Take Some Time for Yourself! Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

happy memorial day 2016


Happy Hump Day, y’all!

I waited until today to write an e-mail/blog because it will be a short week for me … and I will be traveling to New York/New Jersey on Friday!  It’s Memorial Day Weekend, too … so we’ve got four days to celebrate!
Just wanted to give a quick shout out to my friend, “Rebecca”, who is in England and has the same birthday as my Mother, May 20th.  Happy Belated Birthday, Rebecca!  I miss you a lot and hope you come back from England one day so I can see you again!  Best wishes always.  Official Happy Birthday to my sister Edna D. Cook whose birthday is today!
I also wanted to congratulate another reader/friend, Stacey Leal, who just got engaged.  Stacey is a friend from a few years back whom I met in Ft. Lauderdale.  She is a lovely lady who found just the right guy to propose to her!  Congratulations, Stacey!
Okay, so … what’s the state of affairs with race relations in this country?  The POTUS Obama is finishing his second term amidst the muck and mire of USA politics.  Let’s take a thermometer reading … George Zimmerman just got over $100,000 (some say $250,000!) for the auctioning of the gun he used to kill unarmed Trayvon Martin.  Just the simple fact that someone thinks that “owning” this weapon of probably the most cowardly person (I use that term loosely ) in this country who killed an unarmed teenager is something “special” and worth over $100,000 to buy and own is a travesty … to me!  I have little to nothing to say about Zimmerman … except that he is a “hideous punk”, and as one author suggested, needs to go away … these are the only things I would like to say about him, too!
Next, the officer who drove the van in an extremely haphazard way … who also refused to secure Freddie Gray as he bounced around in the back of a police van for about a half hour with Mr. Gray’s spinal injury which was incurred as the same “gang” of officers abused him before throwing him into the police van … was found not guilty by a judge!!!  The folks in Baltimore are demanding that the additional officers be brought to justice immediately … though many suspect the same results.  While Mr. Gray’s family did receive a fairly decent amount of “money” for the unfair death of their son and brother … nothing can bring his life back … and those responsible for his ultimate murder should be charged like any other “citizen in the USA” who murders another “unarmed” human being who was RUNNING away … and NEVER EVER charged with anything by the officers that killed him!  Same thing happened in Brooklyn …  Can anybody say, “Tsk tsk tsk?!?”  I gotta say “Damn!” as a black man!!! Wt@!!
Yet, there are reasons for me to be cheerful … I am embarking on the journey to New Jersey via New York’s LaGuardia Airport Friday to attend my 40th Reunion for the Graduation Class of 1976!!!  I am so excited, you can’t imagine!  I am grateful for friends like John Young who got my flight to New York and back using his Delta Sky Miles and for Willy Landrigan, Class of 76 from Princeton, who helped arrange my campus activities.  I look forward to seeing college chums like Lloyd Lawrence, Dennis Hewlett and Leicester Bruce Stovell at the Reunion!  Let the festivities begin!


John I. Cook, Director

May We Always Remember . . .



Happy Friday, All!

I’m gonna do it … ’cause I like doing it!  I am Thanking God It’s Friday!!  Any objections?!?
Okay, so … my heart is a little heavy today for various reasons … various people I know are experiencing some of life’s most difficult challenges.  A good friend from White Plains, Ricky DePalo, has a step daughter … well, had a step daughter … who died in an accident last weekend on the Sawgrass Parkway.  Apparently, she was tired and was trying to make it home … but fell asleep first!  I have  been there and done that … and survived, y’all!  Do you know what a blessing is?!?  My heart goes out to Ricky as he has planned an event this Saturday at the Signature Grand in Plantation/Ft. Lauderdale to honor this young lady.  She was working on her masters at Nova Southeastern University, teaching special education students, and had just bought a home with her fiancee … Peace, please be still!
Additional love and prayers going out to Mrs. Blake … wife of my basketball coach/athletic director at St. Paul’s School.  Coach Blake and I have remained friends since I graduated from SPS in 1972!  How cool is that?!?  At the present time, according to an e-mail he sent me, his wife commonly called “Mrs. B”, is suffering from a fall … and the dreaded dementia!  I can only say that my heart goes out to the entire family, including his son, Big Mike, but especially to “Mrs. B.”!  You will always be remembered, Ma’am …  Love you guys, Coach and Mrs. B.!
Well, if you’ve been reading my e-mails/blogs, you know that I am in a transitional stage of my life.  Looking at early retirement, being supportive of my daughter and my grandson – Caleb Isaac, and promoting Educational Excellence … and still working, consumes mostly all of my time.  I am sure to get my needed 3 yoga practices in each week, and a sit in the jacuzzi and swimming laps at the gym on Saturdays.  It helps me feel balanced and somewhat healthy!  All other things are pretty much immaterial!
In closing, I would like to wish one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met in my life a happy birthday – my mother – Marietta Dolores Cook!  She was born May 20th, 1917 and left us a bit over 10 years ago … may she rest in peace!  Her sister, my Aunt Drucilla (RIP) had her birthday on May 17th, and my sister Edna D. Cook (the “D” is for Drucilla) has her birthday on May 25th.  This weekend, our great nieces – Tanisha Mary Ann and Kalieah from the Bronx, NY – have flown down to help us celebrate Edna’s birthday on Saturday!!  It will be like a mini-family reunion, if you will.
May we always remember our loved ones …

John I. Cook, Director

Love Yourz – J. Cole



Happy Tuesday,
Now, I don’t know about you … but I am glad that I am “me”!  How about you?!?  I mean, supposed you didn’t like “you” … what would you do??  I know … well … my brother … Henry Charles Cook … killed himself!  Now, I don’t say that out of shame or embarrassment … I say it out of humility … and pain … I guess he wasn’t happy … we never had a chance to talk about it although he did come to visit me at Princeton my freshman year!!  We had a blast … then … then it got too much for him … Little did I know that that was the last time I would see him …  Peace be still!
J. Cole said in his song: “Love Yourz” – “There’s beauty in the struggle, … ugliness in success!”  The song is basically suggesting that we each … love our OWN lives … as difficult as it may seem …  be grateful for it … and “love yourz”!!  ‘Nuff said?!?  I know some folks might have a hard time loving their lives … but the key word is “live/life”, you got it?!  Most things are relative, as J. Cole further suggests in his song … and many other “philosophers” like Buddha say!  I am sure this is not the first time that you’ve heard this.
I am very grateful to be alive today, to be able to experience the things like a grandson and a daughter … shucks, even a sister and great nephew and his Momma … my niece.  This weekend, my sister is celebrating her birthday at a venue in Ft. Lauderdale.  Family members of my oldest sister and us will be coming from the Bronx, NY to help celebrate, not to mention my daughter, her daughter, and a bunch of friends she has made in her 30 plus years in SoFlo!  It should be a blast!  Looking forward to the Cook family from the Bronx to land at “The Port”!
So, I am not sure if you see where I am coming from yet with the “Love Yourz” theme.  Love your life … love enough to improve when you can.  Love those who are in your “family of friends” … whether they be biological family or those who have come into your life and serve as “brothers and sisters” in our lives.  Sometimes, it is not so easy.  Yet the key word for me … is “love”!

John I. Cook, Director

Friday … the 13th!!!

Friday the 13th black cat


Happy Friday, All!

And you guessed it … A hearty T.G.I.F. to each of us … that would be most appropriate!  What a week!  We had Mother’s Day and now, if I am not mistaken, we are looking at a Friday the 13th!!!  Can’t beat that, right?!  Or can you???  Just joshing around!  I just wanted to thank many of you who take the time to write back when the spirit moves you, though it is not necessary.  For example, Desmond Hannibal of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Ft. Lauderdale wrote me back in response to my last e-mail/blog.  His comment was short and sweet … and to the point.  He basically said that he walks in the same shoes as I do … and understands what I am referring to!  At least this way, I know that I am not crazy … or imagining things … as folks would have “you” sometimes believe!  Trust yourself!
Tuesday night, I decided to go see the movie, “Papa Hemingway in Cuba”.  I had always heard different rumors about his life and wanted to see a  more or less authentic documentary type of film.  While watching the film, with Adrian Sparks playing the role of Ernest Hemingway and Joely Richardson, I felt the emotions of the man that many in Cuba called “Papa”.  Giovanni Ribisi played journalist Denne Bart Peitclerc who was renamed “Ed Myers”; he was truly captivated by mayhem and confusion in the world of Papa Hemingway and his wife.  The film was shot in Cuba and directed by Iranian born Bob Yari and required much research and collaboration with the Cuban government as no film had been “shot” there in over 50 years.  The beautiful Minka Kelly played “Myer’s” girlfriend who later became his wife after realizing that “Hem” had taught him a valuable lesson.  “Before you make a decision, be sure you have thought it out well and consider every possible angle.”  Hard to do in most circumstances, but one would fare better if one did do this!!
Anyone afraid of Friday the 13th?!?  I hope not … It is called “triskaidekaphobia” … in case you haven’t heard!  My birthday is July the 13th, and it occasionally falls on a Friday.  One year, I think it was around 1977 or so, we had a “black out” in Westchester County … Downtown White Plains was dark due to an overuse of electricity in the middle of the summer!!  The “black out” extended into some parts of the Bronx, I believe, and there was some looting!  I hope nothing like that happens now … Things are so tight economically that I am sure some folks would do the unthinkable!!  I don’t want to know … I get some crazy ideas myself.  Thanks to my Creator, I know how to let those ideas go … flow into an after thought even!  Mindfulness is important for me nowadays!
In closing, I want to wish you each a wonderful weekend and be the best person you can be … as often as possible!  I appreciate your readership and most definitely welcome any comments that you may have!
John I. Cook, Director

Remember Who You REALLY Are!

remember who you are


It’s Tuesday … another day to fulfill your dreams … it seems!  Take advantage of it, for tomorrow is not promised … to ANYONE!  Check your local news if you don’t believe me!

First of all, just a quick correction to my Friday e-mail/blog post … My friend, Vetalle Fusilier’s mother’s birthday … is the same as my father’s birthday, Isaac H. Cook, which is the 4th of July.  So, I stand corrected … once again!  Thanks for being “you”, Vee!  Hoping you all had a chance to spend some time with your Mothers … I missed mine a lot!  So, after spending some time with my friend, John Shelton and his girlfriend, Candy, watching the Cavaliers ball out Atlanta, I drove towards the beach in the FTL.  Had a chance to meditate on my Mother, her unconditional love … the kind that I will probably never experience in my life again … and her teachings … Love you and miss you!  Had to push back a few tears …  Well yesterday at work … the tears started to flow … ever so gently.  I took a break, recited the 23rd Psalm (our favorite) and got back to work!
So, do you know “you”?  This is kind of a rhetorical question though some of us may not be that close to ourselves!  How do you do that?  By spending lots of time with yourself … just like you do when you get to know others.  Same thing goes down when you learn to love yourself, hopefully before you learn to love “others”, too!  As I continue to mature along my journey, I have become comfortable being alone … with myself … digging deep and seeing how I can become more and more in tune with myself and the purpose of MY journey.  Om shanti … shanti … shanti.  Sometimes in this life, we learn to “put up with” and “cope with” all this other stuff … and little time for ourselves …  Many of us like to be surrounded by “others”, and, while I enjoy company, friends and associates, I cherish the time that I find myself alone.  Peace be with me … and you!  Some times, the world labels “us” this … and the world labels us “that”.  Yet, that same world seems to encourage us to be “this” or “that”!  Then, throw obstacle after obstacle at our feet to trip us up.  And, if we fail, it – the world – spits us out and rejects us from society!  How does that make one feel?!?
I don’t know about you, but I return to my core … my spirit, my soul … the real me!  Peaceful and humble, yet maintaining my warrior poses in the event of an onslaught of evil spirits.  We all have to make choices as to whether we will get stressed out over “life” or if we will consider it as one of those “human made conditions” resulting from the type of society we live in.  While we are encouraged to conform to certain norms of behaviour (accumulating wealth, getting involved in the “rat race” and putting your family and friends aside, having that cut throat attitude … to get ahead, for example), we must remember that we are not wired to be such creatures … and still be happy … peaceful … and stress free!
Yesterday, I had some moments of “missing mommy” while at work and “took five” to say the 23rd Psalm (me and my mom’s favorite) to regain my emotional balance.  Do what you have to do … but remember who YOU really are!
Have a great day.
John I. Cook, Director

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!



