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Dragons to Butterflies: The Metamorphosis of a Man with Author Johnnie Calloway

Johnnie Calloway’s first episode on Mental Health News Radio. He is an author of several books including Dragons to Butterflies. He grew up in a small town in Kentucky, with the population at around 11,000. His mother passed when he was only five, leaving him to grow up with an angry, alcoholic, sexually confused father.

Johnnie was born into a reputation that he never wanted but was obligated to live up to. Still, Johnnie always wanted to be the “good guy.” The conflict between his personal desire and his sense of obligation to his dad’s/family’s reputation created a great torment that was oddly accompanied with an insatiable yearning to learn.

Eventually, Johnnie became a seeker of truth. And has now devoted himself to sharing what his seeking has taught him with others. He has written several books including Taming the Dragon, Dragons to Butterflies: The Metamorphosis of a Man, The Bridge, and is currently working on, Within the Chrysalis, It’s an Inside Job.

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Dragons to Butterflies: The Metamorphosis of a Man with Johnnie Calloway

Posted 4/4/2017

Download the Transcript: Dragons to Butterflies

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KRISTIN: Hey everyone. This is Kristin Sunanta-Walker, host of Mental Health News Radio.  I’m here with my very good, new friend, Johnnie Calloway, who is the author of a book that I could not put down called Dragons to Butterflies. Johnnie, thank you so much for agreeing to come on our show.

JOHNNIE: Thanks for having me. I’m really excited about being on your show, and waiting to see where we go.

KRISTIN: You actually did an Empowered Empaths show with us before you even did your own show, which is pretty darn brave because it was an all-female cast until you showed up. Bravo to you, Johnnie.

JOHNNIE: I fit right in there.  It was a good group of ladies, and y’all made me very comfortable.

KRISTIN: Good, I’m glad. Please share with our listeners the impetus for your book, a little bit about you, and what your book is about.

JOHNNIE: I’m Johnnie Calloway. I kind of grew up in Kentucky – the jury is still out on whether I grew up or not. I spent my first twenty-one years there, I’ll say that. Then I came to Florida. I was in and out of trouble throughout my entire adolescence, and I’m not going to give away the book because the book is my story. It’s my life story about my recovery from being an abused child; growing up without my mom that I thought I had killed; my own battles with drug addiction and alcoholism; growing up with a sexually confused, angry, alcoholic father; and my battles with mental illness. I’ve had several diagnoses. I’ve got a lot of letters after my name. If you just saw all those letters you’d think I was really smart because I’ve got ADD, ADHD, PTSD, Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Clinically depressed – all those letters lined up makes me look really good.

KRISTIN: Yes, well a lot of our listeners can resonate with that as can I. We’re in the same academic (ha ha) arena.

JOHNNIE: Good, so we’re on an equal playing field.

KRISTIN: Yes, absolutely – except that you’ve written a book, which to me is way up there. I haven’t done that yet, so we’re not equal there.

JOHNNIE: You’ve done a lot of things I haven’t done, so I’m going to go back to we’re on an even playing field.

KRISTIN: What made you want to write this book because it is so personal? I want our listeners to realize that when you’re reading this you’re pulled into such a personal story, which as our listeners know I love. They know more about my life than they would ever want to know about anybody’s life; and that’s why I dug your book so much, because you just laid it all out there with such refreshing honesty – even the things that you’re not proud of – although I know you have a different take on that because they made you who you are today, which is someone you are proud of. What inspired you to just lay it all out there like that?

JOHNNIE: I’m an open book. In my everyday life, I’m an open book. A lot of times people have said after knowing some of my story, “You ought to write a book.” I’ve heard that for the last 35 years. I wrote a book in 1990 called Taming the Dragon.  It was basically a metaphor of my life, because I wasn’t emotionally in a place where I could tell the real truth like I did in Dragons to Butterflies. But the people that have assisted me in my own personal growth in my life are the people that were soberingly honest, and didn’t hold it back. They opened the door for me to be honest like that. There are a lot of people out there that will talk about being an abused child, and they’ll talk about being a drug addict and alcoholic. There are simply a lot of them that really have not been down that road. For a lot of people today it’s like a fad to be like an abused child, drug addict or alcoholic. I wanted the person who has been there, when they read the book, I wanted them to think, “Oh, yeah! He’s been there! He knows; he’s not making it up.” You can’t make up what’s in that book. It’s real. The people who most influenced me in my life, I’ve known a lot of really, really smart people, but the people who have really influenced me are the people that I can say what is, to me, the greatest compliment in the world – man they are real! They don’t hide. They don’t put on pretenses. They don’t dress up just to go to the store. They’re just real. Those are the people that I look to. I learned as much in my life by watching people as I have by listening. It’s the people that actually operate from spiritual principles that I want to follow, because a lot of people can spout off the game. So when they are living it in their life, that’s who I want to follow.

