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#20 The Business of Writing – Day 2 – Cultivating a Successful Mindset with Cassandra Gaisford

Cassandra Gaisford is an entrepreneur, creativity coach, public speaker and author of the Number 1 Bestselling series, Mid-Life Career Rescue. Her most recent release, The Art of Success, merges business and art through the lens of Leonardo Di Vinci and focuses on how to cultivate a successful mindset. What does success mean to you is a question that keeps popping up as Cassandra and I chat about importance of believing in yourself and reminding yourself that you have the freedom to make the choices that define you. Our conversation ranges from the magic of New Zealand’s Bay of Isles to the fascination that is Di Vinci’s Renaissance world of beauty and inspiration, to Cassandra’s soon to be released historical novel, Mona Lisa’s Smile. To find out more, visit Cassandra at

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Melinda: Welcome to another episode of Writer on the Road. I have a beautiful woman with me this morning and she’s all made up and sitting here all glamorous, Cassandra Gaisford. Cassandra is from New Zealand and she’s a couple hours ahead of me. I’m going to put it down to that I’ve just staggered out of the shower at 6 o’clock in the morning but she’s there at 8 o’clock.
Before I let Cassandra introduce herself I’m just going to say that we’ve just had a bit of a scan around her house and not only has she got on her walls, which we can’t see anymore, I had to turn her around for the sun, but a beautiful emblem from her latest book called The Art of Success which we’re going to focus on a lot today, which is why I’ve got Cassandra on. But also out her window she’s got the most amazing view of a river or a lake or something that just goes for miles and it’s just stunning. So now I’m going to go and visit her as well. Welcome to Writer on the Road Cassandra.
Cassandra Gaisford: Thanks so much Melinda. You’re actually looking out at the Bay of Islands. So I’m up here in, just out of KeriKeri up in the Bay of Islands and yeah we’re blessed to have that beautiful view.
Melinda: I should have guessed the Bay of Islands, I have been there, unfortunately I was in a tent at the time with two children, camping out of a car.
Cassandra Gaisford: Probably different experience.
Melinda: Oh it’s still beautiful, still wonderful, biggest thing that shocked me was the place was crawling in backpackers and we’ve got these magnificent views and everybody’s taking photographs on their iPads and journaling and teaching, I’m thinking look up, see what you’re missing. But they never, ever do. They’re too busy saying look where I am and look what I’m doing and I’m going how about you enjoy it.
Cassandra is the founder of Work Life Solutions and I’m reading this so it sounds a little bit formal and I’m sure we don’t want to be formal this morning. She’s the best selling health, self-help author, so she’s going to help me, and she’s a romance and historical novelist. I was reading that she’s just gotten back from the New Zealand Romance Writers Conference and I want to talk a little bit about that as well. She’s got some tips for us on creativity I believe. She’s a creativity coach, public speaker, and entrepreneur.
Cassandra Gaisford: Thank you.
Melinda: Tell us about yourself Cassandra, have I missed anything?
Cassandra Gaisford: I think the main thing and it sums up it and I know in my work that I do with people they often say well just don’t you have to do one thing. When I say them you could do what I’ve called a career combo, you could do marry your passions and do multiple things, people are always pretty surprised. I would call myself, in fact others have called me a Renaissance woman, it’s just trying lots of different things and most of them centered around passion and creativity.
Melinda: We’re going to kick into that in the Art of Success which focuses very much on the words of Leonardo Di Vinci, so I’ve got to admit that I’ve spent a bit of time this morning fossicking through that book. I think I downloaded it last night in preparation for this interview. If there’s anything you do, my listeners, go out and buy that book because your life will be changed forever.
We’re going to talk a little bit this morning and I’m looking at cultivating the successful mindset because I thought that’s one of the things that would interest us the most. But before I do that, because again I’m jumping all over the place because it’s exciting to have Cassandra. The first thing I want to speak to you about is midlife career rescue. Cassandra has three books out on this very subject. Now being a bit passed midlife it’s sort of too late for me, but Cassandra a lot of people want to change where they’re at, and move to where they want to be.
Cassandra Gaisford: It’s interesting the topic of what is midlife. For some people tragically midlife is, could be in their twenties, some people don’t make it to fifty. Some people are more and more we’re living into our nineties and quite well and wanting to contribute productively.
So midlife career rescue was really invented to turn your life around, that ageism that exists both in the minds of say recruiters and employers but also in people themselves that they’re too old to change. Yeah, it’s a book very much, well the series was inspired by my own experience. I’ll show you on the cover, you can see this is book three about employing yourself and that bird flying from the cage.
Melinda: That’s me, that’s me!
Cassandra Gaisford: That was me and it’s actually many people. It was my experience when I was working in, I worked for big global consultancy and I actually got shingles, it was such a stressful environment where the pursuit of the dollar was more important than working collegially with each other. It was such a values conflict. But by then I’d become so sort of demoralized that I actually lost my whole confidence and self-esteem which again is what happens with a lot of people when they’re trapped in jobs and they feel hopeless.
The organization sponsored me to see a career counsellor and she used a creative techniques and I later went on to train to be a career counsellor and used the same techniques because they were so powerful. One of the techniques she did was to get me to draw a picture. I drew this picture of this poor, old grey bird stuck in this cage. She said put some words on the page and I said oh she’s forgotten how to fly. This poor, this career counsellor burst into tears. But I thought okay she helped and she helped me understand that actually that [00:06:30] (unclear) value, that I did have [00:06:32] (unclear) and I used that experience and I think that’s the thing, a message of hope I contain in all my books and self-empowerment is that you have to, negative experiences can be wonderful gifts if you use them constructively.
So that was such a gift of being so miserable and knowing unlike other colleagues who’d had heart attacks and some had actually died, I didn’t want to die for my job. So I’ve helped many, many people escape terrible, very stressful roles and the first book in fact, called The Call for Change was inspired by a client who came and he was suicidal because of his career unhappiness. So no job deserves your life.
Melinda: Cassandra herself started out as a bank teller so she knows what she’s talking about. I think I was a bank teller in my day as well. We’re continually I guess searching and something I read was always move towards your mountain and some of the stuff I was reading this morning Cassandra people don’t move towards their mountain, they don’t make decisions that take them closer to where they want to be.
Cassandra Gaisford: What would put that down to?
Melinda: I’d call it security or people call it security, I’ve never had that problem myself. I tend to ignore security, that’s why I’m 55 and dirt poor. But having had a wonderful life.
Cassandra Gaisford: Exactly, you’re having a wonderful life. It’s not always about chasing the money.
Melinda: I’m going to suggest that, and my sister will agree with me here, there’s got to be some kind of balance, they’ve got to be something in the middle or nothing, that’s why you’re Art of Success is so very, very powerful. You don’t have to live like me, selling my novels out of a caravan, yes it is romantic and you can be like me if you want. But most people require more certain in their lives than that and you can follow your dreams, you can get where you want to be without selling your soul.
Cassandra Gaisford: That’s right. It’s all about just having the grand plan, but as you say the grand plan, having that long range view of actually going for your mountain or tasting what some people might call the impossible dream. You mentioned this properly here, well we always thought that would be really impossible. Impossible for us to live way out of a major center to uproot our lives from Wellington, my partner’s in a traditional, he’s a mortgage broker and they’re traditionally in bricks and mortar, they have office fronts and you’ve got to go in and see them. We thought that would be an impossible dream to actually live remotely, then we started to think well what if, what if it’s not impossible. How could it be possible?
These are the sorts of questions people forget to ask and they forget to sort of be what we call generative questions to start to ask open ended questions and going back to The Art of Success, well that’s very much what Leonardo, and his whole success was formulated on that questioning you mentioned earlier about curiosity. Having curiosity when something didn’t work he didn’t sort of think gosh I’m a useless person because a lot of people have this negative self-talk if they stumble or fail. It’s kind of like they’re such terrible, useless people.
Leonardo will just think well what else am I learning or how else can I do it or what else can I move onto, this is boring now, I’m going on to something else. So he, many people would criticize him perhaps for not finishing projects, but the projects that he did finish were very much part the ones he followed with his heart. Look, 500 years later there’s still the, whether they’re paintings or inventions they have this longevity that when you chase peoples they never really have that kind of magic.
Melinda: Yeah and you’re Art of Success is built on the life of Leonardo Di Vinci or something like that, I’ve just got something telling me I’ve got to go school here, I won’t do that.
Cassandra Gaisford: Time to go to school? Yes, well.
Melinda: This lady says I don’t have to, I’m allowed to stay.
Cassandra Gaisford: You’re schooling yourself, your podcast is very much schooling yourself which is another thing of Leonardo was very self-taught. So even at the romance writer’s conference I heard people saying but I don’t know how to build an email list. Well people, the world is your oyster. There is the internet, there are people you can ask, you can school yourself.
So Leonardo’s, the book The Art of Success yes it’s about, it’s well I’ve always been inspired by Leonardo and you mentioned by related historical novel Mona Lisa’s Secret and you’ll see she’s on the wall behind me and one of Leonardo’s paintings, a very little known one called Saviour of the World– Salvator Mundi is behind me.
I’ve always been intrigued by Leonardo and I thought well you know he’s like so many of us creatives, isn’t he. He’s not necessarily focused completely. He’s got divergent interests, he doesn’t always finish things, he’s infinitely curious, he’s got so many things, what one will he choose. I just thought gosh it would be inspiring just to combine my interests, my background’s psychology and counselling but also I’m an award winning artist, I wanted to merge art and business together and I thought who better to look to then the lessons of Leonardo.
But to make it, they’re all time challenge, so the art of success you can read it in one hour or two hours and your life could be radically reengineered and you’re right, there’s a lot of balance in there, the balance of not sacrificing your work for your family, the balance of making sure that you move and that you eat well and that you exercise because so many people neglect that in their quest to success, you hear stories all the time. I heard of Elle Macphersons burning out because she was questing after success, totally frying her brain and had to take years to recover. Well why waste all that time in recovery when you can get, you can manage the art of success by, call it life work balance not work life balance, life first and your health is your wealth isn’t it. We’ve heard it, it can sound cliché but it’s so very true.
Melinda: Yeah and a lot of the reading that I do there’s huge focus and it’s mostly single guys I’ve got to tell you who spend the first three of their hours powering through their workload so that by nine o’clock they’re out on the golf course and they stand by the fact that they have their fancy juices and their virtual trainers and I’m going give me a break and then they make it all sound very easy and they think why aren’t we all doing it and I think well, kids, cats, dogs.
Cassandra Gaisford: That’s right, and Leonardo didn’t certainly, well he didn’t, not necessarily, he didn’t have children, but he certainly had, he had very close confidents and people he was responsible for who lived and worked with him. So in a way he had a lot of responsibility to others, the bills were paid by him, their wages were paid by him.
But many of these years, not just men, there were woman too who perhaps, I know recently, what’s the name Zaha Hadid, she was an architect, British Iraqi born architect and said if you don’t’ die for architecture you’re no good. She had no children, no relationship and yes she died for architecture way too prematurely I think, 62 was she, 62.
So but again, the Art of Success the big part of it also Melinda is saying to people well what is success to you, you define success. If success is not having a relationship well all credit to you, go for it. But if success to you, my next is on Coco Channel and the art of success and she died saying her biggest regret, the single mistake she made was giving all her devotion to work and dying without a man to love her, I thought that was terribly sad because that was her regret. So you want to get to the end of your life not regretting you quested after something that at the end doesn’t really matter.
Melinda: You’ve moved on to your next book Coco Channel which is very, very interesting. I think I’d like to read that one as well. It’s interesting that you’re talking about this remote lifestyle, you’re living in this beautiful, beautiful spot but you’re surrounded by art and culture, you can research this woman from where you’re are. We’re very, very spoiled and when it comes to choices and success and all that kind of stuff we actually can do it from anywhere, we can get that balance more easily than a lot of times in the past I would suggest.
Cassandra Gaisford: A lot of people, especially midlife’s and I don’t know maybe it’s just trapped in that olden mindset where they don’t, they don’t recognize the world for possibilities, they’re still trapped in this kind of 9 to 5 mentality, this sort of Monday to Friday. I might work 8 to 11 one night and skive off the next morning, I might work on Sunday because I feel like it and not on Monday and Tuesday.
We have so much freedom that it always, it just surprises me that people don’t recognize, especially in our culture, in Western culture, particularly women, we have a whole load of choice and it’s kind of like we’re wasting out opportunities. In fact I always said, and I think I said it in the Art of Success someone once told me that paintings are the way that spirit speaks to you through art. I remember standing in front of this painting and it was a Renaissance painting and it was a picture of this nun and I was still dithering on finishing Mona Lisa’s Secret and it was as though the nun said to me well what are you waiting for? You’ve got more freedom than me.
Melinda: And that word freedom, it came up in a podcast, I think I was listening to John Lee Dumas on the way to school and he was speaking to a fellow and at a top of a lot of people’s list is that word, what is the thing you want the most and it’s freedom to make your choices, not the freedom to work less but to work on the things that you’re passionate about and that’s a key element of your book as well.
Cassandra Gaisford: But it was certainly Leonardo’s main quest to have the freedom to think as choose to because there was a lot of censorship and many of his thoughts would have been considered heresy. So he always said some of the things he researched he’d keep quite and that’s why you have so much mystery about perhaps symbolizes in his paintings and particularly that last painting that’s only been discovered a few years ago Salvator Mundi and the things contained within that picture of Jesus holding the world around an orb in his hands, it was chucked out by the Medici pope, there was no way he was, he had to be Christ on earth, he had to be portrayed. So Leonardo very much quested after his freedom and freedom to think as he wanted, freedom to work as he wanted and so yeah, he loved birds, he loved flights, he was a very free spirited man that couldn’t be contained.
Cassandra Gaisford: Who wants to be tamed?
Melinda: That’s a key part of the Renaissance period if you like and as writers we know that’s when we got a lot of our romantic poets of Blake and words worth and all those kinds of guys as well and you’re tapping into the artists of the same period, it was very romantic but it was almost heresy because it was very restricted back then. I wanted to know though as we’re going through the same thing because we’ve got such a consumerist world, let’s draw the parallel and say we have to be the Renaissance women and get out there and fight for our freedom and take back our creativity because it’s not valued as much as it once was.
Cassandra Gaisford: In many ways Leonardo was quite lucky because creativity began to be valued and the artists themselves began to be revered whereas before his period the artist were just, even Michelangelo was swept by his father for bringing dishonor by being a lonely artisan, they were seen as sort of like, no disrespect to people who are plumbers and electricians and carpenters but they were just seen as sort of the, whereas actually the men are the craftsmen, they make the magic.
The Art of Success also goes into the significant obstacles that Leonardo had to face and many, because he was still questing after freedom in a time they weren’t totally free and he had to work just as many of us do. Some of us still have to work for tyrants, a bread and butter job might be working in a role that we don’t like or that we don’t have the freedom. He would have to work for say popes and other people who would dictate what he was going to do, what pigments he was going to use, what it was going to look like, all sorts of things.
He often felt despair, so many people they just succumbed to their despair instead of like, Leonardo would write affirmations so we have records of these in his journals. He would say I do not part from my farrow, meaning there was no way that he was not going to stay on course to his mountain. He, I do not depart, my mind returns to hope and he would keep affirming he worked dang hard to stay positive and during times when not everybody loved the work that he did and as you probably know with the “Last Supper” you know it pretty much virtually nearly slid off the wall the first go because of his innovation and new techniques.
So he just had to keep believing in himself and that’s what we all have to do and you’re right, we all have to keep fighting for our mental freedom, our emotional freedom, our spiritual freedom and the freedom of our children and our communities as well.
Melinda: Yeah and being role model for our kids, that’s something that I feel very strongly about I guess as a teacher and yeah, and it’s very, very hard within a system. It’s very hard when you have teachers who have never been out of the system. And you just think it’s scary stuff because a lot of our creativity is killed inside of us when we’re students and you talked earlier about failure and your no good and all this sort of stuff and I thought that’s sometimes a very clear message we send as educators and it’s scary we’re starting to do it to younger and younger ages like failing preppies and I’m very much a bit of a freedom fighter and I’m fighting to keep as many kids as I can outside the system.
Cassandra Gaisford: You found your purpose.
Melinda: Unfortunately you can’t fight systems and I was listening to you talk about Leonardo De Vinci and I was thinking of the Catholic Church and it was so very, very powerful. They used to kill their heretics, they used to take them out and behead them and all that kind of stuff and a lot of other tortures. So that parallel is an interesting one and certainly not one that we meant to delve into deeply here this morning. But if you’re interested in early literature and you’re interested in early art just call Cassandra and I because we’ll probably be still talking about it in a few weeks’ time.
Cassandra Gaisford: Spirituality, religion, whatever, it has its place in people’s lives as long as they don’t give their whole power away and this is something that Leonardo was passionate about, his freedom to think for himself, his freedom to question, you should be able to question without being censored or yeah as Galileo was hauled off somewhere because you thought perhaps the world operated in a different way. As we know during that time, it’s a big history of corruption in that particular organization.
But, going back to your being a role model for children, see one of the thing, I did, there’s a survey and I think there’s still a link to it on my website, survey about the art of success and what might be in your way of success and many people said many women said well I feel guilty, I felt guilty not giving all my time to my children. It’s like wake up people! Because again, your children are often, my daughter Hannah I raised her own my own as a single parent and I used to fell a little guilty at first and then I realized well perhaps I was going to be forge a better life for us by creating a better life for myself.
Then later, and I used to ask her to partner in my success, I used to have to bribe her to go to bed for instance when I needed to study for my degree. She said to me later, she’s 25 and she said oh I never felt like Mum didn’t give me enough time, what Mum gave me is the gift of knowing that I could follow my passion. I well that was a really, that was, that was really lovely.
So again, it’s like, if anyone believes that there’s a barrier to their success well that’s your rocks, [00:24:28] (unclear) read all you can, start to get ideas, talk to other people that perhaps have faced those barriers and make it your mission, make it your challenge, make it that you kind of call to adventure, your call to conquer that rock. Don’t look into it.
Melinda: As we’re talking here for everyone who’s listening and I will put this one up on YouTube because Cassandra is so very passionate, she’s sitting here shaking her hands and getting very, very excited and it seems to be the way–
Cassandra Gaisford: Jumping!
Melinda: With a few of the women that I have on my podcast and I’m thinking of one Sherrie I’m going to put up as well. She’s a German lady who rode a bike around the world with her husband after having her license for a week. It seems to be a key to success, not only working very, very hard which comes through with a lot of the romance writers I’ve talked to but you’ve really got to believe in what you’re doing and be prepared to work at it and work at it because the old adage if at first you don’t succeed you’ll succeed along the way and look back and go oh actually I was better than I thought I was. Are you finding that people may give up before they get to where they’re going and they don’t value the journey as much as they should perhaps?
Cassandra Gaisford: We live in this kind of immediate gratification society, don’t we? I want it now, now, now, faster, faster, people, books are being made shorter and shorter because attention spans are lower. I think people have lost the art of patience and perseverance a little bit. Again, it’s why Leonardo’s such an inspiration to me because he didn’t just whip out the Mona Lisa in a week, some historians say four years some say he never stopped working on it. So many of the things that are considered successful now took him a significant amount of time.
The jury’s out, do you have to believe in yourself or do you just have to maintain the hope that you will get there. Do you have to really believe that you’re capable or I remember the saying, and they’re using the word man but sometimes to achieve all that he is capable of man has to believe he’s more talented than he thinks?
I think that goes back to this [00:26:48] (unclear) who wrote Malcolm Bawled and he put it out there, 10,000 hours to actually master. I think we need to approach things as mastering a craft and craftsmen, yeah they put in the work and they get going and they keep believing in the fact that they can finish it, maybe that’s the thing, that they can finish it and put it out into the world and not necessarily be worried about whether it will sell, I mean it is obviously it’s, people say write the book you want to read and all else will fallow, well you have to do some market, you have to be aware of market trends but perhaps not make that the sole focus. What do you think?
Melinda: I think our sound is going crazy. For everybody we’re having a few sound issues, Cassandra did ask me to check our sound earlier before we started and I went no that’ll be alright. But we are having a few sound issues and I think it’s because Cassandra’s got a microphone as well so for most of our chat this morning it’s been really, really good but we did just lose Cassandra totally there and she was wondering why I didn’t respond it’s because I couldn’t hear a word she was saying. So if that remains in and we can’t edit it out, it’s my fault, but that’s alright.
We were talking about that trying to finish, trying to work out what success means to us, churning out 16 novels in 3 weeks and putting it up on Amazon and cracking the, what is it, cracking the bestseller list by Facebook Ad stacking, just leaves me cold. I’m watching friends of mine online do it and I’m going wow that is really, really exciting but why. It takes away the romance of the art and so I’m sitting here talking to you and I’m looking at those beautiful paintings in the background and I thought oh the romance is back it’s so wonderful and good art does take time to produce, good literature takes time to produce.
For anyone out there who’s taking a little bit more time with their craft and enjoying what they’re doing it doesn’t mean that you’re not as successful, it just means that you value, value the process, value the journey and I’m all for that. I don’t know, there’s not a day that my inbox is not full with new emails coming saying do this in 30 days, do that in 60 days and I’m going oh I’m just too exhausted.
Cassandra and I both talked before we started that we’re doing some courses because our life-long is definitely a passion of my and Cassandra’s by the sound of it. Do your courses, take your time, enjoy the journey because it’s not going away and as you said mid-life starts at, what was it, 50 now, so I’m just, I’m midlife after now, I thought I was too old but now I’ve made it. I think your message is very, very strong. Are you finding that the coaching side of your business is a big part of your business, is people want to hear what you’ve got to say?
Cassandra Gaisford: I think the focus for me has turned much more, coaching was a big part of my life for many, many years, so 15/20 odd years and then I decided I wanted to put my focus into my books so I’ve actually downsized my coaching business and I’ve upscaled my writing and the things related to that, so public speaking. I’m making, and again this comes back to this whole reinvention, you’ve got to make room for the new you and so this whole whiplash solutions and everything it still goes on a smaller scale, I have coaches working with me and I train coaches, but it’s just a much smaller part of where I’m at now and I decided I wanted to write books to connect with more people than you can ever do just one to one as a coach. So yeah, it’s the writing’s become a much bigger focus.
Melinda: Yeah and that’s interesting because I’ve doing some speaking courses with the fellow who inspired me so much I’ve forgotten his name, he is someone important and he said like the one-on-one thing is so much more important than doing things online and getting out there and writing your books and I’m going oh I like writing my books, I like my podcast and all that kind of stuff.
So everyone has a different opinion and we’ve got to choose what works for us and I agree with Cassandra that the writing is intrinsically valuable, it fills something inside of us, touches our soul and if we can share that with anyone that that’s a wonderful thing as well. I’m really excited to know that you’re following your writing passion because I want to talk to you about research. Obviously you’re very big into historical research.
Cassandra Gaisford: As you know we met through Joanna Penn’s course “Creative Freedom”, again the word freedom and I remember her saying that she never thought she could write a book and now look at her, she’s prolific. Well I never thought I could write a historical novel. I just, I’m not Sarah Detail, I just don’t, I just don’t have, well where is my concept. But then I listened to Sarah Dunant who wrote those books set in Florence, what was it, The Courtesan and the– what was it? Do you know her books?
Melinda: Yeah they’re beautiful, there was four of them was there?
Cassandra Gaisford: I can’t remember the other name, anyway beautiful books and she came to Wellington when I was living there and she said oh you just, history’s so wonderful because you have all the dots and then you join all the dots and then you add your creative freedom. .
Melinda: Donati?
Cassandra Gaisford: No, it’ll come to me.
Melinda: Cassandra’s talking about Joanna Penn, she’s talking about the course that we’re doing there “Creative Freedom” there are a bunch of wonderful women achieving amazing things but Joanna Penn herself is a thriller writer and she’s right up there in indie publishing and as an inspiration to all of us she’s just amazing. Cassandra you’re coming along behind in her footsteps, if you’ve written your historical novel and you’ve got Coco Channel’s going to be non-fiction though isn’t it?
Cassandra Gaisford: Non-fiction but at the moment, you were asking me about research. So the historical novel is so new to me, I haven’t written historical before. But the research, again if you follow the thing that you’re passionate about, so I’m really passionate about the Renaissance, Leonardo, and I was really passionate, I was doing a writers course on body language and I suddenly had this really and I say it to people if you want to be successful you have to listen to your body barometer and follow that thing with passion.
So I had this real strong physical reaction when I looked at Mona Lisa’s smile again and I thought I know why she’s smiling! And that began Mona Lisa’s Secret that began the book and then I just, my partner would say there’s three of us in this relationship. Mona Lisa, you and I. So I have books everywhere about Mona Lisa and Leonardo. So research is really easy isn’t it, really. Let’s be real.
Melinda: Let’s just say as a form of procrastination it is wonderful. When I was doing my PhD I used to wonder around the hills of mining camps for hours and hours going oh I’m working.
Cassandra Gaisford: It can be, can be dangerous.
Melinda: The one thing, we’ll probably have you back again and talk about all things spouses and partners because they do get the short shift when it comes to this artist life I guess because probably the last half dozen women that I’ve spoken to spend their time focused on their art and I thought actually what does happen to the poor old spouse.
Cassandra Gaisford: Yeah and again, that’s a really good question because Michael Haige he spoke at the New Zealand conference and I know he did in Australia and he posed this question, Michael Haige’s the story script doctor or he works a lot with Hollywood movie stars, Will Smith etc. and he has this saying about when maybe the hero or heroine is saying she really wants something but she’s playing lip service because of some unspoken fear.
Well my unspoken fear used to be, because he works through this thing, I’ll do anything to achieve, insert goal, so it might be to achieve writing success. But just don’t ask me to do this. So my thing was just don’t ask to me give up my relationship because there’s a belief sometimes that the relationship had and sometimes they do go, the relationship, the spouse takes off or just doesn’t work. But I don’t want to sacrifice my relationship for a book.
Melinda: We were talking about this at school yesterday because one of my purposes is to inspire women to tell their stories. That in words that aren’t couched families, that aren’t couched around spouses that aren’t couched around jobs, but to find out who they are and what their story is and as women we’re notoriously bad at that. The one thing I like about the artistic community or the arts community is that we tend to have our conversations around what inspires us, our passions, what touches our souls.
But when you go out into the big wide world, marriages are falling over, it’s really sad and women are coming out the other end and going who am I and I guess that’s midlife career thing that you’ve tapped into because so many of us are finding ourselves on their own. I know I started out writing romances when I was 20. Went off and lived happily ever after with my handsome hero for 20 years, woke up 20 years later and thought what happened, what happened to my writing, what happened to my romance novels? And it’s only now that we turn around and go wow we do give up a lot, we do sacrifice a lot.
So I’m looking at you, Cassandra is so bright, so bubbly, her eyes are sparkling, she’s obviously doing something right out there in the bay of islands, she is just glowing. I still haven’t woken up from my shower. But I’d like you to leave us with, you went to the romance writers of New Zealand conference and I’m reading a blog post here and you have a picture of a handsome here, is that your husband or partner?
Cassandra Gaisford: No, that’s Michael Haige,
Melinda: I knew that, I’m going to edit that out everybody. He’s very handsome, we’d all like to marry you Michael.
Cassandra: Yeah well you would because he’s such a lovely, lovely– I had it on my on my talking about men of his station, I had a go, I just wanted him to sign my copy of his book, I wanted him because I’m actually quite shy, people don’t really realize that.
Melinda: Oh no she’s not, forget that, cancel.
Cassandra Gaisford: No, but I am. So again, doing a Leonardo I thought okay, well I’m going to amp myself up I’m going to assume it and I’m going to get him to sign the book, I always feel like something comes over me and I get all shy. We ended up just getting on just really, really well and spent some time with Tessa O’Radly, romance writer and Michael showing them around Auckland and Mike was suggest that if I do it, it was a bit fun, even my partner said oh it looks like your wedding photo.
Melinda: I thought it was your partner, hey look just ignore me, I’ve put my foot in it so many times no.
Cassandra Gaisford: No he’s a lovely man and he has a lot of, what I like about his work if anybody hasn’t read Michale Hauge’s books, I can’t remember the title, but it’s about story or storytelling. He’s really talking about the human condition and about the transformational character arch and he lead a workshop saying you can be the hero of your own story.
I think that’s sort of the take home message for all your people listening, is yeah be the heroine or if you’re a bloke be the hero of your own story, look at where you are, look at maybe what Michael would call your identity or your learned behaviour or your mask or your default to cover up your fears and step into your essence and essence is really about your spirituality, the thing, your passion or in your case you’ve talked about your purpose. Peruse your purpose, peruse your essence and then you’ll get that glow, you’ll get that natural glow because you’re coming from a deeper place of source, you’re not coming from ego.
I think when, coming back to success, when you come from your essence that has an energy that we’re connecting through, through the books that I’ve written because I suddenly decided to stop being so PC and put myself in my books and talk about things like paintings speak to me without fear of being looked up or fear of listening to the biology of the leaf, Bruce Lipton’s really amazing work, books where he talked about sort of how you could transform self-limiting beliefs by some pretty new age therapy which he talks about in the back of his book and I talk about in the Midlife series.
So you put yourself, I mean a lot of the transformational of our characters in our writing is they suddenly allow themselves to be vulnerable and they give up what’s been holding them back and they pursue their identity or they leave their identities and they pursue their essence and their one love of their life, their true love of their life sees their essence and believes so much in their essence that they give them permission to be themselves. Now that’s a love story.
Melinda: It’s also that bird in the cage which is right where we started from, we’ve gone back to if you have a bird in the cage and you set it free and it comes back it’s yours forever and that is amazing because I had a completely different ending to our interview and you’ve rounded it out beautifully. You’ve done this before Cassandra I’m sure.
Cassandra Gaisford: No, we’re all just free flowing aren’t we today Melinda, we decided no, no practice, we’ve got a few sound bumps but that’s natural and we’re just free ranging today.
Melinda: In my defence I do have a phone here and it has Cassandra’s blog on it called Powerful creativity, it’s one of her blogs, she has two because she just does everything this woman. It’s five ways to be inspired in your everyday life. I thought that would be a wonderful way to end, but Cassandra’s rounded it off so you can’t hear this now, so you’re going to have to go to the blog and read it, unless I stop talking and make Cassandra very quickly run through those five things, can you remember them?
Cassandra Gaisford: No you run them, why don’t you run through and save us?
Melinda: You can’t remember them either can you?
Cassandra Gaisford: No!
Melinda: I’ve got my phone here, I’ve got my iPad, I’ve got Cassandra and I’ve got a cup of hot chocolate and I’ve got something beeping at me telling me get to school, oh the pressure! Okay it says surround yourself with positive people, well I’ve been meeting some wonderful people on this podcast. They’re out there, you’re meeting them in your conferences, you’re meeting them in your everyday life, you meet them through your books I’m guessing. Books, writing a book is the best thing you can ever do everybody you get to get out there and network with the most amazing people and writers have this most amazing way of saying oh I’m introverted and I’m shy but they’re actually the most, the most interesting people to talk to. They’ve got so much to tell us.
Cassandra Gaisford: You know what it is Melinda, it’s because when you’re speaking about something you’re passionate about, see when I was planning my wedding many years ago, I wanted a table down the back of the room where no one could look at me. That I’m that girl.
Melinda: Yeah with brides, yeah put her at the back of the room, ignore her.
Cassandra Gaisford: Honestly, I didn’t want people looking at me. I used to go so red and so self-conscious. But when you speak, I’ve spoken to conferences all around the world but I’m speaking about my passion and passion comes from a different place, it’s beyond your worry about yourself and you become, I don’t know, more confident, more courageous, more powerful and that’s why I always say to people who are stuck find that thing that is your true passion. It does have to be extroverted, it doesn’t have to be exciting. I
know a guy who’s passionate about potatoes and has made a really good living out of researching Murray potatoes, native potatoes and I know a man passionate about rocks who’s created some amazing rock themed parks. So it could be something complete, my partner’s passionate about butterflies, just find that thing that fills you with light and then you’ll connect with like-minded people like you connected with me. I didn’t have to go out trolling the internet looking for you, we just knew we shared before I even met you, now I’m meeting you and I get that connection that’s shared being these freedom fighters.
Melinda: I just want to go back and talk literature from the Renaissance period, but that’s another thing. Now there are another four things, look if I go through five of them I can tell you what’s going to happen here, we’re going to be here for another half hour. I do have to go to school. It’s all there in Cassandra’s blog. Cassandra if you’d like to let everybody know where they can find you, your amazing books let us know when Coco Chanel’s coming out, what your next project is, all within in the next 50 seconds please.
Cassandra Gaisford: Okay in 50 seconds the easiest way, and I’m sure you’ll have links on your podcast, but the easiest way is just go to Amazon and type in my name or go to my author page Cassandra Gaisford and many of the books are in print and also in eBook, so that’s all go to, my website and yeah my next projects, what I’ve got is self-esteem and confidence coming out, should be September because that’s a big thing for many people, how to boost your self-esteem and confidence. Then I’ve got the Art of Success: Coco Channel probably in October and just finishing the sort of final draft of Mona Lisa’s Secret so that should keep me busy and have a relationship and eat and exercise and sleep.
Melinda: And you can only do that in the Bay of Islands.
Cassandra Gaisford: And meditate, that helps.
Melinda: And look out that beautiful, beautiful window at that beautiful, beautiful view. Look everybody The Art of Success is certainly worth downloading, I’d download it now and then you won’t go to school just like me, it’s how extraordinary artists can help you succeed in business and in life. Cassandra has some wonderful tips on her website.
We look forward to reading the Mona Lisa’s Secret when that comes out I’d love to have you come back on. I’ll get a copy so we can talk about it to our heart’s content, but we’ll warn everybody first this is going to be a literary talk and we’re going to talk about history and art and we may not stop for a couple of hours.
Look you’re beautiful, it’s been wonderful. You’re sparkly. I apologize for the sound everybody it’s actually perfect now as we’re finishing off which is always the way. Let’s, I’ll put a note at the start of the podcast that the sound has been a bit of an issue and people don’t care, people seem to be fairly understanding of that kind of stuff. Look, thank you very, very, much. Have a beautiful day. Tell me now that you’re going to sit out in the sun.
Cassandra Gaisford: I might go for a walk actually, I think walking is good, it’s like a meditation, so I’m going to go and walk around the beautiful water and I might get to see some dolphins.
Melinda: Have you got a dog?
Cassandra Gaisford: No, not allowed dogs here because we have kiwis that come on the property, so it’s amazing they come in our garden and we’re part of a kiwi rescue team so we’re just trying to stop other people who shouldn’t have dogs from killing them really.
Melinda: Oh, on that note, I’ll say goodbye. Kiwis are little cute little brown things with long beaks and they’re beautiful.
Cassandra Gaisford: I know, so a lot of people here aren’t allowed dogs on this section, so trying to work collaboratively with people so that it’s not punitive, but we all need to do more to protect these little vulnerable creatures. So yeah, I have kiwis, not dogs on my property, so they’re my pets, but they’re free.
Melinda: Over here in North Queensland, or over here in Queensland and up in North Queensland we have cassowaries and they’re a whole lot bigger and people don’t even want to take them on. Alright, we shall talk again beautiful and thank you so much for your patience today.
Cassandra Gaisford: Thank you for having me Melinda, it was really, really great to talk to you.

About the author, Melinda

I'm an authorpreneur, English teacher and podcaster who dreams of a life on the road full of adventures and handsome heroes, whilst making squizillions of dollars in book sales to pay for my chocolate fix. In the real world, I write novels and non-fiction, and offer my expert advice via online courses (as soon as I make them) and writing retreats (as soon as I organise them).

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