Men’s International Health Day — stay alert and healthy!

November 19th is International Men’s Health Day reminding men to keep healthy, among other things special focus on heart 💜 health, skin health, and checking for testicular or colon cancers (talk with your doctor or paediatrician— yes testicular issues can happen with teens too!). Let’ normalise our body for better health….. it seems that our media alters our perception about being ‘perfect’ and so this post is dedicated to the many males that have told me about their health and sexuality issues, in my attempt to help them continue to ask questions and seek professional advice. Furthermore, I was sent this ‘talisman’ from an archaeologist friend to prompt interest in this area… after all ‘sex sells’ as they say. A 2022 article in Men’s Health focused on the Best and Worst Cities for Longevity but one may not be able to afford good food, have little time to exercise, and their immediate environment may be dirty, have toxins and in essence be hazardous for their health. Hopefully history can help us learn more, and continue to increase our health literacy.


1) The talisman of the phallus for “good luck and fertility/ health” from Roman times, gives historical context of the importance to men and women. Interestingly around the globe (except in Greece) there are temples dedicated to Priapus however he was banned from Olympus, perhaps there was a reason? Aphrodite (‘Venus’) in the statue found in the Archaeological Museum in Athens shows amusement but is ready to ‘strike’ with her sandal a very ‘eager’ Pan, while Eros holds him back…..

2) The statue of Don Quixote (Quichote) and and his trusted companion sidekick is his squire Sancho Panza found in Madrid, Spain.

  • Sancho Panza is a short, pot-bellied peasant (reminding men to keep healthy and share their problems with smart witty friends!)
  • Don Quixote of La Mancha was published by Miguel Cervantes in 1600s and considered a worldwide classic!

Freud talks about ‘penis envy’ but one could argue there is also ‘vagina envy’ and it seems more men like to cross-dress than women do, so that says something. Furthermore, since it comes up ⬆️ often in discussions (pun intended)…we thought to share about the “obsession with the penis” — read more in Science Direct article by K. Wylie published in 2008. There is also a very extensive blog post about “the Phallus in Ancient Greece” making the point that many ancient cultures revered it as a symbol of health and fertility. Beyond this, I published in 2006 about AIDS research 🧐 but we are still dealing with an endemic situation… Good to stay alert 🚨 and be safe.

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)

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!

Happy May & workers rights !

Happy May and what great spring traditions!

A brief history of the Maypole tradition

Everyone has the opportunity to “dance” and socialize (now that masks are off in many countries) as it contributes to good health including minimizing risk for longer-term health complications due to inactivity!

The other day we discussed employee safety and preventive measures. The field itself is called “occupational health and safety” — see OSHA and EU-OSHA, I am truly a proponent of occupational safety measures as they have the biggest short and long-term impacts!

This is what health ”literacy“ involves, reading up ⬆️ to also help yourself and your workers … since May 1st has been additionally celebrated for workers rights!

Post-Covid small businesses are continuing to struggle w/ making enough money and covering costs (particularly now with high energy bills) to be “open” to eco-changes and keeping their staff (many millennials often don’t stay in longterm jobs or many employers hire on a temp basis!). However, it’s important to care for the health and safety of workers which increases confidence in the manager and the agency – company.

Protective plexiglass and face masks 😷 should be required for all manicurists!

Indeed our beautician-friend and small business owner were well aware of what to do for safety of clients as is also most importantly safety for the employees! I congratulated them on being a health literate small business, I only wish I could give them a HL certificate… something to think about in a future “association”!

My daisy-inspired design and nail outcomes are evidence of a happy duo! And do remember your May flowers and local traditions to keep up with an ever-changing world.

Happy May to all the little and big creatures!

Daisies for everyone!

It’s Spring! The trees are budding, wildflowers are blooming everywhere, birds are singing to entice their mates… we might be experiencing a bit of friskiness from “Spring fever” 😻😺😜and we want to be out (particularly post covid lockdowns)!! Small creatures are enjoying the flowers as much as we are, we are walking and cycling more! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🤎 This is exactly what nature intended, if we are mindful to notice and experience.

The more we learn about each flower, appreciating their diversity, we are in awe of the master of the universe. Daisies are the cousin of sunflowers — a very pregnant Katy Perry, chosen here as the Spring symbol of fertility w/ her appropriate song ”Daisies”. 🎼

Katy Perry ”Daisies” (c)2020

Many of us used to play “he/she loves me, loves me not” picking off the daisy petals, to allow our thoughts and cares to drift away. Maybe getting creative ideas, or simply thinking 🤔 of an upcoming May wreath? Picking those mini-daisies of chamomile will be our next blog post.

