Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Instead of wasting my energy on hate and resentment, I’d rather invest my energy in love and contentment.” (Karen Salmansohn)

Quote #2

“Resentment always hurts you more than it does the person you resent.” (Rick Warren)

Quote #3

“Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.” (Ann Landers)

Bonus Quote

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” (Catherine Ponder)

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

A Punching Bag No More – Part 2

A few weeks ago, I decided I could no longer be a punching bag to anyone who was going to hold me to my past addictive self. After writing an article about it with someone who still was, I received a heated set of comments from them, both on my blog and in a personal email, where ultimately, they made the decision to end our connection.

In the end, I opted to not respond to either of their final communications to me, a decision I didn’t take lightly, yet something I know shows how much I’ve spiritually grown over the years. You see, my past self would have definitely responded and tried to argue or defend myself and do whatever I could to salvage the friendship. But, both actions would have originated from my ego and both would have been futile, as when someone is harboring such deep resentments, there’s usually no changing their mind. My Spirit on the other hand showed me it was far healthier to just let them go for now, as maybe that’s the very thing that will help them begin the process of healing from all the anger and resentment they’re still carrying towards me.

Whether this friendship is over for good in this lifetime I don’t know, as I think it totally depends on whether they may one day take a hard look in the mirror as to why they haven’t been able to let the past go and fully forgive, not just with me, but with a number of others as well that they keep holding negativity towards deep within themselves. I often tried to tell them how toxic all that anger and resentment was to their soul, but sadly, I was never successful in doing so.

Regardless, even though I know they don’t believe it, I do own all the pain I caused them and will always own it. But, that doesn’t mean I need to beat myself up or let anyone else do that to me anymore either. It also doesn’t mean I have to be reminded again and again of all my past transgressions. I do believe I deserve full forgiveness and while I will always remember that my sex and love addiction truly hurt this person and many others too, the only thing I learned I can do to rectify it all is to clear my side of the street through an amends and remain living on a far healthier path, both of which I’ve done and have continued to do for over seven years now. Hopefully one day this person may indeed see that.

On some level, I feel I reached a milestone through this experience, because owning everyone else’s negativity, anger, and resentments has been a life pattern since I was a little kid. That’s how I fell into the pattern of becoming a punching bag for others, as it began with me taking on my mother’s misery in life. Anytime things didn’t meet her expectations, she’d unleash her own version of hell onto my sister and I by holding us to things that either weren’t our fault at all or were our fault, but sometime in our past.

The bottom line is that people who are filled with anger and negativity towards anyone else, who carry resentments on a regular basis, are only hurting themselves as they make the world around them their punching bag due to their inner misery. Until they find true forgiveness within and start seeing the world through a set of more unconditionally loving eyes, they will always carry a grudge and a chip on their shoulder, ultimately leaving themselves alone and miserable.

I sincerely pray that one day this person, someone I still love and always will, may allow more of God’s unconditional love into their heart, as I think that when they finally do, they will come to see me and many others in a far more positive Light, one that most likely will end any behavior of making others a punching bag for their own misery…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

Sitting on the edge of the highway waiting to catch speeders, a state police officer saw a car driving along at 22 M.P.H. He thinks to himself, that car is just as dangerous as a speeder. So, he turns his lights on and pulls the car over. Approaching the car, he notices there are 5 old ladies, two at the front and 3 at the back, wide eyed and looking like ghosts. The driver, obviously confused, said, “Officer, I don’t understand, I wasn’t doing over the speed limit! What did you pull me over for?” “Ma’am,” the officer said, “You should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be dangerous.” “Slower than the speed limit? No sir! I was doing exactly 22 miles an hour”, the old woman said proudly. The officer, trying not to laugh, explains that 22 is the route number, not the speed limit. A little embarrassed, the woman smiled and thanked the officer for pointing out her error. “Before I go Ma’am, I have to ask, is everyone ok? These women seem badly shaken and haven’t said a word since I pulled you over.””Oh! they’ll be all right in a minute, officer. We just got off Route 142”!

Silly Joke #2

A woman in her late thirties is at home happily jumping unclothed, on her bed and squealing with delight. Her husband watches her for a while and asks, “Do you have any idea how ridiculous you look? What’s the matter with you?” The woman continues to bounce on the bed and says, “I don’t care what you think. I just came from having a mammogram and the doctor says that not only am I healthy, but I have the breasts of an 18-year-old!” The husband replies, “What did he say about your 42-year old ass?” “Your name never came up,” she replied.

Silly Joke #3

A devoted wife had spent her lifetime taking care of her husband. Now he had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months as his time on Earth was nearing an end, yet she stayed by his bedside every single day. When he came to senses, he motioned for her to come near him. As she sat by him, he said, “You know what? You have been with me all through the bad times. When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When I got shot, you were by my side. When we lost the house, you gave me support. When my health started failing, you were still by my side. You know what?” “What dear?” she asks lovingly. “I really think you bring me bad luck!”

Bonus Silly Joke

Having been playing outside with his friends, a small boy came into the house and asked: “Grandma, what is it called when two people sleep in the same room and one is on top of the other?”His grandma was surprised to hear such a forthright question from a six-year-old but decided to answer as honestly as she could. “Well,” she said hesitantly, “it’s called sexual intercourse…” “Oh, okay,” said the boy and he ran outside to carry on playing with his friends. A few minutes later, he came back in and said angrily: “Grandma, it isn’t called sexual intercourse. It’s called bunk beds. And Jimmy’s mom would like a word with you!!!”

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“I can no more understand the totality of God than the pancake I made for breakfast understands the complexity of me. The little we do understand, that grain of sand our minds are capable of grasping, those ideas such as God is good, God feels, God loves, God knows all, are enough to keep our hearts dwelling on His majesty and otherness forever.” (Donald Miller)

Quote #2

“Even if a library contained every book ever written about God, it still wouldn’t contain the totality of who God fully is.” (Bishop Stephen Lee)

Quote #3

“If the totality of God is based upon the Bible alone, doesn’t that limit an infinite God into a finite one?” (Andrew Arthur Dawson)

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

The Totality Of God…

A few weeks ago, when my best friend was visiting me, we sat down early on a Saturday morning with a friend of mine who guest preaches at the spiritual center I currently attend, during which my hope was that maybe he might help my friend see things from a different perspective when it comes to God and homosexuality. Although my best friend’s viewpoint on the subject didn’t change after that meeting, I was still grateful to have had the experience, as it reconfirmed my own stance on the matter, especially when it comes to God.

Ultimately, I believe God is a lot bigger than the Bible, although many Christians would probably have my head for saying so. As my preacher friend, who’s also a Bishop, suggested, the totality of God goes way beyond the Bible, the Quran, the Torah, and any other book that’s ever been written about God. I agree and would go so far as to say that if every book ever written on the subject of God was put in an enormously large library, it still wouldn’t even touch the totality of God.

Unfortunately, my best friend feels just the opposite, as he believes that God’s truest word can only be found in the very pages of the Bible and the Bible alone. Hence the reason why he feels as he does now about homosexuality because it’s in those very pages in black and white where several passages denounce any same-sex relations.

