The princes of darkness

They are handsome, debonair, can talk you to the moon 🌝 and back again…but as with that, some dark sides of the moon we cannot see clearly until it’s too late. I cannot say how many times I’ve heard this. The experience of the ‘blame game’ where partners take no responsibility, some using their physical or economic strength (if their partner/wife is raising the children and do not work) as male privilege. Worse, the intentionality of a crime where many wives and mothers, girlfriends, are killed as a “result” of their wanting to leave the relationship — perhaps with building pressure from job loss or stress of COVID, who knows? Fits of narcissistic rage, long-standing anger builds to the point of abuse and death. This borderline personality of “I love you but I hate you” is alive and well within all levels of society. There are many sites we can refer to better understand what the POWER & CONTROL issues are and in order to help our friends, neighbors, fellow citizens become more aware of anger management, domestic abuse, and issues of equality. The best model by far is the ‘Duluth Model’ developed in Minnesota in the 1980s as it is still used and modified by many counselors, organizations, and advocacy groups today.

The recent Greek murder case of the 20-year-old Caroline Crouch, beautiful and talented, experienced kickboxer, a mother of an 11-month-old infant, who wanted “out” from a relationship with her husband of almost twice her age, is now dead. Murdered by her husband Babis Anagnostopoulos, who recently confessed …. a national shocker for the country and now the world, for what seemed a ‘perfect crime’…. her personal data watch helped crack the case. It brought me back memories of an older crime from the 1990s in Boston, Mass, a story which also made national headlines with 3rd party accusations — another Carol, and her husband Charles Stuart. She was very pregnant, family issues no one was aware of, and her husband became greedy. In a scene between Rey and Ben (a.k.a. Kylo Ren), the intensity between the characters and being ‘put down’ to feel emotionally vulnerable ….the “Join Me” scene….it is subtle, but the moment of weakness is evident.

The intense ‘Join Me’ scene between Ben (Kylo Ren) and Rey (Star Wars The Last Jedi)

Confronting fear and looking in to the dark side to find the “ray” of light was an intentional part of Star Wars. An enjoyable post by Digital Spy shows how Rey helps Ben (Kylo Ren) ‘escape’ from the dark side. Indeed, this is what many women do, as natural caretakers, to help or ‘save’ partners in the name of love. We all need to be in constant check ourselves of our behavior and choices. But as the story made horror film of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde goes, it may be our chemicals and our becoming possessed from this darker side that leads to unexplicable reactions.

Many of these “princes” are indeed fabulous in the beginning of relationships…. until the children come and/or the stress builds …. a large falling out can happen to many who experience the stress of a new baby the first couple of years. For men who may not comprehend that a wife /mother has her priorities on her baby/young child until the balance is resumed, can experience intense emotional conflict. Many of us have been there….with this experience of the “fairytale gone bad” due to longstanding narcissism, borderline features, some traumas (untreated), all too familiar. It does not matter who you are, but it seems that if you are younger, alone or isolated, these ‘characters’ can take this as part of an advantage….

Patterns of behavior can start young … some relate to developmental immaturity, others carry throughout life.

During one of my graduate public health classes years ago, we had created an intervention for violence prevention emphasizing how younger relationships may sometimes end up in dating violence — examples of “power” struggles and use of force (physical, sexual, psychological) because of fear of loss and intense jealousy (i.e. breakup) which can end in a horrible situation, even death.

  • Communication skills and empathy building, anger management (building EQ) are critical.
  • Any intervention should include both the perpetrators and the victims. As one teacher friend did by building a communication “card” for her students to deal with bullying, we all need one through life!
  • Seek counseling and spiritual guidance.
  • Share your stories so that others can learn from them.

Personality is complex, aspects build over time, the side that past psychoanalyst Carl Jung referred to as our dark side is sometimes unknown fully even to us! Spiritualists call this evil.  I recall this pictured vividly in an older film movie “The Ghost” as life circumstances and jealousy lead to extreme actions. The shadow, the anima, the animus, and the Self – as Jung wrote has both a light and a dark aspect… modern research indicates that we CAN help others control these ‘inner demons’ with meditation, prayer, and cognitive restructuring, NLP (or whatever works for them). Of course meditation helps with depression — longstanding depression or intense anger issues, one should always check with a professional! Many Bible verses call for protection, and can be found on-line. If this is something one wishes to seek out, then practice reading these daily!

Is Pinnochio just a childhood story ?

The “dark triad” of personality, such as the one that may be indicated in personal or workplace relationships, is one that develops over time. It is a combination of narcissism, sociopathy and Machiavellian traits. Wikipedia lists the “Prince of darkness” as being either Satan (in the Biblical sense) or Machiavelli the statesman historical figure of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 -1527) whose cunning political prowess kept him in power at the helm. You might think his childhood hero was Pinocchio, an innocent and manipulated wooden puppet who eventually developed remorse for his actions….not sure about Niccolo! He wrote the infamous book, The Prince, which some say he was writing about himself, while others think was about what he witnessed around him. It’s worth a read, as we all need to keep these dark sides “in check” as when we allow the ‘takeover’ we can destroy our own life as well as that of others….

If you are READING this, and you recognize some of the emotional instability patterns in several relationships (frequent break-ups, rage at others especially if they ‘don’t pay attention to you’, emotional up and downs) it will benefit you to seek professional help.

Austen Lennon, M.D. has a newer book (2018), a ‘must buy’ for those who want to help people with borderline personality (see GoodReads here). Several sites refer to POWER & CONTROL issues, intending to help our friends, neighbors, fellow citizens become more aware of domestic abuse and issues of equality. I liked this site developed both in Canada and in the U.S. to Reach Out and ‘help a friend’ (webpage). The video below is a ‘taste’ of some of the issues of an emotionally abusive relationship (Duluth Center). You can try to kiss the toad, as that childhood story goes, but they might be one of these very ‘dark’ princes…. so keep your eyes on your inner mirror.

The early bird … and the porcupine

It is morning 8 a.m. first time at the beachside for that enjoyable cappuccino — yep! glad that your nose still smells coffee as it’s a sign you don’t have Covid. There they were the chirping happy wrens out for their morning snack. There is a great article on how to attract wrens to your backyard, what about to a favorite outdoor cafe ?

I always tell my son “the early bird gets the worm”… and that’s how it is. You see it in nature… there is competition and resources may be few to scarce. We talk about resources in public health as we see transient populations and of course fear of the unknown or coping during hard times. Animals compete and adapt all the time to change, why are we different? Preventing disease but accessing care early on makes a world of difference and part of global health literacy! As far as getting your sense of smell back ….that too (see DW article).

The early bird may get the worm , in this case it was a chip (potato that is!)

It was the first time in almost a year that I went to the beachside cafe (featured here at Schoinia’s Bay in Marathon, Greece, the original marathon that is). I had time to think 🤔 about what time I’ve wasted or gained the last two years, resources lost or gained, my own family’s marathon . Spring fever and our own need to socialize, to “belong” and also to feel loved 🥰. This isolation has caused many to feel hopeless and the need to have faith and patience is great. Many feel they’ve lost opportunities, or is it time to rework new ones?

For some, this isolating leads to more “prickly” feelings towards others as people seem antisocial, recently in the U.S. we hear more daily crimes – killings seemingly getting worse. This afternoon in my 15-minutes walk I came face-to-face with a little rodent on the road, a little porcupine. According to Native American folklore (Source) In most Native American tribes, the porcupine is a relatively minor animal spirit, most often associated with self-defense and cautiousness (Covid for sure has fostered this in many of us).

Some Southwestern tribes, such as the Hopi, porcupines are seen as a symbol of humility and modesty, for others, porcupines considered lucky animals. Supposedly, a hunter who spotted a porcupine was sure to have a good day hunting. It is a call then to begin the “hunt” for what one needs…

Porcupines! teach us to be humble, our self-defense in a world of seeming insecurity? or a sign that the “hunt”will be a lucky one?

They deserve the Purple Heart 💜 today

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” 💗❤️

Smile 😊 it’s a NEW Year!

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 💡 ….

Let’s shed light on things we’ve neglected
  1. 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!
  2. 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).
  3. The calendar 📅 of happiness ? Check out this link (actionforhappiness).
Begin 2021 with new ideas & new energy
Some guided meditations are useful instead of only passive breathing, tap into your active mind !

Home for the holidays

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 [007] 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

….and of course some good tea!

How do you paint your “cave”?

The last few weeks in one of my S.A.D. “Moments” I asked myself how did people make it during prehistoric times, clans and nomads living in caves? Yes, it was the exercise of the hunt that raised those endorphins keeping them fit and slim. Thinking survival of the fittest (resourceful, smart, etc.) through current evolution as some people fear while some welcome technology and futurism. We can learn a lot about historical events from Google, like this post about the anniversary of finding the Chevaut Cave (Le Grotte Cheveaut) in Southern France 🇫🇷 discovered December 1994. It prompted me to read further.

This over 36,000 year old cave is considered one of greater importance that it’s listed in world heritage UNESCO sites. Came across this presentation enhancing life-long learning — this time history and archaeology. How cool it is to hear world renowned archaeologists help us “travel through time” a true opportunity online. These are the “paints” of our modern way of learning and living. We are no longer cave men are we?!

Ask an Archaeologist episode

Do think about what you can add to your home or office to help brighten your mood? It doesn’t mean a lot of money. A poster, cleaning up the piles of papers, giving away clothes, books or any CDs you don’t want… Marie Kondo says we should be thankful to each item that has contributed to our life. These items may be frivolous, therefore think of adding more mindfulness in managing your life space.

Help your kid do their art 🖼 project (because who will in lockdown?) and display it proudly. Cook a meal you haven’t done before and say Grace at the dinner table, each day is a gift.

What does your “cave” say about you? Take stock. Do your holiday lists and think of ways to bring warmth to your cold on-line days of work. There are great virtual “Christmas Cafes” to hang out…. bring your own hot beverage and make your “cave” a little more cozy. Take time to enhance your life, your space, share fun e-cards or printed cards with family and friends as the year comes to a close. It’s your gift 🎁

Trying to make it through all those online meetings.

Winter solstice

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).

Emma Shaplin


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!

It’s the little things…. this holiday season

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
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

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.

Loving the “we serve” purpose

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….. 💕🙏

Living and walking the “talk” of the Christmas spitit

Toasting to health & support

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