Turning 40 and Learning to Respect Yourself

Anthony Gonzalez spent several years in his early teens taking care of three younger siblings and a younger cousin after his mom and aunt started using drugs. He and the younger kids ultimately moved in with their grandmother where he first encountered what it meant to be raised by a village of aunts, uncles and extended family. He followed some older relatives into the business of selling drugs, which ultimately led him to getting arrested and serving time in prison. It was there that he began to write, reliving and telling stories from his life. Much of that writing turned into his book, From Prison to Peace, The PLUSH Lyfe.

Guest Bio

Anthony Jae Gonzalez (aka Papi Jae) is Taking Steps Towards Peace Love Unity Success Happiness (PLUSH). My Goal is just to bring back those communities where people are capable to: Cultivate positive relationships, Practice self-care, Embrace forgiveness, Help others, Set realistic and meaningful goals, Practice gratitude, Embrace positivity & love their neighbor. Sounds easier said than done yet that’s the goal & we aren’t stopping till we there…

Turning 40 and Learning to Respect Yourself

At 13, Anthony Gonzalez was forced into the role of provider for his younger siblings and cousin after his mom and aunt started using drugs. Neighbors helped as much as they could but Anthony found it unbearable to keep food on the table for the younger kids. He made it work for several years and, when he hit his breaking point, a neighbor called an aunt for help. Shortly after, he and his siblings and cousin moved in with his grandmother. 

It took some time, but Anthony learned to trust that someone would be there if something happened. He says that, as a young man, he didn’t believe in much and he wouldn’t depend on anybody.

Anthony had never seen how a village comes together to raise children until he moved in with his grandmother and the Spanish side of his family. He may have lived with his grandmother, but all his aunts and uncles, and even the wider community, helped raise him and his siblings. 

His childhood left a mark, though, and he made some bad decisions as a young man. He was tired of working all the time and still being broke. He figured he wasn’t going to use drugs, but he knew he could make good money by selling them. Some family members were already involved “on the streets” and they vouched for him and showed him the ropes. 

He moved to upstate New York, which was a lucrative spot for someone in his business. But then things shifted. He started a small business as a contractor working with someone who owned multiple properties. He was in his first healthy romantic relationship. He had gotten back in touch with his son, who was six at the time. He stopped selling drugs and focused on his new situation. He was feeling good. Then he got arrested for conspiracy to distribute 5 kilos of crack cocaine and served five years in prison. 

When he went to prison, initially Anthony was angry – really angry. But at some point he started writing, reliving and telling stories from his life. At first he thought it was a diary for his son – his story in his own words. But it became more; he couldn’t stop writing. He started feeling like he was taking weight off his shoulders, like he was putting down his burdens. 

Every time he filled up a notepad, he’d send it home to his grandmother for safe keeping. Some of his writing he showed to his fellow inmates, who were encouraging. They eventually turned into a book. Then a second book. And two more are in the works. 

Much of what he shared in his book, From Prison to Peace, The PLUSH Lyfe, is relevant for anyone looking to achieve peace in their life and in their mind. In this episode, we discuss his path from being a “bad guy” to being a “good guy” and what he’s learned along the way.


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Stephanie: Hey Anthony, thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today.

Anthony: You're welcome. Thank you for inviting me.

Stephanie: It's my pleasure. You and I met through one of my former guests, Mr. Wize El Jefe, who your uncle, but is several years younger than you.

Anthony: Yes.

Stephanie: Big families, man. They get confusing

Anthony: Yeah, they do . They do. He's my little brother though. We like to let people know that there's nothing wrong with him introducing me as his nephew.

Stephanie: I got the sense it was kind of his like shorthand for you. It made you seem special. Like he always says, "Oh, this is my nephew, but he says it with a glint in his eye, but you guys very clearly are Yeah. That was clear, meeting you guys together. So we met at Pod Fest in the spring andI was chatting with Wize and he introduced us and I was talking a little bit about my podcast and how I talk about transitions and you said, "Oh, have I got a transition." The sort of headline is you said to me, "I went from being a bad guy to a good guy," and I'm so interested to dig into that. So let's back all the way up and tell me a little bit about your childhood and kind of what set you up to be the young adult that you were.

Anthony: I'm the oldest of all my siblings, but at that time I think there was only 1, 2, 3, maybe four, and a cousin and we lived in a nice little apartment and at some point my mother started using drugs. And not only did she use drugs, my aunt would use drugs, so it was two brothers, two sisters and a cousin. And the neighborhood kind of knew, but it was them days when the neighbors actually, you could go knock on somebody's door for bread or something. So the neighbors helped me sustain as far as I could as a child, like just unbearable to try to like keep food on the table. And the house was more of a recovery room for the females, the street walkers. So they was always there going to school, after school, it was just a lot to deal with. At some point I couldn't take it no more or something. And I wound up going to a neighbor, and my best friend's mother, she came over and helped me find my mother's phone book or something. And we wound up calling Wize's moms and my aunt. And then from there, moving in with them, it was just seeing things differently. It was almost like a start over almost on the way you should look at things and how you should behave in the streets, and just morals. There wasn't as much morals and values during my mother's situation.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony: I didn't believe in much. I didn't trust in much. I didn't care for much. I was really like, if I can't do it, then I can't depend on nobody.

Stephanie: a lot for a kid to handle.

Anthony: And then going over to Wize's and my uncle and them side, now I could believe in people. I could trust in somebody to be there if I fall. It was things that if I didn't move in with them, would've just kept me on a road where it was just like me against the world. Like that used to be my saying, like "F the world, before the world f you," and I used to live by that. Like I used to literally, "All right, I can't trust you. No matter how much you smile in my face, once I turn away and I go to sleep, if y'all not there, then I can't trust you."

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: And that that led to a lot of bad decisions,

Stephanie: Sure.

Anthony: But I always stood on I'm not blaming nobody for my situation. It the cards I was dealt and I gotta figure out how to deal with them and last long in this game we're playing. This game of life, you just gotta play your cards and never give up.

Stephanie: Yeah. Do you remember how old you were when your mom came under the influence of drugs?

Anthony: I might have been, probably like 13

Stephanie: All right. And you said that you moved in with your grandmother when you were 18, so that was five years of you...

Anthony: of hell.

Stephanie: What's that?

