Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday! Today’s gratitude stems from the week I just experienced in the Charleston, South Carolina vicinity, with my sister and her family during the Christmas holidays.

The last time I spent the Christmas holiday with them dates back to 2014 when she was still living outside Nashville, Tennessee. Without going into too much detail, that was a very memorable holiday but not in such a good way, given the amount of arguing and tension that was present more than not. Because of it, four years went by before I attempted another Christmas with them and I’m thankful to report that I have a lot to be grateful for this time around from beginning to end.

My first bit of gratitude began on my flight out when the woman who checked me in at the Delta desk saw how much pain and stress I was in and offered me some unconditionally loving words of support and blessings for my trip. Shortly thereafter, once I arrived at the gate, the agent there also acknowledged the physical pain I was in and moved me for free to a row with more leg room and told me she wouldn’t put anyone next to me on my flight. Later, after a very comfortable journey to South Carolina, I had to pick up my rental car, but given how late it was, I wondered if I’d get a decent vehicle to drive. Yet, Enterprise Rent-A-Car upgraded me for free to an entry level SUV that was still available, of which I was extremely grateful, mostly because it had heated seats, something that always seems to take some of the edge off of my muscle tightness any time I’m driving. When I finally arrived at the hotel, a Residence Inn, well after midnight, the clerk at the desk was really friendly and told me they had kept my room aside, a one-bedroom suite on the top floor away from everyone, just as I had requested. Room 429 then became my home away from home for the next week, providing me some much-needed rest and relaxation when I wasn’t with my sister’s family.

Nevertheless, over the course of the next six days I was able to experience a very different Christmas holiday from the one I had four years ago with my sister and her family. There wasn’t any major arguing or high stress-based tension this time around. Rather, there was far more laughter, love, and connection, three things I was desperately in need of with them. But instead of going into lengthy details of every single thing I experienced and was grateful for with them, here’s a quick list.

Delicious cupcakes and ice cream from my sister’s new store, Smallcakes. Building Legos, coloring, and playing with blocks with my youngest nephew. Taking walks with their family’s toy poodle around their neighborhood. Family board games at night. Teaching the card game Euchere to my twin nephews and watching as they almost beat my partner and I! Dining on sushi with one of my twin nephews and loaded burgers with another. Heart-felt conversations with my twin nephews about life and the changes they are going through. Watching Aquaman in 3D in an RPX-based theater at a Regal with them late one night. A special dinner out to a restaurant named Oscar’s with just my sister. A holiday party and making new connections at Smallcakes. A homemade lasagna dinner for Christmas Eve specially prepared by my sister. Getting to enjoy my favorite holiday dessert, Grasshopper Pie. Watching Serendipity for the umpteenth time on Christmas Eve with my partner. A short hike with my youngest nephew and one of the twins before Christmas dinner. A delicious Christmas dinner with every bit of trimmings and fixings. A crackling fire in the backyard of my sister’s house while goofing around with all my nephews. And a final breakfast at my hotel on the morning of my departure.

In the end, I have plenty to be grateful for this Christmas from this trip. I’m so thankful I was able to return home this time, actually looking forward to my next trip to see them, rather than thinking about taking an extended hiatus from doing it at all. For that, I’m most definitely grateful, to God, for them and my partner, for making Christmas 2018 a truly special one…

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“For Christians, the problem is not how to reconcile homosexuality with scriptural passages that condemn it, but how to reconcile the rejection and punishment of homosexuals with the love of Christ.” (William Sloane Coffin Jr.)

Quote #2

“I can’t for the life of me imagine God will say, ‘I will punish you because you are black, you should have been white; I will punish you because you are a woman, you should have been a man; I will punish you because you are homosexual, you ought to have been heterosexual.’ I can’t for the life of me believe that is how God sees things.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

Quote #3

“My pain is not because I am gay. My pain was caused by how I was treated because I am gay.” (Eric James Borges)

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

The Difficult Challenges I Faced In Going To A Christmas Eve Service…

I’m not a church goer anymore, yet I promised myself I’d attend a Christmas Eve service at my sister’s church to support her and my nephews during my visit to them over the holidays. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how difficult that decision would end up being for me.

Let me begin by saying that there was a time when I really did love going to church every Sunday. That started well over two decades ago now when I found a very lively church in Washington D.C. to attend called The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). There, my Spirit moved every Sunday and I always looked forward to attending the services there. Yes, I was one of those who would raise my hands and praise the Lord, and no, it wasn’t a fake thing, as I truly felt that much joy in my life in serving God. Frankly, it was such a major shift from the previous church I had belonged to, that being one of those revival churches with a live band and a projector on a big screen, as they had rejected me when I came out of the closet and told me I was a sinner. Nevertheless, I spent the better part of a decade affiliated with MCC and even became a deacon during my years of membership there. After a period of a few years where I moved to the middle of nowhere and wasn’t able to find a church to be a part of, I came to the Boston area to be closer to my sister and attempted for the next several years to find a new church home. Sadly, I’d experience three separate rejections in the process, each because of my sexuality, and each being one of those revival types of churches. While there were a few churches I attended that did accept me for who I was, I didn’t feel my spirit leap at any of them. Regardless, I became fed up with all of it and began to forge my own path of hope, faith, and spirituality with God, one that didn’t involve being a member of any physical church.

So, in light of all that, when my sister asked if I wanted to attend a Christmas Eve service at her church during my visit there, I said yes, only because it had been so long since I’d been to any service and also in that I wanted to support my youngest nephew who really wanted to spend as much time with me as he could. As I sat there in the service with him and the rest of my sister’s family, as well as my partner, I watched a number of people raise their hands and praise the Lord just like I used to do. I wish I could have felt what they were feeling and boy, did I try to feel some of that. All I could feel though was sadness. Sadness for all the people who have been rejected by so many churches that have looked and felt just like this one. Sadness for all the health issues I continue to face and the silence I continue to feel from God about it. And sadness for feeling so darn alone inside, even in the midst of all that joy.

I wasn’t present during this service at all really, and found myself jotting down my thoughts on their bulletin while there, which led to me writing these very words here. About the only time I was present was when they asked if anyone wanted to come up during the service and be prayed over. I waited and waited and waited while that part of the service was going on, yet kept feeling a desire within me to go up. I honestly had a battle in myself during that time and eventually found the courage to walk up. I don’t remember what was said during the prayer that this 20-something guy said as he embraced me, but what I do remember was the tears flowing from my eyes, tears that yearn for a closer presence from God, tears for all the people who have felt rejected from God because of conservative religious people, and tears for all the pain I still have to live within this body.

When the service ended shortly thereafter, I have to say I was very much relieved and was glad to head back to my sister’s home. While I would love to be a part of a church again, especially one where my spirit moved with upbeat music and plenty of fellowship, I truly struggled to feel much of that there. Whether that was because of my past or present circumstances I don’t know. What I do know though is that I hope to one day be a part of some church again that practices the unconditional love of Christ, one that doesn’t look at things like homosexuality as a sin, and one where all are welcomed no matter what. But, for now, I know God knows I tried my best to be present at my sister’s church, and hopefully one day I will find a congregation again I can call home…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

A little girl is sitting on her grandpa’s lap and studying the wrinkles on his old face. She gets up the nerve to rub her fingers over the wrinkles. Then she touches her own face and looks more puzzled. Finally the little girl asks, “Grandpa, did God make you?” “He sure did honey, a long time ago,” replies her grandpa.  “Well, did God make me?” asks the little girl. “Yes, He did, and that wasn’t too long ago,” answers her grandpa. “Boy,” says the little girl, “He’s sure doing a lot better job these days isn’t He?”

