my journey to the hero within


stepping into the spotlight of New York and Hollywood, a lifestyle where stardom, celebrity life, and a Chippendale bow tie were the everyday norm? Fame was the dream of an innocent young boy that played out in the heart of a man who in turn lost sight of the boy within. This is their story.

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the journey back to youth awaits


"I fell in love with James Gardiner's utterly beautiful and alluringly poetic memoir from the very beginning, and to my surprise, it got better with every page. As someone who realized that the cost of being a celebrity musician was too great after testing the waters, I identified deeply with James's initial strong desire for fame and his subsequent sense of appreciation for the simple things. Every story in All In With Love is adorned with a most engrossing discussion about the key themes, which adds to the wonderful experience of the book. Gardiner spins a courageously sincere and deeply moving story that anyone who knows what it's like to experience having a burning desire, fatherhood, infidelity, depression, and divorce will relate to it. It's an unforgettable story about finding one's way from the darkest parts of the tunnel and discovering the true power of love and family." 

"Everyone has an inner child.
But are you listening? Gardiner reminds us that no matter what happens, we must look within. We must ask, “What does our inner child want?” All in With Love is a motivating memoir filled with all sorts of nice and heartfelt moments. We get so caught up with society’s expectations and pressures that we forget our authentic selves and real goals. Gardiner’s book is a friendly self-care reminder. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to put your needs first (as long it doesn’t hurt others). Sometimes we have to do things that are exciting to our inner child, and sometimes, we need to become the heroes our younger selves would look up to. All in With Love is highly recommended for those who need a touching and inspiring life story."

"James Gardiner’s memoir, All in With Love: my journey to the hero within
, is a story of perseverance, compassion, and the many iterations of love. The story opens in Rhode Island, where “little Jimmy” is a severe asthmatic dreaming of athletic glory. Gardiner takes us through attempts at sports, hospital stays, and even young love. This section was by far the most positive and left the reader with a sense of hope. The writing is full of wit and humor. It’s clear that Gardiner has fond memories of his youth, and I smiled reading his recollections. He then moves into adulthood, where Jim chases dreams of acting. Gardiner does work as a professional actor but writes about achieving success in such a hollow way that it leaves the reader disappointed in him. He illustrates loss in such a poetic way it moved me to tears. Gardiner ultimately finds the “hero within” is his dream-filled youth, which feels somewhat nostalgic. This emotional memoir reminds readers to live an authentic life and to hold on to the things that matter most.

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Rhode Island Arena
       Excerpt from the opening chapter, 
"The Captain's Chair"
New York City Arena
       Excerpt from 
"Who Killed Sister Rita"

Celebrities and Stories

Much of the story takes place in New York City and Los Angeles, arenas where celebrity sightings and relationships are as normal as an everyday cup of coffee. For the man who lost touch of the boy within, a handful of these relationships spurred him further towards reconnection. Here's an insight into some of this world within the book.

Robin Williams

Not only was he Jim's doppelganger according to most casting directors but the discussion between two lost men and the tequila in their hands plays a pivotal role in the book.

Britney Spears

The pop star and icon was also friends with Jim's wife while in Los Angeles. In fact, for a while his other half was a nanny for the diva and was exposed first hand to the chaos that is fame.

Elizabeth Perkins

She became Jim's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" throwback to the golden era. After a chance encounter while on a film set that haunted him for twelve years he is given a beautiful full circle moment to reconnect in Los Angeles. 

William Shatner

Captain Kirk has a recurring role to play in the story of Little Jimmy, Jim, and James. Inspired by his charisma as a youngster, the older man has a fateful encounter with his aging hero thirty one years in the making.

Camille Grammer

Women like this didn't fall for him, at least that is what he believed. Even though the two of them were together he knew it was only a matter of time before a bigger fish came along, cue Kelsey.

The Rock

During his own Attitude Era, Jim found himself pumping iron with the Great One while in NYC. In addition to the lifting banter it was the essence of humility and grace he cherished most from this superstar.

Sandra Bullock

Just a bar top, a bottle of Heineken, and conversation left an imprint on the wanna be celebrity. The ability to disarm people and have real life conversations led to more and more chance encounters.

Colin Farrell

The Universe delivered up a divine meeting just moments after watching a three hour Malick film starring the man himself. What unfolded was a beautiful discussion about the poetic nature of film.

Len Wiseman

Not only was he married to Jim's on screen crush, Kate Beckinsale, but he was hand picked by Jim to helm his own epic screenplay that was "Nogara." Five years led to a destined moment that forever changed the course of his life.

Geoff Tate

Music is life. And the lyrics and vocal ability of this legendary front man inspired a young and older man through many of life's battles. From a series of encounters a mutual friendship of respect and admiration formed, one for the love of art. 


People are people regardless of their roles in life. When the cameras stopped everyone was the same, bound by the simple need for conversation. Ice T's wisdom while taking a break on the set of "Law and Order" left a valuable mark on the up and coming actor.

Kelly Ripa

Once the papers came to a rest on the ground of the hallway, the embarrassed Day Player helped grab her script after nearly knocking her over. The gracious and kind Soap star showed him to his change room before his big scene with the Icon that was Susan Lucci.
"James Gardiner's wrenchingly honest yet poetic autobiography grabbed me right from the opening scene on Cydot Drive, in 1970s Rhode Island, and kept me hooked as this boy of a man took the bait of the American Dream to become a hero only to pay the price that comes with all false promises. James writes from the heart of a romantic, rich with imagery and cinematic landscapes, infused with music steeped in the language. It is refreshingly raw and abrupt at times when he pulls out his Gen X cynicism and voice of a win-at-all-costs professional athlete. As a mother to three sons in a time where the world is experiencing the collapse of patriarchal structures and there is an urgent invitation for a healthier story of what it means to be a true hero, I found this book to be incredibly impactful. How do we invite more humanity and wonder into our lives and in our relationships? We begin by telling our story. All in With Love is a great read. It's engaging, entertaining, honest and deeply compassionate. Enjoy..." ​
-Tina Overbury, Owner and Founder of TinaOlife, Story Coach, CEO of PowHER House
Vancouver Arena
       Excerpt from the chapter, 
"VI. A Starry Sky"
Vancouver Island Arena
       Excerpt from 
"A Yuletide of Blue Redemption"


An excerpt from the chapter, "A Bow Tie and a Cape"

Kind of ironic when I think about it. Jimmy got his stage legs in
front of the candy stripers of the pediatric ward, and here was Jim
about to add an extra “P” to the second word of their title, taking the
stage in front of two hundred screaming, fanatical women. The solos
in Chippendales were also unique in the way they would unfold. They
were actually called “kiss and tip” numbers. After their solo on stage,
the dancer would have a specific song and time frame to go out into
the audience and secure all the waving dollar bills. To maintain some
order, the dancer was escorted by another (clothed) dancer carrying a
small bag, which would be stuffed with the bills once each cheering
woman was greeted with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. The faster one
moved, the more money would get stuffed into the money sack. And so,
through the mob they would go, hell bent on the waving green candy.
Yup, ironic indeed, as was the sock.

Jim stood backstage in the dressing room, holding one of his gray
dress socks and an elastic band. Everything serves a purpose, he thought to
himself. Even that stint as the sought-after detective had proven useful
as he now knew exactly what to do with the sock. It was for protection
after all, not to signal a flagrant foul to the director but rather to
keep things hidden under the confines of the dreaded thong. Why this
piece of undergarment was invented, especially for a man with dangly
bits, Jim had no clue. Hence the sock, he thought. No one wants their
junk falling out on stage, or even worse, at the hands of some rapid
animal clawing at you. All in the name of ego. With that, Jim secured
his package and put on his dress whites. He was up next.


As a young boy Little Jimmy was fascinated with space and the tales from ancient Greek mythology. Up there in the heavens heroes lived, their night candles illuminating their legacy. This wide-eyed boy vowed to take his place among them and went on a crusade to be "somebody." 

Within this book is a journey, much like the constellations above, that bridge the Arena sections of the story. Together with the Shakespearean style Chorus sections the wayward adventurer that is Little Jimmy, Jim, and the aging James finally see their warrior constellation taking shape.
New York City Arena
       Excerpt from the chapter, 
"The Dance of Eternity II."
Rhode Island Arena
       Excerpt from 
"I. The Dark Veil"

A Christmas Carol

From the days of Little Jimmy and the imagination of the Cydot Drive Elf,  Christmas has always been a special time of year full of wonder and possibility. That innocence never left the boy as he travelled into adulthood, still holding a special place in his heart and soul. After all Christmas is a gateway back to our youth and the times of joy. The love of Christmas plays a recurring theme throughout  ALL IN WITH LOVE as does one of the author's favorite stories, "A Christmas Carol." The tales of Scrooge and the visitation of three spirits is interwoven into an aging man's Christmas Eve defiant stand against his failed dreams and looming road to self destruction.

An excerpt from the chapter, "The Slow Death of Christmas"

The boney finger extended outward from the dark cloak and pointed to
the wrought-iron cemetery gates. The man beside the ominous figure
took his steps down the dark path into the land marked by stones of
those no longer. Again, the finger pointed to a nearby plot surrounded
by freshly dug earth. The man stood at the precipice above the blackness
below, the final resting place marked by a tombstone etched in honor of
the soon-to-be-corpse.

“Jim Gardiner, beloved ego narcissist and wannabe in life”

It stood as a testament to the man’s life so far. Unlike the Scrooge of
legend, this miser jumped into the shallow grave, accepting his own fate.
Just his face was visible from the blackness.

“Spirit, hear me! Why show me this? These things?” Jim asked. The
hand continued to point to the bottom blackness of the grave.

Jim grew thoughtful. “I must accept it all to find happiness? Must I
die to be reborn?”

Finally, the bony hand receded with validation, causing Jim to lie
down on the cold, damp earth.

“I am not the man I was!” he cried as dirt began to cover his body. “I
am not the man I was!” He screamed until dirt filled the cavern of his
mouth, suffocating him—

Jim abruptly awoke to the pitter patter of little feet, scurrying down
the hallway while he wiped the feeling of dirt from his face. His glance
toward a sleeping Brooke was short lived, broken by the little whispers 
of excited girls from the living room. 

He laid there for a moment, just
listening to his two daughter’s Christmas morning love. A tear fell from
the corner of his eye, and he felt it travelling the length of his cheek
before disappearing somewhere on the pillow beneath him.

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​"James Gardiner’s All in With Love: My Journey to the Hero Within is a life story filled with pride and regret as narrated by three versions of the man who lived it: Little Jimmy, whose asthma-plagued childhood never stopped his dreams, adult Jim, who sought and fought for fame and glory, and author James, who concludes with a screenplay-version of his inner child rescuing him from rock bottom. A wild and inspiring ride, readers will be impressed by Gardiner’s courage to admit hard truths in this affecting memoir." Self-Publishing Review ★★★★

James Gardiner

Author | Speaker | Host | Coach

James is a champion for conscious leadership and walking each day of adult life with our younger selves. Being a leader for momentum and growth is something that has come natural to him. With over two decades of hands-on experience in personal and business growth, he is motivated to help people face their challenges, uncover their truth, and reconnect to the wonder of youth so they can truly live the life of their dreams, by design.

With a background formed in the arena of rowing, James competed for nearly twenty years as a high performance rower and coach in both the USA and Canada. At a young age he entered the US National Development System and won a highly coveted Gold Medal at the 1991 US Olympic Festival. Resurfacing years later as a masters athlete and coach, James has put the cap on a career that accumulated over 100 top three finishes throughout North America.

His highly developed motivational and leadership skills forged in his early rowing days accompanied his creative side as he took to the acting stages of New York City and Los Angeles while in the entertainment industry. It is here in this arena that James was privileged enough to bring many characters to life on stage and screen and learn how to command an audience. During his fourteen year tenure, James immersed himself into various aspects of production and post-production, helming many of his own scripted and directed offerings.

The business stage called as well and James soon found himself helping to orchestrate the development of exclusive hospitality properties on both coasts as well as in Vancouver, Canada. His strength lay in his ability to foster an environment that promoted team unity for growth, whether overseeing a team of twelve or two hundred and fifty, that never changed for James. Understanding the power that lies in a “team dynamic” and consciously leading others towards a common objective was a key part to his success.
His deeply enriched life tapestry furthered him to speak, motivate, and inspire those before him via the stage, podcasts and as the host of “The Inspirational 30”; a television show where he had the privilege of sitting down with inspirational guests from all walks of life to share their unique and inspiring roads to authenticity. The show and its 23 episodes played in re-run style fashion all over Vancouver and even into other large markets of Canada on Shaw TV.

Most recently James has embarked on traveling and speaking about his powerful new memoir, “All in with Love: my journey to the Hero Within.” This book chronicles his amazing life experiences and accomplishments as well as showcases how he turned poor choices and failure into a recipe for personal growth. But above all it is a story of reconnection. Of getting back to the wonder and curiosity of the inner child and living life to its glorious potential. Beautifully and compellingly written, his story telling is not only entertaining its readers but also providing them with deep introspective questions and thoughts about life and their younger selves.

Speaking and In-Person Events

Interested in meeting James and having him speak at a corporate event or for an intimate keynote?

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