Monthly Archives: January 2011

A Little Something For You

Hello awesome people!

As a part of the art subject that I’m doing online, I had to make a 30 second stop motion animation. I decided to make something with a positive message, that I could share with all of you – my amazing readers, twitter followers & facebook fans.

Keep in mind though, this is the first time I’ve ever done any sort of animation work, so apologies for it’s not-so-good quality! I hope you like it anyway 🙂

Everything You Need Is Within from Jen Saunders on Vimeo.

In other news, you may remember me mentioning something called the Love Bomb a few months back, well this week’s recipient is someone I know & respect. Brianne, the inspiring woman who runs I Want Her Job & ran the Likes For Learning campaign that I helped out with recently, lost her best friend in a car accident this week.

As part of the Love Bomb mission, people visit Brianne’s latest blog post & leave her a supportive, love-filled comment. It would mean a lot if my readers joined me in supporting Brianne through this hard time, so please leave a comment here.

I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again:

Kind words never go to waste.

Also, Mike & I are heading to Beijing tomorrow night to celebrate Chinese New Year. I’ll be gone for a week, & I’ll try my best to get online & post when I can, but it will take me longer than usual to respond to all your fantastic comments, tweets, messages & emails. Don’t let that stop you from saying hello or leaving comments, though! I love hearing from you 🙂

Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥

Wise Words: Being Bold

This week’s Wise Words post is a bit different. Recently, I was interviewed by the lovely Tess Marshall from The Bold Life, & it has just been published!

For anyone unfamiliar with The Bold Life, it’s an amazingly inspirational self-development blog that always provides wise insights & encourages everyone to live boldly & speak their truth. I was absolutely thrilled to be interviewed for such an awesome blog & am so excited to share this great news with you all!

The questions I was asked for the interview were so challenging, they really made me think a lot more about who I am & how I could still live a much bolder life. If you are feeling particularly bold yourself today, I encourage you to take a look at some of the questions I was asked & take some time to think about what your own answers might be. You might be surprised!

So, head over to The Bold Life & check out ‘A Bold Artist With A Smiling Heart‘ 🙂

Feel free to comment on it after, I’d love to know what you think!

In other news, I’ve been working on a few little goodies for you guys, hopefully to be posted over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out! 😀

Go smile at yourself,

Jen ♥

10 Things I Miss About Australia

 

Me at the beach in early 2010

To celebrate Australia Day, I decided to write a list of all the things I have missed the most about Australia while I’ve been living here in China.

I don’t mean to give a negative impression of China, because I love living here & there are many great things about this country, but I couldn’t write this list without pointing out some of the main differences between China & the country I grew up in, Australia.

I don’t mind these differences at all; they have taught me more about the world & made me more appreciative of where I’ve come from.

10 Things I Miss About Australia:

10. Cleanliness.

Streets that aren’t covered in spit, poo, wee, & rubbish. And the people, who don’t spit everywhere, cough or sneeze on you, use the footpath as a toilet, or throw their trash onto the street.

9. Manners.

Being able to stand in the line at the supermarket without someone pushing in front of you, or moving your groceries off the counter & putting their’s there instead. Being around people who don’t steal your seat on the train, push you, poke you or stare at you everywhere you go.

8. Western Toilets.

Public toilets that are more than just holes in the ground, & that already provide toilet paper so that you don’t have to carry it around with you every time you go out. Plumbing that is strong enough to handle flushing toilet paper, instead of having to put it in a bin.

7. Tight Arse Tuesday.

Tight arse Tuesday is cheap cinema ticket day back home. I miss the whole experience of going to the movies; deciding what to see, dinner beforehand, waiting in line for the tickets, getting popcorn, watching the previews… I miss not being able to do that whenever I like.

6. BBQs.

Hanging around the BBQ, chatting with friends, & enjoying the sunshine. Good food, good music, & good people.

5. Family & Friends.

I couldn’t write a list of what I miss about home without including my family & friends. They are the people that make life worth living & miss me just as much as I miss them.

4. Food.

Tim Tams. Twisties. Salt & vinegar chips. Potato cakes from the fish & chip shop. Vegetarian options pretty much everywhere you go. Luckily, we still have some vegemite left over from our last package from home 🙂

3. The Beaches.

All my life, I’ve always been only a short drive or a long tram ride away from the beach. Here, the closest beach is an overnight train away. I feel almost claustrophobic being so far away from the ocean. One of the first things I’m doing when I get home is heading to the beach to sit on the sand & watch the waves.

2. The Aussie Accent.

As I sit here listening to the Triple J Hottest 100, I’m enjoying listening to the hosts voices more than the music. I miss the accent, the slang, & the laid back ‘yeah nah yeah’s.

1. The Aussie Attitude.

The chilled out, laid back, & ‘she’ll be right, mate’ attitude that makes Australia such a relaxing place to live. Being always ready to have a laugh or help someone out, & the focus on the important things, like family, friends & enjoying life.

Happy Australia Day!

Check back tomorrow for a special Wise Words post!

Jen ♥

The Importance Of Self-Acceptance

“I highly recommend inviting the worst-case scenario into your life.”

~ Portia de Rossi in Unbearable Lightness


I love books that change my life, & I just finished reading ‘Unbearable Lightness – A Story Of Loss & Gain’, by Portia de Rossi, &  it has already had a profound affect on the way I see the world.

It is such an amazing book. I couldn’t put it down.

In this beautiful memoir, de Rossi describes her childhood, her early career as a model, & her rise to fame after being cast in the hit show of the 90s, Ally McBeal.

But this isn’t just a book about Hollywood or an autobiography detailing the fairytale life of a seemingly normal girl from Geelong (near my hometown of Melbourne), Australia.

It’s so much more than that.

It’s about a girl who grew up feeling as though she wasn’t pretty enough or worthy enough to be loved by anyone, including herself. It’s about a girl who feels lost, & overwhelmed by the pressure to look, think & act a certain way in order to gain the approval of others & ‘fit in’. But most of all, it’s about a girl who, after overcoming the hardest challenges of her life, learns to love & accept herself for who she really is.

Isn’t that something we can all relate to?

De Rossi describes in detail how the pressure of the media & her low self-esteem lead her to anorexia & bulimia, & how terrified she was of the world finding out about her sexuality.

Portia reveals all of her vulnerabilities, sharing every thought she had about herself & about food during that dark time, from her extreme exercise routines & weighing small portions of food to the paranoia & anxiety at the thought of fat cells growing on her body.

This book has really opened my eyes & helped me to gain some sort of understanding of what it is like to have an eating disorder; the thoughts, the perceptions, the anxiety, & the lying & maintenance that is required to keep up such a painful ritual.

I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book as heartbreakingly honest & authentic as Unbearable Lightness. There’s nothing I love more than someone who is brave enough to be their complete authentic self, imperfections & all.

This is a must read for anyone who has ever felt less than or has struggled with self-acceptance. I’ve even read a few opinions of the book from girls living with eating disorders, saying they really related to de Rossi’s story & found it comforting to know that they weren’t alone in their illness & that there really is hope for recovery.

As for me, this book has made me question how much I focus on the way I look, & the ending was so beautiful, truthful, & wise that I don’t think I will ever stress about food or weight or exercise ever again.

Unbearable Lightness has helped me to discover more about myself & accept myself more than I ever have before.

I am who I am, whether that be straight or bisexual. It doesn’t matter.

And I look the way I look, whether that be a size 8 or a size 14. It doesn’t matter.

All that matters is that I love & accept myself for exactly who I am.

And the same goes for you.

You are who you are, & who you are is AWESOME.

It doesn’t matter what your sexuality is, what colour your skin is, what language you speak, how much you weigh or anything like that. All that matters is that you can accept yourself for who you are, & love yourself, flaws & all.

I’ll finish with another quote:

“The hotness is not about age, looks, body type, race – it is about honesty, knowing who you are and being who you are, without trying to front like you are better than you are. It is about the deep down authenticity of self, then living it, loving it and looking it.”

~ Margaret Cho

Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥

Wise Words Wednesday: J.K. Rowling

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

~ J.K. Rowling

 

The above quote is from the following video of a 2008 Harvard Commencement speech given by J.K. Rowling, the author of the awesome Harry Potter series.

In this amazingly inspiring talk, Rowling discusses her biggest failures & how they taught her more about herself & life than anything else, & how imagination can make the world a better place.

Inspiring much? 🙂

Here’s another of my favourite quotes from this speech:

“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.” ~ J.K. Rowling

For some excerpts of the speech, click here.

And Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥

Wise Words… Thursday?

[This Wise Words post is a day late because my awesome Dad & brother have been visiting so we’ve been travelling a bit, more on that soon 🙂 ]

“Everything you need is within you

right now.” ~ Unknown

It’s true.

You already have all the strength, courage & wisdom you need inside of you. It’s just that, sometimes, we need to overcome obstacles in order to find it.

It’s all there; the clarity to know which path to choose; the strength to change your life for the better; the confidence to be yourself no matter what; & the courage to start taking action on your dreams.

Sometimes, it’s all just buried so deep under our insecurities & doubts that it takes some digging to bring it up to the surface. The Universe, or God, or Higher Power, or whatever you prefer to call it, knows this, & so gives you opportunities & experiences that force you to find all these qualities & more within your own self.

It’s what we do with those experiences that make all the difference. We can do our absolute best to stay positive, & learn as much as possible from it. Or, we can play the victim & add it to our list of reasons why we can’t live the lives we want, & as a result stay stuck in a negative pattern.

If we take the first route; with every experience, we are moulded into better, stronger versions of ourselves. And even if we sometimes lose touch & let ourselves fall into the second category, that’s ok. It is always possible to build ourselves back up again. Always.

So, whatever you’re worrying about today, know that you can handle it.

You have everything you need within you, right now.

Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥

Four Steps To Re-Awesomofication!

Hmmm… Do I use the word ‘awesome’ just a little too much? Oh well!

Hey, you! Yes, YOU!

You know you’re AWESOME, right?

What ever you’re doing right now, whether you are drinking your morning cup of coffee, stressing over your daily to-do-list, or sitting on the couch in your pajamas (10 points to anyone who is doing all three!), ask yourself this:

Am I feeling relaxed?

Notice your shoulders, your neck, jaw & anything else that feels tense.

Now do what ever you need to do to relax. Sit back in your chair for a second & just… sit. When was the last time you just sat? Not watching TV, not typing or Googling or stalking people on Facebook, just sitting with your head back & your arms relaxed by your side?

If you’re like me, you probably never do that. So stop whatever you’re doing & just sit, be still. Do it now. I’ll join you 🙂

…………………….

…………………….

……………………

Welcome back!

Now, take a moment to breathe. Right now.

Not a little, half-arsed breath. Put some effort into it. Stop whatever else you are doing – forget about the to-do-list for just a second – & slowly, take in a big, deep breath.

Breathe in.

Hold it.

And let it go. Slowly.

Do it again.

One last time. Breathe in. And out.

Feeling your awesomeness, yet?

If not, try it again. Really pay attention to your breath. Focusing on your breathing is a quick & easy way to bring yourself into the present moment, the only moment that matters – because all we really have is right now.

I lost touch of that today, & when I lose touch, I forget my own awesomeness. I was pushing myself too hard, stressing out & trying to accomplish a thousand & one things all at the same time. As always, that lead to me feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, & extremely tense.

Luckily, I know myself pretty well, especially lately, so once I become aware that I’m not feeling as awesome as I’d like to, I immediately begin the process of re-awesomofying myself.

My Four Steps To Re-Awesomofication:

1. Breathe.

The deep breathing & centering exercise that I just described is usually my first step. Breathe in…. Aaand out 🙂

2. Dance.

Put on your favourite playlist of songs. Songs that are positive, upbeat & just so fantastic that your awesome levels have no choice but to rise. It’s just like the slime from Ghostbusters 2 that (spoiler alert!) dances & comes alive to the music – only without that creepy Viggo guy from the painting (Random Fact: My number 1 fear? Viggo. *shudder*).

3. Vent.

Talk it out. Hearing yourself talk about the things that you’re freaking out about internally will always make you realise that you are okay, that it’s not as bad as you thought it was, & that you can totally handle it.

Most of the time I talk to Mike or my Mum or Dad, but if there’s no-one to talk to I’ll write about what’s worrying me, which is just as good.

4. Laugh.

Lastly, invest some time in something that will make you laugh. It can be a TV show or a classic funny movie, otherwise there’s always Youtube, or talk to people who always make you laugh – for me it’s Mike or my brother 🙂

By the end of all this, your awesomeness will be back to a healthy level & you’ll be ready to handle anything that comes your way!

But, of course, I do have a back-up plan for those rare occassions when all this doesn’t get me the results I want; sleep. If these 4 steps to re-awesofication don’t lead me back to my usual awesome self, then chances are I’m just exhausted & need to get some rest!

What do you do to re-awesomofy yourself & your life?

Do you have any kickass steps that need to be added to this list? I’d love to hear them! 🙂

Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥

Wise Words Wednesday!

“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds aremade under pressure.”

~ Peter Marshall

Force helps us to grow.

