Let’s Get “Real” About This!

Let's Get Real

Happy Friday, All!

And a one,  a two … a one two three four!!! T.G.I.F.!!
First of all, I want to thank those of you who read these e-mails, and, a special shout out to those who sent me a reply to Wednesday’s e-mail highlighting “I Am Glad I Lived to See It!”  Roz Reich, my friend of the Brahma Kumaris here in Hollywood; James Bailey, with whom I grew up with in the “PJ’s”, now on various “special assignments” world-wide; and, VeTalle Fusilier, college chum and long time friend, author and activist sent some great comments.  They are the following:
“Yes we have lived to see many things that we thought could and would never come to pass. The thing that amaze me is the pace of change in the world. If one is not careful one might miss the possibility of eradication of cancer in our lifetime, the pace of robotic intervention into our lives and the birth of nations coming out from under the cloak of colonialism and repression and take their rightful place on the world stage.
 Lastly, there is no better example of scholarship, effective civics and leadership than is embodied in the president of the United States Republic of America. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will know that there once was a man who ascended to the ultimate pinnacle of power and bested the best of them!”    – James Bailey
Ask any actor and they will tell you that timing is vital to the performance of a good play.  It’s one thing to know the role to play but it’s another to play it in the right way at the right time.  Only experience grows this ability.
When we see the world as a stage we automatically start to learn a new craft.   Over time all great actors develop many ‘stage skills’.  We often quietly admire the older and wiser actors amongst us on the stage of life around us, when we see how ‘crafty’ they can be.  We too have this opportunity to learn the same craft.  Each day we walk on to the stage of life and play our part in the drama of life.  Each day is both a performance and a rehearsal.  Each scene is a workshop and a canvas upon which we can create and leave something beautiful or something not so beautiful!  And as we do, we receive a reflection of our creative contribution in the mirror of our relationships.  And as we do we will know by how we feel whether we are ‘playing life’ or just surviving life.
Keep Up the Good Work…knowing we have the BEST DIRECTOR EVER!    – Roz Reich
“Glad to see an Ivy school like Princeton admit a bunch of young black males from all walks who lived their blackness like a mission and stood out form the normal Negroes who matriculated there, and are legendary for who they were and how they rolled.  radio air wave controllers, building takeover artists, good time geniuses.”        – VeTalle Fusilier
Okay … this is me again!  So, I would rather focus on something positive today … this weekend.  I am knowledgeable about the University Police in Cincinnati … another travesty … can I say .. One woman interviewed stated: “Gosh!! It’s like the same thing … over and over …”  How many more words do we need to describe this plethora of killings of unarmed African American  men, irregardless  of the “justification” element should there be a need for one …  The numbers … quantity … demographics … situations … all showing similar characteristics of profiling as we know it … and killings as we’ve seen in the past 5 years, more or less.
I admire the family of Mr. DuBose who called him “Peaceful” as they asked that no violence be displayed in relation to his death.  I don’t think it would be easy to face this with such “bravery” … for lack of another word … and still come out of it feeling “positive”.  I know when things get difficult for me … nothing in comparison with the Tensing assassination of Mr. DuBose (and this was not the first time that Tensing murdered a man) … who mere resisted … again as it happened in Texas … an officer’s attempt to open their car door … I can only think and do positive things.  I think I’ve tried enough of the negative things, speaking for myself.  I may have even tried some “not so negative” things, too!  But I’ve come to enjoy participating in the positive things.  So, moving forward with the spirit of Samuel DuBose in our hearts … should you decide to embrace it, enjoy this weekend.  A Full “Blue” Moon would make anything nice.
The Urban League of Broward County is doing it in style hosting the National Urban League and a nice panel of candidates for both parties that are seeking their parties nominations …including Hilary and Jeb and Dr. Ben Carson.  Some very nice things going on … from beach walks with the national president, Marc Morial, to workshops and job fairs at the Convention Center.
Be well, stay positive!
John I. Cook, Director

I Am Glad That I Lived to See It!

everything happens for a reason


Yes, yes, yes!!!  It’s Hump Day, yeaahhh!

