I AM IN AFRICA…

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With my great capacity for full-immersion, my first day out and about in Kampala was pretty overwhelming yesterday. From the heat to the intensity of activity in every direction, the noises and the unusual light and the super-strangeness everything. It’s really like being on another planet!

DSC_0004the road to the workshop

Alongside this, being outside of my usual safe space, my haven and workspace – wow, it’s intensely un-grounding – and unnerving – at first!

DSC_0044the workshop garden

When I set out on any journey, this is almost always the first reaction; everything is unfamiliar, and I want to go home… but settling into a place is a powerful aligning force: when we carry around our inner resources and capacity to learn, there is a wonderful energetically-stimulating space in any newness, which feeds the soul, feeds the creative field.

DSC_0070view from the workshop garden

Though it can be somewhat overly-exhilarating initially, jumping in at the deep end is also a marvellously toughening, waking-up, reminder of who we are and what we love, where we want to be and how we want to express ourselves in the world. Travelling somewhere really different can remind us of what it is to be fully alive, because all of us is switched on to alertness, to awareness and presence.

DSC_0008an African sky

Things happen when we travel, which cannot happen at home, where we’re comfortable and secure: we become bigger, our boundaries are expanded and our minds have to adjust to accomodate more. It’s a most powerful way to transform the self!

DSC_0029a handmade rope on a tree

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If you’d like to see all the photos and videos I’m sharing from Africa, and to follow the life of the happy artist – go sign up for my Patreon campaign HERE

8

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

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See my books and calendars on Lulu

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Clare xx

NEW YEAR’S REVELATIONS

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Preparing for a pop-up boutique, this summer in Guardia

In the delightful process of moving back into my own space, I got re-reading some books which I love and which hadn’t been opened in several years (what with all the DIYing and guests and whatnot).

Several Paolo Coelho books have accompanied me on long soaks in the candlelit bath in the cellar this winter –  and two, The Witch Of Portobello and The Zahir, surprised me anew.

Reading them both consecutively, they seemed to talk about very similar themes, and to overlap in the thought process of the protagonists.

I love how the author uses the same metaphors and even the same words, to express his ideas. Because these ideas are keys to unlocking the pain of the world, they need said and said and said.

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the mermaid on the hill: wild woman out of her habitat, but in her power

The repeated motif which stood out most for me, was about doing new things, seeing the world in a new way, freeing up your energy, every single precious day.

Both books talk about both dancing it out, and telling your story – releasing your habits by expressing them again and again – as if, both dancing and speaking, you eventually wear out the power of the story which is binding you.

This is so important, in a world where we are literally bombarded continually by influences and demands – to be something other than our true state of (spiritual) wellbeing.

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tear baby, painting about needing to let go of one’s story of grief

This is my totem for the year – the concept of allowing oneself to be a channel for energy and light, and the idea that we have to work daily to refresh what is being lived through us (otherwise our inner ‘garden’ becomes overgrown with ivy or even piled up with junk, and can’t bring us nourishment any more).

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the marriage – couple in a sacred garden, sharing their story

And so that’s how I’m starting my first day back at ‘work’: rather than looking at my agenda, which I made all full and organised for a new, super-efficient new year, I dove into the projects nearest my heart, which free up the most energy and inspiration! Thank you, Paolo Coelho, for reminding me that our intuition is the engine of our life, not a pretty accessory.

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(I’m organising my sewing/ inspiration room, and planning a living room in the first cantina of my beautiful arthouse – yey!)

How is your new year? Are you feeling invigorated and ready for a new cycle? Are you committed to a happy, fulfilled life and work? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Lots of the very best wishes for your brand new year, Clare xx

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Want to Live Like A Happy Artist?

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THE INSIDER’S GUIDE TO GUARDIA SANFRAMONDI

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It’s with great pride and joy that I announce the publication of

THE INSIDER’S GUIDE TO GUARDIA SANFRAMONDI!

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with dear Lorenzo: headache trying to understand dialetto

The guidebook has been percolating for several years, and took around a year to write – it’s not a typical or superficial guide, but a frank view into life in this molto particolare culture and place, climate and economy – by someone who knows it intimately.

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hanging out with beautiful young folk of Guardia, who helped me learn Italiano!

It has 130 pages, 3 maps, detailed instructions on how to get here most efficiently and affordably, what and who to watch out for, how to navigate all the boons and quirks of the town as a foreigner. Here are some initial reactions from my readers:

Mary Tagliarino: “Wonderfully informative with a fascinating window on the culture of Guardia! Better than any ethnography from my Anthropology studies!”

Glenn T Martin: “It was FABULOUS!! I am learning so much…I didn’t even realize Guardia had a larger grocery store!! Please keep up the good work.”

Crystal A. Davis: “GREAT book! Love your writing style! I read it in one go! It’s such a wonderful book, and will be providing deep benefit for many years! … made me miss Guardia so much.”

Buy now on LULU – click here

 HERE’S AN EXCERPT, FROM THE END OF THE BOOK

photo by Anna Wirazska

photo by Anna Wiraszka

ABOUT THE NEW COMMUNITY

“The new international community of Guardia Sanframondi is growing on the shoulders of a series of protagonists and ‘believers’ who were led to the abandoned medieval quarter over the past few decades. None of us are pioneers; none of us are discoverers of an undiscovered culture: Guardia was thriving away over the centuries without us.

At the same time, we now have a truly rare situation, whereby the bright threads of our overlapping stories and dreams have started to form a strong, brightly-coloured fabric. This unique tapestry is having new threads continually being woven into it. Working together, and bringing the best of all our cultures to the table, there’s huge potential for our long-term intercultural ‘surthrival’, which is more important than ever in this troubled world.

As the community grows, and new folks compare who came first, who has the biggest key or the best panorama, it’s important to acknowledge that there were many talented individuals who came to Guardia long before us all, and who continue to go about their business and leisure without fanfare. My own arrival here followed a series of other protagonists with beautiful house projects: I was inspired by cultured folks from Caserta and Torre Del Greco, Naples and Rome. These brilliant folks continue to contribute to the multicultural diversity of our growing community, by developing B&Bs, summer camps and artist residencies, inter-cultural events and special celebrations. It’s often the ones not blowing their own trumpets who make the more significant contributions to a cultural dynamic.

I’ve always seen the potential of the old town as a win-win-win situation, and it does seem like it’s possible that there’s space for us all to flourish, particularly if we treat each other and the town with respect and generosity. If we give back as much – or more – than we get from the place, we can build a collective creative power which can stand strong in defiance of the worst cultural tensions and austerity economics currently proliferating across Europe.

Some of us felt a calling to be in Guardia – even if it was in part the €10K house price-tag tempting us! Many of us felt pulled by something intangible and yet irresistible: we followed signs and good vibes, and we found our dream home, and a high quality, chilled-out way of life.

Many of the new international community are empty-nesters or nearing retirement age, and want to be in a peaceful (and affordable) place when they’re older. Others seek silence and solitude, spiritual reflection, time in nature – sometimes as respite from a heavy work schedule back home. Yet others want the headspace to create: artists, writers, musicians, creatives of all kinds.

We all share a passion for good food, great wine, a gentle lifestyle, a breath-taking view, fresh air, clean water. We’re all stimulating the local community in some shape or form – to better appreciate the beauty and values they might have taken for granted up to now, to fulfil their own creative dreams and projects, to get organised, and to support the regeneration of the old town.

Most folks from abroad are coming to Guardia for a few weeks per annum, others for as many as 6 months. One or two hope to transfer, though no-one has yet lasted more than a couple of years during all four seasons. But within a few years, what with further TV publicity coming again soon, and several foreigners and Italians establishing new businesses; the rejuvenation of Guardia Sanframondi looks set to settle into a more permanent and dynamic international community.

Together, we all have even huger potential, and I have a lot of optimism about the inherent positivity and spirit of our movement winning over any greed and ego which is trying to get a foothold. Bravi noi!

