Diana: Tell us a little bit about your story.
Briana: Several years ago if you would have asked me who I was, I would have probably said a mother, a wife, a blogger, a creator of big ideas, and a living room dancer. I had identified myself by the roles I filled and the things I did. I had a very strong identity. People knew me and quite frankly I knew myself as the girl who hosted crafting workshops, the girl who loved to take beautiful pictures of her kids, the girl who went on walks to the park with her family, the girl who owned a sewing business, the girl who did a lot of things. And boy did I think my life was full and crazy then! In 2009 my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive case of Multiple Sclerosis and not only did our world get turned upside down, but how I had identified myself was under direct attack. The dreams and plans my husband and I had made together and the goals I had set for myself seem to slip through my fingers. With each passing year his condition has declined, recently at an alarming rate. He suffers from a myriad of symptoms including extreme fatigue, memory loss, difficulty walking, confusion, as well as constant pain he describes in three types: lightning, stabbing, and lava flow. This man whose greatest desires in life included being a backyard soccer hero to his boys, sweeping his wife off of her feet, and serving the youth in his church, has become more and more limited in his capabilities to fulfill roles he holds so dear. Now he is unable to work and I have become the sole provider for our five children and my husband.
Diana: How have your trials affected the way you see yourself and life?
Briana: With so much of how I had identified myself being removed or altered in my life, I found myself lost and at times very resentful. For over a year those feelings darkened how I saw myself and my future. Through humbling and stretching experiences, my perspective began to realign with the hope and peace that I had been searching for. I began seeing myself in a new way, a different way. This was still me, just a different version of me, maybe an even truer me.
Diana: What do you do to stay positive all the time?
Briana: There are so many factors in how I am able to stay positive on a daily basis. Believe me there are days that staying in my bed or running away sounds nice, but thankfully my responsible adult, not my inner tantrum child wins out. My day is made up of little thoughts and little decisions. A thought enters my mind and the feelings come. “I’m so tired I can’t do this anymore. Why does it have to be me? Why can’t anything be easy? When am I going to learn?” And so on…
The thoughts and feelings come but I do not let them stay. Before they can fester into anger or resentment or depression, I try to chase them away with positive thoughts which creates positive emotions. “I can make it; my body and mind are strong. I am so lucky to have people helping me with my children daily. I did that one thing better today than yesterday. I am learning and growing.” Yes I do a lot of talking to myself, and a lot of times aloud, and even in desperate times I have yelled these positive thoughts aloud to try to drive them home to myself. The duration that I allow negative thoughts to dwell inside me directly
correlates to how I feel.
Diana: What have you learned about beauty throughout this journey?
Briana:I have learned through this journey that beauty comes in the unexpected. It comes in your son giving your daughter a piggyback ride after school. It comes in your husband sending you a text that he is proud of you. It comes in a pink snow-capped mountain on your drive home from work. It comes in the hand of your miracle baby reaching out to your cheek. It comes in those small moments that you almost miss if you are too busy to look.
Diana: What helps you see the beauty inside those around you?
Briana:I believe that I have been blessed with a gift to see the beauty in those around me. It comes easy to me and I am so grateful for that. When I look at someone I look for their strengths, the goodness that they bring. I wonder what is going on in their life and what they need. Most importantly I want them to feel what I see in them. That they are amazing! That they are doing great! And their story, what they are going through right now and what they have overcome, is worthy of inspiring others in their own lives. People are beautiful and extraordinary. This is my passion and the mission of my new podcast The LifeBeats Project, to help others to see more in themselves! And if they can see more in themselves, they will see more in others and the world around them. And imagine what a place of beauty our world would truly be if we could all do that.
ROSE COLORED LENSES is a Photography Series by Diana Putnam Photography focused on highlighting incredible individuals who exemplify positivity and a passion for life. These are people I consider particularly wonderful examples of what it means to look at life through rose-colored glasses, or in my case to capture life through rose-colored-lenses.