Make It A Good One!

 

Happy Friday, Y’all!

As is customary for me, especially on Fridays … though I do it everyday several times a day … T.G.I.F., y’all!!

Sometimes, no matter how hard “we” may try, folks look for some reason to try to discredit “us”!  I have experienced situations like this … and I have also had people “show mercy” in situations where my behavior may have been questionable.  I guess it is fair to say that “We all make mistakes”!  Yet, there are some mistakes … and I use that term loosely … that are repeated over and over … thus, not a mistake … but a habit!!

Just yesterday, for example, I was watching the news and saw a report about Kelly Wright, a news reporter for FOX news.  Kelly is suing FOX news for a variety of reasons that falls under the title of “racial discrimination”.  There is a lot of information regarding the claims of keeping Mr. Wright from “moving ahead” professionally at FOX news as well as racially charged jokes around the office “water cooler” regarding “Black Lives Matter” and white co-workers walking around the office with “their hands up” …  Sometimes, even I just have to take a few steps back from feeling angry and learning to view these kind of people as “insensitive” and “heartless” to use just a few choice adjectives.  I mean, some women came forward to get Bill O’Reilly’s “payola” a$$ out of his previous position and now has come the time for apparently a very hard working Kelly Wright to get FOX News executives to answer some very serious charges.

It is very hard to “turn the other cheek” and often I prefer to “turn and run away”!  In situations like Mr. Wright’s circumstances, one has to turn to the legal options once the opposition to the talk around “the water cooler” seemed not to work.  I could be wrong but if FOX News kept Mr. Wright around the office, he must’ve been doing a good job.  I have held jobs here in Florida … SoFlo to be exact … where I did a good job, wasn’t promoted, and even though I spoke Spanish was held back from taking Spanish speaking client’s calls in one office … and ultimately “laid off” when the office relocated!  It was a blessing in disguise.  The management had NO ONE of color and the group of managers had all grown up together in Boca Raton … and so on and so on … and so on.  It was a diabetic lead generating call center … nothing really important … as they hustled people with insurance to create leads that they sold to diabetic supply companies.  FOX News is on another level all together.

Some days go wrong, so to speak, but ones attitude towards the thing(s) that goes wrong determines how much the events impact “your” life negatively.  When my last car got hit by a group driving in reverse on the beach, I had to figure out how to handle it without “losing much ground”.  I have a good friend who provided me with a “family bus pass” and I signed up for Uber … and let Capital One Auto Finance repossess my car.  That works out, too, because I do not plan to take my car to Europe or South America when I relocate in the next few months.  Sometimes, you just have to grin and bare it … and keep a positive attitude so that the things that come your way are appreciated.

So, whatever you do “Make it a good One” … whatever it is  … a day, a year … or a life time!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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“Around The World . . .”

 

Happy Hump Day, y’all!

You know that “Life Is Just A Moment” … and as the lyrics to this jazz classic by xylophonist Roy Ayers continues … ” … you better enjoy it!”  I am retired, so to speak, though I do little side jobs to enjoy the “little things” in my life like an occasional lunch or dinner out, a night out at the club(s) … or an afternoon at the beach.  I am not “high maintenance”, especially to myself!  Now, I don’t settle for less either, when it comes to certain things like self esteem or basic human pride, but I don’t need to have the latest of anything to feel like I am worth my own weight in gold … so to speak!!  I have been staying in “bed and breakfast” places in order to pay off my last bills and save funds to travel abroad.

Some of you may know that my short term plans involve spending my birthday in Barcelona, Spain, which is July 13th when I turn 63 years of age.  Many of you have helped me along this journey when the patch work was getting weak and I needed to keep an apartment or keep a car on the road to get to work though I couldn’t stand the most recent jobs that I have held in call centers ranging from generating leads for diabetic supplies to debt settlement programs.  I had a few arrests back about 10 years ago … one was serious (aggravated assault with a deadly weapon) though I was found “not guilty” by a jury of my peers for defending myself with a firearm.  The other was ridiculous as I was placed on probation for “discharge of a firearm in public” when a vagrant threatened to hit me with a crow bar and I fired a warning shot into the ground.  Since the jury had found me not guilty of the previous more serious charge, this was “Broward County court system’s” way of finally getting me incarcerated for a year.  I had a disagreement with my ex-wife while I was on probation.  She chased me as I ran away from her, fell entering our car … and I fled in the other car (we had “his and hers Jeeps), knowing that the authorities would try to violate my probation.  They did!  She had a panic attack in the courtroom during the trial and left when being questioned about the “complaint”, which was highly engineered by the Oakland Park Sheriff’s for Broward County, as she was Romanian and didn’t understand all the questions that were “fired” at her in the heat of the moment.  I was sentenced to serve one year in jail for violation of probation.  I was teaching English and reading at a small career college in the FTL and served as the “international student adviser” at the time and was fired … and “black listed” by the VP of the college after I appealed their refusal to pay me unemployment benefits … and WON!

I have had enough of the “system” and “the courts” and have managed to stay away from any charges for over 10 years now here in SoFlo!  Here, like in many places in America, an African American male can expect to be incarcerated or at least be arrested and racially profiled several times in “his” life time!  How scary … but true!  Of course, there are “disbelievers” of this concept of “racial profiling” whom I encourage to do your research … I won’t have this conversation with you EVER!!  Go study the facts and learn something today!  It is a time in my early retirement that I have been using to get my health checked out before I travel to Spain and hopefully other parts of Europe … who knows! … Maybe even Africa!  I want to travel and see other places that I haven’t seen or visited.  It seems that life is less expensive with my retirement benefits abroad than it would be here … in my own country!!  There are a lot of “ex-Pats” who live abroad!  I have done some research and found that Ecuador would be a pretty cool place to retire.  When I lived and taught English in Cali, Colombia, SA, I had a chance to visit several cities in Ecuador.  It is my second choice of places to retire and I am very familiar with it.  I do have a long time good female friend who lives in Germany who has agreed to meet me in Spain for my birthday … and we will see what happens after that.  I do want to write and finish my third manuscript and travel around the world a bit …

Wish me well, as I get closer to finalizing my tickets to travel to Spain as well as with my health.  I am up for a biopsy on my prostate next week to make sure that I don’t have cancer … I have been diagnosed with “degenerative osteoarthritis” in both hips and am planning to see an orthopedic specialist before traveling.  My yoga practices and sits in the jacuzzi as well as swimming have been excellent sources of relief from this condition as well as a medication that I take for pain and swelling.  I do not want to “travel” the hip replacement realm as I do not like surgery and stuff!  So, I continue to count my blessings!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

 

Happy Friday, Y’all!

I’m with it again . . . a hearty T.G.I.F.!!

These past few days, I have been thinking about some of the most important ingredients in my upbringing.  I don’t often mention my father, Isaac Henry Cook.  Yet, he was a gentle yet powerful force in our household.  He “let” my mother handle the discipline as she was much more diplomatic … understandably so … and I often recall stories of HIS childhood as he rarely shared stories of racial conflict and injustices.  He must have been holding in several “books” regarding the disrespect of African Americans in his community in the Florida of his time!  One thing he repeated over and over is that he and my mother, Marietta Dolores, didn’t want to raise their children in the same environment that they had grown up in … as it disgusted them both!  Their goal was to get married, get out of Florida, get to New York’s Harlem … and have some children, raise a family even.  Two girls, one boy … and finally me, we get to this point in our family’s history!

This is something that he always emphasized … respect each other … and respect yourself!!  Maybe I have the order reversed, but I think you catch my drift.  He commanded us to respect ourselves, and, that was the pinnacle of his child-rearing philosophy.  He never graduated from high school and I am not sure that he graduated from junior high school as it was called back in my day.  Again, he “let” my mother handle all of the administrative stuff in the household from paying bills, checking account management and credit card maintenance.  I never wondered if he could read or write because he was “my dad”.  Of course, I remember afternoons coming home after elementary school in White Plains.  Once he had gotten home from work and had taken off his work boots and sat down in his easy chair in the living room while my mother prepared dinner, I remember seeing his face immersed in the newspaper, “The Reporter Dispatch”.  I was a curious type of kid and often would climb up in his lap to see what was so interesting in those pages he held.  While I never questioned it, it was evident that he could read.  It wasn’t until later that I learned of the horror stories of so many African Americans who could NOT read and write … and who had been academically and systematically deprived of the opportunity of public education!  Yet, “Big Ike” had learned to read and write somehow because he spent hours with me reading stories and articles, comics and advertisements from “The Reporter Dispatch”!  It was just yesterday that I recalled how he used to chuckle after reading one of the popular comic strips in that section of the newspaper.  He would just start laughing, scrunching up his face, then arrive at the gut laugh until I asked him, “What’s so funny, Dad?”  He was compelled to tell me, so I climbed on his lap as he re-read the comic strip to me, explaining the funny parts of the comic strip.  Finally, I would join him in laughter once I understood the “punch line”.  In his own way, he showed us the importance of respect … and I still hold that dear to myself to this day.

