Daily Reflection

“The reason many people in our society are miserable, sick, and highly stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to things they have no control over.” (Steve Maraboli)

I was waiting for a recovery meeting to start the other day when someone suddenly made their cell phone’s alarm go off quite noticeably, all for the sole purpose of letting everyone there know it was past the time when it was supposed to begin. Another fellow attendee then abruptly yelled at this individual from across the room, telling them in an extremely angrily fashion to cut it out. The loud alarm was then promptly shut off, leaving both markedly tense and unhappy. I, on the other hand, simply smiled through the entire incident, maintaining a constant level of serenity. I wasn’t always like this though. Plenty of times throughout my life, I’ve been in the shoes of both of these people, doing everything I could to take control of things that ultimately were out of my control. All that ever did for me though was stress me out and cause my mind and body to grow unhealthier. This is precisely why I do my absolute best to let any of those things go now, even when they aren’t meeting my ego’s expectations of what I think they should or shouldn’t be. And thankfully, I can say I feel a lot more peaceful today because of it.

I pray that I may have the wisdom to know when it’s best for me to let go of control and I pray that when I do know that, I will practice acceptance instead.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“God’s Not Dead”, An Uplifting Movie About A Young Man’s Faith

If you were given a task to prove that God is not dead, could you do it? That’s precisely the premise of a movie I just watched, appropriately titled exactly that, “God’s Not Dead.”

The movie is about a college philosophy professor named Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) who’s a very devout atheist. Each and every semester he asks his students to write the words, “God is dead” on a piece of paper and then to sign their name below it, solely to prevent them from having to go through the age-old debate of whether God exists or does not. He makes a very strong case as to how difficult it will be for his class to discuss this topic if they choose to not sign the waiver and further indicates it will be 30% of their grade. In contrast though, he promises everyone an “A” for that portion of the class if they do sign it, of which everyone promptly does except one individual, a freshman named Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) who’s a very devout Christian. Radisson attempts to strong-arm Josh into signing it but to no avail, leading him no choice but to assign him the arduous task of proving to him and the class that God is not dead, thus creating the primary context of this movie.

While I don’t want to spoil the interconnectivity of all of the subplots that go on throughout the film, there’s one specific thing I’d still like to comment on. Professor Radisson argues a point that almost every atheist I’ve ever met has done with me as well. He asks Josh that if God exists, then why does God let bad things happen? His answer is one that I’ve come to know myself from my own spiritual journey and that’s the fact that if I were given an easy and constantly rewarding life, why would I ever have the desire to seek God? There’s great truth to those words because I never did seek God much at all during all those years I had hoards of money and close to perfect health. But through the major financial losses I’ve incurred and the health struggles I continue to endure, I’ve sought God in every way possible. But have I received proof of God’s existence through any of it? Well I’m going to take a page in Josh’s book here and say this instead of answering the question directly. While I may not have received any irrefutable proof yet that God exists, I haven’t at the same time received any that God doesn’t exist either. But what I do know is that it ultimately comes down to a choice. I can live a life of free will or I can live a life of faith.

Nevertheless, I must say that this movie did have an overly religious tone to itself, one that I might normally balk at. But ironically, overall I was extremely moved by it, so much so that I chose to pray and reaffirm my devotion to God and the unconditional love of Christ by the time it ended.

So I’m sure some will continue to take me or my review of this film the wrong way, believing I’m really just turning into another religious nut, but the truth is, I’m actually quite far from becoming that at all. In all honesty, what I am becoming is a firm believer that I can connect to God and the unconditional love of Christ through any number of ways, one of which was something as simple as watching “God’s Not Dead”, which I wholeheartedly recommend you do as well…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

“Is That All There Is?”

Approximately one week ago I heard this person share at a recovery meeting that they’d been sober for 10 months, but weren’t feeling so great about their life. They said that everyone else seemed to be doing so much more interesting things in life than them and then asked a question that drove the meeting’s topic that day.

“Is that all there is?”

What they were referring to is whether life had anything better to offer them than their current circumstances. I have to say that I could most definitely relate, because I have stood in that very spot time and time and time again, until I realized I needed to look a lot more within rather than outside of me.

The fact is I asked myself that very question,” Is that all there is?” after I bought my first home.

I asked myself “Is that all there is?” after buying several new expensive cars.

I asked myself “Is that all there is?” after buying my own B&B on an island surrounded by beautiful beaches.

I asked myself “Is that all there is?” after being on a bunch of luxury cruises on the ocean.

I asked myself “Is that all there is?” after acquiring the priciest cell phones and laptops.

I asked myself “Is that all there is?” after spending a month travelling throughout Europe.

I asked myself “Is that all there is?” after dining out at some of the most costly restaurants in the world.

I asked myself “Is that all there is?” after flying long distance on an all first-class flight.

The reality is that I asked myself “Is that all there is” constantly over the course of two decades of my life while I continued to look for happiness outside of myself. It wasn’t until I began to search within and learn to love myself a lot more did any of this change.

Thankfully, I can now sit in my backyard or spend time in the garden or work on a puzzle, all completely alone, and be 100% ok with it, even while knowing all those things are out there in the world that I could be doing like those who are doing them. And while my state of health has been currently preventing me from doing many more things that I’d like to do in life, it’s ultimately caused me to truly appreciate the simple things that I somehow always overlooked before.

The happiness I seek today really is from within, and not outside of me. It’s something that’s taken a lot of hard work and in all honesty, is still a work in progress. But the good thing is I don’t find myself asking, “Is that all there is?” anymore, mostly because I know now that my own happiness can’t come from any person, place, or thing outside of me. It’s only going to ever come from unconditionally loving myself from deep within, because through that, I know I’ll find appreciation in everything I already have…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Andy’s Woodsy Adventure – Chapter 16

Q: Did you hear the one about the jump rope?
A: No? Well never mind then, I think I’ll skip it…

Andy’s Woodsy Adventure (Chapters 1 to 15)

Andy’s Woodsy Adventure – Chapter 16

“TAURUS!”

“LIBRA!”

I said it as fast as I could, hoping it wasn’t too late and then I immediately headed towards the shore of the pond. It seemed like it took me forever to make it there though not having the Cancer ability enabled, but as soon as I reached the edge, I jumped out and raced over towards Chris, half noticing the few crows that were frozen in flight just above me.

“NOOOOOO!!!!” I screamed at the sight of Chris once I reached him. He was lying on the ground, legs both completely crushed and bones protruding outward in sickening angles.

I wanted to throw up at what my eyes were seeing and my heart was racing even faster than when I had been choking for air the first time I tried the Cancer zodiac. That boulder I had thrown carelessly was now resting at a 45-degree angle a few feet beyond Chris, leading me to believe it was still moving forward when I froze time.

I honestly didn’t know what to do. If I unfroze time, Chris could die. It was obvious the boulder had done tremendous damage to both of his legs and there was blood already spilling out everywhere, but frozen in mid-stream as well. I thought about each of the remaining zodiac symbols I hadn’t attempted to use yet and wondered if any of them could help me somehow. Then quite unexpectedly the image of Virgo, that symbol of the peaceful looking woman, appeared in my head.

Could it be possible the Virgo abilities could help fix this? I didn’t actually know the answer to that question, but I had no other option and I knew I couldn’t leave time paused forever.

“LIBRA!”

“VIRGO!”

Immediately the huge piece of rock I had thrown so hastily towards Chris flew forward and came to a rest a good hundred feet away, and was then followed by an intense and extremely distraught sounding voice.

“AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH” Chris screamed at the top of his lungs. He continued to do this over and over again as he looked down in horror at his crushed legs, with blood pouring out from each, It was then I began to notice my hands were heating up and vibrating as well, almost as if each of the molecules in them had unexpectedly come alive and were reaching a boiling point. My body then rapidly went into autopilot, somewhat making me feel like my actions were now out of my control. As I knelt down on the ground next to Chris, I placed my hands on his severely mangled legs and started to dry heave in the process. I became overly thankful at that moment for not having had anything to eat in a good while, as I definitely would have gotten sick all over him if I had.

At that precise moment, I so wanted to rub my eyes and make sure I was truly seeing what I was, but I couldn’t as they were both held firmly in place on Chris’s legs. Bolts of energy then began shooting through me that felt an awful lot like when I had put a fork in an electric outlet a few years ago, except this time it seemed as if my body was able to harness the energy somehow. In rapid fashion, time appeared to move backwards as I watched Chris’s bones re-connect back together piece by piece. The blood that had flown out of his body then started moving backwards into him as well. I continued to dry-heave as the torn muscles and tendons in his body quickly snapped back into place. And finally, the skin on both legs closed itself up, leaving no trace or sign that any damage had ever taken place. The heat in my hands and the sense of vibration within them, along with any of those pulsations, then abruptly disappeared.

“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!!” Chris said angrily jumping to his feet and hitting my arm with a pretty good amount of force.

“OWW! Geez, what kind of thank you is that?” I said as I rubbed my arm.

You almost killed me!”

“But I didn’t!”

“That’s not the point!”

“I’m sorry! It’s not like I’ve had years to practice all these zodiac powers you know!”

“Fair enough, but I think we probably need to take things a little slower in your training from here on out.”

“I agree. So I’m just wondering, would it be ok if I call you peg-legs from now on?”

“OWW!” Chris hit my arm again, this time even harder, as we both laughed off the whole experience and began walking back towards his house.

Chris spent the entire journey back talking about some more ideas for my Keeper of the Zodiac training. I actually didn’t hear much of what he said at all because I was still deep in thought about how close I had come to permanently injuring or possibly even killing him. The image of his crushed and bleeding legs was plastered across my mind and I couldn’t seem to think about anything else. I was grateful though when we re-emerged into his backyard because the sight of my family who had already arrived for the barbeque seemed to do take my mind off the whole incident. It was pretty close to 5pm and at the moment everyone was snacking on some chips and drinking some soda.

“Well there you are! Did you two have fun exploring the woods today?” said Mr. Riley cheerfully.

“It was a blast Dad. Andy almost killed me, but it was definitely a blast!” said Chris with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

I jabbed Chris in the side and smiled nervously at his parents.

“What happened?” asked my sister.

“Oh nothing. We were just horsing around. You know how boys get, right Mom?” I said sheepishly.

“Uh huh.” My sister and mother both said in unison as they rolled their eyes.

Thankfully no one else asked any further questions and shortly thereafter, we all were munching down on some exceptionally tasty cheeseburgers, potato salad, coleslaw, and corn on the cob. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I had the first few bites within me. Before all was said and done, I had consumed three burgers and had several helpings of everything else.

“Wow, where are you putting all of that Andy? Didn’t you eat anything else today?” asked my mother with a smile, as I finished my third helping.
In all reality, I hadn’t eaten anything other than a bowl of cereal that morning, which made me wonder if using the Zodiac powers were going to require a lot more food than I was used to consuming.

Yeah, I kind of skipped lunch today Mom.” I said while everyone stared at me.

“It’s yes, not yeah young man!” my mother said sternly.

“Sorry!” I said turning red, as my sister snickered.

“Hey Dad, why don’t you tell Andy’s parents about that camping trip we’re thinking about taking. Maybe we can all go?” Chris said coming to my rescue.

“What camping trip?” I whispered to Chris.

“I hadn’t gotten a chance to tell you about it yet, given the fact I was so preoccupied with almost losing my legs you know.” Chris whispered back with a chuckle.

Mr. Riley spoke about their annual upcoming late fall trip into the mountains where they always rent a log cabin for a long weekend. It sounded like it could be a lot of fun and appeared as if there would be plenty of room for my family to join them. My parents liked the idea, but it was apparent my sister wasn’t all too enthused about it. The conversation ended when Mrs. Riley emerged out of the house and announced it was time for dessert.

By the time we all were done enjoying the warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream, it was beginning to get dark. Everyone then decided it’d be best to move the festivities inside and play some type of game together. As we all chipped in and grabbed something to help with the cleanup process, I picked up the remaining pie and tub of ice cream and headed up the porch stairs towards the kitchen. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really paying attention to each of the steps I was ascending because I suddenly found myself falling forward, while the pie and ice cream flew out of my hands and into the air.

“Oh Crap!” I shouted as my hands lunged for them.

Instantly, that strange vibration-like sensation then quickly returned to my hands, making me realize I had never turned off the Virgo sign. And that’s when I noticed there in front of me the pie and tub of ice cream motionless in the air, about a foot off the porch’s floor. Except there was no way time could have been paused seeing everyone was still moving. In fact they were all heading up the porch steps right now and from the look on my sister’s face, I could tell she had already seen what was lying stationary in mid-air directly in front of me…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

June’s Questions For You To Ponder

Well it’s that time of the month again to pose my monthly spiritual questions for everyone to ponder. I hope each of you will take the time to mull them over and maybe even share a few of your responses after you have. And as always, my own answers are listed below as well.

  1. What do you think happens to you after you die?
  2. What is your definition of a true friend?
  3. What is your ideal partner/soulmate?
  4. If you could become famous, what would it be for?
  5. If you had a terminal illness with less than six months to live, what three things would be most important for you to do?
  6. If you and three others were the only remaining people left on earth, who would you want those three to be?
  7. If you were to get stuck on an elevator for a few hours, whom would you want to be stuck in there with?
  8. What is your most painful memory?
  9. What would you do differently in life, if you knew no one would ever judge you again?
  10. Describe a miracle that’s happened in your life?

And one more for good measure:

  1. If you could have God answer one question, what would it be?

My answers:

  1. First, a reflection back upon my entire life, including my choices, decisions, and lessons learned. Second, time spent with others in spirit form, including ancestors and other beings of light. Third, rest and relaxation in a place I could constantly change its surroundings to be filled with amazing beauty. And finally, the option to return into a new physical form with more lessons to grasp in the next life.
  2. Someone who is concerned more often with the needs, wants, and desires of another than themselves.
  3. Someone who’s main desire is to grow closer to their Higher Power, who knows happiness comes from within, and who shows unconditional love towards everyone, including themselves.
  4. Speaking or writing.
  5. Make sure I’m free of any anger or resentment towards anyone or anything. Spend it in a beach home by a crystal blue ocean. Chronicle everyday of it to later become a book titled “Six Months To Live…”.
  6. The Dalai Lama, my partner, and my spiritual teacher.
  7. No one, just me.
  8. Either the day my father took his own life or the one where my mother took her tragic fall down the stairs.
  9. I’d be far more open about my sexuality than I am, like holding my partner’s hand in public.
  10. Becoming fully sober from addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, cigarettes, sex, codependency, love, caffeine, and shopping and completely healing from a traumatic childhood that included mental, verbal and sexual abuse, and bullying.
  11. God, why don’t you ever talk to me directly so that I can hear your voice?

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Two Fears About The Upcoming 2015 AA International Convention

In just under a week, I have plans to be in Atlanta, Georgia for the 2015 International AA Convention with my recovery friend Kim from Falmouth, Massachusetts. While I am excited to see her and be a part of a recovery event that happens only once every five years, I’m actually feeling very fearful about the trip for two reasons, one that deals with my health and one that deals with the closest friend I’ve ever had. In either case, I’ve determined the only thing I can do for each is to keep turning them over to my Higher Power, which is God.