I, on the other hand, have seen God in so many other ways in this world. I’ve seen God in a Muslim. I’ve seen God in a Wiccan. I’ve seen God in a Jew. I’ve seen God in a Hindu. And I’ve even seen God in an atheist who may not even believe in any type of God, but still does their best on a daily basis demonstrating the unconditional love of God anyway. Along the same line, I’ve seen God in many homosexuals, each who also do their best on any given day to offer the unconditional love of God too, myself included.

But, like my best friend, for the longest time none of that fell into my belief system since I used to believe the only true God was the one from the pages of the Bible. Because of that I never could fully accept myself and my sexuality in entirety, and if the totality of God was strictly that from the Bible, not only would I never be accepted into the Kingdom of God, but so wouldn’t billions and billions of people on this planet. At some point that started to not make any type of sense whatsoever, hence the reason why I began having to see the totality of God as something more than that which came from the Bible alone. Add in all the discrepancies to how the “Word” was constantly being applied in this world, the countless interpretations from Biblical scholars that all seemed to contradict each other, and plenty of people who warped God’s unconditional love into conditional or judgmental-based views, I realized God’s totality had to be something more than the Bible.

Eventually, I arrived at a place where the totality of God had me still identifying Christ as my Lord and Savior, except without labeling myself anymore as a Christian because of how much negative connotation that seems to hold these days in this world. With the amount of gay people, and people from other religions for that matter, who keep on being rejected because of the Bible and Christianity, I simply tell people now that I follow the unconditional love of Christ as best as I can. This thankfully has helped me to fully accept a number of things including the sexuality I was born with, the current relationship I’m in that’s same-sex based and fully monogamous, and plenty of others who come from non-Christian and non-Biblical-based backgrounds.

Many Christians, including my best friend, might say I’ve allowed the “Enemy” to sway me. If the “Enemy”, which of course is really just another term for Satan, has swayed me, I surely wouldn’t be holding the unconditional love I have for my partner. On the contrary, that “Enemy” was most definitely present in my past during the majority of all my previous relationships when I wasn’t faithful, when I did random hook-ups, when I attempted to break up marriages for sexual gain, when I viewed pornography, and so on and so forth.

So, no, I don’t believe the “Enemy” is swaying me today into believing any of this because for me, the totality of God absolutely includes the unconditional love I have for my partner. In the end, choosing to see the totality of God in this way, beyond the scope of the Bible, has allowed me to connect to countless souls on this planet that are just as worthy and deserving of God’s unconditional love. Souls that are indeed homosexual, souls that may never claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but souls nonetheless that truly do their best, every, single, day, to bring as much Light and Love onto this planet as they can.

And if that isn’t part of the totality of God, well, then I really don’t know what is or ever will be…

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” (John Wooden)

Quote #2

“Grit is that ‘extra something’ that separates the most successful people from the rest. It’s the passion, perseverance, and stamina that we must channel in order to stick with our dreams until they become a reality.” (Travis Bradberry)

Quote #3

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Bonus Quote

“Leaders never use the word failure. They look upon setbacks as learning experiences.” (Brian Tracy)

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where the focus is always on gratitude to begin the week with, which for today is for a guy who I’ll refer to by his first initial, “D”, who I met quite recently during one of my Toledo downtown jail weekly Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) commitments.

As I mentioned in a previous Grateful Heart Monday, I have plenty of gratitude for the rewarding experience I continue to receive from this weekly commitment, but I never thought that gratitude will spill over beyond the jail walls. What I mean by that is how I received a call a few weeks ago where I couldn’t identify the number. Normally I wouldn’t pick up the phone when that happens because of all those spam calls I seem to receive lately, but in this case for some reason I did. And I’m glad I did because on the other end was “D”, someone I had only gotten to know during two of my weekly meetings at the Toledo jail. As a side note, the population in the area of the jail I work with usually changes from week to week or at least every other week, so I normally don’t get to see the same people whenever I’m there to conduct the AA meeting and “D” was an example of that.

Nevertheless, “D” is a person who is hard to forget. Covered almost entirely from head to toe with tattoos, and I do mean the head as well, because at first I thought he had a short cropped head of black hair until I realized it was a bald head with a number of heavily-inked tattoos. I was quite intimidated by “D” initially, probably because of his silence, demeanor, and appearance. I’ve learned though I shouldn’t ever judge a book by its cover and “D” was definitely an example of that. He made sure to participate in the two meetings I had with him and seemed to hang on every word I spoke. When he asked for my number, I figured he’d be one of those who would simply just toss it in the garbage once he became a free man.

So, when I heard “D” on the other end of the phone and learned he was now in a program of recovery for addiction in Toledo, I was super excited for him. Rarely have I ever seen anyone leave jail and go into a program of recovery under their own volition. But “D” did, and on a particularly challenging day, when he was really questioning his decision to be in this new recovery program, he called solely to open up over the phone about his life with another human being, something he rarely did. After listening, and offering him a little advice, I made sure to let him know how proud I was of him for doing that, for the path he’d taken thus far, and for how far he had come in such short time in his recovery from addiction. Before hanging up, he made sure to thank me for taking his call and I felt really thankful because of it. Fifteen minutes later, I’d receive a text from him where he told me how much I’ve made a difference in his life and how much he respected my recovery. Words couldn’t express how much that meant to be. I’ve had a few more calls since then from “D” and truly hope that he will continue on this path. Only time will tell, but at least for the moment, “D” is on the Highest path he could take and done all the right things that are necessary to be on a healthy path of recovery from addiction.

I’m truly grateful for “D” for the decisions he’s currently making, for breaking through fear and trusting me with personal information, for continuing to show me that my AA work in the Toledo jail is making a difference, and for how much I keep on getting strong reminders of how important it is to keep doing the 12thStep work I do in life each and every week. So, whether “D” knows it or not, he too has made a huge difference in my life as well and I’m very much blessed by having his presence in my life too…

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“If God truly detests the act of homosexuality, then why does God keep making people who feel they were born that way and who can’t ever remember a single moment being attracted to anyone other than from the same sex?” (Andrew Arthur Dawson)

Quote #2

“Being gay is like being left handed. Some people are, most people aren’t and nobody really knows why. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just the way things are.” (Unknown)

Quote #3

“How many more gay people must God create until we realize that he wants them here?” (Kaniela Ing)

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

What Do You Do When Your Best Friend Says They’re No Longer Going To Be Gay Because Homosexuality Is A Sin?

There have been many difficult things I’ve had to go through in life, but watching someone who began identifying themselves as a gay individual long ago, someone who just so also happens to be my best friend in the world, come to the decision that homosexuality is a sin, was not one of them.

Writing about this isn’t easy because I have somewhat unstable feelings and emotions surrounding it, not just because it primarily deals with my best friend, but also because it deals with religion overall, chiefly the Christian religion, something that’s always been a loaded topic for me. Thankfully, I did receive the blessing from my best friend before writing this, as he knows how much my writing helps me to work through my spiritual struggles in life.

This story begins with me being born and raised a Christian, which for the longest time I was proud to consider myself one. I was also born gay, as I discovered through many complex forms of therapy I did over the years where I remembered that even in my very early single digit years I was attracted to the same sex, which to this day is still true having never found any sexual attraction to a woman whatsoever.

