Category Archives: People

Wise Words: The Mad To Live

This month’s featured amazing woman is Lauren Rains, from The Mad To Live!

An adventurer, entrepreneur, blogger, and all-around life enthusiast, Laur is one inspiring girl! She is on a mission to get people so freakin’ excited about their lives that they explode. Okay, maybe not explode, but live their lives to the fullest!

I gotta say, I love this girl. Her passionate love of life is so contagious, and visiting her blog always gets me excited about my life and everything in it.

So, please welcome this firecracker, and fellow China expat, to My Smiling Heart!

What encouraged you to start The Mad To Live?

Well, it sort of just happened. When I was living in Beijing I started a blog to keep my family updated and to just journal my thoughts while living abroad. After a few months I realized that I wasn’t really writing about travel, but more about things I found inspiring, dreams I wanted to pursue, people I’d met along my journey that had impacted me.

And that’s when I started to investigate the whole blogging, social media thing. Needless to say, I fell in love!

I fell in love with the community of people I’ve connected with that inspire me everyday to be a better person, I fell in love with writing and reading posts, I fell in love with the projects that stem from it. I can honestly say that starting The Mad To Live was one of the best things I’ve ever fallen into in my life.

Do you know what things you need to do on a regular basis in order to maintain your happiness? What are they?

A sense of “exploration” is absolutely key! That’s why I’m addicted to travel and passion projects. I love to experience things for the first time… I feel the most alive when that’s happening. So, I suppose you could say that on a regular basis I must see, experience, or try something… irregular!

What advice would you give to someone who is going through a challenging time?

I would tell them to dig deep within and find out the source and the root of whatever it is that’s creating this challenging time. Oftentimes on the outside it seems like we’re going through a tough time for countless reasons, but when it comes down to it it’s normally something very crucial that we haven’t yet faced.

I’d also tell them to gather a group of their closest friends and go out for a wild, crazy night on the town filled with laughs and ridiculousness. Sometimes a little break from a mental-block, bad mood, drama etc helps us to get out of our heads and remember that despite the challenges we can still enjoy life! Besides, who doesn’t love a few (too many!) glasses of wine with your closest friends?

Why do you think it is so important that we make our own paths in life rather than follow the paths of others?

There are so many reasons that it’s essential to follow your own path. But for me, what it comes down to is that if one isn’t following their true path in life then simply stated, they aren’t really living. They aren’t being who they are meant to be, doing what they’re meant to do, seeing what they’re meant to see. It is when we follow our own paths that we discover the unique talents and gifts we have to offer the world. And you know what? The world needs us to do that. The world needs people who are blazing their own trails, following their passion, finding happiness.

If you aren’t doing that… you aren’t really living. You’re just existing.

What has creating your own path in life taught you most?

It’s taught me the importance of true, authentic, hard work combined with being my true, authentic self. It’s been so clear to me based on my own experiences and watching the success of some of the amazing people I get to talk with everyday that if you put in 120% true, authentic effort you can achieve whatever you set out to do. And I mean that… 90% isn’t enough… you have to put in 120%. You have to really WANT it. You have to really DREAM it.

From where I sit today I can look back on the past year and say to myself that I lived in Beijing, China for a year where I worked for an adventure company doing all their web work and started a popular hiking club for Expats and locals. I’m now in the process of starting my own web design business so I can move abroad again and support myself 100%. Has any of this been a walk in the park? Hell no! I’ve worked my ass off! But it has been a blast! I have learned so much from both the great days and the worst days whether it have to do with culture shock or business shock.

If you give 120% you can follow whatever path in life your wildest imagination can dream of. 🙂

What wise words do you live by?

Okay, the best way I can explain this is the self-talk I give myself when I’m about to jump into a freezing cold pool or ocean. You see.. I hate cold water… loathe it! But I LOVE it after that first second of terrible pain. And so every time I’m about to jump in I say to myself something along the lines of, “Okay Lauren… this is it… you only live once and you just have to do it. You just have to jump in. And during that 1 second don’t think about the pain of it, but think about the fact that you’re alive and feeling it! I’m feeling, seeing, touching, BEING.” So then I jump, and I’m so happy and I stand up in the water and I feel really alive in that moment.

I know, I know… it sounds kind of strange… but that’s how I try to live my life. Whatever it may be… good or bad – I just like to jump in and enjoy, learn from, and recognize every tiny little aspect of it.

What is something you are really proud of?

I’m really proud to have the friends in my life that I do, and I’m so proud of the fact that I love them like they are my family. I’m proud that there are people in my life that I can’t live without and that complete me and they feel the same way about me.

