“Someday” Never Happens: Taking The Scary Step NOW

I told my wife, Kate, “Someday, it will happen. Someday…”

For 20 years.

It had been a dream to travel as a family to Ireland.

Understandably, we had many challenges along the way. Medical and financial challenges, family obligations. We couldn’t seem to get a break to make it happen. But my answer would always be the same…”Someday.”

Then last year I traveled to Slovenia to help a church organization with a performance arts camp for young people. It really effected me, and I wanted to share this experience with Kate.

But I didn’t want to hijack this dream we’d had for over 20 years.

So when I returned from Slovenia, we sat down, pulled the trigger, and purchased the tickets to go to Ireland and Scotland.

With my sons Matty and Duncan at the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland
With my sons Matty and Duncan at the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

It was scary. It was a leap of faith financially and I wasn’t sure how things would work out with all of our other obligations.

I am so grateful that we did it.

I got to reunite with family that I had not seen in over 24 years. The kids got to meet family they had never met before. We were able to experience beautiful sights and rich history in both Ireland and Scotland.

It’s opened up the possibility of doing more travel and learning how to successfully navigate that with my son’s autism.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that “someday” never happens.

The word “someday” can be used as an excuse to put something off, or it can be used to comfort ourselves.

Ultimately, however, it doesn’t deliver the real goods. It only gives us whisps and longing for the unfulfilled.

The great stuff comes when we act in the now and take the scary step.

Just a warning: when you get ready to take the scary step, you’ll be met with a lot of resistance and a lot of naysayers. There will be people that say “I could never do that.” Or people that will question “How are you able to do that?” Or even the voice within your head that will say “What are you doing?”

Push through. You know that deep down inside, that true voice is saying “Do it” because there is greatness on the other side.

I’m so grateful I took the scary step and did something I had been holding back on for a long time. The rewards were worth it.

What are you holding back from doing? Talk about it on my Facebook page and join the conversation…

Crossroads-Making the Difficult Decision

I remember back in the late 90’s I was at a crossroads…

I wasn’t making enough money with part time entertainment work while raising a family.

I needed to figure out what to do.

My parents and in-laws had helped us through some rough patches financially, but it couldn’t last forever.
Right around this time, I was also blindsided by a medical issue that required surgery and treatment.
Scary times.
I went through a dark period of depression, not sure what to do.
photo courtesy of Carsten Toolkit https://goo.gl/lTyA3x
photo courtesy of Carsten Toolkit https://goo.gl/lTyA3x

I rediscovered my faith during this period which was incredibly helpful, because I had a hard decision to make.

Was I going to continue on in the path of creative work, or was I going to settle for “regular” work?

Continue reading “Crossroads-Making the Difficult Decision”

Dealing With Disappointment

Got some disappointing news about something I had focused my time and energy on recently.
It stung.

Image courtesy of StockSnap.io
Image courtesy of StockSnap.io

There were a few moments where I felt really down.

But, I’m in a better place than I was a few years ago.
A few years ago, this news could have kept me in a cycle of depression for weeks, if not months.
Now, I was able to pull out of it quicker. There is a Bigger Plan at work here.
I know that God has given me abilities, skills and talents that are to be used for His Glory,  not my own.
When I learn to keep Him as the center of all of it, my successes and my failures, it helps.
Believe me, I still feel pain.
But I also have hope that helps me get up and keep going.
Here are a few things that helped me during the recent rejection:
  • I shared with my wife and my friends. In the past, I used to keep all of it bottled up an would isolate. It didn’t help and people didn’t want to hang around that.
  • I read scripture that would lift me up. It’s surprising how much there is in the Bible about dealing with disappointment. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
  • I reviewed what I have accomplished in the past, and reassessed what that means for the future. Perhaps this recent rejection means that I’m supposed to be using my abilities in a different way. A way in which I would thrive and would be more in line with my talents.
Whatever the near future holds, I’m grateful for the love and support that I have along the way, from God, from my wife, my family and my friends. All of this is about serving others.
I hope today if you are feeling the sting of disappointment that you can find some peace and insight to see the Bigger Plan.

Doing What You Don’t Want To Do

Yeah there are a lot of times we’ve got to do things we just don’t want to do.

I don’t like doing dishes, I don’t like doing laundry, I don’t like going over finances and doing taxes.

Yet, they have to be done.

I know the ideal is to only do things that we want to do. But life is also not a happiness cloud made of cotton candy.

Doing the things we don't want to do
Copyright: dansamy / 123RF Stock Photo

I’m not sure where the idea of living a life devoid of pain came from.

