Valentine’s Day 2021 quarantines, lockdowns, economic destruction, the importance of “bubbles” to keep safe, people being afraid 😱 of their neighbor — “have they done a rapid test?”, “What if they’re positive?” We “run” to the florist as it’s one of the few open businesses (thankfully) to buy a flower 🌹 or a stuffed animal …this year those “eyes” got me 💕 as well as that nice morning surprise of cake 🧁 heart-shaped fruit 🍎
Catching your breath under the 3 layer mask, lack of oxygen likely affecting our brain, for the “nth” time a trip to the supermarket. This time, to buy extra rice and mushrooms for the risotto, a bit of chocolate 🍫 for the marketed occasion, supplies for a celebratory glass of red wine 🍷 for those flavonoids — good for the adult heart. Speaking of which ….this year one bakery (Veneti) had a great Valentine’s bread 🍞 idea in the shape of a heart. St. Valentine was Roman Catholic of Italian decent — his relics are dispersed and displayed around the world (Rome, Italy 🇮🇹 and Dublin, Ireland 🇮🇪) for those “seeking” love 💗 with one relic buried on the island of Lesvos (Lesbos) Greece 🇬🇷. This island has been in the news quite a bit these last years due to the Mediterranean migration crisis with local populations opening their hearts but also suffering immense pressure and economic disasters of their own. “Let them have bread” might be a phrase that comes to mind here.
The Purple Heart 💜 is a U.S. military decoration given to those courageous wounded soldiers, or those killed in battle. Today, we dedicate thanks 🙏 to those workers who help us daily, who put up with customer rudeness, stock the shelves and risk their own health are exhausted and stressed, ‘forgotten key workers‘ — working in supermarkets, factories, pharmacies, flower shops, street cleaners, garbage collectors, to name a few …. so many songs that could be dedicated here. Today it’s Sting “The Shape of My Heart” 💗❤️
Dolly Parton, is a force of positive energy and humour. She once said “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.” Last year, several posts were written about rainbows 🌈 as we sometimes are burdened by over-thinking or over-working. Some “drown” from all the rain 🌧 of exhaustion and negativity. However, we need to remember our umbrella ☔️ of health literacy. Self-talk, self-care, social support and transformation of our surroundings. There is always a way…. to untwist your thinking 🤔 change your path, get the support to make it through… Even the little fun-loving grasshopper was “taken in” by the hardworking ants 🐜 he made fun of if you remember the one from Aesop’s fables.
One of my good friends “took in” a baby turtle 🐢 she almost ran over on the road. Asian cultures say turtles are good luck. He/she now lives near her plants 🪴 next to her tree 🌲 which she has also nurtured since it’s growth/birth. Caring people nurture growth in all of us. My hope is for you to be as lucky to have some good people in your life like this. People who can help you with the “shelter” of sharing a cup of tea or a bowl of soup, take a walk with, and give you a pep talk. Like her turtle we all need a little protection once in a while. Particularly in winter months, times when real or experienced mental “darkness” may attempt to take over. Do something for your physical, mental, and spiritual life —don’t forget the light — one lucky turtle !
Add color to your life with good words, deeds, changes, think of transformers. More color to your life in the form of plants can increase your oxygen levels helping any home in bleak winter months be happier and healthier ….and maybe a good bowl of soup 🥣 akin to the series “Chicken Soup for the Soul”!
Many plant species have “migrated” from international sea travel and it turns out that the well-known Xmas plant poinsettia (in Greek called Αλεξανδρινό) has come from parts of South America. Certain species can grow several meters high and I’ve seen white, red, pink versions in many places. What a great idea to add to your home 🏡.
