Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday, where expressing a slice of gratitude remains the sole focus of my writing at the start of each week, which for today is for all the people who know and do their best to practice the art of holding space, which I tend to believe is the best form of support for those who’ve been going through pain and suffering for a long time in life. And for all those as well who responded with love to a posting I placed on Facebook a few weeks ago that dealt with this very thing, which was written as follows:

“Sometimes what your friends really need the most ISN’T advice, or suggestions, or reminding you there are people out there far worse, or telling you to focus on the gratitude in your life. Sometimes what you friends really need the most IS to know they aren’t alone in a world that often feels alone to them, which isn’t being codependent or needy, it’s simply being unconditionally loving, something this world is lacking in greatly right now in my humble opinion…” 

I’ve come to witness over the many years I’ve been going through a life that isn’t a pleasurable one whatsoever that most don’t know how to be there for someone like me, someone truly struggling with life circumstances out of their control no matter how much effort is placed into trying to change them. Most people think that offering advice, suggestions, reminding you of others suffering far worse, or telling you to focus more on gratitude is going to help and maybe even cheer the suffering person up somehow. The only person who’s typically cheered up by saying such things though is the one offering it, because the person receiving it tends to have already had plenty of that thrown their way for a very long time, most of which never having helped change any of their circumstances.

This is why I’m very thankful for the few who practice the art of holding space. The basic definition of this technique is to be present with someone, without judgment. It means you donate your ears and heart without wanting anything in return. It involves practicing empathy and compassion. You accept someone’s truths, no matter what they may be, and put your needs and opinions aside, allowing someone to just be. And most don’t know how to do this. Rather, they lean towards trying to fix or solve the crisis in front of them that is their friend.

I am so thankful to have a few people in my life who don’t try to fix me because I’m not broken, I’m hurting. And when I hurt to the level I do on most days, the last thing I need from someone who says they are my friend is their advice, judgments, reminders of others suffering worse, or told to be more grateful. Even worse is when someone just tells me to suck it up and get over it. None of this is ever helpful because none of it ever helps me to feel truly loved and supported.

People tend to think that they can somehow alter a person’s suffering by offering some form of advice, except it’s really nothing more than a judgment. Yet there are those who have discovered this art of holding space and the benefit it brings to those deep in despair. Many of them have become excellent nurses, counselors, and helpers in things like hospice care. My therapist in Toledo is an excellent holder of space for me and has made room for me to fall apart in her office without advice or judgment countless times. I’m sure some of you reading this carry this gift as well and it’s a priceless gift when offered to people like me, who are suffering immensely.

And as I said in my Facebook musing, holding space for someone isn’t being needy or codependent, it’s simply being unconditionally loving, and sometimes that’s as simple as just listening to a person and letting them know you care by NOT responding with some piece of advice or judgement when they’re done and instead offering a hug and saying, “I love you and do care.”

So, for those who appreciated my little Facebook blurb on this subject, and those who do their best to hold space for others who have been long in pain and suffering, I am truly grateful for each of you and dedicate today’s Grateful Heart Monday to all of you. Because when I’m in the lowest of lows, which seems to be quite a bit these days, it’s each of you that has helped me to keep going for one more day, something that advice-givers, tough-love offerers, and those who think I should just suck it up, accomplish the exact opposite, leading me only into greater despair and away from having any heart connection with them.

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

Thought For The Day

Sometimes there are no answers to much of what life brings us and the only solution is to live in the “I don’t know”, a topic I wrote about in yesterday’s article and found the following quotes for today that support much of how I’ve been feeling in life as of late…

“Lately, I feel like my life is a book written in a language I don’t know how to read.” (Brandon Sanderson)

“Do you ever get in an ‘I don’t know’ phase in your life? Where you literally don’t have a solid answer to anything. You. Just. Don’t. Know.” (The Minds Journal)

“Stop thinking too much, it’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it.” (Unknown)

I don’t know how to save the world. I don’t have the answers or The Answer. I hold no secret knowledge as to how to fix the mistakes of generations past and present. I only know that without compassion and respect for all of Earth’s inhabitants, none of us will survive – nor will we deserve to.” (Leonard Peltier)

Jesus replied, ‘You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will…” (John 13:7)

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

Living In The “I Don’t Know”…

I was talking to my Massachusetts friend Caryn recently and asked her how she handles everything going on in her life, including her long gestating health issues and dealing with all the madness of the world around her these days, and her answer was one I didn’t expect. She responded with three words, “I don’t know.” When I asked for further clarification, she said she just stopped trying to figure everything out and has taken a step back, letting everything happen however it does without trying to make sense of any of it. After our call ended, I found myself thinking that maybe I need to start living more in the “I don’t know” as well.

Living in the “I don’t know” is quite possibly the only way I can continue functioning with how out of control my life tends to feel these days, a world I’ve often tried to find definite answers to what generally seems to remain indefinite with no answers provided, something that’s become so extremely frustrating and futile feeling.

There are so many things I’ve prayed about, strived for, sought after, placed energy towards, envisioned, channeled, and the like, all to no avail. It’s like the Universe has put up a major roadblock to providing me any further answers to life in general. And the more I’ve tried to figure any of it out, to place structure to what feels so dam unstructured in my entire life, has left me feeling much, much worse. So I began using my friend’s three words to answer the many questions I have found myself losing my mind over lately trying to find answers for…

Am I ever meant to get healthy? I don’t know.
Am I ever meant to work again? I don’t know.
Is this relationship right for me anymore? I don’t know.
Is my Higher Power even around? I don’t know.
Is God even real? I don’t know.
Why does everyone seem so angry now? I don’t know.
Why can’t I cultivate any close friendships any longer? I don’t know.
Am I even on the path I’m meant to be on? I don’t know.

I’m sure this list could be ad infinitum honestly, yet somehow it feels far more reassuring to provide this answer to them, even if the answer really isn’t an answer, as what it does offer is a path to letting go of trying to figure any of it out anymore.

So, I’m working now on no longer trying to quantify the unquantifiable by answering all of those questions constantly clanging around inside my brain by simply responding to them with my friend Caryn’s three words of “I don’t know”. Maybe in doing so, I’ll experience a greater sense of peace than I presently have. Peace that usually comes far more by letting go of control and letting things happen in the Universe’s own unique ways and timing, and far less when I constantly try to figure it all out myself…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

A man is driving down a country road, when he spots a beautiful blond just standing in the middle of nowhere in a huge field of grass. He pulls the car over to the side of the road to see if she needs help. “Hello, are you ok? Do you need some assistance?” The beautiful blond replies, “I’m fine, this is actually the edge of my husband’s property, he’s a farmer. And I’m trying to win a Nobel Prize today.” “What? How?” asks the man, puzzled. “Well I heard the Nobel Prize is usually given to people who are out standing in their field.”

