The Power of a Smile: In Celebration of the Woman I am

It was a Friday evening. My children and I were walking down a busy city street to get something for dinner. I’d just come straight from work, so wasn’t especially ‘made up’ to go out; just relaxed and feeling a little tired from a busy week.

As I walked along I noticed a lady pushing a pram coming towards me.

Her head was hung low and she looked very despondent. I kept my gaze on her and began to smile; very soon she raised her head and we locked eyes. I broadened my smile and felt I was beaming from every pore in me. I did not do what I sometimes can do and make it a fleeting smile – I continued to hold the lady in my gaze and felt I was almost having a conversation with her – it felt amazing. Her face responded immediately and lit up in a glorious smile too – her whole face and body seemed to transform.

This moment seemed to last an eternity as we continued to walk towards each other, locked in each other’s gaze.

As we got closer she was now also beaming and as we passed she said “You look so pretty!”

In that split second as she said this, my whole body knew that she was not remarking on my outer physical appearance which we can tend to associate with beauty. The ‘pretty’ she was referring to was the beauty of who I am, the essence which was emanating from INSIDE of me. But more than this, in the moment she connected to my inner beauty, she had felt inspired to connect to her own inner true beauty which in that same moment she radiated out to me.

And all in a smile!

On reflection, this moment in time led me to deeply appreciate and celebrate my journey and where I have come from.

A few years ago, I would not have found it so possible to be confidently walking down a street, genuinely connecting to myself and knowing who I am in my true beauty. This feeling rocks – it is not a fleeting moment of feeling good because you are wearing something, or you’ve heard a song which picks you up. No, this feeling is something which is carried with me all the time because it is ME – my uniqueness, my expression, my essence. All those years searching for my true expression and what that really means and all I had to do was look inside.

Sound simple?!

Well it wasn’t because not only was I Queen of Complication, I was also a normal young woman growing up in a Western society surrounded by ideals and beliefs of what being a woman and true beauty is. Looking back, I can see how easy it was to adopt these definitions and ideas of myself and who I was. I was obsessed with 1980’s pop bands and thought that being famous could bring a person to a happiness of who they really are – heck they looked so happy and that they had it all! But this only supported my idea that who I essentially was, was never good enough and that in order to be a woman in the world I had to take on the looks and behaviours of these role models to feel complete and discover who I am.

‘Who I am’ – do you know the feeling I’m trying to describe here? It is a search, an emptiness, a natural compelling to fill the gap of something we know is missing, a deep desire to be sexy, to express, to be confident – everyone else seemed to have it but me. Sometimes I would see a woman who emanated who I felt I really was or wanted to be like, so I would buy clothes she wore. But when I wore them it did not even come close to me feeling who I was – I simply had wasted my money and was left with the same empty yearning to discover who I really was. I experienced these feelings of emptiness and searching for most of my life.

Gina Dunlop seeking without

This search to find and express me always had me looking for something on the outside to bring it – be it that dress, that song, or seeking acceptance, love and recognition. However, the song, the dress, the recognition were always only fleeting and I always found myself returning to that same empty feeling.

This emptiness and feeling I was never good enough contributed to chronically low self-esteem, deep depression and poor self-confidence. I slowly became somehow convinced that this version of me was ME.

These ideas of myself had me imprisoned for years.

Thankfully, at some point I reached a rock bottom, and started to search for support from the agony and confusion of self-loathing. From this support I was able to come to the realization I am not any of these things.

I was presented with the understanding that I began this blog with – that my uniqueness, my essence IS my true expression and this expression which I had spent years searching for had been sitting pulsing inside me all along.

It was simply ME – my essence, I was a deeply beautiful, nurturing, caring and amazing woman.

Can you imagine the elation of losing those nagging sensations of not feeling good enough?

The joy of knowing who I was, was it, the feeling I’d been searching for, for years.  I had to do nothing – just be.

To develop this relationship with this essence and live with a true confidence of who I am feels like a miracle! I feel assured, natural and accepting; even my moments of feeling unsure are moments simply to celebrate my fragility and vulnerability which simply further confirms an expression of who I am as a woman.

And now I am living this way, I am observing a second miracle, which is the understanding that to simply live this way in my true confidence has the potential to inspire others to unlock their inner beauty and provide the possibility to express it too – just like the example with the smile.

Gina Dunlop and her Smile
Gina Dunlop in her true confidence

My inspiration came by attending presentations run by Esoteric Women’s Health, initiated by Natalie Benhayon. Observing how these presenters were living gave me the inspiration to know I can also attain this level of self-confidence and connection to my inner beauty. Engaging with some simple tools has supported me to learn how to deeply honour and take true care of myself. An awesome example of this was extending my ‘me time’ in the morning to get ready from 15 minutes to two hours – yes I spend two hours with myself in the morning. Building this into my day has changed my life; I believe I am worth this time. This is huge if you really think about it.

The experience of sharing a smile with the beautiful lady brought me many things. It deepened my appreciation of myself and gave me a ‘whoop’, ‘whoop’ moment of celebration of how far I have come; it also brought me a beautiful understanding of the power that expressing ourselves naturally from who we are provides people the opportunity to connect to the spark of their natural selves and thus get to feel how great they really are.

All of this has in turn deepened my responsibility to live this way because every human on this planet deserves the equal opportunity to connect to the understanding that who they are is IT and is their absolute beauty.

I desire to be living in a world which supports this amazing domino effect – I share my true beauty for you to be inspired and connect to your true  beauty if you so choose, you then share yours to inspire another if they so choose – and so on and so forth.  Sooner or later, we’ll all get there. Every small gesture makes a huge difference – just a smile can change a person’s life.

by Gina Dunlop, Australia

You might also Enjoy:

Adrienne Hutchins invites debate about what really lies at the heart of comparison and competition between women – could it say more about our relationship with ourselves.

Fiona Lotherington explores the true potential for women to empower and inspire one another through appreciation and expressing the beauty in each other.

Unimed Living explains how we disconnect and delay living from our true essence

598 thoughts on “The Power of a Smile: In Celebration of the Woman I am

  1. Gina this is such a beautiful sharing, thank you. The power of who we each are when we are able to live and express that, and inspire others to reconnect within as well. “This emptiness and feeling I was never good enough contributed to chronically low self-esteem, deep depression and poor self-confidence. I slowly became somehow convinced that this version of me was ME.” I had this same realisation myself recently, I felt quite astonished to realise that this version of myself that I thought was me was not me at all. I am still discarding some of that as it comes back in like a familiar coat for me to wear, but it is not the true spark within at all. Gorgeous expression and photo’s, thank you Gina.

  2. Wow GIna, what a transformation. I remember reading this blog a few years ago. When I saw the difference in the pictures, I saw the difference in weight and how exhausted you were. But now, having developed a stronger connection with myself as a woman, I see the difference so, so clearly – there’s a depth in your eyes, there’s real joy in your smile. The way we see things is so dependent on our own level of awareness – it’s very interesting.

    1. Absolutely, the more comfortable we become with our own beauty the more we let it shine & show on the outside.

  3. “I desire to be living in a world which supports this amazing domino effect .” Me too Gina. How we live reflects out to others and they can then choose to be inspired and offer the same to others. I have noticed when driving when I offer a space to an incoming car off a side street they will often do the same down the line.

  4. “These ideas of myself had me imprisoned for years.” we often have no idea how much our own thoughts are imprisoning us. We in many cases are our own worse enemy until we realise we are the creators of our life.

  5. ‘…. that who they are is IT and is their absolute beauty’ – to live in a way which inspires others to live this for themselves, that’s how we all support each other to be who we truly are, and to live that beauty.

  6. The power of connection cannot be under estimated. We see each other as strangers then all it takes to break that is a moment of connection.

  7. When we let go of the ‘me’ and ‘I’ and feel our essence then when we meet another it is our essence that is met in each other and not anyone’s ‘me’ or ‘I’.

  8. There are so many moments in life where are just passing each other by and we don’t connect with each other and if we do it is often just superficial and a fleeting smile. Even though I love to connect with people, by day lifts up when I share a true smile with someone and so it does begs te question why we don’t choose to have this every day.

  9. The natural ability to move with grace, and meet others with a sparkle in our eyes is dying out. We rush to be the independent women who can do anything on their own, living in constant protection of everyone around us but in truth crushing everything on the inside. If we open to others, this weight falls off of our shoulders and the world really does not seem so bad.

    1. The moment when we recognise the same beauty and essence in another, there is a moment of joy. Imagine living open to others in this way all the time.

  10. It really is simple, live in our full amazingness, and we will naturally inspire others, ‘And now I am living this way, I am observing a second miracle, which is the understanding that to simply live this way in my true confidence has the potential to inspire others to unlock their inner beauty’.

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