Shuck those peas…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.
It is strawberry season so pick those as also gaining beta carotene and vitamin C with low-fat Loquat (in Greek “mousmoula” μούσμουλα). All Seasonal foods!
Think health.

Pea pods and seasonal goodies

Now that we have a bit more time and maybe saved some money 💰 from not going out …while not making money due to pay cuts or unemployment, we have to think smart. It’s part of our financial literacy. Think cash.

Being a part of free Zoom talks like one I recently participated in with storytelling can help keep your mind busy keep social as well as share in gratitude. We need to flourish rather than relish in self-pity. Support each other.

Lately I’ve been giving new meaning to the line “playing with food” getting ideas from Pinterest or beyond ….Think creative.

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

“MAY” Days

We’re getting out of Lockdown …..this May!!  

There are many types of people, but along with all those positive posts and the ‘hoopla’ of the stay-at-home movement, there are a lot of angry (perhaps depressed) people. We all need to be transforming this negative energy into positive energy somewhere else….

“May day, May day!” Recently, in the beautiful community of Anogia (Ανώγεια), Rethymno region near the Psiloritis Mountain in Crete, there were some senseless killings over some misunderstandings and turf for sheep-goats. Two people wound up dead by gun shots, and a potential vendetta is ensuing. This is not unlike gang violence, domestic violence, or what we are seeing in several U.S. states where people “took to guns” over rights. As a matter of fact, the sales of guns in the U.S. have been on the rise due to the fear of COVID-19. Is this what we want ? On the one hand the reality of the pandemic and on the other, human intolerance?

Have we changed much since the biblical story of Cain and Abel ? We are all prone to anger. Sometimes it is necessary in the face of injustice or helping someone in a tough situation.  But we caution about the “Amygdala Hijack” (see this Healthline article) where our aggression or fear take over when and we react in ways we regret. You must ‘beat it’ before it beats you or your family …. some of you can read Anger Management for Dummies or read/listen The Anger Trap or other great books on anger management, or how about an on-line course? and as always seek  support via therapy.

Do something creative, gather flowers, make wreaths, plant a garden and think of bringing in the positive energy into your world honoring rebirth. Appreciate the beauty of nature. Be inspired by Ron Finley the “Gangsta Gardener” who helped transform urban settings, helped young people dream again!  Getting back in touch with the earth…. he fostered health literacy and became an example from current and future generations in some U.S. inner cities. 

The word that represents the month of “May” comes from the Roman-name goddess “Maia” (which also in Greek is the name of the midwife who delivers babies). Most make May wreaths while some dance around the May Pole in most parts of Europe (and in the U.S.). In my home we throw flower petals around the house to bring in the positive sun-spring energy. We have never needed this so much as this year during the lockdown! 

The colors of all flowers and plants make any room brighter, our mood lighter.  If you ever get a chance to go to visit flower shows even better! This year we could not gather in indoor flower shows unless in the outdoors, as the one I visited a few years back in Genoa, Italy called “Euroflora” (Euroflora_Genoa_2018). A gathering from various landscapers and florists demonstrating their creativity on the grounds of a pavilion, overseeing the sea. We learned about the plants and blossoms of the world and how we could make our own home and neighborhood/community even better. Granted some of us suffer from sringtime allergies but these can be in-check and helped over the long term.

We all may be stuck in the ‘shoulds’ of life some of which may be necessary for our daily survival. For example, we should eat at least 5-a-day fruits and vegetables (some people say 3-a-day in different colors is enough), drink 6-8 glasses of water daily, exercise at least 10 minutes daily, sleep 7-8 hours as part of our self-care routine (indeed what health literacy is all about).  Be careful about those little gremlins of ‘shoulds’ and read a useful book, Taming Your Gremlins. The author even came up with a perfect ‘mind map’ of all of this negative self-talk (see example).

Let’s focus on the power of affirmations . Messages that may affect us both positively or negatively. Thus, MAY you…

  • walk in sunlight to warm your soul
  • hear the birds and bees sing their happy songs
  • feel butterfly wing “kisses” on your sun-touched skin
  • understand that you are not alone — we all should share our collective experiences and support each other.
  • choose the beautiful ‘flowers’ of your thoughts and heart to remind yourself of better things in difficult days that may come!

