What Will Really Matter The Most When Our Life Comes To An End…

Have you ever wondered if every one of those things many of us have worked so hard to obtain or achieve in life isn’t what really will matter when our life comes to an end?

Whether that’s achieving a dream position/title at some job with amazing pay and a great benefits package, or acquiring a dream home in a neighborhood you desired with a great backyard/view in a coveted school district, or owning a dream car or some other long sought-after valuable possession, or going on a dream vacation to some exotic locale, or reaching a level of income you always dreamed of earning, or experiencing a level of sex/intimacy that satisfied all your sensual dreams and desires, or reaching a level of popularity you only ever dreamed of having, or getting an award you only ever dreamed of achieving, whatever it is you’ve attained from your dreams in life, in the long run, has it left you feeling fully complete? I ask this because I’ve had enough of those things in my own life to realize that none of them made me feel any better or left me feeling fully complete in life after I had attained them for a while. Along the way, I discovered what left the biggest betterment upon my life were each of those loving marks I made upon another’s heart and soul, and never what I personally obtained or reached in life for myself.

Look, I once had that dream job, title, and income, owned that dream home, taken the dream vacation, garnered those dream possessions, experienced those dream sexual encounters, reached that dream level of popularity, earned that dream award, and achieved many of those self-desired dreams, yet none of them ever left any lasting impact upon my own heart and soul, and instead only left me coveting something else to seek in life.

So, what has mattered? What has made the biggest difference within me? What has left the most lasting of impact upon my life? It’s been in those hugs I’ve given to another when they’re in need of support. It’s been in telling someone I’m proud of them for an achievement they’ve made. It’s been in all those times I’ve let someone know they’re not alone in this lonely world. It’s been in all those tears I’ve shed alongside someone suffering from deep grief and loss. It’s been in helping someone desperately in need, especially through my 12 Step recovery. It’s been in all those gestures of kindness I’ve extended to another even as small as holding a door open for them. Ultimately, each of those times I’ve put someone else before myself, showing them unconditional love from my heart seems to leave the most lasting of impact upon my life. This is what I believe will truly matter the most when my life finally comes to an end, that being all those times I did my best to be there for another, rather than all those times I accomplished something for myself.

For that very reason, now I see that to live a life where I’m more there for another than myself, where my heart finds a way to connect to another soul in need, is what truly matters in this world and will consistently leave me feeling more full than empty. So, in the end, maybe that’s all that really matters and anything else we strive after for ourselves is really nothing more than a fruitless quest to please an ego that will never fully satisfy us and only leave us wanting something more…

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

Playing That “What If” Game…

I’m sure every single one of us on this planet has played that “What If” game at some point or another in our lives. You know that one where we find ourselves questioning if we could have had a better outcome arise from making a different decision than the one we actually made in our past, one that typically has a less than desirable outcome.

Playing this game is one that only seems to occur when we think some present circumstance in our life could have been better if we had chosen differently in the past. While I recently wrote about a similar subject where sometimes those past decisions are ones that our Higher Power has a hand in to save us from experiencing greater pain, there’s still plenty of times I’m left wondering where my life would have headed if I had just chosen Option B over Option A.

Do you remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels from the 80’s where you reach a page in the book and have two options to choose from, where one option takes you down one path in the story, and the other takes you down a completely different path? That’s about the extent of what I’ve done in my brain far too much in life, wondering how things would have unfolded if I had chosen differently.

What if I hadn’t pursued that friendship with Carmine during my senior year of high school, that guy who led me to my first alcoholic drink and to quit the swim team? 

What if I hadn’t gone to Rochester Institute of Technology and instead chosen the other college I had been accepted into, that being Northeastern?

What if I hadn’t pledged Phi Kappa Psi, or any fraternity, and had instead focused on developing my sexuality and spirituality during my collegiate years?

What if I had spent more time getting to know my father prior to his suicide, instead of avoiding time with him? 

What if I hadn’t gotten into relationships with 1st Jerry, Kevin, 2nd Jerry, Barry, or Carl?

What if I hadn’t purchased that bed and breakfast and instead remained in my home outside Washington, D.C. working at my last corporate job with U.S. Customs.

What if…

What If…

What if…

The fact is, I realize today it’s a complete waste of time playing this “What If” game, writing out my own “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel in my head surrounding all the decisions of my past life. While this type of game may be great subject material for some science fiction series on television (ex. Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch on Netflix) or for some major theatrical release (ex. “Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow”), it’s only created more pain and suffering in real life the more I’ve dwelt on my past decisions with thoughts I could have done better.

I’ve made tons of decisions in my life I feel I could have done far better with, but after watching enough science fiction surrounding this and meditating on all those decisions I’ve labeled as poor ones, I’m inclined to believe that everything really does happen for a reason, including each decision we make. Because I’m just as inclined to believe that even if we had made a different decision, that eventually the outcome would still have been the same, it might just have taken a slightly circuitous path to get there.

So, maybe it’s a totally pointless exercise to play this game because who we are now, what we are now, what we stand for, and everything in between, is precisely the person we’re supposed to be at this very moment in time? Maybe every possible decision we could have made in our past would have resulted in us becoming the very same person we are now? And maybe all that’s important today is simply to accept ourselves right now, just as we are, and continue to explore our spiritual growth in life, learning as we do, rather than wasting any more time living in the past playing that “What If” game that never goes anywhere but in circles in our heads…

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

Are We Moving Farther And Farther Away From Having Healthy Communication With Each Other?

One of the things I think I’m probably most concerned about with the direction our society is heading in, is the growing disconnection we seem to have with each other, especially when it comes to much of the new generations in life where the strongest form of “healthy” communication seems to be in texting.

I’ve been reading about how addictions are massively on the rise in our culture, especially since the pandemic first came upon us, and I tend to believe much of that is due to our present forms of “healthy” communication. Because the forms we are using now are really less about communicating and more about avoidance. How many times I’ve called people in recent years who’ve had voicemails that are full, I’ve lost count. I spoke to a college student last week here locally who told me they never listen to their voicemail and tend to leave it full. Most of their generation say the best way to reach them to communicate is via text.

People want to know why depression and suicide attempts continue to increase every year. This is why. Human beings weren’t born to simply immerse themselves in text messages, social media and the like. While one may have tons of friends or followers on their social media, that doesn’t translate to having healthy communication and connection. Isn’t having healthy communication and connection more about one person meeting another for a coffee or meal, or maybe taking a stroll through a local park with each other, to talk about life, and show  how much they matter to each other.

Many addicts have also been relapsing into old addictions in the past few years while others began a path of addiction, all because the pandemic moved them further away from having healthy communication due to quarantine and isolation. While video chats helped to alleviate some of the loneliness, it wasn’t enough for some who chose addictions to cope with the lack of real human connection.

Nevertheless, I miss those days when people actually had healthy communication with each other on buses, in stores, at restaurants, in public places, amongst strangers even. Today, not so much. Today, all it takes is a quick look around in public where you’ll see so many blankly staring into their phones rather than at the people they’re spending time with. Believe me, I’ve fallen into this pattern at times as well all because of the fear of missing out on something. But this is one of the main reasons why our world keeps digressing more and more from healthy communication.

Healthy communication is about being there for each other, learning about each other, supporting each other, making eye contact, and showing in those moments, that one doesn’t have to be alone in a world that these days seems so easy to feel alone.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling disconnected, alone, or isolated in this world, try reaching out to a friend over the phone, or better yet, meet one in person and be fully present with them, rather than immersed in whatever forms of the digital realm you carry with you. Because it’s in those moments you dedicate to another human soul, that often become the very thing that not only will help you feel less alone in this world, but also help another feel less alone as well, especially someone like me who has always felt more overlooked in society than embraced. I treasure real human interaction and thank all those who continue to call me or meet me in person. It’s each of you who have demonstrated healthy communication and reminded me I do matter in a world I often feel like I don’t…

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

Sometimes When We Don’t Get The Results We Want, Maybe We’re Actually Being Spared From Even Greater Pain…

A valuable lesson I continue to learn in life is that sometimes when things don’t go the way I think they should be going and I end up not getting the results I want, may actually be my Higher Power sparing me from even greater pain if I had actually gotten what I wanted.

In the beginning of January of 2010, I would experience a day where I thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. On that day, I’d sign on a dotted line for the short sale of my business (a bed and breakfast) and my home, where I officially lost $660,000 of cash that I had invested into both over the previous 7 years.

When I began that path in 2003, acquiring that business and home, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed so to speak when it came to the new life I was building. As each year passed, I kept sinking more and more money into the business attempting to keep it afloat, with constant promises by my partner at the time that one day we’d sell it for well over 7 figures, and all of it will have been worth it.

In 2009, during the tail end of the housing crisis/shortage, we weren’t even able to pay a single mortgage bill for the entire year. Frankly, I was amazed that we didn’t go through a foreclosure that year. With little money left in the bank and not enough customers to support the business, more money was going out than coming in. Through a miracle, the owners of a competing bed and breakfast in town purchased it from us at the 11th hour, allowing me personally to walk away from it with nothing more than the shirt on my back. As the years passed after that, I checked on my old business from time to time, even stopping by at one point to see how it was faring. I was amazed at how even more beautiful it had become and thought for sure it had more than earned a 7-figured value. The thought of that though made me sick with all the financial loss I incurred from it.

I let this occupy me for years, often making me very resentful at times. I frequently wrestled with the thought that maybe I could have re-financed or invested a little more into it to get out of the hole we were in. But then one day, when I was on my own personal website, checking the links on my “About Me” page, I realized the hyperlink to my old bed and breakfast had become a dead page. I hit the link a few times thinking maybe it was a mistake. I even typed in the URL directly and the result stayed the same. After some digging, I discovered the bed and breakfast I once owned was no longer a bed and breakfast and had become a weekly rental property. After further digging, I discovered the innkeepers who bought the place from us in 2010 had sold it at the beginning of the pandemic for $765,000, which was only $80,000 more than I had originally paid for it, a number I was at least spending every year to keep it afloat.

Learning this blew my mind! After 10 years had passed since I had last owned that business, it had never even came close to the value my ex had promised we’d get from our investment. I realized that If I had remained in that business, spending even more to keep it afloat, refinancing, or doing something more to not lose it, I would have experienced far more financial loss than I did.

So yes, while I learned an incredible number of spiritual lessons from my life surrounding my old bed and breakfast and home, the most recent one I learned is one that continues to show me that my Higher Power always sees the bigger picture, even when I often don’t, and does spare me at times from even greater pain if I had actually gotten what I wanted…

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

Did The Pandemic Make People Angrier?

Anger seems to be a topic I’m writing about a lot lately, as I’ve been seeing so many examples of it when I silently observe the world around me, which is why lately I find myself wondering if the pandemic has led to this. It really seems as if everyone is on edge now, extremely irritable, and that it doesn’t take much to set someone off in a spew of rage or anger.

Case in point, when I was sitting in a theater the other day watching a movie, some guy near me had been looking at his phone briefly when suddenly another near him started shouting obscenities over it. Soon, the two were in a heated exchange, causing everyone nearby to miss an important part of the movie. I did my best to tune it out and thankfully the feud stopped shortly thereafter without any acts of violence.

Has the pandemic somehow made people become more like this, like ticking time-bombs, waiting to jump on someone else for doing something they feel they shouldn’t be doing? Are people purposely wanting to get into verbal fights or worse now? Gun violence seems higher now since the pandemic began, and frightfully it’s also becoming easier to carry a concealed weapon, making me feel so unsafe, as I’m more of a pacifist, even in the face of anger and violence.

My truth is that I don’t like anger, rage, people raising their voices, or anything of the sort. It’s why I tend to steer clear now of people who are like this, including my partner when he exhibits it, as I don’t want to be around anyone who’s primary exuded emotion is that of anger. Frankly, it makes my health issues feel even worse and my pain far higher.

The fact is, I have never seen anything good come out of uncontrolled anger, especially when it’s been inflicted upon another. It never brings people closer and instead, typically creates more division and chaos, sabotaging all feelings of closeness, and sometimes even ending a beautiful connection because of it.

I’m reminded of what Bill Wilson once said in his book Alcoholics Anonymous when it comes to anger. He stated that “If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.” I agree. I know many would argue though that even Jesus got angry. This of course is in direct reference to the tables he overturned in the temple where the moneychangers were doing business there. What is often misunderstood here is that the only times Jesus got angry was when God was being dishonored. Never did Jesus lash out just for the sake of lashing out. Rather, Jesus used compassion more than not for teaching lessons. But compassion isn’t the primary emotion that seems to be emoting from most right now.

Personally, I don’t have the luxury of getting angry because anytime I get that way and remain in it, I look for some addiction to numb myself from the strong emotion. That’s why I regularly use prayer and meditation now, as that seems to help keep me more at peace, especially when anger crops up.

So, whether the pandemic has increased people’s anger or not I don’t know, but what I do know is that quieting my mind is necessary to deal with it when it appears. Trying to control it though without any prayer or meditation only leaves me in even worse of moods and more heated than anything. The bottom line is that if one truly wants to see their anger die down within themselves, it’s never going to happen by trying to control any situation to fit what their ego thinks should be happening. The change must come from within and that can start by quieting the mind to get to the source of that anger, something that will never happen when one chooses to yell or scream instead, as doing that only brings about greater pain and suffering for all involved, even though one’s ego will often try to convince oneself otherwise…

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

There Is Nothing In This World That I Want Anymore…

There is nothing in this world that I want anymore. Please let me clarify that statement though before your mind starts taking that off in any specific direction with it ok?

In this world, I’ve experienced A LOT. I’ve seen some pretty amazing places. I’ve had some very amazing relationships. I’ve owned lots of cool stuff. And I’ve dabbled in enough alcohol, drugs, sex, and many other temporarily stimulating things for a lifetime to know what they all bring. Except the best moments of my life haven’t ever come from any of those experiences. The best moments of my life have come when I’ve felt the Presence of something Greater guiding me, something that I’ve haven’t felt for almost five years now.

As a kid I was driven for popularity. As a young adult, I was driven for financial success. As a middle-aged man now, I’m driven for only one thing and that’s to feel the Presence and peace of God again, something that instantly seems to turn people off anytime I talk about this, where I’m typically given negative labels, unfriended, blocked, or ghosted, with people believing I’m just some religious nut. Believe me, I’m not and am not here to preach religion, even if your mind thinks that right now. Please keep reading and I hope you’ll understand better by the end.

Up until the age of 23, I had never experienced anything greater than what this world could offer. When my alcohol, drug, and cigarette addiction had finally gotten the best of me, I turned to something I never turned to before in my life, and that was some God that I was brought up with in a family who didn’t practice good Christian values. And when I did turn to that God in that moment, on the side of a bathtub, with hands clasped together, and asked that God to help me, I felt some Presence, a Presence, and a tremendous amount of peace wash over me, something I had never felt in my entire life before that. None of the worldly things I had experienced prior to that moment could even compare to that feeling. Honestly, it was that feeling that would help me through the next 90 days of hell when I detoxed from all three addictions at once. That feeling, that Presence, left me though by the end of that period and I would go on to spend the next five years seeking what the world had to offer all over again, landing myself in another bunch of addictive behaviors, becoming even more miserable in the process.

In the middle of my 27 to 28th year of my life, I had become broken all over again, sick and tired of the world not filling that hole in me, so I went off on a weekend spiritual retreat, where I faced one of the biggest wounds of my life, my father’s suicide, and asked God in the midst of that work for help, and it came. That peace, that glow, that Presence, came over me all over again, and I cried. Oh, did I cry. That Presence lasted once more for a few weeks at best, reminding me there was something Greater out there. I struggled to call it God though due to my abhorrence to religion.

Unfortunately, I’d fall hard back into worldly clamors, looking to the world for answers for another three years or so. When they didn’t come, when enough sex and money and things I bought for myself didn’t satisfy anything, I sought a friend who did spiritual body work, who on a table one day helped me experience an awakening like no other that brought that Presence back, this time for about three months. When it left, I couldn’t figure out why and descended all over again back into the illusion that the world could change that.

When my mother died in 2005, I was so seriously broken that I used the world with her money for all it had. I became a user of everything, until that didn’t work anymore. So, in desperation, I went away on a 10-day silent retreat, looking for answers. At the end of my fourth day on that retreat, that Presence swept upon me again, when I least expected it. It would last for six months, but this time I did as much as I could during that period doing what I thought I needed to do to keep it around. It’s during that period I learned to write and speak more eloquently about all that I had been thorough thus far in life. That Presence still left me though and devastated me. This time the hole it left in its wake was life shattering.

I tried everything to bring it back, even going on another 10-day silent retreat to recreate the experience. I did body work, affirmations, long meditations, changed my food, changed my friends, changed everything, yet nothing worked. Six more years of agony I’d endure of chasing one thing after another that the world offered, from people, to places, to things, none of it brought me any deep fulfillment. I hurt a lot of people during this period, much of which I came to regret and experience sorrow over many years later. In 2012, after a suicide attempt, I asked a Shaman for help. Not too long after, I began to feel that Presence again. It came more subtly yet was still there and I’d feel it more than not over the next three years, until one day that Shaman told me I was going to experience a downward shift for a while before I emerged on the other side. It was all vague and made little sense, but she proved right, as I felt that Presence leave me in 2015 on a return flight home from a vacation.

I wouldn’t feel that Presence again until late August of 2017, when I was on a trip to visit my sister and her family. It washed over and through me immediately in the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, as if the sunlight had become brighter in there. I’d experience five days of it after that. It left me as quickly as it came, yet it restored my hope that God was still there, that is until too much time went by after that without feeling that Presence.

It’s been almost 5 years now. That brightness, that glow, that joy, that peace, that Presence, I haven’t felt it since that trip to see my sister in 2017. While I haven’t fallen back into toxic addictions and toxic behaviors this time nor chosen the world for answers and while I have kept my spiritual routines up and fought constant thoughts of taking my life and checking out, I live with sorrow every day knowing there is nothing this world has to offer that will brighten my life. Believe me when I say I most certainly have tried.

While I love my partner, the friends who have stuck by my side, my cats, the people who read my blog, and all those I continue to help in my volunteer efforts, what I love and long for the most is not of this world and is not something I’ve ever been able to obtain by any of my own efforts. I don’t understand why that Presence has left me for so long, as I know now it’s not because of what I’m doing. I only pray for its return, as the thought of it coming back is the only thing that’s kept me going now in a world where everyone else around me seems to seek what the world has for answers, when I know for me it has none…

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

How Do You Define Who You Are In This World?

In just over two months, I’ll be 50 years old, and I’ve been struggling a lot with that fact. Because honestly, as I hit that mid-life stride, I’ve really been struggling identifying who I am.

There is one school of thought that says who we are is defined by what we go out there and make happen with our own actions. There’s another school of thought that says who we are is based upon waiting upon God for guidance and direction to know precisely what that is to go do. And there’s yet another school of thought that says the answer lies somewhere between those two. So, in the process of trying to define who we are, many of us choose to base it upon what we do for a living. Others of us base it upon the status we hold in society. Some of us base it upon the titles we hold in the world around us. There are even those of us who base it upon all the awards we garner in life. And in the past decade or so, many of us are basing who we are upon how many followers we have gained on our social media. Honestly, I don’t want my life to be based upon any of these things. I want who I am to be defined by something else, something far deeper.

