Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another entry of Grateful Heart Monday, which for today is for a new show I’m watching, Bel-Air, on Peacock, a reboot of the original Fresh Prince of Bel-Air series, but a far more gritty and edgy version of it.

These days, reboots of old tv shows seem to be becoming more and more common. Shows like Dynasty, MacGyver, Magnum PI, Law & Order, and so many others have returned to varying degrees, some I’d consider decent reboots, while others I quickly lost interest in, remembering the older version as far more superior. Most recently, Peacock has brought back The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air thanks to a YouTube video of one person’s view of what the original show should have been more like. Rather than the show being a comedy like its predecessor, Bel-Air is more of an urban drama and one that really feels more real than the original ever did.

While my partner was a big fan of the original Fresh Prince series, I wasn’t. It was just too goofy and irritated me more than not, especially every time Carlton did that silly dance that became so popular back then. I generally quickly turned the channel every time the original show was on, and continue to do so even in its reruns, because it never felt accurate or real on any level to me.

There was a very brief period of my life where I did live on the inner-city streets of Poughkeepsie, learning much about a culture I didn’t grow up with. The premise of the original Fresh Prince show was about taking Will Smith out of the inner-city streets of Philadelphia when things got out of hand and sending him off to Bel-Air in California to his rich aunt and uncle’s place for safety. For many, that original series was one of the highlights of their upbringing, bringing them some much-needed laughter when it was on. But for me, it brought annoyance each time it was, because it didn’t portray any of what I saw in the friends or life I had during my brief inner-city days.  Honestly, it felt like it did a strong disservice to a culture I came to know.

In the new version of Fresh Prince though, more aptly titled Bel-Air to depict its originality, while the premise retains that initial theme of bringing Will Smith to a place of safety from inner-city trouble, there are subjects that are shown with much greater accuracy that the original never ever showed. Gang warfare, gun violence, drugs in high school, severe bullying, great family strife, and much more, Bel-Air is not a show for the light-hearted and looks nothing like the original, thankfully.

I’ve now watched almost half of the new season of Bel-Air and I find myself being drawn back into the life I once lived for that brief period each time the show is on. The main lead, Jabari Banks, as the young Will Smith is electrifying and very believable, as is Carlton (Olly Sholotan), who thankfully hasn’t done any silly dance in it as of yet.

Why I’m grateful for this show is simply because I feel that Hollywood often misrepresents cultures for the sake of gaining viewership. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air back in the 90’s had lots of viewers because it was goofy fun, but one I never felt connected to. The same can be said of a show like Modern Family that consistently type casted a gay couple as being overly flamboyant, something that annoys me incredibly because not all gay people are flamboyant.

I have grown weary of TV shows and movies that don’t represent what a culture is truly like, which is why I’m thankful on today’s Grateful Heart Monday for Bel-Air emerging this year with a fresh look and premise, one that feels far more real than its predecessor ever did…

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

Question For The Day

In light of a number of negative labels that have been placed on me lately by others, today’s question of the day is for all of us to think more positively about ourselves, so…

Describe yourself in three POSITIVE words…

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


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“Annoying, Pretentious, Judgmental”

It is said that resentment is the number one offender that leads many sober people to a relapse of their addiction, which is why I work diligently to remove any within me, and to seek the forgiveness of others if I discover I’ve harmed them somehow. So, when I learned not too long ago that a person I hadn’t spent time with for years didn’t want to come have a coffee with a mutual friend and I over potential tension, I made an attempt to connect with them to see if I had harmed them at some point in the past. Because I was totally unaware of anything I may have done to lead to such tension within them. When I finally got a response from them via text as to what the tension was all about, it wasn’t anything I had done at all. Rather, it was their opinion of me, and it was described in three words.

Annoying. Pretentious. Judgmental.

I was at dinner with a friend of mine when this text came through. And sadly, I let it ruin the rest of my meal because I continue to struggle owning what other people think of me, no matter how hard I try not to. I have worked so very hard to be a selfless person in my life and to erase the selfish nature of my past. I don’t think of myself as better than anyone else. I do my best to accept everyone as they are. And I try to keep my childlike sense of humor alive to keep going in a world I often feel less than in, especially when I find myself owning other’s negative opinions of me.

My only desire ever with this individual was to make amends if I had harmed them somehow, but ironically, one of the things I received in return from them was the very thing they were accusing me of being. Judgmental. But it shouldn’t matter what they thought of me. Their approval shouldn’t matter one bit. Except I can’t seem to shake this pattern of me owning what others think of me. So, I keep writing about it. I keep dealing with it in therapy. I keep trying to be a good person. Yet, I keep allowing myself to get struck down by others’ negative opinions of me again and again.

This individual like so many others who’ve had negative opinions of me in recent years have no idea the humility I’ve put myself through by being as transparent as I am through my writing and speaking on the life I’ve had. They don’t see the world I live in, one where I do my best to help so many, just to try to make a difference. But it shouldn’t matter they don’t see this. What should matter is what I will declare once more…

I AM A GOOD PERSON!

I AM A BEAUTIFUL SOUL!

AND I DO MATTER IN THIS WORLD!

I spent an entire childhood and most of my adulthood feeling completely the opposite of those statements. When I finally got right with myself and God and found true recovery from my toxic past, I began to find myself in the line of fire from so many who felt the opposite of those positive statements when they thought of me. And the more I listen to them, the more I find myself thinking about checking out like my parents did. Yet, I press on. I fight to live. And choose to end this by saying to this individual…

I love you and forgive you for your judgments of me. While you may not choose to see the beauty of my soul and all that I do every day to contribute to the love of this world, rather than take from it like I used to, all that matters is that God sees it. I just need to keep reminding myself of that…especially when the world around tries to tell me otherwise…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

A gorgeous blonde was driving in her car on the highway. Eventually, she crashed into the car in front of her. When a policeman arrived on the scene and approached her, he asked, “Ma’am, are you ok?” She responded, “I’m fine Officer. This all happened because no matter where I turned there was a tree in my way! I went left and there it was and I went right and there it was again!” The officer leaned over and said, “Ma’am that was your air freshener…”

Silly Joke #2

Pam was talking to her friend Allie over a coffee at their favorite cafe. “It seems as if I have spent a lifetime of mouthing mechanically, “Say thank you… Sit up straight… Use your napkin… Close your mouth when you chew… Don’t lean back in your chair…” And just when I finally got my husband squared away, my kids came along!!!

Silly Joke #3

There were two evil brothers. They were rich and used their money to keep their ways from the public eye. They even attended the same church and looked to be perfect Christians. Then, their pastor retired and a new one was hired. Not only could the new pastor see right through the brothers’ deception, but he also spoke well and true, and the church started to swell in numbers. A fundraising campaign was started to build a new assembly. All of a sudden, one of the brothers died. The remaining brother sought out the new pastor the day before the funeral and handed him a check for the amount needed to finish paying for the new building. “I have only one condition,” he said. “At his funeral, you must say my brother was a saint.” The pastor gave his word and deposited the check. The next day the funeral was held and the pastor did not hold back. “He was an evil man,” he said. “He cheated on his wife and abused his family.” After going on in this vein for a small time, he concluded with, “But, compared to his brother, he was a saint.”

Bonus Silly Joke

Two newlyweds were riding in the back of a limo on the way to their honeymoon boat cruise. The husband says, “Honey, I want to stop and pick up some condoms before we go.” “Good idea,” she says. “While you’re in there, pick me up some Dramamine (sea sickness medicine).” The groom gets out, walks into the drugstore and says to the gorgeous blonde clerk, “I’d like a box of condoms and a package of Dramamine, please.” “Yes sir, she says, “but do you mind if I ask you a question? If it makes you nauseous, why do you do it?”

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

What is the most expensive thing you ever bought that you wish you hadn’t?

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


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Daily Reflection

“For the love of money is the root of all evil. While coveting after money, some have strayed from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

When this article is published, the Superbowl will be long over, a new champion crowned, and life will have moved on from all the annual football hoopla for one more year. But, presently, as I write this, I’m sitting at my friend Mike’s house, waiting for the big game’s opening festivities, where I’ve just learned the cost of a barebones trip to actually see this year’s Superbowl in person was around $6000, which included the cost of a ticket, parking, and food!

$6000! Just to see a game! While I love watching the Superbowl on TV every year, and while I do have various teams I’ve supported over the years in football and other sports too, I can think of a million things these days I’d rather do with $6000 than spend it on a sporting event. Truly, I think if I even had won tickets to this year’s Superbowl, I would have sold them and used the money on something far more practical in my life. Yet, I know I wouldn’t have been able to say that earlier in my life.

How often I spent money on the dumbest of things in my life looking for happiness is countless at this point. Most of those superficial purchases generally ended with me asking myself why I had wasted my money on it. Probably the silliest of which came after my father died, where I bought a brand-new Acura Integra GSR to cope with his passing and had parts of it dipped in 14K gold! Yes, I really did that. (SMH!)

If there’s one thing I’ve absolutely learned in this life in the year I’m about to finally turn 50 is that money never brings about any long-lasting happiness. If anything, it has always created for me an itch that no amount of scratching was ever able to take away.

While I’m quite sure that some great memories were probably made for those who spent $6000 to see this year’s Superbowl, especially if their team ended up winning, in the end, it, like anything else one lavishly spends money on, only will create a drive for more. An endless search for one pleasure after another in this world, where that drive itself becomes far more important than anything else, where having faith, sharing unconditional love, and even caring about others becomes second to simply pleasing oneself…

Dear God, help me to always remember that all the physical pleasures of this world will never bring about true happiness, something I’ve seen has only ever come in seeking You and in serving others rather than myself. 

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

What is one daily healthy habit that you still do this day that your family taught you growing up? (ex. Brush your teeth regularly, eat a good breakfast, etc.)

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


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Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another entry in my Grateful Heart Monday series, where gratitude is the only expression of the day, which for today is for something that might sound a little odd, but it’s related to a very recent dental visit I had and a daily habit my mother brought me up with.

As a kid, my mother always made sure I brushed my teeth every single morning upon waking and at night before going to bed. I even had to blow air her way to show her my minty freshness to prove I had done my daily oral hygiene exercise, much to my irritation. In addition, she also often made me swish that original, brown-colored liquid Listerine in my mouth after proving I had brushed my teeth, which tasted oh, so, awful. Honestly, I hated doing both and never quite thought any of it was necessary. But, as an adult, it had become a well-established habit that grew to more of a daily obsession, especially when I started meeting plenty of alcoholics and addicts through my 12 Step recovery who had little to no teeth left and terrible breath. That’s when I truly began to feel appreciation for my mother’s upbringing with this daily habit.

These days, I tend to brush my teeth at least twice, and sometimes three times a day. I floss regularly after meals as well. And at the end of the night, I always use a whitening-based Listerine, which frankly tastes far better than the one I used as a kid! Considering that, I recently had my annual dental visit where they take that entire array of mouth x-rays and do the full cleaning as well. When the dentist came in at the end of my appointment, my heart was racing, as I always tend to worry I’m going to be receiving bad news given I do consume a daily sugary coffee. So yes, that idea of having a mouth full of cavities and possible root canals do occupy my headspace each time I find myself at my dental checkups.

