“What Seems To Be The Problem Here?!?”

problem solver

Happy Friday, y’all!

Makes me wanna say, “Whoopee tie yie yayyy!” … but … I’ll settle for T.G.I.F.!! What about youse!?

I am feeling spunky just because … “Things” haven’t gotten better, perhaps …. just my attitude! I want to thank you all who read me and EE’s stuff, you all know that we are one in the same … me and EE … but I try not to take credit for too much or more than I should. So, the educational emphasis on spiritual elements of “life” is based in self-education and knowing oneself!! I touch on a lot of different subjects in these writings and I have a view on these subjects that I like to share in these writings. So, I thank each of your for reading these pieces, which are part of marketing for Educational Excellence, including at this time motivational talks and presentations, tutoring and life skills, and I appreciate it more when you share me with others. I have made connections through good friends (Solveig!) and even my sister recently!! Thank you each and all for reading, donating to “the cause”, and passing me on to others. (Take what you can use and leave the rest here!)

Is Bill Cosby serious??? Is everybody surprised by Obama’s speech? He made some great points!!! I hope the “Kids” can stop fighting in The Congress and learn that the people come FIRST. The police officer, Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, MO PD may resign; and, the people are still waiting to hear the grand jury’s decision while the number of firearms sales “spiked” there as they await the decision!!! Whats going to happen after that?!? The fourth rabbi died in Jerusalem after the horrific attack upon them by the Palestinian cousins. I beg to differ that any of this is “normal” nor can be explained as to how these behaviors represent “civilized people”!! I am still growing and learning, exploring corners of my journey, perhaps, and contributing to our times as best I know how. Of course, I think I have something to offer. So, I live to learn and learn to live!

How about the shooting on the Florida State University campus … at the library!?! Now, when we hone in on the shooter, FSU and Texas Tech law school graduate – Myron May, who was the most UNlikely of suspects, we find a very confusing situation and a very troubled young man. And no one anticipated such a “down turn” in his life!! He had friends whom he spoke highly of for helping him get a stellar education. Yet, his last few Facebook posts waivered from Bible scripture to a quote by former Black Panther Bobby Seale, and even a confusing post regarding “Driving While Black” (DWB) and how there is little attention paid to Black young men unless they end up dead!! Reports have had it that no one … NO ONE suspected the depth of his internal deterioration!! Now, how many of you believe that it is “hard out there for a brother”?!? This is one reason I reach out like I do with these posts and Educational Excellence and the spiritual approach to “knowing thyself”!! This gent felt he was being watched, followed and traced!!!! Believe it … or NOT!

Finally, in closing today, look at the situation of the POTUS? Congressional reps are actually THREATENING him if he uses executive power, which he did, to remedy the “immigration situation” in this country, until Congress can establish legislation to deal with the age-old problem. Mitch McConnell sounds like either a “gangster” or a little kid in the playground who doesn’t like the way “the other team” is playing!!! He definitely doesn’t sound like a politician whose salary is PAID by the American taxpayers!!!

Some of us never understand the pressure we put on “people” because of our racial or religious, even “other” views. Most people have no idea of where their own “breaking points” are until they have arrived. May we keep a hand extended for those who seem troubled, especially those who seem to hide it well. You never know how you can help someone … by a kind word … or a subtle truth! “It’s okay!”

Enjoy your weekends!

Peace,

John I. Cook

Don’t Lose Focus!!!

don't give up

Happy Hump Day, Yeah!!!

Is it true that your … or my … or anybody’s “best friend” is ones discipline?! How much of it do you have? I mean, can you refrain from saying something or doing something that would certainly be an integral part of your own demise??!! That is discipline … even in the face of an idiot, a terrorist, an evil person clearly recruited by the forces of Satan!!! In retrospect, I am learning to keep faith in my Creator … peace be still.

An event that really helped me to see how some people handle even more horrific moments in life was the senseless massacre of the people praying in the temple in Jerusalem a few days ago, and were attacked by two men who were purportedly cousins. These lone Palestinians entered the temple while the people were praying; they were armed with hatchets and meat cutters … and an automatic weapon!!! These two actually attacked these “peaceful” folks who were not only defenseless … but praying!!! Now, I’ve come a long way in my spiritual life, though there have been things that happened that I couldn’t understand. To hear a student of one of the rabbis killed in the temple by these two characters say, “This is hard to understand, but we must know … that it is from God!” He continued saying that this event was designed perhaps to make him stronger, as well as those who knew and loved the rabbi. Keep in mind, two others, if I am not mistaken, were killed … and they were also rabbis!

It is hard to have faith when you see evil people apparently “getting away” with such horrible deeds! Doesn’t it make you wonder sometimes … which is a good thing, as long as you don’t lose your focus?! On what, you might ask? On yourself … and your Creator, I might answer. Some people come into our lives seemingly to stir up turmoil for no apparent reason. Perhaps, they have demons inside them controlling their weak hearts and lack of values for humanity. We can find people like this on our jobs … and in the midst of mayhem and confusion … like in Israel! The POTUS spoke very firmly regarding this senseless attack on innocent people. The Israeli leader responded much more intensely, promising a “firm hand” retaliation, if you will! Yet, this retaliation is expected from the leader of the country where this took place. Sometimes, things happen to me … like it did a few days ago at work when one of the managers lied to me AND sent me home because of something I said to a very rude “potential customer” who called me an idiot. I simply responded, “You must be the president of the United States!!” … and hung up on him! This manager, with a couple of his “cronies”, decided to tell me that our “parent company” heard the recording and recommended that I be terminated!!! Now, I know that they don’t listen to any of our “deals” so quickly … and ONLY if they are deals! This potential patient didn’t even know what a “pharmacy benefit” nor “benefit of ones health insurance” is … so, I called him back to explain. That was when he called ME an idiot! How charming!! This “manager” had me sign a form and suspended me for yesterday!!! Overkill??? Evil??? Indeed!

Yet, when I compare my situation to the young man who lost a role model, his rabbi, my problem seems far less important … not even pressing. I will forge on, dealing with these characters, and keeping the focus on myself … and my Creator! Much more comforting than to worry about imbeciles! Praying for peace in the hearts and minds of those whose loved ones were taken from them … peace be still …

Have a great Hump Day!

Peace,

John I. Cook

Stay Connected . . . To Your Creator!!

valuebody

Happy Monday, Folks!

Have you ever seen the weather change so fast?! I have!! It was a while back but I was a student at St. Paul’s School and we had a football game. It was something like October 22 … circa 1970 … it was snowing in Concord, NH … The players were still yelling: “We love you Big Red!” That’s what we called our teams at SPS since the mascot was a “pelican”!! The foot ballteam led by Coach Maurice Blake was notorious for “hoopin’ and hollerin’”, often while we pounded on our bellies as we lay on our backs in the middle of the football field! I was a teenager and loved organized sports, be it basketball, football or track. Those were my favorites. I learned at an early age to value my body and keep it in good shape. Don’t get me wrong, now, I have never used any steroids for muscle enhancement as I am normally more comfortable in a thin frame!! Excessive “body building” is clearly vanity … self abuse even!!

Here of late, I have noticed more “older” people in the gym, especially on Sundays. There are a couple of guys who sit in the jacuzzi when I am there and a few who swim, too! As I meandered around the gym yesterday, I saw a gray haired woman, maybe 60 or so, stop at a machine where a man was sitting doing some leg thrusts … and I wanted to take a photo of them!! It was so cool, checking them out … as they checked each other out … and enjoyed a fun workout!! I am kind of in the market for a workout partner but I have become so accustomed to working out by myself. There are a couple of really nice ladies … young ladies … whom I have approached about working out together on different occasions. We’ll see what the future holds! You are never too old … or anything else, for that matter … to appreciate the body you live in!!

As I listened to some of my favorite tel-Evangelists yesterday, the theme of “the body” came up over and over again. First of all, these tv pastors kept saying that “God” wants you to value your body … and your partners body, too. They suggested that just “skin on skin” contact without any spiritual meaning or appreciation is not what the “Creator” of the body had in mind!! We all know that biological reproduction is the end result of sexual activity between a man and a woman, so …. Yet, even when indulging in sexual activity, a certain amount of responsibility and self respect is suggested by the Bible … believe it or not!! So, try to stop making excuses for letting your body go to crap … it is YOUR responsibility … and it says a lot about yourself.

“You cannot devalue the body and value the soul – or anything else. The isolation of the body sets it into direct conflict with everything else in creation.” – Wendell Berry

So, as you continue along your journey, don’t forget the vessel that your “spirit” travels in … your body. Stay connected to your Creator … through your breath, your mind, your spirit … and your body!

Make it a good one!

Peace,

John I. Cook

Just Think About It . . . Before You Say It!

domestic violence awareness

Happy Friday, All!

Can you count the miracles that you’ve experienced this week? Or, are you the kind of person that thinks that you deserve everything? So, in my small effort to show some humility and gratitude, I want to say … Thank God It’s Friday!! I notice how people are sometimes, trying to be a “tough guy” or trying to insult or humiliate someone who hasn’t done anything to THAT person to deserve such treatment. Some of us just live “too high” on ourselves that we “don’t see nobody else”! We don’t see their feelings, we don’t care how we may have made them feel …. In fact, sometimes, it seems that people just want to hurt others!! As my Dad used to tell me: “Talk is cheap!” He also used to tell me: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all!” Hang your hat on those two anecdotes, if you will.

Some organizations celebrate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month while others celebrate the wearing of the color “purple” as demonstrating an awareness for domestic violence awareness. I have even seen a few “images” suggesting that November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month!! Either way, it should be something that we are aware of EVERY day. The NFL has a new commercial being aired now regarding “domestic violence” and how they have chosen NOT to sweep it under the rug and to talk about it, challenge it, seek solutions to it … after all, stop it, as it affects the human family. Many of us may have come to the “doorstep” of domestic violence and been able to turn around and leave that door unopened. It is a challenge in most relationships, especially when one loses ones temper and begins to say all sorts of hurtful things. This is actually where the violence begins . . . in ones own thoughts!!! One 12-step program I know of categorizes any thoughts that are negative as “stinking thinking”!! How appropriate!! If we admit that our thoughts about someone … anyone … are not positive, then we can start to challenge our own issues, rather than theirs!!! How revolutionary …. NOT!!

Yes, even I have been at the “doorstep” of this monster … and actually knocked, if you will!!! When I saw who I had become, I was disappointed in my INability to turn around and leave that monster behind. Emotions kick in, the desire to be right kicked in … and of course, the worst thing kicked in … the desire to “hurt” someone else’s feelings, humiliate them even!! What does that say about me?? Does that mean that I am lacking something inside if I find pleasure in hurting someone else with words?! Is my self-esteem sufficient enough to allow me to walk away and not feed the “angry wolf”?!? When looking at situations like these, I consider my own “karma” and personal wellness. Can I actually let what someone says “make” me REact in a certain way … in a way unbecoming of who I know I really am?!? This is a choice we all face … choose wisely. What I have noticed is that if I de-escalate the thoughts that develop when I am in a conflict of words, I have more control over my OWN behavior. After all, that’s why our society has a “sanction of rewards and punishments” to harness our expressions of our thoughts!! Why not think peaceful thoughts?! Why do I have to be “right” and make someone else look “wrong”?! Will that make me feel better?! Isn’t there something else I can do to feel better?! YES!!! Of COURSE there are things that we can do to feel better!! Again, choose wisely. Meditate, pray … think peaceful thoughts … breathe deeply … and move on!

“If it doesn’t serve you in a positive way, let it go!” I remember how often one of my most passionate yogis, Maria Faura (RIP), used to tell us this during our asanas in class. This is another reason I enjoy practicing yoga … the inner peace and calm it brings … the ability to see things clearly … NOT selfishly … when experiencing this inner peace. Find yours … you’ll be proud of yourself!

Namaste,

John I. Cook

Just Trying to Hold It Down!

brother tears

It’s Wednesday … It’s Hump Day, yeahhh, Baby!

The climate and weather patterns are getting so much cooler … cold even … faster, so it seems to me! But what do I know … anymore … since living here in Florida?! All I know is what I have been seeing with snow falling in many parts of the northwestern USA.

So, yes, yesterday was Veteran’s Day. Many women and men have served in the armed forces of this nation … something like 19.6 million up to date, correct me if I am inaccurate. Now that’s a lot of folks, not to mention service dogs. I think many of us know … or at least accept that “war is hell”! It fosters an intrinsic behavior that propels the most basic instincts in humans, coupled with fear and other unknowns. War has tremendous impact on the average person’s life and many “average people” cannot handle it … alone. There are many people who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder who are veterans that have “fallen through the cracks”, so to speak,of the Veterans Administration and their efforts to help veterans adjust “back” to civilian life. The POTUS was alarmed at the number of veterans who died waiting for treatment while it was clear that the “books” were being doctored more than the veterans themselves!! A change came also with the leadership of the VA in this country.

Well, yesterday, in Fort Lauderdale at Cinema Paraiso, a movie was showcased regarding the life of a barber by day/fisherman by hobby and a Vietnam War Veteran who suffers from PTSD. The film shows how this barber/hair stylists (of both men and women) takes this veteran suffering from PTSD and how he finds boating and fishing to be extremely therapeutic and life altering in an good way, helping this gent battle this horrific disorder. If we look back at some of the most spontaneous and strange attacks at places like the White House or the Navy Yard and shootings and killings, we will note that these soldiers’ families’ argue that they may have suffered from PTSD … and it went either unnoticed or untreated!! This is a very serious matter. Indeed, “war is hell”! I just missed the draft for the Vietnam War by a few months as I hadn’t turned 18 until July in the summer after graduation from St. Paul’s School. While living in the Winbrook Apartment Complex in White Plains, NY, we watched young men go off to fight in that war … and we saw a few come back … alive! RIP, Glenn Shepherd, who came back with his body showing the horrors of war … barely recognizable except for his dog tag … Peace be still!

Many of us are “just trying to hold it down”, so … imagine what they must be faced with?!? Sometimes in my daily routines, I see people getting all bent out of shape … say, for a phone call like on my day job. They start screaming and yelling as if someone robbed them when a telemarketer calls!! Now, I know it can be annoying. Yet, I often want to say to people, “Calm down, you are not in a war zone, Man! This is just a telephone call!! What would you do if a bomb dropped on your a$$!?!” But I don’t say anything … Once again, to those veterans who have served and who will serve, thank you!

Peace,

John I. Cook

In A “Tight Spot”!

tight head 2

Happy Monday, All!

I hope your weekends found each of you well. Mine was quite interesting for a number of reasons. The most prominent reason can be found in my “reflections” state … er uh “states” … because there were several. Things happened … were revealed to me … in such a short time, back to back, I didn’t have time to “respond” nor “react” because I was fully engaged in driving or cooking or something … and in such a way that I didn’t understand anything except the first thought that came to my mind.

Examples are difficult and perhaps even inappropriate to give about such “observations” but I offer a generalization. So, I was riding in my car that has a decent sound system along Dania Beach Pier area looking for a “memorial service” to say good-bye to Maria Faura, my former yoga teacher, who passed away due to an asthma attack apparently, and I heard all these extraordinary sounds!!! I turned the music down to see if there was something in the car with me (eeeekkk!), maybe in the back seat … I have no trunk in the Compass just a space for small bags … so, that was the extent of my investigation. I couldn’t just stop in the middle of the road at dusk 6pm and start looking under and around my car. So, I kept going. This same thing happened like 5 times!! Sounds … investigation … music turned down … silence … until the next episode!! Finally, I deduced that both Maria (RIP), my mother – Marietta Dolores …. AND my brother “Hank” (RIP, Henry Charles Cook), who had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head while overlooking Dania Beach … right where I was … but 20 years ago or so … were all “hitting me up” at the same time through a few sights (not given here) and sounds that are rare, if ever, in my small compact Jeep vehicle!! What would you deduce? Feel free to tell me, I don’t judge … do you?!

Life has its tight spots. Moments when you are faced with a decision … life or death …. hope or despair … overcoming or succumbing … and the decision MUST be made at THAT VERY MOMENT …. OR ELSE … and it has to be RIGHT!!?? That’s a “tight spot” for me!! It’s very challenging to “come back” from a wrong decision made in such a “tight spot”. For me, this is when one attempts to pull all the “messages” being sent through others … even circumstances and things … like the aforementioned … and arrive at a “sound decision”. Choose wisely! Thanks for the uplifting comments that some of you sent to me after Friday’s e-mail detailing the anniversary of my mother’s passing; and, another special thanks to “Bobby” Schulman for the generous plaque gift for my mother’s burial site at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY!

Enjoy your week, count your blessings, stay humble … yet aware!

Peace,

John I. Cook,

Everything Happens For A Reason … Right?!

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Happy Friday, All!

Yes, of course, if only for me, T.G.I.F.! Now, I am not excluding anyone … but I need to be grateful today … and everyday.

Since taking a “turn” into embracing my own spirituality, I have learned to loosen my grip on “things” in my life. In fact, I think back to when my mother, Marietta Dolores Cook, passed away 9 years ago on November 6th, yesterday, after falling in the darkness of my sister’s house in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma. She bumped her head in a fall, some of you may remember, and became comatose due to a hemorrhage in her brain which went undetected until my sister took her to the ER. My sister and I weren’t “speaking” at the time due to some differences we had aired to each other. Then, I got this call from my nephew telling me that “grandma” was at the hospital and that I should come to see her. It was the first time my sister and I had spoken in a while . . .

We were faced with deciding to let Mom expire, as a doctor had told us that she would remain as we saw her … in a bed with tubes for breathing and eating … and would have to be taken to a “home” of sorts. He said we could visit her, but she would only be able to lay there, responding to touches on her toes or hands, never again opening her eyes nor speaking. We decided to let her go … and we have been talking ever since. Peace be still . . .

So, as I live each day, honoring her memory with a peaceful life …. as peaceful as possible … since we live in a world full of chaos and selfish intentions in nearly every arena, I try to be the best person that I can be. I have to keep this one short, because I get too emotional on the anniversary of her passing. I remember one year not too long ago when I was at work, and it was her birthday, I needed a half hour just to sob and moan in private in order to get myself together. I know she would have wanted me to work and stay focused on bettering my own life. At this time, I am working on a few projects that I hope come to fruition, already the “ball has dropped” on one of them … peace be still … and I have to trust that this, too, is happening for a reason … You dig?! Hey, if nobody told you today that they love you today, and I don’t need you to love me back, I love you …. This is an unconditional love, from me to you, if you allow me to do so.

Namaste,

John I. Cook,

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