Collaboration, Cooperation … Not So Much Competition!

Happy Friday … and the last one of this year … 2021!  When we’ve had every kind of challenge this year, we’re often ready to turn the page!!  So, TGIF with me if you’re feeling it!!  “TGIF!”  Boom!!

Here at Educational Excellence, I occasionally offer up some “lite” anecdotes.  Then, other times I challenge readers to the heavy stuff … the deep stuff that one cannot find the solutions to on the mere surface.  This is where the real work begins … on yourself!!  This is when we lose many humans as they dare to face themselves, their own truth … be it good or not so good!  This type of personal cowardice affects many of us, especially if the coward is supposed to be a leader!

Each day of my life, I try to do better than the day before.  I’m not trying to make as much money, nor acquire as much power as anyone.  Once we’ve passed a certain age, we should have learned right from wrong, the difference between disrespect and hatred versus respect and love!  They aren’t that difficult to understand.  Some people like to play you for a fool and are so dishonest with themselves that I prefer not to be around a quagmire of volatile, negative, hostile energy.  When I stay in my lane, I work hard on myself.  Some folks like to “switch” lanes, so to speak, and “get into” your lane (life) without paying attention to their own lane or issues.  So, then I have to deal with ones’ negative energy coupled with my own issues!  This type of unwarranted intervention is what I didn’t come here to retire for since it is not aligned with my own healing.  I mean, after all, this is pretty much my life to develop and recover my own peace and happiness.  In addition, I try to share my love, peace, and understanding with whomever I meet, if possible.  Yes, it is a tough job … but someone has to do it!!

A while back this year maybe a few months or so ago, the CEO of Whole Foods mentioned in an interview that “we” need to stop using hurtful, hateful language toward each other as we each find ourselves struggling to keep our natural human competitiveness healthy.  While competition has its benefits, its limit(s) should be clearly identified so “it” (the competitive edge) does not lose its purpose and destroy the fabric of our human civilization.  Unfortunately, some of us don’t think far enough ahead to determine the negative repercussions of our actions.  In the animal kingdom, of which we are a part, their lives are not based on the color of the animal nor who one animal decides with whom to take up company!  They are not so primitive!  Imagine that!!

In closing, I would like to add that for the new year, may we reconsider being one human family.  Our continuation as a species depends on it!  “We are one!”


John I. Cook, Director

Pure Gratitude

Happy Friday, All!

I am truly feeling grateful … blessed … or, whatever word(s) you would like to use to describe that elevated state of happiness!  I’ll do a “TGIF” right about now … just because!

Christmas Day will make four years for me living in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.  It’s been a journey, too!  I took my “plans” to retire abroad and followed the strong loving flow pretty much to where it led me!  So, I am currently living in a nice resort-style hotel, with a swimming pool, a spacious outdoor kitchen, and clean air-conditioned rooms with cable television.  Not too shabby for me … just me!  While I had been renting in Puerto Viejo, I decided to move to Cocles on Tucan Road to get out of town and finish the manuscript.  Between the ever-present hummingbirds (Colibri), howling monkeys with their relatively small stature, and of course the Toucans adorning every tree while singing and snacking, I am good … for now!  (I always say that – for now!  It’s the nomad/gypsy nature of my mission.)

Things and projects I have had are still moving along smoothly with a couple of “tight curves”.  I have gotten my teeth repaired by a dentist in Puerto, picked up 2 nice pairs of prescription glasses in Limon, and simultaneously self-published my third manuscript – Cookin’ With Life!: CookBook III.  I am still working on natural healing for my arthritis and even added to my yoga and meditation practices by working out at a good friend’s gym a few times a week.  I was able to get an electric motorbike to make getting around easier and more timely, not to mention less expensive over the long haul.  While I have been contemplating another project, I think that I should just retire before I kill myself!  Learning how to enjoy retirement is a “job” in itself!  I am grateful for this job, too!  As well, I am learning how to enjoy every minute of it.

Spiritually, I am feeling very well.  I don’t allow myself to be pulled away from who I “am”.  As we emphasize here in EE, “Know Thyself”.  It’s a really important beginning … and end … to a happy life.  Shucks, I have all of this positive energy and love to “share” and have become even more skillful at sharing those sentiments, too.  I’ve had “people” write back to me telling me to stop writing about Blacks who have been killed, but write about those who make it …  I am choosing to do BOTH!!  All in all, my gratitude propels me to mystical places that most people seldom visit – the heart.  That’s where we imagine that our love, peace, joy, and happiness flow from …  Be sure to be the best that YOU can be.  Try not to worry about everybody else unless you’re offering some genuinely positive input to them to help make their journey more pleasant.  “Say NO to hate!”

Happy Holy Days!


John I. Cook, Director

ps. – Thank you for reading!!

How’s Your Health (Mental & Physical) These Holy Days?

Happy Friday, All!

If we can manage a TGIF, I’d appreciate it!  TGIF!!  Thank you very kindly!!

It’s the Holy Days y’all, and there’s a lot going down.  First, I want to thank Derek Chauvin … in a sense … for finally admitting that he KNEW that he was violating George Floyd’s civil rights as he squeezed the life out of Mr. Floyd. You see, “bad cops” know that they are “bad cops”.  They KNOW that they are “not well” and should NOT be in a uniform that says they “protect and serve”.  Why don’t the superiors who hire them know?!?  Now, there’s a situation where a Louisiana Judge (Odinet) has been “caught” with a soundtrack that included calling African Americans the “n-word” and comparing them to cockroaches!!  Wt@!!?  You see, many people of color have to deal with attitudes like this MULTIPLE times a day!!  Educate yourselves and cut that crap out!!  Lives are at stake!!  At least don’t encourage or be complicit with ignorance.

So, I am sure most of us know how challenging “holy days” can be for folks.  We all know that there are those of us who can have everything in the world and still be unhappy.  Meanwhile, there are those among us who have very little but know how to be appreciative of those “things” and STILL be kind to others.  Why is that?

Well, Thursday, I served as “Caribbean Claus” down by the “boat area” in Puerto Viejo!  It was my second year posing as Mr. Claus for the population here in Puerto Viejo.  The desire to see people smile when they see my version of “Santa”, Caribbean colors and Bob Marley gear is priceless!  The organizer of the event, “Erin”, whom I thought was Mrs. Claus said, “No, I’m dressed as your helper – an Elf!”  There were vendors out by what is called “Chino Beach”, there was a DJ set up on the deck of Puerto Pirata, and throngs of folks from all over the world!  I felt blessed and extremely appreciated by all the guests who wanted pictures with Santa!  It brought smiles to my face to see folks happy and vibing positively out there!

Those of “us” who have it all should be happy and share, according to The Season.  Some of us need to be grateful for what we have, no matter how small it is!  During these Holy Days, I still get nostalgic remembering how Mom and Dad played Christmas songs, both religious and popular, to enhance the ambiance of our tiny three-bedroom apartment in The Winbrook Apartments, White Plains, NY to be exact!  The little kitchen was filled with aromas of Mom’s fine “holiday” foods.  The music flowed from the old stereo console in the living room with Mahalia Jackson (Mom’s favorite) and the popular Christmas carols by Frank Sinatra or Lou Rawls.  It was Christmas at the Cook’s home as indicated by the “angel hair” and colored lights adorning the tiny star-topped pine tree that Big Ike had put his touch on near the little living room window …  Ahhh, thanks for those memories Mom and Dad!

Check on each other over these holy days.  The festivities yesterday included donations of dry foods for the people in the community and were organized by a few different humanitarian groups out here in Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, Limon … Costa Rica!  It’s the simple things that one needs to appreciate in life, including each other!

Peace and Holy Day Blessings,

John I. Cook, Director

Thanks for reading! Visit the website,, click on “Publications”, and select your “Cook Book” to read for the Season! Namaste

A Quick Take of the Inside

Happy Friday, yeah, yeah, yeahh!  Can I interest youse in a hearty TGIF!?  Okay, then … Hit it!  TGIF!

How often do “we” consider the way another person might be feeling?  Maybe wonder what kind of day they may have had?  Not too often, right?!  The “dog eat dog” rat race that we often find ourselves in is usually not conducive to one’s ability to “feel for others”!  In our world communities where capitalism has taken root, there is little or no time to “think about others”.  Capitalism is a selfish game.  (Consider how much MORE profits have been made by members of that “1%” if you will, during the pandemic!)  It seems that, once again, there are “problems” with getting vaccines to many members of the South African countries.  It has been called an “apartheid” approach to getting poorer countries there vaccinated.

I wanted to mention something about myself that may help you understand “my” point of view based on my experiences as an African American male.  I’ve had racially prejudiced people actually get in my face with the biggest bunch of malarkey ever.  They don’t understand that I not only “know myself” better than they could EVER know me, I know them better than they know themselves!  I’ve been “the only chocolate chip” in the cookie MANY times.  I can sniff out a racist person in seconds by listening to their words as they address me!  Once, I was invited to an “educational” meeting, so I was told, and I was the only chocolate chip in the cookie there.  So, within minutes, the hostess made a corny assed statement like, “John, are you over there somewhere?  We can’t see you!  Smile more!”  No one laughed and there was a brief silence from those who overheard the hostess’s remark!  Needless to say, in my four years here, I have NEVER gone back to that “educational” meeting.  My point?!?  I am a hopeless romantic about life … my life … even yours!  I think “we” can overcome whatever obstacles that we face together!  Please stop letting the greedy corrupt leaders worldwide DIVIDE us by religion, sexual persuasion, skin color, or culture.  We are playing into the “1%”‘s hands!!

Let me introduce a quick lesson in closing.  Here in Costa Rica, I was teaching an American History portion of the GED exam to prepare a small group of homeschooled students for the test.  I was recounting the story of Emmett Till to them, the young African American child who was shot in the back of his head by several white men after being dragged from someone’s home, beaten, and mutilated by gouging his eyes out.  Who does that?!?  Can you say a mentally ill person?!?  As I was telling them the story, my eyes welled up and I asked to be excused for a minute or two.  Young Emmett was killed in Mississippi in 1955 and … his mother requested that his casket be opened in October 2020 so that the world could see “what they did to my baby”.  All of this took place after a white woman who later recanted her story said that 15-year-old Emmett “flirted with or whistled at her” – Mrs. Bryant.  “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.”  Fast forward to Louisville, KY … a Kroeger’s store where people are shopping in 2018.  Gregory Alan Bush approached an African American man from behind who was walking down an aisle holding a black child’s hand.  Unbeknownst to the shopper, Bush rapidly approached, pressed a pistol to the back of his head, and fired!  Again, who does that?!?  As he was led away after shooting an unsuspecting African American woman, Bush yelled: “Dylan Roof!”  (Note:  Do your homework before having a conversation about my thoughts …)

What I am doing here is seeking to plant seeds of competent leadership in the youth of our world.  Yes, I know it’s a tough job … but someone caring and loving HAS to do it!  Join me!


John I. Cook, Director

Let’s Not Talk About That … It Makes Me Uncomfortable!

Happy Friday, All!

I am still a little corny sometimes because it lets me act childish or silly without any serious repercussions.  So, let’s do a cheer or a thought of gratitude or whatever you want … or not!  Yet for me, a simple TGIF suffices.  Do your thing!

As events from the USA begin to make more international news like trials involving racial injustice, and as more youngsters (white ones, too!) are getting guns and committing horrific gun crimes … at another school in Michigan even, it’s becoming more challenging for other countries to consider requests from the American government seriously.  There are problems with racial injustices in China regarding the treatment of the Uyghurs.  The Chinese point out the injustices that have been committed on the African American community (and others) in the US.  One representative stated that the US needs to handle its own problems before getting involved in pointing fingers at other countries with social justice issues.  The Chinese state that what happened in the US Capitol would NEVER happen in China due to communism and its dictates.  Still to this day, Russia’s Putin ignores anything that the US criticizes him about as he did relentlessly during #45’s administration.  People disappear in and around Russia and there are human rights violation issues there, too.  In fact, Russia seems to be threatening Ukraine and lying about their aggression, just as they did both times in Crimea!

I write about things in the USA because that’s where I was born and raised as we have been known to say!  To sit by and watch is NOT an option for me.  In these pieces, I attempt to share the good words about us being “one” humankind, not races of people as we have been trained to think by former colonial and imperialist practices that divided the world into areas where their colonization practices would take place and their imperial control would be imposed upon others.  This is why it’s important to know the “history” of capitalism as it was spread during the European “Age of Discovery”.  The Native Americans were already here when Columbus came.  A good example of this is understanding the concept of how the “sun never set on the British Empire”.  India was colonized by England as the British also carved up the then “13 colonies” for “settlement” as well as France, Spain … even the Dutch in “New York”.  This is where keen insight and an intellectual understanding are both required and necessary to see how the roots of racism were bestowed upon “their” New World!  (Aren’t Native Americans entitled to THEIR OWN land?!)!  Or, don’t “we” want to talk about that?!?

The world is on edge to see how the more recently evolved “Super Powers” are handling the growing problems around the Planet.  If you look at Afghanistan today, we see the conflict in and over THEIR land and culture.  As some of them are permitted to enter the USA and receive “diplomatic treatment”, there are “Americans” (not Native) who don’t want the government to help these people even after these workers helped the USA.  In fact, even one female Muslim representative in Congress, Ilhan Omar, received a racist death threat in a voicemail.  She was referred to as a “sand ni**er” and it was emphasized that “they” would like to kill her or see her be killed!  So now, we can notice how comments like these reflect the thinking of some Americans.  If you know the history of the USA, including the treatment of African slaves and Native Americans being forced off of their land onto reservations by the imperialist colonizers, one can see the cultural mess that has been put in place by the colonizers.  In order to understand the developments of racial tensions in the USA today and worldwide (as we witnessed the English citizenry owning up to their historically disruptive behavior by bringing down statues of those who benefitted from the slave trade), we need to know the history and origins of colonization and imperialism.  If one cannot be intelligent enough to come to grips with the fact that many wrongs have been committed and need to be acknowledged there in the States and worldwide, one can never solve “the problems”.  It takes not only maturity but humanity as well!

In closing, I just want to say that we as humans owe it to the people who have been exploited throughout our recent history.  It cannot be uncomfortable to simply talk about how other humans have been and are still being forced to live today.  Show some humanity, and if necessary, come down off of your high horse built on the backs of and at the expense of other humans!  Truth, unity, and respect are the required ingredients.


John I. Cook, Director

ps. – Thanks for reading!

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