What Is Karma?

Happy Friday, All!
Thanks for putting up with me!  I ain’t perfect but I know how to cheer “T.G.I.F.” every Friday!
Hopefully, there was no “huge” problem with getting last week’s e-mail yesterday, in particular those who didn’t sign up with Word Press yet to get the notifications.  Have you ever noticed that “you” were late realizing something?!  Like, that you had done something wrong, had even thought that “you” had gotten away with it until there was a “gentle reminder” from the “universe” that “it” knew that you had done something wrong?!?  Any of you readers believe in “karma”?  It takes some “maturity” and a lot of “spirituality” to realize that … “you ain’t foolin’ nobody but yo’self!”
Well, needless to say, I believe in “what goes around, comes around” … especially if “you” sent it!!  I don’t see how folks don’t understand that their behavior is being “observed” by “a power greater than ALL of us”!  I use to believe that there was like a “score card” on “good things done” in one column and “bad things done” in another column.  Once I realized that I liked doing “good things” more than “bad things”, I got rid of the “score card” concept, just to keep ME on the straight and narrow path.  I always feel better doing “good stuff”.  What about you?!?
Well, “life” here in Puerto Viejo is rather interesting from time to time, though my latest lesson has taught me to “stay to myself” unless genuinely invited otherwise!  “Coolness” for me.  Still, I have to remind myself “what I came here for” … to finish my third book!  I would also like to live in peace with the universe and have the best quality of life possible considering the challenges.  I am up for it, like I have always been for a “good time” or a “good game of anything”!  It’s so funny when I meet people here … who “think” they know me, but they don’t.  People still look at a “brother” like myself and imagine that I am “anything” other than what I really “am”.  Some people find it “hard” to believe because they are so “stuck” in the past and have never seen ‘the over-comers’ in person.  So, they go to what they have been taught either around the “dinner table” or hanging out with their favorite “chums”, probably also ignorant like them!  I love it when they finally realize that “they had me all … I said ALL … wrong!”  Either “they” smile and walk calmly away, probably angry because they were “wrong” about me … and they don’t like to be “wrong” about anything!  Or, they refuse to believe what they JUST learned … about me … from ME!  It was so funny, a guy who I thought “knew” me asked me in a rather “challenging tone”, “Why did you come here anyway?”  He already had some misinformation about me and some of the associates I have here so I knew he wasn’t ready for this!  I replied, “I came to finish my third book …”  You could hear crickets … and it was daytime.  I “dropped the mic” and walked away.  I am anxious to see his demeanor when we encounter each other again.
I have made a few mistakes in my life that I KNOW were “handled” by “karma” and my Creator, if you will.  One of the things that I always liked about the Bible was the many “scriptures” that still apply to our lives today … and always.  The “stories” are trying to teach us “humans” morality.  As you look around the world today, especially so called “leadership”, we can see that there is no longer any morality amongst THEM!  Now, I am NOT anti-atheist as long as “one” has morality.  Be what you want … just don’t pretend that you can “judge” me … ’cause we are pretty much the same.  I don’t need to do anything to you when you “offend” me (or anyone else) because the “universe” will GIVE YOU just what you need!  Of course, that might be a “swift kick in the a$$” from a mule, not the person you intended to offend! BOOM!
Let’s go forth with wisdom, kindness, pride for our existence, peace and love.  Challenge “evil” with “goodness”!

John I. Cook, Director


When You Try to Do Something(s) Good, Negativity Comes Around!

Happy Friday, All!
And if you haven’t already done so, let’s do a “T.G.I.F.”!
Yep, I am at it again!  Trying to identify “the enemy” aka “life’s challenges”, and move quietly, peacefully …. lovingly, if possible, past (or through) them … learning to enjoy the journey!  We all know about “good” vs. “evil” …. God vs. the devil, even “the yin/yang” concept.  I am not sure if those “opposites” have appeared in “your” journey, but they have been around my life forever … no pun intended!!  They often serve as road maps, this duality, though most successful endeavors require the tenacity to get going and often “pure grit” to get to a more placid plateau!  Quite often, I might add here, the challenges are within our “selves” … “we” created them, for one reason or another.
Health-wise, I am feeling some improvements!  Life is more enjoyable for me without screaming sirens every ten minutes and screaming people every other minute, not to mention “hostile” people seeking their goals in a world filled with others.  Like I mentioned earlier, I haven’t seen even a fist fight out here.  The energy of the people, somewhat fostered by the environment and the lifestyles in the Caribbean, is much more laid back.  While people still “play” their games, no one is visibly trying to hurt someone else in the street.  New Year’s Celebrations here in Puerto Viejo witnessed one death that I heard of … a deaf/mute woman of African/Jamaican descent was hit by a “hit and run” driver, left and … due to the challenging infrastructure of one road going in both directions and New Year’s Eve traffic, help didn’t arrive in time.  For me, the supplements of collagen and stinging nettle I take each day as well as the daily curcuma (tumeric) tea with ginger base and black pepper added with a splash of honey seem to be giving some long term relief.  The pain of the challenged hip area on both sides still comes and goes.  Yet, with a tablet of diclofenac (pain relief and anti-inflammatory) of 100 mg. in the morning, the pain is reduced so I can feel more comfortable.  As the day continues, I take doses of the “total extract” (CBD w/thc) as needed for pain relief.  I move slow, deliberately  (like a sloth!) … no running and jumping and trying to meet someone ELSE’S deadline(s).  I plan way ahead if I have to do something, including shaving and showering and/or going out to a restaurant or to enjoy “the Caribbean streets”!  At this stage of my life, retired and all, if I have to rush for it, it’s probably NOT meant for me … ’cause I am not rushing no where for no one.  The life-style and environment here are extremely therapeutic.  I am grateful to be here.
Like most of us “humans”, I have identified somethings that I want to accomplish as a goal “this year” … or whenever.  I have  noticed a pattern when heightening my “efforts” to achieve something … that demons come out of the “woodwork”.  That person who once seemed so calm and helpful is now seething with envy at “you” because you are actually “doing” something with your life!  Maybe “you” are doing it better than them or “you” are more successful or getting the “attention”  they so crave.  Has that ever happened to “you”?!?  Shucks, I have had people say, “I am trying to help you!” to which I reply, “No thanks, I don’t need that!”  The “universe” or our spiritual realm often challenges our intentions or goals, especially if they are too “self centered”.  It is almost like your positive energy and intentions “attract” negativity or the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish.  Sometimes, that negativity comes in the form of people who are envious of you and seeking to do you harm.  Other times, that negativity comes in the form of an unexpected “event” that gets “you” AWAY from intended harm or a hostile environment!  I have found that I MUST read the spiritual signs along the way because there are clearly “evil efforts” trying to get me off the course of my goals.  I have had so much “drama” in my past relationships that I am almost afraid to get involved and perhaps encounter “unnecessary drama”!
So, do your “spiritual” push ups (meditations) and keep your energy moving in a positive direction with something like yoga, swimming, walking or martial arts … or anything that brings you peace.  I promise you, if you are anything like me, the “journey” will continue to be filled with experiences, both yin and yang, good and evil, love and hate, peace versus violence.  I encourage “us” to choose wisely, for some things said and done cannot be reversed.  Pay attention to your inner workings, learn about your own strengths and areas needing improvement … and WORK on them … evolve them even!  Be patient with yourSELF with unconditional love!

John I. Cook, Director

Apologize, Be Humble . . . Stand Tall!