It seems to me that some of us get so caught up in our lives that we forget about our friends… the very people that help to make us who we are, the ones that pull us up when we’re down, the one’s that give it to us straight when we’re being complete and utter morons, the ones that we can act like complete and utter morons with!

The value of friendship… it seems to me people put this one on the backburner too much as they get older. But I know that my personal growth would be impossible without these people, and I’m really proud to have friendship as one of my greatest values.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? Who gave it to you?

“Get out of your head, Lauren.”, said my oldest friend since 3rd grade Jaime. I had been going on and on and on about all these things that I’d been thinking about over and over again FOREVER. I had let all these things pile up and make me anxious, worried, stressed, and essentially depressed. And finally she laid down the law for me without sugar coating it and just told me to get out of my head.

It was at that moment that I realized I had been so caught up in my own self-talk that I had forgotten to enjoy life, to remember the bigger picture, to recognize there are thousands of positive things I could be thinking about instead of the 5 negatives.

The second you get out of your head is the second you’ve set yourself free to do whatever it is you’re meant to do.

What are you most grateful for?

I’m most grateful to my friends of course as I mentioned above. But in addition to that I’m most grateful for the people in my life believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I’m not sure if without their push and their encouragement I would have ever gotten out of the limbo I had been stuck in.

I’m also extremely grateful for warm summer nights + cold drinks + good music + great friends & good stories. I live for those nights… that’s when I’m most happy.

How do you want to inspire people?

I want to inspire people to truly, deeply LIVE. I guess that’s why I ultimately named my blog ‘The Mad To Live’. I want to see everyone around me feel ALIVE… not just being or doing or living… but BEING, DOING, LIVING. I know differentiating the two between caps and lowercase doesn’t say much but if you read between the lines there is such a big difference between the two.

I want to see people reach the age of 85 and look back on their life and say, “Damn… 85…. and I lived each of them with more life and passion than the last.”

What makes your heart smile?

Nothing makes my heart smile more than seeing someone doing something that brings them to life. My heart smiles when people tell me about the things they’re passionate about and suddenly their face is glowing, their talk is eager and excited, their aura is alive. I love that.. partially because I’m selfish… I find it contagious!

Also, beautiful websites make my heart smile, as well as cute boys (especially Spanish ones hehe), lemonade on a hot summer day, finding a book I love so much I read it in one weekend, seeing the skyline of the city I’m about to land in within a country I’ve never been to, and last but not least, long bike rides at sunset while I listen to music.

Check out Lauren’s site, The Mad To Live, and follow her on twitter and facebook.

Go smile at yourself,

Jen ♥

*A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and donated to our 30 Days Of Beauty fundraiser – we have reached our goal of raising $300 for To Write Love On Her Arms! WOOHOO! 😀

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30 Days Of Beauty: Week 3

via Pinterest

“I want to know if you can see beauty

even when it’s not pretty,

every day, and if you can source your

own life from its presence.”

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Hello beautiful!

Are you seeing beauty everywhere?

Do you see it in the simplest of things, from your head to your toes?

Do you see it in things that were always right under your nose?

I see beauty. I see it in me, in you, in the world.

It’s always there, patiently waiting for that moment, the one in which you pause long enough to see it sparkle, and to recognise that same sparkle within yourself.

Here’s what I know for sure. All the beauty you see in the world, is also in you.

If your breath is taken away by a flower, a cool breeze, a warm sunset, the sparkle of the ocean, then all of that beauty and magic is in you, too. It’s who you are.

Believe it.

Here are all the reasons why I’m beautiful this week:


April 16th: #imbeautifulbecause I believe in love, dreams, and myself.

April 17th: #imbeautifulbecause I wear as many colours as possible so I can always feel like I’m a rainbow 🙂

April 18th: #imbeautifulbecause I am doing the best that I can, and I know that’s enough.

April 19th: #imbeautifulbecause I don’t believe in failure, just lessons learned.

April 20th: #imbeautifulbecause I snort when I laugh 🙂 It’s pretty cute/hysterical 😛

April 21st: #imbeautifulbecause I’ll never really be a ‘grown-up’. I’m always the first one to the swing set 🙂

April 22nd: #imbeautifulbecause I don’t follow the trends; I follow my heart.

And here are my favourite tweets from all you wonderful souls:

@jessica_morrow #imbeautifulbecause I am a woman to be reckoned with!

@IncaMaia #imbeautifulbecause I am realising my worth, and getting braver in proclaiming it and standing for it.

@SparklinTraci #imbeautifulbecause I see the positive in what I do & I feel good about what is at hand. I try my very best & I smile.