Buy now on LULU – click here

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photo by Charlotte Sørensen

I have a unique position here in Guardia, having been protagonist in the renaissance movement, and here year-round since 2009; my first couple of years here were completely da sola,  without the language. I learned everything the hard way – so you don’t have to!

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winter isn’t always sunny and warm, here!

What many people don’t know is that alongside a colourful art career I’ve also had a parallel incarnation as a visionary – being heavily involved in several large scale community and social housing transformation projects.

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international artists, attracted by the creative vibe in Guardia!

I’ve won social entrepreneur awards, and was shortlisted for major funding for a visionary project to transform social housing in Scotland. I’m able to understand the underlying interconnectedness of things: how behaviour and systems reverberate – how these knock-on effects accumulate over time, and how we can interract positively in the patterns they make.

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photo by Soukizy Redroom of the Ri-CREARE festival, 2014

With this experience and skill, I approached the empty centro storico – not as a problem and public liability (as it was viewed by most locals at the time) – but as a blank canvas and community resource, with immensely valuable potential.

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Ri-CREARE festival, 2014, outside the Arthouse

My enthusiasm and hard work at the beginning of the interest from abroad helped shift perception about the old town in a relatively short period.

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scambia culturale and lots of fun!

I was protagonist on a practical level, to initiate the great flow of stranieri into the empty houses, and I’ve initiated multifarious intercultural events in Guardia…

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photo by Charlotte Sørensen

I continue to bring visitors to Guardia from all over the world, and to inspire locals to see the town and landscape with new eyes. I’ve stimulated masses of cultural and language exchange, inspiring a multitude of people to set up projects, homes and dreams – here and in other countries!

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2014’s Terra Vivente art studio, which I had a key role in establishing

My perspective on how it is to live as a foreigner here is uniquely deep, having been here for 6 yrs, and having been very involved in the community.

I hope the guidebook will help others to find their feet in Guardia Sanframondi.

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The guidebook is also my first step in getting my ideas around community and creative transformation, into print as guidebooks – I’ll be exploring many interconnected ideas throughout the Live Like A Happy Artist book series.

Read a further excerpt, and buy now on LULU- click here

PLUS here are the arthouse’s two beautiful CALENDARS for 2016:

coverjpglowresThe GUARDIA SANFRAMONDI calendar 2016

The Guardia calendar is a high-colour publication is an inspired collection of images of this beautiful town and its surrounding landscape. My very best photos throughout the seasons.

See a full preview and buy now on Lulu:

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

cover2My paintings calendar

And the Art calendar has all my favourite paintings from this year, in full colour.

See a preview and buy now via Lulu:

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

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More new listings have been set up on my Etsy shop!

GO TO MY ETSY SHOP!

AND FINALLY

My newsletter is going out TOMORROW – go SIGN UP (click here) to sign up!

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Tante belle cose, Clare xx

END AS YOU MEAN TO BEGIN…

There’s a heck of a lot of unnecessary tension around the New Year!

As if the excess of Christmas and the cabin fever of being stuck inside with the rest of the family weren’t challenging enough… then there’s resolutions we ‘should’ make.

Rather than being a serious attempt to improve our lives and wellbeing – a New Year’s resolution is mostly a rigid dogma set on our shoulders like a heavy sack of coal.

As with many aspects of our culture, it’s all about the guilt and then the rebellion against that guilt – keeping us in that cycle of neediness: comfort, reassurance, material objects and distractions.

What if we approached it more holistically? Rather than expecting ourselves to take one giant leap into a new lifestyle, why not look at the infinite small steps we can make towards a higher goal: we could even think of it as the presence we can have, in each and every moment:

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Loving our work; following what nourishes us; respecting each other; cooperating; sharing; being aware of our immediate effects in the world – and our long-term effets; navigating from health and happiness rather than what’s bothering us this particular moment; being true to our hearts – to what makes us joyful.

This New Year is like every blessed day we have: a day filled with immense possibility to create, make, invent, philosophise, enlighten, inspire!

Don’t let the magic of your real reality, be squashed into a naff plastic box by banal collective traditions – get on with enjoying the beauty and joy of the everyday, every day!

The shops mentioned in the video are

ETSY

for my paintings and

LULU

for books and calendars…

OPEN FOR XMAS!lowres

HAPPY SHOPPING!

Clare xx

2016 CALENDARS!

Having enjoyed very much putting my life on hold whilst being ill recently, I returned to the studio this week with an infinitely clearer mind.

One of the best things about being sick, is having to slow down. I have a tendency to have 10 projects on the burner at the same time, and am often frustrated by how slowly they evolve but still want them all to be priority.

…And made to a pernickety-perfect standard. The past decade has seen me spend literally hundreds of hours, printing, cutting, formatting, making publicity, to get my popular postcard calendars out before the new year.

selection of images for bloga selection of photos from the Guardia calendar 2016

They were always handmade, kitchen table published, hand bound, on recycled card. Very time consuming, plus add to this the additional challenges of finding the right card in rural Italy (even more hours of wild goose chasing), the unwillingness of Italian clients to buy online, and so on. It became more hard slog than happy pleasure.

This year I’ve been systematically taking all the things out of my schedule which drain more energy than they inspire, and focussing on the things which bring energy and joy into my everyday.

Rather than focussing on what isn’t working, I like to be flexible enough to look at what can be loosened up, or neatened, in order to make the actual goal attainable.

With this open mind, I was uploading a draft copy of the Guardia Sanframondi Insider’s Guide to Lulu (a fabulous online publishing platform), and saw that they have a calendars template – wow – talk about problem solved instantly!

It still took a few days of choosing the very best photos, fiddling with them, aligning and formatting the calendar, putting it through the publishing process, and waiting for proof copies to arrive. But not hundreds of hours 😉

selection of images for bloga selection of photos from my art calendar 2016

It’s a compromise, but not an agonising one: this way I get to share the beauty of Guardia’s stupendous landscape – and a vibrant selection of paintings, with a much wider audience than I could have if I was slaving away at the kitchen table.

It feels great to step out of the tunnel-vision, and to be able to see wider and further: so important if we want to be fulfilled and free as creatives!

Here are the arthouse’s two beautiful calendars for 2016:

coverjpglowresThe GUARDIA SANFRAMONDI calendar:

a high-colour inspired collection of images of this gem of a town, and its surrounding landscape.

My very favourite photos throughout the seasons!

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

cover2And my paintings calendar!

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

THE PAIN BODY WE SHARE

responsibilityDETAILresponsibility (detail), 2002, Cyprus

There’s a lot of emotion being thrown around our collective consciousness this week. More than the previous week, despite the heavy fact that just as much death and terrorism was being created (and on our behalf, by our political representatives) over the previous 7 days.

There is so much wrong with the media and with commonly-held perceptions, that I won’t begin to talk about all that, but I’m writing today about something which lies deeper than this surface discourse, and which might serve in this moment to distract from the chaos.

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responsibility, 2002, Cyprus

Firstly, the collective conscious – what is that? It seems to me that there might even be equal and opposing parts of our collective thinking/ being: those of us who are completely unconscious and those who are (or are beginning to be) self-aware.

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Tear Baby, 2000, Findhorn

And then there’s the pain body (I found this phrase useful, listening to Eckhart Tolle recently): the energetic field within and around us, which is locked into a pattern of uncreation and atrophy – rather than creative vitality and expansion.

Tolle describes eloquently how this pain body becomes our actual identity – our reason for being, our means of identifying with others. We share our collective emotional disturbance, because that’s what’s considered the ‘norm’. This makes us highly susceptible to manipulation, both individually (in relationship, family, work, e.g.) and collectively (through media, economics, politics, etc.): it keeps us all in a state on non-conscious tension and anxiety. We blame our suffering on things outside of us, things we (perceive we) can’t do anything about.

(I’ve found other ways of speaking about this ‘body’, through painting intuitively over many years, channeling that deeper wisdom which comes through creative practise and meditation.)

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Running (from the Domestic Alchemy series), 2007

Having been ill recently. I had some deepening insight into the pain body, and the effects I’ve been having both inside and outside myself. I approach illness like a retreat; I know that whatever physical symptoms I have, originate from first mental/ emotional imbalance. And I know that symptoms experienced are linked to behaviours/ patterns leading up to this point, and that I’m in charge of correcting my course – whether or not I take medicine.

In order to be well and happy, we have to look first inwards, rather than seeking to destroy the symptom – which is our teacher!

Illness – or friction – as teacher is a great metaphor for our current collective state; our political and economic warring, our violent foreign policies, our perverse obsession with focussing on the negative, and our absurd falsity around being the righteous victim on the world stage, willingly gulped down daily by the masses.

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Couple With Boundaries, 2000-4, Cyprus and Edinburgh

We have many choices at our current global crossroads. The knee-jerk one is trying to destroy the symptoms, even though they’ve been caused indirectly and directly by ourselves; inflicting even more death and destruction willy-nilly, starting even more people on paths of righteous vengeance, and so on.

Another is that we all begin to look deeper, be more conscious, more aware. We see behind the curtains of the world stage, and we bring light – awareness – to what is suppressed. In this way, we start to see that what we do individually has a radiating effect on our collective situation, our collective ‘pain body’. Rather than reacting out of anger and fear, rather than condoning further violence under the unconscious (and very dubious) thinking of “well, we have to do something!” or “I just want those bastards dead, those people are evil!” – we start instead to look at where do these ‘symptoms’ originate – really: where do they come from, and what are we doing to change that?

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Laughing At Anger, 2001, Burghead

On a personal level, I’m bringing quiet conscious awareness into the part of me which is out-of-kilter, in pain. It is giving me huge insight into how unconsciously I have occupied my body and my mind in recent years… I’m certainly not the most loutish of citizens, but there have been more than a couple of occasions when I’ve chosen to ‘raise my voice’ with indignant negative emotion, rather than presenting enlightened – peaceful – insight.

As my awareness is more infused with light and love, I radiate out that light and love, rather than my own bigotry or indignancy – even though our individual acts seem so small and inconsequential, now more than ever before, we have power to share widely, whatever we are thinking, feeeling, intending. I have optimism we can collectively rise our vibration at times like this.

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I’ll be writing more about the subject of the pain body and transforming creatively, in the Live Like A Happy Artist book series.

Lots of love, Clare xx

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PS! Get a window into my studio, book excerpts, insight, sharing, and very special patron boons which no-one else gets, right here.

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OCCUPY CONFIDENCE!

Niki De Saint Phalle sculpture, in the centre of Capalbio, Italy, which I feel epitomises joyous self-confidence without ego.

Thriving creatives often have very dynamic lifestyles.

If we don’t want to be exhausted by the shock of so many ups and downs in our lives, we have to both expect the low dips, challenges and set-backs, and we have to know how to use them creatively.

Then we’re better equiped to flow with life, rather than being in conflict with it – rather than letting the monkey-mind take over, making us more and more discontented with any given moment.

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Home photoshoot: I took around 150 snaps, to have only 2 which worked: lots of frustrated moments and frowning photos, but I got there.

A low ebb in particular – be it physical, mental, emotional or situational – can be a powerful indicator, a compass: it can bring our awareness to precisely the point where it needs to be focussed. Whatever we feel is ‘missing’ or ‘not right’, that tells us where we should head next.

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Making a journey is a great way to build a sense of possibility; this is my (relatively) epic voyage from Italy back to Scotland and then back to Italy by car, which helped get me over an initial sense of being smothered by the Italian culture.

And once we stoke up the engine of our dream, once we open our minds to living way beyond our smallness, we can effortlessly step into the next phase of an increasingly happier life.

The important thing is
being able to embrace ALL change,
rather than trying to
keep everything ALWAYS the same!
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Expo in Caserta, when I first came to Italy: one of the most challenging but rewarding moments, when I had to step into confidence, though it felt utterly terrifying! I even had to speak in Italian to a crowd, on a microphone, when I had about 20 words to work with!

Here are a 6 hot tips which have helped me reach the next level, each time life threw me unexpected changes: they focus on the idea of occupying confidence especially when we’re scared s***less!

  • Even if you don’t believe you can improve your life, you should start reprogramming that limiting mind now now NOW… All self-improvement is a simple matter of re-programming ourselves – and the only limits to how much we can improve our reality, are in our mind. We can decide if we want to keep thinking how we’ve been herded into thinking, or whether we cultivate our own mind like a lush bountiful garden.
  • Build a clear picture of where you want to be, and talk about it: look towards your dreams, and towards your favourite role models: don’t  be distracted by folk who are not inspiring you, or who don’t support you! Make a vision board; either a collage on cardboard, or online like on Pinterest/ Facebook: grab what catches your eye: spontaneously gathering imagery, and putting it together in front of you- this way we can really free up our passion, our ability to be attracted to things, but we have to exercise this ability: FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT.
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Filming in Edinburgh: one of my best examples of faking confidence! 😉

  • Take a risk; you don’t have to gamble your life savings on an abandoned medieval quarter in a foreign country, but you really must have some element of chance in your life. Even if it’s just walking a different route to work in the morning! Exposing ourself to the new and the unpredictable, is where lies the greatest potential to interact creatively.
  • Keep humble: all true confidence is harmonious and gentle; it creates good energy wherever it goes, and raises the vibe. It’s never aggressive, doesn’t step on top of anyone else. A truly, deeply confident person radiates inspiration of some sort, wherever they go. Be willing to be both vulnerable and looked at strangely.
  • Keep your mind calm by taking just one step at a time. And take the smallest steps, rather than trying to leap, because the leap comes by itself, but the accumulated small steps to reach there are your responsibility, right now.
  • Set aside dedicated time to practise being confident: make a day of it – go on a date with yourself each week, even. Dress up like you’re the person you’d like to be: claim it by making time for it. Sometimes it’s something as small and symbolic as walking in nature, wearing a bright red skirt.
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Connecting with nature and seasons, the rhythm of long walks (as with long harmonious discussion), bring me back always to peace, to quiet sureness in each moment.

Remember that all real confidence comes from inner faith in our path. For me, my greatest leaps forward have come through sharing with like-minded folk; the act of finding a common language for our unique experiences and perceptions, is powerful.

I hope this was useful for you! If you liked this blog:
click ‘like’ below
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and share with your friends
– thank you so much!

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Tante belle cose, Clare xx

HOW THE ____ DID YOU COME TO BE IN GUARDIA SANFRAMONDI?!

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So, it’s coming up for 6 yrs into my Italian adventure, and still every day someone asks me ‘but how did you come to be in Guardia Sanframondi?’

They ask it in a variety of ways – from incredulous to inspired to cynical – locals and foreigners alike.

The response I give them depends on my assessment of a) whether or not they’ve seen the house hunting TV show, b) how much time we have, and c) what I think this person’s capacity for hearing truth might be.

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I launch into whatever version is appropriate to the mood, then we quickly end up on a tangent, with questions about whatever aspect intrigues or challenges them…. There are many myths as to how and why I came to Guardia, and initiated this fascinating dynamic of intercultural, happy-life experimentation, so here are some corrections:

  • I was here for 2 and a half years, before I had even heard of the TV show.
  • My house had been 16 yrs abandoned, and I’d already been living in it and restoring it for a year and a half, before the filming.
  • The real cost of the house was precisely €10,000 (around £8,600 at the time, or $11,380 today), and I’ve a total of approx. €2,000 on renovations: lots of things I was gifted – from a windows and doors to toilets, furniture, plates and the tripod I filmed the video with – everything else was either reused or recycled.
  • The other two houses on the show were never for sale; not then, not now; they belong to folks who live in the city but come to Guardia occasionally. Neither was my ‘estate agent’ an estate agent – though in real life he did help me with the initial contract on the house, before I’d learned enough Italian.

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  • I was never so bothered about the “earthquake damage?!!” – that is, until an actual earthquake happened – that freaked the hell out of me, quite honestly. But I was totally amazed at how a medieval abode can loup about, and yet sit down solidly again afterwards; feels like, if anything, the tremors actually helped my building to settle.
  • Before I came to Italy I had a flourishing career in Scotland and other countries, as an artist and a visionary. I’ve been involved in various fields, always working with concepts around creating abundance and inspiring positive change. My artwork and social entrepreneur projects have received many rewards, and I am known for having inspired positive change in the least likely of places. Making the choice to appear on House Hunters was an intentional tactical move, to bring Guardia into the spotlight, with the vision of stimulating a new community: it wasn’t a chance event, by any means.

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  • When I arrived, I met literally no-one in town who spoke English, bar a couple of younger folks in the bar, who – meno male! – took me under their wings, and helped me learn quicker.
  • I drove here from Scotland, with my cat and all my worldly possessions (that would fit in my car, but leave room for the cat, and for rear-view-mirror visibility). It took 3 ½ days. Then I drove to Scotland and back again, to pick up my paintings.
  • Very little of my first 5 yrs in Guardia was the glorious utopia which I’ve now achieved. To varying degrees, I was weighed down by – in no particular order: being harassed by lecherous old men; being psyched out by a stalker who followed me here from Scotland, then vented his rage on his blog, after I told him I was going to report him to the carabinieri; being threatened and intimidated by a dodgy guy who was trying – and succeeding – to rip off foreigners; being bad-mouthed by an American woman who had taken a severe disliking to me – she told a few folks that I was mad and evil, and that she was scared I was going to take a pistol to her; a clique of foreigners who subsequently cold-shouldered me (to do with the previously-mentioned person), despite my having gone well out of my way to welcome them to the town; a nasty and completely untrue story which was passed around by many in town (particularly those who wanted to scoop up all the B&B clientelle) that I’d sabotaged this previously-mentioned woman’s work (!); huge water and rubble damage being done in my beautiful house, due to shoddy workmanship on the house above me, then subsequent aggressive bad-mouthing of me in emails, by the owners, when I very diplomatically flagged it up; raging aggression from my neighbours, for no particular reason I could understand at the time, but before I could decipher shouted Italiano; being consistently patronised-beyond-belief by men (like, being patted on the head and told I was a good girl – that hadn’t happened to me since I was about 6 yrs old); being ripped off by lots of folks, from petrol attendants (Solopaca: vergonga!) to chimney sweeps – until I learned to assert myself; being asked to tone down my blog and only write nice, happy things about the town – and to not mention all the sordid tomfoolery which was going on around selling houses; occasional preoccupying gut-wrenching fear that I’d made the really, really wrong choice to come here; being manipulated and pushed and pulled by almost everyone in town – from the initial house hunters’ onslaught, to annoying old men who insist I should be helping them sell their house, ADESSO, whilst leching horribly over me; annoying old ladies who ask really intrusive questions in order to try and humiliate me; mean folk in one bar who went round saying I was sleeping with ‘everyone in town’ early on; the ex-wife of my (now ex) partner who had a screaming fit at me during the busiest market of the year; persistent ill health and severe poverty and overwhelm and disillusion of every imaginable variety, which at several points has convinced me I should pack up and leave…. etc.

The point of this list and the video is a) to get it all off my chest, so I don’t have to keep repeating myself (either in my own head, or with others), b) to illustrate that ANY REALLY HAPPY LIFE contains all manner of stress and unpleasantness, and c) to explain that it was not luck which brought me here: I am not ‘lucky’ to have a life like I do: it was faith in the divine creative intelligence, and then lots of humility and super hard graft.

For me, the Guardia ‘magic’ is not about finding a place in the sun, where everything goes slowly, nothing costs much, and where there are few loud noises and little crime: it’s about superando (overcoming) the hard stuff and creating the dream, slowly, painstakingly… no matter what comes up.

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It’s about keeping on your happy path, and nurturing your vision by appreciating the moments of perfection, which nestle like jewels amidst all the chaos and projections and nastiness and pollutions. Over the years, these jewels become polished, and all the dirt in the world around them just makes them shine all the brighter.

Here’s the definitive, uninterrupted story: or at least as much of it as could be crammed into a 25 min video!

Keep an eye on my Etsy SHOP - it's getting 
stocked up with new paintings AND prices will be raised after December.

Follow me on PATREON to get rewards, 
and to have a window into the
life of a happy artist.

Interested in a COMMISSION? 
Go see my work-with-me page AND 
prices will be raised after December!

Love Guardia Sanframondi? 
Follow this blog, to hear the latest on 
the Pocket Guide to Guardia 
- going to press soon!

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HARVEST IN FULL SWING!

This time of the year – the harvest – is the most harmonious season.

It’s the part of the year where the masculine and feminine energies are most synchronised, and we in turn are in more harmony with the planet than usual: the intense masculine activity of harvesting, with the passive beauty and fullness of the fruits ripened; the logical science of processing the fruit for wine, hand-in-hand with the heartfelt sense of community in a shared goal; the still-hot sun burning the fields into their final phase, alongside the softness of the cooler-damper-darker mornings and evenings, holding the day as if in an embrace.

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all images by the artist – of paintings with new homes this month

In this part of the world, in rural Italy, it’s the season where people seem most in-tune with the land and natural cycles. This harmony in turn reverberates into the town, and beyond: a sense of fullness, ripeness, completion.

The veils between the dimensions seem thinner too, as we’re able to see more tangibly the myriad links between ourselves and all that is around us.

Because there are less tangible boundaries between the worlds, we feel less friction between them. A spontaneous peace descends.

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So the metaphor of harvest is running strong in my life and work this month – and I’ve been thinking of it on a deeper level than usual…

Coming up now for 6 years in Guardia Sanframondi, I can see how my lack of abundance/ need for a harvest at times became a preoccupation. All I wanted was to see a full storehouse, and to not have fear as I headed into winter.

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This autumn I see harvest not as the mere gleaning of riches for myself, but as the flow of good things, through me, through us all – it’s a means of connecting.

In the past the harvest was always a collective activity – the bounty was always a shared wealth. In Guardia it remains so in some senses; everyone is out in the field (bar perhaps the occasional foreigner), and there is a sense of communal richness; a powering up of vitality through the sharing of abundance. The energy of the harvest radiates outwards, rather than being hoarded and, as with other peaks in crops throughout the year, bags and crates of produce are gifted from neighbour to neighbour.

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Many foreigners arriving in the town are shocked by this generosity! They perhaps haven’t experienced food-growing directly in their lives, and so aren’t aware of the need to find homes for food when it’s ripe, rather than it going to waste.

As (even rural Italian) modern life gets busier and more consumerist, it isn’t such a priority to dedicate all-day-every-day to the processing of food into over-wintering format. Folks just want rid of it – and it’s natural that it should become a currency of friendship, rather than a means to glean more dollars per kilo.

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As my stores are filled with paintings this harvest season, the paintings are in turn moving on to new homes.

Now it’s one thing to have a painting find a home – and to be paid for it, but it’s quite another thing having it find the right home – a place were it resonates deeply with the person purchasing it.This is a far greater and deeper joy: the true satisfaction of the most heartfelt kind: feeling life-purposefully-abundant.

This makes me very happy, to be an integral part of the whole, and to be in synchrony with the seasons – just like taking part in the community harvesting!

Keep an eye on my Etsy SHOP - it's getting 
stocked up with new paintings AND prices will be raised after December.

Follow me on PATREON to get rewards, 
and to have a window into the
life of a happy artist.

Interested in a COMMISSION? 
Go see my work-with-me page AND 
prices will be raised after December!

Love Guardia Sanframondi? 
Follow this blog, to hear the latest on 
the Pocket Guide to Guardia 
- going to press soon!

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Tante belle cose, Clare