Meet Tess. A creative and self-described dabbling artist and aspiring-learner writer, this Mumma who is about to expand her tribe by two has a self-published book of poetry and prose on the way called The Apricot Memoirs, and is an inspiration for those who are curious as to what self-love can do for not only you, but those around you too! We are so blessed to have been able to step inside her mind and learn what it means to slow down, do what is right for you and the abundance this can create in your world.
Your life has been a crazy beautiful adventure. What is going on in your world right now?
It’s 9:43 pm on a casual Wednesday night, I eagerly jumped into bed about two hours ago and the excitement muse in all her playfulness wouldn’t let me sleep. So, here I am, I’m up with a brewed dandy chai, lit candles, the sound of late night jazz and I'm letting the pen lead as the muse would hope.
You see, I’m 9 days away from two really exciting and sentimental life events—it seems that this body of mine is so well rested in this slow season that what normally comes way too easy to me—sleep, feels almost like a chore. As the moon rises, I feel undeserving of more rest when my days are laced with slow breathing. As I'm writing this I’m 9 days away from my (hypothetical) due date—and would you believe I’m expecting identical twin girls. Ironically, and in perfect life-sync motions, I’m also 9 days away from pressing print on the very first run of my self-published book of prose—The Apricot Memoirs. I feel like life is raining golden flow and my heart feels childlike and expectant. So, I’m taking tonight and streamlining my love and late night momentos into this interview because what a wondrous place to let it all hang out. Thanks for this privilege Nutra Organics!
How did you transition from running a wildly successful design business to a one-year sabbatical, and what did it look like?
"Why am I so busy?
It took 33 years of journeying around the golden circle before I was ready to honestly climb this question. I knew that the answer, in its quick and quiet breath, would hold both my great unravelling, and the making of me.”—An excerpt from THE APRICOT MEMOIRS.
The best way to begin to describe the transition and it’s unfolding is to explain that for almost 6 months prior to my sabbatical I felt those little nudging whispers, you know the ones? They are ever so subtle and almost hard 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.
"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.
It all happened upon the shores of South Africa, this place spurred me to take a huge leap—This 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 beyond my imagination. It was basically inviting me to change life as I knew it.
Now let me be clear—I LOVED my current life, I LOVED what I was doing, I was passionate, I was successful, we were living in South Africa at the time and my husband landed his first big lead role as a stuntman in a feature film—The Maze Runner. We were in a prime life moment, all was well and abundant. But something in me knew deep down that I was creatively comfy and in amidst this comfort I had become accustomed and very familiar with the word “HUSTLE”. Something in me wanted to delete this word completely, I was sick of it leading, I was over its sentiment, it started to present as boring, unnatural, unhealthy and was nothing but strive evoked, it shouted: “me, me, me”. Something in the depth of my soul believed that you could still be creatively passionate - live a big beautiful colourful life, see flowers grow and do it all effortlessly without that constant feeling of “do do do”- “move, move, move”. I wanted to experience that true and soulful living, the artists way, the reward of slow creation, putting things in the right order, taking time, putting my spiritual life, family, and health on priority and taking time and care on things I cared about the most— seeing if maybe, just maybe—out of this place of living things could still grow at a beautiful and abundant speed, and maybe even be more productive and more BEAUTIFUL than the hustlers call! For those who like to kick goals (like me) this new way of living is actually really hard to navigate at first—It was like I was re-wiring my entire brain, reworking 33 years of habitual living. A massive surrender with a bucket full of gold at the end of it.
“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.
So, in the midst of it’s prime, I felt led to fold up my booming freelance design business (in its financial peak) to delve into a one-year sabbatical all in the name of creativity, spiritual growth and to basically scare the heck out of myself in a good and healthy way. I was thirsty for some messy, creative, soulful adventure in a territory that wasn’t cushy but more so uncomfy. My heart knew that growth happens best in the realm of risk.
The sabbatical led me into an unexpected season of creativity in the form of free-flowing words, paint, colour, improvisation, consuming books by my favourite authors and being present in ways I never knew to be so fulfilling. The words would find me in all sorts of moments, to the point I seemed to be constantly looking for scrap pieces of paper to contain them.
Playing with words and the new world it has opened up for me would not have happened without that blind jump, And, let me add—It has not been smooth sailing by any means, a lot of comfortable things were sacrificed without concrete promises or immediate outcomes. The decisions were made with no real sign of stability on the horizon—A leap of blind faith.
The intermission away from my business, that is now choosing to take me on an extended adventure, has gifted me The Apricot Memoirs: the absolute fruit (apricot) from my sabbatical along with some other sneaky surprises from heaven—conceiving twins, our double rainbow! And now, my desire is to share my journey with you in hope that it shakes up your world and prompts you to take some risks—I’m certainly grateful I chose to leave my comfy cave. Life has really opened up in ways I never knew possible.
Your favourite way to spend a day off with no plans?
Can I respond in prose? haha—I actually have the perfect piece from my book that describes my ultimate day with no plans—alone.
"When I say I need time alone, what I really mean is: I want to move all the furniture around and then move it all back. I want to paint something and leave the brushes to bristle all because I decided to go wash my hair. I’ll forget to take my multi-vs—I was busy trying on dresses. Suddenly, I’ll move every plant to the tiles in the sunroom, just to water them. The plants will make like a jungle at the front door because there was that book I once read, explaining the cycle of butterflies, so I’ll scavenge to find it, but in my hunt, I’ll find old photos—sleeping in nostalgia for what feels like ten minutes, suddenly it’s dusk. Dinner will be the last thing on my mind. I’ll likely throw a handful of vegetables into some batter and amidst the kitchen mess, I’ll pour some Spanish wine while closing my eyes at the same time. I’ll light some candles, open all the windows, change the sheets, and fall asleep early because nothing excites me more... When I say I need time alone, this is really what I mean."
—An excerpt from the pages of The Apricot Memoirs
Describe your morning ritual?
Mornings sweet mornings, all early and eager risers in this household. We are all about an early night and the early rise! I awake at about 5:30 am, thanks to my little four-year-old girl Peaches—she jumps into bed with me for snuggles every morning. My husband Caleb un-intentionally wakes her when he gets up and does home yoga every morning (The most disciplined man I know). Peach and I normally snuggle for about 20/30 minutes then it’s all smoothies, breaky prep, multi-vs & morning love. We really work at creating a beautiful chill vibe in the mornings, soft music, salt lamps, food and cuddles, I think the way you start your day is so important especially when you are raising a family. After the breakfast festivities, Peach and I throw on some clothes and head to our local cafe via our beach lane and grab coffee and babycinos. We have done this since the day she was born. I call the mornings “ours"—Forever our thing. I'm looking forward to navigating how mornings will look as we await the arrival of our twin girls.
What does self-love look like to you?
Self-love is keeping your tank so full of love that you have enough to restore love on others. And for every individual, this will look different.
Self LOVE to me looks like listening to my intuition, trusting my gut and most importantly listening to that still, small voice. That whisper we give time to is never wrong. Self-love for me is prayer, it's reading my bible, letting my introvert nature have the space it needs to process, collect thoughts and run free in imaginative mindfulness without bounds. Self-love is watering my plants and moving furniture around because I enjoy it (any furniture movers here??). Self-love is having dignity and knowing your worth, not saying yes to EVERYTHING because not every good idea is always a good idea. It’s knowing your now! Knowing what your season is asking of you. It's asking yourself, ‘is it time to rest or is momentum circling me and prompting me into creation mode’. I think listening to our inclinations and prompts is key to self loving, and when we choose to live mindfully we can actually hear that still small voice. That voice of wisdom and reason has truly saved me a bucket load of tears, strife, exhaustion and expectation—granting me breath, freedom, clarity, time and joy! It enables me to make good decisions for my family and for my life because who wants to live life half full and drained, not me.
What are your tips for a healthy lifestyle, slowing down and living simply?
So, I’m only a fresh-ling to all this slowdown lifestyle talk haha. I’m a reformed hustler and it’s been one year since my last adrenal lead project haha. This past year would absolutely have to be my BIGGEST learning year yet, my most dramatic life turn around.
I’m actually so blooming proud of myself for listening to my intuition on this one because I feel the BEST I have ever felt in my entire life! I’m a new TESS!