Silly Joke #2

When Jack died, his lawyer was standing before the family and reading his last will and testament: “To my dear wife Esther, I leave the house, 50 acres of land, and one million dollars. To my son Barry, I leave my big Lexus and the Jaguar. To my daughter Suzy, I leave my yacht and $250,000. And to my brother Jeff, who always annoyed me by insisting that improving your health is far better than having a ton of wealth, I leave my sun lamp.”

Silly Joke #3

One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy, Little Johnny, a boy who always said the most inappropriate of things, into bed. She was about to turn off the light when Little Johnny asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, will you sleep next to me tonight?” The mother had been trying to wean Johnny off from relying on her to sleep next to him so she responded, “Not tonight honey, I need to sleep in Daddy’s room ok?” Little Johnny replied angrily, “The big sissy!”

Bonus Silly Joke

Little Johnny was now grown up and actually got a scholarship to Harvard. During his first week on campus, he was still learning to get around the place and was trying to find the library to meet up with a study group. While wandering around, he sees an older, distinguished-looking professor walking by and asks him for directions. “Excuse me,” he asks, “do you know where the library is at?” The professor stops, looks at him, and scoffs, “Son, at Harvard one would never end any sentence with a preposition…”. “Ok. Fine. Do you know where the library is at, asshole?”

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

Thought For The Day

Today’s Thought For The Day follow up my article yesterday on how I’ve been finding it very hard to smile anymore. I thought today’s quotes really sum up quite nicely the perspective I was seeking through my writing on the subject…

“Making one person smile through an act of unconditional love can change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world.” (John Spence)

“If someone is too tired to give you a smile, leave one of your own, because no one needs a smile as much as those who have none to give.” (Samson Hirsch)

“Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness of people.” (Roy T. Bennett)

“Sometimes the simplest of gestures, the smallest of compliments, or just knowing that someone is thinking about you and cares about you can be enough to make you genuinely smile when you most need it.” (Andrew Arthur Dawson)

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

I’m Finding It Hard To Smile Anymore…

People often tell me to smile, sometimes in response to the photos I post on Facebook, where my face is doing anything but smiling. But life isn’t always full of smiles and today’s entry is about why I’m finding it hard to smile anymore.

At my deepest core, I’m not in a good place and haven’t been for a long while. My faith in God has waned so much now that I often find myself struggling to keep believing. I still try my best though to do so and often put a false smile on my face “faking it till I make it”, something I learned through my 12 Step recovery long ago to do when life hits you hard. But life has been hitting me hard for many years now, with countless days in a row battling constantly changing chronic pain and varying health issues that remain unexplained, no matter how much effort I put into either trying to change my circumstances or accept them.

There are some who think I choose to live in misery and are even right now probably judging me because of these very words I write. Some have gone so far as to say that all my pain and suffering is because I’m living in sin with being in a same sex relationship. Some say it’s my thorn or cross to bear in God’s glory. And some say I simply haven’t tried hard enough, done enough, or put myself out there enough for it to ever get better. Everyone seems to have an opinion about my long pain and suffering, all of which makes it even harder to smile.

I feel very lonely now on most days, even in crowded places, even in groups of people I know, and even in meetings I regularly attend. I cry on most mornings when I awake and no, they aren’t tears from serotonin imbalances or clinical depressions, they are tears from living in the chronic pain and suffering I have, for as long as I have, and for the incessant loneliness that comes along with it. Loneliness that gets even stronger each time people tell me to just suck it up, to just get over it, or remind me of all the people in the world who are suffering far worse than I am. Look, it’s hard to smile anymore when what I hear on most days are judgements of why people think I’m suffering as much as I am, instead of receiving the thing I need the most to smile, that being acts of compassion, understanding, or loving human touch.

Seeing so many wonderful souls die abruptly in recent years due to COVID, overdoses, and plenty of other diseases and tragedies, I often find myself questioning why the Universe has kept me alive and took them away. I frequently find myself wishing I could have changed places with them as they smiled far more in their lives than I have for years and from what I saw in their lives made far more of a positive impact on this planet than I ever have. So yes, I’m finding it hard to smile anymore.

Until you deal with health issues that bring you chronic pain every, single, day, for years and years and years, having done the very best you can to seek out answers and getting none, all while exhausting yourself in the process, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, and avoiding ALL mind-altering substances and medications along the way due to former addictive behaviors, feeling every bit of the pain without anything to numb yourself from it, you will never, ever, understand why it becomes so hard to smile.

So, the next time you see someone not smiling and feel that urge to tell them they should do so, will you please try offering them an act of compassion, understanding, or loving human touch instead? Because maybe, just maybe in doing so, that smile you wish to see may very well emerge on their face in the process, arising solely from their heart and soul as it receives your token of unconditional love, something that no amount of advice, suggestions, opinions, or simply telling someone to smile, can or ever will bring forth genuinely…

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

Thought For The Day

Today’s quotes are dedicated to all those out there that I expressed gratitude for in yesterday’s Grateful Heart Monday, who always look for the positive and good in others, rather than focusing in on the negative and bad…

“When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself.” (Unknown)

“We experience God to the extend to which we love, forgive, and focus on the good in others and ourselves.” (Marianne Williamson)

“People say, find good people and leave the bad ones. But I say, find the good in people and ignore the bad in them. Because no one is perfect. (Unknown)

“If you let your friends, colleagues, and family know about the good that you see in them, it will help them to eventually see it for themselves too…” (Andrew Arthur Dawson)

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another entry for my Grateful Heart Monday series on my blog, TheTwelfthStep, where gratitude remains the sole focus of my writing at the start of every week, which for today is for all those who carry the trait of believing everyone is filled with good and focus first on the positive traits they see in others, rather than the negative.

It’s so easy to focus on the negative traits we see in others, and when that is done repeatedly, it becomes harder and harder to ever see any positive or any good in an individual. I inherently believe that everyone is filled with positive and good traits and that somewhere along the line the downsides of life begin to cause us to fall away from emanating that. But, even when this happens, I tend to feel that there is always positive and good in even the angriest and most resentful of souls and I most certainly work hard to find that, praising people for even the smallest of positive qualities, rather than choosing to point out any glaring negative traits.

There are many out there who continue to point out my negative traits, refusing to see that there is any good in me. While I do have number of negative traits I’m still working on healing, there is plenty of good in me today, far more than when I was an active addict. But there are those who believe I’ll never be a good person and will always be that addict they once knew and continue to point out every time I make a mistake, rather than focus on any of my positive actions and good qualities within me. While I inherently know those who do this are blinded by their own negative energies they haven’t released within and choose to see those negative traits within me instead, I’m thankful for those who do the exact opposite and remind me of the good they see in me, especially on those days when I’m really down.

