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Welcome to Day 4 of the IN AWE 21-Day Challenge! Today, we spark inspiration, meaning and joy by cultivating REUNITING:

“The sweetness of reunion is the joy of heaven.” – Richard Paul Evans

CHALLENGE: Identify a person who made a profound impact on you, but time, distance or “busyness” has led to separation. Now, get ready for a reunion!

INSPIRATION: A large, committed healthcare team was responsible for my recovery. Yet there was no one more impactful or inspirational than Nurse Roy. He taught me to believe I could walk again when many didn’t even think I’d live.

Twenty-seven years after leaving his care, a client in Alabama reunited us! It was amazing for me and my hero, my nurse, to reunite. Watch the reunion video here.


ACTION: Too often too much goes unsaid between us + those who inspired us to become the best versions of ourselves. Reach out to one friend, coach, teacher or family member thanking them for all they’ve done for you and the impact they still have on you. 

Share your “Nurse Roy’s name” and how they inspired you in the comments below or on social media, tagging me + using #inawe. 

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 book IN AWE. Order your copy + see all the fun behind the scenes at ReadInAwe.com.

38 replies on “In Awe 21-Day Challenge – Day 4”

Joop my former leader at The Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club was my inspirer. He believed in me when I did not belief in myself. Whenever I feel that I am not on the right track, I call him to chat and he is always there to support

Mary was my principal when I was a 1st year teacher. She went on to become our superintendent. I’m blessed to call her my friend. She inspires me because the first thing she says whenever you have a need or problem is, “How can I help?” It’s such a different thing from, “Can I help?” She inspires me to try to be more selfless.

Pastor Frank Riley, who warmly welcomed me to the church that became my home for many years, imtroducing himself to me (as I sat in the back row on my first visit) as, “the pastor guy around here”. He and his wife also allowwd me to join a small group in their home.

There were no airs or graces about our meeting or friendship, no particular moments or significant events/actions. But she was there in a time of transition in my life and her soft nature, her smile, her quirks and always being available for a chat was what I needed in that time and for what I will forever be grateful and hold her dear to my heart. Although she has moved away and we didn’t get to develop our friendship as much as I would have loved to, she is still someone who I think about and smile and I so look forward to seeing her again.

Anna Vladimirovna Vitsentsik. She was my teacher in school. I enjoyed every class she did, I started enjoying chemistry (her subject) and I did my best to be her fav student. She gave the best advice, she could understand every single person and see beauty inside them. She could inspire. She believed in her student as in her own children.

Reunion – What I would not give to be able to visit, chat and enjoy a pot of coffee with my Dad, my “Nurse Roy”. When he suffered a stroke the doctor said it damaged his heart It was just a matter of time (maybe months) when he would aspirate, get pneumonia, have a heart attack and pass away. Not a lot to look forward to. Well, my Dad was a gentle fighter. He picked up the pieces, did his therapy and lived independently finally passing away from complications from the initial stroke 18 years later. He has been in heaven for 14 years. Dad never complained. His speech was affected and he continued to be the best Dad ever. Oh, how I miss Sunday mornings with him. My young son and I would go to his home after mass. Dad would have a fresh pot of coffee waiting for me. Bread would be ready to be toasted and eggs were next to the frying pan. He was there for me during my divorce. He was a hero to my son. His actions set an exceptional example of how to a holy and spiritual live. My Dad, my Hero.

One person I would love to reunite with is my best fried from college (1980-1984), we kept in touch after college and even visited one another, I was in Florida, she was in Eastern Kentucky. But, something happened, and I don’t know what it was, but after I married a mutual friend from college (he had been a married student, we babysat his young daughter together while in school)she all of a sudden cut off communications with me. I had tried several times to reach out to her to find out what was going on to no avail. Just recently, I found her address on line and sent her a letter, but have not received any response. I called and talked with a gentleman, I assume to be her husband, and he was going to have her call me, but she never has called back. I miss her, she was a true friend, we laughed and cried together, and sometimes she just held my hand through difficult situations. There is a hole where she had been and no one else can fill it. If I ever get to reunite with her it will be one of gratefulness and joy!

There are so many and I am lucky to have stayed in touch with those near and dear to my heart and make a point to reach out and stay connected (although a reminder like this brought those names to the top of the list to re-connect with). I know this is a bit odd, but Dr Wayne Dyer is my man today. He made a profound impact on my life as a beautiful soul and one of the Grandfathers of spirituality, whatever we call ‘God’ and higher consciousness. He was so beautiful how he told his story and talked about his challenges and growth in his life. I never knew him personally, but followed him. I credit Dr Dyer with my deep dive into truth, love and meaning in my own life. A journey that will only deepen, never end. RIP Dr Dyer – what a legacy you and so many others that spread in the World leave. John O’Leary, hats off to you as well for all you do. Grateful to be a part of this.

