J.R. Martinez

This week’s episode of the Underdog podcast features J.R. Martinez, whose life journey from a small-town kid in rural El Campo with big dreams to a soldier and survivor will captivate and inspire you. It’s a story of courage, healing, and the power within us all.

J.R. Martinez had dreams of being a professional football player, but his life took a different turn when he was deployed to Iraq at 19. He sustained life-altering injuries from a landmine explosion and underwent a grueling recovery. Martinez emerged as an acclaimed actor, author, and motivational speaker, advocating for burn survivors and veterans. He won season 13 of “Dancing with the Stars” and continues to inspire audiences worldwide.

Key Takeaways:

  • Vulnerability and Mental Health: The importance of being open about one’s mental state and practicing self-care, even when feeling drained or unmotivated.
  • Resilience and Overcoming Adversity: overcoming childhood challenges, including poverty, cultural differences, abusive relationships, and feeling like an outsider.
  • Parenting and Financial Lessons: Reflections on childhood experiences shaping parenting styles, teaching patience and gratitude regarding financial matters, and the challenge of balancing spoiling children with teaching them important life lessons.
  • Philanthropy and Personal Growth: The role of philanthropy in finding perspective and community during difficult times, and the importance of exposing children to experiences that cultivate empathy.
  • Trauma and Identity Struggles: Personal stories of childhood trauma, including domestic violence, bullying, and feeling isolated, and the impact of these experiences on personality development and mental health.
  • Military Service and PTSD: Reflections on military service, experiences of deployment, and the lasting effects of PTSD, including feelings of abandonment and the importance of support for veterans.
  • Overcoming Trauma and Healing: overcoming near-death experiences, facing fears, and the power of controlling one’s mind to shape reality and overcome trauma. The journey of healing from childhood trauma through vulnerability, therapy, and authentic relationships, leads to personal growth and a sense of purpose.
  • Prioritizing Peace, Authenticity, and Connection: Recognizing the importance of prioritizing inner peace and joy over external achievements, and the need to practice stillness and authenticity in life. Encouragement for listeners to share their stories and connect authentically, emphasizing the value of conversation and community in personal development.

Don’t miss this incredible episode—it’s a conversation that will stay with you long after you’ve finished listening. Tune in now to experience the power of vulnerability and rebirth. It’s time to embrace the underdog within us all.

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The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also in the Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:

Click To Read The Transcript

J.R. Martinez’s Path to Success Paving Military

From Battlefield to Life Lessons with JR Martinez

Pamela Bardhi: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Underdog podcast. Today I have an incredible guest here with me. Jr. How are you, my friend?

J.R. Martinez: I’m doing well. Thank you so much for having me on. I’m looking forward to this conversation.

Pamela Bardhi: Thank you so much for being here. It’s such, a gift to meet awesome people. and I felt it right when you came on camera. I was like, man, Jr is awesome. I’m just so excited.

J.R. Martinez: I got to be transparent, though. because I feel like that’s the real way you are able to connect with people. and I got to be real and honest, and the couple of days leading up to this. I haven’t been. My best life has just kind of been, like, a little blah. And I wouldn’t say life. I’d say the last couple of days have just felt that way. Just not only me just fighting a little common virus cold. whatever’s going on, what happens when you have kids in the house. but also, it’s just, I don’t know, I find myself. There’s little things that get into my head and things that trigger me. all of a sudden, I find myself going down this thought process.

What’s the intention?

now I start thinking about this, and now I start thinking about that. all of a sudden, I’m going backwards in my thought process. It’s funny, when you mentioned how I logged on and I was, like, had this energy. I had to mentally get myself in a space. knowing that I needed to be able to show up for you. and for the people that tune into your show. because this may be the only opportunity I get to connect with you and your audience. And I think that’s something that I’ve had to teach myself to do over the years. is that you got to find ways to kind of curb situations and feelings and emotions and say, okay. let me sort of have momen where I do a reset for myself. what’s the intention when I log on with Pamela? What’s the intention?

How do I want to show up? What do I want to accomplish? And that allows me to log on and be like. you would never know that the last 48 to 72 hours have been kind of like whatever. because my energy is kind of at 100 right now. But I think that’s just something that we all frequently have to be exercising that muscle and practicing that. because we’re always having to show up for somebody. whether it’s our kids, whether it’s our spouses, our partners, whether it’s colleagues, friends. just people we come in contact with day and day, just day to day. We’re always having to find ways to show up. So just a little challenge for all of us.

The era of vulnerability

Pamela Bardhi: I love that, Jr, and I appreciate you sharing that. it’s the era of vulnerability. I think we’re seeing it in a way that we’ve never seen it before. and I can’t wait to touch on that and talk about triggers and get into that. how you got into your mental state and shifting all that up. And I just can’t wait to get into your story.

As a kid, you wanted to be a professional football player

And before we get into that for sure. I would love to know, what did you want to be as a kid when you grew up? Because I want to reel it all the way back. then we’ll bring it right back to the era of vulnerability when you grew up.

J.R. Martinez: I was so naive, and this tells you I didn’t have the right people growing up in my life. I wanted to be a professional football player. if you looked at me, I’m five nine, I’m 200 pounds, I’m not fast, I’m not big, I’m not strong, I’m not that dude. And yet I had this naive dream, like probably most kids have. that wanted to play professional sports one day. and I just grew up and that was all I really had to focus on, to be honest, was sports. My family’s from Central America, My mother’s from El Salvadora, my father’s from Mexico. My father wasn’t in my life. so I didn’t get a chance to get to know him or his side of the.

I grew up in these small towns

When I went to Salvador, as a mean, I’m looking at my family members. my cousins, and they’re not in the city, they’re not in San Salvador. They’re in El Campo, as they say. The country, the feel rural, where there’s no lights. I mean, there’s no electricity, there’s no restroom in the house. You go old school in the woods, you go to a creek, and on one part of the creek. that’s where you take a shower. In the other part, that’s where you wash, your clothes. In another part, that’s where you get water to drink and to cook. That’s how real it was. You went to bed when the sun went down, you woke up. know the roosters and the sun started to mean. That’s how it was. And so I didn’t have much to pull from, to be honest.

And where I grew up in the United States. I was born in Shreveport. but grew up in Arkansas until I moved my senior high school to Georgia. But I grew up in these small towns. and there was nobody around me that was, a veterinarian or a doctor or a therapist or a social worker or a teacher. I didn’t have that, I mean, I saw those people. but there was nobody in my life and my mom would always say, the typical things that moms are going to say. like, I can see you being a doctor and a lawyer. I’m like, yeah, well, I’m going to be president, too, mom.

 Family backdrop

My mom had that sort of really contagious love and positivity, but that was my goal. And I tell people, even though on paper. it’s what I wanted to do with my life when I got older. and even though that didn’t come to fruition. it was never supposed to. It was supposed to be my goal. honestly, in many ways, kept me out of trouble. because I knew if I got in trouble, then I wouldn’t be allowed to play football. so football was kind of the thing that kind of kept me on that straight path a little bit. when there were all these different distractions in the community. that I grew up in that could have easily pulled me in that direction.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s incredible. Well, it’s insane how one thing can kind of reconnect you in the future like that. Like you said, it didn’t become that. but it kept you on that path to really lead you to where you are now. And I love thank you for your family backdrop as well. I’m an immigrant as well. so came from Albania when I was five years old. here to the United States, and my grandfather’s village was much like that. like there was an outhouse. There’s no real plumbing in the. So all the things when we come to the US. these are things that we almost take for granted. The fact that we have actual plumbing in our house. that we don’t have to go outside. These are blessings that we’ve got, which is so incredible.

You live in Texas

J.R. Martinez: Unless you live in Texas. Like, I live in Austin, Texas. and we moved here in 2018 and then to our surprise. we were like, we’re moving to Texas from New York. so we got to get rid of all our winter coats and our bubbles. as people say on the east coast, And all these get. we don’t need that. We’re going to Texas, and then all of a sudden we got a rude awakening when it gets cold here in Texas. But then also, there was a couple of years where we’re losing power. we’re losing electricity. I mean, we’re losing heat like water because of a freeze, a storm that came through. We didn’t have the infrastructure to support it. and I literally was using, I mean, listen, I have a right, I have a pool. It’s nice.

You buy a house and you’re like, I want a pool. You live in Texas. it’s hot and I think it makes sense, right? Until you realize in the summertime that when you’re like, I’m going to go jump in the pool. because it’s going to be refreshing and cooling. And you realize the sun got to the pool before you did. So it’s actually not as refreshing and cooling as you would think. But we’re using pool water to flush the toilet. because we had no running water. I’m like, what is this? This is 20, 22, 23. We shouldn’t be living like this. and we’re having to live this way. But all jokes aside, I remember when I would go. because I had the luxury and the fortune of being born in this country. but I remember going back to Salvador as a kid.

 I had a roof over my head

My mother took me back many times. First, time when I was six and you get caught up. especially as a kid, you get caught up in comparing yourself. and what you have to your peers, and I’m no different. I did the same thing, man, I would love to have those fresh pair of kicks. I would love to have this many outfits.  would love to live on this part of town or do this or do that. whatever it was, and we just financially couldn’t do it. And of course, you go down this path where you’re like, oh, my life. Oh, my life sucks. then I remember going to El Salvador and I would get this perspective. all the things we mentioned earlier. and I’d be like, oh, man, and I would come back to the states and I’m like. don’t get me wrong.

I still want those things, but I’m going to be a little bit more patient and supportive. when my mom says she’s going to put something on layaway and make a payment every week. or every other week for four months, and I’m going to get those shoes or I’m going to get those clothes. but it’s going to be in a few months from now. I was able to just appreciate what I had in this country. And to your point, where, listen, I could go and grab a meal right now. even when I was a kid and we didn’t have a lot of money. my mom made no more than $42,000 a year. If I wanted the burger, I could go get a burger. If I wanted to go to a movie, I can go to a movie. I had a roof over my head.

 The goal of a parent

I had electricity, I had plumbing. As you mentioned, I had a lot of beautiful things. and I think perspective is important, for all of us. but especially for kids. And that’s why, listen, I got two kids, and my kids have a great life. that’s the goal of a parent, is to always give your kids more than what you had. But at the same time, I don’t want to get caught up in this trap that I want to. because those very things that I experienced. and I became aware of as a kid helped shape me to become the person that I am today. so why would I all of a sudden refrain from my kids being exposed to that same very thing? I don’t want them to be exposed to the hardship. but they need to be exposed to perspective.

As a mom of twin girls, parenting is balancing between giving and receiving

They need to have perspective. They need to understand what they have and how. There’s a lot of kids that don’t have what they have. And it’s not to gloat and be like, oh, I got it made. No, it’s to be like, wow, I can empathize. I can have compassion for another individual. It makes me appreciate when my daughter. who plays select softball, is like, there’s like a new bat out and it costs 400, $500. and I’m like, all right, I can swing it for you. I can make it happen for you. But that wasn’t something that my mom could do for me.

Hey, yeah, I’m going to do that for you, but what are you going to do? How are you going to earn it? How are you going to show respect? How are you going to work hard and show your appreciation for this? I don’t need you to pay me back. I need you to work hard. It’s these lessons that I see this a lot in parents is where the very things that they were exposed to in their youth. that helped them become these incredible adults. they try to shield their kids from experiencing, and they’re like, I don’t want you to have that difficulty. so I’m going to do it all for you. Well, now you’re going to the other end of the spectrum.

 It’s coming from a good

And now you’re just kind of creating kids. Everything gets handed to them, done for them, and what lessons are they really learning? So it’s this balance. and I think the only way you can manage that is you have to really pause and have reflection. be really aware and have the right people around you that you trust. that when they come to you and say, yo, Jr, reality check real quick. you don’t get defensive about it. you’re kind of like, you know, it’s coming from a good amen.

Pamela Bardhi: And as a mom of twin girls, that’s one of my balances that I’m definitely going to be. because they’re going to be first generation here in the US. So, there’s a lot of checks and balances. and it’s like, how do you not spoil them. but also let them learn their lessons at the same time. and still remind them to be in gratitude and all the things. They’re seven months old now, but they’ll be.

 Don’t wait. Now’s the time

J.R. Martinez: Start them now. It don’t matter. Get them out there now, Pamela. Don’t wait. Now’s the time, but it’s funny. because with my know, I do a lot of philanthropy work, and that’s where it all started for me. But when I started doing a lot of the philanthropy work. again, when I had these moments where I was getting all caught up in my own life. and what was challenging and difficult for me. I would find myself getting out of that by putting myself around other people. that were experiencing their own trauma, their own challenges. And it just gave me perspective, and it gave me a reality check. It allowed me to find community and connect with people. Now, a lot of those people, are they in my life today? No, a lot of them are not.

They probably weren’t intended to be in my life long term. They were intended to be in my life during that period of my life. when I was going through something very difficult. And I was just trying to figure out who I was now. I know we’ll get into all that. but I still do a lot of work with different philanthropy organization, nonprofit organizations. what I do is I’ll take. I mean, my daughter’s eleven, my son’s two. so he doesn’t quite get it yet, but my daughter’s six, seven, eight years old. And I’m taking her to events so she can see people that have different wounds, visible wounds, who talk about emotional wounds, who talk about all these different things and the challenges. how it’s made them better, and I’m exposing my daughter to that. because I want her to be able to.

 When she gets into the real world       

When she gets into the world and she’s on her own. and she encounters an individual that starts to really share something that’s pretty heavy and deep. that they’re just waiting for one person to listen to them. or she encounters somebody that looks different. that this awkwardness stage is sort of. kind of not even present because she can just see the person. And so I’m instilling that in her now. So when she gets into the real world. there’s not like this shock effect where it’s like, hold on. give me a few months or a few years to really kind of get overseeing your scars. or get overseeing or get over hearing about how life has been difficult for you. Now, let me just connect with you on a human level, because that’s all that matters.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. And I love, love, love that you mentioned that, Jr. And I can’t wait to hear your story in detail. My goodness. Like, your philanthropy work, and then we have so many things to interconnect here. I love it. It’s fabulous.

I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana; my father left when I was nine

And, I would love to hear kind of your life experience. So coming out of high school and kind of. what your trajectory and your journey was and kind of. the ups and the downs that you experienced throughout that time.

