Grateful Heart Monday

It’s time for another Grateful Heart Monday, the day I dedicate each week in my blog to one specific piece of gratitude, which for today is for the character named Bonnie in the television comedy series “Mom”, who’s played by actress Allison Janey.

Why I feel grateful for a fictional character on a TV show is simply for what Bonnie reminds me of every time I watch her in an episode. Bonnie is a recovering alcoholic who is more of a dry drunk than not. While she remains clean and sober several years in from an addiction that once controlled her life, she still continues to demonstrate many selfish and self-centered behaviors that were quite commonplace when she was active in her addiction.

Week in and week out, I watch as Bonnie searches for the angle in everything, always on the lookout for herself and how she can get something for nothing. I don’t think there’s a single episode where I’ve seen her do anything otherwise. And boy do I remember those days when I too lived as a dry drunk year after year after year. While I remained clean and sober, I only half-assed did the recovery work, causing my life to suffer, as well as those around me too.

Just like Bonnie, I used to think that the only thing I needed to do in recovery was stay away from alcohol and drugs. But I never got much healthier in my mind and body for as long as I kept that attitude. Instead, I remained selfish, self-centered, self-seeking, and self-absorbed, simply because I wasn’t doing any of the work needed to rid myself of these type of character defects that underlie all addictions. Bonnie truly demonstrates this to a tee in “Mom” and is such an incredible mirror for the person I used to be so oblivious to being.

While I initially found a lot of humor in watching Bonnie act this way in earlier seasons, I now find myself not laughing at her antics anymore because it ultimately is quite sad to see any person live like this as their sober years grow. In my case, after repeated years of living as a dry drunk no different than Bonnie, friends began dropping out of my life and avoiding me. This hasn’t happened yet to Bonnie in the show, but I remember it happening to me oh so well. It took a lot of loneliness and hard-earned lessons to realize this and how recovery from any addiction is so much more than just remaining clean and sober. It’s about doing the necessary work to purge oneself of all unhealthy behaviors and becoming more of a selfless being than a selfish one. And while I know this show is purely meant to be a comedy and constantly pigeonholes Bonnie into a set of self-centered behaviors simply meant to evoke laughter, I only find sadness for her character and anyone who still acts like this in real life.

Yet, in light of me saying that, I’ve found such a tremendous amount of gratitude continuing to watch Bonnie remain this way, because I can clearly see who I once was but am no longer. Today I strive very hard to place everyone else’s needs, wants, and desires ahead of my own more than not. That’s probably why I find more of a connection in “Mom” to Bonnie’s sponsor Marjorie, who follows the 12 Step recovery program more to a tee, striving to be more selfless than selfish and giving more than taking.

So, while Bonnie’s character may no longer evoke laughter from me when she does all her self-centered behaviors week after week, I’m reminded quite vividly of how she’s merely a mirror into my own past dry drunkenness and because of that I’ve found an immense wealth of gratitude to God for how far I’ve come in my own life of recovery from addiction…

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Good day everyone and welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday, a day where I begin my week’s writing with one piece of gratitude I have in my life, which for today is for a company named MoviePass and for all the movies it helps me to see in theaters as well.

While I know this might sound like a strange thing to be grateful for, it’s really not if you knew how important going to the movies is to me. I probably head to the theater on average about twice a week and usually alone at that, but more on that in a minute, as I want to highlight where this hobby actually began.

Going to the movies started playing an important part in my life ever since I was a little kid. I can actually remember seeing films as far back as 5 years old when my family began driving us all in our station wagon to one of the local drive-ins (my hometown had five of them) on a Friday or Saturday night. We used to bring McDonald’s in with us and play at the playground there until the first feature began. When I became more able to sit still in a crowded theater, we started going to the many other theaters in the area as well and making family outings of it, especially when those James Bond movies hit the theaters. By the time I was 17, people started regularly seeking me out to ask what movies I recommended because I was seeing so many by that point. Up until my mid 20’s, I tended to favor watching straight up action, comedy, and horror movies more than not, but that all changed when I hit my 30’s and began to gravitate more towards dramas, romantic comedies, and much artsier fair. These days though, I’ve become rather open to seeing just about anything in a theater, so long as it’s not a film that over glorifies gun violence, bloodshed, nudity, or racism.

Nevertheless, in light of that, obviously you can see now why I’m grateful for my theater-going experience, but why MoviePass you may wonder? That’s simply because its program has helped me to save me an incredible amount of money in this weekly hobby. If you’ve never heard of MoviePass, it’s really no different than Netflix, other than it deals with watching films at a theater versus at home. All in all, it’s essentially a movie club that you pay either a monthly fee or a yearly one, which in doing so gives you the ability to see a movie per day in almost any theater for free (other than that monthly or yearly fee that is).

I was skeptical at first when a friend of mine signed up for this company because I thought it must be a scam. But when I discovered the owner was one of the co-founders of Netflix, which we all know how successful that’s become these days, I decided to sign up by paying a one-time $90 promotion that was running at the time. That was just around Thanksgiving last year and since then, I’ve seen more than 27 movies as of this writing and probably by years end, will have seen close to 100.

If I was to add up how much money I might normally spend out of pocket for the number of movies I see every year in theaters, it would be close to $1000 or more actually. With MoviePass though, I only had to spend that $90 up front and haven’t had to shell out anything else for a film since then. So many people have asked me how MoviePass makes money and ultimately it comes down to advertising opportunities and the company also tracking our statistics of the films we see, which for me I honestly don’t have any problem with either.

Regardless, while this may seem like such an odd thing to be grateful for, especially because I try to frame this blog as spiritual in nature, I do consider my movie going experience spiritual in nature as well. There have been so many movies over the years that moved my heart and soul so much so, that I actually cried and prayed to God under my breath while the movie was still running. Thus, I am incredibly grateful for my movie-going experiences because anything that helps to draw me closer to God is extremely important to me, especially in light of how challenging I have found it to be these days connecting with God due to my ongoing battles with chronic pain.

Hence, for a guy like me who isn’t able to work right now and not bringing in any type of weekly income, the emergence of something like MoviePass has been a God-send in my book. I don’t feel guilty anymore going to the theater as much as I once did, because I’m not spending dollar after dollar like I used to, to support this weekly habit.

So yes, I’m very much grateful for all the movies I’ve seen and continue to see in theaters and for the company MoviePass as well, as each has played a valuable part in helping me draw much closer to God on plenty of occasions, and that is truly something to have gratitude for if you ask me…

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Thank you for joining me in another Grateful Heart Monday where I begin each week by writing about one piece of gratitude I have, which for today is for the change in seasons and weather.

In this area, it’s actually relatively easy to find oneself complaining about the weather at various times of the year. During late October to early April, it’s often due to the cold, cloudy, and rain or snow-filled days, and during late April to early October, it’s often due to the emergence of allergies or hazy, hot, and humidity-filled days. The complaints especially seem to pile up about the weather when having to repeatedly do chores such as shovel snow, rake leaves, clean the gutters, or cut the grass. And of course, they tend to emerge as well during those sweltering summer nights or freezing-cold winter evenings in one’s own home when the air-conditioning or heat needs to be turned way up. But even more challenging here is how the weather gets so affected by Lake Erie. Because of the lake-effect, our forecasts from the local weather service become frequently erroneous and seem to be the exact opposite of what was originally predicted. Yet, in light of saying all that, I have an immense amount of gratitude for the weather here anyway. Why? Because if the weather was between 65 and 75 degrees every day with low humidity and perfectly clear, sunny skies, I believe it would become easy to complain about that too.

Nevertheless, I find it’s those long harsh winters that make me truly grateful for when those first stems of bulbs start to pop up out of the ground in the spring. It’s those heavy winter snowfalls that make me truly grateful for when those rainy spring downpours start to arrive. And It’s those endless sights of bare trees for months on end that make me truly grateful when those first warm and sunny days begin to bring forth an immersion in color of blooms all around me.

Of course, the reverse is true as well, as I find it’s those deeply sweltering and dry summer days that help me to find gratitude when those cool fall breezes finally arrive. It’s those constant sights of solid green trees during the summer abruptly giving way to reds, oranges, purples and more, usually right around the time when I start seeing my breath in the air, that help me to find gratitude too. And it’s when I see those first white flakes begin to drop out of the sky after long periods of rain and thunderstorms that help me to find some gratitude as well.

But, believe me when I say that I’ve been one of the guilty ones who’s complained at times about the weather over the years, especially due to all that unpredictability that comes with it here. Yet, the more I’ve thought about this, the more I’ve realized my gratitude actually comes from all that unpredictability. You see, it’s because of all our weather’s unpredictability that I’ve been able to see far more rainbows here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. It’s because of all our weather’s unpredictability I’ve been able to experience more spectacular thunderstorms and blizzards than anywhere else too. And it’s because of all our weather’s unpredictability I’ve been able to feel such an immense amount of peace and joy when one of those pleasantly warm and perfectly sunny-blue-sky days finally appear.

So, yes, I’m extremely grateful for our change in seasons and weather here and as I start this week off with this piece of gratitude, I find myself looking forward to those upcoming warm spring rains that I know are going to nourish the earth and begin to bring forth that explosion in color that our long winter has definitely kept subdued….

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