MEMORIES AND MEMORABILIA, AND THE JOURNEY ALONG THE WAY

All my life, I have been obsessed with how things used to be. I am 25 years old, but in age only. I love the way things used to be, whether it be in music, sports, you name it. Any piece of the past in something I love, I try to cling to it. Old guitars, ticket stubs from auto races long ago, vinyl records, old signs and books, I love it all. And on top of that, I am very much Mayberrian or Lake Wobegonian in my mindset, and although I don’t regret this, I do sometimes find myself standing out like a sore thumb, especially in my own generation. And sometimes, the journey through the past can be a painful one, but the knick-knacks and souvenirs picked up along the way continue to serve me well.

I often find myself not adhering to many things my generation glorifies and follows. That makes me somewhat odd in my friend circles, but I still hold steadfast. I still believe in true love. I still believe in the good in people. I still believe that there is hope. I still believe in loyalty, trust, support and taking time for yourself. I still believe that, some way, somehow, everything will get better. And if that isn’t the way to think, it’s certainly the way to pray.

Being an old soul has its perks, but it also has some pretty hefty drawbacks as well. If you’re not careful, those trips down Memory Lane can end in sadness at times, especially if you have an overactive, overthinking mind like myself. And it can be the littlest things that start you in on trips down that road. An old radio or TV commercial. An issue of a magazine. Smells of certain plants or foods. A song. A video of an old sporting event. Even the sound of the wind or the falling of snow. I have found myself taking that journey back in time off of these things and many more. And time was when I would think back to childhood, and it would make me sad. But these days, I look back sometimes, and while there is a twinge of sadness and longing for the safe harbors of yesterday, I can smile knowing I have the memories and the memorabilia to highlight the good times, while at the same time respecting the perspective that time has added to the not-so-good parts of the quarter-century I have spent on this earth.



I have mentioned my dear mother Nancy in past blogs. The memories I have of her are of her being a valiant, strong and ethereal force in my life, and being the fighter that I model myself after today. I didn’t know it at the time, but kid me was taking notes watching her and how she gracefully fought ovarian cancer for four years, after doctors only gave her six months at first diagnosis. Three memories of her stick out strongest in my mind, the first of which being her love of cooking. The lady never failed in anything she set her mind to in the kitchen, and if I put my mind to it at times, I can still taste her wonderful cooking. Whether it be something as simple to make as black gravy, or a full-on Thanksgiving feast, she excelled. Any time I smell fresh-made bread, I think of her, for she absolutely loved making homemade bread.

The second of these memories is of an excursion to the grocery store during a snowstorm, probably 20 years ago at this juncture. It was dumping the snow, so much so you could hardly see 10 feet in front of you, but still, mom persisted. I remember giant clumps of the heavy, wet snow hitting the windshield repeatedly. I remember making the comment of, “if one more of these things hits the windshield, I’m going to scream!” And just like that, the clumps of snow hitting the windshield stopped. To this day, whenever a heavy snow event occurs here in the mountains of my beloved North Carolina, I think of her and that moment.

The third one is of how she inadvertently planted the seed that sprouted into my love of auto racing, and NASCAR in particular. It was October 13, 2002, a Sunday night. Mom was flipping through the TV channels, when she landed on NBC’s coverage of the 500 mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jamie McMurray, who was in just his second-ever NASCAR Cup series event, held off 2000 series champion Bobby Labonte to win his first-ever race. I remember watching McMurray doing burnouts on the frontstretch, and looking at mom and asking quizzically, “why’s he spinning out like that, mom?” To which she just smiled and said, “because he’s happy.” With that, she planted a love of motorsports that still runs strong, 20 years on.



There are also the memories that are not pleasant. Seeing her laying on the couch, hardly able to move after chemo treatments zapped her energy. Holding her hand as she lay motionless on a hospital bed some days. Climbing “The Tree,” a winding and hilly stretch of road leading to Boone hospital. Having every eye fixated on me as I walked into class the day after she died, 18 years ago. And the ongoing pain I feel from those days. Some days, I wish it were I instead of her that left this life for the next one, but then she would have had to have been saddled with that pain, and I wouldn’t wish the pain on anyone. Though more days than not, I find myself looking back on those days-and feeling a sense of gratitude. Yes, it was difficult. Yes, it was painful. Yes, it completely changed and re-shaped me. But over the long arc of time, it helped me. It helped me realize that I can overcome anything thrown at me. I can ride the waves and weather the storms and still come out in one piece. And through low times and high alike, I have the memorabilia to show for it-not all of it physical, but all of it are keepsakes of this crazy, beautiful ride I am on. ❤️

I hope this blog finds you well, and I hope you mention in the comments what the knick-knacks, souvenirs and other memorabilia you’ve collected along your journey mean to you, and the impact they have on you!

As always, take care, much love, and may God richly bless you all

-Jon

SOUL TIES

I am someone who greatly values the importance and significance of forging soul ties in my life. I cherish these ties I have forged with the many wonderful people who have entered into my life, but the trade-off is that, with an overactive and often lying mind, even the slightest change in someone results in me thinking those close to me are pouring acid over the steel used in these soul ties, thus causing them to rust and weaken, and the bond to ultimately break.

Where this omnipresent and sometimes crippling fear originates from, I could not tell you. One could argue that it originates in the loss of mom 18 years ago, and that it is wrapped in the abandonment issues that must have stemmed from that. Still others could make a case for it being a part of seeing how many others in my life have done me, taking my word and running with it, and in some cases, using it against me. Although I have a much healthier and stronger team of friends and co-creators now, I often catch myself questioning even their allegiances to me, and if they will ultimately kick me to the curb or not.

This is something I’ve struggled with mightily over the span of my life. Especially recently. Whenever my closest friends make even a slight change-a change that more than likely won’t impact anything-my mind still sinks its teeth into it and tries to convince me that I am being put on the shelf, to do no more than collect dust in the lives of those around me. I have forged so many close connections with those I am co-creating with and making memories with, and I love and value those experiences. But lately, I catch myself wondering if I may have poured too much into those around me, and gave my all to those, when I should have been reserving part of me for myself and making my own memories and adventures.

I catch myself watching what I say around my friends, and what I open up about. I find myself walking on eggshells in their presence, worried silly about doing the wrong thing. Every missed call or unanswered Facebook message brings me significant consternation. It’s a forever high-wire act between trying not to say or do the wrong thing, and the fear that I already have. It is what it is, and what it is is hell. I often wonder if the same worry and care and love I have for my friends is reciprocated from them to me. After a life of second-guessing, and knives sticking out of my back many, many times, I sure do have my doubts about who all is in my corner at times.

But, slowly but surely, I am learning to dial myself back and not worry so much about what my brain might concoct. I know that the ones who truly have my back will continue to love and support me, no matter what might happen. And what changes my friends may enact in their lives won’t terminate the friendships and soul ties I have forged with them, more than likely. I am slowly learning to put my trust back into those around me, as more and more have shown their trust in me by opening up about various things in their lives, and seeing those them put their trust in me to carry these tidbits of knowledge with me, and to use them to help them in the grand scheme of things.

Thanks again for taking the time to read my most recent blog! In the comments, please share your experiences about soul ties, and if you have ever fought those fears of soul ties dissolving in your life, and how you got them back, if some of them did dissolve!

As always, take care, much love to you all, and may God richly bless,

-Jon

ON TINY ISLANDS, LONELINESS, SMALLNESS AND FIGHTING YOUR MIND

“Sometimes I feel like a tiny island, floating in the sea……..”

Today is the 77th birthday of one of my favorite guitarists, the inimitable Leo Kottke. And on such a day, I figured I would write a bit, and center it on a theme of a song he had on a record called Greenhouse 50 years ago, a cover of an Al Gaylor song called Tiny Island.