J.R. Martinez: Yeah, so it was know for me. So I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. Like I said, my father wasn’t in my life. He left when I was nine months old. Early for the first nine years of my life, I lived in Louisiana. and I just witnessed a lot of hardship there. My mother was in a couple of different abusive relationships, and I witnessed that kind of came. I actually still, in my head, I can still smell, and my mind. it’s almost like you spend enough time in a hospital, and then, you just know that smell. And I know that one, but I also know the smell of beer. the reason I say that is because I remember on the weekends. Fridays and Saturdays, it was like what they drank was Budweiser. it would be Budweiser cans.

 I moved in Arkansas

And the next day you’d wake up and walk outside. everybody was there drinking, and it just smelled like. So that’s kind of like the environment I grew up in. where he decided to put his hands on her one night. And this happened multiple times. but I would call the cops and I’d be hiding in a closet. they’d come and take him away, or somebody else would get taken away. because there was some sort of domestic disturbance. Our neighbor, I mean, there was always something like that. it just wasn’t like this environment that I think a lot of therapists would say. is best for a child that’s developing, especially. I, mean, you can say this for both, but like a young boy. It’s like I’m seeing men put their hands on women, and it was kind of like no big deal.

And there was a slap on the wrist in the sense of where they got taken away. But then they were back at the house 48 hours later. Once they were able to post bail, they were back at the crib and it was wild. so at nine, we moved to Arkansas. where I moved in Arkansas was predominantly white and black. I was one of the first hispanic kids to be in that community, and it was challenging. I mean, that presented its own challenges where I felt completely as an outsider. because it was only my mother., and I was just this lone wolf and made me an easy know. We talk about bullying. we talk about hazing, we talk about all those terms that are being thrown out in the world now. but I was susceptible to that.

I used to always dream as a kid

I found myself getting my ass whooped for no reason just because I was by myself. I found myself getting jumped for no reason. because I was simply by myself and I felt so isolated and out of place. And I remember there were more hispanic kids starting to show up in the community. and I thought, all right, cool. Here come my people now. I’m not by myself. I’m rolling deep now and all of a sudden now I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with them. There were reasons why we weren’t cool enough. I don’t know if this is true for where you and your family are from. but there was all these reasons why, oh, you’re from a certain part of Latino America. You might be from Mexico, but you’re from another part of differently.

You speak Spanish differently, or, oh, but you were born in the United States. You’re not real, You’re not real mexican or these. and maybe some of that was envy because I was born here. a lot of them had not been born here. I don’t know what it was, but regardless, all it did was just further push me into this space of feeling like I don’t belong here. And I used to always dream as a kid. man, I used to dream about this whole world that was out there and that existed.  I wanted to be part of that world so badly, and I didn’t know what the world essentially was about. but I just, like this small town can’t be it. This can’t be it, I remember vividly having those thoughts, and I could tell you how. I’ll be, again, transparent with everybody.

 When I was 16

But when I was 16, I literally had thoughts of wanting to get into a car accident. because I wanted to see how many people would actually show up at the hospital. I wanted to see how many people actually cared about me. how many people gave a damn about Jr. That tells you everything you need to know. there at the same, you know, was a kid that, from an academic standpoint, in school, I wasn’t thriving. I was not doing well. I’m not the kid. You have a teenage kid and you say, hey, you follow what? Jr? No, you don’t follow Jr. because Jr was just mad and angry at life. And so all I was doing was getting myself into trouble, fighting nonstop. and getting suspended from school for three, five, seven days at a time. I mean, this was during the era.

Know, I could literally just be suspended. My mom wouldn’t even know. Wouldn’t even know, and I would literally just roam around this small town.would leave school. Sorry, I would leave the house in the morning at the traditional time. that I was supposed to leave to go to school. And I would just walk around the town like I would be ducking and dodging. like, doing all this crazy stuff. then come home at, like, 334 and be like, school was good. My mom worked a graveyard shift, so my mom was working all night. I had to get myself up for school at nine years old.  had to get myself to school at nine years old. had to get myself home at nine years old. I had a tremendous amount of responsibility.

 I started playing football

But when I would go back to school after these suspensions. of course I would fall behind from a curriculum standpoint. And so my defense mechanism was to be a foo. was to act a fool, was to be a clown in the back of the class and be like. that’s stupid anyways, and that was my defense mechanism. and that’s how I protected myself, and all that did was just affect my grades. But do you think anybody ever stopped and pulled me aside and said, hey, kid, what’s really going on? Why are you acting out this? No. Nobody. All they did was essentially, as the saying says, kick the can down the road. Let it become someone else’s problem. Maybe somebody else will pick it up. No one did. And at the end of my junior year, I finally moved to Georgia.

And I could tell you within the first couple of months of being in this community, I started playing football. I found a community of people that were like me. that were first generation, that were called Chicanos. Those kids that the Latinos, the hispanic kids that are born in the US, Chicanos. and we kind of spoke Spanglish or broken Spanish. I found my group of people that I rolled with and I rocked wit. felt like I had a community for the first time in my life. Also, within the first few weeks of being in this new school. a counselor pulled me aside and said, hey, man, I’m looking at your transcript, your grades. What’s going on?

The basis of my life

Literally, m I’m telling you, that’s been the basis of my life. is where it takes one individual to take something away from you. but it equally takes one individual just to sit down and say, hey, what is going on? Instead of just kicking a can down a road. just show up, and we spend so much time, we know we want to show up for people. We know we need to show up for people. but we spend so much time thinking. how am I going to show up for this person that in the mix of thinking so damn much. you don’t even show up at all. And all that person needs you to do is just be present and together. you will figure it out. My childhood was tough. It was tough.

From a trauma standpoint, adversity was preparing me for big later in life

And so even though in comparison to what I experienced. while I was in the military is not the same, right. From a trauma standpoint, from an adversity standpoint. I believe all of that adversity was preparing me and conditioning me. to actually deal with the big thing that was going to come later in life. And so when people come up to me and say. man, what I’ve been through, I’m going through this. what I’m going through or what I’ve been through is nothing compared to you. I’m like, hey, stop doing that. Stop comparing trauma, right? Like, let’s not compare adversity to one another. It is true and it is real. It is raw for you. It affects you.

What happened to me was real and authentic and affected me. So let’s not get into this game, because all it’s doing, it’s preparing you. It’s conditioning you. I’ve just had this life where life has taught me that. and that’s the way I look at a lot of adversity. that I have been facing over the last 21 years of my life. is I’m like, yeah, there’s something I’m taking away from this right now. I don’t quite know what it is. but I just know I got to keep showing up and get through it. And on the other side of that mountain. I’m going to get the lesson that I needed to learn the whole time.

 Where’d you grow up?

Pamela Bardhi: I love that. Jr. Oh, my goodness. That was powerful. Thank you so much for sharing that. And it’s so interesting that you mentioned tha. because I had a similar experience in middle school. So I was bullied. My early elementary was, and ironically, I was the whitest kid in the whole all.

J.R. Martinez: Where’d you grow up?

Pamela Bardhi: So, in Chelsea, when I lived in Chelsea, Massachusetts. essentially, it was all primarily hispanic. a lot of us el Salvadorians.

J.R. Martinez: For sure, we should have switched spots. I know you would have been golden. and I would have been golden.

Pamela Bardhi: Exactly, and so it was funny, I had that whole bullying experience. And then I went to 7th grade and same thing. like kicking the can down the road. like you were saying. No one really asked me, I was really a quiet kid. I didn’t want to speak to anybody. so traumatized because every time I did. it was like I would be shunned for something. even though just for being myself. because English was my third language and so European. nobody really could connect with me or where I was from.

Your environment really does make a huge difference growing up

so when I got to 7th grade, that’s when everything shifted. and then my whole personality changed. So your environment really does make a huge difference growing up. I can’t enough, I mean, Dr. Bruce Lipton, he studied epigenetics. and I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, Jr, but if you’re not. something I definitely think you would be interested in kind of looking u. because he’s done studies for over 40 years that talk about. how literally our DNA shifts when we’re in different environments.

J.R. Martinez: Yeah, I’m not familiar with that, but I’ll have to look it up afterwards. But I, can completely relate to that. because I became this kid that I think in many ways, I was maybe some way. you could probably say depressed in some regards. with the thought of wanting to get into a car accident. you can maybe throw out that word suicidal, I don’t know but it’s not who I always was. I look at my son, and my son is, and my daughter. but my son’s this big personality, big smile, just great energy. Walks into a room, doesn’t know a stranger. I remember when we potty trained him. he walked up somewhere. I’m like, say hi and tell him your name. And he’s like, I’m Leo. I pee pee and poopoo in the potty.

When you talk about how your DNA shifts.

And they’re like, oh, that’s great, and he’s like I peepee, and I poopoo in the potty. they’re like, okay, great. And I told my wife this is going to be the dude we got to worry about. He’s going to be telling everybody everything that happens in this house, so we better be careful. Our daughter, man, she’ll go to the grave with the secrets of the house. Our son, he’s going to be telling everybody. My dad’s always slapping my mom’s ass. He’s going to be that kid telling everybody everything. But I see him, and I can’t help but think, that’s who I was as a kid. I was a kid that was incredibly compassionate. Somebody is upset in the house, and he goes up to.

And he says, why are you crying? Why are you crying? he wants to give you a hug. I remember when I was three years old. one of my sisters passed away from an illness that she was born with. I remember this, and I remember my mom on the other side of the bed. and it was kind of dark in the house,. but there was a lamp on, and she was on the phone. she collapsed onto the ground holding the phone, and she’s crying, and I remember going over to her and say. mama, why are you crying? Mama, why are you crying? I love you, mama, I love you, and giving my mom a hug, I vividly remember that. so the reason I say all of this is because when you talk about how your DNA shifts.

 I can 100% connect with that

there was a point where I was no longer that same kid. I was starting to become somebody else. The environment was shaping me to become something completely different. which was changing the very thing you talked about, which is the DNA. And so that’s why when I encounter people that. I’m like, man, that person is not a pleasant person right now. What’s that person’s problem? I’m always kind of going to that place of like. okay, what has happened that has kind of shifted them. what has happened that has created them and molded them to be where they are right now? Again, you could equally say you shouldn’t allow those. you don’t have a right, and you can’t treat people this way or whatever. but when people are hurting, they’re not aware they’re hurting. so hurt people hurt people, right?

I mean, that’s the saying for me, I can 100% connect with that. And that’s why I try so hard as a father. I try as a husband, as a friend, as just somebody that just shows up every day in public.  try to be a contributor to that’s going to help people’s DNA shift into a positive state. whether it’s already there. Great. Then I’m just going to be another force that’s going to help validate. and just push you in that same direction. If you’re kind of on the cusp, then I’m probably going to be a little bit of. sort of a shaker and be like, hey, come back on this side. You’re good. You got this.

It is important that we all show up

If you’re not, then I’m one of the people that. because it’s not just one person, maybe there’s multiple people you’re going to have to continuously encounter. that’s going to sort of shift you back into that space. And so it really is important that we all show up in the best way that we possibly can. if you feel like you can’t show up, then I always say. maybe it’s weird because my daughter the other day showed me this book she was reading. it’s called, flipped, and I said, oh, what’s it about? And she’s telling me this story about these two kids that grew up together, and the girl likes the boy.

Brene Brown talks about how she connects with herself through exercise

The boy doesn’t have interest, but then later he has interest or whatever. And when you looked at the COVID though, there’s a bird on it and the title of the book. but then when you flip it, like, the bird’s upside down. the title of the book is right side up. but then when you flip it, title is upside down. I was like, oh, that’s a cool cover. She was like because it’s kind of talking about how there’s different perspectives. so I like that. And because I always say in my house, both things can be true, guys.

And so when I don’t feel my best and I feel like I can’t show up, I’m transparent. And I’m like, hey, I got nothing today. Brene Brown talks about how her and her husband do this exercise. where she gets home and she’s like, hey, I’m at a 30 today. That’s all I got is 30, and he’s like, okay, cool. He’s like, well, I’m at a 70, so I can kind of carry us through the evening. until you kind of get to a 50, 60, 70, maybe at 100. but always kind of connecting with yourself.

I’m a huge proponent of giving away what you have in stock

We talk about inventory and what you have in stock. and you have to do that as well as an individual. you always have to be mindful of what you have in stock. What can you actually give to people? What can you give away to people? And when I feel like I don’t have a lot to give away, I’m transparent. I’m going to need to have a couple of hours or maybe even a day or two just to kind of process. be with myself and go through my own practices. That is going to get me out of this space. But I also have this on the flip side. which is why I say both things can be true.

I’m also a huge proponent of, throw yourself out into the world now. Don’t throw yourself out into the world. where you’re going to maybe be in an environment that’s not going to help pull you out of that. but throw yourself out into the world. because the world will give you the energy if you’re willing to just go out there and listen. and I think that’s the key. Don’t go out there and try to show up and force it. Go out there and just listen. Don’t speak, just listen. Just pay attention. Just show up, and the world will give you what you need in that moment. I am a huge believer in.

You’re dropping gems everywhere

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. J.R, you’re dropping gems everywhere, my friend. I’m just listening to you. Just like, what? This is amazing. And I would love to hear a little bit deeper into your story. like when you were mentioning when you went into the military and then kind of like. coming out of that and then how it puts you on your current track. I’d love to kind of see that, hear more about that. then that way we can talk kind of circle back on the vulnerability side of things. because I think that’s so important. You mentioned triggers at the beginning of the cal. I’m like, man, this is going to be so helpful for everyone. because even the ones who claim that they’re fully healed. there’s no such thing as healed. We’re always learning. We’re human. Circle back on all of that.

J.R. Martinez: Yeah. So when I realized finally after high school. that maybe college and pro football was not actually going to be something part of my future. it took that long to realize that. I was thinking, I was like, what am I going to do with my life? And just one day, I saw a commercial on TV. and it’s so cliche and so predictable. but I saw a commercial and I’d heard about the military a little bit. Obviously, nobody in my family had served in the United States military. I had an uncle that I think served in the salvadorian military long, long time ago. but never talked about it. but I’d heard about the military. The recruits are always at different events throughout the school year. and I think one of my football coaches had served in the military at one.

 I joined the army

so it was just kind of like, okay, it’s not completely out of left field. but I remember going and speaking to a recruit. and I went to all the branches and the army was the one that kind of spoke to me. And it was mainly honestly because the Marine Corps. that’s where I wanted to go to but you can only do four years. the minimum, and I was like, nah, I don’t want to do four years. I’m trying to negotiate with the marine Corps here. I was like, I’ll give you three and they’re like, nah, four, and I’m like, three. they’re like, nah, four, and I’m like, all right, then I’m going to go next. because at the mall, they got all the branches lined up right there. Air force wasn’t even there.

And, the navy, I just ruled them out. because I was like, I can’t be on water for that long a time. so I went to the army. and the army was like, they were, huh? Know, how long were you thinking? I was like, I can give you three and they were like, sold. they were like, we’ll take you. So I joined the army, and honestly, the military was a one stop shop for me at that time in my life. It was an opportunity for me to travel again. I grew up in these small towns. and I knew that there was a whole world out there and I wanted to experience it. The military was going to give me that opportunity. It was also going to give me the opportunity to travel. going to give me the opportunity to get money for college.

I’m living on my own

It was going to give me an opportunity to give back to a country that had given so much to me and my family. I graduated the year after 911. We were very involved in conflict already as a country. And, like, a lot of people felt like I wanted to do something. I did feel compelled to serve and to help. because of, again, I understood the luxuries and the privileges that I had by being born and raised in this country. Compared to my family members that didn’t have that same luxury despite its imperfections, right. There’s no such thing as perfection. But yet I was still incredibly indebted and grateful. so off I go to basic training for three months, I get assigned to my unit. which was the 101st out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I’m 19 years old.

And Pamela, I’m living on my own, even though I’m living in the barracks, but I’m living on my own. I’m around these guys that have older, that have this extensive training. a lot of these dudes are badasses, man. These dudes have some badass training in a lot of different areas. and I instantly felt like I’m a badass too. just because I’m around these dudes, and I was just naive. I was naive, I was away from home for the first time, I was going out, having a good time. figuring out my role within this organization of the army. And one day, my sergeant came and had a conversation with me. he was talking about how I needed to be prepared. because we were going to deploy sometime soon.

We were soldiers

And he was referencing that I needed to mentally be prepared, not just physically. because he saw me cutting up just every day. I, was on a comedy tour with a bunch of my comedian budies. we were just working on material every day throughout the day. And he was like, this dude doesn’t realize that we are in a time of conflict. there’s rumors about us possibly going over to another conflict. he had this conversation with me, and I still walked away from that. it ain’t going to happen to me. Like, six months ago, I just joined the military. It’s too soon and sure enough. I was on a plane two months later heading over to war at the age of 19 years old. Oh, my God. The thought process is I couldn’t even wrap my head around.

I’m going to war. They showed a movie on a plane, Mel Gibson movie. We were soldiers, and if you’ve never seen that movie, oh, my. Like, it’s so gruesome and real and raw about war. and I think there was their way of kind of mentally preparing us. But all it did was it shook me to my core because I didn’t have the luxury to train. I didn’t have the luxury to understand what war was about. And so the biggest thing I had to do was just rely on the people around me.  that’s all I could do is just watch them kind of like when I started practicing yoga again. You go into that workout class, and you’re like, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. but you’re watching everybody else, and then you’re trying to do it, too.

Martinez says sometimes leaders make you feel like you don’t bring value

You’re like, what were you two? And you’re like, now reverse your dog m. You’re, like, looking around the room. I’m trying to position myself in the room so I can have eyeballs on everybody. And by the time someone looks at me to see what the movie is supposed to be. I already know what I’m doing. because I’ve already scanned everybody else. but that’s essentially what it was. I just watched everybody on the plane and while we were in country. just try to wrap my head around this thing. there’s a couple of stories that are important to tell. So you hear constantly about service members, veterans, talk about the camaraderie. the brotherhood, the sisterhood, that whole connection. how they miss that when they get out, and I agree that is 100% real. That exists, but it didn’t quite exist for me.

I could tell you early on that I would ask a lot of questions. because I didn’t understand war, and I was just trying to understand war tactics and strategies. what was I supposed to do if I encountered this or encounter that? And I remember one of my sergeants just constantly. like, being annoyed that I had so many questions. and I was inconvenienced in him, and all that did was just put a sour taste in my mouth. I was like, man, forget, I’m just not going to ask any more questions. Even though he never said, Martinez, stop asking so many questions. His body language said it right. Like, his body language said everything I needed to know. so I just kind of put a sour taste in my mouth. where I just started just going through the motions.

I’m part of the team

And I was just like, man, I don’t even want to do this anymore. and I couldn’t wait for this deployment to be done. I couldn’t wait for my three years to be done. because I wanted to get out, I wanted to move on with my life. This wasn’t for me. One day, one of our commanding officers gives a briefing. this man talks about. He introduces this concept of service to me.he talks about the importance every single one of us play in accomplishing the mission on this team. owning the role that we have, and he’s going deep into this explanation, I remember going on a mission the next day, and I remember thinking to myself.like, man, I was part of this mission.

I’m a very small part of the mission because I’m a private in the army. but nonetheless I’m part of the team. All that did was just like another example of it took one person to take it away. but one person to give it back to me and times 20. because then I was like, man, I don’t want to just do three years in the army. I wanted to do 20 years in the army. And, when I get done with this deployment, I want to go back to the states. go to this school and that school. I want to be this highly decorated soldier in 20 years. I mean, that was my thought process. it’s important to share that along with. because that’s true in any organization.

It’s been 21 years since that accident

You’re always going to have somebody you work with in any organization. that’s going to be like, oh, my God, annoyed. or doesn’t want to give you an opportunity to speak. They may say that, but they don’t, sort of making you feel like you don’t bring value. They don’t necessarily care about what you have to offer. don’t appreciate what you actually offer. then you have other leaders that are like. I want you to understand the role you play. And so the thing I always tell people is. if that means that you have to move organizations to find that consistent people. the consistent people that are going to support you and encourage you. that’s what you got to do.

But also, too, I remember one of my leaders. he gave me a briefing one day and he talked about how we’re a brotherhood. how we’re always going to look after one another. And I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.but I could tell you that the day after I was injured. I never heard from that man. And I still haven’t heard from that man. it’s been 21 years since that accident, and I still haven’t heard from the guy. that literally gave me this whole briefing about how we’re always going to be connected, bonded and look after one another. that dude was the first one to bail and never reach out to me.

 People have left me 

And so, as you can imagine, all that does is put a lot of resentment in my heart because all that did was my father left me. There’s been these other things, the other people have left me that abandoned me. This guy gave me his word that we’re going to be connected and bonded to look after one another. Now he bailed. Everyone else in my unit hasn’t reached out to me. No one’s come to visit me in the hospital. Meanwhile, walk around and everyone else has visitors. Like, what’s wrong with me? It’s a perfect recipe to send me down the hole that I actually ended up going down, which is a very dark one.

Pamela Bardhi: My goodness. My goodness.

First of all, thank you for your service and what you’ve contributed

And it’s fascinating to hear you talk about the story. how you were completely unprepared. then when you went out and experiencing all these things for the first time. you just don’t know my COO and my real estate side. So he actually served in Iraq as well, so first and foremost, forgot to say thank you for your service. because that’s tremendous, tremendous. And without our events, I mean, this country wouldn’t be what it is first and foremost, for that. But  my Coo served also in Iraq, too, and he’s like I don’t know how to explain it. it’s just a totally different world and thank know he came out with. no issues, no nothing, and was able to come back home. but I think he served something like four years.

J.R. Martinez: Listen, I’m not going to be the one to sit here and say that everybody is scarred. whether it’s physically or internally. I don’t want to put that label on everybody. but I know that a lot of troops come back with something. and just some scars may not be as deep as others, as prevalent as others. but I know that every vet is, especially when you serve during, these conflicts. there’s something you’ve had to navigate. And so just make sure you give him a big shout out on my behalf as well. Thank him for his service and what he’s contributed to this country. But it was one of those things. I cannot share this because people ask me, were you afraid? And I was like, I was never afraid of dying, which is weird.

The one thing that scared the hell out of me 

I never had a thought in my mind like, I could die and part of that. because I was naive and a kid, but I never was afraid of being shot. I was infantry. So you still had to train on hand to hand combat. You still had a bayonet that you had to carry with you and train with. And I was like, I was never afraid of being stabbed. didn’t really phase me and didn’t put a lot of thought into it. The one thing that scared the hell out of me was a landmine. we had to learn how to diffuse these claymore mines. And every time we had to do the practice, I want no part of this because even though it was a dummy one.

But still, I was like, I want no part of this because it just terrified me. The idea that something could be hidden and when pressure is applied and then release, it detonates. It just freaked me out. And that’s what people have to understand for a lot of vets, not all. but for a lot of vets, that’s why it’s so difficult coming home. Because you’ve lived, if you’ve done one deployment of a year. or multiple deployments of a year, your nervous system. Talk about your DNA and the environment. you’re constantly unaware of you don’t know. I could literally be behind this, and it could be something. be behind this camera, and there’s something. so afraid of that, and the day that I was injured, I was driving a humvee.

All I needed to do was just continue to show up and fight.

And the front left tired of the humvee that I was driving run over a roadside bomb. a landmine, the very thing that I was terrified of. the thing that almost cost me my life. I’m in this humvee for five minutes, completely conscious. I’m screaming and yelling. I can see my hands changing, I could feel my eyes getting heavy, and they would close. and I would just breathe, and I would just almost kind of accept. that I’m going to die in this way at this age. remember telling myself, like, no, you can’t keep your eyes closed. because that means you’re giving up. this is where I always say the 19 years prior to that very moment had conditioned me. to actually believe that all I needed to do was just continue to show up and fight.

And five minutes later, I was pulled out of the Humvee. I was put into a medical induced coma. I was taken from Iraq to Germany. then from Germany, I was brought back to the United States. was in a coma for three weeks. And I remember when I came out of this coma one day, I was talking to my mom. told her how I had this dream, this visual. You’re on drugs, so you’re like, all sort of trippy shit is happening. But for some reason, I had this dream, this image. this picture that I was at a NASCAR driver’s house, and I don’t even watch. like, but I was at his house, and it was like this big function.

And the snake, I’m wrestling with it. It takes me to the ground

There were all these people there schmoozing, and my mom and I were there, and I was sitting on the couch, and all of a sudden, I can see coming through on the floor is a snake coming straight at me. And the snake lunges right at me and goes right into my mouth and I grab the body of the snake, and I’m trying to pull this snake out. And the snake, I’m wrestling with it. It takes me to the ground. Everyone else rushes over, and instead of trying to pull the snake out, they’re pushing the snake further down into my throat, and my mom is standing there, and my mom is just, like, crying, and I’m, like, screaming, freaking out that this snake, well, this is where it all kind of comes together.

So as much as I talked about my fear of a landmine, my other fear is snakes

So as much as I talked about my fear of a landmine, my other fear in life that I have that is still very real till this day is snakes. Oh, snakes freak me the hell out. I live in Texas, and I can tell you, when I go in my backyard or I go anywhere, I’m like, just like. Like, I got one of those snake little tools to pick it up, knowing damn well I won’t do it. But I got the tool to call my neighbor for him to come over and do it, I’d be like, hey, all I need you to do is come over. I got all the stuff that you need to pick that snake. You need a bucket? I got the bucket. You need the little long tool thing. I got that, too. You, need some gloves?

I got that, too, but I ain’t going to do it. But I got people in my community that will do it, but I’m so terrified of snakes. And later, I met somebody that actually was part of the medical team that initially took care of me in country, and she told me that I was fighting everybody off, and I was telling everybody that I was fine. I was fine. Just let me go back, and so what? That was the snake in my mouth and them pushing the snake. It wasn’t a snake. It was them intubating me, because that’s really what had to happen. They had to hold me down and intubate me and push it down because I was fighting them, because my body was going through this state of shock, but it surfaced in the way of fear.

Fear is a really fascinating topic

Pamela Bardhi: Wow.

J.R. Martinez: And so it’s fascinating. Like, fear is a really fascinating topic for me because I’ve kind of learned, like, hey, I was so afraid of this landmine, and that was the thing that almost took my life. I’m terrified of snakes and in my mind, a snake was the thing that was taking my life, was attacking me. And so when fear kind of presents when I feel something that I know, like, oh, I feel, like, a little terrified of this. I find different ways to channel that, and I find ways to utilize that, and I try to find a ways to sort of tell my mind and my body, like, hey, this probably isn’t as much of a threat as you think it is, and let’s focus on something else and not to be delusional, like this toxic positivity approach. Everything’s okay.

No, it just means that I’m going to look at the scenario, evaluate why I feel triggered, and then say, okay, what is it about that situation? Because it isn’t on the surface of what I see or what’s happening. There’s something deeply rooted in that situation that is triggering me, and that’s what I like to focus on. But I like to tell that story, because, again, it’s just another example of how the things you fear are, if you give it too much power and too much weight, it controls you. And it ultimately is the thing that ends up essentially, in many cases, probably consumes your life.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. I love that, Jr, and thank you for bringing that full circle, because that was the trigger question from the very beginning that we.

The mind is a very powerful thing. You program it however way you want to

Right, so it’s so true because, you’re absolutely right when it comes to snakes. I mean, I’m absolutely terrified of them, too. But it represents itself in your mind. The mind is a very powerful thing. Right?

J.R. Martinez: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: You program it however way you want to. And you know what’s crazy is when you awaken and you become aware of how to control your mind, because sometimes you live by, oh, if it’s meant to be, it’ll be. We fall into this. Right? Oh, if it’s meant to be, it’ll be. It’s like what people fail to realize is that we are co creators with our higher power and our highest selves, and so we make choices every day. We get into those mental states. Like you mentioned earlier, you got into this state of mind in order to receive with. Right. Like you went in, especially with this conversation. Right.

And you said, I really want to have an in depth conversation with Pam and really share my story. Right. So it’s like walking in. It shifts everything, and the minute that you realize that you can actually control with your mind every scenario and how you show up in the way that you show up, I think that’s the most powerful thing you could ever know. Right? Am I living life via my subconscious and getting caught in these routines that you’re not even aware of the minute that you pull yourself out and say, oh, my goodness, I’m actually in control. I just have to shift my state of mind in order for me to be in the right place to receive.

What are you creating up here that then resonates and gets created out here?

And recognizing those triggers, I think that’s a real big piece of it, right? It’s like, sometimes we just get angry and stuff, get reactive. But do you ever stop and think, what is causing that trigger to really surface? How can we heal that? And how can we move forward and change our state so therefore, we can create our external reality? Because very much so. Our inner reality is what shapes our outer reality. It’s both the same thing. So it’s just a question of what are you creating up here that then resonates and gets created out here? Story every day.

J.R. Martinez: Every day, 100% and I recently saw this Tony Robbins clip on social media, and he was being interviewed by some guy, and he asked the guy. He says, look around the room and see if you see anything that’s brown, and the guy looks around, and Tony’s like, you see anything brown? The guy’s like, yeah, and Tony’s like, did you see anything that was red? And the guy was like, no, and he was like, all right, now look around and see if you see anything red. Tony’s like, did you see anything red? And the guy’s like, yeah. He said, why didn’t you see the thing that was red? Like, he’s like, because you weren’t looking for it.

I wanted to be this speaker and I wanted to share.

He’s like, so the point of that is, whatever you’re looking for, you will find. I mean, you can find anything to support what your thoughts. So that’s why you have to be even more conscious and aware and careful. Like, if you’re having these negative thoughts and you go and you can feel that if you decide to have these positive thoughts, you can feel that you can find what you’re looking for. And so, for me, it took me a long time to realize that, though, right? It wasn’t suddenly, listen, I spent nearly three years in a hospital recovering. I got out when I was 22 years old, and I got into the world, and I had this new purpose and this new vision that I wanted to be this speaker and I wanted to share.

And I felt like I had a lot that I could bring to the table, and all I kept experiencing was rejection and people telling me that I’m just a veteran. I’m better off just talking to other veterans. Why don’t I just stay in that bubble? And so all that did was trigger me, because what that was triggering me and the way it was triggering me was like, nobody’s listening. No one’s really kicking a can down the road. No one’s really paying attention. No one’s leaning in to find out what’s really going on. They’re allowing their biases to dictate how they respond to me, and it sent me into a dark place, and listen for a couple of years after I got out of the military, I mean, I was drinking, I was angry.

 It’s hard to come back.

I was not a pleasant person to be around. I was hurtful in my words. If I felt somewhat threatened, then I attacked first, and when I attack is no joke. I mean, listen, this is a gift that I have to be able to communicate, but it also, when used the wrong way, it is the worst gift that I can have. It is the worst tool that I can have in my arsenal. It is my superpower. But it also is the thing that can literally just shatter somebody’s world. And I’m aware of that in myself, and I know that I have that ability, and so I’m always trying to be very conscious of that because I know that sometimes you go too far. It’s hard to come back.

And I went too far in a lot of scenarios, and I’m not proud of that. I mean, I was just 22, 23, 24 year old kid, just hurt and trying to navigate life and trying to show up as best as I possibly could. If I was in relationships with girls, and the minute that I felt like things were getting almost, like, too comfortable, I started finding a way to create a scenario where I would push them away. And now you’re getting too close. Getting too real. Nah, get away. Because you know what? Everybody hurts me in my life. I mean, listen, we don’t have the time, and we can always circle back at another time in life.

My mother

But my mother, as great as she was, she also kind of. She challenged me, and she kind of instilled in me some patterns and some behaviors and some thoughts, and she brought some trauma to my life as well. There was all these people that were constantly just like, nah. Letting me down. So anytime something felt real, like getting close. Get away, get away, get away, get away, get away. Push people away. Push people away, and it took my best friend one day encouraging me to be vulnerable and telling me that I needed to cry. And I was like, man, I don’t need to cry, and I was a typical dude, like, no, I don’t need to cry. What are you talking about?

I never cried in front of anybody else until that night

And he was like, no, man, you’re hurting, and you need to let that stuff out. Now, mind you, I have been crying, but, by myself in a controlled space, right, which I think it’s healthy. I think it’s healthy for you. Whatever you feel, you got to be present with those emotions, because that’s how you become aware of. Why am I feeling this way? What triggered this? That’s the work you got to do, and you can only find that out yourself. That takes stillness, and that takes being honest with yourself. I’d spent a lot of time writing and crying and just probably angry writing, but nonetheless, I was getting stuff out, but I never cried in front of anybody else until that night when he was like, man, you need to cry. And, let me tell you about the power of that moment.

This friend, he would always tell me we worked together and for the nonprofit that we were both supporting, and he would always tell me he loved me. And I thought that was so weird. I’m like, all right, bro, I’ll talk to you later. I just didn’t know how to respond to that. I was like, all right, cool, and then that night when he was encouraging me to cry, and then all of a sudden, I started crying, and I just started, all of a sudden, just all this stuff, right? All this stuff. Stuff that I wasn’t even aware of, and at the end of that conversation, it felt so incredible to have a human being show up that I was the first one that looked at him and said, I love you, man, and he’s my homie. He’s my homie till this day. Love him.

What people want.

17 years older than me, but he’s my best friend. He’s like my big brother. He’s like my dad. He’s like everything to my family, and I attribute everything I have to him, because, again, here’s this DNA of this person, Jr. That was born with this really good energy, positive, compassionate. All this stuff and life and my environment was constantly just changing my DNA and hardening me, and hardening me, hardening me. And all people were doing was like, oh, man, every time they encounter me, they’re like, we don’t want to lean into that. That is threatening, and that is alarming, and that makes us feel uncomfortable. So we’ll just kick the can down the road.

And he was the first one that said, let’s pick this can up and see what’s inside of it, and let’s see what we can do with it, and that’s when my life changed and so that’s another reason why when it’s time for me to show up. I try to show up because I never know if I’m going to be that individual for somebody else the same way that he was that person for me. so I had to learn about vulnerability, and I didn’t learn through reading the book. I didn’t learn through listening to a podcast. I didn’t learn through. I learned by feeling it and being around people that created safe spaces, that allowed me to be vulnerable, that didn’t use it against me, that didn’t judge me based on what I shared. And then I started to realize that that’s what people want.

People want people that are vulnerable 

People want people that are vulnerable, that are transparent, that are authentic and real. And I started to just operate from that truth, and the more that I started operating from that place, my life kind of took off. I got an opportunity to become an actor. I got an opportunity to go and dancing with the Stars. I got an opportunity to write a book. I got an opportunity to travel around the world. I still do a lot of motivational speaking. I started my own podcast and just connected with people to learn about their lives. But a sort of one pivotal moment that I like to call the rebirth moment, when something ends and something else is born.

But that thing that’s born now sends you on this trajectory to do this incredible work that we know you for. And it’s all rooted in just me authentically just finding ways to be transparent and vulnerable but it took a lot of work. I mean, I could tell you that, obviously, I’ve gone to therapy a few times. I’ve gone to therapy at different stages in my life. And I think it was really good for me, and it’s healthy for me because I was good enough. When he and I had that conversation at 24, it got me to a good enough place that it lasted me a few years, and then things got heavy.

I went back to therapy

And then around 28, 29, 30, I went back to therapy. Then I had to go back to therapy again a couple of years after that, and so every stage of life is sort of kind of bringing something new to the table or resurfacing a different component of your trauma. I’m not afraid to say that I’m not ashamed of it at all. I own it. And I’m like, it is what it is, but it makes me a better person, and I’m able to show up as a father in a better way. I’m able to show up as a husband in a better way, as a friend in a better way. I’m able to show up as Jr, who I’ve always been this person, I’m able to show up as that person.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that Jr. Oh, my gosh. And as you were sharing that about your friend who said, I love you. I love you, man.

You got away from your purpose with all this success and stuff

And it reminds me and takes me back to this whole thing, which I find so important, having those cheerleaders in your life. You just need one. One person who asked you way back when in middle school, hey, what’s going on here? When you switched schools and your transcripts and now this gentleman kind of coming in and then now, how incredible is it that you get to be that cheerleader for other people and share your story so that your message can get out there? And that’s exactly what we did here today. You never know who’s listening right now that could be empowered and impacted by your story, which is incredible.

So being that cheerleader is quite possibly the most important thing in the world. And the second thing you mentioned that I love and respect so much is that authenticity. The authenticity in yourself, right? That’s what really attracts the world to you, right? Like, you’ve got all those incredible opportunities because you are authentically yourself. And you stepped into your power and you were vulnerable. You were healing all of those wounds that you had. Had you not done the healing, you wouldn’t have opened yourself up to new, right? You would have been the same old bitter Jr. That’s true.

 Let me drop another nugget for you real quick

J.R. Martinez: But again, let me drop another nugget for you real quick. So after all this success and stuff, I got away from that. I got away from my purpose. My purpose is to serve. I mean, that’s what I believe. My life is here. I’m here for. I’m here to serve and I got away from that. And I started taking opportunity just because the money was good, I started taking opportunities and being busy because it was cool to say that you’re so busy and because people are sort of gloating about maybe how good you are in the field that you’re in.

And I found myself now being motivated by that. I was motivated by all that. The wrong things. It’s fine. All of us want to be successful. All of us want to have financial freedom. All of us want to be able to. I get all that. It’s nice to have a little pat on the back. I mean, hell, when I do speaking engagements, they have, like, a little reel that they play for me, and it’s a montage of all these photos and videos with music on it and it makes me look like a rock star, like a badass and I think about it.

 The moment that I started to be inspired by the wrong things

What if every single person in this world had their own real, their own hype video that they played for themselves every morning when they got up or when they’re having kind of a slump in their day or in their week and their month and their year, they played for themselves. What would that do for that individual? Because I know what it does for me before I take that stage, man. It gets me to a point where it allows me to appreciate the journey, but it also gets me ready and lets me understand I am here for a reason. So let’s have some fun, ladies and gentlemen. And so I’m able to show up. But the moment that I started to be inspired by the wrong things, guess what happened? Got taken away from me.

J.R. Martinez: It got taken away from me, and there was a period where I spent, like, and I spent like a year or so where I was, like, talking to my agents, what’s wrong? What’s wrong? What do I need to do? What do I need to do? And of course, they’re like, we don’t know what’s going on. Whatever, and what I really realized, what I needed to do was I needed to just stop trying to find the next thing. And I needed to stop and go back to practicing stillness and I needed to go back to practicing really being present with my own breath and my own self and being completely honest and transparent with myself, and I started going. I had a black lab at the time, and that was my first born.

My time is too valuable

And he and I would go to the park and we’d sit there for hours and I’d write and I’d think and I’d talk, and through that work, I identified, one, I needed to go back to therapy, and two, that I needed to get back to. That’s the reason I believe things were being taken away from me, is because I was operating from the wrong place, and so the minute that I got back to my core and operating from that place, guess what the universe said, okay, you’re ready now. We’ll give it to you. Here you go. And more opportunities started to present themselves. So I’m very careful at this stage in my life where I don’t want to find myself just saying yes, yes, nonstop and being overwhelmed and then now operating from a different place.

I don’t need a lot. I have a great life, like my family. We’re taken care of. We’re good. I don’t need too much. I just need to do the things that at this point in my life, bring me peace. Bring me love, bring me joy. That’s it. and just challenge me to continue to evolve and grow as a human being. If it doesn’t fulfill one of those things, it’s not for me right now. And I don’t have to say yes. I don’t care how good the money is. I don’t care who’s going to be at the event. I don’t care who’s going to gloat about Jr. You got to do. I don’t care. It has to serve me in a certain way because my time is too valuable.

 I’ve had a near death experience

And as I’ve learned, because I’ve had a near death experience, as I’ve learned, life is fragile and precious, and at the same time, not all of us are going to be blessed with a second chance or a third chance or a fourth chance. You may only have one chance, and if you get a second one, if you get a third, that may be your only if you get a fourth. Man. God, Lee, I want to know who you praying to, because I’m going to start praying to that same person, too. But the point is, we just got to understand life is fragile, and this whole mindset of, like, go, go. Nah. That’s why when you think about farming, there’s, like, a season, right? Like, you just plant, plant.

Nothing is growing. Like, you’re just planting seeds. You don’t even know what’s going to stick

Nothing is growing. There’s no harvest. Like, you’re just planting seeds. You don’t even know what’s going to stick. You don’t even know what’s going to happen, but you’re just throwing seeds down nonstop. I mean, we got to be in that season, too, as human beings.

Pamela Bardhi: Amen. Amen, Jr. I love all of that.

Jr. Martinez says he’s looking at returning to his podcast

And speaking of seasons, what’s next in your season? What’s the next season looking like for you in the next few months? What are you up to? What’s going on in your world?

J.R. Martinez: I really want just thank you again for the opportunity to come on and wrap. I really enjoyed it. You never know, especially, like, you and I didn’t know each other before we logged on, and you just never know how the conversation is going to go, how energy is going to connect. And, I felt really positive energy from you. So I appreciate your energy. I appreciate the platform you’ve created and your willingness to allow me to connect with you and your audience, but this is what I love to do as well. And so I had a podcast called Rebirth and had it going for a few years and then decided to stop for a second and just kind of figure it all out and piece it all together.

But that’s the thing that I’m looking at trying to kick back up is the podcast. I’m still doing a lot of speaking, but I’m in this really cool place in life right now, Pam, where I have an eleven year old daughter, I coach her softball team, and I have the two year old son. And it’s just a stage of life where it’s like, you know what, I don’t need to be gone all the time. I need to be very selective and these are the things that bring me so much joy and happiness and I love doing it and I don’t know what’s really next for me. I know, entertainment stuff.

 What I love to have, is just conversation.

Yeah, I want to get back into it, but the right opportunity will present itself if it’s meant to be. Until then, I’m just going to be working on connecting with people, learning from people, when the podcast kicks off again. But in the meantime, I just hope people hit me up on social media and just have conversation with me. Because at the end of the day, that’s what I love to have, is just conversation. So my handle is I am Jr Martinez, so if anyone feels inclined, come hit me up, come say what’s up. Come tell me you heard me on Pam’s podcast. and it’d be good to kind of share some story and wrap about this experience.

Pamela Bardhi: You’re amazing, Jr. Thank you so much for sharing all that and just your whole life experience and all the important nuggets and lessons that you shared throughout. My goodness, it was tremendous. And your energy is beautiful and I love that you come from such a place of authenticity and that’s just absolutely incredible. You’re definitely a cheerleader in this world and you will shape so many lives out there. So thank you so much for your time today.

J.R. Martinez: I appreciate you. Pam, thank you so much for the space.

Pamela Bardhi: Thank you.

Underdog. Always dropping on Thursdays. Catch us next week

So that’s it for today’s episode of Underdog. Catch us next week. Always dropping on Thursdays. And remember, if you’re interested in real estate or want to learn how to create more money and magic in your life, check out meetwithpamla.com and let’s chat. Sending you so, so much love.


Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with J.R. Martinez. If you found this story worth your time and made changes in your life, we’d love to hear from you! Subscribe and leave a review. The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:

If you’re interested in elevating your life 10x, and owning your power, Pamela invites you to join her for a 15-minute call to set your goals straight and get clarity. Start building your game plan now: meetwithpamela.com