A lesson of freedom from “The Shawshank Redemption”

Patience, persistence and, most important, hope is needed to break free from your personal prison

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) is an awesome movie that can teach us how to keep hope alive.

It’s one of those flicks that whenever I see it come on, I’ve got to watch it.

A story of a man, Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins), who is sent to prison for life for the murder of his wife and her lover, even though he claims he is innocent.

We follow Andy as he navigates prison institutional life while building strong friendships along the way.

A theme of the film is to keep hope alive.

I had some insights recently about Andy Dufresne and how he can teach us a lesson if we are stuck in our own Shawshank prisons.

Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption

You might be in a personal prison right now. It may be a job you’ve been stuck in or a never-ending cycle of school. Maybe it’s a series of bad relationships. (more…)

Inspiration to Get Through The Holiday Blues

The "Getting Your Creative Work Done" download will help move you forward

January used to be a very difficult time for me.

For years I would go through the holiday season starting with Halloween through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. It’s always a very busy time of the year in my industry.

inspiration to get through the holiday blues

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

It is a time that can be filled with joy, gratefulness and reflection. But for several years I would get through the season and be very depressed.

Part of it was realizing that I hadn’t accomplished the things that I wanted to do in the previous year. Part of it was feeling overwhelmed and being in the middle of winter and not having the inspiration to move forward. It was quite daunting. (more…)

Patience and Waiting are a Part of Your Work

Just because I want it now, doesn't mean I get it

The last few years, I’ve had some challenges in my journey.

Putting time and energy into projects that fizzle out, or not getting the results I had hoped for.

There were several times where I felt like I had gone down the wrong path completely.

When I arrived at those roadblocks, I didn’t handle them the best way I could.

Instead of learning from my work and trial and error, I would throw in the towel instead.

Paris Clock by Lesly Juarez

I’d cocoon myself. I’d fill my time with distractions. Seeing what other people were doing on Facebook. Or prioritizing lower level tasks that had nothing to do with moving forward on important and meaningful projects in my life.

Or a finding a million other distractions because I hurt and felt defeated. At times I felt like I wanted to take a 3-hour nap… all the time. I didn’t want to feel the pain of disappointment. (more…)

How I Learned God’s Plans Are Better Than Mine

After my recent trip to Slovenia, I asked with wonder "How did I get here?"

This last month, I had some incredible moments.

Young men and women singing “Melody of Change” on an impromptu stage in Slovenia.

Melody of Change Slovene Style from Kevin Gregg on Vimeo.

A few days later, I was looking at my wife and son who had arrived in Slovenia to see the student’s performance. It felt like a dream come true to see them talking with students during our final get together picnic.

A few days after that, I was standing in the St. Peter’s Basilica and looking at the glorious presentation of the stained glass window depicting The Holy Spirit.

I got to ask myself the question, “How did I get here?” (more…)

The Dangers of Isolation

Being alone isn't going to help you

When our family went to Kilmainham Gaol (“gaol” means”jail” in Gaelic) in Dublin, Ireland this spring we learned about the Easter Monday Rebellion in 1919 which eventually lead to Ireland’s independence.

We also learned about techniques that were implemented in the jail to “help” prisoners.

Complete isolation in the form of solitary confinement was common practice.

View of a Kilmainham Jail Cell Spring 2017 (Photo by Kate McLaughlin-Gregg)

Jailers believed that if prisoners were left alone with their thoughts in isolation, it would lead to rehabilitation.

Over time, they learned quite the opposite.

They discovered that isolation leads to the complete mental and physical health breakdown in prisoners.

To correct this, the administrators created windows in the jail to allow prisoners to see daylight and interact with other prisoners.

It might not lead to a turn around with prisoner’s behavior, but it did improve their health.

Here’s a takeaway, I want to share with you that I learned from Kilmainham Jail. We have to learn not to isolate. even when we’re in pain. There is a tendency to retreat and to lick our wounds.

We have to fellowship with God and others because isolation doesn’t heal

The healing comes when we admit and share our hurt.

One of the ways that we can let God in is by turning to our friends. We can share our pain, and our friends can help us as we go through some rough patches.

It’s how it’s supposed to work. We were not created to be alone. We were created to be in relationship with one another.

I find this so helpful when I’m going through the rough patches. Reaching out and talking, sharing, trying to get through it… It’s what it’s supposed to be.

If you’re hurting today, reach out to someone who knows you dearly. They will help you through this, and God will help you as well.

 

 

Enough is Enough

When you're done and want to break the cycle

Maybe you are at that point where you are done.

You’ve been stuck in a cycle, a pattern. You can’t seem to get a break.

It probably feels like everywhere you go, or whatever situation you find yourself in next, you get punched in the gut.

I remember having those moments in my life where I thought “Enough is enough, I don’t like the answers I’m getting.”

enough is enough

Face close up by https://brinablum.de/

I didn’t like that a school system kept saying, “We can’t offer more services” for my son Duncan to help with his autism.

I didn’t like kids calling me fat when I was 12 going through an incredibly stressful year emotionally and psychologically. A year where I kept eating to stop the pain.

I didn’t like people telling me that I had to get a job that I hated and dreaded in order to stay alive.

Maybe you’re going through one of those life changes now.

That moment where “Enough is enough!”
That moment where you’d rather take the leap and the chance, instead of being stuck in the same cycle of frustration and pain.