I am thankful as well for those who do this regularly with others, who go through their days complimenting people, praising individuals, lifting them up, even those who might be considered by the masses to be people to avoid due to their negative energy. One thing I’ve always loved about Christ’s story was how he helped those that no one else wanted to and that no one else believed was worth saving. If it wasn’t for a few individuals in this world who always saw the good in me and focused on my positive traits, I probably would still be deep into addict behavior. It’s why I now return the favor, always on the lookout for the positive and good in even the most difficult of people I come across, even those who often yell first and express judgment and anger more than not. Because even they have plenty of positive and good in them, it’s just buried, yet my quest is to find it and shed more light onto it, just like others have done with me over the years.

Always looking for the positive and good in each other, I believe this is a strong spiritual trait to have, and one I feel represents a true Christ love and the message Christ did his best to portray throughout his life. It’s a trait I seek to exude myself every day, and while I often find myself coming up short in that task, as I’m sure many of us do, I’m thankful and dedicate today’s Grateful Heart Monday for all of us who keep trying, who keep doing our best to focus on the good in others and not the bad, and on the positive rather than the negative. We all have positive and good in us, we just need to take a moment to find it, as it’s always there…

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

Thought For The Day

The subject of today’s quotes is that of anger, a feeling that often is portrayed outward by many, but one that only arises from within…

“The smarter you get, the more you realize anger is not worth it.” (Maxime Legace)

“The greatest remedy for anger is delay.” (Seneca)

“Anger is inside you, revealed by an outside source.” (Henry R. Brandt)

“Your anger is unreasonable and unfair. Let it stay that way. Trying to make it seem reasonable, which usually consists of trying to make the resented person wrong, is the source of all the judgments and explanations that remove you further from the person and further from your experience of the sensations that arose in your body.” (Brad Blanton)

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” (Mark Twain)

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

The Growing Anger Problem On Our Planet…

Is anger growing on our planet? Or is it just me? I normally am not an angry person myself, but honestly, it feels like there is a growing energy of people on edge, ready to blow at the slightest thing that irritates them and I’m really struggling with that, as I’m extremely sensitive to it all.

Growing up with anger present more than not in my family household, I cringe when anyone these days is yelling or raising their voice or releasing anger in some way. Case in point, I was on the highway the other day driving 62 in a 60-speed limit in the middle lane when suddenly an 18-wheeler to my right laid on their horn for more than 2 minutes at me because I was going too slow in their opinion. It definitely rattled my chain quite a bit. This incident is so symbolic of how I see our world is becoming. where more and more people would rather be angry than not.

Our world resembles so much like one of those old kettles on the stove now, one that keeps reaching that boiling point where it emanates that loud scream-like noise each time it does, which roughly translates to one terrible tragedy after another, one we keep seeing in the news that’s violent in nature. Heck, it’s become a regular thing on my street these days to hear people ragefully screaming from within their own homes at another, especially late at night.

Why are people so angry? Is it because of the state of our world? The state of our country? The state of this pandemic and other growing diseases? The state of our economy? The state of our financial status? Or….is it simply due to the state within each of us? Maybe the real reason why there is so much anger right now is that all the stuff so many of us have kept suppressed for years, if not for our lifetime, is finally surfacing, forcing us to face it? Unfortunately, many are still trying to avoid doing that by choosing either addiction or lashing out in anger at another to deal with it each time it arises.

I’ve come to learn in my own spiritual journey that when I’m angry, it’s never about someone else, even if there is some event that seems to trigger that feeling within me. It’s ALWAYS about me. ALWAYS. But sometimes I don’t see it right away and instead regrettably end up taking it out on another, hurting them in the process, only furthering this anger problem on our planet.

The anger in our world will never go away until we address all the anger going on within us and find its true source. Unfortunately, most are prone to believe their anger is the fault of another. I can promise you that even if everything actually went out way, every single day, and even if everything we think should be happening in the way we want, actually did happen in that way, we still are going to remain angry people until we address all our unresolved issues, traumas, wounds, past pains, and the like. And just because they are in the past doesn’t mean they are truly gone. Just because you may not feel angry at some past negative part of your life right now, doesn’t mean its fully healed either. A great example of this was someone lashing out in anger at me recently when they thought I was using them, when I wasn’t. While my actions might have seemed like I was from their perspective, I honestly believe it was simply a triggering event from them allowing themselves to be used many times in the past by others.

Nevertheless, whenever I’m feeling angry, there is only one solution I’ve found to dispel it, and that’s not to take it out on another, as doing so only leaves me feeling guilty and still angry, often at myself in the process. The solution is prayer, even if I don’t know the true purpose and efficacy of it, given how many prayers often seem to go unanswered in this world. Because whenever I’m angry and choose to pray, once I find my heart during it, where tears flow from my eyes, the anger always leaves me, leaving behind a cooled down kettle, and a person far more open to unconditional love and understanding.

Look, our world is a ticking time bomb right now, and the explosions only seem to be getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I hope for the sake of each of us, that we stop blaming others for any anger that arises within ourselves and instead start taking a hard look at why we’re getting angry in the first place. When we stop lashing our anger outward and instead start addressing the source of it within us, our world will become one more filled with peace than volatility, as we become one more at peace with ourselves and everyone around us…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

A kindergarten teacher was talking to the children seated on the floor around her. She removed her glasses to clean them as she continued to talk. “Wow, Miss Collins!” one child exclaimed. “You look really young without your glasses on!” Then mischievous Little Johnny blurted out, “Yeah, I bet that’s not the case when she takes her teeth out at night!”

Silly Joke #2

A beautiful blond young woman from the farm country had never gone to the big city before finally decides to go and checks in to a nice hotel downtown. The hotel clerk reminds her during check-in of the time for meals at their restaurant. “Breakfast is served from 7 to 11, lunch from 12 to 3, and supper from 6 to 8,” explained the clerk. “Look here!,” said the country blond, “When am I ever going to get time to see the city if I’m at the hotel eating all the time?!”

Silly Joke 3

A wealthy man had an affair with a beautiful single Italian woman for several months. One night, during one of their rendezvous, she confided in him that she had become pregnant. Not wanting to ruin his reputation or his marriage, he paid her a large sum of money if she would remain in Italy to secretly have their child. If she stayed in Italy to raise their child, he also said he would provide abundant child support until the child turned 18. She agreed to his conditions, but asked how he would know when the baby was born. To keep it discreet, he told her simply to mail him a post card, and write “Spaghetti” on the back. He would then arrange for the child support payments to begin. One day, about 9 months later, he came home to a confused wife. “Honey,” she said, “you received a very odd post card today.”  “Oh, let me have a look…” he said. The wife gave him the card, and he read it aloud, “Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti. Two with meatballs, one without!” and then fainted.

Bonus Silly Joke (Adult Humor)

Sherry lost her husband almost four years ago and still hasn’t gotten out of her mourning stage. Her daughter constantly urges her to get back into the dating world. Finally, Sherry says she’ll go out, but doesn’t know anyone. Her daughter immediately replies, “Mama! I have someone for you to meet.” Well, it’s an immediate hit. They really like one another and after dating for six weeks, he asks her to join him for a weekend in the mountains. Their first night there, she undresses as he does. There she stands nude except for a pair of black lacy panties, he in his birthday suit. Looking at her he asks, “Why the black panties?” She replies, “My breasts you can fondle, my body is yours to explore, but down there I am still in mourning.” Obviously, he knows he’s not getting lucky that night. The following night the same scenario. She’s standing there with the black panties on, and he is in his birthday suit…except… this time he has a black prophylactic over his manhood. She looks at him and asks, “What’s with the…uh…black prophylactic?” He replies, “I’d like to offer my deepest condolences.”

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

Thought For The Day

Today’s quotes are ones that I hesitated on including, mostly because every time I post things that deal with acceptance of the LGBTQ community, I get judged, unfriended, blocked, or worse. But, I opted to be brave and share today’s quotes as I found them supportive for those who are members of or show support for the LGBTQ community.

“Black doesn’t mean dangerous, white doesn’t mean trash, brown doesn’t mean smuggler, muslim doesn’t mean terrorist, woman doesn’t mean weak, and LGBTQ doesn’t mean sick. These are the fundamentals that we must realize if we are to build a just and humane society.” (Abhijit Naskar)

“Everybody’s journey is individual. If you fall in love with a man, you fall in love with a man. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.” (James Baldwin)

“Homophobia whether internalized or externalized is really fear; it’s not hatred, it’s fear. It’s fear of the truth about ourselves.” (Andrew Sullivan)

“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.” (Coretta Scot King)

“What’s unnatural is homophobia. Homo Sapiens is the only species in all of nature that responds with hate to homosexuality.” (Alex Sanchez)  

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

My Biggest Concern With This Monkeypox Virus Is Who It’s Going To Be Blamed Upon…

“WHO chief says monkeypox now a global emergency.” That was the first headline I read when I quickly glanced at the news the other day, which I rather regret now doing that. I don’t normally delve deep in the news anymore because it’s become so depressing these days. But, I did, and what I read in that article was deeply disturbing, not so much for the growing outbreak itself with this disease, but more so on what it’s being blamed upon.

In a study of 699 cases of it, the British Health Security Agency has claimed that 97% of them labeled themselves as gay, bisexual, or men having sex with other men. A number of other articles were reporting on the same statistic as well the more I looked into it, and while it wasn’t being labeled it yet, I worry it’s just a matter of time before this turns into being considered another “gay disease” by many.

Long ago before HIV became known as AIDS, the disease was known as “GRID”, or “Gay-Related Immune Deficiency” because most cases being reported early on were happening between men having sex with other men. That was a very tumultuous time for anyone who was openly gay or bi-sexual, as they became the sole source of the blame for the rapid outbreak and spread of a disease most didn’t fully understand yet.

While I was very young when AIDS was first being referred to as GRID, I eventually came to know many years later that many from the LGBTQ community who went through this period would experience a lot of hatred towards them. Most felt like lepers in society, especially if they came down with the disease. People also became afraid to touch any gay person, let alone go near them. There were plenty of hate crimes during that time period targeting the gay community because of the fear of this disease, which honestly really feels no different than how many Asians have been treated over the last few years due to the outbreak of COVID having originated in Wuhan, China. Sadly, people often place blame onto specific groups of people when tragic events occur that are out of their control and make them afraid. Blame that also becomes easier when the news and media, and even our very entertainment glamorizes it.

Case in point, I recently opted to watch the first episode of the new Queer as Folk reboot on the Peacock streaming channel. This show is based upon two predecessors, one English-based and one US-based, both having aired well over two decades ago now. Personally, the original versions helped me to immensely accept my sexuality and learn much about the LGBTQ community. This new version though, the primary focus in it is on anonymous and unprotected sex between males often under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Portraying things like this is what specifically fuels much of the fear in this country when many begin to believe that the only type of relationships men have with each other in the gay community is exactly what they see portrayed in the entertainment industry just like this.

So yes, I’m very concerned about a new outbreak of a disease that is already placing blame upon a culture I’m associated with simply because I have a same-sex partner. Except I am a monogamous individual and so is my other half, and neither of us are alcohol or drug users, yet I can see people just like us nonetheless receiving blame if this virus continues to spiral out of control, becoming yet another pandemic to hit our soil. I pray I’m wrong here, but sadly, history continues to show otherwise…

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

Who is someone who passed away too soon in your life that touched your soul and left a lasting impression forever upon your heart?

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


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Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday entry where gratitude remains the sole focus of my writing at the start of every week, which for today is for Bobby Anspach, a friend to many, including me, who passed away far too soon in this world just a few weeks ago, at the young age of 34.

When I learned about Bobby’s tragic passing from his brother Michael, I was devastated, not just for the entire Anspach family, a family I have grown to care greatly for and close to in recent years, but also for the world losing yet another amazing individual far before they really ever got the chance to show the world just how amazing they were.

In the brief time I came to know Bobby, what I learned first and foremost was that he had a heart of gold who truly cared about everyone he spent time with. When you spoke to Bobby, it was as if he was reading your soul with his crystal blue eyes, and I always felt a warm presence and glow emanating through them, one that consistently felt extremely welcoming.

Bobby was also the type of guy who frequently wanted to help others and be of service to those who asked for his help. I think it was just in his nature to be of support to those in need, as was overly evident in his life, even with me when I asked him once for assistance with a speaking engagement, which came one Thanksgiving a few years ago. Then, Bobby had come home to spend time with his family, and I asked if he would take some time out of it to come speak at my weekly 12 Step volunteer commitment. There was no hesitation whatsoever and he gladly was of service, something many others besides me saw of him throughout his life. And I must say that whenever Bobby spoke, even that day at that weekly commitment, it was always done with plenty of passion and compassion, enough so to captivate anyone in attendance.

I think what I also loved about Bobby was his sense of humor and his ability to enjoy life in the moment. The last time I saw Bobby was at his brother Michael’s wedding. There he spent much of it careening around the dance floor, truly living it up, as if there wasn’t a care in the world. Bobby always did his best to live life like that, to the fullest really, and that energy he carried was so infectious, that it often drove many others, including me, to try to do the same.

Bobby Anspach was just that type of guy you would have liked from the onset of meeting him, who constantly seemed to smile from ear to ear and was never afraid to give you the warmest of hugs. His love and affection for people in general was very strong, so much so that he often pulled someone out of the lowest of places and moods, easily turning a frown to a smile, and sorrow into laughter. This was more than evident at his Celebration of Life that came a few weeks after his passing.