Just as the oak tree stands tall against the wind, & coal transforms under force, so does the salmon swim against the current, & the caterpillar evolve into a butterfly.

The lotus flower starts its life in the mud. It uses its natural strength to push through the sludge, & is then faced with the challenge to grow within the water, in order to reach the surface, where it is greeted by the warmth of the sun.

The beauty of a lotus flower has been mystifying people for thousands of years, & its strength & ability to elegantly rise above challenges is an inspiration to many, including myself.

Buddhism holds the lotus flower in a very high regard, in fact, the mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ means ‘the jewel is in the lotus’.

I first discovered the symbolism of the lotus when I was reading A Lotus Grows In The Mud, by Goldie Hawn – one of my heroes. And ever since, this magical flower has played a crucial part in my life, spiritually, mentally & artistically.

Lotus flowers often appear in my artwork, I always look to them for inspiration, & learning about its symbolism helped me realise that challenges are a part of the journey of life.

We can learn from the lotus flower – it can teach us how to live our lives.

And, maybe most importantly, we can see the lotus flower within ourselves.

We have all grown through hard times; the mud.

We have all risen above challenges; the water.

And, we all have the ability to reach the surface; the light.

I’ll finish with another quote:

“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. “

~ Goldie Hawn, ‘A Lotus Grows In The Mud’

Keep Smiling 🙂

Jen ♥

P.S Thanks to My Smiling Heart reader, Renee, for sharing the Peter Marshall quote on Facebook, which inspired this post 🙂

Goldie Hawn quote from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/193026

Hey, #reverb10! You rock! Last one :)

December 31 – Core Story What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Author: Molly O’Neill)

I think the story that is so central to who I am is my constant quest to find my own truth, see the positive in everything, live a life of happiness & purpose, & show others how AWESOME they really are.

I share my journey with the world on Twitter, Facebook, & Tumblr, as well as here on this blog, which has become so important to me.

Offline, I share all of this with my friends, family & the world by just being true to myself as much as possible.

I have to admit, though, I always found it a little difficult to talk about my feelings with people face to face, & sometimes I still do, especially when it comes to things I am truly passionate about – like positivity & empowerment.

People seem to think I’m being ‘unrealistic’ or that I have my ‘head in the clouds’ when I talk about the kinds of things I write about on here; like how we have the power to create our lives. They look at me like I’m insane; I remember a few years ago I was talking to a friend about how I was taking a course on Life Coaching, & she thought I had joined a cult.

It’s only recently that I’ve found more successful avenues for expressing my true self; painting, writing, & most importantly; living a life that aligns with my values & beliefs – deeds not words (which is also one of my personal commandments!).

And, it’s amazing how people, who once laughed at your optimism, will start to take you seriously when they see what you can achieve with a positive attitude & your ‘head in the clouds.’

I’ve found that, whilst talking to friends at a bar about positivity, self-development & empowerment makes you ‘insane’, communicating those same messages through art, writing, & the way you live your life, instantly transforms you into ‘eccentric’ or an ‘artist’.

And now, after everything I’ve achieved this year, I don’t care if people think I’m crazy.

Maybe I am! It doesn’t matter.

The only thing that does matter, is that I’m being myself, & living a life that I have created 🙂

Speaking of things I have created, thank you all so much for all the love I have received on this blog. I especially LOVE how many people are using the 2011 Virtual Vision Wall to make this year their best yet! 😀 And an even bigger thank you to everyone who has been sharing it with their friends & loved ones, you rock! So awesome!

I’m planning on making 2011 an extremely amazing year for all of us, so if there’s anything I can do to support you the way you have all been supporting me, please let me know! Feel free to add me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, or email me at jenartist@live.com.au.

And, as usual; Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥

2011: A Virtual Vision Wall :)

“Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has.

Your future is whatever you make it.

So make it a good one.”

~ Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) in ‘Back To The Future Part III’.


To welcome 2011 & make sure it really is our best year yet, I’ve collected some of the most inspiring pictures from Tumblr & made a kind of virtual vision wall. These pictures represent what 2011 can be for all of us – this is 2011 in pictures.

This post will always be here – under the ‘Pure Awesomeness’ tab – for us all to come back to throughout the year, especially whenever we feel lost, confused, or ruined.

This virtual vision wall will point you in the direction towards what really matters.

So, save it, print it, bookmark it, & share it – let’s make 2011 AWESOME! 🙂

(For sources, click on the images)

Keep Smiling! 🙂

Jen ♥