Silly Joke #2

Upon getting to work one morning, seventy-five-year old Marvin is reminded by his secretary that it’s his wife’s birthday today. At lunch, Marvin goes to the local mall and tries to find a gift for her. Unfortunately, he realizes that life has been good and she has everything she needs. Upon passing a lingerie store, Marvin realizes that his wife has never bought any lingerie in her life. He gets the idea to buy his wife something sexy to make her feel good and young. Marvin goes into the store and tells the clerk to wrap up the most expensive, sheerest negligee she has. Marvin takes the gift and excitedly runs home to his wife. Upon finding her in the kitchen he tells her to take the gift upstairs and unwrap it. He’ll wait in the kitchen. His wife thanks him and goes up to the bedroom. Once the package is opened she realizes that this is something she has never had before. She also sees that it is so sheer it leaves nothing to the imagination. She thinks for a moment and then decides that she’ll really surprise Marvin and go downstairs without any clothes on at all. So she leaves the negligee on the bed and starts down the stairs stark naked. She calls out, ‘Marvin, come out to the hallway and look.’ Marvin walks out to the staircase, looks up at his wife, and exclaims, ‘All that money and they didn’t even iron it!’

Silly Joke #3

A father passing by his son’s bedroom was astonished to see the bed was nicely made and everything was picked up. Then he saw an green envelope propped up prominently on the center of the bed. It was addressed, “Dad”.  With the worst premonition, he opened the envelope and read the letter with trembling hands:

Dear Dad, it is with great regret and sorrow that I’m writing you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with mom and you. I’ve been finding real passion with Mariel and she is so nice-even with all her piercing, tattoos, and her tight Motorcycle clothes. But it’s not only the passion dad, she’s pregnant and Mariel said that we will be very happy. Even though you don’t care for her as she is so much older than I, she already owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. She wants to have many more children with me and that’s now one of my dreams too. Mariel taught me that marijuana doesn’t really hurt anyone and we’ll be growing it for us and trading it with her friends for all the cocaine and ecstasy we want. In the meantime, we’ll pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Mariel can get better; she sure deserves it!! Don’t worry Dad, I’m 15 years old now and I know how to take care of myself. Someday I’m sure we’ll be back to visit so you can get to know your grandchildren.

Your son, Tom

PS: Dad, none of the above is true. I’m over at the neighbor’s house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than my report card that’s in my desk center drawer. I love you! Call when it is safe for me to come home.

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“When my 13-year-old son said I think I need some help after playing video games for nearly 12 hours straight on the console I bought him, I look back and realized it was like I went out and bought him his first Jack Daniels.” (Unknown)

Quote #2

“This generation is so dead. You ask a kid, ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and they’ll be playing video games or watching cable, instead of building model cars or airplanes or doing something creative. Kids today never say, ‘Man, I’m really into remote-controlled steamboats.'” (Jack White)

Quote #3

“Our community system is completely broken down, and you need to build that back up again and make people feel that they can make a change in life and not just sit around playing video games or on their iPhones – that they can get out there and make a difference.” (Holly Branson)

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

A Recovering Addict’s Reflection On Jimmy Kimmel’s Fortnight Challenge…

With it being the day after Christmas, I’m guessing there will be a ton of people out there who will be spending it returning gifts they didn’t want or playing with gifts they did. One gift I can most definitely say probably won’t be returned by anyone today is the video game called Fortnight. That became overly apparent with Jimmy Kimmel’s Fortnight challenge from a few weeks ago.

In this challenge, he dared parents to film themselves abruptly turning off the TV while their kids were in the middle of playing the hugely popular game. The result was a whole heck of a lot of anger, violence, outrage, and even total despair. I was actually not surprised at all by any of these reactions after watching them for myself on those YouTube videos that got posted. The sad reality is that the majority of those wild reactions are indicative of a growing addiction, one that is totally becoming more and more prevalent these days.

Thankfully I don’t have a video game addiction and haven’t for some time. I currently don’t even have a video game system in my home. While I do own a Nintendo 64 and an even older Super Nintendo, they, and all the games I own for them, have been in a storage unit for the past six years. The fact is I don’t want them or any other video game console in my house. Why? Because I used to be one of those who was addicted to playing video games.

I used to sit glued to my television eons ago trying to master games on my Atari. I’d spend entire days sitting in front of the TV playing it until my parents told me I had to turn it off. And I wasn’t happy one bit whenever they did. When the first Nintendo system came out, my best friend at the time got it as a gift and we used to spend many-a-days together playing games like Contra, Zelda, Legendary Wings, as well as a number of others.

Nothing else mattered while we had those first Nintendo controllers in hand. Sometimes we were so glued to the television, that six to eight hours would easily go by, with the only breaks being moments we took to scarf down food or go to the bathroom. I can still vividly recall my friend and I during those marathon game-playing days screaming at the television, throwing controllers, and even getting angry at each other, all while ignoring the rest of the world, many beautiful days outside, and anything else really. Life became all about solving those games and nothing else.

Video game addiction was one of the first addictions I probably ever fell prey to. I never looked at it as an addiction at the time though. I just looked at it as something I enjoyed doing by myself or with my best friend back then. But the signs are so clear to me now looking back at my old behaviors. There was the constant obsession when I wasn’t playing, thinking about how I could get past certain levels. Then there was all that sweating and anxiety I constantly had when actually playing a game. And I mustn’t forget all that rage and temper tantrums I’d throw whenever a parent took my game playing privileges away.

Now, video games are becoming more and more realistic, which in turn has brought an exceptionally large amount of people into playing them. Take Fortnight for example. There are presently over 125 million people playing this game and at any given time, there has been over 8 million playing concurrently. Maybe this is why I don’t see many kids outside much anymore playing old-school games like hide-and-go-seek or kick the can or throwing a football around or even playing a pick-up game of baseball or wiffle ball?

While sad but true, kids, and even adults, are instead becoming more and more addicted to video games and because of it, a domino effect is occurring of downward mood swings, unhealthy binge eating and consumption of caffeinated beverages. I’d even go so far as to say that much of the upswing of violent crimes may actually stem from people who have previously spent far too many hours engaging in violent video games.

Nevertheless, when I saw a number of kids literally attack their parents, throwing punches at them and dropping f-bombs after their televisions were turned off in the middle of playing Fortnight, I realized how serious this problem has already become, even though Kimmel didn’t necessarily address that in his show specifically.

People are withdrawing more and more into the video game world, losing sight of reality and those around them, losing valuable social skills in the process, including any desire to interact with others, except those alongside them in the digital realm. Video game addiction is real and rapidly becoming a very serious problem, especially here in the United States.

Hopefully, parents will start drastically reducing their kids video game-playing time, as maybe then it will lead to them finding much healthier ways to spend their time, like having actual social interaction with others. As for those adults who also spend countless hours playing video games like Fortnight, like any addiction, the desire to change it will only come when the pain of continuing to do so becomes great enough…

I’m thankful I don’t spend any of my life anymore glued to a video game trying to solve it, as my life never grew any better spending immeasurable hours doing so. While I may still play a game of Ms. Pac Man or Galaga from time to time whenever I see one of those old machines somewhere when I’m out and about, game playing is simply not something that’s part of me anymore. And frankly, I’d rather spend my time making a difference in this world, rather than watching my life pass on by in any type of Fortnight realm…

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

Putting The “Christ” In Christmas And Wishing You All A Merry One…

Merry Christmas everyone! I wanted to personally wish each and every one of you the very best, as we celebrate a day that has come to mean a lot more to me in recent years. For years, Christmas was always a time to exchange lavish gifts and brag about what I got to others. But over the past few years, I have been dwelling far more on the true meaning of Christmas, one that focuses on the “Christ” in “Christmas”.

While I’ve read the actual birth of Jesus was definitely not on December 25th, it’s the meaning behind His birth that actually means something to me for this holiday now. Because it’s Jesus who demonstrated quite clearly to me what unconditional love was throughout his life, something that I ultimately think is the real spirit behind Christmas.

Sadly, I feel that meaning has gotten lost in translation over the past century with all the commercialization that Christmas seems to bring nowadays. But for someone like me who doesn’t have much to offer in the line of money and gifts anymore, without any type of employment or regular income coming in, I’ve been experiencing the last few December 25th’s in very different ways from my lavish-living days of old. Now, I look for other ways to express Christ’s unconditional love on December 25th. Sometimes that’s simply in me reaching out to someone I normally wouldn’t and letting them know they’re loved.

There are plenty of people out there, and probably in your very life, who have no one to spend this day with, who aren’t going to even have a special meal or receive a single gift today. Speaking from personal experience, having gone through a Christmas like that in years past, sometimes the very best gift one can receive is simply having someone reach out through a phone call or stopping by in person, solely to remind you you’re loved.

So, remember that today as you go through all the festivities. Try to make a difference in one person’s life that you normally wouldn’t, by letting them know they’re loved. In doing so, you might just be living out the true meaning behind the “Christ” in Christmas.

Have a blessed, Merry Christmas everyone!

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to Grateful Heart Monday everyone, a day to reflect on an important piece of gratitude from life, which for today is for an early Christmas gift I received from a friend that was truly unexpected and extremely generous.

This story behind this piece of gratitude stems back about two weeks ago, when I completely screwed up my 12-year-old MacBook Pro laptop during a routine upgrade to some software on it. I have been milking this laptop for a very long time, as you can see by its age. Most computers don’t ever last this long and usually begin to have serious problems within 5 years or less. But for whatever the reason, this one has lasted me this long and its primary purpose has been my blog work while on any trip out of town. While it indeed is exceptionally slow anytime I’ve used it anymore, it’s managed to handle the bare minimum purpose I’ve needed it for. Thus, when I messed that installation up and somehow caused its operating system to get into a continual reboot mode, I figured my old laptop had finally had its last dance.

Without a functioning laptop and a trip looming on the horizon to my sister’s home, I got into a slight panic mode, because I really couldn’t justify buying new Mac laptop with my current financial situation, as they are overly expensive. And unfortunately, given all my work on my blog has been Mac-based, it really wasn’t possible to consider buying a cheap PC-based laptop without some serious complications arising. In light of that, I hoped my sister might have a spare one around for me to borrow during my upcoming visit there that I could use while at the hotel I was staying in. Unfortunately, she didn’t, so I opted to call a few friends locally to see if any of them might have a spare one I could borrow for my trip.

After checking around, I finally found a friend who actually had one in his possession he wasn’t regularly using anymore and was completely willing to let me borrow it for my trip. A few days later, when I met up with him to get it, I noticed in his hand was a neatly packaged Christmas gift instead. When he handed it to me and said Merry Christmas, I immediately could feel it was the laptop.

Without assuming anything though, I thanked him and said I’d return it to him after my trip, but he quickly responded in saying it was mine to keep and was an early Christmas present from him. I was utterly speechless and shocked, and a few tears came to my eyes, not only because of the notion that he’s relatively new to my life here in Toledo, but also because it was something completely unexpected. It was a true unconditionally loving gift.

I’m very grateful for this friend, whom I’ve decided to keep his name anonymous, given I wasn’t sure if he’d be ok with me sharing it in here. Nevertheless, I’m filled with an incredible amount of gratitude for his generous gift and thank my Higher Power as well, because ultimately, I know it was my Higher Power that moved my friend’s heart to offer this wonderful gift to me.

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Sometimes when it feels like everything is falling apart, God may actually be orchestrating everything to fall into place.” (Unknown)

Quote #2

“God works in mysterious ways! Don’t get mad when you cannot achieve what you want. There is a RIGHT TIME for everything and God will deliver. And for that stay faithful.” (Unknown)

Quote #3

“There will be times in your life when all your instincts will tell you to do something, something the defies logic, upsets your plans, and may seem crazy to others. When this happens, do it. Listen to those instincts and ignore everything else. Ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore the complications, and just go for it. God works through mysterious ways…” (Unknown)

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

God’s Mysterious Ways

Welcome to another entry of God’s Mysterious Ways, where I write about things that may be more than just coincidences, where God may very well indeed have a hand behind it, which for today is about a sponsee I invited to attend my weekly volunteer commitment with me recently.

Every week, I volunteer at a place called Rescue Crisis, which essentially is for people who are severely struggling with addiction or mental health and need urgent attention. Every Wednesday I run a 12 Step meeting there for anyone who may need it, where my focus is on sharing my experience, strength, and hope with my recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction.

Normally, I run this weekly meeting by myself, mostly because the number of clients from week to week isn’t very high and thus doesn’t require any extra support. I’ve also enjoyed handling it alone because it’s empowered me and given me a sense of purpose in my own recovery. But just a few weeks ago, when I was talking to one of my sponsees and trying to coordinate a time to meet with him, I kept feeling the need to ask if he’d like to do my next volunteer commitment with me at Rescue Crisis. He instantly agreed and we met for coffee beforehand on the night it arrived. Afterward, we headed there and walked in to the building together. Immediately upon entering the lobby, I saw someone there who was standing next to several large black trash bags, looking very much in fear and despair. Ironically, the guy just so happened to be a friend of my sponsee’s and someone my sponsee needed to make an amends with. The reason for the amends was due to my sponsee having chosen to never return a call for help from this guy, when he had specifically told him to reach out and he’d help.  Sadly, he had lost track of how to reach him a good while ago and suddenly there he was again, standing in front of him.

My sponsee discovered his friend had been discharged from another recovery center due to a relapse and had been dropped off there. His friend was now homeless on a night where the temperatures were in the low 20’s and unfortunately, there wasn’t any ability for Rescue Crisis to take him in for the night. So, as a way to make his amends, my sponsee invited his friend to join us in our recovery meeting and then offered him his place to stay that night for a warm meal and a bed to sleep in away from the cold. But in my opinion, that’s not even the best part of this story! Because the next day, after that warm meal and bed, his friend got admitted into another recovery program where my sponsee got to personally drop him off there.

Who knows what would have happened if his friend had been forced to sleep out in the cold that night? Would he have drank again to deal with it? Would he have even survived the night? Was it God who saw fit to motivate me to invite my sponsee to a meeting I rarely feel the urge to bring anyone to with me, solely to bring these two together, knowing how the rest would play out?

I leave it for you to decide…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

One day The Lord came to Adam to pass on some news. “I’ve got some good news and some bad news,” The Lord said. Adam looked at The Lord and said, “Well, give me the good news first.” Smiling, The Lord explained, “I’ve got two new organs for you. One is called a brain. It will allow you to create new things, solve problems, and have intelligent conversations with Eve. The other organ I have for you is called a penis. It will give you great physical pleasure and allow you to reproduce your now intelligent life form and populate this planet. Eve will be very happy that you now have this organ to give her children.” Adam, very excited, exclaimed, “These are great gifts you have given to me. What could possibly be bad news after such great tidings?” The Lord looked upon Adam and said with great sorrow, “You will never be able to use these two gifts at the same time.”

