Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Cloudy Day Gray Interview

everybody has cloudy days
but it's what we do with them that determine the rain or shine
I am so happy to have been a part of the Cloudy Day Interviews by Kelly of Cloudy Day Gray
in which I share some particularly stormy and cloudy days
and how I have still seen those parting rays of sunshine
even in the rain and how you can too! 

hop on over to read the full interview on Cloudy Day Gray here

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Paparazzi Ready Altitude Summit Mini Party

Altitude Summit Mini Party

alright friends I am going to tell you a little story about how dreams come true
and then I will give you a tour of my dream
are you ready?

from a small idea came a life changing event
i was elated to have my party idea chosen by the top blogging conference Altitude Summit
to create on a full scale
a free ticket to this prestigious conference as payment
and a sponsorship from Maurice's for the party

with two rockin teammates by my side 
Emily of Modest Goddess and Cami of Worthington Ave
we brought my vision to life
we worked hard for over two months and had the help of an army of people

utah bloggers alt summit party hosts

the party title: Paparazzi Ready
the idea: guests enter our room at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah on a red carpet treated like a leading lady, with a Old Hollywood Glamor style backstage vanity for a vintage hair and makeup look to be pampered to get ready for her time in the limelight.

we were pampered by Rent the Runway who lent us these fabulous dresses for our special night
head over to Emily's post and Cami's post to learn more about their incredible service and how you can wear designer dresses on a budget

now let me take you on a tour
but first lets help set the mood with some Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Glenn Miller
click here for my Sinatra Spotify Playlist


my cinema lightbox

Attendees entered the VIP entrance on the red carpet, illuminated by My Cinema Lightbox, and lined with gold ropes and standards.

melissa calligraphy

our gorgeous welcome sign written by the Renaissance woman Melissa Esplin of Calligraphy.org

lets see some of our fun Alt friends strut their stuff down the red carpet

paparazzi ready alt summit party

pop and banter alt summit
Becca + Tiffany of Pop and Banter

alt summit mini party
alt summit mini party

Check out more red carpet and party photos taken by the incredible Diana of Diana Putnam Photography by clicking here.   See if you were captured walking down the runway or getting glammed up at the party.  Photos may only be used if they credit Diana.


The grandeur of the hotel lent itself perfectly to our styling.   We accented it with white chaise sofas, a jewelry clad portrait of Marilyn Monroe from The Painted Earth, standing mirrors, recovered bistro chairs, and can we talk about these vanities?!

These vanities were the foundation piece of my vision.  I knew exactly what I wanted them to look like and as all of our effort came together, they shined and owned that room.
We raided every craft store in a 45 minute radius to get clearance Christmas ornaments.  The dedicated Cami frosted each globe...twice!  My gracious and mastermind in-laws conceived the design so that they would hold up and not fall over on someone during the party.  Crucial!
Life-saving friends drilled, hot glued, attached Christmas lights, and assembled these beautiful beasts in the room.  Emily and I had quite the adventure in the freight elevators getting them upstairs.
Aren't they just perfect?!

grand america alt summit
diy hollywood vanities
diy hollywood vanities

Marilyn gave her nod of approval for the party.  Thank you to Planted Earth Antique Store for lending us this iconic lady adorned with vintage jewels. 
my cinema lightbox


One set of five vanities housed 5 hairdressers and the other side 5 make-up artists.  Each attendee was able to choose from various vintage hair and make-up selections featured on these beautifully printed 'menus' from Pro Digital Prints  

pro digital photos vintage looks
pro digital photos vintage looks
pro digital photos vintage hair looks

They then sat in an antique bistro chair and had their hair styled by one of four stylists from H2 BlowDry Bar or Brittany from Tanglz Hair and Makeup

utah hair stylist
utah vintage hair stylistglamour alt summit

After hair they made their way over to the second set of vanities to get their make up down by one of our five fabulous makeup artists using makeup and supplies graciously provided by Sephora.  They are the reason we were able to provide our attendees with so much.  They even offered up their lead makeup artist to assist.  These girls worked hard all evening to make everyone look glamorous. 
Pretty dreamy right?

Natasha: @toshifire
Sephora alt summit
utah make up artists
utah make up artists MUAs
vintage makeup
vanities makeup artists utah
vanities makeup artists utah


This had to be my very favorite part of the evening.  Throughout the night the hostesses and I, along with some of our friends, dressed up as vintage paparazzi made possible by trench coats and fedoras provided by Hale Centre Theatre Costume Rentals.  We hid and then swarmed unsuspecting 'celebrities' as they entered the party on the read carpet!

red carpet alt summit
interview alt summit

We swarmed, screamed, laughed, and interviewed them with questions about their latest role or break-up.  We took 'photos' with my vintage camera collection.   The costumes were the perfect touch and the stars were so surprised.  Some ready to take their turn in the limelight.

celebrities alt summit vintage camera
celebrities alt summit vintage camera

leading lady
leading lady

cyndie spiegel alt summit
cyndie spiegel alt summit

Rachel alt summit
Rachel alt summit

Here is a fun video of our Paparazzi Swarm captured by one of our friends 
Jacquelinne of The Baby Cubby


Melissa of SaltyBooth and Cami & Emily's Dad worked their lighting magic to get the iconic Hollywood glamour shot in front of our gold sequin backdrop.  Maeberry Vintage lent these luxurious vintage furs for the attendees to truly step into the role of leading lady.  
Attendees were ready for their album cover or to accept their Academy Award.  Aren't these absolutely epic?

saltybooth alt summit mini party
utah makeup artists
our fabulous make-up artists in full force

naptime reader alt summit
lifebeats project alt summit briana johnson
rhonda alt summit
modest goddess alt summit

Flip through below to see some more fabulous Salty Booth photos!  We were so grateful to Lindsey of La Pionera for helping with the booth.  Check out her incredible artisan handbags here.

A video posted by Cami Hall (@worthington_ave) on     
A video posted by Cami Hall (@worthington_ave) on

This party was a party of glamour and pampering.  We hope everyone that attended felt like a star and the leading lady of their lives!  I know I had an absolute blast creating it alongside my amazing teammates.  They truly made it the best experience possible.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped us make this party possible.  And a huge thank you to the Altitude Summit for this opportunity.  As you can see below in the credits that this party was showered with help.  Take a minute and check out our contributors and friends' pages to see them shine!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

the time has come: a wheelchair for Mike

the time has come
the doctors said it would be twenty
but its been six
Mike needs a wheelchair

it is pretty crazy how things have progressed so quickly in such a short period of time
and i don’t just mean the progression of Mike’s Multiple Sclerosis
i’m talking about Mike and I’s view on things

when Mike was first diagnosed I tried to will my will onto him
try this
read this
do this
don’t do this
all in the name of love of course
i’m a fixer and it has been rather torturous not to be able to ‘fix’ this
Mike’s will is his own and it took me awhile to understand that
and to see that this strong will of his would in fact be a large reason he would thrive the way he has amidst such trial

he needed to come to decisions on his own
and i have learned how to give my input without guilting him into following it
we have gone through stages of ‘fixes’
natural remedies
physical therapy
and then alongside these have been the stages of his physical decline where i wanted him to accept help
from others
from a cane
from a walker
from a wheelchair
but he needed to come to terms with things on his own time
some of which he still refuses
and i have had to accept it at varying times along the way

i had to accept that he would crawl up stairs instead of asking for help or allowing me to move our TV downstairs
i had to accept that he would cook as long as he could using a chair sometimes to sit on and sometimes as a stabilizer behind him for support and balance
because he knew that cooking was my number one stress and he loved to do it
i had to accept that he would sweep the kitchen floor while cries of pain would inadvertently escape his lips
i have had to accept so many things that i saw as hurting him 
but he saw as retaining his purpose, his pride, his worth, his display of love, his ability to be a father and husband
he is the very best of men
all who know him know this

so when friends reached out to us to start a campaign to help us get a wheelchair 
a wheelchair accessible vehicle
and a wheelchair friendly home
i knew it wasn’t up to me
it was up to him to decide to accept the help or not
its tough being in a position of such need when your heart cries out to just give to others
but we have learned that through accepting help,
although painfully humbling at times,
has brought us lasting friendships and breathing room just when it was needed most
we are so grateful for the human desire to lift one another
we have felt it from each of you
your kindness sustains us

upon finally agreeing to this fundraiser after many ‘no’s
the idea of a wheelchair really sunk in
a wheelchair
isn’t that something so confining, so restrictive
doesn’t that mean all hope is lost
Mike and I have come to see a wheelchair as just the opposite
freedom for Mike to reserve his energy for other activities instead of painfully walking with concentrated effort to move each foot
freedom to get outside of our house for our sons’ sports games
freedom from falling frequently

it has taken us a long time to wrap our mind around this view of a wheelchair

with the hope this campaign has brought
Mike had a wheelchair rep visit our home with a snazzy model to test drive that would give him all the support he would need
one that will be ready for his continued decline as years progress

i have to admit as Mike texted me a photo and an accompanying video of him in the wheelchair
i was not prepared for what i saw
although my intellect told me that a wheelchair would bring freedom
this image hit me like a ton of bricks and i walked outside my work to cry in private
how could we be here already
how could this be our reality
how could this man who would run to the ends of the earth to help someone else
be destined for this

forgive me as these emotions are still fresh
my intellect will catch up to them and will speak reason to bring me around again soon

the reality is here
whether i am ready or not
and with your help we can set Mike free

thank you to those who have contributed already
named or anonymous
your generosity and kindness are making a real impact on our life
we love you all

to find out more about Mike’s story and our journey with Multiple Sclerosis check out these posts here

to find our more about the campaign ‘Go Big Because its Mike’ click here or go straight to the Fundly page here

Sunday, November 29, 2015

a new home: the start of a new chapter

i have never been more thankful for a hole and a pile of dirt in my life
and with 3 boys there have been plenty to go around 

after one miracle after another and another 
we will be able to build a home 
one designed with mike's current and future needs in mind
two years ago when we applied for Disability I never would have guessed we would be blessed with this miracle 
when we were denied Disability after a year i wondered how we would make it and why this was happening 
i am thrilled to say that the timing of finally being approved for Disability set into motion a series of unforeseen miracles that will now allow us to have a place of our own  

after moving 15 times we will finally be able to put down roots 
in a home where Mike and our children will thrive and feel secure
no more questions from them of when we are moving next

generally the kids are happy to move
with the exception of one teen pictured
the size of our yard is doing much to persuade them that leaving their friends one more time will be worth it

i am thrilled that Mike will have the accommodations he will need to live life with more ease
and have all of the things he needs on one level
especially since the need for a wheelchair has come

for me i will be nine miles from work
a comfort and a convenience and peace of mind
it won't hurt that i will get to select fun things like paint colors and lighting fixtures either

i think back to those moments of wondering why we were being denied the blessings that in my mind seemed to have not come at a better time
how grateful i am that there is one that can see more than i
i think questioning the timing of things will be a lifelong obstacle for me
but more and more i am beginning to trust God and his timing 
oh there's still the woes in the midst of the storm
but evidences of past aid find their way into my mind and heart more often
delivering that desired calmness which smooths over my eruptions of despair or panic more quickly 
sometimes these episodes come when I think of our future and what that means for Mike's health and our family
and although the circumstances of our trials are not being removed 
the Lord shows us time and time again that he is moving mountains for us so that the climb we are making carrying our load feels possible  
and indeed there are times when He walks the trails beside us, carrying it himself

we have been so grateful to so many of you who answered my call from my last post to come and visit Mike or send him a video or note
our home has been filled with visitors 
and our mailbox and inbox have been filled with messages
it has brought Mike so much joy
and tears to my face
our new home will need to echo your warmth so consider this an official invitation to our new home whenever it's finished
we'll sit on the back porch and sip some lemonade

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

progressing with multiple sclerosis: an update on Mike

living with multiple sclerosis as a father and husband

we are not meant to carry things alone

at times when this journey feels so lonely
when i keep quiet to avoid being the heaviness in the conversation
when one more thing just makes me feels like i will shatter from the pressure
when i ache watching my husband suffer
at these times without fail i have not had to carry on alone

you have been there
in a text
in a phone call
in a comment
in a song
with a load of folded laundry
with a bucket of cleaner
with a meal
with your car keys in hand

and because you have been there
i know He has been there
aware of my sorrows
reaching out to let me know
i see you Briana
i see your husband
i see your children
and i will not leave you alone
the weight you all carry may seem heavy
but i will send you people to help you carry it
for you are not meant to carry it alone

this week we received difficult news regarding Mike's health
the disease has accelerated from one type of MS to another
from relapsing/remitting to progressive
from an ebb and flow of symptoms to a constant decline
and an aggressive one at that

there is no specific medication for progressive MS at this time
but there is hope for one in 2017
there is however a medication not designed for MS that has shown some success that we will be lobbying with our insurance to try
we would love your prayers and positive thoughts as we advance through this approval process both to be able to try the medication and for financial assistance to do so
as it is very expensive

as you can imagine this news is daunting
i have watched with great alarm as Mike's health has declined rapidly over the past 3-4 months
and yet his spirit remains determined to be happy
just this monday on our special family night
he implemented the Positivity Project
in which he encouraged us all to channel our perspective and the words we use to demonstrate positivity

the struggle for Mike to be himself is real
the physical and cognitive limitations take a toll on him
and take him away from us for a time
but he comes back to us
and you know when he feels like himself in a big way
when he has visitors
so if you have some time
if you have been blessed by Mike in any way
i ask for you to come visit him
he is homebound almost exclusively
and while i am at work
the battle is real for him to be present while he is alone
come laugh with him
renew a friendship
strike up a friendship
he's the greatest man i know
and he needs us right now
he needs us to help him remember who he is
how brave he is
how witty he is
how insightful he is
how faithful he is

if you live far away
give him a call
do Facetime
send him a text
jump on a plane to come visit
we've got a guest bed ready for you

we thank you for your kindness
we thank you for your prayers
they sustain us
and we feel them
for we know that when you have been there
God has been there

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The LifeBeats Project

friends i am so grateful that you have stuck around for this ride
that of the journey of transition and finding happiness
as we have adjusted to living with Mike's multiple sclerosis 
as well as my pursuit to provide for our family in a way that will allow me to preserve our family lifestyle as much as possible

i am so grateful for all the things that have come into my life that have provided me 
with learning opportunities and communities of support
and have aided in refining my path towards financial self sufficiency through pursuing my passions

the next stepping stone in this journey comes with much anticipation and joy
as it has so much to do with you
on the wise urgings of my husband who has told me to 'just start'
as opposed to my natural tendency to want to know everything from the beginning to the end
i have 'just started'
and am now able to share the beginnings of this incredible project with you

it is with much excitement and a truckload of butterflies swarming my stomach
that i present to you

The LifeBeats Project is a podcast and blog dedicated to Pursuing the Art of Living Extraordinarily

its a celebration of the extraordinary that already lies within you and
a practice devoted to helping you achieve a breakthrough
to illuminate more of it in yourself
and the world around you

i will be interviewing everyday people like you and me
and sharing their inspiring stories of extraordinary living

as well as expert guests who will share with us practical and applicable steps we can take to help us better our lives and enrich those relationships around us

Listen to my 10 minute introductory podcast over at www.thelifebeatsproject.com 
that will share more about how my passion was sparked and ignited
as well as what you can expect from upcoming episodes

be sure to subscribe with your email address to receive notification of when my first podcast will be released
beat alongside of me in all the beginning stages on instagram @lifebeatsproject

and of course I would love to hear from you
my longtime friends
please share with me your thoughts by commenting below or emailing me at briana@thelifebeatsproject.com
and if you would like to share your story with me
or someone else's story who has inspired you
please share it with me at the above email address as well

thank you for your continued support 
the impact your encouragement and confidence in me has provided
has helped carry me through this rollercoaster journey


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