KRISTIN: Yes, oh man, same here. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to figure out who’s really being their authentic self and who’s being a persona. It can be a little or a lot heartbreaking when you find out that someone isn’t. I don’t mean that as any kind of a judgment, because hopefully one day they will feel okay enough to not live behind a persona. It’s still always, for me, a little heartbreaking when I get a glimpse of who someone really is, and then they run right back to that persona. Not that I haven’t been there myself, but it still always gets me right in the chest. One of the things that I really admire about you, and why I felt so instantly like I was going to be friends with this man, is that you’ve reached that place where there just isn’t – or that you didn’t have before, but I didn’t know you before – but there isn’t a persona here. I’m dealing with Johnnie Calloway when I’m talking to you – straight up.

JOHNNIE: Boy, I hope so. I’ve done a lot of work to be okay with being Johnnie Calloway. There have been times when I’ve tried to put on masks and pretenses, and every time I did I fell on my face!  The truth usually reveals itself for me. There’s a book that I follow quite a bit called The Twelve and Twelve. It’s an Alcoholics Anonymous book, and there’s a line in there – and this is a paraphrase, I’m not good with direct quotes – I make them sound the way I like them. It says, “Only through repeated humiliations do we acquire any degree of humility.” I’ve got to be getting close. I have humiliated myself to death by pretending I was somebody that I wasn’t, pretending I knew something that I didn’t, and it always comes out. So my thing today is to just put it up front right out of the gate. Just right out of the gate, this is me. If you don’t like me, I’m sorry. You go hang out over here, I’ll hang out over there and I’m just going to be me.

KRISTIN: Oh, but that’s so true. It’s the same thing with me. Anytime I’ve tried to be something I’m not, I am going to step in it so bad. It’s going to smell so bad; it’s just going to be so awful. It’s so not worth it that I’ve learned to not even go there. However, there are people that that doesn’t happen for them. They can go on a long, long time pretending to be someone else, and they don’t get caught up short as quickly as you or I have. In my mind it’s a gift to be someone who gets caught up short real quick.

JOHNNIE: The “quick” thing kind of got me there, Kristin, because when I try to be somebody I’m not, it’s pretty quick that I fall on my face. But me getting to where I am in my life today has not been quick. That’s one of the things I have reservations with about my book, because a lot of people have said to me, “It’s almost like you’ve really got it.”  And I say, “Look! It took me 33 years – you might not want to follow my path.”

KRISTIN: Right. Exactly! It’s okay to reveal some things about the book, because it’s the way that you write that they need to read and will make a huge impact on their life like it has for me. I’ve told you offline that I’ve been able to forgive a few people that I really haven’t been able to forgive until I heard your words, and that means more to me than anything. One thing that is so difficult for men to talk about is anything to do with sexual abuse. That’s been a much stigmatized subject especially in society. It’s much easier now than it was in the past, but at the time that it was happening for you, those are things that you just don’t talk about. How was that for you as a male, and what has the reaction been from other men to your being so open about that part of your past?

JOHNNIE: As far as how it affects other men, I’m fortunate that I’ve grounded myself with other men that are pretty open. The people I have in my life today, they put it out there. I guess you could say I’m pretty selective because the people that aren’t in that place I don’t hang out with. I don’t hide from anybody, and I don’t run with anybody that I need to hide from. It doesn’t make sense to me. In the beginning, for me to open up and reveal what had happened to me, and the beginning was 33 years ago, I said what I needed to say and did what I needed to do, not because it was a good idea but because I was desperate. I was so incredibly desperate to quit being crazy and to quit tripping over my own feet. I thought, “Look, if I don’t talk about it I’m going to die or end up in prison. So I’ll just take the risk and see what you do with it and I’ll talk about it.”  When I took the risk and talked about it I found other people opened up with me.

KRISTIN: That’s because people feel so safe with you. Maybe that’s something you know about yourself already, I don’t know. But I can see why you attract people that it is okay to talk about these kinds of things with because that’s you!

JOHNNIE: There are people who have read Dragons to Butterflies that I have never met who have sent me emails, sent me Facebook Messages – and just opened up. In all honesty, sometimes it happens and I think, “I’m glad you have a place to do that.” But what I end up finding out is that they say to me, “You made it okay for me to tell because you told.” I’ve had some really horrendous stories shared with me. People read my story and think, “How did you get through all that?” Then I hear someone else’s story about what went on with them, and I am very humbled. I think, “My deal wasn’t so bad.” Some people say, after reading Dragons to Butterflies, that after years of not being able to let it go, not being able to forget the victimizer, they want to learn how to forgive. That’s what they call me for is to ask, “How did you do that? How did you forgive your dad?” That’s a story that you can read Dragons to Butterflies and find out, but it was a big deal for me to forgive my dad.

KRISTIN: And you actually spent time with him, it wasn’t just a saying you forgave him in a private manner. You forgave him and then spent time with him before he passed.

JOHNNIE: I spent time with him before I could forgive him. I moved back into that little old trailer that I grew up in where all the abuse happened. I told my friend in Florida before I moved back to Kentucky. He said, “Why are you going back there? What are you going there for?” I said, “I have to face my dragon on its turf. I can stand down here in Florida and pretend, or I can go back and face it. I need to go back and face it.” I don’t know why I even knew that, Kristin, but I knew I needed to go be with my dad, and I did. I was 31 years old at the time, and we lived in that same trailer together where all of the crap had happened. We had a couple of things happen that were really intense – I’m struggling with whether I should give them away or not – but my dad ended up being my friend. It was funny – once I forgave him for all of the crap, it gave him permission all of a sudden to be my dad. He did some of the cutest little things trying to be a father to me; for example, at 31 years old he’s trying to tell me about the birds and the bees.

KRISTIN: You’re thinking, “Dad, I’ve got that covered!”

JOHNNIE: I said, “Yeah, I already know about the birds and the bees. In fact I’ve already been stung a time or two. But thanks for letting me in on it.”  But to watch him try to be a father after I forgave him – I’ll say this, because it isn’t in the book in this way – I believe I asked my dad to be who he was in my life with all my heart. I believe I asked him, perhaps in many lifetimes ago, to come help me learn about forgiveness, and he played that role for me until I forgave him. I believe the reason he ended up trying to be a father to me is because he no longer needed to play that role for me and he could play a new role.

KRISTIN: That’s beautiful. One thing I want our listeners to hear about you and this ability for you to do this, what do you think gave you that perspective that he was there for many lifetimes and you knew that he was there to teach you about forgiveness? What is it in your life that helped you come to those kinds of conclusions or awarenesses?

JOHNNIE: Well, you’re going to take me there aren’t you, Kristin?

KRISTIN: I’m going to take you there.

JOHNNIE: There’s no doubt in my mind. The reality of that boils down to one thing, and that’s A Course in Miracles (ACIM.) ACIM settled into my mind, went off like a bomb, and opened it up saying, “Look, we’ve got to get through this peanut shell so you can start seeing life in a new light.” That’s what ACIM did. There’s one line that sold me on ACIM. I happen to have my book right here and I will read that line to you. “I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience and I decide upon the goals that I achieve. And everything that seems to have happened to me, I asked for and received as I have asked.” I believe that to the nth degree. I’ll read something like that and think it’s real wordy, and I’ll have to simplify that. I have to make that a little better for me so I can really digest it. So my version of that is, “Nothing happens to me; everything happens for me.”

KRISTIN: I love that!

