October is health literacy month

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 generous
  • 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 !

‘Blocked’ by anger….

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?

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com
  • 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.

See more about the ‘Upside of Anger’ on https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729032-700-do-get-mad-the-upside-of-anger/
Photo by Dominika Roseclay Pexels.com

Let them have books 📚 and cheesecake!

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 451 world.

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.

Keep on walking and keep on reading!

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Marble, Masks & Memories, Tinos Island

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!

Amazing food with detail to safety

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!

“Styling” during Covid and caution with hand sanitizers

Social distancing it turns out is complicated and the data on Covid has been confusing. As much as the disease itself in terms of who and how much exposure ultimately affects our health ultimately leading to negative outcomes, the diagnostic tests, and medical protocols. But for sure masks are here to stay. At least for a while …It doesn’t matter if you put on a regular medical version you buy from your local pharmacy or you buy or make a more fashionable one like so ….

You still can wash and use hot sun 🌞 energy (heliotherapy) to get rid of germs as well as iron the fabric ones, as this means we continue to REDUCE waste! Please be careful when throwing out masks or gloves and do NOT throw in the street! Recent scenes are ludicrous … and infuriating!

masks and gloves tossed in streets 🥵

Regardless of whether you are a conspiracy theorist, a realist, a pessimist, or just following the local policies and laws, one thing is for sure …we have carriers, sufferers and those who ultimately lose their life as Covid destroys major life organs as our lungs. Recent loss of beloved actor (father of one) Nick Cordero really “hit home” for many younger people who think it won’t affect them !

The latest on hand sanitizer warnings by the FDA of toxic methanol is worrisome. I don’t think many of us are checking out the labels and what about sanitizers outside the US ?

Years ago I had visited Disney World and in retrospect I’m with the “Mayor“ and his wife — no handshakes and wear gloves ! It’s styling it … Maybe we should bring it back ?

Disney World — the Mayor and his stylish partner

Healing wounds and seeking rainbows

Pain is real, it’s subjective, collective, imagined, even infringed on you. Healing hurt and injustices may leave one a ‘scar’ of remembrance. Healing takes time. This June has been marked by a modern day “lynching” some say of George Floyd not marked by the silent protests of years past (see article) but of huge rallies where in some cities like L.A. the protesters reached over 20,000 persons of all colors and races, while in the UK statues of supposed slave traders were knocked down.

Racial disparities are referred to in health and this is also part of the Covid-19 numbers of many Black people who have died, and one of the “black lives matter” claims. We may not be ready for healing, but anger is a big part of this grief process (first referred by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and the Stages of Grief, not in this order — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).

I remember what it was like to get pushed around, put down, all for the sake of social games, backlash, for something I did not understand at the time in racial disparities and discrimination. For years I went home hurt and devastated, sometimes even from my “own people” until my mom showed up at my school to “take on” the situation. She was fair and she always stuck up for the underdog no matter what gender or race. Thus, I understood the tough cookie attitude of the mother in one of the best books I read — The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother (c) 1995. This book by James McBride a journalist who talks openly about his own life experience. We can destroy or hate, but if you want to build relationships you must build trust. Since trust has been my issue of study the last years, I’ve naturally been drawn to books like this one (faithfully read near the healing sea …) by Steve Covey.

“Sticks and stones, can break my bones but words will never harm me” a quote that always stuck as it struck a chord with me about strength. Whether you’ve been harassed, bullied, abused, dragged through the mud, when you’ve done nothing wrong. And even if you’ve done ‘something’ you might get away with it, get punished, no one deserves to be killed…. human emotions are real. We all need to see what is projected on us by other people, and for sure people make mistakes, big mistakes. There can be cause to complete distrust to jobs and institutions — we are seeing this clearly in 2020.

From pharmaceuticals to police departments, to government. People are getting beat up and killed for their skin color or their job. From the US to the UK, it’s all there. Guns, punches, fear, smear, anarchy or peace? You help decide. One Mayor went one step further to commemorate “Black Lives Matter” on the street. I say “all lives matter”… we are therapists. Speak truth, walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Help people find the antidote to racism, injustice on all sides.

Maybe you’ve been fighting for your life and for others, but it’s never enough… you get “doxxed” or “gaslighted” when it’s others who are at fault, but somehow they make you feel it’s you. You know what I mean. They don’t see YOU for you they see your appearance, they don’t ask questions, they assume you have “an agenda” are “privileged,” but never see the history and all the sacrifices made. There are others that live for power to “divide and conquer” — this proves to be worse for all years we’ve been working towards community health. Two steps forward, three steps back 😣

In the dark part of the day, like one of those 40 days and 40 nights, part of Covid-19 lockdown as with the biblical story of “Noah’s Ark” I saw the rainbow of hope and told the salesclerk as we looked up. We need to move on. The rainbow is all colors — in a prism coming together becomes white while the absence of color is black. Opposite sides of the spectrum but still together!

You can destroy and smash but deal with your inner demons …

We need to sit down and talk. Societies are built and destroyed in a moments notice. Some of this is intentional as I recall from the American History X movie (c) 1998, and the neo-Natzi movement. We often perceive and act on our fears and yes we know stereotypes and racist statements and actions exist. One of the best movies to witness this is Crash which won the Academy Award for best picture in 2004.

I kindly ask that we pray, for loss and healing, and that we don’t label everyone as being part of this global problem. Some countries like Greece have been enslaved and traded for years in antiquity and beyond technically were the same color and race! Again, power and conquest.

Sometimes the “servant” can teach the master so to speak as witnessed in harems of the Ottoman Empire, and in other parts of the Middle East. One story relayed to me about an older woman (now) who had been kidnapped as a 16-year-old because she was beautiful, eventually living as the outcast, never married (because she was taken to the harem) but wise despite her trauma. These women returned to their homes destroyed even as late as the 1960s!!), even though the harems closed in early 1900s supposedly, the last harem closed in 1970s in modern day Turkey! Those who are resilient overcome, others do not and need healing.

So many examples — the arts (Marilyn Monroe & Ella Fitzerald), stories of travelers to South Africa during and after the apartheid. From the religious side, recalling how St. John of Damascus (Syria) in the 7th century was educated in classical studies rivalring much of the Ancient Greek philosophers, eventually converted by his mentor-servant Cosmas (a refugee monk from Greece – Sicily who was sold into slave labor to educate the son of the wealthy merchant) to become one of the most important saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Perhaps people who struggle are also more tolerant of pain, for sure have more compassion. Education and lived experience matter. Having lived in the South in the US, in cities in the North, I know first-hand ! Now with the Covid-19 lockdown we understand fear, loss, anger, denial, compassion.

Martin Luther King in the 1960s marched in peace with several religious and political figures on his side as part of the civil rights movement. One of these supporters was the North American Archbishop of the Greek church, Iakovos, an immigrant himself (archive photos — civil rights movement); more recently in New York, helping the “Black Lives Matter” movement was Archbishop Elpidoforos with mask 😷 — a double message of what’s important for individual and community “health”.
This past Monday, always 49 days after Easter, the feast day of the Holy Spirit was celebrated. At no other time have we needed clarity, enlightenment, and peace.
We will overcome …. someday.

Shuck those peas…save on cash

Think creative, think cash, and think health. Times are tough …. the phrase “ah shucks!” Is a farm-based word equivalent to “oh shame” or “darn”…. thought of it today as I shucked peas — meaning remove the outside —to put them in the freezer.
It is strawberry season so pick those as also gaining beta carotene and vitamin C with low-fat Loquat (in Greek “mousmoula” μούσμουλα). All Seasonal foods!
Think health.

Pea pods and seasonal goodies

Now that we have a bit more time and maybe saved some money 💰 from not going out …while not making money due to pay cuts or unemployment, we have to think smart. It’s part of our financial literacy. Think cash.

Being a part of free Zoom talks like one I recently participated in with storytelling can help keep your mind busy keep social as well as share in gratitude. We need to flourish rather than relish in self-pity. Support each other.

Lately I’ve been giving new meaning to the line “playing with food” getting ideas from Pinterest or beyond ….Think creative.

Think creative, think cash, think seasonal and think health literacy!

“MAY” Days

We’re getting out of Lockdown …..this May!!  

There are many types of people, but along with all those positive posts and the ‘hoopla’ of the stay-at-home movement, there are a lot of angry (perhaps depressed) people. We all need to be transforming this negative energy into positive energy somewhere else….

“May day, May day!” Recently, in the beautiful community of Anogia (Ανώγεια), Rethymno region near the Psiloritis Mountain in Crete, there were some senseless killings over some misunderstandings and turf for sheep-goats. Two people wound up dead by gun shots, and a potential vendetta is ensuing. This is not unlike gang violence, domestic violence, or what we are seeing in several U.S. states where people “took to guns” over rights. As a matter of fact, the sales of guns in the U.S. have been on the rise due to the fear of COVID-19. Is this what we want ? On the one hand the reality of the pandemic and on the other, human intolerance?

Have we changed much since the biblical story of Cain and Abel ? We are all prone to anger. Sometimes it is necessary in the face of injustice or helping someone in a tough situation.  But we caution about the “Amygdala Hijack” (see this Healthline article) where our aggression or fear take over when and we react in ways we regret. You must ‘beat it’ before it beats you or your family …. some of you can read Anger Management for Dummies or read/listen The Anger Trap or other great books on anger management, or how about an on-line course? and as always seek  support via therapy.

Do something creative, gather flowers, make wreaths, plant a garden and think of bringing in the positive energy into your world honoring rebirth. Appreciate the beauty of nature. Be inspired by Ron Finley the “Gangsta Gardener” who helped transform urban settings, helped young people dream again!  Getting back in touch with the earth…. he fostered health literacy and became an example from current and future generations in some U.S. inner cities. 

The word that represents the month of “May” comes from the Roman-name goddess “Maia” (which also in Greek is the name of the midwife who delivers babies). Most make May wreaths while some dance around the May Pole in most parts of Europe (and in the U.S.). In my home we throw flower petals around the house to bring in the positive sun-spring energy. We have never needed this so much as this year during the lockdown! 

The colors of all flowers and plants make any room brighter, our mood lighter.  If you ever get a chance to go to visit flower shows even better! This year we could not gather in indoor flower shows unless in the outdoors, as the one I visited a few years back in Genoa, Italy called “Euroflora” (Euroflora_Genoa_2018). A gathering from various landscapers and florists demonstrating their creativity on the grounds of a pavilion, overseeing the sea. We learned about the plants and blossoms of the world and how we could make our own home and neighborhood/community even better. Granted some of us suffer from sringtime allergies but these can be in-check and helped over the long term.

We all may be stuck in the ‘shoulds’ of life some of which may be necessary for our daily survival. For example, we should eat at least 5-a-day fruits and vegetables (some people say 3-a-day in different colors is enough), drink 6-8 glasses of water daily, exercise at least 10 minutes daily, sleep 7-8 hours as part of our self-care routine (indeed what health literacy is all about).  Be careful about those little gremlins of ‘shoulds’ and read a useful book, Taming Your Gremlins. The author even came up with a perfect ‘mind map’ of all of this negative self-talk (see example).

Let’s focus on the power of affirmations . Messages that may affect us both positively or negatively. Thus, MAY you…

  • walk in sunlight to warm your soul
  • hear the birds and bees sing their happy songs
  • feel butterfly wing “kisses” on your sun-touched skin
  • understand that you are not alone — we all should share our collective experiences and support each other.
  • choose the beautiful ‘flowers’ of your thoughts and heart to remind yourself of better things in difficult days that may come!

Get a little crazy …

  1. Create out of boredom — Lockdown may not be the “introvert’s paradise” as once thought according to a recent MIT technology review. Since librarians tend to be more introverted, they actually took the time to put all these books in order … wow, that’s crazy !
  2. Transform our lives — Some think it’s crazy to “live” more from our internet connections than be “in touch” with the real world. A lot can be said about this… it seems the Matrix is becoming a closer reality. Scary. Several articles are written about how things will be “different” and how we need to transform our thinking (see April VOX article featured in Apple News). Though I did like the idea of change in the context of young people building resilience by building educational partners, presented by Harvard Professor Gil Noam who represents the PEAR Institute.
  3. DreamsIt was just a dream. I thought I was losing my mind when I was holding and reading an upside down newspaper written in hieroglyphics, while all these cars were leaving a parking lot quicker than I could count to ten. It is as if Walmart or Public were having a sell-out. I woke up realizing that this was a lucid dream and it is not unlike what people have been reporting they experience due to Covid19 (see National Geographic article)
  4. Health illiteracy — I realize how much people follow their leader but to the point of over 100 people calling in a hotline in Maryland (US) asking for the medicine that Trump prescribed? That is absolutely nuts, …see article in Business Insider. Definitely shows how health illiterate and outright dangerous people can be. Guess what people ? They’ve cut the chloroquine studies short due to safety concerns so please don’t go there!
  5. Funny dances in home. I mimicked something from this Fortnite character called “Deadpool”. Well at least Fortnite is trying to promote physical activity! or how about doing a line dance or better yet a “line” dance as you are on hold for those 30 minutes waiting to get your order in… the experience can be exhausting and then when it arrives the quality is questionable….
  6. Business and socializing — two sides of the coin. It turns out that constant online work is exhausting . However if you space things right you’ll be less crazy and more happy as it’s a “coping” tool. I had TWO online friend meetings in one day. Coffee ☕️ by day and Champagne 🍾 by night! Hey it might be one of my only Friday eves I actually “found” time. Yes we know our brain is tired from those little screens …. use Zoom to your benefit! We had a friend’s meeting with champagne or wine in our favorite crystal glasses. Time zone difference did not matter. One friend was baking her awesome cookies while another celebrated her teen son’s birthday (mind you he was having another party with his friends on-line I’m the room next door). Then there are those ZOOM parties and how to host them…..
ZOOM Trivia, crazy stuff!
Like tulips in the Springtime…. FLOWERBAR in Alimos

Caution Caution no health literacy alert! Be careful what you drink….

No Trump Cocktail for me …thank you

“Oh we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy “… lyrics of SEAL “Crazy” hit me every day as we are almost at almost 2 months of lockdown.
Some crazy 😜 tips to help your days …like
we did and still more to come . Oh yeah my fish “Tiko” has a new bodyguard in the form of a nutty bird …

In all seriousness now. It is almost two months later in Lockdown. We are doing our best despite the long-term economic “slaps” we have been given, especially by the EU! This latest Bloomberg article talks about the “humbled Greeks” teaching the world about lockdown and Covid19. OR is it a bit of “learned helplessness”? Despite constant “punches” resilience building dictates that for us to survive we need to have health literacy!

The country’s HLS-EU data dictates that half of the people are considered health literate though there are declines in the over 50 years old groups and those less educated groups (no surprise). Thus why reading about aging and caretaking can take it’s toll….. check out the book chapter in the International Handbook of Health Literacy!

AntigoneD with “Cousteau”… her hair even matches with the flowers 🌺, crazy!

LOVE THOSE PETS, The flowers, the hair! I am in with the creative genius Antigone D… thinking of some good stuff to share with you in the near future…

Roses are red, poppies are too…

Roses are red, the Poppies are too
It’s not just the red Easter eggs But also what you intend to do.

Red eggs tradition for Eastern Orthodox Easter
Poppies at Zeus sanctuary in Theision (Athens, GR). Courtesy of N. Pavlikaki, Arhchaeologist, Art Historian & Tourguide

Thank you to all the hospital 🏥 staff, RED Cross & Red Crescent. The majority are women. A reminder and thank you to our friends & family who continue to donate blood 🩸vital to emergency medicine. And yes we keep missing blood.

Thanks to all the street artists who help us stay positive and strong with inspiring artwork. Let’s fight this little bugger Covid19 and be grateful for all that we have learned.

Thanks to our hardworking parents and loving grandparents who manage to make us all happy with their oral histories and their special contributions.

Thank you to Ms. Penny who slaves away each year to make her Sweet Easter bread and cookies. She actually had the strength to give one of her baked goodies to our alcoholic neighbor in the midst of his yelling randomly (loneliness my friends is a human’s worst experience…..as we are social creatures). Guess what? It worked and he finally quieted down.

This my friends is “the way” and why we need guidance and light no matter how “dark” our days and nights are. We hope they all stay healthy and strong as we push forward to a cure .