I guess you would say this is the very reason why I’m in the middle of having somewhat of a mid-life crisis over this. Unfortunately, most of my life I have based who I am on each of those things and more and all of it feels so very superficial. Who I am shouldn’t be based upon what I’ve seen and done, or the jobs I’ve held, or the titles I’ve gained, or the money I’ve had, or all the partners I’ve dated, or the friends I’ve friended, or any popularity I’ve ever come into, or on anything externally whatsoever, as none of that is going to matter when I die.

I realize now that I’ve consistently been basing who I am by the world’s standards all because I got so overlooked so often in my life starting back when I was a young kid. Being ignored more than not by own family and peers throughout my childhood, I eventually turned to drugs and alcohol and many other addictions to numb myself from it all. Soon I forgot about who I was entirely and began basing who I was on those around me and what they thought of me, making me completely miserable in the process. But here I am about to turn 50 in a few months, and I can at least say there is one thing I’ve come to see is necessary to defining who I am and that’s having a relationship with my inner child, something I ignored for most of my life. I nurture my inner child now and do my best every, single, day to listen to what is important to him. And if there is one genuine thing that comes from doing so, it’s deciding who I am from a much deeper perspective than what much of the world uses as a defining perspective of themselves.

At my core, who I am, is just a kid with a big open heart, who truly loves people on a very deep level, who has a great imagination, who is extremely sensitive to others, who believes in the best in everyone regardless of their past or present, and who cares about even the slightest of pain in another when he sees it. That is who I am today and while on the grand scheme of things that won’t make me very memorable on this planet when it’s my time to pass from this plane of existence, I at least feel I’m being authentic now to the real me, the me that I abandoned as a kid because the world told me I needed to be something otherwise to matter.

I matter because I exist. And who I am in existing is a really great kid who’s grown up to see the world with an unconditionally loving heart. In the world’s standards, that may not matter, but in God’s standards, maybe that’s all that matters…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

“I’m done, Andrew. I wish you well.”

I recently lost what I thought to be a good friend from my life. Not by an actual death per se, but a death by ghosting, where the final words I received after months of silence were “I’m done, Andrew. I wish you well.” I have struggled immensely with this loss, because at one point, this friend was also the subject of one of my Grateful Heart Monday entries, someone I truly was thankful for being a close part of my life.

This friend was someone I spent one evening with almost every week throughout the entire pandemic. We usually had a movie or tv night where we tended to delve into some science fiction, fantasy, or superhero type of thing, something we both were really into. We usually gorged on some type of fast food and always had a sweet treat on hand as well to carve out each of those evenings. What I liked best about this friend was that it wasn’t based upon physical attraction, it was just a true friendship founded upon some similar interests, one that initially began with a mutual like of superheroes and comic books.

If you’ve ever watched the tv show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, a series about a man and his robot companions that watched B-movies and made fun of them to pass the time by, that indeed would be the closest comparison to how much of my evenings with this friend were like. We often laughed so hard at the insanity of some of the things we watched that I left for home at the end of the night with my facial muscles hurting quite a bit.

The how and why this friendship ended seems so silly now. It all started when I completely forgot to call my friend on Thanksgiving Day to wish them a happy one. I was away on travel at the time in Savannah, Georgia with my partner for a vacation and a wedding we attended. When I finally remembered, we were on our drive home the next day. I quickly dialed them as soon as I realized my mistake and got their voicemail. I proceeded to leave them a message saying I was sorry for forgetting and hoped they had a great holiday. I didn’t hear back from them that day like I usually would via text messages anytime I ever left them voicemails prior. I texted them the next day as I was concerned and asked if they had gotten my voicemail, how their Thanksgiving was, and if they were ok. Their response was brief and felt rather cold. They said they got my message and was busy with their kids on travel seeing their family and they’d get back to me when they returned. They didn’t ask how my Thanksgiving was or my vacation, which I found odd. After asking them why, it began a series of text messages that spiraled totally out of control with us going into separate corners. The last full text I got from them said they needed a break from hanging out, not permanently, but just for the moment. With the stress they’d been facing in a rough divorce and financial issues, I understood and responded that we should take the month of December off and regroup in January. I wished them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and asked them to contact me after the holiday season was over. My intentions were pure, as I really didn’t want to add any further stress to their plate and I thought a decent break would help ease any tensions between us. Sadly, I never heard back from them after the holidays though. Another month and a half would pass after that. I didn’t reach out because I truly thought maybe they needed more time. I honestly wanted to do the opposite of what I usually tend to do, which was to try to fix things.

In mid-February, I began watching Ted Lasso, a show on Apple+ streaming, something they incessantly told me I should watch with the thought that it would uplift me. I kept refusing to give the show a chance and it became a running joke every time I left their house, that I should go home and start watching it. I’m glad I finally did because it moved my heart tremendously, enough so that I opted to finally email them and thank them for the suggestion. I followed that the next day asking them if they wanted to reconnect or if they had moved on. I waited a week for a response and decided to message them one final time, as I honestly didn’t want the friendship to end. Sadly, the response I got the next day was the title of today’s entry.

I spent a number of weeks fluctuating between anger and sadness over this. I beat myself up thinking I caused it, but eventually forgave myself saying I did my best. Frankly, I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand why something so trite was enough to end what I thought to be a close friendship. Heck, at one point, they even told me they considered me their closest friend. I don’t take things like that lightly. Regardless, it’s over now and time for me to move on, knowing that friends come in our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I’m thankful I had a few seasons with this friend, as they were truly fun to be around, often lifting me up when I really needed it. I learned a lot from this friendship and feel much freer sharing my heart about it with all of you as I say goodbye to someone I care about and probably always will…

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

Now That My Week Of Solidarity From Writing Is Over…

Now that my week of solidarity from writing is over, I’ve had plenty of time for reflection, especially upon this Russian/Ukrainian conflict. I was most hit hard during this reflection when I read about one Russian soldier’s dying text to his mother who told her he was afraid and was questioning why he was even in the war. Many polls overseas suggest similarly that plenty of the Russian population doesn’t support Putin’s war effort to recapture Ukraine. What I personally see in it all is a leader who’s more interested in garnering power than fostering peace amongst his people, and in the process, has created another global conflict, just as we begin to truly emerge from a deadly global pandemic.

My best friend Cedric always tells me we live in a fallen world and in fallen times and judging from the way people have treated each other ever since Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump went head-to-head, ever since Trump’s four years of presidency, and ever since the last two of years of COVID-19, I tend to agree with him now. So many seem to be consumed with their own needs, wants, and desires right now, than others.

Take for example the other day when my friend Tom was trying to merge into a line of slowly moving cars in a plaza we were leaving. A woman wouldn’t let him in and angrily laid upon her horn letting him know so, giving us a dirty look in the process. This is what I see around the hearts of most people right now and I too have been on the receiving end of this. Most don’t appear to want to hear about my message of fostering peace and unconditional love and I have begun to wonder if people are sick of hearing from me. Sadly though, the truth is that people really seem to be becoming more and more selfish in our world, thinking only of themselves and what they need for happiness, forgetting about all those around themselves who are suffering.

Of course, there are diamonds in the rough. People who continue to put themselves out there, in the line of fire, just to make a difference, just to bring greater Light onto our planet. Yet, they seem to be grossly overshadowed presently by all the constant acts of selfishness, including even on the global scale with someone thinking an invasion of another country, where thousands upon thousands of deaths of innocent people is the best course of action, when indeed such action is only going to drag much of our planet even further into a fallen world, into darkness.

To be perfectly honest, I’m weary of trying to be the good guy, of keeping my faith, of doing the best I can to bring my own Light into the world. Sometimes I fail miserably in the process, especially with my partner, especially when I come home and have been yelled at by one person after another in the places I speak at, or from text messages filled with judgments of what some think of me. Why people see me as a threat, and label me with the judgments they do, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the darkness of this world trying to convince me to give up, on myself, on God, and on ever finding peace and joy within.

Frankly, it’s hard to find peace and joy within, as beyond the incredible pain I continue to live with, beyond the constant turmoil of Democrats versus Republicans, beyond the ongoing battles of vaccinated versus unvaccinated, and beyond all the opinions emerging now of Putin and his wartime efforts overseas, I find it rare to see people thinking of each other and doing their best to be there for each other. If we can’t even treat each other with the unconditional love and respect we would want for ourselves, we are only going to create more and more wars no different than what Putin is presently doing. All wars begin within an imbalance within, a conflict of ego, a battle of the mind. No war will never create any lasting peace and love. And neither will any act of selfishness. Our world will never change until all of us change ourselves and start being far nicer to each other than we are.

Nevertheless, I pray that somehow Putin and any other Russians supporting his war efforts will see how all of it is only going to bring about more pain, hardship, and loss, than any good. And hopefully one day, all of us will realize that the wars we keep creating, no matter small they are, always begin within ourselves and can only be resolved by working through it within ourselves and never by controlling someone else…

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

A Week Of Solidarity – The Final Day

I am 100% against all acts of war, violence, invasion, and the like. I also am extremely saddened by the current state of our world and how so many continue to treat each other. I’ve become very weary of all the judgements people keep on throwing at each other, the constant pointing of fingers, and the placing of blame everywhere else, but on ourselves. If you truly want to see change in the world, you must become the change, as no one can do that for you but yourself. Because of this, I have chosen to stage my own form of protest, my act of solidarity, by taking a full week off from my writing between Saturday, March 5th and Friday, March 11th for reflection and prayer. I will only be re-sharing these words each day and providing a single quote. May we all start loving each other a lot more unconditionally and work on building our own inner peace.

“Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.” (Og Mandino) 

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

A Week Of Solidarity – Day 6

I am 100% against all acts of war, violence, invasion, and the like. I also am extremely saddened by the current state of our world and how so many continue to treat each other. I’ve become very weary of all the judgements people keep on throwing at each other, the constant pointing of fingers, and the placing of blame everywhere else, but on ourselves. If you truly want to see change in the world, you must become the change, as no one can do that for you but yourself. Because of this, I have chosen to stage my own form of protest, my act of solidarity, by taking a full week off from my writing between Saturday, March 5th and Friday, March 11th for reflection and prayer. I will only be re-sharing these words each day and providing a single quote. May we all start loving each other a lot more unconditionally and work on building our own inner peace.

“Inner peace is the key. If you have inner peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace and tranquility. Without this inner peace, no matter how comfortable your life is materially, you may still be worried, disturbed, or unhappy because of circumstances.” (Dalai Lama)

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

A Week Of Solidarity – Day 5

I am 100% against all acts of war, violence, invasion, and the like. I also am extremely saddened by the current state of our world and how so many continue to treat each other. I’ve become very weary of all the judgements people keep on throwing at each other, the constant pointing of fingers, and the placing of blame everywhere else, but on ourselves. If you truly want to see change in the world, you must become the change, as no one can do that for you but yourself. Because of this, I have chosen to stage my own form of protest, my act of solidarity, by taking a full week off from my writing between Saturday, March 5th and Friday, March 11th for reflection and prayer. I will only be re-sharing these words each day and providing a single quote. May we all start loving each other a lot more unconditionally and work on building our own inner peace.

“The peace process we all aim for will not necessarily be a result of the mere singing of a treaty or agreement. It must become a matter of our everyday lives, so that peace settles and lasts and becomes supported by everybody. We therefore have to give peace all the required care and preserve it and promote it.” (Hassan II of Morocco)

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

A Week Of Solidarity – Day 4

I am 100% against all acts of war, violence, invasion, and the like. I also am extremely saddened by the current state of our world and how so many continue to treat each other. I’ve become very weary of all the judgements people keep on throwing at each other, the constant pointing of fingers, and the placing of blame everywhere else, but on ourselves. If you truly want to see change in the world, you must become the change, as no one can do that for you but yourself. Because of this, I have chosen to stage my own form of protest, my act of solidarity, by taking a full week off from my writing between Saturday, March 5th and Friday, March 11th for reflection and prayer. I will only be re-sharing these words each day and providing a single quote. May we all start loving each other a lot more unconditionally and work on building our own inner peace.

“Peace is the simplicity of heart, serenity of mind, tranquility of soul, the bond of love.” (Pio of Pietrelcina)

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

A Week Of Solidarity – Day 3

I am 100% against all acts of war, violence, invasion, and the like. I also am extremely saddened by the current state of our world and how so many continue to treat each other. I’ve become very weary of all the judgements people keep on throwing at each other, the constant pointing of fingers, and the placing of blame everywhere else, but on ourselves. If you truly want to see change in the world, you must become the change, as no one can do that for you but yourself. Because of this, I have chosen to stage my own form of protest, my act of solidarity, by taking a full week off from my writing between Saturday, March 5th and Friday, March 11th for reflection and prayer. I will only be re-sharing these words each day and providing a single quote. May we all start loving each other a lot more unconditionally and work on building our own inner peace.

“Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.” (Jawaharlal Nehru)

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

A Week Of Solidarity – Day 2

I am 100% against all acts of war, violence, invasion, and the like. I also am extremely saddened by the current state of our world and how so many continue to treat each other. I’ve become very weary of all the judgements people keep on throwing at each other, the constant pointing of fingers, and the placing of blame everywhere else, but on ourselves. If you truly want to see change in the world, you must become the change, as no one can do that for you but yourself. Because of this, I have chosen to stage my own form of protest, my act of solidarity, by taking a full week off from my writing between Saturday, March 5th and Friday, March 11th for reflection and prayer. I will only be re-sharing these words each day and providing a single quote. May we all start loving each other a lot more unconditionally and work on building our own inner peace.

“We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say we will not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

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

A Week Of Solidarity – Day 1

I am 100% against all acts of war, violence, invasion, and the like. I also am extremely saddened by the current state of our world and how so many continue to treat each other. I’ve become very weary of all the judgements people keep on throwing at each other, the constant pointing of fingers, and the placing of blame everywhere else, but on ourselves. If you truly want to see change in the world, you must become the change, as no one can do that for you but yourself. Because of this, I have chosen to stage my own form of protest, my act of solidarity, by taking a full week off from my writing between Saturday, March 5th and Friday, March 11th for reflection and prayer. I will only be re-sharing these words each day and providing a single quote. May we all start loving each other a lot more unconditionally and work on building our own inner peace.

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” (Mahatma Gandhi) 

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

Bullying Isn’t Cool…Even If A Father Tells His Son It Is…

I had just got done with a workout in the gym the other day, had showered already, and was feeling pretty good. As I got dressed, I overheard a father in his late 30’s in the next row of lockers talking to his son who I’d guess was 12 or so. “I love these type of lockers…” said the father. “Why Dad?” asked his son. “Because it reminds me of those good old days when I was in high school and used to push kids up against them…” It was obvious as I listened to their conversation that this father was once a bully and prided himself in that, letting his son know in the process that what he did was cool and ok back then. And you know what…it’s not.

After this father’s conversation with his son ended, I came very close to walking over to their row of lockers to say, “You know…I was one of those kids who once got pushed up against lockers like this for my entire childhood, and it wasn’t cool then and still isn’t now!” I didn’t do that, because I didn’t want to create a scene, or embarrass the father in front of his son, but it made me sad for this kid who heard the message in that moment that his father’s bullying was ok.

The following are some recent bullying statistics.

One out of every five students between 12 and 18 years old (about 20%) have reported being bullied. Of those who reported it, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted. 13% were the subject of rumors. 5% were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on. And 5% were excluded from activities on purpose. What’s even more alarming than these statistics were the ones for tweens (9 to 12 years old). In that age group, almost 50 percent have said they experienced bullying at school or online. Overall, the reasons reported for all bullying were related to physical appearance, race/ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, or sexual orientation. In my case, it was always due to physical appearance, given I was a goofy, lanky-looking type of guy in my younger years who didn’t wear any type of fashionable trends whatsoever.

Nevertheless, the main effects of bullying consist of depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, constant fear at school, lowered academic achievement, and dropping out of school. Bullied students often struggled with self-esteem and develop a negative effect on how they feel about themselves, something I personally battled with greatly for years and sometimes still do to this day. For me, the most alarming concern I’ve ever had for those who are being is connected to their suicide risk, as suicidal ideations and attempts are often great amongst those who have been bullied immensely.

At the core of this toxic behavior are parents like this locker room father, who never learned the pain their actions once caused others. I am quite sure that there are probably adults out there who still have bad memories of this father when he was a kid. It’s what makes me frequently wish that those who once bullied would experience what it feels like to be on the other side of it.

Being bullied is why I don’t have any real fond memories of high school and don’t have any desire to go back to reunions. Most of my memories of my grammar school years are being picked on, pushed down, books knocked out of my hands, ears flicked, spitballs thrown my way, all while constantly being called a dork, geek, or loser. It took me a long time to overcome the majority of the effects of being bullied. Regrettably to get there I became a bully myself when addictions were in control of me. But thankfully, God eventually showed me the effects of what my bullying was doing to those I did it to, and the pain it caused them. It’s precisely what led me to stop the behavior once and for all and also to forgive those who did it to me.

What I’ve learned about bullying through much therapy is that the only reason why anyone does it is due to being deeply insecure about some part of themselves. Maybe it’s because the person they are bullying is someone who has something they want. Maybe it’s because they are attracted to them. Maybe it’s because they just want the focus taken off of them. Or maybe it’s because their parents are bullying them, and they feel the need to take that out on someone else.

Regardless of whatever the reason, bullying is toxic and continues to be a cancer upon this world. It stops when parents start teaching their kids that it’s wrong, instead of glorifying it, like in a locker room at my local gym, where a child learned the other day from his father that bullying was cool, when it isn’t, and never will be…

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

How Feeling Invisible During Lunch With Another Became A Blessing In Disguise…

I was clearly reminded the other day during lunch with another, of a former life where I once had loads of money daily at my fingertips. A former life that would alter my ego so much, that I became totally oblivious to the fact that I cared more about myself and all my worldly life achievements than those I spent time with.

Having lunch or just spending time with anyone in general is always a blessing to me because I often find myself spending time alone. So, when I got invited to break bread with someone that I really didn’t know all too well other than from brief time spent with them in the rooms of recovery from addiction, I quickly accepted the invitation and looked forward to it.

When the day arrived for that lunch, this individual picked me up, as I didn’t have a vehicle given it was in the shop for repair. Upon entering their car, they immediately apologized for having to use their relatively new Lexus that was normally meant for transporting their dogs. I learned quickly after that they had at least six other vehicles in a ten-car garage, some being extremely high end, which suddenly led to this compulsion to verbally expel an apology for me living in the ghetto. Their response to that was how they once had to live in a place just like mine. Over the next two hours, I’d learn all about every place they’ve been recently and every place they’re going to in the upcoming weeks, as well as all the high-end suites they’ve stayed in during those travels. I’d learn how big their house is and how many Christmas trees they put up in it during this holiday season. And I’d learn about the many prominent business entrepreneurs they’re connected to and all their future business prospects as well. But what I didn’t learn is why they actually wanted to spend time with me in the first place because not once was I ever asked about anything in my life whatsoever. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not a single instance during our entire time together did they try to get to know me better, which by the end of it left me not only feeling less than, but also wishing I had just stayed home. When I got dropped back off at my house, I still tried to give them a hug though, like I always do with everyone I spend time with, but it was meant with an uncomfortable response of how their Lexus wasn’t conducive for hugs. But there was a blessing in disguise through all this.

I was this person not too long ago. Back before I lost my bed and breakfast in 2010, when I easily could spend anywhere between $5k and $10k a month, that is exactly how I used to be, except I didn’t know it. I was completely oblivious to how I acted with my income I had then. While I was surrounded by a lot of people then, it was all superficial and I never cared much to go deeper with anyone I spent time with. That is unless there was something in it for me. Rarely did I care about how others were doing or how they were feeling. I had little to no empathy for anyone or anything, except for myself.

Money has a way of doing that to a person. It has a way of going to one’s head, which is no different than any other addiction frankly. With any addiction, the quest is always on getting more of that addiction and chasing after what it has done, can do, and will do for an individual. In this case, money can become the focus of one’s life where it’s used for ego, to flaunt upon others. And I know that all too well from how I once was, but thankfully, I live quite differently now, having been humbled through many losses over the past decade or so. This humility I’ve experienced has really helped me to realize the power that money once held over me. A power that left me mostly void of kindness, unconditional love, and a true empathy for the people God placed on my path.

So, in the end, having this lunch with this individual where my life became invisible to all their financial successes actually became a blessing in disguise, as it clearly reminded me of how far I’ve come on my spiritual journey. Because today, I care more about the lives and hearts of those I spend time with, wanting to know each of them more deeply, rather than living in my ego, where I was always focusing more on myself and what I had than anything else.

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

Do You Ever Feel Like You Are Damaged Goods?

If you are one of those who’s gone through a lot in life where much of what you’ve endured has left you scarred spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and maybe even physically, then maybe you might feel like I do, like you are damaged goods that no one wants.

I fight this feeling on many days over the last few years, where I really do feel like I am damaged goods at some store, on some shelf, on sale for some very low price, that most people just pass on by because it looks too tattered and torn. While that’s how I feel quite often in life these days, I continue to do my best to overcome it.

Truth is, I do have a lot of “scars” in my life that have led so many to avoid getting to know me because I’m not always that upbeat self like I once was. Having gone through what I have has definitely affected me incredibly and carrying as much physical pain as I do on most days, I struggle to be that beacon of sunshine that people like to gravitate towards to get to know. Thankfully, my partner Chris, a few dear friends, and my sister Laura overlook all this, and accept me as I am, something I’m so grateful for. Because on most days, I do feel more alone than not carrying the scars that I do.

I have watched over the years so many people drift in and out of my life due to these scars. Some have left as soon as they find out I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict, as they think they’ll be judged if they drink or do drugs or enjoy any other thing that I don’t do anymore due to former addictions. Others leave when they learn how troubled my past was with my parent’s tragic deaths or being molested by a coach, as it’s too intense for them to hear, usually due to shadows they haven’t faced within themselves yet. And lately, many seem to disappear from my life when they see the amount of physical and emotional pain I’m in. While they usually try to solve it at first for me, they tend to get frustrated when they can’t, blaming me somehow for the pain still being there, and then distancing themselves in the process.

All of this has left me quite tattered and torn, and feeling battered and tired. But there is One that I believe still sees me as beautiful as the day I was born into this life, that sees the good I continue to bring into this world as best as I can, and knows the caring and loving heart I still have, and that’s God. While many in this world may continue to see me with tainted and judgmental eyes, I believe that God sees me like no other.

While I don’t know exactly who or what God is, I know there is Something out there, up there, around me, and in me, that is beyond my understanding, that continues to give me just enough to keep going, to not give up, and is still willing to pay full price for this damaged good sitting on that store’s lonely sale shelf.

So, if you have ever felt like this, like you are damaged goods in this world, please take a moment, breathe, and know you aren’t alone. Know that God sees you far differently, as I do as well. God loves you unconditionally and so do I. While we may appear to be damaged goods to the rest of the world, know we will always be priceless in God’s eyes and heart.

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

I Feel Like I’m Living Out An Episode Of The Twilight Zone Titled “The Pandemic”

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” That was the original beginning monologue for The Twilight Zone many eons ago, which sometimes I really relate to and feel lately like I’m living in an episode of it titled “The Pandemic”.

In this episode, we are all living in a world where the Covid-19 virus has truly changed the course of society forever, where life has become a total division of vaccinated versus unvaccinated individuals, where every thought, word, and action seems to surround this piece of information, including even being invited and subsequently uninvited to a Christmas party.

This year is the first year my partner Chris and I didn’t really have any solid Christmas Day plans to be away, to cook, or do anything specific. Tentatively, we and another friend were thinking about going to a local buffet, that was until I spoke with another friend who invited us to their annual Christmas Day feast, something we’ve been to before. Over the course of that invite process, I was asked if I was vaccinated or not, which of course I answered truthfully like I always do, and responded I wasn’t. This led to a long discourse back and forth, that ultimately ended with me being uninvited solely due to my vaccine status. Alone in my room after that conversation was me on my knees by my bedside, sobbing to God, asking why our world has become like this, especially during a time of the season when the true meaning is to share in unconditional love with each other.

As I continue to navigate through this very elongated episode of The Twilight Zone, remaining unvaccinated, not out of defiance, but more from fears over the many health complications I already have, I am left wondering how far this division will go. Several countries around the world already have locked unvaccinated individuals out of society, essentially barring them from going out at all and doing anything, with Germany being the latest to do so. Is it that far of a stretch to believe that all of us who remain unvaccinated for whatever our reasons, justified or not, will eventually be rounded up and forced to vaccinate or put into some sort of concentration camps where we are locked away from society?

I’ve had Covid, and a very bad case at that, one that almost landed me in the hospital, and it wasn’t fun. Yes, this is a serious virus and one that may be with us forever, something that I feel could play itself out so easily in an episode of The Twilight Zone. But I don’t believe this virus is still around in the way it is, as strong of a presence it still has, because of people like me. Yet, I continue to be the source of blame for many anyway, rounded into a group in society where hatred is directed more than anything.

I’m a child of God and I love ALL people, from ALL walks of society, and am a person that during this time of the season, would never…ever…consider banning anyone from coming to a Christmas get-together due to their vaccinate status. Because the meaning of this season for me is one of acceptance, inclusion, connection, and love. Isn’t that what the “Christ” in Christmas was supposed to be about?

Regardless, I really hope to wake up from this crazy episode of The Twilight Zone one day soon, where invitations to things like a Christmas party aren’t dependent on anything and are just freely given, where one’s vaccine status isn’t a factor in the acceptance for anything, and where the holidays themselves are back to focusing more on what the true meaning is meant to be, that being sharing unconditional love with others…vaccinated or not…

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

A Far Different Take On Christmas 2021…

It most definitely feels strange to be experiencing Christmas this year in such a different way from prior ones.

Coming home after a long Thanksgiving vacation down South to a completely unlit and empty yard with only our outdoor garage and side porch lights on felt very odd. Odd compared to the typical Clark Griswold display I normally would put up every year well before mid-November even arrives.

Seeing our now cold and dark yard brought out feelings of both relief and sorrow. Relief that I didn’t have thousands of lights to ensure remained on for the next month or so, but sorrow over how lonely my yard looked, especially when so many of our neighbors had holiday lights and decorations adorning theirs. As I took all that in though, something came to me I never quite saw before, and that’s how far I’ve grown away from what I feel the meaning of Christmas is meant to be.

The meaning of Christmas over the past bunch of years for me was more about making my house look amazing and then showing it off on Facebook and to friends. Christmas was always more about outdoing myself from prior years with my decorating. The pressure I put on myself to do so took far more precedence over the true meaning of the holiday season, which I believe to in the sharing unconditional love with everyone. As a kid, I didn’t experience that either.

While Christmas wasn’t so much about putting up huge holiday lights and displays, it still was very superficial in that our family did incredible amounts of holiday shopping and spending. That behavior carried well into my adulthood where big and lavish gifts meant lots of love. When I finally moved away from the gift-giving side of things for the holiday season, it became more about engaging in another aspect of holiday superficiality, in my decorating. Without that whatsoever this festive season, I clearly saw how most of my prior Christmas holidays have constantly been focused on one ego-aspect or another.

On average, if I was to guess, I probably spent close to $500 or more on my decorating during prior holiday seasons, which honestly is no different than now much I used to spend on gifts as well. That’s a big reason why this year I chose to do neither and instead simply focus on just being more unconditionally loving.

Having a completely Christmas-free home has surely helped with that because I haven’t been focusing on all those ego-based aspects of the holidays. Making my home shine so brightly in years past where you could see it from several streets over was definitely more about ego than unconditional love. The same can be said of many of the gifts I bought for former partners, friends, and family in holidays past.

Of course, it always felt good to have neighbors compliment my outdoor Christmas displays and see cars driving by slowly taking pictures. It also consistently felt good to see people’s jaws drop after opening the lavish gifts I once bought them during the holidays. But all of that was me just trying to outdo everyone else. Ego. Ego. Ego. And when so much ego is present, it’s pretty hard to focus on the true meaning of the holiday season.

So I’m glad that I have a dark home this year without all that ego in action. It’s very much helped to shift my thinking and place my focus more onto what should have always mattered during every prior holiday season. Because at the core of each holiday season, whether one is religious or not, believing in Jesus or not, is the desire to share unconditional love with each other, something that becomes very difficult to do when the focus becomes more about overly spending on gifts or outdoor displays and trying to outdo everyone, including even myself…

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

The Many Freedoms I Still Have That Many Others Don’t In Other Places Around The World…

I read just recently about a guy that got caught smuggling copies of Netflix’s hit Korean series The Squid Game into North Korea. He was sentenced to death by firing squad! Reading this made me realize I probably have a lot more freedoms living in the United States than I ever would in plenty of other places around the world.

Take my sexuality for example. There are places in this world still that just for being in a same-sex relationship I could be arrested and even put to death. 69 countries in fact have laws that remain in place that criminalize homosexuality. Or take the many different types of religious practices I’ve participated in over the years that range from Pagan to Buddhist to Christian. There are places where I could be arrested and even put to death for some of them. 187 countries in fact have laws that remain that support religious persecution. After doing a little more research on the many freedoms I have as an American, I can honestly say I was surprised, maybe only because I often focus more on all the travesties continuing to happen within our borders. But truly if I look beyond that, there is a considerable number of freedoms I still have here that I wouldn’t elsewhere and I’m sure is precisely why so many refugees flee here.

Take for example how interesting some of the names we give our children in this country. Here you could name your kid “Firecracker” or “Dynamite” if you wanted to, but countries like Germany, Japan, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland you are limited on what you can name your kids. Or how about the fact that we can wear what we want when out and about like a person I once knew who regularly wore a squirrel tail around for cosplay purposes. In countries like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Sudan, and France, wearing the wrong thing can be a punishable offense. And consider the fact that ending relationships and starting new ones through divorce or otherwise in our country is all the common these days, but in places like the Philippines and Malta for example, there are severe restrictions in place that prevent such a thing causing people to have to remain in relationships even if they don’t want to anymore. Even things down to hairstyles is a freedom here, where I’ve seen countless interesting hairdos over the years, but in Iran for example it’s a punishable offense to have a mullet or a fauxhawk! Oh, and I mustn’t forget that what I view on the Internet here is far more expansive than in other countries such as China or Russia who severely restrict what people see on it. And there are plenty of other freedoms that I rarely, if ever, think about as well that range from my ability to chew gum when and where I want to, to my right to defend myself, where doing the opposite for in some places in the world could be considered criminal acts.

The bottom line is that for as much as our country may still have its fair share of problems, as evident in unfair trials and blatant acts of racism that often seem to go unpunished, I still consider it a blessing to be living in this land versus many of the others around the world where many of my freedoms I have wouldn’t be present.

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

What’s Most Important To Me Today In All My Relationships Is…

One of the biggest questions I have asked myself over the years is what’s most important to me in my relationships, whether it’s with a partner or with friends. A long time ago that answer would have resided on the physical level, all because of addiction still running my life at the time. These days, not so much. What’s most important to me now resides more on the emotional level and most specifically, it’s to be heard, accepted, and unconditionally loved.

I used to ONLY look for partnerships and friendships with those I had serious attraction to. In all honesty, my whole world was once built upon nothing but physical attraction. What that translated to was that if I didn’t find you attractive, I tended not to see you. I feel very different from that nowadays. While I do have a partner and some friends whom I find attractive, I don’t specifically look for only that anymore. What I seek now are people I can connect with on an emotional level, because it’s the very thing I never had much of growing up.

Growing up, I wanted my parents to listen to me, especially on those difficult days. But my Dad was always so busy with work and my mother always so busy with her drinking that I really don’t remember ever having a healthy conversation with either where I truly felt heard, accepted, and unconditionally loved. The only person who ever took the time to really listen to me as a kid was a man with a hidden agenda that eventually molested me. Therefore, it’s an amazing blessing to me today when someone asks me what’s going on in my life and then truly listens to what I share, where when the sharing is done, I feel supported in just being simply heard.

This is precisely why I feel now that one of the best gifts anyone can offer me, partner, friend, or otherwise, is that of listening and offering non-judgmental love and non-biased support. Sometimes all a person really wants in life is just to have someone listen to them. Most people don’t know how to do this. They listen with judgment, thinking of what they need to offer as advice, tending to listen with a biased ear and using things like the Internet to find answers and solutions, hoping to fix the other person’s stuff, when sometimes the best level of support for anyone is just to listen, offering nothing, except silence and maybe words of encouragement afterwards, such as “I appreciate you sharing this with me and I love you.” It’s what I long for in my relationship with my partner and in each of my friendships as well, and it’s what I strive for personally in how I am with others too.

Presently, most of my sharing with others is about the brokenness I continue to face with my health and how frustrating my life has become because of it. Most don’t know how to handle this and get frustrated hearing me constantly talk about it when they ask how I’m doing. It’s why I sometimes I just say all’s good now and listen to them instead about what’s going on in their life. Because when I tend to share about what I’m going through for the millionth time, most end up judging me that I’m not doing enough, that I’m wallowing in my pain with self-pity, that there’s others worse off out there, and that they have a solution I should try. None of this ever makes me feel better. All of that reminds me of how it was as a kid. My friend Cedric is the only one in my life who really does an incredible job listening without bias and judgment and I always feel so much better after receiving his unconditional love through that. I have no idea how long my suffering will last and I’m doing my best to work through it and accept it, which is why having people in my life to listen to my pain, even if it’s all I have to share, means more to me than anyone will ever know.

So, what’s most important to me today in all my relationships? It’s to develop emotional connections with others, where I’m heard, loved, and accepted, just as I am, where I’m not given advice or guidance, or judged after sharing, and where the only thing that matters afterwards is letting each other know how much they’re loved unconditionally, including all flaws and imperfections, and everything in between.

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

Global Warming…Something I Can’t Ignore Anymore…

You can definitely say I’m one of those on this planet now who’s concerned about global warming. I wasn’t really in year’s past though, as experiencing subzero temperatures for many days and even weeks in a row, year after year, here in Toledo where I reside has a way of making one think about anything other than global warming. But, with what I’ve seen in nature in 2021, both here, and around the world, I am definitely growing more and more concerned.

After doing a little research on the internet I learned a lot about global warming. Climate change is intensifying our water cycle. This is turn is bringing about more intense rainfall and associated flooding in some areas or no rainfall whatsoever and intense drought for other areas. The sea level is rising rapidly with coastal flooding and erosion becoming far more frequent now. Extreme weather events that previously occurred here and there are now happening on a regular basis, every single year. I find it so amazing that the small global temperature increases of only a few degrees over the last century have changed so much about our weather and nature on our planet. I was shocked to learn that this cranking up of the temperature is making the oceans alone absorb the heat equivalent of five Hiroshima atomic bombs dropping into the water every second. That’s just mind boggling to ponder. The last time it was hotter than it is now is estimated to be at least 125,000 years ago. Earth’s atmosphere is now saturated with so many emissions from human activity, that the warmth it’s trapping is leading to more frequent periods of extreme heat and causing things like a billion sea creatures to die like it did in the Pacific this year alone. At this rate, it’s said that the heat will eventually push societies to the limits with such stifling humidity that will prevent sweat from evaporating and making it difficult for any of us to cool down. The same intense heat will also lead to more and more widespread wildfires, droughts, crop losses, and worse.

That being said, up until 2021, I can honestly say that although I constantly heard about global warming and saw signs of it on the news regularly in coverages of these growing climatic disasters, I never really witnessed it firsthand here at home. But this year, I finally did. Rare diseases hitting my yard and so many others around here well into October, diseases that are only based upon high humidity and heat. Maple trees all getting tarspot and losing their leaves in droves like it’s fall that started back in late June. Seeing insects that usually only have a spring to early summer cycle show up in droves all the way into late summer and early fall. Spiders have exploded in population this year around here! Perennials that normally start to go dormant by mid-September, blooming well in mid-October and even sprouting new growth. Heck, I’m still wearing shorts and t-shirts and October is already midway over. This time last year I was wearing sweatshirts and long pants almost a month earlier!

The fact is, global warming is real, but what can I do? The following is a list of the things I found online that each of us can begin to look into:

  • Speak Up (This is my first step in this!)
  • Power your home with renewable energy (Someday I’d really like to have a fully solar-powered home!)
  • Weatherize (Our home is pretty good with this already thankfully!)
  • Invest in energy-efficient appliances (An ongoing process that I have already begun a good while ago!)
  • Reduce water waste (Something I struggle doing due to my long showers!)
  • Eat the food you buy and make less of it meat (Thank you Mom and Dad for teaching me this long ago!)
  • But better bulbs (Been doing this one for a good long while already!)
  • Pull the plugs (Been doing this one for a good while too!)
  • Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle (Yay! My hybrid counts!)
  • Maintain your ride (Yay! I definitely do this one too with 280,000 miles and counting!)
  • Rethink plants, trains, automobiles in travel (Well the pandemic definitely led to this for me!)
  • Shrink your carbon profile (I need to look into this one further!)

All in all, I feel better in knowing I am already doing a good part in reducing global warming. I do hope to own a fully electric vehicle one day and I’m sure eventually all my outdoor equipment will be electric as well. Nevertheless, global warming is eventually going to kill our planet if we don’t each do something about it. I plan to keep doing my part, and hopefully you will too…

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

Remembering 9/11, 20 Years Later…

I’m sure we all have our stories, of where we were when the first plane hit the first trade tower in New York City, now 20 years ago today. People don’t talk as much anymore about those events that unfolded on 9/11/2001, as there have been so many others to focus on in all the years since, especially lately with this ongoing pandemic and continuing losses of life from it.

Personally, 9/11/2001 hit me far harder and affected my life far deeper than this pandemic has having been from New York, having had a family member on that first plane, and having personally witnessed a part of it so close to my home back then. The fact is the events on 9/11 will most likely be ingrained upon my brain for the rest of this life for me.

I clearly still see myself standing in the café at the job I was working at back then, watching news coverage of the first tower smoking from the plane that had hit it. Seeing another plane hit the other tower, I quickly realized this was far more than an accident. Silence was all that could be heard amongst those around me after that. I went back to my desk and ate the egg sandwich I had purchased at that café. I kept trying to get onto the Internet to no avail when a co-worker suddenly yelled a plane had just crashed into the Pentagon. My heart raced, given I was living and working a mere 10 miles or so from there. My employer quickly rushed us all out the door to go be with our loved ones. I silently wondered if this was the beginning of a war.

The highways around D.C. were all gridlocked as everyone else scrambled to get home. I was quite sure they were all afraid like I was for our major metropolitan area. As F-16’s screamed overhead, the Internet still not working, and all cell phone towers down, my drive home seemed to go on forever. I found myself really worrying about my partner who had a much farther drive than I to get home. Thankfully, he was already there by the time I arrived. While he sat glued to the news on the television, I was in shock, given I was from New York, that I had just gone up those towers the year prior, and that I knew people who worked in the towers and the pentagon. At that point I didn’t know who was affected or how bad this was going to end up being, so I did the only thing I had to do, I went out and cut my grass, trying not to think about it. It didn’t work.

I think at that point I was already developing PTSD over the events unfolding, with the news continuing to show the towers collapsing repeatedly. On some level, I wanted to believe none of this was real, so I got into my car with my partner and drove to the Pentagon. Seeing the plane smoking in the side of the Pentagon made the events of 9/11 far too real. Learning shortly thereafter of the loss of one of my family members on my sister’s husband’s side, who wasn’t even meant to be on that plane that day but took an earlier flight home to surprise his wife, hit my heart hard. Having my cousin who was NYPD, call me from the scene in New York, describing what he was experiencing was even worse.

It took me a year to get over the shock of 9/11’s events, which at some point I realized I had to stop watching all news coverage of it, for it was only preventing that from happening. I was in therapy solidly for that entire time to get through the PTSD from it all, which to this day, 20 years later, I still don’t like seeing the news footage of smoking and crumbling buildings, people jumping from them, soot-covered faces, or the like.

I visited Ground Zero a few years after those tragic events to come to peace with it all and have since visited there a few more times. If there is one thing comes up each time I do, it’s the sadness I have that anyone could ever believe God would ever advocate for such a terrorist act, when in my book, God is unconditional love, and destruction and death like 9/11 is the exact opposite.

May all those who died or were tragically affected on 9/11 be at peace now.

It’s most assuredly a day that I’m sure many of us will never forget…

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

Getting Over Regret With 3225 Nealon Drive…

Have you ever gone back to look at an old home you once lived in and have fond memories of? Maybe a childhood home? Or a home you built your own family around? I recently did that at 3225 Nealon Drive, Falls Church, VA, which was the address of the first and only home so far that I’ve ever purchased in this life, and it was most definitely an emotional event for me, one that initially brought me regret.

On a recent trip to Northern Virginia, I opted to head over to my old neighborhood where the home I once owned and place so much TLC into still stood. The last time I had visited the property was the summer of 2011 and much of what I had beautified the place with continued to flourish. The serene backyard and gardens were still there just like the day I had left them behind, which brought me great happiness. But, when I pulled up to the front of the same home just over a week ago now, 10 years later almost to the day, everything I had put into it was now gone. The crape myrtle I had planted in the front, the lush green backyard, the gardens around the front and side, and the Japanese maple that I had received as a gift for my 30th birthday, were now all gone. Even the huge deck I had built in the back to overlook the creek that lay beyond was now converted into this strange makeshift sunroom. All of this brought me great sadness. Sadness because none of the love I had put into improving the home and property remained there anymore. Essentially all of me was now gone from there. As I stood there and stared at the property, even talking to one the new owners who really loved the place, I found myself experiencing regret. Regret for what the place was now worth and regret for how none of what I had given to it from my heart and soul remained. For a while after leaving, I allowed that regret to consume me.

I couldn’t believe the place was now worth well over $600K, which incidentally, was not from any improvements made to it. It’s only because of its location being inside the beltway and so close to Washington, DC, as well as a Metro transit stop. And while I had sold it for a profit back in 2003, sadly, I lost it all in a business that eventually went belly up, that I only bought into because I codependently had been trying to save a relationship back then. And then thinking about all those improvements I had made both inside and outside now being completely gone, it was just too much for my mind and ego to comprehend.

To get over that regret, it took me remembering that quite a few good things came into my life only because I had sold that home and moved on. Good things like meeting my friend Steve Furness on the island where that business was, who was the sole reason why I eventually became a writer, as he worked for two local newspapers and helped me to become a columnist for them. Good things like developing a close friendship with Christy Lynn, a person I only met because she worked for our business and helped to manage it. And then I can’t forget that my entire life in Massachusetts only arose when my life on that island ended abruptly. As in Massachusetts it’s where I’d grow closer to my sister, my twin nephews, learn 12 Step recovery, volunteer and become more selfless in life, and develop closer relationships with my dear friends Cedric and Debbie.

So, while my mind struggled completely with regret over the value of my old home and the improvements I made now all being erased, I was able to find peace in my heart and get over any of that regret by remembering that some pretty dam good things wouldn’t have happened in my life if I had chosen to remain at 3225 Nealon Drive to this day.

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

The Source Of That Negative Energy We See Isn’t “Out There”, It’s In Us…

I often think that the main problem in our world is how many of us focus vast quantities of negative energy on some issue that’s “out there”, rather than working on the source of all that negative energy, which is ultimately within us.

Lately, it seems as if everywhere I go, everyone has a negative opinion about this pandemic, especially when it comes to the vaccinated versus unvaccinated. At the gym the other day, I overheard a guy angrily talking about one of his wife’s family members who wasn’t following the same path he was when it came to how the virus was being handled. He spent at least 30 minutes bashing this other person who wasn’t even present to defend themselves. Last year this negative energy was focused on the Biden versus Trump and Democrats versus Republicans ordeal. Just prior to that when the pandemic began, it was the masked versus maskless. And before that was how people viewed the “MeToo” movement and so on. All of this has left me wondering why we keep on focusing on what’s wrong with the world, rather than looking within at the source of all this negativity.

I love what Bill Wilson once wrote about this very thing in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous so long ago now. He said, “Our actor is self-centered, ego-centric, as people like it to call it nowadays. He is like the retired businessman who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation; the minister who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; politician and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoholic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity? Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.”

Look, I’m not innocent in any of this and am just as guilty. I can easily get caught up in the latest drama in the world and how I think it should be handled better. But, in all reality, does any of my negative opinion surrounding some issue make any bit of a difference. The reality is no.

Buddhism talks much about this, that the world will always look imbalanced to us for so long as the world within us remains imbalanced. 12 Step recovery says it slightly different in that every resentment and every bit of negativity we feel towards someone or something is really about ourselves and some selfish, self-seeking, dishonest or fear-based thing within. In light of that, at the core, here’s the harsh reality I’ve come to learn as the truth in my own life.

Even if this pandemic went completely away right now, in the blink of an eye, something else is going to take its place that will annoy me, where I’ll want to channel my negativity energy towards, talking about it to anyone who’ll listen, expelling it outward, even going so far as to share it in one negative posting after another on social media, thinking it will somehow make a difference in how I feel. It never does, as doing so only expands the negative energy we feel. I’ve experienced this quite well when my health gets the best of me and I start sending that negative energy outward towards some issue I see in the world I don’t like, when it’s really my pain that I don’t like.

Nevertheless, at some point, this pandemic will end and when it does, are you just going to shift your negative energy about it onto the next thing in life? Maybe it’s time for all of us to really take a hard look within and see why we are being negative in the first place about one issue after another in this world. I know from personal experience that doing so does a far better job of dispelling that negative energy, just as much as I know that continuing to share it outwardly is going to do nothing but make it grow even stronger within us…

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

2,443 People And 2 Trillion Dollars…

2,443 people and 2 trillion dollars. That’s the number of service members who died from oversees duty in Afghanistan and the amount of money that was spent by the United States on all the war efforts we had there over 20 years of time.

As I sit here and reflect on those numbers and the sudden Taliban takeover of Afghanistan just over a week or so ago now, I am extremely saddened. Saddened for the people still there who don’t want to be there anymore. Saddened for all those who can’t escape. Saddened for all those lives lost over there. Saddened for all the families affected by those lives lost. And saddened for each of those who returned home and have PTSD now, have become homeless, are addicted to drugs, or worse. I’ve met several of them.

People continue to compare what happened in Afghanistan to what happened in Vietnam. I wasn’t alive for the majority of the Vietnam War and was only three years old when it finally ended, so I can’t comment on any potential comparison. What I do know is that the $300 million that was spent per day in Afghanistan for 20 consecutive years could have changed countless lives for the better here within our own borders, through any number of programs. From hunger to homelessness, health care to addiction, and everything in between, I struggle to fathom all the financial waste our country put into the Afghanistan war and many other wars as well.

I’m sure there are many veterans who served in Afghanistan struggling right now to understand why they were even over there given the Taliban now have full control of the country. I personally have worked in the 12 Step recovery field with a few veterans of this war myself, who are mentally and emotionally unstable now, living with massive PTSD because of their time served there. The struggles they’ve had using drugs to cope with it all seems like it was so unnecessary and shouldn’t have ever happened in the first place.

Why our country must always put ourselves into the affairs of other countries when we have countless struggles going on here that are desperate for help, I have no idea. I’m not a fan of war, or violence, and have lived long enough now to know that much of our country’s money is spent on military efforts outside our borders.

I’m sure many of the veterans of this war itself believed in what they were doing for their years served. But seeing how none of it matters now, I can’t even fathom what they must be feeling, especially those who lost limbs, sight, hearing, or became disabled in some other way from their time over there.

I also feel sorrow for every single person living in our country who has family in Afghanistan still. I know of one person going through this presently and how deeply it’s affecting them, how powerless, and helpless they feel over it all and my heart reaches out to them and others just like them.

While I’m all for protecting our borders for any threats that may hit our soil, I’m definitely not in support of putting our countries interests in the affairs of other countries, because it always seems to come at the expense of our soldiers and many of our citizens as well.

That’s why I pray that the U.S. will one day stop spending so much money on military efforts and instead work more on bringing peace amongst ourselves here in our own borders, as there are countless people in need in every city, of every state, and probably even on the very street you live on.

Nevertheless, my prayers go out to all those who have been affected by the war in Afghanistan, who are presently experiencing the pain and brokenness of it all. May you each be comforted in knowing I care and may you all receive blessings in your efforts to heal and come to a place of  peace within.

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

“Well, We Are Living In A Fallen World!”

My friend Cedric and I often joke about the times we are living in. Pretty much every conversation that comes up we tend to talk about any of the tragic current events happening around the world where inevitably one of us always laughingly reminds the other that, “Well, we are living in a fallen world!” But here’s the sad truth, it really does feel like we are nowadays.

All it takes to see this is to read any of the news headlines. I happen to glance at them last week and saw how quickly the Taliban terrorist group took over Afghanistan just as the U.S. troops were pulling out. Add in the ridiculously huge fires burning out of control. Massive droughts. Volcanoes erupting. Gun violence and mass shootings happening all the time. Political unrest. The pandemic of course and everyone yelling at each other at how it needs to be controlled. Then more local to home I notice how bad addiction has grown in the volunteer opportunities I do. People are dying from overdoses to alcohol and drugs more so now than ever before. And oddly enough, the strange weather patterns in my area have led to weird patterns like all the leaves coming down in droves this entire summer where it feels like I’m having to do fall cleanup every single day.

These are just some of the many things I notice seem off now in our world and I feel like everyone just keeps going on about their business hoping COVID will just go away and once it does, that life will return to some sense of normalcy. I question now whether it ever will. Because the one thing that doesn’t seem to be changing much is how we are treating each other through it all.

Yes, there are those out there who are doing their best to be selfless through these difficult times, who defy the “fallen world” concept and regularly help others from the kindness of their hearts. I’d like to believe I’m one of them, as I do try very hard to help others each day. I’m thankful when I hear stories of people doing Good Samaritan acts during these times, as I know it most definitely helps to reverse any “fallen world” trend.

My friend Steve told me how his partner Chris lost his wallet during a recent trip and didn’t have enough gas in his car to get home. A Good Samaritan filled his car fully up and then abruptly disappeared without asking for a single thing. I wish acts like this were the norm in our world. When the pandemic first hit, and people were forced to quarantine, I saw much of this happening. I saw many doing their part to defy the “fallen world” trend by paying it forward, like at many of the drive-thru’s I went through. I’m not sure what happened to all those good deeds people were doing on a daily basis, but if there is something we desperately need a lot more of in our “fallen world” right now, it’s people doing those Good Samaritan acts of kindness on a regular basis.

Look, people are frustrated. They’re tired. And they’re weary. The world feels more down than up these days to many of us. And loneliness seems to be one of the more common things I hear people suffering from, which I most assuredly can relate to. The best way to overcome all of this is to get out of ourselves and help another from the kindness of our hearts. Because the more we just take care of ourselves, focusing on our own selfish nature, the more our “fallen world” will only progress, and the more our world will continue to feel like it’s falling apart. But the more we do good unto others, asking nothing in return, the more we can reverse this trend and even shift the tide back towards the positive.

I really try every day to do something nice for another whether that’s with my partner Chris or with a sponsee from recovery or with a group I’m speaking to about addiction or with a total stranger in need. And I always feel better about myself and this world in general when I do. Today, I mowed a neighbor’s yard across the street just because I wanted to brighten their day and you know what, I saw the world in a far more positive light after I did, and at least in my own way, I feel like I helped to reverse the “fallen world”, even if for a moment.

When living in my former life of addiction on countless levels, I absolutely contributed to a “fallen world” on more days than not. Today, I do my best to live out the 12th Step to reverse that negative course of my addictive past, to help shift the present drama of the world around me, and make my own selfless mark upon society, something I desperately pray we all try doing far more of if we ever want to see the world no longer appearing “fallen”…

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

My Biggest Weakness In Life Is…

I know what my biggest weakness in my life is. It’s something that’s been with me since I was a young kid. What is it? It’s the tendency I have to own what other people think of me.

I know how this began and why it developed into a repeating pattern, but I’ve been relatively unsuccessful in fixing it. I’ve done enough work in my life though to at least know it started with having an alcoholic mother and my codependent relationship with her, with me constantly vying for her unconditional love and undivided attention. Typically, I never got much of that no matter how hard I tried so I regularly tried instead to get it from others, which is when I really noticed I had the tendency to own most everything people said about me, especially the negative. I clearly remember people back then saying more than not that I was such a nerd, a dork, a geek, a loser, etc. And I believed them. That didn’t change until I became more of a chameleon in life, blending into my surroundings with each person I spent time with. I found it really helped in reducing all those negative comments about me. Sadly, I kept that fakeness up for a very long time, well over two decades really, until I finally reverted back to a much more authentic self. Unfortunately, becoming my authentic self has also caused a tremendous amount of polarization with others, especially in recent years, leaving me a target far too often for other people’s negative comments.

When someone on my blog not too long ago called me a “hot mess”, it really hurt because I owned it, but I know I shouldn’t have. When I spoke of my faith being stronger over any fears I had of COVID when the pandemic first started, I received an amazing amount of backlash and hatred, leaving me quite miserable and down. Talking about my past addictions as openly as I have has also led to many negative comments too, leaving me more down than up. In fact, much of the negative things that are said of me on social media or behind my back tend to stem from my articles or my speaking engagements. I seem to frequently be a target for people’s negative opinions the more truthful and authentic I am in life.

One thing that has helped me in this though is knowing that when someone says negative things about me, it says more about them, rather than me. I’ve learned that those negative things people say are generally projections from their own lives, from their own deep-seated insecurities. It’s essentially them just pointing the finger away from themselves so that they don’t have to look in the mirror at their own stuff. Regardless, here’s the bottom line that I know to be true about myself regardless of what other people think of me.

I’m a good person with a good heart and I do my best these days to help others. I have far more of a selfless nature now than a selfish one and I genuinely love and accept everyone for who they are, no matter what. Why I get attacked regularly, why people form such strong negative opinions of me, and why I often hear not so nice things about me, I’m not exactly sure. What I am sure of is that I don’t have to own them anymore. God loves me just as I am and I need to start doing a much better job of doing the same for myself, knowing that what others think of me, especially when it’s negative, has nothing to do with me, it has all to do with them and their own imbalanced natures.

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

For All Those Who Keep A Wall Around Their Heart…

People who are negative and angry all the time usually don’t even know they are. At the source of it always seems to be the same thing, a closed heart.

The exact reason why I was so negative and angry for most of my life was due to the wall I had erected around my heart, which stemmed from all the pain I endured from parental alcoholism, being bullied, molested, and the like. I kept that wall around my heart solely for protection, as I had been hurt so much that I felt I needed it to feel safe. It was far easier to watch people walk out of my life with my heart closed, compared to when it wasn’t. But, keeping that wall around my heart ultimately led to a very lonely life, which in turn led to bitterness, and finally a life of negativity and anger. But I think it’s human nature to desire companionship in some form, so from time to time, I’d drop that wall around my heart long enough to let someone in for a time. Yet inevitably, at some point, something would trigger my fear of my heart getting hurt again. Maybe it was an argument, or a fight, or my trust getting broken, it didn’t matter, because there was always something that triggered me enough to erect that wall around my heart again and push the person away as quickly as I drew them in. I could always predict the end of my relationships because I was the one always pushing the other person away by constantly raising that wall back up around my heart. It wasn’t until recently did I finally begin to see what this behavior was like when I was on the other side of it with someone doing it to me.

Two years ago, I met someone and learned their father had abandoned them at 12 years old, leaving them to figure it all out, essentially to raise themselves. I could relate given how distant my parents were through much of my own upbringing. Regardless, I could see they had a wall up around their heart from the onset, which I’m sure could be traced all the way back to their father’s abandonment of them. I showed them I cared, and in a short period of time, I felt their wall come down. It wasn’t long after that they expressed how much they truly cared about me and for a while, we were inseparable as friends, hanging out all the time, and talking daily. We never argued and any hours we spent together flew by. But, one day, after a heated discussion, I felt their wall begin to reappear. I kept trying to get it to come back down, but I think each time I did, it only seemed to raise it even more. Eventually, I stopped feeling their compassion, love, and understanding altogether, which was so contrary to how they were prior. From that point forward, the only thing I ever noticed was them being irritable and angry with any subject that I brought up, especially when my opinion on it didn’t match theirs. When that finally got directed at me one afternoon in front of two other friends, embarrassing me in the process, and upsetting them as well, I tried to explain to my friend how unsettling it was, which only led to me being hung up on over the phone. While I haven’t heard from them since, I have only love and compassion in my heart now for them because I know at the source of it all for them is a closed heart, one that I’d place money on stems all the way back to when it first began, when their father abandoned them.

The fact is, any person with a closed heart usually carries a pre-recorded tape deeply embedded within it that says, “I’m going to push you away before you push me away…” And as soon as anything threatens to even hurt their heart in the slightest, the door into it gets closed, the wall gets raised, and the person once in it, is quickly pushed out. The sad thing about living this way, is that the end of every relationship is already written before it really even gets a chance to begin. My friend used to say to me how they always could predict when all their relationships were going to end. I hope one day they’ll finally realize that’s only because they have always been the one writing it themselves by keeping their heart more closed than open.

That’s why I’d rather have my heart remain open, even if it does get hurt from time to time. Because, a closed heart means a closed life, and a closed life means never knowing the true depth of love that can come when one heart connects to another for life…something that I see so clearly now, especially with God…

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