Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to Grateful Heart Monday where my week always begins with a piece of gratitude from my life, which for today is for a customer service supervisor from Delta who truly offered me a blessing when I most needed it.

I’m sure many could probably think of at least an unpleasant experience or two they’ve had during a call to one of those 800-number customer service hotlines. I know I sure have, but thankfully a few weeks ago that wasn’t the case when I ended up having to call Delta’s 800 number late one Tuesday night to cancel a flight I was on that was only two days away. After suddenly learning that my sister’s husband’s resentments of me had led to him spoiling the surprise of me coming to visit for her 50thbirthday weekend, I was asked by my sister, who was in a terrible state of anxiety and stress because of it, to reschedule my trip to a later date, one she knew where her husband was going to be away. Needless to say, it would be a gross understatement in saying I wasn’t in the best of headspace when I dialed Delta’s number.

Given I had a non-refundable ticket, I didn’t have very high hopes of what that call was going to achieve, especially after having to wait for a 50-minute callback and another 45 minutes on top of that due to the first agent having constant computer malfunctions. But, my first piece of gratitude came when I was transferred to a supervisor who was very friendly and actually open to listening to all what I was going through. For a good ten minutes I opened up about my struggles with my physical pain, all the issues I had with my sister’s husband, and the state of my mental health over it all. On some level, this woman became like a therapist who was simply willing to listen, something that I often feel many customer service agents don’t do. Thankfully this one did. Because at the end of it, she told me she understood and was willing to change my ticket to the future date with no penalties whatsoever. Even better, the rescheduled flight was about $40 cheaper and became a Delta credit for any flight I may book down the road. But, the biggest blessing came when I asked her name at the end of that call, because it was one that I feel was maybe God sending me a message through.

What was her name?

Grace.

And boy did I get that from her, a lot in fact.

So yes, I feel that I received much of God’s grace through a woman named the same, simply by her just listening to me, offering compassion, and changing my flight with no issues whatsoever. I’m sure when I actually board the new flight a few months from now that I’ll be thinking of her and silently expressing my gratitude to God for a woman He named Grace because I sure got a lot of that late one Tuesday night on a call to Delta’s customer service.

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to today’s Grateful Heart Monday, a time of writing that’s always reserved for expressing some gratitude, which for today is for having a lot more energy and stamina this summer that’s allowed me to do many more activities that I haven’t done in years.

In the past few weeks alone, I attended the Ohio State Fair for the first time and also went to Cedar Point twice (once to the amusement park and once to the water park). Between the three I’ve walked some 40,000 steps and over 15 miles, which for me is a huge, and I mean huge, achievement, as it’s something unheard of in my life over the past bunch of years. Add in my trip to Poughkeepsie where I walked the large grounds of two historic sites and a day I spent in New York City where I traversed much of Manhattan on foot, I’ve actually done more physical activity than any of the previous seven years of my life. It’s not just with places I’ve gone to either because I’ve also been able to do an incredible amount of outdoor yard work this summer as well.

While I may still be dealing with plenty of health limitations, by the grace of God, none of them have stopped me dead in my tracks this summer, as they have in so many prior summers. I’m not exactly sure why this is, but the reality is I’ve been far more physically active ever since the weather began warming up this year.

In light of that, instead of focusing in on any of those physical things that I’ve wished I could do and haven’t been able to yet, I’m simply going to thank God today for the fact that I know my health is improving on every level, because this summer has absolutely, positively been chock full of things I haven’t done for a very long time.

So, for all the gardening and landscaping I’ve done, games of mini-golf I’ve played, rides I’ve ridden, miles I’ve walked, places I’ve travelled to, and the plenty of other things I’ve gotten to try this summer that I haven’t in a long time, I’m grateful to You God, as I can see how much You truly have been answering my prayers and healing me all along.

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, a day where my writing always reflects upon a piece of gratitude, which for today is for all the gifts and lessons I’ve been given from gardening and landscaping.

Back in the day, other than being forced to cut my family’s yard, you would never catch me digging my hands in the dirt to plant something or trying to beautify anything. In fact, it was more the opposite, where I probably caused wreckage in nature more than not. Back then I wasn’t connected to nature whatsoever, let alone God for that matter. But, when I bought my first home in Falls Church, VA around 1999, that all changed, as then I found myself caring a lot more about it, mainly because I now had a yard and garden to maintain. Trimming, pruning, weeding, fertilizing, edging, planting, and the like soon became the norm for me after that and it was then I first began experiencing gratitude from it all.

I remember the first tree I ever planted in the front of that yard, a crape myrtle, and how excited I got the next spring when suddenly it exploded in color. It was as if some part of me came alive along with it. I’ll never forget that feeling, which was precisely what drove me into my love for gardening and landscaping. I found a real sense of peace and connection to Source from it, which sadly, is why I felt sadness when I sold that home, as it felt like I left a piece of me behind there.

I took gardening and landscaping to another level when I moved into the bed and breakfast I purchased after selling that home. For the four years I lived in that inn (The 1848 Island Manor House in Chincoteague, VA), I worked hard to improve the grounds. Working side by side with a professional landscape company, I was able to turn a very dated property into an extremely modernized one with all local plants and foliage. I spent most of my time there outside keeping everything looking tip top and while many find work like that boring and annoying, for me it’s a form of meditation where the stressors of the world temporarily slip away while doing it. While I no longer own the inn, I still have a sense of gratitude in knowing what I left behind there, as I’m sure many guests will enjoy and find peace in the beauty of it all.

Regrettably, I went through a period from 2007 to 2012 where I rented rooms in other people’s homes and felt a great sense of loss from not having a garden or yard of my own to take pride in. I had come to love gardening and landscaping by that point, and without that always felt like I was missing out on a part of me, which is one reason why I felt so blessed when I met my partner Chris in early 2012, as it was then I discovered he owned his own home along with a nice small yard and gardens.

While he had made a good start a few years prior to making it look beautiful by adding sod, several ponds, and a Japanese maple, I saw plenty of potential to give it even more of a “Wow” factor. Ever since, I’ve done my best to make that happen with my main goal always being to create something that might help people feel a sense of God’s peace and joy. Over the years, some of the work that’s been done here is adding new fencing in the back for privacy, putting in rock gardens in areas where grass just didn’t seem to ever want to grow, making a mulch garden along the driveway and adorning it with long Shepard’s hooks where flowering baskets hang from it, removing the old plastic edging in all the gardens and replacing it with bright silver metal edging, changing the fountains from sprayers to bubbles, putting in lights in the ponds and along the gardens, planting a flowering dogwood in the center of the yard, and finding a ton of new native perennials that could shift with the spring, summer, and fall to have color during at least three of the four seasons here. So, yes, gardening and landscaping have provided me many gifts, now about those lessons.

What have I learned the most through landscaping and gardening?

It will never look perfect.

Boy, have I had to learn that lesson again and again, especially with the diseases that the yard has gotten in recent years, where I had to start over several times, and when some of my plants unfortunately didn’t quite make it in the areas I planted them in.

Plants and nature give love but need it to.

I pray over my yard and gardens a lot. It’s not uncommon to see me doing so and although you may think it silly, it’s been proven by science that plants and foliage respond favorably to love and kindness.

And lastly…

Plants and nature are a great tool to connect us to God. 

People often don’t understand how important remaining grounded is, as the Earth connects us to God. I find that all I need to do is take my shoes and socks off and walk around my yard or put my bare hands in the soil of my gardens, as both open my heart and bring me much closer to God.

So, yes, gardening and landscaping have done wonders for my life and taught me quite a bit. I have much to be grateful for when it comes to all I’ve learned throughout the years of doing a task that some choose to think is bothersome and tedious. I can promise you that for me it’s most definitely far from that and something I will always treasure immensely.

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