Tag Archives: inspiration

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! 😀

30 Days Of Beauty: Week 2

“I pull you from your tower, take away your pain. Show you all the beauty you possess, if you only let yourself believe.”

~ Sarah McLachlan

Week 2 of 30 Days Of Beauty has been much easier than Week 1. Not only is it getting easier for me to list reasons why I’m beautiful, but now I look for beauty in myself in every situation, every experience, every thought I have.

My mind has been opened up to beauty, and now I see it everywhere.

It really is true; what you think about, you bring about. You get more of what you focus on. And the more I focus on the things that make me beautiful, the more beautiful I become.

I can’t believe I didn’t realise this until now, but each #imbeautifulbecause tweet is an affirmation. An affirmation of our own beauty, our own self-worth, and each affirmation opens us up to the magical, powerful, wonderful women that we really are.

I know there are women out there who have been following 30 Days Of Beauty, but haven’t been sharing their own beauty with the world. Maybe you’re one of these precious women, unsure of your beauty, unsure of your worth, unsure of yourself.

Maybe you’re worried that you won’t find any beauty in yourself, or that you will run out of reasons to feel beautiful before the 30 Days is up. I can tell you that your fears and worries are unfounded, just as mine were.

Give yourself a chance to see your own beauty.

Let your light shine.

My tweets for this week were:

April 9th: #imbeautifulbecause I am courageous. #LoveIsLouder than my fears.

April 10th: #Imbeautifulbecause I never stop believing in my dreams.

April 11th: #imbeautifulbecause I’m learning to let my light shine. I won’t hide in the shadows anymore.

April 12th: #imbeautifulbecause I count blessings, not burdens.

April 13th: #imbeautifulbecause I’m working hard to make my soul purpose my sole focus.

April 14th: I embrace my imperfections with love, and see them as a part of my own AWESOMENESS #imbeautifulbecause

April 15th: #imbeautifulbecause I am getting SO good at remembering that how others act is their choice, and how I act/react is completely up to me 🙂

My favourite #imbeautifulbecause tweets for this week were:

@amandakloeppel  #imbeautifulbecause I am learning that its not what I wear that defines me, but who I am on the inside.

@decodingdress #imbeautifulbecause I know I’m beautiful — I don’t need any external standard to tell me so.

@ClaireLaraine #imbeautifulbecause choices are mine and the answers lie within me.

@SparklinTraci #imbeautifulbecause I see the beauty around me and in me… ♡

@frangepanni #imbeautifulbecause – just because. No reason needed, no reason given. We are all beautiful because we are 😀

@MollyyyAnnn #imbeautifulbecause i can find the good in others, accept and not judge, and love imperfections

@ChelseaKouns #imbeautifulbecause I’m unique. I want to stand out, not fit in. And I won’t let anything change that. I’m petite and I rock it out. ;]

@sherryahovey #imbeautifulbecause God made me beautiful and my scars make me unique.

@kay_ruth #imbeautifulbecause I’m not perfect…and, have no desire to be…:)

@marisalehmann #imbeautifulbecause I have so many people cheering for me and encouraging me on, telling me that I will get through this. #yourebeautiful

Thank you for sharing your beauty with the world,

Jen ♥

Wise Words: Because I Am A Queen

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you’ll know that I adore India Arie and her positive, self-loving, soulful music and lyrics. Her songs never fail to lift me up and make me feel as magical and wonderful as a fairy riding a unicorn over a double rainbow 🙂

In the spirit of 30 Days Of Beauty, I would like to share with you one of my favourite songs in the history of the Universe; ‘Video’ (also known as ‘Because I Am A Queen’), by India Arie.

Enjoy the tunes, feel the love and use the lyrics below to sing your heart out!

To watch the music video for this song (which won’t play here), click here.

