“Human kindness is overflowing but I think it’s gonna rain tonight!”

A friend reminded me of this lyric after I shared a picture on the gruelling effect chemo has on the body. I want to start by saying thank you to everyone for the human kindness—so far it’s been unbelievable! Big shoutout to my own nearest and dearest for putting up with my antics over the last couple of month! I love you!

 

Well, for once it isn’t raining in Ireland. It’s snowing! A new layer of complication and self reflection and the message that each one of us is Blessed.

 

I am now over 75% the way through my chemotherapy (Mvac) and this coming Monday and Tuesday will take rounds 7/8 which by the grace of god will complete my journey and I will start the road back to full health.

 

Thursday the 15th I will rescan and again the doctors will hold all the card on how it plays out. This terrifies me and motivates all at the same time. I’ve learned that as physical as cancer is, the game is ultimately played and won in the mind.

 

Letting go of the constant thoughts running through our heads opens up the gateway to our true being.

 

I have one outcome in my set in my mind! Can you take a guess at what that is?

LIFE!

 

Is this hope? Is this just a fantasy? But how do you  hope without fantasy? I’ve been thinking about that lately, trying to find hope without denial. Denial of my health symptoms is what made me ignore my serious health issues for a long time before I was diagnosed with cancer. But hope is what keeps me in the positive mental state enough to keep going.

 

How do I hope with honesty towards myself? I have been carefully checking my heart over this process to make sure I’m staying balanced, and the last two weeks have been making hope come alive in my heart. Hope is concrete, reality. Fantasy is all in your head.

 

And lately, my reality has been both terrible and wonderful at the same time.

 

Last week I did a shoot with the amazing Juliana Scodeler to try capture the moment and express what I’ve been lacking in words. (Insert photo ) That evening I walked the red carpet for “The gossies” and went home with the “Best Music Act” award.

 

Was that divine timing? To me, it signified a sense of certainty and hope that “this too shall pass.” It was a simple nod that I’ve been holding the perfect space of reality, while maintaining hopefulness in a realistic way.

 

It really felt like my “staring the lion in the face” moment. I wasn’t afraid, and I ended up walking away with the prize, even though just a nomination was an honor, and would have been more than enough.

 

You have the ability to choose which way you lean in every moment—the noise will come, the report will come, the scan will come, the outcome will make itself known. And through it all, we have to have concrete hope through our reality.

 

Like the drugs, I’ve let the news, both good and bad, pass through my body. The noise that my mind makes is no different than the chemicals that is pushed through my body. It’s what you ultimately chose to give your energy too that matters.

 

I’m giving my energy to awareness, hope and being present right now.

 

Share what you’re feeling. Talk about it. Check in with yourself. Evoke change now, so you don’t get caught off guard or side swiped by the storm.

 

Love and Light

 

Keith

Hair Today – Gone Tomorrow

It’s week three of treatment. I’ve got the drill down, I know how it will make me feel, when the nausea will strike, how long I’ll sleep, what I can eat to feel better.

 

Before each chemo round, I have a routine to prepare myself mentally.

 

I practically bounced into the hospital on Monday ready to face the challenge. When I arrived, they completed blood tests and I was told that my neutrophils were 0.1 (a tenth of where they needed to be), so after the nurses and consultants took some time to deliberate, they cancelled chemo for that day.

 

My body was not playing ball, and was clearly not responding well to treatment. My neutrophils being down translates as “Hey your immune system is shot, and you will have nothing to fight a simple cold or flu and we can’t take that risk,”

 

I was feeling so well that morning and was totally thrown with the fact that my mind was telling me one thing yet my blood from a physical perspective was saying, “OH NO NO.“

 

Naturally I felt relief that I got to avoid the vomiting, the imprint of the tile floor on my hands and knees from hugging the toilet for a few days. That morning, I’d been brimming with lyrics and melodies, but then I felt something other than sickness, I’d felt an  eagerness to get well and get back to what I love— my music world.

 

That hit to my health-confidence hit me that day. Just like I’d felt fine the last year, but my body was raging with stage 3 bladder cancer, that morning I’d felt fine, was planning my next steps in music and how after this was done i Want to simply get on the road and SING, and the nurses had bad news for me. My body hadn’t even been well enough to inject cancer-killing poison into it.

