Knowledge and Wisdom

Happy Friday, All!

You’ve got to believe … T.G.I.F.! I do, trust me!

Here’s to hoping you each had a great week and are looking forward to a finer weekend, if possible! I am always grateful for the good things that happen. I’ve even learned to appreciate the “not so good” things that happen, too! As my parents used to say, “It builds character when you go through things!” Perhaps, I have enough of that character building thing they were talking about!

Nevertheless, today, I just want to send out some warm vibrations to all of those who have helped me along my way, whether you know it or not. This journey is one of continual growth based on knowledge and wisdom, two of the finest characteristics a human being may have. Being able to reconnect with people we’ve known years ago and experiences away has a tender effect on us … at least it does on me! Through Educational Excellence, I’ve been fortunate enough to have met, worked for and served, a diversity of folks which led to a plethora of experiences for me, and hopefully for them as well. As this month comes to an end, and, Black History Month approaches, I get more excited because of an opportunity to speak at the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County’s Lauderhill Center on February 7th, 2012. I am grateful for that opportunity, too!

In addition to a few other New Year’s resolutions, I have decided to learn more ways to enhance my life, my business and am fortunate enough to have people willing to assist me in this endeavor. I am glad to have the job I have at Platinum Marketing Group, a great group of co-workers and probably the coolest boss I’ve had in a long time! Trust me, I am glad to be working, and, as I continue to write my third manuscript, which highlights some of the jobs I have HAD to do as a result of some of my not so good experiences, I eternally thank my father – Isaac H. Cook – for instilling a hard core work ethic in me. I could name a few more folks that I’ve been fortunate enough to be in contact with but I will stop here.

“Knowledge is realizing that the street is one-way, but wisdom is looking in both directions anyway.” FORTUNE COOKIE

Have a wonderful day, a great weekend and may the force and love of The Creator abound in each of you!


John I. Cook, Director

Learning to Learn

Happy hump day, all!

When I turn on the news and see that some young African American male has killed his ex-girlfriend after a history of domestic violence, and, killed a baby and another young lady who was there with her, it saddens me deeply. Then, I continue watching the news and see that Seal and Heidi’s marriage is ending, after Demi and Ashton, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony …. and the list goes on and on …. (and Aretha even changed her mind!) Peace be still.

Why do people assume they have arrived at this stage where they’ve reached the pinnacle of knowledge and know everything about everybody and every situation and still stand around complaining about someone else’s behavior. Not only is it annoying for me, but it is pure madness and nonsense! If anyone knew everything (scary, ain’t it!), then that person(s) would occupy the highest post the world has ever known and make all the sweeping changes and corrections that they espouse to know! You think ….

Of course, last night, and every day, I stand behind President Barack Obama and personally felt his State of the Union Speech was great. We have become a country divided by just about every evil there is. In his words, he attempted to address those divisions and call upon the citizenry of this great nation to come together to solve our problems.

As I grew up, and some of you may attest to this, I was not “the sharpest tool in the shed”, so to speak. But I usually tried to¬† “do right” even when I was “doing wrong”. My father taught me how to say, “I am sorry!”, in particular because he never did. But that was they way he HAD to “ride out”, so to speak. I continue to “learn to learn” as many things as my little brain can handle within reason. Now, I am not about to attempt to learn to fly a plane or go on “Dancing With The Stars” or any game shows and stuff. But in my realm of talent and skills, I continue humbly to “learn to learn”!

In Peace Always,

John I. Cook, Director


Happy Monday, All!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well. In particular, mine was very nice … and peaceful. There were moments of reflection and reaching out to friends who have been important for me, so now, my turn came! How nice it is to be able to present options for others as we, too, move along our journeys.

Of course, one thing I always like to mention in my communications with others is that part of success, at least my moments of this, come from being well organized in our approach to life. After watching “Red Tails” and handling some unexpected events lately, I had to let go of my “scheduled” more structured approach to things I face. I usually don’t go to the movies mainly because of time but also because I am a loner type and am not involved in any specific relationship … you know … no girlfriend or significant other that I might attend films with. However, the simple fact that this movie hit home on so many fronts for me, I decided to abandon what I usually do and went to the movies alone for personal enrichment. I am glad that I went. What a powerful film with so many lessons … from yesterday or World War II and those applicable for future development and goals.

“Spontaneity is the quality of being able to do something just because you feel like it at the moment, of trusting your instincts, of taking yourself by surprise and snatching from the clutches of your well-organized routine a bit of unscheduled pleasure.” – Richard Iannelli

As this adventure of life unfolds, I will not shy away from it. (TOUCHSTONES January 23rd)

Have a great week!


John I. Cook, Director
Educational Excellence
PS – Heart felt condolences going out to my good friend and “Big Bro'”, Robbie Williams, on the loss of his father this weekend. RIP, Mr. Williams.

Red Tails

Happy Friday, All!

Once again, I’ve got to give credit to My Creator, whom I choose to call God, for another fine week of life and today … so … T.G.I.F.!

So much to do, so little time to do it in, right?! Sometimes I wonder how a person could say, “I am bored!” I can’t remember the last time those words came out of my mouth! Just yesterday, I had sent a text to a friend asking how she was. Her reply was, “Busy, busy, busy!” How nice, especially since she just passed an exam earning her the Doctor of Pharmacy title and just completed training this week! Congrats, Noris!

This weekend is one of those that I hope I can get everything in. I must go see the movie “Red Tails”, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Terrence Howard, two fine African American actors and I say that in both senses of the word fine, if you will. The film’s executive director had caught a lot of flack, so to speak, for having an “all black cast” and I can’t imagine why. Just kidding, unfortunately. The story was written by John Ridley and the director is Anthony Hemingway with George Lucas serving as the executive producer and is the founder of Lucasfilm. I plan to see it between Saturday and Sunday though it comes out today and is at a theater near you. The actors themselves state that it is the best version of a story seldom told correctly.

I am proud, not only because of my relationship to history as an African American male but also because it tells the story best of the Tuskegee Airmen who were sent to North Africa during World War II as a segregated air fighter squadron. Enough said, go see it. This also comes on the tail end of a story I heard and the media did not project it so much but a youth center in Bakersfield, CA was mysteriously torched just one day after the national MLK, Jr. Celebration. It was called the Dream Youth Facility. Flammable liquids were found at the former site indicating arson as the building itself was burnt to a crisp … Peace be still!

Have a great weekend!

John I. Cook, Director

TRASH Talkin’

Happy Hump Day, World …

Some of us may not be so happy if we have family members that STILL have not been found alive off the coast of Italy! What a mega-disaster caused solely by human error! Rumor has it that the captain, who had a habit of getting as close as he could to the coast of Giglio, was trying to do so in order to allow the head server to wave to a friend or family member … Why not take a video and send it via the internet rather than jeopardize the lives of all the people on that cruise ship?! Pray for understanding, if you will …

As the Republican race for an opponent to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama continues, these adults are starting to look more and more like “street trash talkers”, especially since that is what it is …. mostly. Now I am sure Gingrich would like to “knock him out!” but his arm can’t go up that high! Considering that shots have been taken at the White House and presumably even yesterday, amongst the “Occupy Wall Streeters”, someone threw a smoke bomb over the high fence-like structure surrounding the White House, there continues to be a clear and present danger to the President and his lovely family! Do you think that some of these perpetrators may be listening to these high level thugs with suits on and a nice place to meet at the expense of the American taxpayer? Again, pray for understanding …

Now, imagine if that were me … or you … who said: “I don’t want to bloody Gingrich’s nose but I want to knock him out!” on international television! Do you think the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover would re-appear and open a case against me … or you?! You bet!

On a local scale, and I remember when, people are being killed and murdered, not to mention drive-bys and road rage incidents and gang violence, just for trash talking! I remember when … so to speak … so I am not claiming to be an angel of any sort. But, nowadays, when it happens to me, and the person is clearly harboring the intent to escalate the situation to violence, I try to “turn the other cheek” or crack a joke or just ignore the untimely trash talk. It truly is a vexation of the spirit!

Have a nice day … in peace!

John I. Cook, Director

“I Have A Dream ….”

It is Monday again, and as often as I can, I just say, “Thank You!”!

And those thanks go out into the “universe” for all spirits and souls willing to accept those humble feelings of gratitude!

Not only was yesterday the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it was also the birthday of a good friend, colleague and former college buddy, Vetalle Fusilier. We had a chance to chat on the phone a bit and he mentioned he was basking in the world-wide vibes of birthday wishes sent his way, too, yesterday!

This note today will be brief only because the life and times of Dr. King says all that anything else can say … What a man …. what a person …. and he was an African American, too! I was so happy when the “King Memorial” was completed and dedicated in Washington, DC late last year just to fortify his legacy, so to speak. One of the things that impressed me most about his work was the manner in which he built upon some of the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, the well trained East Indian who studied the British system of law and worked with humility and dedication to liberate his fellow persons in his home land.

While rumors were spread by the FBI and the continual racist attacks led by then FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, sought to destroy and discredit Dr. King and his work to eliminate the most overt racist practices mainly in the Southern states but reaching as far as Delaware and Maryland, it became clear that this man literally put his life on the line to acquire “His Dream”. I can only imagine how his life must have been as he virtually awaited the day of his assassination. His many speeches, anecdotes and photographs as well as the Memorial in DC stand as a tribute to what I would have to call ” …. more than a mere human!”

Always in love and peace!

John I. Cook, Director

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Happy Friday, All!

And if I might say so myself, T.G.I.F.!

And the journey continues …. Have you ever heard that expression before … “Home is where the heart is …”? It has become part of human folklore, if you will, meaning that no matter where we go, we like to be with that person(s) we love or that place that we love … that’s the “place” we call HOME! Well, I am feeling kind of groovy like that today and I have my reasons …. How about you?

Wasn’t it nice to see your family and friends over the recent holidays, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hanukah or Kwanzaa? It was for me because so many people reached out to me like family, kind of like you guys reading this, too! In case you haven’t noticed, many of you have been like an e-mail family for me! One particular friend I even call “Cuz” for cousin since our old friendship has been renewed! How nice it is indeed!

As we are looking forward to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and eventually Black History Month in February, it seems that feeling of “home” has come closer than ever. Now I am not checking out or anything so sit back down and keep reading!

This past week, a couple of things happened that gave me those warm fuzzies again. A while back, I had kind of lost touch with my daughter, Ayanna Lynne, and I had tried many many things to rekindle that relationship. I am sure she has her reasons for staying aloof as I have mine for wanting to be in touch with her again. My nephew’s wife who lives in the Bronx, NY knows a bit about my emotions in this area and I’ve shared it with you guys briefly as I charted part of my personal growth here through Educational Excellence. One day, Janet told me that my daughter mentioned that she would be in touch with me but didn’t say when. A couple weeks back, I posted something on Facebook and a few hours later, I noticed an entry after my comment to Janet encouraging her to be strong. It was from my daughter to her … So, I “friended” her on Facebook … and a few days later, received an acceptance of that friendship! How nice it is … and I even viewed her page yesterday and noticed she has grown into her own person. Peace be still ….

Also, recently, I received a reply e-mail from one of the family members here on EE, Mr. Eric Louis, Director of the Lauderhill, FL location for the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County. He said he wanted to chat about something, which we do from time to time since my presentation there to the kids on “Stop The Violence”. So after playing phone tag, we talked and me and Educational Excellence have been invited back there to speak for Black History Month! Utterly exciting for me … and EE!

Yes, and, today is “Friday the 13th”, too, so put away your fears of the number “13” (triskaidekaphobia) and enjoy the dawning of a new day!

“The perfection of innocence, indeed, is madness.” – Arthur Miller

May I have the grace to let go of my innocence by taking action and admitting my mistakes. (TOUCHSTONES January 13th)

In peace … and love!

John I. Cook, Director

Looking for Truth

Happy Hump Day, All!

Each day is like a tremendous human drama. So, I try to stay calm and focused on being positive since there is so much negative energy floating around. Some of it is natural while most of it is conjured up. Over the years, I have noticed that some people chose to live in peace and silence or at least in cooperation while others go around turning up rocks looking for something to complain about. While I know there are hidden dangers, so to speak, in all of our lives, I try to “keep it simple”! (One slogan from the 12 Step Program is “keep it simple stupid”!)

In essence, I have learned to seek the truth. Oh … my …. gosh! Be careful what you look for, especially TRUTH, because one just might find it … in particular about oneself! In situations where there seems to be some discontent, nowadays … and I emphasize that … I try to take a closer look at myself … unless of course, the devil personified is standing right in front of me! Then, I prepare for spiritual battle.

So much going on surrounding Tim Tebow and President Obama’s chances for re-election in the national news while continued discontent, discord and dis-ease loom world-wide! I said to a friend yesterday that I almost hope Obama loses so we can see what miracle worker will become president next! Wasn’t it Nero who fiddled (or played the lyre) while Rome burned?! There have been stories about Obama playing golf while the nation struggles economically. Have we forgotten what other presidents were doing when there were problems facing this country like “Watergate”? Some say Tebow will need another miracle this weekend while others say that God could care less who wins an NFL game. On both hands, naysayers are missing the point.

“All truth is an achievement. If you would have truth at its full value, go win it.” – Munger

Truth does make me free. The richness in my life is a generous reward for courage. (TOUCHSTONES January 11th)

Go forth in peace … and truth … if one can stand it!

Always yours,

John I. Cook, Director

Family and Friends

Happy Monday, all!

Once again, my gratitude for just waking up this morning overwhelms me! This journey we are ALL on has a magical way of having each of us arrive at a certain level of awareness that from time to time still creates an enigma for me. More than once, I have contemplated the meaning of this all, and, the more I live and the more mature I get, the less I try to worry or the more I try to stay away from worrying about those things I have no control over. Family and friends are another area that we seldom have any control over but still remain important for me today.

For example, Friday night, I met up with a good friend since I have been here in Fort Lauderdale who normally ONLY goes out with his new girlfriend lately. Now we still stayed in touch but whenever we would meet up, he was always with her. Now, don’t get me wrong because I am very happy for him because I know the joy that a good relationship can bring into ones life along this journey. Not necessarily from personal experience, but from watching my mother and father together for many many years. I have not been so fortunate … yet … to have had one of those relationships that creates the amount of joy I saw them experiencing, not to mention some of the sorrow they shared as well. Rest in peace, guys.

So, my friend’s new girlfriend has been a little under the weather lately and we got a chance to hang out and talk more on Friday night! I am glad that we are friends. My sister once said we look like brothers, but one day while at the beach at one of my favorite Sunday afternoon haunts called Margaritaville, a guy asked me if he was my son! So, go figure! Saturday morning, I had to get up as early as I could to take my motorcycle for an oil change and a replacement of front brake pads. Where I usually go is a place I used to work as the night manager, which is a Texaco service station that no longer sells gasoline but only maintains an auto mechanic shop and a surviving U-Haul business. My mechanic friends are from Uruguay and told me they met in their homeland during mechanic school! How’s that for a long friendship, and, they are still together, each with their own families and working together here in the USA … as mechanics. We used to always joke about “extra terrestres” which is Spanish for extra terrestrials, and we started up again Saturday while Fernando worked on the Night Hawk and “Don Danny”, as I like to call him, attended the customers. But Saturday, the conversation got a little more serious since it is 2012 and has a certain relevance in the Mayan Calendar. ‘nough said ….

Sunday was an interesting day not only because I slept in a bit and woke up to start washing clothes while making breakfast instead of going to service at Calvary since I had attended the Brahma Kumaris Raj Yoga Meditation at Ganga’s house Saturday evening in Pembroke Pines near where my Uruguayan friends work and I had gotten my “spiritual on”, if you will. But, also because I had strong memories and recollections of my mother this day. Now, having been a little boy, I had closer ties to my mother but I never forget the hard work that my father put in as the co-provider for our family. I enjoyed the moments of memories Sunday morning and finally finished my chores and headed out to Peter Zachary’s house, long time friend from White Plains, to watch Sunday afternoon football! A good time was had by all as we snacked, told stories and watched some teams work together in securing their places in The Playoffs!

To wrap this up, while I didn’t speak to my only surviving sister this weekend or my nephews and niece and my great nephew, I enjoyed the comradery of friends mixed with memories of my parents. Thus the title, “Family and Friends”!

Have a great week!


John I. Cook, Director


Happy Friday, All!

You can believe that I will T.G.I.F.! How about you?

This is the first full weekend of the New Year 2012. There are so many historical rumors about this year – the year of the Mayan – and what we can expect, similar to the predictions of the year 2000. Us humans have a way of fearing the worst and robbing ourselves of the joy that is available each day we live. Now, while I am a hopeless romantic myself, and, I do realize that “life is NOT a bowl of cherries or a box of chocolates” for everyone, methinks that we’ve complicated life so much that we have managed to lose the essence of it.

I have always been a fan of human history, in fact, that was my area of concentration in the field of education. In particular, Ancient History and Greek History, not to mention African History and the History of the Amerinds or Native Americans, have been amongst my favorite reading topics. One day, I found out that the ancient Incas had their own form of basketball but the hoop was smaller and there were even discoveries of ancient courts some as far north of mesoamerica as the state of Arizona!

So, in keeping it simple and short today, not only do I want each of you to let folks know what Educational Excellence’s services are, in terms of motivational talks ranging from diversity to “Driving While Black”, I will ask that we join in together to make 2012 the best year we each could ever have! Keep in mind, this world is full of things and events that we may never know about, and, while there are the Melanie Amaro types there are also youth of the same age terrorizing neighborhoods with automatic weapons amongst the realm of human behavior that we do know full well about.

“Being human is difficult. Becoming human is a lifelong process. To be truly human is a gift.” – Abraham Heschel

I am grateful I can be a part of the process. Help me give up my drive to control it.

Have a great weekend … in peace!

John I. Cook, Director

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