Spiritual Flow

 

Happy Friday, All!

As is customary “up in here” with me and EE, T.G.I.F.!  “The Creator has a master plan!”

This trip has been so intriguing for me as I learn more about myself, human behaviour and our perceptions of the world we live in.  Needless to say, many of us focus on the material things.  That’s what we have been trained to do in order to keep the “social organization” well structured, so to speak, and our economies vibrant.  Some national economies have become stagnant, have failed and even been corrupted to a point where they no longer function for the “good of all”.  In come the avaricious oligarchs, if you will, who pounce on failing systems to claim for themselves what naturally belongs to all on the planet Earth.  I am sure at this point, I am getting way too philosophical … even spiritual .. for some of “us”.  I know, looking out for everyone is not something that many of us think that us humans should do.  Do you consider us “the human family”?  Or are we a bunch of bacteria, spiraling out of control in an effort to defeat each other in some realm or another?!?  In an effort to control resources so only our closest allies can benefit from the fruits of our Earth?!?  Who do we share with?  Who deserves our “attention”?  Our help? Our healthcare? … Our love?!?  Many of our human efforts focus on our “outsides”, control “over” resources, leaving some of us with none . . .

One aspect of myself that I have been focusing on during my “birthday” trip is improving my health, improving my relationship with myself … loving myself to healthy spiritual and physical existence.  Many of you know that I have some relatively small battles, as I have learned while reading a book called “The Cancer Report”, as I deal with traces of prostate cancer (aka – old man’s prostate cancer, since many of us get it at one point in our “old age” or another).  Our society teaches us to “control” things outside of ourselves rather than seeking a balance between the two.  In fact, in my reading, I have found that many of us seek to control “outward” things so much that we neglect our inner things …  our health, our spirituality … our love, even of ourselves and others that we claim are so dear to us … our human family.  Meanwhile we are dying inside, neglecting our health … the “flow of things” to the point where they become rebellious tumors, like cancer and diseases, mental and physical imbalances causing humanity to become more and more “sick”, in the truest since of the word.  I don’t need to elaborate on the many many occurrences that express this “sickness” in our society.  There is a “new age” that we MUST embrace if we are going to save “ourselves” that involves a “spiritual flow” rather than a hardened competition over our plethora of resources … and “unhealthy”competition with each other.

In the midst of my travels here … my journey, to be exact … I have had AirBnB cancel my account and travel arrangements to “other places” due to what they are calling some “public records” and have had to shift to using Booking.com … with a little help from a good friend, “Johnny Ace”, I am in the midst of making that transition.  I embrace the “spiritual flow” inside and outside of my body and soul … more and more each day.  Join me … if you dare!

Have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend.  Thank you for letting me share my thoughts and ideas with each of you!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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Keeping it Real … “100”!!

 

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

Yes, I am up about 6 hours earlier than the USA as a fact of being in Western Europe, Sabadell, Spain, to be exact!  I wasn’t going to do an e-mail today, but then I remembered that I am a writer … perhaps a self proclaimed one … yet indeed a writer of sorts!

I have been in Catalunya now almost a week, come tomorrow it will be a week, and I have had the most intriguing moments in my life up ’til now.  No, no movie producers found me or anything, but I have been able to find pieces of myself!  As many of you know, I have put a “hold” on all of the “prostate” drama to take “my birthday present to myself” vacation here in Spain … hopefully I will make it to a few other places as I have France and Germany in my radar for the next two months.  I have been both a tourist and a “self healer” as I am seeking to slowly change my diet to encompass more fruit and plant based diet cuisines even while here in the land of “meats”, as I call it after seeing so many shops with meats hanging in the windows.  Most of the restaurants are the same though I have found a few “plant based” and “vegetarian”shoppes/restaurants on one of my journeys in Las Ramblas downtown Barcelona with a profound vegan advocate!  Which takes me to a most intriguing episode that I experienced here . . .

Most of you know, those who care, that I started talking about coming here about two or three months ago to celebrate my birthday.  Not only was I a bit disappointed in the outcome of the election, though I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, I just began to see the lies that so many Americans were willing to tell themselves and believe, not to mention the onslaught of “killings” of African American men … and women … in the streets of “the land of the free, home of the brave …”  (Please don’t ask me to complete this sentence!)  I could’ve been one of those people in the streets of America … or in the commercials for Southwest Airlines, “So, you wanna get away?!”  I had chatted by phone, back then, with a former student of mine at White Plains High School, “Nora”, who now lives in Brookfield, CT with her husband and two daughters.  Her mother has a house in a town not too far from Valencia and she informed me that she was going to visit in July or so.  We exchanged niceties and I told her that I was planning a trip for my birthday, which was July 13th, to Barcelona somewhere around that time … probably after the 13th when my pension comes in to my bank account.  Funny and fortunate thing happened is that a friend of mine from White Plains, Jacquie Young, has a daughter who works for Delta and they were able to get me a flight …  literally … at the last minute on the 19th of July at half price using the BUDY Pass … round trip to and from Barcelona with a 3 month window which can be moved forward or back a bit up to a year!  The energy of the universe began to move in my favor, and, as those of you who read my e-mails and blog know, there were some demonic entities trying to thwart my efforts, the positive energy was able to win out!  Nora and I, with her two daughters, Julia and Sofia, had lunch together on the 24th in Barcelona near La Plaza Catalunya!  How cool is that!?!!!

I take advice from others while I keep my plans and adjust them as necessary.  I know there were people who thought that I wouldn’t be here.  I mean even on the day that I was waiting for my pension to be deposited, the freaking IRS took $180.00 from my pension, which I had planned on having each month until I die, for back taxes! Wf@!!  Still, I was able to “finagle” and compromise, downsize my expenses even, get to the airport and take the flight that I was able to pay for with my own funds and a small loan, which I pay back in a few days when my funds from another retirement source (NYSUT) come into my account.  The power of positivity and the utilization of humility … and faith.  I tell my stories in case you want to or might need to hear them.  If you prefer not, you know what to do … Let me know!

The journey continues … I’ll keep you posted while I enjoy another week or so in Sabadell/Barcelona at a local gym which I haven’t visited yet, the beach and the Plaza Catalunya!  Just keeping it real … or “100” as is the saying today!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Ya, He Llegado a Espana! (Now, I Have Arrived in Spain!)

Happy Friday, All!

Well … I’ve been able to do it again … only through the love, the grace, the mercy and the blessings of My Creator … and the angels It surrounded me with … T.G.I.F.!

I am sitting at a nice simple desk, just big enough for my laptop and a lamp … and my computer mouse … in an old yet stylish and well kept apartment with an elevator just big enough for two people and three suitcases, writing from me and Educational Excellence!  It took some doing, but I am able to crank out this humble, simple yet important message!  We made it to Espana!

I don’t know if I can tell you all the details, but after leaving the hostel in Ft. Lauderdale once I had packed everything I own into a huge rolling duffel bag and after having my winter coat and trench coat as well as a pair of boots picked up and stored by my buddy Johnny Ace and his girl Candy, I got on the bus to the airport … and the story unfolds …  Thanks to Jacquie Young from White Plains who is now a supervisor for BCT (Broward County Transit) Bus Lines who not only gave me a yearly pass to ride the buses in the FTL after I “gave up” my Jeep Compass so I could travel and NOT have an additional worry “back home”, not to mention an additional car payment of $350.00 per month … with insurance of $100.00 per month, she arranged for me through her daughter, Hyata Bowers who works for Delta Air Lines as a flight attendant, to get me tickets using the BUDY Pass … saving me over $500.00 on my round trip airfare to Barcelona, Spain and back … with a 3 month window!  Can you say, “God is watching over me all the time!”?  I hope so … If not, I am a testimony to God’s love … who placed His hedge of protection around me to get this trip and on this trip, which is my birthday gift to myself for my 63rd birthday!  Viva Espana!

The city where I was able to procure an AirBnb housing at the last minute is called Sabadell in the region of Catalunya, Spain just a train ride outside of Barcelona.  Man, talking about pushing and never giving up until you get there … alone … with my favorite guardian Angel – Marietta Dolores Cook (RIP) – at my side the entire journey!?!?!  And trust me, there were moments when I said, “What the hell am I doing this for?”, especially when I dragged my rolling duffel bag, laptop and gym bag from the airport baggage area upstairs to get temporary WiFi so I could confirm my AirBnB reservation for 10 days after connecting my cell phone with “World Calling” from Metro PCS to my portable charger, since the current is different over here in Europe … And, I had purchased an electrical adapter stateside in The FTL to use in the walls and circuits here so I could write this e-mail … For the love of my readers … and myself!!!

Needless to say, I got lost on the trains, which are a cross between Grand Central trains and the subway system of NYC!!!  Yep, and I carried my laptop across my shoulder, rolled my humongous duffel bag while carrying my suit garment bag and a large “gym bag” which was a gift nearly 10 years ago from my German friend, Anja Malis, with this aging degenerative “osteoarthritic” hipped body from platform to platform, off the train stops to a taxi waiting to rip me off for 50 Euro since I was lost, whom I asked to take me back to the train platform for 5 Euro … after packing and unpacking my bags into the back of his taxi …. Can you say, “run on sentence”?!? And then, I re-navigated my way back to a familiar train stop, then asked a very kind woman in Spanish for help to my destination which she kindly and humbly provided information and guidance … I arrived at the train stop that my 65 year old hostess had provided and was waiting, cane in hand due to a knee replacement, to collect me at the top of the stairway of the train stop!  I slept off my “jet lag” after a plate of pasta and a can of Coca Cola … and am sitting here writing my first blog post and e-mail from Sabadell, Catalunya, Espana!

The Journey continues as I look for ways to visit the popular Pablo Picasso Museum in Barcelona as well as The Catedral of Barcelona and maybe a tavern or restaurant where I can get some “tapas”, local Spanish snacks, and a drink.

Have a great day, from me and EE … here in Catalunya, Espana!

Peace,

Juan

What’s Up Now?!?

Happy Friday, All!

Are these Fridays coming faster or what?!?  So … T.G.I.F., y’all.  Life continues to roll, unfold … and some of it “ain’t pretty”!  My birthday was successful … no drama and no problems as I try to rid my life of those “unnecessary evils” nowadays.  So much love and kindness and well wishes came my way yesterday … a few are still dribbling in today, too.  Thank each of you who wished me well, my Creator at the top of the list!

I had a meeting with an investigator at Internal Affairs of the FLPD this week, as I had filed a formal complaint against the officer who sought to “punish” me for speaking up and supposedly “fail to use the sidewalk” when disembarking from a bus.  I was grateful that they followed up so quickly as I made it clear that I would be going out of town for a while in the next few days.  I wanted to do my part to emphasize the need of people involved in law enforcement to be civil to the citizens that they are supposed to “protect and serve”.  In my most recent situation on the 4th of July, I felt profiled and harassed and wanted to make it known and not run away and hide like a coward but instead do my part to effect a badly needed social change.  The two gentleman who took a sworn recorded statement were very professional though I had to make a few things clear, in particular the details of the statute that I was ticketed for: “Fail Use Sidewalk”.  I appreciate it when people give me an opportunity to express myself, which I do a fairly decent job of, and “hear me out”!  These folks who want to “talk over me” and try to use any angle they can to “put me down” have no place in my life today!

You really get a chance to see who your friends are when things are tough, as some disappear into the background … which I prefer.  No need for “fake friends” who think that they are “holier than thou” for some strange reason.  We ALL have “skeletons in our closets” ’cause ain’t nobody I have ever met an angel.  I must admit that my mother, Marietta Dolores, is the only human I know who comes close to being angelic!  I thank her for that excellent role model, who alongside my father, Isaac Henry Cook, who struggled with life’s journey for 80 years, raised me as best as they could!  Mom passed at 88 … so they both were around for quite some time to guide me on my journey!

As I look to the horizon of next week, I am passionately preparing for my trip.  Many of you have wished me well and, since we know that tomorrow ain’t promised to no one, I keep a humble posture and faith that my Creator will make this all possible.  I am doing my part.  I visited the orthopedic surgeon’s office yesterday to get some information to give to my health insurance provider regarding possible hip replacements when I return in a few months, God willing.  The urologist and I have decided to “take a break” from the worry associated with my prostate health and I continue to read and practice healthy mental recovery as well as beginning to adopt a healthier diet and a holistic approach to healing and living in general.

Glad to be here another year, as one friend from the Winbrook Projects where we grew up wished me yesterday, and a “happy new year”!  Now, “that’s what’s up”!  Have a great weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

 

“Keep On Pushin'”

 

It’s Hump Day, Y’all!

“We’ve got to get ova da hump!”  That’s ’cause tomorrow, July 13th, is my birthday!!  Some of y’all might remember that my birthday present to myself is a trip to Barcelona scheduled for next week, July 19th as I am planning to fly standby with Delta Airlines.  Now, many of you, whether you have gotten mad at me or not for not being able to “repay” you in a timely fashion have actually helped me get to this point.  Trust me … I thank you.  Nowadays, folks call trips like this something on their “bucket list”.  It is just something nice that I’d like to do … for myself.  Some of you have helped me and Educational Excellence with a contribution or donation back in the days when I was trying to get my 501(3)c status in order to establish EE as a “sole proprietorship”/LLC status where I could receive donations from corporations or individuals who would be able to use those donations as a “tax write-off” so to speak, as I had planned to develop a full fledged “motivational speaker” component of Educational Excellence.  You know, I have learned to roll with the punches, yet always be grateful for anything that anyone ever did for me or gave to me … as well as anything that ever “came my way”.  In essence, this is why I continue to send out my e-mails to each of you and convert them into blog posts.  Now, one more thing … feel free to let me know that you would like to be removed from what I call “my e-mail family”!  So be it … I keep on truckin’!  It reminds me of a group called “The Impressions” when I was growing up that included a balladeer named “Curtis Mayfield”.  One of his top hits was “Keep On Pushin'” ….

Some of you may remember my “4th of July Event” on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale where an FLPD motorcycle cop  saw fit to issue me a ticket for “Fail Use Sidewalk”, FL State Statute 310.130-3, which reads: “(3) Where sidewalks are provided, no pedestrian shall, unless required by other circumstances, walk along and upon the portion of a roadway paved for vehicular traffic.”  Now, unless “you” choose to be an ostrich with “your” head stuck deep in the sand, you will understand the relationship between “other circumstances” and “metal barriers” placed along the entire A-1-A by the Department of Transportation of the City of Ft. Lauderdale, especially on holidays like Memorial Day, The Air and Sea Show and the 4th of July.  The choice is yours.  I took my decision to file a “formal complaint” against the officer who not only issued the “bogus” ticket, but sought to harass, threaten and profile me as he took a minuscule situation and tried to turn it into a “crime”.  I will be meeting with an “Internal Affairs” representative later today to discuss this “situation”.  My associate, Alexandre Schmid, who witnessed the entire fiasco and was NOT issued a ticket, was also invited to join me to make a statement.  A special thanks to college chum, Adonis Hoffman, Esq., who helped me firm up my defense in this situation. Do what you will, but I will “Keep On Pushin'”!  I’ll keep you all posted …

Back in the day, shucks … maybe a few years ago, I used to celebrate my birthday the entire month of July!  Well, I am kind of starting today, perhaps, by being in a most festive mood, which for me, is based in gratitude.  So, once again, I’d like to thank you all for reading, and, try to keep some of my episodes and stories as anecdotes for your self as well as others who might find themselves in similar situations.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

What Do We Have Here?!?

 

Happy Friday, All!

I’m going to say it again, and I will say it every chance I get … T.G.I.F!

Well, as it turns out, I had my urologist read my CT scan as well as my bone scan yesterday.  Good news!!!  No spread of cancer apparent in either scan!!  Wow, was I happy!! The scan also showed that both hips have the degenerative osteoarthritis … as the orthopedic surgeon’s x-rays showed.  Yes, yes, yes … my body is aging.  I think back just a few years ago when I played basketball with the young bucks at LA Fitness where I still work out and how I was able to turn easily with no pain, even jump relatively high!!  NOT NOW!  I remember my first year at SPS circa 1969 … I played three sports … football, basketball and track.  Did I have that much “wear and tear” on my body since those years?!?  Well, once again, I arrive at my level of gratitude, happy that I was able to play there at St. Paul’s, then freshman basketball at Princeton, even coached at White Plains High School for 5 years.  And now, I deal with the reality that I have lost that agility and strength as I work with my degenerative osteoarthritis in both hips as well as traces of cancer in my prostate.

The urologist and I had a heart to heart discussion after I told his physician assistant that I did not want to have the cystoscopy done.  He explained the options of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, none of which I am terribly interested in as I have begun to research holistic approaches to healing my prostate …  We talked about an injection to slow the production of testosterone which according to him is the first step in slowing the possible growth of cancerous cells in my prostate.  Once again, I appreciate any feedback that you may have.  I have been reaching out to a good friend in New York as well as gotten some great information from a holistic doctor here in Ft. Lauderdale.  I explained to the urologist that I wanted to take my trip to Europe before making any decisions.  The doctor confirmed that I have time to make a decision as the cancer is not aggressive, though present.  I did have the feeling, however, that he is strongly pushing me towards robotic surgery at some point in the near future though he said that I comfortably have six months to decide.  Feedback is welcomed from those in “the know”.

What think you about the mayhem in Germany surrounding the most powerful nations on the globe at the “G-20 Summit” in Hamburg?  What do you think the protesters are trying to tell the “world leaders”, so to speak?  What do you think about Kim Jong Un and his amplification of the production of nuclear missiles?  Drama on both national and international flights with erratic behavior being displayed by some passengers, staff and the planes themselves are catching fire in the air while full of passengers?  What think you about the execution style murder of an NYPD officer by a well known “cop hater”?  Sometimes … I remember my Dad’s infatuation with Louis “Satchamo” Armstrong’s song … “What A Wonderful World” … and I remember our relationship and his “love” for me and our family as I am grateful to be able to see on the horizon my 63rd birthday next week, July 13th … My Creator willing.

As you contemplate, perhaps, the state of “the world” as we know it, have a great weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

The “Double Standard”

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

Here’s to hoping your 4th of July celebrations were without incident, and that you, your friends and family experienced a fun filled day!  I stayed in most of the day for a variety of reasons.  I had a little “side work” to complete on my computer, and I just wanted to “hunker down” and meditate on memories of my father, Isaac H. Cook … He was my hero though we didn’t always agree.  He wanted me to play baseball and I didn’t like it so much.  My dad had played baseball in the “Dirty South”, and like many youngsters then, had aspirations of playing in “The Negro League”.  He never achieved that dream and had his own heroes like “Satchel” Paige, and, while he never told me to “just play sports”, there was no question that baseball was the sport he liked most.  For me, it was basketball and track … even football for a while, though I did play little league baseball for several years in the City of White Plains Recreation Department’s “youth league”.

He literally died in my arms as bone marrow cancer claimed his last few breaths …  I used to walk with him around the “block” at the Grant House where he and my mother moved after living in the Winbrook Housing Project on South Lexington Avenue in White Plains for most of the children in our family’s youth.  While at the Grant House, still on South Lexington Ave. just one hundred numbers up, my parents even helped to raise my oldest sister’s two children until they were able to get on “their own feet”!  They were the BEST with me, putting up with ALL of our “not so good” behaviors.  He is the reason that I take my recent health challenge of prostate cancer so seriously …  It was his birthday yesterday, so I wanted to spend some time alone just meditating …

I have been staying in a local hostel near the airport in Ft. Lauderdale until my flight to Barcelona, Spain in two weeks.  There is a French guy named Alexandre Schmid from France who is also staying there, and we have become associates.  We decided to go to the beach together to enjoy the last few hours of daylight from 4pm or so until the Fireworks Celebration on A-1-A Beach and Las Olas Blvd.  “Alex” and I took the bus down the 17th Street Causeway to A-1-A to Las Olas and I signaled the bus to stop near Beach Place.  There were barriers made of metal on both sides of the street for the safety of pedestrians as there was bumper to bumper traffic being directed by Ft. Lauderdale Police Department Officers as well as Public Safety Aides.  It was hot!  The bus stopped to let us off on the “ocean side” of A-1-A and we had to walk along the barriers, which were connected up and down both sides of the street.  My friend “Alex” started to disconnect the barriers so we could get onto the sidewalk.  But, since we had maybe 15 – 20 yards before arriving at the intersection, I suggested that Alex NOT touch the barriers as I did not think that the “police” would want us to.  Within seconds, a motorcycle police officer drove past us yelling, “Get out of the street!”  He had gone past us as I said, “Where do you want us to go?”  I was asking a genuine question. By this time, we were maybe 10 steps from the intersection where there were no barriers.  The motorcycle officer stopped his motorcycle and came directly to me and stated yelling, “Sit down on the curb and show me your identification!!”  I looked at him in surprise that this was what he wanted me to do and started to take my wallet out and gave him my driver’s license.  He again yelled, with all of the “bumper to bumper” traffic, hotter than hot out there, “Sit down on the curb!”  I once again looked into his face which showed a hatred and anger that I had seen before … and I told him in a stern voice, “What are you stopping me for?!”  He then said, “If I have to tell you again to sit down on the curb again …” I looked him squarely in the face and replied, “I have arthritis in both of my hips …”  He then walked to the barrier, lifted it up so I could walk through, ordered my friend Alex to keep going, and told me to sit on the wall of the sidewalk separating the sand on the beach from the sidewalk where hundreds of people were enjoying themselves and casually walking by.  He stated, “You shouldn’t be walking in the street!”  I replied, “That is where the bus dropped us off at!” He replied, “I don’t care!”  Alex took four more steps and stopped to observe what would happen next.  The officer again yelled, “Now sit down!”  I looked at him as if he were a patient in a psychiatric hospital, allowing a few people who were walking by to have the “right of way” as his anger grew due to the fact that I was moving slowly and respecting pedestrians who were walking by on the crowded street on the “beach side” of A-1-A.  The officer’s anger grew as he was clearly losing control.  I asked him, “What are you stopping me for?  I have a master’s degree and am intelligent enough to know that you have to tell me why you are detaining me!”  He said, “If you have a master’s degree, why didn’t you remove the barrier?!  You will see why I am detaining you when I come back with your ticket!”, and began to walk away as if he were triumphant.

The motorcycle cop then ordered a female officer to stand close to me and make sure  that I didn’t move …  I was in the shade, my friend Alex was leaning on the barrier waiting to see what would happen next and the female officer glared at me as if she were part of a big “sting”.  I turned my back to her, took out my cell phone and took a couple of photographs.  I then dialed a friend and began to explain to her in Spanish what was going down.  She suggested I stay calm, which I was, and that the whole incident was ridiculous.  I agreed and told her that I would call back when all was over.  The motorcycle officer was joined by a second motorcycle officer and together they scoured my “history” for nearly 20 minutes.  I sat patiently and began to enjoy the music pumping from a tent of Caribbean folks on the beach and began to move to the rhythm as I waited for my license.  I knew what the officers were doing … it is common … looking for some “open warrant”, probation or anything that they could use to detain me further and possibly arrest me.  I haven’t been in that position for over ten years so I knew that they weren’t going to find anything and continued to focus on the ocean, the celebration and the happy people.  Finally, Sgt. G. Schoen walked over to my turned back, handed me my license and … a ticket for “Fail Use Sidewalk” … says to me, “Have a nice day, sir”, and walked away.  My friend Alex was NOT given any warning nor ticket and we were doing EXACTLY the same thing … I had just answered the motorcycle cop back when he yelled “get out of the street” … and … I was “walking while black”.  Even Alex said, “What a fuckin racist!”

If you look closely … or distantly … you will see the double standard.  And of course, if you have been brainwashed like many folks to believe that I … or any other African American male needs to be quiet … you won’t see any double standard!

Have a great day … I sure am … and will plead not guilty as there is no court appearance required for this “nonsensical ticket”.  I will file a complaint against officer Sgt. Schoen.  I know it won’t go far … but I will ALWAYS answer anyone back.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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