Piling on extra responsibilities, but no extra pay. Piling on their stress, but no extra pay.

But Hannah’s dissatisfaction wasn’t about pay—it was the lack of integrity and respect they showed her, including reneging on training they offered so that she could advance her career. But more than that, slaving away in a thankless 9-to-5 soaked up all the time she would rather be spending building her passion and purpose driven business.

Check out Donna Summer Live at Nobel Peace Prize Concert – yes, business-owners, treating people right does lead to a more peaceful and prosperous world!

But if you can’t find the love at work, ditch your 9-5 and treat yourself right.

Learn how in Missy Strayner’s Ditch The 9 To 5 Series

First up (today!) is yours truly sharing practical and inspirational strategies to help you work with passion and purpose.

Enrol for this amazing FREE series and check out my interview here

Missy has curated an amazing series to include TOP OF THEIR INDUSTRY EXPERTS!  21 extremely successful entrepreneurs, speakers, authors, writers, coaches, trainers and thought leaders influencers, marketing, social media and PR gurus will inspire you to see what is possible and how to overcome what is holding you back.

I’m honored and excited to be a guest speaker as part of The “Ditch The 9 To 5 Summit” and I can’t wait for you to join me!

This is a FREE 21-day online video series event and begins on May 3, 2017.  Yes, FREE! And kicks off with me.

Together with the other speakers we’ll provide practical steps to help you leave an uninspired job and pursue your passion and purpose—and make great money doing it!

Taking a risk to go after what you love is sometimes scary. But when you are ready to feel passion and purpose it’s great to know what’s possible and be encouraged by others that you also can do this.

Missy has found 21 inspiring entrepreneurs, experts, authors, speakers, trainers, coaches and thought leaders around the world to share their tips on what has worked, best practices, and practical tools to guide you and help you plan for transformational change in your life.

Get fired up to live with passion purpose and learn how to make money doing what you love.

Register now! Click here to reserve your seat to see me and the other amazing speakers on this series! I look forward to seeing you there!

Get a head start on ditching your 9-to-5 with the Career Rescue box-set. Mid-Life Career Rescue-Three Book Bundle-Box Set (Books 1-3): The Call For Change, What Makes You Happy, Employ Yourself

To read a free excerpt or purchase your copy navigate to here: getBook.at/CareerRescueBox

Guess who’s celebrating?

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

We celebrated International Women’s Day in New Zealand yesterday, ahead of my friends and readers in the States and UK. Aptly we were got to cheerlead amazing women around the world first—I’m proud to say that new Zealand was also the first country to give women the vote back in 1893. The United States finally began allowing women to vote in 1920, after the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. While the King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia dragged his sandals—granting women the right to vote in 2011 (their right to freedom and liberty is still contestable—as it is for other women around the world.

I spent the day reflecting on how lucky I was to have been born in New Zealand and in a Western culture which, for the most part, values women and supports equality. However, there’s no denying that there’s still work to be done. Woefully New Zealand has one of the highest incidences of domestic violence against women and their children. 30 per cent of women internationally are estimated to experience physical or sexual partner violence. That’s a third of the female population. That is reflected in New Zealand.

Which begs the question, “Why are (some) men so angry?”

But that’s another story. 

For now I’m writing to celebrate International Women’s Day—and to sound a call to us all (men and women) to uplift, embolden and encourage other women to succeed. Sometimes we need a mentor—someone trailblazing like Coco Chanel. Coco and the other strong, determined women whose wisdom I share in my The Art of Success books. Women like mega-talented, Iraqi-born British architect, Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, and pioneering mathematician and astrologer Hypatia of Alexandria. They and other women, past and present continue to inspire and mentor me. 

The hurdles they, and other successful women like Oprah Winfrey, had to overcome seems cataclysmic in comparison to my own—and hopefully to yours. The torture they were subjected to—emotionally, mentally, spiritually and very often physically—in pursuit of their desire to live and speak freely.  But despite the struggles, they continued on. When we hear their stories the thing that lingers for many is an admiring curiosity about the qualities they possessed, and an awe-like wondering if we might acquire these traits too. Patience, perseverance, passion and persistence are just a few. And all the women I admire were driven by love—not hatred.

As I share in the foreword to The Art of Success:

“Whenever I’m in a slump or needing an inspirational boost I turn to people who are smarter or more skilled than me for good advice. I’ve done the same with qualities I’ve wanted to develop, like patience. “What would Mother Theresa do now?” I asked many years ago. Mother Theresa wouldn’t shout! She wouldn’t lose her cool. She’d send loving kindness and smile. And that’s what I did  whenever I got frustrated.”

I applied the strategies I learnt from studying the success secrets of courageous women (and men) to my own life—personally and professionally. If you’ve been procrastinating, experiencing self-doubt, feeling fearful, or just getting in your own way, you’re in good company. Coco Chanel’s been there—as have every other person I admire. I’ve been there too. 

If you yearn for a better life, and are feeling discouraged, I promise there are solutions to the problems you’re currently facing—and you’ll find some of them in the wisdom of your mentors, including those of Coco embedded in the pages of The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book Two: Coco Chanel)

Dig into this book and let Coco Chanel be your mentor, inspiration and guide as she calls forth your passions, purpose and potential. Be inspired by Coco for the special reduced International Women’s day price of $3.99 —in less than two hours you could be on your way to radically reinventing your life.

Through the teachings of Coco, extensive research into the mysteries of motivation, success and fulfillment, and my own personal experience and professional success with clients as a holistic psychologist, The Art of Success will help you accelerate success. Together, Coco and I will guide you to where you need to go next, and give you practical steps to achieve success.

Coco Chanel believed from a very early age that the door to her freedom and self respect lay in securing and maintaining her independence. However, many people mistakenly sacrifice their relationships in pursuit of successful careers. Unhelpful beliefs, including, “You can’t have it all” or, “You can’t have a relationship and be successful,” may partly be to blame. It’s the messages you tell yourself that matter most, says celebrity hypnotherapist and author, Marisa Peers. “Belief without talent will get you further than talent with no belief. If you have the two you will be unstoppable.”

#InternationalWomensDay #passion #inspiration #stressless #happy #healthy #beautiful #books #success #photooftheday #freedom #love #IncredibleWomen #Takeyourchance

How to boost your self-belief by playing detective

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

It’s the messages you tell yourself that matter most, says celebrity hypnotherapist and author, Marisa Peers. “Belief without talent will get you further than talent with no belief. If you have the two you will be unstoppable.”

Coco Chanel believed from a very early age that the door to her freedom and self respect lay in securing and maintaining her independence.

She also believed in the power of being loved as a woman. She had no desire to be a man—only to be loved by them. “A woman who is not loved is no woman”, she once said.

Many people mistakenly sacrifice their relationships in pursuit of successful careers. Unhelpful beliefs, including, “You can’t have it all” or, “You can’t have a relationship and be successful,” may partly be to blame.

You may not be aware of your own self-limiting beliefs and patterns, or the negative, confining impact of others’ beliefs about what you should be doing with your life. Perhaps you’ve defined your life according to what others think you are capable of, or believe you should settle for.

Even when the answers are clear you may resist the changes needed to achieve more happiness and passion in your work or personal life. Fear often lies at the heart of this reluctance or resistance.

Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, believes that the cause of people’s fear is a basic and crippling lack of faith about themselves and their capacity to make positive and successful changes.

To get at some of the core beliefs standing between you and the success you desire ask yourself, “I’ll do anything to achieve (insert goal/dream) just don’t ask me to do that (insert the fear or belief that holds you back.)

Acknowledge the things you don’t believe and challenge them. Interview your beliefs, by asking them the following questions.

  • “Where’s your evidence for that?” (That being what ever you fear or hold to be true?)
  • “What’s the worst that could happen if you pursued your passion? How bad would that really be? How can you increase the likelihood of success?”
  • “What tells you that you could follow your dreams?” (a nice shift from focusing on the problem, to looking for solutions instead).
  • “What have you tried recently that worked? What you are you doing now that works?”
  • “Who do you know that is happy at work? What could you learn from them?”
  • “How does your (supportive other) know you can do this? What difference will it make to them when you are happier?”

You’ll find other helpful strategies to challenge self-limiting beliefs in my book, Boost Your Self-Esteem and Confidence: Six Easy Steps to Increase Self-Confidence, Self-esteem, Self-Value and Love Yourself More.

I’ve also included a helpful section in my book, Mid-Life Career Rescue: What Makes You Happy. In this book I share my experience following reading, The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles, by Dr. Bruce Lipton.

Your Challenge

So often we aren’t even aware of what our self-limiting beliefs are. If your beliefs are ingrained, or you keep sabotaging your own success, seeking help from a qualified practitioner with expertise in reprogramming stubborn, disempowering beliefs may be a game-changer.

Chances are you don’t need to see a therapist to move beyond self-limiting beliefs, but if you do, great. Go do it. There’s magic in that.

You can also learn from some of the most powerful, effective and simple techniques used by practitioners working in the realm of positive psychology and mind reprogramming—including hypnosis

I told my audience that if they changed their beliefs they could change their lives ~ Dr. Bruce Lipton, cell biologist

This is an edited extract from The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book Two: Coco Chanel) by Cassandra Gaisford. To order a copy for less than the price of coffee and cake click here to go to your online bookshop.

Powerful creativity: making space to create

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

 

As Courtney Kennedy writes in her new book, Creating Space to Thrive: Get Unstuck, Reboot Your Creativity and Change Your Life, “Creativity is the missing ingredient for many of us.” Sometimes a reminder of its importance comes to us when we are most in need. As it did for my step-father Ted, a military man diagnosed with cancer and given only three weeks to live. How did he choose to spend his precious time? Surrounded by the wife and family he loved. And immersing himself in the world of water colour—a passion and talent we never knew existed.

One of the most treasured memories I have of our last weeks together was the time we spent painting, and my sharing with him what little I knew of this alchemical technique. Water colour, like life, flows where it wishes, seeping into the crevices of the pages of the stories we create and adding colour to our lives.

What drives us to create, and why—when it is so good for us—do we leave it so late?

Kennedy suggests, we just haven’t cleared some space— this may be physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Ted, like so many people had been waiting for the days when he retired. While he found comfort, peace and a sense of purpose in his creativity— and a legacy in the many memories (and the few paintings) he left—as I watched him paint, a soft smile on his lips, light dancing in his eyes, I couldn’t help but wonder—”what if” …What if he had begun earlier? What if he’d had more time? What if creativity could’ve scare away cancer? In some ways it did. Three weeks became two precious extra years we all shared.

My daughter, a  naturally gifted writer and intuitive healer, shared with her friends:

“3 years ago today the world lost one of its earth angels. He reminded me a lot of how I envision the Archangel Michael.   Someone who was always there. Extremely patient, kind, wise and mysterious.

I was going through some of his medals that Grandma still has the other day. I know his job was always a bit of a mystery but I was taken aback to know that he was the Chief Information Officer for the New Zealand Defence force.

The importance of having a good male role model in a girls life is paramount. This man made so many things possible for not only me but for our family. He married into our family and treated us all like his own.  

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him…when I hear “Hit the Road Jack” on the radio. When I see a sail boat on the harbour or when I go about my day and realise the woman I am becoming today is so greatly shaped by his influence.

Most girls see a hero in her Grandfather more often then not, but this man was like a second father to me.  Cancer is a dreadful disease and Ted I’m so sorry that you were taken from us so early.  It still brings me to tears every time I think about the moments we could have continued to have with you that were robbed from us.

Thinking of you especially today.  I’ll never forget you Edward John Knowsley. 

Xxx Hannie”

Hannah’s  heartfelt sharing reminded me of several things—the power of creativity to leave a legacy and, importantly the power of speaking from one’s heart.  And also of the way natural gifts, so readily apparent in our childhood, if nurtured can blossom and bear many, many years of fruit. Clues to passion and also to your soul purpose can come in many forms—in rekindled memories of a hobby loved in childhood, as it did for Ted. But also other people’s unsolicited praise, as feedback Hannah received below, shows. I’m not so sure it was I who taught Hannah to write, as much as it was I who gave her some space and encouragement to write. But what really matters is not who encourages and shapes your creativity. What matters is that you loved the healing arts enough to spend time with them. And that you cherished them enough to devote yourself in some way to your gift.

As the Brazilian author of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho shared on Tim Ferris’s podcast in 2016, he creates a very strong shield around him when he creates.

“…so I can really use my time to do what I think I should do to fulfil this blessing it has been bestowed on me which allows me to live my personal legend, to become a writer against all odds Because Brazlilans don’t have a strong tradition and there are very few authors who can make a living out of writing, not in the US but over the world. However I was so committed to my work that it was my dream, it was my dream from the very beginning. I really enjoy what I do. I don’t work. In fact what I am doing is to have pleasure, and fun and social responsibility towards my readers towards myself, towards the world in what I live.

Courtney interviewed me in for her book and asked how I’d managed to be so prolific in the last few years. For me, as it is for Paulo my creative gifts are my purpose and I show them I’m serious by devoting myself to them.

But creativity doesn’t have to be about your soul’s purpose. It may just be a friend in times of need, a comfort when other elements are stripped away, a meditation and distraction when everything else seems out of control.

Why do we create? Because innate in all of us is the desire to create something of beauty, tranquility, joy. Creating pictures, for example, allows us to put into words what we feel but cannot say. What we value and which we savor. What we yearn for, but may no longer be able to possess. We don’t have to possess the genius of Leonardo da Vinci—we just have to be true to ourselves

For Ted, his illness called time on his cherished days on the sea—but in his art he sailed again, into the endless horizon, carried on a gentle wave of tranquility. We were all happy that when painting he found so much peace.

Cancer provided Ted with the space to paint. We wish it was his well-deserved retirement that had provided the impetuous. But then he loved his work so much he may well have never left.  His work, dedicated to protecting lives, was his passion and provided deep purpose.

As Courtney shares in her book, the opposite is true for so many others.

Many of us work jobs we don’t like. Less than half of U.S. workers said they felt satisfied with their jobs overall according to a 2016 report by the Conference Board. 2016 Gallup figures are worse; they found that only 32% of U.S. employees are engaged with work, and only 13% worldwide. Consider that we spend 10,500 days at work (assuming five days a week, fifty weeks a year between the ages of 23 and 65). Said differently, we work 36% of the total days that we’re alive on this planet should we live to be eighty.

We spend a huge chunk of our lifetime at work, yet one out of every two of us hate our jobs. No wonder many of us feel stuck on repeat—living each day without much thought.

That’s the situation I found myself in a few years ago. I was unhappy. We all have bad days; that’s a fact of life, but it was more than that–I was deeply uncomfortable with my situation and the path down which my life was heading. It wasn’t about regret, rather something important was missing.

And, despite feeling unsettled, there was much to be grateful for—good health, loving family, my husband, friends, and living in a peaceful time. I had built a good career, but I wasn’t happy with my job anymore. Something was missing.

I lived for the weekends. Sunday nights were the worst because it meant going to work the next day. I became a bucket of angst thinking about the coming work week and all my obligations.

Then, a close family member died unexpectedly and saw friends get cancer at young ages. And I realized the stuff I’d been told all my life: “Work hard, save all you can so you can afford the big house and retire comfortably,” was not guaranteed to come true for everyone.

I started wondering what would give my life more meaning.

My WWII-generation grandparents worked hard and scrimped most of their lives, only to sit in front of the television day after day in their elder years. After retirement, when they could have traveled, they no longer desired to or even had the energy for trips. That’s not how I wanted my life to be.

I was lucky to have supportive, career-minded friends. Many were passionate about their careers and loved their jobs. But many were like me—showing up at a job they didn’t enjoy. I was nearly vegetative on weekends after a long week spent at the 9-to-5 job and hours of unpaid overtime.

“There must be more than this to life,” I said to myself. What gives your life meaning?

Why not discover what makes you happy now? Why not reconnect with the activities that drive your passion and energy so you can move toward a life where you spend time in your happy place?

How many of us wait for “someday”‘ or for some  external encouragement? How many of us make the mistake we’ll have more time? Whether you dream of being a writer, a sculptor, a photographer, a painter, a carver or a gardener, or yearn to create in any shape, colour—why wait?

Pick up your tool of choice and feel happier today. As Courtney shares in her book, Creating Space to Thrive: Get Unstuck, Reboot Your Creativity and Change Your Life, “research suggests creative people are happier than everyone else. Disregard the mental image of the starving, depressed artist toiling away in a studio. Anyone can be creative.” And being creative, she adds, will  change your brain, enabling you to  become more resilient to stress when being creative and making art.

Ted found his happy place creating.  When he died, I asked for nothing, only the unfinished painting he was working on before he passed.

For my mother, and his daughter Lisa, I framed some of his paintings. We placed them around the room where his funeral service was held. All his army comrades were astounded to learn this great mind, also yielded such artistic sensitivity and talent.

I have Ted’s paints, and his brushes, and the beginnings of a new picture—like a still life, caught in a moment of pulsing time. We shall leave Ted’s painting for him to finish, but it is as though this is the view he foresaw—never knowing that one day my partner and I  would call the Bay if Islands home.

Always in our hearts (and now also on our walls 🙂

Always in our hearts (and now also on our walls 🙂 Rest in peace darling Ted—until we all see your again

Edward John Knowsley, 11 ApriI 1947 –  22 Feb 2014

Sometimes we need a mentor to encourage us to follow a more creative path. Coco Chanel and Leonardo da Vinci share how creativity can improve your happiness, health and success in The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life 

To read a free excerpt or purchase your copy and learn more from Leonardo Navigate to here: getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

To read a free excerpt or purchase your copy and learn more from Coco Navigate to here: getBook.at/CocoChanel

How to Find Authentic Happiness: Love Is Where The Magic Is

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Love is where the magic is. When you love what you do with such a passion you’d do it for free, this is your path with heart. You’ve heard the saying, ‘when you do what you love, you’ll never work again.’ It’s true. Work doesn’t feel like a slog, it feels energizing.

From Teacher to Romance Writer

As Annie Featherston, writing as Sophia James, shares below, when you combine your favorite skills with doing something you completely and utterly love, you come home to your true Self and find your place of bliss. The result? Contentment—and more often than not, producing something highly marketable.

I’d taught for fifteen years and loved it. And then I didn’t.

It wasn’t the students or the workload. It wasn’t the noise or the constant worry of, ‘was I doing enough’ that pushed me out either.

I was a good teacher but underneath was a passion that I couldn’t ignore any longer. I wanted to be writer, a historical romance writer, and I was beginning to get offered some wonderful opportunities that did not meld with the structured teaching year and the constant pressure of it.

I felt like a juggler with a hundred balls in the air. I was teaching half time, taking tours to Europe with my husband to help him, running mentorship programs…. and writing.

Writing was my complete and utter love and yet it was always taking a secondary place. I wrote at night. I wrote in the weekends. I wrote when the kids were asleep. When I wrote I didn’t think of the time or the problems, all I saw was the joy and passion of it. I loved forming characters and thinking of stories. I lay in bed at night asking my protagonists questions and spent many hours trawling over history books to place them into a context.

I have a degree in history so it was as if all the things I had enjoyed were coming together at last. History and writing. I knew that at 54 I couldn’t be patient any longer.

I needed to be in a field that I felt fully aware in, that I loved beyond the weekly pay check and that filled my spirit with lightness.

I’d just won a New Zealand based competition for a completed romance and it was validation, I suppose. If I didn’t make the jump and do it now perhaps I never would. And if I never gave myself a chance I would feel bereft.

I penned my resignation letter and left to Australia to be a mentor on a five-day intensive scheme the Romance Writers of Australia were running. It was scary and hard but when I finished it successfully I remember standing alone in front of the mirror, a cold sore from exhaustion and worry on my lip, but my clenched fist punching the air in triumph.

To feel like that is to know you live

When I got picked up by Harlequin Historical and published it felt like all the dreams I had hoped for so long were finally happening. I had visualized this. I had walked the lonely windy beaches of Gisborne and shouted my hopes for it into the wind. I had sat in the mall with three crying children in the car and written scenarios on the back of the supermarket docket because the story just wouldn’t wait until I got home.

If I had not been paid one cent for my writing I would still have done it somehow. But the strange thing is that money does follow passion, and suddenly I was making as much as I ever did in part time teaching.

Writing is hard work. A book does not come fully formed from thin air or dreams for me. But I’ve persevered and sat and written. I’ve made deadlines. I’ve written blogs. I have delved into social media and stood there with a smile on my face when the reviews have not been what I wanted.

But I have always believed in myself and my stories. I’ve kept going. I have never given up.

And I have loved my writing life, my freedom, the creativity, the possibilities.

If I had my time over I would have left my teaching career earlier. I would have been braver and less worried by all the sensible advice others were giving me. I should have listened to my heart and taken the jump into a lifestyle that is my perfect fit and even if I had never succeeded I would have known that at least I tried.

I love Annie’s story of reinvention. So-called sensible advice is no replacement for the wisdom of your heart, your soul, your intuitive knowing about what choices are right for you. Visit her author website here http://www.harlequin.com/author.html?authorid=1690

This was an excerpt from Mid-Life Career Rescue: What Makes You Happy.

Available for immediate download less than the price of a cup of coffee—getBook.at/MakeYouHappy

How to Tap Into Your Subconscious Mind and Gain Solutions to Your Problems

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Woo-Woo?

soul1A group of us recently came together for an intuitive, creative art process called SoulCollage®. The idea is to create cards that bring us into conversation with our native intelligence, and then consult with the cards to illuminate our questions, dreams and challenges. Although it sounds a bit like working with tarot cards, SoulCollage differs in that the cards are created from our subconscious minds about our own lives.

Isabel rolled her eyes at first and said it was too “woo-woo” for her, but she was immediately immersed in creating beautiful cards from a vibrant collection of photographs our SoulCollage® leader, Jennie Oppenheimer, had gathered from art magazines and a massive collection of ephemera. Isabel’s first task was to find pictures of dogs (no surprise there!). Each person created two to three cards and then was asked to speak through the cards in the following ways: “I am the one who…” “What I have to say to you is…”  “My name is….”

Each card had its own personality: some were funny, some were painful, all were beautiful and revealed little hidden pieces of the creator’s life story. We were surrounded by interesting and wonderful women and spent the day laughing, sharing and eating delicious food in a magical house set deep in the green forest.

Jennie Oppenheimer is an artist and leader of SoulCollage® creativity workshops. It is her passionate belief that creativity and play not only illuminate our strengths and originality but help us to discover our own unique purpose and potential. For SoulCollage® workshop or coaching info contact jennie@soulio.org.

soul2

Do it scared – how to charge forward with new confidence and follow your passion to prosperity!

Monday, February 6th, 2017
Do it scared—most of the successful people I know started and continued to create despite their doubts, fears and anxieties. If this is a challenge for you Scott Allan’s new book (aptly titled, “Do It Scared“) comes to your rescue. One of the many memorable things you’ll learn is the importance of mastering your mind. You may have heard this before and know it to be true, but it’s easy to forget and often hard to put into practice.
Stay vigilant, the author warns, stay strong—don’t let self-doubt rob you of your mind mastery. “What do we fear most?” Allen asks, “Confronting problems.”
But herein lies one of the many cures contained with this brilliant book. “Do It Scared” shares proven strategies and powerful formulas to help you transform problems into solutions. The advice is challenging and compassionate – Allen knows how you feel…he’s been there. He’s hit rock bottom and he’s hauled himself out. Now through the honest of his truths and the generosity of his spirit he’s sharing the lessons he’s learned to help you forge a confident identity, master your life, do the things that scare you most and achieve greater personal power.
I really liked the tone and presentation throughout this book. The summaries, or “key takeaways” reinforce key messages and learning at end of each chapter helps consolidate these truths. I particularly enjoyed the strong and evocative words the author uses. Words like “manipulate forge, confront and charge forward.” Softly, softly, fluffy fluffy doesn’t work. You need to don your armour, sharpen your sabre and attack your doubt demons.
One of the sections that really resonated with me was the one on habits and the five steps for breaking bad ones. Allan’s advice to recognize disempowering routines and replace them with winning ones is pure gold! For me one of the triggers that creates a failure habit is being assaulted by energy attacks (negative people, outbursts from others, their drama etc.). As a result of reading “Do It Scared rather then run, withdraw or retreat I’m going to be a rock (not literally!) – people can storm all around me and I’m not going to take it personally. I’m not going to try and fix them either. They can vibrate how they want. What counts is my new habit of maintaining my positive, winning vibration.
Thank you Scott! Thank you also for your section on the lifesavers practices – Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, and Reading to improve my thoughts for the day etc. As a result of reading this book I am tooled up with weaponry to defeat the doubt demons and charge forward with new confidence to follow your passion to prosperity!
5.0 out of 5 stars! An excellent book that inspires you to succeed beyond your fears.
A DEFINITE READ FOR CREATING THE ULTIMATE MINDSET! Available from Amazon here http://amzn.to/2kbwNkp
Five things I’ve “done scared,” to follow my passion to prosperity.
1.) I completed this painting of my grandmother, Molly and entered in a portraiture competition.  It was the first portrait I’d ever painted and the first time I’d experimented with painting with oils. My painting was selected as a finalist in The Adam Portrait Award and Exhibition, Wellington Feb 2008. I was so excited!
2.) I entered another competition with a mixed media triptych  (again a first) and won! “Love Stain” was the Supreme Winner Wai Art Awards May 2008.  When I got the call telling me that I had won  I didn’t believe it.  never expected to one. My only goal was to do it scared and put my art out there DESPITE the fear of judgement. “That can’t be right. You must have made a mistake, ” I recall saying. “That other on—the realistic one of Leda and the Swan was far better than mine.” They assured me the painting had won. “Why?” I asked – still disbelieving. “Because it was different,” they replied.
3.)  I commissioned and had built an architecturally designed home, and subdivided my existing property—despite being a single parent with no savings!
4.)  I moved away from my home town of 50 years,  and brought a 10 acre lifestyle property with my partner going unconditional without selling our properties first.That was scary – but exhilarating now that the terror has passed!
5.) I completed my psychology degree, after a then-year study break, at the age of 47—completing four 300 level papers in less then 10 weeks.
6.)  I opened myself up to love again after having my heart broken.  That was scarier than anything ever done. And also the most fulfilling.
7.)  I rescued my daughter from a violent attacker – and did so in a loving, empowered way—even though ever bone in my body was terrified. But I refused to fight terror with terror.
 Looking back on my life there are so many things I’ve done scared—and I wouldn’t have done it any other way!

The astrology of success

Friday, January 27th, 2017

FAITH IN YOUR STARS

“Arrogance is in everything I do. It is in my gestures, the harshness of my voice, in the glow of my gaze, in my sinewy, tormented face.”~ Coco Chanel (Leo)

Much of Coco Chanel’s success can be attributed to her faith in the stars. Chanel believed in astrology. She was a Leo, symbolized by the lion, queen of the beasts, Leo is the sign of royalty. Proud and arrogant, yet loyal and brave, this sign if ablaze with warmth and fire.

Creative entrepreneurship is the true stamp of a Leo—and Chanel manifested this in buckets. Driven by passion, purpose, determination, a desire to lead not follow, the courage and fearlessness of a lion, and a serious need to be noticed. Making an impression is Priority One for many Leo’s—think Mick Jagger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Julia Child and other flamboyant people who share Coco Chanel’s sun.

Chanel’s moon was in Pisces, making her intuitive to the point of being psychic, writes Karen Karbo in The Gospel According to Coco Chanel. This may explain her uncanny knack for predicting where best to place her energy to amass a great following and fortune.

Leo is also the fifth sign of the zodiac—a number Coco used to astounding success when she named her perfume, Chanel No. 5. She also leveraged off her faith in her stars and other spiritual tools to empower her mind, and sustain her during periods of darkness.

Most clients come with financial problems or relationship problems,” my friend and astrologer Marianne O’Hagan says. “They come looking for the hope of happiness in the future.”

Marianne knows personally and professionally. You can read more of her story in Mid-Life Career Rescue: What Makes You Happy—including how she started her own business by using her faith in the stars.

I’m a Libra in Western astrology and a Snake in Chinese astrology. It’s true when they say that Libran’s love harmony, balance and beauty. I love it when I receive feedback from readers, saying my book is “beautifully written.” Or, as a person who read my first Art of Success book, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, posted in their review, “This beautiful book wraps art around business and life and makes each hum with energy and creativity and brings the reader new vitality.

Google ‘best careers’ for Snakes and I’m told to avoid careers where I have to work too hard. ‘Working hard’ to me is doing something I dislike, working with people I don’t respect. Working hard is not marching to my own beat. But when I’m working in the passion zone, fulfilling my purpose, now that’s a different story.

Whether you’re a believer in the notion that whatever planets align at your time and place of birth can determine your intrinsic strengths, shape your character, relationships and fortunes, there’s plenty of helpful data to aid you in your quest for success. Keep an open mind and don’t take everything as total gospel.

Your Challenge

Go cosmic—gain additional insight about your astrological sign from any of the plethora of books, online resources and personal astrologers. Focus on identifying your strengths, Achilles heel, and best-fit-factors career-wise and in your personal life.