Anthony: if it wasn't, it felt like that

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But of you having been deputized as an adult to take care of the little kids,

Anthony: But I was deputized as an adult to take care of my siblings from a younger age. Like I've been cleaning and cleaning behind them and changing diapers. Sometimes I think about it and I'd be laughing at the younger ladies who talk to me sometimes that like, I don't know how to take care of children. I just laugh. I'm like, if they knew that I've been changing diapers and raising kids since I was like 12

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. And some of that though is just, it was the seventies or the early eighties. Right. And how we were sort of brought up then, you know, everybody pitched in and, I remember helping out with my brothers and my little cousins and stuff. So, you know, there's a difference between being a helper in the household and being deputized as an adult, and if you didn't do something, there was no food to be eaten. So that's a different weight to carry for a young teenage boy. That's a lot. In addition to watching your mom, you know, go through this transition and these things that I'm sure you didn't want to see. So. So then you movedin with your grandmother, and you moved in there when you were about 18. Tell me what life looked like after that. What did your twenties look like?

Anthony: Twenties was fun. The twenties was, it was me finding myself now. Now living on both sides of what I consider good and bad,

Stephanie: Okay.

Anthony: like always people that go through worse. But for my situation, that bad situation and how I was viewing people and how my mind was shaping,

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: To be able to reshape it to another, more positive outlook, more united, more accepting help. Even I struggle with asking for help to this day

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: but I've learned to be able to ask for it.

Stephanie: Mm.

Anthony: and that wouldn't have happened if I didn't move in with the Spanish side.

Stephanie: Yeah. So your grandmother is the Spanish side of your family and your mom's side is the black side of your family. Is that right?

Anthony: Yes.

Stephanie: Okay. So you moved in with your Spanish side and you said your grandmother started teaching you things, or your grandmother and the wider family started teaching things, teaching you things like morals. Tell me a little bit about that.

Anthony: Because it was a village. I never seen a village before. So all the aunts talked, this is back in the days when we actually had more structure as a family. Compared to how it is now,

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: the neighbor could tell you to shut up or go inside and if disrespect the whole block knew that you was disrespectful one time.

Stephanie: Yep. Any adult was a parent back

Anthony: yeah. So that itself speaks in volumes.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: Cuz now you could witness a village. Like, you know, my grandmother was older, she just had the space

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: and all the aunts and uncles raised us and helped her raise us. So that was an experience that I believe all kids should experience, but with the way things is, nobody wants nobody to tell their children nothing.

Stephanie: Right.

Anthony: But I think that was the most blessing is just being able to accept people checking me and letting me know when I'm wrong and me being respectful and even as I don't want to hear it, I ain't going to tell you to mind your business, cuz I wasn't raised that way.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: So those little key things helped, believe it or not, in my journey when I crossed over to street life. There's certain things that imprinted in you that you could try to ignore but at some point when you have to sit down with yourself, you be like, wow, I knew that and I still, I can't be mad. And that's what I think that helped me the most. It's just understanding that everybody's going through something. I can't blame nobody for what I'm going through cuz as smart as I say I am, I still made certain choices.

Stephanie: Right.

Anthony: And once you can accept your choices, then Now there's hope for you to grow.

Stephanie: Yeah. So you said something which is sort of a key to the story here. You said something about you transitioned to the streets, and I want to hear about how you transitioned to what you called a bad guy.

Anthony: It was the early nineties. Reagan, you know, he allowed a lot of drugs to enter this country,

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: And, uh, that world was just from what I went through as a child, some of that I didn't shake right away. So if my mother didn't care, then I figured, Hey, I'm not gonna use, but I'm tired of being broke. I feel like I've been working all my life to get nothing, just taking care of kids. I was like, I need to live for me. With understanding of like, there was codes that we lived around that time. So there was understanding that this is where I was headed and then certain family members just made sure that alright, if you're gonna embark in this road, let me give you some, some guidance or give you some advice so that when you, uh, when something like this presents itself, at least you ain't go out there unprepared.

Stephanie: And were those family members, were they a part of the drug trade or were they just knowledgeable about kind of what happened in the neighborhood?

Anthony: They participated in that at that time.

Stephanie: Okay.

Anthony: So it was, there was your OGs. It's like the OG of the be like, "Yo, yo, he's good in this area. He's with us." It was really, like that mob stuff is the same thing, back then everybody tried to be a mobster. Everybody lived by some kind of morals and respect. It was even safer for old people to walk on the stores and stuff back then, like as ironic as that sounds . I entered it. Situations happened. I never told and ran back to nobody in my family tell 'em that I was going through nothing, even though I know I could have and maybe things would've turned out or whatever. But for some reason I just always wanted to stand on my own. And I think that goes back to when I was younger with my mother, going through that experience and believing in I gotta do it myself.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: So even though I could have leaned on the family side like that, I didn't, I just left and went upstate New York and just said, I'll figure it out as I go.

Stephanie: What do you mean you went upstate?

Anthony: Upstate New York, cuz I lived in New York City and upstate New York I had visited and it was lucrative to go out there if you was gonna be a street person. Like it was lucrative and the city is more dangerous cuz it's just that much crowded, that much greed, that much more. So up here I came in peace. I was a party person. I decided to stay on that track. Like I'm gonna be in the streets, but I'm not in the streets to be mean. I'm in the streets so I could go party later and just have fun and I was that. Hustle. Party. So I never really saved much money.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: Because I was just partying, like, I didn't care. And then the Spanish side, that unity. So the people that I teamed up with to go out, I just was blinded by the fact that I believe so much that we could do it together. That the streets let you know that together is hard.

Stephanie: Hmm.

Anthony: And that was my biggest lesson, was just like, together is hard.And I decided to just like isolate myself, sit down and just think like, this can't be life. Like this ain't what I was born to do. This wasn't the way the story was supposed to end.

Stephanie: At what point did you sort of, wake up and look around and go, this isn't how the story is supposed to go. Where were you at that point? Do you remember?

Anthony: I had started a company, I was a painter, and I wanted to work for myself. So there was a point in time where I didn't have to do anything really. I could just focus on a situation. So I had a lady friend. I had just got back into my oldest son's life. Between both of them it just felt right, like the energy was just right then. So I stopped being in the street, wound up finding a crib. The landlord had a whole bunch of properties and when he found out I was a contractor, he was like, "Yo, every time somebody moves, you could go knock it out. I'll pay I was like, "All right, cool." Now in my head, I'm retiring or leaving the game, and I got a situation, a lady friend that was at that point, like my partner. And then my son, where I was able to just start moving him into my house. He was staying over. Stars just seemed to align.

Stephanie: like you were gonna get out

Anthony: Like that was it. I stopped hanging with people. It was me and her all the plans, everything, was just me and her. And that's when I got arrested. When I'm absolutely not, there's nothing they could say, do anything to me, like I was completely done. But they had enough conversations to interpret it how they wanted to. And when you're going against the feds is not even, it's not even what I did. It's there's enough people that is not gonna end out pretty. You're still gonna go to jail.

Stephanie: So what were you arrested for?

Anthony: Conspiracy to distribute five kilos of cocaine or 50, something like that. I can't remember. Like I erased that from my memory. I remember certain things, but like the actual stuff, it was like five kilos. Conspiracy to distribute, five kilos of crack cocaine.

Stephanie: And when you were arrested, were you in possession of that?

Anthony: Nobody was in possession.

Stephanie: Okay.

Anthony: It was just phone calls. They found somebody to say, that word means this and no matter who said it, that's what you was talking about. So it's like a game of y'all gotta figure it out amongst each other cuz all we gonna do is just grab 10 random people that we know know each other and just say y'all in cahoots together. And that's how it is now. Like it's not the conspiracy like John Gotti or none of that. They watered it down to just talk to each other and we'll grab the head people who talk to each other and then they're friends and then we just let all of y'all figure it out when we lock y'all all up.

Stephanie: Wow.

Anthony: So it was that. It was more just cuz I had a taste of what I think at that point, that was the first time I had a taste of uh, what I would say is a healthy relationship, and then it gets snatched away. Like, like soon as I got a little taste, not even past six months,

Stephanie: Wow.

Anthony: It was just all right. And now I got a young lady here that's hearing I gotta go to jail for like, up to 20 years with this big giant conspiracy and I just, that hurted the most. And then my son, like I finally was there. Like I always knew I was a good father. I always knew I could be a father. I always knew I could take care of him, even without his mother. Being able to not have to deal with his mother, but still ingratiate him to my world and him motivating me to continue with the landlord and motivating me with this young lady. And it seemed like everybody was there just like, just to gimme a taste.

Stephanie: How old was your son at the time?

Anthony: I wanna say he was six,

Stephanie: Okay.

Anthony: maybe six. Yeah,

Stephanie: Old enough to be a lot of fun to be around.

Anthony: Yeah, it was just good. Situation with me and her,

I never felt that feeling like somebody that understood me for who I was. Somebody I was understood for who they was.

That was probably the hardest part was that, and not being able to continue what I was showing my son cuz he was like that happy to be with your dad, happy to be with your son, father bond that I was trying to build and then prison destroyed that.

Stephanie: So you were 33 when you got arrested and you got sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Anthony: No, that was the max

Stephanie: Oh, that was the max. Okay.

Anthony: for the whole entire conspiracy. So it was five years, five kilos there was 31 of us or 36 of us in this conspiracy. By the time I got sentenced, it was only two other people that wasn't sentenced yet. Like everybody copped out. So it was as everybody took a plea, it was just like, ah, yeah, you better get ready for whatever number they gonna come at you the next time cause you ain't fighting it. Me there was like 10, ended up being 72 months and then I did like 60 months, five

Stephanie: Yeah. You did five years. Yeah. That's sort of the end of your phase as a bad guy,

Anthony: Yeah, cause when I say bad guy,

Stephanie: I know

Anthony: I wasn't the evil bad guy. I was just a bad guy because I was coldhearted, I did not attach to nobody, I didn't know how to really articulate. So it came across as just some careless, all about his self type person. And so I just, everybody says that when I'm like, bad guy. You wasn't a bad guy. I was like, all right, but this must be levels to bad guys. Cuz there was people that did not like me because of who I was and how I talked and my attitude. So yeah, I was kind of like the bad guy. I wasn't like everybody was, Hey, how you doing?

Stephanie: yeah. I was just gonna say that there's definitely levels of bad guy. You weren't the worst guy.

Anthony: I wasn't, definitely not the worst, I have morals and values, so I, I just, you can't mix it with the street. That's the hardest thing is trying to maintain a lot of your morals and values while you in the street.

Stephanie: Okay.

Anthony: That's where people go wrong. Cause you can't.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. It's bigger than that.

Anthony: it's way bigger than that.

Stephanie: Yeah. So then you go to prison and you're forced really to sit with yourself. I know the end of the story because I've read your book. But tell me how you go from being a guy who you know was on the street and then,had this taste of what life really could look like and then everything was snatched away and now you're by yourself and you got a lot of time to think.

Anthony: It was, see, I couldn't, I like, honestly, I turned myself in.

Stephanie: You did

Anthony: Yeah, they didn't even know where. That's what I'm saying. I was out.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: They had no, like, the only thing they had was that conversation. They didn't know where I live. They didn't, I was at work when I got a call from a friend like, yo, you know the police looking for you? Where you at? And I was like, I'm at work. And he was like, what're you doing at work? I'm like, dude, this is what I do. I don't know why they came to your house. They ain't come to my house. But, so when I got in there, it was just so much like to have a taste of a nice moment. That moment was nice. Like my son, I had plans for my sister. I had my sister move up here she was going to U Albany. So I had it situated so that I'm up there prepare her.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: and my grandmother, I was going to visit her in Puerto Rico. It was a big family thing we was gonna do. It was so much that was going on that was just right.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: So when I woke up and there was just bars and people yelling and stuff like that, I was bitter. Like I was very upset with myself, disappointed, embarrassed. I felt like if I just handed them the key to just lock me up. Even though I know the conspiracy and all the nuances to that, me even being in a situation. When I read the calls that they actually had, I was just like, I didn't even call this dude, man. If he wouldn't have called me, I would've never even spoke to him about this. We see each other every day. I didn't have to call you to tell you anything like these texts and stuff that you was doing. Just so now I'm angry like, yo, dude, he set me up. Like everything is going through my mind. Mind you there's so many of us that we all locked up with each other at some point. Me and the guy that actually connected me, wasn't never locked up together. Everybody else I was locked up with just, this one guy. So it was just mad things going through my head. Mad like evil thoughts. And so now it comes to a point where do I embark and embrace the culture of prison or do I figure something out, yo, this ain't right , this is not right. I don't feel right, man. I had it right. I just lost right. I probably will never get r ight again. So that's how I looked at it. And then just the disappointment and just having like my family members having to know that at 33 I'm back in here. That was more like, it was just so much. All the good stuff that I was sharing with them,and this caught up to me later. So it was like, dang, I'm, I'm telling you I wasn't doing nothing. You lying.

Stephanie: right.

Anthony: And now I gotta live with that and then I don't know where it came from, but I just started writing. I just got pen and papers. I was writing, I was just reliving accounts in my life, like certain things in my life. And the funny thing is that was really like a diary to my son. I felt like I needed him to understand that this is not what the people are gonna tell you. The people are gonna tell you that I just tried again, I was in it, I'll lie, he was never gonna quit. Don't believe nothing he say. So I figured if I write down everything to him in the hopes that when he read it, he'll get a better understanding. Cuz there was a point where I didn't even think he was getting my letters.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: I'm writing letters every week, hoping that he get it. And I'm starting to realize that I don't think he's really getting these letters, so how can I get my truth to him? So I was just gonna write it, mail it to my grandmother, have them mail it to him when he was a certain age where he could understand. But it just became, I couldn't stop writing. It's like I had so much, like after I realized I could just do this and it just took so much off me where I could walk like free or less weight on my shoulders just to get it off. Now, when you think about all the therapy and stuff, it was like I kind of forced myself to relive it, answer the hard questions, think of the hard questions, put myself in other people's shoes, wonder why they look at me the way I did. How did, what did I do to make them look at me as somebody that they won't believe that I wasn't doing nothing at this time. I just got arrested for some stuff, but I had quit, so it was just writing. I just couldn't stop writing. That was one thing I was shocked at. Like every time the cell door closed, I just wrote. I used to write myself to sleep, my hands was tight. Like I said, Isomething told me, you got potential. You believe in yourself. Now you need to believe in yourself outside of the drug world, outside of the street life. I was raised by strong men I had a military uncle, gay uncle back in the days that he, his imprint on me, I think is one of the biggest, cuz he didn't allow me to make excuses. He didn't allow me to have to accept all of the history. Like the back when we was going to school, you had Black history month, there was always some type of play and everybody's bouncing around and we're half naked. I had like the real Black history teacher, like she was down south Black. And, so to her no, wasn't an option, you going to participate in this. And I was like, no, I'm not. Yeah. You going, I'm gonna fail you. And I went home to my uncle and I'm sad. He's like, what's up? I'm like, I gotta bounce around. I don't want to do that. Nobody jumping around, no African music. I don't know nothing about this. It's not what I wanna do. Don't feel right for me. And he went up to school and he was one of them gay. Couldn't miss it. So when he go to school with me now, I'm like, ah, this is going to be like, I got a gay uncle, I'm in school, they gonna get on me when I get back. I swear he set them straight in such a manner, military guy. So he got his own views on world and stuff and he set 'em straight in a way that I never like learned. Like you could stand up for your own rights. Like I didn't know, never thought you could question anybody without it always being you wrong. But he was like, no. Okay. You don't know what parents tell they kids raise how they raised they kids. You ain't, no, he don't have to. And that don't have nothing to do with his grades. Like, you gonna say he's gonna fail because he ain't want to dance around no matter if he's doing good. That was like something that even helped me when I was writing. It's just to be honest with yourself. Don't write down the parts that make me look good, but just write down the parts of everything. Like answer some things like what he would say to me. I even though I know he would've beat my butt back then it was okay, but as a man, if I could sit down with him, rest in peace, what would he say to me? Like, how proud are he be with me dealing with everything and where I'm at. And that's how that I felt that way about my grandmother. My aunts. Like that right there, that little six months of going to visit my family with my son and my girl and everybody's in. They just felt good. And that was what I got from 'em when I was little was that village.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: and that's why my hashtag is "We are the village for life" cuzit don't matter family or not, but you have to have a village mentality if you want your kids to get far in life with the way everything is going.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: And that was back then, I wrote it

Stephanie: right.

Anthony: you know, so it was, cause I wrote that in 2007. It didn't get released until 2021.

Stephanie: Oh, is it that recent? didn't realize

Anthony: My first book was more player life, like the sexual life of a street person that thought very highly of itself. Like it was just a book that just to like, cuz 50 Shades of Gray, came out, I was like, man, I got better stories than this. So, but I had these manuscripts cuz even in prison when I wrote, cause I wrote all of them in prison,

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: but it was just, all right, cool. I address behaviors, morals, I touched on all that. Let me relive was it worth being free? Uh, single, single, sexy and free, however they want to title it. I wanted to revisit that aspect of my life why I couldn't never be in a relationship for a long time. I've never been in a relationship for a long period of time. I now I got visiting the childhood, and if I was self-diagnosing myself, I would say my relationship issue stemmed from watching women walk the streets

as a young child and everything for them was about money and getting high. But moving forward now I'm looking at women with why am I get attached to you? At some point, you're gonna go, wanna party or whatever. Like, I'm already sad. Now I realize that even when I worked on the book with the author, cuz she was asking questions and then I had therapy, a counselor. So they asked questions that made me revisit what I wrote in the book and even dig deeper, like I'm always revisiting because now that other people have read the book or other people have got a glimpse of what I was trying to say, the questions is different. So now every time I do an interview, your questions'll have me sit back and later on this week or this weekend, I'll be like, that was a good question and now I'm thinking about that. Anytime you could just accept responsibility, then everything looks a little different.

The therapist is for that because you're not accepting responsibility. So now that therapist has to point out, phrase 'em in questions for you to accept some type of responsibility. Your emotions tied to this , why is your emotions tied to this? Why not your emotions tied to what you got going on? You got it tied to too many things. You can't be in the street, but like not street life and you can't be in a relationship but partying. So much that I learned and I still learn from just that book.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: Because I really can't write a book if it ain't got my life in it. I can't make a character. I could change names, but I can't think of what character one gonna say to character two. No, this all really is me just reliving my life to see where I went wrong both books. And I still got a part two to the first one. And then I got another one where I just wrote a book where it was more like I got all the letters

Stephanie: Oh, you do?

Anthony: of a relationship that was blossomed while I was in prison with somebody I never met before to where when I was released I wound up moving in with that person. But, the funny part about it is I was completely honest and this person wasn't.

Stephanie: Oh, for crying out loud.

Anthony: What I had asked and shared of what I want in a woman in a letter is easy to say. It was like vice versa. It's like I was trying to con her, but I wasn't. I didn't need nobody cause I'm not a relationship person. So once I go to jail, I'm not gonna trust you not to. It all goes back to that. No matter what. Once I go to jail, I'm not expecting you to ride with me for five years and or be faithful. Whether you want to or not, that's on you, but I'm never not gonna be that. And that's whether it is unfair to the person or not my life and everything that I've been through, there's certain things that I still guard that I may relinquish at some time, but at that time it's like I'm in prison. I'm not gonna be here calling and you don't answer. Then I go crazy in here.

