Always Love You

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Today’s message. I looked down and this was there, telling me what to do.
Always love you.
Some days it’s difficult. Some days it’s easy. There have been days when it was impossible, and I couldn’t see past the pain, yet I am still here, with more hope and love in my heart than I’ve ever known. That’s because it was more painful to think about giving up. That’s it. I wasn’t willing to let go and managed to find that ray of light to hold on to.
We all have our personal trials and hardships. Some are visible, and some are not. Much of it is placed on us by others, but we need to find a way to rise above that.
We cannot change what we were born into, or what has happened to us at the hands of others. We need to find our value and want to do what we can to forgive those who have wronged us, so we can free ourselves. We can then move on to create change for ourselves, and those who are suffering, those whose struggles we know all too well.
If you can’t see past today, or can’t find a reason to love yourself, please hold on and know that you matter. You are not alone. If you need to, message me and know that you will be heard. Your words, your story, are safe with me.
We need to work together to create genuine connection, to create hope. It starts with seeing and listening to one another. From there, we can lift one another up with love and purpose.
What can you do today to take a step towards this? It can be as simple as getting out of bed and looking out the window. Feeding yourself something nourishing. Taking a walk outside. No one said it was easy, but it’s worth it. You are worth it. ❤️

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It’s Okay to Be Different

 

It’s okay to not be doing what everyone else is doing. It’s okay to not want the same things everyone else wants. It’s okay to live your life in the way that feels right to you.

Judgement, bullying, and responding to others without hearing what they’re saying is easy via social media. It makes us feel small and defeated. More of us feel like we are alone in the world than ever before.

We want to fit in and be accepted, and trying to make that happen in a world that screams for conformity forces our emotions down. It creates overwhelming emptiness, and a disconnect from our true feelings.

It causes us to create relationships based on false realities. This is one reason why we can so easily talk over and dismiss others. When you’re disconnected, you don’t empathize with others. You are able to name call, mock, and decide who is or isn’t worthy in your eyes. We need to change this, starting with ourselves.

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In this moment, quiet the voices around you. Tune out your to-do list, the television, the voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough. Give yourself the gift of ten minutes of “me time”. You don’t need to check your email or to see how many people liked your last post, to be happy or fulfilled. Just breathe and enjoy the moment. Think about something that gives you joy.

It’s not about buying things. It isn’t about promotions, money, or even control. It’s about listening to your gut and your heart. It’s about getting back to the wonder of simple things. It’s about what you tell yourself you don’t have time for in your daily life. Ask yourself this – What you would do if you didn’t have to worry about a paycheck? How would you invest the time you have on this planet?

That is your path, and it’s what we neglect when we get caught up in the expectations of our daily life. What would happen if you chose to slow down? To get off of the fast track? What if you let yourself play more? Rest more? Breathe and laugh more?

It’s okay to be different. We are caught up in the cycle of what we are told is acceptable, but when we quiet that voice, and tune into our inner calling, we find happiness. True joy and fulfillment lives there.

Be different. Be gloriously imperfect. Embrace it and let your light shine. The world is waiting to love you, just as you are.

You Are Beautiful

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A thought for today, and every day.

When you open your heart and share who you really are with the world, you will find connection with those who resonate with you. This is where you will find genuine beauty and happiness. They are found in letting go of society’s expectations and embracing the truth of who you are.
The pressure to conform makes us harden and protect ourselves from being different or standing out. It’s crippling and kills our opportunity for happiness and self-love. How can you experience real joy when you’ve buried who you truly are?
We are all shining stars, and are interconnected with those around us. When you let go of hiding, hating, shame, and acting out of fear, you soften and people see who you really are. That’s what true beauty is – being authentically you and shining brightly in a dark world. Step out and be seen. Know that you will find those genuinely attracted to who you are through your vulnerability.
What steps would you like to take to move in this direction? What is stifling your voice? When you look at people you admire, what attracts you to them?
Confidence? Bravery? The things they create or the words they say? That they’re not afraid to admit their flaws? Or talk about tough things honestly?
You are seeing yourself reflected in them. Embrace those qualities in yourself and let that guide you into using your voice to inspire others in your own way. You have that within you.
You are beautiful.
It’s not about makeup, your weight/body type, the things you own, or the right clothing/styling. It’s about loving yourself enough to be who you really are, and to say what you need to say, without fear of repercussions of others. Would Beyoncé or even Brené Brown be where they are if they hadn’t stepped out and allowed themselves to be seen?
I’m 50. It’s never too late to start this process. Take baby steps if you have to, but do this, for yourself and those who are waiting for you to connect with and inspire them to do the same. Let your beauty and light shine through.

✨🦄✨

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

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This is the reality of trying to take a selfie outside of your childhood home, in the desert sun. My eyes watered for ten minutes after I attempted to get this shot.

I love seeing outtakes and real life. We are all so busy trying to look like whatever we want to convey on social media, we often miss the moments of seeing one another being imperfect.
Real is charming, unexpected, and rare.

I admit that I delete the photos I don’t like of myself, but then, as a photographer who documents life, I have taken so many of myself, it would be a bit crazy, and narcissistic, to keep everything I shoot.

The point is this – trying to be so perfect that you’re no longer yourself is harmful. We are all flawed. Perfection is a myth. The more I open my heart and show myself to the world, the more I get back in return. Don’t be afraid to do the same. The world needs you, and your voice.

When we think of icons – Maya Angelou, Beyoncé, David Bowie, Bill Murray, Betty White, Madonna (for example) – how do you think they became iconic? They stepped out, took chances, were authentic to themselves, and blew us all away.

There is a reason people have such strong responses to certain individuals. It’s what we see of ourselves, and who we want to be, or what we want to say, that’s shines through them.

Dare to be you, to use your voice, to express yourself in a society that wants you to fit into its mold. Be weird, imperfect, and different. That’s where greatness lies – in digging in and figuring out who you really are at your core, and being unafraid of what others will think of you. I guarantee you will find more admirers than haters when you show yourself to the world.

We are waiting to love you, just as you are. Show us what you’ve got. ❤️

Gratitude

Most people are celebrating Thanksgiving today. I’ve been reflecting on my Native ancestors and in honoring them, I decided to live today in a place of gratitude. I enjoyed the morning with some of my local community, hugged a number of people who mean a lot to me, gifted essential oils to a friend, had a conversation with my brother about our mom’s health, and now am watching movies and working on pottery. Along the way I also messaged a few people to tell them I love them and appreciate them, and shared a blend of oils I researched for emotional support with others in my life.

I use essential oils every day. I only use one brand, because as a cancer survivor, it’s very important that I know what I put on or in my body. I will not use synthetic products if I can avoid them (in shampoos, lotions, soaps, and yes, scents I wear). I’ve done my research about where different companies source their oils from, who has consistent medicinal value and quality, and which company is not only environmentally responsible (they don’t take more than the plants and land can come back from) and socially responsible (they work with local farmers and families in each region they harvest oils from and are investing in improving every one of these areas for the people who live there), These things matter.

If you’d like to learn more about them, please visit this site. I am also happy to share information and research I’ve discovered and studied. They are the only company that John’s Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Sutter Heath, and other medical and cancer research facilities will work with, because of their quality, consistency, and ethics. I will be sharing more about my journey with the oils and how I’ve improved my health journey, and how we created a miracle using western, eastern, homeopathic, and natural medicine together.

My gift to you all today is this diffuser blend I created last night. It is meant to create a space that will allow you to sit in gratitude for the things in your life – large and small.

What do you have to be thankful for today? What brings joy into your life or allows you to give that gift to others? From having a roof over our heads, to knowing where our next meal is coming from, to a pet that gives us unconditional love, to friends and family who enrich our lives, we all have something to be grateful for.

Gratitude for what we do have is the first step in receiving the things we want more of. Today, or any day you want to reflect on things in your life, and open your heart to gratitude, this blend is a great one to diffuse. 💚

Emotions associated with these oils –

Lime – The ultimate gratitude oil. It helps you begin to appreciate even the little things.

Wild Orange – Helps us taste the sweetness of life. Reminds us that there is much to live for and supports gratitude and abundance.

Frankincense – Helps you see your beauty and value to the world.

Douglas Fir – Teaches us to learn from and value others’ experiences, especially from our elders.

Arborvitae – Helps us find balance in our lives, to know what we should hold close or release. Encourages peaceful surrender, relaxed grace, and trust in the flow of life.

Patchouli – Brings you into the present moment and deepens appreciation for what you have.

If you’d like to connect about essential oils and how they can help support you physically and emotionally, please connect with me. I’m happy to share what I used through treatment, and beyond.

Where the Heck Have I Been?

I’m sitting in the chemo room at my oncology office. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I haven’t shared what’s happened with my last go around with cancer. I simply went quiet here. I have a private Facebook page for my friends and a public page under Fear is a 4-Letter Word, but I’ve neglected everything but my personal page for too long. It’s time to get back to writing and sharing with the world.

So, what happened to me? Well, I will try to summarize it for you. I completed full chemotherapy in June and waited for my doctor to order a PET scan to see what was going on in my body. We knew back in January/February that things looked grim. I was told to hope for a miracle.

It was the kind of news that is depressing, paralyzingly, horrifying, life-altering, and makes you want to scream and cry. Check to all of that. There’s much more attached to that news and how it affected my life, but I’ll write more about that later.

For now, let’s focus on that PET scan. I was expecting news that we had knocked back the cancer, but that it was still present. My wife did too. I’m not even sure what my doctor expected the results to be.

He called me on July 4th, while I was at a friend’s house. When I saw the name of the oncology office pop up on the screen, I thought it was just a reminder call about an appointment, so I didn’t answer. He left a voicemail asking me to return his call, that he had news for me. I was in the car on my way to see my wife when I listened to the voicemail. I started crying. I knew he wouldn’t call to give me bad news on a holiday. We were on speaker phone with him when he gave us the news, “You have no active cancer in your body”. We cried more and celebrated.

I have stayed on one chemo drug since June, as a preventative. Every three weeks my blood and urine are checked and I am given an IV with 30 minutes of the drug. My hair has grown back, although I’m now more comfortable with a shaved head. I don’t have nausea anymore, but I do have headaches. It’s tolerable and I’ve learned to manage/live with it.

I have returned to a somewhat normal life, although I have less energy and other physical issues that are taking a while to improve, mostly due to muscle weakness from so much inactivity. I have good and bad days. I was suffering from serious memory issues, but I’m regaining more ability in that department now. I am fortunate and am able to work around the remaining issues I have.

All of this has allowed me to focus on what I want to achieve with my life, and to lay the foundation for those things. I know what statistics show, but we achieved the miracle my doctor told me to hope for. I will not give up my life to worrying about this disease. If I expect it to return, what kind of life is that? I am staying positive and maintaining my natural health plan (more about that soon).

I am a survivor and am here to share my story and my journey. I have another chance and I’m going to use it.

❤️Love & Gratitude❤️ Kelly

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THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO GET A CLEAR SCAN.

Back in the Saddle Again

Today, I find myself writing this, after yet another whirlwind of appointments, upsets, and harsh realities. My cancer has spread. There’s no easy way to say that, so let’s just get to the point. It’s in the lymph nodes in my lungs and between my lungs. I’ve had a ct scan, a pet scan, a lung biopsy, and one MRI. We are doing MRIs of my lower lumbar and hip areas to determine if the original pain that is located in my SI/hip area is also cancerous. There are enlarged lymph nodes, but we don’t know if the bone is affected. No one wants to hear this news, certainly not someone who has already been through treatment and thought it was behind her.

We are wasting no time. On Monday I will get my port and on Thursday I will start chemo again. My oncologist has made it clear that this is serious. My wife and I sat across from him, hoping to hear better news, trying not to cry when it turned out to be worse. He went over everything and a game plan. Upon leaving the room, it was hard to see the staff looking back at me with what I call “cancer face”. It’s that sad face, where people can barely make eye contact, and feel sorry for you. I’ve experienced it before and will experience it again. It just happens, especially when people don’t know what to say.

We received our information for all of the upcoming appointments, walked out to the car, and then proceeded to sit there, crying and hugging each other. We certainly knew it was a possibility that it would come back. We knew it was aggressive and in my bloodstream and could resettle somewhere else. You know the facts, but you feel so good after finishing treatment that you move forward with your life and put it behind you. None of the typical symptoms occurred that would signal something is wrong. I had my checkups, and then something happened that made no sense until it lead to this new cancer diagnosis – pain in the SI/hip area. The pain has been going on for over 6 months now and I attributed it to a car accident I was involved in. I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t getting better. The pain happens when I lay down and I have discomfort in the same area and down the left leg the rest of the time. Advil has made it livable, although sleeping has been rough for months now. It’s easy to mistake that for an injury from a car accident.

I’m sharing this because I want people to practice self-care. I want them to be aware of what’s going on with their bodies. Something you keep excusing as nothing, could be something. Now, I don’t want to encourage people to think every pain is cancer. If you have symptoms that are persistent, especially if it gets worse, you should insist on being checked out. I had a chance to have an MRI 6 months ago, but I had to pay upfront for it. I couldn’t do it. If I’d had one then, I would have known what was going on and gotten a 6 month jump on treatment. Hindsight is 20/20, but it does no good to think that way. “If only I hadn’t eaten sugar”, “If only if I’d changed my diet sooner”, “If only I’d said something sooner” – none of this kind of thinking will heal you. It’s self-destructive and I’m putting it behind me.

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Feeling reflective

Now is the time for throwing everything at this. I’m at a crossroad and have to decide if I want to do everything I can to stick around, or if I want to half-ass it and hope for the best. If you’ve followed my journey thus far, I’m pretty sure you know what I’ve decided to do. I am starting back with chemo. I tolerated it well last time and the hope is that it will knock the cancer cells back. We now know it didn’t kill them off entirely last time, so I’m also starting the keto diet now. It’s a big switch from being a vegetarian, but the research I’ve done says it is the way to go. A side benefit of that is that it will knock down my blood sugar, which is awesome for any diabetic. I will be starting back with acupuncture, hypnosis, reiki, and massage. I am already using a combination of essential oils and supplements that will support my body, much like last time, except I’m increasing quantities. I’m going to be using hash oil and edibles to help with my appetite. So many things. It seems overwhelming at times, but trying everything together will leave me with no regrets.

At this point, I am only thinking of knocking this back and staying around. I am thinking about my nieces and nephew and my desire to watch them become fully functioning adults. I am thinking about the good things to come and my desire to be a apart of it. I am thinking about the plans I have with my wife and what I want to create through our artist’s studio and doTERRA business. I am thinking about the plans I have with my friends and wanting to establish our shared dream, Green Mountain Collective. At the end of the day, this project is my legacy. It encompasses my dreams and ideals and also benefits good people and our local community. I am thinking about what I have left to see, build, and experience, and the moments that take my breath away and make me appreciate being alive. I’m ready to keep fighting and you’re welcome to join me on this new, yet familiar journey.

A Day of Reflection (You Only Turn 48 Once)

Today is my birthday. The birthday wishes started last night via text and social media. I woke up to 68 birthday wishes on Facebook, which has now jumped to 127+. Seeing all of the well wishes and comments, and feeling the love, it’s priceless. It is beautiful, uplifting, and makes me realize how fortunate I am to have so many wonderful people in my life who want to reach out to me today. This day also reminds me that my doctor told me that if I hadn’t been diagnosed and rushed into treatment, I probably would not have survived another year. Above all things today, I am extremely grateful.