“I liked the idea that astrology believes we all are special and have unique gifts. It was at that moment that my love of astrology was born. “~ Marianne O’Hagan, astrologer

This is an edited extract from The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book Two: Coco Chanel) by Cassandra Gaisford. To order a copy for less than the price of coffee and cake click here to go to your online bookshop.

 

How to dream big and make it happen today

Monday, December 5th, 2016

images-2“I invented my life by taking for granted that everything I did not like would have an opposite, which I would like,” ~ Coco Chanel, businesswoman

In the movie, ‘The Pursuit Of Happiness,’ Will Smith, who plays the role of a homeless man, says to his son, “You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something? Go get it. Period.”

As a child Coco dreamed big. The flames of her desires were in part fueled by reading romance novels full of dashing heroes and heroines living absurdly, audaciously opulent and liberated lives. 

I’m sure plenty of people tried to sabotage Coco’s dreams of success—but she dreamed big dreams anyway. She once said that she would pretend she didn’t hear people who criticized her, and could not see people with whom she disagreed. Her boundless imagination, strength of purpose and courageous spirit are an inspiration to young and old.

People, impatient to see the realization of your dreams may say, “Show me the money” or “You’ve left it too late,” or some other downer message. 

Ignore them.

“It’s already been done,” people said to Tim Ferris when he first mentioned his idea of starting a podcast. Instead of letting others talk him out of starting his show he did it anyway. His podcast is now ranked #1 business podcast on all of iTunes, and it’s been ranked #1 (of all podcasts) on many occasions. It is the first business/interview podcast to pass 100,000,000 downloads. It was also selected as iTunes’ “Best of 2014” and “Best of 2015.” He’s been called the Oprah of radio.

Your Challenge

Dream big. Everything starts as someone’s daydream

Fuel your verve—pursue the vision that sparkles

Become audaciously obsessed

Dream big but plan small. Baby steps will lead to bigger success

Anchor your dreams within your heart and feel as though they are already achieved

Create a soundtrack to feed your dreams. I still love Miley Cyrus’s The Climb, particularly the encouraging lyrics to persist and persevere, “Ain’t about how fast I get there, Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side—It’s the climb.”

“Remember, you go where your vision is. Think Big, feel big, and know in your heart that you are one with God, and you will project a radiance, a glow, a confidence, a joy, and a healing vibration which bless all who come within your orbit now and forevermore”

~ Joseph Murphy, PhD, author and New Thought minister

 

WANT  MORE HELP TO MANIFEST YOUR DREAMS?

This has been an excerpt from The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book Two: Coco Chanel).  You can learn more from Coco, find your point of brilliance and read motivational musings from really big dreamers like Tim Ferris, Leonardo da Vinci, Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, Igor Stravinsky and other inspirational stories of success.  Available in print and eBook on Amazon. Navigate to here: getBook.at/CocoChanel

 

How to identify your favourite, transferable skills and talents

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

love-clipart-clip-art-love-clipart

Pay attention to what you love

“Love is not only something you feel. It’s something you do.”
~ David Wilkerson, founding pastor of Times Square Church, New York City
I often receive emails from people and responses to my Happy at Work survey asking me how can they identify their favourite transferrable skills and talents?

As I shared in Mid-Life Career Rescue: What Makes You Happy one of the fastest and simplest ways is to boost your awareness of the times you are doing something you love.

As author Barbara Sher writes, “If you don’t pay attention to what you love, you could overlook your greatest gifts! That love is the sure-fire indicator of hidden gifts, and it is the only way to find them. Skills don’t count. They’re just abilities that were useful enough to be developed. Gifts often haven’t had the chance to be developed and because of that we’re fooled into thinking they don’t exist.”

People often think that unless they have received formal training or gained experience on the job, or have a piece of paper like a degree, then they don’t have any skills.

This is not true! The world is full of people who have achieved great things without formal training. Sometimes the best course of study is to teach yourself.

How many times have you heard of people who gained a qualification and were then told they lacked practical experience, or that they had to go and unlearn everything an academic institution had taught them?

I’m not knocking formal training. And in some professions, it’s essential. But not all career paths require certification, or on the job experience.

Van Gogh was a self-taught artist. He used his passion and natural ability with colour and creativity to paint wonderful masterpieces that send hearts racing and are worth millions of dollars today.

From an early age my brother Hadyn was wheeling and dealing. He has not done an MBA or had any formal training in business. Instead he uses his natural entrepreneurial skills to create many successful business ventures. He tried going to University, but  quit because he felt academics were out of touch with reality.

A client of mine trained as a textile designer and, despite a lack of formal training in kitchen design, has successfully combined her passion for beautiful design, and her natural creative ability, into a successful career as an award-winning kitchen designer.

My mother has done the same thing, quitting a job she hated as a legal conveyancer in her 50’s, then—after buying into a franchise, she set up her own shop as an interior designer. All with no formal training. A passion for design, a natural talent for creating beauty, a gift for knowing what looks good, and how to market her services, and loving making her clients happy, have seen her become very successful.

Now in her 70’s, she’s shut her physical store and runs her business from the comfort and beauty of her home. I share more of her story and her practical strategies for building a beautiful business in Mid-Life Career Rescue:Employ Yourself

Your Challenge

What gives you joy? What do you love doing? What would you do for free? Answering these questions and noticing the times you feel excited, alive, or in love with doing or being something, are vital signs confirming you are on the path with heart.

Brainstorm or list all the possible ways people make a living from your favourite skills. Build your list by using generative thinking skills,and open questions like: what, where, why and how?  If you get stuck do some research and ask your way to success.

You’ll also find some practical and inspired strategies in Find Your Passion and Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want And Live the Life You Love  and The Art of Success: Leonardo Da Vinci

How to become the hero of your own life story

Monday, September 12th, 2016

img_6740I feel honoured to be interviewing MICHAEL HAUGE on the Cassandra Gaisford show tomorrow. Michael is a top Hollywood story expert, author and lecturer who consults with writers, filmmakers, marketers, attorneys and public speakers throughout the world. He is the best-selling author of Writing Screenplays That Sell and Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read.

Michael lives in Los Angeles with his wife and has worked in the film and television industries for more than 35 years. He loves movies! And he loves figuring out what makes them work. And he loves helping people tell their best stories too – people like actors Will Smith and Morgan Freeman, or Devon Franklin, Vice President of Production, Columbia Pictures (to name-drop just a few)

We’ve become great friends after I purchased Michael’s books and had the great fortune to attend his seminars when he was in Auckland recently speaking at The Romance Writers of New Zealand conference in August.

 

cassandragaisfo (4)

You can learn more about Michael here: www.StoryMastery.com

If you visit his site you’ll find lots of information on story, plus information on his one-on-one coaching session. I’ve had a session with him and got so much value! And if you sign up for his newsletter, you’ll get a list of key story questions for whichever discipline interests you.

I’ll share the link to the interview when it goes live. In the meantime you can learn more about many of the critical skills you need to master to become the hero of your own story in many of my books—below are just a few which will help.

Boost Your Self-Esteem and Confidence: Six Easy Steps to Increase Self-Confidence, Self-esteem, Self-Value and Love Yourself More getBook.at/BoostYourSelfEsteemAndConfidence
The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book One: Leonardo da Vinci) getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

 

3d_cover (5)

 

The Art of Success Gave My Mind Wings!
#storymastery #findyouressence #passion #lovestory

3 ways to find your elemental strength

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
“Why go about puffed up and pompous, dressed decorated with the fruits, not of their labors, but of those of others?
 
“Why go about puffed up and pompous, dressed decorated with the fruits, not of their labors, but of those of others?” asked Leonardo da Vinci – a man who valued living in his authentic essence above all else. Your essence is your point of difference and is often manifested when you draw upon your elemental strengths to produce original work.
Leonardo’s father recognised his exceptional gift for drawing and helped him hone his talent by apprenticing him to Andrea del Verrocchio, a master painter, sculptor and engineer.
However Leonardo also self-taught his way to excellence, learning new skills and tackling subjects he passionately wanted to understand but had little knowledge of.
Have you found your point of brilliance? Maybe you’re exceptional in drawing, dancing, cooking, or some other field. If that talent is combined with your deepest interests, values, ambitions and joy that’s where you ought to focus.
Whether you know your elemental strengths already, or you’re at a loss, it’s equally important to try new things. If you don’t branch out from what you have already mastered you cannot grow.
You may discover a point of brilliance you never knew you possessed. In humans, as there is hidden within the earth, sometimes there’s a vein of gold that you never knew you owned.
 
Your Challenge
• One way to discover your strongest skills and natural talents is to ask people close to you, “What’s my superpower?”
• Another is to notice all the things you love to do while expressing your unique talents and list past activities and accomplishments that accurately reflect these abilities
• What are some possible ways that expressing your qualities, talents and skills may fulfil current or future needs. How can you serve?
 
If finding your elemental strengths is a challenge for you you’ll find plenty of creative and practical ways to discover them in my Mid-Life Career Rescue trilogy—getBook.at/CareerRescueBox.
You’ll also find more wisdom from Leonardo in Cassandra Gaisford’s recent #1 bestseller, The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book One: Leonardo da Vinci), available now in paper-back and eBook from Amazon here getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess
 

5 ways to be super inspired in your everyday life

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Yes, I’m about to engage in shameless name-dropping, but hey…I’m so excited about the passionate people who banded together last weekend  to inspire, support, encourage and cheerlead people’s quest  for success.

Last weekend’s I had the huge joy of attending the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference. Aptly named, “All You Need is Love”, the conference’s theme captured the key messages contained in my newest #1 best-seller, The Art of Success. It’s a book dedicated to love.

Here’s 5 of the many things I learned from attending the conference that may ignite the seeds of your own inspiration and fuel your success.

1. Surround Yourself with Positive People.  It’s incredibly inspiring and motivating to be surrounded by people who are either pursuing, or have achieved the things, you also aspire to. I loved hearing how successful some of my fellow writing friends have become since I last saw them. Especially my tribe from my former home city, Wellington.

Leanne Morgan, for example, writing as Leanna Morgan, currently also working as the head librarian at New Zealand’s Kapiti Library, has forged an incredible career writing romantic fiction and publishing these herself. Her income has flourished so much so that she’s resigned from her librarian role to concentrate on writing full time. Her story is a fabulous reminder to us all that your day job can feed your dream career and, if and when the time is right, allow you to transition safely to the next chapter in your life.

The same can be said for former Wellingtonian and now USA Today Bestselling Author, Bronwen Evans. Bronwen’s first manuscript, INVITATION TO RUIN, was completed late 2009, and was sold to Kensington Publishing early 2010, in a two book deal. Her debut novel, INVITATION TO RUIN, received a 4.5 star rating from RT Book Reviews and was nominated in the RT Reviewer’s Choice Awards – Best First Historical. Invitation to Ruin was also won the RomCon Readers Crown Best Historical 2012.She’s since gone on to win the RomCon Readers Crown three times. Her first book in her Disgraced Lords series hit the USA Today bestsellers list and she has hit it several times since. Her success is even more inspiring because she also worked in a ‘conventional career, ‘ while writing, but because she is also dyslexic.

2. Connect with the pro’s. One of many international experts who spoke at the conference was Hollywood-based story consultant, author and lecturer Michael Hague. His passion for storytelling and love of films was super inspiring—reawakening my own slumbering passions and instilling in me an even greater commitment to mastering the art of great story telling. One of the things I manifested prior to going to the conference was having Michael sign one of his books that I had purchased, “Writing Screenplays That Sell.” So I was elated when he suggested this pose for this piccie, and invited me to join him and another successful Kiwi romance writer, Tessa Radley, to see the Auckland sights. Michael has worked with some  of  the most successful people in Hollywood, including actor and producer Will Smith, and after hearing him speak and reading his book, I can  appreciate why.

3. Visualise and Affirm For Success.  Mindset is  everything.  Before going to the conference I visualised successfully pitching several of my works of fiction to literary agents and editors. Then when the  time came for my appointment I felt so nervous I almost didn’t turn up. But I put on my big girl pants (or rather my favourite dress), reminded myself that these powerful and influential people weren’t defined by their job title, but were also just normal people like me, affirmed my belief in my stories, practiced my pitch, visualised success and showed up—reminding  myself to also have fun. The result? I walked away with all two international editors from big publishing houses, and one New York based literary agent, interested in acquiring my work.

4.  Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.  Following on from the example I gave above, it’s important to discuss the fact that people always think that I’m a naturally confident person. The truth is I feel fear just like you do. I tremble at the thought of meeting new people, and quake at the idea of self-promotion. But I’ve learned that to achieve success I must control my fears, believe in my dreams and take action on my goals.

Currently the NY-based literary agent has three partial manuscripts of mine and is assessing my self-empowerment books, including offering to help me negotiate a recent request I’ve received from a Vietnamese publisher for the translation rights for my  Mid-Life Career Rescue series, and The Art of Success.

As they wrote  to me, “In Vietnam, more the 40% percent student choose the wrong career after graduation. So we think that your books are very useful for young people in Vietnam. It’s would be great if we could have your titles in our books line.” I’m thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to help more people make life-affirming choices.

If fear or low self-esteem is something you struggle with, make this your no.1 self-development focus. I have a new book coming out this month which I know will help. More about that in my next newsletter. If career dissatisfaction is  weighing you down you may like to  check out my other  books already available on Amazon. Simply navigate to my author page here >> Author.to/CassandraGaisford.

5. Invest in Your Dreams. Going to the conference wasn’t super expensive, but it did cost money. Hotels, conference fees, air travel, and  attendance at Michael Hague’s one day, ‘Story Mastery’ workshop. But I treat such expenses less as a cost but more as an investment. One I intend to maximise. So when Michael said he’d love to work with me on developing my story Mona Lisa’s Secret I didn’t hesitate to pay for a coaching session. Afterall, as a coach myself I know  the value of working with a pro, and paying the best, to  fast track success.

So yes, I did some name-less name dropping but I hope you’ll appreciate the theme. To be inspired you need to surround yourself with inspiring people and invest in your own success. You may not be able to get to a conference but that needn’t stop you. There’s plenty of online forum’s and virtual workshops you can attend. Michael Hague, for example has video copies of his international workshops which you can purchase and enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Other experts will too.

I’ve also written about and sharing inspirational stories of success in my series Mid-life Career Rescue. Like Annie Featherston’s metamorphic rise from disillusioned teacher to award-winning romance writer in Mid-Life Career Rescue What Makes You Happy.

Many of the above tips and more easy to implement strategies can be found in my latest #1 Amazon bestseller The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life, available now in print and eBook from Amazon here getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

I hope you’re feeling inspired after reading this post. I’d love to know what resonated with you.

Love and best wishes

Cassandra

P.S. If you’ve read my books and enjoyed them – have you left a review on Amazon? Reviews are gold to authors like me and help readers find our books. Please consider leaving your feedback on Amazon on Goodreads. Thank you!

how do you define success?

Monday, July 11th, 2016

“Imagine how our culture, how our lives, will change when we begin valuing go-givers as much as we value go-getters.” (1)Many people have asked me, how to I define success?

The important question is, ‘How do you define success?’

Below is a range of responses from my The Art of Success Questionnaire.

Do you notice any key themes? Are any success triggers for you?

  • Fulfillment from my own endeavors
  • You can be “in the moment” all the time
  • Living creatively, i.e. making a living off of my creativity, always learning and growing, new experiences and opportunities. Love of family and friends.
  • Validation, self worth
  • Free-will
  • Self contentment
  • Continuous learning
  • Pure happiness and contentment
  • Doing what you love and being good at it
  • Happiness, freedom, security
  • Contentment, respect, lasting, responsibility, ingenuity, purposeful
  • Happiness, joy, flow, money and fire
  • Freedom to live as I please
  • Everything in my life is balanced work, self, mind
  • Freedom
  • It means being happy in what I’m doing, fulfilling my life’s purpose, and being financially stable
  • Happy and fulfilled
  • Doing what you want, when you want with who you want
  • Living a heart centred life, doing what you love, being content
  • A feeling of fulfilment and contentment in all areas of my life
  • Realisation of a worthwhile goal
  • Being happy and living the life you’ve dreamed to live while helping others
  • Success means living a lifestyle that aligns with my values and being true to myself
  • Achieving even my smallest dreams
  • Success is finding your joy in life
  • Being true to myself, happy with where I’m at
  • Continuous growth and making a significant positive impact on people’s lives
  • Being happy to go to work and financially independent
  • Having done pretty much everything I wanted to do by the time I die

How do I define success? Success is finished books! Living a creative, soulful life with the freedom to live my life as I choose, doing something that inspires myself and others. And success is also living a life of no regrets.

“I thought I was learning to live: I was only learning to die,” Leonardo da Vinci once said. He valued wisdom, understanding and freedom of thought, through the pursuit of knowledge gained from his own experience.

Leonardo worked and lived with passion and purpose—following his own curiosities to serving and benefit humanity and to share his knowledge with others. And to live, and die, knowing he had lead a significant life.

“I want to create miracles,” he once wrote. And what a miraculous life of significance he led. Leonardo pursued his visionary principles unto his death, documenting all that he learned to benefit the lives of others. In the process he failed, and failed again. He faced the wrath, scorn and jealously of others. He faced poverty, grief and loss. And at times suffered extreme self-doubt and despair. But he never departed from his course.

Be inspired by Leonardo. Challenge conventional definitions of success and live a life on your own terms. Take the Art of Success Questionnaire here >>

I’ve found the insights people have shared super helpful as I wrote my book The Art of Success. It’s nearly ready to send out to my advance readers, before going to the editor and then to print.

How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and LifeThe Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed Personally and Professionally will be available in July 2016. To be the first to know and receive a free gift, click here >>

Work With Higher Purpose: how to find your life purpose

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 2.54.19 pm“Many entrepreneurs ask me, ‘Where is the market opportunity – where can I make lots of money?’ I tell them to think this way instead: “What are you so passionate about doing that you’d be happy doing it for ten years, even if you never made a dime? That’s the business you should start, and be in. Ironically, you will end up making money. So chase the vision and the higher purpose, not the money.”

Tony Hsieh Zappos, Former CEO Zappos.com

The truth is nothing great in the world has been achieved without purpose. Purpose gives people an edge, firing the flames of passion, enthusiasm, drive and initiative needed to succeed.

Working with purpose stokes the embers of flagging motivation, and procrastination and helps fuel latent dreams.

Pursuing your purpose can lead you to the work you were born to create.

Purposeful Entrepreneurs

Many people have turned things that made them angry, like injustice, hatred or dishonesty, into their life’s work and brought about meaningful and powerful change as a result. Others have transcended personal setbacks to help others create meaningful change.

Former fashion model Elle McPherson discovered her purpose and found her niche following a cancer scare and post suffering burn out. Her flagship product, THE SUPER ELIXIR™ Alkalising Greens showcases her deepest conviction that what you feed your body nurtures your mind, body and soul.

Others have turned their favourite skills and obsessions into wonderful products and services for others to enjoy. Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson has used his entrepreneurial skills and love of fun to create businesses that others get a buzz from too.

“Business can be a creative enterprise in itself. You’re trying to create something that is original, which stands out in the crowd that will last and hopefully serve some useful purpose. Above all you want to create something you can be proud of,” Branson says.

Make Yourself Proud

Barry Watson wanted to make himself proud. He turned his life around, saving his marriage in the process. Now he finds meaning and purpose helping others save their relationships too. While still holding down a salaried position he’s started a business on the side.

My business is called A Great Couple. I help couples have an amazing relationship together. I chose the name because it ideally described what I wanted to do: help couples have a great relationship. I chose to enter this space because my wife and I have had several major marriage hurdles to overcome, and I wanted to help others avoid, and get through them.

I love helping others! There’s nothing yet like knowing that the painful experiences you have gone through have helped someone in their moment of need. Life can be tough at times and knowing someone is there to help can mean the world.

To make sure I was offering the right service for the right market I talked to my audience. I don’t try to assume I think I know what they want. I spend time asking them, and then base my business offerings off what they specifically want to meet their needs.

Keeping his energy levels high

I work 40+ hours in another job, so balance is critical. I try to live a focused life that puts emphasis on the things that matter, and eliminate time wasting activities as much as possible. I also try to have set goals for each day so I don’t become stagnant and stuck in the same spot.

I’m a passionate person so I need to be careful I don’t do too much. I get up before 5am, pray, go to the gym (some mornings) and start writing before I have to leave for work around 7am. I look at the board I created with my 2016 goals on it, and connect with many like-minded people who inspire me to keep reaching higher. I also try not to take for granted what I’ve been given. In a moments notice it could be be gone, so seizing the precious moments that life blesses us with is crucial.

Finding customers

Networking is key, as is trying to give more to others than you get back. If you do this, people will tell others about you and it helps to grow your “following.” Some of my most successful marketing, especially for the books I have written, has included: building friends on Facebook, various book promotions sites; and networking with others to help promote my books.

Passion, great plans, committed team, perseverance and making lots of profit, contribute to being a successful self-employed person. Some of the best advice I’ve received is, if you can dream it, it’s because you are supposed to achieve it.

You can find Barry Watson and learn more about his business, including his wonderful books via his website here: www.agreatcouple.com

Getting Clear About Your Purpose

As Barry’s story illustrates, gaining greater clarity about life’s purpose begins with gaining greater self-awareness of the life experiences that have shaped you, your passions and the legacy you want to leave in the world.

It means getting clear about the work you were born to do, creating a clear and compelling vision about your preferred future and ensuring everything you do from this point on takes you closer to your life purpose.

Book_transparentbg copyThis has been an excerpt from Mid-Life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself.  Find your purpose and point of brilliance and read other inspirational stories of success inMid-Life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself available in print and eBook on Amazon.

Three ways to turn your weakness into a strength

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” cropped

Don’t let your weakness deceive you!

Too often people focus on their weaknesses without reframing them as strengths. This can rob you of confidence, self-esteem and your next great opportunity to truly shine.

Your greatest weakness is also, very often, your greatest strength. It’s all about timing and context.

My greatest weakness? Distraction—including getting excited about my next book before I’ve even finished the one I’m working on! My heart is racing, I feel breathless, excited…as though my eyes will burst forth in a flood of joyful tears…Coco Chanel! Yes, this amazing lady will be the next focus of my The Art of Success series!

 

Writing room Teh Art of Success

I had just finished reading her biography, and then stumbled across a newsletter in my inbox, with a link to some amazing newly discovered images. One of the many reasons I don’t unsubscribe from some newsletters is because sometimes, when I least expect, I will be delighted! (confession – I have over 200 emails in my inbox – I’m an email hoarder!)

Here’s the cover for the first book in the series – also a passion project. For Leonardo da Vinci I chose the Flower of Life to symbolise everything this renaissance genius believed.

When I was at architecture school we were challenged to create sets for a play—we had to distill the essence of the lead character as simply as possible. I still recall the set we designed for Mae West—a black backdrop with a simple red raised rectangular platform in the centre.

My greatest weakness is also my greatest strength
I have no problem generating ideas—something my clients value when they are feeling stuck. I’ve been hired for coveted role in business environments because of my creativity, in this regard. And when I wrote a column for 4 years for The Dominion Post and also contributed to The New Zealand Herald people said, “I love your column. I keep some of them pinned on my wall. How do you come up with so many different ideas?”

Recently I was interviewed by Olivia Gamber a US Career Expert. Do you know what she put as the lead quote?

“The biggest skill you need to have during a career transition is an imagination.”

If your imagination could do with some stimulation check out the interview here http://occupationalolivia.com/how-to-overcome-your-mid-life-career-crisis/

Like Leonardo da Vinci I am naturally curious about everything. Avoiding a thinking rut, and following seemingly unrelated themes is an efficient and simple way to stimulate new ideas.

What’s your greatest weakness?

Your greatest weakness can also be your ‘unfair advantage’ —it’s what comes so easily, or what you do effortlessly, that others find difficult.

Your weakness may be what others criticise you for. For example, I was often told I was too sensitive and needed to toughen up. Yet I am highly empathic, and intuitive with natural psychic skills—something I use in my writing, painting and business mentoring.

Three ways to turn your weakness into a strength

Work for fit! If you’re stubborn and inflexible, for example, pick a work environment, role or project  where your  bloody-minded focus will achieve the results needed.

Complement. Pick a team, role or group where you can complement the current skillset.

Prepare.  “What is your greatness weaknesses?” is a standard interview question. Don’t run through your list of weaknesses without highlighting examples of where either your weaknesses was a strength in a certain situation; or demonstrating it’s an area you have invested time and skill developing self-mastery.

For more ways to clarify your best-fit, environment, role or job check out the Career Rescue Series, or How to Find Your Passion and Purpose

signature my name angie edited

p.s

So, what should the cover be for Book Two of The Art of Success: Coco Chanel. Leave a comment—share with friends—one of your ideas could be on my next #1 best-seller!

Book One of  The Art of Success (Leonardo da Vinci): How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed Personally and Professionally will be available in July 2016. To be the first to know and receive a free gift, click here https://worklifesolutions.leadpages.co/the-art-of-success/

 

To fulfil your potential you have to step out of the comfort zone

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

shoot for the stars by Kimberly Gordon ReelandWhilst it’s commonly stated that we should do what comes naturally, this may not be the best advice!

To fulfil your potential you have to step out of the comfort zone of doing what you do well and embrace the uncertain world of trying something new.

In doing this you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing whether you swim on a new current of fulfilment and success – something others refer to as ‘flow”.

Just as Jilly did, the wonderful lady in her 70’s who has become a photographer, and whose story I shared in Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy).

Listening to Jilly’s stories of reinvention, it’s clear to me that variety, learning and new challenges are some of her most important values. “‘I’ve always followed my dream – I wasn’t a mid-lifer who found what I wanted to do. I always took chances and jumped in with both feet!” She said. 

Read her inspiring story in Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy), or check out her website – her work is really, really special. Her natural affinity for dogs, and the skills she’s developed with the camera, creates something truly magical. She has now had several exhibitions with two more coming up next year. Also she has been invited to join Getty Images.

 

 

But what if you  don’t swim? What if you sink? At least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you tried, and the great fortune of implementing your lessons learned in your next attempt!

Refresh Your Life With Change

Sticking with what you do well can be the worst thing to do if you want to live a meaningful life. To develop new skills, new ways of being to become someone other than who you believe yourself to be takes a willingness to change.

As astrologer Sarah Varcas shares, “It takes courage and fortitude, a willingness to be a new-born again, discovering life from scratch, adopting a new perspective and fresh guidelines. Of course we can take our strengths and abilities with us on the journey. They’ll come in more than handy! But to see them as the be-all and end-all, the extent of our ‘tool kit’, is to live a half-baked life in the shadow of who we could actually be if we allowed ourselves to grow.”

Here’s a few questions to ponder, the answers may prove liberating:

  • What would you be willing to try if you were 10 times bolder?
  • What wouyld you try if you knew success was guaranteed?
  • How could trying out new ways of being or working enrich your life?

Finding My Passion and Purpose

I put into motion my own advice late last year and published my first two books in the Mid-Life Career Rescue series on Amazon. What fun! I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.

Since embarking on change I’ve published a book a month and recently penned my third book: How To Find Your Passion And Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want and Live The Life You Love, is more of guide, than a book – a nice short, easy to implement tool kit to help you live and work with passion and purpose.

The Amazon details and link are here: http://amzn.to/1W0IreR

A new thing I did for the first time was creating my own cover – using my own art work too. The feedback I’ve received about both the book and the cover has enriched my life in ways I couldn’t have perceived. I gain from the satisfaction and fulfilment of being fully autonomous in all aspects of publishing and gaining from the immediacy and intimacy of the feedback from readers.

“Simply delightful, witty quick read, packed with excellent information. I’m actually believing now, I could change my career after 18 years!” Wrote one Amazon reviewer.

“I feel I want to read this book now! The red energy swirl suggests an invitation to enter a journey of discovering ones passion,” shared another person when she first saw the cover.

Of course, sometimes when you try new things, even successful new things you can attract criticism. I did when I wrote my second book. A reviewer said,  “I loved the inspiration, content, and message. There book rambles a lot though.”

Ok, I thought. I won’t ramble in my next book – I’ll be more concise!

How To Find Your Passion And Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want and Live The Life You Love is available through Amazon at the special introductory price of $.99 for a limited time. http://amzn.to/1W0IreR

How to create a new life – harness the power of one and achieve your goals

Friday, January 1st, 2016

one thought,
one feeling,
one intention,
one desire,
one challenge

A very warm greeting to you on this most auspicious day  the first day of the first month – the beginning of a wonderful new year.

One has become my favourite number. I love its simplicity. In an era where overwhelm threatens the peace and equilibrium of so many, ‘one’ makes things easy.

My one goal last year was to overcome my own self-doubt and follow my passion for writing. I love writing. It’s what I was born to do. If I don’t have a pen in my hand, a notebook at the ready, I feel lost, anxious, irritable, Writing soothes my soul. Writing allows me to connect with others and to express the things I care deeply about.

And so with this in mind, I made one promise to myself in 2015 – to publish one book. And then another in my Mid-Life Career Rescue series. Books which would share my own mid-life journey to career nirvana, and the journey of other seekers too.

And in turn, my hope was that sharing these stories would inspire you.

So it’s been exciting to read the reviews and hear from people who have read my first books in the Mid-Life Career Rescue series. People like Hillary who said, “This is the perfect gentle nudge needed to move me forward and make those scary life changes.

I was scared last year too. I wondered how my books would be received. I wondered if anyone would like them. I feared public rejection, bad reviews, losing the time and money I had invested – all those things. But my desire was stronger. I didn’t want to wonder, ‘what if.” What if I had taken a risk and published my book. I took the risk, and it’s been worth it. I chose to change my focus  – to create in my minds eye everything I that dreamed of and saw in my mind’s eye, that I wanted to become ‘true.’

Going to bed last night on New Year’s Eve after celebrating the last day of 2015, to find Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy) twas #1 on the best-seller list on Amazon was amazing. And waking up today on the first day of 2016 and finding it was still #1 was fun!

So if there’s one thing I would encourage you to do this year it would be this – feel the fear and follow your passion anyway. Be curious, be playful, be adventurous and see where these feelings take you.

If you know anyone who needs a gentle nudge this year to make a change for the better the link is here http://amzn.to/1JmGq5C

What’s one intention you could make this year that, when followed through, would make a tremendous difference to your life? Please let me know on in the comments section of this blog

In the meantime I leave with you with this inspirational sculpture created by renown New Zealand Sculptor Chris Booth. My partner commissioned it for my 50th birthday last year. Together the three of us named it Viewfinder, which I love given my passion for photography. Of course, a viewfinder is the tool that enables you to find your point of focus. The viewfinder is the single most important user interface on any camera. And your viewfinder – your point of focus, the thing that captures your interest, your attention, your passion, is the most important tool in creating your best life in 2016. Set your focus, capture your desires and allow them to motivate and guide you throughout the hours, weeks, and months which follow.

Viewfinder Chris Booth web

I wish you a very happy new year. May 2016 bring you continued happiness and joy.

How to change careers – follow your passion not your pension

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

20120416-Chiens Diaporama  (1 of 1)-26

It’s my great privilege to share a sneak peek at Jilly Bennett’s incredible story of reinvention and her amazing photography.

I first met Jilly in 2014 when I was chasing my many passions in Italy. We both signed up to follow another passionate woman, photographer Carla Couslon, with whom we travelled around Puglia learning more about photography and a life worth living. Carla’s books Italian Joy and Chasing A Dream spoke to us all, luring us to distant shores.

I adore Jilly’s zest for life and the way she so poignantly shatters mistaken beliefs about ageing. As you’ll see and read for yourself in my latest book, ‘Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Makes You Happy) How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you  love, before it’s too late’. Available in paperback and ebook from the following Amazon link http://amzn.to/1JmGq5C

I loved including Jilly’s story, especially when I read reviews like those below:

If, like me, you’re sick of reading/hearing ‘find your passion’ and you’ve no idea what to do – this book has it covered! I liked that the author explains how to actually go about finding your ‘passion’ or ‘purpose’. And she included the ‘reality testing’ step as well. I’m at a mid-life career crisis point – a very useful read!” ~ Amazon Review

“This book asks you all the basic questions and provides direction to . It provides numerous examples of success based on passion for the cynics amongst us. And you can do all this in the safety of the work life you dislike. Now it is your turn to find out how the book ends.” ~ Simon Weiner

20151123-DSCF8093

Follow this blog link to view Jilly’s photos and be inspired by her story:

http://www.worklifesolutions.co.nz/how-to-be-happy-with-yourself-prioritising-whats-important/

How to be happy with yourself – prioritising what’s important

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

PRIORITISING WHAT’S IMPORTANT

“Values are a matter of what guides you through every day, every task, every encounter with another human being. Yet we are often unaware of what our values are.” ~ Richard Bolles, Author

Sometimes the job of your dreams may be the one least likely to pay the most. But it’s not always about the money. Right? There’s more to being rewarded for the work you do than the pay cheque you take home at the end of the week.

Job satisfaction, fulfilment, quality of family and private life and mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional health are too often left out of the equation when evaluating job opportunities.

Most people will say that having enough money to live comfortably is important to them. But not everyone is willing to work for less money in order to have other needs meet.

For these people what they value most is not money, it’s something else more important to them – such as working for a specific cause, helping people, being creative, being challenged or having great work-life balance and plenty of free time.

Being aware of what your non-negotiable values are, and proactively ensuring these needs are met at work is vitally important. A career choice that is in line with your core beliefs and values is more likely to be a lasting and positive choice. It allows you to be who you really are, and do what you really need, in order to achieve what you want.

What Are Values?

Your most important values are the things you feel very strongly about. Your values are who you are and who you want to be. They are the ideals that guide or qualify your personal conduct, interaction with others and involvement in your career.

Like morals, they help you to distinguish what is right from what is wrong, and good from bad. They’re signposts which direct you to your best-fit career and inform you on how you can live your life in a meaningful way.

Your values are formed in a variety of ways through your life experiences, the way you are uniquely wired and the choices you make. They’re who you are and who you choose to be.

Jilly left home when she was only 14. As she says, hers was not a conventional life. Now in her 70’s, her most important values centre around independence, autonomy, creativity and freedom. It’s not hard to understand why. Now living in a medieval village near to Menton, France, and working as a photographer and journalist, her life and work reflects who she is and the things most important to her.

Listening to Jilly’s stories of reinvention, it’s clear to me that variety, learning and new challenges are important values too. “‘I’ve always followed my dream – I wasn’t a mid-lifer who found what I wanted to do. I always took chances and jumped in with both feet!  I ran a drama school with a one-time husband, I was an actress, I owned two restaurants, one in London, one in Hobart, Tasmania.

“My grand passion though was dogs and bred and showed dogs for over thirty years and  during the 1980s, had one of the top breeding and showing kennels in Old English Sheepdogs  I also judged the breed all over the world. I’ve lived in America, in Australia, in Wales, in London, and, for the past 25 years, in France. I was never ever a person who needed a mid-life boost as it were.”

Jilly, says she always had what others call courage. “In fact had I not said ‘yes’ to every opportunity in life I knew I’d always worry what I’d missed. It seemed to me it took more courage to say ‘No’ than to say ‘Yes’.” When she was 67, new adventures beckoned, and she picked up a camera.

“I didn’t get into photography because it was something I’d always wanted to do- in fact, during my years showing Old English Sheepdogs, I was endlessly taking photos of the show dogs and puppies, so perhaps that was the beginning of my creativity in photography.

“But about eight years ago a blog about a town not far from me drew my attention, and I thought ‘I can do that!’ and so I did. My photography was woeful – crooked buildings, and horizons – not that I knew it at the time. But slowly by looking at other photographer’s work, I started to ‘see’ what I needed to improve.  I got inspired and gradually improved my skills (I still am!).

“I took workshops, (Carla Coulson and Nick Danziger – both life changing) photography friends helped me, I read endlessly on the subject and watched training videos. Eventually, instead of writing about my town with photos, I was taking photos for their own sake.”

I love Jilly’s motivation, ‘I could do that!’ How many times have you said that. But how many times have you acted on it?

“I do think life experiences have made me a better photographer – the technical side had to be learned, but it’s in what I choose to photograph that defines my work. I love, for instance, the world of street photography. For me, a good photograph needs to make the photographer and the viewer ‘feel’ something.”

Jilly’s most recent creative endeavour blends her love for dogs with her passion for photography. “During my years as a dog breeder, exhibitor and judge, I always photographed my dogs in show pose. I think that gave me an ‘eye’ for a photo, as I had an eye for a dog, as we say.”

Check out her website – her work is really, really special. Her natural affinity for dogs, and the skills she’s developed with the camera, creates something truly magical. She has now had several exhibitions with two more coming up next year. Also she has been invited to join Getty Images.

Jilly is currently working on two books, one about the medieval hill village where she lives – not a book for tourists, as such, but one that will follow the daily lives of the people who live there and who have made her so welcome. The second book will be called Riviera Dogs.

Saying yes to opportunities, makes your life richer

As Jilly’s story highlights, saying ‘yes’ to opportunities as they appear has made her life richer.

This is an excerpt from career expert Cassandra Gaisford’s Amazon #1 best-selling book, Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Makes You Happy) How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you love, before it’s too late.

To celebrate the release of her new book she’s giving you something for FREE!

Click Here to Download Your FREE Find Your Passion Workbook

Three days to train a horse. Three days to change a habit.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

IMG_2846Golden Dream, one of the pregnant mares we’ve been babysitting, started eating the fences while we were away for three days. My partner said, ‘Something has got to change, either the horses changed their behaviour or they have to go.’

You may be wondering, what does this have to do with writing or any act of creativity? I didn’t want the horses to go, just like I don’t want to give up my dream of being published in fiction.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of talk that it takes 21 days to change a habit, but where’s the evidence? Why 21 days? What if the truth was it only takes three days to change a habit? That would be cool.  Three days is manageable, easier to chew and simpler digest. Then add three more days, and three more, until voilà you have achieved seven sets of three and a new habit is ingrained. Of course it can’t stop there. A new habit has to continue to be effective.

I proved my horse theory of behavioural change today. Day three and the horses are retrained, I’m still working on training myself to change unhelpful behaviours, including procrastination, but here’s a few things I’ve learned recently from other pro’s:

Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task

Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task. Robert McKee, story guru to the stars, including Peter Jackson and many other high achieving creatives, says it takes 10 years before you can master the craft of writing. Joanna Penn, New York Times and USA Today best-selling novelist and author of one of the top 10 blogs for self-publishers, wrote recently of author Blake Crouch’s 10 year journey through different forms of publishing – his Wayward Pines series is now a TV show. 10 seems to be a magic number, just like 3.

