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

The “forced” snow day

It’s snowing ❄️ in Greece

Today I choose “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven and I did not realize the cartoon Angry Birds had satirized “Ode to Snow” as there are many poems dedicated to the beautiful crystallized water. A friend sent me this image of the stones on her balcony which had formed a beautiful heart …. it’s a reminder I said of God’s love.

Epidemiologists are happy today because people have been forced to stay inside due to the snow ❄️ In warn climates people find it hard to stay indoors. Much to our distress we often find worse crowds on the street, “walking their dog”or loading up on toilet paper in the supermarket (the Purple Heart !) . Hearts go out to families in locations with power outages in cold, the homeless, and strays ….may you find warmth soon

Love ❤️ and virtual hugs 🤗

People do not seem to understand that getting a vaccine is not full proof. It will take TIME and maintaining some sense of physical distancing is continuing to be important (official wording see January Global Health Promotion Sage Publications here) as well as wearing your mask 😷.

Adults made snowmen/women for the first time ! Children found it hard to resist making snow angels and why not? They increase their physical activity, and joy for all, as it is the elixir to good health !

One last note 📝 we all need some snow literacy …I hear crazy demands on the government to clean front doors, people ask “why do we need salt?” “What are snow tires?” The list goes on ….meanwhile enjoy the winter wonderland for a few days. Be happy and sing your own “Ode to Snow” ⛄️ today !

February winter

Santa 🎅🏻 will keep physical distance and make it 2020!

It’s official according to the Irish ☘️ Parliament. Santa 🎅🎅🏽🎅🏿🎅🏻will be keeping safe this year too as the Irish ☘️ parliament has confirmed! He won’t be keeping “social distance” but physical distance for sure, and yes the gifts 🎁 will be there for all the good boys and girls. A sense of normalcy is always welcomed as well as human health.

Santa is coming ….

So all the little girls and boys (and their parents) can sleep 😴 with peace-of-mind and thoughts of gingerbread plum and candy canes in their heads! As imagination and dreams are important for mental health.
For a Merry Christmas 🎄🎁 to all!
Full story on Yahoo! Finance page.

22 days left !

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

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 !

Thinking about Palindrome Dates!

Today is a special day because as a “palindrome” date which apparently only come around every 900+ years! As a matter of fact 02/02/20 was another one. Some people believe in this so much they got married on this date, others sign special papers for better luck, let’s play the lottery! Superstition is an interesting topic in its own rite as some people may be affected even in their health outcomes so keep in mind Superstition & Health (post)

First sign of Spring….the bees 🐝 were happy too


February 22 is World Thinking Day for the Girl Scouts! They celebrate equity, diversity, and inclusion which are so important for young girls worldwide….and since some of us love Girl Scout cookies a reminder of those goodies too!

let’s think together for a better globe!

Companies are smart about marketing and send tailored messages and gifts like free coffee (thanks Starbucks). Happy birthday 🎂🎉 to us then! Note historical and popular figures: U.S. President George (Washington), Actress Drew (Barrymore), Outback wild animal handler Steve (Irwin), Founder of Toastmasters clubs Ralph Smedley.

One thing likely in common is public speaking, empathy, leadership, positive thinking and community building! Let’s continue these qualities and keep special traditions going.

Santa 🎅 is good for our health!

He’s a jolly old Good-fella you might say, and we love the myth of Santa Claus 🎅 !

Along the lines of Camelot and King Arthur legend, there are parts of the myth of “Santa Claus” (really St. Nicholas) based on truth, and it turns out a little bit of “fib” might be good on our own and children’s health.

One article indicates that “Santa mythology for children may be important for executive functions like attention skills, which provides parents with good evidence that they should not be discouraged from stimulating their children’s imagination.”

Marketing the Santa myth

On the other hand it is quite a money-making venture and Coca Cola figured it out years ago with their initial red and white clothing to match their brand name, starting in 1933 to be exact.

Well it turns out marketing the North Pole has also been good for countries like Finland who take marketing Santa Claus pretty seriously and has increased their local business with booming locales like Rovaniemi.

However the original Saint was a Greek Bishop living during Roman times in a place in Asia Minor (now Modern Turkey) in about 280 A.D. And as usual despite his good deeds was eventually persecuted. Even his remains were fought over as this National Geographic article by Brian Handwerk indicates.

Listen to those winter tales “Twas the Night Before Christmas…” with the Good company of family and friends keeping warm with healthy soup and drink, cheers!!

Water water everywhere so let’s preserve it to drink

Do you have the water running while you brush your teeth ? What about when you wash your dishes or your car? Every single product you have and need for your life contain water 💦 are you health literate about your local and global needs?
Do you keep up with the costs of fixing broken pipes and bad infrastructure (Physical or Communication) never mind the overuse of pesticides that run into our drinking water! Most governments are not even following the law for Safety Standards !

Dr. Angelina-Kallia Antoniou, European Environmental Law Expert

We should all be concerned about the quality and quantity of our water supplies in the world which includes the threats like bioterrorism and even the opportunities of therapy with water — there are entire Web pages dedicated to this (eg. Livpure). We learned about hydrotherapies like Ποσιθεραπεία (Water we drink), Πυλοθεραπεία (water with minerals we put on our bodies). We were informed about biodiversity and the fact that 30% of the land in Greece is part of Natura 2000. All this with water-related art, water filter display and networking opportunities at the 1st International Forum on Water held December 10th and 11th in Zappeion, near Syndagma square Athens.

Dr. Vantarakis speaks about the interplay of individual and community behaviors as well as the government importance of maintaining the public’s health !

Do you understand that disease is “cyclical” and waterborne diseases come and go ? Remember Cholera (think John Snow’s water pump) or experiences of gastroenteritis? Painful and deadly. We often have only a few days to “move” in protecting our public’s health epidemiologically but not enough time for lab results …while news spreads like wildfire through media! Sometimes accurately sometimes not, as Dr. Emmanuel Vantarakis, Professor of School of Medicine of Patras University indicates.

There was talk about dealing with public health disasters that reflect what we had posted on this blog a couple of years ago and no, you cannot just hide a problem of potential epidemic proportions where countries in the future won’t even have clean water to drink due to climate changes and geopolitical games.

Congratulations to the Woman of the Year Time magazine 2019, Greta Thunberg, and we love the magazine cover ! She’s keeping our heart and mind on protecting our environment and taking recycling and minimizing plastics seriously ! Our congratulations to local groups like this beach cleaning community who have been attempting to clean up beaches and be more civically engaged with young people. Let’s go global citizens you know who you are!

We can live without food for up to 14 days, without water for only a couple of days, and our earth 🌍 needs to be maintained else humans will be extinct like dinosaurs! Great initiatives …let’s keep talking water!

Checkers versus Fortnite: strategy against “gaming”

Kids nowadays get easily hooked with on-line gaming that seemingly never ends. Games like Fortnite are free “strategy” games that are supposed to be played by 12-year-olds or older, but parents around the globe are complaining that even 8-year-olds are showing addictive tendencies.  There are good articles with recommendations (see here) and this game does not display blood but we need to be on alert and continue discussion with our child or teen.

Cognitive psychology studies prove that the brain increases its “energy” to the point that the child behaves aggressively and even has trouble falling asleep. It’s like “on-line cocaine”, a plague of our modern times. Parents are tired, their digital literacy (one of the health literacies) may not include understanding how problems about addiction start, mainly due to ongoing immediate gratification.

Many games have beautiful graphics, I must admit, and kids learn the English language better as they interact with their “friends” locally and globally.  Fortnite added character dancing so players can mimic (this is a good thing) for exercise.  But the negative aspects of firearms and shooting (the sound alone creates stress on the brain), screen time and staying up late at night affects health negatively . There are countless studies now that contribute to growing evidence that we need to do something about it, and this is not unlike the growing obesity problem.

If you don’t teach your kid to control it early you can literally lose your child to the virtual world.  Parents and other caretakers need to get control back in strategic ways and keep it fun so it’s sustainable.

So after trying to find a zillion ways to get my pre-teen off this potential addiction — including sports, movies, art, social events — I realized the biggest issue is the lack of patience. Music and bedtime stories may work but all this changes as “tweens” move to teens.

The other day my hairdresser told me about her client a single mother who has “lost” her 15-year-old to the virtual world of gaming and of course Fortnite and other online games make millions at the expense of our children’s health — mental, physical, and even spiritual. Our kids would rather stay in, not eat or drink, and they are constantly adrenaline ridden (and learning swear words) which in itself is dangerous to their body’s organs and our social interactions. Anger management for teens anyone?

So I took the step …despite the odds of losing interest to the fast-paced game I challenged my kid to a game of checkers. Yep that 12th century game that we all played as kids did it, and we even involved grandma! So this was a bit frustrating to relearn but it involves slowing down and thinking of the next move. And it involved inter-generational fun.

Be creative and rethink how you can re-teach others what they need to remember …simple strategy and patience, we all need that.

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Beauty and the trash…

Communities can be absolutely beautiful if they are maintained and people live, eat, and drink, healthy! However it seems every year during high tourist season there are some communities that are ridden with trash or vandalism and it only gets worse …. photos are from the mainland and islands below.

These have a lot to do with “respect” (or not) to towns and cities! Those of us who respect architecture and understand the value of classical buildings, also understand a city can soon turn into a ghetto because random scribbles or tagging soon opens the community to crime, drugs etc. as proven time and time again. Never mind the rats and animals who then contribute to harmful diseases, thus we need to be continuously “on alert”!

In contrast, see how sea urchins flourish in these beautiful clean waters.796C7216-0A31-4F69-9AEF-89DD39C9F209

And how art and creative “writing” — in this case a mermaid painted on a small boat, and poetry on abandoned village walls — can add value to communities!  Think smart, and work on positive contributions today for a better tomorrow.