@jenfromal #imbeautifulbecause I’m sitting in the trade winds with a glass (or three) of wine thoroughly enjoying my life.

@BonnieHenna #imbeautifulbecause I give without fear of lacking !

@Becca_Lewis_MI #imbeautifulbecause i am always on the look for the positive!

@Zanthi #imbeautifulbecause I wake up every morning knowing something wonderful is going to happen and make me smile

@VTurnerArt #imbeautifulbecause I’m not afraid to live with passion.

Thank you so much, ladies, for sharing your beauty with the world.

Another big thank you to all the absolutely amazing women who contributed to the 30 Days Of Beauty group post! I am still blown away by your beauty, wisdom and love, and I will always feel honoured to be in your company.

And the icing on this rainbow cake of AWESOMENESS, we are only $40 away from reaching our fundraising goal for To Write Love On Her Arms! Yay! Thank you so much to everyone who has donated, you are supporting an amazing cause.

Double rainbows and flutterbys,

Jen ♥

Wise Words: Putting the YOU in beaYOUtiful

via tree of life

What does beauty mean to you? Where is it found?

Is it in the face, the smile, the eyes? Or is it the personality, the humour, the kindness, the courage? Or is it all of that and so much more?

When I think of beauty, I see strength, courage, wisdom, and authenticity. I see a woman who loves herself unconditionally, believes in her dreams, and creates her own path in life. I see a woman who smiles with her heart.

To celebrate 30 Days Of Beauty, I asked some of the most beautiful women I know to write about what makes them beautiful, by answering one question:

What puts the YOU in beaYOUtiful?

I am very excited and honoured to be able to bring you this post today. There is so much beauty and wisdom here, and all my gratitude goes to all the amazing women who shared their beauty so authentically and openly.

Here’s what these amazing women had to say:

Amanda | Kind Over Matter | @kindovermatter

I am beautiful because I’m silly, laugh a lot, breakout in dance at least 5 times a day & teach my children what Joy is by example. I am beautiful because I am doing what I love & encouraging others that they can do the same.  I’ve got a few businesses under my belt that did make it off the ground but they didn’t fly for very long. Even after those failings (lessons), I didn’t give up. I stitched up my wings, let them heal & took off again, creating something that brings people together in a positive & loving way. I created something that constitutes as heartwork & also provides for my family. I am beautiful because I believe in everybody.  I believe that you can overcome most anything & ride the wind smiling, in the flight pattern of your choice, no matter how heavy your baggage is. I am beautiful because I trust & believe in the potency of love.

Brianne | I Want Her Job | @iwantherjob

What makes me beautiful?

If you would have asked me this question in high school, I would have said my eyes. If you would have asked me in college, I would have said my drive. And asking myself this question now, I have a completely different answer. (Of course!)

It’s my light.

There are so many facets of a person that can make them beautiful. It can be your smile, your heart, your kind eyes, your humor … But I feel our personalities are like a river. We’re always moving, sometimes changing direction, at times rising (and falling), but at the end of it we are always there. We have the force, over time, to change rocks and the ability to carry others.

But most importantly, we sparkle in the light. We become a brighter, more inviting version of ourselves. Just like a river, it’s when people are drawn to us the most.

So next time you’re feeling down, and not-so-beautiful, remember: We always have beauty within us, but it’s our light that can change the appearance of everything around us.

Cinda | ROAR! With Cinda | ROAR! Facebook

I believe there are two of us within each of us. There is our Human side, which the world sees. It represents our physical experience. It is packed full of emotions, passions, hunger, dreams, and competition. A body and a mind designed to make mistakes, to learn, to grow. It is where anger, vanity, sadness, hopelessness resides.

The other side is our Spirit side. This is where pure joy and love resides. The laughter, the songs, the energy that lights up a room. It is the magnet that draws people in. The love of mother and child and best friends. Our Spirit side is our truth, our extreme knowledge and wisdom of all that is. It is forgiveness and peace. It is who we really are – the very essence of our Being.

I am BeaYOUtiful because I am aware that my Spirit side is alive within me, ALWAYS. When I tap into my Spirit, I tap into an energy of love source more powerful and more important than me, because it is connected to YOU.

Dani | Positively Present | @positivepresent

For me, being beautiful is about being in love with the person you are. Self-love and self-acceptance are the two most important things when it comes to true beauty. The more you love yourself — the more beauty you possess, both inside and out.

What makes me beautiful is the fact that I accept who and what I am and do what I can to focus on the positive aspects of me. Dwelling on the negative only brings you down. Focus on what you love about yourself and your true beauty will always shine through!

