ARE YOU KEEPING IT UP…?

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It’s probably the greatest challenge for any creative person – perhaps for any human being, eh!

Keeping up the momentum in our lives and work only happens effortlessly when we open up ALL of our creative channels – our mind, our heart, our intuition… and our time and space.

Here’s this week’s vlog, with 4 BIG TIPS on how to keep the passion and authenticity in your life and work:

And did you hear that: I AM ESTABLISHING AN ACTUAL ART SCHOOL!

Not just any old art school either: a course all about profound creative transformation!

The REAL School Of Art

– a serious antidote to all the daily pressures which quell your splendid creative potency! Yey!

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Tante belle cose, Clare xx

COMPETITION

PATREON

THE ARTHOUSE B&B

ETSY SHOP

 

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:

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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.

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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

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK

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How does one write a book?

I want to share something of my creative process, as I re-commit to the book series – and to the Spiralling Upwards book, which was begun back in Scotland in 2008.

Whilst there are myriad guides and shedloads of online advice about How To – bullet points and scheduling and the like, I believe that real creative flow comes jumping directly into the chaos!

To do this, without being totally overwhelmed, one needs the right space, and a good knowledge of one’s own mind and work methods.

Here’s a vlog about that:

I’d love to hear how you approach creative projects – let me know in the comments below!

Want to Live Like A Happy Artist?

Go see my Patreon campaign

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See my books and calendars on Lulu

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                                     Clare xx

MAKING THE SPACE TO MAKE

As the new year comes in fast and intense, I wanted to recap about the Live Like A Happy Artist book series.

Alongside my painting practise, and healing and being happy, these new books will be my main work focus this year – and I don’t want any interruptions!

Here’s a vlog about all that:

Want to Live Like A Happy Artist?

Go see my Patreon campaign

Follow me on Facebook

Browse my Etsy shop

See my books and calendars on Lulu

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Clare xx

SKIN SLOUGHING SEASON

This is an exciting time of the year, in terms of transformation!

I just had my birthday, so it’s my new year, and I always use this transition into a whole new cycle as a way of looking afresh at my life and work – sometimes I make big changes!

This particular season is also special for me, because it marks both the end of my fifth year in Guardia Sanframondi – and a new phase of my professional life as an artist. The past few months have been highly successful and satisfying on one level, and yet on another, they’ve felt like I’m dragging a heavy load of responsibility and worry – which shouldn’t really be mine.

So it feels like time to slough an old skin!

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all images by the artist, from the oriental museum of rome

‘Sloughing a skin’, to me, means a big clear out/ tidy-up/ autumn deep clean (body and house), but it’s also a shedding of e.g. inappropriate workloads and others’ projections. A time for delegation and release.

It is powerful to do this at least once annually, and why not during the period when all of nature is dropping fruit, shedding leaves, letting go and resting back into itself, as the nights become longer.

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One potent way that I’m marking my own ‘letting go of inappropriate responsibilities’, is by transferring all the useful wisdom I have about Guardia Sanframondi into book form. This coincides with a much tougher line on interruptions: i.e. not allowing interruptions at all, thus making a renewed commitment to my art practise.

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It took me these past 5 years to restore my house, learn the language and set up a business abroad: it is a dream made true, and I am doing everything I want to, so it was bothering me that I wasn’t waking up ecstatic every morning.

In fact, I was feeling consistently agitated and too full – my head crammed with all sorts of trivialities, emails ting-ing away, and infinite requests for answers streaming in and out of my social media accounts: most of it around the town, and practicalities, orientation… The doorbell was being buzzed far too often, and folks getting into my head space, my workspace, my emotional space, with things that had nothing to do with me. In the end, it felt like I was re-living my own struggle to get established here, whilst simultaneously acting as counsellor and councillor!

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It is a great thing for us humans to be able to have symptoms – to feel negative emotions – because these draw our attention to what needs attending to. Without symptoms, we’d just keep crashing on towards self-destruction.

So having figured out what was holding me back, and why people were asking for my time, I can now figure out how to proceed, whilst hopefully not abandoning or offending anyone!

I’m excited to be honing my practise; focussing much more on the creative acts at the centre of my work. My relationship with creativity is like a strong tree trunk in my life – and my being inspired is the nutriment which is required to keep the structure solid and vibrant; my own pleasure and enjoyment of the place I live in, my travels, my painting and writing.

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If we’re stretched out into others’ needs and wants, then our trunk begins to become brittle, our limbs limp – and less and less essential nutrients gets to where they need to go.

I’ll be announcing some new Patreon rewards this week and next: particularly interesting for those of you passionate about Guardia Sanframondi!

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Tante belle cose, Clare

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PILGRIMAGING/ PELLEGRINANDO!

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Have you ever been on a pilgrimage?

I don’t mean a religious one, per se: I mean, a trip to a place where you were heart-burstingly inspired… a journey which transformed you on a cellular level.

Sei mai stato in un pellegrinaggio?

Non intendo uno viaggio religioso, di per sé: voglio dire, un escursione in uno luogo in cui sei stato ispirato tantissimo, e quasi spezzato il tuo cuore un viaggietto che ti trasformato a livello cellulare.

DSC_1427A couple of weeks ago, we headed out from Guardia, just as the dawn was bringing the sky to the most profound shade of blue before sunrise, bound for Niki De Saint Phalle’s sculpture garden in Capalbio.

It was rather a too-long drive for a two hour visit but, even the uber-windy plains west of Rome, the creaky service stations, the trees to the road-side… quite honestly, they all seemed imbued with a real beauty and magic that day!

Un paio di settimane fa, noi abbiamo capeggiato fuori da Guardia, giusto quando l’alba stava portando il cielo ad una tonalità di blu più profonda possibile… Siamo andati al giardino dei tarrocchi di Niki De Saint Phalle a Capalbio.

Era piuttosto un troppo lungo viaggio in auto per una mera visita di due ore ma, anche le pianure ventosissime ad ovest di Roma, le stazioni di servizio scricchiolanti, gli alberi sul lato della strada onestamente, questo giorno sembravano tutti imbevuti d’una vera bellezza e magia!

DSC_1432And then there was the garden.

Oh my…

I found it very difficult to hold back tears (i.e. I cried) entering this space, where you see the artist’s studio (above) and the waterfall, and the dragon and child, and the justice sculpture… it was so visually stimulating, enrichingly colourful, emotionally charged in the most profoundly-healing-wild-feminine-positivity kind of a way!

E poi c’era il giardino.

Oh dio

Ho trovato molto difficile tenere indietro le lacrime (cioè ho pianto) entrando in questo spazio, dove si vede lo studio dell’artista (sopra) e la cascata, ed il drago ed il bambino, e la scultura della giustizia era così stimolante visivamente, arricchendo colorati, caricato d’emozioni in modo più profondoguarando-selvaggia-femminilepositività possibile!

DSC_1430Walking through the garden, taking in each piece (the sculptures are based on characters from the tarot) was a revelation: seeing such a vibrant expression of a person’s creative vision, walking into it, experiencing it under this divine light of brilliant morning sunshine…

Passeggiando per il giardino, assorbendo ogni pezzo (le sculture si basano su caratteri dal tarocco) è stata una rivelazione: di vedere una tale vivace espressione della visione creativa di una persona, camminando in esso, avendo questa esperienza sotto questa luce divina del sole brillante del mattino.

DSC_1463  It was extremely inspiring, shall we say!

We wandered around alone, amongst ebbs and flows of children and elderly women, then found each other again, and shared our amazement.

È stato estremamente ispirazionale, diciamo!

Abbiamo gironzolato intorno soli, tra flussi e riflussi di bambini e donne anziane, poi trovato di nuovo l’un l’altro, e condiviso il nostro stupore.

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DSC_1447We were mesmerised and bubbling with joy, feeling wild laughter and defiance and determination ripe to overflow, as we contemplated the life and work of the woman who had created this magical place.

Siamo stati affascinati e spumeggiante con la gioia, ci siamo sentiti maturi per traboccare con una risata selvaggio, siamo rimasti così soddisfatti con la sfida e determinazione, mentre abbiamo contemplato la vita ed il lavoro della donna che aveva creato questo luogo magico.

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thanks to Kate Mackay (above) for the photos she took of me (below)!

DSC_1529Kate and I sat on the roof of Niki’s voluptuous sphynx-woman studio, and wove such startlingly bright clarity: we had the sense of being in a place which was WHOLE; where the artist had left the legacy of her energetic-creative footprint. We imagined ourselves growing such a place, and allowing others to be so inspired by walking through our artwork!

Kate ed io, eravamo seduti sul tetto della voluttuosa sfingedonna studio di Niki, e noi tessevano tale chiarezza straordinariamente brillante: abbiamo avuto la sensazione di essere in un posto che era INTERO; dove l’artista aveva lasciata l’eredità del suo impronta energetico-creativo. Abbiamo immaginato noi stessi coltivando un posto simile, ed permettendo ad altri di essere ispirati così camminando attraverso la nostra opera d’arte!

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(Amo questo allineamento di posa casuale!)

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DSC_1544 The visit was all the more potent for us, as Kate is 5 months pregnant, and I am studying a course on awakening our core divine feminine with Kim Anami! The humongous breasts, vivacious curves and deep holes, and depictions of sacred forms from all cultures; for Kate and I, as artists who also use the female figure in our work a great deal: what  n o u r i s h m e n t  and AFFIRMATION!

La visita è stata ancora più potenti per noi, come Kate è incinta 5 mesi, ed io sto studiando un corso di risvegliare il nostro nucleo divino femminile con Kim Anami! I seni giganteschi, curve vivaci e buche profonde, e raffigurazioni di forme sacre di tutte le culture; per Kate ed io, come artisti che utilizzano anche la figura femminile nel nostro lavoro molto: che nutrimento ed affermazione!

 DSC_1574 DSC_1582 DSC_1590There is a huge shift happening in the world right now; from the old, rigid masculine ways, which have been forced upon us all for millenea, to a more balanced harmonious collective conciousness. It is slow to come though, and as it comes, the old regime realises, and tries to impose its rigidity all the more. But it is too late- one cannot halt a shift in consciousness, one can only observe, and/ or contribute positively.

It’s not just about returning to the feminine, but creating healthy dynamic equilibrium between yin and yang.

C’è un enorme cambiamento accadendo nel mondo in questo momento; dai vecchi e rigidi metodi maschili, che sono state costrette a tutti noi da millenni, ad un armonico coscienza collettiva più equilibrata. E’ lento a venire, però. E, come viene, il vecchio regime rende conto, e cerca di imporre il suo rigidità ancor più. Ma è troppo tardi. Non si può fermare un cambiamento nella coscienza, si può solo osservare, e / o contribuire in modo positivo.

Non è una questione solo di tornare al femminile, ma la creazione d’un equilibrio sano e dinamico, tra yin e yang.

DSC_1593A lot of Niki De Saint Phalle’s artwork, as with many great female artists, was intensely a) autobiographical, b) archetypal, and c) cathartic. She, like many other great artists, realised that when you dive deeply and creatively into your own transformation, your spiritual liberation and potential, you do essential work for the collective too.

Un sacco di opere d’arte di Niki De Saint Phalle, come con molti grandi artisti femminile, era intensamente a) autobiografico, b) archetipico, e c) catartico. Lei, come molti altri grandi artisti, rese conto che quando ci si immerge in modo creativo profondo dentro il tuo trasformazione personale, la tua liberazione e potenziale spirituale, si fa lavoro essenziale anche per la collettività.

DSC_1600All that we create and heal, radiates outwards to support positive change in all of us: our work is able to speak to the collective, because it is pure, and whole, and it echoes through the ages.

When art is pure, it is an open door to the divine: a gateway which allows us both to see and to step into the greater experience of being human- the state of being connected to the universal intelligence.

Tutto ciò che creiamo e guarire, irradia verso l’esterno per sostenere il cambiamento positivo in ognuno di noi: il nostro lavoro è in grado di parlare con il collettivo, perché è puro, e intero, e riecheggia attraverso i secoli.

Quando l’arte è pura, è una porta aperta al divino: un cancello che ci permette sia di vedere e di entrare nel maggiore esperienza dell’essere umano: lo stato di essere collegato all’intelligenza universale.

DSC_1605But it also DESTROYS: it obliterates untruth and falsity, pretence and insincerity; it burns veils and prejudices which obscure our vision, so that we can see more clearly; it shines light into all the dark corners of our being and our existence.

Ma DISTRUGGE anche: si cancella la menzogna e la falsità, la finzione e ipocrisia; brucia veli e pregiudizi che oscurano la nostra visione, in modo che possiamo vedere più preciso; brilla la luce in tutti gli angoli scuri del nostro essere ed esistenza.

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The rest of our day was spent in a semi-daze,resonating with the energy of what we’d been exposed to, falling into bed after our second 5 hour drive of the day; exhausted but extra-sparkly-eyed! Inspiration re-charged for the next year!

Il resto del nostro giorno è stato fatto in un quasiintontimento, in risonanza con l’energia di quello che eravamo stati esposti. Cadendo nel letto dopo il nostro secondo 5ora-di-auto del giorno: esausti ma con gli occhi-extra-luccicanti! Ispirazione ricaricata per i mesi successivi!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ JOY! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ GIOIA! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Let me know about your pilgrimaging below!

And…TOMORROW IS SPRING EQUINOX, and so NEWSLETTER DAY! You can sign up here, if you’d like to have it arrive in your inbox!

In the meantime, you can also go join my Facebook page, and/ or support my Patreon campaign!

Loads of love and inspiration to you! Clare xx

Fammi sapere pellegrinaggi, qui sotto!

E …. DOMANI è l’EQUINOZIO DI PRIMAVERA, e quindi, il giorno del NEWSLETTER! È possibile iscriversi qui, se ti piacerebbe avere arrivare nel tuo inbox!

Nel frattempo, potete anche andare unire la mia pagina di Facebook, e / o dare sostegno alla mia campagna Patreon!

Un sacco d’amore ed ispirazione a te! Clare xx

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