Grandma BOOM Life Saving Grace: Passion and Purpose

My Croatian grandfather “Papa” escaped dictatorship. His purpose to reach the United States in the early 1900’s was for work and a family life with freedom. He secured a job as an insurance agent and built a house in the Strawberry Hill Croatian settlement in Kansas City, Kansas. After the house was built he sent for Katarina, his betrothed, ELEVEN years after his departure from Croatia. We called her “Mama.”

Papa wore a starched white shirt every day of his life. The only time I saw him without one was lying in a nursing home screaming with dementia. There lay a man who had great courage to carry out his purpose with solid passion, a role model influencing my life. His health declined in retirement.

Mama’s journey to the U.S. was tumultuous. On a crowded boat she had one trunk of possessions, knowing she would never see her family again. She did not have a bed or room, but was on the lower boat level with many others in crowded conditions.

When people were sea sick on the upper level, vomit would sometimes splat on the lower deck residents. Buckets were used as toilets. She knew enduring this was the portal to a new life. Her passion for that new life purpose kept her going to live without the overriding presence of fear and threat.

Mama’s and Papa’s youngest son, my dad, Major J. Jan Mestrovich, felt a passionate purpose about going to fight for that freedom his parents valued.

Through the strenuous circumstances in wartime living on rations and being stretched mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in battles, Dad overcame malaria, snipers, and death threats from every angle. This included being hidden under a Chinese farmer’s kitchen floor with enemy bayonets stabbing through floorboards where he maneuvered quickly to avoid being stabbed. Passion and purpose was his lifeline via usage of his sheer will power to survive.

Purpose grows from our own personal experiences and challenges. I watched a toddler crawling at race car speed to get to a toy before another toddler could grasp it. Desire for the toy underpinned passion for collecting the toy with the purpose of adding to his toybox collection.

Desire is something you want (new cell phone). Passion is love for something you do (inspire others). Desire is satiated when you get what you want (toddler got toy). Passion is ongoing like an eternal flame. Increase in passion furthers its purpose. And purpose is the reason behind passion. They work together for the better good when there is no harm to self or others.

Passion is based in the heart, where the higher mind resides. It creates a channel for something that is ongoing.

Passion to help, passion to write books, passion to be of service, passion to care, passion to create music, passion to build…. passion cannot be satiated or satisfied. It is not mentally- and emotionally-based. Passion to inspire with the purpose of helping to create positive change is long-lasting in the intention, effort and impact.




In childhood I enjoyed helping family with chores, neighbors with tasks, listening to others’ problems… anytime I could help. Something inside me filled up joyfully. My drive was filled with passion and my tasks filled with purpose that, in turn, created vibrant enlivening in my footsteps.

According to, feeling purpose in life may help people maintain their function and independence as they age (new study published in JAMA Psychiatry). People who reported feeling meaningful lives and goals were less likely to have weak grip strength and slow walking speeds.

In the 1950’s when I took my younger sister and her friends on a picnic in the woods, a snorting, stomping bull threatened us.

I desired to save them from harm by grabbing the red picnic cloth, waving it, and yelling “toro” as I got the bull’s attention away from the little girls. Once accomplished with no harm to anyone, I was quite satisfied. However, my passion for caring about my sister has been ongoing for decades. I continue to feel purpose in that lifelong intention.

Passion and purpose are not age-related. “Purpose in life reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment. Purpose in life is a concept in neuroscience that links to robust brain and mind health” (

Passion and Purpose are jet fuel for enlivening the aging process. Fuel up now!!

Janai ‘Grandma Boom’ Mestrovich
Social Emotional Learning & Stress Expert

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Janai 'Grandma Boom' Mestrovich

Janai Mestrovich aka Grandma Boom’s passion for human potential and stress prevention has been a 40-year journey. With a Master’s Degree in Family and Child Development, she is a pioneer in children’s stress prevention programs, and author, newspaper columnist, TV producer/host/creator/writer, and international speaker. Janai’s awards and honors include: Silver Medal, NY International Film and Television Festival; Most Innovative Children’s Program, Oregon; Miss Hospitality of Kansas, 1969; invited and appointed to the Rosalynn Carter Institute National Caregiving Project Editorial Board; invited to represent prevention and rural areas at the Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental Health; watermelon seed spitting champion; 1st and 2nd place awards as Freedom Fairy in Ashland, Oregon’s July 4th parades. She is a pioneer and advocate in furthering holistic education for children, and delights in being an outrageously fun grandmother. Janai has taught at the University of Oregon and Southern Oregon University on Empowering Children, speaks at global conferences, and dresses in costume to teach in daycare settings about stress skills and emotional intelligence. She encourages all, young and old alike, to engage their joy-filled inner child, and tap into the freedom of holistic aging.

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