On Fire – “#7 – Are You Ready?”


Are You Ready?

We have journeyed together through “On Fire.”  This is the last chapter. Be sure to go to my website to submit your comments to be added into the drawing for a FREE COPY of “ON FIRE - The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life”  by John O’Leary.

When John is finally released from the hospital after 5 months, he recalls that it was his father whose words saved his life. 

“Before Jack Buck appeared.  Before the therapists stretched me.  Before Nurse Roy walked in.  Before the staff worked to save me.  Before Mom appeared and asked that extraordinary, inspired question.  Before anyone had a chance to do anything, the first person to visit me in the emergency room was Dad.  Dad hadn’t been told the extent of my injuries.  He hadn’t been warned about what he was about to step into….Nothing could have prepared him for it.  His baby boy was going to die.  Fear flooded him.  What could he say?  Why was this happening?  Then Dad saw past the wounds, pushed past the fear, beheld his son, and immediately stepped in with love.  He cut through his fear, the shock, and sadness, came directly to me leaned over, and smiled.  he told me he was proud of me. and told me that he loved me.  I LOVE YOU.  Three simple words that changed my world, and they can change yours.”

“Whether you choose to be seized by love or fear will affect everything that happens in your life.  Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.  Fall into fear, stay in fear, and it will decide everything.”

Fear shut the door on a possible relationship with the “one.”  Even though he had learned to write, drive a car, shoot baskets, throw a baseball, he had no idea if anyone would want him.  But it all changed with the “one.” When she wanted to love him like a sister, he slammed the door shut.  After a year or so he still had feelings for her. He discovered that he had had very selfish motives.  He let go of his fear of not being lovable, and opened the door of his heart to love her even if it wasn’t exactly as he had planned.

The 7th choice to ignite a radically inspired life:


Love is truly the key.  When John focused on simply loving her and enjoying the moment with no strings attached. No expectations. No hidden agenda.  It was more than enough.  She fell for him.  They married and now have 4 children and live in St. Louis, MO.

The number one thing holding us back from living a radically inspired life is fear.  Fear keeps you from being accountable.  Fear keeps you from embracing your story.  Fear keeps you from going “All in”.  Fear keeps you locked in victim mentality.  Fear keeps you from growing and stretching.  Fear keeps you focused on yourself.  Fear keeps you stuck right where you are.  BUT THERE IS ANOTHER WAY -  Choose LOVE!  It’s a choice and it’s up to us.

I have LOVED sharing this book with you.  I hope you have been inspired to LIVE A RADICALLY INSPIRED LIFE!

Don’t forget to enter the drawing for a FREE COPY OF “ON FIRE”  by entering your comments on my blog on my website.  I will draw a winner on Saturday morning, December 3, 9 AM.






“On Fire – #6 What More Can You Do?” + Drawing for Free Book!


“What More Can You Do?

One life can, and always does, change the world.

John remembers a life changing visit by one man as he lay in the hospital after the fire:

“I was just lying in my hospital bed.
I couldn’t move. (I’m strapped to the bed.)
I couldn’t talk.  (The ventilator prevents it.)
I couldn’t see.  (My eyes are swollen shut.)
I was in the dark, in pain and totally scared.
But also dreaming, hoping, and praying.
And listening.
It was in listening that I was blown away.
You see, I like sports….I love baseball.
The St. Louis Cardinals are my team…… Most of the time we listen to the radio to “watch” the ballgame. We listen to a guy named Jack Buck.  He’s the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals….
And he is the guy who walked into my hospital room.
He said,”Kid.  Wake up.”  I recognized his voice right away.
“Listen to me.  You are going to live.  You got that?  You are going to survive.  And when you get out of here, we are going to celebrate!  We’ll call it John O’Leary Day at the ballpark.”
When he left I was still tied down to the bed, eyes swollen shut, unable to move, unable to speak, unable to do anything…. But I was absolutely fired up!!

In his scariest, bleakest days, ONE man’s voice shone light into his darkness.  ONE visit gave him a promise to cling to.  ONE voice echoed hope.  And Jack only got the opportunity to have such an impact because ONE person told him John’s story.  Jack asked himself, “What more can I do?”  He saw possibilities not limitations.  He took action where others watched idly by and focused on making a difference for others.

(Jack later returns many times to encourage John to write thank you notes, John had no fingers, in return for signed baseballs.  He ends up with 60 signed baseballs.)

Jack chose to lead a radically inspired life.  He is an example of the 6th choice:  on-fire-6-com

“Believing in the power of ONE allows us to see where we could make a difference.  it allows us to see the opportunity of ‘What more can I do?’   It jars us from sleepiness, wakes us up to pay attention, and demands that we take action.  ……  Believing opens your heart to love, your eyes to possibility and your life to the truth that your life, that every life, matters profoundly.”

Yes!  You can also make a difference in someone’s life.

You are the ONE to believe,

to love, to see possibility and to take action!!



Don’t forget to comment in the comment section on my website HERE! to enter the drawing for a FREE copy of “On Fire!”














“On Fire – #5 Can You Say Yes?”

On Fire#5  Can You Say Yes?  

Comfort is popular, but courage changes lives

This chapter has one of the most powerful stories in it about John’s favorite nurse, Big Roy.  Big Roy was always tender and careful until the day that he gets John up to help him learn to walk.  It hurts and John is furious at him.  He cannot bend his legs.  He cannot put weight on his feet.  He has no muscles.  He does not believe he can walk again.

 Big Roy replies, ” Boy, you are going to walk again.  You might as well get used to it.  Come on.  I’ll walk with you.”  

And Big Roy does and says the same thing day after day after day until one day, John did believe that he might walk again.  This conversation changed his life. John is able to tell Big Roy this at a reunion dinner 24 years later. Big Roy was so blessed to know that he mattered.  He did his job.  He loved his work.  He loved his patients but never really understood that he mattered.  He changed John’s life!  He would never forget him!  

This chapter also includes a story of a visit from Glenn Cunningham, who held the world record for the fastest mile at one point and a silver medal winner of the 1936 Olympics.  

Glenn and John had something in common.  They were both burned as young boys.  Glenn and his older brother were starting a fire in a schoolhouse stove and accidentally used gas rather than kerosene.  That can ignited.  His brother died 9 days later.  Glenn was burned all over.  His legs were burned so badly that the doctors wanted to amputate, but his mom begged and promised he would change the bandages daily.  He learned to walk by learning to stand in the yard next to a fence, with many, many falls he proceeded to walking a few steps holding onto the fence to walking around the whole fence to jogging to running to striding, then races and the Olympics.  

Glen told John to picture himself doing whatever he desired to do and not to give up.  “Never give up.  Never quit.”
This conversation changed John’s life as well.

 So come on, let’s love our work and the people in it.  We matter as well!  Who’s life are we changing?


  • Don’t forget to make a comment about John’s story “On Fire” on my blog on my website.  2 more weeks for “On Fire” book review!  I will enter your name into the drawing for a FREE “On Fire” book!!

“On Fire – #4 Why Are You in Jail?”



B+Why are You in Jail?

Change the way you ask a question to transform
the answers you get and the life you lead.


Every chapter in “On Fire” is so full of wisdom and inspiration, and chapter 4 is as well.
In this chapter:
*  John tells about his 7th surgery and how he is encouraged
*  John shares about his hero, his Dad.  Even though he has had Parkinson’s disease for 23 years, he has never complained.  No complaints as his health and energy drains from his body, through falls, broken bones, surgeries, medicine, and pain.  John asked how he could remain so positive and his father answered, “Well, John, I don’t know how I could be negative when I’ve got so much to be grateful for,” while sitting in his wheelchair, struggling to communicate, right arm in a sling from a fall, and having spilled a drink due to his shaking.  He proceeds to tell John for all that he is grateful for.
* Then there is the Nun research on 180 nuns from the Sisters of Notre Dame in Milwaukee, which revealed that 34% of the negative journalers were alive at age 85, BUT 90% of the cheerful journalers were still alive at 85. A decade later, 54% of the most cheerful nuns were still alive compared to 11% of the negative.

Why?  Whatever we focus on in life grows!

It is about perspective.


Choosing Gratefulness!













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“On Fire – #3 Are You All In?”





On Fire

# 3 Are You All In?

“Heroes aren’t always super.  Maybe they are ordinary like you and me.”

John shares about the first time he saw his big brother, Jim, after the fire.  John had been waiting several weeks to tell Jim something.  Using the alphabet board, he clicks his tongue when his father points to the right letters to spell out, “YOU SAVED ME.”  The big brother who was a typical teen, who picked on him, was the one who ran toward him and acted courageously risking his own life for John’s.  He could have pulled back when the fire got too hot, but he stepped back in.  He swung again and again with a mat to put out the flames. He  wrapped him in the mat and carried him outside where he laid him on the wet, snowy ground and rolled around on top of him until the fire was out. Jim had first-degree burns on his hands and arms but still re-entered the smoke-filled house to be sure everyone else was out and called 911.

His 11 year old sister ran to John and put her arms around him.  She told him that it was going to be ok. 
She spoke the divinely inspired words to “Have faith and fight” and held him tightly when he yelled that he wanted to die. His 8 year old sister heard his desire and ran back into the burning house.  She came running back, with soot stains and tears.  He wanted to die, and she lunged toward him with a cup of water, splashing him right in his face.  She had risked her life for a cup of water, begging him to live. She ran back into the house 3 times. This action saved his face and scalp from the 3rd degree burns the rest of his body suffered, and it was from his scalp that the rest of his body received the skin grafts.

“When things get hot, when the fires of life rage around you and against you, you can pull back and retreat and let things be destroyed.  Or, you can step back in and save what matters from the fires that are threatening to destroy your marriage, your career, your joy, your life.” 

So, what causes a person to go “All In?”  It is when we are inspired by some great purpose; a purpose greater than ourselves.  The WHY is our “ignition statement.”

Inspired to fight?!

This quote by Viktor Frankl who was imprisoned during WWII by the Nazis, says it well.  Although he suffered incredible pain, the loss of family and friends, starvation, beatings, and degradation, he continued his psychology practice after his release to help others.

“When you know your why, you can endure any how.”

                                                      Viktor Frankl


I choose purpose,






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to enter for the drawing for a free copy of his book “On Fire.”


“On Fire – #2 What are You Hiding?”

“What are You Hiding?”

John had a miracle in the midst of the horrific fire when his little sister threw water on his face and his face was saved, although 87% of his body had 3rd degree burns. John spent 5 months in the hospital and 3 more months before he was finally free of the wrappings. He then covered up to hide the scars.  Later he hid behind alcohol to “fit in.”

As a young adult, John entered a chaplaincy program and his adviser challenged him to tell his story.  “We all have a story.  We all have unique experiences that make us who we are.  Those experiences create the gift that is you, specifically, and only you, can share with others.”  You cannot help others unless you first know your own story - what you’ve been through and what matters to you.

John’s family never discussed the fire. They chose not to be defined by it until his marriage.  His parents, overflowing with gratitude, wrote a book, “Overwhelming Odds”, about their experience.  He felt exposed, but he realized that the fire happened not only to him but to his family also. He realized the miracle and that it was all a gift.  The fire led to where he is today.  

“The challenges led to experiences that shaped me - the character that drives me, the the faith that guides me, the life around me, and to the possibility in front of me….. It was my story…. and it was time to claim it.”  

The scars remained, but they were there because the wounds had healed. They were evidence of a miracle!

It is time for us to pull off our masks as well and allow the miracle of our lives to shine brightly!  If you want to live a radically inspired life, it is time to embrace your story and to celebrate the amazing miracle of your life.  

The times where we were broken and healed are the spaces that connect us to our fellow humans. Lower your mask and let others into the deepest corners of your heart.  This is where/when you will connect with others!

Seeking to tell my story,





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Comment and tell us how John is relating to you through
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#7 choice to ignite a radically inspired life!

On Fire

“On Fire” – #1 Do You Want to Die?

The specifics of the fire rush through John’s mind as he lays in agonizing pain as the doctors and nurses rush around him in the emergency room.  He does not recognize his body.  He feels desperately alone and then he hears his mom’s voice.  She will make things better!  She can fix this!

She pulls back the curtain and smiles at John.  He begins to cry and asks her if he is going to die.  He so wants to hear her say that she will take care of everything.  But she says the most surprising thing that makes all the difference.  She takes his hand gently and looks into his eyes and asks, “John, do you want to die?  It’s your choice, not mine.”  WHAT?!!!  Is that what you say to a scared little boy in the ER?!  John replied, “I do not want to die.  I want to live.”  His mother responds, “Then, John, you need to fight like you’ve never fought before.  You need to take the hand of God, and you need to walk this journey with Him.  Race forward with everything you have.  Daddy and I will be with you every step of the way.  But John, you listen to me:  you need to fight for it.”  YOU need to fight for it.

This was a moment in time that changed everything that followed.  That day, when John was teetering on the edge of death, his mom courageously walked to the edge of the cliff with him.  She pointed away from the cliff and to the mountain.  It was huge and looked impossible to climb but she said that he could do it.

John should not have survived the fire.  He was burned on 100% of his body and 87% were 3rd degree burns - deep through the skin, muscle, and even to the bone in some places.  His scalp was the only place skin could be possibly removed for the donor skin.  His lungs were damaged from smoke.  This little boy expected to die is now abundantly alive, happily married with 4 children enjoying amazing lives.

John’s question to us is -“Do you want to die?”

“Your first choice you must make to ignite a radically inspired life is to own your life.”

Leave entitlement behind and realize that it is up to YOU to make the changes in your life!

Choose to own it!  Choose life!!

Choosing Life with you!



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