There, it was obvious how many he had touched throughout his brief time on this planet, as the event drew well over a hundred people, all who had much to say in support of him. Listening to the personal testimonies there of those he grew closest to in his life and learning about the many other talents he had that I had never really got to see, including his gift with art, I found myself wishing I had gotten to know him far more than I did.

Regardless, I am so thankful on this Grateful Heart Monday, for even the brief moments my path walked side by side with Bobby, as during each of them, I got to know another beautiful child of God who shined incredibly brightly during his limited time here. I will miss you Bobby Anspach, and I hope my path may cross yours again one day, may you be at peace with God now, I will always love you my dear friend.

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

Thought For The Day

Today’s Thought For The Day follows the guise of “Judge not, lest thee be judged” mentality, one I wrote about in yesterday’s Daily Reflection where a barista was unfairly and wrongly judged and deemed in the process to be in the need of being saved…

“If you always judge people by their appearance, you’ll miss out on meeting and knowing some pretty amazing people.” (Unknown)

“When you judge someone on their appearance or first words, you miss the opportunity to understand another human being.” (Leon Brown)

“God doesn’t see thing the way you seem them. People judge outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” (Ann Voskamp)

“If you judge after appearances, you will continue to be enslaved by the evidence of your senses.” (Neville Goddard)

“We judge people by their appearance so quickly, and we form opinions about people, compartmentalize people, and think we know who they are. But if you sit down and talk with someone for more than 10 minutes, you’ll find something in common, no doubt whatsoever.” (Paul Blackthorne)

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

Daily Reflection

“Judge not according to appearance…” (John 7:24)

I was in one of my favorite coffee shop hangouts recently, one where I know most of the baristas there, when I saw a proselytizing action that bothered me immensely, one solely based upon appearance. There, at the coffee shop, what unfolded before me was a young female customer handing over to a barista a few dollars stuffed into a small pamphlet. What was the pamphlet? One of those Christian conversion pamphlets I often see in bathrooms of public places that focus in on being saved.

Why this bothered me so immensely was the action was based solely upon this barista’s appearance. How did the barista look? She had bright green hair, black mascara that spread out from the sides of her eyes in triangles, and a nose ring. What I found even more frustrating was that this barista wasn’t even the person who waited upon this customer. It was simply an action that was based upon a judgment from what the customer saw with their eyes. And when that customer left, I watched her smile and glow as if she had done the most amazing action to someone she judged really needed it.

Here’s what she didn’t know. The girl with the green hair is a pretty awesome person. She loves to dance in the store to 80’s music. She greets every customer with an amazing smile and a friendly hello. And always, and I mean always, makes sure that every drink she crafts is done to perfection. She truly exudes a joy in what she does that I would go so far as to say already represents the joy of Christ. So why did she need a Christian pamphlet? She didn’t. Yet this is what I struggle often with people who proselytize their religion. They often try to save others they judge need it, who don’t need saving. They claim themselves as knowing more than the person they feel they need to save.

What I’ve come to learn in my walk with Christ, one that isn’t a religious walk and more a spiritual one, is that people will ask me when they are interested in my faith, not the other way around. I don’t believe it’s my purpose to ever judge someone else needs Jesus, or Buddha, or Mohammad, or anyone. It’s my job to not judge another on what they need at all, especially in their faith walk. It’s my job to simply be unconditionally loving and treat everyone as my equal.

Nevertheless, after that customer left that day, I talked to this barista and learned this regularly occurred in her life, which I find sad because in my book, she already represents the Jesus I know, someone who stands apart from the masses and does their best to love everyone, unconditionally. Did she need Jesus? No, but ultimately, maybe it was the customer who needed to get in touch with a little more of that…

Dear God, help me never to judge others by appearance or deem who needs you and who doesn’t. Help me instead to just love others unconditionally, just as you do of me…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

When the printouts from John’s laser printer began to grow faint, he called a local repair shop where a friendly man informed me that the printer probably just needed to be cleaned and the cartridge changed. Because the store charged $50 for the task, he told John he’d be better off reading the printer’s manual and doing the job himself. Pleasantly surprised by his candor, John asked, “Does your boss know that you are discouraging business?” “Actually it’s my boss’s idea,” the employee replied sheepishly. “We usually make more money on repairs if we let people try to fix things themselves first…”

Silly Joke #2

An interim school superintendent, speaking at a city-wide PTA luncheon, assured members that he was always happy to hear from them about problems. He told them, “You can call me anytime, day or night, at this number…” He then read the number aloud for everyone to write down. Suddenly there was a cry from his assistant superintendent. “Hey,” the assistance superintendent exclaimed, “that’s MY number!!!”

Silly Joke #3

Customer: (to bartender): “My wife and I just got into a knock down, drag out fight!”
Bartender: “What happened?”
Customer: “We weren’t seeing eye to eye about her weight gain, but when it was all over, she came crawling back to me on her hands and knees!”
Bartender: “Wow! Really?”
Customer: “Yeah, she told me to come out from under the bed!”

Bonus Silly Joke

Little Johnny is all grown up and still continues to say the most inappropriate of things at the most inappropriate of times. “I hope you like your birthday gift!”, Little Johnny says handing a gift box to his girlfriend on her birthday. She gleefully opens it up and then says sounding disappointed, “It’s a sexy pair of lingerie, thanks, but, I think this is more of a gift for you than it is for me Johnny.” Little Johnny then says, “Well, if you want to get technical about it, it was originally a gift for my last girlfriend.”

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

You’re dining out at a nice restaurant for your birthday, the waiter/waitress offers you ONE free alcohol or non-alcohol beverage of your choice, what do you tell her?

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


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Have You Ever Experienced An Alcohol Blackout?

Have you ever experienced a temporary loss of memory during a period of alcohol intoxication? Most hardened drinkers, like I once was, have at some point, and to us it’s well known as having experienced a blackout, something that can be a sure sign of addiction when it happens more than once.

For those who might not understand the science behind an alcohol blackout, the gaps that occur in a person’s memory during intoxication happen when a person drinks enough alcohol to temporarily block the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage, something known as memory consolidation, in the hippocampus area of the brain.

To understand the difference between a non-addict experiencing an alcohol blackout versus an addict, I think it’s best to share with all of you my partner Chris’s experience with when it first happened to him and my first experience.

Chris experienced his first blackout back in 2003 on a night where he was out drinking with a few friends. Once he left the bar he was enjoying himself at, he lost all recollection of anything that took place after. He eventually “came to” once he found himself walking in his front door. The experience left him with a permanent fear that scared him so much he’s never consumed more than a single drink or two ever since and never experienced a blackout again either.

Me, on the other hand, experienced my first blackout on the very first night I ever consumed alcohol, which was in late February of 1990 at a high school party. From the moment I quickly finished my second beer, the rest of the recollection of my evening was wiped out of existence for me. I didn’t “come to” until the party was over when I was about to head home. While that should have scared me, it didn’t, as I rather enjoyed the experience. Why? Because for a moment, it allowed me to forget about all the pain of my life and helped me to feel free for once of many painful memories. I’d go on to have repeated blackouts for six more years after that night until I finally accepted I was an alcoholic and earned my first full day of sobriety on June 11th, 1995.

So, as you can see, there is a big difference in how a non-addict and an addict handles alcohol blackouts. The reality though for anyone experiencing even a single one is that it’s most definitely something to pay attention to and be concerned over. Many in 12 Step recovery over the years have told me countless stories of terrible things they’ve done during their own blackouts that ranged from DUI’s, physically hurting others or themselves, getting sexually abused, stealing, vandalizing, and worse. I have a number of my own sad stories I could share when it comes to all those years I blacked out from excessive drinking. Most had me waking up in very strange places, including other residences of people I didn’t even know. Nevertheless, the damage alcohol blackouts due on the mind and body is highly detrimental in of itself even with it happening just once, so it’s most assuredly something to pay attention to.

The bottom line is that experiencing repeated alcohol blackouts can most definitely be a sign of an active alcohol addiction or a brewing one. So, if you should ever find yourself having more than one of these, please know this isn’t a good thing, and most certainly is a warning sign that you aren’t on a healthy path with your consumption of alcohol. I highly encourage you to seek help, as you may find that it’s far better to address any potential reasons for wanting to drink to the point of blacking out, than continuing to take the risk of drinking so excessively that you might just come out of a blackout after doing something so bad that you’ll never be able to take it back…

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

Thought For The Day

Today’s quotes surround how all of God’s creatures matter…even a tiny baby robin that falls from its nest, something I wrote about in yesterday’s entry…

“If you have men that will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men.” (St. Francis of Assisi)

“Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the driving mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.” (Fyodor Dostoevsky)

“In God’s eyes, all creatures have value whether we find them cuddly, affectionate, beautiful, or otherwise. Our own perspective in a way is neither here nor there. Theology, at its best, can help to liberate us from our own anthropocentric limitations.” (Andrew Linzey)

“A hundred years from now, it will not matter the sort of house I lived in, what my bank account was, or the car I drove…but what will matter is that the world may be different because I was important in the life of the animals and the creatures on this earth.” (Unknown)

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude remains the sole expression in my writing for the day, which for today is for having compassion for even the smallest of God’s creatures, even a tiny baby robin that fell from its nest the other day.

About a week ago, I was outside doing my typical morning chores when I noticed on the street across from me were three tiny objects that looked rather strange. I opted to stop what I was doing to go take a closer look and it’s then I discovered that a robin’s nest overhead in the tree there had shifted during the previous night’s windstorm causing all three babies to fall from it to the ground. Sadly, two of them had already died, but one was still flailing around and way too young to take care of itself. My heart wrenched as I looked down at the creature, mother nowhere in sight. Years ago, in my addiction days, I would have said “oh well” to something like this, just chalked it up as another one of those misfortunes of life and gone back to whatever I was doing prior. It’s sad to say but there was a time when I didn’t care about things like this and even did things like throw eggs from bird’s nests out of anger and rage in my life. Thankfully, I don’t carry that energy anymore. Now, I carry far more compassionate energy, especially with God’s creatures.

In light of that, watching that tiny bird flail around, so helpless in its first few weeks of life, my heart stirred greatly, so much so that I went and got my ladder, put on some gloves, and scooped that bird up. I then climbed all the way up to the very top rung where I realized I was glad I didn’t have any fear of heights, as looking down from that top step would probably have made one who does, feel some sense of vertigo. Anyway, I was just high enough to reach the nest and gently moved it back into a safe resting spot, making sure the hole the baby robins fell through was now protected. I placed the sole remaining survivor back into it and lastly said a blessing as I took the two babies that had passed on already and placed them in branches within the tree high up off the ground. After I was done with the task and the ladder put away, I wondered if that one survivor would make it. I wondered as well if it’s mother would be thankful or abandon it. Either way, I was filled with gratitude, gratitude for what 12 Step recovery has given me, which was a deeper connection to God and to my heart to care about things like this, something I never had before I ever did 12 Step recovery and lived in addictions instead.

Having an open heart today that feels compassion for things like tiny baby robins and other of God’s creatures means the world to me, because deep in addiction, the heart is often sealed shut, and life filled with nothing but anger and resentment. So, on this Grateful Heart Monday, I’m thankful to have compassion today for things like baby robins that fall from their nest, as I think that’s also symbolic of how God is with all of us, when we too fall from our nests in life like I once did with my former life of non-stop addiction…

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

Was there ever a nickname given to you as a kid that you NEVER liked, that it held more negative energy for you than positive?

(Note: As an aside, you can help remove any negative energy remaining from this by saying aloud the following three times, “I am not (insert nickname), I am (your full birth name)!”)

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


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The Terrible Nickname I Was Given As A Kid That Began PTSD From Being Bullied…

“Andy Dawgskin! Andy Dawgskin! Andy Dawgskin!” I can still hear those awful chants, even at 50 years old, of those kids from my youth who constantly made fun of me in our neighborhood, on the bus, at school, and pretty much everywhere. This nickname, one placed upon me by a local kid around the corner who simply manipulated my last name in a negative-sounding way, would go on to haunt me and become an initial PTSD marker for being bullied incessantly for years to come.

When I see kids today getting bullied, whether it’s in the movies or television shows I watch, or whether it’s when I’m actually out and about in some public place where it’s occurring, it always does a number on my heart. While I’ve experienced a lot of healing from all the PTSD of getting bullied as a kid, I’ve worked with plenty in 12 Step recovery who are adults now that continue to carry massive wounds from it and where addiction is still a strong resource to handling the pain from it. I can relate to that because alcohol and drug addiction were the very things that initially helped me in life to numb myself from the many years I was bullied and rejected by peers. Ironically though, consuming alcohol and doing drugs also helped me to find acceptance in this world with the many who did either with me.

While I may not be angry or resentful anymore at all those who once bullied, there’s still a great sadness that remains within me surrounding it, one that always has me feeling like I’m on the outside looking in at everyone else having fun together. You see, ever since shedding my old chameleon-like personality that began at 17 just to avoid getting bullied, and since shedding so many addictions as well, I often feel that no one wants to be around me because I no longer fit in with what the masses do. What’s even harder to deal with is how I frequently become clingy and needy, and sometimes even overly pushy, when I actually end up making a new friendship, because that kid in me becomes so desperate for acceptance and approval, two things I never got growing up. I’m thankful for the courage God has given me to continue working on this and speaking so openly about it. While I may always care on some level about what others think of me due to the amount of bullying and rejection I endured as a kid, I at least can say I’m living out my more authentic self now than ever before, which is why I want to say this.

