It’s a Wrap

Valen and Dad

I like wrapping presents but find even more enjoyment in watching others open them. Gifts come in different sizes, shapes and styles. Each present is hidden with paper and ribbon that was inspired by the gift-giver. Some are wrapped to perfection while others are wrapped simply, but all are wrapped with love. My dad does not open a present without giving it a full inspection. He analyzes it, shakes it and tries to guess what’s inside. Sometimes I camouflage his presents by putting them in a different shaped box in an attempt to fool him, but not much gets past that man. Finally I say, “Come on dad, just open it!”

Even though I encourage my dad to hurry up and open his gifts, I secretly enjoy watching him resemble a little boy with enjoyment of holding a gift in his hands. Just like presents, I believe that people try and “rip” through life so fast that they are either living in the future or the past only to betray the moment. I find myself slowing down only when my health forces me to and unfortunately this year has gone by at an exceptionally slow pace.

I have been reminded that in a split second our world can be turned upside down and we can be stripped from our normal routine. I started the new year of 2013 in good health, spirits and with a promising year ahead. The year unfolded with a couple of hospital stays, life-altering health issues, many tests, procedures, unable to work, and the inability to do things that I love.

The times I am forced to slow down are the times that I learn and grow the most as a woman. My husband taught me that I live my life extraordinarily, because it is either extraordinarily beautiful or extraordinarily challenging, but never normal. I learned that my body is mysterious and also miraculous because of its ability to withstand so much suffering and continue to bounce back. I remain faithful that I will continue to battle each health hurdle with courage and strength. I have a newfound respect for all of the health paperwork that my parents dealt with when I was young, because some days the paperwork and phone calls seemed more frustrating than the pain. Patients must have patience. Also, our minds are our powerhouse. Mental strength is imperative. Through it all I have remained sane and hopeful because of love. Love from my parents, family, friends and most importantly my husband, dear sweet Noah. It is awe-inspiring how much love, compassion, support and patience Noah showers me with. When a new health issue arises and it feels as though a gigantic wave is about to smack me down, Noah is right there to hold my hand. His love transforms that intimidating wave into a smooth, fun one that the two of us just float right over. No matter what, I am rich in life for I am rich in love.

“When we’re going through our life it seems so random and chaotic, but then at some point further down the proverbial road those same events begin to read like a great novel, where each chapter segues naturally to the next.”


I hope this holiday season you are able to wrap your arms around the ones you love. As you reflect on this year and envision the New Year, I hope you will join me with looking at it as a gift. A gift that holds excitement of the unknown that the year will bring. The package contains the opportunity for fresh starts, new beginnings and limitless opportunities. It will unwrap differently for all of us. Some years are better than others. Some bring us unwanted challenges, while others bring us joyous surprises. Instead of guessing what 2014 may bring, I will not betray the moment by living in the future or the past. I will enjoy each healthy day and look forward to what’s to come. I wish you all the very best. I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday. Here’s to a New Year full of good health, great happiness and fun adventures. Cheers to the gift of life!

Happy New Year


  1. Noelia

    Very well said Valen, thank you for reminding us that we need to live the moment and not dwell on the past or worry about the future. I think that for PKD patients the future can be uncertain and even scary. I know i all too often think about what the future will be like as i am getting closer to needing a kidney transplant, will it be in a year, two, five, will my donor be a good match, who will take care of my children when i m in the hospital??? So many questions i work hard at pushing away because i know that i need to focus on today. I wish you all the best this holiday season. Cheers!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Noelia,
      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. When living with PKD, there are many future concerns that can weigh heavily on our minds. It is easy to get overwhelmed with thinking of all of the things to come. I have been reminded this year how important it is to take one day at a time. Sometimes seems silly when you hear someone say it, but it really helps recenter our focus and put things in perspective. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and I wish you all the best this holiday season! 🙂

  2. Michele A. Vecchio

    Blessings for a healthy and prosperous New Year. You deserve it!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Michele,
      Thank you very much! I wish the same for you! 🙂

  3. Phyllis Hume

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you Valen and your family and friends.
    You are such a fabulous writer–your words are so easy to read. The way you deal with life’s surprises, the good and the not-so-good, is an inspiration to all of us.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Happy New Year! Wishing you only health and happiness in 2014.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Phyllis,
      Thank you very much for your sweet thoughts and words of encouragement with my writing and blog. It means so much! I hope you enjoy the holidays and here’s to a Happy New Year full of good health and great happiness!!!

  4. Lisa

    Sending our love to you and your precious Noah and family. Your blog is a continuous inspiration and helps me to know that life is good, even when it seems to be overwhelming. You help keep all the “stuff” in perspective and I thank you for sharing (so generously) your life and hopes. Merry Christmas to you and your very special family!!!!!!!!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Dear Lisa,
      Thank you so much! Your friendship and family hold a very special place in my heart and always will. Please give the girls a hug and give my love to your family. Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family!!!! xoxo

  5. Amy Dixon

    Your positive attitude inspires many! Thanks for your encouraging words. You are a very talented and descriptive writer too!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Amy,
      Thank you very much for your kind words, friendship and support of my blog. I appreciate your comments and thoughts. Have a wonderful holiday with your family!


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