Finding Joy in the Darkness

IMG_8657

A moment of pure joy.

This is what it feels like to be with someone who has known you since middle school – who knows your dreams, your struggles, your heart, and who always has your back.

Yesterday we got away from the heavy things happening in the world, and looked for simple joy and wonder at the Oregon coast. The day before, my best friend had been randomly attacked by someone driving down the road because she has a rainbow sticker on her car. The person screamed horrible, hateful things at her until she pulled off of the road.

What provokes people these days to be so outwardly and boldly hateful to others? This is a person who has spent her life helping others. Having a rainbow sticker on her car made her deserving of hate speech and threats?  The climate we are living in is causing this infection to spread and become more direct and vile. She was shaken up, but otherwise is okay.

IMG_8590

So much hatred, over this sticker.

We decided getting away for the day was the way to go and it was the right choice. We found agates, jasper, barking sea lions, and even these giant floating whales. Everywhere we walked, we found treasure and yes, so many heart signs that I lost count.

IMG_8605

I want to encourage you to take time away from whatever is weighing on you and look for joy in the simple and unexpected.

Call or write the person who gets you and spend some time catching up. If you don’t have that person, and many people don’t, comment here or message me. Talk about something good you saw or experienced, instead of just repeating the bad things happening around us.

IMG_8618

Let’s share more of what we see that makes us smile, or gives us a glimmer of hope, and create our own joy. How can we put more love out into the world, to minimize the random hatred and darkness that’s causing people to act like monsters?
We can change the tide if we try. Keep sharing the good. Keep being the good and showing others how we should be treating one another. This is how we lift one another up and keep going. ❤️💛💚💙💜

Advertisements

You Are Magical

IMG_6759

Don’t lose sight of yourself, even when life takes you down side roads. Let go enough to learn what you’re supposed to, and find value and beauty in the detours, but never let it take away your magic.

Detours are where we find some of our best life lessons. The key is to learn how to flow with these “distractions”, and know that they’re happening for a reason.

Perhaps we are supposed to learn how to handle ourselves differently in stressful situations, or we are supposed to completely change direction with our lives and find our purpose where we least expected it. No matter how small or large, there is something to be learned in the “tricky” happenings in life.

I look at my cancer journey as something that has not only helped me find my purpose, but has had a ripple effect for others. If that is what needed to happen to bring about change, I can find peace in that. I will not allow myself to be angry and live in that space. Instead, I have let myself open up and I’ve discovered my personal magic.

It’s not an easy place to be in, and of course I wish things were different, but I am learning to be at peace with what I can and cannot control in life. That also allows me to focus on my purpose and not fear stepping out and walking through doorways that open up for me. I was always playing small and didn’t take opportunities that came my way. I let fear affect my life choices, and letting that go feels so darn good.

If my journey helps you step out onto your path in some way, I’ve fulfilled my purpose. If I share something that makes you laugh or cry, or think, I’ve fulfilled my purpose.

Don’t let yourself become lost in the things that happen to you. Remember that you are not what others have done to you. You are not what they say you are when they try to tear you down. You are not your bank account, your pant size, your family, or your chronic illness. You are only you, and that is magical. 💜✨🦄

Thank you to Amber Iberreche for the image and inspiring words.

Always Love You

IMG_6562.JPG

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. ❤️

The Missing Piece

IMG_6545

Copyright 2018 – Kelly Keigwin

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” – Rumi

When you’re looking for that missing piece, the thing that will make you feel whole, complete, and happy, know that it’s there, waiting to be discovered. You may not see it today, but keep opening yourself to life and your journey, and you’ll find it.
This is what I’ve found through my journey – it’s you. It was me, the entire time, holding myself back from feeling at peace. The light, the joy, and the “missing” component is within you. Healing, finding peace within the chaos of life, and appreciating the privilege of whatever time we have here, lies within us.
No possession can give you that, no matter how much you collect or own. No matter what your status. No person can give us happiness, and once we see that, we can then walk into relationships and friendships without needing others to fulfill that role. Relationships then exist from a completely different place, one of selflessness, mutual love, and respect.
You are enough and you deserve to be happy. Please know that. ❤️

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.

IMG_2208

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

IMG_1455

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

IMG_1129

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. ❤️

You Are and You Can

Are you familiar with Celeste Barber? I love following her work, as a comedian and social commentator. This delightful woman knows no fear when it comes to looking ridiculous and sharing it with the world.

celeste

An example of Celeste’s work.

It’s time for women to stop worrying about looking silly, or not being polished and perfect. We burp and fart and eat and poop. We have pores and body hair. We are human. We have become so airbrushed and photoshopped in every representation we see that it’s impossible to achieve what society tells us to.

It’s time to be us, by embracing our wrinkles and muffin tops and scars and grey hair. That’s where true beauty lies. When we see women we admire, like perhaps Meryl Streep, or Kathy Bates, or Celeste, ask yourself why. I often hear, “I wish I could do that”, or “I wish I were brave enough to do that”. You are and you can.

You can take baby steps and start small or you can shave your head and stop shaving your legs. You are you and that is a beautiful thing. Embrace that.

•Dance without caring what you look like.

•Go out without makeup on.

•Take a day when you’d clean the house and stay in your bedroom with snacks and a journal.

•Take a nap, even if you have to cancel that non-vital meeting or appointment.

•Eat toast or cookies in bed without worrying about crumbs.

•Let your dog cuddle on the couch with you.

•Order the hamburger (or veggie burger) and eat it when you go out to a restaurant without worrying about people judging you. (I love salads, but too many women feel they have to appear to be eating tiny portions to “maintain their figure”. Just say no, unless you’re craving a salad.)