Happy Friday, All!
Of course, you can join me in a hearty “T.G.I.F.” … if you like!
I have been accustomed to counting my blessings … good health … good friends … and good fortune!  I don’t have to be in control of everything to be happy, so to speak, and the more I mature along this journey, the less I seek to control anything … or anybody … just myself … that’s plenty.  I am excited to get things going to attend my 40th Reunion of the Class of 1976 at Princeton University.  I got the schedule today, and it looks fantastic!  It’s going to be the first break I will have had in a long while now … I could use some fun and frolic … Why not at my Ole Alma Mater – “Old Nassau” – as Princeton is commonly called amongst the Ivy Leaguers?!?
Well, it is Mother’s Day Weekend … and I want to send a very special shout out to my readers who are mothers!  Happy Mother’s Day.  Now, I also want to mention those dads who have been “playing the mother role” very well in their children’s lives – A special “Hats Off Day” for you guys, too!  I know of one person in particular that I wanted to mention … Larry T. Woody … who does it all!!  Congratulations “LT”!
Now, I always get misty-eyed when this time of year rolls around … Mother’s Day and my mother’s birthday is May 20th …. as well as a good friend of mine’s mother’s birthday, Vee Fusilier.  I always ask him to hug his mom for me on Mother’s Day … something we enjoy sharing!  Yet, I can only say that I have the fondest of memories of my mother … her love, her relentless acceptance of “where I was in my life” when I did something stupid.  Shucks, she and my dad were there when I graduated from St. Paul’s in 1972 … and then they showed up again on the scene when I graduated from Princeton University in 1976!  To this day, I try with all my heart, soul and spirit … to make them proud.  I don’t always succeed … but I always have them in mind!
So, for all those mothers out there … both living and expired … Happiest of Mother’s Day … possible!
John I. Cook, Director

Nothing . . . and No One . . . Is Perfect!

Life's Perfection


It’s Tuesday …

Yes, our world is “on fire” with so many things going on!!  Each of us has to choose what we prefer to focus on … for a moment or two … as there are usually so many things going on in our individual lives that we can barely keep up with them!!  Maybe I should speak for myself, heh?!?
First of all, I want to wish everyone of you a happy May … it’s Mother’s Day Week, they tell me, and my mother’s birthday is on May 20th!  So, this past weekend, I had an incredible time . . . Quite memorable, if I may say so myself!  First off, I had a presentation with Mrs. Nicole Valencia Mercado’s group of teens with the BSO (Broward Sheriff’s Office) Community Justice Program.  The youth have had some brushes with the law during the high school years … some of them are in middle school, too.  So this program is designed to try to curtail the “schoolhouse to jailhouse” pipeline prevalent in so many cities across our nation … hmmppffff … and give the youngsters a chance to “go straight” and stay out of trouble, and actually enjoy their God-given lives.  I enjoy working with them because they have a vested interest in completing the program successfully.  I spoke with them about S.A.V.E. – Students Against Violence Everywhere – as well as the origins of the organization in North Carolina when a student who was trying to break up a fight at an off campus party was killed by his own peers.  I encouraged them to brainstorm during a 15 minute meditation time for projects that they could do at their individual schools.
After the presentation, I hit my Saturday morning flow with Jennifer and it was greatly needed, given my current circumstances … and fantastic!  I was able to deduce that what I should be focusing on right now in my life is “my priorities”.  First of all, I want to attend my 40th Reunion for the Class of 1976 at Princeton University on May 27th, 2016 through the 29th.  I have most “t’s” crossed and “i’s” dotted and am ready to participate in what my be my last reunion for Princeton University!!  Just sayin’!  Some of my former school mates have expired and a few others I stay in touch with … more than I expected to upon graduation in June of 1976.  Yes, I was a bicentennial brother who graduated from an Ivy League University … and am getting ready for another reunion.  The last one I went to was my 25th Reunion.  Me and one of my exes (Simona) had a blast.  This year, I am going solo and looking forward to some fun times with old classmates and enjoy some seriously fine dining, if I remember correctly.  So, I am making sure that I can get there and get back “home” to Florida and begin my early retirement … while working … this summer!  Sounds like a plan?!?  Well, so far … that’s my plan.
This past Saturday, I drove to Port St. Lucie, FL to see my sister Edna who had picked up my daughter – Ayanna Lynne – and her son, my first and only grandson/child, as they had taken a train ride from New York last week.  It was great to see my daughter again and get to meet my grandson – Caleb Isaac!  He is very active, is teething and demands a lot of attention!  He fits right in with the rest of us!!  I had the pleasure of giving my daughter a few teething tips, though Caleb liked one teething ring in particular … with small brush-like projections that he rubbed his gums on intently to alleviate the itching-like sensation caused by teething.  I remember when Ayanna was teething herself!  Fond memories of intense times indeed.
So, we can all be “okay” with not being perfect!  Perhaps the only “thing” I know of that is perfect is Our Creator … since he made a bunch of us and hoped that we could all get along, even with our imperfections.  I continue to write “my positive” thoughts and seek to share my truths and hope … and love!

John I. Cook, Director

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