Please help spread the good news of The 444 Project by making this your Facebook Cover Page!!
So last time I posted I declared that I had a pending announcement, which did not include getting married :) Well… after a difficult past 3 months of trying to sort out the details, all the while, trying to weather the travails of Bipolar, as well as the loss of my dear cousin and best friend, Season Joy Barnett… I have finally won the ground, and procured the opportunity (with the help of my friends and family), to announce my newest endeavor! So in short… AS OF MAY 6, 2014, WE WILL BE HEADED TO ROME, ITALY, WHERE WE WILL ACCOMPLISH THE 444 PROJECT ONCE AGAIN!! (Scroll down to the bottom of this post to read the whole story, and better understand the purpose and creation of The 444 Project)
So come May 6, in addition to my own personal mission statement which is:
“To be the girl who brings light to others through her own darkness”…
We will strive to carry out the new project’s mission statement:
“To bring JOY to others”
While still of course working to prove my original 3 point thesis from the first 444 Project: ***(the 3rd point slightly revised to better suit the new project)
1. Everyone has a story to tell… (In Italian: Tutti quanti hanno una storia da raccontare)
2. There is still goodness alive and well in the world today… (In Italian: C’è ancora tanta bontà e generosità nel mondo di oggi)
3. *** There is always a reason for JOY!… (In Italian: C’è sempre una ragione per la GIOIA!)
By way of the 3 major differences from the first 444 Project:
1. Obviously rather than the states, it will be in Europe!
2. If you’ve noticed, I’ve been referencing the efforts behind the project as “WE”… Because this time, I will have the great assistance and blessing of being accompanied by one of my best friends, Kelly Allen!!… (This is basically the best thing ever, Kelly is pretty much one of the most stellar girls alive. If it weren’t for her, I would NOT have the privilege to embark on this new project!)
Front side of our Advertising Cards! Let us know if you’d like some!
Back side of our Advertising Cards! Seriously! Let us know if you’d like some!
…AS FOR THE BEAUTIFUL AND DEFINING BASIS OF THIS NEW PROJECT…
3. Instead of asking everyone “What gets YOU out of bed each day?”… In honor of the life and legacy of my beloved cousin, Season Joy… We will be asking all of Europe the ultimate question, “What brings you JOY?”
The Project Details:
As you read on you will discover just how difficult these past few months have been, for an assortment of reasons. Yet we are committed to finish this project regardless of any potential vicissitudes or possible obstacles we may incur. But the only way we will manage to keep this promise, depends on the support from ALL OF YOU!!!
So for those wanting/willing to support and help execute this new project, here is what you could do!!:
You Can Help By:
1. First and foremost, help us spread the word. The reason being, not only do I firmly believe this project can bless the lives of others, but it blesses my life as I receive emotional support from all of you. (That is a tremendous understatement…. (You have no idea what joy it brings to spot 444 project decals throughout town, or receive emails from all of you, and not to mention how much I LOVE when people send me (or post) pictures of 444′s they come upon throughout their everyday life!!! etc.)) Plus with more followers, come more opportunities, giving us greater latitude. You can help us by telling your friends and family, but especially through utilizing ALL social media: (All of my social media information can be found at the top of my blog, under the tab: Contact Me! …as well as clicking on the social media icons on the side of my blog)
…Specifically for Social Media:
***The Most simple, and perhaps most effective thing you can do on Facebook… is make the (GREEN) picture at the top of this post, your Facebook Cover Page …(For as long as you’re willing to do so)… We figure the more people that do this, the more familiar and acquainted others will become with both the name of the project, as well as the familiarity of the project’s logo!!
*** “Like” The 444 Project Facebook page: (As well as forwarding it on to your friends!) https://www.facebook.com/the444project
*** Follow The 444 Project on Instagram:
@the444project (#the444project) http://instagram.com/the444project
*** Post the following picture on your Instagram, and share about The 444 Project (Be sure and tag us!)
Please help spread the good news of The 444 Project by posting this picture on your Instagram!! Be sure and tag us!! @the444project #the444project
*** Email Us: We are going to try and spotlight (at least 1) person a day on The 444 Project Instagram… (as well as The 444 Project Page!). We want YOU to tell us what brings YOU joy!! So if you would like to participate, please email us (or Facebook message us)… at email@example.com … Send us a picture of yourself, as well as a short description of what brings YOU joy!
