We all have cloudy days, but it is what you do with those cloudy days that defines who you are. Over the last few years, I have shared my biggest cloudy day, the unexpected news that my newborn daughter was in need of a liver transplant and put on life support as she waited for, received, and recovered from a lifesaving liver transplant at six weeks old. But as people praised my grace and bravery, I always felt like something was missing.
I finally figured it out. You have been missing. Your stories of overcoming those difficult days, no matter how big or small. I am excited to share a new series all about just that. Over the next year, I will be seeking out people who have defined who they are by overcoming the unexpected and moving mountains.
Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to Briana of LifeBeats Projects. She has been walking through a tremendous storm of life altering proportions with grace, kindness, and hope for a bright future. Last week she launched The LifeBeats Project podcast and it has already been included on iTunes' New & Noteworthy list, which is such an honor!
For this interview, I asked two simple questions: (1) How do you manage, cope, endure, and overcome your own cloudy days?; and (2) What advice do you have to offer to those struggling right now? Here is Briana's response:
Hello Cloudy Day Gray community! I’m happy to share a little bit of my cloudy days and parting rays with you today. I’m Briana Johnson from The LifeBeats Project, a podcast and blog inspired by a movement to change the way we see ourselves, to illuminate the extraordinary that already lies with us. The inspiration for this project actually came from a long line of cloudy days. My brilliant and hard-working husband was diagnosed with an aggressive debilitating case of Multiple Sclerosis which has robbed him of so much, and then my advisor, my rock, my safe haven, my Daddy passed away from an aggressive cancer Multiple Myeloma.
As I have traversed these cloudy days I have written about them on my personal blog Journey with Johnson in a very vulnerable and raw way. These blog posts became a source of clarity in a very emotionally cloudy time. Two beautiful and unexpected things resulted from sharing my cloudy days on my blog. First of all, through the writing of them, they became a sort of pep talk to myself, a reminder of all that was good, a spotlight on the perspective that brought me peace in troubled times. The second was that through my sharing of the real things and feelings that I was experiencing, people began to reach out to me and share what they were going through. I began to see the connecting power of vulnerability and how absolutely inspiring each person’s story is. From this began The LifeBeats Project, a movement rooted deeply in the connecting power of the telling of individual’s stories and the belief that the journey you are on right now, the things you have gone through and are going through, are worthy of inspiring others.
These two things: the process of writing down my story for clarity and connecting with a supportive group of people to see that I was not alone, in conjunction with an array of other powerful tools such as digging deep into my faith and making time for myself, has allowed me to climb through my cloudy days and see the parting rays of sunshine.
For those of you who are struggling right now and have a desire to feel the warmth of the sun once again, I would say start with these three suggestions:
- Be kind to yourself. You are an incredible person going through something difficult, and perhaps in a situation that you have never experienced before. You are doing your best and deserve grace from yourself in thoughts and words.
- Find a space to write down your experiences with the intention of channeling a feeling of gratitude and perspective. This may originally feel forced or inauthentic but I promise as you continue to write, you will begin to feel a wave of peace and hope as you see the goodness in yourself and your life. It does not need to be in a public forum; pick up a journal, or start typing in a word-processing app. Just start writing.
- Surround yourself with supportive people. During times of despair, it can feel natural to want to withdraw from others. Finding one happy person or a group of like-minded people that will not only listen to you but share their own personal experiences and how they have handled them, will uplift you and help you to feel less alone.