JOHNNIE: When I get in a situation that is causing me distress, I think, “Okay, somehow this is a gift. How is this a gift?” I don’t immediately go there because sometime I just want to be a victim and I just want to be pissed. But if it’s something that is really gnawing at me I have to ask myself, “How is this a gift?” and when I do it’s always a gift.

KRISTIN: Oh yeah, that’s what’s been really awakening for me is listening to you just change one word in a sentence – using the word “for” – and that simplifies things so much that it can change your entire perspective on pretty much your entire life.

JOHNNIE: Everything! And some of that, in all honesty, some of what led me into making ACIM palatable for me was Richard Bach and the book Illusions. He had all these little quips in there that he said came from the Messiah’s Handbook, which I thought was a really cool way to put it – and by the way Richard Bach is an idol of mine. One of the things he says in there, and I watch people do this all the time, he says, “Argue your limitations, and sure enough they are yours.”

KRISTIN: I pretty much do that every day.

JOHNNIE: I see people do that all the time. People will literally fight to keep themselves in a box. I have a way of doing that. I feel like if I don’t use what I’ve learned in my life, and I just keep it to myself and stay in a shell, then it has no value.

KRISTIN: Right. Well I will say this, I haven’t known you longer than the last few weeks so I don’t know how you delivered your message before my knowing you, but the way that you said it to me was in such a loving and gentle manner that I was able to hear what you had to say – not go to shame, not feel like there’s something wrong with me – but it certainly made me cry, and I don’t do that often. It was a really great release for me and a place for me to have a stepping stone to move on. So all the times you have said to me, because this the gentleman Johnnie Calloway that I know, you’ve told me how grateful you are for me having you on the show and all the things that we’ve talked about so many times, and you probably have no idea how grateful I am for these wisdom bombs that come out of your mouth in such a great way that I hear them. They’ve already completely changed my life, so I’m throwing that right back to you.

JOHNNIE: Oh, thank you, Kristin. I don’t drop those things on everybody. I have an intuition that I know who’s willing to hear. The last thing in the world I want to do is place a bomb in somebody’s lap that they’re not ready to digest. I don’t want to push them away from what I want to see them move into, and if you give it to somebody before they’re ready to hear it, that’s exactly what you will do. So what I try to do, and I fall way short and I’m going to make that insane announcement that I’m not perfect, I hope anyone that sees or hears me recognizes that I’m not perfect; but my greatest hope is that people who see me in my life will get what ACIM and spiritual healing is about even though they never hear the words. One of the lines in ACIM that I hold very dear to my heart is, “To teach is to demonstrate.” So I can spout off, I’ve read that book cover-to-cover four times, I’ve done the lessons – all 365 of them – three times, I can quote that book all day long, and it does absolutely no good if my feet and my lips aren’t living the same life. You can actually teach what you want to teach and never say a word of it – just be it!

KRISTIN: Right, absolutely. That makes me think of the work that I just did with the horses – therapy work that I did with them where I am out in an arena.  There are three beautiful horses, and the counselor says, “I want you to set an intention of what you want them to do.” I didn’t say a word, yet they did exactly what I wanted them to do. I’m not just saying that they ate some grass and rolled on the ground. I set an intention for them to run around, pick up objects with their mouths, do circles, do all kinds of complicated things – and I never said a word to any one of those horses. The beauty of that kind of work is it is exactly what you are talking about. I was just being, and then they did what I needed them to do without a word coming out of my mouth.

JOHNNIE: In my mind right now, because I am an ACIM student, it is the foundation of everything I stand on. But in the beginning of the book it talks about the power of the mind. We are mind. We identify ourselves as these bodies, but we are mind. There’s a line in there that says, “You are much too tolerant of mind wandering and are passively condoning your mind’s miscreations.” So when you set an intention like you were talking about and you connect it, it will happen. Now I say that and I think, “Why am I still working so hard to get the message in this book out and why doesn’t it just poof. The thing is we have our conscious thinking and then we have our subconscious. I still have issues; I still have those messages that ripple through my being from time to time that say, “You’re just Johnnie Calloway. You’ve got no business on a radio show. You’re just a little redneck.” So what I do is I hear those messages, I don’t condemn myself for those messages, and I step up to what’s next anyway. It reminds me of a John Wayne saying. I wanted to be a cowboy when I was a kid and I’m not sure I ever let go of that. John Wayne said, “Courage is when you feel the fear and you saddle up anyway.” So when we go ahead and saddle up, even though it’s like this show that I’m on with you – it’s like, “Oh my god, this is Kristin Sunanta-Walker. She’s interviewed all these big names. She’s the CEO of this big radio station, and here you’re going to talk to her?”  And I say, “Yes, I am.”

