Fresh Blood Podcast Episode Guest - John Jack

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self? John Jack gets real about life, death, addiction and getting through to create and keep a successful, fulfilling life.

JOHN JACK is an actor and producer of 20 years standing. He has enjoyed a career which has spanned the worlds of theatre, film and television and has appeared in many hit productions from award winning television programmes such as Silent Witness to West End hits like Phantom of The Opera and Shout to the Netflix movie, Princess Switched:Switched Again. John is also a first time author, his book, Letters To My Former Self is his first foray into inspirational writing and is the first instalment of a multi part series.

Letters to my former self:

John Jack Facebook page:


[00:00:00] Jolie Downs: [00:00:00] Today. We are talking with John Jack. John is an actor and producer of 20 year standing. He has enjoyed a career which has spanned the worlds of theater, film, and television. He has appeared in many hit productions from award-winning television programs, such as silent witness to West End hits like Phantom of the Opera and Shout to the Netflix movie, Princess Switched:Switched Again. John is also a first-time author. His book Letters to My Former Self is his first foray into inspirational writing and is the first installment of a multi-part series. I am really looking forward to learning more. Thank you for joining us on Fresh Blood, John, please tell us a little bit about your career and what brought you to this point of writing a book.

[00:00:54] John Jack: [00:00:54] Hi, Jolie. First of all, thank you for having me. It's an absolute pleasure to be here. Tell you about my career and what led me to write the book. Gosh I wrote the book I began writing the book in 2009, so a long time ago. And I had been an actor since 2000. I left drama school in 2000 and that's the career that I pursued since then, like most actors, obviously, that's involved other things to keep the Wolf from the door from time to time.

[00:01:20] But that has always been my sort of been focused, but the book came into being in 2009 and I wrote a fairly rough draft of it and then put it away for years and years and years. And then during lockdown, I I find myself like a lot of people saying, all of a sudden I have all this time on my hands and it's this awful global pandemic and it's really depressing.

[00:01:41] And we don't know how long it's we have to do something in this time, which is positive. Any casting directors listening take note. But once I'd pulled every last hair from every last plug holder in my house I really left with nothing, really. I wanted to use that time.

[00:01:59] It's so rare that, and it's a ghastly situation for it to happen. And I understand that, millions have died and I do not in any way, shape or form want to make light of that, but it's so rare to be forced to stop, In the middle of our hectic lives we all have hectic lives nowadays. It doesn't matter whether it be a fortune 500 company CEO or whether you work in a normal nine to five job, we all live in a digitized, phonetic, modern society.

[00:02:28] And this someone described that first lockdown and I say first lockdowns, I don't know what it's been like in America, but we've had several lockdowns in Britain. And that first one, the one. Have you been the same?

[00:02:42] Jolie Downs: [00:02:42] Yes. I've been in California, so yes, we've had many lockdowns ourselves too.


[00:02:48]John Jack: [00:02:48] We've been the same. And that first one, though, none of them have quite had the same depth charge of a resonance to them as that first one. And I, I had that described by someone, a very Sage person whose name escapes me. I can't actually remember who it was, but it stuck with me.

[00:03:07] Describe that as the great pause.

[00:03:11] Jolie Downs: [00:03:11] I love that. Yes.

[00:03:13]John Jack: [00:03:13] That's evocative, and it's a great , this great mantle of nothingness descended on the earth, not just one country, but the whole world. And I really wanted to come out of that having done something positive because there was a part of me realized, or I thought at the time that it would never happen again, actually has happened subsequently several times, but didn't know that at the time, And so I, I dug this book and it was on a memory stick and in 2009 and 2010 I'd had a literary agent, a very.

[00:03:47] Prestigious literary agent involved with it. And for various reasons, including the death of my mother I decided not to pursue it. And so it starts on a memory stick for a decade. And I of thought to myself, what can I do that's positive for me as a project for me, that I can.

[00:04:05]But I can be creative. My creativity was taken away from me as it was for a lot of people. So I was looking for a project. But I was also looking for something that could, that, I, again, I don't know what it's like in America, but we were being asked to potentially, volunteer to support the NHS in this kind of way.

[00:04:22] There was a real community spirit around at that time, can you visit an elderly neighbor if they need grocery shopping? So I was looking for something that could maybe serve. Other people a little bit. And I remember this book which was a collection of, I think at the time I had a rough draft of 17 different little treatises that all little essays on life subsequently became 21, 21 to me sounded like a good sort of solid number.

[00:04:51] And I pulled it out. And I began to work on and I worked on it quite feverishly during the whole lockdown. And they don't mind telling you, Jolie, that saved my sanity. Having that to concentrate on. And I know it came quite quickly, a fully formed manuscript that I then ferried off to my wonderful editor and she worked through it with me and we got it into print quite quickly.

[00:05:16] So you don't, it's one of those things it's when the team is right. At the time, obviously it wasn't right in 2009, but this last year the time seemed to be right. And they say that when the time is right, it's easy and all of a sudden everything became easy. And and before I knew it, I was holding a copy of it in my hand, so it was a real I was going to say it's a little bit of love. It really wasn't a labor at all. It was an absolute joy to have some kind of. Self-expression some kind of ability to keep control in a world where there was no control.

[00:05:51] Jolie Downs: [00:05:51] Oh, isn't that so true. Being able to focus on what we can control, as opposed to what we can't control. It's what helps keeps us sane really. And finding that flow of creativity is a gift. It is a, a podcast guest I recently had, she talked about how that, that brought you into the zone of, bringing something new into the universe and it keeps you out of that need of.

[00:06:16]Addiction, negative feelings. What have you? It's just a, it's a very pleasurable joy filled zone to be in that zone of creativity. So it is a gift and I, it makes me, it makes me reflect on how much creativity is, was birthed really last year and what we will be seeing flourish this year.

