“There But For the Grace of God Go I!”

It’s another Happy Friday … for me!  Where are you today?  Is there a TGIF left in you?  Then, TGIF!  Thanks a bunch!  

We’ve all heard that expression “there but for the grace of God go I …”, right?  There are probably different interpretations just like with the word “ignorant”.  Could that be a person who displays a lack of understanding of some task or concept?  Or, is it someone who, say, knows the truth but intentionally chooses to ignore it?  Hmmm?  So, could someone who is in a position to say that be boasting?  Or, perhaps, expressing gratitude for their current situation?  While some folks call “education” something evil created by the “rulers” or government, “self-education” is YOUR responsibility … not the government or even the school!  Ask my Dad (RIP) who raised a family with NO formal education!  I’m his youngest offspring.  It’s YOUR responsibility!  That’s where the real work takes place.  This is the premise of Educational Excellence so that NO ONE can tell you who you are for THEIR personal benefit, and, YOU define yourself!  In order to do this, you MUST “know thyself”!  That takes a lot of work!  What are your skills and talents?  What hurts you?  What makes YOU happy?  These are important questions.  Of course, here, we have to be extremely honest with ourselves.  Are you capable of that?

I’ve come to the conclusion that “you can’t help some folks”, to use a back home expression!  I’m sure some folks even said that about me!! Hehehe!!  I sometimes want to mention all those folks who believed in me and offered opportunities like an academic scholarship to a boarding school and a work-study scholarship to an Ivy League University.  I made good on both.  Now, I don’t think that I am better than anyone else (unless YOU prove it through your ignorance) but I am definitely NOT LESS than anyone else, either!!    In this challenging world that we live in today with so many people ignoring the truth, I often become spiritually nauseous listening to the lies and “one-upmanship” claims hurled around like in a circus.  People sometimes spout such nonsense that you have to be able to protect yourself from “their” ignorance!  (Either definition of ignorance works well here!)

Some of you may remember a few posts back when I went on a tirade about being called “boy” at 68 years of age!  Now, I know that I am in the Caribbean and a lot of people call each other “my boy”!  After 68 years on Earth, I KNOW the significance of a kid working in Old Harbor who sees me regularly, respects me, and says to me “Hey my boy!”  I can handle that.  We do it back home among friends.  Yet, if I am having a meal in a public restaurant at a table with a Caucasian woman from say Croatia … and a US-born Caucasian male passes by the table and says, “Hey boy!” … you better believe that I know the damn difference!!  Those kinds of people are attempting to use their version of racism to control me … who I sit with … where I eat … and how I’m feeling at that moment!  I invited the moron to sit down … he passed on the invitation … and NEVER apologized!  He meant what he said … and so do I!!  Are you freaking kidding me?!?  

I know that it seems like I analyze things and perhaps complain a bit.  That’s what leaders and self-preservationists do who care about not only their own lives but the lives of others AND the Planet we live on.  And no, I wasn’t elected “by the people”.  But I do have a voice, and “good people” are listening, reading, and getting motivated to “Save the Planet”!  I know that I am not for everybody, and I know that if you’re looking for something (someone) to criticize, you may find it in my motivational dialogues.  But, don’t intentionally MISS the point by looking at the placement of a period, spelling, or capital letter.  I’m not perfect but neither are “you”!  And, you don’t have to agree with me either!  I want my voice to be heard.  So many people who look like me are NOT heard, so I represent them, too!  Color doesn’t matter, but the content of your character does, you dig?!

In closing, I am sending a “shout out” to “Johnny Ace” who was and is like a “brother from another mother”!  I’ve slept on his couch many a night instead of sleeping in my car during some tough “pre-retirement” months … maybe years.  He and his woman, “Candy”, are planning a wedding this Spring that I hope to attend in The FTL.  And yes, “Johnny Ace” is white and his Lady is mixed Asian.  They still accept me as a close friend even though I am a bit distant!  Parts of my third book, “Cookin’ With Life!: Cook Book III” by John I. Cook, are dedicated to Ace and Candy and the many many friends like Lee, Charlie, Joel, and John Henry who saw me struggling to get out of the States once “scrump” was elected.  Get a copy if you like.  And no, you don’t have to be my “friend” on Facebook or in real life!  I have enough real, good friends and I don’t want any fake friends.  Visit: “Cookin’ With Life!: Cookbook III, by John I. Cook”  on Amazon Kindle, if you’re interested in browsing the book!

Be well and try to be a part of the solution … not the problem.  It requires positive genuine “thinking” …


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading …

“Get A Hobby, Son!”

Happy Friday, Folks!

Yeah, Y’all … we made it again … be grateful!! TGIF, even!!

So many times, people mistake “kindness for weakness” and even think that if someone tries to “forgive” someone, that person is stupid!  When in fact, it is quite the contrary.  It takes courage and a willingness to be the best that one can be, to admit one was wrong, and to have the courage to CHANGE for the better!  Don’t you just love those folks who have time to talk about and even judge others?  Things must not be that interesting in their lives if they’ve got so much time to judge YOUR life!!  And I just love those complacent people who say, “Oh!  Everybody does that!”  Not me, “mofo”!

Maturity isn’t something that just enters your life.  It’s something that you first have to acknowledge “exists” like TRUTH.  Then, at least for me, when I was struggling with a regular life issue like wanting to go outside into the snow in Westchester County, New York to play … and my Dad said no, I could handle things like my emotions in my young life.  That day when Big Ike said that I couldn’t go outside since I hadn’t done my chores in the tiny 3-bedroom apartment, I began to tap on the window with one knuckle in my bedroom as I looked at the falling snow.  Suddenly, the tapping got so strong that the window broke … and I scratched my arm as it slid through the broken glass!  My father came into the bedroom, looked at me sternly, and said, “Get a hobby, Son!”  He walked away and I got busy cleaning up my arm and the broken glass.  The next day, Winbrook Apartments Maintenance came and repaired the window.  Soon after, I started scribbling words on a piece of paper until it became a crude poem!  I found one of my hobbies … writing!!

As time went on and my life became more intricate, I had to find other hobbies, depending on the situation.  Now, I have always liked sports and working out even … ever since my older brother “Hank” aka Henry Charles Cook (RIP) had shown me the fundamentals of basketball on the small court inside of Winbrook’s Big Playground.  If I told you that a man who never graduated from college or high school (I’m not sure if he ever attended any school!) had counseled me simply by saying “Get a hobby, Son!”, you might not agree.  He didn’t like to call his son “boy”.  I’m sure that he heard that crap enough himself growing up in the racist “Dirty South” as it has sometimes been called.  It was customary for hostile whites to try to keep “Black Men” in their places by calling them “boy”, no matter how old they were.  Please oh please, don’t try that sh@t with me!  I WILL speak up …

You see, I learned that stuffing feelings, especially hurtful ones, allows one’s body to keep the pain inside.  To this day, I think that the bone marrow cancer that my Dad died from was not only caused by his incessant smoking of pipes and cigars (that was his style until he was diagnosed with cancer), but it also came from “stuffing his feelings” from extremely hostile racist encounters with the whites in the “Dirty South” as well as disappointments he faced in his life and family members!  That’s the main reason that he met and married my Mom and then vacated the premises of the “Dirty South” with his brother, my Uncle David and his Bahamian wife, Aunt Corlene.  They found their way to New York City on one of the earliest Amtrak trains linking Florida to the Northeast where many African Americans fled in search of better opportunities other than farming, and, less hostile and aggressive racism as displayed by white supremacist groups like the Ku Klus Klan that spread throughout the “Dirty South” after “slaves” were freed.  Yes, and I am the youngest son of theirs who continues the heritage of excellence to this day.  And to this day, I don’t appreciate being called anybody’s “boy”!  Go call your Momma or Daddy “boy” and see how they like it!!

That “hobby” suggestion that Big Ike made as a way for me to manage my frustrations is still something I do to this day!  For example, I wanted to “cure” or heal arthritis in my hips and NOT get hip replacements.  I started to work out again, practicing yoga and swimming when I first arrived here in Puerto Viejo with my “cane from Spain” and all!!  I took some private sessions with Jackson, a personal trainer here until I met two guys (Father/Son) who practice jiu-jitsu and have set up a nice gym on their property.  They noticed my desire to improve my physical condition and gave me a key to their gym.  A year after, I no longer use my cane unless traveling by airplane, and my physical condition is holding steady after having improved tremendously over the past year!  I still make it a point to work out two or three times a week!  And y’all already know how much I fancy writing!!  SMILE, please!

So, in closing, when the walls seem to be closing in on you … and you CAN’T go outside, “get a hobby”!  Who knows where some good old hard work can take you?


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!!

Be Yourself . . . Because You are YOU!

Welp. I wouldn’t be “me” if I did throw out the “Happy Friday” greeting!!  So, here it is … TGIF, Y’all!!  Awesome!

At some point in a human’s life, one has to admit that there is “a power greater than ourselves” out here!  I know that with my social scientist lens on, I can see how the “concept of consumption” is endless … right?!?  Until … The END!  Our civilization makes things we need and then there are those “businesses” that make and thrive “big time” on luxury items like yachts and Bentleys and things humans don’t need … and the list goes on and on until …. whatever… The End!  I myself think that humans need to cut back on “luxury toys” especially those that damage our Planet.  It’s like these leaders, politicians, and hard-core capitalists don’t even consider “damage control”!

My belief is that humans are born with some talents or gifts.  If not, then one must focus on something that one likes about oneself until it becomes a “talent or gift”.  Now, some folks come up in environs that inhibit any sort of “gift development” let alone acknowledgment of one’s interests and perhaps talents.  Some of us have to “work with what we’ve got”.  Others may want to change themselves to “fit in” rather than “stand out”.  That’s okay, too, as long as one does not “deny one’s inner self” just to fit in!!  When I look at my life (like many others are doing), I can “see” things that I can’t change …  You guessed it … my skin color!  How about my “New York” accent or my interests in sports and youth and education and stuff?  I mean, that’s who I am!!  I didn’t “decide” it … I rolled with the punches and stayed with my parents’ direction and love until I was able to stand pretty much on my own and help develop my own talents and skills.  At least, I was able to figure stuff out … in my life!!  I had to avoid (and be hit by!) a lot more punches than many of my contemporaries did because of “who” I am!  Don’t start tripping now because I am not complaining about my ability to run “the gauntlet” and come out relatively sane!

When I consider my parents’ humble beginnings (and end), I have no choice except to rise to the occasion.  I want THEM to be proud of their work and not look for nor make excuses for my lack of interest and intention in my own life.  My Mom and Dad rolled with punches far greater than the ones in my gauntlet!!  This is not a time for me to make excuses and blame “others”.  This is my time to “be myself” and “be the best that I can be”!!  It sometimes saddens me to see people play games with their own lives and even attempt to play games with others’ lives.  Count me OUT of that game … I don’t want to play or gamble with this precious gift of My life!!  Don’t get me wrong, I know that we are EACH different creations with different abilities, skills, and yes … challenges.  We don’t have to make excuses for ourselves, we need to “seize the moment” and make it something good or even better than before!

These past few weeks have been full of “signs” that I am on the right track, being me and stuff!!  I will continue working with Educational Excellence as a platform to advocate anti-racism, anti-ignorance, and spirituality, with an emphasis on my social science background!  You bet, there is a science to the challenges in our human societies.  But, it seems that we don’t have the time or interest in discovering these truths!  We don’t have time to “come together” even though we live on the same Planet, in the same countries, and even in the same communities!  “Why oh why aren’t we intelligent enough to get along with a world full of excellent opportunities at living?”

Just some things to think about this new year,  Thanks for reading!


John I. Cook, Director

Everyday People . . .

Happy Friday, Y’all … again … from where I sit!!  Of course, I can’t think of any other place that I’d rather be … considering my retirement and my “station in life”!  So TGIF with me, please!!  “Well done!”, as some of my British English-speaking friends might say!!  “Coolness!” I might respond!  “Just let’s get it done!”

To the regular readers of the Educational Excellence blog, I thank you for another “successful” year.  WordPress provides its clients with daily, weekly, and even yearly statistics. The number of readers has gone up each year.  For me, success is when people read the post and not only “feel” something, but actually reply.  I know some of “the readers” might be waiting for some big problem to arise in my life … don’t hold your breath, okay?!!  I’m just that positive in my approach to living nowadays.  There are a lot of people and “spirits” counting on me!!  I don’t let people down if I can help it!  I was able to start the New Year off with a super positive attitude, I avoided some “drama”, and have been to the gym twice already this new year.  THIS is how I roll!

Sometimes, when I think about “small town or small city” Americans, my heart goes out … yeah … from here in Puerto Viejo.  Now, there are problems here too, just of a different human nature … less stressful and less omnipresent.  I think about most of the kind hard-working Americans in CVS Pharmacies, Walmarts, Kentucky Fried Chicken shops, shucks even Chipotle Grill.  These are the daily front liners in the banks, the supermarkets, the laundry mat or cleaners, again … shucks even department stores!!  Remember how hard the medical frontline workers toiled for US during the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic?  As time went on and humans died or some even got better, Americans turned a deaf ear to those incredibly faithful frontline workers, too.  The haughty little politicians don’t give a horse’s arse about those people who keep America running on a daily basis … hmmmpfff …

“We the people” ARE the everyday people.  Don’t let the greedy “little” leaders turn US against each other!!  We’ve got a Planet to save.  Put on your “superhero” outfits of everyday people and prepare to spread positivity and love out here!  We are the only ones who can do it.  We’ve reached a time in human history where once again, “grassroots” strength is required to turn our Earth around in a better direction.  Do you know how honest and humble the average “everyday” person is?!?  Do you even care?  Come on, y’all!  Let’s get this thing moving this new year.  Adopt more values that sustain life on Earth … like truth, love, honesty, humbleness, and straight-up boldness!  Don’t let ANYBODY push you around when you know you are right!!  We need every positive body, soul, and spirit!

In this new year, I plan to continue to deliver “the goods” here on Educational Excellence and I look forward to your continued readership and support!  Thank you …


John I. Cook, Director

Thank You for reading!

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