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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday where I start the week off in my writing with one piece of gratitude, which for today is for all the pets that each of us own or have owned in this world from time to time.

Currently, my partner and I own a cat named Smokey, who was abandoned by his mother near a dumpster in Franklin, Tennessee back in July of 2015. Thankfully, my sister rescued and nursed him back to health during his first year and a half before eventually bringing him to our home here in Toledo, Ohio. Ever since, I’ve been blessed by Smokey’s company and have found a tremendous amount of gratitude for him for three main reasons that I feel probably qualify for many other pet owners as well.

The first piece of gratitude is because Smokey offers me a ton of unconditional love. When I’m depressed, he always seems to know and tends to nudge me with his nose until I start petting him and when I do, he responds with very loud purrs that somehow are able to take away some of my sadness.

The second piece of gratitude is because Smokey is extremely playful. He really enjoys this game where I throw a small furry ball high up above his elevated perch, to which he then races up to grab it in mid-air, confidently putting it in his mouth after he does, then returns to wherever I am and drops it at my feet, waiting for the next go around. Why I treasure this and the rest of his playfulness is because it often helps to shift my attention away from the negative zone and onto a positive one.

Lastly, and most importantly, what I’m definitely the most grateful for overall with Smokey is his loyal companionship. In a world that often tends to feel so lonely to me sometimes, there are plenty of moments where having him follow me around from room to room, constantly meowing to get my attention to pick him up, that make me feel far less alone because of it.

I should also mention that prior to owning Smokey, my partner and I owned a cat named Driggs who was actually the pet that initially taught me how to unconditionally love. This cat was such an angry cat all the time at first with me. No matter how hard I tried to get her to love me, she always kept her distance. That was until I finally let go one day and stopped trying, because I was just in too much pain to care, when suddenly she jumped on top of me while I was lying on the couch, then kneaded a bed for herself on my stomach, and fell asleep purring. From that point forward, she always knew when I was having one of those high pain days, because she would meow until I’d lie down and make myself available for her to fall asleep on me. On some level, that action was always far better medicine than any pain-relieving pill could ever bring me.

Nevertheless, pets can be wonderful companions if we treat them well and show them the same type of love that I feel God brought them here to offer each of us. I have a ton of gratitude these days because of the two pets I’ve owned, who each found a way into my heart and soul in their own unique ways, which I’m sure can be said for countless others in this world when it comes to their own pets…

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

Grateful Heart Monday

I was so inspired by the movie “Love, Simon” that I decided to follow up last week’s review of that film with some gratitude for this week’s Grateful Heart Monday entry and it deals with the subject of that movie, that being of coming out of the closet.

Back in the spring of 1995, I was a scared young adult that was morbidly afraid to face any part of his true sexuality. I had been living like a chameleon so much so and keeping up the image of being something I wasn’t, that deep down inside, I was slowly dying a spiritual death, all because I was choosing to not be true to myself.

If it wasn’t for all of those who had come before me and braved taking their own steps out of the closet, I probably wouldn’t have ever come out of the closet. The combination of famous gay rights pioneers, as well as those who were everyday people, who openly declared they were gay and took the risk of emerging from their own closet, helped to pave the way for individuals just like me to do the same. I have much gratitude for each of them, especially those who worked on the LGBT front lines such as Harvey Milk, Harry Hay, John Fryer, Martina Navratilova, Troy Perry, and Richard Isay, to name a few.

But for as much as I appreciate those front-line people who made such a big impact in the gay rights movement to help people feel safer to come out of the closet, it really was all those I met early on who were openly gay in the bowling leagues I joined or the MCC churches I went to or the social clubs I became a part of that made the biggest impact on my life to be true to myself and my sexuality.

Over the years ever since, I’ve found a lot of gratitude for the multitude of folks who continue to take the same step as I did and come out of the closet themselves. Each has made it a far less fear-inducing process for others to follow.

I think it’s just as important to give due credit to all those famous singers, actors and actresses, athletes, political activists, writers, and more who have even put their careers on the line over the years to not only be true to themselves, but also help others who are still closeted out of fear. Ellen Degeneres, Anderson Cooper, Zachary Quinto, Ellen Page, Laverne Cox, Frank Ocean, Neil Patrick Harris, Jodie Foster, Lance Bass, George Takei, Wentworth Miller, and Lee Daniels are just some of those who come to mind.

Lastly, I want to offer one last piece of gratitude with this subject for all those who have braved the leaving of the closeted world behind even further by showing public affection to those they are dating or spending their lives with. My partner and I aren’t totally there yet, especially not in the area where we live, where there are far too many conservative and right-winged people who make it extremely difficult to feel safe enough to do things like this yet. But hopefully one day, we will.

And hopefully one day, we all will live in a world where it won’t matter anymore what one’s sexuality is and that the process of coming out of the closet is nothing more than declaring I’m gay” and having no fear about it. Until then, it comes down to each of us taking those fearful steps forward of becoming fully true to ourselves, as it’s each of us who must pave the wave for others to feel safe enough to come out of the closet.

That’s why I am overly grateful for each and every individual in this world who has already braved this journey and found not only freedom for their own soul by coming out of the closet, but also creating a pathway for others to find that freedom too…

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