BY: JB McCann – “The Phoenix”
Before I lose all my readers and friends, let me say how thankful I am to have people in my life. I value your presence. I truly do, but what I miss most about “friendship” is the art of silence. I miss those days when a friend comes over, hears you out, let’s you cry super hard, and just sits there. They don’t try to cheer you up, or try to push you to react; they simply hold space, a quiet space where you can break and rebuild yourself when you are ready.
Lately, I’ve been told I am always the one with a plan. I am the one that motivates, elevates, and inspires, but I have a confession. Right now, I am very much the opposite of these things. I’ve lost my dad, my stepmom, my grandpa, my dog of 16 years, and a few good friends in the past 2 years. I’m about to lose my godfather and my grandma to terminal cancer. All I am able to do right now is exist and learn to accept loss. It’s the most humbling experience of my life, and while I know I will get my groove back, at this moment, I just want to sit in silence and be present.
As the holidays approach, I try to think about what I am thankful for…why I am here in this life? And my core values are still intact. I am thankful for my kids, my husband, my family, my neighbors, my women’s group, and most of all, my passions that have weathered this storm of emotions with me yet remained strong. However, for once in my life, I am without words and it feels merited, at least for now.
Recently, I went to Georgia to take care of my godfather and spend time with my grandma in hospice. It was in those moments of stagnant time spent that I realized how much of my life I have spent in “on” mode. Since the day I was born, I have been in serious survival mode. My home life was always changing. My parents never got along. Madness was always right around the corner it seemed. So, you can imagine how relieved I was when I graduated high school. I hit the ground running to make a better life for myself. I guess I feared if I ever just paused, sat quietly, then maybe I would miss an opportunity to grow.
In all honesty, I was right. I spent my 20’s with blinders on and the end game in sight. This focus and determination lifted me over hurdle after hurdle until it got me where I am now. I’m a mom of 2, running both my production services business, & my husband’s sign painting business. I’m even about to launch one more endeavor in June 2019, that could be my greatest contribution to society yet. More on that later, but the point is this…focus and drive were crucial for me straight out of the gate. It’s pushed me from mile marker 1 to mile marker 10 in this marathon of life. However, somewhere around marker 9, the blinders got ripped off and I was forced to see the scenery around me. It wasn’t pretty but it needed me. So, I had to stop dead in my tracks and handle what I saw.
The last few years have not been about me at all. It’s been about investing my time, not my voice, to many I left in my dust when I finally decided to “do me”. I guess I thought time would always be on my side. I had been a loyal, “good” kid all my life, so surely if I took a decade to really invest in me, no one would notice, right?
I’m at a loss for words realizing how very wrong I was to think this way. I’m not upset at my choices in life. Self-care is important. But that wasn’t what I was doing for the past decade. I was filling voids with fundraisers and volunteering. I was consuming dead space with red carpet events and fancy wrap parties. I was avoiding hard talks for fear of being vulnerable. I just wanted to be the girl who beat the odds so bad that I forgot to give myself a break and enjoy the journey.
And when I hit Marker 10 and life literally threw a nail strip in my path, I learned real quick that the only way out of this one was to flip the “off” switch and sit in silence until the world around me stopped spinning. I’m almost ready to start running again. But for the next 8 miles in this particular race, I’m gonna try a different tactic. It’s not about blinders. It’s gonna be about observation and strategy.
I’m going to make time to sit in the woods alone and just listen to nothing. I’m gonna have hard talks and follow up by holding space, not giving advice. I’m going to accept that I don’t know everything and that’s ok. And I’m going to say “no” if asked to join or do something that may push me beyond my capacity.
All I really want for Christmas is silence. My world is still spinning. This nail strip has not been lifted yet, but at least I am now brave enough to lift my face from the pavement, stand quietly in the middle of this storm, and let my roots hold me steady. I don’t have to cheer up. I don’t have to have motivation. I don’t have to listen to advice. I just have to stand in silence, be a little off, and learn whatever I can from this delay in my marathon.
My hope is that I don’t see this time in life as a pause, but more of an awakening to a deeper part of my soul. I ask friends and family to not lose faith in me. And maybe, just maybe…you will have a moment to sit with me in silence.
Love and Hugs,