Sunday, May 15, 2016

All a bonus from here ...

Whew … it’s a pretty amazing incident for me to be writing this at all. Never thought I’d get this far honestly – just in terms of being alive - but I am so grateful.

Two verses come to my mind as I write this.  The first is 1 John 4:12: “No one sees God, but IF we love each other, God lives in us, and God’s love is made complete in us.”

There are so many people in my life that I would not have made it without – at all – period. Including (but not limited to) my mom and dad, my sister, and also her husband…my aunts, uncles, cousins…my best friends, and all my friends…and anyone God blew in my path.

 I just I hope I gave to any of you, what you all have given to me in life, up to this point and beyond. Thank you.

The other verse that comes to mind is Psalm 115:1 which states: “Not unto us, not unto us O Lord, but to You be ALL the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” This has been true in my life, as well as the quote of the philosopher and theologian St. Augustine, “Work as if everything depends on you, and pray as if everything depends on God.”  Thank you.

 [A lot of hard work and prayers ... more prayers than hard work ... but a lot of both praise Jesus!!!]

Now that I have that out of the way – I have a few final comments to make.  Social Media has been around in prominence since my junior and senior year in high school [I went to high school 2003 -2007] (many a season back at this point for me … my leaves have long turned from brown to grey since then … no not that long … but I do think I saw a white whisker the other day; anyway if I didn’t get off point at some point, it wouldn’t be me writing!).

And I have had Twitter, which I just this past year [since January] started using again heavily, since 2009.  So I have been one of the many to see the evolution and the infrastructure of digital and social media go from kids making a rocket ship out of cardboard, markers, and Scotch tape to something that could actually fly into ‘space’ (from a capabilities and global connectedness standpoint).

And I’ve been through ALLLL the waves of social media with my own personal accounts – posting too much – posting too little – not knowing what to post … being very active on it … abstaining from the whole thing for long stretches of time (I think the longest I was away from social media was a year).

It is interesting to be writing this post now because I just finished a book by developmental psychologist Howard Gardner and Katie Davis called The App Generation that studies how “apps” (and social media in general) have affected this generation (and the subsequent ones) compared to generations past.

The main theme of the book [as is said in way other things, about way other technologies ]  is that: it’s not the technology that’s good or bad … it’s how it’s used that matters (Like C.S. Lewis says, “I guess we don’t need to be taught so much new things, as reminded of the old ones” … as for me, my grandpa used to say I would “forget how to breath if I had to remember how to”).

So social media and “apps” can augment and add to our creativity, social connectedness,  and intimacy … OR supplant those things we value most in our relationships, caging us behind a screen with fingertip bars … simply depending on how we use and interact with the resources and tools we have created.

SO anyway … I really didn’t know what the heck I was doing on Twitter, or the point of it … ever. 

What I have tried to do is post more of quotes and things that uplift and inspire me AND the biggest thing I’ve done this time – is try to SHARE and like and “RETWEET” other people’s stuff.

It seems so simple, but sometimes (and I am just as guilty of this) we get so enamored and feel what we post is so important, we forget that other people have good stuff out there too!

Now – don’t get me wrong, there are some GREAT re-tweeters out there for sure … but sometimes it seems that people are more concerned with being their own butterfinger (or heath … heath bar is good too) – or “thing” – then just being another topping on someone else’s ice cream.

To me – it’s most fun (and most beneficial) to be both!

Be your own topping for sure - BUT ALSO - spread the love on the cone WITH the other sweetness and toppings you find there too (sorry if I made you hungry … I always use food analogies even when I’m NOT hungry).

My re-engagement with Twitter didn’t come without some bumps and learning curves though. I am not used to garnering “followers” – but – I found the more I would share and like other people’s stuff – the more followers I would get!

But there is a danger to this I had to learn the hard way. Apparently there are a lot of “scammer” or “fake” profiles (for all sorts of things I’m sure) but specifically in my case were really pseudo-beautified porn/supermodel people.

One of these (I think her username was @pedraHINOJAS or @piedraHINJOS … the account has since been deleted I believe) almost gave me a virus!

As I was looking through my e-mail on my smart phone I saw a new follower, clicked on it with my fat finger (...matching my fat head which almost got me into this mess in the 1st place), and got a malware message!

Blessedly, I took my phone to my service provider, and they said no blood – no foul … I was virus free (…wish my doctor would say the same…just kidding…bad joke).

So moral of the story … don’t open up sketchy Twitter follows on your phone e-mail … also I guess it is true “artificial intelligence can’t make up for natural stupidity (i.e. me in this case).” And, "if it's fool proof, it just  means you haven't found a sufficiently talented fool" (i.e. me again in this case ... PS got those two zingers from this website ... very funny site: ... except for the racist and overly misogynistic jokes in the later pages of that website ... I don't like those ... digression becomes me) ] 

At this point though, and highlighting more positive aspects of my Twitter experience, I must admit, that there was a particular movement that influenced my higher degree of re-engagement and “pea-cocking” (in terms of fluffing some feathers and posting more) on Twitter since January.