 

My Reality

 

I’ve been learning the difference between reality and fantasy lately, and how to be positive within my reality, rather than ignoring it in order to stay positive. I can be happy and have cancer. I can be whole and also sad about my circumstances. I can be afraid and still courageous about what is happening. Everyone is different regarding their journey, please feel free to share yours with me, Just reach out at any point Keithcullengm@yahoo.ie

 

“it takes a lot of strength to share yourself with someone else” A lyric of one of my songs written 5 years ago is back to remind why it was written!

 

Yesterday I stood in the shower, and for the first time, I had clumps of my body hair in my hand. As that was a particular fear of mine, As part of my treatment i am doing the “cold cap” (they basically freeze your head to stop the chemo targeting that area and have a 30% chance of working). I said I would take a 3/10 chance over none. Who knows if the pain of it is worth it from a vanity and identity point of view?

 

Hair has always been a touchy point for me. I was 18 when I started losing my hair, and at the age of 25 I had a hair transplant because I was so embarrassed. It was something I tried to fix and I succeeded.

 

Now, honestly, as much as I love the hair on my head, I’m fully ready to embrace the fact life will go on with or without it! I do wonder if i can pull off the bald emoji look.

 

Ladies I can’t speak for you, but I can imagine, as hair is such of part of modern day norms in terms of beauty that to have to face the loss of your lucious locks comes as shock and for some is tied to confidence and self esteem. I’m learning to give up my attachments to any body parts and truly appreciate the hard work the body does to keep me alive and deal with the drama it’s thrown day to day.

 

The outpouring from people, far and wide, the last 2 weeks has been a truly humbling and pure test of the amount of goodness there truly is in the world. People have shared their intimate stories of struggles, and assisted in lighting up some of my darker days.

 

With the thousands of messages that came in, each one of them was like an injection of  healing light that couldn’t have come at a better time. Being new to cancer and to chemotherapy I hadn’t imagined it would force me to be so brutally honest and reflective as I currently am.

 

Each decision I make now has meaning and the value attached to survival and being a source of good has never been stronger at the forefront of my mind.

 

I’ve been gracefully broken and now am  focused on rebuilding a stronger, more knowledgable, kinder Keith who surrenders to what my new path and will continue to keep my arms wide open to lifes opportunities whilst doing some good along the way.

 

LOVE and LIGHT

 

KC

P.s The cat nor the dog have left my side (animals are way smarter than we give them credit for)

Hello Cancer – Goodbye Doubt

Hello Cancer;

On Monday I started chemotherapy, 2 days of 4 different drugs. It’s Thursday now and I am finally able to lift my head off the pillow. It’s taken me awhile to sort through my feelings: the layers of fear and disbelief, the desire to ignore reality( I am best known for this) In the last couple of weeks I have finally admitted to myself, and I am able to say out loud that I have stage 3 bladder cancer Knowing that whatever happens I’ve had to welcome this DIS-ease into my body and figure out how to beat it before it beats me. Cancer is selfish/aggressive  and by nature will kill you first unwilling and unknowing it too kills itself!

All the signs were there, telling me my health was unraveling, but it took a medical emergency before I was ready to listen . This I don’t recommend and this is why I want to share my experience will anyone who will listen.

Last year was the best year I’ve ever had. I experienced some big personal awakenings, my career was on the rise, and my love life was finally worth talking about, the schedule was full, and the lessons I was learning along the way were inspiring me in all the right directions.

Exactly this time last year I was prepping to attend the Grammys, for a big showcase and for my album. We filmed a mini series, and during that hectic time, I started to notice blood in my urine. I thought I had some sort of infection.

Eager to stay on schedule and keep up with the recording, I resorted in doing the whole “mind over matter” bit, taking advice from health experts and finally seeing my local doctor. Without even touching me or doing any tests, he gave me antibiotics for what he supposed was a urinary tract infection. I repeated this scenario 3 times even though I had no symptoms and no pain.

At that point I was exercising daily, eating what I thought was clean food, and drinking little or no alcohol. I’ve never smoked and never taken any drugs, and I was meditating often and would have said I was feeling very little stress. I even did a seven day water fast to renew my kidneys, thinking it may be a stone.

By December, my symptoms worsened, and while I was on a trip in Sydney, I sought medical help again. Jessica, an Australian doctor I visited for more antibiotics, required me to have an ultrasound instead. That led to another specialist, which led to a CT scan, which led to my laying on the operating table in Sydney. December 8th will be a date I won’t forget as they removed a large tumour from by bladder not really knowing the full extent or nature of how the cancer had spread.

GOODBYE DOUBT

My head was silenced by the amazing, beautiful people around me who made the last 6 weeks as calm as possible, they stepped in whether it meant travelling the other side of the world to be with me, A daily check in, Getting and paying for the best people in holistic medicine to talk me through and educate me so I can be informed and empowered and not be doubtful or fearful and finally learn to respect the decisions I make for my own life-force. To my earth angels you know who you are and with tears in my eyes I say “Thank you”

My sister flew in to be with me, and a few days after my surgery, I flew back to Ireland with her. I completed a one-month health intensive at Hippocrates, to get my brain and body as healthy as possible before I started my pharmaceutical medical treatments.

I’ve experienced every different type of emotion possible over the last six weeks, from “WHY ME,” to “I got this,” to “I’m ok,” to “This sucks balls.”

People keep asking me how I am, as they normally would, and up to this point, I’ve maintained my usual positive attitude.

Everything I’ve submerged myself in the last 5 years from my music, to my relationships, and even any business pursuits has been rooted in honesty and awareness of self.

And that’s why this letter, too, is about honesty and awareness, and me being okay with not being okay.

Sometimes Ive cried, got angry, lost the run of myself I also watched other peoples stories and taken strength in the fact I’m still here to tell the tale and in some weird twist of faith this too will shape the future of the human I’m supposed to become . Sometimes I think about what I would want my family to have if I died. And sometimes I feel like I’ll live forever, and start writing lyrics, pulling the beautiful diamonds out of this dark space I’m in. Sometimes I wake up grateful, excited to see the other people on this journey with me. Sometimes I go for a long, sunshine filled walk, and plan a trip or two to the beach, once I get back to my adopted home in Malibu, California.

I never thought I’d be here, especially in my early 30’s. But, here I am. And I’m not glad about the circumstances—yes, it’s hard—but I am grateful for the lessons I’m learning. I’ve had to stop, breathe, listen to my body, and make very calculated, healthful decisions.

I’m not broken. I am supported. I am strong. I am full of health and light. I am also full of emotion, and I’m learning that it might feel scary at times, but emotions are good indicators of our mental and physical and spiritual health, and I need to take the time to listen to them and process them, the way I would listen to my stomach growl and give it nutrition. I’m learning to respond to my rich inner world, damp it down less, and how to process it in a healthy way with the right people by my side. I’m learning to stop and breathe more often. 

And I wouldn’t have given myself a month long retreat to focus on my physical being if it hadn’t been for this massive road block.

Don’t do what I did. Listen to your body, the subtle things. Pay attention. I know I will now. I’ve only got one, and it’s precious to me, more than it’s ever been. I’m grateful for my body now. Now, I know how powerful it is, and how beautiful it makes me, and I will treat it with the respect it deserves, Flaws and all! I will honour my earthly home, my flesh, and I have learned how to treat it well in the last few weeks.

Take 2018 and assess your health—mental, physical, spiritual. Take the self-kindness steps to improve it, to treat yourself with the same respect you’d give others, I look forward to open lines of communication and spreading this message

Love and light

Saying Something in Australia

I’ve been so fortunate so far to be having a great time in Australia, and have been keeping incredibly busy. With so many new people to meet and things to do, this experience has already been immensely rewarding. Travelling has such a unique way of opening up our eyes: it gives us a fresh perspective in a brand new place. This past week, I’ve had the most rewarding experiences: climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and taking in the insane views, strolling through the charming Botanical Gardens, taking a trip down to the beautiful Lake Macquarie, and of course eating the most delicious food (can definitely recommend Thrive and China for anyone in the area). All of these new adventures have been incredible, reminding me of how while traveling can force us out of our comfort zone, going to new places can be refreshing and allows us to refocus and revitalize.

 

With this mindset, my experience in Australia so far has reminded me of my song “Say Something”. Almost a year-old now, “Say Something” is all about the importance of being real. With all the people we come in contact with everyday, it’s easy to talk in circles, speaking only on the surface. It’s often much simpler to speak generally and gloss over any issues, but how can we form real connections if we never truly say something?

 

The rejuvenated self Australia has brought me reminds me of just that. There’s so many people out there, with so many different backgrounds and stories to tell. Being in a new place affords countless new opportunities, but to take advantage of that, you need to get past the surface level, and really speak.

Turn On The Light – Behind The Scenes with Kamal Ibrahim

I can’t believe it’s been four weeks now since the release of “Turn On the Light”. There are so many incredible people to thank for this whole experience, but none of it would be possible without Kamal Ibrahim. Kamal and I met back in 2010 after my first EP release, so reconnecting with him for collaboration on Turn On the Light made perfect sense.

 

Kamal understood my message perfectly. The conception behind the video came about effortlessly and easily, matching beautifully with the song. The video captures everything I wanted to say, coinciding with my lyrics and portraying them on screen.“Turn On the Light” has meant so much to me, so it was important that the video reflected that, and I could not be more grateful to Kamal for his direction. I’m also thankful for the Helen Jordan Stage School for allowing us to shoot on campus, as well as our leading lady, Julie, for a beautiful job well done.

 

Kamal’s creativity and artistry truly speaks for itself. Be sure to check out his latest projects: “The Last Summer”, and Immersive dinner play running at the Whale Theatre from November 30th until December 4th. You can also watch his recently released short film, “If Only”, made in regards to Mental Health Week on his Facebook.

Give A Home

Words really, truly, can not describe how excited I am to be performing on September 20th at Sofar’s event Give a Home. This is the largest music charity organization where THOUSANDS of artists, both tremendously famous and underground, come together in thousands of homes to perform and raise money for those millions who were forced to flee their homes. On September 20th, there will be over 300 concerts happening at the exact same time in 60 different countries. The biggest music event to happen in history. This is all for the support of 22 million refugees. All benefits will be going towards these refugees. This is an incredibly beautiful event because not only is it supporting a tremendously amazing cause, but it is also giving thousands of artists around the world the opportunity to do what they love best while at the same time helping those in need. This is what an artist lives for. To make a tremendously positive impact through doing what they love. In this case, it is performing. Join me, along with a huge number of artists, in performing for Give A Home. Together, with the charity organization Amnesty, we will unite musicians and fans worldwide in support of the millions of refugees everywhere.

Where Dreams Come True

A couple weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to go to the most magical place on earth with my lovely family, Disney World. This was a treat for my nephew which made him incredibly happy. During my trip, I really got the opportunity to explore life through the eyes of a child again. It reminded me of how, as a child, I used to dream of owning the stage. Having my name all over the world and people non-stop listening to my music. As a kid, anything you think of is possible. You have absolutely nothing in your way stopping you from reaching your goals. As we grow older, unfortunately, we start to lose that ambition and start to create barriers in our minds depending on the environment we are raised in. Although I had never lost this ambition of becoming a musician,  it was just the perfect reminder I needed to strengthen my ambition and mindset with the music industry. Being in Disney World reminded me of just how exciting it is to let go of all your problems and to just run around doing every single thing that is fun and adventurous to you. It reminded me that no matter how old you get, there are still ways to go out and achieve whatever you put your mind to. I’m so happy I got to go on this adventure which gave me the opportunity to get in touch with my inner kid. Disney truly is the happiest place on Earth.

Iron Clouds

I can not begin to describe how blessed and grateful I am to have had the opportunity to release my new EP Iron Clouds out to the public today. The EP is called Iron Clouds because the contrast between iron and clouds is the same as the contrast in the music. The strength in iron represents the strength in the message behind the music while clouds are a representation of the more intelligent and emotional side of this four song EP. Iron Clouds is filled with all different type of emotions that the listener can feel and sense upon pressing play. This is a deeper insight on love, distance, hurt, and the separation of loved ones. I hope that this EP inspires people to go out and fight for what they love, let go of the things that hurt them, and live their life to their absolute fullest potential.

