Tag Archives: women

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 3

via Pinterest

“I want to know if you can see beauty

even when it’s not pretty,

every day, and if you can source your

own life from its presence.”

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Hello beautiful!

Are you seeing beauty everywhere?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Believe it.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@BonnieHenna #imbeautifulbecause I give without fear of lacking !

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double rainbows and flutterbys,

Jen ♥

Wise Words: Putting the YOU in beaYOUtiful

via tree of life

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

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

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

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

What puts the YOU in beaYOUtiful?

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

Here’s what these amazing women had to say:

Amanda | Kind Over Matter | @kindovermatter

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

Brianne | I Want Her Job | @iwantherjob

What makes me beautiful?

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

It’s my light.

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

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

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

Cinda | ROAR! With Cinda | ROAR! Facebook

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

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

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

Dani | Positively Present | @positivepresent

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

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

Jenn | Roots Of She | @rootsofshe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karen | A Peaceful Path | A Peaceful Path Facebook

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

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

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

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

This is when I am beautiful.

Leonie | Goddess Guidebook | @GoddessLeonie

Liv | Choosing Beauty | @ChoosingBeauty

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

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

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

Lori | Tiny Buddha | @tinybuddha

I believe my vulnerability makes me beautiful.

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

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

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

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

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

Tess | The Bold Life | @theboldlife

I feel beautiful

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

slow down, breathe deeply, savoring all of life.

In this moment nothing else exists

but the beauty of everything, everywhere.

I feel beautiful when I understand my purpose,

my desire to create, to serve, to do something

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

empowered by the light that lies within us all.

I feel beautiful when I quiet my mind and

as a peacemaker, I behold a compassionate vision

for millions and billions and trillions

stretching to infinity and limitless horizons.

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

I see your soul through the window of my eyes.

I sense your joy, I see your delight,

engulfed in the magnificence of now and always.

I feel beautiful when I reflect your

inherent beauty and goodness

and emerge with you into ‘I Am’

lost in the dance, experiencing the extraordinary,

knowing that we never walk alone.

Come as you are to the bounty of love.

We are in full blossom now, we are infinite.

Deep into our souls we travel,

A radical and social transformation,

spinning together on our illusionary planet.

May we all feel beautiful.

via Pinterest

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

Leave a comment answering this question:

What puts the YOU in beaYOUtiful?

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

Shine Your Light,

Jen ♥

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 ♥

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.