What in the WORD?!?

Happy Friday, y’all … I’m just wondering about Kabul, Afghanistan … scary stuff!!  I am grateful to be HERE this Friday … So, TGIF if we might.

In case you’re wondering about the title, no … I didn’t misspell “world”.  I meant to write “word”!  It’s very important how we use words to describe ourselves and our environs.  I think back to a course that I facilitated at a community college in Ft. Lauderdale called personal development.  The goal of the course was to help students learn how to set life goals as well as the plans to achieve those goals.  One part of the course focused on concepts like visualization and affirmations.  My job was to demonstrate with the input of the students how the words we use shape our perceptions of the world we live in as well as the perceptions of ourselves.  So, even I learned the importance of selecting words to describe things, events, or feelings that we may have that literally lift us up.  There is power in the words we choose to use.

As I listened to the current leader of the USA speak yesterday while he described the core problem of nation-building in Afghanistan, my thoughts came together.  He described the problem as a “long history of tribes” inhabiting a common land and have NEVER gotten along!  There must be something in the words that are used to keep humans fighting each other for centuries!  As he spoke, he highlighted examples of “nations” like Germany or France that had the core ingredient of nation-building in their history:  they shared a common language and wanted to “get along” while protecting their inhabitants.

There was a business commercial I saw that highlighted the words of the CEO of Whole Foods.  He said that our language today is purely adversarial, that we use words that dictate a conflict, often fatal, amongst humans.  We use words to incite violence, separation, and hostilities rather than words that also focus on helping and including ALL people and solutions to save our world!  His point was that while “business” involves competition, we should never forget that business dealings MUST be based on integrity and foster the health and continuation of human civilization … or NOT!!  Choose wisely!  Choose the words you use wisely, too!

So keep in mind as we communicate with each other daily that the words we use affect our interactions and ultimately humanity.  Are we humans really as smart as we claim to be?!  As I look at that hell-like drama unfolding near Kabul and Afghanistan, my heart aches for the children … as well as the females …   Unfortunately, I saw remnants of what occurred at the US Capitol on January 6th, 2021.  Peace be still …

Have a great weekend!  Share and spread “the love” worldwide.


John I. Cook, Director

The Bottom Line Is . . .

It’s another fine Friday if you’re marking time!  I’ve got a “TGIF”, I’d like to share!  So T.G.I.F. then, Y’all.  Keep ’em comin’ ’cause we got this!!

So, in retrospect, I’d like to mention my boarding school basketball coach, Maurice “Bud” Blake, who had his 97th birthday on August 6th.  This Guy has a history of his own.  He has shared stories and episodes of “The Red Tails”, the famous all black air squadron of World War II.  According to his accounts, as well as those accounts that I’ve read, the US Military benefited tremendously from the efforts of this air squadron whom many historians suggest changed the tide of World War II.  He’s still quite a grand guy at 97!!  Blessings, Sir!

My message from last week was inaccurate in regards to the name of the Covid 19 test needed to leave Costa Rican airports.  It is the antigen test.  One of my college classmates, “Doc” Kevin Hepler, broke it down for me in a personal e-mail.  Thanks “Doc”!  And so you readers know, you can reply to the blog post by going to: http://www.excelwitheducationalexcellence.wordpress.com. Feel free to reply by e-mail or on the blog of Educational Excellence.

Now, it’s time for a plug on the third cookbook, “Cookin’ With Life!”.  It is truly an adventure in self-publishing.  While I didn’t master the software for spacing between chapters, I was able to pull off a novice effort!  It even looks good in paperback considering the other small concerns!  Here is a huge thank you to those who purchased copies both in e-book and paperback.  Remember, it’s the message that I’m promoting more so than myself!!  You may come in to contact with someone like the main character! It’s worth the read.

Cooking With Life!: Cookbook III


The bottom line is that I care about humanity, my family and yours, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there!!  Spreading love and connecting the dots is my mission!  What’s yours?!?


John I. Cook, Director

In Retrospect … Decompress

Happy Friday again, Y’all!  And as if we know the drill, let’s do a “TGIF” together!!  Done deal!

So, it’s a bit more than a week since I’ve been back here looking at the experiences I had over the past month.  Traveling is a lot more complicated, especially if you are traveling internationally.  There is the requirement to leave Costa Rica which is to successfully pass a Covid19 exam.  Another option is to produce the results of an antigen exam … or something like that.  I not only got two Pfizer vaccinations before leaving Puerto Viejo to travel to Ft. Lauderdale, but I got one in Broward County at a CVS Pharmacy.  It was made by Moderna.  It’s quite a quagmire when you see people who will eat anything … I mean ANYTHING like a chicken mcnugget … and not question its content.  But when you are given the option to take a vaccination that may reduce the level of illness even avoid death, you suddenly become “holier than thou” with the “this is my body” routine or the “I have the right to …”! battle cry!  “Selective Ignorance” strikes again!!

Well at this stage of my life, I don’t listen to “ignoramuses” let alone the folks who just look for something to disagree with me about.  It seems that they may feel stronger, though appearing stupider while fending off science and statistics!  Ask Gov. Ron DeSantis … he plays that “selective ignorance” role well!  I wanted to see my little extended family in Connecticut and I did!!  It was worth it and I still feel great!!  We made memories together – Ayanna, Caleb, and me … and we even shared a few tears together … Peace be still!  Isaac and Mary were “there” with us in spirit as we sat near their graves and cleaned them off a bit!  Shucks, my memory was jogged when I laid eyes upon the head plate of my grandmother, Mattie Cook.  My Dad had moved her from the sticks in North Florida to a rooming house right across the street from #135 South Lexington Ave. apartment 5A in White Plains, NY!  It was then when I realized where I got this “love for my mother” thing!!  I got it from my Dad – Isaac Henry Cook!!  I mean, who moves their Mother from Florida to New York so “he can keep an eye on her”?!

Well through the years and the tears, I got my chance to pass on the heritage of my purported “half breed” grandmother (I never met Grandpa Robert Cook); my Mother and Father (Mary and Ike); as well as a chance for a “shout out” to my oldest sister, Barbara Ann (RIP).  So, now these guys have been passed on this branch of the Family Tree!  “We Are One” human Family!!


John I. Cook

“Great Times!”

Good Day, All!

And yes indeed, it’s Friday again.  It’s time for a gratitude check!  Keep it simple … sweethearts!  A genuine “TGIF” will suffice!  Okay, thank you kindly!

Have you experienced that joy you get back when you give (or do) things unconditionally?  Maybe the outcome wasn’t what you expected but you gave it your best effort anyway?  Things … good things … even great times roll in kind of unexpectedly if you’re doing the gratitude thing right!

So, when I got to Ft. Lauderdale on July 12th, I had a particular itinerary thought out.  I had asked a few friends, starting with a long-time “brother” from another mother, if it would be possible to meet up … rendezvous even … and sleep on his couch like old times.  I was hoping to see my daughter and her son on this trip to the States.  I hadn’t visited my mailbox for me and EE located in Ft. Lauderdale’s main post office in 18 months.  It’s the same mailbox that I had when I first decided to make the FTL the home of Educational Excellence.  I could ship and receive books and information easily and that address hasn’t changed for me in more than 10 years.  I think many of you reading this may also be friends on Facebook where I post pictures of my journey and provide a connecting link to the blog.  But when I got to Ft. Lauderdale, between Johnny Ace and his longtime girlfriend Candy, I didn’t miss a beat!  Another good friend who is close with the two aforementioned friends, CeCe, had come to the airport to pick me up amidst the turmoil of Spirit Airlines and all of the travelers returning to the skies for vacations and business.  It was like red carpet treatment for one of the coolest, nomad/gypsies I know … Me!

Before I knew it I was treated to a birthday dinner of various kinds of seafood including oysters and lobster by Candy and Ace!  As if magically, since I soon realized that I would have to go to Connecticut in order to see Ayanna and Caleb, I found a few decent-priced flights to an airport in Hartford.  I had enough cash to book the flights.  Since I always flop down on the couch at Ace’s and didn’t have to pay for an overpriced hotel room in Ft. Lauderdale, I felt “safe” enough financially to pull off a New England trip with an opportunity to visit the family’s burial site in Valhalla, NY.  Once getting to Bradley Airport near Hartford, CT I was picked up by Ayanna!  I started thinking a la “Biggie Smalls” the lyrics ” … It was all a dream …”!  Man, I was so happy even though I had to speed up just a bit being back Stateside, I could hardly believe that everything worked out including getting an opportunity to visit the family plot there at Kensico Cemetery.

Ayanna cooked some incredible gourmet-style meals and we listened to music, played a game of “Scrabble Junior” with Caleb after dinner, took pictures, and made more memories!  We even had some family time at the pool … all three of us!  I was feeling fully loved and taken care of by the friends and family the universe had put together for me this trip!  As another good friend “Robbie Rob” commented, “J, you look like you’re in a dream … You’re shining!”  Everything was so humbly perfect if you understand what I’m trying to say!  When I got back to Ft. Lauderdale, the paperback copies of the books I ordered from Amazon had arrived and I picked those up from the post office with a little help from my friend!

Soon, I had a flight back to San Jose, Costa Rica amidst the horrors of flying with Spirit Airlines who had canceled around 1700 flights since last weekend.  I was able to get on a flight back here and survived another visit through Customs in San Jose with all of the Covid/Health-related requirements now in place.  I still have to go to San Jose and clear up some confusion with my entry this time as a tourist for 34 days!!!  Yet, here I am as another witness of the praises and the glory due to the universe for making it possible for me to have had such a trip and return to my current place of retirement … Cocles, near Puerto Viejo … Costa Rica!

Pura Vida … and Peace!

John I. Cook, Director

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