Silly Joke #2

Man: Just look at that young person with the short hair and blue jeans! Is it a boy or a girl?
Bystander: It’s a girl, and she’s my daughter.
Man: Oh, geez, please forgive me, sir. I had no idea you were her father.
Bystander: I’m not. I’m her mother!

Silly Joke #3 (A few Christmas jokes…)

Father: Hey son, do who brings the presents for Christmas?
Son: Amazon!
Father: No, I mean the fat man with the beard.
Son: Ohhh, you mean Edward, the mailman!

Little Mason: Hey Mom, you can delete the train set from my Christmas wish list ok?
Mother: Why is that?
Mason: Cuz, yesterday, I found one in your closet.

Husband: “What do you want for Christmas?”
Wife: “A divorce!”
Husband: “Can’t you think of anything cheaper?”

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

Question To Ponder For The Day

Yesterday, I wrote about my love for holiday decorating and how my partner and I usually put a lot of energy into it. Yet, when I was single, it was always hard to even get into the Christmas spirit. In light of that, do you (a) usually decorate for Christmas, or (b) usually opt to skip the holiday decorating altogether? AND Are you (c) in a relationship or (d) single?

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

Finding That Christmas Spirit…

When people see the amount of time I put into decorating the outside of my home for the holiday season, quite a few have had the tendency to ask me why I put so much energy into it. The answer to that question begins way back in 1995, just as the holiday season was getting underway.

I was less than a year out of college at the time, working my very first corporate computer programming job, and was going through a pretty severe depression having just come out of the closet to my best friend at the time, someone whom I was also in love with, and someone who completely kicked me out of their life because of it. Thankfully, my friend Tom felt my pain and did everything he could to console me, one action of which was him bringing a real 5-foot Christmas tree into my home, where he set it up and completely decorated it. His only concern was to help me find some Christmas joy, when I really was feeling none of it and it actually worked.

Ironically, the next year I lost my father to suicide a mere 2 months before Christmas, which honestly made it very difficult to tap into that Christmas spirit again. Yet God saw fit to have someone else be in my life at the time who was able to once again begin generating some of it for me. That being my first partner Jerry. Christmas was his favorite holiday too, just like Tom’s, and he was one of those who placed a lot of energy into decorating for it. I spent two holidays with him, both of which were pretty amazing in the indoor department of decorating, including a 12-foot tree we had in our townhouse the second year.

After spending those two years with him, I had found my own Christmas spirit, which helped a lot in 1998 when I finally purchased my own home in Falls Church, Virginia. It was there I finally had a yard to work with when the next holiday season arrived and I wanted to spread some of that cheer to the outside as well. And that I did, although it was extremely small compared to what I do now.

A few years later, I was in another relationship with someone who had the highest level of Christmas delight I’ve ever known. He became super excited each time the Christmas season came upon him. Oddly enough, his name was also Jerry. When the two of us bought a bed and breakfast together a few years into our relationship, we had a 5500-square-foot home to work with and must I say, he truly went to down with decorating, helping to make our home look like it was something out of a magazine. For four years, he decorated the inside of it with three uniquely designed Christmas trees, and a ton of other decorations that complimented them, where I decorated the outside of the home making it look like it belonged on an expensive Christmas card.

I truly thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with Jerry, and up until 2007, so did he. But, the bed and breakfast business tore us apart, and our relationship ended when summer arrived that year. Six months later, I became deeply invested in a sex and love addiction, which looking back, had simply become an escape from the huge pain and emptiness I felt over the loss of that business and seven-year love.

I lost my Christmas spirit altogether for the next four years as I became entirely wrapped up in being addicted to guys who weren’t available and would never be in a gay relationship. And none of them had any Christmas spirit to boot either. When I finally began to break free from all of them and that addiction, I moved into a home with a guy named David in Weymouth, Massachusetts. He helped to get me back on track in my first year renting a room in his home, when he asked if I would aid him in decorating it for the holiday season.

At first it was somewhat challenging to tap back into that Christmas spirit, but when David allowed me to put a number of strands of lights outside on his front bushes, trees, and porch, it was the jump start I needed. Doing so, brought back my love for the holiday, but something was still missing, that being a loving relationship to share it with.

For those you know who don’t have a partner to spend the holiday season with and don’t seem to have much in the way of any Christmas spirit, understand you’re probably not going to make them feel much of it no matter how hard you try. I spent five solid Christmas’s in a row without a partner and Christmas is by far the worst holiday to go through like that. Trying to decorate and find some Christmas spirit without a loving relationship to share it with, when everyone around you seems to have someone special, is tremendously challenging, especially when every single thing that’s advertised focuses on loving relationships and families during the holiday season.

It wasn’t until I met my partner Chris and began dating him in 2012, did I rediscover my Christmas spirit again. I helped to decorate his home a little on the inside and outside when Christmas arrived in 2012 and did the same in 2013, even though I hadn’t fully moved in with him yet. In the meantime, for both of those holidays, I also helped my roommate David continue to decorate his home, keeping at least some of my Christmas spirit alive there too.

Everything began to change in 2014 though when I moved in with Chris and it was then I felt fully motivated again to do the holiday decorating when the season arrived. For four years now, God has blessed me with enough energy to keep on doing this and keep on expanding it as well. While Chris usually decorates the inside of our home, I generally take care of the outside. Each year seems to take a little more energy to complete, yet somehow, even through all my pain and health issues, I’ve found enough of it to keep on doing it. On some level, decorating the outside of our home as much as I have has also become a way of me staring at my health issues and saying I’m not giving up. And so far, I haven’t, with this year’s outside decorations having taken me almost two weeks to complete.

Some say I decorate a little too gaudy like Clark Griswold from the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, but I say I decorate like me and feel I’m quite far from my home and yard becoming covered from head to toe with lights and figurines, even though it might eventually look that way at the rate I’m going! Regardless, decorating for Christmas as much as I do, not only provides me hope to keep going, it also seems to bring some of that to others as well who have seen it all lit up.

So, now you can fully see why I keep on decorating as much as I do. It’s because of a guy named Tom and a few named Jerry (no pun intended, lol!) and two others named David and Chris, as well as a bunch of health issues and a lot of physical pain, that has motivated me over the years to keep on finding my own spirit of Christmas within, enough to add a very personalized flair of cheer each time the holiday season arrives…

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“I think the best day will be when we no longer talk about being gay or straight…where it’s not a gay wedding, it’s just a wedding…where it’s not a gay marriage, it’s just a marriage.” (Pink)

Quote #2

“It’s better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not.” (Unknown) 

Quote  #3

“Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things, he never said that gay people should be condemned.” (Jimmy Carter)

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to Grateful Heart Monday! I begin this week with gratitude for the unconditional love and acceptance I received at a holiday party just recently, from a number of people in AA who were in attendance there, that reminded me it doesn’t matter whether I’m gay or straight, I’m fully loved regardless.

On some level, I find it interesting that even in 2018, I’m far from feeling 100% comfortable with my sexuality. While I may fully accept it now as the way I was born, that doesn’t necessarily translate to being able to walk around every day and just be me, given the amount of racism that’s still present in our society. That being said, many years ago, when I first came to Toledo, Ohio, I joined an AA group where my sexuality wasn’t something I ever discussed. The reason for that is I was nervous about being in a state where conservatism was prevalent more than not, where religion and biblical passages were still being grossly misinterpreted by many, and where frankly, it just didn’t feel as safe being openly gay. Nevertheless, I became active in this group and made it my home, making a number of friends along the way. It was a daily meeting that met in the early morning hours and one that I actually looked forward to getting up and going to on pretty much every day of the week, even though I’ve never been much of a morning person.