To all those people out there who have blocked me, mocked me, talked behind my back, and spread what you believe to be true about me in countless gossipy ways, I’m a good person with a good heart, who’s choosing to face his own insecurities now, instead of numbing myself from them. Maybe instead of judging me and doing what is no different than the bullying I endured as a kid, you should take a look in the mirror at yourself. Rather than continuing to do hurtful actions that inflict pain upon others including me, actions that really are no different than those who once chanted, “Andy Dawgskin” repeatedly, maybe it’s time for you to look within on why you are so bothered by who I am as much as you are.

Regardless of what any may choose to think of me today or in the past, I am not “Andy Dawgskin” anymore, and I release everything still within me tied to a name and negative energy I never wanted or deserved. And I also release all the pain I received from all the bullies in this world as well who have ever hurt me, once and for all. I am Andrew Arthur Dawson, and I love my authentic self…even if you don’t…or ever will…

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

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

A guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “A glass of your finest Less, please.” “Less? Never heard of it my friend…”, the bartender responds. “C’mon, I’m sure you have!”, the guy insists. “No, really, I don’t think we stock it. What is it? Some kind of foreign beer?”, the bartender says baffled. “I’m not sure. But, my doctor told me today that I really needed to start drinking Less and I told him I would get right on that!!!”

Silly Joke #2

An out-of-work actor gets a call from his agent one day. “I’ve got you a job,” says his agent. “That’s great,” says the actor, what is it?” “Well,” says his agent, “it’s a one-liner in a play.” “That’s okay,” replies the actor, “I’ve been out of work for so long I’ll take anything. What’s the line?” “Hark, I hear the cannons roar” says the agent. “I love it” says the actor. “When’s the audition?” “Wednesday” says the agent. Wednesday comes and the actor arrives at the audition, which isn’t too far from his house. He marches on stage and shouts bravely: “Hark, I hear the cannons roar!”. “Brilliant!”, says the director, “you’ve got the job. Be here 9 o’clock Saturday evening.” The actor is so happy he finally got an acting gig that he goes on a major bender for a few days that he ends around 8:00pm Saturday night. He runs to the theatre still somewhat under the influence, continually repeating his line, “Hark, I hear the cannons roar, Hark, I hear the cannons roar, Hark, I hear the cannons roar.” When he arrives at the stage entrance, out of breath, he is stopped by the guard. “Who the hell are you?” asks the guard. “I’m “Hark, I hear the cannons roar!” “Well, if you are “Hark I hear the cannons roar”, you’re freaking late. Get to makeup right now!” So he runs to makeup. “Who the hell are you” asks the makeup girl. “I’m “Hark I hear the cannons roar!”” “Well, if you’re hark I hear the cannons roar”, you’re freaking late. Sit down!” She quickly applies the makeup. “Now hurry, get down to the stage, you’re about to go on.” He dashes down to the stage where’s he met by the stage manager. “Who the hell are you?” asks the stage manager. “I’m “Hark, I hear the cannons roar!”” “Well, if you’re “Hark, I hear the cannons roar, you were almost replaced! Be ready! You’re about to go on!” A few minutes later the stage manager says it’s his time to go out there. So he tears onto the stage, sees the house is full, when suddenly a huge cannon goes off behind him, startling him totally out of his bender, where he shouts, “WHAT THE F$$K WAS THAT?”

Silly Joke #3

There was a farmer who grew some pretty amazing watermelons. He was doing pretty well in the watermelon business because of it, but he was disturbed by some local kids who kept sneaking into his watermelon patch at night and eat some of them. After some careful thought, he came up with a clever idea that he thought would scare them away for sure. So, he made up a sign and posted it in the field. The next night, the kids showed up and they saw the sign which read, “Warning! One of these watermelons in this field has been injected with cyanide.” The kids left without disturbing any and came back the next night with a sign of their own. When the farmer came out the next morning, he surveyed the field and noticed that while no watermelons were missing, a sign had been placed next to his that read, “Now there are two!”

Bonus Silly Joke

A man walked into a bar on a slow night and sat down. After a few minutes, the bartender asked him if he wanted a drink. He replied, “No thanks. I don’t drink. I tried it once, but I didn’t like it.” So the bartender said, “Well, would you like a cigarette?” But the man said, “No thanks. I don’t smoke. I tried it once, but I didn’t like it.” The bartender asked him if he’d like to play a game of pool, and again the man said, “No thanks. I don’t like pool. I tried it once, but I didn’t like it. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be here at all, but it’s where my only son asked to meet me.” The bartender said, “Well, I guess that means you tried sex once too, but didn’t like it either?

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

Question For The Day

Today’s question is…

If God were to send you a sign of God’s presence in your life via a living, but non-human form, what form (be very specific) would you choose to have it come in?  (Ex. Golden Retriever, Sphinx Cat, Robin, Praying Mantis, etc.)

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


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God’s Mysterious Ways

Thank you for joining in to another entry of my series, God’s Mysterious Ways, where I write about things that may be more than just coincidences, where God may very well indeed have a hand behind it, which for today is for a friendly robin, who’s presence recently, during one of my weekly chores, may have also been a messenger hand-delivered by the Big Guy himself.

Just over a week ago, I was midway through my weekly mowing of both my yard and my neighbor’s when I noticed a robin was flittering around a few feet from where I was pushing the lawnmower. I didn’t pay much attention to it because honestly, I was deep in my head, feeling overly sorry for myself, like I have been more that not lately, mostly surrounding this pit of emptiness I continue to feel within. If there’s ever been a thorn in my side that’s been plaguing me, it’s this emptiness, an emptiness that stems from feeling like joy is a million miles away no matter how hard I try to find or create it.

Regardless, as that emptiness spilled over into me cutting my neighbor’s yard, I didn’t even notice that this robin had followed me over there. That was until I began to mow one line after another there, when this robin seemed like it was making a far concerted effort to get my attention. I’d push the mower in one direction where it stood almost in my path, when it was abruptly bound out of the way at the last minute and stand still a mere few feet from me. Frankly, it surprised me, as I’ve never seen any bird enjoy all that noise that emits from any lawnmower. After I mowed a few more lines, I decided to give the robin a friendly wave, after which I totally silly, telling myself I was imagining things. Even so, it remained with me for the duration of me mowing the neighbor’s front yard, at which no point was I even thinking that this was some messenger of God or one of God’s mysterious ways to communicate with me. I simply thought it was one brave robin.

Regardless, I then headed into my neighbor’s backyard, which was what I had left to finish out my weekly mowing task, when I suddenly had a random thought. What if this robin really was somehow a messenger from Source? I know that sounds funny, but at that moment, I was really desperate for a message of hope. As I began to mow that backyard, I had already cut a few strips when I said in my head, “Ok, God, if that robin really was from You, then have it come back into this backyard as I mow, and I’ll know it’s You.”  And wouldn’t you know, as I turned the mower around and headed back towards the house, there it was, staring at me while it fluttered about.

That robin would remain with me a few minutes longer, but when I finally acknowledged that maybe indeed God really did send this robin to me that day to remind me that He really is there, wouldn’t you know, it then flew away, leaving me with yet another interesting story to share with all of you, one that may just be another case of God’s Mysterious Ways…

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

Thought For The Day

Hope is something that I keep alive, even on those days when I find myself saying, “Why bother?” Today’s quotes talk more about why I keep hope alive…there is a reason…and it’s kept me going thus far…

“If it were not for hope, the heart would break.” (Thomas Fuller)

“You should never give up, no matter how hard the situation is. Always believe that something beautiful is going to happen.” (Evan Carmichael)

“Good things come to those who believe, better things come to those who are patient, and the best things come to those who don’t give up.” (Unknown)

“Never give up hope. Situations can change over night and problems can dissolve in the light of a new day’s sun.” (Leon Brown)

“How long should you try? Until.” (Jim Rohn) 

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude remains the sole expression at the start of every week on TheTwelfthStep, which for today is for my sister Laura’s recent summer birthday trip to Toledo!

A few months ago, just prior to me turning 50, Laura asked me what I wanted as a gift for the big milestone that was coming up. My answer was the only one I truly wanted, which was for her to come visit me. Seeing any of my remaining family at any point is an absolute blessing in my life, and her recent trip to Toledo was no exception.

From the moment I picked her up, our weekend was filled with many things to be grateful for. Our first day together we went to downtown Detroit and saw the Van Gogh Immersion exhibit, something we both have wanted to see for some time, and it was such an amazing experience, especially for the visual and hearing senses. Dinner that night was at Mark Wahlberg’s restaurant, Wahlburgers, in Greektown, and dessert afterwards from Astoria Bakery, quite possibly one of the best bakeries I’ve ever been to.

Our second day began with breakfast at The Speedtrap Diner in Woodville, Ohio. This diner is one of my favorite out-of-the-way unique joints to go to locally for a meal where the walls and ceiling have so much to look at and where it honestly feels like I’ve travelled back in time to the 1950’s. Not too far from there is The Schedel Gardens, a beautiful botanical garden and arboretum situated alongside the bank of a small river in Elmore, Ohio. There, we spent the afternoon and it might just have been the most peaceful and unique gardens I’ve ever visited, where there are multiple places to relax, each with a different theme that makes it ultimately feel like you’ve travelled to several different parks in the world. Dinner that night was a homecooked meal that included a sausage and cheddar lasagna, tossed salad, and garlic bread, all prepared from scratch by my partner Chris. The evening ended with watching a moving romantic film titled “Finding You”, a movie I first discovered on Prime and later bought for re-watching at home because I liked it so much.

Our final day included a trip to one of my top ten restaurants, The Melting Pot, which is an amazing experience if you like fondue. There, we had three courses of it beginning with a cheddar-based one, then a meat, fish, and vegetables one in a Coq Au Vin broth, and finally one with a cookies and cream milk and dark chocolate concoction that had an incredible assortment of things to dip into including cream puffs, salted caramel cheesecake, brownies, macaroons, and much more. It was most definitely a huge caloric experience that’s for sure, which is probably good that we went and played a totally fun game of putt-putt in Garden City, Michigan at Garden City Mini Golf.

While all of the experiences I shared with my sister were things to be grateful for, what I have the greatest gratitude for from her trip here was simply all the time we shared together talking, reconnecting, and bonding further together, given all the years we once were more apart as brother and sister. I will most certainly treasure the memories from her visit for some time to come, and it’s most definitely something to dedicate today’s Grateful Heart Monday to!

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

Thought For The Day

In light of the slightly remixed serenity prayer I shared in yesterday’s posting, I wanted to share other versions of it that I came across on the Internet, as I found them quite inspiring as well…

“God, grant me the serenity to stop beating myself for not doing things perfectly, the courage to forgive myself because I’m working on doing better, and the wisdom to know that you already love me just the way I am.” 

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.”

“God, grant me the honesty to say what will prove to be helpful, the tact to not say what will prove to be unhelpful and maybe even hurtful, and the strength to know when to hold my tongue.”

“God, grant me the yearning to keep my hopes and dreams alive that are meant to come true, the realism to let them go when they aren’t, and the knowledge of other hopes and dreams I may not have discovered on my journey yet.”

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

The Serenity Prayer Slightly Remixed…

I’ve often struggled with the serenity prayer as it’s written and recently have had to slightly remix it in a way that makes far more sense to me on my spiritual journey. For those who don’t know this prayer, it’s written as follows:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

While this prayer is said throughout the vast majority of 12 Step addiction recovery meetings around the globe and one frequently utilized in many individual prayers as well, it’s a prayer I’ve struggled with, mostly due to the way my mind keeps interpreting the middle statement within it.

You see, I’ve not had an issue throughout the majority of my adult life, which now encompasses over 27 years of continuous sobriety from alcohol and drugs, finding the courage to change something. In fact, I walk through numerous avenues of fear every single day looking to change anything my ego doesn’t like, especially in recent years when it comes to all my health issues. I’m the type of guy who’s very willing to take up any challenge that will help to overcome any obstacle on my spiritual journey. Take for example the fear of spiders I have at times in life. I often utilize my courage when I see one, to actually touch it, just to prove to my ego that the fear of it won’t control me. How this relates to my struggle with the serenity prayer as it’s written is this.

While the intention of the serenity prayer is truly at its core seeking wisdom as to whether to accept something or change it, my ego interprets it differently. It sees it more so as a decision between accepting things I don’t have the courage to face and changing the things I do have the courage to face. Because of this, I often find myself trying to change one thing after another, even when God may not want me to, because I typically don’t struggle with finding courage for anything, it’s just always there.

This is why I’ve recently begun working on saying the serenity prayer in a slightly different way, one that makes far more sense to me and one my ego can’t misinterpret for it’s own benefit. Because the biggest battle I face in life presently isn’t in finding the courage to change something, it’s in knowing whether God actually wants me to change it in the first place. Said in a slightly different way, my struggle on plenty of days is whether God wants me to work on changing some aspect of my life or whether God wants me to be still and accept it.

So, this is the serenity prayer I’ve slightly remixed to aid my spiritual journey in a way I understand far better and one I hope will help others who have had similar struggles with it as well…

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the knowledge to change the things I’m meant to, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

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