The princes of darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Pinnochio just a childhood story ?

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

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

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

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.

The early bird … and the porcupine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Fly a Kite 🪁

I always loved the phrase “Go fly a kite!” When one is angry 😡…. to give time to relax the intense emotions, breathe some oxygen and get some healthy sunshine 🌞

In Greece this Monday it’s a cultural tradition to fly a kite 🪁 symbolic of the soul flying high as the majority are Eastern Orthodox Christians and it’s a “clean Monday” no meat, subdued and happy moments with family and the beginning of the 40 days of Lent. In light of recent city clashes with police 👮‍♀️ as well as anarchistic rallies in this part of the world of civil unrest, we need to think 🤔 and take some time to personally contribute to a better world starting with us … manage our systems and manage our anger in healthier ways…. and yes it’s not as easy as it looks (your kite flying I mean 😏)

Go FLY a Kite!

Ms. “Sarakosti” keeps time with her legs ! 7 weeks ….

And of course who would forget Ms. Sarakosti her 7 feet symbolize each week of Lent. She humbly reminds us to turn within and add our family members names (optional) to keep us on path for our detoxification and spiritual growth.

The hope is that we learn to soar and the “growth mindset” takes some time ….

  1. Manage yourself first ….including rethinking about what you do and say. No one is perfect.
  2. Sit with it — Extreme emotions may be warranted but not to the detriment of your relationships. Start counting ….it takes about 10 seconds to realize how you’re feeling and a quick body scan, 🛑 reflect and then act!
  3. Listen — Can you really “hear” truth or simply perceive criticism ? Good friends and family often want what’s best for us, so tease out what is valuable.
  4. Clean house — inner and outer, literally and figuratively. A bit of fasting and reflecting is healthy. Decluttering also makes you feel great and the KonMarie method is one to follow!

Teaching kids to appreciate science 🧬

A social scientist recently said that the pandemic may have given many parents the chance to slow down and really talk. Talk about what we “take in” from the online world from what we watch or play.

Every day we have chances to teach children, but seem to compete with online gaming and other such popular distractions. In our family the “game night” did not last long. We tried at least once a week 😆 (Checkers vs. Fortnite) but at least we TRIED!

This week school assigned a biology experiment which helped us better understand that what we take in — physically and psychologically — affects us; much like the celery which is now “becoming” blue (that’s food color in the water 💧that the celery is drinking) … to better understand osmosis. Yes 👍

No lava lamps for us this time. One site by Good Housekeeping even has over 20 experiments one can do at home ! Additionally “try” three (3) things 🏡 with a discussion and a “debriefing” afterwards of how your body feels and tension/stress is released. A great way to get them started to appreciate Psychology! Yes 👍

  1. Body scan and emotional “state” before and then after your 20 minute walk or bike ride
  2. Guided meditation or yoga poses with music 10 minutes
  3. Coloring books for relaxing the brain

And who knows …what the kids will become ! Keep sharing and keep caring.

They deserve the Purple Heart 💜 today

Valentine’s Day 2021 quarantines, lockdowns, economic destruction, the importance of “bubbles” to keep safe, people being afraid 😱 of their neighbor — “have they done a rapid test?”, “What if they’re positive?” We “run” to the florist as it’s one of the few open businesses (thankfully) to buy a flower 🌹 or a stuffed animal …this year those “eyes” got me 💕 as well as that nice morning surprise of cake 🧁 heart-shaped fruit 🍎

Catching your breath under the 3 layer mask, lack of oxygen likely affecting our brain, for the “nth” time a trip to the supermarket. This time, to buy extra rice and mushrooms for the risotto, a bit of chocolate 🍫 for the marketed occasion, supplies for a celebratory glass of red wine 🍷 for those flavonoids — good for the adult heart. Speaking of which ….this year one bakery (Veneti) had a great Valentine’s bread 🍞 idea in the shape of a heart. St. Valentine was Roman Catholic of Italian decent — his relics are dispersed and displayed around the world (Rome, Italy 🇮🇹 and Dublin, Ireland 🇮🇪) for those “seeking” love 💗 with one relic buried on the island of Lesvos (Lesbos) Greece 🇬🇷. This island has been in the news quite a bit these last years due to the Mediterranean migration crisis with local populations opening their hearts but also suffering immense pressure and economic disasters of their own. “Let them have bread” might be a phrase that comes to mind here.

