Make Yourself Proud!


It’s Hump Day …  another opportunity to “fly”!

As for me, I’ll take the “high road”.  This world is full of “counterfeit” and “two(or more!)-faced people”.  In some places … it is kind of the norm.  You know that whatever you’re getting is NOT quality.  At most, it’s a “show”.  And some people don’t get tired of playing that same old “part” and try to blame everyone else for their challenges.

My trip back to Florida last week was quite interesting.  I got a chance to pick up my mail for three months at the post office box in Ft. Lauderdale.  My unofficial “adopted daughter” whom I’ve always called “Tashi” helped me out getting some information and materials for my background check.  It was almost perfect timing for me to visit different places in Ft. Lauderdale and I even had time to go to the Social Security Administration office in Coconut Creek … and spend the day.  I witnessed the youth from the local high schools in their support of the students at Marjorie Langman Stoneham High School where a lone crazed ex-student shooter took the lives of 14 students and 3 teachers  …  peace be still …  On my way to the SSA my first time, since I used to work near there, there were students walking peacefully around the shopping center and on the sidewalks of Coconut Creek Parkway holding signs stating “No More Guns” or “We Support MLS”.  The police from Coconut Creek were on both sides of the road, directing traffic and allowing (and protecting the kids) to demonstrate peacefully.  There were no incidents that I witnessed from the protesters.   For me, being an educator for life, it was hard to see students who were genuinely afraid to go to school, as if they don’t have enough challenges in their young lives.  Part of my allure as an educator was (is) to make the classroom environment attractive enough that the students wanted to come and participate.  Sometimes, we would even “act out” a scene from “history” to bring it alive … right into the classroom!

I got to a few stores and picked up some needed supplies from Q-tips to Neosporine Cream … and a packet of my trusty Prilosec tablets for stomach acid reduction.  I picked up some flip flops from Walmart and a bathing suit for Spring here in Puerto Viejo.  One of my friends who also takes English class with me from time to time had a lovely tank top shirt with two “geckos” on it finely decorated in hues of blue that I picked up here once I returned and had unpacked.  Later today, I will go to the beach again as I did yesterday, and sport my new gear!  At this stage of life, as I had always tried before, I enjoy simplicity.  Some folks like to complicate the simplest of things and make some big frigging drama from nothing … and then blame someone ELSE for their state of affairs.  It is more difficult to handle  those types the closer one may be with them in a relationship of ANY sort.  So be it.  Keep it moving!

At one point on my return flight, I felt an aura of love emanating from the clouds as we passed by … it felt like the love from my mother, Marietta.  It assured me that I am doing the right thing and handling myself in a way that would make her proud.  I am seeking the legal way to retire because I am too “mature” to be running somewhere.  I also thought of “Big Ike” a few times … the patient “gentle giant” that he had learned to be … who seldom shared compliments with anyone other than my mother, his wife.  The two of them were there in pinnacle moments of my life as I matured through experiences on my journeys through both St. Paul’s School and Princeton University.  Isaac Henry Cook was the kind of dad who would not say that he was proud of me but would suggest that I “make my damn self proud”!  What thinketh you?!?


John I. Cook, Director

Make The Most of It!

… it may be your last …


It’s Friday again, Folks!

So, a shout out to my Creator today!  Thank you for another one!  T.G.I.F.!

Okay, so … just when you think that you have things all lined up ….. BAM! POW!  No! Not Batman … but a mistake!  Like in Wednesday’s e-mail where I mentioned the name of my boarding school coach as William M. Blake …. eh hemm … that should have been Maurice “Bud” Blake!  Plus “Maurice” sounds cooler as a first name anyway!  He wrote me back and said that I had mixed up his name with his grandfather’s brother’s name.  At least I kept it in the family!

So, while you doing this thing called “life”, and what a premium, ehh!?, be sure to make the most of it!  Life is never “easy” for too long anyway.  There is always a big surprise just around the corner!  After waking up this morning, I caught myself singing a few of my favorite childhood morning tv show tunes … “What’s around the corner? What’s around the bend?”  Cute little jingle!  Well, that is how relaxed I am today … here in Puerto Viejo.  I travel in two days and will be in Florida … up and down the East coast from Daytona to the FTL!  Speaking of the FTL …. what a gruesome horror story erupted there on Valentine’s Day at a high school in a well-to-do area just outside of the FTL called “Parkland”.  A student who no longer attended school there came back to pay a visit on Valentine’s Day … and all hell broke loose!  No love … just bullets flying hitting and killing 18 innocent people in a barrage of anger.  Some people say, and I agree, “If you see something, say something!” …. but you might want to have a gun yourself because once you tell, you too will become a wanted person.  I would still tell, if it were left up to me, and try to save people’s lives … which is not what the gun lobbyist and supporters want.  Their primary goal is to allow for the instillation of fear into the lives of “Americans” so that everyone will go out and buy a semi-automatic assault rifle and kill each other … while “they” sing all the way to the bank!!  Who is “they”?  Anyone from the lobbyist who receive payoffs and kickbacks from the manufacturers, the owners of the gun factories and probably their employees until one of them gets killed … oh yes … and the multiplicity of politicians on ALL levels who have investments in the gun manufacturing companies.

