Finding The Good Memories From Childhood

It seems like the older I get, the more I miss my childhood, which is rather funny given how much I couldn’t stand my childhood when I was growing up. Such irony right? My mind tends to think this way usually when my pain levels are quite high. It remembers the moments of fun I had in my youth, but it tends to also forget about the depth of pain I went through during all that time as well.

Pain such as the loneliness of having very few friends, watching my parents fight over and over again about everything, seeing them drink alcohol too much, dealing with a father’s constant attempts at suicide, facing rigid rules by a very controlling mother, being bullied at school, struggling with my sexuality in the closet, hiding the fact that I was molested by an adult male, and a number of other things as well.

But there is one thing I must say I’m grateful for and that’s the fact I can even remember these days the good times I did have during my childhood. To me that says I must be healing because there was a time when all I could think about when I thought about my childhood was the pain I endured and nothing more.

Somewhere along the lines in recent years I began to recollect the things I did enjoy as a child and I think the only reason why those memories started to materialize is because of all the wreckage I worked on clearing away. Living in recovery from addiction, going to therapy, and pursuing other organizations for spiritual development helped me to remove much of the pain and resentment I carried into my adulthood and that in turn seems to have cleared the way to having better memories. That’s why I must thank God today for having a lot fonder thoughts of a time in my life that once was so extremely painful.

I thank God for remembering plenty of ice cream treats from the ice cream truck on hot summer days, for huge games of kick the can, for those annual vacations we took to Myrtle Beach, for the hundreds of mini-golf games we played there, for all the fun swims I had in our backyard pool, for the hikes I often took with my father, for the snowmen and snowball fights we had in those stormy winters, for the cookouts we had out on our deck, for the game nights we occasionally enjoyed together, for all the ping-pong battles we had in our basement, for the singing of Christmas carols while playing our piano, for those pizza nights out at a place named Dick Sarah’s, for other surprise dinners out to new places, for the many around-the-world games of basketball we played in our driveway, and so much more. I’m grateful to have all these good memories now, and although I wouldn’t want to go back and relive my childhood again, I at least can remember it with greater fondness now.

So if you’re like I once was, where all that can be remembered are the terrible things that happened growing up, I encourage you to draw closer to your Higher Power and work on clearing away all that negative energy from within you. As I’m sure in doing so, you too will find a weight lifted off of your chest and memories flooding back in of times that really were fun.

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

God And Me In A Driver’s Education Car

Do you remember those driver education cars? You know the ones where there’s a second brake in the passenger seat for the instructor to use if needed. Lately I feel like I’m in one of those cars, except my role is reversed. I’m in the passenger seat and my instructor, God, is driving.

Since turning my will and life over to God and trusting that God has a far better plan than any one I ever tried to make for myself, the rides in this spiritual car have often been very challenging. Sometimes the road we’re on is way too bumpy. Other times it feels far too windy or steep. And then there’s plenty of moments where I feel like God is going exceptionally over the speed limit.

Because of this, I’ve occasionally tried to hit that second brake, but I’ve realized something every time I do. It’s usually due to me not trusting that I’m safe and in good hands. The funny thing is that I don’t even think the brake on my side of the car works. On some level I actually feel it’s only there to give me the illusion I’m taking control, but the reality is I’m really not. Thus I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s only one real way for me to leave the car if I truly want to and that’s to jump out.

I’m sure you can imagine how painful it would be in real life to jump from a moving car, especially one that’s going around hairpin turns, travelling up steep hills, or racing along at high speeds. I’ve never done it myself but I know there’s a pretty strong chance I’d be seriously injured if I ever did.

I think the same principle applies to this spiritual car I’m sitting in right now. God has given me free will to get out of the car if I want. But doing so in my world would be equivalent to going back to addictions or finding someone or something else to try to fix me in an easier, softer way. Yet, so far none of these attempts in any of the prior moments of my life have ever quite worked out. In fact, most ended with disastrous results.

Thus I’ve come to the conclusion that the best course of action for me is to remain firmly seated, buckled up, and keep the faith in my Driver. I can’t promise that I may not attempt to hit the brake on my side a few more times as we continue forward on this journey together, even if it doesn’t actually do anything. After all, trusting fully in God can often be an extremely difficult thing to do, especially when you don’t ultimately know the direction your vehicle is heading in.

Nevertheless, I know that God is a far better driver than I am. So I’m going to keep trusting that we’re heading in the right direction and are safe. I just look forward to when we actually reach the next resting place, as I know that while there, I’ll be able to stretch my body and feel at much greater peace than I ever have before…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Saying Goodbye To Manipulation

I used to play games with people’s minds a lot which was extremely toxic to my spiritual being. One of those tactics when I did so was to push and pull someone through various manipulative behaviors just to keep them chasing after me. Thankfully I haven’t done this in a very long time, but now the tables have turned on me, as I’ve been experiencing the same thing from someone else for a good while and because of this, I understand why this behavior is so unhealthy.

About three years ago I met someone here in my area who initially was quite enjoyable to be around. We spent a lot of time together early on but then their behavior began to abruptly change. I noticed it emerge when I wasn’t available to spend time with them. Given the fact that I’m in a full-time relationship with a partner, I don’t have the free time to hang around someone like I would if I were single. So when those times occurred where I was busy, they would become angry with me and give me guilt trips about not making enough effort to hang out with them. When that manipulation didn’t work, they went to further extremes by avoiding my phone calls, sending angry text messages, or even removing me from Facebook. Eventually, I gave in to those tactics and reconnected with them, attempting to make a greater effort. When it happened a second time, one would think I had had enough. But given the changes I’ve gone through in life with God who helped me see these behaviors in myself, I gave them a third chance. Sadly, it happened again, which is why I finally decided it was time to say goodbye for good to their manipulation.

The bottom line is that pushing and pulling someone’s strings through manipulative behaviors to get one’s way is extremely unhealthy and toxic. I should know as I did it for far too long and all it did for me was drive people away, leaving me utterly alone. I think that’s why I actually have compassion and feel sad for this person. They don’t understand what they’re doing, as I never did either when I engaged in these same type of manipulative behaviors. Often I only saw things from my point of view. In other words, I was so selfish and self-centered that I ultimately believed I had to control my friends through unhealthy manipulation just to keep them around. But it never worked. Pushing and pulling a person through manipulative actions did nothing other than leave me in a place of emptiness and aloneness. And continuing to do so only created more distance between myself and God.

That’s why it’s my hope that this friend will one day see within themselves that which I did within myself not too long ago. But until they do, I know it’s best for me to say goodbye to them and their manipulation, because sticking around and allowing myself to keep dealing with it is only going to bring harm upon my own health, my healing and my connection to God and those are three things I’m not willing to sacrifice anymore in life…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Helping The Handicapped

While I don’t know what it feels like to be confined to a wheelchair for life at the present time, I definitely have compassion for those who are, especially this middle-aged man who asked for my and one of my sponsees help the other day.

We were standing outside in a parking garage at a local hospital talking for a few minutes after a recovery meeting had ended when this man rolled by in his wheelchair on his way to his handicap-accessible van. I half noticed out of the corner of my eye some frustration being vented from him while I continued my conversation with my sponsee when suddenly he shouted over to us and asked for our help.

Unfortunately, a motorcycle had parked illegally next to him and was blocking his access to the wheelchair ramp into his van. He asked if we could roll the bike backwards enough to free up that access, which we promptly did and I could tell how grateful he was afterwards. But at the same time, he was also explicitly angry at whomever owned the bike and I understood that. I in fact just went through something similar the other day with someone who was totally oblivious to my own limitations and treated me accordingly.

What’s interesting about all this is how I used to be one of those ignorant people myself when it came to those with disabilities and handicaps. I used to place my own needs, wants, and desires in front of showing compassion and respect for those who were less fortunate with their health. There were times I too probably blocked access to a handicap spot or even parked in one because it was close to where I needed to go without even thinking of who might be affected by those actions.

Until one becomes disabled or handicapped, it’s hard to understand the mindset of one who is. It’s hard to think about how life for them has plenty of more challenges, especially when all the parts of the body aren’t working correctly to help oneself in various situations like this gentleman who only wanted to get into his vehicle.

That’s why I’m actually grateful I’ve gone through as much humility and hardship in my life as I have in the past bunch of years, because I don’t think I’d be as compassionate and caring and respectful as I am towards people nowadays, notably those who are worse off than I in the disability department. I’m sure that’s also why I tend to always notice the people who are in wheelchairs, missing limbs, or hobbling along in life and I’m thankful I do because I know that God can use me at any point to help them now just like God did in a hospital parking garage the other day…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“An Invisible Illness”

I think probably the hardest thing I deal with on a daily basis in regards to the health issues I continue to face is the fact that no one can see what I’m going through. The term used by most professionals for this very thing is called “An Invisible Illness.”

On the outside, I look perfectly healthy and normal. I’m not on crutches. I’m not in a wheelchair. I’m not deformed looking. I don’t limp (on most days). I’m not shaking or have any visible impediments. The bottom line is that I’m an average-looking person who appears pretty healthy to most bystanders. In fact, many even think I look like I’m in my 30’s and are quite shocked to hear that I’m actually 44 years old. But sadly, on the inside I feel on most days like I’m about 80 years old. My muscles hurt all the time and I deal with a number of other uncomfortable things where each are totally invisible to the human eye. Regrettably, I occasionally have to go through struggles with people who don’t know this about me.

Case in point, I went to the movies recently and sat at the very top row of the theater close to the exit door on the 2nd floor, where there (a) was a bathroom just outside and (b) an area where I can stand up and stretch if I needed to during the film. Anywhere else in a theater generally poses a problem for me, especially when I’m forced to sit in the middle of a row.

So as I sat at the end of this row at the back of the theater the other day waiting for the movie to start, a man walked up to me and said “Sorry to bother you man, but do you have someone coming that is in a wheelchair?” I answered nicely and said I didn’t, but that I had some health issues that I needed to sit where I was. His response to that wasn’t so nice. He said “Whatever dude, whatever you got to tell yourself.”

Ironically, the wheelchair-bound person he was referring to was already there in another area of the top row sitting next to his wife. But he and a few others who were related to these two were wanting to sit where I was because it was more in the center of the screen. In other words, he was trying to use his family’s members handicap as a means to justify his request of me, instead of even once considering that maybe I truly did have a disability at the present time as well.

But how could he? He saw nothing on me that would seem I did. Even worse, I had to watch him eye me up and down and stare at me every time I stood up or walked out of the theater from that point forward, judging to see if I really looked like I was hurting or not. Because of this, I then felt I needed to purposely limp and put my hands on my back to show how much I really was hurting inside each time I did. You might find it interesting though to know that I would have actually given my seat up if another wheelchair had come in and needed a place for their companion to sit next to them.

Nevertheless, I’ve learned through all my health issues that what the eyes can see don’t always mean they’ll going to understand what’s happening inside someone being observed. What I deal with on most days is truly invisible to the naked eye, except to myself and my Higher Power, which is God.

So while I may not be on crutches or wheelchair-bound or show any demonstrable signs of any illness or chronic-pain, my reason for writing today’s entry is just to let people know there are others out there like me who are suffering, who are in pain, and who are disabled, but you’ll never know it. So try to not judge when you see someone in a disabled area when they don’t appear to be disabled because you ultimately don’t know what they’re truly dealing with. Instead, try letting go and letting God be the one to judge because an invisible illness is something your eyes are always going to be blind to, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Neighbor’s Overgrown Yard And Letting Go

Have you ever had a neighbor who doesn’t take care of their yard one bit? I do and they live directly across the street from me. It’s been since the beginning of May when they last cut their grass and cleaned up anything outside and that was only because the city had served them a notice to do so. What’s ironic though is how I’m actually ok with seeing this jungle across the street every day, because a year ago I know I wasn’t.

The level of my letting go and abstaining from controlling-based actions has definitely improved over the past year. I mean a mere year ago, I used to go out into my own yard and pick up every single leaf each time I glanced out the window and saw one had blown onto it. Yes, I truly was that controlling. But in regards to this neighbor’s unkempt yard, a year ago I was one of those who constantly talked about this to all the other neighbors, stirring people up about it, and becoming more and more disturbed each time I did. Thankfully though, I’m not doing that anymore because it doesn’t seem to be bothering me now.

I know this might sound like such a simple thing to let go of, but for a guy who was such a control-freak for most of his life, letting things go like this was always so difficult. But given all the struggles I’ve had with my health, I’ve been working hard to let go of things that have nothing to do with me, such as a neighbor’s overgrown yard, knowing in doing so will only increase my health and well-being. I’ve been praying quite a bit for God to help me achieve this and I believe my prayers are being received and answered given the way I feel now when I look across the street.

While some of my other neighbors are still calling the city and complaining about this yard on a weekly basis, I’m choosing just to accept it and send love and light to those who live there instead. I have no idea why they don’t take care of their yard, but frankly, I know now there’s no point in getting upset about something I have no real control over.

So thank you God for helping me to let go of control in greater and greater ways every day such as with things like my neighbor’s overgrown yard. And I continue to pray to You for help me in doing the same with everything else in my life, especially when it comes to my health and healing. Because I ultimately know the more I let go of control and let You run my life instead, the more peace and joy I will feel in the long run…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Relating To Cutters And Control

I’ve never done the act of cutting myself, which is the process of where a person takes a sharp object such as a razor blade and places small incisions on parts of their body and subsequently watches them bleed, all for the purposes of relieving emotional pain they are feeling inside. While I may never have done that act specifically, I can still relate to those that have because at times I find myself picking at spots on parts of my body, trying to remove them, usually with little to no success, and instead causing nothing more than me bleeding from a self-inflicted wound. So why do I do this? And how does this relate to what a cutter may go through? Well ultimately I feel it comes down to control and sheer frustration over the emotions going on within.

You see in my case, I’ve been going through an ordeal with my health and healing for some time now. For whatever the reason, my journey to greater health has been a difficult one where my body constantly seems to be going through very painful transitions to get there. While I have gotten better in some areas, others are taking far longer than I’d like and sometimes I just get so frustrated by the emotional despair I feel inside over that. When I do, I occasionally have found myself suddenly picking at things I can see on the outside of me in an attempt to control some part of the healing process I’m going through.

Just the other day for example, I had been really struggling with my level of physical pain when I saw a few spots on my back in the mirror that were most likely signs of aging. But they overwhelmed me so much that I started digging at them with my fingernail, trying desperately to remove them, only to cause more problems for myself. And where I ended up after that was me crying profusely and praying to God for relief from all that I’ve been going through. On some level, the act created a release point for all the pent up frustration I felt inside in that moment.

Why I feel like this relates to a cutter is only for the fact that I’ve known a few of them over the years. Take this person I once knew who used to cut themselves after engaging in homosexual contact. Deep down they didn’t know how to reconcile the pain they had over their sexual identity or the fact that they had been molested at a pretty young age. So every time they had a gay sexual encounter, their emotional imbalance over that part of themselves would surface. They then would often begin cutting themselves because it was the only way they knew how to control and release the emotional pain they felt inside.

So as in this person’s case or in mine, it comes down to acts of control. I tend to believe the only remedy for that is to let go and let God and some days I’m better at doing that than others.  But ultimately I know that whether it’s cutting, picking or hurting oneself in any way, shape, or form, it’s never a healthy action.

It’s pretty humbling for me to write about this and how my own actions relate to those who cut themselves, but when you’ve endured physical pain for as long as I have, the emotions run pretty high inside. Yet I know that cutting oneself or even picking at things on the body to the point of bleeding is not even close to an act of unconditional love. Truly it is actually the exact opposite of that. And I know it’s something God is probably sad about every time He sees it happen with anyone.

This is why I have compassion now for even those who cut themselves. Because those that do, must have some pretty deep-seated pain to drive them to that act. Thus it’s my prayer and hope that anyone who is inflicting any pain to themselves no matter how small it is, finds solace in God, because ultimately, I know that has been the only healthy solution I’ve found to help me release my own pain…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Mortality And Vanity

Mortality. It’s something I’ve really been facing over the past year of my life and something I’ve been having a lot of difficulty with. I’ve noticed my body isn’t bouncing back as quickly anymore with things such as bruises, cuts, and such. I’ve seen wrinkles appear in more and more places. Veins on multiple parts of my body are protruding far greater now. Aging spots are beginning to appear. And scars are showing themselves more prevalently these days, even ones I didn’t even know I had.

Why is this so hard for me?

Well if you noticed, all of the things I just mentioned that are getting to me are superficial, meaning on the outside of me. And that’s exactly why it’s been so hard because I really have been a very vain person for much of my adulthood. I know this is something I’ve written about before and something that continues to challenge me day in and day out. But I felt I needed to write about it again since it’s been bothering me so much as of late.

The truth is, I programmed far too much of my adult life to focus mostly on how good I looked on the outside rather than doing some much-needed spiritual work within. In the last four years though, I’ve truly worked hard on growing my spiritual life, yet the one thing that still seems to elude me is acceptance of what’s happening more and more on the outside as I grow older. In fact, instead of accepting it, I’ve done the exact opposite at times and on some level, you might find it rather comical, especially with the following reference I often compare my behavior to.

Have you ever watched the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding before or seen its sequel that came out recently? There is an older gentleman in both movies who is always using Windex to fix just about everything including even spraying it on his hip to help with his arthritis. In my case, my Windex is actually Tea Tree Oil.

I’ve gone through plenty of vials of this oil in recent years, putting in on everything that appears on my skin that appears to be abnormal in my mind. Always hoping it will remove it as quick as possible. While many times it actually has, there’s also been some not-so-good results as well. I’ve actually burned my skin in a bunch of areas and left permanent blemishes there because of it, which has only propelled my mortality fears even more.

Trying to break this fear of aging and how I look on the outside is proving to be quite challenging that’s for sure. And while I know it might sound ludicrous to you, the fact remains, spending the better part of 20 years thinking the best side of myself was how I looked has created some serious negative programming and impacted how I feel about mortality.

I must say though I have gotten a little better lately with all of this, finding some success with acceptance when things appear on the outside of me that are involved with the aging process. I have placed the Tea Tree Oil in my storage room and have only been accessed it a few times as compared to how I used to access it every single day.

I have to laugh at myself as I continue to write about this because it totally exposes a huge character defect within me that I’m sure at some point down the road I’m going to look back on this and see how silly it was. But for now, I’m working hard on erasing this negative programming and doing what I can to accept my mortality with grace.

I know what’s most important is what’s on the inside and that’s why I’m writing about this. Because I find that the more I get honest with myself in my writing, the more I do the work to spiritually grow and change these parts of me that no longer mesh with what I feel my Higher Power’s calling is for me.

So while I do believe mortality is an important thing to deal with and face as I continue to grow older, I think it’s also something that doesn’t need to involve a lot of stress and worry, especially when it comes to the outer appearance of myself. I know that’s going to take a little more work on my part to fully deprogram all these vanity issues, but at least for now, I’m getting honest with myself and accepting that at least one aspect of mortality doesn’t have to have such power over me…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Cancelled Trip That Came From Knowing My Limits

I had to cancel a small overnight trip the other day that was originally planned as a birthday gift for my partner. It was something I know we both were looking forward to, but unfortunately, my health hasn’t reached a level yet where I feel comfortable travelling anywhere. My partner agreed with me and so we postponed it until the fall.

When I actually made these plans a few months ago, I was beginning to see small signs of progress that led me to make an assumption I’d be in a good enough place of health when the day of the trip rolled around. Sadly, my assumption was slightly off. While I know there are plenty who would probably still go on the trip no matter how they felt, I haven’t had much success in doing that in any of the last few trips I’ve taken.

Travelling involves expelling a lot of energy and having a lot of mobility for me, especially when there’s a long plane or car ride involved. For this trip specifically, there would have been some extended car travel to get there and a good amount of walking once there as well, neither of which I’m able to fully handle yet.

To be perfectly honest, It’s truly frustrating continuing to be in this spot with my health and healing, given how long I’ve been working on improving it. But healing in the way I am is grossly different than how many people these days seem to deal with their health.

Usually the first line of treatment for most when any ache or pain or some other health issue arises is to take some over-the-counter remedy, hoping it will provide the necessary amelioration. But when it doesn’t, it’s usually off to the doctors where stronger medications are prescribed. This was my own pattern of healing for the longest long time, but I never got better doing it. I eventually realized I was only putting Band-Aids on deeper-seated issues every time I put a pill in my mouth. Even worse, I learned in doing so that my body is super-sensitive to most medications and I got more side effects then benefits.

That’s why I use the holistic approach these days and am doing what I can to trust in my own body to naturally heal itself. And of course that involves some of my own work too, primarily on the mental and emotional level. But so far this has been a slow process and one at times I have wished I could really speed up, except healing naturally often does take a lot more time than what the ego wants. This is precisely why I think over-the-counter drugs and prescribed medications are frequently the course of treatment for so many like it once was for me.

But now it’s not for me anymore. Instead, I sit through the pain and trust as best as I can that my body is self-healing itself. This means I don’t take painkillers or any medications to curb symptoms and that alone makes what I go through all the more challenging, particularly when it comes to going on a trip somewhere out of town. Thus this is why I came to acceptance that cancelling this overnight trip was for my highest good at the present time.

I am grateful for knowing and accepting my current limits in life due to my health because in the past I would have just given in to my ego and done what I could to push myself beyond them, only to suffer a lot more on my trip than if I hadn’t gone. But more importantly, I absolutely remain faithful in my Higher Power and the healing forces within me that I will eventually be travelling again like I once used to on a regular basis, once my health gets a little better. Because I know it will. It’s just going to take a little more time and a little more patience…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Waiting, Waiting, And More Waiting On God…

In a few weeks, I’ll be 44 years old and yet I feel like I’ve lived for far longer. What I’ve endured, what I’ve seen, what I’ve done, and how I’ve lived seems to have filled the shoes of multiple lives for multiple people. Yet, somehow, it’s only been 44 years where I’ve experienced as much as I have.

So is there a reason why I’ve experienced as much as I have in such a short period of time? Has God brought me through as much as I have for some greater purpose that I just don’t know about yet? Or am I just living in some crazy illusion, waiting for something to happen that’s never going to materialize?

