I Owe It To Myself … Period!!

Happy Friday, Y’all!  I’m just so grateful to be around … you know … to still enjoy my life … maybe now more than ever!!  So … uh … A Funky TGIF won’t hurt nobody, will it?!?  Radical!! TGIF, then … in a THANKFUL voice!

I was lucky to have good parents who minded their OWN business, sought excellence in every avenue of their “lives”, and fought hard to overcome injustices … without complaining!!  Freakin’ “ROCK STAR” role models!  They guided me toward opportunities like the scholarship I got to attend St. Paul’s!  They encouraged me, even pushed me to go to an all-boys private Episcopalian boarding school … in New Hampshire!  I followed their “lead” even though neither one of them had ever been to college … or boarding school.  I’m glad I did …

When we can look back over our lives to see if we lived them right, we can see that some things were predestined no matter how “we” and others tried to mess things up, you dig?!!  My parents wanted peace and happiness for ALL of us!  I got the message … I was the youngest and able to see the struggles of my siblings though I didn’t understand most of their struggles.  I was a “witness” though not actually there … to my brother’s suicide and my oldest sister’s murder …  If you want to talk about not understanding … shock … then pain?!?  I had to heal from stuff like that.  So did my parents …  So, when someone messes with my peace and becomes envious of MY happiness, I have to remove them from my space …  I owe it to myself … 


I am unapologetically choosing myself.  My days of self-betraying are over.  I know my worth.

This is my season where my cup is running over because I have released people, places, and things that were just not for me.

I am aligned with my change.  My days always get better because I am intentional in and with my life.

My happiness is MY responsibility so I am prioritizing my spirit, soul, and body.  ALL of me matters!

Whoever heard of such a thing?!?  I like it!!  I owe it to myself and my family.  What about you?


John I. Cook, Director

Good Karma: A Tale of Two Miracles

Happy Friday once again!  I’m starting to like the sound of a heart-felt “TGIF”, Y’all!  So, if you’d be so kind, join me in one for today!!  “Hip hip … hooray!” as one of my California friends likes to say … “Hooray!”  Thanks again!

Do you believe in karma?  It can be good karma …  Or, it can be bad karma!  The choice is actually yours!!  How do you “roll” (behave)?  Fortunately for those of us who believe in good karma, we just need to carry on as we’ve always done – being good people.  That’s what allows the creation of “good karma” … essentially, good behavior!  Sometimes, if one is paying attention, one can see it!!

When I was in Medellin a few weeks ago, I relied on hoping that I had chosen a good hotel.  As it turned out, I was looking for an inexpensive hotel in a safe neighborhood.  As usual, I started to check for places on Booking.com.  I personally like them better than AirBnB since I had an extremely challenging situation in Barcelona 5 years ago.  After AirBnB had given me a location to stay just outside of Barcelona, Sabadell to be exact, when I arrived there after two days of travel from Ft. Lauderdale to Spain, the hostess said that AirBnB had “canceled” my reservation!!  It took a few days to demonstrate to the hostess that I was a harmless old man traveling to places that I’d never been … before I die!!  The hostess agreed to let me stay at her home for 200 Euro a week.  That was fine.  So, when I located this place online with Booking.com called “Ayende Jardin de Provenza”, I contacted the ONLY person I knew of who lives in Medellin.  Keep in mind, I had no previous knowledge about anything or anyone in Medellin … except “Naty”.  Since she had been a student at the High School in White Plains where I landed my first full-time teaching job over 40 years ago, I trusted her judgment of a safe neighborhood.  Besides, I later learned that she had run her own hostels in Medellin before the “pandemic” and was a member of a group of people who owned and managed the hostels in Medellin.  We messaged each other a few times and finally met up at Jardin de Provenza.  We traveled by bus together as she showed me some sights and then walked to a shopping district in downtown Medellin.  But first, we had lunch at an exceptional restaurant – Parmessano’s – before window shopping!  

The next day, I decided to try my hand at getting to see where Naty lived which was in another area of Medellin.  It wasn’t easy for me as I am a bit direction challenged especially when I visit a place for the first time!!  So, I couldn’t figure out where “Poblado Park” was which was actually four Medellin City blocks from my hostel.  The hostel was on a street, blocked off at one end where there was a mobile “police tent”, and had some of the MOST dynamic venues full of fine foods and good music.  My window on the second floor not only overlooked this street, but the room itself was beautifully hand-painted with Macaws aka “Guacamayas”!!  The lights in my room with that queen bed were stellar!  So, after giving up on potentially walking in the wrong direction (which I had already done twice), I asked a taxi driver to take me to the park.  When I got into the taxi, I looked at my cell phone to review the bus directions to Naty’s place.  When the taxi got to Poblado Park, I jumped out with excitement.  As I approached the collectivo (small van bus), I searched for my cell phone, paid the fare as I got on, and continued looking for my cellphone!  I didn’t have it in my possession!!  Oh nooo!  I asked the driver to stop and I got off, then took a taxi back to Jardin de Provenza.  As I entered, the manager greeted me and asked how things were going.  When I told her that I had just lost my cell phone, she frowned a bit and then smiled.  I felt like I had dropped it in the taxi … I mentioned that, too!

I mentioned to the manager that I was on my way to visit my friend “Naty” and she smiled.  She began to scroll through her phone and finally looked up and said, “I have her number.  I’ll call her.”  She did, but there was no answer, so I retired to my room to meditate.  As I left the reception area, I said, “God is here!”  We all smiled at each other, including her staff who stood by.  I went into my room and began to relax, meditate even.  Ten minutes went by and there was a knock at my door.  When I opened it, a female staff member was handing me her manager’s phone.  “Naty” was on the line.  She said that a woman who maintains the Park found my phone on the curb!  She picked it up before a motorcycle had run over it.  Naty had called my phone after the manager told her that I had lost it … and she spoke with the woman who cleans the park and told her that I would come to pick it up!!!  Can you say “good karma”??  God, maybe?!?  Okay, both!!

As some of you may recall, I have been in the process of applying for residency in Costa Rica.  I had actually given up until my friend “Naty” informed me that I could get my FBI background check “certified”/apostilled by a company in New York.  After investigating more, as this is the last step for me in this process of applying for residency in Costa Rica, I found out that there are companies that place the apostille on federal documents, not just state documents.  I did my research and found an organization in Georgia that could generate my background check from my fingerprints.  Once I get this done and sent back to me here in Costa Rica … by e-mail and later physical mail … I need to get it translated into Spanish and then take it to Migracion to complete my “10-Step Process” in applying for residency in Costa Rica.  Some of those steps also included verification of income from the Social Security Administration, my birth certificate, fingerprints in San Jose to have on file in their police department(s), and more just to complete the application.

Before traveling to Medellin, I started the process and was told that I needed new (6 months or less old) fingerprints taken and sent to the FBI Apostille in Virginia, USA.  Now, I started panicking trying to figure out how I get all of this stuff done before Nov. 14th, 2022 the date I was given generated by the administrative division of “Migracion” (Immigration).  The computer-generated e-mail from Migracion stated that I would need to make an appointment online or by phone (neither system was functioning) if I needed more time.  Now, I had already written a complaint letter to “customer service” with “Migracion” regarding a woman who had attended to me for over 18 months when I had visited their office in Limon before traveling out of Costa Rica so I wouldn’t have problems regarding documentation and status to get back into the country.  That’s how I got the e-mail giving me the date from October to November.  I hesitated to go back to that same office.  Yet, I couldn’t contact them by WhatsApp and neither could a friend who agreed to call the number periodically to request an extension to turn in my last step of this 10-step process.  So, enter good karma!

I decided to go to get fingerprinted at a police station in Limon on Monday as requested by the company in the States and send them by express mail afterward.  When I got to the closest police station, they stated that the ONLY way I could get fingerprinted was by appointment.  The officer told me to take a photo of the web link posted on the wall that was used to make an appointment. So, I decided to go to Migracion to request an extension in order to get my background check back from the States and translated (I know of two companies in San Jose who can do this in 24-48 hours … for a fee!).  As I stood in this long a$$ line that ended up on the street outside of the office, I decided to use the link to make an appointment for fingerprinting.  Of course, after I gave a bit of information, it asked for my date of birth.  Each time I entered my date of birth, the form would say “NahNahNah” and kick me out!!  So, I decided to go back to the police station which was within walking distance from Migracion, just around a Limon (Old Bronx-like) corner!  I explained to the officer who gave me the website and I even let him try it!!  It was in English and it didn’t work.  Finally, the officer said in Spanish, “Wait here.  I’m going to the office where they do the fingerprinting and tell him about the problem.”  I waited … and waited … people came and went … I sat outside on a cement block bench … I waited …  Finally the officer pointed where to go to explain what happened.  It was the fingerprinting office.  I walked over and the officer accompanied me.  Everybody was armed up in there!  Cut to the chase, they gave me an appointment for the very next day at 10:30 am.  I got the prints done AND then went to the Migracion office …

I got online at Migracion immediately after the fingerprinting session which was incredibly smooth …. for Costa Rica … air conditioning and all.  The line was shorter than earlier when I went there early Tuesday morning before getting my fingerprints.  When I was finally called, it was a different professional, yet the employee that I had written the complaint about was there also.  The more professional mature woman was treating me very kindly … like a 68-year-old gentleman should be treated… with RESPECT! It was like she was demonstrating what good customer service looks like … for the knowledge of the only other agent there.  This woman even taught me a new legal term in Spanish, “prorroga” (accent mark over the first “o”), which means extension!!  She asked me how much time I wanted.  I told her sometime in December and asked for the exact date of the appointment as I looked over the form for a date.  She said, “You don’t need a date …”  I thanked her and departed walking past the other agent without saying a word.

Which miracle did you like most?!?  Of course, you don’t have to tell me or choose.  I liked them BOTH and am humbly grateful that they happened to … ME!  You’re next!!


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!!

I Unapologetically Choose ME!

Happy Friday again one and all!  Join me if you’re feeling thankful that you made it to Friday.  I don’t know about you but I used to often take my good fortune for granted.  So, join me with a TGIF, if you don’t mind!  TGIF, yes!

We all should know what “good fortune” means.  Too many of us, me included in my past, took this good fortune when it came, for granted.  I didn’t realize what I “had” was not monetary or material.  Yes, it is good spiritual fortune.  It came with the need to be creative in finding solutions to some of life’s challenges at different times.  For me, this fortune was elusive to my wandering mind when the answer was sitting on my nose.  It was obvious … I didn’t realize or “see it” because it wasn’t material, ie – a new car! – or financial like a new better paying job!  It was more spiritual, if you will, like faith and fortitude, gumption and desire!  There was no fear in tackling a new project that fell in my lap or a situation I may have “found myself in”!  It happens to all of us.  Some of us pay attention, and some of us don’t.  Some of us aren’t looking for anything spiritual at first like me.  We look for stuff that we can show off to others with that “look what I’ve got!” as they show you something or anything material.  I have gotten so disappointed looking for the wrong reward in the first place.  I have this spiritual warrior gift that I found myself located in the middle of my chest.  In sports and other somewhat competitive activities we used to call it “having heart”.  Perhaps facing up to my shortcomings and finding a positive desire to remedy this/these shortcoming/shortcomings successfully.  And not settling to be defeated… but find a viable solution.

After several personal challenges had taken their toll on me, I had to try to not only understand why these things happened but how.  Then, I turned my case over to a Higher Authority – my Spirit!!  I patiently and somewhat painfully looked at my options.  Be happy … or NOT!  Easy choice for me.  Now, how do I do that?  Take a trip … with MYSELF … and enjoy myself … and just let go!  Trust me … easier said than done.  So, I went to Medellin.  The positive vibrations I carry made a way for me.  I wasn’t thinking about anyone else and I wasn’t trying to “take anybody” with me!  I chose ME!  I hadn’t been to Colombia since I had lived and taught in Cali … Colombia, that is, since 1995!  I had taught at two private bi-lingual high schools there and even had the opportunity to teach technical English at La Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.  (Look it up)  I mean, I had just applied for a high school teaching job with a woman, who with her husband, ran what was Colegio Bennett.  The growth I experienced while I prepared courses for technical English for fields of study including engineering, business administration, and psychology was incredible.  So, in teaching these bright, hungry, and intelligent students at this well-known Jesuit university in Colombia, I had to learn these concepts and ideas in Spanish!  They were waiting and I had to deliver.  I was a relatively young buck who applied for and accepted this teaching assignment in addition to my high school English teaching position at Colegio Bennet there in Cali and 4 years later a year at another private bilingual high school, Colegio Bolivar, so I had to deliver.  It was a tremendous opportunity and I had no idea how I was going to handle it.  After a one-year contract at Bennett, I signed up for another year … then another year at Bennett after I was able to create a professional relationship at both the University and the high school.  I didn’t need anyone else to help me and was just coming out of an extremely uncomfortable divorce, so I chose myself!!  I was super busy teaching and traveling on weekends throughout Colombia and only had time for myself and my students.  That’s how I roll.  I literally fell in love with what I was doing, thank God.  I forgot about my previous problems and focused on these opportunities.  My Mother even came to visit me and Cali during Semana Santa one year!  We had a blast.  I even took her with me one weekend to Popayan and Silvia in chivas (look it up, if you don’t know) which was an incredible experience for both of us!!  “I’ll ALWAYS love my Momma …”  After five years teaching there, I contracted walking pneumonia and decided to return back to Ft. Lauderdale where I entered Broward General Hospital for treatment.  Between the hospital and a Haitian friend of my sister who prepared these incredible home-remedy beverages daily for me, I was healed but still have scarred lung tissue from having had walking pneumonia.  

I wanted to return to Colombia one day, I even thought about retiring there at one point!  So, after some melodrama with my daughter, her partner, and my ex-wife, I had to re-heal or at least not let this situation sink in too deep, I decided to return to Colombia … But this time to Medellin, a city in Colombia that I hadn’t visited in my five years living there!  And trust me … I traveled in Colombia including Bogota, Cartegena, Villa de Leiva, Santa Marta, and even Ipiales!!  So, I went to Medellin, a city that I had never visited while teaching there, as well as where a friend lived who graduated from White Plains High School when I taught there for ten years!  It was over the top.  I chose me and the rest is a story of a spiritually grand time in Medellin.  I couldn’t believe how things fell into place … because I chose me!  The “universe” delivered on so many levels that I was literally dumbfounded with sober healing happiness!!  “Thank you … thank you … thank you!”  I also want to thank “Naty”, the former student, who guided me through parts of my uncharted journey there and showed me a few places, including where I could get a deep tissue massage there close to where I was staying at Jardin de Provenza en barrio El Poblado.  Once again, the “universe” delivered!!  The trip was EXACTLY what I needed.  I got home in time last night so I could deliver this message!  Silly, ain’t I!  But, that’s ME!

Thanks for reading …


John I. Cook, Director

Thanks for reading!

A Hopeless Romantic …

Happy Friday, Mi Gente!!

Let me say that again in case you aren’t paying attention …  TGIF, Y’all!  BOOM! Shaka-laka- BOOM!  I know you heard that!!  Thanks for hanging with me!

A few blog posts ago, I addressed not stuffing your feelings.  While you may not be able to respond as you might like in a situation, there is/are feelings that may arise that should NOT be stuffed.  In my opinion, this “stuffing” can not only lead to mental discomfort, but the mental discomfort may manifest itself in physical ways … like cancer.  If someone treats me in a manner that causes me discomfort, I will express that.  If it is inappropriate to defend myself at that moment, I must find a way to “release that imprint” perhaps that was made on my spirit, if you will.  Sometimes, I must engage in what is spiritual warfare where I deny the “demons” occupation of my thoughts and consequently, my feelings.  I replace those thoughts and feelings with more positive thoughts and feelings.  Sometimes I do this by taking a trip, making a tasty meal, or working out!  I love to travel and this provides me with opportunities to generate new, more positive feelings to replace the negative ones.  It’s a lifestyle for me it seems.  I romanticize MY life so that I can be the best that I can be.  I live on a “positive vibration”.  If I encounter a situation or a person, I look for the best first.  If the situation or person “disappoints” me by not living up to the expectations or “props” I had given them, I may offer an opportunity or two more.  As the title of my second book suggests, “Three Strikes, You’rrre OUT!”.

I remember when I had finished college and landed my first full-time teaching job at White Plains High School.  I was proud and excited.  After a year or so of teaching, I wanted to get married and start a family to share my improved life.  I thought, “I should marry a sister (an African American woman) from some “projects” like mine and we can all seek “the American Dream” together !?”  Hmmmm ….  I didn’t think that one through too well!  I met a few “positive” sisters at college and grad school, but nothing nor anyone stood out for me.  So, I remained single until meeting this woman who was waiting at a bus stop and was on her way home from business school in White Plains to her home in New Rochelle where I lived.  Yet, I had no “personal” knowledge of her or her family … which is critically important.  I picked her up and dropped her off near her home.  We began to date.  The rest is a brief but long story …  It’s a story that I can’t stuff.  I must face the reality that my reasoning for choosing this woman to marry was indeed faulty …  My path forward MUST eliminate the toxicity that I’ve encountered.

So, right about now, I should be on a flight to Medellin, Colombia with a short layover in Cartagena.  This is a spontaneous trip that I felt I needed for a few days!  Why not treat me?!?  I love to travel, learn new things, have new experiences, and SMILE!!


John I. Cook, Director

ps. Thanks for reading!!

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