In my mind, I often find myself stranded on tiny islands. Feeling like I am stranded in a place where the only person I truly have is myself, a place hundreds of miles from those I love and cherish. A place where dark clouds and stormy gales are moving in, and I can do nothing but watch, and maybe put my hands over my head and curl into a ball for protection, if I can think clear enough to do so. And I write to you this day, September 11, 2022 from one of those sun-baked and lonesome islands in my head.

These tiny islands manifest themselves as feelings of smallness, forgottenness and abandonment, and feeling as though I’ve been placed on the shelf to collect dust. I know where this stems from. When I was 7 years old, I lost my mother, Nancy, at the all-too-young age of 44. My rock, my safe harbor from life’s great storms. The solid ground I walked on as a child. My sunlight and the North Star in my sky at night. Gone. At the all-too-young age of 7, I had this first taste of loneliness, forgottenness and smallness. And it’s a taste that has only grown more bitter to me over the long arc of time.

In the 18+ years since that day, I have been fighting those feelings tooth and nail. And like kudzu, they spread, wrapping their choking vines around friendships, relationships, creative partnerships, etc. Always feeling like I’m one comment or missed call away from a dissolution of said friendship, relationship or creative partnership. Always walking on eggshells with my view on certain things within my creative work or elsewhere. Going down dark rabbit holes and snapping off at people I love and care about, because I feel they are forgetting me. Being too clingy and overbearing, and slowly having those things drive a wedge between the folks I love and care about. Always having hellish and insanely unrealistic scenarios about friends and loved ones. Fearing I will wake up to bad news about someone I love and cherish. Feeling 50,000 pounds on my chest when someone I love and cherish does have bad news in their lives, knowing I can’t physically be there to help. Projecting my fears and concerns on those around me, and my mind trying to pin those fears onto those around me, and trying to paint them in a bad way. People pleasing. Losing sleep. Backsliding in my mental health. Shutting down. The loneliness and need to feel accepted has cost me dearly, and very nearly cost me everything a couple of times.

But, on those tiny islands I find myself on, I am finding something I’d not noticed before now: Bottles washing up on the shore with messages inside them. Messages of folks relating their experiences to mine. Messages of love, hope, care, and help. Messages of support. Messages I desperately needed to hear. I have had it in my head for so long that I and only I could fight my way off these islands and swim to help, even though the waters are infested with sharks and the waves are high and whitecapped. But I am no longer alone in these struggles. I finally have a viable, healthy and loving support system in the many who have stepped up to help me in my fight, including one Em Farwell, one of the founders of this very site. In these kind, loving, sweet and wonderful people, I have a team who are willing and ready to roll up their sleeves and chop wood and help me build a boat to sail off these islands with, toward calmer waters and islands with my friends and loved ones on them.

Though it doesn’t come without those friends having a healthy dose of patience and VERY long fuses. Even with the support team, I still find myself having to weather storms that move in. I have to sometimes encounter parts of my path forward that are flooded. I have to sometimes cope with the fact that my torch lighting my way gets put out due to the rain and wind. But at least I have these friends to turn to when storm fronts move in over me. In their friendship, kindness, patience, love and understanding, I have a home with impenetrable and unbreakable walls. I have a home where the bonds are strong, the love runs deep and has solid roots, the foundation is sturdy, and the roof over my head provides cover from all that life may throw at me. Sincerely grateful am I, for these people that are willing to share my experience and help me in my journey, and are not afraid of getting rained on and getting battered by the wind at times.

I hope this blog has inspired you to reach out and find your team that will be a home to you, and will be boat-builders and shelters from the storm in your life!