There are so many people who have made an impact on my life. One was an amazing teacher I had in high school name Ed Mahevic. He made learning fun. He made it introspective and he made me feel alive and more included in school. He gave us a voice.

David.. I call him King David because he’s that wise. David lives in Tennessee, I’m in Illinois. My mom died in 2004 way too soon. I was angry and didn’t understand why God didn’t heal her. Our paths crossed in a chat room online. David straightened me out with words of encouragement and reality. Since then he’s been my rock when I’m struggling with lifes challenges. He’s always there to listen and straighten me out when needed which is quite frequent.

Tom Hood is my Roy. First a friend in 1985 (and always a friend) and now a boss, since 1997. He has believed in me, challenged me and shown me the value I bring to our organization . . . even when I didn’t believe, thought I couldn’t, and didn’t see it.

I have a Danny – the man that looked beyond my resume skill set to see someone who would be a loyal and solid employee. He provided lessons in real life and constantly challeneged me to be what he knew I could.
I try to catch up with him once ever 2 years, to laugh over old memories and reconnect in the possibilites still ahead

There are many but one would be my grandpa who taught me to have dreams and reach for them on your own and dont depend on others to make your dream happen.

Another would be my high school child care teacher Mrs. Duden without taking that class as a time filler and her shining light on my future as a teacher I would not be impacting so mamy little lives every year and would have gone on to be a vet.

I am celebrating my 21st year in education and have been pleasantly surprised and delighted with the outpouring of creativity, patience, willingness to try something new and different, and positivity from my teacher colleagues, as well as my students, while we attempt to distance learn. Their enthusiasm is inspiring. That and your reunion post are reminding me of all the amazing teachers I have been blessed to call mentors: Mary Ann Robinson, Norma Davis, Arlene Pearlstine, Walker Covin, Bob Wolpert, Steve Landry, Paul Ragan, Rose Barnes, Lynn Barron, Brigitte Stringfield, Norma Davis, Joe Schmidt, Margaret Fullerton, and Carol Monroe. This list is solely those who led my classrooms. I better get busy tracking them down to say thanks! I have a whole other list of current mentors and warriors in education, but they are easier to find!

I met Monica at a job I worked at about 15 years ago. She was always a positive and inspirational person. She taught me how to smile on the bad days, and the power of self talk.

This was difficult because like many of us, my life has been influenced by some amazing people. Kay B. and Dave H. were two high school teachers that had a big impact on both my personal growth and my future professional choice. I grew up in a very small town. There were 25 in my graduating class. I became a teacher because of their influence. I am still in contact with both Kay and Dave and run into them on occasion. I taught high school business for 38 years and retired in June of 2018.

Dr. Richard Feinberg – Professor, Purdue University

I had Dr. Feinberg for a Leadership Strategies class at Purdue University. Very unique teaching style. The most distinct classroom memories I had at Purdue. His leadership principles reach far beyond the scope of the classroom and provide valuable life lessons both in the workplace and at home. The experience in his class provided me the foundation to grow as a leader in my own life. He gave me the gift of looking at the big picture and how as leaders our decisions often reach beyond the obvious.

My former boss, Father Marion. He influenced me to get back to going to mass and supported my teaching and coaching abilities.

Wow.. there have been so many people that have made a HUGE difference with me. Besides my parents, Dr. Wells Cook from Central Michigan University was the biggest one of them all. It was because of him that I got into teaching when that was not even on my radar. His story captivated me after the first 10 – 15 minutes of meeting him in my first class Sophomore year, Grawn Hall, I think it may have been room 102?? 2nd row on the end, sitting next to the wall?? Over the years I tried to take every class he taught. I would go to talk with him whenever he had office hours, we would meet on campus, he took me out to lunch & he even came to my wedding. He passed away from cancer probably 13 years or so…. but I told him thank you everytime we met at a conference. I told him that I loved him for who he was and how he made a difference in my life. I have been trying to be my students’ “Dr. Cook” throughout my career. Side note – when he passed away, the tributes that I read about him – here I thought I was the only one that he made such a big difference with, it was thousands of others. He did the same for others too, the meetings, the coffee, the lunches, the weddings, etc. Amazing!!

I met mine in the emergency room last year. Dr. S stood by my gurney and held my hand and reassured me with words I will not forget. “Joyce, you are here until we get this thing sorted out.” In the weeks to follow she and a wonderful team of doctors and nurses worked together to find the right diagnosis for the puzzling symptoms I presented. She is a well respected rheumatologist but also a kind individual that truly demonstrates her care for patients. She always offered me hope and encouragement.

I have been blessed with so many wonderful, positive and inspirational people in my life. However, in reading this challenge one person in particular came to mind – Dionne. I have such a vivid memory of the first time I met her. We were both six years old and had the same piano teacher who had decided to take us to see “King Kong”. When they picked me up, she was wearing a pretty white dress with her curly hair combed just so. I had cut off jeans, a t-shirt and I can almost bet that my hair had not been touched since early that morning before I had headed outside to play. She smiled at me and off to the movies we went. I feel like somehow in that moment I knew she would be my friend for life. The year I lost my father she returned home for about 6 months and worked in the school where I was a teacher. I told her that God had brought her home because he knew that I needed her. It is funny how whenever life presents with rough times; the phone will ring, and I will hear her voice on the other end saying, “Just wanted to check in”. The best is when we are able to get together in person and catch up, laugh, cry, and make memories.

My hero and inspiration was, and still is, my dad – Charles Arends. Dad passed in 2008 but I still talk with him and I know he intercedes on my behalf.

My dad “got” me from the beginning. He encouraged, corrected, and loved me. I still tell the story of the day I called to tell my parents I was divorcing my husband. Their approval meant everything to me and I was terrified of disappointing them. Dad listened and simply said, “I’m sorry. How can I help?” It was exactly what I needed in that minute.

Mine is an assistant coach from high school basketball who taught me a simple trick to increase my free throw accuracy. I have forgotten his name but I will look it up and try to get in contact.

So far in to the challenge,this is the easiest one for me. My inspiration is a childhood friend, Jane, who lived in the suburb where all parents were your parents, in a “be home when the streetlights come on” neighborhood. We shared the experience of being the oldest of five children with both families comprised of 4 girls and one boy. We shared stupid jokes, “What is God’s phone number?” “Et cum spiritu tuo” (Yes, still some of the Latin used back then.) We shared dreams and schemes playing Barbies on the hill overlooking a cemetery- it was quiet and there we no younger siblings hanging around. After 8th grade graduation, we went to different high schools and lost touch. I thought of her frequently and hoped her life went well, but never did anything about it. Last year our grade school 50 year reunion brought us face to face. It was as if we hadn’t missed a beat. She was still the perky, beautiful soul I remembered. When we hugged, she said, “You know, I’ve always prayed for you everyday.” What more could anyone wish for from a friend.

“Miss Blue”, (well, later became, Mrs. Portz, but to me? , “Missblue” like, one word running together), became my Elementary School Music Teacher from 4th -6th grade. What was so “Nurse Roy” about her? She saw ME! Her smile was as big & white as her laugh was hearty & her voice strong & beautiful. She was “music on wheels”, kinda like meals! Literally, she’s roll into our classroom having to cart all her belongings with her, not just down the hall from room to room- but she’s always have to load her car up- rain or snow- & Cary her belongings to tge three schools she traveled between. And still, she smiled & sang. Taught us about Dear Liza’s hole in her bucket & oiled our entire class into the Principal’s Office after another teacher was certain she could never reign in “our group” – she not only had us prepare a song to sing- she had us learn it in both voice & in sign language~ Debbie Boone’s, “You Light Up My Life”… ALL the verses!

Toward the end of 4th grade we got to take a field trip to The Good Samaritan Village” “aka: “Old People’s Home”). We sang a few songs & then were to chat with the residents & eat ice cream. I remember moving from resident to resident, giving hugs & shaking hands. Pushing residents around in their wheelchairs. When it was time to load the bus, I was still inside saying my final goodbyes. It took me so long, I guess, all the seats in the school bus were taken so I had to sit w/Missblue. I was nervous cuz I was last. She took roll call again & the whipped around next to me. Looking straight ahead she said, “Anyone ever tell you, you’re neat?” “Umm, ‘neat’” I shrugged? “”Yeah, neat. Neat!” Her head shaking affirmative. “No, they’ve told me I’m short, fat, & loud, but never neat!” Without abandoned & she turned & flashed me all her white, straight teeth & declaimed, wow, they’ve called me all those things too! And, I want you to know something. You are a neat kid. I see how you treat people- kids at school, teachers- and today, in there, all those older adults, those grandmas & grandpas?” She asked if I knew any of them. I assured her I didn’t. And she said, THAT’s what I mean. You, are NEAT. You just treat everybody like you know them!” I’ve never ever forgot that bus ride- and of course, I’ve never ever forgotten what a difference “Missblue” made for me not only that day, but for always! I remember how I felt being seen by her- and what it meant to me & my heart to have her refer to me as, “neat”. Thank you, “Missblue”, for being such a neat human-loving. For seeing me. For connecting with me. I loved you then & I love you now! #inawe Cynthia Portz, Music Teacher, Pipestone Area Public Schools, Pipestone, MN

I am so humbled by this. To be able to touch even one child’s life, to let them know they are special in any way, and recognize even just one “Neat” thing about them that might stick with them, This is why we teach.

About one year ago, my boat had overflowed and I was sinking. I was invited to a celebration at my brother’s house and I could no longer keep the disguise of captaining my own ship! Family members and friends sitting across from me at the table saw my breakdown and I had no where to hide. I stormed out of the house on a cold winter night and stood shaking outside. Looking up at the clear night sky I felt a hand upon my shoulder and gentle words” spoken, “Is it true?” My friend Kat’s hand was on my shoulder asking me a question one might have wondered, “of all things to say she asks, ‘Is it true?’” I paused for a long while in silence and then said, “No!” She then looked at the clear winter night sky with me and said, “Then it’s as clear as you can see the stars in the night, tonight. You are beautiful and perfect the way you are.”
Her question came from words only God knew what to ask and it was the question I had been seeking my whole life.

(Kat continues to be part of my life today. That night was not the only night she came to my aid. Although we don’t spend a lot of time together. We send an occasional blessing, prayer or thought to one another. I have asked her to be my sponsor as I participate in the Holy Sacraments of baptism and confirmation, next spring. The greatest reunion ever!)

It’s funny, but as a child/kid you don’t usually recognize the value of the teachings of a parent. But, looking back, I’d have to say my “Nurse Roy” would be my mom. Eventually, as an adult with a child of my own, my mom and I became business colleagues and even partners in some aspects of our professional work. She always led from the front on health in her wellness office. Only just yesterday, I said to my dad, ” Mom would be so proud of us for all that we are doing to take charge of our health now.” I hope I can offer as much inspiration and light in my friends’, and clients’ lives for their own wellness journeys the way she was for me.

It’s funny, but as a child/kid you don’t usually recognize the value of the teachings of a parent. But, looking back, I’d have to say my “Nurse Roy” would be my mom. Eventually, as an adult wiyh a child of my own, my mom and I became business colleagues and even partners in some aspects of our professional work. She always led from the front on health in her wellness office. Only just yesterday, I said to my dad, ” Mom would be so proud of us for all that we are doing to take charge of our health now.” I hope I can offer as much inspiration and light in my friends’, and clients’ lives for their own wellness journeys the way she was for me.

My professional inspiration was Dianne who provided me with support and mentorship at a turning point in my career. She challenged me to become a better leader and lean into my strengths to drive change. I reached out to her today to say thank you and am appreciative of her continued support even though we are miles apart working for different companies. Life is good!

My good friend Steve Acree stuck with me when my life came apart, the anniversary of the final chapter being 10 years ago this week. Through the ugly, the tears, the hopelessness, yet with the belief that even this could be used to grow me and help others…Steve was there. I’m so grateful! #inawe

This is definitely another timely challenge message for us considering the challenges we currently face. We all need encouragement, and we all need to know our efforts have made a difference in the lives of others. It was just a few days ago that I made the decision to reach out to many who have impacted me… And now with this challenge, of course I’ll do it. Without a doubt, my wife of almost 19 years is my “nurse Roy”. She has helped me to become a better version of me on just about every level. And, specifically, right now, she is helping me grow and in trust and surrender to the Lord. It’s very intersesting, I, along with a few other people introduced Christianity to Pei (she’s from communist China) 20 years ago. And today, she is the one helping me to stay on course and lean into what God is doing in me and through me. God never misses an opportunity to show us His mercy, His instruction, and His grace. And more often than we probably realize, His actions, intentions, and even His corrections comes through those that we love most.

I’m a therapist and my colleague was my Lifesaver today! She gave me information on a free Telehealth secure, compliant site so that I can continue do therapy with my clients. I texted her my heartfelt appreciation

My “Nurse Roy” is my former youth pastor Kevin Weber. As a teen, my father was rarely around and took little interest in me. My mother was around, but not emotionally. Pastor Weber took the time to mentor me and show me how to help people spiritually. I now pastor a church because of his encouragement and because he saw a young man desperately seeking training and a father figure.

I have two nurse Roy’s. Lynn and Colette. I was in a car accident 4 years ago, ended up with a TBI which I was unaware of, thinking everything was fine – no joke from day one. They told me I’d be fun in a year after I had a brain scan 4 months later. Turns out I wasn’t. I fell asleep at my desk, while driving and couldn’t find good speech or the words for that matter. I went to my PCP Colette and she sent me to St. Luke’s rehab and I steered working with Lynn who changed my life. She was so positive and helpful. She helped me explore and even though she didn’t have all the answers she knew the only way forward for me was to try. Collette stopped and actually listened to me- first doc to do so. Lynn helped me truck forward- always improving. Without those two and their positivity I’m not sure what kind of person I’d be. Cheers to the unknown. Cheers to the growth.

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