I had two names.

My pseudonym, Cassie Kennedy, was born when I became a writer.  Working for Police Scotland as a Researcher it seemed like a good idea at the time, I didn’t examine the reasons why I needed to embrace another identity.  I only trusted my instincts.

Cassie Kennedy become my champion, the more confident part of myself and I gloried in her presence.  When fear shrunk Lisa, Cassie came to protect her.

The dichotomy is I didn’t acknowledge or accept my need to hide within another identity.  Now in retrospect, I understand why.  Cassie was my protector and like a lioness with her young cub, she kept me safe.  And I’m forever grateful because when I could not see in the dark, she took my hand in hers and led me into the light.

I will be forever grateful to her, my family and my friends for helping me to see Lisa.  Lisa May to be exact named because my Mum, the original lioness, liked the name and May, after my kind-hearted and loving Gran. 

For years, Lisa hid in the dark, scared of moving, scared of making a noise and scared of being hurt because she didn’t understand anything other than fear.

In the last year, I’ve found these twin energies are more alike than I gave them credit for.  It turns out Lisa is independent, determined and spirited and she smiles and laughs regularly. And I have delighted in making her re-acquaintance.

To those who know me as either Lisa or Cassie I’ll still answer to both and I’m thankful for your understanding.  For I am both vulnerable and brave.  

I am me. 


Recently, while out celebrating with friends, I came upon an idea.  It was a night of celebration; a culmination of 10 months of introspection, self-awareness and a feeling of merging into something more than I have been.  My idea manifested as ‘the year of saying yes’ of being open to new experiences, with caveats, I’m allowed to say no to anything making my nostrils flare.  While I say this in jest, genuine curiosity lingers at where this approach may take me.

However, I’ve not always felt this way.  Three years ago, I wrote a blog called ‘open your heart’ and at the time I genuinely believed my heart was open.  It wasn’t.  It was locked in a prison of my own making.

In recent years, I have cancelled plans with friends because I was unsure of the arrangements, I’ve halted relationships because I was scared and I have closed my heart in case it gets broken.  And I’ve done it all because I wanted to stay safe.  And to those I pushed away, for my part, I’m truly sorry.  I didn’t know why then, I do now.

Creativity is the only place I allowed myself to be free and through the world of my imagination I have lived a thousand lives, yet as the ending of any story unfolds, I have discovered within the now, the expectations, the what if’s, the maybes and the outcomes no longer matter.

I’m writing this now because it’s time for me to step out in faith, to believe and trust in myself and others.  Even if it’s dark outside, even if it’s scary and even if it hurts, I’m still going to do it.   I’m going to let myself to be vulnerable and be seen.  I am going to live and love a full, brave and happy life.

That’s the secret.  When you unlock the door, you get yourself, the real you, and it’s such a gift.  I’m so thankful I’m here right now.  And as for the what’s on the other side of the door? I don’t know yet, I’ll see it when I get there. 


Recently, I watched The Theory of Everything.  It’s a movie that’s been on my list for a while and my viewing came at exactly the right time.

Professor Stephen Hawking.  A man whose life epitomised making the impossible – possible.  When diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) aged 21 he was given a couple of years to live and survived for another fifty-five.  

And what a life he lived as a Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist and Author.  Translating astronomical theory into an everyday conversation.  I own a well-thumbed copy of A Brief History of Time and every time I pick it up it makes me feel smart and intellectually insecure at the same time.  The whimsical first sentence enthrals me.

“We live in a strange and wonderful universe.”

What I love about Professor Stephen Hawking is his spirit.  His undeniable passion for science and thirst for learning.  As his diagnosis progressed, he communicated at the end of his life by using only his left cheek to type his words into a computer screen.  Embracing life experientially with infectious self-deprecating humour with appearances on The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory.  And who can forget the smile on his face as he experienced weightlessness at the age of 75. 

What a life. 

When he passed earlier this year the scientific community reacted with genuine grief at the loss of this inspiring soul and celebrated not only his unique contribution to their field but his humanity.  Professor Stephen Hawking never gave up.  No matter what the limitations he always persevered.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about perseverance.  As a scholar of psychology and counselling, you naturally refer to your internal building blocks and last week I discovered the source.  I listened to my Mum talking about determination, how once she starts something, she finishes it and I marvelled at her.  My Mum describes herself an in introvert and she is, however, she is also my rock, my champion, my guiding light and my dose of common sense when I need it most.  I’m so very lucky to be her daughter.  And when I grit my teeth, dig deeper and work harder, I call upon the inheritance my Mum gave me to go the extra mile. 

When you are doing what you love – what burns the fire of your passion, you feel so alive and inspired you exist within a world where the impossible is possible and nothing else exists.

Professor Stephen Hawking lived in that world and so do I.  I may not get there today or tomorrow but I’ll get there.  I always do.   Because I’m my mother’s daughter and I will never ever give up.

The composition, The Arrival of the Birds, by Johann Johannson from The Theory of Everything soundtrack is magical and I would encourage a listen.


It’s taken me two years to start writing my new book. 

This was not deliberate.  The story was always lulling about in my head, like a cinema screen playing on a continual loop with scenes of rich characters bejewelled by circumstances and fate. 

For the last year I have been promising myself that I would put pen to paper and I did, I wrote a book.  But it didn’t feel right.  Like I was writing the ghost of a story when the real one was actually buried deep within. 

Then life intervened, the study of psychology and counselling consumed me.  And as I learned to be mindful and elevate my self awareness I asked myself why I was not writing the story I am meant too. 

The reason when it came was unexpected. 

Visiting Samye Ling recently, I explored the surrounding scenery and found myself on a pebble strewn beach as the Solway Firth flowed past.  The area glowed with sunlight and was held together with a series of small waterfalls.  It was beautiful. 

Sitting down on the rocks with my notebook and dipping my painted toenails into the water to cool in the sun I started to write.  I finally started to write my new book, as it is meant to be written. 

And in the midst of writing, I paused as I got the ‘why’.  Why I had hesitated, procrastinated and distracted myself.  It was because I needed to take a moment for myself.  It was because I had to stay still for me.  

I needed to be selfless in my self-care. 

I’m the Queen of busy, working without a pause, so much so I feel guilty for taking time for myself.  On that day watching the water trickle as nature decreed, I realised the pause,  instead of a punishment in waiting had been the most precious gift. 

To write this story, I had to understand who I was and where I had come from and it was only once this process had been completed the gift was bestowed and the story in its entirety was revealed. 

Sometimes a pause, even for a couple of years, is worth every single moment and the learning is a treasure and in some instances it takes sitting by the river in the middle of the Scottish lowlands to see it. 

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; give the story time to float down the river and when it arrives let it sing in your bones.  Be out of time and embrace the learning. 

It’s definitely worth waiting for. 


I absolutely loved writing The Binding Veil.

When I think of the months, I spent writing this book, I remember a feeling of unaltered childlike joy.  As I had become so part of the world, I created in my head it became as real to me as the keys on my laptop. 

When I’m asked about The Kinship Chronicles and the process of writing, I confess I never intended for it to be a book.  I start writing a series of what I thought was short stories  with my only aim to finish one each time I sat down to write.  Then I got curious about these people who inhabited my psyche and wondered what their story was.  Writing furiously as I tried to accurately describe the vivid images born in my head.  

I always say that when I wrote The Feathered Roots I was finding my feet, when I wrote Scatter of Kin I found my way and when it came to The Binding Veil I was loving it. 

The physical manifestation of a book feels like climbing towards the summit of K2, a physical and mental feat fraught with difficulty.  If you’re going to get there you must train hard, do the writing, learn your craft, be determined as the world tries to take your attention away and be more resilient than you have ever been in your life.  When you feel like giving up, you don’t – you grit your teeth and dig in your heels and keep going because you’re in it for the long haul. 

Success is a personal journey, some say it’s to be on the New York Times bestsellers list.  For me, it was the day the book arrived.  Opening the box and holding the book that I had dreamed of and written was a moment and memory that will stay with me forever and a day. 

Celebrating these memories, I now find myself working creatively again with childlike enthusiasm and whenever I am asked about my new story, I clap my hands together like a child.  I’m sure Gestalt in his study of unconscious body language would find this behaviour particularly intriguing. 

So TKC, my first bairn, thank you for all you have given me, and I let you go with love, pride and hope as you fly away and find a home wherever the wind takes you. 



“If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, you’ll love The Kinship Chronicles”


“Magical, dangerous and romantic, an absolute triumph for Cassie Kennedy.”


“I was completely hooked with the book from the start. I absolutely loved the character development and got completely lost in the story!”


“This is a magical book that grips you from the start. It’s a lovely piece of escapism that touches your heart. I can see this book becoming a very big hit with readers of all ages. “


Amber’s dream of a happy family reunion has come true.  But all is not as it seems. As Amber and Aiden finally meet their father, the King, she is more confused than ever. 

As the delicate veil between good and evil, right and wrong is torn; Amber, Aiden, Duncan and Rose find themselves charged with saving both Sensio and Earth.  

Can they restore the natural balance in time to protect themselves, their kin and their worlds? 

The Binding Veil is the epic conclusion to The Kinship Chronicles®

Who will win?


I’ve not written for a while.

Okay, I’m telling a fib, I have except it has been writing of the academic kind.   Combining a Psychology Degree with the COSCA Counselling Skills course has been a challenging and intense and I have loved every single moment of it. 

I’ve always had a curiosity about people, their beginnings, nature versus nurture, motivations, dreams, behaviour and actions and while I embrace my spirituality, I also embrace a science that illuminates your perception of self and change. 

The first two modules of COSCA are intense and come with a plethora of emotions, because when you seek answers to why we behave the way we do, you naturally glance inward and take a peek at yourself.  You have to, because if you are going to sit across from a client and form a positive therapeutic relationship you have to be willing to face yourself first. 

Modalities within counselling have a varying approaches and are as individual as each therapist and while I am a student of all, I find Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) intriguing as it focuses on how your beliefs, thoughts and attitudes affect your feelings and consequential behaviour.  

And within this psychology, The Laundry Room can be found.  

We all have this room in our brain, the locked door that holds the icky stuff.  You throw in the memory and the experiences and bolt the door.  Then you open it up again and have a look inside before you shut it again and numb with a distraction.  Then a trauma occurs and you can’t close the door anymore because you have to clean your laundry.  It’s not easy or comfortable. 

It is courageous and empowering. 

Because when you know who you are; what your value system is, your attitudes and respect yourself enough to appreciate they will evolve as you do, you will practice true and authentic self-care.  You will value yourself and your life experience more than you have ever done in your life. 

So, if I could leave with one parting wish, I would like it be this; with the appropriate support, open the door and clean your laundry.  There is nothing to fear from what we have inside.  Trauma can be healed and the space within reveals a cavern of possibilities, ideas, hopes, dreams and life ready to be filled with a new dream. 

The link below may be helpful. 

BACP Find a Therapist


Willie Pugh likes to build.

Born in Clydebank in 1957, Willie came from a family of stonemasons and bricklayers, becoming a real-life journeyman at 21 years old when he moved to Fife to work on the ongoing construction of Glenrothes.  A new town born from the Rothes Colliery predicated to last 100 years before closing in 1962, paving the way for a self-styled Silicon Glen. A business boom that needed premises and houses leaving many an opportunity for a young man who wished to ply his craft.

For Willie, Fife became his adopted home, where he has spent the last 28 years, 16 of them as self-employed in the business trade.  He was, in his own words, “a passionate builder,” recalling with genuine excitement his favourite time of year as the close of winter, when he worked on tall buildings in the sharp, icy cold, wearing, shorts and t-shirts accessorised by steel cap boots minus the harness and the hard hat. 

Ironically, it was the introduction of health and safety legislation that insisted on the harness and the hardhat that caused his passion for building to wane.  And, for the first time in 28 years and at the age of 40, he asked himself a question; what else can I do?  Wanting to work with people, Willie initially went to Fife College and signed up for an HNC in Social Care, where he initially toyed with the idea of becoming a Social Worker.  An notion and an inspiration, before he “understood what it really meant.”

During this metamorphosis, Willie worked for a number of organisations including Fife Council, the Scottish Society for Autism and Drugs, Alcohol and Psychotherapists Limited (DAPL).  Willie describes his initial career as a Care Worker as “Groundhog Day” and felt frustrated that he was unable to enact a real difference to the people “everyone from three years old to older people,” he worked with.  However, from this chrysalis came a realisation, it was the transitions within people’s lives that interested him the most.

And it from these experiences that lead him to begin his career in counselling, starting a lifelong love affair with learning when he began a Diploma in Counselling in 2002.  When I asked Willie for his thoughts on counselling, his eyes lit up and he spoke enthusiastically and movingly of the privilege of helping others, describing his clients as “amongst the bravest people he has met and having the opportunity see a client flourish is amazing.” 

In 2003, to gain more experience, he answered an advert for a Counsellor for Fife Alcohol Support Service, on Tolbooth Street in Kirkcaldy gaining his accreditation with their support and helping clients to improve their quality of life for 11 years as a volunteer. 

When I asked Willie about specialising in the area of addictions, he confessed this came from his previous career in the building trade.  An industry, in his time, that was plagued by addiction.  He described a day in the pub as a Sabbath, where his company would descend on the pub on a Friday to release the tensions of a hardworking week.  He recounted the days when work was called off due to bad weather and the choice was to go home or go to the pub and on most days, the pub won.  And ironically, it was on Friday, that his first back shift with the Society for Autism fell upon and walking to work, Willie had to walk past the pub full of friends enjoying their Friday ritual.  An event he described “as really hard.”  The next day, he took the car and it got easier.  An experience, he has used over the years, to demonstrate how the past and present collide to enable people to make a conscious decision to change their lives.

Willie did not only change his vocation he also became a lifelong student.  Since 2000, Willie has studied every year, taking only a gap year in 2011.  He tells me of the surprise of his father, also known as Willie and a bricklayer himself, describing him as the only one of his children who “never did any homework until he left school,” preferring to take the belt from the teacher – if he had too.  Willie has specialised in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), a counselling model, he believes, allows him to challenge and work more collaboratively with clients.

For the last 18 years, Willie has studied, culminating in a Master’s Degree (MBA) in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) from Queen Margaret University in 2016.  This year, in what he aims to be his last course, he is doing an Honours Degree in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).  Saying jokingly, as a dedicated Celtic fan, he was in the Champion’s League and now he’s gone back, quite happily, to the Premier League.  However, I suspect, Willie will never truly stop learning.   

As a student, Willie says it took him many years to feel equal to other students and gain the knowledge he needed to feel confident as a learner and it was this personal transition for him, that led to another bowstring as a Teacher.  Starting off with teaching construction at Telford College from 1982 to 1985 and going on to complete COSCA and Supervisors Training Courses in 2009.  He also ran, for a period of time, Alcohol Awareness courses with Fife Alcohol Support Service and enjoying the process of taking reluctant participants, attending for punitive reasons and encouraging them to engage with the training.

As we finished chatting, Willie said he still drives past sites and admires the labour put into the building work and I wonder if he realises the impact he has on people’s lives.  Bricklayer to Psychotherapist, building and helping others to re-build their lives.  Willie agrees with the statement, making a respectful and self-effacing comment in response, “you learn to have courage in your abilities and also the courage to fail.” Today, he’s building again, spending today showing his grandchildren his burgeoning interest in woodwork. 

Willie Pugh; engaging, empathic, humble and most of all inspirational.  A living example of changing your life – if you want to.  

Laying the foundations, one brick at a time.


Willie Pugh, MBA, currently works with Addiction Support and Counselling (ASC) in Falkirk and Signpost Recovery in Alloa and is a member of COSCA (Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland).


My Granddad Pete is the original storyteller. 

Whenever I see him he always tells a story, whether it be about a piece of history he has witnessed, people he has to meet or experiences he has had, all encased with link words, which he uses to weave it all together.

So, when I told him that I was going to do some family research a couple of years ago, Granddad was interested.  Ancestry is an intermittent hobby of mine, picked up once every few months when I go to Register House and pour over birth certificates and census records.  It is more than a visit, it is an experience and it is one filled with emotion, as you move from euphoria to grief to hope within the space of a few minutes.  It is truly the definition of who do you think you are.

For me, it is the family stories, the folklore steeped from generations past that piques my interest most and it is these stories from my Granddad Pete that encouraged my latest investigation.

For as long as I can remember, my Granddad has spoken of his Dad going to America in the 1920s to find work as a Stonemason.  Leaving Fife to for the shores of Canada, before crossing the border into the United States in April 1923 where he ended up in Chicago.  The same year an infamous resident, Al Capone, moved to the South Side.

Stepping off the train he encountered a policeman describing him “as wide as he was tall” and shaking his hand in the Mason style, he was directed towards a building company, receiving 3 weeks work and a roof over his head on the same day.  Within minutes of having the work offered, he had started on the job.  Telling my Granddad that you got work “as long as you were willing to work hard.”

He had an American girlfriend, a serious relationship that did not progress to marriage and in 1930, suffering from a stomach ulcer, he decided to come home.  Travelling back via Canda with a friend and selling his car to pay $26 for the fare home.  Driving back to Montreal on 26th July 1931 on the Ship Letitia coming home to Sutherland Street in Kirkcaldy via Glasgow.  A year later, he married Agnes Kirkcaldy Brough and in 1933 my Granddad Pete was born.

For all his adventures and bravery in forging himself in a new world for a time, Robert Hunter Anderson is described as a quiet man and a hard worker, nicknamed ‘The Yank’ for the subtle twang of the American accent he picked up on his trip to the Wild Wild West.

Grandad Pete recalls going out with his Dad and his brothers in his early 1950s to a local pub and remembers his Dad looking at him and his brothers and saying “I wish I had done this more often.”  I like to think, perhaps, instead of talking he told the story of America to my Granddad, using his past to bond with the future. 

As Carl Jung once said; “who has fully realised that history is not contained in thick books but lives in our very blood.”  

For me, that is what family history is all about, it is the stories that sing in your veins.  It may have been a shipping manifest that brought me, however, I have got to know Robert Hunter Anderson and admire him for his tenacity at striking out to make a life for himself in what would have been very difficult circumstances. And my Granddad Pete also got to remember his Dad, and I can understand where his keen intelligence and appetite for learning has come from. 

And as this website is my virtual cave wall and one day my name will be on a certificate too, I am leaving this behind so my ancestors know of my Granddad Pete, his stories and his dad Peter Hunter Anderson who adventured to America.

I do and it is precious. 


2017 has been a great year. 

Life changes in an instant. The ordinary instant.

Joan Didion

In retrospect,  I did not appreciate the intricacies and surprises that it would bring or the experiences that would befall me and in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t see it all coming because when it did, I was truly amazed. 

Looking back, it is two moments that defined this year for me. 

The first was in Vienna, sitting on the steps of the Austrian Library overlooking the Museum Quarter in the sun at the grand old age of 40. It was a moment when life just bubbled up inside me and I knew I had everything I needed.  And that night, if I had closed my eyes and fallen into a final sleep, I would have gone away happy. 

Not that I am wishing myself away, far from it, I still have many adventures to come.

The next moment happened driving home from Dunfermline along the A92 on a rainy, cold and dark night.  I had spent the evening speaking about choices and helping others and it happened again.  I was smiling in the darkness as I felt pure joy.  Since then, it has been a constant emotion.

Happiness is an inside job and it is not determined by other people or events.  I have been wandering for years and now I’m finally heading down the right road.  Bloody hell, it feels good. 

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; find your happy and let life bubble up inside you.  I am. 


This studying lark, I have to say, I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve always been a proud bookworm, finding more pleasure from words than daytime television.  However, in moving from fiction to academia, I anticipated the change in reading style would be a challenge.  

I’m used to researching and preparing for talks, workshops and most recently mistress of ceremony duties, but I appreciate the approach to creativity and sciences have polarities I am only beginning to appreciate.  However, it is one I have enjoyed and my mind, keen to sponge up new knowledge, has teased me to explore other books on psychology beyond the Open University texts. 

So, sitting last weekend at Kirkcaldy Galleries, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.  Surrounded by textbooks as I grappled with the study of Authoritarian Personality, finding I was able to engage with the research and link modern day events to give it context.  If I have learned anything about psychology it is that this science raises more questions than it does answers.

Then, out of my word stupor, I heard a faint voice say, “excuse me?”  Turning, I saw a woman looking at me nervously before she said;

“Your tag is hanging out of the back of your jumper.”

Pulling the tag off my newly purchased jumper, I burst out laughing.  As the woman backed away, clearly relieved with my reaction and wandered off with the words. 

“Your jumper is lovely by the way.”

Giggling, I looked down at my textbooks sprawled out over the table, half illuminated by the sun through the slats of the long wooden blinds and I came up with one theory I did not anticipate. 

You’re never as clever as you think you are and every day is a school day. 

As my darling Dad often says; “we’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns,” and never has there been a truer word been said.  Psychology student, keen learner.  Daft as a brush.  However, I still think it is a funny story, so perhaps there is hope for me yet. 

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; enjoy your learning, have fun along the way and remove the tags.  You don’t need them anymore.