 

Think like a pro and be prepared to learn

Think and act and feel like a pro. No one achieves pro status without some sort of apprenticeship. Like any apprentice you have tasks to learn from other experts on the journey to craft mastery.  Joanna Penn, for example attends workshops and learns from other successful people in her field. Other pro’s do the same.

“Excellence of any kind is based upon knowledge,” says Robert McKee. “You have to do research, you have to know what it is you are trying to do. The more you understand what you are trying to do the better you will be at it. The notion you can rely in instinct is foolishness.”

 

Do the work

“Show up, show up and soon the muse shows up too”, says author Isabel Allende. Show up, put your bum on the seat, and put your pen in hand and do the work.  “You can’t actually make a living from writing if you’re not actually writing, ” says Joanna Penn – very wisely! Some authors suggest writing at a set time every day, others advocate for a more flexible approach. Know what works for you and stick to it. Determine the goals you want to achieve. Whether it’s a quota, a set amount of time to write, or a defined task to conquer, determine what you are going to do and stay at work until your done.

 

Write faster

Prolific Amazon best-selling author Steve Windsor, warns against over thinking. Write faster, he says. This is a great way to minimise the internal critic and the perfectionist. They can come out to play later, the main thing is to get down the bones, at least then you’ll have something to work with. If you have no words you have nothing to go back and edit later. Steve Windsor speaks from experience – with nine books out in eight months he knows how to be a writing machine.

 

Practice habit creep

Changing human behaviour is often considered to be one of the hardest things to do in business and in life, writes James Clear.  James studies successful people across a wide range of disciplines — entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, and more — to uncover the habits and routines that make these people the best at what they do.

What if,  he asks in a recent newsletter, we trusted that becoming more successful  came as a natural side effect of improving our normal routines? It makes absolute sense that as our normal habits improve so will our successes – whether this is because our daily word count goes up, or we churn out more books over a year, or what ever else we want to achieve.

James Clear has coined the phrase ‘habit creep’  to describe the idea of ‘slightly adjusting your habits until behaviours and results that were once out of reach become your new normal‘.

He advocates two primary ways to change long-term behaviours and improve performance for good:

  1. Increase your performance by a little bit each day. Most people take this to the extreme, he’s says.
  2. Change your environment to remove small distractions and barriers. Most people never think about this.

 

I’ve been implementing many of these strategies to increasing success. I’m breaking the task of finishing a book of fiction into manageable tasks. I’m practising habit creep and writing fast by working in 40 minute intervals of timed writing bursts, followed by 10 minutes of cardio!It’s so important as a writer not to be sedentary.

I’ve also changing location, moving out of the house and into the garden to minimise the distraction created by unlimited WIFI and interruptions at home. Look, even Golden Dream is cheer-leading me on as I write!

Watching podcasts by writing professionals, and joining writing forums and communities of writers with similar aspirations has been fabulous too, tuning up my mindset and providing me with ‘my tribe’ and a sense of belonging.

It’s day one of making these changes in my writing life, but having trained the horses to stop eating the fence in three days by making slow, incremental adjustments to their routine, I’m optimistic that I can create new habits that lasts a lifetime too.

 

Everyone gets obsessed with achieving their very best day—pulling the best score on their test, running their fastest race ever, making the most sales in the department. I say forget that stuff. Just improve your normal day and the results will take care of themselves. We naturally make long-term changes in our lives by slowly and slightly adjusting our normal everyday habits and behaviours.” ~ James Clear

Boost your creativity

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Young woman laying on dry leaves and enjoying life

It’s incredible to believe that seven years have passed and I’ve become more and more distanced from my creative self. As we head into Autumn it’s the perfect time to start shedding old patterns to make way for new habits.

Listed below are just 8 (lucky 8!) of the many creative tools and strategies that have helped me in the past to tap into and boost my creativity – I hope some reasonnate with you.

1. Stress less: Being overwhelmed can put a real dampener on people’s creative ability. Making a commitment to reduce the stressors in your life will help boost your creative juices. Become a creative procrastinator by putting off until tomorrow that which won’t advance your goals today! Meditate to boost your creativity and stress less

2. Diet: Eat well – you’ll have greater physical, mental and emotional energy and be more focused. Knock artificial energizers and stimulants such as caffeine, V’s and alcohol and nicotine on the head (or at least limit your intake). For more energy and creativity up your intake of water, eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and B group vitamins.

3. Brainstorm: Unleash ideas you’ve been holding back and generate new ones you never knew you had by tapping into the creative power of brainstorming. Creating some pressure by setting a time limit of 5 minutes or setting a target of 20 new ideas can liberate new ideas and free up old patterns of thinking.

4. See your way to success: Visualization is the creation of a clear mental picture of your goals and life desires. Actively picture in your minds eye your desired outcomes. Imagine or “image” the goal as already realized is a powerful creative technique.

5. Collage: Collect images that capture your goals and aspirations. Preparing an image board or collage and placing it somewhere you will see everyday is a great way to affirm goals and ensure the life you desire is always at the forefront of your mind.

6. Normalise failure: Not allowing room for mistakes is one of the biggest barriers to creativity. Normalise failure by viewing setbacks or mistakes as part of the learning process. Reward yourself for having the courage to try.

7. Learn from the experts: Take a class or invest in some bibliotherapy and learn your way to success. The successes I have had with my art have definitely benefited from attending workshops with top artists like Max Gimblett, Megan Schmidt and Jane Kellahan. I’m doing the same with my writing – I’ve benefitted from great authors and teachers like Karl Englesias and Carol Hughes, and the success of romance authors like Robyn Donald and Daphne Clair and editors like Mary Buckham and Sherry Gottlieb.My photography skills received a major boost when I travelled to Puglia, Italy in 2014 for a workshop with inpirational Carla Coulson.  It’s always inspiring to learn off people who have a passion for what they do and do it well.

8. Collect feedback: boost your creative confidence by noticing what you do well. A good way to do this is to collect unsolicited feedback that you receive from others. I’ll share some of my recent feedback to show you what I mean – I have a special inspirational feedback journal  where I keep comments such as these:

Art

“I saw your beautiful pieces at Thorndon. I recognised them straightaway and loved them sooooooooo much. So did Heather!! They have a strong magnetic pull and for me I just adored them . I found myself in front of one ALL the time.

“I’ve been receiving your inspiring newsletters for some time now and wanted to let you know that I finally saw one of your paintings when my husband and I visited the Affordable Arts Show on Friday. I was busy admiring ‘Whole’ then recognised your name. After seeing your other art works on the website I felt I had to let you know how much I enjoyed them particularly the colours you use and your free flowing style. I would love to come along to your upcoming exhibition. Could you please send me more details nearer to the time?”

“I love it. I really love it.” – Megan Schmidt re abstract “Autumn”

and from the lovely man who brought my award winning Wai art piece love stain,” introducing the “Photographer” who fell in love with your Wai Art Award entry . . . . thank you, R”

All those comments and many more life them make the world of difference to me – it means people have connected with what I do and felt uplifted, happy and positive when my joyfully created works are around. Thanks to this feedback I continue down the path previously less travelled. I can’t encourage you enough to start collecting your own feedback too.”

I’ve done the same with my writing, photography and other creative pursuits. Keeping and reviewing feedback nourishes my creativity.
Writing

“It’s bloody blockbuster material, girl! Great characters, great plot, great conflict and tension and stakes that just keep racheting upwards.”

“I know I threw a lot at you and my greatest fear is that I stop a writer dead in their tracks. That would be horrible. But if I didn’t see the potential in your work and in your story — which is sheer brilliance – I wouldn’t push you so hard. Have fun with the revisions — I know you’ll do a great job!”

 

How this works in practice

If I didn’t take time out to think about my achievements and to replenish I wouldn’t have achieved a fraction of the things I have in my creative and artistic career. Recently I scheduled a block of time and took off to Fiji. Taking this time out helped me stress less and return to my normal life with greater resilience.

Having just purchased a new property, and all the stress that comes with buying and selling and moving etc I’m planning time out again. My soul needs it. By actively investing in myself and my creative skills I’m aiming to  came back super inspired and energized. I’m confident that, rather than push myself with self-imposed deadlines and expectations, by taking some time out I’ll be positively brimming with creative ideas and a whole new sense of joy and colorfulness will emerge in my work – both professional and creative.

So even though I’m not actively creativing right now I am proactively visualizing and planning my next creative journey. I’m collecting and adding photos  other inspiring images to my visual diary and passion journal  to help make my dreams more real. I did they same thing before I went to Maui in 2008 – the last time I felt truly creative following winning the Supreme Art Award and finalling in the The Adam Portrait Award that same year.

 

I’m looking forward to living with passion and creating with joy again and hope you are too. The world needs more happy people.

How to whip writers block and procrastination into shape – take the challenge!

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

This month I’ve been taking part in NaNoWri challenge – 50, 000 words in a month, via the Harlequin site.

Never mind that I started late. I’m there now and clocking up words on my new idea for a romance novel.

Working with a group of like-minded people, even if they are all on-line, is incredibly, incredibly motivating and encouraging.

The other thing that works well for me is rewarding successes – and offering myself bribes.

My first bribe was a scented candle when I reached 10,000 words.

Now my next bribe will be a massage when I’ve made 20,000 words – only (she says optimistically) 6160 words to achieve this reward.

I’d like to achieve by the end of this NaNoWri challenge. So what with four days left that leaves 1540 words a day, maybe 770 in the mornings and the same in the evenings to pace myself. She says have devoured the eBook Daily Rituals (which is a brief analysis of some of the world’s best known and loved authors. A great read – very encouraging on so many levels.

I could stretch it to 25,000 then I’d achieve the huge psychological challenge of attaining the halfway mark to a completed book – but with only four days left and a lot happening in my personal life I don’t want to set myself up to fail.

What are your favourite ways of whipping writers block and/or procrastination into shape?

*