An Introduction To Mantras

Much of my life until the age of 39 was plagued by doubt, insecurity, fear, and worry. From an initial groundwork that was laid by my parents who suffered similar traits, I grew up demonstrating most of their same behaviors. Until last year, I believed there was no ability for me to ever change those characteristics that were so deeply imbedded within me. Our minds and bodies are like computers which can be programmed and reprogrammed. Through repeated work and fine tuning, I believe that all the “bugs” can be worked out of any computer programs that were written long ago within each of us. One of those tools that I have found to help immensely achieve this, is mantras.

By definition a “mantra” is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of creating a desired transformation within one’s own being through repetition. I was probably exposed to mantras long ago when I went into psychotherapy just after quitting drinking and drugs and finding my first year of sobriety passing me by. Therapists might not have used the word mantra back then, but I was told that when a thought arose which was not a desired one, to combat it by verbalizing the exact opposite or desired one. Unfortunately, as mentioned in a previous entry, I was always looking for quick fixes and after a few attempts to combat the thoughts, I resorted to taking medications that suppressed them instead. Over the years, the medications had to change as my body stopped responding to them and the unwanted thoughts returned.

Last year when the pain was so severe within me on every level, and I no longer was finding relief through medications, I made a pledge to myself to start practicing mantras every day with the belief that it was changing me inside. I knew I didn’t become the way I was overnight and I knew some of the programs written within me probably had to be completely redone. Because of this, I maintained the attitude that it was going to take time and patience. I wrote up a list in a word document of mantras that covered the areas of my life most troublesome throughout all of it. And I decided to add an element to my daily repetition of them that came to me as an idea one day. I know that repeated visual images can induce change as well so I bought a kaleidoscope and I began to use it while I recited each mantra. Three times in one eye. Three times in the other. Then three times back in the first eye. And finally three times back in the other.

My list today has grown to 24 different mantras. I spend somewhere between 35 and 45 minutes every morning saying them again and again and again. It’s been over 9 months now since I undertook this new addition to my spiritual journey. Have I seen changes to those old programs and tapes? Absolutely. It didn’t happen overnight just as I thought it wouldn’t. The changes were subtle and as time moved forward, I noticed I was having better thoughts, choosing more positive actions, and making better decisions in all areas of my life. I continually tweak this list making updates to it as my life evolves closer to God.

My main desire in all of this is to erase each of those old lines of code within me that were written in an inefficient language I no longer desire to use. I don’t assume there is an endpoint to this daily mantra routine. I just know there will be change to the list as I continue to heal and become a healthier servant of God.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Caffeine Will Kill Ya!”

“Caffeine Will Kill Ya!” I love that line. It’s taken from Jim Carey when he played the Riddler in a Batman and Robin movie many years ago. Watching him throw a coffee pot at Batman while saying that line brought on a chuckle for me back then. My viewpoint on caffeine has changed dramatically today where ironically, I feel that same way.

When I was growing up my mother generally bought caffeine free sodas. I never drank coffee as I thought the taste was awful. And other than around Halloween, I wasn’t allowed to have tons of chocolate. In college, I was too busy drinking alcohol each night so my body craved a lot of water during the days to make up for the dehydration I brought onto myself. Everything changed when I graduated from college and found sobriety.

I’m not sure whether it was the need to have something in my hand after quitting alcohol or the long hours at boring corporate jobs I was working at that drove me to drink coffee and consume so much caffeine. Either way, I quickly became addicted to it. According to research I did on the internet, 90 percent of the world’s population consumes some form of caffeinated beverages daily. What’s even more interesting, caffeine is considered the number one addiction in the world.

Those who can be classified as caffeine addicts often feel that without caffeine, they can’t get through the day or they find it hard to concentrate. Caffeine is considered a stimulant and regular consumption of it can lead to dizziness, headaches, high blood pressure, increased respiration rates and insomnia to name just a few symptoms.

For years, I consumed highly caffeinated coffees, energy drinks, large quantities of regular and dark chocolate, and teas. It’s been almost a year now that I have been free from caffeine consumption. I didn’t realize how much it affected me until recently when I went out for breakfast with my partner. I ordered a decaf coffee as I’ve found the percentage of caffeine to be infinitesimal and not affect me. Usually I make sure when the decaf coffee is brought to the table that it truly is decaf. So many times I’ve ordered it and the servers have to go back and get me the right beverage as they’ve made a mistake. That morning I forgot to ask. By the time I finished my cup, I was talking much faster like Speedy Gonzalez. I suddenly felt like I was a in a better mood quite different from the one I had begun my breakfast with. And then, I was having all these ideas of things I wanted to do for the day begin to spin around in my head. When she returned with the pitcher asking if I wanted a refill and I said “Decaf?” She responded, “Oh, I didn’t hear that, I’m so sorry, the first cup was regular.” And then it all began to make sense.

I am quite sensitive to many things that I consume, especially caffeine. When I used to drink it often, the affects were dulled down because of my regular consumption. In the case of breakfast that morning, it had been more than 10 months since the last time I had consumed any. I tried not to get angry and started drinking a lot of water. For about 3 or 4 hours I felt like I had a ton of energy and much of the pain levels that I endure everyday with the toxic clearing process I’m going through had diminished quite a bit. And then, like it always does, the “buzz” wore off, and a brick landed on me. I say a brick because it felt like that. All I wanted to do was sleep. In the past, I would have consumed another caffeinated beverage to keep the “buzz” going. For a long time in my life, that’s how I got through the day. The worst part about caffeine consumption is the withdrawal from it which usually hits me between 24 and 36 hours after my last consumption. And like clockwork, around that time frame, my head started to pound and for about 5 to 6 hours I have a massive headache that prevented me from even thinking or sleeping. Thankfully, this accidental ingestion didn’t drive me back into my caffeine addiction as the side effects and withdrawal were enough of reminders of how much I didn’t miss it.

There’s a funny story I’d like to share about how bad my caffeine addiction got at its peak. One night I went to my home group in AA which was then on a Friday night in West Bridgewater, MA. A group of us had planned on going out dancing later that night and I had spent most of the day drinking several Pepsi Max’s which had double the caffeine. I had wanted to keep myself going. During the meeting, I was eyeing the coffee pot like someone I was attracted to and making frequent trips to it, going from single fisting to double fisting so that I could continue to get my fix throughout the evening. Upon the meeting’s end, I announced that we needed to make a Dunkin Donuts run and get coffees for the hour drive down to Providence, RI where we were heading to go dancing. Of course I got the largest one possible. I forgot to mention that high caffeine consumption also correlates to high bathroom trips and that had already started back during the meeting and continued for the drive down there. When we got down to the club and realized it was too early, guess what I announced then? “I know of a great place to hang out and get some dessert!” What I really wanted there though was the dessert coffees. And I did just that. I got a coffee beverage named something like the “chocolate zombie” and proceeded to down it like it was a hot day drinking cold water. And that’s when it really began to hit me. I felt nauseous. I thought I was hyperventilating. My heart was racing too fast. I could have sworn I was seeing trails like I had been tripping on acid. And my anxiety was going through the roof. When we arrived at the club, while my friends all were able to enjoy the dance floor and have fun with each other, my evening was spent on the top floor of the club drinking water and listening to a guy play the piano while I battled nauseousness and frequent trips to the bathroom.

Do I miss that at all? Not a bit. Having that mix up at breakfast the other day was enough of a reminder that I don’t want to go back to it … EVER…

Most people don’t realize how dependent they are on caffeine. And if they do, I’m not sure if most people care. Many say they need it to get through the day. Some say it gives them that extra edge they need. What I say is why does one need any type of stimulant to function at all?

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

There Are No Quick Fixes…

I’ve made a lot of entries about the health and healing process I am going through and while I would love to say it’s been a stroll through the park, I can’t. Getting my mind, body, and soul into a healthier state has been the biggest undertaking I’ve pursued in this lifetime.

My Shaman friend always tells me I didn’t become unhealthy overnight. It took years and years of me living in addictions, hanging out with the wrong crowd, lying, stealing, cheating, being jealous, lustrous, envious, judgmental, and egotistical to get that way. I’m convinced that as soon as I came out of the womb, I was exposed to toxic elements in my family that began to take me away from my connection to Source. As life went on, and I began to mature and make my own decisions, self-will took over and many poor choices were made by me that were filled with quick highs and awful lows. I believe that this world has moved a lot in that direction with all the advances. I don’t think anyone really wants to suffer, to be unhappy, to feel pain, to be sick, or be alone. With the growth in medicine and technology, advertising is everywhere about some pill or gadget that will instantly make one feel better. And believe me, over the past few years in my journey to heal, I tried a lot of them. And what I found out is that just about everything numbed me from feeling anything, from the pain to my emotions. It was as if I was on autopilot just going through the motions of my day, carrying out my duties, and completing task after task with no real sense of connection to anything.

As I mentioned in several previous postings, a year ago I made a decision to stop looking for those things that might quickly take the pain away. I stopped taking medications that weren’t healing me and were only band-aiding a deeper problem. I stopped hanging out with people that brought me those addictive highs and terrible lows. And I forced myself to start feeling everything that I believed my body was meant to experience naturally. I’m a firm believer that our bodies are quite knowledgeable of how to heal. A century ago before all the advances, people had to rely on holistic healing, hope, prayer, and love from others to get through difficult trials and tribulations. Today, society has somehow shifted to seeking whatever it can to take any pain or feelings of sadness away. It’s as if no one wants to feel any emotion but happiness.

I’m not sure if that’s possible here on Earth. If I didn’t experience sadness, how could I ever truly appreciate happiness? If I only ever lived in the light, how would I ever have known what the darkness felt like? What I know is that while the body’s natural healing process is a slow one, it is also long lasting. There are an infinite amount of quick fixes that exist but none of them ever truly bring healing to the source of imbalance. While I’ve sought out too many of those throughout my life, I’ve come to learn that if I truly want to heal at the core within me, I must endure what it is I feel each and every day. I must not seek to quickly rid or numb myself from what it is I’m feeling. And I absolutely, positively, must thank God for the abundance of healing happening within me each and every day, with every single breath I take.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Everything Happens For A Reason…

Much of my healing process I’ve been going through in the past year is centered around my desire to heal holistically from the numbness and sciatica I have on my left leg and foot. From something that originally started in 2010, my perspective on it has changed dramatically since then.

I believe strongly today that there is a mind-body connection. Having read a few books on this subject by a Dr. John Sarno many years ago, I learned that the mind can create pain in the body due to emotional turmoil. Essentially, when an emotional trauma is too painful to deal with consciously, the mind creates a pain or pains in the body to shift the focus away from it. The more that a person focuses on the emotional trauma, the more the pain dissipates. The more the person focuses on the pain itself, the more it increases. For years, I followed this theory, and consistently was able to combat various phantom pains that came about in my body as each of them were connected to one of many emotional traumas that I had endured in my life. But then April 27, 2010 arrived and I developed sciatica and numbness in my left leg and left foot.

When it began, I tried to apply the same principles from the mind-body connection, but as time went forward, I lost faith in what I had learned. As days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and months turned into a year, I lost confidence in the path I had followed for so many years and figured it was something more serious. I went to the doctors and had test after test done and then had an MRI which showed a minor protrusion in L5-S1 on my spine. I consulted with the best back specialists in the Boston area at Massachusetts General Hospital and was told that the disc may or may not be causing what I’m experiencing. Even worse, I was told that if I pursued surgery, it may or may not alleviate the symptoms I was dealing with. I opted for a cortisone shot path with physical therapy instead. Neither helped. I then went to chiropractors, took pain meds and anti-inflammtories, and followed the doctor’s orders explicitly on his other suggestions. None of them helped. In fact, more pains developed as time moved forward.

