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.

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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.

Games and the quest for Solitude

Ever since I lost my job (cue trials and tribulations post at another time) I spent a significantly smaller portion of my time in front of the computer. That is quite good for one’s clarity of mind and a bunch of other things except perhaps forgetting to pay the bills on time and keeping up to date with my blogs. I follow SO many blogs, fashion mostly and a couple of lifestyle blogs here and there. No real writing blogs. I didn’t really check them while I wasn’t in front of the computer daily and so now that my situation has changed I’m back to it. However, catching up has taken almost a month in itself.

I found myself reading a lot of posts centred around the idea of inspiration. Whether that’s fashion inspiration or someone who read a great article online and so shared it with everyone that follows their blog. Quite often, bloggers say that they are inspired by other bloggers. This surprised me because I know I tend to be the complete opposite.

The internet was extending me an invitation to play Inspiration and instead of accepting, I politely declined and played ‘The Comparison Game’ all on my own. And while I’m kind of talking nonsense, I suspect that when it comes to day to day life, there are actually hundreds of us playing Comparison alone.

I notice random things. Being aware or perceptive or whatever you want to call it means that I notice patterns and similarities. I notice when captions on social media start to replicate themselves and I also notice when bloggers are taking their inspiration from other bloggers as all of their posts start to line up and all of a sudden, in one week I read five ‘What’s in my handbag’ or ‘The perfect LBD’ posts. Now I’m not judging. I actually know how hard it is to come up with blogging content, especially on a daily basis. I’m actually taking my imaginary fashionable hat off to all of you but I’m definitely a little confused and surprised by it all.

I just finally finished catching up on all my blogs and then thought ‘Now would be a great time to write a blog post’ and was surprised when I sat down to write that I didn’t feel particularly inspired. Instead I felt jammed.

My ability to be creative is stifled by other people’s talent.

Is yours?

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that if you took you more than 2 seconds to mentally answer that question then it probably is. Unless you’re just the most secure person in history (where is your blog so I can take tips from you please) you’ve probably struggled with this at some point. Maybe you haven’t realised that’s exactly what it is you’re experiencing but perhaps, just like me, you’ve fallen trap to the Comparison Game.

I’m not saying I don’t find other people or their work inspiring, I do. My friend Sarah gifted me ‘The Book Thief’ a couple of years ago and I enjoyed it immensely. Just recently I watched the film and came away feeling inspired to write and document the frailty and beauty of life. I read those blog posts and it inspired me TO write. But when I actually sat down, with the pen and paper in hand, I really struggle to come up with anything I liked. That was before I even put the pen down on the page. In my head, it was all wrong. Have you ever felt like this, maybe not with writing, but with some other skill?

This is lame, everyone else is WAY better at this than me. I can’t draw
Oh no, this looks way too much like something I’ve already read, they will think I’m not original, LAME.
I am an average singer, nothing like all those crazy talented folks.
My business model wouldn’t have as many features as his, I don’t think I’ll present it today.

Why do we think like this? Say it with me now.. I am equal parts inspired and threatened by talent.

That’s right, threatened. Having an uncertain chance of continued survival which stems out of insecurity. You’re worried you haven’t got ‘it’ anymore. You’re worried you never had ‘it’ in the first place and that fear, stifles our ability to do what we were made to do.

One day I want to be truly comfortable in my own ability so that I can read a great piece of fiction, or prose and have the desire and the creative juices-a-flowing to write my own thoughts down, without the fear of comparison. Until then, I am my most creative when I have nothing and no one to compare myself too. And so for me, that means solitude. Solitude of the mind. I clear out everything I’ve recently read, gawked at, listened to, shared online. I tell myself “you can do this” three times over. And I intentionally remove the pressure that I place on myself.

And then, and only then, can I truly do what it is I’m called to.

If you’ve got this gifting thing down, then great – this post wasn’t for you. If you’re still on a journey to saying no to the Comparison Game, then get a little solitude. You can’t compare yourself to something you don’t know exists. Just don’t play the game!

Eventually, over time, you learn to do the thing you love without the fear of comparison, or rejection or being lame. Eventually you become inspired by the people around you and you can start living out of inspiration and stop comparing your uniqueness to someone else’s.

I’ll hold your hand until we get there.

In the meantime, in the spirit of inspiration. If  you’re ready for it, you should check out this post which is directed at women and our awful talent for bringing others down instead of building them up. It definitely inspired me to be a better lady.
Women vs. Women and a little thing called Self-Respect

Heart-Warm-Ing

For those who have been checking this site for updates, well I’m sorry and bless you for still looking.

Contrary to what it might look like, I haven’t been struck with a severe case of writers block, nor have I just been too busy to post anything. In fact, I just have been too busy with another writing project.

I wanted to fine-tune my writing to something more accessible than the types of posts you would normally see here. Something shorter. Something sweeter.

