15 years ago a girl had a dream of bringing a club to oral history roots. A club that started in the “new world” with techniques familiar to the “old world” of Athens Greece, but with more emphasis on evaluating, self improvement as well as community outreach. Thus, the first Toastmasters club of what would eventually be a part of Toastmasters Greece was started. It’s not just about “toasting” (though that gets better in time too) it’s about learning to “R.I.S.E.” above personal hardships and move to gaining strengths and leadership skills in growing beyond our comfort zone. The virtual meetings in lockdown modes are a pleasant 2 hour alternative, twice every month.
R — Respect
I — Integrity
S — Service
E — Excellence
The man who started the clubs in 1925 Ralph Smedley was a dreamer too, to make contributions for the young men of the then YMCA. We need to continue efforts for our young people today. They cannot learn through a screen alone. Toastmasters Youth Leadership is one of those examples as well as Speechcraft for teaching groups the gift of public speaking and positivity. In Covid quarantines we understand that human touch and human communication are necessary for our own survival.
“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” ― Abraham Lincoln
With the internet at your fingertips it’s worth a try to join a club as a guest ! Look up Toastmasters International and find a club near you today — with over 16,000 clubs in 145 countries (and counting), they must be doing something right!
”We learn best in moments of enjoyment”
Ralph Smedley (1878-1965), Founder of Toastmasters
I recently went to a “closed” Fall fashion show with a handful of people wearing our masks for a local fundraiser for poor families. It was also an opportunity for the designer to sell some of her work and for us in our way to support the art\design workers.
After our brief discussion, I realized how hard it is for both designers and fashion models to be making money during lockdowns and the whole coronavirus craziness ….. I can only imagine from what friends tell me and write about is happening in Milano, Italy and in New York City — complete tragedy for this industry .
Despite the fact of being sensitive to animal rights, by unneeded abuse, I can respect science and respect historical traditions that relate to the use of mink for keeping warm, particularly in those very cold northern climates. Notice — keep warm — because truth be told the use of artificial fur is even worse in terms of air toxins from production factories. What many people do not know is that the dander left over from this plastic stuff (really what fake fur is) can lead to allergies and more serious pulmonary conditions due to breathing in all that crap…does not make “faux fur” so great does it? But we love those animal prints as if an archetypal need for the “hunt” (fashionistas beware).
After a long discussion with the designer whose family history of using leather and mink, I respected what she said truly tried to listen, my own biases aside. Active and empathetic listening is a skill, while understanding peoples “needs” and how to work with them, is yet something else. She was saying that the newest designs gravitate towards more leather and less mink, but stated that even though the latter is on a downward spiral of popularity, mink coats are still considered a “status symbol.” Interesting. Personally, I wouldn’t attack someone by throwing red paint on their coat or belittling them — done by animal activists. However, I would discuss with fur owners why they need so many different coats (often in every color)? 🧐 Good leather wears better, and shows like Sex in the Citywhich aired their last episode in 2004 made Italian leather shoes ever so popular (and yes, there were fur coats). So why should everyone feel guilty about preferring leather shoes and bags over plastic or ‘vegetable’ shoes (completely uncomfortable and they fall apart easily so then you have to buy more shoes….. counter productive) — one’s excess “need” to buy so many yet another story. Some of us had grandparents and distant relatives who lived off the land, hunting game (mainly rabbits, ducks, deer) for food for their family. We need to respect that. How, and why? In essence all of the animal is used for both food and shelter, home furniture, and even fashion, since caveman days. Little seems changed there. However, the over-consumerism in our days, is another story.
Back to those cute little furry ferret-family minks. The recent coronavirus outbreak 😷 story in the Netherlands forcing 100 Dutch farms to shut down, as the government is killing (culling) millions — because the workers didn’t wear protective gear (?!) and now those cute little fur balls have our illness …. humans destroy again! However this issue of the “Killing of the mink industry” has been happening since last June (see story) since due to lock-downs most people no longer buy this ‘luxury’ item. Perhaps mink farms in Northern Greece will follow suit, as positive Covid cases and fear of more keep spreading. Those poor things now suffer from pulmonary problems due to coronavirus…. so they say? Would it be an opportunity to try those new vaccines? Mink news and ethics? Hmmm.
Humans are not peaceful creatures by nature. Life circumstances, personal traumas, having low health literacy, and surrounding environmental influences — political figures and rhetoric can affect us usually in very negative ways. It takes a lot of work, maturity, mindfulness, to move towards healthier societies. Reading a recent post with Mr. Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) amidst many other angry posts (or even delusional posts) has prompted me to remind us of the necessity of “healing rainbows.”
Indeed Mr. Mandela, ….we cannot “build nations” on revenge. It is unfortunate for many recent historical happenings around the world (including modern South Africa) that Mandela’s message is not heeded. Unfortunately the human mind (that “amygdala hijack” of emotions like anger) needs a lot of mindfulness work to be controlled for doing and saying good. This video on overcoming amygdala hijacking is very useful.
As we move to “better” futures we are obligated to help our children learn to communicate with others, care for themselves, as well as to care for their communities. We need TRUTH to build TRUST as we also need RESPECT ✊🏾 But people’s truth is often their own perspective and they cannot see it globally. Keep talking and keep thinking logically …. for the good of public welfare and public health.
Post-election fish 🐟 and thinking back to good times (pre-lockdowns and absentee ballots)….
We can take time this Hallowed eve of “Halloween” to reflect on the good spirits of departed loved ones. There is a grief process and taking healthy actions to increase health literacy around health and mental health topics as what we do on this blog.
Beyond the fact that October was health literacy month, it was also Breast Cancer awareness month. Reminders for self-testing, getting necessary tests like annual blood tests, Pap tests (women) and mammograms for the over 35 group, colonoscopy, particularly those at high risk. This article by Medical News Today was very useful in understanding how and why we need to check our body’s “nodes” (axillary nymph nodes in this case) for any swelling and changes and get to a doctor!
Recently losing a friend to an up-and-down battle with cancer makes me think of all the people I’ve worked with (or was friends with) that got sick, some survive, some do not. There tend to be personality characteristics of people who tend to get sicker, but a big piece has to do with how their environmental stressors and even unhealthy living areas contribute to this. This is indeed the nature-nurture link. Fall is generally the season of pomegranates and thinking of loss as we head into the long winter period of darkness. Maya Angelou’s poem “When I think of death” helps in expressing grief but also a fact of life.
There are several bloggers who write about cancer and many NGOs dedicated to “spreading the word” on such ailments as breast cancer — in the U.S. it is the Susan G. Komen Foundation (similar org called “Alma Zois” Άλμα Ζωής in Greece). This was the first year in a decade we didn’t do their annual fundraiser walk/run and so the necessary funding and advertising for these agencies is reduced. This makes it impossible for people to do the necessary work.
There are also reminders for getting to a doctor and the necessary treatment especially in Covid19 lockdowns ….. thus sharing this blogger’s content here —
“… knowing you are going to die makes clearing out the cupboards so much easier!” The sound of choked laughter came through the phone. “You should write that,” said my friend, once his calm was once more regained. The sentiment had, I think, taken him off guard, but it was a simple observation. Even in […]
Someone once said that we underestimate the hours and personal time that teachers and doctors put in to care for their students and patients. October is health literacy month and if we want to have healthy societies we start by having good and trusting relationships with our caretakers and teachers. Take the time to thank them for all that they do!
Burnout is a common symptom now with Covid19 and we need to recognize it and do more self care! WHO recognizes the burnout syndrome as “an occupational phenomenon” (site link). It is normal to have “low moments” as long as we see the long-term benefits.
A few years ago we presented under the auspices of Eimai leadership institute Peacejam Greece on community issues including health literacy, and community affects of vandalistic style graffiti. Indeed we start with one child, one student at a time.
Teaching has its benefits seeing students become more confident and grow, makes it all worth the stressful moments ! However I’ll agree with fellow blogger about digital fatigue, this is why we need to work on mindfulness (stop and move away) as well as our daily doses of vitamin D (sunlight preferred), vitamin C with careful attention to not “over supplement”, some exercise even walking, and sleep as much as possible even power naps ! In thinking of self-care we thank our “angels”for guiding our lives to better health and a bit of “healing music”.
Let’s keep talking how tech can HELP and how they do not….or how much TIME they take from learning to live? Some food for thought….
Autumn or “Fall” is that time of year when leaves change color abandoning summer as we move to darker days and nights. The colors are simply brilliant and we may think of seasonal food like pumpkin 🎃 or nuts …lots of them! From the walnut, to the chestnut 🌰, as we recall a wonderful past excursion to the mountains of Arcadia in the Peloponnesus!
One of my favorite books that taught me about appreciation of good 🍷 wine, seasonal foods, exercising and keeping fit, all the while maintaining our chic scarves tied in multiple ways while enjoying a nice piece of dark chocolate is titled “Frenchwomen for all Seasons” by Mireille Giuliano (published in 2006).
As we transition to “packing on” those extra pounds (kilos) we need to remember that some are healthy for our winter “survival mode” as evidenced from theory of evolution. Indeed the healthy omega 3s are necessary for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and body. So why do we crave all those sugars? I’d say it’s not a bad thing ….in moderation. And of course taking some good supplements like vitamin C or Lecithin vitamin E by Nutrilite a good thing for those over 45 who tend to eat high fat foods and need some extra support building immunity — remember your sunlight or artificial light for good mental health! This is the time of year when we are always craving those extra carbs like sugar. That said here is my take on “nuts vs. candy corn”. You can always ask your doctor or nutritionist and decide! Hmmm….
Elders, animals, compassion. These are the messages I’d like to share as we continue to be more health literate in our home 🏡 and in your community. October is health literacy month.
It’s more than “knowledge” it is taking the appropriate actions for your and other’s health and being advocates for local and global change. This is across the globe as it includes animals — October 4th world animal day to commemorate St. Francis of Assisi.
Global health literacy academy had a great past post shared here… along with a dedication to our elders! The 3rd age is a “hot topic” in global health these days .
Be diligent to watch for early symptoms
Be proactive about your health and get animals spade or neutered (microchips a must for house pets)
Just be mindful!
A big Thank You to all the animals who posed for us for health literacy month !
Anger can be intentional, unintentional, as the root cause may be justified or due to social modeling. We mimic our families, our friends, our communities. Anger is also misinterpreted because people raise their vocal tone, thus sociolinguistics is an important field in the matter at hand. Some forms of anger have helped us revise laws and policies and bring to the table many issues for discussion.
Key words ‘bring to the table’ — communicate.
People are angry about the lockdowns, refuse to wear required facemasks, guidelines are not followed. Justified is anger for people who lose their jobs and may not be able to pay rent or put food on the table. But, does anyone know of any government that would ‘welcome’ riots, unless they are not in their right minds!? We see what is happening across the globe. A continual global crisis largely perpetuated by our current state of events due to COVID. People do not know what to believe, have lost trust in their governments.
Furthermore, there is anger about “rights of workers” — including cleaning personnel, service workers, transport, teachers — some realistic, some not. The individual “right” may be lost in the wake of a public health crisis as we are living now across the globe. But does your individual “right” get in the way of logic?
Do 12-year-olds (younger and younger teens) truly understand or deserve to have their schools taken over by SOME interest (largely political) groups in ‘protest’ who don’t allow them their RIGHT to be educated? All have lost many school days from this past year, and their parents keep losing days work.
Bus drivers “can’t wear” a mask 😷 that is mandated by law because “they drive 5-7 hours daily”, yet the serving staff can all day? (this was a recent ‘statement’ by a local political union leader).
Why don’t we have those who say “there is no CoVid-19” meet and discuss with those who get sick 🤒 and have been hospitalized, hopefully get well (without identifiers for anonymity) better understand the permanent damage that may occur for some (seems mainly in their lungs from what we hear?!). Great that many ‘make it’ but please why do you say ‘they fake it’? Why make it political…..?
Young people don’t understand their “right to party” turns into possibility of being a “spreader” and historically there have been plenty of these examples — check out the story of “Typhoid Mary” (a.k.a. Mallon). This individual logical wish for developmentally appropriate behavior (socialization, rebellion) coming in contrast with public health.
Let’s keep TALKING about wants, needs and the availability of resources. One’s right cannot overcome another’s particularly in times like these.
Books like The Anger Trap can help us better understand our own and other’s patterns…. because we need to salvage what we have and BUILD relationships, not destroy due to anger….!
“ANYBODY can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.” This is what the Greek philosopher Aristotle, stated more than 2,000 years ago, in his classic work The Art of Rhetoric.
I recently joined an online group to review books that we’ve read for leisure, as it seems counter the trend to online everything (beyond Kindle). Due to environmental concerns or fears of virus spread this has also lead to decrease in publishing in physical format …. given some of the low quality books we sometimes come across (beyond content the actual paper and print cover are a waste of a good tree) maybe this is a good thing! But I can’t help but feel we live in a Fahrenheit 451world.
Along reading there might be overeating —emotional eating at best — but hopefully still get your daily dose of sunlight and vitamin D for a stronger immune system. Do you recall the quote “let them eat cake” Marie Antoinette supposedly said to save herself from a frenzy of “les miserables” style mobs? This may be of interest as of late…. I’ll not convince you of the levity of ‘her’ statement but clearly we need to pay attention to discrepancy of power and how this may lead to violence and unfortunate tragedies across the globe. Some protests may be justified, some not, and certainly healing needs to take place.
This seemingly increase of violence is not just happening now, as historically man seems to “thirst for blood” as some form of evolutionary population control first encountered in the biblical story of Cain and Abel — jealousy or power driven, more real when people are struggling to survive. I hear people talking about another world war, since the recent Covid economic disasters have heated up some countries’ leaders to want “more”. These unpleasantries in turn are what public health then deals with in “picking up the pieces.”
All this excitement drove me to pick up all the leftover cookies from my shelves in an attempt to re-stack my Fall supply (more later) and make mini cheesecakes — baked American style are better, sour cherries 🍒 and thickening the cherry sauce is even better but the secret is in the crumbly style crust. This was made by leftover ‘ginger people’, oatmeal and stale butter cookies! Practical recycling…and a smile 😊
Back to books …. a disturbing statement from my electrician “my kids don’t read books” (daughter age 9, son age 7) lead me to ask what parents can do to help curb this trend? We need to keep building on information and fundamental literacy and of course our scientific and civic literacies all part of health literacy! Open to remarks please. Here are some recommendations to take home 🏠
Demonstrate it yourself …just read anything ! Show and tell is the best behavior modeling.
Monthly or seasonal goals — at least one book and talk about it in a group or in person (keep your physical distancing). Even write about it.
Act it out ! A bit of dramatic reading out loud helps kids become better readers and increases everyone’s vocabulary. Even in different languages!
I even bought a recycled zipper type pencil or mask-holder …not very subliminal message but it worked , the interest in books even if only for fun (cartoon style booklets), continues.
Put on our 😷 masks and headed for a few days in the Cyclades, a dense collection of islands occupying the central part of the Aegean Sea. Worldwide, people know about Mykonos, the “party island”, and some even think it’s a country 🙄 …we won’t judge that (Mykonos is one of the many islands in Greece, 227 inhabited but 6,000 exist). There are many “must visit” isles that are gathered around the windy Cyclades of the Aegean. Last year I wrote about Naxos island 🌴 but this post is about an isle whose history of marble sculpture production made it famous, becoming an international trading post during the Middle Ages and beyond — Tinos island. Tinos is a place that people visit for both it’s religious and touristic attraction as it is also directly across from the mythical Mykonos ! It’s also a place of artisans and those who learn how to sculpt marble. You can get there by boat/ship only and it’s worth the trip.
This year it was all different, the lines to the Evangelistria (Virgin Mary) monastery were not as long, the stores were less crowded (sure, we did some shopping with masks on!), we SAVED money because there were no nightclubs or expensive bars open ….we slowed down. TIME.
Time to enjoy the silence and count the ships coming in the port, or to do some mindful eating and enjoy an amazing lunch with artichoke cheese pie, their signature “Maistrali salad”, main course Kalamari with fava beans and salad greens ….Oh! And that lovely custard type dessert …all with the restaurant’s exquisite detail to safety. Even our utensils were wrapped and our table and chairs disinfected!
The video “Time” by Julius Sevilla says it best. A great REFRAME to make each day count. Don’t complain, don’t just dwell on what “didn’t happen, or didn’t work out” or the fact that you’re angry 😠 and holding grudges and regretting is not good use of your time.
Just think of the people who were away from that particular place at a particular time that a building came down (recent “atomic bomb” type destruction in Beirut or local floods, fires, and other disasters), those who lent a hand, those who have lost and grieve, but this why we try to PREVENT disaster by precaution and becoming more health literate as individuals as governments or societies LEARN from mistakes of communication, procedure, etc. As one of my teacher said when we had an eye-opening experience “dawn breaks on marble head!”…. Obviously it takes a while for health messages to penetrate. Keep on enjoying your summer and be safe!