Make The Most of It!

… it may be your last …


It’s Friday again, Folks!

So, a shout out to my Creator today!  Thank you for another one!  T.G.I.F.!

Okay, so … just when you think that you have things all lined up ….. BAM! POW!  No! Not Batman … but a mistake!  Like in Wednesday’s e-mail where I mentioned the name of my boarding school coach as William M. Blake …. eh hemm … that should have been Maurice “Bud” Blake!  Plus “Maurice” sounds cooler as a first name anyway!  He wrote me back and said that I had mixed up his name with his grandfather’s brother’s name.  At least I kept it in the family!

So, while you doing this thing called “life”, and what a premium, ehh!?, be sure to make the most of it!  Life is never “easy” for too long anyway.  There is always a big surprise just around the corner!  After waking up this morning, I caught myself singing a few of my favorite childhood morning tv show tunes … “What’s around the corner? What’s around the bend?”  Cute little jingle!  Well, that is how relaxed I am today … here in Puerto Viejo.  I travel in two days and will be in Florida … up and down the East coast from Daytona to the FTL!  Speaking of the FTL …. what a gruesome horror story erupted there on Valentine’s Day at a high school in a well-to-do area just outside of the FTL called “Parkland”.  A student who no longer attended school there came back to pay a visit on Valentine’s Day … and all hell broke loose!  No love … just bullets flying hitting and killing 18 innocent people in a barrage of anger.  Some people say, and I agree, “If you see something, say something!” …. but you might want to have a gun yourself because once you tell, you too will become a wanted person.  I would still tell, if it were left up to me, and try to save people’s lives … which is not what the gun lobbyist and supporters want.  Their primary goal is to allow for the instillation of fear into the lives of “Americans” so that everyone will go out and buy a semi-automatic assault rifle and kill each other … while “they” sing all the way to the bank!!  Who is “they”?  Anyone from the lobbyist who receive payoffs and kickbacks from the manufacturers, the owners of the gun factories and probably their employees until one of them gets killed … oh yes … and the multiplicity of politicians on ALL levels who have investments in the gun manufacturing companies.

Yes, many things are out of our control … thank goodness … but there are others which we can control … our own behavior and actions.  We can hopefully still control how we respond to things  and choose the best option.  Sure you have to take a minute and THINK … in order to come up with the best response … if any.  Many folks in the US have become “numbed” to the shootings at schools, shootings of African Americans in the streets who are UNARMED … often times running from the police and NOT posing any “threat or danger to their lives” … and others of “us” African Americans who cooperate but refuse to be disrespected by someone who is supposed to “protect and serve” US effin too! (“Effin” is not a typo!)  I get sick of the excuses that people make for such tragedies in the USA …  I personally can’t take it … I don’t want to hear: “If you see something, say something!” when somehow all of these guns are getting into the hands of unstable people and nobody is saying anything about who put the freaking guns at their “disposal” in the FIRST place!  Get the people who are the cause and the source of the prevalence of weapons and lock them up!!

Whatever you decide to do, choose wisely.  I am OUT!


John I. Cook, Director


“Take Five”! (Time Out!)

It’s Hump Day again, y’all!

How are you holding up?!  Don’t forget … when you need to, “Just Take 5”!  Whenever!! Just Do It!

First of all, I wanted to thank Mr. William M. Blake, aka “Coach Blake”, for replying to my last piece.  Now, no … you don’t have to reply … I am just saying that he did … and I appreciated it … it was needed!  Coach and I met when I was a sophomore at St. Paul’s School … I wasn’t sure why my parents insisted on me going to a boarding school in New Hampshire … but this was the first “real” person I met.  That is not to say that the other people weren’t real, it was that the contact that I had with them was momentary … not sustained as it would become for me, a “new boy”, at an all boys’ private Episcopalian boarding school playing jv football for Coach Blake!  He was like my dad away from home … and his reply to my e-mail was like one that a dad would reply to his son … (RIP, Big Ike!).

He said that he understood what I was doing … and as a World War II Veteran who served alongside the “Red Tails” of the Tuskegee Airmen, he had never “met” a finer group of professional African American men!  I still have the booklet that he sent to me commemorating the “Red Tails” of the US Air Force during World War II!  He, too, wishes that America would live up to its credo of ” … liberty and justice for all!”  The thing that was beautiful about Coach Blake is that he, too, grew alongside of us … the new minority students at this exclusive boarding school.  I will never forget (though I didn’t completely understand at the time …) when we were at basketball practice one night … and we, the players, were all over the place!  So, Coach yelled out, “Hey! You guys stop for a minute … you’re running around like a bunch of wild Indians!”  Kevin “Billy” Gover and Gary George, both native Americans from out West, looked at each other … perhaps first … then around the gym … but nobody said anything.  I knew Coach wasn’t prejudiced and was just saying what he had heard said probably most of his life.  He fought for our freedoms long before we had a chance to meet him.  Thanks, Coach Blake!

So, here in Puerto Viejo, I am “riding slow”, as the saying goes!  No, I haven’t gotten a bicycle yet … but it’s in my plans when I return after a week from Sunday and am able to complete my application for retirement residency here in Costa Rica.  It’s a slow moving place with a slow moving pace … though you can speed up if you want to … there is not a problem if you slow down.  “Pura Vida” no stress life style …. “smile your face off” atmosphere around here … everyday … rain or shine … the “boys and girls” are out surfing the shores of “Playa Negra”, “Punta Uva” …. even at Cocles up the road a bit more towards Playa Chiquita!  I fit in well …  the young boys (25+) respectfully call me “Daddy” while the older folks call me “Papa”!  Nobody rushes me and I am becoming well known at the local establishments like super markets and a few restaurants that I go to when I can eat out.  I walk with my hand-made “baston” that I got in Valencia down to the water to Puerta Pirata where many of the “ex-Pats” meet up including Barry and Nancy, Marsha, Cleo and me … and a few regular Canadians who come here 6 months out of the year.  In fact, Nancy and Barry are throwing a little “Valentine’s Day” get-together for the “ex-Pats” and friends at a local gathering spot called “The Point” later tonight around 6 or so …

I have been studying up on the parts of the hip and the multiplicity of networks there … I am sure that my motorcycle accident years ago added to the trauma that I am now experiencing.  While I have resigned myself to embracing that there is no “quick fix” for this type of thing, and … that there is no emotional trauma in my psyche causing a blockage which is “manifested” by pain in my hips!!!  I have been told that before ….  Thanks for sharing, but I know “me” better than “you” do.  Yet, I accept all forms of help and suggestion as I employ my own “gestaldt”-style healing which inculcates all that I have learned …. and continue to learn.  Yesterday, I was reading up on all of the different textures of cartilage in the hip – both soft and hard – as well as the bones including the femur around which the cartilage and muscles are wrapped to provide a 360 degree range of movement in the human hips!  I don’t think that acupuncture nor teas nor anti-inflammatories of a natural type (ginger/kale/tumeric) will “heal” my traumatized hip bones and joints!  When I am massaging myself, I can feel places deep in the interior of the complex array of muscles, tendons and cartilage that are wrapped with tissue where the trauma and sensitiveness is located.  It will probably require a hip replacement …. when I can afford it …. but I will labor on taking care of myself in the mean time.  I will take a “Take Five” from all of hub bub and concern and simply love myself …. the deepest spiritual and happiest part of me that wakes up each morning in a natural paradise that can heal a broken spirit …. itself!

Happy Valentines Day!

Love … and Peace,

John I. Cook, Director


Take It Easy (The Times Are A Changin’)


Happy Friday, All!

Is it me or are these times changing?!?  I wanted to thank Roz Reich from the Hollywood, FL Brahma Kumaris who sent me the lyrics to the new compilation of Bob Dylan tunes, “The Times, They Are A Changing”.  It is right on point in describing what he feels is taking place in the USA now.  In many ways, my life has come full circle, as I recall the times growing up during President John F. Kennedy’s time and the Civil Rights Movement.  My mother, “Mary” as she was called by most who knew her well, was involved in getting people who lived in the Projects to register and get out to vote.  In many ways, she was her own little grass roots movement though there were a few other community conscious people around in White Plains and Westchester County in general like Mr. Al Hampton, Mr. Hurvey Bradshaw and another woman from The Projects, Mrs. Elsie Harry.  There were many women involved in the communities in White Plains including Lake Street, Ferris Avenue, Schuyler DeKalb and what we used to call “The Valley”, a residential area where many African American, Latino and poorer white families lived!  There were “housing developments” in these parts of White Plains for the “service oriented” population that kept this “model city” growing!  It seems that in places like White Plains, “the people” have learned to live together … and are still doing a pretty decent job!

There are many communities, including Hollywood, FL, where the political leadership are actually “taking the lead” and doing what “the people” want and need in their lives rather than focusing on the corporate interests needs or big business.  Doesn’t the Constitution of the USA start with, “We, the people …” and these current “money suckers” in office have forgotten “the darn people”!  I always sought to drill into my students heads in my American History (US History) classes that “America was started as a business” … several “joint stock companies” in particular … and that the earliest “settlers” were hard core pioneers who had to fight for everything they had.  I won’t get into the earliest relationships between native or indigenous people ALREADY here, the slaves that were brought here against their will and the early settlers.  But note, this “USA” thing has always been a business … now more so than ever!  It is now that “we, the people” must take charge of the destiny of this land as it should never have been viewed as simply a “company” with money as the motive … not people’s rights and lives!

Okay, so it’s the weekend pretty much y’all!  Time to take it easy, if you can!


John I. Cook, Director

“Love The Life You Live!”

It’s Hump Day again …

“We’ve gotta get ova da hump!”  In my life time, there have been many heroes for me … people who stood up in the face of controversy and dared to take a stand against the incorrect.  Historically, “the best” people die or get killed off for taking such a stand!  Since being in Puerto Viejo where the saying is “pura vida”, I have found another expression from a more quiet leader of “the people” – Bob Marley, RIP.  The expression is the title of this piece .. and rings “home” for me, so to speak, as it is something that I have always tried to do … love the life I live, live the life I love!  How hard is that, when “we” live in a system whose goals are different from our, perhaps, personal goals – to have a long and healthy (happy, even!) life!?  It can be challenging to say the least.

From time to time, I must reevaluate what I am doing … or being … as people come at me “sideways” as if I don’t see them!  Now one thing I do is try to be a “peacekeeper” … It’s a natural thing for me … that peace vibe to settle down all the nonsense!  Every now and then, a person may “come at me” and actually try to “put me down” … usually in their own way.  I have adopted a new approach to such haters.  If it is someone I “know” and we have been friends in the past, I try to give an educational hint at how “Homey don’t play that!”  I simply delete the post from my timeline or stop communicating with them.  I don’t have time to argue with so-called “grown ups” who can figure stuff out like I do,especially if they are trying to offend me.  I just try to avoid the unnecessary drama in my life because it is exactly that … “MY LIFE”!  If someone wants drama, discord and “Tom Foolery” in “their” life, so be it!  I don’t … simple as that!

I have found a deeper understanding of this expression, “love the life you live, live the life you love”.  Each day, I do things that I truly enjoy.  Things like sitting at the water’s edge playing in the sand with my toes, listening to the waves and the birds.  When it is hot enough, I walk in waist deep and take that plunge into the water!  I take slow long walks around the beach front of the town of Puerto Viejo and points North of here heading toward what is called “Playa Chiquita” where I go for acupuncture treatments.  I don’t argue with anyone … I don’t look to “one up” anyone.  I am only looking for a peaceful vibe to share with … small talk of family and friends, the latest trends in holistic alternative health techniques … nothing competitive.  I had met some young folks who have come here from places like Australia or Canada … I met a young lady from Norway yesterday … seeking alternative health treatments that they often find at a place called “Beta Life”.  This is where “Ian” lives, the local “Shamin” who performs the “ayahuasca” ceremonies and treats interested participants with “frog venom” and/or “snake venom” to provide a deeper detoxification … according to them!  Well, Ian and I got to talking about my hips and he suggested a tea for me – bobinsana.  It actually grows wild in Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, I believe, but they have found a “sister” plant here in Puerto.  So, he put together a batch for me and I have been drinking it for two or three days now.  As with the acupuncture treatments, I feel “something” different.  I can’t run or jump as I used to but one or two nights ago, I broke into a mini jog on the way to the rest room so I wouldn’t wet my night clothes!!!  Maturing at this age can be a challenge.  I will keep you posted …

Next weekend, I will swing through “stateside” for a moment and organize a few things to apply for my retirement visa here.  All I want to do at this stage of the journey is “love the life I live and live the life I love!”  Pura vida!


John I. Cook, Director


Be The Change . . .

Happy Friday, All!

Well, if it were left up to me … I would simply say, “T.G.I.F.”!  So be it!

First of all, I want to apologize for an error in my last message when I mentioned the folks … Barry and Nancy Stevens who run “El Puente-The Bridge”, erroneously … I mentioned the “other” Nancy who volunteers for Barry and Nancy Stevens and lives in the mid-northwest … Minnesota methinks …   There is no “other Nancy” … I had a momentary lapse of memory … her name is actually “Marsha”!  So sorry!

I traveled to San Jose two days ago to firm up the information I need to procure a retirement visa here in Costa Rica and met a lovely gentleman on the bus from Puerto Viejo oh say at 5am in the morning … rain and all!  His name is “Jimmy” Ward who runs “Cape Oysters” in Cape Cod.  I chatted with “Jimmy” after finding a seat next to him since my legs don’t fit anywhere on these buses except standing up!  There was a young lady from Amsterdam sitting alone in a 2-seat section so changing from my seat to stand and then sit again, I wound up meeting “Jimmy”.  He and his wife may be looking to retire outside of the US in the coming year or so.  I asked him if we could exchange information, we did and he will receive this e-mail as well.  Thanks “Jimmy”!

One other person I met on her last night in Puerto Viejo who is also living in Florida is named Michele Kohan.  I met her at Barry and Nancy’s when they had decided to throw an impromptu “bon voyage” party for Michele.  I was lucky enough to be invited and to meet Michele, who came to do some volunteer work for Nancy and Barry for a couple of weeks as she is no stranger to “El Puente-The Bridge” nor to Puerto Viejo.  Thanks for sharing your information with me, too, Michele.

It is “Black History Month” and there are so many “takes”, comments and criticisms of a very simple concept that attempts to include a very disenfranchised segment of the society of the USA – the African American – in “their” history! I will not take any time to explain how or why African Americans were systematically and intentionally disenfranchised in America to further aid in the conquest of the “population” here using the age old “divide and conquer” strategy employed by many so-called national leaders.  So, cutting to the chase, I want to mention to all of the readers here and on the blog of Educational Excellence that we here at EE are seeking to encourage you to “educate yourself”!  It is a life-long task and requires a sincere desire to “know the truth” about our Earth, “humanity” and perhaps “our” place in the “universe”!  I know, I know … it is a tall order … especially for some minds.  “Black History Month”, for example, began after a strong push from organizations like the NAACP to attempt to include the contributions of African Americans to this country and to the world.  However, after traveling the world a little more and seeing and speaking with people from other countries, some of the things that happen in America don’t seem so great anymore … The killing of innocent children who are of African American descent BECAUSE they are African American … and with a current leadership that talks “bad” about EVERY nation … maybe except for one … America is slowly loosing its grip on the title of “world leader”.

In closing, please … please … PLEASE … be the change that you want to see … in the “WORLD”!  I love you guys, fellow Earthlings!


John I. Cook, Director


“A Real LOVE Revolution”!


Yo ho, Y’all!!

Happy Friday … and a T.G.I.F. (use “thank gosh I‘m friendly”, if you want to today!) to each of you reading.  I am full of fun today!  What about you?!?

Good morning!  Buenos dias, si quieres!  I am hoping that your week went by “without incident”.  What a phrase, huh?!?  And as the baptist congregation might say, “Well!”

Yesterday, I had my third acupuncture treatment … “Helen” is good!  This time, she worked on my hips exclusively.  Sometimes, it feels like there is a person in there!  She told me that during the aroma therapy/massage sessions that I perform on myself (self healing), I need to talk to my body … the cells … the parts including muscles and cartilage … in a loving fashion!  She and I talked a bit about my childhood and my upbringing.  I shared that my father was strict and though I rebelled sometimes, I appreciated his concern for my life.  We didn’t always communicate so well, I told her, but I knew that he loved me …  Sometimes, I miss him so much … with his “tough love” approach to so many things.  He was my “original tough guy” … my hero … he had the cutest little chuckle when he was happy or laughed at a joke!  Only his God knows what that man has been through …

So, here I am after waking up early and falling in to my “session” by lighting a stick of incense on the nightstand and putting the essential oils on my hips.  I began a brief soliloquy which morphed into an appeal to my body to listen to me and hear me out.  I told it that I am feeling sore and perhaps haven’t taken the best of care of myself.  I thought about how much I need … and USE … my body.  I thanked it for its service in my life …  Shucks, Man … I have been a lot of places and done a lot of fun and good things in my life so far.  I don’t want to stop now.  I looked at the sun’s rays streaming through the front cabin window, noticed the swirls of incense plumes as they rose from the incense holder on the night stand and continued to apply the oils on my hips … one at a time.  I hope they understand …

Yeah, I was a hippy back at St. Paul’s and Princeton.  I always joked with the “boys” about how when I got older, sitting in a rocking chair somewhere on somebody’s porch, I’d be puffing on a “spliff” and telling stories of how it was when I was growing up.  I use to always say that I want my child(ren) to say, “My daddy was a hippy!” and still be proud of the things that I, their dad, had accomplished in his life … and share some “love” …  You bet, I am still a “hopeless romantic”.  Each time I have the chance to, I hang out with new friends by the water’s edge at Puerta Pirata, the popular vegan/smoothie joint at the water’s edge near the main street of Puerto Viejo.  There is a couple from Canada – Conrad and Debbie – who I have become close with.  There is a younger buck from Canada who does “handy man” work named “Joshua” who I hang with sometimes … like just last night on the “strip”!  Yet, I am still the same … pretty much able to do things on my own … no company necessary.  It is always a pleasure to see my usual friends, Barry and Nancy … Cleo … the “other” Nancy, a part time resident here in “Puerto” from Minnesota, as well as the employees/friends at Puerta Pirata … Daniel, Gino and Miraella!  They make some great smoothies … not to mention authentic vegan meals and specialties like tuna tartar.

I got an e-mail from the attorney yesterday and I am feeling decent about applying for my retirement visa in Costa Rica.  I want to keep this “love revolution” going!  I meet so many people from all over the world who say that their countries leaders are disappointing them, too!  Maybe it’s time … for a real “love revolution”!

Have a wonderful day and a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

Take Good Care of Yourself …


Happy Hump Day, my “friends”!

It’s another beautiful day to celebrate and enjoy!  Sometimes, with certain “values” in place leading us like a carrot leads the horse, one may forget to look to the sides of the path we travel, noting the scenery along the way.  What a concept, heh?!?  I am enjoying the laid back “pura vida” or simple life style here in Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica.  I can track my banking by internet as long as I have WiFi so I don’t overspend, which is easy to do, with a foreign currency in your hands!!  When I lived and taught in Cali, Colombia for five years, I remember having to “juggle” the great number of bills and coins of the Colombian currency once my salary went from dollars to “Colombian pesos”.  Facebook, WhatsApp, and Outlook keep me in touch with those necessary … including you readers!

Of course, there are things that one has to get used to.  I was in shock at how persistent the mosquitoes are here … that’s right, mosquitoes!  I have an insect (mosquito) net over my bed which I kept trying NOT to use … You know, tough boy from New York can handle anything, right?!?  But NOT THESE MOSQUITOES!! LOL!!  The other night, I had a “dive bomber” style mosquito hunting me in the bed like I was its prey!!  I would see it faintly in the light disappear ….  Then … out of nowhere … and right next to my ear … I hear ” Hmmmmmm uma get you sucka!”  I pulled the blanket up over my head again until about 20 seconds later when I eased it down from over my head, I heard again …. ” Hmmmmm I got you sucka!” and BAM!!  It dove and bit me right on my forehead above my right eye!!!  I have learned more respect for nature out here, that’s for sure!  Now, I use the net over my bed for a MUCH more comfortable sleep … peace be still!

Okay, so last Saturday morning, I called Don Candido, the “Bri Bri” tribe’s “medicine man”, for lack of a better word.  I was supposed to visit him again and of course, it was raining “cats and dogs” …. Shucks, I thought I saw a cow coming down the drops were getting so big!!  I told Don Candido that I didn’t feel any difference after drinking the teas he had told me to drink for two weeks.  We chatted about continuing the treatment and I am bluntly honest – I don’t lie to myself much anymore nowadays …  I asked if he could give me a massage and see if that might help.  He laughed and told me to come in to visit him, no charge today!  I went …  We talked more about my “osteoarthritis” and he asked a few more probing questions.  As I answered, I remember having trouble shortly after I got my 2009 Jeep Compass following the motorcycle accident.  I had trouble getting out of the car … with my right leg wanting to stay inside.  I actually had to lift it with my hands and turn it out of the car and place the foot on the pavement below!  I couldn’t move it!!  As we talked more, I remember how I was catapulted from the motorcycle when I hit a raised curb on the curve of the exit in Ft. Lauderdale on Cypress Creek Road where I used to live!  Then I remembered how I landed … face down, helmet face guard completely scraped from the top of my head to my chin … and I landed with my hips open, arms wide to embrace the street, almost as if I was having sex with the street!!!  We chatted some more … Maybe it is NOT arthritis?!!  Maybe I can regenerate the necessary ingredients inside the joint to reduce pain and inflammation in my hips?!?  What a concept!

I finished the session with Don Candido in another part of his tribal medicine man’s cabin where he placed different size stones on my back and hip area, rubbing the flesh with the rocks in a circular motion.  He continued placing the the rocks, asking me what I felt as I lay on a small “massage bed” that would never pass the health inspection in the many countries … just sayin’.  We continued … he suggested that I NOT do yoga nor anything too strenuous while trying to heal the injury that occurred when I had the motorcycle accident on the way home from Capone’s Night Club after the Giant’s won the “Super Bowl”.

A few days before Saturday … maybe Thursday or so … I was visiting Nancy and Barry Stevens of “El Puente-The Bridge”.  I told Barry that the “vibration specialist” never followed up with me and that I was looking for someone serious to help me with some form of treatment to reduce my discomfort.  He went on line to a website called “Puerto Viejo Forum”, entered some information with my concerns … and maybe a half hour later, he received a message from someone recommending an acupuncturist.  Barry gave me the number, I called and had set up an appointment for Saturday afternoon after my session with Don Candido which I went to shortly after a light lunch.  It was quite the experience indeed!  I have had two sessions and am going for the third one on Thursday.  Between the aroma therapy deep massages “Helen” gives me before the acupuncture and my own “deep massages” performed on MYSELF  twice a day with an oil containing rosemary and other essential oils which she also provided, I am feeling hopeful.  Remember … I am not into lying to myself for ANY reason … especially involving a health specialist with MY health.  So … I will wait to see the results after 10 sessions … or as many as I “see fit” …

“Learning to love yourself … is the greatest love of ALL!”


John I. Cook, Director

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