A Little Gratitude Goes A Long Way . . .

keep calm beatles

Happy Early Monday morning … if you are reading this around 7:30am which is the time I am expected to pick up my Jeep Compass from the repair shop. Organizing all of the business locations for the repair shop and Enterprise, who provided me with this incredible SUV/Truck 2015 Chevy Traverse as part of the insurance, to drop the rental off required a bit of attention … and help! I had a little help from my friends! Thanks!

Needless to say, as one goes through an accident, small fender-bender, the paper work and costs for everything and filing and completing claims with ones insurance company and repair shop, I wondered how I would do it. I spent hours trying to get money into my account so the rental could be set up on it which finally came from one of my bosses at the call center. He transferred the funds into my account needed for the deposit to hold the vehicle once he learned of my need. Interesting enough, yesterday was his birthday, young kid who served in the Gulf and is IT coordinator at the call center. I am grateful he offered that urgently needed help because I need a car to go to work!! Grateful for “Kimo” as the boys call Nik at work, … he’s a Greek American. He told me to pay him back when I’ve got it …

“A little help from my friends . . . ” So, last Friday, I was trying to get the e-mail done the night before and had saved it in my “draft” file so that when I got up in the morning, like today, all I had to do was finish it and send it. Well, I finished it, copied and pasted it to the blog at Educational Excellence … but forgot to send the e-mail out!! So around, 2pm Friday afternoon, I noticed a “missed call” from Vetalle Fusilier out of DC but since I work on the phones, I couldn’t answer nor return the call. Shortly afterwards, I got a text from “Vee” asking me if I was alright because he hadn’t gotten the e-mail from me and EE!!! I quickly replied that I had posted my link on Facebook but thought I had sent it out. When I checked, it was still “saved” in “drafts”!! So, I went back into my e-mail … from work … and hit “send”. A little help from my friends, I’m telling you!! Rafael Ventura Rosa usually hits me up when he doesn’t receive his e-mail from me and EE, and … not only do I appreciate it, but it makes me feel pretty good inside!

So, also Friday morning, I was coordinating with Robert “Bobby” Schulman, my old elementary school class mate from White Plains, since I had asked him if he could help me with this $500 deductible which I need to pay to the repair shop as soon as I finish sending this out. He agreed, “my brother from another mother”, and I sent him the information and received a confirmation that the funds had been placed in my account!! (This is the same friend who, two years ago, when I had mentioned that my mother didn’t have a plaque on her grave-site in the Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY, told me he would cover the $1,500.00 cost to create, produce and place the plaque … then fly me up for an impromptu ceremony at the Cemetery where Mom, Dad, my sister Barbara and grandma Mattie are buried!) We are in touch again, though we had lost contact like “Zack” and me had for like over 25 years … still friends …

The simplest prayer ever, which I say to my Creator each morning, is “thank you” …. I am truly blessed … with a little help from my friends! Thank you all … you know who you are!

Peace,

John I. Cook

It’s All Relative . . . Isn’t It?!?

Paulo Cohuelo

Happy Friday, All!

Every time I look around each day, I am inclined to see the marvels of the universe. Where do we humans fit in? Now that we’ve … er uh … “we’ve” created our own “world”, so to speak, what will we do with it? Is there an end to “progress”? That’s what “they” say about heaven … that is our final stop!! Believe it … or not?! Reincarnation theorists and believers say that we will come back as something … or someone … else! What do you think. Should our “next” experience be something that shapes our everyday adventures? Are WE all related? It’s the kind of thing that makes me go “hmmmmm” … so …. T.G.I.F.!

Have we truly already entered the “space age” … right here on Earth?!? We have drones now that can do nearly anything, fly almost anywhere. Rockets and space crafts land on the Moon and orbit the Earth …. even landing on “space stations”!! I got into this 2015 Chevy Traverse last night that GEICO provided for me as part of my insurance benefits, and the thing has so many “bells and whistles” that I couldn’t figure half of them out!! Even lights and fancy designs, mobile device connections … not to mention safety features like air bags everywhere!! I heard that Michael Jackson has earned an awful lot of money DEAD that people can’t even make while they are alive. Am I rambling yet?!? Of course, y’all!! Is it all relative? I mean, if you are rich or poor … fat or skinny … happy or sad … it is relative depending on what you are used to … where you are coming from … and … where you think you or “we” are going when we leave “here”! I know I am rambling now … just trying to make a point!!! Still not sure of what it is, heh?!

When I was younger … like in elementary school, my hopes and dreams were very simple. Get home from school without losing my books or getting into a fight. Then, in junior high school, I was concerned with being “first” trombone in orchestra or the best football player or basketball player! At prep school, I was concerned with “losing my identity”. College was even more different because I wanted to keep my GPA high enough to continue to receive my scholarship monies while I worked, too! It’s all relative to where you are in life, and, what you think about your life … or “life” in general, not to mention “life after death”! Don’t worry, I am just philosophizing … not contemplating ending my life … ’cause I am enjoying the journey. Even last night in yoga, Leiza, our instructor/yogi kept saying, “It is not the destination, it is the journey that counts!” Philosophize on THAT one … if you will!

Are “we” all related somehow? My friends with the Brahma Kumaris teach that we are each spirits of light and energy in our most basic form … and that, indeed … this is a journey. That’s why I like them. The spiritual foundation of “the church” talks a lot about peace and love and helping each other along this journey … regardless as to where we are in our individual journey … and regardless of our destinations. Or … do we ALL have the same destination?!?

‘nough said, enough philosophizing. Thank you all for reading, passing me and EE on to others … and for just being yourselves … Thank you! Have a great weekend.

Namaste

John I. Cook

Appreciation . . . It’s a Good Thing!!!

thank you

It’s Hump Day, y’all!

A tropical storm called “Gonzalo” hit up Antigua yesterday. No threats for us in SoFlo yet. Just a couple of days ago, a grandmother and her grand daughter lost their lives when the little girl slipped on the side of a canal in their backyard and fell in. Her grandmother, who cannot swim, jumped in to save her ….

So Tuesday, a father was watching his children – a 2 year old girl and an older little girl – and stepped inside the house for just a moment to get a glass of water … When he came out, the children had disappeared and somehow … fallen into a lake at their Miami neighborhood! It only takes one second … to NOT appreciate someone or something …. and then … they are gone!! Neighbors say that they have NEVER seen the children left alone! Both parents are devastated.

Is it true that we humans don’t appreciate what we have … as little as it may be … until “they” are gone?! So, here’s a tip … appreciate what you have today … you may not have “it” tomorrow. There are so many things to be grateful for that we often take everything for granted. Family members … a father or mother … a daughter or a son … How about your OWN life? Are you grateful for that, too?!? I hope so. In today’s world, people seem to take friendship and kindness for granted. Why? Are we becoming less civilized as a result? Do you say “Thank you!” when someone holds a door open for you to pass through?! I hope so … though I have witnessed many a person walking through as if somebody “owes” them something? How awkward is that moment when you say “Hello!” to someone and they don’t respond?! Don’t lose your appreciation for “kindness” just because someone else does! Keep pushing the “good stuff” … ALWAYS!

Have a great Hump Day!

Peace,

John I. Cook

Yours Is Coming . . . Or May Be Here Already!

nobel sketch

Happy Monday, All!

It has been a much needed weekend to regroup and relax and continue with my regular routines of hitting the gym, tutoring and enjoying friends downtown. This weekend was cool, driving a rental car from Enterprise, which was a component of the excellent insurance coverage that I have with GEICO. Have you every wondered … especially when something unexpected happens … “Why me?!?” Don’t spend too much time on that one … bad stuff happens to good people, too! Don’t you ever forget it, please. Several friends have responded when learning of my challenges and I appreciate your concern, kind words, help and support. It is so nice to have friends like many of youse guys!

So, naturally, my first thoughts were: “What could I have done differently to avoid what happened?” Not too much, especially since the past is most often designed to teach us something. I got a nice dose of “patience” thrown at me as well as a touch of “figure this out!” I tried to stay focused on what my life is all about … my health, my work and my spiritual development …as I do everyday. These all help me get through the tough times. Trust me, I plan on sharing it in the near future once some of the “volcanoes” erupting in my life subside. Then, I read an e-mail from one of the readers, Rafael Ventura Rosa, a recent and long time friend since I have been here in SoFlo. He’s the kind of guy, with a background in law, who knows the things that are important to me as it seems we share similar passions. The article was about the Nobel Peace Prize winners, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi. This is their time as they EACH dare to step out and talk about “peace”! Yes, this is close to my heart and has become a passion of mine as well.

Malala is a seventeen year old Pakistani school girl who, when a Taliban soldier asked for her on a bus and shot her in the head, not only survived but is still able to tell her “story”!! Amazing is the correct word here! Has your time “come” when your “claim to fame” is revealed to YOU?! I think hers has! The second recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2014 is an Indian gentleman who is a children’s rights campaign activist, Kailash Satyarthi. These two, while not contemplating their “destinies” as peace prize winners, have been thrust into the limelight of peace-workers on an international scale! Their time has come … are we each working on our “times” … or will it surprise each of us, too? We need to believe that our blessings are coming; we each need to believe that we have a divine purpose in our lives; and we each need to encourage each other so that our blessings continue to flow.

Have a wonderful day …

Peace,

John I. Cook

“Cops Gone WILD!!”

cops gone wild

Happy Friday, y’all!

I’m about to yelp it into the skies above … T.G.I.F.!!!

What a week it’s been … but it’s over!! A lot of work at my day job … phone work is tough … gotta let stuff “roll off your back” ’cause people get cranky when you call them. I always try to be on time … and … yesterday, since I was rushing at a traffic light with the right on red, I accidentally bumped a lady in front of me! I was late to work for sure and … there is all that stuff that goes into an automobile claim, especially time and money!!! Still, I rise … Thanks for all your help and support, y’all!

Okay, yeah… there was a cop there who pulled over. The woman was a senior who was on her way to the bowling alley which is right next door to the office where I work. Nothing wrong with bowling at 9am … if you’re a senior. She was so cautious at that intersection, that I was in shock to see her move into the intersection … then STOP! I swerved to miss her vehicle, which she stopped because she said she saw an “unexpected vehicle”, but clipped her rear left bumper with my front right one! For all practical purposes, I was in the wrong …

So, I saw on the news just a couple of days ago, that outside of Chicago an African American man with his “babies’ momma” was stopped by police. Somehow, the focus went from the woman, who was driving, to the man who was a passenger in the front seat … kids were in the back. The police begin by telling him to get out of the vehicle … which he refused! He hadn’t done anything wrong, and, in my opinion (cause it’s happened to me) this was a power play on the part of the “cops”! Now, some of you may remember that my father worked in law enforcement with Pinkerton Detective Agency (armed guard unit) as well as was an auxiliary officer for the White Plains Police Dept. So I am NOT against “cops” or law enforcement. I believe that we MUST hold them accountable since many of them have proven time and time again to NOT be so trustworthy!!

Last story … it was in Brooklyn a few days ago … caught on videotape. Two cops are “stopping and frisking” an African American male and one cop draws his hand away from the man’s pocket and pulled his hand back from him. You could hear on videotape the man saying, “Give me my money back!!! Give me my money back!!!” The Brooklyn officer refuses, and, instead … takes out his pepper spray and sprays the man in his face!!! Then the man’s girlfriend steps forward and tells the cop to give the man his money back. He pepper sprays her, too!!!! This is a clear case of “Cops Gone Wild!!!” Be careful out there, ask law enforcement officials appropriate questions, like the aforementioned (Give me my money back!) But be prepared for consequences and be prepared to put it on video! Here in South Florida, they have begun to require police officers to wear cameras so that they may be held accountable for THEIR actions, too!

Peace,

John I. Cook

“Just When You Thought It Was Safe . . .”

locked heart

Happy Hump Day, yeaaaahhhhh!

Yes, I got up early to watch the lunar eclipse … I wasn’t able to see the Moon and the Earth and the Sun the way they appear in those professional photographs. I live a bit West of the Ocean and most of my view of the sun rising was obscured by local foliage. So be it. I did get to see the red hues in the nearby clouds and sky as the sun rose over the Atlantic …

Now, I know you guys know the “JAWS” movie and the expression, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in to the water ….”. So, I want to share something with you all since I have shared so much already about this particular topic. It is hard to talk about it but for myself, it is important to be honest … as honest as I can … regarding things … “people, places and things” … that touch my heart. I am the kind of guy that feels stuff … like rejection or harshness … or just plain old ignorance. I also feel positive energy, vibes and love! Now, I know how to handle those things while “feeling the feeling”, if you know what I mean. I may shed a few tears, I may become melancholy, (even excitedly happy!) … but I don’t become violent … or self-destructive in response to certain disappointments in life … You’ll see what I mean in a moment.

So, you guys remember when I bragged on how my daughter was moving down here?! She did … she even got a job and her own studio apartment in Boca, since she had brought her own Jeep Liberty down with her on the Amtrak Auto Train. You know, we did okay for a while … I picked her up with her significant other from Holy Cross Hospital where she had undergone a needed surgery. My sister even helped to identify a doctor for her here since she was in Connecticut when she first learned that she needed immediate medical attention. So, we all pulled together to make that happen here in SoFlo. We (Ayanna and I) began to communicate a little bit though we hadn’t been around each other since her late teen years when she came to visit when I first moved here. Before then, we hadn’t been in each others proximity since she was like 4 years old … just before I moved to Cali, Colombia, South America to teach … and get over a very uncomfortable divorce with her mother. Soon, the talking turned to texting and more and more time went by in between. Finally, one day when I was trying to connect her with a good friend here who was helping her with yet another “personal issue”, the bottom fell out. It was late one weeknight, our conversation wasn’t going so well. She wanted to talk negatively to me about someone … a friend of mine whom I had introduced her to … to help with that “issue” I mentioned. I don’t do that ….

So, I told her that she should call this person, since communications had gotten interrupted and she still needed this friend’s help with that issue. Then, when she asked me if I wanted to know about all the communication problems between she and my friend and I said “No!”, things went very poorly. She hung up the phone on me … later sent me a very hurtful text … and then blocked me on Facebook!! This form of communication leaves a bit to be desired … texting and hanging up the phone on people. Last I heard, she had gotten laid off, moved out of her studio and went to South Carolina. I sent a text and got no response …nearly a week later. I am cool … I ain’t no fool … feelings are real but they are NOT facts … So, I keep moving and growing … spiritually!

Have a wonderful Hump Day and enjoy the rest of your work-weeks!

Peace,

John I. Cook

Don’t Let The Devil Rob You!

liar

Happy Monday all!

It is another opportunity to “be you”! Are you proud of that?! I mean, everybody can’t be the president or the best athlete or the richest person on Earth. But … we each can be “ourselves” … don’t let anybody rob you of that, especially “the devil”!

Yesterday, I woke up early to get my day started after a fun night out with “dem boyz” aka my friends at Capone’s Night Club. So, while I was awaking and listening to a tel-Evangelist, I heard the message: “Don’t focus on your problems, lest you become hypnotized and paralyzed by them … which is actually the “devil” at work”, literally, robbing you of your self esteem, your sense of self worth and even your motivation and justification for being on this Earth!! Of course, the other “negative forces” hone in and assist if one allows them, to reduce ones idea of believing that she or he has just as much right to pursue ones dreams as any other person, no entitlements for ANY reason. That’s the hardest to enforce, since the human character “often” succumbs to that opportunity to be “better than someone else” or in control of someone’s well being, if only from time to time … or for a little while!

Expressions like: “The Devil is a liar!” are conceived because people realize that there is indeed some negative energy at work in the universe! Good things seem to take the “back seat” because of society’s direction and individuals need to be “on top”. Interesting thing is that often times, these “individuals” and institutions run by such individuals take the selfish and “I am in this for myself” attitude rather than working for the good of human kind. Just last night on “60 Minutes”, there was a story of the pharmacy’s pricing of the best “cancer drugs”. One gent spoke and he simply said, “We set the cost of the medicine to reflect the hard work and research that goes into making it as well as the cost of producing it!” He never mentioned that cancer patients should be able to AFFORD this medicine. Finally, one critic of the pharmacies producing various cancer arresting drugs mentioned that the pricing should also take into account the financial situation/age of the people who need these drugs!! It was quite clear that there was a “high profit” motive in setting such prices. Could that high profit motive be “the devil”??! One doctor said, “It’s simple. Either the patient gets the money required for the drug, or the patient dies.” It was revealed in a comparison study that the price for the SAME drug is half in Canada and other European countries!

So, take this Monday, y’all … all y’all … and make the most of it. Prove the devil wrong and show your Creator some love. Have a great day and a wonderful week.

Peace,

John I. Cook

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