I know so many people believe that we just need to go out there and create our own future, that we just need to figure it all out on our own, but I’m not so sure of that. I tried that through most of my 44 years of existence and other than enjoying moments where I was living it up through plenty of self-indulgence, I came up with nothing, other than a lot of misery, dead-ends, loneliness, and many painful experiences.

What if it’s really all about teamwork with God?

What if there’s times of waiting on God and times of acting for God?

I’m going to speak specifically on those times of waiting though.

What if those times of waiting are often unheeded by us because we’re so dam impatient? Isn’t that the human condition? Things don’t come fast enough or in the way our mind’s want, so we go out there and try to make it happen in the way we think things should be. I can’t speak for anyone else on this, but I sure do know for myself that I’ve never found success following this pattern of thinking.

So I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Waiting on my health to improve. Waiting on God for the next step because I don’t see it yet. And I do believe that God will show me it when it’s time and when I’m ready for it. But in the meantime, my ego has been screaming at me, friends have been telling me I’m insane, some have even gone so far as saying that God’s probably waiting on me to take action.

The truth is…I really don’t know if I’m making the right choice to keep waiting. What I do know though is that waiting is an action, it’s just not one many people take on this planet, especially when it comes to God. Regardless, some part of me says it’s what I must keep on doing. That I must keep on doing what I’m doing to heal, to grow more spiritual, to love more unconditionally, to be like Christ, body, mind, and soul. Maybe all of what I am doing are the actions that God wants me to be doing? Maybe it’s just my ego that says there needs to be more, just because it’s not happy where my life is at in the present moment.

Nevertheless, there are many known spiritual figures throughout history who also took a similar path of waiting by just working on their spiritual health and spiritual condition and eventually found themselves on the greater path they were always meant to be on. So on some level, I’m trying to follow in their shoes.

I think that’s a good thing because I’m truly quite different today from who I once was, as the old me would have given up on waiting on God long ago. But I’m not that person anymore. I’m something different. I’m someone different. I just don’t know yet who that is and who I’m becoming, yet I believe it’s a far better person than I ever could have been by continuing to take action after action that my ego led me to take.

So as I continue to wait upon God, I wait for guidance and direction. I wait because I know what not waiting did for me. I wait because I know what going out there and doing what I think I need to do did for me. I wait because somewhere within me, deep within me, is a yearning, for something greater, something that I believe will only come through waiting, waiting on God…and sometimes I think that’s the hardest task any of us will ever face in life…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

Learning To Listen To My Inner Guidance

For as much as I believe it’s important to be there for others on a regular basis, I think it’s just as important to make sure I take care of myself and sometimes that involves removing myself from things that aren’t feeling all that healthy for my spiritual growth. Unfortunately, I’ve often stayed with those unhealthy things for far too long, hoping they’ll get better as time goes on. But generally, what I’ve found when I’ve stuck it out is that they usually only grow worse.

In the past, this most frequently presented itself with friends and intimate relationships. Rather than listen to my inner guidance and allow those warning signs from within tell me that someone wasn’t healthy for me to be around, I’d consistently listen to my ego instead by saying things will improve over time, but most never did. And regardless of how much work I put into those connections, it was almost as if each of them had a life expectancy that I just never wanted to pay attention to. Eventually after repeatedly going through this, I became more willing to see that my spiritual health and growth was far more important than waiting around for a friendship or relationship to improve.

Nowadays, I’m facing a similar challenge in this taking care of myself department and it falls under the realm of my recovery from past addictions. There, as part of my normal life, I sponsor others, attend certain 12-Step meetings, and volunteer my time at various hospitals, institutions, detoxes, and halfway houses. While most of the time I haven’t had any real issues with each of those activities, I’ve noticed that occasionally there has been situations where I’ve felt drained by my participation with one of them. The dilemma I face with that is the fact that it’s important to get out of oneself in recovery and help another. But the realization I’ve made as of late, is that this should never come at the expense of my own recovery and serenity.

Because of this, I’ve had to at times stop sponsoring individuals, going to specific meetings, and remove myself from volunteering at places where I felt worse each time I got around them. The truth is I’m really working on listening to my inner guidance now, which honestly is pretty good at letting me know when something is or is not working for me.

Just recently in fact, I stopped helping put on a commitment at an institution because each time I left it, I was feeling more unbalanced and unsettled inside. And last fall for example, I made the decision to change home groups because the one I was attending regularly also left me feeling quite the same after each meeting there. As for sponsees, over the past two years I’ve had to drop a few of them who were either in chronic relapse mode or were verbally abusive to me.

Thankfully, I find myself growing stronger in my decision making these days because of taking care of myself like this. I don’t wish to put myself in situations anymore where I’m running on empty and my energy goes beyond a depleted state. Thus I feel it’s extremely important to continue finding that balance in life where I not only am getting out of myself and helping others, but am also never doing that at the expense of my own healthy and recovery.

The bottom line is that it’s never a good thing to be around anything that drains our life force, even if our egos try to tell ourselves it will get better over time. The reality is that our inner guidance knows when it’s time to move on, we just need to listen to it and take action before we’re going in the opposite direction of spiritual growth…

Peace, love, light, and joy

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Facing My Biggest Fear To Learn How To Trust In Me

Today’s entry is a very personal one for me and it’s something I feel very compelled to write about given how much it’s been surfacing as of late. It’s about trusting in my body’s ability to heal itself. In other words, it’s about trusting in a part of me that I’ve never, ever, been good with for most of my life.

That all began when I was a kid. Take for example whenever I got something as simple as a cough. When I did, I’d always quickly be administered some type of medicine by my mother to handle it. The same would hold true for any other type of ailment that ever came up, as there was always some external analgesic she had to deal with it. But when all those over-the-counter remedies were exhausted and whatever the symptoms I was dealing with didn’t get better, I’d swiftly be taken to the doctors where I’d be given some type of prescription, most often being penicillin. In fact, my younger years were usually filled with all sorts of medicines to deal with various things that were perceived wrong with my mind and body. Never did I go through any pain or ailment by just trusting that my body could or would fix them on its own.

As I grew older and graduated from college, this pattern grew worse, especially as my life got pretty complicated when I came out of the closet and then endured my father’s suicide. I initially tried the medicine route to deal with all of it, because that’s all I knew, but it really didn’t work out very well. I got more complications from most of the medicines I took versus any tangible benefits and my life seemed to filled within nothing but serious side effects from them all. That’s when I began a holistic path, where for more than a decade, I relied solely on homeopathic and herbal remedies, along with everything from chiropractors to acupuncturists. I definitely received benefit from this course of treatment during all those years, yet the fact was I was still completely reliant on everyone and everything else, except myself for my health and healing.

A few years ago though my prayers and meditations began to lead me away from all this external healing reliance. Instead, I started going through all my health issues without any outside help and it’s been extremely difficult ever since. This has been such a challenge for me because on some level, I believe that my hypochondria originated out of all this external reliance. As I said already, the programming I created in my life from a little boy to just a few years ago was that whenever I’d feel sick, there was someone or something out there that I needed to find to help fix me.

Thus trying to trust in my own body’s natural ability to heal itself at the ripe age of 43 has been the most daunting task I’ve ever had to face in life. Every single day my fear factor has been through the roof with all the aches, pains, bumps, bruises, cuts, blemishes, etc. that surface. I know this might seem hard to understand for the majority of people reading this. But maybe if you can picture your most incredible phobia in life for moment, you might grasp how this is for me.

How do you deal with your phobia when it’s suddenly in front of you? If it’s of spiders or mice say for example and you see one close by, do you scream and run away or smash them as quick as possible? If it’s of heights, do you avoid going up ladders or ascending tall structures or do you just never look down when you are way up high? In my case, the only way I’ve ever dealt with my phobia, of me not trusting my own body to fix its health issues when they arise, is to immediately run to those doctors, holistic practitioners, and take those prescriptions or herbs.

But now I’m not doing that anymore. Now I’m allowing all these pains and ailments to surface, most of which seem to be things I’ve already dealt with in life before, which most likely just got suppressed through any one of those external means. And as they surface I glare at them with a racing heart and am doing my best to sit through all that uncomfortability without running to anyone or anything to take it away.

This truly is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do in life and on most days, I feel like my mind is screaming at me and telling me I’m falling apart. In all honesty, it’s downright scary going through this for me because I continue to wonder at times if I’m going to land in a hospital or a psych ward by staying on this path.

All in all though, the bottom line is that I want to overcome this fear and I am doing everything I can to get there. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being dependent on doctors and practitioners and medicine and remedies to fix me. So I’m relying quite heavily lately on God and the Spirit within me to help me overcome this by living one day at a time and continuing to face the biggest fear I’ve ever had to face in life. And I remain faithful in God that in doing so I will conquer this fear once and for all and gain something I’ve never had before in life, that being some trust in a part of myself that got lost long ago…

Peace, love, light, and joy

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Our Lady Of Consolation

About a week ago on a warm and sunny Friday afternoon, I decided to do something I haven’t done in a good long time, I went to a well-known basilica and national shrine named Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, and spent about an hour there praying. Doing so was definitely a stretch though.

As most people who read my blogs already know, I don’t consider myself a religious person, so spending time praying in a church was well out of my normal comfort zone. And doing that in a cathedral that wasn’t even the denomination I grew up with was all the more challenging. But the reason why I chose to overcome these slight intimidations was solely because I had heard through several friends that this place had been a source of healing for many. Originally I had intended to go there with one of my good friends who ironically is a priest, but I decided against it at the last minute because I felt I needed to come to God alone.

When I finally arrived there after the hour and a half drive, I walked into the huge hall and immediately noticed it was entirely empty except for one man sitting in the first pew silently praying and contemplating whatever it was he was going through. I chose to give him some space by sitting much farther back, in the 16th row of pews actually (yes I’m anal retentive like that).

As I sat down, I tried to think about all the things I wanted to say in my prayers, but found it somewhat hard to begin. So I decided to look around at the surroundings instead such as the ornate artwork, stained glass, glowing candles, and gold-leaf fixtures. It was rather stunning that’s for sure.

I then indiscreetly observed this only other sole worshipper there. Again and again he’d raise his head and stare at the altar and then lower it into prayer. I wondered more than once what it was he was dealing with. Another man soon entered the huge hall and begin to water all the plants. Obviously he was an employee and each time he passed by the alter he would kneel and bow. All the while, I continued to struggle with what to say to God until I found myself staring up at the mural directly over the alter. There a beautifully painted Jesus was looking out over the many rows of pews and that’s when it hit me.

Tears.

Lots of them.

As I sat there and wept, I began to talk to God, to Jesus, and frankly to whomever there might be listening to me. And for the next hour I did exactly as that other man seemed to be doing. I’d pray, I’d cry, I’d raise my head and just stare at the beauty in front of me, and then lower it doing it all over again. Eventually this other man left and I remained alone there in that church for some time, which felt kind of odd, but then again, maybe it didn’t, as the journey to our Higher Power always seems to end up being on a road travelled alone.