Much love, all the best, and may God richly bless,

-JP

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j5ilgP1Ov8

MOVING AT THE SPEED OF LIFE

My name is Jonathan Phipps. I am 25 years old, and at a time where I should be full-throttle in my journey forward in life, but at this juncture, I find myself wanting to take my foot off the accelerator and just coast for a bit. I want to enjoy the scenery I am surrounded by, both in my personal, physical life and in my mind, each and every day. Long story not so long, I have been moving at the speed of life, and it’s time to dial down, hit cruise control, and let the road unfold before me.

A bit of context on this: Since April of 2021, I have been a show host, director, producer and content creator for Cosmos Creative TV. CCTV is a budding network that myself and my dear friend Renee founded, as one way of taking our foot off the accelerator in our lives, at a time when we needed it desperately. But in the ever constant fram-and-bam and bump-and-grind of being a creative with a revving heart and a double-barrel mind, it’s easy to find yourself right back in the rat race. And sometimes, we don’t realize the toll it takes on us and the damage it can cause to us, physically, mentally and spiritually.

I had lied to myself for so long. Seeing people falling about in their mental health journeys and saying to myself, “that’ll never be me. I’ll know when to pull out. I’ll have an exit plan.” Swearing time and again I would step back if it got to be too much. Promising I would take the actions to get my mental health reigned in. Saying aloud that I would never let my work life and my personal life intertwine with each other.

And those words sound like Shakespeare sonnets to you, until you actually have to implement them.

I had told myself truckloads of lies about my mental health and stepping away from Cosmos. Until I found myself at a place I had only really experienced once before, in 2018.

I found myself sharpening knives to open my wrists and end my life.

I found myself wanting to jump from an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I found myself losing interest and joy in things I once loved.

I found that my creative refuge, my apple orchard safe haven from the real world had been poisoned due to my mental health.

I found myself going back to the fans time and again, when I was threadbare and in desperate need of a hand to hold onto.

I found myself losing sleep night after long night, worrying over shows and having hellish and wildly unrealistic scenarios in my head about friends and co-creators within the network.

I found that, even in things I love and enjoy, such as attending races, traveling, etc, I was always going back to the happenings within Cosmos, and in turn was being leeched of any joy I could have gleaned from these events.

In short, I was moving at the speed of life, and had inevitably found the concrete wall I was going to smash into at some point.

I am early in this crash repair/slowing down process, but I am learning tons of new things in this new leg of the journey. Learning how to conserve my energy, and not burn out too quick. Much like the racers that have run at my home racetrack (North Wilkesboro Speedway), I am learning to make the most of what I have, and not use it all up in one shot. It’s a lifelong process, not a five minute, run-like-your-ass-is-on-fire sprint. And also, I am learning that it’s perfectly OK to run your own pace, instead of letting others dictate what you do and when you do it. And to be perfectly frank, these are lessons I took entirely too long to learn. But the beautiful thing about this is, there’s no expiration date on when you can learn these things. It’s never too late to run your own race at your own speed. Persistence and patience will land you in Victory Lane, if you have the willingness to do these things. And at the young-but-old age of 25, I am drinking from the fountain of knowledge every single day on this.

I hope my maiden voyage on this wonderful site has inspired you to take your foot off the gas and coast for a while and enjoy the scenery, and I hope you accept me and my story, as I tell it here over the next long while!

Much love and all the best,

-Jon

MOTHER’S DAY IS COMPLICATED

For many, Mother’s Day comes with conflicting emotions, triggered by all of the Hallmark-esque, posts, & comments of perfect children, perfect mothers, & perfect lives.

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MY DOGS

  • dog [ dawg, dog ] noun
  • faithful companion, snuggle buddy, depression buster, biggest fan, gentle caretaker, hiking partner, emergency alert system, unconditional love bug, never-let-a-crumb remain on the floor vacuum, best friend, squirrel chasing, unfailing hero, personal trainer, fierce protector, motivational coach, alarm clock, doorbell, official guest greeter, sled puller, chicken wrangler, hole digger
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Just Another Badass Warrior