Chinese new year: Year of the RABBIT 2023

Photo by Brian Forsyth on Pexels.com

This year we focus on the inspirations of this little fur ball …. who has many offspring as if to ‘give’ to the world of his own self. Chinese New Year: Year of the Rabbit site inspires us to figure out our own Zodiac and what our challenges might be forthcoming. Our protective qualities, or health issues. Think of resolutions and what the last year meant to you.

We know that journal 📓 or diary-writing ✍️ and any creative writing is a great way to get our brain’s neurological system “back together again” as many studies suggest. So here are 5 things to look back at:

  1. what you accomplished…
  2. where you are headed next…
  3. what you need to “fix” in yourself, or mend relationships (if they can be, else move on) understand that you are not perfect but neither is the person with the big ego!
  4. what are you thankful for and give thanks 🙏 to the universe – God.
  5. how has your body kept up with your age and the environmental impact.

This time 🕰️ it is customary for all of us to want to turn a new page, a new beginning, as we all want to move forward after years of pandemic madness, let’s be inspirational by the little prince and our lessons learned.

My goal is to “finish what I start” and delve more into “philosophy” and the “arts” …with a bit of book 📚 inspiration in 2 languages!

Do you enjoy good food and drink?
Will you try something new this year ?

Along with the typical family treats in Greece and other Eastern European countries such as the crushed almond butter cookies with powder sugar “kourambiedes” (some refer to them as “Greek almond snowballs”!) and the spicy honey-dipped with walnuts “melomakarona” this year instead of the typical “vasilopita” we made an Italian inspired panettone …. More good food to try were beef stew and sautéed veggies 🥦 🥕 with potato hash brown type patty that made for a great British dinner 🥘 along with a berries and cherries low alcohol cider. Fish croquettes with some pieces of duck, salad greens 🥬 with Parmesan, and a glass of red wine 🍷for those good-for-heart flavonoids. Amazing tastes and no guilt on calories! Remember Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”? That’s a good new year’s philosophy to follow, as long as you eat in moderation!

A new year of strength and confidence in your own abilities, creative outlets, with much health, growth, and prosperity! 2023 – be the best you want to be.

Happy holidays: Dickens & Victorian London style

Gifts, merriment, kindness, remembrance of Christmas Past, Christmas Present 🎁 and Christmas Future! This is what the English literary genius of Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria would likely have us take home after a visit to a great city like London, England.

Charles Dickens (Charles John Huffam Dickens 1812-1870) writings like “A Christmas Carol” (1843), “Oliver Twist” (1837-1838), “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859, set in Paris and London), and “Great Expectations” (1861) are still powerful reminders for us today about life. He authored hundreds of short stories, 20 novellas and novels which defined Victorian literature; surely Dickens was a champion for children’s rights, education, social reform. Dickens was also said to suffer from what we consider today to be obsessive compulsive disorder, further raising awareness for many health conditions of the time, including tuberculosis, and alcoholism, thus one would say he helped the public raise their health literacy.

From London with love to all … Sharing is caring, and beautiful cities must be maintained. When one respects cities, this can add joy to any pedestrian’s and onlookers viewing and experience. Of course there are a few things to be aware of including, no lighting in parks at night, and the London Fog can make one a bit uneasy 😬 (unfortunately many crimes were committed during Covid lockdown periods); personally, the Scotland Yard stories of detective Sherlock Holmes, and still unsolved Jack the Ripper case still intrigue.

  • Take a walk and “get lost” only to find your path again.
  • Travel far, open your eyes and mind, we are all global citizens.
  • Give what you can, you will have greater returns.
  • Purchase only what you need and 1 item that makes you happy.
  • Enjoy precious time with family and friends.

There are many Dickens quotes to share, but this holiday season let’s keep this one,

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

A Christmas Carol, 1843

Solstice, embrace darkness

Tonight, while driving to (of all things) a Christmas party, I heard a wonderful tribute to darkness.

The poetry of beloved Scottish born author Kathleen Jamie referred to winter solstice. Playing against a backdrop of amazing music taking us all the way to the Arctic Circle and better understanding the Nordic cultures. It’s no wonder Jamie is currently considered one of Scotland’s greatest.

It is a realisation indeed, that we only speak of the “light in darkness” and we have been influenced by the Judeo-Christian traditions that were invented to help people come together in winter months (Christmas and Chanukah) a take-off from ancient pagan traditions.

Solstice is a special day twice each year, where the sun reaches its maximum or minimum declination. The longest day is June 21 and the shortest around 21 or 22 of December. So, I share here beloved Nordic nature with the “call” of ethereal singer

Ancient Nordic Chant — Frozen Call (Jonna Jinton, 2020)

Finishing my almost one month long psycho-educational group I decided that working during the winter months is special, since: 1) it helps everyone deal with the melancholia of less physical light (vitamin D deficiency too !) 2) people with chronic dermatological. or vein issues do better with the cold 3) it also prepares them to deal with the stress of the holidays !

We can delve a bit deeper into the Eleusinian mysteries or take a walk during this crisp winter night …. Did us a world of good ! The theme and practice of December traditions, transcends cultures.

Stay tuned for my next post about psychologist Ed Tick, PhD and his work on dream healing ❤️‍🩹 plus some special artisans to bridge the ancient archetypes with our modern ways.

Pomegranate and Autumn 🍂 comforts

Autumn is here and we are loving the rain and cooler days. For many world regions floodwater has destroyed property and land a bit apocalyptic for some; flooding is concerning due to continued climate change.

Time for the Earth to bare her last fruit/veggies as she, like us ”takes a rest”. Fall or Autumn (from the Latin autumnus) reminds us of the year passing, as we take out out warm sweaters and comfort foods.

What is your Fall Season “comfort food”? Perhaps a morning oatmeal with a bit of maple syrup reminding you of the colors and the beauty of autumn.

In times of “low energy“ it’s to your benefit to add some extra vitamins with pumpkin seeds, cranberries, some goji berries … good and extra yummy!

Wikipedia defines comfort food as something of nostalgic nature from our childhood usually that makes us feel “cared for” and indeed a hot breakfast around cold Fall and winter days makes us feel better. A reminder that “all that falls” could be your mood and a bit of seasonal depression so do something, be active, put on that warm cuddly sweater and make something good for yourself !

Breakfast, the most important part of your day so start your day with energy!

Demeter, goddess of agriculture, harvest and fertility, is a reminder of seasonal changes, human bounty, and potential loss. Gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece mirrored human nature, one may say as a mother she surely felt a great emptiness when her daughter Persephone was lured by Hades into the underworld disappearing from beloved earth grounds. Hades, a dark figure (may be something like a modern Darth Vader) convinces the kind-hearted Persephone to fall for him offering her a pomegranate.

By eating a few seeds she consummates this relationship so that even the great leader-god Zeus could not intervene, thus Persephone travels to Hades part of the year, and as she re-emerges her mother, Demeter brings flowers and the budding of Spring —  a beautiful myth!

Writers talk about the necessity of change, darkness being a necessary part of our healing (Thomas Moore “Dark Nights of the Soul”).

The continued pagan tradition of the pomegranate, a bittersweet food of seeds or squeezed into juice, rich in vitamin C and anti-inflammatory properties, is added with barley / bulgar wheat, to commemorate death of loved ones as part of the memorial services of several Eastern Orthodox traditions (called “kolyva” κόλλυβα).

There’s a great list of benefits including helping weight loss indicated in a popular fitness magazine, Shape (pomegranate info).

There are the RED types

Fall healthy eating tips:

  • Eat more pumpkin, lotus, and any beta carotene rich vegetables and fruit
  • Pair your leftover Halloween 🎃 candy w/ some Omega rich nuts !
  • Take a walk in the woods and gather some chestnuts ? Remember 20 mins a day, walk briskly.
  • Remember increasing your help knowledge helps build health literacy.
  • Teach future generations what you have learned…be thankful for the extra knowledge!

As we close with Eric Clapton’s Autumn, I came across this great quote in thinking of winter and your relationships — “cleaning house”:

October Awareness

This October we celebrate Domestic abuse awareness, health literacy month, Breast Cancer Awareness, and it’s time for the annual mammograms for women over 50 years of age … pink ribbon 🎀 to commemorate and a beautiful Bougainvillea tree this year as a reminder!

To commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness month !
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

And if we can think that we are checking for lumps the size of a pea (not a nut!) for primary prevention this is most important.
Jennifer Garner, American actress recently shared the importance of mammograms check out Hello Magazine article and video.

Our friends the squirrels 🐿 look for 🌰 nuts, they are celebrating their own October month too … (Squirrels US National Awareness month) important for our globe’s ecology.

At the recent Europe in Discourse III Conference held in Athens, we presented on some very important health communication issues part of a global health literacy panel including:

  • Oral health and interrelated global health issues (Kritikos)
  • After school language program curriculum building for awareness of smoking as prevention (Dimitsanti)
  • Refugee crisis and health literacy (Ioannidi)
  • Violence against women and “femicide” (Argyriou, Kondilis)
    • 😓given the event in Iran 🇮🇷 about the death by “moral police” violence of Masha Amini, this was timely
  • Graffiti in times of recent economic and covid crisis in EU (Kondilis & Kountouris)

Happy May & workers rights !

