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I intended to write this over a week ago, yet with coronavirus affecting so many lives it feels somewhat irresponsible for me to ask for anything. This is magnified by the fact that there are truly, many people in greater need than me in this moment. For most of my life, asking for help has been extremely difficult for me. I have been very successful to this point using an attitude and approach of independence and autonomy. However, in recent years I have become increasingly aware of the limitations of my individuality. Therefore, as part of my practice and healing, I will take this opportunity to ask, to express this need, without expecting anything. I may even express it again, and differently, in the future.

And I would be remiss if I did not share that until this point I have received an abundance of support: fresh meals, cards, rides, packages, sweet messages, financial support and so much more. However, as I prepare for the journey of the next months, I know I will be ever more reliant on you.

Here is where I am, currently. As many of you know I have lived very humbly for the last 10 years, since retiring from IBM and corporate America in 2009. Decent investments and a modest lifestyle have allowed me to live the lifestyle I have desired, focusing my energies on my internal world, meditation, relationships, sexuality, yoga and small communities. I earned very little, I kept expenses low and used savings as-needed. I lived in monasteries, in bungalows and friends’ basements along the way. I cashed in many hard in frequent flyer miles to cover those transoceanic flights.

At the start of 2020 I started looking for work – for two reasons. One, I decided I needed to include more routine and human connection into my life. And two, my savings account is steadily approaching zero as the expenses related to living in the U.S. accelerate. Working is not an option right now, for several reasons. Primarily because remaining unemployed enables me to continue use Medicaid insurance for my cancer treatment. As far as costs go, I never see a bill, but my understanding is that the sticker price for all the diagnostics and 6-cycle chemotherapy is between $300,000 – $400,000. I am grateful every single day that I am receiving this benefit from the government, and more fundamentally to YOU (everyone currently paying taxes in the US – Medicaid is funded 50/50 from state & federal funds). There are many individuals out there today making decisions about whether to pursue treatment or to feed their families. I cannot imagine the immensity of this struggle. All of this to say that I do recognize my fortunateness, my privilege and luck in this situation.

Finally, as I spoke about in my Two Hearts post last month, something I have been overlooking, despite being a warm and kind being, very capable of love and care, is in fact my inability to receive that very same love and care from others and the world. To deeply, fully, profoundly receive it. Therefore, with deep humbleness I ask for your continued support and love throughout this healing journey.

Here is how to help:

1. Meals and Groceries:

My wonderful friend Nikki has organized a meal train that has had a group of committed friends dropping of wonderful meals and snacks each day. Some people are cooking, others are ordering takeout from local restaurants. I worry that this small group may need extra support during my 5 months of treatment. If you live around Boulder and like cooking, please consider signing up! Also, it costs about $25 for a good, healthy meal to be delivered from a local restaurant, so if you live far away and still want to support me in this, please see option #5 on how to send $ to buy a meal.

This is the link to the meal train: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/z1q9eo

2. Complementary and Alternative Care:

As I move through the process of chemotherapy, it is critical that I support it with alternative healing modalities like massage, acupuncture, supplements, etc. Due to coronavirus, the oncological clinic I was visiting has closed down and I am seeking outside and much more expensive support. Throughout these months I plan to visit integrated, holistic healers and doctors, which will not be covered by insurance. As I move towards the end of my treatment in June/July, I will prepare for a series of detoxes and alternative healing to fully support and quicken my recovery.

3. Local Support (Rides and Errands):

If you live in Boulder and can support me by running errands like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, or potentially giving me rides to the healing center for my treatments, please let me know and share your mobile # with me. My friend Mary Kathryn has organized a text-message group for exactly this purpose.

4. Mail:

I absolutely love receiving things in the mail – cards, photographs, flowers, snacks, boxes, postcards from around the world. Anyone who sends me a wig or a hat I promise to wear it and send you some pictures.

If you have the time and inclination to send anything to me, you can trust that this will absolutely brighten my day in an instant! My address is:

Keith McGuinnes

410 S 38th St.

Boulder, CO 80305

U.S.A.

5. Financial Support:

If you have the desire to support #1 or #2, or wish to send financial support for me to use on anything in my process, please consider sending your support via PayPal or Venmo. Amazon gift cards are also very helpful. If you are specifically sending money for a meal or acupuncture or anything specific, please say so in the notes and I will apply it appropriately!

Venmo App : @Keith-McGuinnes (last 4 digits 8495)

https://venmo.com/Keith-McGuinnes

PayPal Transfer:  paypal.me/KeithMcGuinnes

(Be sure to choose a friends & family transfer – otherwise Paypal deducts a 5% fee if you choose Donation or Paying for Goods or Service)

E-mail Address: kmcguinnes@gmail.com

6. Love, Support, Blessing, & Prayers:

Most importantly of all I ask you to continue to keep me in your thoughts, to continue sending healing energy my way. If you pray or meditate regularly, please include me in these. If you have an altar and can offer a candle or a flower to your higher power on behalf of my healing, please do.

And please continue to shower me with supportive WhatsApp, Facebook and E-mail messages. I love receiving photographs, music, poems, and anything else inspirational.

With Love and Gratitude,
Keith

Bowing

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Hi All – I’ll be hosting a synchronized spring equinox meditation this evening. Join for all or part of it if you can!

This is an auspicious time and day in which our intentions and wishes that were planted and have been germinating within the previous season have the potential to burst forth in wild, optimistic color. Let’s dedicate this meditation to the healing and wellbeing of the planet and all beings.

Find somewhere to sit quietly with distractions set aside. This can even be done in bed (as you’ll see it’s very late/early in many time zones). Meditate however you wish, connecting first to yourself, then to each other, eventually to the entire planet. ‘See’ you there.

The exact moment of the equinox is 21:49 on March 19th in Colorado, so the meditation will be from:

21:25 to 22:13 MST

A few other time zones:

March 19

20:25 – 21:13 PST

22:25 – 23:13 CST

23:25 – 00:13 EST

March 20

4:24 – 5:13 (Europe)

5:25 – 6:13 (Israel)

10:25 – 11:13 (Thailand)

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As I attempted a short walk today I was contemplating the overload of information that has poured into me these recent days. I’m calling it corona brain syndrome (or CBS). Many people are writing about the different opportunities that are coming with this pandemic such as slowing down, getting outside, spending time more with family, and getting in shape. Do you really need a pandemic for this? I applaud the people who are on the optimistic side of this thing. Yet there is an even more fundamental opportunity here – to deeply examine long held patterns and beliefs around attachment, health, self and other. I hope to use CBS over the coming days and weeks to explore these themes for myself.

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Today I was contemplating the difficult choices that governments and individuals are making and the trade offs between these choices. In today’s news that ranges from lock it all down to live life as you always have and everywhere in between. Only time will tell who made the best choices with the limited information we have. We will analyze our individual and political choices for years to come. YET, what I am asking now is slightly more subtle: Wherever we fall on this lock down / isolation spectrum, WHAT is it that we are protecting, saving, etc. though the locking down, isolating or quarantining? 

I think the default, unexamined answer is simply physical life. Being alive is assumed to be better than dying or being dead. I agree with this, most of the time! However, is this physical organism really the most important thing to protect? It’s an old question that our illness and death-averse society has avoided for a long time. Now I’m not arguing against the plans of those who can stay home alone or with their families for a week or two. This seems like a prudent, wise choice right now, one that is rather selfless and in the interest of the greater good. On the other side, I have one friend who advocates for letting the elderly and immunocompromised fare for themselves- Darwinian warfare!

But what if, our government’s decree that we need to isolate for a month, for two, for four…  Let’s assume in a perfect world we didn’t have to consider financial concerns and this was possible for everyone. Then we might have to ask ourselves what does it mean to be alive – is breathing and eating and procreating enough? Or might we need some meaning in our lives? Let’s not wait until we are forced to ask this question. I will leave you with a hypothetical choice to grok:  You have a near-death experience and and your guide at the end of the tunnel tells you that it’s not your time yet, you need to go back to the world but you have a couple of choices for your remaining time:

      CHOICE 1:  5 years of life, healthy, routine, unexciting.

      CHOICE 2:  1 month of life, also rather routine and unexciting – but touched by one very particular moment of ecstasy – be it falling in love, seeing the divine, experiencing a union with cosmos.

I’m not sure if this is a fair question – but your answer may say a lot about your current state of mind!

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Release

And the final letting go into Boulder Creek on a beautiful spring day (Thank you Steve Solga for capturing the moment!)

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I just finished my second week in the healing center and my second 5-day dose of chemotherapy treatment. I desire to share more about this week- how I’m feeling and what’s next, but as I sit to write, the mind and body resist. For now, enjoy this, which actually happened last weekend.

My spirit is good. Love to you all.

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Today I woke up feeling very heavy, sad and emotional. This comes as a surprise, as my last week was very positive from a health standpoint. I have had very few side effects and my energy has been as good as its been in months. The cough that led me down this road in the first place is completely gone, indicating to me that my tumor has already shrunk significantly from my first round of chemotherapy.

Then why the melancholy? I’m not sure exactly. I’m writing here to explore this. I think it has something to do with a sort of false taste of freedom that I received this week. I went to a couple of social events, I managed to go skiing for a couple of hours, I didn’t have to visit the healing center and I didn’t have to ingest a single pill. On Monday, of course, this will all change as I begin my second cycle of chemotherapy.

I eased up on my strict dietary requirements a bit – my metabolism has gone through the roof and I’m eating 3000+ calories a day and seemingly always hungry. Its a bit hard to feel nourished on purely a macrobiotic diet. I didn’t go as far as eating ice cream, although I did stand at the freezer door at the supermarket in contemplation for a minute or two.

I think I have allowed myself to be in denial of what’s going on for me, embracing normalcy this week. And I know you will all say that is a good thing, enjoy it while you can!  And I agree – this was truly a bonus week for me, as all expectations that I would be weak and quarantined were misguided.

Another aspect I’m sitting with was that I was supposed to fly to Thailand last week. My plan was to co-teach a couple of workshops and enjoy a break on the island where many of my close friends still live. I’m still on the e-mail threads as these workshops go on without me. The momentum I have created towards facilitating authentic relating workshops was basically cut off at the knees. No more prison trips or workshop facilitation for a while. This touches on a bigger theme for me – not being able to do what I want, when I want. I know this is a false idea anyway, yet somehow in my life I’ve managed to stay in strong control of my destiny and choices. And this healing process is a gift and opportunity to look at the absurdity of individual freedom as a guiding principle in life, yet right now its loss just feels crappy!

And last night, my first big chunk of hair came out. It felt significant. I have been pondering this potential hair loss since my diagnosis. Initially I was surprised at how much emphasis the doctors and nurses put on this aspect (there are expensive means to attempt to keep your hair during chemo), because I have shaved my head in the past and becoming an actual monk in this lifetime is not that far-fetched of an idea for me. However, I now see and feel the significance of one’s hair falling out versus the choice to remove it. And even though I am writing openly and publicly about my situation, at this point when I’m in public, my appearance doesn’t give me away as someone different (this will depend a bit on whether my eyebrow hair also falls out which isn’t as certain as the hair on my head!).

Well dear reader, thank you for listening to my big blaaaaaaaah! this morning. Writing is very therapeutic for me, and knowing how many of you are reading this and cheering for me allows me to feel very connected just in act of publishing this.

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Today I picked up six prescriptions at the pharmacy. I have not cumulatively picked up that many in the last ten years. I received a flu shot (those that know me know how needle resistant I am!), and tomorrow morning I’ll have one of these pretty little gadgets surgically installed into my chest. I haven’t even shared much about the bloodwork, heart testing, meetings and consultations I’ve been through this week. Monday morning I’ll be sitting in the cancer center receiving my first dose of chemotherapy, which will initiate the next step in my healing journey.

Can one ever be ready for something like this? I doubt it. I considered tip-toeing in order to delay my start by one week, however the advice I received and my own intuition all pointed to starting as soon as possible. Sitting with the anxiety and unknowns of the treatment is probably worse than the treatment itself.

My father flies out on Saturday to be with me for the first week. I have a crew in place to help with meals and extra rides, and and as far as I can tell, nothing else is preventing me from beginning.

After my meltdown post on Tuesday, I received some very, very powerful, healing and support energy from so many of you. I continue to be deeply touched and infinitely grateful for what all that I am receiving. One friend guided me in a visualization healing journey connecting with spirit, an unveiling process that I will speak to soon, as it impacted me profoundly.

To be a Sufi is to give up all worries and there is no worse worry than yourself. When you are occupied with self you are separated from God. The way to God is but one step: the step out of yourself.

                                               ~Abu Sa id ibn Abi-L-Khayr

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