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I Look Back And It Seems Surreal—2021 in Review

laurie and I house and Garden

Like many people globally, 2021 was a year of ongoing lockdowns, locked-ins, and locked-outs. Some bits were terrible, and some bits were full of child-like wonder. I would not be putting too fine a point in it to say that creativity saved me.

In Feb 2021 our home was featured in New Zealand House and Garden. As the article notes, It takes courage to transform a vision into reality. Check out the article and be inspired by our story of reinvention. You’ll see some of my art and see how I gave my vision for my art gallery an early plug, before it was even created! It’s here, Art@rangitane where I hold my fun and fabulous art workshops.

I hope you enjoy this little video where I share her history.

I share how I created an art gallery during Covid and created more joy for others

We made a special effort to do a shout out for local businesses who were phenomenal to give them a well-deserved publicity boost, including:

Ces Goldsack, who has worked at Kauri Cliffs golf course and helped recontour our lawns. Watching him manoeuvre his T-Rex machine like a Sumi-e master as he landscaped was memorable.

Local landscaper Jonathan Fulton and his crew did some heavy lifting. The 30-year-old Pitt Island nikaus needed a crane and four men to position into place.

Discovering that well-known sculptor Chris Booth lived 10 minutes away was also a bonus. Laurie commissioned a piece for Cassandra’s 50th birthday which Chris aptly named Viewfinder.

John ad Dee Gaffer of Kerikeri Cabinets Limited made the kitchen, and the Caesarstone bench was from Granite Heaven. Both were world-class. I am currently working with John Gaffer, who created the large commission baseboard. This work is 2-meter x 1.5-meter abstract encaustic artwork to christen the new rennovation of a Kerikeri couple’s home. Kerikeri Cabinets is also creating a super cool kitchen for them.

We felt very blessed to work with such great people.

And, of course, Jane Ussher (now also a Kerikeri local) and her dazzling photos added a wow factor to the House and Garden Article. Jane is well known and respected for her documentary work as a photographer and is regarded as one of New Zealand’s foremost portrait photographers. We became fast friends, and when I did finally open my gallery, she showed her botanical photos for the first time, and her husband exhibited his sculptures.

Me Jane and Grant Return to Love


Visit https://www.thejoyfulartist.co.nz/workshops-around-the-globe/ to discover the next play date for painting

Kerikeri Showstopper

A great way to feel more joyful is to celebrate happy moments. In February this year, I achieved a dream: to write for New Zealand House and Garden. Seeing my story of Tania and Matt Cooper’s stunning home was a divine moment. I loved everything about the experience… their nest, their vision, and sharing their inspiration with others.

Tania is the founding owner of a successful trio of design stores, Caravan Clothing & Home


“Textural jubilation radiates from the hand-crafted concrete walls. The rustic finish was achieved by pouring concrete in situ into 6 x 2-inch formwork. “They were a lot of work; we had to prop up the boxing to keep it all in place,” says Tania. Matt rescued lengths of mahogany from a man wielding a chainsaw and re-purposed the timber into a sleek dining table.” 



This is a card from The Art of Life Inspiration Deck, which I released in December 2021. All the images are of my artworks, accompanied by an inspiring, uplifting quote that I have written.  

The text was inspired by rereading an Akashic reading by Chris Wilson from 2018, saying: “Moving away from Worklife Solutions. Not going into that old energy. Your vibration is too high; it’s a lower vibration that exhausts.”

I told my Website developer to cancel it, “just let the whole site go.”

Like many readings, I had forgotten it. But on Oct 28, 2021, as we approached the last quarter moon and approached a new moon in Scorpio on 5 November, for whatever reason, I reread the reading. And I was reminded of how I felt in early October 2021, when the domain for Worklife Solutions came up for renewal.I told my Website developer to cancel it, “just let the whole site go.”

For many years I had been less engaged with it, but I hung onto it. More from fear of missing or losing out or just simply letting go of something I had created—my very first business. Despite the fact that I had poured over 15 years into this business and website, that it had been tremendously successful, and the sole source of my livelihood for a large chunk of my working life, allowing me to be the solo parent financially supporting my daughter and putting her through private school; enabling me to build an architecturally designed house; appear in media—and more…I felt, and still do, incredibly peaceful when I pulled the plug.

Having decluttered from my business, some would say ‘burned my ships” I am now free to put my energy into the higher vibrations which call me—my art-making, powerful creativity and being free to be me!

Earlier this year, I completely revamped my website www.cassandragaisford.com (in 2023 I rebranded to The Joyful Artist to better reflect my soul purpose)—and this has paid dividends. I’ve reached a wider audience, increase my E-commerce capability, sold more art, generated more passive income—and, importantly, I’ve had more fun!

If you haven’t visited, please do—come see the high vibes calling me. Joy is peace and it comes when you focus on love!

The painting is Think Pink 3 and is on view at Pure Day Spa in Kerikeri, and also for purchase in my online store (worldwide shipping and free delivery in Kerikeri)

2021 I Returned to my heART

While I’ve been locked at home, writing and painting have given me a lovely escape, a way to dive into alternate worlds of beauty, love and peace.  As I shared, I opened my art gallery during COVID. I exhibited there and through local businesses supporting me, including Pure Day Spa, where I sold to a visiting lady. Her husband purchased it for her birthday.

Super sadly, Makana Chocolate Care and Art Gallery closed due to COVID restrictions in December this year. But before their closing, I exhibited two paintings and sold them.

sold festival of colour

I couldn’t think of a sweeter place to show my abstract florals than my favourite go-to spot—the gorgeous Makana Chocolate Cafe. All the joy you want—delicious chocolates, divine coffee, sublime wine, and sugar-free artworks to tickle and delight. All paintings, on show and bonus extras, can be viewed and purchased in my online store, here>>

Since its opening in April 2016, Makana Chocolate Café has displayed a series of small shows of original and new works by local, Bay of Islands, artists. 

My exhibition was called Smell the Roses and celebrated the transcendent power of nature’s floral love-embued bouquets. Created with passion and infused with love the palette embodied pinks, lavenders, ethereal warm whites, sunny yellows, rose reds, and more. Smell the Roses celebrated the transcendent power of nature’s floral love-embued bouquets.

For me, it was the gentle blush of a fragrant rose in bloom. The unfolding of a magnolia dripping with rain in winter. The scent of a fragrant orchid prolifically flowering in damp conditions. It’s the smile of a baby in a dress blooming with pink rosebuds blowing me a kiss. And chocolates—lots of chocolates!

Created both as the world was reeling from the economic, physical and emotional fallout of Covid-19 and as we gradually embraced a new normal, the Smell The Roses collection embraced GO-LOV 20, the antidote to fear offered by Neuroscientist Dr Joe Dispenza.

Smell The Roses: Showed Tuesday 4 May 9.00 am to 5.30 pm. Showed 7 days until end June 2021.

As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Without love, what is there?


“Wonderful exhibition Cassandra Gaisford ….thrilled with our purchases and looking forward to many more …what an inspiring place to have a studio.” ~ Jo Seagar

I opened my studio, home, and heart on Valentine’s Weekend 2021 to launch my tiny gallery—Art@Rangitane. As we all reeled from the global pandemic, I wanted to bring joy to my life and others. As a true champion of the positive power of art and with a mission to attract people to the area and support local artists, I’m excited about the potential of this new initiative. Showing more of myself in life and art and sharing heaven on earth with tourists, locals and art lovers is an exciting new venture.

I’d never opened or run a gallery before, let alone during a pandemic! Was I confident? Heck no, I was sh*t scared. But I felt the fear, followed my joy, and opened the doors anyway. I’ll share more about this in a future book, in case it’s something you aspire to do.

Look who called in the weekend that I opened the gallery. The fabulous, talented and fun celebrity chef, author and patron of New Zealand Hospice, Jo Seagar. She didn’t mind that the gallery wasn’t even finished—and she fell in love with a special piece called Love Story which she was later gifted by her fabulous friend Jenny for Jo’s birthday.

jo Seagar feedback

I love, love, love meeting people who have come from all corners of the world to see my art and soak up the beautiful sea views and the natural environment which inspires my art.

Some of my own most memorable experiences have been purchasing art directly from artists whose philosophy and feel-good vibe I have enjoyed. Artists like Max Gimblett , who I was also fortunate to study with during a workshop he held in Hawaii. It’s so extraordinary meeting and purchasing art from the artist in person, and I love that others feel that way.

To view my art collections click here>>

To commission a bespoke piece that speaks to your heart, navigate here>>

I hope to see you soon. Call in to visit, purchase art, or commission a piece direct from me (or online), or just say “gidday”. You’ll make my day.

Naomi Barton Trusted my passion


Capturing Stories. Crafting Memories. Sharing your heart. Change your life. Write, Finish, Publish your stories. Earn passive income while you sleep.

In 2021 I launched my first group coaching programme, Love Stories, and In the process launched the writing career of Naomi Barton who I also helped create an audiobook narration career.

“If you hadn’t suggested it, this would never have happened: Naomi Barton Voice. I am now a Voice actor, specialising in narrating audiobooks. I am finding more opportunities with video production are coming my way also which is allowing me to write scripts and have a crack using my direction skills also. I am now a self-published author writing childrens’ stories and romance novels.”

Do you have a book inside you bursting to come forth? Benefit from group coaching, Zoom calls and support to create an eBook ready for uploading to global distributors (including Amazon) 

Whether you’re a budding novelist, a poet, would love to pen romances or have a self-help book or memoir you’d love to write, Love Stories is for you.

In this 12-week intimate group coaching course, I share my secrets of how I finished my stories and built a successful online book shop and guide participants through all the steps that are essential to tell stories they are proud of and ensure their online shop thrives.

Leverage off over 20-years of my publishing experience as a newspaper columnist, bestselling self-empowerment, children’s and romance author.



On Valentine’s Day, 2021, I launched LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! my group coaching programme. The energy of the group was fantastic. I look forward to our regular weekly calls and attribute the incredible vibe of like-minded others who wanted to focus on love, not fear, helping survive this feardemic.

“Thank you for creating and leading Love, Love, Love. What I got out of it is: I can create what I love – step by step, minute by minute. Signed Sassy Susan – following my heart from one joy bubble to another.”

Always Summer: Large Bespoke Commission

This year I set an intention to work large—and I’m delighted to say I achieved it. Always Summer, a bespoke piece was commissioned by a local Kerikeri family as a ‘statement piece’ to adorn the large white walls of their newly refurbished home.

The brief was, “We want it to always feel like summer.” Beautifully layered with sensuously sultry acrylic glazes, Always Summer embodies the new energy of flow, optimism, hope and renewal that our souls ache for after this tumultuous, confining time. I was delighted when the couple told me how I had exceeded the brief during a particularly wet and stormy downpour! “It feels like it’s always summer,” they said as driving rain pummeled their home.

2400 mm x 1200 mm

This commission fulfilled a dream to supersize my art and create larger pieces. As I write, I am working on another bespoke large commissioned piece, this time in beeswax with pure pigments.

I love to create bespoke, customised work and create with various mediums, including oil paints, acrylic, encaustic, watercolour, gilt and more. I adore the mesmerising colours that come from natural pigments enabling an alchemical relationship between nature and the painting. There is joy and immediacy to my work, too and a direct and absorbing relationship with each piece that is exciting.

Hundreds of hours of work go into the process of building up the many layers of many of my work. Sometimes a painting can take many years to make, and during that process, they develop a personality of their own. The minimum lead time on a commission is three months, but it is advisable to consider at least one year for a large, heavily layered piece. I’m trying to capture transcendent beauty and capture this as an antidote to our chaotic times. 

My soul purpose is to create something that uplifts spirits and provides harmony, peace and tranquillity. My style is constantly evolving as I keep discovering new paints and techniques and explore the boundless possibilities of colour. I am committed to taking creative risks and pushing things to the edge of possibility—and beyond. I absolutely love working to a huge scale.

In this video, I share how I finished my painting, Always Summer, a 2400 x 1200 abstract painting on canvas. As you will see, it is beautifully and lovingly layered with sensuously sultry glazes of gloss acrylic. I use the Golden range because of the quality of this brand.

Going International

really cool
This piece shipped to a new collector in Texas after she saw it on Facebook

To the most remote darkened heart we’ll carry light.”
-Pablo Neruda

Texturally rich evocative abstract inspired by nature.

38 cm x 76 cm x 4 cm

Acrylic on Canvas

The artwork below, Here Comes the Sun, shipped to a homesick Londoner.

Why Losing Is Wining

festival and 100 x 100

I entered the smaller piece in the 100 x 100 competition. It didn’t sell, but the bigger Festival of Colour did!

Joy Reset FREE 4 day boost for artists, authors & creators

To help us reset and renew for 2022, I created a 4-part-series of FB lives to help boost artists, authors & creators to reset and renew for 2022. In this video, I shared the joy of creating a theme for the year ahead. You’ll discover fun, playful and creative ways to set manifestations that actually work!

You can also join The Joyful Artists Group on Facebook and rewatch the Joy Reset Videos: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2237086583092479

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Cassandragaisfordnz

Ferrari Passion


In June 2021, I was super proud to have an article and this photo I took outside the iconic Stone Store published by Scuderia, the official magazine of the Ferrari Owners’ Club of New Zealand.


student work

2021 has been a year of so many firsts. In July I sold out my first in person art workshop.

My art and creativity workshops are celebrated for being colourful fun, and ever-so-slightly messy. So many people told me what a great respite from COVID the workshops have been.

“It’s been great to do something totally fun!”


I also created an online workshop for those at a distance. It was great to inspire so many people of all ages and stages including Bev, aged 72 who was able to learn from me even though she was in the Uk


Continuing with my creative theme I was also pretty prolific with my writing. in 2021 I released,

Cassie is a Giraffe

In December 2020, I wrote a new book, Cassie is a Giraffe and released it in 2021). I share my love of giraffes and how they led me to overcome fear, doubt, anxiety and shame—and how I started 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.

As I share on my blog, Does talk therapy actually work?

I have trained in  Interactive Drawing Therapy and 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 a word can powerfully access parts of the psyche we often repress, bringing unhelpful beliefs 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.


career combo

Stay ahead of career uncertainty. Turn your talents into multiple sources of income

Are you feeling flat? Despondent? Are you stressed or lacking energy? Are you stuck in dinosaur thinking—believing you can only earn a living by doing one thing? If so, you’ve come to the right place. It’s time to head in a fresh direction and regain vitality.

Midlife Career Combo will help you make a successful midlife career change. Short, practical, inspirational, and at times humorous, Midlife Career Combo will teach you everything you need to know to stay focused on your dreams, meet new challenges and take control of your life and career. This little book on a BIG topic packs a lot of wisdom.

Amazon bestselling author of Mid-Life Career Rescue, and How to Find Your Passion and PurposeCassandra Gaisford (BCA, Dip Psych) provides simple but powerful and easy to implement ways to find a job you’ll love and change careers to love life again.

Based on survey research, personal achievements and her professional expertise and success as a career and life coach helping people achieve outstanding results – including lawyers, teachers, back-to-work mums, accountants, tradespeople, and creative entrepreneurs – Gaisford answers the question: how do you make a career change in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.

In Midlife Career Combo, you’ll discover how:

  • A career combo provides real resilience
  • To discover and turn your talents and work-related strengths into multiple income streams
  • A career combo can cure many modern-day ills – depression, anxiety, stress, overwhelm and boredom
  • To find what lights you up
  • To get the job you want, change careers and earn a living doing what you love
  • Identifying your passion and purpose will lead to multiple sources of income
  • To be happy and successful
  • To boost your self-esteem and super-charge the confidence needed to make an inspired change 
  • Discover the best strategies for a midlife career change with fabulous results.

BONUS: How to Find Your Passion and Purpose eBook

Midlife Career Combo is packed with inspiring and practical information. Includes real-life experiences of people who have made a successful career change in their 40s,50s,60s and beyond.

If you’re like many people who still believe a career has to be one thing, this book will help provide the answers.

If you have been told it’s not realistic to work and live with passion and purpose, this book will help change your mindset.

If you’re too busy, too tired, too stressed out to read a lengthy book, this concise guide comes to your rescue.

Quit stressing and start really living!

Reader Reviews

This little book on a BIG topic that resonates with me packs a lot of wisdom that is worth investing time in. Cassandra challenges us to “Dare to Dream!” Take the time and make the effort to find the work you feel passionate about; You could read this in less than two hours and be on your way to sculpting out a new way of living if you’re not living your passionate lifestyle yet.”

“This excellent little book is quick to read but left me with much to think about and many practical steps to take to find my passion and incorporate it into my life. There are several free resources to download which increase the worth of this already very valuable book.”


I created this term many years ago, inspired by McDonald’s BigMac Combos and other hamburger bundles. Essentially, it’s a pick and mix approach to creating your career. Instead of fries with your main current breadwinning career, you might add a side-hustle.

I did this when I was fed up with the politics and lack of freedom and salary cap in my role as National Manager of Career Counselling for an EAP provider. I loved career counselling but I wanted to do things differently and I wanted to write books and I wanted to travel and not be stuck in a cubicle. So I started writing a column for the national newspaper, and I started my first company Worklife Solutions from the kitchen table and coached private clients during weekends.

Your career combo may have a very different kind of sauce. DJ Lemon, for example, is a barber by day. But a DJ by night.

If you’ve read my book, The Art of Success: Leonardo Da Vinci, or Coco Chanel, you’ll know that artists can teach all of us, no matter what your career trajectory so much about passion, perseverance and variety. Currently, my career combo includes writing romance novels as Mollie Mathews; creating healing art and writing self-empowerment books as Cassandra Gaisford.

Plus I am a life and career coach and I train other passionate purposeful people who would love a lifestyle career to become Certified Worklife Solutions Coaches too. 

These careers are all sandwiched between my love of empowering others, creating and sharing beauty, healing, hope and joy—and sending more love into the world, amongst other things.

I write more about career combos in, Midlife Career Combo. You’ll also find plenty to inspire you in Midlife Career Rescue. Or, as many of my clients have, after reading the book, you’ll come to me for individual guidance, encouragement and support

Midlife Career Combo: Combine Your Passions. Create Your Life’s Work




I also released: Play Dates: Insights and Inspiration to Spark and Sustain Your Creativity

As I share in the introduction:

“You don’t need to be an experienced artist to enjoy this book. I am self-taught all the way! Learning for yourself is one of the great joys and freedom of creativity. The University of Life has taken me a long way—winning prizes, selling work in galleries to important collectors;  solo and group exhibitions and making the finals in a prestigious portraiture award with my first-ever portrait; and learning the spiritual art of Sumi painting in Maui with internationally celebrated, New York-based Max Gimblett.

And, guess what? All the time I was playing. Experimenting. Trying things out. Just for fun! Joseph Campbell was right when he said, when you follow your bliss, doors open for you wouldn’t open for anyone else.

About 3 years into my painting journey…

…I remember thinking, “I’ve lost my mojo. My art isn’t speaking to me.”

The incessant comparing myself to others who had some kind of  “voice.” I just couldn’t express myself. In 2012 I won the Supreme Prize in a prestigious art award. I had a successful exhibition, selling several thousands of dollars of art. People loved the Sumi ink series but I KNEW there was something more inside me, something I wanted to articulate with my painting…something more purposeful and joyful.

I looked around the art world and found myself drawn to paintings that oozed fresh, fluid, fun energy. Paintings that were both mysterious and compelling. Paintings that told a story—without shouting or sharing their secrets. Paintings that intrigued, entranced and danced. Paintings that spoke to peoples hearts.

Fast forward another 8 years, I’ve held successful group and solo shows, explored a million possibilities, shipped my works to buyers across the globe, travelled the world teaching workshops, made a truckload of mistakes (or happy accidents).

I’ve shared my passion and purpose with students in person and online and honed my skills and passion as an artist and as a teacher whose burning desire is to have her students succeed in whatever way is right for them. 

In 2021 I opened my studio and my heart for the first time on Valentine’s Day weekend for play dates in my tiny gallery—Art@Rangitane and look who called in. The fabulous, talented and fun Celebrity Chef Jo Seagar—now also the proud owner of one of my abstracts, Love Story.

It’s been an exciting journey. None of it, absolutely nothing, zippo, ziltch would have happened if I hadn’t made the intention to play.

I am so looking forward to playing with you.

I’m excited to show you so many things!

Whether you are a beginner, experienced or a pro who has lost their flow, Play Dates will show you how to loosen up, let go of perfectionism and create art you and others will love. 

This book will help you take your art to the next level.”

Available in print and ebook from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08YDNCMHK

think pink


Do you struggle with staying positive in a seemingly toxic world? Do negative thoughts sometimes take a stranglehold on your mood? 

Think Pink doesn’t turn a blind eye to negativity, rather the strategies in this book will help you look for the silver linings, passion and purpose behind events, people and situations that appear as setbacks.

By consciously choosing to look on the bright side of life you will feel empowered and fly free of fearful, anxiety-producing thinking.

Pink is a colour of strength, love and peace. Think Pink and see the world anew. Set your intention on this day and forevermore not to think low.

Think Pink is a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about boosting resilience and mental health by Cassandra Gaisford:

Available in print and ebook from Amazon:

The Joyful Artist: Freeing the Artist Within

The Joyful Artist

Are you an established artist, a hobbyist, or someone fascinated by artists, their creative process and their lives? Whatever your motivation there’s something for everyone in The Joyful Artist.

In this book, award-wining artist, Reiki master and creativity coach Cassandra Gaisford (BCA, Dip Psych) shares insights into her creative process.

This book expands upon an interview that appeared in 2021 on 123art.Net where Cassandra was asked to share:

• How she started

• Some of the stories behind her popular artworks

• Real-life situations that sparked ideas

• The eclectic tools she uses 

• Her creative process

• How her art has evolved

• Memorable responses

• And what’s next on the horizon

You’ll see in the chapters which follow The Joyful Artist is divided into sections that explore her responses to questions she was asked.

Available in ebook and paperback from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09N29BJNJ

And a new Christmas-Themed Romance novel

Love All of Me

Under my pen name Mollie Mollie’s I released a new Christmas romance, Love All of Me.

After surviving a horrific accident Kate Miller is plagued by guilt.