Happy May and what great spring traditions!

A brief history of the Maypole tradition

Everyone has the opportunity to “dance” and socialize (now that masks are off in many countries) as it contributes to good health including minimizing risk for longer-term health complications due to inactivity!

The other day we discussed employee safety and preventive measures. The field itself is called “occupational health and safety” — see OSHA and EU-OSHA, I am truly a proponent of occupational safety measures as they have the biggest short and long-term impacts!

This is what health ”literacy“ involves, reading up ⬆️ to also help yourself and your workers … since May 1st has been additionally celebrated for workers rights!

Post-Covid small businesses are continuing to struggle w/ making enough money and covering costs (particularly now with high energy bills) to be “open” to eco-changes and keeping their staff (many millennials often don’t stay in longterm jobs or many employers hire on a temp basis!). However, it’s important to care for the health and safety of workers which increases confidence in the manager and the agency – company.

Protective plexiglass and face masks 😷 should be required for all manicurists!

Indeed our beautician-friend and small business owner were well aware of what to do for safety of clients as is also most importantly safety for the employees! I congratulated them on being a health literate small business, I only wish I could give them a HL certificate… something to think about in a future “association”!

My daisy-inspired design and nail outcomes are evidence of a happy duo! And do remember your May flowers and local traditions to keep up with an ever-changing world.

Happy May to all the little and big creatures!

Daisies for everyone!

It’s Spring! The trees are budding, wildflowers are blooming everywhere, birds are singing to entice their mates… we might be experiencing a bit of friskiness from “Spring fever” 😻😺😜and we want to be out (particularly post covid lockdowns)!! Small creatures are enjoying the flowers as much as we are, we are walking and cycling more! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🤎 This is exactly what nature intended, if we are mindful to notice and experience.

The more we learn about each flower, appreciating their diversity, we are in awe of the master of the universe. Daisies are the cousin of sunflowers — a very pregnant Katy Perry, chosen here as the Spring symbol of fertility w/ her appropriate song ”Daisies”. 🎼

Katy Perry ”Daisies” (c)2020

Many of us used to play “he/she loves me, loves me not” picking off the daisy petals, to allow our thoughts and cares to drift away. Maybe getting creative ideas, or simply thinking 🤔 of an upcoming May wreath? Picking those mini-daisies of chamomile will be our next blog post.

Recalling positive memories is a great way to fight off melancholia (sadness) as you recall joy is that feeling not far behind! Science proves that fighting depression must involve physical activity such as a 20 minute daily walk, getting in some sun doses of vitamin D (nature’s natural antidepressant and an antioxidant), great for our overall wellness.

Pick some wildflowers to share, as it makes everyone smile 😊 and for your workspace — a great stress reliever helping create a pleasant feeling to (hopefully) get more work done. Try the Pomodoro technique which allows for more cognitive focusing with timed breaks in between. Now that’s some great health literacy this Spring !

Write ✍️ your daily goals accomplished after your “to do” lists. Keeps you positive.

Lucky 🍀 networks

March 17th is a big celebration of the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, who apparently was a Roman, and no snakes in Ireland! Great 😊 video ….things we did not know. I was lucky to grow up with many Irish and even met several Irish setter dogs … sweet auburn haired pets. Their good temperament makes for great pet therapy dogs.

Photo by Adam Fejes on Pexels.com

Even luckier a few years ago as we met up with colleagues at the last in-person conference in Dublin Ireland, sponsored by the International Health Literacy Association (i-hla.org), meeting with President and co-researcher, Dr. Kristine Sorensen. The importance of bonding and ”practicing” what we think, and teach / “preach”… like eating good food, using social support, always fitting in fun and a bit of music 🎵 and dancing, much exercising …images speak louder than words.
Happy Spring! 🍀 🌹 ☔️ 🌸

Those deserving the Purple Heart 💜

(Almost a repost!) One more Valentine’s Day coming up with continued quarantines, 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?” Thankful for the latest trends to possibly ”end” the pandemic.
We still want the chocolate and the 🧁 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. No wonder schools are staging protests in the US to end face masks 😷 for kids (see WA story) … in most places in the US with spacious homes, cars, streets and sidewalks this makes sense but what of overcrowding and smaller countries like in the EU? Think bus 🚎 tram 🚈, taxi 🚖!

One bakery (Veneti) in Attica, Greece, has 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 🇬🇷.

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” 💗❤️And a recent graffiti featuring a healthcare staff woman with a white rose of ”gratitude” painted outside a hospital in Piraeus, Greece …absolutely!

Tzaneion hospital artistic graffiti of gratitude

Stardust, The Little Prince, and Covid lessons

If we could wave a magic wand in 2022 it would take us back to pre-covid “normal”. Tinkerbell used her magic stardust for Peter Pan and why not for us?

Does anyone get the feeling that we are living another reality? A recent meteorite just ”skimmed” past our planet 🌎, major catastrophes, earthquakes and tsunamis, some people could benefit from snow literacy, and all benefit by touching faith.

Major economic power countries have so much ”space junk” floating around (check out Business Insider article); yet, media is so focused on this “little bugger” Covid. It’s been proven as a blood clotting disease 🦠 attacking lungs and other vital organs, while we are all learning Greek letters one painful Covid strain at a time (Delta δ , omikron ο)…. I loved reading about the creative writing student who wrote about the Greek letters protesting about their reputation and losing ”face” as someone wrote “can’t wait for the letter pi (π) it will just be going to infinity” 🤓😩😮

The scientific community is still at odds about mRNA vaccines and the ”architect“ of these vaccines stands with over 16,000 scientists planning for a protest in Washington DC soon which will add yet another dimension to our own confusion.

One thing is for sure, Covid is highly contagious, hospitalization may be an unpleasant result for some due to infection, continued fever and trouble breathing as oxygen intake hypoxaemia or other concurrent health issues may even lead to core damage or death (the ”cause of death” is another contentious issue for many countries’ data bases).

If you’ve ever made any arts and crafts in grade school with glitter you know how it sticks to everyone… it’s exactly how covid transfers from person to person. These winter months so does flu, the common cold and now there is a new category of both flu and covid 😵‍💫.

Take care of your health and if you do not only believe in “luck” you’ll surely make it out ok ✅, but please stick to the recommended 15-day rule of self-testing everyone or rapid/ PCRs for your home (close contacts) and requirements for travel. As global citizens you owe it to be responsible, vaccinate if its appropriate and recommended for your age, remember medical staff are overwhelmed. Alas, this 2020 WHO poster is now becoming a reality; there are many cases of people needing surgeries or other care, and not getting it due to the Covid pandemic…..understandably a big problem.

Think about it… don’t overuse the health system … and focus on prevention and early treatment.
“One only understands what one tames”, said the fox 🦊 to the Little Prince. We must be patient, deal with our inner gremlins even our idealizations, realizing we all have something to offer each other. Perhaps this needs to be our “great reset” button this year, not focusing so much on conspiracies.

Contributing to your health literacy, with some health tips (remember severe pain or fever, may signify a more serious condition, you need to consult a medical provider):

  • wear a mask 😷 tight around the nose, when you’re indoors in crowded spaces, for those who are sick at home cloth masks are just fine (always wash your hands and wear clean masks every few hours)
  • rest, sleep 😴 🛌 is the best medicine
  • don’t panic 😱! Look at the data, most people make it through just fine, and be more diligent about self-care if you have a chronic health condition.
  • Good Mental Health is key 🔐 reframe the ”little bugger” (positive Get a little crazy …mindset) as it helps your physical health
  • check your oxygen levels using an oximeter (they are cheap) and body temp with a thermometer 🌡. Remember an oximeter is essential to detect hypoxaemia, the source of oxygen which may be too low and you may need to be put on a ventilator or worse clinical distress and need to undergo endotracheal intubation.
  • Intake plenty of fluids, antioxidant vitamins (C, Zinc), garlic, propolis, a bit of 🌞 sun for vitamin D (15 minutes near a sunny window, think like a cat!) Echinacea works in the very first symptoms as its more preventive
  • rinse out mucosal passages morning and evening before bed (throat and nose — saltwater is great, lemon with honey and a bit of hot water is equally soothing for a scratchy painful throat),
  • eat good food, stay off dairy and sugar
  • some indoor/outdoor exercise like walking and even lung “workouts” (there are plenty youtube videos especially by Ayurvedic physicians).
  • One additional thing that helps any flu or lung-type cold is heat. Tried heating a large stone/brick in a stove (not microwave) or in the summer sun —> a porous large stone or brick are best, wrapping in a soft towel and putting on chest (shirt required to prevent unwanted burns, and adults only!) until heat runs out, about 10 mins.
  • eucalyptus type creme or gel on chest and nostrils 👃 may helps free up clogged nasal passages as some are not keen . A few essential oil drops from eucalyptus or lavender are great in a humidifier too!
  • Honey with lemon and a bit of hotwater in the morning, later on with your herbal tea, and in your cough syrup is great medicine! Honey honey honey! 🍯
  • There is a rainbow after every major difficulty…. Rainbows 🌈 for all.

“What makes the desert beautiful,’ said the little prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well…”

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery