Tag Archives: philosophy

Peace Wherever You Go ♥

Admiring the Summer Palace, Beijing

It’s amazing how much travelling can put personal growth and self-discovery into warp-speed mode.

Being in a new place, whether it’s around the corner from your home or on the other side of the world, heightens your senses and forces you to live in the moment, taking in everything you possibly can.

I learnt a lot about myself recently when Mike and I spent a week in Beijing. Even though we’ve been living in China for seven months, this was our first real back packing adventure with just the two of us, and something we had wanted to do for years.

Even though I had an amazing time there and will always look back on it as one of my best adventures yet, I wasn’t really looking forward to it beforehand.

We had organised to stay in a hostel, something I’d never done before, and even though we had booked a private room, I was a bit anxious about it. I’m a pretty shy and quiet person, an introvert, so being in a place that constantly has such a huge social atmosphere is a little overwhelming.

The overnight train rides to and from Beijing had also been making me a bit anxious, as it requires being in a cabin with total strangers for twelve hours, spending most of your time trying not to invade each others’ space while you attempt to navigate the bunks or move around the halls.

The fact that I had been worrying about these little things for the days leading up to our Beijing adventure obviously didn’t help anything either, so I eventually found myself losing all excitement for it.

But, as usual, I soon discovered that my worries were complete fiction, a waste of time, complete an utter bull.

I have learnt, during my years overcoming anxiety, the only way to stop being afraid of something, is to just do it.

The anxious mind is a trickster, a heckler, and a brilliant illusionist. And, as with any other form of unnecessary and unconstructive criticism, the best way to handle it is to not let it stop you from living the life you want to live, to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’

And that is just what I did.

The train rides were actually pretty fun, and not at all as bad as my mind had made me believe it would be. The hostel, well, that was just plain AWESOME. The people we so cool and friendly, the room was great, the food was freaking delicious, and we were encouraged to grab some textas and write on the walls. That is every artists’ dream!

The 365 Inn, where we stayed.

The message Mike wrote on wall

It ended up being one of the best weeks of my entire life, full of adventure, risk-taking, meeting new people, seeing amazing places, and coming home with a thousand awesome memories and a new sense of confidence, accomplishment and self-awareness.

In a traditional Chinese dress.

At the Summer Palace










A moment I know I will never forget occurred on Chinese New Year, Mike and I were standing on the rooftop of the hostel, counting down to midnight, and being completely surrounded by fireworks. Explosions of sound, colour, and cheers erupted again and again for almost an hour as families and friends throughout Beijing celebrated the new year.

I felt so blessed to be there to witness it, and I knew in that moment that I had come so, so far… too far to ever go back to the person I used to be. I felt a wave of relief as I realised then that my fears would never get in the way of me living my life ever again.

I was reminded of that rooftop moment just the other night. I was walking through the snow on my way to meet Mike for dinner, when fireworks started exploding right in front of me, continuing the 15 day celebrations for Spring Festival.

Fireworks in Daqing

As I looked up at the amazing colours falling from the sky, and felt the sweet kisses of snowflakes as they touched my skin, I realised I was, in that moment, proving to myself that I can do anything.

You see, a year ago, I was too afraid to open my front door when the doorbell rang. Too anxious to walk down our short driveway just to check the mail. I even avoided going into the backyard alone, in case I was seen by a neighbour and forced into a potentially uncomfortable or awkward conversation.

I would never have admitted it then, in fact I wouldn’t have admitted it even six months ago, but I was so trapped by my own fears that I just avoided them altogether, until I couldn’t leave the house unless I was with someone.

So, imagine my pride when I suddenly realise that I am walking through the streets of a foreign city, in a foreign country, at night, completely alone, and with a freaking huge smile on my face! Thousands of miles away from my comfort zone, and not a single worry or fear on my mind.

That’s what travel can do for you.

Not long after that amazing moment on a rooftop in Beijing, but before that amazing moment in the snow, I was walking through some markets and found a stall that sold rings. I noticed one with four Chinese characters on it, and asked the woman working there what it meant.

“It mean… Peace… When you leave and when come back. Peace wherever you go.”

Peace wherever you go.

I wrote that on the wall of the 365 Inn, so that others can be inspired by it just as I was.

I’m wearing that ring now, as I write this. And I will always wear it, as a reminder of how far I’ve come, and how much I’ve overcome, in order to find my own peace, peace within myself, peace with my fears, and peace within the world.

Take some time now to look back and notice how far you have come, and what you have overcome in the process. Be proud of everything you have achieved, and how much you’ve grown! And be grateful for all the lessons you have learnt in between.

Go smile at yourself,

Jen ♥

Written on the second floor staircase of the 365 Inn, Beijing.

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“Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad.” ~ Norm Papernick

Last night, I was woken up by the sound of someone laughing. I was relieved to discover that it was me 🙂

I don’t know if that means I’ve gone mad or if I was just dreaming about something really funny, but either way, it was pretty cool.

Continuing on with #reverb10:

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

I spent the whole day making something today. It’s awesome. I mean, really awesome. It’s for a really good cause, too! Also, it’s a secret.

I’ll post it sometime over the next week 🙂

In Other News…

I started university this week, studying two subjects; Philosophy, Morality & Society, & Art & Creation. I’m loving it all so far, & I wanted to share with you some of my Philosophy work. Last week, our tutor posed this question:

‘There are two ideas that will be central to the course: happiness and “the good.”

I wonder, how do you define “happiness”? And how do you think it relates to “goodness”‘?

Here’s the answer I gave:

‘To me, “happiness” is a combination of things, but at its core I believe it is always a choice. I think if we have enough strength & wisdom, we can always choose happiness – no matter what is going on in our lives or in the world around us.

I believe that true, fulfilling happiness cannot be found through money, material possessions or social status. We have to make the decision to be happy & keep up the internal maintenance to ensure it grows more every day.

“Goodness” is also a combination of things. It is being good to yourself, as well as being good to others. It is doing the activities that make you feel good, whether it is cooking, painting, reading, spending time with loved ones or watching a funny movie. It is seeing & appreciating the good in everything, everyone, & every moment, even if it is just enjoying a good meal.

I think ‘the good’ consists of the external things & qualities that contribute to happiness, whereas ‘happiness’ itself is an internal feeling, a perception of the world that always sees that goodness, & an internal choice that needs to be consciously made every day.’

I know there will be some people who disagree with my answer, but it is how I try to live my life every day. I’m not saying it’s perfect & that I’m always in a state of happiness – I’m not. There are times that I forget to choose it, & other times I decide not to choose it. But, most of the time, happiness is the path I choose to take.

Speaking of happiness, I want you to really laugh out loud today. Here’s a great video to get you started:

Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥

Wise Words Wednesday!

“Howl to the sky,  feel & release – be free, be wild, & dance the

pain out, reach up & touch the bliss of sheer existence!

I am alive, & I embrace it all!

I commit fully &  fearlessly to this life  –  are we not

blessed by simply taking in this one sweet deep breath?”

~ Lucy Cavendish

(Artwork by Jen Saunders based on the above quote)

Day 7: Vision Wall!

It’s Day 7 of Art Every Day Week already! What a great week it’s been 🙂 Today I continued on with the theme from yesterday, creating pretty quote art to stick on my always-growing vision wall.

My vision wall displays pictures of my family, friends, things that remind of home, some artwork I have created, my favourite quotes, photos from some of my happiest moments – such as my first art gallery exhibit & the night Mike proposed to me – & some funny pictures that always put a smile on my face. Today I added quotes (see picture below) that I hope will motivate me to focus on study, as I am recommencing university studies later this month (My first two subjects are Philosophy & Art, so you will be seeing plenty of blog posts on those two topics soon!).


Vision walls are a great tool when it comes to achieving goals, leading a happier life, or even just brightening up a bare wall. Not only will a vision wall help to keep you focussed on what is important to you, but they are fun to make & you can add to it & change it as your goals, tastes, & desires change.

STEP 1: You can use anything as the canvas for your vision; a bare wall in your house; a pinboard; a scrapbook or journal… Even the refrigerator door or bedroom window! As long as you will be able to see it everyday, you can place your vision anywhere you like.

STEP 2: Collect photographs, magazine clippings, articles, sketches or other artwork that relate to your goals, desires or just things that make you smile & feel all warm & fuzzy inside. For example; if your goal is to go to Hawaii, you would collect photos & images of Hawaii, it’s beaches, destinations, hula dancers, & stick them on your vision wall. You could also add some articles about the islands, where to stay, even other peoples’ blog posts about their trip to Hawaii! To give it that extra ‘pop’, you could also add a Lei or a fake Hibiscus – one of the native flowers of Hawaii. To ensure that you stick to your goal, you could add some motivational quotes written on brightly coloured post-it notes & stick them randomly around the wall, such as:

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown

STEP 3: Spend at least 5 minutes every day admiring your creation. You can do this as you have your morning coffee or as you get ready for bed at night. As you do so, visualize yourself achieving your goal. Imagine how it feels, what it looks like, tastes like, smells like, to have achieved your goal. Continuing with the Hawaii example; visualize yourself lying on a beach in Hawaii, feel the warm sun on your skin (you’re wearing sunblock, of course!), admire the clear blue sea, the golden sand & the tall palm trees, smell the ocean breeze… feel how proud you are for achieving your goal, how relaxed you are, & how powerful you feel knowing that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

If you prefer, you could create a vision wall solely for happiness purposes, rather than for achieving goals. Collect photos of your loved ones, pets, role models, favourite celebrities, artwork, or things you have created yourself to stick onto your wall. Add lists of things/people that you are grateful for, inspiring quotes, funny photos… anything that makes you smile!

Maybe this can start you off:

If you have children, make creating a vision wall an arts & crafts activity for the whole family! It will be fun for them, plus it’s a great tool for helping them to set goals & focus on the things that make them happy. After all, it’s never too early for children to learn valuable life skills such as goal setting & positive thinking!

*If you create a vision wall – or already have one – please feel free to email me pictures of them (jenartist@live.com.au) I will include them in another post to help inspire others 🙂

Keep Smiling! 🙂

Jen xo


Day 5: Transformation

A lot of things have been changing in my life lately, myself included. For Day 5 of Art Every Day Month, I decided to create something that symbolises all of the transformations that we all go through in our lives.

The koi fish, lotus flower, & butterfly are all symbols of transformation:

The koi fish swims upstream until it reaches it’s destination, where it transforms into a dragon.

The lotus flower pushes through the mud, then grows through the water in order to reach the sunlight at the surface, reaching enlightenment.

The caterpillar reaches the end of it’s life & disappears into a cocoon, only before awakening again as a beautiful, transformed butterfly.

In this artwork, which I’ve titled ‘The Transformation’, the koi fish is at the bottom of the image, representing the time before the change. The lotus flower is opening up after reaching the surface, representing the time during the change. And the butterfly, fully transformed, represents the time after the change & the new life that begins as a result.

I also created it as a tshirt design. I might buy it for myself as a Christmas present!







Keep Smiling! 🙂

Love Jen xo

Words To Live By…

“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.”

~ Elizabeth Gilbert in ‘Eat, Pray, Love‘.

‘This Too Shall Pass’, ‘Follow Your Bliss’, & Other Clichés That Happen To Be True.

Break Free. By Jen Saunders.

Being the Pollyanna that I pretty much have always been, I’ve often been told that my views on life aren’t realistic, or that my beliefs, such as everything happens for a reason are ‘such a cliché’. But still, I stuck with my clichés and happily trod along my own path in my own reality. Being told these things when I was younger taught me quickly that other people aren’t as open to positivity as I am. Yes, sayings like everything happens for a reason might well be a big fat cliché, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. In my experience, I have learned time and time again that everything really does happen for a reason, but I guess you have to be open enough to accept that. Anything that has ever happened in my life that I saw as ‘bad’ at the time, always lead to something better for me, either by pointing me in a completely new direction or teaching me a valuable life-lesson that has shaped who I am today.

As a hopeful teenager, I would try to help others to see things more positively, but I then began to learn that until they decide that they want something different than what they have, there’s nothing anyone or anything can do to change their mindset. Some people are just so terrified of any type of change or are so afraid to let go of the controls that they just stay stuck, sometimes for their whole lives. I know this, not only because I’ve seen it, but because I’ve been there. I’ve been paralysed with fear, stuck in a negative mindset, had times when everything looked so bad that I didn’t know what to do. Who hasn’t had those times? I always remember the Buddhist saying,‘This too shall pass.’ And, even if I don’t believe it at the time, there’s always a way through it. In my world, no type of change is as scary as being stuck in the same unhealthy mindset or environment for the rest of my life.

In my life, I want to always be moving forward, growing, learning, and evolving. If others choose not move forward with me, then that’s their business and I will let them go as I continue down the path that is right for me.

I don’t mean to sound self-righteous. I’m not saying that everything I’ve stated here is complete truth, it’s not, it’s just my opinion. It’s my own truth.

You Have To Follow Your Bliss

Image by Brandon Carpenter via Flickr

What I know for sure is that everyone has their own path. My path is not right for everyone (that’s for sure!) and the paths of others are not right for me. Over the years I’ve come to learn how to respect the paths that others choose to take, and I’ve also come to learn how to politely ignore others when they attempt to sway me from my own path or poke fun at me because of the way I view life and the world. There are always going to be people who don’t agree, don’t understand and don’t respect the paths we choose, but these people do us a great favour by teaching us how to be strong, to stick to our values & follow our hearts. They will challenge us, but their opposition tests our strength, courage & commitment, often causing us to move forward with our beliefs even more firm than before.

We will also come across people who follow a similar path to ours, people we will admire and want to learn from. Just by being in the company of these like-minded people, we can learn so much more about who we are and who we want to be.

Everyone who enters your life can teach you something about yourself. They don’t even have to be people you know, they can be fictional characters, politicians, movie stars, authors, even people you simply pass by on the street can change your life forever. Some people are meant to stay in your life so that you can always learn and grow with their help, and they can always learn and grow with your help. Others may only stay in your life for a few years at most, they will teach you what they need to and then you will go your separate ways. And that’s okay because everything happens for a reason.

People can teach you how to be strong by knocking you down. They can teach you to really explore who you are and what kind of life you want to live by poking holes in your beliefs, forcing you to rethink your ideals and either throw them away and start again or build on the beliefs even more, making them stronger than ever before. They can teach you more about who you want to be by showing you how they live, and they can also teach you more about who you don’t want to be by showing you how they live. It works both ways. But no matter what, as long as you remember that there is no wrong or right – there are only differences – you can learn something from everyone & everything that happens in life, if you just take a moment to open your eyes, your mind & your heart.

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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