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!

Chasing Happiness………….

I had everything I ever wanted, drove dream cars, travelled the world, people around me told me I was successful, but really, I was not very happy at all. I did what I guess a lot of people do these days in our consumer mad western society, I went out or probably more accurately went online and bought yet more stuff – I was spending money quicker than I was making it all in an attempt to buy my way to happiness, which had to be just around the corner – maybe it will come with the iPhone 8! 

 

I was living for ‘stuff’, I wonder how much living I missed out on in the pursuit of buying more stuff?

 

I had exchanged purpose for possessions, and a life without purpose is no life at all!

 

It is almost a year ago that I resigned from my amazing job as CEO of the business I co-founded and still love. It has been a slow journey towards my new growing self-awareness. I am now sure my future will be far more about serving the needs of others rather than serving myself – But that is probably for another blog as this one is about sunglasses!

 

IMG_1452

 

About 5 years ago I had laser eye surgery. One of the consequences of this was that I had no use for the 2 pairs of prescription sunglasses I owned, one “fashion” pair and one for cycling.

 

On my ongoing hunt for happiness one of the things I started to buy was sunglasses. I never bought cheap glasses and could always justify buying another pair!

 

IMG_1446Oakley Fast Jacket XL – Great pair of cycling glasses, I bought these in Leeds not long after I had the surgery done.

Ebay Link

 

 

IMG_1451Oakley Racing jackets – This really is where that madness begins – My first pair of cycling glasses are perfect, do the job, look great etc – however after crashing in stage 16 of the 2015 Tour de France, Geraint Thomas lost his old Oakley Racing Jackets. “They don’t even make them anymore”, Thomas told Velo News at the end of the race. So in the pursuit of happiness I jumped on eBay and bought a pair second hand, and paid more than when they were new!

 

IMG_1445Ray Ban aviators – Went on a trip to New Zealand where I bought myself this pair – Everybody should have a pair of aviators I thought – What a prick! Ebay Link

 

 

IMG_1449Ray Ban Clubmaster – On a trip to London I thought it a good idea to own a smart pair of glasses to wear with a suit! Ebay Link

 

IMG_1450Ray Ban Andy – Because everyone needs a Men in Black pair – These were bought in Sydney so probably cost 50% too much!

 

 

IMG_1444Ray Ban ??? – Well these are temporally misplaced! But these are to be worn with denim!!!

 

IMG_1448Oakley limited edition signed Shaun White (whoever he is) Holbrook glasses – I bought these in Manly in Sydney from the Oakley shop, I found the most attractive female member of staff and asked her to help me choose the most outrageous pair of glasses she thought I could get away with! – Double prick! Ebay Link

 

I can probably justify owning 2 pairs of sunglasses – So most of my sunglasses collection is now on eBay, 100% of the sales price will be given to Cica UK and that money will go to support people in Africa that materially have almost nothing but maybe are already closer to that elusive happiness.

 

I am on a journey towards deburdening my life of anything, stuff, thoughts, relationships that don’t bring joy to me or maybe more importantly other people around me!

 

Feel free to subscribe to my blog or Facebook page to join me on this journey as I document my self-discovery – as I stop chasing happiness and start relentlessly pursuing God’s intended purpose for my life. 

Is a £10 minimum wage a good idea?

Mary Creagh

Dear Mary Creagh

I would like to vote for you on the 8th June, I think you have been a good local MP for Wakefield.

Before I am able to vote for you, can you please clarify one of your party’s policies, in particular that of raising the minimum wage to £10 per hour.

I currently co own a small performance marketing business based in Wakefield, employing nearly 20 people.

We have 2 members of staff on minimum wages as we internally train them. With the exception of finance and tech team members, we have trained all our staff, as we are in a very niche market working internationally with no local competition, so there is no locally trained talent pool to recruit from.

So, if a Labour government is elected in June and during the parliament minimum wage goes up by 25%! Surely then everyone currently on £10 per hour needs to get a 25% pay raise too and everyone currently on £15 per hour will expect the same pay rise also?

Now, I appreciate this is a slight extreme example but lets suppose I offered each member of our team a 25% pay raise because we are fair to our staff. That would cost around £10,000 per month, and unable to pass the cost on to our customer -the only way to finance that would be to make 4 members of staff redundant, which in turn would put the whole business in serious jeopardy.

I love the sentiment of a £10 minimum wage but, is it practical? Is this policy a headline grabber to gain easy votes but will never be brought into law? Or is it the real intention of a future Labour government?

Kind regards

Paul Kemshell

Learning to manage my ego!

Paul KemshellIn March I received an email from a guy in the data industry inviting me to join a small group of guys and girls cycling to Paris in 24 hours in May. My ego immediately replied saying “hell yes!” 24 hour ride to Paris, what a great Facebook post that would be and what a great way to prove the doubters wrong! I signed up entirely for the wrong reason …….

I am hugely grateful to God that over the last couple of months I have come to understand that most of the decisions I make (made) are made by the 12 year old me! The small boy that still lives on the inside of me and because he is 12 he does not make great decisions because he does not really understand much about life and his reference points are no longer important. He makes decisions to prove other people wrong and to seek worthiness. These decisions are made for reasons like ………..

Always been picked last when sides were chosen for football in PE or the playground – I wonder if the now 41 year old team captains could ride their bikes to Paris in 24 hours? Or my history teacher in year 8 who shouted across the class room “Paul Kemshell why are you so lazy?” 12 year old dyslexics are never lazy they are just trying to come to terms with the fact their brains are wired differently – The 41 year old me even though he has run a multi million pound revenue business for a number of years still does not have the first clue when you use the word “where” or “were” – I wonder if my history teacher would still call me lazy when I arrive at the Eiffel Tower? Or the small group of school bullies who beat me up on an almost daily basis and the wider group of kids that called me “spastic” because I had to wear hideous orthopedic shoes made at the hospital because of my deformed ankle, do you fancy riding to Paris on Friday guys? I was the most uncool kid in school and even had to wait to the age of 22 to have the courage to kiss a girl.

So many of the decisions made since being 12 years old have been made to prove these people wrong, and the original motive for riding to Paris was just yet another one! So much unresolved hurt has been carried into romantic relationships and friendships alike, and innocent people have been hurt by my abrasiveness.

At 4:30am next Saturday morning deep in the Normandy countryside I will be riding my bike in the dark with guys that are turning their pedals because they are talented or because they are super fit. That will not be me and I will not really be enjoying myself excepting the fact that I know I will be deploying the gift that God has given me never to give up and just to keep going. It will be tough, because since doing the IronMan in Bolton in July last year I have only ridden my bike 5 times and only covered 192 miles! I think my bum or as a good friend of mine says “sweet cheeks” might well hurt.

Next Saturday evening I am going to drink a glass of Champagne and celebrate for the first time in nearly 30 years I now know I have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone and that the group of people that love me will not think any more or any less of me if I make it to Paris in 24 hours or not and that I am loveable just the way that I am.

Today is a new day, to be lived in a new way.

 

February 14th

Paul Kemshell
Just about to start

Having split up with my girlfriend for the final time just after Christmas, I was not hugely looking forward to Valentine’s Day! So rather than having a super unproductive day moping about and feeling sorry for myself I decided to drag my silly arse out of bed at 4:30 am and get myself to Horton-in-Ribblehead just before 7am to start the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.

It was a good forecast but good at the bottom does not mean good at the top!

I got near to the top of Pen-Y-Ghent in good time as the new dawn won the battle over the darkness of the previous night, but the wind was horrific and as I reached the snow line which coincided with the low cloud I was blown clean off my feet and landed on my back. The final ascent of Pen-Y-Ghent is a touch tricky in summer, never mind in these conditions – Maybe I could describe myself has heartbroken over what could have been, but I am certainly not suicidal…and besides, a good buddy of mine was airlifted off the same hillside 6 years earlier and found herself on Helicopter Heroes so I really did not want to be accused of copying!

I decided to return to my car as the weather promised to improve and drive to Ribblehead and just do a simple circular and take in Whernside.

On the lower slopes of Whernside, I decided it would be far better to enjoy the journey rather than thinking of punishing myself with a hard day. Forget Strava, forget PB’s and segments and just enjoy the journey.

Which I did!

That 16k walk seemed to become a metaphor for life – some bits were easy, some bits were harder, the path went up and then came down again. At one point I inadvertently stepped off the path and ended up thigh deep in a snow drift and ice slowed the journey. As I descended and visibility returned it was clear that the sun had been shining all along it had just been temporarily obstructed by the local circumstances. With clear sight of the ultimate destination (you cannot miss Ribblehead viaduct) the journey becomes easier and eventually you end up on a newly tarmacked drive way leading you home.

You might not like the circumstances you currently find yourself in, but it’s an outrageous privilege to be alive today. To quote Gary Vaynerchuck “Your mum could have reached for another glass of wine and YOU would have never been born”!

Ice on Whernside
Ice on Whernside
Paul Kemshell near the top of Whernside
Near the top of Whernside