Be Inspired

How My Bold Mom Taught Me to Face Fear & Embrace Reality


"We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality." - Seneca

I remember running over the threshold of my playhouse when I was 7-years-old. As my right foot landed on the wooden floor, my childhood friend gave me a playful shove. I lost my balance and fell forward.

Sitting up-side-down was a child-sized ironing board. There was a metal prong exposed. The force of my leg landing on top of it led to the prong slicing into my skin.

Being that I was horrified of anything having to do with hospitals, doctors, and blood from the time I can remember, I nearly had a panic attack as I stood to my feet.

I ran to my Mom's room, blood gushing down my leg.

It was obvious I had to have stitches - so Mom gave me a towel and had me apply pressure to the wound -- then quickly ushered my sobbing being down to the car.

"Mom, I'm not going to have to have stitches, am I?"

The closer we got to Dr. Slayback's office, the more freaked out I became.

"Jennifer, you may have to and it's going to be okay," she tried to reassure me.

My 7-year-old brain was swimming in fear. I had never had stitches and was sure I wasn't going to make it through the procedure.

"Mom, maybe I'm not going to have to have them. Maybe he can just tape it together."

I imagined with horror that he'd stick a needle into my skin and was certain it would be the death of me.

We entered Dr. Slayback's office and he stood there to greet us. He had been a friend of my mom and dad before I was ever conceived.

"Dr. Slayback, I think you can just tape my leg together and I'll be fine. Just please tape it."

He took one look at it and shook his head.

"Jennifer, I'm going to have to give you stitches. There's no other way."

I did everything I could not to cry my eyes out. By that time my pride had kicked in -- I didn't want him to see that I was terrified and weak.

"Okay, Jen. Let's get this started," he said.

I was about to lose it and decided to stall.

"Mom, I need to go to the bathroom. Can you come with me?"

She followed as I limped along.

I sat on the toilet - my legs dangling a couple feet from the ground. Tears welled up in my eyes.

"Mom, I'm scared." She took her fingers and brushed my bangs out of my teary eyes.

"Will you pray with me Mom?"

I held her hand and she asked the universe to protect me. To give me strength.

"It's all going to be okay, Jen. You're such a brave girl."

There was something about Mom that always guided me to a higher state of mind and sense of peace. She was always giving me lessons about using "mind over matter" and her strength dove right into my bones.

When I was calm and ready, she walked me back to where the procedure was going to take place. I leaned back and held her hand in a death grip. Dr. Slayback brought out what seemed to me a monstrous needle. I began to panic inside and did my best to hide it.

"Just close your eyes," Mom suggested. I leaned back and followed her instructions.

Dr. Slayback waited for a bit as the numbing medication took effect.

"Alight, I'm going to start. You're being really brave Jenny," he said.

I asked to see the needle he was going to use to sew my leg up. He held it up for me to see.

"Is it going to hurt?" I was on the verge of panic again.

"No, not at all."

I closed my eyes and gripped Mom's hand again.

A minute or two went by.

"Are you going to start?" I asked.

"I've already started," was Dr. Slayback's reply.

I was shocked at the fact that I didn't feel anything at all. I opened my eyes to see what he was doing.

Then something really strange happened. I became fascinated by what was going on. I sat up and was transfixed -- then watched as he slipped the needle from one side of my wound to the other.

Mom let go of my hand and stood back. I'm pretty sure she was amazed at my newfound strength.

When it was over, we headed out to the car.

"Jen, I am so proud of you. You did such an amazing job in there. You nearly watched the whole thing!"

I remember feeling a new sense of freedom - having faced one of my biggest fears.

As I read the quote, "We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality," this morning -- my childhood experience with stitches emerged from my memory bank.

Our minds are often so filled with fears that are never realized. We fret for hours, days, weeks, months, and even years about things that never happen.

My mom use to drill the concept of "buying trouble" into my mind.  "Jen, the more you think about something and fear it, the more likely it may happen," she'd explain. "Your thoughts affect your actions and then there's no turning back."

Even up to the last days of her life during her cancer battle, she'd school me on this concept.

For example, I'd walk into the room and she'd be so quiet. My imagination would make me believe she wasn't breathing anymore. Her eyes would snap open and she'd say something sarcastic.

"I'm not dead, Jen! I'm perfectly fine!"

Her reactions were strangely funny, and we'd both giggle a bit. Then she'd give me a lecture about not being so scared of what was going on in her body.

"What are you going to do when I'm gone? You'd better get your head screwed on straight."

She was right.

As the weeks went by during her sickness, I was increasingly infused with the strength I needed to get through it all. Things got tougher for her. Sometimes she'd panic and ask for me to pray with her -- just as she did during my first bout with stitches.

"What am I going to do, Jen?" she asked me one night.

She needed for me to be strong, and all I wanted to do was weep.

(It makes me wonder... did she feel like weeping when as a child I came running to her with my leg split open? Did she want to weep when I asked her to pray with me?)

I stared back at her and did everything I could to assure her that she'd be okay. Her soul was going to be fine.

"Mom, you are such a special human being. Everything is going to be okay."

I stroked her head and tried to calm her.

All I know at this point is that each day, each moment is a new opportunity to look my fears in the eyes and not be overtaken by uncertainty.

"Don't buy trouble"... I try to use my Mom's words and wisdom to fight my own invisible dragons -- those fears that will probably never become a reality.

It's all in the here and now. The real question I need to be asking myself is what can I do in this moment to live and breathe my full potential. How do I use my mind and my talents that will lead to a better and more beautiful future?

There is nothing to be gained by living in fear - by being frozen in "what ifs" and unfounded fears.

I want to dig in and reconnect with the kid I was when I learned that stitches weren't going to kill me. And know that living within me is the strength of my mom whispering softly, "you're so brave Jen. Everything is going to be okay."

Musings By My Writing Mentor and a Tobacco Vendor Turned Spiritual Genius


My writing mentor Rob had a pension for passing along his favorite books. I'd show up for weekly writing meetings, and more often than not he'd present me with one wrapped in beautiful paper.

Sometimes the books were brand new. Other times they were used classics that he'd pull from his own collection (I liked those the most).

Inside each cover, he'd write a note in his clean, clear script (ALL-CAPS, of course).

JUNE 25, 2014





I recently opened this particular book and randomly turned to a page that read:

"Absolute perfection is here and now, not in some future, near or far. The secret is in action -- here and now. It is your behavior that blinds you to yourself. Disregard whatever you think yourself to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect -- whatever your idea of perfection may be. All you need is courage."

It continued...

"All  you need you have. Use it. Behave as best you know, do what you think you should. Don't be afraid of mistakes; you can always correct them, only intentions matter. The shape things take is not within your power; the motives of your actions are."

Rob and Me

We use to talk about this a lot, Rob and I. How we human beings are such pros at clouding up our worlds with our complicated brains.

"Jen, everything is perfect," he'd reiterate time and time again. "It's all a choice. you just have to surrender. Your life is as simple as you make it."

I've thought long and hard about Rob's definition of surrender.

He defined it as allowing the heart to be your guide, rather than letting the ego run the show.  "It's about the heart consciousness," he explained. "Everything good in this world comes from the heart. Of course you need your brain to function, but the with the heart as guide, the mind can make sound and just decisions. Heartfelt decisions make the world better for everyone."


I think back to when I was a little girl running barefoot and free. I'd climb trees, play imaginary baseball games, skateboard, create products and sell them to our neighbors. I let my imagination run wild. More often than not I'd sit in school and count down the minutes until I could return to adventures at home.

In those days, I'd end up with all sorts of scratches and battle wounds. A skateboarding adventure would leave me with bloody knees. A tree climbing expedition left a long scar on my left wrist. I tried to rescue a cat from its apparent homelessness and it scratched my ear into oblivion. I brought home a stray dog that I claimed as my own, and my parents about fell over when they saw it was covered in mange.

While sometimes my adventures were painful, they were magnificent and worth every moment. The view from the tree was worth the scratch, the thrill of flying down a hill on four wheels made the bloody knee a prized battle wound, and hugging that homeless cat for a few moments made my day. Not to mention the numerous doors closed in my face during my sales efforts, made the single dollar I earned from one willing client a prize.

In the case of the dog that I found, my Dad's first impulse was to head to the pound. But I fought with everything I had in my 7-year-old being to keep her. I made it clear that I wanted to protect and love her. I had been pleading for a pup for so long. I wasn't going to take no for an answer this time.

Dad saw my passion and it caught his attention.

He decided to work with me. So we headed to the vet and got some horrible smelling medication. Each day we'd combine it with water and scrub the pup down. As result of our efforts, she got better and better -- and loved me for it. Ruffles became my confidant and friend. Everywhere I went she'd follow.

I saved her -- she saved me. It was an affair of the heart.

"Only good things come from the heart," said Rob.

"All you need is courage," said the tobacco vendor turned spiritual genius.


If Rob were alive today, I think he'd tell me that it all begins now. Forget the past... let go of your hurts and fears. Begin living from the heart in this second. Keep it simple. Tap into the child within (it still exists) and be authentically you. Don't let the world make you into a scared, inspirationless adult. Don't be idle.

When faced with a tough moment, take a deep breath and make every effort to see things from a heartfelt perspective. This doesn't mean not standing up for ourselves and having healthy boundaries, but we must understand our motives.

For "only intentions matter" in the end.

5 Inspirational Words to Lift Your Spirit

Each and every day we are faced with numerous challenges. There is no getting around it — for the difficulties we face are one of the constants in life.

One of my favorite writers of all time, Paulo Coelho, once penned the following words: “When we least expect it, life sends us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready yet. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

It is the way we handle and accept our challenges that makes all the difference in the world. Do you find yourself in a moment of weakness? Are you scared as to what the future has to offer?

When faced with a challenge, I always find quiet time for prayer/meditation helpful. Within that space, I can regain my breath and regain a healthy perspective. It provides me the strength I need to stare my greatest challenges in the eye.

I dare you to find some quiet time today, tomorrow, and everyday think deeply about the following five words:

1. Love

When life gets you down, it’s important to get down to the facts. We are usually surrounded by so much more love than we know. Think of all the people in your life that love your soul and want to see you happy. Imagine their love pouring into your heart and expanding it until it’s as expansive as the universe.

Secondly, consider the love you have for others. The love you have for them gives you a deeper sense of purpose and should fill your heart with joy. And, finally, give yourself a huge hug. You are loved by God and the universe. Don’t let anyone or any circumstance convince you of anything different.

2. Purpose

You were put on this earth for a  purpose. Your uniqueness can help transform your corner of the world. Give thanks for your purpose, take an inventory of what you need to do to make an impact, and then go for it.

Pay attention to the challenges you are currently facing and look for meaning in them. Could it be that you are being asked to find your true purpose? Sometimes we need to lose everything (or most things) to transform our lives.

3. Now

All we have is NOW — and knowing that is very moment. Quit fretting about the future and lamenting the past. One day when you’re old and gray, you’ll wish you had the ability to freeze time and enjoy your health, the beauty of nature, and the wonder of friendship and love. Be here now.

4. Forgive

There are very few things more ugly than resentment and anger. If you can’t forgive, the mind and body become rigid and miserable. Your hatred becomes a cancer that affects every part of your being.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins,” reads Matthew 6:14-15.

You don’t have to be Christian to take something from this very powerful verse. If you can’t forgive others, it is very likely you will never find peace. Dare yourself to let things go! Free yourself from the baggage  you’ve been carrying with you for far too long.

5. Child

Search deep within your being to find your inner-child. Once upon a time, you were a youngster with dreams and vision. Maybe you believed that anything was possible!

Regain your playfulness and have some fun! Where did we ever get the idea that we have to be so serious and give up the things that make our heart soar?

Inspirational Words to Lift Your Spirit – Final Thoughts

This moment (which you can never have back) is yours. What will you do with it? Will you let your past continue to dictate your thoughts and actions, or will you be open to the new opportunities that surround you?

Open your eyes wide and you will see that LOVE surrounds you — you have a definite PURPOSE — NOW you can do great things — it’s time to FORGIVE yourself and others — and regain the CHILD that lives within your soul. Joy will be yours!

being strong

Sometimes I forget That I Am Strong

Both during and after the loss of my Mom, I've been taking a lot of notes and find it important to share my thoughts on what I'm experiencing. In my mind, if one person who has lost a loved one or is going through a difficult transition in life can benefit from a word or two, I've done something right.

This evening I went to yoga -- and to my mat I brought a mix of fears, frustration, and tension. No joy.

Honestly, since the death of my Mom and the stressors that have come with the aftermath, I've really found it challenging to find joy at times. Not that I'm miserable or madly depressed, but I'm still processing a lot of what I saw and experienced. Plus, there's the void that comes with not being able to connect with her -- to ask her questions when I feel I need answers so badly -- or giggle with her until our eyes overflow with tears.

And so tonight, I went to yoga feeling completely overwhelmed. I had the urge to leave the moment I walked into the studio. However, I stayed and began to push my way into the first few minutes of class. Before I knew it, something profound occurred.

Somehow I entered into a beautiful flow. I became stronger than I could have ever imagined. My body knew what to do, and my mind let go.

It quickly became apparent to me that my resistance was all smoke and mirrors. I began feeling joyful. Not the kind of joy that comes easily, rather the kind that comes when you've climbed a massive mountain or reached a goal you never thought you'd attain.

As the yoga class intensified, my body and soul began to sing a bit. The words "I forgot that I am strong" kept echoing through my mind.

By the end of class, I was completely drenched in salty sweat and it felt amazing. My teacher brought a cold, damp cloth with hints of lavender oil sprinkled on it. She lay it over my brow and I was in heaven.

I had pushed my way through my resistance and was rewarded in a way I will never forget.

Life has brought me the greatest challenge in my lifetime in my Mom's death. Being parentless feels weird. It sometimes makes me feel very alone. Who knew that not being able to pick up the phone and call her would be so devastating?

Not that I don't have amazing friends and family, but it makes me feel like a baby bird that has been pushed out of her nest.

I'm being told to fly, but I hurt in ways that are unfamiliar. I'm exposed to the world in a way that is new to me. No longer do I have any buffers.

I'm learning it's all okay. Day by day, I'm learning. Over time it will take the perfect blend of momentum and surrender to help me understand where life is supposed to lead next.

Or better yet, for me just to be completely at ease with wherever I am at any given moment...

- By Jen Engevik


A New Definition of Love -- Gained Through Life's Pains & the Unknown

This life can be a jungle.
Full of unknowns, twists, and turns.

How does a person gain his or her bearings when it's this way?

Each day we're faced with challenges (some with the power to knock you down on your arse).

My first realization of this very fact came when I found out my parents were having marital problems when I was about 7. The second came when my dad died. I was just 10-years-old on that summer day. It was a heart attack that stole him away.

The world turned upside down. A darkness set in. For years, I was in a foggy haze. My schoolbook photos reveal this girl with sad eyes and a half smile.

That was my story (for years).

Yet, gradually I learned that out of darkness and difficulty can arise something significant. Actually, many things significant.

Like perseverance, to start. Understanding. Compassion. Passion. Individuality. Strength. Truth. FORGIVENESS.

It took me time to FORGIVE the universe for yanking the carpet (the life I knew) from under my feet. I was well into my late twenties when I finally became okay with it all. When I decided I didn't want to own the same old story anymore. Rather than being the kid that lost her dad, I decided to become the woman who was thankful for the challenges that were cast my way.

I thanked the universe for the lessons I had learned.

"I'm so sorry your dad died," said a good friend of mine one day.

Before I could even think, I threw out the following reply: "While I miss him so much, I wouldn't be me if he had lived. I am who I am partially because he died."

And with that reply, I realized I had found a new sense of freedom.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago. My world was flipped upside down. My relationship of five years ended. The sense of home that had been created (by my ex and me) was no more. Soon thereafter my mother became ill. And now her illness is back.

Just a week ago, I spent countless hours with her in the hospital. Seeing her struggle has been so painful for me.

I've evolved into my mother's guardian and protector. This reality is one I had only heard about, not yet experienced. My father's death was so sudden -- it almost seemed unreal. But before me is my fragile mom (my best friend) asking for me to give her drink. To help her turn over. To read to her. To say an evening prayer -- just like she did after I was tucked in bed as a child.

One evening last week, she was in pain and flustered in her hospital bed. I knew that holding her would make all the difference in the world. So I climbed onto her hospital bed and wrapped my arms around her. In seconds, I could feel her body relax. When all was calm and good in our immediate world, I pulled out her tablet and turned on her favorite show. One that makes us both laugh until tears come to our eyes.

As we watched and giggled together, I realized we were experiencing a perfect moment -- pure bliss -- in the middle of a scary time in life.

The next day I found out that Mom was so relaxed when I left that she didn't even need pain medication. A bit of laughter and a whole lot of love gave her the peace she needed.

It's understandable that we human beings desire ease of living (I do with all of my being) -- but, unfortunately (and maybe even fortunately) the difficult moments that we face have the power to transform us forever. To make us better, bolder, and braver.

I have no idea what is in store for mom and my family (and this freaks me out!!). But what I do know is that through the pains and joys we are experiencing, we're learning a whole new definition of love.

- Jen Engevik
Project Be Bold

Freeing Ourselves from Our Personal Prisons & Flying Free

This is the year, the month, the day, the hour, the moment that we can set ourselves free. Free from the constraints of worry and holding on to the past.

It's all too easy to cling to yesterday with white knuckles, even when the present and the pending future is full of unlimited possibility.

"Anything is possible," declared my yoga instructor this evening.

I remember thinking the same thing when I was a youngster. Magic was in the air in those days. But as we grow into our adult costumes, it's easy to get lost and forget that the magic and the miracles are still around.

And so, moving forward into a space of freedom -- I'm thinking it means living for now. Letting go of my conception of what should be. Loving without condition. Loving with a rawness that can only be found in the authentic now.

Freedom comes in the moment -- when you are in a flow. Yes, a majestic beautiful flow. It comes when we lift our heads and our chests to the sky. When we dare to look into a stranger's eyes and smile.

Freedom comes when we love freely, without rules or chains. The mind must find a sense of peace, if true freedom is going to reign.

It's easy to cling to the past. To talk about what is dead and what has died. Whether it was a person, a relationship, or a dream. But there comes a time -- to let it all go and claim that gift called freedom.

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. When pain arrives, it's important to feel it -- to own it -- to accept it -- and then let it go. Otherwise suffering becomes all we know. We become caged and freedom turns elusive.

But now it's time to breathe. It's time to claim the miracles and the magic that float through the universe. That live in our veins.

The winds of freedom have arrived, and it's time to fly.

- Jen Engevik
Project Be Bold

The Art of Discovering Inner Strength

"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle." -  John Watson

I begin my post with these word for one simple reason -- I read them in a book by William Hart entitled The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka. The book has been sitting on my shelf for a handful of years entirely unread. I had tried to read the first page a number of times, but for some reason couldn't continue. And then...just at the right time, I have found myself devouring it.

Why am I devouring it now? There are numerous reasons why, but here are a few very candid ones:

inner peace1. I need to deepen my friendship with myself.

2. I want to become more compassionate.

3. I need to let go of some things in order for the next chapter of my life to evolve.

4. I want to deal better with suffering and loss.

5. I need to reconnect with my true purpose and inner truths.

The list could go on and on, but these are my main goals.

So, Sir Goenka created a meditation philosophy and technique that at one point requires you engage in a 10-day silent retreat. In the  process you burn through your mental garbage -- limited perceptions and the dramatic stories we tell.

One of my best friends has done it twice. The first time PJ dared to experience the process, he said the first day of complete silence freaked him out.

"You can't imagine the mental noise that I experienced. I began by thinking of the things I should be doing, then I moved on to the things I have done, then I thought about crazy dramas from my past, and sometimes I even found myself humming in my mind. I couldn't help myself!"

As the ten-day period progressed, he dove deeper into the pains that he had suffered in his life. His failed marriage, his relationship with his parents, failed business pursuits, and the list goes on.  In his silence, he would all of a sudden find himself sobbing as he relived moments. He forgave himself and others for mistakes made along the way.

And then one day...

He sat on his mat and he experienced complete mental silence.

"Jen, you wouldn't believe it. I didn't have anything else to think about, and I was perfectly fine."

And so yesterday it was September 25, 2013 -- strangely, it is almost four years to the day that my friend told me about his experience. And I'm finally ready to experience the process myself.

What I've learned so far is that I am the possessor of a mind (and you too) that has so much potential. But, before we experience our full-potential, we have to become friends with ourselves. "Become an island unto yourself. Strive hard and become wise," Hart quoted Buddha within his book.

This doesn't mean that we abandon those we love. It means that we seek to become healthy and whole, which will enhance our relationships with others. True satisfaction in life can't be attained through obtaining massive riches, experiencing "the right" relationship, reaching the greatest of goals, etc.

This comes when we are OK with silence...a personal friendship with ourselves...and the truth that lives within.

- Jen Engevik

Project BE Bold