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)

The Carob tree

Introducing the Carob tree, here in Greece also found in many warm summer climates, whose benefits and usefulness are immeasurable. WebMD has all the fine details saying there is no “evidence” for medical purposes however it has been used throughout ancient times for feeding animals, making flour, boiling and drinking, and medicinally. Carob (ceratonia siliqua) in Greek “charoupi” (χαρούπι), is a hard shelled brown pod considered a sustainability product (see ResearchGate 2018 article).

The Carob tree can be male or female and traces back to Ancient Greece. Multiple vitamins, antioxidants and high fiber; it can be boiled for its juice, ground for its flour, eaten raw, or used for its seeds. Some people prefer it to chocolate as it’s caffeine free! It’s found also in syrup form, a gluten-free product and it’s fibers help weight loss, reduce blood sugar and insulin levels (see Healthline article). Supposed benefits include:

  • Better control of diabetes (prediabetes) and cholesterol
  • diarrhea control
  • obesity
  • persistent heartburn
  • autoimmune diseases like Celiac disease
  • sinusitis and congestion (hot Carob powder drink)
  • athletic performance (chewed over several weeks), and the syrup (taken orally of course) is used to improve sperm functioning

Photos taken in Neo Oitylon, Mani Peninsula, southern Peloponnesus. A mountainous region with much stone, wind, and 🌊 sea!

Besides providing well needed shade, the Carob tree has been used throughout times.

Here are a few 😋 good recipe links you might like:

  1. Brownies (by Thespruceeats)
  2. Tsoureki (a traditional Greek Easter sweet bread) from Carob (Vicki’s Greek recipes)
  3. Apple and Carob crumble cake (by Yummly)
  4. Carob powder hot beverage drink (by Healthiersteps)
Casa Verde makes their own Carob syrup from the mature (brown) pods.

Night Sky 🌌 Astrophysics, Life purpose

Do you look up to the sky and ask yourself what is my purpose? Do you wonder what is out there? Did you notice anything strange lately like Elon Musk’s new Starlink satellites? (Those night streaks are causing both space clutter as well as obscuring astronomers’ telescope views ….. see BBC report). This was a week of contemplating about life which often happens when there are challenges, or times for relaxation. Trying to finish a summer reading book titled 📖 Someone I Used to Know by Wendy Mitchell, about her experience of Dementia. She poignantly states how her colleagues, friends and family deal with her cognitive loss, and how phrases like “living with” instead of using “suffering from” can make a big difference in curative care and survival. Other books like Thomas Moore’s Dark Night of the Soul help people philosophize about their personal life struggles.

The recent death of internationally acclaimed astrophysicist Dionysus Simopoulos, age 79, and his last message to
his friends “That’s All Folks!” having talked openly about his battle with pancreatic cancer leads me to believe we need these great examples of how to better communicate difficult topics for the general public to better understand and advocate for services. I’m not an expert in astronomy or physics but Smartphone applications like Night Sky 🌌Apps certainly help us see the world in a different light! As a matter of fact I also learned about the astronomical Ophiuchus, pronounced ‘o-few-cus’, and those with this star sign have a mix of traits from both Scorpio and Sagittarius. Ophiuchus or “the serpent bearer” is often considered as a 13th sign and it appeared on our clip, described as insightful and curious, and a “seeker of wisdom and knowledge.”

Ophiuchus is seen here …

A good friend’s father passed away and it was curious that her other siblings never came to the funeral as some cannot experience loss in the same way or the concept of filial piety seems to be fading away or very busy young people who may be lacking resources. A few years back I wrote a book chapter about Ageing, health literacy and the end of life issues both from a research perspective, and cultural histories which included commonalities of rituals and challenges as part of the acclaimed International Handbook of Health Literacy (Orkan et al., 2019). We all can and will experience this so why not be better prepared? One of the best courses we took in high school (US in the 1980s) was “Relating” which included about “death and dying” learning about Elizabeth Kubler Ross stages and having a classmate’s dad, a mortician, explain what and how they deal with the “body” and the families. Why is it that we can watch gruesome details of murders on CSI, or Law and Order, but seem not to be able to discuss about the basics?

  • Be ware of how developmental stages affect how we perceive loss and view blog post on losing a pet.
  • Keep talking and be patient with yourself, others who may have lost something special or someone special. Expect delayed reactions.
  • Practice self care always!

    Life purpose may take time but keep searching ….for sure doing good, to love ❤️ and be loved 🥰 is a basic human (and perhaps extraterrestrial) need…. Don’t underestimate the power of God and the energy of the universe.
Sunset over the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean by NASA Johnson is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Healthy eating….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.
Berry and strawberry season are perfect seasonal foods. What about gaining beta carotene and vitamin C with low-fat Loquat (in Greek “mousmoula” μούσμουλα)? All Seasonal foods!
Think health.