I know for myself, pursuing happiness in my work came from being exposed to people who absolutely hated their work, but they continued to show up and do it for a paycheck.
That idea of showing up day in and day out in an environment that I loathed, spending a majority of my time and life in those circumstances was not attractive to me at all.
But that doesn’t mean that we get to avoid things that we don’t want to do.
Sometimes we’ve got to put our nose to the grindstone and get the work done.
I can think of two times in particular where I had to grow and make the right choice.
The first was in high school at the age of 14.
I grew up in the 1980’s and saw the birth of Must Watch TV on Thursday nights on NBC. It was one of television’s highest ratest nights with the line up of: “The Cosby Show”, “Family Ties”,”Cheers” and “Night Court”.
For me it was a staple of my week, something I really looked forward to.
By the time I hit freshman year at Loyola High School, I realized I was neck deep in some serious school work along with sports and activities. My schedule was getting crammed and I was coming to a crossroads in my life.

Continue reading “Doing What You Don’t Want To Do”

Burnout: You Can’t Do it All

“You can do it all!” “Multi-task!” “Push yourself to the limit!” “You can sleep when you’re dead!”

A lot of phrases that we hear in the 21st century.  These ideas of always being on the go, go, go. Push yourself to the extreme at all costs: sleep, friends, family, health. It will all be worth it.

The truth is, though there may be good intentions behind these phrases, they are not healthy and they are not right.

The result of continual pushing and driving our engines in the red is burnout. And when we hit burnout, there’s a lot to clean up afterwards.

Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

It’s hard to resist, we have major figures in the world that seem to be able to do it all. J.J. Abrams and James Franco are two people in the entertainment industry that come to mind. They seem to be able to do it all: directing, writing, producing, acting.

But I also know that I can’t compare the messy back stage of my life to someone else’s front stage. I have no idea what their personal lives are like. I have no idea what people or teams they have in place that handle all of their work or issues so they can be involved in so many different projects. And I certainly don’t have personal insight into the struggles that they have to endure on a daily basis. Continue reading “Burnout: You Can’t Do it All”

The 11 Months I Was Unemployed (Part 3 of 3)

 (This is the third and final part of a story that tells the story of how I made a poor decision that left me unemployed for 11 months. For the first part read here. For the second part read here.)

Months had gone by and I still had no regular work. The bank account dwindling dangerously low. I was consumed with anxiety on a daily (if not hourly basis). Forward motion had come to a stop. I was doing anything, but addressing the issue, hoping beyond hope that some magical big break would come my way.

I would try to distract myself by taking the family out to eat or going to a movie, but would find my mind drifting during our outings.
We’re running out of money? What am I going to do? What kind of job can I get that will pay our expenses?

Then one day, while I was out, I had a very calm and gentle thought.

Kevin Gregg at The Golden Horseshoe Saloon at Disneyland
Kevin Gregg at The Golden Horseshoe in Disneyland
You need to go back to Disney
I was fortunate when I had left working for Disney. I had exited with grace and had not burned any bridges on my way out the door.
I started reaching out to a couple of friends who were co-workers and managers and asked if I might have a chance to return. They said it looked hopeful.
One afternoon I made a phone call to the head of casting at Disneyland. She was incredibly gracious and got me a part-time position in the park.
I was nervous coming back.
I had a lot of emotions returning to Disney. One was a feeling of failure.
I had left thinking that I was just moving on to bigger and better things. Now, I feared I would be met by fellow actors who would look at me disapprovingly and say sarcastically “Well, look who’s back!”
I did get some of that.
But mostly I was received with open arms by a lot of people at work. More than anything else, I felt some hope. I was given the chance to use my abilities and skills again.
I put my nose to the grindstone and took any work that came my way. Including those television extra jobs that I didn’t enjoy so much.
I was in a place where I couldn’t be picky about what I was doing. I was just grateful for anything that I could do.
Within a few months I started getting more work than I had ever had as an actor.
I was cast in more shows at the Park than before, and soon I was cast in more television commercial work than I had ever booked previously.
Something had broken through. Or what I should say, was that something had been broken… my pride.

Continue reading “The 11 Months I Was Unemployed (Part 3 of 3)”

The 11 Months I Was Unemployed (Part 2 of 3)

(This is the second part of a story that tells the story of how I made a poor decision that left me unemployed for 11 months. For the first part read here)

After I had left my regular work at Disney in the fall of 2005, I thought things were going to go my way. We had some money saved up. I was sure that television commercial work would start pouring in.

I was so confident that I even turned down a seasonal opportunity from another theme park because I was going to leave that behind me.

My problem… I didn’t have a plan in place. I wasn’t in a regular acting class at the time or a regular group where I could exchange ideas about how to get consistent work.

I was just winging it.

Not having a plan in place was very detrimental. I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. Without a clear direction, I became easily distracted or overwhelmed by what needed to happen in order to book work.

Kevin Gregg doing extra work on the set of "24" (FOX) circa 2006
Kevin Gregg doing extra work on the set of “24” (FOX) circa 2006

I wasn’t handling it very well.

I felt guilty that I couldn’t seem to get things done so I started filling my days with anything and everything.  I started volunteering at the kids’ school, volunteering at church and just being involved in a myriad of different non-paying activities.