Nevertheless, this spiritual journey in life to figure myself out took me through intense studying of the Bible, participating in numerous Bible study classes, and even becoming a Deacon at one point. Along the way, I began to see how Christians, and people from many other religions as well, used what they saw in black and white in the Bible, and any other spiritual books they followed, against gay individuals just like me. And the more I did, the more I became disgruntled with religion in general. Eventually, I steered clear of religion altogether because of it, that is until I decided that maybe God was bigger than all those religions and that maybe all their books weren’t necessarily the “absolute” truth of God either. I mean after all, how could each of those religions say their Book was the “absolute” truth of God anyway? In light of all that, I no longer label myself as being from any spiritual background, other than being a spiritual type of guy who seeks God and does his best to use the main principle of Christ (i.e. loving each other unconditionally). Unfortunately, this is where my best friend and I began to clash.

It started about seven months ago or so, after an excessive string of promiscuity had come to an end and a period of celibacy had begun for my best friend. It was then he decided what he had been told from many Christians over the years and what he had always read in the Bible was actually true, that homosexuality was indeed a sin and not approved by God. Believe me, when he first told me this, I was utterly shocked. For being the guy who helped me come out of the closest, the guy who helped me find God and the love of Christ, the guy who led me into my life of recovery from addiction, and the guy who agreed with me for over two decades that those passages in the Bible that denounced homosexuality had to be wrong somehow, it was like receiving a huge slap in the face that stung so hard it left a permanent mark.

But, being who I am these days, I believe it’s ultimately important to live and let live, to accept others for where they are on their spiritual journey, and to just love unconditionally, so I opted to accept his new path as best as I could. That was going just fine until I told him that my partner Chris and I were planning on getting married next year and that I looked forward to him being my best man. We had always talked about us being that for each other if we ever got married. Sadly, it was at that precise moment that he shook his head and said he wasn’t sure if he’d even be able to attend my wedding now, because it went against his new religious beliefs. Immediately, the image of that baker in Indiana who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple came to mind, except in this case, the baker was actually my closest friend in the world.

So, as you could imagine, I was shocked and honestly, I still am. All of those years and all of those rejections I received from pastors, churches, friends, family, and plenty of strangers too, solely because of my sexuality, never once did I EVER imagine that one day, a form of it would come from my best friend. What’s even harder about this is how the last time I had been planning a marriage with someone I thought I was going to spend my life with, my Mom did the very same thing by telling me she wouldn’t attend my wedding either. Things were never the same after that with her or with that partner. With that being said, the dilemma I face now is whether I want to get married at all. If I get married, there’s a strong likelihood that a 22-year friendship could come to an end, and if I don’t, there’s a strong chance that my relationship with Chris may suffer irreparable damage. I feel like I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t and my deepest truth is that I really don’t know what to do now.

What I do know is that I love my partner with all my heart, mind, and soul, and remain monogamously dedicated to him. I so wish that all religious people could see that there is a beautiful God-based love even in a same-sex monogamous relationship like Chris and I have. But sadly, a relationship like ours is still detestable in their eyes and, in their opinion, in God’s as well.

But if God and Christ are nothing but unconditional love as I’m often told, then why wouldn’t God support the unconditional love my partner and I have for each other and our desire to enter into marriage? And wouldn’t my best friend coming to our ceremony be part of demonstrating that? These are the questions I continue to wrestle with over and over again as I try to put myself in my best friend’s shoes. Shoes that have never been in any long-term, monogamous, deeply loving relationship with any man. Shoes that only knew for the most part, a promiscuous lifestyle with men. And oh, how do I know those shoes so very well, because I lived in them at multiple points, and it’s those shoes that I believe are the actual sin that those spiritual books like the Bible speak of, not the ones I have on now where I absolutely love my partner and want to spend my life monogamously with him.

So yes, I have a hard time believing that God is really telling my best friend that he shouldn’t come to my wedding. I have a hard time as well believing that God actually disapproves of my love for Chris. And I especially have a hard time believing that God approves of all those judgments that continue to be made towards gay people just like me, because God made us the way we are. I certainly didn’t choose my sexuality, but boy if I could, I absolutely, positively, wouldn’t have chosen to be gay in a world where Christians and plenty of other religions constantly choose to look down upon people like me day after day after day, calling my lifestyle a sin.

In the end, all I know is that I love both my partner, and my best friend, immensely and equally, and don’t want to lose either. That’s why I’m choosing to leave this conflict in the hands of God to figure it all out, because I honestly can’t make sense of any of it.

So, what do you do when your best friend says they’re no longer going to be gay because homosexuality is a sin? I really don’t know, but I believe God does, and hopefully His unconditional love will prevail through it all…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

A woman meets a gorgeous man in a bar. They talk, they connect, they end up leaving together.They get back to his place, and as he shows her around his apartment, she notices that his bedroom is completely packed with sweet cuddly teddy bears. Hundreds of cute small bears on a shelf all the way along the floor, cuddly medium-sized ones on a shelf a little higher, and huge, enormous bear on the top shelf along the wall. The woman is kind of surprised that this guy would have a collection of teddy bears, especially one that’s so extensive, but she decides not to mention this to him, and is quite impressed by his sensitive side. She turns to him… they kiss… and then they rip each other’s clothes off and make hot steamy love. After an intense night of passion with this sensitive guy, they are lying there together in the afterglow, the woman rolls over and asks, smiling, ‘Well, how was it?’ The man says, ‘Well, you can have any prize from the bottom shelf…’

Silly Joke #2

Q: Daddy, why are all those cars beeping their horns?
A: Because they were just at a wedding.
Q: Don’t we beep the horn as a warning signal, Daddy?
A: Exactly, son.

Silly Joke #3

Little Johnny watched, fascinated, as his mother smoothed cold cream on her face. “Why do you do that, mommy?” he asked. “To make myself beautiful,” said his mother, who then began removing the cream with a tissue. “What’s the matter?” asked Little Johnny. “Giving up?”

Bonus Silly Joke!

Manny is almost 29 years old. His friends have already gotten married, but Manny still just dates and dates.Finally, a friend asks him, “What’s the matter, are you looking for the perfect woman? Are you that particular? Can’t you find anyone who suits you?””No,” Manny replies. “I meet many nice girls, but as soon as I bring them home to meet my parents, my mother doesn’t like them. So, I keep on looking!” “Listen,” his friend suggests, “Why don’t you find a girl who’s just like your dear ole mother?” Many weeks go by and again Manny and his friend get together. “So, Manny, did you find that perfect girl yet–one that’s just like your mother?” Manny shrugs his shoulders, “Yes, I found one just like my mom, and my mother loved her, and they became fast friends.” “So, should I congratulate you? Are you and this girl engaged, yet?” “No, I’m afraid not, because now my father can’t stand her!”

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“It’s not just about losing the weight. It’s about losing the lifestyle and mindset that got you there.” (Steve Maraboli)

Quote #2

“Food is the most abused anxiety drug. Exercise is the most underutilized anti-depressant.” (Unknown)

Quote #3

“I may not understand obesity and the chronic overeating that leads to it, but I do understand addiction, as chronic overeating is an addiction just like alcohol, drugs, sex, and love became to me. And as I discovered with those addictions and any other addiction I ever succumbed to, the process to healing didn’t come from seeking something externally to fix the problem. It was corrected by going within and getting to the root of why I was choosing to engage in something over and over again that was literally killing me, and then finding a Higher Power that could get me back on a much healthier path, One that truly became the only thing ever able to restore me to sanity.” (Andrew Arthur Dawson)

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

The Growing Concerns I Have When It Comes To Bariatric Surgery…

I’ve known of a number of people over the years who’ve had bariatric surgery to help combat their growing obesity issues. While I’m definitely all in support of anyone looking to reduce their weight to help make them a healthier person, I’ve had growing concerns around the fact that bariatric surgery is fast becoming THE “go-to thing” to make that happen as quick as possible.

My biggest and immediate concern comes from the several I’ve known to have died from complications from this surgery over the years. Recently, I thought a close friend of mine was going to be another one to add to that list, as the day after his procedure was over, his sutures opened up within him, causing body fluids to leak into his system, which led to almost catastrophic failure of his entire being. It’s scary things like this that make me wonder if people seeking this surgery realize just how serious and invasive of a surgery it really is. I often think people aren’t worrying about it as much anymore because it’s being done so frequently these days.

Just as much of a concern of mine beyond the surgical complications of the procedure itself, is the change of life that I’ve learned comes immediately after the procedure is complete. With the stomach having been shrunk to an infinitesimally small size compared to what it was before, eating habits have to change dramatically right away. But, for most of the people I’ve known who’ve gone through this procedure, eating habits up until just before their surgery remained out of control on most days. The hope for them was that the surgery would correct this. But, if there’s one thing I’ve absolutely learned when it comes to this surgery, it’s that it doesn’t correct that desire to overeat whatsoever. The desire is still there after the surgery is over, yet the body can’t eat like it did before because there isn’t much of a stomach left to put in all in. Honestly, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard from those who knew this post-surgery, but still overate anyway and found themselves sick and throwing up more than once.

Sadly, bariatric surgery isn’t necessarily a permanent solution either, because one can gain any of their drastic weight loss back over time given the remaining stomach has the ability to enormously expand all over again. Case in point, I had one friend who dropped from over 400 pounds to under 200 after his bariatric surgery, only to several years later be back close to his original weight.

With all this in mind, I’m actually thankful my partner Chris never had this surgery done. When I met him, he was around 360 pounds and had been considering doing it. I wasn’t in support of it one bit and honestly, I stand by that still to this day because the path Chris took after I expressed my concerns surrounding it was a far healthier one in my humble opinion. It was one that involved counseling to get to the root of why he was constantly overeating, one that involved 12 Step recovery and Weight Watchers to keep him accountable with others struggling with the same issue, one that involved making much healthier eating choices on a daily basis, and one that involved going to the gym two to three times a week as well. The result? Over the course of the past five years, Chris has lost around 100 pounds!

Nevertheless, if I were to make any type of judgment as to why so many people are pursuing bariatric surgery nowadays, regardless of knowing about the potential complications that can arise from it, it’s most likely because a path like the one Chris took to lose weight isn’t a quick and easy one. Rather, it’s a much longer one that dealt with facing himself and going within, making sacrifices, and pushing himself to move beyond various sedentary areas of living.

Don’t get me wrong, for someone who might be morbidly obese, doing bariatric surgery may indeed be necessarily right away. But, unfortunately, I’m seeing many who aren’t morbidly obese and are just overweight, going under the knife, hoping to become more fit without having to do any of the difficult spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical work that can be done to lose weight naturally and in a much more natural process.

So, in light of all this, this is why I remain concerned for all those who might be considering, seeking, or placing reliance on a surgery they hope is going make their life totally better and totally healthier. Because, in all reality, it may indeed make their life far worse and far sicker or quite possibly change nothing at all, other than temporarily removing their ability to eat to excess…

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” (Jerry West)

Quote #2

“Working hard overcomes a lot of other obstacles. You can have unbelievable intelligence, you can have connections, you can have opportunities that fall out of the sky. But in the end, hard work is the true enduring characteristic of successful people.” (Marsha Evans)

Quote #3

“You have to have that fire. You have to have that passion inside. You have to believe that you can do it. Or you won’t and you’ll be stuck doing things that you don’t want to do and it sucks to do things you don’t want to do for the rest of your life.” (Shay Carl Butler)

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday entry, where gratitude is the only focus of the day, which for today is for Jackson Starr, a friend of mine I hired to redo the very outdated and worn-down bathroom in my partner and I’s home.

For five years now, I’ve lived in a home where the only bathroom I could use was a 5×5 one with pink flowered wallpaper, a pink walk-in shower, a pink pedestal sink, a pink toilet, and a pink-medicine chest. While I’m sure this was most definitely quite beautiful and in fashion back in 1993 when it was last redone to this design, it most certainly doesn’t feel so anymore today and in all honestly, I’m not that much of a fan of the color pink either! In light of that, one day recently when the growing amount of wallpaper peeling away from the wall and the chips of drywall and plaster coming off of it, as well as the fixtures looking so darn rusted and old, I finally decided I had enough of it. That’s when I decided to ask a friend of mine, Jackson, who’s normal day-to-day job is doing construction work in buildings and houses, if he would take on a side job to redo our bathroom as soon as possible. Thankfully he agreed.

While the job is being split up into two different projects, so far, his work has been second to none. Jackson definitely pays attention to the details and is quite good at making sure everything gets lines up and perfectly centered. He’s also got a good eye for aesthetics, as part of the direction I was going in would have made the bathroom look incredibly overcrowded. But thanks to him, I found an alternative that worked much better.

Jackson also has a great work ethic. Frankly, having seen many contractors over the years who spent a lot of time goofing off and causing a project to become unnecessarily delayed, I was pleasantly surprised how far that has been from Jackson’s work mentality. As he’s one of those who grinds in hour after hour after hour, totally engaged in the job, sometimes even well beyond the point where he probably should have taken a much-needed break! And with Jackson charging an hourly rate that was most certainly far more affordable than if I had hired a professional company to do the work, I’ve experienced plenty of gratitude all around.

Now that phase one of this bathroom project is complete, I can say this much of Jackson as well. He absolutely knows what he’s doing when it comes to working with tools and home improvement projects, much more so than anything I know I’ve ever attempted. Heck, I struggle to even assemble a simple tiny bathroom cabinet!

Nevertheless, one last thing I should mention as well is how clean Jackson leaves his jobsite each night. I’ve hired some people in the past who’ve done work for me, only to see them leave my house in a mess until the job was entirely done. Not so with Jackson, as he leaves things in a very functional working order, which is a big plus for that OCD side of mine!!!

So, yes, I have much to be grateful for when it comes to Jackson Starr, a friend and simple construction guy who’s been well worth the cost of his help!

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

Question To Ponder For The Day

Today’s question is…

What is your most memorable birthday memory thus far in life?

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


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Learning To Enjoy A Birthday Spent With Me…

Spending time alone used to be a really big problem for me. That was especially true on past birthdays, where I always found the need to surround myself with others for the majority of the day, mostly because I was so dependent on others to make myself feel better. This year’s birthday was certainly different though and showed how much I’ve grown, of which I’m truly thankful for.

Four days ago, when I actually celebrated my most recent birthday, my 47th, I woke up that day with not a single plan, other than to see my therapist for one of our weekly appointments. I had no lunch plans. No dinner plans. Nothing really, which in the past would have bothered me immensely because my ego would have attempted to convince me that no one loved or cared about me. Today, I know that’s a lie, because my self-esteem comes from within, not externally.

Although I still struggle for external approval at times, I decided it was important to spend this year’s birthday just chilling at home for the bulk of it, during which I soaked up the sun, did some gardening and cleaning up of the yard, watched plenty of cotton from the cotton trees lazily drift from the sky onto the ground all around me, and even spent a good portion of the day cleaning up the house. By the time my once a year special day ended, I had only spent approximately 2 hours of it with others, where the rest was spent making the best of my own company. And you know what? I actually found it more refreshing, peaceful, and relaxing then many of past birthdays where I was so preoccupied with activities with others. Activities that usually encompassed a lunch and dinner out with different sets of friends.

This year though, my special lunch was honestly nothing more than a good cup of Strawberry yogurt with dark chocolate granola. My dinner was a Big Mac and fries if you can believe it, something I did just to honor the little kid in me who used to love eating that growing up. And my dessert? Well it wasn’t a piece of cake with a candle in it with people singing happy birthday. Rather it was redeeming my free birthday drink from Starbucks that ended up being a Venti Decaf Quad Soy Mocha with two shots of Toffee Nut Syrup. And you know what? It was freaking fantastic!

All in all, I had a great day, which is kind of shocking to think about, seeing how I spent so very little of it doing any major activity. But lately, I’m beginning to realize, that some of the best moments in life often come when I’m by myself, in more stillness than not, as it’s in those moments I truly come to appreciate my life and my Higher Power as well.

So, while I did receive several hundred Happy Birthday messages from friends and loved ones that I’m very thankful for, I think the best birthday gift I received this year was ultimately taking the time to show myself that I didn’t need anyone else to make my special day special, as being with me and God alone made it special enough!

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

An old codger goes to visit his doctor about painful peeing. His wife goes with him because the poor old bloke is hard of hearing. After an examination the Doctor says to the old man, “Right, I’ll need you to leave a urine, semen and feces samples for analysis.” The old man didn’t quite hear the Doctor and asks his wife, “What did the Doctor say?” The wife replies, “He wants you to leave your underpants here, dear.”

Silly Joke #2

Patient: Nurse, I keep seeing spots in front of my eyes.
Nurse: Have you seen a doctor?
Patient: No, just spots.

Silly Joke #3

Little Johnny did not go to school one day. The next day when the teacher asked him why, he said, “Our cow was on heat, so I had to take her to the bull.” “Oh, I see,” said the teacher, “but I’m sure your father could have done that.” “No ma’am, he couldn’t have,” said Johnny, “it has to be the bull!”

Bonus Silly Joke

An 8-year-old girl went to the office with her father on ‘Take your kid to work Day’. As they walked round the office she started crying and getting exceedingly cranky. Her father asked what was wrong. As the staff gathered round because they were concerned, she sobbed loudly, “Daddy, where are all the clowns you said you worked with?!”

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

Question To Ponder For The Day

Today’s question is…

If you could receive one gift of your choosing, where sky’s the limit, on your next birthday, what would it be?

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


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Another Year Older And Another Year Clean And Sober!

Yesterday was my 47th birthday, as well as my 24th completed year of sobriety from alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. Honestly, I can’t believe I’m just a few years away from hitting “The Big 5-0”. And to think I’ve been clean and sober for almost two and a half decades now, it simply boggles my mind where all that time went?

At 47, I must admit I find myself struggling to fully accept my body shape, which is far from the tone and sculpted look I once had. Every time I look in the mirror I seem to see a new aging spot or wrinkle now, and dam those love handles! Yes, I know, the outer body is not where the truest beauty comes from. Believe me, I’ve written many articles on the subject. But, I am human being who grew up in a family filled with too much vanity and so the aging process hasn’t been an easy one to accept. While I do feel my heart and soul is far more attractive than they used to be, I still live in a mental world filled with a bunch of superficiality issues, which seem really hard to overcome sometimes. Sadly, I once was a guy who regularly walked into bars or other public venues, solely to get hit on and actually lived off those ego trips to survive. But now as I face the other side of things, where I seem to hardly get noticed for my looks, I realize I need to continue to go spiritually deeper. Which is why I’m grateful that I’ve been working on my spiritual state a lot over the past bunch of years, because ultimately, I believe that’s the most attractive part of a human being overall. I just wish I could instantly erase all those parts of me that still focus on the outside versus the inside, as they tend to prevent me from seeing my truest beauty. Nevertheless, beyond being another year older and another year hopefully wiser, I’m also another year clean and sober as I mentioned already, which, on some level, is pretty darn amazing compared to the guy I used to be.

You see, 24 years ago, I couldn’t go a day without getting boozed up or mind-altered. It was my only solution back then to calm the terrible voices in my head that reminded me quite often of being molested, getting repeatedly verbally disciplined by my parents, feeling not good enough, and always getting picked on. Some say it’s hard to remember their alcoholic and drug addicted days the longer they remain clean and sober. Thank God that’s not the case for me, as I continue to remember it all too well, which honestly is a good thing, because it serves as a great reminder of why I never want to return to that part of my life EVER AGAIN.

Regardless, turning another year older or another year clean and sober may, on the grand scheme of things, not be that big of a deal to others, especially as that number of years grow. I’m inclined to agree, yet even so, at 47 years old and 24 years of sobriety, I feel extremely thankful I’ve made it thus far, solely because of having lived such an incredibly convoluted life up to this point.

So, as I head towards 48 years of age and 25 years of sobriety in 2020, I end this birthday article by stating something positive, which is how I have faith that even in this constantly aging body that no longer fits the image I once worked so hard to keep up, that the best of my life is actually yet to come. And that’s all because I continue to ask God to be at the helm of my life on a daily basis, and with God at the helm, I truly believe I’ll be headed in the best direction I can ever go…

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

Question To Ponder For The Day

Today’s question is…

What is something at first glance you initially misjudged, that actually ended up being pretty amazing and inspiring?

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


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Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where I find gratitude in my life to focus on and start my week off on a positive note, which for today is for Kodi Lee, a blind and autistic contestant on this year’s America’s Got Talent who is incredibly inspiring and gifted beyond belief.

I’ve been watching America’s Got Talent now for about 7 years and usually find myself looking forward to the beginning of summer each year, as that’s when a new season always begins for the show. It’s the only reality type of show I continue to watch and that’s because I enjoy being inspired by the many ways people in this world are gifted with some type of unique talent.

While America’s Got Talent has definitely highlighted plenty of that, it also occasionally places negative emphasis on acts that are either downright ridiculous with people doing silly things to get their few minutes of fame or people who in their own right mind feel they are talented, but in this show’s standards, are really not. So, when the final act of the first episode of the season began, with a guy being led out on stage by his mother, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Frankly, I probably thought what a lot of people did at that moment, which was wondering what kind of talent a 22-year-old guy who was blind and autistic could actually have. After all, he really wasn’t able to effectively communicate to the judges when asked questions before his act began, other than offering one-or-two-word answers, and he constantly was rocking back and forth like many who are autistic.

Nevertheless, his mother explained Kodi was going to play the piano and sing for everyone, as that was his greatest passion. After sitting down and playing a few random keys on the piano that sort of reminded me of what a little kid might do the first time they placed their hands on an instrument, I found myself feeling a little nervous as I didn’t want the audience to boo this guy or give him any bit of negative energy. Sadly, there have been many times this does happen on America’s Got Talent, which honestly, is probably the one thing I don’t like about the show, because anyone stepping foot on a stage in front of several thousand people is quite a feat in itself, but trying to demonstrate a talent they really believe in themselves is far more of a feat.

So, as Kodi began to play, my heart fluttered somewhat in fear for him, that was until he started singing. Immediately, my jaw dropped and tears proceeded to fall from my eyes. The way Kodi played on those piano keys and the way his voice soothed my soul, words couldn’t ultimately describe what I was feeling in my heart. All I know is that I felt the presence of God during his two or so minute performance and it was then that I realized that no matter how bad my life and my health may be, that God has a specific talent within us all that is meant to inspire others somehow.

Kodi Lee’s talent is something I find myself weeks later still thinking about. How can someone who is blind and autistic be so darn amazing! I have never in seven years of watching America’s Got Talent, EVER SEEN SUCH A GIFT in someone with such limitations in life! When Kodi got the season’s first golden buzzer, which guarantees him a live show appearance, I pretty much became a blubbering idiot and was kind of glad I was watching it alone. My partner Chris, who had watched it already earlier that evening had told me it was one of the best episodes he’s ever watched and I honestly didn’t know why he said that, that was until Kodi’s performance.

It’s pretty easy in this world to overlook someone like Kodi Lee and count them out before they even get a chance to prove themselves. Given he doesn’t have that Hollywood look or persona, one could pass Kodi on the streets and feel sorry for him just by what they see. But Kodi reminded me of why all of us should NEVER, EVER, focus on what we see with our eyes, and instead look to what’s beneath all that. Because beneath Kodi’s exterior is a piece of God that just inspired millions and millions of people in a way, that only God could make happen in my humble opinion.

I’m truly grateful for Kodi Lee and his incredible talent and will most certainly be rooting for him to win this season now. He single-handedly gave me enough inspiration to keep going and never count myself out, no matter how much my body and health continues to be riddled in pain and anguish. Because maybe, just maybe, I have a talent within me too, even in my current unfortunate circumstances of life, that one day will inspire many others as well, just like blind and autistic 22-year-old Kodi Lee is doing right now on America’s Got Talent Season 14…

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“If you judge a person that you don’t even know by the tattoos they have, the piercings they have, the way they dress or by how they look to you in general, YOU are the one with the issue, not them. Stop the hate. Live and let live.” (Comic Strip Mama)

Quote #2

“I owe no explanations for my flaws. I don’t have to justify my mistakes, my past, or my insecurities. I am growing and learning. Let me live.” (Unknown)

Quote #3

“Let people do what they need to do to make them happy. Mind your own business, and do what you need to do to make YOU happy.” (Leon Brown)

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

Not Everyone Knows How To “Live And Let Live”…

I think it’s important to respect all my neighbors so I frequently utilize a slogan I learned in my 12 Step recovery life, that being to “live and let live”. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case in reverse.

Essentially, to “live and let live” means to accept people for who they are, where they’re at in life, and to tolerate their behaviors. In other words, it simply means to let each and everyone be themselves, even when there may be things that others are doing that trigger you immensely.

Of course, it’s always my hope when applying the “live and let live” principle that it will extend in reverse, where people like my neighbors will accept me for me and let me live my life without judging me or my day-to-day actions. While for the most part that’s been the case since moving into my neighborhood, I recently experienced a situation when it most definitely wasn’t.

Before I go more into that, let me first say that most who know me know that I spend an incredible amount of time keeping my yard and gardens looking neat and orderly. It’s definitely an obsession for me at times, especially during my most unfavorite time of the year when the half a dozen or so 50-year-old maple trees surrounding my home begin dropping countless helicopters to the ground, cluttering up my gutters, my gardens, my ponds, and my grass, all doing their best to make thousands of new trees wherever they land and creating blockages where they can’t. While I’m sure many probably don’t care about cleaning them up as much as I do, I opt to spend a good bit of time for those few weeks each year clearing them out until they’re gone for good for another year. How that gets accomplished is through the use of several shop vacuums, a leaf vacuum and a blower. Sometimes, when the crop of helicopters comes down in such high droves it takes an entire day to clean them all up. While it’s not my favorite task, it does occupy my time and keeps me away from a number of unhealthy things and thoughts. Frankly, I consider it to be a healthy outlet for my recovery life from addiction. And if you knew me for who I used to be when I intensely engaged in a number of addictions, you would definitely agree that an obsession over my yard clean-up is far better than what I used to spend my time doing.

That being said, after one of those particularly high-wind days that brought down tons of those annoying little wonders recently, I was outside with a sponsee who I hired to help me clean up the mess when one of my neighbors began to complain about the noise my shop vacuums were making. First the wife expressed how much it was driving her husband crazy, then he expressed it multiple times as well later that day and several subsequent days after that too. I felt guilty about it, but shouldn’t have, because I had done the work during the 9am to 5pm time frame. But what made me more upset was the fact that they do something regularly that drives me crazy too, except I accept it and regularly apply the “live and let live” principle when it comes to it.

What I’m referring to is their use recreational marijuana. Throughout the day on most days, I must endure the smell of pot all around me. It tempts me, specifically on those high pain-filled days when I just want to take a hit and lessen it somehow. Thankfully, I never have, although it was offered to me in years past before any of them knew I was in recovery from addiction. But, even now with all my neighbors knowing how much of an alcoholic and addict I once was, they continue to enjoy their use of weed in open air on most days. Yet, I have always applied that principle I learned in recovery and done my best to “live and let live”, never once complaining or showing any discontent about their use of marijuana.

So, when my neighbor began complaining about the clean-up noise I created for the majority of an entire day, I found myself feeling aggravated at how they weren’t applying the same principle. Unfortunately, not everyone understands this principle and ends up judging others as a result, hoping it will somehow remove the annoying stimuli and make their life better. From personal experience though, it never does, as something always seems to follow it that’s just as annoying.

Nevertheless, while my neighbors may not and never understand, or ever fully apply, the principle of “live and let life”, I will continue to practice it with them because at least it helps me to accept them just as they are, to love them no matter what they do, as that is the very root of what I feel Christ would do himself. And hopefully one day, they may see that my yard and garden obsession that annoys them immensely at times is really no different than how I feel about their pot obsession, as once they do, maybe then, they too will learn to fully “live and let live”.

