Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday entry, where gratitude is the only focus of the day, which for today is for Jackson Starr, a friend of mine I hired to redo the very outdated and worn-down bathroom in my partner and I’s home.

For five years now, I’ve lived in a home where the only bathroom I could use was a 5×5 one with pink flowered wallpaper, a pink walk-in shower, a pink pedestal sink, a pink toilet, and a pink-medicine chest. While I’m sure this was most definitely quite beautiful and in fashion back in 1993 when it was last redone to this design, it most certainly doesn’t feel so anymore today and in all honestly, I’m not that much of a fan of the color pink either! In light of that, one day recently when the growing amount of wallpaper peeling away from the wall and the chips of drywall and plaster coming off of it, as well as the fixtures looking so darn rusted and old, I finally decided I had enough of it. That’s when I decided to ask a friend of mine, Jackson, who’s normal day-to-day job is doing construction work in buildings and houses, if he would take on a side job to redo our bathroom as soon as possible. Thankfully he agreed.

While the job is being split up into two different projects, so far, his work has been second to none. Jackson definitely pays attention to the details and is quite good at making sure everything gets lines up and perfectly centered. He’s also got a good eye for aesthetics, as part of the direction I was going in would have made the bathroom look incredibly overcrowded. But thanks to him, I found an alternative that worked much better.

Jackson also has a great work ethic. Frankly, having seen many contractors over the years who spent a lot of time goofing off and causing a project to become unnecessarily delayed, I was pleasantly surprised how far that has been from Jackson’s work mentality. As he’s one of those who grinds in hour after hour after hour, totally engaged in the job, sometimes even well beyond the point where he probably should have taken a much-needed break! And with Jackson charging an hourly rate that was most certainly far more affordable than if I had hired a professional company to do the work, I’ve experienced plenty of gratitude all around.

Now that phase one of this bathroom project is complete, I can say this much of Jackson as well. He absolutely knows what he’s doing when it comes to working with tools and home improvement projects, much more so than anything I know I’ve ever attempted. Heck, I struggle to even assemble a simple tiny bathroom cabinet!

Nevertheless, one last thing I should mention as well is how clean Jackson leaves his jobsite each night. I’ve hired some people in the past who’ve done work for me, only to see them leave my house in a mess until the job was entirely done. Not so with Jackson, as he leaves things in a very functional working order, which is a big plus for that OCD side of mine!!!

So, yes, I have much to be grateful for when it comes to Jackson Starr, a friend and simple construction guy who’s been well worth the cost of his help!

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where I find gratitude in my life to focus on and start my week off on a positive note, which for today is for Kodi Lee, a blind and autistic contestant on this year’s America’s Got Talent who is incredibly inspiring and gifted beyond belief.

I’ve been watching America’s Got Talent now for about 7 years and usually find myself looking forward to the beginning of summer each year, as that’s when a new season always begins for the show. It’s the only reality type of show I continue to watch and that’s because I enjoy being inspired by the many ways people in this world are gifted with some type of unique talent.

While America’s Got Talent has definitely highlighted plenty of that, it also occasionally places negative emphasis on acts that are either downright ridiculous with people doing silly things to get their few minutes of fame or people who in their own right mind feel they are talented, but in this show’s standards, are really not. So, when the final act of the first episode of the season began, with a guy being led out on stage by his mother, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Frankly, I probably thought what a lot of people did at that moment, which was wondering what kind of talent a 22-year-old guy who was blind and autistic could actually have. After all, he really wasn’t able to effectively communicate to the judges when asked questions before his act began, other than offering one-or-two-word answers, and he constantly was rocking back and forth like many who are autistic.

Nevertheless, his mother explained Kodi was going to play the piano and sing for everyone, as that was his greatest passion. After sitting down and playing a few random keys on the piano that sort of reminded me of what a little kid might do the first time they placed their hands on an instrument, I found myself feeling a little nervous as I didn’t want the audience to boo this guy or give him any bit of negative energy. Sadly, there have been many times this does happen on America’s Got Talent, which honestly, is probably the one thing I don’t like about the show, because anyone stepping foot on a stage in front of several thousand people is quite a feat in itself, but trying to demonstrate a talent they really believe in themselves is far more of a feat.

