Why Paris is so fabulous

Why Paris is So Fabulous

Paris along the seine at sunset

Dear Lovelies,

This weekend really brought home to me why Paris deserves her reputation for fabulousness on the world stage. 

Paris over the past couple of years has been through a lot. Devastating terrorist attacks, regular weekend strikes from the ‘yellow jackets’ that often ended in rioting, and like the whole world, its large dose of #COVID19.

Every city and country lived COVID in their own unique way, everyone has their stories and they are all valid and impactful. 

But this weekend, Paris showed us what she’s made of. She really is a ‘moveable feast’ as Ernest Hemingway once said, as restaurants in Paris are currently banned from having indoor dining, so guess what, she picked up all her tables and chairs and moved outside. Every and any available space was fair game, umbrellas went up, flamingoes were blown up, waiters were smiling as were the Parisians as the terraces went rogue.

Parisians out and about along the seine and eating in cafe terraces

Scenes of old friends who hadn’t seen each other for months were moving as they hugged and glowed with joy to be together again, the terraces just grew and grew and grew as another table was added each time another party of guests arrived. 

Paris is a conundrum, you can never really put your finger on it, she’s changeable just like a woman and she is full of surprises. Just as the French were strict in regards to the confinement laws, they turned an equally blind idea to streets being roped off and parking spaces being reclaimed by the restaurants and cafes and their citizens celebrating.

cafe life in paris

Paris’s motto, Fluctuat nec mergitur (she is tossed but does not sink), was introduced in the 14th century and no matter how much you throw at this city, she keeps dodging and weaving, reinventing yet never forgetting her past. She is modern and old fashioned, chic and a ball-tearer, pretty and ugly, she is cultured and street smart, and it’s all these facets of her pretty face that makes us all want to hold her tight for being the original gal that the world loves so much.

Parisian cafes at night

Keep being you Paris, in all your glory.

Carla x

If you enjoyed this, you may also like this post on my favourite places to visit in Paris

What If 2020 Is The Year We’ve Been Waiting For?

Hello Lovelies,

I saw these words by Leslie Dwight on @lisamessenger’s Instagram and they really struck me.

During COVID in Paris, I ran the entire gamut of emotions, options, thoughts, and feelings on where we are at in the world. Locked out of my local park, in an apartment (like almost everyone in Paris) with no balcony or outdoor space, we became disconnected totally from nature. Paris without its restaurants and cafes, its florists and boutiques and all human interaction became the ‘wasteland’ for me. A place that no longer made any sense at all. 

Metal shutters pulled down on shops, street after street, roads that were empty and that felt like it would take very little time before tumbleweeds would soon roll down these once teeming Boulevards.

Every day, I filled out my document to have the right to one hour outside within 1 km of my house (I will always be grateful for this right) with police on every corner checking our every movement and probably like you, I became bewildered, shocked, confused, and at times lost my compass. 

There were good days and bad days. Days I declared I would march straight down to the divorce office the minute this was over and then other days, I thought I was the luckiest girl on the planet to be in lock down with Francesco. It was like riding an emotional tsunami and the only way to hold on and stay sane was to stay in the present. 

In the afternoons, I would spend time in a mini studio I created in my office and photograph flowers. I would remember the words of Mary Anne Radmacher “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the silent voice at the end of the day that says ‘I will try again tomorrow’.”

And so each day I would start afresh with the goal to stay present. At some point, I ‘lent into’ the stillness. I started to question my running around the planet, the planes, trains and automobiles and what an exhausting investment of energy this takes. 

I learnt so much, what I want for the future, what I care about, what I can no longer tolerate or what I am no longer willing to keep silent about. I learnt about how I want to live and now is the time. I learnt I was privileged and that many people in the world were in tougher situations than me.

A part of me was happy for my discomfort, I knew somewhere amongst the angst there was magic and I didn’t know exactly what it was but I have had enough tough times in life to know that where there is intense discomfort, the power is released and transformation can happen. 

Just as we were released from COVID, George Floyd was killed in America and all of a sudden COVID seemed to fade away. I’ve heard the media talk about a second wave of COVID, and when that police knelt on George Floyd’s neck and killed him, I felt this is the true second wave. This is the wave we’ve been waiting for.

The outrage and global anger that followed his death and that of Breonna Taylor’s has given us all a chance to do better together. To ask ourselves, how have we got it wrong? How haven’t I been proactive? 

So as Leslie Dwight says in her above quote about 2020: A year that finally screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber,” I too feel like I have come out of a slumber. 

What’s happening in America and now in the world I believe is the beginning of healing, a chance for us all to come together and find true equality for black people and the under-privileged. 

2020 made us look at our shit!! George Floyd and COVID allowed us to see all the damage we have done over the centuries on every level, nature, pollution, humanity, wellbeing, wildlife, climate change and all the compromises we have made individually in every country. 

I certainly can do better and more than I’ve been doing and I’m so very grateful for 2020 for prodding me out from my slumber. 

I can ask more questions, make a greater effort to learn about what I don’t have personal experience with. I have been naive in my ‘whiteness’ and haven’t done enough. I can be more proactive. 

I will remember 2020 as the year I truly woke up. 

What are your thoughts on 2020? What has 2020 taught you? Leave me a comment below.

In light, love and healing,

Carla x

What is it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?

Photo by Loc Boyle

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?”

I didn’t know these words by Mary Oliver twenty years ago but they were exactly how I felt when I made the decision to leave a business and life that wasn’t the right fit for me to go chase a dream – I became a photographer.

There have been millions upon millions of micro seconds of joy, standing on a beach at dawn and seeing the sky change colours, walking into a barber’s shop in Naples and ending up at the wedding of the guy in the chair, travelling to India on my own in search of images, people, and experiences. Taking a water taxi in Venice and almost forgetting to take a photo the beauty was so overwhelming, laughing with the cooks in the kitchen of the Ritz Hotel in Paris and treading water on the Amalfi Coast as kids jump off rocks and I try and capture it.

Many people told me when I became a photographer that I couldn’t make money. At the time, I didn’t care; I was so in love with taking photos, the joy it brought that I just kept doing what I loved and what brought me joy. I have held onto this philosophy throughout my career when I have slipped off-course and started doing things that where uncreative and exhausting, I would ask myself, ‘Where’s the joy?’

This led me to publishing 8 beautiful books with Penguin, 12 years of travel photography with some of the best magazines on the planet, and creating my own portrait business.

Then one day I started looking for my inner joy again, I asked myself the question I do on a regular basis, ‘What would I love to do or photograph?’ The answer was simple, I wanted to go to the beach and shoot for the pure pleasure and joy of photography and being in a place I loved.

Photo by Claire Lloyd

When I decided to create an online shop and put these images in it, the naysayers rose again, ‘You can’t make money selling photography or art online!!’ They actually annoyed me so much I decided to prove them wrong.

The first time my shop made the cash register sound of ‘ch-ching’, I jumped up and down and screamed around the house like a mad woman. I literally was the most excited girl on the planet.

Why, you ask? Because somebody just paid me to do the very thing I became a photographer for, to travel to a place I love and take photos. When I wrapped up that first print and sent it off, I hugged it to my heart, I thanked the kind soul who bought it for allowing me to turn my dream into a reality.

Since that first print, I have had sold out editions of my Young Girl in Bloom and my Italian Vacation series, my images have been sent to the four corners of our beautiful planet and I get beautiful photos and notes from people who hang my work in their home, their joy is my joy.

My third year in business I could have lived off my shop exclusively!!

Photo by Claire Lloyd

I have those ‘naysayers’ to thank for getting me annoyed, motivating me to leave no stone unturned to make it work and in the meantime, they liberated me and almost any creative who decides they want to sell their work online to live the life they want.

So, my lovelies, if you are tired of that old story that you can’t do what you love and make money, you have tried and can’t figure it out or don’t want to waste time, money and energy, come and join me at Walls of Love, my private coaching group on how to sell your photography and art online.

I will leave you with this beautiful quote by Mary Oliver:

“Tell me, what is you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?”

Wishing you a beautiful day.

Carla x

Sell Your Photography or Art Online – Group Coaching Program

Dearest Friends,

Recently I gave a free workshop on how to sell your art photography online and I had an overwhelming response from people after the presentation wanting to know more.

In fact, I had many people write to me asking whether I could create a course to coach people through the process to make their shop a sure fire winner.

When I created my shop in 2016, I had a dream to make it work for many reasons; one was to create the work I love and sell it but there was another part of me that also did it for you. I wanted to prove that creatives could do the work they love and make it a sustainable online business. Within 3 years, I managed to grow my sales 10x!!

So my loves, if you would like to know more about how you can do the work you love and sell it successfully online, come and take a peek at my new baby, ‘Walls of Love’ – a private group coaching program with all the bells and whistles to support you in the process of creating the work you love and selling it.

CHECK OUT WALLS OF LOVE HERE.

Carla xx

To All Mothers and Women

This is a collective note to my beautiful mum, all mothers and women, and to mother nature on this very special Mother’s Day.

What an honour it is to be mothered. I have had the great fortune over my lifetime to have had a mother who adored her role, one could almost say she would have made a great ‘poster girl’ for motherhood. I also have had other ‘mothers’ who came in different roles such as my Italian mamma Popi and another beautiful creative mother/mentor, Marta Innocenti Ciulli.

Each woman mothered a slightly different part of me that needed nurturing and encouraging and allowed those parts to bloom and flourish.

My mother gave the role of being a mother great importance. Mum always said, ‘We are the caretakers of children, we have the joy to look after them till they become adults; they are never ours, they are their own person and one day they will fly away and that’s our role as mothers to let them fly.’

My mother tried to instill in me that instinct that us women are all meant to naturally have, ‘the mothering’ instinct but in my teenage years and my twenties, I flatly refused it or didn’t feel in the slight way connected to it. I saw the responsibility of giving life and being a good mother as something that was terrifying, that it would clip my wings, take away my freedom and not let me live my dreams. It probably had something to do with never finding the right man during those years with whom I felt like I could dream or trust enough, to help me in a process that felt so scary.

I now realise how naïve these thoughts were, as motherhood in itself is the ultimate creative process, one of joy and reward if a woman is brave enough to embrace it. I just never had enough courage and the day I finally did find that courage, my body had moved on.

Over the past couple of months, we have all had a very interesting time and so often I have reached for the phone to call my mother. There is so much solace for me when she answers and though we are far away, it’s ever so comforting to talk about the weather, our days, and what we may be cooking for dinner.

Most days I go in search of the mother or all mothers. Each morning, I walk up the hill in Paris to Buttes Chaumont to find mother nature albeit locked away in these strange days of confinement behind iron gates. It’s been an interesting process to watch mother nature from behind closed gates grow a little wilder. The grass has grown long, the pink frothy blooms have come and gone and been enjoyed only by the birds and other critters in the park having a lark of a time. Her paths are overgrown and she looks a little like all of us who need a good haircut except that this is her natural state. I have loved watching her ‘rewild’ herself, whilst we were all locked out, she dropped her coat of armour and reminds me of a young girl once again dancing in the sunshine with flowers in her hair.

The concept of ‘mothering’ or ‘nurturing’ ourselves has been at the forefront of my mind over the past couple of weeks. The entire process of stillness that this time has imposed upon our busy lives has been a chance to reconnect with our feminine energy, the ‘being’ part of us that is creative, nurturing, intuitive, passive, and open to receiving. A part of us that is often devalued in favour for the doing and productive part that appears to have a much greater value in society.

I recently commented to one of my friends that ‘Maybe this is how our mothers felt,’ that there was no need to rush madly from one thing to the next, to be overachieving and over-producing all the time but to embrace the power of quietness, home, and all the great things that make us women.

I have forgiven the part of me that once unconsciously linked motherhood and our feminine energies and believed they were weak instead of being powerful beyond belief.

So on this very important Mother’s Day, when the world is having its own revolution of what it is and how to be moving forward, I honour my mother, all women, girls, and Mother Earth for sustaining us throughout everything, and I encourage you to connect to the deep inner knowing of what a glorious thing it is to be a girl, a woman, mother (or not) and never forget that part of you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Carla x

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