Happy Halloween, Y’all!

Happy Hump Day!

Yes, it is not only the middle of the week aka “Hump Day”, it is Halloween aka “All Hallow’s Eve”! The moon is eerily full-like though apparently waning … Is it enough to make you wanna go “Boooooo!”? … or is it just another night? May those who seek refuge, comfort and help in the clean up from Hurricane Sandy which left South Florida just last weekend, which has earned the nickname “Frankenstorm” in the North Eastern states be successful and at peace ….

However you look at it, there is a lot going on. Just remember … it is another day in “your life” …. so precious, I might add. I often tip my hat and show my true colors to friends who have been so wonderful in making my journey a comfortable one. It seems that the richness of my life is just beginning to make itself known to me as I live each day as best I can. I am in close contact with friends who’ve lost loved ones, with friends who have experienced major surgeries of various types and are in recovery as well as a dear friend who struggles day by day with the horrific Lou Gehrig’s Disease aka “ALS”. Can I ask for more? I do . . . I ask their Creator to be merciful to them, give them comfort and peace when our mere human hands and hearts fall short. I ask that we each remember our friends and keep them in our well wishes, our thoughts … even our prayers! Amen …

Just last night, I had the pleasure of hooking up with my former room mate from Princeton University, Armond “Doc” Hill, assistant coach for the Boston Celtics. Last year makes the first time we’d connected since I graduated in 1976 from PU. We were also team mates freshman year on the Tiger’s Freshman Men’s Basketball Team in 1972-3. So, Armond set aside a couple of tickets for me to attend the opening game for the Miami HEAT in their bout against arch rival’s, The Boston Celtics. It was a great game, often “nip and tuck”, until the last couple of minutes! I still “Love This Game” … and I loved seeing Armond, too. My good friend’s son, Jordan Zachary, accompanied me to the game, and, we had a blast, getting to chit chat with Armond after a tough game that, in his words, ” … [he] hated to lose … “. Somebody’s got to win, and somebody’s got to lose in these competitions. He was in fairly good spirits and we had our second annual opening season game “pow wow”, so to speak. I thank him deeply.

In closing, I send out a special prayer to another dear friend from my Princeton Days, as well as his family. They are going through some extremely difficult times. I love you guys … so much … peace be with you.

So, in celebrating your Halloween with kids “trick o’ treating” and possibly some of you joining them in fun and frolic, as I did this past weekend, remember those warm souls we have been fortunate enough to meet along this journey, and, reach out to those we are still able to demonstrate basic human values of love, peace and happiness with.

Have a great Hump Day, and, a wonderful Halloween!


John I. CookRed rose, Director

Fall Changes . . .

Happy Monday, All!

It is the beginning of a new week and the last few days of October 2012. While most adults and “party goers” celebrated Halloween aka “All Hallow’s Eve” this past weekend in the form of parties and gatherings over the weekend, I think that the children of school ages will be going out to “Trick or Treat on Wednesday, as is traditional for their festivities of knocking on doors in their costumes and gathering candy and goodies. May they be as safe as I was this past weekend, as well as those of you reading this.

I do know, from pictures posted on Facebook and stories from the television news, that the weather has already changed in many parts of the North American continent and definitely in Western and Eastern European countries. Florida is a place where a lot of them come, not only from North American states and cities but many European countries and cities as well. They have rightfully earned the title of “Snow Birds”!

Well, my weekend was pretty peaceful, wonderful and amazing as I attended my favorite club in downtown Fort Lauderdale called “Capone’s”. I have been a patron of the club through various ownerships and different managers. It has a great location and the physical arrangement is nice for events in their famous VIP “Gangsta Lounge” and even has an area for private parties and events. I have become friends with the new owner and management though much of the staff has remained pretty much intact. Downtown Fort Lauderdale on 2nd Avenue was turned into a “Block Halloween Party” and the costumes were intriguing as well. I dressed as one of my characters from my motivational presentations, “The American Gangster”, and enjoyed myself thoroughly meeting many friends downtown, dancing and listening to music as well.

