Earth “minutes” and turning the page

The beginning of the year started with critical minutes of being at the wrong or right page at the right / wrong time, taking in the “lessons learned” and see what we can do to help ourselves, our neighbors, our globe 🌍 whether it’s climate change, a tragedy, and even an opportunity that you have not “noticed” before. Let’s reframe!

We have witnessed entire towns and villages in Turkey 🇹🇷 and Syria 🇸🇾 disappear almost 30K dead according to CNN news, with estimates over 40,000 people possibly gone due to an earthquake of the worst in the 21sr century besides the 9,5 Richter scale in Chile in 1960. Be aware of what to do to protect yourself in event of an earthquake as CDC advises for prevention!

This morning in this little church of Saint Gerasimos in the city of Patras in Peloponnesus, I heard the priest say to a very stressed videographer preparing for a christening, “don’t stress because you might not be here tomorrow”… perhaps 🤔 he was referring to stress related issues as this is February the month of preparing for heart ❤️ health, or maybe due to the massive loss in the neighboring countries. I listened to these words of wisdom and appreciated the time I had to pray 🙏🏼 for all these lost souls, and pray for the living !

Then we had the snowstorm “Barbara” did we think that it “inconvenienced” us or perhaps helped us gain some snow literacy ? In some parts of the globe it’s natural to get “snowed in” we may gather supplies and equipment great for a few days, and be realistic to ask questions of the local municipality and government. Streets which have constant potholes less room for parking will suffer more when the snow falls as snow ploughing may be difficult. In other parts of the globe local contractors help with small trucks so as to take the ownership off the government.

Elon Musk gave us his recommended reading list for the past year of 9 books (reinvent life !) and it still seems that some still like to read, while younger generations spend more time on social media and everything online and don’t read enough (except the comments on YouTube or TikTok videos!?). After a very stressful last two years finally many people are rethinking their life, beyond the New Year’s resolutions. Maybe the year of the rabbit 🐇 will finally help some of us move on for things we were stuck in our minds! Let’s turn the page …seeing new horizons and help protect our earth 🌍 as reminded by our Mardi Gras (also known as Carnival) statuette in the city of Patras waiting for their big Carnival event!

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FIFA World 🌎 Cup 🏆Champions Argentina 🇦🇷

It’s a male bonding thing, we can be happy about the World Cup to represent world team spirit and peace. It is similar to what Olympics were designed to do. Healthy adrenaline, seeing how teams are built, goals are targeted, and legends are made. Team Captain our captain 👨‍✈️ Lionel Andres Messi, of the Argentinian national team, a grande finale for this talented player.

Teamwork— we are better together … an important video.

However the game goes let’s remember the thousands who died building the stadium, cleaning the pews — kudos to the Japanese fans — all the staff preparing the food 🥘, so much goes on for a successful event …

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.

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.

Fly kites not make war!

The globe is at war, and it ain’t pleasant. The phrase “Go fly a kite!” and accompanying physical act when one is angry 😡…. to give time to relax the intense emotions, breathe some oxygen and get some healthy sunshine 🌞 is so needed NOW by all of us, and so also the political “greediness“ …

In Greece this Monday it’s a cultural tradition to fly a kite 🪁 symbolic of the soul flying high as the majority are Eastern Orthodox Christians and it’s a “clean Monday” no meat, subdued and happy moments with family and the beginning of the 40 days of Lent. In light of what’s happening in the Ukraine, the fact is that both the Russians and Ukranians are mainly Eastern Orthodox.

However, the Ukranian Orthodox church split off the Russian Orthodox church Patriarchate in early 2019 (autocephaly) which likely set off Putin. Archbishop Daniel, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in U.S. commented asking for divine forgiveness of the former. Metropolitan Epiphanius of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine states that we as Christians, “as people of faith, we also have a weapon in our hands — and that’s a prayer.” (See Feb 25th article)

We need to think 🤔 and take some time to personally contribute to a better world starting with us … manage our systems and manage our anger in healthier ways. It is not as easy as it looks.

Go FLY a Kite!

Ms. “Sarakosti” keeps time with her legs ! 7 weeks ….

And of course who would forget Ms. Sarakosti her 7 feet symbolize each week of Lent. She humbly reminds us to turn within and add our family members names (optional) to keep us on path for our detoxification and spiritual growth.

The hope is that we learn to soar and the “growth mindset” takes some time ….

  1. Manage yourself first ….including rethinking about what you do and say. No one is perfect.
  2. Sit with it — Extreme emotions may be warranted but not to the detriment of your relationships. Start counting ….it takes about 10 seconds to realize how you’re feeling and a quick body scan, 🛑 reflect and then act!
  3. Listen — Can you really “hear” truth or simply perceive criticism ? Good friends and family often want what’s best for us, so tease out what is valuable.
  4. Clean house — inner and outer, literally and figuratively. A bit of fasting and reflecting is healthy. Decluttering also makes you feel great and the KonMarie method is one to follow!
The pure white Lily of the Valley…

Rovaniemi winter survival

We take for granted what we have in most cities and towns, all year long. Cars and trucks that take us places, the local grocer or supermarket for our goods. Recall that before “all things mechanical” people were living off the land with resources given and their own passion, creativity, and will to survive. Animals have always played a big part in this for protection, ranging from fur for warmth (not only fashion as we now know — see past minks post), food, protection (think mountains and wolves) but also for travel, in the form of dog or horse drawn sleds.
Recently, this video came into my hands reminding me of the loud but fun snowmobiles, and the amazing dogs trained for the dogsled area in Rovaniemi, Finland. Don’t let the puppy 🐶 cuteness fool you as your hand can get bitten off in seconds (we were advised NOT to put our hands through the metal netting)!

Dogsleds and snowmobiles – Rovaniemi, Finland (Northern Lapland)

Beyond the tourist attraction, Imagine that these people not so long ago, LIVED and travelled with dog 🐕 sleds 🛷; turns out that the female dogs are almost always in the front because they keep the TRACK (they don’t get easily distracted), and immediately following the 2 strongest males in line with the other “Dog pack” …. Pretty amazing !
Harsh winters as the North Pole measures freezing temperatures and earlier bedtime routines since darkness falls quickly during winter but in the summer it is the land of the Midnight Sun as they are near the Arctic!

So what do people do to stay healthy? Locals as other groups around the globe are big on arts and crafts, hot drinks, berries collected and made into compote earlier in the Spring and summer. The traditional Shamans (in tents) may foretell your future, eating high fat or high protein meals (keep body fat going to bear tge cold — bear meatballs anyone?) as it is ok to gain those needed winter 5-10 kikos!! The kids love a good snowball fight, while adults shovel, sled-rides keeps kids active! I personally loved greeting Santa Claus 🎅🏻 with his long beard and winter cloak while we danced under the starry winter night with the Northern lights (known as Aurora Borealis) in the distance …. something we wanted to see clearly but due to weather did not, so it’s worth a trip back !

There are plenty of ice-hotels, for those thrill-seekers, as for our group we had some amazing hot soup with salmon, yummy 😋!!

Appreciative of those pre-Covid times and holiday memories from several years back.

There is no planet B for youth

This was the key message from the United Nations rep on the current state of our Earth. On November 4th many celebrate Diwali 🪔 much needed LIGHT, and one custom of GOOD reminds me that “there is some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for” says Sam to … Master Froddo! So, we need to fight for it.

Fight for your soul, for humanity, and the planet. Take it seriously, this is not a joke — we have no planet ”B”. Many have helped us increase our knowledge, our health literacy, with individual and community efforts…. Do think of what can you do today?

  • As consumers use less plastics, the 3 Rs ♻️ Reuse, Reduce, Recycle ♻️), but be careful as some of these “cool bags” can lead to bigger issues! (The Cotton Tote “Crisis”)
  • Energy and fuel efficient, less carbon emissions cars 🚘 and buses 🚌 🚎
  • Plant 🪴 🌲 🌳 reforest, and think of getting a little help from those heroic bees (April showers bring May flowers and..? 🐝 )
  • Homes 🏡 — energy efficient light 💡 bulbs, turn OFF and stop 🛑 your tap water from running when you don’t need it; insulate well!
  • Clean 🧼 up trash and vandalism from your community and help your municipality! Alone or with a group “after the storm”…
  • Schools 🏫 can also educate to recycle, fix up play areas, contribute books and offer classes to poor neighborhoods
  • Demand your legislators and governments to enforce global mandates — New agreements between US and EU on steel mandates (Joint EU-US agreement on steel 2021)

thinkgreen #EUinitiatives #Recycle #noplanetB

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

Keep your smile 😀 going ! Oral Health Month

Do you have bad breath 😷?
Do your gums bleed 🩸 in excess?
Do you get your teeth cleaned at least 1-2 times a year? Keeping overall well-being includes a combination of eating right, brushing teeth twice a day (flossing at least once!) and preventive care especially if you smoke and have chronic health issues that may lead to gum disease.
These guys have it right —https://www.123dentist.com/april-is-oral-health-month/

Having had painful gum surgery because my back teeth had “pockets” that caused later issues, and because of a misdiagnosis — the one time I went to another dentist and his machine didn’t pick up my cavity (or perhaps he should lose his license) I went on for months with full pain that got out of control 3 months later … I lost a tooth last Spring.

Realizing that my own dentist inspires me with his knowledge and skill, and knowing that during crises people don’t go to the dentist, it reminds me to remind others …. TRUST your dentist and get your teeth cleaned !

I was so happy when my six-year-old Godson was playing with plasticine (clay) and came up with this …complete with cavities and a “tool” to remove them.

The mom writes “a little mouth that has cavities unfortunately needing fillings. The creation of my little guy.

Obviously, the school 🏫 and parents did something to keep him health literate about his teeth 🦷. We need continued education around good oral health. This why health educator teams need to include the allied health professions.

Here are some other images and adverts …love the one with the toothbrushes and Covid, and even in our orthodontist office we wear foot covers to prevent the spread of germs 🦠…. it’s a forgotten area. If you’re like me and you like sugary foodies remember your sugarless gum and brush often !

Smile and the world is a happier place! Keep it clean and pretty ….

Mundane Poetry and thoughts on Pandemics

April is National Poetry Month, in the U.S. Inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), the Academy of American Poets established National Poetry Month in 1996.

I have been writing poetry for a very long time and only recently during quarantine had a bit more time in my plethora of life and work matters, to pick up some poetry books to read, and of course write more. Why not published….. hmm? Too busy reading articles. Part of inspiring hope is through literature and poetry. Poetry can take many forms, it can describe a mood, reflect on subconscious or conscious thoughts, history, fantasy or reality. Quotes and poetry add great depth to our lives, to inspire, to make a difference, so dream and think like a poet!

Robert Frost, and many of his writings are classics, one of my favorites, as also the metaphysical poet John Donne. Andrew Spacey in Owlcation poetry analysis of Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (written in 1922) provides a great analysis by stanza (group of lines divided into groups and separated by lines in a poem). Indeed some of Frost’s lines are “dark” but then, a lot of music and poetry is. It describes our mood, subconscious thoughts or simply a state of mind. Frost has that ‘hunky sensitivity’ — endearing to many of us romantic types — this poem is indeed reflective of isolation, and if anyone travels to Vermont or New Hampshire during the long winter months, they can understand the context of a seemingly mundane world.

This may be how some people even view the current pandemic. Mundane and isolationist.

Diseases categorized as ‘pandemics’ used to travel very slowly, in older days. So slowly that it took decades and even hundreds of years for these to reach continental Europe from places like Asia. Although it has been documented that quarantines helped control disease spread in the Middle Ages, we as human beings cannot live very long in isolation. We do not travel solely on ships anymore, we are ‘airborne’ — and this is the issue of the current COVID-19 and related SARS family of diseases. COVID continues to get the reputation of being a ‘clotting disease‘ and unfortunately damages multiple organs. We keep losing people, the medical community is overburdened and fatigued.

One of my students recently lost his wife, mother of two, ages 13 and 9, may she rest in peace. Others we know had been hospitalized, some ‘survived’ but still report extreme exhaustion and having ‘fuzzy’ unclear thinking processes.

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) another American favorite wrote more than 800 poems found in her family home in Amherst, MA. Influenced by her context, a strict father, a mother who was crippled from a stroke.

It takes time. We want to believe that self-tests will shed light on the “Typhoid Mary” types of of our communities, the Spreaders and potential Carriers. We hope that having a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated will help humans move forward so it is not as in ‘the end of days’ or some version of the Apocalypse. We need to go back to the basics of trace data, inform close-nit groups, and train community health aides.

There is confusion, an anti-vax movement, and for sure no perfect solution. As with everything, we need to take action, to educate, and to empower. A recent March correspondence article “Covid-19, cults and the antivax-movement” in The Lancet, I am aligned with this: “Burgess and colleagues drew attention to how people who might have suffered disproportionate economic and health consequences from COVID-19 are now being asked to trust the same structures that failed to provide adequate resources and social protection during the pandemic…..However, Burgess and colleagues make a distinction between ‘people wholly opposed to vaccinations (anti-vaxxers) and…vaccine hesitancy.’

MUNDANE

War, Blood,

the tears of pain,

of victory, of power,

the story of greed.

Walk, journey,

the birth of life,

of growth, of courage,

the story of survival.

Hope, fear,

the light of truth,

of freedom, of serenity,

the story of peace.

(B. Kondilis, 1991)

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

We start with a few, and keep adding…. this is how preventive education starts. Individual is good but population-based even better. Meaning the “biggest bang for your buck.” No one knows it better than people trained by the CDC or similar entities. As it seems, it makes no difference if we were trained 20 years ago or 40 years ago. Whether it was the AIDS epidemic or the Covid Pandemic, increasing health literacy remains a consistent goal.

We are trained to give information, to work with teams and media (radio, TV, internet, magazine, newspaper, you name it), for any type of disease (chronic or infectious/ communicable). Mental health trained clinicians deal with loss, help people better understand their strength and resilience, to ‘have a chance’ and make the world a better place to live. We know there is mistrust, but we also know how important trust-building is to the patient-provider relationship. Healthcare professionals, allied health professionals, mental health professionals all bring their ‘arms’ to the “Round-Table” if there ever was a health communication ideal of ‘Camelot’….

Barbara Kondilis & MaryLee Behrens, lifelong health educators
during an online session with health psychology students