Yes, many things are out of our control … thank goodness … but there are others which we can control … our own behavior and actions.  We can hopefully still control how we respond to things  and choose the best option.  Sure you have to take a minute and THINK … in order to come up with the best response … if any.  Many folks in the US have become “numbed” to the shootings at schools, shootings of African Americans in the streets who are UNARMED … often times running from the police and NOT posing any “threat or danger to their lives” … and others of “us” African Americans who cooperate but refuse to be disrespected by someone who is supposed to “protect and serve” US effin too! (“Effin” is not a typo!)  I get sick of the excuses that people make for such tragedies in the USA …  I personally can’t take it … I don’t want to hear: “If you see something, say something!” when somehow all of these guns are getting into the hands of unstable people and nobody is saying anything about who put the freaking guns at their “disposal” in the FIRST place!  Get the people who are the cause and the source of the prevalence of weapons and lock them up!!

Whatever you decide to do, choose wisely.  I am OUT!


John I. Cook, Director

“Take Five”! (Time Out!)

It’s Hump Day again, y’all!

How are you holding up?!  Don’t forget … when you need to, “Just Take 5”!  Whenever!! Just Do It!

First of all, I wanted to thank Mr. William M. Blake, aka “Coach Blake”, for replying to my last piece.  Now, no … you don’t have to reply … I am just saying that he did … and I appreciated it … it was needed!  Coach and I met when I was a sophomore at St. Paul’s School … I wasn’t sure why my parents insisted on me going to a boarding school in New Hampshire … but this was the first “real” person I met.  That is not to say that the other people weren’t real, it was that the contact that I had with them was momentary … not sustained as it would become for me, a “new boy”, at an all boys’ private Episcopalian boarding school playing jv football for Coach Blake!  He was like my dad away from home … and his reply to my e-mail was like one that a dad would reply to his son … (RIP, Big Ike!).

He said that he understood what I was doing … and as a World War II Veteran who served alongside the “Red Tails” of the Tuskegee Airmen, he had never “met” a finer group of professional African American men!  I still have the booklet that he sent to me commemorating the “Red Tails” of the US Air Force during World War II!  He, too, wishes that America would live up to its credo of ” … liberty and justice for all!”  The thing that was beautiful about Coach Blake is that he, too, grew alongside of us … the new minority students at this exclusive boarding school.  I will never forget (though I didn’t completely understand at the time …) when we were at basketball practice one night … and we, the players, were all over the place!  So, Coach yelled out, “Hey! You guys stop for a minute … you’re running around like a bunch of wild Indians!”  Kevin “Billy” Gover and Gary George, both native Americans from out West, looked at each other … perhaps first … then around the gym … but nobody said anything.  I knew Coach wasn’t prejudiced and was just saying what he had heard said probably most of his life.  He fought for our freedoms long before we had a chance to meet him.  Thanks, Coach Blake!

So, here in Puerto Viejo, I am “riding slow”, as the saying goes!  No, I haven’t gotten a bicycle yet … but it’s in my plans when I return after a week from Sunday and am able to complete my application for retirement residency here in Costa Rica.  It’s a slow moving place with a slow moving pace … though you can speed up if you want to … there is not a problem if you slow down.  “Pura Vida” no stress life style …. “smile your face off” atmosphere around here … everyday … rain or shine … the “boys and girls” are out surfing the shores of “Playa Negra”, “Punta Uva” …. even at Cocles up the road a bit more towards Playa Chiquita!  I fit in well …  the young boys (25+) respectfully call me “Daddy” while the older folks call me “Papa”!  Nobody rushes me and I am becoming well known at the local establishments like super markets and a few restaurants that I go to when I can eat out.  I walk with my hand-made “baston” that I got in Valencia down to the water to Puerta Pirata where many of the “ex-Pats” meet up including Barry and Nancy, Marsha, Cleo and me … and a few regular Canadians who come here 6 months out of the year.  In fact, Nancy and Barry are throwing a little “Valentine’s Day” get-together for the “ex-Pats” and friends at a local gathering spot called “The Point” later tonight around 6 or so …

I have been studying up on the parts of the hip and the multiplicity of networks there … I am sure that my motorcycle accident years ago added to the trauma that I am now experiencing.  While I have resigned myself to embracing that there is no “quick fix” for this type of thing, and … that there is no emotional trauma in my psyche causing a blockage which is “manifested” by pain in my hips!!!  I have been told that before ….  Thanks for sharing, but I know “me” better than “you” do.  Yet, I accept all forms of help and suggestion as I employ my own “gestaldt”-style healing which inculcates all that I have learned …. and continue to learn.  Yesterday, I was reading up on all of the different textures of cartilage in the hip – both soft and hard – as well as the bones including the femur around which the cartilage and muscles are wrapped to provide a 360 degree range of movement in the human hips!  I don’t think that acupuncture nor teas nor anti-inflammatories of a natural type (ginger/kale/tumeric) will “heal” my traumatized hip bones and joints!  When I am massaging myself, I can feel places deep in the interior of the complex array of muscles, tendons and cartilage that are wrapped with tissue where the trauma and sensitiveness is located.  It will probably require a hip replacement …. when I can afford it …. but I will labor on taking care of myself in the mean time.  I will take a “Take Five” from all of hub bub and concern and simply love myself …. the deepest spiritual and happiest part of me that wakes up each morning in a natural paradise that can heal a broken spirit …. itself!

Happy Valentines Day!

Love … and Peace,

John I. Cook, Director


Take It Easy (The Times Are A Changin’)


Happy Friday, All!

Is it me or are these times changing?!?  I wanted to thank Roz Reich from the Hollywood, FL Brahma Kumaris who sent me the lyrics to the new compilation of Bob Dylan tunes, “The Times, They Are A Changing”.  It is right on point in describing what he feels is taking place in the USA now.  In many ways, my life has come full circle, as I recall the times growing up during President John F. Kennedy’s time and the Civil Rights Movement.  My mother, “Mary” as she was called by most who knew her well, was involved in getting people who lived in the Projects to register and get out to vote.  In many ways, she was her own little grass roots movement though there were a few other community conscious people around in White Plains and Westchester County in general like Mr. Al Hampton, Mr. Hurvey Bradshaw and another woman from The Projects, Mrs. Elsie Harry.  There were many women involved in the communities in White Plains including Lake Street, Ferris Avenue, Schuyler DeKalb and what we used to call “The Valley”, a residential area where many African American, Latino and poorer white families lived!  There were “housing developments” in these parts of White Plains for the “service oriented” population that kept this “model city” growing!  It seems that in places like White Plains, “the people” have learned to live together … and are still doing a pretty decent job!

There are many communities, including Hollywood, FL, where the political leadership are actually “taking the lead” and doing what “the people” want and need in their lives rather than focusing on the corporate interests needs or big business.  Doesn’t the Constitution of the USA start with, “We, the people …” and these current “money suckers” in office have forgotten “the darn people”!  I always sought to drill into my students heads in my American History (US History) classes that “America was started as a business” … several “joint stock companies” in particular … and that the earliest “settlers” were hard core pioneers who had to fight for everything they had.  I won’t get into the earliest relationships between native or indigenous people ALREADY here, the slaves that were brought here against their will and the early settlers.  But note, this “USA” thing has always been a business … now more so than ever!  It is now that “we, the people” must take charge of the destiny of this land as it should never have been viewed as simply a “company” with money as the motive … not people’s rights and lives!

Okay, so it’s the weekend pretty much y’all!  Time to take it easy, if you can!


John I. Cook, Director

“Love The Life You Live!”

It’s Hump Day again …

“We’ve gotta get ova da hump!”  In my life time, there have been many heroes for me … people who stood up in the face of controversy and dared to take a stand against the incorrect.  Historically, “the best” people die or get killed off for taking such a stand!  Since being in Puerto Viejo where the saying is “pura vida”, I have found another expression from a more quiet leader of “the people” – Bob Marley, RIP.  The expression is the title of this piece .. and rings “home” for me, so to speak, as it is something that I have always tried to do … love the life I live, live the life I love!  How hard is that, when “we” live in a system whose goals are different from our, perhaps, personal goals – to have a long and healthy (happy, even!) life!?  It can be challenging to say the least.

From time to time, I must reevaluate what I am doing … or being … as people come at me “sideways” as if I don’t see them!  Now one thing I do is try to be a “peacekeeper” … It’s a natural thing for me … that peace vibe to settle down all the nonsense!  Every now and then, a person may “come at me” and actually try to “put me down” … usually in their own way.  I have adopted a new approach to such haters.  If it is someone I “know” and we have been friends in the past, I try to give an educational hint at how “Homey don’t play that!”  I simply delete the post from my timeline or stop communicating with them.  I don’t have time to argue with so-called “grown ups” who can figure stuff out like I do,especially if they are trying to offend me.  I just try to avoid the unnecessary drama in my life because it is exactly that … “MY LIFE”!  If someone wants drama, discord and “Tom Foolery” in “their” life, so be it!  I don’t … simple as that!

I have found a deeper understanding of this expression, “love the life you live, live the life you love”.  Each day, I do things that I truly enjoy.  Things like sitting at the water’s edge playing in the sand with my toes, listening to the waves and the birds.  When it is hot enough, I walk in waist deep and take that plunge into the water!  I take slow long walks around the beach front of the town of Puerto Viejo and points North of here heading toward what is called “Playa Chiquita” where I go for acupuncture treatments.  I don’t argue with anyone … I don’t look to “one up” anyone.  I am only looking for a peaceful vibe to share with … small talk of family and friends, the latest trends in holistic alternative health techniques … nothing competitive.  I had met some young folks who have come here from places like Australia or Canada … I met a young lady from Norway yesterday … seeking alternative health treatments that they often find at a place called “Beta Life”.  This is where “Ian” lives, the local “Shamin” who performs the “ayahuasca” ceremonies and treats interested participants with “frog venom” and/or “snake venom” to provide a deeper detoxification … according to them!  Well, Ian and I got to talking about my hips and he suggested a tea for me – bobinsana.  It actually grows wild in Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, I believe, but they have found a “sister” plant here in Puerto.  So, he put together a batch for me and I have been drinking it for two or three days now.  As with the acupuncture treatments, I feel “something” different.  I can’t run or jump as I used to but one or two nights ago, I broke into a mini jog on the way to the rest room so I wouldn’t wet my night clothes!!!  Maturing at this age can be a challenge.  I will keep you posted …

Next weekend, I will swing through “stateside” for a moment and organize a few things to apply for my retirement visa here.  All I want to do at this stage of the journey is “love the life I live and live the life I love!”  Pura vida!


John I. Cook, Director


Be The Change . . .

Happy Friday, All!

Well, if it were left up to me … I would simply say, “T.G.I.F.”!  So be it!

First of all, I want to apologize for an error in my last message when I mentioned the folks … Barry and Nancy Stevens who run “El Puente-The Bridge”, erroneously … I mentioned the “other” Nancy who volunteers for Barry and Nancy Stevens and lives in the mid-northwest … Minnesota methinks …   There is no “other Nancy” … I had a momentary lapse of memory … her name is actually “Marsha”!  So sorry!

I traveled to San Jose two days ago to firm up the information I need to procure a retirement visa here in Costa Rica and met a lovely gentleman on the bus from Puerto Viejo oh say at 5am in the morning … rain and all!  His name is “Jimmy” Ward who runs “Cape Oysters” in Cape Cod.  I chatted with “Jimmy” after finding a seat next to him since my legs don’t fit anywhere on these buses except standing up!  There was a young lady from Amsterdam sitting alone in a 2-seat section so changing from my seat to stand and then sit again, I wound up meeting “Jimmy”.  He and his wife may be looking to retire outside of the US in the coming year or so.  I asked him if we could exchange information, we did and he will receive this e-mail as well.  Thanks “Jimmy”!

One other person I met on her last night in Puerto Viejo who is also living in Florida is named Michele Kohan.  I met her at Barry and Nancy’s when they had decided to throw an impromptu “bon voyage” party for Michele.  I was lucky enough to be invited and to meet Michele, who came to do some volunteer work for Nancy and Barry for a couple of weeks as she is no stranger to “El Puente-The Bridge” nor to Puerto Viejo.  Thanks for sharing your information with me, too, Michele.

It is “Black History Month” and there are so many “takes”, comments and criticisms of a very simple concept that attempts to include a very disenfranchised segment of the society of the USA – the African American – in “their” history! I will not take any time to explain how or why African Americans were systematically and intentionally disenfranchised in America to further aid in the conquest of the “population” here using the age old “divide and conquer” strategy employed by many so-called national leaders.  So, cutting to the chase, I want to mention to all of the readers here and on the blog of Educational Excellence that we here at EE are seeking to encourage you to “educate yourself”!  It is a life-long task and requires a sincere desire to “know the truth” about our Earth, “humanity” and perhaps “our” place in the “universe”!  I know, I know … it is a tall order … especially for some minds.  “Black History Month”, for example, began after a strong push from organizations like the NAACP to attempt to include the contributions of African Americans to this country and to the world.  However, after traveling the world a little more and seeing and speaking with people from other countries, some of the things that happen in America don’t seem so great anymore … The killing of innocent children who are of African American descent BECAUSE they are African American … and with a current leadership that talks “bad” about EVERY nation … maybe except for one … America is slowly loosing its grip on the title of “world leader”.

In closing, please … please … PLEASE … be the change that you want to see … in the “WORLD”!  I love you guys, fellow Earthlings!


John I. Cook, Director


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