Why not keep those leftover plants 🪴? Add some pressed flowers 🌸 in your journal pages that you can find years later to remind you and reflect fondly on those beloved memories? Many young people don’t keep hard cover journals anymore, but I say bring it back… there is proof that writing has a specific connection to your neurological system as some claim that by changing some writing you can even affect behaviors (anger and disorganization for example). Remember to share new and old books — Let them have books 📚 and cheesecake! 📚
“These are a few of my favourite things …and then I don’t feel so bad …” Sing 🎶 it Julie! She “transformed” the von Trapp family in the Sound of Music 🎼 movie! The real story about the Austrian family may surprise you (real Trapp family) 😲
There are many different families — singles, couples, big and small. Eating right and making it easy, while not over-worrying about “proper nutrition” is a constant concern I hear. The lockdown has helped some people “learn” more and discover hidden talents, while others are struggling with their own melancholic tendencies or even “Zoom fatigue” (I’m sure this will be added in a future Diagnostic manual!) . This post is about food 🥘 mix-and-match ideas and tips, with some traditional recipe ideas!
Start off thinking slow cooking …. and healthy “fast” foods going back to ancient times. Anyone see the recent post on the Ancient Pompeii food stand? Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus’ noted simple healthy combinations leading to the “basis” of modern diets with his writings about Mediterranean food, herbs and cooking. Do you know why bitter Oregano is added to Greek salad? It has antiseptic qualities and wards off bacteria which get worse in the hot 🥵 Mediterranean sun 🌞.
If one is lucky to come from a family whose roots are based in gardening, farming, and Mediterranean cooking — one of the healthiest diets in the world — it adds to one’s “food literacy” an important part of health literacy, increasing the value of seasonal foods\eating. This all might seem easy, but it’s not to everyone. In times of financial imbalance, food scarcity, disinterest, or lacking access (e.g. urban poor neighborhoods complain about food “deserts” lacking produce or markets); thus, challenges will ensue. However we live in the digital age and we can learn. Current efforts of sustainable urban gardens and food collaboratives contribute positively globally !
There are always things to learn and share. Asking amazing cooks and “superwomen” (or men) helps one gather excellent recipes and ideas. Remember, it’s important to have the ‘rainbow colors’ fruits (fresh or dried) and vegetables (fresh or frozen) in our daily diets as much as we can. Eat mindfully … 🧡 checkout some tips for various physical conditions by an amazing doctor, triathlete and longtime friend ChefMD Kathy💙
Here are some images of recent favorites 🏡 from quince with pork and salad, bean soup, rice with avocado and shrimp, mozzarella tomato with fresh (or dried) basil, traditional “trahana” and Covid immunity building supplements (vitamins and teas) with some room for a cinnamon-apple 🍎 tart…. and yes cinnamon is great to help us lose weight and ‘heat’ the system in the winter months!
One has to “think ahead” to pass on their “skills” to future generations especially help teens and young adults find a “purpose” and build life skills. There are fabulous food shows, we like Akis’ food lab. We also encourage young people to learn about sustainability and such things as urban gardens are great! During winter months, we need to give ourselves an OK ✅ to eat more comfort foods and not over stress about calories. Sparingly 1 Wine 🍷 or 🍺 1 glass is fine for adults, but we aware of extra calories and of course we never drink and drive (think designated driver!).
NOTE 📝 We are not nutritionists here! No need for you to be wealthy to afford food “supplies”, just food smart. If you’re told you’re a great cook and meal host, share your knowledge!Sharing is indeed caring.
Having worked over five years with people who have diabetes, some work with anorexia and obesity recovery from eating disorders, being in tune with the “science” of diets and food resources, having family working in eating establishments (from restaurants to schools), and experiencing the lockdown — including sometimes working and eating too late, meeting and cooking with a ‘master chef’ years ago, many things “rubbed off.” What works and what doesn’t, reality of time and money, cultural issues (e.g. no lard for me despite having had some good fried chicken in the southern U.S.!). Here are a few good tips:
❤️ 6-8 glasses of water 💧 daily including tea (morning or midday) or 1 cup black coffee — with an extra glass of water, are a great way to retain your necessary body fluids. Summer months +2-3 glasses and more fruit!
❤️ Always eat breakfast, be a good role model to your children. Your body is like a 🚗 car, it cannot run on “fumes” (water and coffee are nice but EAT some protein!). If your kids like the sugary cereals mix all up with bran or cornflakes, add some fresh or dried fruit inside or on the side — you’ll feel better about it, and in the long-run they will too.
❤️ The Idaho plate http://platemethod.com/method is easy to “visualize”— think half your plate of veggies (keep olive oil and lemon 🍋 nearby as it’s better than high calorie sweet sauces) use during lunch and dinner, you’re ahead of the “keeping healthy” game!
