The Epitome of Power and Passion

Happy Friday, All!  How are we holding up??  The “leaders” are still playing with each other in the States … and the world!  How exciting to watch!!  We’ve got to save ourselves.  TGIF, then!!  Thanks for your positivity!  This world today can use all that it can get!!

I could say this entire piece with two words – Tina Turner!!  But that wouldn’t challenge my attempt to say something ELSE about “Tina” born Ana Mae Bullock in Brownsville, TN …  I mean, this person was truly a “self-made woman”!  Born in 1939 when music was one of the few ways for African Americans to “get ahead” in life since there was no way to have “an equal life” with our “white” counterparts, she hit corners, took turns, stumbled and fell, used food stamps to get back on her feet and the rest is a power-filled history.  The thing that amazes me the most is how she started out as an R & B singer with and when she met “Ike” is that she somehow blossomed into “The Queen of Rock”.  So, she not only survived a relationship with an abusive out of control junkie who fell from grace, she transformed herself into “The Epitome of Power and Passion”, to use Beyonce’s words.  How does “one” do that?!?  You know, when I look at her life there are no words to appropriately describe what she did, who she was, not to mention how many different kinds of people on the Planet whose lives she touched and impacted.

For me, I am amazed at how she came through the part of her life when she lovingly partnered with the already though only locally known talent of Ike Turner.  For African American men, music was a way to “get ahead”, too.  Yet, she and Ike met up at a time when heroin was literally destroying “the black community”!  As she mentioned in one of her many many televised interviews, she had experienced having houses burned, cars shot into, and multiple recoveries from drug-fueled fights and abuse from Ike!!  How do you do that?!?  Her life is a testament to how one conjures up the inner strength of an average African American woman who powerfully overcame what was a death trap for many African American lives to become “The Queen of Rock”!  As I scurried through pages of her story after her passing, I realized how much I had missed about her life and was even more compelled to be drawn closer to understanding this woman’s life.  I was born at the tail end of the heroin crisis in America’s many cities though I was raised close to New York City in the suburbs of Westchester County … New York, that is.  I witnessed people trying to make it by selling heroin in an attempt to become the next “Frank Lucas”.  It was not an easy task as the high-grade heroin that hit the streets in the “Big Cities” often ended up in the arms and veins of family members … fathers and brothers and occasionally a few females in the music industry!  That lifestyle of driving and pushing and singing and dancing not to mention preparing for her spectacular concerts … and believing in herself and her mission made other people call her “The Queen of Rock”!  What a gift to humanity, she is.

In closing, I wanted to simply state as I did on a good friend’s post of a few songs by Tina that “There’s Only ONE!”  Wow …  May you never be forgotten “Tina Turner” aka “The Queen of Rock”!!


John I. Cook, Director

“Be Yourself … Because You Are YOU!”

It’s Friday, All!  Another fine opportunity to enjoy life and be the best that YOU can be.  It might take a bit o’ work sometimes but … TGIF!  Thanks again for your positivity.  Tomorrow, Saturday May 20, 1917, will be my Mother’s Birthday – Marietta Dolores!  Continue to rest in heavenly peace, Mom …

Have you ever heard people – church or non-church goers – speak of spiritual warfare?  It’s an interesting concept to wrap your head around but I’ve witnessed it in my life.  When things are going well for you … and you dare to say it (testify, they call it in church), more hostility, jealousy, envy and down right evilness will present itself to you over and over.  It’s a test!  In other words, I would ask myself, “How peaceful am I?”  “What will I do to protect my peace?”  You have to remain what you profess to be in light of omnipresent challenges.  Not a small order for anyone, especially someone whose life is and has been an example of “how to do …” things.  Humans never cease to amaze me during such moments and times.  I usually find my “peace” briefly interrupted and I must use some ingenuity to get it back … peacefully!

There are some people who DO NOT want to see others succeed or improve their lives.  These same people have “come up” with different reasons to excuse their wretched behavior in trying to sabotage, discourage, and if possible, curtail your progress as a “foe”.  They can be in your family.  At least, perhaps due to their low self-esteem and inability to find some “worth” in their own lives, such people cannot bear to see “one” be successful, at peace, happy, healthy or content even.  Why is that?!?  In my sociological studies in undergraduate school, I came across a concept of “the protean man”.  Such a person does not have to be a man yet must be able to adjust and adapt quickly to constantly changing and volatile circumstances or situations that she(he) may find themself.  This particular term stood out for me as I tried to handle everything I could successfully while keeping my academic/work-study scholarship at Princeton intact.  Neither of my parents had attended college/university but they had my back, so to speak.  There was a lot of pressure.  My grade point average HAD to remain at 3.5 in order for me to continue to receive my work/study package, which included a handsome scholarship and a job.  I was kind of poor; I went through the freshman year blues and even had a roommate who had decided that Princeton wasn’t for him and transferred. I even had an older girlfriend with a young son that I had acquired during my last year at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire.  We eventually broke up because she wanted me to drop out of Princeton and … no, I had had enough!  Hasta la vista, Baby!!  And, no, it wasn’t easy.  Protean Man time!!  And to think that after so much was put into my life so I could succeed that I will let ANYONE change my lane is simply ludicrous.  Both parents tirelessly participated in their youngest offspring’s life as I went from boarding school to an Ivy League university on “academic scholarship” to a full-time teaching job in White Plains, NY.  If “you” want to stop my progress now, “forget about it”!!

What kind of person would NOT like you … or it … if you performed well or drastically improved something in your life?  Is that properly called a jealous, low self-esteemed hater?  It’s funny sometimes, I’m being sarcastic, when the “hater” complains about your response to their often-repeated abuse, hate and disrespect towards YOU!!  You may remember one of my survival skills that I shared with readers about “not stuffing my feelings” and standing up for myself and who I REALLY am!  There have been some longitudinal studies connecting verbal abuse and forcing someone NOT to state their feelings or views (stuffing) but be abused over and over to cases of various forms of cancer (throat, mouth, lung, and bone).  My Dad died of bone marrow cancer, and I know he HAD to keep his thoughts to himself many many times so that he could live and successfully raise his family alongside my Mom.  I’m his son and we both are no nonsense type of men (not boys).  This is why I am so intent on not only knowing myself, but also BEING myself … because I am me!  Those two people were (still are!) my celestial guard rails who were full of love and discipline to keep me on MY road. I do keep in mind that I am a work in progress but I’m not going backwards in my life’s direction nor make a complete imbecile change in my life to please ANY haters disguised as bullies and naysayers.  I’m good where I am, and progress is my only option right now.

Some of you readers may remember that I mentioned that I am NOT for everyone.  You might be looking for some conspiracy theories or someplace where one can vent their hostile feelings, know that here at Educational Excellence there is a professional platform which I use to express views contingent with my “not for profit business” values.  And, no I don’t do haters and naysayers!  Excellence and being the “best that you can be” are my goals and vision.  It’s not a place to look for “friendship” or “not feel uncomfortable” as I seek to expose various social ills that are destroying OUR civilization.  Is it time for a change?  Can we do it peacefully?  Or are we just going to throw our hands up … and go to “a party”?  Why not BOTH!!  Let’s get started!

As I mystically contemplate my Mother’s birthday tomorrow, I continue to give thanks to both her and my Dad … and Creation for keeping me “in my lane”.  If you “know thyself”, you’ll never be lonely.  “Be yourself, because you are YOU!”


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!

The Girl With No Face . . .

Welp, it’s Friday again!  Have you hugged your kids today?  Your partners?  How about your parents or grandparents?  If so, join me in a moment of gratitude … even … TGIF!  Thank you ALL very kindly!

Some things about human behavior never cease to amaze me!  Selfishness, greed, cowardice … dishonesty …  It hit me hard AGAIN after hearing and seeing accounts of yet another mass shooting in Allen, TX … at a mall!  It seems that the “corrupted politicians” (republicans who cling to their second amendment right as if it is a baby’s pacifier while we allow ourselves to kill each other … and NRA capitalists stand by and watch us kill each other as they go all the way to the banks …) have convinced us “this will never happen again” ….  Don’t we get it yet?!?  They are playing games with our lives … our children’s lives … like Russian roulette.  While I need to travel stateside in July to update some documents, I’m leaning towards just an “in and out” trip in an effort to come out alive!!

It almost seems like we’re (y’all are) being taken hostage in “our” own country by components of “our” own government and their financial backers!!  When I look at it from where I am fortunate enough to sit today, it looks pretty ominous.  The most recent mass shooting (unless one is happening right now as I pen this piece!) in Allen, TX really broke my heart … over and over again!  I wonder sometimes … Do many Americans have a heart?!?  Why do we allow these two “care less” groups (NRA & supporters plus avaricious and greedy politicians) to control our lives?!?  Can’t we see that it is only a matter of time before some girl in our family is found with NO FACE?!?  Don’t make me say it … the hell with it … Are you shittin’ me?!?  You mean, “you” would rather support the second amendment and jeopardize my grandson’s opportunity at LIFE?!?  You’ve been bamboozled if so!

In thinking about possible solutions, it comes to mind that we should require a “special committee” of NRA execs and 2nd amendment advocates to come to the aftermath of one of these mass shootings and be required to take photographs of and write vivid descriptions of what they see.  The downside for this “special committee” members would no longer receive their salaries (taxpayers money) unless they completed their “homework” successfully.  There should be a special group consisting of victims and family members of victims of these mass shootings to correct that first group’s “homework”!  We need to put THEIR faces in the same crap that they are forcing American citizens to face EVERY freakin’ day!!!  I mean DAMN … is the greed element so decadently powerful that these “educated” and “smart” leaders can’t even see the consequences of such foolhardy policies?!?

Well, I’m done here and I’m going to climb down from my soapbox and ask you readers to spread these words (if you believe in them) and make them a part of your own “kitchen table” issues!  I can’t believe that I actually don’t want to travel stateside with all of the drama that is constantly brewing in the heads of these so-called “supremacists” and “right-wingers” who act more like supreme idiots than anything else!  Decisions … decisions …


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!

Embracing Diversity – Part II

What are we going to do with this Friday?!?  Not only enjoy it but appreciate it … and every day!  TGIF!  ¡¡Feliz “Cinco de Mayo”!!

Over the years of my professional life, I’ve experienced some incredible “learning techniques”.  One of those techniques is “acceptance”.  Now, no … I’m not going to sit there while an insane shooter is about to murder me and the students in my class (merely hypothetical), but I try not to be too judgemental when I hear a “story” different from the usual one or mine.  I look at the person and use my people skills that I’ve developed in classrooms from White Plains, NY to Cali, Colombia, South America and Sunrise, FL at AMEX and City College in Ft. Lauderdale!  I’ve had my opportunities to learn about differences which I still employ today.  It’s worth learning that all people are somewhat different …. and yet similar.  Embrace diversity!

One of my toughest “jobs” with the best working environment was at an international call center for American Express!  (And yes, I’m a product of my times and  my Dad and I didn’t want me to steal or sell drugs … so … I went to work!)  I got hired there as a “telephone service center” (TSC) representative for English speaking clients.  When the human resources department inquired about who in our group of new hires spoke Spanish, I raised my hand.  Shortly after, a small group of the “new class” was transferred to “the Spanish gate” where all calls that came in were in Spanish!  I did well … I worked hard!  I even got a few “complimentary calls” when Spanish speaking clients told management that they were very happy with my customer service … in Spanish! They had the best cafeteria at AMEX that I had ever seen with gourmet foods, vegetarian plates, outstanding beverages, and a gorgeous environment.  Ken Chenault was the CEO of American Express at that time!  They also had these teams and committees for employees to join to enhance the ambiance of the facility in Sunrise, FL.  It was like a city in and of itself.  I found my way to the “Diversity Team” and we got time off of the phones to plan events at the facility to educate our co-workers on the diverse elements in our society and our work place in particular.  I had met a Cuban saxophone player – Ed Calle – and we became friends on the jazz scene in Ft. Lauderdale and Las Olas Boulevard.  We (The Diversity Team at AMEX) hired Ed and his incredible Latin band to enhance our environment during an event for “Cinco de Mayo”.  It was great to see people “mixing and learning” about each other, our differences and similarities.  I took notes that I carry in my head to this very day!

Accepting others who are actually doing their best is important for all parties involved.  One may have an opportunity to learn about the challenges we face and share methods and techniques of overcoming such challenges.  My Dad – Big Ike – who had NO formal education and taught me how to read my first newspaper while sitting with him in his easy chair informed me of the importance of “learning about others”.  Every time I think of how he had “scooped up” my Mom, got on an Amtrak train to New York and never looked back except when he moved his mother from Florida to a room across the street from our building in “The Projects”, I am amazed at his abilities and interpersonal skills!!

When I meet people for the first time, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt FIRST!  Of course, if they burn through about three “doubts”, I move on.  I have learned that some people will lie in your face to appear larger than life.  I’ve learned to find my way through those charades most of the time.  I occasionally get “snagged” by a liar or bully until I find my way out of their web!!  Then, I never look back!

As I thumb through the pages of daily modern history, it saddens me that “the masses” are often turning on each other instead of on the “lying leaders” who steal from us right in front of our faces!  Can’t you see the enemy?!?  It ain’t us …  Ask Clarence Thomas and his corrupt “Mrs.” if they are feeling “fat and protected” by the billionaire that they have cozied up to over the past 20 years!!  Can you say, “Get out, Clarence … and take your wife with you!!”

In my pieces, I try to emphasize the importance of coming together to “save ourselves” and OUR home, Planet Earth!!  We won’t be able to blame anyone except OURSELVES for not coming together!  I still have hopes that this newer generation of leaders (vote wisely!) may be able to correct the quandary that these selfish previous and current leaders have us in!!  I’m just sayin’ …


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!! I love humanity!!

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