Lifespan publication this month!

It’s here!  A year plus later, coming out this month….  very grateful to be given the opportunity to write a chapter in this book that one can purchase both hardcover or through Amazon Kindle.  The book published this month is the “International Handbook of Health Literacy: Research Practice and Policy across the Life-Span” Edited by Orkan Okan, Ullrich Bauer, and Paulo Pinheiro, Bielefeld University, Diane Levin-Zamir, University of Haifa, and Kristine Sørensen, Global Health Literacy Academy. Book description (insert):   

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Health literacy addresses a range of social dimensions of health including knowledge, navigation, communication as well as individual and organizational skills for accessing, understanding, evaluating and using of information. Especially over the past decade, health literacy has become a major public health concern globally as an asset for promoting health, wellbeing and sustainable development.

This comprehensive handbook provides an invaluable overview of current international thinking about health literacy, highlighting cutting edge research, policy and practice in the eld. With a diverse team of contributors, the book addresses health literacy across the life-span and offers insights from different populations and settings. Providing a wide range of major findings, the book outlines current discourse in the field and examines necessary future dialogues and new perspectives.

My own contribution includes many lessons taught via a lifespan course I have been teaching in Developmental Psychology these last 14+ years….. the life cycle. Chapter 41: A lifespan perspective on health literacy: Ageing and end-of-life issues, may not be anything particularly new, but we can age better, we acknowledge that we are now living longer, and dealing with many issues and life ‘decisions’ that affect our own health as well as those around us. We are all interconnected. Special cultural nuances and traditions can help us heal when dealing with loss, and we cannot ignore caring for ourselves.

A few summer ‘reminders’ from past posts before we head on to our next summer excursion (coming soon):

  • Consuming alcohol please ‘mind the cup‘ as we are toasting to our success with this textbook publication we need to hydrate our body and our soul this summer!
  • Eating choices, even our favorite summer ice cream… we can eat wisely to cool down this summer. Teaching both young and older people certain ‘tricks’ can help them live longer and happier. Snoopy, the famous beagle from Charlie Brown, is one of my fondest characters, thus we can add ‘heart health‘ on top of our checklist!
  • Protecting our skin — I often hear people who are darker complexioned say they don’t ‘need’ to wear sunscreen, actually this is not so. We all need to wear at least an SPF of 15 because of the change of our global phenomena (heat waves, etc.), and particularly if one is visiting very hot, dry places.  Several we have written about in past posts include the Greek Cycladic island of Naxos.
    • cleansing skin properly is one thing, taking vitamins to help keep up the production of collagen and keeping our skin levels hydrated is another, thus why I love Truvivity by Nutrilite (see: hydrating system)!IMG_2173
    • On the other hand, I am always unimpressed by products that seem to ‘do nothing’ like this one that eventually wound up in my recycle bin…. better to eat rosemary or make your own ‘rosemary oil’ to put on your skin than pay for a product that is seemingly useless (despite the fact that I supported the local economy).
  • Being mentally and spiritually astute — this should be on top of our list if we truly aspire to reach the mind-body-spirit ideals. This includes helping our caregivers understand that ‘self-care’ is absolutely necessary and paying attention to the messages we give to other people…. written, oral, body language.
    • Try a bit of ‘coloring’ fun this summer to help you deal with any annoyances (careful because if you are a bit ‘obsessive compulsive’ you cannot get unglued from finishing your drawing… very addictive).  Anyone try any of these fun adult coloring books? I really liked this article on “The Muse” about the ‘21 Best Adult Coloring Books‘ especially the fact that these help us in essence relive some aspects of our childhood imagination and for sure we all need that!

Thus I dedicate this to all of you…. happy end-of-month fun.

Make sure you take care, be smart, and be safe!

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Coloring in one of the pages of “Colour me Mindful – Underwater” by Anastasia Catris (c) 2015 was a lot of fun to do.

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Strawberry Moon, Shortcake, and June

According to Native American tradition June was the perfect ripening time to pick strawberries by the full moonlight … since it’s also cooler in the evenings and less critters like bees, my guess is? The article by USA Today published last June 2018 suggests that the warm color of the moon as it is closer to the earth and the related folklore give the related “strawberry moon” reference.

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Full moon overlooks the cityscape

Buying my 1 kg. (about 2 lbs.) in-season June strawberries I was thinking about what desert to make  — despite the fact strawberries have one of the highest ratings of pesticide residue,  about 10 mins steeped in cold water with a tablespoon of lemon juice and a “pinch” of salt helps reduce this ‘bad for your health’ stuff according to experts —  In thinking along the healthier eating lines, we should try to reduce calories due to high sugar in most strawberry deserts. But how?  Then it comes to me…. as a kid I recall those “special occasions” with my aunt Dorothy who introduced me to so many “American” traditions including antique stores, the 4th of July Independence Day parade in the historic Marblehead, MA. complete with fireworks, barbecues, and yes, strawberry shortcake!

In the 1980s there was a greeting card that evolved into many cartoon characters who lived in “Strawberry Land” including friends Lemon Meringue and Blueberry Muffin (by the way I love those deserts too!). Apparently, this became popular again with a newer North American (Canadian – American) ownership and animated series in about 2010!  This desert is still an all-time classic. Growing into adulthood with all the pains and  needing to cut down on extra calories one can understand why it’s best to keep thoughts only on the cartoon’s “Berry Adventures” 😎🍓

So, I substituted the whipped cream with strained Greek yogurt and guess what? It is simply fabulous with that extra protein needed and less sugar calories. Yummy! Well,  I still like those strawberry daiquiris with my leftover strawberry sauce …maybe I’ll drink to that?! Cheers, and happy summer.

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Paper, “weight” I’m voting like a hamster

 

F9EEE044-8662-40C0-9C23-69342E8AE0CCHamsters are mainly nocturnal creatures that like to burrow in small places and live for cutting up paper and storing it as a way of creating a sleep cushion. This is Astroid our Syrian hamster…and his little rocket shaped home akin to Barbara Eden’s “I dream of Jeannie” bottle home. Our hamster gets plenty of exercise on his wheel and we even put him into a “hamster ball” for about 10 minutes twice a week for extra exercise ….after all animals naturally do what is best for them! But what about us? We often “spin our wheels” and get nowhere fast ….especially in the name of ‘progress.’

I had thought of it before I had to vote this year for the EU elections how ridiculously burdensome and outright confusing it is to vote in Greece. I better understand why the government can really be “hazardous” for our health — check out my ‘when systems don’t work’ post.  Speaking of ‘civic literacy’ as I pondered over the 42 different parties to choose from I realized

1) I didn’t know half of the parties running for office,  never mind unidentifiable logos and rebellious terminology such as “adarsia” (ανταρσία) was more often an option.

2) so much paper wasted —those poor landfills — and nothing is done electronically (yet),

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3) there was so much dirty tagging around the public school  grounds (the place I voted at) and even this silly “penis” series  …given it was a high school and students that age explore newfound  sexuality I guess we should not focus on the vandalism or call it “penis envy” (lol) ! EDC469DC-CDC0-4997-AD02-5A7890ACF5C7.jpegDo the municipalities and the school principals not understand about recycling? About teaching kids to “care” about their school grounds as well as each other ? Do I need to say more?! Why all the paper “weight”? Yet we “wait” too long to start building health literacy in our younger people?

I really liked the cover of the Quarterly magazine put out by the University of Athens ‘New Health’ (Νέα Υγεία) 84E66815-FEE4-4F0A-BE3B-0ACF042A1471so let’s turn a new page and focus on prevention like primary basic things to help kids build confidence and take better care of their bodies, and maybe rethink our waste for elections all for the good of health literacy shall we? Else we simply remain ‘in the dark.’

Flying lanterns & Safe Returns

Lanterns made of biodegradable material, big and small, yellow colored with more bold red and blue checkered patterns, floated to the sky by the dozens, accompanied by fireworks, on the Saturday of the Resurrection. Traditions such as these, as well as a simple lighting of candles are customary to Orthodox Christians celebrating Easter week in several towns and villages in Greece and other parts of Eastern Europe.

I was in awe of the spectacle in the town of Leonidio former municipality of southern Arcadia, Eastern Peloponnesus. A small town with a traditional “Tsakonika” language dialect, and modern traditions including rock climbing, Leonidio will also have a summer feast of the eggplant  (aubergine) in the summer “Melitzazz” festival with jazz music 🎼

Yes, there are many pagan traditions that have made it across to religious Christian traditions as a fellow blogger rightfully addresses (Aratta) and the above are a welcomed change adding value to our trip while helping the local economy.

However, some practices are more difficult to fathom at close range including fireworks and other “poppers” including shooting guns for “fun”. This includes a random bullet on Easter Sunday landing in an 8-year-old’s head who is now fighting for her life in the town of Thiva, and a cameraman who lost his life at 58 from a misfired firework in the town of Kalamata. Many towns every year have fireworks to bring in tourism but at what costs? And we as viewers need to keep our healthy distance to prevent injury.

Health literacy people, to prevent injury by safe practices! The US Consumer Product Safety Commission puts out some good guidelines  to be safe around fireworks (CPSC) particularly for young children who may be “curious” or sensation-seeking teens and adults who tinker with danger.

May Wreaths

On May 1st we make wreaths from the earth’s bounty!

Take a moment this May 1st to pick your flowers and dance around the May pole (May energy) or rethink labor “rights” traditionally celebrated as “Labour Day” by many countries, neither North America nor Australia (hmm!) , on the side of safety first and occupational health.

“Rotting” from the Inside…Notre Dame, healthy society choices

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The Griffin of Time

Things get old, people get old, some things are preventable or are they? Thus after reading the article in the Wall Street Journal about “rotting from the inside”  the recent devastating fire of Notre Dame Cathedral last week and many that followed including the backlash towards the millionaires who want to rebuild this historic monument it got me thinking of so many related issues of social equity, spirituality, and choices.

Then two fathers in different continents killing their children and then themselves in order to “punish” the wife or girlfriends. The terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka hotels and churches and the intention of harm to a group of people affiliated to a faith (namely Christianity), all akin to the martyrdom of the pre-Christian Roman times. Same story, different century. Schools destroyed in Palestinian settlements by Israel — backlash politics?

In the late 70s we had the band Bee Gees sing the ever popular “Staying Alive” and now we have the “3-Gs” — Globalization, gentrification, girl mutilation (female genital mutilation — no health benefits to girls or women just another act of violence). It’s amazing how power and control works. Check out the Duluth Model (Domestic Abuse Intervention Project) to better understanding these dynamics for continued efforts of change.

Seemingly we can try to protect ourselves but given the randomness of modern times it seems we might affect our own life choices part of the time. My griffin is a reminder of this factor and how precious it is. Thus we should do our best, and build our own and others health literacy, as healthy functioning societies depend on it. Whether via formal or informal  education, and cultural influence we need to give weight on special populations and women. Why? Because our children are happier and thriving when their primary caretaker, usually a mother, benefits too.

One major soccer (football) athlete in the Liverpool team, Mohamed Salah, originally from Egypt, recently stated that men’s attitudes in the Middle East need to change towards women, and give them more credit. Never mind the recent world trends on female infanticide….not good. Yes, women are not just here to procreate, all societies must understand the burdens on women to be caretakers, breadwinners, often with little or no support as well as lower wages.

Let’s keep with the bright side. I was happy to read that despite the church devastation in the Paris blaze, a group of bees managed to make it unscathed;  surprisingly a great number of employees benefit from the honey produced annually — 75 kilograms (165 pounds) to be exact! See full story by Huffington Post  here. And yes, we have a Queen Bee respected by and relied on by her workers for a beehive to thrive in nature. Take the hint people.  Just in time for thinking ahead to Mother’s Day May 12th.

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The Audacity of Hope…Public Health week

The U.S. celebrates initiatives that make people’s lives better during April 1 – 7th national public health week and April 7th is World Health day (celebrated since 1948)!  There are so many issues to ponder over and one to focus on is giving people hope for better communities with less crime, more positivity, better infrastructure, building health literacy and overall wellness.

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Keep areas clean

Before Barack Obama became the 44th U.S. President I read his book “The Audacity of Hope” and years before a book about the community project titled “Streets of Hope” reflecting the community reorganization of a downtrodden area in Boston, the Dudley Street Neighborhood initiative. It is vital to understand how to motivate people and what community organizing is about — sustained efforts long-term. Reframing everything for positive changes does not mean turning a blind eye, but rethinking community strengths and addressing weaknesses. Understanding this first-hand I am constantly checking in to past efforts started and understand what Prochaska and Diclemente did so much research on years ago, the Stages of Change, a great one to add to our tool kits.

Taking the streets of most parts of Athens one sees many historic areas falling apart, trash, many run-down neoclassical buildings and mainly dirty tagging and more trash everywhere. As I travel to various places, I take photos of people’s work in trying to beautify their neighborhoods, often doing it with their own money and supervision. Change starts here, it starts with us, but we need to also maintain these efforts.

We know from the Broken Windows Theory (criminology article by Wilson & Kelling, 1982) that once one person creates a problematic situation like breaking a window other people soon follow. This can extend to modern ‘trashing’ of cities like the images featured above.  One friend’s motivational speech reminded me about social modeling (Bandura, social psychologist, would be  joyous with this) as her quote rings in my ears “if they can, we can too!” Let’s move away from negative to positive changes, see ‘what works’ in other societies and adapt for our own benefit towards long-term community health. Thus the concept of eudemonia goes beyond traditional wellness to incorporate physical, mental, and spiritual health extending beyond our  ‘selves’ to the larger community and global initiatives for all.

We have the right to:

1) clean cities without trash everywhere (Kondo’s method of cleaning house applied here) and most buildings desecrated by vandals. Respect cities.

2) hope for fellow humans to respect themselves and others by caring and helping each other and their environments.  Getting into positions of power to do away with corrupt politicians or any world self-centered mongul, let’s tell them to “take a hike.”

3) invest in health and focus on prevention — efforts like those by the CDC Foundation are prime examples of innovation and high-impact programs. Whether it’s an effort to combat depression or one to increase awareness of the need for vaccinations, efforts like the recent MIT Hacking event prove worthy of collaborative and volunteer work.

4) build infrastructure towards these goals, and be the change you want!

5) promote personal skills and efforts that have the potential to go global. This includes leadership and public speaking from clubs such as Boys and Girls clubs, Scouts, Lions or Toastmasters International (Toastmasters Greece link), and other similar local efforts reflective of these.

Yes we do, and have the right to the ‘audacity’ of hope!

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Do clean up the trash people (a positive reminder, Athens)