❤️ Learn about family food traditions — it’s ok to binge on the heavier calorie ones in the winter just take an extra walk (some smart phones even tell you how many steps you’ve done — aim between 8-10,000 steps daily). This year I learned about curing olives. We made some good meals like quince with pork chops; chestnuts 🌰 with walnuts and raisins stuffed in small to medium-sized turkey; a bean soup combination for Fall-Winter. Did you know that eating about six olives is equivalent to a small piece of meat for protein? 🧑🍳 A recent Epicurious food post had wonderful Dutch oven recipes, which one can easily use crock pots as well ….slow, easy, good for you, and your family, and of course delicious.
Despite mom’s chronic arthritis she still makes her traditional and awesome Christmas-New Year aromatic orange, cinnamon, cloves in fried dough recipe “tiganides” or “lalaggia” (they’re made in 2-3 different ways depending what part of the Southern Peloponnese) are a favorite to eat warm, plain or with aged cheese, as a breakfast alternative 😋 … families loved this during cold January. More traditional holiday foods are pictured in this article by Protothema.
❤️ Healthy snacks including protein shakes or bars between meals (XS bars and Body Key by Nutrilite / Amway are some favorites) for busy people, a small piece of dark chocolate every other day as a pick-me-up, accompanied with black coffee/espresso (kids need more calories so don’t be afraid of giving cookies) they also love apple 🍎 or peach 🍑 pie!
I’d like to do an entire post on quince — it has a tangy flavor (wear gloves 🧤 when cutting up because it colors the skin) and is great with regular potatoes and meats like chicken or pork, oven-baked. It’s also amazing as a sweet preserve; eat plain or w/ strained yogurt. It’s high on selenium and kids like it too!
❤️ Keep to a planned mealtime schedule as much as possible — lunch between 1-2 pm and dinner about 7 hours later (with a snack in between) is ok. There is a lot of talk lately about “metabolic types” and fasting periods. Note 📝 if you eat a bigger lunch, eat LESS for dinner. Dinner before 8(ish) is best. It’s simple, but not obvious. Think smart prep, some extra meals can be kept frozen, pre-cut salad kept in Tupperware-type containers (that can last up to a week!). Active kids need more snacks so keep yogurt, protein bars/shakes, and fresh or dried fruit close at hand!
❤️ Aspire to an Eat, Pray, Love philosophy as our times make things difficult and it is vitally important to keep the faith in times of uncertainty. This means appreciating what you have, mindful eating, forgiving and loving those dear to you, lending a hand to a neighbor and your community (via donations or in-kind goods). Do what you can, you will feel better in the end! And yes, when you are creative and DO more, especially good cooking and baking you become stronger and more resilient to our difficult times. Remember it is not just about YOU, it is about all of us, big and small, all creatures, a new philosophy for a healthier life.
“So many things are possible, just as long as you don’t know they are impossible.”
This is pretty much the ‘worst case’ scenario of any similar disease seen. Not a simple ‘flu’ my friends and taking precautions (wearing a mask, physical distancing, building our immunity) is a “must do.” Take a quick read. Kaiser Science.
We are turning the “chapters” of our life pages, renewal and moving ahead. Smile it’s a new year 2021 — 365 new days for ideas and renewed hope and life chances!
One of the best “calendars” I have received and a great message “Smile” 😊 try new things and develop gratitude …. what 3 new things will you try? I’ve outlined a few ideas 💡 ….
Enrol in online classes with 365 quotes by Persian poet Rumi? OR some belly dance classes to shed pounds\kilos? There are many courses like DailyOm or sites like MindValley that are certainly interesting!
Clean house, clean out old habits, particularly those bad ones that affect your health (body, mind, spirit), as well as your community’s well-being. (Respect your own body and build immunity, think about your ‘cave’ be less selfish, respect others & refresh cities).
Hot beverages, home cooking, turning inward, online burnout, family matters. This is what many people described as key themes from this year’s holidays. Perhaps a slowing down is what that “little bugger” Covid intended, for sure we still have much to learn.
Many of us want to look ahead to a brighter year, thinking of New Year’s resolutions…cook more, quality time with family and friends, reading, music, art, inner work…and yes more hot chocolate and the Eat, Pray, Love philosophy. And, a recent gifted book I’m reading by Haemin Sunim, The Things You can See Only When you Slow Down (c) 2012. One thing is for sure it’s great to make comfort food. The leftover candy canes this year went into some fabulous chewy, coconut oil based brownies ! Yummy 😋
We have responsibility to ourselves and our communities in slowing down the transmission of all communicable disease 🦠 so we can give our health professionals and healthcare facilities a “break.” This WHO social marketing campaign makes it clear. Burnout and risk are also clear.
We are amidst a global pandemic. The latest stats show us that there is a big Pharma “war” for the most COVID vaccines as seen by this very interesting site called “Visual Capitalist” (global maps vaccines ), and of course the gaming industry gains (much to the dismay of parents) , and the “Top 20 visuals from 2020” — missing some additional losses (actors Sean Connery  Kirk Douglas [Spartacus], David Prose [Darth Vader], Kelly Preston [Travolta’s spouse] & Nick Cordero [A Bronx Tale] , soccer player Diego Maradona, basketball player Kobe Bryant, rockstar Eddie Van Halen, country singer Kenny Rogers and comedian-singer Little Richard, Maestro Ennio Morricone, to name a few in tribute.😕😢 some of whom had COVID related complications.
No, it’s not just “another flu” …it’s likely as complicated as HIV-AIDS once was. It’s also fast forwarding us to what people call “futurism” and there is certainly a lot of mistrust in governments, the global “network” of economic and media gurus… full conspiracy theories. My friend’s card reminder should help all of us cognitively reshift …..
When life gives you lemons 🍋 ….make lemonade! Indeed
Winter Solstice, the old and the new. The morning of December 13th, one could enjoy the Swedish site of the “light” festivities for Santa Lucia. Jewish friends celebrate Chanukah 🕎 with the lighting of seven candles and the 12 days before Christmas we can start with truly listening to the “Twelve days of Christmas” (c. 1780) song 🎵 to the mindset of giving.
Pull out your Farmer’s Almanac. This year, winter solstice happens on Monday, December 21, 2020. The word solstice comes from Latin sol “sun” and sistere “to stand still” implying that the sun’s path across the sky will stand still. This is the astronomical first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day of the year. Turns out our ancestors were brilliant about using special stone techniques to track the seasons including Stonehenge (England) and Macchu Picchu (Peru) to name a few, and several calendars merged from pagan to Christian to allow for some festivities in winter.
Even the crescent moon 🌙 found in many Muslim countries is based on astronomical and mythical symbols pre-Islam of the moon goddess transformed later into religious symbolism. Specifically for West Asian peoples since pre-Islamic times, it was associated with the worship of the Moon Goddess, who was given the names Ishtar, Astarte, Alilat, or Mylitta, while some eve associate it with the Greek goddess Aphrodite (Venus).
Perhaps we could be inspired about the moon and stars from Emma Shapplin’s Spente le Stelle or explore the more interconnected cultural histories. This year on Dec. 21st we expect to see a “Christmas star” whereby the planets Jupiter and Saturn will be very close to each other. Supposedly, this bright phenomenon has not been seen since 800 years ago (story Cambridge Independent). The year some people call the “worst ever” actually has this special astronomical surprise… 🪐💫
If you’ve been privileged to explore the magnificent Aurora Northern or Southern Lights, or partake in Shamanistic drumming to “heal the soul of unhealthy spirits”, there is an aspect of ecological balance that many traditions continue from pagan times onward. Wise people understand these rituals highlight the importance of both self-care and community care as needed to thrive and human survival.
Each day is a gift if you seek to take care, recognising healthy and unhealthy habits, and access appropriate care — all part of building individual and community health literacy.
Feeling a bit “down” are you? The word “melancholia” [root Greek words melanin (μελανίνη) and choli (χολή), the former if lacking makes the person feel acutely sad/ depressive, more “choleric” or bad-tempered and moody. Many crave carbohydrates, generally more fatty foods which some are necessary for “making it through” the winter cold. These real-body experiences add up for many in the form of body fat and cellulite and some experience this annually as S.A.D.D. (Fall-winter or even Spring). More on dealing with this in a future post!
Last Spring the post on “the importance of light” highlighted the need for vitamin D, increasing melatonin function for better mental and physical health, as well as the spiritual “good” which holistic approaches aspire to be. If you’re working with a coach or therapist hopefully they are attune to these issues giving you the proper guidance you need.
Add more hot drinks in “heating” your system, healthy foods in your diet to help increase the much needed melanin-melatonin hormone levels; vitamin B complex for better functioning of muscle and cardiac system, neurological building brain food (top foods include: walnuts, chestnuts, asparagus, oatmeal, pineapple, cherries, oatmeal, brown rice to name a few. For kids, in the evening try adding a potassium rich banana with milk making for a great smoothie to help them fall asleep 😴 faster.
Need to lose some weight? Increase your protein and trick your metabolism. Why not add more mushrooms to salads or rice dishes? check out fellow blogger all about mushrooms 🍄 — makes one realize that nature indeed provides all we need if we “seek it” out. I
Consider buying gifts for healthier eating this holiday lockdown season and whatever you do, keep seeking the light in the darkness! Paulo Coelho author of the “Goodread book” Warrior of the Light would be proud.
Deliver healthy gift options to friends this year!
Nostalgia over melancholia (be nostalgic but fight off being melancholic 😔) you can do it! The newest trend is 21 days of daily meditation — affirmations and guided versions are great 👍 — to help one change their subconscious mindset. It works.
As a kid we watched a lot of common Christmas movies, like Scrooge which taught us not to hoard wealth, the Little Donkey or Rudolph about how differences make us unique. Somehow Coca Cola red and white colors has now overtaken any idea of the “giving” Saint Nicholas.
Saint Nick 🎅🏻 I hear is taking precautions this year as the word spreads. Someone sent me this image, a welcome reminder of capitalism at best 😆 ….
Currently, “Happy Holidays” is the politically correct terminology for the new world order but nevertheless it’s the little things that feed our subconscious that make this season great. The other day my good friends surprised me with a beautiful plant 🪴 for celebrating my Saints day, how special that felt. Yes 👍
Each item we choose to display may remind us of a trip, a friend, an accomplishment — like our last year’s making a wooden “Rudolph” with the help of Lions Club & Black and Decker (corporate social responsibility as all money made went to local charities).
Let’s be “rebellious” and stop destroying the little things that give us hope and positivity — even in our part of the world where Dec. 6th marked a tragic event — a big mistake — by one police officer who accidentally took the life of a teen boy who was with his friends bad mouthing the local cops the “ACAB” mentality (not a race issue but definitely a local community gone amuck), 12 years later the trauma keeps being politicised — this community needs healing not more trouble! It is time to refuse focusing attention on the anarchy of youth who resort to burning, looting, destroying our cities — no more PR by media (where is their responsibility not to focus on this?) Can we re-shift our thinking? Yes “Imagine” with the Swoosh effect and also neurolinguistic NLP techniques !
‘Tis the season then! Perhaps you can:
drop off a gift 🎁 to someone not expecting it like a “care package” of goodies, a plant, or send flowers 💐
make some soup or shovel the snow for your elderly neighbor without them asking (or paying for ….social security checks are low now, and people are suffering enough)
send cards with a note 📝 about your news….so much nicer than email which can be “deleted” and forgotten more easily. Thanks 🙏 dear ones who still do this!
say “hello” or a nice compliment ….it’s amazing what it does!
revamp or redecorate a family heirloom to keep fond memories and share stories
We miss being able to give, and of course we should be open to receiving. Several years ago students moved to give hope to others with programs like “Make-a-Wish” foundation. What comes around goes around, and specifically giving and volunteering also contributes strongly to our own happiness and well-being. Thus, add this to your “health literacy” matrix.
A recent YouTube video was circulating pre-Covid days by GENTRI that took the “Little Drummer Boy” to a new level giving meaning for children fighting cancer….. 💕🙏
15 years ago a girl had a dream of bringing a club to oral history roots. A club that started in the “new world” with techniques familiar to the “old world” of Athens Greece, but with more emphasis on evaluating, self improvement as well as community outreach. Thus, the first Toastmasters club of what would eventually be a part of Toastmasters Greece was started. It’s not just about “toasting” (though that gets better in time too) it’s about learning to “R.I.S.E.” above personal hardships and move to gaining strengths and leadership skills in growing beyond our comfort zone. The virtual meetings in lockdown modes are a pleasant 2 hour alternative, twice every month.
R — Respect
I — Integrity
S — Service
E — Excellence
The man who started the clubs in 1925 Ralph Smedley was a dreamer too, to make contributions for the young men of the then YMCA. We need to continue efforts for our young people today. They cannot learn through a screen alone. Toastmasters Youth Leadership is one of those examples as well as Speechcraft for teaching groups the gift of public speaking and positivity. In Covid quarantines we understand that human touch and human communication are necessary for our own survival.
“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” ― Abraham Lincoln
With the internet at your fingertips it’s worth a try to join a club as a guest ! Look up Toastmasters International and find a club near you today — with over 16,000 clubs in 145 countries (and counting), they must be doing something right!
”We learn best in moments of enjoyment”
Ralph Smedley (1878-1965), Founder of Toastmasters
I recently went to a “closed” Fall fashion show with a handful of people wearing our masks for a local fundraiser for poor families. It was also an opportunity for the designer to sell some of her work and for us in our way to support the art\design workers.
After our brief discussion, I realized how hard it is for both designers and fashion models to be making money during lockdowns and the whole coronavirus craziness ….. I can only imagine from what friends tell me and write about is happening in Milano, Italy and in New York City — complete tragedy for this industry .
Despite the fact of being sensitive to animal rights, by unneeded abuse, I can respect science and respect historical traditions that relate to the use of mink for keeping warm, particularly in those very cold northern climates. Notice — keep warm — because truth be told the use of artificial fur is even worse in terms of air toxins from production factories. What many people do not know is that the dander left over from this plastic stuff (really what fake fur is) can lead to allergies and more serious pulmonary conditions due to breathing in all that crap…does not make “faux fur” so great does it? But we love those animal prints as if an archetypal need for the “hunt” (fashionistas beware).
After a long discussion with the designer whose family history of using leather and mink, I respected what she said truly tried to listen, my own biases aside. Active and empathetic listening is a skill, while understanding peoples “needs” and how to work with them, is yet something else. She was saying that the newest designs gravitate towards more leather and less mink, but stated that even though the latter is on a downward spiral of popularity, mink coats are still considered a “status symbol.” Interesting. Personally, I wouldn’t attack someone by throwing red paint on their coat or belittling them — done by animal activists. However, I would discuss with fur owners why they need so many different coats (often in every color)? 🧐 Good leather wears better, and shows like Sex in the Citywhich aired their last episode in 2004 made Italian leather shoes ever so popular (and yes, there were fur coats). So why should everyone feel guilty about preferring leather shoes and bags over plastic or ‘vegetable’ shoes (completely uncomfortable and they fall apart easily so then you have to buy more shoes….. counter productive) — one’s excess “need” to buy so many yet another story. Some of us had grandparents and distant relatives who lived off the land, hunting game (mainly rabbits, ducks, deer) for food for their family. We need to respect that. How, and why? In essence all of the animal is used for both food and shelter, home furniture, and even fashion, since caveman days. Little seems changed there. However, the over-consumerism in our days, is another story.
Back to those cute little furry ferret-family minks. The recent coronavirus outbreak 😷 story in the Netherlands forcing 100 Dutch farms to shut down, as the government is killing (culling) millions — because the workers didn’t wear protective gear (?!) and now those cute little fur balls have our illness …. humans destroy again! However this issue of the “Killing of the mink industry” has been happening since last June (see story) since due to lock-downs most people no longer buy this ‘luxury’ item. Perhaps mink farms in Northern Greece will follow suit, as positive Covid cases and fear of more keep spreading. Those poor things now suffer from pulmonary problems due to coronavirus…. so they say? Would it be an opportunity to try those new vaccines? Mink news and ethics? Hmmm.