Welcome to the Join Up Dots Podcast with Cassandra Smith
To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:
Introducing Cassandra Smith
Cassandra Smith is today’s guest on Join Up Dots, and is a lovely lady who has a wonderful mission in her life.
She wants to bring hope, passion and enthusiasm to those kids who feel that life is a place of darkness and where they have nothing in front of them but a certain and bleak future.
Through her first book Letters to God: Diary of an Unsilenced Generation, she raises awareness of the plight of hurting teens, the struggles they face, and how to promote hope in their young, often broken, lives.
And what makes this publication more powerful is that these are not all words that she has written herself, but Letters to God is a compilation of handwritten notes gathered at youth events around the nation.
These are true life tales of hurt and despair, which highlight the honest real life struggles that the youth of the world face.
How The Dots Joined Up For Cassandra
But its not just the darkness that these book has brought to the world, as within every chapter our guest brings her experience of tackling these issues head on, with great insight which has been widely praised across America.
A resource for friends, parents, family and the sufferers themselves.
So what was it that made our guest focus her attention and passions on a problem which is so wide spread and difficult to tackle?
And does she feel that her movement is just the start of something that ultimately will be bigger than herself and the others that follow her.
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show, to start joining up dots, with the one and only Cassandra Smith
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Cassandra Smith such as:
How she believes that most of the worlds troubles can be solved over two cups of teas, and a good conversation.
How she moved 21 times in her first fifteen years, and found the ability to connect easily she’s feels because of it.
How she believes that getting frustrated in your life is a key point to achieving stuff, and we should embrace that frustration and make it work for us.
How Starbucks and cha tea lattes became her haven in life, and allowed her to disconnect from life and connect with her inner voice.
How she has learned that her tagline to her life “is pointing to wholeness.”
Free Gift From Cassandra Smith
Letters to God: The Harder Stuff compilation addresses some of the more difficult themes that Cassandra found as she toured America, listening to the heart of teens as they shared their struggles.
A companion version to her book “Letters to God: Diary of an Unsilenced Generation” this book tackles not only issues–but how to get help for yourself or someone you love who is going through a challenging circumstance.
Letters to God: The Harder Stuff is FREE on Amazon’s Kindle February 20th-22nd http://www.amazon.com/dp/
How To Connect With Cassandra Smith
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here– enjoy
Full Transcription Of Cassandra Smith Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes, hello bear world Welcome again to Join Up Dots. This is Episode 299 of the global phenomena which is Join Up Dots of course with David Well, we’re coming to you from literally every country in the world. Well, that’s not true. But soon, soon, soon, that’ll be the case. And we’ll even get those those elusive listeners in Greenland. I don’t know what it is about Greenland. But I mentioned you all the time. You don’t listen to podcast at all. Well, let me introduce you to today’s guest. She is a lovely lady who has a wonderful mission in her life. She wants to bring hope passion and enthusiasm to those kids who feel that life is a place of darkness and where they have nothing in front of them but a certain and bleak future. For her first book letters to God the diary of an and silence generation, she raises awareness of the plight of hurting teens the struggles they face, and how to promote hope in their young, often broken lives. And what makes this publication more powerful is that these not all her words that she’s written herself. But letters to God is a compilation of handwritten notes gathered at youth events around the nation. These are true life tales of her and despair, which highlight the honest real life struggles that the youth of the world face today. But it’s not just the darkness that these books are brought to the world is within every chapter, our guest brings her experience of tackling these issues head on, with great insight, which has been widely praised across America a resource for friends, parents, family, and of course, the sufferers themselves. So what was it that might have guessed focus or attention and passions on a problem which is so widespread and of course Difficult to tackle and does she feel about her movement is just the start of something that ultimately will be bigger than herself and the others but follow her. Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Cassandra Smith. How are you Cassandra?
Cassandra Smith [2:15]
I’m doing wonderful. How are you doing?
David Ralph [2:18]
I’m always doing wonderful because as we were talking about we haven’t got snow but you’ve got loads of snow and it’s a bit chilly where you are.
Cassandra Smith [2:26]
It is it’s cold. I woke up this morning got ready and saw white everywhere was not prepared for that. So it was wonderful, but you know what, we’re doing good got ready to sporting, we’re smuggling, you know, all warm and toasty in my office got Campbell going so it’s a good morning. And when you say we’re snuggling with he’s not actually you and me we have to emphasise the fan. Yeah, no, no, no, I you know what, me and my candle. I love my candle. I love my beautiful office and hanging out where it’s warm and toasty.
David Ralph [2:59]
Yeah, it’s Just in case my wife is listening, she’ll be going on. What’s going on? Oh, I wouldn’t mind a snuggle. That would be a way to start the day with a snuggle with a strange new lady in my life.
Cassandra Smith [3:12]
I don’t know it might be kind of scary.
David Ralph [3:14]
Yeah, probably probably best not to go that way. So let’s find out whereabouts you are obviously you in America and you are Pennsylvania. I understand.
Cassandra Smith [3:25]
I am so it’s not as bad as Boston had 16 years now we’re just still dealing with, you know, cold every day, February.
David Ralph [3:33]
So so people that don’t really know Pennsylvania if we if we were going to go on a tour of and I know it quite well, actually because I’ve sort of driven through this sort of numerous times. What What is it to draw people into Pennsylvania? What is the thing that really sort of is the selling point of that whole state?
Cassandra Smith [3:51]
Ah, that’s a great question. I don’t know how to answer but, you know, a lot of people say that this got a lot of like old fashioned charm and A little bit slower and pace, I actually live really close to the Amish, which is a group of a community that doesn’t believe in using electronics and they have horse drawn buggies and that, you know, they’re cool. Do your thing. I really liked the car, and I really like my electronics. So I don’t know. But you know, it just teaches you to slow down pay attention that relationships matter more than the next new technology, you know, bad or whatever.
David Ralph [4:29]
So So do you have an urge to bang up a bone every every day? The that’s the only thing I miss from that film when they were doing something.
Cassandra Smith [4:39]
Now, I think I would be terrible with a hammer. But I’ve seen them do it. And so you know, I’d be mad props to you. They’re hard working people. Yeah, it’s just it’s quaint. It’s a little bit quieter. I live on dirt roads, and an old farmhouse. So it’s cool to different, different pace.
David Ralph [4:59]
So So Let’s sort of phrase one of the things that you said that it was quite interesting. But you feel that the slower pace allows you to build up relationships and sort of reflect and it’s that being so not out of touch, but just on a lower level of intensity, but is important to you. Do you think that is important to you personally? Or is that something that the world could do with but we’re not where we’re so focused on the next text message that comes through in the email and Facebook and balancing all these things? Is it nice to be able to go now? Come on, guys, let’s focus on the things that are important more than trying to do everything at once.
Cassandra Smith [5:38]
Oh, yeah, absolutely. One of my one of my mottos or sayings all the time, and I think most of the world’s problems can be solved with two cups of tea, One for you and one for me, and we’re just hanging out and talking through it. And you know, text messages and technology and the latest greatest app is not going to fix stuff it when you invest in one another’s lives when you’re listening to one another. That’s what builds That, you know, trust and care and kindness. Those are the things that really matter in life.
David Ralph [6:05]
So So how did you get involved in the sort of the youth movement? Obviously, you’re still a young lady. So that’s sort of obvious, but I know so many people that have a certain age are looking at careers in corporate land and and the season but how have you kind of gone full circle and remained in that environment, but you would have gone through yourself?
Cassandra Smith [6:29]
Right, you know, I think
we all are shaped by our younger days. And no matter whether we realise it, reflect on it or not, and I had a very interesting childhood, I moved 21 times before I was 16. And so I learned to value relationships and value. You know, the people that speak into your life even after you made the next move. And I you know, I had kind of a rougher go at my teen years. I identify with a lot of the struggles that kids face. And from a young age it’s a it’s about 17 1819 I realised you know what i want to pay attention to what students are saying because I was them just a couple of years ago. And so I did a lot of volunteer work with junior high students at my church and through some youth organisations, and realise, you know what, there’s something here for me, I want to always pay attention. I want to listen, I want to learn, because even you know, even when I was about 17 1819, I realised there’s a lot of struggles that are out there. Maybe I can help someone that was like I was a couple years ago.
David Ralph [7:46]
And so so what were your struggles because I went through teenage life, obviously, I’m 44 years old now. So I went through it. I don’t remember it being a struggle at all. I don’t really remember it always just kind of happened and I breezed from come out the other end. So what are the issues that you’re talking about?
Cassandra Smith [8:05]
Oh, for me personally, I just kind of lost myself along the way. I wasn’t sure what the point to life was. I didn’t, you know, I had some family struggles, and I didn’t always know if it was worth it to trust or not. And for me, I internalise things, I think, I believe that if there were problems going on around me, it was my fault. And that led me down the road to clinical depression and wondering if life was worth it or not having a lot of dark thoughts. And that, you know, just lived in that for almost two years. And that’s just not a good way to live. That’s not a good way to live when you’re forming your identity and you’re trying to figure out yourself as a young woman, and you know, how do I want to go into dating relationships but you don’t even value yourself? And it was really a couple of Women in my church that looked out for me and checked in on me and said, Hey, how are you doing and let’s talk and let’s go shopping hang out at my house will be cooking dinner like it was just normal. And it was a another relationship where someone was investing in me in and gave me the time when I was ready to share the deeper things, and then I was ready to listen to them as well. And I just, you know, what realise that
Unknown Speaker [9:28]
Cassandra Smith [9:30]
stuff is going to fade. I’m going to come out stronger, there is hope. And I didn’t always have to be this dark. So it was a long process for me, but I learned a lot about myself in it. Did
David Ralph [9:43]
you think those thoughts were formed by you know, moving 21 times in 15 years, or by the time you were 15? You probably heard me gasp slightly. A little bit. Yeah, I’ve moved. I’m trying to think I’ve lived in three houses in my life. And I think And that’s it. And I pretty much stayed in the same area as well. But there hasn’t been a great deal of movement around. Do you think that a lot of bows, those faults or dark faults were formed by you? Pretty much having to reinvent yourself, when you come into a new town, you’re busy making relationships, you’re busy trying to connect with people. And it’s not like you’re, you’re nurturing one but naturally developed, you’ve really got to come in and sort of go, I’m Cassandra, I’m the new girl in town, be my friend, I suppose. And what was that a struggle? Or do you think that led you on to where you you got to?
Cassandra Smith [10:33]
I think it was a blessing and a curse. And you got to learn to see both sides, I think, you know, on the negative side is it showed me that life can be unstable, and things can change quickly. And that’s, you know, can be a little bit unnerving for a young kid. But at the same time, I really valued the connections when I had them. Even though I did have you know, that many addresses a lot of time. It was still in somewhat of the same area. And I was very connected to my church and very connected to volunteering and, you know, being involved in a lot like kids programmes. And so I clung to that and I clung to the communities when I had them. And I think I grew stronger because of that. And also think I grew stronger because I was able to adapt quickly. And that’s really helped me even in my adult life and learning. How do I approach a new relationship? How do I approach new business partnership? How do I approach you know, I mentor a lot now how do I approach a new student that I mentoring and I can figure things out really quickly. So I don’t know if that was really what led me to some of my struggles. There were a couple of personal issues that happened in my family that I think maybe kicked off some of the darker things for me. But yeah, like I said, Every, every situation comes a blessing and a curse. And even some stuff that happened with my family, a lot of good and Come out of it. So it’s cool.
David Ralph [12:02]
Well, it’s cool, isn’t it? And that’s what we find time and time again on Join Up Dots that the things that are difficult, the things that are troublesome at the time and I might be the worst things that you’ve ever been through. When you look back on them, you kind of go, Wow, they weren’t actually that bad looking back and I wouldn’t be here without them. But more often than not, those dark dots as we call them, become the positive stepping stones to something good.
Unknown Speaker [12:29]
David Ralph [12:31]
It’s fascinating, isn’t it, but you can look back on your life we’ve such different eyes in such a short period of time. It doesn’t even have to be like years and years and years it can be within months you can look back and go thank God for that. I know it was dreadful, but thank God it’s fascinating how your your body and your your spirit can move to something different so quickly.
Unknown Speaker [12:54]
David Ralph [12:56]
So where are you getting all your stories from? foam, you’re bored. Let’s talk about that. First of all, so your book letters to God diary of an unsilent generation I mentioned that you, you went to youth events around the nation, but I can’t imagine you went there. And you said to people, like, just just jot down your life stories. And then they
Unknown Speaker [13:18]
tell me your deepest, darkest fears. Yeah. No, no.
David Ralph [13:22]
So So how did that happen?
Cassandra Smith [13:24]
Sure. I like I said, growing up, I was really interested in volunteering and youth movements and being where young people were to see if I can make a difference. And so I ended up touring. I lived on a tour bus for a couple of years. And every weekend we would put on these youth conferences, they’d have anywhere from two to 32,000 high school students in attendance, and each weekend we talked to them about you know, God loves you, there’s a purpose for your life. There’s hope for you. Sometimes we address family issues or guy girl issues, you know, Typical teen culture. And the one year is about four or five years ago, I’d actually stayed within this organisation for about 10 years, it had become their road manager. So now I was actually leading a production crew of college interns and I didn’t have a production job was just there to make sure that the show would go on for them.
Unknown Speaker [14:23]
And the one year
Cassandra Smith [14:26]
during the event one of the speakers shared about life about hope and how God is every government listen to you and he offered to the students that we’re attending. If you want to write down your letter to God your thoughts if you need to unburden yourself if you need to let something go do it like we’ve provided either these pieces of paper and we’re just gonna let you have a moment where you can get a loan with with God because He can help even more than we can. Well actually didn’t know about this when when it was happening. we’re so focused on the production crew. I didn’t know about a lot of the content for the weekend material. One day as our first event, I had been backstage working, organising a lot of details and I walked out into the arena bowl, and all around me. The students have left. The event had ended students left and all around on the floor with these little pieces of paper. I didn’t know what was happening and it was going on. And I picked one up and it said, Dear God, please help me. I’ve been abused for four years and my mom doesn’t want me. And it was a shocking moment. I’m like, why is this on the ground? What is happening? I don’t understand and I picked up another one Dear God, my dad is in jail because another one Dear God, please help me. You know, this guy just left me and my heart is broken. And again and again. I’m picking up these letters going What happened? With a shocking moment I turned to Another manager at the event ionis here like did we asked for these What’s going on? He said, No. The kids left them. We don’t know why, but they just left him on the ground. So here are these like really vulnerable confession laying on the ground. And if you know if you’ve been there, if you’ve been to an event, a basketball game, a cricket game, anything in a stadium a concert, what happens afterwards, people lose their chunk, right? But they don’t leave that
David Ralph [16:30]
stuff did I
Cassandra Smith [16:31]
know but there’s like, empty, you know, coke cans and Nacho trays and popcorn, trays and whatever. And here, there’s all of that junk, too. But there’s all these monitors. So I was like, really protective. I don’t know. It just piqued my curiosity and I, I went through and I picked up maybe 100 letters that night. I’ll go to our next event. Same thing happens our next event Same thing happens until it became my routine throughout this nine months. to go out and look through these letters, I just thought they’re really precious. And like I mentioned earlier, I think identify a lot of this. Now, maybe not all of their stories, but do identify with someone else who’s hurting when you remember that you would hurt once, right? And so I just picked them up routinely. And I didn’t know for years what I was going to do with them. But at the end of tour, I had 4000 letters, and they they call to me, they just I couldn’t just keep them in the box that was in my room.
David Ralph [17:29]
It was fascinating, isn’t it, but but there’s so many things, but I want to jump in on number one kind of why why would I leave them behind? That just seems bizarre to me that you write something so personal, and you would just leave it on the floor. I don’t get that but I don’t
Cassandra Smith [17:47]
either. I don’t know if it was like an unburdening or, you know, wanting to actually say it and leave it or abandon it, or they were just kids and just left them. I don’t know. But it
unanswerable to me, even to this day.
David Ralph [18:02]
Yeah, no, absolutely. And the other thing is, what is similar themes? When I saw that? There was there was themes that you saw time and time again.
Cassandra Smith [18:13]
Absolutely. And as I, as I collected them, those themes started to come out more and more and more. And that that really was the issue that that made me want to write a book to address those themes that were becoming so prevalent.
David Ralph [18:29]
And give us an idea of it. So that the parents out there we may be young children, and the kids are going to start going into the age that we’re talking about, or even the people that have got siblings and friends that are in that age. Give us an idea of what is the common themes that is on the mind of teenagers nowadays.
Cassandra Smith [18:50]
Sure, identified about 18 of them and I won’t I won’t share all of them but the most common ones were guy girl issues. You does he like me? Does he Does he not broken hearts and all those wonderful teenage angst, stuff that makes those years wonderful? Sadly, there was a predominant amount of abuse stories and you know, just that longing for help, and what do I do and I’m just hurting and I don’t know where to go. And with that comes depression and a lot of self harm was shockingly prevalent. And the number one, which I didn’t quite imagine, I don’t think I could have forecast this but the number one letter that I received by volume was your God helped me I’m addicted. And some of that was dealing with stuff that they were seeing on their, their computers, their phones, and some of it was you know, drug use or alcohol use, but this longing to be free of addictions was so common. It really took me back
David Ralph [19:59]
intriguing, that actually isn’t a bad. When you say addiction, your mind instantly goes to sort of drug and alcohol and kind of sex. But you start off with computer addiction, the fact that you’re constantly looking at Facebook, you’re constantly texting your phone, and it’s Mike, my kids, and I can see that addiction. And I can see, but my daughter is nine years old, and she got an iPad for Christmas. And she literally will walk out of the bedroom on it. And she’s talking to her friends on FaceTime or whatever it’s called. And when you go to take it away from her, it’s like that you’re taking away Maybe her favourite toy at one stage, but she’s moved on from that. And it’s that connectivity, it is that addiction, isn’t it and we all struggle with it. It doesn’t matter who you are. It’s very difficult when something beeps and you think, Oh, what’s that and you jump onto it? Do you need to check Facebook every day? Do you need to check emails and all that kind of stuff, but we do. So that’s intriguing, isn’t it?
Cassandra Smith [20:58]
Right there. stories were about the negative things that they were seeing their from their computers, and that they felt a lot of shame or guilt over that and they just didn’t want that to be a part of their lives.
David Ralph [21:11]
And we told him when these these beams were across America were baby white,
Cassandra Smith [21:18]
America and Canada. We did do a Canadian event. But yes, it is. It is only America that I’m focusing in on but I think a lot of these are very, like worldwide struggles. They’re very human. They’re very common to growing up. So I don’t know. I would be interested to see what the letters would be in other countries. I would love to find out how kids would relate in, you know, the UK and Europe and South America. And imagine that they’re going to be very similar. Something that I noticed even though I was on the road is in different towns. Across America, like different cities, West Coast, East Coast more south, there are different prevailing themes for certain city areas.
Unknown Speaker [22:08]
Cassandra Smith [22:09]
I noticed, like in Chicago that those kids seem to struggle the most. I mean, those were a lot of the times and you know, it’s hard. I don’t want to ever typecast a city, but I just remember, those were the most gut wrenching such as you know, Dear God, I, my parents are in jail, or I am addicted to cocaine or they just grabbed at me more and seemed a little bit more real. And I just always remember that and didn’t understand why. Maybe it was just a fluke. I would have to go back and research from city to city but I do remember them being very different.
As far as what issue was more common and what areas I would love
to find out more from students across the UK and across the world.
David Ralph [22:59]
Well, if you listen interbase and you have got an issue in your life and got to be there hope you don’t. But if you do, and you want to share it, then please we’ll have all the links to Cassandra on the show knows we’re talking about it at the end of the show, but but drop her line and share your issues. Because basically, there’s no getting away from it. This will be a global problem. And it doesn’t matter what country you’re in. Growing up is probably the hardest time in your life. Although as I say I breezed through it. I can’t say that I struggled at all, but I know so many people do. And it is that I suppose it’s that loss of identity somehow, isn’t it? And it’s that’s trying to prove yourself when you see other people who seem to be naturally good at stuff. And they might be naturally good at education or they might be naturally good at sport or whatever. But the majority of people don’t seem to have that they seem to be in the middle somewhere. And that’s that’s the difficult bit, isn’t it? Where they haven’t got anything that I can say yes, I’m a I’m an amazing basketball player, and I’m an amazing Student I’m just kind of normal, really? And is the average that is the killer.
Cassandra Smith [24:05]
Yeah. And and that was one of the undercurrent, like the undertones of a lot of these letters was I need guidance. I need direction help me figure out who I am. I’m struggling with this. And it’s my identity. But I don’t want to be this. I don’t want to become this one issue. Yeah, I think we all struggle with it. I mean, identity is everything and your identity can be formed by so much, especially in today’s culture, like you mentioned, your daughter, you know, feeling that connectivity. I think a lot of teenagers feel that identity is in the social world in the online world, and how can I present myself the best but then you can present yourself one way online, but you’re human in person, and there’s that gap between it I don’t always know if young people know how to measure between that gap and realise it’s okay. You’re human. And that’s all right.
David Ralph [24:58]
Well, we all human up man. One of the Things that I see time and time again and I mentor people through the show is that people don’t quite grasp the fact that they should be themselves. They don’t quite grasp by their true talent, their true blessings, they’re, they’re God’s gift or whatever you want to call them are when by a being of themselves, and they’re striving to keep up with somebody that looks like they’re having a great time, or they’re striving to go out their dreams, but other people’s dreams, and they might be seeing these businessmen doing amazing stuff, and I go, that’s what I want to do. But when you get into the nuts and bolts of it, they actually realised that I thought it was what I wanted to do, but actually, I was going after it because I thought that’s what other people wanted.
Unknown Speaker [25:44]
Cassandra Smith [25:46]
It takes time to figure out what you want it to figure out time to figure out exactly how to go after that. But you know what, just starting on the small right where you are, that’s that’s what’s amazing. Just going for it and making that difference with one person. I mean, there’s so many times even with like the letters that I found, I wished I could have found one kid that actually matched their letter and say, Oh my goodness, let me talk to you let me help you. But those didn’t happen for me because they were all anonymous and left after the kids have left but
David Ralph [26:23]
I bet I bet if you if you pay me if you put more on line, and I know they’ve anonymous but you put them all online and use have said if anybody reads one of these and recognises it as their own, contact me. I bet you could do that Cassandra.
Cassandra Smith [26:38]
Okay, I you know what I really wanted to protect the letters that I did find and so I
David Ralph [26:45]
put you put them in the book.
Cassandra Smith [26:47]
I did put them in a book, but actually
I took out any identifying information, and I also changed the handwriting slightly so that just to make sure that if someone wanted to keep that person private moment that they had when they were, you know, praying and talking to God and sharing their story that it was still protected by enemity, even though I am sharing their story, because and here’s what I think it’s important to share their story, because it is so human. And because they had the guts to share about their story, and I think that’s powerful. We’re told, you know, don’t be human be be that plastic perfect. But what I love about finding these letters is the fact that, no, we’re being honest, because you have to start with openness and vulnerability in order to get help. I just wanted to show that to other people.
David Ralph [27:37]
I don’t get your point on this. So but yes, I understand, you know, keeping them private as such. But if you put my story online, for example, and you changed my name, and I started reading it, even though it mentioned nothing about me, I would know that I wrote that I would lead it and thing Yes, I remember this. I remember this and it is says nothing about me. But that is my story. So and
Cassandra Smith [28:03]
if that ever happened, I would love like, I would love to encourage and help that person. If they ever felt uncomfortable with that letter being there, I would take it out of the book. But they are. So they’re very broad, and they’re very applicable to hundreds, not thousands of people. Because the stories are just very simple. So I’m hoping that lots of people can identify instead of just reading one very nitty gritty detail of one person.
David Ralph [28:31]
Yeah, I can see that as well. I’m going to play some words now that it’s more focused at yourself, because what you’re doing you are going on a path that is uniquely you. And ultimately, it might be a difficult path, but you know that it’s something that you’ve got to do. This is Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey [28:49]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years was old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [29:16]
Now, have you taking a chance on doing what you love? Or is this a calling that has selected you?
Cassandra Smith [29:24]
Oh, that is a great question. I asked myself that a lot. You know, I think I had to select parts of it. I had to choose a lot of risk. It’s not easy writing a book. It’s not easy publishing a book. But similar to that sound clip. I made the decision that these stories were worth it enough that if I failed, I failed. But I had to try to let them be a voice of hope to other people.
David Ralph [29:53]
And Have you always been a Trier? Have you always gone out on a limb or was this like the first time that really concerns Dress stood up and said, I’m going to do this mean,
Cassandra Smith [30:03]
I think this is the first time that I fought for it the hardest. I would say I’ve been that kid that always risked and wanted to try things if I really believed in it. But here’s the the the weird part about that is, even when I really want to go after something, I do find myself often in wondering, do I actually have what it takes? And so I might have belief in the project or belief in the risk or belief in the thing I want to do. But I’m human. And I doubt myself that I have the the courage and the confidence to go through with it and get myself to the endpoint.
David Ralph [30:41]
Everyone who don’t know that that’s, yeah, that is the amazing thing. If you listen to any of these episodes, and we’re coming up to like 300 years tomorrow. Literally every single show pretty much is based around the fact of Look, I started doing this thing. I had no idea how I was going to do it. It seemed too big for me, I was really scared. But I just kind of kept on doing stuff and then kind of got fail, and it just seems to be bad. And so that initial starting point, that is the scary bit, and that that is really the theme of the show. And that is what goes out to the listeners. And that’s why I get so many emails from people saying, I feel like I want to do something. I don’t know what I want to do yet, but I want to do more of it. I’m doing I just haven’t found my, my passion, my, my focus or whatever. But I was in a pub last night, funnily enough, and it’s lucky that we’re recording about lunchtime because I wouldn’t have been fit for it at nine o’clock this morning. I was I was a bit worse for wear, to be honest. And I was talking to my friend I used to work with and we were talking about business opportunities, but he could create and stuff. And he was kept he kept on sort of saying to me, yeah, yeah, no, I can see that. But But surely other people are doing it, or Yeah, yeah, I can see that. But you know, and it was always a sort of, yeah, there’s a get out clause to it and I said to him, everybody has that get out clause, but the people that screw it up and leave it in a drawer and go after it are the ones that will succeed. The ones that actually look at that get out clause and sign their name underneath it, are the ones that will stay in the same position for the rest of their lives.
Cassandra Smith [32:19]
I think you’re off to wrestle with it and just stay with it until you see some sort of success and refuse to give up. And when I think when you really believe in something, when you can see a purpose to all of your risk. You know, you you want to wrestle with it to make it make it fly. You just want to see that that passion, go for it. You know something I say to young people all the time is be frustrated, and they get kind of mad at me when I say that I’m like no be frustrated. If you can hold on to that frustration, if you can hold on to that thing that just doesn’t sit well with you. That is motivating you to make a difference. You’re going to make it you’re going to see that dream come to reality. It might look different than you originally pictured. But you’re going to see it because you sat with your frustration and it, it kept you going and motivated, even when it didn’t happen the way you originally hoped.
David Ralph [33:18]
Did you get frustrated? Or do you get angry? Because I actually, I have moments when I kind of being, especially in the early days of doing a show, and it just wasn’t going anywhere. Ah, what’s the point of this? And I could actually feel myself getting angry where I think, right, come on, well, I’m going to get this going. And I used to force myself to do it just because I don’t know if I was angry with the world for not listening or I was angry with myself but giving up I don’t know what it was. But it certainly there was more frustration is more than frustration. It was anger. I go.
Cassandra Smith [33:51]
I think I go the other way. I think there’s two extremes in life. There’s either angry or there’s like sorrow and getting upset and I am totally The girl that cries and I cry. Like, I just want to do this. What does it matter like trying to help the world, they’re rejecting me like I just cry. And so I think frustrated at the issue like frustrated that there’s kids that feel alone frustrated, there’s kids that are struggling with self harm and identity and abuse, like that’s not right, that makes me angry. But also makes me really frustrated and want to, like, do everything that I can to say, No, you’re worth more than this. But along the way, I cry a lot, especially when you know, you get rejected from the publishing offer or your computer crashes and you lose your book not once, but four times, or you know, those kinds of things. But you push through.
David Ralph [34:45]
Have you not heard of backing things up?
Cassandra Smith [34:48]
No, I have, and I did, but let me tell you what, everything in the world went wrong. Did this book so I actually did have to do it over from scratch four times.
David Ralph [34:59]
Did you Have you? I haven’t actually read the book. But but do you have your own story in there? Is there? Are you in the mix somewhere?
Cassandra Smith [35:07]
No, well, I’m in the mix as far as like addressing at the end of each chapter, things that I thought of. And one of the chapters is called hitting home. And it’s like how to deal with the hard stuff that might be going on in your own family. And I shared some of my story in there. And but I did write one letter, and I put it in the back and put in the acknowledgments. I wrote my own letter to God. And it was very unlike the other letters, but just, you know, it was at the end of the book, and I put it in kind of last minute and just said, you know, like, Dear God, thank you for letting me do this. Thank you for not leaving me alone when I could have written some of these letters. And thank you for letting actually write the book. So yeah, in my own way, I wrote my own letter, but a little bit different than everybody else’s.
David Ralph [35:54]
What I love about this is you’re tackling something, but you’re absolutely right. When you think about it, what difference is Cassandra gonna make to the world? What What difference and this is such a global problem? This is such a global issue. Cassandra is not gonna make any difference at all. But yes, you are. If you make a difference to that one person, but you’ve made the difference, but so many people would sit there at the beginning going, this is too big for me. I can’t do this. What’s the point in doing this? But you went through it? And that’s that’s key, isn’t it?
Cassandra Smith [36:30]
Yeah. And it was a huge process. And I actually I think I grew up a lot through it. When I when I first the idea for the book came to me.
When I was sitting in my room tour had ended I had left that organisation, I missed being on the road, I missed meeting kids. And I sat down, and I should have known better because I cry a lot, but I didn’t think and I actually read The entire box of letters in about a one week period of time, that was a bad idea. Because I was just so overwhelmed. But I think that happens to a lot of people. When you do start to hear whatever it is, whatever your passion is, or that things that you that makes you frustrated, you want to go make a difference in the world. It is an overwhelming text to figure out like, Okay, how do I address this is usually that problem is going to be way bigger than you no matter what it is. So I actually had a totally different idea. At first I wanted to write back letters individually and put them in a book. But I realised that wasn’t going to work because I was way too overwhelmed to actually dive into every single story individually and think I had the answer. I don’t have the answer. And I was 28 years old thinking I want to have the answer, but I don’t. But I realised what I did have is the ability to go find other people who did have the answer. And so actually created a really long resource guides about 30 or 40 pages at the back of the book. I gathered, okay, who are the best voices that deal with abuse? Who are the best people out there, I think promote the most hope and young people’s lives, if they are facing a tough home situation, or, you know, a broken heart, or they’re dealing with addiction, because I don’t know how to address this professionally, but I can find the people who do if I can point these people, these students to identifying with these letters to those people, my job is done. I’ve done a good job. So that was my answer is fine. You know, finding friends who backup your purpose and making it a team effort, I think makes the movement go farther.
David Ralph [38:41]
I think that is brilliant. And that is a nugget of gold, which is so key to so many things. When you are starting to get that idea of doing something more often than not, you are frightened by the amount of work or the amount of knowledge you have to build out. But there’s people with that knowledge already. If it’s something like, you know, building a website, for example, people don’t want to know how to build a website. People know how to build website, get them to do it for you. And the fact that you went and when, right, okay, I don’t know, the actual issue here and I don’t know how to deal with the issue. I’m going to find out I’m going to channel man knowledge into the book, but it’s just brilliant, isn’t it? And that’s, that’s a game changer, that we’ve all got that ability to reach out to people and say, I’m doing this, could you help me?
Cassandra Smith [39:30]
And that that was my goal, because like I said, way too overwhelming and maybe cry a lot. But there’s some great voices out there who can provide that help? So yeah, I just compiled their websites, their YouTube videos, their organisation links and put in the back and hope that students can find it. Young people can find it and get what they need, because they deserve that they really do.
David Ralph [39:54]
Well, when did you come up with that idea? As I say that’s brilliant.
Cassandra Smith [39:58]
When I was crying
Letters thinking What do I do? Because it really did overwhelm me and I started to realise maybe I need to go back to school to figure out how to address all these issues and I don’t know and I think it was just organic and slow and I realised You know what, maybe, maybe I don’t know how to help that kid that’s, you know, in a, in a verbally abusive relationship, but I remember this one article I read online and or wait, there was that organisation that did that and I just started to compile them and realise this is going to be a better solution if I can just list some trusted voices and some great people are doing some great things and, and create this resource guides. I don’t I don’t really remember the one moment I think it was just this realisation of there’s no way I have the credibility to tackle such wide amounts of problems. I am not the Saviour of the world. Like I am not that person. But there are other people that have some really good knowledge and really good hearts to to help better than I can. And this does it fascinate
David Ralph [40:59]
You bet there might be somebody out there now doing their own project and they look around and I see Cassandra Smith and I go, I’m gonna reach out to her. She’s got the knowledge so you become somebody else’s expert, don’t you?
Cassandra Smith [41:12]
Yeah, I, I’ve learned, you know, when you when you write a book when you do marketing, publicity, writing anything like that you learn branding, and that you have to kind of figure out who you are and what your tagline is. So, PS, it’s a lot of internal soul work. So be prepared for that. Here. We’re doing it. But I’ve learned that my my tagline really is pointing to wholeness. I’m not the answer. But if I can point you to it, I’ve done my job. And if I can point you to have to be a whole individual emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, physically, if there’s stuff going on refeel brokenness, but I can point you to that wholeness. We’re doing good. So yeah, there’s people listening and you’re thinking, Man, I got a lot going on in my life, man, like, let’s connect Let’s hang out, because I would love to point To that wholeness,
David Ralph [42:01]
I’m going to play some words from a lady who is very well known across the world. And she talks quite eloquently about that moment when you think I haven’t got a clue how to do this. It’s too big for me. What was my next step? This is Oprah Winfrey,
Oprah Winfrey [42:17]
the way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this stuff. What is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move, and the next right move and not to be overwhelmed by it because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment. You know, you’re not defined by what somebody says is a failure for you because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [42:48]
Now, if you listen back to the earliest shows, probably up to about 200 plus of Join Up Dots. That speech wasn’t on it, but when I heard it, I thought that is a game changer, but is The ability to actually start creating and that will help so many people do you do buy into what she’s saying, but it’s that that quiet voice but really know the way that you should be going?
Cassandra Smith [43:12]
Absolutely. I mean, you have to
the world is busy. You can get hundreds of emails, texts, phone calls, messages, advertisements come by every single day. And if you’ve got that passion, you’ve got that idea. You’ve got that thing that you want to do in life. It can be curbed by all those voices, right? I mean, everyone wants a piece of you in the advertising world, and friends and family have their own ideas of, of you and a lot of them’s positive but some of them may not be and who knows your your ideas could go in 1000 different ways. But at the end of the day, if God’s giving you a gift, and there’s something that you’re supposed to do in life that he wants you to do, this is what I found. I need to get away from all those voices. Find some Quiet Time, find somewhere where I can just listen. Okay, tell me what the next step is, what do I need to do? And I definitely did that. Like I said, I came off the road, and my whole life was whirlwind and I had to sit somewhere very still. And so as human as it is, I went to Starbucks a lot. I drink a lot of chai tea, I really did like Starbucks became my Haven, hung out with a lot of chai tea lattes, and just journaled a lot and listen, okay, what, what is that next first step? And for me, it wasn’t me to write a book and I’m going to publish, you know, with a huge agency is going to be great. It was okay, I need to sit and read through all these letters. And then it was okay. I need to put these letters into categories. What are the themes that it was? Okay, well, if I were to talk back to each of these themes, what would that be? Well, now I’ve got chapters. I had, you know, their voices and then my voice and then It became Well, can I get them professional help? Now? I can’t. Okay, well, now I’m going to do research and find all these organisations and, and affiliates that that can Okay, now I’ve got to compile that. Okay, now I’ve got a manuscript Okay, now what does it look like now how to actually put it into, you know, an Adobe Creative Suite where I can publish a book and let me tell you why it was frustrating as a whole to get out. Because half the time I didn’t know how to do the next thing, I did not have the technical skill to do the next part. So then it was okay, now I’ve got to get on YouTube and learn and now go to Google and learn my next thing. And it was a huge learning process. I feel like I got a whole nother
Unknown Speaker [45:43]
Cassandra Smith [45:46]
publishing because I had to learn how to even put a book together. Most publishing agencies told me that this book was impossible. I actually did shop it around for a while and they said, No, you can’t actually put handwritten letters in a book. printing presses can’t handle it. Well, that was sad. And that was a bad day. But I had to figure out okay, well, if you won’t do it for me, how do I publish on my own? And how do I make it look professional? And I failed a couple times. That’s the four books, but we got it done.
Yeah, it was that quiet space. What is the next step? Do I have the guts to pursue it?
David Ralph [46:24]
And when back when you look back on it now, was it was it as hard looking back as it was going forward? Because I find with most things that I do, the heartbeat is going into it. And then when I look over my shoulder and see what I’ve achieved that kind of thing, actually, I don’t think that was as hard as I thought it was going to be. It was just time and effort.
Cassandra Smith [46:46]
I think now, I see that the hard was worth it. But I still remember it being really hard.
It really was it. It kind of became an all consuming project for about a year and a half. I set aside some of my own
life goals for a little bit and just pursue the book. And so I got frustrated that I had to dedicate so much time to something that wasn’t working. And that people kept saying it’s it’s not possible, like it is actually physically impossible to do the thing that you’re trying to do. And so it was I think it was an emotional struggle for me more
Unknown Speaker [47:21]
Well, why did you ignore it? Then?
David Ralph [47:22]
Why did you ignore them? when when when you’ve got so many people saying now it’s not gonna work? Why did you keep doing
Unknown Speaker [47:29]
you know what, there was something in me that just
Cassandra Smith [47:34]
said, I don’t care. These stories are worth telling. And someone has to tell them. This is so unique, this has to connect with other people. So whatever, I’ll figure it out, like there’s there’s gotta be a way I know that there is a way let me see if I can find a way and if I can’t, at least I’ll know that. I did everything I could before just giving up because I don’t have the time for today.
David Ralph [48:01]
So what’s most important of those two speeches that we’ve played so far? And we are going to play a number ones shortly, which is the theme of the whole show. But is it taking a risk on doing something you love like Jim Carrey said? Or is it just focusing in on the next step as Oprah says, Well, what do you think is the most powerful
Cassandra Smith [48:23]
I think Oprah shares kind of the How to
that clip was this is how to get quiet and listen to the thing that’s important to you. But I think the the Jim Carrey clip was more on no risk, do it, do it. Do the thing you’re supposed to do do it blind do it scared, but just do it like and I think that that is maybe more important message to be because I think that there’s a lot of hidden talent in the world hidden passion in the world hidden calling in the world where people are just scared to do the next thing because it is a overwhelming and because maybe there’s that fear of getting quiet and listening to the next step. But man, like, there’s, there’s important stuff that you can fix that you can be, you can be that hope to someone and point them towards that thing that’s going to make a difference in their life. And yeah, I remember all the struggle that I had for this book, but I had one of my students come to me last night and he said, I just want you to know I’m actually going to read your book cover to cover this time. I only read a little bit, but you talked about how to help a friend that’s hurting and I’ve been doing that and they said it made a difference. Okay, that makes it worth writing my book.
David Ralph [49:48]
Just one comment,
Cassandra Smith [49:51]
because they they figure it out and they’re learning this this young man he’s learning to listen and to make a difference. Friends, and that’s valuable that stays with you into your adulthood. So yeah, I mean, if there’s people out there like wondering, can I do this? Should I do this? I don’t know. Like me, I just think and this was this was what nailed it for me. Are there other people who can be positively influenced on the other side of my willingness to push through and make this happen?
And it was that hope that somebody else would, would get it and that they would have hope that made it worth it.
David Ralph [50:38]
It’s always worth it listeners it once you start building something, and and the success starts coming to you, and even before the success, if you feel like it’s the right thing to do, then it’s always worth it. And I’m going to play the words now of Steve Jobs. And he said these back in 2005, he’s no longer with us. But I believe he had the same doubts. He would have had the same fears of trying something, and not knowing that it was going to work, whether it was going to be a success. And we can all see with Apple now, what a global success it’s been. But these are the words of Steve.
Steve Jobs [51:13]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [51:48]
So what’s your big.in life Cassandra when you look back, what is the dot when you go Yeah, but that’s that’s when he really started to show me my path as Steve Jobs was saying
Cassandra Smith [52:02]
I think if we’re going to talk about this book in this project, the dot really was when I picked up that first letter at that first event. And you know, the letter said, help me I’ve been abused for four years and my mother doesn’t want me there is something that sank into my soul when I read that, that went, I have to make a difference for this kid. I have to do something. I just didn’t know what it was yet.
David Ralph [52:34]
And do you think you were the right person to pick that lateral? Do you think, you know, in a, in a universe all coming together way? Do you think it was kind of almost waiting for you to pick it up?
Cassandra Smith [52:45]
You know, I think that I think that God gave me the gift of being able to listen. And I think that he did place me in that, that situation where, you know, those those letters were trash that night in all reality, they were about to get cleaned up with all the other, you know, leftover snack food containers. And I’m really happy that he placed me there to pick it up and to start collecting those and to pay attention. So yeah, I guess I would say that I think I was the right person. But I would hope that there would be other people out there who pay that much attention to for whatever their aha moment is.
David Ralph [53:30]
I’m glad you picked up those letters. I think I think the book is a book that should be out there. And I love the fact that one person’s passion can be there, literally forever comic that book, somebody is going to pick it up and they’re just gonna, you know, lose themselves in it. And the beauty of the book that you know, that you’ve written is, it’s not going to be one of those books that you sit there and read cover to cover. You will just pick it up every now and again when you walk past it and read a couple of pages but be left Something and be left with the message but that person was trying to convey when they wrote back that note in that hole and left on the floor. That’s powerful stuff, isn’t it?
Cassandra Smith [54:10]
I hope so that was my hope is, you know what to even though a lot of the letters are sad or very provoking, that it would resonate and identify with other others who needed to know you’re not the only one. Like we’re all human here. And we all struggle, but it isn’t the end game. There there is, there’s hope, and you can find help. And this isn’t where you have to be left in life.
David Ralph [54:39]
Well, this isn’t the end game, but this is the end of the show. And is it the part that we call the Sermon on the mic when we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self? And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Cassandra, what age would you choose and what advice would you give? Well, I’m going to play the theme tune and when it fades, you’re out. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [55:04]
We go with the best
Unknown Speaker [55:06]
bit of the show.
Cassandra Smith [55:21]
Hey there, Cassandra, I know that you just turned 17. And you’re wondering a lot about life and things seem really confusing. I know that it’s been two years now that you’ve wondered if you’re going to make it and if life is worth living, but I want to tell you that it is, you’re going to make it. You just don’t know that yet. So here’s a couple of things I would tell you. Number one, hold on to that dream, that one day, you’ll get to tell others, you can do it, you can make it, you’re gonna live and it’s going to be worth it. There’s hope. And there’s truth out there for you. Hold on to that dream that you get to tell that to others. One day Because one day it is going to happen. Don’t ever think my life is unimportant. Hold on to that dream. Number two, I would tell you don’t despise all the studying that you’re going to do, not only for college, which is coming up, and it’s going to be rough, for the studying on life, the things where you have to put in time learning skills and learning technique and learning how to do something that might be frustrating to figure out at first, you’re going to need those skills one day, you’re going to need to figure out technology that doesn’t even exist yet for you. But hold on when it’s tough. Keep yourself going. And always enjoy learning new things, because those are going to be the ways that you communicate with others. So hold on to that. And number three, I would tell you, hold on to Jesus. He’s going to get you through. God is going to walk with you every single moment, even though you’re going to cry out lot, even though you’re gonna have to spend a lot of quiet time with yourself, trying to figure out that next step and what to do in life. And yeah, some of those quiet moments, you’re going to wonder a lot about life and in some of those quiet moments, even some of the painful stuff is going to resurface as you’re fighting for other people to find hope. Your own stories are going to be mixed in with theirs. You’re not always going to know what to do, because it’s going to be emotional. But you’re going to make it through, spend that quiet time, cling to Jesus. keep finding hope for yourself, and maybe one day, you’re going to be able to send that hope out to others. Actually, I know that one day you will, because, well, hey, we’ve made it. It’ll be good. Keep going.
David Ralph [57:48]
Cassandra, how can our audience connect with you?
Cassandra Smith [57:52]
Well, if you would lie, if anyone in the audience would actually like to write their own letter to God. Just go ahead and go to project restored.com and write a comment, send me an email through that website. You could also find me on Facebook or Twitter at project to restored.
David Ralph [58:12]
Thank you so much for spending time with us today joining up those dots and please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots anchors connecting our past is the best way to build our futures can Sandra Smith, thank you so much.
Cassandra Smith [58:26]
Thank you, I really appreciate it this
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.