[00:06:33]John Jack: [00:06:33] There will be, I'm no prophet. But I think there will be a Renaissance of a sort after this has been conquered and after the pandemic dies down and we begin to start looking at rebuilding because. We will need to rebuild a world has been irrevoquebly changed by this.

[00:06:52]And I think that will come at Renaissance. The likes of which came after the black death in the middle ages the likes of which after the first world war and the influenza pandemic of 1918. So I out of a Gastly awful deadly world health crisis. I think over the next decade, may come extraordinary works of art, leaps of science and literature.

[00:07:17] And and I hope that can come from something as gastly as what we've been through because that's the door and after the dark night isn't it?

[00:07:24] Jolie Downs: [00:07:24] Yes. Oh, I agree. And it's my hope. It is my fervent hope. John, tell me, I'm curious with your book because you wrote this in 2009 and we all know what it's like to have life get in the way of these goals that we might have. I'm really sorry to hear about your mother. A death of a loved one, completely just throws things into the works.

[00:07:45]How did you get through the difficult? I have a couple of questions. We're going to start with this one. How did you get through the difficult times and pursuit, because through this, you continued with your acting career and obviously did a lot of successful things.

[00:07:59] How did you move forward through those difficult times?

[00:08:03]John Jack: [00:08:03] I was very lucky. I had work, , when my mother passed away, I was working in the West end of London. I was I was in Phantom of the opera at the time. And I. When I left Phantom, I almost immediately went back to Phantom to do the 25th anniversary concert to the opera hall. So that was, that was a time of real work of, that was eyes.

[00:08:23] My mother was one her final journey, so I had a creative outlet. I had one, I have companionship and camaraderie my, the cast at the time that I was with in that Western shore, where were like my family. And I'm still very close to many of them. And they got me through that. What I couldn't do, what I couldn't do was be was at the risk of sounding a bit self-indulgent I couldn't.

[00:08:51] Birth creativity. If that makes sense, I could do it. I could go on stage and perform someone else's words and in a costume and do the job. And what I couldn't do was create any, if that sort of makes sense.

[00:09:07] joliedowns: [00:09:07] Yes. Makes sense.

[00:09:08] johnjack: [00:09:08] I remember sitting down I had a deadline from the agency that I, that the app was working with and they'd sent me some connections and I sat down to do those connections.

[00:09:17] And I remember this feeling of physical nausea that would we've worked for me every time I sat down and tried to do it. And it got to the point where I thought this isn't, it's not there at the moment, step away

[00:09:29] joliedowns: [00:09:29] Yeah.

[00:09:31] johnjack: [00:09:31] I did. And in hindsight it was the right thing to do. But, overall what got me through that was work. It was friendship. It was family. It was it was heart. It was being surrounded by good people, positive people.

[00:09:45] joliedowns: [00:09:45] Staying in the connection, being connected.

[00:09:47] johnjack: [00:09:47] Exactly. And, it's that feeling of being not even just your people having your back, but they're underneath you.

[00:09:54] There's a cradle there you can do to what falling we will catch you, and that's there's a real freedom to be vulnerable enough and to be To not have to be as strong as perhaps you've feel that you have to be normally day to day, it's okay.

[00:10:07] You can fall apart. You can grieve, you can be up. I remember when I was in rehearsals for the 25th anniversary concert of Phantom at the Opera. And I had received a phone call from one of the specialists at the hospital. And they'd said, be on standby. And just in case they call you.

[00:10:27] And I remember speaking to a dear friend of mine, Phillip Griffiths an act of it had been in Phantom for about 30 years now. And he was like company dad in a way. And I remember going to Phillip and saying look, I have this situation, I may need to walk out of this building mid performance.

[00:10:45] And I remember him saying, if that happens, don't worry about it. Just pick your stuff up, take your costume off and leave the building. And I will speak to Carmen and Macintosh and it's

[00:10:57] joliedowns: [00:10:57] Ah, that's a good,

[00:10:58]johnjack: [00:10:58] That kind of thing where you don't have to worry about it, you don't have to fray about doing what you need to do.

[00:11:04] So that got me through these people got me through it. That job got me through and subsequent jobs. I've always found work to be a real self. In my life work. I don't, yeah, absolutely good. And I must quantify what I mean by that. I, actors and many other professions in the pursuit of the.

[00:11:24] The what's the word I'm looking for? Vocations, because that's what they are the notifications and the procedures of vocations often have to do jobs, which are less than desirable. And that's not really what I'm talking about, although they have their value as well. But I'm talking about good, healthy work that feeds your soul.

[00:11:39] And for me, that's always been. The thing that has oiled my joints. If you like, whenever I'm getting a bit creaky that's what much? And I think it was who was it that said Humphrey Bogart's wife, Lauren Bacall. It was Lauren Bacall who said? I always enjoy my holidays much more when I know there's work to come at the end of it

[00:12:02] joliedowns: [00:12:02] I like that. That it's true.

[00:12:04] johnjack: [00:12:04] So true. So true. So for me, it's work. It's good friends, it's good people. And it is right thinking and I've learned over the years.

[00:12:16] joliedowns: [00:12:16] I think that's important.

[00:12:17] johnjack: [00:12:17] Absolutely. I've learned over the years to question my thought process, to analyze my thought process and to amend my thought process when necessary.

[00:12:26] And to be honest with you, Julie it's necessarily quite a lot of the time.

[00:12:30] joliedowns: [00:12:30] Isn't it? Yes.

[00:12:32]johnjack: [00:12:32] It really is. So yeah, so that's those things get me not sorting through not sealing through bumbling, through, tripping through falling through sometimes, but getting through.

[00:12:42] joliedowns: [00:12:42] Getting it all through. No, I think that's wonderful. And now, you've had a successful career as an actor, which is something that many people dream of. How did you get there? How, what brought you to being able to land these types of roles?

[00:12:57] johnjack: [00:12:57] I went to drama school. I was going to study opera and yeah, I'd semi trained as an opera singer over the private tutor for awhile when I was about 17. And and I was about to go off to go to opera school. And I

[00:13:14] joliedowns: [00:13:14] Okay. So this was something that you knew at a young age. So you were going to opera school when you were a teenager.

[00:13:21] johnjack: [00:13:21] Yeah, I was on, I was in the church choir. Yeah. I was in the church choir. They were called, they don't exist anymore. They were called the Glenview singers and we used to travel all over Scotland doing gigging and churches and Yeah. And somebody at some point said, you have quite a good voice.

[00:13:37] You should think about getting that trained. And and so I went to my school music teacher who put me in touch with the head of opera at the Royal Scottish Academy, which is now the Royal conservatory of Scotland. And I'm from there, I was put in touch with a singing, a wonderful singing teacher called Peter Alexander Wilson.

[00:13:53]And from there I trained with him. And the view was that I was going to go to opera school. But I realized that I wanted to do other things. I wanted to do musical theater for a start, which is not always very compatible with the very refined world of opera. And I wanted to be an actor.

[00:14:10] Jolie, I wanted to speak Shakespeare and Chekhov and be in television, dramas and movies. And that led me to, to a wider education at drama school. And I went to drama school and I, in my final year I won the Memorial award. And at the time he abandoned. The only Scottish actor who'd ever been nominated for an Oscar at that time, I don't think that's the case note was at the time.

[00:14:33] And and he had just, unfortunately, very tragically been involved in an accident, which he did not survive months before the award was due to be awarded. And it was the norm. Get all the awards, but so therefore that brought with that certain amount of media attention as well.

[00:14:47] And I landed an agent and I began to audition. I started doing their own traditions and getting work and building up a CV and and thoroughly enjoying it, I remember being in a rehearsal room at the citizens theater in Glasgow. And we were rehearsing the cherry orchard.

[00:15:03] I think it was a Chekhov. And I remember that the director very famous director called Phillip. saying to me you, you would be needed to m orrow we're going to work on these other scenes, so you won't be done. I was about 23 because you won't be needed tomorrow. And I said, Oh, I said, Okay, I'll sit down.

[00:15:18] Do you mind if I come in anyway, just to watch and he looked at me as if he didn't have this before he said you, if you have nothing better to do. And I did, I came in and I, even though it wasn't needed because I wanted it to be there. I want you to be sedated in it, and I used to go and I still do sometimes if I'm doing theater productions I used to love to sit in the wings when I wasn't on and watch other actors perform the craft.

[00:15:38] And that's how I learned to do mine. So that's how it. it's I often say to people, I I feel like I haven't had a kid yet. I've just had a very lucky series of jobs.

[00:15:52] joliedowns: [00:15:52] that's a gift. Oh, that's a gift. Now. What about challenge? I'm sure you face challenges and obstacles during this time. What has been one of your greatest challenges or failures or obstacles that you dealt with and what did you learn?

[00:16:06] johnjack: [00:16:06] an actor's greatest challenge. Is his or her ability to summon and continually summon. And there's no guarantee of ever having to stop summoning, tenacity. It is an industry which. And any young people thinking about going into the acting industry, listen to this and take notes. And this is something I've said in masterclasses, I've done in the past.

[00:16:34] This industry promises you precisely nothing and nine times out of 10. That's exactly what it delivers. And so the ability to turn up again and again and again, and get a new and another note and another new, and that's when it's good, Julie, sometimes you're not even getting into the room, So it's a real. It's gotta be vocational. I use that phrase deliberately because being a doctor or a minister or a priest or something like that, that there's so many difficulties. And it's so fraught with so many disappointments as an industry that. If you're going into it for guaranteed money or fame or continued success, you may as well do something else because the chances are, if you do get there, it's a very long and hard time, Jolie you need to do it.

[00:17:34] Actually. You need to do it. And I've often said to young actors, if there's anything else you think you can do, that will make you happy in life for the love of God, go and do it. those of you who are left, who know that this is the only thing that will feed your soul, welcome to the club.

[00:17:57] joliedowns: [00:17:57] Yeah.

[00:17:59]johnjack: [00:17:59] In terms of obstacles, an actor, an active, in many ways, faces obstacles every day.

[00:18:04]I've often said to people, the actors real work. The real work that actors do is not on the stage is not in front of the camera. It's not in the audition room. It's not setting in the agent's office, charming them and hoping they'll take you on it's every day when the phone doesn't ring it's everyday.

[00:18:24] When the email doesn't come. And you're waiting and that we think can go on for months, so that's the real Everest that an actor needs to claim. Anyone. Anyone can can shine on stage it's whether or not you can shine when you're not there, when you're not doing what you want to do. And that's the real challenge,

[00:18:41] joliedowns: [00:18:41] Yeah. And that's really good advice for many different fields. You need to, if you're going to go into it, you need to really want it. It needs to be something that you need to do. And that's how you'll succeed because that's how you get past all the challenges that come your way, because it's something that is inside of you that you're going to continue to do, regardless of who pushes you down or knocks you over.

[00:19:01] You're just going to get back up and keep

[00:19:03] johnjack: [00:19:03] Also, I think on a fairly an attrition level. I remember years ago, setting in a dressing room with an older actor, sharing a dressing room with them and he said he said, listen, He said, just hang in there long enough. I said, what do you mean? And he said, you'll find that as you move through the age brackets of your castability as an actor over the years, the competition falls away.

