Keeping a promise, even when it is scary.




When this picture popped up in my memories on Facebook, earlier this week, I got that same pit in my stomach that I had 6 years ago. Will this work, can we pay for it, did I go too far? Where am I going to get a million dollars to pay for this?? Total anxiety took over my body. You see, I have this larger than life dream, but can I really continue to give everything away for free and find amazing people across the world to do the same in their communities? The answer, I say with a little less anxiety, is YES! Why is the anxiety still there when the National Playhouse is built and serving thousands of people? Because the constant demand for more Playhouses and more acceptance is ever present and I never want to let anyone down. I made a promise to GiGi when she was just a baby that I would change the way the world saw her and all her friends with Down syndrome and I cannot go back on that promise.

I remember leaving that new building that night after the lease was signed and the work was being started. I distinctly remember my hands on the light switch as I turned them off. The place went completely black. In the silence, I remember hearing the click of the switch going down. I felt completely alone in the dark. It reminded me of a movie set when the lights go out, and it’s over. A paralyzing fear came over me that it was over. I went too far. Standing in the dark I began to panic. With anxiety building, tears filled my eyes, I always knew this was bigger than me and now it is all going to fall. In my panic, I started to pray. I prayed to my angel’s; I knew they would help calm me. It was then, I think I realized what God was trying to tell me. That this chapter was over but a bigger and brighter one was coming your way! My fear turned to gratitude and excitement.

Excitement for the future, excitement for the families, excitement that I could raise that money, excitement for the other Playhouses and excitement for life! That light switch was my Belief meter! I thought it was being turned off but what I didn’t realize it was just resetting itself for the bright new future to come! You see, we were not just building a state of the art 10,000 of new Playhouse we were also opening 10 new Playhouses that year and had just opened our first Playhouse outside of the US in Mexico! This wasn’t the end it was only the beginning of a whole new chapter!

When things feel like they are over, or that it is just too much you need to shift your thinking! Say a prayer, be thankful and positive! I don’t believe the status quo is where any of us were designed to be. We need to always challenge ourselves. I continue to challenge myself every day, even when I feel like I am failing miserably (which is a lot of the time!) I still look for the positives! Sometimes they are hard to find, and you have to dig deep, but you will find them. Usually in unexpected places.

When I watch how hard GiGi and all her friends work I am inspired to do more, be more. Don’t ever think you don’t have that strength in you, YOU are born with it, sometimes you just have to find it.

Six years later I am proud to say thousands of families and volunteers have been served and had their lives changed because of this National Playhouse, including me. I will never forget how afraid and alone I was when those workers were gone, and those lights went out. This picture first brings back that devastating fear but when I think it through it really symbolizes victory and what can happen when you challenge yourself and reach for your dreams. (no matter how scary it gets!!)

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  1. Michelle on September 9, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Thank you for your honesty ! I was at the DSDN retreat this weekend and visited my first GiGi play house while in Nashville . I too have made a promise to my son Mehki to bring a GiGi s to him… we live in Washington state! I hope to visit the original this year and hopefullly meet you as well! Thanks for dreaming BIG and keeping your promise💙💛💙

  2. Rhonda on September 9, 2019 at 8:02 am

    God is using you Nancy in BIG ways! Of course, you get anxious and scared because of these BIG dreams He lays on your heart. You can’t do it! But, HE CAN DO IT THROUGH YOU! Keep believing dear friend! You are one incredible Chief Belief Officer who has only just begun! Caden’s Nana (We’ve met at both Lakewood and North Canton, OH GiGi’s)

  3. Paula Akinola on September 9, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Nancy Gianni, you work tirelessly, you consistently support your vision and you remain forever optimistic even when the world says otherwise! You are a hero to so many of us!! We appreciate and love you so much!!

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