Nevertheless, I eventually went up to the alter itself and kneeled on the floor before it, as painful as that was for a guy like me who’s hurting all the time as of late. And there I cried some more as I asked for guidance and healing. It was quite humbling for me to do all this, especially given how outspoken I used to be about people who I ever saw do things just like this. But my ego has definitely been shattered over the past few years and frankly I can see know why people reach the point of humbling themselves like this.

Regardless, when I was done bowing before the alter, I then went and took the only dollar I had left in my pocket and placed it in this slot before lighting one of those small candles nearby. I chose one all by itself because somehow I felt it was symbolical to how I’ve been feeling in my healing journey these days. I once again asked for guidance and healing and then headed downstairs into the basement where I then kneeled before a wooden sculpted Jesus who was laying in a small tomb.

There I saw prayer requests folded in His hands, feet, and in a basket nearby. I must say I truly felt tempted to read some of that, but felt somehow that would be a violation of other people’s trust so I didn’t. Instead I wrote two of my own. One for my sister, who’s struggling so great in her life as well and one for me. I then placed both of them in the basket and touched Jesus’s hands. A few more tears left my eyes as I asked him once again for help.

I know all this might sound silly, but ultimately, if you knew how much I used to be against things just like this, you’d might understand arriving at this point was not an easy thing. But as I said already, my ego got shattered some time ago due to all the pain and suffering I’ve gone through, and through of all it, somehow it brought me to that very point, kneeling beside a wooden Jesus, silently shedding a few stray tears.

I left a short while later once I was done praying before the resting Jesus and was surprised at how fast an hour had gone by. Some part of me really didn’t want to go though, as there I had felt safer then I had been for some time, like I had been slightly closer to God somehow. And as I began that hour and a half drive back home, I reflected on my journey to Our Lady of Consolation.

While I may not have received a burning bush experience or a spontaneous healing there, I did receive something else, some humility and a small slice of peace. And truth be told, I honestly do believe that God did hear my prayers that day and I do believe that God is in the process of answering them.

So while my ego might not have gotten it’s wish to leave there miraculously healed, I’m still glad I went. Because at least for an hour, I felt closer to my Higher Power and found an ever greater appreciation for places like this. I think I’ll go back again one day, but hopefully when I do, it will be because I’m offering my thanks and joy for my healing prayers having been answered…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Suffering, Unconditional Love, and Placing Others First

I honestly don’t know if Heaven exists and I truly can’t say I know what’s beyond this life. But what I do know is that I often long to go home, wherever home is beyond this plane of existence. Why?

Because I’m tired.

I’m tired of watching the world destroy itself. I’m tired of seeing people backstab each other. I’m tired of all the judgments. I’m tired of seeing so many people I know implode and lose their lives at their own hands. And I’m tired of the lack of unconditional love from human beings.

Why has our world become so selfish? Why have so many fallen into the rut of taking care of and worrying about themselves first while placing everyone else second?

Wouldn’t this world be so much of a better place if we placed everyone else’s needs, wants, and desires ahead of our own?

I should talk. I placed my own first and foremost for years. I was brought into this world by a family who used their money for happiness and I eventually did the same. I even lived with seven figures at one point and thought it would buy my happiness here. It didn’t. And I was miserable.

But in the past four years I’ve been going through some type of transformation where I see the world so differently. Take last night at a meeting I was at for example. There I learned from a friend that his partner has been suffering immensely with some serious health issues and is afraid. My old self wouldn’t have cared and instead just been relieved it wasn’t something I was going through. But as I said goodbye to him when the meeting ended, I felt something different inside of me. I felt tears well up my eyes and a pang in my heart, and somehow connected to my friend’s pain. So if there is one thing that’s transformed within me these past few years it’s that. It’s me thinking more about others and feeling compassion for what they’re going through. I only wish others were the same, especially when it comes to how they deal with me.

Most have no understanding of how much pain I’ve been going through for so long now. And everyone always wants to understand exactly what it is I’m dealing with and then offer me their advice, thinking they have the answer. But all I have ever wanted through any of this is to receive a warm embrace, to have others cry with me, and to hear how I’m loved and that they will be praying for me. Sadly, I don’t get that. Instead, I watch as people avoid me. I catch wind of rumors about me and some even go as far as unfriending me on social media. I’m sure that’s mostly because people in general don’t know how to handle someone who’s in great pain, especially for long periods of time.

I usually tell others now if they truly want to understand, they should read Job in the Bible. It’s a simple story really, about a man who went through incredible suffering that was not of his own doing. And while he may have not been perfect, he owned that and did everything he could to still serve God. Yet he kept suffering from loss. Loss of family. Loss of health. Loss of financial ability. Loss of his mental state. Loss.

Job eventually curses the day he was born and then his three closest friends visit him, where each try to convince him his suffering is because he must be doing something wrong, especially in the eyes of God. That there must be some area of his life he needs to change. All this does is cause Job even greater pain. Eventually God speaks to all of them and immediately rebukes what Job’s friends have been saying to him. He also reminds Job that Job can’t see the greater picture for what he went through. And then God ends Job’s suffering by returning him to an even greater state of being than Job ever had before.

I know it’s just a story in the Bible and I have no proof if it’s even something that ever happened. Yet it still gives me hope and faith for all of what I’ve been going through and it helps me to cling to the belief that my pain and suffering will end one day soon. Regardless, the only thing I long for until that happens is to be surrounded with unconditional love. To have people embrace me and not offer their advice. To have them not try to figure me out or tell me they think they know what I need to do. That’s all I really want and that’s what I feel this world is missing so much of.

Maybe I see this as clearly as I do because of all of what I’ve gone through and continue to. Nevertheless, even in the midst of my suffering, I still find a way to offer my love and compassion to everyone else, because that is what the power of God gives me.

So while I may long to be home with God, wherever that is, I also live with hope for not only my own healing, but for the rest of the world. Hopefully one day we all will see things a lot more clearly, where we have the desire to place another’s suffering in front of our own, and where we live by unconditional love and nothing less…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Facebook Message From God To Remind Me I Matter

Over the past few years I’ve often found myself questioning if I really matter in this world. In fact, I even wrote an article on this very subject about a year ago. Ironically, God reminded me just over a week ago that I most certainly do and it came in the most interesting way.

It all started early on a Sunday morning when I awoke feeling extremely blue and riddled with my usual bouts of pain. As I tried to roll out of bed, I looked outside and noticed the sky was gray and some light snow was falling. The gloomy weather only seemed to intensify my despair and make it all the more challenging to get up and move forward with yet another day of trials and tribulations. By the time I finally pulled myself together and finished my morning spiritual routines, it was well into the early afternoon. After having a quick bite to eat, I logged onto Facebook and saw my partner had posted on his page one of our vacation pictures that I had already posted a few days earlier on my own page. It was a beautiful scene that looked out upon the ocean from our balcony and had well over 100 likes from his 300 or so Facebook friends. Meanwhile I glanced over on my page and saw how I had only a handful, even with the 800+ people I’m connected to. Shortly thereafter, I also became aware that one of my friend requests to someone I used to be very close to had been denied and I was now blocked from sending them another one. And just like that, I totally fell apart and began oozing self-pity from every pore.

I started yelling in my house quite loudly at God, at myself, and sadly, even at my partner, asking if I “f$$$king even matter to anyone on this planet”. During all those anger-filled moments I thought about the 1000+ articles I’ve written in this blog and how hardly anyone ever seems to read or comment on them. I thought about how my phone rarely rings with anyone asking me how I’m doing or wondering if I had any free time to get together. I thought about the number of people who have unfriended me on Facebook over the past year without any explanation. I thought about how I’m still not considered to be part of my partner’s family, even after 4 years of being in this relationship. I thought about the longevity of my pain and how my prayers for relief continue to go unanswered. Truth be told, I pretty much thought about everything during those moments that only enhanced my belief that I don’t matter.

Thirty minutes later I found myself at my AA home group talking to a woman who is a relatively new friend of mine and part of my recovery support network. I told her how I ultimately felt like I could disappear and that no one would probably care. She offered her comfort, of which I was thankful for, but unfortunately it didn’t take the feeling away of not mattering. But then, as the meeting was about to begin, I took one last look at my phone and noticed I had received the following Facebook message from someone I hadn’t spoken with for at least a year or two.

“Things aren’t going very well for me anymore but your positive posts give me hope that I’ll get through and conquer the challenges that are turning my life upside down. Your ability to draw strength in yourself is infectious and you should know that you matter so much.” 

As I read his words, tears filled my eyes and I realized that something greater than myself must be watching over me. Something greater than myself must have motivated my friend to send this message at the precise time he did. Because at least in that brief moment, when I read my friend’s message, I felt God crying along with me. And it was then I felt all my anger from the day melt away.

So while I may not know why God continues to allow me to go through so much hardship inside this body day in and day out, I’m overly grateful I can at least say there’s definitely something greater than myself out there who knows what I need, when I most need it. And in this case, it came in the form of a Facebook message to remind me I really do matter…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grand Cayman Vacation – The Conclusion

Day 12, it’s time to return home to Toledo from Grand Cayman and as I type this, I’m actually on the last leg of my flight there. Originally, I was just going to end this series with yesterday’s entry, but the more I thought about it, the more I really felt it needed a proper conclusion.

Overall I must say that this was probably the most challenging vacation I’ve ever been on. Mentally, emotionally, and physically it was truly difficult to keep my sanity for most of this trip, given all that I went through inside. I know there are going to be some who read this who aren’t going to understand how a person can go to an exotic destination and feel the way I did. But I’ve come to learn in life that unless I’m walking in that person’s shoes I will never be able to understand what they’re going through.

Nevertheless, because of all the struggles I endured in Grand Cayman, my partner and I decided we’re not going to take any time away again until I start feeling better. In all honesty, I didn’t have much fun on this vacation and that’s hard for me to admit given how much I wanted to. In fact, I’ve been so down about it that I’ve even felt like I ruined my partner’s only vacation he gets for the year. He says I didn’t, but I know how much better the trip could have been if I hadn’t gone through so much turmoil inside. I know it’s not always going to be like this and I know there will be other vacations some day that I will enjoy again. It’s just a bummer that this one has now come and gone and most of my memories from it are the struggles I went through.

Regardless, when my day began this morning in Grand Cayman at 7:30am, it started out like all the others with me going down to the beach and soaking my feet, asking the ocean to help take some of my pain away and bring healing within me. I fully believe that the ocean is just an extension of God and somehow I’ve always felt closer to God when I do this. I then dug a small hole in the beach and mentally pictured all of my pains and ailments going into it. After burying it, I headed up to the room to do my morning spiritual routine, which was followed with a shower and breakfast. As I ate the last of the fruit, yogurt, and donut on the balcony, glancing out at the ocean, my heart felt so heavy. Heavy because I knew I would miss the ocean and the small bit of peace I had received from it. Soon after, everything was packed and ready to go, and we headed out of the room for the last time. Tears fell from my eyes as the door closed. I just couldn’t believe my trip was over, as on some level it never felt like it even got started for me.