[00:19:26] You said people. The, the they get lured away to regular paying jobs. They have children. So therefore they've got to go and find other sources of income and they get lured away by that. There's lots of that you said, and you'll find that it gets as you go through the years until actually getting quite a small pill by the end of it.

[00:19:45] And I've found that to be true in many ways.

[00:19:48] joliedowns: [00:19:48] That is good advice. And many people come into their own and the, and in their forties, fifties, sixties, what have you. So there's that sense of knowing ness that happens within them that can change how they're seen from the outside as well.

[00:20:02] johnjack: [00:20:02] I think you're

[00:20:03] joliedowns: [00:20:03] What would you say has been key to continued success in your life?

[00:20:09] johnjack: [00:20:09] Key to continued success. What has been key to continued success? I, my natural disposition. I don't know if it's about being a tortoise, we're being Torty. I don't know what it is. My natural disposition is to be in a kind of torpor, a member of a dreamer, but head in the clouds by my very nature.

[00:20:34] And I'm really aware of a propensity to do nothing. And therefore to counteract that, because I have a bit of a hoarder of that, Julia, I know that it lives in me. And so the way that I counteract that is by doing too much often, you know and then Stave that off. But a wonderful writer, friend of mine, whom I've worked with many times he's an actor as well, but he's also very successful writer for theater and television award-winning actually, and he often says Nothing gets done until the cloth of your trousers touches the cloth of the seat. He said, nothing can happen until that happens. And that's true. And I found that any continued success I've had has required consistent deliberate, and sometimes against my better will and better judgment effort on my part.

[00:21:29] joliedowns: [00:21:29] Yes. I agree.

[00:21:31] johnjack: [00:21:31] The issue, they've been the only thing that's floated into my lap and you go it wasn't that lovely stroke of fortune, but then you trace it back and you go, but hold on a minute, if I hadn't have worked with that person last time and only worked with that person last time, because I did that.

[00:21:43] And then I went to that party that didn't want to go to and I went, that's rare and you'd be traced up stroke of luck back. You actually realize it wasn't a stroke of luck at all. It actually is a result of something you did. It could be used.

[00:21:55] joliedowns: [00:21:55] yes, you are. So right. It all affects everything and it's all about making the effort. You're so right. And you're not the only one that has it in them to do nothing.

[00:22:07] johnjack: [00:22:07] yeah,

[00:22:08] joliedowns: [00:22:08] And we all have it in ourselves and we all have in ourselves to do amazing things. And it is a matter of focus and where we put our minds. So it goes back to what you said, how you feed your mind in the right way. So do you know, do you, have you adopted any specific habits that you feel help lead to your success?

[00:22:27] johnjack: [00:22:27] I'd make my bed every day.

[00:22:29] joliedowns: [00:22:29] No.

[00:22:31] johnjack: [00:22:31] Every single day and it's I have I, I like nice things, I'd like to think of an nice hall. And so my bed, lovely feather Doobie, and I have six pillows on it. And then they'll have cushions on top of the pillows and it's making this thing is a task, I'm not talking just for the covered over and walk away.

[00:22:48] I make this thing every day. And there's something about doing that. That gets me started. And I'm not seeing that everything I do as a result of making my bed, but what it does, it's a bit like having breakfast, your breakfast sets up your metabolism in town. There's something that making my bed in the morning, that sets up my metabolism in terms of productivity.

[00:23:07]I would say the same thing about brushing my teeth to a certain extent and putting a comb through my hair. These are things that bookmark the fact that I'm knowing whacking more than I'm not in resting mode anymore. And I would say to anyone who struggles to get started in the morning,

[00:23:23] joliedowns: [00:23:23] Make your

[00:23:23] johnjack: [00:23:23] make your bed.

[00:23:24] It's something about, I think that fundamental connect, I think there was a quite a well-known. Military genital who goes around telling people in seminars to make the bed because it's yeah. I'm sure that it's,

[00:23:37] joliedowns: [00:23:37] It's exactly what you said, it's it sets that sets your mind up for success. So once you have that very easy success under your belt immediately, then you're ready to continue to have successes goes along. It's like the fitness thing. What is it? What is it? A body in motion stays in motion, a body and rest stays and rest will, you're going along the same lines.

[00:23:57] A mind set up for success immediately is probably going to continue working towards success throughout the day.

[00:24:03] johnjack: [00:24:03] Yeah, Jolie and I and the second volume of this, which is in the works at the moment, , there will be a chapter on ritual, the importance of a ritual as human beings, we are innately almost, I think, genetically, I think we've done it for so long. It's become part of our genetics. We are moved by ritual and that if you're making your bed every day psychologically or whatever it is, you do, it may not be making your bed.

[00:24:28] It may be, I don't know, put a comb through your head or making a cup of coffee, but the act of doing that just the ritual of it takes your head into a different space.

[00:24:36] joliedowns: [00:24:36] Yeah.

[00:24:36] johnjack: [00:24:36] Habit for me, isn't it. And I think for me, healthy habits are things that, that kind of, cause I'm a bit like a, I guess I'm a bit like a robot in that sense.

[00:24:45] Once I've done the one thing my little brain goes, all right, we're doing that now. And off it goes the good chucking along. But if I do that, I don't make that bed. That chucking doesn't start.

[00:24:55] joliedowns: [00:24:55] You want to start that!

[00:24:57] johnjack: [00:24:57] Yeah. I'm a little hopeful.

[00:25:00] joliedowns: [00:25:00] Let's be honest. All of our brains are like that. Social media and gay, video games, all playing me off those little things in our brain. So you just have to figure out how to hack it the right way. And that's what you're doing is setting up those right habit hacks.

[00:25:15] I, you started to ask you and then we veered off. So you started to write your book in 2009 and got off course because of life things. But what inspired you to start to write this book?