What am I so happy about?!  I lived to see it!!!  Silly … yet practical.  Any of us could go at any time!  Of course, I suspect I have more time, though I don’t take a moment for granted.  I try to make sense of each moment though I count a lot on my natural flow.  I don’t think through everything though I don’t miss a “beat”.  I pick and choose what I’ll think about, contemplate, maybe figure it out, which I like to do … or NOT!
Okay, so I hope that I don’t offend anyone, just speaking my thoughts as most of us do!!  So, I am glad that I lived to see an African American male president of this country.   Not just anyone, someone who “started from the bottom now he’s here!”, if you know his story.  He was a humble yet proud young man … “Barry” … now … he’s serving the second term as the POTUS!  Yes, indeedy … glad to be alive to see it!  No matter who “likes” him or not, this is a man, Barack H. Obama, who doesn’t serve because someone “likes” him, he serves because he is a dedicated professional and president of “the people”!  Most people miss that whole point … as if Mitt Romney would have sought the “best” for “the people”!  Get a grip on “your” greed if you think a Trump or Romney would run this country with the people in mind.
Now, as sad as it is, I am glad that I lived to see Bill Cosby’s “cover blown”!  I mean, I used to like and admire that man.  I admire him more for his acting skills because what he did when not on “stage” was horrifying!  I am glad that I lived to see someone whom I thought was “bullet proof” be exposed … and in fact … is riddled with “shots” at him … as a person!  The women called him “a monster”.  Glad I lived to see Bin Laden “go down” and glad to have witnessed the “life and times” of people like Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King, Jr, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela … peace be still!
What about you?  Any thoughts?  Feel free to hit me up!

John I. Cook, Director

Thoughts About Fathers . . ,

Baby Darth Veda

Happy Monday, All!
Yes, yes … I am at it again!  Just trying to make sense of this journey as it unfolds.  Anyone care to join me?!
Today’s message will be somewhat simple, short and sweet … and a theme Educational Excellence has touched on in the past.  It has to do with “a father’s approval”.  It’s a tough subject, since there are no courses on how to be a “good father”.  We have to kind of take what we get, right?!  And if we are not “given” a father that we can relate to … or who wants to relate to “us” … we have to kind of go out and find that “father figure”, if you know what I mean.
I got this idea from Joel Osteen’s televised service yesterday.  It was impacting enough for me … personally … that I wanted to revisit it again … personally.  Are you still with me?  Now Osteen was talking about how important it is for a youngster to get her/his father’s approval … maybe just kind words of support.  We all have different circumstances either as “that child” or “that father”.  It is our job, most of the time, to figure things out.  My father, for example, used to talk in darn near parables when he tried to explain something.  I was the kind of “child” that often wanted to ask “why” when he told me something.  Yet, after a few “whippings” for not obeying his instructions, I lost the desire to ask him “why”!!  Now, I was fortunate enough to have other “men” in my life whom I could confide in … maybe ask a question or two … and men who took an interest in me because they could “see something” in me.  One such person was Cary Smith, my physical education instructor in “junior high school” as well as our football coach for our 9th grade team at Highlands Jr. High School.  We remained friends for years, though I have lost contact with him now.  Another person I encountered during my “formative years” was someone I’ve talked about often.  That is Maurice Blake, athletic director and football coach at St. Paul’s School.  We are still in touch … peace be still.
Osteen was basically saying that a father’s approval is important so that “his children” don’t go looking to strangers and/or boyfriends or “do-bad people” for approval or direction.  I’ve seen it happen, even where there is a father figure available in the home, and the “child” decided to go look elsewhere for a variety of reasons.  I think my oldest sister was that way, RIP, Barbara Ann.  So, I am just revisiting this “message” about “a father’s approval” because there are so many young people “out there” that I love and seek to nurture, in any way I can, if only showing that some “men” can be trusted enough to serve as a “surrogate” father … or just someone to look up to … care about … or share kind words of encouragement.  So, in looking at the world’s events and holding on to the hope that this new generation can help turn things around … for the better … I offer up this theme for all of us … whoever we are!
Have a great week!


John I. Cook, Director

Educational Excellence

An Excellent Case for the Body Cam . . . (Among other things …)

fight back


Happy Friday all!

