Still . . . “Stop The Violence”!

family yoga

Happy Friday, y’all! “Yes, yes, y’all!” T.G.I.F.!!!

Somehow, the weekends seem like mini-vacations to me sometimes. Now, I still go to the gym … maybe teach or write something … usually able to find something “enlightening” for me … hang out downtown FTL at “The Club House” even!! But when I have some great things to do like I have this weekend, I feel rather grateful!!

First of all on Saturday afternoon from 1pm – 5pm, one of my sister Edna’s friend, Sandy Noble also from New York and a retired Broward County Schools employee, is having a “Black Holocaust” event at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center on Fort Lauderdale’s Sistrunk Blvd. It seems that there will be a variety of education and entertainment (dancing and drumming and spoken word) there. I plan to attend. Then on Sunday, there is a World Peace Meditation at Arts Park in Young’s Circle here in Hollywood, FL, from 6 – 7:30pm. It is sponsored by some very good friends from the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Group Hollywood including Roz Reich. I understand that Sister Veronica who leads BK Florida will be in attendance, if not at the Miami BK Center! Looking forward to it.

Now you all know how much I have advocated attempts … every and all … to “Stop the Violence” and seek to share my meagre knowledge and “takes” on issues and events. I just like to keep myself thinking about improving human relations and inviting any interested others to read with me … and chime in, too! These next two “stories” are horrific at minimum. Over a week ago on the weekend, a young man came to his mother’s home in Davie to find her murdered in the bathroom with multiple stab wounds. She is a member of the famous “Halliburton family” and was married to a renown professor. The entire families mourn their unnecessary loss, though the murderer, a 20 year old convict of multiple home invasion cases, was finally found hiding at his girlfriend’s home in Sunrise, FL. He is clearly being charged with murder.

The most horrific incident that I’ve heard of lately was just a few days ago in Belle, FL, Gilchrist County, just 30 miles from Gainesville, FL. A father of a young woman fatally shot his own daughter and her six … yes SIX … children … ranging in age from three (3) months to ten years of age! According to Gilchrist County Police, this is not the first time that they responded to a call at that home for some sort of domestic violence. This time, it was for murders! As the police closed in on the father, Don Charles Spirit, he turned the weapon on himself and committed suicide. I just don’t understand the ease with which some folks commit cold blooded murder, especially on innocent children!!!

As difficult as it may seem, we must each do our part to “Stop the Violence” … yes, even while living in a world seemingly full of violence.

Peace be with you!

John I. Cook

Another Love Affair Gone Wrong?!?

R & J

Happy Hump Day …. yeahhhh!

As the school year continues and hurricane season looms in The Tropics, the POTUS authorizes and conducts air strikes against ISIL forces and is gaining support from many nations to challenge the terrorists in that region. So much going on while we live our personal lives to the fullest. Is anyone feeling any anxiety regarding the international arenas? How about in your own “hometown” arenas?? Is there anything “poppin'”?

Here in SoFlo, it seems that another love affair has gone wrong. Last weekend when Tanya Gonzalez, an employee at “Mojito Hut” in Bayside near the AA Arena, had finished shopping with her aunt at the Dolphin Mall or thereabouts in Miami, she and her aunt said good-bye for the last time. Tanya is … er uh … was a very attractive 28 year old Latin American woman that was very close with her family, including her biological father who flew down from the New York/New Jersey area as well as her mother’s “new” husband in Miami, who suddenly disappeared from the family’s radar. After that shopping trip with her aunt, she was supposed to go home and then meet up later with her aunt. That never happened. She also didn’t show up for work on Monday either. Suspicions rose and the ex-boyfriend, Roy Blanco, became the prime person of interest. Various reports had he and his mother renting a car for “work” first; then they rented a small watercraft that they were supposed to keep in the waters of Miami. Soon after, Blanco, the small boat then out of gas, a Siberian huskie and his mother were found in Key West hanging around an open field.

The search continued for Tanya as family members feared the worse when calls to her cell phone had gone straight to voice mail. No one had heard from her and soon … the ex-boyfriend and his erratic behavior, including the aforementioned car and boat rentals, drew suspicion. Neighbors near that field in Key West called the police to investigate the trio’s strange behavior in that field. As officials closed in, people in the area took note of Blanco’s mother’s behavior. One local gent described her facial expression as one that had seen a ghost! Soon, Blanco emerged from the woods wielding a knife, saying nothing to officials, and stabbed himself in the stomach. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but to no avail. His self inflicted wounds proved fatal.

