About three weeks ago, my good friend J.R. agreed to have a Skype interview with me while he was staying in Ermont, France. He is the author of the upcoming self-help book, The Other F Word: Forgiveness, and I wanted to know more about his book and the Youtube series he's started, spreading the message of the importance in self-love. As the interview progressed, we touched on some topics that I feel a lot of people still don't have a true grasp on yet. Get into it:
What is your book about, and why did you write it?
The Other F Word: Forgiveness is a book for anyone who has ever struggled with forgiveness and letting things go. Imagine a self-help book and a poetry collection had a child and named it "Forgiveness." This book is a 60 day program that uses the vehicle of poetry, prose, journal entires, letters, affirmations & short stories to get the reader to a more fulfilling life by way of forgiving. I wrote it because I needed a book just like this in order to get better at letting things go. I love poetry and other forms of literature, and developing a skill like forgiveness over the course of 60 days in this unique way makes complete sense to/for me.
Where is it sold? Can people get it off of Amazon?
Not just yet, but soon. Right now it’s in the works of being published. What happened before is; last year I was talking to a publishing company in New York, and it looked like we were going to go ahead and move on with my book. That’s when I decided to launch my website and YouTube channel and all the press material. Right before I was able to sign a contract some things fell through, unfortunately. It happens. So, right now I am just in the process of being published with another company.
When do you think it would be available?
Realistically, I would say perhaps by the end of this year, or possibly the beginning of 2016.
What made you start your Youtube series, and who is your target audience?
Over the years many of my friends have told me that I have a dad-like quality, especially when it comes to my ideas toward relationships & respect, and that I should share my ideas with others. Finishing the book and was the catalyst for me to not only discuss forgiveness & relationships but also things like karma, mental health and always doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. My target audience is 28-55 year olds who care about a holistic approach to health & wellness who may or may not practice yoga (beginners to intermediate), meditation, natural remedies and healing of all kinds, at all levels all over the world.
For someone to be 26, and be so positive-minded, and want to push this message mental wellness, when did you start to think like this?
That’s a real good question. I would say roughly about two and a half, three years ago. I met this amazing woman and we became really, really good friends. She was like this beacon of light at a time when I really needed a really close friend. Prior to that I had a lot of self-doubt, and I really wasn’t on this wave of loving myself, of loving the full package of who I am. I wasn’t on that wave at all, but our connection was so strong, and the things I learned from her I would never forget. That’s really when I started to change the way I looked at myself and the world. It’s just so cool, because some people can come into your life and if you let them they can have a crazy impact on your life and your mind.
That’s beautiful, and it must have really impacted you for you to begin to think about yourself in a more positive light, and then want to encourage others to do the same. Cause that’s different. For a lot of people they get inspired by one or two people, or their surroundings and it’s just enough to lift them up and do what they need to do, but not enough for them to want to spread the message.
It’s really pep talks she’d give me. Not all the time, but every once in a while, and that’s how I started to think. Any time I was down, I'd give myself that exact pep talk that I needed, in that moment, specific to me and how I think. You know what I mean? That’s what my channel is, that’s what my writing on social media is, just pep talks.
Since we don’t have the book to refer to right now, what words of advice, or words of inspiration do you have for my readers to hold on to until the release of your book?
Just speaking from my own experience, the most important investment that I have ever made was into my mental health. Taking the time to really do research, taking the time to really speak to professionals, taking the time to dig really, really deep and heal myself, to heal my inner child. Taking the time to invest in my own creativity. Some ways of doing that is by spending some time, not necessarily alone, but disconnected in a way. From maybe people that you admire because it’s important to be a leader, and not copy or mimic anything or anyone else, but kind of develop what you like. Ask yourself, “What do I like? What kind of films attract me? What kind of writing moves me? What kind of art work moves me?” You know what I mean? Figure that out.
Now to piggy back on that, I feel like there are a lot of people who do know what they like, and hold true to that until they meet a certain group of friends that disagree with the things that they like. Those friends would rather try to make them feel lame because they like the Power Rangers or something. For those who want to be themselves, but feel like they can’t because of who they surrounding themselves with, what do you have? Because I feel like that’s really what it is. People want to be true to themselves, but in order to be deemed as cool, or in order to fit in they feel like they need to change, or agree with the people in their surroundings just so they won’t hear the bullshit.
First, I want to say that in my experience, anybody who has ever tried to tell me that I am lame, or that I’m not good enough has always, always felt in themselves that they were lame or that they were not good enough, or they were inadequate in some way, and so they put other people down. Keep your ears open for it, but it’s not to take personally. It’s really their own shit that they haven’t dealt with yet. Confident, strong people don’t have to put other people down. They can just see something that they don’t like, not be impressed and move on to something that they do like. They don’t have to put it down, they don’t have to drag it through the mud, or be like, “Oh, you need to change.”
