After the storm


A great day, one of beach cleanup, and getting some much needed vitamin D from natural sunlight. Floods have become commonplace as a result of bad weather ⛈🌪 and deforestation due to fires 🔥 this past summer with one of the greatest ecological disasters on the isle of Evoia, as one friend said “apocalyptic”. A public transport bus in Attica was flooded as the driver misjudged a bridge and the passengers made a human chain to get out, several drownings — all reminisce cases of people we know who died — wrong place at the wrong time. 💔😥 Often in a rush to make it on time, we misjudge and create accidents, or lose a life.

This day was all about teamwork, beach cleanup after the storm, the benefits of volunteerism. Plastics, cigarette butts, beer cap bottles, old shoes, were some of our findings. So glad that cafes and restaurants are finally mandated to use paper straws. Thus, the lovely loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta, native to the region, won’t get the plastic ones we found (counted over 25!!!) stuck in their snouts.

“If I could remind people one thing for their own and other’s health — Slow Down and enjoy each moment!”

Author, October 2021

Thank God for seashells, and rainbows 🌈 and the promise of new beginnings. Great days ahead.

Be kind

It’s a virtue, we can all work on it and pass the message on to our children. Strive for a better world. This “Above Inspiration” video says it all, and a reminder of what matters.

Be Kind …. You may affect a life
  • Your rude neighbor or colleague — we all have them! Take a lesson from the late Mr. Fred Rogers, and his ”won’t you be my neighbor” inspired life work on public television (Academy Award).
  • Road rage is so intense that one has to grin and bear it. …. my mouthing “stupid” the other day to the lady with the silver Mercedes who tried flying through cutting us off, or the 30-something guy with the beard driving (anything but) SMART almost hitting me at the crosswalk as the light turned red …. nearly running I said, ”slow down you’re going to kill someone” maybe he will think about that next time? Instead of sarcastically mouthing ”idiot” 😊😇 try a smile instead !
  • Ungrateful People whom you’ve bent over backwards to help, introduced them to their (future) partner, help them find work, mentored them, maybe an ”EX” who should appreciate your raising their children (with little support, almost alone) and be grateful in your heroic efforts. At the expense of losing your precious time, they seemingly keep asking for more, or never ask you about your life and needs!
  • Friends opposed to you and your “political” viewpoints — from vaccinations or not, education reform, job security, seems more common these days as social media may be segregating us more than we know.
  • Your family and their (im)perfections. Need I say more?

After all, caring is good for your heart AND your health according to recent articles and think science ! There is a great Greek word that respects our humanity to be kind to all people called “philotimo” (φιλότιμο)…. Let’s keep it going.

Remember to say thank you and be kind!

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

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”:

Mind the gaps

A little girl 👧🏼 held her father’s hand while they waited for the Covid-19 results.
“I’m Fully vaccinated” he said.

Negative (sigh of relief)

Health centers have makeshift testing areas

“What if the vaccine helps only a few? Which vaccine? What about blood clots?” These are the questions from a group of worried chronic health sufferers. Then there are those breakthrough cases. There is no full proof answer, because we simply DON’T KNOW enough. There, I said it.

“Being forced to vaccinate violates my human rights” says an anti-vaccine midlife adult. And then there is the “selective population” vaccination… it almost sounds like a biblical reference.

The voice of denial has roots in fear …of the unknown

Being familiar with “trust” issues related to the Public Health Service (former name for CDC) this article resonated about the loss of a African American couple from Tuskegee, Alabama. Keep your masks 😷 on in public, and keep your distance please! A third “booster dose” is on the way, much to our dismay.

Many people keep the distance in less crowded areas (unfortunately not everyone does!)

A recent BBC article about UK experimenting with air filtered schools included is the use of ultraviolet rays to kill airborne viruses (remember “heliotherapy”?) 🦠 Plus, if your child tests positive the general guidelines are found on CDC and other sites

The World 🌎 Health Organization (WHO) has some great tips including the 3Cs to avoid — 1. Crowded spaces, 2. Close contact settings where people have close conversations with each other; 3. Confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation

I also liked this simple video with infographics as it’s easy for teens through older adults to understand by MedVizz

How long does coronavirus last inside the body?

More importantly in this “Russian roulette” of disease symptomatology we need to always remember what’s important !

What matters today — focus on the present 💝

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” 💗❤️