Please share this young mans story. We NEED more Sam Pressler’s in the world. When Sam contacted me a few years ago with his vision for the Armed Services Arts Partnership I could feel his passion. I held zero doubt he was the REAL DEAL! A young man of ACTIONS that followed up smart, compassionate & thought out words. He went on to make the Forbes list of “30 Under 30” for his work with Military Veterans, Active Duty & Families. Thank you Kerri Furey and everyone at The Hampton Roads Show for shining the spotlight on a phenomenal person! Congrats Sam! #inspirational
“It’s ok to be ignorant, it’s not ok to stay that way” – William Esper
The first time I heard those words I was sitting as a student in Bill Esper’s class. They pierced me so hard that they instantly became a principal I’ve lived by ever since. I sit here broken by the world’s loss and re-enforced by the foundation he gave to so many.
For myself, Bill guided and showed a dyslexic, blue-collar, military veteran, comedian that he had more to offer and there was much more he had yet to be exposed to. He re-awakened a stagnant will for learning while refueling my curiosity in people who live a life much different from my own. The people, the moments shared & the friendships I have been blessed with from The William Esper Studio could fill a thousand books. It’s a chapter in my life I cherish.
I think this exchange from when I sat down with Bill for the studio acceptance interview captures the journey perfectly.
Bill – “Have you acted in any theatre, tv or films?”
Me – “I was in Larry The Cable Guys – “Delta Farce”
Bill – “Well… we can only go up from there”.
Thank you Bill. Your lessons continue to settle in… RIP
Been separate from booze for over a decade now. Let this be an example to whoever might be fighting to change something about themselves. Over the course of time, my behavior transformed. It was a significant shift in my mind, surroundings & how I carry myself. I never participated in a program (I’m not knocking those – do what is needed for you!) My support came in what I wanted for my future, who I wanted to be and my friends and family have been my rock. I also lean on a couple of things that I constantly carry in my head, which I’ll share…
One – I do not want my future kids to witness what I did as a child. This is not me complaining or placing blame. It was simply removing the one clear constant pain that kept true happiness at bay for me. They say happiness is a state of mind. I say environment contributes to joy. I had never been in the right environment for myself. That had to change.
Two – The words of my friend Alexa Fitzpatrick, who I have leaned on, trusted, respected & been inspired by throughout my life. Without Alexa’s words and friendship, I could never write these words today. This is me saying I could NOT have done it alone. Early on she said to me “you are an okay guy when you drink, you are a phenomenal guy when you don’t”. I am far from a phenomenal guy. Us entertainers tend to exaggerate just a tad. I’d have gone with extraordinary, remarkable or sensational. Phenomenal seems a bit much 😉 But her words stuck. They have stayed with me in dark times of self-doubt. I’ve repeated them to myself often over the years. I wanted, want & continue to work towards being the person she feels I have the potential to be.
I share this because, if I can change something of this size within my life, YOU can as well! Whatever it might be. YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN! I’m an Irish-American, Navy Veteran, Comedian who does not touch a drop of alcohol. I drank. I drank a lot. Now I don’t. This is not me patting myself on my back or looking for compliments. My journey and struggles continue. I’d be a moron to think I’m any further along then I was on day one. It’s just me putting an example out to the universe as a possibility of being helpful to someone else. A “well if this knucklehead can do that, than I could definitely do (insert life changes here)” 😂
It takes will to remove the cause of pain, a real look at yourself, focus on your clear goal, a bit of grit, a whole lot of f*ck you and, most importantly, Support! I have been fortunate enough to get it from people who love me.
I have also had people tell me “you can’t do it!” People who have treated me differently for my choice. The answer there is to use it…love your haters and make them wrong. Because here is the benefit of fighting and staying on the winning side of your battles. It WILL bleed into all other aspects of your life. It WILL bring that distant vision closer. It WILL lead you to your own personal shift.
Damn! Did I just become a straight up Guru?
On the serious side, over the years I have shared my journey with people who have come to me with their own struggles. I think I’ve helped some and I know I didn’t help others. Take this the same way and know you’ve got a friend in this (trying to be) “phenomenal guy.” 😂
I’ve been blessed by the benefits of friendships. This is way I’m such a believer in the ASAP programs.
We’ve all asked ourselves “what’s next?” when we come face-to-face with difficult decisions, uncertainty, or major transitions in our lives. And no matter what the situation is, our response has the capacity to affect our identity, our sense of purpose, and our ability to grow and thrive. From now until Sunday, November 11th (Veterans Day), we’ll be running our #WhatsNext fundraising campaign and asking you to consider investing in what’s next for our community. As we’ve witnessed the difficulties faced by veterans, service members, and military family members in transitions to and from service, we’ve also seen the impact of providing veterans and their families an outlet to determine what’s next through the arts. What’s next is learning new skills that translate to all elements of life. What’s next is deriving purpose by writing, honing, and sharing your stories with others. And what’s next is finding a community to which you truly belong. But what’s next is only possible with your help.
Every gift you give throughout our #WhatsNext Campaign will be matched on a one-to-one basis up to $10,000 – that means the impact of your donation will be doubled! Each contribution will help us get one step closer to our goal of raising $25,000 through Veterans Day, helping to support over 300 veterans and military families through our classes and workshops in 2019. If you’re ready to help veterans, service members, and military family members define what’s next through community and creativity, please visit our campaign page and consider donating at give.classy.org/WhatsNext.