Just When You Think You’ve Got It . . .‏

Happy Friday, All!

And if you know me, T.G.I.F.!

Whewww! I’ve had a lot of things going on like most of us humans do nowadays. Could it be “the last days in time”? Or is it just the end of September?! Maybe both …

In watching the news, I often find stories that I like, for example, a guy in Los Angeles at the UCLA Campus used a “flash crowd” to do a dance followed by a proposal to his girlfriend – I believe they were Vietnamese Americans – and she said, “Duh … Yes!” How romantic people can be!

Then on the home front here in Hollywood, FL, an ex-army man who had served terms in both Iraq and Afghanistan entered a courthouse with a bag filled with ammunition and an automatic pistol and over $6,000.00 to answer a parking infraction! He actually put the money and artillery-filled bag on the conveyer belt at the entrance to the courthouse that checks for metal objects. Do you think he wanted to get caught and was crying out for help?! Duh … Yes! When asked why he had the pistol, ammunition and money, he at first said he was a cop. Then, he changed his story and explained a deeper-seeded issue: “I have this clicking noise in my throat and it tells me what to do. It is like Morse Code!” He was then placed under arrest … and I hope they give him treatment … and bond was set at like $7,500.00.

Can you imagine what must have happened to this guy? At least he sort of surrendered kind of asking for help instead of going to a local supermarket and opening fire on a Congressional representative like that jerk did in Arizona! God helps even stupid people (er … uh .. people who do stupid things!)… yep, like me … and him! Peace be still . . .

“The man (person) who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.” – William Blake

God, help me be open to new opinions – to things I had never thought of on my own. (TOUCHSTONES September 30th)

May we continue to count our blessings, show love for one another and … enjoy the weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

Bright Moments

Happy Hump Day, All!

Everybody is “Dancing With the Stars”, except me of course, and that is one way that television seeks to integrate people from different walks of life … using dance! I saw a special report last night on the news of a former musician and multi-millionaire, Sylvester “Sly” Stone, who is now homeless and living in an older model van in the Crenshaw neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. He has an extension cord running from his van into the house of a sympathetic resident, and, his Studebaker remains parked in front of the van on a street in a residential neighborhood. One resident wants “Sly” to leave because he feels the property value is going down!

More locally, last weekend, an African American man shot his wife (Caucasian) who refused to give him a divorce, and then shot her mother … then himself … in front of the mother’s young daughter in Sunrise, FL. “Why would someone do that – take a child away from her mother?”, friends of the woman asked. I have challenges handling rejection but this is a way too extreme a reaction.

Another incident occurred in Coral Springs, FL not too long ago when a white police officer went to a home regarding “false call” of reported child abuse. It was at the home of an African American Muslim who practices Islam as a religion. His home had enframed Islamic writing on the walls as well as decorations and the Koran visible, and he appeared at the door dressed in traditional garb with his children at his side. Once they encountered each other face to face, the officer purportedly began a rant about Islam being a religion full of n-ggers and said his job was to protect Americans from such violent people. He continued, since the man was bearded though his head was covered with the traditional Islamic head gear, that he was a Bob Marley type n-gger Muslim! The claims are under investigation, and as usual under those circumstances, no response has been made by the Coral Springs Police Department.

In light of such atrocities, it may seem hard to find a bright moment. May we continue to look for smiles on children’s faces, love in our neighbors hearts and gratitude in our own attitudes.

“Life itself is the proper binge.” – Julia Child

I ask that my compulsions and my weaknesses be lifted from me. I ‘m not able to cure myself, but I pray for help. (TOUCHSTONES, September 28th)

Have a great day … and do pray!


John I. Cook, Director

Accepting My Angel

Happy Monday, All!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well . . . as well as can be, of course. As for me, it was rather quiet and though I went to some of my usual places on Friday and Saturday eves, they were both somewhat early nights for me.

A friend of mine came in from Philadelphia and I had received her car via trailer transport for her Thursday eve of last week and picked she and her son up from the airport Saturday evening and helped them get settled in at a girlfriend of hers place in Davie, FL. Her little son is so cute and it was my first time meeting him. Her husband remains in Philadelphia until things get settled for them here.

An interesting thing happened when I was going to pick them up from the airport. I decided to stop at the post office to pick up mail from my box. As soon as I pulled up in her car at the post office, the rain began to pour down like there was no tomorrow! So, I hung out in the car until it let up, which never really happened and I would’ve been late, so, I ran inside and got my mail out of the box. I took a quick look through my mail and went running through the rain again back to the car and headed off to the airport to meet my friend and her son. After getting them into the car with baggage and all, we headed to her girlfriend’s place where she would have a bedroom for she and her son. We then had to go back to my flat to load up the rest of the things for the baby, like high chair, play pen, bathing tub, etcetera and then take it to her girlfriend’s place again.

Once we got back to my flat, I reached into my pocket for my apartment keys, which also had my mail box key and motorcycle key on it, and I could not find them to get into the apartment!!! “Oh my gosh!”, I said as my friend was already waiting at the door of my apartment with her son. “I can’t find my keys!” We both looked in the car and I checked all my pockets again but with no success. After thinking back a moment and coming to grips with this unfortunate event, I called the complex manager and owner. It was like 8pm by now and the baby was whining and ready to have his evening milk and sleep. The manager did not answer and the owner was at a meeting and could not free himself until 10pm.

I then told my friend that I must have left the keys in the post office and that I had to wait for assistance, so she could go back to her girlfriend’s and relax. She was very kind and suggested we go back to the post office to look for the keys, even though her son of 15 months was not so comfortable after a flight from Philadelphia and now all this! So, we hurried to the post office, I looked along the ground where I had parked her car like four hours earlier and did not see any keys. I went inside to the table where I had opened some of my mail and did not see any keys. Then, I looked at my mailbox, which was slightly ajar …. I approached the opened box and inside, someone had placed my keys! Thanking that power greater than myself and the angel of a person who probably saw my keys dangling from the box and put them inside, I ran outside to let my friend know the great results! So, we continued on our journey back to my flat, caring for her son and finally getting the car loaded so they could return to her girlfriend’s place to relax for the night!

May the love of your creator stay with you, and may you each acknowledge this love so the angels may meet a grateful heart in assisting each of you!


John I. Cook, Director

Goin’ Thru Them Changes!

Happy Friday, All!

Take just a moment, if you will, to T.G.I.F.!

Many things happen in Autumn, not only the changing colors of the leaves on trees in New England and the added crispness of the air as the temperatures begin to drop and night seems to come earlier. Activities like football games take precedent as the baseball season comes to a close! Preparations for winter begin where people start to store up firewood for their fireplaces, and, in many places heavier clothing including sweaters and jackets, even boots and warmer longer socks are being taken out as summer comes to an official close.

So much “adieu”, so to speak, in politics as candidates prepare to run for the highest office in the nation and talk about “class warfare” as if it is a new phenomena in a very capitalistic America. The homeless start to look for better shelter as the weather threatens to change their lifestyles. Even in places like The Tropics humankind anticipates temperature changes that will influence their lifestyles as well. The Native Americans or “the Amerinds”, as anthropologists have often referred to them, found the changing season as a time to be appreciated! Won’t you?!

“Time never challenged the Indian (Native American) or worked against him. Time was for silently marking the passing of the seasons. It was a thing to be enjoyed.” – Tim Giago.

Today, rather than wrestling with time, I will be aware of my experiences and let time flow. (TOUCHSTONES September 22nd)

Have a fine Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Peace always,

John I. Cook, Director

Where’s the “app”?

Happy Hump Day, All!

The wonders of modern technology never cease to amaze me! How about you? Now, I am not one of those iPhone users and don’t know how to do all the “apps” and stuff even on the phone I have, which is Metro PCS. I don’t upload new ringtones for each person and rarely send pictures although I enjoy receiving them from friends when they send me stuff. Yet, I do marvel at the incredibly sophisticated developments that technological minds bring to the world’s “table”, so to speak. Even at work, as I undertake learning a new system to become proficient, I am learning to handle more, though somewhat simple technology …. with a little help from my co-workers. Thanks, folks!

Still, it intrigues me how like a few days ago in Miami in one of those areas where a traffic light was not working, an elderly man of about 70 was hit by a driver who got out afterwards while the man was still alive to assist him and call “911”. But when he went on the side of the road, since the man was in the middle of the street, like four or five more cars came by … and RAN THE MAN OVER again and again and again … and NEVER stopped! After multiple vehicles had run him over, he was surely dead, as the man who first hit him tried frantically to tell the “911” operator who insisted on asking questions like, “Is he breathing?” or, “Is he moving?”, while the man on the other end of the line yelled frantically, “Jesus Christ! @#!* They keep running him over!” Are we so dehumanized here in “the land of the free and home of the brave” that we do such things?

This is an example of why I do what I do … talkin’ ’bout “Love, Peace, Hope and stuff” … woe is US! So take that extra moment, if you will, today to do something nice for someone who is in need . . . Maybe sell or GIVE them a Subway sandwich for $2.00 even though it is not on the menu to avoid them pulling out a gun shooting and injuring two workers, as was done in a Subway near Ft. Lauderdale last week! Peace be still …. Spend some extra time with our children or our spouses, neighbors or friends … and associates … even co-workers and bosses, to show them that you have some humanity in regards to human life even though there isn’t an “app” for it on our phones.

“Today, help me remember that being good at my work is only one of my qualities.” (TOUCHSTONES, September 21st)

Have a great Hump Day, friends and fellow humans!


John I. Cook, Director

The Fruits of The Spirit . . .

Happy Monday, All!

I hope your weekends went well! While I got a lot done, including house chores and cooking and food shopping, I have two more important items that I MUST get done asap. I didn’t tackle them yesterday as I was in a peaceful “state of mind” for most of the weekend and needed to refuel my spirit to be prepared for things on my new assignment, which begins today.

Now, I am not a person who knows where to find what in the Bible but I can usually find things in my own heart …. and relate it to something I’ve read there or that one of my two dear parents had literally drilled into my head and heart … each in their own style! Peace be with them … Yet, two personal issues with what is left of my family have been troubling me for a while and I would pick and choose who I talked to about these issues because they are both very delicate. So, getting through the weekend was fairly doable but when Sunday came and I sat in church “before my own heart’s curtain”, so to speak, Pastor Bob delivered the nourishment I had been looking for. He talked about God’s grace and revisited the timeless story of the crucifixion of Jesus to save us from our sins. There are many interpretations of this story and some seek to discredit God and Jesus … and ultimately give themselves the credit for everything that they are successful about in their lives. Once we mature a bit, that notion may seem less palatable as we encounter more and more difficulties that we can’t seem to control including sickness and death.

Forgiveness was the thing that I needed to hear about although I have heard it oh so many times, as well as grace! There are two things that have been wound up inside of me now for years, and there is little or nothing I am able to do, especially resolve these issues on my own …. woe is me! Yet, with those words of encouragement and an additional contemplation of the “fruits of the spirit” including wisdom and gratitude, humility and forgiveness … and peace and love … Pastor Bob pierced that outer layer of defensiveness I possess! Every song we sang yesterday had something to do with “love” … and I needed to hear that over and over to help wash away my worries.

“Who’s not sat tense before his own heart’s curtain?” – Rainer Maria Rilke (I return to this one as it is oh so relevant … for me! How about for you?)

Today, I will live through the tension and fear of my honesty to reach the point of peace with myself. (TOUCHSTONES, September 19th)

An additional blessing to my friend in Germany who is undergoing surgery today.


John I. Cook, Director
Educational Excellence
ps – An additonal word of peace to the family of my college friend and confidante, Vetalle, who lost a young family member last week due to violence ….

From A Writer’s Heart . . .

Happy Friday, All!

And as I often say each Friday, T.G.I.F.! Several times a day, I often say, “Thank You God!” On the wall in my bedroom, I have a painting of Jesus which was given to me by one of my former students at City College, Fort Lauderdale, Anieth Daley, a Jamaican woman. Each morning and often at night, I comment, “Thank you Jesus!”

Those of you who know me well have probably seen the changes I have gone through . . . and continue to go through. So, Educational Excellence is not only a marketing vehicle for my books and motivational speaking business, which has been mostly volunteer here of late, it has taken on the character, if you will, of the director, aka John I. Cook. Now it is nothing fancy and it is a far cry from a “Dear Abbey” type format, and, I try to stay away from things that I don’t know much about like politics, economics and religion! Yet, as a writer, and I am still learning a lot, I choose to advocate certain things like “Stop the Violence” and “love, peace and hope”.

Along this journey, I have met … and still not personally yet met … many many people from different walks of life as well as different economic levels, if you will. I have had people say some of the nicest things to me, especially here of late, and I have had some people say some pretty rude things to and about me! This is life. And furthermore, I too have said some of the nicest things to people as well as some pretty rude things in the past. I was raised by a very loving mother and a strict somewhat cold father. Those who have such parents know where I am coming from. Still, I take pride in being the youngest boy of a “nuclear family” (mother, father, sisters, brother) and have seen and felt a lot along this journey.

I don’t ask everyone to agree with me I just ask that people hear me out . . . Or let me know that you don’t want to hear it and I will remove you from this e-mail family list. About a year ago, a good professional friend of mine suggested I do a blog to replace a website that an even longer time friend who was very benevolent to me during some rough times that followed my release from a short stay in the “belly of the beast” (see Three Strikes, You’rrre Out! at http://www.iUniverse.com/bookstore) had set up for me and I have never been able to repay he and his wife! Peace be still . . . And still, I have a friend of over 40 years who was comparably benevolent ( and still is to this day!) who has suffered from a life changing illness whom I love with all my heart; those who know me know him! And I thank God today for the good friends I still have today who have helped me along the way! So, I just try to give back . . . with my writing!

So as the popular expression goes, “I am just sayin’ …”, this all comes from a writer’s heart – to you, if you wish to accept it.

Last week, I got some news that I will be changing departments on my job as I approach my one year anniversary there, and I am very happy. Last night at the gym, one of the guys who works in that department came by as I worked on my calf muscles (lol!) and said, “I heard you’re gonna be comin’ to our department!” I jokingly replied, “They told you?! I was hoping to surprise you on Monday morning!” He continued that it was a cool group in quality assurance and that I would like it.

I do yoga, go to the gym, participate in Raj yoga meditation, go to Calvary Chapel ’cause Pastor Bob is always very open about his life with us and we have similar demons that we’ve battled, and I write and do motivational talks as my contribution to the human community along this journey we share. I hope you don’t mind! I may be too loving and peaceful sometimes because as my only child once told me that I once said something cold to her that alienated her from me … and I don’t want to do that anymore, but if I have offended any of you, I do humbly and sincerely apologize. I meant no harm. So, in closing this e-mail “from a writer’s heart”, I ask you to remember the following:

“Sit loosely in the saddle of life.” by Robert Louis Stevenson; and, “Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.” by William Shakespeare.

As Nikki Giovanni once said, “The only true adventure is love!”

Have a great weekend, all!

Love always,

John I. Cook, Director

Waves of Love!

Happy Hump Day, All!

It is interesting to see the “waves of love” still manifesting itself after a splendid number of “9/11” Memorials on Sunday. It is also funny because Saturday night when I was out and about, I ran into a female friend of mine who was chit chatting with her boyfriend via text messaging. After seeing something was preoccupying her, I said, “Happy 9/11!” to her to which she replied, “There’s nothing happy about it!” As I walked away, I told her, “Just trying to cheer you up and let you know that I love you in Memory of 9/11!”

Now, former Top Cop in Miami, Miguel Esposito has been ordered to step down . . . Peace be still. In the aftermath of the bumbled investigations into to the deaths of “The Miami 7” at the hands and pistols of Miami Police Officers, his not meeting the request from his superior, the City Manager of Miami – Johnny Martinez, to cut the Police Department’s budget and the demotion of an African American officer against Mr. Martinez’s order, re-instated commissioner, Michelle Spence-Jones, cast the final blow to Esposito’s termination. Esposito replied, “Now, I can spend more time with my family, which is my priority!” I am glad that he can see that, after so many African American families in Miami suffered as the police involved killings covered more than a 7-month span. No one is perfect, but we all need to improve.

A “wave of love” struck a group of people in Logan, Utah a few days ago after a motorcyclist was struck by a BMW and the cyclist was thrown under the car as his motorcycle caught fire due to the crash and gas leaking from his tank as the bike laid on its side. A few men first tried to lift the car by themselves but said it was not only heavy but hot. So, several construction workers and other spectators, including a lady in sandals and a leisurely dressed gentleman, gave it another try to no avail. Finally, on the third try, a few more people joined in and the group lifted the burning vehicle, which many thought would explode any second, and pulled the near lifeless body of a 21 year old “young man” from underneath the BMW! He suffered some broken bones and bruises but lives to thank those who rescued him from the jaws of death.

May the “waves of love” continue to spread in our hearts as we express the “ultimate human sacrifice” to each other – our own lives! Kudos to the firefighters in New York City during “9/11” for fueling this everlasting wave of love!

“When people are loving, brave, truthful, charitable, God is present.” – Harold Kushner


John I. Cook, Director

Meditation and Reflection

Happy Monday, All …

Here’s a positive thought hoping that you each made the most of the numerous Memorials to “9/11” that took place world-wide, especially here in the good ole USA! After spending Friday night with a good friend, K-Man, listening to music and hanging out at our local “Cheers” called Capone’s in FTL, I awoke to a busy Saturday morning starting off at the post office and then going to the African American Research Library and Cultural Center where I am confirming a venue for an event I will be participating in in December.

There at the AARLCC, I met a long time professional friend, Mr. Larry Holland, a staff member at the Library since its opening, which was shortly after “9/11”. As I filled out the form to request and reserve a space at the library, we started chatting. Mr. Holland is “white”, by the way, and around my age. He is a relentless worker whom I remember assisted me with one of my early book-signings there with several new authors when my mother was living. I still have photos of all of us there, especially my mother, as I gave a talk introducing my first book, From the Projects to Princeton, there in the bookstore. Mr. Holland was there, too. He was telling me how he had originally worked at another library in Coral Springs, FL and had applied to the soon to open AARLCC on Sistrunk Boulevard in FTL a few days before “9/11” and was scheduled to have his interview on September 11, 2001. It was postponed due to the attacks our nation experienced because all federal and state run operations were closed in response to the attacks.

So, Sunday, I attended Calvary Chapel in red shorts, my “9/11” commemorative t-shirt with the USA Flag on front with the Statue of Liberty super-imposed upon the flag, and the multiple symbols of the Armed Forces on the back of the shirt. Pastor Bob opened talking about Memorials and identified several in the Bible utilizing Greek and Hebrew words for “memorial” and he explained their significance biblically. Suddenly, in the background, on the big screen behind him appeared a picture of the US Flag waving in the air! He paused, and then commented, “You know, all those people who have a problem with this country and complain and talk bad about this place, they should go someplace else!” The audience applauded and Pastor Bob noted how there was to be no clergy invited to participate in the “official” Memorials for “9/11” and reminded us NOT to let God leave our lives and our hearts . . . ever!

I spent the afternoon on a slow cruise up A-1-A on the Night Hawk with a friend to a destination in Deerfield Beach. There were a few bikers out and we saluted each other and enjoyed the fresh air, foliage, sprawling houses and the ocean that intermittently appeared along the quiet road to Deerfield. On the other side of the road appeared inlets with boats and people bathing in the ocean’s water flowing into the inlets and causeways. I was glad to be an American! Arriving home early enough to watch Serena Williams and Samantha Stosur from Australia play in the Women’s US Open there in New York made me even prouder to be an American. What an event, magnificent attendance and a stellar audience as well …. Only in America … and in New York on such a commemorative day! Serena tweeted before the match that she was playing for all those affiliated in any way to the “9/11” attacks though a fit and determined Australian played well … and won!

I finished the night with a light dinner while watching “60 Minutes” and the one hour special that followed narrated by Robert DiNero which focused on original footage of the attack in New York City and the response by the New York City Fire Department . . . Tears trickled down my cheeks periodically, especially at the end when photos of lost fire-fighters were shown while the Irish classic, “Oh Danny Boy” was sung a capella style in the background . . .

Peace be with you . . . always,

John I. Cook, Director

In Remembrance of September 11, 2001

Happy Friday all ….

Grateful to be breathing again … and if it were my last breath, I would thank God … so … T.G.I.F.!

Waking up this morning and nearly every morning for the past five years, except when I didn’t have a place of my own, I walked into my bathroom and there is a framed picture of the Twin Towers on the wall taken by a photographer named Michael Joseph. The interesting thing about this photograph is that it was taken from a ground level angle whereby the photographer captured the Towers with a cross in between the two Towers which was atop a church that was in the foreground of the Towers. Michael Joseph came to Fort Lauderdale a few years after the towers were attacked and presented a collogue at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and invited everyone to come and see his work. In addition, he signed these photographs and sold them for a modest price and all proceeds went to a fund that was being raised to benefit the families of the New York City Police Department and others who had been a part of probably the nation’s biggest disaster.

Some of you may have seen a small clip on AOL by Michael Strayhan, star player for the New York Giants the year that the Towers collapsed due to the force of two planes striking each one. Not only is it amazing to me that a terrorist would believe that this type of behavior would get him into heaven, but to ignore the massive number of innocent lives that he would be taking with him as well as the incredible number of families whose lives would be altered dramatically forever with the loss of said family members is something that seems beyond barbaric. Strayhan lived in New Jersey at the time and said he could actually see the towers from his window and it seemed like a surreal picture to see them both aflame and collapsing before his eyes . . .

I know we each may have a story of where we were, who we knew or what affect it may have had on our lives. Just try to remember this precious gift we have all been granted called “LIFE” and that we did NOT create ourselves, and that our parents had help in making the whole biological thing take place … May we remember those who suffered and still suffer from the “9/11” attacks on Sunday, and everyday that we are still amongst the living.

In peace … amen!

John I. Cook, Director
Educational Excellence
ps – I love each of you who are reading this and am grateful to have you in my life today . . . and forever! Thank you!

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