Taking This Year Off From Holiday Decorating…

As we enter yet another holiday season of ghosties and ghoulies, turkey feasts with all those fixings, and the birth of Jesus Christ along with Santa’s arrival as well, I made the difficult choice this year to do something I haven’t done in over eight years, and that’s to not decorate at all during any of it.

For those who know me, I tend to go all out during the holidays in the way of decorating. If you were to drive down the street I live on during the month of October in prior years for example, you’d always see my entire front yard lit up with festive Halloween decorations. The same has been true mid-November through the beginning of January with tons of brightly lit Christmas decorations. All in all, between set-up and take down and making sure things stay lit and functional, the time and energy it encompasses has always been a huge undertaking in my life.

This is precisely why I’ve decided to take a break this year. To put it simply, I’m worn out. Between my ongoing health issues, this pandemic, and struggles in my relationship, I decided it was more important to take care of myself this year and reduce my stress level by refraining from holiday decorating. The last few years especially, holiday decorating has brought me an incredible amount of stress. Decorating for Christmas alone for example takes me at least two weeks of time for set-up and an entire day for takedown. There’s also the constant monitoring of it when it’s lit since things always seem to burn out. Sometimes there’s even been vandalism I’ve had to deal with causing me even greater stress.

This isn’t any sort of “Bah Humbug” syndrome, as I do plan on still honoring the holidays in different ways this year as compared to years past. I simply feel it’s important for me to take this year off from doing a task in the hopes it will not only give me a reduction in holiday stress, but also to bring forth a motivation to do it again in the future.

For as much as I do have sadness that all my lights and figurines and cheerful holiday adornments will remain in storage and dark this year, I feel it’s something I need to do to take care of myself, as I truly am struggling in my life right now just to keep going. Holiday decorating isn’t a necessity but taking care of my health is.

While I plan on appreciating other homes this year who do decorate this holiday season, hopefully, taking this year off from doing any of my own decorating will allow for a far more stress-free holiday season than what I’ve experienced in years past and maybe even experiencing a peace I haven’t been able to achieve in holidays past.

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

Thought For The Day

Today’s quotes surround the topic of bullying, a behavior that is toxic on every level. I’ve provided more than normal because I’ve been bullied before far too many times and each of these quotes really spoke to me on the subject.

“I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who’s insecure.” (Shay Mitchell)

“Is your child being bullied? Don’t make the assumption that s/he’s done something to bring on the teasing. Teasing isn’t always logical, and for your kid it doesn’t matter why – it just matters that it’s happening.” (Peggy Moss)

“Bullying is killing our kids. Being different is killing our kids and the kids who are bullying are dying inside. We have to save our kids whether they are bullied or they are bullying. They are all in pain.” (Cat Cora)

“It’s okay to dislike someone, or even dislike someone for no reason. But it’s not okay to disrespect, degrade, and humiliate that person.” (Unknown)

“When people say bad things about you it’s only because they are insecure with themselves. So next time someone says something mean remember it has NOTHING to do with you and EVERYTHING to do with them.” (Unknown)

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” (Harvey S. Firestone)

“You are being bullied if someone constantly demeans you, makes negative remarks about you, yells at you, criticizes you, and gives suggestions to you and then gives you guilt trips if you don’t take those suggestions.” (Unknown)

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another entry in gratitude. Today’s Grateful Heart Monday is dedicated to finally standing up to a bully, something I was never able to do throughout my childhood and much of my adult life.

Getting bullied was one of the earliest PTSD-based experiences of my life. I first experienced this during my grammar school years where I got picked on regularly all the way up into my senior year. Being pushed down, getting tripped, books knocked out of my hands, ears flicked, spitballs hitting me, hearing daily taunts and the like, my childhood was a constant blur of being bullied. The only reason why it ended in my senior year was because I became a chameleon of sorts by blending in with what everyone else was wearing and doing. Unfortunately, the pattern came back in my adulthood with frequently becoming the butt of other people’s jokes and allowing friends to control me through their anger. Rarely have I stood up to a bully with any sort of force or defiance, that was until just recently when I was doing my routine yardwork outside.

There’s been a lot of yardwork this year due to all the weird weather we’ve had. Diseased leaves have been coming down in droves since late June/early July and a local nursery told me that I needed to get them picked up as soon as possible so as not to allow the transfer of the virus on the leaves to other trees. Because I had the free time, and given it’s been a positive focus to channel all my health frustrations into, I’ve spent many hours outside everyday with either a leaf vacuum, a shop vac, or a leaf blower, making my yard, the two neighbors next to mine, and the street around my home quite immaculate. While most of my neighbors have been appreciative of my OCD work effort, one neighbor hasn’t and recently began yelling at me about the noise I make. Ironically, prior to his very first outburst at me, I’d frequently hear him angrily shouting and being verbally abusive to his wife and kids. I was always grateful to not be the recipient of that. That changed one day when he came storming out and told me he couldn’t hear his tv and enjoy his marijuana. I had erroneously assumed he had been appreciative of my cleaning off his driveway and apologized, telling him I’d no longer step foot on any of his property. But that wasn’t good enough for him, as he told me I had no business cleaning up the street around him either. Why I’ve done that is because all the debris tends to come from his direction and blow into the yards I maintain given how close all the houses are to each other in my neighborhood.

The very next time I cleaned the street up again, I was just about done when I heard over the music in my noise-cancelling headphones and the noise of the equipment I was using at the time, his angry voice shouting in my direction. I did my best to ignore him because honestly, the guys scares me. He carries guns, has been in fights before, lost jobs repeatedly due to his outbursts of anger, and always seems to be yelling at something. I tend to slink away from people like him in life, but this time for whatever the reason, I finally stood my ground. As he approached me and got in my face, I said I had every right to keep the street clean because it was public access, and I wasn’t hurting anyone. I verified that with the local police who informed me I only needed to respect the 9am to 8pm noise ordinance and not step foot on his property, neither of which had happened during this incident. He told me he was going to call the police and tell them I was disturbing the peace and said he was also going to get his hose and spray me and cut my electrical cords to my equipment if I did it again. I told him to do what he had to and that I was going to keep doing what I enjoyed doing. I told him to go pray and close his windows the next time I was outside doing my work, of which he responded angrily that I was a “total piece of sh$$” and walked away.

Deep down, I know this guy’s anger and bullying tactics isn’t really about me at all. Most bullies become that way because they were bullied themselves, usually by a parent growing up. I’m done catering to bullies and living in fear over people like him. I am going to continue doing my work outside, including cleaning up the street, because it’s not harming him or anyone, it’s just making me a magnet for him to project his own misery onto. That’s what bullies do and I’m truly grateful I finally stood up to one in my life and I plan on calling the police if this ever escalates again.

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