After about a year of being active with them, and feeling like I was part of their family, the group read a story in the back of the Alcoholics Anonymous book one day that was titled “Tightrope”, where a person is closeted and severely drinking to deal with their sexuality. The story hit so close to home that I became quite emotional, enough so that I gained the courage to share why. That day I openly told everyone there I was gay and how much my life story was in those very words. Sadly, after that, I felt more of an icy presence from a number of those whom I thought of as part of my AA family. It wasn’t long after that I left that group and found another where I was more able to be myself. Four years later, last weekend in fact, I found myself at a holiday party where the majority of those in attendance were from that group. Ironically, where I thought I might feel out of place and awkward being there (and with my partner no less), I was embraced, loved, and welcomed very warmly. Several times in fact, I was also asked to come back to my original AA group, that what transpired back then was only the negative actions of a select few and wasn’t felt by the majority. Hearing that was most certainly a blessing, that’s for sure.

I must say, my presence here in Toledo has been an arduous one almost since the beginning. I have been the recipient of plenty of rejection from those who’ve felt homosexuality is a sin to those who simply haven’t liked my East coast personality and spiritual beliefs. Honestly, I haven’t received much unconditional love here and have struggled immensely because of it. Yet, on a night where holiday festivities where the main theme, God saw fit to move the hearts of several there in attendance, to express their sincere apologies for the negative actions of a few others who didn’t represent their AA group as a whole. Receiving those sentiments, strong hugs, and loving words from them, I left the party that night with a mountain of gratitude.

For something that left sadness within me for such a long time, I felt a true lifting of it that night, knowing the doors to an old AA group I once was a part of are waiting for me to enter them again whenever I wish, where unconditional love and acceptance of me and my sexuality, is now present in abundance just beyond…

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Flirting is cheating because it’s breaking a boundary within a committed relationship. In a committed relationship we agree to give certain parts of ourselves to our partner. When we’re flirting, we’re giving sexual interest and attention that only our partner should get. We’re giving it to somebody else.” (Swati)

Quote #2

“If you feel the need to hide something from your partner, like a text message, that you think is only harmless flirting, it probably isn’t…” (Unknown)

Quote #3

“Flirting while in a relationship is highly disrespectful and while it may seem harmless, it can be very hurtful to the person that truly loves you.” (Unknown)

Quote #4

“Maybe all flirtation simply boils down to people feeling a need to be validated from a deep-seated inadequacy that they aren’t good enough…” (Andrew Arthur Dawson)

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

Is Flirting With Another Harmless When You’re Already In A Relationship?

Do you think flirting with someone who’s not your significant other is harmless? I’ve often told myself it’s totally ok, so long as I don’t cross a physical line whenever I do it. Yet, the more I’ve worked on my character defects in life, the more I’ve begun to feel otherwise.

First and foremost, the main reason why I’ve ever flirted with another, while in a relationship, has been due to a deep-seated inadequacy that began long ago in my early childhood, one that led to me seeking validation outside of myself to deal with it. The more I’ve grown older, the more that’s become even more apparent, especially as all signs of youth continue to fade. In any of the monogamous relationships I’ve ever been in, including my current one, the validation I’ve received from each of them eventually always becomes not enough for my ego because of those deep-seated inadequacies. This in turn then beckons me to look elsewhere for them to go away, hence the flirtatious nature that begins to arise within me. And as I start sending out flirtatious missiles to those I find attractive, if their well received and returned just the same or better, my ego gets temporary highs or “hits” from it. Unfortunately, they never last though, leading me to feel the need to flirt even more. It’s definitely not a healthy place to be in, because flirting has never and will never permanently remove any of my deep-seated inadequacies. Rather, the more I’ve ever engaged in heavy flirtation on a repetitive basis, the more I’ve usually fallen straight back into addictive behaviors that ultimately led to me cheating on my partner and leaving them altogether.

In addition to this, I’ve also found that flirting can be very hurtful to the person I’m dating, especially when I’m not offering any of it towards them. Not only has it regularly led some of them to feeling jealous, it’s also led to greater mistrust as well. I’ve often placed myself in my current partner’s shoes and thought about my flirtatious behaviors whenever I’ve done them, wondering how I’d feel if he was engaging in the very same ones with someone else. Would I be ok if he said some of the flirty things to someone else he found attractive that I’ve personally said to others? If I’m being truly honest with myself, the answer is no, I definitely wouldn’t. Yet, my ego has the tendency to frequently forget about that, as it seeks to do whatever it can to quickly cover up all of my deep-seated inadequacies of life.

Ultimately, I believe that being monogamous with someone means doing so on every level, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And I’m clearly seeing these days that flirtation with another only leads directly away from that. The bottom line is that I love my partner and don’t want to lose this relationship, as it’s the healthiest one I’ve ever been in, so I know that I must do my best to refrain from flirtation and instead, go within whenever I feel the urge to resort to this behavior.

It’s a tough place to be in, especially for this recovering addict, because I’ve felt a tremendous amount of inadequacies in recent years that go well beyond my getting older. With the health issues I still am facing on a day-to-day basis and the fact that I haven’t had a paying job for a very long time, I’ve had a consistent urging in my mind to resort to flirting, solely to fill that void, even if it is only temporary.

While I’ve been much better about restraining from flirtation since getting sober from a former sex and love addiction six and a half years ago, I continue to give in to the behavior from time to time, which always seems to correlate to those days when I’ve gotten into arguments with my partner or have just felt very down about my life in general.

For me, the only solution to prevent this behavior has been to try to draw closer to my Higher Power and to continue working on more self-love. Most of my deep-seated inadequacies stem from not receiving enough unconditional love when growing up, yet looking for that in another in my adulthood through flirting won’t fix that broken record either. Instead, I know I must embrace myself exactly as I am, loving myself through all my character defects. As the more I have, and the more I’ve drawn closer to my Higher Power, the more I find I don’t want to flirt, the more I find myself drawing closer to my partner, and the more I seem to feel anything but inadequate…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

A very shy guy goes into a bar and sees a beautiful woman sitting at the bar. After an hour of gathering up his courage he finally goes over to her and asks, tentatively, “Um, would you mind if I chatted with you for a while?”She responds by yelling, at the top of her lungs, “No, I won’t sleep with you tonight!” Everyone in the bar is now staring at them. Naturally, the guy is hopelessly and completely embarrassed and he slinks back to his table. After a few minutes, the woman walks over to him and apologizes. She smiles at him and says, “I’m really sorry if I embarrassed you. You see, I’m a graduate student in psychology and I’m studying how people respond to embarrassing situations.” To which he angrily responds, at the top of his lungs, “What do you mean $200?!!!”