Stephanie: Right,

Anthony: I'm sorry. I love you, but this ends now, like, if you stay and, you come visit, I appreciate it. I'm not asking no questions. What are you doing? I don't want none of that. Don't lie to me and tell me, oh, I'm just... nothing. I'm not believing it.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: So many times that I have to sit back with myself and look at things like that and then connect it to how I viewed women when I was younger, how my moms and my aunt kind of like shaped the way I looked at women in a totality because my house was the place that all their girlfriends, street walkers, came to sleep. Nasty. All they Johns is just dropping, like my addresswas the the drop off. So that made it even more dangerous. You get some guy that might want to come in there and do some crazy thing and I got siblings. So I just wasn't a woman person at that time, I didn't understand that part. Like I'm learning to this day on how to communicate better just so that I'm not getting blamed for, I didn't articulate correctly. So now I try to articulate and I think when it's meant to happen again, then it'll happen, Until then there's a village that needs to be built

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: and the world is getting crazy. Like back in the days it was beautiful, you could walk up the street and you open the door for the lady. No, you ain't gonna snatch your purses. Like you not gonna do it on this block. Not community like there's no purse snatching in this neighborhood. And that's me and Wize. We just like to be around good people, like care who you are, where you from, none of that, just good people that we know. We gonna protect each other. We ain't gonna let nobody starve. If I'm eating, then you eating. And people need to be able to not feel bad when they can't eat. And be able to say, yo, can I eat with you. Know what I'm saying? And people shouldn't hold me feeding you over your head. Like, there's so many things wrong these days that me and Wize just tired. And we just like, all right, you know what? I'd rather spend my time making it good for our nephews and our sons and our kids. Like, I ain't thinking about now, now, now I'm thinking about

Stephanie: the future

Anthony: giving my son something, a net worth, uh, ownership, land. Like something, something to break the cycle of all of us growing up and our parents just wasn't the wisest, uh, at that time

Stephanie: I was just gonna say that, yeah. the whole concept of breaking the generational curses and leaving things better than you found them and leaving the next generation

better situation than you got.

Anthony: I know how hard it is, so why wouldn't I make sure at least my son has savings. Something. A little push towards whatever he want to do. I gotta be there for that. Our village helps. When I go through something, I reach out to Wize, there's people in the village understand. They helped. I'm back cuz the situation I went through, like starting a business by yourself is t ough.

And we got Real Wize Productions and I'm over here with a property maintenance business in my own town. I'm over there installing and painting and I'm basically took all the jobs that everybody decided and they don't want, they say, all I could do all this, I'll save you from having to call five different people. You just call me. And that, that's a struggle within itself. Cause we both, we were spread thin companies. We ain't rich, we live in paycheck to paycheck and flipping, doing this all, but we are doing this together as a village. Podcast village is where I got more appreciation from because you couldn't tell the world in Orlando that we didn't really know each other or that we didn't never hang out. You would you not know that all of us only talk to each other via this.

Stephanie: Right, right.

Anthony: So, going to the Podfest and seeing that unity and seeing that, no judgment or nothing, it's just people, I mean, you're gonna have your people that are hot, you know, little snobby. But I respect it. Like, I I wasn't here for you anyway. I was here for Podfest, so not even mad at the people. But at the end of the day, by the time it gets to the, where we get ready to leave, now everybody saying hi and everybody, it took a minute. It takes a weekend. But it's just beautiful to just see that. So that pushes me and Wize more towards just we could create a village.

Stephanie: Right.

Anthony: It don't have to be the way people think it is. Like we ain't all gotta be stuck we ain't trying to recreate the urban hood. Gotta think outside of that, which means acquire some land, acquire property move away from all the noise.

Stephanie: Yeah. I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with someone, actually, he's from Brooklyn as well, and it was funny, he said, as part of his coaching business, he had made these coloring books and, we were talking about the coloring books and he said, you know, you could color outside the lines. And of course, I'm a recovering perfectionist, so I was like, what do you mean I can color outside the lines? I thought that was against the rules. And he like, nearly blew his top. He was like, you make the rules, and that's just what you're talking about. You're saying, there's a whole situation that we used to live in. There's a whole paradigm that we were familiar with, but we don't have to play that game. We can make up our own game and play the way we wanna play and leave our families the way we wanna leave them, rather than just following blindly in those steps.

Anthony: It is because we know where the world is at right now with social media and everything, the bullying. So if everybody's caught like that, if I stay here, then I gotta play that game.

Stephanie: Right.

Anthony: If we can acquire land and everybody acquire piece somewhere and help each other acquire land. So no matter where we go to do a podcast, we on our village land,

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: wherever, whatever state you at, whatever state everybody's at, there a village where we should acquire some land. The building of it yeah, that's the fine print.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: Me and Wize, our goal this year is to acquire something by the end of the year.

Stephanie: Nice.

Anthony: Together, we'll reach out to a few people. But where I keep him balanced at is it never was about the numbers when I started podcasting, it was always about being able to get this off my chest. So I never was podcasting to be the friendliest or say anything like, I'm still working on me.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: So you don't gotta like me, I'm not chasing numbers. That's why I didn't do interviews at first. I used to just talk to people that I could talk to. I could speak freely to people like Wize because he understands me, even if I say it wrong. And it may sound audioly, like I'm saying some crazy, but Wize could always bring me back and clarify. But my thing was I'm still bitter. I still got a lot of things that I'm working on. There's a lot of demons that everybody gotta fight sometimes. And my demons is more where I now I accept that everybody's crazy, so now I'm not disappointed. You know what I'm saying? Because you be disappointed in people. I be so disappointed in people that swear they know me. Like, you gotta believe that this is the path that I'm on. And you gotta believe that there's nothing nobody can say to change the path that I'm on. I've worked on this for years on myself to understand that networking, surrounding yourself with the right people will always get you further than the naysayers or the ones that wanna question your ambition for something. Or the ones that wanna just think that you're outta your mind for wanting to be a podcaster at 40 something. I'm like not like I'm trying to get on a date . I'm just trying to speak about myself. I don't care who likes it.

Stephanie: It's so interesting what you're saying right now because, the listeners can't really see me, but I've showed you like, I have your book in front of me and I had like underlined some stuff and, and one of the things that jumped out to me, and I'm just gonna read just a little bit.

"When you get caught, whether it's by the feds or by your mama for eating candy, when she told you not to, you have a choice. You have a choice to change or a choice not to. This process of change is what I call evolution. Now, I've gotta be honest with you, I didn't start living the PLUSH Lyfe the day they got me, or even the day I was released. I didn't start living it until I moved into my own apartment several years after I was released. Why? Because even though I started writing the book and developing the principles the very first day I got locked up, I had yet to fully evolve as a person, a person who was ready to change. That part took time, but eventually I got there because I wanted better for myself."

I mean, to me, Anthony, that's profound. It's universal. It's, it's all of us. It's one, you have to be ready to change. Two, you have to be open to the messiness of figuring out what it looks like on the other side, and three, and most importantly, it takes time. You can't just decide you're gonna live a better life and a week from now, it's better.

Anthony: Yeah, it takes time. A lot of time

and it takes, it takes, uh, just hearing that made me , but, um, I think it's coming home from prison, I think, and like I told Wize, you should not be allowed to live with nobody. , there should be some way, some place, not just a shelter where you gotta worry about your life or properties, but some type of structure for you to decompress from the prison life. Because when you move into somebody else's house, you already have bills. You already have a responsibility and you already have to be or be according to that house. So you never have time to really, I'm free. So now you put yourself in a freedom prison where now you are in a relationship and you feel like you didn't decompress. So now that is becoming like a prison every time somebody, why you ain't take out the garbage? Why you ain't do that? Why you ain't. It's just like, oh man, it's like a CO and this is bad. And a lot of relationships that where the man coming from prison, that I think is one of the things that probably would lower the domestic violence thing because you just can't, even with family or anybody like your village should be able to provide you a space to decompress. That way, if you make a mistake, it ain't on nobody else's shoulders.

Stephanie: Right.

Anthony: Well, that's, that's why I felt free when I moved in by myself.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony: I gotta take care of this. And I don't have nobody to, I live the way I'm gonna live moving forward. I wake up, I go to work. My house is the way it is. I have solitude. I don't mind going to your house. I don't mind sleeping over at your house, but I need my own house. If we are arguing or we have an misunderstanding, then I'll go home. Then we'll talk about it in the morning, if we really want to be with each other.

Stephanie: Right.

Anthony: And that go for family and everything. You could ruin a relationship coming home from prison. And if I was in there on some, I'm with everything that's going on and I'm gonna be in the mix when I come home, I would've been a savage

Stephanie: Yeah. I mean, it's a completely different culture, right?

Anthony: Another world.

Stephanie: It's another world. Absolutely. Like all of a sudden if tomorrow I got picked up and put down in the middle of Japan. Their customs are different. The way they do things are different. It's too fast to transition. I see what you're saying about that bridge, a bridge between cultures, between places so that you can catch your breath. I think that's a wonderful thing that you've learned about yourself and that you know about yourself. That you need that space. You need the place where you can be alone and safe and everything is just the way you want it.

Anthony: Because we all dealing with stuff. And we all dealing with stuff that we're not sharing with people.

Stephanie: Right.

Anthony: So, and many people, honestly, I believe, are afraid to be alone.

Stephanie: I agree with you.

Anthony: like, I don't think a lot of people like they self.

Stephanie: I agree with you.

Anthony: I think Covid was like the easiest thing for me was because I've already been to prison, so I was by myself. So when you tell me to stay in the house, but I could go to the grocery store, it is not a problem.

Stephanie: That was great for you.

Anthony: I was like, oh, and all y'all gotta stay in the house. And I'm a essential worker. Oh my God. This is depressing. I'm the only one driving at six o'clock in the morning.

Stephanie: Yeah. You were talking a couple minutes ago about going from prison right into somebody else's home and it was reminding me of people I know who go from relationship to relationship to relationship because they can't stand being by themselves. They can't stand, I don't know whether it's their own thoughts or their own heart or their own insides or whatever it is, but yeah, I think you're right. I think there's a piece of needing to know yourself and like yourself.

Anthony: Took me forever to, people who don't know me, that took me that whole, all those manuscripts and everything to understand who I was and what I wanted to be and that was at my early forties.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: To realize what's my calling or what I feel like I should be doing and why no matter what, this is a purpose that I have now. I have a purpose. You don't find that out if you in the mix and always lose it. And you in caught on your phone, you don't know your purpose yet. So relationships and living with one another, it sounds good until you in there and now you don't like the way they clean or they don't like the way you walk. I can't live nowhere where I'm on eggshells. Like that's so now I don't sleep good,

Stephanie: Yeah. I'm gonna go back to your book, and this is, I think in the introduction you said, "you have to know yourself so that you can trust yourself, so that you can be yourself." And this is not an easy task.

Anthony: No. To feel good in my skin and what I say out my mouth no matter who I'm standing around.

Stephanie: Right?

Anthony: That is hard for you to be yourself.

Stephanie: Yeah. I'm gonna go back to your book one more time. One of your confessions you said, "when I wasn't incarcerated physically I was still incarcerated mentally and because of it, true freedom was not an option." And Anthony, I think that that is again, universal. I think there's plenty of us that don't need to go to prison, but we're still prisoners of our mind, of our upbringing, of all the shoulds, all the things we're supposed to do, all the things that we feel constricted by, we're prisoners of those things. And everything that we're talking about here is part of that transition. I mean, you just said it, it wasn't until your early forties that you finally felt like you were on your own two feet and you felt solid standing there.

Anthony: Yeah. Cause you could always tell yourself you're solid. You could always tell yourself that. Like I said, it's just freedom or peace is all subjected to your own thoughts.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: The world is the world. If we waiting for the whole world to be free, there's another thing coming. So now we gotta be more realistic. What's freedom to me? What's peace to me? If that means being alone in the house and being able to just lay on my bed and then I'm at peace

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: and now I'm able to do more. Now I'm able to hone in on those potentials the reason why I'm here or what's my purpose in life? You get to absorb that and figure it out without you trying to fit into today, like this is what they're doing, so this is what I gotta do and this is what they're doing. So this is what I gotta do when I go over here. I can't be five different people where every time I go somewhere. I'm not angry at nobody, upset with nobody. We are who we are. I just know what path I'm on, and if that path lead me to Podfest family and whatever me and Wize got coming, then I'm happy and I'm at peace with that. And I'm free because this is my world that I wanna be in. I'd rather be in this world than hanging outside or going to the local bar every Friday and doing the same thing and hoping you don't get a DWI and stuff, whatever. All the things that I used to do, just don't seem smart. It don't seem like it leads to happiness.

Stephanie: Well, here's the other thing. This is the world that you created because you shaped it to fit you, to suit you perfectly. You dealt with whatever issues you have. You shaped those right into the world. You need your space,your tuck away space that's only yours. You created that, you shaped that. So now you can contribute more. You can be present more fully. You can be happier in all the places you are in because even if you're, you're at your girl's house or you're down visiting your family and something goes weird and and you're not happy, you have your place that you can retreat to, right? So you're able to do more and be more because you've crafted the life that suits you.

Anthony: Yeah, I look at it like this was always my journey was to just go through life and figure it out. Every part of my stories tell you that I had to figure it out. Like I may have help when I got to that one side of the family, but at end of the day it was always like, all right, cool. You're gonna make a decision. Stand on it. You gonna make a choice. Stand on it. And there's not nobody in my family, anybody that can say I blame anybody for anything I went through. Not even my mother.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: She did played her cards the best she could. Like life is a gamble. And we all are our own original gamblers of our life. It's blackjack all day. You go to work. Everything is a risk. There's a risk from when you wake up and you are blessed to wake up from when you walk out that door of your sanctuary, everything else is outta your control. You are playing craps.

Stephanie: Yep. And the only thing that you can control is your reaction to what life throws at you, to whatever those dice roll.

Anthony: And that's it. Once you comfortable in your own skin, then you laugh whether you win or lose,

Stephanie: Yes.

Anthony: You could smile through a loss

Stephanie: Yeah, you can.

Anthony: you know that I'll be back

Stephanie: Yeah,

Anthony: That's it. It is life. I'm going to have to repeat this tomorrow. The one bad day shouldn't ruin the the other six.

And it takes you accepting everything. People accepting that right now it's everybody has a voice. So now, right now is when you gotta understand that you can't get mad at all the voices. You only gotta hone in on the voices that are calling you. I don't have to run to everybody's voice, but the ones that's calling me, I appear.

And those are the ones and so far I haven't picked bad yet.Cuz everybody that I sat down with, I win and they win. We benefit. I benefit from talking to you

Stephanie: Yeah, me too.

Anthony: I had a rough week, two weeks. I haven't done this in the longest. So sitting here, just talking to you and rethinking some of the things, it reminds me like all you could was a rough one right there. But this right here helps you be like, all right, I'm back and I got charged, I got a boost. We gotta talk to somebody. because everything I do even podcast is 85%, 95% chance I'm talking about experiences that I experience. I try to bring a story of something I dealt with every week into this to just say it out loud,

Stephanie: Well, here's the thing for me, there's sort of two things. One, I find when I talk to people about their stories, and because I'm focused on a specific part of life, right? Where I had a big transition and I find other people have big transitions, hearing other people's stories helps me learn more about myself and telling my stories as part of these conversations does the same thing for me that you said it does for you. You said, oh, uh, you asked me that question. I'm gonna be thinking about that all weekend. I feel the same thing, like, oh, Anthony said this, and holy cow, we grew up in completely different places. You grew up in urban. I grew up in suburban, five hours north of you. Completely different world. But yet there are some things about our lives and our experiences and our transitions that are just universal,

Anthony: and that's the word.

Stephanie: Yep.

Anthony: There's a, you could believe in whatever you want to believe in. There is a universal language.

Stephanie: Oh, sure.

Anthony: And when I wrote these books, it was, you gotta question things. That's why those chapters was titled. Cuz those are all universal, trust, relationships, family, like every chapter in that book is universal. This is my story, but I wasn't talking to me. I was talking from experience to other people. There's always people that could use somebody else's path

Stephanie: Absolutely.

Anthony: They tell you, oh, you're going through this, well, these are your options. No, there's a lot of options and I wanna share this option like, you could say, oh, I hate the world because my family was doing crack. All right, cool. My family smoke crack. Biracial, my family's biracial. Gay man, my uncle was gay. We are the generation that experienced cultures and understanding differences and now I'm proud of that generation, so I want to stand on it and if that generation worked for me, then the way I handled my situation might work for somebody else.

Stephanie: That's the entire purpose of my podcast is to help people. Most of us know there's all these books from the time you're zero to like 18 and all the developmental stages and what to expect when your baby's three and five and nine and 12 and then, after 18 or 20 it's like, see ya, bye-bye. Off you go. And so I think that most people don't know.That there is this transition around age 40, that there is this transition from going from what everybody told you you should do and you're supposed to do, and you just followed things blindly, to being able to know yourself and trust yourself and make decisions that feel good for you, not cuz somebody else told you. And I want people who are in that stage to listen to these podcast episodes and listen to all my guests and be able to just relate to them and say, oh, this story I relate to. I have been able to relate to every single person I have interviewed no matter what part of the planet they're on, how their path was different than mine. There's always something that I can go, ah, that's interesting.

Anthony: Thought provoking. That's the word thought provoking. I want somebody to make me think.

Stephanie: yeah.

Anthony: So when I talk, I be talking so that other people would think, I'm not telling you what to do. I don't tell people how to do anything, but think about this.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: And then you are on your own to script your world. It's not just the media look on to things and then the angry people look on things. There's people that's really in the mix. Voices don't, don't really believe neither one of these,

Stephanie: Right.

Anthony: But it is not cool to talk like that. You ain't gonna get a lot of views. So when I embarked on this, it was more for me and just, and now this is the way for my son to always have something to play back.

You know what I'm saying? Since they taking away writing and all this stuff don't matter cuz everything's on a computer. Now our history to our children, our stories can't come from just pictures. We have, we have the capability to let them hear these words long after I'm gone.

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. You can bring it to life. Yeah.

Anthony: That's it. Everything you do, everything I do, that's gonna be here long after, because we know it's going into digital.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: So now your family, your children, everybody, they get to, oh, lemme listen. Remember when auntie, let me play that back. Yo, remember when auntie had this guest? Oh, that was a funny one. This is our telling our family history for the kids coming and the kids who come. Not gonna read, books are gonna get burnt. Now you got DVDs you put in they trust or like they savings. Like, yo, when he get 18 he get this money, but he gotta listen to this don't get this without listening to this.

Stephanie: That's awesome.

Anthony: So it is just knowing where the world is at, knowing that I would've never thought that I'd be even speaking as freely as I speak, I didn't even think, nothing about those being books. Those was just diaries. Just a lot of writing and self-reflecting that somebody in prison, I let them read it and they're like, yo son, you can make a book out of this. Like word. And then I just saved it, sent it home. And when I got home, trying to get that first book out was more because everything was going wrong, bad relationship, bad living situation, felt like I just couldn't win the whole first year and I was like, yo, I gotta do so so I don't give up. And I self-published the first one, unedited, well edited by friends. There's not no real editor, I just had to just do it. Let me see if I could do it. Oh, shop. I'm a author. Self-published.

Stephanie: Look at you.

Anthony: Okay. And it was rough the whole time after, but

Stephanie: Hey. you stand up a little straighter.

Anthony: I accomplished this. Now that was enough to just keep me pushing like, yo, you know what? You can't expect nobody to believe in your dreams. You can't expect nobody to believe in your wishes, your desire, your future. You can't be mad at nobody for not understanding your goals, your ambition. You are being really selfish if I get upset because you don't understand what my journey is.

Stephanie: Right,

Anthony: So now I can relinquish that right there. Now, I'm not worried about you understanding my journey.