Here is the link for Iron Clouds now on spotify so you, too, can experience these emotions:

Backyard Sessions LA

This past Friday, I had the honor of performing and collaberating alongside the incredibly talented Mauricio Jiminez from Night Lights at Backyard Sessions in Mar Vista , LA. After Mau’s wonderful performance, I stepped onto the stage to perform a ~sneak peek~ set in anticipation for my new EP that is soon to be released. It was incredibly overwhelming watching the audience react to my set in such a joyful and energy-filled way. The key highlight to my night was when I performed “Missing Piece”. This, to me, is a very personal piece that comes from the very first day I saw my beautiful nephew after his arrival into the world. I wanted this song to speak and touch the audience with warmth and light. Reassuring them, and my nephew, that everything is going to be alright and that through music, perspectives can change. Without my audience and fans, my life would not be complete. They would be the key missing piece to my success. The fact that I got to see this message reach the physical audience in front of me last Friday, was absolutely phenomenal. I want to thank everyone who came to the Backyard Sessions  and gave Mau and myself the opportunity to perform. I would also like to thank the wonderful Alison Buck for capturing this lovely night and my accompaniment, the great Kazumi.

~*Look out for my new EP release coming soon*~

THE SPECTRUM OF GRATITUDE

I start every Friday the same way. I wake up to the sun pouring into my window, and get a glimpse of the beautiful blue skies through the blinds. I take a moment for my senses to awaken. I then give thanks for the day, and head for the kettle. Last Friday was an exceptionally beautiful day, and after I made my tea, I took headed to my back porch.

It’s a calming area, with cool, grey stone pavers and a small fountain filled with irises on the side. Fruit trees dip low, almost to the ground, and the cool California morning makes the steam roll off of my tea perfectly.

Every morning, I open up iTunes and find new music to listen to while I wait for the caffeine to kick in so I can start working. Last Friday, I was particularly excited as I came to see that Daley released his second album “Spectrum.”

As the music drifted through my speakers, I instantly I fell in love with every aspect of it—the voice, the lyrics, the production quality—but as I let myself seep into the sound, I noticed that the album made me feel something completely different.

A wave of gratitude came over me. I could feel it physically almost. I usually try to find the positives in every situation, but let’s be real. We are all complex and some days can just really take a toll on us. Financial struggles, relationship issues, career frustrations, past hurts, or simply just waking up on the wrong side of the bed, can cause interruptions to gratitude.

But that morning, as I listened to Daley, my mind began to travel down a path of deep gratitude.  I looked around me and started to become grateful for the things I have. My IPhone, speaker, coffee, house,  and even wifi connection. Awareness extended to my hands, warmed against the cool morning by my tea, and I was grateful for the cup that someone had to manufacture, the tea leaves someone had to pick. I began to dig deeper into my thoughts on what it took to get everything to this exact point. I even became grateful for the milk in my coffee. For the cow that had made the milk, the farm itself and its workers, the delivery people, the store where I’d purchased it.

Like a road with no off-ramps, my heart took me on a journey through everything involved in creating that perfect morning. My revelry lasted for an hour, and in that time my tea grew cold. I could barely move as I considered how connected we all are, how we rely on each other for everything, and most of the time, we don’t even notice it. I keep seeing that in the simplest of our everyday lives, not only are we sometimes massively ungrateful, but we often forget that we are connected to everything and that’s where the appreciation should lie. Most of the time, we are angry when we don’t have something we are used to having—wifi, air conditioning, coffee. Isn’t that the problem? Becoming used to something can lead us to ungratefulness. 

As a musician, I enjoy appreciating other’s music. I like to know what the trend is, what others are coming up with. After listening to Daleys album, I became grateful that he had nurtured his talent and creativity and expressed it to the world. I was grateful  to the musician who played on the album, to the designers, to his label for bringing it to market, to the pain and experiences, high and lows he went through to create such a beautiful piece of work. Even though I don’t know his story, I am grateful for the lives he was able to touch through his music. I was able to sit on my porch, with a cup of tea, and consume, even relish in, his very personal experiences that he has managed to write and express into a beautiful work of art.