WELCOME TO SELF-HELP AND RECOVERY FOR BEGINNERS!

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For both men and women, knowing where to begin a better life can be overwhelming. I’m only the doorman to the gateway of infinite pathways. Start simple here.

“…it’s easier to undertake a journey when the entrance is clearly marked.”

When I first set out to seek out new avenues and new sources for self-improvement, I made a trip to my local book store expecting to find exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t. I stood there facing several hundred choices wondering where to start. Surely someone had written a beginner’s guide, a square one launching point that didn’t overwhelm me. My goal was to find something not only easy to read, but informative and entertaining. I sought plain and straight forward instruction on how to move ahead in my life. I wanted a resource that would offer the basics and inspire me to continue researching whatever subject might stimulate my interest.  After thumbing through several dozen publications, I found out rather quickly my thirst for knowledge was being offered to me through a fire hose. There was no doubt every answer conceivable lay buried in the pages of the volumes I was wavering in front of, but the process of sifting through endless manuals to look for what appealed to me was not one I was eager to attempt. For the most part, each title addressed a specific topic, and that was fine, but my tastes were much more generalized. What I longed for, even though I didn’t know it at the time, were the right questions. Eventually, through trial and error, I became interested in specific authors, various subjects, and diverse teachings. Even though the road I chose was slow and treacherous, I never stopped progressing. There is, however, little doubt in my mind, I’d be a lot further along than I am now if it had been somewhat less intimidating. It is my opinion that the absence of an easy first step keeps many a wandered traveler from finding their way home.

There was a time when I was truly certifiable. I had nothing in my world that someone would have wanted in theirs. In 1995 I was drinking two-fifths of vodka a day. Since July 28th of that same year, I have been in recovery. As the years progressed, I worked on various elements of my character that needed nurturing. My health improved as did the rest of my personal life. Abundance flowed in, while misfortune waned. In the summer of 2007, came one of my biggest wake-up calls. I had hit the high mark of my weight–347 pounds. After committing to a weight loss program early in 2009, I lost over 105 pounds in six months without loss of energy or strength. I now tip the scales at an average of 220. I’ve had heat stroke, carbon monoxide poisoning, viral pneumonia, staph infections, and car accidents. There are those who may use similar events to convince others how unlucky they are; I use them to prove how fortunate I am. I’ve survived these and other temporary setbacks with flying colors. If attitude is everything, then I’m the direct result of the resolute belief that life gets better every day.

My attempt with this blog is not to provide a goal, but rather an introduction. I’m not a scholar, nor am I a counselor. As a matter of fact, I’m a plumber–a blue-collar worker who has no problems getting his hands dirty and breaking a sweat for a living. Hopefully, my background will offer an approachable and relaxed alternative for those just starting out. I know it’s easier to undertake a journey when the entrance is clearly marked. I’ll never tell anyone where to go, but I’ll be glad to talk about where I’ve been and if you want to visit these places, I’ll simply point the way.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

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73. A LETTER TO MYSELF

message_in_a_bottle

In July of 1995 I was a desperate mess. The future offered no comfort or promise, the past supplied only pain and excuses. It had been many years since even a moment of happiness had flickered. In its absence my pursuits were narrowed to chasing pleasure, and even that road was turning into a nightmarish, twisted path where my demons urged me to continue a life of madness from the sidelines. I felt doomed to die in waves of searing agony, leaving behind a life that, once extinguished, would make the world a better place for everyone.

I was wrong.

If you could write a letter to your younger self what would you say? Would you reveal things better discovered through experience? Would you try to avoid any of the pain you have felt? Would you attempt to speed up the future so better things could be done faster? It’s what I would have wanted at the time, and if those wishes had come true I guarantee I would have pissed the gift of foresight away in a matter of days.

Here is my letter………..

July 27th, 1995

Dear Daniel,

I know you are in pain, angry and scared. I promise there are wonderful times and teachers ahead. Shut your mouth, open your ears, and don’t lie. The universe will place in your path all that you need and want. Love, purpose, and health will return. The road will be challenging but you will have guidance, motivation, and peace. I will NOT tell you anything about who, what, where, or when. Here is where faith must be employed.

