“No story is worth telling without the twists and turns. Make them count instead.” – Charlotte Erikkson, author

It’s true. My story comes with a lot of twists and turns. Ones that were extremely dark in the midst of unfolding. Fast forward a few months and I wouldn’t change those twists for anything. Why? Because they’ve made my story so much more meaningful and a hell of a lot more fruitful. Why keep your story to yourself?

At the age of 15, I developed the dream of becoming the world’s next best journalist. First, I wanted to write for a magazine or publisher. But at age 18, I decided to take those dreams down into television news. I was an avid news consumer. My life consisted of reporting projects, producing college newscasts, documentary filmmaking, all while keeping in touch with the world’s current events. I carried this passion with me through college, where I landed my first gig at ABC7 in Los Angeles. I was on top of the world working at my favorite local news station as only a sophomore. I continued my journey at ABC7 as an apprentice, editor, writer and a field producer. My career consisted of harsh deadlines, breaking news and walking the red carpet with some of Hollywood’s biggest names at the Academy Awards. I worked movie premieres – interviewing the biggest names in film, like Francis Ford Coppola. I was given the opportunity to work the sidelines of pre-and-post Grammy parties. Never in a million years did I expect my career to start as strongly as it did. But I was determined – and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way.

During the summer of 2016, I decided to take my career to the beautiful city of Seattle. That’s where I became a lead producer for a five-hour morning show on Q13 FOX. Little did I know, six months later, I’d be diagnosed with a chronic illness that would turn my life upside down. It’s called Gastroparesis. For those who don’t know, GP is paralysis of the stomach – meaning food doesn’t move from my stomach to small interesting for hours, if not days, on end. After months of dealing with stomach pain, I started vomiting often – combined with faint spells and the inability to eat. The disease is incurable, and in the first nine months I lost 50 pounds. My illness has put me out of work for the better part of 2017. I deal with symptoms daily – and my doctors are convinced my stressful, workaholic tendencies in news contributed to the development of this disease. My physical and mental health were always back of mind. My career as a news producer always came first. It was my only priority for many years. That is – until this latest twist forced me to re-evaluate just how precious life is.

Three years before my diagnosis, I came across my first LIVE A GREAT STORY sticker while strolling back to my car after a night out with friends at a local brewery in San Diego. Those four words instantly hit me. I’m a storyteller for a living – one who’s always aspired to be impactful – to live a great story. My ambassadorship with LIVE is my way of solidifying that dream. At the time, it was my dream in television news. At the age of 27, that dream has changed into something I never would have imagined.

Three months after the news of my illness, I lost my apartment in Seattle. I wasn’t able to work or support myself at all. I was trying to cope with a disease offering no treatment options that are right for me. In the months of struggling, I fell into a deep, deep depression. I kept telling myself how inadequate I was. The thought that ruminated in my head was being miserable and worthless. Before I knew it, I was trying all sorts of anti-depressants to try and get out of my head. They weren’t working – so I started self medicating. Doing so put myself into a deeper depression and a detrimental bout of anxiety. Before I knew it, I was experiencing panic attacks every other day. They were uncontrollable. At this point, my doctors recommended I be hospitalized – and I spent the next three and a half weeks there. That’s where my twists started to turn into some of the best experiences I could ever imagine.

In the hospital I formed friendships with people I couldn’t imagine living life without. It was during that time I realized it’s time to let go of my workaholic tendencies and turn that energy into a force of helping people who are struggling with similar battles. Disease is debilitating. It’s life changing. But so is mental illness. Let’s work together and break the stigmas surrounding such serious issues. When did society start telling us, “it’s every man for himself?” I believe living life alone is unhealthy – and that’s where I’ve been called to write my story.

In the first months of my diagnosis, I started a blog detailing the everyday struggles of my journey. Never in a million years did I think my blog would become a driving force into my future. Friends I’ve known for years started reaching out and admitting some of their deepest, darkest secrets. Those secrets are pivotal stories that formed them into the loving souls they are today. So why can’t I take the darkest, dirtiest parts of myself and turn them into a light that can help others? I sat and analyzed that question within myself for quite some time. During that time, God called me. He pretty much said (in my own casual words) – “Hey girl, get up. There’s a world out there that needs Me. There’s a world out there that needs you. Go out and love others the way you would want to feel love – and from there, peace will take over your path.” And oh my God, it totally has.

At the young age of 27, I’ve decided to toss out the stresses of my old television news life to serve others who want and need love. I hope to help people around the globe by becoming a certified life coach and assisting all souls who simply need a friend. Someone to walk life with. Someone who can encourage and inspire them during life’s trying times. We all need that. We’re human. Life’s never perfect, but that’s also the beauty of living it.

“You are a story. You are not merely the possessor and teller of a number of stories; you are a well-written, intentional story that is authored by the greatest Writer of all time.” – Dan Allender, author & therapist

Throughout the course of 2017, I’ve learned transparency and compassion are two of the biggest characteristics that will allow me to live a great story. Let’s work together to take our deepest, darkest moments and turn them into light. There’s someone out there waiting to be inspired by your story. Tell it. You never know whose life it may change – including yours.

Connect with me!

blog: racheltkellogg.tumblr.com

instagram: @racheltkellogg

website: rachelkellogg.com

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