The first fear is about something that if you’ve been reading most of my blogs, you’re already going to know a lot about it. Having a mind and body that isn’t functioning at a comfortable level is difficult enough. But travelling by plane to a city and a convention where I will be around tens of thousands of people at any given time doesn’t seem all that alluring to me at the present moment. In fact, I’ve enjoyed spending most of my free time lately being by myself where I don’t have to entertain the constant frustrating comments from far too many people who really don’t understand what and how long I’ve been going through. Regardless, I know I’m doing my absolute best to stay in the healthiest state I can, but even so, my heath issues have made me think about cancelling this trip quite a bit actually in recent weeks. I haven’t though because I have no idea what God has in store for me nor do I have any idea how I will ultimately feel there. In fact, my whole healing process has been a constant rollercoaster, with plenty of ups and downs. But the fact remains that I’m doing everything I possibly can to heal and I know the rest remains in God’s hands. Ironically, I also have just as much concern over my other fear with going to this convention.

This other fear deals with someone I’ve written about before as well, but not for some time. It deals with the friend I originally planned this trip with. Eighteen years ago, we became friends because of AA and while we had plenty of ups and downs throughout all those years, many because of my character defects and sex and love addiction, we somehow always made it through, growing closer than ever. But my move last year to Toledo, away from where he still lives in Massachusetts, triggered something in him, prompting him to pull back from corresponding with me as often and then eventually cancelling his plans to spend the convention with me as well. During our last conversation, which was in late September, I became less and less understanding of the distance he was placing between us and of the actions he was taking, which prompted the decision for him to take some further time to think about things. The last thing he said before we hung up the phone was that he’d be in touch very soon and that we’d work through this like we always have. Nine months have now passed without any contact and my last correspondence to him through an amends letter in the mail was never responded to. While you may think the feelings I have inside about this friend may be of anger and resentment, let me clarify they’re not. What I hold within is sadness and a longing for a friend that understood me better than anyone ever has. The idea of still going to this convention and seeing him there with the friends he chose to be with instead, brings great sorrow within me. And even though I know the odds of running into him isn’t that high given the amount of people that are going to be there, my mind has still run rampant of what I’d say and do if I possibly did.

Both of these fears have reminded me of what someone once told me long ago. They said that whenever we face a choice in life, the one with the greatest fear is the one we’re meant to take, because it’s on that one that God has the greatest chance to demonstrate a miracle. For the past few months, I’ve continued to do just that, by staying with my plan to go to Atlanta for this upcoming AA convention. Sure, I could easily take my will back by cancelling the trip and playing it completely safe, but that’s an awful lot like how I’ve always done things. So I’ve decided that if my health is poor while there, I can always stay by the pool at the hotel and reach out to my partner for love and support. And as for my friend, if the powers may be align our paths while there, I plan to give him a hug and tell him I love him because I know that’s what God would want me to do. In the meantime, I’m going to continue praying about this upcoming trip for God’s will and for God to dispel both of these fears…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Reshaping A Sullen Day In The Past With Gratitude

Have you ever had a special day planned, one you were truly looking forward to, only to see it be spoiled somewhat by some health issues when that day arrived? Just a few weeks ago this very thing happened to me on my 43rd birthday, and by the time it was over, I was feeling very sad and frustrated and having no gratitude whatsoever. But thankfully I remembered that gratitude can be practiced at any point in time, even for things that have already taken place, which is precisely what today’s entry is all about, making a little gratitude list for my 43rd birthday.

  • I’m grateful that I had my loving partner Chris to spend my birthday with, as there have been many birthday’s where I was either alone or allowing myself to be verbally abused by someone.
  • I’m grateful I made it to my recovery home group on my birthday because it’s also the same day I celebrated my AA anniversary. There I received my 20th year medallion, which is a far cry from the many birthdays I never went to a meeting at all and had my medallion sent to me in the mail.
  • I’m grateful one of my sponsees and his wife took my partner and I out to a nice lunch by the water on my birthday, as there were so many birthdays I either paid people to go out with me or had to pay for myself when all my friends said they were broke.
  • I’m grateful Chris treated me to a one-night stay at an amazing hotel on my birthday. There I enjoyed sitting on my room’s balcony that overlooked a river, relaxing in my room’s huge whirlpool tub, riding down a pretty cool tube-based slide on a raft several times (one even with Chris), and swimming in a very quiet indoor pool. Once again, I can recollect too many birthdays where I paid people to go on a trip with me enticing them with a stay at some lavish hotel.
  • I’m grateful for the bountiful German dinner and breakfast I had with my partner on my birthday where I ate things like chicken schnitzel, cheesecake, Quiche Raclette and Austrian pancakes, as there were plenty of birthdays where my meals were nothing to write home about at all.
  • I’m grateful for the homemade cheeses and cupcakes Chris bought for me the next morning, as they are treats I’m still enjoying even now. This is definitely different from the many birthdays where I had nothing left to enjoy once the day passed.
  • I’m grateful for all those people who either called me, texted me, or Facebook messaged me on my birthday, as there were quite a substantial amount of them. The fact is I’ve experienced far too many birthdays where unless I told people about it, hardly anyone would remember.
  • I’m grateful for the conversation I had with my spiritual teacher on my birthday, as she had just the right words to say that helped me to feel a little better, which is contrary to some birthdays where people would tell me to just get over it if I wasn’t feeling so great.
  • I’m grateful for the special present my sister sent me on my birthday from Edible Arrangements and for the gift card my partner gave me to Starbucks, as I know there have been birthdays where I didn’t have anything to open at all.
  • I’m grateful to my friends Jym and DW for taking care of my home and my cat for free while I was away for the night, as I used to be pretty hard-pressed to find anyone who would do anything for me out of the kindness of their heart on prior birthdays.
  • And last, but really the most important to me, I’m grateful to God for helping me have the courage to look back on this year’s 43rd birthday and find some gratitude in it, as I know that there were way too many birthdays throughout my life where I had little to no connection with God at all.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

What do you do when someone hurts you? Do you try and hurt them back? Take for example a time you find yourself driving on the road and a person purposely cuts you off. Do you speed up and try to do the same thing back to them? Or maybe you flip them off with your middle finger as they do it? Or do you try to do something else altogether just to get even? Hopefully it’s none of things because going tit for tat only leads in one direction and that’s to greater spiritual imbalance. While this is just a simple example of what an eye for an eye looks like, there are countless of other ways this happens all too often nowadays. Case in point, I’ve been a recent recipient of harsh judgments about various aspects of my life from several different individuals. But rather than allow my ego to send my own harsh judgments back onto them, I’ve refrained from responding at all. Why? Because I know that any time I’ve ever tried to get back at someone, wanting them to feel how I feel, it’s only resulted in me becoming even angrier and more unsettled. I believe this is precisely why there is as much senseless violence in the world these days as there is because so many continue to seek revenge hoping it will mend their pain. It never works though. The only solution I’ve found that ever does is to keep sending any person that hurts me three things, love, forgiveness, and peace, and I do that until the pain is gone. Trust me, it works, but an eye for an eye never does.

I pray to be free of any anger I hold towards ________ and I send them love, forgiveness, and peace.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Pixar’s “Inside Out”, A Delightful Film That’s All About Our Emotions

I’ve been a big fan of many of Disney’s Pixar movies over the years including all three of the Toy Story’s, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Up, The Incredibles, and Cars. The realistic animation and uplifting story lines of each even moved me enough to purchase them for my home DVD collection. But now I know I’ll need to add another one to that collection when it eventually arrives on DVD and that’s Pixar’s latest film, which is titled Inside Out.

Inside Out is an interesting tale about a girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and the emotions that live within her, where each has their own unique personality: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). Residing in the headquarters of Riley’s mind, it is they who are responsible for handling every situation in her life and helping her to form her memories, of which are all stored in small spheres that produce a certain color depending on the emotion attached to the memory itself.

Joy’s sole duty is to make her happy, while Fear’s is to keep her safe. Anger’s main job is to help her stand up for herself, while Disgust’s is to steer her away from things she doesn’t like. And last, but definitely not least is Sadness, who’s actually totally unsure of her primary responsibility and instead feels the only thing she really does is make a mess of everything. But how each handles all the circumstances of Riley’s life becomes far more evident when her parents uproot her from their hometown of Minneapolis and move to San Francisco due to her father’s job. As it is there in San Francisco that Riley faces many of the pains we all face when growing up, including loneliness, rejection, embarrassment, and despair. Unfortunately, Joy does everything she can to take control of Riley’s life, trying to constantly keep her happy, which only leads to a mishap with core memories when Sadness touches one of them. The adventure the two emotions take deep into Riley’s inner world to correct the calamity they created is what makes this movie truly original and refreshing.

What I found most fascinating and ironic about Inside Out is how my own emotions ran the entire gamut alongside Riley’s. I found myself feeling her joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear and honestly, that’s precisely why I loved this film as much as I did. What’s funny is how my partner and I kept pointing the fingers at each other during the entire movie at some of the specific ways each individual emotion acted, because we clearly saw ourselves in so many of them.

The fact is I laughed, I cried, was occasionally irritated, at times nervous, and even became a little repulsed while watching Inside Out. But it wasn’t until afterwards did I realize that’s pretty much how my own life ultimately is, so maybe that’s why I absolutely treasured this priceless gem of a movie like I did.

Pixar truly outdid themselves this time and I without a doubt give this film my best rating of 5 stars. When an animated picture about emotions can produce the exact same ones within me that ranged from explosive laughter to profuse tears, it’s relatively easy for me to say there’s definitely a lot of that Disney magic imbedded within Inside Out…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

PS – And don’t forget to stay for the credits, as I’m sure you’ll be laughing out of your seat then too! My personal favorite was the final scene with the cat…

Daily Reflection

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” (Thomas Edison)

I’ve been going through the most difficult storm over the past few years of my life. This storm I speak of is a quest I embarked upon to heal holistically and allow my body to naturally rid itself of all the things that have ever kept me out of the light and away from God. There have been plenty of days though, especially recently, where I’ve truly felt like giving up. Sometimes that’s manifested through old addictions tempting me to return to them. Sometimes it’s manifested through friends or acquaintances telling me how ludicrous this quest is and encouraging me to go get on some medications. And sometimes it’s even manifested in a desire to take my life just like my parents did. Thankfully, I haven’t done any of these things because I’ve always been told that most people who end up quitting a difficult journey they undertook, usually occurs right before they were about to reach their goal. So I don’t plan on giving up, not this close to the end, and God willing, the treasure I’ve sought so determinedly is actually almost in my grasp.

I pray I remain steadfast on my path even while the winds of my storm continue to push me down. I pray that I never give up because my success totally depends on it.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

How often have you tried to fit in, be like someone else, or act like another? For the longest time, it seems like that’s all I really did. I had real idea who I was, what I liked, and was incredibly afraid to be myself because I thought if I was, no one would like me. The problem was that in being what everyone else thought I should be, I ended up not liking myself much at all. In fact, I ultimately loathed myself more than not all the times I played that chameleon and adapted to any of those I spent time with. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to be like everyone else did I truly find myself. And when I did, I learned I was actually a pretty neat guy, quite unique and extraordinary in my own way. Which is why I believe it’s so important now for me to always be myself, than be like anyone else, because I finally am learning to like myself just as I am.

I pray that I may let go of trying to be like anyone else in life and that I learn who I really am inside. Help me to be myself no matter what and help me to like what I find deep within.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Immediate Gratification And The 12 Steps

I heard a woman say the other day in a recovery meeting that she didn’t know why she keeps putting off her step work. Everyone seemed to have a different opinion, which ranged from laziness to fear, but none of them mentioned the one thing I believe is the real reason why anyone ever puts off anything. It all comes down to immediate gratification.

Here’s a question for you. If I said I’d give you $1000 once you complete that task you’ve been putting off for quite sometime, would you jump on it right away to get it done? My bet is you would. I mean who wouldn’t complete something they’ve been putting off for awhile if there was a reward involved?

But you see that’s the problem with the 12 Steps. There’s no immediate reward or payout that comes from doing them. There’s not any major high associated with doing the work in each of the steps. In fact, it’s often just the opposite because step work can frequently cause one to feel restless, irritable, and discontent as they progress through it. I put off doing my 12-step work for over a decade simply because it wasn’t going to give me any immediate gratification like many of the other things I was doing in life.

The truth is that most people are usually driven into doing things that provide them instant reward, even more so for people who’ve ever suffered from an addiction. While doing the 12 steps might provide at times a sense of satisfaction for completing the work, the fact remains that the payout is nothing compared to the quick highs that can be found elsewhere in this world so easily.

I generally find the only way someone ever does the entire 12 Step process is when the pain becomes great enough. Until then, it’s often tossed aside in favor of all those other things in life that provide the ego an instant sense of ease and comfort. And in all reality, this same principle normally holds true with any other type of work a person puts off in life.

All of this clearly reminds me of the former love I used to have for cigarettes. Several decades ago, my father once offered me a very large sum of money to quit that habit. I knew I could use that cash for a car and plenty of other things. All I had to do was go clean for the period of time he was asking, which I believe was either 6 months or a year. Regardless, I agreed to his terms and kicked the habit for the entire time he asked for. I was promptly rewarded with the money the day I completed it and sadly within a week, I was back to smoking again. It wasn’t until I started having serious health issues in my lungs and throat did I finally quit the nasty habit altogether, once and for all.

So the point I’m trying to make here is real simple. The work any of us continue to put off in this world, no matter what it is, most likely doesn’t have any immediate gratification attached to it. Doing the 12 Steps is just one example of countless things people put off in life for this reason and pain seems to be the only motivator that often drives us to ever get it done. But ironically, I’ve come to believe there actually is a level of gratification that comes with completing any task we ever procrastinate on. We just have to be open to it and not let our ego tell us what we think it should be. Case in point, working and living the 12 Steps as diligently as I have tried to, has led to a payout of a much healthier life and a much closer relationship to my Higher Power, and to me, that’s a pretty big payout…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Crosby, Texas

Everyone knows that it’s quite possible for memories to fade, especially as one grows older. Sometimes they’re the short-term ones and other times, they are the long-based ones. Given this fact, I have to say there are some of my memories I hope I never forget. One of which is something I decided to write about today and that was my childhood experiences in Crosby, Texas.

Crosby, Texas is a rural community about 25 miles away from Houston that has a population of around 2220. There’s really not much to do in the town itself, but it does hold a special place in my heart for one reason and one reason only. It’s the place where my mother’s parents owned a lake house that I visited every single year growing up until just before it sold in the mid to late 90’s.

I truly have very fond memories of this lake house. It was situated in a small community off a road named Appaloosa Trail and was the third to last house on a dead-end cul-de-sac. For about two weeks every year, my family would visit my Grandma and Grandpa Tenz there. Most often it was to get away for a quick stint from the cold winters we experienced in upstate New York.

I was always so excited to fly Pan Am Airlines there, as back then flying was a lot more fun. On those flights, I’d get a full meal in coach class, a wing pendant from the captain, and even a new deck of cards to play with from the stewardess. But the first real treat I got was once we landed and walked down the jetway, because it was then I felt that warm, humid air hit my face, given how different it was from the cold, dry one I had just left a few hours earlier.

My grandparents always gave me a huge, warm hug, as they greeted us once we entered the terminal because back then everyone was allowed to wait by the gate. Leaving the airport was fun as well because the parking garages had these huge cylinders that cars had to drive around to get out of them. It constantly felt like a mini-roller coaster to me. My grandparents drove Pontiac Bonneville’s, one brown and one blue, each with plush interiors and AC consistently cranked. Ironically that blue one would become my first car many years later. Anyway, the drive home from there was mostly country, but I fondly remember we always had to cross Lake Houston on a bridge that felt quite peaceful to me. I think that’s mostly because my grandparents had a patio you could sit out on and see the sunset over both that bridge and the adjacent railroad one too. And I frequently thought it was kind of neat to watch trains cross the water from their house, especially when they blew their whistle and roared across it.

Passing into Crosby, Texas held one other distinct memory for me as well. On either side of the road were these small metal cranes that were constantly moving up and down, bringing oil to the surface. The immediate sight of them was when I knew we were almost to our lakefront destination. And not too long after, we’d take a right turn into their development that I can honestly say I don’t know how it looks anymore, as it’s been almost 20 years since I last drove down Appaloosa Trail. But back then, the houses were all relatively small and unique looking, evenly spaced from one another, each with very coarse and short cut grass. The very last thing we’d pass prior to actually entering their driveway was a small playground on the right and a golf course on the left. I used to play on that playground quite a bit, enjoying the most a circular contraption that kids pushed you around on until you got dizzy.

Anyway, the first thing I’d generally notice while pulling into the open carport that never had any garage doors was the small fire pit along the driveway. I used to love burning some of the brush and debris there and smelling the smoke in the air. The driveway also had a nice slant to it, which made it a great place to ride bikes or play outdoor games on.

As for my grandparent’s one story home, one might say it was not all that spectacular to look at, nor large by any standards, although I found great beauty in it. Each of its bedrooms were quaint, especially the one my sister and I shared, which contained two bunk beds. As a young kid, I liked sleeping on the top bunk the most, but as I grew older, I gravitated towards staying down below instead.

Across from our room were the front door and a bathroom, and a small hallway that led to either the main room or my grandfather’s office where he collected and stored each of his stamps and coins. The other side of his office was the guest room where my parents stayed that contained a second door to my grandparent’s room. It was rarely opened and next to their bedroom were the other bathroom and small hallway that also led into the main room, which really was my favorite part of the inside of the house to spend time in.

In this room were huge vaulted ceilings that had exposed wooden beams sprawled across it. I often tried to jump as high as I could to see if I could touch them, but I never did. The room was also filled with a huge beige sectional, two rocking recliners, a color television that got about 7 stations, floor to ceiling windows that either looked out onto the driveway or out onto the lake, and a tiny kitchen that had a long countertop, which reminded me of one that could be seen at an old-fashioned soda fountain. We ate all our meals at this countertop on tall spinning stools, which of course I always liked to see how fast and how many revolutions I could do when on one. Breakfast was always my favorite there only because my grandmother bought the 12-pack of those sugar cereals that my parents only let us eat on vacation.

The most alluring parts of the property though for everyone were the wooden deck, the backyard, and the dock, boat and lake just down the winding sidewalk. I spent a lot of time out there exploring like a kid usually does continually finding tons of lizards, spiky balls that dropped from trees that hurt incredibly if you stepped on them, ducks, and plenty of other things in nature to enjoy, like the drainage ditch that went into the lake or the waves that crashed up onto the cement wall.

I learned how to waterski, and fish in that lake and even remember being able to drive my grandparent’s boat a few times down to the dam. But ultimately, I think what I remember most often from each of my trips to their lake house in Crosby, Texas was how my family would somehow come together and act like a family for the time we were there. We played games, took walks, had long bike rides for sodas and frozen treats, watched shows on television, go out to nice dinners, and laugh a lot.

While we haven’t owned that home in almost two decades, and while Crosby, Texas may be a distant memory for me now, it’s still one that brings me warm thoughts anytime I think about my vacations there. I really miss those times, mostly because I don’t remember the fighting, the arguing, and the misery that often came in our home back in New York, but for whatever the reason, life on Appaloosa Trail for me was how I always imagined family life could be. I thank God for these memories and truly am grateful to have a place that will forever hold a loving place in my heart.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“The older you get, the more you realize that the way you look is a reflection of how you treat yourself.” (Hope Davis)

I used to despise myself on so many levels and any mirror only reflected back upon me the darkness I was living in. It wasn’t so much in the clothes I wore or in my physique, even though they frequently did echo where my heart and soul was. It also wasn’t so much in the things I regularly said, mostly because I was a master manipulator with my words. It was actually through my day-to-day actions that I came to loathe almost every part of myself. The more I lived with hate, anger, and resentment and the more I did everything I could to keep myself numb through any number of addictions, the more my reflection truly showed just how poorly I was treating myself. Thankfully, as I got older it all caught up with me, and through the help of my Higher Power I found the willingness to do something about what I saw looking back at me everyday. I’m grateful to say I like myself a lot more these days and can truly appreciate now what I see reflecting in the mirror.

I pray I learn to treat myself with nothing but unconditional love, so that I may learn to fully embrace that which I see in the mirror everyday.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Don’t Engage, Disengage!

What do you do when a person suddenly verbally attacks you with some vicious words? Do you engage and throw your own verbal nastiness back or do you disengage and walk away? For most of my life I’ve done the former, until I began to realize it was directly affecting my ability to find any bit of serenity in this world. But over the past few years, I begun practicing the latter, and have experienced a lot more peace because of it. In fact, I had one such occasion about a week ago.

It occurred over the Facebook chat tool when out of the clear blue I received a message from someone I knew who I had a checkered past with, but hadn’t talked to in a good while. They had apparently read some of my recent blog entries and had some choice words to say about them. They most definitely were derogatory in nature and it was more than evident they were trying to tear my character apart. They claimed I was becoming a religious nut and that no one could go through the changes I’ve been going through, because apparently they feel people are who they are and never change much in life. Ironically, this is not the first time I’ve dealt with this since I undertook writing a blog that looks for the spirituality in everything.

After reading their messages a few times, I must be honest and say that my ego really wanted to react. It wanted to fight back and give this person a piece of my mind. But I didn’t. Why? Because I realize today that by engaging in a verbal battle, it causes not one, but two people to become irritated, angry, or resentful. It was apparent that this person was feeling those things by their words after reading them, except I wasn’t. That would have changed immediately though by saying what my ego wanted me to say and stepping into that verbal battle. Instead, I prayed for this person, sent them love, forgiveness, and peace and then deleted their messages, feeling a lot more serene in the process.

I had completely forgotten about the whole incident until the next morning, which was when I received another message from this person, except this time it was a sincere apology. In it, they owned up to their harsh words and felt bad about what they had said to me. I actually did respond to this message by saying thank you and that I had already forgiven them.

The bottom line with today’s entry is this. It’s my firm belief that engaging in any verbal battle with someone else that has just attacked you is exactly what he or she wants. Anyone who’s saying nasty things to you is already somewhat spiritually off-balanced in life. Joining them in the battle through your own verbal attacks on their character is only going to cause you to become more spiritually off-balanced in life as well. This is why I find it’s so much better these days to disengage and walk away from these types of situations, all while blessing the verbal attacker with love, forgiveness, and peace. While it may challenge your ego to take this higher road, I can promise you that you’ll end up feeling a lot more peaceful and serene in doing so…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Andy’s Woodsy Adventure – Chapter 15

Q: Did you hear about the guy whose left side got cut off?
A: Yeah, but I hear he’s all right now.

