The “Half-Way” Mark

half way point


Happy Hump Day, All!

Yeah, life is continuing to unfold, whether we like it or not.  So … why not like it?!
Growing up was so much fun for me.  As always, I give a lot of credit to my parents.  Remember, I was the youngest of four so I was often “too young” to understand but always liked to be in the midst of things!  My brother Hank, who’s burial site I pass every morning on the way to work off Sunrise Blvd. in the FTL, can testify how I was always doing head stands in the hallway of our tiny apartment in the Winbrook Projects.  When I fell, once, my father thought someone had “hurt” me.  I was crying like a baby and Hank looked on in horror, knowing that my father would blame him first!!!  I was always trying to be a “big boy” even though I was like a “little chump”.  Once I got into elementary school at Rochambeau on Fisher Avenue in White Plains before our schools voluntarily desegregated in White Plains, I got into a few fist fights …  I always wanted to be “the best” but I never like fighting.  For me, it was a last resort … when “others” were clearly trying to take advantage of me or the situation or when “others” were just bullies!!
So, sports became a big part of my life growing up.  If there was a relay foot race in the PJ’s, I wanted to be in it.  If there was a kickball game, I wanted to play.  Shucks … if there was a marble game, which we played on the side of South Lexington Ave. just next to the parked cars on the street and in the dirt just up from the curb, I wanted to play, too!  Yet, my favorite sports were track and field … just running – not the most avid jumper … and basketball!  My brother Hank showed me how to play … to dribble, to do a lay up, even a jump shot!  I enjoyed all kinds of sports though I liked to play some more than others … like kick ball!  There was something about kicking that red rubber ball from a good “pitcher” and watching it sail into the “outfield” and hoping no one could catch it!!  So much fun!!
Most contests or sporting events have a “half-time”, and so we have arrived at the Half-Way Mark of 2015.  Today is July 1st.  Now, I have a good friend, Frank Jones whose birthday is tomorrow, if I am not mistaken.  My dad’s birthday is the 4th, another good friend James “Ray Ray” Campbell’s birthday is the 9th … and mine is on the 13th!  “Summer Babies” are H.O.T.  … in one way or another!  So, take a minute folks, as this is the half-time of your year, to regroup, re-strategize even!  I know, I just made up a word “re-strategize” but it hits the mark!!  I’ve got more “tightening up” to do … some projects have taken back seat to more pressing issues.  Yet, I am well aware, and continue to mark time, that this is the half-way mark of 2015.  How about you?!?
Well, as we approach the 4th of July, our nation’s “birthday”, keep in mind that we are all pretty much in this struggle together.  Why not make it as much fun as possible!!  Be safe, too!  Be alert!

John I. Cook, Director


“Birthing Pains”

birthing pains


It’s Monday, All!
It’s the last week in June 2015 and Summer 2015 has officially begun!
Do you think that last week was probably a big moment in this nation’s history?  There were many changes in law as decided by the U S Supreme Court to allow same sex marriage in the entire United States as well as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being considered constitutionally legal contrary to the “richer” haters who could afford their own health care.  President Obama gave quite the moving speech at the funeral of the Reverend Senator Pinckney, RIP.  The Confederate flag is being taken down permanently from the building at the State Capitol there also in Charleston.  Donald Trump finally proved what many of us have already known … he is a rich, conniving … probably racist idiot.  I wonder where all of his supporters who wanted Obama to produce his birth certificate to prove he is an American citizen who happened to be voted two times into the office of the President of the United States are NOW?!?  A lot of changes in a short time … but this all came about because of “a process”, much like child birth.
As I gathered my thoughts Sunday morning and enjoyed a light breakfast, a cup of hot tea and some televangelists, I noticed the theme of “God giving us painful experiences” or … the simple fact that we must experience difficult (painful) times if we are to “give birth” to a new season in our lives, maybe a new event!   As I look at my own life, I often anticipate the “light at the end of the tunnel”, hopefully being something “good” to which I have been looking forward.  Though many many lives have been lost with the activities represented by the Confederate flag and the legacy of the Confederacy, changes have come full circle, though painful for many people.  Is this “just”?  How can we best handle similar situations in our own lives??  Does “No Pain No Gain” become a part of our daily mantras, too?!?  It is not so comfortable, that pain … those challenges we face.  Yet, it seems it is part of the “birthing pains” that come with the birthing process.  Be aware of when you’ve got to give birth to some “new” things in your life … and in others lives!
John I. Cook, Director

Stick to the Point, Please!

point taken


Happy Friday, Y’All!! So … uhhh … T.G.I.F.!!!
I  had to get it in there!  Tradition!
It indeed has been an interesting week.  One thing I always try to do is “gain” something …  knowledge, wisdom … people-wise … to help make my life a bit more the way I would like it to be.  There must be a whole field of “self-psychology” in some form or fashion.  I know, that’s a crazy comment.  Wide open for discussion!!
Have you ever experienced engaging in a discussion or conversation with someone, maybe attempting to illustrate or demonstrate a point?  Maybe defend yourself or something you said or did?!?  It’s normal to disagree, but how about Donald Trump’s capricious comments about Mexican and people who ” … come from all over South America!”?? Does that sound like a racist comment to you??  Can you see “it” – the racism – through all of his money and business investments?!?  Isn’t it amazing how “some” people think … even the wealthiest and purportedly “brightest business” person!?!
When I taught at City College here in Ft. Lauderdale, FL – a career college with various associate’s programs and several BA programs in business – I  had the privilege of teaching/facilitating the debate class!!  What a blast, watching those minds hold on to or even attack a “position” or “point of view” of their opponents.  That course, in addition to “Personal Development”, was amongst my favorite to teach.  You kind of learn to stick to the point, chart out your argument or position, and gather and illustrate information supporting your position or point of view.  Now, I always tell folks that I may not be the “smartest” person you know, but I attribute much of my happiness, equilibrium and “success”, if you will, to being organized.  It’s in the self-training for me, especially dealing with the “unfairness and injustices” in life.  The point is, I am a wonderful human being … doing this thing called “life”!
Just around the “bend” is July 4th … next weekend … so as summer sets in and the temperatures rise, enjoy the journey … and stick to the point!

John I. Cook, Director

“Fatherly Feelings”

the meaning of children


It’s Wednesday … aka “Hump Day”, Baby!
Yes, many of us “gents”, at least those whom I spoke to or communicated with, had a splendid and unique Father’s Day.  Each of us are different and each of us certainly deals with different circumstances.  Needless to say, many of our fathers were as different as we are … one from another.  But right about now … just for today … I want to say that though “men” in general and “fathers” (especially the simply biological type) usually get a “bad rap”, our roles are very important.  Now I do know some gents that I could ONLY imagine being the best of “dads”, something I admire a lot amongst the dads in that group of “former students” and friends of mine from White Plains High School and White Plains!  People whom I’ve become friends with that were students of mine have some of the most beautiful families, something I can say that I personally haven’t been as accomplished in over the long term.  So, I just want all the guys to know that I admire and respect youse “guys” for holding down your role in one of the most important institutions in ANY society.
My Dad was a guy that worked really hard, liked to smoke a pipe and cigars and have sit down meals at our humble table in The Winbrook Projects … 135 South Lexington Ave.  Apt 5A.  He liked to hunt deer during the winter and go watch the Mets play baseball during the summer.  He knew a lot about cars since he worked in several garages in the White Plains/Greenburgh area before landing a job with Pinkerton Detective Agency and even volunteering as an auxiliary police officer in the City of White Plains.  He was a good dad … serious as “Cancer” with a birthday on the “4th of July” to go with it!!  My birthday is just a week and two days after his!!  We and many many others … are “summer babies”!!  He was a good role model for me as he had had enough time to get “the father thing” down with the help of my mother and 3 kids … two girls and a boy … me not included.  My mother had mentioned some challenges that my father had when it came to helping me and my “limited skills” at being a father.  The way I see it, since I only fathered one child, I didn’t have enough time “practising” to be a father … that’s all!!  There were some tough times for me and the family I had tried to create … and there still are some challenging times … trust me!  Yet, for others I’ve met in my life, I have been an important part of their lives … younger people in general.  I was elated to get so many “Father’s Day” well wishes.
So, here’s a little informal, after the fact, “I ain’t talkin’ bout you behind yo’ back” shout out to all the guys I know who are dads … and good ones at that.  Don’t be too hard on yourself … I know I ain’t … ’cause I’ve done the best that I can do … and then some!  When I browsed the social network(s) and see the many photos of dads with their kids … and … like I mentioned before … lots of women who play that dual role “rock” that role, I am appreciative!  Be sure to keep those “fatherly feelings” because it is an important role that, in this day and time, with so many continued episodes in our society demonstrating the importance of a “father” in our families … of all races!
John I. Cook, Director

Take A Good Look at YOUR self!


Happy Monday, All!

Well, I don’t know about you all but I’ve had one emotional week … weekend … Father’s Day and International Day of Yoga … and a World Peace Meditation with my friends from the Brahma Kumaris.  The event that was held in Young Circle’s ArtsPark at 6PM yesterday was  helpful for me to put the things that have happened in our world and my world as well in the proper perspective for me.  In lay men’s terms, yesterday, the first day of summer, the Earth was the closest to the Sun as it has been this year.  Energy levels are at an all time high … it seems.  I know it was very warm outside … but I like it … I just think about all the days and nights I spent in freezing temperatures and snow!!!!  I am suddenly cured of complaining about the heat and humidity.  I just wanted to mention that … there were a few times that I actually had uncontrollable tears form in my eyes since that horrible massacre in the Mother Church, Emanuel AME there in Charleston, SC this past Wednesday.  I had renewed hope for humanity when I saw the faces and expressions … yes, and tears that fell from ALL people’s eyes there in Charleston as the entire City tried to heal.  I felt much the same as I do possess that sensitive side that feels things that others may feel  …    or a close proximity of feelings thereof …  I hurt a bit, too … Just thinking of what those wonderful people must have experienced … Peace be still …
Father’s Day started quiet for me … though I got a call from Natasha Carriles, a close friend whom I often called “my adopted daughter” since she had helped me through some challenging times a while back when I first came to Ft. Lauderdale.  Her’s was the first Father’s Day call Sunday, later followed by my sister Edna.  We wished each other a Happy Day since she is one of the women who plays the dual role!  Once I got up and turned on my computer, I noted an e-mail from Ayanna Belton, my daughter from my ex-wife.  It said, “Happy Father’s Day” … that was nice of her.  So, I was up and at ’em by then!  A good friend, Adonis Hoffman, lost his mother last week … I felt a bit of his pain … or at least, understood it as I (and he mentioned this, too, in an e-mail to me) have often missed and honored my mother … as a correspondence he sent me honors his.  Peace be with you Adonis.
As I go through this place … with a smile on my face, I seek ways each day to reach out to others in a very quiet way to encourage and nurture the case for peace.  When we each take a good look at ourselves, we can notice things that we can do better.  One of the speakers yesterday who is actually from Colombia and a member of the Brahma Kumaris said something very profound, as did “Kevin”, which we already knew.  Marco said, “A hug … a touch … even a smile … or the word “hello” transfer positive, peaceful even loving energy from one person to another.”  Kevin mentioned that we all “already knew” that there is a “supreme being” … call it what you will … but the energy that makes our universe function is created by an entity far greater than ourselves.  Imagine what we can do when we tap into that “divine energy”?!  Try it sometimes, there are many ways to take a good look at oneself.  Meditation and yoga go hand and hand … breath to breath … to balance our lives and help us find … peace!
Thank each of you for reading … have a lovely week!
Om shanti … shanti … shanti,
John I. Cook, Director

Acknowledge “Juneteenth” and Happy Father’s Day Weekend

the first juneteenth

Happy Friday, y’all …. and especially for the “fathers” who lost their lives in that church in Charleston at the hands of a social misfit … peace be still!   On a slightly more positive note before touching briefly on the history of that church in Charleston, SC, I wanted to wish a good friend and writer buddy of mine, Stokely Gittens, a Happy Father’s Day as his second son, Stokely Jr., was born just a few days ago!!  Okay, and while I am at it, let me wish all those biological mothers who play that dual role of “mother with father responsibilities” a Happy Day, too!!  And last but not least, though it seems that way for some of us … sometimes … Happy Father’s Day to all those genuine “fathers” in whatever shape or form you come in … as long as one is doing her/his best to play that “father role” when respected as such and allowed to do so.  That’s a wide range of options, purposely created so I could fit in there … somewhere!
The church where the tragedy occurred in Charleston, SC has a history deeply rooted in the African American’s fight to “become” equal citizens in a country which “they” helped to build.  I wasn’t there so I don’t take any credit.  Yet, I am proud of my predecessors and ancestors, and admire their fortitude, integrity and pure guts and courage in the face of horrid controversies!  The church itself was founded by Morris Brown in 1816.  Brown had tried attending the “other” MEC churches run by the whites in South Carolina.  He was frustrated from the racism he experienced when he tried to attend services at the white run churches.  So, as anyone with tenacity would do, he founded The African Methodist Episcopal Church there in Charleston.  The MEC was the model after which, in the late 1790’s, African Americans chose to model their African Methodist Churches after since the earlier MEC’s would not allow Africans to worship either!  Imagine, in the name of “God”, discrimination and racism stood firm.
This church in Charleston has come to be known as “The Mother Church” due to its historical relevance and core of what later became known as the Civil Rights Movement.  This “church” was the place where after being forced by fearful whites to stop holding services in public and whites who even burned the church to the ground once it was learned that Denmark Vesey had organized an aborted slave revolt there, the congregation continued meeting in “secret”.  This Church has been said to be a symbol of “Black Freedom” in this country …  In 1909, Booker T. Washington spoke there to an audience of black and whites, much like what occurred yesterday in the aftermath of the shooting of 9 church members during a Bible study on Wednesday night, but for a different reason.  In 1962, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke there and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP also spoke there around that time.  In 1969, Coretta Scott King led a march from The Mother Church aimed at creating a union for the black hospital workers there in Charleston.
On this Juneteenth 2015, which was first started in Texas on June 19th, 1865 when the “news” that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed by Pres. Lincoln, we must lay to rest still another generation of the congregation of Emanuel AME Church there in Charleston, SC.  Six women and three men lost their “Earthly” lives to the demonic behaviour of 20 year old Dylann Roof right there in that same church!!  Peace be still …. R.I.P. and in loving memory: Pastor and Senator Clementa Pinckey, 41; Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Ethel Lance, 70, who worked for 30 years at the church; Sister Suzie Jackson, 87; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Myra Thomson, 59; and Reverend Daniel Simmons, Jr., 74.
This Sunday, I will be participating in the Brahma Kumaris of Hollywood’s World Peace Meditation at 6PM at  ArtsPark in Young Circle here in Hollywood, FL.  It is also the International Day of Yoga … and Father’s Day!

Peace be with each of you,

John I. Cook, Director

Isn’t It The Content of Your Character That Counts Most?!?

character chart

Happy Hump Day, Y’all … ALL Y’all!

That’s what I’m talking about! … the content of ones character should “trump” all “things” … I’m just sayin’!  Our world … the one “we” made … by me I mean us “humans” … is not a world of perfection, and it (our world) too is subject to change, as are “we”.
By now, the media has thrust another “image” that they want to engrave in our minds … the image of Rachel Dolezal, the dishonest white woman who pretended to be an African American/bi-racial woman.  There are probably hundreds of versions of what she did and who she “is” as a result of it.  Don’t forget, it is important to the media that you “tilt your interpretation to ONE side” … the bad side of it!  Even her parents and little brother are jumping on the “she lacks integrity” wagon.  Let’s ignore all of the things she accomplished as the head of Seattle’s chapter, turn our heads to focus on the “evil” side and condemn this person for siding with … or better yet … wanting to BE considered African American …  In her words, “That’s what I identify with … Black people.”  Do any of you know white gals … and guys … with dreadlocks who listen to reggae music?!?  Do they lack “integrity”, too?  I know, perhaps we should “judge” her for “passing for bi-racial” so long, after suing Howard University … for being “white”!  Confused, maybe, trying to live out something in her heart?  Trying to make meaning of this life … and finding her own purpose in life?!?
Have there ever been eras in “human history” when people changed their names so as not to be recognized by “the oppressor”?  Hundreds of thousands of immigrants did this when “Coming to America” in their efforts to disguise who they were from birth to avoid the potential discrimination they might face “here” in the ” … land of the free, home of the brave …” and in “the melting pot” of the world’s cultures?!  Yet, here is someone who could pass “for black”, as outrageous as it might sound!!  Okay, I won’t go on and on trying to illustrate in words that people can choose to be who they want … and believe they are … inside.  Our world has a lot of people in it who wear masks or who have an identity that “they” weren’t born with … just sayin’!
Indeed, with other “whites” having served in leadership positions in the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), this may not come as a surprise to some.  But to WANT to be considered “black”????  Now, THAT is certainly against the “status quo” … and “you” might not be strong enough to do that!!  Just keep in mind, it IS the content of your character that is MOST important.  “Know Thyself” … Controversial enough … indeed!


John I. Cook, Director

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