In The Moment

Mom Dad & I at riverLast month, my dad and I sat on the rocks alongside the American River in CA. There was a man-made pool in the river created with river rocks. My mom was sitting on a large rock in the pool. Her elbows rested on the rock as she absorbed the beauty that surrounded her. The sun glistened on the water and it was a beautiful sight. Mom looked at peace and that vision warmed my heart. As dad and I gazed at her, he said, “She’s really good at that.” Dad was referring to her ability to slow down, appreciate the small things and to be in the moment.

Mom in pool at riverThis is a difficult feat for most. Our days become filled with schedules, obligations, chores and stress. We find our lives getting embedded into a rut that we rarely flee. When we take reprieves such as vacations, upon our return we fall right back into our routine. It seems to take an occasion of extraordinary joy or despair to wake us up. These times force us to be in the moment whether it is for a positive or negative reason. Then the schedules, obligations, chores and stress vanish as our focus becomes fixated on something new, whether welcomed or not.

parasailing lift offA time in my life that my focus became crystal clear was on my nine-year kidney transplant anniversary. My husband, Noah, and I went parasailing above the breathtaking Lake Tahoe in CA. My heart pitter-pattered with excitement as they strapped the harnesses around us and braced us for take-off. As soon as our bodies lifted off of the boat and we began to soar in the air, all worries vanished. As we continued upwards, Noah and I were speechless by the awe-inspiring beauty. Once we got to the end of the rope, our view was like nothing I had ever experienced. The boat below us, which we were tethered to, appeared miniature. I felt like a free bird flying high in the sky. The Sierra Mountains and blue lake were spectacular. Tears welled up in my eyes, as I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for this life I have been given. This experience was the epitome of living in the moment.

sick times

When battling PKD and enduring other health issues, there are times we experience quite the opposite of the freedom of flying high. During these times, there are no serene mountains or sun glistening on the water. Our days might consist of hospital stays, surgeries, blood draws, anxiety waiting on test results and stress of the unknown, to name a few. However, ironically whenever I am sick, again my focus becomes crystal clear and I become extremely thankful for what I have.

It’s intriguing how exciting and difficult moments can bring such crisp clarity on life. It forces us to stop and affords us the opportunity to reflect on the important things in our lives and what we appreciate most. PKD, and my other health hurdles, have given me a lot of moments like this. I continually appreciate the wonderful times in life and learn from the hard ones. I am frequently reminded on how mysterious and miraculous our bodies are, the importance of taking a deep cleansing breath every day, understanding the significance of now and the meaning of being in the moment. Whether I am having a healthy day or a sick day, I know there is much to be thankful for. In honor of Thanksgiving, let’s take time for ourselves, embrace our loved ones and make sure to live in the moment as every moment counts.

Be thankful
“People who live the most fulfilling lives are the ones who are always rejoicing at what they have.” – Richard Carlson

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for and how do you live in the moment?


  1. Denise Gilliland

    I am thankful for the gifts that God has given to me and the guidance on how to use those gifts to serve others and bring Joy to their lives as well as mine. I live in the moment by taking time to stop, look at something beautiful, or by simply closing my eyes and saying a prayer of thanksgiving. I strive to have an attitude of gratitude which is something Valen has taught me!!

    • Valen Keefer

      So beautifully said, thank you. Your amazingly strong spirit shows how much we can overcome. You have such a gracious soul and I am so very grateful for your friendship and all of you have done for Noah and I. Love you!


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