Balancing stress

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-10-02-53-amMy neurologist recently informed me that the common triggers for seizures are low magnesium, lack of sleep and stress. At my last appointment, my doctor asked if I felt stressed. I chuckled inside because when you are a patient, especially with multiple health issues, stress seems to be a natural part of your journey. I believe this applies to everyone in life. However, we have the power to make choices to limit some of our stress, and also give ourselves moments of relaxation and reprieve from the weight on our shoulders and worry on our minds. Balancing the stress, is an important part of our journey as we strive to live as positively and healthily as possible.

Observing and learning from my surroundings and that of others is a big part of how I balance stress. I strive to be a well-traveled woman, as new environments teach me great lessons about life and myself. Last month, I had a wonderful Labor Day weekend in Santa Cruz, Calif., where I was able to decompress and recharge my batteries.

Noah and I, my mother-in-law and our friends took a delightful walk along Pleasure Point while we were in Santa Cruz. We came upon a neat looking and inviting tree that framed a beautiful bench with a stunning view. As I read the plaque on the bench, I got goosebumps and was greatly inspired:


Bruce Robert McGuire September 27, 1948 – November 22, 2012 “If there’s another world, he lives in bliss; If there is none, he made the best of this.”

Noah and I sat on the bench and soaked in our surroundings. I closed my eyes and listened to the wonderful sound of the waves. My worries vanished and I became enthralled in nature and its vast beauty. Life was good and I was focusing on what mattered: that very moment in time.

I was so moved by Pleasure Point that Noah and I returned the following day. This time we sat on a bench that was next to the home of Jack O’Neill, who is believed to have invented the wet suit. There was so much for me to take in. The sidewalk was full of people walking, riding bikes while holding their surfboards, live music was playing and lots of people surfing in the water. We watched sea otters and a seal play in the ocean.


Jack O’Neill’s home (right)

Water is one of my favorite things and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the surfers, some on regular boards and others on long boards. I loved seeing two young kids with their fathers teaching them how to surf. They were quite good despite how small they were compared to their boards. I got excited for them when they caught a wave and rode it in to shore.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-10-02-33-amIt was fun to witness the changes in the ocean. It would be calm for a while and the surfers would sit or lay on their boards relaxing and enjoying the placid atmosphere. Then the next set of waves came in and they quickly responded and hopped on their surfboards and rode in to shore. I found this process to be quite comparable to how we should live our lives: enjoy the calm times, but be ready and energized to ride out whatever and whenever the tides change in our lives, for change is inevitable and yet unpredictable. The sooner we accept and adapt to this, the easier life will be.

I learned a valuable lesson that day on a bench at Pleasure Point. I realized that although there are some things I am unable to do in life, surfing actually being one of them, it does not mean that I still can’t find enjoyment in them. I was not sitting there wishing I could do something that I know isn’t safe for me because of my back, but rather got so much out of just observing my surroundings. Before I knew it, an hour had passed.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-10-06-02-amReflecting on that time, I was so grateful for where I was with Noah by my side, what my eyes had seen, what I took in and learned. I will never take for granted a healthy day, love and the beauty that surrounds us! Sometimes a stress reliever can be as simple as getting our mind off our own lives and focusing on others.

How do you balance and relieve stress in your life?


  1. Rosemarie Bartus

    Thank you for helping me learn to relax and destress . That quote on the bench is comforting too. My husband passed away 2 months ago from complications of PKD and that quote describes him perfectly . It helps me to think of him that way. He was a trooper through 5 years of dialysis but it weakened his heart. We have so many special memories. We all miss him so much.

    • Valen Keefer

      Dear Rosemarie,
      You’re so very welcome! My sincere condolences for the recent passing of your husband. The quote really spoke to me and I’m so glad that I took a picture of it and shared it in a post since it has provided some comfort to you.
      Your husband was indeed a strong man with enduring five years of dialysis. Hold on tight to all of those special memories. Sending healing hugs!

  2. Karen Fitzgerald

    Hi Valen!

    I enjoyed your pictures of beautiful Santa Cruz. I was there about five years ago, and had an interesting visit with a family of missionaries. We shared a table at lunch with my dachshunds and theirs. It was fun.
    My stress busters vary based on the situation I suppose. Breathing and focusing on something else helps. After two weeks of antibiotics for another UTI, I know the breathing really helps!
    Because I have small veins, I get poked a lot, even with the ultrasound equipment.
    I always find something in the room to focus on (a painting, flashing light, etc.), and then I just try to tune out.

    Take care!


    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Karen!
      Glad you’ve experienced the beauty of Santa Cruz and had a nice visit there several years ago.
      Thank you for sharing your stress busters. I hope you are fully recovered from your UTI. I used to get UTI’s a lot post-transplant and once starting to take cranberry supplements, I’ve only had one since and that was because of a catheter placed following a surgery.
      My veins are quite challenging too and focusing on something else in the room helps me as well, and I think positive thoughts the entire time and am so thankful when the blood is drawn and or the IV is administered.
      Hope you’re having a lovely week!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email