“There But For the Grace of God Go I!”

It’s another Happy Friday … for me!  Where are you today?  Is there a TGIF left in you?  Then, TGIF!  Thanks a bunch!  

We’ve all heard that expression “there but for the grace of God go I …”, right?  There are probably different interpretations just like with the word “ignorant”.  Could that be a person who displays a lack of understanding of some task or concept?  Or, is it someone who, say, knows the truth but intentionally chooses to ignore it?  Hmmm?  So, could someone who is in a position to say that be boasting?  Or, perhaps, expressing gratitude for their current situation?  While some folks call “education” something evil created by the “rulers” or government, “self-education” is YOUR responsibility … not the government or even the school!  Ask my Dad (RIP) who raised a family with NO formal education!  I’m his youngest offspring.  It’s YOUR responsibility!  That’s where the real work takes place.  This is the premise of Educational Excellence so that NO ONE can tell you who you are for THEIR personal benefit, and, YOU define yourself!  In order to do this, you MUST “know thyself”!  That takes a lot of work!  What are your skills and talents?  What hurts you?  What makes YOU happy?  These are important questions.  Of course, here, we have to be extremely honest with ourselves.  Are you capable of that?

I’ve come to the conclusion that “you can’t help some folks”, to use a back home expression!  I’m sure some folks even said that about me!! Hehehe!!  I sometimes want to mention all those folks who believed in me and offered opportunities like an academic scholarship to a boarding school and a work-study scholarship to an Ivy League University.  I made good on both.  Now, I don’t think that I am better than anyone else (unless YOU prove it through your ignorance) but I am definitely NOT LESS than anyone else, either!!    In this challenging world that we live in today with so many people ignoring the truth, I often become spiritually nauseous listening to the lies and “one-upmanship” claims hurled around like in a circus.  People sometimes spout such nonsense that you have to be able to protect yourself from “their” ignorance!  (Either definition of ignorance works well here!)

Some of you may remember a few posts back when I went on a tirade about being called “boy” at 68 years of age!  Now, I know that I am in the Caribbean and a lot of people call each other “my boy”!  After 68 years on Earth, I KNOW the significance of a kid working in Old Harbor who sees me regularly, respects me, and says to me “Hey my boy!”  I can handle that.  We do it back home among friends.  Yet, if I am having a meal in a public restaurant at a table with a Caucasian woman from say Croatia … and a US-born Caucasian male passes by the table and says, “Hey boy!” … you better believe that I know the damn difference!!  Those kinds of people are attempting to use their version of racism to control me … who I sit with … where I eat … and how I’m feeling at that moment!  I invited the moron to sit down … he passed on the invitation … and NEVER apologized!  He meant what he said … and so do I!!  Are you freaking kidding me?!?  

I know that it seems like I analyze things and perhaps complain a bit.  That’s what leaders and self-preservationists do who care about not only their own lives but the lives of others AND the Planet we live on.  And no, I wasn’t elected “by the people”.  But I do have a voice, and “good people” are listening, reading, and getting motivated to “Save the Planet”!  I know that I am not for everybody, and I know that if you’re looking for something (someone) to criticize, you may find it in my motivational dialogues.  But, don’t intentionally MISS the point by looking at the placement of a period, spelling, or capital letter.  I’m not perfect but neither are “you”!  And, you don’t have to agree with me either!  I want my voice to be heard.  So many people who look like me are NOT heard, so I represent them, too!  Color doesn’t matter, but the content of your character does, you dig?!

In closing, I am sending a “shout out” to “Johnny Ace” who was and is like a “brother from another mother”!  I’ve slept on his couch many a night instead of sleeping in my car during some tough “pre-retirement” months … maybe years.  He and his woman, “Candy”, are planning a wedding this Spring that I hope to attend in The FTL.  And yes, “Johnny Ace” is white and his Lady is mixed Asian.  They still accept me as a close friend even though I am a bit distant!  Parts of my third book, “Cookin’ With Life!: Cook Book III” by John I. Cook, are dedicated to Ace and Candy and the many many friends like Lee, Charlie, Joel, and John Henry who saw me struggling to get out of the States once “scrump” was elected.  Get a copy if you like.  And no, you don’t have to be my “friend” on Facebook or in real life!  I have enough real, good friends and I don’t want any fake friends.  Visit: “Cookin’ With Life!: Cookbook III, by John I. Cook”  on Amazon Kindle, if you’re interested in browsing the book!

Be well and try to be a part of the solution … not the problem.  It requires positive genuine “thinking” …

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading …

“Get A Hobby, Son!”

Happy Friday, Folks!

Yeah, Y’all … we made it again … be grateful!! TGIF, even!!

So many times, people mistake “kindness for weakness” and even think that if someone tries to “forgive” someone, that person is stupid!  When in fact, it is quite the contrary.  It takes courage and a willingness to be the best that one can be, to admit one was wrong, and to have the courage to CHANGE for the better!  Don’t you just love those folks who have time to talk about and even judge others?  Things must not be that interesting in their lives if they’ve got so much time to judge YOUR life!!  And I just love those complacent people who say, “Oh!  Everybody does that!”  Not me, “mofo”!

Maturity isn’t something that just enters your life.  It’s something that you first have to acknowledge “exists” like TRUTH.  Then, at least for me, when I was struggling with a regular life issue like wanting to go outside into the snow in Westchester County, New York to play … and my Dad said no, I could handle things like my emotions in my young life.  That day when Big Ike said that I couldn’t go outside since I hadn’t done my chores in the tiny 3-bedroom apartment, I began to tap on the window with one knuckle in my bedroom as I looked at the falling snow.  Suddenly, the tapping got so strong that the window broke … and I scratched my arm as it slid through the broken glass!  My father came into the bedroom, looked at me sternly, and said, “Get a hobby, Son!”  He walked away and I got busy cleaning up my arm and the broken glass.  The next day, Winbrook Apartments Maintenance came and repaired the window.  Soon after, I started scribbling words on a piece of paper until it became a crude poem!  I found one of my hobbies … writing!!

As time went on and my life became more intricate, I had to find other hobbies, depending on the situation.  Now, I have always liked sports and working out even … ever since my older brother “Hank” aka Henry Charles Cook (RIP) had shown me the fundamentals of basketball on the small court inside of Winbrook’s Big Playground.  If I told you that a man who never graduated from college or high school (I’m not sure if he ever attended any school!) had counseled me simply by saying “Get a hobby, Son!”, you might not agree.  He didn’t like to call his son “boy”.  I’m sure that he heard that crap enough himself growing up in the racist “Dirty South” as it has sometimes been called.  It was customary for hostile whites to try to keep “Black Men” in their places by calling them “boy”, no matter how old they were.  Please oh please, don’t try that sh@t with me!  I WILL speak up …

You see, I learned that stuffing feelings, especially hurtful ones, allows one’s body to keep the pain inside.  To this day, I think that the bone marrow cancer that my Dad died from was not only caused by his incessant smoking of pipes and cigars (that was his style until he was diagnosed with cancer), but it also came from “stuffing his feelings” from extremely hostile racist encounters with the whites in the “Dirty South” as well as disappointments he faced in his life and family members!  That’s the main reason that he met and married my Mom and then vacated the premises of the “Dirty South” with his brother, my Uncle David and his Bahamian wife, Aunt Corlene.  They found their way to New York City on one of the earliest Amtrak trains linking Florida to the Northeast where many African Americans fled in search of better opportunities other than farming, and, less hostile and aggressive racism as displayed by white supremacist groups like the Ku Klus Klan that spread throughout the “Dirty South” after “slaves” were freed.  Yes, and I am the youngest son of theirs who continues the heritage of excellence to this day.  And to this day, I don’t appreciate being called anybody’s “boy”!  Go call your Momma or Daddy “boy” and see how they like it!!

That “hobby” suggestion that Big Ike made as a way for me to manage my frustrations is still something I do to this day!  For example, I wanted to “cure” or heal arthritis in my hips and NOT get hip replacements.  I started to work out again, practicing yoga and swimming when I first arrived here in Puerto Viejo with my “cane from Spain” and all!!  I took some private sessions with Jackson, a personal trainer here until I met two guys (Father/Son) who practice jiu-jitsu and have set up a nice gym on their property.  They noticed my desire to improve my physical condition and gave me a key to their gym.  A year after, I no longer use my cane unless traveling by airplane, and my physical condition is holding steady after having improved tremendously over the past year!  I still make it a point to work out two or three times a week!  And y’all already know how much I fancy writing!!  SMILE, please!

So, in closing, when the walls seem to be closing in on you … and you CAN’T go outside, “get a hobby”!  Who knows where some good old hard work can take you?

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!!

Be Yourself . . . Because You are YOU!

Welp. I wouldn’t be “me” if I did throw out the “Happy Friday” greeting!!  So, here it is … TGIF, Y’all!!  Awesome!

At some point in a human’s life, one has to admit that there is “a power greater than ourselves” out here!  I know that with my social scientist lens on, I can see how the “concept of consumption” is endless … right?!?  Until … The END!  Our civilization makes things we need and then there are those “businesses” that make and thrive “big time” on luxury items like yachts and Bentleys and things humans don’t need … and the list goes on and on until …. whatever… The End!  I myself think that humans need to cut back on “luxury toys” especially those that damage our Planet.  It’s like these leaders, politicians, and hard-core capitalists don’t even consider “damage control”!

My belief is that humans are born with some talents or gifts.  If not, then one must focus on something that one likes about oneself until it becomes a “talent or gift”.  Now, some folks come up in environs that inhibit any sort of “gift development” let alone acknowledgment of one’s interests and perhaps talents.  Some of us have to “work with what we’ve got”.  Others may want to change themselves to “fit in” rather than “stand out”.  That’s okay, too, as long as one does not “deny one’s inner self” just to fit in!!  When I look at my life (like many others are doing), I can “see” things that I can’t change …  You guessed it … my skin color!  How about my “New York” accent or my interests in sports and youth and education and stuff?  I mean, that’s who I am!!  I didn’t “decide” it … I rolled with the punches and stayed with my parents’ direction and love until I was able to stand pretty much on my own and help develop my own talents and skills.  At least, I was able to figure stuff out … in my life!!  I had to avoid (and be hit by!) a lot more punches than many of my contemporaries did because of “who” I am!  Don’t start tripping now because I am not complaining about my ability to run “the gauntlet” and come out relatively sane!

When I consider my parents’ humble beginnings (and end), I have no choice except to rise to the occasion.  I want THEM to be proud of their work and not look for nor make excuses for my lack of interest and intention in my own life.  My Mom and Dad rolled with punches far greater than the ones in my gauntlet!!  This is not a time for me to make excuses and blame “others”.  This is my time to “be myself” and “be the best that I can be”!!  It sometimes saddens me to see people play games with their own lives and even attempt to play games with others’ lives.  Count me OUT of that game … I don’t want to play or gamble with this precious gift of My life!!  Don’t get me wrong, I know that we are EACH different creations with different abilities, skills, and yes … challenges.  We don’t have to make excuses for ourselves, we need to “seize the moment” and make it something good or even better than before!

These past few weeks have been full of “signs” that I am on the right track, being me and stuff!!  I will continue working with Educational Excellence as a platform to advocate anti-racism, anti-ignorance, and spirituality, with an emphasis on my social science background!  You bet, there is a science to the challenges in our human societies.  But, it seems that we don’t have the time or interest in discovering these truths!  We don’t have time to “come together” even though we live on the same Planet, in the same countries, and even in the same communities!  “Why oh why aren’t we intelligent enough to get along with a world full of excellent opportunities at living?”

Just some things to think about this new year,  Thanks for reading!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Everyday People . . .

Happy Friday, Y’all … again … from where I sit!!  Of course, I can’t think of any other place that I’d rather be … considering my retirement and my “station in life”!  So TGIF with me, please!!  “Well done!”, as some of my British English-speaking friends might say!!  “Coolness!” I might respond!  “Just let’s get it done!”

To the regular readers of the Educational Excellence blog, I thank you for another “successful” year.  WordPress provides its clients with daily, weekly, and even yearly statistics. The number of readers has gone up each year.  For me, success is when people read the post and not only “feel” something, but actually reply.  I know some of “the readers” might be waiting for some big problem to arise in my life … don’t hold your breath, okay?!!  I’m just that positive in my approach to living nowadays.  There are a lot of people and “spirits” counting on me!!  I don’t let people down if I can help it!  I was able to start the New Year off with a super positive attitude, I avoided some “drama”, and have been to the gym twice already this new year.  THIS is how I roll!

Sometimes, when I think about “small town or small city” Americans, my heart goes out … yeah … from here in Puerto Viejo.  Now, there are problems here too, just of a different human nature … less stressful and less omnipresent.  I think about most of the kind hard-working Americans in CVS Pharmacies, Walmarts, Kentucky Fried Chicken shops, shucks even Chipotle Grill.  These are the daily front liners in the banks, the supermarkets, the laundry mat or cleaners, again … shucks even department stores!!  Remember how hard the medical frontline workers toiled for US during the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic?  As time went on and humans died or some even got better, Americans turned a deaf ear to those incredibly faithful frontline workers, too.  The haughty little politicians don’t give a horse’s arse about those people who keep America running on a daily basis … hmmmpfff …

“We the people” ARE the everyday people.  Don’t let the greedy “little” leaders turn US against each other!!  We’ve got a Planet to save.  Put on your “superhero” outfits of everyday people and prepare to spread positivity and love out here!  We are the only ones who can do it.  We’ve reached a time in human history where once again, “grassroots” strength is required to turn our Earth around in a better direction.  Do you know how honest and humble the average “everyday” person is?!?  Do you even care?  Come on, y’all!  Let’s get this thing moving this new year.  Adopt more values that sustain life on Earth … like truth, love, honesty, humbleness, and straight-up boldness!  Don’t let ANYBODY push you around when you know you are right!!  We need every positive body, soul, and spirit!

In this new year, I plan to continue to deliver “the goods” here on Educational Excellence and I look forward to your continued readership and support!  Thank you …

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Thank You for reading!

A New Year’s Resolution

Well, well, well … this is the Last Friday of the year 2022!  So, tell me … can we do a uniform TGIF, today?!?  Hmmm???  Done Deal!  Coolness, even!

We all know people who make resolutions each year.  Yet, most resolutions are very difficult to achieve in the busy day-to-day lifestyle in the five-day work week with overtime!!  I recall signing up at my last job to work overtime … 3-4 hours on a Saturday morning!  While “OT” rules were often chill, we had to be “in the building”.  And that meant that you couldn’t take care of your body, your family, your emotions, and your spirit!  One HAD to focus on work.  Nowadays when I wake up, I don’t check the time on my watch or cellphone anymore!  I roll over, burp a few times, and maybe pass some gas (TMI) but I don’t care what time it is until MY body has rested and settled from a good night’s sleep!  No more staying up all night looking for or coming from “the party”!  I listen to the Tucans, the howling monkeys, the frogs … even the dogs who begin to bark like clockwork around 5 am!!

So, do you want to make a relevant New Year’s Resolution?  Not new hips, not new lips, please!  Oh no … don’t think about the “tits”!  So much ego, vanity, and overconcern with self and an appearance of happiness going around these days!  Everybody wants to be a sexy “rock star” … even if they are in the United States Senate!!  Just say anything and do anything that makes you “stand out” and look rebellious even!  So what if you talk ridiculous outer space sh*t … as long as you STAND OUT and are against the GOVERNMENT … of which one is ironically an integral part!  (Ex: Jeff Hawley, Matt Goetz, and Marjorie Taylor Greene!)  It’s like so ridiculous and childish to be a part of something while trying to have your “co-workers and their family members” assassinated!  Say it with me: “RIDICULOUS”!!

Let’s all resolve to be better people … the best that we can be!!  The Planet needs this from us right now!!  Everybody wants to be successful, even if it means striking down or simply ignoring a fellow human being because of their religion, skin color, or station in life even!  Everybody wants to be “the judge and the jury” while NEVER having walked 10 footsteps in this “other” person’s shoes!!  Apple CEO, Tim Cook, offers some reflections for the New Year.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, Mr. Cook says “Do what you love!”  Conventional (capitalist) wisdom says, “Make enough money to afford things, pay bills, put kids through college then have a comfortable retirement!!”  Way easier said than done, not to mention the harmful repercussions of our unconscious attempts to compete against each other RATHER than cooperate with each other!!  We destroy each other’s self-esteem to make more money and get more “power” in an effort to accomplish the “conventional goals”.  Many of us could care less about how much we are allowing OUR Planet to be depleted of its natural magnificence!!  “Ohhh!” one might say.  “What would we put in money’s place?”  We have to change our attitudes toward “money” and not allow those with more of it to just be nonchalant with our Planet!!  “People all over the world … join hands … get on the LOVE Train … the LOVE TRAIN!”  Maybe the humans who demonstrate love and intelligence should inherit positions of leadership in human civilizations!  Maybe the people who volunteer their free time and skills should be placed in positions of power.  Some of the ones in government now have lost touch with their job descriptions, not to mention lost touch with reality!!  They freakin’ changed the job description once they got elected into office!!  Shameless suckers to greed, corruption, and the ultimate destruction of human civilization!  In the name of manmade concepts … money, power, and wealth.  Now, don’t get it twisted … I live off of a hard-earned pension … nobody GAVE me anything … except opportunities to be the best that I can be!  Those of you who really know me are aware of how much “facilitating learning” aka teaching has meant and STILL means to me.  Ask any student that I had … like me or not … I work with a passion at my trade!

So, you still want to make a “new year’s resolution”?!?  Make it a good one!  It may be our last chance …

Happy New Year 2023!!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!

Being Mystical

Well, well, well!  It’s that time of the year again!!  Happy Holy Days!  And, thank God for EVERYTHING!  TGIF, then!!  Coolness!

Many people miss out on the power of positive thinking!  For me, it gets mystical … THAT’s what I’m talking about.  I may have a basic plan for a trip or just a local activity like going to the gym.  And right in the middle of that activity, something completely unplanned, unanticipated, unexpected even comes out of nowhere and is so powerful that I am moved … quietly so!  During this time of year for me, things take on a different dimension.  You know … I think about my immediate nuclear family and wonder how they are doing, not to mention why they left this dimension.  I can’t tell you what these other dimensions look like but I can try to describe how I feel!  It’s beautiful because the things that unfold before me require little if any effort at that moment when they present themselves to me!  I have been living with such intention that I fell into like a “groove” or a mystic state … not a trance though!  I’m usually aware of every step in this “mystical miracle” as I conjured it up in my mind.  Of course, it’s usually something that I must do but not with any haste or emergency … like moving from the bungalow at Bambutel in Cocles to this 2 bedroom completely wooden and Caribbean, fully furnished “casita” on the way from Playa Negra in Puerto Viejo to Hone Creek.  What I mean is that I had planned to move by January 2023 and I had been looking since before my grandson’s visit to me here in Costa Rica in late June 2022.  So, it didn’t happen before Caleb came and I winged it in the bungalow with him and as many restaurants and outings as I could fit into the week we were together here in Costa Rica.  But when it did appear, it was JUST what I needed … and more than I expected!  (I often recall someone’s comment by Steve Jobs (RIP) as he slipped away from this dimension:  “Oh wow!  Oh wow!!”)

Over these past few days, I was invited to a few parties by a few friends that I’ve made during my time here.  One party is actually Sunday at Nanci and Barry Steven’s home!  The big outdoor party held at Taylor and Jackson’s place Wednesday was perfectly “off the charts”!  Everyone was asked to bring a “bottle” of their favorite “spirits”!!  I bought a few cans of “Hard Kambucha” (5% alcohol) and a bottle of ginger ale and one of Brazilian Guarana!  I tried a taste of my friend Ryan’s aged cinnamon rum and that was all the alcohol I had.  Now the hostess, Taylor, had whipped up some family favorites in bread dip, and incredible cookies, not to mention the wide variety of Christmas snacks (no hard foods)!  Jackson made a fire off from the food and drink area if anyone wanted to feel its warmth as the Caribbean night got cooler!  I was one such guest!  There were more until the mosquitoes came out when the fire had died down!  A great time was had by ALL!  Thank you guys and all of the guests.