The Purple Heart 💜 is a U.S. military decoration given to those courageous wounded soldiers, or those killed in battle. Today, we dedicate thanks 🙏 to those workers who help us daily, who put up with customer rudeness, stock the shelves and risk their own health are exhausted and stressed, ‘forgotten key workers‘ — working in supermarkets, factories, pharmacies, flower shops, street cleaners, garbage collectors, to name a few …. so many songs that could be dedicated here. Today it’s Sting “The Shape of My Heart” 💗❤️

Leftover plants 🪴transforming thoughts

Dolly Parton, is a force of positive energy and humour. She once said “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.” Last year, several posts were written about rainbows 🌈 as we sometimes are burdened by over-thinking or over-working. Some “drown” from all the rain 🌧 of exhaustion and negativity. However, we need to remember our umbrella ☔️ of health literacy. Self-talk, self-care, social support and transformation of our surroundings. There is always a way…. to untwist your thinking 🤔 change your path, get the support to make it through… Even the little fun-loving grasshopper was “taken in” by the hardworking ants 🐜 he made fun of if you remember the one from Aesop’s fables.

One of my good friends “took in” a baby turtle 🐢 she almost ran over on the road. Asian cultures say turtles are good luck. He/she now lives near her plants 🪴 next to her tree 🌲 which she has also nurtured since it’s growth/birth. Caring people nurture growth in all of us. My hope is for you to be as lucky to have some good people in your life like this. People who can help you with the “shelter” of sharing a cup of tea or a bowl of soup, take a walk with, and give you a pep talk. Like her turtle we all need a little protection once in a while. Particularly in winter months, times when real or experienced mental “darkness” may attempt to take over. Do something for your physical, mental, and spiritual life —don’t forget the light — one lucky turtle !

Add color to your life with good words, deeds, changes, think of transformers. More color to your life in the form of plants can increase your oxygen levels helping any home in bleak winter months be happier and healthier ….and maybe a good bowl of soup 🥣 akin to the series “Chicken Soup for the Soul”!

Featured plants: Holly, spider plant, poinsettia

Many plant species have “migrated” from international sea travel and it turns out that the well-known Xmas plant poinsettia (in Greek called Αλεξανδρινό) has come from parts of South America. Certain species can grow several meters high and I’ve seen white, red, pink versions in many places. What a great idea to add to your home 🏡.

Why not keep those leftover plants 🪴? Add some pressed flowers 🌸 in your journal pages that you can find years later to remind you and reflect fondly on those beloved memories? Many young people don’t keep hard cover journals anymore, but I say bring it back… there is proof that writing has a specific connection to your neurological system as some claim that by changing some writing you can even affect behaviors (anger and disorganization for example). Remember to share new and old books — Let them have books 📚 and cheesecake! 📚

“These are a few of my favourite things …and then I don’t feel so bad …” Sing 🎶 it Julie! She “transformed” the von Trapp family in the Sound of Music 🎼 movie! The real story about the Austrian family may surprise you (real Trapp family) 😲

Think of your “favourite things” to help you over a tough period and take a walk to “healing” nature!

Planning meals, the Idaho Plate Method, Families, traditions and lockdowns

There are many different families — singles, couples, big and small. Eating right and making it easy, while not over-worrying about “proper nutrition” is a constant concern I hear. The lockdown has helped some people “learn” more and discover hidden talents, while others are struggling with their own melancholic tendencies or even “Zoom fatigue” (I’m sure this will be added in a future Diagnostic manual!) . This post is about food 🥘 mix-and-match ideas and tips, with some traditional recipe ideas!

Start off thinking slow cooking …. and healthy “fast” foods going back to ancient times. Anyone see the recent post on the Ancient Pompeii food stand? Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus’ noted simple healthy combinations leading to the “basis” of modern diets with his writings about Mediterranean food, herbs and cooking. Do you know why bitter Oregano is added to Greek salad? It has antiseptic qualities and wards off bacteria which get worse in the hot 🥵 Mediterranean sun 🌞.

If one is lucky to come from a family whose roots are based in gardening, farming, and Mediterranean cooking — one of the healthiest diets in the world — it adds to one’s “food literacy” an important part of health literacy, increasing the value of seasonal foods\eating. This all might seem easy, but it’s not to everyone. In times of financial imbalance, food scarcity, disinterest, or lacking access (e.g. urban poor neighborhoods complain about food “deserts” lacking produce or markets); thus, challenges will ensue. However we live in the digital age and we can learn. Current efforts of sustainable urban gardens and food collaboratives contribute positively globally !

There are always things to learn and share. Asking amazing cooks and “superwomen” (or men) helps one gather excellent recipes and ideas. Remember, it’s important to have the ‘rainbow colors’ fruits (fresh or dried) and vegetables (fresh or frozen) in our daily diets as much as we can. Eat mindfully
🧡 checkout some tips for various physical conditions by an amazing doctor, triathlete and longtime friend ChefMD Kathy💙

Here are some images of recent favorites 🏡 from quince with pork and salad, bean soup, rice with avocado and shrimp, mozzarella tomato with fresh (or dried) basil, traditional “trahana” and Covid immunity building supplements (vitamins and teas) with some room for a cinnamon-apple 🍎 tart…. and yes cinnamon is great to help us lose weight and ‘heat’ the system in the winter months!

One has to “think ahead” to pass on their “skills” to future generations especially help teens and young adults find a “purpose” and build life skills. There are fabulous food shows, we like Akis’ food lab. We also encourage young people to learn about sustainability and such things as urban gardens are great! During winter months, we need to give ourselves an OK ✅ to eat more comfort foods and not over stress about calories. Sparingly 1 Wine 🍷 or 🍺 1 glass is fine for adults, but we aware of extra calories and of course we never drink and drive (think designated driver!).

NOTE 📝 We are not nutritionists here! No need for you to be wealthy to afford food “supplies”, just food smart. If you’re told you’re a great cook and meal host, share your knowledge! Sharing is indeed caring.

Having worked over five years with people who have diabetes, some work with anorexia and obesity recovery from eating disorders, being in tune with the “science” of diets and food resources, having family working in eating establishments (from restaurants to schools), and experiencing the lockdown — including sometimes working and eating too late, meeting and cooking with a ‘master chef’ years ago, many things “rubbed off.” What works and what doesn’t, reality of time and money, cultural issues (e.g. no lard for me despite having had some good fried chicken in the southern U.S.!). Here are a few good tips:

❤️ 6-8 glasses of water 💧 daily including tea (morning or midday) or 1 cup black coffee — with an extra glass of water, are a great way to retain your necessary body fluids. Summer months +2-3 glasses and more fruit!

❤️ Always eat breakfast, be a good role model to your children. Your body is like a 🚗 car, it cannot run on “fumes” (water and coffee are nice but EAT some protein!). If your kids like the sugary cereals mix all up with bran or cornflakes, add some fresh or dried fruit inside or on the side — you’ll feel better about it, and in the long-run they will too.

Choco balls and corn flakes

❤️ The Idaho plate http://platemethod.com/ method is easy to “visualize”— think half your plate of veggies (keep olive oil and lemon 🍋 nearby as it’s better than high calorie sweet sauces) use during lunch and dinner, you’re ahead of the “keeping healthy” game!

