Britt + Wil: Art Collided

It’s a rarity to meet someone as enchanting as Wil Munny. Over the last six months, I have had the privilege of not only joining artistic forces with Wil, but also managed to make a great friend in the process.

Wil’s passion and eye for the arts is keen, rousing and raw-edged, as he’s brought diversified subject matters and people to the forefront of his creative ability through the camera lens. His artistic expressions become a narrative for the soul and Wil’s genuine flair is as contagious as it comes.

After a few coffee dates in Downtown Phoenix, Wil aided me out of a creative funk and provided another platform for me to share my journey with cancer and the positive aspects, which strengthen my attempt to bring awareness to young adult cancer.

Not a single one of his efforts is done for praise or admiration, but rather an attempt to make the world a better place, one photograph at a time. We share a similar passion for all mediums of art, as well as a sense of community for Downtown Phoenix, which is the natural backdrop for our photo session together.

Please take the time to check out Wil’s beautiful art at www.WilMunny.com and my story that is coupled with his work.

And, to “ART”, thank you for bringing Wil and I together — what a privilege it is to be able to practice self-expression and CREATE.

If you are in the Phoenix area, check out Wil’s work live and get a chance to meet him (you won’t regret it, promise). *Details of show:  Eye Lounge from August 21st through September 13th, 2015.

Here are snaps of our photo session — don’t forget to check out the rest on Wil’s site!

Love, Britt x

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#2 “Cancerversary” Q & A:

#2 Cancerversary

Upon my #2 year “cancerversary” I reflected upon the journey with some Q&A:

Q: What makes you smile these days?

A: Air conditioning first and foremost, but otherwise it’s just the simple things; a funny text, a song on the radio that triggers a lovely memory and of course the fact that I am lucky enough to get the summer free from chemo. A break from treatment has left a permanent smile on my face.

Q: Did you learn anything in your second year of battling cancer?

A: YES! Not all things are fair, but that is the nature of life. I’ve realized that I am here on a spiritual journey and if I’m open, l will see the beautiful lessons all around. But most of all, I’ve learned to accept my defeats and try to grow from them instead of letting them control me in a negative way.

Q: What has been your most memorable moment in the last year?

A: Ah! There are too many, this last year has been so good to me. I’d say my most precious moment was when I was in Liverpool with my Nan and a street violinist played, “You are my Sunshine” and my Nan sang it word for word to me. It was an emotional, raw moment that I’ll never forget.

Q: What have you done to make your life less stressful?

A: I’ve stuck to my zero bullshit tolerance. I often walk on such a fine line of being content and depressed and in order to remain on the positive side of things I’ve learned that I need to protect myself. It’s a challenge.

Q: Are you carrying any excess baggage into your third year as a cancer patient?

A: No. I’d say I am in a pretty great place; my tumor markers are at an all time low, my body is getting stronger each day and I am focusing on my mental health constantly. I’m also creatively in a good place, with a lot of different projects in the works.

Q: Is there anyone that deserves a big “THANK YOU”?

A: Anyone that has given me love, encouragement and support over the last two years. I always feel the love.  Steve and my Nan are saints and I can never thank them both enough, especially.

Q: What are your top three goals for the next year?

A: Obviously first and foremost is to try and stay as healthy as possible, with the thought that my terminal illness is not a death sentence and try to live as normally as I can. I’d also like to put a lot of energy into my creative power, publish the book that I am co-authoring and manifest a steadfast voice for cancer patients and survivors.

Q: What has the biggest lesson been so far with having cancer?

A: Sometimes painful things can teach us the most beautiful lessons. I’ve seen people’s true colors, as well as my own and I’ve realized that peace really does have to come from within.

Q: What are your fears?

A: Letting fear win. Once fear enters the mind, it takes over the body and I can’t afford to let that happen.

Q: What have you struggled with in the last year that you want to change?

A: Communication was my biggest struggle this year. I have a tendency to be such a loner and keeping up with people and connecting sometimes takes a lot of energy for me. But, I realize the significance of my relationships and I’d like to be able to reciprocate my time and energy more often and freely. It is so important.

Q: What can you do today that you were not capable of a year ago?

A: TRAVEL! A year ago I was on travel lockdown and too sick to pack up and go. This year I’ve managed to travel and it’s been bliss! My two biggest trips were Hawaii with Steve and the UK with my Nan. My world opened up again this year and changed me forever.

Q: What word best describes the way you’ve spent the last year of your life?

A: Transparent.

Q: In one year from today, how do you think your life will be different?

A: Hopefully my cancer will still be in a manageable place, where I can continue to have a quality of life. Second to that, I hope to get published and see the book lined on shelves for everyone to read. High hopes, always!

Q: Are there any issues from the cancer that you continually avoid to talk about?

A: Yes, the dynamic that takes place with family members when cancer is in the mix. Those you think would be there aren’t always able to show up for you and it is difficult to accept. So far the thing I hate most about cancer is what it can do to a family.

Q: What is something that no one, not even cancer can take away from you?

A: Writing. At times cancer can take away my will to live, but writing let’s me bleed and reminds me that I am alive.

Q: When you look into the past, before your diagnosis, what do you miss the most?

A: Pre-cancer me is such a stranger now. I miss feeling young, wild and free. Cancer can feel like a trap at times and my body feels ancient.

Q: What is the #1 change you need to make in your life for the next 12 months?

A: Let go of what I can’t change. I think that’s a quote, but accepting change is what I need to change.

Q: What have you learned about yourself in the last two years that you have been a cancer patient?

A: I’m pretty fu*kin strong!  Also, the importance of mental health — it can be so tricky!

Q: What is one thing right now that you are totally sure of?

A: That you can never really be sure of anything.

Q: What question do you often ask yourself?

A: Where is my mind? I sing it to myself though, like the Pixies.

Q: Time or money?

A: Time, it’s priceless.

Q: What is your wish for the next year of your life?

A: Happiness.

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I F*CKING LOVE MY GIRLFRIENDS!

WHO RUNS THE WORLD

If you drink too much, cuss too much and have questionable morals, you are probably my friend. Okay, all jokes aside, I don’t take the time often enough to say “I F*CKING LOVE MY GIRLFRIENDS!” and the thing is, I do. I’ve always been one of those lucky ducks when it comes to friends, whether past or present, I’ve always had solid girlfriends of all shapes, sizes and opinions. Absolutely there have been a few sour apples in the mix, but the rest of the batch has been unmatched.

After going through the trenches of cancer for the past two years, I realize that I have not been the greatest girlfriend in return. I’m notorious for forgetting to respond to text messages, I make plans and bail and even sometimes become self consumed with my own, crazy life that I don’t spend enough time expressing interest in yours. Yet all the while, without a doubt I still get love and you never fail to leave me off the invite list, even though you know I most likely won’t leave my house (((because, because))) and we can go days, weeks, months and even at times a whole year without spending more than an hour together, but at the drop of a hat I know you’d be there.

This one is for my girls;

Thank you for keeping it real when I have a tendency to do the most ridiculous things or have the most outlandish ideas. I come to you because I know you are wise and honest and will always have my best interest at heart.

To my friends that are now Mom’s — GOD BLESS YOU! None of you will ever truly know how in awe I am of you. I can barely remember to brush my hair and take my crazy pills and yet you manage to not only take the best care of your kid(s), but you also look crazy beautiful and effortless while doing it. I endlessly praise you!

To my friends who have traveling souls, you may not realize this but as a cancer patient I live vicariously. I have been very fortunate to be able to travel even going to Hawaii and the UK just this year, but it’s difficult due to energy levels, treatments, etc. It’s so lovely to see photos or hear stories of your travels, its beautiful to see the thirst people have for adventure and living life to its fullest and the way you see the world is wildly contagious and inspiring.

To all my #Girlboss friends out there, no matter what profession you are in, you work damn hard and deserve it all. Your insane ability to manage squillions of things at once and be on point as a friend is beyond me. Get it!

The fearless friends that hone in on things they love to do and put effort into practicing their craft. With having the attention span of a fly and the energy of a snail, the fact that, unlike me, you take the time to run a marathon or belly dance at the nearest coffee shop means you took the time to learn something, to better yourself and immerse yourself into your passions. How truly motivating, I mean, really.

My point is, I’ve been blessed with friends from all ends of the earth and all walks of life. We may not talk everyday or laugh over brunch and a mimosa(sss) on a regular basis, but in some way you all do what you do and still manage to be a brilliant friend. So, I guess what I am trying to say is, THANKS. On days that are a bit darker than others, I can still smile knowing that I can call the most kick ass babes, my friends.

Cheers, GIRLS!

Love, Britt x

A BROAD, ABROAD WITH A BLOG, ✈

Hello, my shining moonbeams. It’s been a minute. Within that minute I have entered what I feel to be a new phase in my life, a freeing phase that is catapulted by happiness. For nearly a month, I spent time across the pond and rediscovered my life and the things I want out of it.

To start off, wow. Can I just say – I LOVE ENGLAND! I’ve always known that and I had been there times before, but this time felt different. As most of you know, if you follow my story, I have been on travel lock down since my cancer diagnosis in the summer of 2013. By nature I am a jetsetter. I enjoy being in unknown places, without being attached to my “real” life and the troubles within. When I travel, there is a certain romance to it, a freedom that allows you to be whomever you want and for me, that is living without a terminal illness. I’m able to go back to being me; an adventurer with thirst in my blood for worldly experiences. When I was diagnosed, I felt that one of the biggest losses to having cancer was the fact that I could no longer be as free as I wished to be. My citizen of the world passport would no longer apply and I’d be stuck doing treatment after treatment without an escape. My escape had become writing. If I were no longer going to be able to leave and experience life, then I’d write about it, which I have.

This year, 2015, I vowed to myself that it would be different than the last two, that I would yet again spread my wings and live a little. In the beginning of the year I approached my Doctor and pleaded for some independence from my chemotherapy week after week, to which she obliged and advised that 2015 could be my year of travel with chemo squeezed in between. It was the best news I had heard in quite some time and immediately booked a trip to Hawaii with Steve-O and planned the trip for Nan and I go travel to the UK together to attend my beautiful cousin’s wedding and share laughs and love with the family over there that we don’t get to see often enough.

The trip was so important to me and I wanted to ensure that I soaked everything in. My Nan in her very own way was my wish-granting factory, as she made the trip happen. Being that we were returning to her home town, I was fortunate enough to visit her previous homes, where she grew up, the house she was born in, the hospital she had my Mum and Auntie Bev in, where my Granddad went to college, where the two of them were married and so much more. Being able to experience England through her eyes was more than my hearts desire and something I will never be able to thank her enough for.

There were endless amounts of stories, laughs, fish and chips, tea and best of all time with family on both my Nan’s side and my Granddad’s side.   My roots are in full force over there and it was lovely to get to know that side of myself so much more. The posh wedding of my cousin, which we attended, has built memories that will last a life time, as well as traveling to Chester, Liverpool and all over the Wirral with my cousin’s and their other halves, of course also visiting London with the best company and seeing each and every friend and family member. Howls were had, love was expressed and England will forever hold the key to my heart. Quite literally, as Nan and I locked our love on Albert Dock in Liverpool and threw the key into the River Mersey. Our loved ones can continue to visit us in Liverpool, even though we may not physically be there, our spirit will always remain.

Since I’ve been back I have been reliving each moment in my head and finding it difficult to write about. My time spent there was so special, that it is difficult to express. I feel rejuvenated and feel I have a new sense of direction for my life.   Suddenly gears have started moving upon my return and from that, fresh goals have emerged. I’m super excited about the future and what it holds and as things get closer, I’ll share more deets.

In the meantime, check out some photos from my trip and watch out for some upcoming projects and collabos. Big Kiss x.

Follow me on Instagram for daily updates: bestillmyheartblog

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Love, Britt x

Goodnight 2014, Hello 2015… 🎉🎉🎉

Holiday Card 2014

As evidence, this blog post declares that I have survived yet another Christmas. It’s now New Years Eve, one of my favorite holidays for many reasons; the promise of a clean slate, a perfectly wrapped excuse to wear head to toe sequins and an anticipation that 2015 will be our tomorrow, a new start, new pattern of thoughts, new wave of emotions and a new connection to our world. Typically, a new year offers up many things that we look forward to and we are quick to put the year that we were once too, so excited about, now neatly on the shelf along with the years before it. Lately I have been having fragments of memories and thinking about what 2014 meant to me; perhaps things I can take away like small victories and lessons learned.

Reflecting upon my year seems like one big fog. It’s pretty apt to say that I’ve spent most of the year in a king size bed and on chemo. That paired with taking advantage of my medical marijuana, watching indie flicks and appearing as if I am in a time warp of the nineteen-eighties; as my ensemble of sweat pants, side ponytail and questionable socks would give me away. Looking back on 2014, things went as fast as we could think about them and is fair to say that this has been the fastest of my life and certainly the cloudiest and clearly something that I have never experienced prior to. Moments of 2014 in my cloudy memory appear to be on old film, with just flickers of proof that certain things happened at all. In years past I have thought certain years to be long, but 2014 was something else. A lot happened, yet nothing at all.

For starters, I discovered that sporting hats with short hair is weird. But then I said fuck it, who cares if it looks weird, I like hats and that’s that. So forth, I continued to wear hats of all kinds throughout the year and the real lesson learned was if you are fond of something, even if it might not be “the thing to do”, DO IT ANYWAY and to hell with what others may think.

On a more serious note, I also realized that happiness was not going to hit me like a train, as Florence Welch once declared in her clever lyrics. Happiness is a state of mind that I’ve had to work extremely hard to achieve this year and by doing so I have been in therapy and I am learning how to be happy again after I suffered severe depression because of my disease for the majority of the year. Yet, therapy has allowed me not to feel trapped by my depression and disease and appreciate moments with everything I have on this earth. Create a world of your own happiness, live in that bubble, pay no mind to the people that wish not to be a part of your world and allow yourself to feel free of anything that doesn’t belong in your own shadow of happiness.

Say no. Say yes. Over the course of the year I noticed that when I was more honest about things and feelings and all of that human b.s. that makes us feel alive, I felt healthier inside. I’ve learned to say ‘no’ to the things I am not interested in or don’t have energy for and I’ve recognized that it’s nothing personal to those I have said no to in the last year, but more about satisfying my own needs. It sounds so selfish and despicable, but it’s the truth. Nature your own wants and needs and you’ll become a much happier and organic person, so that when you do say ‘YES!”, you know you’ll make it worth their while.

Moving on…when they aren’t forced on you, rituals are awesome. I’ve attended many events in 2k14; weddings, funerals, significant birthdays, births, marathons and so on. All of the said listed are merely celebrations of life and celebrations that matter. We are living; breathing miracles and we have been given this great adventure called life, so my experience over the last year has taught me that rituals are simply celebrations and to treat everything, every moment as it were the celebration of your existence.

Lastly, I have become aware that prudent patience is worth the wait. Yes, even that eye twitching, lip biting, heart racing kind of patience. I’m thrilled to share that with my persistence with treatment and patience with my journey, it has allowed my disease to be considered as stable (not to be confused with remission), but I now have the ablility to say that I am at a place where I can call the shots on my chemo, take small breaks, do maintenance chemotherapy and call myself happy and almost healthy. It took a ton of poison to allow me to get to this place and with that came many adversities. However, I will now have a chance to catch a break, revisit the life I had prior to cancer, or as closely to it as possible. I’ve been cleared to travel and explore the world as I wish to do. But, most importantly it means that I have gained back some control over my journey and can free myself from having to be battle hard as I did so tirelessly in 2014. That said, goodnight 2014 and hello, 2015….

PS-
‘HAPPY New Dreams
HAPPY New Days
HAPPY New Desires
HAPPY New Ways
HAPPY New Year
HAPPY New You.’

Love, Britt x