I’m about to say it … wait … wait … as “Ernesto” the yoga teacher who has us hold a pose until he says “let go” … NOW!!   T.G.I.F.!!
Oh man, y’all!  Did I ever tell you how therapeutic writing is for me?!?  Ooooo … weee!  I always think back to the first poem I wrote … I was at St. Paul’s School as a 4th Former (high school sophomore) and wondering what on Earth I was doing there.  Trying to make sense of it all was too much for an “impressionable young teen”!  There were a few of us … maybe 20 -25 at first … “minority students” as we were called.  I wrote a few poems while I was there!!  I fell in love with writing.  Now, the good thing for me is … as one guy said when he read my blog maybe a year or more ago, complaining about “sentence fragments, misspelled words and run on sentences”, I may not be the best writer, but I get my point across … me thinks!  And … on a slightly more humble note … that’s why I always thank y’all for reading … and mention the “opt out” option to send me a “STOP”.
No … this is not a rant though it might look like one for a minute.  It’s just that I have a serious problem with a man … who likes to put “his hands” on a woman … in some attempt to dominate or dehumanize “her” … any woman/female!!  Now this Sandra Bland story “takes the cake”!!  So many lessons for “society” to learn … some enforced, like trooper policies … to those lessons that one can only speculate on … why someone would hang themselves after one night in jail …. peace be still …
So, I watched the video … it hit me like “Roots” … only … this wasn’t a movie!!!  You know, I have a simple suggestion.  Watch the video.  The young lady was well spoken and knew her rights.  She didn’t have to put her cigarette out nor get out of the car.  One can see the trooper “pushing buttons”, and, when he didn’t get off on his “power trip” with this young black woman, he took his taser out after attempting to pull her out of her car … for … for … changing lanes without signaling?!?  Like Sandra Bland said: “Are you f-cking kidding me!!??”  Yes, she had tried to commit suicide before.  This trooper stated vehemently his lack of concern for anything she had to say once she “pushed HIS button” and he forced her face down into the ground while already handcuffed, placing his knees in the crease of her back!!  She told him: “You are smashing my face into the ground and I have epilepsy?!!  Do you feel more like a man now?!?”  The trooper’s response to the “head smashing” comment and epilepsy was: “Good!!! Good!!”  His sickness overflowed as he wrestled a 28 year old woman on the ground … out of view of his own “dash cam” … because she changed lanes without signaling.
No, Sandra Bland didn’t like the treatment this “animal” gave her.  She was already at the “edge”, so to speak, after losing her baby last year … and attempting an overdose of sleeping pills.  A theme I mentioned last week was just this: “You never know what challenges another person is facing.  So be kind to them … don’t judge them, don’t mistreat them.”  All this trooper had to do was follow policies, which he violated over and over.  She asked over and over: “Why are you arresting me??”  For over 15 minutes, while touching her all over, he had no answer.  (At one point, I thought I heard Sandra say: “What? You think that’s a gun??  That’s a tampon!)  Then, dumbfounded, he comes out of his mouth with the classic gem for an ignorant officer looking for excuses: “I am arresting you for resisting arrest!”  Wt@!!!!
This is a classic example of why we need to get ALL law enforcement officers equipped with “body cams” NOW to protect the citizens they are supposed to be protecting.  Another “oxy moron”, heh?!!
Peace Be With Each of You!

John I. Cook, Director

Someone to Look Up To!

RIP Col Williams


It’s Hump Day … Yeah!

I almost felt like it was Friday there for a minute!!  Crazy, right?!!  I must’ve been “vacationing” again … for a second!!  I know for me, I like to seek people … to look up to!!  You know how everybody talks about “heroes”?!!  Folks get into “squabbles” because they differ on the content of the character of their “heroes”!!  For me, I have examples of great people … probably beyond the “hero” status in terms of what they endured … that I try and need to look up to when I am facing some challenges in my own life.  Among my favorites, and you already know, are my parents.  Yet, I know there were … are until recently … people who had it tough.  There were folks who worked really hard, against all odds!  Enter the Tuskegee Airmen …
These African American men studied flying with second and third rate equipment, planes that they learned to repair and keep flying, and skills at flying even while being considered second rate citizens in the U.S.A.!  These were men who had been treated unfairly but rose from difficult economic conditions, many of them, and fought against not only racism … but the German aggressors in World War II.  This is not my first “take” on the fame of the “Airmen”, but I’ve come back to visit this theme as another of the last of the Tuskegee Airmen is laid to rest.
May we say good bye for now … to Lt. Colonel Edridge Williams … who was laid to rest at a service in Miami on Monday.   Eldridge graduated in Miami in 1942 … where were you in 1942 … received the Congressional Gold Medal from former Pres. Bush in 2007 and passed away this past weekend at the age of 97!!  Each time I write something or say something about these men, I think of my former boarding school coach, Maurice Blake, who is around the same age as he recounted stories to me and even gave me booklets on the Tuskegee Airmen and their fame!  These are some people that I’d like to look up to … just sayin’ … beyond “hero” status, in my opinion.  Join me … take a few moments in this “land of the free, home of the brave” … and say so long to Lt. Colonel Eldridge Williams, RIP, Sir!
John I. Cook, Director


Hurting People “Hurt” People

heal the hurting


It’s Monday again!

Here we go again.  Sometimes, routine can yield great results.  Other situations may require one to change quickly, make decisions on the spur of the moment and be prepared to start all over again.  So, that means we must learn which situation requires a certain type of handling and action.  Things don’t get easy as we mature and try to stay on a positive course in our lives.  Economies get tight, fear and anger set in … and what I do … is try to get it “out” as soon as I recognize it has gotten “my attention”.  There are some days that “I be goin’ through them changes!”  I have to stretch and breathe, meditate and  practice yoga to get a “grip on my faculties” again.  I have found that some physical activity, like lifting weights too, help a lot.
Just yesterday I heard a “sermon” from a televangelist that spoke about anger and reconciliation, pain and how people wonder if “I” want to be right or if “I” want to reconcile.  Depending on how close a relationship one may have with “the other”, one’s decision may vary.  In certain moments for “certain people”, it is more important to “be right” … even if they are “wrong”!   Clearly reconciliation is NOT the goal of an individual who only wants “to be right” and the relationship will probably suffer and be lost.  The televangelist commented something that many of us find difficult to do … be the first to re-establish communications … say something friendly … and listen.  Controlling people will not relinquish that “control” concept for their own fear of losing the upper hand, so to speak, which is also a figment of “ones” imagination.  How “high” do you really have to be to have “the upper hand”??!!  Donald Trump thinks he has it!!!
Finally, after another young member of the military died there in Chattanooga, TN after being shot by this “lone gunman”, it comes out that the shooter was “depressed” and had struggled with it much of his life, according to his parents!  Like in so many other “mass shooting” events that we’ve witnessed over the past ten years or so, the “shooter” had a history of mental illness.  Yet, no one seemed to know enough to tell somebody who could intervene professionally BEFORE this event took place … on the heels of the church killings in Charleston, SC.  As the title suggests, and our lives today manifest, “hurting people hurt OTHER people”!  Maybe there should be some courses included in school curriculum on meditation and spirituality … We need to do something EXTRA to help these hurting people ….
John I. Cook, Director

Make Someone Smile . . . YOU!

one smile

Happy Friday, All!

“Let me clear my throat!!”  Fingers … maybe?!?  … T.G.I.F.! Happily corny today … for different reasons.  I don’t know about you but I’ve learned to LOOK for reasons to be happy!!  There is certainly enough to be sad about … methinks … So, change it up!!  Feels better anyways!
Yes, one of the things making me happy is that I got a surprise visit from my daughter Wednesday night.  She is staying with my sister in Port St. Lucie …  So, my sister had driven down to take care of some family matters in the FTL and on her way back to “the Port”, she sent me a text and told me she was in town and wanted to meet to give me a birthday present …  So we met … right after yoga class at the gym, I drove a few blocks to meet up … Out of the car comes my daughter!!  Now, last we spoke before she left Florida nearly a year ago, things weren’t that great between us.  A lot can happen when folks don’t agree.  I’ve lost friends over that same theme … we didn’t agree.  It requires maturity and simple acknowledgment that “I (you) ain’t perfect either!”  So, get a grip on your ego and come back down to Earth!!  So, I did.  We hadn’t communicated when she went back North … until very recently … her birthday in April, I sent an e-mail and she answered me back.  I was happy.  I was happier Wednesday when I saw her.  Keepin’ it simple!
We are pretty much responsible for our own happiness.  Tough thought and awesome idea but even tougher to do.  Recently, I caught myself saying some “not so  nice things” when I was stuck in traffic … or somebody cut me off … or someone was driving too slow.  Patience was wearing thin way too often!  I even got a ticket after nearly two years of NOT getting one!!  I made a U-turn in an intersection where there was a “No U-turn” sign next to the light …  I’ve got to “tighten up” … focus on all the training I’ve experienced in yoga and stop letting the “world” affect me so negatively.  I’ve been paying more attention to  myself … not to mention paying more attention to “Reasons to be Cheerful”!  You know, it is the “spiritual warfare” where things in our world have the capacity to crush our spirit … if we let them!!  Usually, situations can become challenging in general.  Then if you add “negative” people with tremendous “egos”, it may seem hopeless!  You may have to make YOURSELF happy in those moments of spiritual warfare when the chips are down, so to speak, and the demons are running wild around you!  Do you think … even for a second … that your Creator made you to suffer … at the hands of another “creature” much like yourself?!?!  I don’t think so!  Find something … something good and simple … some thing or someone beautiful and spiritually uplifting.  It could be anything from sitting at the ocean’s shore listening to waves dancing and splashing in the summer evening air.  It could be a hug from a good friend, the “hello” from a new friend, a kind word from a co-worker or a stranger in an elevator!!  Take your pick!
So Sunday, after what I anticipate to be a quiet yet peace-filled weekend … some fun included … there will be the monthly World Peace Meditation sponsored by my friends with the Brahma Kumaris Group of Hollywood.  It will be at Young Circle at ArtsPark near the middle and the fountains under a huge tree starting at 6PM!!  I look forward to it!  Something simple … something peace-filled … Om shanti shanti shanti.
John I. Cook, Director

Just Ask!


It’s Hump Day, Y’all!

What’s it mean to you?!?  Just another day, hey …  But “you” won’t take it for granted, will you?  What does each day mean?  Is it special?  Do you think that “you” have unlimited days as opposed to someone else … like … me, for example??  In other words, do you believe that your “days are numbered”?
I mean, I just celebrated a birthday on Monday and it meant a lot to me!!  It meant “the world” TO ME!!  Now, I happen to be fortunate enough to have genuine friends … most of them, I believe.  Many of you are amongst them.  And I don’t judge who likes or who doesn’t like me … here are those words again … “like” and “love” … both often used inappropriately or with a particular goal in its “meaning”!  The only thing I might ever want to know about someone who doesn’t “like” me is … why?  And someone may have a very good reason!!!  I know, things can get complicated sometimes in my own “head”, so, I could imagine what “others” may go through … especially those who walk amongst us thinking that they are “perfect”, which we all know by now is the biggest “untruth”!!
So, in my “not-so-perfect” state, I had a perfect birthday!  It was simple for me especially since it was a Monday and I was at work.  Yet, all of the “Birthday Wishes” that flowed from social media to me, texts and e-mails even, took a couple of days to answer!  So many fine folks … from friends of my older brother Hank and my sisters to former students of mine from White Plains High School, even friends from “overseas”!  It was so beautiful to see folks take just a few seconds of their day to send such warm wishes my way!!!  I was truly touched, and I feel really really special … “loved” even!!  There is a woman I met in yoga class at L A Fitness nearly two years ago whose husband, Dave, is from White Plains.  She has a heart of gold.  Elaine Hill brought a huge slice of Tuxedo Mousse cake to class in a freezer bag with a bottle of ice water to keep it cold!  She said, “I bought this to class for you hoping you would be here!”  I was … how perfect is that.  You see, friendships don’t have to be perfect … neither do we!  But friendships should be sincere … encouraging and uplifting even.  That was something that My Creator showed me through the likes and loves of others … on  my birthday.
Still, I don’t want to bore “un-like” minded folks with my “positivity” and “peacefulness”.  So, I often ask if you would like to be removed from the e-mails I send 3 times a week, and you can just let me know.  Educational Excellence and me are a “spiritual service” that some folks may feel that they don’t want or need.  For others who understand “the higher order”, by now, you know I just share my heart!  Thank you, ALL.
Have a wonderful Wednesday and a fantastic rest of the week!

John I. Cook, Director

” . . . And Before You Know It . . . Pouff!”



It’s Monday!

What do you all say about today?!?  Well, for me, it’s a pretty special day … my birthday!  Now, while it might seem like I enjoy attention, the more I “mature” … the less attention I like being paid to my age … even to myself!!  I don’t often think about it but try to keep myself “busy” in a positive way, if you know what I mean.
So, Sunday was rather peaceful and reflective mainly since Friday and Saturday night out downtown Fort Lauderdale, I kept things low key!  No late night/early morning occurrences as I began celebrating my birthday, which is today, this past weekend.  Nothing else seriously planned though I got an invitation from “Club Hooters” to get free boneless wings for my birthday!  I’ll be at yoga tonight.  I’ve been keeping my ears and eyes open for “birthday specials”!  I called my friend Jimmie “Ray Ray” Campbell yesterday whose birthday was last Thursday to wish him a happy belated birthday.  He and his wife and daughter were in Maryland visiting their son, Jamal, who just got married to a young lady from Kenya.  He is working as a case manager in the DC/Maryland area and has served as an officer in overseas activities for the military.  So, his wife, Pearl, told me that she and Rasheeda took “Ray” out to Red Lobster in Maryland.  Rasheeda had visited St. John’s in New York, the college she will be attending in the Fall and they then came further South to Maryland.  Ray tells me that he is getting “burned out” with all the restaurants!  I told him in my non-jealous voice: “Hey, you’re on vacation, right?!?  Enjoy the restaurants!!”  We both laughed.
I thought for a moment how nice that would be for my birthday … had to cut that thought down to seconds … then I suddenly thought of my mother!!  Just out of the blue … the thought came: “But who did all the work on MY birthday?”  And the answer followed: “My Mother!”  Keeping it simple … even on my birthday.  Grateful for it even.  There were times that I wasn’t sure if I was “going to make it” though I can’t say that I know what death looks like … I did see it going by once or twice!  Grateful, I say today … just to be alive … and … reasonably sane.  Not rich nor famous … but “free” and alive.
Many many thanks,
John I. Cook, Director

“I Want to Thank You!”

thanks this much


Happy Friday, All!

Yes, yes!  And I’m sending a warm T.G.I.F to each of youse!  I am serious!!!  It’s hot down here … so ….
I’ve often been one to try to behave positive, though not perfect at it.  Yes, sometimes it is difficult to stay positive.  And I see people struggling with the same thing each day.  I try to add a bit of positiveness, if “they’ll” let me!  Some folks like staying stuck in that “fighter” mode … looking for “fights”, mostly verbal, and often have no desire nor interest in peace.  I mean, I can understand that sometimes folks get “hyper” – I do – but they need to do something about that to stay in normal “harmony” mode unless otherwise called forth to do so … like in an NBA basketball game or the armed forces!!
One of the most moving events recently occurred because someone seemingly shared some heartfelt “grief” for the desire of a State Capitol’s representatives to keep the Confederate flag flying there in Charleston, SC!  I watched segments of the speech, read numerous articles on both sides … peace be still … and finally Jenny Horne, a descendant of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis dug deep to challenge the “old Southern aristocratic” mode of thought that kept that flag flying long after the Civil War was over!!  It is evident how some folks would rather hold on to symbols of the past … evil and hurtful symbols, which some claim, were simultaneously symbols of those who believed in a particular lifestyle which is no longer the norm.  I hide my own sentiments when I think of the horrors, evils, deaths and pure agony that many African Americans must have endured under that same “symbol”.
So I say simply and sweetly that I want to thank all those who stood firm and tall, spoke their hearts messages that finally led to bringing that flag to a museum where “outdated” historical items are better suited.

John I. Cook, Director

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