1 year ago when I decided to take a sabbatical I felt like a rebel with a cause, I felt excited by the fact that I was laying down my hustle to rebel and swim in the opposite direction. I had many friends question my decisions (all in love and care) because I was giving up my successful business to pursue slow—which in honesty doesn’t look very impressive to the naked eye at first, even to me it was a very beige idea, a lot to risk. But like all good things, we reap what we sew—and sometimes the reaping can take a very long and slow time and us humans aren’t great at waiting things out, we want the world now. Not everything will make sense to others when it comes to personal convictions, but the main thing is to own your personal revelations and epiphany’s, to walk them out, believe in them and eventually, the questions will turn into “aha!” moments. Remember, the approval of others will take you off course. I questioned my decision so many times, especially as the bank account got low, I'd ask myself ‘is it worth it?’ and something in me couldn't not pursue my decision till the end.
Here I am 1 year later and let me share my absolute heart on this!
My decision to slow life down has blessed me to overflowing. I’m the healthiest I have ever been (minus the quirks that come with a twin pregnancy haha). I swear my decision to slow down granted me twins, my body was so rested and happy it was basically a breeding ground for a double portion of babes. 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 than I’ve ever been in my life (ironically) and somehow all amidst this slower lifestyle I’ve written a book and it’s being printed/published in 9 days. The craziest thing is this project 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 a time, that if there was no stress there was no value in what you were producing. I’ve spent the past year painting for fun and somehow in this time my art (without meaning to) has become a business of its 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 this fruit has longevity.
It all seems backwards but there’s a take-home in this principle. The hardest part of choosing to slow down though is the sacrifices surrounding it. For me, there were some real sacrifices to consider—Mine being my pay packet, ego and my sense of worth at the time. My job made me feel important, worth something and I liked seeing my hard work rewarded with a comfy paycheck. I said goodbye to an income, a title and let myself all hang out for one whole year to pick up this slower lifestyle and re-wire the way I was operating. I didn’t land on a comfy cushion of provision in my sabbatical, I took this risk very well knowing that cash flow would slow because overnight we went from two incomes to one. And would you believe it, my husband and I landed home two months into my sabbatical and he was unemployed for four months of it. It was a HUGE financial sacrifice but I never let up, even when the bank account got scary low to the last dollar and both my husband and I wondered if I had made the wrong decision, I continued to hold onto that conviction, very well knowing somehow there was going to be gold at the end of this. Like all sacrifices we make, there is always a reward and I feel like I am living those days now. No regrets, No stress, only passion, life and colour!
The biggest piece of advice for all the dreamers out there?
This question excites me!
From a very young age I got called a dreamer, and my heart knew even back then that this was a word that would forever steer my entire life.
It’s as though the word embedded itself into the very fibres of skin and now, I won’t get out of bed without its silhouette. That’s what I’d say to the fellow dreamers, take the word and sew it into who you are, own it. Dreaming isn’t all whimsical either, it takes discipline beyond vocalising crazy ideas, it takes surrender and sacrifice, implementation, dignity, integrity, commitment and a whole lot of faith—Dreaming is a lifestyle. I also believe there is great importance surrounding improvisation when it comes to being a dreamer. My mum is the most resourceful, creative improviser I know, me and my 4 siblings are all creative improvisers—and I’m thankful for this trait my Mumma poured into us from such a young age. Being a dreamer + improviser basically makes EVERYTHING in my world an opportunity, everything and anything could be something! Nothing is every broken, maybe a mistake is an opportunity for invention! Maybe it’s a chance to see something different. A lot of the time I don’t set concrete plans in place, I feel things out and make sure passion always leads—somehow this notion works and I see it on repeat in each and every one of my sisters and brothers lives too! They all live BIG BEAUTIFUL CREATIVE lives and are never locked into perfectionism or plans - and in living this way life just gets more beautiful and allows for amazing things to happen! So, get out, open your eyes, and rid yourself of planning EVERYTHING—there is so much adventure for the dreamers if you just let go and let God.
LOVE + CREATIVITY
Tess's Apricot Memoirs Kickstarter closes this Friday, 11th May so if you'd like to support the creative fruits of an incredible time in this inspiring woman's life, you can pledge or pre-order here. You can also find her Instagram @tessguinery and follow along with the rainbow world she's created around herself.