Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Let's Talk- Interview With a Sister

You guys are in for a real treat today!  Many of you know that I have a sister, and you have probably heard me say things such as "oh, my sister wrote a book" or "oh, my sister lived in Africa" or "oh yea, my sister is in another play."  Well, get ready to meet the woman behind the legend!  She is the one I call when I need to feel brave, the one who got me to wear skinny jeans, and the reason my hair has blonde tips at the end.  I love my sister..she is an awesome person who has done so much in her life.  I am thrilled to have her answering some questions about her life and work...and some of these questions were even submitted by readers of this blog!  And so, I will now turn this blog over to my big sister!  (And by the way, check out the link to where you can buy her novel- it is one of my absolute favorite books and would be even if my sister didn't write it. Truly a book worth reading!)

Me and Stef a year ago

Hello everyone!  I am very honored to be interviewed today for Ashley's blog.  For those of you who don't know me, I am Stefanie DeLeo, Ashley's older sister.  I am 30 years old, single and have no kids.  As you can see, Ashley and I lead very different lives!!  I am an actress, writer, director and teacher.  People often tell me that I am an interesting person.  I have to say, however, that when I read Ashley's blog, I always think, "wow, my sister is so interesting!"  To me, my life is just normal, but I do realize that I have a unique set of experiences.  I have a publisher, I've lived in Africa and have been all over the world.  But even so, a blog written by a woman with 6 kids inspires me every week!  With that in mind, I hope that I can inspire you through this interview.  The main thing I want to express is that all of our unique life experiences are used by God to lift one another up.  Without further ado, here is an interview from a woman who grew up in the same home as Ashley - only one year apart in age - if you can believe it!!

(*Please stay tuned at the end where I am going to donate money to New Hope Church in Albany; a church that I know is near and dear to Ashley’s heart.  All you have to do is like my writer’s page on facebook and/or watch my youtube video and/or follow me on twitter and for every new like/hit, I will donate!)

What do you do for a living?
That’s a loaded question!  I am a teacher, actress, writer, director and world traveler!  My “day job” is teaching middle and high school.  I teach history and social studies as well as drama.  My hobbies/dream jobs are the latter four.  I’ve also been in the Peace Corps, where I lived in South Africa for two and a half years.

What does your typical day look like?
That depends largely on whether I am doing a show or not.  Every day I begin work at 8am.  I teach middle and high school drama, 12th grade AP Government, 6th and 10th grade World History, 8th and 11th grade United States History.  I teach until 4:10.  At that point, my day depends on if I am acting or directing.  If I am doing a show, I would go home, eat as quickly as possible, memorize lines in the shower and then go to rehearsal until 11pm.  Then weekends usually are full day rehearsals, and Sundays I make time for church.  If I am not in a show, I come home from work and put on my “comfy clothes,” work on my writing and watch tv.  About three nights a week I meet up with friends at a local coffee house or restaurant.  I was just given a private audition at a big theatre in Westport.  If I am cast, this will be the largest part I’ve even taken on as an actress.  I would be the lead in a three hour show – in every single scene!  Which basically means I won’t have a life again until the show closes.

What advice do you have for people who want to get involved in a hobby like writing, knitting or painting?
The most common complaint I get is “I have no time.”  I am a firm believer that idle time is the devil’s workshop.  I always get way more done when I’m busy than when I am not.  As you can see from my day, if I am doing a show, I also have “no time.”  The reality is that finding time is a choice and sometimes a sacrifice.  When I am doing a show, I am working nonstop from 8am until 11pm.  But, I always say to myself and others, try to squeeze 15 minutes a day for your craft.  And don’t beat yourself up if it takes you 14 minutes just to wind down and get started on whatever project it is you do.  Fifteen minutes may not sounds like a lot, but 15 minutes a day adds up to seven and a half hours a month!  That’s a full day’s work right there!  Remember that for most people, finding time is a sacrifice.  It means fifteen minutes less sleep or fifteen minutes less tv.  If you have kids or work long hours, it means fifteen minutes less of “me time.”  But here’s the trick.  Start to think of your craft as your “me time.”  For some of you, it may be tackling a huge organizational project and for some of you, it’s scrapbooking.  Instead of thinking of it as losing “me time,” start to think it as making time for “me time.”  When I write, that is my “me time.”

Tell us about your travels.
Currently, I have been to 19 countries, 5 continent and 27 US states.  I live to travel!  My favorite countries are Italy, Iceland and Kenya.  Though I will always have a heart for South Africa.  Japan was a country I enjoyed more than I expected to and I ate the best in Argentina!

Erica asked what it was like growing up with Ashley!  I love this question!
As you can tell, Ashley and I are very different people!  So as young kids, I saw her as the carefree bratty sister that was only one year younger.  Our minimal age gap meant lots of competition and an overlap of friends, which drove me nuts as a kid!  She was the very typical carefree younger sibling, and I was the very typical rigid, neat and “fair” older sister with a thirst for justice on even the smallest offense.  By the time we got to middle school, we were best friends.  We found a church youth group and our friends overlapped, so we learned to think of each other as friends.  As adults, we’re just as different from one another as we were as kids, but in different ways.  She has stayed put for about nine years, and I cannot remember anyplace that I’ve lived for longer than a few years.  But we both still ask each other for advice since we know we can offer such a different perspective than our usual circle of friends.

Lori asked what the thing I miss most about South Africa is and if I am planning a visit.
I think the people and the scenery.  I made some amazing friends over there.  I also miss the constant feeling of “oh my gosh, I live in AFRICA!”  That honestly never got old even though I was there for two and a half years!  As for going back, I did go back to visit in February of 2011, and as much as I miss it, I have to be honest, that is probably it for a while.  There are just so many places in the world that I still want to see.  It’s also a 20 hour flight to South Africa, and that really does make me exhausted.  I need at least two weeks to make that type of trip worth it.

Where is your next trip?
California on Wednesday! (Feb 13).  I’ve already been there several times, but I am in love with Los Angeles and could possibly see living there one day, even if only for a summer or a year or two...who knows?  I have a pen pal in Northern Ireland that I’ve been writing to since I was 12 years old.  That means we’ve been writing for almost 19 years and I’ve never met her!  We are very much in touch, but need to get to Ireland!  Greece is also high on my list along with New Zealand.  I would like to hit all seven continents, so that would mean getting to Australia and Antarctica and YES I do plan to do both!

Jennifer asked if I ever get tired of people asking “When are you going to get married?”  How do I respond and am I afraid of losing any of my freedom.
This is an interesting question.  Thanks, Jennifer!  I actually almost never get asked this question.  Many of my circle of friends are more like me, and the thought of marriage at the ripe young age of 30 would be crazy!  In fact, more people ask, with intrigue, if my sister ever regrets getting married so young.  It’s all about perspective, I guess.  However, there are still people who ask me that question, and many single women my age do have to confront this question at some point.  My knee jerk reaction is to say that this is an insulting question, because it’s usually is asked in a way that implies that I am somehow missing something.  Which, as a believer, I know that if I follow God, I won’t miss a thing – married or unmarried!  Most people have made choices, in their lives, based on their wants and desires.  But, other times, we have to submit to God’s wants and desires for our lives.  So I am as happily unmarried as many of you may be happily married.  Do I EVER want to get married?  Yes, one day, in God’s timing I would like to get married.  And I am not afraid of losing my freedom, because my husband would have to be a nomadic spirit just like me.  The right guy will only give me more freedom, not less.  I would say freedom is very subjective.  We are all free to do as we wish.  If you made the choice to have kids, than that is the freedom of raising kids.  One day, I hope to adopt kids (slightly older like 4 or 5).  To me, when I make that choice to adopt, that will be a new type of freedom.  I won’t see it as the end of my travels, it will be the beginning of providing a life for someone else – and hopefully, God willing, my kids will be my new travel buddies!  My advice to anyone who is married, single, with children, or without is to recognize the freedoms we all have.  The freedoms to work within God’s will.  We’re all part of the Church body, and some of us need to be raising the next generation, while others act as ambassadors of Christ all over the world.  Sometimes, the blessing of being single is being able to serve others (overseas or in our own neighborhood) selflessly without the guilt of leaving my family.  I let God be the author of my life, and when He puts my husband before me, then (and only then) will the time be right.  Until then, I take advantage of all the things I know I can only do while I am single – because that is where God wants me at the moment.

Sarah asked what I spend most of my money on.
Traveling and food.  I love to travel and any extra dime I get goes on planning a vacation.  I also love to go out to eat.  My hair, clothes and all those other things are secondary to traveling.

Matt asked during my travels, what was the most unique thing/experience I came across?
Well, I could tell country-specific stories.  But for anyone thinking of traveling, but are maybe afraid or timid, I’ve chosen to talk about an interesting airport story.  I’ve been on a plane alone many times flying all over the world.  The one most unique travel experience actually happened in an airport.  I was flying home alone ahead of my group from Kenya.  The only way to not buy a new ticket was to fly the exact same route back to the US that I had flown coming to Kenya.  That meant flying from Nairobi to Uganda to Belgium to Washington DC to Kansas City, then on to Chicago then finally home to New York.  And I was all alone.  Every leg of my flight was overbooked or canceled for some reason.  In Belgium I was told my ticket was invalid and I had to pay for a new one.  I was there for six hours arguing my way out of buying a new ticket.  Then, I ended up stuck in Washington with my luggage on a plane to Kansas City and me bumped off the flight.  I slept in DC, argued my way into a direct flight to New York only to have that flight canceled due to thunderstorms in New York!  It took me days to get home, but I met so many amazing people from all over the world.  We all sort of became a community.  We were a community that only crossed paths for a few hours, but that bonding helped me get through a very stressful couple of days.  To say I was stressed was an understatement.  I called my parents and basically threw adult tantrums.  It really was the people along the way that helped me get through it.  I’ve slept in airports all over the world, and so far I rank Dullus as the worst for sleeping and Israel and Dubai’s airports as the best!

What are some things that you’ve written that have found success?
Several of my plays have been produced in New York City, Minnesota, Kentucky, Connecticut and South Africa.  One of my plays Worth a Thousand Words was picked up by a publisher and is now being sold on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  I also have a book that is self-published (being sold on Amazon and Barnes and Noble).  That book is called Cry My Safari.  My play, Answer the Question Iris was co-written by myself and J.M., and that play has won three festivals and can be seen on youtube!

Now my shameless plugs!  For every new like on my facebook page, every new hit on my youtube video and every new follower on twitter, I will donate 15 cents to New Hope Church!  Get me up to a thousand likes and hits and that’s $150 for New Hope!  You have 7 days for this offer!!

Here are links to my facebook page (please like my writer’s page!) as well as my youtube video and links to buy my book or play!

Facebook Writer’s Page:

Youtube video of my play Answer the Question, Iris – only 9 minutes and very funny!

My twitter page:

My book on amazon:

My book on Barnes and Noble:

My play on Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Stef. You and Ashley are both interesting women, role models to us all. Bless you both.