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! 🍀 🌹 ☔️ 🌸

Fly kites not make war!

The globe is at war, and it ain’t pleasant. The phrase “Go fly a kite!” and accompanying physical act when one is angry 😡…. to give time to relax the intense emotions, breathe some oxygen and get some healthy sunshine 🌞 is so needed NOW by all of us, and so also the political “greediness“ …

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 what’s happening in the Ukraine, the fact is that both the Russians and Ukranians are mainly Eastern Orthodox.

However, the Ukranian Orthodox church split off the Russian Orthodox church Patriarchate in early 2019 (autocephaly) which likely set off Putin. Archbishop Daniel, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in U.S. commented asking for divine forgiveness of the former. Metropolitan Epiphanius of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine states that we as Christians, “as people of faith, we also have a weapon in our hands — and that’s a prayer.” (See Feb 25th article)

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. It is not as easy as it looks.

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!
The pure white Lily of the Valley…

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

Snow melts, let’s move on from the Covid pandemic !

The latest big news 📰 on the pandemic when trusted expert, Harvard doc and occupational health specialist Dr. Stefanos Kales speaks we listen. He was the first to address the preventive power of face masks during the pandemic and now says let’s “move on”! check out his interview.
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Recently many parts of the globe 🌎 experienced extreme snow ❄️ ⛄️ even as far as the Middle East. Just like some endemic diseases, climate changes are here to stay. But as with all we learn and move on.

A couple of years ago our post on “snow literacy” proves current today. The earth 🌍 of extremes — floods, snow emergencies in winter months, more floods and extreme heat 🥵 causing fire 🔥 in summer months.

This year started with a big “snow ball” in greater Athens, and all parts of Greece which are unaccustomed to so much snow… although children live for “forced snow days” — the perfect ‘powder snow’ can turn into sticky mayhem that can make many adults very unhappy and life can suddenly become treacherous on the roads or in the home (power outages or worse fires 🔥). It’s the first time that the National road had hundreds stranded causing the government an unneeded headache and necessity to reimburse drivers.  Some narratives still show that our snow literacy  ❄️  ⛄️ is severely lacking.

There are many types of snow that one can find from places like the ‘National Snow and Ice Data Center’ (Types of Snow, NSIDC). We all can remember at least once making those wonderful snow angels so why ruin that pleasantry with a tragedy film of small-town America which received low reviews this past decade (Snow Angels from the New York Times Review).

Snow melts, hence ice, hence slippage and likely injury.  You need to sweep and shovel the snow, throw sand or salt on it as it melts, and at night when it is colder tread carefully (including appropriate shoes, and car tires) or not at all.  Avoid slipping, sliding, to prevent injury. Of course on the other hand, some physical therapists, orthopedics and sports doctors will have some extra work!

Question #1 — do most societies experience high violent crimes especially by teens and young adults due to CoVid lockdown?  as these years are the highest age of ‘sensation-seeking behaviors’ and the pent-up energy needs to be redirected into a more positive societal outlook? 

Question #2 — can parents afford to not go to work because their kids stay home? Why do kids with few symptoms COVID positive need to stay home 🏡 more  than 4-5 days? Focus on immunity building and as for the snow, some municipalities do not have enough snow plowing machines, and worse no salt to throw on the ice.

Question #3 — unrealistic expectations from some people — do you expect the government to actually plow your front door and sidewalk ? 😱 change policy and change thinking, buy a snow shovel and salt. Take some personal responsibility. This learned helplessness attitude needs to change.

Yes indeed, snow literacy should be one of the fundamentals of survival and overall health literacy AND yes 🙌 we need to move on from a “pandemic”, the data speaks !

One might think it was the Swiss Alps! Attica, Greece 2022
Photo by Rulo Davila on Pexels.com

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 …

Rovaniemi winter survival

We take for granted what we have in most cities and towns, all year long. Cars and trucks that take us places, the local grocer or supermarket for our goods. Recall that before “all things mechanical” people were living off the land with resources given and their own passion, creativity, and will to survive. Animals have always played a big part in this for protection, ranging from fur for warmth (not only fashion as we now know — see past minks post), food, protection (think mountains and wolves) but also for travel, in the form of dog or horse drawn sleds.
Recently, this video came into my hands reminding me of the loud but fun snowmobiles, and the amazing dogs trained for the dogsled area in Rovaniemi, Finland. Don’t let the puppy 🐶 cuteness fool you as your hand can get bitten off in seconds (we were advised NOT to put our hands through the metal netting)!

Dogsleds and snowmobiles – Rovaniemi, Finland (Northern Lapland)

Beyond the tourist attraction, Imagine that these people not so long ago, LIVED and travelled with dog 🐕 sleds 🛷; turns out that the female dogs are almost always in the front because they keep the TRACK (they don’t get easily distracted), and immediately following the 2 strongest males in line with the other “Dog pack” …. Pretty amazing !
Harsh winters as the North Pole measures freezing temperatures and earlier bedtime routines since darkness falls quickly during winter but in the summer it is the land of the Midnight Sun as they are near the Arctic!

So what do people do to stay healthy? Locals as other groups around the globe are big on arts and crafts, hot drinks, berries collected and made into compote earlier in the Spring and summer. The traditional Shamans (in tents) may foretell your future, eating high fat or high protein meals (keep body fat going to bear tge cold — bear meatballs anyone?) as it is ok to gain those needed winter 5-10 kikos!! The kids love a good snowball fight, while adults shovel, sled-rides keeps kids active! I personally loved greeting Santa Claus 🎅🏻 with his long beard and winter cloak while we danced under the starry winter night with the Northern lights (known as Aurora Borealis) in the distance …. something we wanted to see clearly but due to weather did not, so it’s worth a trip back !

There are plenty of ice-hotels, for those thrill-seekers, as for our group we had some amazing hot soup with salmon, yummy 😋!!

Appreciative of those pre-Covid times and holiday memories from several years back.