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

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#valentinesdaypost

Have you ever been in love?

I don’t know about you, but love is all I can really think about on Valentines Day. I don’t know if that was the original intent, I thought the whole day was probably set up to make you think about flowers and chocolates for the one you love. But either way – you win. Here I am, February 14th and as I already spend a great deal of time thinking about flowers (best friend is a florist) and chocolate (addict) instead, I’m thinking about love.

I sort of wish that I wasn’t you know. Even as a fairly secure single Christian girl it’s still not ideal to spend a lot of time thinking about love. Especially if you’re not in love, hence your singledom. It’s a strange vicious cycle. Either way, I can’t avoid it, love.

I’ve been sitting here thinking about love and trying to figure out why it is that I don’t really want to think about it. I’ve been sitting here thinking about how singles fear and dread February 14th. I mean, it can’t be because we all really want flowers in our home or to eat that delicious Cadbury Popping candy chocolate – because you can fairly easily attain these things. It can’t even be because we are afraid of being alone. I mean maybe that’s it for some people, but mostly, you can find a bunch of other single people who don’t want to be alone on Valentines Day and then you’ve got yourself a party. All this thinking and I think I’ve put my finger on the painful part.

It’s not the chocolates, or that we’ll have to spend a random Thursday night in. It’s that February 14th is this yearly reminder that nothing has changed. It’s like a terrible score card that singles can check off and say ‘yep, still hasn’t happened’.

I think we don’t want to be reminded about love.

Because, love is like the most important thing right? It drives everything. You know it’s what you want and you know [sort of/hopefully] that God has it all under control, but in order to save yourself from stress/pain/worry, you spend all year trying to avoid love. You spent the whole year being good and being content with being single and then February 14th rolls around and you’re like, damn. Unavoidable.

Valentines Day messes with the worst most dangerous emotion or feeling that there is. And it isn’t loneliness – its trust. Valentines Day messes with your trust.

Do you trust God?

I think that’s the hardest question of all.
It’s a fairly easy one to answer – just say yes silly.
It should be easy because 98% of the time, we do. We trust that God will provide. We trust that God has our best interests at heart. We trust that God’s love never fails. It’s that tricky 2% of the time when life challenges your trust.

If the question was simply, do you love God? That would be easier.
I think I always love God. I sometimes fall in and out of intimacy, but I always love God.
Trust though? Do I trust God?

Valentines Day falls into the icky 2%. It’s when stats and flowers and loneliness all combine to test and challenge the rest of the year when trust was easy.

This year, make a choice to trust God.

Maybe you struggle to trust God with love, but maybe it’s with something else. Maybe it’s with your finances, or your hopes to have a family one day, or to be successful, or just to be happy. If you’re in that hard place where every thing is screaming “give up, He doesn’t care” – then push back and say no.

Take yourself out on a date and say no.
Apply for another job, assume you’ll get it. Say no.
Try again, even though you feel like it’s all done for and tell that doubt, no.

Sometimes trust feels whimsical. Like believing in fairies or something. You put your faith in crazy important things, but trust seems a little foolish at times. It seems like a wishy washy weird concept.
It’s not. Trust is hard. Trust is gutsy. Trust is for the strong and not the weak.

When it feels hard, give doubt a punch in the face and say no. Tell that 2% that you choose trust.

Irrepressible

Alliteration is probably one of my most favourite things. I unintentionally frame sentences together using unhealthy amounts of alliteration. A little while ago on this very blog I came up with a list of the ten qualities I most wanted in a man entitled, My Top Ten. All of the qualities start with the letter A. I’ll probably want to marry someone with a last name that starts with the letter S and name my kids Sufjan and Stella such is my fascination with alliteration. When I was thinking through this blog and where I wanted to take it, I spent a lot of time dwelling on, myself really. I thought about who I wanted to be and what I wanted to be known for and how I wanted this blog to represent that. I came up with three words, all starting with the letter I. Irrepressible, Intentional and Immovable.

I remember the first time I heard the word irrepressible. I don’t remember what I was doing or what I was wearing but I remember the feeling. You know you’re a word nerd when you remember how you felt the first time you heard a word. I liked how it sounded. How it rolled off the tongue. I liked the context it was used in, I liked that I didn’t know what it meant and maybe others didn’t either. I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to use that word more often’. Just like psychedelic, that word definitely needs to come back.

IRREPRESSIBLE
impossible to repress, restrain, or control <irrepressible curiosity>

I remember the first time someone described me, Steffany, as irrepressible. I think at the time I wondered if they meant it as a compliment or a bit of insult. It’s sort of one of those words like infamous, where it just confuses you a bit. Does infamous mean more famous or less? Is being irrepressible a negative quality or a positive quality?

After much thought and processing, I’ve realised that Irrepressible is a quality I want to be known for.

I’ve always been a strong person. I think I grew up naturally irrepressible. There wasn’t a lot about my personality that could be repressed. I found restraint difficult and my parents would definitely attest that I was impossible to control. But somehow, over time.. those things faded, at least internally. I think I always conveyed myself as a strong, tough, secure person but inside I was battling. I felt that I had to repress certain parts of my personality. The parts people maybe didn’t like. I got sick of being told to use my “inside voice” and I started to repress. It wasn’t who I was naturally – but I somehow learnt repression.

In psychiatry they explain repression as the unconscious exclusion of painful impulses, desires, or fears from the conscious mind. For me it was just the exclusion of desires due to fear. That feeling or emotion I wanted to express but for whatever reason, society, past disappointment, criticism, peer pressure – I held it within.

I think with anything that you repress, it comes out in weird ways. If you repress anger, it comes out in unhealthy ways, bouts of rage that seem to come from nowhere. I think it’s the same if you repress your personality, the very things that make you, you. You start to get weird outbursts of uncharacteristic behaviour. You find yourself saying things you don’t really mean, making friendships that aren’t really wise, and living a life entirely different to what you know. A life very far from where God wants us to be.

Our world is slowly but ever so surely moving away from genuine, authentic, real relationships yet I have discovered – that is exactly what people want. We can smell a fake a mile off and we want nothing to do with it. Yet for some reason – we repress the very natural, unique characteristics that make us beautiful. What good does that do anyone?

We need you.
I need you.
God needs you.
YOU.

Stripped away of my fear and removed from critiquing eyes, I am at my most comfortable and my most crazy. I am loud and loopy and loving. That’s the thing that confused me most. Somehow I let society dictate to me that I couldn’t be loud, passionate, strong, and wild and so I gave up irrepressibility – along with it, I somehow gave up the ability to love without restraint.

Maybe you were hurt and hurt pretty bad. Made to feel like there were parts of you that you needed to hold back on. Don’t hold back on love. I get that it’s hard – but don’t hold back on love.

I want to have an irrepressible joy that ceases to overflow.
I want to have an irrepressible faith that is pushed and tested but never waivers.
I want to have an irrepressible love that can’t be contained.

I want to be irrepressible. I want that for you.

Happy Talk

Who says you can’t be happy all the time? I know, but I’m still going to try. Lifehouse Family.

Replacing a dead pair of shoes with a brand new pair and the feeling of kicking off a pair of new shoes you are wearing in. Happy.

Texts, letters, postcards, emails – any form of written encouragement. Happy.

Catchy riffs and carefully constructed lyrics. There’s something about the power of a beautifully written song that sends me to my happy place.

Ticking things off lists, feeling productive. Happy.

An equally balanced friendship. It sounds mathematical but knowing you are appreciated in a friendship and feeling so grateful for the other person – knowing the other person is in the exact same place is actually rather wonderful and it makes me happy.

The presence of God. The inexplicable presence. Happy.

Small pleasures like lipstick stains on a coffee cup, the quick squeeze in a long embrace, wearing socks to bed only to kick them off under the covers and hitting snooze on Saturdays. That’s happiness.

Christmas time. I love carols, presents and sleeping on Christmas afternoon – it’s the only time I like to nap. Happy Happy Happy Christmas.

Losing your stomach in a fast car. Driving fast, being driven fast. Fast cars.

People have the love language ‘gifts’ all wrong. We don’t just want things and more things and perferably more expensive things. The very fact that you thought of me and then took any time or any amount of money at all is enough. It makes me happy when someone understands that and then does there best to show me love this way.

The look in someone’s eyes when God speaks to them and they just get it.

The rare opportunities I get to spend with my whole family. Happy Steffany.

Impersonations and accents. Deliveries in the post. Nailing a rap.

It makes me happy when someone understands that the Steffany the world sees is a myth and it makes me even happier when someone tries to discover what’s beyond that.

Writing makes me happy. I love to sit and write about nothing and everything. Sometimes when I have nothing to say – I just rewrite lyrics or poems. Just putting a pen to paper makes me happy.

Finding that comfy position. Whether it’s with a book in an amazing couch, that illusive sleeping position or the perfect fit within someone’s arms. There’s nothing quite like it.

Acting. Creating something from nothing.

Alliteration. Books. An empty house. Getting ready at my own pace. Answering questions – either about myself or on behalf of other people.

Helping other people. Sharing my mistakes in order to help someone else grow. It makes me happy to know that my pain wasn’t for naught.

My best friends. People who know me and who I switch off with. I love feeling free. I love not wearing “makeup” with them. I love that people are as honest with me as I am with them. I love that I live in a country, grew up in a family and am surrounded by friends who have encouraged me to be exactly who I am.

That, makes me extremely happy.

A Short Note

Hello blog readers!

I’m so happy to announce that there are more than 5 people who read this blog. January proved to be one of the best months I’ve had in terms of consistently higher views that I’ve had since 2009. So just a quick note to say THANKS.

I’ve been trying to put a lot more thought and time into my blog and it’s so hard to blog this consistently without a set theme like travel updates or gorgeous interior design shots and without .. well.. the ability to draw at all. This blog is very personal and it makes me very happy to know people like to read what’s here.

In February you can look forward to the following things.

  • An update on my ‘The Last Single Girl’ list. I’ve crossed a few things off which I’m excited about.
  • My Top Ten Tips for being a better receptionist.
  • Quotes from yours truly.
  • A book review or two.
  • ‘The Hunt for True Love’.
  • More random thoughts, pictures and insight into moi.

Most of the time, I love this blog. It’s been a lovely part of the last 6 years and I’m glad you like it too.

Love,

.Steffany.

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.

Christmas

Lately I’ve been loving on my tumblr a lot more than my blog here. BUT the good news is that I’ve got some lovely pictures to share with you to make you feel all Christmassy inside.

I love Christmas baubles. Nicole bought me some baubles for Christmas and I just love them.

How cute are these!!

Gaily the ring, while people sing songs of good cheer – Christmas is here!

This looks so amazing – I want to see it in real life!

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful” – Norman Vincent Peale

Scott Calvin: Here we are. Denny’s. Always open.
Charlie: I don’t wanna eat here.
Scott Calvin: What are you talking about? Everybody likes Denny’s, it’s an American institution.


Yes that is a book Christmas tree and probably the coolest thing ever!

Merry Christmas Bloggers – and thanks for reading .Steffany. this past year – one of my biggest blogging years yet!

xo