As I reflect on the origins of my life, I MUST consider the family lineage going back to my Father’s Dad, Robert Cook, and his mixed Native American partner, Mattie Yhuman.  My daughter once asked me why I talk so much about my family and personal business.  I answered her that I have NOTHING to be ashamed of and, I tell my story so that others don’t get it twisted to fit the narrative that THEY may have about who I am!!  I don’t play that and will straighten any disrespectful, jealous, hating fool out in a few New York seconds, if necessary!!  Nowadays, I attempt to live with “intention” and passion for who I am and my part in the big scheme of things.  Do you have such a “part”?  It’s not a bad idea … living with GOOD intentions!  Indeed, it can become “mystical”!

Happy Holidays … Love and Peace, Y’all!

Blessings,

John I. Cook, Director

Thank You for reading!

Civilization … On Trial!

Happy Friday, All!

Have I got a message for youse!!  But first things first … TGIF with me, please!!  Very cool!!  Thank you, even!

I remember a social studies class that I was in years ago at White Plains Public Schools.  We talked about culture:  a people’s way of life.  We talked about civilization, which is a culture that lasts over a long period of time.  Where is our “civilization” NOW?!?  I know … I know …  We’ve gotten so busy and wrapped up in ONE aspect of the cultures of Western civilizations … Money!  Ownership!  Wealth!  Are we really that lost?!?  Now, when Europeans first arrived on the North American continent, the “natives” had a problem with exchanging “The Creator’s Land” for the white man’s money.  The natives tried to explain to the newcomers that the land is NOT theirs to give or sell to ANYONE!  The land didn’t burn up and turn into ashes as the European money did, they tried to clarify.  But the “Europeans” weren’t hearing that!!  They had traveled from an already overcrowded Western Europe in search of “new” land …   Hmmmpppfff!  We know about all of the savage attacks inflicted ON the Native Americans …  by the Europeans.  Now, connect the dots … and you can see WHY!!

This has been one of my “kitchen table topics” as I attempt to navigate my way through a collapsing capitalistic world.  I often search for answers so that I can sleep better at night.  First, I want to introduce a quote from Russian historian, philosopher, scientist, activist, and revolutionary Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921).  It reads: “Competition is the law of the jungle, but cooperation is the law of civilization.”  Ponder that a bit and note how your approach to life may or may not consider Mr. Kropotkin’s observations.  Nowadays, there are so many “lost souls” who can’t compete well in a capitalist economy due to various inconsistencies and social roadblocks across the board.  If we look at the political systems around the world, people are struggling with the “greed factor”.  That is when someone or a community (tribe even) has enough goods and services but wants to gain more control over others and their goods and services using the power of money.  With the advent of “property ownership” and the concept of wealth (hoarding in disguise), human civilization is currently struggling to balance itself and avoid destruction via weapons of mass destruction, not to mention the “long guns”/AR-15 style weapons now appearing in the hands of directionless disgruntled “shooters”!  Our modern-day world is so out of balance with the emphasis placed on the aforementioned that we humans are losing our souls as we focus on material wealth and power!

Arnold Toynbee’s book “Civilization On Trial” offers an approach to this situation as one that is more spiritual or religious, so to speak, than economic as Karl Marx had suggested as his approach elucidates the clash(es) between the proletariat (workers) and the bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production).  While Kropotkin offers an anecdote for human greed in the form of human cooperation, we can see that at the core of such cooperation MUST be commonly shared values that emphasize our need to cooperate with each other’s cultures and attempts at civilization in order to save our own souls … ourselves.  In other words, world civilization must put aside these calcifying notions of eternal greed and power over people, places, and things and learn to embrace the value of human life and how we can offer equal opportunities for all human civilization(s)!

Now, that WNBA Britney Griner is “back home”, we see a lot of other professional athletes vowing to stay away from such disheartening human situations that can be found in places like Ukraine and locations in China where the Magyars are virtually enslaved as the government appears to be trying to exterminate them, too!  Now, I have been a part of various “self-help” programs that de-emphasize a focus on capitalism, power, and wealth and have more spiritual foundations to help humans get back “on track” if you will.  Now, all that the world needs is several intelligent yet humble leaders, powerful yet not greedy types!  Remember the historical axiom, “Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely!”  Our world is at a point where the leaders in many places simply want to “grandstand” rather than humbly lead their people.  They MUST lead by example and we at the grassroots must change our foci as well!  This competition thing and tribal warfare crap have gotten way out of control!!  We need to get back to the basic values of cooperation, peace, humanitarianism, love, and care for our Planet!  No “knight in shining armor” is coming to save us!!  We have to save ourselves.  Start NOW!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!! Blessings!!

From Where I Sit . . .

If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice …  T.G.I.F.!  Join me if you know what I mean!!   TGIF!  Yep!!

I’m one of those people who if I come across a GOOD secret, perhaps about myself, I share it!  The regular readers of this blog know what I often say: “I know I make it look (or sound) easy, but it’s NOT!”  Trust me on this one, too!  Yet, I must admit that  I share my “journey” with readers because miracles DO occur!  Sometimes they occur over and over!!  But, one HAS to pay attention!!  It’s been happening with me, so, TGIF to see if grace can find you, too!!  So be it!!

As things continue to happen for me, I’ve noticed a pattern.  If I keep my “head to the sky” and “practice what I preach”, great things continue to happen.  On December 25th this month, it will make 5 years that I have been living in Puerto Viejo, Talamanca, Cahuita, Limon … Costa Rica!  I’ve looked back a few times and definitely didn’t like what I saw Stateside.  So, after a few rude awakenings, I decided to focus on making a base here for now …  My Creator continues to look after me and guide me through situations so that the real me shows up!  Just Monday passed, I was on my way to facilitate a class of conversational English with a retired couple whom I had met at the gym where I work out.  I have also been working with a local restaurant owner, Ms. Lydia, who speaks English and Spanish but wants to improve her written English.  She and I are going on our second day listening to and writing lyrics for one of the songs she likes to sing at church.  So, this past Monday on my way to the class site, I came across one of my old landlords (property manager) who used to poke fun at me when I lived in a wall-less one-bedroom, which was enclosed and was well-equipped with a kitchen.  He appeared to be a homosexual and was trying to take advantage of my situation.  I was walking with a cane at that time but had begun to take classes with a guy who was helping me to regain some strength in my lower back, hips, and legs.  I recall one day as I was sanding the cane that I had bought in Valencia, Spain while I searched parts of Western Europe to retire.  I had also mentioned to him that I was getting some work done on my teeth.  As I was sandpapering the cane, he ran up to the entrance and said, “Are you brushing your teeth?!?”.  He then chuckled incessantly as he looked to see what impact the comment had on me.  I looked up for a moment as if I saw a “stupid disrespectful child” and continued my sanding.  That was just one of the many times that he clearly displayed disrespect toward me and thought at that time that he could because I couldn’t do (or say) anything to retaliate.  You see, he wanted me to follow him into his “rabbit hole” and begin to appear “hurt”.  That didn’t happen so he walked away chuckling to himself as he proudly approached a few day workers that he had hired to rake the leaves on the property.  I couldn’t figure out how or if I could retaliate …  I didn’t appreciate this “punk’s” attitude toward an “older gentleman” nor did I appreciate his constant peering over the hip-height wall that separated my living area from the walkway.  Some of you readers may remember that I left that rental on “bad terms” after he and I had argued about my security deposit since I refused to invite him to the viewing of the Super Bowl game on the tv which I purchased.   I left one month early because I didn’t want to feel like a hostage while I was paying this moron $500 a month as he took every opportunity to make me feel uncomfortable.  He refused to give me the deposit back after I had packed up and left early.  He had spent the deposit money and was looking for his next “victim” of a tenant!

So, when I saw him and his make-believe “girlfriend”/partner in crime pass by me riding bikes together on the street after 15 months had passed with this fool still owing me $500, I decided to make him feel uncomfortable.  I did a U-turn as my anger started to bubble up inside.  When they noticed me make a U-turn and begin to follow them, they tried to escape into the street and go around me.  There was a long, banged-up tractor-trailer sitting in the street where they tried to escape.  The truck stopped and I closed in saying to myself, “This is how you do it!”  I had blocked them both into a doorway of a popular local supermarket!  As I approached him, his partner in crime rolled her bicycle between him and me.  I picked up the bicycle with one hand and moved it aside as I moved closer to his face!  He was terrified as he remembered all of the times that he had been rude and disrespectful to me and brought his dogs into my tiny unit whenever I had invited him inside!  Finally, I stopped inviting him!!  What a nasty monster he had become when I rejected his advances!  I yelled even louder saying that he owed me $500!!  He said, “Ask the owner!”  He had forgotten that he had told me that his father who was supposed to be a famous singer had died and left him some fictitious amount of money so he could purchase the land in Costa Rica. Realizing that he was afraid as he told people to call the police, I smiled briefly before walking away.  My Creator looked out for me, and helped me control my temper as I wanted to show this fool that I could catch and corner him whenever I wanted!!!  There was no violence other than my intermittent yells for him to give me the $500 deposit.  I continued on to facilitate my class and was able to calm down and be a professional again!

“Life is beautiful!” is one of my mantras nowadays and also sits on a plaque on the bedroom wall right above my head in the new little house that I was able to rent, thanks to an incredible agent aka property manager.  “Mery” has been incredible from the first time we exchanged messages in a section of Facebook called “Long Term Rentals”.  I felt so comfortable with her work as she showed me a couple of places that were available to rent for the long term and provided me with availability dates.  I explained that this is what I was looking for as I complete my application for residency and wait for “Migracion’s” response.  I’m actually sitting in the cozy living room now as the rain started to fall this morning!  If I told you that THIS is what I have been looking for to live out this phase of my retirement, you might not believe me.  But trust me on this … it doesn’t get any better than this for me after spending five years and a few months on the roads in Western Europe and now in Central America!!  I think that I found my spot.  Er … uh … my Creator has guided me to a very cool and “doable” rental home!  That’s all I need for now … from where I sit!!

Follow the positive vibrations.  Pay attention to ALL positive vibrations, choose wisely and let your Creator be your guide!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover!

Happy Friday again, Y’all!  If I told you that I wasn’t grateful, something really BAD may happen to me!!  I don’t want that!  I’ve got too many simple blessings so TGIF with me … if you really feel it!!  Positive Vibration type thing!! Thanks!!!

How many times have we heard or seen this anecdote play out: “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover”?!?  Huhhh?!  Be HONEST … with yourself … if possible!!  Okay, how many times have “we” JUDGED a book by its cover … even though we’ve heard this anecdote a million times?!?  … AND how many times have we SEEN it to be proven true?!?  In other words, we incorrectly judged someone or something because we had prejudged them or it!!  I know … I know it’s hard to accept the FACT that we were wrong about someone or something.  Yet, don’t hold onto that “fake pride”!  It makes one look stupid … especially when it is clear that one was wrong!  That’s when mofos start that “alternate reality” nonsense!!  B*TCH, please!!  Remember, I say things that people are actually afraid to say … let alone SEE!  So, if you’re offended like I’ve been a million times in my life, stop reading.  If you want to open your mind … again … like the “youth” do … read on!  Right On!!

This kind of stuff has happened to me … still sometimes.  I’m usually trying to be cool and then someone comes up to me with some “alternate reality” nonsense about who THEY think I am … just by looking at me!  It’s the kind of thing that makes me go, “Hmmm …”  Then I realize that the moron(s) judged me … by my appearance!!  We ALL know what that means, right?!?  You see, I don’t NEED to make stuff up about who I am or where I am from!!  What you see … if you see clearly … is what you get.

The United States Congress finally has the “Fake Millionaire’s” tax records for several years now, thanks to the court!  What has he been hiding?!?  Hmmmm?!?  So many “Americans” thought they were supporting “the most honest man in the world” … that’s what HE said … who was fighting for the average, non-Ivy League citizens of America to make it great again …?!? Really!!? WHO believes THAT?!?  Get “help” if you do!  Now, we will ALL know what “His Fakeness” was hiding.  Then we can connect the dots, follow the money, and find out WHY he was hiding it!  Then … LOCK HIM UP!

Everyone was initially surprised that the “Royal Family’s Highest Servant” resigned over her incessant and racist questions to a guest at a “Royal Function” … She happened to be brown …  maybe of African descent even!??  The woman was an executive representative of a charitable organization that was invited to the event to share their views on violence against women in general as well as strategies for averting such violence in England.  Ngozi Fulani said that Ms. Hussey, the honorable royal family’s high servant (?) walked straight over to her who was standing with two other dark-skinned women, and moved her braided hair to one side so that she could see her nameplate!  Imagine if the tables had been turned here what would have happened?  You know … a “black/brown” servant had touched the hair of an executive white guest!  Then, according to Ms. Fulani, Ms. Hussey (royal servant) began an intense interrogation as to “where she was from”.  After Ms. Fulani delicately answered “Britain” multiple times, Ms. Hussey could not wrap her head around the idea that this darker-skinned woman was actually British and born in England.  Has that ever happened to you?  It’s a bit uncomfortable for us, too.  It calls upon your level of class (not money, status, or skin color) to deal with ignorance, not lose your cool, and answer in your authentic voice!  The Duke and Dutchess of Sussex were booed by a small contingency as they attended an NBA game (Celtics v Heat) though most people applauded as the royal couple waved.  A touch of class, too!

How about that “Crypto Kid”?!?  Can you believe his story?!?  Well, a lot of people did and now they are out of most of their money and investment in FTX’s cryptocurrency and the young entrepreneur, Sam Baker.  Even people like Steph Curry and Tom Brady supported FTX’s cryptocurrency.  The Miami Heat even changed the American Airlines Arena’s name to FTX Arena!  And now Mr. Baker said he has gone from being worth up to 25 billion dollars down to $100,000.00 … on his credit card(s)!  Can you wobble your head in wondering how and why so many people jumped on the FTX financial program?  Could it be that Mr. Baker talked and looked good?!  What made him look good, just another seemingly young, brilliant white gent?!?  He had a great-looking cover!!

Understand that if one chooses to prejudge (be prejudiced) someone because of their skin color, it may not turn out the way one might want!  In fact, one is going to look stupid and have to “resign”, perhaps, or just get “told off” and educated!  Some folks are like Ms. Hussey … they just can’t accept the TRUTH!  So, if it’s you, cut the crap and grow up.  Base your intellect on human understanding and NOT just skin color.  I’ve been in a room of “people” where the “black/brown” people thought I was a nerd since I wore a jacket and tie while the white people thought that I was a thug! Personally, I love blowing a fool out of the water just for trying me like that!!  Don’t judge a book by its cover!!  “You’ll be sorry!” in my Bugs Bunny Voice!!  

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

ps.- Thanks for reading and signing up to receive notifications.  We’re almost up to 70 readers strong!  Help me spread the peace through Educational Excellence … not ignorance.

A Note to My Mom …

Happy Friday, All!  I hope those of you who utilized Thanksgiving as a time to rekindle kind spirits, visit and be with family or friends, and enjoy the comfort of a good home with good foods and beverages enjoyed the time together.  So, I KNOW that you can politely say “Thank You!” for the many many blessings.  TGIF in a fine tone of voice.

I pretty much spend this time of year alone.  I don’t like going to “look” for people to hang out with during these spiritual holy days.  I used to go to a good childhood Friend – Peter Zachary RIP – and his Family for the “holy days” … even Hanukah.  For me, it’s better to be alone than take the chance of experiencing some unnecessary negativity … from ANYONE!  I know that it’s not easy to be “content” or “happy” when you are alone, but I can … I simply can!  I’ve HAD to do it a few times in my life.  There were a few times when I didn’t see people whom I actually knew for several months.  No … I didn’t “grin and bare it”, I went inside.  I also know that the “inside” of some people is a place that they don’t want to be.  Some don’t even know how to get there!  Many folks have been driven outside of themselves so often that they are not sure who they are anymore.  Not a journey that I’d even want to begin, let alone complete.

You know, as the youngest in my original family I got to see a lot.  And still, I had to star in my own family dramas from time to time … rebelling, testing boundaries, and just acting up.  On November 6th, 2005 at about 1 am, Marietta Dolores took her last breath.  I had just left the hospital’s hospice ward while she remained in a coma until expiring.  As soon as I had driven a half hour or so back home, my cell phone lit up in the darkness of the City due to power outages across South Florida caused by Hurricane Wilma.  I hurried back to the hospice to bid her a fond adieu and went back home before going to report to work.  I didn’t stay at work long … I couldn’t …

So this Thanksgiving note is for her.  My Dad was like the “hammer” once provoked by one of his children’s stupidity or selfishness.  My Mom did the “clean up” with lots of love in whatever condition she found us in.  I remember hiding under the bed once because I knew my Dad couldn’t fit!!  That did it!  He got a hold of one leg … and the rest was a blurry teary history.  “Big Ike” didn’t play once you had provoked him and he had gotten angry!  Discipline was of the utmost for him.  However, he was very lenient with his two daughters.  Once, my oldest sister actually cursed at him!!  I was like, she must have a death wish!  But this time he just walked away.  From what I can remember, he never spanked his girls …  My Mother loved him for that, too!

We were well-raised as a family.  We all HAD to sit down at the tiny dinner table in the kitchen of the three-bedroom apartment in the Winbrook Housing Project.  No, you could NOT eat in your room or in the living room!  We EACH had our seat at the dining table.  We said “Grace” before every meal that we ate together, Dad’s doing with Mom’s lead.  I liked it.  I felt an integral part of “The Cook Family”.  I felt the love, especially during the Holy Days which included Thanksgiving.  We had Saturday outings together as a family to places like Bear Mountain State Park in Upstate New York and often met up with other families from The Winbrook Apartment Complex with kids of similar ages as us four.  It would get so “good” sometimes, the adults would even let us go off on our own and enjoy the Park’s amenities which included boating and horseback riding!  But as we all know, some of the “kids” turn out different than what the parent(s) wanted.  It’s pretty much a crap shoot from the parent’s perspective though the responsibility for providing a safe and nurturing (free from bullying) environment for the young ones to have their best chance at life is definitely solely on the parent(s).  My parents did their best … with each of us.  It’s just that I have taken on the responsibility that they set out on … being the best that I can be.  And yeah, I had to fight back sometimes against bullies (still do from time to time!).  So, confidence and courage must be instilled in the “kids” so they learn and know how to protect themselves spiritually and emotionally. (I accompanied Mom and Dad to Bethel Baptist Church frequently!)

The Colorado Springs shooter had had his name changed due to his horrific experiences of being bullied … even online … and abandoned by his father at a tender young age … 2 or so …  His mother then put on her “convict coat” and received multiple charges including arson.  Now, these aren’t excuses but they are REASONS why parenting should be taken seriously.  A parent or parents can really mess their children up by letting them be bullied and not teaching them the proper defense mechanisms.  At some point, a victim of this pathological family behavior coupled with being bullied via an online account characterizing him as an “abused Asian transexual” or something extremely hurtful like that is going to snap.  While “Aldrich” (formerly Brink before a legal name change) says that he is “non-binary”, his father said, “…we don’t do gay!”  So, imagine where his various psychological states had been as he tried to navigate his way and “grow up”.  Still, it seems that the “red flag laws” weren’t exactly helpful after charges were dropped that had been filed by his mother after he threatened to blow up their home with a homemade bomb, perhaps dropped by his own mother.  You see, being a parent is more than saying it or taking credit for it … you actually have to BE one … responsible and accountable and all that other stuff.  Sometimes, people hold on to a child like a pawn in a chess game or a trophy of some sort without ever being a full-time parent.  This is an unfortunate quagmire of misdeeds, lies, frustration, and unaccountability.  What else could they expect from this burgeoning monster?

I’m simply trying to elucidate the importance of how good parenting can increase a child’s chances of becoming a stable citizen of the universe, perhaps worthy of procreating another decent human being.  A stable family unit is extremely important.  If you are not “ready” to become a parent, then DON’T!!  It’s all cute and fun until the “kid” acts out uncontrollably by hurting others … as “it” has been hurt, maligned even.  So, I thank my Mom for choosing my Dad, a true partner, to help me along my way!  I’m grateful for ALL they showed us … even their “mistakes” as they found and fought their way through a racist system and society so I could come out okay and thrive!  I’m grateful that I don’t need a lot to be happy now and can manage my way through my life with as little hurtful, hateful drama that often appears in families like this “kid” …

So, as we move through this “holy day season” be sure to SELF reflect that YOU are doing a good job at being the best that YOU can be!  It’s truly a blessing!!  You’ll see … trust me!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading … it means a lot to me … and hopefully, the world!

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