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Go back to: Day 1 | [Haven’t taken the IN AWE 21-Day Challenge? Join here.]


Welcome to Day 2 of the IN AWE 21-Day Challenge! Today, we spark inspiration, meaning and joy by cultivating ACCEPTANCE.

Do you look in the mirror and see what’s wrong? Do you cover up the scars, hide the wrinkles, cover up the mistake and cake on the makeup? Or do you celebrate who you are, the journey you’ve experienced and wisdom you’ve been given?

CHALLENGE: As the sun rises on your day, glance in the mirror and see the beauty not just the scars. Realize that you are enough.

INSPIRATION: Need more time to reflect? Meet my friend Leigh DuPriest + witness the freedom that comes with self acceptance.

ACTION: Identify one thing you covered up in the past, that you choose to accept as a gift when you look in the mirror of your life today. A past experience, current issue or mask you’ve worn? Share in the comments below or on social media, tagging me + using #inawe. Each day until my new book IN AWE publishes (5/5), I’ll randomly pick one person who does to win a copy to gift to a neighbor, favorite barista or as a random act of kindness (because you’ve already preordered copies for yourself, friends + family, right? :).

My friend, today is your day!  Live IN AWE.
John O’Leary





Did you know? The 21-Day IN AWE Challenge is inspired by John’s forthcoming book IN AWE. Preorder your copy + follow all the fun behind the scenes at ReadInAwe.com.

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Showing 20 comments
  • Tom

    We all want to fit in and be liked. I learned over time that if you are a perfect strawberry with the right taste, shape, color and the person doesn’t like strawberries. It makes no difference, be the best you that you can be.

  • Tricia Reh

    I used to always hide my anxiety from people and pretend that it didn’t exist. I’d act like everything was fine when inside I was struggling. But as the years have gone by, I have been able to see my anxiety as a gift (most days, not all!). My anxiety has forced me to look into myself and identify the root of it. By realizing the root, I can help myself understand why I have anxiety. I have also been forced to try lots of different tools and strategies to help alleviate my anxiety. I have done SO much personal work on myself which I never would have done unless I had anxiety!!

  • Joyce L Knolhoff

    When I was at my body’s weakest and vulnerable with this horrible invisible myositis disease, very few people other than immediate family and medical staff saw me because we were warned to avoid most public places and sick people because ANY infection would land me back in the hospital. We hunkered down. (Funny how often I’ve heard that word recently.)Then as I recovered enough to go out to church again, many people would say “you look so good”. Seems harmless enough, but I cringed a bit and silently said, ‘tell my body!” Now as I see others with known (and unknown) health issues I prefer a comment like “I am so glad to see you” I try to understand that everyone is fighting some kind of internal battle and not take “looks” comments too seriously. I accept and believe God blessed my doctors to find the right diagnosis and aggressive treatment plan. My response at this point in my life is to manage NAM as best as I can and be supportive of the autoimmune population and caregivers dealing a new normal. After the corona crisis is past, our autoimmune friends will still warrior on.

  • Patty Schmidt

    When I look in the mirror, I find that sometimes I don’t feel good about myself as I’ve struggled with my weight for many years. I have grown to realize that it doesn’t make me who I am nor does it impact what I’m going to accomplish in life. Last year, I was diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer at the age of 41 and it made me realize that nothing matters except being present. I work hard each day to be present and do whatever task I’m working on with others intently and not stray.

  • Lori

    I don’t have something specific to share, but my husband changed my perspective on this several years ago. Somehow the conversation with a group of friends turned to regrets. When someone asked him if he had things in his past that he would undo to do differently, he said that he probably wouldn’t, because everything in our past has helped shape who we are. The conversation then turned to how God can take ANY circumstance and use it for good (even if we don’t see it at the time).

  • Debbie Bradley

    I’ve learned through some friends that it’s not about how you look, it’s about how much fun you are and the kindness you display. Yes, people are first drawn to you by your appearance but given time, more are attracted by personality. When you can be transparent and allow people to see all your flaws they feel more comfortable in allowing you into their world. It’s just easier and it deepens your relationships. Of course, I do care about my hygiene and looking presentable but not to a point that it keeps me from enjoying life. I love to just love on people without any expectations of getting something in return. It is so freeing! No disappointments and it’s amazing seeing people react to kindness, especially when they aren’t being kind. The people who are meant to be in your life will be there and the people who aren’t, won’t. Don’t be offended by those who don’t value your kindness or friendship. Just let them go.

    • DSK

      On a literal level, I try and cover up my wrinkles and any other imperfections on my face using makeup, Botox, microderms, or any other promising products out there (with the exception of a face lift). I’ve been told I don’t look my age, so I try to keep up with this illusion by doing these things. Does it make me feel better? YES, but it also makes me feel “old” when I can see the wrinkles under these cover-ups. Does this imply I’m covering other issues that aren’t just skin deep? If I look at my imperfections as “life lines” rather than “battle scars” maybe this will change my perception? Hmmm…something to ponder.

  • Janie Mae

    This is a tough one. I see many flaws when I look in the mirror. None of these are real. I struggle accepting myself for who I am. Some days are better than others and due to a lot of inner work I have more positive days. You would not know this if you knew me since I come across very self confident. This is a work in progress and people like John and others help me realize how fortunate I am and to live an inspired life!!

  • Cheryl Thompson

    This is difficult. Admitting things “out loud” make it seem very real and bring up some sad memories. It’s still not something I am comfortable in addressing. It’s a process. Growing up the oldest of five kids in a small house was no big deal but being a teenager with a mom, who was brilliant but bipolar was really tough. It wasn’t easy to explain why my mom was always yelling, why her moods changed at the drop of a hat, why she was frequently hospitalized, why I had to take care of the younger kids, not being able to fully engage in the “normal” process of being a kid and why she would hit first and ask questions later. In reflection, I gained many skills that I treasure today. I hold dear the bond I have with my siblings. I appreciate my positive attitude and know the person I am today is a result of my early experiences. Not easy, not fun, but part of the foundation of the person I have become and I like that person very much.

  • Bobbi

    Accepting Money struggles. There are many times where making ends meet means being really resourceful in feeding my kids with what I have in the house. Now staring down the barrel of 2-3 weeks at home, I’m seeing this resourcefulness as a gift. I know how to cook, make pantry staples in to good meals. I’m not reliant on processed things and I’m not panicked about how we will eat. When I couldn’t afford a gym membership, I ran laps on my block so my younger kids could see me. Today with my gym closed, I’m running outside again, doing basic exercise. It feels good to be resourceful and to know we will be ok.

    • Brian Gaffney

      Hi Bobbi – We really appreciate this share and would like to send you a copy of IN AWE once it’s realeased in May. Can you email me the best address for shipping? I’m at brian@johnolearyinspires.com.

  • Clarice Baum

    Aside from my weight which is a very visible flaw that has made me feel less than positive, The thing that I have kept secret from just about everyone is that a very very rarely say what I am really feeling. I am either unsure of how it will be taken, or unsure of the topic being discussed, I worried about hurting someone’s feelings. I have spent my very long life saying and doing what others expect of me.

  • Deanna

    My Coverup-Day 2
    How ironic that yesterday’s topic of my struggle was acceptance and today that is your challenge for Day 2.

    I suppose longing for acceptance is common for all of us.

    My laughter, my smile, reassurance to those I love, that I am, “fine, alright, ok, etc…” had really been a coverup to my anxiety and depression.
    In recent months I have accepted my inner pain because it allowed me to listen to what was surrounding me. I realized I was the creator of my own truth. That’s when it occurred to me that all along God had been feeding my heart and I had known the truth all along. How freeing!

  • Lisa

    I’ve tried to hide the shame I have for my body – I’m not thin, I’m short so that extra 15 pounds is more noticeable, I’m not fit enough, etc. In the last few years, I’ve focused on treating myself better, eating more intentionally to stay healthy and being proud of the person I see.

  • Norm

    Well, when I look in the mirror, what I see is that I’m not good enough. That’s what every day’s activities covers up and tries to aspire toward changing. Not good enough as a friend, not good enough in my fitness level, not good enough in my business, not good enough in my financial situation, not good enough in my day job, not good enough in getting things done, not good enough in my looks, etc.
    I’ve been told that over and over in my life, very often my own voice being the loudest one, and I’ve come to believe it too deeply. It’s not true. Deep down I know that and am affirmed often by those who know me well and speak truth into my life. I am good enough! I am someone who values growth and moving forward. Have I arrived? No. But I’m a great friend, employee, giver, listener. I’m loyal. I have a strong faith in the One who put me here, and draw those around me to consider this in their lives. I am trustworthy, ethical, compassionate. I am appreciative of the amazing things I get to experience every day of my life. I’m a reflector and engager in conversations toward continued growth. I continue to move forward. I need to go back to the mirror and tell myself these things…every day!

  • Joel Boggess

    Great challenge today…
    I have to be myself on the platform. I’ve found that it’s so exhausting to try to be something you are not.
    Since my school-age days, I’ve tried hard to be someone else.
    I have to give that up! I don’t have the same boldness that I did earlier in life. And that is causing me to doubt myself and what I am capable of accomplishing.
    My biggest fear is that no one will find value in who I am or would hire me and bring me in if I was as authentic as I know that I should be.

  • Claire Weisler

    I used to cover up acne on my face with makeup until I realized it didnt make it go away. I accepted that this is my skin and this is how it looks. I freed myself from daily makeup and in turn have felt lighter all around.

  • Jill Startin

    I used to hid my struggles after a car accident left me worth a brain injury. I felt like it made me dumb. I had a stutter and the words wouldn’t come to me as easy. I used to be an excellent speller and now I look words up frequently. I’m still dealing with and accepting different things but never stopping the healing and improving. I embrace the new me. I find humor in it and I have become more passionate. I look for ways to help people in my situation, help them embrace the new person they are and also how to never stop healing and improving. Life is the best!

  • Lori

    I am one of those who, on the outside, look like everything is OK and all is well. Inside, I’m a mess. I worry about a lot of things, overthink almost everything, am lazy and really don’t have it all together at all. I’m like a duck — on the surface, all looks good, but underneath, I’m paddling like the dickens. I’m learning to be more real with myself and others, but it’s not easy.

    • John O'Leary

      Lori, thank you for sharing so vulnerably! It’s okay to be messy and not okay – and I’m so happy that you are learning to be more real. Enjoy the process, my friend. Often times the most important things are not the easy thing. J

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