Tag Archives: Melbourne

The Story Of The Bird

 

Hello beautiful!

 

Are you having an AWESOME day? I hope so!

Did you know that it’s nearly My Smiling Heart’s six month birthday?! 😀 Yay! Six months of growing, learning, connecting, inspiring and smiling at ourselves in the mirror! I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be a part of such an amazing tribe, thank you for a wonderful six months – so far!

Anyone who knows My Smiling Heart is familiar with the image above, especially the bird, that has become the MSH logo.

I just entered this self portrait into an online art competition, and the prize for the People’s Choice award is $2,500 – more than enough for me to be able to continue writing My Smiling Heart once I return to Melbourne in July! – so I would be forever grateful if you would please vote for my work here (click vote in the top right corner). Thank you, thank you, thank you! 😀

As I entered my artwork into the competition today, I realized that I have never given you the full story behind this self-portrait, so here it is 🙂

The Story Of Me And The Bird My Cat Killed:

 

That’s what this painting is called: A Portrait Of Me And The Bird My Cat Killed.

A few days before I painted it, my cat, Juno, jumped through my window with a bird hanging from his mouth. As soon as I saw it, I ran over to him, took him outside and made him drop the bird, but it was too late. It just lay there on it’s back, eyes closed.

I took it to the back of my garden and placed it under a tree. I felt so saddened by it’s lifeless body, but at the same time I was mesmerized by it’s beauty.

It was a beautiful brown colour, with specks of green and yellow on its feathers. All I could think of was how tragically beautiful it was.

The next day I watched American Beauty for the first time. There’s a scene in it where a boy is filming a dead bird, as it lay lifeless on the grass. When asked why he was filming it, he replied, “Because it’s beautiful.”

Just as he filmed the dead bird for it’s beauty, and in turn immortalized it in film, I wanted to do the same for my dead bird.

I thought to myself, what better way to give something new life than to immortalize it forever in art?

Now, that bird will live forever.

And not only that, over the past six months of My Smiling Heart, the bird has become symbol of positivity, hope, and freedom for me.

This painting represents the beginning of my journey to recognising my own power. The woman in this self-portrait, is the woman that I have grown into since I painted it. And I hope that I have been able to use my power to help you realize your own immense power.

Because you are powerful, awesome, and just so damn amazing!

You have the power to create your life, live your dreams and make this world a better place!

There is no better time to release your AWESOMENESS to the world!

Start with a smile, and just go from there 🙂

So much LOVE,

Jen ♥

 

* It’s Link Love Friday! Head over to the Facebook page and share links to your amazing blogs/websites/twitter! 😀

 

 

The Importance Of Self-Acceptance

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

~ Portia de Rossi in Unbearable Lightness


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

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

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

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

It’s so much more than that.

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

Isn’t that something we can all relate to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the same goes for you.

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

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

I’ll finish with another quote:

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

~ Margaret Cho

Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥

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 ♥

Moments, Wonder & Letting Go.

Before I continue with the #reverb10 prompts, I just want to point out the little snowflakes you’re seeing floating down the screen – aren’t they awesome?!

It’s been snowing here in Daqing – something I had never experienced before coming here – & I’m in love with it. It’s so peaceful & playful, not to mention gorgeous! So I thought I would share it with all of you, especially those people reading this back home in Australia, enjoying the summer 🙂

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

Two moments come to mind immediately.

#1: The night that Mike proposed to me.

It was on our four year anniversary, we spent the weekend in a beautiful cabin in Ocean Grove, a beachside town we love so much. We had dinner at a really cool Mexican restaurant. After dinner, we went to the beach. We sat on the sand for a while, looking out at the ocean & up at the cloudy night sky.

As we sat, Mike started this long speech about us, & how much he loves me. His words started to become a bit incoherent, like he wasn’t even concentrating on what he was saying, & I realized he was trying to distract me from the fact that he was fumbling around for something in his pocket. Next thing I knew, he was on one knee, holding open the engagement ring box & proposing.

I could hardly see the ring because it was so dark but I didn’t care, the love of my life & my best friend in the whole world was asking me to spend the rest of my life with him! It was awesome. I said yes (of course!) &, after Mike did a few victory laps along the beach, we spent some more time looking at the ocean & the stars, which had come out from behind the clouds to celebrate with us.

#2: Our first day in China.

This was both incredibly liberating & intensely terrifying.

The first thing I noticed was how hot it was, a surprising but nice change to the freezing Melbourne weather I was experiencing just the day before.

During the drive from the airport into Daqing, I remember thinking how beautiful it was; the sun was bright & the sky was a clear blue, & for most of the ride we only saw paddocks & lots of green empty land. But the closer we got to the city, the more daunting it all became.

I started to notice the hundreds of huge oilrigs all over the place, as well brick huts – falling apart but clearly still lived in – then they were replaced with huge buildings that looked completely abandoned. Out the window I saw a new Honda on one side of our van & a donkey pulling a cart on the other.

Then all of a sudden we were right in the middle of everything: surrounded by so many cars going in every direction; groups of men sitting shirtless on street corners; more donkey carts selling fruit; run-down shops & apartment buildings; & there were people everywhere! As the van pulled into a car park, I was praying that that wasn’t the neighbourhood we were going to be living in. (It was – & I grew to love it!)

Our first meal was in a dumpling restaurant, where I felt even more overwhelmed. Even more people, so much noise, people yelling over each other in a language I didn’t understand, the heat, men sitting at dinner tables with their shirts pulled half way up their chest to reveal their huge stomachs… And every single one of those people was staring at us. I remember sitting at our table, drinking the hugest bottle of beer I have ever seen, & being completely terrified. That night, I remember lying in bed, feeling exhausted, & wondering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into.

Of course, even though that was all just culture shock, most of you know that things didn’t really get better until they got much, much worse. But China isn’t scary to me anymore, you get used to all the differences & things that seem weird, gross, or scary, become quite normal. I love it here now!

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

This one is easy! Travel! Seeing places you’ve never seen (or even heard of!) before is an awesome way to bring a sense of wonder into our lives. Even if it’s just traveling to the other side of town for a day, or doing something you’ve never done before 🙂

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)

I’ve let go of a lot of fears this year. Particularly fear of failure.

The day that I was fired, all I could think about was what others would think of me. I thought about my family being disappointed, my friends feeling sorry for me, & those few people from my past who would take pleasure from my failings & use it to boost their own egos.

I was humiliated, & didn’t want anyone to know what had happened, how I had failed so massively.

But now, literally thousands of people from all over the world know my story, you all know about my ‘crushed dream’. Everyone in my family knows, my friends know, & if things like facebook & twitter haven’t informed those people, who I let go of years ago, of my imperfections, then gossip sure has.

And I couldn’t be more comfortable with that.

Yes, my family knows everything; & they have never been more proud of me. My friends know everything; & they have never been more supportive. And to anyone who takes pride in counting my flaws; go ahead! First to 100 wins a lollipop 🙂

Not only has sharing my story with the world helped others; it’s helped me. I’ve let go of caring about what others think of me. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes; it’s a part of being human. And I’m over all the phoniness & the quest for perfection. It’s getting old fast.

I’m here to be real. Now.

I’ve seen people trip over their own feet, fall flat on their face & get up quickly, denying their faults & blaming someone else for tripping them up.

This year, I’ve learnt not to care about who sees me fall.

If I fall, I know I’m falling for a reason. I’ll stay down for a little while, feel the pain, learn what I need to, then get back up & start again. Maybe even have a chuckle at myself for losing my balance like that.

So, this year I have let go of my fear of failure. After all, as the Simpson’s character Lenny says:

“Eh, everyone makes mistakes. That’s why they put erasers on pencils.”

Jen ♥

Day 11: More Photos Of China :)

Hi!

Today marks one year until my love, Mike, & I say ‘I Do’ ♥ So we spent the day just relaxing, walking around our neighborhood – in the literally freezing -7 temperatures. It was a great day 🙂 We did some shopping, then went to the park & played on the swings, followed by sitting on a park bench & marvelling at the beauty of the lake freezing over. Coming from Melbourne, where it very rarely reaches 0 degrees, & never snows, all this is very exciting for us – it’s supposed to start snowing tomorrow! 😀

Here are the photos, & my creative task for today – Day 11 of Art Every Day Month. (I also still need to upload photos of all the other things I’ve created over the past few days so stay tuned!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Keep Smiling! 🙂

Jen xo

Day 4: Photography!

Welcome to Day 4 of Art Every Day Month! I decided to go for a walk around my neighbourhood here in Daqing & take some photos as my creative task for the day.

Leeks hanging outside our building.

The street outside our gated complex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We live in Heilongjiang province, which is the northern most province of China – in between Russia & North Korea. It’s funny to think that I’m living in the oil capital of China, a big city with a population of over 2 million people, when only a few months ago I was in Melbourne & had never even heard of Daqing. But now here I am, experiencing an amazingly different world than the one I grew up in.

Cropped photo of the entrance to one of the many apartment buildings.

Our graffiti covered front door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the biggest differences we are experiencing at the moment is the weather. Back home the southern hemisphere, we would usually be getting ready for summer right about now, but instead we are wearing huge winter jackets & even buying balaclavas for when winter really hits over the next couple of weeks. The temperature in winter often reaches -30°C, something I have certainly never experienced before! It has already snowed once & the rivers are starting to freeze…

The small river near our building, starting to freeze.

 

 

 

So, that’s my art for today! And now you also know a little bit more about me & my life 🙂

Keep Smiling! 🙂

Jen xo

An Introduction…

In this, my very first post on this blog, I am going to attempt to tell you who I am & what I’m doing here… Even though I don’t even know the answers to those questions myself just yet 🙂

So, I will be very brief. This is me in point form:

  • My name is Jen 🙂
  • I’m 23.
  • Originally from Melbourne, Australia but currently living in Daqing, Northern China for a year.
  • I’m an artist – I paint, draw, photograph, photoshop, print, write… I’m also a qualified Makeup Artist.
  • I’m engaged to an awesome, afro-haired, incurable optimist named Mike.

In this blog I will be writing about whatever I’m interested in at any one time, as well as things/people/places that inspire me, lessons I’ve learned, experiences I’ve had… as it says in the ‘About Me’ section; I’m addicted to learning new things & am constantly finding new thought-provoking quotes, books, websites, people, stories, places etc that inspire me & I wanted a place to put all these things together, as well as include my own experiences, thoughts & creations that may be able to inspire others.

Some topics I intend to cover include; art; philosophy; spirituality; health; music; books; tv/film; self-discovery; relationships; travel; career… & I’m sure many other subjects will pop up too. If people read my posts & find inspiration from them, then that’s awesome, if not that’s fine too 🙂

I’m on a quest to find more meaning & truth in my life & the world & I hope to use this blog as a way to document my findings.

I’ll leave it at that for now, it’s a very brief introduction I know, but seeing as this blog will be written by me & about me, there’s no doubt that much more will be revealed with every post.

Until then, Peace 🙂

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