Blogger: JB McCann – “The Phoenix”
The title of my blog says it all. I am the same woman in 2019, that I was only a few weeks ago. However, this year, I’m stepping it up to a new level. My goals for this year have been in motion for a while, but now that the time is upon me…I’ve never been more “ready” for this next stretch of life.
How can I be so confident that my plan will hold up? Well, I guess I don’t know for sure. I do know that no matter how much I achieve or lose this year, it won’t be from lack of effort or heart. I did some major soul searching in 2018, and I think I’ve finally unleashed my inner beast. How? What did I do to gain such insight in only 365 days? It’s so easy. You will laugh as I tell you the epiphany that hit me on Jan. 1st, 2019, and gave me a subtle grin I can’t wipe off now.
First off, I had to realize that whatever is being thrown my way is part of a season…just a simple chapter in a bigger book. Whatever happens today, does not stop tomorrow from coming my way. I spent too many nights letting the feeling that a moment, place, thought will define me forever. I learned that the best part of life does not lie in the moment, but in the dreams that have yet to manifest into reality. I must give myself some well-deserved space to clear out the things that no longer serve me, and replace them with the love and strength from within. Once this confidence is rooted, there’s nothing that life could throw at me that can take me down forever.
Trust me, I wasn’t always a self-doubter. Matter of fact, for most of my life, my confidence has been the one astounding trait that has weathered the toughest of storms. It was genuine and modest. It was rooted in faith. I wasn’t starting from scratch in 2018. It was more like I was on a road trip, and running low on gas with not a station in sight for 100 miles, and that was exactly how many miles I had on my odometer before I broke down. It took all I had in me to make it to this fill station. But, hey, now that I am filling back up, I realize there was no need to think about the negative what-ifs. I just needed to focus on the certainty… I will always make it to the next chapter. My messy chapters can seem like a step back to some. Not to me. I see it as simply texture and depth to a beautiful book I’m nowhere near done writing.
I had to realize that SHAME and GUILT are very different things. I learned several things about myself this year. They weren’t my finest moments. I had to really sit with those choices and categorize them accordingly. I noticed this one most with my son. His diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder explained so many things for us as parents. The revelation also came with a sea of self-loathing and shame. Why didn’t we see it? The phrase “if I had known”, flooded my home so many times. If we had known he had these “special needs”, we would have addressed “X” this way. Immediately, there was shame smeared all over my husband and I for being so caught up in hitting professional milestones, academic benchmarks, etc. that we figured our son’s outbursts and tantrums were somehow a product of something outside our home…the school, the other kids…or even, god forbid this was it…he was simply an entitled brat? When we realized what was REALLY going on, we had to sit down and redo our entire parenting strategies.
Now that we all are on the same page, the next thing my therapist and I focused on was turning shame to guilt. It was something my son had to learn as well. He was so used to being told “Ollie, why won’t you listen?” or “Ollie, you know that’s not ok”. He, too, had shame. He was mad at himself for not just “getting it” like the normal kids. Here we all were…ashamed…ashamed for not knowing, ashamed for being too logical, ashamed for letting frustrations limit our communication. The list could go on for days. To help my son, I had to teach him the very skills I, myself, had very little of in 2018. I had to turn shame into guilt.
How do you do this? Easy. I told my son that SHAME is when we are mad at ourselves for causing the situations we are in. GUILT is when we acknowledge the ACTION was inappropriate to the situation and WE, the person, must change the chosen action. That way, we admit when we are wrong, but we maintain our confidence in ourselves that we can choose a more effective choice next time. Sounds simple, huh? Probably so. Believe it or not, this skill isn’t taught to us all. Shame has claimed more lives than anything on this planet. It depletes our faith in ourselves. It tells the subconscious that “you”, the person, is somehow innately “bad”, and therefore incapable of growth. It’s an evil thought process that fuels depression, eating disorders, addiction, and it does not care at all about your social class. You can be the wealthiest, most famous person on earth, and if you have shame deep in your heart…your self-worth will crumble when you least expect it.
Guilt, on the other hand, THAT little feeling…that feeling gives you compassion, hope, and a sense that light can be found even in the darkest of rooms. Guilt is humbling. It’s supposed to make you open your eyes to how your choices affect others, without demoralizing your character permanently. I needed my son to see that his outbursts in class, his ticks, his sensitivity to loud noises…while he was guilty of the actions that disrupted his classmates, he didn’t need to be ashamed of who he is. As I told him this, I was also taking notes. I must not beat myself up about the past. I must be open to trying new tactics to achieve the same goals at a speed and disposition that doesn’t push me or those I love outside our capacities.
Lastly, in 2018, I think I was a tad too sensitive. I was burnt out from giving more than I ever asked in return. I was bitter about certain career choices I had made that didn’t pan out like I had hoped. I was annoyed by teachers & sitters all telling me my kid was disruptive. I was over people walking on me. Finally, I just stopped living by the motto “do unto others as you want done to you”, and I simply started just saying no. No, you can’t talk to me like that. No, I don’t want to get to know you. You seem super shallow, and I just can’t. No, I don’t want to work for you. You only care about yourself. I had turned from sweet, “sure, anything you want!” chick, to an “I will cut you if you try to screw me over or judge my kid” kind of lady. I was SCARY, you guys, and I hated this version of myself so much, so fast. Look, life didn’t give me much to work with the past two years. I’ll give you the full debriefing over coffee if you really want it. Brace yourself…it’s colorful and at some point, we will have to switch to decaf to shake the jitters. But seriously, I became this no shit-taking, direct, loud woman, and I realized I had lost almost all my consideration. Were my testimonies valid? Yes. Did I have a right to speak my mind and stand up for myself? Yes, but I had lost my ability to maintain tact. I had forgotten the art of being considerate by the end of 2017. One awkward situation at a time in 2018, I found my way back to me. I gained some backbone this past year, but there were some moments I really took my boldness too far. Yes, ladies and gents, you can do that. So, in 2019, I am checking myself regularly to ensure my assertive nature, and my gentle heart are working together to tackle whatever lies ahead.
And well, that’s really it. Told you it was simple.
Every year, I choose a word to focus on for the new year that will elevate me to a new level. Forward ever. Backward never. That’s the saying my husband always says when things are tough. I applaud his optimism for the future. On the contrary, I always look back and pick a few keywords that maybe could use some polishing up. To know where you are going, you must know where you’ve been, right?…at least, that’s what the Cheshire Cat taught me. So, before I completely redirect my eyes to the road ahead, I encourage you to take a quick glance back to the road you just walked. Study the bends, the trends, the patterns, the landscape. Don’t judge the path you chose. That will do you no good now. No shame in trying something you thought was for you. You may be guilty of taking a few wrong turns. Either way, here you are today. This road is not done. If you want to enjoy this life ahead of you, you better have confidence you can face anything life puts in your path, clarity of what this debris on the road really is; and consider yourself fortunate that you have another day to build something special in your future.
JB McCann has worked in “The Biz” for almost a decade, yet she’s somehow managed to keep her feet firmly on the ground. Her altruistic spirit aims to evoke your Inner Phoenix and encourage readers to take the difficult leaps in life, so you can continue to grow.