Be Still

Have you ever been in a position where you didn’t know what action to take for something you were facing? Or have you ever encountered a dilemma where there were multiple paths you could go down but didn’t know which of them to follow? Sometimes, the best decision in those situations is to take an action that many overlook as even an action at all and that’s to be still.

Being still requires patience and that’s a trait too many of us seem to lack. It’s one I’ve been trying to learn a lot more about over the past few years. But enduring the high pain levels I’ve been going through daily for several years now has often led my brain to taking headstrong actions. And unfortunately, for each of those ego-based actions I took, there were re-actions that brought on a new level of stress. So deciding to take some medication to numb the pain usually sent me down the path that caused even more pain to occur and prevented the source of it from ever healing. There were times too that those headstrong actions led me to trying new healing modalities that did nothing for me but detour me for months and months and drained me financially. Thankfully, those experiences led me to the place where I found the action of being still to be a much better one to follow. It’s one where I wait patiently now for clear direction to come from my spirit and from God.

Recently, my sister’s family went through one of these experiences where they didn’t remain still and wait patiently for things to happen as they were meant to. Her husband had gotten a new job out of state that was going to require their family to move again. There were several more months left in the school year for their sons and their first reaction was to remain where they were until the end of the school year, sell their house, and then move. But certain conditions came up that brought about some fears within them. This led to actions that were swiftly taken to move them out of state before either the school year ended and before their house had sold. For the next four months that followed, their family lived in quite a bit of chaos and ironically, when all the dust had settled, their original house had sold just after their kids school year would have ended. The point here is that if they had just been still and waited patiently as they originally had intended, there’s a good chance their stress levels would have been drastically less during that period of time.

The example with my sister’s family is one I often reflect on when I think about trying to do something abruptly to curb my level of pain these days. And truthfully, the last thing I want to do is complicate my healing process anymore than it’s already been over the past few years. Too often in my life I’ve jumped head first into doing things without being still and suffered the consequences in doing so. So being still has become a much healthier action for me to take. It’s one where I simply just wait patiently for the answers to come. And even when they do, I still continue to be still until my spirit says the time is right to take any actions that came from those answers. Don’t get me wrong, being still is extremely challenging, especially for someone like me who is a go-getter and a Type A personality. But I am finding my life isn’t filled with an abundance of poor decisions anymore that did nothing but lead me down many dead-end paths.

So the next time you are facing your own dilemma and don’t know what to do…you might want to take a moment, breathe, and realize that being still really is one of the actions you could take to deal with this situation. Instead of making an irrational decision from your ego that could do nothing but bring you regret, try this path of patience and I’m sure you may find yourself experiencing a lot less stress.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Cheesecake Factory And Its Long Wait Times To Be Seated

Restaurant openings are not normally an exciting thing I look forward to, especially not for a chained establishment I’ve already been dining at since the 1990’s. But a few days ago, I did exactly that when I went with my partner to the first Cheesecake Factory to come to Michigan, which had just opened its doors only two days earlier. Located at the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, MI, which is just outside Detroit, the opening marked the 164th addition for the restaurant chain. And if there is one thing you can expect to happen at any Cheesecake Factory, especially for one that just opened its doors with no others locations around it for several hundred miles, it’s that you are going to be waiting a long time to be seated.

Waiting for extended times at various restaurants is something quite familiar to me as I have dined out quite a bit throughout my life. But the longest I can honestly say I’ve ever had to wait to be seated at any restaurant is actually at the Cheesecake Factory. That’s only because the visit I had a few days ago to the one that just opened outside Detroit wasn’t the first opening I had ever been to for the chain. When I had lived in the Washington D.C. area, I had gone to one of their original openings back when there were only a handful of them in the country and that was at the one being opened in Bethesda, Maryland. I can still remember that night I went there and waited for over 3 hours and 30 minutes simply because the hype had been so great surrounding the restaurant. On many other occasions of dining there in the years that followed, my wait times were still between two and three hours.

I’m not sure if it’s the 200 plus menu item choices, or the 38 types of cheesecake, or the incredibly large portions that convince so many people to wait for as long as they do like I always have at the Cheesecake Factory. But either way, I learned very early on with this chain that the worst time to go is definitely in its first few weeks of opening, especially in an area where there has never been one. And the only reason why I went to another grand opening again was purely for the fact that my partner and I had a gift certificate to use and that it’s his favorite restaurant chain.

While it’s a no brainer to me now that one can expect long waiting times to be seated when a big named restaurant first opens its doors, that didn’t seem to be the same feeling shared with many others I observed in the Novi restaurant the other day. It appeared that quite a number of people came with too high of expectations. Many were grumpy and complaining on how long they had to wait or how the wait times kept changing. My partner and I arrived directly between the lunch and dinner hours and were told it was going to be 70 minutes before we would get seated. Given my previous experiences with the Cheesecake Factory, I knew it was going to be a lot longer than that. So instead of staying in the throngs of people crammed together near the front desk, I took a stroll into the mall. When I returned, there were even more people jammed together so I chose to wait outside instead. I found a nice spot by myself and enjoyed the cool air on a very beautiful summer day. By the time we had gotten seated, it had taken just about two hours of time and I was pleasantly surprised as I thought it was going to be even longer than that. Even better, I was calm and stress free. My partner on the other hand was extremely tense and quite upset about the whole process, had visited the front desk several times, and had commented on how he felt many others had gotten seated ahead of us that shouldn’t have been. What’s interesting is that I saw a mirror with him reflecting back on myself to how I once was. It’s how I was at that Bethesda opening when I waited for those three and a half hours and it’s how I acted for many years after that, at many other restaurants, where I had also endured any long waiting times to be seated.

Thankfully, after we were seated, my partner quickly got over his frustrations and we had a very enjoyable meal. During it, we spoke to many of the waitresses that passed by who told us that quite a few people were extremely irritated and grumpy over the length of time it took them to get seated. Some had even waited up to five hours of time and weren’t very miserable about it. I was grateful I wasn’t one of them as not once had I felt stressed about the wait time. Is that due to the fact that I had been down that road so many times before? Or is it because I had compassion for a place that was just trying to get its new bearings in order? Or could it have been that all those prayers to God to gain greater patience have paid off? I’m not sure which of them is the truest answer, but regardless, I’m just grateful I remained calm and had an enjoyable experience from the time we arrived till the time we left several hours later.

Whether you find yourself waiting a long time at a restaurant to be seated like I did the other day, or are in a long line for a ride at an amusement park, or are at some store waiting to purchase something, I encourage you to take a moment, breathe, and realize it’s a choice you’re making to continue doing so. Ask God to give you patience if you decide to remain there, especially for those moments when it appears that others are getting ahead of you or that it’s taking way too long. You might find in doing so that your wait time flies by much quicker than if you decided to complain your whole way through it instead.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Walking Through Those Paralyzing Fears…

Fears can be paralyzing for many people. There are an infinite amount of things in this world that often drive people into that type of fear. Some of the ones I’ve faced throughout my life have included the fear of economic security, of being alone, of having health issues, of certain animals or creatures, of bosses at various jobs, of my sexuality, of my parents, and even of God to be totally honest.

Each of those fears have completely shut me down at times to where I feel incapacitated to do anything at all. But I’ve learned that the best way to overcome any fears is to confront them head-on and walk through it with faith that everything will be ok in doing so.

A good and simple example of this is the fact that I used to be completely freaked out by spiders. There came a time when I got tired of jumping every time I saw one, no matter what its size or shape was. During a moment of meditation on a retreat many years ago, I was able to remain calm enough when I saw one crawling near me. Instead of doing my usual running away, I did the exact opposite by asking God for protection and then reaching out and touching it. And ironically, since then, a spider’s presence doesn’t overwhelm me like it used to. And instead of running from them or squishing them as quickly as possible when I see one, I either observe them, or if they’re in my house, I take them outside.

The main reason why I’ve shared this minor example with you is that it’s my belief today that I can apply it to anything that causes me that paralyzing fear. For years I stayed in the closet about my being gay and drank massive quantities of alcohol to deal with the terrible fears I had surrounding it all. But there came a day then too when I called upon God and asked for help in dealing with those fears which in doing so, I was able to pick up the phone and call my parents where I told them I was attracted to men. I fully accept my sexuality today as a part of who I am because of those actions.

Time and time again, I have gone through many other examples where I have had those paralyzing fears and initially did nothing but crawl into my own tortoise shell and hide. But rarely have I ever stayed in that shell for very long because of my inward desire to not let any fears control me.

Currently, I’d have to say that I’m facing the biggest fear in my life yet and that’s over my current health situation. Many of my previous entries in here have touched upon what I’ve been going through on that realm. It certainly has been a challenge to walk through a lot of fear every single day as my body aches and groans continuously with no reprieve. But there was a time that I didn’t want to face my health issues and instead took a lot of medications to numb myself from feeling anything or acted out in various addictions to shift my attention away from dealing with them. Thankfully, each day now, I awake and ask God for the strength and courage to walk through these fears I have over my health issues for another day so that I don’t fall into any old patterns of numbing myself. I truly believe that just as I overcame those paralyzing fears with spiders, my sexuality, and so many other things in life, there will come a day soon where I have no fear surrounding the state of my mind, body, and soul either.

Don’t get me wrong, facing any paralyzing fear is a difficult thing. But, in seeking out God’s help for all of the major ones that I’ve confronted in my life, I have successfully been able to overcome each of them.

I encourage all of you to take a moment today and breathe as you think about any fears in your own life that are paralyzing. Seek God’s help to confront them head-on and know that they will begin to lose the power they had over you in doing so. In time, I’m sure you will look back with amazement on how you walked through each of them, which only will make it easier for any future ones that come along your way.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson