Men’s International Health Day — stay alert and healthy!

November 19th is International Men’s Health Day reminding men to keep healthy, among other things special focus on heart 💜 health, skin health, and checking for testicular or colon cancers (talk with your doctor or paediatrician— yes testicular issues can happen with teens too!). Let’ normalise our body for better health….. it seems that our media alters our perception about being ‘perfect’ and so this post is dedicated to the many males that have told me about their health and sexuality issues, in my attempt to help them continue to ask questions and seek professional advice. Furthermore, I was sent this ‘talisman’ from an archaeologist friend to prompt interest in this area… after all ‘sex sells’ as they say. A 2022 article in Men’s Health focused on the Best and Worst Cities for Longevity but one may not be able to afford good food, have little time to exercise, and their immediate environment may be dirty, have toxins and in essence be hazardous for their health. Hopefully history can help us learn more, and continue to increase our health literacy.


1) The talisman of the phallus for “good luck and fertility/ health” from Roman times, gives historical context of the importance to men and women. Interestingly around the globe (except in Greece) there are temples dedicated to Priapus however he was banned from Olympus, perhaps there was a reason? Aphrodite (‘Venus’) in the statue found in the Archaeological Museum in Athens shows amusement but is ready to ‘strike’ with her sandal a very ‘eager’ Pan, while Eros holds him back…..

2) The statue of Don Quixote (Quichote) and and his trusted companion sidekick is his squire Sancho Panza found in Madrid, Spain.

  • Sancho Panza is a short, pot-bellied peasant (reminding men to keep healthy and share their problems with smart witty friends!)
  • Don Quixote of La Mancha was published by Miguel Cervantes in 1600s and considered a worldwide classic!

Freud talks about ‘penis envy’ but one could argue there is also ‘vagina envy’ and it seems more men like to cross-dress than women do, so that says something. Furthermore, since it comes up ⬆️ often in discussions (pun intended)…we thought to share about the “obsession with the penis” — read more in Science Direct article by K. Wylie published in 2008. There is also a very extensive blog post about “the Phallus in Ancient Greece” making the point that many ancient cultures revered it as a symbol of health and fertility. Beyond this, I published in 2006 about AIDS research 🧐 but we are still dealing with an endemic situation… Good to stay alert 🚨 and be safe.

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
  • Pair your leftover Halloween 🎃 candy w/ some Omega rich nuts !
  • Take a walk in the woods and gather some chestnuts ? Remember 20 mins a day, walk briskly.
  • Remember increasing your help knowledge helps build health literacy.
  • Teach future generations what you have learned…be thankful for the extra knowledge!

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

Here today gone tomorrow: Health & Life Lessons

We have known many people who are here today gone tomorrow, through accidents, illness, homicide, or even a sudden heart attack. We don’t know the why, it just is. Or is it?

It’s a combination of our genes and the environment. It’s also about our personality type if we are “impulsive” we take more risks or if we “keep things bottled up” can eat away at our core…. Reach out, Speak 🗣 Up!
There are those philosophies about death and about living a “good life” that can help us reframe, as expressed in stoic philosophy.

Health literacy is about understanding risk and focusing on preventing or further worsening of symptoms. October is an “awareness” month for Fall (including for animals) and April for Spring, let’s keep learning. As CDC says, health literacy affects everyone!

Regarding intimate relationships and potential abuse or abuse of children and animals which is particularly traumatic or infuriating to all — sites like this one are mandatory for all youth to be reading and trained with! (See ywcaspokane.org Power and Control Wheel 🛞). When we understand about Power and Control we can understand about human “sin”, motivation and weaknesses. And we need to promote classes in schools to discuss human – healthy relationships.

Using intimidation is never “cool” in intimate relationships. Deal with your own anger first.