What I didn’t understand then that I do now, is that I was focusing on everything that I could do externally to treat it. I would go to this doctor or that doctor, take this pill or that pill, have this test done or that test done, and was getting nowhere. After a year of doing this and a seonc year had gone by with me enduring so much pain, I realized that there was one path I hadn’t tried. I hadn’t gone within to look at some very deep seated emotional issues that I have avoided for all of my life.

In the first two years of enduring this, I was engaged in highly sexual addicted based behaviors. I spent most of my time toxically with people that were active alcoholics and drug addicts. I didn’t follow any spiritual routine or seek God’s will on most days. And I continued to look for quick fixes and highs in my life to make me feel better. Worse of all, I hated to spend any time alone and had no relationship with myself and soon came to realize I never did.

So at the two year mark, I then made the decision it was time. Time to get to know me. Time to go back to the last memory I had of when I did, and start again. The first action I took was telling all the people in my life that were part of my addictions that I had to say goodbye. Then I started removing friends in my life that were codependent with me or vice versa. And then I began following a daily spiritual practice that I maintained diligently with God at the center of it. I started going deeper within myself in therapy and began spending time alone doing things that I might normally do with someone else. Little by little, I began to develop a relationship and best friendship with me.

It’s now been almost a year of following this spiritual path and I definitely am noticing a difference. Spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, I have had many better days and feel a lot lighter more than not. Since the end of 2012, I have even begun to have a few hours here and there where the physical pains in my body seem to disappear. I’m confident that these are all signs that I’m on the right path now.

Where I once looked at the sciatica and numbness as the end of my life, I now look at it as a gift. I was on a serious path of destruction where nothing was slowing me down. I’m convinced that I would still be on that dead-end path if this had never happened. I use a comparison today that seems to make sense to others when they ask me how confident I am that I’ll heal in this way with God’s help.

For a cancer patient, most times the course of recovery is through chemotherapy. Week in and week out their bodies are exposed to the radiation to eradicate each and every cancer cell. There are times during that process that the patient wants to give up and feels it’s just not worth it. The truth is that if even one cancer cell is left within the body and not eliminated, that full blown cancer could return. So they trudge on, trusting it’s helping, and for many, the chemo ends up working and they return to a life free from cancer. I believe that the same thing holds true with my sciatica and numbness. I look at God now as my chemotherapy. I believe God knows exactly when to stop it. I am convinced that God knows when the last bit of toxins and poisons from my life are gone and at that moment, I believe that’s when I will see the sciatica and numbness lift.

The first year I had this, I was angry, I begged and bargained with God to remove it. I busied myself with addictions to pass the time by. And I watched 365 days go by with no avail.

The second year I worked with every doctor and practitioner I could afford with both time and money and focused all my efforts on getting it out of me by all of their help. And I watched another 365 days go by with still no improvement.

In this third year, I have done the one thing I never wanted to do throughout the whole process and throughout my whole life for that matter, I remained still and have begun to get to know me. And now I can say that in this 365 days that are passing, I am healing.

Be still. For a body in pain, that’s tough. Especially in that I don’t take any medications. How much longer must I endure this pain? I don’t know. But I believe that God knows. Until then, I believe I have one job and one job only and that’s to continue to do what I can to stay healthy on every level and place God’s will before mine. And as much as cliches can be annoying, everything really does happen for a reason.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

There Are Many Perspectives Than Just My Own…

I was driving down the road coming from the grocery store the other day when suddenly there were quite a number of cars stopped. Was it an accident? Was there construction? Was someone trying to turn down a street or into a driveway? Nope. None of the above.

A wild turkey was in the middle of the road. Several of the flock she was part of were on the other side of the road in the woods pecking at the ground for food. My first reaction was all ego. How she was preventing me from getting to where I was heading! Thoughts ran in my mind about why the closest car didn’t get out and just “shoo” her across to the other side! Then, my spirit took over and I realized how self-centered I was being. I didn’t really have any where that I needed to be any time soon. I took a deep breath and then suddenly, the turkey came into full view as she had been hidden by the car closest to her.

She was absolutely breathtaking. Her full feathers were cropped out like a big puff ball and her tail was completely extended outward for full viewing. There were several bright colors she bore and I immediately felt compassion for her. What would it be like for me if several large vehicles were staring me down and I couldn’t see the rest of my friends on the other side? She continued to try to walk in one direction but with the impatience of drivers and their vehicles, they prolonged her reunion by cutting her off each time she would try to pass. Thus she was essentially going around in circles. Eventually she did made it across with I’m sure, a much calmer feeling within.

How much of life is like that for all of us? I know for me at times that when things are looming in front of me, staring me down, antagonizing me, or intimidating me, I can come out in full view. And while I don’t sport pretty feathers, what I show outwardly is a lot less attractive. I’m not sure anyone would feel safe and comfortable in the position the turkey was of being cut off from her friends and loved ones and having to fend for herself from foreign objects with loud engines in front of her.

Sometimes I wish all of us in this world would practice just a little more patience. All I can do is my part and I know that the next time I am seeing something try to cross the road and I’m closest, I know that I will wait patiently for it to get to the others side before I move forward and create more confusion and problems for it.

So why did the wild turkey cross the road anyway…? To prove she wasn’t a chicken… Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha….

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Living in Integrity – Part I

I belong to a wonderful men’s organization called the Mankind Project (MKP). In 1999, I was introduced to MKP by a friend who was going away on a weekend retreat for it and asked me to go. He told me it was called the New Warrior Training Adventure. It sounded amazing by name alone. At the time I was harboring a lot of pain inside and was told the weekend may help get to the root of it. Given my analytical nature, I wanted to know a lot more about what goes on and consistently I was given vague answers which irritated me yet made me that much more interested. The best description I could get was that the weekend was there to help me find me. And I needed that. Badly.

During that time of my life when I was considering going on the training, my father’s suicide had been weighing heavily on me. I had been carrying a lot of anger, sadness, rage, and disillusionment in my life since his death and hoped somehow the weekend might help alleviate it. It did. And it was the spark I needed in my life to begin a spiritual journey of growth, reflection, and change.

Today, I am part of what MKP refers to as a “IGroup”, which is a group of men that meet together in various frequencies, some once a week, some every other week, and some once a month. During one of these meetings, each of the men present have a chance to reinvigorate themselves drawing closer connections to themselves and to the other members (referred to usually as brothers). More importantly, each man also has the opportunity to work through any issues they may be facing, utilizing tools that the initial training first exposed each man to.

Most of my life I’ve tried to work through many issues on my own and did not get very far. Before MKP, I also was a bystander in my own life and expected things to change without putting forth too much effort. In other words, I didn’t want to have to work too much to get what I wanted in life. Even worse, prior to MKP as well, I blamed everyone and everything for what was wrong in my life and I took no responsibility for things that I committed myself to. This organization helped me to go deep within and find the root causes of why I was that way. It helped me to heal many wounds that were buried deep within me. And most important of all, it helped me to move forward in my life being accountable and in integrity with myself and with all others. I believe it created a foundation in my life that I never had growing up in such a dysfunctional family.

I’m currently in an IGroup that meets twice a month. In my last meeting, about 30 minutes into it, I was feeling disconnected to everyone and wasn’t sure why. There’s a part of the meeting where I am able to identify whether I’m “clear” or present with everyone else that’s there. I spoke up and said I wasn’t clear. Through a small piece of work that followed, I verbalized that only one person had hugged me prior to the start time that night. In the past, my ego would have felt that everyone who walked in after me should have come up and initiated a hug. My IGroup on the other hand, helped me to see that my piece of work in this was to be the initiator of each hug. I know it might sound rather simple but for someone like me who for so long expected everyone else to change to make me happy, hearing this was profound. And so I had the chance to express my needs and wants at that time and offered to give everyone there a hug. At that point, each man accepted and stood up and embraced me with warmth and connectivity. And guess what? After that, I was clear. Not just with each of them, but also with myself, remembering this was why I joined MKP in the first place.

While MKP helped me to create a platform to have an accountable and integrity based life, separating myself from all the addictions that once controlled my life, and asking God to be at the center of my being each and every day, has created a lot more peace and happiness within me. One of the greatest lessons MKP first taught me is that change begins from within. I’m glad I took the time back in 1999 to do that initial training. I’m even happier that I’m currently active in an IGroup again. But most importantly, I am confident that God guided me to this group of men, as I can already see the positive changes happening just from showing up, being accountable, and living with integrity.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

My sister left Massachusetts today with her family. Her flight left early this morning and I received a message that she arrived at her hotel in Nashville safely this afternoon. What I found most interesting was on Saturday for my final visit with her in this area, saying goodbye wasn’t difficult. Ironically, I felt more of a sense of peace. A few days ago I wrote about geographical cures and how I know my sister will learn that lesson one day. What I didn’t write about was the ups and downs that we have gone through in our relationship as brother and sister.

Growing up, my sister and I wanted nothing to do with each other. One would have thought that the two of us would have drawn closer with our parents being so dysfunctional and alcoholic. Instead we became polar opposites and took different sides. During my college years, when she had already begun her first post graduate corporate work, I was too focused on my drinking and drugging to care about her or anyone else for that matter.

All that changed in October of 1996, when I received the phone call from her that our father committed suicide. My sister and I spent a lot of time supporting each other after that. I even for a time lived extremely close to her home in one of my geographical cures not too long after my father’s death. Unfortunately, I became too self-absorbed to draw in a healthy loving sibling relationship and I abandoned the closeness that was growing between us. Over the years after that, when she needed me most, I avoided her. When I needed her, she was always there. If I was in a jam, she came to my aid. If I was feeling that death was better than life in one of my many suicidal moments that I once felt, she consoled me and kept me going. Hardly ever was I there for her. When I moved back to Massachusetts in 2007, she took me in as I had no where else to go. Over the course of the past five years, I have battled myself and had moments where I’m sure it felt as if I was finally getting healthier and becoming a real brother to her. Time and time again, I fell short of that and got wrapped up into any number of other addictions that I suffered from. A year ago, the pain became great enough to turn over all of my will to God and allow God to guide me in every part of my life. Since then, I have worked on my relationships with everyone that is still in my life, especially with my sister.

Actions have consequences and selfish ones can lead to a long time of recovery from them. Over the past year, I have done what I can to show my sister I’m getting healthier and never going back to the darkness and addictions I had lived in. Where I had been invited at least once a week to come to her house and hang out and then spend the night in the guest room, I was limited to a few hours of scheduled time, sometimes even just an hour and no more. At first I was angry and full of rage, demanding justice and saying that I need more time with her and my nephews. My anger distorted my thoughts and usually ruined my time with her when I was granted an hour or two. In the final months I had in Massachusetts with her, a shift began to happen within me about how to look at this differently.

I stopped looking at what I wasn’t getting and started being grateful for what I was. The few times I got to see her were not filled with arguing and drama because I came to understand within me that healing takes time, especially with how I treated her for most of my adult life. I realized that if all I was going to get was an hour or two, once a month, to see her, that I might as well make the best of it and show her and her kids how much I love each of them.

On Saturday, when I hugged her goodbye, I didn’t cry, at all. In fact, I didn’t even feel sad. Through my prayers, meditations, and having God at my center, I came to the realization that her moving away will give her time to heal from all the damage I’ve caused. It will give her time to clear her head and all those thoughts about how I once treated her. It will allow her to feel a little safer with knowing all we can do is communicate via phone or Skype for awhile. And it will allow her heart to miss me and maybe, just maybe, grow a little more fond of the potential the two of us have to be best friends and a loving brother and sister to each other.

We both have come a long way in our lives from our childhood craziness. I am beginning to see how my spiritual work in serving God is changing my life for the better. As for my sister, you can see it in one of the last messages she sent to my phone.

“Looking forward to the time when you can visit us in TN. Love you a lot. Thanks for being my brother. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better than you.”

Now I feel tears in my eyes…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

We Are All Teachers and Students To Each Other

Lately I have been getting more and more distant from my roommate who is also the landlord and owner of the home I live in. When I first moved in here, I was still partially active in some of my addictions and quite toxic on some level as well. Over the past year, that has dramatically changed and the more that I’ve grown spiritually, the more I seem to be clashing with my roommate.

Since moving in, I have butted heads with my roommate over different things, but all of them have an underlying theme. Generally, in each case, there was something that I’ve been doing that bothers him and he wants it to stop. It started first with the garbage can and the bag that is put within it. For whatever reason, I have had difficulty getting the bag in the can in the way that he does it. Ironically my partner has the same can and there too, I have the same difficulty. What started out as a simple suggestion of how I can do it better turned into him demanding I watch him more than once on how it’s done. The same behaviors of him having to show me how to do something as he does also has occurred with how I flush the toilet (as the handle sticks at times), with what I do or don’t place in the recyclables bin, with what I can and can’t put in the dishwasher, with water that I let drip after getting a glass of water from the refrigerator, with what is allowed to go in the garbage cans and what is not, and well the last one was a doozy for me. He had issues with the baby wipes that I use in the bathroom and how I dispose of them and went as far as getting on the web to look for alternatives for me to use.

In each of these things, arguments have ensued between us and I realized today that these battles aren’t between us at all, they’re between him and his father and me and my mother. The few things I know about my roommate’s father is only because I met him once for a dinner and I saw the way he treated his son at that time. Sadly, my roommate’s father looks down upon him and he’s not subtle about it. He judges his work, how he lives his life, and quite often is not so kind in things he verbalizes about him. While I don’t know the validity of this because I wasn’t there to see my roommate in his childhood years, I would gather that his father pointed out quite often all the things that he felt he was doing wrong. I’m sure that he even went as far as having to show him how to do those things the way that he saw fit rather than allowing his son to figure them out on his own. I believe that until one becomes more self-aware, one fails to see how much they are like their own parents or like those that raised them. It’s become clear to me that my roommate is very much like his father and that I’m just playing out that role of him as a young boy except he hasn’t figured that out yet.

I’ve been there, in that fog, acting just like my parents and not even realizing it. Through a lot of pain and healing, I’m very much more self-aware today of when I am acting like them. Let’s take my mother for example. She was very controlling of me. Quite often, what I did seemed never good enough in her eyes. Anything that I ever undertook, seemed to always need more suggestions on how I can do whatever it was better. And the more that she did that behavior towards me, the more I became resentful and enraged within. So while my roommate in all of those situations is playing the role of his father and I’m playing the role for him as a young boy, I have realized through my meditation and therapy that he in turn for me is playing the role of my mother and I am playing the young me finally standing up for myself. And what he isn’t seeing is that what I’m doing to him, standing for myself, is something he has wanted to do for most of his life to his own father. And as I do that, it enrages him, because he’s not there yet.

Unfortunately, when one person is self aware and one is not, it creates disruption between the two. I can’t make my roommate see that he is acting like his father when he points out things that I’m doing wrong in his mind. The only thing I have control over is how I react. That is the lesson I’m still trying to learn. While I’ve been standing up for myself a lot more lately, I continue to react with anger and I know that’s not the way of peaceful living and oneness with God at the center. I’m guessing there is still part of my parent’s energy that I haven’t let go of yet as I’m sure that if I had, I would be able to keep myself calm and collected when my roommate goes down the path of trying to control me.

Thankfully, I’ve at least learned that we are all teachers and students to each other and that when we find ourselves being challenged by someone, there is probably a lesson being taught by them that I still have to learn. Teachers come in all forms, they don’t necessarily have to be those we find at places of education. They can be roommates, friends, bosses, or people that we come across at any point of the day. Sometimes I wish I could show my roommate how we are just living out roles that we took on from our childhood when we get in these bouts, but his path is his path and mine is mine. All I have control over is my sense of oneness with Source and how I react to things around me. I am glad for all the teachers that come into my life, especially my roommate, as he is helping me to remove any unwanted energy I still hold within me from my past demons like my mother.

The lesson in life for me today is that when I find myself being challenged, getting frustrated, or being angry towards anyone in my life, I know it’s only a teacher that has come into my life to help me grow spiritually and let go of things that prevent that from happening.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Hoard or Donate

I had an interesting day today in that things I planned on doing came out differently than how I had originally intended for it to go. Sometimes that’s a good thing though…

When I headed out in my car today, my original intention was to take my old suitcase to a place in downtown Boston named The Zipper Hospital. After many years of beatings, my suitcase was in need of an overhaul and this place seemed like it could do the job. When my morning prayer and meditation routine was done, I phoned them and asked where they were located. After finding out that parking was not free and that they weren’t even sure they would be able to help me with it, I did a quick Google search for an alternative and found one in Sudbury about 30 miles away. I was up for the drive as it was sunny outside for once here and parking was free there. (For anyone that knows Boston, where the original store was, to park simply an hour or more, can cost anywhere from $15 to $30 on up.) As I headed out the door, I decided to take an old backpack with me that needed a new zipper to see if the store could fix that as well.

About 40 minutes later, I was happy to know they could fix both and that I could pick them up in a few days. While I had been waiting for the repairperson to look over my items,  I came across a new backpack that was on sale there. They had already informed me that the one I had was going to cost $20 to repair, so after about 15 minutes, I made the decision to take it back and buy the new one for about $20 more. In all honesty, I was glad to move on to a new one as the one I had been using was from an old friendship that had a lot of bad memories. When the woman brought my backpack out from the repair shop, I was shocked to find out it had already been fixed and told I could keep it with no charge.

I believe it’s a human trait to always want to get something for nothing, but I’ve learned over time that sometimes it’s better to pay it forward. After paying for my new backpack, I got in my car and decided to donate the newly repaired one that had nothing wrong with it now. The old me would have held onto it, thrown it in a closet and probably never used it again, and gotten some sort of selfish satisfaction that it was fixed for nothing. Thankfully, that’s not me anymore. I quickly looked on my phone’s internet and found a place not more than 10 minutes away called Global Thrift and decided I would make a quick stop there to drop it off. When I reached the store and went to the back where the donation area was, a guy smiled from ear to ear at me and thanked me profusely saying that my backpack probably would be out the door by the end of the day with some lucky kid as they were always in demand. I left the store with a smile on my heart and a kick in my step and felt a lot better that I had done that instead of what I probably would have done with it a few years ago.

I have a lot more things I want to donate in the near future and I’m looking forward to doing that. It’s amazing how a human being will hold onto something that is never used for years and years when someone out there could enjoy using it right here and now. Why does anyone hoard anything? I can only speak for me, and I know that it really is about my own selfishness and self-centeredness that generally is saying “well, geez, you might need this someday…” My rule of thumb today is that if I haven’t used it in over a year, it’s most likely I’ll never use it again, so donate it or get rid of it.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Setting Priorities

Earlier this evening, I had a difficult conversation with my partner on Skype. I was trying to set up a future flight in late April to come see him and it raised major concerns within him about finances and budgeting. We have an agreement that whether I drive or fly to see him, that we share the cost by each paying half. When I expressed to him how much the flight cost was, his voice tone and demeanor went from pleasurable to stern. Over the next few hours we spent time working through some uncomfortable moments that dealt with finances. We went over his budget, and saw what amount of money was truly available to him after all his monthly bills were paid. In the end, there was a small amount available that could cover his portion of the flight so long as he was able to maintain his current work schedule and budget.

I spent some time meditating after the conversation as I had gotten angry during much of the conversation and was trying to figure out exactly why. At first I looked at all the people I’ve dated where things like this came up and realized that more than not, most of my former partners had done the same thing as what happened tonight. But I realized that there was something more in this, and it was about me. I’ve talked a lot in many of my postings about how things outside of myself that irritate me are simply mirrors for myself. In this case, another one appeared.

There have been many times in my life that people have asked me to do something that would entail me spending money. Whether it was gifts for family members such as my nephews, trips away with friends, retreats, classes, or a holistic practitioner to see, I’ve made excuses how I couldn’t afford to do any of them. There were times in friendships where I said I couldn’t afford something such as going out to dinner with them, and then I went ahead and went out to dinner with someone else that I liked better. Or maybe a friend gave me a gift for a special holiday and I would say I couldn’t afford a return gift and yet I would give another friend a gift that I felt closer to. There were times as well where I might be asked to do something and I would express my concern about not having enough money and then I was out buying myself new clothes that I didn’t need, new DVDs that I’ve already seen in the theater, or taking myself on a trip somewhere to pamper myself.

I know many people probably do this. All of us set priorities in our minds on what’s important to spend the money on that we earn. But sometimes, priorities get mixed up on what truly is the most important.

In my life now, the number one priority is serving God’s will. After that it’s taking care of my health and healing including staying clean from all addictions. And in doing both those, my partner is the most important thing outside of that. Since meeting him I’ve made a lot of changes to how I’ve lived day to day. I buy a lot less things that I don’t need in my life. I don’t go on trips anymore unless they are to see him or are with him. I don’t go out to dinner every night of the week. And I look for other corners I can cut in my life to save money so that I can spend it with my partner.

It never was like that before. I was selfish and my money was allocated as I saw fit. If I wanted something, I got it and everyone else was secondary to it. I believe that’s why I got so angry tonight because I projected my former financial selfishness, onto my partner. Thankfully, I’m not that way anymore. It is important to set priorities on finances and how money is spent. But I also know it’s not healthy or spiritual to tell someone I can’t afford to do something when I’m doing it with someone else. To combat that, I have become more open and honest with my priorities to those in my life. And I have learned as well that beyond my family and my relationship, I need to treat everyone equally on what I can or can’t do. If I’m setting priorities in my life with different friends, then maybe I’m not really wanting to be around some of those people in the first place.

I know my partner cares about me. And I know he wants me to come see him. I realized after meditation that he wasn’t doing to me what so many others including myself have done. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the mirror when I’m in the midst of any argument. But I know through meditation and prayer, I generally see that it always leads back to me and my own behaviors.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Fighting Myself

It was very cold today. Extremely cold. With a wind chill near -7 and another 4 to 8 inches of snow dropping on top of the few feet still on the ground, it made a good case to not leave the house at all. The cold weather is extremely difficult for me. As most people probably know, cold contracts and heat expands. That holds true with muscles as well. And for someone like me who deals with muscle and nerve pain quite a bit, cold weather is unbearable. Tonight, the group I call “home” for the center of my recovery here in Massachusetts had an engagement that I was tied to and would in turn have to leave my house for a few hours in the frigidity.

In the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous in Massachusetts, one of the things I find most fascinating is what this engagement was about. It was a commitment. In this state, most groups have a calendar that is maintained by a “bookie” who organizes dates where the members of their group will go to different places to speak about their experience, strength, and hope. It could be other meetings, hospitals, detox centers, halfway houses, or prisons. It’s considered part of a person’s 12th step work where they go out and give back. And each of those engagements on the calendar are called a “commitment”. Tonight, my home group had one out on a place nicknamed “Long Island”. Originally, over a century ago, the island was home to the outcasts of society such as lepers and mental patients. Today it is a center of alcohol and drug addiction recovery with various programs to help people that are dealing with getting clean and sober. The program I was to go to tonight to speak with my group was named Transitions.

About two hours before it was time to be at the building on Long Island for the commitment, I received a phone call from one of my group members who was the only other person able to attend tonight in this crazy weather. He informed me that he would not be able to go and apologized profusely. The circumstances were based around a friend of his that had overdosed and needed help and I completely understood. But it left me with a predicament. Each of these commitments are usually an hour long where the group members trade off speaking for a few minutes at a time. At a worse case scenario with two people, I would speak for 25 to 30 minutes and the other would be the same. With the cancellation, it left me to be the only speaker in front of about 35 to 40 people. I don’t have any problems speaking in front of people today but add in the below freezing temperatures, the snow that had come in earlier, wind gusts still up to 40mph, serious pains in my left leg, and feeling down in the doldrums, my brain was telling me to just stay home.

I’ve learned there are two me’s presently in my life. There is the “brain” me. And there is the “soul” me. My “brain” me is what wants quick fixes. It’s what wants at times to go back out there and live in addictions. It’s what tells me that drugs will make my pain go away. It’s what tells me that I’m never going to get better. And it’s what told me to stay home tonight. The “soul” me, well, that one tells me to keep going. It tells me that I’m going to heal and soon. It tells me that all of this pain is temporary. And it told me to go tonight and be the only speaker as that is what God would want of me. Remember those old cartoons where the angel “poofed” in on one shoulder and the devil “poofed” in on the other and both tried to make the person of whose shoulders they were on do something. That’s a lot like what went on tonight with me. After having no success getting any other group members to join me, the decision rested upon whether I was going to make the track out there alone or not in the freezing cold.

I’m happy to say that I made the decision to go. It’s a testament to where God is at in my life now. A year ago, I  probably would not have gone. I would have used any number of excuses. On my way to the meeting, I prayed to God to give me strength to deal with my pain and to speak from my heart with love and light and that I may be a vessel to inspire those there trying to get help from their addictions. I spoke for about 45 minutes with my story of recovery from the beginning to the end. At the end of the commitment, several came up to me and shook my hand and said it was very inspirational. In the past, I’d soak up all the glory into my ego. Today, I give it all to God. After all, I believe it’s God who motivated me to get in my car and go in these subzero temperatures. I believe it’s God who gave me the strength to speak with passion and love. And I believe it’s God who wanted me there in the first place alone so that I would be able to speak my whole story. It’s my hope that at least one person at Transitions tonight connected to my story enough to find a greater purpose in seeking a path to recovery and God.

I am not all seeing and all knowing, and I don’t really know how my presence tonight at this program out on Long Island made a difference. But what I do know is that my brain fights against my soul way too often. I’m grateful that I went with my soul’s choice as I believe I did God’s will in taking that path. I look forward to the day where my brain and my soul call a truce and work together to bring greater love to God and this planet and peace within me.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Not So Beautiful Creatures

Normally I wouldn’t make a blog entry this late into the evening as it’s currently 1:00am here on the east coast, except I just came from a movie that I was extremely excited about seeing and instead left very disappointed. The movie I went and saw was Beautiful Creatures which is based on the book series by authors Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia.

A few months ago I saw a preview and read that this movie was similar to the whole Twilight series but instead of vampires and humans as the focus, it was witches and mortals. I thoroughly enjoyed the Twilight series on screen and while I didn’t read the books, I decided to do that with Beautiful Creatures. And I loved it immedately. While the books do draw some similarities to the way the Twilight series was set up with good versus evil concepts, they really are two completely different works of fiction. Within a matter of a few weeks I had already gone through the first book and the second book. By the time the movie arrived in the theaters a few days ago, I was buried deep into the middle of the third book with high hopes for the first movie to be as engrossing as the book series had been.

As the lights dimmed in the theater and the previews rolled out, I anxiously awaited the opening scene for the movie and then it finally arrived…in a different version, quite different from how the first book began. I shrugged it off and said oh well to myself and continued to watch with anticipation for many of the sequences that I was looking forward to seeing how they would translate onto the screen. Most of them never came. Scene after scene, storyline after storyline, change after change, the movie seemed like a completely different piece of work. While the foundation of the story was kept intact about a witch, referred as a Castor, and a mortal, with no special abilities, meeting and falling in love and finding their love to be taboo because of a curse, the things that made the book unique were missing. As I watched the credits start to roll after the last scene to this Romeo and Juliet tale, I noticed that there had been very few people there watching it. Was that because of all these changes that were made? I don’t know. What I do know is that on opening weekend of a Twilight movie or a Harry Potter movie, a person would be hard pressed to find an open seat.

All of this got me to thinking about my own life. When I was a young boy, I was quite original and unique in my own way. Sadly, when I got into high school, I began to change those parts of me, altering myself to ways I thought people would like better. By the time I left high school and college behind, most traces of that boy inside that was unique and different were gone. From the outside image of me, to the talents that I pursued, what the world saw in me now was a mere fragment of what I had originally been scripted as.

Luckily, I’ve woken up to the chameleon effect that I created and about a year ago, I began to strip away all the layers that were pasted on top of the original me. Ironically, now at the age of 40, I’m back to doing most, if not all, of those same things I did as a kid. The difference today is that I don’t want to change them, alter them, cover them up, or make them any different. I want to be me. And I believe that the new/old me that is emerging will be liked by many more people as compared to the life I had lived up until last year that was filled with sadness and loneliness.

Like Beautiful Creatures, I lived my life from high school to last year continuously adapting to meet what I thought others might like. And consistently, I lost the interest of those I met most likely because I wasn’t original and unique anymore. I had made myself a carbon copy of what I thought people might like. Except I’m not the way anymore and I’m thankful for that. My license plate is now “BURSLF” which means “BE YOURSELF”. And today I am. I’m back to being that boy again, living his life as original as I can be, beating to my own drum and I believe that people are going to love this original recipe much better as time goes forward.

I wish Beautiful Creatures had done the same and stuck to what was in print. I’m convinced that this was the reason why the theater had only a handful of people in it on opening weekend and why the box office numbers were showing it in a dismal sixth place in earnings. At least I can go back to the original me but this movie is already produced and forever on a reel in this version. But who knows, it’s Hollywood and remakes happen all the time. Beautiful Creatures, just be yourself, it’s the best way to be.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

I Am Me Wherever I Go…

I face a difficult challenge today. I’m going to be seeing my sister for the final time today until I’m not sure when, as she is moving to the Nashville, TN area in the next few days. Moving is not something unfamiliar to her. Since 2000 when she married her current husband, I have seen them move 6 times. Each was in a different town or different area or even a different state. And with each move, came a renewed emotion and comment from her family that the new home was exactly where they are meant to be and that they aren’t going to move again.

The last big move came when my sister left for Virginia and was convinced her new life was going to be spent there. Like the move to the Nashville vicinity, the reason was a job promotion for her husband. I was devastated as where they were moving to was the area that I had moved from to be closer to them in Massachusetts. After just under a year, they were back in Massachusetts in new jobs and saying to family and friends that they were here to stay for good.

And I believed it too. I’m sure all those that they told did as well. And then the bombshell dropped a few months ago, just around the holidays, I was told her husband got an amazing job near Nashville and they would be moving away in mid-February. Sadly, much arguing ensued after, mainly with me steaming at the ears. It took some time for me to calm down and process through it. My Shaman informed me that it probably is in my greatest highest good and that I should be still with it and reflect on the good that may come out of it. For weeks, I did, I meditated and I prayed for God’s will to be done and for me to not be angry and resentful about the move. I prayed too for my sister and her family’s happiness. Somewhere along the lines, I began to shift my perspective…onto me…and how I’ve done the same thing as she is about to do yet again. Through much of my writing in these blog entries, I’m beginning to realize that every time I get angry and resentful, it’s generally because I’m seeing a mirror for myself on something I’ve done in my life. And with this move from place to place, well, yes, I’ve done that too. Many times.

When I graduated from college in Rochester, NY, I had job opportunities to stay in that vicinity. I also had friends there too. And I had people around me there as well that I didn’t particularly like. I also was tired of the North and of being in a college town and made comments about how there was nothing to do in the area. So I took a job as far away as I could get, which came in Northern Virginia. Just under two years living there, I had changed from that job to another, and was in a relationship that was falling apart. I was lusting after people around me that I called friends and finding fault with my boss and my fellow employees, as well as my duties at my place of employment. So I sought refuge in yet another move and I went up north to Massachusetts within an hour of where my sister was living at the time. That lasted 8 months. In those 8 months, I worked two jobs, ended that 2 year relationship, bought two cars, made and ended several new friendships, broke some hearts, and purposely tried to break up a relationship of another couple. Then I left blaming all those things that were going wrong and stated I couldn’t stand Massachusetts to everyone I knew living there, and I moved back to Northern Virginia. I told myself that I never should have left in the first place and that this time would be better and different. I bought a house, settled down, but kept changing jobs and finding dissatisfaction in my life in just about every area. I went through several short term relationships and then met a person who became my partner and after a few years in that relationship, I convinced myself that my misery was once again Northern Virginia and the corporate world I was living in. So I sold everything and moved out to a small island near the ocean that was named Chincoteague. In the middle of nowhere, I tried unsuccessfully to live out my partner’s dream of owning and running a bed and breakfast. For me it lasted four years. During those four years, I ended the relationship once, travelled around the United States several times, and went on silent retreats trying to find myself. By May of 2007 I decided that the cozy island with it’s tranquility and solitude was the problem. I decided that the seven year relationship was the problem. I decided that the bed and breakfast was the problem. And I moved…AGAIN. And guess where I moved to. Massachusetts. And since September of 2007, that is where I’ve been. And in just a short period of time, about a few months, I was unsatisfied once again in my life. I could only think about how the world was wronging me in every situation I found anger or irritation in. I never realized the problems were not any of those things that I was finding fault in. It was never the areas, the houses, the jobs, the friends, the relationships, the weather, or anything else in the cities or towns I called my home. It was always the man in the mirror. It was always me.

Though much therapy, writing, healing, meditation, prayer and more, I have gone within myself to figure out that there was a lot of muck that had built up inside. The process of removal has been challenging but rewarding at times. The rewards have been “a-ha’s” that have shown the lightbulb above me turn on at times. Things that I never understood why they ticked me off in the past from ex partners to ex jobs to ex bosses to anything ex. Each of the resentments I had towards any of it, were just areas of my life that I wasn’t wanting to face and work through.

And now I’m watching my sister do the same thing that I’ve done so many times before. And I’m powerless to do anything about it other than pray. When I have gotten into one of my geographical cure phases, there is nothing anyone can tell me and nothing that can change my mind. I did exactly what it was my brain told me was going to make my life better. With each new move came new friends, a new life, a new start, a breath of fresh air, a new career, a new church, new restaurants and new malls and new places to explore. But it also brought me one thing that wasn’t changing…me. I brought the same attitude. I brought the same dissatisfaction in life. I brought all of that muck. It may have been a few weeks, a few months, or maybe even a few years that it resurfaced. But it always did. And I finally lassoed myself down to stay here and face those parts of me.

My sister and her family haven’t figured that out yet. I’m sure they will eventually find these same answers. That the grass may be greener when they arrive. But at some point, no matter how many chemicals they place on it, no matter how much they water it, unless they fertilize the soil with richness, it’s eventually going to die there too. Mine did. In each and every place I brought myself.

While my life has never felt that it was meant to be in Massachusetts long-term, and while my partner doesn’t live here, I’m staying put for now. I believe that there are some places within me to still work through. When it’s time to move, it will come naturally, and not out of an act of believing life will be better somewhere else. Life can be better right here, right now, wherever I am. I just have to do the work and clean out the cobwebs in my attic that keep me living in that fog and illusion and tell me a move will make things better. My sister will learn this lesson one day. But it has to come in her time, as God sees fit, and not in my time. But I’m grateful she has taught me a valuable lesson about myself just by doing what she’s doing.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Knowing My Limits

Lately I have been placing my entries in here and coming up with great ideas of what to write about. Generally the words have been flowing. Today they’re not, and the main reason why is that I need to rest.

I just got off the highway a few hours ago from my half day’s drive home from seeing my partner and I’m exhausted. To add to that exhaustion, when I reached my driveway, I encountered piles of snow that were blocking me from parking with enough space for my roommates car so I had to shovel for about 10 minutes.

