After the storm


A great day, one of beach cleanup, and getting some much needed vitamin D from natural sunlight. Floods have become commonplace as a result of bad weather ⛈🌪 and deforestation due to fires 🔥 this past summer with one of the greatest ecological disasters on the isle of Evoia, as one friend said “apocalyptic”. A public transport bus in Attica was flooded as the driver misjudged a bridge and the passengers made a human chain to get out, several drownings — all reminisce cases of people we know who died — wrong place at the wrong time. 💔😥 Often in a rush to make it on time, we misjudge and create accidents, or lose a life.

This day was all about teamwork, beach cleanup after the storm, the benefits of volunteerism. Plastics, cigarette butts, beer cap bottles, old shoes, were some of our findings. So glad that cafes and restaurants are finally mandated to use paper straws. Thus, the lovely loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta, native to the region, won’t get the plastic ones we found (counted over 25!!!) stuck in their snouts.

“If I could remind people one thing for their own and other’s health — Slow Down and enjoy each moment!”

Author, October 2021

Thank God for seashells, and rainbows 🌈 and the promise of new beginnings. Great days ahead.

Be kind

It’s a virtue, we can all work on it and pass the message on to our children. Strive for a better world. This “Above Inspiration” video says it all, and a reminder of what matters.

Be Kind …. You may affect a life
  • Your rude neighbor or colleague — we all have them! Take a lesson from the late Mr. Fred Rogers, and his ”won’t you be my neighbor” inspired life work on public television (Academy Award).
  • Road rage is so intense that one has to grin and bear it. …. my mouthing “stupid” the other day to the lady with the silver Mercedes who tried flying through cutting us off, or the 30-something guy with the beard driving (anything but) SMART almost hitting me at the crosswalk as the light turned red …. nearly running I said, ”slow down you’re going to kill someone” maybe he will think about that next time? Instead of sarcastically mouthing ”idiot” 😊😇 try a smile instead !
  • Ungrateful People whom you’ve bent over backwards to help, introduced them to their (future) partner, help them find work, mentored them, maybe an ”EX” who should appreciate your raising their children (with little support, almost alone) and be grateful in your heroic efforts. At the expense of losing your precious time, they seemingly keep asking for more, or never ask you about your life and needs!
  • Friends opposed to you and your “political” viewpoints — from vaccinations or not, education reform, job security, seems more common these days as social media may be segregating us more than we know.
  • Your family and their (im)perfections. Need I say more?

After all, caring is good for your heart AND your health according to recent articles and think science ! There is a great Greek word that respects our humanity to be kind to all people called “philotimo” (φιλότιμο)…. Let’s keep it going.

Remember to say thank you and be kind!

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Pomegranate and Autumn 🍂 comforts

Autumn is here and we are loving the rain and cooler days. For many world regions floodwater has destroyed property and land a bit apocalyptic for some; flooding is concerning due to continued climate change.

Time for the Earth to bare her last fruit/veggies as she, like us ”takes a rest”. Fall or Autumn (from the Latin autumnus) reminds us of the year passing, as we take out out warm sweaters and comfort foods.

What is your Fall Season “comfort food”? Perhaps a morning oatmeal with a bit of maple syrup reminding you of the colors and the beauty of autumn.

In times of “low energy“ it’s to your benefit to add some extra vitamins with pumpkin seeds, cranberries, some goji berries … good and extra yummy!

Wikipedia defines comfort food as something of nostalgic nature from our childhood usually that makes us feel “cared for” and indeed a hot breakfast around cold Fall and winter days makes us feel better. A reminder that “all that falls” could be your mood and a bit of seasonal depression so do something, be active, put on that warm cuddly sweater and make something good for yourself !

Breakfast, the most important part of your day so start your day with energy!

Demeter, goddess of agriculture, harvest and fertility, is a reminder of seasonal changes, human bounty, and potential loss. Gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece mirrored human nature, one may say as a mother she surely felt a great emptiness when her daughter Persephone was lured by Hades into the underworld disappearing from beloved earth grounds. Hades, a dark figure (may be something like a modern Darth Vader) convinces the kind-hearted Persephone to fall for him offering her a pomegranate.

By eating a few seeds she consummates this relationship so that even the great leader-god Zeus could not intervene, thus Persephone travels to Hades part of the year, and as she re-emerges her mother, Demeter brings flowers and the budding of Spring —  a beautiful myth!

Writers talk about the necessity of change, darkness being a necessary part of our healing (Thomas Moore “Dark Nights of the Soul”).

The continued pagan tradition of the pomegranate, a bittersweet food of seeds or squeezed into juice, rich in vitamin C and anti-inflammatory properties, is added with barley / bulgar wheat, to commemorate death of loved ones as part of the memorial services of several Eastern Orthodox traditions (called “kolyva” κόλλυβα).

There’s a great list of benefits including helping weight loss indicated in a popular fitness magazine, Shape (pomegranate info).

There are the RED types

Fall healthy eating tips:

  • Eat more pumpkin, lotus, and any beta carotene rich vegetables and fruit
  • Take a walk in the woods and gather some chestnuts ? Remember 20 mins a day, walk briskly.
  • Pair your Halloween 🎃 candy with some Omega rich nuts !
  • October health literacy month a reminder to build health literacy.

We made our Halloween mini garden featuring Mr. pumpkin 🎃 and our seasonal basil 🌿 ready for hybernation.

As we close with Eric Clapton’s Autumn, I came across this great quote in thinking of winter and your relationships — a reminder for ”cleaning house”:

October 4th — World Animal Day

Elders, animals, compassion is more of what we need to help our communities become more health literate and learning patience and respect. 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.

When I ask friends, what does your pet mean to you? or how did your pet help you during COVID lockdowns, the answers I get are consistent with the evidence that pets help by minimizing stress, furry animals in particular “give warmth and love” to their owners who attribute “good health” to these little (or big) creatures. Teaching children to take care of pets, including respecting the larger environment, helps them become more active in their communities.

Global Health Literacy goes to Taipei, Taiwan this year virtually (more to come on that later)! Keep learning about how you can contribute to your community’s pro-animal efforts:

  • Be generous
  • Be proactive about your health in understanding how to minimise stress
  • Get animals spade or neutered (microchips a must for house pets)
  • Respect all creatures big and small
  • Adopt and feed stray animals
  • Remember some animals are becoming extinct, educate yourself and donate to organisations like Greenpeace

A big Thank You to all the animals who posed for us for health literacy month !

Mind the gaps

A little girl 👧🏼 held her father’s hand while they waited for the Covid-19 results.
“I’m Fully vaccinated” he said.

Negative (sigh of relief)

Health centers have makeshift testing areas

“What if the vaccine helps only a few? Which vaccine? What about blood clots?” These are the questions from a group of worried chronic health sufferers. Then there are those breakthrough cases. There is no full proof answer, because we simply DON’T KNOW enough. There, I said it.

“Being forced to vaccinate violates my human rights” says an anti-vaccine midlife adult. And then there is the “selective population” vaccination… it almost sounds like a biblical reference.

The voice of denial has roots in fear …of the unknown

Being familiar with “trust” issues related to the Public Health Service (former name for CDC) this article resonated about the loss of a African American couple from Tuskegee, Alabama. Keep your masks 😷 on in public, and keep your distance please! A third “booster dose” is on the way, much to our dismay.

Many people keep the distance in less crowded areas (unfortunately not everyone does!)

A recent BBC article about UK experimenting with air filtered schools included is the use of ultraviolet rays to kill airborne viruses (remember “heliotherapy”?) 🦠 Plus, if your child tests positive the general guidelines are found on CDC and other sites

The World 🌎 Health Organization (WHO) has some great tips including the 3Cs to avoid — 1. Crowded spaces, 2. Close contact settings where people have close conversations with each other; 3. Confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation

I also liked this simple video with infographics as it’s easy for teens through older adults to understand by MedVizz

How long does coronavirus last inside the body?

More importantly in this “Russian roulette” of disease symptomatology we need to always remember what’s important !

What matters today — focus on the present 💝

The crickets will sing

Escaping three fire zones this summer, it was quite scary but quite apocalyptic. I’ve written about prevention and volunteering before (Rafina 2018 fires; Australia 2020); globally whether you’re in Greece, Algeria, California one cannot understand the speed and destruction of forest fire (pine trees 🌲 are the worst “spreaders” with their popcorn type cones). The smoke pollution is the next BIG and toxic problem for all towns and cities. Those K95 masks 😷 will come in handy….

Heatwave at the beach — it started with a stream of smoke eventually difficult to breathe; the burning 🔥 town was mies away…. News, devastation.

I am appreciative of every single thing from the smallest insect to the largest tree. I understand the value of health, and learning more. The summer reading list included Haemin Sunim’s, The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down. Turning inwards and focusing on mental and spiritual health, this is how I’m able to help my clients as self-care, as every week I do a lot of praying and a lot of meditating. This is a significant week before the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary for the eastern orthodox and Catholic Christian traditions, there usually were summer festivals and fanfare in and around August 15th. This year once again, COVID and many fires 🔥prevent this from happening.

During the first COVID lockdown I heard a guru saying how the earth will live beyond what we humans do to destroy it, and it’s true. Then there is the late Steven Hawking’s prediction for the next 200 years (video predictions).

The versatile cicada (τζιτζίκια) and the cricket 🦗

At this moment … crickets (and cicadas) will continue to live, as also the trees, and nature will re-evolve. The crickets will continue to sing as we should be happy that we make it through …. Here is a clip of what I heard today the cicadas and crickets say ….

We are quickly gathering groups 🆘 to help those who lost it all in the fires 🔥 their property, special groups helping devastated and hurt strays…. Many lost their livelihood of olive groves, as replanting appropriate trees will have to happen in Fall and Winter months to help long term with preventing flooding, and rebuilding nature.

The hundred year old olive tree, gone….

In these times we need to be grateful for what we have even if it’s not much. I appreciated a gif someone sent me that says “when you see the sun and you have your health, think that you have an entire wealth, good morning.” I also appreciate these short videos and meditations and am grateful to the people who make them 🥰…

Foster gratitude each day.


What 5 things are you GRATEFUL for right now ?

  1. I’m happy to have made my own summer wine (white sangria version and indeed as the song says strawberries, cherries 🍒) and enjoy it with friends.
  2. My family, friends and their summer smiles
  3. Beauty in color of nature, inspired art (including street art), and our new turquoise budgie named “Azu”
  4. Summer fruits 🍉 and new tastes like eggplant (aubergine) salad (recipe includes garlic, onions, olive oil, red pepper, parsley, a few walnuts and of course 🍆🤓).
  5. Being a child of God enjoying and maintaining the gift 🎁 of nature.

Safety…Summer fun!

Summer months are time for summer fun!  We enjoy outdoor barbecues, evening strolls, ice cream, sunrises and sunsets, water sports, swimming or simply splashing around, outdoor fun in the city or countryside, even in our own backyard.FullSizeRender

Our interaction with nature, bounty of vegetables and fruit for us to eat, and increased physical activity make this particularly a “healthy” time in most of our yearly repertoires. Children especially love the splish, splash, woosh, of water… and parents or caretakers need to always remember things to keep children safe. But do we know enough? After years of health promotion in magazines, internet, news channels, radio, we generally all know

  • drinking enough fluids/replenishing often in hotter months (Parents.com has some great “hydrating” tips in getting the younger ones to drink more, beyond the 6 glasses of water each day recommendation given by the American Pediatrics Association depending),
  • the importance of wearing sunscreen and trends show that adult caretakers are indeed applying to their children but are they doing this for themselves?

On swimming and water sports safety do we know enough? One can be health literate about several choices, but when it comes to perception of risk, this is another matter altogether! Studies show what we intuitively and consciously know… men tend to take more physical risks than women (Harris & Jenkins, 2006, University of California, San Diego). My question is whether this also happens with risks taken with their children? Many a mother, aunt, grandmother, babysitter, teacher may be over-cautious about their child’s safety, but from my and others’ experiences it may be that our male counterparts are lagging behind in knowledge of what they need to do to keep children safe. Even the messages we give (consciously or not) to our young boys/men over time?

People may drown due to other health issues (heart attack, fainting spells, use of substances), those be overconfident in their swimming ability, those who go without using life preservers in activities like canoeing, and several other unintentional drownings as documented by the CDC . Worldwide data as tracked by the World Health Organization which estimates that drowning is the 3rd  leading  cause of desth! ).

In the plethora of summer events, newsworthy incidents (one made local headlines, the other international headlines) leading to unfortunate deaths — a 20-year-old man playing with his friends in a main water reservoir drowns, and a 2-year-old on vacation in Disney, Florida was pulled in by an alligator as he was walking and playing on the side of the man-made lake in a vacation resort leading to the child’s drowning some feet away. As health educators, behaviorists, parents/caretakers we may ask:

  1. How does perception of risk, and developmental age (particularly of young adults who tend to engage in more sensation-seeking behaviors than others) play a role in these incidents?
  2. Do we need to ante up our health efforts and ‘talks’ with young people and young parents? This can be MORE discussion about the importance of paying attention to warning signs and looking at more appealing signs (the applied linguists have a lot of work to do in helping interdisciplinary efforts towards behavior change!)
  3. Understand how our urban development or growth of vacation resorts may affect the nearby ecosystem that may in turn affect us? If for example in the U.S. state of Florida experts indicate that there are indigenous 1.3 million alligators we assume that they are bound to “leak in” to back yards or vacation wetlands — they’re fast and have even been documented climbing up fences very effectively.  Also we should NOT feed these animals (wild animals in general) as this encourages them to come interact with us more… at our risk.

Balance is everything, and police or security personnel cannot be at all places at once!

Finally look at the signs, they are there for a reason! Encourage your local municipality and country to take action by placing signs in appropriate places — in countries like Greece where there is a huge problem with vandalism and vandal-style graffiti including annoying stickers and one cannot READ the sign(s), this is particularly problematic.

Your and the COMMUNITY’s Safety Matters! 

Safety teaching starts young…. Play safe !

The princes of darkness

They are handsome, debonair, can talk you to the moon 🌝 and back again…but as with that, some dark sides of the moon we cannot see clearly until it’s too late. I cannot say how many times I’ve heard this. The experience of the ‘blame game’ where partners take no responsibility, some using their physical or economic strength (if their partner/wife is raising the children and do not work) as male privilege. Worse, the intentionality of a crime where many wives and mothers, girlfriends, are killed as a “result” of their wanting to leave the relationship — perhaps with building pressure from job loss or stress of COVID, who knows? Fits of narcissistic rage, long-standing anger builds to the point of abuse and death. This borderline personality of “I love you but I hate you” is alive and well within all levels of society. There are many sites we can refer to better understand what the POWER & CONTROL issues are and in order to help our friends, neighbors, fellow citizens become more aware of anger management, domestic abuse, and issues of equality. The best model by far is the ‘Duluth Model’ developed in Minnesota in the 1980s as it is still used and modified by many counselors, organizations, and advocacy groups today.

The recent Greek murder case of the 20-year-old Caroline Crouch, beautiful and talented, experienced kickboxer, a mother of an 11-month-old infant, who wanted “out” from a relationship with her husband of almost twice her age, is now dead. Murdered by her husband Babis Anagnostopoulos, who recently confessed …. a national shocker for the country and now the world, for what seemed a ‘perfect crime’…. her personal data watch helped crack the case. It brought me back memories of an older crime from the 1990s in Boston, Mass, a story which also made national headlines with 3rd party accusations — another Carol, and her husband Charles Stuart. She was very pregnant, family issues no one was aware of, and her husband became greedy. In a scene between Rey and Ben (a.k.a. Kylo Ren), the intensity between the characters and being ‘put down’ to feel emotionally vulnerable ….the “Join Me” scene….it is subtle, but the moment of weakness is evident.

The intense ‘Join Me’ scene between Ben (Kylo Ren) and Rey (Star Wars The Last Jedi)

Confronting fear and looking in to the dark side to find the “ray” of light was an intentional part of Star Wars. An enjoyable post by Digital Spy shows how Rey helps Ben (Kylo Ren) ‘escape’ from the dark side. Indeed, this is what many women do, as natural caretakers, to help or ‘save’ partners in the name of love. We all need to be in constant check ourselves of our behavior and choices. But as the story made horror film of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde goes, it may be our chemicals and our becoming possessed from this darker side that leads to unexplicable reactions.

Many of these “princes” are indeed fabulous in the beginning of relationships…. until the children come and/or the stress builds …. a large falling out can happen to many who experience the stress of a new baby the first couple of years. For men who may not comprehend that a wife /mother has her priorities on her baby/young child until the balance is resumed, can experience intense emotional conflict. Many of us have been there….with this experience of the “fairytale gone bad” due to longstanding narcissism, borderline features, some traumas (untreated), all too familiar. It does not matter who you are, but it seems that if you are younger, alone or isolated, these ‘characters’ can take this as part of an advantage….

Patterns of behavior can start young … some relate to developmental immaturity, others carry throughout life.

During one of my graduate public health classes years ago, we had created an intervention for violence prevention emphasizing how younger relationships may sometimes end up in dating violence — examples of “power” struggles and use of force (physical, sexual, psychological) because of fear of loss and intense jealousy (i.e. breakup) which can end in a horrible situation, even death.

  • Communication skills and empathy building, anger management (building EQ) are critical.
  • Any intervention should include both the perpetrators and the victims. As one teacher friend did by building a communication “card” for her students to deal with bullying, we all need one through life!
  • Seek counseling and spiritual guidance.
  • Share your stories so that others can learn from them.

Personality is complex, aspects build over time, the side that past psychoanalyst Carl Jung referred to as our dark side is sometimes unknown fully even to us! Spiritualists call this evil.  I recall this pictured vividly in an older film movie “The Ghost” as life circumstances and jealousy lead to extreme actions. The shadow, the anima, the animus, and the Self – as Jung wrote has both a light and a dark aspect… modern research indicates that we CAN help others control these ‘inner demons’ with meditation, prayer, and cognitive restructuring, NLP (or whatever works for them). Of course meditation helps with depression — longstanding depression or intense anger issues, one should always check with a professional! Many Bible verses call for protection, and can be found on-line. If this is something one wishes to seek out, then practice reading these daily!

Is Pinnochio just a childhood story ?

The “dark triad” of personality, such as the one that may be indicated in personal or workplace relationships, is one that develops over time. It is a combination of narcissism, sociopathy and Machiavellian traits. Wikipedia lists the “Prince of darkness” as being either Satan (in the Biblical sense) or Machiavelli the statesman historical figure of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 -1527) whose cunning political prowess kept him in power at the helm. You might think his childhood hero was Pinocchio, an innocent and manipulated wooden puppet who eventually developed remorse for his actions….not sure about Niccolo! He wrote the infamous book, The Prince, which some say he was writing about himself, while others think was about what he witnessed around him. It’s worth a read, as we all need to keep these dark sides “in check” as when we allow the ‘takeover’ we can destroy our own life as well as that of others….

If you are READING this, and you recognize some of the emotional instability patterns in several relationships (frequent break-ups, rage at others especially if they ‘don’t pay attention to you’, emotional up and downs) it will benefit you to seek professional help.

Austen Lennon, M.D. has a newer book (2018), a ‘must buy’ for those who want to help people with borderline personality (see GoodReads here). Several sites refer to POWER & CONTROL issues, intending to help our friends, neighbors, fellow citizens become more aware of domestic abuse and issues of equality. I liked this site developed both in Canada and in the U.S. to Reach Out and ‘help a friend’ (webpage). The video below is a ‘taste’ of some of the issues of an emotionally abusive relationship (Duluth Center). You can try to kiss the toad, as that childhood story goes, but they might be one of these very ‘dark’ princes…. so keep your eyes on your inner mirror.

Yellow Sunflower Days🌻

Some days you want to stand out …. even more now with those face masks many of us are still wearing…. because some of us work long hours even some weekends through much of June there are some days, consciously wearing happy colors like yellow can change one’s mood.

We took off in front of that beautiful winged horse we all know from Greek mythology named Pegasus, and then heading over evening to have a seaside meal of calamari (καλαμάρι), or hot dish calamari with purée chickpeas (ρεβύθια), a fresh Greek salad, in Corinth (check out this website as a greatest places in Greece). Mediterranean cuisine makes a wonderful end to perfect days. Of course it’s all better with cheerful friends.

Smiling 😊 is contagious, as I remember taught this years ago when I took a “smiling therapy” class for enhancing my clinical work with youth and groups ….yes there are direct positive affects on our neuronal brain connectivity by looking upward and smiling on our own.

Be like a sunflower 🌻 spread a smile 😃 it’s a simple curve that makes everything better.

There they are smiling at you if you notice them, brilliant 🌻 sunflowers 🌻 basking in the sunlight. Yellow is a cheerful color that many of us need this in our daily routines (diet of fruits of the rainbow to include banana for potassium, and pineapple full of vitamin C, or sunflower seeds on yogurt with honey, to keep healthy) …. how about a piña colada cocktail 🍹 without the alcohol!? The barman matched the fruit and decor with my bathing suit. That’s mindfulness in customer service!

There is even a Sunflower song 🎵 …. positive vibes, and it’s a great reminder that summer is here.

The early bird … and the porcupine

It is morning 8 a.m. first time at the beachside for that enjoyable cappuccino — yep! glad that your nose still smells coffee as it’s a sign you don’t have Covid. There they were the chirping happy wrens out for their morning snack. There is a great article on how to attract wrens to your backyard, what about to a favorite outdoor cafe ?

I always tell my son “the early bird gets the worm”… and that’s how it is. You see it in nature… there is competition and resources may be few to scarce. We talk about resources in public health as we see transient populations and of course fear of the unknown or coping during hard times. Animals compete and adapt all the time to change, why are we different? Preventing disease but accessing care early on makes a world of difference and part of global health literacy! As far as getting your sense of smell back ….that too (see DW article).

The early bird may get the worm , in this case it was a chip (potato that is!)

It was the first time in almost a year that I went to the beachside cafe (featured here at Schoinia’s Bay in Marathon, Greece, the original marathon that is). I had time to think 🤔 about what time I’ve wasted or gained the last two years, resources lost or gained, my own family’s marathon . Spring fever and our own need to socialize, to “belong” and also to feel loved 🥰. This isolation has caused many to feel hopeless and the need to have faith and patience is great. Many feel they’ve lost opportunities, or is it time to rework new ones?

For some, this isolating leads to more “prickly” feelings towards others as people seem antisocial, recently in the U.S. we hear more daily crimes – killings seemingly getting worse. This afternoon in my 15-minutes walk I came face-to-face with a little rodent on the road, a little porcupine. According to Native American folklore (Source) In most Native American tribes, the porcupine is a relatively minor animal spirit, most often associated with self-defense and cautiousness (Covid for sure has fostered this in many of us).

Some Southwestern tribes, such as the Hopi, porcupines are seen as a symbol of humility and modesty, for others, porcupines considered lucky animals. Supposedly, a hunter who spotted a porcupine was sure to have a good day hunting. It is a call then to begin the “hunt” for what one needs…

Porcupines! teach us to be humble, our self-defense in a world of seeming insecurity? or a sign that the “hunt”will be a lucky one?