Hiding both her mental and physical scars, she shuns love and escapes into work—finding meaning and purpose in running her global manuka honey empire.

Beautiful and smart, when Gianni Romano demands she sell the business to him, her passions are inflamed. How dare he think he can buy the only thing that gives her a reason to live?

Gianni Romano has ventured to New Zealand by the one thing he’d love to escape: family The Romano fortune and name has followed him wherever he goes. But that only made the headstrong Italian more determined to strike out on his own. Now he’s on the cusp of achieving world acclaim.

Only one woman stands in his way—Kate Miller and her refusal to submit to his demands. The spark they have is more than a Sicilian sunset, but when emotions run deep and lives are on the line, will mixing business with pleasure be the bedrock for a lifelong love? Or will it all explode like an angry volcano?

Love All of Me is a beautiful romance, brimming with the promise of a happily ever after. Set in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand—one of the most beautiful, unspoiled, sensuous places in the world.

If this is the first time you have read a Mollie Mathews love story, you can easily read each book as a standalone.

To enjoy your copy from Amazon, click here: 


Enjoy other full-length contemporary romances by Mollie Mathews: Sex With StrangersThe Italian Billionaire’s Scandalous MarriageThe Italian Billionaire’s Christmas BrideFlight of Passion and Claimed by The Sheikh

Excellent, you won’t put it down!

Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2021

A fast heartwarming read. You will find yourself longing for Kate and Gianni to heal and love, and heal together. I enjoyed their story and then enjoyed it, even more, when I learned that the idea derived from an actual natural disaster. I refuse to give spoilers so you’ll have to read it to find out! You won’t set it down…you’ll read straight through to the end!

Can they get beyond their pasts to a loving future?

Reviewed in the United States on December 15, 2021

I love this story from Mollie Matthews that gives another view into living by the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. Kate Miller is the sole survivor from her family of the volcanic eruption on Whakaari in the Bay of Islands in northern New Zealand. She has rebuilt her father’s beekeeping business for Manuka honey. She really runs into a reclusive Italian-New Zealander Gianni Romano. It seems there is instant heat, but the heat is more of distrust by Kate. Really, they both have issues they have been hiding that prevent moving forward. I hope you will enjoy this story of how the bees bring these two together despite serious mis-steps. Enjoy a break in a warmer setting! I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.


destiny the dragonfly

I am so honoured to be publishing Celeste’s book and writing this foreword. This is the first, in what I hope will be many, published works by new authors by my publishing company, Bleu Giraffe Publishing.

I first met Celeste when she approached me for help certifying as a Life Coach through my company Worklife Solutions. During the course of our sessions she shared with me her love of dragonflies. During the coaching we hit on the inspired idea to call her new business Dragonfly Coaching. 

As I write, Celeste and her young family of four children are in a Covid response government decreed lockdown in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. This is the third of many lockdowns in the last 18 months, but by far the longest. Three months and counting, six weeks out from Christmas.

Knowing her love of dragonflies, after she shared that she was feeling stressed and anxious and not sleeping  I encouraged her to use her wakefulness creatively and write a short story about a dragonfly. I had no idea if she what accept the challenge, and if she did, what she would write.

The minute I read Destiny is a Dragonfly, my heart did an exultant leap. It is only recently, that I learned of the added significance to Celeste of the title—I’ll let you share this in her own words in the Author’s note. Have some tissues handy!

When I first read Destiny is a Dragonfly, I loved it so much I knew I wanted to share it with others. Whatever your age or stage in life, whatever you are experiencing Destiny is a Dragonfly will touch your heart and remind you that no matter how small you may feel, how great the limitations imposed, big magic manifests from little things.

Read and listen more about Celeste’s personal reinvention story on Cassandra’s Vlog>>https://www.thejoyfulartist.co.nz/how-to-discover-your-destiny-in-15-minutes-or-less/


In October, 2021 I posted the following on our local FB pages:

“I’m super inspired to be helping out a fellow artist who was going to be exhibiting at Koast and she is now exhibiting her exquisite art sculptures at art@rangitane It’s the first time she has ever exhibited so bravo to Cathy.

Let’s show her some support…. my partner and I have purchased several of Cathy’s divine garden art. We just love the way they beautify the garden

I hope you enjoy Cathy’s bio and a few piccies ….all are for sale

Cathy Stougie, Artist

I have been living in Kerikeri since November 2019. I was raised in Okaihau in my earlier years so I am happy to be home in the North again.I started pottery about seven years ago, where I attended a class run by The Quarry Art Centre in Whangarei. Jane McCulla was our tutor. In this class there were some very experienced potters, some whom have their own studios and sold their work at various galleries throughout the country.

To everyone’s horror I had never touched clay before. My eldest son and daughter-in-law were married in 2016 and I wanted to produce some pottery lilies to display at their wedding. With advice from colleagues, I managed to produce some lilies I was proud of.

The lilies I am making today are an evolution of those very first lilies. I really love colour, texture and movement for the garden. I have also started making orbs and I have been experimenting with different glazes and textures, I feel they will always be evolving as well.

I am constantly learning and experimenting. I enjoy the sense of satisfaction and freedom pottery gives me to relax and to be creative. I have had to learn that things I make with clay don’t necessarily have to be perfectly formed.

“UPDATE: ALL THE FIRST 9 PIECES SOLD. Cathy is a first time artist and this is the first time she has exhibited her delightful garden sculptures. Thank you for your tremendous encouragement…she is so thrilled with the response.


Rachel Barber

In another first, I have absolutely adored my conversations with other artists, like Rachel Barber, who like many, lost her job during the Chinese Flu.

Rachel is now a full-time artist. Like me, she has set an intention to stay open to the joy of love and have fun!

“It was a really stressful time. It wasn’t meant to be a career flip…I just went back to my original passion.” 

Discover how losing everything overnight during an eight-week Covid lockdown forced this New Zealander to do what she had always loved. And how becoming a full-time artist was a happy and unplanned side-effect. 

Whether you are an aspiring artist or looking for the courage to make a midlife career change, I know you will enjoy this super inspiring interview with Rachel. At 30-years wise, Rachel shares her secrets of feel-good success.

We discuss why following your passion is the secret sauce to making a successful career change, how she absorbed herself in her joy to help manage worry and anxiety, and how sharing your work creates an unexpected and loyal market. It’s so important to listen to feedback, create what people want, while still maintaining your unique voice and infuse your work with fun and love. 


The Art of Life Inspiration Deck


2021 has been so stressful for many. It’s been pretty shocking to witness how so many are being marinated in fear by our leaders, politicians and media. Shocking doesn’t really even cut it. As one pensioner told me, “To know we are being lied to, our liberties and freedoms that others fought for are being eroded—it’s pretty depressing.”

I’m glad I followed Dr Joe Dispenza’s call to follow love, not fear. I’ve done my best to spread the love bug. And I’m happy to say, it’s pretty infectious! In a good way!


This year, I’ve been blessed with so many gorgeous clients who have entrusted me to help them move from sadness, stress and despair. It truly has been an honour to work with such courageous people. Why courageous? Because so many people lack the vulnerability and grit to not only reach out for help but also to act on guidance.

The other day I received the best news.

“Hi Cassandra. I hope you had a good Christmas and have plenty of adventures to look forward to in 2022.I was just reading your latest email and thought I’d update you on where things are at since we last spoke.

After a number of applications for jobs in the Learning and Development sector, I was successful in gaining a position as an IT trainer at NZDF in Upper Hutt. I worked for NZDF in USA/England back in 1997 – 2001 so it was a return to something I knew. It is working out really well so far.
With my new job I was able to make an offer on a house in Upper Hutt so I’m now the proud owner of a 2 BR townhouse in Trentham – just 15 minutes walk to work. Goodbye, long commute!
I wanted to thank you for your guidance and support which helped me turn the corner and progress towards what I wanted. 


“The launch into the wonderful world of audiobooks is something it’s been a total joy to share with you.” 

In 2020 I helped Naomi identify a new career path as an audiobook narrator and Naomi narrated my book, Midlife Career Rescue: Employ Yourself. I was thrilled when it was released this year!


Naomi Barton shared in her newsletter, “Well I didn’t promise you wouldn’t get spammed by my newsletters…so I guess you got lucky! 

Truth is, 2021 has been so sky-rocketingly busy (I just made up that term) and I’ve been recording, writing, moving house and getting through another year of global pandemic disruption amongst many other projects. So the newsletter hasn’t been very consistent!

But it’s the narrating of amazing books by amazing authors I want to acknowledge on Christmas Eve morning before I go and do anything else! 

Without these authors, I wouldn’t be doing what I love! And the launch into the wonderful world of audiobooks is something it’s been a total joy to share with you. 

Cassie Hart, Cassandra Gaisford, Anna Kirtlan, C.A Phipps, Alexa Rivers, Melissa Pearl, Donna Blaber, Kate O’Keefe, Darian Smith…YOU ALL ROCK! 

Thank you for trusting me with your amazing work, it’s been an absolute pleasure!”


A belated thank you

I also received a belated thank from a client I worked with from Canada two years ago. And am sharing this with permission.

“Hi Cassandra, 

It’s been a long time!  I’ve been meaning to email you after a friend sent me a pack of oracle cards. But as I’m terrible at email and never got to it, I thought I’d quickly send you a note on my phone after listening to something on tarots.

Back to the cards my friend set. I loved them! They were uplifting, not this dark underworld I imagined. So I wanted to apologize for suggesting you remove them from your website. It was my ignorance and Catholic upbringing 😬.

I also want to share a belated BIG thank you. I am now a certified coach and even have a website: 

! It’s a work in progress, like my coaching. I’m even more excited that my web developer is helping me launch my podcast!!!!!! Finally, I’m building my beautiful business, and your encouragement early on was instrumental. I’d love to have you on it one day, as it’s about soul-inspiring getaways for busy women professionals who need to replenish and reset. 

You are the one who suggested coaching and that got me moving forward. I wanted to thank you for that. I felt I offended you when I did not choose your coach training program so felt bad. But I really wanted to be part of a community as I missed having one in my life, and now have some wonderful new friends. 

I hope you are doing well. Your website looks amazing! I love how it ties all your passions and talents together. Your art is gorgeous. One day when I’m a great success in my business, whatever that may look like in the end, I hope to have one of your pieces. 

All my best, Angela “


Both my chosen charities, Women’s Refuge and Hospice NZ, are close to my heart. This year I have donated paintings and money to support these vital causes. Read more here: https://www.thejoyfulartist.co.nz/mission/


This video is about my inspirations, my love of colour and why I love creating commissions and the joy I gain from sending my love-inspired paintings out into the world. In this video, I share a variety of sources where I gain and share creative joy, passion and purpose. Thank you to Peter Heath for the outstanding video montage.


High-achieving, multi-tasker creates dramatic artworks


123 article
Available in ebook and paperback from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09N29BJNJ


Happy Holidays

My usual end of year, holiday email anticipates a whirl of family traditions after a busy year.  This year,  we planned for small, quiet and joyful.

We are in Code Red in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand—the highest alert level for Covid. It all seems so surreal. Everyone is wearing masks and feeling fearful.

I made a leap for freedom and joined my family in Wellington. You may have read one of my short love-inspired hometown romances set there, Twist of Fate.

It was so lovely to be back home. New Zealander’s haven’t been able to fly around much—and definitely not overseas (you can’t get back home because all the quarantine spots are booked.)

My daughter, Hannah, gifted me the most precious present—a Giraffe Experience at Wellington Zoo. If you’ve read Claimed by the Sheikh where the hero rescues giraffes and other endangered animals, you’ll know I have a soft spot for giraffes. And of course, Blue Giraffe Publishing is the name of my publishing company.

Pretty Gorgeous

me with Really Gorgeous

Reminds me of an iris in bloom” ~ Rachel Barber “Very Gretchen Albrecht.”

The painting above is another of my flow paintings…my biggest yet!

The inspiration for the name came quite simply from the first remark the fantastic framer I entrusted with stretching the raw canvas onto her final frame, Peter Sharp, said. As he unrolled the canvas from its roll, he grinned and said,  “pretty gorgeous!”

Do you agree? Is she pretty gorgeous?!💜💙

The joy of creating abstract paintings is the many meanings and beauty people find in them. This painting came from the landscapes of my mind…but I love that Rachel found a flower there.

Picasso once said, “a painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”

In this case, I was seeking freedom and liberation. Unable to travel freely my painting took me to places I have never been:)

We are all colours that are constantly changing, we evolve every day, we vary every minute, and it is fun to reflect why these expansive ‘flow’ paintings feel so different to me.

Because my mood is constantly changing, the colours I am drawn to are constantly evolving too. Gorgeously layered with a sensuously saturated palette of cerulean blue, tropical greens, radiant yellows, and flourishes of vibrant lavenders. Pretty Gorgeous embodies the new energy of flow, optimism, hope and renewal that our souls ache for after the tumultuous, confining time of Covid lockdowns.

“Great works of art, music, and architecture that calibrate between 600 and 700 can transport us temporarily to higher levels of consciousness and are universally recognized as inspirational and timeless,” Dr. David Hawkins

Pretty Gorgeous

270 x 150

A couple of final notes before I head back to work.  I’m pleased to share my 2022 publishing intentions.



This year has been tough for so many. A year-end thing I like to do is celebrate highlights (rather than dwell on lowlights) I hope you enjoyed this 2021 review and it inspired you, too.




Posted in: Blog

I Look Back And It Seems Surreal—2021 in Review

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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