Secondly, on that same note, there are different kinds of friends. I was just talking to Susy and Chris (our friends) about this. There are different kinds of friends. There are your drinking buddies that you go out with, friends that you go out to the club with, and have fun with, and y’all look fly together. Then you have your acquaintances, people you know through mutual friends from high school, and y’all see each other every once in a while. And last, you have your core group of maybe one or two close friends, who you really can tell anything to and share anything with. A lot of us, especially around our age confuse drinking buddies with real friends just because we spend a lot of time with them. So, you can’t really be too mad at a drinking buddy for not being a real friend because they are not a real friend, they are a drinking buddy. And you can’t be mad at acquaintances for not being real friends either. You can be mad, you can be real mad, but know they are not your friends. They are your drinking buddies, or your fashion buddies. You have to realize who the people in your life are. Just know who everybody really is and your feelings won’t be hurt often.
You are absolutely right, cause I really feel like that’s what it is for a lot if people. They can’t differentiate who is what.
Especially with, and I don’t know if we can talk about this, but especially with adding things like drugs and sex to the mix.
We can talk about all of that.
Okay, I’ve talked to you about this before in terms of relationships and when you add sex to the equation. Things get kind of blurry, and you start to ask yourself, “Wait, do I have feelings for you? Am I just sexually attracted to you? What is it?” So, when you add things like drugs, weed and alcohol included, and sex to some of these “relationships,” sometimes it can get kind of cloudy. These things enhance our mood really fast. Our bodies release endorphins and all these other euphoric feelings when we are around these people. So, it kind of tells our body and our mind this person is my friend, or this person is really close to me/good for me. But in reality it's more like maybe not, because you are indulging in these things, and that actually might be what it is.
You know what’s so crazy? That makes a lot of fucking sense.
[Laughs] Yeah, that’s why I’m very careful with all three of those things that I mentioned to you. I am very careful because when I was in my [earlier] 20s, I did a lot of that stuff. Then when things went south I would be like, "Wait, what’s going on? I thought you were all my friends?" And they'd basically say, “No, we are your drinking buddies. Stop this.” I think as we have more experience with these things, and you give it some more time, you start to see things a bit clearer.
I know that our generation has this fascination [with drugs]. Maybe it’s because we are in our 20s, and that’s when people really want to figure shit out, and want to try shit out, and experience things. But what a lot of people don’t realize is these things can really affect you, like completely change your mindset about people. It can make you feel like you’re close, it can make you feel like you’re connected. Especially when it comes to sex because for me, for a while, and I don’t have a lot of partners, but the reason why is that I would get attached. So many people think that they’re strong enough to deal with having sex “freely” because that’s what people are doing. You know, Y.O.L.O. But it’s more like no, you're not everybody.
[Laughs] Ah! That’s good advice! You're not everybody.
I feel like a lot of people have to learn that the hard way because I'm one of those people. I used to think, “That shorty is able to separate the feelings in her mind from her body, and do whatever she wants. I can do that too.” But in reality, she may not even be able to do that. She might be fronting and telling you some other shit. At the end of the day, you really need to do what’s best for you, and not follow because you’ll get hurt out here. I have always been someone with a big heart. I used to put myself in situations where I am not guarding my heart at all, and just going out in the world while trying to tell myself, “Oh well you know, I can deal,” and then end up looking fucking stupid. It’s not a good feeling at all. It actually increases the self-doubt, and all of these negative spirits. I look at things like doubt, discouragement, disappointment as spirits because I feel like when something consumes you like that, when it feels like something is physically weighing you down, what else could it be? And you have to channel whatever you need to channel to get it out of you, and be more inspired, be more positive about yourself.
I think that everybody is different and what everybody wants out of life is not the same. Which is part of what makes this experience interesting. I also think that it’s easy to blame individuals for drug use and things of that nature because we all feel like we have a responsibility to ourselves, and we should try to be a conscious people, and I agree with a part of that message. But, I also get this sense that people are trying to numb themselves and are trying not to feel, and are trying not try to be extremely conscious because consciousness hurts, and truth hurts. When you look at the injustices in this country, and not just at present but since forever, and you really know the facts they are really, really hard to deal with. Not even just those facts, but the bad things that can happen in life because life can be really great and it can be really hard too. So, I think people just want to be numb a lot of times and that’s understandable, it’s hard. It’s very hard, but what I will say is that as hard as it is, it’s also really beautiful. Life can be really beautiful too.
I feel like you are right, especially as we are getting older, and are realizing all these injustices. We are literally seeing the nonsense unfold right before our eyes, and it doesn't look anything is getting better, so I understand. I understand the want to forget all this. But, to constantly put yourself in a haze like that where you don’t know what’s going on is dangerous and in my eyes, you are endangering yourself at the end of the day. You don’t want to deal with the bullshit, but you're going to have to deal with the bullshit cause you're not going to get away from it.
I hope you gained some insight from this conversation, because I definitely did. Please be on the lookout for J.R.'s book, The Other F Word: Forgiveness. In the meantime, follow him on Instagram, Twitter, friend him Facebook, and subscribe to his Youtube channel to be inspired on a daily basis.