It’s Friday again, Folks!  I am feeling chipper and grateful … simultaneously!!  So … “T.G. to the I.F.”!!
It’s the first Friday and weekend of the New Year!  What are you going to do with it!!?  I hope something worth your time and experience along the journey.
Hey, tell me (you) something … Is it hard to say, “Look, I am sorry for that comment … ” or, am I the only person who has trouble with that one?!  I am “my Father’s son” and he didn’t like to say he was sorry, let alone that he ever did something wrong!  As a result, sometimes, I am overly grateful or thankful (I might say “thanks” a bunch of times!), but I don’t shift into the “I am sorry” mode too easily.  Yet, me, like my Dad, had to learn that “we” do stuff that is incorrect sometimes …  He for sure did NOT like to apologize as he felt, I think, that it would erode part of his authority base in the home.  My mother would occasionally apologize on behalf of “Dad”, especially when he “went out on a limb” looking for a culprit of stolen cookies or “chump change” left on the kitchen table.
As the New Year and Full Moon got closer, I felt a variety of sensations in my body, emotions ebbed and lulled.  I realized that I had to make a long overdue amend to a person who had helped me out a few times, in particular when I struggled with one of my demons and was “under the influence”.  I fought that demon and won, though I am ever so careful of what I put inside my body today!  I reached out and made my amend, I felt better … I felt like I had permission from the “universe” to move on and continue on my journey.  This, according to astrologers, was the time for “new beginnings”, not just New Year’s Celebrations.  Many of us “miss” that journey within which sometimes culminates in tears of joy as well as tears of a forgotten pain we once had.  I have learned to apologize for my “poor decisions” nowadays because I have come to understand that no matter what … “We are ONE” and all connected in one way or another.  Yes!  I wanted to “get my balance on” and move forward into a new year with renewed hopes and aspirations, continued goals and good behavior, and as much “peace and love” as I can conjure up along the way!!  What about YOU?!?
Our “egos” as humans are often way too big.  As I learned in one 12-step program, “ego” stands for “easing God out” and letting that ultimate selfish demon “in”!  Oh, hell no!  In my past experiences, and there have been many, I have found that when I let the “ego” take over, everything is “fake”!  I don’t feel too good, I am not proud of myself … and I don’t like feeling like that!  It feels contrary to who I really “AM”!  How many of you readers “know thyself”?!  You can lie for a minute to yourself, but you’ll come around, hopefully sooner than later!  We each have a gift … it is called “the present” … and if we tarry with it too long, it becomes “the past” – gone!  Can we ever get those opportunities back again!??  Will we be able to “recognize” the opportunity the next time the “universe” gives “us” a present moment to enjoy and evolve?!?  I hope so, folks!  It works for me.  I can apologize, being very humble, I can regroup … so far … and I can once again “stand tall”!
Make some changes, if necessary.  Be honest with YOURSELF with those changes …  In other words, “know thyself” a la Educational Excellence!  Enjoy your day and have a wonderful weekend!  Thanks so much for reading.

John I. Cook, Director

Just So You Know . . .

Happy Friday, All!
Since this is the last Friday of 2018, let’s do it up with a super grateful “T.G.I.F.”!  Alrighty then!!
By now, I think most of the readers of the e-mail messages/blog posts via Word Press and Facebook have a decent idea why I write these.  I have been told that “You think you’re so smart!” and “I guess you think that you are never wrong!”, which couldn’t be further from the truth!  I write what I think that most people DO NOT want to write about or address or think about anymore.  We have been freaking robotized into nothingness … which isn’t a bad start for the next level but we need thinking and feeling people for this “love revolution” … not robots!  We need folks who “know who they are” so they cannot be deceived by the “perpetrators”.  The “perpetrators” are those who “pretend to be down” but are not serious.  In other words, “love”, “peace”, “freedom”, “tolerance”, “acceptance”, “respect”, etcetera are simply “catch phrases” to be thrown about from time to time while “they” do nothing!  Now, it’s okay to “do nothing” but please, don’t get in the way of people who are serious about making needed changes … if only for themselves!  I try to be a “good person” because I think it is in harmony with nature and the goodness of us humans … not for any reward or recognition!
Many folks do stuff for the recognition and to be acknowledged.  If they don’t get that … and especially if they see someone else getting that “attention” … they go “buck wild” or “postal” as we have seen in the USA … over and freaking over again.  “I can’t …” is the only thing I can say about the situation there (and many other places in the world, too!)  This is the ONLY time that I will say “I can’t …” about something and that is the apathy and “sheep-like” behavior of the so-called “citizens” of the United States.  Horror after horror, tragedy after tragedy, shooting after shooting, racist excuses after racist excuses … I don’t want to hear it anymore!  Somebody Do something!  That’s why I write … I am doing something!  Hopefully raising my consciousness and a few of the readers, too!  I am thinking “outside of the box”  (WHAT box!?!) and seeking alternatives to “what we have been told”.  People nowadays are masterminds of “lies”.  It is sickening to me to be talked to by a person who is telling lies.  I would just as soon walk away from the mofo!  In fact, I give my friends, readers included, permission to “walk the hell away from me” if you think I am off base and lying to you … knowingly lying, of course.  Sometimes people “embellish” stuff while others just plain old lie about stuff!  My ex-friend from the States said to me, after calling me the n-word, that he is NOT a racist!  I am (was) trying to understand the psychology behind such a stupid statement but it is just that … a cover up for acute stupidity!  You don’t have to agree with me … I know!
These Holy Days have been incredible for me.  With the full moon and the Winter Solstice and the energy of Cancer, I was a spiritual mess!  I had a lot of stuff to figure out, and those things I couldn’t figure out, the universe just “shoved” me there!  I was shoved out of “nasty” people’s way, others “left town” to return at a later date, I had peace on “Christmas Day” and I didn’t celebrate anything other than “Gratitude” these “Holy Days”.  Shucks, I even cried a few times … mostly tears of joy, though I miss my parents like crazy.  I thought about my brother Henry Charles Cook aka “Hank” who committed suicide in Broward County Florida apparently out of depression and over intoxication.  I remembered my sister, Barbara Ann Powell (Cook) who had probably the roughest life I have ever witnessed so “up close and personal” and the day they found her murdered in her apartment in Mt. Vernon, NY … I thought about her kids … my niece and my nephew … we don’t get along so well …. seldom communicate.  I thought about my sister in Port St. Lucie, FL and our “strained relationship” … and her kids … and grandkids.  I was grateful to see my own child have a strong recovery from a heavy setback and give her son, my only grandchild, a wonderful Christmas.  I am just overall grateful to be where I am … one year living in Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica!  “Pura Vida!”
All of this is “Just So You Know …” you can “cut me off”, get rid of, stop communicating with me or reading me if my messages are too strong.  Sometimes I am like a pure drug or strong medicine – take “me” at your own risk!  I am bound to get a reaction.  Feel free to tell me, educate me, ’cause I want everyone to know as close to the truth as possible … “so help me God”!  (Nothing worse than a stupid person who doesn’t even care that they are in such bad shape!)  I was talking with a friend also from the states … a white guy … telling him my story with the “n-word” and how I was trying to be the character’s friend.  He said, “Some people have no morals!”  It kind of hit the nail on the head.  This guy doesn’t even care how stupid he sounds, he just wanted to offend me because he is less intelligent and I outshine his crusty ass!  But, I am not trying to outshine anybody!  I am trying to live MY BEST LIFE!  And if someone has a problem with that, that person has a SERIOUS problem!  Mainly because, I ain’t changing nor become more “flexible” so mofos get comfortable calling me the “n-word” around here.  I have a prepared presentation called, “From the Projects to Princeton”, for those needing a crash course in “Overcoming Racism  101”.
Is it so hard to RESPECT your fellow “humans” and the planet we were bestowed with to “get along and thrive”?!  If it is, maybe “you” should use your “super powers” and get lost so we can save the planet and humanity! If  not, we will destroy ourselves … one creature at a time …  Take the high road and seek our divine qualities rather than greed, deceit, corruption and turmoil.  Remember, you don’t have to agree with me nor like me (nor each other!)  Just show some “respect” so we can all get a long!  Enjoy these Holy Days and embrace the New Year – 2019!

John I. Cook, Director

Bring On The New Year – With Gratitude!

Happy Friday, All!
Yet, a simple and warm T.G.I.F. may suffice!
Simplicity is a theme that a lot of people get all “worked up” about.  Have you noticed those folks … it’s a kind of “lost” energy … who, no matter what you say, they want to “complicate it”?  There must be someone in their brain saying, “Let’s confuse the shoes off of this person because I don’t know what I am doing anyways!”  “Ha!”, a la Armond Hill, former roommate at Princeton and teammate on the Freshman Tiger’s men’s basketball team there for a year.  I just ask myself, “Why?”  Have these people ever heard of having “gratitude” instead of being a bold faced liar and a pure idiot at heart?!?  Harsh, right?!  I just don’t need these people’s burdens and negative energy in MY life!  “Straighten up and fly right, fool!”
Here in Puerto Viejo where I will be spending my second “Christmas Day” since I moved here ON “Christmas Day” one year ago, I met a wonderful … even cool Canadian family!  They live in Canada but have “Jewish” and “Middle Eastern” roots with a cute little “mixed” daughter!  They are away now for the Holy Days spending time with their families back in Canada … Toronto to be exact!  Stu Silverman and his wife, “Zoee” along with their 6 going on 7 year old daughter, Amira, have become like a “family” to me.  We live in the same house that is located within the property of Jacaranda Hotel and Jungle Garden – they are on the first floor of the multiple unit house and I am on the third floor though the opposite side of this house.  I experience a most incredible view from the third floor of this place and we see each other daily.  Stu has “coined” a celebration that he, his family and friends call “Gratitude”.  It is celebrated for 9 days starting with December 16th, I believe.  Each day, a person states (writes, thinks) of things that they are grateful for in their life, ponders it and shares it with close friends and/or family.  I like the idea a lot, not to mention, that I thrive on having gratitude …  In other words, I PAY ATTENTION to the things that I know that I should be grateful for … and not look for MORE!  Each day, a participant thinks of the same number of things to be grateful, culminating in “9 things” on the “9th day”!  Gratitude is a feeling that is initially very humbling, yet empowering in the long run.  Those things that we are “grateful for” become our “treasures” … we honor them!  That’s empowering, especially when someone “challenges” your gratitude for these things (people, places or things!).  I haven’t written anything down because my head is still spinning from all the things that I have been “thinking” about being grateful – it’s a lifestyle for me!
Well, I am grateful to be alive today, grateful to be able to care for myself with my physical challenges, and grateful for the “hutspa” to meet these and any other challenges “head on”!  Boom!  With peace and love, mehopes!  In my contemplation of things to be grateful for, I realized that I have to make an “amend” to someone that has been years … decades … in the making.  I am very grateful to have one child, Ayanna Lynne, who now has her own little “bundle of joy”, my ONLY grandchild – Caleb Isaac!  This is a “powerful” time of year with the Winter Solstice hovering in the universal elements.  With the energy of the full moon, it seems, I am anticipating more “spiritual flow” than ever!  What about you?!?  Do YOU have anything that you are grateful for today during these “Holy Days”?
Love you guys … and thank you for reading!  Happy Holy Days!

John I. Cook, Director

What’s In A “Friend”?

Happy Friday, All!
Once again, I’m in it … this thing called “life in the present”!  I think a cool T.G.I.F. might be appropriate here!
I woke up early for this one because I want to put an “issue” that is very important to me to rest.  In fact, there are two issues.  The first one, as one of my dual mottos for EE is – “Know Thyself”.  The second is – spiritual people don’t have to be your “whipping board”!  Cool?  I am listening to howling monkeys, roosters, and a variety of birds of all sizes here in the Caribbean right now as I write this.  I NEVER thought that I would be here at this time in my life.  Thank you, “universe”.  Om shanti …
It’s been a decent week for me … looking at my second yoga class this week!  I am taking All of these vitamin supplements from “Ortiga Mayor” (Stinging Nettle) and collagen (like 6 tablets a day) and I am still taking at least one prescription (diclofenac) anti-inflammatory combined with a pain reliever as well as an alternate dose of CBD/thc when I go out, do yoga or when I need to sleep.  I never thought I would be smart enough to be my own doctor either!  Thus, “know thyself” is important here, too.
Are you the kind of person that would be a good “friend” to someone?  Would “you” choose YOU to be your best friend?  In that case, “you” must be a good person with positive vibrations and values.  To be a good friend, you would have to “know yourself” and speak up when offended.  My father drilled this into my head in his own way.  He taught me to work hard and be very proud of my hard work.  He taught me to get along with ALL people but allow NO ONE to “walk all over you”, as was the expression in our household when someone had been disrespectful to one of the other family members.  This is where children learn important values from their parents and both of my parents were involved in instilling those “oh so important” values in us so we could live a quality life.
This last incident with the “American guy” who decided that “you (I) are giving the black culture the niger name” … as I quote again … I had to look at my notes because I have never heard anything so ridiculous as that in all MY life … is going to close … I hope!  There was an event of a good friend that I was fortunate enough to meet here in Puerto Viejo who is “indigenous”, well educated, well respected in the community, tri-lingual and a hard worker who does a lot of work at Casa Amma alongside an American woman from California.  His name is Leo and it was his birthday.  Upon entering the gathering after getting out of a local taxi, I was met with a bunch of kind hellos as I spotted the “character” with his mother and step dad.  Amidst the warm hellos, I heard: “Hey John, we’re all friends here!”  I think fast, sometimes too fast and incorrectly, but I know what his step dad was after.  I continued past the “character” not speaking nor acknowledging his presence (do I owe him or anyone else something special, like a “walk all over me”?!?) and extended my hand to his step dad and mother as well as a host of others.  As I approached a group of people who offered me a seat, I replied: “Yeah, that’s all based on how you talk to people.”  I am hoping we are done …
Spiritual people DO talk back to you.  Spiritual people of this day and age do NOT have to let “you” walk all over them.  Spiritual people just might use profanity to get their point across!  (That last one is a far stretch … yet it is me … and I want to be included in the spiritual group!)  Okay, hopefully you catch MY drift and “my” take on this subject.  I mean, don’t talk to me at ALL … UNLESS you anticipate that I just might respond.  That response might not be what you want … so … treat ME with much respect!  Treat each other with the same respect that we want.
Have a great Friday and a wonderful Holy Day Weekend!  Keep it real, you hear!?!

John I. Cook, Director

Let’s Do This Holy Day Season “UP”!

Happy Friday it is …  and a T.G.I.F. shout out to my Creator!
I hope all is well for each of you.  I am just glad that I can share these words with you!!
Did you “come up short” of your goals .. dreams … etcetera … this year?  Were they realistic ones, worth your time and energy, not just a carrot dangling in front of you to make you run faster?!?
Every year around this time, folks like me and you decide to make some goals commonly called “New Year’s Resolutions” or “tips for self improvement”.  Often times, due to the rat race and our overindulgence in “commercial things”, we NEGLECT OURSELVES!  I know, I know … right about now there is a chorus in the background singing, “Not mee … mee … mee … meeeee!”  Well, all that neglect stuff is out the window for me.  I only have so much time left … so I am going to maximize my experiences.  I am not sure what the “next step” is on this journey, but I want to be as prepared as possible and to have gotten all I can from the current experiences.
When I taught high school in White Plains, the Holy Day Season was a time of tremendous emotional “changes”.  Some folks were very happy and excited … while on the other hand, some folks were desperate and feeling lost.  Shucks, I remember one year on Christmas Day … I had to move!  There were no options … so … I think I spent the day in my car on Ft. Lauderdale Beach!  Shortly after I had informed a few of my friends of my situation, they came through to “help a brother out”.  After the Holy Days, I am planning to visit some of those very same folks.
I am fortunate to have struggled through some tough times on my own so I know how deep you have to dig for that “self love” when nobody else can be there for you.  This is where spiritual strength and conditioning come into existence.  It is this time of year when people “fall apart” out of jealously, envy or pure greed.  Back in boarding school in New Hampshire, circa 1970’s, we used an expression for things that we wanted to do well.  It was: “Let’s do this up!”  It was our motivation to, say for example, request a Third World Center for the “minority students” that attended this prestigious boarding school.  After all, we came to “diversify” things so .. it was only reasonable for the administration to help us “feel at home”.  I was the co-chairperson of the Third World Coalition which served to represent the needs of the newly accepted “minority students” who were invited to make St. Paul’s School a little more like “the real world” …  I think that they did a good job for us.  Besides, I am still here some 50 years later with “fond memories” of my boarding school days.
So, if you catch my drift, keep an eye out for each other during these days.  Some folks need “our love” … don’t be cheap.  It’s free to say a kind word or give a warm look and a smile to someone.  As the expression goes, “You never know what someone is going through …”  And in these times when humans focus more on “separation” of each other by religion, customs, appearance, etcetera, may we focus on “unity, harmony, respect, peace … and love” … ALL are FREE to give.  So let’s do this holy day season up right!
In the meantime, have a great weekend!

John I. Cook, Director

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