There are really only a few pieces of advice I can offer. Above all remember this, if you walk through life backwards you will never see the signs leading you to a better place. Let go of your history. There is nothing that happened yesterday that can be used to justify this moment; the past does not equal the future. Stop insisting on doing things your way and give in to their way. This doesn’t mean you’ll become a slave to the will of others, it means you become willing to serve something greater than yourself. Drop the need to be right. It’s a waste of time. Eventually the right thing always happens anyway. Stop judging yourself, this is the biggest breeding ground of excuses one can tend. Focus on the moment, don’t regret the past, don’t worry about the future. And this last one will not make sense for a long time, just keep it in your head. “Never give up but ALWAYS let go.” It sounds like a dichotomy; it’s not. Remember that I love you and believe in you.

Daniel

This letter is really for anyone who was in, and is in, the same place I was.  I love and believe in you too.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

72. WHAT DO MEN WANT?

confused guy

OK ladies, let me guess what comes to mind first; beer and sex? Well, yes for the male of the human species, but not the real men. Some boys never become men just as some girls never become women, but it’s my guess the odds of transformation heavily favor females. I was in my thirties before I could look in the mirror and say out loud to my reflection that I was indeed a man. In my opinion the foundation for guys, is in a word, strength. We want to be tough and here’s the problem with this philosophy. We tend to equate toughness purely on a physical level. When this happens we cling to those times in our lives where we were were the strongest. For many it lies in our youth and we spend a great deal of energy either focused on or trying to recapture the past. For many more this remains a chase throughout our lifetimes. We become convinced that if we cannot physically prove ourselves we will lose our identity.  There’s an easy fix and the MEN know what it is. All we must do is re-define what strength really is. Real strength lies in the willingness to do those things that are hard to do. No need to go into it here, there’s an early entry on this blog that addresses this subject.

http://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/08/10/being-tough/

Feel free to share this with those guys in life that seek answers. So many are.

So, let’s get into some “secrets” about men that women don’t usually know. Think you understand what look turns a man on? I doubt it. Here is a little quiz to test your knowledge.

OBSERVATION #1 What do we find truly sexy?

Take any woman, doesn’t matter who she is as long as the man in question feels she is fairly attractive. Let’s dress her up several ways and see what look the man finds most alluring.

  • Bikini
  • Jeans and a tee-shirt
  • Lingerie
  • Sundress
  • Hooker
  • Naked
  • Business suit
  • Evening gown

So, what do you think number one is? Actually it’s a tie and I’ve never heard an answer past the third choice. In first place….sundress/business suit. Jeans and a tee-shirt is third. I prefer the sundress but the business suit is my second choice. Notice that the other choices, hooker, lingerie, bikini, naked, and even the evening gown are designed to grab our attention. Believe it or not I think we prefer femininity mixed with a hint of wonder and discovery. Show your man this article and see if I’m not right on the money. If you want to mix the sundress with the business suit think “librarian.”

OBSERVATION #2 Men LOVE to shop.

It’s true, we love to shop; we just don’t usually want to spend time or money in the same places women shop. Pawn shops, garage sales, flea markets, anyplace that has tools, and outdoor accessories/sporting goods are typical examples of what triggers our desire to spend. Want to get us to go with you? Promise that some of your stops will include places like this. Yes, we are probably going to sit on the bench in the middle of the mall while you look for makeup and shoes if that’s the only thing on the agenda. Mix it up and we will gladly share in your interests. There’s nothing like the “toy store” to get anybody excited. Girls play dress up, princesses and dolls; women love to shop for clothing and accessories. Boys love to construct, Legos, and Erector sets; men love to build and fix. The urge to connect to the creative side never goes away, it simply becomes practical. So, women, if you play your cards right and take us to the right toy stores, we may in turn produce something useful from it. I am aware these are stereotypical examples. Some guys prefer a canvas and paintbrush, and some women prefer flowers and gardening. In any event it should be easy to decipher an individual’s taste and need for expression. A richer life of creativity usually begins with where you both go when you leave the house and what you come back with. Sharing in those activities will result in a productive and fun relationship.

OBSERVATION #3 What happens to a bunch of men when an attractive female enters the room?

You know why women think men are idiots? Well, it’s because basically we are, especially when we’re young and in a group. In my youth I too was occasionally a part of the behavior that illustrates what I’m about to point out. So, what does happen to guys when a beautiful woman walks in? Do we wonder what she looks like naked? Do we fantasize about what might happen on our first encounter? Do we wonder if she might find us attractive? Hardly. What happens is we all start competing to see who’s the biggest moron. We start trying to impress each other. It’s that stupid alpha male, chest beating, peacock strutting crap; and alcohol magnifies this effect about ten fold. As a matter of fact, if you get enough men together we’ll just stop talking and start grunting and pointing. Morons. Here’s the kicker; the one guy that really does want to meet the woman will go up to her, introduce himself, then they’ll both leave and no one will notice. We really are idiots around women. The good news for women lies in knowing just who’s avoiding this urge to lower their I.Q. In doing so you will automatically weed out all the losers.

OBSERVATION #4 The way to a man’s heart is through the funny bone.

I remember somewhere around middle school the topic of maturity cropped up concerning the speed at which girls progress compared to boys. I was offended at the time but the observation was spot on. There is a way to look at this with more awareness and it has to do with semantics. Try this one out and see if you agree. Girls take life seriously faster than boys do. It’s a subtle change, almost negligible, but is does refine the definition of what both sexes instinctively understand. It’s true, we do seem to take life less seriously, but therein lies one of our greatest assets, humor. We love to laugh and to make people laugh, and I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t want a guy who’s willing to oblige. There’s no doubt we take it too far sometimes, I know I do. At the beginning of this article I said men only wanted beer and sex. I left out laughter. We crave humor, both as spectator and performer. I’m well aware that women have this same need too but I feel ours is more pronounced; and juvenile. I’m sure the ladies will agree with the juvenile part. Keep us in a humorous mood and we will follow you anywhere.

That’s all I have for the moment. Perhaps when another twenty years goes by I’ll have a little more insight. For now this will have to do.

Don’t forget to check out my last entry “What do Women Want? There’s some humor in there as well. http://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/11/25/71-what-do-women-want/

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

71. WHAT DO WOMEN WANT?

 ellie and carl

Don’t worry……..what men want will be the subject of my next entry.

I bet I know what you’re thinking; the men’s entry is going to be a LOT shorter than this one. We’ll see. In any event, what I’m going to share should be somewhat entertaining. I just turned fifty and there’s no doubt some of this knowledge would have been of use when I was much younger. I’m not trying to come off as some great guru that knows about the ultimate secrets keeping men and women from understanding each other better. Lord knows I need a lot more information before that tag could be used, but what I do know is for the most part fairly accurate and rather useful.

So, men, listen up. You think you know what a woman wants in a man; money, power, and looks, right? Wrong. Here’s where we stumble massively. We’re used to seeing “normal” looking guys with gorgeous ladies and think “What the heck? What is it that attracts these beauty queens to those whom we judge ordinary? Well, they know and practice those traits that are truly magnetic, either instinctively or consciously.  Look to all the male sex symbols of Hollywood, the stratospheric examples of today and those that live on through pop culture and legend. Look for the common behaviors and it becomes easy to see why they are the men who have never, and will never fade away. Here are the five biggest patterns.

OBSERVATION # 1.  What attracts a woman?

  1. There’s no cologne like confidence. This is the single most powerful source of attraction on the planet and I’m not just talking men and women, I mean men with everyone and women with everyone. Men, however screw it up the most and feel cockiness is a synonym for this elusive elixir. Far from it. Cockiness is the best repellent one can project. Here’s the difference in a nutshell. Confidence wants to prove itself through action, cockiness wants to convince others through dialogue. Women (and everyone else) are attracted to doers, not to those who brag.
  2. Nothing grabs attention like a powerful command of language. You think Sean Connery, Johnny Depp, Yul Brenner, Cary Grant, and George Clooney are at the top strictly because of their looks? Hardly. Yes, they’re handsome, but let’s face it, that’s what Hollywood is mostly full of anyway; beautiful people. What makes the standouts standout? Listen to them talk and you’ll hear a distinctive pattern of intelligence and ease. They do not stumble through vocal expression, they rejoice in it taking careful steps to speak with the proper speed, tonality, and emotion. Two of the best are Liam Neeson and Anthony Hopkins, perhaps not the most attractive of men, but ask any woman who has watched them and you might be surprised at what they think.
  3. Posture. I still see men my age walking like they are in middle school two years past puberty. Slouching, mouth hanging open, dragging their feet, and spitting every 18.4 feet. Yuck. Yup, these guys are not the stuff of female fantasy. Have some self-worth to how you move and people will project an image of someone who believes in himself. Walk with purpose but not with arrogance. Think “James Bond” and you’ll have it made.
  4. Kindness/Selflessness. This does not portray weakness and anyone who would argue otherwise is probably quite lonely and unhappy. Putting others first is truly rare and therefore extremely noticeable when it takes place. Those who work toward the interests of everyone else eventually command the most respect and admiration. This cannot be faked and those that try come across as shallow and dishonest. How can a woman not be attracted to a man who has her best interests at heart?
  5. Hygiene. It’s been said one cannot judge a book by its cover; I disagree with this. How we treat ourselves sends a powerful message to those we come in contact with; and cleanliness is the best first message we can offer to those we wish to attract. Whether you like it or not it’s difficult to sell to self-respect and reliability when it’s wrapped in neglect. Nothing fancy needed here.  Clean fingernails, combed hair, brushed teeth, fresh clothing, etc. Keep in mind that hygiene extends to our environment as well. Being clean and somewhat organized can be quite seductive.

So, nothing above has to do with looks, money, or power. Looks, money, and power only become desirable when they are preceded by the proper attitudes and habits. They are the enhancements of structure; and those structures built with the greatest of care automatically attract quality upgrades.

OBSERVATION #2. The power of surprise.

For the men that don’t get this one, here is where the seed of anything romantic lies. All women love surprises, but not all surprises are appropriate. No unannounced parties where she hasn’t gotten ready to look her best are allowed. Driving to the jewelry store to pick up something already purchased when she thinks you are going to lunch is allowed. Surprises must be kind, soft, helpful, and loving in nature. Packages in the mail with her name on them, cleaning the house when she is away, a handwritten letter, flowers delivered to her work; these are the gestures that prove to the one you love that she is on your mind.  Even when she might suspect the event, she still wants the surprise, and here’s why. When she says “You don’t need to get anything for my birthday” she is placing more value on your ability to understand and anticipate what she desires over her urge to simply request it. Here’s the kicker. When a man says “I don’t want to do anything for my birthday” the woman interprets is as “Ah! I must surprise him!” This is why we seem to have so many truly unwanted events, actions, and gifts. Don’t feel bad guys, they come from the heart.

OBSERVATION #3. The number one thing women want us to give them.

Ah, the age old question, what do women want from men? (This is different from the first observation; what do women want in a man, what do women want from a man?) It is jewelry, security, or sex? Perhaps it’s the ability to open jars, fix the car, or reach something on the top shelf? How superficial can you get? They want the same thing we want from someone we are going to spend the majority of our time with.  Number one, at the top of the list in bold easy to read letters – they want us to be their best friend. And they should be. Anything less is undesirable for both sides. Think about this for a minute. Our best friends we grew up with (I’m most likely talking other guys here) we are probably still friends with, right? Yet did we not have disagreements and sometimes even knockdown drag-out fights with these same people? Of course, but in the end we remained friends. It’s a powerful force, one difficult to break or walk away from. Friendship, real friendship, is the purest form of love because in the end it’s unconditional. Bumps in the road do not keep us from moving forward. Casual acquaintances move on after a time, and that’s fine, but best friends see beyond hardship and disagreements. When we see elderly couples walking in the park, holding hands and smiling, isn’t there a sense that there’s something more than love between them? To me they almost seem like  the same person. This is what women want.

There it is, I wish I knew more but for the moment it will do. Don’t worry, the men’s section is next. It promises to be a lot funnier and I’m sure it will surprise a lot of you.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

70. LEADERSHIP

Sexton and Compass Wallp TLG

The amount of success in life depends on how much those around you (including yourself) are willing to take responsibility minus those around you (including yourself) who would rather blame.

Leaders take charge while the rest sit around and point fingers. I’m here to tell you there is nothing wrong with the world “out there;” at least in the United States. Proof of this lies in the rock solid fact that there are still thousands of success stories being born daily. They are the ones who ignore the critics, they are the ones whom everyone wants to be like, and they are the ones that seem to be blessed. All anyone needs to fulfill their dreams is willingness, determination, and humility. Willingness means giving up some things so that others may find room; no more chocolate anyone? Determination means idleness must be transformed into action; off goes the TV, on goes the lawnmower. Humility means asking others for help; off goes your way, on goes their way.

The first time I moved into a role of authority where my job was concerned, I was both excited and scared. I was excited to see if my ideas would work, scared to be the source of failure if they didn’t. My initial duties included scheduling, ordering supplies, organizing priorities, physical labor, and interviewing and hiring people as well as firing them. All went fairly well until I had to fire someone.  I did so with as much dignity and honesty as I could. When they left, angry and rejected, I went into the bathroom and puked my guts out. Freedom [to be a leader] does not guarantee the future holds joyous feelings or endless abundance, but it does guarantee the chance to become less of a slave to the ideas and influence of others; all one has to do is keep a moral focus on the goal while moving into a position of further reliability.

Some think the power to take control of our lives is being influenced by outsiders bent on destroying our ability to express and shape our dreams. Our freedoms are NOT being taken away. Freedom to do what we want is being eroded by those who want things done for them. Don’t believe me? Just listen in on almost any conversation and you’ll hear nothing but complaining about how someone else should be making our lives safer, better, and more comfortable. Most conversations are about what someone else can or should do for us. Personally I am just happy and fine with making mistakes on my own, taking action on my own, taking credit on my own, accepting punishment on my own, and receiving reward on my own. The less people are willing to take charge of their own lives, the more others will.

Now………complaining, for what it’s worth, has a very important place. Without it, nothing would get better. Leaders (those who take action) will complain, listen to complaints, and then generate solutions. Followers (those who are in reaction mode) will complain, listen to complaints, and then make excuses. Any of this sounding familiar? Here’s a prime example of a nationwide “complaint” that gets tossed around without solution. “Religion needs to stay out of government affairs. Any form of worship or reference to God must be absent from all public places that might offend others. Separation of church and state is in the constitution!”

Really?…..I don’t think so.

Here is the first amendment to the constitution. I dare you to read it……in fact I dare you to read all of them. The wording is clear and simple. No “lawyer” talk at all. Wherefore’s and hereto’s are thankfully absent in the interest of a clearer understanding of our basic rights.

Article [I] (Amendment 1 – Freedom of expression and religion)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Real short, real simple. Here is the solution to the problem. As far as religion goes this is what it means; government shall not interfere with religion. That’s it. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT RELIGION MAY NOT INFLUENCE GOVERNMENT, OR BE PART OF IT, OR BE EXPRESSED BY IT! The so-called “other way around” is perfectly allowed. Wow! Do people not even know their rights? Now to be honest, I don’t want religion influencing my government too much, I think that’s a bad idea……but that’s my opinion, and my opinion is not part of the constitution, so I’m out of luck in that department.

See? Quick solution to an ongoing complaint, and if you want to share being a leader instead of a follower then express this observation with others so they may take action. I’ve said this before and I mean it more than ever now. It’s like we are living inside a giant Jerry Springer show. Let’s put down, humiliate, belittle, degrade, and judge as many people as possible so WE don’t have to do anything to look good. It’s like standing on a pile of crap and proclaiming we’re king of the turds. Forget what others are doing, it doesn’t matter in the long run anyway. When we are a willing audience to unacceptable behavior, we give it reason to expand. Do something, anything to make the world a better place, even if it’s just for yourself. Be a leader, be a prime example of what can happen. I do, and that’s not a self-centered statement. It’s an expression of how much I love myself, and like I’ve said before, I can’t give away what I don’t own. I LOVE you. Paying forward this gift increases the value of what you keep. And THAT really is true leadership.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

69. SPIRITUAL OR RELIGIOUS?

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Years ago I was sitting in the basement of a large unfinished home taking lunch with my then supervisor, Ken. I enjoyed working with him and I admired his approach to life. In a world of false pretense his attitude of conviction and faith stood out; he truly seemed to stand by and practice what he believed. Often the conversation would drift towards our belief systems and it was mutually pleasant. An outsider might think we had a lot of differences, but in truth we shared a passion to learn from each other. When he talked I listened; when I talked he listened. I enjoyed his company immensely and all these years later I still think of him quite often.

This day was different from most. It was a little more peaceful, a little more relaxed. The incessant chatter of my selfish mind ceased and I tuned in.  The moment surprised me because I had no forethought to what I was about to say. There was a lull in our discussion and I was moved to pay my friend a complement.

“Ken, I think you’re a really spiritual guy.”

“I think you are too, Daniel,” he said returning the observation with a large smile between bites.

“You know what I think the difference between spiritual and religious is?”

“What’s that?” He said.

“Well, it seems that spiritual people have an intense desire to share with others what’s working it their lives, while religious people have a need to argue what isn’t working in the lives of others.”

It was as if the entire universe leaned over and whispered in my ear.

I was thunderstruck. Where did THAT come from? One other time there had been a voice from the ether, but that was before I’d gone into recovery. This was unique, it wasn’t quite a voice I heard: it was more like something flowed through me. The energy of the cosmos had aligned with me: or perhaps I with it. In any case, it changed me. For those who have experienced epiphanies, you know what I mean.

Honestly, I have nothing against religion. I feel it is a wonderful place to begin a path of spirituality and it’s probably difficult to do so without it. I doubt a spiritual leader ever lived that had little to no background in some sort of existing faith. If my observations are correct, the more religious a person is who is in tune with a connection to spirit, the more personal the relationship with God is for them. Those who inspire leadership shine by example. They enthusiastically share, (not preach) taking care to never judge others or belittle them. When the framework of religion is used as a whipping post for those who do not agree with the views of their accusers it becomes the ultimate example of arrogance, ridicule, and eventually, violence. “You are wrong, I am right. You are bad, I am good, and here are my reasons for reinforcing my convictions by pointing out what I think you need to change.” Yuck. Makes me ill just re-reading that last sentence. Here lies the seed of worldwide conflict. Here is where hate is born. Here is where fear and persecution prevails. Here is where the destruction of our world will begin; in fact, it may have already.

As a child I was taught that “leading by example” was the best way to show others a better path or system. I thought the reasoning was absurd at the time. Such is the youthful mind. I now see it’s the only way to teach. If I really want to share, then I must possess and express an abundance of what others want. Only then, when I’m approached by those who feel they lack what I have, am I free to give. I never will shove onto others what I think they need. It’s always up to them to be accepting. This is why when I attempt to “lead by example” I MUST live what I believe so that others can see cause and effect in action. When this is done well there’s no need to recruit anyone; they will approach and ask how they can reproduce the same results, they will wonder what the hell is in my gas tank.

Personally, I love those who share, even if they are facing a different direction. Magnetic personalities are wired to the qualities of love, compassion, and humility; enviable traits to be sure. It’s hard to not like these people, we want to be in their vicinity, instinctively knowing that their influence by presence alone can help us align with pure spirit. If  however, we meet those people who are in the mode of arguing (or judging) then this acts as a repellent, at least for me. They express doubt, disrespect, and conceit. I pay them as little audience as possible, polity backing away while they look around for fresh prey.

If you are having a difficult time connecting to spirit, I can help with a little experiment I heard Wayne Dyer do with an audience some time ago.

Point to your self…….aw, go on, no one is looking.

One hundred per-cent of people, every culture, every ethnicity, every age does the same thing.

They point to their heart………

No one points to their head. No one. Even though we understand every body function is regulated from this place, we have an awareness there’s something else behind who we are. Our brains are the software, and the body is the hardware, but neither one is the user. Again we come to the difference between religion and spirit. None among us have exactly the same religious beliefs. Not only do doctrines vary widely, but so do opinions within those doctrines. Spirit however, remains constant because its source is identical to everyone else’s, its “seat” shares the same space.

Our connection to the universe is constant and cannot be shut off. It can, however, be ignored, but I do not recommend this course. A lifetime of pleasing the body but not the spirit leads to indulgence and misery. Please do not deny your true self the nourishment it craves. If we feed it what it wants most, recognition, attention, and expression, our lives will embrace peace, joy, and love.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

67. AA BIRTHDAY……19 years, JULY 28TH, 1995

19 years

When I went to my first meeting I was living in Des Moines; alone with no future and a lot of past. It must have been a bad weekend or night because something prompted me to make a call to find the nearest group. Upon walking through those doors for the first time I definitely became a little weak-kneed. Even though I was uncomfortable with the environment, the urge to bolt never occurred to me. I was unwilling to put myself in the spotlight, so I sat tight-lipped and did my best to listen while I silently judged those surrounding me. I came to the conclusion I was in a room full of criminals, me included. That was three and a half years before I finally stopped drinking. I’d been living a life of constant desperation, and that’s just about as close to death one can get before breathing stops. We see movies and TV shows about the living dead, zombies if you will; and I’m here to tell you, they are real. I was one of them. So are a great many more. I fed upon death and produced nothing. I didn’t care who I had hurt, I didn’t care about tomorrow, and I didn’t even care for the moment. The only thing that kept me going was fear.

Occasionally I would go to meetings when my shame weighed heavy and my life seemed lost, but I never did what was asked so simply of me until  drank my last drink; I HAD to hand my life over to a higher power. The humor of the situation (so easy to see now) was that almost everyone had a better life than I did, in other words I didn’t have to search very far for my “higher power.”

If you are looking for your “higher power” please keep in mind all this has to mean is asking for help from someone who is in a better place. In the end, this is all it should be anyway. God is omniscient to begin with, which means the presence we seek is everywhere and in everybody. I’ve said it for years, “the cosmic radio has never moved from the station, we just turned down the volume.” Turning up the volume will effectively drown out  our own misgivings and insecurities. Keeping it down will amplify our doubts and fears that in turn will be the seeds of self-destruction.

IF you are thinking about going to a meeting; if you are considering trying to change your path, here are a few pointers. These are the first flames in the darkness, may they guide you to a place of peace and prosperity.

  • Ask for help from those who have made it beyond the same place you now stand.
  • Do not question what comes next, do what you are told. For the moment whoever “they” are, they are the higher power.
  • Know that you will probably be angry about what is asked of you, this is normal and unavoidable, do it anyway.
  • You must be willing to pay any price. This is better known as a leap if faith.
  • Breath. Do not worry about the future, do not regret the past, focus on the moment. This is called “one day at a time.”
  • This is a program designed to strip the ego. Selfishness and self-centeredness must be eliminated or you will die. Period.
  • This program has never failed those who live by its words.

The BEST people I know are members of this organization. I’m totally serious. If it weren’t for them I would most surely be long dead. Those who take it to heart and practice and share the steps I would trust my life to; actually I do. Do not let your fear stop you from a future that might never happen. Know that I and many others Love YOU, really. Give us the chance to prove it.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

65. THE TOP 10 REASONS LIFE IS WORTH LIVING….OR WHY LIFE DOESN’T SUCK

you-are-here

When we go back to the 1800’s and take a snapshot of typical life, it was rather harsh, at least compared to how good we have it now. No electricity, an abundance of outhouses, no refrigeration, long hours, small wages, and no deodorant. I’m sure most were happy, but let’s face it, living was more about survival than enjoyment. I don’t know about you but I don’t think after a long day of plowing fields I would have the energy to go out and kill my dinner. Education was rare and information was limited. Sickness prevailed and medicine as we know it (if you could even find a doctor) was in its infancy. Obviously people got through their days in the most civilized and comfortable manner possible; if they hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here. One thing is for sure, I’d have a hard time regressing to a world without toilet-paper, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing. Knowing this forces me to be all the more grateful for even the smallest of conveniences. I am well aware that about half the world’s population lives on less than two dollars a day; and yes, I have researched this. I’ll wager that this same line of poverty was much more unbalanced in the past; at least I hope so, for that would be evidence of movement towards a better world for everybody. In any event, I believe we are moving in the right direction despite what the naysayers want to showcase.

Here are my top ten reasons life is worth living. They are equal in importance and the order means nothing.

  1. Never before in the history of civilization has there been a more open microphone to the world stage.  We now have the power to reach millions at the speed of light. What a wonderful, powerful tool! Victor Hugo wrote, “No one can resist an idea whose time has come.” Let expression abound, and eventually the best of the best must happen. Look at the commitment to reach the moon, or to cure polio, or to create a nation based on personal freedom, or even to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific. All of these things started with an idea expressed.
  2. Kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, and sharing are becoming the dominant shared viewpoint of the world. “How can I help?” is being heard louder and louder collectively. Don’t believe me? Read a few history books and see how prevalent the opposite used to be. As a result, the attitudes of prejudice, hate, resentment, and selfishness are on the decline.
  3. For those who suffer,there are countless others wanting to help. If you REALLY want to make a difference, If you REALLY need help, now could not be better. 12 step and other similar groups exist for every type of self-abuse and the same type exist for those who have been abused. All are volunteer and none ask for anything in return. This is a miracle of brotherhood and a gift to those who once were thought of as hopeless. I would be almost twenty years dead if not for this community.
  4. Information for almost anything is readily available to those with computer access. Granted, a LOT of what is floating in cyberspace is junk, but there is a legitimate line to most subjects we want to explore. The world’s knowledge is at the fingertips of (almost) anyone who can reach an internet connected computer. With a little application, all that is paid for through universities can be claimed for free.
  5. The universe is unfolding before our eyes. From the Large Hadron Collider to the James Webb Space Telescope, the cosmos in both its enormity and at the quantum level is being illuminated in ways that are breathtaking and unbelievable. Planets are being discovered and doorways to other dimensions are beginning to crack open. We stand upon a massive threshold that marks the end of our finite world. What once was science fiction is quickly becoming science fact.
  6. The variety of our expression as a race through the arts- music, dance, film, literature, and of course, painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture is expanding by both encouragement and availability. Again, let’s go back in time, to a place where paintings were only to be seen in museums, where the sound of master composers could only be heard in symphony halls, where the written knowledge of humanity was stored away on the shelves of scattered libraries to be enjoyed and explored by the few who could access them, where a moment of emotion, observation, and beauty was lost to time the second after it had passed.  All of these things, once rare and fleeting, are now solidified in preservation, and available (albeit two-dimensionally) to even the most remote corner of our planet.     
  7. The beauty of our home reveals itself daily. A single snowflake, The Aurora Borealis, a newborn baby, a distant thunderstorm, an elderly couple holding hands, the full moon, a glorious sunset, the sounds of crickets at night and songbirds at sunrise; these things and countless more are all we need to calm the day and bring balance to our restless spirit. It’s provided free of charge to those who stop and take the time to observe. Nature is the antidote to an overload of artificial environments; and everywhere you go, there it is.
  8. Redemption is available to EVERYONE. Thank God it is or I would be long dead. I believe no one is beyond hope. No one is doomed to live out their tomorrows based on what happened yesterday. Can a murderer become a savior? Yes. Will the universe ultimately deal to this spirit, this soul, what is just and balanced? Always. The fundamental reason I believe redemption is available to everyone is this observation; if it isn’t available to the “worst” of us, then it really isn’t available to any of us. YOU can make the world a better place just by shifting your principles and actions. I did; and I am.
  9. The world is becoming a MUCH smaller place. This will force one of two things; conflict or cooperation. I believe in the latter. Some conflict is inevitable, but coöperation on a worldwide basis must eventually take place or oblivion will be the result. The desire to live is our more powerful instinct. Knowing and spotlighting that our symbiotic relationship with the rest of humanity equals a continued existence will eventually force peace. We cannot survive without the people who grow our food, who makes our clothing, who create energy, or who transport goods. We are interconnected and dependant on the actions of millions of others. OUR current generations stand upon the edge of a cliff; we will either step up, or step off, and I for one cannot believe that those who will demand peace will remain silent. Within the next twenty years technology will have created instant translation devices effectively eliminating language barriers and this alone will serve to strengthen communication, understanding, and love of our fellow-man.
  10. We live in exciting times. Nothing against the past, but we now move toward new horizons at dizzying speeds. Those who lived only a little over a hundred years ago knew nothing of an electrified world with machines carrying man through the air and devices that would allow us to explore other planets and observe the farthest reaches of space. The idea that food could be harvested and kept fresh and edible for years was unbelievable. We had no idea what lay below the oceans surface, waiting to be discovered. Scientific progress is changing our perception of what can be accomplished. Medical advancements now save millions of lives that would have been hopeless even a few decades ago. Not only is our outer world growing, but the inner one as well. The perception of who we are and what we are capable of is changing. Anyone who has watched “What the Bleep Do We Know?” (the extended, down the rabbit-hole version) will get a feel for just what might lie in wait for the human experience. What then lies ahead twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years from now? We are witness to the largest strides in the history of our race. What a privilege.

Am I aware there are flaws and kinks in society? Of course; and I feel we have a long road ahead if we are to forge complete planetary respect for our diverse cultures and societies. There are millions who still suffer and live in squalor. There are those who do not know water is supposed to be clear. There are those who think only the rich wear shoes. There are those who live only to survive, and this is not acceptable to me. I feel the attitude of wanting and recognizing the world to be a better place is a fundamental responsibility. Keep in mind we have made it this far, and wonderful things have happened. There’s no reason this growth of wonder, imagination, and dreams cannot include everyone. Critical mass does not require a majority to move the rest of humanity, it just takes enough people with enough passion to sell their vision to the rest.

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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

64. GENIE – THIRD EXAMPLE OF MY ARTWORK

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Here is a third example of the type of art I do. This is more the style of subject I lean towards when I’m not doing a piece for someone else.  This one goes back to my second year of recovery. I do paint on occasion and an example is on the cover picture of my Facebook page. If you want to see it, there is a link at the bottom of the web site.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood