Terry Johnnson

Terry Johnsson
Episode 122

Join host Japhet De Oliveira for a lively discussion with Terry Johnsson, Community and Mission Integration Executive at Adventist Health Portland, as they discuss his time in the military as part of the President's Honor Guard at the White House, the importance of believing in oneself, and the value of getting out of one's comfort zone.
Libsyn Podcast
"I really want to work hard at loving people that are different than me. And that's something I do on a surface level now, but I really think there is so much to it of learning different cultures, different people, and then just to let them know that the thing that we have in common is love."

Narrator: Welcome friends to another episode of The Story & Experience podcast. Join your host, Japhet De Oliveira with his guest today and discover the moments that shape us, our families and communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, welcome friends to another episode of The Story & Experience podcast. I'm delighted with my guest. I have known him for many years. This is a long journey to arrive at this place where we get to talk to each other on recorded air here with you guys. There are 100 questions. If you're brand new to the podcast they progressively become more open as you get closer to 100 and they're about stories and experiences that shape this person into the leader that they are today. So I'm going to begin with the first 10 and then they'll open the floor and they will pick the numbers where they want to go. So let's begin with the first one. Could you tell us your name and has anybody ever mispronounced it or lose it in some shape?

Terry Johnsson: Yes. My full name throws people off because my complete full name is Terry Lyndon Johnsson. No relationship to President Lyndon Johnson, but it's Terry Lyndon Johnsson.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's very apropos considering the experiences that you've had in your life.

Terry Johnsson: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, Terry, what do you do for work?

Terry Johnsson: I'm currently the Vice President for Community and Mission Integration at Adventist Health Portland.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. And how long have you been doing that?

Terry Johnsson: It's been a total of eight years.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Terry Johnsson: A very fast eight years.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow, wow. Yeah, that is quick. That's quick.

Terry Johnsson: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: But you've had quite an interesting array of experiences in your life, in work. You haven't been in this role your entire life?

Terry Johnsson: No. In fact, I come from the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon, and at 18 I wanted to travel the world. That's all I knew I wanted to do was travel. Except two things. I didn't like school and the second I had no money. So how do you travel? How do this? You join the military. And so I didn't like boats and so, airplanes. And so I joined the United States Air Force and ended up stationed in Washington DC my entire military career. So I never left Washington. There went traveling the world.

Japhet De Oliveira: So what did you do in your military time?

Terry Johnsson: I was part of a unique group known as the President's Honor Guard at the White House. The Air Force, they select 120 men and women out of 1 million people. And we are assigned to the White House and do all ceremonial duties in the Washington DC area, including Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington Cemetery, all the state dinners and banquets and all that fancy stuff there in DC.

Japhet De Oliveira: Now I've been to your office and I've seen some pictures, so you got to tell ... Everyone's listening. What kind of pictures do you have in your office of yourself and-

Terry Johnsson: Like everybody, I have younger pictures of me. If you look at them, I'm guilty of being that one, of putting that profile picture of a young Terry. But yes, pictures of me in the younger days with different presidents. I worked for three presidents, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton were the three presidents that I worked with. And so I have photographs of me doing different things throughout the DC area during those times.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's amazing, amazing stuff. And you have used a lot of this experience to become a motivational speaker and community investor. I mean, you're very integrated in this community, right?

Terry Johnsson: Yes, yes, yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's fantastic. Thank you Terry for telling us that. Now, let me ask you a practical question. In the morning when you get up, first drink of the day, water, tea, coffee, liquid green smoothie. What does Terry have?

Terry Johnsson: When I first get up, this is a crazy [inaudible 00:03:47] because I've started this habit. I don't know how it started, but I drink a cup of water with lemon juice.

Japhet De Oliveira: Ooh.

Terry Johnsson: I think I read that somewhere. It does something or it doesn't or whatever. And so for the past couple years, every morning I get up and I have a nice cold glass of water with fresh lemon juice in it.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic, man.

Terry Johnsson: That is my boost for the day day.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's your boost for the day.

Terry Johnsson: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, I like that. I like that. Great. And are you an early riser or late night owl?

Terry Johnsson: I'm both. And that's not a good position, not a good thing to be in, but I am literally both. Because of my military training I wake up quite early and if you put your hand on our door handle outside, instantly I wake up.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Terry Johnsson: Yes. My wife will tell you it's a ... She has never seen anything like it.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really.

Terry Johnsson: But any sounds or whatever-

Japhet De Oliveira: A very light sleeper.

Terry Johnsson: A very light sleeper. And then I do my best thinking at night. When everyone's asleep I can just sit there and reflect and write and that's when I kind of do my thinking.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow. Hey, that's interesting. All right, great. So this morning when you got up, what's early for you by the way?

Terry Johnsson: Early for me is usually around 5:30, is what I try to-

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, so 5:30 this morning, first thought that went through your mind.

Terry Johnsson: I'm going to be sitting in front of Japhet, what am I going to say?

Japhet De Oliveira: You know, Terry, I don't think this is going to be a problem for you. That's good. Now, when you were a child in Portland and you grew up here, what did you imagine you were going to grow up to be when you were a child?

Terry Johnsson: I really wanted to be a police officer. As a kid, I was so excited about that and I loved everything about it. But when I joined the Air Force, that was my original training was police. And so I was able to do that, but then as soon as I graduated police academy, I got selected to the White House.

Japhet De Oliveira: You've done a lot of work with the police department here, right?

Terry Johnsson: Yes, with the police department and I'm also an official ambassador of the city, a group called, The Rosarians, the oldest civic group in the city of Portland, founded in 1912. They're the caretakers of the Portland Rose Garden, the Rose Festival, all of that. And so I was appointed to office by the mayor in 2021.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, all right. Right in the middle of COVID.

Terry Johnsson: Right in the middle of COVID.

Japhet De Oliveira: Good for you man. Good for you. All right. Hey, last question that I'm going to head over to you, leadership question. Are you a backseat driver?

Terry Johnsson: No, I'm not. My leadership style would be more King Arthur. Even as a kid, I loved reading the Round Table and I do my best thinking when you put a group around a table together and then we bounce off ideas and then if it's my project and then I will make the final decision. But I want everyone's input and I like to play with it, wrestle with it, let's hear something that's a little bit different and how would that look? And so that's been kind of my leadership style even in the military. That was my unique leadership style as a sergeant.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic, man.

Terry Johnsson: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: I'm really pleased. All right, good. Floor is open, Terry, where would you like to go? You get to pick a number now.

Terry Johnsson: All right. Here we go.

Japhet De Oliveira: Right.

Terry Johnsson: This is what I've been thinking about.

Japhet De Oliveira: Sure, of course.

Terry Johnsson: All right, let's start with number 15.

Japhet De Oliveira: Number 15. All right. What's the one thing, Terry, that you always misplace?

Terry Johnsson: I would say my keys. But I have gotten better because my wife, she got me an Apple tag.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah.

Terry Johnsson: And that has changed my life. I'm telling you, that's if I don't lose my phone.

Japhet De Oliveira: Very funny.

Terry Johnsson: Yeah, but as long as I don't lose my phone, I'm okay.

Japhet De Oliveira: You're fine, you're fine. All right, good. All right, that was 15. So where next up or down?

Terry Johnsson: Let's go up.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay.

Terry Johnsson: Let's do number 20.

Japhet De Oliveira: 20, all right. Oh, tell me about something ... And this is good for you. Something that you would rate 10 out of 10.

Terry Johnsson: Oh, 10 out of 10?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah.

Terry Johnsson: That is a tough one. Now would that be a personal thing? Would it be a work thing?

Japhet De Oliveira: How would you choose? I'll let you choose.

Terry Johnsson: Okay.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, feels good. You're like, "No, define it."

Terry Johnsson: Oh, man. It's going to sound crazy, but I would say consistency with my dog.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Terry Johnsson: Yes. Her name is Lucille Ball and she's exactly what you would imagine Lucille Ball as a dog. And she's a boxer and so those who have experienced with boxers, you understand it's all over the place. And to make matters even more complicated is that she's a COVID puppy and we got her at seven weeks and we live in a high rise in downtown Portland.

Japhet De Oliveira: Right.

Terry Johnsson: And so can you imagine potty training a dog that has to use the elevator at seven weeks? And so that's where I say the 10 of 10. It was, you had to be consistent.

Japhet De Oliveira: That stretched you.

Terry Johnsson: Yes, yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: Good for you. Well, I'm glad she's a 10 out of 10.

Terry Johnsson: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, that was 20. Where next?

Terry Johnsson: Okay, let's try 22.

Japhet De Oliveira: 22. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

Terry Johnsson: Oh, boy. If I could be anywhere.

Japhet De Oliveira: Anywhere, yeah.

Terry Johnsson: I really think I would be in the Island of St. Maarten.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Terry Johnsson: Maybe that means I need to take a vacation. But St. Maarten, I really just enjoyed St. Maarten. I felt like I was getting double for my money because as you know, there's a Dutch side and there's a French side and the food is French on the French side and the food is Dutch on the other side and they use American currency. And so you can just have the best of all worlds there. And so when I get stressed and I think of just a time or place that I need to just go and reflect and those are good memories for me there.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, that's good. I like that.

Terry Johnsson: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: Good picture. All right, where next?

Terry Johnsson: Let's go number 30.

Japhet De Oliveira: 30. All right. Oh, tell us about something that you're really looking forward to.

Terry Johnsson: Okay. I'm really looking forward to go to Australia again. We go once a year. My wife is from Australia, and so we go once a year to Australia. And this year it's going to be unique because her parents are from a little small fishing village, Tikun it's called. And her parents, her grandparents and her great grandparents, they go back like six generations of fishermen.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, wow.

Terry Johnsson: But a lot of the cousins and stuff, they're in university and they don't want to do fishing anymore. So it's just the uncles that are still out there doing fishing. And I'm going to go and I'm going to hang out with them and I'm going to fish with them and I'm going to get on those little boats and the whole works. And so that's something I am really looking forward to.

Japhet De Oliveira: Have you fished before?

Terry Johnsson: Yes, I have.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. All right. All right.

Terry Johnsson: Yes, I grew up fishing, but this is kind of the fishing that you could imagine. I wouldn't say net, it's not quite net fishing, but it's kind of like that. It's commercial fishing. And you may have seen the TV shows, The Greatest Catch and all that stuff.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes. Yes, right.

Terry Johnsson: And this is kind of that feeling that you're going to be with a crew and you're going to be on that boat and you're going to ... So I'm really looking forward to that.

Japhet De Oliveira: So not seasick?

Terry Johnsson: Not hopefully.

Japhet De Oliveira: Good for you man. Good for you. All right. Where next? That was 30.

Terry Johnsson: Okay, let's try 35.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Oh, share a special interest or unique talent that you have?

Terry Johnsson: Oh, right. I would say it's connecting with young people and especially young people with disabilities. And the reason for that is that I struggled with dyslexia and just challenges in school. And some reason I feel that I have a gift of being able to sit down with young people that are struggling, that may have low self-esteem and be able to just breathe life into them. And by them hearing my story and me sharing with them what they could do. And so that would probably be the thing that would stand out to me.

Japhet De Oliveira: Now maybe, I guess, don't know this, but I should call you Dr. Terry Johnsson. So a person who had dyslexia pretty hard and lots of learning difficulties, you've overcome a lot and made it successful. What would you say is a secret of success that somebody listening to would like, "Ooh, that would be helpful."

Terry Johnsson: Yeah. My biggest struggle was believing in myself.

Japhet De Oliveira: Interesting.

Terry Johnsson: And once I got to the point where I could believe in myself, believe that God did make me great, I could do great things, it was life-changing. I had a teacher, her name was Thelma Winters. And for whatever reason ... Actually she was the toughest teacher. If you asked anyone in the Portland area that attended the particular Christian school that I attended, she was a tough lady.

And for whatever reason, Thelma brought me a book because I was failing in her class. I was definitely not ... If there was a grade lower than an F, I was at that grade. So Thelma pulled me aside and says, "Terry, I'm going to have you read a book and every chapter, you simply write me a book report on that chapter. I will guarantee you, I will let you pass the class." And so the book she got me was, The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.

I had never heard of him or heard of the book, but she knew exactly what she was doing. Because Dr. Peale would just stress, you put your faith in God and you can do anything and just get rid of the negative thinking and you can't do this and all this stuff that I've heard. But when you have to write it and you're not a good writer and so you really have to concentrate what you're going to say. And years later, Thelma lived to be 103-years-old.

Japhet De Oliveira: Of course, she did.

Terry Johnsson: She was actually walking three miles a day till she was 99-years-old. And she actually put in her will that I would do her funeral. And so right here in the city of Portland, I was able to do her funeral. But her granddaughter was able to tell me that, my grandmother knew exactly what she was doing with you Terry. That she knew that you just felt so bad about yourself, that she had to get some positivity in your thinking. And it just really changed me.

It really changed me and I could just believe that I could do stuff that life was not impossible. In fact, when I was at the White House and that's when they discovered I had dyslexia, anyone who carries a gun near the president, you have to take what we call a presidential psychological evaluation and it's just a fancy test to see if you're crazy or not. That's what it boils down to. And I passed, so at least I wasn't crazy then, but now.

But what ended up happening is that afterwards they had said everyone had passed the test except they would like to see one person, a Terry Johnsson. And I remember because in that particular test, it's three days of testing and you have Secret Service there, CIA agents, anyone who's going to be near that five feet radius of the president with a gun. And so, one of the guys I became friends with, a Secret Service agent, he walked by me and said, "Man, you must have cheated. Those guys are going to get you."

And so I'm horrified. Why did they want to see me? And so make a long story short, I go up to the instructor, I waited till everyone had left the room. That way if I was arrested, but she said, "Do you know that you're going to be the first handicapped person to work for Ronald Reagan and his team?" I said, "Handicapped?" She said, "Yeah, don't you know ...?" What are you talking about? "You have dyslexia and you have one of the worst cases we've seen and we're just wondering what in the world ..."

But that's when I discovered that I had dyslexia and, Japhet, it was like a light bulb would rock off in my head. I am not dumb. I've been saying for years that those letters looked funny and they looked backwards and all that stuff. And so I joined the National Dyslexic Association and they started giving me tools, tools to use to learn with.

And one of the most challenging things they wanted me to do at age 24 was to take a college class. Up until that time, I'm just worried about stripes. I'm getting more stripes, I'm not worrying about degrees and all that stuff. And I took my very first college class using the principles that I've learned from the National Dyslexic Association and I passed with a B. And then I made a decision that I would leave the Honor Guard, the first Honor Guard to ever resign and to become a youth counselor and a youth pastor.

And started just motivation speaking and finding young people who are like little Terry's out there that struggled in school, but people may not necessarily know what's wrong. And so that's what started my journey. And from there all the way up to my doctorate degree, I've been able to use those principles and teach them to other kids.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah. That's fantastic, Terry. That's brilliant. Love it. I love it. I need to tell our listeners, something interesting about you that, I mean, everything you've said is interesting, but I want to add something. When I met Terry again, I think it was like maybe five, six years ago, we were walking through this building and a total stranger just came up to him and said, "You wouldn't happen to be a chaplain, would you?" Do you remember this?

Terry Johnsson: Yeah. I remember that.

Japhet De Oliveira: And I was just in awe. I was in awe that you always present yourself as an approachable person, who your heart is and your personality and your soul and where you serve. And people gravitate towards you for that. So it's a beautiful part of your character. I appreciate that about you, Terry.

Terry Johnsson: I love people. And it also gets me in trouble because I'm on my way to meetings and someone will stop in the hallway and I know their kids. And how do you know about their kids, Terry? And I'm asked, "No, how's the husband? Did he get that job?" So then I'm late to my meeting because, but I do love people.

Japhet De Oliveira: You do love people, for sure.

Terry Johnsson: Yes, yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good, man. All right. Where next, sir?

Terry Johnsson: Let's do number 40.

Japhet De Oliveira: 40. All right. Oh, tell us about a time that you failed. I mean like, yeah, yeah.

Terry Johnsson: Oh. Man. Do we have time? Many, many, many. I would say the thing that probably stands out the most to me is that I woke up one day and I wanted to ride a motorcycle. And I had never had a motorcycle in my life. And I don't know why, I just wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle.

And so I was visiting Portland ... That particular time I was living in Washington DC and I decided to take this course for a motorcycle license. And out of the 20 people there, I was the only one that fell. It was quite embarrassing but I would say this, at the very next day, I got back on the horse and did it again. But that was something that was just, it humbled me very, very fast.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's good. That's good. No worries. All right. Where next, after 40?

Terry Johnsson: Okay. Let's try 42.

Japhet De Oliveira: 42. Oh, on your phone. You have a photo on your phone. What's the story behind the photo on your phone?

Terry Johnsson: Okay. I would say that is ... The photo on my phone would be my wedding. My wedding. My wife, like I've mentioned already, she's from Australia and we met when I did a city-wide youth ... Well, they wanted to do an event in the city of Melbourne that would really reach just kids, public school kids, private school kids, just a city-wide event. And they had never did this before and so I was asked to be the speaker. And so the person who had arranged a whole thing, he had gotten another job by the time they had called me to do this event.

And so the person who took his place was brand-new, her first time ever do an event. And she was used to doing more Christian events and this was something that was city-wide. And so I arrive at the airport and she says, "Now I have to leave, but I've already rented a car for you and here's a list of schools you wanted." Because when I go and I speak at different places, I always ask them, "Is there a juvenile center or something?"

And that's part of the arrangements that I make, so I can actually once again find kids that are struggling. And so she gave me this list of schools that I was scheduled to speak at and keys ... And you're going to find this quite funny. I have never drove on, I would say the right side, and you're going to say the wrong side, but I had never. I'm looking at her like she's crazy.

And this is the day before GPS because she had maps for me. Okay, there's maps in the car and this. And I said, "You know what? I'm sorry. Y'all might just get me on a plane to go home right now because I am not driving, taking out a map, trying to find these six different schools and then be at this big event. So she panicked because, "I've never had an American here. I just assumed they all know how to drive." And so she had a roommate and her roommate had just won Teacher of the Year award.

So they had given her 30 days off and all this stuff. So she called her roommate and said, "We got a problem. The gentleman that's going to drive [inaudible 00:22:54], he won't drive the rental car. And so we're wondering if you can come and drive him?" And so she came and picked me up and became my driver. And we just became friends, we just became good friends. And fast forward 10 years later, we ended up getting married=.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow, from the one drive.

Terry Johnsson: From that one drive. And so the picture that I have on my phone, that's a picture of us getting married in my family's home, City of New Orleans at the beautiful city park there in New Orleans.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. Thanks for sharing that. Okay. Where next?

Terry Johnsson: All right, let's do number 41.

Japhet De Oliveira: 41, all right. Oh, what are you excited about in life right now?

Terry Johnsson: Oh man, there's so many things.

Japhet De Oliveira: I know, I know.

Terry Johnsson: I really enjoy my current role right now and I fully understand we know that in the healthcare world, you have to be fluid, things change, things move. But for this particular period of time, I really enjoy my work. I have the unique gift of being able to reach out to our community is to make sure that our hospital, we're partnering with the community.

We really try hard to have a culture of love. And we try to find other organizations out in the community that are doing that same thing. And so we don't have to reinvent the wheel and I'll give you an example of that. St. Camilla's Church, they had a health fair a few years ago and a very successful health fair. I mean, filled a parking lot up, thousands of people came. And before the Mission Integration approach that we do at Adventist Health, it would've been this.

The marketing team would've heard that they had this successful health fair and we would say, "You know what? We're going to do a health fair and we're going to do ours bigger and better than theirs." And that's kind of what we would do back and forth. But the Mission Integration approach does the exact opposite thing.

Instead, I had a chance to go and meet with the different priests and the ones who put on this health fair and simply said, "Hey, your people in the community are our people. Our people are your people. What can we do to support you?" And I'll never forget, the priest looked at me and says, "Y'all would do that. You're not even part of our denominational healthcare system." I said, "No, no, no. We're all in the community. You're a mile away from us."

And so he says, "Well, I really feel that I have quite a bit of people with illnesses when they do their confessions ... But they're afraid to go to doctors because they're illegal immigrants and they feel they're going to be deported. But I know there's some serious sicknesses. And I said, "What if we were to be able to bring some people over and we were to do some screenings."

And then we are also partnered with an organization called the Richmond Clinic, which is kind of a sanctuary clinic that the records and stuff stay private and all that. And I'll never forget, the priest with tears in his eyes, "You would do that for us. Our own organization is nervous to do that." I said, "Hey bro, if that's loving on people, let's do it." And so we were able to do that, Japhet.

And we discovered over 300 people had severe sicknesses from diabetes to blood ... It was just a list of things and we were able then to refer them to the sanctuary clinic. And that's what Mission Integration is all about, is finding organizations that are already doing good in the community and let's partner with them. And so I spend 50% of my time here in the Portland area are locating these different things. And so when we have patients that may have special needs or our families that need different things that are on our staff, I'm able to say, "Hey, that organization can help you. They're friends with us." And so that's something that really gets me excited.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good. That's wonderful. That's wonderful. Thank you for sharing. All right, we have time for two more.

Terry Johnsson: Two more. Time has just-

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, right.

Terry Johnsson: All right, I'm going to say my two in advance to you.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. All right.

Terry Johnsson: Okay. I'm going to do number 80 and then we want to end on 100.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, okay. All right. All right. Well, number 80. How would you like to change in the future?

Terry Johnsson: As a person or organization?

Japhet De Oliveira: How would you like to change in the future?

Terry Johnsson: Okay.

Japhet De Oliveira: Probably you.

Terry Johnsson: Me, personally.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah.

Terry Johnsson: Okay. I really want to work hard of loving people that are different than me. And that's something I do it on a surface level now, but I really think there is so much to it of learning different cultures, different people and then just to let them know that the thing that we have in common is love. And so that's something that I really, as I get more time in different things, I really want to learn other cultures and other foods and other people. And so that's how I would answer that question.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Those we don't know, we don't know, right?

Terry Johnsson: That's exactly.

Japhet De Oliveira: So what would be an easy thing that somebody could do if they wanted to do the same thing as you?

Terry Johnsson: The easy thing to do is to get out of your comfort zone, really get out of your comfort zone. I know here in Portland we have a magazine called the Willamette Weekly. And if you look in it, there's always something to do. In fact, I drive my wife crazy because just not that long ago, there was a German Fest. Why are we going to a German Fest, the Greek Fest? Just different things of just been out there in the community.

I've been blessed, as I've said in the beginning, that I wanted to travel the world and never left Washington DC in the military. But outside of the military, when I became a youth counselor and motivation speaker, 67 countries, I've been able to go-

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh my goodness, all right.

Terry Johnsson: ... and speak at and do different things in. And out of those 67 countries that's been the key is that I really try to learn the culture when I'm there and I just enjoy that.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That's good. All right, last one. Question 100.

Terry Johnsson: Here we go. Here we go.

Japhet De Oliveira: Terry, if you wouldn't mind, tell us about one question you don't want to answer.

Terry Johnsson: Okay. I would personally say, if I'm being completely transparent, I've dealt with grief at a very, very young age. Give you just an example that my father, World War II veteran, smoked since he was like 10 years old, he said. And my dad, much later in life, he was 52 when I was born. And so there was later in life, but he died of lung cancer when I was eight- years-old.

Then to make matters even crazier that my mom wanted me to have a male influence, so sent me in the summers to be with her father for I get to [inaudible 00:30:01] experience, they felt so bad that I had lost my dad. And the very first summer, he dies. And then I had a sister that passed away in Los Angeles that was closest to me. And to make a long story short, there's six of us all together, brothers and sisters, same mom, same dad. And three of my siblings have passed away and all under the age of 50.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow, I'm sorry.

Terry Johnsson: And so dealing with grief has always been the thing I've tried to avoid. And I've had to work hard to force myself to read grief books because with my personality, if you look at the testing thing, positivity is my number one. And so it's very easy me to just push those balloons down and just do other things to avoid-

Japhet De Oliveira: I understand.

Terry Johnsson: But then the more you push them down, the longer you try to hold them down without ... It can get hard. And so what I have had to do, the question and different things, is that I've had to seek out counseling when I didn't want to do that. I've had to read grief books when I feel myself feeling a certain way at a certain time and not getting embarrassed about it. That realizing, it is okay, Terry. It is okay. And so that's probably the question I would not want to answer is to talk about this, what I'm talking about. But I do think it's important because I know I'm not the only one out there that's dealing with things that they need to be transparent about.

Japhet De Oliveira: Terry, thank you for the honesty, for the candor, for the inspiration. You have lived an amazing life. I look forward to your future as well. Yeah. No, it's good. It's good. So brother, thank you so much for that. I want to encourage people who are doing the same thing to sit with a friend, ask them good questions.

Terry Johnsson: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: I really believe that we are transformed by it.

Terry Johnsson: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: We learn. We learn about each other.

Terry Johnsson: Yes, we do.

Japhet De Oliveira: Cultures, we learn about everything. And so we become better human beings for it.

Terry Johnsson: We really do. I do something here at the hospital that is the craziest thing in the world.

Japhet De Oliveira: Keep going.

Terry Johnsson: Every week I sit with five people I don't know, in the cafeteria.

Japhet De Oliveira: Interesting.

Terry Johnsson: I just simply get my tray and I just sit next to them and say, "Hey, you mind if I sit here with you?" And I have a conversation. And so I would encourage people to do that. That's why I'm late and talking to people in the hallway because I get to know them. But I challenge myself every week. I need to sit with five people I don't know.

Japhet De Oliveira: That is a good word. Well, we will end on that unless all try to do that. Meet five new people a week, maybe one new person a week. Five would be great. Great goal. So thank you again, Terry. God bless you, man.

Terry Johnsson: Father, thank you.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. And thanks everybody else, we will connect soon.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us for The Story & Experience podcast. We invite you to read, watch and submit your story and experience at eventushealth.org slash story. The story and Experience podcast was brought to you by Eventus Health through the Office of Culture.