A Note to My Mom …

Happy Friday, All!  I hope those of you who utilized Thanksgiving as a time to rekindle kind spirits, visit and be with family or friends, and enjoy the comfort of a good home with good foods and beverages enjoyed the time together.  So, I KNOW that you can politely say “Thank You!” for the many many blessings.  TGIF in a fine tone of voice.

I pretty much spend this time of year alone.  I don’t like going to “look” for people to hang out with during these spiritual holy days.  I used to go to a good childhood Friend – Peter Zachary RIP – and his Family for the “holy days” … even Hanukah.  For me, it’s better to be alone than take the chance of experiencing some unnecessary negativity … from ANYONE!  I know that it’s not easy to be “content” or “happy” when you are alone, but I can … I simply can!  I’ve HAD to do it a few times in my life.  There were a few times when I didn’t see people whom I actually knew for several months.  No … I didn’t “grin and bare it”, I went inside.  I also know that the “inside” of some people is a place that they don’t want to be.  Some don’t even know how to get there!  Many folks have been driven outside of themselves so often that they are not sure who they are anymore.  Not a journey that I’d even want to begin, let alone complete.

You know, as the youngest in my original family I got to see a lot.  And still, I had to star in my own family dramas from time to time … rebelling, testing boundaries, and just acting up.  On November 6th, 2005 at about 1 am, Marietta Dolores took her last breath.  I had just left the hospital’s hospice ward while she remained in a coma until expiring.  As soon as I had driven a half hour or so back home, my cell phone lit up in the darkness of the City due to power outages across South Florida caused by Hurricane Wilma.  I hurried back to the hospice to bid her a fond adieu and went back home before going to report to work.  I didn’t stay at work long … I couldn’t …

So this Thanksgiving note is for her.  My Dad was like the “hammer” once provoked by one of his children’s stupidity or selfishness.  My Mom did the “clean up” with lots of love in whatever condition she found us in.  I remember hiding under the bed once because I knew my Dad couldn’t fit!!  That did it!  He got a hold of one leg … and the rest was a blurry teary history.  “Big Ike” didn’t play once you had provoked him and he had gotten angry!  Discipline was of the utmost for him.  However, he was very lenient with his two daughters.  Once, my oldest sister actually cursed at him!!  I was like, she must have a death wish!  But this time he just walked away.  From what I can remember, he never spanked his girls …  My Mother loved him for that, too!

We were well-raised as a family.  We all HAD to sit down at the tiny dinner table in the kitchen of the three-bedroom apartment in the Winbrook Housing Project.  No, you could NOT eat in your room or in the living room!  We EACH had our seat at the dining table.  We said “Grace” before every meal that we ate together, Dad’s doing with Mom’s lead.  I liked it.  I felt an integral part of “The Cook Family”.  I felt the love, especially during the Holy Days which included Thanksgiving.  We had Saturday outings together as a family to places like Bear Mountain State Park in Upstate New York and often met up with other families from The Winbrook Apartment Complex with kids of similar ages as us four.  It would get so “good” sometimes, the adults would even let us go off on our own and enjoy the Park’s amenities which included boating and horseback riding!  But as we all know, some of the “kids” turn out different than what the parent(s) wanted.  It’s pretty much a crap shoot from the parent’s perspective though the responsibility for providing a safe and nurturing (free from bullying) environment for the young ones to have their best chance at life is definitely solely on the parent(s).  My parents did their best … with each of us.  It’s just that I have taken on the responsibility that they set out on … being the best that I can be.  And yeah, I had to fight back sometimes against bullies (still do from time to time!).  So, confidence and courage must be instilled in the “kids” so they learn and know how to protect themselves spiritually and emotionally. (I accompanied Mom and Dad to Bethel Baptist Church frequently!)

The Colorado Springs shooter had had his name changed due to his horrific experiences of being bullied … even online … and abandoned by his father at a tender young age … 2 or so …  His mother then put on her “convict coat” and received multiple charges including arson.  Now, these aren’t excuses but they are REASONS why parenting should be taken seriously.  A parent or parents can really mess their children up by letting them be bullied and not teaching them the proper defense mechanisms.  At some point, a victim of this pathological family behavior coupled with being bullied via an online account characterizing him as an “abused Asian transexual” or something extremely hurtful like that is going to snap.  While “Aldrich” (formerly Brink before a legal name change) says that he is “non-binary”, his father said, “…we don’t do gay!”  So, imagine where his various psychological states had been as he tried to navigate his way and “grow up”.  Still, it seems that the “red flag laws” weren’t exactly helpful after charges were dropped that had been filed by his mother after he threatened to blow up their home with a homemade bomb, perhaps dropped by his own mother.  You see, being a parent is more than saying it or taking credit for it … you actually have to BE one … responsible and accountable and all that other stuff.  Sometimes, people hold on to a child like a pawn in a chess game or a trophy of some sort without ever being a full-time parent.  This is an unfortunate quagmire of misdeeds, lies, frustration, and unaccountability.  What else could they expect from this burgeoning monster?

I’m simply trying to elucidate the importance of how good parenting can increase a child’s chances of becoming a stable citizen of the universe, perhaps worthy of procreating another decent human being.  A stable family unit is extremely important.  If you are not “ready” to become a parent, then DON’T!!  It’s all cute and fun until the “kid” acts out uncontrollably by hurting others … as “it” has been hurt, maligned even.  So, I thank my Mom for choosing my Dad, a true partner, to help me along my way!  I’m grateful for ALL they showed us … even their “mistakes” as they found and fought their way through a racist system and society so I could come out okay and thrive!  I’m grateful that I don’t need a lot to be happy now and can manage my way through my life with as little hurtful, hateful drama that often appears in families like this “kid” …

So, as we move through this “holy day season” be sure to SELF reflect that YOU are doing a good job at being the best that YOU can be!  It’s truly a blessing!!  You’ll see … trust me!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading … it means a lot to me … and hopefully, the world!

No! NOT This Malarkey … AGAIN!!

Yeah, yeah, Y’all!  Happy Friday and a TGIF to each of the readers of this blog!!  Thank youse very kindly!

I know the whole world has heard that #45 is going to play his hand at fooling still more “dumb” Americans … to vote for him as the republican (Retrumplican) party candidate for president of a democracy formerly called The United States of America … hmmpfff!  I mean, how can ANYONE fix their brain to think that this modern-age monster can lead anything, not to mention a country?  If any former president had publicly stated and defended saying, “Just grab ’em and kiss ’em!  Grab ’em by the *****!  You’re (I’m) like a rockstar!”  … they wouldn’t be considered for anything except an in-depth mental health evaluation!!  It’s hideous just to listen to this moron speak!  And then “people” clap!!  WTF!!!  

This guy was advocating not only the destruction of one of the last if not strongest democratic nations today but with leadership, help, and direction of white supremacists!  And “anyone” wants him to ruin this nation again?!?  No … PLEASE don’t do this!!  I didn’t say “run” … I said RUIN!!  You might ask, “What is it that Americans want?” When answering this question, we MUST take into account the fact that “the American Experiment” involves multiple ethnic, religious, and “culturally diverse” groups of people!  As I listened to former President Barack Obama warn us, it became clear that democracy is being threatened worldwide!  He concluded, “If we don’t learn to live together, we’re going to destroy each other …”  Do you think that some people actually want us to destroy each other?!?

PLEASE, not the same malarkey from a creature who is facing multiple legal challenges?!? LOCK IT UP!!

Please try to find ways to get the country to function as a democracy.  The world is watching!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading …

THIS Is YOUR LIFE! #Notamovie

Happy Friday, again, Y’all!  Does anybody know how many more Fridays we’ve got left?!?  Okay, no pessimism!  TGIF!!  BAM!

“It’s like we’re heading for climate crisis hell!  And our foot is STILL on the accelerator!” stated Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations.  Can WE hear him?!?  Can YOU hear him?  It’s like people are so caught up in their greed, competition, and horrifyingly toxic behavior (ie. Marjorie Taylor Green and company) that WE don’t even care about our own future, let alone our children, and grandchildren’s futures.  A few days ago, Mr. DeSantis, the governor of Florida stated after he had won a substantial victory, “There will be no room for “wokeness” in Florida.  Wokeness will die in Florida!” … or something to that effect.  Now, being an African American male born and raised in the USA, I don’t even want to visit a place where “being aware” aka “wokeness” is on the chopping block.  When I heard that, it became clear that this is the first of his political messages as he seeks the 2024 presidential nomination for the republican party.  In other words, civil rights are NOT something to be entertained too seriously in Florida.  And of course, if DeSantis has his way, the entire United States will be “sleeping” on his watch so that he can “do what he does”!  Many Americans walk around in a haze anyway because they don’t know the history of THEIR own country and are unable to determine if their rights are being taken away (ie., Roe vs Wade).

It is also clear that the entire world is in a state of upheaval!  As Mr. Guterres and his faith in the young people of the world with their desire to live in a habitable place are promising says, he will attempt to hold the “leaders” of the world accountable.  Now it seems that the less developed countries which are suffering the brunt of the effects of the climate crisis are asking for compensation!  That compensation is calculated in dollars and cents … MONEY!  So, we will be back where we started in this …. fighting over how much MONEY will heal the Planet when the clear solution is to STOP polluting it.  Yet, we ALL know that no amount of money can change people’s minds to save their own arses!  THAT’S the sad part!  Many of us have been spun dried so many times that we don’t even care if we get “wet” anymore!  And … THAT’S NOT FUNNY!  This is YOUR LIFE!

Sometimes in my deepest meditation(s), I almost wish that things would get so messed up on the Planet that we ALL take a fall into oblivion … with the leaders!!  I mean, if you were “God” or some other omnipresent being, wouldn’t YOU want to see an end to this “human drama” as we become so obsessed with something “manmade” like money rather something entirely different and superior to money … OUR PLANET!  I see people writing and speculating during elections to take “our country back” …  I’m like, these Mofos don’t even know that “our country” used to belong to some other people … Native Americans!  Yet, even though we KNOW this, our brains are too contaminated to UNDERSTAND this … hmmppff!  While I live out my retirement in a very humble yet satisfying manner, I do what I can to enlighten the “sleeping humans” who only hear and pay attention to political slogans that are hurled around like confetti by the so-called “world leaders”.  Have you thought about any of this yet?!?  I have a grandson, whom if he survives the world’s “malarkey”, might want to be able to live out HIS life, too!!  Do people even think about that anymore?  We are all caught up in our personal “dramas” that we don’t even have the time to “care” about our future … hmmppff!

In closing, see what YOU can do to pass on peace, love, harmony, and basic human decency and care for ourselves and our Planet …  It belongs to ALL of us!

Thanks for reading …

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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 … 

AFFIRMATIONS FOR 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?

Peace,

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!!

Peace,

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 …

Peace,

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!!

Peace,

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!!

Peace,

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!!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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