“Increasing Long Life, Good Fortune, and Wisdom” – Amitayus

wisdom 2015

Happy New Year’s Eve Day, y’all!

You can call it “Hump Day” … or … you can call it “the last day of the year 2014” … or … just another day!!!

Are you all excited or what?!? Well, I hope that we all have found something in OURSELVES that we can improve. It is so much easier to find fault in someone else than to take a good long deep look at ourselves!! Try some “self talk” in the mirror sometimes. Be honest with yourself, ’cause we all often wear masks!! Who are we hiding from? Probably, ourselves! It is also so much easier to talk about someone else … be it their faults or challenges in life … than it is to talk about ourselves … sincerely! Ha!

Certain values in our human society need to be “uncovered” because they have gotten lost in the competitive nature of our society. Getting ahead is the paramount goal of most people … as opposed to maybe, respecting each other and getting A.L.O.N.G.! Perceptions of reality, as I noticed in a post/quote by Kareem Abdul Jabar (Lew Alcindor from New York), can vary from person to person. Who is right? Who is wrong? Screw that!! Let’s all get along!! Let’s work on T.H.A.T.!

Do you ever feel like you want to get out of “here” or change things for the better?! It occurs to me from to time … if I could just float away up to the heavens. Just a few days ago, I was riding on I-95 along a cemetery off of Sunrise Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale … where my brother “Hank” was buried … I wished him a Happy Holy Day Season, too … RIP, Big Bro’! Of course, there were a few times when I remembered my mother and my father … even my sister Barbara Ann (RIP) who was killed in Mt. Vernon, NY by her then boyfriend during a drunken stupor and fight they had. Many of you have become like “family” to me. I feel like some of you are my “brother”, like Bobby Schulman or Robbie Williams who I often refer to as “Big Bro'”. Others are like a daughter to me – Natasha Carriles nearly saved my life when my own biological daughter rejected me some years ago … Love you, “Tashi”. Rafael Ventura Rosa, Vetalle Fusilier, Big Steve Morgan and Jose St. Elmo Wiltshire have each come to be like a brother to me, too. Can we really be one big human family??? Or must we be divisive, hurting each other and our environment with little or no care?!

So, New Year’s Eve, I will be joining a friend and yoga buddy whom I call “my partner in peace” for an event here in Oakland Park, FL with the same title as this e-mail. It is being sponsored the Drolma Kadampa Buddhist Center. The speaker will be a modern Buddhist monk, Gen Kelsan Norbu, both Wednesday night and Thursday morning, too! Sometimes, I like to try different things that may enhance my life, add a new dimension to my wisdom, a deeper understanding of my life … perhaps. Wishing each and every one of you, your friends and families … even the enemies … a Happy New Year – 2015!

“There is nothing more precious to us than our life.” – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche

Take what you can use … and leave the rest here on this page!

Peace and Blessings,

John I. Cook

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I Just Want To Say . . .

danke

Happy Monday, All!

It is the last Monday in 2014. In looking at this year, there has been so much that has taken place. No arena was spared from absolute drama, be it professional sports to reforms in the Catholic Church with this New Pope Francis!! Racial unrest in many cities as well as sex scandals including Bill Cosby’s accusers and the numerous “Hollywood Divorces” (just heard that Chris Rock and his wife split up!) as well as marriages in the music industry. There has been no scarcity of drama. The POTUS’s home was invaded and many military veterans displayed signs of post traumatic stress disorders through out this year as well. The “balance of power” has shifted in Congress; yet, Obama opened the doors of Cuba and released some POW’s back to Cuba in exchange for one US POW!! His administration continues to be scrutinized and blamed for any and everything possible!! Yet, many people from many different walks of life have come out over and over, including the police support for those two NYPD officers murdered while sitting in their car, to show support for BOTH the police and the people, like Eric Garner and Michael Brown (RIP, my brothers). Still, a new year is indeed … A NEW YEAR … and another opportunity to make needed changes in ones life.

Each time I send out the e-mails and create these posts for Educational Excellence, as I select each name individually, I often think of where I met “you” and how we became friends. I mean, everybody is not on this e-mail list (and you can still let me know if you want to be removed!!), so the first recipients of my e-mails are very special for a variety of reasons. The first one is putting up with my typographical or grammatical errors, which I have a chance to correct on EE’s blog. All the other reasons involve each of you letting me express my opinions, which you may not agree with, and even sending responses to me! I know, this whole thing is something different and I still have aspirations of doing some non-profit organizational building as well as getting this third book together!! “Life” is tightening its reigns on me as I seek to continue along my journey in peace with a bit of prosperity (very hard to come by for me!). So, I just wanted to say thank you for letting me be myself … perhaps a quirky writer, maybe a frustrated actor or even an avid teacher of sorts!!

It’s a New Year, let bygones be bygones, open yourselves up to new options, take some more risks … perhaps. But be happy … be at peace … and be well!

Sincerely,

John I. Cook

“Merry Christmas!!”

insidexmas

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

Yes, and tonight is Christmas Eve. Yes, I know, there are times when people can’t agree if to celebrate something or not to, to “crack” on someone who does celebrate “said holiday” or not to … OR … to find something positive in whatever holiday or event or situation in life … or NOT to! Lots of folks want to be “politically correct” while others could care less!!! I find myself mostly ” … living and let live!” Or, believe what you want … as long as it doesn’t hurt me or humanity. Of course, I will not “fight” anyone for disagreeing with me, nor will I stop communicating with anyone because they disagree with me!! That’s not mature!

So, when I say “Merry Christmas” to someone, I am remembering the warm times spent with my family and the values that THEY taught me were important, as they (values) pertained to Christmas. It was a family time … it was a time for “the kids” in the family … and it was a time to spend “quality time” … T.O.G.E.T.H.E.R. … as much as possible. Those were the days of sit down breakfasts and dinners when everyone was present at the “table”! Those were the days of “Excuse me! Could you please pass the butter?”, much like at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I remember the tree ornately decorated by “Big Ike” and the buzz going on in the kitchen as “Mother Mary” kept the vittles cooking all day, cakes a baking and light holiday music coming from the “console stereo” in the living room! When my daughter was born, we had a few decent Christmases, but never anything like those I used to experience as a kid.

In closing, all I am saying is enjoy Christmas the way a family would … the way YOUR family would … pull out all of the political stops and opposition to a wonderful “holy day” season, and . . . “Live and let Live!”

Merry Christmas!

John I. Cook

“The Gift of Giving!”

Life's Meaning

Happy Monday, y’all … and it’s the week of Christmas, too!

Is anyone getting into the Christmas spirit? You know, the spirit of giving “gifts”, and re-evaluating ones values and opinions, maybe even spiritual awareness? I love this time of year, even with all of the emphasis on expensive presents and activities. I like them, too, when possible! It all depends, but I really like the emphasis on doing “acts of kindness”. Now, I don’t go searching for those stories or opportunities but when I come across them, I thoroughly enjoy them … and share them.

How cool is it to be able to give something to someone? Here is where the concept or definition of “give” may need clarification or we may need to establish a basic premise, be it financial “giving” or personal developmental giving. Giving should be agreed to be providing someone with “something” that helps them to handle or correct a situation that needed immediate attention, pressing even. It is a “gift” to be able to give. It is an honor for someone to look to someone else to “give” them something they may need. Handle with care! That simple, yet important, act of kindness can come at a moment that many may call “life changing”. The giver as well as the “givee” may experience something in the moments of giving and then continued moments when one may see the gift being used well and appreciated!! Has that ever happened to you? It feels great, especially when the recipient notices the difference that your “gift” made in their life.

So, as we make our way through this Monday Christmas week, and, as we approach the end of 2014 and the beginning of a new year, not to mention the Winter Solstice, may we each identify some areas in our lives where we can make a difference, improve ourselves, even, as well as the world in which we live. Then of course, as many a “new year’s resolution” suggests, put it into practice! Have a great day!

Peace,

John I. Cook

“So, What Are You Doing For The Rest of Your Life?”

you and others

Happy Friday, All!

Long title, right?!?

I’m going to do it, as every day … I say … “Thank You!” upon opening my eyes … It’s a habit, but I try not to get out of bed to start my day with out saying a warm thank you to My Creator and the spirit of life that lives within me.

The end of another year is coming, Obama is putting more legislation in place regarding Cuba, and, as usual, folks are upset! I noticed how “the media” started flooding all the stories of politicians views of the plan to “open doors” between Cuba and the USA, especially here in Miami where the Cuban population is tremendous. Most politicians in Miami are Cubans, a few Haitians here and there and a handful of African Americans. Change is difficult, but doing the same thing over and over (as one comment was made) … with no positive change … is insanity. So, I follow the reasoning as those who support the move also agree, as long as caution is always in place at all times, that this is a good change of approaches to a terribly strained and stagnant relation.

So, what about you? … or ME? What are we doing for the rest of our lives? Well, let me tell you … just a few months ago, I was job searching on the internet for teaching jobs, and, a job came up for teaching English in China … with Disney!! So, the pay was great and there was a lot of reimbursement for necessary visas and documentation. I probably could have saved some money and even paid off some “not-so-big-bills”. So, I got through to the third interview/contact, which was on the internet on Skype. There was a technical difficulty with the fact that I didn’t have a headset thinking that my laptop had a speaker and microphone (?), so she had to call me by phone from China! Shortly after the interview began, she asked me how old I was and I answered 60. She then said that the Chinese government wouldn’t issue a visa for me to teach there because that is their retirement age. That ended my quest to return overseas to teach … for now! Next …

There is always Educational Excellence for me … I hope and pray and … work to keep it going, thankfully. I hope to get this third book moving in the next year. Sometimes, it seems my life is all about finances for now, tutoring is slow, and I am always looking for speaking/presentation opportunities. Keep me in mind, okay?! ?What about you ALL? Any plans for the New Year … resolutions even? I plan to continue my yoga classes, working in the call center, of course taking teaching assignments and tutoring when possible. I’m going to keep moving, learning, exploring and sharing … and writing! Let’s make some plans, okay?!

Going to hit the Arts Park Sunday where the Brahma Kumaris of Hollywood is holding the Peace in the Park Meditation hosted by Roz Reich, Young Circle at 5pm-ish. We have our Christmas Party for the call center tonight after work and I also plan to go to a good friend, Solveig’s place for a “Christmas Party” Saturday. Enjoy yourselves whatever you do … and be well.

Peace,

John I. Cook

“Be A Light In The Darkness”!

be a light

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

Well, I mean … one has to wonder what the Taliban was trying to do when scaling a wall for a military children’s school there in Pakistan … with guns and bombs strapped to their bodies!! The Taliban terrorists killed approximately 130 children!! This was after shooting the teacher dead … and burning her. The children are those of the Pakistani military … Peace be still!

Now, I had sent an e-mail identifying three holiday celebrations – Hanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. You may have noticed, as I did last night, that I omitted the Islamic celebration of Ramadan and/or Eid ul Adha, as unclear to me as the dates and meanings. It was not intentional, though I didn’t remember to include it. As I work more on myself spiritually, learning when I am tempted to judge others, not to mention how to control my emotions (as I get very emotional each time I see the videotape of that band of NYC gang members (NYPD) forcing Eric Garner to the ground and treating him like an animal, choking him and pressing his bare head into the cement sidewalk of a New York City street … while he said 11 times … “I can’t breathe!”) and not to judge even though I see the wrong in their doings. I felt much the same, though not able to identify as much with Pakistani school kids as I do with Eric Garner … for obvious reasons … when I saw how the Taliban treated and killed those innocent children who were studying in school. The barbaric behavior is much the same, though on a different scale. I don’t know if you have heard of the young African American male in a city in North Carolina who was found “hanged” on a swing-less swing structure recently. The 18 year old’s new Air Jordan sneakers were taken and replaced with sneakers that were two sizes too small and non-Jordan brand sneakers … the medical examiner ruled his death a suicide though the lad’s brother and mother said he only spoke of going to college next year. The sneakers he left his home with to take a walk were never recovered!! It was also discovered that this 18 year old was dating a divorced white woman of 30 years old or more … in the same town he was found hanged!!!!

As Hanukah celebrations continue from last night, I caught hold of this quote (or it caught hold of me!) when the Sotloff family planned to publicly light a menorah in honor of their son, Steven, who was killed by being beheaded by an ISOL terrorist. The quote is the title of this piece: “a little bit of light expels a lot of darkness”! Does this motivate you at all … to seek the truth, honesty and justice?!? Does it motivate you to “be the best that you can be”?! I hope so!

While enjoying this Wednesday, remember those less fortunate, those who are being mistreated in our world society, and pray for peace.

Namaste,

John I. Cook

“Get A Mindful of Yourself!”

zinn discipline

Happy Monday, y’all …. ALL Y’LL!

Here’s to hoping you made the most of your weekends … I certainly did. I thoroughly enjoyed Friday night at Capone’s where my buddy Brian Sarceno, promoter extraordinaire, had a sushi restaurant do a “plate” of free sushi placed all around and on some areas of a female model. She was bare except for a flesh colored brassiere and a flesh colored thong! She was gorgeous … long dark hair, clear skin and very exotic complexion and features. There was a theme of Japan throughout the club including umbrellas, lamp shades/covers and Oriental pictures. I enjoyed several pieces of exceptionally prepared sushi from a local sushi bar in Fort Lauderdale.

Saturday, I attended a meeting with a good friend, Marie Achille, some board members, the accountant, Marie (community organizer/office manager for H.E.R.O.) and a guest from Miami Dade Public Schools who is the friend of the board President, Max Paul. We brain stormed to get our guest aware of the structure and functions, including the mission and vision for H.E.R.O. I have worked with some of the Haitian adults tutoring them in English and teaching them interviewing skills as well as tips for employment opportunities. The guest has worked in case management and is now on several boards herself … and was also born in Haiti!

Okay, so, here it goes … What would you do if today … or tomorrow … there was a change in things – the entire social order of things! Supposing that “goods and services” were available to people who have been able to live and contribute to a “better quality of life” for the assigned community, maybe a commune or kibbutz. People were “paid” in service points which accumulate and are paid by a “big sister or brother” type entity when an individual demonstrates peace, love, harmony and actually helped a fellow-community person feel better about their life, improve their life, even if they didn’t have a “specific” problem. This “pay” would be more time to relax, meditate and ponder other ways of improving the “Utopian society”. One would be given access to more information about “philosophers and yogis” on websites and databases, healthy yet basic life sustaining foods, fruits, vegetables and beverages, and more time to develop further positive techniques to improve the quality of life in their assigned “kibbutz”! How about if millionaires were allowed to “spend” their money ONLY if they were helping SOMEONE ELSE’S HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE!? What would that mean to you? Enter Jon Kabat-Zinn and his “mindfulness meditation” technique and its applicability to aiding in the implementation of a new “social order” and very much needed changes for individual mental health including depression, stress anxiety and addiction.

There was a special on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s movement on “mindfulness” last night which explored his concept of mindfulness and how it may actually be utilized to help decrease stress and anxiety, even addiction and addictive behavior, not to mention allowing and providing people with a way to achieve “personal wellness”. This may be an option for treating so many in our society who suffer from mental illnesses, from depression, to abort suicidal tendencies as well as a desire to cause destruction on others in our societies. Imagine how things might change?! Would you be able to handle such a change?? By all means, Zinn “mindfulness” is worth looking into, if only for oneself!

Have a great Monday, and, be mindful of yourself and the things you say and do! You are exchanging this day for another opportunity to live your life, as this journey has been called.

Peace,

John I. Cook

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