Trippy Lists

This last weekend I went on a trip with three main purposes. 1. Visit my dear friend Bec. 2. Take a long, long weekend off to celebrate another semester of uni being over and 3. To intentionally cross a few things off my list. We had grand plans, of which some went to waste. But we did cross a few things off and it made me realise a few others have been done since my last update.

22. Bake a cake.

Bec and I baked a layered red velvet cake this weekend. Here’s an in-progress shot to prove I didn’t just steal one from the interwebs. Layered cakes are not as easy at they look and I didn’t really think it looked that easy, but it was fun all the same.

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27. Spend an entire pay on shoes.

Okay so technically it wasn’t really a weeks pay. But I won almost the equivalent of a weeks pay in a Bingo jackpot. Yes, I play Bingo. It’s the best, especially when you win. I spent basically all of it on shoes. Sparkly shoes, boots, heels. Shoes, shoes, shoes.

51. Watch the sun rise.

Of course I’ve seen the sun rise. But intentionally? On purpose? Never. So this weekend Bec and I woke up at 5am and drove to the beach to watch the sun rise. It was quite literally, picture perfect.

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63. Skull 2L of coke.

This is one of those things that I must have put on my list mainly for kicks. Because in retrospect, why? Why is that something that anyone wants to do? It doesn’t even help you conquer your fears or gain some new skill or perspective. It was hard and all it gave me was a serious dose of caffeine and giggles and other things we don’t need to talk about. Oh well, #yolo.

Coke

Bake a cake
Spend an entire pay on shoes
Watch the sunrise
Skull 2L of Coke

Done and done!

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Blazing a Trail

I went for a walk this afternoon. After driving into this sleeping little town and checking out the sights, I set my mind on a hilly outcrop and tried to figure out the best way to get there. I drove to the closest or rather the safest place I would leave my car and set out, determined.

You know when you’re shoe shopping, or fishing reel shopping or car browsing and all of a sudden you see a pair of shoes that practically have your name written all over them. You exclaim to your shopping partner – “I have to have these”. This was like that for me and the hill. Internally, I exclaimed – “I have to go there”.

Thankfully nearby I saw a path. A formal council made path that looked like it could end up in the direction of my hill. Of course, it was now my hill. I had already become possessive. Having time up my sleeve and the makings of adventure in my heart, I set off down the path.

First roadblock. Fork in the road. I took the road less traveled. Thought not my natural disposition, it is what Robert Frost would do after all. I started to run and got excited because the path felt right. Robert Frost however does not always know what’s what and this path went almost nowhere. I mean, it technically led to the beach, if you felt like bush bashing to get there. While the beach is all well and good, my hill, that was my destination. I turned around surprisingly undeterred and chose the second path. It felt mildly better and was definitely worth a shot. Grateful for the almost paved pathway, I carried on.

I was tempted to be disappointed when this path also just led to the beach. My hill was surrounded by beaches which although gave it its key reason for its charm, it made access difficult, or at least deceptive. Content to wander on the nearly deserted beach, I walked in the direction of my hill. I kept walking and watched the few surfers who were keen enough to brave the near winter chill.

To my great delight I realised upon further inspection the rocks that I thought were my barrier to the hill, became my literal stepping stone to the hill. Isn’t that often the way? What was the once barrier became the step to freedom, if you only persevered.

I greeted the man walking down the rocks with his two dogs with a cheery ‘hello’ and rolled up my jeans, ditched my jacket and ran. Easily jumping across smooth well worn rocks and up the already worn pathway of the grass that had been trampled down by the many footsteps that had scaled this hill before me. Out of breath and struck by how completely surrounded I was by beauty. I thought to myself, ‘I’m so glad I came here’.

This whole process, which really only took about 20 minutes in total, threw my life onto the chopping block. Or the examination room, or the operating table. Whatever is the best way to describe the way I take regular life occurrences and use them to completely deconstruct my life.

I thought about how perhaps despite bravado and courage, I am not, at heart, a risk taker. I’m not sure if that completely bothers me except to say that I think perhaps trail blazers are risk takers. And I do want to be a trail blazer.

My quest for the hill threw into question whether or not, if a path had not already existed, would I be sitting here having not climbed that hill. How many setbacks would it have taken me before I gave up. One more, maybe two more wrong paths? How desperately did I want to sit atop that hill. Would my drive force me to push doubt and fear aside and blaze a new path? I don’t know if it would.

Once when I was a kid, I tried to make a path. We lived on acreage and our grass had grown rather long. One day when I was playing outside in the long grass as only a child would do (hello! snakes!) I had this random idea to try and make a path, an obvious path from one place to the next. Perhaps it was a path from the gate to tree swing I can’t really remember except that I traipsed and stomped back and forth over the same place, over and over, attempting to blaze a trail. It was hard, and I don’t think it really worked.

I think about that and I think about how many people fearless people and over how long it took to create the path I walked today. I’m so grateful for trailblazers. I’d like to think that today I played my part in keeping that path well worn, so that others could follow behind me another day.

I’m so grateful for men and women who decided to make a stand for something that I now freely walk in. The abolition of slavery, rights for women, freedom of speech. Somehow, these people, one after the after, overcame fear and doubt to blaze a trail, for me. By exercising my freedom, I keep that path well worn, so that we never go backwards.

I’m grateful, but I want more.

Part of me wished that it was me who first discovered that hill. That it really was my hill. And part of me is afraid. Afraid of what I would encounter of my path, of failing. Sometimes it’s easier to go nowhere at all then to go and have to return defeated.

Part of me wants to make a stand for something that’s never been done before. To make my mark. And part of me is afraid. Afraid of what I’ll encounter on my trail, of failing, that I would burn out rather than blaze.

God, snuff out the fear and let the part that yearns for more, grow into a fiery flame.

I want to blaze a trail.

Written on the road. (c) steffanywillis.com

What the Water Gave Me.

A while back I went to the beach for a much needed spontaneous getaway with my dear friends. On the first night at around 11pm we decided we all felt like the sound of waves and the feel of sand between our toes so we wandered down the little pathway that led us straight to the beach. As often happens at 11pm, you do crazy things like decide to go swimming even though the current is fierce and its pitch black.

At one point I sort of wandered off on my own to just think for a moment. There’s something about the beach that makes one reflective. As I stood there in the ocean and let my eyes adjust to the moonlight, I slowly waded further in. The waves were just a little bit more intense than I would normally swim in and I couldn’t make it too far without being punched in the face with water. You know the kind of waves where you literally have to plant your feet on the ocean floor for fear of toppling over.. and even while planted, nature still has the ability to uproot you and force you to eat sand and skull salt water.

The ocean is sort of a funny game to me. I sort of stand there and watch the waves come and depending on their size, I adjust my stature and response to equip myself for the wave. If the swell is large enough, like it was this night, you will hear my squeal in mild fear even anticipating the wave. I squeal before it hits – I most definitely work myself up to it.

At a certain point during this spring evening, I decided to turn around and face the shore and let the waves take me by surprise. Maybe I have done this before or maybe even hundreds of times but I doubt I have ever stood and thought so intensely about what I was doing.

Somehow, facing the opposite direction was less scary.

Not at first. Of course at first it’s downright freaky. You just stand there and you have no idea when the wave will hit or how big it will be. I hated it initially and then after a few waves I found myself enjoying it. Preferring it. I let the wave take me and I let my body respond how my body naturally responded. After all, this is nature – who I am to try and control it?

While there’s something to be said about preparation and placing your feet firmly on the ground when life throws you a curve ball – there’s something special about making a choice to turn around, and simply trust.

Its funny how facing the shoreline, I never squealed in fear, just in delight. Sometimes the wave was bigger than it sounded and it sent me under, but sometimes all that came was foam around my ankles and I realised I’d freaked out about nothing. We are way too good at working ourselves into a state of worry, a place of fear. Sometimes I think the best course of action in times of stress or heartache or confusion is to simply fix your eyes on Jesus, on the steady and constant shoreline and enjoy the beauty you still see around you.

If a wave comes, it might throw you off balance. But it also might turn out to be nothing at all. Actually, it might even be beautiful. You might even enjoy it.

Don’t focus on the pain and the problem. Enjoy the small things. Learn to appreciate the beauty that lies in surprise. Life is there to be lived, not anticipated.

Turn around, take your eyes off the waves. Go on, I dare you.

I let the water take me. Florence & the Machine.

Thoughts from the road.

This weekend I checked two things off my ‘The Last Single Girl’ list.

13. Go on a vacation by myself.

21. Go on a road trip.

This weekend I went on a road trip by myself.

Honestly it was one of best ideas/decisions/things I’ve had/made/done. I’d been feeling a little bit ‘bleh’ and decided just to do something a little bit spontaneous. I decided last Friday to go. Booked that night and the following Saturday morning I was off! I wasn’t too worried about having only myself for company, however I thought a one night trip would be a good starting place.

I stopped off for coffee at Blaine & Tegan’s before I left. Caffeine is critical for long drives but it also makes me happy. It also felt a bit like I had a cute little send off.

I drove to Byron Bay, which I’d actually never been to before. I drove up to the lighthouse.. walked around. Drove down to the beach. Sat on the beach and contempated life.

I had lunch and coffee at Bayleaf. Felt a bit judged with my slick hair and Prada handbag but got over it enough to enjoy the experience. And then I drove the last and longer leg of my journey on to Coffs Harbour. I stopped only once more to take a few photos and arrived in Coffs Harbour at 5pm.

When I road trip, I road trip in style. No backpackers or seedy motels. Resort luxury baby! Private access to the beach, a room that didn’t need to be that big. Pools, grassy lawns, sneaking a peak at a wedding they had that night. Yes, I think I’d make the right choice.

I wandered down to the jetty.. basked in the delightfully pink sunset. Picked up some dinner and settled in for some election updates which was all that was really on tv that night. I snuck a midnight (actually 8.30pm) swim and froze to death. Used every towel they provided me (6 in total). Took 2 showers and a bath and just generally enjoyed doing nothing.

Upon a recommendation from a local (B Ward represent) I went to Urban for breakfast, LOVED it. Stopped in at the beach again and then headed home.

Important lessons to be learnt from road trips.

  1. You are not invincible. My calves are aching today. I feel ridiculously tired, not relaxed. Whoops.
  2. Take a car with cruise control. Ouch. Seriously, my calves are SO sore.
  3. Go luxury. It’s worth it.
  4. Take photos. Lots of them.
  5. If you feel the need to talk to yourself, do it. I didn’t talk to myself, but I certainly did laugh out loud. Quite a lot. I laughed when I got to my room and realised how big it was. I laughed when I thought I’d take a shortcut back to my car from the beach and walked directly into a caravan park.
  6. Still talk to people. I think complete isolation is a bad idea when you travel alone.
  7. The whole point of being alone is that you can do things on your own timeframe. Eat dinner at 5pm, or 9pm if you wish. Stay up late, go to bed early, sleep in. Do whatEVER you want. WhenEVER you want.
  8. Get an amazing playlist. A mix between new songs and classics you love.
  9. Use a GPS. Not maps. I downloaded TomTom for my iPhone. Works a treat.. yells out directions to you and even if you have your headphones in, it will dim your music and let you know amazing things like ‘Keep going on Pacific Hwy for 76 km’. Ok great. Like I had other options.
  10. Snacks. That’s what I sort of forgot about. I should have gotten really into it and planned a little esky situation. Nope. Whoops.
  11. Look up places you want to go before hand. Research your coffee joints.
  12. Remember that there’s a time difference between the states. I got home way earlier than I needed to be due to a little thing we call Day Light Savings. Darn.

So many times I would sit/stand somewhere beautiful and think ‘Boy, I’m having such a good time’. And I would want to tell someone, but there was no one, and realising that was the main reason I was having such a good time was such a liberating experience. There’s something very important and necessary about open roads, relying on a map, street names you aren’t familiar with and a tiny bit of risk.

I’m sorry if you never see me on the weekends anymore, I will be adding more oil to my car (whoops again) and be road tripping all around our great country. Happy travels.

Paradise

It’s no secret to the world that I like blogging. I follow one or two travel blogs and a couple of travel tumblr accounts. I only follow a couple because I was so so sure that following them would make me depressed. I desperately want to see more of the world but a lack of money and dedication to save said money has prevented this. So far I’ve been basically no where. I’ve been to New Zealand, but only briefly for work and I’ve been to New Caledonia and Vanuatu. The worst part is I’ve only really been to Sydney and Melbourne when it comes to my own country. I’ve briefly visited Adelaide so I don’t think it counts and the only thing I’m proud of is how much of Tasmania I’ve seen.

I’ve realised that until I finish university and start earning the big dollars, my overseas adventures will probably be a little limited. BUT, Australia still awaits! I’ve realised that Australia is actually pretty amazing. I’ve become so accustomed to beautiful scenery that I’m almost not aware of it anymore. Hanging out with foreigners brings new light and perspective. They are so aware of how different and beautiful everything is here and I’ve come to appreciate the country I live in so much more because of that.

Images Courtesy of Tourism Queensland.

First Time for Everything

Today I used Skype for the first time. I never understood why people raved about it so SO much, but now I do.

It’s actually so important to see someone face to face, to hear their voice and to see their expressions and hand movements. Grace and I had a tea date today over skype. We talked for about an hour and a half and drank tea and discussed and chatted like we normally would. Skype is the best thing ever! Next to Grace Davis.

Grace – I love you and can’t wait for you to come home.

In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged.

Holiday

I’ve been thinking a bit about holidays recently. Sitting at a reception desk all day long makes you want to travel. To compile my own list I used the Top 50 must see places on the Getaway website.. (who knew that website would actually come in handy one day).

I used to always want to be a Getaway lady when I was older. Truth be told, I think I would still do it. Dad tried to tell me that it probably isn’t as fun as it seems, but I used to say that it would be more fun than going to school everyday. I guess if we were to have that conversation now I would say that it would be more fun than going to school, but school would be more fun than having a full time job.

Here’s my list of places to see (in no particular order)

1. Canadian Rockies 

 I’m reading a book series set in the Canadian Rockies, so this is why I’d like to go there. Also cos it’s beautiful.

2. The Amazon

It’s the second largest river in the world or something.  I read a book about the Amazon when I was little.. and while apparently I’ll be eaten alive by all sorts of things, I still want to go.

3. Prague

4. Ice Hotel in Sweden

Well who wouldn’t want to go to Sweden? But this would definitaley make it onto my list.

5. St Petersburg – anyone seen Anastasia? It looks pretty cool in the cartoon..

6. The Great Wall of China

7. Ireland

8. Rome

I want to go to Rome for fairly obvious reasons.

9. London

I want to go to London for fairly obvious reasons.

10. The Maldives

11. Santorini

12. Pyramids of Giza

A couple of years ago you couldn’t have convinced me to go to Egypt. I actually hate sand. But I have a fairly decent sized craving to go there. So much history, maybe half the books I read are set in Egypt. Okay, not half, but a big chunk.

13. New York

14. Paris

I dont’ really care how cliche Paris is. I still want to go there.

And yes, I realise that I want to go to these places because of books. The travel industry should really give more credit to authors.