Tag Archives: Christmas

Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011! :D

“Cheers to a new year and another chance

for us to get it right.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

At the beginning of 2010, I had two major goals; sell one of my paintings; & travel overseas.

In April, I achieved & my first goal. In fact, not only did I sell a painting, ten of my original pieces were featured in my first ever art exhibit.

That whole experience was so much fun, from creating a theme that promoted women empowerment & self-love, & spending the first few months of the year doing nothing but painting every day, to sending out the invites & the excitement of opening day.

It was AWESOME & it felt so right that I know I will be doing it again in the future.

At my first art exhibit

Next to one of my paintings

Three months later, I achieved my second goal of 2010, when I moved overseas for a year. This goal wasn’t just a 2010 goal; it was a goal I had dreamt of achieving for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’ve actually done it!

On our way to China!

Arriving at Beijing Airport

Exploring Daqing

Outside of a Buddhist temple in Hailar, Inner Mongolia

I’ve crossed off a few other things from my life goals list this year too; getting engaged; using my artistic skills to help raise money for charity; & experiencing a white Christmas.

Just after Mike proposed ♥

Nonprofit campaign promo I designed

My first 'snowing' experience!

White Christmas!

Then there’s just the bonus experiences & moments that were completely unplanned but will always be great achievements in themselves. Things like white water rafting in the mountains of far north China, walking through the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, where I also explored underground Japanese tunnels from before WWII, & most recently, starting this blog & being published on Tiny Buddha.

Rafting

Inner Mongolian Grasslands

Underground Japanese tunnels

My Tiny Buddha Guest Post!

I am so grateful for everything I have accomplished, experienced, seen & learned this year. I know I have come a long way, & traveled on a path with many highs & lows & even some u-turns, but I couldn’t be happier with where it has all lead me.

So, I wave goodbye to 2010, with a big, cheesy smile & a heart full gratitude for everything it brought me.

Now, it’s time to say ‘Hello!’ to 2011, I welcome this new year with open arms & another big, cheesy smile.

My major goals for 2011 are:

  • Walk along the Great Wall of China
  • Go to the Hong Kong Disneyland
  • Return home to Melbourne
  • Marry the love of my life

Mike & I at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens

♥ Mikey & Me ♥

I have a few other goals that I’m already working on, such as finding more ways to use my blog & art to inspire others, collaborate with amazing women to make something awesome, & learn Mandarin.

Another goal of mine is to post to this blog at least once a week in 2011, so I signed up to do the WordPress Post Challenge. Part of signing up means I have to mention it in a blog, so:

‘I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.’

Most of all, I just want to take a lot of action in 2011. I’ve been trying to decide whether ACTION should be my word for 2011 (I mentioned this to someone who commented here recently), it’s either going to be ACTION or INSPIRE. Then there’s always the option of combining them to make INSPIRED ACTION. Yes, I think that’s it.

2011 is my year to take inspired action.

By the end of 2011, I want to be a better version of myself. I want to be stronger, wiser, much more confident & independent, & I want to have achieved a lot & have really made a positive impact on the world.

So, my goals are set, my hopes are high & I’m ready for the AWESOMENESS of 2011! 😀

As you say goodbye to 2010 & welcome 2011, think of how far you’ve come over the past twelve months.

Remember the good times & how much happiness you felt, & consider the not-so-good-times & the lessons they brought you.

Think of all those special moments that you will always treasure, & take note of all the things & people you are grateful for from 2010.

Now, imagine how amazing 2011 is going to be. Think of all those positive things & people that made 2010 so great, & imagine all of that & more being a part of 2011.

Last week I wrote a post about how we have the power to choose the kind of day we have; imagine the possibilities if we apply that knowledge & power to an entire year! As long as we remember to enjoy the great times & learn from the challenges we face, there’s no stopping us!

Let’s make this our best year yet!

Here’s to 2011! 😀

Jen ♥

Goals & Gifts – #reverb10 :)

December 28 – Achieve What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. (Author: Tara Mohr)

Today, when I looked at all my goals, hopes & dreams for the next year, I noticed a pattern begin to form. They all involve personal growth, inspiring others, & experiencing all that life & the world has to offer.

As I connected them even further, I realized that my most desired goal for 2011 is to end it with even more love, happiness, health, & purpose than I am ending 2010 with.

If, a year from now, I can look back on 2011 feeling like the best version of myself I have ever been & knowing that I gave it 100%, I will be satisfied & proud.

I’ve decided to go with the ‘10 thoughts’ option in order to experience those feelings of confidence, accomplishment, joy, love, purpose, satisfaction & pride today, because what you think about, you bring about.

(While these aren’t really ‘new’ thoughts, they are definitely ones I could think more often!)