Jenn | Roots Of She | @rootsofshe

Most people don’t think of beauty when they’re hot and sweaty, but I do. I’m a yogi, I practice Baptiste yoga, which is vinyasa yoga done in a 95-100 degree room. I’m slick with sweat by the time we’re ten minutes in and feeling so very powerful. It’s hard and I try so hard, this is what makes me beautiful.

How often when something is hard or it hurts do we stop? We shy away from the discomfort, we take the easier path.

For me, the motivating factor is always fear, I’m afraid it’ll hurt, I’m afraid that I can’t do it.

I’m afraid of what it will mean if I can do it.

That’s the one that always trips me up, I’m afraid of what it will mean if I actually can do it.

When you work towards something, even when it hurts, even if you’re scared, that’s such a lovely thing.

I’m beautiful because I like to ignore the voice that starts sentences with “I’m afraid…”

I’m beautiful because every time I say yes to trying, I’m saying no to self-doubt.

I’m beautiful because I choose to live with a fearless heart.

Karen | A Peaceful Path | A Peaceful Path Facebook

The other day I was giving some unrequested “sage mother” advice to my daughter – that kindness is the most important quality in life. When you think about it, what situation is not made better by kindness?

I think of kindness as that gentleness that allows others their own space, their own lives and frees me from judgment. It’s the choice to look for the best intentionally.

It’s coming from the soft space inside that opens to kindness like a rose opening to the sun.

I know my beauty is in my kindness, in the gentleness of my spirit, in my choice to embrace the best.

This is when I am beautiful.

Leonie | Goddess Guidebook | @GoddessLeonie

Liv | Choosing Beauty | @ChoosingBeauty

The beauty industry has most people convinced that if we don’t use special creams and pricey injections to ward off the aging process, we could all shrivel up like raisins in the blink of an eye. But I think those who say “beauty is only skin deep” are wrong.

Natural, ageless beauty is actually soul deep. We age from the inside out, not the outside in. Science has proven that people who are genuinely happy live longer, more fulfilling lives.

To boost my own happiness, I have learned to appreciate the beauty and blessings in each day – even the hard ones. In fact, I think I’ve become so good at celebrating the beauty surrounding me that it’s translated into seeing the beauty in me. Every laugh line has become a badge of honor, every gray hair a treasured souvenir from this journey I’m on. Each morning, I wake up to the ultimate gift: another 24 hours to live this beautiful life. Turns out the Fountain of Youth is right there in my own backyard.

Lori | Tiny Buddha | @tinybuddha

I believe my vulnerability makes me beautiful.

Throughout my life, I have spent a lot of time obsessing over the things I felt were wrong with me. I never felt pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, talented enough, or good enough in general. Everything I did was an attempt to make people like me.

One day I realized that this pursuit of other people’s approval was precisely what hindered me from earning my own. My neediness and desperation made it hard to respect myself, and at the end of the day, that’s what I really wanted.

I wanted to believe that I could put my head on my pillow at night knowing I am a good, valuable person and I deserve the peace of mind that only I can give me.

I wanted to love myself, knowing fully that I have darkness and light within me—that I have strengths and weaknesses, struggles and successes. I wanted to accept my humanity, even while growing and improving a little every day.

And I wanted to authentically share myself to hopefully help other people do the same. That I am willing to be seen in good days and bad, in strength and vulnerability, makes me feel both proud and beautiful.

Tess | The Bold Life | @theboldlife

I feel beautiful

I feel beautiful as I listen to the whispers of my heart,

slow down, breathe deeply, savoring all of life.

In this moment nothing else exists

but the beauty of everything, everywhere.

I feel beautiful when I understand my purpose,

my desire to create, to serve, to do something

for me, for you, for all of humanity, for now, forever,

empowered by the light that lies within us all.

I feel beautiful when I quiet my mind and

as a peacemaker, I behold a compassionate vision

for millions and billions and trillions

stretching to infinity and limitless horizons.

I feel beautiful when we are connected heart-to-heart.

I see your soul through the window of my eyes.

I sense your joy, I see your delight,

engulfed in the magnificence of now and always.

I feel beautiful when I reflect your

inherent beauty and goodness

and emerge with you into ‘I Am’

lost in the dance, experiencing the extraordinary,

knowing that we never walk alone.

Come as you are to the bounty of love.

We are in full blossom now, we are infinite.

Deep into our souls we travel,

A radical and social transformation,

spinning together on our illusionary planet.

May we all feel beautiful.

via Pinterest

Now that you have read about what makes these women beautiful, we pass the talking stick to you.

Leave a comment answering this question:

What puts the YOU in beaYOUtiful?

Thanks to you, with 11 days left of the 30 Days Of Beauty Challenge, we have raised $220 for To Write Love On Her Arms! We are SO close to our goal of $300! Thank you so much to everyone who has donated and shared the love with others! You ROCK!

Shine Your Light,

Jen ♥

Wise Words: Interview With A Goddess

Our March interview is with the beautiful, gorgeous, double rainbow of a woman – Goddess Leonie!

This wonderful Goddess is an artist, writer, mama, unicorn lover and the creator of the popular creativity and spirituality blog GoddessGuidebook.com and the online Goddess Circle.

What encouraged you to start the Goddess Guidebook?


 

There was this angel inside my heart that wanted to let loose wonders into the world.

I wanted to spill rainbows everywhere.

There were so many blessings and miracles and enlightenments happening in my life. I wanted to share my journey.

Deeply.

Authentically.

Joyfully.

 

Do you know what things you need to do on a regular basis in order to maintain your joy and Goddess-ness? What are they?


 

I utterly know what I need now, thanks to times when I was utterly deprived from them. I unequivocally need time each day on my own. To create. To sit. To breathe.

This was a hard won lesson – I’m a mama to my amazing one-year-old daughter, Ostara. And I went for many moons without any physical space or head space or creating space of my own. It did not make me happy or full or thriving.

So now, every day after I’ve put her down for a nap, my love takes over and I go to my office.

 

Want to know where my office is?

It’s at the top of an ancient fig tree.

I’m not even kidding. I climb up there with journal and laptop and spend two hours creating and writing and swinging my legs and doing my work. It is utterly blissful. I absoloooodely need to create. To make magic happen. And to be outside in trees.

 

What advice would you give to someone who is going through a challenging time?


Everything is going to be okay.

And that you may not feel it at all right now, The Worst Thing in the World Could Be The Best Thing.

 

What has creating your own path in life taught you most?


There is no one else I need to be in this world but me.

I need not be more like anyone else. I need not be the perfect mama,

artist, writer – anything like that…

I just need to be the best Leonie I can be.

Holy and true.

 

 

What wise words do you live by?


Joy is an option.

 

What is something you are really proud of?

 

I am over the moon proud that my lil goddess business is not only my job, but my love’s too.

That we both get to be at home with our daughter.

That we have been able to move across the country to live in tropical paradise because of it.

It’s just so over-the-mountain amazing… the story of it makes me light up and glow.

 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? Who gave it to you?


 

My grandmother.

When I ask her how she is, she always responds:

“Well! I woke up this morning, and I was still breathing and I thought: OH! It’s a gooooood day today!”

I want to be as groovy and grateful as my grandmother.

 

What are you most grateful for?


 

Being alive. I’ve been saying this since I was a teenager.

To be here? Doing this magical thing called life? Getting to be Leonie?

Pretty much the BEST THING EVER.

 

 

Also grateful for:

Baby goddess daughter * hunky love * two fluffy doggies * a sweet old

cottage in tropical paradise * a job being a goddess that is pretty

much my wildest dreams come true * a sister who owns a cupcake

business = constant cupcakery in my life. Oh the JOY!

 

How do you want to inspire people?




I want every woman to know she is a goddess, through and through.

And that her life can be SO joyful and SO good and SUCH a delight.

 

What makes your heart smile?


Photographing women as goddesses.

 

 

Blue ocean eyes.

 

 

Hanging out by waterfalls with the ones I adore the most.

 

 

Check out Leonie’s blog, follow her on twitter, or add her on facebook 🙂

 

So much LOVE,

Jen ♥

 

A Letter To My Younger Self

Not long ago, I read a post by Jamie Ridler on Roots Of She, about the kind of advice she would give to her younger self. I think I recall writing a bit about it during #reverb10 as well, but I never allowed myself to get too far into it, because I was scared of what might come out.

But the other day, Jess at So Uprightly Burning did a post on her letter to her 10-years-ago self, and it inspired me to finish mine.

So here it is:

A Letter To My Younger Self.

 

 

Me at around 14, and me today, 10 years later.

 

Dear beautiful Jen,

Well, you’re 14 years old. And I can tell you that this year is going to be the hardest year of your young life so far. And the next couple of years after won’t be much easier.

Your anxieties at school will get worse, you won’t feel safe in your own home, your self-esteem will be virtually non-existent, and people you love will die.

You will feel so ignored at school that when your favourite art teacher reaches out to you, you will be so surprised that you won’t know how to respond. Don’t assume she’s just doing her job; she really does care. I know this because even today, ten years later, she still remembers you.

I’m telling you all of this because I want you to know that, no matter how unbearable it all seems, and how lost you feel, you will get through it, you will find your way.

It’s all going to be okay.

The next few years will be dark, but there is so much light, so much good, waiting for you on the other side. Everything you are going through will be worth it, and everything these tough times teach you, about yourself, about others, and about life, will one day serve to make you very strong.

Just remember, everything happens for a reason, and things will get better, a lot better. I promise.

Please know that those people who hurt you, they do it because they, too, are suffering. It’s not your fault. They hurt others because they are hurting. You don’t have to put up with that in your life. Speak up.

It will take a long time for you to fully trust others, but someone will come along who will show how to love.

While you are running around chasing boys and looking for someone to love you, your soulmate will be right under your nose, and he will have already fallen for you before you even know his name.

It’s okay; you can trust this one. This boy won’t hurt you. So don’t get suspicious every time he gives you a compliment; he really does think you’re beautiful. He really does love you. And he really will marry you one day.

He will heal your closed heart, help you see how amazing you are, and show you what it’s like to have a real home, one where you feel safe, loved, and free to be who you really are. You can tell him your secrets, your fears and your dreams, and he will love you even more in return.

He will love you completely, every part of you, the good and the not-so-good. And you will feel the same about him. You will be a blessing to him just as much as he will be a blessing to you.

He makes everything you are going through now so, so worth it.

In regards to friends… well, don’t go the extra mile for anyone who wouldn’t do the same for you. And remember, anyone who gossips to you, will gossip about you. Even the ones who you think you can trust with your life.

Some friends you have now you will still have in ten years. Others will try to take advantage of you, and as soon as you are strong enough to stand up for yourself, you will realise you don’t want them, or their never-ending dramas, in your life anymore. It will be a hard choice to make, but I promise you won’t regret it.

In fact, by cutting them out, you will see just how much negativity they brought into your life in the first place, and you will have so much more room to grow into the positive woman you are meant to be.

Also, don’t get caught up in the aftermath of that ended friendship. The more drama they create about it, and the more lies they spread, the more they prove to you that you don’t need them in your life. Send them love and move on to the more awesome things that are coming your way.

Keep drawing, painting, creating, writing, and expressing yourself through art. You have no idea how much you need it to heal, grow, and be happy.

And never stop dreaming. That life-long dream you have of living overseas? You accomplish it at 23. I know, pretty awesome huh? You will also have your first art exhibit at age 22. And all those other things you dream of? You can do all of it. You really can.

Don’t avoid the things, places or people that make you anxious. You know those freak-outs you have before school, that you think are normal? Those are panic attacks. One day you will be so ruled by them that you never leave the house alone. Not even to get the mail.

Don’t worry; you need to live through that. That’s what causes you to do something drastic, like moving to China for a year. That will help you to overcome the anxiety pretty quickly. You will learn that your fears aren’t real, and that every time you face the things that scare you, the stronger and happier you become.

Then you will realise how brave you are, to do things that terrify you every single day.

Also, it’s okay to change your mind about what you want to do. Keep trying new things until you find what fits. A lot of those people who put you down for changing your mind will end up feeling stuck, doing jobs that they hate, and having no idea what they want to do with their lives. So don’t listen to their opinions.

Only listen to those people who are already living the kind of life you want to live – everyone else is just guessing.

I know right now you don’t know much about positive thinking, but you are always trying to see the bright side. Don’t listen to those people who call you unrealistic. What they don’t know is that it is optimism that will get you through the next few years, and start you on an amazing journey that will lead you to living such a happy and amazing life.

So, there will be a lot of tough moments in your life over the next ten years. But there will be even more amazing, happy and love-filled moments. So just keep going.

Most of all: Be kind to yourself. You are so worthy of love and respect, but it starts with you. Love yourself first, and everything else will fall into place. Make loving yourself your number one priority.

I Love You.

Jen ♥

Wise Words: Three Lessons From Oprah

 

“Now I want to talk a little bit about failings, because nobody’s journey is seamless or smooth. We all stumble. We all have setbacks. If things go wrong, you hit a dead end—as you will—it’s just life’s way of saying time to change course. So, ask every failure—this is what I do with every failure, every crisis, every difficult time—I say, what is this here to teach me? And as soon as you get the lesson, you get to move on. If you really get the lesson, you pass and you don’t have to repeat the class. If you don’t get the lesson, it shows up wearing another pair of pants—or skirt—to give you some remedial work.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

The above quote comes from a commencement speech that Oprah gave at Stanford University in 2008.

I watched this video a lot last year, after we moved to China, and found these words to be so inspiring, especially after I was fired and fell ill. This video, and the above quote in particular, were key in my journey to turning my life around, reclaiming my power, and choosing happiness.

You can watch the video of Oprah’s speech here, or read the transcript here.

What have you been experiencing lately? What is it here to teach you?

Whatever happens, I hope you’re smiling 🙂

Jen ♥

Wise Words: Standing Up.

Source.

 

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

~ Japanese Proverb


With everything that has been going on in our world recently, flooding, hurricanes, volcanoes, and now the earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, it’s easy to fall. It’s easy fall, and it’s even easier to stay down.

A good thing about being a westerner in China is that I don’t watch television. I don’t see the news, the sensationalism, the fear based headlines or the warnings of armageddon.

I have a friend living in Japan at the moment, thankfully she is fine, but she is feeling a lot of  frustration with the sensationalism of the news being shown around the world, as it is only focussing on the worst case scenarios, causing her family so much worry and anxiety. Not to mention the fact that she herself doesn’t know what to believe, with conflicting stories and a lot of misinformation going around.

If I was back home in Australia while all this was going on, I would be sitting in front of the TV, frozen in fear and too overwhelmed to be of any use.

Even seeing all the tweets about what’s happening, and what people think of it, is way too much for me. All it does is bring me down. I can’t help anyone if I’m down.

My heart breaks for all the people who have lost their lives, and the survivors who have lost their homes and loved ones. I fear for my friends who live in Japan and for myself as I am so close to the destruction. I fear the future and what challenges mother nature will bring us next. I want to help as much as I can.

But focussing on the news, the pain, and the fear only serves to weaken us.

If we are going to get through this, we need to be strong. We need to be strong just as the people of Japan are being strong. They are showing us what we need to do.

They have fallen, but they are standing back up.

They are the people who are in the most danger, the people who are suffering the most, but they are also the people who are handling it the best. They are focussing on what’s most important, and they are getting things done.

Most of all, they aren’t losing hope. They are opening their hearts. And so are we.

I read an amazing post written by a woman named Anne, who is living in Sendai, a town that has been completely devastated. In this inspiring Letter From Sendai, Anne is full of love and gratitude for everything she has, and writes about the powerful change that is occurring in our world right now:

“Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide.

My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.”

If Anne can be right in the middle of the destruction, and still see the good that is shining through the rubble, and even feel how the world is evolving as a result, then surely we can too.

Focussing on the love, the kindness and the compassion that is being shared during this time is the only way we can get through this, and become stronger, wiser, more awakened people in the process.

It’s time to stand up.


“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.”

~ Ivy Baker Priest

 

Good News:

 

A four month old baby was found amongst the rubble, alive and well, 72 hours after the quake and tsunami hit. Source.

 

More Good News:

Daily Good: Human Spirit Rises to Meet Japan’s Tsunami

 

How You Can Help:

 

If you are able to donate, Jen Fromal and I have set up a donation page for the American Red Cross Earthquake Relief on our fundraising page for our 30DaysOfBeauty Project.


Here are some other ways you can help:

Tonic Blog: How You Can Help

Roots Of She: Sending Out Love To Japan

Lady Gaga has designed a prayer bracelet to support Japan, with all proceeds going to earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.

The image at the top of this post can be bought as a poster, with proceeds going to the Red Cross and Save The Children.

 

Stay safe, think peace, feel love.



Jen ♥


30 Days Of Beauty

Hello beautiful!

Welcome to this very special edition of My Smiling Heart! 😀

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new awesome project with a twitter friend, Jen Fromal. Today, we are finally able to share it with the world! And, because we are an amazing little community, we have designed it so that there are many ways for YOU to be a part of the fun! Let the AWESOMENESS begin! 😀

30DaysOfBeauty

 

 

30DaysOfBeauty is a lifestyle experiment designed to boost self-esteem and encourage women (and men!) to see how truly beautiful they are – and raise money for a good cause in the process! Everybody wins!

Created by the two Jens, one the writer of The Smashed Planet and the other the writer of My Smiling Heart, 30DaysOfBeauty will use tweeting and blogging to spread a message of self-love and self-worth.

For 30 days, starting on the 1st of April 2011, the two Jens will take to their twitter accounts (@jenfromal and @smiling_heart) dedicating one tweet per day to a reason why they are beautiful.

Each 30DaysOfBeauty tweet will finish with the hashtag #imbeautifulbecause, encouraging others to join in on the fun and tweet about why they are beautiful, too!

Every week, the two Jens will each write a post about their progress on the 30DaysOfBeauty challenge, list their #imbeautifulbecause tweets from the previous week, and also include some of their favourite #imbeautifulbecause tweets from others.

Now, here’s the most important part.

Through Crowdrise, the two Jens will be using this 30 day challenge to raise money for To Write Love On Her Arms, a cause that is dedicated to helping those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

We are dedicating these 30 days to raise at least $300 for To Write Love On Her Arms.

So get ready to tweet up a storm in April! Follow the two Jens as they uncover the many reasons why they are beautiful, and raise money for an amazing cause in the process. Join in on the 30DaysOfBeauty challenge!

 

It’s time to put the YOU in beaYOUtiful!

 

I will also be posting my #imbeautifulbecause statements on the My Smiling Heart facebook page, and I would love you to share your #imbeautifulbecuase statements on there too! 🙂

*For more information on our thirty days projects and how it started, check out the 30Days tab at the top of the page.

*We have also added an option on our Crowdrise page to donate to the RedCross in order to help all those affected by the Japan earthquakes and tsunami.

You are AWESOME!

Jen ♥

Note: The Two Jens are not official representatives of TWLOHA, only dedicated supporters of the cause.



A Love Letter To My Smiling Heart (YOU)

This was difficult and emotional for me to write, but it so needed to be said. It needed to be said, and it needs to be heard. This isn’t just a love letter to My Smiling Heart, this is a love letter to you.

You, who reads, supports and loves this blog as much as I do, you are My Smiling Heart. We are a community of smiling hearts. It wouldn’t be here without you, and neither would I.

Dear My Smiling Heart (You),

Thank you so much.

There are no words to describe what you have done for me. You appeared during one of the darkest times of my life, a time when I felt alone, meaningless, beaten down, and so, so sad. I was filled with hate, anger, and pain. I lived in fear, and let anxiety rule my life.

But, since the night you were created, you have been the light that shines my path. You have shown me my own truth, my own beauty, and my own power. You have reignited my creativity, my passion, and my self-belief.

Because of you, new doors have opened, leading me to meet some of the most amazing, inspirational women I have ever known. Women who have forever changed my life, women who support me, challenge me, and encourage me to live an extraordinary life.

You have made me see that I can change the world. And you have helped me do it.

You have given me meaning, joy, connection, and a reason to jump out of bed at 8am every single day with a smile on my face and love in my heart.

You have introduced me to my real passion. I thought my passions were art and writing, but really, it’s much deeper than that.

My passion, my life purpose, is to inspire others and help them to live their best lives. I am here to empower others, especially women. Art and writing is the vessel in which I can and will do that, I promise.

And now, as you continue to propel me forwards into new and exciting ventures, I know I have to trust the path that I am on, instead of trying to predict which way it will turn and where it will lead me.

As you continue to grow and become not only my passion but my full-time job, a way to earn a living while baring my soul, creating, and inspiring others, I promise I will stay focussed on my truth, my purpose, the community you have built and remember everything that has lead me to this point.

You are my passion, my light, my connection to the world and my connection to my true self.

My heart will always be full of gratitude for everything you bring me, and I promise to always honour you and continue to make you something that inspires anyone who comes into contact with you.

I want you to change lives, just as you have changed mine.

Even though I am scared and vulnerable right now, and feeling anxious about what’s to come, I know you will always be there, keeping me focussed and shining your light onto my soul.

You saved my life.

Thank you.

Jen ♥

Wise Words: International Women’s Day – We Can Do Anything

 

“My motto is, if a person can do it, I can do it.”

~ Geena Davis

 

It’s International Women’s Day, and how better to celebrate it than with a quote from one of the most dedicated and passionate advocates for women empowerment, the amazing Geena Davis – an actress, activist, mother, and founder of The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

I remember watching an episode of Oprah interviewing Geena when I was a teenager. I don’t remember much about the episode, except for this one vivid moment, when she said, “My motto is, if a person can do it, I can do it.”

The truth of that one simple statement hit me like a tidal wave, imbedding itself in my soul and forever changing my perspective.

I couldn’t believe what I had heard. I remember thinking, ‘I’m a person… that means I can do anything, too!’ I was shocked and excited at this realisation.

I can do anything.

We can do anything.

Here’s another inspirational quote from Geena Davis:

“If you risk nothing, then you risk everything.”

We can do anything. Enough already with risking it all by doing nothing.

To further celebrate International Women’s Day, here are three very important videos:

Miss Representation Trailer:


Geena Davis, Gloria Steinem and Jennifer Newsom: Miss Representation Sundance Panel:


Bond – EQUALS, featuring Daniel Craig:


 

 

Go be empowered,

Jen ♥

*My Smiling Heart is looking for Sponsors! Click here for more info 😀

*I love this – check out the amazingly empowering ROAR! Facebook page, and watch the ROAR! web series for some serious inspiration 🙂

For sources, click on the image.