What would make a Senator … from the state of Florida … who just happens to be a Republican … call a fellow member of Congress the “n”word followed by the “b” word during a session of Congress?!?  This wasn’t even in the bathroom … or in the hallway … but at a party in a private club frequented by members of Congress!!  The one good thing about this is that many many citizens of the State of Florida are calling for his resignation … his immediate resignation … and not accepting his “I’m sorry for what I said to you” story.  The citizens calling for his resignation were not ONLY African Americans either … there were also several white men who vehemently demanded that he go … no questions asked … just go!!  How do you think HIS parents raised him?!?  Do you think that he ever chuckled in his father’s lap about the “punch line” in a comic strip?  What makes people so morbid, hateful … and disrespectful?!?  I mean, damn … in this day and age … folks are still trying to get away with this type of behavior!  Not acceptable … at all!  And save those corny “sorrys” for some one ignorant … we don’t want to hear it!!

Teach mutual respect … it is one of our last human values!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Check Your Mental Health

 

It’s Hump Day, y’all!

I want to say a “Happy Hump Day” but I am still reeling a bit from the story of Stephen Stevens who shot and killed a grandfather, Robert Godwin, Sr. … in Cleveland, OH … because he and his girlfriend split up!!  This event earned this “psychopath” the title of “Facebook Murderer” … peace be still!

Well, it seems that Stephen told his mother before he went out on this “deadly rampage” that she would probably never see him again.  Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, that would be a “red flag”.  It is a clear indication that the person telling you this is mentally unstable, and you should contact the authorities immediately … even if it is your son!!!  There have been many studies done on the American population that indicate that many of us suffer from various forms and degrees of mental illness.  While it may be somewhat embarrassing to admit that ones son or daughter, husband or wife suffers from mental illness, but it seems to be a consequence of our society, and therefore, the stigma attached should be minimized if not erased completely.  There should be no shame in saving peoples lives, especially the innocent victims of these heinous crimes, “your” loved ones included.

Prince Harry, who lost his mother, Princess Dianna, when he was just 12 years old, has decided to go public with his bouts with mental illness as he sought to overcome depression and self doubt that he experienced.  Even his brother, Prince William, had a “facetime” conversation with Lady Gaga as they both opened up to the importance of letting folks know that you are experiencing depression and/or bouts with mental illness so that one can get the proper help.  We as a society have witnessed people like the beloved Robin Williams who purportedly committed suicide during one of his bouts with depression.  Who would have guessed that one of the funniest men alive then … would NOT be happy at some point, and want to end his life?!  It is no secret that many of our musical superstars including Michael Jackson and more recently “Prince” were having sleep issues and took tremendously powerful drugs to sedate their uneasiness.

Now, there are more and more incidents of regular people who are falling through the cracks as they suffer from mental challenges related to common things in life like breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend.  We can not as a society make it acceptable to kill someone because we have split up with our mate … or anything else like that.  So, please, make it a priority to check your mental health as well as the mental health of a loved one or associate.  Make it your responsibility to save as many peoples’s lives by “saying something”.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Happy Good Friday and Passover

 

It’s Friday, y’all … and it’s Good Friday, too!

Can we say, “T.G.I.F.”!?!  Passover began this past Monday evening as the Jewish celebrate having been freed from slavery in ancient Egypt!  I guess however we choose to look at it, so-called “Pagan Holiday” or not … it can still be a spiritual time!

It is interesting as I look at the world … you know … we are all caught up in somebody else’s dream it seems.  Some of us may enjoy exactly where “we” are at, what sometimes for me is best described as “a ball of confusion”.  I am just NOT one of those spirits that can say, “Oh well, there is nothing I can do about it so I will just go along with everything and everybody else.”  Not only do I believe that I have an activist’s heart and spirit, some things just shouldn’t be “gone along with”!  That concept of a “ball of confusion” is borrowed from the popular singing group from back in my day “The Temptations” who often used their platform as R & B super stars to include themes of “positivity” in regards to social issues ranging from suicide to drug addiction to the state of world affairs.  The way I see it, we are in troubling times … one group of humans developing missiles and bombs to drop on “fellow humans” while another group of human beings is dropping bombs on tunnels and airstrips used by still a third group of “human beings” who believe that it is their job to “destroy humanity”, so it seems.  Shall we just “go along with the self destruction”?!?  Indeed it is problematic for the entire world not to mention babies being born each day in all parts of this near devastated planet!

We are living in a world designed by “humans”, and, keep in mind, everything we experience and feel quite often is part of someone else’s dream for humanity and our planet Earth … and indeed it is troubling to see that it revolves around power, money … and destruction!  Our modern day concept of “construction” is about building more and more structures to put on TOP of the Earth’s surface after we take things from the Earth’s interior like iron ore, coal … even diamonds … and attempt to “construct” things that “we” like from the tallest buildings on the planet to shiny rings for our fingers made from what we call the most “precious” stones in the world!!  Are we “humans” not precious enough to exalt to a higher level of devotion and care?!?  Are we destined to abandon our OWN spirituality for material things that WE humans create … and worship … as opposed to worshiping each other and our Creator?!?

In these next few days of Passover, Good Friday and Easter … may we take a moment to think about how we might improve the smaller realms of our individual realities to make “our” individual lives more meaningful.  Try not to feed into the madness as it appears to be accelerating our own demise … as human beings … not to mention the continued destruction of our temporary home Planet Earth!

Peace be with you,

 

John I. Cook, Director

My One And Only

 

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

Now, for me, this isn’t just any old “hump day”.  It is a very special one as it is the birthday of my “one and only” child – my daughter, Ayanna Lynne!  Are any of you like … “only children” for one or more of your parents?!  It is an interesting feeling for me.  Sometimes, I feel like it is my only life line to this world.  Many of you know how sentimental I can get … and this is why I write.  I don’t write to try to be the best writer ever, nor to get accolades for whatever awards there might be for a particular writing style.  I write to express my feelings, maybe to get folks to feel something like I feel … or to get folks to feel anything at all!

My daughter is more of a private person than I am, although we are similarly cordial to close friends and family.  She is also very opinionated and has her own personality shaped by her own desires and her abilities to cope with life as it happens to her.  I am very proud of her … I have never had to get her out of any circumstances that were life threatening like being a gang member or addicted to drugs or alcohol.  She is a trooper in the truest since of the word.  She is very helpful, thoughtful and honest … perhaps sometimes, too honest!  She got that from both me and her mother, from whom I have been apart (divorced) since Ayanna was around 4 years of age.  Just the other day, she and her son, my grandson, Caleb Isaac, had gotten a visit from her mother and I was texting Ayanna and Caleb as I try to do each day, since they live in Connecticut and I am here in SoFlo.  I sent her a text saying that I am sure that her mother nor I thought that we would ever be grandparents … and we are … thanks to her!!  Her mother agreed!  Caleb will be 2 this year on October 19th and Ayanna is 35 today.

As I said, she tries to be helpful and has “shown me love” in various ways.  A couple of weeks ago, I had a doctor’s appointment and the co-pay was high for me … like $80.00 and I had several other bills to pay simultaneously.  I was assigned a specialist – a urologist – to see to further investigate a reading from my blood work.  I haven’t had these kinds of bills in a while since I haven’t had health or dental nor vision insurance in several years.  I also had to get x-rays for my hips and lungs as part of the annual check up …  She asked me if I could “handle it”, and I told her that I thought I could.  She chimed in, “If you need some help, let me know!”  As usual, I thought I had it all covered, and … in come two more bills that I had miscalculated and I needed a bit of help of like $50.00.  So, early Friday morning since I had to see the specialist the following Monday for x-rays, I sent Ayanna a text asking if she could help me out.  She said, “Sure!”  I was elated.  I am glad to have a daughter, who, serving as a single parent herself, is doing well enough to help “the old man out”!

So, in closing, I am once again expressing gratitude … and wishing my “one and only child” a Happy Birthday!  I love you, kiddo!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Everybody’s Working “The Room”!

 

Happy Friday, All!

You know that I always like to T.G.I.F.!!  I have so much to be grateful for …

This morning, I had a doctor’s appointment and everything was pretty much routine for my annual checkup which I haven’t had in over two years.  Back a couple years ago, I found that this pain I have had in first one hip, then the other … was called osteoarthritis.  The doctor who I had two years ago prescribed tramadol which made me itch and scratch like a heroin junkie …  The doctor then prescribed diclofenac instead.  Needless to say, I ran out of tablets and then no longer had insurance nor a doctor!  This past February after retiring and making less money, which made me eligible, I got medicaid through “Obamacare” and was assigned an insurance company and a doctor.  Recently,  I got a prescription for diclofenac with potassium to alleviate the pain and swelling.  I have also been doing the natural stuff – smoothies with green stuff and ginger, tumeric, krill oil and glucosamine with chondroitin – and had some relief … but not enough.  The diclofenac came in handy so that I could walk with more ease and increase my range of motion in my hips.  It’s a process, including yoga three times a week coupled with sitting in the jacuzzi for a half hour, swimming 6 -10 laps each time I practice yoga and revisiting the jacuzzi before showering and shaving and putting magnesium oil and Arnica pain relief oil on my hips.   The doctor said that my iron level is low, prescribed an iron supplement and said I need to see a urologist to make sure I don’t have prostate issues.  I am scheduled to see one in two weeks.

As I look at the international arena, which seems like a “comedy room” as they were called back in my amateur comedian days, I see so many politicians that really look like freaking comedians … if they think that people aka “citizens of the world” actually believe them.  Does anyone remember when we were kids and used to get together to play … be it a sport or just a curb-side game of marbles or stick ball??  Didn’t we play to have fun?  We used to laugh and yell, scream for the home runs and touchdowns and be sad if someone got hurt in the action … maybe even help them off the playing field.  It was fun and enjoyment that we were seeking, peak physical condition, high performance … and competition played a part in that, right!?!  I don’t remember us wanting to kill anyone, even if the coach said, “Hey, hit that quarterback hard when you tackle him so he knows what to expect each time he touches that ball!”  We knew we were competing, we had referees to manage the fairness and level of contact … shucks we even lined up and shook hands after our matches and games!  What ever happened to good sportsmanship in “real life”?!?  Why did we learn all that stuff anyways?!?  Why do we … allow our leaders to get so competitive that they want to kill someone, destroy a country, ruin the oceans, seas and land that WE live on?!?  Where are they “leading” us?  Since we “let them get away with it”, they continue to do it … over and over again. WHAT are we waiting for?  I know that the leaders have amassed power and wealth and at this point, it is hard to pull back on our support of them and the society that we have allowed them to establish.  Now a lot of folks accept a lot of things … but this type of leadership I refuse to respect and accept.  The leaders of countries like Syria, North Korea, Russia … even China … seem to be more focused on amassing more wealth, power, property and “land” … sad story … rather than enhancing the lives of the citizens of each country!!  Is that really “leadership”, folks?!  Maybe we should gear our educational programs to “turn this sh@t” around!!!  I refuse to sit back idly and accept this … so at least … I write about it … even speak about it when possible!

Just last night, I was on the phone with a college chum who lives in DC.  Man, we talked about everything from health remedies to what he’s been up to and the fact that he is meeting up with some other college chums from our alma mater who still stay in touch.  They are going to see an NBA game this weekend in the DC area, the team is The Washington Wizards, and have a good time!  I got to thinking, maybe we can teach these so-called “leaders” how to meet up to have fun and discuss ways to improve our world rather than to destroy it!!  I like to reach out to people and exchange “warm fuzzies” whenever possible!  Did you ever wish we could change the direction of our world?  I do ….  Let’s see what we can do to spread our beliefs, our concepts of leadership … our love!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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