[00:25:25] johnjack: [00:25:25] Ah, okay. So they're there in lies a story. So I in 2008, I went through a bit of a personal crisis. And I ended up Putting myself into a 12 step fellowship. And for me that was alcoholics anonymous. Some people see, some people say you shouldn't break anonymity at media level. I've never not.

[00:25:47] So I have no problem with it. It could save a life, Jolie, that's the way I look at it. And. Yeah. And and I have to see it as a complete aside to that, the reason why I entered the 12 step fellowship is because I saw a video of a Scottish actor who became a very well-known American television personality called Craig Ferguson who was on the late show.

[00:26:09] And he did his own monologue about his time and alcoholics anonymous. And that's seeing that is what led me into the fellowship and saved my life. So I'm very aware of. Open it in once anonymity at media level can save a life cause it saved mine. So I went through that and I came into he and I began the work.

[00:26:28] It was a long journey, a long road of self discovery and lot of work on myself and my thought patterns and all that kind of stuff and the stuff we were talking about earlier on real reclaiming your thoughts, that's all stuff I learned any and. I'd lost my father in 2004.

[00:26:47] I lost my mother in 2011, so I didn't really have a father figure around at that time. And I was learning all of this sort of spiritual stuff in this fellowship and trying to assimilate to know my father had been a. A pastor, a minister. So I grew up in the church and your spirituality was nothing new to me, but I was landing a whole lot of life skills in th that needed assimilating.

[00:27:13]I did not have a father figure to turn to and I was also feeling, I think a little bit how does, how am I going to function in the world of the theater and movies and television, where it's a wash with alcohol and all that kind of stuff. Without this crutch, and so I took to doing a writing course. I feel the real well-known writing course. And one of the, one of the just to kickstart my creativity and recovery. And one of the exercises in that was to write a letter to yourself on the age of 80. And I did, and this. Voice came flowing out of me from goodness knows where that was not my own, that was wise and it was warm and it was reassuring and it was very kind and it was knowledgeable and it was It had for knowledge as well.

[00:28:06] And and it really struck a chord in me. And I went back to that later time and time again and over time. And I think I see this in the in the preface to the book, I began to think, this has helped me. This is This is solid gold life advice and here, and it has helped me, but there might be something in there for other people.

[00:28:25] And so the idea of a book came out of it, the idea of if your future, much older self at the very end of your journey. Could speak to, with all your petty, what is and let's face it in the grand scheme of things. The vast majority of our bodies are pretty petty. We go into the good yardstick of will this still matter?

[00:28:44] In five years, time is pretty good. And it does tend to eliminate 95% of stuff,

[00:28:49] joliedowns: [00:28:49] Yes.

[00:28:50] johnjack: [00:28:50] And the idea of having someone look back kindly who has been, you, hasn't been in your position, hasn't been in a similar situation, but has been you and looking back at themselves and getting that sort of, Impossible situation but in infection, of course, anything can happen being able to talk to your former self and rather than, not so much give them the answers because that wouldn't be helpful, but just nudge them gently in the right direction, give them the right advice that they need to do the right thing.

[00:29:21] Wouldn't that be helpful? And so a whole book emerged out of that and It was this much. And I see in the book and it's so true. I wrote the book for me and it's not the first, it's happened more than once that someone has turned around to me at various situations in my life.

[00:29:41] Since I wrote it and said, you should try and reading your own book. I do remind them that I wrote the book for me, but every other I talk about as a struggle iPod. And do you know what Johnny still have still struggled things. And so it's a gift for me to other people, but really the book was written.

[00:30:00] It was written to me.

[00:30:02] joliedowns: [00:30:02] the reminder you need the reminder, we all need the reminder. I think that's really powerful. It's you know, having that time in, in to think about all of this and to reflect on your life, it's. Yeah, opens up a lot, right? Opens up a lot of realizations and growth and insight into how you are, the way you are and the way you make decisions.

[00:30:27]And Oh, my favorite part, though, it just reflect on everything you said here. It's all going through my mind was that this voice came out of you unbidden and every word, descriptive word that you use to describe that voice. Is exactly the type of voice that we should all be hearing in our minds.

[00:30:47] That's the voice that we should all be speaking to us. I am really, I have not read your book, John, and I'm actually very excited to do it sounds very interesting. Now you said that this is a first installment in a multi-part series, so you already have ideas of where you're going with these next books.

[00:31:01] johnjack: [00:31:01] Oh, yeah, absolutely. Those the second the second book is probably about 95% complete and that will go into second draft faced. Yeah. And I've always seen it as being part of a trilogy. Of books. And I think there's enough to say there to fill up a trilogy of books. And and then I will, and then I will let him, I'll let him, whoever it is I suppose is me.

[00:31:24] I will let him slip off. I'll let them slip off and rest he's been awful busy, and will move on to other things but I've, there's been a real I've been blessed in writing this, and I think that's for me when I know I'm in the flow, when I feel that my efforts are to blessed, that there's joy in it.

[00:31:44]There's the satisfaction and it's not difficult. I always said that, but acting, I get paid to do what I love, how many people could see that,

[00:31:52] joliedowns: [00:31:52] isn't that such? Yep. That's such a gift.

[00:31:55] johnjack: [00:31:55] I in terms of acting, I've never done a day's work in my life,

[00:31:59] joliedowns: [00:31:59] it was one of the best things that you could possibly be able to say. It's the goal that everyone strives for,

[00:32:06] johnjack: [00:32:06] Absolutely.

[00:32:08] joliedowns: [00:32:08] Is there any, if someone isn't feeling that they are living that kind of life, is there any piece of advice that you would give someone.

[00:32:19] johnjack: [00:32:19] There's an awful lot of it's an awful lot of money is made today in and trying to teach people. And a lot of it's a lot of it's snake oil. I'm trying to teach people to follow their bliss, and I've got a lot of books and podcasts and this and that and gurus and blah, blah, blah. And by the way, I don't claim to be any of those things.

[00:32:45] Like I say that book was written for me. I'm letting you read it, I'm I, yeah. And if it helps you, that's great. I'm not setting myself up to be any kind of guru or self-help person or life coach or anything like that. I need to read my own book a lot, the days. But there's, there's an awful lot of a big industry out there.

[00:33:03]And I know, cause I've read a lot of them which is making an awful lot of money leading people along this path or of having of finding this place of joy and it doesn't exist. exist like that. Life is life. His life is ironically life. If you've ever watched a sinus rhythm heartbeat.

[00:33:28]So I'm looking at one right now, as I speak with the for anyone listening. We'r using something called Zencaster to record this. And when I speak, it records the rhythm of my voice speaking. I can see in front of me and life. Life's a bit like that. It's a bit like like a heartbeat.

[00:33:43] It's got its ups and it's got his laws. And then it's got his fallow times and end ups and laws and fallow type. And that's part of living the human life that his new thing is living in bliss and the sense that it's meant or what people understand it to mean, which is constant joy. Julie, if we all lived in constant joy, we'd all pass away from the stress of it. Who could cope with that amount of adrenaline flooding through the system from constant joy every day, we'd all be dead. Five minutes later, that's not the way human beings are designed and sought to people that are not in that place in their life I have found CS Lewis talks about, I think it's joy unbidden and the idea that.

[00:34:30] That joy is something which comes upon you, whatever you're doing, providing you open to it. I have been, I have enjoyed every professional lighten job I've ever done, but I've not always been happy in them. It's not the same thing.

[00:34:45]And I have absolutely hated some of the stuff I've had to do in between acting jobs, but I've been happy in the moment.

[00:34:54] joliedowns: [00:34:54] Oh, I love that.

[00:34:55] johnjack: [00:34:55] And so for me we talk about an, a, we talk about it being an inside job as an inside job. And my experience the joy of life, the success of life is something that comes from the inside out, not from the outside again. And that's a bit hackneyed, people talk about that a lot, but that is my experience.

[00:35:16] And the days where I am. Centered and grateful, so important to be grateful, centered, and grateful and willing and open and humble. Those tend to be the days that I experience something worthy of my joy. And that isn't always a phone call from my agent, by the way, that is always, isn't always a fabulous media interview or, watching myself on the big screen.

[00:35:51] Sometimes it's uncalled from a friend. Sometimes it's when would a load too? It's a friend saying, listen, I'm heading off to the hardware store. We call it being in this country called it hardware store, probably over there. I'm heading up to the hardware store. There's a seat in my car.

[00:36:03] Do you want to join me? Cause you'd said that you'd said that you wanted to get some tens of paint. Yes, absolutely. By the way, let's stop off and have let's stop off and have a, bit of a takeaway on the way back, it's that, and so if you aren't in a place in your life where you're thinking I want to be in that place of happiness and joy, it does exist.

[00:36:23] And it isn't. I have discovered it is not directly dependent upon the situation that I am in.

[00:36:32] joliedowns: [00:36:32] no, you're so right. You just feel hard all up. It's the perfect answer. And it's so true. It is an inside job. And just like you said, there were moments where you were doing things that you may have hated in between, but you were joyful in that moment. You brought joined.

[00:36:50] johnjack: [00:36:50] also, let me also say Julie having said all of this to you right now, I may very well come off this phone and go on the phone to a friend and complete a bit, my life situation. That's also part of being human. I'm also a hypocrite. Okay. That's why I needed to write a book to myself.

[00:37:06] joliedowns: [00:37:06] Yes, it's so perfect.

[00:37:16] johnjack: [00:37:16] and it's all key. And that's what I'm in a bit that sinus rhythm with life is meant to be. Up down, middle and everywhere in between, what I, again, going back to to 12 step and by the way, I wish 12 step programs could be available for everyone. I really do because everybody could benefit from one test to a certain extent.

[00:37:38]And what things that we talk about and 12 step programs is obliged to normal living

[00:37:44] joliedowns: [00:37:44] Tell me about that.

[00:37:46] johnjack: [00:37:46] So bridge to normal living is it's exactly what it says it is. And so a lot of people will come in and they'll see I want to be the best he can and I want to, be the best sort of sober person.

[00:37:54] And I want to do so much work and I'm going to give up my job and I'm just going to do filter me. What can I do? I will let, but I'll just make it work. And I go, hold on a minute, that's not a bridge to normal living. not living, normal living is a balance. And it's a balance of pleasant things and it's a balance of unpleasant things.

[00:38:17] And unfortunately that's part of life people die. People will betray you, people will hurt you. People will do things that, that, that will make you angry and upset. Governments will do that. Whole core, whole continents of people will do that. And it's also the kindness of a stranger in the street.

[00:38:34] It's also that letter from a friend that, that fills your heart up and it's everything else in between. And that's a normal day. It's normal life. If we like to say, if we were to live life in constant joy, our bodies are not designed for it. We'd be dead within half an hour.

[00:38:54] joliedowns: [00:38:54] that was amazing. And you know what? I think everyone probably feels a little bit more understood. Honestly, it's a very true

[00:39:05] johnjack: [00:39:05] Somebody said you'll be up. I've got I've got a dog and I know we're heading into wrap-up time, but I adopted a dog about three or four months ago about a Collie. If anyone's at a higher order, coli they'll know that they are a special type of dog. And and right now my border collies having what's called a what is it?

[00:39:22] They call it blowing the coats, they call it and it means that they lose almost an entire coat for an eight week period. Yeah. And it's all over my house. , when I first got this dog, I, I was has to stay in the kitchen and, and the only consented the living room at a certain time and has been cleaned and this, that, and the other, and somebody said to me, can you not just let them be a dog?

[00:39:44]Yeah, I'm trying to, I'm trying to make this dog look a child and I feel the same way about us, Jolie. Sometimes I think to myself, can you not just let yourself be a human.

[00:39:56] joliedowns: [00:39:56] Oh, you're you know what that makes me think of that. I think it's a Rumi quote, a talks about how you walk into a forest and you see the trees and how you admire the trees. Exactly how they are with their not so their bins. They're beautiful. Why can't we do that with looking at humans, why do we look at a human, want to change them?

[00:40:14] Why can't we look at them as the tree is beautiful, all their imperfections. Yeah. That's great. Yeah. So when you say I'm just out of curiosity, because I'm going to be honest, I don't know. What's special about a bordie collie. Is it, was it because they shed or is there something else?

[00:40:31] johnjack: [00:40:31] Very intelligent dogs. There's can't remember the name of this the intelligence scale, but it has a scale of intelligence for dogs and border collies set at the top of it, so that the Lake. The light children and they're incredibly brave. There's no pulling the wool over the eyes of a border Collie.

[00:40:46] And, but they're also really loyal. The very affectionate Maine is called and he's, I think he's sleeping as we speak. And he's about to work for his final Walker the evening after I finish up such a glamorous life lively Joli, when I'm not doing podcast interviews I'm walking my dog in the mud.

[00:41:04] joliedowns: [00:41:04] Yes.

[00:41:07] johnjack: [00:41:07] He's brought an extraordinary dimension into my life that didn't exist. And he came out to blue, he needed a home and and I got a phone call one day saying, there's dogs, there's a field sheep dog. And and he was going to just live on the farm, but unfortunately the farmer.

[00:41:21] I believe fell into financial difficulty and had to sell his farm and you can sell a working sheep dog, but you can't sell one that doesn't work. And so he needed a home and he came to me and we were like best buddies now.

[00:41:33] joliedowns: [00:41:33] Isn't it the best. Oh, I love it. I love my dog too. It's just they are a gift to life in every way.

[00:41:40] johnjack: [00:41:40] Absolutely.

[00:41:41] joliedowns: [00:41:41] So you got you. The, during this pandemic, you got a new best friend and you launched a book, which is going to turn into series. That's some exciting stuff to come out of your big pause.

[00:41:52] johnjack: [00:41:52] That is all I need to that. No, Jolie, like I say, any casting directors listening? Take note, No, it's been what I it's been what I wanted it to be, which is, I didn't want it to be a waste.

[00:42:03] joliedowns: [00:42:03] You didn't and isn't that is wonderful. I completely agree. That's how I felt too. I, it was a very unique time in not only our lives, but. In the past century really to have this happen in the world. It's again, it's, there's a lot of horrible things, but to take the moment, at least try to find something for yourself to bring out of it, I think was an important thing.

[00:42:27]So I think it's wonderful that you birthed this book and it's going to turn into other things and I can't wait to check it out. We will have a link. For for people to find your books on there in the show notes as well. So no, before we go, anything else that we didn't cover or you want to add before we sign off?

[00:42:46] johnjack: [00:42:46] I think I'll take, your lead does that anything, is there anything that you the want to cover before we do? Is there anything you'd like to talk about.

[00:42:54] joliedowns: [00:42:54] I have so enjoyed this talk. I have loved everything that you said. It just, all of the little stories have turned into something very insightful. So I am really grateful for your time. I'm curious, it. Author actor. Do you have any other talents that you're pursuing in your life out of curiosity

[00:43:13] johnjack: [00:43:13] I used to be a photographer. And that's, yeah, I think that's something, I think that's something that I will I'll take up again at some point. Any other talents though? I don't know.

[00:43:21] joliedowns: [00:43:21] Left that off. Obviously opera singer.

[00:43:24] johnjack: [00:43:24] Oh, yeah. I never really performed as an opera singer. I ended up going into the much sort of much different world of musical theater, but yes, singing I've recorded. I've done all that kind of stuff. So I don't know what I mean. That's been, I see, I sometimes feel like I've not had the or the series of lovely jobs, because it's been so diverse and it's been so unusual and eclectic.

[00:43:43] And I like it that way. I've. I'm a bit, I'm a bit I guess I'm a bit eccentric. And so I, any career that I've had should probably follow that pattern as well, because that's what suits me.

[00:43:54] joliedowns: [00:43:54] I call it being a Renaissance, man. That's my goal personally in life. I want to be a Renaissance woman. I want to have my hands in lots of different things that excite me

[00:44:03] johnjack: [00:44:03] I remember that party years and years ago, an actor came up to me and he said you said, you sing, don't you? I said, yeah. I said, you act as well, don't you? I said, yeah. I said, do you know something? I said you said one day you're going to have to choose between those two. And and I said, why?

[00:44:21] joliedowns: [00:44:21] Yeah.

[00:44:22] johnjack: [00:44:22] didn't have an answer. And that's, that's one of, one of my favorite statements or questions or retorts, and I use it an awful lot and I try not to be aggressive with it, but I'm not sure I always succeed. But I do love that. What, why? Because it does elicit an awful lot of cognitive dissonance in people. They make these very secure statements and this is the way it must be.

[00:44:50] And that's the way it must be. And I go, why? And they go, and so it's a great word. And I would advise anyone listening if there's anything to take away from this that I've said at all tonight, take away the what, why use it more liberally?

[00:45:04] joliedowns: [00:45:04] I love it. And it makes, like you said, it makes people stop and think, and question, is this something I really believe? Or is this something I was just told and I've been regurgitating it ever since. Let's reject those bullshit roles. All right. Thank you, John. This was wonderful. I really appreciate your time.

[00:45:25] johnjack: [00:45:25] Good. Listen, I appreciate yours as well. And it's been a real honor and privilege for me to come on and chat with human. And so just really just chewed the fat tonight. Haven't we? And it's been, there's been a kind of feel it. I think I feel that we've been set up sitting in a cafe with a coffee and that's always the, that's always the nicest way for these kinds of interviews to be so thank you very much for a lovely experience.

[00:45:44] joliedowns: [00:45:44] I agree. Thank you.

I loved my talk with John Jack, he was inspiring on so many levels. I love that during his great pause he looked for a way to help other people, and in doing so, he found a way to help himself – as seems to be a universal rule with life.

Being creative is a gift to the soul, a soothing process that brings satisfaction and focus. Hitting that creative zone allows a mental escape for a short time and I’m sure has been an effective coping mechanism for many people out there. I am truly looking forward to the coming Renaissance. If you’re looking for ways to cope, find yourself a creative focus. What endeavors appeal to you, there are so many ways to be creative, through writing, singing, musical instruments, woodworking, metal work, craft work, art, digital work, community events – we have so many ways to create and birth new things into this world. What do you have inside of you waiting to be brought forth? I want us all to find those creative outlets that will bring joy to the soul in times of need.

I appreciate how open and honest John was and his stories can bring comfort to so many. Sharing about going through losing his mom, we have been through a hellish year and have lost countless moms, dads, grandparents and loved ones. There is so much grief. For anyone out there grieving, I am so sorry.

I hope you have found your people to give you support and surround you with love. I know that even if you have that love, it doesn’t make it easy. I also know that sometimes you can have that love and still not know how exactly to be around it. We all grieve differently. And that’s ok. What’s important is to go through it, work through it, avoiding the feelings or shutting them down through drugs/drinking/over activity will only prolong the problem. The only way out is through.

Do your best to let other people help you through, even if you are someone who has a hard time asking for help, this is the time to do. Start practicing and ask for that help.

Grief is insidious and needs to be balanced with gratitude – as much as you can, stop and focus in on what you can feel grateful for, even if it’s the smallest of things, bring that grateful feeling into that moment and let it infuse you, give your grief those needed zaps of gratitude

Find work that nourishes your soul, take a class or find a creative outlet to give your soul needed breaks.

I know there is a lot of fear after losing a loved one, new fears start to pop up that you didn’t have before, if this is happening for you, recognize it as a natural response and proactively try to work with your fear – notice it when it arrives, don’t judge it, know it’s normal and then replace that picture with a positive one, continuously work on visualizing best outcome scenarios – what if everything went exactly right? Picture that. this is like medicine for your grieving brain. While visualizing, breathe deeply and when you exhale, breathe out the fear.

Above all, please, be kind to yourself.

I know that the questions that come after the death of a loved one can feel endless. I know that the recriminations that come can be soul crushing. None of them are helpful. You must learn how to let go. You must learn how to forgive – both yourself and others.

The past cannot be changed, only the future can be altered. Use this life feedback as motivation to move forward and learn more about the people you are with now, be mindful in the relationships you have and write your own story while you still have the time.

John also talked about having the right thinking- paying attention to his thought process, proactivity analyzing and amending his thoughts. This is so vital. We should absolutely question our thought process. Our brains naturally go negative, it’s a biological response to our caveman days where it behooved us to believe everything was going to kill us, it made sense for our brains to go negative but that is no longer the case. Negative thinking is no longer saving our lives, it’s hurting us. Positive thinking can absolutely transform your life. It’s a practice, and one that needs consistent daily practice. When your mind goes negative, replace it with the opposite, the most positive, understanding voice you can bring forth. Like the one that came to John when he was writing his book – warm, reassuring and kind.

That is the voice to be listening to.

Take a note from John and look back at your life kindly, look at your younger self, what advice would you give yourself? What kind of kindness did you need to hear at that time?

You can train your brain to start responding positively but it takes concentrated awareness. Work on it every day and watch your world fill in with color in so many more ways.

I loved Johns key to continued success – Effort –

Effort. True Story.

Effort is King

Without effort there is nothing

As John mentioned, trace all your strokes of luck, they can be traced back to something you’ve done year ago – your effort pays off in ways you can’t even imagine but without effort there is stalling and stagnation – you have to put in the energy to keep the movement in life.

John also shared the key to starting his day successfully; making his bed. This is a common life hack that successful people adopt into their lives, do something immediately in the morning that makes you feel as If you accomplished something successfully – something small that can be done every day, like making your bed, to give you that accomplished feeling. It starts your mindset off on the right track, tricking your brain into the right direction. A mind in success mode will stay in success mode as you move through your day.

I am so grateful that John talked about his AA experience and breaking anonymity, AA saved his life, I know countless others it has saved, it’s a program that works and I know so many people are struggling right now. if anyone listening is struggling I truly hope you’ll reach out for help. It’s so easy to fall into addiction and so much harder to get yourself out. Please, be kind to yourself, allow yourself help and reach out.

I appreciated the antidote John shared about someone telling him he would have to choose between acting and singing and he simply responded with, Why?

I love that he had the insight and intelligence to ask, Why? Rather than blindly accepting a rule handed down by above. Why is the question to be asking. It is curious and inquisitive and it opens the door to understanding. Why helps you decipher, is this something I really believe or is it something I was told and have since accepted?

Remember to ask Why.

There was so much more goodness in this talk, but I’ll leave you with this final thought from John Jack:

The joy that comes upon you, regardless of what you are doing, you are open to it at any time. That joy is an inside job, when you are centered, grateful, willing, open and humble, those are the days full of experiences worthy of joy. This is not dependent on the situation you are in, this is dependent on the mindset you embody. You can be joyful in any moment. and this is my wish for us all, to do the inside work and find that centered place where we can find the joy in whatever we do.

Until next time.

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