This year was hard, but my clients and I found creative ways to succeed. In what has been a hugely stressful year for all of us, I look back at some of the highlights of 2020 and it seems like magic. In March we were deliberating whether to go to Tonga. Signs of Covid-19 were distant rumblings on the horizon. We all thought it would blow over. A friend, who is very senior in the Foreign Ministry, said with no small degree of urgency, “If you are going to go, go now and hurry home.”
New Zealand customs were not what they are now. Everything was normal. Yet when we arrived in Tonga the customs people there were dressed in full-body blue protective suits. It seemed strange. Surreal. A little over the top. Someone close to our Prime Minister told us she had said, “It’s just media hype.”
So we continued on. As normal. So, yes, as I look back now at our wonderful time at Fafa Island Resort, it does seem like magic. Because it was!
You have been wonderful guests which Fafa Island needs and is there for and you really “got” our little island. Speechless to hear that Laurie didn’t turn on his phone once – that’s exactly what we want for our guests!! Go back to nature and enjoy BEING as you wonderfully said Cassandra.
I am personally very sorry, that we couldn’t say “See you soon” to each other as I went to town with my little one.
But we hope to welcome you in the near future back to Fafa Island
Till then we wish you all the best
Warmest greetings from our little island
Julia and your Fafa Family
Several months ago we learned the Island is to be sold. I doubt we will ever be back.
We returned to a still-in-denial-New Zealand rejuvenated and committed to BEING.
Which I’m sure helped when two weeks later New Zealand went into a tail-spin, sirens blazed, and cellphones quaked with emergency alerts. New Zealanders were now in lockdown and no one was to leave their homes—under threat of arrest.
There was very little warning. EVERYONE was thrown into a tailspin. Not all families handled it ‘kindly.’
The first nine days of lockdown were deemed unlawful, the New Zealand High Court ruled. New Zealanders were not actually required by law to stay at home in their “bubbles” until April 3, more than a week into lockdown, the ruling found. Too late. We had been locked in by then.
You can read the rest of the article here: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/covid-19-coronavirus-lockdown-unlawful-for-first-nine-days-high-court-finds-but-says-action-was-justified
The decisions taken by the New Zealand Government in March to “go hard and go early” closed many businesses. Some people never recovered their livelihoods. Not everyone is agreed that the decision was the right one. Simply closing the border much, much earlier may have been better. Simply closing the border could have saved lives.
Simply closing the boarder may have meant that sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces and nephews who lost their loved ones to stress-induced suicide would be hugging their beloved this Christmas and in the years to follow.
Simply closing the border may have deescalated the horrendous rise in New Zealand’s already shameful domestic violence statistics. Stay-at-home orders, intended to protect the public and prevent widespread infection, left many victims trapped with their abusers. Alcohol sales spiked and so did rage.
For many, 2020 did not, and does not seem like magic.
Sometimes looking back provides perspective. My partner and I were discussing, how much of our stress was incurred in the decade prior. Check out 2018 in review for a snapshot of the good, the bad, and the ugly a mere two years ago. Below is an excerpt:
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:
and my Art of Success Series, inspired by Coco Chanel and my mentor Leonardo da Vinci.
It was ‘magical’ in 2020 to be ordered, enforced, and mandated to isolate in our little bubble—hard-won and well-deserved.
Sometimes, clients write to me and say with well-intended envy “I keep thinking of you up there in your piece of paradise.” I remind them that it wasn’t always this way—and as with anything you want, there is a price to pay.
Sometimes when life throws mud in your face you have to laugh. Laughter truly is the best therapy. I shared this in my one of my newsletters and a psychologist in America sent a toxic reply!
And now the house is finished, the lawn looks like a golf course and will be featured in New Zealand House and Garden in the New Year. The feature comes out 16 January and is the February edition. My advice to anyone embarking on a major (3-year) home renovation is…BUCKLE UP, BRACE FOR THE STORMS AND HANG ON FOR THE RIDE—IT’S WORTH IT!
And you need to surround yourself with people who believe in the beauty of you and your dreams.
During times of uncertainty, you need to surround yourself with people who believe in the beauty of you and your dreams. Which is what I try to do with my self-empowerment books. I try to share my story and those of other men and women overcoming obstacles to live and work with passion and purpose.
Some of the stories I share are about breaking free of the tribe. 2020 marked the expansion of my Transformational Super Kids stories.
This year I wrote and narrated and painted the cover of Lulu is a Black Sheep—one of my favourite stories about ignoring people who try to discourage you and stomp on your dreams. As you’ll read toward the end of the blog, I released three new books in the series in 2020.
In December 2020 I wrote a new book, Cassie is a Giraffe (for release in 2021). I share my love of giraffes and how they lead me to overcome fear, doubt, anxiety and shame—and start a publishing company, Blue Giraffe Publishing, in many of my self-empowerment books.
The logo was drawn by my niece when she was just six-years-old—playfulness and embracing your inner child is a hallmark of my spiritual approach to life and work. In 2020, I created a course, Play Dates to take my message to a global audience. It was exciting that a woman in the UK in her 70’s was the first to enrol!
As I share on my blog, Does talk therapy actually work?
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 colour, 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 colour 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 behaviour I had adopted to belong, to bolster the confidence I never felt, to hide the discomfort of living in my own skin.
My greatest joy is helping you bring your dreams to life. One of my favourite quotes is, “passion is the fire that drives us to express who we really are.” Whether you’re 40, 50, 60+ it’s never too late to be happily, joyfully, beautifully you.
I’m a renaissance woman with many passions—artist, storyteller, intuitive guide & mentor—all united by a love of providing inspiring, whole-hearted worklife solutions which spark joy. I’VE HELPED HUNDREDS OF MEN AND WOMEN around the world free themselves from doubt, guilt and fear to achieve the life they wanted. I’ve created art for the soul that’s changed lives. Creativity is my superpower.
I believe in the transcendent power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to change careers, elevate your health and transform your life. Why? Because it has mine.
I have created my Transformational Super Kids stories to appeal to both adults and children. If you, or your child, could do with an inspirational boost, Please accept my free gift—Billy is a Balloon. I hope you enjoy this short, empowering story. Click here for the free audiobook – written and narrated by me>> https://dl.bookfunnel.com/znooq2ocme
People often call me visionary—it helps that my name is Cassandra (the ancient princess given the gift of prophecy). Besides envisioning our move from Wellington to the beautiful and warm Bay of Islands, and later our home renovation, I’ve enjoyed providing spiritual readings and sharing my love of oracle and tarot cards. I’ve loved reading the Akashic records for clients. And I’ve loved sharing the simple things that give joy.
I feel blessed that over a decade ago I made the decision to pursue a location-independent career—and have helped other passionpreneurs do this too. The picture below was taken on Fafa Island Resort in Tonga after I jumped off a coaching call with a client in Australia.
The great blessing of already being location independent was lockdown was less stressful. Clients, old and new, reached out from all around the world for help to manifest their dreams. Many new clients had read Mid-Life Career Rescue and wanted individual help, tailored to their dreams.
I love sharing everything I have learned—including how to create a publishing empire. Several moons ago, a beautiful lady (but then frustrated) writer, Heather, contacted me for help to publish her children’s empowerment stories. She’d been penning her healing words for years but no one was able to read her beautiful stories. They were all in her head, her notebooks, her computer.
After her mentoring programme, she now has her own boutique publishing business and her books can be enjoyed by children, parents and teachers ALL OVER THE WORLD.
A beautiful side-effect has been the increased exposure as an expert that sharing her teachings has given her. She quit her salaried job and is now flying solo with her own business – Kaleidoscope Solutions.
2020, also the audiobook release of How to Find Your Joy and Purpose co-written with my daughter and narrated by Hannah Joy too! This is a fabulous book for anyone struggling right now. As you’ll read, (or hear) even tiny moments of joy can be healing.
After a 12-year-hiatus, I’ve started painting again. The gift of our blissful time at Fafa Island Resort was the quiet time to paint. I took a tiny box of watercolours, a few sheets of paper, and flowed! I was so inspired by the trees, the flowers, the birds, the sea, the climate, the people my output was prolific. Staff went in search of more watercolour paper. No easy feat to find on a remote island in Tonga pre-lockdown! Sunny, the assistant manager, was more thrilled than I was when the boat arrived with more paper!
“Awwww thank you soooo much we would absolutely love it! Im in tears right now it means sooo much.”
Originally they had planned to place it in Te Ataroa’s bedroom but are now planning to place it in the lounge because ‘we want everyone to see it when they walk in the house. And again thank you soooo much we deeply appreciate it and we love it soooo much.”
As I share in Play Dates,
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 colour. 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 recognised 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 2020, I illustrated several of my own books—playfully!
And, I gave Billy is a Balloon away too—making it free so children of all ages going through the challenges that COVID-19 has created had something to keep their spirits up.
It was awesome too, to see so many people reach out and seize the opportunity to truly transform their lives. People like, Brett—a tiler—with a passion for helping others who decided in his young 60’s he wanted to make life and career coaching part of his career.
I take to heart, “I like the diversity of projects Cassandra is involved in….a sense that Cassandra is constantly challenging herself but giving herself permission to grow and change.”
Giving myself permission means not all my seeds are ripening into fruit. Like you, I have to be patient, I have to keep watering my new career plants, and swiping the predators away. Recently, I’ve decided to open my own gallery—a major new direction. Like any new venture, it is unlikely to yield profits immediately. Long-term, as domestic tourism increases and the Bay of Islands continues to be a hot spot, the outlook looks good. The fact is, there are seldom iron-clad guarantees. Which is why so many people stay stuck in a rut.
“I feel like I can say to people in a huge range of situations – ‘Yes, I see you.'”
~ Brett Muir, Point of Change
Brett Muir’s personal story of reinvention is an inspiring call to action for us all. At a time in life when many midlifers believe they are too old to change, Brett is challenging convention. “I want to make this my best decade yet,” he told me when I asked, “Why now? Why change careers and train to become a Worklife Solutions Certified Career and Life Coach?”
As you’ll read, Brett first embarked on training with another provider, only to find it didn’t meet his growing needs. But that’s not the real story. The real story is his vision for her coaching business, Point of Change and his deep desire to help others make a change for the better. And within weeks of started his training, ran toward another aspect of his vision, a forum to bring like-minded people together.
I will let Brett tell his career reinvention story, but one of the things I most love (as you’ll read below) was the way he did his due diligence before making a leap—but more importantly, when life threw a few financial hurdles in his path he used out of the box thinking and found another way. Read how Brett change careers in his 60’s here>>http://worklifesolutions.nz/if-brett-could-change-his-career-at-60-so-can-you/
Who knows when we will travel again. But as I look back on 2020 (and those previous) I’m glad we chased our dreams. We didn’t wait for perfect timing, we took extraordinary risks, and we lived, and still do, with audacity. So many friends have said to us, “We’re waiting until we retire to travel.” These people now live with regret.
Clients have said to me, “Don’t you do what you love when you retire?”
After years of reaching out to me but never taking any action, Lisa*, Lisa is now midway through her transformational coaching programme with me.
During our first session she was in such extreme anguish she spent most of the call crying and sobbing.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” she cried.
“Crying is great. Crying is therapeutic. Crying opens the floodgates to healing,” I told her.
A common response to trauma is emotionally numbing. As I write in my short book, The Boy Who Cried,” some people are so buried in pain that they can’t cry.”
I know, I was once like that myself. It took a Chinese acupuncture session to release the tears trapped inside. (the needles pinned around my eyes may have helped!).
There are times Lisa feels as though she is not worthy, not living her purpose—not, not, not…
Self-love is a major life lesson for her. Isn’t it for many of us?
We have come into this life to learn love, compassion, and to know our own power. As I reminded Lisa, the fact she had the courage to contact me and ask for help—and then act on it—is a massive sign of strength. So many people are like a man I once met who told me,
“I’ve spent 40 years looking out the window wishing I was somewhere else.”
Courage is heeding the call of your weeping heart and embarking on the hero’s journey to transformational change.
Not everything was roses and chocolates this year. But nothing was fatal. I missed my self-imposed deadline for Word by Word: Lessons on Writing, Love, and Life and also my romance Love Me As I Am—and super disappointingly, I also missed my deadline for my humongous Rennaissance-inspired art-related fiction novel.
It’s important not to beat yourself up when things don’t go to plan, but acknowledge what you have achieved as well as the obstacles overcome. There’s plenty of time to make it big in 2021. Which is why I like keeping an Achievements or “I DID IT” section in the back of my Passion Journal. Grab your FREE passion journal tip sheet here>>
Here are just a few things I noted:
4 Feb Created and held “Creative Unblocking Course”
11 Feb Sold my watercolour “The Sun Also Rises” and two other paintings
14 Feb created the concept for my art gallery
14 Feb Released my RomCom Sex With Strangers (after ten years!)
16 Feb Created more “flow” paintings—The Cosmic Heart and Infinity and experimented with encaustic art using pure pigment and NZ beeswax
17 Feb Invited to join a group exhibition – later opening during COVID and called The Beauty of Resilience (my first group exhibition in 12 years)
Feb- March Went to Fafa Island! Created many, many new works including ‘Waterflowers”
19 March sold my first painting via Instagram
23 March wrote and narrated published Jojo Lost Her Confidence
30 March wrote and narrated and published Lulu is a Black Sheep.
25 April wrote and narrated and published Billy is a Balloon
18 May NZ House and Garden came to photograph our house
28 May Sold two more watercolours
11 June Commissioned to write two pieces for New Zealand House and Garden
15 July Started writing a screenplay
06 August Entered an art award
August Successfully set an intention and provided oracle readings for clients
8 September Beauty of Resilience exhibition opened and my painting was the lead. Sold three paintings
17 November Launched Play Dates course
20 November Exhibited paintings in Pure Day Spa and sold Sunday Surprise
But a few dirtbags have sullied things. In our hood, a group of developers has embarked on an aggressive campaign of lies and bullying to promote their plan to profit at the expenses of locals. When I spoke up at a meeting I was targeted. Later, they resorted to calling me a ‘scary woman.’ That’s fine by me. Scary says, “don’t f*ck with me!” If you don’t stand up for things that are just plain wrong you may as well be a vegetable. What kind of vegetable? A cabbage! (I’m borrowing from a line I love in the movie The World’s Fastest Indian.)
I think it was around then that my ‘achievements’ took a bath. You’ll note above, between Sept and November I was less productive. A lot was going on—much of which I can’t share as it impacts others. What I can share is my lesson. As filmmaker and fellow Transcendental meditator, David Lynch wrote in his excellent book, Catching The Big Fish,
“It’s good for the artist to understand conflict and stress. Those things can give you ideas. But I guarantee you, if you have enough stress, you won’t be able to create. And if you have enough conflict, it will just get in the way of your creativity. You can understand conflict, but you don’t have to live in it.In stories, in the worlds that we can go into, there’s suffering, confusion, darkness, tension, and anger. There are murders; there’s all kinds of stuff. But the filmmaker doesn’t have to be suffering to show suffering. You can show it, show the human condition, show conflicts and contrasts, but you don’t have to go through that yourself. You are the orchestrator of it, but you’re not in it. Let your characters do the suffering.It’s common sense: The more the artist is suffering, the less creative he is going to be. It’s less likely that he is going to enjoy his work and less likely that he will be able to do really good work.”
Makes my job worthwhile. Thank you for saving her”
Raewyn did a fabulous job staying in touch with me and letting me know how things were going and then telling us what to do when we released her. I popped her on a branch and after a few seconds she just took off
On the 20th of December, I looked to the sky and at that moment she flew over my head:)Good news to celebrate!
Wishing you and those you love a very peaceful, happy, and healthy Christmas
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Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.
I am an artist, storyteller, intuitive guide, mentor and Reiki master. All my creations are infused with positive energy , inspiration, and light. I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform your life. My greatest joy is helping your realize your dreams. That makes my soul sing!
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