There’s pruning that has to happen in life in order to make room for new growth.

It’s going to hurt, but it is so, so worth it.

“…and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” John 5:12

“Essentialism”: Are You Making “D” Life Decisions?

Greg McKewon's book challenges you to use your time and energy wisely

Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” should be mandatory reading for creative workers. 

It’s a book that challenges you to say “no” to those things in your life that do not utilize your best skills and talents.

I’ve written before about the power of saying “no.”  “Essentialism”, which I first heard about from Michael Hyatt’s blog, truly goes deeper into the idea of say “yes” to the right things in life.

Here are three major concepts from the book I’d like to share…

Make sure that you commit your time to something that is worth it.

What are you investing your time in? 

McKewon shares a personal story that changed his way of thinking. He and his wife were expecting the birth of his son. They knew the child would be born through the Cesarian procedure, so a date for the delivery had been set.   (more…)

Just Keep Dancing, Just Keep Dancing

How I kept my head down and learned some moves

“We would like you to be a part of Fantasy Fair.”

These were words I was not expecting to hear. I had been hired to go into a new musical comedy show that was starting at Disneyland.

I had gone through the audition process and had done all right, but there was a concern.

I can sing, but dancing is not in my wheelhouse.

The director took a chance and offered me the job.

I accepted and I was scared.  Sure I could perform comedy with some ease, I’d been doing that for nearly two decades.

But dancing? Oh boy…

dancing

Kevin as Mr. Jones (picture credit: Jerry Buteyn)

It took a lot of work.

Here’s what helped me get through the process:

  • Persistence and perseverance

I’d record the choreographers dancing on my phone. Then I’d transfer the video to my laptop and watch the video playback in slow motion.

I would literally force my body to imitate the moves I saw the choreographers and other performers do.

My family would catch me rehearsing the steps in the middle of our living room on my days off from work.

I would show up each morning 45 minutes early for rehearsal and practice the dance steps in the parking lot.

Even during our breaks I would slowly review and go over the steps again and again and again.

  • Partnering

My friend, Mark McConville was my partner in arms during the process.  It was a challenge for him too but we bonded during rehearsal as we tried to master the steps.  (more…)

There Are No Shortcuts

The power of consistency

I’ve been here time and time again.

Like, the time that well over half of my headshot submissions to agents got sent back to me because they wouldn’t accept them through the mail.

Like the time I had a lemonade stand as a kid and only one neighbor showed up because we didn’t get foot traffic on our street.

Like the time I bought $10 worth of magical raffle tickets at our church fair absolutely convinced that I was going to win the much coveted Atari game system… I didn’t.

And just about every time I didn’t get instant results for my semi-efforts, I’d get huffy. I’d want to throw in the towel.

 

There are no shortcuts.

I know this with eating and exercise. I know this with my spiritual and mental health.

I have to show up every day.

When it comes to life’s calling, life’s purpose, and career I have a tendency to sabotage myself.

I do know what it is. Steven Pressfield calls it The Resistance. I call him by another name.

This force wants me to fall off the horse and never get back up. Because to get back up means that I am serving the Higher Purpose. I am serving the purpose that He gave me.

So… I’ll go back to the basics. I’ll review what it takes so that I show up every day to work on this. I’ll read and learn and follow the guidance of those who have come before me and who are trying to point me on the path.

I know that if I log the time, do the work, I’ll find myself on the path He has laid before me so that I’m not just doing my work. I’ll do the work He means for me to do.

 

Breaking Through The Dark Times: The Creative Breakthrough Workshop

How a medical crisis helped me move forward

In the late 1998 I got blindsided by a medical issue which was potentially life threatening.

My son Matty was just a year old, our family was trying to juggle finances and try to just get our footing. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out.

I won’t keep you in suspense… I survived the medical crisis.

However, I also went to a dark place. I was 25 years old when it hit and it brought up some very challenging questions for myself.
One of those questions was what was I doing with my life.

I was trying to make a living as an actor, but I couldn’t seem to make progress. I kept getting overwhelmed, and the medical crisis scared and depressed me. If it wasn’t this medical issue that would kill me, was something else just around the corner.

Turning back to my faith got me back on track, but it definitely wasn’t easy.

In the midst of this journey, I came to a realization.

Life is a very precious gift and that I have been given certain skills and abilities that I have to develop and grow. No tomorrow’s are promised. I needed to do all that I could with my given circumstances in a day and try to make the best of it.

At the end of the night, if I could put my head on the pillow and say that I had done the most with my given circumstances that day… I had done all right.

Not every night was like that, but slowly I learned to stop squandering my days. It was about taking action and doing forward motion. Thinking big, praying big and also making sure that I was on track with what God wanted me to do.

This medical crisis was one of four difficult periods I had in my life as a working creative.

I tell the rest of that story in my inspiring online class: The Creative Breakthrough Workshop.

In this FREE TRAINING I teach the 4 Steps that can change your creative output in the next 30 days.

You will learn…

How to put a support system in place that will move you forward

Habits that you can create that will increase your creative productivity (using a technique as simple as 12 minutes a day)

How one week can completely change your outlook on what you can accomplish with your creative goal

and so much more!

Spaces are limited so reserve your seat ASAP.

breakthrough

You must register for a class in order access live/replay. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn how to breakthrough your low moments and get back to doing creative purpose-filled work.

I hope to see you there…