•Treat yourself to a desert when it sounds good.

•Don’t say, “but I couldn’t”, about anything you really do want to do/eat/achieve.

•Take time for yourself and things that feed your soul every day. Even five minutes will increase your joy.

Remember that you have one life and if you can’t find joy or peace in your existence, you need to step back and reevaluate. Simplify or step out of your box more. One thing I’ve learned is that once it’s over, there are no do-overs. When facing your mortality, please don’t find yourself saying you wished you’d done it all differently. Don’t wait. And definitely surround yourself with images of women like Celeste, who are doing it their way and succeeding. ❤️

celeste2

Another example of Celeste’s work. “Don’t Stop Believing” – perfection.

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

fuckyeahkelly

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

Week 1 in Chemo Town

Have you ever cried in front of a medical professional? Today that happened to me. Of course I’m being bombarded with emotions and craziness right now, but that wasn’t the direct cause. It had everything to do with horrible pain in my low back/hip, while laying on a hard surface for a CT scan. The pain became worse and worse until my hand started to shake and then the tears came. This is what I’ve been working with since the last time I wrote. The MRIs that were needed to diagnose my pelvic/low back pain brought on pain like I’d never experienced. I am able to tolerate a lot of things and have learned with medical procedures to just try to stay calm and go with it. This was different. I almost passed out during the first MRI and had to go home and come back the next day for the second one. They thought if I took oxycodone before the next session, it would all go smoothly. Nope. It did nothing and I had to stop three times to get through the entire process.

img_3232

My friend Rachel managed to capture this photo of me getting ready for my second MRI.

I will always be honest about what procedures are like. Every other person I’ve ever spoken with has cruised through an MRI without any incident. Apparently, there is a very small percentage of people who suffer excruciating pain during an MRI. The good news is that I’m one of those rare people, so the odds of it happening to you are much less likely. The bad news is if I ever have to have another MRI, they will probably have to sedate me for it. Sigh. Being rare isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Being rare and not having blood markers for cancer has definitely not helped, in terms of my recent diagnosis. It would have been great to have known sooner, but it couldn’t be helped. I’ve had to inform my brother of being rare and not having blood markers, so he and his kids will know to ask for further testing if anything seems suspicious.

My doctor placed my port a week ago. It’s implanted in the chest and runs up through a vein in your neck. It grosses me out, but it’s worth it to avoid suffering through constant IVs. The nurse just has to “plug in” to the port and you’re pretty much good to go. It’s sore, bothers me, and I wish I didn’t have to have it, but I do. I’m still watching bruises from the many IVs I’ve had over the past couple of weeks disappear. This is easier. I did have “weeping” after surgery, because I’ve had to stay on Advil to keep my pain levels down. Fortunately, it finally stopped. I’m including photos, so if you’re squeamish, I apologize.

Last Thursday I had my first chemo treatment of this cycle. My doctor has decided to give me the full dose of both drugs one week and then two weeks off. The cycle will repeat 5 times. Last time I had to go in every week and they gave me less drugs, more often. I had some nausea, but it only lasted a couple of days. I did okay with the full dose, until a couple of days later. The nausea started and I’ve had trouble getting food down without feeling like it might come back up. I haven’t vomited, but I have to be aware of what sights and smells will make me feel queasy. I tried CBD capsules for the nausea and it made me sleepy and did wonders for my low back.hip pain. It’s now been five days and I’m still really nauseous. My job right now is to make sure to feed myself.

Today I had my first appointment with the radiation doctor. The MRI did show that there is cancer present in my L5 vertebrae and sacral area. This means the cancer has metastasized and is present on the bone. They say it isn’t bone cancer if it starts as a different type of cancer and spreads to the bone. I just know it’s been painful and I want it gone. The plan is to hit the area with radiation every day, M-F, for two-three weeks. I’ll be doing it simultaneaously with chemo. The hope is that it will shrink the bad cells and give me less pain, while the chemo gets in there and kills them off. Makes sense. I just know this won’t be the easiest path. Chemo has it’s side effects and so does radiation. We shall see what happens.

img_3395

After today’s prep for radiation treatments. You can barely tell that I cried, but believe me, I was ready to go home. This is a nurse de-accessing my port.

I’ve definitely been pushed to and beyond my physical and emotional limits over the past few weeks. I admit it, it’s a challenge to stay positive all of the time and to not get dragged down when enduring some of this stuff. Today, when the doctor asked if Sam and I wanted to go over the films of where the cancer is located, she said yes and I said no. Why? I was feeling overwhelmed and knew I couldn’t see or hear any more bad news. She showed Sam and they discussed it all. I have the information I need, but was able to put off seing the extent of the cancer in my body until later. I am not in denial, it’s just been too much and I needed to keep my head clear as I headed in for my CT scan.

Right now I’m stressing a bit over “did I choose the right diet?”, while reading various research studies and testimonials. Who knows for sure? Keto or raw vegan were the two that seemed the most legit to me, from a cancer viewpoint. I feel like I have to choose everything correctly, or I may not have another chance. Things are much more serious this time around and it’s a lot of pressure. You truly can get caught up in all of the bullshit during something like this. In a moment, your hopes can be dashed, or you can feel elated. I’ve called it the rollercoaster before and that’s exactly what it is. I’m fortunate to have a wife who makes special foods for me to eat and supports me every step of the way, and friends who are invested in my survival. It can be difficult when you’re facing horrible things and you, alone, have to endure it. That said, having a supportive circle is priceless.

I start radiation on Thursday. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’d love for my port area to not be so sore and to get my appetite back. Small steps and postive thoughts. I’m doing my best to focus on that.