Taking It to My Next Level

Happy Friday, again!

Giving it up to my Creator is common place for me today!  T.G.I.F. then at the top of my thoughts!  Sometimes, I look at my life and I am amazed and simultaneously grateful for so many blessings and opportunities to fulfill my life’s desires … helping others at things that I am good at!

The first time I heard about transcendental meditation, I was at St. Paul’s School, Concord, NH.  I was a senior and we were doing all sorts of radical things.  We … well some of “them” … painted ties on their bodies and went to chapel and classes like that!  Some of “us” wore our ties on our heads as head bands rather than on our necks as we were supposed to.  No, it wasn’t something I heard being discussed in class.  It was something that I heard another “Paulie”, JT Howell, say as he dashed through the dormitory hall at SPS.  He was the kind of guy who was always looking beyond whatever we were supposed to be looking at … like quantum physics.  I watched him one day meditating and I decided that it wasn’t for me … no action!  After all, I was an athlete!!  I needed action … then!  Now, I am embracing meditation!

I have almost finished reading a book by Dr. Joe Dispenza entitled “Becoming Supernatural”, which I had mentioned in a previous message and blog post.  The book was given to me by a young lady from Las Vegas, NV traveling from the Pacific side of Costa Rica and ended up here on the Caribbean side.  We met at the beach near Puerta Pirata, a fine vegan restaurant/shoppe run by friends, and she was swinging her dog, “Nala”, around like it was a baby!!  So, as she walked toward the shoppe where I was sitting, I approached her and struck up a conversation.  She told me what she was doing here, I told her that I was a retired teacher looking to heal myself and write another manuscript.  She mentioned that someone had given her a book that I might like reading.  I am unable to put it down now … all 300 something pages, diagrams, charts, graphs and brainwave images included!!  I have started meditating at 3:30am or 4 or whenever I wake up before morning.  This morning, the howling monkeys helped me keep my rhythm in the deep breathing required for reaching the transcendental state(s) of meditation.  According to Dr. Joe, and many case study participants, one can transform … heal … recondition, if you will, your genes and cells, tumors and tissue as well as cartilage through constant meditation.  There are current experiments being conducted focusing on relocating “stem cells” in ones own body with ones own meditations.  Can you say, “Becoming Supernatural”?!?  I am working on it!

So far, Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica is the place where I want to do my living, healing … and writing.  I don’t have to wait an hour for a bus to catch to the doctor’s office where I sit for one hour waiting in a room half to completely full of people.  I don’t have to argue with a primary care physician to get a prescription for pain relief and inflammation here … I buy it over the counter.  I can walk three or four blocks to the supermarket as well as the pharmacy and when I am ready, I can walk three blocks to the ocean … which I hear all night every night as I lay in the bed.  My new location/flat is a little more “upscale”, still no tv nor air conditioner, as it is a self-contained studio on the top floor (3rd) of a residence at the Jacaranda Hotel and Jungle Garden with various postcard views from my windows.  The sounds, including the youngsters at the day care across the street, but in particular the numerous species of birds, dogs, chickens … and howling monkeys, add to the healing aura that I seek!  This is my residence while the business address for Educational Excellence remains as my PO Box in Ft. Lauderdale.

Enjoy your weekends … step out of your comfort zone, if necessary.  That’s where the true “work” and living is done!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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Coming Full Circle: The Cycle(s) of Life!

Happy Friday, All!

This time, and like always, it’s imperative!  “T.G.I.F.”!

Did you ever start working on a task and found yourself deep in thought as to how you were going to handle the situation(s) ahead?!?  And then, after putting your “nose to the grind” and occasionally looking up until finally … when you look up again … it’s finished!!  Perhaps after many deep breaths, yoga sessions, meditations, prayers and/or church programs, “you” were able to complete the challenge that once loomed ominously before you.  Yet now, it lays quietly on the concrete behind you.

