Taking Control . . . Of Yourself!

Happy Hump Day, All!

Wednesday is one of my favorite days of the week because it signifies the half-way or “hump” mark. It is the little things that make me happy . . . like someone saying “Thank You” when you hold the door for them. Now, don’t take it wrong, that I hold the door so that someone can say “thank you” or anything else to me, but because that is what I was taught by my father, in particular, that you do when someone’s hands are full, or it is a woman or a child or a person in a wheel chair or something like that and they obviously could use your help holding the door. Other times, I just do it out of common courtesy, to make things flow easier, and, because it makes me feel good anyway.

Over these recent years, and some of you may remember, I had lost verbal contact with my daughter and only child. In fact, the last time I spoke with her face to face was at my mother’s funeral over 6 years ago now. The loss was great for me, especially spiritually, and she – Ayanna – and her mother attended the “second” funeral in White Plains, NY at Bethel Baptist Church, as the first one was held in the FTL at Mount Olive where she and my sister used to attend services. I appreciated her being there; yet, afterwards, as families “do”, we lost contact.

Well, last weekend, since we had become internet friends on Facebook now for about two months, sharing photos and niceties, she sent me a message which included her phone number suggesting we should talk. I replied and sent my number as well. So, Monday night . . . we talked! It was nice to hear her voice after so many years, and we filled in the blanks for each other and agreed to stay in touch. Peace be still . . .

There is a story you may remember about Michael Brewer who was set on fire by three teens last year over a bike or a bet or something worth around $40-50.00. He would have lost his life if he hadn’t jumped in a nearby pool to extinguish the flames from rubbing alcohol and a spark from a cigarette lighter. What shocked me was when they showed the youngster’s confession who had the lighter. He said, “I was standing there with the lighter in my hand close to him but not touching him. Then, it lit and he caught on fire! I was the last one there because the others started running and I didn’t know whether to run or not and to stay and help him.” It is as if he doesn’t remember flicking the lighter and had an even harder time determining if he should run or not …. and he decided to run anyway. Kids, teens in particular, need some help in determining what is right and wrong and HOW to do the right thing in that instant. Similarly, the kid who opened fire two weeks ago on innocent students at the Ohio high school has a lawyer who says that the kid can’t imagine himself NOW in the middle of something like that.

Now, just yesterday, there was a sad story of “road rage” gone wild in Coral Springs, FL. An ex-marine who is a co-owner of a mixed martial arts school lost his mind at a traffic light. Yes, this soldier had served two terms in Iraq, came home and successfully started a business teaching mixed fighting arts. He was behind a car at a traffic light in Coral Springs when the car in front of him did not see the light change. So, he got out of his car . . . with his pistol in hand . . . whipped the driver in the face.   The passenger got out to ask him to stop but the ex-Marine  pistol whipped the passenger in the face  and began to thrust his knee and feet into the face of the defenseless passenger breaking multiple facial bones . . . Woe is he! … and the passengers!

“A controller doesn’t trust his/her ability to live through the pain and chaos of life. There is no life without pain just as there is no art without submitting to chaos.” – Rita Mae Brown

Today, I will submit to the insecurity of a changing universe and have faith that I can live through the process and grow. (TOUCHSTONES March 7th)

Have a peaceful day, please ….

The Forces of Nature

Monday, Monday ….

Well, Happy Monday to us all! And begins another week. I often think about the multitude of differences in lifestyles amongst the people that I attempt to communicate with in these e-mails. I know some are retired, others have their own businesses, a handful may be in college or completing some professional courses and training for work while still others labor as professionals, doctors, lawyers, administrators and directors of various types of programs. I feel extremely blessed to have friends and associates like you all. I thank you deeply for sharing moments of your day with me via these e-mails and the numerous responses and replies, though not necessary, that I get back. Peace and blessings to you all.

After last weeks tornadoes continued to smash and destroy cities, communities, homes and schools …. yes and a few lives … across the southern states, it is clear that these are unanticipated events, catastrophes and circumstances, that some of us have no control over. People had their entire life savings swallowed up in minutes in a tornado, some tornadoes as large as three football fields, it was reported. Saturday afternoon when I sat on the walls of the beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Fort Lauderdale, FL, I began to count my blessings, soak up the sun, and enjoy the sounds of people frolicking and playing, swimming and boating and even an ocean liner/cruise ship or two in the background.

While I have no real “life savings”, fancy car or house to lose, I cling to the moments of this precious life I have been given by My Creator, and seek to sow the seeds of as much happiness, love … appreciation and gratitude … as I can. Since my spill on the motorcycle, I have had days when I wished to speak to my mother, or at least hold onto her leg or rest my head on her bosom, that’s the way we were when I was growing up. This past weekend, I felt rather “clingy”, if you know what I mean, and had few options, so to speak. Yet, it was nice when I got a message on Facebook from my daughter and we shared cell phone numbers. Then, yesterday, my sister … the only remaining sibling I have … came by with my nephew and her grandson, aka my great nephew. We joked, I showed them my wounds and my gear that I wore when I had my incident two weeks ago, and we all agreed it was a blessing from God that I am still here, no broken bones or serious injuries … and recovering.

May you each have a wonderful day, and, not that it may mean much to some of you, but I have to say it, I love you!


John I. Cook, Director

The Fir Tree

Happy Friday, All!

Nonetheless … and as always …. T.G.I.F.!

Now, I don’t know about you but this week seemed to have gone by rather quickly! Is it because March started just yesterday? Or could it be the anticipation of Spring Break? Whatever it is …. “It Is What It Is!”, as one dear friend told me, which led me to begin a full philosophical discussion on how we can CHANGE what it is if we don’t like “what it is”!! She let me say what I thought and taught me a lesson, too!

Lately, the weather has been rather calm and warm in South Florida while when I watched the news a couple of days ago and saw a grown big man crying after surviving the destructive winds of a tornado that swept through and devastated his home town somewhere in Kansas, I realized that I had it good … relatively speaking. Just For Today … as the title of one fine book states clearly that I had read as I struggled some years ago through a “12 Step Program”.

In watching the news just yesterday, a North Miami couple has been arrested and charged with child abuse after their 9 year old son was found bruised, malnourished and naked roaming the streets not far from his home. Once officials were able to find him after neighbors reported this child, they discovered that he hadn’t eaten in three days … and was dazed and begging for food. His malnourished body sported many many bruises which were clear indications that he had been physically abused. So, according to the youngster himself, he jumped out of the window in a bathroom in his parent’s house and ran away down the streets … just as he was …

“The fir tree has no choice about starting its life in the crack of a rock . . . What (nourishment) it finds is often meager, and above the ground appears a twisted trunk, grown in irregular spurts, marred by dead and broken branches, and bent far to one side by the battering winds. Yet at the top . . . some twigs hold their green needles year after year, giving proof that – misshapen, imperfect, scarred – the tree lives.” – Harriet Arrow (TOUCHSTONES March 2)

This is one of my favorite quotes and it comes at an opportune time of the above story of the 9 year old boy … and Spring …

I welcome and embrace my life, making changes when I find they are needed … however I can … and rejoicing in the outcome!

Have a great “first weekend” in March! We’ve a lot to look forward to . . .


John I. Cook, Director

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