The Danger of GREED!

Happy Friday … at least from where I sit!!  And, I don’t think that this is an accident … so … TGIF with me!!  TGIF, DONE!

Well, as the States and its “experiment in democracy” faces a full-throttle challenge, I continue on my journey “to be the best that I can be”!  I am grateful to be alive and have the opportunity to contribute to this task.  I’m sure that you’ve noticed already, but there is so much controversy, destruction, and chaos prevalent that the average “Jane” and “Joe” can’t even think straight anymore!!  There in Russia, we have a person in power (not a leader) who seems to be living out his worst nightmares as he imposes his will on Ukraine!  Not to mention that “Pewtin” (lol) is affecting the entire Planet!!  As I sat Thursday afternoon watching specials of a program, “Call to Earth Day!”, I wondered what call would reach this monster.  His behavior like #45 has taken humanity to another all-time low.  I don’t know which was worse, though we can agree that neither is acceptable, 400 years of slave trade focusing on Africans … or … the attempted extermination of hundreds of millions of Jews!  The Planet is at another more comprehensive “watershed” where we humans can’t seem to use our intelligence to get our VALUES straight.  I mean, the country was really an experiment that took off nearly unharnessed.  Now we are faced with the repercussions of having a capitalist society and world with no “ceiling” or limitations to ensure that everyone is given a good opportunity to actually “live”.  In other words, we should be concerned that everyone gets “enough”.

In our capitalist world, there are NO LIMITS.  Ask Jeff Bezos who has agreed to contribute several billion dollars to help “save the planet” from human greed, consumption, and destruction.  In one segment, a woman named Sylvia Earle, a marine biologist, and her family have begun a very strong and effective program to refurbish, if you will, the natural ingredients of the Planet’s oceans.  I mean, I would love to see the ocean and its floor around Tahiti!! Do you think that some of the wealthiest inhabitants should “give something back” to the “world” if you will, that allowed them (along with their work and investment skills, perhaps) to get so much of what we capitalists have become accustomed to calling “wealth”?  Can you think of anyone??? Hmmm??? Is it YOU?!?  Anyway, as the youth have been saying at the end of these “Call to Earth” segments, “What’s yours?”

I know that it might be hard if you are accustomed to lying incessantly and being lied to, even more, you may not think that “TRUTH” matters. Trust me … it does!  So, as our flawed world continues to turn … thanks to the Creator maybe we can find some love for the Planet we live on as well as for the other creatures that we cohabit with the Planet.  Don’t just be “greedy” … find a way to GIVE BACK.  It creates a better planetary vibration!

Peace … and Blessings!

John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!

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  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 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!!

I Came Here to Heal

Happy Friday, Y’all! A special shout out to my friends in Ft. Lauderdale – Joel, Johnny Ace, Candy, CeCe, Seth, and the “Crew from Capone’s Night Club” and downtown FTL – in hopes that y’all literally “weathered the storm”! TGIF with me!  Done Deal!

Most of our lives were molded by our genetic makeup AND our particular environments and experiences.  Some of us had no choice in where we “landed”.  Others had plans in place already as well as the means to accomplish the goal of preparing their offspring to be ready to “run things”, you dig?!?  What about you?  Where were you supposed to wind up in “The American Experiment “?  You DO know that the country was an experiment at its inception with the Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and later the Constitution.  Yes, all an experiment.  But who was this country built for?  Who was conducting “the experiment”?  Who was the land pilfered from through trickery, greed, and superior weaponry?  If you haven’t answered these questions for yourself, you just might be living a lie.  Yet, I do know folks who are content with living and spreading lies.  Well, I’ll be damned!!  Imagine what life must have been like for farm hands in the Dirty South like my Dad, an African American male born into a status that was “one step above” slavery, newly manumitted, if you will?!?  Yeah, I had it a bit easier because of a soldier like him and his Dad, Robert Cook.  My Mother, Marietta Dolores, was his guiding light.

When I started to travel in my early retirement, I didn’t want to live the capitalist lifestyle of “making more money until you die”!  That’s what life looked like for me in my retirement if I had stayed in the States as I would NEED to work for someone else at one full-time job …  Or, if I didn’t want to work in my retirement like many other people living the “American Dream”, I could be homeless since my pension which I earned from endless days and nights and hours upon hours of work still wouldn’t cover the “American Bills”!!  LoL!!  That’s not really funny. While I wasn’t sure of my health as I traveled abroad after a biopsy revealed that I had cancerous granules in my prostate, I promised myself, since the granules were benign and not malignant that I would try to “heal myself”.  Physically, I had osteoarthritis and this prostate condition to deal with.  Spiritually and emotionally, I needed to heal from events in my life that had hurt me and restricted me from finding and enjoying happiness and peace in my life.  After traveling through Western Europe and then coming to Costa Rica, I continued writing, meditating, and praying.

Around 40 years ago after having a “honeymoon” baby with my ex-wife, my life was changed by a mother-in-law who had no respect for her “man” and told me that she would “take that (my daughter!) child away from me!”  I had never heard of such barbarism!  Yet, between her, my ex-wife who wasn’t sure of herself raising a child while trying to hurt me, and an extremely toxic environment in their homes, I had a constant struggle.  There were arguments and near physical fights over where our daughter would visit each weekend.  These women wanted to ruin my life, my family, and my happiness.  The envy and jealousy were clearly evident.  You bet it hurt while I continued to teach and coach at White Plains High School.  After her mother went to live with her grandmother, I tried to continue to stay in touch with my daughter.  These people made that really hard, too.  One afternoon, they “kidnapped” her in a car that I had to jump on top of as it sped away with my daughter inside.  The driver tried to shake me off of the top of the car in the parking lot of the City Park projects in New Rochelle, NY where her mother and stepfather lived.  It was non-stop drama EVERY weekend as these people would bully me for control of our daughter!!  Soon, things got worse and that family prevented me from seeing my daughter until we made an arrangement for visitation and child support.  That didn’t work either as I was still functioning, working, and living …  Once, my ex-wife’s lover surprise attacked me at her grandmother’s home in Norwalk, CT by running out of a bedroom when I had dropped off my daughter after she had spent a weekend with me in New York!  I was like “WTF”?!?  “I’m still here, Bitches!” THEY were still unhappy until my ex-wife ran away from New York to Virginia … with our daughter .. in an effort to keep her away from me!!  The drama was like a television series of the worst kind!!  And now, I’m trying to come to grips with the most recent drama where my daughter is not allowing my grandson to video chat with me.  She accused me of “being mean” to him while he was here because I yelled at him.  So, “she” wants me to believe that I spent a little less than $1,000.00 for my grandson’s passport and roundtrip tickets from Ft. Lauderdale to Costa Rica during his summer vacation … so I could be mean to him!! …  This is how “they” work … trying to make ME unhappy, crazy and using a child – my grandson – whom she wanted me to meet and get to know – to inflict the pain.  I need to stay away from this inhumane toxicity and embrace my retirement with open arms.  When my grandson was with me in Costa Rica, only ONE person EVER asked me how I was doing …  It was my grandson …  Fond memories, Caleb!!  I will continue to love and pray for him …

When “we” get hurt in our lives, we MUST heal ourselves or forever inflict selfish hurtful pain on those around us who try to love us.  This is the source of generational pathology passed on by unaware individuals who do not admit that they, too, have been hurt and abused.  Some people even think it’s heroic to deal with toxic others rather than embrace the truth that the other person is hurt and MUST heal, too.  How do we heal this hurt?  First, admit that one has been hurt.  Then, seek healing methods or professionals to counsel one back to reasonable mental health.  I like to travel, work out, listen to music and meditate.  Oh, I like to cook, too!  And I love to write …

So, when unnecessary drama appears in my life nowadays, I vacate the premises for my own self-preservation and happiness which only I am responsible for!!  You might not want to try this stuff at home or alone, but I am a soldier like my Dad was.  The only thing, I’m doing it alone …  No worries, I’m not complaining.  I’m proud of myself!  I might even treat myself to a trip to Medellin next weekend!!


John I. Cook, Director

ps. Thank you for reading!

When You Pretend to Have Mo’ Money …

Happy Friday, Yay!!  So, a cool “TGIF” might work, eh?!?  Vale!!

Do you know folks who want to keep up with the “latest” fads and fashions?  How about those who pretend (at least to “you”) that they are “rich”?!?  How ridiculous!!  And to measure a human life with a monetary amount … crude and rude!

Always something “new” to learn about us humans.  Greed is a demon as well.  Folks get carried away with that, too!  It can get so bad for some folks that they want to interact with “others” as if they are rich!!  What’s THAT all about?  Why does one need to feel “rich”?  That’s the allure of capitalism … everybody wants MORE!  Others “pretend” that they have more … in order to feed that demon!!  It seems to have infected many of our friends, family, and foes alike!!  So many lessons to learn for some of us!  I prefer to “pay attention” than to learn the hard way!!!  Did #45 really think that he would get away with “scheme after scheme on top of scheme”?!?  He did … and he still does!  I hope the legal system can check him, his family, and the cronies who employ that same ignominious technique!!  From where I sit, this “new way of thinking” … I use that term loosely here … simply allows “folks” to disagree with norms of behavior and even the law, sometimes … and make up a whole new narrative!!  This can become a problem for groups of people in a nation based on the concept of “laws”.  It can also be a problem for individuals who make up these groups of people, be it family or business.  For me, I try to live within my financial means and don’t need folks to think that I am “rich” financially!  I’m good!!  I prefer that people “think” that I am “broke” …  I’m full of surprises, too!  And of course, I sincerely thank several of you readers for your kindness, couches, and occasional help!!

I nearly gasped for air when I heard #45 say at a recent rally with a Q-Anon pin on his lapel that ” … America is no longer respected as an important country anymore …”  And to recall ALL of the dramatic stories from when he said that Pres. Obama was not a US citizen (birther bs!) and was an illegitimate president to how his NYC apartment “grows” when necessary, especially when applying for loans with great rates.  So, this is how one of the USA’s most recent leaders behaves … corrupt and criminal!!  I hope, though it’s late, that folks don’t emulate this sack o’ s**t!  With all of his many pending legal cases, “we” should be able to sink his ship!!

Very few people know how to apologize for their mistakes.  Then there are these “full-blooded fools” who insist that “they” don’t make any mistakes.  My Dad didn’t like a liar AND he never apologized … for ANYTHING!  But that’s because he was always “doing the right thing” for his family … all four of us in the Winbrook Apartments.  For a while, he even served as an armed guard in the very same housing project that we lived in!!  Do you think #45 will apologize?!?  Don’t hold your breath on that one …  “LOCK HIM UP!”

Have a great day, and a wonderful weekend, and try not to “fake the funk”, you dig?!?  Be REAL!!! RESPECT!!


John I. Cook, Director

So, What’s Next?!? American Politics, Stupid Stunts, and Fundraising

Happy Friday, mi Gente!  Here’s to hoping that you’re having a great week!  So, TGIF with me, if you will!  “Pura Vida!”

Yesterday was  Costa Rican Independence Day!  Hip hip … Hooray!  The story is quite interesting as to how a young “drummer boy” in the army eventually led the rebellion to liberate his country.  His name is Juan Santamaria.  The airport in Alajuela is named after him!  There were some “desfiles” or processions in various areas but nothing so commemorative here in Puerto Viejo that I saw.

In my retirement, I have found that if I have a few projects going to keep me busy and move my current living situation forward, I feel very comfortable.  After all, isn’t that why I worked so hard all these years?  Of course, it is.  Yet, I had a project of procuring my residency legally here in Costa Rica.  A while back, I had abandoned the idea and just decided to travel out of the country every three months as required for tourists and non-residents.  Yet, after being “stuck” in the process which I undertook on my own without any official legal help, a friend aka guardian angel informed me of the process where I was stuck with my background check – getting an apostille (official government approval) on my FBI Report and having it translated.  It is my LAST STEP in completing my application.  So, I am grateful to another “angel” who informed me of a company in New York that can help with the apostille process.  And, still to yet another one (angel) who informed me in conversation that I had to have my background check translated AFTER I get it with the proper apostille.  I’ve got about 30-plus days to complete the process after being given an extension by Migracion.

Meanwhile, back in the States, the “stupid politician stunts” continue!  Who sends South American immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard by plane?!?  Florida governor … Mark Duh-satan!!  How much money did he get donated to his political campaign to be the next president …  only the stars know!!  Between him and #45 who has gotten millions of dollars in donations based on the big lie and his legal defense, I don’t know who is the bigger (?) showman!!  It seems as if I used to tell my American History students that America is a business …  Imagine being the vice president of a country and a couple of bus loads of immigrants are dropped off in front of your home?!?  Just another “stupid stunt”!  I’m sure that you’ve noticed by now but folks do a lot of nasty stupid sh@t for money!!  It’s kind of like “prostitution” if you will … political prostitution even!!  How low can they go?!?  Then you hear these morons blaming the vice president for the lack of cohesion in Congress that might lead to a viable solution to this long-time concern of illegal immigrants on the southern border of Texas!!   Some of these political clowns use anyone and everything in their pursuits of political office in the United States of America …  The quality of leadership in the American political system has sunken as low as #45 and the MAGA group can make it … or not?!?  What’s next?!?

Try not to “pimp” yourself … for a price!  Just be a good person and seek to help those in need rather than always looking for a payout just for being a decent human being!!  I wonder what would happen if “we” sought to replace the use of money with “good deeds” … PERIOD?!?  It might take some time but there would be a “higher level” of human understanding, methinks!  What thinketh you?!?

Enjoy your weekend and try not to get “stuck” with stupid stunts to make a point!


John I. Cook, Director

ps. Thanks for reading!!

Don’t Stuff Your Feelings . . .

I just want to say Happy Friday, Y’all!  Youse knows the drill … if you will… TGIF!!  Thank you ALL very kindly!!

First, may I wish the Queen, Elizabeth II, of England a well-deserved rest … 70 years … that’s a long time to be “Queen”!!  Secondly, I want to give the Bidens and Obamas “props” for bestowing some decency and dignity to this “American Experiment”.  Some folks never heard that term – the American Experiment – and others could care less!  Yet, it’s hard to be a citizen of a country whose history and laws are not important and that one does not know.  Sheeesh!!  Ignorance IS bliss!!  The “first” African American president and his First Lady finally got their portraits finished and placed alongside the other “First Families” in The White House!  While class, style, intelligence, and dignity cannot be bought … or sold, I would agree with President Biden’s assessment of former President Obama and his ability to possess and display those rare characteristics of today’s world leaders!!  ‘Nough said!!

Have you ever wanted to say something or express a feeling like hurt or pain and were NOT allowed to do so?  Pretty uncomfortable, right?!?  Holding stuff inside contaminates one’s innards unless one knows how to digest the discomfort and toxicity.  When I was just a kid trying to learn how to manage my “angst”, my Dad used to ALWAYS suggest:  “Get a hobby or something …”  After all we had a “Hobby Shop” just up Post Road near the Projects!!  What a great idea!!  I started with wooden airplanes, then kites!  Soon, I graduated to making those tiny shiny model cars that you had to glue together!!  Soon after, in 4th grade at Rochambeau Elementary school, I took up the trombone!!  I continued playing until my freshman year at Princeton when my hometown group “The Whole Damn Family” opened for “Earth, Wind, and Fire” at Princeton’s Annual Cabaret my first year.  To this day, I still LOVE music … almost any kind of music!

Nowadays, I meditate on and ponder stuff so it doesn’t get the best of me.  Over the years, when I felt sad or exceptionally happy, I wouldn’t hold back!  I had the same challenge with anger.  I had to hone in on the sources of my anger and handle it better.  I still remember my Dad – Isaac Henry Cook – and how he must’ve overcome some tremendous odds in order to arrive in Harlem, NY post-WW II with his beautiful bride as they successfully escaped the “Dirty South” with help from friends and family who worked as porters on the passenger trains linking New York with Florida.  I took that same “train trip” a few times with one of my older siblings while my Mom and Dad and the other two kids rode in Dad’s two-tone pink ’57 Cadillac all the way from White Plains, NY to Tampa, FL.  That was often my summer treat or Christmas present during my childhood, whether in the car with the family or on the train with either Edna or Barbara (RIP) one of my two sisters.  I think back to when I was struggling with some personal issues and both my Mom and Dad stood firm with me, exhibiting a rare brand of tough love.  I needed the discipline to harness and develop my many gifts.  I know my Dad suffered as he watched his “baby boy” struggle with those damn demons!!  I could often see the pain etched on his face as he remained diligent to provide the basics for our family while Mom cleaned houses … (How could I dare let them down!)  So, I straightened up … real straight … stiff sometimes!!  But I still “let my hair” down and loved to dance and sing, play sports, and cheer for my favorite sports teams, often with my Dad who loved the NY Yankees and then The Mets!  (We watched a lot of baseball games on tv together as we couldn’t afford tickets to the stadiums to see the games in person.)

So, don’t stuff those feelings!!  Let them flow … it helps keep your emotions balanced, fluid, and healthy.  Of course, if you want to lift weights or run track to relieve stress and tension, do so!  Just don’t hurt anybody!!  When I meditate, and something makes me sad, I may shed a tear or two …  If I’m happy and grateful, I repeat “Thank You!” to the universe making sure that my feelings of joy flow, too!  I think my Dad had stuffed so much inside that it was the cause of his bone marrow cancer.  It ultimately claimed his 80-year-old life as he could no longer stand the pain …

Have a great day, a wonderful weekend, and a non-stuffy life!!


John I. Cook, Director

Thanks for reading!

Just In Case You Care …

Yes, yes, Y’all!  I’m at it again!  It’s Friday, right?!?  I’m living and breathing so I’m grateful right off the “rip”!!  TGIF with me, then!!  Thank you all very kindly!

Well, I’m here to tell you that while some parts of my life have been “unfair”, I still managed to learn some invaluable lessons.  One is “humility”.  I know for most people, humility may exhibit weakness or connote an “inferior” position.  Yet, for me, humility is almost like an x-ray … you get to see a person’s true character when given the opportunity to be arrogant, callous, or even a bully!  Sometimes, I get to “see” that some people begin to look for ways to consider themselves “better” than me or anyone else.  Right away for me, this type of behavior connotes some aspect(s) of this person’s low self-esteem or desire (need) to be better than others.  These are people who are not well-rounded and seek to take the upper hand when given the opportunity rather than demonstrate that they can “lead by example” and collaborate with others.  I know it’s tough sometimes to be seen as a follower.  I’m very particular about who I choose to emulate or follow as well as why “that” entity may matter to me.  While my humility misleads some to think I am weak or “misguided”, I still choose to display my humility for those who understand and have experienced how that helps to identify a true confident “leader” who is seeking excellence and NOT the upper hand.

Those of the readers who have been with me and my work as Educational Excellence know my “no-nonsense” style and approach to writing and what I advocate as Educational Excellence.  Mantras like “Know Thyself!” and “be the best that YOU can be” are integral to understanding what I do with Educational Excellence.  I speak out on things that others may shy away from or be ashamed or embarrassed to talk about or admit.  I also don’t “need” another entity to endorse me.  I have a “grassroots” approach to social science and “education”.  The “world” or universe … is my laboratory and I am seeking to contribute my love of peace, harmony, and humankind through the gifts and talents that I have been able to identify for myself!  Is that a bad thing?!?

Of course, our world is in turmoil as we humans have turned Planet Earth into an amusement park where “your guess is as good as mine”.  I applaud the people in position(s) to challenge these self-proclaimed leaders and advocate the interests of the WHOLE PLANET!!  People like Merrick Garland and Volodymyr Zelenski (Navalny, too!) who challenge our “modern monsters” and autocrats are great people.  We can’t let these “misfits” lead us to self-destruction!!  To witness American citizens making excuses for a former president who told over 30,000 LIES during his administration and is now suggesting that the FBI is dishonest as they try to retrieve confidential and top secret documents from this moron’s “beach house” is hideous!  Some complete morons compare #45’s stealing of government and taxpayers’ property to returning a library book late!!  This fool better be prepared to pay a big fine with his big mouth full of big lies!!  What a disease, all of this lying crap.  It seems like too many people have lost the capacity to tell the truth, to be peaceful … to be civilized.  Well, I won’t be quiet about stuff that bothers me and many others.  I will expose what irks me even if it comes from my own behavior or that of those family members who also disappoint me with their corrosive behavior!  I’ve got nothing to hide and I hope those who challenge me and my logic are prepared for an experience because I don’t back down.  I know I step out and speak up on some controversial ideas and topics but I have thought through what I say and it comes from a very confident and decent person … ME!

While I must admit that we have some “chronic crazies” in our world, I still have faith in and believe that there are more humble, honest, and talented people who have the continuance of humanity on the Earth, our home, as an important goal!  And you?!?  You don’t have to do anything, but let me do my thing … it shouldn’t hurt too much!


John I. Cook, Director

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