Stephanie: right,

Anthony: If you don't understand it, you ain't a positive cog to this thing, then I'm, we'll, I'll see you in the supermarket at the grocery store. Like, I'll see you and we'll still speak cordially, but

Stephanie: right.

Anthony: the, the communication is gonna dwindle

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: because I don't need that energy for what I'm trying to do.

Stephanie: Again, completely universal. Anthony, I mean, I've had the same kind of thing. I've had, friendships kind of shrivel up because I'm evolving or their lives are moving in different ways, and it was great for years, and we were on the same path. But, I always like to think sometimes our paths cross and sometimes they stay connected for a while and sometimes they go away from each other and life is a winding road and you don't know years from now that person may be back in alignment with you and you may have, you know, some good time with them and so you're exactly right to approach it that way. It's like, cordial, hello, nice to see you.

Anthony: And that's the real thing that people don't tell you. That is what they mean when they say, if you love something, set it free people. People confined it to just the relationship. It's not just a relationship. In life, everybody's not meant to be with you for your entire life. We are all parts of each other's journey. So if I'm in your life for six good months and then I gotta go, then them six good months is what I was supposed to do in your life.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: I'm not supposed to hang with you all the way through your journey cuz we all gotta walk our own walk. Nobody's supposed to have their hands held through their whole entire journey. So, but people always say that statement only when it's in a relationship form and it's not. It's in life like you can love someone and they might have a different journey and you gotta accept that you can't be mad that their journey don't in align with yours. So the people you love, you do have to set them free cuz they might be there because you, they think you need them. So now they're not being themselves. And everybody need to understand that. Like, I cherish the Podfest weekend cuz for that moment, y'all're mines

Stephanie: Yeah,

Anthony: and then after we leave, everybody goes and now they got a new energy to pursue what they're pursuing. And that's what we are here for, to meet up, empower one another, motivate one another so that when we all go back to our separate worlds, we all got thought provoking moments from each other that help further us in whatever goals we have. And then we always here for each other when it comes to podcast. Even when I told Wize, I said, yo, she text me to see if I was all right. I said, wow. Nobody else text me. Nobody else that I know text me to see if I was all right. And I was like, yo, I love this group. But that, that's what I'm saying. Like not even, we'll never expect that, but you could have text me and I could have just, but embracing what I'm embracing and walk and staying true to who I am,now I can enjoy those moments of a text that means so much that nobody else know it mean that much. But just at that moment of whatever I was going through that help and then just thank you for that. Now I didn't expect that I was gonna tell you that today, but

Stephanie: I'm actually welling up. You're uh, you're making my heart really big

Anthony: I'm just a, I'm a vibe person. I respect the vibe. I'm an energy person.But, and that's what I'm saying. It just, it all this came from just getting arrested. So now I don't look at it as a bad thing no more.

Stephanie: Right.

Anthony: Cause I actually learned from that mistake.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: I don't have to walk around feeling like a ex-felon. I'm not a, cuz I don't have to walk around with, I don't care what the paperwork say.

Stephanie: Right.

Anthony: I'm not living as an ex-felon.

Stephanie: You have to carry yourself with that.

Anthony: Because I accept everything and I'm working on myself to this day. So I am a man going through a transition. I am not a ex-felon. I am not a Black man. I am not a Latin, I am a man going through a transition. And that's all, that's what I stand on now, it's not about colors, man. I don't care whatever your lifestyle is, when you talk to this man, you gonna talk to this man as a man first, you can pick the colors and everything later. I'm reestablishing being a man, talking to me as a man, respecting me as a man. Me doing my manly duties and responsibilities and taking care of myself s, that you respect me as a man first.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: And that's just from learning myself from working on myself to now, I feel comfortable saying that to anybody. I don't care who I stand in front of, like I am a man first.

Stephanie: So it's interesting that you're down this path now because here I am. I just grabbed your book again cuz this was another one of the areas that I highlighted. You said "respect must be given in order for it to be received. And this is true whether you're giving respect to yourself or to someone else." And I think just having read your book and meeting you and knowing you a little bit, I think you can demand that respect because you respect yourself. You know you deserve that respect. So you can go out into the world with a position, with a stance, with a body language that says, I'm a man deserving of respect, because I respect myself and I know what my worth is, and I know what I deserve.

Anthony: And that's transferred energy. That's like they say a dog could tell when you're scared.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Anthony: People could tell when you don't believe in yourself.

Stephanie: Yes.

Anthony: People could tell the energy, how you articulate yourself, how you come out. Like people could tell if you respect yourself. They could tell if you just full of it, you can't hide the energy. You can act for a little while, but nobody's a professional actor. My energy is I walk through, I'm gonna respect everyone no matter what. I'm gonna talk to everyone, be cordial, polite. I got a good sense of humor. I love giving compliments, but I'm not doing this to befriend you. I'm doing this because I'm a respectable person. And you gotta respect this. Period. That's it. Other than that, then you don't have to respect me, but we not gonna be in the same space. I'm not entertaining anything less than genuine respect. I don't have to. I can walk away. I don't have to get angry with you and argue with you about it. I'm not fighting with you to respect me.

If I gotta fight with you to respect me, then that respect ain't gonna be genuine anyway.

Stephanie: Yeah, it's not worth it. That's not, someone you want in your world.

Anthony: It's just a matter of knowing yourself, accepting yourself.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Anthony: Really digging into learning this. You can't free yourself mentally if you don't deal with whatever past that you ain't completely deal with. And a lot of us say we over it, but like I said, my relationship thing boils all the way back

Stephanie: Yep,

Anthony: to 14 to 13.

I mean, learning yourself is freedom, I swear. Just to be able to understand and now in a situation where you normally will act negatively and being able to analyze it right there in real time.

Stephanie: Yes. Being able to notice

Anthony: Yeah.

Stephanie: This is something that would usually trigger me, and so I'm gonna do something different.

Well, and that's the thing about knowing yourself and being in that place where you're solid at your core and you know yourself and you trust yourself and you can identify those people and say, I'm not gonna invest my time with you. And, and like you said, I'll see you at the barbecue, or I'll see you at the club or at the bar, and we'll have a 10 minute conversation. It'll be great. I know that I wanna surround myself with people whose energy is, whose vibration is similar to mine, so we can add to each other's lives and worlds.

I love the way you were talking earlier, the way you were describing your village. To me it was a distributed village. It was everywhere. Right. I'm here and you're there but we're part of the same village. I loved that metaphor, cuz yeah, we're part of the village.

Anthony: Anthony, thank you so much for being here with me today. I just, I sincerely appreciate your time and your story.

Thank you for having me again, and thank you for understanding my situation and I'm just glad that I did do this again cause I, I told my uncle I was looking forward to recording with you.

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