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My blog is my escape, where my passion for people & writing come together to create something special. Be inspired. Be encouraged. Be blessed. Much love & keep smiling. x

Thursday, November 10, 2016

5 things I wish I knew before leaving school

I witnessed my sister heading off to her Year 12 Formal the other day and I felt so incredibly proud. The beginning of the end to a long thirteen years of schooling and turning the page to a new chapter post-HSC exams. I came home from work the night of Aimee's last exam and she was glowing. The freedom she had only been looking forward to was now a reality. I hugged her, welcoming her to this new and exciting journey. I explained to her that while she may feel like a huge burden had been lifted off her shoulders, it is not all cruisy from here. Life throws lots of curveballs and you need to be prepared to face them head on, instead of let them overpower you. 

Later that night, I laid in bed thinking how that was me two years ago and how much has changed in that short period of time. I reminisced about the challenges that I faced as I completed my exams and my personal experiences of that taste of 'freedom' that followed. I quickly wrote down a few things that I wish I had known when I waved school goodbye, with the intention of sharing these pieces of advice with my sister.

1. Be open minded. 
You'll meet new people with different values and morals to you. Don't let that dishearten you, but rather listen to their perspectives, explore new avenues and deepen your own understanding. Don't be stubborn and close-minded. Always be willing to learn and grow. Knowledge is power. Stand up for what you believe in, but don't shut down others for their beliefs. 

2. Embrace challenges. Acknowledge that things won't be easy, but when difficulties arise, take those moments to pause and evaluate the situation from multiple directions. Sometimes we limit ourselves to the things we want to see and are oblivious to the things we should or need to be focusing on. Your attitude and perspective changes everything, so adjust them accordingly.

3. Find your passion and run with that. Do something that you love, but also try new things - you may love something that you don't even know yet! The first step is finding something that you love, but the most important thing is believing in that. Never be scared to step outside your comfort zone. Often, you will find that you will make new experiences, meet new people and have the opportunity to reveal your hidden talents when you take a risk and try something different. 


4. Make time for your friends. It is different after school, because you have to put time and effort into maintaining your friendships. You grow up with these people and you learn from each other. These relationships are important and you will find that once you go your separate ways, it is much more difficult to hold on to those special bonds you have created. All relationships work better when equal amounts of effort is put in by everyone involved.


5. Remember that you are Loved. You will quickly realise that this world is messed up. There are so many things going on, not only on a global scale, but even within our local surroundings. It is okay to feel overwhelmed by all of these things, but also remember to have faith that there is something much bigger and greater than all of these materialistic and temporary things. In a world full of chaos, let this reminder bring you peace. 

Growing up is an exciting, but scary and fun, yet challenging experience. I have realised in the last two years, that I have already grown and matured so much. But more importantly, I have realised that this growing and maturing never stops.

Keep smiling. x

Thursday, September 8, 2016

society needs its butt kicked.

We all have insecurities. We live in a world where we naturally compare our appearance, style, personality, career, lifestyle and more, with that of friends and complete strangers. Inevitably (and wrongly), we begin to believe that we are simply not good enough. Just as we begin to get comfortable and feel like we 'have our lives together' or are 'genuinely happy', something new emerges that tells us that we aren't quite as happy as we could be yet. 

A society that finds worth in materialistic things instructs on how we can enhance every little thing about us in order to fit perfectly within its ideology. Although, this implies that what lies beyond and doesn't conform, therefore holds no value. 

Do we really want to reflect that false framework our messed up society has built? Girls get body shamed for not having a gap between their thighs and guys that don't sport a tanned athletic body with a six-pack aren't as "attractive" as they could be. I mean, come on, seriously? And the sad part is, this doesn't even scratch the surface. Society needs its butt kicked. Seriously. 

Let's admire and compliment one another without questioning our own
beauty, strength and self-worth.