In light of that, I’m grateful to report that the dentist, and even the hygienist, both reported nothing except flying colors for my oral hygiene. Even better was the blood pressure test they administered when my appointment began, as it was perfectly normal, something that frankly surprised me due to some high blood pressure issues I had a few months ago, that I now think was related stress and skipping my daily meditations.

Nevertheless, it always amazes me now when I meet someone who’s an adult that says they don’t brush regularly. That actually happened a few weeks ago when someone told me they brush infrequently and can go many days without doing so. They’ve already lost a number of teeth, which I’d think would motivate them to do the habit more regularly, but regardless, hearing this made me feel extremely grateful to my mother, who even in her alcoholism-based-state taught me some pretty darn good values to help me have a healthy oral hygiene as an adult and a full set of teeth.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me this good habit as a kid that got engrained in me well before my adulthood. I have a healthy oral hygiene today because of you and I dedicate today’s Grateful Heart Monday to you for having this good habit now and to my recent dentist visit that I passed with flying colors because of it.

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

Thought For The Day

Today’s quotes stem from yesterday’s article about an individual who lashed out at me and unleashed their anger during one of my 12 Step leads. The following quotes really helped me to work through that situation a lot.

“When others lash out at you in anger with words or actions, their battle is not with you but themselves.” (Abraham Hicks)

“You never know when someone is in crises. If someone ever lashes out at you in anger, consider where their angers comes from before responding. Often anger is a cover for fear or desperation.” (Dr. Linnaya Graf)

“If you carry around a lot of suppressed or repressed anger, you may lash out at people, blaming or punishing them for something someone else did a long time ago. Because you were unwilling or unable to express how you felt in the past, you may overreact in the present…” (Beverly Engel)

“The true mark of maturity is when somebody hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back.” (Unknown)

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

When Someone Lashed Out At Me During One Of My 12 Step Leads…

Sometimes I really think that the darkness of this world, or maybe even beyond this world, is always trying to find ways to snuff the light out in any way it can from those doing their best to bring light to others. I feel like I experienced this firsthand during one of my 12 Step presentations recently at a residential housing program for recovering alcoholics and addicts where my only purpose was to bring light to those there.

Whenever I do a 12 Step recovery lead, it’s typically for an hour, where I begin with my journey talking about the dysfunctional childhood I had with addicted parents. I next move on to discussing how I fell into addiction with alcohol and drugs. I move on from there talking about the many addictions I fell into after I found sobriety from them. And finally, I conclude by sharing the life of recovery I’ve been doing my best to live over the past decade. I was close to the end of one of these leads recently at one of the addiction programs I volunteer at here in Toledo, Ohio, when suddenly a voice cried out in the room in front of me this…

“I don’t like you man! You’re full of ego and arrogance. I don’t like you one bit! I think you’re full of sh$$!!!”

I’ve probably shared my personal testimony of addiction to recovery easily over 1000 times now and never once have had any outburst like that…ever. Truly, I was shocked, taken aback, and really didn’t know what to say.

Whenever I do 12 Step leads nowadays, it’s never about ego or arrogance. In fact, it’s the exact opposite, where I level any pride and ego and talk about how much I had to lose to gain my heart back and a more selfless nature. Sharing about the crazy upbringing I had with addiction, getting both molested and bullied along the way, watching both of my parents die by terrible tragedies of their own making, then losing most of the money they left me due to my selfish and addictive nature, I would never classify what I share in my leads as coming from ego or arrogance.

Thankfully, many of the 30-something people who remained after that outburst told me afterwards, they felt nothing of the sort and offered me reassurance of how much it helped them. But, by that point, I was deep in my head. Why? Because, I used to be a very prideful, arrogant, and egotistical individual, who couldn’t walk in a room because I lived with such a fat head, always thinking I was better than most. I tend to think the opposite these days, and find myself more than not, putting myself down, struggling to love myself unconditionally, mostly because I don’t have employment and continue to battle so many health issues.

Nevertheless, after this man’s outburst, I really did question myself, wondering why I was continuing to do this work, because being on the receiving end of something like that frankly sucked. Of course, my ego wanted to engage before that man had fully left the room. But all I said was I’m sorry he felt that way and that my story was truly one coming from humility. While I may battle from time to time with ego thinking I should be better off than I am, if there’s one thing I can say for sure about my 12 Step leads is that it most assuredly is a humbling, pride-leveling, action for me each time I stand in front of a group of strangers, sharing about how much I “f$$ked my life up” due to my seriously addictive nature.

In the end I became thankful for this man’s outburst, because I learned later that much of the PTSD I’ve worked through was the very same PTSD this individual continues to battle, falling into drug addiction to cope. I know that place oh so very well, and pray this man finds healing one day from it all in the 12 Steps and with a Higher Power’s help.

As for all the darkness that’s out there, you can say what you want about me, but truly, I am going to keep doing my 12 Step leads, as I do them from my heart and for God, and I know it’s helping others, even if you find one person to throw shade at me, trying to convince me otherwise…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

A native American went hunting one day in Oklahoma and bagged three ducks. He put them in the bed of his pickup truck and was about to drive home when he was confronted by a game warden who didn’t like American Indians. The game warden ordered to the Indian to show his hunting license, and the Indian pulled out a valid Oklahoma hunting license. The game warden looked at the license, then reached over and picked up one of the ducks, sniffed its butt, and said, “This duck ain’t from Oklahoma. This is a Kansas duck. You got a Kansas huntin’ license?” The Indian reached into his wallet and produced a Kansas hunting license. The game warden looked at it, then reached over and grabbed the second duck, sniffed its butt, and said, “This ain’t no Kansas duck. This duck’s from Arkansas. You got a Arkansas license?” The Indian reached into his wallet and produced an Arkansas hunting license. The warden then reached over and picked up the third duck, sniffed its butt, and said, “This ain’t no Arkansas duck. This here duck’s from South Carolina. You got a South Carolina huntin’ license?” Again the Indian reached into his wallet and brought out a South Carolina hunting license. The game warden was extremely frustrated at this point, and he yelled at the Indian, “Just where the hell are you from anyway?” The Indian turned around, bent over, dropped his pants, and said, “You tell me, expert…”

Silly Joke #2

A man and a little boy entered a barbershop together. After the man received the full treatment: shave, shampoo, manicure and haircut, he placed the boy in the chair. Then he said, “I’m going to buy a green tie to wear for the parade. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” When the boy’s haircut was completed and the man still hadn’t returned, the barber said, “Looks like your daddy’s forgotten all about you.” “That wasn’t my daddy,” said the boy. “He just walked up, took me by the hand and said, ‘Come on, son, we’re gonna get a free haircut’.”

Silly Joke #3

A cop stops a Harley for traveling faster than the posted speed limit, so he asks the biker his name. ‘Fred,’ he replies. ‘Fred what?’ the officer asks. ‘Just Fred,’ the man responds. The officer is in a good mood and says he’ll give the biker a break and just give him a warning if he can give a good reason for only having a first name. The biker responds, “I used to have a last name but lost it. It’s a long story, so stay with me. I was born Fred Johnson. I studied hard and got good grades. When I got older, I realized that I wanted to be a doctor. I went through college, medical school, internship, residency, and finally got my degree, so I was Fred Johnson, MD. After a while I got bored being a doctor, so I decided to go back to school. Dentistry was my dream! Got all the way through School, got my degree, so then I was Fred Johnson, MD, DDS.  Got bored doing dentistry, so I started fooling around with my assistant and she gave me VD, so now I was Fred Johnson, MD, DDS, with VD. Well, the ADA found out about the VD, so they took away my DDS.. Then I was Fred Johnson, MD, with VD. Then the AMA found out about the ADA taking away my DDS because of the VD, so they took away my MD leaving me as Fred Johnson with VD. Then the VD took away my Johnson, so now I am Just Fred.” The officer then walked back way laughing uncontrollably giving him the warning as promised…

Bonus Silly Joke (Adult Humor)

A couple are playing in the annual golf club championship. They are playing in a play off hole and it is down to a 6 inch putt that the wife has to make. She takes her stance and her husband can see her trembling. She putts and misses, they lose the match. On the way home in the car her husband is fuming, “I can’t believe you missed that putt! That putt was no longer than my ‘willy’.” The wife just looked over at her husband and smiled and said, “Maybe so dear, but it was much harder!”

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

What is one unhealthy habit/trait/behavior you picked up since the COVID pandemic began?

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


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A Very Alarming Recent Opioid Statistic…

I learned of a very alarming opioid statistic recently. It is estimated that 1.25 million years of life have been lost to drug overdoses amongst American teens and young adults based upon an average life expectancy of 78.8 years over the last two years.

While COVID itself has sadly taken many lives, the opioid crisis continues to grow exponentially yet remain relatively unseen to the masses. This pandemic has led to social isolation for so many, where addiction and mental illness have grown in the process. Much of the younger generations out there right now don’t know how to ask for help and continue to turn to things like drugs for answers.

In the year ending May of 2019, there were 374 reported overdose deaths in teens between 13 to 19. But in the year ending May of 2021, that number jumped to 1,365. That’s a very disturbing jump because if you do the math, it won’t be long before we begin to see overdose deaths amongst youths regularly being in the 10,000+ range.

While I do care about all the deaths related to COVID, I feel it’s my job to shed light on something that continues to get overlooked, especially since COVID began. I know I’ve written about this before but seeing this latest statistic of 1.25 million years of life lost to something that can be prevented, I’m deeply saddened.

How many family’s lives have been torn apart and shattered due to all these sudden deaths of so many children from opioid overdoses is countless by this point. Many often don’t even know their kids are struggling with an addiction to opioids until it’s too late. Fentanyl-addiction is the biggest culprit now for this and I face this every time I volunteer at a local detox.

No one seems to be talking anymore at these detoxes about alcohol addiction, or addiction to any other substances. It’s all fentanyl now. I’ve worked with enough teenagers to know, and most don’t know how to stop or have the support at home either. So much of the public health drug intervention gets focused on adults, when the reality is this addiction typically begins at adolescence, which by the time adulthood is reached, it’s extremely difficult to break, regardless of education.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones really. With all the mental, emotional, and physical pain I’ve gone through over the years since getting sober from alcohol and drugs, I know for a 100% fact that I would have been a fentanyl addict right now or probably dead from it if I hadn’t found sobriety when I did.

Opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths these days and fentanyl, a synthetic-based version, is the biggest source of them. It’s 100 times stronger than morphine and originally developed to treat intense pain from things like cancer but now can be found far too prevalently on the streets everywhere. Whenever I do my addiction-leads now, I ask how early people have been introduced to drugs like this. The age keeps getting younger and younger. The other day, one such person talked about being exposed to it when they were 10!

What COVID has done to this world may take a long time to repair, with kids needing that the most. All this isolation isn’t healthy as it can lead to profound feelings of emptiness and loneliness, which in turn can lead to picking up an addiction to cope. While on a spiritual journey, spending time alone can be beneficial, in general it’s not, especially when kids are coming from broken homes with unhealthy family dynamics, where opioids are often used for coping mechanisms in both kids and adults alike.

Look, I know COVID has led to so many painful deaths, but honestly, at some point it is going to go away, or at least become an annoyance like the flu, but this opioid pandemic isn’t. It continues to grow exponentially and to end it, it means bringing greater connection and love to the children in our world, to drawing closer together, especially during these isolating times.

Choosing to spend most of our lives on our phones, on the Internet, streaming long hours on TV, immersing oneself in games, away from the world in general, is only going to lead to kids turning more and more to things like drugs to cope. I pray that this world will wake up and realize that there are things growing worse the more we only focus on COVID. I hope more people will wake up to this and see it’s time to stop isolating and instead begin connecting a little more with each other again. You never know, you may be helping to save someone’s life from addiction just by loving them a little more…

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

If you were going to lose one of your senses, which of the following do you feel you would never want to live without?

  1. Ability to speak
  2. Ability to hear
  3. Ability to see
  4. Ability to touch
  5. Ability to taste
  6. Ability to smell

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


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Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to this week’s entry in my Grateful Heart Monday series, where I continue to focus on expressing a piece of gratitude from my life, which for today stems from having lost my voice for a few days recently that made me realize during it just how much I need to be thankful for it.

Just about a week ago now, I was going through some type of chest cold that began with a pretty serious hacking cough when I suddenly started my voice. It frankly hurt to talk and led to several days where I wasn’t able to speak much at all. During those few days where I found myself listening more than speaking, I had a moment of hypochondria-based panic where I imagined a life where my voice was gone for good, which honestly overwhelmed me immensely.

Sure, I know that I could learn sign language to communicate if that were to ever happen, but with most of the world not knowing that language, I know it would seriously limit my ability to connect with many other human beings like I currently do, something I very much enjoy doing in life presently. I am more of a people person than not and truly enjoy human interaction. I have often thought that if I could ever have one superpower, it would be the ability to communicate in every language of this world. So, even the thought of potentially losing my ability to speak brought up fear.

I use my voice regularly in my 12 Step speaking engagements. A week ago, I spoke to almost 30 people at a detox where quite a few approached me afterward telling me how much my story of addiction to recovery moved them and helped them. I was thankful for that and feel God has given me a strong ability to connect with other human beings through my voice, which is why I don’t take my gift of speaking lightly and have often expressed gratitude for even the ability to do public speaking, something far too many struggle with. But to do public speaking, of course that requires having a voice to start with, and that’s something I never really put much thought to until I mostly lost my voice.

I have much compassion these days for people who don’t have a voice, who are deaf or mute, especially more so now experiencing even a few days where I wasn’t able to communicate effectively. My voice is something I’ve come to rely upon a lot in my life and never really put much thought or gratitude for.

So, I am extremely thankful to God today for having a voice and for my loss of it only being temporary, temporary enough that I was able to reflect upon this and realize how grateful I should be for a part of me that is crucial to my 12 Step recovery presently and to the life I’ve been living.

Thank you, God, for my voice. It’s something I never put much thought toward, that is until I struggled to have one for a few days, which is why I dedicate today’s Grateful Heart Monday to a part of me that You gave me so gratuitously.

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

Were you ever bullied as a kid and if so, did it cause you any long-term negative effects?

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


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Bullying Isn’t Cool…Even If A Father Tells His Son It Is…

I had just got done with a workout in the gym the other day, had showered already, and was feeling pretty good. As I got dressed, I overheard a father in his late 30’s in the next row of lockers talking to his son who I’d guess was 12 or so. “I love these type of lockers…” said the father. “Why Dad?” asked his son. “Because it reminds me of those good old days when I was in high school and used to push kids up against them…” It was obvious as I listened to their conversation that this father was once a bully and prided himself in that, letting his son know in the process that what he did was cool and ok back then. And you know what…it’s not.

After this father’s conversation with his son ended, I came very close to walking over to their row of lockers to say, “You know…I was one of those kids who once got pushed up against lockers like this for my entire childhood, and it wasn’t cool then and still isn’t now!” I didn’t do that, because I didn’t want to create a scene, or embarrass the father in front of his son, but it made me sad for this kid who heard the message in that moment that his father’s bullying was ok.

The following are some recent bullying statistics.

One out of every five students between 12 and 18 years old (about 20%) have reported being bullied. Of those who reported it, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted. 13% were the subject of rumors. 5% were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on. And 5% were excluded from activities on purpose. What’s even more alarming than these statistics were the ones for tweens (9 to 12 years old). In that age group, almost 50 percent have said they experienced bullying at school or online. Overall, the reasons reported for all bullying were related to physical appearance, race/ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, or sexual orientation. In my case, it was always due to physical appearance, given I was a goofy, lanky-looking type of guy in my younger years who didn’t wear any type of fashionable trends whatsoever.

Nevertheless, the main effects of bullying consist of depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, constant fear at school, lowered academic achievement, and dropping out of school. Bullied students often struggled with self-esteem and develop a negative effect on how they feel about themselves, something I personally battled with greatly for years and sometimes still do to this day. For me, the most alarming concern I’ve ever had for those who are being is connected to their suicide risk, as suicidal ideations and attempts are often great amongst those who have been bullied immensely.

At the core of this toxic behavior are parents like this locker room father, who never learned the pain their actions once caused others. I am quite sure that there are probably adults out there who still have bad memories of this father when he was a kid. It’s what makes me frequently wish that those who once bullied would experience what it feels like to be on the other side of it.

Being bullied is why I don’t have any real fond memories of high school and don’t have any desire to go back to reunions. Most of my memories of my grammar school years are being picked on, pushed down, books knocked out of my hands, ears flicked, spitballs thrown my way, all while constantly being called a dork, geek, or loser. It took me a long time to overcome the majority of the effects of being bullied. Regrettably to get there I became a bully myself when addictions were in control of me. But thankfully, God eventually showed me the effects of what my bullying was doing to those I did it to, and the pain it caused them. It’s precisely what led me to stop the behavior once and for all and also to forgive those who did it to me.

What I’ve learned about bullying through much therapy is that the only reason why anyone does it is due to being deeply insecure about some part of themselves. Maybe it’s because the person they are bullying is someone who has something they want. Maybe it’s because they are attracted to them. Maybe it’s because they just want the focus taken off of them. Or maybe it’s because their parents are bullying them, and they feel the need to take that out on someone else.

Regardless of whatever the reason, bullying is toxic and continues to be a cancer upon this world. It stops when parents start teaching their kids that it’s wrong, instead of glorifying it, like in a locker room at my local gym, where a child learned the other day from his father that bullying was cool, when it isn’t, and never will be…

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

Silly Joke Friday

I hope you enjoy today’s Silly Joke Friday filled with all Little Johnny jokes, that mischievous young kid always getting into trouble and saying things that make everyone uncomfortable!!!

Silly Joke #1

Little Johnny was making his first visit to the hospital where his father was about to have an operation. As he waited with his Mom next to his bed while the Doctor began to prepare his Dad for the procedure, he asks the Doctor what is being put into his arm. The doctor explained, “Why that’s an anesthetic son. After your father gets this he won’t know a thing.” “Save your time, Doc!” exclaimed Little Johnny. “Mom always says, he doesn’t know nothing now!”

Silly Joke #2

A minister delivered his sermon in 10 minutes one Sunday morning, which was at least half the length of his usual sermons. He explained, “I regret to inform you that my dog, who is very fond of eating paper, ate a big portion of today’s sermon which I was unable to deliver because of it.” After the service, Little Johnny, who was visiting his Grandparents for the weekend, shook hands with the minister as they left and asked, “Reverend, if that dog of yours has any pups, is there any way I can have one to give as a gift to the minister of my church?”

Silly Joke #3

After church on Sunday morning, Little Johnny suddenly announced to his mother, “Mom, I’ve decided I’m going to be a minister when I grow up.” “That’s okay with us,” the mother said, “But what made you decide to be a minister?” “Well,” Little Johnny replied, “I’ll have to go to church on Sunday anyway, and I figure it will be more fun to always stand up, yell and talk for long periods, than to have to sit still, be quiet, and do nothing more than listen…”

Bonus Silly Joke

“It’s no use Mom. Art never listens to me,” said Little Johnny to his mother after praying for a new bike for the millionth time. “Art who?” asked Little Johnny’s mother. “You know Mom! You pray to him all the time too! Remember…our father, who is Art in heaven…hallowed be his name…? Geez Mom! Why are we even praying to this guy if you can’t even remember his name!” Little Johnny replied angrily.

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

What is one “Quick Fix” type of solution you’ve tried in your life that didn’t quite work out like you planned or hoped for?

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


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“Is There Another Solution To Sobriety And Recovery Outside The 12 Steps?”

It seems like every time I share my story now of addiction to recovery, I’m asked by some individual at their beginnings stage of finding sobriety or still deep in the throngs of addiction whether 12 Step recovery is the only solution to working through it. The only answer I have to that question which I know to be true is that it’s the only solution that has worked for me. Are there other solutions out there to becoming sober and living a healthy recovery life, free from toxic addictions? If there are, I never found them, but I sure did try many things to figure that out.

Therapy was my first, but it only got me so far and really was good so far as get my addiction out in the open with a safe individual to talk to. Then came joining a men’s organization, which helped me to become more accountable with my actions in life with others outside my therapist. But there too, it only took me so far on the path of sobriety and recovery. After that, I tried changing my lifestyle by living healthier with a variety of forms of holistic healing, including eating better, taking herbs, homeopathic remedies, and seeing plenty of natural practitioners. Yet that only took me so far too with my sobriety and recovery. As the years went on, I tried to live a more religious path, became a Deacon, immersed myself in religious studies, trying multiple spiritual paths, including Nichren Buddhism and chanting, only to keep falling into the throws of addiction in some form or another. When I discovered the power of meditation after going on a 10-day silent retreat, I thought I had finally found the answer to everything, to all my sickness that still lived deep within me that drove me constantly back into one type of addiction after another. While meditation worked for a while, it eventually didn’t like everything else. And working longer hours, volunteering greater, and even moving to places I thought would be more conducive to finding true sobriety and recovery didn’t work either. I truly tried so many ways to remain clean and sober and live a healthy recovery life, but none were ever successful in the long run.

One day, I finally realized why none of those paths ever worked. It was because I was always looking for the solution that could be implemented for a period of time to fix my addiction, where after implementing, I’d be done with it, and move on to other things. But that’s not how recovery from addiction works, especially 12 Step recovery. You see, 12 Step recovery works because it’s something one needs to implement every, single, day upon waking, where it’s then lived throughout the entire day into the next, one day a time, for the rest of one’s life. It’s not something one learns and graduates from, which is precisely the thing I kept looking for and never found.

The 12 Steps have taught me that I get a daily reprieve from my addictive behaviors by implementing them every day I wake up and carrying them through my entire day. They aren’t a temporary solution, and they aren’t a quick fix, something an addict is constantly looking for.

The 12 Steps ultimately led me to find a deeper relationship with not only myself, but also with my Higher Power. They truly helped me to see how I was always looking for one quick and easy fix after another to cure that addiction part of myself, when what was driving that search was always the addict in me. The 12 Steps removed what was driving that process and led me to be driven by something far Greater.