1. Take action.

“When you don’t know what to do, do the thing in front of you.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot. Another good quote for this thought is: “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers

2. Yes, I can.

“My motto is; If a person can do it, I can do it.” ~ Geena Davis

3. Live with purpose.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

4. Anything is possible.

“Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

~ Napoleon Hill

5. Stay focused.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”  ~ Henry Ford

6. Dream big.

“If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” ~ Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) in ‘Back to the Future’.

Another good quote for this thought is: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” ~ Les Brown

7. Be wild.

“Why sit in the bleachers, timid & afraid? When you could be the whole parade!” ~ Hairspray – Big, Blonde, & Beautiful

8. Think, do, be, positive.

“I crossed the street to walk in the sunshine.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert in ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’

9. Share the love.

“Freedom lies at the heart of my willingness to love everything.” ~ Alanis Morissette

10. Follow your bliss.

“If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.” ~ Joseph Campbell

December 29 – Defining Moment Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year. (Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)

The defining moment for me this year would have to be the moment we decided to move to China.

As I described in my Tiny Buddha guest post, there have been so many ups & downs & lessons learned through a whole series of events that all lead back to that one decisive moment.

I am so grateful for that moment & everything I have experienced since, & I am 100% certain that I would not be who I am today without it.

December 30 – Gift Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year? (Author: Holly Root)

The two most memorable gifts I have received this year, aren’t special to me because of their monetary value, one of them didn’t even cost a thing. These gifts are special to me because of their meaning, & what they symbolize in my life.

The first, I received back in April; an engagement ring from my soulmate. And while I do think it’s totally romantic & awesome that it boasts diamonds, my birth stone, & was designed by Mike especially for me, I get the most joy out of what it symbolizes.

It’s not just a ring, it’s a symbol of Mike’s love for me, & his commitment & desire to spend the rest of his life with me. It represents our friendship, our love, our past & our wonderful future together.

The second gift I received only last week; a link to a YouTube video from my brother.

It may not seem like much, but it is one of the sweetest, most meaningful & comforting gifts I have ever received.

The video is of British comedian Tim Minchin, singing a song he wrote about Christmas called ‘White Wine in the Sun.’

For most of it, I just thought it was really cool that this guy had summed up all my feelings about Christmas in a song, from consumerism to family.

In fact, the chorus could be about my family at Christmas:

“I’ll be seeing my dad

My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum

They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun

I’ll be seeing my dad

My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum

They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun”

Towards the end of the song, he sings to his daughter:

“And if, my baby girl

When you’re twenty-one or thirty-one

And Christmas comes around

And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home

You’ll know what ever comes

Your brother and sisters and me and your Mum

Will be waiting for you in the sun

Whenever you come

Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles

Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum

We’ll be waiting for you in the sun

Drinking white wine in the sun

Darling, when Christmas comes

We’ll be waiting for you in the sun

Drinking white wine in the sun

Waiting for you in the sun

Waiting for you…

Waiting…”

This is when I started to cry like a baby.

This is when I realized that my brother wasn’t just sending me a video about Christmas, he was sending me a message. He was letting me know that he misses me.

He was letting me know that, even though I’m ‘nine thousand miles from home’, my family – Mum, Dad, him, my other brother & sister, my aunts, uncles, cousins & my Nana, were spending their Australian Christmas in the sun, & missing me, thinking of me, & waiting for me.

It makes me tear up even writing about it. But I love it so much, & it means more to me than almost any other gift I’ve ever received. I’ll never forget it.

(More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/tim_minchin/#share)

Stay tuned for a couple more posts over the next day or so, one of which I made especially for all of you! 🙂

Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥

#reverb10 – Playing Catch-Up :)

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)

The only thing I can think of is speaking up more, in situations where I was being bullied or mistreated. I didn’t stand up for myself because I was too scared, but it has taught me how to be assertive & how important it is to speak my mind, especially if someone is mistreating me.

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

So, I’m imagining future Jen writing to past Jen, but past Jen is, in fact, the future Jen to me; the present Jen? Easy.

Dear 2011 Jen,

The next year is going to be extremely AWESOME. You are going to have so many amazing experiences that you will never forget, & you are going to achieve some things that you never thought possible.

My advice to you is this; just enjoy it. Give everything 100%, be as present as you possibly can, & soak up all the awesomeness. Forget about the petty things that don’t matter in the long run, just focus on the important stuff – love, purpose, family & friends. Make this quote your mantra:

“Do what makes you happy,

Be with who makes you smile,

Laugh as much as you breathe,

Love as long as you live.”

Keep Smiling!

Love, future Jen.

To my younger self, from 10 years ago, I would say:

You’re right, it will get better. I promise.

I wouldn’t say much more than that to my past selves, because if ‘Back To The Future’ has taught me anything, it’s that knowing too much about your future can dramatically affect the space-time continuum & even destroy the Universe itself. Great Scott!

December 22 – Travel How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? (Author: Tara Hunt)

This year I really kicked ass in the travel category of my goals list. Living overseas has always been something I’ve wanted to do, & I am very proud & happy to have achieved that this year.

Next year, I want to visit Beijing & walk on the Great Wall of China. I would also love to visit Shanghai & Hong Kong (especially Hong Kong Disneyland!) before we leave.

As for other places around the world, we are still deciding on where to go for our honeymoon – at this stage it might be Ubud, Bali. Also, we are going to Fiji two weeks after our wedding for Mike’s brothers wedding. So traveling is absolutely going to be a major focus of 2011, which makes my heart smile.

December 23 – New Name Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why? (Author: Becca Wilcott)

I love my name. It’s perfect for me, & I would never change it, not even for a day. I’m Jen, it’s who I am 🙂

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

After my guest post was published on Tiny Buddha, I re-read it. Reading it again, I realized just how much I had been through & how much I really have grown & learned from it. Seeing it published, & reading all the comments from people who could relate & who were inspired by my experience… that’s when I knew it was all going to be alright, because I can handle anything.

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you. (Author: Tracey Clark)

This photo was taken, by Mike, as we were walking through a small patch of forest about a block away from our apartment complex. I love this forest, especially in the snow, we walk through it every time we go out.

I chose this photo because I look really, truly happy… because I am 🙂

I’m in the beautiful snow, surrounded by my wise friends; the trees, & you can tell by my loving smile that I’m more focused on Mike than the camera. I’m full of love, light & joy. This is how I always want to be.

December 26 – Soul Food What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul? (Author: Elise Marie Collins)

There’s a few meals that come to mind; the vegan quesadilla that Mike used to make back home is so good, & I can’t wait to have it again when we go home; pizza always makes me smile; & the food at both the vegetarian restaurants (& only vegetarian restaurants!) here in Daqing is both delicious & healthy. One of them makes mashed sweet potato balls that are so good! Yum 😀

December 27 – Ordinary Joy Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown)

I love this question! I just had one of these moments on Christmas Eve. It was our first Christmas away from home, so I was trying to make it as special & as jolly as possible; I put our three presents under out little tree, lit some candles & had Christmas carols playing.

When Mike came home with our Christmas Eve pizza, he took me by the hand & started dancing with me in the lounge room. It was so perfect. I was completely in the moment, dancing with my love to John Lennon’s ‘Happy Christmas’, & admiring the candles as we waltzed around the room. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Get ready for another Wise Words Wednesday post very soon!

Keep Smiling 🙂

Jen ♥

Merry Christmas! :)

As I sit here, listening to John Lennon’s ‘Happy Christmas’, enjoying vegemite on toast (& feeling just a little bit homesick), I am hoping that you are all having a very merry Christmas 🙂

I had a couple of presents to open this morning, with carols playing in the background, Christmas movies to watch, a few little decorations around the apartment & even snow outside my window. But…

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without family & friends.

It’s not about the presents, it’s about seeing my Dad dressed up as Santa & giving out presents to all my cousins – something that my Papa used to do every year too. It’s not about the food, it’s about the laughter my brothers & I share when we throw peas at each other at the table. It’s not about the new Christmas CD, it’s about hearing my Mum singing a long to it as she does things around the house.

As with everything, it’s the love we feel, the laughter we share, & the moments we have with our loved ones that really makes Christmas time so special.

So, share the love, spread the laughter & recognize those moments that will later be fond memories, & enjoy this special day with the people you love most.

To finish, here’s an Elf Yourself video I made, of me & Mike 🙂

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Jen ♥

Tumblr Tuesday!

Here are some of my latest favourite Tumblr photos 🙂

Tonight marks a full moon, the winter solstice & a lunar eclipse. According to the Huffington Post, it’s the first Solstice eclipse since 1638, & the next one isn’t until 2094, so it’s a very unique time for all of us. It’s a time for letting go, cleansing & preparing for new beginnings. It’s just going to get AWESOME  from here 🙂 (Read more about it here & see photos here)

Pfft, ‘normal’. I mean, really? Let your freak flags fly, people! 😀

Truth.

Something I’ve always loved doing at Christmas time is walking around my neighbourhood & admiring all the lights & decorations on all the houses. This year, aside from a few cardboard Santa cut-outs at the local McDonalds, there’s no lights & decorations for me to admire, so I miss it. The snow is awesome though; I’ve always wanted to experience a white Christmas! 🙂

Thanks to the Katy Perry video I posted last week, I’m loving fireworks at the moment. Luckily for me, I’m living in a country that uses fireworks for pretty much every occasion – from weddings to store openings – so I see & hear fireworks quite often 🙂

Isn’t it, just? 😀

 

Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