Andy’s Woodsy Adventure (Chapters 1 to 14)

Andy’s Woodsy Adventure – Chapter 15

I sprinted quickly under the water back to the other side and as the edge loomed near, I decided to try something. I kicked ferociously moving my body angled upward like a dolphin might and suddenly found myself flying into the air straight out of the pond and towards Chris.

“CANCER!” I said as I did a somersault forward and landed on my two feet.

“Show off!” said Chris.

“See I don’t need any training, I got this!” I said feeling rather proud of myself.

“Sure you don’t Mr. Air Gasper…”

“Hey, I would have eventually figured it out.”

“Uh huh. You might not get an ‘eventually’ in certain situations you know.”

“Alright alright, I get it, no need for a lecture, so what’s next?” 

“Are you ready to try a new Zodiac sign?”

“Absolutely!” I said extremely confident. 

Having mastered the Cancer power I did feel rather assured that the rest of this training and becoming a full-fledged Keeper was going to be a walk in the park. Little did I know what was soon to come would absolutely test my limits.

“Ok, I want you to try Taurus. I’m pretty sure I know what it does.” said Chris as I changed out of the bathing suit and back into my normal clothes.

“Pretty sure? That’s not very reassuring Chris.” I said sarcastically while tying my shoes.

“My gut tells me it deals with super-strength ok? Look, I’m just trying to go with my Guardian senses here, so cut me a little slack and don’t worry, I’m positive it’s not going to make you gasp for air,” he said snickering.

“Ha ha, that jokes going to get old real fast.”

“Not for me!” Chris said as he held his throat with both hands and pretended to gasp for air.

I wasn’t amused.

“Ok, see that huge boulder over there?” Chris pointed to a massive rock nearby that stood about 8 feet high and measured about 6 feet wide.

“Yeah…”

I want you to try to lift and throw it once you activate the Taurus Zodiac.”

“Alright…TAURUS!”

Nothing felt different after I’d said it. I paused for a moment waiting to see if anything would happen, but nothing did. My muscles didn’t become huge monstrosities nor did my body change at all. In fact, I didn’t feel any different.

“I don’t think it did anything!” I said to Chris as I approached the boulder.

“Just try lifting it!”

“Well what if the power is something else, I could end up hurting myself!”

“Just do it and stop worrying!”

I wasn’t really sure how I was going to lift this mammoth rock regardless if the Taurus power was super-strength or not because it was so dam wide. But when I saw an area at its base where I was able to slide my hand underneath, I figured I would do my best to lift it from there. I thought for a moment about the last time I sat at a weight bench trying to lift a measly 50 pounds and how hard it was, and figured this would be the same. As my the palms of my hands touched the rock’s underside firmly at its edge, I pulled as hard as I could upward and suddenly the boulder flew straight into the air. I watched as it quickly passed the highest height of the trees surrounding me, rising hundreds of feet skyward until it eventually stopped its ascent and hurriedly began falling back towards the earth and back towards the precise spot where I now stood.

“Oh crap! Run!” I shouted to Chris.

“I want you to catch it,” Chris said far too calmly.

“You want me to do what???”

“I want you to catch it!” 

“You’re nuts!”

“I told you your training would challenge you, but you didn’t believe me!”

I really wanted to run. My heart was racing as I watched the rock get bigger and bigger, wondering if the velocity of it might end up crushing me. I placed my hands in the air, palms facing the sky and really wished I could somehow cross my fingers, but decided to close my eyes instead.

CRA-ACK!!! 

I immediately opened my eyes looking to see what happened and saw the rock was now laying in two huge pieces, one directly to my left, and one directly to my right.

“I did that?” I said stunned.

“Well you were supposed to catch it, but yes. Good work though!” said Chris smiling.

I gently nudged the one piece of rock sitting on my left and saw it roll forward with ease.

“Hey Chris, you want to shake my hand?”

“Very funny and no, not really. And no pun intended, but you really gotta get a grip on how to handle this new ability Andy!”

“You think?” 

I spent the next 30 minutes trying to do just that and managed to push one of the two huge broken pieces far into the pond by accident. On another attempt, I almost flattened Chris with the remaining half. But by the end of it I figured out how to lift it without breaking it, as well as throw it without dropping it, which left me feeling quite happy with my accomplishment.

“Very good! Now let’s try to do a combo. I want you to put the bathing suit back on and go retrieve the part of the boulder you pushed into the pond.”

“Seriously? Haven’t we done enough training for today?”

“This is the last exercise for now I promise.”

I quickly changed back into the bathing suit and managed to rip it in half in the process, completely forgetting about my activated super-strength.

“Now what?!” I said standing there in my boxer briefs.

“Just go in the water like that before you manage to destroy anything else!” Chris said as he rolled his eyes.

“TAURUS! CANCER!”

I swiftly jumped into the water and swam downwards towards the large piece of rock that now lay at the bottom of the pond.

How am I supposed to get this up on land again? I thought to myself while staring at the half of boulder.

I wondered for a moment if the Cancer abilities also came with enhanced strength, but I only managed to move it slightly forward in the water when I tried. It appeared as if I did have some extra muscle, except it wasn’t going to be enough to complete the task. Chris did say for me to do a combo, so maybe I need to take a deep amount of oxygen in and switch from Cancer back to Taurus.

I rapidly tried to inhale as much oxygen into me as I could and then muttered the Zodiac sign underwater, half expecting it not to work.

“CANCER!”

But it did, as suddenly my eyesight wasn’t very clear. In fact everything was so murky now, I could barely see the boulder anymore.

“TAURUS!”

I immediately placed my hands around the submerged boulder knowing I didn’t have that long to hold my breath. With as much force as I could muster, I jumped off the floor of the pond while holding onto it and found myself shooting straight up to its surface in an instant. And for a few seconds, I saw as every part of me rose totally out of the pond, all while gripping onto the large piece of rock. I then realized I needed to quickly throw it back onto land before it was too late. Unfortunately in my haste, I forgot all about just how strong I was and tossed it carelessly towards the edge of the pond.

I then watched in horror as I fell back into the water seeing the broken half of the boulder roll straight into Chris…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

It’s My Birthday AND 20 Years Of Sobriety!

June 11th is a day that holds two very important meanings to my life. One, it’s the day I was born back in 1972. And two, it’s the day I began my clean and sober spiritual journey from alcohol and drugs back in 1995. So yes, I’m 43 years old now, but definitely far more significant is the fact I’m also celebrating 20 years of sobriety this June 11th.

While I’m more than grateful to have been blessed with another year of life, the only thing I truly want to celebrate is reaching a milestone I once thought was virtually impossible. I remember all those days when I couldn’t go a single 24 hours without getting drunk or high, and now by the grace of God, I’ve strung together 175,200 of them.

So I give thanks to my Higher Power, Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, and the 12 Steps for guiding my life into a much healthier place. And, I want to give thanks as well to all those out there in the world who have continued to believe in me, through thick and thin, through hell and high water, and through all the highs and lows that have come from being a part of my life. I will always have such an immense amount of gratitude to all of you for helping me find myself, find God, and find freedom from a life of addiction. I love you all…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Waiting On God

I truly believe I have a relationship with God. And like any relationship, it takes work for it to grow. There is the work I’m responsible for of course, and there is work God is responsible for as well. But the hardest thing I feel arises in this specific relationship is the part about waiting on God to do God’s part of the work.

I’m sure anyone who’s ever walked a path of faith has faced this. And it normally seems to appear when a prayer to God has gone unanswered for a good while. Why that prayer has gone unanswered could be for an infinite number of reasons, but does that mean that God isn’t doing God’s part of the work to help the relationship grow?

