Why I Loathed Clare Campbell

When I met Clare, I loathed her. I’d never met an artist before, but I did draw and paint myself. Clare was barefoot and long-skirted, her beautiful femininity a celebration of not just herself, but of her SENSE of self. She was self-assured, confident, successful, and her creativity was free-flowing and abundant. She was lovely, and loving, and loved. It disgusted me. What made her think she deserved to be happy?

I could draw too, but nobody was paying ME to run these hideously beautiful workshops where people get hugged and indulged.
I went home afterwards, to an empty home, made all the more aware of my empty life. This woman was handing out love like she had an endless supply of it in her life, meanwhile I had none.

Looking back now, I realise that “when the pupil is ready, the teacher arrives.”

Clare showed me the life I had always wanted, and more importantly, she showed me that it isn’t a fairytale.  She showed that love isn’t a finite resource, to be earned and traded. She just pours out love to everyone who needs it, like she has a jar of gorgeous love-sourdough sat at home, that she shares with anyone who wants to start baking their own goddess-hood. She feeds and nurtures it, and passes it on so that it can it can be shared and shared and shared.

So I’ve learned about sourdough. You create it at home from nothing more than flour and water (and effort), and feed it every day. Soon you can make your own beautiful bread for yourself, and very soon, you start sharing your sourdough starter with your friends and family, because you have loads to spare, and together you’re feeding everyone.

Until someone gives you that sourdough starter though, you’re stuck buying miserable supermarket bread, jealous of those smug people who can afford £4 loaves from farmers markets. People with lovely nourishing bread will make you hungry and sad and angry, because they’ve got something delicious you want, something you don’t have the means to make for yourself, that you can’t afford. But once someone’s given you that sourdough starter, and you’re leaning to bake for yourself…

Clare gave me the sourdough to bake when I was starving. If you’re familiar with eating disorders (as I am, having suffered for years) you’ll know that when you’re genuinely starving, you no longer feel hunger, and are disgusted by the things you need the most.

Being at Clare’s Wild Woman Retreat was like being in a fancy French bakery after a month of starving myself. It sickened and repulsed me, because I didn’t know I deserved it.

But once you’ve got a jar of sourdough, you can’t stop it. It lives, and grows, and takes attention. Once I’d been at Clare’s Wild Woman Retreat, I started to nurture myself. It’s taken me a long, long time to develop what I still baulk at calling “Self Esteem” but I have started to believe in myself.

Before I met Clare I was alone, miserable, hopeless, unhealthy, and consumed by anger and panic. I hated being a woman, and I hated myself. I couldn’t bear to see Clare, enjoying life……. a lot has changed since then.

I have friends who are more like family.  I have dogs who are like my children.  I have a strange sort of job where I can be talking to the director of The Tate Gallery one day, and be on The One Show another day.

I write a blog for an arts website  – 2Up2Down.org.uk and I’ve got an essay into a book about recovering from depression.
An artist friend of mine suggested my dog Brian should have a Twitter account – lo and behold I’ve got nearly nine hundred followers, and get messages from people who want to thank Brian for making them smile as they battle Bi-Polar Depression, or mourn a loss.

My life is full of love, and art and juicy creativity.

I have so much admiration and love for Clare, she is an inspiration and a joy. I dread to think how things might have turned out for me had I never met her. Would I be starting an internship with Liverpool Biennial? I doubt it. Would I be working on a book? I doubt it. Would a gang of mates be dragging me speed dating next week? Would I be dragging my dogs out to go jogging in the park? Would I have become a vegetarian? Had Philip Schofield laugh at my jokes on TV?

There’s a woman down my road who loathes me, because I represent everything she doesn’t have in her miserable little life.
Then I got her involved and then to star on TV, I saw how happy it made her, I realised how much my life has changed.
Clare passed on the sourdough starter to me, at a time when I had a life so small and so toxic that I couldn’t stand seeing Clare’s happiness.

Now I am in a position to pass it on to others who need it.  I owe that to a luscious, juicy, gorgeous goddess who makes magic, even for grumpy lumps like me.