“Life” is not always that way, but “… if you hang around this Earth long enough, you’ll see things come full circle!”  It is one of my major motivational “thoughts”:  I know if I stick to the grind here, keeping my loving and caring/sharing feelings in full bloom, things will work themselves out!  I mean, “we” learn this from experience … should we decide to pay attention to the lessons of our life experiences.

My trip to my “business home base”, Ft. Lauderdale, FL was successful!  Friends came through over and over … I had lost a lot of weight so the first question that I had to answer for most was: “Darn, Cook!  You’re so skinny!  What’s happening?”  Most people got the explanation that I am starting to include more plant based foods into my diet as it seems to have helped many people overcome different disorders and diseases, like prostate cancer.  While reducing fish and chicken intake and learning about plant based foods that I actually can cook and like to eat, I have lost a bit of weight.  Those who asked me and had a little more time to talk got the full answer!  “Even while I was in Spain, Germany, France and Holland, I struggled with acid reflux!  There were times when I didn’t want to eat because my tummy hurt so much.  But, this time staying with my friend, John Shelton, and chatting I remembered that the best medicine for me against acid reflux is Prilosec OTC!”  My second day in Ft. Lauderdale after buying and taking the first of 14 tablets of a “three-treatment package” of Prilosec OTC, my appetite came back FULL FORCE!  Candy, Johnny’s lady friend, cooked up omelettes with Swiss cheese and veggies in it especially for me as well as an omelette with “crawfish” in it … Cajun-styled!  Shucks, Candy got down and made some “Candy-style fried potatoes” for us with onions and red peppers … cooked golden brown!  I ate like a “champ”!  “I got my appetite back!”  I have been trying to satiate this increased appetite within the realm of my food budget, which is the most expensive part of life here in Puerto Viejo!

When I got back to Ft. Lauderdale, I had some information from the lawyers, Unger & Kowitt, who represented me in the case I caught on the “4th of July, 2017”.  This was the event that pushed the needle as far as I could take it!  So, a pre-trial hearing was held in July and the results were: “No points on my license, $80.00 fee to Clerk of the Courts of Broward County (for hearing my case!)”  So, this is the result of my desire to follow instructions (unspoken by bus driver who let “us” off at the stop he chose!) as I enjoyed myself with a French friend (Alejandro Schmidt) on the 4th of July, 2017 in my own country – USA!!  (I wonder, what would have happened if I DIDN’T HAVE A DRIVER’S LICENSE, JUST AN I.D.?!)

The trip was also successful because my first day getting on “the ground” in Ft. Lauderdale, catching buses and visiting my primary care physician who was livid since I hadn’t visited him in one year, I got so much done.  I didn’t bring any baggage because I wanted to buy a small bag and stock up on some supplements that I had been looking for and inquiring about in Puerto Viejo.  Even the “health specialists” hadn’t heard of “Devil’s Claw” and its use in the treatment of osetoarthritis.  I didn’t carry my CBD/thc oil with me as it would’ve melted into nothingness, and my primary physician begrudgingly gave me a 15 day “script” for diclofenac 50 mgs.  So, as I ran my errands the first day, I put up with some fairly uncomfortable moments.

The second day, Tuesday last week, through the help of a hometown friend, Jacquie Young who picked me up and returned me to John’s place where I was staying for the week, I was able to present a motivational talk to the BSO’s “Community Justice Program” in Cooper City, FL.  My friend of many years in Broward County, Nicole Mercado Valencia, who runs the program invited me so that they could award me with a plaque for being a faithful community volunteer for that program!  Jacquie even took pictures!  The participants were very welcoming to me and each wrote an “evaluation” of my presentation, which included a demonstration of the “lotus position” for yoga and meditation as well as reading and reflecting on an excerpt from Dr. Joe Dispenza’s New York Times Best Seller, “Becoming Supernatural”.  His work on biofeedback and how to re-energize our “energy centers” or chakras to remove blockages as well as how to re-inform our body’s “cells” and molecular assignments, so to speak, has caught my attention and become the center of my healing.  I also got some flax seed oil and tablets and was gifted a bottle of “Black Seed Oil” by a friend also from White Plains, John Young, who was thinking of making the trip but opted out as something came up.  I got my fingerprints taken at the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department and then mailed them from the post office to the FBI Headquarters in Virginia myself, which completes the Stateside-steps needed to complete my application for residency here in Costa Rica.

As I sat here this morning writing at 8:00am, the rain was falling gently … then harder … and I inhaled the freshness of the air and observed the harmony of nature from my open windows.  Please, be sure to have a wonderful day.  The rain has stopped … the Sun’s out!  Always strive to be the best that YOU can be … no competition necessary … and “Know Thyself”!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Time Passes . . .

Happy Friday, All!

So I am up for it today, a hearty T.G.I.F.!  How does that make you feel … being grateful and stuff?!  Cool, I hope!

Well, this message comes on the heels of a highly charged spiritual morning I had a few days ago.  It goes something like this.

Waking up in the morning, listening to the extreme sounds of nature in a rain forest country and observing all the foliage heightens my senses and establishes a peace within me in which I feel at one with the universe.  Often on mornings like this, I relax in my bed, dangling my feet from the “foot” of the bed and just sit there.  Then, I had occasion two mornings ago to just flop back down on the bed!  I had no appointments at 7am, which is what time I usually sit up, though I wake up anywhere between 5 and 6am.

Two mornings ago, I woke up thinking about a public school and a boarding school buddy of mine, Robert Aurelius Hipp.  He was out of White Plains like me, and we both had been selected from “The Projects” to apply for St. Paul’s School.  We bonded from that process though our families were very close and had siblings of the same age as were “Bobby” and me.  His family was from the “Dirty South”, too, and his father was an expert mechanic and antique car restoration specialist.  We lived in the same apartment building, “135 South Lexington Avenue”.  My father and “Charlie Hipp” had that in common … cars!  “Bobby” was in our senior class triple dormitory room at St. Paul’s with me and Larry T. Woody out of Baltimore, MD … “College Park” to be exact.  All three of us played varsity basketball under Coach Blake who was also the director of the athletic department at St. Paul’s.  Strangely enough, our senior year, “Bobby” had a medical emergency one night while we slept that all but scared the shoes off of us.  We learned later, after he had passed away, that he had been suffering from cancerous tumors in his brain …  But before “Bobby” left this realm of existence, he had finished a business degree at the University of Wisconsin, landed a job back home in White Plains with General Foods as one of if not the youngest product manager … and had gotten married.  He left us in his early 20’s … peace be still …

I had just been inspired to write to Coach Blake the day before I woke up thinking about “Bobby”.  I also had been thinking about another boarding school buddy out of “Bed-Stuy” Brooklyn, Jose St. Elmo Wiltshire.  He left us a couple of years ago unexpectedly for me …  So here I am this morning, thinking of how wonderful these two people were in my childhood and growing up, and wanting to tell Coach Blake how much I appreciate and love him while he and I are both still here!  Do you have a “chip” on your shoulder for someone?  Get rid of it … it’s interrupting your peace!  Reach out to each other, take your time and care about each other, because these apparent “situations” are actually opportunities for us humans to grow and commune in love, peace and harmony!  TAKE those opportunities before they pass with time …

Have a great weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Keep Steppin’!

Happy Friday, All!

I will definitely get my praise on for my Creator today … T.G.I.F.!

Things in general are going okay for me here in Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica!  Retirement, or not working for anyone, suits me well.  Yet, I will work for y’all like this any day.  That’s just because facilitating learning and writing … is what I like to do!  It’s not work for me.  Each time I think back to some jerk bosses I had on jobs who felt intimidated because I knew and spoke Spanish fluently … and I am an African American male … and how they tried to keep me away from those assignments and gave them to Spanish speakers whom I knew Spanish better than, I chuckle!  I don’t miss those folks who run those call centers in Ft. Lauderdale!