Volunteering is a good thing, but when you are not taking care of  basic income for the home it can cause its own problems. And it did. Before I knew it I found myself emotionally committed to things that had nothing to do with forward motion for my career. I was stretching myself too thin and getting exhausted. But at least I could claim that I was “busy.”

I also started numbing myself with food and booze. Not helpful. When you go to an audition for a television commercial, you don’t look too attractive when you’ve got a puffy face from booze and a poor diet.
I was fortunate enough to book odd jobs here and there. I did extra work for a few television shows but found the experience depressing and not very lucrative for a man trying to support a family of five.

Continue reading “The 11 Months I Was Unemployed (Part 2 of 3)”

The 11 Months I Was Unemployed (Part 1)

“Don’t compare your messy backstage with someone else’s front stage.”
I think sometimes we can look at successes that other people have and go “Wow, they have it really easy.”
No they don’t.
Everyone has their challenges along the way.
With that in mind I wanted to share a story about a rough patch that I went through back in 2005-2006.
Kevin in 2005 just before 11 months of unemployment
Kevin in 2005 just before 11 months of unemployment

It’s a story about pride, frustration, hopelessness, humility and ultimately just turning it all over to God.

I want to share this story because it shows how I made poor decisions in my career and life, but with God’s Help, Grace and Mercy, I was able to get me back on track.
Between 2002 to early 2005 I was having success working as a commercial actor. I’ll admit, it was nice. I wasn’t swimming in pools of money but I was starting to see results from working on television.
I had booked a series of national Dodge television commercials that had not only aired, but had been renewed, which meant I was receiving nice residual checks. My wife and I jokingly referred to this time period as being “thousandaires.”
There is something nice when you have money in your bank account don’t have to sweat it when the car suddenly needs repairs.
During this time period we were facing other challenges in our life. The most pressing issue was that our youngest son Duncan was diagnosed with autism. Receiving money during this time helped take some pressure off of us that we were feeling in the home.
But there was something else that was happening in my heart at the time.
I had developed a sense of self-entitlement.
“I’ve done all this hard work as an actor, some people didn’t think I would have success, and now I’m going through this hardship. I deserve this success!”
Maybe a nobel intent, but my mindset was not very charitable or humble mindset. It was more of a “I’ll show them” attitude. Pride was there.
Now that the work and the money was coming in I felt confident that it was always going to be like this. I had been working a number of years at Disney doing my shows and there were some behind the scene issues occurring that I let wound my ego. Instead of using these moments as a learning opportunity, I let my pride get the best of me.
I sat down with Kate,my wife, and told her that I felt that I was being led to leave my regular work at Disneyland. I was going to jump in head-first into being a full-time freelance actor.
Kate was hesitant of this decision. She asked if I would consider reducing my hours at Disneyland and still accept part-time work. I held my ground and said that I needed a clean break.
 To her credit, she supported my decision. She didn’t feel good about it but she trusted me. So I put in my notice at Disney, said my goodbyes, received my final check. We had a  farewell party at a friend’s house.
It looked like it was going to be a beautiful future filled with freedom and opportunity.
Little did I know at that moment that I should have heeded Kate’s reservations.
What was to come was going to be a very difficult 11 months for my family.
And I had no one else to blame except the guy that was looking back at me in the mirror everyday.
(To be continued…)

Is Netflix trying to hook you?

At a recent conference, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that entertainment is changing into something else. According to Hastings, movies and television are the changed versions of opera and literature. He envisions a future where media changes into a product that could be consumed, literally, as a pharmaceutical.

netflixpillA pill that someone would take in order to experience entertainment.

Yep, it’s true. You can see some of his comments here.

I say no.

When I hear a suggestion like that, I have a vision of people not engaging with one another, but instead isolating in a media hallucinogenic trip.

That is not the future. I believe that one of the purposes of art is to reflect the human experience and allow the opportunity for the Divine to speak to us. Art should point us towards working and growing together.

Even media that we might experience on our own (books, music, etc.) gives us the opportunity to talk to other people about our experiences.

Having a chemically altered experience that would manipulate our feelings and possibly drive us away from communicating with each other (“I can’t explain it, just take this and you’ll know what I mean”) is not an end we should be driving towards.

It doesn’t surprise me that this idea comes from the man who’s company gave birth to the concept of “binge watching”.

Be careful. Talk, engage, learn.


A Word of Encouragement

It starts in our homes. It starts in our churches. It starts in our communities.

It starts with talking with one another.

It starts with loving one another.

52647725 - religious christian woman looking trough the stained glass church window light.woman praying to god at st. alexander nevsky cathedral.finding serenity in religion,faith and hope concept.enlightenment

It starts with listening and discussing with one another.

It starts with action.

It starts with serving one another.

There is hope. There is a loving Creator who is calling you to His Purpose.

Heed His Voice. Help one another. That’s what He wants you to do.

You’ll get through this.

Pain is a part of the breaking down of those old parts of us, so we can make room for growth.

May God bless all of you today.