Keeping The Peace . . . Or Not . . .

peace man

Happy Friday, ALL!

Right about now, I’ve got to tell youse … yes, I said “youse” … I believe in a power far greater than myself … or anyone else I know. Call it “universal harmony”, or God … or “positive energy” or “karma”. But please do know that there is an aura of energy out there that shapes things beyond our control. Even the Pope made a comment about his belief in “The Big Bang Theory” and the fact that it was fashioned by God!!

Just last night, I was working with a student that I tutor named Gabrielle. She really likes science, wants to be a doctor or a forensic scientist … and is in 11th grade at Nova High School. She is the young lady who attended the “Women’s Leadership Conference” which was held at my alma mater, Princeton University, this past summer. Her mother, Haitian American – Mildred, hired me as her tutor to give her a “love of English reading and writing” as well as enhance her conversation skills on a professional, at least collegiate, level. So, I had a couple of tough days with a company that has my bank account information and has been authorized to make recurring charges on my checking account for some Omega XL green lipped mussel oil tablets! So, you know, they took two monthly payments/charges … though the second one was not authorized. So, it threw my account off, as I pretty much live paycheck to paycheck and I couldn’t pay my cell phone bill until this morning! So, when I went to “Gabby’s” home in Miramar, trying to take a route with no tolls … and also without my cell phone which had her mother’s phone number, address and GPS … I got lost!!! I tried to take a route that her mother had told me about … it was full of traffic and I was due there at 6:30pm, my usual time. When I got off of I-75, I took a turn towards the West, though I should have gone East!! I was low on gas, a half hour late, and didn’t remember to write down their cell phone/home numbers nor address in my planner. So, I was really lost! When I went to get gas, I saw a woman who gave me the general direction of Flamingo Road, which I knew intersects with their “lake community” in Miramar, FL.

I started driving in that direction, looking for landmarks without my GPS nor any phone numbers. My mind was chattering … complaining to me about not having been fully prepared. My mind was telling me negative things, like … “Give up and go home and call them” and “That was a dumb move … leaving your service-less cell phone home!” though I did have my “Obama phone” from when I had gotten laid off from Platinum Marketing Group. So, I headed down Miramar Parkway which I hadn’t been on in years and wasn’t sure where I’d end up at. I didn’t want to let my student down and my natural desire to “do what I promise” and to “serve others” was pushing me to keep driving and to ignore those negative thoughts in my mind!! I wasn’t created to doubt myself … I kept going. Soon, I passed the entrance to this place that looked familiar … It was the entrance to the “lake community” where “Gabby” lives!! It was a long and winding road … around the lake I went noticing multiple gates with guards in their booths. I was lucky because I knew that the neighborhood where they lived did have an entrance booth but no gate!! Soon … with the utmost determination to figure this out, I saw the ONLY entrance off of the winding road without a guard and a gate! I had arrived. I was nearly a half hour late. I got to the door, leaving my windows down in the Compass and knocked. “Gabby” was there and we worked for fifty minutes on a project that she had to begin annotating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”! Peace be still . . .

Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies. In those moments, we have to keep peace in our mind, in our heart and our behavior. If we don’t, we play directly into the enemy’s hands … Peace is something I cherish, something that I advocate and something that I try to keep!

Peace!

John I. Cook

Just Doin’ What I Do!

Reach

Happy Hump Day, yeah!

It seems lately that I have been taking on some serious stuff, handling most of it pretty well … and with no complaints … and a little help from my friends! Just yesterday afternoon, after handling some issues with Bank of America and my checking account, I felt helpless … somewhat frustrated … and wanted to talk to my mother! Has that ever happened to you? It happens to me occasionally and I interpret that as her overseeing my carefulness in making decisions … especially those that frustrate me. People act “strange” sometimes … On my day job yesterday, I had one potential client telling me how special I was as we talked about her recovery from an illness and how she feels that the ONLY way she is here today is because of her Creator whom she chooses to call God. Then, I had one guy just answer his phone yelling and cursing as if he had “Ebola” or something!! No, this is not an “Ebola” joke … I wonder how people get so upset over a phone call … and what would happen if they had a REAL problem and how they would handle THAT! Say, on a battlefield in Afghanistan … would they still talk so much?! “Making something negative out of nothing … hmmmpfff!”

I have been “doing” Educational Excellence since like 2002. It has always been close to my heart as I try to make it something relevant … mostly to myself … but happy when other people find good things in EE that they can use in their lives! It is not about being “famous” or making lots of money. It keeps me humble, perhaps, so that if one day, I make a lot of money, I will know exactly what to do with it … as well as other resources that I share. It is easy to share love and peace … even happiness or humility. But these things aren’t so popular amongst most people or “the media”, if you will, so … we don’t value “them” much! What a travesty. That is why I keep doin’ what I do. I don’t want to be popular and I don’t want to be liked … though I like being appreciated for what I do. If those things come to me, I will humbly accept them and continue to be who I am. Yet, if those “things” don’t come to me, you can bet I will still be who I am.

