Don’t Be Afraid – Speak Up!!

Happy Hump Day, y’all!

Well, I am feeling rather accomplished today ….  Learning to wait for the good things to come my way and not “jumpin’ on the first thing smokin'”!  We all have the responsibility to take advantage of what comes our way.  Notice, I didn’t say “take advantage of people” who may be less savvy than say “you”!  I give a lot of credit to my Dad who always taught me to be humble … but never be afraid of ANYONE!  Now that doesn’t mean that I am going to walk up to a serial killer or avowed “white nationalist” and start an argument.  I would hopefully not have to walk near anyone that ignorant for fear of losing my life in a dumb situation, or at least have the self love to walk away!  That is not cowardice … that is intelligence … self preservation even.

Have you ever noticed situations where people are AFRAID to speak up …. even AFTER they just witnessed something “unjust”?  Of course, I think that is a “type” of self preservation though I am NOT one to “bite my tongue”! One of the latest “battle cries” against terrorism is “If you see something, say something!”  But for the longest time in American History, especially in the “Wild Wild West” and westward expansion, people turned their heads.  Often, they rounded up a bunch of “bad boys” and made them “sheriff” and “deputies” to handle the “do badders”!  Can you imagine what went down in a completely “lawless Wild West”?!?  How about, can you imagine what went down on plantations where slaves were being held as property?!  It troubles me just to think about those things that happened and went “unnoticed” or “unaddressed”.  Nowadays, we are supposed to be more civilized in the Western civilizations, I use that term loosely, though we are now experiencing a rise in “white nationalism” based on fear of losing … what “they” never had!!  CONTROL!  The country never “belonged” to these cowards and now they want to claim something that they didn’t do anything to acquire … or get …. or imagine!  It’s all an illusion!!  Hard to accept, I know, at this “late stage of the game”.  But until you accept this FACT, you will continue to suffer and give energy to a “losing” system that is NOT serving YOU … but serving capital – yep, a thing, a concept, an illusion – as “we” are conditioned to blame our fellow humans for “our condition”, which is also an illusion.  What do you really HAVE?  Simple answer … your spirit!

A couple of months ago, one of the homeless guys walked up to me and said, “Hey, my nigger!”  I looked at him and asked, “Are you talking to me?”  He said, “Yeah …” and stuck his drunken hand towards me.  I said, “That’s f*cking racist and don’t ever talk to me again.  Have a nice f*ckin’ day!”  I had to repeat the last phrase a few times so it would sink in to his drunken stupor because he continued to try to convince me that it was okay for him to say something that I have NEVER been addressed as in Puerto Viejo since I have been here.  I wasn’t about to let it start now … not on my watch. (He is currently in a rehabilitation program for alcoholics.) The thing that is good about living here is that I have seen NO VIOLENCE in Puerto Viejo since I have been here though I have heard of a few murders and robberies that ended in death!  Some tourists were carrying their multi-million dollar camera equipment on the beach here at like 5am … and some folks approached them and told them to hand over the goods.  I wasn’t there but I heard that they refused, were robbed and killed … Peace be still …

I hear that “Stateside”, more and more people are waking up and not allowing the divisive techniques of some of our amateur politicians to influence them.  It is hard to speak up about societal ills when you know some of your “country persons” are storing automatic weapons to use when they are most “AFRAID”!  Guns are illegal here (PV)  though I have heard some people have them.  I applaud them for “maintaining their cools” and not looking for any excuses to use them … just for protection.  After all of the school shootings in the US that I have heard about since being here for only six months, I am glad to see that the youth, some adults, shucks even a few of those “entitled” politicians … yep … are starting to realize the TRUTH.  It’s a tough call but I am convinced that “change is coming” as I write and you read.  Adopt the proper attitude and “speak up” when you see and witness “social injustice”.  If you don’t, it will only get worse …

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

 

 

 

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Make Sure YOU Know What’s Going On!

 

It’s Friday again, y’all ….

So, uhhh … Thank Goodness I’m Friendly!!   Get it, T.G.I.F.?!  Perhaps, too corny!

Is everybody “cool” today?!?  Well, it’s been HOT here in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica!  In fact, yesterday, it was so hot while the sun was out, it seemed like it could rain simultaneously (we used to call them “sunshowers”)!  But it didn’t.  I was heading back to my cabin from the beach and water was pouring down my bald head!  It was sweat!!!

One of the reasons I believe that I was successful as a teacher is that I like to explain things to the fullest.  I like to be understood.  I will use as many analogies, metaphors and stories as I can take to try to clarify a situation.  That’s just me!  I was always a curious kid and if you couldn’t explain it well enough so that I could understand, I might go research it myself!!  That’s kind of what I have been doing with my retirement residency application here in Costa Rica.  Many folks have hired attorneys … most with success …. some got ripped off!  My situation … if I can do it, I am not paying anyone else to do it!  That’s just me …

So Monday, I got up early to catch the local “Mepe” (Marco Polo) bus to Limon where there is an office of “Migracion”.  The main office is in San Jose.  I had what I thought were all the papers necessary including a background report that a dear friend, Tashi, who works for Broward Sheriff’s Office had procured for me.  I also had my birth certificate thanks to Kelvin Carey (former student) and a letter from the Social Security Administration in Ft. Lauderdale stating that I had sufficient life time benefits to meet the requirements for retirement here.  Once at the office, there was a line outside in the sun!!!!  It was 8:30am and the room where the line led to was full!!!  There were signs all over the walls in that tiny room with a ceiling fan blowing hot air everywhere.  There were mothers with kids who were literally playing on the floor.  One parent took the time to tell her toddler NOT to put her hands in her mouth after touching the floor.  She had the “germ spreading” conversation in Spanish with her baby girl!!  There were crushed crackers on the floor and one little boy was stomping on the remaining pieces of the crackers!!  I went inside the room and leaned against the wall …  “How bad do you want this?”, I thought.  More than sitting on a freaking sidewalk in Ft. Lauderdale or New York or anywhere else listening to some raving lunatic with a gun ordering me around for NOTHING except to satiate his ego!  I asked the people if I could stand there inside out of the sun and took note of my turn in the line that was forming to enter the air conditioned room where there were three staff helping the waiting people.

I had an excellent representative who went above and beyond the call of duty to gather enough of my information and put into the system so that I was eligible for a form called “Expediente” which indicates that I am in the process of gathering the last few items to complete the application.  She informed me that I would HAVE to go to San Jose (5 hours by bus) to get my fingerprints done to register with the Costa Rican Public Safety Department.  This woman even RETYPED my letter stating why I wanted to retire in Costa Rica and where I was coming from as well as my status!!  I thanked her, she wrote down some addresses and office names including the American Embassy in San Jose and I was on my way.

Wednesday, I took the 5 hour bus ride to San Jose leaving at 5am in the morning.  The bus got to San Jose at 10am without incident!  I was lucky to have met a decent taxi cab driver who helped me arrive first at the Embassy, he waited while I spoke on the phone outside, and then took me to get fingerprinted across town.  After that, while I was waiting for one driver to get directions for a place I wanted to visit in San Jose, another driver came up and asked what I was looking for.  I told him I needed an official government translator and he replied that he knew of an office where I could get my birth certificate translated by a certified representative!  It turned out it was the SAME office that I had sent an e-mail to the day before inquiring about their translation services and cost!  Once dropping it off, I had two hours to kill.  The driver was cool but got a little too “nosey” as I sat in the front seat with him and he watched where I was taking money from in my shoulder bag.  When he told me what I owed him ($80.00), I asked him to take me back to the office where my birth certificate was being translated.  “We live and we learn!”  At least, I was fairly safe in San Jose with this last driver.

After picking up the translation, I took a taxi back to the Mepe station, had the worst “arroz con pollo” in my life, and waited for the 4pm bus back to Puerto Viejo.  On the bus ride, I saw one lady blowing her nose into her hand and then wiping it on the bus seat!  The same woman began to cough up what we used to call “luggies” or snot filled spit!  I didn’t notice WHAT she did with that!!  The bus driver turned to look at her but said nothing.  She was like 350 pounds and had a little “Tico” boy with her …  I didn’t judge … I just promised myself that I would try NOT to have to take a Mepe bus anytime or anywhere … for any reason!  Before I got off the bus in Puerto Viejo, I felt something crawling around in my shirt!  I shook my shirt and a cockroach fell out on the floor … I stomped him quick and started to prepare to get off the bus ….

Still, don’t judge … there are a lot of things that I have to learn!  Have a great weekend!  How bad do YOU want something important in your life?!?

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Happy Mother’s Day 2018

 

It’s Friday … yeah … T.G.I.F. … and thank creation for Mothers!

And you already know that it is ONLY right!  Now, I am fairly sure that there are some “mothers” out there that don’t quite “fit the description” of these “mothers” that we talk about on Mother’s Day.  Hopefully, they are reading, too … getting messages from this celebration that may propel them into becoming better mothers.  So, just don’t judge …

This day in particular, coupled with my mother’s birthday on May 20th, 1917 is bitter sweet.  Marietta Dolores Cook was born at a time and a place in American History … that propelled her to leave with my father, Isaac Henry Cook, and his brother David and wife, to New York’s Harlem post World War I.  My father didn’t want to raise a family in the then proudly “racist South” where African American family members were often found together … hanging from a tree …  Peace be still … So, they saddled up their resources, which did not include a car, and caught the next thing smoking on the railways headed to New York City!  The “Harlem Renaissance” was brewing there with the jazz bands including Duke Ellington and the “big band sound” as well as “Lindy Hoppers” who created a new fad in dancing for the growing number of African Americans “moving” from the South to New York’s “Harlem”.  My mother was just a young lady in her early twenties, and “Big Ike” had fallen madly in love with his “princess bride”.  He would do ANYTHING for her!

She was a model “Mom” who worked with the The Girl Scouts of America, The Student Aid Society of White Plains, The Flower Club of Bethel Baptist Church, Parent/Teacher Liaison for The White Plains Child Day Care, was a “domestic engineer” for many many Jewish families in White Plains and Scarsdale, NY … performed superbly as a wife and a mother … with me it made four children.  She was a “home maker” in the true sense of the word as she prepared ALL of our meals at home in the Winbrook Projects’ tiny kitchen in our one bathroom three bedroom apartment at “135 South Lexington Ave., Apt. 5A”, and sewed all of our clothes!  Shucks, this woman used to MAKE her own clothes … “from scratch”!!  Can you say “The Real Wonder Woman”?!?  She was the first African American person, not to mention woman, who became president of the Parent Teacher’s Association at Rochambeau School where I attended elementary school in White Plains.  She kept her “eye on me” and I kept an eye out for her … as she would appear unexpectedly at any given moment!  She and my father used to “strongly encourage” my sister Edna to help me with homework to the point that I began to excel in school.  A punishment from “Big Ike” pretty much kept me towing the line through school until I graduated from Princeton in 1976.  They both were there in the flesh at my graduation …they looked so good together … “Big Ike” and “Mary” … as they represented the new breed of African American that was spawned in Harlem.  They often looked like a “black Bonnie and Clyde”, though their mission was exactly the opposite.

So, in closing, I want to wish all the “Mothers” in the WORLD today … a Happy Mother’s Day … ’cause the “fathers” can’t do it by themselves!!

Love and Miss you Mom!

Yo’ Baby Boi,

John I. Cook, Director

Be Patient . . .

 

Happy Hump Day, y’all!

Here we go again … it’s the middle of another week in our lives!  Cool, right?!  Are you cool?  Are you patient?

So, here’s an opportunity to take a look at “ourselves”.  We always tend to look at other people for “what to do …” or “how to act …” or “which clothes to buy …”.  Why?  Don’t we trust ourselves to make good decisions for … yes … OURSELVES?!?  If one can’t make a good decision for oneself, then who can “one” make a good decision for?  Hmmmm ….

At this time, if you would like NOT to receive any more e-mails from me and Educational Excellence, send me a note saying simply, “STOP”!  I will get the message.  Some of the themes I touch on may not be good for who “you” are.  I am cool with that, too.  This sole proprietorship non-profit business called Educational Excellence seeks to help people “refocus” on themselves.  This is something rather common here in Puerto Viejo amongst the “healing” community.  Even “here”, one has to be careful of what one is doing … especially if you are just following what someone “else” told you to do.  Each of us is different in many ways, yet similar in more ways than we are often willing to admit.  Learn about YOURSELF …. what keeps you calm … what annoys you …. and what YOU need to work on for … yep … YOURSELF!  Then … I said, THEN … we can come together and share our “learned experiences” or lessons with the world community and see how it “works”.  Trust yourself and learn to trust each other … and to be trusted!

I chose this theme this morning because apparently, I am in a bit of a rush to get my papers filed for residency here.  I have until the 25th of this month to file them.  I am still awaiting the arrival of the birth certificate with the “apostille” from the Secretary of New York State on it.  Learning to be patient at times like this is important.  Sometimes, “your” or in this case “my” impatience may manifest itself in other areas like with new friendships made … even a new job assignment or just waiting for something to arrive in the mail or to happen in your life … like I am!  I mean, either way, it is not the end of the world for you, you dig?!!  “Everything happens for a reason.”  Learn more about “oneself” by coming into contact with other “like-minded” people who seek peace and harmony, truth, justice and all those other things that help us get along together on this planet!  “We’ve only got one!”

Alrighty then, I am going to close this correspondence by asking y’all to prepare to wish your “Mothers” … both here and the hereafter … a Happy Mother’s Day this Sunday!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Seek Your Truth

 

It’s Friday, y’all!  And an appropriate T.G.I.F. for my Creator!

When Friday comes, I always feel a little more special.  You know, we have a few more days to enjoy over the weekend without having to go to somebody’s “work” for them.  Different people do different things in their retirement.  It is unique for me because I feel very much the same, just a little further along in my journey!  I still “teach” though I seldom have a captive audience with a “bell” to signal the end of classes or grades to turn in!  I have always been a helpful person … kind of good to have around, as long as you know what respect is …

Yesterday, a former student and reader, Nora Ann, posted a photograph of me on social media when I taught at White Plains High School in 1985.  I was 31, had an “afro” hair style and a mustache … and liked to dress for the occasion.  I loved my “gift” of teaching and I still use it whenever and wherever I can.  I have started a small group for English classes of “BriBri” descendant locals here at Barry and Nanci’s “El Puente/The Bridge”, which services the educational, social and essential needs of the somewhat displaced tribes.  Two or three weeks ago, I started a query to see how many of them wanted to learn or improve their English.  We have a nice group consisting of a family – husband and wife with a new baby; a woman and her two sons who all know some English; and, a BriBri young man who wants to learn terms associated with electrician’s work!  I will check to see if they did their homework for tomorrow after The Bridge’s “soup kitchen” held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at their home.  Needless to say, the sessions with the BriBri students bring me “full circle” again, as I think of exercises, activities and pairing of students to maximize learning and time.

Do you know what your “truth” is?  Is it more appropriate to say, “Do you know why you are here?” or “Who are you?”!?!  As I spoke with “Tup” yesterday during the pressure point massage, who is an incredible human being that survived a stroke and was told he wouldn’t be here longer, I found a mentor in him … Our ideas are similar, his are more developed than mine … yet, I could follow his thought process as he offered me suggestions for my healing and journey.  He, too, like Helen the acupuncturist, strongly suggests that I “give my body permission to heal” and show it that I care and am on this journey with hopes of prolonging my service to humanity.  We talked about the power of “love” and how it is essential in our healing and living … and to improve and ultimately change the world that this current “leadership” has been given the authority to manage.  “They” are failing us miserably and all hope lies in the future … the children … the youth …  “Teach them well and show them the way …”  Show them how to find their “truths” with a loving demeanor.  I think, perhaps the same attitude toward myself … your self … ourselves … will help to make the world a better place.

Be well, enjoy your day and weekends!

Peace … and Love,

John I. Cook, Director

Team YOU!

 

Happy Hump Day, y’all ….

Except Kanye West … who says “slavery was a choice”!  What a character, heh?!  Some people talk so crazy that they don’t even realize it … until you tell them!  So remember … you HAVE to tell them!  If not, they will keep it up.  Some people talk crazy because they have “money” and influence … like Kanye.  They still have to be “checked” in our world of say “whatever you want”!  Kanye probably never heard of Frederick Douglas or Nat Turner … hmmmmpff!  Other folks talk crazy because they don’t know any better.  Teach them, too!

Recently, I have taken a pretty serious move looking to get retirement residency here in Costa Rica.  A stipulation for residency is that one lives in the country for 4 months out of the year.  I like that!  Of course, I still want to travel a bit … go over to maybe Brussels or Berlin in late summer.  But right now, I am working on “Team JOHN”!  When I first began my research on cancer and osteoarthritis, I was given a book by a reader that outlined a plan for “recovering from cancer” utilizing alternative and holistic approaches.  What I liked about the book was that it strongly emphasizes that you build a “team” of practitioners and people who will surround you with what YOU want for you … respect, love, genuine concern and good health.  That says a lot!  That should be what “your” team consists of.  If someone is NOT on your team, quickly eliminate them because they serve as only negative energy and thoughts, which you don’t need in your “recovery camp”.  We all know those people who pretend to have “your” best interest in mind.  Don’t be fooled by them.  Stay abreast of your team and make sure they respect YOUR wishes.

I had an opportunity to meet some folks that make CBD oils here in Puerto Viejo and San Jose.  I have been researching the effects of the oil, and, this past weekend, met a woman who makes the CBD product “Rick Simpson” style (RSO).  You may have heard that this is the gentleman who recently was diagnosed with cancer, was told he would die soon … and came up with a blend of CBD that saved his life.  Now, had he listened to the “peanut gallery”, he would be dead . . .  And that’s how serious building your “team” is when recovering from anything.  Some naysayers will lie and act and talk as if they have “all of the answers for YOU”; but don’t be fooled by this charming negative energy.  Do your own research and come up with a solution for you.  Keep your team close and don’t let any “phonies” in your inner circle.  My health is serious for me, and, in my retirement from “working for companies”, I am seeking to prolong my health and nurture it.  Negative energy and lies don’t add anything to your “program” … except disaster!

I have two types of CBD oil, one focusing on hemp without “THC”, and the other focusing on pain relief and healing (RSO – Rick Simpson Oil).  Today, I have an appointment with “Tup” again for a pressure point massage.  Tomorrow, I hope to meet up with another masseus who is offering a technique done on the beach where she sets up her table and utilizes the energy of “nature”.  Saturday, I plan to see Helen for my tenth acupuncture session.  The other masseus who has asked me to be his “practice subject” for his implementation of the “Bowen Technique” on clients invites me for short sessions a couple of times a week.  Well, I have to admit, I see improvements in the range of motion in my hips and LESS pain … especially at night!  I spend my days taking short walks around Puerto Viejo’s beaches and Caribbean streets often filled with Reggae music and “patys” of various types ranging from vegetarian to chicken and beef.  I must say, I feel quite “at home” with “Team ME”!  Join me, if you will!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Love Is . .

 

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

What’s it going to be today … love or hate?!?  For me, that is a “no brainer”!  I have had my issues with disliking someone else.  I found that the more that I disliked them, the less I liked MYSELF!  The reasons vary but the first one is that I shouldn’t allow someone else’s “discontent” with themselves or with whom they think is “me”, alter my self esteem … self love … if you will!

For the love of life, why can’t we get this “human” thing together?!  Many spiritual thinkers, mainly because they are usually the only ones looking for a “fair and honest” social contract between society and it’s members, emphasize the importance of “loving thy neighbor”.  Now, no one said “get in bed with your neighbor”, just love them!!  It is a simple concept but most of our institutions of Western civilization, ahem … , don’t go far enough into seeking equity for ALL of the members of a “society”.  There seems to be more concern with setting up a “pecking order” or “caste system” where ones “role and self worth” in a given society is determined by people other than “the persons” themselves!

Well, I am going to keep it simple today, “short and sweet”, so to speak.  Big shout out again to Kelvin Carey out of The City of White Plains, NY who is helping me nail down the birth certificate that I need for residency with the proper seal from the City, the County and the State!  This is the kind of love that I am talking about!  Brotherly or sisterly love, so to speak, can move mountains.  I think back to the acupuncture session that I had with “Helen” this past Saturday morning.  She was giving me a pre-acupuncture massage and told me to think of the members of my family … those present and those past … and to ask them to help me heal.  I believe this is the spiritual side of acupuncture that sometimes goes unnoticed and unmentioned.  That whole morning was quite an experience … yes!  After I came out of “Helen” and her husband’s home, I was preparing to go to offer an English class with some interested Bri Bri Tribe members who attend Barry and Nancy’s “El Puente – The Bridge” soup kitchen offered to them by the aforementioned and “kind and loving people” who donate time and money (again, this is the type of love that I am talking about).  I decided that I would take a local public bus to save money since I had plenty of time, and NOT call a “Tuk Tuk” which usually runs around 4 – 5 dollars and the bus is $1.00.  As I approached the street and sat down on an old stone wall to wait for the bus, I saw a person across the street with a beautiful gown like robe on.  I said hello, she said hello, and we started to chat … right there on the wall!  I had seen her in Puerto Viejo the day before but didn’t have a chance to speak.  This time, we did!

One of the things that I also like about Puerto Viejo is that most people say hello as they pass by you walking or biking … shucks, even driving … down the street.  It’s a different atmosphere … open and peaceful … pret’ near loving!

Do your part too … “unconditional love” will find you …

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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