let’s not grow up (too much).

I was sitting on the train on my way to Uni the other morning when a group of people sat in front of me. Two little girls – around six-years-old and more than likely twins – spending the day out with their grandparents. They had turned one of the sets of three seats to face the other set so they could be sitting opposite one another. This of course meant that I was awkwardly looking directly at the Grandfather and one of the twins. I smiled at the little girl and she grinned back. The Grandfather looked in my direction, but he didn’t return the smile I gave him – which made me wonder whether he was actually just looking out the window beside me or if I appeared to be a threatening stranger. (Look, to be perfectly honest, the latter wouldn’t even surprise me – I have a high success rate with making children cry/frown/look confused/run away).

I untangled my earphones and listened to music as I looked out the window, watching the same scenery go by as I do four times a week. An almost two-hour commute to Uni and the same back home makes it long and boring. The same walls and back streets plastered with graffiti. The same tradies sitting on the construction site having smoko – regardless of whether it is my 9:30am commute to Uni or my trip home later on in the afternoon. The same demolition site with a single brick wall remaining spray painted with the warning ‘Don’t Demo. Live Power’. The same people doing their exercises at Parramatta Park or swimming lap after lap at the public pool near Blacktown. The same flock of people rushing to get on the train at Strathfield Station. The same ‘Jesus is the Answer. Read your Bible’ sign plastered on the side of a worn-down building. Nothing is ever that different. It’s never exciting. It’s routine.

As I gazed out the window, I watched the world go by without really paying much attention to it. My mind was elsewhere. By ‘elsewhere’, I mean thinking about the ten-minute class presentation I had to do in less than an hour. Splendid. My train of thought (pardon the pun) was quickly interrupted by the two giggling girls sitting in front of me. The pair – much to their grandparent’s dismay – had their noses pressed up against the glass window of the train providing running commentary on what they could see outside.

“Look at the swimming pool Myla! It’s so big and blue!”
“Wow! It would be so cold swimming today though. Nanny, how are those people swimming? It’s so cold! And look at the puppy there in the park!”
“Aww! It’s so fluffy and look at its curly tail. It looks so happy!”

This went on for the rest of the train ride. And for someone who would pick a quiet carriage over a carriage full of kids any day, this back-and-forth chatter didn’t bother me at all. Somehow, it was quite the opposite. These twins saw everything around them in such an amazing way. The lens of sheer awe and wonderment that they happened to see the world through completely perplexed me – in a way that brought a surprising smile to my face. The environment that I deemed to be dull and the routine that I was adamant was tedious, they somehow managed to see from a completely different angle. Perspective. Got to love it, right?

They noticed the little things and more importantly, they appreciated them too. A completely different perspective to me. The young man that was running frantically to catch the train, they believed was excited to go to work. The woman walking down the street had pretty flowers on her dress that almost matched the ones in the garden next to her. The grey, overcast sky seemingly holding back some drops that would more than likely fall as I walked from the station to class, was in fact featuring a bunny-shaped cloud. Every little thing they saw outside was amazing. And the best part, they were looking out the same window as me.

It made me wonder that while we may see things one way, others can have a completely different outlook. I realised that while I may have grown up and matured, I lost that excitement for life that inherently comes with being a young child. Although I have more responsibilities now than merely checking my pigeon hole every afternoon at school for mail to give my parents, I was becoming disengaged and unobservant to the beauty that constantly surrounds me. It’s there, you just have to look out the window with a different lens. Rather than realigning my attitude and perspective to create my own realities each day, I was focusing on the mundane tasks that I had to do. Each day was a routine, a chore, a collective ‘sigh’. I was blatantly missing the little things around me that would bring me happiness. Perhaps we all need to grow up, but not too much – after all, we shouldn’t completely let go of that child-like wonderment we once had.

Those twins taught me something important that morning. Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. More than often, it’s not. But when you’re six-years-old and you haven’t a care in the world, you don’t see much else than rainbows and butterflies. So here you go friends: if you’re looking out your window right now and you can’t see things getting better or you feel like you have hit a dead end and life is just one big routine, then readjust your focus – readjust your lens. It won’t change what you’re seeing. It won’t change the situation. But I can assure you that it will change the way you look at it.

Before I knew it, the train pulled into Central station and I gathered my things. For the first time in three years of catching the train, I didn’t actually want to get off. The girls watched me as I stood up and as we made eye contact, I smiled at the two of them. Little did they know that within that smile was a small thank you. A thank you for letting me, for even just a brief moment, see the world through the eyes of two beautiful, care-free six-year-olds. A thank you for not only allowing me to recognise the beauty that lies everywhere around us, but also appreciate it. A thank you for gratitude in the most innocent of its forms. A thank you for reminding me that maybe, just maybe, routine doesn’t have to be all that bad – we just have to change the way we see things.

Keep smiling. x

 

my sister is the reason I believe

I decided to share my testimony in the form of poetry. Feel free to read it below or watch it by clicking on the video!

My Sister is the Reason I Believe | My Testimony from Jess Shipton on Vimeo.

My Sister is the Reason I Believe // my testimony 

This is the story of  why I believe in a God who loves me,
A small part of my journey that has helped form my testimony.
Back when I was five, I didn’t think much of God,
It was all just a story that I had been told.

But it took just one moment and everything changed.
I began asking questions and knew I wouldn’t be the same.
Who knew that one thing could make such an impact,
In a way that I was confused as to how to react.

It all happened one afternoon while our family was weeding the yard.
My three-year-old sister with flawless skin was the next minute scarred.
She had hooked a hockey strap to the collar of our dog,
Holding tightly to the other end as he chased people going for a jog.

The next part is where some fun quickly turned to disaster,
As the pair of people passed by, our dog began to run faster.
Failing to let go in time as she stumbled past,
She tripped on a metal garden rake lying face up on the grass.

As the situation unfolded before us and the seriousness was unveiled,
Mum and Dad raced over to my sister and realised she had been impaled.
A deep wound above her ankle, but no blood in sight,
The rake was protruding from her body and she was in for a fight.

Within the blink of an eye, a relaxed afternoon was now an emergency.
The sound of laughter quickly shifting to cries of urgency.
It is strange how in these moments, despite how quick everything moves,
It seems to slow down and feel like nothing will improve.

I sat down on the front porch as the neighbours calmed me down,
But meanwhile all I heard was loud sirens all around.
I can’t even express what was going through my head,
All I could see was flashing colours of blue and red.

Moments later, she had been rushed to the hospital,
A cheerful three-year-old girl with a body so little.
This is where she stayed for a few days and nights,
And we were given news that something didn’t go right.

She had an oxygen embolism which is as badas it sounds,
Where small amounts of air within the blood circulation are found.
The doctors informed Mum that my sister had stopped breathing,
And the monitor was flat lining as her heartslowly stopped beating.

The confusion, the sadness, the anger and the worry,
All these mixed emotions as the nurses could only say sorry.
The Doctors were meant to clean her wound with saline solution,
But hydrogen peroxide was the accidental and fatal substitution.

When you are having lots of fun, two and half minutes doesn’t seem like forever,
But when something like this happens, it’s hard to think it will get better.
However these few minutes seemed like an eternity to my Mum who was with her,
All the anxious and scared feelings that were blurring together.

I remember at this time I didn’t really know God at all,
But I was praying to something and of that I am sure.
A constant stream of thoughts and unspoken words,
That I knew that somewhere out there was being heard.

Meanwhile my parents were waiting in the hallway,
Where the nurse – mascara running down her face, had something to say.
She placed her hand on Mum’s knee and explained the cardiac arrest,
How something beyond us saved her and for that we are blessed.

Fifteen years later and I can’t fathom what happened that day.
My sister shouldn’t be here, but every night I pray.
I pray to a God that I now wholeheartedly believe in,
My sister is a living miracle and for that I will always thank Him.

With a scarred ankle that still remains as a reminder of her brave fight,
It serves as her testimony in which she continues to shine God’s light.
God knew that she needed to be here and that her short time on Earth wasn’t done.
And just like that, a life full of love and kindness begun.

My sister is one-hundred percent the reason I believe,
In a God that is bigger and greater than I could perceive.
She is a walking, talking, sometimes annoying, miracle,
But a life without her would be nothing short of unbearable.

While this is my story of how I met a God who loves me,
I challenge you to truly acknowledge the way he cares unconditionally.
Whether you have found Him yet or you are still searching,
Take courage in the infinite blessings and his constant nurturing.

He is my Heavenly Father full of compassion,
And a heart that pours out a love that will never go out of fashion.
At the end of the day, there is only one thing he asks you to do,
In order to be saved, you must believe His Word is true.

So what have you got to lose? This is real talk now.
If you look at how incredible this world is, you can’t help but ask how.
All you have to do is believe with all of your heart,
And if this God is more than just a story, you will be set apart.

Keep smiling. x

aims-and-i

stop seeking validation

I saved this quote on my phone ages ago and the other day I stumbled across it once again.

“If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?”

It got me thinking about the importance of self-love and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I write about this often because it is something that I struggle with daily. There are countless things I could list about my appearance that I would love to change. If I could go back to the day when prepubescent Jess had flawless skin, minimal pimples, zero dark under eye circles and was 100% okay with the whole no-makeup thing, then I would be on cloud nine. The only thing that didn’t happen to change during that period of my life were the pancakes that still exist on my chest (but hey, on the flip-side, I can sleep on my stomach just fine!)

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“We need to stop seeking validation from others. We need to stop placing all our worth in the values of other people.”

 

Fortunately, there is makeup to enhance natural beauty, but for me, the first step is initially recognising and appreciating that natural beauty I don’t seem to see. Personally, comparing myself to my girlfriends who look stunning with or without makeup is the biggest thing that hinders my confidence. Sleepovers generally consist of me waking up before others and running to the bathroom to apply some concealer to cover up those nasty dark circles – probably one of my two biggest insecurities. The other – the pancakes.

Reading this quote the other day really put things into perspective. This kind of negative self-talk and lack of confidence that I was continually feeding myself was not only killing my self-esteem, but my ability to see any sort of beauty within me at all. This constant negativity was unhealthy and I needed to change that mindset.

Let this be your reminder today that you don’t have to constantly seek validation from other people. Regardless of whether that is through the number of likes (or lack thereof) on a photo you have posted or attempting to meet the ridiculously unattainable and unrealistic standards that society has created.

We find it so much easier to put ourselves down than to appreciate the amazing things that we encompass – appearance AND personality-wise. When we focus on ridiculing parts of ourselves, it limits us from seeing the beauty others see. We need to stop seeking validation from others. We need to stop placing all our worth in the values of other people. We need to accept the reality that we will never be able to please everyone. Dita Von Teese illustrates it perfectly like this:

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches”.

If you are in a room full of people and everyone compliments you in some way, you would naturally feel really good about yourself. But all it takes is for one person to say they don’t like your outfit and that emotionally impacts us the most. Why do we let a single negative comment outweigh compliments? We need to stop resonating on those things that hinder our happiness – no matter what it is.

Regardless of how your self confidence is right now, we all have days where we aren’t 100% happy with how we wake up in the morning. I encourage you in that moment to look yourself in the mirror. You are one of a kind. You are beautiful, both inside and out. Tell yourself that you are the only person in this world like you. If that isn’t a precious gift, then I don’t know what is. Be yourself, love yourself and absolutely own it.

This isn’t going to guarantee that you will be a confident and positive person from this point forward. I can assure you there will be days where you will feel fantastic and there will be days where you feel completely on the other end of the spectrum. It is in that moment that I will be reading this again to remind myself of where I should be placing my value and worth – not in people, money or society’s idea of beauty, nor in these worldly and materialistic things, but firmly placing it within God.

Keep smiling. x