Don’t Take No Wooden Nickels!

Happy Friday, All!

It’s only customary to give it up for “My Creator” … you can do the same for yours, if you like!  T.G.I.F.!!

Most folks try to improve their lives over time, especially once they realize and accept the fact that some behavior(s) need modification, improvements to be exact.  Yet, unfortunately, I have noticed that some of “us” choose to ignore the obvious when wrong!  What’s the big problem with improving “sketchy”, unacceptable actions?!  Has ones “ego” turned one into an idiot?!?  Don’t let that happen to you.  Between my Dad’s detesting a liar and gossiper, and, my Mom always warning me “not to accept a wooden nickel” (or a phony), I had no choice except to “get wise”.

In my time living in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, which was nearly 22 years, I made various friends from different walks of life.  When I had just gotten back on my feet after serving some time in Broward County Jail, I met a friend named “Tashie”.  She worked at Broward Motor Sports on Sunrise Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale.  My friend Peter Zachary, RIP, had purchased a motorcycle for me for a couple of thousand dollars or more from Broward Motor Sports.  Since “Tashie”, somewhere around her early 20’s at that time perhaps, was the cashier when I bought stuff like oil or spark plugs, replacement flasher lights or a gear cable, we got to “chat” every now and then.  My previous marriage was in bad shape as I tried to stay in touch with my daughter during these challenging times.  Cut to the chase, “Tashie” became that ear that listened to my stories and how I had messed up a few times while living in Ft. Lauderdale which is the ONLY place that I have ever been arrested in my life!!  If you know Florida, you know what I am talking about.  If you are of an ethnic minority … African American, to be exact … you are a very possible “racial profiling” victim.  Poor people want to eat, too, so they may sell drugs, steal, hustle in any way possible … not to DIE like a dog on the street.  In Ft. Lauderdale, most of the “street level” hustlers are “black”.

I was profiled over and over as “the new brother in town” and happened to be a proud brother that would ask questions before turning over my documents like a driver’s license and registration.  No rude questions but simply, “Why are you stopping me, Sir?”.  This could turn a simple traffic stop in to a full blown “resist/obstruct without violence” charge and arrest.  This was protocol in Ft. Lauderdale as well as many other parts of Florida.  “Tashie” became my unofficial adopted daughter, and, I had introduced her  and my biological child, Ayanna Lynne, to each other by social media.  “Tashie” worked hard and landed a job with the Broward Sheriff’s Office and we remained friends.  She would invite me to lunch as I struggled to get my life back together.  I even met some of her ex-boyfriends!  We got to know each other fairly well and I counted on communicating with her in my most challenging moments.  I thank her from the bottom of my heart to the top and back!!  She replied to my last communication and blog when she remembered an incident at Broward MotorSports when I got perturbed at an employee who wanted to “be in charge of me”:

“I remember thinking to myself, why did he get so aggressive? You weren’t trying to make a scene for attention. You weren’t trying to make a scene for free stuff, but I saw a lot of pain and anger in your eyes. I thought about that a lot throughout the years . I’ve concluded that there have been many instances where you’ve been deceived, taken advantage of, discriminated against, given unfair treatment, harassed and lied to throughout your life. NOW I’M NOT CALLING YOU MR. INNOCENT. Like myself we’ve made mistakes, very poor choices, and did things that ultimately  needed consequences. But since I’ve known you, you’ve never stopped giving up on bettering you and never go back to that “dark place” again.  I know many times every 1 step forward would lead to 3 steps back.  I’m proud of you! I’m proud at how far you’ve come. I’m proud of the person you’ve wanted to be and have become. You’ve never given up and have worked hard.  I’m so sorry for all the pain, harassment, and mistreatment you’ve gone through in your life.

You are and will always have a special place in my heart because I see a story of bravery and growth.”

In closing, be sure that you “Know Thyself”.  Don’t forget to “be the best that YOU can be”!  Oh yeah, “Don’t take no wooden nickels, honey!”  -Marietta Dolores


John I. Cook, Director

“Keep It Simple, Stupid!”

Happy Friday again, All!

Aren’t you glad that “we” could make it?!  I try not to take too much for granted so, here’s my usual “T.G.I.F.”!  It’s on you, if you like!

I am always grateful when I seem to “have learned” something, like NOT to let someone push my buttons, so to speak.  I think back to some incidents that would have normally made me “blow a fuse” … but I was cool. Perhaps not necessarily happy in that moment … but I was cool!  I try not to let other people’s behaviour control mine anymore … especially since I don’t have to deal with that now.  If I choose NOT to deal with someone’s nonsense, then it is no longer my problem.  When I was in Alcoholics Anonymous, which I am not ashamed to admit, we had a “motto” called “KISS”.  It is an acronym for “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”  No disrespect!  To get clean, you have to get stupid, learn stuff again without a drink or a drug.  I feel way less prone to want anything to upset my peaceful equilibrium nowadays because I don’t have to run all over the place in a car or public transportation.  I keep my short term goals simple and front and center and I am not sure of what the “long term goals are” except to be as happy as possible doing whatever!!  “Life is beautiful!” … even with the challenges, which when we overcome them are that much sweeter!

Trust me, I mind my business and don’t try to get involved in any body else’s business, even if they want me to do it!!  “No Thanks!”  I have been fortunate enough to “win the favor” of the folks at the “home school” environment called “Centro Educativo” located in Cocles, which is just up the road from Puerto Viejo.  I am doing a session today, probably on the causes of the Civil War as well as some of the important amendments associated with it.  I try to stay positively “busy”, so to speak, even waking up at 6am to have my curcuma, ginger, tapa dulce (sugar cane) and dash o’ pepper home made tea from fresh ingredients including ginger that I grind each morning!  I have time!!  There’s no rush even though I still volunteer each Saturday to teach “Ivon”, a Bri Bri teen who is very interested in improving her English as well as another “private student” who comes by for a class once a week.  That’s enough, you dig?!?

So in case you don’t know the power of “keeping it simple” here’s a brief example of how – “mind your business”!
Have a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

“Enjoy The Journey!!”

Happy Friday, wonderful people!

Perhaps a simple “T.G.I.F.” may suffice or a “thank you” to the Universe!

Life for me, indeed, is a journey, especially right about this time.  I am truly glad that I am “me”.  When I graduated from St. Paul’s, my yearbook quote was:  “Be yourself because “you” are YOU”!  We ALL can use a little bit of “home/self” improvement, so remember that you should “Be the best that YOU can be!”  Another and perhaps my favorite “slogan” associated with Educational Excellence is “Know Thyself”!  These are the three legs of EE.

Those of you who have been familiar with the blog and my non-profit volunteer oriented organization know that I simply try to emphasize the importance of “self education”.  My dad didn’t graduate from high school so he wanted to make sure I did.  I am the last of “Big Ike and Mary’s” four children.  I MUST represent … if only for them … and those who paved the way before.  My mother graduated from high school, had a tremendous aptitude for “formal learning” while “Ike” was a more “hands on” learner, you know … “Learn by doing”.  He was an expert auto mechanic and could fix just about anything that was broken … except a microwave or blender!  He was cool because he didn’t try to “put on” or pretend that he was someone or something other than what he was.  He was “the best that he could be”.  What about Y.O.U.?!?

It is interesting that I have been meeting “people” in Puerto Viejo who are very concerned with living a good life, healthy both physically and spiritually.  Indeed, these are “my kind of people”.  Here and now, I just enjoy doing my work on the third manuscript.  I wrapped up Chapter 5 yesterday and had so much information about that “part” of my early retirement training that it spilled over into a “new” Chapter 6!!  I found a nice spot on the floor in the bedroom/living room to sit on a cushion, look out over the balcony and write!  I am discovering more about my “self healing” and talking with people who also embrace the “power of meditation” in healing oneself.  I have a pretty good routine that I live by and thank God I have enough time to “care for myself”!

I tell my “stories” here about my life in hopes that someone and some of the readers will get a “clue”, and we each are capable of generating “clues”, and figure out a way to get “your talents” out to the thirsty masses.  My days are beautiful here, as is my lifestyle!  I have no complaints and seek only “truth and happiness” … for me and for you!  So, as you enjoy your weekends, also “enjoy the journey”!

Peace and Blessings!

John I. Cook, Director

Moving Right Along . . .

It’s Friday again, y’all!

Can we do that “T.G.I.F.” thing together?!?!  Remember, the option is yours!  So, T.G.I.F. this first day of March!  BOOM!

As one host of a segment on CNN said yesterday, “This has been the worst Black History Month EVER!”  Yep, folks were playing the “race card” with “props” in a United States Congressional hearing regarding more liars than I have seen in a loooong time!  My dad always told me two things:  1.  Don’t be crying racism, boy, ’cause they are doin’ it on purpose! and, 2.  You gotta be twice as good as them, son …”  So, when I am faced with racist comments or discrimination now …  I have a stockpile of “ammunition” in LANGUAGE and KNOWLEDGE that can get the attention of the worst racist so “it” can realize that “it” has a challenge on it’s hands, at least.  And there is more where that came from!

My health has been improving little by little due to the efforts of a variety of people from my yoga teacher and massage therapist to a local “Doctor Ricky” from Ohio who gave me an adjustment a month or so ago in my neck and spinal column which enabled me to stand upright even more!!  I can find myself “falling” in and out of a meditation in a moments notice, sitting by the beach or on the balcony of this “casita” I am now renting with an upstairs bedroom view through the trees right to the beach!  I don’t even have time to worry much about someone calling me a “childish archaic name” because they are envious of “how I roll”, which ain’t gonna change!  I am too busy enjoying the life that my Creator has paved the way.  Those “little” things like a racist or a bully simply are indicative of the FACT that “I have something that they don’t” … and it can’t be purchased.  I like to call it “class”.

After one month living here in this new location, I am feeling “at home”.  Yesterday, the “empleada” came and changed the sheets, swept and mopped the floors, even cleaned the bathroom and the shower.  After thanking her incessantly, I walked down to see “Miss Ana”, my land lady, and told her that I wanted to stay for a while and would be paying my rent today or tomorrow.  She replied, “You can stay as long as you like, Mr. John!”  This is the type of respect and treatment that I believe that I deserve from ANY fellow human being.  Enough said, so, if you can’t do that, please “stay in your lane”.  I appreciate you readers patience with me as I attempt to get more proficient or professional, whatever you want to call it, at these blog formats on social media as I try to pack in enough to get the message across.

Yes, indeedy as my friend “Petey” use to say, “Moving right along!”  Have a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

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