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

Two elderly gentlemen from a retirement center were sitting on a bench under a tree when one turns to the other and says: “John, I’m 83 years old now and I’m just full of aches and pains. I know you’re about my age. How do you feel?”John says, “I feel just like a newborn baby.” “Really!? Like a newborn baby!?” “Yep. No hair, no teeth, and I think I just pooped my pants.”

Silly Joke #2

A boy asks his father to explain the differences among irritation, aggravation, and exasperation. His father picks up the phone and dials a number at random. When the phone is answered, he asks, “Can I speak to Alf, please?””No! There’s no one called Alf here,” says the person who answered the phone. His father hangs up. “That’s irritation,” he says. He picks up the phone again, dials the same number, and asks for Alf a second time. “No! I told you already there’s no one here called Alf. Go away! If you call again I shall telephone the police,” the person says. His father hangs up and says, “That’s aggravation.” “Then what’s exasperation?” asks his son. The father picks up the phone and dials the same number a third time. “Hello, this is Alf. Have I received any phone calls?” he asks casually.

Silly Joke #3

The other night, I was invited out for a night with “the girls.” I told my husband that I would be home by midnight. “I promise,” were my last words.The hours passed and the margaritas went down way too easily and around 3 a.m. we piled into a cab and headed to our respective homes, quite inebriated. Just as I walked through the door, the cuckoo clock in the hall started up and cuckooed 3 times! Realizing that my husband would probably wake up to this, I quickly cuckooed another 9 times. I was quite pleased with myself for coming up with such a quick-witted solution to cover up my tardiness. Even with my impaired judgment, I could count 3 cuckoos plus 9 cuckoos equaled 12 cuckoos! The next morning, my husband asked me what time I got in, and confidently, I replied, “Midnight…like I promised!” He didn’t even raise an eyebrow and went on reading the morning paper! Phew! Got away with that one! After a moment, he then replied, “I think we might need a new cuckoo clock.” A bit nervously, I asked him why, to which he responded: “Well, last night our clock cuckooed 3 times, then said, ‘Oh, crap,’ cuckooed 4 more times, cleared it’s throat, cuckooed another 3 times, giggled, cuckooed twice more, then tripped over the coffee table and farted.”

Bonus Silly Joke

A man and his wife were sitting in the living room discussing a “Living Will” …”Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.”His wife then promptly got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all the beer.

And one more really ridiculous pun just because it’s my type of humor…

“My friend was running with cheese yesterday, but I told him to stop because it was sharp.”

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

Question To Ponder For The Day

Today’s question is…

What is the biggest thing you probably have wasted the most amount of money on in life?

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


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How Selfishness Prevented A Lawn Care Service Owner From Seeing The Bigger Picture…

Sometimes, I just don’t understand people, especially those who are in the business to make money. I say that because recently I called a local lawn care company to see about getting a specific treatment for a fungus that showed up in my yard last year, only to eventually learn they weren’t going to help me unless I signed up for their entire lawn care service.

Currently, I’m very content with my existing lawn care service. Other than this rare fungus that somehow got into my yard last year, a fungus called Pythium Blight, I really have been impressed overall with their results for the past six years. Unfortunately, when this fungus showed up out of the blue last year, my lawn care company didn’t have anything to treat it, as it is that rare, at least in this area, and it’s also somewhat pricey to treat as well, with the fungicide costing upwards of almost $500. Since I didn’t have the desire to spend that amount of money last year to get the expensive fungicide that would have fixed the problem, I ended up losing over half of my entire yard as a result. Thankfully though, after over-seeding last fall and this spring, my yard has fully returned to its former glory, yet so has the worries about this disease coming back, especially as the humid and hot weather that brought it out the last time has started returning as well. In lieu of that, I recently began calling around to other lawn care companies to see if they had a specific treatment for Pythium Blight, and if so, could I hire them specifically to treat my yard for it, if it was to show up again.

One such lawn care company who had great ratings on the Internet contacted me and told me they indeed did have a fungicide that would take care of Pythium Blight. They also said that it would probably take two applications and cost me about $60 dollars overall. When they asked who did my current lawn care, I told them, which upon hearing, they attempted to see if I’d be open to switching my lawn care service to them. I told them I wasn’t necessarily looking for that, but would be open to an estimate just to see their costs. A week later the owner of this company showed up and provided me an estimate that was relatively reasonable, except I had had decided in the meantime that I wasn’t really ready to switch services. But at least I now had a company who could provide me a spot treatment if the fungus was to show back up again right?

WRONG…

Because when I contacted the owner via phone the day after getting my estimate and asked how long it would take for him to come out and provide the Pythium service if it was to return, I received a very short text message back that said he wouldn’t help me unless I was willing to fully switch over to his lawn care service.

Honestly, I got pretty perturbed because of this. I felt this business owner’s tactics were shady because on the front end, when I originally made my first contact with him, he was totally willing to provide the spot treatment if it was to show up again. But later, when he realized I wasn’t going to switch over to his lawn care program, he couldn’t be bothered with me. And even after several attempts to reach out and speak about the matter further, I never heard back from him again.

Frankly, I don’t understand why business owners make decisions like this, as providing a small service for something like a simple fungicide treatment can go a long way with (a) me providing recommendations for his company to others, and (b) me providing them more of my future business as well. In fact, quite possibly, providing me the small service he said he’d do at the onset, could have eventually led to me down the road giving him my full lawn care service. Yet, this guy was only interested in me being a full lawn care client now and nothing else. Ironically, one lawn care company I talked to later about this issue confirmed that they have indeed taken on small jobs before just like the one I was asking for, because it usually has led to a lot more dollars of future business down the road.

Nevertheless, this deceptive lawn care service owner reminded me of my past addictive me who was only ever concerned about making the big dollars versus developing better relationships with clients. It’s a big reason why my bed and breakfast failed back in 2010, when I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars overall, because back then, I was often deceptive myself and far more focused on the money coming in then developing stronger bonds with my customers.

So, while this lawn care business owner couldn’t see the bigger picture of how some better customer service and a small fungicide treatment could have gone a long way to a more lucrative partnership down the road, I’m at least glad I was able to identify the mirror for my past self, and for being able to cross a company off the list who probably wouldn’t have ever been in my best interest to use anyway when push came to shove…

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

Question To Ponder For The Day

Today’s question is…

What sweet treat does your inner child like to eat the most when you’re craving something sugary and comforting?

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

 


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Grateful Heart Monday

It’s Grateful Heart Monday, a time to express a little gratitude to start my week off on a positive note, which for today is for my friend Karen W, someone who has been a huge asset to not just my 12 Step recovery life, but also my partner Chris’s as well.

When I first met Karen, it was back in the fall of 2015. I was attending a meeting for the first time, Perrysburg Staying Sober, which would eventually become my home group in Alcoholics Anonymous. Around that time was when I seriously began struggling with my health issues and felt like I had hardly anyone to talk to in this area who would really listen. When I asked Karen if she would meet me for coffee, she said she’d love to. Ever since, we’ve done many coffee dates together, where she’s been a great listener, a person of compassion, and someone who also has given me a swift kick in the butt when I truly needed one.

One of the reasons why I treasure Karen is because she’s one of those who doesn’t beat around the bush, who doesn’t sugar coat things, and says it how it is. Honestly, I get so frustrated in life with those who can’t just be straightforward with me, but thankfully Karen is not one of them. I always believe that a real friend tells you the truth when asking for their opinion about something you’re going through, instead of offering some sort of watered-down version of it. Plenty of times, Karen has pointed out the exact areas where I needed to take a deeper look into and led to further spiritual growth within me.

I don’t have very many close friends in Toledo, but I do consider Karen one of them and someone I could rely on if I needed a friend to come to my aid. Unafraid to show her feelings, honest to the core, and someone who keeps their integrity, Karen has demonstrated many qualities that I seek in a friend, of which I’m very grateful.

But the thing I’m far more grateful for when it comes to Karen deals with my partner Chris. Over a year ago now, I asked Karen if she might consider sponsoring Chris in another 12 Step recovery program that she had been a part of, because Chris had been struggling finding someone to take him through the Steps for a good while. Thankfully, she agreed to and a wonderful connection has been formed between the two now. Even better is the fact that I’ve seen an incredible amount of spiritual growth in Chris ever since he began working with her. I don’t take that lightly one bit and am so very thankful that she has blessed not just my own recovery, but Chris’s as well.

With over 33 years of sobriety and recovery herself, and plenty of spiritual depth, Karen definitely demonstrates the 12th Step principle of helping others, not just as a sponsor for people like Chris, but also as a friend to people like me as well.

I’m grateful for Karen today and thank God that He brought her into my life for many positive reasons and look forward to her continuing to be a part of both my life and my partner’s…

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

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“The more you know yourself, the more you forgive yourself.” (Confucius)

Quote #2

“Once you forgive yourself, the self-rejection in your mind is over. Self-acceptance begins, and the self-love will grow so strong that you will finally accept yourself just the way you are. That’s the beginning of the free human. Forgiveness is the key.” (Don Miguel Ruiz)

Quote #3

“We all make mistakes, don’t we? But if you can’t forgive yourself, you’ll always be an exile in your own life.” (Curtis Sittenfeld)

Bonus Quote

“Although you should not erase your responsibility for the past, when you make the past your jailer, you destroy your future. It is such a great moment of liberation when you learn to forgive yourself, let the burden go, and walk out into a new path of promise and possibility.” (John O’Donohue)

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

A Punching Bag No More…

Have you ever allowed yourself to be a punching bag for your past mistakes because you felt like you deserved it? I ask this only in that I recently realized that I was doing just that with someone I care about, that I once hurt immensely over a period of several years, starting during the summer of 2007.

Back then, I had just left an almost seven-year relationship and was feeling deeply hurt, broken, and not wanting to be in touch with any of it. So, on a trip to visit some friends, I randomly met someone at a coffee shop who I found quite attractive and struck up a conversation with. That brief encounter ended up turning into a friendship that would involve sexual intimacy over the next five years. Even though I really liked this person, I remained non-committal, all because I was still deeply wounded from my previous relationship and had never taken the time to grieve or heal. Frankly, I was running from myself and sleeping around to stay numb. What I never fully grasped though through it all was that this person wanted more than just a friendship with benefits. But I was too self-absorbed and self-centered to see this or the pain I was causing them through my ongoing actions.

When I finally became aware of it, I entered a new 12 Step recovery program to start the healing process. Not too long after, I made amends to this friend and owned all the selfishness and self-seeking behavior I had engaged in that had wounded them again and again. Through that amends I came to see that I had always placed them second to my addiction. After listening to how much they had been hurt, I asked for their forgiveness and was given that. Unfortunately, that turned out to not be the case as the years passed.

I began to notice this when this friend was having a down day, as they occasionally would lash out at me. The first such occasion I remember quite vividly was when they began dating someone new. I was truly happy for them and when I asked one day how the new love interest was going, I was told the sexual intimacy they were sharing was far better than anything I had ever offered them. It stung, but I accepted it. Why? Because I felt like I deserved it. Every bit of my former ugliness still sat inside me and I was often disgusted at myself for what I did.

As time went on, I had hoped that those brief stinging words would only be an isolated incident. Sadly, they weren’t. I started receiving random comments from this friend that honestly felt like I had not been forgiven for any of my past mistakes with them. Yet, I continued to allow myself to accept it, all because I really did believe I deserved to feel all that pain I had caused them. When my friend’s health began to wane after being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, their comments in life would start to grow more negative, some of which would continue to be directed at me, where each felt like tiny hurtful missiles reminding me of how bad of a person I once was.

I eventually asked this friend if they could please fully forgive me because I didn’t deserve to keep being held to the person I once was and was told in response that it was hard for them to fully forget. Sadly, their occasional digs at me didn’t cease after that, but I kept on accepting them, even when I’d get unfriended and re-friended on Facebook more than once, when my calls didn’t get returned, and when I’d even occasionally be hung up on as well. For the life of me, this friend just wasn’t able to ever fully see how much I was trying to love them unconditionally and erase who I was in the past.

Repeatedly, I invited them over the years to come be a guest in our home, but they never took me up on the offer. I did my best to uplift them any time they were down, usually to no avail. I prayed regularly for them, often asking God to bring healing, forgiveness, and even a partner into their life, and was regularly told that they didn’t want anything to do with that God of my understanding. I’d shed many-a-tears along the way around this, but I kept on enduring, even when they personally attacked a number of my blogs, the one thing left I still found a little joy in doing.

And yet, I still stuck around, always telling myself over and over I deserved anything they sent my way. That was until just recently though when I realized through my therapist that I hadn’t fully forgiven myself for all the pain I had caused others and myself and that my continuing to accept this friend’s hurtful comments were a sign of that. So, when this friend sent me a text one afternoon that was most definitely loaded with negative energy, I opted for the first time to not respond. Shortly thereafter, I received a warning message that basically said there’d be consequences if I continued to avoid responding to them. Of course, I immediately fell back in line and responded to that with an apology, which in retrospect, I had nothing to apologize for.

A few weeks later, one of my closest friends passed away and as I began the grieving process, I found myself one evening on the phone with my best friend from Massachusetts discussing the details of his passing, when this friend called at a previously scheduled time. I quickly switched over and asked if I could call them back, which twelve minutes later I did, only to get their voicemail and a text message that said they were no longer going to be placed second in life. I was then unfriended again on Facebook, which for me, became the final straw. I messaged them and told them I no longer deserved to be held to my past and that I had done everything I could over the years to show them I was no longer that person. Deep down, I was sick and tired of being a punching bag and told them that when they finally decided to fully forgive me, I’d still be there for them with open arms and unconditional love.

And that’s where I am now with someone I do care about, but someone I also know who still holds on to the person I once was and not who I am now. I know the two of us could be great friends, yet that’s going to involve them fully forgiving me. Until they do, I know I must keep them at a loving arm’s length because I no longer wish to be a punching bag for them or anyone else for that matter. And ultimately, I’m ready to fully forgive myself for my past, because in all reality, I do deserve that.

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