Press Play


It is mid-summer here in the northern hemisphere. Dublin has been a delight with lingering summer evenings and awash with blooming roses and fresh colour. It is one of my favourite times of the year, as the light invites us out to play.

The Power of Play

Play, I have come to remember, is an integral part of learning and leadership, yet is all to often dismissed as ‘silly’, ‘a waste of time’, ‘unfocused’, ‘misguided’ or ‘unprofessional’. But play is where we make connections, get our brains and bodies moving in new ways, engage our imaginations, nurture the senses, allow our inner child to be given an airing, and invite in fun and laughter. Play is a rich field, ripe for learning.

When times are busy, play is often the thing which we push back on first (or at least I do!). ‘I’m too busy now’, ‘Just a few more hours at the computer…’ But have you ever noticed how much more enriched your thinking and learning is after you take a break, and even more so, after you play?

I say ‘I have come to remember‘ intentionally. No child needs to be convinced about the power of play. I wonder now instead, how did we forget? To ‘re-member’ is to recall the experience back into our bones- to literally reconnect it to our members. Our bodies never really forget. 


Living with an 11 month old dog has taught me a lot about play. Little Finn insists on it. When I have been sitting for too long and ignoring her, she literally drops toys at my feet. Play is a non-negotiable for how she engages with the world and is an integral part of how she expresses her being. I am not sure what is happening in her doggie brain when she is at play, but I have a sense of what is happening in mine- an enlivening and an enrichment of the intimacy in which I engage with the present moment, which in turn shifts my neurology. When I return to my work after some time playing, I am more focused, re-invigorated and generally more productive.

But play is not just important for the fun or the productivity, but also because of its ability to connect disparate things. 

Over the years I have been fortunate to work with and interview hundreds of creative and social entrepreneurs- people who are stepping up to make a difference in the world- from social activists, to artists, to medics, to designers, to writers, to sustainable farmers – all people who have a vision and are working to actualise their leadership in their own unique ways.

I asked myself, ‘What behaviours do all these people have in common and can these be learned over time?’

In examining their traits I started to see a pattern emerging- a set of learned skills and practices that can be reinforced and augmented. These are what I call the 12 Paradigms of Creative Leadership and together they not only help people launch new ventures and develop creative processes, but vitally help to sustain them. These paradigms include presence, purpose, perameters, pattern recognition, power, perspective and centrally, play**

Play is like the weave through it all; a way to deeply connect us to our imagination, intuition and inner insights. Importantly, it also acts like our very own personal labororatory, giving us permission to experiment, fail, try again, test new ground and alter our moves. Common to all the creative and social entrepreneurs I have met, it is through play that some of their best innovations and ideas happened, often unplanned or previously unassociated. It was when playing that their ‘a-ha moments’ landed.  Play was the prism for insight.

Play as a Gateway…

As a photographer, many of my favourite images have been taken because of play. When I travel I carry a  colourful hand puppet with me. Often when waiting in queues or travelling on buses, and when there are children around, the hand puppet will pop out and together with the kids, we start to play. That hand puppet has led to the most amazing encounters with children, their parents, and their communities- crossing cultural and language barriers and immediately breaking down any tension or fear. Through it I learned to count to ten in Hindi, Bengali, Swahili, Xhosa and Malayalam and taught many children how to count to ten in English, Irish and Mandarin!  I have been invited into people’s homes as a result of that puppet, which in turn led to conversations and many opportunties as a photographer which I would not have had otherwise. Play has been a gateway and a saviour.


Having play as one of our central paradigms can re-orientate our priorities , quickly shift perspective and lighten the load when we need it the most. Play can revitalise and re-energise, sparking new connections and generating insights. Play can open doorways and opportunities. Play can be just for the fun of it too. But maybe we need to remember to do it more often, insistent dog or no dog at our side.

So, as the summer lingers and the light cheers us on, let these words be that familiar knock on the  front door when you were a child, uttering some welcome words: Are you coming out to play?



** Come October 5th I will be launching a new online course, See Deeper, Act Bolder, in which I will be faciliating learning through the 12 Paradigms of Creative Leadership. Each week we will cover one or more of the paradigms, engaging creatively with each theme. Our cameras, journals, paint brushes, and blank pages will be used as learning tools, taking us on a journey into our own inner vision and possibilities, so that we can each see deeper and act bolder.

Intrigued? Find out more here.


Creative Islanders: Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh


The Creative Islanders is an new interview series showcasing some of Ireland’s brightest creative talent and enterprise. It is about people who are stepping into their dreams, purpose and possibilities and embracing their one wild life.

The interviews give a rare ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse into creative practice, motivations and mindsets- shining a light on what makes people tick, and how, collectively Ireland is alive with creative possibility.


First up is Caoimhín Ó’Raghallaigh– a masterful musician and I am very happy to say, a very dear friend and someone who I draw consistant inspiration from. Caoimhín makes his music on a 10 string fiddle called the hardanger d’amore, exploring the region where traditional music begins to disintegrate. He is a member of The Gloaming and This is How we Fly, touring internationally to some of the most beautiful stages in the world, including The Sydney Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall and the Lincoln Centre.

Over to the wonderful words and insights from Caoimhín…

What makes you tick? What motivates you?

Creating something new makes my brain light up like the fireworks on New Year’s Eve – every time I make something new, something that didn’t exist before that moment, however humble it might be, I actually feel my brain rewarding me, telling me “Yes! This is it! This is the right stuff! Yes! Yes!”. Making new things makes me insanely happy, like a little kid.

What keeps you in Ireland?

It’s my home, it’s where I’m from, and on account of that it’s where I feel I belong, it’s where I understand people the best, it’s where I find the richest level of communication with others by dint of our shared background, culture and history.

What does the creative process teach you?

That we’re built to evolve, and that any effort to create new information by us, in any field, is hugely appreciated and rewarded by our deep selves, the part that is invested in the million year outlook for humanity. Access to that point at which information comes into existence is possible for anyone. Stepping off a cliff into the unknown darkness is immensely productive and rewarding.

How do you get unstuck? Any secret tools?

Mostly I wait, and trust that there’s no reason to panic. Two secret tools: one, a blank sheet, or two, a deadline! I’ve found that if you force yourself to make a mark on a blank sheet, be it ink on paper or sound on time, that something WILL come out. The hardest thing is actually taking out that blank sheet, making the time for it when it’s the last thing in the world you feel like doing.


What do you do just for the love of it?

Hurling in the park, walking in the mountains, hanging out with friends and family.

Where do you find inspiration? Any hidden gems?

Visual art often enriches me, and will sink deep into the marrow of my bones and inform some fundamental change in what I want to create. Space and texture are two things that I love to learn about in this way. In creating, I try to embrace a lack of control. The unknown and uncontrolled gives rise to far more interesting results than anything I could come up with myself.

How do you get through tough times? What sustains you?

I feel pretty fortunate to be able to keep the light at the end of the tunnel in sight, extraordinarily lucky that no matter how dark the day, I retain the knowledge that what goes down must come up. The philosophy, too, that things that happen to us aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’: there’s no knowing what a specific happening will lead to in the future, what horror or joy was missed on account of its occurence.

What key lessons have your learned about being a creative practitioner along the way? What have you learned from your ‘failures’?

Trust yourself and your feelings. Be brave. Focus on the positives and put your energy into those, rather than fretting about the negatives: prune off the rotten branches – you are doing nobody a favour by persevering with something that you know is fundamentally doomed. Find balance. You are the only person who can prioritise other things in life: family, friends, your own wellbeing.

Do you have a morning routine? Or other creative habits or rituals?

I tend to write in big clumps, I’ll go away for a week or a month or longer, and write a whole load of material, rather than a regular daily approach, and then figure out a routine for that particular spell of time. On days where I have a performance, I’ll generally try to keep it as empty as possible, and do my best to ensure my head is clear and worry-free when performance time comes. A little nap right before the concert, or a nice lazy bath in the middle of the day, for instance. I’ll try to find a great place for coffee in the morning, and a wonderful place to eat a few hours before the gig. The aim is to have a totally calm and clear mind when I walk out and begin to play.

What advice do you wish you had received as you were stepping onto your own creative path?

Believe in yourself and don’t take any shit from anybody, don’t let anyone walk all over you. What you have is worthwhile, special and beautiful, go out there, shine, feed love and passion and enthusiasm into what you do. Trust that such things will be returned a hundred-fold to you, and be glad and happy: you are immensely fortunate and ridiculously lucky. You lead a charmed existence that you are obliged to delight in to the absolute limit of your being.

What books have inspired you?

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, all of Samuel Beckett’s work, Wabi-Sabi by Leonard Koren, Andy Goldsworthy’s books, those by Oliver Sacks.

And what advice would you give to your future self?

Be curious, learn, be open. Be kind. Take a holiday!


Thank you so much Caoimhín- so grateful for your music, you insights, your humour and your friendship!  xx 

Find our more about Caoimhín on his website here,

Some of his collaborations include: The Gloaming. This is How We Fly. Dan Truman- listen in below for a performance.

Photo Credits: Con Kelleher


Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Dan Trueman -:-:- Laghdú from IrishMusic on Vimeo.

On Flipping Fear

First up, thank you all for the thumbs up, support, and shout outs about my new ventures- so very much appreciated. I can only do this work with the cheerleading support of others who help to spread the word- so again THANK YOU. My beautiful friend Sas sent me some flowers too- it was a big surprise and greeted with much glee.

Launching anything is a complex and interesting process- especially products, services or art that is so close to your heart. In the creative world our hearts and values are so often exposed that it can feel tender and oh so very vulnerable, so much so that it can stop us in our tracks out of fear of criticism, ridicule, rejection or failure.

I am coming to realise more and more that those fears are a natural part of the process- to deny them is to deny the very nature of what it takes to create. However, it is how we navigate them that makes all the difference.

Fear can be fuel too.

Yesterday, all those fears and vulnerabilities were there for me, louder that I had originally anticipated. The negative ‘what if’s’ started to be voiced. ‘What if people don’t ‘get it’, ‘what if the website crashes’, ‘what if it won’t work out for me’.. and so on (blah blah!)

But if we give into those voices, nothing gets done and the creative process itself is denied its full expression and the opportunity to run its true course.

So what to do? How do we find space between the critical voices to find room to push onwards with an open heart?


For me, it is about returning to my practices, to ground and settle into the deeper knowing, the one beyond the critical voices and the crippling fear factor.

Firstly, I set the space. I light a candle, remove clutter, and carve enough clean room around me to lay a yoga mat. Sometimes I use intention cards- yesterday Elena Brower’s Art of Attention cards came in handy, as too some beautiful and wise words from John O’Donohue.

Then a yoga session, calling in my highest intention, the spirit in which I created the work and a sense of generosity. This is the grounding and the place to, always, come home to myself. Yesterday, wide-legged postures (with firm bases), and supportive seated poses were what was called for, so that I could imprint this sense of stability and grounding into my body to carry me through the day. I was imagining a flowering tree (it was Bloom’s day after all), with its roots firmly and widely planted, a strong robust trunk/spine which together created enough of an internal infrastructure to enable the optimal flowering and blossoming. Nature metaphors work wonders in yoga practice!

Next- a short meditation to quieten the critic and invite in again the bigger picture, and the mystery of it all. Yesterday, I needed about 10 minutes- enough to still the fizzy energy and bring it back to centre.

And then, what I call the flip practice. This one is essentially is about flipping over the critic voice in my brain and entertaining the opposite motion/ emotion. So, in my case yesterday, ‘What if people do get it, what if the website runs smoothly, what if it works brilliantly for me…’ With the opposite motion installed in our cognitive brains, fuel is given to our creative fires, fear is put in its proper place, and we can press go.

And so we had lift off.

Once again, thank you all for your support and encouragement. We are in this together.

Now to keep this ship a sailing….(and what fun it is to be blogging again!)

Thank you.

Clare xx

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Have you signed up to my mailing list?

I have designed a free Vision Guide: A 5 Step Toolkit to Clarify your Dream Future which includes a 10 minute audio meditation. Alongside that are free creative planners to help us integrate our creative goals and manifest our deepest desires into our days. Sign up here and you will be emailed a link to access them.

And we have lift off…


Hello hello, and welcome.

With deep gratitude, and with abundant excitement I now officially launch this new website, my new Etsy shop, and the launch of my new venture, Zen Hen.

It has been an evolution.

First off, I start with Thanks– huge, deep and abundant.


No creation happens in isolation. To Catherine Pearson who crafted the brand and so beautifully engineered the site. Thank you. Catherine designed my previous website and so she was my first port of call. She brings quirk, style, refinement and patience. Would I recommend her? Always.

To Orlagh O’Brien, who so professionally and carefully designed the Seasonal Planners and resources- thank you. As a designer Orlagh does not just make things look nice but designs with the user in mind – first asking how things will be understood, and then leading with her design flair. Would I recommend her? Absolutely.

To Claire Wilson for her portraiture of me. Claire has a stunning talent that her camera lovingly and skillfully navigates, which I have been admiring for years. I am usually the one taking the photos, so it was a very new experience for me to step to the other side. I knew I would be in safe hands with Claire. Would I recommend her? It goes without saying…

And to my circle of friends, who have been cheerleading and offering unending support- thank you. Friendship really is key. And I include doggie friendship too- a thanks and rub to my little canine companion, Finn.

This all feels like a new home, a new iteration, and a new beginning. I can’t tell you how good it feels, with a healthy hint of nerves in the mix too.

I first started blogging in 2006. That led to a trip around the globe, which I blogged my way through, which led to a book, which led to a photography business and blog, which led to my previous website, One Wild Life, which led to many many doors opening. It has been a wonderful journey. But it was time not only for a fresh coat of paint, but a new house, from which I can build new dreams and cast my net further. So after much contemplation, letting go, letting come, this site has evolved. Here there will be writing, workshops, retreats, learning, creating, friendship, fun, support, adventure and change.

My door is open. Come in, explore, sit a while, read, relax, question. You are most welcome.

Be sure to sign up to my mailing list to get your FREE Vision Guide and Creative Planners, including an audio meditation and creative planners. When you sign up you will also get monthly updates with offerings, happenings and further resources.

Other things to check out:

Come Friday I will be also be launching a new interview series here, called ‘Creative Islanders’, profilling a behind the scenes look into some of the best creative brains and talent on this island. Be sure to tune in.

Zen Hen is now also live- this is my new offering which brings yoga, craft and beautiful celebrations to boutique venues around Ireland. Zen Hen has a website all of its own. Be sure to have a wander.

Yes, it has been an exciting few months as I have been busy preparing all of this behind the scenes. It is even more exciting now that it is out there in the world!

Welcome aboard, happy reading & discovering,

Beannacht, Blessings

Clare xx

Childhood Inclinations.

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What did you enjoy when you were younger?

And are you doing it now?

The chance that our natural inclinations or leanings were evident at a young age is high. Did you love to sing or dance? Did you love to play sport? Or do jigsaws? Were you passionate about bird-watching, or whales, or baking? What made you tick as a kid? And is that in your life now?

For me, when I was little, I can remember four main things- writing, drawing, making crafty things, and dogs. I was so passionate about dogs in fact that I wanted to be one. Alas not all dreams can come true! Art, however, I knew even back then was intrinsic to being. I would draw just for the sake of it, make things just for the love of it, without any expectation of the outcome. The point was the making; the doing.

Somewhere along the way I forgot all that.