Recalling positive memories is a great way to fight off melancholia (sadness) as you recall joy is that feeling not far behind! Science proves that fighting depression must involve physical activity such as a 20 minute daily walk, getting in some sun doses of vitamin D (nature’s natural antidepressant and an antioxidant), great for our overall wellness.

Pick some wildflowers to share, as it makes everyone smile 😊 and for your workspace — a great stress reliever helping create a pleasant feeling to (hopefully) get more work done. Try the Pomodoro technique which allows for more cognitive focusing with timed breaks in between. Now that’s some great health literacy this Spring !

Write ✍️ your daily goals accomplished after your “to do” lists. Keeps you positive.

Lucky 🍀 networks

March 17th is a big celebration of the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, who apparently was a Roman, and no snakes in Ireland! Great 😊 video ….things we did not know. I was lucky to grow up with many Irish and even met several Irish setter dogs … sweet auburn haired pets. Their good temperament makes for great pet therapy dogs.

Photo by Adam Fejes on Pexels.com

Even luckier a few years ago as we met up with colleagues at the last in-person conference in Dublin Ireland, sponsored by the International Health Literacy Association (i-hla.org), meeting with President and co-researcher, Dr. Kristine Sorensen. The importance of bonding and ”practicing” what we think, and teach / “preach”… like eating good food, using social support, always fitting in fun and a bit of music 🎵 and dancing, much exercising …images speak louder than words.
Happy Spring! 🍀 🌹 ☔️ 🌸

Think Fast…. blessed to have training

Every parent and maybe every teen should get First Aid training you can save a life. Last weekend my child from anaphylactic shock. Years ago it was my boss. Thankful to have done American Red Cross training years ago, and continuing to build health literacy for myself and others through today.

It was an awkward moment for one of my Supervisors a brief treatment psychologist, a vulnerable moment where he turned blue from some food he was eating. Running over instinctively as part of Procedural memory I knew what to do, I wrapped my arms around his upper waist made a triangular fist under the diaphragm giving him the Heimlich manoeuvre. He was very lucky person that day as I prevented him from choking and saved his life. Right place right time.

Photo by Roger Brown on Pexels.com
Some mornings you’re extra glad to see the ”Peace and Friendship” stadium from a hospital window! As it says below in Greek ”Each sunrise 🌅 of our life is not a “given” it is a blessing” and we know this well as the country of Greece recently mourns a beloved political leader, Fofi Gennimata, and her long battle with cancer.

As health literacy month comes to a close, some last October thoughts —

  1. Get trained in CPR and basic first aid
  2. Genetics are partly responsible but MAJOR role are our habits/choices for long-term health
  3. Remember screenings appropriate to your gender and life stage (some like dental care need to be done biannually for good oral health, pap tests for women, colonoscopies over 50, etc.)
  4. Anglo-Saxon and Traditions of the Americas like Halloween 🎃 are now popular throughout the world 🌎 so keep some healthy ideas going (pumpkin and nuts versus candy corn?)

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.

October 4th — World Animal Day

Elders, animals, compassion is more of what we need to help our communities become more health literate and learning patience and respect. October is health literacy month.

It’s more than “knowledge” it is taking the appropriate actions for your and other’s health and being advocates for local and global change. This is across the globe as it includes animals — October 4th world animal day to commemorate St. Francis of Assisi.

When I ask friends, what does your pet mean to you? or how did your pet help you during COVID lockdowns, the answers I get are consistent with the evidence that pets help by minimizing stress, furry animals in particular “give warmth and love” to their owners who attribute “good health” to these little (or big) creatures. Teaching children to take care of pets, including respecting the larger environment, helps them become more active in their communities.

Global Health Literacy goes to Taipei, Taiwan this year virtually (more to come on that later)! Keep learning about how you can contribute to your community’s pro-animal efforts:

  • Be generous
  • Be proactive about your health in understanding how to minimise stress
  • Get animals spade or neutered (microchips a must for house pets)
  • Respect all creatures big and small
  • Adopt and feed stray animals
  • Remember some animals are becoming extinct, educate yourself and donate to organisations like Greenpeace

A big Thank You to all the animals who posed for us for health literacy month !