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Posts Tagged 'The anxiety cure'

could you do Christmas sober?

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

The holiday season is meant to be a time of family togetherness filled with joy and peace.

But the reality is what we see in our communities, read about in the newspapers, and witness on television is the opposite.  Many people experience a flare-up of anxiety, stress, depression, and guilt, others are victims of domestic violence, and innocent people are impacted by others booze-fuelled antics.

To make matters worse, the most common way people deal with the stress is by emotional drinking, bingeing and in many cases using alcohol and other substances just to survive.

We all know the harm excessive alcohol consumption does to families—child assault, fractured relationships, financial stress, aggression, murders of loved ones, drunk driving leading to death or disablement. ..and these are just some of the “avoidable” effects of our drunk culture. And then, of course, there’s a possible stint in prison.
 I know how stressful Christmas can be, but trust me when I say, alcohol is not the road to happiness. I hate to see you get derailed on your wellness, health and weight goals but what I hate to see even more is the guilt it can bring and the self-loathing and self-doubt that comes with it.

Could you do Christmas sober?

Would it be easier for you to control your alcohol consumption if it wasn’t so readily available? What if it wasn’t shoved in your face every time you walked down the street or went shopping for groceries? Many people say, ‘yes’ but they feel powerless to stop the spread of alcohol in their lives and communities.

“A lot of people are deeply dissatisfied by the diminishing control they have over their lives, because of the way our system of government is set up, to cater to the powerful, cater to the wealthy, cater to the corporations, and not to the individual citizen,” says activist Josh Fox.

Do you know how much money litigious alcohol lobbyists spend each year trying to convince governments and local bodies to relax attempts at alcohol restraint? Where one party is motivated by protecting people from avoidable harm and creating safer communities, the other appears to be motivated purely by sales-driven, self-serving profit.

Let me be clear, I’m not against alcohol companies per se, and I don’t believe a nice drink now and then is an abhorrent evil. What does get my back up is underhand tactics, misinformation, and self-interest at the expense of others. That, and not sticking around to mop up the harm.

According to figures published by the Center for Responsive Politics in 2017, the total lobbying expenditures in the US for Beer, Wine & Liquor was a staggering USD $22,607,510—and this is just the money that was reported.

Incentives and kickbacks to aid and abet favorable practices abound in many industries whose primary goal is to maximize profits and returns to shareholders.

The owner of our local liquor store, for example, was rewarded for selling the highest volume of 1125ml bottles of rum with an all expenses paid trip to Jamacia. That’s quite a juicy incentive to up the volume of sales.

Many booze barons and the companies they create operate similarly to banks—fair weather friends while you’re spending but less than benevolent when you’re drowning in debt or reeling under the impact of alcohol-fuelled harm.

 

Here are just a few things that alcohol lobbyists strongly oppose:

• Advertising and promotion constraints

• Alcohol control—including raising the legal age for drinking

• Increases in product-specific taxes (designed to offset harm or reduce consumption)

 

Let me give you several home-grown examples of how lobbyists can exert their influence.

In 1999 the legal purchasing age in New Zealand was lowered from 20 to 18. Despite several calls for legislation against the change, and repeated attempts to raise the drinking age again, it’s proven easier to reduce the drinking age than it has to raise it.

Lawmakers continually and overwhelmingly support the status quo and, despite the increasing scale of harm, the legal drinking age remains 18. MPs, swayed by lobbyists successfully argued “If we say to people that you can vote, you can marry, you can fight for your country and you can die, then logically you shouldn’t say to them you shouldn’t drink in a public bar.”

Compelling logic if one accepts that teenagers should go to war, and ignores the issue that alcohol is a highly addictive drug.

Phil Goff, the Labor justice spokesman at the time of the changes, vehemently argued for a tightening of the 20-year age limit, citing overseas evidence linking increased road deaths to lower ages, and also citing public opinion polls that were against a lower age.

But the research was rejected as not relevant to New Zealand.

Māori Pacific MP Tukoroirangi Morgan said he had seen on marae and hui the results of young people drinking and driving.

“It would be a tragedy if this House was to say yes we will lower the age to 18. You may as well go and shoot 75 young Maori,” he said.

Almost a decade on and the concerns of Morgan and other opponents of lowering the drinking age are well-justified. Along with alcohol-related deaths from drunk driving, domestic violence assaults resulting in death, 2012 statistics reveal 119 Māori deaths from suicide—accounting for 21.6 percent of all suicide deaths in that year. Alcohol is said to have been a contributing factor in many of these tragically avoidable deaths.

Add to these sobering statistics the appalling and imbalanced incarceration rates and you’ll quickly appreciate the escalating harm caused by alcohol. In New Zealand, Māori make up only 14.6 percent of Zealand’s population, but a staggering 51 percent of its prison population.

Prominent businessman Gareth Morgan wants to see the age limit raised. “It was lowered in 1999 to appease the alcohol lobby, and we were promised at the time that if evidence showed harm went up after the change they would reverse it,” Morgan said, in an article in Fairfax Media.

“All of the evidence, all of the reports, have pointed unambiguously to harm going up.”

Research also shows the lowering of the age had resulted in the “de facto” drinking age falling to between 14 and 17.

“The data is showing us that in secondary schools six out of ten students are drinking. Nearly half of them consume more than five drinks in each session. And one in five is saying their aim is to get drunk. That’s where the problem is,” Morgan said.

In another example, official papers published by Fairfax New Zealand revealed that in 2012, former New Zealand Justice Minister Judith Collins met liquor industry lobbyists repeatedly in the weeks before the Government’s controversial U-turn on measures to restrict sales of alcopops.

The documents, released under the Official Information Act and published in 2012, reveal the extent of the pressure exerted by the industry, including a joint letter to former National Prime Minister John Key warning him his Government was about to “make a very serious and highly public mistake”.

The industry hinted that legal action was possible if the crackdown went ahead.

In late August of 2012, the Government backed away from its plan to ban from off-licenses the sale of RTDs (ready-to-drinks) with more than 6 percent alcohol.

Not only are RTDs stronger and cheaper than other forms of alcohol, but they’re sweeter (therefore masking the task of alcohol) and easier to consume.

Instead, the Government gave the industry the right to draw up its own RTD code of conduct.

Really? The alcohol industry regulating itself to reduce harm? Until there are disincentives for them to keep increasing the volumes of alcohol consumed, such as an about-turn in public opinion, it is highly unlikely they will regulate against their own interests. Until then, what possible motivation would they have to scale back their reach?

In the following chapter, you’ll discover how alcohol companies profited from the sale of RTD’s to society’s most vulnerable—including children as young as 12.

Collins, in announcing the backdown, said, “Frankly, I think we can stop treating everyone as though they’re fools and can’t make decisions for themselves. It was a bit too much taking away people’s responsibility. About 80 percent of New Zealanders drink extremely responsibly.”

This sounds like the same ineffective logic applied to the sugar barons.

Unsurprisingly the sugar barons are also powerful lobbyists—ones not beyond using a raft of diversion tactics. For example, during the ’50s, when colas and junk food begin to gain traction, the US sugar lobby managed to divert the onus for children’s’ obesity onto dairy products, while their flunkeys invented a narrative about cholesterol and harmful fats.

By saying that people who can’t control alcohol are ‘fools’ and should be able to make informed choices, Collins may as well be saying that people should be left alone to decide whether to wear a seatbelt in a car or a safety helmet while riding a bike on the road. Statistics reveal that lives are saved, and harm reduced, when laws are introduced to help people to help themselves.

One may well ask where are the booze-barons when people are shelling out a fortune for rehab? Where are they when people are so sick they cannot work? Who picks up the tab when a beloved mother, father, son, daughter or friend dies of alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related cancer, or at the hands of a drunk driver?

Equity, Fairness, and Justice—Let’s Level The Field

Do these booze barons pay an equitable share of tax? Are the costs of social harm factored into ongoing costs to individuals, families, and communities?

Who, for example, is going to pay for the childcare costs, mortgage payments and healing of the psychological trauma inflicted on Abdul Raheem Fahad Syed’s wife and child? This innocent man, a beloved father, and husband was working to provide for his family when he was killed in a horror smash by a drunk ‘joy-riding’ teen just before Christmas in 2017.

Who will pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars of judicial and penitentiary costs when the 20-year-old drunk, driving an expensive late-model BMW is sentenced? The Government—and by default law-abiding taxpayers? Why?

And why is the driver charged with careless driving? Why not murder? We all know the dangers and risks of driving drunk.

I’m being provocative, I know. But I’m sick of feeling afraid and worried when I drive at night that I might become the next victim of a marauding drunk. And I’m sick of my tax dollars being spent so needlessly.

I’m not alone. In the following chapter, you’ll discover research conducted by the University of Western Australia in 2016, summarizing the revenues generated by excise taxes, and questioning the fair, or rather citing the unfair allocation of the burden of harm.

 

Nobody’s  Fool

Mindful or conscious drinking is not only being aware of why you drink, how much you drink, and how to regulate or control your drinking—but also becoming aware of the powerful economic forces lobbied at encouraging you to drink more, and disempowering individuals from making rational, positive choices.

Mindful drinking is also a commitment to refusing to remain blissfully ignorant and becoming aware of the horrific and escalating costs of alcohol harm, and deciding whether you want to be part of the problem—or the cure.

Is all this new knowledge enough to cause you to rethink your relationship to alcohol? I hope so. With knowledge comes wisdom.

The following excerpt from a 2013 report published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health spotlights the collaborative efforts and sharing of formidable financial resource that alcohol and tobacco companies pour into ensuring high sales and profits, manipulating governments and turning people into fools.

You may argue that pooling resources is simply smart business. Yet, it’s worth considering is it a fair or ethical practice to target:

• Minorities

• Vulnerable people, including youth

• Socio-economically deprived and those at risk?

• You?

Perhaps you don’t count yourself in any of the above brackets. But the truth is that alcohol harm is all pervasive—and expensive. Suicide, car crashes, injury, mental-health related violence, the high cost of incarceration, expenditure on addressing alcohol harm at the cost of increased spending by Governments affects us all.   

 

Your Feelings Matter

Heightened knowledge may not be the total catalyst to sobriety, but it has played a large part in mine, and also my devotion to this book and spreading the truth about alcohol.

Feelings, as you’ll discover in my books Your Beautiful Mind and Mind Your Drink, matter. They are the gateway, the portal, to transformational change.

When you feel compassion, empathy, sadness, rage, love for those who suffer needlessly, and this includes yourself, you will find freedom from alcohol. In the chapter, Get Angry, I look at how healing and cathartic channeling your anger into a higher purpose can be. You’ll also learn how the New Zealand Police were taken to court by local government (the Wellington City Council)—and the ridiculous reason why.

We’ll also explore why we are incarcerating so many people with drinking problems and the need to spend more money on offering treatment and support.

But first, let’s take a peek into the darker and fascinating side of advertising.

Specifically, we’ll look at the psychological warfare and advertising ploys that booze barons use to manipulate you to act against your best interests. Just when you thought you were in control!

My aim is not to scare you sober, but perhaps you’ll feel a sense of relief, as one person said, “It’s great to finally understand I am not to blame.”

One day, this same person may encounter, Judith Collins and say, “Hey, Judy, I say wanted to say—I am nobody’s fool.”

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:

Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

 

 

The anxiety cure: How I avoid depression, get energized, find joy, and stay inspired

Monday, October 29th, 2018

 

People often compliment me for my sunny disposition and bubbly, passionate nature. So it may surprise you to learn that I don’t always feel up-beat and inspired. I’m just like you. Sometimes I feel despondent, depressed, and stressed. Like many of my clients and people who are drawn to my self-empowerment books sometimes my outlook can be intensely bleak.

These are not feelings I like to stew in, so I’ve learned a few simple strategies to help my soul and spirit soar.

It often surprises me when people say to me, “It’s easy for you, Cassandra. You’re always happy.” Or, when people criticize me, as a former colleague once did. “You know your problem? You’re too happy.”

As I read somewhere recently, “Being positive is an act of courage—it’s easier to be negative.”

Thank you, whoever you are— I found your words inspiring.

Below are just a few of my favorite ways to spark joy and become inspired—even when I felt like s**t. If you’re feeling down, flat, discouraged, fatigued or beaten up by life, I hope you find some encouragement in my words which follow.

 

Lost your mojo? Heed the early warning signs

I’m super vigilant to heed the red flags that warn me that I’m heading for a depressive or anxious state. I put preventive strategies in place, and draw on these (topping them up when I need an extra boost) during times of heavier-than-normal workload or life hassles.

I’m as guilty as anyone of having a propensity to over-work. I love what I do with such a passion it doesn’t feel like a job at all. I’d happily work weekends and nights if need be. But I know I’m not a machine. I know I need to rest. I know that lack of balance between work and play is not a smart success strategy.

Some of the things I do to look after my health include:

  • Regular massages
  • Meditating twice daily
  • Taking regular breaks
  • Working only with clients I enjoy
  • Taking time out for my passions and hobbies
  • Making time for my relationships
  • Writing morning pages
  • Writing my daily gratitudes in a journal
  • Looking at and updating my passion journal
  • Switching off from technology
  • Surrounding myself with inspirational people whenever possible
  • Reducing, and at times, eliminating alcohol
  • Eating healthily
  • Tuning into the spiritual realm
  • Spending time in nature
  • Regular silent retreats
  • Eliminating negativity
  • Exercising regularly

It may look like a long list, but in reality, most of these things only take a few minutes and many can be batched. Others, like meditating and going for massages take more time out of my day. But they replenish my energy and allow my mind and heart and spirit to work more effectively.

I’ve been meditating for over 25 years now and love it. And while it can be challenging to find time during busy or stressful periods, it really is the key to boosting creativity, harnessing intuition, building resilience, and creating a calm and happier outlook in general. These are all important factors in maintaining the energy and focus to create and sustain your well-being.

I also remind myself to follow my mantra, “If it’s not fun, I’m NOT doing it!” Sometimes this requires an attitude shift. 

Someone asked me recently what my strategy for handling job stress was. One of my winning strategies is to list all the things that are causing me stress and find a way to minimize their impact. For me – the biggest change happened when I took control of my career and planned for my future. That helped me let go of taking everything in my old job so seriously.

If you, or someone you love, is impacted by work stress I have loads more tips – instant access and all for less than the price of coffee:

Mid-Life Career Rescue (The Call For Change: How to change careers, confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you love, before it’s too late Take the stress out of making a change, confirm your best-fit career and move toward your preferred future. Available in print and eBook from Amazon—getBook.at/CareerChange

Work can be your greatest joy

I am continually inspired by my clients. Work is my greatest joy. They inspire me with their courage, their tenacity, their incredible resilience and tremendous ability to open themselves up to me and reveal their vulnerabilities. I love that they come to see me to free themselves of blocks and to plow through obstacles that are holding them back. So many people never seek help. Too many people go it alone or stay stuck.

Many of my clients have said they could do anything if they only knew what it was. Finding the job of your dreams and standing out from the crowd begins with an idea, a dream or a hunch about what you would love to do and why.

However, this is not the way that many of us have been conditioned to think about careers.

Traditional methods used to choose careers like checklists and assessments are being transformed by some creative thinking. If you haven’t listened to my interview on Radio New Zealand, check it out on my media page—we’re discussing this very thing.

As Nick Williams, author of The Work You Were Born To Do, shares in the foreword of my book, Mid-Life Career Rescue, “Too few of us have been bought up to believe that it is possible to make our living doing something we love, that lights our hearts up and stirs our passions. This is what I call the work we were born to do, and is our true work. To find your true work is a great blessing, one of life’s greatest blessings I believe. And to be paid for your work rather than work for pay is one of life’s greatest joys.“

Are you ready to find your greatest joy?

 

Darkness can herald great light

I once counseled a young girl who had been sexually assaulted five years earlier and who had tried to take her life the night before her family called for support.

Not fun. Not fun at all.

At first, I felt overwhelmed by the horror and enormity of what this beautiful soul had suffered. But then inspiration struck—to me inspiration is all about being in spirit. It’s source energy, it’s God essence, it’s a higher vibrational power. It’s love.

I began to think, “How could I help this child rediscover joy? How could I help her feel fun and find laughter again? I drew inspiration from the work of Viktor Frankl, best known for his inspired book, ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’, and also the teachings of Dr. Edith Eger which I discovered in her book, ‘The Choice: Embrace the Possible.’

Both therapists draw upon the life survival lessons gained in the most horrific of places. Auschwitz

In 1944, Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. wrenched from her parents on arrival, she endured unimaginably evil experiences. When Auschwitz was finally liberated, barely alive, she was pulled from a pile of bodies.

But she refused to let the horrors of the Holocaust to break her. She refused to let evil rob her of joy. Instead, in the process of healing herself, she found her purpose.

During her healing, Dr. Eger also discovered the work of Viktor Frankl and he later became her mentor.  Slowly and with great power she learned to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience.

The Choice is her unforgettable story. It shows that hope can flower in the most unlikely places.

Rather than let her painful past destroy her, Edith chose to transform it into a powerful gift. It’s a gift she uses in her work as a therapist to help others heal and to recover from all kinds of hardship.

As Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate writes in the foreword to her book,

The Choice is a gift to humanity.  One of those rare and eternal stories that you don’t want to end and that leaves you forever changed.  Dr. Eger’s life reveals our capacity to transcend even the greatest of horrors and to use that suffering for the benefit of others.  She has found true freedom and forgiveness and shows us how we can as well.”

“Even in hell hope can flower,” her book blurb reminds us.

Dr. Eger’s experiences and those of many other great souls’ who have endured unthinkable hardship provides an empowering message for us all. I am particularly encouraged by Dr. Eger’s belief in, and driving purpose, the knowledge that the greatest wound, can with guidance, herald the greatest joy.

And it is this central message and way of working with clients that I wish to use as my guiding philosophy. For joy, not hatred, fear, vengeance, guilt or shame, is (along with love) the greatest healing power there is.

I am also inspired in my work the performer Lady Gaga who has spoken so openly of her struggles. She was sexually assaulted when she was just nineteen. Check out her emotional speech on surviving sexual assault and mental health—https://youtu.be/14KX7xOJsqE

I am also inspired and encouraged in my work as a self-empowerment author and therapist to help people find joy and purpose by Oprah, who credits her strong sense of spirit as her greatest transformational tool. “Turn your wounds into wisdom,” she says.

I have been very, very lucky not to have been sexually assaulted. But I have escaped many, many attempts—including a man exposing himself to me when I walked to school  when I was around six; a known rapist climbing in my bedroom window when I was a teenager; a stranger breaking into my bedroom; a guy trapping me in his car and masturbating; a man exposing himself to me when I sat on a beach in Wellington; and an Arab man asking me if I would like to “make love in the caves” when I had (naively) accepted his offer to take me into the desert to look at ruins.

A Māori healer and seer once told me that I had a kaitiaki, or guardian angel protecting me. Kaitiaki is a New Zealand term used for the Māori concept of guardianship, for the sky, the sea, and the land.

Following these experiences, no human helped me. Nobody offered a guiding hand. They didn’t even point me in the direction of the mental and emotional healing I so desperately needed. It wasn’t until I trained to become a counsellor in my thirties that I finally received the help I needed. I had learned to suppress these memories.

But spirit helped me. Spirit protected me.

I remember when the man trapped me in his car—I felt my soul leave my body. I shut down. But then a great power came over me and told me clearly to break out of the car and run for my life. I ran to a house, and he chased me in his car. I knocked on the door and told them what was happening to me. They shut the door in my face. I was a terrified 19-year-old. But I knew I had to survive. So I pretended the people had let me in, and I hid in the bushes instead. I only emerged when I felt ’sure’ that it would be safe enough to walk the long road back to the backpackers where I was staying with a friend.

Everyone encouraged me to go to the police. I was reluctant. I feared judgment and blamed. I wondered if anyone would they believe me. At the time of this experience a young woman, Kirsa Jensen, had also gone missing. She was abducted in broad daylight, in the same city (Napier) that this man had taken me. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/98509935/the-lost-what-happened-to-missing-girl-kirsa-jensen

I wasn’t offered any help, any emotional healing, but the Police were good to me. And I was lucky. They found the man who had exposed himself. But his version of events was very different. He told them I had encouraged him. For me, it was enough that the police knew who he was. I hoped that perhaps by spotlighting his behavior, if he was the man who had taken Kirsa Jenson, that my willingness to tell them what had happened to me might save another.

“Beckon the world to kindness,” says Lady Gaga. “Turn kindness into plutonium and change the world.” It’s a wonderful mantra. Imagine how different people’s lives would be if more people adopted this call to action.

My favourite spiritual tools to reawaken inspiration, healing and kindness

Some of my favourite tools to reawaken inspiration (and healing) lie in the realm of spirituality.

Here are just a few:

  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Morning pages
  • Gratitudes
  • Sobriety
  • Helping others
  • The Akashic Records
  • Creativity
  • Writing
  • Inspiring others

One of my favorite strategies involves oracle cards. And I’m in good company. Coco Chanel and many successful people also turned to the invisible realm for inspiration. I share more about how Coco Chanel used oracles, including Tarot cards, in my book, The Art of Success: Coco Chanel.

As I share in my book, At the time of writing this post I referred to a new deck by Collette Baron-Reid, Postcards from Spirit. It was headed, ‘Your destiny’ today’s card revealed, “Is to be present to all life’s adventures, to discover your talents and full potential through allowing inspiration to lead you, and to risk standing apart from the crowd to listen to your soul.”

These words sparked the idea for this post and to share more of my personal story. Another spark came from a negative review one of my books received on Amazon, “Her story would be more interesting,” the reviewer wrote. I have been toying with a personal memoir for some time, and now (thanks to some unexpected encouragement) I’ve made a start.

I haven’t decided on the title yet. Here are a few ideas I am considering:

Living in this world: A Rational Woman’s Quest to Spiritualize Her Life.”

The Promise: A Rational Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Spirituality.”

Like many, mid-lifers it’s taken a long time, lots of reading and more than a drop of therapy, to shed past conditioning and the stigma of anything ‘woo woo.’’

Here’s a wee draft excerpt and a mock up of a cover

Introduction

2012, the year I truly embarked on my spiritual quest – (qualifying to become a Reiki Teacher) not realizing until many years later auspiciousness of that date, given changes to the Crystalline Grid.

A spiritual journey is an act of discovery. It is not always embraced by all those who you meet on your spiritual path. As Viktor Frankl said, “Those who give light may also be burned.”

That certainly has been my case. Take some of many work experiences where I was persecuted for shedding light on injustices or for doing my job too well—spotlighting others incompetence. 

“You walk the path of jealousy,” psychics have told me. ‘You have suffered many lifetimes of loss and persecution.”

Great I think? Why me? Why do I have this karmic atomic flame that sometimes makes living in their world so painful?

Back in 2012 as I began my spiritual quest. I was tired of feeling life was a constant uphill battle. I reflected on that recent work experience and others like it.

“You have denied for so long who you are that you have forgotten who you are,” wrote Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God.

His words spoke to my spiritual, intuitive self. He spoke to the soul I saw when I looked at photos of myself as a child with my grandmother and cousins—me, the child with the all-seeing eyes. Sometimes I see too much. Named, Cassandra, like my namesake, given the gift of prophecy and not always believed.

Life has taken me on a long journey to reclaim my creative self. Growing up I was never nurtured, never told I was loved. As an adult the dominant message is that I am a disappointment.

“Your thoughts about yourself is that you are not good enough, not wondrous enough, not sinless enough to be part of God, in partnership with God,” wrote Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God.

In 2012, when I began my quest, that phase spoke to me, shouting, ‘Who am I to lay claim to being spiritual?’

“You are spiritual,” Claire, another woman on my Reiki Attunement Course, said to me. I wrote it down and tried to own it. I struggled. I struggle still. But then, I have never liked labels.

Years later, as I write this book, it’s beginning to fit. Like a dress too sizes too large, something you hope to grow into when you grow up, my confidence and self belief and trust in Spirit has expanded.

 

Journal Entry July 2012

The winds of change

The wind raises its throat to the sky and roars. The rain sinks through the clouds and pours. Nothing remains the same, nothing is still. All is impermanent, restless, moving.

Get your essence back, find yourself, stand on your own two strong feet. You may be vilified, chastised, forsaken to the streets, but take comfort, know for evermore, your heart beats. Beats with the passion that infuses your body whole. For you have risen, transformed, discovered your soul.

I awoke in the night, just before midnight to the phone ringing. I pulled it from the wall but sleep won’t come still. So as the wind roars and unleashes its impatience upon stoic trees who refuse to yield, refuse to be swayed from the place, the purpose to which they are rooted, I awake. I am reminded by the following passage from Conversations with God (which I flicked open after initially ‘rejecting’ the call to pick up the book – putting it to one side instead):

“Life will ‘take off’ for you, then, when you chose it to. You have procrastinated, prolonged, protracted, protested. Now it is time that you promulgated and produced what you have been promised. To do this you must believe the promise and live it. You must believe the promise of God…”

I flicked to the page which spoke to me when the phone that rang in the night and was reminded that I can not let the winds of change deter me from my course, I cannot ‘fight’ but must surrender, go with the flow, flex and bend as do trees, and anchor myself to the true me…

…The Buddha within.

 

 

New stuff sparks inspiration

 

If you need to awaken your inspiration, check out this video…

It’s a sneak peek into how I manifested my 2016 goals

Very often inspiration lies at the edge of what we already know. This is something Leonardo da Vinci knew very well. Da Vinci was the ultimate experimenter and he allowed a child-like curiosity to lead. Yet so often we resist embracing the realm of the unknown. Either, that, or we don’t create space in our crammed schedules, distracted instead, by habits that take us nowhere interesting or inspiring.

Recently, a young man in his twenties came to me for anger management counseling. At the heart of his issues was frustration that he hadn’t achieved what he felt he was capable of. That and a ‘time-suck’ habit of substance abuse. He told me he was always getting in his way and struggled to maintain focus.

Amongst other strategies we brain-stormed together, (including kicking his drug habit) I suggested awakening inspiration by keeping a passion journal. I suggested that by keeping clippings and ideas that inspired him it would help create a clarity of vision.

“I don’t do that cutting out kind of stuff,” he said, looking at me as if to say, ‘that sounds babyish.’

“Have you ever tried?” I asked.

“No,” he said, softening a little as realization dawned.

“So how do you know it won’t work?”

He shrugged.

“Would you be willing to experiment?”

“Okay,” he replied.

Another client, who came to me for help moving past entranced feelings of grief, leaped at the idea of creating a Joy Journal. Similarly, a teenager who was feeling fatigued created an Energy Journal. She showed me it the other day and I noticed how her face lit up when she shared with me the images of the people and things that energized her and made her happy. She also added a section with mood foods—things to eat less of and those to eat more off (including drinking more water).

Whatever you call your book of inspiration, the important thing to embrace is a spirit of play.

You’ll find more tips to help you create a passion/joy/energy journal and manifest your dreams and goals easily in my books, The Passion Journal: The Effortless Path to Manifesting Your Love, Life, and Career Goals, Available in ebook and Paperback here—getbook.at/ThePassionJournal. And, if you long to create a business or begin a side hustle, The Passion-Driven Business Planning Journal: The Effortless Path to Manifesting Your Business and Career Goals. Available in ebook and Paperback here—viewBook.at/PassionBusinessJournal.

 

Your vibe tribe

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is always a fantastic and simple way to spark joy, minimize anxiety and boost your inspiration.

The simplest definition of your Vibe Tribe is a group of supportive people that share the same values, beliefs, and aspirations. Sometimes to flourish you need to break free of your current tribe and find one that breathes fresh air into your life, lifts you higher and brings out the best in you.

Recently, for example, I tuned into the Being Boss podcast  https://beingboss.club/podcast. I listened to an awesome interview with Modern Mystic Kelley Knight https://beingboss.club/podcast/episode-197-modern-mystic-kelley-knight±

Check out Episode #196 if you’d love to learn more about using tarot in everyday life—https://beingboss.club/podcast/episode-196-everyday-tarot-biddy-tarot. You may also like #51 Getting Witchy with Carolyn Elliott—https://beingboss.club/podcast/podcast-episode-51-getting-witchy-carolyn-elliott

As you may have noticed, I find huge inspiration from collecting inspiring quotes. I either paste these in my journal and/or keep a file in my computer of inspiring quotes in differing categories. Whenever I need an inspirational boost I turn to these sources for timely reminders.

 

Follow your inspiration

After listening to the podcast I was inspired to know more about the people that Kelley Knight mentioned in her interview and who she was inspired by, one of whom was a Kundalini Yoga teacher Guru Jagat

As a result, and following inspiration when it strikes, I purchased the book,

Invincible Living: The Power of Yoga, The Energy of Breath, and Other Tools for a Radiant Life by Guru Jagat. Guru Jagat, as the time of writing, is the youngest senior Kundalini Yoga teacher in the world and the face of the new Kundalini movement. I love, love, love book and her philosophy.

“There is energy to beauty, a frequency, and it’s inherent in your human birthright to behold it, live it, and embody it.” ~ Guru Jagat

My daughter had also told me the previous day how she had recently discovered Kundalini Yoga and was loving it. Hearing this, and then the ‘go—incidence’ of hearing how Kelley Knight was inspired by Guru Jagat’s classes on her channel, RA MA TV, awakened a desire to learn it too. Said by some to be the “Netflix” of Kundalini Yoga, as a result, I signed up for a $15 monthly subscription to access her classes anytime, anywhere.

In Kundalini Yoga, there is no “beginner’s” or “advanced” yoga set. You can tune in to any class, at any level, and have your own experience. For students looking for a step by step introduction, our Beginners Series focuses on the foundational breaths, postures, and meditations of Kundalini Yoga.”

On the Being Boss podcast, Kelley Knight described the differences between other meditation and yoga modalities how a daily practice of Kundalini Yoga expands her capacity for success.

“It’s meditation heavy. It’s not big on postures. You’ll do the same things for minutes and minutes on end. There’s also of mantras and chanting and mudras*, so it’s a very active meditation. I have a very hard time sitting in silent meditation. When I’m doing Kundalini Meditation, when I’m chanting or touching my fingers, there’s some movement, it helps me go deeper and move my energy. But the main philosophy, I would say, or the main benefit I get from Kundalini Yoga as opposed to other modalities I’ve tried is that it is focused on the aura, and it’s really focused on your electromagnetic field and that’s what makes you radiant and helps you attract success and actually lodge things and programme them in your aura as part of a manifestation practice. So it helps you, the stronger your aura gets the more you can hold and sustain success. It’s a business strategy for me.”

(*A quick search of Google tells me that a mudra is a “gesture that facilitates the flow of energy in the subtle body. Mudras help you draw yourself inward. Each is a symbolic gesture that can stimulate different areas of the brain transmitting an exact goal of channeling energy flow during meditation.”)

The first class was only 3.33 minutes long (or short!) I loved learning how, by using a mantra, it taps into the hypothalamus and boosts brain chemistry, and increases oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ which helps us feel happy. The ‘Tune In’ exercise, the video explains, begins with the mantra Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo. This translates as, “I am the Universal totality, I am a clear teacher for myself, and for others.” It’s a nice affirmation to empower intentions for the day.

It’s the first time I have experienced this kind of mediation, but I love the fact that it uses breath work and sound (and mudras)—rather than pure silence and stillness. Fast forward to around 29 minutes into the Being Boss interview with Kelley Knight for further details about the benefits.

 

Bliss of breath

Recently, I have had the pleasure of experiencing a stunning Bliss of Breath class with Shannon Rose, Breath of Bliss, Breathwork Facilitator. And highly recommend her work—http://byshannonrose.com/. Again, it was an FTE for me (First Time Experience) and I loved it.

Here’s a testimonial from her website,

“I went to Shannon’s breathwork ceremony and the transformative experience cannot even be put into words. It was truly two hours of deep emotional release and connection that has shifted things in me that I’ve been trying to deal with for such a long time. The exercises, the music, Shannon’s guidance was all so perfect, I could not recommend her ceremony any more to absolutely everyone, it is such a beautiful way to come back to feeling like a free and happy person.”

 

Following inspiration also includes reminding myself of the magic of writing and reading and watching movies. As novelist Caroline Gordon once wrote, “A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.”

Recently I came across an excerpt of Liane Moriarty’s new book, Nine Perfect Strangers. The story takes us inside the world of health retreats. Could 10 days of wellness really change your life forever? I’m intrigued…and inspired to read more. Reading the excerpt also reminded me of my love of writing fiction Something I haven’t been doing enough of.

I’ve also just watched Bradley Coopers inspired adaption of A Star is Born, starring himself and Lady Gaga. WOW! Great storytelling with a powerful message to share.  Cooper was on Time’s list of 100 most influential people in the world in 2015, and when you see this movie, his first crack at producing, it’s not hard to see why.

 

Golden moments

Another way I become inspired is by reminding myself of my most inspired times—including places I’ve been and people I’ve met. Like the time I met Zen Buddhist Monk and renown artist Max Gimblett (

http://www.maxgimblett.com/).In 2008 I was thrilled to meet Max Gimblett while he was exhibiting at the Paige Blackie gallery in Wellington. And even more thrilled in September of that year to attend his Sumi painting workshop in Maui, Hawaii. I used the money I won when I was notified that I was the Supreme Winner Wai Art Awards, for my artwork, “Love Stain” – a mixed media triptych to study this beautiful art form with him.

I also felt super inspired and zenned out after receiving my Reiki Master Teacher attunement and having a massage on the beach—at Balian Beach, near Tabanan, Bali. I named this photo my ‘Bliss Super Smile.

 

The flames of inspiration are also ignited when I share wonderful times with those closest to me—like my mom who took me with her to Bali.

 

Other golden moments included traveling with my partner to Sicily for his 50th. and also travelling one year with 12 fabulous photographers to Puglia, Italy to learn photography tips from the uber-inspiring Carla Coulson. definitely refueled my  waning inspiration. You can see some of my photos and  the other inspiration-seeking photographers here—https://carlacoulson.com/they-had-a-dream-and-look-where-it-took-them/

Finally got my panning shot…yay…red Vespa in Bari

I love food photography! Here’s my fig shot!

 

What’s Your Inspiration Plan?

Often when people are feeling stressed they tell me they don’t have enough time to do what they know will make them feel inspired. They tell me that they feel drained, sluggish and lack energy. Rather than default to a time management plan, consider creating a maximizing energy plan.

One of my client’s, who was recovering from serious depression, chose to call hers a sustainable energy plan. Things you may wish to consider including are:

  • What times of the day do you experience your peak mental energy?
  • What time of day is your physical energy at the optimum?
  • What foods give you energy? Which deplete you or only give a short-term benefit?
  • What people and situations give you energy? Which deplete your energy?

Plan to make changes to your daily schedule so that your energy flows rather than stagnates. No excuses! All the time in the Universe won’t help you achieve your goals if you’re too run down to achieve them. Manage your energy—and your sanity!

Here’s a brief sample of my new energy plan:

  • I will totally eliminate alcohol consumption for three months and journal how I feel
  • I will stop taking on new projects before I’ve finished current ones
  • I will increase my spiritual practices, including a daily practice of meditation and Kundalini Yoga, and listening to talks by spiritual teachers, and reading their books, to both strengthen and learn new skills.
  • I will rise early and begin my day with a walking meditation
  • I will do less listening to people rant and rage, and more self-care by walking away (respecting their right to express themselves and my right to protect my energy).
  • I will stop procrastinating by releasing my unreasonable demand for perfection and enjoy instead the creative process of alllowing
  • I will do more beckoning the world to kindness and follow the inspiration set by Lady Gaga to  Turn kindness into plutonium and change the world.”
  • I will stop trying to “fix” other people or get them to see and do things our way, instead of accepting them for who they are and accepting their choices
  • I will surrender to spiritual guidance

 

Could you do Christmas sober?

I stopped drinking booze two days before Christmas in 2016. Can you imagine Christmas sober? And New Years, and then the work week, the weekends with friends?

And guess what. I DO NOT miss it one little bit? What made it easier? Getting angry. Angry at the people killed by drunk drivers, angry at the increase in domestic violence and murders, angry at normally placid young men locked in prison for alcohol-related offences—and angry at the lies the booze barons tell to feed people’s addictions and line their own wallets.

Angry, and gutted and sad when Amy Winehouse drank herself to death.

I’m not angry in a negative way, I’m angry in an empowered way. And I’m glad my stand has encouraged my daughter, now in her 20’s, to give booze a break too. Last year she went to see Adele sing in Auckland. I’m gutted she’ll never get to see Amy Winehouse. That nobody will be to see Amy Winehouse—and thousands of other people whose lives are lost to booze.

“The world often continues to allow evil because it isn’t angry enough.” ~ Bede Jarrett.

Are you angry enough to control alcohol before it controls you?

Many people struggle to control alcohol because they’re not motivated by sobriety. But being sober isn’t just about not drinking.

Sobriety is achieved by putting energy and effort toward something you really desire.

Knowing why you want something is just as important as knowing what you want.

Why do you want to control your drinking? To feel better about yourself? To achieve wellbeing goals? Because you’re afraid that your drinking it taking over your body and your life? To inspire others? Because you’re curious that what you’ve been hearing is true—life really is better sober? Or something else?

Here are just a few benefits of achieving sobriety:

• Improved mental health and wellbeing

• Better physical health

• Improved emotional health

• Elevated spiritual health

• Saves money

• Enriches your relationships

• Is an indispensable part of fulfillment

• Energizes you

• Liberates you

• Will change your life and the lives of those who matter most to you

Being sober sounds great, and it is. But the challenge is that so many of us have been brainwashed into believing it’s awesome to be drunk.

 

If you’d like to trial a period of sobriety I write about the life-changing benefits of giving up alcohol in several of my books, including, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, Your Beautiful Mind, and Mind Over Mojitos: How Moderating Your Drinking Can Change Your Life. Sobriety is a superpower—when you detox your mind and body you free your soul.

 

Resilience Is the key to thriving

The key to being inspired and attracting everything we want to is master the art of resilience. As I say in Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, resilient people are flexible, they bend with the winter gales and arc with the summer breeze. When the fury of a hurricane knocks them down, they get back up again— and it’s the getting back up that elevates your bounce.

In the absence of deflation, you become like a magnet for more greatness. This is your attracting power. When you feel good and align with inspired love, your energy radiates a signal to the Universe. Your energy vibrates the clear message that you’re aligned with joy and you’re up for more if it.

We need to be tough in a way that enables us to bounce back from setbacks, get up the next day, and start over again. Resilience is a mental, emotional and spiritual muscle—it’s one we can and must exercise regularly and make stronger.

To be resilient we must learn to set our own standards and have the confidence not to be distracted or disempowered by others who may try to set standards for us.

Resilience can be learned. There is a myriad of resources helping people create greater mental and emotional health, spiritual empowerment and personal strategies like exercise, relaxation, exorcize anger and frustrations and finding the positive.

Sometimes I’m more resilient than other times, and when the balance of power tilts in favor of the negative I amplify my resilience strategies.

It’s not easy to stay inspired, sometimes life is struggle, but a groundswell of research and personal success stories point to resilience as the key to survival.

That’s why I meditate every day, and kick off with my MAGIC mornings routine (meditation, affirmation, goals, inspiration, co-creation). As Tim Ferriss writes in his book, Tool of Titans. “When you win the morning you win the day.”

 

If you’ve lost your mojo, check out this video…

 

Reminding yourself of golden moments can rekindle a spark you thought you have lost, and remind you of things to do to get your mojo back.

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

You might like:

 Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

Four Good Reasons for Starting a Passion Journal

Why Pursuing Your Passion Not Your Pension is The Ultimate Mid-Life Career Change Strategy

6 Things Successful People Do To Become & Stay Motivated & Happy

Why Sobriety is Cool, Sophisticated, and Savvy

How stepping away from your work can boost your mood, reduce anxiety and spark joy

Friday, October 12th, 2018

 

Workaholism is an addiction for many passionate people. Others use overwork to medicate their unhappiness in other areas of their life—most commonly dissatisfaction with their relationships.

When you work slavishly, particularly at something you love, your brain releases chemicals called opiates which create feelings of euphoria. No wonder it’s hard to step away!

Euphoria stems from the Greek word euphoría—the power of enduring easily. But consider what the state of endurance implies. Enduring implies force or strain, or gritting your teeth and bearing it at times. Force or strain with no respite leads to stress, overload, and burnout—robbing you of vital energy and depleting your millionaire mindset.

Many people find when they don’t step away from their work they suffer disillusionment, and things that once filled them with passion, including their current writing projects, no longer fills them with joy. Resentment builds and relationships with family, friends, and colleagues can also suffer.

Working addictively offers a short-term fix, but lasting happiness needs variety and nourishment. Being with family or friends, engaging in a hobby, spending time in nature, learning something new, helping others, or just being solitary will help you avoid burnout, nourish your brain, heart, and soul, improve your judgment, and restore harmony.

To be truly happy and successful, you must be able to be at peace when you are working and when you are at rest.

Leonardo da Vinci would often take breaks from his work to refresh his mind and spirit. While others claimed that he took too long to finish things, he knew the importance of replenishing his focus to maintain a clear perspective.

Here we are still talking about him over 500 years later.

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen,” he once said.

Leonardo also valued sleep, noting in one of his journals that some of his best insights came when his mind was not working.

Even if you love the work that you do, and think your current obsession is the greatest thing since women were allowed to vote, it’s fun to get away from it and have objective-free time to unwind and reset.

One of my author friends shared recently how she was feeling totally overwhelmed and close to burnout. To sustain her life, and her career, she’s promising herself a reward for all her long hours—three-months off over winter. She’s planning to go on a retreat, somewhere warm, maybe the Bahamas or Mexico.

“The whole point of living life is to enjoy it, right?! I’m coming to grips with that mindset,” she wrote to me.

Schedule time out—and be firm with yourself. Stay away from anything that feeds your addiction.

When you return to your work, your focus will be surer, your vision refreshed, and your confidence bolder.

 

Rest

When your stress levels are high and you get depressed, angry, tense, and lethargic, or begin to experience tension headaches, it should be a very simple biofeedback signal that you need to stop, re-evaluate your choices and take some time out.

Sometimes this can be easier said than done. In our overachiever, overstimulated society, where many people spend more hours every week with their eyes riveted to their iPhone, instead of spending quality time on their own or with family and friends, the whole concept of stopping and resting to restore ourselves seems unusual. But resting to replenish is essential to well-being.

We’re pushing ourselves all day long with energy that we don’t have. The most common complaint people take to the doctor is fatigue. Research conducted by a company helping people suffering from adrenal fatigue claims that 80% of people don’t have as much energy as they’d like to have.

“It’s because we’re pushing and using caffeine, sugar and energy drinks and nicotine and stress for energy rather than running on our own energy.”

Long-term stress and long-term cortisol will literally alter a person’s hormonal profile.

Rest allows the adrenal glands to restore, enabling cortisol levels to return to normal. Long-term stress and long-term cortisol overload can lead to adrenal fatigue and burn-out, altering your hormonal profile, changing your personality, and making it more difficult to return to the real, inspired, happy and creative you.

Give yourself permission to take time every day and every week to have fun, rest your mind and rest your body.

 

Get outside

It’s hard to feel fantastic when you’re suffering from low mood. Very often a lack of outside time is the culprit. You’re like a flower—you need at least 20 minutes of sunlight every day just to make your hormones work effectively and enable you to blossom to your fullest potential.

To feel and behave normally you need to be exposed to full-spectrum daylight on a regular basis. Medical research suggests some people need as much as two hours a day of sunlight to avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Combine outside time with exercise like walking and not only will you get the light you need, but you’ll also recharge your batteries.

Walking outside can also help you gain a new perspective on a troubling situation. When you for a walk, you increase the electrical activity in your brain, and you breathe negative ions and see three-dimensionally.

All this helps you see with fresh eyes the things which are worrying you. Often you’ll find that things are not as bad as they first appear, or discover a relatively simple solution.

Monitor how much time you spend indoors. Bounce away from habits that so many people have, like spending too many hours inside in front of two-dimensional computer monitors and TV screens, and then topping off a 12-hour day at work by trying to read themselves to sleep on their Kindle. These are all two-dimensional visual activities, which seldom spark joy.

Let mother earth, the sea, and the infinite sky boost your mood. Get outside and allow the sun and outside energy to lift your spirits. Schedule regular fresh air time. Improve your breathing, and take a brisk walk to increase your oxygen levels.

My friend Jim from negativeionizers.net has recently written a detailed article on negative ion benefits for your health here https://negativeionizers.net/negative-ions-benefits. If you’d like to see what a good ionizer looks like then check this detailed review of the best 3 negative ionizers that Jim has found on Amazon for 2018.

If you are interested in reading more about how to boost your happiness, overcome obstacles, and elevate your success you may enjoy reading Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Cassandra Gaisford, available for preview or purchase heremyBook.to/Bounce.

High Sobriety: Changing Our Relationship With Alcohol

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

‘An ugly statue sits where your spirit should be.”

~Rumi

 

Do you know what the hottest trend in the social scene is at the moment—sobriety! Yes, folks, Sobriety is the new black. But some habitual drinkers are skeptical—others tragically, sometimes fatally, addicted. Many people struggle to control alcohol because they’re not motivated by sobriety. But being sober isn’t just about not drinking.

Sobriety is achieved by putting energy and effort toward something you really desire.

Knowing why you want something is just as important as knowing what you want.

Why do you want to control your drinking? To feel better about yourself? To achieve wellbeing goals? Because you’re afraid that drinking alcohol is taking over you and your life? To inspire others? Because you’re curious that what you’ve been hearing is true—life really is better sober? Or something else?

I explore ways to help you discover your driving purpose in my self-empowerment books, but first here are just a few of the many benefits of achieving sobriety:

  • Improved mental health and wellbeing
  • Better physical health
  • Improved emotional health
  • Elevated spiritual health
  • Saves money
  • Enriches your relationships
  • Is an indispensable part of fulfillment
  • Energizes you
  • Liberates you
  • Will change your life and the lives of those who matter most to you
  • Higher vibration and an increased connection to your higher soul self

 

Being sober sounds great, and it is. But the challenge is that so many of us have been brainwashed into believing it’s awesome to be drunk. As I share in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, many of the people we look up to, including writers, singers, and even our political leaders have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol—no wonder it’s hard to control our drinking or implement laws aimed at reducing alcohol harm.

But if it’s cool to be high, why do so many of us want to quit? Why do thousands of people sign on for Dry July or make New Year’s resolutions to lose the booze only to be coerced or bullied into drinking again?

Giving up drinking can feel like losing your best friend, even your lover—until you remind yourself how alcohol is a  fickle companion who lets you down again and again.

Sobriety, now there’s a forever friend.

She won’t turn sour, she won’t piss you off, or get mad at you, and she won’t rob you blind. Sobriety won’t hijack your brain and make you say and do things you’ll wildly regret in the wake of hangover hell.

Sobriety is not seedy or unpleasant. Sobriety is a sophisticated, serene, stabilizer in a world gone mad.

And, sobriety doesn’t always mean giving up booze for good.

 

Sober

1. Synonyms

2. Not drunk

3. Thoughtful, steady, down-to-earth and level-headed

4. Serene, earnest

5. Not addicted

 

Thoughtful, serene, earnest—dependable—who doesn’t want a friend like that?

Sadly, the opposite is also true. Some of my best, most trusted friends turn into tyrants, either at the time of drinking or in the days that follow. These are just a few of the changes I notice when they drink alcohol:

• Overly critical

• Short-tempered

• Tyrannical

• Moody

• Solemn

• Angry

• Silent

• Withdrawn

 

Unlike alcohol-drenched friends, sober friends can be trusted.

 

Alcohol Unmasked

Do you know what’s in your drink? Booze barons do such a great job of disguising alcohol that many people don’t know what it really is.

Alcohol is ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, and is a flammable, colorless chemical compound. Yes, folks, everything can really go up in flames when you drink.

I fondly remember Christmases spent at my grandmother’s and the excitement we all felt when a match was held against the rum-soaked Christmas pudding and it burst into plumes of fire.

For some reason, until researching my books, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, and Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol I never made the connection that booze was a flammable substance I poured down my throat.

Ethanol is also used in some countries instead of gasoline in cars and other engines. In Brazil, for example, ethanol fuel made from sugar cane provides 18 percent of the country’s fuel for cars.

In short, the alcohol or ethanol found in your favorite beer, wine, and spirits is a poison, masquerading as a happy drink. It’s so toxic that, when consumed too quickly or in huge quantities, your body’s default position is to expel it—usually in a totally unglamorous technicolor spray of vomit.  That’s if you’re lucky.

Alcohol poisoning can, and does, cause death—both directly and indirectly through liver disease, breast cancer, and a staggering amount of other alcohol-related diseases. We’ll explore the havoc caused by booze, as well as how sobriety leads to nirvana in the chapter, Health Havoc or Health Nirvana?

Yet, despite all the risks and dire health warnings, alcohol seems such a benign substance. Perhaps it’s the allure of its origins—a uniquely natural process.

Alcohol is formed when oxygen deprived yeast ferments natural sugars found in fruits, grains, and other substances. For example, wine is made from the sugar in grapes, beer from the sugar in malted barley, cider from the sugar in apples, and most vodka from the sugar in fermented grains such as sorghum, corn, rice, rye or wheat (though you can also use potatoes, fruits or even just sugar.)

Many people use alcohol as a way to self-medicate their way through life’s ups and downs. Peer into the history of alcohol and you’ll find that its medical origins enjoy a good pedigree. Gin mixed with tonic containing quinine, for example, was historically used to treat malaria.

 

“So it’s totally good for you,” writes one enthusiastic supporter in an alcohol forum.

Yeah, if you’ve got malaria perhaps, but not if you’re just sick and dog-tired of living.

Alcohol is classed as a ‘sedative hypnotic’ drug. That definition on its own may sound just like what you’re craving until you discover the true impact. Sedative-hypnotic drugs depress the central nervous system (CNS) at high doses.

Hmmm, that doesn’t sound so flash, especially if you’re prone to knocking back a few too many drinks. Your central nervous system controls a majority holding of the key functions of your body and mind. The CNS consists of two parts: your brain and your spinal cord.

As you know, the brain is the chief conductor of your thoughts, interpreting your external environment, and coordinating body movement and function, both consciously and unconsciously. Complex functions, including how you think and feel, and maintaining homeostasis, a relatively stable balance between all the interdependent elements in your body, are directly attributable to different parts of your brain.

Your spinal cord with its network of sensitive nerves acts as a conduit for signals between the brain and the rest of the body.

You definitely don’t want to mess with the way this important duo functions. But every time you ingest alcohol you do, weakening their ability to perform like virtuosos, interfering with maintaining a healthy balance and the finely tuned harmony which is so vital to your health, performance, and effectiveness, and causing all systems in your body to play horribly off key.

Would you love to possess an outstanding ability in your field? Excel in your chosen profession? Tap into higher knowledge? Hone a much-loved or admired skill? Be universally admired? Many people think alcohol aids the fulfillment of these desires—until they realize their beliefs were deceptively wrong.

Sobriety on the other hand… now there’s a different story.

 

It’s not all bad, right?

At lower doses, alcohol can act as a stimulant inducing feelings of euphoria, optimism, and gregariousness. Everything looks beautiful, your belief in yourself, your talents, and your ability elevates like a seductive piece of music. Your inhibitions float away, suddenly you imagine yourself to be far better than you really feel. Shyness disappears, in its place talkativeness.

For a little while.

But pour more and more drinks down your throat,  knock back liters of your favorite elixir and you’ll quickly find yourself confronted by the truth. Alcohol is trouble. I talk more about this (as well as the joys of sobriety) in my interview with Melinda Hammond—https://writerontheroad.com/128-name-poison-writers-alcohol-creative-muse-cassandra-gaisford/

Quite simply, alcohol knocks the life out of you. The more you drink, the higher the likelihood you’ll become drowsy. Recall the drunk in the corner, slouched against the wall, or the once vivacious life of the party, barely able to hold her head in her hands, as she sits slumped at the bar. I’ve been there—it’s a predictable rite of passage. In a culture that values drinking, this is normal.

Normal but definitely not glamorous, hip or cool.

But things get worse. Sometimes much, worse. Your breathing naturally slows into a state called respiratory depression. It can become exceedingly shallow or worse, stop entirely—what’s truly frightening is you have absolutely no control. No one chooses to fall into an alcohol-fuelled coma, but this is exactly what happens to far too many people.

Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shut down critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, resulting in death. And, tragically, far too many beautiful people needlessly die this way.

Can I scare you sober? It’s not my agenda, but I do know this—that’s exactly what happened to Amy Winehouse. And it’s exactly what’s happened to a great many other talented, beautiful, smart people. People who only wanted to feel high, but never intended to die.

As well as its acute and potentially lethal sedative effects at high doses, alcohol undermines every organ in the body and these effects depend on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over time.

We’ll examine the dangers of drinking both large and small alcoholic beverages over a short period of time in the chapter, Binge Drinking Blindness.

We’ll also dive deeper into what constitutes safe drinking, including analyzing what constitutes a standard drink and why health authorities want you to control your drinking—assuming you don’t want to kick the alcohol habit for good.

But first, let’s stop to consider, how natural is alcohol really?

 

What’s Hidden in Your Drink?

Ethanol made be created via a naturally occurring process, but that’s not the end of the production cycle. The other thing to be mindful of is all the other hidden dangers lurking in your drinks.

Peer a little closer and you’ll find all sorts of nasty additives—not to mention toxic sprays, pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers and other things that infiltrate many crops. But you won’t find many of these disclosed on the labels.

Sorry to spoil the party.

Health gurus cite dangerous levels of sulfites or sulphites (as it’s spelled in New Zealand) and warn of harmful side-effects, particularly for those with a low tolerance.

The term sulfites is an inclusive term for sulfur dioxide (SO2), a preservative that’s widely used in winemaking (and most food industries) for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. SO2 plays an important role in preventing oxidization and maintaining a wine’s freshness. When used in high levels, because it’s considered harmful, it must legally be disclosed on product labels.

To be fair, many foods also contain sulfites. Some people claim the preservative is nothing to be alarmed by—unless of course, you include yourself in the numbers of people who are allergic. Sulfites cause bloating and itching in sulfite-sensitive people. Does your beloved have a beer gut or sulphite bloating?

Histamine High?

Some studies suggest sulfites and other additives, including compounds such as histamines and tannins, are connected to the pounding headaches many of us suffer after drinking. That, and our ballooning weight.

Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne, and beer are histamine-rich.

As the author and psychologist Doreen Virtue explains in her excellent book, Don’t Let Anything Dull Your Sparkle, many people binge drink when stressed, but most don’t realize that some of the excess weight may be attributed to stress-hormones and neurotransmitter responses. These biochemicals, Virtue says, are triggered by the fact when you’re stressed you often binge on food and drinks to which you may unknowingly be allergic to, or which are intrinsically unhealthy.

As I’ve mentioned, any product that undergoes fermentation contains high levels of histamine. What I didn’t know was that these histamines trigger allergic reactions in our body, especially if we’re under a lot of stress.

Histamines get you both ways, not only occurring in the food and alcohol you drink but also because when you’re allergic to something your body releases its own histamine, says Virtue. “Stress produces histamine. We’re all naturally allergic to stress,” she says.

When you consume a diet that’s high in histamine or histamine-inducing foods, your body becomes overwhelmed. Add a stressful lifestyle to the mix and it’s no wonder you feel less than perky.

Histamines are also manufactured and released by our bodies not only when we’re stressed but also when we’re dehydrated. Again, alcohol, because it magnifies dehydration, makes things worse.

Virtue explains, “The trouble is that histamine produces uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, itchy skin, profuse sweating, hot flashes, runny or stuffy nose, and feeling cold all the time, as well as low blood pressure, arrhythmia, anxiety, and depression.”

Nice.

No wonder, we start to look and feel better when we lose the booze.

Other addictive beverages, like coffee and sugar-laden drinks, also trigger histamine reactions. The net result is a ‘histamine high.’ This boosted energy and elation you experience is always short-lived and is always followed by an energy crash, plus other painful symptoms discussed above.

Before publishing her findings Virtue decided to test her theory and embark on a 30-day histamine-free diet.

“Within two days of going ‘low-histamine,’ I felt a youthful energy and exuberance that I had never experienced before. I felt well. I felt happy. And I knew it was due to the low-histamine diet… you cannot return to the old ways of bingeing upon histamine once you realize the process behind these binges.”

Sugar Rush Anyone?

Submerged in many alcoholic drinks are dangerous and highly addictive levels of sugar. Research collated in a New York Times article stated, “Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine.”   

Latest research revealed in The New Zealand Listener in 2018 reveals the physiological and neurological reasons your brain makes you crave sugar.  I share some of these findings in the chapter Sweet Misery. It’s only since researching and writing this book that I realized I was more addicted to sugar than alcohol.

Whew! That’s a relief. But it’s also not—because both are tough habits to crack. Tough, but not impossible. Knowledge is power, right?

In summary, not only is alcohol a highly addictive poison, but your cravings, your weight gain, low energy levels and less-than-optimal mental and emotional health may be fuelled as much by additives and sugar, as it is ethanol or alcohol itself.

You can heal your life and it begins with examining the facts. Consider becoming an amateur sleuth and adopting the role of an investigative journalist. Discover how alcohol is made, including all the artificial things that are added to many products to make it tastier and more alluring—and potentially more dangerous to your health.

Perhaps this may be all the motivation you need to develop a healthy intolerance for alcohol.

Is Your Drinking a Problem?

“Not everyone who has a drinking problem will be able to see it,” says recovering alcoholic and author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol, Anne Dowsett-Johnston.

Perhaps you’re read what a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald refers to as a ‘grey-area drinker’ – neither a falling over-over drunk, but nor is your relationship with booze healthy.

Is your drinking already cause for concern? How do you know if you have a real problem, versus a temporary itch that you’re using alcohol to scratch?

“If you want to know if you’re getting into trouble, ask yourself … are you drinking to numb? To numb feelings, to numb stress, to numb depression or anxiety?’” Dowsett Johnston says.

Alcohol makes us love life, we’re told. If this is true, why aren’t we a happier lot? Burnout, stress, anxiety have become worldwide epidemics—and with them alcohol and food addictions. We’re either eating or drinking our way to happiness—or both.

Granted, not everyone has a problem with alcohol. Some people say there are four types of drinkers:

• Light or non

• Weekend-non binge

• Weekend drinkers who get drunk

• Heavy drinkers where every night is party night

The problem with those in the latter two categories may not be the booze, but maladaptive attempts to mask the causal factors.

Addictions and consistent alcohol abuse, in particular, are essentially attempts to escape pain. The nature and causal factors of this pain and the scale of dependency will vary in specifics and severity from person to person. It could be the pain of not fitting in, the pain of boredom, or the pain of deep, unresolved trauma.

We all suffer painful experiences—but not everyone has learned to cope in a way that promotes, not depletes emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well-being, health and happiness.

Instead, too often developing and becoming dependent on unhealthy coping techniques becomes the norm—a norm that creates even more problems.

“Alcohol abuse can lead to major health problems—and can affect your ability to learn and function well.” says neuroscientist Dr. Susan Tapert.

 

If you’re going to successfully kick or modify the drink habit you’ll need some pretty compelling reasons to sustain your decision.

Many of us have bought into the cultural myth that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol makes us happy, cool, popular. But what if the opposite is also true? What if everything you have been told is a lie?

The truth about alcohol is that it is a highly addictive poison. Some people can handle it, but millions of people can’t. There’s no shame in admitting alcohol has you by its tail.

Booze impacts people differently. Your weight, height, the water composition in your body, your social group, unresolved traumas, and a whole host of other interesting factors all impact how quickly and how often you drink.

Do you truly know how it impacts you?

Do you become depressed or teary—sharing your tales of sadness, or wailing songs of melancholy,  with anyone close enough to hear?

Perhaps alcohol gives you the confidence boost you lack or dulls the thunder of social anxiety.

Do you become gregarious, hyper-friendly—willing and ready to go to bed with anybody?

Perhaps you become impulsive—driving recklessly at great speed or daring yourself to achieve impossible physical feats, like diving through the air or surfing dangerously across a crowd of strangers.

Or does alcohol summon forth the warrior, the mutinous murderer or the vengeful vixon? Under the influence do you harm the ones you love? As you’ve read, even good people are capable of unfathomable brutality and even murder.

“There is no inexplicable defect in our personalities, no elusive flaw in our bodies. Alcohol is simply a highly addictive drug,” writes Annie Gracie in her book This Naked Mind. “We find it hard to accept that we are all drinking the same addictive poison.

Alcohol weaves an often unpredictable, yet foreseeable path of harm in us all. Individual differences in brain chemistry, lifestyle choices, stress levels, upbringing, peer pressure, group-think and other factors trigger impulsivity, aggression, depression, and other emotional, cognitive and behavioral changes—all of which are seemingly beyond our control.

Alcohol changes who you are. These changes are hard, but not impossible, to predict.

“Anyone of us could be here,” a prison-officer once told me while I was working in the bowels of a maximum-security prison. “Take Hemi,” he says, gesturing to a young, good-looking guy aged eighteen, now in jail for life.  “He got pissed, got into a fight and the guy wound up dead.”

Yep, I know that story well.  I also know intimately the wide and bewildering range of effects triggered by alcohol abuse. Winding up in bed with strangers, euphoria which turns to dread, closeness that turns to rage, and feeling I no longer wanted to live—truly believing how peaceful it would be to throw myself from a cliff and fly through the sky. To die. I also know that’s the demmon of alochol talking – weakening my inhibitions and stoking the fantasy of relief from pain.

 

Take a moment and make a list of everything drinking steals or has stolen from you.

Here are a few areas to consider:

• Harmonious relationships?

• Happiness?

• Career success?

• Custody of your children?

• Liberty and freedom?

• Security and safety?

• Sanity and peace of mind?

• Health and well-being?

• Your waistline?

• Money?

• Or something else?

 

For example, many people have either perpetuated or experienced domestic violence, been hospitalized, lost custody of their children, derailed a much-loved career, destroyed their most important relationships, suffered from an inoperable disease caused by alcohol abuse, nearly died—or did.

Recent prison statistics reported in the New Zealand Herald revealed that over 54% of offenders have addiction issues, with 53 percent of women and 15 percent of men have experienced sexual assault. Dig deeper and it’s not hard to see alcohols role.

 

Controlling Alcohol and the Triggers that Compel You to Drink Takes Vigilance

‘There’s so much marketing about alcohol, but I can’t see any signs warning people of alcohol harm,” I said to the woman at my local electorate office.

“They’re silent,” she said.

“They don’t exist,” I replied.

It makes you wonder. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Why?

 

Why is that you can’t escape the continual barrage of marketing messages inviting you to drink? Could it be there so much money spent on reactively fixing alcohol fall out and none left for proactive health initiatives—including education?

But you can right the imbalance and become more mindful of alcohol harm.

People who go to AA meetings, or other sobriety meet-ups, are continually reminded of how alcohol has no place in their life.

Many people who successfully control alcohol find other ways to remain vigilant.  For example, I counteract all the positive messages the booze barons and happy drunks spin about the wonders of booze by constantly reminding myself of the negative aspects of drinking.

I also remind myself that alcohol is a poison dressed up as lolly water, that it’s a neurotoxin, and that it makes me feel flat, discouraged and depressed. Affirming the negative is a simple way to counteract and rebalance the positive marketing spin.

As I shared in the opening of this book, keeping a Sobriety Journal is one of many strategies I share in this book, which works for me.

When I first created my Sobriety Journal I brainstormed and bullet-pointed some of the areas in which my excessive drinking was becoming problematic, personally and professionally.

As you read through this list give some thought to your own experiences.

 

Negative Physical Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Depression

Anxiety

Blackouts

Despondency

Cognitive impairments

Memory loss

Fearing for my safety

Negative Financial Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Reduced savings

Sucked away money that could be used to repay debt or diverted for a massage, flowers, beauty

Reduced productivity and work effectiveness

Diminished creativity that I can pour into money-making endeavors and things that spark joy

 

Negative Emotional Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Depression

Anxiety

Aggression—arguments with my partner

feeling blah

fear—especially when around other drunk people

Loss of confidence and self-esteem

 

Negative Spiritual Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Lower vibration

Dark Energies

Harmful spirits

Aggression

Shift from essence

Lack of mindfulness

Dis-ease

Disconnection from source energy

Reduced intuition

 

Negative Physical Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Aging

Weight-gain

Stress

Overload on liver

Increased likelihood of cancer—8 percent increase in risk for every standard drink you have

Ugliness—red eyes, pallid skin, bloating

Insomnia

Nutrient loss

Depletes almost every vitamin your body needs

Headaches

Eyestrain

 

Negative Relationship Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Increased arguments

Emotional distance and disconnection

Operating on different wavelengths

Breakdowns and meltdowns

Anger

Fear

Loss of love

Loss of respect

Neglect

 

I didn’t need a textbook or neuroscientist to warn me about alcohol harm, although further research illuminated the side-effects. But I did find it helpful to bring more mindfulness to the negative impact drinking was having on all aspects of my life.

As Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote (also in my Sobriety Journal): “Sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”

Dr. Candace Pert, formerly the chief of brain biochemistry at the National Institutes of Health in the US, revolutionized her field by discovering that emotions create biochemical compounds called peptides that serve as messengers in the brain; her team’s work won the prestigious Albert Lasker Award, which is often a precursor to the Nobel Prize.

She urges us to honor all our feelings and look for the insight and hope of healing emotions provide. “When we don’t admit to or accept responsibility for these less comfortable emotions, they can be more dangerous,” she says

Take a moment and consider what alcohol steals or has stolen from you. Does this change how you perceive alcohol and addiction? Be grateful for the teaching.

Let’s Talk Numbers

How much is too much?

Your liver can only process a certain amount of alcohol per hour, which for an average person is around one standard drink.

Yes, but what is a standard drink? Is there even such a thing as a standard drink. Apparently not! Different countries set the bar lower and higher when it comes to determining the safest amount of alcohol to drink per hour.

Some experts say that the international guidelines for alcohol consumption are so confusing it’s no wonder people drink too much.

Scientists who studied drinking advice around the world concluded that there is a “substantial” risk of misunderstanding.

And it’s not surprising. One study found that the measurements of the amount of alcohol in a ‘standard drink’ ranged from 8 grams to 20 grams.

An article by the Daily Mail Newspaper in the UK reported the following anomaly, “In the most conservative countries, “low-risk” consumption meant drinking no more than 10g of alcohol per day for women and 20g for men. But in Chile, a person can down 56g of alcohol per day, the equivalent of three pints, and still be considered a low-risk drinker.”

 

Here’s the current Australian and New Zealand definition: “a standard drink is any drink containing 10 grams of alcohol. One standard drink always contains the same amount of alcohol regardless of container size or alcohol type, that is beer, wine, or spirit. A standard drink is a unit of measurement.”

Thankfully, in New Zealand, you no longer have to have a mathematics degree or a scientific calculator to work out what constitutes a standard drink. It’s now compulsory to clearly state how many standard drinks and how much alcohol per volume is contained in each product.

In the UK, at least at the time of writing, they’re still talking units. A unit is the measure of the amount of alcohol in a drink.

One UK unit is 10ml (8g) of pure alcohol and a typical pint of ale contains one or two units (20ml or 16g), while a glass of wine can contain anything from around one and a half to three units. This depends on the size of the glass and the strength of the wine.

Recently the UK changed its health guidelines to say that men should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week, the same as the limit for women. The previous guidelines were a whopping 21 units for men and 14 units for women per week.

The reason for the shift? The rising cost of healthcare stemming from alcohol-related disease is causing concern. In fact, alcohol is a major cause of the 25% increase in deaths from liver disease in the UK over the last decade. And figures show victims of liver disease are getting younger.

Many drinks now show the strength, measured as ‘alcohol by volume’ or ABV, on the label alongside the number of units.

Alternatively, people can calculate the number of units in their drink by multiplying the amount in milliliters (ml) by the strength (ABV) and dividing the result by 1,000, or by using a unit calculator.

Sounds complicated, and let’s face it, people are rarely that regimented to consume one drink an hour, let alone calculate how much is safe to drink.

If the liver can only process one unit of alcohol per hour what happens to all that excess alcohol?

 

The quicker you drink, the drunker you get

 

If over the course of one hour you consume two bottles of beer, that’s a whole lot of excess blood alcohol in your system—especially if you’re partial to one of the craft beers which can equal close to 3 standard drinks per bottle.

Because alcohol is a poison which your body can’t eliminate, your liver has the challenging task of processing it so we can eliminate it from your system. It’s a big job and it takes time—an hour to get rid of only 10 mls.

It’s a dangerous job too, with considerable health implications. When alcohol reaches the liver, it produces a toxic enzyme called acetaldehyde (as though poisonous ethanol wasn’t enough for it to handle).  Acetaldehyde can damage liver cells and cause permanent scarring, as well as harm your brain and stomach lining.

If you’ve upped the recommended safe quota all that unprocessed ethanol will be leaping through the blood-brain barrier and corroding your brain cells directly.

Oops…not good.

Your liver also requires water to do its job effectively. Again, alcohol puts your liver under strain—alcohol acts as a diuretic, thereby dehydrating you and forcing your liver to rob water from other sources.

The severe dehydration is part of the reason why, after a big night of drinking you can wake up nursing a crippling headache.

Regular or heavy drinking over time can disrupt the way alcohol is metabolized within the body, which can lead to alcoholic liver disease, along with other unhealthy side-effects.

In short, all that excess alcohol zooms in fast laps around your body, jumping the blood-brain barrier, again and again, impacting your blood-alcohol levels, which in turn impacts all the systems in your body— your physical coordination, your ability to think and speak, and your mood.

Alcohol changes your brain permanently—and not in a good way, either.

Enter the standards—an attempt, and non-too successfully, to encourage people to drink a maximum of one drink per hour. Yeah, right. Sure thing. When has anyone followed rules, particularly those that they have to self-regulate and which stand in the way of their ability to party?

 

Are You Standard?

Blood alcohol content (BAC), also called blood alcohol concentration, blood ethanol concentration, or blood alcohol level is most commonly used as a metric of alcohol intoxication for legal or medical purposes.

However, BAC does not correlate exactly with symptoms of drunkenness and different people have different symptoms even after drinking the same amount of alcohol. The BAC level and every individual’s reaction to alcohol is influenced by:

• The ability of the liver to metabolize alcohol (which varies due to genetic differences in the liver enzymes that break down alcohol).

• The presence or absence of food in the stomach (food dilutes the alcohol and dramatically slows its absorption into the bloodstream by preventing it from passing quickly into the small intestine)

• The concentration of alcohol in the beverage (highly concentrated beverages such as spirits are more quickly absorbed)

• How quickly alcohol is consumed.

• Body type (heavier and more muscular people have more fat and muscle to absorb the alcohol)

• Age, sex, ethnicity (eg, women have a higher BAC after drinking the same amount of alcohol than men due to differences in metabolism and absorption—since men have on average, more fluid in their body to distribute alcohol around than women do, some ethnic groups have different levels of a liver enzyme responsible for the break-down of alcohol)

• How frequently a person drinks alcohol (someone who drinks often can tolerate the sedating effects of alcohol more than someone who does not drink regularly).

Be Aware. Not All Drinks Are Created Equal

They make look the same, but they most definitely aren’t the same.

A tiny increase in strength in the percentage of alcohol can make a massive impact on intoxication. As a rule, if you want to drink safely, go slow and go low. Stay informed—be sure to check the labels

Take a closer look at this article which explains why a 5% beer can make you twice as drunk as a 4% version—http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3209119/Why-5-beer-make-TWICE-drunk-4-version-Calculations-reveal-tiny-increase-strength-big-impact-intoxication.html#ixzz4dPWZYzFv

Familiarize yourself with a standard drink: it’s probably not as much as you think.

I know I got a heck of a fright when I was invited at random to participate in a survey by Otago University. One of the questions in The Alcohol in New Zealand Communities Survey was, “How often have you had 6 or more standard drinks in one occasion in the last 12 months?” I was shocked to tick the highest category, “Six of seven times a week.”

Cripes, I was bingeing and didn’t even realize it. That’s how insidious alcohol is.

Know your limit. Monitor your BAC level, understand your reaction to alcohol, and how to influence it. Check out the documentary The Truth About Alcohol in the further resources section, and join British emergency room doctor Javid Abdelmoneim, and other experts, as they explore the benefits, risks, and science of drinking. If you’re determined to drink, you also discover ways to lessen the impact of alcohol.

While we’re talking numbers, did you know alcohol is a known health antagonist and a causal factor in more than 60 adverse health conditions? Would you rather not know? Skip the chapter Health Havoc if you prefer to be kept in the dark.

 

Are You Worried about your drinking?

I’ll discuss some of my strategies for living in a booze-soaked world, including how I keep my energy and vibration levels high and don’t allow alcohol or other peoples destructive relationship with alcohol to dull my sparkle, throughout this book.

One simple strategy I do find helpful, however, is to pin inspiring quotes somewhere visible to remind me to censure the tendency to demand others change or to judge.

Letting go of judgment creates peace, strength, and ultimately increases joy. Becoming judgment-free and leading by example is also one of the key sobriety steps recommended by many successful addiction programs. This includes self-judgment and self-criticism.

My current go-to quote is by Abraham Hicks, “Let others vibrate how they vibrate and want the best for them. Never mind how they’re flowing to you. You concentrate on how you’re flowing because one who is connected to the energy stream is more powerful, more influential than a million who are not.”

I also invite love, not fear or anger to guide my day. I’m not saying it’s easy—if it were the world would be a happier place. I work to remember how my loved ones are when they’re sober—how kind they are, how caring. This love extends to me too. I know I’m a nicer, kinder person sober than I am drunk.

Exercising self-love means, however, accepting that sometimes there comes a time when being around people who abuse alcohol becomes too toxic. Their drinking may undermine your health, threaten your resolve, or cause you to constantly fear for your life.  There are times you may have to quit not only the booze but people, places, and relationships that hold you back.

Finding joy in sobriety is a lifestyle choice—a very personal, and very empowered and empowering choice. It’s a choice you make eyes wide open, determined to celebrate and make the most of your one precious life in every way.

Humor, as you’ll also discover, goes a long way.

 

This man is giving birth to a six-pack…‘Father and beers are doing swell.’

It’s a picture I drew in my Sobriety Journal in part, to remind me how staying sober improves my waistline.

Call it like it is….would you like a shot of ethanol and a gallon of sugar with that?

Our soul, basically creative in nature, also longs to find self-expression. Creative expression and communicating what you truly feel is one of our greatest joys and freedoms. It is a simple and effective way to inject more happiness into your life without needing drugs, alcohol, or indulging frustration by allowing acts of aggression. 

Creativity in its various guises is also a natural antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression, which explains why art therapy, including writing, is such a potent and popular tool. Pep up your peptides—find a healthy outlet for your emotions. Make finding a way to release all those stuck energies your mission.

Many people say they drink to help them deal with negative feelings and emotions. But fighting fire with fire (remember alcohol is ethanol – a highly flammable liquid) is never going to be a winning strategy. Learning to channel your feelings constructively is.

Journaling and writing morning pages are some of my favorite ways to express any stinky feelings that bog me down in a rut. Writing my self-empowerment books has also been a fantastic and profitable way to share life lessons learned and ignite my passion and purpose. 

A recent example has been writing my book, “Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety – Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life. Writing this book has been healing for myself and others struggling with addiction.  

“I like the content of the book a lot. As an ex-drunk who quit for both mental and physical health reasons, it’s very affirming. I like her comment that she’s yet to meet an ex-drinker who preferred life as a drinker. I think it will appeal to both people who are considering change and people who have made a change to their drinking and want both affirmation and some information so they can explain why to their friends. I like its meandering style (it makes me think of sharing in a group). It’s too good a message to ignore.” ~ Andrew Nicholls 

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, available in print and Ebook here—

Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink 

Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook, and iBooks: https://www.books2read.com/u/bQBLj0

 

“I work with people and their whanau/families on a daily basis who have, have had or have recovered from Alcohol and Other Drug issues.  The damage caused by AOD overuse and abuse is enormous and has ongoing negative effects on our society and future generations mainly due to observation and learned behaviours.  I really like the approach that this book takes in not attempting to stop drinking totally.  It instead explains and coaches how to manage and cope with consuming alcohol so that the damaging effects may be minimised.  This is a very useful supportive book for ‘drinkers’ and their families.  It is a book that is very easy to read and understand.  I really like the quotes, sayings and tools contained therein.  This book is much bigger than just the social and familial issues with alcohol – It is in a very big way about ‘Your Beautiful Mind’.  It fits very well with my style of practice and that is to start with the basics and move onwards and upwards from there. I see in the book an AHA (awakening, honesty, action) moment in the book.  I really get the reference to wisdom (The smart person knows what to say, the wise person knows when to say it) and the associated learning.  I will be recommending this ‘must read’ book to my clients and their whanau/families and anybody else who will listen”.

~ Philipe Eyton, Counsellor, Life and Leadership Coach, BSocP, NZAC (Stud)

 

“One thing that I like about this book is that the author doesn’t trash other recovery programs whether she agrees with them or not.  This approach is very different (and refreshing) from other books I’ve read that claim to be the “real or only solution” which involves tearing down other methods in the process, but as Cassandra’s book alludes—one form of recovery may work for some people and not others—it depends on the person, their physiology, background, life experience, etc. At first, I thought the segments about advertising would be boring but they actually really appealed to the part of me that loves science, facts, and proof.  Reading the explanations led to many “Aha!” moments! I also felt so relieved to read there is a sober/not drinking movement going on. I felt relieved and hopeful. How I wish this was going on when I started my own drinking career in my early teens. I’m feeling so grateful to Cassandra for writing it. There is so much vital information packed into this book and I wish fervently that it ends up on the best seller list!”

Lisa Ruggiero, Amazon 5-Star Review

 

“This is a book for anyone who is struggling with alcohol (or even overeating/comfort eating – it can be used for several addictions) as a way to encourage the reader to look at  their drinking (or other affliction) in a loving way, encouraging the reader to work with their intelligent self, on a loving level, it offers support, (you don’t feel alone), it offers stories of awareness, idea’s for moving beyond the clutches of alcohol and experiencing the joy of living a full, creative, and/or self-loving life.”

~ Catherine Sloan, Counselor

 

“I see people that I would love to give this book recommendation to.  They need this in their lives-a few of who would not consider, they have any problem with alcohol, nor have any desire to stop drinking – but I liked this book because the message is that you take control of how you steer the ship.  You can choose to decrease and manage your drinking or you can choose to omit alcohol altogether from your life.

Alcohol is abused and I know a few young people (18-25yrs) that haven’t a clue of what they’re drinking or the impacts on them physically, mentally or emotionally.  This is huge.  Yet each and every week they are returning to the bottle to find some solace in drinking or in fact getting pissed.

I love the connection Cassandra shares with herself in this book.  The Sobriety Journal she mentions and has created is a fantastic tool – and I would recommend people use conjunction with this book and your own journey- it will do wonders.  It’s a great reflective tool also to go back to down the track, as Cassandra has openly displayed herself.

I am quite surprised myself about the new knowledge I gained from what I read in this book.  And wondered why when I was drinking did I never stop to consider what I was drinking, what my drink was made of and how- never ever!  I can remember thinking, I wonder how many calories are in this beer.  Or how much sugar.  But never looked it up as such, as I didn’t actually want to know at the time.  I was in somewhat of a denial.  I just wanted to consume it anyway.  I quite often was sick on the evening or the next day after a binge.

So this information needs to be shared and is available in this book.  I think that’s fantastic.  It’s not too complex.  At first, I wondered if I would see my younger relatives reading this and relating to it.  And thought, maybe not.  But then when momentum picked up and the diverse realities were seen and heard – I thought it would relate to many soft spots they have and I hopefully allow them to take control of themselves and their drinking.

Loving what I read. I am seeing some home truths and common vulnerabilities which makes this book relatable to many.

~ Jo-Maitera

 

You might like:

 Discover the joy of sobriety. Listen to Cassandra’s interview with Melinda Hammond—https://writerontheroad.com/128-name-poison-writers-alcohol-creative-muse-cassandra-gaisford/

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life: Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

 

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

 

How to conquer the destructive force inside human nature

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

 

Do you have a death wish?

Freud claimed we all do. The Death Wish, he said, is a destructive force inside human nature that shows its face whenever we consider a challenging, long-term course of action that might do for us, or others, something that’s actually good.

Others refer to this as resistance. How many do you recognize as true for you?

• Self-sabotage

• Distraction

• Allowing others to sabotage your success

• Something else that stops you moving forward?

“Speak to your darkest: and most negative interior voices the way a hostage negotiator speaks to a violent psychopath. Calmly, but firmly. Most of all, never back down. You cannot afford to back down: The life you are negotiating to save, after all, is your own,” writes Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat. Pray Love, in her book, Big Magic.

The more important taking action becomes to our personal growth and soul’s evolution, the more resistance we can feel toward committing to it. This is why, so often, we know we’d be better off not having that extra drink, but we have it anyway.

The following activities, most commonly create resistance:

• The launching of any new venture

• Any kind of education and learning of new ways of thinking and being

• The pursuit of any life purpose or calling

• Any act that requires devotion or total commitment

• Taking a stand in the face of setbacks or adversity

• Any acts of courage, including the decision to change for the better some negative habit or toxic pattern or thought or behavior in ourselves

 

Take heart—resistance is normal! While you may have your work cut out for you, resistance, rather than being a personal failing, is a normal part of the change process. And you can beat it!

 

Tug of War

Have you ever held two magnets in your hands, holding them close but not touching? You’ll know then, the energy it takes to keep them apart. Resistance works in the same way. To resist is to struggle, or fight against something you are drawn to be or do. Think of it as a war—a war against your heart. A war against yourself.

A magnet creates an invisible area of magnetism all around it called a magnetic field. Your heart is your body’s most powerful magnet. The heart, like the brain, generates a powerful electromagnetic field, McCraty explains in The Energetic Heart. “The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body. The electrical field as measured in an electrocardiogram (ECG) is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the brain waves recorded in an electroencephalogram (EEG).”

Numerous studies by the HeartMath Institute show this powerful electromagnetic field can be detected and measured several feet away from a person’s body and between two individuals in close proximity.

So you’ll appreciate that it takes a tremendous amount of energy to resist what you know in your heart you really desire.

The feeling of resistance reminds me of a young foal called Venus we were looking after on our rural property. Her owner came to take her to a new home where a young girl was happily waiting to care for her.

But Venus didn’t know what the future held. She wanted to stay where she was and with who and what she knew. It was all she would ever know—unless she surrendered and moved to new, fertile pasture and loving home.

I watched as her owner, unable to coax her to move of her own accord, dragged her from the field. Was it fear, a primal instinctive resistance that she found threatening?

Resistance can be traced to its evolutionary roots in genetics. The cure for humankind is to connect with a “higher realm.” To let love, not fear, be your guiding light. This is the place where inspiration, or being in spirit, resides. It’s the purpose and passion zone, and the place where magic and manifestation miracles really do happen.

 

Why are You Resisting?

Now you know that pursuing the best outcomes often meets with the greatest resistance. The things that you feel most scared or apprehensive about are the things that matter most.

Resistance is fueled by fear. It has no strength on its own. Gently accept and acknowledge your fears and then send them on their way and you will conquer resistance. In the previous chapters, you’ve discovered some helpful techniques.

Perhaps like Venus, you find change threatening. Perhaps like my client Richard, a past story—one of hurt and disappointment—keeps replaying in your head. Or you may be like Katherine who has embarked on a journey of sobriety before and failed. She was worried about what the future held.

Failure is not fatal—plenty of people have fallen off their sobriety wagon. But, just like people have fallen off horses, they didn’t let a fall from grace, hold them back from another ride.

Will you have to be dragged kicking and screaming, rather than walk forward with confidence that you are in safe hands and all will be well? Have you forgotten the consequences of denying your path with heart? By resisting change are you suffering in the process, like Venus who tried to make a great escape and leaped the fence, hurting her leg as she fell?

Are you struggling like she did until she no longer had the strength to resist and surrendered? Are you waiting for someone to make the decisions for you until you have no choice but to change?

Perhaps you can relate to my story. When I stopped struggling and quit boozing because I finally got so sick of feeling shitty, tired and afraid. Maybe you don’t want to wait until you’re so fed up and stressed that your health is compromised.

“The enemy is a very good teacher,” says the Dalai Lama. Whatever your situation you’ll find it helpful to clarify your sources of resistance and learn what needs to change. The following resistance quiz will shed some light so that you are better able to navigate the road ahead.

 

The Resistance Quiz

Increase your awareness and prepare to take some empowered steps by taking the following resistance quiz.

How committed to achieving your best life are you? Do you:

1. Know what you want in your heart, and your gut, but resist taking action

2. Spend time doing anything but the thing which inspires you (drinking, watching television, hanging out with toxic friends etc.)

3. Allow your thoughts to be contaminated by fear, doubt, and other negative emotions like anxiety

4. Sabotage opportunities by breaking promises or not following through

5. Want certainty and absolute guarantees before committing to action

6. Opt for the comfort rut and ‘easy fix’ rather than embrace a new challenge

7. Do what’s practical at the expense of what inspires you

8. Let laziness control you, suffocating your aspirations

9. Procrastinate, dither, make excuses and justifications to explain your lack of progress

10. Have a shopping list of reasons why you can’t cut back or stop drinking

11. Consciously try to ignore or repress positive thoughts, feelings or experiences

12. Take a stand against and actively oppose or block people, things, and situations that could help you achieve your dreams

13. Pursue or fight for opportunities that don’t excite you

14. Other

 

Or do you:

1. Know what you want in your heart, and take steps, even small steps to make your dreams a reality

2. Feed your thoughts, and nourish your dreams with love, faith, and clarity

3. Answer the call for change by saying ‘yes’ to opportunities and following through

4. Act, despite uncertainty, and trust that when you do what you love all else will follow

5. Believe and tap into spiritual supply and providence to manifest your desires

6. Want to make yourself proud and live your best life

7. Proactively exercise good self-care and maintain a healthy balance

8. Regularly do what energizes you

9. Whip laziness into shape by taking inspired action

10. Work with a sense of urgency, knowing if not now, when?

11. Do what you love

12. Surround yourself with a vibe-tribe who inspire and support you

13. Pursue or fight for opportunities that do excite you

14. Other

 

Your answers to the above will help boost the necessary self-awareness to embrace positive change and design a plan of inspired action.

 

Overcoming Resistance

To find success the following things are important:

• An overriding sense of your purpose for being here—your authentic calling

• A vision and an idea of the right direction for your work and life

• Consistent action and continually taking steps, i.e. doing what lies before you today, tomorrow, next week…

• A willingness to show up every day with your gifts and talents, often in the face of fear and resistance

 

Begin with The End in Mind

A very powerful strategy to overcome resistance is to begin with the end in mind. Tap into the power of your heart, see your end goal as already accomplished. Allow your body to feel the exact feelings you sense you’ll feel when you have achieved your end goal. They may be, love, excitement, joy, satisfaction, or pride.

Draw a timeline. Mark on it the year and date when you would like your business to go live. Feel that goal as already achieved. Then look along that timeline and note all the steps and things you did to achieve your end goal. Note these on your timeline.

A timeline helps you see and feel the end result before you begin. It’s a powerful and simple way to free up any perceived or real fears and blockages.

I like to think of all my goals as projects including sobriety. And I always like to visualize what it will feel like when I’ve actually finished a project. I don’t want to wait until the project is finished. I want that feeling of achievement and excitement now! I’m also rewarded with a big juicy dopamine hit!

 

Building the Home of Your Dreams

I applied this strategy when I visualized building a house on the back of my old villa in Wellington many years ago. At the time, everyone thought achieving my desire was an impossible dream. Even I knew it was audacious—I was a single working mother with no savings.

But I didn’t let that stop me from throwing my energy into seeing the house built. To feed my desire and overcome resistance I imagined how beautiful my home could be. I felt the evening sun on my face.

I heard the birdsong in the trees. I saw every aspect of what I wanted—the colors, the expanses of glass. I felt the lovely stone bench tops. I tasted the meals I would cook for friends. I fed my motivation to actually build a house from scratch.

To feed my desire, generate ideas, increase clarity and fuel a sense of possibility I created image boards and gathered clippings of what I wanted to manifest.

I also broke the project into manageable chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed and also to counteract my fears around cost escalations. I sourced my team—builders, architects, and other pros. In short, I began with the end in mind and broke the project into manageable steps and drew up a project plan.

Don’t get me wrong—I am no passionate planner. I am naturally organic and spontaneous. But when the need and the desires arise we are all capable of mastering the skills we need. But first I worked to my preferences and strengths and began creatively.

I like creating projects because they make things seem more manageable. They usually have beginnings and endings, and often tangible concrete results.

Some of my projects have included things like publishing books, building websites, beginning a blog, creating companies and personal brands, generating products, and services, and customers.

As you start to surround yourself with tangible evidence of possibilities and to chart your progress, inspiration, desire, and love build. Suddenly your dreams are no longer dreams but living realities.

Be sure to include completion deadlines—these can flex if need be, but have a date to work towards. Reward yourself each time you complete a milestone; much like builders do when they have the roof shout.

Share your completion deadlines with a supportive cheerleader or nag buddy. This is the reason so many entrepreneurs use business coaches and mentors. Being accountable is motivating.

Unless you start taking action toward sobriety now, unless you’re closer to achieving it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow, your resistance will bury you.

Khalil Gibran said this poignantly when he wrote: “Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning to the funeral.”

Cast off from those safe, but dull shores. Break free of the comfort rut and embrace the most comfortable feeling of all. Being sober! You’ll discover your authentic self and your heart’s desire.

 

What Makes You Happy? Do it!

Revisit your goals and intentions and remind yourself why achieving them is important to you. Revisit your Sobriety Journal and add more inspiration to feed your heart and fuel your dreams.

Crack on and do what it takes to whip resistance into shape. Do more of what makes you happy and less of what no longer fills you with feelings of love. Do this with a sense of urgency before it is too late. Trick yourself if need be by imagining you’ve been told you only have a year to live. Be life—don’t just dream it!

“I am a writer,” proclaims Elisabeth Gilbert, the best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, in her book, Big Magic. “This proclamation of intent and entitlement is not something you can do just once and then expect miracles; it’s something you must do daily, forever.

“I’ve had to keep defining and defending myself as a writer every single day of my adult life—constantly reminding and re-reminding my soul and the cosmos that I’m very serious about the business of creative living, and that I will never stop creating, no matter what the outcome, and no matter how deep my anxieties and insecurities may be.”

 

Wage War on Resistance

I never met Anthony Bourdain, but his death shocked me. It shocks me still. As does the death of Amy Winehouse and other great artists and people who made the world a better place with their devotion to their craft.  I wonder, did Bourdain and Amy harbor death wishes. Did they really want to die?

In Bourdain’s case, John E. Richters, Ph.D. wrote an article entitled, “Anthony Bourdain’s long-burning suicidal wick— in his own words.” In his article, Richters summarises numerous instances where Bourdain referred to hanging himself. Heart-wrenchingly this is exactly the way he ended his life.

“As Bourdain continued to struggle publically with his demons over the years,” writes Richters, “he also became increasingly comfortable with the idea of suicide as a potential exit strategy. He became particularly comfortable with the idea of hanging himself as an option and was especially drawn to the idea of hanging himself in the shower. Sufficiently comfortable that he referred casually and explicitly to killing himself in this way throughout his professional career. Not occasionally, but frequently. A cursory review of his public statements over the years reveals 19 separate occasions— in writing, during interviews, and on camera—on which he refers to suicide by hanging. On the vast majority of these occasions he refers explicitly to hanging himself in the shower, on 1 occasion more specifically to hanging himself in the shower of his hotel room, and on 1 occasion even more specifically to hanging himself in the shower stall of his lonely hotel room.”

Bourdain was very transparent about his battles with addiction. It remains unclear if he had been drinking the night he ended his life, but what is clear is that he had embraced a comfort rut of the worst kind—becoming comfortable with suicide as an exit strategy.

A great many people have contemplated suicide.I have. Many people close to me have. Tragically, some have succeeded. Most often suicidal thoughts and intentions occur during or following periods of extreme stress. Everything seems out of balance. It’s easy to give into despair. Easy to try and kill our pain by anesthetizing with alcohol or drugs to try and numb the unbearable hurt. But this numbing only serves to silence our will to live, to block out our faith and hope that we can get through the worst of times, and the belief that tomorrow will be a better day.

 No one is immune to suicide. Even Bourdain’s mother said her son was the last person she thought would commit suicide.

According to Dr. Anne Schuchat, Deputy Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “depression is not a condition that’s related to success or failure.” Depression is not a disease. It’s a feeling. A very heavy feeling that is sometimes hard to shift. But shift it does. Sometimes quickly. Sometimes it seems to last forever. But there is always, always a cure.

People like me, and those I know who have contemplated suicide, have found the will to live or reached out for support, or by some divine stroke of lucky intervention have been saved, have found purpose and sometimes joy, despite our wounds. In my case, as perhaps it was Bourdain’s (and certainly was Amy Winehouse’s) a relationship meltdown, accompanied by far too much alcohol, was the catalyst that led me to contemplate ending my life. 

No relationship is worth ending your life for. None. Bouncing back from destructive relationships brings with it much-needed healing. Reach out for support, you can and will find love again.

Boost your immunity—wage war on the resistance to live another day.  Commit to your soul’s evolution. Accept yourself as you are, the good and what you may perceive, or what others may tell you, are the not so good parts.

Bourdain, for example, was told that he was a narcissist. He later referred to himself as one, and said that nothing could be down. He wore his label with guilt and shame, yet what if he’d embraced that part of him, made friends with it, accepted it—or shunned it as just not true? Would he still be walking amongst us, delighting us with his journeys into “Parts Unknown,”  uniting cultures through food? Instead, depression claimed another beautiful soul.

Depression is often your spirit’s way of telling you something needs to change. That there is something within you that needs to grow. To grow you may need to let somethings, or some people, go. The more you resist, the more you try and mask the symptoms, the more prolonged your pain. Popping pills, or downing more jugs of booze, may often short-term respite, but never a long-term cure.

“Consider this single fact: According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, 11% of Americans over the age of 12 are on antidepressant drugs! And 1 in 4 women in their 40 and 50s are also on antidepressant medication. If you don’t believe this doesn’t indicate deep societal problems, you’d better start smoking marijuana. We are a mentally sick pill-infected nation,” writes Dr. W. Gifford-Jones, in an article about Anthony Bourdain’s death, ‘Why did Anthony Bourdain commit suicide?’

“It’s also ironic that antidepressant side-effects have been linked to sleep disturbance, brain damage and suicide. The other irony is that there is little evidence they benefit patients suffering from mild to moderate depression. And that in 80% of cases, they work no better than a placebo sugar pill,” says Gifford-Jones.

Could medical treatment have saved Bourdain’s life?

“Maybe,” says Gifford-Jones, “but I doubt it. If this were possible, Ernest Hemingway, a famous author, and Philip Graham, owner of the Washington Post newspaper, both treated at a famous clinic, would still be alive. Great wealth and expensive care cannot heal a brain that’s dedicated to eventual self-destruction.” 

That doesn’t mean we should ever give up hope. We can dedicate our lives to self-preservation, and there are a great many interventions, many holistic, some of which I have shared above that can re-engineer our brains, breathe life into our battle-weary hearts, and rejuvenate our souls. The most important thing is to fire up your warrior spirit and battle those demons that drive you to despair.

And while you’re at it, lay off the booze. As I’ve already discussed, alcohol abuse and excessive drinking is a major cause of anxiety and depression, impairs mental reasoning and critical thinking—increasing the likelihood of making tragic and often impulsive choices. The risk of suicide increases for many people who turn to drink.

 

 

If a person claims to be a burden, talks about suicide, has increased anxiety, increased alcohol or drug use, sleeps too much, expresses hopelessness, or withdraws from activities, suicidal thoughts should be suspected.  Take it seriously and encourage them to seek help.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Below are some support services in New Zealand.

Lifeline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 111 757

Healthline (open 24/7) – 0800 611 116

Samaritans (open 24/7) – 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Youthline (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email talk@youthline.co.nz

0800 WHATSUP children’s helpline – phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day.

Kidsline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.

Your local Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Alcohol Drug Help (open 24/7) – 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.

For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation‘s free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).

 

To learn more about my wellness-therapies, including how QTC can help you achieve rapid, lasting, transformational change click here >>

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:

Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook and iBooks: https://www.books2read.com/u/bQBLj0

Or direct from the author  http://www.cassandragaisford.com/product/mind-your-drink-the-surprising-joy-of-sobriety

 

NOTES:

You can read John E. Richters article about Anthony Bourdain here https://drive.google.com/file/d/1c25xJS6S-XvS8CXagIeQsg5D755vaWoW/view

 

Dr. W. Gifford-Jones’s article can be read in full here: https://torontosun.com/life/relationships/why-did-anthony-bourdain-commit-suicide

Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

The other day while celebrating my partner’s birthday, and while seeking refuge from a considerable period of stress, I noticed a tourist deeply entranced in capturing an image of a local child with his Canon camera.

 

I took this snapshot on my phone and then showed it to him. He was very surprised and exclaimed, “You got me!”

 

The energy was infectious, pure, spontaneous joy – or as Deepak Chopra writes in his book The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing The Infinite Power of Coincidence—divinely inspired.

The man I spontaneously photographed was Suresh Lala, who I later discovered was on the last day of his trip to New Zealand from Mumbai. He also spontaneously reciprocated his joy by taking an image of me which he entitled, “Me photographing the photographer who photographed the photographer.”

“I shall certainly cherish this memory. Keep that high wattage smile going!” he wrote to me. Little did Suresh know that my partner and I have been experiencing a time of profound stress. Suresh’s passionate camera-presence was a gift to me, and immediately boosted my deflated spirits.

As I write, I am not sure where this coincidence will let. Yet it is remarkable that yesterday I also received my first truly spine-tingling review on Amazon India for my newly released book Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More

 

5.0 out of 5 starsDiscovering my beautiful mind!

21 May 2018

Cassandra Gaisford’s book- Your beautiful mind – is the first book I read after completing my three day counseling session at a major alcoholic rehabilitation center in Indian state of Kerala. Her straightforward way of writing hooked me and motivated me to hold on to my decision- to quit alcohol- strongly. She handled the menace of alcoholism from the level of basics to the level of an expert in a language even a layman can understand.

‘Your beautiful mind’ inspired me to think beyond my alcoholic lifestyle, which wasn’t possible before and helped to transform my mind completely. She motivated me to take up my passions- reading, writing, stock market analysis- as fruitful additions rather than following self destructive addictions like alcohol, nicotine and drugs. Today, I can enjoy my life more and feels like I have been freed from a prison – a self created prison of addictive behaviour. Keep inspiring and keep up your great work, Cassandra!

Now, I am hoping to visit Mumbai too! And loads of other places in India too.

Thank you Justin Raj—I’m so thrilled to have been able to help. Justin’s feedback is even more significant because, as I share in my books, one of the main reasons I wrote Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More, and also my follow-up book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, was following the desperate plea for help by a beautiful woman I met on a wellness retreat.

“I’m an alcoholic,” she sobbed, “I can’t stop drinking and they’re going to take my kids.” At the time I felt powerless, ‘How could I possibly help you? I wondered. What did I know about treating addictions?

Little did I know that my frustration and feelings of inadequacy would spur me to find answers. So to know that Justin, not only found self-empowered healing, but that in the process he also reawakened dormant and neglected passions is especially poignant. As he shared on his Facebook page and blog he is looking forward to replacing a negative addiction with a positive obsession with writing and researching and has rekindled his then-dormant blog.

Coincidentally – or what I call ‘go-incidentally’ my dream has been to visit Kerela one day. I hope we can meet!

Are you struggling with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed? Have negative addictions and substance abuse claimed your creative power? Below is a powerful reminder about the life-enhancing magic of creativity—a short edited excerpt from Your Beautiful Mind.

 

Powerful Creativity

Creative expression and communicating what you truly feel is one of our greatest joys and freedoms. It is a simple and effective way to inject more happiness into your life without needing alcohol. Creativity in its various guises is also a natural antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression, which explains why art therapy is such a potent and popular tool.

Art therapy is a form of experiential therapy, an approach to recovery and healing that addresses emotional and spiritual needs through creative or physical activity. People don’t need to have a background in the arts or any artistic talent to participate.  They need only to be open to experiencing and engaging actively to benefit.

I have trained in a technique called Interactive Drawing Therapy and have found it to be an incredible tool in my own life and in my sessions with others. The simplest of drawings, a line, a color, a scrawled phrase or word can powerfully access parts of the psyche we often repress, bringing it to light. In an alchemical process, wounds are spun into gold.

When I first trained in Interactive Drawing Therapy the teacher asked for a volunteer. No hands were raised so he picked me. What harm could it do, I thought, being as skilled as I was at keeping a lid firmly on my feelings.

“Draw an animal,” he said.

Sure, I thought. Great. Harmless. I drew a giraffe.

“Put some color on the page,” the teacher gently guided.

My giraffe became pink with green, purple and yellow spots. What fun I thought.

“Where is she?” the teacher asked. “Draw this on the page.”

I drew large grey and black rectangles, symbolizing office blocks, cars belching smoke, and a road, not unlike Lambton Quay, in Wellington, New Zealand where I went to work in a job I hated every weekday.

“Put some words on the page,” the teacher whispered.

“She doesn’t want to stand out.”

And then it dawned on me, just as the words slipped onto the page. That giraffe was me. And the fact was I did stand out—naturally. I had always been different. And I had struggled unsuccessfully to belong.

“She can’t help but stand out,” my tutor affirmed. “It’s who she is.”

For me, this awareness was so new, so potent, so transformative, that I knew instantly there was work to do. I began to understand the deep social anxiety I had felt as a child and carried with me through adolescence—and with it the drinking to belong, to bolster the confidence I never felt, to hide the discomfort of living in my own skin.

I wonder, if you were an animal who would you be and why? Asking this question so directly, often yields substantially different, more rational, carefully considered choices, than those which arise through the techniques of tools like Interactive Drawing Therapy (IDT). The strength of IDT is its ability to access what is repressed, hidden and buried in the subconscious and bring it to light for healing.

Job stress, as we have discussed briefly, is a major reason many people over-drink. Again, drawing came to my rescue. I had become quite accomplished at pretending I loved my job—I couldn’t afford to admit the truth.

As I share in my book, Mid-Life Career Rescue The Call for Change, “I was a single mum, the only one able to support my young daughter and myself. I used to go home with a brave face, but inside I was tired and depressed. My self-esteem was so low I thought no one would hire me. I tried to go to work, grit my teeth and bear it.

I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. But that wasn’t what my boss wanted from me. “You could make a lot of money here,” he said. “You just need to be more selfish.”  For a while, I tried to be someone else—motivated only by money, but every day my values were compromised, and the skills I loved weren’t used.

My job started making me ill. It got so bad I got shingles—a painful virus affecting the central nervous system. I felt trapped and unable to leave. My colleagues at work had similar experiences. It really was such a toxic workplace. Several people had heart attacks, and the amount of alcohol people consumed after work to numb the pain was staggering.

I needed a career rescue. In desperation, I agreed to see a career counselor. During my first session, I was asked to draw a picture. I drew a grey bird in a black cage.

“The door is open, but she’s forgotten how to fly,” I told her.

This drawing brought tears to her eyes. Although I didn’t understand why at the time, I can see now that she felt my pain at feeling so caught and trapped by my situation.

Through our sessions and the structured exercises we completed together, I rebuilt my confidence and strengthened my awareness of my skills, and most importantly, I learned how to dream.

The work the career counselor did with me was so important, so vital—saving me from despair. It led me to not just finding a job I loved, but later creating one that gave me a sense of purpose.

What she taught me literally gave me my life back. Happily, I can now serve others in this way too—as an author, qualified holistic energy psychologist, career counselor, life and career coach, and a trainer of other coaches who also aspire to make a difference in other people’s lives.

If you’re reading this book and recognize yourself in my story, if job stress or a toxic workplace is causing you to over drink, don’t wait too long for help. I promise that your happy place is out there—it may even mean employing yourself. Now, that’s ultimate freedom!

 

Therapy Can Be Fun—and Free!

Many addiction and rehab centers use art therapy as part of their therapeutic offering, and report that clients find engaging in creative arts highly satisfying and fun. It’s a playful way of relaxing and an enjoyable way to address some of the more complex aspects of rehab.

Creative activity provides a way to process some of the stressful emotions and anxieties that can emerge during treatment. After rehab, activities like painting, sculpting or drawing can be used throughout the individual’s life as a way to express feelings, explore creativity, and reduce stress.

Best of all, it’s a tool anyone can access, anywhere, at any time, and the effects are long-lasting. You can engage in creativity whenever you feel the need to escape the madness of this world.

But you don’t need to go to rehab or analyze how and why creativity works to understand it’s magic.

Art in all its guises heals and empowers. Have you ever wondered why silencing or controlling peoples creative expression is the first things marauding tyrants and dictators silence or destroy?

Leonardo da Vinci, a great scientist once said, “Art is the queen of all sciences communicating to the world.” Art permeates the inner and outer worlds and elevates our soul.

My grandmother Molly was a naturally gifted and self-taught artist. Her escape, when she needed one, was painting flowers and landscapes in oil colors.

Molly also loved to play the piano, the accordion, and even the banjo and sing for others. Perhaps it was her Irish ancestry which unleashed the happy, confident entertainer. I can still hear her beautifully manicured nail tapping along the ivory keys of the piano. Art banished her heavy episodes of drinking—when she sang, painted, created she never needed a drink.

I have a tiny painting of Molly’s in my shed, a small bunch of violets framed in a custom-made frame my grandfather made for her. Reg Fairweather (beautiful name) was a talented wood turner and furniture maker. This was a hobby, a beautiful retreat he found great joy and personal expression in.

I wonder now, was that his way of escaping and coping when my grandmother’s drinking got out of control? Or was it Reg’s way of coping or distancing himself from his own pain? At the time of writing, I’ve only just learned that Reg’s mother, my great-grandmother, died not long after giving birth. It’s a trauma that had until now, remained a secret.

“I write songs to deal with things I otherwise might not be able to,” a young woman once said about her budding music career, hobbies and dreams.

“For me to be happy is about pleasing only my heart and not worrying about what others think,” says Interior designer Olimpia Orsini about her magically surreal lair in her home away from home in Rome’s bohemian Campo Marzio.

“I love what a camera does,” says landscape photographer Alicia Taylor. “It opens up people to connect with you, it can take you on an amazing journey, and probably is the only time I feel I’ve got the guts to do something is when I’ve got the camera in my hands. I feel like it’s a key to the world.”

“Knitting saved my life,” the waitress at my local cafe told me recently. She told me how her hobby has provided the ultimate cure for her anxiety, and of the joy she finds in knitting for friends.

Without the anxiety of feeling different, author Isabel Allende, says she wouldn’t have been driven to create. “Writing, when all is said and done, is an attempt to understand one’s own circumstance and to clarify the confusion of existence, including insecurities that do not torment normal people, only chronic non-conformists.”

What do these people all have in common? They harness the power of creative expression to rise above the challenges of life.

Personally, I love to write paint, take photographs and have dabbled in a great deal many other things during my life—including making stained glass Tiffany-style lampshades, pottery, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch. You name it, I’ve tried it. They take me out of this world, out of my mind, into the realms of the divine. I find great comfort there.

Get drunk on creating—yes, please! It’s a positive addiction I’m happy to feed.

“I love the chaos. I do everything I’m not meant to do. I used to drink like an animal, but now I use my art to express the chaos in my mind,” says Sir Antony Hopkins about the joy he finds in painting. “I used to take myself so seriously. I have an obsessive personality. I do everything fast. I want to do everything I can because time is running out”, he says. “I want to express color. Maybe it’s reaching for some sort of divine.”

Don’t get caught up in the classical definitions of an artist when you think about creativity, you don’t have to be an artist, painter or sculptor to be creative. Expressing your thoughts or imagining what doesn’t yet exist and then bringing it into being lies at the heart of creative expression. You could harness the transformational power of creativity by:

• Imagining or dreaming what could be, for example, your life of sobriety

• Challenging the status quo, as I am in the writing of this book, or generating solutions and new ideas

• Designing new products or services, perhaps instead of drinking you will pour your heart and soul into creating something you are proud of

• Expressing thoughts and feelings, visually, that are too big or too difficult to put into words

• Or doing something else that helps you deal with life and creates joy in your heart.

One of the most liberating features of the creative process is that it triggers moments of vitality and connection.

“The arts address the idea of an aesthetic experience,” says Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity.

“An aesthetic experience is one in which the senses are operating at their peak, when you are present in the current moment, when you are resonating with the excitement of this thing that you are experiencing, when you are fully alive.”

Being fully alive is part of the enchantment that creative expression holds. This transformational process connects you to your authentic self. But to free yourself you must act. As Shakespeare once said, “Joy’s soul lies in the doing.”

How can you harness the power of creativity in your own life?

In the next chapter, we’ll explore more deeply the transformational power of pepping up your peptides and changing the way you feel naturally.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, available in print and Ebook here—getBook.at/Controlalcohol

Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies That Work

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

My little secret…

Mollie MathewsWhen you’re a mature worker and you find yourself in a position where you have to look for work, age bias can be a factor, but it doesn’t have to be a barrier. Although some employers might look for young, less mature hires, older workers have lots to offer, as many smart organizations realize. Successfully finding a job takes skill and confidence, but once you know the rules, you’ll feel more confident, more successful and a whole lot happier.

Some people find job hunting very challenging. Perhaps years of conditioning that you should be seen and not heard, acute shyness or lack of practice and experience in the art of self-promotion may be affecting you.

In my new book, Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies That Work—book.at/JobSearchStrategies— I’ll share the secrets that recruitment agencies will never tell you. I should know—I was once a recruitment consultant myself.

You will also discover how to:
•Harness the law of attraction by focusing on areas of passion and purpose
•Tap into the hidden job market
•Let people know what you have to offer confidently
•Overcome stress and doubt
•Boost confidence, courage, and self-esteem
•Help you find and get the job or career you want

Whether you love the idea of the 4-hour workweek, want to find a job that reflects who you are and what’s important to you, or thinking about starting a business, career change after 50 and finding a new job can be yours. 

As Richard N Bolles, author of ‘What Colour Is Your Parachute’, once said to me, “sometimes all it takes is one book, one sentence to transform your life.”

Quit feeling trapped. Reclaim your power! Find a job you love and finally live the life you want.

Preview or purchase Mid-Life Career Rescue Job Search Strategies That Work today. Available for immediate download from Amazon here—getbook.at/JobSearchStrategies

The strategies in this book will also help job-hunters in their 20s, 30s or 40s successfully change careers. The tips I share are the exact ones I used to move from despair to joy.

When I first decided on a career as a recruitment consultant I thought it would be a great opportunity to help people find jobs they enjoyed and to use my coaching skills.

I didn’t realize that the major part of the job was sales and business development. The seeds of dissatisfaction festered as I realized that I was not using the skills that I enjoyed.

In addition, the things that were really important to me, such as the value I placed on helping people, were compromised. It was a sales culture where the commission earned by putting people into jobs or a workplace, that I knew wasn’t a good fit, was more important than helping people find the right job.

For a long time, I tried to ignore my unhappiness. Finding another job seemed like too much work and secretly I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I expected too much from my job. Shouldn’t I be grateful to have an income? My self-esteem plummeted and I felt too frightened to look for another job—what if nobody else wanted me?

Before long my growing ‘dis-ease’ with my job bubbled out into painful blisters. I was quickly diagnosed with shingles.

Until I’d experienced what it was like not to do what I enjoyed I didn’t realize how important these things were to me. I started to look for ways to do more of what I wanted and less of what I didn’t. When the opportunity came to move into the career management team I leaped at the chance. I enjoyed it but I still didn’t get to do what I really wanted—hands-on coaching.

Several years later, with my eye to the future, I left the company altogether and aligned myself with a role much more in tune with my soul and my longer-term goals. As I share in Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies That Work The way I found that job was by clarifying what really made me happy and what I wanted in a job, and then, armed with this knowledge (but still a lot of fear and low self-belief )by feeing the fear and tapping into the hidden job market anyway!

Then later still I left the security of that salaried job and embraced the freedom of self-employment and owning my own business. I was a single mum—the sole breadwinner—with a mortgage. There was no safety net other than the preparation I’d done and the belief and knowledge that I had salable skills which were in demand. I’ve never looked back.

Saying Hello And Goodbye

Some of the things I said hello to when I made a move were increased freedom, autonomy and earnings.  I said goodbye to being controlled, and having a cap on my salary.

While there were trade-offs, such as no longer having paid annual leave and statutory holidays, the benefits, including the ability to work from home and the flexibility to care for my daughter—especially during her school holidays—more than compensated for any losses.

Action Task! 

Say hello to your preferred future and goodbye to the past by creating your own hello-goodbye list in your passion journal. Remember to include the benefits you’ll gain by releasing what no longer serves you. Add to this list as you gain more insights from the exercises you’ll discover in Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies That Work.

 

“Change is the end result of all true learning. Change involves three things: First, a dissatisfaction with self—a felt void or need; second, a decision to change—to fill the void or need; and third, a conscious dedication to the process of growth and change—the willful act of making the change; Doing Something.” ~ Dr Phil

 

Quit feeling trapped. Reclaim your power! Find a job you love and finally live the life you want.

Preview or purchase Mid-Life Career Rescue Job Search Strategies That Work today. Available for immediate download from Amazon here—getbook.at/JobSearchStrategies

The strategies in this book will also help job-hunters in their 20s, 30s or 40s successfully change careers.

 

Celebrate Leonardo’s Birthday by Reading His Best Inspirational Quotes and Daily Motivation For the Best You Ever

Monday, April 16th, 2018

 

Today would have been the 566th birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, the original Renaissance man best known for his eclectic range of interests and talents and for his willingness to follow his curiosity. Celebrate in style and let Leonardo da Vinci be your mentor, inspiration, and guide as he calls forth your passions, purpose, and potential.

 Success is living life on your terms and no one knows this better than the ultimate freedom-fighter Leonardo da Vinci.

 Bestselling author, award-winning artist and creativity expert Cassandra Gaisford shares the success secrets of Leonardo da Vinci and other extraordinary artists, authors and creative entrepreneurs like Leonardo da Vinci, Coco Chanel, Georgia O’Keeffe, Vera Wang, Arianna Huffington, Oprah, Isabel Allende, and many more.

 These successful people and others like them thrive by capitalizing on and leveraging off the power of their creative strength, resourcefulness, and optimistic ‘can do’ mindset.

 In The Art of Success Cassandra Gaisford answers the question: How can you thrive as an artist, entrepreneur or business person, create success on your own terms, and live a happier life?

Gaisford shows us that being successful is not just about money. It’s also about health, happiness, close relationships, living a meaningful life, and enjoying life’s journey.

If you suffer from self-doubt or fear of failure…

If you constantly need approval from others…

If you lack confidence or self-esteem… 

If you’re a perfectionist…

Or find the challenges of life overwhelming…

 

…then The Art of Success is exactly the right book for you—because it will cheerlead, motivate and encourage you to fight for your dreams and achieve your goals.

