As we continue our series today, Beautifully Human...
We focus on the beauty of humans and the power in their stories…
Through telling their stories we hope to connect this world. To spread strength, love, and humanity...
To show a common thread of beautiful humans…
This week we go to Asheville, North Carolina with Lindsay Phipps to hear her incredible story...
I met Lindsay through her husband on a weekend visit to Asheville years ago. What I remember is how sweet of a person she is. Very welcoming and easy to get along with.
Let’s all be beautifully human…
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Lindsay Phipps / Asheville, North Carolina
Tell me a story that shaped your life…
- My great-grandmother died in 2013. We didn’t have a particularly close relationship. That isn’t to say that I didn’t love her, we just weren’t best friends or anything. When she passed, I don’t even remember if I cried until her funeral. And even then, it wasn’t until the old out-of-tune piano whined out the first few measures of “Amazing Grace” that the tears began to flow.
I had lost my faith many years before that, but there was just something about being in that stuffy little church in the middle of nowhere East Tennessee, surrounded by family and friends who loved my Mamaw that moved me more than any amount of faith could.
My Uncle Johnny (now also laid to rest) read an anecdote at Mamaw’s funeral. The basic was idea was that things in life don’t always go as planned, but we should all carry on. The final line of the story was “life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.”
He said the story reminded him of Mamaw because she had carried on for 98 years, and surely she had experienced the injustice of this world but was too stubborn to let go until she absolutely had to. She loved her family too much to leave this world without us knowing how blessed we are to have each other.
My husband and I had moved to Asheville, NC a few months before her passing, and I was miserable.
The move had not been kind to me and I was having a really hard time finding my footing. I’d never really experienced feelings of anxiety or depression until then.
When Mamaw died, I was still having trouble adjusting to the move and my newfound mental health concerns. I was homesick, even though home was only an hour over the mountain. So when my mom and grandmother asked me to help clear out Mamaw’s condo I didn’t hesitate. I went over to help a couple of times and every time I was told to take anything I wanted because everything in the house was going to be donated.
I took a few things here and there, mostly because I felt guilty for not spending more time with Mamaw near the end. The very last time I was in her house, I was walking out of the kitchen and noticed a small decorative plate hanging on the wall. That plate had probably hung in that same spot my entire life but I’d never noticed it until that moment. The plate had a little girl surrounded by cats and written below: “Count your blessings, not your troubles.” For some reason, this little plate spoke to me on a level I didn’t know existed. I grabbed it off the wall and brought it home.
I hung that plate on the wall on my side of the bed, and it hangs there still today. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up, and the last thing I see before I fall asleep. It’s a constant reminder to focus on what brings me joy. I need reminding some days more than others, but that little plate has pulled me out of darkness more times than I’d care to admit.
It’s strange to me that something so small and seemingly insignificant has had such a huge impact on my life. I will spend the rest of my life counting my blessings, not my troubles and remembering that life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
Tell me a story of hope…
- One morning I was leaving for work and saw a giant leaf bug on my car. I didn’t think much of it until I got to work and she was still there. A little while later I had to go to the bank and came out to find her still hanging out on my car. I figured it was time to name her, so I started calling her Eliza. When I got to the bank, I was surprised to see her still hanging on. I was less surprised to find her still in my company when I returned to work. At this point, I was becoming attached to Eliza in some weird way and wanted to make sure she made it safely back home. On my lunch break, I went out and gently scooped Eliza into a coffee cup for easy transport. It was then that I noticed she was missing a leg.
Whether she lost it prior to her travels or during I can not say. I brought Eliza inside and poured a little water in the cup in case she was thirsty (do bugs even get thirsty?) and secured the lid so she wouldn’t escape until it was safe. We made the trip back home, Eliza snug in my cup holder, and finally her journey was complete. I released her back into the familiar wild of my backyard.
Eliza, despite being just a bug, made a huge impact on me that day. She traveled around 30 miles, clinging onto my roof rack for dear life at speeds up to 60mph....all while missing one leg.
If she could do that, then there is nothing I can’t do. Eliza is a reminder to me, and to all of us, to just keep hanging on.