I was also very pleased to see a social marketing poster for citizens to remind them to call the hotline for dealing with potential child abuse as there have been many recent high profile cases, involving crime “rings” with that are surfacing in Greek news 📰 as of late. I note however that these crimes have been happening since the old times particular victims attractive “good-quiet” kids! 😣

How long will you wait before you say something? Social marketing poster with hotline to call 📞 for child abuse


I have lost many friends in their late 20s (diabetes, liver cancer, accidents), 30s and 40s (stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, heart attacks) and with secondary aging more expected in 50s and 60s and beyond. Death of young athletes especially shock us, like this of Mr. Nikolaidis, age 42, a Tae Kwon Do Olympic medalist who had a rare form of cancer. The Olympics article writes that he never said, “Why me?” in his two year cancer battle. He lived a good and useful life and when he discussed with a reporter years ago his working with children training them in Tae Kwon Do, I loved his sense of responsibility for the “twenty pairs of eyes” who looked up to him. As he also had two young children himself, we are especially saddened for their loss.

The Olympiad’s written message to all speaks volumes. Persistence is admirable and all are saddened by loss of great people. 😔😢The images speak volumes even if you don’t speak Greek, as his support for other cancer victims lead to his putting up his two Olympic medals for auction in helping children/ youth fighting cancer.

While fighting his own cancer, he supported others, this was the character of Olympiad Nikolaidis.

Teaching for more than 13 years courses like Developmental Psychology, having experience in hospitals and Psy wards as an intern and Counselor, discussing these cases is critical for my students learning. We talk about life but also death. I share 3 lessons for all …

Lesson #1 — if your teen or young adult is “drinking” themselves to death you need to intervene with friends/ family and professionals like family therapists or social workers, health psychologists, even religious leaders who mean something to the teen, young adult, older adult. There is specialized training, as often high risk behaviors “won’t go away” on their own. Young people engage in “sensation seeking” behaviors — as ridiculous as it may sound to you, we’ve had youth snort the white chemical known as white-out (or “blanco”) to get “highs”, and more often motorists speeding without helmets ⛑ for the rush of adrenaline ….and getting into very serious or deadly accidents, that could have been prevented. Police 👮‍♂️ need to do their jobs, and we never drink and drive. This shocking but true video speaks volumes….

No words 😶 Never tailgate, and NEVER drink and drive !

Lesson #2 — too little or too much of a good thing can be harmful to our body. This includes too many vitamins or too little, exercise, sex, sleep, heavy lifting, etc. Self-care is NOT selfish! And managing our emotions and what we “take in” is priority.

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

Lesson #3 — share love 💗 as much as you can, ask for forgiveness, go to trips local or international, enjoy good food and good wine 🍷 (not too much), and ask for and give many hugs 🤗 ! Adult humans and children need comfort as much as animals do. These images and quotes from https://lessonslearnedinlife.com/ are particularly poignant.

Simple words, speak 🗣 volumes about Life.

Defining Health Literacy is critical to understanding life. We need patience to help others, ourselves and only time will tell the outcome. Keep moving and keep doing, don’t live with regrets, be all the best you can be, learning is a lifelong process.

October Awareness

This October we celebrate Domestic abuse awareness, health literacy month, Breast Cancer Awareness, and it’s time for the annual mammograms for women over 50 years of age … pink ribbon 🎀 to commemorate and a beautiful Bougainvillea tree this year as a reminder!

To commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness month !
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

And if we can think that we are checking for lumps the size of a pea (not a nut!) for primary prevention this is most important.
Jennifer Garner, American actress recently shared the importance of mammograms check out Hello Magazine article and video.

Our friends the squirrels 🐿 look for 🌰 nuts, they are celebrating their own October month too … (Squirrels US National Awareness month) important for our globe’s ecology.

At the recent Europe in Discourse III Conference held in Athens, we presented on some very important health communication issues part of a global health literacy panel including:

  • Oral health and interrelated global health issues (Kritikos)
  • After school language program curriculum building for awareness of smoking as prevention (Dimitsanti)
  • Refugee crisis and health literacy (Ioannidi)
  • Violence against women and “femicide” (Argyriou, Kondilis)
    • 😓given the event in Iran 🇮🇷 about the death by “moral police” violence of Masha Amini, this was timely
  • Graffiti in times of recent economic and covid crisis in EU (Kondilis & Kountouris)

A woman, and Queen, lived her true Jubilee

She never explained, she never complained, she simply moved on. This was the most true-to-Queen Elizabeth II’s – life quote I’ve read. Monarchy or patriarchy, history can teach us something to “take home.”

In New Orleans, when someone dies, the music starts somber when accompanying the deceased person towards the burial ground and then joyous music (think “When the Saints Go Marching in”) the band plays upon return. This is perhaps how the Queen of England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 and the UK 🇬🇧 may have wanted it to be (or not) upon her passing. One reporter captured a rainbow 🌈 the exact time she departed. September 8th its own very important symbolism, infinity), any Queen 👸🏻 “Making it” in the dominant world of patriarchy deserves respect.

Queen Elizabeth II indeed lived a full life , as positive psychology would dictate the popular phrase, “long live the Queen” was appropriate in her case. She had many life and leadership skills. She kept healthy (no smoking, maintained her weight and her humor), good social support and a good marriage as contributing health factors, she lived long enough to celebrate with her people the platinum 2022 jubilee, serving her country for 70 years. Perhaps 🤔 she could have written the 2nd version of her own life to accompany the famous book by Alan Axelrod titled, Elizabeth I CEO: Strategic Lessons from the Leader Who Built an Empire. Both women “inherited a business in trouble,” countries marred by war or flailing economies, yet “mothered” a nation.

Queen Elizabeth II lived a turbulent yet extraordinary life. She is now reunited with her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (died 2021), managed to keep her “kingdom” in one piece, despite World War II, scandals and criticisms for many international decisions or “lacking support” as with Cyprus (still occupied), the death of princess Diana, Harry and Megan’s break-off from the Royal Family, and her life in the “open” under Netflix and The Crown…. What 3 things you did not know ?

1) she gave her first public speech to inspire the soldiers at war

Queen Elizabeth’s First speech 🎤 to inspire.

2) trained with the military, assigned to Mechanical Transport Training (yes, she changed tires);

3) she was a “master” at dealing with the news press —Toastmasters using “Speaking to Inform” manual understand this important skill (find out more about Toastmasters here).

Queen Elizabeth II (photograph) by Unknown photographer is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0

The Carob tree

Introducing the Carob tree, here in Greece also found in many warm summer climates, whose benefits and usefulness are immeasurable. WebMD has all the fine details saying there is no “evidence” for medical purposes however it has been used throughout ancient times for feeding animals, making flour, boiling and drinking, and medicinally. Carob (ceratonia siliqua) in Greek “charoupi” (χαρούπι), is a hard shelled brown pod considered a sustainability product (see ResearchGate 2018 article).

The Carob tree can be male or female and traces back to Ancient Greece. Multiple vitamins, antioxidants and high fiber; it can be boiled for its juice, ground for its flour, eaten raw, or used for its seeds. Some people prefer it to chocolate as it’s caffeine free! It’s found also in syrup form, a gluten-free product and it’s fibers help weight loss, reduce blood sugar and insulin levels (see Healthline article). Supposed benefits include:

  • Better control of diabetes (prediabetes) and cholesterol
  • diarrhea control
  • obesity
  • persistent heartburn
  • autoimmune diseases like Celiac disease
  • sinusitis and congestion (hot Carob powder drink)
  • athletic performance (chewed over several weeks), and the syrup (taken orally of course) is used to improve sperm functioning

Photos taken in Neo Oitylon, Mani Peninsula, southern Peloponnesus. A mountainous region with much stone, wind, and 🌊 sea!

Besides providing well needed shade, the Carob tree has been used throughout times.

Here are a few 😋 good recipe links you might like:

  1. Brownies (by Thespruceeats)
  2. Tsoureki (a traditional Greek Easter sweet bread) from Carob (Vicki’s Greek recipes)
  3. Apple and Carob crumble cake (by Yummly)
  4. Carob powder hot beverage drink (by Healthiersteps)
Casa Verde makes their own Carob syrup from the mature (brown) pods.

Night Sky 🌌 Astrophysics, Life purpose

Do you look up to the sky and ask yourself what is my purpose? Do you wonder what is out there? Did you notice anything strange lately like Elon Musk’s new Starlink satellites? (Those night streaks are causing both space clutter as well as obscuring astronomers’ telescope views ….. see BBC report). This was a week of contemplating about life which often happens when there are challenges, or times for relaxation. Trying to finish a summer reading book titled 📖 Someone I Used to Know by Wendy Mitchell, about her experience of Dementia. She poignantly states how her colleagues, friends and family deal with her cognitive loss, and how phrases like “living with” instead of using “suffering from” can make a big difference in curative care and survival. Other books like Thomas Moore’s Dark Night of the Soul help people philosophize about their personal life struggles.

The recent death of internationally acclaimed astrophysicist Dionysus Simopoulos, age 79, and his last message to
his friends “That’s All Folks!” having talked openly about his battle with pancreatic cancer leads me to believe we need these great examples of how to better communicate difficult topics for the general public to better understand and advocate for services. I’m not an expert in astronomy or physics but Smartphone applications like Night Sky 🌌Apps certainly help us see the world in a different light! As a matter of fact I also learned about the astronomical Ophiuchus, pronounced ‘o-few-cus’, and those with this star sign have a mix of traits from both Scorpio and Sagittarius. Ophiuchus or “the serpent bearer” is often considered as a 13th sign and it appeared on our clip, described as insightful and curious, and a “seeker of wisdom and knowledge.”

Ophiuchus is seen here …

A good friend’s father passed away and it was curious that her other siblings never came to the funeral as some cannot experience loss in the same way or the concept of filial piety seems to be fading away or very busy young people who may be lacking resources. A few years back I wrote a book chapter about Ageing, health literacy and the end of life issues both from a research perspective, and cultural histories which included commonalities of rituals and challenges as part of the acclaimed International Handbook of Health Literacy (Orkan et al., 2019). We all can and will experience this so why not be better prepared? One of the best courses we took in high school (US in the 1980s) was “Relating” which included about “death and dying” learning about Elizabeth Kubler Ross stages and having a classmate’s dad, a mortician, explain what and how they deal with the “body” and the families. Why is it that we can watch gruesome details of murders on CSI, or Law and Order, but seem not to be able to discuss about the basics?

  • Be ware of how developmental stages affect how we perceive loss and view blog post on losing a pet.
  • Keep talking and be patient with yourself, others who may have lost something special or someone special. Expect delayed reactions.
  • Practice self care always!

    Life purpose may take time but keep searching ….for sure doing good, to love ❤️ and be loved 🥰 is a basic human (and perhaps extraterrestrial) need…. Don’t underestimate the power of God and the energy of the universe.
Sunset over the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean by NASA Johnson is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Healthy eating….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.
Berry and strawberry season are perfect seasonal foods. What about gaining beta carotene and vitamin C with low-fat Loquat (in Greek “mousmoula” μούσμουλα)? All Seasonal foods!
Think health.

Pea pods and seasonal goodies

Many struggle with 💰 money due to pay cuts or unemployment, so one has to think smart. It’s part of our financial literacy. Think cash.

The FAVA bean pureed is a great protein source

Trying to get kids eating more fruit and nuts? ….Think creative. Here is a ”palm tree“ made with banana (good source of potassium and magnesium) , kiwi 🥝 fruit (very high vitamin C), and decorated with brazil nuts (good source of Omega 3s).

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

The ”Trap King”

From “Trapper” – rapper to cat trapper, Sterling Davis is a creative genius and true global citizen! We love that you are doing such awesome work around the globe to educate about catch, neuter, release, all those kitties, teaming up in Greece w/ Let’s be S.M.A.R.T. and the fabulous big-hearted Julie Kelly !

Julie giving love to one of many felines !

Davis gave two ”Trap King and Queen Greece” awards to dedicated cat trappers in the hopes of making them role models for others to follow suit in helping the strays. Maria the ”Greek Trap Queen” awardee goes 3 am and has trapped and neutered 2,000 cats! 🤩😮

A Fundraising event held this month in Varkiza Resort was hosted by the Mayor of the municipality towns Vari, Voula, Varkiza (3 Vs) which are part of the southern Attica “Riviera” in Greece. Mayor Grigoris Konstantellos indicated roughly 20,000 interventions in the 3 Vs alone the past year (!) and he will help take the lead in this cause, hopefully other Mayors follow this great 👍🏽 example.

Beyond greater Athens, nearby cities have several animal oriented groups making BIG attempt in creating this needed awareness — cats are breeding often out of control without food or shelter; despite their 9 lives, we still need a symbiotic relationship.

We caught up with the “King” after his rap, sharing brief stories about Atlanta, GA his hometown, and community wellness despite challenges !

Learn more about Davis here:

The Trap King story!

The language of medicinal plants -(repost)

Dr. Alain Touwaide mesmerized his audience a few years ago presenting the “Hyppocrates’ Legacy: Greek Medicine in the Mediterranean and Beyond” showcasing his 40+ years of research experience as a classicist and scholar of the Byzantine world, taking us on a “medicinal plant journey” from Ancient Greece (Hellas), the Mediterranean and Middle East, through the Byzantine Empire and Middle Ages,the west, and tying in our modern times. A speaker of 12 languages, university lecturer and researcher, and Scientific Director of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions; Touwaide, with the support of Emanuela Appetiti (cultural anthropologist, Touwaide’s wife and research partner) gave his audience a true “intercultural” lesson of sorts.  He helped us travel back to the days of Pedanius Dioscorides (Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης) of Anazarbus (the then ancient Hellenic world, now modern Turkey) through Byzantine and modern times… Medicinal plants (e.g. Δρακόντιον) from archaeological representation, art, to actual plant.

johnson_papyrus_fragment_of_an_illustrated_herbal-_wellcome_l0045048

Johnson papyrus fragment of an illustrated herb

How fascinating to learn about the circulation of information via a papyrus and how this may have had effect on translation, since this medium was often recycled — the ancients and those through the middle ages printed on top of other manuscripts in order for this information to eventually reach the ‘commoners.’ We wonder, what has been erased at the base!??

Furthermore, the Greek concept of “ιατρό σόφια” or “γιατροσόφια” (meaning wisdom of medicine passed on from your grandmother) may indeed be one of those very useful things to more carefully look into –an oral and written tradition carried through the ages to our modern days. Indeed, we see that most of the world still uses traditional plants as therapies — these “traditional”,”alternative” or “complementary” medicines (see World Health Organization for the differentiating definitions), may be plants or herbs we use in our everyday cooking like basil and garlic, or for stress and pain reduction like lavender and peppermint. As a matter of fact there are several webpages dedicated to grandma’s medicinal knowledge or “γιατροσόφια” like this one and one interesting one that is tied to the “Agion Oros” (Mount Athos holy mountain, Northern Greece).

Since Greece is among the top three biodiversities in the world, could this not be cultivated more systematically in turn to produce and retain knowledge, create more jobs, and even tourism by rebuilding some of those ancient sites for consulting on medical care the revitalizing of the Ἀσκληπιεῖον – Asklepieion as a way to help the country look to something more positive in the midst of the ongoing crisis for the last almost ten years? Rumor has it that the Greek WWF may be thinking of more serious plant biodiversity proposals in the near future, we hope so!  The first ‘hospital’ was created by the “Asclepiads” inspired through Hippocrates’ original work (we all recall the Hyppocratic Oath), these ancient physicians  followed the cult of Asclepius and the temple of healing. The most well-known asklepieia in Greece today are the Asclepieion in Kos & the Asklepieion of Epidaurus — more that existed in the ancient Hellenic world, some are found in modern-day Turkey.  As an aside, it seems that there is a catalogue of physician’s “oaths” affecting the code of ethics that doctors still use today (anyone want to do a linguistical comparative study in context of the various historical times?).

Dr. Touwaide referred to terms like “diffusion of pharmacotherapies” or reconstructing the “life of the book” (pressed plants in books, etc.), and how the knowledge of a book was transmitted to common people — diffusion through translation (Arabic science is rooted in Greek science) as he showed us remnants from Arabic Baghdad of the 9th century….even in arabic one can clearly see mention of certain terms within the texts and even the image of Asclepius shown in a more culturally-specific and acceptable form that would be more geared for the middle east arabic-speaking world. Indeed we share a common language and interest, can this not overcome any modern-day barriers?

staffasclepius

Modern symbol in U.S. Medicine, the caduceus

The Asclepius staff is pictured in the U.S. as Herme’s “Caduceus” a universal images used for modern day medicine but there is so much more to those snakes than even we know (healing snakebites, etc.). It turns out that the original staff by Asclepius had one snake and nothing to do with ‘wings’…. this was exclusive to the messenger god Hermes, so another case of mistaken ancient-to-modern identity!

Thanks Alain…just in time for winter and thinking of prevention and healing of our common colds the flu, health problems I’m sure we all experience and likely natural cures that stand the test of time…