*

Archive for the 'love life more' Category

New Release and Free Giveaway: ‘I Have to Grow’

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

28 years ago today I created Hannah Joy! Giving birth to such a beautiful angel was, and continues to be my greatest achievement.

To celebrate Hannah’s birthday today my new release, ‘I have to Grow’ is my gift to you.

Download for FREE only on Amazon. But be quick. Today only!.

Click the universal link for Amazon here—getbook.at/IHavetoGrow

About this book

I originally wrote I Have to Grow twenty-four years ago when Hannah was four-years-old and was experiencing some very horrible bullying. When I look back, this really was my first book and heralded all those that followed with there focus on self-empowerment and overcoming shitty things that happen to good people.

Last week, following the galactic success of my own story of being bullied in The Little Princess, I prayed and prayed that I could find my original handwritten manuscript. I rated my chances as slim. After all, twenty-four years is a long time to keep pieces of paper. Thankfully, when it comes to keeping words that inspire me, I am a hoarder.

After tearing through my old filing cabinets in the garage I found it!

Thankfully, also, technology upgrades and advancements in publishing have made it so easy to share my creations with the world. I’ve made a few minor enhancements to the hand-written story and have also included some of my original hand-drawings for fun.

As you’ll see, my cover was cute but needed a professional’s touch.

Sing Your Song! Heed the Call for Courage

Feeling discouraged, bullied, sabotaged or held back?

Part moral allegory and part spiritual biography I Have to Grow is a timeless charm which tells the story of a young girl who leaves the security of playing small, to follow her heart and heal the world.

Little Hannah, is a beautiful and kind-hearted child, with a very special voice. When the cruel and jealous Angie tries to rob Little Hannah of her gifts she believes the answer is to stay small. But, things go from bad to worse.

Bullied and taunted Little Hannah doesn’t stand much of a chance. Until a magical creature appears and encourages her to stand tall and shine like a star.

As my good friend Vesna Hrsto, a Naturopath and Holistic Life Coach, said I Have to Grow is so fitting for any woman of any age. Always a good reminder to step up and become the woman we are meant to be, and always follow our Spirit for guidance as it will lead us to the best version of ourselves.

However, I Have to Grow has a universal, genderless, and ageless message too—which I’m thrilled about.

Such a powerful message.…

 This is a splendid little book for any person aspiring to reach another level, with such a powerful message. Of never, ever listening to anyone who steals your light. Cassandra is a shining example of turning every situation, including setbacks, into learning & growing opportunities.

As one who has taken advantage of the wisdom, knowledge & ability of Cassandra, to communicate, over a number of years, I would encourage you to read this book thoroughly & think deeply on your own situation.

For her daughter Hannah, with the voice of an angel & heart of God, you have indeed been blessed.”

~ Kenn Butler, CEO

 

Based on a true story

My daughter Hannah was born with an exceptional and innate gift which was later honed into an accomplished skill as a soprano singer.

But when my daughter was four the little girl next door told her that she couldn’t sing and that she had no talent.

When the little girl next door didn’t stop Hannah from singing, she tried to take something else from her. She cut Hannah’s beautiful long hair.

But guess what? Her hair grew back! And so did her talent!

Hannah’s talent grew and grew and grew—and it is still growing. As a teenager, she successfully auditioned for a place with Dame Malvina Major’s singing academy.

“She kept her eyes shut,” Hannah said enthusiastically, after her audition, “all the way through my song.”

Apparently, this was a good sign.

You can learn more about Dame Malvina’s passion to share her dream and help other gifted singers take their voices out to the world, here—http://www.dmmfoundation.org.nz/

Hannah decided not to pursue a career professionally as an international singer. But, as a hobby, she went on to enjoy a lot of success with her voice, including winning the lead role in a musical movie produced in Peter Jackson’s studio in Wellington.

Peter Jackson is best known as the director, writer, and producer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit trilogy. The fabulous New Zealand Symphony Orchestra played the background music.

Importantly, Hannah now uses her voice in the art of healing as a spiritual conduit and counselor—sending love songs to the world.

Many moons ago, Hannah and I enjoyed a magical time on the Pacific Island of Samoa. A newly married couple asked Hannah to sing and she gifted them a beautiful performance of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s, Ave Maria.

A European man was sailing his large yacht and heard her voice and came to shore. “I heard the voice of an angel,” he told us. I share more about this story in my travel memoir, Four Days Out of the World (to be released in 2019).

The European man’s feedback inspired my cover—Hannah as an angel.

When the resort owners in Samoa heard Hannah’s song, they asked her to sing for the whole resort. We found some old footage Hannah had saved on Youtube—https://youtu.be/tqri33bDzKU.

The video also has a wonderful performance of Hannah singing solo at Queen Margaret College.

 

src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/tqri33bDzKU” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen>

 

I hope by sharing Hannah’s story, you realize how important it is to share your gifts. Whether you have a talent for singing, helping others or solving puzzles—whatever it is that sparks joy within you is your gift.

You may or may not want to share it with the world but what matters most is to do what makes you happy and never ever listen to anyone who tries to steal your music.

Read to the end of I Have to Grow for an excerpt from the first book in this series—my #1 bestselling book The Little Princess. As a special thank you for reading my book I have also included an excerpt from my popular book How to Find Your Passion and Purpose. I’ve included some of my favorite chapters. Please note these aren’t in the order that they appear in the book.

To learn more about the inspiration behind this book and the series please subscribe to my blog. You may also enjoy my regular inspirational newsletters—with sneak peeks, advance reads and free giveaways. Be the first to know when the audio version is released!

Liberate the music inside

Life is about learning to have the courage, confidence, and self-belief to follow your inner voice, live your truth and share your gifts. It is also about reclaiming your power, not hanging back, playing second best and being discouraged.

Find and cherish your unique abilities and raise your voice to the heavens. Liberate the music you have inside. Share your song.

Reconnect with your magnificent soul self and don’t allow self-doubt or the envy of others to hold you back—you will reach your potential.

There are so many reasons why you should follow your dreams. If you need some inspiration, look no further than this book.

 

JOIN ME IN CELEBRATING HANNAH’S BIRTHDAY & DOWNLOAD FOR FREE TODAY ONLY

getbook.at/IHavetoGrow

This is a book for ‘kids’ of all ages—and super short for the time challenged!

P.S. if you come across this post too late and miss the free giveaway, you’ll be able to pick up a copy for less than a double-shot latte!

If you love I Have to Grow would you leave the ultimate gift and write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. It would be such a blast for Hannah to wake up and read how her story touched your heart.

 

Author’s Update! We Are Jumping For Joy

Thank you! As I write this post it’s Hannah’s birthday today and she’s woken up to the news that I Have to Grow, inspired by her experience of being bullied, is #1 on Amazon in all three categories. And important categories they are to Hannah too as they are all centered on spirituality.

Thank you to those of you who have downloaded and left reviews. Still free today – but only for the next three hours….my gift to the Universe for Hannah’s birthday.

 

 

 

If you are opened minded and curious about the power of sound to heal check out the following—https://youtu.be/5CAnnkx4eXQ. So much flow too, re this message about the ills of telling people they can’t sing, and the benefit of raising your voice.

You can connect with Hannah and find out how she has been inspired to use her voice for the well-being of others here—https://www.hannahjoyspirit.com

Grab your copy of the first book in the Transformational Super Kids series:

THE LITTLE PRINCESS

A Little Book with a Powerful Message…

Follow your heart!

Feeling stuck, depressed or demotivated? There are so many reasons why you should follow your dreams. If you need some motivation, look no further than this book.

Part moral allegory and part spiritual autobiography, The Little Princess is a timeless charm which tells the story of a young woman who leaves the safety of fitting in with everyone else, to follow her heart.

Be inspired by this journey to transformation and self-acceptance, and self-belief as she learns to overcome the vagaries of adult behavior. Her personal odyssey culminates in a voyage of self-belief, passion, and purpose.

Reader Reviews

 

“A Beautiful and Life Changing Message…

This book shares a powerful message for all women of any age, I wish I had this when I was growing up. Today more than ever, we have to stay true to ourselves, follow our Spirit and do the work we’re here to do – amidst disapproval and criticism. The simple steps in this book will guide your way, and help you to navigate through the confusion, uncertainty, and inner blocks, so you live your one precious life in a big way.”

~ Vesna Hrsto, Naturopath and Coach

The Little Princess is ‘brilliant.’

Short concise & full of tremendous vision & wisdom, expressed lovingly.

Many of the comments read true for my own journey. I recognize my passion to be different than many others, my persistence to succeed, & the pure joy I have at the end of each day when I lay down my head & give thanks.

~ Kenn Butler

Available Now in eBook and Paperback!

To purchase on Amazon>> 

getbook.at/TheLittlePrincess

To purchase the eBook on Apple, Barnes, and Noble, Kobo and other online stores>>

https://books2read.com/u/b5709p

Did you enjoy this post?

You might like:

New Release! The Little Princess

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

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

Hooked on A Feeling—Trust Your Gut to Choose and Grow Your Purposeful Business

Anxiety Rescue: How Coco Chanel and Leonardo da Vinci Can Help You Overcome Anxiety and Reclaim Youthful Joy

My story: how my dark nights of the soul awakened my passion and purpose

 

Here are three more things you might like:


Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.


Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.


Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.

You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

Violence, Killing, and Repression—The Stark Reminder of What It Costs to Be a Woman on Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

 

“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love, and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.”

~ Stevie Wonder

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. Yet, for me, Mother’s Day is a time of reflection—a time of honoring the difficult path many women have, and continue, to tread; and a time to agitate for a better future for mother’s and their children.

In some cultures when a girl is born families curse. Not so long ago in China, during the one-child policy (introduced in 1979), daughter’s were murdered, drowned or aborted. It was initially meant to be a temporary measure and is estimated to have prevented up to 400 million births since it was instituted.

How many of these babies who were never born were girls—and future mother’s?

The impact of this policy has had a detrimental impact on the Chinese population. This was both intended and unintended.

In the end, the reason for ending the policy for all Chinese citizens was purely demographical: too many Chinese were heading into retirement and the nation’s population has too few younger people entering the labor force to provide for their retirement, healthcare, and continued economic growth.

One of the unintended side effects of the one-child policy is that China is now the most gender-imbalanced country in the world due to a cultural preference for male offspring.

Some researchers estimate that there will be approximately 30 million more young men than women in China by 2020. This means millions of Chinese men may not be able to find wives.

The People’s Republic of China and its predecessors have a history of female infanticide spanning 2000 years.

Yet, here in the West, and in other countries, we should be wary of throwing stones when we live in glass houses of splintering atrocities toward women.

Supposedly in 2019, we have advanced. Technologically perhaps, but we a horrific legacy of violence against women. New Zealand is a world loss-leader in that regard. Yet we are not alone.

Acid throwing, breast ironing, dating abuse, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, foot binding, forced abortion, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, marriage by abduction, witch trials—the list of shame goes on.

Add to this bride burning, dowry death, honor killing, femicide, infanticide matricide. Then layer sexual assault, campus sexual assault, mass sexual assault, sexual violence, child sexual initiation, rape and pregnancy, human trafficking, violence against prostitutes, widow cleansing.

During my research for this post, I became more and more saddened. What is wrong with humanity, I wondered? How did we stray so far from the unity of all as one? The divine masculine wedded to the divine feminine—if not physically, then spiritually.

MALE SUPERIORITY?

During the Renaissance, and earlier, the idea that genius was the province of the male was heralded. And the notion spread.

When a son is born in many cultures it is a time of celebration. The inference being that the male as heir is of more economic value. Perhaps all this imbalance stems from the mythology of Adam and Eve and the constant retelling of a story and the laying of blame at the feet of a female for the death knell of humanity.

I have yet to see any concrete evidence for the truth of this tale.

It has always perplexed me why daughters who grow up to be mothers and who nourish a child (be the babe be male or female) for nine months in the most intimate of sanctum—their womb—mother’s are, by some, devalued, disrespected and desecrated.

Buddhists wrote that the killing of young girls would bring bad karma—that certainly seems to be the future potential for the Chinese.

Conversely, those who saved a young girl’s life either through intervening (or through presents of money or food) would earn good karma leading to a prosperous life, as well as long life and success for their sons.

The current Dalia Lama once said, “All beings come from a mother’s womb. We should have a clear realization of the oneness of all humanity.”

Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the feminine divine. It is the path of power. When we realize the power of what can happen when women, and in particular, mother’s, love and compassion for their children and how this makes a difference in their family’s life, we will value the ripple effect it can create within other families, and also an entire nation – and beyond.

It’s time to honor and value how mothers make an impact on the world, starting with our own family. Empower your kids to be kinder, more compassionate, more loving and make better choices in service of a more peaceful, prosperous and purposeful world.

As the Dalai Lama said, “The person who received maximum affection from mother, that person also sort of cultivated the potential showing affection to others.

Celebrate this Mother’s Day by valuing and taking care of yourself — and commit to continuing in this vein. It will have a ripple effect on your children’s health and wellbeing.

Teach your children to love and respect all peoples, regardless of gender or ethnicity. This is the way of power. This is the way of peace. This is the way it can, should, and must be.

  • I took this beautiful photo of Venus Verticordia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti while visiting an exhibition in Japan. Rossetti’s painting is a semi-nude depiction of the goddess Venus. Venus is also the goddess of love—as a Libran, Venus is also my ruling planet.In this painting, Venus is portrayed as a young woman with a golden halo and flowing auburn hair, surrounded by pink flowers in a dark, lush green garden. For me, this painting, complete with white and gold butterflies and the passionate pen, speaks of transformation—the retelling of the myth of Eve, the alchemy of telling new, more empowered stories in which the divinity of feminity is celebrated. Here’s to celebrating that this Mother’s Day—–and in those to come.

Restore Your Energy. Awaken Your Passions. Experience Freedom

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

 

I’m knackered! Are you?

Need a rest. Fed up of the daily grind (It’s non-stop, isn’t it?)
 
Life has gotten you a little fatigued, and you need to feel re-energised, right?
 
We feel rushed all the time. The ol’ waistline keeps expanding, along with the to-do list. But, if we’re being really honest, nothing on that list excites us anymore.
 
If this sounds all too familiar, then we have a very special invitation, just for you…

Register now for The Woman Reinvention Project
 
The Woman Reinvention Project is for those who are ready to have the life they desire



 

Is it time for you to reinvent yourself?

What if I told you there was a way to get exactly what you want out of your life? An easier way to:

  • Go from frazzled to fabulous
  • Get your sexy body back and maintain your perfect shape
  • Reclaim your authentic self as both a woman and mother
  • Re-find your libido & have healthy, satisfying sex (at any age!)
  • Have a more meaningful life, on every level

What if I told you there was a way to create your very own version of a have-it-all life, and you could create that life by doing less, instead of more?
 
Would you be interested in that?
 
Well, lovely, there IS a way, and this opportunity is just a click away.


The Woman Reinvention Project is an online summit that will connect you to the world’s most inspiring speakers over 21 days, from the 6th May – 27th May.


I’m so excited to be catching up again with my good friend, Vesna Hrsto is an Australian – Melbourne based, Naturopath who has made it her mission to reinvent the modern (busy), woman. She’s created this event for smart, driven women, just like you, who want to find more balance and get (so much) more out of life.

If you’ve read my Mid-Life Career Rescue series you’ll have read about Vesna’s amazing story of reinvention—from burned out and depressed to fired up and energized! In Mid-Life Career Rescue she shares her exact career reinvention strategy.

It’s not good enough to have a great career or family, when behind it all you’re rushing around ticking off your to-do list, feeling frustrated, unsatisfied and burnt out.
 
Doing it all, and putting yourself last, is so old! It’s time for a change!

Click here to Register for The Woman Reinvention Project.
 
Vesna has found the top experts on reinvention, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been interviewed.
 
I’ll be sharing the (online) stage with over 21 vibrant leaders – who have been featured on TedX, Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and more – sharing how to get your inner spark back and have you feeling radiant again.

Oh and did I mention this unique event is entirely FREE? That’s right, you pay nothing, no strings attached. Why? Because we believe every woman should be able to lead her life free of guilt, overwhelm or burn out.
 
But you have to hurry, this special event starts on Monday 6th May, grab your spot here.
 
I’d love you to join me in what promises to be a full 21 days full of rejuvenation, positivity, and inspiration. Take time for yourself to digest this material… you deserve it.


Put the 6th May-27th May 2019 in your diary now, and
register your free spot today:
 
 http://www.thewomanreinventionproject.com

 

Latest from my blog

Here’s a quick round-up of my 3 latest blog posts:

Anxiety Rescue: How Coco Chanel and Leonardo da Vinci Can Help You Overcome Anxiety and Reclaim Youthful Joy

Why ‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’: The All-encompassing Secrets to a Longer, Happier, Healthier Life

Discover Your Burning Desire in Life and Your Work with Cassandra Gaisford

As always, I hope you find something of value in them.

 

Enter & WIN!

Have you enjoyed one or several of my books? Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing force in the universe. If you found my books useful, I’d appreciate you leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. You don’t have to say much—just a few words about how the book made you feel or how it helped you learn something new.

I recently received these 5-star reviews on Amazon for my new release, Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy.

“Cassandra explores the nature of anxiety and the effect it has on our physical, emotional, and spiritual self. She draws on much of her research and writings from others of her self-help books. In true Cassandra Gaisford style of practical application – this book is for committed self-helpers.”

Catherine Sloan, Counsellor

“Cassandra’s book is for anyone interested in ending anxiety issues, but also, for those who seek deeper meaning in their lives. Anxiety Rescue covers a range of healing methods and a variety of topics, from self-acceptance to prosperity. It’s a book about total well-being. Cassandra restates the wisdom of Leonardo Da Vinci, Coco Chanel and other important historical and modern-day figures who have much to teach about authenticity and success. An uplifting, informative and inspirational work! I highly recommend Anxiety Rescue.”
 ~ Valeria Teles, author Fit For Joy 

Amazon reviews are really important for independent authors like me to receive—they provide a morale boost and important social proof to people trying to find good resources. 

Vesna and I will be talking about this book and the easy peasy strategies that will help you get your groove back on her Reinvention Summit)

If you would like to grab a copy of Anxiety Rescue Click here – getbook.at/AnxietyRescue

Thank you so much for leaving a review for my books.  I appreciate you!

Send me a screenshot of your review and go in the drawer to win a FREE copy of my newest release:

No! Why ‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’: How to Reclaim Your Life, Shine in the Sun, and Be Authentically You—getbook.at/NoTheNewYesBook

 

Client success story

I can’t tell you David’s real name as that would be breaching his privacy, but I can tell you that I am so stoked for him. He contacted me for help to give up drinking and he’s now two weeks sober. It may not seem like a long time but anyone who has gone from a binge-drinking habit to zero can tell you it’s not easy—especially in a culture that worships alcohol as much as we do here in New Zealand.

Armed with a copy of Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life) and sobriety coaching with me, he’s recovered his relationship and found his waistline again!

Mind Your Drink is 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

 

 

Did you enjoy this post?

You might like:

Anxiety Rescue: How Coco Chanel and Leonardo da Vinci Can Help You Overcome Anxiety and Reclaim Youthful Joy

Why ‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’: The All-encompassing Secrets to a Longer, Happier, Healthier life

Discover Your Burning Desire in Life and Your Work with Cassandra Gaisford

Here are three more things you might like:


Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.


Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.


Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.


You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

 

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to this blog and sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

Anxiety Rescue: How Coco Chanel and Leonardo da Vinci Can Help You Overcome Anxiety and Reclaim Youthful Joy

Monday, April 8th, 2019

 

Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty. ~ Coco Chanel

 

 

Like me, Coco Chanel loved to be surrounded by flowers and to spend time walking amongst, or gazing upon, nature to replenish.

“I often found her alone sitting at her dressing table, gazing down into the garden, looking at the chestnut trees,“ recounts Claude Delay, now an imminent psychoanalyst who once knew Coco in her youth.

We all know the physical benefits of nature—being amongst plants and flowers boosts mental well-being. A series of published studies have shown clear links between gardening and positivity.

One study found levels of the stress hormone cortisol in those who gardened were considerably lower those who people who relaxed by reading.

Even the simple act of looking out a window to green space has been linked to reduced stress levels and faster recovery from illness.

“The garden brings stillness,” says Lisa, a marketing executive who says she couldn’t have survived her working life without a garden.

“Touching the soil is one of the most reenergizing things I can do. Everything slows down. My mind works differently. I don’t set out to solve problems but the answers seem to come.  These days if ever I am stressed it will be because I haven’t been in the garden.”

Similarly, Cathy who suffers from anxiety and depression finds solace in a small vegetable garden she started behind her flat.

“When I become immobilized by my anxiety, the garden gives me something achievable to get started on. Gardening is methodical I can go out there and think, ‘What does my garden need?’ It could be as simple as pulling caterpillars off some broccoli. Tuning in to this helps me get more in touch with things outside of myself.”

As I share in my latest book, Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy, I have suffered from social anxiety a great deal of my life. Since my move to a lifestyle property immersing myself in nature has been one of my favorite rescue remedies. Just look at these wee beauties my partner and I grew and harvested this autumn.

 

 

Eating organics, time in nature, meditating daily and doing my best to stress less, are some of the many strategies I share in

 

As Coco said, Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty. This year I’m turning 54. Last year, when the photo was taken of me flying a with a friend I was 53. I think, all things considered, I do merit the face I have in my 50s. I don’t smoke, rarely drink, don’t take drugs and invest in wellbeing lifestyle strategies daily. I’ve worked hard and continue to work hard to be of service to myself and others—and to be of service to my vege garden.

 

Your Challenge

Experience the healing power of nature. Whether you’re blessed with green fingers or not, it doesn’t matter what you doing—just that you get outside in some green space every day.

Monitor how much time you spend indoors. Schedule regular fresh air time.

Beauty surrounds us, but usually,

we need to be walking in a garden to know it.

~ Rumi, Persian poet

 

My story—living well with anxiety

I’ve experienced some horror work experiences during my life and career—everything from toxic shaming, acute bullying, and being physically threatened. As recently as last year, I experienced the ruthless, underhand, malicious tactics of a narcissistic woman who tried to destroy my career.

Unsurprisingly, all of these experience increased my anxiety levels. Had I not trained to be a therapist and invested so much time and energy in self-care and resilience strategies I’m not sure I could have coped. Many of these strategies, and those that have helped my clients, I share in Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy

For most of my childhood, and well into my adulthood, I suffered from what I now know was social anxiety. For many, many years it remained undiagnosed and untreated.  Were it not for the wise counsel of a psychic when I was in my teens who encouraged me to turn my wounds into healing by training to become a counselor, I may still be suffering silently. Yes, folks, there is such a thing as the ‘helpers high.’ Helping others feels good.

The source of my anxiety can be attributed in part to narcissistic abuse and toxic shaming. Some healers have attributed it to a past-life trauma that I carried forward into this life. They told me that I walk the path of jealousy and that relationships are my greatest challenges, but also my most powerful avenue of healing.

You may not believe in past lives or reincarnation and you do not need to in order to benefit from the help contained within this book and others in the Anxiety Rescue series.

But, in the spirit of authenticity, it feels important to share how I have experienced much healing by journeying into the mystery of mysteries—both the body’s and the soul’s journey. It is for this reason, amongst others that I have devoted a whole section to spiritual health.

I learned later in life, and continue to learn, that healing my family trauma and helping others is my soul purpose in this lifetime.

My purpose can be summed up in one word—love.

To help others love and be loved in return, including self-love and valuing ourselves more than the poisons we may have ingested from people, experiences, circumstances, as we go through this lifetime, is a great joy.

However, it took me many years to find the gift of my anxiety. My hope is that by writing Anxiety Rescue, I may speed up this journey for you.

My anxiety was so bad for most of my teens I tried to drink my way to confidence and numb my anxious feelings with alcohol. In fact, for many years I was so acutely self-conscious I wore green foundation under my makeup to try to hide my blushing face.

People used to call me ‘beetroot’ and laugh at me. I was also mercilessly body shamed during my childhood and teenage years. Honestly, for so much of my life all I wanted to do was hide. Often I didn’t care if I lived or died.

Anxiety will do that to you—until you befriend it and learn what it wants you to know.

When I was planning my wedding in my late twenties,  I wanted a table down the back where no one could see me. Have you ever been to a wedding where the bride wanted to hide?

That’s why, untreated, anxiety is so cruel. It can make us want to stay in the shadows. It can prevent us from standing in the light. Anxiety left unchallenged can deny us from acknowledging our gifts. It can also leave us splintered, in denial or fear or shame, of those aspects of our personality we need to wield from time to time—but have been taught to devalue and deny.

Saying no to denying who we really are and who we truly want to be and showing up, warts and all reduces anxiety. Self-acceptance and integration of the polarities within us—the light and the dark, the fear and the courage, the sadness, and the anger, the anger and the joy, and the other dualities that, unless befriended wage war within, is the road to inner peace.

We’ll dive deeper into the value of integrating shadow work in Anxiety Rescue.

For many years I didn’t live authentically. I tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to be someone else. I tried to be who others wanted me to be. Sometimes this was an act of self-preservation driven by fear. Often it was a mistaken belief about my value and the value of my gifts.

As I’ve shared in many of my other self-empowerment books, I was once told that I had the soul of an artist. Actively discouraged in childhood, for a long time I’d closed off that side of me. I began my career as a bank teller, then as an accountant, then as a recruitment consultant, followed by more ‘business-minded’ careers.

Each time I went further and further away from who I truly was and the things that gave me joy.

As you’ll discover in Anxiety Rescue, reclaiming joy and living on purpose is a powerful antidote for anxiety. It offers holistic, integrated healing on so many levels—mind, body, and soul.

Recently, in my early fifties, I was been diagnosed with generalized trauma. All I can say is “Wow! What a relief!”

No wonder life has felt such a struggle,

Generalized trauma is similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, except that rather than being caused by one traumatic event, it covers a multitude of traumatic events.

Essentially, as Dr. Diane Langberg, Clinical Psychologist and Co-Leader of the Global Trauma Recovery Institute,  says if you suffer generalized trauma you’ve effectively been marinated in trauma from an early age.

Talk about toxicity in the body.

I count myself lucky. Which may surprise you. But as you’ll discover in Anxiety Rescue, when we befriend our anxiety we can find great fulfillment, purpose, and joy.

As the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi once said, “Our wounds are where the light comes in.”

Light, love, kindness, hope—these positive energies provide the healing balm we all need.

My trauma,  my anxiety, and my depression have led me to my Dharma or my purpose in life. My hope is that all that I share in Anxiety Rescue will help you too.

Much love to you

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this wee edited excerpt from Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy.

Midlife can be magic—it’s largely determined by you. We can make midlife a mess or we can invest in creating something truly remarkable. If anxiety, depression, despair or any other cloud of negativity is robbing you of the life you truly want, take heart. There is a cure.

Join me in learning the success strategies of successful men and women throughout time—including two of my favorite muses, Leonardo da Vinci and Coco Chanel.

 

 

Praise for Anxiety Rescue

“Cassandra’s book is for anyone interested in ending anxiety issues, but also, for those who seek deeper meaning in their lives. Anxiety Rescue covers a range of healing methods and a variety of topics, from self-acceptance to prosperity. It’s a book about total well-being. Cassandra restates the wisdom of Leonardo Da Vinci, Coco Chanel and other important historical and modern-day figures who have much to teach about authenticity and success. An uplifting, informative and inspirational work! I highly recommend Anxiety Rescue.”

~ Valeria Teles

Author of Fit For Joy

 

“Cassandra explores the nature of anxiety and the effect it has on our physical, emotional, and spiritual self. She draws on much of her research and writings from others of her self-help books. In true Cassandra Gaisford style of practical application—this book is for committed self-helpers.”

~ Catherine Sloan

Counselor

 

“Lighthearted and uplifting! Anxiety Rescue is a book with a catalog of ideas, intertwined with the historical endeavors of Leonardo da Vinci and Coco Chanel. Learning about these two people while navigating how to rid my life of anxiety was fun and playful. I’m grateful to the author for taking this approach as I feel like I have a path that can easily be followed now. I highly recommend this book!”

~ Chelsea Behrens

Creator of Leading with Authenticity

#1 in Four Categories

 

 

 

This is an edited extract of Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy by Cassandra Gaisford. To order a copy for less than the price of coffee and cake go to Amazon:

US—https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NKV6K9K

UK—https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NKV6K9K

or your local Amazon store.

FREE for Subscribers of Kindle Unlimited

Did you enjoy this post?

You might like:

 Destiny Decided: The Minute That Changed My Life—2018 in Review

 My story: how my dark nights of the soul awakened my passion and purpose

How to Develop More Grit and Perseverance – Consult the Oracle

Does talk therapy actually work?

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

 

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to this blog and sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

 

Here are three more things you might like:


Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.


Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.


Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

Celebrating the life and legacy of an extraordinary man—Graeham William Gaisford

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

 

My dad would have been 85 today, being born as he was on the 3rd of April 1934.   Sadly he died too young, aged a little over 70, on the 26th of June 2004.

It is to my father that I owe my love of research and a deep commitment to, and interest in, alternative forms of healing—now commonly known as (and increasingly accepted by those against ‘non-conventional’ medicine and forms of treatment) as holistic health.

Graeham William Gaisford, was born in Palmerston North 1934; and married my mother nee Joy Lynette Fairweather in 1964, a year before I was born. They divorced when I was a teenager. My father never remarried, although he was never short of lady friends— – being as dashing and charismatic and educated as he was.

His mother Norma Gwynneth – was a horse breeder and trainer. His father, Edward Claude Gaisford, was a distinguished landowner (b. 1891) who lost his wealth, as did so many, during the depression years. His father had a very aristocratic lineage which linked back to the Duke of Bedford in the UK and beyond (also including John R. Purvis, C.B.E who is based in Scotland and has been compiling our family tree. My father was very proud of his lineage. I suspect this is why the pursuit of knowledge and a commitment to education was so important to him.

 

Below are scans of photos my mum just sent me. Oh, makes my heart glad and sad at the same time. If he hadn’t smoked two-three packets of Pall Mall filter daily perhaps he would still be with us.

 

 

Funnily, in 1992 John Purvis wrote to my father to congratulate him on the birth of his first grandchild, my daughter, Hannah Joy Gaisford. As he wanted to update the family tree he enquired, “Did Cassie get married or is she one of those very modern woman?!”

 

I can confirm, yes, I am one of those very modern women.

 

I still have the letter John Purvis wrote to my father, sent via airmail from Scotland 27 years ago, and I can still smell the smoke from my father’s fire which burned through summer and winter (as he always enjoyed the heat).

He pursued many careers in his life—all of them entrepreneurial. One of his businesses was installing central heating. Did I mention he loved the heat?! So it is to my father that I also gain my own entrepreneurial streak (and love of the warmth). When he passed (of heart failure) his death certificate recorded him as a natural therapist.

As I shared in several of my books, his childhood was not the easiest. My dad suffered the trauma of emotional neglect. He was dumped in a boarding school when he was only four—supposedly for his highest good. He never truly knew his father, and very rarely spent time with him, in part because his father also died young. Astoundingly, he only found out a year or so before his death (in his 70s) that he had a half-sister (on his father’s side)—Pamela Enid Charlotte Gaisford.

Happily, for me, my father was an optimist. He never turned to booze or drugs. I am blessed to have also inherited his optimism and resilience. In our family, when you get knocked down you jump back up again—and you help others do the same.

My father dedicated his later years to helping others and was an early pioneer in the field of apitherapy. As Wikipedia so excellently sums up, “Apitherapy is a branch of alternative medicine that uses honey bee products, including honeypollenpropolisroyal jelly, and bee venom. Proponents of apitherapy make claims for its health benefits which remain unsupported by evidence-based medicine. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apitherapy.)”

The last line (“health benefits which remain unsupported by evidence-based medicine”) is especially pertinent to my father. He was a tireless campaigner who fought to have alternative approaches to healing accepted by the medical establishment. Many of the treatments that were then regarded as unconventional, ‘woo-woo’ cures —including acupuncture, are now widely accepted, and in many cases have been validated using evidence-based techniques. In large part, it is not that the cures did not work, it is the humankind lacked the technology to evidence or measure the results.

 

I am proud to continue his tireless campaign today in my holistic, health and wellness-based approach to my work as a holistic therapist, energy healer, Reiki Master, and self-empowerment author who is not afraid to challenge the status quo.

 

My father once said to me, “I raised you to speak the truth.”

 

He was responding to my suggestion that he try to master the art of diplomacy to better have his messages heard by those he sought to influence. I know realize the importance of not diluting your message to appease others. At his funeral my daughter sang the one song I felt summed up my father’s philopshy—Frank Sinatra’s, My Way. I still tear up when I hear this song.

Just look at these wonderful lyrics:

“My Way” Frank Sinatra

 

And now, the end is near,

And so I face the final curtain.

My friends, I’ll say it clear;

I’ll state my case of which I’m certain.

I’ve lived a life that’s full –

I’ve travelled each and every highway.

And more, much more than this,

I did it my way.

 

Regrets? I’ve had a few,

But then again, too few to mention.

I did what I had to do

And saw it through without exemption.

 

I planned each charted course –

Each careful step along the byway,

And more, much more than this,

I did it my way.

 

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew,

When I bit off more than I could chew,

But through it all, when there was doubt,

I ate it up and spit it out.

I faced it all and I stood tall

And did it my way.

 

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried,

I’ve had my fill – my share of losing.

But now, as tears subside,

I find it all so amusing.

 

To think I did all that,

And may I say, not in a shy way –

Oh no. Oh no, not me.

I did it my way.

 

For what is a man? What has he got?

If not himself – Then he has naught.

To say the things he truly feels

And not the words of one who kneels.

The record shows I took the blows

And did it my way.

 

Yes, it was my way.

 

In his later years, my father also pioneered the introduction into the West of an alternative way to treat severe burns. This treatment known as MEBO (Moist Emulsion Burns Ointment) was created and used successfully in China. Sadly, and frustratingly for him, his attempts to have MEBO accepted and used widely by the medical professional was thwarted by people he said openly, “had small minds and were ignorant to the innovations of China.”

 

How times have changed. Now it seems everyone is scrambling to befriend China.

Times had also changed leading up to my father’s death when a man I had been dating and whom I considered a friend that I introduced to my father betrayed him. My father later wrote to me, blaming me for the introduction and Glenn’s subsequent treacherous behavior. I had hoped that Glenn’s less ‘abrasive’ ability to influence and negotiate desired outcomes would complement my father’s selfless desire to serve others and offer healing to those severely affected by burns. However, Glenn went behind mine and my father’s back and negotiated the rights to market and distribute MEBO in Australasia. (My friends, and also his neighbours told me that Glenn had told them not to tell me that he was planning a secret mission to China – which would seem to confirm the attempt to deceive was deliberate.

My father had been relying on the old-school gentlemen’s agreement he had made with the Chinese of a verbal agreement and a handshake—and of course the tireless and unpaid work of some eight years on Mebo’s behalf.

As you will see from the copy of the letter below, Glenn stripped my father of his right to license Mebo and then attempted to humiliate him by offering him a role as a salesman—under Glenn’s rule. That was not the spirit of partnership I had envisioned and my father always blamed me for introducing him to a person he believed to be an unscrupulous rogue. It is something I do regret.

As I share in my book The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life,  Leonardo da Vinci once warned to be wary of others motives for they will betray you and conveniently forget your value

 

 

Glenn Charlett promised the Chinese that he would do what my father was unable to do—namely to have MEBO accepted by the Ministry of Health. To my knowledge (as they write here (https://www.mebo.co.nz/pages/about-us) at the time of writing this memorial post, this has still NOT been achieved. It is marketed and sold as a cosmetic treatment and appears to be failing to reach many of the people my father sought to heal and relieve of severe burns trauma. Glen also promised to deliver a share of profits to my father. This has not been delivered.

 

While preparing this post I came across some records from that time when, after my father had made me aware of Glenn’s actions, I had tried to intervene and ask Glenn to do the right thing. I had quite forgotten the threats he made to me and his hostility. My notes are somewhat scrambled as I was completely flawed by Glenn’s tirade of abuse and threats.

 

Perhaps as my father suggests, it is time for something to be done.

At least, to share the truth.

Given the lack of integrity and disrespect shown to my father, upon the news of my father’s death it was heartening to receive a telegram from the Chinese saying that my father was a true Communist—motivated only by helping his fellow man. I suspect they were unaware of what had truly occurred. I have been led to believe Glenn Charlett assured them that my father was being looked after. They did, however, write to him asking him to desist from being the voice of MEBO and helping people.

 

Whatever your definition or experience of communism may be, or your views on what transpired and what I have shared, several people who wrote to my family after the funeral shared the following sentiments expressed by a journalist:

 

“Though I was sometimes somewhat skeptical of Graeham’s various causes and claims, as journalists tend to be—I could not help but be deeply impressed by his passion and commitment to his cause—to improve the health of his fellow human beings.

“He was charming, witty—stubborn and bull-headed at times—but dogged and utterly genuine. I interviewed many people in my dozens of years of journalism but he stood out as someone who was so colourful, larger than life and truly memorable. An extraordinary man.

“I offer my condolences to his family at his passing ad salute someone who sought to change the world for the better.

Yours sincerely

Rachel Forde.”

 

As Rachel also wrote in her letter,

“I came to know Graeham a number of years ago when I was working as the health reporter for the Manawatu Evening Standard in Palmerston North.

I wrote many stories on Grahem’s campaign to have his Chinese-developed burns treatment recognized in New Zealand—though probably not as many as he would have liked.”

 

Yes, I too, have inherited my father’s dogged persistence.

Today, I celebrate my father’s life and the legacy he instilled in me, the lives he impacted (including those he healed of arthritis and cured with his burns treatment, and the gifts of his values and heritage that have passed to my own daughter, Hannah Joy who continues his work as a healer. www.hannahjoyspirit.com
Spirit Conduit and Intuitive Healing Coach. My father would love that Hannah has followed this intuitive path, taken as he was with all things mystical and loving as did many women he affectionally referred to as “white witches.”

Dad’s Obituary Saturday, July 3, 2004

 

 

Interestingly, below my father’s obituary is a call to action from the New Zealand Alcohol Helpline. This month I released my newest book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My father loved to fly, my hope is now that he has the full breadth of the heavens, and the liberation of being freed from small minds, that his soul may truly soar.

 

The image below is one I took recently of a bee enjoying the nectar from a flax bush here in The Bay of Islands. My good friend, and fellow artist, Max Gimblett, once encouraged me to compile a selection of my photos into a book and combine with sage words from a poet or philosopher I admire.

Finally, some eight or so years later I have done just that. Flower Power is available in a beautiful hardcover edition here—http://www.blurb.com/b/9038272-flower-power.

I first published after my mother has received her copy as a mother’s day gift. It is right that she should be the first as she has blessed me with her artistic talent, an entrepreneurial streak, and her independent and resilient spirit.

My mother was the first to encourage me to make money from my art and one of my early memories was of creating French-style colour washed surrounds for large floor-length mirrors which I sold through interior design stores and also Kirkcaldie and Stains (then a premier department store in Wellington, New Zealand—now replaced by the Australian retailing giant David Jones). I may have been dissuaded from studying art at high school, but I shall always appreciate being encouraged to master the art of business.

Above is a sample of Flower Power when it was in the creation stage. The finished version, complete with poetry from the ancient Islamic poet Rumi, is available in a beautiful hardcover edition here—http://www.blurb.com/b/9038272-flower-power.

My daughter also sent me these sage words of wisdom from Brene Brown—as they speak to truth, they are especially poignant.

Thanks Dad—for creating such an inspiring legacy and for the gift you gave us all—an enquiring mind, an education to feed it and the freedom to speak our truth. Not all Dad’s give this to their daughters.

 

Did you enjoy this post?

You might like:

 Destiny Decided: The Minute That Changed My Life—2018 in Review

 My story: how my dark nights of the soul awakened my passion and purpose

How to Develop More Grit and Perseverance – Consult the Oracle

Does talk therapy actually work?

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

 

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to this blog and sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

 

Here are three more things you might like:


Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.


Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.


Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.
You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

Why ‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’: The All-encompassing Secrets to a Longer, Happier, Healthier life

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Like me, do you struggle with saying, ‘No’? Does people-pleasing, guilt or some other control strategy prevent you from doing and saying what’s truly best for you?

It’s amazing how such a tiny but liberating word can sometimes be so difficult to voice.

Everything in our world is made up of positive and negative charges, which together make a whole. You have been guided to choose this book by your soul because you are ready to question long held-beliefs and make choices in alignment with your sacred path.

By consciously affirming the Holy Trinity of yes’ you will move to the next level of conscious awareness.

No is a word of strength, and yes is the road to peace, purpose, and prosperity.

Yes, yes, yes. Set your intention on this day and forever more.

My new release, No! Why ‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’  will empower you with the life-enhancing ability to step into your authentic power.

Yes!Yes!Yes!

No! Why ‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’  is short on words but big on ideas and huge on transformational change.

This year I set an intention to say ‘no’ to procrastination and perfectionism and yes to releasing one new book every month. And so far, I’m on track. And guess what—achieving intentions feels great! Yes, yes, yes—it feels awesome!!!

At the time of writing this post we’re three months through 2019—what New Year intentions did you set? How are you tracking? Perhaps you’re like me, or Catherine who also needed to say ‘no’ to perfectionism and procrastination. Or Tim Ferris who needed to master the art of saying ‘no’ to FOMO and other things that distracted him from his goals.

“I’ve been burned enough times by FOMO-based and ego-based decision-making to know that I’ll always regret choosing to do something for the wrong reason,” Tim once said.

I share more of his tips in this book.

Or perhaps you can identify with Ces who lost his beloved wife Rolin to invasive cancer…and every day says ‘no’ to giving up the will to live without her…

…and who said “Yes, yes, yes I’d buy that book” because he still needs to get better at saying no. (Especially to the insensitive person who, as Ces’s wife lay dying, told Ces he needed to stop using his wife’s illness as an excuse.) Perhaps what Ces needed to say, “You know what? No, I can’t do your job. It’s a no because you care only about yourself—not me, or what I might be going through.”

Discover how this one little word will change your life.

Available in eBook and Print from Amazon here—getbook.at/NoTheNewYesBook

You can also use this link to download or scroll through sample chapters to see if this book is for you.

What others are saying

“No! Why ‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’: How to Reclaim Your Life, Shine in the Sun, and Be Authentically You is a beautiful collection of important parts of ourselves, our lives, how we live in this world and how we live with ourselves and with each other. 

Each page is dedicated to one thing we often say no to that keeps us stuck or hurt or procrastinating and turns the No into a vibrant Yes. 

Cassandra has again proven herself as the Warrior Woman of Positive Living, Loving, and Being. She reminds us to live in our truth with love compassion and boundless energy for the joy of life.”

~ Catherine Sloan, counselor

 

 

 

Reclaim Your Life, Shine in the Sun and be Authentically You

Available in eBook and Print from Amazon here—getbook.at/NoTheNewYesBook

Discover Your Burning Desire in Life and Your Work with Cassandra Gaisford

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

 

 

“Midlife is the Best Life!”

— Lori Ivy Massicot

Would you like to make a midlife career change? Have you been laid off and struggling to find a new job? Are you tired of your soul-sucking day job?  Are your passions not being met in your day-to-day life? Are you ready to unleash your burning desire and find the secret that you don’t want to admit? Do you believe you can’t do anything else?

 

Discover Your Burning Desire in Life and Your Work

I was so honored to have been contacted by Lori after she discovered my sobriety book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life)

“I love your book,” Lori shared when she reached out to me. “Thank you for writing it.”

Lori is the host of the podcast, To 50 & Beyond. Her inspiring show shares the joy of sobriety and celebrates women in the middle of life. She talks about topics that empower women to change what isn’t working in their lives and become better than ever in their 40s, 50s and beyond.

 

It’s a passion and purpose we both share.

As I write in all my self-empowerment books when passions collide magic happens. Passion is energy and love attracts.

 

Lori helps women over 40 stop overdrinking and numbing out with alcohol to feel better, look better, and live a happy, healthy life free from guilt, shame, and regret; to 50 & Beyond. She has the ultimate career combo weaving her passions into love and service inspired offerings—coach, podcaster, entrepreneur, and expert in sobriety and lover of all things midlife.

Like me, she believes in the power of women in the middle of life.

“I know that you can harness control over your life to live out your wildest dreams so that you don’t leave anything on the table of life. How do I know? Because I’m living my dreams today, and if I can do it, you can too.”

Lori invited me to be a guest on her popular show and talk about my book Mid-Life Career Rescue and how it can help women get out of jobs and careers they feel stuck in and move forward in the middle of life.

“I would have loved to hear this episode when I was in a j.o.b. for twenty years that sucked the life out of me.” ~ Lori said. “It’s is an episode of EMPOWERMENT and one that I would have loved before I was laid off in 2007.”

Some of the many things we talk about is that it’s never too late to become who you were meant to be and how to find your burning desire in life and in your work.

Lori was stuck in a job she didn’t like for over twenty years and it was one she says she was not suited to. She says she was so happy she finally got laid off.

If you’ve read my midlife career rescue series of books you’ll know my story of being so stressed and ill with shingles, while I wasn’t pushed, I knew I had to leap. The environment was so toxic, my values were conflicted every day, many people were selfish and mean (some were great!). I’d lost my confidence and I’d lost my hope.


But I was determined to survive. I share how I and other midlifers who felt trapped in jobs they hated discovered our burning desire, our spark—and found what we were meant to do.

“The Mid-Life Career Rescue books came to me at just the right time—at a really low time, with a LIFE decision to make, not just a career decision. Hearing from others in a similar situation that there was life after a toxic work environment allowed me to see light at the end of the tunnel and know that everything would be okay.”

~ Cate Walker

Everything will be okay! Check out the latest episode of the To 50 & Beyond podcast with my friend, Lori Ivey Massicot to learn how to discover your burning desire—before it’s too late.

Topics discussed:

How to discover what your burning desire is

How to find and commercialize your natural knacks and talents

Falling in love with self-doubts, fears, and failings

How to be who you are and who you truly want to be in your 50’s, 60’s, 70’, and beyond!

 

Go to my media page to find Lori’s link and listen to the show. Be sure to share with anyone else who needs to be inspired, encouraged, and heartened. http://www.cassandragaisford.com/media/

 

 

 

Did you enjoy this post?

You might like:

How to Create a Passion-driven Career or Business—Fourteen Individuals Tell You Their Stories of Transformational Change

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

Hooked on A Feeling—Trust Your Gut to Choose and Grow Your Purposeful Business

Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies That Work

From Chained to the Office, to Freedom in the Country—How to Manifest Your Dream Career or Business

 

Here are three more things you might like:


Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.


Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.


Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.

For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

 

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to this blog and sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

New Release! Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

New Release!

Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy

 

Uplifting Relief. End Anxiety and Panic Attacks. Embark on a Life-Changing, Scientifically Proven Fast-Track to Happiness—in Only Minutes a Day!

Are you driving through life with the handbrake on? Is anxiety, fear, stress, or depression preventing you from finding happiness and achieving your fullest potential?

Is anxiety preventing you from having the ultimate career, loving relationship, excellent health?

End fear. Stop crippling anxiety and panic attacks now… easily and naturally—medication-free.

 

 

 

From the best-selling author of Mid-Life Career Rescue, Stress Less and How to Find Your Passion and Purpose, a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about boosting resilience, overcoming obstacles and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks. Everyday problems solved by history’s most remarkable men and women. Fresh, fun, perspectives to help you tame anxiety, manage stress, overcome depression, change careers—and more.

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

Gently, conversationally, and with humor, Anxiety Rescue offers actionable strategies for seeing and thinking differently. For many people, the approach is nothing less than transformational. More than a collection of thoughts for the day, Anxiety Rescue offers a progressive program of holistic—mental, emotional, physical and spiritual—study, guiding you through essential concepts, themes, and practices on the path to well-being, joy, and happiness.

Bestselling author, award-winning artist, holistic therapist, and creativity expert Cassandra Gaisford (BCA, Dip Psych) shares strategies that have worked for her personally through many of her own life challenges, and for her clients in her professional work as a holistic therapist and self-empowerment coach.

If you suffer from generalized anxiety and panic attacks

If you suffer from stress or burnout

If you lack confidence or self-esteem or fear failure……

If you’re a perfectionist or find the challenges of life overwhelming…

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

Anxiety Rescue is the ultimate prescription and medication free cure. Gaisford reveals in six easy steps:

✓         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 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 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…

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.

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 resources made available to keep you happy, healthy, motivated and focused.

Dig into this book and let Leonardo da Vinci and Coco Chanel and other successful men and woman be your mentors, inspiration, and guides as they call forth your passions, purpose, and potential.

Say YES to happiness NOW! It’s never too late to end anxiety and follow your joy to live a life you love.

 

“Cassandra explores the nature of anxiety and the effect it has on our physical, emotional, and spiritual self. She draws on much of her research and writings from others of her self-help books. In true Cassandra Gaisford style of practical application – this book is for committed self-helpers.”

~ Catherine Sloan, Counsellor

 

Available Now 

Amazon: getbook.at/AnxietyRescue

 

ENJOY the First Three Chapters FREE—click here>>

Be your own boss: how to manifest your dream of running a holistic business from home

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

Passion unites!

Mollie MathewsIs your job stressing you out? Do you dream of running your own holistic, location independent business? As you know, I’m passionate about helping people change careers and create businesses they love and still pay the bills!

If you share my passion for helping others and are seeking work that is fulfilling, financially rewarding and flexible becoming a career and life coach may be just what you have been looking for!

Work with passion and purpose! Become an accredited life coach.

As well as being an award-winning artist and bestselling authors I’m also the director of Worklife Solutions—we train passionate, purposeful people to become career and life coaches and I mentor counselors and life coaches to level up their business.

Manifest your dream of running a holistic business from home.  Learn more here >> http://www.worklifesolutions.nz/coach-training/

What others say…

I have always been passionate about empowering and motivating others and when I learned about life coaching as a career I knew it was something I was being drawn to pursue.

As you can imagine, a google search for life coaching courses brought up hundreds of providers all with their own content of what they believed life coaching to be.

I was lucky enough to come across Worklife Solutions and their Certified Life Coaching Course. I sent through an email requesting information as I had through other providers, but was pleasantly surprised when I received a response from Cassandra and not someone employed to help with enrolments/course advice, I found her to be very warm and helpful in answering all my questions.

As a mum and student I was looking for flexibility, content that would really help me develop my skills and confidence as a life coach, a personalised approach and for me to be able to learn from someone who not only has the skills and qualifications in the field of Life Coaching but tons of experience too.

The one on one mentoring was what really sold me as I will not have to contend with a large group of other students. And will be able to use that time to perfect the skills I learn in a way that some online courses could never assist. I am confident that with this course alongside Cassandra’s mentoring that I am on my way to my dream career as a life coach.

My Mid Life Crisis and Becoming a Coach

I was in my mid-30’s, a single parent, holding down a steady job when I started my first business, Worklife Solutions (worklifesolutions.co.nz). I was worried and fearful that I’d fail, but I did it anyway. It’s one of the most creative, joyful endeavors I’ve ever done. Since then I’ve created many more businesses and helped people all over the globe become successfully self-employed.

It’s hard to believe that I was ever an employee, feeling trapped and miserable in a job that gave me zero flexibility, capped my income and shackled my independence.

I know what it’s like to reach the middle of your life and yearn for something better, but wonder if you have what it takes to make it on your own. I was a single parent, with no one else to pay my mortgage. I wanted more time and freedom to balance child-care with my own desire to have control over my own destiny. And I wanted my income to be determined by my own efforts, not by the mood or whims or dictates of a boss. I wanted to be in control, riding the winds of fortune and navigating the fluctuating economic landscape.

More than that I wanted to rekindle my passion and creativity in both the workplace and home. And I wanted to make a living doing the work I felt born to do.

I was uncertain about how I could employ myself and create a coaching business I’d love with such a passion, that one day I would say, “This isn’t work; this is fun.” But it did happen, and it can happen for you too.

I’m not a risk-taker. Not a reckless, foolishly optimistic one anyway. I was afraid like you might be. I doubted anyone would hire me, or that I could convince others to buy my products and services. I worried that if I severed the safety chord of a regular wage I may not be able to pay my mortgage.

I’d lost my confidence, and worse, I’d lost my self-esteem, trading in my health and happiness for the ‘security’ of a regular pay cheque. I had a mortgage to feed, and a daughter to support on my own, and so I boxed on. But I never gave up on my dream.

I started feeding my soul by reading books by, and about, inspired entrepreneurs. I subscribed to entrepreneurial magazines and devoured articles. (Back then podcasts and YouTube weren’t alive and streaming.) I drew up a list of benefits I felt I’d gain from being self-employed, and trained myself to focus my mind and heart on what I hoped for, not what I feared.

I calculated my hourly rate as an employee and quickly realized I could work less hours and earn more if I employed myself. The final push I needed to take the leap came when my friends, who were turning fifty, encouraged me to join them on a girls trip to Italy. My boss turned down my application to go on leave. “You’re needed here,” she scolded.

“I quit,” I replied. And I haven’t looked back.

I share my personal story from stressed out salary-slave to self-employed nirvana in my Mid-Life Career Rescue series—check out my boxset – 4 books for one! Great value! Mid-Life Career Rescue Series Box Set (Books 1-4):The Call For Change, What Makes You Happy, Employ Yourself, Job Search Strategies That Work—getbook.at/CareerRescueBox4

Self Employed Bliss – Be Happy: Work With Passion

I have more freedom, work-life balance, creative control and autonomy, and greater work security as a self-employed worker. I get to choose the work I will or won’t do. I earn more than I did having my salary capped as an employee, but  I love what I do with such a passion that I would do it for free. “That wasn’t work, that was fun,” I said to a client recently

If you feel like I once did, wondering if being your own boss will ever happen for you, help is at hand. If you fear that if you leave a job you hate, you won’t be able to pay the bills, my latest book, Mid-life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself will help you start smart.

If you’ve bought into the mistaken belief that owning your own business will cost a bomb, or wreak havoc with your work-life balance, this book will set you straight. If worrying about the taxman or legal stuff is putting you off starting a business, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Or perhaps you worry running your own business will be all-consuming. If so you’ll love the section, “Burnout Blitz.”

If you dream of being happy and working with passion and joy, I encourage you to consider taking a calculated and inspired leap into self-employed bliss.

Self-employment is an excellent option for Mid-lifers

While some employers may consider your age or wealth of experience to be a liability, that same experience is an asset when you are running your own show.

Prospective clients and customers care more about the value you can provide than they do about your age. And running your own business can also offer you the freedom, flexibility, purpose, and autonomy you crave. Plus, if you structure things right from the outset you’ll end up with more money in your wallet.

In Mid-life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself you’ll be inspired by Leigh Johnson. After establishing a successful recruitment business, and following a period of depression Leigh yearned to help others. I share her story of reinvention in the book. She also contacted me to help her define her brand and gain the skills she needed as a wellness coach.“I want people to know how great they are already,” she says of her new mission.

“I give credit to Cassandra Gaisford (www.worklifesolutions.co.nz) for helping me unclutter my thoughts and clear the way to make the decision to become a Well-being & Transition Coach,” she shares on her blog.

Read the other stories of entrepreneurial rejuvenation I share in my book, Mid-Life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself (http://Amazon.com http://amzn.to/1SwgzAV) and learn from people who have felt the fear and become self-employed anyway! Let love, inspiration, and passion propel you forward.

I felt especially inspired by the true accounts of people who beat the odds by starting a business and how they became successful. The variety of examples of entrepreneur stories given makes you realize that anything is possible with enough will and determination! Cassandra paves the way for you to have belief in your ideas and to run with them. This book will have you excited about the future, dreaming big and living boldly…” ~ Amazon review

Employ yourself! Live the entrepreneurial life and create a product and service so good that people will pay for it.

I read a book once—it changed my life: The Work We Were Born To Do, by Nick Williams. My hope is that I can change yours. Whether you opt to train with me, or decide to chase another dream you’ll find plenty of additional support in my book,

Mid-Life Career Rescue (Employ Yourself): How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you love, before it’s too late, is available in paperback and eBook from:

Amazon.com http://amzn.to/1SwgzAV

Or Amazon.com.au  http://bit.ly/1OmXh9g

Passionately yours

Cassandra

 

Are you ready to quit?

Or perhaps, you’d like to do what I did, trained to become a coach and started coaching on the side until my income grew and I could make coaching my full-time gig.

Contact me for a free 30-minute discovery call to see if training to become a certified life coach is the right move for you.

 

If you’re not working with your authentic, compelling joy— you are not living your true purpose…and life is too short for that!

Check out my blog here and learn more about my story here>> http://cassandragaisford.com/my-story-how-my-dark-nights-of-the-soul-awakened-my-passion-and-purpose/

 

 

Did you enjoy this post?


You might like:

Rebirthing a New Career: Lynnie’s reinvention story

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

How to say no to abusive workplaces, schools, homes, and circumstances

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

The fastest way to go from stress to joy without being overwhelmed

Life transformed by faith in the stars

 

Here are three more things you might like:


Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.


Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.


Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.


You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

Why do coaches need a coach? The secret to success….

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

“I have deep relationships. AND I have a coach. That may sound odd because I AM a coach, but I believe those of us who are most successful, have gotten where we’re at with help in identifying blocks, challenges, and opportunities. That is what a coach does!”

~ Sheree Clarke

Sheree Clark followed her enthusiasm—her passion for helping others and sharing what she had learned through her own life challenges led her to start her coaching business.

The seeds of change were also cultivated during a stressful time in her life and her former job. She shares her journey of mid-life career reinvention below:

“My current business is Fork in the Road. I am a healthy living (life) coach. I chose the name initially because I was focused on food and healthful eating, and since “fork” conjures up the idea of eating, it seemed to fit. I also believe that at any given point we are all at a proverbial fork in the road.

That fork can be a major one—such as a career choice or the decision to enter or leave a marriage—or a small one, like whether to say yes to dessert or being on another committee. So, when the focus of my business shifted to life coaching for women over 40, the name was still (and perhaps even more) fitting for my practice.

Fork in the Road is truly a crescendo of all of my life experience. I work with my clients to transform their health, reclaim vitality and mental focus, and help ensure they gain clarity on their vision and purpose. These are all things I have done for myself over the course of the last 6+ decades of life.

 

Deciding what to do

My first business was a marketing communications (advertising) agency that I was “talked into” co-founding in 1985 by a (then) new boyfriend. The truth is, I had grown bored at my job at a local university and had even announced my resignation, effective the following academic year (long notices are an accepted practice at US academic institutions). In the meantime, I had met—and fallen in love with—my later-to-be business partner, and the rest fell into place.

He convinced me that my skill set as a teacher, advisor, and mentor would transfer easily to the business development aspect of running an advertising agency. We stayed business partners for 25 years (although the romantic aspect tanked after the initial 14 years).

My current business began after I decided to leave the agency world and (my now-ex) behind.

During my time owning the agency, I had taken a variety of classes simply out of an interest in personal development. Many of the courses had to do with health, nutrition, and emotional maturity.

Eventually, as I became less interested in the marketing work and more involved in the business of human potential, it became harder to rally enthusiasm for owning an agency.

Finally, just as we were preparing to commemorate 25 years in business together, I told my partner I wanted to exit our partnership to begin something new.

At that point, I still wasn’t certain what my new work would look like, but I knew it wasn’t fair to anyone (most especially me!) to stay where I knew I was no longer fully engaged.

So, in essence, I quit—and then I figured it out.

 

Finding an idea that would be successful—ask your way to success

I found the right product for the right market by trial and error! Next, to creating a vision board, the informational interview is my favorite tool for helping me get back on track when I’m feeling lost.

When I was feeling unfulfilled in my business I scheduled a series of interviews with fellow entrepreneurs. I picked women who owned businesses. The only thing they had in common was that I really respected them, even though some I had never met in person.

One of my interviews was with the publisher of a local business newspaper: a fabulous lady who is probably 20 years my senior. We had our meeting over lunch and I told her, candidly, about my inner feelings. I told her I was hoping she might shed some light.

I asked her what she thought my skill sets and offerings were and where I might be able to plug the gaps. Her feedback? She said she had always thought of me as a teacher and a coach. She said she saw me as articulate, smart and capable, (which in itself is nice to hear, especially coming from someone you admire).

And then she offered up a casual suggestion. She said, “You’ve always had a way with words. Why don’t you write a column for a publication in your industry or some area of your life that brings you joy.” Well, that was an idea that resonated, and if nothing else was worth seeing if I could make happen.

 

The payoff

I went back to my office and sent a query letter to the editor of a graphic design magazine I had written for once or twice before, and asked if they were looking for writers.

Within an hour my phone rang. It was the editor himself. His words nearly knocked me off my chair. He said, “Wow, what timing! We are starting a business advice column in the next quarter, wanna write it?”

I ended up writing that column for five years. Not only did it help scratch an itch I was feeling, but I also made some extra money in the process. Now, I am not saying you’ll have such epic results. But I do know that I have never had an informational interview without a payoff, even if it was just that I got to know somebody a little better.

 

Working your offerings into your own area of genius

It’s not just about finding the right products and services, it’s also about working your offerings into your own area of genius.

At this point in my life, while I enjoy making a good income, it’s not only about maximizing revenue. I want to do work that brings me joy. I want to work with clients who are a fit for me so that when I look at my calendar/schedule, I feel excitement, rather than dread.

In my instance, I am what we call a “Baby Boomer” (defined in the USA as being those born between 1946 and 1965). My generation and those slightly after, are all experiencing some major life challenges right now. Our jobs are changing or we’ve been laid off or deemed “redundant.”

Our marriages and family structures are shifting or crumbling: we may suddenly become caretakers or divorcees or widows. Hell, our own bodies are changing and often it feels as though they are betraying us. And for many women over 40, after putting the needs of others first for much of our lives, we can finally say, “it’s MY turn now.”

What I just described is my area of genius. It’s the arena I do best in and it’s where I feel most at home. Having for the most part successfully navigated the challenges of being a 40, 50, 60-year old, I get to share my secrets and techniques with other women.

 

Starting fresh—financing a new career

In both cases when I started my companies I left what I had been doing to embark on the new thing. In the first instance (co-founding the agency) I felt safe doing so because I had a partner and so my risk/exposure was shared.

In the second instance (becoming a coach), I had the luxury of having built savings from the first endeavor, so I could plunge into the second. I recognize that not everyone will have such good fortune.

In both cases, I didn’t need any start-up capital.

If I were to give advice, I’d say that while of course you have to consider your own financial situation, also take stock of your risk tolerance.

Entrepreneurship is not certain. There are all sorts of risks and no guarantees. If a lack of financial uncertainty makes you nervous, it’s certainly safer to ease into being a business owner, but it can also be more challenging. There are only so many hours in a day!

 

Finding the confidence to leave the security of a regular salary

It wasn’t confidence that propelled me into my second business. It was the pain of not living authentically.

It would be an understatement to say that to close the ad agency I had co-founded was not a decision my former partner and I made easily or lightly. For almost half our lives we had been partners and close friends. But the time had come and we each wanted to do other things with our lives.

I had found a passion in the health and nutrition arena after receiving my certifications as a raw vegan chef and nutrition counselor.

My business partner discovered a love of fine art, and a desire to work more independently. Quite frankly, we both had become rather miserable in our roles as principals and we each needed new challenges.

Despite my excitement for my new future I struggled to dismantle what we had so carefully created. At the time, we decided to close the agency, it was still healthy but my partner’s and my passions were on life support.

There were many signs that it was time for a change. I started to dread the out of town travel for clients that I had once so loved. He began to come into the office later and leave earlier.

We both had less patience for employee mistakes and client indecision. For me the defining moment came on a Sunday at church when I actually cried not because the sermon was so moving, but because I knew that in less than 24 hours I had to “go back to work.”

It was clearly time to do something.

There are those who have applauded both of us for having the courage to do something so drastic, and others who deem us insane when we could be ‘so close to retirement.’ All I know is that, as scary as it was, it has rekindled the adrenalin rushes I have not felt in a very, very long time. It was absolutely the right thing to do.

 

Finding customers

My clients typically follow me online for a period of time before contracting with me for services. Often they run across me because I am a guest speaker at live events, or a subject matter expert on television, or a guest on an online interview series or summit. Others may have been referred to me by a friend or a colleague.

The marketing activities which have been most important and successful for me are speaking and interviews. I also write guest blogs and articles.

 

Maintaining balance

Running a business should not be a 24/7 thing! Although there are absolutely “push” times, especially in the beginning, I think downtime and rest are essential to business success

Downtime, time to refuel, is made possible by setting priorities, delegation and hiring (or subcontracting) efficiently. I personally find balance by planning my days the night before.

Each night before I go to bed, I establish what the most important project or priority is for the next day, and that project is the first thing I address after I do my exercise and meditation.

I also find that sometimes I have to actually schedule in my fun times. With my current work schedule, I coach clients in the first three weeks of the month.

The last week of every month I take off from individual coaching, and that is when I attend to personal matters such as doing errands, scheduling salon services and meeting friends for social engagements.

I still do work during that fourth week, but because I don’t typically schedule client appointments, I have time for other things.

 

Keeping energy levels high

It’s not hard to have high energy when you have high enthusiasm. I love what I do and it keeps me young, vital, engaged and energized. That said, taking care of yourself mentally emotionally and spiritually is also critical. I get adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition. I spend time in nature and in contemplation or prayer.

I have deep relationships. AND I have a coach. That may sound odd because I AM a coach, but I believe those of us who are most successful, have gotten where we’re at with help in identifying blocks, challenges, and opportunities. That is what a coach does!

 

The secret to success, managing cash flow, and generating regular income

For me personally, I have always benefitted from finding and utilizing a good business coach and what is often called a ‘mastermind community.’ A mastermind is a group of like-minded people who meet regularly to share strategies and tackle challenges and problems together. They lean on each other, give advice, share connections and do business with each other when appropriate.

It’s very much peer-to-peer mentoring, and it works! In terms of managing cash flow: one piece of advice is to not take your foot off the ‘new business development’ gas pedal when you get busy with other things. What you do today will determine your level of success tomorrow.

 

The learning curve

The biggest learning curve I had was going from owning a company that sold its services in a business to business arena (the communications agency) to one that provided services via a business to consumer model (my coaching practice).

These two ways of conducting business are drastically different. Again, by seeking guidance from peers and by hiring a coach I was able to manage the amount of growing pain.

The best times in my business have usually been the “firsts.” The first client, the first employee, the first million-dollar year. The worst have usually been the result of going against my own intuition. Hiring someone I had a gut feeling about because they looked good on paper. Taking a poorly calculated risk because I was listening to my ego instead of looking at the facts or my intuition.

One of the best business books I have read is, Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield. It applies to everyone, but entrepreneurs especially.

 

What advice would you give to someone who has never started a business or been self-employed?

Start by taking the time to meet with other entrepreneurs and ask them a few questions about things that may have you concerned or sparked your curiosity.

Cassandra’s book, Mid-Life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself, is a great start because it gives you a general ‘peek under the tent’ at being a business owner, but I would also speak to others in real time.

I often urge my clients to schedule what I refer to as an ‘informational interview’ when they are considering going down new paths or are feeling stuck in some area of their lives.

 

What are the steps to self-employment? Is there a “right” order?

I have taken the leap to self-employment twice, and each time was different from the other. I think there are too many factors to make a generalized bit of advice valuable here. One caveat I would say to the analytical readers is “don’t overthink it.”

With my current business, I began by sending a letter to everyone I knew from my former business, telling them what I was transitioning to, and straight-out asking them if they might be interested in my services, or if they would be willing to make a referral. I had enough takers to be encouraged to keep going!

 

Making the leap sooner

I would have left my first company to start my second company sooner. I was afraid of letting people down: my former partner, my employees, my clients. By the time I left, my passion was on life support.

If I could offer one piece of advice related to starting your own business and employing yourself it would be to know that being an entrepreneur can be lonely sometimes. Your friends, the ones who are employed by others, will think you have it made now.

They will believe that you have all the time in the world to do what you want and that you’re rolling in the money. They’ll think you can go on lavish vacations and that you don’t have to answer to anyone. Take heart: The other business owners you meet will know the real story.

 

The secret to self-employed success

Passion. Without it you may be mildly successful, but you’ll never be wildly successful!”

Find out more about Sheree’s passion-driven business here—www.fork-road.com. Listen to our interviews here http://www.cassandragaisford.com/media and http://www.cassandragaisford.com/podcast/

 

 

I loved, loved, loved what Sheree shared and devoured every word—best of all there were no calories…so that was marvelous. What resonated with you?

Identify and record any lessons can you learn from Sheree’s experience of discovering her calling and setting up her business which you could apply to starting your own business. Summarize some possible action steps.

This is an edited extract from Midlife Career Rescue: (Employ Yourself): How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you love, before it’s too late” by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy and learn how to follow your passion to prosperity, click here to go to your online bookshop—getBook.at/EmployYourself2018

 

 

Did you enjoy this post?

 

You might like:

 Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies That Work

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

 My story: how my dark nights of the soul awakened my passion and purpose

How You Can Think Like Leonardo da Vinci and Unlock Your Creative Potential

How to Develop More Grit and Perseverance – Consult the Oracle

The Fastest Way to Go From Stress to Joy Without Being Overwhelmed

 

Here are three more things you might like:


Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.


Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.


Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.


You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

 

WOULD YOU LOVE TO BE A LIFE COACH?

ONLINE CERTIFICATION COURSE NOW AVAILABLE
Discover how to make money as a life coach, earn extra income on the side, and easily create your own online business using the Worklife Solutions fail-proof system & attract your first paying client in weeks.  All from the comfort of your own home or exotic destination.

Navigate to https://the-coaching-lab.teachable.com/p/worklife-solutions-coach-training-foundation-course

I had come across Worklife Solutions (Cassandra) as a training provider back in 2014 but just wasn’t sure at that time.  Decided on another education provider which has provided me with a foundation in coaching but last year realised that I wanted more discussions regarding putting sessions together, evaluating and discussing this with a mentor and someone whom had been walking the talk for a long time.   This was not provided by the previous education provider. The above factors influenced me to contact Cassandra again.  I was looking for a different type of training, wanting someone who has such a solid background in coaching and whom could offer more input regarding sessions planning and feedback, starting a business etc. I’ve now realised my dream!”

How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy

Monday, February 11th, 2019

 

If you suffer from generalized anxiety and panic attacks

If you suffer from stress or burnout If you lack confidence or self-esteem or fear failure……

If you’re a perfectionist or find the challenges of life overwhelming… …

then my new book, Anxiety Rescue is exactly the right book for you—because it will cheerlead, motivate and encourage you to fight for your dreams and achieve your goals.

 

Anxiety Rescue is the ultimate prescription and medication free cure. Using the timeless wisdom of other successful men and women who have suffered from anxiety, depression, and despair—and succeeded anyway,  Anxiety Rescue  reveals in six easy steps:

✓ 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 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 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… 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.

Available in eBook for immediate download from Amazon

US—https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NKV6K9K

UK—https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NKV6K9K

or your local Amazon store.

FREE for Subscribers of Kindle Unlimited

 

I take issues I am struggling with, or new learnings that have deeply impacted me, and share them in my books

It always really touches me when I realize that what I do has an impact on people. We’ve all been through tough situations. Not many of us escape childhood unscathed. Few of us survive working life or relationships without scars. I work from that experience. If what I say, write, or do inspires people or gives them strength, courage, or hope, I’m over the moon.

Like many of my books, I write to inspire myself. I take issues I am struggling with, or new learnings that have deeply impacted me, and share them in my books.

Anxiety Rescue is one of these books. I’m tempted to say that it’s a concise guide to overcoming anxiety and making the most of your life. It is. And it isn’t.

As I wrote this book, so many factors which impact anxiety came to light. Many of them are ignored by general practitioners and doctors—the very people many of us go when we’re feeling stressed, anxious, or just plain unwell. Some, are viewed skeptically by psychologists and psychiatrists.

Yet times are changing, the old ways aren’t working. Prescription medication and pharmaceutical drugs are being consumed in exploding quantities, and still, anxiety rates and other mental illnesses are still soaring.

Increasingly science is validating what ancient wisdom has been telling us for years. You only have to consider how main-stream meditation, yoga, acupressure, and other holistic therapies have become, to witness the emergence.

Anxiety Rescue is based on clinically-proven techniques and integrates modern science with other healing modalities. Yet it also harnesses the magic of creative approaches to healing. Which is why I’ve turned to two of my greatest inspirations—Leonardo da Vinci and Coco Chanel. Anxiety Rescue summarizes their timeless wisdom and strategies to tame anxiety, quell despair, overcome obstacles and maximize health, wellbeing and success.

we can heal ourselves

From my own professional and personal experience, I know we can heal ourselves. A great deal many people don’t need pills to feel calm, happy, healthy, and inspired. Some do.

I am not against prescription drugs, but what concerns me, as it may you, is that many anxious, stressed, and depressed people are not offered a choice. Nor do they benefit from someone taking an inventory of their life and analyzing the traumatic events or stressors that may be impacting their anxiety levels.

Like Len, who, aged 42-year-old man who had suffered work-related burnout, and sought relief from his doctor. He was, quite rightly, alarmed that his doctor told him that the only cure was medication. He left his doctor’s office empty-handed.

Ten years later, a diagnosis of complex trauma, not only made sense but also provided a roadmap to lasting healing. I’ll be sharing more of his story in a book I plan to write called, Leaving Jehovah—Surviving the Cult of Toxic Control and Shame.

Or, Sarah, who’d been taking anti-depressants for years but had noticed her anxiety rates returning and no longer wanted to be on medication. Counseling and engaging in talk-therapy gave a voice to wounds she had repressed. When darkness was brought to light, and armed with new tools of self-care, including meditation and nutrition, her anxiety rates disappeared.

I’m not bagging medication. Not by any means. My purpose in writing Anxiety Rescue is to share alternative routes to healing—lasting ones that enable you to be empowered and chose the best course of action for you.

No two people are the same. We have not had the same childhoods, the same school experiences, or workplace trauma. I speak from my own experience—both what has worked for me, and what has worked for my clients.

With over twenty-five years of expertise working in therapeutic professions, most lately as a child therapist and relationship counselor, I know what works.

As you’ll read in the chapter, “My Story,” I’ve swum through a tsunami of trauma, hurts, and humiliations and drawn on a range of modalities to help me not just survive, but also thrive.

My hope is in reading this book, you will emerge stronger, happier, healthier, and more thankful too.

A large part of my healing has involved following my joy—something you’ll learn to discover for yourself in this book.

I use my passion journal to visualize, gain clarity, and create my preferred future—including my health goals. My clients find this works for them too—along with the other strategies I share in Anxiety Rescue.

In this era of anxiety and distraction, the need for simple, life-affirming, health-enhancing messages is even more important. If you are looking for inspiration and practical tips, in short, sweet sound bites, this guide is for you.

Similarly, if you are a grazer, or someone more methodical, this guide will also work for you. Pick a page at random, or work through the four pillars of health sequentially.

I encourage you to experiment, be open-minded and try new things. I promise you will achieve outstanding results.

Let experience be your guide, as it has been mine. Give your brain a well-needed break. Let go of ‘why’, and embrace how you feel, or how you want to feel. Honor the messages from your intuition and follow your path with heart.

Laura, who at one stage seemed rudderless career-wise, did just that. Workplace stress was a major source of her anxiety. Finding her passion and following her joy sparked a determination to start her own business.She felt the fear and went for it anyway, emboldened by a desire to live and work like those she looked up to. It was that simple.

As with all of my books, many of the examples I share were inspired by true events in my own life. At the time of writing, I recalled one of the first times I trusted the spiritual realm. I was a teenager when my paternal grandmother was channeled by a psychic and my disbelieving and skeptical self was asked, “Your grandmother says you don’t believe she is here. But she is holding out a flower, and she is asking, ‘Do you remember the jasmine flowers growing over the house?’

I didn’t.

But when I drove home I called into to Araby Lodge, where my grandmother used to live, and where until her death, she bred and trained her beloved horses. At the time my father lived in her house. I asked him, “What is that vine growing over the house?”

I didn’t want to tell him anything about what the psychic had said because I was still skeptical and I didn’t want to influence the answer. My father said, “Oh, that old jasmine vine? That’s been there forever.”

My heart nearly leaped out of my chest. It was at that point that I began to believe in spiritual and psychic phenomena, and in time, many years later, to awaken my own gifts. These gifts weren’t awakened without considerable anxiety—something I talk more about in the chapter, “Shadow Work.”

It’s a timely reminder of just how far following my passion and being free to be me has taken me—the shy girl who was once afraid of being seen and was terrified of her ability to channel.

As I share in many of my books I hope the following quote is as apt for you as it was for me:

“Your staying in the shadows doesn’t serve the world.”

Here’s to learning from our anxiety and transforming our lives with passion, joy, and purpose!

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 resources made available to keep you happy, healthy, motivated and focused. Dig into this book and let Leonardo da Vinci and Coco Chanel and other successful men and woman be your mentors, inspiration, and guides as they call forth your passions, purpose, and potential. 

Say YES to happiness NOW! It’s never too late to end anxiety and follow your joy to live a life you love.

Anxiety Rescue is available in eBook for immediate download from Amazon

US—https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NKV6K9K

UK—https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NKV6K9K

or your local Amazon store.

FREE for Subscribers of Kindle Unlimited

 

enjoy the free excerpt from Anxiety Rescue below

 

Your Body Barometer

The deeper the feeling, the greater the pain.

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

The more you truly care about something, the deeper the consequences can be when you don’t act on your desires.

When you aren’t true to yourself and you don’t do the things you aspire to do your mental, emotional and spiritual health can suffer.

Common signs of neglecting the call for success and forsaking your ambitions can include: tiredness, depression, anxiety, irritability, and strained personal relationships. In short, you’re lovesick—starved of the things that spark joy.

The body never lies, but many people soldier on ignoring the obvious warning signs. It’s easy to rationalize these feelings away, But the reality is your mind, body, and soul is screaming out for more. Have the courage to say ‘yes’ to pursuing a more liberating alternative.

 

Your Challenge

When you feel unfulfilled, bored, unchallenged and demotivated what do you notice? How does this differ from times when you feel the fear but love life passionately anyway?

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.

~ Georgia O’Keeffe, artist

 

 

THE POWER OF PASSION

If there’s no love, what then?

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Without love you don’t have energy. Without energy you have nothing.

When people are pursuing something they are passionate about their drive and determination is infinite. They become like pieces of elastic able to stretch to anything and accommodate any setback. People immobilized by fear and passivity snap like a twig. They lack resilience.

Passion gives people a reason for living and the confidence and drive to pursue their dreams. Leonardo was a man of many loves and deep obsessions. These passions imbued him with infinite energy—powering his creativity, courage, resolve, and tenacity.

As Leonardo once said, “No labor is sufficient to tire me.”

Even when he was exhausted by life, his passion sustained him.

 

Your Challenge

What will passion do for you?

The really important stuff is not in my résumé. It’s what has gone on almost unnoticed in the secret chambers of the heart.

~ Isabel Allende, author

 

 

DRESS JOYFULLY

The grand problem, the most important problem, is to rejuvenate women. To make women look young. Then their outlook changes. They feel more joyous.

~ Coco Chanel

 

Coco was a trailblazer in women’s fashion. When she arrived in trousers in Venice people were shocked, but shock quickly turned to awe. Women wanted what she had—and Coco was only too happy to sell it to them.

Her joyous color was black. She loved its simplicity and understated elegance. Perhaps it reminded her of the habits the nuns, who so tenderly cared for her, wore.

Whatever the catalyst was, Coco had the vision to turn black, the color of mourning, into the symbol of independence, freedom, and strength. She also created the now iconic little black dress!

Your joyous color may be yellow, blue, or gold. Or it may be multi-patterned and have all the colors of the rainbow. Floating dresses in the finest silk may instill you with confidence, or perhaps you prefer something more tailored.

Whatever your color, whatever you wear be sure that it makes you feel joyful.

 

Your Challenge

Act as if. Take a job or lifestyle idea you are considering, or have always wondered what it would be like, and act as if you are living that role. Dress the part.

Have your colors professionally confirmed by a trained image consultant—when you dress in the colors that suit your skin tone you’ll look younger and feel fabulous.

 

Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.

~ Coco Chanel

 

 

 

 

“Love your work”

Prior to writing this post I had sent out news of my new book to my email subscribers. Immediately I received an email from one of my readers.

“When I read the first few sentences I could immediately relate – it’s exactly how I feel at this very moment (sadly).

I feel so tired and overwhelmed just trying to get through each day, let alone any curveballs that may come my way.
It’s so debilitating and I feel like this is ‘my lot’ and no happy ending.
I will be sure to download your ebook. I have your Passion Workbook sitting next to me in the car – yet to read… Too tired (always tired).
Keep being awesome! Love your work 🙂
Her email made me happy – and sad. Happy the words spoke to her. Happy that even though she felt so low, my email sparked some energy—the energy of love. I could sense some enthusiasm…even in the darkness. I also felt sad—sad that she feels this way. I know EXACTLY how this feels. Millions and millions of people feel this way. I know that there is a cure. I know you don’t need medication, drugs, or alcohol to rescue you. I know the difference that the power of love and healthy obsessions can make—I talk more about the power of positive obsessions in my sobriety books, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety and Your Beautiful Mind.
As I wrote back to her, she also inspired me too also get moving with creating an audiobook. That way when she and others who also suffer from anxiety, fatigue, and despair, when they are driving can be fed some inspirational juice…
I also invited her to consider scheduling a coaching session with me—sometimes it’s just too hard to go it alone. If this sounds like something you could benefit from click the following link to schedule an appointment
http://www.cassandragaisford.com/schedule-an-appointment/

This is an edited extract of Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy by Cassandra Gaisford. To order a copy for less than the price of coffee and cake go to Amazon:

US—https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NKV6K9K

UK—https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NKV6K9K

or your local Amazon store.

FREE for Subscribers of Kindle Unlimited

 

Did you enjoy this article?

Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this and be the first to know when her next book, The Anxiety Cure: Love Your Body, will be released.

 

Here’s a quick round-up of our 5 latest blog posts you may also enjoy:

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

How to say no to abusive workplaces, schools, homes, and circumstances

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

The fastest way to go from stress to joy without being overwhelmed

The Life-Changing Benefits of Unplugging

 

Here are three more things you might like:

Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.

Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.

Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.

For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra.

You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Anxiety Rescue: First Aid in a Bottle—The Surprising Joy of Essential Oils

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

The use of essential oils for emotional well-being is what we often first think of when we hear the term ‘aromatherapy.’

Although aromatherapy should not be considered a miracle cure for more serious emotional issues, the use of essential oils can assist, sometimes greatly, during times of stress and bring healing to certain emotional issues.

For example, lavender is a well-known mild analgesic, useful for healing headaches, wounds, calming the nerves, insomnia, and mild depression.

Rosemary, on the other hand, is a mild stimulant and is used to treat physical and mental fatigue, forgetfulness, and respiratory problems among other ailments.

Although many people may think of aromatherapy as part of a spa or beauty treatment, medical aromatherapy is popular in Europe. Some medicinal physicians prescribe and use the oils therapeutically as part of complementary medical care.

About 100 different essential oils are used for medical aromatherapy in Austria and other European countries, Dr. Wolfgang Steflitsch, a chest physician at Otto Wagner Hospital in Vienna, and vice president of the Austrian Association of Aromatherapy and Aroma Care, said in an article in Live Science.

Emotional and Mental Healing

Along with your skills and capabilities, it’s your state of mind and emotional health that determines how happy you will be.

There are many ways to empower both—working with essential oils is one of the most effortless. Essential oils, with their natural ability to stimulate neurotransmitters, offer a natural high—one that is validated by scientific research.

Smell plays a big role in how essential oils may affect the body: When breathed in, these oils derived from plants stimulate smell receptors in the nose that send chemical messages through nerves to the brain’s limbic system, which affects moods and emotions, and may have some physiological effects on the body, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The process of smelling is called olfaction and is incredibly complicated, taking place in several areas of the brain including the limbic system which itself has approximately 34 structures and 53 pathways.

The limbic system is linked to sensations of pleasure and pain, and emotions—both positive and negative, including fear and confidence, sadness and joy and other feelings that can either erode or boost feelings of calm, happiness, and joy.

Scientists now believe that all our emotions are the result of neurochemicals such as noradrenaline and serotonin being released into the bloodstream, and mood swings are thought to be a result of these influences, particularly when they are in the extreme.

Noradrenaline, also called norepinephrine or noradrenalin, is an organic chemical that functions in the brain and body as a hormone and neurotransmitter.

Similarly, serotonin is also a neurotransmitter—also known as the happy hormone. Serotonin plays a crucial role in means mental illnesses—and the drugs that are used to treat them.  It contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Its biological function is complex and multifaceted, modulating cognition, learning, memory, and numerous physiological processes. Low levels of serotonin in your brain can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Given these facts, it’s not hard to see how essential oils can help balance and influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

“Feeling educated about essential oils is such an empowering experience because there are so many different oils you can work with,” writes Clinical Aromatherapist Andrea Butje in her book, The Heart of Aromatherapy: An Easy-to-Use Guide for Essential Oils.

“They all offer the nourishment of the plant they are distilled from in a single drop, and education helps you understand which oils to reach for at which times. Nature works holistically…and so do we.”

As I share in my book, The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life, Coco Chanel knew the alchemical potency of flowers and plants. She surrounded herself with nature’s elixir and amassed a fortune from the essential oils which helped make her perfume Chanel N°5 famous.

The transcendent alchemy of the potions that went into the Chanel N°5 formula was not left to chance. Grieving after her lover Boy Chapel’s death, Coco drew upon the essences of Neroli, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, vetiver, and other restorative scents to imbue Coco’s Chanel N°5 with hope, healing, and the sensual confidence that love lost would be found again.

Aromatherapy, using the scents of plants and flowers, is one of many ancient remedies validated by modern science today. It’s the Swiss army knife of all things healing—physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

There are so many different essential oils that can help you. Here are a few essential oils and natural therapeutic remedies to help win the war against anxiety, ward off depression, boost happiness, and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit:

Neroli

This is my current favorite. Derived from a flower, this oil takes its name from an Italian Princess who used it as her favorite perfume. I use Neroli this way, dabbing a few drops behind my ears, and rubbing it through my hands when I need a lift.

Neroli is valued for its ability to arouse the senses and promote feelings of euphoria. It’s especially talented in reducing states of anxiety as it soothes worries and concerns.

The seductive sweetness of this oil disperses intense emotions, brings reassurance and security during stressful times.

Some of the many conditions it helps with include: depression, emotional frigidity, anxiety, hysteria, apprehension, nervous butterflies, insomnia, menopause, nervous tension from overwork, and exhaustion.

With its effusive yellow-orange origins Neroli aids issues related to our third chakra. The third chakra, located at the solar plexus, houses organs of the digestive and endocrine systems, as well as our self-esteem, perception and intuition, intellect, and personal power.

Dysfunctions of the Third chakra may affect the stomach, liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, and the upper intestines, as well as the mid-to upper-spine. The emotional and mental effects are that you may begin to question your own intuition, to give away personal power, and to lose self-respect. You may feel an absence of will, or discouragement—making it challenging to implement self-care strategies and following your dreams.

One its own, or combined with Lavender, Neroli is an excellent anxiety rescue remedy.

Lavender

To relieve stress, which disrupts the adrenal glands, Lavender has a long history of healing. Ideal for physical and emotional support, Lavender as a whole is an ‘adaptogenic’ essence with a relationship to all Body Systems. It is called the first aid in a bottle oil.

Emotionally, Lavender helps support a calm composure and self-expression. It reduces irritability, insomnia, nightmares, apprehension, panic attacks combined with uncontrollable shaking, stress, nervous tension, hysteria and is generally balancing to the psyche, as well as the body.

Incredibly, when I suggested Lavender oil to a doctor had sought my services to counsel her through a period of stress, she hissed at me, “Take your snake oil away from me.”

The truth is not everyone is willing to believe what healers throughout time have known, and which science no longer refutes.

As one article in the US National Library of Medicine, entitled Lavender and The Nervous System, cites:

“There is growing evidence suggesting that lavender oil may be an effective medicament in the treatment of several neurological disorders. Several animal and human investigations suggest anxiolytic, mood stabilizer, sedative, analgesic, and anticonvulsive and neuroprotective properties for lavender. These studies raised the possibility of a revival of lavender therapeutic efficacy in neurological disorders.”

This same article confirms that the alleviation of anxiety and mood improvement was reported in thirty-six patients admitted to an intensive care unit, who received lavender oil (diluted to 1% concentration) aromatherapy. Further clinical investigations pointed to the antidepressive effects of lavender.

But don’t take it from me, or anyone else. If in doubt, experiment with Lavender and any of the other essential oils I suggest.

Vetiver

When feeling anxious, or depressed, two to three drops of  Vetiver applied directly to the solar plexus in a counterclockwise motion will help dissolve energetic blockages, and strengthen your sense of peace and security with yourself.

Ylang Ylang

Ylang ylang oil has a euphoric and sedative effect on the nervous system. It helps with anxiety, tension, shock, fear, and panic. I love its sweet, sultry scent.

Rosemary

Instills confidence during periods of self-doubt and keeps motivation levels high when the going gets tough. It is also said to help maintain an open mind and to make you more accepting of new ideas.

Cardamom

Stimulates a dull mind, dispels tensions and worries, and nurtures and supports the brain and nervous system. Many people find it of great support during challenging times.

Peppermint

With its refreshing scent peppermint works like a power boost for your fatigued mind, making you feel sharper and more alert.

Investigate the power of aromatherapy. What scents imbue you with confidence? Courage? Productivity? Sharpen your most potent tools—your heart and your mind. Become a perfumer—experiment with essential oils until you find a winning blend.

Create your own wellbeing blend, or have an expert create one for you. Beginning with how you want to feel is a good place to start. There are many ways to harness their power, including inhaling a few drops on a tissue; placing some essential oils in your bath; dabbing some on your wrist, soles of your feet, or another pulse point;  using a diffuser, placing some drops in massage oil.

A Word of Caution

Unlike many other essential oils used in aromatherapy, lavender oil, for example, can be applied undiluted to the skin. Along with Neroli, this is how I like to use it.

Some oils may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, which is why you should test your sensitivity to an oil on a small patch of skin. Some citrus oils wh, when applied to the skin,n increase sun sensitivity, and some essential oils may be risky for pregnant women.

When selecting and using oils, be sure to follow all safety precautions and remember that aromatherapy is part of a holistic cure and should not be used as a substitute for proper medical treatment if symptoms are severe.

 

The Natural High

Aromatherapy has become an essential part of my anxiety rescue cure. I make a daily habit of either placing my favorite blends in a diffuser, or dabbing a few drops onto my wrist.

In my counselling and coaching sessions,  I often invite clients who have never used essential oils to experiment. I place a few drops of Neroli or Lavender onto a tissue, or pass over the bottle so they can inhale a few drops.

I’ve yet to find a client yet who didn’t gain an immediate sense of wellbeing, including children and teenagers who often ask their parents to purchase some so they can use essential oils at home.

I’ve yet to find a client yet who didn’t gain an immediate sense of wellbeing, including children and teenagers who often ask their parents to purchase some so they can use essential oils at home.

After the shock of my experience with a client who was a stressed-out doctor who virtually accused me of witchcraft, I’m always mindful of respecting peoples beliefs. However, if you’re after instant relief and a great way to pep up your peptides throughout the day.

The sense of smell is the most basic and primitive of all our senses and is of vital importance to your well-being. The simple truth is that even if you are unaware of the power of aroma, smell affects your mood. As does color—something we’ll explore in the next chapter.

 

This is an edited extract of Anxiety Rescue, due for release in February 2019

 

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this and be the first to know when her new book, Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy, will be released.

 

You might like:

Destiny Decided: The Minute That Changed My Life—2018 in Review

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

Does talk therapy actually work?

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

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

How to say no to abusive workplaces, schools, homes, and circumstances

For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

Destiny Decided: The Minute That Changed My Life—2018 in Review

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

One of my clients described 2018 as annus horribilis, roughly translated this means it was an absolutely horrendous year. Perhaps you can relate to that. 

And I’d have to agree. What a beastly year! I had copyright craziness, scary moments with certain industry giants, and drama galore—including narcissistic bosses and bullying builders during our home renovation process. But, as I once read, “you need chaos to give birth to a dancing star.”

Through all the mayhem I’ve emerged stronger. Where others may have given up in despair or drowned their angst in a bottle or a sea of pills, I’ve gone through it all unmedicated and sober. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression and even collapsed. But I bounced back and I’ve thrived and grown. And I have been blessed to have been both supported and able to support others.

I’ve benefitted from integrating and applying many of the strategies I share in my self-empowerment books—most importantly:

 Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life)

Stress Less. Love Life More: How to Stop Worrying, Reduce Anxiety, Eliminate Negative Thinking and Find Happiness

How To Find Your Passion And Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want and Live the Life You Love

and my Art of Success Series, inspired by Coco Chanel and my mentor Leonardo da Vinci.

A lot can happen in 60 seconds. The minute that altered my life forever.

“Nobody speaks to God these days.“Maybe its time to let the old ways die,” sings Bradley’s Cooper character in the lyrics of A Star is Born. 

I couldn’t agree more—emotional, mentally, spiritually, it’s time for a rebirth in 2019. In 2018 nearly dying physically was my wake up call. In his book, How to Know God: The Soul’s Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries, Deepak Chopra sums at beautifully how fate can come calling when god the protector intervenes.

“A miracle Ìs a display of power from beyond the fìve senses…Any miracle involves direct contact with spirit.” Level one of the seven levels of miracles that Chopra summarises is the Flight-or-Flight Response. “Miracles involve surviving great danger, impossible rescues, a sense of divine protection.”

This was my experience in late 2018.

I don’t know why but as I was driving back from Auckland after a particularly traumatic experience I fell asleep at the wheel. Miraculously, I woke up as my car careered across the road. I was 60 seconds away from driving down a steep ravine.

I didn’t panic as instinct would normally dictate I didn’t grab the wheel and swerve. I didn’t do anything. I recall an intense feeling of peace and a deep knowing that I should surrender.

I felt a presence, as though someone took the wheel and gently guided me back onto the main road to safety. I just allowed God to take the wheel and lead me back to the safety of the right side of the road.

I look back now and see the deeper meaning of staying in my own lane, of following my authentic path and my soul’s purpose.

I’ve had that experience once before when I nearly drowned after being encouraged by a friend to go free-floating down a river. Not long after I got into trouble. Serious trouble. Somehow I became entangled in a whirlpool.

I was being sucked under the water, trapped in the maelstrom of opposing currents. I was struggling to get free when I heard a voice say “relax it’s not your time.“

And even though every part of me instinctively wanted to fight because I was drowning, even though every cell in my body biologically kicked into the stress-response, I forced myself to relax.

I allowed my body to go limp, I talked to the memory cells in my body and recalled past knowledge of letting go, I surrendered. And when I let go and let God, when I put my faith in the Divine Intelligence, when I trusted that the Universe had my back, I floated to the top of the water.

Further downstream my friend, sensing something was wrong, lay await in a tree. As I sped past in the racing current, he reached in and pulled me out of the water. I put my faith in God and I put my faith in my friend.

It’s a moment I had forgotten until some 15 years later when I nearly drove to my death. So, 2018 was a game changer for me. This experience, and all the hurtful behaviors I have personally experienced, and those I witnessed as my counseling clients shared their wounds and their pain, transformed my life.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve become less enamored with the fear and the aggression directed at so many. Perhaps, like me, you’ve found it incredibly exhausting fighting a daily battle to ward off lower energies that incessantly attack all that is good.

In 2018 I made a decision to let go of the wheel. I made a commitment to stop trying to control everything and allow. This is not allowing in a victimized, passive sense. This is allowing in a spiritual sense. In some ways you may consider, as I have, loving what shows up. Because what shows up guides us back to our soul purpose—to heal our wounds and help others in return.

As I share in my soon to be released book Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy, trying to control everything is a learned behavior I have somewhat unsuccessfully employed to keep myself sane. But I have discovered that the greater power is to let go and let God.

Two months ago, in November of 2018, I reinforced this commitment to allowing the old ways to die in a session with renowned Psych-k therapist, Jane Bromley. I stated my intention, “I’m just going to allow, I’m just going to stop needing to be in control, and I’d like your help getting rid of old programs that are preventing that.”

That exact day, less than three hours after our session a contract that I thought would be mine for several years was terminated. My manager’s behavior was vindictive, malicious, and clearly designed to destroy me. I won’t go into this in too much detail here. In fact, it may well become a book on its own because I know how many of my followers and readers of my Mid-Life Career Rescue series of books suffer at the hands of narcissistic bullying bosses.

Enough is enough. 

I see it now, with the benefit of time and therapy, as divine providence. After all, hadn’t I asked for the old ways to die? I wasn’t meant to be there. I had allowed myself to be dishonored the moment she reneged on our agreed terms of employment. The people pleaser and the victim was still in residence.

I was forced to accept that which felt unacceptable.

The Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks beautifully about of the power of acceptance in The Book of Joy, co-written with The Dalai Lama. Below is an excerpt from this book:

Prayer practice involves reading quotations from the scriptures as well as quotes from the saints and spiritual masters throughout history. One of his favorites is the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich, whose Revelations of Divine Love, penned shortly after she recovered from a life-threatening illness in 1373, is believed to be the first book written by a woman in the English language. In it, she writes, . . .

“Deeds are done which appear so evil to us and people suffer such terrible evils that it does not seem as though any good will ever come of them; and we consider this, sorrowing and grieving over it so that we cannot find peace in the blessed contemplation of God as we should do; and this is why: our reasoning powers are so blind now, so humble and so simple, that we cannot know the high, marvelous wisdom, the might and the goodness of the Holy Trinity. And this is what he means where he says, “You shall see for yourself that all manner of things shall be well.”

As if he said, Pay attention to this now, faithfully and confidently, and at the end of time, you will truly see it in the fullness of joy. Acceptance—whether we believe in God or not—allows us to move into the fullness of joy. It allows us to engage with life on its own terms rather than rail against the fact that life is not as we would wish. It allows us not to struggle against the day-to-day current. The Dalai Lama had told us that stress and anxiety come from our expectations of how life should be. When we are able to accept that life is how it is, not as we think it should be, we are able to ease the ride, to go from that bumpy axle (dukkha), with all its suffering, stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction, to the smooth axle (sukha), with its greater ease, comfort, and happiness.

The experience, or rather my treatment by others was hurtful and traumatic. Healing my wounds lead me back to therapy.

I discovered the teachings of Dr. Jordan Peterson and through him rediscovered the teachings of Carl Jung. I earned about the shadow side and the importance of healing trauma, especially releasing it from the body.

I also learned about the power of community and reaching out to others and talking, just talking, and of honesty. Sharing my vulnerabilities, my wounds, and my sorrows. (You may also like my post, Does talk therapy actually work?)

I also placed value on the importance of taking responsibility. I had asked God to lead me. I had affirmed, “thy will be done.”

And I was clearly shown the door. Coincidentally I came across the below which I had written in the tiny book of wisdom I keep by my bed

I was reminded that I hadn’t trusted my intuition. From the beginning, God had told me something was wrong. I write more about  spotting narcissists and overcoming narcissistic abuse in my book, Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy

People told me to stand up. Important people came to my aid and told me they wanted to support me. Where once I had just thought I don’t need the drama or allowed myself to be victimized I decided, in spite of the intense feelings of stress that I was still working through, that I had to take a stand.

In this respect, I took strength from the teachings of Jordan Peterson who urges us all to “Grow some teeth and bite. Bite hard.” Peterson is not urging us to attack with violence, he is urging us to integrate the shadow side so many of us kinder souls may have been taught to disown. Check out his lecture here—https://youtu.be/iDQ8DiP_Y_A.

When you allow bullying you become a victim and you set yourself up to be bullied again. In a perverse twist, you effectively bully yourself into believing you are worthless and powerless, and you’re colluding in this mistruth and this abuse with the perpetrator.

I also took wisdom from the Dalai Lama, “You must not hate those who do harmful things,” he has explained. “The compassionate thing is to do what you can to stop them—for they are harming themselves as well as those who suffer from their actions.”

I put the matter to the attention of my professional ethics committee, to my local member of Parliament, and the perpetrator’s professional supervisor. It’s what my intuition guided me to do.

Again, as the Dalai Lama sagely teaches in The Book of Joy, “We stand firm against the wrong not only to protect those who are being harmed but also to protect the person who is harming others, because eventually they, too, will suffer. So it’s out of a sense of concern for their own long-term well-being that we stop their wrongdoing. This is exactly what we are doing. We do not let anger and negative feelings develop toward the Chinese hard-liners, but in the meantime, we strongly oppose their actions.”

And so rather than allow a wrong to continue I have begun the journey of seeking justice… for myself and for those who may follow.

My energy and intention is not born from vindictiveness or a desire to punish my narcissistic manager. My desire is to stand up for myself, to honor the truth and bring light to darkness.

Bullying affects self-esteem, your identity, your perception of, “am I safe in the world?” It affects how you view yourself, your skills and abilities, it cripples your growth and diminishes your ability to shine brightly in a world that needs your light.

 

Bullying and narcissistic abuse and other hateful, hurtful behaviors needn’t be a life sentence, But it does require you to show up, stand up, speak out. Something we all witnessed in 2018 as the pandemic of sexual assaults was finally called “time” in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Enough is enough. More than enough!

A similar thing happened when I received an email out of the blue accusing me of trying to leverage off another woman’s brand when I released my title Sexy Sobriety containing sobriety recipes.  The email was aggressive, intimidating… designed to strike fear.

I sought advice from my writing community. Many authors told me there were no grounds and told me this was just bullying.

“Aggressive grandstanding,“ one best-selling author wrote. “They should have trademarked the name if they wanted to lay claim to it..(I imagine they are in the process of doing that). Otherwise, you could probably fight and win this—if it was important to you.”

But the aggressive emails threatening financial penalties, keep coming. I asked them if the term, “Sexy Sobriety” was trademarked. They told me it wasn’t. Several weeks later they filed for copyright.

I decided this wasn’t important enough for me to fight. Unlike, the issues arising from the narcissistic boss.

 

Income wise, for sure, the road was rocky. With the benefit of being able to look back in review, this was understandable for several key reasons.

Firstly, our home renovation was a nightmare. The tradespeople were great, the finish fantastic, the end result, a dream come true. But the cost, both personally and professionally, fuelled by the budget blowout was beyond belief. Our troubles lay largely at the feet of the main contractor—of course, he didn’t see it that way. Another bully. Another narcissist—as others who had the misfortune of working with him also revealed. But he seemed so nice. So agreeable. Narcissists always do—until you’re screwed.

As I share in Anxiety Rescue: “Narcissistics are fear-based people. They tell a lot of lies and they put a lot of these lies onto you”, says psychotherapist Dr. Les Carter. “As you engage with a narcissist, you quickly realize that person has an agenda for you.”

Things unexpectantly took a turn for worse toward the very end of the rebuild. Thankfully we were back in the house and were in this respect back under control. We only just narrowly avoided a nasty and potentially costly litigious battle (I’ve learned, as you may have, that the only people who really win are the lawyers). We arrived at an uneasy compromise. Better uneasy peace than the stress of warfare waging on.

If only some of our world leaders would act similarly.

Needless to say, all this chaos made it nearly impossible to write and I was nowhere nearly as industrious and prolific as I was in the previous years.

Secondly, USA Today bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch summed up some of the changes which affected many authors like me.

“Amazon shook up the industry first by a shift to favoring paid advertising over organic search results, then with policy changes that led to decreased revenue

Other interesting turns included dubious trademark claims, leading to the addition of terms like Cockygate being added to every indie author’s lexicon. Some authors attempted to trademark generic cover layouts and common words to (allegedly) protect their intellectual property. In general, it was a year filled with questionable practices on the IP front.”  

Many lessons were learned, and I have attempted to adapt with the times.

However, December was my best ever month, ending the year on a high as my best year yet author-wise.

It wasn’t always like this, and like any new endeavour, there was a lot to learn. Baby steps, passion and perserverennce and a big wallop of tenacity and self-belief  (often feigned) were key.

2016, my first year as an indie author. I remember being thrilled with my first royalty payment—$136. I was so cuffed, I pasted the notifcation in my Passion Journal. I’m still proud of that result. 

2018, also heralded a greater focus on my counseling work, and it was an absolute honor and joy to have worked with so many varied and beautiful people—some as young as eight. I developed a new passion for working with trauma and child therapy, as long as the other areas of passion I have—all unified by my purpose to help create more love in this crazy world.

As you’ll discover from reading Anxiety Rescue, I believe the best solutions integrate mind, body, and soul. Whichever way you define spirituality you’ll benefit from tailored approaches that feed and nourish and empower your spirit.

As Kiri*, one of my New Zealand-based clients shared with me recently,

“In Maoridom for me, I will relate to you as a  Kaitiaki, meaning ‘guardian’. How I became to have you in my path was purely by spiritual contact—a nudge an inner tiny voice directing me to you. Cass, you don’t realize the great healing you have in the pit of your soul and you were born to spread compassion. You have those who watch over you, and mine in return, and yet they all speak the same language to us who are willing to hear and feel.  In such a long time have I never met a beautiful soul who finally understood me who went within and helped me grow from our sessions.”

 

This feedback made my heart glad—especially when I was going through such a toxic work situation.

Therapy needn’t be gloomy. A lot of healthy healing can be achieved using playfulness and fun. Personally and professionally I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform peoples’ lives.

Kiri, who came to see me following a period of grief and trauma, had become so unwell she could no longer work, and struggled to find meaning in her life. In just one session, where we ‘played’ with crayons in a session of Interactive Drawing Therapy, she experienced a complete transformation. In her picture, she drew vibrant threads of colorful energy and empowering words that encouraged her to seek joy.

As the sessions continued I introduced her to the healing power of meditation. And of course, we talked. Or she talked, and I listened. Very often, all we need is someone to listen to our story and help us reintegrate who we truly are.

Or, you may find, as many of my clients have, that working with a life coach, rather than a counselor is the most effective strategy.

A problem shared can lead to a problem solved. Talking with someone objective is often what you need to gain a fresh perspective, overcome obstacles, heal wounds and expand your life.

To learn more about my approach or to schedule a session I invite you to visit—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/wellness-therapies/

 

If there is only one insight you take away from my year in review, I hope it is a newfound belief in the importance of being yourself. This often requires embracing the shadowy aspects of our personality and shedding alll the layers of debri that prevent you from being authentically you. It also involves clearing away the crap that may have been thrown at you, and baring some teeth at those who try to attack you. But even more importantly it means remembering who you truly are.

The doorway to this is co-creating with spirit in the energies of passion, purpose, and love.

I can personally testify for the life-transforming effects of this philosophy.

With hard work and inspired products and services created with passion and purpose, miraculous things are possible.

Good luck in 2019.

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this and be the first to know when her new book, Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy, will be released.

You might like:

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

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

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

How to say no to abusive workplaces, schools, homes, and circumstances

Why passion is a powerful healing tool

 

* named changed to protect privacy.

Discover the joy of a sober Christmas: How to enjoy the festive season sober

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018


It’s amazing how many people have told me they just couldn’t do a booze-free celebration—especially at Christmas.

Like Carol who told me she wasn’t looking forward to spending time with her extended family. “As soon as we arrive my nephew hands me a joint and fills my glass of bubbles and keeps it topped up so we can all get on.”

But when I share my story of our lovely alcohol-free Christmas and booze-free alternatives some people are genuinely inspired to give it a go.

The other day, while we were walking back from the supermarket carrying a bottle of alcohol-free wine, a middle-aged man stopped us. He told us that he had been drinking since 10:30 in the morning and wished he could stop because he was tired of “waking up depressed and hung over”.

He looked genuinely enthusiastic about trying the alcohol-free wine that we recommended and went away saying, “May God bless you… you have changed my life.”

That my friends is one of the joys of sobriety… inspiring others. The photo above is a wee shot of our very simple pre-Christmas fare, along with a wonderful bottle of Edenvale, alcohol-free wine. And below a wee video I shot of my daughter and her partner celebrating alcohol-free bubbles this Christmas—further proof of the joy of sobriety.

 

 

 

Here are a few tips to help you discover the joy of a sober Christmas—or any other celebration for that matter:

 

What’s your why?

If you’re going to go to sober and want to succeed you’ll need a powerful reason why. Why would you want to do Christmas booze-free? To wake up hangover-free on boxing day and the days that follow? To feel happier, less depressed. To achieve health goals? To rebuild a drowning relationship? To be a role model to others? To feel a sense of control… or just because you’d like to experience what all these teetotallers are raving about.

Perhaps you can relate to Tania Glyde’s story which was published in an article by The Independent.

“When I was growing up, the only way to get through Christmas was to keep drinking slowly, throughout the day…One of my worst Christmases ever was at the end of 1995. I’d had an unusually difficult year, with ill health and unemployment and drugs and fair-weather friends, all of which, strangely, eclipsed the fact that I’d also had my first novel published. I’d been hanging out with a well-heeled west-London crowd, obsessed with appearances and fluffed up with cocaine. I’d been seeing the gang’s resident sociopath. It was one of those non-affairs that keeps trickling on, and all you do is rant about it to your friends, and makes you very glad when your twenties are over and you’ve grown up a bit. As the festive season approached, someone’s pal came blasting in from the past, a notorious man-grabber. I should have seen it coming and left the self-serving pair to their own devices but, alas, one tinselly night, the vodka spoke for me. I opened my big mouth, threatened god knows what, had a crying jag when I found her jacket at his flat, and the whole thing turned into “A Drama”, resulting in me being ostracised from the crowd for months. It really was the last straw.”

 

My ‘why’ is multi-faceted. As I share in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

 

My grandmother was an alcoholic, her father was too—and both their stories, like many people affected by alcohol, was one of tragedy.

In the 1930’s a drunken brawl outside the local pub in New Zealand left one man dead and my great-grandfather charged with murder.

My grandmother was four, and her brother aged six when they were taken into foster care. They never saw their mother, father, or each other again.

I’ve always wondered had it not been for the trauma Molly experienced as a child, and throughout her life, would she have sought happiness in a bottle?

The tragedy didn’t end there. Years later her brother, then in his 30s and married with three children, took his life.

Recently, at the time of writing, my mother shared how her childhood was scarred. “Mum was always drinking. We would come home and she would be in bed. I don’t recall her ever not being drunk.”

Their story, my story, your story is a far too common one.

“My step-father was an alcoholic and I lived through rough times with alcohol,” a reader shared with me as I wrote this book.

“I hope your book does help many people. I personally believe a book like this would not have helped my dad. Only complete removal of alcohol would have helped. Just my opinion that you cannot control alcohol. You must remove it,” he added. “I do hope your book does help many lives that are affected by alcohol though.”

Hope, as you read through this book, is an important element of any recovery—as is a desire for change.

 

Increasingly my ‘why’ also includes health and wellness goals. 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. It’s a poison and well-documented cause for a concerning array of cancers and diseases and mental illnesses—including anxiety and depression.

Melinda Hammond’s passion is helping people tell their stories and bringing in experts to help the listeners of her podcast, Writer on The Road, do just that. in 2018 I had the great pleasure of sharing my story behind the passion and purpose of choosing sobriety and writing books to help support and cheerlead others.

Listen to my interview with Melinda Hammond, “Name Your Poison: Writers, Alcohol & The Creative Muse, with Cassandra Gaisford. Discover the joy of sobriety” —https://writerontheroad.com/128-name-poison-writers-alcohol-creative-muse-cassandra-gaisford/.

You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy this informative and game-changing chat.

 

Sober companions

We are social animals which means that it’s a lot easier to engage in healthy and sober practices when you are surrounded by other like-minded people.

You may be surprised how many others may want to wish to join you on your sobriety challenge, or how many others are already teetotallers or wanting to reduce considerably.

An article and video published recently by the BBC says sobriety has become mainstream—it’s no longer a losers game but the winners choice for increased health, wealth, and happiness. I talk more about the benefits and life-changing magic of sobriety and provide tips to control alcohol in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Encouragingly, bars, nightclubs, and alcohol companies are responding to the massive sobriety movement which is rapidly growing in strength around the world – motivated by choice, health, and authentic joy… and in some cases, profit. Yes, folks as I’ve said, there is wealth in health!

However, committing to sobriety doesn’t mean that you can’t be amongst other drinking people. While being surrounded by drinkers, especially drunks, doesn’t make it easier, especially in the early days, it is a good test of your conviction, will, and commitment to sobriety.

Several years ago when I first decided to stop drinking for a period I spent Christmas and the new year staying at a resort in Fiji. Both my partner and I committed to sobriety. The place was dripping with alcohol and heaving with aggressive marketing promotions of “happy” buckets of beers and other alcohol-laden beverages. These were at reduced prices – making them cheaper than fruit juices or water.

What made it easy to remain alcohol-free was, along with reminding myself why I had made the decision, noticing how drunk everyone was getting also helped.

It also made it easier because I felt fantastic and my partner and I certainly noticed a difference when it came to pay our “bar” bill. Where some people received a shock at how quickly their booze bill added up to $thousands, our cheap alcohol-free mocktails were easy on the pocket.

You don’t have to make a big drama about not drinking alcohol. Many times you can blend in quite simply by having a Coca-Cola in a short “spirit” glass, or drinking soda and lime or alcohol-free wine in a fancy wine glass, or enjoying a mocktail.

Being with family

Many people drink just to survive reunions with the family. Let’s face it, not everyone finds it easy to get along and a lot of childhood wounds can be reactivated when everyone gets together. Add alcohol and you add pure fire. So many people don’t appreciate how easily alcohol fuels aggression.

Horrifically, domestic violence crimes soars, child assault, and other crimes are highest during what is marketed as the festive season.

Get yourself in the right mindset or avoid family and Christmas altogether – as my partner and I did several years ago following a particularly stressful time. Instead, we traveled to the beautiful island of Taveuni in the tropical paradise of Fiji. Our family threatened never to speak to us again. But guess what—they did. And in many ways, we have set the tone for following Christmases which are considerably laden with guilt and resentment. Now as a family we actually choose to come together. If someone wants to do something else, with someone else that’s fine too.

No one says you have to spend Christmas together. If you’re not feeling happy about spending time together, and the only way to survive feels like numbing or buoying yourself with alcohol don’t do it. Instead make a happier, healthier choice.

If you do decide to spend time with family and you know people will be drinking, definitely avoid alcohol. During challenging times like these myself, I found it easier to sometimes retreat to a quiet room and give myself a few minutes break or longer to fortify myself, to pray for help to get through the day without getting frustrated, snappy or picked on and provoked. Sometimes, I’ve simply gone for a walk.

Affirmations and other self-soothing strategies can also help get you in the sobriety mindset mic set. Or follow a maxim of the writing world which is often dispensed by masters of creating wonderful scenes, “get in late and leave early.” Don’t overstay your welcome.

Know your triggers

Do you know why you drink? Is it because an expensive bottle of champagne is thrust upon you by a grateful client or ardent admirer. Would it feel rude or reckless to refuse? Is it because everybody else is getting plastered and you feel left out? Is it because there’s nothing else to drink other than a carton or pithy orange juice?

Forewarned is forarmed. This may include having some alcohol free alternatives on hand, meditating or indulging in other ways to relax so you’re not feeling super stressed. It may mean driving a different way to avoid your local liquor store or sending someone else into the supermarket. Or,  as I’ve already discussed, it might mean giving Christmas a miss.

Or you may, as we did this year, celebrate early when there is less pressure, or keeping it low key—as my daughter and her partner and I did this year by doing Christmas sober over whitebait fritters. No panic shopping, no overcooking, no stress.

I share more tips to help you name and avoid your triggers and remain alcohol-free in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Make time for joy

So often people are stressing about Christmas, stressing about buying gifts are exchanging the ones that got, feeding everyone entertaining everyone and it’s really easy to fit it about making time for yourself and things that spark joy

Do something that gets yourself a natural high whether it’s body surfing on the beach, engaging in a long lost her baby, well known in a new one, joy is the perfect antidote to stress and a proven sobriety strategy.

Authentic joy, rather than drunk delirium, has phenomenal energy and incredible versatility. In The Book of Joy the Dalai Lama shares that Paul Ekman, a longtime friend, and famed emotions researcher, has written that joy is associated with feelings as varied as:

• Pleasure (of the five senses)

• Amusement (from a chuckle to a belly laugh)

• Contentment (a calmer kind of satisfaction)

• Excitement (in response to novelty or challenge)

• Relief (following upon another emotion, such as fear, anxiety, and even pleasure)

• Wonder (before something astonishing and admirable)

• Ecstasy or bliss (transporting us outside ourselves)

• Exultation (at having accomplished a difficult or daring task)

• Radiant pride (when our children earn a special honor)

• Elevation (from having witnessed an act of kindness, generosity, or compassion)

• Gratitude (the appreciation of a selfless act of which one is the beneficiary)

Buddhist scholar and former scientist Matthieu Ricard has added three other more exalted states of joy: rejoicing (in someone else’s happiness, what Buddhists call mudita), delight or enchantment (a shining kind of contentment) and spiritual radiance (a serene joy born from deep well-being and benevolence).

When you tap into your joy, you tap into an unlimited reservoir of energy and enthusiasm.

The French take it further—of course! Jouissance, literally means orgasmic joy. It’s derived from the word from jouir (“to enjoy”). Jouissance is to enjoy something a lot!

Find joy in whatever is present in your life today.

Encourage yourself, challenge any mistaken assumptions that finding joy is not possible for you, and boost your belief by collecting examples of people who followed their joy and made a rewarding career, enriched their lives and stayed sober. Collette Baron-Reid is just one of many inspiring examples…oh, and when I follow my joy I inspire myself!

 

Nurture yourself

Christmas falls at the end of the year and everybody is pretty fatigued so be sure to make plenty of time to rest, sleep and nurture yourself. Importantly, let go of the guilt. Lounge around in your bed if you feel like it, take yourself offline for a staycation at home, Or escape the routine somewhere you can be free of all your “to-do list.”

Lie in, read a book, close the door on the world, detox from social media and do whatever it takes to give yourself a break so you can emerge into the new year and relaxed and reinspired.

You’ll find more tips to help you rest and nurture yourself in my post, Sleep More, Drink Less: How to Quit or Moderate Alcohol and Cure Insomnia—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/sleep-more-drink-less-how-to-cure-insomnia/

Commit to a brand new year in 2019. This may mean embracing the joy of therapy and finally releasing yourself of all the wounds and triggers that may have driven you to drink.

As my daughter so sagely said,

“The thing that not drinking for the last 11 months has given me is the space to have nowhere to run from the shit that I was needing to work through. Now when I have a glass it feels lighter because I’m not using it for that purpose. I’m not hiding from anything.”

This year my mom also shared with me things that happened in my childhood that I had completely forgotten or rather my mind had erased as part of my survival strategy. She also shared her upbringing and childhood memories of her mother’s drinking and alcoholism and the violence in her home.

As Wayne Dyer once said, “A woman who heals herself heals her mother, heals her daughter, and heals every woman around her.”

 

Here, enjoying an alcohol-free Christmas is my daughter Hannah Joy and her beautiful partner Josh.

 

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

 

Did you enjoy this post?

 

You might like:

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

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

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

High Sobriety: Changing Our Relationship With Alcohol

Does talk therapy actually work?

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

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.

 

Does talk therapy actually work?

Monday, August 6th, 2018

 

One of my clients Romana drew the image above. The title ‘naval gazer’ accurately sums up what can happen when too much time is spent dwelling on problems, suppressing pain, and not enough time healing, actively evaluating options and challenging any unhelpful assumptions. In a state of paralysis, many people get bogged down.

Sometimes, a simple but effective way to get unstuck is to explore a range of different thinking styles – ideally, ones that challenge crippled thinking, open up possibilities and move you into a state of inspired, solutions-focused action. This is where working with a therapist can help. However, many people resist going to see a counselor or therapist because they assume that all they will achieve from the session is ruminating on their problems and more navel-gazing.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. A skilled counselor can not only provide much-needed support but also act as an objective, independent sounding board who can help you get to the root of your issues, add a liberal dose of much-needed empathy and understanding and support you to make the changes necessary to empower your life. As one of my clients told me, “It wasn’t until someone listened to me, really listened, that I knew what I really thought.”

All too often, no one gives us the space to think or express our emotions. Well-meaning family members, work colleague, friends and even strangers may dispense advice—not all of it is helpful. Take the example of Simon whose wife of thirty-years had recently died. “You just need to suck it up and get on with it,” a friend told him. Working through his grief in therapy proved to be a much more helpful and healing approach.

“I thought I should be able to handle it. I told myself I wouldn’t get upset, ” he told me.

“Who told you that when you lose someone you love very, very much that you shouldn’t feel something?” I asked. He shrugged.

We both agreed it was natural to cry. I suggested that if he didn’t feel anything – if he didn’t feel loss, or grief, sadness or pain, he would be inhuman. Cognitively we can often fool our minds, but the heart is often our greatest, and most honest, teacher.

In our Western culture, so many people, particularly men, bottle up their feelings. So many negative emotions are stuffed down and repressed.Some experts say that these repressed feelings are contributing factors behind the escalating rates of depression, anxiety, alcohol addiction, drug abuse, and suicide.

Tom, whose sister took her own life when he was in his earlier 20’s recalls his parents praising him for showing a lack of emotion, “Good boy for not crying,” they told him. Bottling trauma is neither helpful nor good.

Now in his fifties, Tom suffers from mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Rather than seek help releasing these feelings, including anger toward his parents, he abuses alcohol in an attempt to anaesthetize dark feelings. And he’s not alone. As I share in my books, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More, and Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life) a great many people drink alcohol to mask or numb the symptoms of their wounds.

No one escapes walking in this world without some degree of hurt. But for many people, this hurt is profoundly deep. The first cuts, experts (and songwriters) say are the deepest—very often these wounds are inflicted during childhood. Tragically, what should be a happy time of innocence is one of incalculable pain. Incest, rape, physical abuse, emotional neglect—and many more horrid things happen to people growing up.

Many wounded souls never receive therapy. Reasons vary. For some, it appears too costly, for others they think that talking to a therapist make them weak. Tony Soprano, one of the toughest characters to storm across our TV screens in the award-winning show, The Sopranos, sought therapy to deal with repressed emotions which contributed to his anxiety attacks.

In 2017 movie superstar Brad Pitt revealed he had a shocking drinking problem that wrecked his marriage and tore his young family apart. “I feel retarded when it comes to expressing my emotions,” he said as he opened up about his battle with alcohol. To help him kick the alcohol habit he opted to face his demons and learn how to express and handle emotions by seeking the services of a qualified and skilled counselor.

Asking for help, whether this is addiction counseling, relationship therapy, coaching to deal with stress at work, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, or something else, isn’t easy for many successful people. However, it’s often what you need to gain a fresh perspective, overcome obstacles, heal wounds and expand your life. You may like to check out this interesting series discussing why men struggle to express their feelings.

As a qualified counselor and holistic therapist, I know that very often integrative talk-therapy which draws on an eclectic range of techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and other modalities, including creative and art-based techniques can be extremely effective.

Therapy needn’t be gloomy. A lot of healthy healing can be achieved using playfulness and fun. Personally and professionally I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform peoples’ lives. These are also scientifically-validated tools that enhance spiritual health and aid recovery.

Creativity in its various guises is 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 unhelp subconscious belief 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 and reckless behavior I had adopted to belong, to bolster the confidence I never felt, to hide the discomfort of living in my own skin.

When I completed my counseling training many years ago I was also introduced to Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). REBT originated in the mid-1950s as Ellis became increasingly aware and frustrated by the ineffectiveness of traditional psychoanalysis to produce a change in his patients.

The REBT worldview is that people often make themselves emotional victims by their own distorted, unrealistic, and irrational thinking patterns. Ellis takes an essentially optimistic view of people but criticizes some humanistic approaches as being too soft at times and failing to address the fact that people can virtually “self-destruct” through irrational and muddled thinking.

According to Ellis and the REBT worldview, all people are born with self-defeating tendencies. When something goes against your goals, your values or desires, feelings of failure, rejection, etc., can set in; but you have a choice.

You have a choice of feeling terrified, panicky, depressed, self-pitying, self-doubting, etc.—and succumbing to these emotions.

But these feelings can prevent you from making positive changes—and may drive you to drink, for example.

Which emotion you choose, according to REBT practitioners, is thought to mainly depend on your belief system—not your goals and values, but what you tell yourself when your goals and values are thwarted or blocked.

We all have a rational set of beliefs called “preferences.” In this context, “rational” means self-helping beliefs, such as, “I don’t like what is going on.” “I wish it weren’t so.” “How annoying?” “Let’s see what I can do about it.”

Many people very frequently pick irrational beliefs, referred to as “demands,” such as, “Because I don’t like what is going on, it absolutely should not be allowed.” “It can’t happen.” “I can’t stand it.” “Everyone should love me–if they don’t, I am worthless.” “It’s horrible, I think I’ll give up” (or, when taken to the extreme, “I’ll kill myself”).

Ellis’ therapeutic approach is not to challenge the clients’ goals and values, but instead attack their absolute demands about achieving these values. The emphasis of the therapy is on changing the way the client thinks about the behavior or the upsetting event, rather than on changing the behavior itself.

This is a critical point—it is not the actual event but our view of the event that is critical.

The task of the REBT therapist is to help clients’ challenge and self-correct thought patterns and minimize irrational ideas, while simultaneously helping them to change their dysfunctional feelings and behaviors. Challenging the irrational statement is key to changing an entire philosophy of life.

The ABCDEF Method

Perhaps Ellis’s most important concrete methodological contribution is his A-B-C–D-E-F theory, which can be summarized as follows:

A – the “objective” facts, events, behaviors that an individual encounters. (I call this, ‘the activating event’).

B – the person’s beliefs about ‘A’

C – the emotional consequences, or how a person feels and acts about ‘A’

D – disputing ‘B’ irrational beliefs

E – the effect that disputation has on the client

F – new feelings and behaviors

 

Example:

I helped a friend apply the ABCDE method following a Boxing Day alcohol-fuelled drama which impacted his son. The following is an edited extract (I have changed names to protect people’s privacy):

A – the activating event and “objective” facts, events, behaviors encountered.

Following Boxing Day, Tim, who is nineteen, rang and told his father, Simon about an alleged assault between him and his mother’s new boyfriend. Tim says both his mom and her boyfriend were drunk.

 

B – the beliefs about ‘A’

Simon is waiting to speak to the ‘old-one’ (his ex) to determine the facts but believes his son’s account of what happens.  The ‘old one’ is not returning his call.

He believes the reason she is not returning his call is because she is at fault, and that an assault did occur.

 

C – the emotional consequences, or how Simon feels and acts about ‘A’

Simon’s emotions are heightened. He’s feeling frustrated, powerless, angry, resentful and fearful for his son’s safety. Yet, aspects of his son’s version of what happened concern him. He feels confused as to what really occurred.

Simon drinks 3 bottles of beer and goes to the bottle store to buy more.

Simon believes alcohol relaxes him, minimizes stress, and helps him stay calmer and in control while he waits.

Over the course of the evening (3 hours), he drinks five 500ml bottles of beer (11 standard drinks.) Feeling stressed, I join him—minimizing my drinking by consuming small quantities in six crystal glasses (in total 500 ml, or 2.2 standard drinks.)

After speaking to ‘the old one’ and his son on a three-way call, and resolving all misunderstandings, I asked how he feels now that he knows his son is not at risk. He shuts me down and says, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

He doesn’t speak to me again that evening.

 

D – disputing ‘B’ irrational beliefs

Rather than work myself into a state, I challenged my belief that by drinking with Simon we would both be relaxed. Alcohol is a depressant, it depletes your energy, and increases symptoms of stress already triggered by external events, I reminded myself.

It increases anxiety, melancholy, gloom, and aggression, which is why Tim’s mom and her partner argued, and why Tim ‘lunged’ at this stepfather when he told him to mind his business.

I counsel myself, “Alcohol is ethanol, a flammable, colorless chemical compound—it’s poison, also used to fuel cars, masquerading as a happy drink.”

 

E – effect that disputation has

The episode strengthened my resolve never to drink during times of stress, and my conviction that I don’t want to ingest poisons.

Simon’s knowledge that his ex is an alcoholic causes him to question his own dependency on alcohol during times of stress.

This change in thinking affects Simon by making him more committed to controlling his drinking and being a role model to his son.

 

F – new feelings and behaviors

Simon and I felt calmer and more optimistic about the benefits of not drinking.

Simon felt more empowered and in control now that he has discovered the truth about his ex’s drinking and how her relationship with a man who drinks excessively affects his son.

He decides to take control by helping Tim find a way to gain his independence and leave home, knowing that despite urging his ex to seek help for her drinking that, as with other times, this may have fallen on deaf ears.

Tim successfully finds work that he loves which means he is seldom at home and tells his father that alcohol has no place in his own life. Tim is happier sober!

 

As a holistic practitioner and life coach I also know there is a wide range of alternative healing approaches that yield remarkable, extremely quick results. It concerns me, and a lot of other health professionals, that too often people turn to antidepressant medication, Despite research that cites the lower effectiveness, for many people this still appears to be the solution of choice prescribed by many medical professions.

“Pills are cheap,” my doctor told me when I asked her why counseling wasn’t recommended to more people. It may be cheap, but worrying it is not always effective and the side-effects can also do more harm than healing. Rather than offer short-term help very often people come to rely on medical prescriptions for decades. In an extract from his book, Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected SolutionsJohann Hari, who took antidepressants for 13 years, says masking the pain does not offer long-term relief and calls for a new approach.

“I was a teenager when I swallowed my first antidepressant. I was standing in the weak English sunshine, outside a pharmacy in a shopping centre in London. The tablet was white and small, and as I swallowed, it felt like a chemical kiss. That morning I had gone to see my doctor and I had told him – crouched, embarrassed – that pain was leaking out of me uncontrollably, like a bad smell, and I had felt this way for several years. In reply, he told me a story. There is a chemical called serotonin that makes people feel good, he said, and some people are naturally lacking it in their brains. You are clearly one of those people. There are now, thankfully, new drugs that will restore your serotonin level to that of a normal person. Take them, and you will be well. At last, I understood what had been happening to me, and why.

However, a few months into my drugging, something odd happened. The pain started to seep through again. Before long, I felt as bad as I had at the start. I went back to my doctor, and he told me that I was clearly on too low a dose. And so, 20 milligrams became 30 milligrams; the white pill became blue. I felt better for several months. And then the pain came back through once more. My dose kept being jacked up, until I was on 80mg, where it stayed for many years, with only a few short breaks. And still the pain broke back through.”

You can read a summary of his views, including his claims of an over-riding profit motive by pharmaceutical companies, in his interview with The Guardian. ‘Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?”

A good therapist will often share strategies that can help you rebalance the hormones in your brain, or refer you to other health professionals like nutritionists and dietitians. There are a great many ways to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs, including meditation, exercise, sunlight, vitamins, and other low-cost approaches. Many will save you money, boost your health, help you reduce weight and improve your relationships—here I’m talking about eliminating or cutting back alcohol consumption.

Alcohol has been found to significantly reduce serotonin 45 minutes after drinking. As this article in SpiritScience claims, there is also a clear link between alcohol consumption and violence or other types of aggressive behavior. Aggression is also heavily linked to low serotonin levels and may be due to alcohol’s disrupting effects on serotonin metabolism.

In an article which appears in  Psychology Today, F. Diane Barth, a psychotherapist, and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City cites research confirming the ineffectiveness of antidepressant medication compared with other therapies, including talk therapy. In the November 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind: “Getting to Know Me: Psychodynamic therapy has been caricatured as navel-gazing, but studies show powerful benefits,” claims Jonathan Shedler. Shedler, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and director of psychology at the University of Colorado Hospital Outpatient Psychiatry Service. As Barth notes, Shelder ‘combines anecdotes from clients and therapists with fascinating research to explain something that those of us who have practiced “insight” therapy (sometimes also called “talk” therapy) have known for a long time: psychodynamic psychotherapy works. It helps clients find solutions not only to specific symptoms but also to difficulties at work, in their social lives, and with self-esteem.

For example, Shedler writes, “One major study found an ‘effect size’-a measure of treatment benefit – of 0.97” for psychodynamic psychotherapy. “For CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), 0.68 is a typical effect size. For antidepressant medication, the average effect size is 0.31.”

Barth describes seven features that researchers have found contribute to the power and effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy: “exploring emotions, examining avoidances, identifying recurring patterns, discussing past experience, focusing on relationships, and examining the patient/therapist relationship.”

As a result of counseling, many people choose to connect or reconnect with lapsed spiritual or religious rituals. I love integrating spiritual approaches into my ‘talk therapy.’ Many people have lost their union with God because of the hypocritical dogma which has polluted many faith systems. However, prayer, for example, comes in many shapes, colors, and textures.

Many recovering alcoholics, prosperous creatives and successful business people, including Deepak Chopra, Julia Cameron, Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay, refer to prayer in several forms, including describing it as the voice of God, intuition, higher self, inner goddess, or their Sacred Divine. In her book Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, Marianne Williamson, who also shares her early dysfunctional relationship with her mother, speaks of prayer as a way of “focusing our eyes,” dramatically transforming our orientation, releasing us “from the snares of lower energies,” and aligning “our internal energies with truth”.

Prayer, or invoking a higher power, is revered by many for its power to help them reclaim their strength, find their inner power and overcome tragedy. You may enjoy reading my earlier post on spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/spiritual-approaches-to-the-treatment-of-alcohol-addiction/

 

Whether you elect to seek the services of a therapist, put your faith in God, divine wisdom, spirituality or something else, the truth is very often that safety, guidance, and strength comes from a place within. The right therapist can act as a much needed and much-valued guide who supports you to find solutions to your problems and develop strategies you can apply yourself to regularly to stay well.

 

 

Cassandra is a holistic psychologist, integrative counselor, life coach, and author. To book an appointment or learn more about her wellness-therapies, including how QTC can help you achieve rapid, lasting, transformational change click here >>

Learn more about Cassandra from reading Testimonials to her work.

 

You might like:

Quantum Transformational Coaching—all your questions answered

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

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

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

Life transformed by faith in the stars

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

For more tips to lift your spirits during times of adversity grab your free tip sheet

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

Endings and beginning – just for today don’t worry

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Recently someone close to me went through a very stressful relationship ending, and a client of mine was experiencing a profound sense of grief when she thought about a dream job she walked away from.

As I was talking with these people I was reflecting on the best way to help. During my Reiki training we discussed the work of Elizabeth Kuler Ross and her profound work on the stages of grief – a timely reminder given the above and taking me right back to my counselling training.

I like the way Elizabeth “normalises” the feelings we all experience during times of loss. It is “normal”  and healthy to grieve the loss of someone/something when something ends – whether this is a job you really hoped would work out or a relationship that has come to an end.

Many people get caught up in the shock and anger stages of grief and suffer profoundly.

In my Reiki training we learned the principal – “just for today don’t worry”.  This could help with the shock stage where feelings of worry and anxiety can be torturous and make us feel out of control. Not worrying does not mean not caring, it refers more to the state of mental anguish that occurs when we spend time in our heads over-thinking, catastrophising or fearing things that may actually never come to pass.

We also learn the principal  “just for today don’t be angry” – a helpful affirmation should these feelings arise. Anger is a valid and normal emotion but a very toxic one when abused or sustained too long.  Anger can be a positive force for change, however. It can motivate you to make a change for the better.

I wrote the following, incorporating some of the above, to the young woman whose relationship had ended very traumatically:

Happily, when one door closes another opens – you will return to a meaningful life and by the sound of it quite quickly because you are doing all the right things:

  • Talking with others who care about you and can help.;
  • Acknowledging your feelings; caring for the person you are losing but not being controlled by them;
  • Tapping into your own intuition and sense of what is right for you;
  • Taking care of yourself and recognising the need for rest;
  • Acknowledging that the relationship you are in no longer works for you. This is important as so many people try to hang on – finding comfort in the known rather than the unknown – even though the known is no longer comfortable at all. Sometimes the comfort rut can be the most uncomfortable place of all

In Reiki we learn that energy flows where energy goes. Focus your energy on the things, people, and circumstances that bring you peace. Keep looking ahead to the dreams and goals you have for your own life.

What can you do to help move through the stages of grief when you experience loss?

 

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.

 

You might like:

Does talk therapy actually work?

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

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

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

Life transformed by faith in the stars

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

For more tips to lift your spirits during times of adversity grab your free tip sheet

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

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

 

“Two of my close friends have quit alcohol inspired by my sobriety. I’m really happy and proud about that. At least I could make changes to the life of others.”

 

Giving up alcohol is a heroic journey—it’s not easy and it’s not a quick-fix, but inevitably there is a happy ending and you are rewarded with a life more beautiful. The journey to sobriety very often takes extreme courage, tenacity, and resilience in the face of obstacles, setbacks and, occasionally, defeat.

Alcohol addiction remains a hidden and stigmatic problem marked by denial and fear.  There are millions suffering alone, afraid to ask the question, ‘am I drinking too much?’ Reading and hearing about others who felt similarly and share their stories of triumphing over addiction is inspirational and transformational. I know this personally and professionally.

I honor and give thanks to Justin Raj for being willing to share his hero’s journey (I use this term in a gender-neutral way). The word “hero” comes from a Greek root that means to protect and serve. The hero is connected with self-sacrifice. He or she is the person who transcends the ego and incorporates all the separate parts of themselves to become a true Self.

I asked Justin that as he responded to the questions he may like to recall the details of his journey from alcohol to sobriety as though his journey was a movie, recalling all the aspects that had the greatest impact and both his decision and his success in controlling alcohol. I have structured the questions I asked Justin by drawing on Christopher Vogler’s Story Structure.

“The reader is usually invited to identify with the hero”, says Vogler. “You admire the hero’s qualities and want to be like him or her, but the hero also has flaws. Weaknesses, quirks, and vices make a hero more appealing” – again, I honor Justin for not sanctioning his responses. He has been brutally honest, shared from this heart, and spoken the truth in the heartfelt desire that those who read his story may be emboldened and inspired to join him in joyful sobriety.

 

Q. You recently gave up alcohol. What was your life like when you were drinking? What, if any problems, or issues did you face?

 

I started drinking at the age of 18, I still remember clearly the day I experimented with alcohol.

It was during a Christmas party at my home. I took some brandy from the bottle from which my dad was drinking. I felt dizzy after two drinks and I puked. Next day I woke up with a headache and I was not well for two days.

During my days of higher studies, I started drinking with friends and it became a norm to celebrate with drinks.

It was when I started my own business in 2011 that I realized that my drinking was affecting my business and life. In 2014 my business failed terribly.

I joined an Alcohol Anonymous group in my hometown. I thought AA could help me quit drinking. But, AA here is filled with spirituality, prayers, boring lectures and public confessions. I quit the group after two months and continued with drinking.

When I was drinking, I was failing at any endeavor I undertook. The only thing I thought about was getting drunk and having fun. I even thought of making money just to have drinks. I was penalized for drunken driving several times, ended up in a number of illicit sexual relationships and also involved in a fist fight with strangers and friends in a bar.

 

Q: What was the catalyst for change?

The catalyst happened on the night of 24th February 2018. I had a road accident in which I hit an elderly pedestrian with my motorbike. My left forearm was broken and dislocated. I had to undergo a surgery. My family and friends came to know that I was drunk when I had the accident.

Even after the accident and surgery, I continued drinking regularly. I visited a nearby bar with my broken hand resting in an arm-sling. After observing this addictive behavior of mine, my family took my drinking seriously.

One of my cousins who is a psychiatrist-counselor recommended me to attend a counseling session with a friend of hers. It was after the counseling session that I decided to quit.

 

Q: Was there ever a point when you knew you needed to stop drinking but refused ‘the call’ or had second thoughts about giving up? What obstacles did you face in order to stay firm in your decision?

 

Yes, whenever I decide to quit alcohol, I had second thoughts: ‘why should I?’ Alcohol is the only answer I have to escape from my boredom, to have fun and pass my free time. I didn’t know anything other than drinking alcohol to engage myself with. To me, peer pressure was less. I don’t have any friends who compelled me to drink. I can’t blame anyone other than myself.

 

Q: What sources of aid did you receive to continue on the path to sobriety? i.e. Did anyone appear to help you? A mentor, friend, adviser, support group etc.

 

Counseling sessions were great. It was those three days of counseling, that changed my attitude towards drinking. Then the books the counselor recommended. One of the books was yours, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Your Beautiful Mind happened to be the first book in my life I read on alcoholism. It was a well written, informative and inspiring book.

I spent three weeks after the counseling sessions to read books on alcoholism. Reading helped me a lot. Knowledge is real power. My family and friends also gave great support. Two of my close friends have quit alcohol inspired by my sobriety. I’m really happy and proud about that. At least I could help make changes in the lives of others.

 

Q: At what point did you truly commit to giving up drinking and follow with action? Describe the point when you crossed the threshold.

 

It was the road accident, counseling sessions, reading books on alcoholism and knowing more about the menace of alcohol, that motivated me to strongly decided to quit alcohol for life.

 

Q: Once you gave up drinking did you face, or were you confronted with, any difficult challenges (ranging from minor struggles to setbacks) that threatened your resolve and may have defeated a lesser person. What tests did you face, what allies did you meet?

The only enemy I have to face was myself. As I said earlier, none of my friends compelled me to drink ever in my life. It was my decision to start drinking and it is the addictive nature of alcohol which kept me hooked. Today, I’m getting great support from my family and friends. The happiness my mom, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends experience after I embraced sobriety is priceless.

It has been two months. I have been sober and I will remain so for the rest of my life.

 

Q: Did you emerge wiser from these trials? In what way did these tests help you prepare for the ultimate test—unwavering sobriety. Looking back now, what advice or warning would you give to others about what could go wrong, and possibly derail their decision to give up drinking?

Our life is a great teacher. Out of my drunkenness and reckless riding, I hit an innocent, elderly pedestrian with my motorbike. He was 73 years old. Still today, I can’t recollect how I hit him or what happened that night. If that elderly person was dead, I would have ended up in jail. To me, thinking about that incident is still scary.

Alcohol is a legally available addictive substance. People cant stop drinking because they are hooked by its addictive nature and nothing else. People think drinking is fun. Even I thought so till a few months ago. But the truth is, I still can’t remember the fun I had while I was drinking.

It is saddening that our society and media is all praise for drinking and smoking just trapping youngsters into the mindset that drinking and smoking are essential for a fun-filled life.

Life is more beautiful if you take away alcohol from it. We can have everlasting, memorable fun and experiences without the influence of alcohol. My advice is don’t try alcohol if you haven’t already and quit it if you are using it.

 

Q: What were your deepest fears during this time? Some people describe this as a battle with “the dark villain” – an inner battle whereby they faced and overcame their own demon and inner fears. Was this your experience? In what way?

The dark villain is me. I was engaged in an inner battle with my own demon. If we need to change our life, we have to take that decision by ourselves, don’t we?

Even before going to counseling I had determined with a half-heart that I had to quit drinking. My family has a background of alcohol and drug abuse. My father died from alcohol-related disease, my maternal grandfather died due to heavy drinking. My paternal grandfather was also a heavy drinker. A few of my uncles, cousins, and family friends are also suffering from alcoholism.

I started experiencing alcoholic depression for the past few years which I didn’t recognize. It was only after counseling that I realized that I was suffering from depression—not from a hangover. I have a great many reasons to quit alcohol not a single reason to continue with it.

 

Q: Describe/recount the time you truly knew you had succeeded in defeating the enemy of alcohol when you transformed into a new state of being – where fears were vanquished and the new you was born.

When you find no reason to drink alcohol, you will quit. What I thought was fun wasn’t fun anymore. When I get bored I have better things to do today other than drinking.

Why should I drink and invite trouble as well as create a deep hole in my purse, if I can do productive, enjoyable things like reading, writing, working out and talking with friends which add value to my life and myself?

We are basically our thoughts. When we change our thoughts, ultimately we change ourselves.

 

Q: What rewards did you reap—external (knowledge, a promotion, career success, improved relationships, better health etc.) and/or as an inner reward (personal growth, fulfillment, freedom, self-respect etc.)

As I said earlier, I don’t have any reason to drink. Moreover, I have more reasons not to drink. Even after two months of alcohol-free life, I can really feel the changes in myself and things I do.

First and foremost, my financial situation has improved. I spent too much money on this destructive habit of mine. I started doing things I love with more vigor and passion. I’m getting an everlasting, joyful and positive high from it. Alcohol disconnected me from my life, my business and myself. Today, I feel that connection is back. It is priceless.

 

Q: Having gained the rewards, and with nothing left to prove, how was your early experience of sobriety?

For the past four years, I was struggling with my drinking. I tried to quit in all ways I can but in vain. I couldn’t stop drinking even for a week. I never read any books like yours in those days.

Today, I feel if I had read the books I read today or attended a good counseling session, I should have got the power to quit alcohol for life earlier. And also I should have avoided all the troubles I had to overcome in those alcohol-filled days.

 

Q: Was there ever a point where you felt lulled into a false sense of security, but in reality, there was one last challenge you had to face? Perhaps the desire for alcohol was not completely vanquished or perhaps something plunged you into a temptation to drink—just when you thought it was safe to breathe easy again?

It was my lack of knowledge and the addictive nature of alcohol. You know, I quit sugar two years ago when I learned the bad effects of it on my physical and mental health. I was too much addicted to sugar from my childhood and when I learned that it was doing me harm I quit.

Why couldn’t I do it with alcohol, even though, I knew it is bad for health, mind, and my purse?

The only reason is alcohol is addictive. It is normal that we defend our addictions by stating ‘today is Saturday’ ‘my friends are here so we are going to party hard’, ‘I can stop it anytime and many more excuses. These defensive mentalities last only until the day we realize the habit we are nurturing is gradually destructing our mind, body, finances, and relationship with our loved ones. I have met with that stage of self-realization and freed myself from a self-imposed prison of my addictive behavior.

Do you think, I want to go back to the prison again? I don’t think so.

 

Describe the moment when you felt truly reborn into a new, joyous form, with your beautiful mind – able to control the desire, temptation or compulsion to drink alcohol. In what way have you been rewarded for your courageous and determined journey?

I can give full credit to the psychiatrist who counseled me. He has a decade-long experience in dealing with alcohol and drug addicts. His level of knowledge fascinated me. He made me realize that drinking alcohol, which I thought was joyful fun, is, in fact, an illusion.

The counseling sessions usually last for three days. By the second day, I learned that what I was doing is wrong and decided to quit alcohol for life. The last day of the session was just a friendly talk and he recommended a few books to read including your book.

Today, I’m not thinking the way I used to be. I have changed and I can feel that transformation. I have got myself back. My business has grown, my passions have started blooming and my financial condition has improved. Today, I started welcoming mornings without hangovers and regrets. It feels great!

The book I prefer from all those I have read since committing to sobriety is your book: Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

 

I’m so thrilled to have been able to help! As I write this post, Justin is working on his business plan and also preparing for an entrance exam for his doctoral degree in journalism—something he doubts he’d be achieving if he was still drinking.

Below is a copy of the review Justin Raj left on Amazon.

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 the 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 addictions 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!”

 

It was lovely feedback to receive! All power to Justin… I’m so proud of him!

 

Are you struggling with alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction? Are you worried you’re drinking too much? Or are you curious about the life-changing magic of sobriety?

I hope Justin’s story of self-empowered, purpose and passion-filled sobriety provides hope, courage, and determination for you to achieve the same.

“Reading helped me a lot. Knowledge is real power.”

 

Life really is more beautiful sober. You can learn more about Justin Raj and follow his blog here—www.justyjots.com

 

 

This is an edited testimonial for 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

You’ll also find plenty of ongoing support and cheerleading in the Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/Sobrietyexperiment/. Pop along and join us now.

 

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

Simple, Powerful Ways to Stay Positive

Monday, May 14th, 2018

 

Having to fight hard has made me a better architect.

~ Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, architect

 

What’s your default position when things go awry, obstacles challenge your resolve, technology goes belly-up, unforeseen demands on your time derail your plans, or you receive negative feedback?

Does your mood darken? Setbacks are normal foes you’ll meet on the path to success, but how you greet them will determine the outcome.

Keep your thoughts light. You may need to bring out the big guns to wage war against doubt, despair, and other dark, heavy thoughts.

While they’re often part of the journey to success, you will need to slay them to stay motivated and optimistic.

Prosperous people turn again and again toward the things that create light. They don’t ignore the shadows, but they don’t allow their mindset to be overloaded by darkness.

Acceptance, optimism, willpower, grit, stubborn determination, and a resolve to persevere are critical skills to cultivate, as is flexibility and the willingness to adapt.

Sometimes when it’s all too hard and you need to hibernate, you may temporarily quit. You can take a lesson from nature in this regard.

But as sure as night follows day and the seasons have their rhythm when you follow your gift, your purpose, the thing that makes you happy, before long you’ll be up and thriving again.

 

Mining for Gold

Resist complaining and victim talk—it increases toxicity in your mind and body, hampering your progress.

Throw your energy into positivity—strive to engineer and implement solutions, no matter how small.

Ask for help if too much darkness creeps in.

Peer into the darkness and look for the gift. How can you move from darkness towards the light?

 

For more tips to lift your spirits during times of adversity grab your free tip sheet

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

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Staying happy and motivated is like caring for delicate roses, you need to nurture your fragrant dreams every day and be vigilant in keeping predators away. As a coaching client, who suffers from reoccurring bouts of depression, said recently, “Changing my view from one where I am trying to motivate myself, to one where I am inspired by the things that motivate me will help me achieve my goals.”

Successful people don’t force themselves into submission, instead, they harness their love and enthusiasm for their projects to lift them higher. Successful people also know how to bounce back from inevitable setbacks. Guided by the  wisdom of Leonardo da Vinci, here are 6 things successful people do to become and stay motivated:

 

1.) HARNESS THE POWER OF PASSION

 

If there’s no love, what then?

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Without love you don’t have energy. Without energy you have nothing.

Passion is a source of unlimited energy from your soul that enables you to achieve extraordinary results. Following your passion and claiming your authentic self is a great way to boost your vitality. Whether you call it joy, love or obsession or desire, these powerful heart-felt emotions are natural opiates for your mind, body, and soul.  It’s the fire that ignites your potential and inspires you to be who you really are.

When people are pursuing something they are passionate about their drive and determination is infinite. They become like pieces of elastic able to stretch to anything and accommodate any setback. People immobilized by fear and passivity snap like a twig. They lack resilience.

Passion gives people a reason for living and the confidence and drive to pursue their dreams. Leonardo was a man of many loves and deep obsessions. These passions imbued him with infinite energy—powering his creativity, courage, resolve, and tenacity.

Sadly, when you’re feeling anxious, depressed or stressed, the things that you love are the first things to be traded. Nothing seems to spark joy. But, when you do something that feeds your soul you may be amazed at how quickly fire ignites.

As Leonardo once said, “No labor is sufficient to tire me”. Even when he was exhausted by life, his passion sustained him.

 

2.) BEGIN WITH THE END IN SIGHT

 

There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Beginning with the end in sight is a powerful way of strengthening motivation, persistence, and perseverance. The future does belong to those believe in the beauty of their dreams and schemes

Every extraordinary achievement starts as someone’s daydream. Dream big, become audaciously obsessed, and fuel your verve—pursue the vision that sparkles!

Let desire propel you forward by acting as if, seeing as if, feeling as if, tasting as if, touching as if your success has already been achieved.

Jessie Burton’s empowering words, “Always picture succeeding, never let it fade. Always picture success, no matter how badly things seem to be going in the moment,” may inspire you as much as they do me.

Her advice reminds me to watch my tendency to visualize and picture failure. Sometimes when I embark on an inspired quest I tell myself messages of failure, and as a result, I feel failure. This is hardly a formula for success!

Jesse Burton, the bestselling author of the highly acclaimed books The Muse and The Miniaturist, is very inspiring to me because she is so honest about her own battles with mental health—including anxiety.

Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Franklin, and Julia Cameron, playwright and author of phenomenal bestseller The Artist’s Way, all understand the transformational power of keeping words, thoughts, and feelings in journals. As did Leonardo da Vinci.

He was a prolific recorder of all things that interested and excited him. He maintained over 13,000 pages of scientific notes and drawings on natural philosophy, life, travel, and mysteries.

“Preserve these sketches as your assistants and masters,” he once wrote in his journal.

His notebooks not only log his interests and the things he witnessed with his own eyes, but it was also a medium by which he channeled his intuition. They also helped him shape his vision for future creations he wished to transform from his mind into tangible reality.

Whether you keep a passion journal, dream board or store your vision in your mind, visualizing your preferred future is an essential tool for your success.

 

3.) 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, loss. Or it may trigger a fear of standing out. You may associate ambition with negative traits, like aggression.

Reframe ambition and look to your heroes and heroines. 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.

“Dream big,” encourages James Patterson, currently the bestselling author in the world. “Don’t set out to write a good thriller. Set out to write a #1 thriller.” 

Given that science has barely even begun to explore the real potential of the human mind, it’s a funny thing how easily we persuade ourselves of its limitations and settle for less.

You’ve probably caught yourself thinking about a big dream, some inspired course of action, and at some point talked yourself down by saying, “I could never do that!”

Or perhaps you’ve come up with a bright idea about something and then shelved it because somebody said dismissively, “You can’t do that!” or “That’s crap.”

Or perhaps, as I have so often said to myself before reconnecting with my millionaire mindset, “I can’t do this. I can’t write this book. It’s too big. Who do I think I am trying to write such a complex book?”

But how do you really know what you are capable of unless you try?

Paulo Coehlo, the author of The Alchemist, once said: “Know what you want and try to go beyond your own expectations. Improve your dancing, practice a lot, and set a very high goal, one that will be difficult to achieve. Because that is an artist’s million: to go beyond one’s limits. An artist who desires very little and achieves it has failed in life.”

Thinking big demands a long step outside the comfort zone of what you know.

It can feel scary to contemplate stepping out of the space where you feel you know what you’re doing and you feel fully in control.

It can feel frightening to explore what it would be like if you were to leave the comfort-rut and attempt to climb toward a new summit. You don’t know for sure where it will lead. But everyone who’s ever made a success of anything started with a big dream.

And you can, too.

Tim Ferris dreams big by adopting and cherishing his beginner’s mind. Rather than succumb to the fear of failure, he changes his mindset, and affirms his love of variety and challenge and being a perpetual debutante.

“Think small, to go big” encourages Gary Keller in his book The One Thing. “Going small” is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do.

“It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. It’s a tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make a focus.”

When you think too big, achieving success can feel overwhelming, time-consuming, and complicated. Calendars can become overloaded and success starts to feel out of reach. So, people opt out and either quit or settle for less.

“Unaware that big success comes when we do a few things well, they get lost trying to do too much, and in the end, accomplish too little,” says Keller.

“Over time they lower their expectations, abandon their dreams, and allow their life to get small. This is the wrong thing to make small.”

 

4.) PLAN FOR SUCCESS

 

God sells us all things at the price of labor

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Planning and effort prevent poor performance. This is such a powerful message when it comes to our goals, especially if you’re someone who equates planning with feeling controlled. You may be looking to the future thinking, “Someday! Someday I will achieve that.”

How can you be assured that things will happen if you don’t plan your action steps effectively, efficiently and productively?

So many people end their lives disappointed that things didn’t come to fruition. “Why didn’t it happen for me? Why, when it happens for other people.” Successful people don’t sit at home waiting for things to happen. They go out and conquer things.

If you’re sitting back waiting for ‘someday’ you have a problem—you think you have time!

Successful people set goals and start breaking them down into bite-size chunks. If you want to generate $100,000 out of your business in a year what do you need to do to get there? If you want to start a new relationship, or improve the one you’ve got, develop your success strategy. Your efforts will be repaid in exchange for your labor and your courage to try.

Planning for success also means planning for possible failure. As Oprah once said, “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”

Planning to for success also means showing up! Successful people don’t spend their time thinking and strategizing about success.

To be inspired is to be in spirit, and inspiration has to find you working or it won’t come out to play. Eighty percent of success is empowering your mind, body, and spirit by showing up.

Showing up requires the ability to balance creativity with flexibility and discipline.

To be disciplined is to be committed, devoted, able to control your SELF in accordance with, and sometimes against, your desires.

You may be a genius, gifted or have an IQ of 160, but if you lack self-discipline and follow-through your success will be limited.

Leonardo affirmed the importance of this by writing reminders to himself of the superiority of doing to knowing.“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough: we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

 

5.) CHASE THE LIGHT

 

Darkness steeps everything with its hue, and the more an object is divided from darkness the more it shows its true and natural color

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

What’s your default position when things go awry, obstacles challenge your resolve, technology goes belly-up or unforeseen demands on your time derail your plans?

Does your mood darken? Setbacks are normal foes you’ll meet on the path to success, but how you greet them will determine the outcome.

Keep your thoughts light. You may need to bring out the big guns to wage war against doubt, despair and other dark, heavy thoughts. While they’re often part of the journey to success, you will need to slay them to stay motivated and optimistic.

Leonardo would turn again and again toward the things that created light. He didn’t ignore the shadows, but he didn’t allow his palette to be overloaded by darkness.

Acceptance, optimism, willpower, grit, stubborn determination and a resolve to persevere are critical skills to cultivate, as is flexibility and the willingness to adapt. Sometimes it’s all too hard and you need to hibernate. You can take a lesson from nature in this regard.

Successful people resist complaining and victim talk—they know it increases toxicity in your mind and body, hampering your progress. Instead, they throw their energy into positivity and strive to engineer and implement solutions, no matter how small.

They also ask for help if too much darkness creeps in, and, rather than suppress, numb or try to ignore problems they peer into the darkness and look for the gift.

The astoundingly innovative and talented British architect Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, faced unimaginable obstacles on her road to success, including battling the predominately male industry who viewed her curvaceous designs with destain. “Having to fight hard has made me a better architect,” she once said.

6.) SAVVY SOBRIETY

 

Here again, many vain pleasures are enjoyed, both by the mind in imagining impossible things, and by the body in taking those pleasures that are often the cause of the failing of life. Extremes are to be avoided

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Alcohol and success don’t make good marriage partners, but they’re often fatally attracted.

While there’s no evidence that Leonardo was a teetotaller, he was a clever man. Experience would have told him what we all know—too much booze muddles the mind, ignites aggression, reduces responsiveness and ultimately depresses.

It’s also hard to quit.

Many successful people limit their drinking or consciously decide not to touch a drop. Keeping their resolve, however, often takes extraordinary willpower.

Spiritual guru to the stars, Deepak Chopra, gave up drinking, saying “I liked it too much.”

Julia Cameron, the author of The Artists Way, fought her way back from alcoholism. Others like Amy Winehouse devastatingly never made it.

Drink to success? Destroying your career, ruining your relationships, sacrificing your sanity, and taking your life is a massive price to pay to celebrate success.

Benefits of not drinking are many, including:

  • Authentic happiness
  • Increased memory and mental performance
  • Better control of your emotions
  • Increased productivity
  • Sweeter relationships
  • Improved confidence, self-esteem
  • Stronger ability to focus on your goals and dreams
  • Greater intuition and spiritual intelligence

The choice is ultimately yours. Only you know the benefits alcohol delivers or the toll it exacts. Consider trialing sobriety—take the 30-day challenge. Experiment with living an alcohol-free life.

Do you need help to moderate or quit drinking? Consider purchasing any of my books in the Mindful Drinking series, including Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety and Mind Over Mojitos: Easy Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life 

 

For more tips to lift your spirits during times of adversity grab your free tip sheet

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

 

Savvy Sobriety: The New Happiness Trend You Need to Know

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

 

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?

We’ll explore more ways to help you discover your driving purpose later in this book, but first, 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 fulfilment

• 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. As I share later in this book, many of the people we look up to, including our political leaders have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol—no wonder it’s hard to 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.

 

Sober

Synonyms

1. Not drunk

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

3. Serene, earnest

4. Not addicted

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

 

Here’s a short excerpt from my Sobriety Journal:

29 Dec 2016.

“A terrible, terrible evening. Me hiding in fear. Brett on a rampage. Smashing my fridge (taking it physically out of the studio and hurling it to the ground). ‘Stress’  brought on by the windows he shattered when he mowed the lawn, his frustration at the fountain not going, mowing the front paddock and returning, his eyes flaming and puffy.

And then drinking. Three bottles of beer, then driving to the store and returning with a giant bottle of Mount Gay rum which he knows I hate him drinking. It always makes him so aggressive. He drinks it straight from the bottle. I feel panic rising in my chest. I feel real fear. I fear for my life.

Smashed pots, plants, my canvases strewn with horrid words I cannot decipher.

I’m cowering because I could quickly become a victim of his frenzied attack. I fear he has lost his mind. He has lost his mind. He has lost control.

I really hate alcohol. I hate what it steals from me. Our love. Our dreams.

 

Although this frightening, truly terrorizing episode happened so long ago, I still feel the fear. That’s what traumatic episodes do to us—their linger in our body waiting to be triggered—or, with help, resolved. It’s a chilling reminder, but also a motivating one, which fuels my commitment for sobriety, and my devotion to helping others free themselves from harm,  save their relationships, regain their sanity—and so many of the other benefits sobriety promises and delivers.

Unlike alcohol, sobriety can be trusted.

Throughout this book, 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 drunks to dull my sparkle.

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.”

This quote, along with the image of a young woman in a glass jar, sending her loving light into the world, is pinned on my wall. The jar represents the shield she places around herself, to protect her from negative people and dark outside forces.

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, however, means 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 with 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?

 

Check out the video below and discover 5 simple ways to moderate your drinking.

 

 P.S.

Did you know that drinking non-alcoholic beer is good for winning gold medals?

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

Journal Your Way to Joyful Sobriety

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

For many people journalling their way to sobriety has been an important part of their recovery.

Journaling is a simple yet supportive means of helping you express your feelings and track your thoughts and progress. It’s a friend when you are in need, a co-creative partner in your success, a cheerleader and a gentle nag-buddy on your life journey.

To minimize stress and boost your bounce mindset, one form of journaling is writing Morning Pages, a strategy developed by Julia Cameron, a recovering alcoholic and the author of The Artist’s Way.

The writing is just a stream of consciousness, writing out whatever you are feeling—good (or what one of my clients calls the “sunnies”) or not so good (“the uglies”).

“It’s a way of clearing the mind—a farewell to what has been and a hello to what will be,” Cameron says.

“Write down just what is crossing your consciousness. Cloud thoughts that move across consciousness. Meeting your shadow and taking it out for a cup of coffee so it doesn’t eddy your consciousness during the day.”

The point of this writing is to work with your subconscious and let it work its magic in the creative, healing process.

Start where you are—commit to a daily practice of writing Morning Pages and journal for self-exploration.

You can find out more about Morning Pages here http://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/

 

The Sobriety Journal

Another form of journaling to support your recovery or to help you cut back on booze is creating a Sobriety Journal—a repository for all things inspirational, supportive and motivating.

Your Sobriety Journal doesn’t need to be fancy, just your go-to place to jot down your thoughts and to place inspirational images. Think of it like scrapbooking.

I prefer mine with no lines. This allows me total freedom. You’ll find some nice blank ones from artist supply stores. I love the Fabriano Black Book 190G A4 Landscape available online from www.gordonharris.co.nz.

My current sobriety journal begins with a couple of opening quotes, one of which I included in this book:

“I gave up alcohol in 1980. I enjoyed it far too much, to the point where I frequently got intoxicated. Everything in my life changed for the better when I stopped. It was the right decision.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Deepak’s words spoke to me—reminding me that it’s not that alcohol is intrinsically evil, but rather it’s just too darned tempting. The fact that a professional man as astute and competent as Deepak Chopra is could only control alcohol by completely stopping sustains my own quest for success. Deepak is a medical doctor, spiritual guru to movie stars and also the founder of the Chopra Addiction & Wellness Center.

I also jotted down something Adele, the UK singing, songwriting legend, once said during an interview:

“I used to be a massive drinker, now I might only have two glasses a week—having a hangover with a child is torture. I used to love being drunk, but as I got more famous I would wake up the next morning and think, “What the fuck did I say and who the fuck did I say it to?”

“I’m not as indulgent as I was then (21)—I don’t have time to fall apart…I’m very cautious, whereas I was never cautious before…I go out of my way to avoid anything remotely dangerous…I don’t want to die.”

The next pages of my Sobriety Journal include reminders of the negative results of drinking too much alcohol. My focus then turns to the positive results of sobriety in the pages that follow—weightless, looking younger, saving money, improved brain functioning, increased spiritual connection, transcendence and more! Life really is more beautiful sober.

There is no order to my journal. I write what I feel, what I need to express. For example, my entry on the 2nd of April 2016 read:

“This was to be my beginning of alcohol-free—although I had none yesterday, nor the other day. My lover has disappeared into a bottle of rum, Mount Gay…and already begun to get aggressive. I decided to have a few drinks. How can we be together if we are not on the same wave-length?

But I see the error in my logic now…and it has only cost me disappointment re my willpower. But in all else I am fine. I’ve come to the shed to begin this journal. He is hugging the wall outside. “I’m relaxing,” he drawls when I ask him what he is doing. I’m going to get cream for our dessert and a ginger beer (before he takes the car).”

Later I added, “I left him to do his thing…when I returned he was talking, I think to Chris about trips…I was glad to see him immersed in his passion and not drinking.  I made him a meal, brought him mosquito spray, candles and went to bed. He slept it off in the spare room.”

 

Over a year later I can look back on this time and feel empowered by how much has changed for the better.

Whenever you need to work things through or you talk yourself into a bit of a funk turn to your journal.

You can process things and express your feelings safely and tap into the wisdom of your higher consciousness. This will aid healing and transform negative energies into agents of positive change.

You’ll also find positive reminders of your intentions. Instead of saying “I want a drink” and “I am so over this,” and retelling the story that allowed for drunkenness and failure, turn to your beautiful book. It’s the place in which you’re creating and telling a new life story.

 

I often notice that my anxiety increases when I don’t have a special book in which to purge and reshape my thoughts.

Whenever this happens, I go to my journal and write my way back to sanity. I also reread some of the most empowering and encouraging quotes from other people who have also struggled to maintain a healthy mindset.

Top of my list was Jessie Burton’s empowering words, “Always picture succeeding, never let it fade. Always picture success, no matter how badly things seem to be going in the moment.”

When I read these words they remind me that I have been picturing failure. I was telling myself messages of failure. I was feeling failure. These reminders kick-start a more positive focus.

Jesse Burton, the author of The Muse and The Miniaturist, is very inspiring to me because she is so honest about her own battles with mental health—including anxiety.

Blogging and sharing your thoughts with others is another form of cathartic journaling—as is writing a book like this.

 

“You could have talked more about your personal experience so that other writers can more easily relate to you,” wrote an advance reader of one of my earlier books.

You’ll notice in this chapter and throughout this book that I’ve woven in more of my experiences, the highs and the lows, the successes and the failures, as a result.

The point of this writing is to work with your subconscious and let it work its magic in the creative, healing process.

Keep a Sobriety Journal. It may not work for you, but you will never know until you try.

Here are a few random images from mine to inspire you—as you’ll see, you don’t have to make it perfect. The main thing is to grab what speaks to you and empowers you and preserve it for future reference in your journal.

 

 

 

 

 

Dive Deeper…

The Sobriety Journal: The Easy Way to Stop Drinking: The Effortless Path to Being Happy, Healthy and Motivated Without Alcohol is available in eBook and Print here—getbook.at/SobrietyJournal.

This guided book leaves you free to create your own bespoke journal tailored to support your needs. It includes, Journal Writing Prompts, Empowering and Inspirational Quotes and Recovery Exercises that can be of use in your daily journal writing, working with your sponsor or used in a recovery group.

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)

 

 

p.s. Check out Cassandra’s Youtube video—Journal Your Way to Joyful Sobriety, Day Three The Sobriety Challenge https://youtu.be/NakDpm07BaQ

 

Mind your drink: discover the surprising joy of being sober!

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Many people mistakenly believe drinking alcohol will increase their happiness. But the reality is for many people alcohol steals more than it gifts. As American actor Mathew Perry says, “The thing is, if I don’t have sobriety, I don’t have anything.”

Experience may have already taught you that too much booze muddles the mind, ignites aggression, reduces responsiveness, and ultimately depresses.

It’s also hard to quit—alcohol is one of the most addictive legalized drugs on the planet.

It’s also a well-documented neurotoxin—a toxic substance that inhibits, damages, and destroys the tissues of your nervous system.

To bounce back from depression, anxiety and stress many people limit their drinking or consciously decide not to touch a drop. Keeping their resolve often takes extraordinary willpower.

Author and public speaker Deepak Chopra gave up drinking. “I liked it too much,” he once said.

Steven King, after almost losing his family and destroying his writing career, managed to quit.

Other people like Amy Winehouse devastatingly never made it. Aged only 27, in 2011 she died of alcohol poisoning.

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.

Risking destroying your career, ruining your relationships, sacrificing your sanity, and in the extreme, taking your life, is a massive price to pay for a mistaken belief that to be happy, or to numb your anxiety, or cope with stress you need to drink more booze.

But you know this right, or you wouldn’t be reading this book, the focus of which is to help you explore your relationship to drink and approach alcohol more mindfully—perhaps even skeptically? Does alcohol really deliver on all its fancy promises?

If you’re not in the mood to quit for good consider, a period of sobriety. Instead of focusing on what you may be giving up, turn your mind to what you may gain—a better, more energized version of yourself.

The many benefits of reducing your alcohol intake, or not drinking at all, include:

A stronger ability to focus on your goals and dreams

Improved confidence and self-esteem

Increased productivity

Increased memory, mental performance, and decision-making

Better control of your emotions

Sweeter relationships

Greater intuition and spiritual intelligence

Authentic happiness

Improved finances

Reduces dehydration and slows down the aging process—making you look and feel sexier for longer!

As Melinda wrote in a review, “I’m emailing you is to let you know the impact your book has had on me. I cold-turkey stopped imbibing alcohol and I’ve gained twenty years in energy. We all know we don’t drink a lot but what an insidious thing nightly alcohol is.Thank you for your book – it’s become a bit of a bible, or should I say they’ve become bits of bibles.”

More energy, yay! Looking younger naturally—double yay!

Not everyone battles with booze. Whether you cut back or eliminate alcohol entirely, the choice is ultimately yours. Only you know the benefits alcohol delivers or the success it destroys.

Experiment with living an alcohol-free life—join The Sobriety Experiment Facebook group. You’ll find a legion of supportive collaborators and plenty of encouragement here—https://www.facebook.com/Sobrietyexperiment

 

Problem Drinking?

“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

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 our way to happiness or drinking—or both.

The problem may not be the booze, but our maladaptive attempts to mask the causal factors.

Addictions and alcohol abuse, in particular, are essentially attempts to escape from pain. The nature and causal factors of this pain and the scale of dependency will vary in specifics and severity from person to person.

We all experience 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.

Fortunately, developing more positive ways of coping with life’s inevitable ups and downs is not only possible but even enjoyable.  Changing our habits, even very deeply entrenched ones is a learned skill—and you’ll find plenty of teachers when you go in search of answers.

Don’t wait to hit rock bottom before you do something about your drinking or whatever’s going on in your life that causes you to drink too much.

Start now. You can control your drinking—and you don’t always need to check in to rehab or pay mega dollars to sit on a psychologist’s couch. It’s totally fine if that turns out to be your sobriety solution, in full or in part. The trouble with the ‘disease’ model of addiction, is that a great number of people can lead you to believe that you are totally powerless. Being told that if you drink too much, you have a disease, an incurable one at that, is neither helpful, truthful, nor empowering—even if it does feel better to know that it’s not your fault that you drink too much.

We’ll discuss the disease model of addiction later in this book, but let’s look at how some of the pros define addiction and substances abuse—what they focus on and what they miss.

The Maladaptive Pattern of Relying on Alcohol

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and many other addiction specialists predominantly focus on addiction as being a mental disorder, rather than an attempt to self-medicate or anesthetize ones way through life.  Very often a person’s personal history of trauma, bullying or societal factors which aid, abet and accelerate their drinking are ignored.

The primary source used to classify problem drinking is provided by the American Psychiatric Association and their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders known as the DSM.

Over-consuming alcohol is a disease we’re told. A disorder of the mind, or an inherited genetic defect. DSM followers turn a blind eye to the fact that alcohol is a self-prescribed, self-served, legalized drug of choice turned to by many as their stress, anxiety, depression, trauma or grief-numbing cure.

Granted, not a particularly robust one, but perhaps, not the ‘only-able-to-be cured-by-medical-professionals’ illness we have been lead to believe.

“There’s an enormous sense of self-medication.… The fastest thing you can do at the cutting board is open a bottle of wine, pour yourself a glass. It’s faster than going to your doctor to say ‘I’m suffering from burnout,’ it’s faster than going to a yoga class and relaxing in a different way,” says Dowsett-Johnston.

Johnston finally realized that she herself had a drinking problem.

“I got into trouble with alcohol in my 50s when I was over-performing at a job and used alcohol for self-medication,” she said.

Even though Johnston knew she was getting into trouble with her drinking  she says “It took two family members and a sweetheart who confronted me, and luckily I took a sledgehammer and went to rehab and I’m in my 10th year of sobriety.”

As you’ll discover later in this chapter, with the passing of time alcohol has shifted from being viewed as a problem of faulty, or maladaptive behavior, to one of disease.

This has opened the route to funding, and the creation of profitable business lines by drug companies scrambling to cure the ‘disease ‘(or what I call the dis-ease) created by the world’s most popular and legalized drug.

As a result, they have created a range of pharmaceuticals and manufactured drugs promising the ultimate (and profitable) cure.  I recently heard they are trying to create an alcohol vaccine. Really? When did loving alcohol too much equate with Swine Flu, or Chicken Pox, Aids for that matter?

But what if the ultimate cure lies in your own hands—a more mindful, holistic and therapeutic approach to how much you drink and why.

We’re told loving alcohol too much is something we can’t cure ourselves—that total abstinence is the only remedy. In my professional and personal experience, very often people choose to quit alcohol for good because they’re just so over it. Once alcohol is unmasked for the troublemaker it is, like a shitty lover, people choose never to go back. Whether it’s fear of the havoc booze creates, or love—the joy and bliss they discover being alcohol-free—people who choose abstinence know that life is better, way better, sober.

As 36-year-old Hayley Holt, former ballroom dancing queen, snowboarding legend and TV star, and the former girlfriend of ex-All Black Captain, Richie McCaw, once said, “You know, I never thought I’d never drink. I loved it, but going sober has forced me to face up to who I really am. I don’t always have to be the life of the party. I can just leave and it’s okay. So I’ve realised I’m a lot more serious than I pretended to be.”

So serious in fact in 2017 she turned her intellect to Parliament and campaigned in the electorate held by former Prime Minister, Sir John Key, on behalf of The Green Party.

Actor Colin Farrell also testifies that once problem drinking is kicked life is infinitely better—you are better. I have yet to meet a person whose sobriety has made their life worse. I have yet to. But I am open to it. If you find someone please get in touch with me because I would love to have a chat with them and ask them a couple of questions. I have yet to meet a person whose sobriety didn’t make a better father, a better friend…”

Kristin Davis, most famous for her role as Charlotte York Goldenblatt in Sex and the City, has been alcohol-free since 1987. “Sometimes it would be nice to just have some red wine with dinner, but it’s not worth the risk. I have a great life, a great situation. Why would I want risk self-destructive behavior?”

What do these people and others have in common?Their drinking was a problem—until it wasn’t.

The chances are that you don’t need a book and checklists to tell you that you have a problem, but just in case you’re amongst the group of people who truly don’t know how out of hand your drinking is getting you may be interested to learn what the American Psychiatric Association (APA) classifies as problematic.

What is problem drinking?

Regardless of whether you side with alcohol being or not being a disease, the APA classifications of problem drinking include:

• Tolerance and the never decreasing requirement for more

• Withdrawal symptoms when you can’t get your fix

• Difficulty in giving up

• Persistent physical, psychological, social, mental and emotional problems that are likely to have been caused or exacerbated by your alcohol

The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change.

Addiction (termed substance dependence by the American Psychiatric Association—APA) was once defined as,  “a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.”

This maladaptive pattern manifests by three (or more) of the following, occurring any time in the same 12-month period, say the APA:

1. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: (a) A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or the desired effect or (b) Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.

2. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:

(a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance, or

(b) The same (or closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

3. The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.

4. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use.

5. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from its effects.

6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use.

7. The substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance (for example, current cocaine use despite recognition of cocaine-induced depression or continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption).

“We just liked to have a good time.”

Can you tick-off three or more of the above? I bet you never thought of yourself as being maladaptive. As psychologist and Soberly founder, Libby Wallace writes,

“I remember a lecture I went to for one of my psychology papers, around 9 years ago, and the lecturer stood at the front and did a ‘drinking quiz’ similar to the Ministry of Health one to find out whether or not you have a drinking problem. About 60 out of the 100 students put their hands up to say that they had rated themselves with a score that effectively meant they were an alcoholic. After discussing with a few friends after, and in the tutorial later, we thought it was funny and that because we were students, it didn’t relate to us, we just liked to have a good time.”

In 2000 the DSM-IV criteria for substance dependence included several specifiers, one of which outlines whether substance dependence is accompanied by physiological dependence (evidence of tolerance or withdrawal) or without physiologic dependence (no evidence of tolerance or withdrawal).

In addition, remission categories are classified into four subtypes: (1) full, (2) early partial, (3) sustained, and (4) sustained partial; on the basis of whether any of the criteria for abuse or dependence have been met and over what time frame.

The remission category can also be used for patients receiving agonist therapy (such as methadone maintenance or drugs designed to control alcohol dependence) or for those living in a controlled, drug-free environment.

The Disease of Alcohol

This definition was altered in the 5th edition of the DSM. As compared to DSM-IV, the DSM-5’s chapter on addictions was changed from “Substance-Related Disorders” to “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders” to reflect developing understandings regarding addictions.

The DSM-5 specifically lists nine types of substance addictions within this category (alcohol; caffeine; cannabis; hallucinogens; inhalants; opioids; sedatives, hypnotics, and anxiolytics; stimulants; and tobacco).

These disorders are presented in separate sections, but they are not fully distinct because all drugs taken in excess activate the brain’s reward circuitry, and their co-occurrence is common.

Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD in the DSM-V and is defined in the DSM-5 as a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using. An estimated 16 million people in the United States have AUD.  Approximately 6.2 percent or 15.1 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older had AUD in 2015. This includes 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women. Adolescents can be diagnosed with AUD as well, and in 2015, an estimated 623,000 adolescents ages 12–17 had AUD.

To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet certain criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Under DSM–5, the current version of the DSM, anyone meeting any two of the 11 criteria during the same 12-month period receives a diagnosis of AUD.The severity of AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met.

How do you measure up?

To assess whether you or loved one may have AUD, here are some questions to ask.  In the past year, have you:

• Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?

• More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?

• Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the after effects?

• Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?

• Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?

• Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?

• Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?

• More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?

• Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?

• Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?

• Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?

Remember that meeting any two of the 11 criteria during the same 12-month period means you receive a diagnosis of AUD.

If you have any of these symptoms, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change,” say professionals. But you know this already—or you wouldn’t be reading this book.

Remember, there is no shame in admitting you have a problem. You’re in good, or is that poor company? You decide. The true tragedy is not the problem, but not seeking help.

Like cocaine and heroin, shopping for things we don’t need, eating sweet sugary food is addictive and satisfies our brain’s craving for dopamine until we get our next fix. Marketing moguls have known this for a long time and target people indiscriminately. Everywhere you look you’re bombarded with ads about alcohol and sugar fixes that will make us supposedly happier and healthier. Even the stuff dangled as healthier often has something to hide. Loaded with essential nutrients, natural flavors? Or concealing more than double your daily sugar requirement.

It’s time to get wise!

Forget about waiting for law changes, forget about lobbying government for more enlightened regulations. Take back your power. Open your eyes. It’s not easy to change but you can begin by asking yourself more empowering questions, such as:

• Do I really need that fix?

• Will it impact on my wellbeing? How?

• How does alcohol work? Can I find a healthier, cheaper, more effective way to feel better?

The answers may prove illuminating. You may discover, as I have, that a swim in the ocean, a soak in the local hot mineral pools, a night at the movies, a massage, twenty-minutes mediation, or diverting the money I’m saving by not drinking booze for treats like pedicures, delivers a far-faster, friendlier fix.

Mind your drink: discover the surprising joy of being sober!

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life. To purchase your copy and discover the surprising joy of sobriety, click here to go to your online bookshopgetBook.at/Controlalcohol

Change is here—celebrating Waitangi Day in a spirit of peace and reconciliation

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018
We spent a lovely evening in Waitangi last night, the day before Waitangi Day. You could feel the energy of peace and the longing for harmony in the sky, water, land, and in the faces of the people. How happy I was to wake up this morning to find change is here.
 
“Something has changed,” The NZ Herald headline cheered. Read the rest of the article here:
 
Check out my photo of the amazing rain cloud that misted down, accompanied by a ray of light, on the exact spot commemorating the signing of The Treaty of Waitangi, the Upper Marae at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. A local Maori man told me that had never, ever happened. In fact, he said, ‘that never happens.”
Last night it did.
I also asked him, “Will there be peace?”
He nodded. “I think so.”
He was right.
 

Eloquence evokes hope and promise in this Glorious Grapefruit Decoy Daiquiri. Named by me, but invented and prepared for me by the bar staff at Charlotte’s Kitchen, overlooking the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, on the eve of a most historical Waitangi Day, Feb 6, 2018.

Unbeknownst to me, this joy-filled, non-alcohol drink was prophetic of the peace to come. Our newly elected and newly pregnant Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, heralded a refreshing change from violent protests of the past.

Arden pledged to work on the disparities between Maori and other groups in areas such as poverty, suicide, and incarceration gaps. Her speech was one of hope and promise. She urged people to “bring me solutions.”

Here’s one of mine—help reverse the harm of alcohol. Help normalize, not stigmatize sobriety. Push-back the booze barons and restore the balance. Make wellness the priority for all people regardless of race.
And to celebrate—why not reach for an all-natural, homegrown Glorious Grapefruit Decoy Daiquiri or one of the other yummy recipes in my book, Mind Over Mojitos: Easy Alcohol-Free Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life 

#waitangiday #youboozeyouloose #profitingfrommisery #alcohol #yourbeautifulmind

*