” . . . To Thine Own Self, Be True!”

This above all

Happy Monday, All!

“Yes, indeedy!” As my friend, “Petey” used to say!

It is another day of YOUR life! What will you do with it?! Will you squander it and make believe you’re upset that it is Monday? What day would you like it to be? Now, is that realistic … for everyday to be Saturday?! Not to worry, I have that same thought sometimes myself!

Human kind has been around for a while, apparently. So, some modes of behavior, if not most (or all!), have been around for a while. Take lying, for example! Now this is something that my father used to detest in us! He also didn’t like us going around talking negative about people and circumstances. So, naturally, I developed a kind of “phobia” for liars, phonies and negative people. For me, if a person tries to be the best that they can be, how much more can “we” ask? Yet, there are some who choose to try to “turn” others in to what they want, in to what they feel more comfortable with, even if they have to tell a lie on that person. You know, those kind of people that go around spreading their negative energy and poison to as many unsuspecting souls as possible … or that will “buy” their crap! I have had enough times when I “bumped up against myself” and realized that some changes had to be made.

From time to time, when faced with these kinds of inconsistencies in life, when someone tells a lie on you, or someone tells you a lie and … of course … you find out the truth, what do you do with the relationship that you had or have with that person? They are obviously in “denial” about something, upset about something, too. Enter “Mike George” 101! Do you guys remember the author and motivational speaker that I went to see with the Brahma Kumaris over a week ago?! Yes, he said: “The people who want to key the side of your car are here for a reason, too! Have compassion for them!” Now, I used to get really mad when people would stand in my face (or talk on the phone or text, as is most common today) and tell me a lie … a bold faced lie at that!! I used to think it was disrespectful for another person to stand in your face and try to get you to believe an “untruth”! I usually tell the truth because I feel better when I do … about myself! I want to live in as much a reality, given there are usually at least two (the one within and the one on the outside), as I possibly can. “We hold these truths to be self evident! That all men are created equal . . .” and so on and so on … and so on!

I like William Shakespeare’s words: “This above all, to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Though many folks nowadays are clueless, this quote from Hamlet can be self therapy, if taken for what it’s worth. This quote is also proof of how long … how many years … have humans been lying to each other! This is a practice that while I do not condone it, I am learning to have compassion for the”liar”! I am seeking to learn my lesson from the person who seeks to deceive me … for whatever reason. It may be difficult, especially if the liar is a person you have come to know, tried to trust, and maybe even be friends with. Take a few steps back, and be true to yourself!

Peace,

John I. Cook

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“Says WHO?”

Who

Happy Friday, All!

My usual thought upon opening my eyes are always, “Thank you!” I fell asleep last night thinking the same thing … So … T.G.I.F. must be in order as well!

In our world today with social media, newspapers and television, it seems “everybody” has an opinion. And “everyone” is always correct!! Some people are never wrong … and never give up being wrong either! An opinion is one thing, but to try to force ones opinion as fact is treacherous. Think about young people who are raised to think about women a certain way? How about children who are raised to think about a particular race or ethnic group in a certain way? How are statistics used to distort our reality or even create one that we can not justify? What do we do when we don’t feel good about the way we see things going on in our world today?

There was a mass shooting in Miami’s Liberty City earlier this week at like 2am in the morning. A memorial was held yesterday. The authorities think that it was a drug deal gone wrong or “something stupid”, as a representative for the Miami Dade police said. It seems that someone knows something … but no one wants to say anything … for fear of their lives!! Is this the kind of world we live in, at least in Liberty City?! I hear all the rumors about where LeBron James is going to play and why as well as that Speaker Boehner is going to sue President Obama for not carrying out his duties in accord with the law during his presidency!!! Can you say “Taxpayer’s money?!” It seems that everybody has their own “take” on everything … which is okay … but those “takes” are often negative!!! I have heard that there are some people who refuse to watch television news, as it often upsets them. Then, I think of my father who was basically self-taught to read, and was never a very good writer. He used to make everyone in the family be quiet when the evening news came on with Walter Cronkite, one of his favorite newscasters. One thing that I have learned to embrace in teaching or any form of sharing of information is to encourage people to think on their own!

Don’t always take what you hear someone say as law or “dogma” until you have done your own research. Don’t be afraid to do your own research and develop your own opinion. It seems it is easier for some folks to let “others” do their thinking, and this may be so. Just don’t always accept the easy way out!

Have a wonderful Friday and an even better weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook

Getting Things Done . . . Simply!

DaVinci

Happy Hump Day, y’all!

It seems like it was just a few days ago when I had a birthday … Don’t worry, it is not today … but next month. I have to admit that I still make mistakes. Not only in spelling sometimes in these e-mails or some basic grammar. Sometimes, I make mistakes in the “facts” … not intentionally though. So in Monday’s e-mail/blog post, I mistakenly assumed that Sacka Grifo, a friend whom I met in cyberspace, since her ideas and posts attracted me in a simple way, was from my hometown. So, she wrote me back asking me if I was from Montclair, NJ … to which the answer is obviously “no” … But she was nice about it, as she helped me correct a thought that I had. Yet, we do share the same birthday … same day, different year! She is a happily married Soul Star … and friend!

Here of late, I have had to deal with a lot of changes … nothing new for most of us. Yet, I continue to try to get these e-mails out and continue “being me”. Now, this morning upon waking up, a strong sensation of mentioning my landlord here where I live, “Mitch”, came to my mind. It is not my place to go into the depth and parameters of our friendship, both professional and personal, as he is an avid writer, too! But, if it were not for him, these e-mails wouldn’t be going out! As I have struggled with my changes with losses of jobs and incomes, keeping costs of things … goods and services like Comcast and Florida Power and Light … in decent standing and as up to date as possible, he has been a quiet supporter of my attempts at handling my challenges. I thank you, Mitch, and I know it is because you are allowing me to embrace my passion along this journey. Sincerely, thank you!

As the summer is pulling in to it’s “parking space” (or just space!) in our lives, many of us prepare for even more changes in our life styles. I have one student that I have been working with whose family is moving to South Carolina. We have developed quite the spiritual bond! This is something that can only be orchestrated by divine spiritual love and presence. There is a care that develops when people truly accept each other and work at understanding each other … with simplicity! The talk that Mike George gave this past Sunday at Unity on the Bay still resonates within me as it covered something that I have often struggled with, came up with my own solution of detachment as I had learned in 12 step self help programs, and implemented it as often as necessary so as to NOT let society define me as “a skin color” or “a mistake I made” or a “mishap I experienced”. Most of the people who have done some atrocious things, like the mass shooting in an apartment complex in Miami yesterday morning at around 5am where 80 rounds were fired in maybe two minutes leaving two dead and numerous people injured and frightened to near death, took something way too personally. Their concept of “self” took on a monstrosity of a meaning and they apparently felt that they were larger than life, the problem they sought to solve had to involve taking someone’s life … peace be still!

I can give so much credit to having learned to keep it simple and embrace the simplicity of life as others seek to complicate it beyond comprehension! Mike George provided a paradigm (model) to illustrate how we allow “things” and “events” to become our SELVES!! Jessica Fein’s rendition of India Arie’s song, “I Am Light!”, captured it so well. We indeed are NOT those things that we possess … We are NOT just the color of our skin! We each do NOT have to be limited by the conditions we may find ourselves in … we indeed are light!! Keep it simple, folks. It is the true art of living. Ask for help when we need it … say “thank you” when we get it. Pay it forward when we can … Be well … and have a wonderful Hump Day!

Peace,

John I. Cook

“I Am Light!”

I am light

Good morning, “Soul Starz”!

I must admit that the first time I heard this term, “Soul Starz”, has been in circles of friends who embrace meditation, or at least, thinking about things in a manner that we each are the center of our worlds. Yet, NOT in a narcissistic way, my friends! A good friend with the same birthday as me, she calls herself “Sacka Grifo” on a social network, who also grew up in my hometown around the time I taught Social Studies at White Plains High School, greets everyone in the morning with that title – “Soul Starz”! Yes, she is different … what about you!?

Are you “uniquely yourself”? Or are you a carbon copy of something you’ve seen in the movies or an image of some “sex symbol” or “money-making mogul”? We each have a choice of who we want to be and how we want to be it. We each have a choice to be on a collision course with everything and everybody or we can seek to live in harmony, not claiming anyone or anything as our “own”! According to the presentation of Mike George Sunday evening at Unity on the Bay, Miami, we each seek … or perhaps … should be seeking happiness, “self” knowledge and freedom along our individual journeys. Now let me make it clear, I have not read any of his books but the talk I experienced last night was worth a million words! His theme in the talk focused on how to live from the inside out and be your authentic self. Now that might be a lot of work for those of us who want to be a carbon copy of someone else, heh?!

Now, I always thought I was “deep” as we had generated that term during my adolescent “hippy-dom” as a group of us at the boarding school sought to navigate our ways through an environment and lifestyle that we hadn’t been exposed to before. And it was good, might I remind you! For me, anything that makes me grow – not to fight, suffer, struggle and conflict with others – is a primary experience I seek in my life. Mr. George alluded to life being something that we “live and create,” quite simply … or NOT? WE have been conditioned or socialized into a reality that is distinctly outside of ourselves and different from the reality that we experience from the “inside”. The process that he identified where we associate our “selves” with things outside of ourselves, and, when those “things” are affected, we too allow ourselves to become affected as if the “thing” is our SELF!! An example that Mike used was how one feels almost immediately upon seeing a coin or key mark along the side of one’s new “BMW”! This mark is actually on the vehicle; yet, some of us … maybe most of us … have internalized that possession as being our “self”, and, consequently suffer from the mark placed on it with an emotional reaction. We work so hard each day to get our “things” be it a nose job or a sprawling home located in a beautiful neighborhood in Hollywood, California! But when the aging process continues to affect our “new nose” or a natural disaster causes our luxurious home to fall prey to a massive sink hole, our realities become affected once again … and we’ve got to get another surgery or a new “home” …

The presentation was interactive as Mike asked us to turn to a neighbor, preferably someone we didn’t know, and tell that person what happiness “is” for them. The person I met was named “Debra” and we both agreed that happiness was “peace” for us. She elaborated a bit more as did I, and I mentioned how happiness is “harmony” for me! After allowing us some time to interact and chat, Mike then asked for us to say out loud what we found. After many many responses were heard, “contentment” seemed to be the primary expression of happiness … believe it … or not! He encouraged us to look up “eudonic” happiness as opposed to hedonic happiness, which is derived from external stimulation. He asked us if we feel better “giving” to others or “receiving” from others? Eudonic happiness is that joy which is long lasting, does NOT depend on any external stimulation, and comes from within each of us … when we “give” to others. This “giving” does not have to be money or things, but indeed can be love and support, unconditionally. That last bit is what I added … unconditionally … because we do it just “because” … because it makes us feel good to share positivity and see the happiness in another person’s life. Definitely something to think about … long and hard … or at least frequently, in particular when we experience some emotional discomfort and MUST detach from those “things” we believe we possess when they are threatened. We often respond as if someone is threatening our “self” when they say some “nasty little nasties”! When in reality, we are mistakenly accepting that person’s observation of who we are rather than detaching … even from their very hurtful words!

I could go on and on as Meredith Porte of WLRN and the Brahma Kumaris Miami said when introducing and closing the presentation for Mr. George. But, I want to close simply by mentioning that the “program” closed with a meditation by Sister Veronica, leader of the Brahma Kumaris in Florida, a well known non-profit organization in spiritual circles, and, an exceptionally perfect rendition of India Arie’s “I Am Light!” by singer Jessica Fein. Are you “light”?

A special thanks again to Roz Reich and the Brahma Kumaris from Hollywood as she organized an incredible outing … one to be remembered … for ever … and ever!

Have a wonder filled week … be well … and “Know Thyself”!

Om shanti!

John I. Cook, Director

“Be Yourself . . . Because You Are YOU!”

Mike George

Feliz Viernes … a todo el mundo!

Happy Friday, All!

Yes, yes . . . and T.G.l.F.! IT is another day you and me are trading in for our lives! And I think we’d better enjoy it! “Do the right thing!” Right about now, with this theme of “being your self”, so many quotes and anecdotes, so many authors and their sayings, so many moments of my life when I questioned my “self” swirl in my head. Those of you who know me and have some idea where I am coming from . . . not easy though . . . can hopefully embrace this notion of “being your self”. I am approaching a milestone in my own life with another birthday next month. Us humans like to “mark time” with different events as evidenced by the invention of the calendar, and only The Creator knows how far back that goes and who it was who thought it up.

All of the things we experience in life are indeed lessons. Each day is an opportunity to learn those new lessons, and, if possible, share it with others. Just a few days ago, there was a story in the news of a couple of young men in an obvious “home styled kitchen” restaurant here in Lauderhill or Ft. Lauderdale. The news story had a video of one of the youngsters stealing money from the tip jar that sat right on the counter where the patrons formed a line to place orders and receive their food. One of the young men must have reached in to the tip jar at least seven times, taking the money out, not noticing the camera over his head capturing each and every time he took bills from the jar! This character then paid for his food with the very same money he had stolen from the tip jar! Sad thing is, he thought it was funny … They are looking for this character, whose image was so clear on the video, to prosecute him. In the meantime, a viewer of Channel 7 News here saw the story and came to the restaurant with an envelope “full of money” to give to the waitress/counter clerk/mother who depended on those tips to get by!!! What an exceptional gesture of kindness this “suit and tie” clad gentleman displayed, which was also captured by the news staff at Channel 7, WSVN! He said, “I just wanted to help and wanted her to know that there are good people still left in the world!”

Back in my days at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, I was growing up like many a teen, and, no … I didn’t do EVERYTHING right. Yes, I made some mistakes in my youthful “ignorance”. Yet, upon my graduation, when asked to put a quote under my photograph to be placed in the yearbook, I wrote: “Be yourself, because you are you!” I was seventeen and had never heard of Oscar Wilde’s famous saying, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken!” Yet, after several short years on the planet, I came up with this quote to be placed underneath my prep school yearbook photo! Coincidence … or proof of who I was trying to become?! Now, today, I am not exactly sure of “who I am” nor exactly how I am going to “get there”, but I embrace every opportunity to “know myself” and share it with others. There are hundreds of quotes with this theme in it. This Sunday, “Meditation in Miami” presents an evening with bestselling author, Mike George, entitled “Free your self by being yourself.” It is being held at Unity on the Bay, 411 NE 21st Street, Miami on Sunday, June 22, 2014 from 5:30-7:30pm. The event is free! I plan to attend with my Brahma Kumaris friends after being invited by Roz Reich. I am excited to see my friends Marianne, Roz, Etta and Ella as well as Sister Veronica, who also spoke at last week’s “World Peace Meditation” in Hollywood’s Arts Park which I attended last Sunday. I look forward to hearing Mike George, too!

By all means, folks, give yourself a decent shot at life … after all, you deserve to be “you”!

Peace,

John I. Cook

Bringing People Together!

Fifa 2014

Happy Hump Day, All!

Yes, it is Wednesday again … How are you holding up? As for me, I am in the “one day at a time” mode! You know, the events in the Middle East and their “local terrorist” organizations … even North Africa … have caused the political world to go into a tail spin. Nations are choosing sides, kidnappings and killings continue and there is little … better said … NOTHING that any of us regular folk can do. Do you feel “powerless”? Do you want to make a difference? After all, most of that stuff is “way over there” … for now!

The powerlessness I often feel as this “funky” world turns is something I personally utilize to “bring people together”. Many of us have an energy that we haven’t tapped in to because we just “follow the leader”, do what others say … and do … often without question. Others of us continue to challenge the leaders from our “local soap boxes” where only our friends and neighbors hear us. Others have built their “soap boxes” on social media, as have I, to try to reach people and educate them … or taint them with our rhetoric … again, to see things as “we” do. I continue to seek peace in my own life as well as non-violence. Just yesterday morning, I heard this banging on a door on the second floor where I live. It was 4:37am and I wasn’t about to lay there until the banging stopped. I knew who it was … the neighbor’s drunken boyfriend whose clothes are set outside her door whenever he comes back late … and drunk. Once they even had the police come! He was back there the next day!! We had a confrontation, I threatened to call the police … he left running until about 7:30am after I had been able to get a few more hours of sleep. When he saw me, come out, he jumped into his car and left …

Monday night when I was on my way to yoga, I was trying to catch a few minutes of the USA vs Ghana but I needed to go to yoga. I got to the gym and there were like 30 people near the juice bar in front of the television watching the match!! One of the receptionist there at LA Fitness, Raiza, who has also become another one of my younger friends, is from Brazil. She is my “go to person” for information about the matches. The manager there, Henry, is another friend I have made over the two years I have been attending the LA Fitness on Cypress Creek near where I live. He is the one responsible for letting us watch the matches there, as he did during basketball season, as we went in and out of the gym to keep ourselves in shape. It was so nice to see people coming together like that, spontaneously, watching and cheering for the USA!

Have you done anything lately to “bring people together”? Try it … you might like it. Enjoy the FIFA 2014 World Cup Games, too! Thanks for reading, folks.

Peace,

John I. Cook

“Who Do You Serve?”

Worry

It’s Monday . . .

Yes, yes, it is another day to serve your Creator!! How might one do that? Look around and one can see numerous opportunities to do so. Here’s to hoping all you “Dads” out there had a very Happy Pappy’s Day! The weekend itself was quite a challenge as I had to sort through obligations to others while seeking to care for myself … and my Creator!

How often do we get caught up in serving “things”? How often do we get caught up in serving our “egos”? You know, a self-help program says that the EGO is ultimately “easing God out”! What do you think of that? I have to often check myself as I seek to handle situations in my life. So, Father’s Day for me was spent pretty much alone though I did go to the 11am service at Calvary Chapel in order to seek a message that might help me handle some of the challenges I face personally. I mean, we all face them. Oftentimes, we can pretend we don’t have them while looking at others with challenges … to make us feel better for a few moments. I try very hard NOT to serve that monster known as the “ego”, as it is often simply self centered. The service was a great opportunity for me to hear a positive message regarding “who I serve”, as discussed by Bob Barnes, Director at Sheridan House in Hollywood, FL. They take youngsters in who may be single parent mothers with no support groups or youth who have been labeled “at risk” for a variety of reasons. These youngsters still attend school with a tremendous support group from Sheridan House, many whom are on their school campuses to be able to respond to immediate needs. Mr. Barnes left us with the notion that we can serve our God by helping each other … and ourselves to become the best that we can be!

The rest of the day I had spent washing and drying clothes for this week as I usually do on Sundays, and, I had the opportunity to attend the Brahma Kumaris of Hollywood’s monthly “World Peace Meditation” with like minded souls. Sister Veronica, the leader of the Florida Brahma Kumaris came and spoke most profoundly on the subject of serving others with our peace … sharing it even! Has that ever crossed your mind? Or is it too full of egotistical stuff that you may want to impose on others? It is a very fine line between ourselves and others and we must be cognizant of that as well. This coming Sunday, June 22 at 5:30PM at Unity on the Bay Miami, author and lecturer Mike George will speak on his book entitled, “Being Yourself”! For more information, if you’d like to attend, call (305) 442-2252. A special thanks to Roz Reich who gave the “fathers” present at the Meditation a framed photo of the “light” with the inscription: “Peace . . . A Thought Away.”

Have a great Monday, all!

Peace,

John I. Cook

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