What did / do you miss most during covid 19…
- I miss the small bits of normalcy I took for granted. I miss walking into an establishment with no mask on, regardless of the number of people inside. I miss seeing friends, not having to worry that one of us could unknowingly expose the other. I miss live music. I miss not worrying so much about my health and the health of my high-risk family members.
But, there are aspects of the “new normal” I find myself enjoying. I don’t hate limited capacity. It means places are less crowded; it means you aren’t packed inside like sardines. I love curbside pickup anywhere. You mean I can shop online and get the items in a few hours AND they’ll bring it out to my car? Awesome! (And this is coming from a retail employee who provides curbside service!) I love that restaurants and other businesses adapted so quickly to something that could have destroyed them. I love seeing communities that have come together to support one another.
This has not been an easy year for most of us. I’m trying to shift my focus away from what was and onto what is and what will be.
There are likely some aspects of our old ways of life that we’ll never fully recover. And that’s ok! We’ll find new ways.
What brings you the most joy / smile the most...
- I really love my cats. My husband and I have two cats, but we recently adopted two more and will soon be a four cat household.
We are lucky to have very affectionate cats with big personalities. Not a day goes by that one of them doesn’t make us laugh. They’re the best.
What is your most prized possession…
This is a tough question. I get attached to material objects really easily, so almost everything is valuable to me. However, there is a Christmas ornament I would be devastated to lose.
Most of my Christmas decorations are hand-me-downs. One ornament in particular belonged to my Nana. It’s a small crystal spider with gold beaded legs. It represents the story of a family whose Christmas tree was ruined by spider webs. They threw the tree outside, but in the morning the tree looked glorious.
Dew had gathered on the webs and was illuminated by the morning sun. Nana always hung it on the best branch where it could catch the most light.
Every year since she died, I hang the spider on my tree where it can catch the most light. I always hang it last.
It’s funny how a single item can flood you with memories in an instant. That’s what the spider ornament does for me.
What is your biggest regret…
-Honestly? I wish I’d never gone to college. I graduated with a BA in English, but it was a waste of time and money. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself, I just don’t think it was right for me.
I went to college because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. My parents (mostly my mother) had convinced me that college was the only way I’d ever get a good job. So I went.
I struggled in my first few years, so it took me six years to graduate. After my third year, I finally started to get the hang of it. By that time, I still hadn’t declared a major and my advisor was indifferent to my success.
I finally settled on English because I do enjoy writing and figured I would be able to work as an editor or something.
Of course, since I had wasted so much time deciding on a major I was basically starting my college career right then. It took me an additional three years to earn my degree, but at that point I kept going out of spite.
When I graduated, I was so thrilled to be finished I didn’t even care that much when my grad school applications were rejected.
It also wasn’t until I was nearing graduation that I realized getting a job as an editor would be nearly impossible without having any experience, which could only be gained via unpaid internships.
Basically, I regret going because I’m still paying on my student loans and working the same retail job I had when I started college.
For me, it wasn’t worth it. I personally find trade school to be more valuable these days unless you are set on a career that requires a specific degree.
What do you do for work… and why…
- I’ve worked for Hot Topic since 2009. I started as a sales associate and now I manage my own store. I applied at Hot Topic because I knew a couple of people who worked there and thought it would be fun. It was.
I stuck around because it was a cool environment and flexible with my college schedule. Even when I was promoted to key holder and later part-time assistant manager, I could still balance my classes with work.
After I graduated in 2013, I stayed with the company because we were moving to Asheville and they had an open management position.
I thought about looking for another job after we moved, but that year wasn’t super kind to me.
So I stayed a little longer. The last thing I wanted was to learn a new job along with the stress of moving. A few promotions came my way, and I’ve been running my own store since 2017.
I recently celebrated my 11th anniversary with the company. Overall, it’s not a bad place to work. As a Store Manager, I have certain perks of course. But it really is the people that keep me there. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some really rad people. Still do!
What was your first tattoo...
Music notes on my foot. That tattoo was how I met my husband. He was the piercer at the shop.
Many years and many tattoos have passed, and we still have each other.
If you had the ear of everyone in the world, what would you say to them...
I believe everyone deserves a chance. We all come from different places. We all have different beliefs. We can learn from each other.
We can teach each other. That’s what makes us human right? We are all beautiful. We all deserve love. Be kind to each other. Always.
Connect with Lindsay...