 #ItAffectsMe is an AMAZING mental health campaign started by Laura Darrall (check it out by typing her name or #ItAffectsMe your Twitter search – or better yet – here is a link: ) to raise conversation and awareness of mental health specifically in the UK - but in reality - everywhere!

How I stumbled upon the #ItAffectsMe campaign was through a British actress named Antonia Thomas - who I started following on Twitter of my own volition - and who I had watched in such shows as Scrotal Recall (hilarious btw…so glad it has a 2nd season!) – and then also watched in Northern Soul, Hybrid, and Sunshine on Leith (probably my favorite so far).

I am forever grateful that Evie, Angela, Steinmann, and Yvonne introduced me to Antonia Thomas and her work J

As much as I enjoyed (and do enjoy) her and all her work though, I fell short of getting any tattoos of a film actresses’ movies on my person this time (…to get THAT reference in full … refer to THIS post from 4 years ago - and FAIR WARNING - THIS POST IS ANOTHER SITTING IN ITSELF. If you do take the time though, I am sure you will get as good a laugh out of it as my friends [good friends btw right?] … anyway here it is for any interested: )

But – more seriously – I fell in love with Antonia Thomas as an actress and her work,  and just the normal boyhood/celebrity crush storm I have well-weathered and navigated many times before (I'm a battle-hardened and much more Stoic hopeless romantic at this point). At first I just loved her for her work, but when I saw her do her own #ItAffectsMe selfie post it made me love her as a person too.  And it was the bravest, most inspiring thing I had seen on social media by any “person of status” (celebrity, politician, business person, etc.) – period – the bravest. It connected with me personally, because of my personal and family past with mental health trials and tribulations.

I am just going to close this part of my post by saying directly to her – Antonia Thomas – whether she ever reads this or not is not of concern, but it being said is.

You helped me become more outgoing in social media, and in life since that post. You are a true  “Heartist” meaning (to me anyway) - that - not only are you a stunning and dazzling and important artist in your own right – but you inspire others to do their art as well - even if it's just the art of living life itself.

So thank you for - myself and I’m sure hundreds, maybe even THOUSANDS (and one day I am sure millions) of others you don’t even realize - for being that strength and inspiration. Thank you for being my courage when I needed it.

I will always love and support your work – BUT – more importantly – I will always love and support you as a person.  And I will hold you Ms. Antonia Thomas (and Laura Darrall, and the whole #itaffectsme campaign) in my heart and prayers, as long as I have a heart and prayers to be had, hoping for God’s blessings, love, and best for you in all capacities, and through all times. That is the truth.

So what is there left to say? That’s it … that’s my heart for right now … and I don’t know what’s next for me – God and people have carried me farther than I ever thought I’d get … not for a degree but in terms of just being alive … I sometimes think about how I could and should be dead – but I guess in honesty that’s the truth for all of us. Whether you use a golden toilet or a white one, it all flushes the same (…little gross, but at least it wasn’t a food reference, bet you’re tired of those J ), any of us could go at any moment, and so we have to make the most of every breath as they're given.

One thing I am going to do – is take a Twitter hiatus.

 God be with, bless and save all of you who stay so active on Twitter. It is exhausting!

 I am inspired by all the posts and positivity – just because it is harder to find positivity on the internet and social media – doesn’t mean it isn’t out there.

Find what’s positive, uplifting , good, and most importantly loving;  Like it, retweet it, and use it in your own life.

I don’t think I would have the strength of character for celebrity - even if it was given to me - or constant active Tweeting … real life is draining and crazy and an adventure enough … but God bless you all … you are always in my prayers - one and all.

I guess the best way to end a long dissertation, speech-like, spout off, rant is to steal some goodies from another person right? [what else has college taught me besides learning how to take and cite other people’s work … that and how to develop every legal drug addictive habit just to get through the whole racket to begin with … last sidenote … for this post … promise]

So I don’t know what’s next for me – I will always read and write – it’s just what I do, and what gets me through. I hope people enjoy and read what I write, but if not, I will write anyway, “good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.”

And I hope to use my Psychology degree at some point and work with kids in some capacity – either counseling or teaching – or if not kids, grandparents, or people struggling with grief or trauma … anyone really – we’re all God’s children – and we all need each other, so as long as we are helping each other doing ANYTHING – out of love – then we are doing exactly what we are supposed to from my view.

I like the quote from the movie Keeping the Faith - with Ed Norton, Ben Stiller, and Jenna Elfman - where Edward Norton’s character says, “It is very important to understand the difference between religion and faith – faith is not about having the right answers.  Faith is a feeling … faith is a hunch really.  It’s a hunch, that there is something Bigger connecting it all, connecting us all together. And that feeling – that hunch – is God.” 

I agree with that personally.

And stealing another - albeit separate - goodie, Shakespeare says, “All of life is a stage and the world its players.” I presume that how it works is some people are Romeos and Juliets, or have talking or “bigger” parts to play … but I’m like a tree on the stage … just happy to be on the set at all (…someone has to keep the sun out of Romeo’s eyes!).

And I love and am so grateful for art…art above all things – film, paintings, music, books – and my ability and access to those things has been more than I could ever ask for, and most undeserving, and I will enjoy those to the capacity that I can; but I believe less so going forward; at least in the near future.

We – and I – are so plugged in all the time to what WE are doing, to making OURSELVES SMILE (which there is nothing wrong with, you have to know when to make yourself smile) … that we forget to help others find their smiles too.

Art, God, people, love … a good book, sunset, romance, tragedy, comedy, painting … make me smile.

But I want more people to smile with me. People who don’t smile now…people who are hurt, suffering, beaten, who would hit the “off switch” in life if we came built in with one (trust me I have been there before) … I need to take some time away from my own smiles, and things that make me smile … and make sure that I help anyone I can who is not smiling – to smile with me, to smile with us, to smile with God.

What is it to smile … if you don’t have anyone to smile with J … so let’s smile together...all of us...or at least give it our best shot.

If there is anything worth believing in life, it is, I believe that - like Christ – the pain, suffering, and torment of our crosses (individually, and collectively) in our lives….are worth the promise, hope and joy of our resurrections and restoration to come. That belief is what’s gotten me through anyway.

That – and the Viktor Frankl quote that says in effect (not verbatim per se): “Between what happens to you and how you respond is a ‘space’ [an internal space I have always taken it to mean]. In that space is a choice. In that choice is either your stagnation OR growth as a human being.”

Said another way … you can’t control the crap that happens to you in life … but you can control if you flush it/waste it, or make manure and growth out of it (…a little less poetic, but more pragmatic an illustration I believe).

If you want to know purpose to life...find out what you stand for – love, God, family, unity – find what you stand for … hold it in your heart … and be willing to die for it … and maybe even more scary … willing to live for it.

We're all going to end up in a 3 x 6 x 8 and stand before God ... so let's make the most of life - individually and collectively - in the meantime between time...

CHRIST is my pastor.

The world, and EVERYONE in it, is my church.

 And LOVE is my religion.

These are the “stars” I aim for, but I often land on the “clouds” not quite getting there and often failing … but trying at all at least gets me unstuck from the muck from not trying at all.

And I hope you will join me in the religion and the "Divine Law of Love" as Tolstoy puts it … not perfectly, but the best you can … one choice at a time – always striving to do the most loving thing towards God, towards others, and towards yourself – as often as you can.

Here’s a quote I think anyone of goodwill and love will agree to end on: “Love everybody, trust few, hurt no one.” [William Shakespeare] … He continues to be a hard one to top in terms of quotes and wisdom, and these words are as good as any to live by…and THANK YOU for reading J

Here is to aiming for the stars ... and hoping to land on some clouds.

God bless, God be with, and Godpeed, to all, always,

Friday, May 6, 2016

Electricity and Outlets...

God is like electricity ... elemental and powerful and life giving ... both, powerful, good, and sometimes dangerous. And the universe is like a house - that God (the electricity) provides light and to.

ALL of creation is either inherently "plugged" in to the outlets of the house through which the electricity can run (like nature, animals, etc ... that by which their very nature are doing what God intended them to do).

WE as humans have unique choice though ... we all come with "built in" cords and plugs to "plug in" to the house's outlets (outlets might come through people, personal revelation, music multiple things daily in our lives we either use or pass by that connect us to the transcendent and true realities of life), and be connected and have the electricity run in and through us.

By being plugged in we are connected to the "circuit" of life and the universe ... BOTH being our own individual creation and source of light with our individual cords AND being connected to the circuit and electrical trail of God/the universe by being plugged into "outlets" in the house.

BUT we have a choice to not be plugged in too ... and try to run off our own batteries if we want ... which some people like to do ... even though they have cords - WE ALL HAVE CORDS - whenever we want to use them ...

Personally, I prefer the cord method, but the other option is there too ... for me though, I find that when I am plugged in is when I have the most peace, joy, and strength to deal with life ... but plugging in is a daily choice (a moment to moment choice) and sometimes is difficult - as troublesome pests and mean people can trip up or unplug you sometimes ... and no one can be plugged in ALL the time ... you just have to try to be plugged in more of the time than you're not to have as much light and power shine through you as possible ...

The best part is though, you're not doing it alone :) ... you're plugged in to everyone, and everything else that is plugged in as well with the Electricity that runs through it, and us, all.

Anyway ... just some musings ... just watched a Ralph Waldo Emerson video on SCHOOL OF LIFE youtube series, so this exposition is most likely a result of that.

Keep "pluggin" (...get it :) ... my dad says, "just because I didn't laugh doesn't mean I don't get it" ... thanks Dad) -- Love Kozy

Thursday, May 5, 2016

"Both/And" OVER "Either/Or"

Start living your life on a "Both/And" instead of "Either/Or" principle ... and not only will you have found how the world runs on its fundamental principles ... and you will find joy as well.

BOTH love AND peace to you ... always.


Life as Pizza...

I'm not sure if this is original or not, probably not totally, like Kirby Ferguson says in his TED talk from several years back,"everything's a remix" ... but I think a lot about life ... and a lot about pizza ... so see if you like this analogy:

Life as Pizza

God is like:

(1) The Bread and Crust - the Founder of the universe, who is the foundation off which the rest of the pizza is built.

(2) The Sauce - The Spirit who runs through the whole thing unseen, but gives that flavor that only really makes a pizza a pizza.

(3) And The Cheese - i.e. Christ, who is the fullest revelation of God [the surface] who came into history so we could put a 'face' to God - and holds the rest of the parts together in a coherent form and framework ... that coherent form ... being like a cheese pizza of course!

NOW - humanity - WE - are the toppings.

Toppings in the sense that we ARE individual and unique (having our own shapes and flavors) as God adds us, and maintaining those individual properties - BUT - no less we ARE part of the PIZZA as a whole.

So we BOTH are our own individual toppings AND are a part of the pizza of life/of God as a whole.

No analogy is perfect of course ... but I like this one, and its sentiments ring with a quote from Tom Joad in Grapes of Wrath:

"A fella aint got a soul  of his own ... just a piece of a big soul ... the One Big Soul that belongs to everybody." [Tom Joad Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck ]

....Also....I just like and think about pizza a lot.

God be with and bless as always,

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dirty windows...

Now I know this is not an original idea ... I don't remember where I got it from - I'm thinking a Max Lucado devotional I had for a long time (of course I'm sure he got it from somewhere too) ... it's old time Christian imagery, but I am going to add a thought or two to it:

So the general idea is we ALL - are windows to like - a giant house or building or whatever.

And God - the Sun - shines through ALL of us.

The Sun is always shining on or through ALL of us, regardless of if we want it, or are aware of it or not.

BUT - all of our windows get dirty from time to time. SOME get REALLY dirty.  Especially if we never clean them.

 Some windows get so dirty it blocks out the Sun ... some windows are so dirty ... it doesn't seem like the Sun is shining at all ... but it is.

The Sun hasn't changed - we just dirty up our windows.

God leaves it up to us to keep our windows clean, or have Him help us clean them, but He's going to keep on shining onto and into us no matter HOW dirty our windows get.

The Light shines into and on ALL of us ... it's just a matter of how much of the Light we want to let through ... but He won't stop shining on you ... even if you want Him too ... and no matter how dirty your windows are :)

God be with and bless,

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Psalms for the depressed and despaired

As someone who has struggled with and seen much depression in my own life (and the lives of those I love) nothing quite describes the feeling of desolation and despair like Psalm 38, 39, and 40.

They start off low (Psalm 38-39) but honest - and then - there's the glimmer of hope at the end of Psalm 40.

For anyone who suffers from depression - or rather - forget that - anyone who just feels so down that it hurts to breath for WHATEVER reason ... just at the end of your rope for whatever reason ... you know how hard it can be to find the words to describe that feeling of "down and out".

 For me these 3 Psalms do it better than anything. And if you do feel like that - hang in there - even on the darkest roads, your headlights will light the way if you just stay in them, and are led by the light you do have (however little or much it feels like that may be)...hang on to the light...which is if nothing else, that you are loved because you exist at all.

You are a thought and act of God regardless of how you think or feel. And being made in His image, as we all are, makes you inherently and infinitely valuable forever. See yourself through God's eyes. The eyes of Love. The eyes of the Love of the world. The eyes of Love for you. Hang in there. With love. Kozy.

"But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me.  You are my Help and my Deliverer; you are my God, do not delay." [Psalm 40:17]

Friday, April 8, 2016

A quote for her, from REDEEMING LOVE

If she doesn't know who she is by now...maybe one day she will. And whether or not she is ever conscious of it in this life - she will know in time to come. In the meantime, my prayer for her from the novel REDEEMING LOVE, by Francine Rivers:

"Lord,  forgive me.  You said go to her, and I let my pride stand in my way.  You said she needed me, and I didn't believe.  You said love her, and I thought it would be easy.  Help me.  Open my heart and mind so that I will love her as you have loved me."