KRISTIN: And I’m sitting here thinking, “I’m just me. I put my pants on like anybody else. I think that’s what has made our show really successful for being in such a niche market of mental health because we don’t celebritize. Have I had my moments of doing that? Yes, but I get over it right quick because something like mental health and addiction, those are the great levelers.

JOHNNIE: Right. When I started writing Dragons to Butterflies, because it’s so brutally in-depth into my childhood, I had to go back to therapy. I went to the lady that was my first ACIM teacher, and she has been an angel in my life for thirty years. So I went to her and as a result she ended up reading Dragons to Butterflies chapter by chapter as I wrote it.  When it was actually a book, one day I was talking to her and said, “I’m really afraid my ego is going to get in the way. I’m really afraid that at some point I’m going to start thinking how great I am, and look at what I’ve done, and forget to be grateful for all the people that have helped me do it.” She said, “Johnnie, that’s easy. What you need to remember is that your story is special – you are not.” So it really helped me remember that I have a story that people can relate to, and I have a way of telling it that people can hear it. But I wouldn’t have any of what I am today, I wouldn’t be who and what I am today, if it weren’t for all the people for the last fifty eight years, not just since I started turning around and walking back out of the woods. There have been people in my life my entire life that picked me up, dusted me off, and said, “Come on, you can do this.” I wouldn’t be on this show right now if it weren’t for those people.

KRISTIN: Where do you think you learned this ability to be so grateful and humble from?

JOHNNIE: As far as the humble part, I really don’t think of myself as humble. In fact, I’m a Leo and I just think, “Okay. Wrapping my mind around me being humble is a stretch.”

KRISTIN: To me you are very humble.

JOHNNIE: For me the deal is that I’m totally aware of how many times I made wrong turns and how many times I went down a dead end. I’m totally aware that I couldn’t do anything I’m doing. When I stopped drinking and drugging and started going to twelve step meetings, I had about a forty word vocabulary, and about twenty of those only consisted of four letters. Those people in those rooms gave me a vocabulary. They gave me an education, and I would watch the ones I admired and respected and I would emulate them. So my vocabulary was given to me by people that often didn’t even know I was listening. They have been my education. I watch people for everything. I wrote Dragons to Butterflies and I wrote Taming the Dragon and literally I’ve got a tenth grade education as far as school goes. But I’ve been taught by the masters how to present things. I’ve been taught by some of the sweetest, most loving people in the world how to feel. The only feeling in 1984 when I walked into my first twelve step meeting was anger and depression. I feel everything today and I love it!

KRISTIN: Tell me how long it took you to write your first book.

JOHNNIE: Taming the Dragon, how long did it take to write the body of the book? It took me about six weeks.

KRISTIN: Unbelievable! How about the next one, Dragons to Butterflies?

JOHNNIE: I wrote twenty-two chapters in nine weeks. But once I started writing, I could not stop. You could ask everybody that knows me. I had people say, “Johnnie you are obsessed. This is another addiction thing.” But that book had sat inside me for thirty years. That story was dying to be told. Once I started telling it, I was up every morning until 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning. I would take that chapter I had written that night and I would go to breakfast with my friend. He would read it and look at me and say, “Oh my god, you’ve got me! Don’t stop!” The same thing with Callie, my therapist; she was reading as I was writing and she’d say, “You can’t stop. You’ve got to tell the story.”  So I had cheerleaders – there were four or five different people who were reading as I was writing. They really helped me with the writing, because when you’re trying to make a point, you know the point you’re trying to make. You can say it and think you’ve made the point; but to somebody that doesn’t know what you’re trying to say, they may not get it at all. These people that were reading while I was writing would say, “Johnnie, just what does that mean?” Then I would re-write it.  I wasn’t always the most gracious about that. Somebody would offer me a new way of saying something and my ego would flair up; but I would hear what they said maybe an hour later or a day later. I’d go back and say, “That was a really good point.” I would re-write it sometimes two or three times, but I had friends that helped me clear up ideas that I was trying to present. The new book I’m writing, The Bridge – Where Souls Connect, I’m doing the same thing, and the same thing is happening with feedback.  I realized that there is another way to raise this child, so I listened.

KRISTIN: That’s hard. I have someone in my life that will ask my opinion and then I give it, but they don’t want to hear it unless it’s flowers and daisies and roses.  I know if I give my opinion, and it’s never harsh, that I’m going to get bit later for it. That always stings and unfortunately that leaves you with me being a conflict avoider because of my own issues. I wonder why I would want to ever give my opinion because I know I’m going to bit later for it. You have to be able to give and be able to receive too and not punish people, especially when they are coming at you in a loving way. I’m trying to look at the situation as what do I need to learn from this? I’m doing the Johnnie Calloway method of, “What do I need to learn about and change in myself to change the situation.” It’s hard if it’s your baby. It’s hard if someone critiques my radio show. This is my baby, but I take it! I listen. Some of it I throw out as hogwash and some of it I identify as, “Yes, that’s a pimple and I need to work on that.” So I know what you are saying.

JOHNNIE: I just want to say thanks again for having me on here. It’s been a dream my whole life to be able to share things, because even when I was a kid living in all the muck, when I was a drug addict living in and out of jail, there was a part of me that was trying to learn. So I’ve always wanted to be able to share what I’ve learned.   So here I am. It’s easy to have a dream, but it’s not so easy to sit with it once it starts being realized.

KRISTIN: That’s such a perfect segway. So picture this: your book takes off like a rocket, more than it already has, you get offer after offer, and you are busy speaking and doing this and that. I’ve watched people come in and do my show and they’ve never had that level of success (not because of my show – I’m not myself credence like that) but they reach this new level of success. It does change some people.  Some people are the same, a little bruised, but they really are the same core person they were before. One even said, “The extra money and success means I have that many more worries than I had before.  It was easy when I was broke, starving and trying to get my work out there.” So what I ask you is how do you think you will handle reaching that kind of success?

JOHNNIE: In all honesty, Kristin, that scares me. I do have an ego and I am a Leo. As we would say in Kentucky, “I have an incredible tendency to get all big britches.” That scares me because I don’t want think I’m bigger or better than the people who are really in my life. That segways into one thing I always want to put out front that I didn’t do when we started talking. I’m not a doctor. I don’t have any kind of letters after my name other than my diagnoses. I’m not even a therapist or a life coach. What I am is another patient that found my way through. What I have to offer is that there is hope. If you don’t ever give up and you keep turning over rocks looking for what is your way to get through, then you will find your way through. I was talking to a lady, Mary Pat, an astrologist and a psychotherapist, who was a big part of my healing. She asked me, “What do you think you did?” I said, “I just kept turning over the rocks, and in the process I found a lot of stuff under the rocks I didn’t want to find. I did a lot of things that didn’t really help.  But I didn’t let the ones that didn’t help keep me from looking for the ones that did.” Just don’t give up! If I’ve got one message – that’s it! Don’t give up!  Keep looking, and if you try something that doesn’t work, try something else. If you try something that does work, don’t lock into it because there’s always something more.

KRISTIN: Yes and one thing that I know is that the climb, the looking and the searching is something that should go on until you are toes up in the ground or cremated. That’s life. I don’t think our purpose here is to ever get to place where we think, “Yep, I got this thing down pat and I know everything.” I hope when I’m the ripe old age of whatever it is before I pass to the next thing that I’m still seeking on that day for something. That’s something that I personally believe in. But I want to take you back to this fear of what are you going to do when you have that level of success, because you glossed over that real quick.

JOHNNIE: Oh, you’re too quick. You’ve done this before haven’t you? I have surrounded myself with people that will tell me the truth, and I constantly talk to those people. My friend, Ed, wrote the intro to my book, and to this day I cannot read that without tearing up. I talk to him and if I start getting out of whack thinking I’m all that, he says, “You need to come back down to earth. It’s okay to have your head in the clouds but keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.” Then there’s Callie who says, “Johnnie, the thing that people love about you is your honesty and humility.” Again, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that. I think I have a pretty clear vision of when that happens (not if it happens) that I have people in my life that will keep me real, because that’s always my goal – to be real.  Does that answer your question or did I skate around it again?

KRISTIN: No, you did well. I say the same thing for myself. One thing I’ve learned in my life is that nothing really ever happens for me until I don’t have an ego about it. For me, I’m not worried at all about how successful this radio show has become and the kind of contacts that I have. I don’t think about those things, perhaps because I grew up around celebrity culture and I hung out with a lot of celebrities when I was really young so I saw that it’s not the answer. Those are some of the most miserable people that I’ve ever met – not all of them, but some of them. All that stuff that people equate with success is not the answer. I think for people like you and I that step in it and are shown real quickly when our pimples are showing, we don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen when it does, because we’ll be okay. We’re surrounded by a lot of good people. Any time I do have my moments, because I do, I get slapped down quickly just like you do, and that’s where the humility and humbleness comes in. It cracks me up that you don’t identify with those words. That is you to a t.

JOHNNIE: I think part of what will protect me in that place is that I live in a place of transparency. I don’t hide me. I was part of a group discussion on humility, and someone spoke up and said, “I’ve been reading about Confucius. Confucius says, ‘He who has true perspective of himself on this planet must be humble indeed.’” Honesty will help you remember you’re not all that. When he said that in that group, because I have a visual way of thinking, I saw a picture where I was standing outside of a shopping mall, but at the same time I was in a hot air balloon looking down at myself. I looked pretty small compared to the mall, but as I rose in the balloon, soon the mall looked small compared to the parking lot. Then the parking lot looked small compared to what was around it. Then I realized the little speck of dust down there that I call Johnnie Calloway is just a little speck of dust. I’m just a little part in a great big thing, and if I can keep my mind on that then perhaps maybe I can continue to talk in a way that people can hear, instead of shutting me off as one of those arrogant guys who thinks who knows everything that the rest of us need to catch up on.

KRISTIN: A mansplainer. Have you ever heard that term, mansplaining?

JOHNNIE: No, I haven’t.

KRISTIN: I’ll let our listeners Google that one, and I’ll explain that one to you later. Johnnie, please tell our listeners where they can find out more about you.

JOHNNIE: As far as about me, you could go to my blog, which is, and everything that I am doing is on there. My other radio interviews are on there. I have a couple of other radio shows I’m about to do, one for Sober Life Radio and one for Rise and Grind Recovery. You can find everything on the blog. As far as the book goes, Amazon is the best place to buy it. If you want to order a signed copy, you can order it via my email which is Please Like us and Friend us on Facebook. That will help me immensely. I need all of that stuff I can get. I’m still out here struggling, trying to get to where I need to be. But this has been such a miraculous journey for me with how this book has unfolded. I try not to worry about what’s next and just keep doing what shows up in front of me. But you can find everything you need to know about me on my blog.

KRISTIN: Fantastic. Thank you again, first for becoming such a good friend and so quickly.

JOHNNIE: Well, I’m going to challenge that, because I think we knew each other many, many years ago and we’re just now really connecting.

KRISTIN: I agree. And thank you so much for agreeing to come on the show.

JOHNNIE: Oh, thanks for having me. I’m seriously thinking, “Okay, really, I’m on this show? That’s great! So cool!”

KRISTIN: And thank you to our listeners for another edition of Mental Health News Radio.

Please join us next time on Blogtalk Radio. Visit for a list of upcoming and past shows. If you’d like to be a guest on our show, please visit or email me at


alcoholism, anxiety, authentic life, behavioral health, community, coping skills, current events, de-stigmatizing mental health, depression, destigmatize mental health, destigmatizing mental health, emotional abuse, empath, healing, healing life, healing lifestyle, Kristin Sunanta Walker, life skills, mental health, mental health awareness, mental illness, narcissistic abuse, narcissistic abuse recovery, overall health, psychology, PTSD, recovery, Recovery from addiction, self-care, substance abuse, suicide, suicide prevention, trauma, Trauma recovery

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