The course one takes at a juncture such as this with God is different for everyone. Up until just a few years ago, I had a very limited window of how long I’d wait on God to do anything for our relationship. And when it didn’t happen in the time I thought it should, I always took matters into my own hands. In other words, I took control and attempted to do God’s work in our relationship as well.

What’s interesting is how similar this is to how I used to live my life with any of my other relationships. Take for example each of my previous partners. When they weren’t living up to how I thought the relationship should be growing, I either tried to force them into doing the work or I left them and moved on to someone else.

Ironically, I’m facing this very thing now both with God and my current partner. With my partner, he’s currently working on himself with things he’s put off for years and at times I’ve been on the receiving end of those areas he hasn’t worked on yet. This has only precipitated that old desire to try taking control over some aspect of his life. But anytime I’ve tried to, it really hasn’t worked out so well and only caused more hiccups in our relationship. In all actuality, that was true of each of the past times I did the same behavior in prior relationships too. Not too long ago, I began to realize the same thing ultimately holds true with God as well. After all, I have a relationship with God and anytime I ever felt God wasn’t doing God’s part of the work in our relationship, I’ve gone into control mode, which consistently only led to disastrous results.

The lesson I’ve learned through all this is who am I to say that God or anyone else for that matter isn’t doing their part of the work in the relationship I have with them. I’m not them, so I actually can’t ever fully know. There are things my partner surprises me with on most days, which constantly remind me that he is working on both himself and our relationship. The same holds true with God. Just because one of my prayers has gone unanswered for a good while doesn’t mean God isn’t working on our relationship, as I’ve seen plenty of other areas of my life where God has demonstrated God’s love for me.

So my conclusion is this. I think it’s better to keep waiting on God and continue believing God’s doing a tremendous amount of work to grow our relationship, rather than taking matters into my own hands. While there may be the one thing that has gone unanswered for years with God, even through all the hard work I’ve done to grow closer to God, I honestly still believe it’s better to keep on waiting, then forge another path that most likely is only going to end in nothing more than greater pain, frustration and doubt…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Funny Birthday Wish To Chris

Hey everyone, Andy here! I thought it might be best to write a quick but special entry today for Andrew’s partner Chris. Why? Well…June 8th is his birthday. So if you’re reading this on the 7th, that’s tomorrow, and if today is the 8th, then it’s today! I just figured I needed to explain that to any of you out there over 40 reading this because you could be having one of those senile moments you know? LOL.

Anyway, Chris will be turning 63 years old…just kidding…he’s probably going to be mad at me after reading this, but no seriously, he’s actually turning 53. That’s still pretty old isn’t it though? 🙂 I’m sure Andrew is probably going to take him out to dinner somewhere. Maybe Burger King so he can wear one of those gold crowns to commemorate his special day? LOL. I’m on a roll today aren’t I?

Well enough from me for now. So Chris, both Andrew and I want to wish you the very best 63rd, I mean 53rd birthday ok! And hopefully anyone out there who reads this will wish you the same by leaving a comment (funny ones please!). Happy Birthday Chris!!!

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.” (Michael J. Fox)

Anytime I’ve ever found myself feeling overly frustrated with some part of my life, the source of it always seems to come back to an expectation I’ve set on someone or something. Maybe that’s happened when another driver wasn’t driving like I thought they should, or when a friend wasn’t acting how I wanted them to, or when a supervisor wasn’t respecting me like I felt I deserved, or when a partner wasn’t treating me how I wanted to be, or when a cashier wasn’t moving as fast as I needed them to, or when a business wasn’t giving me the level of customer service I envisioned, or when my own health wasn’t performing up to the standard I desired. Regardless, anytime I’ve ever placed an expectation on anything in life, my frustration has only increased. But anytime I’ve strived for acceptance of the very same thing, the more my happiness has increased. Coming to acceptance isn’t easy, but I know my happiness definitely depends on it.

I pray I may become free of all expectations in life and instead find acceptance with everyone and everything, including myself.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Playing It Straight”

As much as the world has moved forward quite a bit with acceptance of gay people in the past two decades, I still find myself “playing it straight” at times out of fear, which is unfortunate, as I believe the only way to reach a milestone where nobody cares anymore whether a person is straight or gay is to walk through that fear and just be myself.

So what do I mean by “playing it straight?

Well the most common is when a person asks me if I have a girlfriend and for some reason I seem to be asked this a lot these days. Sometimes I’ve answered it truthfully and said I actually have a partner and then admitted I was gay. But more than not, I’ve either lied responding with a firm “no”, or even worse, I’ve said yes and when asked “her” name, I say “Chris”, even through Chris is a guy and not a girl.

Along the same lines are those times I’ve been around a guy or group of guys who are checking out a woman they find hot. That’s when my playing it straight card has occasionally come out and I’ve made a comment about the rack or butt on the woman they are all gawking at.

Another good example of when I’m playing it straight is when I’m out and about with my partner. If we’re at dinner or at the movies and people are sitting directly next to us, I’ve had a tendency to not show any affection or signs that Chris was even my partner.

Then there’s the example of playing it straight when it comes to sports. I like sports, but I’m not a fanatic nor I don’t follow any team or watch any type of games with any regularity. But put me in a room with a bunch of high testosterone-filled guys whom are all talking about the latest football or baseball or hockey game and I’m right there in the center of conversation pretending I know what I’m talking about.

Last but not least, one more example of me playing it straight has been in my words and mannerisms. At times I’ve purposely made sure to cross my legs like most males do, or I’ve walked with a greater strut, or I’ve worn a ball cap like I’m a badass, or I’ve used various slang that made me appear hyper macho.

But honestly, none of these examples of when I’m playing it straight are going to help lead this world to fully accepting a gay person as nothing out of the ordinary, as long as I keep doing them. The fact is I do need to be myself a little more and not worry what other people think of me, even if they don’t accept homosexuality.

So my conclusion is that it’s not healthy for me to continue playing it straight, even in the slightest. Because as long as I do, and as long as I keep letting this fear overwhelm me, I’m never going to be able to make any impact on the world coming to full acceptance of my sexuality. If our planet is ever going to see the day where no one really cares whether a person is gay or straight, it needs to begin with everyone just being themselves and saying goodbye to all those fear-based moments of when we find ourselves still playing it straight…

Peace, love, light and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” (Ronald Reagan)

I’ve often found myself throughout life thinking I didn’t matter much in this world. I figured that since I wasn’t famous and not very well known I was never going to make much of a difference on this planet. But somewhere along the way, I realized all I really needed to do was help someone…anyone…just one person…and in doing so, I could make an impact on helping the entire world become a better place. Through my recovery work, I’ve done this very thing by sponsoring one individual after another, each just trying to find their way in sobriety. And outside of recovery, I’ve found it’s the little things that can have the biggest effect upon the earth, some even as small as simply listening to what someone is going through and praying with them. I’m glad I clearly see I do matter now, and all it took was helping one person after another, until I finally accepted I was helping everyone, one individual at a time.

I pray to God that I always remember I do matter in this world and that all I need to do to make a difference is help but one person, because that act alone can have a ripple effect that touches all of us.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Quick Stroll Down Love Addiction Lane

Five years ago over the 4th of July weekend, I was in San Antonio, Texas with more than 50,000+ people for the International Convention of the 75th anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). And although my sole reason for being there was like everyone else’s, to rejoice in sobriety, my focus was on something else more than not. What was it? Sadly, it was on the object of my then very active love addiction.

As I sit here and reflect upon all my actions and behaviors at that international AA convention, I can clearly see now how very sick I was then with an addiction that had me in it’s deadly grips until April 23rd, 2012. While everyone there seemed to be enjoying meeting new people from all around the world, all attending one meeting after another together, my eyes were glued to my phone on almost a consistent basis with my thoughts thousands of miles away.

Did I miss a call from him?

When is he going to call me?

I wish he were here.

I wonder what he’s doing right now?

These were just some of the many things that crossed my mind with every waking moment I was in San Antonio. Truthfully, I really wasn’t in that city at all, nor was I really at that convention for most of it either. Rather, I was back in Massachusetts in the home of the object of my love addiction.

I remember so vividly one moment in particular at this convention where I was waiting for a return phone call from this man who was the ongoing recipient of my disease at the time. I had just walked into a bathroom to relieve myself after a meeting I had attended but barely listened to. My mind was racing. Is he mad at me? Why hasn’t he called me back? I wonder if he’s found someone else? As I walked out of the bathroom pondering these thoughts, I reached into my pocket to look at my phone for the umpteenth time, to see if I had somehow missed his call.

Where is my phone! 

OH MY GOD! Where is my phone!

I reached in and out of my front pockets over and over again searching for it, like a heroin addict looking for his next fix. I had a panic attack and raced back into the bathroom, believing I had left it on the urinal.

“Excuse me, is there a phone over there? Do you see a phone there? Hey you? Sir?” I said repeatedly to a man taking a leak at the stall I had previously left.

I wasn’t even embarrassed because all I could think about was missing a call from my love addiction. Pretty soon I was asking the entire crop of men in the bathroom if they had seen a phone lying around, but everyone shook their heads and looked at me like I was insane. And actually I was and I’m sure I played that part very well right then.

As I left the bathroom, my brain raced uncontrollably and tears began to form in my eyes. Suddenly I realized I hadn’t checked my back pockets and that’s when I felt a bulge in one. It was my phone! Phew, relief…

My heart then slowed down to a steady crawl and I glanced down to see once again if I had missed his call. I hadn’t.

Why hasn’t he called!!!

And then the irrational cycle of my love addiction began all over again…

This was just one of many insanity-filled examples of my once very active love addiction, which is why I’m so grateful I’m presently free from an addiction that pretty much tore my entire life apart back then.

The point I’m trying to make with this quick stroll down love addiction lane is this. Love addiction is a serious problem for so many in this world, but most are often quite unaware of the disease within them when it’s active. If any of what I have written here rings true with you, I encourage you to seek help.

There is hope out there. I am a living, breathing example of it. Through the aid of Sex and Love Addiction Anonymous (SLAA), Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), my Higher Power, and the 12 Steps, I have found freedom one day at a time for three years now, from an addiction that robbed my life from being present at so many things, including that international convention. Thank God, I’ve grown so much since then. Thank God…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Sex And Love Addiction And The Three-Second Rule

Do you regularly stare at someone that you find attractive when they walk by or happen to be in the same room as you? If so, is it a quick stare, a long gaze, or something else altogether? In my case, it’s usually been the latter and often the very thing that led me directly into acting out in my sex and love addiction. But in my recovery from this addiction, I’ve learned about this action called the three-second rule that can help curb this behavior.

The three-second rule is simply this. When a person is nearby that one finds attractive, acknowledge it for no more than three seconds and then move on. Unfortunately for most people in recovery from a sex and love addiction though, this can tend to be a very difficult thing to do indeed. In my case, I frequently have looked for those three seconds, then looked away for a short period of time, then looked back again for three more seconds, and then repeated this behavior over and over until the person is no longer in my presence.

In fact, just the other night, I was in one of these recovery meetings doing this very thing with someone there, which only led me to feel slightly guilty when the meeting ended. Thankfully, my peers in that program reminded me that this behavior was a far cry from how I used to be with this addiction. They were right because (a) I never used to look away at all when I saw someone attractive, and (b) I used to follow all the long staring with doing whatever I could to get that person’s phone number. I’m grateful to say I didn’t do that the other night with this person, nor have I done that with anyone else in a long time. As it’s a sure bet that if I did get a person’s phone number I just stared at for long periods of time, I’m probably already in a relapse mode.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t excuse the excessive staring I did at the meeting that night, nor does it excuse all the other times I’ve done this lately either. I know it’s something I must work a little harder on, which is one of the main reasons why I’m writing about it here. I’ve actually spoken about this quite a bit with my sponsor and his sponsor as well, and both have said to not beat myself up about it. I guess that’s an easy thing for me to do sometimes though because I think beating myself up will be the necessary motivation to change an unhealthy behavior. Except so far, it hasn’t in this case.

Hence the other reason why I’m writing about this is to admit to the world I have a problem with this behavior, all in the hope that I’ll now be more conscious of not doing it the next time someone attractive comes along. Even better, after that meeting the other night, I told two of my recovery friends that I have this issue, so they can also help me stop doing it if they catch me in the act. But most importantly, I’ve started praying to my Higher Power to give me the willingness to remove this behavior and replace it with a much healthier one, one that follows the three-second rule legitimately.

So hopefully this is the beginning of me finally removing this unwanted behavior, one that draws me away from my Higher Power, one that prevents me from being present with others, and one that will only lead me back into my sex and love addiction in the long run. And I’m grateful to say that I think my Higher Power is already answering my prayers, because if I didn’t have the willingness to change this unhealthy behavior, I don’t really think I’d be writing about it now… J

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Red Spot And My Vanity

I had a strange pea-sized reddish-looking spot on my face that appeared over night a bunch of weeks ago. And no, it wasn’t a pimple. But man you would have thought the world was ending by the way I acted about it the entire time it was there. When it finally disappeared a few weeks later, whatever it was, I realized I still had some serious vanity issues I needed to deal with.

My vanity definitely began growing up in a family where how we looked and how we presented ourselves was far more important than working on our spiritual conditions within. Each of us in our own way spent more time in front of a mirror, with maybe the exception of my father, than we did looking at the things inside of ourselves that truly needed to be worked on.

As I grew older and left home, this only became exacerbated once I came out of the closet because for some reason how one looked seemed to be the most important thing with the majority of the gay culture. So as all my character defects began to glare more and more with each passing year, the only thing that really remained important to me was how I looked, especially my face.

Yes, I know that’s pretty vain. But for the longest time, it’s all I knew. I thought that as long as I looked attractive, people would want to be around me, date me, and be a part of my life. I never actually put much thought to the idea that maybe if I worked on my spiritual condition, it too might attract people to me, but ones that were far healthier for my life.

Over the past three years this is precisely what I’ve done, work on my spiritual condition. And while that has vastly improved along with my character defects greatly being reduced in the process, there obviously remains one unhealthy trait I haven’t been able to fully remove yet. That of course is my vanity and it’s something that became extremely clear to me for the several weeks I had that large red spot on my face.

In all honesty, I must have looked at it in the mirror dozens of times every day, placing tea tree oil and various other concoctions on it all with the hope it would disappear as quick as possible. The only thing all of that did though was make it look even worse, to the point where I had a mini meltdown when a friend at a meeting looked at me and said “What happened to your face?” It was then I ultimately started to accept the fact I had a problem with this unwanted trait.

Yes I realize I’m not getting any younger and as the years go on, I know more things are going to appear on my face and body, such as liver spots, moles, and various other signs of aging. This is specifically why I decided to write about this, because for me, the first step is admitting I’m powerless over something as silly as a red spot on my face and vanity itself.

I think the key for me on where to go from here with this character defect is to continue improving my spiritual condition. Because ultimately I fully believe that the closer I grow to my Higher Power, the less I’m going to ever become concerned with how I look on the outside. After all, I’m finding that as I continue to walk further and further along a spiritual path, what’s on the inside is really all that matters…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson