Relentlessly Pursuing Happiness!

My Christmas Tree 2018

Christmas has always been a fun time of the year, but I would have always said: “Start thinking and celebrating Christmas on the 18th and not before!” Bar humbug!

This Christmas is the 6th Christmas since I separated from my now ex-wife and well over 6 years since I have lived full time with my wonderful Children. Divorce is a very strange thing. It is an unusual badge of failure! Every time you fill in a formal form, you have to tick a box declaring you are a divorcee – why is that? What relevance does it really have on anything? I cannot think of many things where you are often reminded, and you regularly have to declare that you have failed. However complicated or not a relationship has been, no one goes into marriage expecting to fail by ending in divorce. You never know, maybe one day I will be able to tick a different box again.

There have been many highs in the last 6 years, so many great experiences. Travelling to places like New Zealand, Brazil, China, Australia, USA & Thailand, so many great and new friendships, meaningful relationships, success in business, completing 3 Ironman triathlons, and maybe most importantly watching my two, remarkably wonderful, daughters, Emily and Noami grow 6 years older and see first hand their personalities develop, watching them blossom and start discovering themselves.

I could never describe these 6 years as a happy time, in fact, there was a strong undercurrent of unhappiness running through this period of my life, a version of me existed that I am not particularly proud of, not necessarily bad, but too self-centered. My Christian faith, (which I never fully turned my back on) became far too secondary in my life, God was an afterthought, not a forethought! I was too harsh with people that were close to me and my agenda was the only agenda that really mattered! I was far too quick to be prickly and had a tendency not to see the best in people – maybe it would be fair to say I became a bit of a grumpy old man!

During this time I turned forty and as I am naturally optimistic, realised I might only have 40 years of productive life left, so no time to waste! Was everything I was doing living out of purpose? Or was I more interested in what other people thought, trying to impress people I didn’t even really like? Maybe even living for their purpose? Was I living to buy the next sports car or designer outfit, was owning 30 pairs of expensive footwear enough? Did I really need more?

My genuine New Years Resolution, coming into 2018 was to get myself to a significantly happier place and the manifestation of this would be that I become happy enough to buy a Christmas tree! I had not had a Christmas tree for the previous six years, which looking back, reflected my state of mind. In many respects, I was burying my head in the sand and trying to ignore my own unhappiness. I had spent the last 18 months living in a house I bought and I did not even like it! I never even unpacked. A small number of friends did visit that house, but not a single dinner party was had! So a New Years Resolution of buying a Christmas tree was apt.

2018 has been a year of walking away and drawing closer, of letting go and holding on tight, on giving up and being more determined and a year of giving away and starting over.

I am now no longer the CEO, co-founder or shareholder of a successful media business and I no longer live in a house I own, but on the 1st of December 2018 (not the 18th), I put up the most beautiful 7 foot real Christmas tree in my new house. A house that must have seen over 100 different guests in the last 8 months – most of them to eat food.

There has never been a time in my life I have been happier and more grateful for the people in it! Having the best relationship with my creator and taking the time to stop and enjoy the moment, rather than constantly thinking about what’s next.

I may well have had more money in the bank when I graduated art college in 1995 than I do now and I certainly have had periods in my life when I have earned more in a month than I currently make in a year. A set of tyers for my Porsche 911, of a few years ago, used to cost me more than it cost to buy outright the 13-year-old hatchback that I currently drive. The world has its own measure for success and I have definitely dropped from the Championship to Division 2, but the truth is, I would not swop all the gold in the world’s mines for the gold I have in my life right now (I still have the desire one day to play in the Champions League – just no longer at any cost!).

2019 promises to be an exciting year – a year full of untapped opportunities and untold potential, a year of seeking first, and a year to start every day with a heart overflowing with gratitude.

My tree is my proof that 2018 has been the best year yet, but I am sure 2019 will be even better!

Running Wild

Lions run at 50 miles per hour, Cheaters run at 94 mph, there are millions of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, the most deadly animals in Kenya, Elephants are stronger than 100 men. The temperature in Kenya in June is likely to be 80 degrees. I can only run at 7 miles per hour. (Don’t worry mum……(at least not too much))

On the 8th June 2018, I fly out to Kenya as a solo traveller to join maybe 50 other guys and girls, 25 of us are taking part in a “wild” marathon in the heart of Kenya, taking in open country and townships alike.

I like a challenge! Chatting with a couple of fundraising managers, there is a real issue with compassion fatigue, and everyone knows someone, who has run a marathon these days, people need to do more outlandish things to catch people’s attention. Me, I am just looking for a PB! The thought of being chased by a lion might: A: Make me run faster, B: Make a most excellent Instagram post or C: put me out of my misery!

Everyone taking part in the challenge is paying their own way, so all the money raised does go to fund the work of the charity.

