Daily Reflection

“Sometimes it feels like there are so many things in this world that we can’t control. Earthquakes, floods, reality shows. But it’s important to remember the things that we can – like forgiveness, second chances, fresh starts. Because the one thing that changes the world from a lonely place to a beautiful place is love. Love, in any of its forms, love gives us hope.” (Josh Duhamel in the film New Year’s Eve (2011))

There were so many things in 2020 that reminded me how very little control I have in this world. From pandemics, to police brutality, to presidential election craziness, to massive losses of life, to not being able to see a number of friends and loved ones, to the many state and local restrictions imposed due to COVID-19, to one setback after another with my health, and well you name it, 2020 most assuredly was a year that made me feel more helpless than I’ve ever felt in my life.

While I’ve gone through many challenging things at varying times in my life, 2020 became the year where it truly felt like it was one difficult thing happening after another with no reprieve. I honestly pray that 2021 will feel far better, not just with my health of course, but with the rest of the world as well, as I often felt in 2020 that I was constantly walking on eggshells, afraid to talk about anything for the fear of setting someone down another negative and judgmental rant of how the world would just be better if only (“fill in the blank”). And through each and every one of those rants, I heard one conspiracy theory after another that only left me at the end of the year not really knowing what’s factual news versus fake news.

In the end though, the biggest thing I learned in 2020 in all my moments of silence, aloneness, emptiness, and observation is the very same thing I learned long ago but failed miserably at doing for the longest time because I was always more focused on pleasing myself than in helping others. What is it? That love is the only solution for all the madness we experienced in 2020.

Personally, I beat myself up more than I loved myself in 2020, which in turn had me acting more judgmental with others, rather than loving them unconditionally. I know I must love others better, including myself, no matter what my ego may think needs to change in me or the world for life to get better. Peace begins with loving more unconditionally.

So, maybe it’s time for all of us to stop thinking things like this presidential election was rigged and instead embrace the new president with love by giving him a chance? Maybe it’s time to stop judging how anyone is handling this pandemic and instead do our best to be there for those who need our help to navigate through it? Maybe it’s time to stop focusing our energy something “out there” needing to change for life to be better and instead work on changing our attitude to one of acceptance and love? Maybe in doing so, 2021 will become a year of healing versus harming, helping versus hurting, and loving versus hating.

Maybe true healing can begin in 2021 by all of us working a little harder on accepting each other just as we are and forgiving each other as well, even if there was harm, as continuing on the same path we were on in 2020 is only going to make 2021 feel even worse. If we want to see positive change come in 2020, then it’s time to finally start loving each other, including ourselves, far more than we have.

I pray to become filled with an abundance of peace and joy in 2021, so that I may have a never-ending source of love and light to extend to both myself and everyone else I meet.

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

Daily Reflection

“The Federal minimum tipped wage is $2.13/hr. The next time you don’t tip your server, remember that they live off their tips! Most get paychecks that are $0.00 since that $2.13/hr goes to pay taxes on tips.” (Unknown)

My partner Chris and I dined in a very nice restaurant in Columbus, Ohio recently. During our meal there we asked our waitress how her Thanksgiving went. She told us she had worked the entire day and when I asked if she had experienced any difficulties during it, she told us a very disheartening story.

She was getting ready to go home to be with her family at the end of Thanksgiving Day when a group of six came in at the last minute for a holiday meal. She took the table because no one else would. When all was said and done, two hours later their bill came to $263. While she had hoped for a nice tip to end a long day, where a 20% tip on that bill would have been around $50, what she got instead was nothing. Yes, nothing! No tip. Nada. The reason? The group of six felt the cost of the food was too expensive for what they got so they made the waitress suffer for it.

It’s hearing stories like this that truly make me sad, especially when I know the people have the money to give a nice tip or even worse, call themselves a Christian. While I can’t confirm the nature of this group’s story, I can say it honestly doesn’t matter. Why? Because doing such an action to any waiter or waitress in this country is outright selfish and self-centered knowing they rely upon our tips for their livelihood.

I often wish servers in this country were paid salaries so things like this would never happen. In Europe, servers are paid far higher wages to do their job and many times restaurants already include the cost of tip in the bill, where extra tipping is only for extraordinary service, but never counted on or expected. Yet here in America, where tipping is a server’s livelihood, I hear stories like this of people who find every reason under the sun to short change their server by either not tipping or leave something negligible.

While there have been countless times over the past bunch of years where I’ve had either poor service or poor-quality food, I’ve still left 20% to my server. Why should a server work for my benefit and get nothing for it? Are they my slave? Of course not. But that’s precisely what people insinuate when they don’t tip or tip at such a low amount, it’s not really a tip at all. The fact is, I give all of my servers the benefit of the doubt for any problems that may arise with my meal because I don’t know the full story, especially from their perspective.

Regardless, if you have a job and work for a wage, imagine what it might feel like for you to do your job for an hour or two and get nothing for it? Also, know that many of the problems that happen in restaurants often do so because of poor management and not because of the wait staff. And lastly, and maybe most importantly, if you truly have the money to go out to eat in the first place, then you probably have the money to leave a nice tip for your server who waits upon you and relies upon you for their living. It’s precisely why I left a 30 percent tip to this waitress that night, as she genuinely deserved that and more, like so many other servers do as well!

Dear God, please help me to always remember that those who wait upon me in all the places I dine at rely upon me for their livelihood with the tips I leave them. And help me to always be generous in my tips, even when my ego isn’t satisfied with my dining experience.

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

Daily Reflection

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” (John Pierpont Morgan)

I really didn’t have any Christmas decorating spirit this year, which is no different than how I felt about decorating for Halloween just over a month ago as well. With the continuing worldwide COVID pandemic, our seriously divided country on leadership, and of course my ever-present frustrations surrounding my health, it honestly feels as if I’ve been zapped of any drive to participate in any annual holiday decorating festivities. But, something I learned long ago when I was going through my first bout of severe depression is that sometimes you just have to begin somewhere by simply deciding you’re not going to stay where you are.

Ultimately, there are times I’ve found that life truly requires me to take a baby step forward, even when I haven’t felt like it. There’s been plenty of those moments over the past 25 years of my life where my mind would tell me why bother doing anything, that it wasn’t worth it, while my Spirit attempted to tell me exactly the opposite. It’s so hard sometimes to listen to the Spirit though when going through severe bouts of depression or anxiety, or any of those really trying times in life. Because during those periods, the mind often tells an individual to just give up. Unfortunately, doing so prevents any further forward momentum in life, which is exactly what my mind has been attempting to convince me to do these past few months.

Thankfully, I know well enough now that sometimes I just have to take those blind steps forward doing the very thing I have no energy to do, because every single time I have, that energy has suddenly materialized to keep doing it. And once it does, it’s always been enough to propel me to complete whatever the task was that I initially had no energy to pursue.

Halloween and Christmas decorating were two of those very tasks that I really didn’t have any desire to do this year in light of how low I’ve been feeling. But in both cases, I made the conscious decision to just begin because I didn’t like that feeling of where I was at either. So, I began decorating one day in both cases, and sure enough, the energy to continue and to complete the tasks actually did show up.

So, if you should ever find yourself in a low place in life with little to no desire to do much of anything, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is simply to decide you’re not going to stay where you are. And once you do, take a small step forward into the unknown by starting even the smallest of task, as there’s a pretty good chance once you do, that you’ll find the energy to finish whatever it is and even more energy to keep moving forward.

Dear God, thank you for always helping me to take those small steps forward in life, even when my mind has tried to convince me otherwise. For I know every time I have, my Spirit has provided me what I need to keep going and to not give up.

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