It’s Not Easy Being “The Best”: DAMAGE CONTROL

Happy Friday, All!

What’s going on in YOUR neighborhood?  Is everyone “behavin'”?  Then, T.G.I.F. with me … either way, okay!!?

“Life  is like a box of chocolates … you never know what’s inside each one …”  (paraphrased from Forrest Gump)

One other quick quote comes from a Carlos Santana song:  “I am a product of my times!”  And even though we may not want to agree, they are pretty much true.  We don’t choose who our parent(s) are nor the neighborhood we grow up in.  We don’t have a choice in the color of our skin nor the church our parent(s) goes to.  Yet. we don’t HAVE to accept things … “hook, line and sinker”!  We can do some “independent research” because one thing we know, everyone is NOT the same while we do share many specific human characteristics.

I have always wanted to be “good at what I do” … be it the dishes or the design of my sideburns and mustache!  If I dress for work, I want to look “the part” of a teacher or a coach … maybe even a motivational speaker!  One thing about a small town like Puerto Viejo where I am currently residing is that everybody knows everybody else’s business … or at least they THINK that they do.  And if they don’t, a mofo will “make it up” in a heart beat …. just like folks do EVERYWHERE!  So, from time to time, one may need to do “damage control”.  I am usually a “loner” by design because I don’t do (refuse to do …) “hum drum drama”!  “He said, she said …” conversations have a very small place in my life.  I have always been “fact driven” because that’s the way “Big Ike” – my Dad – was!  Get the facts straight … or talk to “the hand”!  Of course, I don’t take issue with all the small stuff.  But when it gets to the big stuff … like who someone “thinks” I am and they don’t have the facts straight,  I have very little time for that type of person.  Most people call them “gossipers”.  Now you know like I know that in a small town, “gossip” reigns supreme.  People compete with the “better story” about what happened to “so and so”.  Freakin’ get a life!  Learn about “oneself” and what may make one want to indulge in gossip … or what may make one NOT want to indulge in “gossip” and seek a “higher calling”!  In short, “Know Thyself”!

One has to be careful in choosing a “friend” in a small town to which one has just arrived.  THIS is the main reason that I remain a “loner” pretty much.  I don’t “need” to see or talk to anyone each day or each event of my day because “I” make my own decisions about my life.  I have been doing it for over 50 years now.  So, if I haven’t consulted “you” in the past, I probably won’t need to “consult” you in the future!  Since I “don’t do gossip”, I don’t usually hear what “the word on the corner” is about me – John Isaac Cook.  Not that I give a flying horses tail but when I have to do “damage control” from the incorrect information of the “he said, she said”-ers, it helps to have some idea of what they might be putting out there.  Still, all in all, I just walk “a straight line” and work hard NOT to deviate from the reasons I came here!  If a person REALLY knows me, they will know those few reasons and will keep all that other “malarky” away from any conversation with me.  “Thank You!”

So, I get in my morning meditations as I consume a cup of curcuma/ginger/black pepper tea on the balcony at 6am.  My regular friends know the routine and I often see my “neighbors” Stu, Zoee and their daughter Amira in the morning as she catches her school bus.  Other than paying my rent every month (no, I can’t afford to buy property and worry each day about that, too!), pay my electric bill each month and keep some food in the fridge and water in a bottle, all that I have to worry about is pretty much taken care of.  Trust me, I didn’t come here (or anywhere else for that matter) to worry about what “someone else thinks of me”!  I know myself and I try to be the best “me” that I can be.  Trust me, it shows, too!  I am a true representative of what “Mary and Big Ike” wanted in their “baby boy”!  Don’t let gossipers change “who” you are nor consume too much of your precious time!

Enjoy your Friday and your weekends!


John I. Cook, Director

Show Some Love – Semana Santa 2019

Happy Friday, All!

I am going to give praises to “The Creator”, if you don’t mind!  T.G.I.F.!

Easter has been a celebration associated with “Christ rising from the dead” since I can remember.  How true the story is, I don’t know, because I wasn’t there.  It’s ironic to me that even during a “holy day” like this, people are “bashing” Jesus and Christianity.  I mean, put the “bashing” equipment away for a minute and give thanks that ones “sorry arse” is still alive to even think about bashing anyone or anything.  Now don’t get me wrong, “one can believe what one wants”.  But try to replace what “one” bashes with something more suitable to “one”, don’t just bash stuff …. any old animal can do that!!  “Keep it classy”!

This “Semana Santa”, I am spending with two house guests who are from Germany and Austria.  I signed up with “” just before the holy day week here in Costa Rica to “test the waters”, so to speak.  When I traveled across Western Europe last year, I stayed first in an AirBnB in Barcelona and then utilized for the rest of my journey there.  So, I thought I would check it out.  The two guests are friends and one is traveling to Bogota, Colombia and the other back to Vienna where her husband is still working.  I think Svenja said that he is from Togo, actually.  The young lady from Hamburg, Vera, is planning to go on to Bogota after this weekend.  They are very nice, purchase their own food and share with me as I don’t “charge” them “rent”, which is congruent with the concept of “couch surfing”.  I will remain here in Puerto Viejo and enjoy the “Pura Vida”!

A person, in my opinion, should develop a “gratitude” practice each day, or in my case it is several times a day.  I mean, I like to remind folks that “you didn’t create” YOURSELF … so get humble a few times a day and give thanks for having “a life” to contemplate and enjoy!  Whatever that “power” greater than ourselves is deserves some respect, unlike those of us who think that we were “borne” of our own volition.  How silly of us “egotistical” maniacs, heh?!?  If “we” or “you” are so powerful and creative, why don’t “we” or “you” figure out what is wrong with humanity … and correct it!!??  Tough job …. and nobody, not even “scrump” and his cronies seem to be able to do anything except point fingers and call names.  How hideous are some “leaders”!!  How even MORE hideous are some of “us” who follow those “leaders”.  “The Creator has a master plan.”  I am pretty sure that most of us “don’t” have a plan … just to follow the “lost leaders” some of us elected.

Whatever “you” do this “holy day” season, give it up for “a power greater than ourselves” … at least.

Enjoy your celebration of life, peace and love!


John I. Cook, Director

Try To Keep It REAL!

Happy Friday, Y’all!

Don’t take this stuff for granted, now!!  Give it up for a “power greater than ourselves” … T.G.I.F.!!

Well, “right off the bat”, I want to wish my only adult child, Ayanna Lynne, a happy birthday!  I was there when “you” were born, and I still try to stay in touch now that “you’re” all grown up!  I hope that counts for something!  Either way, Happy Birthday, “Squeezy”!

Yeah, life goes in “leaps and bounds” sometimes.  Other times, it takes “baby steps”!  To “stay in step”, we need to mark time when things go awry.  We can’t lose that passion for life, whatever it may be for you.  But do have one … or more!  It’ll keep you busy enjoying life.  Shucks, you might even make someone else happy if you’re doing it right!!  I suspect that some readers may think that I am a little too strict or “firm” with things.  It may be too much sometimes.  Yet, I am as strict on myself.  For example, I have learned NOT to say things that may offend or upset someone.  I don’t want that to happen to me, so, why do it to someone else.  Haven’t some folks heard at least of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It’s not rocket science.  This is just one way that I try to keep it real.  It makes life a lot smoother for me.  We all have horrible thoughts from time to time.  Yet, we ALL must learn to analyze those thoughts BEFORE acting on them.

I am sure by now that readers have noticed that I tell “you” straight out what I am thinking, or what I have been through and may have done, even.  You see, I know that if people want to find out more about me, they can.  By the way, it beats the hell out of giving some jealous, envious, heartless, low self esteem “mofo” the opportunity to put a fallacious spin on MY life!  Spin your own stories about YOUR life … Please, stay out of mine.  I am just trying to keep it real.

Next week is what is called “Semana Santa” in the “Latin American” countries here.  It’s a wonderful time for friends and families to get together and remember the “saints” of their religion.  When I lived in Cali, Colombia, South America, my mother came to visit me for a week which was “Semana Santa”!  We had a fantastic time together.  Shucks, I even took her from Cali into the mountains where I liked to ride horses in Popayan, Colombia.  She was impressed by the number of people in the streets of Cali who stood side by side, lighting each others candles along BOTH sides of the street while a religious procession meandered through the streets with giant statues of the “saints”!  Here, in Puerto, everyone just hangs out at the beach, dances all night and cook out along the shore line for an entire week.

So, whatever you do, try to keep it real!


John I. Cook, Director

Back to the “Blog” Again!

Happy Friday, Y’all!  ALL Y’all!  T.G.I.F then.

Feeling some kind of wonderful!  While I’ve always enjoyed a bit of traveling in my life, as I have matured physically it is necessary for me NOT to travel so much.  With “crickety crackity” hips and knees and all, it takes a bit for me.  Yet, this last trip to Ft. Lauderdale to pick up my mail for EE and me, to investigate tax filing and to get a new cellphone was quite cool for me … successful, to be exact!  You know when you hit a city like Ft. Lauderdale the last days of “Spring Break – 2019” and hang out with “The Crew” at Capone’s Night Club, things are bound to get “turned up”, as they say for a bit drunk nowadays!  Me … I am still a “tea totaler” I think the British call it … and I don’t drink to get drunk, just to be sociable … and I know WHEN to stop!!  So, I was cool at the Clubs downtown for both Friday and Saturday night.  I relaxed all day Sunday, watching NBA and March Madness Basketball during which Auburn of Alabama won and is going to the “Final Four” teams for the first time in their school’s history!!  My friend whom I stay with when I travel to the FTL now, Johnny Ace, said his Dad graduated from Auburn University!  Nice little surprise for him as I watched from his couch in Tamarac and he and his Lady, “Candy” watched from the infamous “Elbow Room” on “The Strip” in Ft. Lauderdale.

On Monday, I woke up bright and early and left out of Johnny’s apartment with him as he drove to work and dropped me off at a nearby local bus stop.  It was so kind of him and I bought a full day pass and began my mini-journey to the Main Post Office downtown where I have had a mail box for over ten years.  The good thing about this is that the people there “know” me personally from my early days as an “aspiring writer” who sent and received “bulk” mail from the self publishing “house” that I use called “iUniverse”, as well as sent books to my early clients.  They had my mail placed in one of those “white plastic USPS” containers and I spent nearly an hour going through it one by one, looking for tax documents and the like.  I didn’t see any so I decided that this was the year that I will NOT file taxes since my income is strictly pension monies from New York State United Teachers and Social Security.  There were NO TAX DOCUMENTS in the mail for me that specified how much was taken out etcetera.  So, I mounted up the bus again, went to Publix Supermarket and asked them to prepare a “turkey breast and Swiss cheese sub” for my lunch with a raspberry flavored tea and a bag of chips on the side!  I sat inside and chowed down before checking around for a few other items that Publix carries that I can’t get here in Puerto Viejo stores!

The next day was even more fun as I took my chances walking from Johnny’s place to the “Super Walmart” located just across one of Ft. Lauderdale’s “main busy streets” – McNab Road – and picked up a few pair of boxer shorts, some socks, a few t-shirts … one for me and one for my “star Bri Bri” English student “Ivon” … and a new pair of sneakers!!!  That’s what I said … SNEAKERS!!  I got some foodstuffs for lunch, a few beverages and my favorite ice pop treat from “Outshine”, a box of Acai Berry fruit pops!  Shucks, I even got a new pair of sunglasses as I forgot the pair I bought  here in CR on the airport “kiosk” at Customs in Ft. Lauderdale.  Now … I was ready!  I actually woke up Tuesday with no place to go and relaxed on the couch packing my one bag that I also purchased at Super Walmart, having lunch and just resting up for the next day’s long trip by plane and bus back “home” to  “La Casita Azul” in Puerto Viejo.  The trip was a success and I was extremely grateful for all the help my friends provided, especially Johnny Ace and Candy, and Joel Valencia who picked me up at the airport, took me to the bank, then to Metro PCS to check on cell phone service plans, then to “Best Buy” where they sell lowered priced “off mark” brands.  I got a “BLU” phone (Bold Like Us!) and returned to Metro PCS to get a chip and purchase a new monthly plan for the cell phone.

All in all, I felt great the entire time, especially once I started to take the 14 day treatment for my acid reflux, “Prilosec”.  My appetite increased a little more as I felt much less discomfort in my belly as I ate everything that I could that I wouldn’t see for a few months or until perhaps on my next trip to “the States”.  Last night was my first full night back in this Caribbean “casita” near downtown Puerto, and I rested like a champ.  My plan is to head to yoga at 9am as my body may need some stretching.  In the meantime, I will be back to working on the manuscript dedicated to my mother, and healing my maturing body and my spirit … and The Blog!

Thanks for reading!  Have a wonderful weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

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