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How to take something ugly and make it speak up for you….




“Every line is the actual experience with its own unique story” ~ Cy Twombly

Acrylic, oil crayon and mixed media.
760 h x 1200 w


This new work was once a painting I had ‘ruined’ and made ‘ugly’. Recently I was listening to an audiobook by Nancy Hill M.D., The Artist’s Journey: Bold Strokes To Spark Creativity. Nancy offered an exercise where, rather than turn away from ugly, we embrace it and  love it. When I lived near Peter Jackson in Wellington I used to hate graffiti. I would paint it out whenever someone ruined a beautiful wall. But now this painting is both an ode to the American abstract artist CY Twombly and also the beauty of bold scrawls.

Twombly used to use ‘common’ house paint. In a flash of insight, he gave me permission to do this too. I went to my studio, took several canvases that I thought were ‘ruined’, fetched Resene’s “Double Masala’ from where we stored our house paint and began to create. everything flowed. I took some old oil crayons and scrawled.

The work was in part, my attempt to make sense and transform something ‘ugly’ or what Trump might call “a nasty’ comment a psychologist in the US emailed me after receiving my recent newsletter, reprinted below:


As you’ll see, I included feedback from a client who was so happy with what she had achieved in her coaching. And she also followed up with another email to thank me for my help.


This is the email I received:



A couple of things concerned me:


  1. The psychologist had signed up to my newsletter in order to receive a free eBook
  2. Mailchimp, my newsletter subscriber enables people to opt-out
  3. She has accused me of sham coaching which is dangerous to people – and states that she is a ‘trained psychologist who does ‘real therapy’
  4. She doesn’t recognise or hasn’t bothered to find out, my substantial training and qualifications – including psychology and my work also backed by research.

But worse, she is, like me, in the helping profession. I expect better from people registered as psychologists. I don’t expect to be attacked. I wrote back to her, “Can you please send me confirmation of your membership body as I wish to lodge a complaint with them regarding your unethical and unprofessional correspondence.”

She didn’t come back to me!

And I didn’t pursue it. Because I don’t need to waste my time and energy.

But of real concern was how much her email knocked me. Initially. It was my partner’s birthday. We were just getting ready for a lovely day together. I didn’t need a nasty email. I wish I hadn’t read it.  I share my experience with you because we all have to learn to speak up and speak with truth and integrity when people are toxic to us. Many of my clients are afraid of putting their work ‘out there’ because they fear being vulnerable. They fear being shamed. They fear being attacked.

Being attacked hurts – but not nearly as much as being a person who attacks others.  Being attacked can sting like a bee. Being attacked can pierce like a poisonous dart. But it needn’t last. It needn’t strike its mark. We can learn to self-soothe. We can learn not to digest fake news. We can learn to channel toxic, negative experiences into something good.

Which is what I did when I went to my studio that day. I took a colour I don’t normally paint with, grey, and as I made my graffiti marks, I laughed, I giggled, and I whooped.

“I love that painting more than the Max Gimblett,” my partner said to me when I placed my artwork on the wall.

Something ugly was transformed into something filled with light, love and laughter.



Love Language

Here is another piece I created


“Love Language”⠀

“Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” ~ Kenn Butler

Mixed media, molten New Zealand beeswax, encaustic, oil crayon, passion

Pro-panel artboard 400mm x12mm

Handcrafted in New Zealand

New work created during global ‘rest time’.In honour of the new movement sparked by Dr. Joe Dispenza, called GOLOV-20  So much loving energy! So much healing:) so much joy



And also this piece – a reminder about the power of letting go


“Let Go”

“I had my freedom and that was nice” ~ Cy Twombly

Mixed media, oil crayon, acrylic, passion





































and this one….





So really, I have a lot to be grateful for. Those ugly comments from the registered psychologist sparked a flourish of creativity!

An email I received from an attorney in the STATES also affirmed what I have know to be true —some of the craziest, most unenlightened people I have met are psychologists – many of whom regard themselves as morally superior.


Sadly, my interactions with psychologists have been largely negative. Re the below definition of a sociopath, I believe we all have a moral responsibility to lift each other higher in the wake of COVID-19. Emails from readers have been uplifting. Thank you:)

noun Psychiatry.

a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
Another client also reached out:


That is a powerful knockback. I like how you responded. When I was first starting out in a new role, I did a job right before Christmas when I didn’t have all the materials I would normally use. It wasn’t my finest work. They sent me a note urging me not to “inflict myself on anyone else”. It knocked me. But I saw the importance of self-talk like, “everyone makes errors”, everyone has to start somewhere”, “if I don’t carry on, what will I miss out on in the future”, “my mistake was much more minuscule than the guy who sailed the liner in near the coast to boast to a friend and capsized” etc. Once I had gained a new perspective, I was good to go, but toxic words do deliver a blow, so definitely a strategy is needed.
We must remember that no one is immune from criticism. Even my muse CY Twombly was harshly criticised. Cy Twombly (1928-2011) created art that was remarkable for its versatility, sensitivity and originality. Throughout his career, he followed his own artistic pathway, independent from contemporary trends, and for a long time, his work went unnoticed by a wider audience. By the time of his death in Rome, at the age of 83, he was internationally recognized as one of the greatest and most idiosyncratic artists of the 20th and early 21st century.

“Twombly’s recent paintings are based on drawings made in North Africa, but there is nothing specifically African about them. Large, streaked expanses of white with straggling black lines scrawled across them, they resemble graffiti, or the drawings of pre-kindergarten children. The contours of the white area enclosed by line suggest rows oftottering, crudely fashioned spikes or totems. Presumably the feeling-content of this art is ugliness: shrillness, conflict, cruelty. There is something that resembles a crown of thorns. Fine. The artist is clearly a sensitive man and this is what he finds in the world. Does he have to express it clumsily?

The answer is ‘yes’ writes, Joshua Rivkin in his biography of Twombly, Chalk. “The rough unfinished edges were no accident but a careful performance, a stance against perfection.” Twombly’s style was a very conscious refusal of technique in favour of spontaneous expression.





“Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” – Kenn Butler

Thank you Ken and all my readers who send me loving words of gratitude after reading this post. Readers like Hloni who wrote to me from Africa, “Wow….thank you so much for such an inspiring story Cassandra. You have no idea how it feels to have you in my corner. Someone I call “Guardian Angel”, a friend and confidante.
Whenever I get your email my eyes light up and smile you bring to my face is unimaginable. I thank God that our path have crossed in this world of technology. Thank you so much for everything. You’re truly are a Godsend.”


Ken, a leadership coach and company director, also sent me a link to his blog  in incredible flow he had just created a post about ‘words”


Here it is with his permission

Greetings dear friends & welcome to my world again this week. Today, I would like to speak about words. Words create worlds. Every single one of us could give testimony to the truthfulness of those words from someone or somewhere.  We can go back in our minds to the teacher or coach or grandparent who spoke life-giving words to us.  We can remember how much wind it put in our sails when they said those four magical words to us… “I believe in you.”

We can also go back in our minds to hurtful & attacking words which scarred us.  And even though it may have been years ago, we can remember it & still feel the emotion of it like it was yesterday.

The words in our past echo in our present & they continue to shape our lives today.  Words have incredible power. And this is doubly true for a leader.  As a leader, your words carry more weight & they have more staying power.  Your words get amplified & magnified.

Through the years I have been amazed how many people have come up to me to thank me for something I said to them which impacted their lives. The scary part is how often I did not even remember saying anything to them.

We need to become experts at speaking life-giving words. Let us be honest.  It is tough out there in the world, especially at the moment, & I feel it will not get any better quickly. We do not live in a world filled with grace & love.  In this world, you get what you pay for (sometimes).  NO free lunch.  NO cutting in line.  Eye for an eye.  Tooth for a tooth.

Like the great philosopher, Norm, from Cheers said “It’s a dog eat dog world and I’m wearing milkbone underwear.”

But as a leader, we get the privilege of speaking life & hope & encouragement into the lives of people. Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.  [1]

And here is the great news.  It does not cost you typically anything to do this & it does not require a line item in your mission & vision statement. It should be simply a part of your culture & values.  And this is not about personality. This is about sensitivity, love & kindness. Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.  [2]

I remember when I was in a particularly tough season of my life. It is a long story, but take my word for it, I was not doing well.  And one day one of our team handed me a personal letter for me.  I did not recognize the name on the return address.  I opened it up & it was a two page hand-written letter from the mother of one of the girls who had been on my team.

In the letter she talked about how much I had influenced her daughter. The letter came at just the right time. I folded it up & put it in the pocket of my planner & over the next few months I read the letter several times.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much life I took from this two-page letter. And it was all because someone took the time to speak revitalising words.

The biggest enemy of blessing people with your words is not meanness or selfishness, it is HURRY.  So, slow down today and speak into someone’s life.

What is the difference between a good pitcher & a great pitcher? DELIVERY, & maybe steroids but this is for a different article.

To use another analogy, the most dangerous part of any airplane flight is the landing.  And just before the airplane lands, they will talk about the plane being “on approach”.  The approach is critical for a successful landing.  Your approach with words is critical to successful relationships.

It is the “right words” which bring satisfaction.  It is not just the right words, it is also the right delivery of the right words.  Patience can persuade a prince, & soft speech can crush strong opposition.   [3]
Learn to be soft with your words. When you have to have a hard conversation, think ahead of time not just about “what” you want to say, but “how” you want to say it.

By the way, you can be clear & still be soft.  In my life, the biggest roadblock to soft words is an empty soul.  When I am running on fumes, my words are cutting, not kind.  When I am leading on empty, my words are too often cynical, not soft.

In concluding this week, I am reminded of the words from Robin Gibb & the Bee Gees song:                                                                                                              Talk an everlasting words and dedicate them all to me
And I will give you all my love I’m here if you should call to me
You think that I don’t even mean a single word I say
It’s only words and words are all I have to take your heart away.

So, today, steward the power of your words well.  And remember, what you say matters!

I hope my comments each week are helpful dear readers; & again, provide just an opinion, from my world. Thank you for taking the time to be with me, I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson. With my best wishes, I look forward to connecting with you again soon.


[1] Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)
[2] Proverbs 12:25 (NLT)
[3] The point Solomon is making in Proverbs 25:15

Trust your talent, not your credentials


I will leave the final closing thoughts with branding specialist Cat Conroy


“Sometimes we can be too credentials orientated in our culture.

If your Soul came to earth to inspire, uplift and help people, have confidence and go out there and do what you came here to do.

You don’t need the credentials, if you want them, great, go get them, but it’s who you are as a person that people will be attracted to.

~ Your energy.

~ Your talent.

The way you inspire your tribe is why they are pulled to and want to work with you, not necessarily because of the letters after your name.”


The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Leonardo da Vinci)

To grab your copy of the Art of Success from Amazon, click here>>getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

To grab your copy from iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other great bookstores, click here>>https://books2read.com/u/bPJqYJ

To grab your copy from Kobo, click here>>https://www.kobo.com/ebook/the-art-of-success-5

Did you enjoy this post?

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

 How to be the rock that resists adversity—mind, body and soul food during COVID-19



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

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P.S. You may enjoy reading or listening to my personal story of being bullied and how I overcame criticism, in my short book, The Little Princess



To read the first book in Cassandra’s Transformational Super Kids series, The Little Princess:



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


To purchase the eBook on Kobo >>


The Little Princess







Audio versions are also available from all online bookstores and also libraries


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How to take something ugly and make it speak up for you….

The Joyful Artist

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!

P: +64 (0) 21 873 833
E: hello@thejoyfulartist.co.nz


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