 

In The Art of Success Gaisford reveals:

 

        How to define success on your own terms…

        How to find your truth and live an authentic life…

        How to set and achieve audacious goals…

        How to steal from your heroes (rather than waiting for inspiration)

        How to take strategic risks (rather than reckless ones)

        How to overcome your fear of failure, criticism, and change…

        How to make money, follow your passion and still pay the bills…

        How to beat procrastination and low self-esteem…

        How to identify real priorities that are central to your life’s true meaning…

        And how to empower your business and personal life…

 

Through inspiring anecdotes of successful business people and creative solopreneurs like Leonardo da Vinci, Gaisford shows that living and working with purpose and passion is not only doable but it’s also a fulfilling way to thrive.

 Expanding upon the ground-breaking work in her previous bestsellers Mid-Life Career Rescue, How to Find Your Passion and Purpose, and Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy Gaisford explores the tension every person faces in an effort to blend an authentic, inspired life with a practical path to success. Being creative isn’t a disadvantage; rather, it is a powerful tool to be harnessed to elevate your success.

 If you’re short on time but high on motivation The Art of Success will cheerlead, support, encourage and inspire you to move toward success.

 There is not only wisdom on every page, but actionable, immediate steps you can take to make a difference in reaching your own goals and dreams.

This book is like meeting with your best friend—the one who can give you a pep talk or a sharp rap on the head, depending on what you need. Broken into small, bite-sized segments—you’ll soon find yourself jotting notes down, finding someone else so you can share the insights and experience, and even more resources made available to keep you motivated and focused.

Dig into this book and let Leonardo da Vinci be your mentor, inspiration, and guide as he calls forth your passions, purpose, and potential.

Personally, I loved researching and writing this book. Below are some images of the early drafts.

Leonardo was just like you and I. He suffered at times from self-doubt, he had family hassles, some of his efforts resulted in failure, people jealous of his talent tried to undermine him, money worries meant that at times he had to suck it up and do work he didn’t enjoy, and he had to work for bullies and tyrants.

But he didn’t let obstacles stop him from doing the work he loved. The pursuit of knowledge born of his own enquiry and experience ultimately led to his success. He also learned from experts he admired, both past and present.

I created the Art of Success series to reveal how the success secrets and strategies of extraordinary artists like Leonardo da Vinci can help people like you and I succeed—personally and professionally. Successful artists have always struggled, but they persevered anyway. And it is this willingness to pursue their calling in the face of many challenges that holds lessons for us all.

 

To celebrate Leonardo’s birthday please enjoy this free excerpt:

 

BE AMBITIOUS

I wish to work miracles

~ Leonardo da Vinci

Many people struggle to achieve because they’re not ambitious. Being ambitious may stir your fears—fear of success, failure, regret, disappointment, or loss. Or it may trigger a fear of standing out. You may associate ambition with negative traits, like aggression.

As Leonardo once said, “I want to create miracles.” If that’s not ambitious I don’t know what is. He wasn’t hard and aggressive—he was focused and he kept his vision fixed on success.

Your Challenge

Reframe ambition and look to your heroes and heroines.

When you think of someone ambitious that you admire who comes to mind?

What qualities do they possess? How could you copy-cat or borrow these qualities and apply them to help you succeed?

Keep your ambition a secret—avoid the critics and those who may knock your confidence. When you start to flap your ambition wings other people may feel threatened or jealous

It’s cool to be ambitious. People want to hang out with ambitious, successful people. Pursue your big audacious goals! Do the things you think you can’t. Achieve the impossible

The world is in perpetual motion, and we must invent the things of tomorrow. One must go before others, be determined and exacting, and let your intelligence direct your life. Act with audacity

~ Madame Veuve Cliquot, businesswoman

  

The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book One: Leonardo da Vinci) by Cassandra Gaisford.To purchase your copy and learn more from Leonardo Navigate to:

Amazon: getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook and iBooks: https://www.books2read.com/u/bPJqYJ

 

 

 

P.S.

 

And I’m excited to let you know that today, in honor of Leonardo’s birthday I released a new book, The Art of Success Leonardo da Vinci Best Inspirational Quotes: Daily Motivation For the Best You Ever.

Here’s a short blurb:

One of few quotes book that includes a Bonus Video!

Bestselling author and successful entrepreneur, Cassandra Gaisford partners with Leonardo da Vinci, to share their personal collection of inspirational quotes from ancient philosophers to today’s thinkers. Read one quote a day as a vitamin of inspiration, or read them in one sitting to break through negative thinking, bounce back from setbacks and feel happier instantly.

BONUS #1: Online Video: “6 Things Successful People Do To Become & Stay Motivated & Happy”

BONUS #2: Activities To Discover Your Life’s True Passion and Purpose

 

Stress Less, Reduce Anxiety, Discover Happiness: The Life-Changing Benefits of Unplugging

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Palomino horses cantering in field

“Setting aside protected time each day for direct interaction with people—or for solitude and meditation without the interruption of a Facebook feed or a stream of texts—instinctively feels like a good thing.”
~ John Swartzberg, M.D.

 

“We’re suffering a sleep crisis,” warns Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and author of The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time. The chronic need to be “plugged in” is hurting our health, productivity, relationships, and happiness.

Are you suffering from information overwhelm? Are you permanently attached to your device? Does the thought of unplugging send your anxiety spiraling? What if you miss something? What if….what if…

What if you shut it all down and stepped away for a day, a week, a month or more? Consider taking time out to unplug, take a step back, forget about what is expected, forget about what you may be missing, and think about you may be gaining.

Like any addiction, unplugging can be a struggle at first, but the benefits are worth it. Besides the main benefit of being able to enjoy much more hassle-free, uninterrupted time, here are seven other wonderful and lesser-known upsides you’ll notice from making the decision to unplug regularly:

Increased awareness. When was the last time you were fully aware of the beauty that surrounds you? When you unplug you blitz major distractions. You begin to notice small details in people, things, and places that you never really noticed before.

Clarity. Unplugging reduced brain overload. Technological over stimulation overwhelms your mind, reducing your cognitive reasoning skills.

Improved memory retention and mood. Even just detoxing from technology for a day once a week is enough to give your brain a reboot, which can improve your memory and lift your mood.

More brain power. Spending less time being a slave to technological stimulation, provides more time to focus on doing activities that can grow your brain cells—such as indulging in an enjoyable hobby, learning a new skill, visiting a new place, having new experiences, going for a relaxing walk.

Enhanced relationships. Disconnecting from your perpetual tether to iPhones and laptops can do all kinds of great things for your real-world connections with families and friends.This is a no-brainer, but one so many people seem to miss. Putting your device away and giving the people you are with, rather than your device, your undivided attention tells people they’re important to you.

Enhanced productivity. Do you really need constant access to your social notifications, Facebook updates, your email inbox, a bunch of tabs open in your web browser and all sorts of other things to feel in touch and in control? Accumulating interruptions steals peace of mind and minimises your ability to get things done. Any time you’re interrupted from a work-related task by something from your phone or computer, it can take as long as 45 minutes for your brain to refocus.

Mindfulness. When something interesting starts happening, what’s your first reaction? Do you whip out your phone, start snapping photos and begin sharing on social media? Or do you savor the moment and delight in being in the moment? When you unplug, you force yourself to be more present.

“A natural side effect of unplugging is that you stop missing out on what you should be enjoying for yourself, rather than trying to tell everyone on social media about it,” says author Elise Moreau.

Are screens the problem or a symptom?

“It’s become part of our culture to think that being too plugged in’ and too dependent on our devices is the root of our problems, rather than a manifestation of other problems,” says John Swartzberg, M.D.

“Is constantly checking your phone during dinner with your family causing you to be less close to them? Or are you constantly checking your phone because it’s a convenient way to avoid conversations? Are you anxious and having trouble sleeping because you’re spending too much time online? Or are you spending lots of time online to try to tune out your anxiety?” Swartzberg asks.

None of this is to say that Swartzberg thinks it’s a good thing that so many of us are so constantly connected to our devices. “If we spend too much time staring at a screen, the life that is happening right in front of us—our kids’ childhoods, conversations with our partners, work that we can do to help make the world better—may just pass us by.”

 

Call to Action

Get to the heart of why you’re spending so much time connected to technology. Isolate the benefits and issues, and then make a call whether you need to schedule the time to unplug.

 

Dive Deeper…

Take a real break from work—check out my interview in the New Zealand Herald, “Escape the Always On Culture,” navigate to here—http://bit.ly/2s7PEWd


Learn polymath Tim Ferris’s 4 steps to lifestyle design: definition, elimination, automation, and liberation. Watch it here: http://bit.ly/1nTs7jq

 

MIRACLE MASSAGE

“Massage has had a positive effect on every medical condition we’ve looked at.”    

~ Tiffany Field, Ph. D.

One of my favorite ways to rest is to go for a massage; but, so many people mistakenly think massage is an indulgence rather than a health-behavior.

Some of the many benefits of massage include reduced stress and higher levels of neuroendocrine and immune functioning—which means better hormonal balance and more immunity to disease and illness.

Some studies also suggest that a one-hour massage results in benefits equivalent to a 6-hour sleep.

Sounds good to me, especially when I’m feeling fatigued.

If getting naked isn’t your thing, consider an energy healing treatment with a trained Reiki practitioner.

Reiki is a Japanese word. Rei means universal transcendental spirit and Ki stands for life energy. Hence, the word carries the sense of universal life energy. Many scientific minds, as well as sage healers, have throughout the years believed that the universe is filled with this invisible life energy, and life and health of all living beings is sustained by it.

 

Healing hands

Increasing evidence suggests that there does exist a superior intelligent force which contains all creation and out of which all life arises. The energy of this force pervades everything and this is the energy that flows through our hands in concentrated form when we treat with Reiki.

Reiki healing is the ancient art of “hands-on healing” and offers a natural and holistic approach to mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

You don’t have to believe in any religion or be particularly spiritual to benefit from Reiki. It’s an inclusive, non-religious form of healing and safe for everyone.

When I was experiencing a huge period of stress, I gained so much immediate benefit from my Reiki treatments that I decided to learn this beautiful healing technique. Recently in Bali, I completed my master level training.

You don’t have to be Reiki-trained to live by the principles developed by Reiki founder Dr. Mikao Usui: “Just for today do not worry. Just for today do not anger. Honor your parents, teachers, and elders. Earn your living honestly. Show gratitude to everything.”

 

Call to Action

Give yourself the gift of a therapeutic massage or Reiki treatment.

 

This is an edited extract from Stress Less. Love Life More: How to Stop Worrying, Reduce Anxiety, Eliminate Negative Thinking and Find Happiness by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy and learn how to stress less and love life more, navigate to: getBook.at/StressLess to go to your online bookshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praise for Stress Less. Love Life More

“Currently, my workload is pretty intense and a little stressful. After reading this book I felt less stressed and more focused. I highly recommend adding this helpful book to your collection.”

~ Paul Brodie, Eight-time Amazon bestselling author

“This is another of Cassandra’s well researched and thought-provoking books, this time focusing on stress and how to best manage it. Cassandra has packed this book with great suggestions to help the reader cope with stress; brings statistics to life with colourful side stories and includes many helpful quizzes to enable the reader to gauge for themselves where their stress levels are at.

I particularly liked the Happy at Work tips. But mostly I  enjoyed the way the book moved along the subject never allowing the reader to consider whether there were better books out there as this book contains everything a stressed reader, or even someone wishing to help a person who is stressed,  maybe looking for in the way of practical suggestions and thought-provoking information. I highly recommend this book.”

~ Catherine Sloan, counselor

“Reading Stress Less brought me real inspiration to incorporate Cassandra’s stress-busting strategies into my daily routines. While it was not news to me to read there is a correlation between reduced stress levels and self-care, meditation, and not over- “boozing,” the book (and it’s revealing quizzes) really drove home to me the necessity of actually putting self-care into practice.

Cassandra effectively demonstrates how high-stress is largely self-perpetuated, and anyone can become empowered to free him or herself from stress-inducing patterns and environments. Stress Less is well-researched, full of helpful links for further reading, listening, and exploring, and is an easily navigable resource to which I am sure I will return.”

~Amy Stokes, editor

 

P.S.

Recently I was contacted by Kristina Mastrocola, an editor with Woman’s World magazine in the States with a circulation of over 1.6 million readers. She writes a weekly feature called “Ask the Ultimate Experts” for which she asks experts at the top of their respective fields for their tips and advice on everything from how to keep your brain young to how to lower your medical bills.

Kristina is writing about surprising ways to help readers reduce the high cost of medical care—something I am personally and professionally passionate about. So, I was thrilled to hear from her. She came across my book Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy on Amazon and said she would love to share a few of my tips and insights with her readers.

 We completed our interview last week, for an article due to hit stands in the States on the 8th of March. If you live in the States you may love to grab a copy—it will only be available in glossy print (not on the Web). For those readers not in the US Kristina has generously offered to provide a PDF I can share on my website. I’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime, I’m busy finishing the final draft of my book, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More, due for release 18 March. 

The Life-Changing Benefits of Unplugging

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

“Setting aside protected time each day for direct interaction with people—or for solitude and meditation without the interruption of a Facebook feed or a stream of texts—instinctively feels like a good thing.”
~ John Swartzberg, M.D.

“We’re suffering a sleep crisis,” warns Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and author of The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time. The chronic need to be “plugged in” is hurting our health, productivity, relationships, and happiness.
Are you suffering from information overwhelm? Are you permanently attached to your device? Does the thought of unplugging send your anxiety spiraling? What if you miss something? What if….what if…

What if you shut it all down and stepped away for a day, a week, a month or more? Consider taking time out to unplug, take a step back, forget about what is expected, forget about what you may be missing, and think about you may be gaining.

Like any addiction, unplugging can be a struggle at first, but the benefits are worth it. Besides the main benefit of being able to enjoy much more hassle-free, uninterrupted time, here are seven other wonderful and lesser-known upsides you’ll notice from making the decision to unplug regularly:

Increased awareness. When was the last time you were fully aware of the beauty that surrounds you? When you unplug you blitz major distractions. You begin to notice small details in people, things, and places that you never really noticed before.

Clarity. Unplugging reduced brain overload. Technological over stimulation overwhelms your mind, reducing your cognitive reasoning skills.

Improved memory retention and mood. Even just detoxing from technology for a day once a week is enough to give your brain a reboot, which can improve your memory and lift your mood.

More brain power. Spending less time being a slave to technological stimulation, provides more time to focus on doing activities that can grow your brain cells—such as indulging in an enjoyable hobby, learning a new skill, visiting a new place, having new experiences, going for a relaxing walk.

Enhanced relationships. Disconnecting from your perpetual tether to iPhones and laptops can do all kinds of great things for your real-world connections with families and friends.This is a no-brainer, but one so many people seem to miss. Putting your device away and giving the people you are with, rather than your device, your undivided attention tells people they’re important to you.

Enhanced productivity. Do you really need constant access to your social notifications, Facebook updates, your email inbox, a bunch of tabs open in your web browser and all sorts of other things to feel in touch and in control? Accumulating interruptions steals peace of mind and minimises your ability to get things done. Any time you’re interrupted from a work-related task by something from your phone or computer, it can take as long as 45 minutes for your brain to refocus.

Mindfulness. When something interesting starts happening, what’s your first reaction? Do you whip out your phone, start snapping photos and begin sharing on social media? Or do you savor the moment and delight in being in the moment? When you unplug, you force yourself to be more present.

“A natural side effect of unplugging is that you stop missing out on what you should be enjoying for yourself, rather than trying to tell everyone on social media about it,” says author Elise Moreau.

Are screens the problem or a symptom?

“It’s become part of our culture to think that being too plugged in’ and too dependent on our devices is the root of our problems, rather than a manifestation of other problems,” says John Swartzberg, M.D.

“Is constantly checking your phone during dinner with your family causing you to be less close to them? Or are you constantly checking your phone because it’s a convenient way to avoid conversations? Are you anxious and having trouble sleeping because you’re spending too much time online? Or are you spending lots of time online to try to tune out your anxiety?” Swartzberg asks.

None of this is to say that Swartzberg thinks it’s a good thing that so many of us are so constantly connected to our devices. “If we spend too much time staring at a screen, the life that is happening right in front of us—our kids’ childhoods, conversations with our partners, work that we can do to help make the world better—may just pass us by.”

Call to Action

Get to the heart of why you’re spending so much time connected to technology. Isolate the benefits and issues, and then make a call whether you need to schedule the time to unplug.
Learn polymath Tim Ferris’s 4 steps to lifestyle design: definition, elimination, automation, and liberation. Watch it here: http://bit.ly/1nTs7jq

 

 

This is an edited extract from Stress Less. Love Life More: How to Stop Worrying, Reduce Anxiety, Eliminate Negative Thinking and Find Happiness

by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy and learn how to stress less and love life more, click here to go to your online bookshop.

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