Daydream

In a post I wrote earlier this year I talked about my struggle with writing since starting my new career, which involves writing professionally. I’m still battling this and to be honest, haven’t written anything personal since that post. Website content, scripts, reports, hundreds of captions – YES – but nothing blog worthy.

Last night as I was washing my face I was lamenting about how even after two weeks holidays, I didn’t feel like writing for fun. As I scrubbed the day away I pondered if I would ever get this whole ‘work writing, personal writing’ balance thing that I craved. I was reminiscing back on the old days where I used to write all the time and how I seemed to have all the time in the world to write down my thoughts and share them with people.

The reason I wrote so much then was because I had incredible awful and dull jobs and I wrote to help pass the time. That was where the dream began. It wasn’t anything deeply inspirational. I didn’t have a dream to write since I first learnt to put words together. Funnily enough when I was a kid, I used to dream about answering phones in an office. It wasn’t until I got that type of job out of necessity that I realised how awful it was, for me anyway. Writing was something I could do at my desk that didn’t look like social media. I first wrote because I was bored. I kept writing because I couldn’t stand my job and it gave me an escape. I wrote time and time again because it helped me. Eventually it became my dream.

My dream didn’t start out in an exciting way – it was borne out of a dull situation. I used to dream of the day when I could get paid to write and yet here I was, living the dream and almost longing for the yucky season that birthed the dream.

I guess why I finally picked up the pen again – why I resisted that very clever auto-play Netflix feature and jotted down these simple thoughts was because I thought someone out there might relate.

Perhaps there is someone out there like ‘past me’. Perhaps you are going through what seems to be a meaningless period of life and you might be encouraged to look around you and see what beautiful thing might be hiding in plain sight. You might have thought this season was a waste of time and nothing good could come from it but perhaps there’s a dream or a passion you’re discovering right now. Look for the thing that brings you joy in the midst of a trying time and run with it.

Perhaps there is someone out like the ‘current me’. Perhaps you used to dream of a time when things would be different where one day you might get paid to write or you could look after your children full time. You might be living your dream, something you longed for and never thought was possible, but now for some reason, it’s lost its allure. Don’t be like me and get so busy living your dream you forgot to be amazed by it.

I’m thankful for that challenging season because it gave me a dream. I’m thankful for this season where I get to live my dream and my challenge is balancing work writing and play writing. What a treat that is.

Word Limit: 2015-2016

Lately I’ve been challenged to think about my dreams and goals for the future. New Years is a common time to stop and think about what your dreams and goals are and to look back and assess whether you made any progress the year prior and what will you do to make more progress again.

One of my main dreams is to write. I love it. It’s what makes me tick. However in 2015 I didn’t really do it, pretty much at all. I had an interesting transitional year where I went from a job and part time study to an actual grown up career. I gave my all to that transition and while I don’t regret it, I did mean that I had little margin for creative writing. I now had to write for my job which was awesome but meant that I didn’t really invest into my writing outside of business hours.

So when it came to News Years and I looked back on 2015 to see how much progress I had made on my dream to write, I sort of felt like I’d failed. How could I say that this was what I wanted to do and yet I’d spent no time doing it? I’d always written out of desire instead of habit and now that I had little margin I had no habit to fall back on.

I wasn’t disappointed with 2015 but I was a little disappointed with myself.

“You call yourself a writer and yet what have you written this year?”
“Can you still write? What if you’ve somehow lost it?”

These are the conversations I started to have with myself.

Conversations with yourself are pretty risky. They have so much potential both for good and for destruction. Without even realising it I was reinforcing a false idea that somehow who I am is determined by what I do.

Today I had to remind myself that I could write zero words or 1 million this year and that doesn’t change who I am; I am still a writer. Today I had to remind myself that just because it’s your dream that doesn’t mean it comes easy. Today I had to remind myself to make a start, even if it wasn’t my best piece of work.

Perhaps you need that reminder too. Maybe you need to have a good conversation with yourself and say that what you’ve done or haven’t done in 2015 doesn’t have to define you or 2016. Maybe you just need to make an uninspiring but critical habit that will push you on towards your dreams. Maybe you just need to make a start. Come on, let’s do it together.

Hello 2015.

Dear 2015,

You don’t really know me, but my name is Steffany and I’ve actually been waiting to meet you for a long time. 20, even 10 years ago.. I wouldn’t have thought twice about 2015 but in recent years you’ve become quite important to me.

I don’t really know what you’re like 2015. I’ve stalked you online and in books I’ve read, but nothing seems to really be able to give me an accurate read on you.

Will you be fun? Will you be hard work? Will you be full of new exciting opportunities or will you actually be, a lot like 2014.

I hope you aren’t. I left 2014 for a reason.. It wasn’t all bad, but it just wasn’t right for me you know? The timing was all off and it just felt a lot like work.

2015, I wanted to tell you that while you may feel like just another year in the very long list of years, to me you are very important. I have worked hard to see you and to be honest, I’ve actually been a little nervous. You see 2015 is the very first year in which I won’t be a uni student. I can see that you still aren’t convinced. People finish uni all the time, what makes 2015 so special? Well for me.. 2015 is super significant. I’ve been at uni for the last 7 years and so to be without it, is very exciting. Daunting and exciting. I think you and I could be something special.

Am I putting a lot of pressure on you as a year? Maybe. Is it weird to say I kind of love you even though we just met? Maybe.

2015, you should know up front that’s just the kinda girl I am. But if you’re willing, let’s do this crazy weird thing called life together. I’m in 2015.. if you are?

Love,
Steffany.

My Means to an End

I had this great and confronting thought a little while ago when I was chatting to my housemate about people who hate their jobs. Those people who find themselves in what is neither a dream job nor a ‘I need to do this right now in order to be able to achieve something else’ job. You know the working part time at the Fish and Chip shop while you study type of job. There of course, is nothing wrong with working at a Fish and Chip shop, or at Woolworths or as a government admin officer if you legitimately love it – but the problem is that most of us don’t love it. It’s a means to an end and what I started to dwell on and couldn’t get out of my brain is what happens when the means to an end never ends and we find ourselves, knowingly, or unknowingly – stuck.

Depending on how well we know each other in the real world – you may or may not know that I am a part time university student. I’ve been studying for so long now that so many of the people in my life weren’t around before the study journey began and what led me to it all.

When I graduated high school – I had no idea what I wanted to do. It’s become a lot more common now but the concept of the “gap year” was fairly fresh and I was one of the few people who didn’t go straight into a degree or into a trade. I had some vague ideas about a communications degree but not wanting to force it and make a wrong decision at such an early stage of life – I deferred my degree and prayed that the “gap year” would resolve everything. As a way to pass the time and earn some money I landed a full time job as a Receptionist at a Real Estate. It wasn’t the dream by any means – but “gap year” for me wasn’t about fun times, it was about trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life.

A means to an end is something you are not really interested in but that you do, grudgingly or otherwise, because it will help you achieve something else. Gap year was my means to an end.

I didn’t love my job – in fact, I think I sort of hated it. I wasn’t being paid much and after 14+ weeks of school holidays I very quickly got over the phone ringing and it being my responsibility to answer it. However even though I hated it – I got used to it. The year rolled by and when a somewhat better Receptionist role came up – I moved on without giving my waiting deferred uni degree another thought. In fact, if I’m being honest – I think I purposefully forgot it.

After so many years of retrospective thinking – I think I can say that I was subconsciously afraid of university. Perhaps I was fearful of having no money after a year of a stable (albeit tiny) income or perhaps I was nervous that I wouldn’t like the course and I would waste my time by dropping out or if I was in fact, just straight up afraid that I wasn’t smart enough for uni –or some awful cocktail of the three combined. I didn’t want to be a “student” and so I pushed it from my mind and tried to focus on my Receptionist ‘career’.

What sucked about this was that the longer I stayed in what was initially my means to an end – the more I became dissatisfied with the means. It had way passed its expiry date and I began to resent it. I worked poorly on purpose, become one of those people who lived for the weekend and wished themselves sick in order to avoid work. It wasn’t a pretty picture but I wasn’t super prepared to change it. I was comfortable. Unhappy – but comfortable.

One Sunday I was chatting with an amazing couple at church and they were telling me about their daughter who was just about to graduate from the very degree I’d deferred. We talked a little of this and where I was at with work and while I don’t even remember asking for it he gave me the best advice said quite simply. ‘You should go and study now Steff – if you don’t do it now, you never will’.

For some unknown reason – his words rang true and I applied to university the very next morning. Was I scared? Absolutely! I had no idea how to even apply for uni let alone be a uni student. I was still afraid of failing but in the end, I was more scared of staying where I was forever – of not living up to potential I knew existed somewhere.

It would be so awesome if this was the end of the story but in so many ways it is only the beginning. While it was and still is one of the best decisions of my life – it has not been easy. I kept my admin career going as a way to pay for rent, bills and to metaphorically and literally fuel my weekends and despite the goal of achieving my degree – it was hard not to be overtaken by the soul crushing occupation that is Office Administration – my new means to an end. That sounds dramatic – but most ‘means to and end’ situations feel that way.

Now I only have mere weeks left of my degree and after many tough years where it felt like it would never end and after many tough jobs that I really didn’t love – the light at the end of the tunnel is practically blinding. I am equal parts ecstatic and afraid. When this ends, and I finally walk across that stage and get that darn piece of paper I will have to face the music and try and get started on my career – something for the last 7 years I’ve just been ‘working on’. My means to an end needs to come to an end and that scares me a little.

There’s something about the means to end process in which the longer we stay in it, the harder it is to get out. We learn to accept that seasons are hard and then we spend so long accepting it that when it comes time to leave the season behind, we don’t. Sometimes we go through a valley and a trial and there’s an important lesson to be learnt in those moments but so often, the valley season ends and God is standing on top of the mountain, applauding your learnt lesson and wondering why you won’t join him there. Sometimes we stay because we think there isn’t another option, that there isn’t a way out of our unhappiness. That is a lie.

I wanted to tell you this because I want you to know that you can do anything you want. If you can at all relate to what I’ve been through, then I want to give you that uncomfortable but necessary push that someone gave me. If you aren’t happy, you do have the power to change that. We need to learn how to swallow our fear or our pride and go do what needs to be done in order to live a fulfilling life. We can’t be the type of people who complain about our lot in life when we could quit that awful admin job and go learn how to fly a plan, or scuba dive, or be a mum, or become a florist. I’m not saying that you should quit everything that’s hard work – in fact, I’m saying the very opposite. Sometimes living the life God has called you to involves hard work. Sometimes it involves a ‘means to an end’ phase – but you have to make sure it ends. Don’t linger around the means because it’s comfortable – push forward. It’s not always easy but it will be worth it.

Move!

Quotes that make me think and that make me get up and do something!

Good things come to those who wait. Good things come to those who work their asses off and never give up.

The way to love anything is to realise that it may be lost. G.K Chesterton

Learn to let go of things you cannot control.

Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress. Epictetus

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength. – Philippians 4: 11-13

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

You cannot dream yourself into a character: you must hammer and forge yourself into one. Henry D. Thoreau

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up. Paul Valery

And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. Donald Miller

I’ve gone for too long living like I’m not alive. So I’m going to start over tonight beginning with you and I. I don’t want to run from anything uncomfortable. I just want, no I just need this pain to end right here. Miracle – Paramore

Shake it Off

2012. This year I really want to shake it up.

I’m not really sure what that means, all I know is, that I want to do it. I want this year to be different from last year, and if at all possible, I want it to be different than all the years before.

So many people have asked me what 2012 has in store for Steffany Willis (they probably just say Steff, but Steffany Willis sounds more pro) and I’ve come back at them with a ‘much of the same really’. I was content to reply with that, but the more times I said it, I thought.. is that really what I want? Do I want ‘more of the same’?

It isn’t really what I want.

Nobody really wants each of the years that God gives them here on this earth to be exactly the same as the year before, do they? I think people crave stability in their life, but they get that confused and then they become stationery. I want to move forward, do different things. Last year I got a small taste of what life can be like if you open yourself up to new people and new experiences.. and it was amazing.

This year will hold so many of the same things that 2011 did. I dont’ want to change who I am or ditch my life completely. I will most likely, still have this job at the end of the year. I have another year of university to complete. I want to have all the same friends I had last year. But – I want to come to work everyday with a good attitude, I want to put some effort into my study and I want my friendships to be deeper, sweeter and I want more of them.

What else do I want?

Oh if I could only express to you the kind of life I want to live. I get scared when I think about all that life holds. My stomach just flip flopped right then and there because I finally realise how much of my life there is left to live. If you had have asked me a year ago what I thought of my life, I would have told you that it was good and I would have meant it. But I know that I felt old. I felt like my best days were possibly had and I felt tired and lethargic ALL the time. So in lieu of New Years Resolutions, this year I’m just aiming to have a life that I want. And that other people would want.

I’m starting to figure out what I really want.

I want beautiful stories to read and to lose myself in.

I want to be swept off my feet. I think that could happen in so many different ways.

I want to dream dreams so big and wonderful that I wake up with tears in my eyes.

I want to laugh til it hurts. I want to laugh so much that maybe exercise isn’t necessary.

I want to drink the best coffee I’ve ever had and to eat the best meal of my life.

I want to dance. A lot.

I want all my relationships to grow deeper. With God, with friends, with others.

I want promotions. I want opportunities. I want financial freedom. I want sensational reviews. I want a career to develop out of my current workplace.

I want to feel creatively stimulated and to have my skills and assets actually used. I want to be reminded over and over again that Administration isn’t my calling.

I want to feel loved and I want to give love. I want to be someone who is quick to ‘fall’ for people. I’ve never been so unafraid to love people.

I want new clothes. And shoes. I really do.

I want to record 2012. In words, in pictures, on this blog. In 2022 I want to be able to remember what this year was like. I want to read the words I’ve written and remember the way I felt. I want to look at the pictures I took this year and appreciate all this year held.

I want this year to be significant. I want to be significant. And I’ll do what needs to be done to make that happen.

STOP living your life how you think it should be lived, how it has to be lived or how it’s always been lived. START living your life as if someone will read your autobiography when you die. JUST START LIVING.

 

Need to know basis.

At the risk of sounding very self absorbed.. here’s 10 things you probably didn’t know about me. Or did. But I don’t really care.

1. While blood normally makes me want to vomit, I really love the TV Show Bones. Go figure? Turns out Seely Booth can make a girl do basically anything.

2. I really love a good routine. But only for a limited time period. For about 2 weeks, I would make a cup of chai tea, heat up my hot water bottle, watch and episode of Bones and fall asleep EVERY NIGHT. Only for the two weeks though.

3. I learnt the trumpet when I was younger. It lasted about a year and as I never had a real aptitude for sheet music, I learnt all my pieces by ear. Turns out trumpet was harder than I thought.

4. I’m a brilliant rapper. Like gangsta music kind of rapping. I think it’s my ability to recall lyrics (or anything really) combined with the fact that I can talk at basically the speed of light, or sound, whichever is more appropriate.

5. My book and dvd collection is very extensive. I know where my salary goes now.

6. I am very scent driven. I love the smell of freshly cut grass, am allergic to cats and own over 10 different perfumes.

7. I think I actually prefer Coke Zero to regular coke.

8. I’ve only ever had one, maybe two nightmares in my whole life. My dreams are always REALLY pleasant, I often wake up and wish I had time to keep dreaming. Normally I live in Paris.

9. I love boardgames. Too much.

10. I’ve given speeches at people I hardly know parties. I think if I came to a randoms party, and there was an awkward enough silence, I’d give a speech. There’s something in me that hates the awkward moment so much, that I’d prefer that I feel awkward, then everyone else. Normally I enjoy awkward moments, but not during the speech section at someone’s birthday.

The Last Single Girl

Recently my friends, namely my best friends, have all gotten boyfriends. And while I’m very happy for them and their insane bliss, it can leave one feeling a little.. well.. unhappy with her current status. I actually enjoy being single, so to remind myself of the fact, I wrote a list. A list of 100 things I’d like to do while I’m still single. Not all of the things on this list are things you can only do while being single.. but it’s just a motivating list. I’ll try and remember to take pictures and keep a record of stuff I do, and then I’ll blog about it. I made it a list of practical and fun things. Here goes nothing..

  1. Learn how to change a tyre
  2. Watch Gilmore Girls Season 1-7 in a straight sitting
  3. Learn how to surf
  4. Read every C.S Lewis book
  5. Learn to knit
  6. Sing in a musical
  7. Spend a full day at a spa
  8. Learn how to salsa
  9. Make a creme brulee
  10. Climb a mountain
  11. Go sailing
  12. Take a photography class
  13. Go on a vacation by myself
  14. Go to see a boy band in concert
  15. See the Eiffel Tower
  16. Ride a horse
  17. Ride something bigger than a horse
  18. Go to the Olympics
  19. Sing kareoke
  20. Ask someone fairly random out
  21. Go on a road trip
  22. Bake a cake
  23. Fly a kite
  24. Fall asleep in a meadow
  25. Fly business class
  26. Go to Uluru
  27. Spend an entire pay on shoes
  28. Perform a handbrake turn in a car
  29. Hire out a car that’s out of my price range
  30. Read all Harry Potter books
  31. Read all Lord of the Rings books
  32. Sleep under the stars
  33. Go skinny dipping
  34. Buy a stranger a meal
  35. Go to a drive in theatre
  36. Jury duty
  37. Join a book club
  38. Become a liscenced minister
  39. Throw a surprise party
  40. Write a will
  41. Buy somebody a bunch of red roses
  42. Plant a tree, or a flower bush, or a vegetable
  43. Write a novel
  44. Shower in a waterfall
  45. Learn to juggle with three balls
  46. Go in a hot air balloon
  47. Make a hole in one
  48. Watch every James Bond film
  49. Read a book a fortnight for a year
  50. Leave a love note on a windscreen
  51. Watch the sun rise
  52. Jump into a pile of autumn leaves
  53. Do a first aid course
  54. Go for a full day without talking
  55. Give blood
  56. Spend a whole day naked
  57. Get a regular manicure and pedicure for a year
  58. Be a bridesmaid
  59. Make cookies for someone
  60. Eat an entire pizza on my own
  61. Donate more than a weeks pay to something worthwhile
  62. Preach at church
  63. Skull 2L of coke
  64. Cook everything from a cookbook
  65. Go to the ballet
  66. Write a song
  67. Enter a competition
  68. MC a wedding
  69. Write a handwritten letter to 10 friends
  70. Blog regularly
  71. Turn my mobile off for a week
  72. Be debt free
  73. Be in a TV audience for something. Pref. Ellen
  74. Not shave for a month
  75. Eat a tub full of icecream in one sitting
  76. Balance a checkbook (or get in control of my finances)
  77. Kiss someone I hardly know
  78. Sponsor another child
  79. Make a signature dish
  80. See ‘Wicked’
  81. Buy an iPad
  82. Put $20 in a letter and post it to a random address
  83. Pick wildflowers
  84. Visit the Canadian Rockies
  85. Own all the Lori Wick Books
  86. Sing someone a love song
  87. Get a charicature done of myself
  88. Drive in a limo to somewhere unexpected
  89. Make a dress
  90. See Coldplay or U2 or someone really big in concert
  91. Alphabetise my book collection
  92. Meet Hayley Williams from Paramore
  93. Ride on a bike with tassels and a basket
  94. Buy a house
  95. Be on TV
  96. Dance all night long – like literally all night long.
  97. Get retweeted by someone famous
  98. Faint from excitement or happiness
  99. Watch all my best friends get married
  100. Love Jesus always.

I reserve the right to change this list whenever and however I want and to complete these tasks in the time frame I choose.