Silly Joke #2

Cinderella was now 75 years old. After a fulfilling life with the now passed-away Prince, she happily sat upon her rocking chair, watching the world go by from her front porch, with a cat called Alan for companionship. One sunny afternoon, out of nowhere, appeared the Fairy Godmother. Cinderella said: “Fairy Godmother, what are you doing here after all these years?”The Fairy Godmother replied: “Well, Cinderella, as you have lived a good, wholesome life since we last met, I have decided to grant you three wishes. Is there anything for which your heart still yearns?” Cinderella was overjoyed, and after some thoughtful consideration, almost under her breath, she uttered her first wish: “I wish I was wealthy beyond comprehension.” Instantly, her rocking chair was turned into solid gold. Cinderella was stunned. Alan, her old faithful cat, jumped off her lap and scampered to the edge of the porch, quivering with fear. Cinderella said: “Oh thank you, Fairy Godmother!” The Fairy Godmother replied: “It’s the least I can do. What does your heart desire for your second wish?”
Cinderella looked down at her frail body and said: “I wish I were young and full of the beauty of youth again.” At once, her wish became reality, and her beautiful youthful visage returned. Cinderella felt stirrings inside her that had been dormant for years. And long forgotten vigor and vitality began to course through her very soul. Then the Fairy Godmother again spoke: “You have one more wish, what will you have?” Cinderella looked over to the frightened cat in the corner and said: “I wish you to transform Alan my old cat into a beautiful and handsome young man.” Magically, Alan suddenly underwent a fundamental change in his biological make-up, that, when complete, he stood before her a boy so beautiful – the likes of which neither she nor the world had ever seen – so fair indeed that birds began to fall from the sky at his feet. The Fairy Godmother again spoke: “Congratulations, Cinderella. Enjoy your new life!” And, with a blazing shock of bright blue electricity, she was gone. For a few eerie moments, Alan and Cinderella looked into each other’s eyes. Cinderella sat, breathless, gazing at the most stunningly perfect boy she had ever seen. Then Alan walked over to Cinderella, who sat transfixed in her rocking chair, and held her close in his strong, youthful arms. He leaned in close to her ear, whispered, blowing her golden hair with his warm breath: “I bet you regret having me neutered now, don’t you?”

Silly Joke #3

A police officer pulls over this guy who’s been weaving in and out of the lanes. He goes up to the guy’s window and says, “Sir, I need you to blow into this breathalyzer tube.”The man says, “Sorry, officer, I can’t do that. I am an asthmatic. If I do that, I’ll have a really bad asthma attack.” “Okay, fine. I need you to come down to the station to give a blood sample.” I can’t do that either. I am a hemophiliac. If I do that, I’ll bleed to death.” “Well, then, we need a urine sample.” “I’m sorry, officer, I can’t do that either. I am also a diabetic. If I do that, I’ll get really low blood sugar.” “All right, then I need you to come out here and walk this white line.” “I can’t do that, officer.” “Why not?” “Because I’m drunk.”

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)

Quote #2

“True humility is having the understanding that, even as a small seed, we are still an important part of the greater plan. However, we are not the master planner.” (Tanya Copprue)

Quote #3

“No truly great person ever thought themselves so.” (William Hazlitt)

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

I’m Not Better Than Or Morally Superior To Anyone…

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, nor do I think I’m morally superior to anyone either. Yet, those are the very accusations that have occasionally been said of me, some to my face, and some behind my back. What is true though is that I do feel far more humbled in life with what’s taken place over the past eight and half years.

Sadly, there was a time though where I used to allow my ego to make me believe I was better than others and morally superior, even knowing deep down I truly wasn’t. But, now I feel like I’m on the exact opposite side of the spectrum due to the many knock-downs and knock-outs I’ve had to endure ranging from financial failure, to an inability to work, to my many health issues, and a number of other things as well.

Life has truly humbled me, yet there are still people out there who feel I place myself above others. Frankly, I’m amazed at that because in recent years, I’ve felt more worthless in this world than anything else, which I’ve talked about a number of times in some of my other blog articles.

Nevertheless, while I may not participate in a number of things that the rest of society does with regularity, that doesn’t make me better than someone else or morally superior. It simply is me following my own inner guidance and doing my best to continue beating to my own spiritual drum, even when the masses try to often convince me to do otherwise. Look, I don’t expect anyone will ever fully understand me, as much as I’m just as sure that no matter what I say or do, I’ll continue to be misinterpreted, especially here in my daily musings.

In all honesty, my only reality I have right now is to keep on surviving in a world that feels totally out of control to me, to keep on surviving the health issues that still plague me within, and to have faith that there is a Higher Power who will guide me through it all. And while my deepest truth is that I don’t feel like I measure up in this world these days and feel as if I have nothing to offer anyone anymore, I am very thankful I don’t allow my ego to try to convince me otherwise like it used to.

So, please, if you ever find yourself at some point judging another to be acting better than you or morally superior, I encourage you to take a moment, breathe, and realize it may be quite far from the real truth. The filters you are looking through in your accusation could be biased from what’s actually reality, as it truly is in my case, where humility has become my only existence…

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

Question To Ponder For The Day

What is the name of a business you’ve gone to in your life, where you were genuinely valued and appreciated, where their customer service went far above and beyond their competition, and where you’ve consistently felt some gratitude for them?

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to this week’s Grateful Heart Monday, where I reflect on a single piece of gratitude to start my week off on a positive note, which for today is for two local automobile places, Tireman (on Alexis Road) and Jim White Toyota.

I’ve always been wary of any place that deals with either automobile sales or repairs. So many dealerships and repair shops have swindled far too many in this world, including me. Hence the reason why I tend to get quite wary when I walk into one of these types of establishments. Thankfully though, I’ve discovered two very reputable places here in Toledo, Ohio that I am grateful for and feel I can honestly stand by and support 100 percent.

The first is Tireman, a place that does vehicular repairs. While there are a number of them in this area, I have come to really appreciate the one nearest to my home, that being the one on Alexis Road. I have been to them plenty of times since moving to this area and have never found them to be dishonest with either of the cars my partner Chris and I have brought them to be serviced. I’ve always found their prices to be consistently lower in cost, even as their quality remained higher in standard and never did I feel like they were trying to sell me a repair I knew I didn’t need. Over the years since first finding them, I came to know two of its managers, Randy (who’s since moved on to a new position a few years ago now) and Matt (who’s the current one). Their friendliness, willingness to answer all my questions, and expert customer service has always been something pretty spectacular, given how often I’ve felt brushed off and unimportant at other rival repair shops. But far more important is the trust they always placed in me. In fact, on more than one occasion, when I wasn’t confident that my repair job was truly fixed, they trusted me enough to drive my car away without paying and to come back only after I was confident the problem was fixed. That says something given how many repair shops seem to care about nothing more than the money they get for the job itself. I’ve never found that to be the case at this Tireman location, as there, I’ve always felt valued and appreciated as a customer and haven’t had to witness my personal bank account being depleted in the process.

Similarly, I have much gratitude for a local dealership, that being Jim White Toyota. Recently, Chris and I began looking for a new vehicle after learning that his existing 2006 Kia Sportage was literally on its last legs with a completely rusted chassis that’s about to separate from the body of the car itself. Because of the incredible longevity of my current 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid, Chris became interested in looking at what Toyota had to offer in the SUV line of cars and thus we went to the closest dealer to our home, that being Jim White Toyota. Normally, I don’t like car dealers because I feel hounded from the moment I walk into their doors, where the only thing that seems to matter is the sale of their next vehicle. I never once experienced this at Jim White over the past bunch of months when this car shopping process ultimately began. Upon walking into their doors for the very first time in this car search for Chris, we met a saleswoman named Cara who was so upbeat and cheerful, it actually felt contagious, something I’ve needed far more of lately. Attentive to our every need, even on down to offering us beverages and snacks any time we stopped in, Cara has been such a positive blessing to our car shopping experience. I never once have felt hugely stressed when working with her, unlike how I’ve felt in almost all of my prior car shopping experiences. From her finding the exact car we wanted, to getting it at the cost we could afford, to making sure she answered every one of my endless questions, I honestly have a tremendous amount of appreciation for this woman. But even beyond that, I also have immense gratitude for her general manager, Vinnie, who worked diligently, and put up with my incessant demands, to ensure Chris and I were not only completely satisfied, but also helped us to reach a more than fair selling point on just about every facet of the vehicle Chris and I ended up with, that being a RAV 4 XLE.

So, as I continue to go to the Alexis Tireman location for my aging Camry Hybrid, while my partner begins a new relationship with Jim White Toyota, I am filled with much gratitude for both, knowing that Chris and I have places we can take our vehicles here in Toledo where we’re not only truly appreciated and valued as customers, but also where I feel we’re treated like family…

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

A Spiritual Perspective On That Wolverine And Buckeyes Rivalry…

Since moving to Ohio almost five years ago now, I quickly became aware of a huge rivalry between Michigan and Ohio. For those who are from this neck of the woods, know that I’m NOT speaking of the one that often plays itself out on the roads here between drivers from opposing states. Rather, I’m speaking specifically to the one between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes football teams.

Every year since first coming to this area, I’ve witnessed the constant bashing, taunting, and bragging those goes on around here from far too many. It seems to come up constantly in conversations all around me. It’s also on plenty of social media postings as well. And by the time the annual big game between the two arrives on the weekend after Thanksgiving, the trash talk has usually reached its peak. That is, until one of the two teams become the victor, leaving the other to bear the load of a ton of shaming comments. Frankly, I’m not a fan of any of this, as I feel there’s too much negative energy that comes out of it.

The reality is that I don’t participate in this rivalry because of this. I do my best to avoid any of those rivalry conversations that take place and I tend to avoid even watching any part of that big game when it’s on. While my partner did which a short bit of it this year, I opted to not tune in because honestly, I have far more difficult things going on in my life right now that causing me great stress. Choosing to really support one of these teams is only going to cause me get more stressed out and generate even greater pain within me. That why when this past year’s game took place down in Columbus where Ohio State ended up winning by a landslide, it didn’t affect my energy one bit. I can’t say the same was true though for a number of Wolverine’s fans I know, as I’m sure would have been true if the game had gone the other way.

Regardless, I know that watching sports and being a fan of any team is simply a pastime for many and often a tradition that’s passed down in their families. Yet, it wasn’t a tradition in mine, as hardly anyone ever watched any type of sports with any regularity on our television when I was growing up. On and off over the years though, I eventually did become a fan of several teams from different sports, except I constantly found my energy experiencing a roller coaster of emotions because of it. When my team was winning, I always got tons of temporary highs. But when my team was losing, I had the tendency to get temporarily depressed. Ultimately, when my health began to decline years ago, I found myself not wanting to experience any of that energy yo-yo anymore. That’s because it became just too stressful on my whole energy system every time I engaged in it.

It became too stressful on my mind and body to see the team I supported lose and even more stressful to endure all that bragging, taunting, and bashing that came from those who supported opposing teams. It also became stressful on some level when my team was winning, as I too often resorted to the very same trash-talking, which never made me feel very good inside whenever I did that. Thankfully, none of this seems to be in my make-up now and is the very reason why I don’t consider myself a true fan to either of these rival teams.

I’m sure this huge rivalry will probably go on for generations to come in this area and will continue to generate more of that bragging, taunting, bashing, and trash-talking. Many of these team’s fans will probably also keep on posting the things they do on social media, like something I saw not too long ago where one of these team’s mascots was receiving simulated oral sex from the opposing team’s mascot. While it’s not my place to condone this or any other behaviors that often arises out of this rivalry, especially since I once participated in it, I’m just thankful I’m not taking part in it anymore. Whether a team wins or loses really doesn’t matter to me these days. What matters more is just treating people with unconditional love, which for me, includes all people from Ohio and Michigan, and all Wolverine and Buckeyes fans…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

A man is dining in a fancy restaurant, and there is a gorgeous redhead sitting at the next table. He had been checking her out since he sat down, but lacked the nerve to talk with her. Suddenly she sneezes and her glass eye comes flying out of its socket towards the man. He reflexively reaches out, grabs it out of the air, and hands it back. “Oh my, I am so sorry,” the woman says as she pops her eye back in place. “Let me buy you dessert to make it up to you.” They enjoy a wonderful dessert together, and afterwards, the woman invites him to the theater followed by drinks. After paying for everything, she asks him if he would like to come to her place for a nightcap…and stay for breakfast the next morning. The next morning, she cooks a gourmet meal with all the trimmings. The guy is amazed! Everything has been incredible! “You know,” he said, “you are the perfect woman. Are you this nice to every guy you meet?” “No,” she replies…”You just happened to catch my eye…”

Silly Joke #2

An old cowboy sat down at the Starbucks and ordered a cup of coffee. As he sat sipping his coffee, a young woman sat down next to him. She turned to the cowboy and asked, ‘Are you a real cowboy?’ He replied, ‘Well, I’ve spent my whole life breaking colts, working cows, going to rodeos, fixing fences, pulling calves, bailing hay, doctoring calves, cleaning my barn, fixing flats, working on tractors, and feeding my dogs, so I guess I am a cowboy.’ She said, ‘Sounds like you’re a real cowboy then! Well, I recently realized I’m a lesbian because I spend my whole day thinking about naked women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women. When I shower, I think about naked women. When I watch TV, I think about naked women. It seems everything makes me think of naked women. After she got up and left, the cowboy remained there sipping his coffee in silence. A little while later, another man sat down next to him and asked, ‘Are you a real cowboy?’ Sounding quite concerned, he replied, ‘I always thought I was, but I just found out I’m a lesbian.’

Silly Joke #3

After being married for thirty years, a wife asked her husband to describe her. He looked at her for a while … then said, “You’re A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K.” She asks … “What the heck does that mean?” He said, “Adorable, Beautiful, Cute, Delightful, Elegant, Foxy, Gorgeous, and Hot”. She smiled happily and said … “Oh, that’s so lovely … What about I, J, K?” He said, “I’m Just Kidding”

Bonus Silly Joke

A chicken and an egg are lying in bed. The chicken is smoking a cigarette with a satisfied smile on its face and the egg is frowning and looking a bit pissed off. The egg mutters, to no-one in particular, “Well, I guess we answered THAT question!”

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

The Eight And A Half Year Storm…

Eight and a half years ago now, I was still deeply engaged in an adulterous relationship with a married man and was very spiritually sick, so much so, that my mental and emotional state had become completely unstable. On one particular afternoon, the pain had become so great that I humbled myself enough to finally ask God for help. I prayed to be freed from everything that separated me from Him. I prayed to have ALL my addictions removed and asked that I be brought through the healing as fast as I could handle it, so that I didn’t waste another day of my life living apart from Him. And I meant EVERY word of it, as torrents of tears fell from my face while I said those prayers. What I didn’t know was that two weeks later, a storm would begin in my life, one that I continue to believe is somehow the answer to all those prayers. But sadly, that storm still rages on in my life and has yet to depart.

There are many slogans, passages, and uplifting words out there in the world about the storms that fall upon us in our lives. I’ve been quoted many of them, often from the Bible, and various other religious text, as well as from my 12 Step recovery realms over the years, about how those storms always do pass. During the first few years of this, all of them were actually comforting and kept me going. But, as my health issues began to pile up, one after another, and my life fell apart more and more, my skies remained mostly grey with only a few moments of sunshine suddenly bursting through. Moments that never lasted more than a few hours to a day here and there. Moments that have only added up to about the number of days I can count on two hands.

This storm originally began somewhat small and was quite akin to a few passing rainstorms, one always following another. Eventually, those rainstorms turned into heavy downpours, yet I continued to endure, even when they didn’t let up. But, just when I thought those rains couldn’t get any stronger, they did, and my life now feels like it’s experiencing a Class 5 hurricane. And there I’ve sat in the midst of this crazy storm, as it ravages my life with so much physical pain and mental anguish, leaving me in in a place where I’ve actually forgotten what it’s like to not live in a such a storm.

I honestly don’t remember what it’s like to experience blue skies, light breezy winds, and a hopeful horizon. All attempts on my part to clear these dark skies and send all these heavy winds and rains away, have been thwarted by things seemingly beyond my control. People have asked me many times, especially recently, if I regret saying those prayers now. While my ego says yes, my heart and soul continue to say no. Because in all reality, I despised the person I once was, before this storm first began.

Somehow, I’ve continued to find enough faith to keep going though, and to keep believing that this storm will eventually end, even as the skies around me have turned totally black as of late. As I face probably the darkest moments of my life now, the Devil, evil, or whatever dark forces that plague our world, beckon me constantly to take my life, to give up on God, and to pick back up any number of addictions that used to comfort me. I have resisted all those temptations thus far, but honestly, I’m out of energy. Frankly, I’m tired, exhausted really. I have nothing left to give, but my life itself, and yet I still employ that to God. Because science, medicine, natural healers, and all the things this world has to offer for healing, have been unable to clear this storm away, and if anything, have often led to it becoming even stronger.

So, when people ask me now what they can do for me to help, as this storm feels like it’s about to ultimately break me in two, I have only one thing left to say. Pray that I’m given enough strength to get to the other side of this storm. Pray that God will see me through to its very end. And pray that I have enough faith to not give up on God, or myself for that matter. Because I can only imagine how clear the skies will become and how close I’ll feel to my Maker, when this storm finally does end.

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where I begin each week with a piece of gratitude to start things off on a positive note, which for today I want to express my thanks for the life I’ve been given.

For those who know the suffering I’ve been going through, there have been far too many days where I’ve lost focus on the life I’ve been given. Instead, I’ve chosen to focus on self-pity, misery, and often even anger for what I continue to go through. But, after watching two movies today, one about a famous journalist who toured many war-torn countries, and one about a low-income writer who suffered immensely from a poor self-image, dishonesty and alcoholism, I realized I needed to be far more grateful for the life God blessed me with, even if it currently is filled with tons of physical pain.

The fact is I could have been born into a family that was utterly poor.

I could have been born into a family from an area on this planet where food and water are at a constant shortage.

I could have been born into a family who lived in a place where bombs and gunfire fly on a daily basis.

I could have been born into a family where sexual and physical abuse were prevalent.

I could have been born with any number of disabilities that prevented me from living out any semblance of an average life.

I could have been born anywhere where freedom to be me wasn’t present.

The reality is I could have been born into any number of situations far worse than the one I was born into and am now presently living with.

So, while I might have been born into a family plagued with alcoholism and depression, I was raised with good moral values, who did their best to place the focus on God first, and who never allowed me to experience a shortage of anything. And as an adult, even though my life has been plagued for the last 8 and ½ years with chronic pain, I’ve never been deficient with food, water, shelter, clothing, or even companionship. So, I choose to be thankful today for the life I’ve been given, rather than beginning my week off focusing on what I don’t have. Because ultimately, I have been blessed, and for that I’m truly grateful.

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Terror doesn’t change people from gay to straight. It just hurts innocent people.” (DaShanne Stokes)

Quote #2

“You can’t pray away the gay, but you can torture a conflicted closet-case to death.” (Dan Savage)

Quote #3

“My parents sent me to gay conversion therapy thinking I would come back straight. I came back gay and atheist.” (Unknown)

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

“Boy Erased”, An Eye-Opening Film About The Truths And Many Horrors Of Gay Conversion Therapy Programs

There are many in this world who continue to believe that homosexuality is an abomination and a sin in the eyes of God. While I don’t believe it’s my place or anyone else’s for that matter, to ever try forcing any of them to see it differently, the same can’t often be said for them, especially when one of them is also a parent facing a child’s struggle with sexuality. As many of those parents frequently resort to sending their child off to gay conversion therapy programs with the sole hope it will remove the part of them that’s gay. This is the very premise of an eye-opening movie I recently saw in theaters titled “Boy Erased”.

Based upon a true story from Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name, the film follows the life of Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges), who is the son of a Baptist preacher, Marshall (Russell Crowe) and a Baptist mother, Nancy (Nicole Kidman). When a disturbing sexual event from his life catches up with him, Jared is directly confronted by his father and asked if “IT’S” true. When Jared finally admits his deepest, darkest secret to his parents, that he thinks of men, his father becomes immediately disturbed, so much so that he consults a few other pastors for help, both of which convince him to send his son off to a gay conversion therapy program. Once there, Jared witnesses the truth and many horrors of the program at the hands of chief therapist Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton), including physical abuse, mental torture, shaming, and intimidation. While some remain in the program and privately admit they are just “playing the part”, others desperately try to remove the piece of themselves they’re constantly told is a disgrace to God. It is there where Jared will ultimately face himself and decide once and for all, is he truly gay and going to accept that’s how God made him, or is his thoughts of men really just some sick part of himself?

Sadly, some 700,000 children have been sent off to gay conversation therapy programs just like the one Jared Eamons took part in, many of whom became psychology worse because of it with some even eventually resorting to suicide, all to escape the pain inflicted upon them by both their families and the “therapy” forced upon them.

While my parents never attempted to force gay conversion therapy programs upon me, I have experienced first-hand quite a few ultra-conservative religious folks over the years attempting something similar. I’ve been repeatedly warned by them I’d never make it into Heaven if I remained a “practicing homosexual”. I’ve been informed by them my sexuality is a choice and that God didn’t create me in this way. I’ve been rejected from membership from a number of prominent churches in the process as well. And I’ve even in recent years been advised that my long-enduring health issues are nothing more than a punishment from God for being gay. After watching “Boy Erased”, I was actually grateful that the brain-washing attempts upon me over the years by ultra-conservatives wasn’t anything even close to what Jared Eamons went through.

What I found most sad about these types of programs after watching the film and reflecting upon my own personal experiences with those who attempted to “convert” me into what they believed was the only God-given way, is how many in this world have ended up permanently turning away from God because of it all. Far too many gay people I’ve met over the years seem to care less about God, all because of the constant message they’ve received that God hates gays.

Ultimately, I believe I was born gay and that God made me this way. I don’t believe God made a mistake with me, or anyone else for that matter, especially when it comes to one’s sexuality. And I wholeheartedly don’t believe that God called me to live a life of either celibacy or a life in a relationship with a woman I don’t have true feelings for. To arrive at this place of acceptance with myself and my sexuality took experiencing many moments of stillness in meditation and prayer. God eventually did answer, many years ago, leading me to understand that whomever I entered a relationship with, man or woman, I was only to love them with all my heart, mind, and soul, and that’s all that mattered.

Unfortunately, much of the world still believes otherwise and continues to send questioning youths and even adults off to places like gay conversion therapies or worse. The fact is, until everyone comes to realize that God loves and accepts everyone, regardless of their sexuality, and that a person’s sexuality is for them to decide and no one else, more and more people are going to feel rejected by God by the actions of ultra-religious conservatives forced upon them.

Thankfully, Jared Eamons survived what was forced upon him and was able to go on to share his story with the world in both a memoir and now a movie that is extremely eye-opening to the truths and many horrors of gay conversion therapies, so much so that I know I’ll be praying for some time to come for anyone who ever has had to endure them…

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