Chatting to an old friend; on anxiety and depression

This topic feels all too familiar for me and I’m sure for many others reading this. There is an incredible stigma attached to this subject but when you begin to open up about it you realize how painfully common it really is.

I was diagnosed with depression when I was fifteen; at this point I was not put on medication for it but went to therapy regularly. I think my mom knew it was a problem when I would just stay in my room and cry, constantly. There was and always has been a deep sadness inside of me. It’s a very confusing feeling because it’s a safe place in a strange way. And when depression takes over, it is very easy to stay in the lull and entertain those feelings…anyways, so after a difficult  breakup in 2011 (shame) I was put on meds, I think it was a general Prozac of some kind but needless to say, it helped. I was just finishing my second year at Art School and I knew I needed to something to help cope with all of the pressure that was on me to knuckle down and work. It helped.

Some people do not believe in medication, call it what you will but I have found in my experience with it for the past eight years that it really has helped me. When I am suffering from severe anxiety and depression my entire system shuts down; I stop digesting my food properly (going to the loo does not happen) I am bloated and my energy levels are low AF. When I am on my medication regularly my weight goes back to normal, my bowel movement is regular and I am an all round more put together human being. Don’t get me wrong, the depression is still there (it is always there) but life is more manageable.

I was checked into a clinic for my A and D in 2014 and was in a program for three weeks where I learnt a lot about the physical impacts of depression. Up until that point I always thought I had some kind of illness and went to the doctor regularly. When your body suffers from a trauma or any form of shock, it releases adrenaline as a survival instinct… when your body releases too much over and over it creates an acidic build up in your stomach which causes skin outbreaks, bad indigestion etc. I realised after learning all this in the clinic that it was my depression which was causing all my physical illnesses. I had realized that I did not mourn the loss of my grandfather or uncle. That I had not processed my abusive relationship I had been in for two years, that I had not processed my mothers long term illness… it just all built up like a big poop and my body was left in total shock.

So, the clinic… I learnt alot…I know I am going through an intense time emotionally when my skin breaks out or my water retention is higher than normal. It really is amazing how in tune our bodies are to the outside world. When I am regularly on my medication my symptoms decrease and I begin to feel more energetic and upbeat. Some medication might not work for you and your body may reject it; in 2014 I was put on many different meds in the clinic, I had already told my doctors I didn’t think more medication was a good idea but they assured me it would only be for a short time. I was mis-diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder and put on medication which resulted in me being in hospital for three weeks. I had chronic headaches, very high temperatures and I was certain it was an allergic reaction of some kind… no one knew what was wrong with me. As soon as I went off the meds the symptoms disappeared.

So to sum it all up, I do not think doctors are always right. I think it is important to get to know your depression; to understand the way in which it works; to understand and accept it will always be there and to learn how to manage it. I am on 20mg of Lorien once a day, it is not alot but it helps me immensely. I was on this throughout my pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding after doctors assured me it was perfectly safe. But above all, having Frances inside me really calmed me in ways which are hard to explain. Suddenly your body begins to care for another life and the priorities shift. I began to feel an incredible sense of calm during my third trimester and both baby and I got prepared for the new. Even the birth was cathartic. Anyways, Im not going to ramble on much more about this but if you have any Q’s, feel free to direct message me ❤ sending love on this journey. Today I haven’t washed x





A reflection on two and a half

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
― C.S. Lewis

Little Frances Elliot is two years old now and will be three in January. I am sure all mom’s agree that there is a stage when you begin to get broody; when your little bean is no longer that small helpless soft skinned googly eyed wonder but instead a little person, thirsty to explore and learn, nolonger needing to be tucked under moms wing.

Well sickness hit hard three weeks ago when France got a rash all over her body it changed our routine completely. More like threw it right out of the window. She then caught croup virus which developed into something bacterial. There were lots of tears (from her as well as myself); when your child is burning up so intensely its not hard to feel frustrated and powerless.

Well, one thing that is obvious is that all children get sick. Their bodies are little organisms performing incredible feats. After a comment on my Instagram post from a dear friend, Caron (she is Waldorf teacher) I began reading up about Steiner and his belief on childhood illness. Illness as a very spiritual time for not just the mother, but the child. When children have a fever; they are many times in a very quiet meditative or dreamlike state.  I started to realize, as the days went on, how I needed to become wholly available to her and support her incredibly during this transformative time. I was constantly looking at my phone and getting distracted from the moment of just simply holding her. So as the days went on; we did absolutely nothing but lie and get sweaty together…I began to reflect on a deeper level, my baby was shedding her baby-ness and getting ready for the big wide world all on her own.

Her illness became this soul cleansing process, necessary for the full and complete processing of the shift that was coming. To cry, sweat, cough; and come out the other end, vulnerable but ready or the next chapter (Dean is going to laugh at me later for getting all hippie about this)… But really, From a spiritual perspective, I feel like she was adapting to the ‘new’ as she started school today. I cant tell you how many schools Franks and I visited; as we drove to each one she asked “Are you going to leave me there?” to which I replied, “not today, but we are going to see if we like it and if its a place you would like to stay at for a little bit”… she was there for the entire process…but when it was almost time to go, she got incredibly ill. Co-incidence… I THINK NOT!

So today she is at creche, she left us with complete confidence and went straight for the dolls house without looking back, good sign I’d say.  She just needed three weeks of skin on skin cuddles, backrubs and love. Little lamb leaving the nest, all bright eye’d and bushy tailed. Amy & Frankie 165



Jellybean SA Kidswear

I’ll be honest and get straight to the point; these are by far the two best items of clothing Frances (or I for that matter) has ever owned. Picture this; a kitch multi-coloured smoesh of a mess which leaves me feeling hopeless when I peer into the depths of her wardrobe; with her two Jellybean items hanging perfectly to one side, glowing like a beacon, screaming “mom goals”.

Chloe (owner and brain behind Jellybean) contacted me though Instagram and insisted on gifting us two of the most beautiful items from her new little collection. Not only did she make these by hand, she delivered them personally on Friday because she wanted to meet Frank.

Chloe studied fashion at FEDISA (which is obvious by the way she is so stunningly put together, hair and all) and started Jellybean after feeling completely in awe and inspired by a new arrival in her family. Needless to say, this local brand is from the heart. I felt it from the moment she messaged me; it felt as though I was chatting to an old friend and continued to as we hung out together on Friday morning, giving each other advise on fabrics and online sales.

It is hard to pin point my exact attraction to Jellybean, Chloe is great but it is so much more than that. It is every little attention to detail which has been considered so beautifully; not only for the mama’s ideal Pinterest goals to come true but also for the little one who’s hands receive it. The parcel was labelled to Frances and wrapped in 100% recyclable paper (0 plastic used). There is so much simplicity in the packaging yet so much wonder for the little one who pulls the string… AND (the best part) the swing tags which are on your garment are made with seed paper and grow into flowers; another fun activity to do with your little one in the garden once you have received your parcel.

Thank you so much Chloe, we cannot wait to wear these beautiful items in Spring!

Follow Jellybean

Instagram: @jellybean_sa

Facebook: @jellybeanbabyandtoddler

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Mevrou & Co

Mevrou & Co have been my neighbours since January at The Neighbourgoods market in Woodstock. So quite obviously, I have plenty time to swoon over all of their beautful T’s every weekend. I chose “Se dankie vir die tannie” for Frank (for obvious reasons),  “Sharp Sharp” for Dean and the “Oi’Vey” one for myself. I love the colourful playfulness of the “Sharp Sharp” one and equally love the classy vibe of the “Oi’Vey” one which can be dressed down or easily dressed up too.

Each T has a fun local colloquial phrase printed on it; My dad popped in yesterday afternoon and couldn’t contain his laughter when he saw Frank in her new T (see photos) because let’s be honest; I don’t think any of us have grown up without an annoying old person saying those exact words. It clearly is not just generational

Thank you for the cool T’s guys, we love them!

Awkward family photo below and then a few of the cutie (it was very difficult to photograph a two year old (Oi’vey) )

AA Living x


Ayanda – The family has grown

DSC03784My name is Amy Christine Ayanda Lester.

My fathers name is Terrence Lester , my mothers, Colleen (nee) Beyer. My father is coloured and my mother is white (I always find the tenses very hard when speaking about my mother. Im not ready to say “was” just yet).

Anyways, so my first name Amy, comes from my great Aunt… she originally was Muslim…her name was”Amina.” She then converted and decided to name herself Amy.

Christine was my great grandmother and was originally from Genadendal. She bought a property in Strawberry Lane Constantia before it was claimed as white land; this is where my fathers family lived until my father was five years old. They were forcibly removed in 1955 due to the Group Areas Act which was part of a land act during Apartheid. So Christine; She was stong A.F and owned a flower farm on the land which she sold to the flower sellers in Cape Town. It was a sad day when they left the land; but that is another story for another day. Christine’s parents (My great-great grandparents) were Khoisan

Ayanda is an isiXhosa name, given to me by Patricia Nombombo. Patricia has worked for my parents since the very beginning and was with my mother the day I was born (It was a home birth). My brother and sister had just come home from school and climbed onto the bed to greet me and Patricia said “ayanda, the family has grown”. I guess they just knew that this was a part of who I was. Especially coming from a family of so many cultures and colours.

I know what you might be thinking right now (trust me I get it all the time) things like “ya but she is more white” or “but why do you say you’re coloured if you’re white” or my FAVE is “But you can’t be coloured and white at the same time” (LOL). But the fact is, this is the name my household gave me and I am comfortable with that.

I cannot deny a part of myself because of what other people might think (and I know people think alot of things all of the time). This is not a case of me appropriating a culture for my own personal gain, this is my name. My parents gave it to me to honour Patricia and her energy which she brings into the home. She is Frankie’s Gogo, the home-maker now that my mother is nolonger around; she holds the female space for us now.

My name is Amy Christine Ayanda Lester; I come from Khoi San, Muslim and isiXhosa women and I am very proud of that fact ❤ (some people think I am Spanish lol)  AA Living




It has been an interesting week; being somewhat bed ridden myself while I nurse my little raspberry back to health after a bout of the pox. While equally exhausted, I have felt more connected to my core and feel more of a pull to be here, to be home.

I remember my first day at Art School, Andrew Putter wanted us to just take one word and work with it for the next two weeks. As fate would’ve had it, I used the word, “home”. I remember in fourth year, I was trying to find a name that would bring my final body of work together; that would define all I had worked on for that entire year, home rung as loudly as ever. That final body of work was called “Here is a Home”. And ofcourse to top it all off; when I did my business course we had a free thinking collage exercise and I kept cutting out the word “home” everytime it popped up in the magazines.

I am not quite sure why I love the idea of home; why I keep revisiting it Perhaps it is a woman thing, perhaps my mother filled our home so intensely that it keeps ringing like a warm, calm ache in my ear. Colleen the quiet giant. But home is important. It is safe and comforting; that’s all I have for now.

So let this be the space you come home to after a long day; that afternoon glow. Maybe you will find a recipe you have always wanted to make (yes I am that  mom now) or you want to learn how to make a safe haven for yourself in your mind, or home. I’ll try my best to create that space here, a little bit xx AA Living