My home is… my magical sancturary
My family is…my kindred tribe
I can’t live without…my early nights to bed
I feel whole when…I am close to my Creator
I find my inspiration…in the early mornings
Best book I’ve ever read…The Artisan Soul by Erwin Mcmanus and Daring Greatly By Brene Brown
The music that never fails to make me feel good…Reggae
Daily rituals…Morning coffee run with my Peachy girl (mornings are ours)
Favourite thing to do as a Family…Make pancakes in the wilderness or road trip in our van.
Tess, just over a year ago you made the huge life decision to take a year long sabbatical during the peak of your design career, detoxing from social media and choosing to focus on your young family and dedicate yourself to daily writing. What inspired this decision?
“It happened in the darkness of a hotel room that was once called home. My romantic heart likens it to that moment, where you are laying low under the midnight fumes with not a sound in sight, and something riding on the breeze aligns with everything your words have never been able to write. Suddenly, the midnight sun rises—nothing is demanding your attention but simultaneously, all the urgency in the world is storming around you—calling you, prompting you to change it ALL. It’s as though your internal and external dialogues become one, while revelations wrapped in fearless change, beckon you towards an affectionate ultimatum—tomorrow I’m changing my life.
This will forever be, my life changing, 2am sentiment.”
—An excerpt from THE APRICOT MEMOIRS.
Upon the shores of South Africa, this place spurred me to take a huge leap—A quiet yet tenacious whisper challenged me to jump away from all that was comfy to pursue some dormant passions and see creativity bloom in ways my imagination was yet to learn. The call to change was inviting me to re-create life as I knew it. May I add, I was very happy at this time in my life, happy and very busy creating from a place of muscle memory and seven years of skill set. I had become very good at creation on tap.
The best way to begin to describe the transition into my decision and it’s unfolding is that for almost six months prior to my sabbatical I felt those little nudging whispers, you know the ones? They are ever so subtle and almost too faint to hear, but like all tenacious go-getters, I ignored their prompts—all until this one specific night and in this one moment I dramatically changed it all, overnight.
I did it all quite promptly and whole heartedly, I took it really seriously as the conviction led strong. It was a heart conviction, and no-one could talk me out of it. Literally the day after my 2am moment I turned off every single app in my phone that allowed the streaming of noise into my world. This included emails, any form of social media and even text messages. I had no notifications coming in and only close friends had my international phone number. I finalised all the major design jobs I was working on at the time and emailed all my clients (and had to let them down) which was really hard for me. I let them know I would not be designing for a year and then guided them to new designers, helping to get them set up before I set off.
I culled it all in a matter of a week and then entered a season of unknown—completely surrendered and covered in tears, I was ready to be uncomfortable. It was extremely confronting to let go of something that I had worked so hard to create especially when it was in it's absolute prime and I enjoyed doing it. But it needed to happen. This thing I had created had become my identity, my sense of worth and had become way too familiar in my daily doings. I wanted messy change! I wanted thirst! I wanted growth.
I genuinely enjoyed the thrill of creating for others and to then see it completely closed up at the decision of my own two hands was terrifying and vulnerable to say the least. Saying good bye to a comfy paycheck was also another struggle but I trusted it would all work out and knew in the depth of my soul that this journey was more important then the currency money. I truly believe that obedience to our personal convictions rewards in a currency of it's own. I believe that growth happens best in the realm of risk and growth is more valuable than gold.
This was to be my defining life changing moment. I knew I’d never look back from here. It was almost like ripping off a really pretty bandaid that had made itself resident on my skin like a beautiful tattoo. It was beautiful and pretty and great in its time! But I knew there was something greater in ripping it off. Now looking back, 1 year later, I am dancing in the golden dust of my decisions. I am so grateful. Conviction never lies.
“Sometimes we get given the opportunity to make a brave choice. A choice, to surrender the things that have been great, in exchange for greater. It’s here a soulful, lively, boom-boom, heart out of chest, tears on cheeks, I’m alive, kind of passion lives—it lives, just around the corner from surrender’s bend.” —An excerpt from THE APRICOT MEMOIRS.
What have you learnt over the past year? You must feel as though it was a life-time ago now?
SO MUCH! This past year has been my most defining year as a woman to date and I hope I continue to grow from this space. Stagnancy is truly my biggest life fear, I refuse to stay the same. In this time I’ve learnt that my worth isn’t in “What I do” or “What I can offer”. I’ve learnt that life is artistry! My heart was born to create! Every day is a art, Every day is beautiful and we get to choose what we see and how we use it!
“Creativity isn’t to be confined to the paint brush. It’s zealously inclusive—in the living, the doing, the talking, the being.”—An excerpt from The Apricot Memoirs
In this past year of intentional learning and growth my hearts passion is that every day has the freedom to express beauty, love and imagination regardless of income, regardless of my lack and regardless of my abundance, that I have everything I need, to do everything I feel called to do.
In this time I have been able to articulate my souls deepest purpose and begin to actually live it out with any fear or expectation present. My purpose goes far beyond the perimietres of my job or what I do for a living—It’s a soul thing! It’s my human expression! It’s the reason I rise and the heart beat behind everything I put my hands to. My purpose is no longer confined by rules or “shoulds” but now defined by freedom, momentum and trusting the larger and greater plan for my life. I have discovered my souls purpose and I'm never letting it go. From this place everything flows as it needs.
How do you feel you have grown as a woman, as a Mother, during this time?
I have clarity, time, articulation on where my time is best spent, boundaries, my marriage is blossoming, my daughter is thriving, my relationship with my Creator is alive, my nights are slow and the diary isn’t as full. Anxiety is not present, nor is stress, I’ve been more productive then I’ve ever been in my life (ironically) and somehow all amidst this slower lifestyle I’ve written a book and it it’s being printed/published in 1 week. The craziest thing is this project (The Apricot Memoirs) has more traction and momentum on it than any other creative project I’ve ever put my hands to and has felt effortless and evoked so much passion in me. There has been not one ounce of stress in the creation process of this book and I actually believe once upon ago that if there was no stress there was no value in what I was producing. I’ve spent the past year painting for fun and somehow in this time my art (without meaning to) has become a business leg of it’s own and now I have just looked into getting an art manager because of the abundance of orders I get weekly. I didn’t strive or work in stress mode for this but momentum spurred itself because passion is leading and haste is not present. Slow ironically produces more fruit, and fruit created with this mindset has longevity.
As a woman and a mother I have mostly grown in the area of trusting my convictions, inclinations and letting go of control, because when I do, things just work out better. There is no more striving and I like this version of "Tess" a lot better—and so does my wonderful lover.
Pregnancy is such a potent time of self-connection, your energy is flowing inwards and you give yourself the time to heal, to rest, to listen. Have you found yourself to feel more in-tune creatively?
My first trimester was a hibernation time for me. A lot of rest and nausea. I completely stopped writing / creating / socialising for about 12 weeks whilst I felt a little bit sorry for myself and all the symptoms that made me feel less than human. I was beyond relieved when the nausea subsided and I felt that magic return to the air!
Second trimester is my sweet spot! The muse sparkled and invited me to play. I was writing, socialising, creating, painting, cooking and delighting in life as these double blessings grew and formed as they needed. My senses, fully alive! This season will always be a defining season of creation for me. I definitely felt my most creative here and how beautiful it is to know that whilst I was creating externally, life was being created in-sync internally. As my moon belly has grown large third trimester has been more of a slowing down and nourishing season. I find myself getting bursts of creativity in the midst of the night and have found myself needing to get up and write it all down. I’ve felt more intimate in this time and mostly excited as I near the end of this pregnancy with the birth of my book—The Apricot Memoirs and the pure delight of seeing my little tribe extend into something beautiful!!! A full girl tribe with the love of my life leading us all! He's pretty great! and I'm so so excited to see him smothered in girl love, not sure my heart will handle the love train that's about to hit me full steam.
The evolution of a Mother. Describe it in your own words.
Can I respond in prose??? haha I have the perfect piece to describe motherhood.
My greatest undoing, my brightest adventure—all five senses sparking to the music—sweeter than ever before.
The sun—a fragrance like dandelion,
the stars—like fire,
the sand—like clouds,
and the wine—like sweet solace.
Eyes walking asleep, and my mind: a slow song with an unexpected crescendo.
Nothing can prepare one for such a time as this.
Let yourself undo, the sooner the sweeter—
What has surprised you most about becoming a Mother?
How much I don't know.
In the journey of motherhood I feel like I'm always learning, always changing, always trying new approaches, new ideas and often realising how clueless I am haha.
Failure feels often yet so does victory! You have to celebrate your little Mumma wins! and cherish those priceless moments when they come!
I have been surprised by my Mumma intuition and how it's usually spot on in regards to the needs of my tribe.
Motherhood is a daily surprise and I'm loving it.
How do you switch off/slow down/reconnect with yourself?
Introverting. I love to be social but oh how I love to be alone. I get all the rejuvenation I need from a few hours alone. In this time I might write, water my plants, pray, move furniture around in my house, read a book, grab a coffee or get my paints out. I love having space to just “be” and let my soul wander where it needs. I find that space and allowance of improvisation allows me to reconnect with myself and in turn I can pour out love on others. Without this, I’m useless (and cranky).
A piece of advice you would give a Mum-to-be?
There’s a lot of noise in the world, a lot of ideas, ways to do or not do things—You do you! trust your intuition, it will not lie. Allow yourself to undo, it’s ok to be messy and in that be vulnerable, you don’t need to know all the answers. Surround yourself with a mum tribe where you can be completely honest and they have your best interests at heart. Most of all enjoy it! Create your own rituals, your own family culture and thrive in it! This is the prime of life!
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