Nothing . . . and No One . . . Is Perfect!

Life's Perfection

 

It’s Tuesday …

Yes, our world is “on fire” with so many things going on!!  Each of us has to choose what we prefer to focus on … for a moment or two … as there are usually so many things going on in our individual lives that we can barely keep up with them!!  Maybe I should speak for myself, heh?!?
First of all, I want to wish everyone of you a happy May … it’s Mother’s Day Week, they tell me, and my mother’s birthday is on May 20th!  So, this past weekend, I had an incredible time . . . Quite memorable, if I may say so myself!  First off, I had a presentation with Mrs. Nicole Valencia Mercado’s group of teens with the BSO (Broward Sheriff’s Office) Community Justice Program.  The youth have had some brushes with the law during the high school years … some of them are in middle school, too.  So this program is designed to try to curtail the “schoolhouse to jailhouse” pipeline prevalent in so many cities across our nation … hmmppffff … and give the youngsters a chance to “go straight” and stay out of trouble, and actually enjoy their God-given lives.  I enjoy working with them because they have a vested interest in completing the program successfully.  I spoke with them about S.A.V.E. – Students Against Violence Everywhere – as well as the origins of the organization in North Carolina when a student who was trying to break up a fight at an off campus party was killed by his own peers.  I encouraged them to brainstorm during a 15 minute meditation time for projects that they could do at their individual schools.
After the presentation, I hit my Saturday morning flow with Jennifer and it was greatly needed, given my current circumstances … and fantastic!  I was able to deduce that what I should be focusing on right now in my life is “my priorities”.  First of all, I want to attend my 40th Reunion for the Class of 1976 at Princeton University on May 27th, 2016 through the 29th.  I have most “t’s” crossed and “i’s” dotted and am ready to participate in what my be my last reunion for Princeton University!!  Just sayin’!  Some of my former school mates have expired and a few others I stay in touch with … more than I expected to upon graduation in June of 1976.  Yes, I was a bicentennial brother who graduated from an Ivy League University … and am getting ready for another reunion.  The last one I went to was my 25th Reunion.  Me and one of my exes (Simona) had a blast.  This year, I am going solo and looking forward to some fun times with old classmates and enjoy some seriously fine dining, if I remember correctly.  So, I am making sure that I can get there and get back “home” to Florida and begin my early retirement … while working … this summer!  Sounds like a plan?!?  Well, so far … that’s my plan.
This past Saturday, I drove to Port St. Lucie, FL to see my sister Edna who had picked up my daughter – Ayanna Lynne – and her son, my first and only grandson/child, as they had taken a train ride from New York last week.  It was great to see my daughter again and get to meet my grandson – Caleb Isaac!  He is very active, is teething and demands a lot of attention!  He fits right in with the rest of us!!  I had the pleasure of giving my daughter a few teething tips, though Caleb liked one teething ring in particular … with small brush-like projections that he rubbed his gums on intently to alleviate the itching-like sensation caused by teething.  I remember when Ayanna was teething herself!  Fond memories of intense times indeed.
So, we can all be “okay” with not being perfect!  Perhaps the only “thing” I know of that is perfect is Our Creator … since he made a bunch of us and hoped that we could all get along, even with our imperfections.  I continue to write “my positive” thoughts and seek to share my truths and hope … and love!
Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Perhaps . . . You Are Right Where You Are Supposed To Be!

right where we're supposed to be

 

Happy Friday, y’all!

Can I get a “T.G.I.F.” from someone?!?  Okay … T.G.I.F.!!!
Well, once again … I am in that gratitude frame of mind again!!  “Why would that be?”, you may ask.  I would answer: “Just because it feels good!”  Choosing to feel happy and grateful … even in the midst of challenges?!?  How revolutionary!!  NOT!  I don’t know if you’ve noticed but without gratitude it is difficult to have faith.  You do know why, right?!?  For without faith, you have nothing to look forward to … nor be grateful for in the future!  Don’t allow unhealthy “thoughts” that foster the “negativity” that doubt and despair depend on flourish in your mind.  Don’t let them into your life … especially in times of trouble when we are most apt to.
Now, I have met many of you in many different places and settings.  Some of you I grew up with in White Plains; others I went to boarding school with and still others I met in college!  Still there are others I have met in my work places and employment … I have even worked with some of you over the years on a personal basis!  And then … there a few of you whom I met once or twice … and at least one person I have never met, Dr. Hurley!  One wonderful couple, the Bozzones, even put me up at their place whilst I struggled with some of my demons … thank you Karen and Steve!  So you all know me in one way or another and have some ideas how I am.  So … you should know … all of you … that I seldom give up.  I struggle hard and I work hard … and I ask for help when I need it!  I share these things … episodes and circumstances included in my life … so that you can gauge how difficult it may be to manage certain situations.  Those who know me … like Jose Wiltshire and Larry T. Woody with whom I attended boarding school and remain in touch with, might wonder why I haven’t gone nuts … or at least robbed a bank!!!!  Like I tell many of my friends and associates, if it weren’t for yoga and meditation … and prayer, I would be locked up!!!  Many of you guys are good friends … like angels, even … thank youse!  You know who you are!
So, when things seem not to add up … in your book … keep in mind, perhaps, that this is right where you and I are supposed to be!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

” . . . . And The Beat Goes On!”

blessings

 

It’s Wednesday … and it’s “Hump Day . . . . Yeah!”
Sometimes folks ask  me, “How do you do it,  Cook?  I mean, you always keep a positive attitude!”  They know I have great friends like many of you reading this.  I was “down in the dumps” after not being able to find another place to live, as you can tell from the past few blog posts and e-mails.  Man, it’s tough out here!  Decent and affordable housing is a serious issue here in Broward County!
I wanted to thank Roz Reich who took the time to send me an inspirational quote to help me see “the light” in this period of challenges and changes.  Not only is my daughter and her son, Caleb Isaac, traveling from Connecticut to West Palm Beach, Florida today, but I am still going to look at places immediately after work each day.  A good friend – “Johnny Ace”, drummer for a local band called “Smoking Aces, still lets me use his couch on the weekend when he is not too busy with his girlfriend, “Candy”!  Shucks, Candy even recommended I check with an old friend of hers who had a studio for rent in her house.  She also turned me down … family reasons … I guess.
Now my job situation is somewhat stabilized, still with the same company, though the position of customer service I had interviewed for like 3 times was almost offered to me by the owner of the moving company  in the 3rd interview.  Yet, since they are in the same building as the call center I work for, he stated that the owner of our company and he had made an agreement NOT to hire anyone from the other’s office employees!!  You gotta respect their wishes, heh?!?  Job market is tough here, too!  Most jobs are in the “service industries” – bars, hotels, restaurants and the like – and one has to be flexible … and young to handle this market unless professionally trained and employed.
This is what Roz sent me:
Soul Consciousness
Spiritual awareness (soul-consciousness) is cultivated through deliberate practice and only those who have understood the need for this kind of true, inner, self-respect will make the effort. Difficulties will arise to test your resolve for self-upliftment – physical illness, relationships, memories of the past, and so on. Yet with patience and introspection, you will come to see how these very tests are the means to strengthen your spiritual identity.
I look forward to the challenges ahead as well as solutions to handle them.  I keep my head to the sky, as the title of an earlier “Earth, Wind and Fire” song said.  And still, even with my current circumstances, I am planning to do a presentation for the Community Justice Program Saturday in Lauderdale Lakes, FL focusing on S.A.V.E. – Students Against Violence Everywhere, thanks to Nicole Valencia Mercado!
Enjoy the time you have in your journeys … and enjoy your loved ones!
Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Weather The Storm . . . If You Can …

bowed head

 

Happy Friday, All!
My …  my … my …. Can it get any more challenging?!?  I think so!!  Yet, when waking this morning to another call telling me, “The apartment is no longer available, sorry!”, it was disheartening.
Yes, yes … and I still have a job … so I am grateful.  Oh … uh … I still have a car, too!  Wow!  Finding a place to live is a full time job, nearly!  On my way in to work, I was listening to the guys on the radio paying tribute to “The Artist formerly known as Prince” who suddenly passed in his recording studio.  But, what a way to go, heh?!?  I still am not ready … but … I, too, can go at anytime!  So, I  choose to weather the storm … and enjoy the moments that I have.
I got some news that my daughter may be coming to Florida  next week.  She has always preferred living here than anywhere else.  Maybe we can both find housing somewhere!!  Once again, I seek the positive and am embracing the fact that she is planning to come.  Of course, I will get to see Caleb Isaac and Ayanna Lynne, grandson and daughter, respectively.  I will keep the faith … for ALL of us!!
So here is a tip for me … maybe for you, too … to weather the storm … if you can.  I keep trying … it’s worth a try!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Take The Bitter With The Sweet!

above the storm

 

It’s another Tuesday … yes, yes, last week was my daughter’s birthday – Ayanna Lynne.  Today is the birthday of a long time friend, Anja Malis, who lives in Germany!  We have been friends for over 15 years now and stay in touch.  Enjoy your birthday!
You know, it gets hard sometimes … if we try to “keep up with the Jones’s”, if you’ve heard that expression.  Yet, that is what propels the drive to make more and more money and perhaps even invest in the stock market!!  I remember in elementary school, Ridgeway School to be exact, they used to teach us about the stock market … shucks we even “bought” fictitious stock … and followed it to see how it faired in the market!!  It was interesting, though I’ve never really purchased any stock.  One of my childhood friends surprised me with a phone call this past Saturday as I did some work in a friend’s office for her community organization (H.E.R.O.).  He mentioned that another close friend from the Winbrook Projects in White Plains where we ALL grew up was getting married next weekend in Atlanta – that would be Darryl Jenkins, an activist in White Plains with whom I had the pleasure of doing a community broadcast on his program called “Winbrook Pride”, which he directed.
As John and I talked, as the friend who called me is also named (last name Young), I told him of some of my challenges.  He said, “You always got something going on, Cook!”  I chuckled but needless to say, he was accurate in his assessment.  So, I mentioned a goal I had … to attend my 40th Reunion for the Class of 1976 of Princeton University.  I mentioned that I still needed a rental car and a flight (round trip) from Fort Lauderdale to New York, since the reunion is in Princeton.  He checked his “Delta Sky Miles” account, asked me the dates I wanted to travel and told me he would call me back!  When he did, he gave me a confirmation number for my flight to and from New York!  Now, that was a pleasant surprise … indeed.  Thanks so much, John Young!  John was also the best man at my wedding to my daughter Ayanna’s mother, Denise.  We have been friends a long time.  I appreciate his friendship … and his kind gestures, of course.
So, last night, I also decided to call the woman where I was living to see if I had any mail.  Part of the reason she had wanted me to “move” was so that her son who lives in Boston and is suffering from cancer, can come to visit her.  He was supposed to come last Wednesday, but didn’t as he has been given a new schedule for chemotherapy that took him past his time to come visit his mother.  She said that she has everything set up already … and was simply waiting for his arrival.  I wished her well.
In our lives, we must learn to take the “bitter with the sweet”.  Here is a perfect example of this.
I also wish you ALL well!
Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Count Your Blessings . . . Not Your Problems!

blessings not problems

 

Happy Friday, y’all!

And as it is customary for me, for a variety of reasons … T.G.I.F.!
I have got to say this NOW … or forever hold “our peace” … should you like to be included.  If you would like to STOP receiving my e-mails, just let me know!  Send the word “STOP” back to me in reply to this e-mail.
Now, I don’t know some of your inner deepest secrets ( I am not going to call them “dark” secrets, that could be taken the wrong way! ) but I am sure some of you may want to be removed, maybe even see me “fail”.  Yep, I said it, ’cause I have no fear of failure … especially if some other “human” is the judge … who has undoubtedly “failed” at some thing in their own life, so … I am not frightened, nor impressed.
There are some developments in my situation that I wanted to mention here.  First of all, my daughter’s birthday was well received by many … I don’t look to see who wished her (or me, for that matter) a Happy Birthday.  Besides, I don’t do what YOU do … I do what I think is right … like wish your “child/ren” a happy birthday, if I know about it when it comes.  I am fluid … I like to flow through this journey called “life”!  Choose your own route.  A new friend of mine, Sabrina, whom I met at the yoga class for “her” first time at LA Fitness, shared a self-help course by a noted speaker and author, Robert James.  He says some things about “each” of our realities that I not only concur with, but have  seen it in my own life … and others lives, too!  He basically stated, that each of us “constructs our own realities” based on the values that we hold dear to ourselves … for whatever reason, either because “society” told us to hold “money” as the most precious thing on Earth or because we were convinced by others and our own life experiences that it should be the most important valuable “thing” for a human to desire ….  Not peace, or truth … nor harmony or love!  Work for money … not for peace …. Do you think that is why we have so many wars and conflicts on Earth?!?
Okay, one more example for us that we all know … parking tickets.  So, we paved the Earth and put things on it where we want like buildings and malls, movie theatres and …. parking spaces.  All of these things are designed to bring greater income to the cities that they are in.  So, if you park your car on the Earth in one of these spaces, you have to pay to park.  And, if you park overtime, the fine is way out of sync with the cost of parking your car … on OUR Earth!  Make sense yet?!?  It shouldn’t.  No penalties for hostile thoughts or a disrespect for harmony or peace.  Make sense …
Finally, in closing, I may have some prospects for a flat somewhere between Boca and Ft. Lauderdale … It should be happening soon.  In case you haven’t heard it lately, I love youse … all of youse … for one reason or another.
Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Educational Excellence

Happy Birthday, “Squeezy”!

Special Day

It’s Tuesday . . .

And I am still hangin’!!  How’s that for determination?!?  Of course, I couldn’t have done it … or many other things in my life … if it weren’t for good friends!
Let’s start from the top.  I am still employed and our company call center has become like an “elastic laboratory”, as the CEO put it, and we are diversifying into other products!  How happy can a “clam” be!?  I am, needless to say, G.L.A.D.!  When so much comes at you, the best thing to do is stay still … and know that Your Creator is GOD!  I love it when the things that seem so “far out” as we used to say in boarding school, become quite tangible!!  Now, I also got a second call for a telephone interview with another company but they are paying less than what I am making now.  So … we’ll see how another meeting goes today with a “team leader” from that office.  I feel confident.
Now, I also completed my application for “early retirement” when I turn 62 in July … in three months!  I am researching all the nooks and crannies but understand that I can still work but can only make a certain amount of money in addition to the retirement.  Shucks, I might even leave the country again and live abroad … writing and maybe teaching.  Again, I will keep you posted.  A good friend and his “dame” put me up for the weekend on their couch both Friday and Saturday nights!!  How nice it is to have cool friends like that, right?!?  Thanks to John Shelton and his girlfriend, Candy Williams … you guys are the best!  One friend even called me last night to let me know that she had a gentleman whose son just passed away and he might be looking for someone to help him in this three bedroom house!  “One never knows, do one!”
Now, the most important thing for me today … is my daughter’s birthday!!  Happy Birthday, “Squeezed Up Thing”, as I used to call her affectionately, as I used to spend hours hugging her and kissing those full blown cheeks!!  Funny thing is … her son … Caleb Isaac … has the same darn cheeks!!!  She has come a long way on “her journey”, as each of our journeys is different, wouldn’t you agree?!  So, may we NOT judge others as they “paddle” along their life’s river seeking destinations and satiating curiosities that only they may have, perhaps … even others have them and share them with them.  This morning I woke up feeling blessed.  Had a chance to watch the sun rise on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale near Sunrise Blvd.  All I could say was, “Thank you!”  I even get a chance to wish my only child – Ayanna Lynne – a Happy 34th Birthday!
You guys “rock on” today, okay!?
Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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