*** Share the blog: (This is super critical to the Project’s success!!) Obviously having readers is HUGE. So please spread the word, and forward the link!!
*** If you have a blog of your own, please share my button on your blog! (It can be found on the upper right side of my blog, (“#the444project”))
*** Subscribe by email to the blog! (You can do so on the right side of the blog, down a little ways where it says “subscribe by email!”)
***Subscribe/follow all of our other Social Media Links : (Again, all links can be found at the top of my blog, under the tab: Contact Me! …As well as clicking on the social media icons on the side of my blog)
…Another helpful advertising effort: Sport a 444 project decal for your car:
***simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and send me your address! It’s completely free!!
The 444 Project Decal!
2. Secondly, help with our assortment of varyingTo-Do’s: We have all sorts of items on our To-Do list, before we leave for Italy May 6! So if you’re willing to help in general, please email me at (email@example.com)… and perhaps you could meet up with us and join our little committee that we have instituted.
3. Third(ly?), many of you have asked about contributing financially. So after extensive discussion with my mom, we decided to not advertise donations at all. We were soooooo overwhelmed with all of the gracious and generous donations from the last project… that we absolutely cannot ask that of all of you once again. It was tacky to begin with, and it’d be even more tacky and humiliating to do it again. I am just going to go forward in faith that somehow the Lord will provide… after all I’ve gotten this far. I did decide that I will still keep up on the blog, the donation link to Paypal: (You can find the link by clicking on the picture of the piggy on the right side of the blog… it is connected to The 444 Project Paypal Account)
4. Last of all… just keep being amazing. I would not be where I am today (Wherever that is… at least not dead:) if it wasn’t for ALL of you. Each and every one of you have inspired greatness. I will be honest in admitting that I have NO idea how this will all be accomplished. The Bipolar junk alone has been out of control. I haven’t slept in 6 -8 days (Going for the record… Although I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that earlier today, I did get a good 4 hour nap!)… My point being, obviously you can all imagine how overwhelming and discouraging it is (especially now), when I’m confined to bed nearly every day. All I can think as I lay there feeling broken, is just how much I should be doing! So for all of you who have continued to love me in spite of my rampant weaknesses and support me with your loving friendship… thank you. I love you.
My Story/Creation of The 444 Project:
(The following essay is quite mundane, lacking any real vigor. Yet I felt compelled to write up something straightforward, attempting to simplify my story as best I can… in an effort to provide any new followers, with my basic story outline. You can conclude that it was just as boring to write, as it probably is to read… I just needed to get this all out of the way!)…
I am the Bipolar girl, who has undergone what can easily be perceived as 3 major failures: withdrawing from college, breaking off an engagement, and what served to be most discouraging… receiving a mission call, but just 1 week before departure, having to withdraw due to the debilitating bondage of Bipolar. It was on March 28, 2012, I was initially supposed to leave for my church mission, and enter the Mission Training Center in Salt Lake, Utah. However, as previously stated, because of the many ailments and difficulties that often accompany Bipolar, I was unable to serve that mission. Needless to say, I was devastated. However, I discovered very quickly that I had a decision to make. I could either revel in personal sorrow and disappointment, or I could move forward, creating a mission of my own. So with the empowering combination of a readjusted perspective, as well as a monumental paradigm shift in mentality, I came to recognize that my inability to serve the conventional church mission did NOT automatically constitute the concession of progress. But rather, with unfeigned submission to my Heavenly Father’s will, accompanied by my commitment to serve others, (even at the risk of self-exploitation- i.e. addressing so candidly, Bipolar…a choice that soon lead to the formulation of the The 444 Project), I in turn, possessed the potential to transcend far above my own extremities and mortal weaknesses. (And to note, “transcend far above” does NOT denote eliminating all together, my physical/mental struggles from my life… the reality is, those life battles are here to stay… yet I learned (am learning) to work around them!). I quickly understood that even under the most disheartening of circumstances, I could still help others.
So 8 months later following the time I was to originally report to the MTC, I decided to do what I initially projected would result in social suicide. After keeping a blog for a few years, upon divine inspiration, I was inspired to candidly address one of my deepest, darkest realities: Bipolar. Prior to this prompting, I had never so much as mentioned Depression or Bipolar on the blog… the thought of giving any amount of disclosure regarding my wrestle with such vile darkness, absolutely horrified me. However, when the prompting manifested itself, I knew it was from God. So in faith, with the unconditional love and endorsement from my goodly parents… though admittedly reticent for fear of the public’s reception… a great reservation shared by both my parents and me… I soon released the infamous post: a brutally raw, personal narrative consisting of the contesting perils and pernicious toils of Bipolar. The public’s reaction? Well to be summarized… Following my “confessions” of life with Bipolar, I was immediately met with the most compassionate and gracious reception from others. I was richly blessed to receive an outpouring of love and support, extended by way of hundreds of emails, messages, and texts… (sent from friends, family and strangers alike). As one might assume following such a post, the mass of messages sent, were in regards to people’s own personal bouts with mental illness. Yet what proved to be most unanticipated, was the myriad of messages received from people disclosing with me their personal battles far different from mine: battles that in no way pertained to mental illness. So even though there existed readers unable to relate specifically to the intricate details surrounding my experience with mental illness… still communicated by the resounding tone of my post, was the generalized hope in a brighter tomorrow. The redeeming hope I personally enlisted in, was my hope in Jesus Christ and His Infinite Atonement. Yet I came to learn that hope in anything was so fundamentally essential to mortality, that throughout the continuum of time, despite man’s diversifying gradation inclusive of even the most reprehensible offenses available to humanity, this constant and remedial source of peace has remained omniscient and sufficient for all. It was this same hope in something greater, and my desire to share it with others (in both secular and religious regard), that I soon began to lay the groundwork for The 444 Project. (The significance of 444 being our family scripture: Alma 44:4… Which series of sacred numbers, eventually shaped my objective to attain 444 interviews with perfect strangers all throughout the country.)
Alma 44:4- Our Family Scripture!
So on March 28, 2013, exactly 1 year after the anniversary of when I was to begin my conventional church mission, I instead departed for my new mission: The 444 Project. A mission designed to neither ignore my limitations, nor surrender to my limitations, but instead rechannel my energy into accepting my circumstances, while fostering my strengths. With both emotional as well as financial support from people all over, I soon departed for The 444 Project. In doing so, I left standing in the driveway, my loving (weeping) parents, my friends and family (both immediate and extended… Season in particular), and the comfort of home, amidst many other amenities. But I did NOT leave behind my darkness. Yet determined to change the world, I traveled across the US, living out of my car, sleeping at truck stops, and all along the way, interviewing perfect strangers… all the while relying solely upon the kindness of strangers. And in return, as previously stated, I was determined to be the girl who brings light to others, through her own darkness… and I was to accomplish this by proving my 3 point thesis:
1. Everyone has a story to tell
2. Goodness is still alive and well in the world today
3. Everyone has a reason to get out of bed each day
In 100 days I did just that as I drove from sea to shining sea, visiting over 30 states, acquiring 444 interviews from perfect strangers, asking them about their lives, their up-bringing, and their greatest aspirations. Then at the close of each interview I always concluded with the ultimate question… “What gets YOU out of bed each day?”… the significance of this question being, I DON’T get out of bed each day, and I know that I am not alone. So I wanted to help prove to not just myself, but to everyone (utilizing the 444 interviews from strangers from all over the world… representing all of mankind) that… THERE IS ALWAYS A REASON TO GET OUT OF BED EACH DAY!!
I had committed to my readers that upon returning home, I would write a book on my experiences. However once I was home, with each attempt to sit down and write I encountered a great stupor of thought, accompanied by a clouded mind. I simply was unable to write my book. Then in November of 2013, after an article was published on The 444 Project by the Deseret News (you can read it HERE)… I then received once again, an influx of even more emails from strangers all across the world, sharing their lives with me. But there was 1 email in particular that would soon change my life.
The day after the article was released I received a very special email from a man in Italy. Gabriel Funaro, a heaven-sent angel, a man of God. After sharing details of his life and personal travails, he then extended to me the invitation to replicate The 444 Project. The major difference being, this time The 444 Project would take place in Europe; primarily Italy. This new Italian friend went on to explain that the unemployment and suicide rates in Italy, among other disheartening statistics, had never before been higher. The people of Italy needed a message of hope more than ever.
