A South African sunset.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I am enjoying all the things about my home that I try to create for my clients. It feels welcoming and quiet, orderly and beautiful, and it’s the perfect place to be after two weeks of traveling abroad to Nyon, Switzerland, and Cape Town, South Africa. I feel grateful not only for shelter, but for one that welcomed me home with such a feeling of lightness and comfort. It feels like me. I love it for how it has supported me throughout my darkest days and my happiest moments, as we have raised a family and grown a business. It is a place where a stranger can feel welcome and invited to go deep. When I think about it, my home has evolved along with me, and has supported me on my journey to becoming the version I am now. 

Before I left on the trip, I asked Gray Cathrall, Founder of the Piedmont Post, for a reprieve from writing my column A Life By Design for a month. I intended to create space to get things done in advance of my trip, and to make sure my clients and staff had what they needed before my departure. But the moment I made the request, I realized what I really needed was more space for new creative endeavors to germinate. Life is asking for something novel and different for me right now, and I’m feeling called to pivot toward some of the other projects that fuel my multi-passionate self. I have a desire to let go of some things to make room for what’s next. I don’t know exactly what it is, but life has taught me to get still so I can hear it speak. 

Aerial escapades over Cape Town with my travel companion and project manager, Hilary Flack.

And if there is anything I have learned over the years honing my craft as an interior designer, letting go of what doesn’t work to make space for the new in a physical space, can be just as well applied to our lives. When we want an upgraded life, it serves us well to let go of that which no longer serves our evolution as beings. 

When I asked Gray if I could write a column for the Piedmont Post seven years ago, I had no idea it would be a catalyst for self-discipline and learning to be an effective writer. It has been a gift that served two purposes: one to bolster my voice in the community as an industry leader, and another in cultivating a connection to you, the readers of my monthly blog. Through the years, it has connected me to new friends, and opened doors for new experiences. I’ve crossed paths with incredible people who appreciate interior design as a way to create connection through heart-centered living.

The staff at Salt in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, South Africa.

Over these years as a writer, designer, and entrepreneur, I have found that I am most lit up by exploring life’s deeper meanings, and by talking from my heart about life in general. There seems to be a seamless connection to being a beauty maker. To be a beauty maker means to have discernment about what feels soulful versus what feels status quo in the curation of materials, furniture, and art. Writing for the general public began to feel more restrictive than I now feel called to be. 

A Lebanese feast at Ghenwa’s Culinary Club in Somerset West, South Africa.

So to that end, I decided to let go of writing this column for the monthly Piedmont Post. Now I intend to focus on writing more audaciously and pointedly about the correlation between heart and home. So here we are. Just me and you. And we’re about to get more intimate. If it makes you squirm to think about feelings and healing what hurts, that’s okay. What I can tell you is that the freedom on the other side of emotional expression is intoxicating. It can only make your life and humanity better. 

Wine cellars at Klein Constantia.

The profundity of my recent journey overseas was described so beautifully in the Mark Twain quote I stumbled upon at the top of this blog. I could not have asked for a more perspective-broadening, wholesome, deepening experience than the one I enjoyed in my travels with dear clients of ours. Nothing could have prepared me for the joy of those new discoveries. I listened to the tales and history of the people of South Africa from my client who is so passionate about the freedoms brought through the struggles of a country near collapse. I heard about how it was re-established with more equality and value of freedom through the shift in government when Nelson Mandella took over. Like our own tortured country, South Africa has a long way to go to establish true equality among the many cultures in that nation, but it opened my mind and heart to learn, and to feel the warmth of the people I met there. 

The joy of being on the receiving end of such grace, hospitality, and exposure to so many beautiful people, vistas, sunsets, and new friendships affirmed for me a proverb I heard recently:

“To feel rich, just count the things you have that money cannot buy.” 

More treasured moments from this epic adventure.

Photo Credits: All photos by Laura Martin Bovard

A version of this article appeared in the Piedmont Post