While much of the Northeast prepares for “Frankenstorm” known here as Hurricane Sandy and New York City’s mayor is calling for evacuation, our temperatures have dropped here in South Florida and I suspect they will continue dropping a bit, especially in the early morning hours. Yesterday was a calm day in conjunction with streaming service from Calvary (even Pastor Chet seemed to be fighting a cold!), having my traditional breakfast at home then heading out to visit my good friend Peter Zachary, his family and some clients of his who drove from Colorado to visit him as well! We watched football, ate, chatted, got to know each other (the visitors and us) and bid each other a fond adieu … until we meet again.

“It is senseless to speak of optimism or pessimism. The only important thing to remember is that if one works well in a potato field, the potatoes will grow. If one works well among (women) men, they will grow. That’s reality. The rest is smoke.” – Danilo Dolci

Have a wonderful Monday and a great week. Be safe, and care for one another, when possible!


John I. CookRed rose, Director

Things That Go “BUMP” In The Night!!!

Happy Friday, All!

And for me, hopefully for you, T.G.I.F.!

Here’s to having had a productive week, and, wishing you a wonderful, safe and festive weekend. Of course, it will be an interesting one since Halloween parties will be undoubtedly held for many as Halloween falls on a weekday. I have always been one to acknowledge “All Saints Day” on November 1st, the holy day for the return of all of the restless “spirits of the dead” to their graves, according to folklore. Peace be still …

Yet, many things come to mind on a day like today with Hurricane Sandy having left its impact on me and SoFlo as I awoke very early to howling winds, steady rain, and …. yes …. things going bump in the night! As the year comes closer to an end with November just days away, and probably one of the biggest elections of our times coming up also in just a few days, I tend to evaluate where I stand with my goals in life. Tall order, right? But somebody’s got to do it, so, I choose ME! I have had to be careful not to put “too many things on my plate” and very selective as to what goes on there so my priorities don’t “fall off” and go “bump in the night”. I continue to clamor for ways to accomplish goals, and, plan to listen in on Mr. Jerome Tucker’s program today called “3rd Eye Open”. He will have a gentleman who has developed programs for “at risk” youth across the nation and is running for office of Washington DC’s council seat at D-Ward 7 as a Republican. Visit Mr. Tucker at: http://www.backdoorenterprises.com for a stimulating format of blog talk radio. His program airs every Friday from 1pm – 4pm EST.

So, as we approach the weekend, I anticipate that we will be celebrating safely, and, that we keep ourselves aware of the potentially dangerous situations so things don’t get out of hand for ANYONE … especially the children. I would again like to thank each of you for reading with me, and, passing me on to others who may be interested in my topics or services, as well as my approach to a spiritual existence. Happy Halloween …. and definitely definitely GO VOTE!


John I. Cook, Director

It’s All About The Kids . . .

Happy Hump Day, All!

I guess I want to start out by saying how grateful I am to have been accepted into your lives, those of you who are reading this. I, like many of us, come from humble beginnings, and, while I remain humble at heart, I am a warrior in spirit. As a child, I was the youngest of four, wearing “hand me down” clothes, and grew up in a project in a suburb of New York City … picture that. My mother cleaned houses, while working for the local day care, girl scouts, flower club and student aid society. My father was an auto mechanic but fought hard with a 9th grade education to work as a security officer for Pinkerton Detective Agency. While I have been told by some that we weren’t “really poor”, I felt it was poor enough to indicate only one direction for me to go – UP!

Last night before retiring to sleep after a wonderful class with adult Haitians at the H.E.R.O. office in Oakland Park, FL, I watched the news and noticed that the Miami Dade Public Schools was the recipient of the prestigious Broad Foundation’s “Broad Prize” at a ceremony held in New York City. The school district, fourth largest in the nation led by superintendent Alberto Carvalho, has approximately 90% minority students (black and hispanic), 75% receiving subsidized lunches, will receive $550,000.00 in scholarships for students who demonstrate financial need AND academic improvement to aid them in attending college! “It’s all about the kids, y’all!” Those persons identified as having contributed to: 1. improving student achievement; 2. raising graduation rates of minority students; and, 3. increasing the percentage of minorities reaching advanced levels on state exams, were teachers and administrators, parents . . . and of course, “The Kids” themselves! How cool! How rewarding! What an accomplishment … by ALL involved! Kudos, y’all there in Miami Dade Public Schools!

There were several court cases involving youth here in Broward County, which, for the families sake, I am glad are over. I just couldn’t imagine being the mother of Josey Lou Ratley, a middle school student who was kicked in the head multiple times by an older school boy who wore steel toed boots … over a text message! The step father of Wayne Treacy was enraged that his step son was sentenced to 30 years of incarceration stating that the middle school girl should NOT have sent a text about Treacy’s brother who had committed suicide, essentially, blaming her for his son’s behavior. Needless to say, I have been told “way worse” things, and beg to differ with the kid’s step dad. As well, the final defendant in the case involving Michael Brewer who was set on fire after being doused with rubbing alcohol, it is said, because he refused to give his bicycle to school chums, has been found guilty as an accomplice for encouraging the other boys to set Brewer on fire. The other three are presently serving time.

May we continue to support our children, volunteering time, serving as mentors and being involved as responsible adults in their lives …. because they are watching what we do! Have a wonderful “Hump Day” and rest of the week as we prepare for the “Halloween Weekend”! Here in SoFlo, we may be looking at winds and rains from Tropical Storm Sandy that is hanging out over Jamaica and the Bahamas but heading out to the Atlantic this weekend.


John I. Cook, Director

The Politics of Controversy

Hello again! It’s Monday … the beginning of another brand new week for each of us – carpe diem!

As usual, here’s to hoping your weekends went well. When I think back to the days of studying and teaching about the Roman Empire, these times resemble it more and more! In some circumstances, we have more choices than ever to do whatever we want short of a public visit to the likes of a “Roman Bath” in this country. Just last night on “60 Minutes”, there was a segment on medical marijuana production and sales in the state of Colorado. Very interesting to say the least.

Today, in Boca Raton, Fl, there is a lot of “hub bub” surrounding the third and final presidential debate for the Election of 2012. It appears that all of the varying view points that one may hold has been narrowed down into two distinct “camps”, represented by now Pres. Obama and his opposition, Mitt Romney. Who says the USA doesn’t have one of the most exciting election strategies in the world today?! Chavez won again in Venezuela, and, last night they said the notorious Fidel Castro was sighted alive in Cuba. Anybody seen Tupac, “Biggie” Smalls or Elvis?! (Just my own spin of keeping it light in the land of controversy today!)

I recall a course I took at Princeton University when I was studying there for my degree in Sociology. It was entitled, “The Politics of Controversy”, and was quite interesting. For me, our coming election is clearly one of the same “events”, if you will. If you can figure out half of the things that these two candidates are talking about, you may need a college diploma. Also on “60 Minutes” last night was a South African scholar who had risen high at the infamous “Goldman Sachs” investment house on Wall Street, NY, USA. He mentioned how his colleagues were selling retirement plans that were so complicated that one might need a Ph.D. in economics just to figure out that you were being ripped off in the first place! Starting to feel like the Roman Empire to you yet? Hopefully, one is not just ignoring everything going down around us. Nevertheless, it is clear that there are two distinct camps … choose wisely … and remember all the “crap” people talked to create this hostile political environment here in the “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave”!

In closing, may we tip our hats to one of the men who was a legacy in contemporary American politics, Sen. George McGovern. Even Bob Dole, a Republican, had this to say about the senator: “He was truly a man who cared.” May he rest in peace …

Have a great week all!

Always in peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Things That Make Me Nervous

Happy Friday, All!

Here’s to hoping your weeks went well so that we can T.G.I.F.!!! Yes, it seems we have made it through another week and the weekend is upon us! How are you all feeling? Fine and well I hope.

This particular piece is one I wanted to make a little fun; yet, we all know that a certain percentage of anything funny is often very serious. So, this is no different, okay?!

Did you ever wonder what is going to happen to the world economy? I mean, we are in such serious conditions, and every country seems to be having its own economic woes. One of the most common “jokes” is, “Look at what’s happening in Greece?”. Amongst the major “jokes” nowadays is: “Which country owns the most property or land right HERE in the United States of America?” One of the most common answers is: China! Is that funny?!

Now, George Zimmerman wants HIS day in court because it appears that there is evidence that his “911” call that he made after he shot Trayvon Martin was edited by staff at a television station to make it sound like he was racist! Is that funny?! It kind of makes me nervous, in fact. So, a young kid with alleged links to Al Qaeda attempted to “what he thought was” blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. Anybody laughing yet? Well, Lance Armstrong, who had been an image of athletic excellence is finally accepting the fact that he indeed was “doping” for several years and even encouraged fellow bikers to do it … and we are just officially finding out! Still not funny, is it?! Either I have a strange sense of humor or the world is going out of control, you think?

Okay, here’s my last one in retrospect of the 2nd Presidential Debate that looked like at several points, the incumbent President Obama and Governor Romney were about to square off in the middle of the stage! Did that cross anyone’s mind?! Well, we’ve got Halloween Celebrations next weekend and there will be many many costume parties, some of them into the wee hours of the night and early morning. Am I the only one nervous? Some days, I keep a simple prayer or meditation, perhaps even a mantra or two, on the tip of my tongue just to get me through the following hours or days, even. They are always positive things to thwart off evil thoughts and “spirits”, feelings even, when I am around certain people and hear what they are saying.

So these are just a few of the things that “make me nervous” . . . can you relate to any? Whatever happens, just know that we are all in this together, and, that I wish us … each and every one of us … the BEST!


John I. Cook, Director


Happy Hump Day, All!

Here’s to hoping the mid-week mark is working for you as a measure of where you are in developing your personal goals in life. One of my favorite expressions that I have learned over the time of my journey is: “One day at a time!” Sometimes, when we learn a certain amount of self control and discipline, it may come down to one “minute” at a time, just to slow down the pace of our desire to “react” to a given situation. We need enough time to realize that reacting is NOT the goal … but to act in your own best interest, and the interest of those you love … and who love you, is the preferable goal! Peace be still!

Well, the second presidential debate was quite an event. One candidate came in thinking he had an edge from his “performance” in the first debate, whilst the other came in “seeing blood” that was spilt on his image by a biting rabid dog. It was quite different from the first debate where it was clear that etiquette and respect had been thrown out the window by the candidate whose main war cry was, “four more years of this …” and, “I have run businesses for 25 years …”, which he could say since he didn’t have to defend his record of NOT being President of the United States of America. As the debate got heated and nasty comments were thrown, it was clear that the President … yes, that is right … the President of the United States … NOW … Barack Obama, got nasty right back with his own swag and style … still maintaining his etiquette as is required of The First African American in the White House … believe it or not!

Are you “winning”? Did Charlie Sheen really win and is he still winning? Is life really about winning or losing … or is it about living your journey holding certain core human values high and helping our fellow human beings to survive this journey … this gift we’ve been given called life? Now, let’s throw me into this same equation … a briefcase full of cocaine in a hotel with hookers, and, “three wives” and an entourage hanging around me all the time … would you say I was “winning”? How about YOU? If you did the “Charlie Sheen Thing”, would your friends, family … maybe even your parents say, “My child is winning!” Hmmmm ….

Whomever you vote for is your choice, and while it should be evident that I have my preferred candidate for reasons close to my heart, make YOUR choice. But do get out and vote. That way, at this juncture in your journey, you, too, will be “winning”!

Have a great day!


John I. Cook, Director

Are You Listening?

Yes, it is Monday again … Happy Monday to you All!

I know there are a lot of people who complain when Monday comes … perhaps, some of them rightfully so! Yet, there may be some of us who complain because we don’t want to go to work or begin another 5 days of responsibility or routine. There were some days in my past when I wasn’t so excited for Monday. Then, when one is out of work for a while and may have to spend full weeks looking for work, which is a job in and of itself, one may be inclined to be a bit more welcoming of Monday … just sayin’!

My weekend was pretty decent, all things considered. Once I got past Friday with all the adjustments and make shift planning to get through another week of financial obligations, I laid low and hung out with “friends”. In these days and times when it becomes more and more difficult to determine who you can trust and who is NOT on the take, one must be careful in hanging out with people, and, even more careful whom we consider a friend. Real friendships usually require some time and situations in which the character of a person comes through all the decorations and awnings that us humans like to hang around our physical selves. There are some folks who “use” their friends and others who make friends with someone in hopes of getting something out of it like a “blind follower”, or perhaps someone who can get them a position or promotion.

Well, here in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday morning, there were two events held to increase the awareness of breast cancer. One was a 5K walk held in the downtown area culminating at Huizenga Park on Las Olas Boulevard and the other was held at the River Walk Main Esplanade there on 2nd Street near the Performing Arts Center and the IMAX Theater. I saw the first one from my car, which was not even hampered by the rain that fell as the walkers walked. I hung around and took photos and chatted with people at the second event where Lynn Martinez of Channel 7 WSVN was the hostess. The ladies were all “glammed” out for the “Glamathon” held again for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I was also at the first one held last year. The rain still hung around at first but by midday when the sun came out, the festivities began! There was a fashion show of groups of different ages, races, sizes and themes and everyone was truly beautiful there. There was also a friend of mine, DJ Excel who provided the sound track, and many many booths of a variety of services and products, too!

Sunday was nice for me because three gentleman from my hometown came down to see my BMF Peter Zachary who is still hanging on to his struggle with ALS. It is visits like these that keep one motivated to see another day of life … be it Monday or Saturday … or any day for that matter. They came Saturday afternoon and hung out at Peter’s house as he is wheelchair bound and enjoyed each others company. Since I had a small itinerary for Saturday with the Awareness activity, I waited until Sunday, when we got together for a grand buffet style brunch at Peter’s house in Plantation, FL. We told stories, remembered coaches and fellow students, even teachers and “big events” that we shared. It was nice. Before going to visit Peter, Howard Weintraub, Mike Quinn and Neil Stockel, I attended service at Calvary Chapel and Pastor Bob was continuing his series on God’s gifts. So, I took one of my gifts out to Peter’s with me, which is my personality and friendship, and blessed those who were there and willing to receive those humble gifts! We had a great time!

Are you listening to your Creator and developing and sharing your gifts? Do you just hear people and your Creator when they are talking to you? Do you understand? Well, I am not here to preach a sermon, just to share some of my strength, hope, love and experiences with you today in anticipation that you all may be able to relate. Have a wonderful week! Thank you … each of you … for your friendship …


John I. Cook, Director

To Tell The Truth

Happy Friday, All!

Once again, may we T.G.I.F.!

Yes, yes, it has been a rough week for me, all kinds of things going on that I hadn’t expected. At least nowadays, I “face the music” with an honest heart. Like I’ve often said, I have my flaws, too, so to speak, and am not a perfect person. Yet, there is no confusion for me – I am trying to be the best person that I can be. Occasionally, I get a little selfish and try to take some time “just for me”, or, have a little fun from time to time. One of my favorite places to do that is at the gym. We had a substitute for yoga this past Wednesday whose name is also “John”. He came late, so, those of us who really like yoga hung around waiting for him to arrive. We chatted amongst ourselves, and, I even said hello to some people that I never had talked to before! When he finally came about 20 minutes late, he told us he would give us a full hour and some … so I stayed. I needed that!

I usually tell the truth, or as Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) once said, “Tell the truth to those deserving of it!” Now, if that ain’t an old school Southern tidbit of philosophy, I don’t know what is! My father had a different saying though pretty much of the same genre. He said, “You gotta tell the truth boy, cause that’s the only thing people have to go on about you is what comes out of your mouth!” That was the way he ran his household … honestly. From time to time, though, my mother had to pick up the pieces, so to speak, for something he forgot to tell herĀ or that he had charged on a credit card!

The Vice Presidential debate last night was somewhat of a puzzle for people who may not be exactly well aware of what the Obama administration has done and what the Romney/Ryan ticket is proposing to do. While VP Biden sought to clear the issues and point to facts, there were moments in the debate where so many figures and statistics were being thrown around that I believe even the debaters themselves got tongue tied and had to try to reconnect with their train of thought or even rethink what they were saying. The moderator, Martha, was cool and kept control of things fairly well. Yet, when she posed a question from a decorated military personnel who said that there was basically “too much mud slinging” in this campaigning and asked each one what would they say to him, BOTH Biden and Ryan went off on a rant again about what incumbent Pres. Obama and candidate Romney were going to do to handle the budget and the military and anything else they could get into the two to four ( 2 to 4 ) minutes they were given to reply!!! Neither one answered the question that she posed! Hard to tell the truth … or even stay focused sometimes!

Well, this weekend here in Florida, there are several “Breast Cancer Awareness” events going on. One that I attended last year was here in Ft. Lauderdale at the River Front’s Main Esplanade beginning at 11:30AM EST this Saturday. It is hosted by Channel 7’s Lynn Martinez and is basically a competition/fashion show called “Glam Doll Strut”. Many groups or teams, if you will, of women, dress up, parade or “strut their stuff” and seek to win for the best presentation while focusing on the theme of “Breast Cancer Awareness”. Last year, I was one of two or three hands full of men out there who enjoyed the festivities that was mostly attended by women! I will be there again, it is free and very entertaining …. and for an Excellent cause!

Have a great weekend.

Peace be with you!

John I. Cook, Director

Leave The Past Behind . . . .

Happy Hump Day, All!

Here’s to looking at a new day, and, the weekend on the horizon! Life is a journey, and, with each new step, we have a chance for a new beginning. Choose the direction you want to go in, and go that way. Easier said than done, right?!

Just yesterday, someone had posted a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Facebook basically saying that modern humans have a dearth of spirit with a plethora of technological advancements. We fly like birds, manage the ocean like fish but have not learned to walk the Earth as sisters and brothers.

This week for me has been a tough one and, like a turning point, if you will, or just cranking it up a few more notches. There is no one thing or person or event taking the reins of my journey other than my desire to be a spiritual being … the best one I can be. Now, I am not ready to live on the streets and walk the planet in sandals and a robe like John the Baptist, so don’t let me mislead you! I just managed to pay off some back taxes from 1989 when I was legally living in New York. Since the letters that the State sent came back, I was allowed to pay ONLY what I owed then and not the nearly $3,000 in interest … thank God … ’cause I had no idea where I would get that from. Needless to say, all other debts fell seriously in arrears and I have been piecing together my next steps carefully. A good friend, I call him, “Big Bro”, has lent me a quick hand with a couple of presently pressing things and I will be able to repay him this weekend.

Of course, “my demons” of the past have been calling me. It got so bad, that yesterday, I got out of bed in the morning and hit my knees as I remember my father doing many a times though mostly at night. I embraced the 23rd Psalm which my mother instructed me to recite when times got rough, and, finally got up off my knees thanking my Creator for another day. The demons were left there on the floor though I encountered several all day yesterday in the form of tests for my spirituality. One person used the n-word as if he were legally insane … I called him ignorant and moved on. There was a bit of drama at work … I looked it in the face and did not react. Later, I was asked to pick up some supplies for the center where I teach my Tuesday evening class and was able to do so with literally a few bills in my pocket, for which I was reimbursed immediately. Then on the way to do that, I encountered a traffic jam, did not move fast enough for a woman stuck in traffic who began to call me everything that my parents did NOT name me! I was motionless and waited for traffic to move. I headed to the H.E.R.O. office and had an exceptional class and held the patience of Job in my heart. I ain’t no super hero but I am taking a few more steps today in that direction of being a spiritual creature along this journey.

Leave the past behind . . . unless its lessons help you move forward. Have a wonderful Wednesday!


John I. Cook, Director

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