6 reasons why you SHOULD STEP INTO THE VOID

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♥ BLOG RECLAIMED FROM SEPT 2017 ♥

It was easy, when I first arrived in Italy, to get drawn deep into the panic of having given up all my taken-for-granted familiarity. Despite the fact that there had been a fire under my arse chasing me to Italy, the first months were full of my dwelling on that familiar discomfort of a place where e.g. I was capable of talking on the phone to resolve a bureaucratic issue – and was sure about what side of the road to drive on.

The superficial mind perpetually seeks stability, pattern, anchoring: if it could, it’d probably put the brain in a jar and have it in a secure room, fed by wires and artificial nutriment. In some ways, we’re heading that way – kids not even allowed to learn from experience that fire burns and falling down on concrete breaks skin; no-one letting germs circulate their home any more; everything packaged and everything truly natural to all intents and purposes outlawed. At the end of the day, it gets good-comfy to be laid back on a soft, sterile sofa with the perfect-coloured cushions, in front of an ever-busy TV screen and munching on sugar and slurping down caffeine to keep us perky – to maintain our ‘interest’ in life.

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And it’s nice to have the steady drip of a wage: the knowledge that every single month we will have a familiar amount of money deposited in our lap, which corresponds roughly to the amount that we’ll have to put out into the world. This rhythmic symmetry makes us feel like everything is under control, despite life distractions regularly popping up inconveniently.

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What does it mean to throw all that comfort out, and to go out on a limb – to stand at the end of a diving board above a mysterious ocean, and to simply jump: to enter a new country and culture and start a new life from nothing… what happens? What would happen if we gave up all the comforts and trappings, and chose the unknown, the new, the unfamiliar? (Wouldn’t it destroy us? Or fuck our lives up?! Shouldn’t we be fighting with all our domesticated life force, to hold onto what small territory we have?!!)

But seriously: what happens when we up give up an old life and start in a completely new, unfamiliar place? I’ll tell you:

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ONE: First, it creates a void: a void is something we are all terrified of, and yet it is the space into which the better, the best, the life we REALLY WANT to be living can grow.

The void – space to think, feel, to be present in – is one of the greatest hidden secrets of our time: we’re lured into this compelling mythology of ‘time poverty’, and of being full to the brim, overstimulated, and ready for terror, in every moment of every day.

We seek all kinds of therapy and antidote to this, from holidays in countries with better weather, to titillation of the senses (hard or soft) and over-indulgence: staying up late or pressing the boundary ever-so-gently, but never stepping outside of it.

Ultimately however, we all seek peace and gentleness – we want to be more sensitive and quiet, and we want our day to be full of love and significance: to have this, we need the space, the void. There is no room, otherwise, and to cultivate this space, we have to wean ourselves out of the fear of not being filled up. We have to allow life to open up around and in front of us, rather than clawing to get back in the box we’ve made for ourselves.

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TWO: It makes us realise what inner resources we have – because we have to actually draw on them; use them. In a comfortable life, we rarely challenge ourselves beyond the fluffy yum-numb of our routine.

It feels like fulfilment – but it really isn’t: the human soul needs to experience friction and challenge in order to grow, in the same way a tree needs natural soil and wild weather to get it to its potential.

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THREE: It makes us see that we can actually reinvent ourselves; change, travel, upheaval – particularly when they are consciously chosen rather than imposed on us – are the most useful of tools to get us to stretch our minds into what we might also be/ achieve/ dream of.

Staying at home can be satisfying to a degree, but the longer we don’t stretch our legs or hearts or energy, the more accustomed we become to the atrophied version of our self which we’ve elected to prioritise.

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FOUR: It makes us work hard; on ourselves, on our work, on our life and friendships… There is a profound satisfaction in having to make new connections, networks, structures to hold us; there is the deepest meaning and beauty in our having to build a new household, in having to harmonise a chaotic new reality, in having to learn a language and legal system, cultural and religious norms…

And that hard work is more honed than it might be if we are living a stagnant life: it is more specific and necessary. Our compulsion fires up our engine, and gets us more streamlined.

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FIVE: It brings us into a realm of raw creative flow. Most lives are full of complacency, and this sense of ‘this’ being ‘all that there is’ – why bother changing anything, if we already have someone to drink coffee and complain about the weather/ our partner/ our boss with?

If someone is telling us where to go each day, and we still get to ‘wild out’ on payday by buying a new pair of shoes, or getting drunk and laughing excessively, why would we want to re-accept the power-that-flows-through-all-things-when-we-are-aligned-with-our-life-purpose?!

Hmmmmmmn – I wonder.

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SIX: Possibly most importantly of all: putting ourselves into a new and challenging situation like moving to another country makes us appreciate the value of things: we see how hard it is to find a thing which before was always a bancomat and a supermarket trip away.

We see how communication is so much more than constructed word formations, and that a smile or being touched on the cheek can be profoundly moving, confirming our place in the world.

We learn to enjoy what little we have, essentially, rather than seeking more-more-more without questioning whether a thing is really improving the quality of our life. Perhaps our values can even deepen, in time – especially if we’re immersed in a culture which is more rooted in family, spirituality, friendship and nature…

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I wanted to make a statement here; yes, about what the positive side of a challenge like moving abroad can be, but also to remind folks that NONE OF THIS COMES ABOUT EASILY OR INSTANTLY OR BY LUCK – NOR CAN IT BE BOUGHT: it has to be earned, slowly and through hard graft, humility, concerted attention and commitment, love and optimism, and by pushing oneself always to be a better human being. We have to know ourselves, and then too, to know-craft-hone this self into the best we can be.

I wanted to remind myself, and folks who are inspired by what I do: none of my happy creative life – with my own house, in magical medieval Italy – happened by accident, nor was any of it handed to me on a plate; I didn’t stride over here in confidence like many people assume – or saw fictionalised on TV…

I arrived overwhelmed and terrified: nothing flowed well when I got here, and A LOT about the country and culture rubbed me horribly the wrong way. There was a dark night of the soul where I really thought for a while that I had fucked up phenomenally: that I’d thrown it all away and had nothing and had seriously sabotaged my future…

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It feels important to say: I know that many people don’t ever change their lives because they think that one should be strong, confident, healthy, in equilibrium, solvent, and sure of what one is doing, to move abroad, or to make a big life change. You don’t, you simply have to do it, e basta.

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Happiness, freedom, fulfilment grow like plants in a well-tended garden: they don’t appear overnight; they flourish according to whether or not they are planted, and whether or not it’s in the right season and soil, and the good care and attention given to them. They live to their potential not through one big showy action, but through myriad small ones. They yield fruit according to the accumulation of all these tiny attentions and harmonies – and when they are happy and in the right place and time… the fruit is bountiful – and heavenly delicious… And their seeds go on to produce more and more and more life and growth and fruit.

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Much love and creative power to you

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Join my newsletter and support me on Patreon if you’d like to keep up-to-date with all my creative outpourings – and if you’re ready to step into your immense creative potential: go and see my online art school.

THE SCHOOL!

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Here is a COMPLETELY FREE course – an intro to the Real School of Art – your go-to-place for all things related to creative transformation…!

I finally got my fabulous online art school up onto the Teachable platform: it’s neat, organised, and will make sense to more-logical brains (than my own).

It was a battle to get my vision into compatible format!!

It feels amazing to have this gateway between me and the world: a means of my channeling all this integrated wisdom about artistic expansion – living the happiest of artist lives … and hopefully setting lots of folks into a great creative adventure…

Here’s how it works so far:

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this is the FREE INTRO COURSE

THIS COURSE IS FOR YOU IF: You just want to have a nosy – and get a feel for the school. There’s some art chat around what art and creativity really are, and why they’re so vital in the world today.

There’s also some insight into the school’s approach and energy – and some free art lessons!

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The MYTH-BUSTING SERIES!

THIS COURSE IS FOR YOU IF: You’re keen on art and have a dream about creating something significant, but it all seems so mysterious, snobby and remote – out of reach to you. YOU WISH SOMEONE WOULD PULL AWAY THE VEILS AND GIVE YOU A FRESH, ACCESSIBLE POINT OF VIEW OF IT ALL!

This is a series of short art chats and exercises for you to follow: it takes us through the most prevailing of the lies about art, which stop humans from being magically creative!

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This is course 1- on making space inside & out for your art

THIS COURSE IS FOR YOU IF: You love creating or have always wanted to get creative, but for some intangible reason it seems to be an elusive process: time passes and the dream, project, painting just don’t get anchored. YOU WISH SOMEONE COULD GUIDE YOU INTO YOUR FIRST STEPS AS A SERIOUS ARTIST!

This lesson set goes over the essential shit which no-one tells you about in art school: how to arrange your space and time, and how to get over the initial inner turmoils which being creative brings up.

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This is your BUILDING A STRONG FOUNDATION course

THIS COURSE IS FOR YOU IF: You’re keen to begin more seriously with your art studio and practise, and you feel like it should be easy – you ‘should’ just get on and create more… but then practical stuff gets in the way, and the doubts about your ability… YOU WISH YOU COULD JUST GET ON WITH THE ART!

Haphazardly winging it won’t get you near your enormous artistic gift, nor will learning tricks or short-cuts: this is how to approach your art practise right, from the start!

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This is the LIVING IT course!

THIS COURSE IS FOR YOU IF: You’re a creator and have a practise, but it hasn’t seemed to develop beyond an extended hobby – and this frustrates you. Other banal stuff seems more urgent, and your enthusiasm peters out – blocked by lack of direction and inspiration… YOU WISH YOU KNEW HOW TO POWER UP AND SUSTAIN A PROFESSIONAL ART PRACTISE!

Your approach is everything: get this clear, get your commitment in place, and your practise will flow like it should – prolifically!

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This is the one to get you OVER ALL YOUR ART HURDLES!

You’re up and running as an early-career artist; out and about, connected, exhibiting here and there – you have some confidence but you want much, much more from your art career: it all feels a bit stale, and you want it to feel stimulating and fulfilling… YOU WISH YOU KNEW HOW TO FREE UP YOUR ENERGY AND REALLY MOVE TOWARDS YOUR LIFE AMBITION VISION AS AN ARTIST!

Everyone meets resistance, and at every stage in their life and work; this is a set of lessons to equip you for sailing over the jumps like a pro!

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This is the course which shows you how to KEEP YOUR ART ENTHUSIASM UP!

You’re starting to craft a healthy art career, and love your practise… and yet there seems to be an invisible ceiling above you that you can’t get beyond; a pervasive sense of limitation. YOU WISH YOU COULD GET OVER YOUR INSECURITIES AND GET TO GRIPS WITH THE PRACTICAL SHIT, SO AS TO MAKE A MORE MEANINGFUL CREATIVE CONTRIBUTION IN THE WORLD!

The deeper practical shit which many artists never get right! Here’s the key fodder to cultivate a proper art career – one that expands and flourishes!

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And this is the PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE PACKAGE

THIS FULL RSOA COURSE IS FOR YOU IF: You want to commit now to the full journey – the Real School of Art is a series of 67 lessons; crammed to the edges with inspiration, depth and colour. If you’re looking for a complete course to take you from first tentative sketches … to a vibrant career as the unique creative genius YOU WERE BORN TO BE – this is your course!

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 Stepping into the life of a real artist is challenging, exciting, terrifying: it might turn your world upside-down … and then you might realise that your world was topsy-turvy to begin with!
Entering a committed life as a working artist is something many dream of, but few have the guts to do: in this school I’ll be showing you in bite-sized steps, how to cultivate the courage that it requires, to really embrace YOUR ART PATH.

I am on hand as your guide and arts professional, to support you in your transformation. And in this first phase of the Real School of Art, I’ll be offering one-on-one Skype/ Zoom/ whatever sessions to my students, as an added bonus.

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Come join us!!

Clare xx

ART HOLIDAYS!!

The arthouse now has a series of windows open for folks who love art, and who’d like a one-on-one, individually tailored, painting-with-the-artist holiday: go and see VAWAA’s beautiful site, to hear more about it.

Your holiday will include prior consultation on how we’ll craft your art activity; we’ll hone in on your specific goals and needs.
We design the 4 day session just for you: you can focus on skills development, wild expressive work, creative catharsis, a personal project – or even work completely spontaneously.
I’ll be there throughout, and will also show you around this magical town, in which I’m protagonist of a growing international creative community!

It’ll be a highly inspiring break, guaranteed! A completely unique experience, super-nourishing to your creative spirit!

Please share this blog if you know someone who would love such a holiday!

Keep in touch with all my news, and with the Real School of Art, via PATREON and on THIS WEBSITE

Happy August creative expansion to you!


xx Clare 

RETURNING – WITH FRESH EYES!

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THIS IS WHY I CAME HOME!!

All gloriously coffeed-up and with a happy apple brioche in my tummy, my luggage stored safely at the station, and sat with my essentials, in a park of towering brick antiquities, palm trees and daisy lawns.

I’m encamped on the grass in the half shade, checking whether the sun is taking over the day yet. It’s late March: where I came from was a furnace, where I’m from originally would leave your arse frozen damp and muddy, but here, I could forgiven for getting teary-eyed about it.

It’s fricking perfect.

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Life in Italy is something folk romanticise about, obviously – films, songs, paintings, blogs – the Guardia Sanframondi Renaissance movement – and the Italian branding plays to it, like a Latin lover wooing a stupid tourista – easy.

But underneath all the marketing and all the folks getting lured in by the promise of that postcard idyll, there’s a profound possibility of CONTENTMENT here: a potential of fulfilment, nourishment, spiritual ease, social synchrony, community wealth, which cannot ever be bought, bargained for, commercialised. It can only be earned.

It is earned through one’s presence, a willingness to embrace and accept, a dedication to the moment, a belief in truly good things… and a humility that lets all the crazy wash right off your back.

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I think that it’s easy to overlook the small pleasures – to take them for granted, and not be joyous for them. It’s only in being without them, that we see their preciousness. The Italiani in Guardia are often perplexed as to why we stranieri would like to be in such a setting as this previously-abandoned medieval town, when we come from cultures which – at least to the outside – seem to offer such a pinnacle perfection of the consumer machine.

It’s hard to sum it up in a short blog, but for me, it’s this moment – the Easter Sunday bells are thundering with the force of all those centuries of religious consent – but they are so solidly, absolutely, delicious in how their sound wraps itself around this park, around me, around this moment, like a familiar blanket. The birds join in, as does the chatter from a biodiverse park clientele, of Romans, stranieri and dogs. And even the traffic seems to lap like waves, close as it is, adding not unpleasantly to the ambience.

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The air is as clean as air gets in a large European city, and the breeze touches my skin just enough to cool the parts that the sun is beginning to burn. My bare feet are tucked under lush clover and grasses, dotted thickly with proud bright daises.

The park begins to fill with Easter Sunday passeggiatori, none of them particularly heading to or from church, and none of them looking like they’re carrying the weight of Jesus’ martyrdom, on their shoulders. Punctuated by regular Vespa buzzing past, laughter and jollity flows around, from group to group.

We all consent to and support this good vibe, this rich life, this perfection, and we all want to keep it flowing benignly. Italy is not just about the absence of danger, discomfort, visible poverty or tensions (having just returned from a month in Uganda, I find this all very tangible), nor about the presence and availability of tasty treats, cultural resources, mod cons. For me, Italy – loving Italy, and living here – is about that quiet perfection which every single day is sewn together by; the rightness of the underlying paradigm, and the collective agreement to honour it – set in stone.

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Belonging to this culture is never something I thought to show off or hold up as a status symbol, but it is something that I can now sense and enjoy. Having tried and tested and failed and overcome a  stack of initiation challenges thrown at me by the place and the people, and having woven my own perceptions and contributions into the tapestry… and now having stepped right away completely from Italy, and come back to it…. I feel a sense of  – not ownership, but – that I am responsible to my place in it.

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I feel utterly joyous to return to this benevolence, this warm familiarity and nourishing ambience; it feels like it is mine now. There are so many reasons why Italy projects such a strong romantic appeal, a seductive façade. But more importantly (for me), under this glam exterior, there’s a depth of riches quite unimaginable.

 

Come join me on Patreon to see all the insight and images, a window onto my studio and creative process, more from my travels in Africa – and to Live Like A Happy Artist! This is where I share all the behind the scenes and deeper stories, just with my special people…

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You can also:

Follow me on Facebook

Browse my Etsy shop

See my books and calendars on Lulu

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Tante belle cose, Clare

THE UNIVERSE IS ALWAYS SHOWERING US WITH BLESSINGS!

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This week (my 4th in Africa) a multitude of stuff happened, which to many folks would signal ‘Oh noooo!!’ and have them running home tail-between-legs. I’ve even had a few messages from friends and family, scared and stressed for me, and assuming I should jump on the next plane back to Guardia Sanframondi.

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But to my perspective as a happy creative person, the way we view what happens around us – to us – there’s a spectrum of possibility in that… and all of it is positive.

What that means in reality, is that no matter what has been thrown at me, from aggression and projection and domineering manipulation, to being isolated and ignored, to electricity cuts and water outages, masses of biting insects, utterly debilitating heat, lack of personal safety, not being able to find the most basic food stuffs…

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All this can be a joyous learning curve.

How? How does one turn an anguishing situation into a constructive one?

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It’s so simple that it gets overlooked a lot: good old methodical correcting of our thinking.

What this means in practise is that, as big clever super-intelligent human people, we have the truly extraordinary capacity to think for our selves. We also are able to both rationalise and transform our feelings – our emotions.

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Together, these two inner resources allow us, if we really work with them with sincerity and humility, and go always deeper, and to get to this place deepest inside, where it all is good.

One of the practical tools I used, back in some of my more stressful times (and in moments like these in Africa!) is to make a great long list of at least 21 reasons for why this moment or issue is something really truly positive in your life.

At first this is an awfully clunky process, but you will be amazed what comes of it, as you convince yourself, like a self-fulfilling-prophecy, to look at the bright side.

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But slowly, slowly, you begin to open your mind, your very synapses, your heart and whole energy, to what is possible, rather than what isn’t possible.

And this opening is the key to human happiness and well-being. When things flow through us, rather than coming to a blockade, where we have a big heavy doubt in our mind or heart, or even a subtle negative thought, we can access infinitely more energy, inspiration, enthusiasm, hope, success… you get the idea.

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The very act of being negative stops this flow. And when the flow is stopped, it begins to manifest in the outside world around us: we project outwards into our work and relationships, our home and family life, the literal blocks which are going on inside of us. Our partner becomes an aggravation rather than the support we so desperately need, our job becomes a drain on our very soul, and life in general feels like it is wearing us down.

But by this time, we don’t see that we are being negative: we think we are being ‘realistic’ or that we can see reality better than others: we’ll defend this dark reality, no matter how much it is eating into our soul, to the end.

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Awareness, or sometimes another human being, or often something we come across or read, can inspire us to really look at the limiting shell we’ll living in, but we have to be willing to see it.

So really it’s a choice, like everything in life:

get busy being happy, or get busy being stuck in your own muddy rut.

Start looking at what the darkest things in your life are/ have been, and how they can be lessons and blessings.

Or you could just sit still, and complain about how life isn’t what you want it to be.

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In my experience, having come from a place of poverty, ill health, depression, grief  and severe anxiety (I could go on) and having utterly transformed that into a beautiful and empowered life, filled with colour, depth and meaning…I know that it works; that no matter how downward your spiral appears to be; how deeply rutted our habits and closedness… it can and will all be opened up so we can flourish, if we just set our minds to it.

Happiness IS the way!

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Loads of good wishes to you, and I’ll be in touch via PATREON about all that’s going on in Africa!

You can also SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER, which will be going out on Monday.

                                                                                                                                        Clare xx

AFRICAN ADVENTURE week 3

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Here is my week 3 African Adventure vlog.

I’ve been painting, writing, exploring very quietly and gently (above: drawing-paintings on paper and wood (works in progress))…

From this evening I am taking a room in a guest-house by Lake Victoria, to spend time by the water, and to be in a better position to socialise and walk out and about. I am very excited about it!

I’m also excited to be getting to know and navigate the climate, food, culture and landscape… It feels very stimulating, even if I am going about everything very tentatively!

As usual, come and join me on Patreon, if you’d like to get a fuller picture of what I’m working on – a big window into the life of the happy artist!

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Tante belle cose, Clare

GETTING FAMILIAR WITH THE TERRITORY

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5 tips for landing in foreign climes!

ONE: FRESH AIR/ SPACE

Be outside as much as possible, just breathing in the new air, observing what is immediately in front of you – the difference and the similarities. Don’t judge, don’t think too much, just be.

Even if you are closed in a truly urban box, appreciate that, too, and try to keep some air in your room.

If there’s no comfortable option for opening windows, then air-conditioning can be a fine alternative!

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TWO: WALKING: Make walking a daily priority; it’s grounding, refreshing and it lets you familiarise yourself with your immediate neighbourhood. You’ll see new things, and get a better understanding of where you are.

Just a once-round-the-block will reveal a ton of insight into a place.

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THREE: PACE YOURSELF – be realistic about how well you can know a place, how quickly.

Some cultures will seem more alien than others, depending on where you’ve come from: set small steps to begin with, and take quiet time to muse, reflect, talk with friends on Skype or social media.

And make sure you are nourished, appropriate to the climate and food tolerance – I came a cropper with that, last week, as I started off too adventurously, not taking into account the necessary time period for the intestinal flora to adapt! This week I’m able to digest practically everything, thankfully, but last week it felt like I was losing my ability to take in any nutriment at all.

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FOUR: TURN ANY ANXIETY AROUND: acknowledge your fears, but do not feed them.

Also, ask yourself the following; is this experience enriching me as a human being – like, am I growing from this? Am I becoming who I want to be? Or is it bringing me down? Be honest with yourself.

Often, when we look at the positive and the learning – at our self-development – it becomes more apparent that what we’re struggling with can actually be useful.

It’s also vital that you accept if you’re not even having a good time, though! All things pass, and sometimes, it’s the coming home which is the joyous thing, not the being away!

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FIVE: BE SAFE: stride out fully aware of any risks you might be taking, but consciously giving thanks that you are protected.

Find a balance between having your eyes wide open, and pushing your own boundaries/ or the limits as to what you are told is possible.

Always ask for advice from locals – and especially from other women, if you’re on your own as a woman.

There are well known psychological studies about how victim mentality can project an aura of vulnerability – not just walking in the street, but in socialising and relationship. Our fears, if we allow ourselves to navigate from just them, will provide an open door to folks who (consciously or unconsciously) feel drawn to the energy which we are losing – which is flowing out of us, through our fear projection.

Conversely, if we radiate out loving respect, harmony and joy, it is amazing how we can find the right word or gesture, in any given moment, to dissipate tensions, to make friends, and to find a peaceful solution to many, many issues.

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I hope you find this useful in your travels!

Do you have any tips for folks going out into the world?

Do share them in the comments below!

Come join me on Patreon to see all the insight and photos, from my travels in Africa this month – and to Live Like A Happy Artist! This is where I share all the behind the scenes and deeper stories, just with my special people…

PATREON SIGNUP BUTTON

You can also:

Follow me on Facebook

Browse my Etsy shop

See my books and calendars on Lulu

 

AFRICA WEEK ONE!

DSC_0026It’s ridiculously hot, I’ve been sick, it’s an incredible experience!

Here’s my week one vlog from Kampala in Uganda:

For all the photos and updates, including special vlogs and insight which I only share with my beautiful patrons, go see:

www.patreon.com/clareartista

And in the meantime; here are some snapshots:

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