Jen Saunders is a special kind of woman. To be around her (even virtually via Twitter or her empowering website, My Smiling Heart) is to know what true confidence, kindness, beauty and sincerity looks like when its embodied by an individual fully. She was one of I Want Her Job's first readers and just last December she helped us create our logo materials for our Likes for Learning campaign. It was around that time that Jen decided she wanted to follow her heart for real and around eight months ago she launched My Smiling Heart, a website that aims to inspire, nurture and let others know they can choose to be a force for good.
My Smiling Heart has since evolved and a spinoff, Wild Sister Magazine, launched just more than a month ago. The magazine aims to make good on the same mission as My Smiling Heart. Read more about Jen in her interview below.
Know that you are more than enough, and you will have more than enough.
How did you discover your current job?
I created it! I fell in love with writing last year when I started my blog, My Smiling Heart, and I’ve always loved creating and designing, so I wanted to find a way to combine both of these passions, as well as collaborate with amazing women and be a force of good.
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
Some days I write for the magazine or for my blog. Other days I’m reading and editing submissions for the magazine, or designing and arranging the layout of the next issue. Some days I go out and do a little photo shoot for the magazine.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part of my job is being able to connect with so many brilliant women. The communities and the sisterhoods that have formed both through My Smiling Heart and Wild Sister give me so much joy and empowerment. I am so honored to be in such amazing company.
The most challenging part for me is definitely time management! Sometimes I feel like I always have a million things to do, so I need to remember to just take it one step at a time -- and always keep a to-do list!
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
At the moment I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything for my job. In fact, it doesn’t even feel like a job. I’m having so much fun, and I’m so passionate about it that I would do it even if I didn’t get paid for it. I feel very grateful for that.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
When you are aligned with your purpose and your passion, everything else falls into place.
I spent years trying to fit in and do what other people wanted me to do, and I ignored my passions. As soon as I decided to focus on doing what made me happy, my life changed completely.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
I think the biggest challenge for women in any industry is that we think we aren’t enough. We think we aren’t smart enough, brave enough, pretty enough, thin enough, creative enough -- the list goes on and on. And because of that self-doubt, we convince ourselves that we don’t have a right to happiness, love, success, kindness or respect.
Just imagine what we can achieve if we believe in ourselves, if we know that we are enough. Nothing could stop us or get in our way.
Who are your role models?
Oh, I have so many! Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Alyssa Milano, India Arie, bloggers such as Brianne Burrowes, Lori Deschene, Amanda Oaks, Danielle LaPorte, Jenn Gibson … basically anyone who uses their life to be a force of good and follow their dreams, no matter what anyone else says.
My fiancé, who shows me, every single day, that there’s always something to celebrate.
And of course my parents. My mum, who always told me that if someone has a problem with me, it’s just that, their problem; and my Dad; who taught me that you create your own luck in life.
What are some of the rules you live by?
I love quotes, and I live by these three the most:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman
"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, "Eat, Pray, Love"
“The least and most of each of us can do is make sure we release something good into the Universe regularly.” -Oprah
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
If you have found what you are passionate about, what electrifies you, and what feels just as essential to your survival as the air you breathe, you must do it. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
You don’t need anyone else to believe in your dream for it to come true; you just need to believe in it yourself. And take action! Even if it’s just a little step each day, just do something that will get you closer to your dream.
And support your fellow women. The world needs more women who lift each other up, not bring each other down. We can achieve so much more if we work together.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I see myself still doing what I love -- writing, creating, traveling, growing, changing. I want Wild Sister Magazine to have grown into an amazing sisterhood that inspires and empowers women all over the world and uses its reach to help people and charities.
I would love to have a little tribe of children, a sweet little house, maybe a small farm with animal friends, and days filled with finger painting, giggling, cuddles and getting our hands dirty in our veggie patch! Oh, the sweetness!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Everything in life starts with how you see yourself. Your happiness, your success, your beauty, all depends on how you feel when you think about yourself or look at yourself in the mirror. Know that you are more than enough, and you will have more than enough.