Grateful Heart Monday

Happy Grateful Heart Monday everyone! What I find myself most grateful for as we begin yet another week is a spiritually-centered organization I became a part of back in December of 1999 named The ManKind Project (MKP).

Back in 1999, I was truly broken inside over my father’s suicide that had occurred three years earlier. His sudden death had left me extremely angry and lost in life. Therapy, church, sports, work, medications, you name it, I had tried so many things, hoping each would help me let my father go, but none were able to. I had become so depressed and anxious that I was on the verge of taking my own life.

That’s when a co-worker at a company I was employed at suggested I join him on an upcoming retreat, as he could see how mentally and emotionally sick I had become. When I asked him what this retreat was about, he said it was called the New Warrior Training of The Mankind Project and pointed me to another fellow employee who had already been a part of this organization for some time. When I eventually spoke with this other person, I was told that I could find the healing I was desperately seeking if I went on this retreat. I was skeptical at first because of my total lack of success anywhere else, but when I casually mentioned this retreat to one of my closest friends at the time, I ironically discovered that he too was a part of MKP and how it had changed his life for the better as well. That’s when I made the decision to sign up, because I don’t believe in coincidences. A few weeks later I entered the two-day New Warrior Training retreat with my co-worker fully enveloped in a tremendous amount of fear and doubt. 48 hours later though, I was completely free of all that fear and doubt and had found forgiveness with my father that’s still 100% present with me today. While I won’t spoil the processes I went through to get there, I can say that it was the first retreat I ever was on that didn’t force me to believe anything or do anything I didn’t want to. Instead, it allowed me to establish my own safety and boundaries to work through something I never thought I would or could.

Being a part of MKP didn’t end for me once that initial retreat ended either. Shortly thereafter, I joined what was called an IGroup, which is simply a group of men who too went on the New Warrior Training and chose to continue working on themselves after it by utilizing the processes they learned during it. Since December of 1999, I’ve been a part of a number of them in various cities and continued to use that venue to break through many other blockages that kept me a prisoner just like my Dad’s suicide once did. Blockages like the pain I had from being molested when I was a young kid or the abrupt loss of my mother due to her alcoholism.

In fact, MKP has helped me work through so many blockages that my gratitude runs quite deep for those who created this nonprofit organization. Currently, MKP’s presence can be found in 22 countries, with other 900 IGroup’s, and 60,000-plus training graduates. Recently, I helped to expand that number of IGroup’s by adding one more here in Toledo with six other men. We meet every other week and do deep spiritual work on our lives using processes that 12 Step recovery and therapy and other self-help types of guidance aren’t able to provide.

Nevertheless, while I once judged MKP (like I did with AA at one point as well) to be a cult before I ever really knew anything about it, I’ve discovered how far that was from the truth and have gone on to sponsor many other people over the years to take part in the New Warrior Training and Igroup’s too. Seeing these men spiritually heal and grow from that has brought me an immense amount of gratitude and led me to be extremely grateful for an organization whose only mission is to see broken men find healing and begin to lead lives of integrity, authenticity, and service to others.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

(NOTE: You can find information about The ManKind Project at and if you are a woman seeking a similar type of organization, please check out The Woman Within at

How Does God Communicate To Us? In “Subtle Ways”…

I honestly wish that God would communicate with us through those “Burning Bush” types of experiences, but alas, I’ve never met anyone who has had even one of them. Instead, it seems as if God works in far more “subtle ways” to connect with each of us, which I’ve come to recognize a lot more when I’m not so distracted in life. Recently, I had a conversation with one of my sponsees in recovery about this very thing while doing our work on Step Two (“Came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”), which during it, I quickly discovered they had no idea what I meant. To help them better understand, I opted to share my very first encounter with what I believed to be one of God’s “subtle ways” of communicating, and after doing so, I noticed it cleared up the confusion, which is why I decided it might be best to share this story in a blog entry as well, so here goes…

In the summer of 1991, I returned home to Poughkeepsie, NY, after my Freshman year in college had ended, to get a job, earn a little money, and party most of it away with some high school buddies. On my first night back, I met a guy at a small get-together that I immediately became enamored with. For anonymity purposes, I’ll be referring to him from here on out as “C”.

 After that evening, I began spending pretty much every night with “C” getting drunk and stoned. We soon became inseparable, except when I was working at my job, which was at Rite-Aid. As the days passed deeper into the summer, I found myself regularly hanging around his group of friends, most of whom were drug dealers. Eventually, I became one too, only to appease the “apple of my eye”, that being “C”. This went on until about the beginning of August, when I started having anxiety about the life I was living. Somewhere deep within me, I knew what I was doing was wrong on so many levels and the last thing I wanted was to get arrested and mess up the rest of my life by getting a felony under my belt.

When I finally came to the realization that I needed to cut “C” out of my life, I had become quite unrecognizable from that innocent kid who had entered the summer two months prior. I now sported a flat-top that was approximately 6 to 8 inches high, had lines in my eyebrows and hair, constantly talked in slang and cuss words, stole merchandise frequently from stores, carried a weapon around my ankle, wore eight gold rings on my fingers, and only went by the name “A.D.” I had definitely done all I could to remove the image of being a “Mama’s Boy”, but deep down I wasn’t happy with myself on who I’d become, which is the main reason why I decided to tell “C” I didn’t want to hang out anymore.

So, when I ultimately did just that on a warm August night, and told “C” I was going to lay low until I went back to college in a few weeks, he asked if I could spend one last evening with him to celebrate my going away. I said ok and as I got ready to hang out with him the one last time, I looked at my gold rings on my dresser and decided I didn’t feel like wearing them that night. That was until an overpowering voice or urge within me suddenly told me I NEEDED to wear them. It was a rather odd and pushy type of feeling, but I obliged and put the eight rings on, not thinking any more about it, and sped out the door to head downtown to the spot where I was supposed to meet “C”. On my way, I picked up a fresh pack of Newport’s to smoke, and a 40-oz of St. Ides Malt Liquor, the two things I used to do every night with utter frequency alongside “C”.

As I stood on this porch, waiting for “C” to show up, a black car with dark, tinted windows pulled up and several guys emerged from within it. One of them walked up to me and asked if I was “A.D.” and whether I knew where “T” was, who was actually one of the dealer friends I regularly hung out with. After telling them I was indeed “A.D.” and that I hadn’t seen “T” in a week or so, they retreated temporarily to the trunk of their vehicle, which I didn’t think anything of.

Then quite abruptly from behind, I felt a set of hands reach up under my arms and pull me up over the porch I was standing on and then onto the ground. From there it all went foggy, until I came to and found myself in the backseat of my car with “C” driving towards the hospital. I was covered in blood and couldn’t see out of one of my eyes. I also noticed the rings on my hands were gone before I blacked out again.

I spent the next week recuperating at home after a brief hospital stay where I got a number of stitches. When I finally was able to see out of both of my eyes again, I headed to the home of a person I knew through “C” who was not necessarily his friend but seemed to always know everything going on. As soon as he laid eyes on me, he shook his head and was actually surprised I had left the safe confines of my cushy suburban home in light of what happened. When I told him, I didn’t really know what happened, his immediate response was, “Isn’t it obvious, you got jumped!” Of course, I knew that much and asked him to elaborate a little more if he could. He responded by saying, “It’s a good thing you were wearing all your gold rings that night, because they planned on killing you with the guns they had in the trunk of their vehicle but decided that taking your rings and giving you a good beating was enough retribution for being associated to “T”.  Sadly, I also found out before I went back home that day, that “C” had watched all this happen and had set me up, all because he had been so pissed off that I was done dealing and hanging out with him.

It’s been well over 26 years since then, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget this experience. If I hadn’t listen to that urge to wear my gold rings that night when I really didn’t want to, I wouldn’t be alive right now.

So where did that urge come from on that early August evening in the summer of 1991?

Was it God speaking to me through my Spirit in one of those “subtle ways”.

I leave that for all of you to ponder, but in the end, I think you already know what I’ve chosen to believe…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Silly Joke Friday

Joke #1

One day, Joe, Bob and Dave were hiking in a wilderness area when they came upon a large, raging, violent river. They needed to get to the other side, but had no idea of how to do so.

Joe prayed to God, saying, “Please God, give me the strength to cross this river.”

Poof! God gave him big arms and strong legs, and he was able to swim across the river in about two hours, although he almost drowned a couple of times.

Seeing this, Dave prayed to God, saying, “Please God, give me the strength and the tools to cross this river.”

Poof! God gave him a rowboat and he was able to row across the river in about an hour, after almost capsizing the boat a couple of times.

Bob had seen how this worked out for the other two, so he also prayed to God saying, “Please God, give me the strength and the tools, and the intelligence, to cross this river.”

Poof! God turned him into a woman. She then looked at the map, hiked upstream a couple of hundred yards, and walked across the bridge.

Joke #2

A boy with a monkey on his shoulder was walking down the road when he passed a policeman who said, “Now, now young lad, I think you had better take that monkey the zoo.” The next day, the boy was walking down the road with the monkey on his shoulder again, when he passed the same policeman. The policeman said, “Hey there, I thought I told you to take that money to the zoo!” The boy answered, “I did! Today I’m taking him to the cinema.”

Joke #3 – Especially for my partner Chris…

Q: Why did Adele cross the road?
A: To sing, “Hello” from the other side!”

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson