beautiful lifeHow did we get here…already at the end of 2012? It seems like just yesterday that I was gathered with many people that I care deeply for ushering in 2012, and now I sit with legs crossed on my Mom’s couch. Mom’s breathing is rhythmic as she sleeps for a spell. The reason for her rest has everything to do with the fact that she underwent serious surgery on the 14th of December.

Had you told me last December 31st that Mom would undergo such a challenge…that she would weigh 15 pounds less than she did a year ago…that I would watch her struggle to heal in the hospital for 13 days…I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet…the story was written that way.

I don’t write today to be depressing, but to underscore a major truth about life. That being…things can change in an instant. And with change, we inevitably evolve as people.

My Mom has always been one of the boldest indivduals I have ever known. She is beautiful, proud, wise, kind, and generous. Throughout my lifetime, she has been a rock and a wonderful promoter of dreams. If she is told something is impossible, she is the first to attempt to prove it possible.

Thus, for me, it was quite shocking to see her in a hospital bed struggling after a large tumor was taken from her belly. I was for the first time in my life placed into the position of protector of my Mother (along with my brother and sister). I found myself one day sitting by her hospital bed. She was weak and a bit fearful…and put out her hand so that I would hold it. I took her long, slender fingers in mine, just as she did when I was seven years old and I was forced to have stitches after splitting my leg open.

I remember being told that I would have to have stitches, and the fear that ran through my slender body. Before I would consent to the procedure, I asked for my Mom to go with me to the bathroom. Once there, I began to cry and asked for her to pray with me. I sat on the toilet, my legs dangling freely because they were too short to touch the tiled floor. Mom smiled at me softly and then said a little prayer.

In my Mom’s hospital room, I held her hand and said a little prayer for her. And with my free hand, I stroked her head. A tear escaped her eye. There was a transformation that occurred at that moment within my being. While I still am a child at heart in so many ways, an expansion has resulted. My definition of boldness has grown substantially.

I have been forced to look deeply within myself and examine areas in which I have fallen short of bravery and goodness. Over the past year and beyond, I have been selfish and fearful at times in which I wish I wouldn’t have. I am growing to realize the need to transform into a being that listens more, talks less, laughs more, and embraces the moment with my arms wide open…knowing of course that the moment may be a challenge of a lifetime…and sometimes the sweetest of sweet.

There are mistakes that we all make, but thank goodness we have the opportunity to create life anew. Thank goodness for this…for in 2013 against all odds, my goal is to love like never before. To love where I am at any given time, to love each and every human being that makes up the tapestry of my world, to love nature, my work, the unique talents of others, opportunity, variety, challenge and  collaboration.

As I usher in the New Year with Mom as she heals, I heal too. We regain our strength together. This is the reality of the life we human beings lead – we are faced with challenge and as Mark Nepo writes in The Book of Awakening, “being shaped by our suffering and polished by our joy, we become the Earth, knowing more and saying less.”

As a child of 10, I was faced with the death of my father when I least expected it. I tried to escape the reality, but now I am an adult ready to face the challenge. We don’t know what to expect in the coming weeks, months, and years with Mom’s health. The only certainty is the beauty of this very moment. Mom’s soft breathing as she naps beside me…and my ability to wake her and tell her how much I love her.

Whereever you are as you read this posting, I dare you to realize the beauty that surrounds you. To shove the fears of yesterday and tomorrow to the side and embrace…listen more…love deeply…give all you have. We human beings are constantly looking for the quick fix, the solution to our troubles. In our quest for boldness, it is essential that we realize perfection is a mirage. The secret to our happiness lies in our ability to let our guards down, work with the tools we have, and open our arms wide to accept the good, bad, and beautiful. With authenticity, face our feelings – our fears – cry if needed – laugh if possible and go into each moment with courage.

Be renewed each day, each moment by the certainty that we can make wise and bold decisions that will fuel health and happiness. In the face of uncertaintly, be loving and kind.

Wishing you a beautiful 2013!!!

– Jen Engevik