Thankfully the drive to the airport was quick and both legs of our flights were on time as well. I also utilized the handicap assistance again today to make my travel home a little easier. Soon we’ll have landed and be on our way back to our humble home, most likely ordering a pizza since there’s no food in the house. There’s a part of me that feels so broken right now as I type these remaining words, because it’s days like today that I ultimately wonder why God has had me suffering for as long as I have.

While I may not understand You God, I still maintain my faith that You know what You’re doing within me. And while my trip to Grand Cayman may not have been what I had hoped for, I’m still going to do something that I promised myself I’d do to end this blog vacation series. I’m going to express my gratitude to You.

So I’m grateful to You God that I was even able to make it on this trip and have two eyes and two ears to see and hear the things I did. I’m grateful for experiencing so much of Your beautiful marine life from coral to sea turtles to stingrays to tropical fish. I’m grateful You brought a nice couple from Roanoke into our lives who embraced me with nothing but unconditional love. I’m grateful to You for each of those moments where I smiled and laughed and remembered what it’s like to experience Your peace and joy. I’m grateful that I remained clean and sober from all my former addictions throughout the entire time, even as pain-filled as I was. I’m grateful for all the wonderful meals You provided us, as well as the incredible accommodations You helped us to find. And last but certainly not the least, I’m grateful to You for placing my partner Chris in my life, as he has supported me through everything I’ve gone through, both on this trip, and on this healing journey I’ve been on to grow closer to You.

So thank You for all these things and all the others that remain silently upon my heart and know that I’m forever grateful for what I did experience in Grand Cayman, even in the midst of all my pains and struggles…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 11

Day 11, the final day of our vacation in Grand Cayman. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been pretty bummed out for most of the day. Not only because some heavy sinus pain and pressure resurfaced this morning after disappearing completely yesterday, but also because I just feel like I haven’t fully experienced the relaxing getaway I was hoping for.

I’ve been going through so much on this trip, mentally, emotionally and physically, that it’s been truly difficult for me to be present with almost everything. I did my best nevertheless to find some serenity today and went out for one last time of snorkeling. The seas were pretty rough though, which made it extremely difficult to see anything. But I must admit it made me very thankful for all the prior days where the conditions in the ocean were far better to see some pretty cool marine life! Oh, and I did see a huge lobster today, as well as a rather large barracuda!

Overall, the weather has been a little interesting these last few days here after that storm came in on Friday. It’s been quite cool, cloudy, and exceptionally windy ever since, except I’ll take a very cloudy and breezy 75-degree day, over the below freezing temperatures back home any day!

Yet as I type this second to last entry for my Grand Cayman trip, I’m feeling exceptionally sad. My partner had to endure a lot with me these past 10 days with all the health frustrations I continue to go through. What I really desired for this trip was to have him see a much healthier me, one that reminded him of the person he met a bunch of years ago when things were far less chaotic in my mind and body. I can’t do much about it though, as it ultimately is out of my hands and in my Higher Power’s control.

Anyway, our final dinner here was spent with our new friends from Roanoke again. We opted to go back to Tukka, the same Australian place we ate at for lunch earlier in the week. It was nice eating out on the water again at nighttime. But this time I tried the lionfish tacos and I was pleasantly surprised. The only downside of the meal was having some pepper fly into my eye due to the high winds. Ugh, it was painful. LOL.

Our final full day here concluded with us all watching the Oscars on ABC, which I was glad I was able to see them this year. The last two years we were on vacations where they weren’t being broadcast. While I enjoyed it, I’m not sure how I feel about Chris Rock’s routine with his whole “OscarsSoWhite” material. Regardless, I’m all for the Academy voting process being shook up somehow. Hopefully next year we might finally see a lot more minorities in the nominations.

Well that’s pretty much a wrap for my final full day here in Grand Cayman. In all honesty, I’m ready to go home. Given how challenging it’s been for me with my health since I’ve been here, I’m missing a lot of the comforts I can only get at home.

But as always, I want to end today’s recap with a little gratitude, because I feel that’s important. So God, I’m grateful to You for seeing a little more of your beauty today under the surface of the ocean, for bringing some new friends into our lives, and for helping me to find some serenity and peace this past week, even in the midst of all the pain I continue to endure…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

 

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 10

Day 10, our second to last full day here in Grand Cayman and boy was it windy! Thankfully the sun was out a lot more today, which made for a rather enjoyable pool/beach day.

It began with some sunbathing that I know I’ll miss quite a bit when I return to Toledo in a few days, as it seems to be cloudier more than not there during the winter season. Anyway, the ocean was extremely rough today with waves well over my head, but that didn’t stop me from spending some time out there bobbing up and down along with them. I actually did do some snorkeling today even in all that choppiness and was glad I did, as I saw a huge starfish that was at least a couple of feet around. Even better, I saw a pretty cool fish that had two long whiskers that it used to move the seafloor around as it looked for something to eat.

Later in the day, after taking a break from the sun and surf, I caved in and went across the street to the local tourist shop. I know I promised myself I wasn’t going to buy anything other than food on this trip, but I decided I wanted to remember this trip with at least a t-shirt. Thirty minutes later I had two of them, a shell necklace, and two Christmas ornaments for our tree next year. Man, I’m such a tourist. LOL.

After catching some more rays for a little while after that, the temperatures really started to drop. That’s when I hopped out of the ocean and jumped into the hot tub where my partner had spent most of his afternoon. There we met a nice couple from Roanoke, Virginia who were extremely nice and totally embraced our relationship like the couple had from last night’s dinner. I’m truly thankful that the world seems to be changing their views more and more for the better with same-sex relationships. But even more so, it’s a far cry from last year’s vacation when one of the couples we met ended up lecturing my partner and I about the sins of homosexuality and how God doesn’t approve of those types of relationships. Nevertheless, in spite of this past rejection and many others of our sexuality, we took a risk and asked this couple to join us for dinner at a restaurant named The Lighthouse and I’m definitely glad we did.

Not only was dinner amazing, but so was the company. We dined out on a long pier over the water and had plenty of enjoyable conversation, none of which frowned upon any aspect of our relationship. I must say that I was kind of surprised though when they told me how much they enjoyed watching Brokeback Mountain and had even visited a gay bar once just to have some fun doing something different. Man, I hope one day that everyone else will be a lot more like this couple from Roanoke.

So as my second to last full day here in Grand Cayman came to a close, I was left with a lot of gratitude to my Higher Power for meeting a wonderful couple from Roanoke, Virginia, who looked at my partner and I with love and acceptance and nothing less…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 9

Thankfully, the rollercoaster ventured slightly upward today for me on Day 9 of vacation here in Grand Cayman.

It began with my sinus pain being considerably less than what it was for all of yesterday, of which I was exceptionally grateful. Unfortunately, we had our first full day of clouds, cool temperatures, and rain though. But that didn’t stop us from going outside, as we spent a good hour and a half sitting in two different hot tubs and socializing with other guests. I did attempt to swim in the ocean several different times in between my time in those hot tubs, except the waves and the riptide were so strong that I ended up getting hit by a piece of coral on my ankle pretty hard. That was enough to convince me to stay out of the ocean for at least today.

What most probably don’t know about cloudy and rainy days in the tropics is that it’s quite easy to get seriously burned during them. With the wind blowing as strong as it was today and feeling as cool it was, I wasn’t going to take any chances on getting a bad sunburn with only two full days remaining here. This is why we ended up taking a car ride along the coast instead of staying in those hot tubs any longer.

During our drive, our first stop was at The Shipwreck of the Twelve Sails, which was a monument for a number of ships that wrecked on the reef in front of it. Next we stopped by the blowholes again where the waves travelled up quite forcefully through the coral and with today’s rough seas, it set the ground for some pretty spectacular photos. Our last stop was at a local bird sanctuary. There, we walked out a short pier onto a pond where suddenly every living thing in the water from tropical birds to turtles came over to greet us, obviously hoping we had some food. It was rather funny to see this, almost like we had an audience. We also used our binoculars there to see some pretty large iguanas in stealth mode at the top of many of the trees that surrounded us there.

Later in the evening, after our drive around the island had ended, we went to the same Italian restaurant we had our first dinner at over a week ago, but this time ordering something other than pizza. My partner went for the traditional spaghetti and meatballs, while I opted for the chicken marsala. What was special about this dinner though was the couple who sat at the table directly next to us. They were from New Jersey and were very friendly and supportive of my partner and I, making mention that one of their own sons was gay. Being that Grand Cayman is a mostly conservative Christian-based island, it’s not very well-known for its support of gay couples. In fact, in 1998, a gay cruise filled with a few thousand gay men was actually turned away from the island by the government here. But it seems as if the times have really changed because my partner and I have found nothing but support of our same-sex relationship here.

So by the time Day 9 came to a close, I’m was exceptionally grateful to my Higher Power for feeling much better today, for feeling accepted instead of frowned upon, and for seeing a little more of this island’s beauty…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 8

It’s Day 8 in Grand Cayman and one that’s been overly frustrating for me again. My sinuses have been acting up all day pretty severely alongside some low grade depression and anxiety. But as always, I did what I could to make the best of my day, which was mostly spent at The Cayman Turtle Farm.

There my partner and I swam with sea turtles, actually got to hold them as well, and even be amongst them while they were fed along with hundreds of fish. Most were small to medium size and could be held easily in our arms. I was so surprised at how docile these turtles were and how they didn’t mind our presence at all. In fact, most of them just swam right on by, touching our arms and feet in the process. There was another pool of sea turtles in this park as well, but we could only observe them from behind a railing. What was interesting about them was their sheer size, some being over five feet around!

After our time with the turtles there, we took a dip in a very large pool that was adorned with a waterfall and a waterslide. We enjoyed both, taking a much needed break on the 90-degree day. Before we left the park, we also took a nice stroll through an aviary where we were treated to a small yellow bird jumping on our fingers who was hoping for a tasty snack.  And next door to it was a butterfly sanctuary with hundreds of them flying around, which I found a little serenity in.

A little later in the afternoon on our way back to our resort, we stopped by Spotts Beach where sea turtles are known to frequent. While I didn’t get into the ocean to snorkel and see them up close, given how late it was in the day, we did get to see one from the small dock there.

By the time we arrived back to the resort, my partner suggested that I get to another AA meeting. I agreed, as my attitude had been rather poor all day. While the recovery meeting I attended a little later only had six of us there, it was still a great meeting. The topic was on anger, and I definitely was harboring some of that towards myself and my Higher Power for how I felt today. After the meeting ended, some of that was lifted and I was glad I had gone.

I must say though that today was probably the most challenging day I’ve had so far on this vacation. As it came to a close, I decided that I’m not going to go on one again until my mind and body feel more at peace. As much as I’ve been enjoying the warm weather and ocean here, it’s been truly difficult to appreciate them for all their beauty with the pain I continue to go through even here. I had honestly hoped that this island trip would have catapulted me to the other side of this long health and healing journey I’ve been on. But alas, so far it hasn’t yet and I accept that.

I will at least say though as I end today’s entry that I’m grateful for two things. I’m grateful to have spent time today with more of God’s creations that came in the form of all those sea turtles and I’m grateful that the program of Alcoholics Anonymous always seems to be nearby when it’s needed the most…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

 

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 7

Day 7 in Grand Cayman was definitely far better than Day 6, that’s for sure and I’m absolutely grateful to my Higher Power for that. The weather today was pristine with total clear skies, 85 degrees, and a light breeze. It was perfect swimming weather.

I spent a lot less time today snorkeling and instead just floated near the shoreline. Laying there in the ocean all by myself staring up at the sky felt so peaceful. In fact, I talked to God during part of it and then did my daily affirmations for the rest of the time out there. I also took a small walk down the beach today as well, far away from everyone else and spent some time talking to God during it. I generally find that I feel considerably better when I take regular time out of my day to talk to my Higher Power.

Later in the afternoon we met a nice woman at the pool that I felt should be mentioned. She was from New York and spends three or so months out of the year at this resort. She owns several timeshares and units at two different resorts and said she might be able to let us stay at one of them for our vacation next year at fraction of the cost from what we paid this year. Regardless of whether that happens or not, it was just nice to have an extended friendly chat with someone for a good portion of the day.

The overall highlight today though came much later when my partner and I decided to hit an AA meeting on the other side of the island. Normally when I go away on vacation I still like to hit a bunch of recovery meetings because I find myself feeling much healthier in my mind and body when I do. Unfortunately, the closest meetings from where we are staying on Grand Cayman are at least 30 minutes away or more. But tonight I really felt the need for some of my spiritual medicine so we took the drive and headed to this gem of a meeting called Happy Destiny where a woman from Australia did a lead because she was celebrating five years of continuous sobriety. I was so thankful I went because the energy was extremely uplifting and positive.

There was one odd thing that happened today that I think is also worth mentioning. Somewhere around 11:30pm or so, the power went out on the majority of the island. It’s now about two hours later and as I finish typing this, it’s still out. Ironically there are no storms going on here, so I can can’t fathom for the life of me what is even causing this. But I’ve always been a fan of power outages because they force us to make due with far less conveniences in life and sometimes I think we all need a strong wake up call to realize just how good we really have it in life.

So as I call it a night and the end to Day 7, I’m thankful today for new acquaintances, my recovery-based life, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, and a much healthier-feeling day.

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 6

It’s towards the end of Day 6 here in Grand Cayman and as I sit here and write this, I’m struggling to find the words to write. My pains continue to plague me incessantly and I’ve been feeling overly depressed because of it. Man, my faith in my Higher Power seems to be wavering a lot and all I know to do is to keep trying to trust that everything will be ok.

It truly has been extremely difficult to enjoy myself today given how I’ve been feeling. It’s one thing to feel this way at home where right now it’s cold and possibly snowing. But when it’s been 84 degrees and crystal clear skies all day and night, I silently ask God why I haven’t gotten better yet. Regardless, I did my best to be grateful today.

Most of that came where I spent most of my time this afternoon, which was out in the ocean. There I found a little serenity, as I saw so many different specifies of fish including angel and bioluminescent-based ones. The reef I went to today also had the most vibrant colors of coral and I wished somehow during one of my moments gliding through it that I could feel as peaceful as it looked.  But probably the biggest highlight I had today was taking a boat ride out to a sandbar where stingrays were in abundance. There I actually got hold them, pet them, feed them, and swim with them. It was definitely a weird sensation to feel them suck the food out of my hand, as it was very much like pressing a strong vacuum tube on my hand. Oh, and I did allow myself to actually place a kiss on the forehead of one that was at least 5 feet long and 3 feet wide!

Later in the day, after getting our car exchanged with another due to a vast number of mechanical issues with it, we went and bought a few more groceries and made hot dogs and baked beans for dinner.

Overall, I must say that today was the without a doubt the hardest one I’ve had here so far here in Grand Cayman, which sounds rather ironic given that one shouldn’t be having any hard days at all when on a tropical vacation right? Somewhere within my head right now as I saw this, I’m hearing a number of teachers from my past tell me that I need to remove the “should” out of my sentences.

Nevertheless, my entry for today is brief given how overwhelmed I feel. But as I do with all of my blog entries, I wish to end it with some gratitude. Gratitude that I haven’t turned to addictions to comfort myself, gratitude that I still have faith somewhere deep inside me in my Higher Power, and gratitude that I at least for a few moments today felt a part of God’s wonder when I held that huge stingray in my arms and planted a kiss on its head…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

 

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 5

Day 5 on Grand Cayman was definitely an interesting one. Beyond the fact that I awoke this morning with a mind-boggling amount of physical pain throughout my body, I did experience some pretty wonderful snorkeling a little later, once I left my room for the day.

To be perfectly honest though, I really wish that somehow this island air, the ocean and all its surroundings was going to be the catalyst I needed to get over this hump in my healing process. But so far it unfortunately hasn’t, yet I remain hopeful that being here is still helping me somehow.

I know many of you have either asked me directly or wondered silently, what exactly it is I’ve been trying to heal from. As best as I can put it, I’ve been doing everything I can to heal these past bunch of years from all of the negative things I put my mind, body, and soul through. Many don’t understand that living in addictions, doing toxic behaviors, and holding onto anger and resentment truly do poison oneself right on down to the cellular level and correcting that is not a simple process. It involves changing everything from who you spend time around, to what you eat, to what spiritual routines you do, to what holistic healing processes you choose to undergo, and so on and so forth. Who I am today is by far completely different from who I was when I began this journey in April of 2010. Alas, I was hoping to get a break from this healing process while here in Grand Cayman, but sadly it doesn’t work that way and what I continue to endure has been equal to what I’ve gone through at home, if not greater.

With that being said, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the ocean since arriving here on the island because I do find it soothing to me on every level, as I mentioned in yesterday’s posting. That’s why I’m generally out in the ocean as soon as I’m done with my morning spiritual routines each day, trying to connect to something greater than myself. Today, I swam through the most beautiful schools of fish who seemed totally unbothered by my presence. I touched their bodies and fins and almost felt as if I was a part of their cheerful groups. Some of the schools I even swam through had fish that were over three feet long!

I also enjoyed today looking at all the different types of coral and plant life that grow in the ocean. The colors of all of it on a bright sunny day are truly spectacular. I especially like the purple-colored plants. I want to mention I did have a quick underwater chuckle today when I was silently observing one particular area of the ocean floor. There I saw a set of eyes peaking out from a tiny cave and as I peered closer, a huge orange fish with the most amazingly red dorsal fin suddenly emerged and greeted me. Seeing things like this when snorkeling involves a lot of patience because quite often the coolest things appear only when you stop moving around and just observe for awhile. Sometimes that’s hard to do though if the waves are thrashing at you like they were at one point for me today. In fact, I had a little scare when I abruptly got caught in a riptide and began being pulled farther out into the ocean. Thankfully, I’ve been swimming my entire life to know what to do in circumstances like this and quickly caught a wave crashing nearby to ride it back in.

Aside from snorkeling today, I did also listen to a presentation for a potential time share ownership here. While I know I told myself last year I wouldn’t do one of these again, I opted to try it again this time because the people here were so overly friendly. Ironically, it actually ended up being rather fun and neither my partner nor I experienced any sales-pressure tactics. The reason why we actually did this was we’ve been considering looking to invest in a specific resort destination to go back to year after year that will save us money when doing so. Timeshares in the long run can do that. While we did end up buying after the presentation was over, we did receive a nice thank you from them, which was two free sting-ray adventure tickets, which we are going to do tomorrow.

There was also one more noteworthy thing that happened today and that was the free dinner my partner and I were treated to at the resort restaurant. Given the lock-out from our room we experienced yesterday, management felt we deserved a free meal on them due to the inconvenience. It was very enjoyable sitting out on the restaurant balcony tonight under the full moon overlooking the ocean while dining on some pot stickers, a strawberry salad, chicken curry vindaloo, and coconut crème pie. I should mention though that we ended our evening just after eating our huge meal watching the finale of The Biggest Loser! LOL.

So while I may continue to endure extremely intensive pain, even here in beautiful Grand Cayman, I remain thankful to my Higher Power for all of the things I got to enjoy today both under the sea and above.

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 4

It’s Day 4 of my Grand Cayman getaway and one that started with me having great difficulty getting up. My dreams had been filled throughout the night with violence and anxiety and it honestly felt like my body had gone through the wringer by the time I awoke. But prayer helped me to get beyond this, as today I had an extended session of talking with God and felt much better after it.

My partner and I opted today, after finishing my morning spiritual routine, to head about 40 minutes away to a small area called Smith Cove where there was a small inlet surrounded by a huge reef. Before we left to go there, I rented some snorkel gear so that I could explore the amazing life that exists under the sea.

Every year for close to 10 years now, I’ve made sure to do several snorkeling adventures when I’ve come to the Caribbean. Today was the first of those here in Grand Cayman and I was rather excited to explore the depths of the ocean.

While I would rather go to much deeper depths by doing scuba, my ears unfortunately don’t equalize the pressure so I’ve come to acceptance that I can still enjoy God’s beauty in the ocean by spending some time snorkeling. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it, as I find it’s quite soothing to the soul.

When we arrived at the busy little inlet today, it didn’t take long for me to put on my gear and head out into the reef. Immediately I saw a fish that I’ve seen in aquariums before. It was one that literally swims on it’s side, but appears as if it’s eye is on top. Over the course of the next hour or so, I got to see many other types of fish as well. There were blue ones, orange ones, yellow ones, and plenty of shades in between. I also swam through several schools of these tiny silver looking ones that merely moved aside as I glided through them. Probably the most stunning fish I got to see today though was a parrot fish.

I should tell you that I do have a concern every time I snorkel and it’s that I don’t let the waves run me into the reef. Some of the coral is poisonous to the skin and there’s also these spiky little sea creatures hidden throughout it that really hurt if you touch them. Thankfully none of that happened to me today.

When the snorkeling was done and my partner and I began to feel a little hungry, we headed along the coastline back towards our resort, stopping a few times along the way to take some pictures. We grabbed one of what’s called a “blowhole”, which is where the sea water blows up through the coral and creates a fountain. We also took one of this strange cow that was lying near the roadside all by itself. At first we thought it wasn’t even real because every time we had passed by it, the cow was seated in the same spot and position. Ironically, it was real and apparently a sad and neglected one at that. It was tied to a rope in the middle of some cleared out jungle. It looked malnourished and had a water bucket in front of it that was totally empty on a very hot day. As we approached it, I watched the cow immediately stand up and look excited to have some company. I had felt very sad for it and decided to give the rest of my large bottle of water for it to drink, of which it seemed extremely grateful. I really have an appreciation today for all of God’s living beings, cows included, and find it truly disappointing when anyone or anything is being mistreated. As we left the cow and headed to a late lunch, I told it I loved it and hoped it would be ok.

Finding a place to eat proved to be a slight challenge after that because of the time in the day. It was smack dab in the middle of the afternoon after lunch was over and dinner hadn’t started yet. Most places we checked out were closed, but thankfully we found one named Tucca that wasn’t. It was an Australian owned and themed restaurant and I have to say my partner and I had the best meal so far on our trip to Grand Cayman. We dined on a porch overlooking the ocean where I had some tempura fish and my partner an angus burger. Interestingly enough the place had a kangaroo burger and something with crocodile in it. After we finished our food, we shared a dessert that was titled “Luv In A jar”. Filled with multiple layers of crème, chocolate, graham cracker, and a few other ingredients, it truly was heavenly.

Alas, the rest of our evening was much less adventurous, other than us getting locked out of our room for a good hour. Somehow the door simply stopped functioning, but thankfully it all got resolved. Something like this in my past probably would have challenged my patience quite a bit, except in this case it didn’t. I think that’s because I’ve learned that getting overly bothered by things like this only stresses me out and causes more pain to my body. And that’s something I definitely don’t need anymore of.

For the remaining hours before hitting the hay, we cooked a late dinner of shake and bake chicken and hung out either on the balcony staring at the full moon or watching some television. As the 4th day of our vacation came to a close, what I felt most was appreciation and gratitude for my Higher Power for still being able to snorkel, for having my heart open up to something as simple as a neglected cow, and for leading us to a small little Australian restaurant in the middle of nowhere where the food was just incredible…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 3

It’s my third day of vacation here in Grand Cayman and as I sit here and reflect on it, I must admit I’m kind of missing my home back in Toledo. I think that’s mostly because I find it safe and comforting to be confined in the familiar, especially when my health issues continue to plague me even here.

Some may think that getting away and being in a tropical paradise sounds just divine and that nothing could ruin that for them. But that’s quite easy to say when feeling well in every facet of the mind and body. Except that’s not the case with me at the present time.

When I began today, it was with a pile of tears praying to God on why I continue to suffer so greatly in life. Ever since I began turning my entire will and life over to my Higher Power I feel like my life has been a roller coaster. I really hoped that being here in Grand Cayman was somehow going to be miraculously healing for me, but unfortunately it’s been more of the same. The only thing different is that I’m in a much more beautiful locale.

Somehow I pulled myself together today by noon, after my morning spiritual routines were done, and from there I proceeded to spend a considerable amount of time floating in the ocean on and off for the next few hours. My partner even commented on how I must be feeling better because I was back to be my joking and prankster type self that hasn’t been around much for quite some time.

During those few hours of relief, I got to enjoy a small walk alone on the beach, a stroll out onto a pink-colored pier where I got to see many beautiful fish, and even felt a moment of peace when I watched a bird from these parts navigate some strong winds for a decent amount of time before it finally dove into the water for a tasty meal.

But the difficult thing with my healing process is that even when I seem to feel good for any short period of time, it never lasts very long. That 180 for me today came right around 4pm when some serious irritable bowel related symptoms hit me. After that my mood rapidly declined and left me in a place where I just wanted to isolated in the bedroom.

I’ve always tried to draw closer to God when painful moments like these begin to happen, because ultimately I find that’s the only thing that truly seems to bring me any comfort. In this case, I prayed, shed some tears, read a few devotionals, and flipped through my Bible, which helped enough to get me headed out the door to dinner. Except I did have some reservations on route to dinner because we were heading to a total stranger’s house for a small get together.

How we found ourselves going to this dinner party came about solely due to us meeting the concierge in our resort lobby. There he seemed to take a liking to our energy and friendliness, which in turn ended up with us receiving an invitation to his home for dinner. In the past I normally would enjoy going to things like this, meeting new people and exploring greater realms of connection. But nowadays, trying to do that feeling just like I did this afternoon and evening constantly poses a much greater challenge. I have to give credit to my Higher Power for getting me through this get together because the prayers I said prior to leaving for it and the ones I said during it gave me enough strength to remain present and cordial the entire time there.

In the end, it was actually nice to have met a bunch of native islanders and learn about their culture. It did also help me slightly to shift my focus off of the pain I was feeling. I should mention as well that dinner was quite tasty, especially the jerk chicken pasta. Unfortunately, I had to abstain from the homemade dessert though because it was rum-soaked cake.

Before we left our new friend’s home to head back to our resort, we were given a quick tour of the property across the street that he also owned. It was directly on the ocean and had a beautiful stone double-level patio that overlooked it. He told me the house had been rebuilt twice over the years due to two completely different hurricanes, with the last one being Ivan. It is now worth $3.5 million dollars. Wow, was all that I could say!

As the evening of our 3rd day came to a close not too long after, I sat out on our balcony gazing upon the night sky and ocean, trying to find an appreciation for one of God’s most amazing creations as I continued to feel a ton of pain in my body. While it might not have taken away all the sorrow and suffering I felt inside, it did do one positive thing for me. It helped me to find some gratitude for still having two eyes and two ears that were able to indulge in a little of my Higher Power’s magnificence…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 2

It’s Day 2 of my Grand Cayman vacation and thankfully it started with me awaking from a good 7 hours of sleep around 9:30am. After having next to no sleep the night before, this truly came as a welcomed relief.

As usual, my day started with me doing my morning spiritual routines. I always find it interesting when I try to do them while away on vacation. Why? Well take for example here in my resort room, the floor is tiled, which makes it a little difficult for me to pray on my knees, as well as do my simple yoga stretches. But I was grateful to find few spare blankets in the closet to use to get the job done. They also came in handy for my meditation so that my feet could rest on it versus a cold floor.

By the time I my prayers, stretching, and meditation were done, it was close to noon and time for breakfast, which I guess might seem kind of weird to everyone else who normally is having lunch around that time. Today was Honey Nut Cheerios adorned with a banana and some raisins and a cup of yogurt. What made it overly enjoyable though was being able to sit on the balcony and have the view of the ocean in front of me at the same time.

After my last bite of it was finished, we headed down to the pool where I didn’t stay long actually. That’s only because I’m more of an ocean swimmer when I have the opportunity to go in one, especially when it’s only a few feet away and over 80 degrees. But even more of a reason is how healing I find it to be for my mind and body. Somehow I always feel far closer to my Higher Power in the ocean versus being in a man-made swimming pool. There was a challenge I had to face though during my first full swimming day in Grand Cayman and that was to not get sunburned.

Quite often people who come to the tropics think the strength of the sun is going to be similar to what they experience during summer at home. But in the tropics, one can get severely burned in a relatively short period of time because of how close it is to the equator. For a fair-skinned guy like me, I’m definitely one of those who burn easily. That’s why I have to constantly apply tanning lotion. And with the wind having been as high as it was throughout the entire afternoon, it was even harder to know whether I was burning or not. That’s why I made sure to take a number of breaks from being in the sun so that I didn’t become a lobster by the end of the day.

Later that evening, after getting showered and refreshed from our day in the sun, we took a drive out to the northern most spot on the island, Rum Point. There I had a few experiences that I’d really like to say felt like they brought me closer to my Higher Power. One was at a small cove-like area where starfish are in abundance. There I saw a father encourage his young daughter, who was in the water, to pick one up and carry it over to my partner and I so that we could touch it and take a picture. I must say I felt very blessed after that. That feeling only continued when we walked out a very long pier shortly thereafter where the winds were so strong I felt like I might blow into the water if I wasn’t careful. Have you ever leaned into an extremely strong wind and felt your body be almost entirely supported by it? On some level, experiencing that made me realize I too have been sustaining very strong winds in my life in recent years, but still have remained standing.

Our evening began to wrap up about an hour later with my partner’s homemade taco dinner made directly from our fully stocked kitchen. He’s really a great cook and I’m so thankful for that because I honestly can’t cook worth a bean. J After our bellies were full and everything was cleaned up, we caught the latest episode of Grimm on NBC, which I think is probably my favorite television show right now.

As the second day in Grand Cayman came to a close, I have to say, even with all my pains and ailments, which indeed were still high today, I felt much better. But I think that’s only because I had a few moments throughout the day where I ultimately felt that God was truly with me…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

Grand Cayman Vacation – Day 1

2:30am. That’s the time I started my morning on my first day of travel from an average-sized Howard Johnson’s motel room. Given that our flight was due to leave at 6:25am, we either had the choice to get on the road from home at 3am for the hour drive to Detroit Metro or stay at one of those nearby airport motels. We opted for the motel option after we found a deal that was actually cheaper than using the long-term parking lots. Unfortunately, with my built-in sleep patterns that usually begin around 2am on most nights when I finally start getting tired, I found it hard to get any sleep at the motel. All in all, I think I got about one and a half hours of rest, which for a guy who’s riddled at the present time in life with various pains and ailments, this didn’t bode well for the start of my vacation.

Needless to say, I did my best to suck it up and do my morning spiritual routines. By the time I was finished with them, as well as my shower, I was feeling overly grumpy and pessimistic. My body felt off, way off in fact, which regrettably only led to me snapping at my partner a bunch of times as we headed to the airport. Sadly, this is something I know I need to work on some more in life.

Nevertheless, when we entered the airport at 5:15am, I honestly thought it would have been rather quiet, but boy was I wrong, it was totally slammed with people everywhere. After making our way through the American Airlines check-in process, checked in our bags and received our boarding passes, I decided to give in and follow the advice of my spiritual teacher and ask for wheelchair assistance. And man did that feel like it was going against my ego on every level.

Regardless, as I sat down in my first assisted ride out to the security checkpoint, I watched as everyone stared at me, eyeing me up and down trying to assess what was wrong with me. I felt like an invalid because of it, yet I suddenly remembered plenty of times when I myself did the same exact thing in prior airport visits.

Thankfully, a nice perk came along with that wheelchair assistance though. My partner and I were ushered ahead of everyone at those long security checkpoint lines. That was such a welcomed relief given how hard it is for me to stand for long periods. Not too long after this, we were well on our first leg of the flight. I spent most of it meditating, saying positive affirmations, and dozing off, which for the most part made it go by rather quickly. Once in Charlotte and off the plane, we were whisked away by one of those loud beeping carts, heading for our next place of departure. Once there, I purchased breakfast for the two of us at a Starbucks: two yogurts, two oatmeal’s, and two hot chocolates. If you can believe it, the total was a whopping $30!

Anyway, the second leg of the flight departed after a brief delay and for most of it, I tried to sleep. Yet somehow I was just too wrapped up in my frustrated thoughts about my health to get any real quality shuteye. I think that’s why it was such a welcomed relief to finally arrive in Grand Cayman a few hours later. I thought it rather interesting how we disembarked from the plane, as the airport didn’t have those jetways. Instead, we walked out the back of the plane, headed down some tall stairs, and stepped onto the runway itself. From there a woman was holding a card with my name on it, while standing in front of a wheelchair. To be honest, I was actually going to try walking through the customs process instead of using the assistance, but given my pain levels, I graciously accepted her help. After doing so, we made it through the luggage retrieval and security checkpoints with ease and not too long after were well on our way in a Ford Fiesta from Budget Rental, heading to the other side of the island for the Wyndham Reef Resort.

Driving in Grand Cayman was a little scary to say the least because they do so on the left side of the road versus the right. I narrowly avoided a few accidents right from the onset, but after settling in and getting used to it, we drove along the beautiful coastline to our resort on the other side of the island.

Upon arrival, we checked in and swiftly headed to our room in total exhaustion, but somehow gained a second wind after seeing the view from our balcony, which looked straight out onto the beach and ocean directly in front of us. After unloading our luggage, we headed across the street to a small grocery store to get some supplies, since we had planned to cook more than not. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a variety so we headed 20 miles back to where a much larger store was. $350 dollars later, yes $350 dollars, our car was full of breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods for the next 10 days. Prices for food on Grand Cayman were extremely expensive, but I wasn’t surprised given how everything had to be flown in. For example one cup of Chobani Yogurt was $2.00, while a package of bacon cost $10.00!