So, I am sitting here looking out my window overlooking the daycare.  Power just came back on after a brief yet strong and steady rain most of last night.  Before I went to bed, I saw a gecko running on the wall near my screen-less windows, a larger than usual beetle cruising on the wall next to my bed, and a flying palmetto bug who, when I tried to get him off of my mosquito net over my bed, flew directly at me!!!  I almost broke my wall mirror trying to get away from this big bug!!  The only one who survived my “pre-bed ritual” is the gecko!  It’ll eat whatever is hanging around pestering me!  I love nature, as undaunted as it is sometimes!

Yeah, so how many of you know the Bob Marley classic tune of “Three Little Birds”?!  Well, my windows provide an excellent perch for as many “little and big birds” that they can hold who want to greet the new stranger in their neighborhood!  I am looking at two of them right now perched on the coconut palm tree just across the road and in front of the daycare.  Yesterday as I relaxed in bed, two of them, first one then the other, hung out atop the open wooden-framed window and peeked at me through the green colored curtains.  These curtains are thin and the heavier gold ones are closer to my bed.  Me, being the Nature Boy that I am, started to say hello and ask them how they were doing … in both languages!!  Crazy, right?!!  But a HAPPY crazy, y’all!

I have learned to stay focused and “keep steppin'” in the face of drama by asking myself: “Did I come to Costa Rica for THIS?”  If I can’t honestly answer myself “YES”, I get to steppin’!  Here, everybody is an expert on everything … including YOU, if you let them!! Lol!  I’ve been told to “eat this ..” and “drink that …” and “do this …” and “do that …” by some pretty interesting people who swear by whatever they are telling me.  Cool!  Yet, my motto for Educational Excellence is “Know Thyself” and I spend most of my “free time” in retirement doing exactly that!!  Usually, and I like this, I don’t need any help at this task! Ha!!  Just the ocean, some peace and quiet, maybe even the “Jungle Garden” here at Jacaranda Hotel and Jungle Garden.  I am doing a lot of cooking in my studio and have learned to prepare this incredible “ginger juice” with natural sweetener from sugar cane and some lime!  Yesterday, a friend told me to add mint leaves …  I might try that at some point.  But, I am content with my home made “ginger juice” which takes the place of Canada Dry’s ginger ale in my fridge!  Most mornings, I work on my manuscript and occasionally tutor some friends who run a restaurant in Spanish.  They are from the States and one or two could use a little “brush off” of those cobwebs that settle in when one does not practice a second language they learned before!

Next week, I will prepare for a brief trip to the States, Florida to be exact, and finish up some steps in this application for retirement residency in Costa Rica now that I think that I can survive alone … here in the rain forest jungle!  Yes, I know, I am exaggerating a bit … but it’s a cool place.  People keep telling me that they want to come and visit!  “Pura Vida!”

Have a great weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Happy Born Day to ME!

Happy Friday, All!

I am up  for a very special “T.G.I.F.” today … it’s my birthday!  Another opportunity to “be the best that I can be”, no competition necessary!  Just me, myself … and I! J.I. to be exact!  J.I. Cook, if you will!  Yes, I got up early for this one, y’all!

I started thinking about what to say today … about life and stuff.  I wanted to make it worth your while to read …  The theme of “compassion and coexistence” has come up since moving to my “new” flat (I am the first one to dwell in this third floor studio in Hotel Jacaranda and Jungle Garden) … over and over!  So I am on the third floor with two windows without screens that swing wide open just across from the treetops nearby!  The stairs are not an obstacle so far; they have become my daily exercise.  During my first night as I set a few things in place like my corner shrine that I “create” wherever I dwell from gifts and artifacts, seashells and post cards, coins and trinkets, I heard a noise in the corner where a bamboo rack with shelves sits.  I was “building” my meditation area on the bamboo shelves.  It is in the corner of the rooftop flat of this huge house in the rear of Jacaranda’s property run by a Canadian woman named “Vera”.  The apartment was just refinished, as it must have been a storage area for a while, and everything was in place … no holes no spaces anywhere.  But I kept hearing this sound like some small creature crawling, walking or flapping its wings or something!  I tapped the ceiling space above the bamboo rack and got a tiny response!  This morning on my birthday, as I sit here in Puerto Viejo with the rain gently falling at nearly 5am, I still don’t now what it is!  Can you say “coexistence”!?

Given the fact that there are no screens on those two big wooden windows and I am up as high as the coconut treetops, I see birds, bees, mosquitoes, beetles, flying ants, moths, flies and more!  Occasionally, one of the aforementioned will enter the studio as the curtains serving as screens and decorations often blow open with the tropical Caribbean breeze.  At first, I was alarmed.  “How dare this creature come in here while I am relaxing!”  Then I remembered, these creatures were here before this structure was built!!  I learned to let them out, coaxing them from corners and curtains until finally, I was able to scurry “it” out the window, usually unharmed!  Okay, now you can say it with me – “compassion”!

I noticed that people here have developed these incredible reflexes when a fly or mosquito has landed on them.  They don’t even look at it … they just brush it off … or pop it if it is a biting mosquito!!  I am developing similar reflexes as I now brush the biting ants off of my feet while I watch the guys play pick up basketball games every Wednesday at 3pm at the courts near “La Parada”, a cool restaurant at the main bus stop in “Puerto”.  If you want to, you can think of “community” at this point in my birthday message … ’cause that’s where I am going with this.  Imagine … if we could learn to LIVE in peace … rather than only “Rest In Peace” … and experience compassion, coexistence and community right here on Earth!  “Pura Vida!”

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

“Baby, Some Rain Must Fall!”

Happy  Friday, Mi Gente!

And a wonderful thanks to my Creator for the many many blessings!  T.G.I.F.!

Today, waking up to some steady yet cleansing rain here in Puerto Viejo has given me the title of this piece … no matter WHO you are, some rain must fall into ones life!  It comes from a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of the same title.  There have been hundreds of songs penned with the same theme in mind from Ella Fitzgerald to Eddie Fontaine.  That’s because it highlights a very common human condition – challenges!  It’s all in how you look at it.  It could easily become an “opportunity for growth”.  Who wants that nowadays!  All “we” want is more money … so “we” can buy more things for ourselves!  Who needs stuff like “growth” and “character” anyway.  “Man, this is a dog eat dog world!” BEEEEP!  Wrong answer!  WE ALL NEED GROWTH AND CHARACTER!

My last message was for my Dad’s birthday AND to celebrate the “4th of July” … and of course, Mrs. Fusilier’s birthday!  I was literally sobbing at points while writing as I remembered “our” hard learned lessons and “unspoken” care for each other.  Funny, that a lot of things that my Dad wasn’t, I am!  He didn’t like to philosophize so much as he liked to tell stories.  I got that from him!  Yet, he was never  one to say “I love you” to anyone.  Shucks, I don’t think I ever heard him say that to my mother.  Still, it was clear that he loved not only her … but “the ground she walked on”!  He was a protector while I am more of an “educator”.  I like to give examples, perhaps, of how I handled a situation for a person rather than try to protect someone.  Yet, I will do that, too … if necessary.

The challenge I recently had was after living six months in a cabin here on the property of an eccentric “bohemian” artist woman from Italy.  She has been living in Puerto Viejo for some 20 plus years!  They say that her father is or was a wealthy shoe maker in Italy who always bailed her out of her many many follies here, which they tell me have all been with local men … of color!!  The rumor is that she has a “love/hate” relationship with “black” men and some of these indications can be seen in her paintings … One in particular (I haven’t seen it) is of a black man having sex in multiple positions with multiple women …  So, her last “boyfriend” who she used to call “marido” (husband/spouse) was 30 years younger than her and was handsome and had a charm for all the tourist WOMEN who come here.  She was very possessive, and one day, as she saw him talking to another woman, she grabbed him and beat him mercilessly until … he struck back!!  He was arrested and served 3 months in jail.  Here, no matter what, a man cannot touch a woman.  I heard that my former landlady had been dragged into the street from her house by the mother of a young woman that her “marido” had been seeing and whom she (landlady) had struck in her rage separating the  two in one of her fits, and beat her mercilessly for the entire public to see!

Rain did fall, I got out, dried off … and moved on!

Have a great weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Celebrate YOUR Independence!

Happy Hump Day, Happy 4th of July, Happy Birthday “Big Ike” (RIP) …

And a Happy Birthday to my friend in the DC area’s mother, Mrs. Fusilier!  I often remember her birthday because it is the same as my father’s birthday.  Yes, I know that it is America’s Birthday, too, in a sense.  Yet, I try not to be a hypocrite and try to be a man of my word as they match my actions … so people know where I am coming from.  So, with a national leader that tells a congresswoman … of color … African American, in particular, that she’d better “be careful” with what she says in terms of rallying support AGAINST him, I am not feeling so patriotic!  While I can fathom “America’s Independence”, I don’t support anyone that makes any statements threatening … call it what you will … freedom of speech and stuff.  I am a New Yorker … born and raised there.  I am an African American of indigenous and African heritage, if you will, and I don’t support the direction of this country with current leadership.  So … teeth clenched and glad that I am in Costa Rica right now … Happy 4th of July!! You may remember my last message … The attorneys I hired sent me an e-mail … they had a “pre-trial hearing” for my ticket for “walking in the street while a sidewalk is available” and we are now awaiting a trial date.  These attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale, “Unger and Kowitz” have had my back for the past 15 years!  I don’t have to appear in court … and they ALWAYS WIN!

I am waking up in a new “flat” so to speak, more apartment style than my previous “jungle abode” with the Caribbean kitchen … and a rather eccentric “land lady”.  I am in Jacaranda Hotel and Jungle Garden on the third floor … that’s right … if anybody asks tell them … “Go all the way UP!” Lolz!!  After having to pay the electric bill for myself to avoid interruption of service AFTER having given the land lady close to $400 three days before, I asked her to give me the account number and let me pay my own electric bill, as most other people here who rent do for their tenants.  She gave me some “cock and bull” story about her house in San Jose … became enraged when I clearly rejected her “story” for not paying the bill last month … and threw my July rent money back at me and walked away …  We ALL have issues … but that is one that I ain’t dealing with out here!  I moved immediately.  I stayed at another Italian friend’s location with cabinas and apartments until yesterday when I moved here to Jacaranda.  It is nice, they are very attentive … AND professional.  $400 per month and everything is included!  Cleaning service once a week and kitchen supplies for my twin hot plate kitchen.  Can you say, “Still a single guy?!?”  I am cool with it all … I am enjoying the journey.

Now, the main reason for this message is to wish my father a Happy Heavenly Birthday!  Whenever I am walking up some stairs to Casa Ama where we had a Sunday “sat sang” service or whether I am walking up the stairs to OM Yoga Studio on Cashew Hill, I remember my father and our walks around the Grant House in White Plains, NY just steps from the hospital where he did NOT want to die …  His legs crunched … much like mine do now … but he kept moving as we took strolls around the block since he couldn’t balance himself at 80 years of age.  HE showed me how to keep moving forward when it hurt …  HE taught me to stand up and be a man … ALWAYS!  HE told me NOT to try to argue and fuss with everyone … because some people aren’t willing to hear you!  He taught me to walk away from a problem rather than escalate it … I never said it when you were alive … I LOVE YOU, MAN …

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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