Reality is, when we adopt this frame of mind there is limited space left to genuinely love ourselves, because we are too focused on improving, rather than appreciating, the qualities that we already have. Let's show this society who's boss. A society in which unrealistic standards need to be re-evaluated so that going against 'the grain' is praised, rather than looked down upon. 

Girls, don't even think about mentioning thigh gaps anyway - they are, like, so last year. 'Thigh brows' are the new thing (sadly, it's a thing - Google it). If this is the kind of standard that society has perceived as 'normal', then this is an open invitation to everyone who would like to be as abnormal as possible with me. 

Let's admire and compliment one another without questioning our own beauty, strength and self-worth. Empower, not compete. Let this be your reminder that you are SO enough. 

Keep smiling. x

Friday, August 12, 2016

blink and it's over.

You just have to turn on the news to realise how messed up and corrupted this world has become. This can't be it. Why would we live to work, work to make money, make money to pay bills, pay bills to live comfortably and survive, then one day we never take another breath? There HAS to be something, someone, greater than all of this 'temporary' stuff.

I have always respected people who are open-minded and are willing to listen and be challenged - in general, but particularly in regards to religion. For me, my faith is my rock. The stability and strength that I find in believing in something greater than I could ever imagine provides solace when I am drowning in the waves that life is throwing.
"I would rather live my life as if there was a god and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is" - Albert Camus.
After a lot of back-and-forth contemplating and excuse-making, my boyfriend and I decided to meet at our local park and attempt to do some exercise. For me, 'exercise' isn't even in my vocabulary, so needless to say, getting my lazy butt off the couch this afternoon to walk further than just to the fridge or my bed, proved difficult. Despite the heavy breathing that I experienced while developing a stitch after my first lap of the oval (I know what you're thinking, tragic), one thing happened as we walked back to our cars an hour later that made those (poor-excuses for) push-ups completely worth it. I turned around and the sky was painted with strokes of bright colours. Sunsets are 100% my weakness and God wasn't playing any games tonight!


Of course, I had to take a photo. By 'a photo', I mean multiple. And in typical Jess fashion, I drove home thinking that perhaps life is like one huge sunset; breathtakingly beautiful, but blink and it's over. We are blessed in countless ways and the most obvious blessing is life itself. I think we too often take that special gift for granted. Make sure your sunset is worth watching.

Keep smiling. x

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

happiness.

Warning: personal post! Yes, it's about relationships and you are probably wondering why I am writing and posting something so personal to me. The reason? I want to be real. And I know that with being real, comes vulnerability and honestly, I am scared - so please be nice. I have wanted to post this for a while, but I have never known if it is right or if it will actually help someone. I want to show anyone that may be reading this that relationships - whether it be with a friend, a significant other or a family member - ALL come with road bumps. I want to encourage you to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation in its entirety, not just from your perspective. So here goes...

It has taken me almost six years to realise that my happiness should not be hindered by the words or actions of other people. It also should not be wholly dependent on someone else, regardless of how close they are to you. It's not worth it, trust me. I did just that for almost four years. My first relationship began when I was fifteen and lasted three and half years with a four-month break somewhere in the second half. To say it was easy would be a lie. We may have dated a long time, but it was the fact that I had made him the biggest part of my life that was the problem. He was number one and over everything else in my life, he came first. As sweet and lovely as that sounds, it's not. Putting other people on a pedestal is dangerous and opens up a lot of space to get hurt. 

It has been almost a year since that relationship ended and holy heck, those following months were the hardest, most painful months I have experienced so far. In hindsight though, I have learnt a lot. I have learnt that a relationship works two ways and you both need to be putting in equal effort. I have learnt that being completely open, honest and real with one another is crucial to communicating how you are feeling. I have learnt that other people don't define your worth and that there are people out there who love reminding you that you are beautiful, special and valued. I have realised that for all that time, I had been putting the wrong thing first. God needed to be first in my life and I had my priorities out of line for way too long. It is so incredibly important to not put worldly things on a pedestal. Love them, love it, love whatever the thing is that is so special to you - but never, ever put it before God.

I guess as cliche as it sounds, you not only learn how to become stronger through heartache, but you also learn that life goes on - and that is exactly what happened. Life went on and I have moved on with a whole new perspective toward all forms of relationships regardless of who they are with. 

Right now, as I sit here finishing off this post, I can confidently say that it has not been easy getting to this point, but I am so incredibly grateful and genuinely happy. So take it from me: your happiness is just that - yours. Avoid letting other people completely influence how you are feeling. If you are upset, be upset. If you are feeling on top of the world, then share that positive energy with those around you. But no matter what, you should never have to justify the way you are feeling to anyone (been there, done that and *yawn* waste of time). Just do you!


Keep smiling. x

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

beneath.

A regular customer came into work and I have never before met such a loud, bubbly and talkative woman. This one particular day she walked in and having a never-ending conversation with her was the last thing I wanted to do. I avoided making eye-contact. Eventually, she finished her shopping and walked over to the register. Commence 'Operation Cashier Small-Talk'. I asked her how her day was and she replied with, "alright thanks". I paused, waiting for the inevitable story time, but for some reason nothing followed. I looked at her confused and asked again, "how are you?" She immediately started downloading - her husband had an affair and tonight was his first night with the kids after they had divorced, so she had an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

Lesson learnt. Don't take things for face value, because perhaps people are just like the ocean. On a beautiful day, it captures a serene and perfect atmosphere with the water reflecting a cloudless, crisp blue sky, but beneath the surface, the invisible depths create a darkness that echoes a quiet, distant and lost place, almost forgotten.


Keep smiling. x

Monday, May 16, 2016

makeup washes off. confidence shouldn't.

I woke up this morning and walked in to the bathroom to wash my face. As I looked up at my reflection, an overwhelming sense of sadness flooded over me. You're so ugly. I mean, look at you: the dark circles, the red blotchy patches, the pimples. Not one single part of me felt beautiful. Tears completely filled my eyes and I began to cry as I stared at my bare faced reflection. This isn't the first time that this has happened either.

So, to all the girls and guys who have been told, "you wear too much makeup" or who just enjoy those ten extra minutes of getting ready, this is for you. When you get home from work, jump in the shower and you are taking off your makeup, how do you feel? Do you still feel as beautiful as you do when you are wearing makeup when you are completely bare faced?

When I ask myself this question, in all honesty, I can say that I definitely do not feel beautiful at all. I was on a school camp in high school and I woke up one morning and couldn't be bothered to put any makeup on. As the day went on, some of the kids in my class asked me if I was 'feeling okay' and told me that I 'looked really tired'. Since then, I cannot think of one time that I have left the house without even a little bit of makeup on. I have been on mission trips overseas where I have put makeup on before meeting everyone for breakfast. In the process of hugging people, I have left marks on their shirt from my foundation and when I apologised, they just said, "you obviously wear too much makeup". When I sleep over at another person's house, I try to make sure I wake up earlier than them, so I can run to the bathroom and cover up those dark circles. My sister has told me she doesn't understand why I bother putting it all on, but apart from enjoying it, makeup also gives me confidence and makes me feel beautiful. Without it, I am incredibly insecure about my appearance. And this is where the issue can begin.

There is a difference between makeup giving you confidence and makeup being your confidence. When it starts to define that you are confident, that can be detrimental. As soon as you wipe away the foundation, are you wiping away the confidence and the beauty, too? For me, that's a yes.

As fun as it is to put on some mascara and cover up those dark circles, I realised that the way I was thinking was emotionally unhealthy. I spent almost fifteen minutes crying as I sat there looking at my reflection, telling myself I was so ugly. I am finding my value, my worth and my beauty from my appearance, and moreso, an appearance that I am creating. I am not saying it is easy to stop doing this, but once you acknowledge the way you are thinking, you can at least attempt to change this mindset. I am not saying that wearing makeup is a bad thing and that you should never touch lipstick again (because let's be honest, as long as Priceline is around, that's not happening anytime soon!) However, if you're like me, then you need to seriously reevaluate the reasons why you wear makeup. Makeup shouldn't make you beautiful. Makeup should enhance what was already beautiful in the first place.  

Keep smiling. x

Thursday, March 24, 2016

keep searching.

The other day at work an elderly lady walked in to return her shopping trolley, but came over to the counter holding her car keys up to her face, as if she were inspecting them. She asked if we had any batteries that would fit in her car keys as she had tried unlocking her car, but the buttons didn't seem to be working. I asked her if she had tried unlocking the car by physically putting the key into the lock on her door and she raised her eyebrows saying she hadn't thought of that. I asked her if she wanted me to help her, so I carried some of her bags and followed her to the street where her car was...supposed to be. The woman, starting to fret, looked at me saying,"it was just over there! I parked it over near that gate where a group of mothers were talking". I looked at the empty space she was pointing to asking her if she didn't park elsewhere, but she was adamant that her car should have been there. 

I continued to follow her up and down the street, looking for a 'small white Holden' that was nowhere to be seen. After about three minutes of searching, the lady was now both confused and angry. She started worrying, saying that her car must have been stolen, because "it was right there before when I was trying to unlock it with the car keys". I reassured her that it had not been stolen and suggested that she may have parked around the other side of the carpark behind the shop. The lady continued to deny that she parked the car elsewhere and begun retracing her steps. All of a sudden a large Land Cruiser reversed out of its carpark space further up the road, not only catching our attention, but revealing a small while Holden parked next to another small gate. The elderly woman was delighted and relieved, "there it is! That's my car!" By this time I had her car keys in my hand and tried pressing the button and immediately the car unlocked. The lady laughed apologising for how silly she was, "I was trying to unlock the wrong car! Oh dear me!"

Sometimes, although we have the right intentions all along, there will be things in our way that divert our path or distract us from what it is we are searching for. Unfortunately this can cause us to unnecessarily overthink certain situations. Don't ever stop searching for that thing you are looking for. Perhaps it is that one big dream you have, the goal you have set to achieve this year or that incredible desire to accomplish something. 


I don't know what that 'car' looks like to you, but whatever that thing is you desire, keep searching for it. There may just be a few big four wheel drives blocking your view of that amazing sense of achievement and success that lies beyond. All the cars you have tried - and failed - to unlock on your way isn't simply to try your patience or laugh in your face. More often than not, they will teach you valuable lessons. You just need to persevere, because you will find that the wrong cars will eventually lead you to the right one, allowing you to appreciate what you have achieved more than you could imagine.

Keep smiling. x


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ten things I hate about you.

Yes, this is a rant post. But it's not your usual rant. It's a rant about me, to me. The other day my best friend asked me that wonderful question, 'if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?' But of course, rather than just making myself feel a small portion of self-loathe, I used up all the fingers I have to list a whopping ten. So no, this isn't a juicy rant about an old friend or even a movie review (how good is that movie though!?). Instead this is a reflection about those ten things that I want to change about myself.

I strive for relatable content and each of my blog posts are one-hundred percent honest. A lot of the things I am going to share are very personal and with that comes vulnerability, so please, be nice. Before I start, I want to make it clear that the last thing I want this post to become is a sympathy call or a way for me to fish for compliments. I am sharing this, because I feel like self-loathing is, unfortunately, something natural that we all do on a regular basis, whether it is intentional or not. No matter how hard we try, it is incredibly difficult to be completely happy with ourselves - our appearance, behaviour or personality. For me, it's a mixture of all three.
  1. Comparing. I compare myself to others all the time, it's actually ridiculous. I know how unhealthy it is, but there are days where I will just come across a picture of a flawless woman or walk through a shopping centre and see a girl with the perfect style, beautiful hair and not a pimple in sight and automatically feel less happy with my appearance. 
  2. Impatience. Crying children, people taking too long to tell their story (which to be honest, I probably do way too often myself), waiting in queues . . . yeeeah, no thank you! 
  3. Forgiveness. I hold grudges. If someone took advantage of my trust or did or said something that hurt me in some way, I find it difficult to just forgive and forget. Moving on from situations, no matter how big or small, is something I struggle with. 
  4. Temper. I get frustrated very easily. If I have already mentioned to my Mum what days I am working during the week or what my plans are for the weekend, and then a few days later she asks me to remind her, I get annoyed and fail to recognise that I have lost my temper at something so insignificant. That said, I am never angry for very long - it really only takes a puppy, a shower or a Tim-Tam and I'm set! 
  5. Head to toe. I told you this was a personal post, so get ready for TMI (apologies in advance), but as most people, there are things I would love to change about my appearance. With a European background, I naturally have darker and thicker hair than most people, which is all well and good as I doubt I will ever go bald, BUT hairy arms, a snail trail and a girl-stache aren't generally that attractive. I also hate my feet (actually, I just hate feet in general) and am in a love-hate relationship with what have remained my 'bee stings' since Year 7 (girls, this one's for you). 
  6. People pleaser. Although I claim that I don't, I care too much about what other people think of me. If people aren't sitting right with me, then I'll let them know and even if they are the ones in the wrong, I will still put in my own time and effort to try and fix the problem. 
  7. Organised. I like being organised, which is usually a good thing. If a plan hasn't been sorted or if there is an issue that needs to be resolved I will do all I can to get it done, but this can sometimes come across as being bossy. 
  8. Easily distracted. I am great at the whole 'talking' thing, but unfortunately I am a terrible listener. I try really hard, but I get distracted incredibly easily. I need to be completely focused and in the right frame of mind, otherwise I can almost guarantee that you don't have my full attention. 
  9. Stubborn. I stand up for what I believe in and I like to think that I am open-minded. However, when I get passionate about a topic, particularly in conversations with my parents, I will go out of my way to get my point across and in some cases disagree just to prevent giving in or avoid admitting that I am wrong.
  10. Delegation. This goes with being organised. I hate telling people what to do - I get awkward and it feels uncomfortable, so instead I just do it all on my own. I get bogged down with a lot of tasks, but in my head it's easier to do it yourself and know the exact process of how it's being completed. That way there are minimal mistakes and there is no one else to blame but yourself. It all sounds like a perfect plan to begin with, but I have realised that although being a leader of a team requires a lot of effort, your team members are there to be given jobs. My job is to delegate and not doing that means I am not only giving myself more work, but not actually doing my job properly. 
After I finally took a breath and finished recalling the endless things I wish I could change about myself to my friend, the look on his face said it all. He looked at me so upset and when I asked him what was wrong, he simply said that he wondered how I could list to him all these things I didn't like so effortlessly. It got me thinking, we so often focus on the things we would love to change about ourselves, whether it be physical or not, but rarely are we able to so easily list the traits we love

The thing that I have learnt from this is although self-loathing, to an extent, is almost a natural process, it is unhealthy. Why do we find it easier to hate than to love? Why is it easier to pick out our imperfections, rather than be content with the fact that no one else is flawless either? I am not saying to simply ignore these things, but if there are traits or habits that can be changed, like impatience or constantly comparing yourself to others, then make it a goal to do something about it!

In order to show love to others, you must first love yourself. I know I'm not the only one that struggles with this, so I encourage anyone else to join me in writing down a few things you don't like about yourself on a piece of paper and then go outside with a lighter, some matches or a lit candle and burn that bad boy up, because the negativity and the self-loathing stops here. You are so much more than those words on that paper. Your value and worth lies beyond that. Focus on the things that make you beautiful, caring, funny, loving, loyal, strong, trustworthy - the things that make you, 'you'. We live in a pretty messed up world. Don't waste your time trying to achieve the unattainable standards that society sets for us. Learn to love yourself for who you are and always strive to be the best version of you that you can possibly be. Who's with me?


Keep smiling. x