So, as Kodi began to play, my heart fluttered somewhat in fear for him, that was until he started singing. Immediately, my jaw dropped and tears proceeded to fall from my eyes. The way Kodi played on those piano keys and the way his voice soothed my soul, words couldn’t ultimately describe what I was feeling in my heart. All I know is that I felt the presence of God during his two or so minute performance and it was then that I realized that no matter how bad my life and my health may be, that God has a specific talent within us all that is meant to inspire others somehow.

Kodi Lee’s talent is something I find myself weeks later still thinking about. How can someone who is blind and autistic be so darn amazing! I have never in seven years of watching America’s Got Talent, EVER SEEN SUCH A GIFT in someone with such limitations in life! When Kodi got the season’s first golden buzzer, which guarantees him a live show appearance, I pretty much became a blubbering idiot and was kind of glad I was watching it alone. My partner Chris, who had watched it already earlier that evening had told me it was one of the best episodes he’s ever watched and I honestly didn’t know why he said that, that was until Kodi’s performance.

It’s pretty easy in this world to overlook someone like Kodi Lee and count them out before they even get a chance to prove themselves. Given he doesn’t have that Hollywood look or persona, one could pass Kodi on the streets and feel sorry for him just by what they see. But Kodi reminded me of why all of us should NEVER, EVER, focus on what we see with our eyes, and instead look to what’s beneath all that. Because beneath Kodi’s exterior is a piece of God that just inspired millions and millions of people in a way, that only God could make happen in my humble opinion.

I’m truly grateful for Kodi Lee and his incredible talent and will most certainly be rooting for him to win this season now. He single-handedly gave me enough inspiration to keep going and never count myself out, no matter how much my body and health continues to be riddled in pain and anguish. Because maybe, just maybe, I have a talent within me too, even in my current unfortunate circumstances of life, that one day will inspire many others as well, just like blind and autistic 22-year-old Kodi Lee is doing right now on America’s Got Talent Season 14…

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

Grateful Heart Monday

It’s Grateful Heart Monday, a time to express a little gratitude to start my week off on a positive note, which for today is for my friend Karen W, someone who has been a huge asset to not just my 12 Step recovery life, but also my partner Chris’s as well.

When I first met Karen, it was back in the fall of 2015. I was attending a meeting for the first time, Perrysburg Staying Sober, which would eventually become my home group in Alcoholics Anonymous. Around that time was when I seriously began struggling with my health issues and felt like I had hardly anyone to talk to in this area who would really listen. When I asked Karen if she would meet me for coffee, she said she’d love to. Ever since, we’ve done many coffee dates together, where she’s been a great listener, a person of compassion, and someone who also has given me a swift kick in the butt when I truly needed one.

One of the reasons why I treasure Karen is because she’s one of those who doesn’t beat around the bush, who doesn’t sugar coat things, and says it how it is. Honestly, I get so frustrated in life with those who can’t just be straightforward with me, but thankfully Karen is not one of them. I always believe that a real friend tells you the truth when asking for their opinion about something you’re going through, instead of offering some sort of watered-down version of it. Plenty of times, Karen has pointed out the exact areas where I needed to take a deeper look into and led to further spiritual growth within me.

I don’t have very many close friends in Toledo, but I do consider Karen one of them and someone I could rely on if I needed a friend to come to my aid. Unafraid to show her feelings, honest to the core, and someone who keeps their integrity, Karen has demonstrated many qualities that I seek in a friend, of which I’m very grateful.

But the thing I’m far more grateful for when it comes to Karen deals with my partner Chris. Over a year ago now, I asked Karen if she might consider sponsoring Chris in another 12 Step recovery program that she had been a part of, because Chris had been struggling finding someone to take him through the Steps for a good while. Thankfully, she agreed to and a wonderful connection has been formed between the two now. Even better is the fact that I’ve seen an incredible amount of spiritual growth in Chris ever since he began working with her. I don’t take that lightly one bit and am so very thankful that she has blessed not just my own recovery, but Chris’s as well.

With over 33 years of sobriety and recovery herself, and plenty of spiritual depth, Karen definitely demonstrates the 12th Step principle of helping others, not just as a sponsor for people like Chris, but also as a friend to people like me as well.

I’m grateful for Karen today and thank God that He brought her into my life for many positive reasons and look forward to her continuing to be a part of both my life and my partner’s…

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