Former Cd’A resident ‘follows her calling’ to help women
Jan Boal, center, became an honorary Maasai Warrior after rescuing her work partner during a lion attack in Kenya.
On her path to becoming an inspirational speaker, Jan Boal said her message is about “following your calling.”
Boal discovered her two main callings in life: working with the mentally ill and traveling the world.
“When we are true to our beliefs and our desires, we will find our calling,” Boal said, adding that is one of her favorite “buzz” lines.
Young men of the Maasai tribe only become Maasai warriors after spearing a lion and undergoing a circumcision without showing pain — no sounds or facial expressions. Boal said they are the “fiercest” warriors in Africa. She said women are considered second-class among the Maasai and therefore do not become Maasai warriors, so for an American woman to receive the honor is highly unusual.
For Boal — a psychiatric nurse, author, Earthwatch ambassador and world traveler — it was a true honor to become an honorary Maasai warrior while traveling in Kenya.
“When we are faced with those challenges, you’ve got to dig deep and find that warrior,” Boal said.
While Boal did receive the honor, it was not given to her — she earned it.
Boal and her group were on a foot expedition in Kenya when they came across a lioness sleeping with her cubs. “Run” was all she heard from the group’s guide. She had not seen the lioness until after the guide’s words struck her. As she attempted to get to the bushes for shelter, her work partner was beside her — and then she wasn’t.
The lioness had jumped on the woman, knocking her to the ground, and Boal turned around as the lioness disappeared. As she made her way back, Boal could see the woman had wounds, but all her limbs were attached and there was no major bleeding. Then she heard growling. The lioness had circled and come back. She made eye contact with the lioness as it pulled back its ears, roared and readied to pounce. Boal grabbed the woman and ran, risking her life but getting them both to safety.
“I really did think at that time I was going to be killed,” Boal said. “The whole thing was a miracle.”
Earth Day marked five years since the former Coeur d’Alene resident began her six-month quest. She has seen her favorite cat, the jaguar, while traveling in Greece; dolphins in Brazil, silverback gorillas in Uganda, and even saw a cheetah, which she called “art in motion” as it became her second-favorite cat.
Through her travels — both her own and with Earthwatch, an organization that focuses on conservation and research — she said she has learned much about plants and animals, including some of the devastation. Where there used to be thousands of dolphins swimming in certain areas of the ocean, there are now maybe 20. The acacia tree is the main diet of the rhinoceros, and elephants also eat from the acacia tree but destroy it in the process, leaving little to eat for the rhinos, Boal said.
While Boal has a hard time deciding what her favorite part of her travels was, she said Uganda was the “most shocking” in seeing that kind of poverty, and found it overwhelming how many people live in it. And then she trekked through the “windy, impenetrable forest,” which she said was like going back in time, cutting through brush with a machete for nearly half a day before seeing the “incredible” sight of the silverback gorillas. She said they were important for her to see because there are only about 800 left in the world.
“It will be devastating to this planet not to have that beautiful creature on it,” Boal said.
Boal has been a psychiatric nurse for about 16 years and worked at Kootenai Health for a time. While she works with both men and women, much of her focus is to help empower and inspire women. Boal said she focuses on women because she is one and understands so much of what they are going through. She said many women she has worked with are filled with fear and self-doubt, having gone through “horrific” events.
Boal believes people in her life are there for a reason, events happen for a reason, and she listens to signs from the universe, encouraging others to do so as well.
“It’s my passion that I want to help other people; I want to help women and I want to help this planet,” she said. “When we follow our calling and take care of ourselves, the universe is going to back us on that. Then we are going to help our communities and we are going to help the planet.”
Boal now lives in Oregon and although she no longer resides in Coeur d’Alene, she enjoys the trips to North Idaho to visit her family, including her mother and brother. She said she also holds Coeur d’Alene dear to her heart because it is where she wrote her book, “Safari for the Soul.” Before living in Coeur d’Alene, Boal was a Spokane resident for 27 years.
For information or to contact Boal, visit www.janboalauthor.com.