Tag Archives: life

A WELL-SPENT LIFE

Death is a part of life. There is no way we can avoid it, the best we can do is take the steps necessary to postpone it, in the right circumstances. And no matter how we may view it, it nevertheless hits us hard in at least some aspects, whether we care to admit it or not. But for a death to hit us hard means that the person who shed the mortal coil left their mark on us. They may have encouraged us or showed us love, been a bright shining light to us in the darkness, gave us advice on how to best move forward through a tough situation, or just was there for us through mountaintops and valley floors alike. It could be someone you never met in person, someone you saw every day, or even someone you only met once years ago. Their memory and legacy will live on through the lives they touched. And maybe, they will have encouraged you to live your fullest and best life, to take the bad and the good with a smile on your face, and showed you a pathway forward in your own journey.




Earthly angels come in all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and walks of life. Some have had to scale mountains and swim oceans to get to us. Some just seemed to appear right out of the ether. Some came to us when we cried out for help. Some knew we needed a listening ear and a guiding hand long before we ourselves did. Some of them taught us that, even in the most ragged, tattered parts of our lives, there is still a silver lining, there are still reasons to smile. Some of them showed us that hurt is not the end-all-be-all, that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and some of them blessed us with how they did it, how they overcame and thrived, and how we could take their wisdom and apply it to our own lives. Some of them we knew only as folk heroes. Some of them we had the fortune of rubbing elbows with, or sharing stages with, or trading conversation with over a cup of coffee and a sandwich, or a cold pint of beer.

Most of all, these people showed us how to live a well-spent life. Not every part of it will be red and rosy. There will be storms with hail and wind and worse, trying to destroy the flower garden of peace inside of us all. There will be times where the road is rough. There will be times where the best maps cannot guide us. But with the blessing of those people’s presence in our lives, we can understand how to carry on and lace up our bootstraps and pull ourselves out of the muck and the mire, and continue onward toward daylight again. They pushed us to write that book, or record that album, or paint that picture, or express that love or affection. They showed us how to be ourselves, loudly, proudly, unashamedly and wholly. And if they are still in our midst, they will continue to spread their seeds wherever they go in this world. And if they have left this life for the next one, we can still admire what they’ve grown, and take comfort in the shade, color or beauty of what they planted, both in their own lives, and in the lives in which we live.

I hope this blog finds you well, and in the comments, please highlight someone who showed you these tips and tricks.

Wholeheartedly,

-Jon



This blog is dedicated to the life and memory of William Orten Carlton, aka Ort.

LIFE, HAPPINESS, AND THE WAY IT USED TO BE

On this Sunday evening that I am writing this to you, I decided to do a story reading on my personal Facebook page. Nothing out of the ordinary for me, as I have in recent weeks been doing an increased number of them, as I set about publishing a poetry or short story book of my own in the future. I elected to do a reading from a book I had gotten in the mail the day before, a book by Garrison Keillor called Lake Wobegon Days. I read a section of a story in the book called “Fall”, and went for just under an hour in the reading that I did. After I had closed the stream, I decided to take a look through the log of streams that I had done from the amount I have on the streaming platform I use. It is the same one I have used many times, in hosting shows and recording interviews, doing poetry reading or concerts, etc. And virtually thumbing through the stream log, I saw many things that I had did over the past 18+ months I had been using that platform. Many memories came back to me. And a twinge of sadness darkened my door once again.



I remembered back to those salad days of my virtual creative journey. How I thought I had the tiger by the tail. How I thought I was on the cusp of reeling in the interview, the one that would get my name out there, How I thought I was growing alongside my creative friends, not knowing the strain and worry, spats and darkness that would come in the future. And it made me wonder: Has it always been this way? Has this feeling been a cornerstone of my life?

As mentioned many times prior in my blogs, I’m always one to slink back to the past at times, to the way things used to be. In some part of my mind, I think that, if I go back to that point, I will find a little retreat of happiness, like a shelter or lean-to on a long trail, a tiny roadside chapel on a highway, or something similar. But I catch myself looking back at those places I go to in my mind, and I remember what I was going through during those times. And in many instances, I was absolutely not happy or satisfied or whatever in that period. I often find that I was in a less-amplified state of where I am currently; though the difference in then from now is, back then, I didn’t have as many aggravating factors in my life. I did not have commitments, meetings, shows, platonic and romantic feelings and terrors of creative failure………

…….But I damn sure paid no attention to the mental scars I bore that were weeping and festering, nor did I pay attention to the tornado-in-a-china-shop state of affairs in my heart, mind and soul, and how my happiness and peace of mind were in complete tatters, ragging in the breeze.

So were times ever really better? Or are these times in which we live really the good ol’ days?

It all boils down to perspective. One could easily look back at where I came from in my life and where I am now and say, ‘well, he was a lot better off in the past, if ignorance really is bliss.’ I could have kept putting off the inevitable and kept putting on a happy face and kept going out into the world, wearing my heart on my sleeve, and making cries for help that I thought at the time would go unanswered. I could have kept staying awake until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning stressing over factors and people that were many miles outside my control. I could have kept bottling everything up inside, and letting feelings and fears and emotions control my every move. I could have kept doing it.

But at this very moment, I have so many more tools than I had 10 years ago, 5 years ago or even just a single month ago. Yes, I may have a lot more things going on that amplifies what I go through on the inside, and I may have more eyeballs on me at every turn, and more people willing to spout off with a comment. But, at the same time, I have outlets to channel into when I feel down. I have a therapist I am seeing once weekly. Many of my friendships and creative partnerships are stronger and tighter than they’ve ever been. And I am starting to fall in love with the idea of living again. I am addressing what desperately needed to be said, and in turn, beginning to clean, dress and heal those wounds in my soul. While I may not have my mother in my life, I now have 10 ladies carrying her power and grace at any given time.

So in some ways, the traits of the old me served me well. But in a many myriad of different ways, the me of today is much stronger, with thicker skin, clearer eyes and sharper visions, and with renewed goals for tomorrow. And for that, I am grateful. ❤

I hope this blog finds you well, and in the comments, talk about how you’ve overcome obstacles in your past, and how you can focus on the good of the past!

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

-Jon

WAKE UP IN MY SHOES

Wake up in my shoes.

I slept. It wasn’t long, probably less than an hour. But I slept. As I awaken, I thank God for another day. Now comes the worst part of my entire day.

My eyes open, not fully, just enough to let a sliver of light in. My morning is seen through the sandman’s sleepy seed remains, in the corner of my eyes. I contemplate opening them further. I’m not yet ready.

I’ve talked before about that first step. It brings me excruciating pain & remains the most difficult step, I’ll take all day. I lie in my bed for a long time slowly talking myself into getting up. I’m finally ready, I’m full of dread and drag my legs to the side of the bed. I sit there and again give myself a pep talk. I set my first foot on the floor, then my second. I feel around to get my feet in my slippers. I sit awhile and then push myself up onto my feet. I’m standing. I did it.

There it is, my morning kick start…pain. It starts in my feet and crawls up my legs into my back and ends at the base of my skull. It feels like every bone, muscle, tendon, nerve, every single fiber of my existence is on fire. I’m in my head screaming, this will end, this will end, this WILL end! It takes me a minute to refocus on the task at hand & I eventually take that first step. Other steps follow and over about an hour the pain subsides.

Here’s the thing, my pain tolerance is high. I’ve endured nagging, lingering pain for over a decade with this disease. My pain level holds at around seven all day, every day. The pain of those first steps is so far beyond measurable on the pain scale, it’s impossible to convey. Starting my day is physically & mentally exhausting.

I go to bed every night knowing I will play this whole scenario out again for all of my tomorrows. Here’s the miracle in this story. Every day I’ve been lucky enough to wake up. So far I have a perfect record for taking that first step. I’ve managed to survive the pain 100% of the time. I have a full & happy life. It’s just more challenging than it used to be & some days I have to surrender & let pain win. But the next day I take that first step again.

I know that many of you can relate in some way to this post. You’re not alone, I’m proud of you & never forget the amount of strength that first step takes. You slay dragons before your feet even hit the floor & that is badass. Carry on Warrior.

THE REALITY WE KNOW NO LONGER EXISTS

As may be the case with some of you reading this blog post today, I am a sucker for the past, the way things used to be. Many nights, I find myself drifting off to sleep listening to old radio airchecks, or an album from decades ago, or even episodes of old dramas from an era gone by. To say nothing of the old sports highlights I cherish, the various pieces of memorabilia from the past I have collected, the classic cars I gawk at when I see them, and the beautiful sound of old guitars. Ditto for friendships, relationships, talks had in the past, some with complete strangers. The reality of the past is a safety blanket, and can be very useful in moderation. But as quickly as those warm, nostalgic feelings settle in over me, a cold chill flashes up my spine and puts the freeze on my mind. And riding on the frosty wave is a realization:

The reality we know no longer exists.

In the hustle and bustle of living in today’s realm, it is awfully tempting to pull off the path and look back. It’s so easy to take a turn down Memory Lane and reminisce about the way things used to be. But if you’re not careful, especially if you are an empath, you can quickly find yourself entangled in and being choked by the vines of yesterday. We will always savor a fragrance, a kiss, a hug, a touch, or sweet conversation. We will always cling to the memories of that one house or apartment, the way the light shone through the trees in a friend’s backyard, long and aimless road trips under the stars, even the sound of a new-strung guitar or the first taste of wine. Memories can be boons, but they can also be banes in our lives, hassling us, making us yearn for a situation or environment, friendship or relationship we’ve since grown out of, but still one we feel comfortable in, if for no other reason than it’s all that we knew at the time.

In my case, I have many attachments to the past. Some of these are healthy and warming, such as memories of where I was for certain sports moments, my first time visiting places, the first time I wrote a song on the guitar, etc. But still, there remains many attachments to the past that drain me and serve me no purpose other than to weight me down, such as seeing friends and loved ones suffering, thoughts of romantic relationships that never played out or blew up in my face, finding things out about friends and partners you once held close to you and in high regard, missed opportunities, no matter how small or large they may be. As much as the past comforts me, it also haunts me with its ragged whispers and icy fingers at times.



While I cannot claim to have an end-all-be-all solution to breaking those attachments and moving on, some of the things I have tried includes talking it out to someone, whether it be to a therapist, close friends, etc. Better still, if you are attached to someone from your past or even someone in your present, talk it out with them. Being honest with them and about how you are feeling can be as rewarding and healing as being honest with your own self in regard to the situation. Additionally, expunge the bad, dark memories from your mind about someone or a past situation or environment. If these revolve around a friend, lover or family member, remember the bright times you had with them, the laughs and smiles you shared, the places you went, and the time well spent. If they revolve around a situation or environment you left, turn those feelings into congratulations to yourself, for escaping that place and landing yourself in a new place that encourages your growth, healing and prosperity.

I hope this blog finds you well, and in the comments on this blog, feel free to share tips or tricks you have at dissolving attachments and adapting to the reality/realities of today!

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

-Jon


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