On Friday, I will be doing a talk at Parkway Middle School here in Fort Lauderdale to a group of “at risk” boys. Now, this came about not because I know someone rich and powerful (ie – Trump). This came about because one of EE’s readers, Solveig Kirker, also a long time friend of mine, was at her son’s school for a meeting. She met a teacher, Patrick Cure Leon, who stated to her that he works with a “tough crowd”, so to speak. She told him that she had a friend – that would be me – who had a small business working with “at risk” youth. She gave him my information, she called me and told me, he called me … and we’re on for Friday morning!! Thank you Solveig, who, by the way is from Norway … super “Mary Kay” mom and a great cook! It is also Halloween, and the last day of an important month focusing on “breast cancer awareness” as well as domestic violence. October is almost over and “Oktoberfest” celebrations are closing and we embrace the Autumn season. Can we embrace each other as well? Can we embrace love , peace and happiness in its simplest forms while we “do ourselves”, so to speak? I think so!

Have a great Hump Day, y’all! I love doin’ what I do!

Peace,

John I. Cook

Peace Be With You

peace training

Happy Monday, All!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well and that you are ready for another wonderful week. I know that I am … full of gratitude … and peace. You know, it’s been a while now that I have been referring to myself as “Peace Boy” just to offset that little “angry guy” that used to come up way more often than I would like to admit! Yes, while I always tried to keep a smooth demeanor, certain things would really set me off like lying to me, and in the case of women, cheating on me. I could never understand why people did either, and, I even “tried them on for size” several times. Neither fits me well! Then, one day “we” learn that what other people do, is not necessarily a reflection on ourselves … it is a reflection on THEMself!

Yesterday, I had the fortune of having a full day! Yes, I even went downtown Saturday night where they had a beer festival … I don’t drink beer … but I had a great time looking at all the costumes as the street had been blocked off for the “block party”! After yoga at 11am Sunday morning, I met up with a client, a gent from Brazil, and we worked on accent reduction and proper pronunciation of words since he is a barber and needs to constantly talk to people. It went well. Afterwards, I drove down A-1-A in Fort Lauderdale, stopped by a few places I know, including Beach Place, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of a sunny Sunday afternoon on the Fort Lauderdale Strip!! Not many places like it … that I like so much, anyways!! Soon, I headed to Hollywood, FL to ArtsPark where the Brhama Kumaris hold their monthly “world peace meditation” in a beautiful area with trees, well kept foliage … and even a few colorful fountains as night comes on.

The topic was “finding peace within yourself”. As Roz did opening remarks and the music of a softer nature without lyrics played in the background, we all gathered in a semi-circle to begin the meditation. We also did some “Qui gong” breathing and stretching as a group to cleanse our inner organs. Sister Shirleen, a Brahma Kumaris now living in Jamaica, directed our thoughts to embrace peace. Her question was: “If we are peace, why are we always looking for it … and love and happiness?” The answer lies within . . . she had us discover. Once she finished, we again listened to some very soft meditative music as Kevin took us on a guided meditation “around the world” to different cities, where he spoke about how the people were “getting along” in these major cities in a peaceful loving fashion. This is what meditation is … quieting yourself … finding that peaceful place within, developing it, and learning to return to it with ease, time and time again. It was very fulfilling, uplifting … and yes … peaceful.

May we learn to value ourselves, what we are in our most natural state of peace and love and happiness. May we learn to share that with others ….

Peace,

John I. Cook

Are These Kids “kidding” Me?!

kidding me

T.G.I.F.! … for starters!!! So, now Canada gets to test their terrorist preparedness. You all can see that people are losing it … from ALL walks of life. I mean, folks are doing some bold near “boundless” things today … and to each other! Harshness is almost cool in the most interesting moments of some discussions. Now, I don’t have a problem with sharing and sharpening knowledge amongst friends and associates because there is a tactful way of doing that … even if one is “right”!

Did any of you see the news clips on this character in Ottawa? Wow!! I mean, to convert to Islam … or whatever … and then attack the people of the very country you are LIVING in … I don’t get it!! I know for some, it seems logical. It’s like when kids run away from home … for real or for a prank … and they always come back. Of course, if their Creator is willing, they will escape harm and get back “home”! These guys (and gals as with the girlfriend of the Marathon bomber) hang out “here” in this country … eating the food, drinking the water, driving the cars here (or there, as in this case in Canada) and then want to harm innocent people who haven’t directly harmed them?! What a perspective in life!!

The latest incidents that have shocked me are the ones here in SoFlo where high school kids are “tweeting” stuff about attacking fellow students and teachers AT school! Several students have been arrested in Coral Springs in the recent past for threatening “posts” on Twitter ranging from coming to “shoot up” the school to bringing weapons and exploding pipe bombs!! Half of these “kids” don’t know how to make pipe bombs nor have they seen or possess an “AK 47”! So, what are they talking about? Is “terrorism” becoming the new “cool”!? Are you “kidding” me? I mean, we had issues when we were in school, too. Yet, no one … and I did say NO ONE ever threatened to come and shoot up Rochambeau Elementary School or Highlands Jr. High School, even though there was a “race riot” at White Plains High School. The issue was “racial tension”, which was real and had to be dealt with since kids from diverse backgrounds were coming to attend WPHS! We are witnessing some seriously troubling times, and, I hope that we can deter these kids from acting so ignorant. Law enforcement officials are locking them up to demonstrate that “Twitter” is no place to try to pretend to be a terrorist, and, one can easily be discovered as the culprit! The “kid” at South Plantation High School was discovered as Twitter tipped off authorities as to the origins of the tweets! The authorities met him at school the next day and arrested him! He will be in court this morning … not in school!

Have a great Friday, reach out to the young people and listen to what they’re saying. Help them figure out some of the confusing thoughts they may have in response to “fun” or “anger”. Each one, teach one . . .

Peace,

John I. Cook

An Important Lesson Learned

follow your heart

Happy Hump Day, Y’aaallll!

Nothing like a good challenging experience to help one get re-focused and re-motivated! Did you ever notice how a challenge seems to give us a bit more depth of personality, perseverance even, perhaps more discipline … and self evaluation? This is one of my pet peeves, so to speak, to be able to accept my OWN criticism of myself! Now, I listen to others; but I have gotten “beat up” a few too many times being “honest and open” with folks, that I prefer to find my own errors, do some soul searching, re-direct my efforts, even ask a few close friends for advice … without being too obvious, and once again move “forward”!

So, the vehicle has been repaired to beyond my liking, so far. I got a new grill on my 2009 Compass that is white like the car. The front grill used to be silver colored plastic that had paint chipping. The repair shop got me this serious front grill and bumper and new “Jeep” logo in silver for the front of the hood. Yeah, I know, it’s all plastic but it looks really nice and fresh! Now, the ride … this thing has been aligned so well that it rides smooth, very smooth … and steady!

So, Tuesday, I hit the phones at work. It was a tough day for most of the best agents and I hovered around 4th place for most of the day. Now let me tell you … I got to talk with one possible patient who said, after my pitch,”It sounds like a “boiler room””. So, I told him, “Yeah, that’s what we do here … we would rather work than sit home. Make a little money … Have a good day!” I hung up. Then, after I closed a few deals, tough ones, I got this guy who told me, “Get a real job!” …. as he was home, too, “talkin’ smack” to me ….. and his mother whom I heard in the background … maybe his wife!!! I couldn’t get this comment out of my head. So, on my way to tutor my elementary school student in West Boca, I called my sister and told her that I needed a quick “meeting” or support group to clear my thoughts …. I was letting the devil get the best of me. I knew what to do but just needed some quick support. We both laughed as she told me NOT to call the guy back and to let it go, and, I agreed. Testing my patience, self discipline …. yes …. and humility!

The class with Stone was great, and, it also gave me an opportunity to feel a bit better about “things”, especially that darn comment. Sometimes, people can be so cruel … usually because they are lacking something in their own lives. It could be that they are just jealous of some of the self-control and discipline of the person whose buttons they are trying so desperately to push. Be careful, is what I have learned to tell myself, because when things are tough, the forces of evil aka “the devil” seek to destroy ones self confidence and self love. Appreciate the opportunity to learn yet another lesson … that’s what I do! Have a great day!

Peace,

John I. Cook

A Little Gratitude Goes A Long Way . . .

keep calm beatles

Happy Early Monday morning … if you are reading this around 7:30am which is the time I am expected to pick up my Jeep Compass from the repair shop. Organizing all of the business locations for the repair shop and Enterprise, who provided me with this incredible SUV/Truck 2015 Chevy Traverse as part of the insurance, to drop the rental off required a bit of attention … and help! I had a little help from my friends! Thanks!

Needless to say, as one goes through an accident, small fender-bender, the paper work and costs for everything and filing and completing claims with ones insurance company and repair shop, I wondered how I would do it. I spent hours trying to get money into my account so the rental could be set up on it which finally came from one of my bosses at the call center. He transferred the funds into my account needed for the deposit to hold the vehicle once he learned of my need. Interesting enough, yesterday was his birthday, young kid who served in the Gulf and is IT coordinator at the call center. I am grateful he offered that urgently needed help because I need a car to go to work!! Grateful for “Kimo” as the boys call Nik at work, … he’s a Greek American. He told me to pay him back when I’ve got it …

“A little help from my friends . . . ” So, last Friday, I was trying to get the e-mail done the night before and had saved it in my “draft” file so that when I got up in the morning, like today, all I had to do was finish it and send it. Well, I finished it, copied and pasted it to the blog at Educational Excellence … but forgot to send the e-mail out!! So around, 2pm Friday afternoon, I noticed a “missed call” from Vetalle Fusilier out of DC but since I work on the phones, I couldn’t answer nor return the call. Shortly afterwards, I got a text from “Vee” asking me if I was alright because he hadn’t gotten the e-mail from me and EE!!! I quickly replied that I had posted my link on Facebook but thought I had sent it out. When I checked, it was still “saved” in “drafts”!! So, I went back into my e-mail … from work … and hit “send”. A little help from my friends, I’m telling you!! Rafael Ventura Rosa usually hits me up when he doesn’t receive his e-mail from me and EE, and … not only do I appreciate it, but it makes me feel pretty good inside!

So, also Friday morning, I was coordinating with Robert “Bobby” Schulman, my old elementary school class mate from White Plains, since I had asked him if he could help me with this $500 deductible which I need to pay to the repair shop as soon as I finish sending this out. He agreed, “my brother from another mother”, and I sent him the information and received a confirmation that the funds had been placed in my account!! (This is the same friend who, two years ago, when I had mentioned that my mother didn’t have a plaque on her grave-site in the Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY, told me he would cover the $1,500.00 cost to create, produce and place the plaque … then fly me up for an impromptu ceremony at the Cemetery where Mom, Dad, my sister Barbara and grandma Mattie are buried!) We are in touch again, though we had lost contact like “Zack” and me had for like over 25 years … still friends …

The simplest prayer ever, which I say to my Creator each morning, is “thank you” …. I am truly blessed … with a little help from my friends! Thank you all … you know who you are!

Peace,

John I. Cook

It’s All Relative . . . Isn’t It?!?

Paulo Cohuelo

Happy Friday, All!

Every time I look around each day, I am inclined to see the marvels of the universe. Where do we humans fit in? Now that we’ve … er uh … “we’ve” created our own “world”, so to speak, what will we do with it? Is there an end to “progress”? That’s what “they” say about heaven … that is our final stop!! Believe it … or not?! Reincarnation theorists and believers say that we will come back as something … or someone … else! What do you think. Should our “next” experience be something that shapes our everyday adventures? Are WE all related? It’s the kind of thing that makes me go “hmmmmm” … so …. T.G.I.F.!

Have we truly already entered the “space age” … right here on Earth?!? We have drones now that can do nearly anything, fly almost anywhere. Rockets and space crafts land on the Moon and orbit the Earth …. even landing on “space stations”!! I got into this 2015 Chevy Traverse last night that GEICO provided for me as part of my insurance benefits, and the thing has so many “bells and whistles” that I couldn’t figure half of them out!! Even lights and fancy designs, mobile device connections … not to mention safety features like air bags everywhere!! I heard that Michael Jackson has earned an awful lot of money DEAD that people can’t even make while they are alive. Am I rambling yet?!? Of course, y’all!! Is it all relative? I mean, if you are rich or poor … fat or skinny … happy or sad … it is relative depending on what you are used to … where you are coming from … and … where you think you or “we” are going when we leave “here”! I know I am rambling now … just trying to make a point!!! Still not sure of what it is, heh?!

When I was younger … like in elementary school, my hopes and dreams were very simple. Get home from school without losing my books or getting into a fight. Then, in junior high school, I was concerned with being “first” trombone in orchestra or the best football player or basketball player! At prep school, I was concerned with “losing my identity”. College was even more different because I wanted to keep my GPA high enough to continue to receive my scholarship monies while I worked, too! It’s all relative to where you are in life, and, what you think about your life … or “life” in general, not to mention “life after death”! Don’t worry, I am just philosophizing … not contemplating ending my life … ’cause I am enjoying the journey. Even last night in yoga, Leiza, our instructor/yogi kept saying, “It is not the destination, it is the journey that counts!” Philosophize on THAT one … if you will!

Are “we” all related somehow? My friends with the Brahma Kumaris teach that we are each spirits of light and energy in our most basic form … and that, indeed … this is a journey. That’s why I like them. The spiritual foundation of “the church” talks a lot about peace and love and helping each other along this journey … regardless as to where we are in our individual journey … and regardless of our destinations. Or … do we ALL have the same destination?!?

‘nough said, enough philosophizing. Thank you all for reading, passing me and EE on to others … and for just being yourselves … Thank you! Have a great weekend.

Namaste

John I. Cook

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