He was a star before Dancing With The Stars.

We happened to sit at the same table during one of the lunch breaks. He stretched his hand out to me and introduced himself – “JR”. I smiled. I was used to being the one initiating conversation. I clasped his hand with my partially amputated hand and squeezed – “JRP”. That brought an infectious laugh from the both of us.  I went on, “What brings you to World Burn this year?”  He made direct eye contact and shared his story. He was a war veteran who had been hit by a roadside bomb and sustained 3rd degree burns over most of his face and body. There was no hint of bitterness or sorrow. The gleam in his eye disclosed that this was just the beginning of the journey.  I knew JR Martinez was a star right then.

What are you doing now?

After I shared my story with him he asked a very profound question. It is one we should ask ourselves as we strive for success in our careers, family, and personal life. “What are you doing now?” Life has a way of throwing road blocks in the way that make our dearest dreams come crashing to the ground.  When that happens we have to have the fortitude to get back up again and make that incident a fresh beginning and not a disastrous ending. Every day can be a bright new beginning if we so choose.

The inspiration of positive communication

I told JR about the nonprofit I founded and my desire to build a home away from home for caretakers of seriously burned patients. His smile broadened as he spoke again, “Glad to see you doing something so positive after losing your son. That’s inspiring.”   There was strength in him that appealed to me. I wanted to know more about this young man. I continued, “So, what are you doing now?” It was the question that he had been waiting for. “Me, well, I am auditioning for a part in All My Children. I think I’m going to get it,” It was already a done deal in his eyes.  Why? Because he had no reason to believe otherwise. He did not allow his physical appearance or present circumstance drive him off of the road of success. We ended the conversation with a heartfelt embrace.

The golden journey of success

JR continued on his golden journey of success accomplishing the seemingly impossible. Not only did he get that role in a nationally televised daytime soap opera, he went on to become an internationally recognized motivational speaker, the 2011 Dancing with the Stars champion, and author. My road of success continued as well. I became a speaker, author, lyricist, and burn survivor advocate receiving accolades that are beyond my wildest dreams.

Our paths crossed again

Our paths crossed again just recently in October of 2010 when we interviewed and filmed for the newly released documentary “Trial By Fire: Lifes Re-forged”. This film in which  in which I co-star with JR and several other burn survivors was chosen as a part of docu weeks and premiered in NY and LA this past September. We had an AMAZING PREMIERE Theatrical run w/ great reviews. Our next goal, is the OSCAR® short-list by way of OZ.  We will be making our debut in November on the Doctor Oz. show.

What Else?

Now after every achievement I ask myself the question: “What else?” Successful people are always on the move. Achieving one goal and then setting another.  Life is a glorious opportunity. I want to share with you my personal recipe for success:  STIR LIFE

S.Start Something


I. – Invent





E. Excel


Remember life is most enjoyable when there is heart, beauty, and true confidence.


*This post first appeared on Jennings Wire where Justina is a contributing blogger.