Keep Your Eyes Open

eyes open

 

It’s Tuesday …

What have you done for YOU lately?!  One of the most important things that one can do … in my opinion … is to learn to be aware of YOURSELF!  I mean, have you met that person who seems to know everything … except what they are talking about?!?  It is pertinent in today’s world that you know what you are talking about.  You can be easily sold “a bill of goods” … aka “complete nonsense” if you trust everybody and don’t do YOUR OWN research regarding situations in our world today.  Many of us have been corrupted by the “I’ll do anything it takes to get a head … ” attitude and end up “selling YOURSELF down the darn river”!  Avarice and greed … and keeping up with those “Jones’s” so to speak … have caused folks to nearly lose their minds, not to mention their friends and possessions!!  It’s all about balance, for the most part, which some folks just don’t have.  Worse yet, they don’t try to seek it!!  They play hide and go seek with themselves … really because they are the ONLY ones who are lost … and won’t admit it!  What to do?!?  First of all, calm down and breathe deep …  Get a taste of what it feels like to “really be you”!  Most of the time, there are no easy answers to “who am I” and it requires developing a real relationship … with ones SELF!!  Not so easy … especially for two faced phonies!!

Well, Sunday night, I had the pleasure of watching some of the BET Awards Ceremony!  The speech given by Jesse Williams as he received the “Humanitarian of the Year” Award was impacting, on point and probably beyond some folks grasps … especially the racist!  Interesting thing, though Williams who used to be a school teacher and is now an actor on Grey’s Anatomy, gave a speech that was “right on point” as he challenged America and his co-African American actors to take a stand and dismantle the system here that promotes and facilitates systemic racism … be it to kill 15 year old Tamir Rice and claim “the child had a gun” in his hands … and cover it up through “the system’s laws”; or, to publicly kill Eric Garner on a street in New York City and claim that he was resisting arrest to the point that one cowardly cop placed his knee firmly on Garner’s head while his co-cronies continued to hold this asthmatic victim down literally choking him to death … on freaking national television.  Jesse said, and I quote: “This is for the real organizers all over the country.  The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, and the teachers of students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.”  Williams linked arms in Ferguson in the Fall of 2014 with the activists who stood up to the injustice that took place in Ferguson, MO after the murder of Michael Brown by a cop who was later acquitted.  Williams also executive produced the film “Stay Woke”, a documentary tracing the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement, which debuted in May of this year on BET.  His analysis of “our world” here in the USA regarding “whiteness” and the desire to take things of African Americans from culture to  money … to dignity and even “black life”  should be an indicator that the movement called “Black Life Matters” really matters!!

In closing, I wanted to mention the story of the kid named “Chauncy” who went from West Memphis where he and his mother barely survived to “the other side of town” to a Kroger’s store and offered to carry grocery bags for a box of donuts for he and his mother to eat.  One white gent gave Chauncy the opportunity to carry his groceries; yet, upon learning of his situation, decided to shop for he and his mother and take him home with the groceries!  Chauncy was given a “Go Fund Me” page by the humanitarian and as of yesterday, the page had accumulated around $100,000.00!  So, there are some people who keep their eyes open, like Chauncy, and others who offer to help when able to see the impact of social injustices on families like Chauncy and his mother!  So, keep YOUR eyes open … and do what you can to “stand up” to systemic racism.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Yogis Are Not Wimps … They Are Needed to Regain Human Balance!

meditation

 

It’s Friday … and a T.G.I.F. to you!

One never knows about things until you really research it.  Like for example yoga …or spirituality! These are two things that I just stumbled upon … knowing and feeling that I needed something a bit more than the Bible to feel complete and alive … you know I am a part of creation NOT destruction!  The spiritual “piece” I learned through the Bible and churches all over the world, who in my opinion, are searching for the same thing but using different routes to get to the same place.  For me, yoga provides the opportunity to combine the two realms, the physical and the spiritual, that I am convinced are at the core of our Creation!  Deep?!?  Good!  Nonsense?  Possibly!  I am just speaking for myself, you already know how I am … sharing my perspective!  Feel free to disagree.
I am convinced that the world does NOT need more slick talkers in the form of national leaders … I think of Putin of Russia or Jung Un of North Korea … who are ridiculously seeking power and money .. maybe even fame … at the expense of other people’s lives?  Yet, we are doing the same  thing here in the USA.  Now, I am not one to speak much on politics because I think it is all smoke and mirrors with the big “shakers and movers”  who have the money and power to get what THEY want from police and law makers … the Senate and courts and the “controllers” of the most pinnacle social institutions.  Example: The Supreme Court was “stalemated” with the emergency legislation that the POTUS had proposed to alleviate the “dysfunctionality” of current laws regarding immigrants generally already here.  Maybe 2 to 5 million Americans – immigrants that make beds as Obama said and clean our homes and run our service industries with hard low paid labor – are in limbo as a result of a missing Supreme Court Judge, whom Obama had nominated but the Repubs refused to confirm him.  Now, Marco Rubio (Republican), son of immigrants of Cuba who came to Florida – the state where he is running for the Senate again – supports the refusal of the Senate to approve Obama’s appointment of Supreme Court Justice … the 9th … whose vote would  break the deadlock … either way!  So perhaps like 2 million plus families will be affected, already here in the USA and not terrorist so the Republican controlled Congress can prove “that the President doesn’t write laws … Congress does!”  Thus, they can ignore the 2-5 million families needs and exercise their “power”!  These people need love, spirituality and “yogis” in their lives so they can learn to stop being so darn selfish and greedy … and destructive … of families!!
In closing, I wanted to mention the campaign slogan for a Republican of Tennessee named Rick Tyler.  He is of the “Trump philosophy” embracing the slogan “Make America White Again”!  Tyler said that he doesn’t have hatred for people of color but he wants to see “no break ins, no violent crime and no mass immigration” as in the television programs of old called “Leave It To Beaver” and “Ozzie and Harriet”, two programs with the white family at the core of it.  If I remember correctly, there were NO people of color in either sitcom!!  Do yo think some of these people could use “yoga” as a means of regaining their humanity … especially since they are representing other “humans”?!?  I don’t know but I think it would be worth a try!
Have a great weekend!
Peace,
John I. Cook, Director

The International Day of Yoga – 2016

yoga to the sky

 

Happy Tuesday, All!

Today is a very special day in many respects, as it is The International Day of Yoga – 2016.  If I am not mistaken, it was last year that the Prime Minister of India, Narenda Modi, proposed in an address to the United Nations that the 21st of June be designated as “The International Day of Yoga”!  It was accepted and the first International Day of Yoga was last year in 2015.  It seems that the “whole world is watching” the development of this day as something that may heal hurting souls and wayward minds as well as unstable behavior.
It has been noted that yoga, which seeks to unite the mind with the body through the breath, has healing properties, and, when slowing down ones breathing, it provides a certain amount of psychological stability, also slowing the thoughts that may be irrational indeed!  This is not “folklore” either.  Yoga has been linked to improved mental health, providing practitioners with a sense of well being and peace, and also, via chakras in specific locations in the body, aid improved body functions as well.  Each chakra is responsible for health and balance in certain parts of the body and provides strength, energy or creativity … even confidence and joy into ones life!  For example, the “camel pose” is designed to open your heart chakra to stimulate your love and openess, unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness.  If ones heart chakra is blocked, one may become possessive and codependent and form dysfunctional relationships.  There are many other poses that increase the health of the other 6 chakras … from the head or crown chakra to the root chakra, which is at the pelvic area and the human “core”.
This ancient practice considered to have its roots in India, has been embraced by people all over the world!  It is not that difficult, and, each of us “yogis” are only responsible for doing the best that we can with each asana … there is no competition, in other words.  For me, this is the beauty of yoga, and, there are various “styles” of yoga including “hot yoga”, which is a 90 minute session with the temperatures high enough to cause one to sweat substantially more that in vinyasa yoga.  Since I have been practicing yoga, which I started over 10 years ago on a rooftop gym overlooking Fort Lauderdale Beach called “The Zoo”, and had the pleasure of participating in a few “couples yoga” classes with my mate at that time, I have experienced exceptional peace and calm in the face of hostilities and turmoil!  Doing yoga on a rooftop where you can close your eyes, hear the ocean and, when you open your eyes … see the clouds over the Atlantic Ocean!!!
So, whether you like it or not … whether you practise it or not …. there are millions of people world-wide finding the benefits of this ancient practise which originated in India.  Take some time to send and receive energy today … the 2nd International Day of Yoga!
Namaste,

John I. Cook, Director

Happy Father’s Day Weekend!

son's hero

 

Happy Friday, y’all!

And a T.G.I.F. for each of youse!!  I often like to give humble blessings to my Creator for still allowing me to be around … spread my joy and hope and peace … shucks, I even like to sprinkle the whole “dish” with a bit of love when possible!  I am still in mourning for Orlando … with the multiple deaths in the area within one or two weeks … honestly, I lost count … peace be still.  A child partially eaten by an alligator … a musical artist/singer killed by a stalker … the massacre at Club Pulse … hmmmm.  Now, even Congress and the Democrats are being strongly encouraged to do something … anything … regarding “gun control laws”.  As one political leader stated: “Do nothing … is NOT an option!”
Well, it is Father’s Day Weekend … and I hope that all the “fathers” that I know … and those that I don’t know so well, have a great Father’s Day!  I will be honoring “Big Ike” Cook in my heart as he has been gone for well over 20 years now.  We were never that “close” close … if you know what I mean … but he was always there … I knew he was there … even though he was often very quiet … unless he got  mad at something or someone!!  He and I are both Moon Children/Cancers according to the zodiac and astrological signs and both of us can be moody.  Yet, he didn’t like liars and phonies and always encouraged me to work hard … a great work ethic was instilled in me by “Big Ike”.  Some of you may know that part of the family’s history … that he grew up on a farm in Northern Florida after being born in 1907 … decided he wanted to leave the “country” life style for the “Big City” … scooped up my mother, Marietta Dolores Watkins, from a farm in Lake City, and traveled with his brother and his brother’s new wife to New York City!!!  How cool is that for a country kid!?!
Isaac Henry Cook had said that the racism was so extreme and intense, and he had had to knock one or two “white men” out and off the porch of his mother’s home for “being disrespectful” and … since they wouldn’t leave, he encouraged them with a right jab or two …  Yes, he was considered an “uppity niggra” by the local farm folk, and he figured he’d better get out of the “Deep and Dirty South” of World War II Florida and try to raise a family where racism was not so prevalent!  They hit Harlem during the “Harlem Renaissance”, stayed in rooming houses … all four of them … and finally moved further North to Westchester County!!  “Big Ike” had a dream, too … that none of his kids would be growing up in the hostile racist South of his day!!!  I am his last son … and proud to say so!
So … to all you cool and functioning “Dads” out there, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day Weekend!  I am planning to visit my daughter and grandson who are staying with my sister in Port St. Lucie and spend a little time with them.  Thanks to my Creator, I have lived to see another Father’s Day!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

There But for the Grace of God . . . Go I!

Proverbs

 

It’s Tuesday … and a tumultuous one for many many people … in and around the Orlando, FL area … peace be still!

Some folks complain about any and everything!  Some complain because the world doesn’t bow down to them … nor do I!  Others complain about something that hasn’t even happened yet!!!  Yet, here is a community of folks who were targeted by an unstable person claiming affiliation with ISIS … but more troubled than anything else … who can’t accept others for OTHERS sexual preference!!!  How self-centered can you be?!?  No one asked this “character” for a date, a dollar … didn’t ask him for anything!!
In this case, the “ball was dropped” multiple times by investigators who said that this person’s name had come across their radar several times.  His wife complained that he seemed bi-polar and changed becoming hostile and violent towards her … even beating her!  Someone on his job stated that he is “always loud” and “bangs on the desks with his hands” whenever he got upset!  Even the State Department had him on their radar as being associated with terrorist philosophy as evidenced by some of his social media writings.  Omar Mateen was a very troubled 29 year old who apparently had a dislike of gays, especially men holding hands, kissing or showing affection in public.  He left his home over an hour away in Fort Pierce, Florida to the “safe place” for the LGBT Community in Orlando known as “Pulse” … downtown on Orange Ave. … to kill as many of the people in that club as he could!  His goal was to get in to the Club, shoot as many as he could with his AR 15 (a military style assault rifle! – who sells these … and for what?!?) and a hand gun … and get out and go back to Fort Pierce!!  Did he think he lived in vacuum or something?!?  Not very sane thoughts, to say the least.
Our lives are our own … and our Creator.  No one … NO ONE has the right to take it away nor make it unnecessarily uncomfortable for us … ANY of us … whether “you” like us or not!!  Who died and make “you” God!?!  It seems that this is the worst … yes the worst “mass murder” since “9/11”!  This character killed more innocent victims than at the Sandy Hook Elementary School!  Again, someone with mental instability manages to buy a military styled assault rifle to kill civilians!!!  When will it ever end?!?  Are we waiting for it to end … just by doing nothing?!?  Well, I think we need to do more … a lot more … hold more people accountable for their “dropping of the ball” … letting a mentally imbalanced person buy an AK 15 … especially a person who has had a history of violent behavior.  I have been turned down for an apartment due to charges I had over 10 years ago, even won the trial, but some places still won’t rent to me because of a firearm charge over 10 years ago!  I can be snagged and dragged in seconds.  Yet, these characters seem to get assistance in acquiring weapons to do harmful things to their fellow citizens.  Sometimes, I count my blessings … Yet, I can see clearly, that ” … there but for the grace of God, go I!”

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Take It Away

take away

 

Happy Friday, All!

I am so accustomed to it … I’ve got to do it … again!!!  T.G.I.F., y’all!
What a week it has been!!  We lost Mr. Ali … at least the physical being.  Yet, his legacy lives on … and on … and on!  It seems that we are down to … and I do mean “down” … to the last two persons running for POTUS!  It is kind of scary, though …. wondering whom the American people will choose this time!  “Pickin’s are slim … to none!”  It reminds me of the days of Jesus … when the people had to decide who would be crucified!!  The only difference is that whomever we pick … will be the next president … so … brace yourselves!!!
I have had the fortune of learning some spiritual skills that have become very valuable for me … like meditation, even yoga … for those of us who use it as a spiritual exercise.  As we approach a time in the world’s history, we can see fear gripping us through the actions of groups like ISIS and the heinous attacks on innocent people in Europe.  Many nations, including the USA, have become more conscious of the possibility of attacks by them on our soil!  Now, many of us are not as aware of the environmental dangers that our Earth is experiencing … from “El Nino” and its effects on our climate to tsunamis and floods and horrific storms resulting in tornadoes and deaths as well as destruction of homes to earthquakes and the leveling of entire communities by their force.  I am sure we may all agree that there is a lot more going on that we are NOT being told or informed about.  Can we take any of this stuff away!???  Obviously, the answer is “no”!  Fear permeates the very fabric of our society and everyone uses it from employers to religious leaders, from governments and law enforcement right down to local gangs that permeate our nation’s cites.  Where can we go to escape the onslaught of fear and negativity?  I meditate … and pray!  If nothing else goes well in a day for me, I am sure to take some time for myself to think loving thoughts of myself and those whom I know love me …  peace be still!
How are you handling the things that we can NOT take away?  Do they preoccupy your consciousness?  Does that preoccupation cause you to do things that you normally would not do … or things that may be detrimental to your mental health?  As I watch the Trump followers, some have gone as far as to say, “If following and believing in Trump’s ideas means I am a racist, then I am a racist!!”  How sick can we get?!?  Poverty is gripping so many humans world-wide.  Yet, here in the USA, often when poverty gets too unbearable, people rob and kill each other!!  Wouldn’t you think that “the architects of our society” … should there be such a thing anymore … would try to find a solution to this prevalent and growing “inequality” both financially and socially and which is causing a great rift between “the haves and the have nots”?!?  Many of us may speculate that the gun manufacturers are “profiting” from this systematic conflict which usually results in many of the “haves” owning guns to protect themselves from the “have nots” …. None of this makes sense to me if we are really trying to be what we “say” we are … world leaders concerned with righting “human injustice and inequality”, not to mention global conflicts?!!  But “they” want us to believe that they are … our political leaders, law enforcement officers and the court system … really concerned with problems in our world that are actually caused by this “human injustice and inequality”.  Instead, we see more prisons being built and more money going into the penal system than elsewhere.
So, in closing, just saying, today is a challenge for me …  Pray for me!
Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Just A Moment With You . . . Would Do!

self

 

Happy Tuesday ….

I say that with tongue in cheek, as another precious life was snuffed out due to gun violence in So
Flo.  This young lady had just graduated from Nova Southeastern University as a practical nurse.  She was at a massive house party in Miami Gardens this past weekend enjoying herself when a bullet came through the house and penetrated her head!!  She was only 25 years old . . . Alexandra Dean . . . and had so much life left ahead of her.  Both parents were distraught as they took to social media to honor their daughter!
We all know who once said, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!”?  Yes, he was “The Greatest”, Muhammad Ali!  Known world-wide for protesting his participation in a war against people “he didn’t even know” … and whom had never called him the n-word nor discriminated against him because of his race or religion, “Cassius Clay” changed his name to Muhammad Ali and proclaimed himself a Muslim early on in his boxing career.  He traveled all over the world promoting “self pride”, overcoming obstacles and what some might call “universal peace” …. He was my hero when I was in boarding school, and remains as such as long as I live!  Thank you for your gifts to humanity, Mr. Ali!
So, like Sunday and Monday … I have been having this strong feeling to talk with my Mother …  I mean, now that I have attended the 40th Reunion for the Class of ’76 of Princeton University, my next projects include a few challenges.  I just wanted to run a few things by Mom and Dad … to see what they think I should do!!  Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending a Raj Yoga Meditation at the home of Yogi Ganga in Miramar who trained me in the fundamentals of The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University’s principles and beliefs.  It was enlightening!  So, during the mediation, I tossed things around in my head, weighing my options and considering the positive and negative points.  I was still uneasy … having had multiple unexpected debts recently … and I needed some feedback, some encouragement, even.  At the meditation, our guest speaker, Alec, touched on a few subjects including the lack of “values of our world today” including “dishonesty” and “greed”.  It seems that these are very problematic in our world today … just saying!
After the guided meditation and a brief vegetarian snack prepared by Ganga, I stepped outside to chat with some folks from India … Bonnie, Page and another young gent!  The two gents are studying engineering and the young lady is a mother!  Bonnie had made a comment in our chat after the meditation regarding being selfless and personal self belief and “positivity”.  Perhaps, this is what my mother would have emphasized at this point.  Believe in yourself … Trust in The Creator … and don’t take challenges so personally, which is one of my big challenges when things “go wrong” … or not to my liking!  We talked about a woman “Deborah” who had been stabbed multiple times and her body was paralyzed on one side.  Yet, she continued to share her story with audiences on a national circuit sharing her “strength, hope and love” with all who are willing to listen.  I think I need to tune in … Thank you Alec, thank you Ganga … and thank you Bonnie!
In case you’re wondering, sometimes others have that tidbit of encouragement that you may be needing.  Stay open with your heart … and believe!
Peace,
John I. Cook, Director

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