I’ve been wanting to hold off on sharing this blog until it was perfect. But I just can’t. Perhaps it will never be perfect, but I want you to be able to see this new thing I’ve created, this new thing I’ve been spending my time on.

We’ll call this a soft launch, a special preview for all you loyal blog readers.

www.heart-warm-ing.com

Modern day fables and stories to warm the heart.

Heartwarming capture

I will still be keeping .Steffany. active, for those pieces that don’t fit into the Hear-Warm-Ing market.

Feel free to get in touch with any feedback you have about this or my new site.

You can do that by emailing me – steffanywillis@gmail.com

LOVE TO ALL.

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

Follow Friday

Blogs you should check out.

Miss Pinches.

My lovely friend Hannah is an amazing blogger. Now that she has an amazing camera by her side, her blog has been ever better. She’s a brilliant list maker and pulls insight out of the smallest things. It’s wonderful to read because I know her and is a great way to keep in touch with her life, but basically, Miss Pinches is for the masses. I laugh and appreciate this blog so much.

My Favourite Colour is SHINY.

This girl can’t be stopped. Like literally, we are looking at a post every single day. So many people start blogs and then stop posting after ooo.. 5 posts. Tegan is getting set to hit 100 already! People who love design and beautiful images will get a kick out of this blog along with some personal insights as well. Hands up if you never want the blogging to end? *both of my hands literally went up*.

William + Laura

I’ll be honest and say that both William and Laura are individually great bloggers. But perhaps not as consistent posters on their own blogs as they are on their couple blog. This blog is pretty darn cute and I think every couple would read it thinking ‘I wish our lives were cool/photographable enough to warrant a couple blog’. Lately they’ve been showcasing their wedding shots which are pretty amazing. I even feature – so you should head on over there and love a little on that blog.

Sarah Starrenburg

If you’re looking for intelligent writing, prose, theological thoughts and other wonderous things I wish I could come up with in my head. You should read Sarah’s blog. She posts daily which for a pure writing blog – is AMAZING. I wish I could write like that. I think everyone does. Except Sarah, she probably wishes she could write better. Sarah is one of my longtime favourite people and is one of the most consistent people I know. Her blog is equally as consistent.

Kendi Everyday

This is my favourite fashion blog. Kendi reminds me of friends I already do have and makes me wish I could be her friend and steal things from her wardrobe. She posts a daily (get it!) outfit and other miscellaneous things thrown in. I think her style is wonderful, realistic, classy and I’m super envious of her hair. Ladies, you won’t regret subscribing to Kendi Everyday.

Girl Removed

This blog belongs to Gemma Bird. It’s a newly created, freshly, regularly updated travel/devotions blog that centres around Gemma’s recent move to Canada. I love travel blogs, they are always filled with funny little stories and tidbits of wisdom. I also love and miss Gemma, so this blog is perfect.

The Setting Sun

It’s a vast sea of colours. Pink, blue, green, purple, orange, yellow. If you squint it looks like someone squirted many tubes of paint onto a canvas and smeared them all together. The intensity of the colours is only overtaken by the sound that grows louder and louder the closer I get to the street.

Passion. Anger. It’s a protest.

What are they protesting? It’s a passing thought as my focus is on getting back to that spot in the pavement. That slightly uneven spot in the pavement where I stumbled earlier. I must have dropped it there. I must have. Why is the pavement uneven? Is there perhaps a root underneath that is uplifting the cement? It too a passing thought as I push past women, children.

Fear. Regret. A really big mistake.

He warned me not to even bring it with me. Where are all the men? The ragged thumping near my chest grows as I edge closer and closer to the fountain. Thump. Thump. Silence. A small boy squatting with something in his fingers.

Passion. Anger. It’s a protest.

Perhaps on instinct, he turns. Maybe 6, dark curly hair, eyes that dance. Why is he running? I tell my brain to tell my feet to run after him but nothing happens. It’s like a dream and my legs are filled with cement. How can the boy know it’s value. I yell out stop as I try and remember the local language.

Fear. Regret. A really big mistake

This mistake was the misjudgment of distance. Add red to the list of colours on show as warm blood spills onto yet another bump in the pavement. It must be a uplifted root. The child is gone. Around a corner?  Hiding behind a sign marked ‘NO MORE..’. What is this protest? Salty tears. Broken sobs.

I Could Write A Book

Firstly, Happy 2010 everyone.

2009 was my year of writer’s block. It wasn’t a great year. Perhaps that showed because Laura Fraser bought me this awesome little book for Christmas called ‘Creative Block – 500 ideas to ignite your imagination’. So I’m going to start using it.

“Write random words. Just type”

And so I shall.

I’ve just moved house. Again. It seems that at this time of year, every year, I am moving house. It’s not a fun thing to be doing in your holidays, so hopefully I won’t be moving at the end of 2010. I’ve moved back home with my mother and sister (let’s see how long I last here, Georgia better not steal my favourite shoes!) and I’m still in the process of setting up my room. Try moving a 4 bedroom house into a tiny room. I have gone from having a queen bed, duchess, big tv cabinet, little tv cabinet, couch and a bedside table all in one room, plus a walk in robe and an ensuite. I now can only fit a King Single Bed, One Tv Cabinet, a Beside Table and a bookshelf. And it’s pretty cramped. My favourite part of the room is not my lovely antique bed that my parents bought me in 2008 for my birthday. Or the cute matching bedside table and mirror that hangs above it. It’s not my now fairly impressive dvd collection, or even my delightfully beautifully large clock that Georgia bought me for my 21st.

You probably guessed it, the favourite part of my room is my bookshelf. I had two bookshelfs at my last place, but I can only fit one into my room now. I’ve never had a bookshelf in my room before and I really love it. It’s right next to my bed and it means I can’t really fit past on one side of my bed, but I really love that it’s in reaching distance from my bed. It means that when I finish one book in the wee hours of the night, I can just reach over, put it back, and grab another one. I also really love, that the bookshelf is full. And full of books that I actually own, not that books that I’ve borrowed out from the library, or stolen from my Dad to bulk up the collection. I love the variety of books too. I’ve got lots of historial fiction trilogies. The Chronicles of Narnia sets. Jane Austen’s. Christian Self Help Books Galore. Scary books. Romance. A decent collection of Anne of Green Gables. Some travel books. Twilight. Fashion books.

I do have a problem though. As I said before, my bookshelf is full. I’ve actually had to stuff a few of the lamer books underneath the bed to make sure all the good books fit. I don’t know what to do when I buy another book. In fact I know I have two books on order from Amazon, so I’m not sure where they will go. And I just realised I didn’t factor in the book I’m reading at the moment. What a delightful problem to have though! When I’m older, and hopefully a lot wealthier, I’m going to have a library in my house. Which means of course, that I’ll be wealthy enough to fill the library with actual books. I was talking to someone the other day about books, she’s only owns a few books and borrows everything else from the library and through book clubs and swapping books with friends. I wonder why it is that some people like to buy their books and some people don’t care to own them, they just want the joy of reading the book and then being done with it.

Perhaps. Perhaps it is because I will often read a good novel more than once. I’ve read Arabian Winds (one of my favourites) at least 4 times. So I’m really glad I own that one. Perhaps I like the idea that by having a lot of novels in my home, I appear well read. I’ve hardly read anywhere near the amount of books I want to read, even for my age. But I feel owning books makes you seem smarter. Perhaps I just love to look at books. Before I went through all my books, and pulled them out a tiny bit, so they were all roughly level with each other when you look down the book case. I like how they look all even. Although the great thing about novels in the different shapes and sizes they come in. So perhaps when I get sick of it, I’ll go and push them up flush with the bookshelf and marvel at all the different heights and widths. Perhaps it’s a romantic notion of mine. Romantic isn’t actually the right word to use, but I’m drawing a blank at what the best word to use would be right now? Some of my favourite scenes in movies are in libraries. Beauty & the Beast, Becoming Jane. Wait, let’s talk about Beauty and the Beast for a moment. The Beast gives Bell a library as a gift! Now I am a gifts person, as well as a books person. And that’s a big hint to anyone who’s ever trying to impress me. I would have fallen in love right then and there. I think I cried a little bit in Transformers 2 when the crazy robot Home and Away chick is coming to attack what’s his name. And they hide in the uni library. The library totally gets blown to pieces and you can see books flying around the place, catching on fire. I love books, I love libraries, I love reading.

Hmm.. I obviously love writing as well. That wasn’t as hard as I thought.

This year is the year of regular blogging, much book reading and generally just enjoying life more.

Oh.. and many other serious, life changing type things of course.

Faces in the Crowd

If it is true that a picture paints a thousand words, then there was a Roman centurion who got a dictionary full. All he did was see Jesus suffer. He never heard him preach or saw him heal or followed him through the crowds. He never witnessed him still the wind; he only witnessed the way he died. But that was all it took to cause this weather-worn solder to take a giant step of faith. “Surely this was a righteous man.”

That says a lot, doesn’t it? It says the rubber of faith meets the road of reality under hardship. It says the trueness of one’s belief is revealed in pain. Genuineness and character are unveiled in misfortune. Faith is at its best, not in three-piece suits on Sunday mornings or at V.B.S on summer days, but at hospital besides, cancer wards and cemetries.

Maybe that’s what moved this old, crusty soldier. Serenity in suffering is a stirring testimony. Anybody can preach a sermon on a mount surrounded by daisies. But one one with a gut full of faith can live a sermon on a mountain of pain.

No Wonder They Call Him the Savior – Max Lucado

 

Really enjoying getting into reading more again during this 21 days. I think Max Lucado is an amazing writer. He writes about amazing things but his writing skills are also top notch. Something about the way he weaves words together makes you want to read and read and read. As if I needed any incentive!