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

It’s a new day….

Michael Bublee says it best! A new life, a new day, and I’m feeling good! New Year’s Day is the first page in a blank book: Let’s write a phenomenal story!

I challenge you to pull out a piece of paper, take out your journal and write down at least 2 things you can change in the new year and at least 5 things or events you are grateful for from the past year! Remember make your new year resolutions achievable like “walking at least 5,000 steps each day!” Why? It keeps you motivated to do more…next day you might walk 10,000/day which is the achievable “secret” health goal. This year I ended my year walking 12,000 steps in a city I never traveled to before (oh yes, it was partially a Christmas gift so ”thank you” family) ….and it felt great!

Everyone has hopes (or resolutions) on new year’s day and as we begin the year 2022 let’s think of what we have accomplished to date…. we are alive, breathing, and doing the BEST we can despite the last 2 years of a global pandemic, economic downfalls for many countries, and ecological disasters throughout the world. I put on my warm socks, drank my anti-oxidant tea 🍵, started to sort through leftover stuff to clear the space and the mind, keeping that lucky ”faux” pomegranate (its traditional for the first visitor Day 1, in the Greek home to take a pomegranate and smash it — in a bag of course — and the seeds to represent luck and prosperity for the year) fostering an attitude of gratitude, being kind! I made my list, and thinking about:

  • all the things I’m grateful for …. how about you?
  • all the things I accomplished (some against all odds!) or hoping to accomplish
  • doing my annual medical tests to stay healthy and necessary prevention
  • increasing cash “flow” & spiritual “glow”
  • guiding our children and youth in the best ways possible
  • being more creative

Make this year your most creative one yet!

Can Control, Can’t Control this Season

10 sessions of 3 hours each in a small town via an educational after-school center for adults in their 20s through 60s is a perfect brief psycho-educational time frame to help gear up for life or holiday stress!

We learn self-appreciation, community growth and appreciation of what we have (see Rovaniemi) or what we can change, a foundation in Spirituality and better understanding the connection between physical and mental health. We may gain some weight from that yummy cake but hey so what? we need it for winter ”cushing”! What would Santa 🎅🏻 be like without that extra belly fat and heartfelt ”ho ho ho”? Loved this infographic RING 🥰 (from Brianna Vieria) along with our chocolate cake with apple garnish “ring”… apple 🍏 🍎 garnish for some extra fiber.

Back to what you CAN control 4 simple steps:

  1. Amounts of water you drink daily, and being aware of where it comes from!
  2. Your impulses with a little breathing work. Truly like this ”urge surfing” meditation to help us control the uncontrollable (over-eating, or reacting)
  3. Develop a can-do attitude by starting a list and giving yourself credit for what you have accomplished DAILY; with this a Gratitude list for what you have! Be grateful to God and more will come.
  4. Cleaner space – cleaner you…. once you get started room by room it feels and looks great 👍🏽 The Kondo method see Cleaning House 🏡 post-method is a smart move … and how about a 🌹 rose in winter? along with those chestnuts

Amadeus, Amadeus “Requiem”

What would we do without the ‘master’? Today 300 years later we are still discussing the man, the genius, the jealous rivalries, and possible illness that lead to his demise on December 5th. There is ‘Baby Mozart’ to supposedly make infants smarter (unproven but still fun — read more about it here!) , there is Mozart while studying, if you enjoy those Austrian almond paste chocolate Mozart balls quite yummy! Perhaps you will be lucky enough to travel to Austria this holiday season and check out some of these along with the “lucky pigs” (see post: Beyond a New Year’s Resolution)

What caused his untimely death? His timeless influence, between reality and myth are still with us through today….

Falco’s line ‘Rock me Amadeus’ (German version below) is easily retrievable in our 80’s music memory stronghold…. priceless!

It was intriguing to read about possible causes of Wolfgang’s death, ranging from tuberculosis, to syphilis. According to historical records from other men his age, it was likely a streptococcal infection (see Dr. Markel’s full article “A symphony of second opinions on Mozart’s final illness” PBS 2016). A recent covid-related complications death of 69-year-old Mark Blum actor from ‘Mozart in the Jungle” brought the Master composer’s name back into the headlines. The study of epidemiology can be done years later to reflect on CAUSES by looking at the trends of diseases in a certain population at that historical moment.

The final scenes of the Oscar-winning movie Amadeus (1984 trailer) play off a jealous rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Antonio Salieri (1750-1825). However, after the discovery of a mutual composition — a cantata ‘score’ written by both for the harpsichord (a favorite sounding instrument predating the piano) shed new light of their relationship, and Mozart’s death “by poisoning” has long been discounted …. we know how it is that everyone likes a little bit of drama! And yes, Mozart was age 30 when Beethoven age 16 met, so we can guess why they are both so great and their music can affect us years later…. useful also with music therapy.

By far, for those of us who ponder what angels on earth sound like, the pounding of the heart and the rising of the soul…. the famed Requiem is one of the most amazing pieces and the LAST one that Mozart wrote, never completing before his death at the tender age of 35. Requiem in D minor, K. 626, is a requiem mass — and “Lacrimosa” …. A bit for your music literacy!

IN REQUIUM then our dear Wolfgang AMADEUS Mozart…..

Classical music still popular today via different mediums …

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
  • Take a walk in the woods and gather some chestnuts ? Remember 20 mins a day, walk briskly.
  • Pair your Halloween 🎃 candy with some Omega rich nuts !
  • October health literacy month a reminder to build health literacy.

We made our Halloween mini garden featuring Mr. pumpkin 🎃 and our seasonal basil 🌿 ready for hybernation.

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

Yellow Sunflower Days🌻

Some days you want to stand out …. even more now with those face masks many of us are still wearing…. because some of us work long hours even some weekends through much of June there are some days, consciously wearing happy colors like yellow can change one’s mood.

We took off in front of that beautiful winged horse we all know from Greek mythology named Pegasus, and then heading over evening to have a seaside meal of calamari (καλαμάρι), or hot dish calamari with purée chickpeas (ρεβύθια), a fresh Greek salad, in Corinth (check out this website as a greatest places in Greece). Mediterranean cuisine makes a wonderful end to perfect days. Of course it’s all better with cheerful friends.

Smiling 😊 is contagious, as I remember taught this years ago when I took a “smiling therapy” class for enhancing my clinical work with youth and groups ….yes there are direct positive affects on our neuronal brain connectivity by looking upward and smiling on our own.

Be like a sunflower 🌻 spread a smile 😃 it’s a simple curve that makes everything better.

There they are smiling at you if you notice them, brilliant 🌻 sunflowers 🌻 basking in the sunlight. Yellow is a cheerful color that many of us need this in our daily routines (diet of fruits of the rainbow to include banana for potassium, and pineapple full of vitamin C, or sunflower seeds on yogurt with honey, to keep healthy) …. how about a piña colada cocktail 🍹 without the alcohol!? The barman matched the fruit and decor with my bathing suit. That’s mindfulness in customer service!

There is even a Sunflower song 🎵 …. positive vibes, and it’s a great reminder that summer is here.