Upon receiving this email, I initially felt great skepticism with no trace of enthusiasm. I was/am still inundated with the harrowing darkness, derivative of my Bipolar. The first 444 Project, though a wonderful experience, was terribly difficult. There were days on end that I never even left my trunk (Yup, I slept in my trunk like a true champion… back seat by day, master bedroom by night). So to even consider the possibility of venturing out on a new project, much less in a different country… proved to be quite disconcerting. However, after approaching my parents as well as one of my best friends Kelly Allen, (having no real expectation of a positive reception from either of them), I was greatly surprised by the level of enthusiasm that both parties manifested upon hearing this new opportunity. It was their vigorous endorsement that quickly curbed my central source of hesitation. And although I still had not yet officially conceded, offering up a definitive answer, I did vow to give the idea extensive consideration, committing to make a decision by the end of the year.
Not long after that invitation to Italy, on December 23, 2013, my entire world changed. My cousin, best friend, and sister, Season Joy Barnett, just 9 months older than me, unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind a husband, a 2 year old son, and her precious newborn daughter, only 7 days old. Not only was Season a shining example in my life, but was 1 of my greatest advocates and supporters of my first 444 Project. Yet now, I would no longer have her in mortality, to strengthen me and buoy me up. Needless to say, my desire to pursue the new Italian endeavor, (which would require me to leave behind my family during this difficult time), lost any remaining fervor. Oh yes, safe to say I was quickly devoid any ambition to pursue the new project. Yet the intriguing part? Even amidst this tempestuous storm that violently brewed (and continues to rage), deep within the seating of my soul, there began to slowly develop a discernable part of me unable to completely dismiss the possibility of this project. I could not shake the feeling that just maybe this was the path in which I was being inspired to take. A path orchestrated not only by grand design of a loving Heavenly Father, but also architected by my ministering angel, Season.
Five days later on December 28, 2013, the day of Season’s funeral, I happened to be standing in line at her funeral luncheon when I received a text from my friend Kelly. She explained that because of rising plane ticket prices, right then and there I had to decide whether or not I was going to commit to the new 444 Project. Upon reading that text, the pressure and fears of such a decision, while accompanied by the already employed anguish from losing Season, galvanized once again the all-too-familiar inner chaos. I was left staring down the barrel of a hard reality. Yet I could still not escape the thoughts emitting from the cavern of my heart, that perhaps it was due time to again, vanquish my fears and conquer my doubt. So as I continued to grapple with uncertainty, housing an oppressive absence of confidence, in an earnest plea for guidance, I turned to my wise and loving mother for help. The indelible response that soon followed was the very charge that began to slowly unlock my shackled faith.
The sacred words spoken by my faithful mother that would soon revolutionize my life and forever resonate with me were, “Josie, book on faith”. She then gently went on to testify of her sincere belief that this project was something Season would have me do. With fervent conviction my mom assured me that Season, as well as other ministering angels, would accompany me every step of the way. She further pointed out the significance of the timing… it was no coincidence that the finality of the pending decision fell on the same day as Season’s funeral. And guess what? She was absolutely right. I was to go to Italy. I also learned later on, that that very night, December 28, 2013, was astronomically (due to a lunar eclipse), the darkest night in 500 years. How symbolic it was. Metaphorically speaking, I truly was (am) ensnared in an abyss so dark, with seemingly no trace of light availing itself. So what was the beauty of such a depraved stain on my life tapestry… a stain striking enough to corrupt my peace and threaten my reach of light? Simple. The absolute truth of “opposition in all things” paints a timeless picture: The greater my grief and impervious debasement, the more joy and light that soon awaits me. Once again, We Book on Faith… and per my manifestation of that unwavering faith, I will be richly blessed. The harder the trial, the greater the blessings. Must we never forget… faith always precedes the miracle. It was time for me to cast my net into the fishless sea.
Suddenly it all made sense. I was not yet able to write my book because the other half of the story had not yet been written… so it was time to go and do.
So come May 6, 2014, follow along while Kellster and I ask all of Europe… What Brings You JOY?
LOVE YOU ALL!!
PS, SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO SARAH GARNER, CANDACE STEVENSON, AND CHAD ARNETT!!! WITHOUT THEM, THIS WOULDN’T BE HAPPENING!!!