“Sometimes I shave my legs and sometimes I don’t
Sometimes I comb my hair and sometimes I won’t
Depend on how the wind blows I might even paint my toes
It really just depends on whatever feels good in my soul

I’m not the average girl from your video
And I ain’t built like a supermodel
But I learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen
I’m not the average girl from your video
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes
No matter what I’m wearing I will always be
The india arie

When I look in the mirror and the only one there is me
Every freckle on my face is where it’s supposed to be
And I know my creator didn’t make no mistakes on me
My feet my thighs my lips my eyes I’m loving what I see

I’m not the average girl from your video
And I ain’t built like a supermodel
But I learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen (yeah)
I’m not the average girl from your video (woo)
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes (whoa)
No matter what I’m wearing I will always be
The india arie

Am I less of a lady if I don’t wear pantyhose
My mama said a lady ain’t what she wears but what she knows
But I’ve drawn the conclusion
It’s all an illusion
Confusion’s the name of the game
A misconception a vast deception,
Something’s got to change

Don’t be offended this is all my opinion
Ain’t nothing that I’m saying law
This is a true confession
Of a life-learned lesson
I was sent here to share with y’all
So get in when you fit in
Go on and shine
Clear your mind
Now’s the time
Put your salt on the shelf
Go on and love yourself (love yourself)
‘Cause everything’s gonna be alright (love yourself)

I’m not the average girl from your video
And I ain’t built like a supermodel
But I learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen (yeah)
I’m not the average girl from your video (woo)
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes (whoa)
No matter what I’m wearing I will always be
The india arie

Keep your fancy drink and your expensive minks
I don’t need that to have a good time
Keep your expensive cars
And your caviar
All’s I need is my guitar
Keep your cristal and your pistol
I’d rather have a pretty piece of crystal
Don’t need your silicone
I prefer my own
What god gave me is just fine
(Oh hah hah hah)

I’m not the average girl from your video
And I ain’t built like a supermodel
But I learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen (yeah)
I’m not the average girl from your video (woo)
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes (whoa)
No matter what I’m wearing I will always be
The india arie”


Stay beaYOUtiful,

Jen ♥

Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/i/india_arie/#share

Shine Your Light On The World.

You are so amazing.

You have everything you need to live the life you dream of, to accomplish those goals and overcome those fears.

You have the strength, courage and wisdom needed to follow your heart.

You have the creativity, passion and self-belief needed to create your own path.

You have the compassion, purpose and determination needed to make this world a better place.

You have the power. You are the power.

There are people who may read this and roll their eyes. They are afraid of their own power, so they convince themselves that they have none, and make fun of anything or anyone that suggests otherwise. It’s safer that way.

They will even try to convince you that you have no power, to ensure that they will have company in their safe little box of doubts and fears.

Don’t listen to anyone who speaks from fear.

Listen to yourself. Listen to your heart. That inner whisper that knows your truth.

The more you listen to your heart, the louder it will become, until it is so loud and true and clear that it drowns out all the outside voices of fear and hate.

Please. Please! Don’t dim your light for anyone. Don’t hide in the shadows.

Shine your light on the world. Shine it so bright that it touches every living creature on this Earth.

Shine it so bright that it sends sparks of rainbows into the ocean like shooting stars.

You are an amazing, marvellous, incredible, wonderful, beautiful, inspiring, powerful, magical, miracle of the Universe!

Dance amongst the sparkles of your soul, and be gloriously, irrevocably, YOU.

 

Jen ♥

30 Days Of Beauty: Week 1

“We are all fascinated by beauty and many of us devote much of our lives to its pursuit. But physical beauty can only ever be held fleetingly. Real beauty is far greater – It’s a life force, an energy, which radiates from within and transcends the physical. It’s a vibe – you feel it in those who truly know they have it. Real beauty is not beauty generated purely for others’ consumption. Real beauty is beauty in action, not beauty that sits on the sidelines of life, worried it will run or get messed up. Real beauty may not always be visible at first glance, but it lasts forever.”

~ Anthea Paul

Hello beautiful!

Well, the 30 Days Of Beauty Challenge has been spreading self-love for a week now, and I am absolutely amazed at the response!

In less than a week, $90 has been raised for To Write Love On Her Arms. To everyone who has donated, thank you. So, so much. You have helped an amazing cause, and you are a force of good in this world.

To everyone who has shared this campaign on their blogs, twitter, facebook, and told their friends about what we are doing, thank you! Your support means more to us than you will ever know.

The first week of 30 Days Of Beauty has been more challenging than I expected. As Jen Fromal said in her post on The Smashed Planet;

“This was one of those times when I didn’t really know what I was getting into. Well, I kind of did, but I didn’t know it would actually be hard and I didn’t know it would make me uncomfortable.”

The planning part of this challenge was fun, exciting and kept me so busy that I didn’t think about the fact that every day, for 30 days, I have to see something beautiful about myself, and then tell the whole world about it.

Of course, when the idea for this challenge first came about, I was excited at the thought of digging deeper, seeing myself in a new light and promoting self-love. But when, on the 2nd of April, I was struggling to find something beautiful about myself already, I knew this was going to take work.

I sat at my laptop for a good 20 minutes, trying to come up with something. This is when I realised just how important this cause is – it shouldn’t be so hard to find one thing about myself that is beautiful.

Every single little girl and woman on this planet deserves to see how beautiful they are. Including me. That’s why I’m doing this. So that one day, without hesitation, or 20 minutes staring at a blank screen, I will be able to list at least 30 things about myself that are amazingly beautiful and wonderful, and then go on to list 30 more.

I eventually saw something beautiful in myself that day. Not a physical quality, but more related to how I live my life. I was feeling proud of myself because the night before I had done something that had been making me anxious for days; I went out to dinner and dancing with a group of the other expats here.

I know, to most people that’s not even something they would think about, it’s so easy. Most people don’t see how that could possibly scare someone, let alone keep them feeling panicked and anxious for days before hand. But the thought of being out in a club with a group of people, especially people that I haven’t known very long, used to paralyse me with fear so much that I never went out at all.

So, the fact that I had faced that fear, and had the courage to go out and live my life despite the sick feeling in my stomach and anxious worries in my head, is a big accomplishment for me.

It’s like someone who is afraid of heights jumping out of a plane every single day. I know that the more I jump, the less fear I will feel next time.

So, my tweet for that day, April 2nd, was this:

I face my fears every day, and no longer let my anxieties rule my life. #imbeautifulbecause

And I had never felt more beautiful.

Here are all of my other #imbeautifulbecause tweets for this week:

April 1st: Today, #imbeautifulbecause I am learning to see my own power, & how to use it to create my life.

April 3rd: I take the time to nurture and express my inner creative Goddess every day. #imbeautifulbecause

April 4th: When I smile, I can feel my body and soul smiling, too. #imbeautifulbecause

April 5th: Today, I’m taking the time to put myself first, and be still instead of wired in. #imbeautifulbecause

April 6th: I have big eyes, that really are the windows to my soul 🙂 #imbeautifulbecause

April 7th: I smile at myself in the mirror #imbeautifulbecause

April 8th: #imbeautifulbecause I can always find a reason to smile 🙂

I have been reading all of the #imbeautifulbecause tweets from women all over the world, and I am so inspired. I feel so blessed to be in the company of such amazing, beautiful women.

Here are some of my favourite tweets from you:

@Zanthi: #imbeautifulbecause I let my inner light shine through, even on my dark days.

@NJRae: Today, #imbeautifulbecause I have faith in me and achieving my dreams.

@ClaireLaraine: #imbeautifulbecause I have learned to bloom after I have broken.

@IncaMaia: #imbeautifulbecause I feel grateful every step of the way. For friends, running, yoga, magic, rainbows, being alive… so much more.

@karenmead: #imbeautifulbecause I make the choice to focus on the sunshine!

@frangepanni: #imbeautifulbecause I take time to indulge my passions even when my mind tries to tell me I could be doing something easier and more fun : )

@decodingdress: #imbeautifulbecause I don’t look like a supermodel. #imbeautifulbecause I look like ME.

@LaurRains: #imbeautifulbecause I believe in the hopes and dreams of myself and every single person I’ve met and haven’t met. : )

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

If you are new to the 30 Days Of Beauty Challenge, find out more about it and how you can join the movement here.

If you don’t tweet, share what puts the YOU in beaYOUtiful in the comments or on the Facebook page, or show your support by donating whatever you can to To Write Love On Her Arms here.

“To be beautiful means to be yourself.

You don’t need to be accepted by others.

You need to accept yourself.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Go smile at yourself,

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 ♥

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.