❤️ Learn about family food traditions — it’s ok to binge on the heavier calorie ones in the winter just take an extra walk (some smart phones even tell you how many steps you’ve done — aim between 8-10,000 steps daily). This year I learned about curing olives. We made some good meals like quince with pork chops; chestnuts 🌰 with walnuts and raisins stuffed in small to medium-sized turkey; a bean soup combination for Fall-Winter. Did you know that eating about six olives is equivalent to a small piece of meat for protein? 🧑‍🍳 A recent Epicurious food post had wonderful Dutch oven recipes, which one can easily use crock pots as well ….slow, easy, good for you, and your family, and of course delicious.

Despite mom’s chronic arthritis she still makes her traditional and awesome Christmas-New Year aromatic orange, cinnamon, cloves in fried dough recipe “tiganides” or “lalaggia” (they’re made in 2-3 different ways depending what part of the Southern Peloponnese) are a favorite to eat warm, plain or with aged cheese, as a breakfast alternative 😋 … families loved this during cold January. More traditional holiday foods are pictured in this article by Protothema.

❤️ Healthy snacks including protein shakes or bars between meals (XS bars and Body Key by Nutrilite / Amway are some favorites) for busy people, a small piece of dark chocolate every other day as a pick-me-up, accompanied with black coffee/espresso (kids need more calories so don’t be afraid of giving cookies) they also love apple 🍎 or peach 🍑 pie!

Whether you’re making browniesHome for the holidays w/ coconut 🥥 oil for winter or a peach tart for summer, they’re simply good !

I’d like to do an entire post on quince — it has a tangy flavor (wear gloves 🧤 when cutting up because it colors the skin) and is great with regular potatoes and meats like chicken or pork, oven-baked. It’s also amazing as a sweet preserve; eat plain or w/ strained yogurt. It’s high on selenium and kids like it too!

pre-cut quince and quince sweet preserves


❤️ Keep to a planned mealtime schedule as much as possible — lunch between 1-2 pm and dinner about 7 hours later (with a snack in between) is ok. There is a lot of talk lately about “metabolic types” and fasting periods. Note 📝 if you eat a bigger lunch, eat LESS for dinner. Dinner before 8(ish) is best. It’s simple, but not obvious. Think smart prep, some extra meals can be kept frozen, pre-cut salad kept in Tupperware-type containers (that can last up to a week!). Active kids need more snacks so keep yogurt, protein bars/shakes, and fresh or dried fruit close at hand!

We aspire to ‘mix-and-match’ foods, store and reuse for future meals and an ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ philosophy!

❤️ Aspire to an Eat, Pray, Love philosophy as our times make things difficult and it is vitally important to keep the faith in times of uncertainty. This means appreciating what you have, mindful eating, forgiving and loving those dear to you, lending a hand to a neighbor and your community (via donations or in-kind goods). Do what you can, you will feel better in the end! And yes, when you are creative and DO more, especially good cooking and baking you become stronger and more resilient to our difficult times. Remember it is not just about YOU, it is about all of us, big and small, all creatures, a new philosophy for a healthier life.

“So many things are possible, just as long as you don’t know they are impossible.”

–Norton Juster

Smile 😊 it’s a NEW Year!

We are turning the “chapters” of our life pages, renewal and moving ahead. Smile it’s a new year 2021 — 365 new days for ideas and renewed hope and life chances!

One of the best “calendars” I have received and a great message “Smile” 😊 try new things and develop gratitude …. what 3 new things will you try? I’ve outlined a few ideas 💡 ….

Let’s shed light on things we’ve neglected
  1. Enrol in online classes with 365 quotes by Persian poet Rumi? OR some belly dance classes to shed pounds\kilos? There are many courses like DailyOm or sites like MindValley that are certainly interesting!
  2. Clean house, clean out old habits, particularly those bad ones that affect your health (body, mind, spirit), as well as your community’s well-being. (Respect your own body and build immunity, think about your ‘cave’ be less selfish, respect others & refresh cities).
  3. The calendar 📅 of happiness ? Check out this link (actionforhappiness).
Begin 2021 with new ideas & new energy
Some guided meditations are useful instead of only passive breathing, tap into your active mind !