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

Minks, Covid-minks ?

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 City which 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.

Rabbit not mink... some people eat those you know?
Rabbit vs. mink or not at all? Some people eat the meat and simply use the leather and fur you know?

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.

Author, healthliteracyweb.com

Post U.S. election thoughts

46th U.S. President Joe Biden

Humans are not peaceful creatures by nature. Life circumstances, personal traumas, having low health literacy, and surrounding environmental influences — political figures and rhetoric can affect us usually in very negative ways. It takes a lot of work, maturity, mindfulness, to move towards healthier societies. Reading a recent post with Mr. Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) amidst many other angry posts (or even delusional posts) has prompted me to remind us of the necessity of “healing rainbows.”

Indeed Mr. Mandela, ….we cannot “build nations” on revenge. It is unfortunate for many recent historical happenings around the world (including modern South Africa) that Mandela’s message is not heeded. Unfortunately the human mind (that “amygdala hijack” of emotions like anger) needs a lot of mindfulness work to be controlled for doing and saying good. This video on overcoming amygdala hijacking is very useful.

As we move to “better” futures we are obligated to help our children learn to communicate with others, care for themselves, as well as to care for their communities. We need TRUTH to build TRUST as we also need RESPECT ✊🏾 But people’s truth is often their own perspective and they cannot see it globally. Keep talking and keep thinking logically …. for the good of public welfare and public health.

Post-election fish 🐟 and thinking back to good times (pre-lockdowns and absentee ballots)….

Fall, nuts vs. candy “corn”

Autumn or “Fall” is that time of year when leaves change color abandoning summer as we move to darker days and nights. The colors are simply brilliant and we may think of seasonal food like pumpkin 🎃 or nuts …lots of them! From the walnut, to the chestnut 🌰, as we recall a wonderful past excursion to the mountains of Arcadia in the Peloponnesus!

Beautiful Autumn

One of my favorite books that taught me about appreciation of good 🍷 wine, seasonal foods, exercising and keeping fit, all the while maintaining our chic scarves tied in multiple ways while enjoying a nice piece of dark chocolate is titled “Frenchwomen for all Seasons” by Mireille Giuliano (published in 2006).

As we transition to “packing on” those extra pounds (kilos) we need to remember that some are healthy for our winter “survival mode” as evidenced from theory of evolution. Indeed the healthy omega 3s are necessary for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and body. So why do we crave all those sugars? I’d say it’s not a bad thing ….in moderation. And of course taking some good supplements like vitamin C or Lecithin vitamin E by Nutrilite a good thing for those over 45 who tend to eat high fat foods and need some extra support building immunity — remember your sunlight or artificial light for good mental health! This is the time of year when we are always craving those extra carbs like sugar. That said here is my take on “nuts vs. candy corn”. You can always ask your doctor or nutritionist and decide! Hmmm….

Good for you”Good” for sharing
Omega 3s, can eat with honey 🍯 a bit of honey 🍯 but mainly sugar
Squirrels 🐿 love themSquirrels cannot eat them (!)
Earth colors Bright colors
Year round Halloween 🎃
Nuts 🆚 Candy corn 🌽

“Styling” during Covid and caution with hand sanitizers

Social distancing it turns out is complicated and the data on Covid has been confusing. As much as the disease itself in terms of who and how much exposure ultimately affects our health ultimately leading to negative outcomes, the diagnostic tests, and medical protocols. But for sure masks are here to stay. At least for a while …It doesn’t matter if you put on a regular medical version you buy from your local pharmacy or you buy or make a more fashionable one like so ….

You still can wash and use hot sun 🌞 energy (heliotherapy) to get rid of germs as well as iron the fabric ones, as this means we continue to REDUCE waste! Please be careful when throwing out masks or gloves and do NOT throw in the street! Recent scenes are ludicrous … and infuriating!

masks and gloves tossed in streets 🥵

Regardless of whether you are a conspiracy theorist, a realist, a pessimist, or just following the local policies and laws, one thing is for sure …we have carriers, sufferers and those who ultimately lose their life as Covid destroys major life organs as our lungs. Recent loss of beloved actor (father of one) Nick Cordero really “hit home” for many younger people who think it won’t affect them !

The latest on hand sanitizer warnings by the FDA of toxic methanol is worrisome. I don’t think many of us are checking out the labels and what about sanitizers outside the US ?

Years ago I had visited Disney World and in retrospect I’m with the “Mayor“ and his wife — no handshakes and wear gloves ! It’s styling it … Maybe we should bring it back ?

Disney World — the Mayor and his stylish partner

Healing wounds and seeking rainbows

Pain is real, it’s subjective, collective, imagined, even infringed on you. Healing hurt and injustices may leave one a ‘scar’ of remembrance. Healing takes time. This June has been marked by a modern day “lynching” some say of George Floyd not marked by the silent protests of years past (see article) but of huge rallies where in some cities like L.A. the protesters reached over 20,000 persons of all colors and races, while in the UK statues of supposed slave traders were knocked down.

Racial disparities are referred to in health and this is also part of the Covid-19 numbers of many Black people who have died, and one of the “black lives matter” claims. We may not be ready for healing, but anger is a big part of this grief process (first referred by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and the Stages of Grief, not in this order — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).

I remember what it was like to get pushed around, put down, all for the sake of social games, backlash, for something I did not understand at the time in racial disparities and discrimination. For years I went home hurt and devastated, sometimes even from my “own people” until my mom showed up at my school to “take on” the situation. She was fair and she always stuck up for the underdog no matter what gender or race. Thus, I understood the tough cookie attitude of the mother in one of the best books I read — The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother (c) 1995. This book by James McBride a journalist who talks openly about his own life experience. We can destroy or hate, but if you want to build relationships you must build trust. Since trust has been my issue of study the last years, I’ve naturally been drawn to books like this one (faithfully read near the healing sea …) by Steve Covey.

“Sticks and stones, can break my bones but words will never harm me” a quote that always stuck as it struck a chord with me about strength. Whether you’ve been harassed, bullied, abused, dragged through the mud, when you’ve done nothing wrong. And even if you’ve done ‘something’ you might get away with it, get punished, no one deserves to be killed…. human emotions are real. We all need to see what is projected on us by other people, and for sure people make mistakes, big mistakes. There can be cause to complete distrust to jobs and institutions — we are seeing this clearly in 2020.

From pharmaceuticals to police departments, to government. People are getting beat up and killed for their skin color or their job. From the US to the UK, it’s all there. Guns, punches, fear, smear, anarchy or peace? You help decide. One Mayor went one step further to commemorate “Black Lives Matter” on the street. I say “all lives matter”… we are therapists. Speak truth, walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Help people find the antidote to racism, injustice on all sides.

Maybe you’ve been fighting for your life and for others, but it’s never enough… you get “doxxed” or “gaslighted” when it’s others who are at fault, but somehow they make you feel it’s you. You know what I mean. They don’t see YOU for you they see your appearance, they don’t ask questions, they assume you have “an agenda” are “privileged,” but never see the history and all the sacrifices made. There are others that live for power to “divide and conquer” — this proves to be worse for all years we’ve been working towards community health. Two steps forward, three steps back 😣

In the dark part of the day, like one of those 40 days and 40 nights, part of Covid-19 lockdown as with the biblical story of “Noah’s Ark” I saw the rainbow of hope and told the salesclerk as we looked up. We need to move on. The rainbow is all colors — in a prism coming together becomes white while the absence of color is black. Opposite sides of the spectrum but still together!

You can destroy and smash but deal with your inner demons …

We need to sit down and talk. Societies are built and destroyed in a moments notice. Some of this is intentional as I recall from the American History X movie (c) 1998, and the neo-Natzi movement. We often perceive and act on our fears and yes we know stereotypes and racist statements and actions exist. One of the best movies to witness this is Crash which won the Academy Award for best picture in 2004.

I kindly ask that we pray, for loss and healing, and that we don’t label everyone as being part of this global problem. Some countries like Greece have been enslaved and traded for years in antiquity and beyond technically were the same color and race! Again, power and conquest.

Sometimes the “servant” can teach the master so to speak as witnessed in harems of the Ottoman Empire, and in other parts of the Middle East. One story relayed to me about an older woman (now) who had been kidnapped as a 16-year-old because she was beautiful, eventually living as the outcast, never married (because she was taken to the harem) but wise despite her trauma. These women returned to their homes destroyed even as late as the 1960s!!), even though the harems closed in early 1900s supposedly, the last harem closed in 1970s in modern day Turkey! Those who are resilient overcome, others do not and need healing.

So many examples — the arts (Marilyn Monroe & Ella Fitzerald), stories of travelers to South Africa during and after the apartheid. From the religious side, recalling how St. John of Damascus (Syria) in the 7th century was educated in classical studies rivalring much of the Ancient Greek philosophers, eventually converted by his mentor-servant Cosmas (a refugee monk from Greece – Sicily who was sold into slave labor to educate the son of the wealthy merchant) to become one of the most important saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Perhaps people who struggle are also more tolerant of pain, for sure have more compassion. Education and lived experience matter. Having lived in the South in the US, in cities in the North, I know first-hand ! Now with the Covid-19 lockdown we understand fear, loss, anger, denial, compassion.

Martin Luther King in the 1960s marched in peace with several religious and political figures on his side as part of the civil rights movement. One of these supporters was the North American Archbishop of the Greek church, Iakovos, an immigrant himself (archive photos — civil rights movement); more recently in New York, helping the “Black Lives Matter” movement was Archbishop Elpidoforos with mask 😷 — a double message of what’s important for individual and community “health”.
This past Monday, always 49 days after Easter, the feast day of the Holy Spirit was celebrated. At no other time have we needed clarity, enlightenment, and peace.
We will overcome …. someday.

Shuck those peas…save on cash

Think creative, think cash, and think health. Times are tough …. the phrase “ah shucks!” Is a farm-based word equivalent to “oh shame” or “darn”…. thought of it today as I shucked peas — meaning remove the outside —to put them in the freezer.
It is strawberry season so pick those as also gaining beta carotene and vitamin C with low-fat Loquat (in Greek “mousmoula” μούσμουλα). All Seasonal foods!
Think health.

Pea pods and seasonal goodies

Now that we have a bit more time and maybe saved some money 💰 from not going out …while not making money due to pay cuts or unemployment, we have to think smart. It’s part of our financial literacy. Think cash.

Being a part of free Zoom talks like one I recently participated in with storytelling can help keep your mind busy keep social as well as share in gratitude. We need to flourish rather than relish in self-pity. Support each other.

Lately I’ve been giving new meaning to the line “playing with food” getting ideas from Pinterest or beyond ….Think creative.

Think creative, think cash, think seasonal and think health literacy!