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Keely Semler, MPH, CD

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

Certified Neonatal Resuscitation & CPR

My story began outside of Chicago. I grew up running around the neighborhood with the boys, barefoot climbing trees, catching frogs, self-declaring mud days, and endless rollerblading. My brother was diagnosed with a rare terminal illness when I was five but that did not stop us from adventuring about in our half acre backyard. Eventually things got more challenging as his mobility declined and he was forced to confine to a wheelchair. My single mother taught dance and worked very hard to provide for us. I was often left alone to be my brother’s caretaker; an uncomfortable task as he was two years older than me. 

At fifteen, he passed away and so my healing journey came to the forefront of my life. Since I was sixteen I worked two, sometimes three odd jobs at a time just to come up with enough money to travel. It was my way of coping. I always performed well in school, appeased my parents with good grades and a clean rapport. 

At twenty, I decided to move from NYC where I attended undergraduate school to Los Angeles to pursue a new path. Like most twenty-somethings, I struggled to find purpose but also carried the weight of grief deep within my body. I never took the time to slow down and tend to my wounds. I worried too much about what my family would think of me if I was not successful. 

I started to see an Ayurvedic doctor who encouraged me to meditate in order to alleviate the stress I was experiencing. After a string of high profile jobs in entertainment and tech, I hit a rock bottom. I no longer could force myself to work in environments that did not value my health and wellbeing. 

I went to graduate school to study public health/child and maternal health while absorbing as much information as I possibly could about stress and trauma as it relates to health outcomes. I learned breathwork from an amazing teacher who enlightened me that Nature becomes interested in you when you begin to live in flow as opposed to pushing ahead to progress.

The road is long (and winding). I choose to heal every day and to help others heal themselves. It is a practice. There is no final destination. There is no fixing, no curing.

There is only the willingness to show up and stay instead of to run and hide; to breathe slowly, intentionally. And to be brave enough to explore the depths of the body, heart, shadow and spirit.