Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where I begin my week reflecting on a single piece of gratitude to start things off on a positive note, which for today is for finishing an entire year of Grateful Heart Monday entries.

Exactly one year ago, I began writing under this new category in my blog to become more thankful in my life, as I had been finding it rather difficult to feel that due to all my health issues. While it’s been far easier to practice daily gratitude in my evening journal, where I write out ten sentences of things I’m appreciative of, expounding on any single one of them for an entire article proved to be way more challenging. Yet, I took that task on and kept to it for an entire year, and it indeed has helped to keep my outlook much more positive.

In my world, being grateful is sometimes extremely challenging, especially when my physical pain levels rise as high as they often do and my coinciding mental and emotional state become as frayed as it does. Thus, as I end one year of Grateful Heart Mondays and begin the next, I want to thank all the subjects of my prior entries one last time, as it was each of them that truly helped me to achieve this important feat.

So, with that, I’m ultimately grateful for my five years of nonstop blog writing, for still having my eyesight and hearing, for my dedicated and monogamous partner Chris, for never being homeless, for my continuous sobriety and recovery, for all the therapists, counselors and psychologists that have helped me along the way, for all those in customer service positions who’ve aided my many troubles, for the ManKind Project that has shown me how to be a much healthier spiritual male, for all those who’ve braved that step in walking out of a closet that’s helped many others including me, for all the pets who’ve helped their many owners especially my cats Driggs and Smokey, for the awesome beauty I’ve seen throughout the changes of seasons and weather, for all the movies I went to that were such a healthy outlet and much-needed reprieve, for the character Bonnie in “Mom” who has taught me a lot through her role in the show, for the spiritual journey I’ve had with God since the beginning, for my sister Laura who has always stood by my side and never given up on me, for each of my sponsees that have believed in me and blossomed from the work we’ve done together, for my spiritual teacher Manin who taught me quite beautifully much of what’s kept me going in all this darkness, for always maintaining my honesty and integrity no matter what, for being true to my sexuality even in the face of adversity, for Bobby Beans my dear friend who’s since passed on that kept me sane in early recovery, for my 46thbirthday and 23 years of sobriety that were two things I never thought I’d ever make it to, for Cedric my best friend in the world who keeps on demonstrating what unconditional love looks like, for my parents Pamela and Lew who helped me learn so many valuable spiritual lessons, for all those from the Massachusetts 12-Step recovery community who constantly gave me a reason to keep going and helped me to truly see that recovering light, for a friend’s daughter who had a God-encounter that reminded me when I most needed it that God is still around, for the much-appreciated lessons I learned through an Ann Arbor men’s spiritual group I once was a part of, for all the fun I had playing plenty of games of mini-golf with so many different friends, for having learned how to be ok with spending time with just myself, for a boat ride to and from a small island named Put-In-Bay that felt totally protected by God, for a woman named Jean-Marie who took the time to provide me a much-needed reminder that the words in my blogs really do help others, for Jeff Foster, a writer that provided some great insight about healing and pain, for all those who haven’t offered me advice surrounding my health and instead held space and showed deep compassion, for Jesus Christ and his teachings that continue to help me keep moving forward with love and light, for my first sponsor Lorraine who taught me everything I know in 12-Step recovery, for a random guy in AA who was once assigned to my probation in college that forever shifted my course in life for the better, for Randy who never stopped loving me even when I really didn’t deserve it, for a television show named God Friended Me that always seems to uplift me week after week, for the unconditional love and acceptance I’ve received since day one from my AA home group Perrysburg Staying Sober, for my 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid that has kept running and become such a priceless vehicle to me in so many ways, for a fun day trip to Cedar Point that was my first amusement park visit in over eight years, for a place I volunteer at named Rescue Crisis that has given me a huge purpose to keep helping others, for a perfect weather Halloween that had a crackling fire and tons of trick-or-treaters, for the life I’ve been given even through all its ups and downs, for all the kindness and trustworthiness I received from the Alexis Road Tireman store and Jim White Toyota, for Merle’s holiday party where I received love and acceptance from a former AA group I once attended, for a laptop I was freely given by Michael during a time of great need, for the loving connection I had visiting my sister’s family over Christmas, for completing a 2-day fast that opened my heart to greater compassion for those still starving on this planet, and for my Grandmother’s Elsa and Kathleen who were two wonderful women that shaped so much of my life for the better.

I thank God for each of these things, as they’ve filled my entries from one week to the next with all the love they truly deserved and I thank each of you as well, for continuing to take this grateful journey along with me. May Grateful Heart Monday become a thing for each of you moving forward, as it will aid your spiritual journeys in life like I know it has definitely done for mine…

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday where I reflect each week upon a piece of gratitude to start my week off on a positive note, which for today is dedicated to my Grandmother’s Elsa and Kathleen, two women who left me plenty of wonderful memories.

My two Grandmothers couldn’t have been any more different. With my Mother’s mother Kathleen, she was super-athletic and someone who had incredible energy all the time. She really was quite the boisterous one as well. I fondly remember her always able to hold her two fingers in her mouth and whistle so loud it made my ears hurt. It was her special call to get me to come home whenever I was visiting her home in Houston, Texas. She loved bowling, golf, basketball, baseball and more and would engage in each of those sports with me when I was a young kid. With my parents not being overly athletic, it was nice having a family member who would do things like shoot some hoops with me. My Grandmother also had an infectious laugh that would light up any room and I honestly can’t remember a time when she wasn’t smiling and happy. I loved spending time with her at her house on Lake Houston, where she’d tell stories, catch up with the latest sports news, and do Jumble puzzles with me.

Ironically, my Father’s mother Elsa was almost the total opposite of her though. Reserved, elegant, and deeply intuitive, most of my time with her was spent introspectively. We often talked current events while enjoying homemade popovers and oatmeal every morning whenever I visited her home in Glen Cove, NY. She made the best Thanksgiving dinners too and I loved sitting at any table with her while eating my meals because she always had so many interesting things to talk about during them. She was ultimately someone who brought out my intellect in many ways, including taking me to theater, exposing me to the arts, and dining out at a number of fancy restaurants. I mustn’t forget our many visits to her local beach on the Long Island Sound and teaching me a number of card games as well. But I do need to give her credit to the one athletic thing she did do that seemed almost contrary to her personality, that being her ability to play ping-pong. She was pretty fierce whenever we’d play and she taught me every trick in the game.

So, as you can see, I have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to my Grandmothers because each helped me to become much of who I am today. Truthfully, I sometimes think I miss them more than my own parents because I never experienced any major drama with either of them and they always saw the best in me, rather than constantly telling me I could do better. Kathleen was my sports fan and an avid supporter of my talent in swimming and basketball, while Elsa was there for my scholastic achievements. While I know my parents were proud of me in their own way and did the best they could, it’s my Grandmothers who constantly made sure to remind me whenever I was with them how special I was. That’s probably why my visits to both of their homes over the years are some of my best memories in life thus far. They certainly left me a legacy of warm love and memories that still to this day, decades after their deaths, I can remember fondly and for that I am truly grateful for them both…

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

Grateful Heart Monday

As we start another week, it’s time for a new Grateful Heart Monday entry, which for today is for completing a two-day, water-only fast just after Christmas and for never having had to go without food in this life.

We all know how easy it is to consume vast quantities of food and drinks, especially all those delicious things that are filled with lots of sugar and carbohydrates during the Christmas time frame. I had my fair share of consuming them myself including a ton of holiday lattes, cakes, pies, and plenty of other high caloric items. Not that I really have a need at this time to be overly concerned about my weight, given I’m more underweight than anything, I still need to be concerned about the quality of things I’m consuming on a daily basis, especially because of all my ongoing health issues.

But like most people, I forget about all that during the Thanksgiving to Christmas time frame and tend to overindulge more than not and tend to pay the price in my body because of it. So, as I made my way back from visiting my sister on the day after Christmas, I wasn’t feeling all that well in my own skin. Rather, I felt all the results of my consistent indulging throughout my body, in my mood, and ultimately in my overall being and decided to do a two-day fast where I’d drink nothing but water.

What’s funny about that is how it doesn’t sound all that difficult to do, to simply go two full days without food and to drink nothing but water, but it really wasn’t. Sure, when one’s sick, like with a cold or flu, it’s easy to not want to eat, even for several days, because the cravings aren’t there and the sight of food often makes a person feel even more nauseous inside. But, I didn’t feel sick or nauseous after Christmas was over, I just felt like I had been quite gluttonous a little too much for a little too long and was completely uncomfortable in my own skin. That’s probably why I had no problem completing the first 12 hours of my fast. But once my stomach was fully on empty, and once those deep hunger cravings truly began, is when I really became aware of how challenging even a two-day fast can be when only water is being consumed.

For a guy like me who burns a lot of calories usually pretty quickly, it didn’t take long for me to start thinking about quitting the fast before the first of two days had even passed. And with each passing hour where my stomach pains continued to hurt a whole heck of a lot, I realized there were far more people in this world who don’t have a choice to avoid feeling pain like that. That’s when I opted to use that pain and emptiness to ask God for the strength to keep my personal commitment because I wanted to be more aware of all those people who do go through hunger every single day and don’t have any other option.

It is estimated that some 815 million people are starving and it’s something that too many of us tend to forget about, especially during the holiday season when food seems to be in such abundance for a good majority of us. Thus, as I went through the latter half of the first day and into the second day, and got bad headaches, felt totally exhausted, and highly irritable as well, I thought of every single one of those food-deprived people in the world who have to endure feeling like that every, single, day.

So, while my two-day fast was initially meant to just cleanse me a little from a gluttonous holiday season, what it really did, was bring about a greater awareness of one suffering on this planet that is far too often overlooked. Thus, when I finally ate my first bit of food after having nothing but water for two straight days, I offered God my gratitude for always having had an abundance of food in my life. But far more importantly, gratitude for also experiencing, even if it was just for a short bit of time, something that over 815 million people suffer from regularly, as I now have a greater understanding and deeper compassion for all of them…

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