Needless to say, I’m beat. I just ran to the store and got some Epsom Salt and some muscle soothing seaweed and took a bath for 30 minutes. I’m definitely going to turn in early tonight.

The main point I’d like to make today is that it’s common for human beings to go beyond their limits and pay the price for it later. I’m a known offender of this. I like to push and push and push myself until I end up regretting it later. Today I’m not going to do that. While there’s a few things I’d like to do like come up with a more thought provoking blog entry, I decided it was better to just write this and say I’m taking it easy tonight. And that’s ok…

Knowing my limits is important. My body has a built in mechanism to tell me when to take it easy and relax. I hear those bells going off right now telling me to do just that so I’m going to go take care of me now…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Happy Valentine’s Day 2013

Today was my last day with my partner and I’ll be back on the road tomorrow morning quite early. I thought it might be best to make a quick posting about Valentine’s Day prior to me going to bed.

I was at a few stores yesterday and today and noticed people running around scrambling to get those few special roses left, searching the shelves of remaining cards and siphoning through the sweets and cuddly animals that were sitting lonely by themselves.

How come love has turned into just remembering someone special on a certain day? Why is it that people race around at the last minute to get something special for someone that say they love? Is February 14th the only day that is supposed to happen?

My stance on this is different. Love is something that I try to show 24/7. Gift buying, the taking out to dinner, a special card, flowers, or whatever else I may come up with to show I love my partner is not done on a specific day of the year. It’s done quite often actually.

In the beginnings of a new relationship, when two are courting each other, showing love happens all the time. Valentine’s Day is every day. But sadly, what happens after the buzz wears off and the couple are settled down, showing love seems to arise only when a special day comes like Valentine’s Day, a birthday or Christmas.

Love is something I believe that is best not placed in a box, on a calendar, or reserved for a special moment. Love is something to express when the moment arises, when one thinks about their partner as they are looking at something special in a store, or when they’re driving along and hear a song that brings fond feelings up about their loved one, or when they’re writing like I am right now and reflecting on all the many February 14th’s they’ve spent alone crying.

While I did take my partner out for dinner tonight and gave him a card, this was going to happen regardless of whether it was February 14th or not. On my final day of each trip I see my partner, I take him out to dinner and give him a card telling him how much I love him and will miss him. And throughout the times we aren’t together, I send him e-mails, instant messages, e-cards, and sometimes even gifts through snail mail just to bring a smile to his face and warmth to his heart.

February 14th is just one day of the year that my love can be offered. There are 364 other days that God gives me the opportunity as well. I hope that others may realize that love isn’t a holiday, it’s a feeling to share in every moment, of every day, of every week, year after year.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Having A Perfect Type

I have found that most people in this world have some basis of a “type” they look for in someone they wish to date. While some have told me they don’t have a type, I always find upon further questioning that each of them do. Maybe it’s that they don’t prefer heavier-set people or possibly they don’t prefer a certain ethnic race people or they stay away from people shorter than themselves. But in just about every case, I can find at least some traits that they look for and can be labeled as their “type”.

For most of my life, I’ve been what one may deem a “chubby chaser”. I prefer to date larger people. When I’ve dated women in my life, they are full-figured. And when I’ve dated men in my life, such as my partner currently, they are usually labeled as a “bear” in the gay culture. For as early as I can remember in my life that is what I was attracted to. Even in elementary school I can remember staring at the heavier boys and girls not wanting to look away. Over the years as my spirituality waned, so did my openness to people I would consider going out with. In other words, I became more and more superficial in who I would allow myself to go out with.

There became a quest within me to search for the perfect person that had to fit a certain set of criteria. And if they didn’t meet that set, I just didn’t go out with them and made up some excuse. The internet made this extremely easy to do too. Much of my
free time was spent perusing through the single’s listing and just
looking at pictures. Those that I found were “the hottest” got a personal message from me and those that didn’t have a picture or just seemed average looking in my mind, didn’t.

As the years passed, those who I did date or land in relationships with were always someone that I had approached and asked out. And every one of them failed. Through therapy that came much later, I realized that all of them held the energy of my mother and were just showing me a mirror of what I had become: controlling, addiction based, codependent, and conditionally loving. Eventually as I fell completely off the spiritual path and after many years of dating toxic people, I realized I was the one that was sick and needed help. So I began intense therapy in the summer of 2011 and began working through many issues like an onion being peeled back. Little by little, I no longer found myself being drawn to those same type of toxic people that I had sought out again and again. And the more that I healed and learned to love myself, the more I lost the appeal to even being around any of what I had once labeled as my specific type.

And that’s when my partner showed up. It didn’t happen suddenly. Rather, he came into my life after only several months of me in therapy with a response to my one and only personal ad online. Initially, I kept him at bay and strung him along like I had done to so many others over the years as I continued to date dead-ends. Occasionally I would respond to his repeated attempts to get to know me as something within me kept getting drawn back to him. Some say that people draw into their lives those that are energetically similar to their own energy, and as they grow spiritually, so does those that are drawn in. Looking back, I believe that’s why I continued to respond to someone that didn’t fit my old type. The more I worked on myself spiritually and drew closer to God, the more that I wanted to get to know this guy. And eventually, after an umpteenth trip to meet someone over New Years that I had pursued and proved to be another bust, I gave him my full attention.

As I write this, I’m coming up to a year of being monogamously partnered with him. I love him dearly. And I know he loves me the same. I continue to work on myself and find that my love grows deeper for him every day. I see many people today that fit the bill of what I used to chase after. But now there’s a repulsion that I feel inside towards those people because I’ve realized that they are still doing what I did for so many years and I don’t want to ever go back to living that way.

I have found that there is no perfect type. There is no perfect partner. To seek out perfection in someone to date was simply because of my own flaws and insecurities. Through the process of healing with God at the center of my life, I have been given a wonderful relationship that is so different from anyone I have ever dated before. I’m glad I listened to that small voice within me and gave him a chance. He has continued to teach me that real unconditional love isn’t based upon a type, it’s based upon a feeling…and it’s in the heart and soul, just like it is with us.

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

Long Distance Relationships

Long distance relationships can be challenging. But I am convinced that if the two people are willing to go the extra mile, it can work. And I’m also convinced that sometimes having a long distance relationship is a good thing and probably God’s will for the time being.

My partner and I met online in 2011. He found my personal ad and responded at first by an e-mail. Initially I kept him at bay and talked solely on the internet through instant messages. My success rate with the people I met online was quite poor so I was hesitant to let him in any further. But in a very short time of communication, I began to notice major differences with him. He was genuine, honest, and open on every level of his life. He wasn’t controlling, demeaning, demanding, or abrasive on any level. He wasn’t angry, bitter, or self-piteous with the world. And he was really interested in me just as I was and not for who he wanted me to be. In other words, he was happy with me just being myself. So I took the next step and began talking face to face on Skype. And then eventually, after several months, we met and spent a few weeks together getting to know one another in person. And that’s when the real challenges began.

At first I asked myself how was this really going to work. I asked myself how often could I really get together in person. I asked myself if talking everyday would really be enough when we weren’t together. I even asked myself how long would I be able to have a long distance relationship before I would want one of us to move in with the other. And what I found is that by placing God first in my life, all of these questions would answer themselves on their own.

I know my partner and I ask God to be at the center of our relationship. I personally don’t believe any relationship can sustain longevity without that. It seems that things just happen as they are supposed to now with us. There’s not a day that goes by where we don’t talk through texting, instant messages, phone calls, or Skype and we make it a point to see each other every 30 to 40 days or so. We split the cost of the travel expenses and we both continue to work on our spiritual growth while we spend time apart.

It will soon be one year that we’ll have been together and although we currently live more than several hundred miles away, our relationship continues to grow closer every single day. I’ve had several previous attempts at long distance relationships. One where the other person lived far enough away that I could only see him on weekends and another that actually lived oversees where I only got to see him a few times during the year. Both of them failed. Neither of them had myself nor my partner asking God to guide the relationship. Instead, self-will and selfishness guided them.

Many gay relationships, especially long distance ones, are not monogamous. I’m sure there are many reasons why people in them allow that to happen. In my case, my partner and I are completely monogamous. Having God at the center of our lives, we are convinced that God wants us to share our love here on Earth with only each other, even while we are apart for so many weeks. Ironically, we find our love grows for each other while we are apart. And, in all honesty, I practice celibacy on all levels during those times as I have found this enhances my love for him even more.

It’s one of my deepest beliefs now that true love can overcome any challenge that may arise. In my case, it’s the mileage that’s the main obstacle. With modern technology, saving money, dedication to the relationship whether we are together or apart, and asking God to guide us every single day, we continue to find our love growing stronger.

On some level, at least for the present moments in my life, I think God wants me to be in a long distance relationship. In every one of my former relationships, I had the feeling that I couldn’t exist without them and they couldn’t exist without me. Life was so depressing when I wasn’t with them . Today I know that’s not real unconditional love. That’s codependent toxicity. It’s possible that if my partner had been in the same region as me, I might have fallen right back into one of those same relationships all over again. Instead I’ve been forced to work on me when we’re not together. I’ve learn how to have a relationship with myself. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to love being with just me.

People say that God always knows what’s best for each of us. Well I am finding that to be true with my current relationship. I love my partner deeply and I love myself just the same. I enjoy my time apart as much as I enjoy my time with him. At some point I’m sure we will be living together. Until that time happens, I know that as long as we both continue to put God first and as long as we both are willing to go that extra mile each and every day, that we’ll be able to continue to sustain whatever hurdles that are put in front of us.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Living One Day At A Time, I Know This Too Shall Pass”

There are many slogans in recovery that people choose to hang onto. Two of the most difficult sayings that I have learned to apply from my twelve step recovery meetings were “One Day At A Time” and “This Too Shall Pass”. This has only been able to occur through enduring much pain throughout my life.

Over the seventeen years that I have been clean and sober there has been a lot of tragedy in my life that has come and gone. My father committed suicide in the fall of 1996. I was diagnosed with Fibromyaliga in the spring of 1997. One of my only friends passed away at a very young age due to a sudden brain aneurism in the fall of 2000. My Grandmother who I was very close to died shortly after due to a stroke. A few years beyond that during the winter of 2005 my Mother fell down the stairs and broke her neck dying instantly. Two years later, a seven year relationship I thought I was meant to be in for the rest of my life ended. And then within the next few years, the bed and breakfast that I owned went under and was sold as a short sale with me losing all the capital I had invested into it.

Each of these made my life seem impassable. I thought I would never recover from the trauma I endured in each of them. When I was in the worst pain with each of them I couldn’t see through the clouds or the forest. Being in the middle of any storm in life and living day in and day where the pain never seems to change, a common reaction for me is to want to give up. I realized after enough of these had happened in my life, that combining two of them together helped me to make it through ones that would happen later.

“One Day At A Time”. What does this mean? It means living in the moment. It means not worrying about tomorrow because it’s not here yet. It means focusing on just getting through the day I’m in.

“This Too Shall Pass”. What does this mean? It means that what I’m going through will pass in time. It means that no matter what I am enduring, at some point it will lift. It means that no matter how bad it may feel inside, that I will feel good again.

With each of the tragedies and traumas that I have gone through, I have found greater and greater success and healing by applying the two of these slogans together. If I can live one day at a time, in the moment, telling myself that this too is going to pass, then inevitably at some point, whatever it was I am going through will end and I will feel better again, even more so than before the thing ever started.

For the past few years, since April 27th, 2010, I have been enduring chronic pain that I believe to be coming from my body’s healing process in releasing all the old toxic energy I had stored within me. Where I once found these twelve step recovery slogans to be silly and useless, I now rely upon them greatly and even find myself saying them in my head over and over again.

I know there will be a day soon that I am free from living in the physical pain I have felt for so long. I will keep doing my best to live in the moment each day telling myself that what it is I’m feeling is going to pass and I will keep on praying to God for strength to continue to endure. And so far, thank God, this has helped me sustain almost three years of this. Between my prayers, my faith in God, and living by these slogans, I am getting better. I am healing.

And I know that…

The clouds will part again.

The clearing in the forest is just on the horizon.

And…

The sun will rise again.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Downfall Of Winning

I grew up in a family that played a lot of games. Card games, board games, sports games, gambling, and a lot of the similar were the norm for us. Of course I didn’t gamble as a kid but my father did. My family loved playing a card game named Euchre. My mother was quite good at another game called Bridge. My father was incredible at the sport of Racquetball. I held my own on my original Atari game system and both my sister and I excelled in swimming.

And all of us were extremely competitive…and all of us were not at our best when we lost.

Why is it that it’s so hard to lose or come in 2nd or 3rd or 4th or even last in something one is competitive in?

I have been asking myself this a lot lately.

Last night I was playing cards with my partner’s family. Once in a while I’ll play Poker with them. I’m not a fan of gambling and don’t make it a habit of betting money on anything in my life. But occasionally, I’ll take $10 and play in a nickel, dime, and quarter family style poker night where the most that can be lost is that $10. But last night, I didn’t have much fun at all when I was playing cards. Why? I believe it’s because I was losing. Out of the six of us that played, I was next to last place.

In the type of Poker that they play, it’s dealer’s choice on what style to play and “ante” or money to start the betting with with when the deal is in front of a person. So those factors can change with each deal. A game was chosen and the initial ante was set at $1.00, which for a low stakes game seemed too high for me. I tried to bow out and just pass until the next round. I wasn’t allowed to. I was told that if I didn’t play that round I would have to sit out the rest of the night. Needless to say, the lower vibration in me came out and I started to pout. I then began to purposely over bet, under bet, and complain about everything, which led to one of the players bowing out from playing for the rest of the night. When I came home at the end of the evening I had lost $7 out of the $10 but had lost something more precious than any dollar can make up for….a sense of peace within me and a heart filled with love and light.

As I kid, I saw my mother and father fight during games. I saw my father take his cards, rip them up and throw them. I saw his parents and her parents do similar actions. I saw myself take the controllers of my games systems and throw them at the television. I could go on. I’m 40 years now and I don’t want to be a sore loser. I’m trying to get to the root of it now. It’s not just with games and competition. It’s with everything. Sure if feels great to be at the top of anything. But what happens when I’m at the top. I worry about staying at the top. I worry about it being stolen away. I worry about losing my place in life where I think I’m somebody and not a nobody.

I’m beginning to realize it’s all an illusion that I’ve induced on myself. If I had won $20 last night, would my life have been that much better? Probably not. But if I had even lost $1 and came home with $9 would I have been upset? Probably. I believe much of this, if not all of it, stems back to when I was very young.

I was alone for most of my childhood. I was the kid that was at the front of the class being picked on. I was the kid that was bullied. I was the kid no one really knew my name other than for the awful nicknames that I was labeled with. I was the kid that couldn’t even go to my parents and talk about how I really felt inside….alone.

Being competitive in anything I did and then winning made me feel important. It made me feel like I was somebody. Having a moment or two of glory made me feel like I was something special in this world when I didn’t feel special for most everything else. Unfortunately, it becomes an obsession in its own way. If I win, life is grand. If I lose, life sucks. It’s a constant roller coaster. Almost similar to how my alcohol and drug addiction was. Pretty comparable to how my life was in any sex and love addiction issues I faced. Trying to be first in everything I did heaves me into a never ending up and down battle within myself.

I wasn’t proud of my moments last night. I haven’t been that way in a long time. But as my Shaman friend informed me, it surfaced for a reason. To be a spiritual healer and helper of others in my near future, I want to be free from behaviors like that. I don’t think the answer is to not just play games anymore. I believe the answer is in knowing deep within myself that regardless of whether I win or lose, that I’m still a good person, important to God, and that everything in my life is still ok.

The last three years of my life have been such a challenge with the chronic physical pain issues I’ve faced in my cleansing process. Being limited on what I can do, it has exacerbated this competitive side of me when I’m playing a game. When I end up winning at something, I feel that maybe all my pain and limitations in my life aren’t so bad. When I end up losing, like last night, it’s as if all of my life sucks and my chronic pain is the end of the world. And last night, it felt that way.

I’d love to have a hopeful upswing, with a grandiose idea of how to work through this for anyone who may be reading this. At the moment I don’t. What I can say is that I am praying about it. I want to be ok with coming in last. I want to be ok with losing. I don’t want it to matter if I come in 2nd. And I’ve asked God to guide me there. For now that’s my solution.

As I continue to heal from past transgressions in this life and in previous lives, I am convinced the more I will feel at peace within myself. And it’s my hope that the more I feel at peace within myself, the more I will be ok no matter what place I finish in anything that I do.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Snow, Snow, And More Snow

For once I must say I’m grateful that I’m missing one of the largest snowstorms in the history of the New England area.

Currently several states away and out of the storms reach, I have been watching the news report on how the snow has impacted everything so far. All the states in the region have declared emergencies, power is out for hundreds of thousands of people, a mandatory order has been made to stay off the roads, and people are doing their best to occupy themselves in their homes while the snow drops up to five inches per hour in some places.

My home currently resides in Weymouth, MA where the expected snowfall total will be between 2 and 3 feet once the storm is completely over. I’ve already spoken to my roommate several times and he continues to remove vast amounts of snow from the driveway hourly.

Growing up in Poughkeepsie, New York, I have seen my share of pretty incredible snowstorms. One of my earliest childhood memories is of the snow being so deep that I was able to build a tunnel system throughout the front yard. When I went to college upstate many years later in Rochester, snow was a daily occurrence from late October to late April. Seeing snow on the ground and even watching storms drop several feet of snow over the course of several days didn’t really phase anyone. But there was one storm that I remember so vividly. Over the course of 24 hours, several feet of snow dropped onto the northern city just like the one happening right now in the New England area. Rochester normally being prepared for any level of snow couldn’t keep up with the rate of descent, and everything shut down for about a day after, including my college which hadn’t cancelled classes on any given day for more than several decades. I spent the evening having a party and the next day swimming at the local hotel’s pool on campus nearby.

In 1995, I decided to leave the north and move to warmer climates and less volatile winters. I lived in Fairfax, VA which was a city just outside of Washington, DC. Ironically, in my first winter there, an unprecedented snowstorm hit that paralyzed the city and closed down the government and all corporations for just about three days. Funny enough, I had just come back from a college visit to Rochester. Go figure.

Since living in the New England area, there were a few storms here and there that were bothersome but nothing that prevented me from going anywhere. Two years ago in the winter of 2010, 82 inches of snow dropped throughout the season reminding me of my college years when that was the norm.

So I have to chuckle in that here I sit with temperatures above freezing, on a completely dry driveway with no snow in the forecast. For once I’m grateful to be nowhere’s near a storm like that. While I find the snow mesmerizing and tranquil, I’m happy to say that I won’t be straining my back shoveling it this time and I pray for all those that will.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Case of the Menacing Black Spots

My partner’s cat’s name is Driggs. I met her for the first time when I came to my partner’s house in February of 2012. My reception was not warmly welcomed by her. After much hissing and running away, as well as some swiping and attempting to bite me for most of my first stay in the same home as her, I fondly nicknamed her Cujo Kitty as based upon Stephen King’s story about Cujo, the dog who got rabies and went crazy.

Since I was a little kid, I was allergic to cats and could barely be in the same room as them. Over time, that has changed and as long as I stayed away from the combination of petting a cat and rubbing my eyes, I fared ok. I have also learned that cats are pretty intuitive and can sense where a person’s energy is. When I was angry for much of my life, cats hissed all the time at me and never let me get close to them.

Over the past year, I have worked on myself to let go of repressed anger and become more at peace. In time, Driggs has changed with me too. She wants to curl up in my lap now all the time and meows quite a bit when I’m not paying attention to her. Last night as she lay on me resting, I noticed several black spots on her that if on a human, one might think they could be cancerous. My tune definitely has shifted on my partner’s cat where I once wanted to keep her closed off in a room. I immediately called the vet and scheduled an appointment to have them looked at today. I known she means a lot to my partner as she has been with him since before my partner’s mother passed away.

Thankfully, the spots proved to be nothing more than some dermatological issues on the cat’s skin and after a quick antibiotic shot and taking some advice to give her a little bit of moist food with Omega’s in them, we were back home and she was much happier (She’s not really a fan of the car or being in the travel box.)

It’s interesting how much I care about a cat that I once called Cujo Kitty every time I was around her. Menacing black spots or not, I like her now and I’m glad she is ok. As my soul has become lighter, and I have felt more at peace in my life, I have found that I care about every living thing a lot more. Does Driggs somehow know that? Is that why she wants to be around me so much now. I don’t know the answer to those questions but I am grateful because she has helped me on many days of great pain when she lays there on my lap, purring, and letting me know that I’m not alone in my healing journey.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Rush Rush Rush

Have you ever noticed when you are driving how much everyone around you seems to be rushing from one place to another? For a long time I didn’t because I was one of those doing the rushing.

Lately I’ve been trying to slow down in all areas of my life especially in my driving. About a year ago, I began to notice just how sped up people are on the highway when I was driving on one of the roads in Massachusetts, a state known for it’s crazy drivers. Instead of driving as I normally would, based in the left lane and weaving in and out of traffic, I went at the exact speed limit in the far right lane. It was amazing to see what happened in doing that. Drivers flashing their lights, honking, flipping their lights on and off, tailing just a few feet back from my bumper, or even speeding up and going around me and then slowing down in front of me. Sadly, I couldn’t point any fingers. I was just as guilty as I had done all of those things and more up until that point.

A study or two was done some time ago where two drivers left during rush hour to head to the same destination in a major city. One drove the speed limit and stayed in the same lane for the whole drive and the other drove recklessly, weaving in and out of traffic. Guess how many minutes the reckless driver got to the destination ahead of the other driver? Five. Five minutes…

When I was employed in the corporate world, that was me, trying to shave those five minutes. I was the one doing the reckless driving, cutting people off, flashing my lights, honking my horn, and all the while my heart was racing, my mind was racing, and I’d arrive at my destination unsettled with five extra minutes. Was it really worth it? If someone had asked me then, I probably would have said yes because I always wanted to have instant gratification in everything. I wanted and needed to be first in everything. And on some crazy level, I seemed to get satisfaction in annoying other people when I drove that way. It justified the unsettled feeling I had within me.

Truthfully, I was lucky and probably blessed for all those years of driving that way. I never had any real severe consequence come from driving that way. BUT, would those five minutes have been worth it if I had injured a pedestrian? Would those five minutes have been worth it if I was in a major accident and was paralyzed? Would those five minutes have been worth it if I killed another person from an accident I caused? Would those five minutes have been worth it if I had lost my license or even worse, been sent to jail? Sadly, I never have to face those things. And I’m sure most people never do ask themselves those questions. Like so many probably do, I stayed revved up all the time, especially on the highway, doing exactly what it is I feel like I needed to be doing until something slowed me down. Sure, along the way I got a few speeding tickets here and there and for a short period of time, that slap on the wrist slowed me down. But eventually I just sped back up again. Whether it was the adrenaline rush, the “control” I thought I had over other drivers, or just not really caring about myself or anyone else, I kept on being reckless.

So what changed to cause me to do something different when I drove? What caused me to want to slow down?

Pain of feeling unsettled all the time. Pain of feeling overwhelmed in life. Pain of feeling like I had to be first in everything. Pain of feeling empty inside. And physical pain in my body that was already forcing me to slow down in my day to day routines.

Through meditation, prayer, mantras, therapy, and various holistic healing modalities, I started to slow down in just about everything I did in my life. I believe that God truly does answer our prayers except that sometimes, there are actions I need to take to help the cleansing process that God can drive. After all, I do have free will. I can ask God to help me feel less pain, but if I continue to drive super fast, keep toxic people in my life, eat unhealthy, and more, well is the work that God is going to do on me going to be effective? Probably not.

So for almost a year now I’ve been in a major cleaning in my life and through that cleaning, I am now able to be on the roads and drive so much slower. While I’ve already explained what the benefit was of driving recklessly…five minutes…here are some of the advantages that have come from me slowing down when I drive. I know see a lot more beauty in nature. I get better gas mileage in my car and am not filling it up as much. I have avoided accidents in front of me with cars that were doing what I used to do. I have stopped at unannounced destinations out of curiosity that I never noticed before. And best of all, I arrive at my destinations in a positive space and with a normal heart rate.

It really is worth it to drive slower and follow the speed limits. Is rushing worth it? Are those five extra minutes worth all the risks and potential downfalls?

Not for me. Not anymore. I’m grateful to God for this awareness.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Fair-Weathered Friend

What is a friend really?

I’m sure each and every person has their own definition of what a friend is. It’s probably easier for most to say what a friend isn’t though. With the overhauling being done in my life on every level including the friendships department, I’ve come to experience many of those.

As a child, I found friendships hard to come by. Being labeled a nerd back then and spending most of my time alone, my best friends were books, my Atari, and the water in a pool where I swam daily. After going through an outside transformation of my personal appearance and behaviors at the age of 17, that all changed. I was suddenly thrusted into the “in-crowd” and for the next 22 years, I treated every friend like they were a commodity. They were something that if I needed it, I would do what I had to acquire it. They also were something I could put aside if I didn’t feel like dealing with it. And even worse, they were prioritized and shuffled around on scales of what benefit I could get out of each of them.

Making plans with some of these friends didn’t mean that they were definite either. If something came along that was a better offer, I’d cancel on them. If any of those friends started to get on my nerves regardless if it was something that was my fault, I’d distance myself from them and blame them. It seemed as if I always had a new best friend too. I’d cherish each of them like they were the most precious thing in the world. But at some point, every one of them always fell apart.

Why?

The truth was simple. I was always looking at what I could get out of any of them and not what I could put into it. In other words, I was completely selfish and because of that I became a fair-weathered friend to everyone.

Ask yourself the following questions and see if they ring any truth to you?

1. Have you ever sat home on a weekend night waiting for that phone call from a friend you so desperately wanted to spend time with and it never came?

2. Have you ever had plans with a friend you were looking forward to all week and then just as the hour was about to arrive to meet up for those plans, you get a phone call and are told “something came up”?

3. Have you ever tried calling a friend you really needed to just have an ear to listen to and you find yourself repeatedly getting their voicemail and rarely if ever getting a return phone call?

4. Have you ever called a friend just wanting to hear their voice and when they return your call, it’s through a text message saying a short and sweet hello and that they hope you’re well and will catch up with you soon?

5. Have you ever gone out with a friend where they are always looking at the time, spending much of it on their phone with someone else, or even texting again and again while you try to carry on a conversation?

6. Have you ever gone out with a friend who never seems to have enough money to pay, expects you to pay, or if they do pay, they spend time making you feel guilty for it?

7. Have you ever had a party where a friend says they are going to show up and don’t or where they do show up and stay for a very short time and say they have another engagement or that they don’t feel well?

8. Have you ever heard about a party or get-together that a friend of yours had and somehow they forgot to tell you about it?

I could go on and on with these questions…This is what a fair-weathered friend does.

Why is this so easier for me to think of them? Bottom line, I was guilty of all of them. That is what I did to others. And now I am experiencing what it is like on the reverse.

To put in bluntly, “karma’s a bitch”. What I have given out in this lifetime that brought pain to others is now coming back to me so that I may experience the lessons on the receiving end. It’s not much fun but I’m grateful for the lessons nonetheless. I’ve realized now that I was a fair-weathered friend to everyone, even my own family. I was once on the other side of those questions doing all those behaviors and actions that made someone ask them in the first place.

I know today that if I need to ask any of those questions about someone in my life that I think is a friend, they probably aren’t a friend at all. I’ve learned that a true friend is someone that is there through thick and thin. One that can be called upon if help is needed. One that keeps plans and promises. One that looks forward to time spent together.

While I only have a couple of true friends today that may have survived this shift I’m going through, I am grateful for each of them. I ask God today to be at the center of each of them and I do my best to be selfless in them and not selfish like I once was.

It’s not a great feeling to be on the receiving end of fair-weathered friends, but I can assure you that if you are dealing with this, you might have been one of them yourself to someone at some point in your life like I was. If there are people in my life I don’t particularly like or want to be around, I don’t string them along anymore. I don’t lead them on to believe a friendship is growing between them and me. I don’t make plans just to cancel them or to check a box and satisfy some requirement that I have to go see them. And most importantly, I am there for them as best as I can be as sometimes just having a shoulder to lean on is all that a friend wants in the first place.

Look within. If you are being treated poorly by a friend, maybe you have treated them or someone else the same way.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

My “Call of Duty”

Every time I catch up on the news each day whether it’s watching it on television or reading it on the internet, there seems to be a new report on gun violence erupting somewhere. In the past year I’ve lost track of the number of deaths from each of these incidents. The worst of which was just a few months ago in Newton, CT.

When that happened, the United States seemed to join together in unity for a moment with mutual pain and suffering. There were many acts of charitable kindness and love that came out of this awful tragedy. It appeared as if everyone was finally on the same page that something needed to be done. And then the cries of outrage began and a division occurred between citizens of this country on how gun violence should be handled. Gun control, gun elimination, new and stricter laws on gun purchases and other political measures were sprung. This is where sadly I feel this country is off the path of how to heal and handle something like this.

Why is it that when horrible things happen that all of a sudden every person seems to say that some new policy needs to be enacted to prevent this from happening again? The responsibility for healing and growing from these terrible things is on each and every one of us, not on the government to make it go away.

Children are growing up with guns and violence today. I was appalled recently when I saw my nephews and my partner’s nephew as well playing a game titled Call of Duty. It started out with extreme vulgarity and then expanded into a first person shoot-em-up game with extremely graphic gun-induced bloodshed.

I know that “scientists” haven’t proven any correlation yet to these video games and the gun incidents that have happened, but does it really matter? Why do we want children to grow up with images of guns and bloodshed? It’s not even just in video games that this is happening. More and more movies are showcasing guns and bloodshed and kids are scrambling to get to the theater to watch them. The death counts in movies are rising up higher and higher.

It’s a known fact that repetitive behaviors change the thinking state of the mind. So isn’t it a no-brainer that if a child is watching gun violence everyday through movies or video games, that their brain may become accustomed to glorifying it and finding it a normal part of everyday living?

There was a time when I loved it myself. I played the violent games, and I saw every single movie filled with blood splatter patterns from the shooting of some type of gun. And I thought it was cool. Along the way, I changed. Being centered with God and wanting to be filled with a greater place of peace from within, I realized that what I was watching or taking part in was affecting this from happening. I don’t play those type of games anymore. And I have been going to those types of movies less and less and finding myself being drawn more to the lighter fare.

I believe that all great change on this planet begins with ourselves. If one is horrified by the gun violence in this country, then they must realize they can do their part by not exposing themselves or their family to it. There are plenty of other video games and movies to watch that aren’t filled with guns.

I truly wish people would begin to realize that it’s our “Call of Duty” to try to make a difference and help prevent these horrible tragedies like in Newton, CT or in Aurora, CO. It begins in our own homes, in our own actions, and in our own behaviors. I pray people begin to see that great change happens from within ourselves and not because a new law is enacted.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Accepting Acceptance

One of my most challenging, but deeply meaningful, prayers in AA comes from the 3rd edition of the Big Book on page 449 (or Page 417 in the 4th edition).

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.”

This is a profound prayer with deep meaning and insight. Most of my life I spent trying to change everything and everyone around me to make me happier. It never worked. There are infinite situations that will continue to happen around me and within me, that I cannot fix them all, if any of them really. I used to point the finger at everybody and everything saying that my life was bad because of them. What I never realized is that I didn’t accept any of it both outside of myself and within myself. Truthfully, I never sat still long enough to see this.

Lately, I’ve come to greater acceptance of people and things that go on around me. This came through the realization that I needed to accept those people as they were. Most of the time I prayed about them, and sent them happiness, love, and light when I found myself getting angry or irritated by someone or something that happened. Ironically, it has continued to work and I have been living a much more peace filled life at least in regards to the world going on around me.

The one challenge I still do face though when it comes to acceptance is my current state of health. Having temporary chronic pain in my life that has kept me reserved on so many levels continues to thwart my attempts at acceptance of life on life’s terms. Being unable to do sports, run, jog, or take part in any kind of physical activity that might cause me to break out in a good sweat is next to impossible right now for me. The memories of my life prior to these past few years where I was extremely physically active seem blurry now. I live with hope everyday in God’s healing hands with this but acceptance of it right here, right now, is extremely difficult. I spend most days praying for acceptance of it and sometimes even praying for accepting acceptance itself.

What I love best about this AA prayer is that if I take it literally that nothing happens in God’s world by mistake, then I am meant to be in this place right now in my life enduring this pain. I am not all seeing and all knowing. I don’t know why this has lasted so long. I don’t know why the process of healing from the previous toxic things in my life has been taking so much time. But this simple prayer has a deep truth to it. So I’ve been praying on changing my attitude towards it and just accepting it as best as I can that I am exactly where I’m meant to be right now.

Who knows? Maybe if these pains were all gone right now, that there is still some area within me that might drive me back out to my old unhealthy ways. Or maybe, I am meant to endure this awhile longer so that one day when it’s gone I may help another going through the same thing. For whatever reasons it may be, I am going to do my best to continue to pray for acceptance of how it is, trusting that God is guiding me, healing me as He sees fit, and that relief is on the horizon.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“If I Won The Lottery, I Would…”

Have you ever said those words? “If I won the lottery, I would…” I lost track of the number of times I said that in the past. I don’t say it anymore. And there’s a reason for that.

I grew up in a family that was middle to middle upper class. My father was a worker for IBM earning a considerable wage as compared to most others his age in the town I lived in. Other than having the responsibilities to raise two children, my mother also worked as an assistant librarian at the local public library in my hometown. I was raised in a mid-size single family home with a pool in the backyard. From my perspective as a dependent child, I was never poor and my parents never spoke about not having enough money to do the things they wanted. When I left home and went to college, they even paid in full for my tuition. I was only responsible for my day to day fun expenditures which a part-time job afforded me those things.

I never thought about the lottery until my parents cut the umbilical cord of financial support when I graduated from college and was on my own in my first corporate job. In January of 1995, at the age of 23, I was earning a pretty substantial wage of $34,000 a year. Except as I soon found out, my brain said that it wasn’t enough. Some may say I had a silver spoon childhood. Truthfully, I probably did. My parents tried to make up for their dysfunctional state by having the best of the best things for themselves as well as for my sister and I. When I became independent from them, I still wanted all those “nice shiny things” as I like to put it. That’s when I started playing the lottery, especially on those weeks that it passed the $100 million mark.

While my spending habits never got out of control, I daydreamed often of having more. Sitting in a sea of cubes and staring at a computer monitor all day, I wished for a better life never realizing that I had a pretty decent one.  I sat and socialized at times with my co-workers about what I’d do if I won the lottery. Everything I said was self-centered. I’d buy this, I’d buy that. I’d travel here, I’d travel there. I’d retire early. I’d have my own personal cook. And until those numbers were announced, I’d hold my breath and convince myself that I was going to be the next multi-millionaire. I never was. But something else happened…

My grandparents and parents all passed away between the years of 1996 and 2005 and each left my sister and I their life savings. While it was not the $100 million lottery winnings, it was quite substantial. Suddenly, those “nice shiny things” were within my grasp.

I bought multiple cars and multiple houses, new clothes, travelled the world, purchased the latest and greatest gadgets, and soon found myself with the same feeling I had when I sat in my cube wishing I would win the lottery…empty. Having the best of the best where I was in charge of my own money flow and not waiting for each paycheck didn’t bring any more happiness. If anything, it drove me to worry more about not having enough money and still thinking about winning the lottery. And yes, even with all that money, I continued to play the lottery.

It’s one of the greatest illusions in this world. When I didn’t have enough money, I did what I could to get more of what I want. And when I finally got more and really have enough, I worried about losing it, hoarded what I had, and chased after more.

Having all the “nice shiny things” in the world never did make me any happier. Instead, it made me more miserable. People stayed in my life because of what I had, or could give them, and not for just being a good guy with a good heart. The real truth though was that the more I had, the more I didn’t live in my heart and the more I lived that way, the more I became selfish and self-centered.

Along the way of living like that, I began to lose everything. First my heart and soul broke apart, then my mind, then most of my possessions, then my friends and relationships dissipated, and finally my health deteriorated. People say that when you really hit a deep bottom in life, that it’s the best place God can come in and do great work. I had no where else to turn, and I had lived in so much self-will and indulgence with no peace that I felt God would be the only one to show me what true peace really was. So I prayed.

“Dear God, I’ve had a taste of just about everything and never found any real happiness. I’ve been addicted to so many things and hurt myself and everyone around me in the process. My health has deteriorated and I’m lost and I’m broken. Please put me through whatever it is that I need to go through to find everlasting peace and happiness with You at the center of my life and to become a more selfless person in this lifetime. Please place the broken pieces together as You see fit. May Thy will not mine be done. I love you. Amen.”

That prayer changed my life. Words are a powerful thing, but so is a selfless prayer to God.

While I’m still in the throngs of the energetic shift that’s happened since that prayer, I don’t daydream anymore about what I’d do if I won the lottery or had a lot of money. I know what I did when I had enough. I squandered it, lost myself, and my way. My viewpoint has changed now. I’d rather be poor in finances and rich in spirit. I’d rather have a friend or two who love me for me rather than a ton of friends who want me for what I can give them. And I’d rather have old clothes and old possessions, and a new heart and new soul supercharged with God at the center.

I starting to have a much better outlook on my life today and beginning to feel more at peace. I still have rough days with my health and with this shift I’m going through. In fact, as I write this, I am enduring physical pain. But I’m looking at the bright side of it now. I know it’s not pain coming from what I’m doing anymore and I believe it’s all what I did that is leaving me.

Having all the money in the world did nothing other than make me more miserable. What I seek today is to heal from all of what happened when I thought I had everything and to have a richness in a God-centered life. For what money that still becomes part of my life, I’m living day to day in a more conservative fashion. Ironically, I’m still using an Iphone 3GS that was manufactured in 2009. Go figure.

I’ll end with this…Occasionally, when the lottery gets into the $250 million plus range as it sometimes gets, I still purchase a ticket or two. I do it more out of fun knowing I don’t have a remote chance to win it, and never really did. And I do it as well for I know that if I for whatever reason did win, there would be a lot of people in this world who have next to nothing that would benefit from it more than I would. In a spiritually centered God driven life, money has become only a tool to survive day to day and to give back with it as God sees fit.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“This Year Will Be Different!”

How often is it that we start a new year and tell ourselves that this year is going to be different?

I’m going to lose weight.

I’m going to quit drinking.

I’m going to get healthier.

I’m going to become more spiritual.

I’m going to take some vacation time.

I’m going to spend more time with my family.

I’m going to be nicer to my friends.

I’m going to find a new job.

I’m going to move to a new home.

I’m going to start saving money.

I’m going to…

Is this you?

I know it’s definitely been me.

Year after year, a new cycle of calendar year would begin with the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve and I would take a fresh outlook on the next 365 days. And somewhere along the lines, I would find myself again watching the next New Year’s Eve ball come down and telling myself what happened to this past year, why didn’t I do any of those things that I said I wanted to do.

Why did I always live for tomorrow? Why did I live for how much better my life might get tomorrow? Why do I long for what the future may hold instead of working on myself in today?

I’m sure for each person it’s different. There were times I stayed in jobs hoping that it might get better one day. I stayed in relationships hoping that they might improve over time, that the person might treat me better, might love me more, etc. I made plans to get healthier and take care of myself more but felt the task was too daunting to take the first action in achieving it so I’d sit back and do nothing but watch TV.

That changed because I was given chronic pain to endure for awhile. I been living with it now for just about 3 years. When it first started, I sat on the sidelines and thought it was just going to pass over time. I figured if I did nothing in my life different and just kept going on with how things were, it would slowly dissipate. I waited for God to basically just come in and fix me. What I didn’t realize is that there were actions I needed to take too. Things that were coming out of my self will that God had given me free will to do in the first place. There were actions I was doing in my life that were keeping me perpetually in pain. Much of it was due to the people I was spending time with, the actions I was doing with them and the way I was treating everyone everyday. My life was totally self-centered and I only thought of what I could get out of everything instead of what I could put into something.

About a year ago that began to change. My chronic pain hadn’t alleviated. If anything it had gotten worse. So when 2012 began, I took action. And that year began something new for me. I stopped living for what tomorrow was going to bring me and I started living in today on how I could be a better, healthier, more God centered individual. In doing so, I removed all those toxic people from my life, I prayed more, meditated more, spent more time at recovery meetings and places where I could share my own experience, strength and hope, and learned how to spend time taking myself out and doing things that I still could in the pain I was in. “Take yourself out on a date” my therapist had told me more than once. So I finally did. And I still do.

I’m getting healthier each and every day now. Spiritually, mentally, and emotionally I have definitely gotten relief from the levels of pain I had once felt in those areas every day. And physically, well, I know that relief is coming soon. I believe that because I place God first in my life, and am taking actions each day to get healthier, that the physical pain will leave me when it’s meant to.

Do I hope for a better tomorrow, one where I don’t have as much physical pain? Of course. I have hope. It’s what keeps me going sometimes. My hope is with God though, that I won’t be left in this place of pain. BUT, I am not sitting on the sidelines just wanting everything to be better because of God snapping His fingers or the universe aligning just perfectly for Andrew to have a good life. I am doing my part, to take action, to set plans, to lay forth a better tomorrow, a better week, and a better year, one where God is at the helm.

That age old adage is true…don’t wait for tomorrow for what you can start doing today. If you have a goal for this year, make a plan to achieve it and start doing actions towards it every day.

Today is all I have. I may not be here tomorrow. So, I try each today to live it to the best I can, the fullest that I can, where God is driving my bus.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Difficulty With Removing Some Addictions

Working through addictions can hard, especially depending on what the addiction is. Some are much harder to remove than others. While some are as simple of never consuming or doing again the thing itself one is addicted to, others aren’t that simple.

Drinking alcohol, taking drugs, smoking a cigarette, having a caffeinated beverage, eating chocolate, and gambling all fall under one side of the spectrum in addictions. For me, those were easier to remove the phenomenon of craving that went with each of them. Why? Because I didn’t need any of them to function in this lifetime. None of them were life essential and after removing them from my system and going through withdrawal for each, life went on.

Unfortunately, my addictions transferred to ones that weren’t as simple as to just remove them from my life. What about overeating, codependency, and sex and love? A human being has to eat to sustain life. Unless a human being goes into the wilderness or a monastery to be away from people, being in connection with others is next to impossible to avoid as well. And as for sex and love, I have found this is a part of being human and even with long durations of celibacy and withdrawal from others, the drive never went away.

Codependency for me is something that took an intensive amount of therapy to get to the source of why it was that I ended up in relationships with others that I felt I couldn’t survive without. Ultimately it was the fear of being alone. No matter how bad the relationship was, I seemed to always stay in it because the idea of being alone was worse. Working through this one is an ongoing thing for me. Spending time alone and doing things in life by myself is a big part of my recovery with codependency. I’ve learned I can be happy by myself doing things such as puzzles, watching movies, reading, writing, going to the beach, and even traveling. Making sure I spend time alone and learning to have a healthy relationship with myself has led to me being able to be in healthy independent relationships with others.

Overeating is a little more challenging in that I know starving myself won’t make it go away. Slowing down in my life through meditation and working with a counselor helped to see this addiction and its triggers a little clearer. For me at least, the main reason why I overeat was to feel an endorphin rush that I got from the food itself. I know that might sound crazy but food can make one feel good when eating it. I love pizza for example. When I have a single slice I really enjoy it. It’s when I have a whole pizza in one sitting when it becomes a problem. Economics labels it as the “law of diminishing returns”. With each amount of consumption, less satisfaction happens. Sadly though, an addiction based mentality doesn’t think that way, they think more is better and creates more of that good feeling. Being mindful as I eat is the only way I know how deal with this. I watch my portions. I try to stay away from buffets. And I do my best to eat as healthy as possible. I’d rather overeat carrots and get a little bloated then eat several large fries at McDonalds and feel depressed the next day.

Then there’s sex and love addiction. I put this last because it’s the hardest for me. To be sexual truly is a part of being human for almost every person in this world. To fall in love with someone is many a person’s dream. Even worse, one can’t go anywhere today without seeing sex or love plastered in your face. Billboards and signs, racy commercials, TV shows and movies continuing to take it one step further and push the envelope, and God forbid one mistypes on an internet search tool that might result in over a million pornographic websites returned in the listings.

Unfortunately, my first sexual/love based experience in this life was when I was molested at 12 years old. While I had been attracted and also a friend to this much older adult prior to the incident, I never deserved to be taken advantage of by this person and I was never given any counseling around it after it happened. To make matters worse, my family never helped me to understand my sexuality or my hormones that I was feeling which had preceded even before that tragic event. So I was left to believe that what I experienced was normal. My life pattern became a stream of dominant, abusive men that I allowed to take advantage of me both sexually, monetarily, and emotionally and sadly, I felt excitement around those terrible relationships because it was my “norm”. When someone came into my life that really was a healthy person who could love me for me, I’d run away. True love was foreign. I didn’t experience it as a child. Deep sexual intimacy was also foreign. I had never experienced it from the time I first had a sexual encounter nor in any of the people that followed.

I’ve been working on removing the effects of this addiction for the past nine months. I’ve lived for more than 27 years of my life with that addiction in charge of me. It’s been over nine months now where I’ve not let it be in control. There are many actions I’ve had to take to no longer have it in charge of my life. Cutting ties with those that triggered me was one of the first things I had to do. I had so many people in my life that were either lustrous objects or friends with benefits. All of them are gone now. Staying away from any type of pornographic material was another. Sadly it’s everywhere now. So many magazines are incredibly racy now and like I had already mentioned, it doesn’t take much to find images on the internet. I avoid today the places that triggered me as well like bars, or rave scenes, or house parties. I used to fantasize and daydream sexually a lot in my life as well. I don’t anymore. I don’t allow myself to. All of it perpetuated the downfalls of this addiction.

I am happy to say that I am finding a lot more freedom today from the burdens of this addiction and really an addiction based life. My body is still recovering on every level from living so long in so many addictions. I know it takes time. Snapping my fingers and wishing all of it would just go away hasn’t happened and probably won’t ever happen for me or anyone else. Removing any addiction takes a lot of hard work, prayer, meditation, and focus. It is possible to find freedom from any addiction. From my own experience, the solution was putting God at the center of my attempt to heal from any one of them. When I tried to find healing on my own, it never happened and I just went right back to any number of them. Living in God’s will or as a 12 step program puts it, a Higher Power’s will, has brought me more peace than I ever experienced when I was active in any addiction.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson