Finding Paradise: Seeing the Beauty of Life in the Blending of Two

Emily Hughes Johnson-

Ep. 75

Emily shares her touching relationship with her mother, Marilyn and the gifts she left her.   Marilyn’s determination to never let cancer win and to continue to inspire Emily’s life were her priorities.  Living her best life through cancer. Setting an example of lifestyle and mindset. Pushing through limitations. Her strength and courage have always been a guiding force for Emily.

“One of the things this book has brought me is people that have reached out to me are going through something similar to the loss a loved one and I’ve ended up talking a lot about my mom and her story. It’s such a gift to be able to do that. She never wanted to be seen as a cancer patient, but I think I think she would be proud of the fact that maybe her story and the way she approached the diagnosis may inspire others and that I can turn my grief into the ability to maybe help others see that it’s going to be better.” 

Emily learned more after her mom passed away following a courageous 17 year battle. She had a unique challenge presented to her. It was a secret book, “Bird of Paradise”, that Marilyn was writing throughout her diagnosis. She passed away leaving the book unfinished. She left a letter with one request – that Emily finish the story for her. Through that challenge, Emily learn so much more about her mom’s inspiration behind writing the book. teaching the importance of having a positive outlook on life and acknowledging what is and isn’t in your control

Throughout her illness her mother managed to keep a smile on her face and humor in her heart.

Her story is so beautiful the way 2 lives came together in writing the book “Bird of Paradise”. She had the opportunity to see the world through her mom’s eyes. To live through her words. It is a connection that most people will never experience.

I want to know more about her legacy, her mindset, and  lifestyle. The way your mom lived her life through her diagnosis and how that influenced you and your life. The relationship you had, the connection and the trust…was so deep.

One of the biggest takeaways of our conversation today is to keep finding the positives and the beauty of life- even through the hardest of times. Your mindset makes such a difference in the quality of your life. 

Find your paradise.

You can learn more about Emily and her book on her website: 

Her book “Bird of Paradise” is available on Amazon

Emily uses the mindset of what would her mom do when facing challenges, and how she hopes to inspire others that things will get better through the grieving process.

Emily touched on finding the positives and beauty of life through some of the hardest times.

Emily was born in Aspen, Colorado where she enjoyed skiing, dancing ballet and playing golf.  At the age of 13, she and her family moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina.  She played competitive golf and was a member of the Nike Winternational Junior Team. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. From a young age, Emily was fascinated by Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius leading her to an intensive study of Mediterranean Archeology while at UNC. 

After graduation, Emily began her professional career in the Marketing Department at the PGA TOUR before moving on to agency work. She eventually moved back to North Carolina where she began writing grants for a professional ballet company before starting a freelance marketing and consulting business. 

“I believe my experience as a first time published author, who never really intended to publish anything, could inspire others who want to but are scared to try.

I also believe that my personal journey of living with a mother who faced her mortality everyday for 17 years is something that many could relate to. I was 13 when she was first diagnosed. I was 15 when she was told that there was nothing more they could do for her. I was 30 when she passed away. Her story – her determination to never let cancer win, the work she put into advocating for herself when the doctors had given up – I believe that would resonate not just with those who have a loved one facing cancer, but to those who are facing it themselves. I know how much it meant to me to hear the stories of others. To know that I wasn’t alone. It helped me through. And completing my mom’s book was therapy for me. I was able to work through my grief. I think it’s important for anyone who has lost a loved one to find that one thing that allows them to express their emotions and release their grief and inevitable guilt, rather than hold on to it and let it weigh them down.

I have also learned, from a very early age, that we’re not immune from anything. Watching what happened to my mom has certainly influenced me to ensure I maintain my health – working out, getting regular scans and being in tune to how my body feels.”

Remember~ Stay Anchored ⚓

Listen to this important episode to hear more.

How do you sail through life? Join me on this endeavor! I would love to grow this amazing support community!



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Published by Lorie

Hello and welcome to Sailing Through Life! My name is Lorie. I am a 2-time melanoma cancer survivor and a sailor - in my heart and on the water. I want to be a beacon of light to others with life challenges and be an inspiration to stay positive while going through these life-altering events. Join me as I set sail on this new adventure... Sailing Through Life.

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