I thank God I found the 12 Steps of recovery and continue to live them out on a daily basis. Because the life I lived before them was one constant attempt after another to find some “instafix”. There is no “instafix” that ever worked for me, but the 12 Steps of recovery have, because what they led me to, was a solution far Deeper and far Higher than my addict-self ever found…

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is one I don’t expect anyone will answer publicly, but one I truly hope each of you will put serious thought towards…

Is there anyone in your world at the present moment that you once felt close to, that you now are resentful with and have refused to forgive? If you suddenly got a call where you learned this individual had abruptly died, would you feel any sadness over this? Has holding onto this resentment really benefitted you in any way, shape, or form? Is it time to forgive this person and free yourself of the burden, once and for all?

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


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Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday, where expressing gratitude kicks off my week in writing, which for today is for all those who have forgiving hearts, who are willing to do that hard work of freeing themselves from grudges and resentments and fully letting them go.

Holding onto resentments is probably one of the most toxic things a person can do on their spiritual journey in life. It benefits no one, especially themselves, something I came to know very well during the 12+ years I remained sober from alcohol and drugs but did little to change myself from the former life I lived of alcohol and drug addiction. During all those years, I harbored one grudge after another, looking at so many people, places, and things with total disdain, suffering immensely in the process. When I finally found the gift of the 12 Step recovery program and really worked it to the best of my ability, I learned how much the amends process that comes out of it is a gift not only for those I made amends with, but for myself as well. Forgiving others has brought out many blessings and healing to my heart and soul. It’s why I’m sad when others struggle to do the same with me, because it’s only making this world a darker place for both them and others.

When I recently made a serious attempt to connect with an individual who blocked me on Facebook many years ago, that had developed a resentment with me that I had no idea what it was ever about, they remained uninterested in working through whatever it was. This left me with that sadness I’m speaking of, because I know the freedom that comes through letting all those grudges and resentments go, no matter how big or small they are. Typically I’ve found that the people who struggle letting any of them go become very angry people in life, walking around in this world with an invisible dagger ready to strike at the slightest thing that doesn’t agree with them.

I truly have found such freedom in my life by not being this way. By learning how to have a forgiving heart and working diligently every single day to remain free of resentment, I have healed much of a heart and soul that felt pretty broken for plenty of years. This is exactly why I’m so thankful when others who’ve copped serious resentments with me have become willing to work through them and move beyond them. I have seen the gift it gives them when they’ve done so. There are several people in my life now who have done that very thing with me, who have moved beyond the anger they one held towards me and gotten to the core of what really matters, and that’s loving unconditionally.

So, I’m grateful today for having a forgiving heart and for all those who have the same as well, who don’t like to harbor grudges and resentments, and do the work regularly within themselves to let any of that go whenever it arises. The process of doing this daily not only frees oneself from living in bondage bound with so much anger, but also frees the world a little more from all the hatred that still consumes itself so greatly…

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

Thought For The Day

Always remember that you reap what you sow and karma always comes back around. That is the subject for today’s quotes and yesterday’s Daily Reflection.

“Life is an echo. What you send out, comes back. What you sow, you reap. What you give, you get. What you see in others, exists in you.” (Zig Ziglar)

“If you want kindness, be kind. If you want friends, be friendly. If you want help, be helpful. If you want love, be loving. If you want respect, respect yourself. You will most often get more of the things that matter in life by giving them first than you ever will by trying desperately to get them or asking for them.” (Zero Dean)

“Everything you do, everything you say, every choice you make, sooner or later comes back around.” (Rich Simmonds)

“Remember, what you do now will come back to you in the future. Life has a funny way of making yo deal with what you make others go through.” (Unknown)

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

Daily Reflection

“When you truly understand karma, then you realize you are responsible for everything in your life.” (Keanu Reeves)

“A man reaps what he sows…” (Galatians 6:7)

I was having a late breakfast in the early afternoon a few Saturday’s ago at The Original Pancake House here in Toledo, when suddenly a frantic waitress looked out a nearby window and yelled ‘I can’t believe they left without paying!’. I inquired on what happened only to discover that her party of two tables had left her with their $130 bill when no one was looking after over an hour’s worth of waiting on them. I felt sad for her and angry at the same time, but honestly trusted that everything would right itself eventually, because karma sure has a funny way of coming back to haunt a person. When I paid my bill and discussed the situation with the manager, I told her I was sorry to hear what happened but that I believed karma would fix itself through something like those people’s cars breaking down with a hefty repair bill. They chuckled. And why I felt comfortable saying that? Because I have most certainly learned a lot about reaping what I sowed in this life.

How many times I deliberately hurt another for self-gain is probably countless at this point in my life. But how many times those same things came back far more painful down the way is also countless. I firmly believe that all those years I was so selfish with the money I was given led directly to the loss of my former business and almost $700,000 of cash investments. I also firmly believe that the many health issues I’ve experienced over the past decade also correlate to how I treated others in the past. But, on a far smaller level, if one truly pays attention to how things work in this world when it comes to karma, it’s easy to see how things come back sometimes three-fold and more.

I clearly recall times when I bargained for this or that, “nickel and dimeing” my way through something, only to experience things like my own car breaking down or a major appliance going out shortly after. People often don’t see that correlation though because they are spending so much time living out of their ego trying to stay one step ahead of everyone else, often at other’s expense.

Nevertheless, all of this reminded me of the one time I deliberately did something similar in my younger years when I went bowling with a few hoodlum friends. At the end of our time at the alley, they all quickly jetted out without paying, telling me no one was going to get hurt doing so. I didn’t say anything because I was trying to act cool. But I went back later and paid the bill for all of us, because deep down in me I knew then like I firmly accept now within me, that profiting off another’s expense never pays in the long run.

I pray that all who try to profit off the expense of another will learn that what one reaps one sows, and that there is such a thing as karma… 

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

Research shows that men, on average, speak about 10,000 words per day, and women speak about 40,000. What the research doesn’t tell you is that it’s not that women are actually saying four times as much, they just have to repeat everything that many times because men don’t listen…

Silly Joke #2

One day, I found a strange-looking bottle and upon rubbing it, a genie appeared. The genie granted me one wish, so I immediately said without thinking, “I just want to be happy!” And now I’m living in a freaking tiny cottage with 6 other dwarves and working in a freaking mine of all things as well!

Silly Joke #3

After the christening of his baby brother little Mikey in church, little Johnny cried all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him what was wrong and finally, little Johnny said sobbing, “That priest said he wanted Mikey and I brought up in a good Christian home, and I really want to still stay with you guys!”

Bonus Silly Joke

The Sunday school teacher was carefully explaining the story of Elijah the Prophet and the false prophets of Baal. She explained how Elijah built the altar, put wood upon it, cut the steer in pieces and laid it upon the altar, and how Elijah commanded the people of God to fill four barrels of water and pour it over the altar and do this four times.”Now, said the teacher, “Does anyone in the class know why the Lord wanted Elijah to pour that water over the steer?” Little Johnny in the back of the room raised his hand with great enthusiasm. “To make the gravy!!!” came his enthusiastic reply.

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

If you could bring one person back from the dead to spend one entire week with you, someone you knew or anyone throughout history, who would it be?

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


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When A Friend Dies And You Don’t Have Anything Good To Remember About Them Due To Their Addiction…

I lost a college friend recently who was only 48 years old. I discovered this when his ex-wife contacted me via Facebook messenger to let me know. When she asked me if I could maybe send her a few comments about good things I remember from his life, I spent days struggling with the task, because in all honesty, I never developed a close connection with this friend due to his incessant search for sex and love that consumed him from one woman to the next.

When I eventually spoke with my friend’s ex-wife over the phone, I was truthful with her about this and apologized for not having anything positive to say about him. I told her that her ex struggled with his addiction to women, but she let me know she already knew that.

My friend would move from one state to another, one city to the next, and from town to town, consistently believing that each woman that led him there was “the one” for him. In the pursuance of this, he abandoned his son, friends like me, and all his loved ones, which at times made me very angry.

People often forget that sex and love can be addictive, and my friend denied he ever had this addiction like most people do when confronted about it. But when one’s life becomes dependent on finding that “one”, when life becomes a blur of one sexual escapade after another, when friendships and family and children get thrown to the wayside in the pursuance of sex and love, and when the only thing that becomes important is the search itself for sex and love via the Internet or in various other places, it’s a good sign that it’s become an addiction for the person.

My friend was a constant reminder of that for me, because I struggled with this addiction for as long as he did, until I woke up one day and saw the mirror in him. Thankfully, I finally addressed this addiction and found recovery for it, which has led me to have a 10-year monogamous relationship now, as well as freedom from pornography and a number of other toxic sexual behaviors as well. My friend never found that, even after I tried many times to get him to see how much his pursuance of sex and love was consuming him.

The thing I have the greatest sadness for now that he’s gone is not for the loss itself, it’s for his son who will grow up never having developed a close relationship to his father, something I know quite well given my father suffered from this addiction too. When my dad left my mother at the end of my senior year of high school for another woman, I never would live with him again under the same roof or feel incredibly close to him either. In light of that, my mourning for my friend’s son is because I know what comes next for someone who experiences this and that’s a struggle to ever develop close male connections and be open with deep emotions in general.

Nevertheless, my friend didn’t get to know the true me either like he didn’t with his son. Most, if not all of our conversations, were always about him and his desires and plans and the like, about women and money, and all the grandiosity that came from living in his addiction. Yet I never saw my friend find any real happiness, peace, love, or joy in any of the relationships he landed in, as he constantly found fault in each of them. That’s what happens when addiction consumes the soul.

I’m thankful I’m sober from sex and love addiction and have a long-term monogamous relationship to speak of because of it. I’m sad my friend never found this and that we never got to know each other deeply either, as I believe below his addiction and self-centeredness surrounding it, was an amazing soul, completely worthy and capable of giving and receiving unconditional love.

What I’ve come to know through his death and so many others from this addiction or any addiction is this. For as long as any addiction consumes an individual, the only sure thing that will come from it by continuing to pursue it with all of oneself is sure death. But finding true sobriety and recovery can and will ultimately lead to deeper connections, more loving friendships and relationships, and a much brighter life.

Thanks be to God for my still being on the path of sobriety and recovery. May my friend who never found it rest in peace now and may all those who continue to suffer from sex and love addiction, or any addiction, find sobriety and recovery from them before it’s too late. Because one day your luck with any addiction will run out, like it did with my friend, someone I really never got to know and wish I had…

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

Thought For The Day

Today’s quotes are ones that deal with 12 Step recovery and many of the things I’ve learned in sobriety from former addiction by working the 12 Steps and continuing to work them, one day at a time, hopefully for the rest of my life…

“When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and all the sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite. That’s when the sparkle started for me.” (Mary Karr)

“Being in recovery has given me everything of value that I have in my life. Integrity, honesty, fearlessness, faith, a relationship with God, and most of all gratitude. It’s given me a beautiful family and an amazing career. I’m under no illusions where I would be without the gift of alcoholism and the chance to recover from it.”

“Addiction is giving up everything for one thing. Recovery is giving up one thing for everything.” (Anonymous)

“The first three steps taught me how to give up. Four, Five, and Six taught me how to own up. Seven, Eight, and Nine taught me how to make up. Ten, Eleven and Twelve taught me how to grow up.” (Anonymous)

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