The turning point had come with having to do my Leaving Certificate (final school exams). I had studied art all the way through school with the guidance of a brilliant art teacher (thank you Sidella O’Brien) and I really loved it. However, when exams loomed suddenly the enjoyment was substituted with ‘I need to get lots of points for this to get into college’, and something flipped. Once I sat my final exams my drawing days came to a sudden halt- it is there my portfolio ended as my focus shifted to college, and more exams. Academia seemed to push away the core my creative expression and as the academic system took a bigger hold on my life, I had less and less time for sketching and playing with clay figures -just for the love of it.

Unbeknownst to me I was pushing back a vital part of myself.

That is, until last year when something else happened which shifted it all again, beautifully so.

You see, I’d had a health scare. Awaiting test results and sitting in the unknown of it all,the vitality which I had pushed away however came suddenly and surprisingly running towards me, calling me back to this forgotten part myself. A deep urge arose, inviting me to my pen and paper, to draw again, just for the love of it.

I was skeptical at first and initially pushed it away. But the urge was strong, so I started to listen. As I did something else started happening too- a sense of calm arose, and much less fear. Time almost stands still when I’m drawing. Hours and hours can go by without me really noticing- I get absorbed. And so it was that I was fully distracted from thinking about test results. Boom. There it was again, that feeling from childhood, which had been with me all along but which I had chosen not to notice. But when I needed it the most it came, as a gift, like a familiar friend- the simple act of drawing.

I’m lucky. That scare turned out to be just that, a scare- thankfully.

But in the jolt was a big lesson for me- to tune deeply into what nourishes and vitalises my creative spirit, just for the sake of it.

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And so it is that these little creatures have started to visit. To me they are welcome guests, each bringing me healing, hope and giving my inner child a home again. I am happy also that a little doggie by the name of Finn is in my life now too, a steady companion to the creative process- in a waggy tail kind of way. She is a dream come true too.

What did you love to do as a child? And are you still doing it?


your quacked

yes I said yes I will yes


Today I took to the polls, for today a big Tá was in order. That was a yes to equality, a yes to diversity and a yes freedom of speech and expression. Mostly it is a yes to love, in whatever guise it comes in. For love is love. Love does not have a gender. Love does not have a moral conscience. Love is the gravitational force that keeps this all together. And when I say ‘all’, I mean all of us.

Today, thousands of Irish citizens have taken to the booths and a wave of emigrants have come back to the island, #hometovote. It is an emotional day, which thousands more have fought for and even given their lives for. Oscar Wilde has been on my mind today. I vote too to honour him. His legacy set a train in motion. Today it feels like a new threshold will be passed. Whatever happens when the results come in tomorrow, there has been a shift in consciousness. Equality has been redefined.

Cycling through the streets of Dublin over the last few days, meeting Yes canvasser after Yes canvasser, seeing people of all hues and colours wearing Yes stickers has made my heart burst open and a few tears be shed. We literally are reconstituting the world.

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:

so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those

who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,

reconstitute the world.” – Adrienne Rich.

And through the ordinariness of our lives, and through the power generated through our collective power, here we are, reconstituting.

yes I said yes I will yes.”

One Wild Life: The Evolution

Hello and welcome.

It is so exciting to be here. For those of you who have been following my missives and musings for a while, you will know that I have been writing and blogging under the website and banner of One Wild Life. It was a great online home for a while, but I had been sensing an evolution brewing. What you see here has emerged from those 7 years of blogging and a lot of amazing experiences and connections. So it is farewell to this view, and a welcoming of the new…

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I decided not to carry over my previous blog. It was time for a fresh start, and a chance to let go of the past and allow the future to emerge. Starting with a blank slate has been wonderfully enlivening and I am so excited to get going on this new iteration of my work.

For those who have been following along all these years, I so appreciate your support and I hope we can journey together over the coming years. And for those new here, you are so very welcome. Have a look around and be sure to sign up to my newsletter for updates, happenings and free resources.