Pea pods and seasonal goodies

Many struggle with 💰 money due to pay cuts or unemployment, so one has to think smart. It’s part of our financial literacy. Think cash.

The FAVA bean pureed is a great protein source

Trying to get kids eating more fruit and nuts? ….Think creative. Here is a ”palm tree“ made with banana (good source of potassium and magnesium) , kiwi 🥝 fruit (very high vitamin C), and decorated with brazil nuts (good source of Omega 3s).

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

The language of medicinal plants -(repost)

Dr. Alain Touwaide mesmerized his audience a few years ago presenting the “Hyppocrates’ Legacy: Greek Medicine in the Mediterranean and Beyond” showcasing his 40+ years of research experience as a classicist and scholar of the Byzantine world, taking us on a “medicinal plant journey” from Ancient Greece (Hellas), the Mediterranean and Middle East, through the Byzantine Empire and Middle Ages,the west, and tying in our modern times. A speaker of 12 languages, university lecturer and researcher, and Scientific Director of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions; Touwaide, with the support of Emanuela Appetiti (cultural anthropologist, Touwaide’s wife and research partner) gave his audience a true “intercultural” lesson of sorts.  He helped us travel back to the days of Pedanius Dioscorides (Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης) of Anazarbus (the then ancient Hellenic world, now modern Turkey) through Byzantine and modern times… Medicinal plants (e.g. Δρακόντιον) from archaeological representation, art, to actual plant.

johnson_papyrus_fragment_of_an_illustrated_herbal-_wellcome_l0045048

Johnson papyrus fragment of an illustrated herb

How fascinating to learn about the circulation of information via a papyrus and how this may have had effect on translation, since this medium was often recycled — the ancients and those through the middle ages printed on top of other manuscripts in order for this information to eventually reach the ‘commoners.’ We wonder, what has been erased at the base!??

Furthermore, the Greek concept of “ιατρό σόφια” or “γιατροσόφια” (meaning wisdom of medicine passed on from your grandmother) may indeed be one of those very useful things to more carefully look into –an oral and written tradition carried through the ages to our modern days. Indeed, we see that most of the world still uses traditional plants as therapies — these “traditional”,”alternative” or “complementary” medicines (see World Health Organization for the differentiating definitions), may be plants or herbs we use in our everyday cooking like basil and garlic, or for stress and pain reduction like lavender and peppermint. As a matter of fact there are several webpages dedicated to grandma’s medicinal knowledge or “γιατροσόφια” like this one and one interesting one that is tied to the “Agion Oros” (Mount Athos holy mountain, Northern Greece).

Since Greece is among the top three biodiversities in the world, could this not be cultivated more systematically in turn to produce and retain knowledge, create more jobs, and even tourism by rebuilding some of those ancient sites for consulting on medical care the revitalizing of the Ἀσκληπιεῖον – Asklepieion as a way to help the country look to something more positive in the midst of the ongoing crisis for the last almost ten years? Rumor has it that the Greek WWF may be thinking of more serious plant biodiversity proposals in the near future, we hope so!  The first ‘hospital’ was created by the “Asclepiads” inspired through Hippocrates’ original work (we all recall the Hyppocratic Oath), these ancient physicians  followed the cult of Asclepius and the temple of healing. The most well-known asklepieia in Greece today are the Asclepieion in Kos & the Asklepieion of Epidaurus — more that existed in the ancient Hellenic world, some are found in modern-day Turkey.  As an aside, it seems that there is a catalogue of physician’s “oaths” affecting the code of ethics that doctors still use today (anyone want to do a linguistical comparative study in context of the various historical times?).

Dr. Touwaide referred to terms like “diffusion of pharmacotherapies” or reconstructing the “life of the book” (pressed plants in books, etc.), and how the knowledge of a book was transmitted to common people — diffusion through translation (Arabic science is rooted in Greek science) as he showed us remnants from Arabic Baghdad of the 9th century….even in arabic one can clearly see mention of certain terms within the texts and even the image of Asclepius shown in a more culturally-specific and acceptable form that would be more geared for the middle east arabic-speaking world. Indeed we share a common language and interest, can this not overcome any modern-day barriers?

staffasclepius

Modern symbol in U.S. Medicine, the caduceus

The Asclepius staff is pictured in the U.S. as Herme’s “Caduceus” a universal images used for modern day medicine but there is so much more to those snakes than even we know (healing snakebites, etc.). It turns out that the original staff by Asclepius had one snake and nothing to do with ‘wings’…. this was exclusive to the messenger god Hermes, so another case of mistaken ancient-to-modern identity!

Thanks Alain…just in time for winter and thinking of prevention and healing of our common colds the flu, health problems I’m sure we all experience and likely natural cures that stand the test of time…

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!