Tanya Gonzalez’s new model BMW was found in Miami … with a body in the car. It was Tanya Gonzalez … What?!?! Now, amidst the grieving process, the family is also left with trying to figure out what happened, not to mention understand WHY this happened. Blanco and Tanya had been considered “exes” by the family, friends and media. So many co-workers,, friends and family members described Tanya as a very caring and peaceful person, responsible and close with her family … and now gone! Blanco’s mother was taken to a local hospital and is expected to be okay … and may be facing charges, depending on what the investigation unfolds. It just goes to show, as Tanya’s biological father wept and said, “Love your children every day! Hug them and kiss them … tell them how much you love them. Keep them safe . . .”

Peace,

John I. Cook

The Flow of Goodness

the flow

We’ve got a Monday on our hands, I am glad to say! I always try to keep looking “up” nowadays and sometimes looking past the challenge. Now I am like many people and try to avoid encounters where I have little or no control! It is not that I need to be in control of anything other than myself but it is more comfortable “knowing” the outcomes of your efforts. It can’t always be that way and I was fortunate enough to have come through such circumstances recently! It was like a miracle resulting from “faith” and “works” (biblical reference). Some of you regular readers may remember my piece “Stay the Course”. I had to put the same anecdote into practice the following week … last week.

I just remember my parents, especially my father, being on their knees nearly every night when I had gone into their bedroom to say good night. When I was much younger, like 9 or so, I used to sleep with my mother until I dozed off to sleep. She would often put me into my bottom bunk bed with my brother “Hank” on the top one. Yes, indeed, I was a “momma’s boy”. But my father still liked me … still supported my efforts … still dropped on his knees and prayed some nights with me right by his side. So, I know what faith looks like. Both of my parents went to work every single day … so I know what works looks like, too. They always taught me to be the best that I can be and to do the best that I can do. For me, this behavior is like “priming” the flow of goodness.

So, just remember, there are times when extreme faith … coupled with hard work … can yield the things that we need most in our lives. Of course, I want to thank each of you for reading, and, when moved to do so, passing me on to others!

Have a great Monday and a super week.

Peace,

John I. Cook

“I Want To Thank My Mother and My Father …”

proud mom

Happy Friday, All!

It is definitely in order for me today … this whole week … my whole life … T.G.I.F.!!! It’s been one of those weeks … though it actually started last weekend as I was trying to figure some things out with my finances, with an “ex” I was attempting to help and my own self-esteem. There were a couple of moments when I just wanted to talk to my Mother … I was actually looking around in the air for a sign … for a message … how should I handle the circumstances that I was in?! As I listened in meditations, I heard them BOTH say, “Make us proud son, make us proud!” I decided to do so … ‘nough said.

Where do we each get our values? How do we learn what is important to us? Is it trial and error? Is it, “Somebody told me!”? Is it, “I like doing this and it makes me feel good inside!” Or perhaps, “I am so special, I can do anything I want. I’ll figure the rest out later!” One of the things that has always intrigued me academically has been just this – where do we all get our personalities from? Are we born with it? Are we taught to be who we are, as many “socialization” theories suggest, learning our role from our role models … our parents?! Perhaps we have selected super heroes in our lives … The most beautiful actress or the wealthiest rap star … maybe the most ingenious entrepreneur?!?! Why do we want to be like “them” … someone else … and NOT ourselves?!? Can we each learn how to formulate that daily adventure of “defining ourselves”?

The verdict has been handed down in the Pistorius case where the “Blade Runner” was not found guilty of pre-meditated murder but still faces lesser charges involving his negligence in his behavior that early morning that Reeva Steenkamp was shot through the bedroom’s bathroom door … and killed. Would his parents be proud of this? How about Ray Rice and his wife Janay?!? After viewing the videotape for the second time and noticing the spitting that was taking place between the two … I mean … I’ve gotten angry a few times like it appears they BOTH were … but … I never “cold-cocked” a woman like that because she spit at or on me!!! In observing their behavior during their walk onto the “domestic violence” – trap of an elevator, and with Ray Rice’s gait as he followed her onto the elevator … waiting to spit in her face as she was trapped in the elevator, I could see that he was “setting her up” for something dastardly. Damn, Man!

Okay, okay … so this is what I am saying. Over the years, I have learned to ask myself over and over, “Would what I am about to do (or did!) make my parents proud of me?” Now, I also have some dear friends … Karen and Steve Bozzone … who let me stay with them some years ago while in the throes of battling one of my demons. They were very patient with me … they trusted me … they gave me a reason to at least think, “Would they be proud of me if I do this?” Nowadays, I have internalized a mechanism that keeps me on the “up and up”, humble, happy, honest … yes, and simple! All the complications that surround circumstances when “people become other people … act like other people” and avoid being “themselves”, usually ends up way more intrinsically dysfunctional (not achieving ones goals) than originally planned. I hope you get this … If not, shoot me a line or two! Let’s chat!

“Be yourself, because You are YOU!” – John I. Cook, St. Paul’s School Yearbook, June 1972

Peace,

John I. Cook

What Would YOU Do?!?

two

It’s Hump Day again ….

Today is also the peak of hurricane season in this area, and the storm trackers are busy noting developing tropical storms near the peninsula of Florida. The rain comes . . . and the rain goes … every day around 4pm …. and sometimes overnight! Flooding is a constant reminder that the entire state is surrounded by water on three sides … and it shows.

Each of us has our demons to deal with and some of us can identify with others who struggle with the temptations of the modern world. Often times, a crime is committed out of greed and selfishness. Other times, such behavior is spurned by a desire to control others. The “ego” is usually at the core. Still, there are more extreme moments when our demons literally bring us to our knees. I still think about Bob Coy aka “Pastor Bob” and how his leadership came to a screeching halt at Calvary Chapel, and, I am sure his family suffers as well. Peace be still. I can count the demons that haunt me from time to time on one hand . . . and have worked to put the others completely “out of commission”. Yes, for me, the philosophy of a “peace driven” life keeps me away from many temptations that would lead me to do evil and to respond with evil to evil!!! Not at all a healthy spiritual existence!!! I have learned that over the years.

The Ray Rice drama with he and his wife Janay has rocked many worlds, from the NFL and professional sports to domestic violence groups … not to mention those two themselves. It seems that the NFL commissioner had access to the tapes though he claims he wasn’t in contact with “less reliable sources” like TMZ who acquired the videotape of the incident in the elevator at the hotel where the Rices were at the time. Why do you think, if he did have access to the videotape, that he acted with a 6 game suspension against star player of the Ravens, Mr. Rice, instead of banning him from the NFL for now as he did yesterday??!! Could it really be “all about the money”? Since his removal from the Raven’s roster, sports outlets are allowing fans to return their “Rice” jerseys and get their money back. Nike Sports has dropped him from their advertisements and I am sure that there are more “balls to drop”!

Still, Rice’s wife’s statement basically saying that if the world wanted to rob them of happiness, make them feel alone and embarrassed, “the world” has succeeded. We were able to witness the videotaped segments of the incident. Yet, by far, the worst was the straight cold-cock punch that Rice landed on Janay’s head to knock her unconscious!! Domestic violence follows a cycle of pathology where one on either side looses touch with the reality of the fact that they are in a vicious cycle that can be interrupted through intense counseling. When do they begin? Can the Rices stay together in the face of this horrific “storm”? Do you think that they need counseling and can successfully complete it? What would YOU do … if caught in such circumstances that have spiraled out of control and is deeply touching this football player’s finances?!? Pray for peace.

Always,

John I. Cook

Stay The Course!

Sunset

Monday, Monday ….

Can Monday be a fun day, too?! Why can’t everyday be a celebration of life?! I know like most of us that life has it’s “ups and downs” or “twists and turns”. Yet, how do you feel when you stay on course with what you believe is your mission, your journey, even? Surely there are those moments when “self doubt” may fill the air. Still, there are those other moments when you may tell yourself, “I knew I should’ve tried something else! This isn’t working out! It’s too difficult!” Whatever we tell ourselves is “what it is”!

I know all of this is easier said than done. I step out in faith so often that it feels like nearly every step I take today IS on faith!! Sometimes, I am just not sure what the outcome will be but I stay the course. Those distractions come … and go. Yet, as evidenced by Serena Williams winning her title and joining the ranks with two other professional women tennis players, it’s far more rewarding if you can stay the course. Everyone may not be such a champion as Serena, yet you can be your own “champion” for those things you hold dear to your heart. Just stay the course.

Last night, when I stepped out and looked up amidst the the swirling thoughts I had in my head about problems, challenges and answers, I noticed the full moon just sitting there majestically in the sky. I usually just hunker down and watch a program like “60 Minutes”, which I did, and then some of the animated programs, but they had some special on about “Utopia” … modern day style!!! I couldn’t stomach it so I took a cruise down “The Strip” aka “A-1-A” alongside the water of the Atlantic Ocean and taking in the most beautifully captivating sight of the full moon … just hanging there above the Ocean!!! Of course, I had some fun music on the radio and had had a rather decent day. I had worked through some pressings items on my personal agenda and was stepping out in faith on one or two major items on my agenda!!

Yes, even football season has started and folks are once again absorbed in “Fantasy Football” as well as the real NFL Football games, selecting and cheering for their favorite teams and jeering and jinxing the opponents!! We do seem quite like the ancient Romans when it comes to our attraction to competitive sports. I just admired the vast number of people at the US Open there in Queens, NY as the crowd cheered their favorite player and even applauded the “underdog” when she or he scored, too! Try to keep your “eyes on the prize” if you have determined it is something very important to you. Don’t let strong winds and naysayers take you off your course. In fact, ask them if they could help you in staying on your course, too!

Have a great Monday … and a wonderful week!

Peace,

John I. Cook

“Above The Law?!?!” . . . Or NOT!!!!

Above the law

Happy Friday, All!

It was a short week … but still … T.G.I.F.!!! Yep! Does anybody else have “stuff” swirling around in their head like I do?! Now this is the main reason why I practice yoga, and I meditate and embrace the principles of peace, love and strength while dealing with the reality in our world today. Sometimes, I feel like I want to do a “Paul Robeson” and go to another country and just write. But then, I realize even more strongly that I am from H.E.R.E.!!! Maybe, there are some things I can do here … also with my writing!! I’ll keep my ear to the “universe” to see my direction more clearly.

In our world today, I have noticed the tendency of “folks” to think that they are “above the law” and that they can get away with anything!! I mean, the amount of corruption, deceit and games played on even the “tiniest” of levels in life (ie., a store, at work, on the street)! People try anything … and I do mean ANYTHING … and try to get away with it!!! Why?!? Do they think “we” don’t notice … or do they think “we” are stupid?!? BOTH answers are wrong … for most of us! Funniest (being facetious here) thing is when you KNOW there is some “shady” stuff going down … and people look at you as if you are “crazy” when you take note of their fool-hardiness and contradictory behaviour!!! What do you say? I say … nothing … and look at them as if they are “nuts”!!!

Okay, so a Broward County judge, Giselle Pollack, who has been known as the “drug court” judge, was in court herself yesterday in front of one of her colleagues. She was found guilty of DUI and was suspended without pay and given 6 months probation as well as community service. On her way from Gainesville to Ft. Lauderdale several months ago, she rear-ended a young driver with extreme impact and miserably failed the sobriety test when she couldn’t walk a straight line in front of an officer! She begged the officer to take the handcuffs off but the officer refused. In her comments upon her sentencing, she stated that she now knows how many of her defendants must have felt when they were arrested and held in disdain by the public … for their involvement with drugs and alcohol, both selling and buying. She now knows that she is NOT above the law!

In Coral Springs, FL three officers from their police department were charged with the illegal use of their union’s credit cards after they charged thousands of dollars of personal items on those cards! The first two were a husband and wife “team” with the husband, Officer Williams (prisoner transporter) using $1,500.00 on personal items, while his wife, a fraud detective, used nearly $30,000.00 from 2006 – 2011 on many personal items (her father’s new chair!), including $10K for her own personal use!!! The third officer was charged as well after an IRS random audit to the Police Officers Union’s “books” revealed the blatant misuses by these three officers of the Coral Springs Police Department. Methinks they will be charged for this abuse of union funds. One comment was made by a Coral Springs P.D. superior that this had nothing to do with their police work!!! Really??? Does it have something to do with their lack of values of truth and legal behaviour, EXACTLY what they are supposed to be upholding in their police work … maybe?!? The Williams’s both resigned and the third man was suspended WITH pay!

Still another “nutcase” officer, this one was a black one, is from the Miami Police Department. He was racing in his unmarked vehicle at high speeds over 100mph in the streets of Miami while off duty. When stopped, the detaining officers found cocaine and heroin, an electric cigarette and marijuana in his vehicle!! He was arrested and detained without pay.

Some have even accused the POTUS of ignoring “the law” . . . When was the last time you heard that?!? Nixon, maybe?!? I know, it is hard for some folks to be humble … honest and straightforward even. Many like to lie and cheat and pretend no one knows. Again, “I ain’t no saint” … but one has not heard of me doing anything quite so dastardly lately, has one?!? Have a great weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook

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