It’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be challenging and it will change the lives of a handful of children for the better and will last a lifetime!

I am running to raise money for Compassion, a remarkable charity that changes lives of children. Find out more.

Poverty is a thief. It robs children of the right to grow up strong and healthy. It steals their time to play and denies them the chance to sit in a classroom and learn and prevents them accessing health care.

But you can change this. Sponsor a child with Compassion and bring them hope and a future!

I am looking for 15 more people to sponsor a child; I know its a huge ask! £25 per month is a lot of money, but its also less than 1 and a bit coffee’s per week at Starbucks, and as much as we all love a coffee, this £25 will allow a child to go to school, access healthcare and vocational training, giving them a sense of community. If you have children or grandchildren the exchange of letters between you and your sponsored child will be worth every penny of the sponsorship, to teach your little person that people are precious, and that our bad days are often better than millions of less fortunate people’s best days, we always have food to eat, a roof over our head, and someone to love us!

Please, just take a moment, before you say no, this is your chance to change the world; for at least one person and their family. Find a friend and share the cost, find four friends, and you will never even notice it.

I am looking for some heroes, to give something out of their plenty to someone who has absolutely nothing!

I am going to enjoy Kenya; I am going to enjoy the journey, I am going to enjoy getting fitter! I am not an athlete; I am not even a runner, I’m just a lazy fat lad that always got picked last! Just let me prick your conscience into helping someone less fortunate than you……….Let’s change the world, one person at a time!

To sponsor a child please follow this link

https://challenges.compassionuk.org/profile/496/paul-kemshell

Daddy’s letter to his 13-year-old daughter

Darling Emily

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love you, how proud I am of you, how wonderful I truly think you are.

A couple of weeks ago you broke my heart when you told me you started wearing makeup because you believed you were ugly!

Who says you are ugly? You are not, but I know I would say that! I know there are 1000 voices shouting in 2018. There are 7.6 billion people alive today not everybody can be Miley Cyrus or Victoria Justice. With Instagram and Snapchat the world has become smaller. Facetune and Retouch Me along with many companies and brands are selling lies dressed up as dreams, fakeness and falsehood all-round. ‘Perfect’ simply does not exist. Beauty really is in diversity.

All day long I would swap you getting A & B in your GCSE’s for D & E if you knew how to love yourself and believe in yourself. Adults call it ‘self-esteem’.

I don’t have a problem with makeup, but please don’t let it become a mask you hide behind. Most people in reality hide behind some sort of mask.

I was badly bullied most days at school by people I even often called friends. I struggled with being dyslexic; teachers called me thick and lazy. I built a virtual wall to hide behind. I treated people harshly and with abruptness, subconsciously trying to get in first with hurtful behaviour because they were only going to hurt me anyway, or so I believed!

Some of the bricks in my wall were sports cars, designer clothes and working hard. Trying to prove to myself I was not the thing people told me I was and to find a sense of belonging and purpose. If people tell you long enough you are ‘no good’ its hard not to believe it!

It took me to the age of 41 to truly realize I have nothing to prove to anyone, and that I am loveable. I found my life when I laid it down. I want to be the first to love, to be generous with my time, my talents and my treasure, rather than being defensive and always holding people at arm’s length. People are precious, very precious.

As you live through the super complicated next 13 years of your life and become a young adult, turn your back on what society says, love with arms open wide, let your soul breathe. Love the bully, love the person that calls you a name, love the person that puts you down, love the person that says you can’t. They only say and do these things because they are hurting and are broken on the inside. Unfortunately hurting people cannot help but hurt others.

Most importantly of all Emily, love yourself, you are beautifully and wonderfully made. You have a Dad and Mum that love you very much, you have a younger sister that adores you and wants to be just like you and a heavenly Father that weeps over you.

You are filled with untold potential and possibilities. There is nothing you cannot achieve or be or do; you are only limited by your own dreams and the depth of your self belief. As your dad and your number one fan, I would far rather see you as a flat broke barista working in a coffee shop, but knowing how to give and receive love because you are secure in yourself, rather than a hotshot lawyer, teacher, or doctor but all dried up on the inside, like I was until recently.

Go and shine Emily, let the beauty on the inside of you shine brighter than the beauty on the outside of you and when you have finished loving, be brave and love some more!

All my love

Daddy xxx

Published with Emily’s permission

If the sun does not get me, a lion might..

Laying in my tent at the One-Event in August, trying to make sense of the day and longing to be enveloped by sleep! It was my 42nd birthday the next day. This was the weekend all my dreams were supposed to come true; my 1st September deadline for a breakthrough was close at hand. It was clear through my fragile hope had been shattered. The truth was that 300m square patch of planet earth was literally the last place on earth I wanted to be! Everything in the world I wanted was so close at hand but so very very far away!

I hate self-pity but found myself up to my neck in it!

Early that day I was chatting with a charity leader who told me about an organisation 4Muk that organise slightly more extreme challenges. I had also visited the Compassion Experience, Compassion is the globals biggest child sponsorship charity, and I had learnt more about their amazing work.

I find the best way to tackle self-pity is to look for a way to impact people who really have justification to have self-pity, and I certainly have no right to feel sorry for myself, EVER!

I googled 4Muk from my sleeping bag and found to my surprise they were running an event in partnership with Compassion. A wild marathon in the heart of Kenya, a self-funding charity race with a fundraising commitment of £10,000. I fired off a couple of emails to both 4M and Compassion and fell asleep with a gentle sense of excitement. Waking up with the sun I decided not to wait for the replies to my emails, but I was just going to go ahead and pay the deposit and get booked in. I love living out of instinct and heart rather than thought out head decisions!

So on the 8th June 2018, I am running my second marathon, London Marathon 2016 was an amazing day, but I guess not nearly as exciting as standing on a start line in Marigat with maybe 30 other slightly crazy individuals (there are others walking and biking).

What will Kenya’s heat, altitude, townships, wildlife be really like? Do we carry our own water? How do we find our way, it hardly closed roads in the centre of London!

My 26 plus miles will be over in a few hours; memories will last, legacy could be eternal. I am committed to finding sponsors for ten precious children. Because I am outrageously blessed and know lots of generous people, I want to find sponsors for 25 children. For the cost of a chocolate bar per day, YOU can feed, educate, provide health care and stability for children and often a whole family, who has almost nothing. I know its a huge ask but that Child could grow up to lead their country, to follow in Desmon Tutu’s footstep, to be a teacher or a nurse looking after their community or simply a young man or woman who grows up knowing that there is someone out there that cares!

https://challenges.compassionuk.org/profile/496/paul-kemshell

If you have children or grandchildren that exchange of letters between you and your sponsored child will be worth every penny of the sponsorship, to teach your little person that people are precious, and that our bad days are often better than millions of less fortunate people’s best days, we always have food to eat, a roof over our head, and someone to love us!

At this festive season can I ask you to be outrageously generous? Will you be one of the 25 heroes I am looking for, to take a little bit of your plenty and sow it into someone that has nothing, zero, zilch?

You could follow the link and sponsor me £5 or even £50 which I would be very grateful for, but, that would mean you miss out on the opportunity to change the world, maybe not the whole world, but the world of another human and their family.

As Nike would say “Just Do It.”

I feel guilty for lying in my tent feeling sorry for myself; I long for this to be true “So let my life be the proof, The proof of your love.”

Are you in?

https://challenges.compassionuk.org/profile/496/paul-kemshell

One of my most favourite bible verses is Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

https://challenges.compassionuk.org/profile/496/paul-kemshell

Enjoying the journey

This has been the best year ever; well at least from a training/exercise perspective!

I was never hugely into running or keeping fit for that matter, but Christmas time 2013, I thought I should get a grip! Without much in the way of consideration I signed up to my first Triathlon – which just happened to be an IronMan nine months later in September of 2014!

I was nearly three stones overweight and had never run further than 10k (which I had only done once before). Only able to swim breaststroke, I had some work to do. A lot of work to do. Too much in fact!

So, for the next nine months I ate and drank less (a lot less) and started my training and with three distinct disciplines you need to train around nine times per week for an IronMan triathlon.

In September 2014 I did it, I completed my first IM. It was an incredibly painful experience but came with an amazing sense of achievement.  I certainly didn’t enjoy the journey though – especially the volume of training! So for the rest of 2014 I did not exercise once and ate and drank all I flipping wanted! Big mistake, feast or famine.

So, I went back to square one. Christmas 2014 I signed up for my second IM and 2015 followed the same pattern as 2014, and so did 2016 except when I completed my 3rd long distance triathlon, this one in the UK. I only had one month off from being ‘sensible’ as I didn’t want to throw away all my hard work three years running.

In 2017 I entered nothing longer than a half marathon. This year has been so much more enjoyable than the previous three years with no huge training commitment. I have simply enjoyed the journey, enjoyed learning to love running, getting up with the sunshine and have enjoyed just feeling alive! My weight has been more stable and I’ve loved living in my thin wardrobe rather than my fat one!

But its now time for a new challenge…

Using the “C” word

Paul & Chris KemshellIt is 8:29 pm Friday 8th September. Just got home, busy day! Work, kids, future plans, money, regrets, house sales, a head full of thoughts.


8:30 pm my younger brother calls, he tells me he has cancer, and it has advanced and passed into a secondary area of his body! It seems, for just a moment that the world has stopped spinning. What I considered important 30 seconds earlier suddenly has become totally irrelevant – my poor brother, and what about his wife…his kids? The youngest has just started school this week. What about Mum and Dad? This seems so tough.

 

Then the world starts spinning again; I can not even imagine how hard it must be for people that don’t have faith in something bigger than what we can see.

 

Surprisingly the overwhelming emotion is that of gratitude and thankfulness and a desire to make every moment count.  There is so much in my life that I need to be grateful for, including my brother and his family!

 

8:42 pm wished my brother good night, and we prayed together.

 

People are precious, and with a heavy heart, I think of times I have wronged people, where I was too abrasive or did not see the best in them, even put them down or let them down, or simply did not do what I said I would do. I wish I could turn back the clock and do things differently, but I can’t! We can’t! I think back to the schoolyard rhyme “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.” But bones heal………..

 

In a funny sort of way, this has been a special week. I drove down with my kids for a couple of hours to see my brother, and we just hung out. We have spoken a couple of times each day on the phone just checking in on each other. Normally I could go a few weeks without talking to him. Why does it take a crisis to focus on what is important?

 

In very simple terms cancer is a cell in our body that gets damaged, and that starts to reproduce more and more damaged cells overpowering our healthy cells.

 

It’s so easy to infect ourselves with virtual “cancer” of the heart, by holding on to hurt, unresolved bitterness and pain. We are not beholden to our past, and we are not defined by our mistakes or the people that have hurt us. Life is simply too short, and people are too precious not to live life, loving, with arms opened wide!

 

I am believing my God for a miracle, a miracle that gives me 40 more years walking with my brother. But, if it’s 4 weeks, or 4 months or 4 years I hope to remain grateful for what I have had, rather than what, I might have lost. I guess like me; you are not one of the 1 billion people on this amazing planet of ours that live on less than $1 per day. Let’s not race to the bottom in self-pity, but increase our love for those who have it worse than us.


As part of your life seems to go up in flames, it might just be the smoke signal needed to attract heavens blessings.

Walking into your healing

21 months ago (November 2015) I was in Sydney Australia, that particular Monday morning I woke up to 3 voicemails from my sister Annette:

  1. Mum is not so well, don’t worry but I think you should know.
  2. We are taking Mum to hospital give us a ring as soon as you get this message.
  3. Mum is going into theatre for brain surgery in a few hours, I think you need to get on the next plane home.

It happened that quickly, mum had an innocent ear infection that burnt through her skull and started eating away at her brain!

Are you ready for what might happen tomorrow?

36 hours later I arrived in a hospital waiting room in Leeds.

 

For the next 14 days we watched Mum make no progress, expected milestones were never met, mum would just not wake up. The fact was mum had zero response to any test her doctors performed on her.

Intensive care is a surprisingly calm place, it’s a place of work for 7 highly skilled nurses, 2 orderlies, 1 doctor and numerous different consultants in and out all times of the day and night looking after just 6 patients! It’s a place where 6 lives are held in the balance between life and death and dozens of close family members are forced to put their lives on pause, hold their breath and hope that their loved ones will be one of the lucky ones that pull through!

Everyone that cared for mum on that ward was simply brilliant but it was clear their hope was beginning to fade for mum.

Mum urgently needed a procedure to cut an air and feeding vent in her throat, the problem would be that once this was done mum might be able to stay alive without fully waking up and she could be condemned to being “locked in” or in a permanent vegetative state. Friday morning we sat down with mum’s brain surgeon and the neuro rehab consultant to talk about turning mum’s life support machine off. It was decided Tuesday would be the day.

Faith produces HOPE and HOPE produces PEACE.

The response of our remarkable dad, who having had a discussion about unplugging his world was simply to say ‘let’s keep praying!’

A few hours later mum started to wake up.

Me with my younger brother and sister in 1980 doing the family walk

As a family, we love Swaledale in Yorkshire. Four generations of my family have holidayed there, and other than playing in the stream at Cogden Bridge the highlight is always the walk between Muker and Keld, affectionally known as the “family walk”!

Before mum opened her eyes and started talking again we talked around her hospital bed about doing the “family walk” with mum again – God had not finished with Mum yet, it was not time for her yet!

Mum spent 120 days in hospital, 18 in intensive care, 10 on a high dependency ward, 60 days in Leeds then another 60 in Dewsbury.

This week (August 2017) we had a family holiday in Swaledale, guess what we did……….?

It is true to say mum is not yet strong enough yet to do the whole of the walk but the first mile or so is nice and flat out of Muker.  It was a remarkable day to see her there. As a family, we are incredibly grateful, to God and the medics for the progress that has been made!

It is also true to say, Mum has lost a significant portion of her brain, she has lost a great deal of strength down one side, her balance is not what it once was and her dress sense of gone to pot! But -there is so much she has not lost, and I believe God has not finished with her yet either!

Within 12 months we could make it all the way to Keld.

Mum, please, keep moving, keep pushing yourself, keep believing, all things are possible for our God!