By the time we got back to the resort after our extended grocery trip, I know my partner was totally exhausted, not just from the long travel day, but also with me. My obsessions about my health had gotten the best of me, much in part due to my lack of sleep. Given that, I decided to take him out to dinner instead of cooking for our first evening there. We headed across the street to a nice Italian place and both opted for some gourmet pizza, which was rather tasty. I had a BBQ Chicken and Artichoke combo, while he had some deluxe meat-based one.

An hour or so later, our evening came to an end with a short stroll along the beachfront. Upon reaching our room, I began to wind down for the night and reflected on my first day. I realized in doing so that I had made one major error throughout most of our first day of vacation. I hadn’t turned over much of my frustrations and fears to my Higher Power and instead had lolled in them, which only caused unnecessary fatigue to both myself and my partner. But, as they always say in recovery, tomorrow was another day, and I was sure after a good night’s rest, I would feel far better…  🙂

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

 

The Grand Cayman Vacation Series

It’s March 1st and my first full day back from vacation. My partner and I travelled this year to Grand Cayman, which is a small little Caribbean island still owned by Great Britain. While I was away I wrote daily entries for my blog chronicling all the interesting things I experienced and went through.

This was the main reason why I had placed those “Thought For The Day” entries out there on my blog over the past few weeks, because I was focusing more on trying to be present on my vacation.

While I’d like to say that each of these vacation entries will show everyone I had the best tropical retreat ever, I must admit up front they definitely won’t. That’s only because of the many highs and lows I had during my stay, most of them being due to the holistic spiritual health and healing journey I’ve been on for some time now.

At first, I was only going to write about the good highlights for this series on my blog, but after some careful consideration, I decided I really wanted to show the full truth of what I’m still going through in life, even while I’m away on an exotic vacation.

So if you wish, come along on my daily recap over the next 12 days and read all about my annual tropical getaway in Grand Cayman. And if you do, thank you for taking the journey with me.

Grand Cayman Overview Image

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Where Do I See Myself In The Future?

I received a homework assignment from my spiritual teacher to write about where I see myself in the future. At first I was just going to do a numbered list of all the things I would like to see happen for me as time moves forward, yet after some reflection I thought how this might make a good entry for my blog in my more usual format.

With that being said, I’m sure each of us has been asked at some point or another about where we see ourselves in one year, five years, or maybe even ten years from now. For the purposes of this entry though, I’m only going to speak of life in the future, as I’ve come to learn that whenever I put a time frame on anything, I always seem to receive a strong reminder that it’s not in my time, it’s in my Higher Power’s.

Nevertheless, probably first and foremost what I see for myself in the future is a far healthier life. One where I’m back to engaging in more physically-based activities. One where I’m taking hikes, going biking, bowling, playing tennis and basketball, and spending a day here and there at an amusement park riding those extreme coasters. I actually miss these things the most in my life and have been working so hard over the past few years to help my body get to the place where I can do each of them again and more.

The next thing I see for myself in the future is going back to school and studying Spanish, as well as sign language. I’ve had a dream to become fluent in both so that I may expand my ability to communicate to a much larger portion of the world who I may never get the chance to speak with if I don’t.

Following closely to learning both of those languages, I also see myself becoming a certified Reiki healer in the future. When doing a little research on Reiki, I came to learn there are far more types of it than I first thought. Some of those include Usui, Tibetan, Karuna, Gendai, Rainbow, Shamballa, Kundalini, and Imara to name a few. In all actuality, according to what I read online, there are over 1200 modalities of Reiki, but for starters I see myself at least becoming a Reiki Master in the two most widely used forms, which are Usui and Shamballa. Oh, and by the way, if you’ve never heard the term before, reiki is actually a form of energy healing that began to be used long ago on the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual levels of a human being. But over the years it’s uses have greatly expanded and it’s definitely something I see myself practicing in the future.

Another important part of where I envision myself in the future is being a published writer and motivational speaker. I see myself publishing at least one book that chronicles the spiritual journey I made from sickness to health. In it I will write about how I successfully healed from the dysfunctionality in my childhood home, to the bullying and molestation as a kid, to the tragic deaths I endured as a young adult with my parents, to all the addictions I fell prey to for over two decades, to all the health issues I had to go through to fully transform my life into more of a spiritual one. I also see myself publishing several books in the young adult fiction genre quite like the writing I’m already doing with the Andy and The Zodiac Crystal series here in my blog. And of course the motivational speaking comes in with the territory in that I see myself going around the country and even the world, speaking about my books, my life experiences, all in the hopes of trying to inspire others.

Lastly, there’s one other area I’ve thought about plenty of times over the years but never quite come to terms with whether it’s in my Higher Power’s plan for me or not. In all honesty, it’s not one I’d do if my ego was in charge, but whenever I’ve gone through long periods of allowing my heart and soul to guide my life, it always seems to arise. What is it? It’s where I see myself getting a theological degree and being a spiritual leader in a place of worship. Not too long ago I had a dream of me being a pastor at a church and it actually felt pretty good being in that role within the dream itself. It almost felt like I was born to do it. And recently when I attended a service at the local Unity church here in Toledo, I truly felt drawn to the Reverend/Spiritual Leader there and how she guided the service.

So there you have it, a small vision of what I see for myself in the future. Will all, some, or even any of this happen? Or will my life take on a completely different direction? I honestly can’t say I really know at this point in time because all of what I see for myself involves being in a much healthier mind and body, one that I don’t have at the present time. So for now, I plan to keep on having faith that I’m on the right path, the path to a much healthier life, and the path to where my Higher Power will reveal to me more of what my future will hold when the time is right…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Hang In There, It’ll Get Better!”

Not that long ago a friend of mine sent me a small cartoonist strip he found that related to much of what I’ve been going through. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate it when writing this article, so with that being said I’m going to describe it instead.

In it, a man is hanging on for dear life from a single branch off the side of a cliff while another man is looking down over the edge at him. Out of the man’s mouth who’s standing on top of the cliff are the words “Hang in there, it’ll get better!” As for the man who’s hanging on for dear life, he has only two words to say back to him, “F$#k You!”

While all this seems rather comical and has elicited plenty of laughter to anyone I’ve described it to, the truth is that I feel much like the man hanging from that small branch on most of my days as of late. Far too often I hear so many tell me to hang in there, that it will get better and as much as I know they mean well, it’s never been very reassuring in all honesty.

Most of the time when I used to say those words to someone else who was going through a difficult time, it was because I didn’t know what else to say. Rather, it was my way to check a box and make myself feel better about their situation, rather than to really say something that might help them somehow.

Truthfully, telling someone to hang in there, it will get better, is definitely easy to say when the person saying them isn’t going through what the other is. But the reality is that most who say those words don’t actually know whether it will ever get better for the other person or not. Yet they say those words anyway and usually just move on to something else after they do.

What I’ve found is far more comforting to receive nowadays are things that feel more unconditionally loving and genuine. Things such as “I’m praying for you to make it through this; We’ll get through this together; No matter how long it takes you have my full support; or even How can I best help you through this?”

But hearing someone tell me to hang in there, it’ll get better and then watch them go on to talk about something else or walk away, is a lot like what I imagine the next scene would look like in this comic strip I’m referring to above. It would show the man on top of the cliff walking away, leaving the man hanging there for dear life. The fact is, I used to be a lot like that man on top of the cliff, so caught up in self that when someone was hurting I came across, I either avoided them altogether or said those words and then moved on.

On some level, this is why I’m actually grateful I’ve endured these health issues for as long as I have, because it’s ultimately helped me to see so much of my old unloving self through the actions of others. But thankfully, I haven’t been reacting quite like the guy hanging onto that branch off the cliff, who’s swearing and obviously angry. Instead, I’ve worked hard on looking at all those who come around me with love and compassion, knowing that most don’t know how to deal with someone who’s going through a difficult situation. That’s why it’s my hope that I will be given the chance by my Higher Power to be on the other side of this healing crisis here soon so that I may start putting into practice the things I’ve learned just like this.

The bottom line is that I don’t want to tell someone anymore who’s hurting to hang in there, it’ll get better, because I know it most likely won’t help them one bit. If anything, it will only frustrate them all the more. Instead, I look forward to offering them my outstretched hand and words that come more from my heart, because at least in that I know it will let them know they’re not going through it alone…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Holding Space”

When someone is going through a very trying time in their life, experiencing heavy trials and tribulations, it’s natural for those close to that person to offer them advice, to suggest things to do, and to provide whatever guidance they think might help them. But I’ve come to learn over time that this isn’t really the best way to help a person who’s enduring pain and suffering. Instead, I’ve learned there’s something far better I can do to help someone in need and that’s to “hold space” for them.

Holding space is when a person is willing to walk alongside another in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. Instead, they open their heart, offer unconditional support, and let go of all judgment and control. This isn’t an easy thing to do because it’s in our nature to want to fix people, give them advice, or judge them for not being further along the path than they are.

I’m just as guilty of doing this as I’m sure many others are as well. But to truly support someone in whatever they’re going through, I’ve found it’s not in my highest good to take their power away by trying to fix their problems, to shame them into feeling like they aren’t doing enough and could do better, or to overwhelm them by giving them more information than they can handle.

So what’s the alternative? Well it’s all about holding space, which means I stay by their side and allow them to make their own choices, to unconditionally love and support them no matter what they’re going through, to give gentle direction when needed, and help them feel safe even when they make a mistake.

I read an article by Heather Plett that helped me understand much of this technique and in it, she provided eight tips on how to do hold space well. They are:

  1. Give people permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom, instead of having them become overly reliant upon you.
  2. Give people as much information as they can handle, as too much information leaves a person feeling incompetent and unworthy.
  3. Don’t take their power away, as this helps to empower the person instead of feeling useless.
  4. Keep your own ego out of it by not going to the place of believing the person’s success is dependent on your intervention.
  5. Make them feel safe enough to fail by not offering judgments or shame and instead providing encouragement to take risks and to keep going even when they fail.
  6. Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness by recognizing the areas in which the person feels most vulnerable and incapable and then offering the right kind of help without shaming them.
  7. Create a container for complex emotions, fear, trauma, etc. to surface, which allows a person to feel safe enough to fall apart in front of you.
  8. Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would, as the way you might handle what they’re going through is far different than the way they need or are meant to go through it.

I know this seems like a tall order and trust me, I’ve failed many times trying to hold space for close friends and loved ones over the years. But I’m working daily now on holding space for my current partner and for those closest to me and sometimes I have success and sometimes I don’t. The bottom line is that I’m going to keep trying.

Holding space for someone who’s going through any difficulty in life isn’t easy, but it’s benefits are far greater than when we judge them, make them feel inadequate, try to fix them, or impact their outcome. Instead, we must open our hearts, offer our unconditional love and support, and let go of all judgment and control because in doing so, we will see that holding space can truly help a person no matter what they’re going through…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson