Inspirational Stories

It’s always uplifting to read inspirational stories about people who’ve followed their dreams.

Inspiring you to follow your dreams is what we’re all about. On this page, we’d like to share the stories of just some of the amazing people we’ve met through the Seize The Day Project. We hope you love their stories too 🙂

Art from the heart is Cheryls passion, Seize the day project, inspirational stories, follow your dreams

Artist in profile: Cheryl Hart

It’s intriguing to meet a person who’s pursuing their true passion in life.There’s no denying, you have to be incredibly brave to follow your heart, listen to your inner voice and express your emotions openly for all to see.

Cheryl Hart, artist, Seize the day project, inspirational stories, follow your dreams

Cheryl Hart, Artist

Cheryl Hart is one of those inspiring people who is following her true path – to become an accomplished artist. It’s hard to believe that in her former life, she was an accountant. While I don’t doubt her intellect for a moment, she seems to be the polar opposite of the typical image of an accountant. Cheryl is softly spoken with a bright smile, she emanates a sense of calm, is self-assured and has a steely determination. She also embraces her creativity with gusto!

Early LIfe

Growing up as one of six children in country Victoria, Cheryl watched intently as her mother engaged in creative outlets such as sewing and knitting, and she encouraged the children to participate. This provided a hands-on creative experience from an early age.

During her late teens, Cheryl felt that creative flow being suppressed when art classes weren’t compulsory in high school. She felt that she never shone as an artistic student in art class and wasn’t the focus of the teachers time, as is the case for many students.  The focus was given to those perceived to have talent by the teacher, so she gravitated to her better subjects, which were maths based, and at this time, she adopted the belief that she wasn’t artistic. She says she couldn’t free hand draw or sketch and felt that business was her path.

Becoming an artist

So, in her mid-20’s, feeling the urge to paint was really strange.  Cheryl says she just knew it was time to start painting. By then, she had since married and was living in Switzerland with a toddler and a baby to care for. So, as taking lessons was impossible, she started with Paint by Numbers. This allowed her to become familiar with holding a brush, mixing colours and the work required to complete a painting.

After returning to Australia a few years later, Cheryl participated in a small art group at a coffee shop, which was run by a local artist. It was a very casual class with no formal structure – you just painted whatever you felt the urge to paint. In hindsight, she says this was a great way to start. Over the following years, she learned various methods from six different teachers, which helped her technique evolve and assisted in finding her niche. Eventually she became confident enough to start selling her work.

Divine inspiration

It was at this time, while painting an image of Buddha, Cheryl found herself being guided in her work, as though someone was directing the brush. While this was initially strange, however, she’s since learned to tap into this guidance and use her intuition when creating a work of art.

My art is like a visual diary, it is a way for me to disconnect from the outside world and travel within, it gives me a chance to pause and remember who I have the potential to be, creating something from a once blank canvas lifts my heart and makes my spirit soar,” she said.

Angel painting, Cheryl Hart, artist, Seize the day project, follow your dreams, inspirational stories

One of Cheryl’s beautiful angel paintings, waiting to be signed

At the age of 33, Cheryl experienced a serious illness, enduring months of tests before being diagnosed with several pre-cancerous tumours in her uterus. Three  surgeries followed, including a hysterectomy. Six months later she relocated to Dubai with her family, where she again experience ill health and spent 3 months in bed.  This was a turning point in Cheryl’s life as an artist, as she used art as part of the healing process from this traumatic period. She started to paint angels and other visionary works which depicted her personal journey.  She says she felt completely at ease expressing her feelings and emotions through her art. Cheryl highly recommends the therapeutic benefits of art, especially to help in dissipating the fear which lingers in the unknown.

Cheryl is fascinated with the connection between animals and humans, which is reflected in her artwork. She’s also intrigued by feathers, with her images including owls, peacocks and angels.

Finding a favourite

Oil on canvas is her favourite medium, however she recently enrolled in a life drawing class using pencil and graphite.

Art is definitely Cheryl’s passion. She says it was a process to realise this, not an A-ha moment. Several life lessons directed her toward this passion, including major illness and emotional upheaval. Two years ago, she says she found great solace in her painting during her divorce.

Cheryl says she can get lost for hours in painting – time just disappears. Everything is as it should be, and she finds that heart-warming sense of wellbeing, when she paints.

For many years, she’s painted part-time, often late at night when the house is quiet. Now that her children have become more independent, she can make art her priority. It’s been a long road through her commitment to her family – and now she is able to put herself first.

Cheryl has recently undertaken the NEIS program for small business owners. The course has proven to be a great tool to help develop her art into a business, as it provides structure and enables her to learn essential business skills. The program has helped her in making the full transition from finance to art.

In addition to selling her artworks, Cheryl plans to produce a line of quality prints. She also has several other exciting elements in the pipeline.

Follow your passion, Seize the day project

Cheryl’s words of wisdom

When Cheryl was asked what advice she would have for anyone who wants to pursue their passion. She said, “Take it one step at a time. Find yourself a group that’s supportive, explore your passion, feed that creativity, set time aside and prioritise it. It doesn’t have to happen overnight – it’s a process which will evolve naturally, organically”.

Cheryl says that her confidence grew as she shared her passion with others, and sought out guidance from a mentor who supported her vision.

Her latest project is a collection of paintings which she’s titled “Divine by Design”. In collaboration with several other artists, Cheryl’s collection will feature in an upcoming exhibition called “Art, An Affair To Remember”, which will be held in Tweed Heads from 12-15 November.

Cheryl has kindly extended an invitation to all Seize the Day Project readers to attend the Opening Night on Thursday 12th November from 7pm NSW time. While there is no cost involved, an RSVP is required – please refer to the exhibition’s information page for further details. I hope to see you there!

Seize the Day Project is all about tapping into your creativity, pushing yourself a little more to do what you love and embracing your gifts. Cheryl is a prime example of our philosophy in action.

You can check our more of Cheryl’s beautiful artwork on Instagram and Facebook.

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Surfing inspires art, Rita Masarin, artist, inspirational stories

Inspirational Stories

Artist in profile: Rita Masarin

Artist Rita Masarin, Artable, Cafe Dbar Gallery, art exhibition, inspirational stories, follow your dreams

Artist Rita Masarin

On a chilly winter’s morning during the recent cold snap here on the Gold Coast, I met up with local artist Rita Masarin to chat about her upcoming exhibition.

We agreed to meet at the iconic Elephant Rock Café at Currumbin, and we were grateful to find a sunny corner upstairs, sheltered from the icy breeze.  We used our warm cups of tea and coffee to defrost our hands as we chatted. The conversation flowed with ease, due to our shared interests in creativity and making the most of life.

It’s an exciting time for Rita, with her new art exhibition set to open on the 1st of August.

So, who is Rita Masarin, and how did she come to have her own exhibition? Pretty impressive, eh?

Rita is a wife, mother to three grown children, a former Indonesian restaurant proprietor, a passionate surfer and an accomplished artist. She’s also living proof that you can learn something new at any time in your life.

She started drawing and painting in acrylics around 2001. At that time, she was painting a LOT of frangipanis – and they sold like hot cakes. As a consequence, she says she never wants to paint another frangipani – it’s time to move on!

Self-taught until 4 years ago, Rita decided to step things up and enrolled to study Graphic Design at TAFE, then continued her studies in Contemporary Visual Art.

Renowned contemporary landscape painter and teacher, Hobie Porter, guided Rita on her artful journey, first as her teacher at TAFE, then as her tutor at Artable – an art school in Kingscliff. Under Hobie’s guidance, she learned to use oils, mix colours and improve her painting. Rita says she really benefited from the weekly workshops at Artable, which allowed her to maintain momentum and gave her the determination to complete works.

Artwork by Rita Masarin

“You learn by doing,” she says, “You just have to do it!” Wise words.

Rita now combines her passion for surfing and the ocean with her stunning artworks. While she also paints figures and portraits, she prefers the ocean – it’s her major subject.

Her love of surfing started when she was given a voucher for surf lessons for her 40th birthday. Before she could start surfing, she had to learn to swim! It took two years, a great deal of frustration and tons of tenacity for Rita to be confident enough in her swimming to learn to surf.… but she did both and surfing quickly became her passion. In fact, she loved surfing so much, she convinced her husband to move house from inland Carrara to beachside Tugun, so that she would be closer to the beach and able to surf every day.

Eventually, Rita took her paintings to show the owner of Café Dbar Gallery, Donna Archdeacon, who was impressed enough to take several small pieces, which sold quickly. She was later invited to do an exhibition at the gallery.

Her influences include prominent artists such as Chris Langlouis, Wolfgang Bloch, Philip Wolfhagen and Gerhard Richter. She draws inspiration from their interpretation of the ocean, clouds and sky.

Artwork, Rita Masarin, Currumbin art, Artable, insprirational stories, follow your dreams

Rita loves her life. Each morning, she surfs with friends at some of the best breaks in the world, here on the Southern Gold Coast, before starting to paint in her home studio at 10am. She often paints throughout the day and into the night – while her husband tries to sleep in the bedroom adjacent to her studio! She also listens to audio books while she paints.

It can sometimes be difficult to work from home, with all the usual distractions. Rita says entering competitions provides a deadline and worthy goal for her. Also having an exhibition to work towards helps.

She eats well and believes that keeping her mind and body in tune helps her to concentrate. She goes to the gym, surfs with friends and generally enjoys life.

Rita is set to launch her 8th solo art exhibition titled, “Dark Side of Light” at Café Dbar Gallery, 275 Boundary Street, Coolangatta on the 1st of August, and it will run until 31st August. Call in and check it out.

Rita Masarin is a prime example of what Seize The Day Project is all about – tapping into your creativity, pushing yourself a little to do what you love, and truly enjoying life.

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… Keep reading below for more inspirational stories …

Inspirational Stories

Life can change in a drumbeat!

It’s amazing how your life can change, just when you least expect it.

Celebrate life

When Janel Morrissey took her son Lucas along to the Lismore Lantern Festival, she anticipated an entertaining evening of visual delights. In fact, it was what she heard that made a bigger impact. As the lantern parade passed, the sound of rhythmic drumming came closer and closer until a band of red-clothed musicians called the Samba Blisstas appeared. Janel was captivated by their incredible sound, movement and free-spirited musical style. She wondered how it would feel to be part of something like that.

Playing a style of carnavale drumming inspired by and modelled on the Brazillian form of samba street percussion, the Samba Blisstas have chapters located along the East Coast of Australia, ranging in size from 20 to 45 members. Director, Paul Barrett, brought the concept to the East Coast in 2003, and the groups have been livening up festivals and community events with their unique music ever since.

Some years after that lantern festival, having relocated to Byron Bay, Janel saw a banner outside the local Community Centre advertising a 4-week beginner’s course for the Samba Blisstas. It only took her a nanosecond to decide she would sign up for the course. An accountant by day, Janel says joining the Samba-Blisstas was not just a step into the unknown, but rather, a giant leap. She’d never learnt to play a musical instrument before, but it had always been something she wanted to do – some day. Well, that some day had arrived!

Get out of your rut

Janel, left, and a Samba Blisstas friend

Having completed the introductory course, Janel had the opportunity to join the local Byron chapter members in her first performance the Railway Hotel in Byron Bay last November.

“I was quite nervous before that performance, as there’s quite a lot to remember and all the songs are choreographed. I enjoyed performing, but I felt relieved when it was finished,” she said.

“Now, when I perform, I feel really excited beforehand. There’s quite a lot of preparation with the makeup, costumes and getting everything ready to go. After the performance you feel elation and happiness, particularly if the audience is receptive and they dance, and then applaud us,” she added.

She loves the adrenalin rush and the release. “Drumming is very physical and requires a lot of energy, so it’s also a good workout.”

Janel says the best things about being part of the Samba Blisstas are, “Travelling around to new places, the sense of belonging to a large troupe, making new friends and playing music which is very grounding and tribal, and which makes the audience smile.”

Her advice to other women is, “Don’t be afraid to try new things. Educate yourself to get the knowledge you need and to build your confidence. Be prepared to learn something new.”

So, is there something you’ve always wanted to do? What could you do that would change your life for the better right now? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below – don’t be shy, I love hearing from you 🙂

Celebrate life

Celebrate life

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See below for more inspirational stories ….

How to cook up a successful business – with Terri Taylor

Tamborine Cooking School, Terri Taylor, inspirational storiesI recently had the pleasure of speaking with the delightful Terri Taylor of Tamborine Cooking School, a culinary experience not to be missed when visiting the beautiful Tamborine Mountain in South-East Queensland.

Following your passion is not always an easy ride. Terri Taylor found this out when, in her late teens, a love of cooking led her into a position as an apprentice chef.

“Being a young girl in a male-dominated industry was very tough. I had to work twice as hard as the blokes to be considered worthy of my job. There was no equal pay back then, so even though I worked harder, I got paid less than they did!” says Terri. She believes her concentration, endurance and ability to keep going when things get tough were what got her through those difficult early years.

Terri’s hard work and determination paid off, and she went on to work in such fine dining establishments as Sydney’s Hilton Hotel and The Royal Sydney Golf Club.

Years later, after relocating to the Gold Coast, Terri worked as a pastry chef at Conrad Jupiters Hotel. Due to a stressful working environment and long hours, Terri found herself not eating properly, instead indulging in taste testing too many of the sweet treats she had prepared. She gained 10 kilos, and promptly took herself along to Weight Watchers. After losing the extra weight, Terri became a Weight Watchers leader, learning presentation skills and enhancing her ability to build rapport with others along the way.

A new business is born

After attending a day at a cooking school with friends “just for fun”, Terri hit upon the idea to set up her own cooking school.

“I thought, I can combine the presentation skills I learnt through Weight Watchers with my years of cooking experience to offer people something completely new and different,” she said.

After carrying out some initial research, getting Council permission and a food licence, Terri set up Tamborine Cooking School in her mountain top home in 2010.

The one-day courses range from Greek, Asian, Italian and Spanish to Morrocan, Modern Australian and Classic French. Visitors receive a hands-on session, where up to 8 courses of the selected cuisine are prepared by the group, then served accompanied by local wines and/or tea and coffee.  She has recently expanded her offering to include hosting hen’s parties, team building days, small groups and corporate events.

Setting Tamborine Cooking School apart

What makes Tamborine Cooking School special is the overall experience offered by Terri, her Mum June and husband David. The trio make everyone feel so welcome. I should know, I’ve been to the school three times! The inviting location, with views across the misty mountains to the west of the Tamborine plateau, is calming and restorative. It’s the ideal place to enjoy a leisurely lunch with fine cuisine and great company.

Terri sources the majority of her organic ingredients locally, with many of them grown in her own kitchen garden (which you’re welcome to explore during your day at the school). Other ingredients are either grown elsewhere on the Mountain or in the nearby Scenic Rim.

A big bump in the road

Just when things were going along swimmingly, Terri was stopped in her tracks by a surprise diagnosis of tonsil cancer in early 2012. She endured 3 rounds of chemotherapy, radiation treatment and a dramatic weight loss (as well as hair loss!). The cancer is now thankfully in remission. Terri is required to undergo regular three-monthly check-ups to monitor her health.

“The worst part was losing my sense of taste. That made it a little challenging during classes, but I’d just get people to taste things for me,” Terri said.

She now feels on top of the world and is enjoying life, especially spending time with treasured family and friends. Terri says having cancer made her ready to take more risks and continue to help others to improve their lifestyles. Passionate about healthy eating, Terri has joined forces with a local dietitian to run cooking and nutrition classes in the Tamborine Mountain community.

“If we can help one person improve their lifestyle, that’s great. If we can help lots of people, that’s even better!” she said.

What’s the recipe for Terri’s business success?

“Having a sense of humour, being friendly, approachable and genuinely interested in people are all important factors.”

What advice would Terri give to other women who want to turn their passion into a business?

“Do the groundwork first. Find out what skills you may need and go and do a TAFE course if you need to. Be community-minded and participate in local groups, women’s network and the like.”

What’s ahead for Terri?

“I’m looking forward to taking more opportunities, doing different things and generally getting more out of life. I want to run more community programs and hopefully teaching more people how easy it is to eat healthily.”

She has an upcoming stint as Celebrity Chef at the Goondiwindi Gourmet Weekend. She’s also interested in assisting the local Council in getting a food trail of her local area in place. Terri hopes to teach others about eating locally and seasonally.

Thanks Terri – we wish you every success, good health and happiness – Lyndall 🙂

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these inspirational stories. If you or someone you know has another inspirational story we can share, please feel free to email me – :).