Last week I found myself trying to answer the question, “What are you doing for your birthday?” I looked at my calendar and realized there was nothing planned. It was a bit odd, to not have anything to do, after the crazy cancer fundraiser/birthday party that was planned last year. In contrast, today has been a quiet and uneventful day, which has made me reflect on where I was last year and how much things have changed.

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My 2014 birthday party.

I look back at the photographs of me, bald and smiling, being embraced and held up by my friends, family, and community. It makes me realize how fortunate I am, both for the people I am surrounded by, but also to be here today, feeling relatively healthy. I am asked often by people, when the subject of my treatment last year comes up, “Are you in remission?” or “How are things?” (which usually leads to people asking if I’m done with treatment). I welcome these questions and know that it simply means people want to know how my health is. I look at their faces and see how awkward it is for them to ask me about it. I see the worry, the concern. I tell them, as I’m now telling you, my doctor says my type of cancer, aggressive endometrial cancer that had traveled out of the uterus to the lymph nodes, will usually come back within 2-3 years if chemo didn’t zap all of the remaining cells. If I make it past the 3 year mark, it probably won’t return. I finished chemo in September of last year. I’m looking forward to celebrating my one year anniversary and every time I see my oncologist for my 3 month checkups, he says time passing without any changes is what we want.

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2014 birthday love from friends and family.

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Making a wish and blowing out the candles.

I should tell you that I am rare, both for being diagnosed with endometrial cancer so young and for not having any blood markers. That means they cannot draw blood to check to see if the cancer has returned. Instead, I am the gauge. It scared me a bit when my doctor told me that. If I start to feel “off”, I am supposed to report it immediately, so a CAT scan can be performed to see what’s going on inside. We are trying to avoid exposing me to more radiation, unless necessary, so we are erring on the side of caution. To be honest, I really don’t think about this on a daily basis. I don’t want to. If I did, it would affect my life and my peace of mind. Instead, I choose to wake up and be grateful. I look for what makes me happy and I focus on that instead. Focusing on the possible return of a cancer diagnosis seems like it would be exactly what cancer cells would want. I won’t give it to them.

Simplicity is something I appreciate these days. For my birthday my wife asked what I wanted for brunch (blueberry pancakes, veggie sausage, and fresh peaches). We took the dogs for a little ride in our new/used car that has made my life much less stressful. I went and got a haircut. For dinner we shared my freebie birthday veggie burger from Red Robin and a vanilla milkshake and then went to a place we hadn’t been in a while and enjoyed a soak and sauna under the stars. While I was there, sitting in silence and staring at the big dipper, I tried to make a list of things I’m grateful for in my head. I came to the conclusion that it would take an entire blog post to say everything I would want to say and even then, I’d miss something and want to revise it later. Instead, I will just say that I am grateful for everything around me that makes up my life. You can’t have the good without the bad or the light without the dark. To me, the point of waking up every morning is to keep breathing, trying, learning, and moving forward.

Today I am 48 years old. I am married to someone who would do most anything to make my life better or easier. We know what unconditional love is and appreciate one another. We know what it is to endure a life-threatening situation together while keeping each other smiling and sane. I run two businesses doing what I love – creating art and helping people with health and nutritional support. Both things make others (and myself) happy and I get to work with people I genuinely like. I “beat cancer”.  I am surrounded by love and compassion. People in my life are constantly rooting for me and that feels pretty darned good. I feel comfortable in my skin for the first time in my life and I like who I am. It’s taken me most of my life to get here and I am not finished. We are all a work in progress. I believe we have to do the work to accept ourselves, to find our purpose, and then to give of ourselves with kindness and gratitude. The rest will come.

I will never take for granted that I am still here, alive and kicking. I’m thinking today of two beloved friends we lost to cancer. Both of these people contributed so much to our community and their presence is greatly missed. It’s hard to process it all. I really wish we could be celebrating together today. Cancer is a jerk. I am painfully aware that every day is a gift. I am thankful that they graced this world with their presence and left a mark on so many hearts, including mine. Happy Birthday indeed. ❤

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Birthday self-portrait, 2015