Get a little crazy …

  1. Create out of boredom — Lockdown may not be the “introvert’s paradise” as once thought according to a recent MIT technology review. Since librarians tend to be more introverted, they actually took the time to put all these books in order … wow, that’s crazy !
  2. Transform our lives — Some think it’s crazy to “live” more from our internet connections than be “in touch” with the real world. A lot can be said about this… it seems the Matrix is becoming a closer reality. Scary. Several articles are written about how things will be “different” and how we need to transform our thinking (see April VOX article featured in Apple News). Though I did like the idea of change in the context of young people building resilience by building educational partners, presented by Harvard Professor Gil Noam who represents the PEAR Institute.
  3. DreamsIt was just a dream. I thought I was losing my mind when I was holding and reading an upside down newspaper written in hieroglyphics, while all these cars were leaving a parking lot quicker than I could count to ten. It is as if Walmart or Public were having a sell-out. I woke up realizing that this was a lucid dream and it is not unlike what people have been reporting they experience due to Covid19 (see National Geographic article)
  4. Health illiteracy — I realize how much people follow their leader but to the point of over 100 people calling in a hotline in Maryland (US) asking for the medicine that Trump prescribed? That is absolutely nuts, …see article in Business Insider. Definitely shows how health illiterate and outright dangerous people can be. Guess what people ? They’ve cut the chloroquine studies short due to safety concerns so please don’t go there!
  5. Funny dances in home. I mimicked something from this Fortnite character called “Deadpool”. Well at least Fortnite is trying to promote physical activity! or how about doing a line dance or better yet a “line” dance as you are on hold for those 30 minutes waiting to get your order in… the experience can be exhausting and then when it arrives the quality is questionable….
  6. Business and socializing — two sides of the coin. It turns out that constant online work is exhausting . However if you space things right you’ll be less crazy and more happy as it’s a “coping” tool. I had TWO online friend meetings in one day. Coffee ☕️ by day and Champagne 🍾 by night! Hey it might be one of my only Friday eves I actually “found” time. Yes we know our brain is tired from those little screens …. use Zoom to your benefit! We had a friend’s meeting with champagne or wine in our favorite crystal glasses. Time zone difference did not matter. One friend was baking her awesome cookies while another celebrated her teen son’s birthday (mind you he was having another party with his friends on-line I’m the room next door). Then there are those ZOOM parties and how to host them…..
ZOOM Trivia, crazy stuff!
Like tulips in the Springtime…. FLOWERBAR in Alimos

Caution Caution no health literacy alert! Be careful what you drink….

No Trump Cocktail for me …thank you

“Oh we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy “… lyrics of SEAL “Crazy” hit me every day as we are almost at almost 2 months of lockdown.
Some crazy 😜 tips to help your days …like
we did and still more to come . Oh yeah my fish “Tiko” has a new bodyguard in the form of a nutty bird …

In all seriousness now. It is almost two months later in Lockdown. We are doing our best despite the long-term economic “slaps” we have been given, especially by the EU! This latest Bloomberg article talks about the “humbled Greeks” teaching the world about lockdown and Covid19. OR is it a bit of “learned helplessness”? Despite constant “punches” resilience building dictates that for us to survive we need to have health literacy!

The country’s HLS-EU data dictates that half of the people are considered health literate though there are declines in the over 50 years old groups and those less educated groups (no surprise). Thus why reading about aging and caretaking can take it’s toll….. check out the book chapter in the International Handbook of Health Literacy!

AntigoneD with “Cousteau”… her hair even matches with the flowers 🌺, crazy!

LOVE THOSE PETS, The flowers, the hair! I am in with the creative genius Antigone D… thinking of some good stuff to share with you in the near future…

Bacalao, and that little ‘bugger’ Corona gave me an opportunity!

Who would have thought the post about the outbreak of Coronavirus last January would have quickly lead to our social distancing and obsessive cleaning, and toilet paper hoarding. Our sense of trying to make sense of economic disaster, among other conspiracy theories, are all seemingly science fiction now come to life and talk of an Orwellian “1984”. All because of microscopic Coronavirus CoVID-19. And this my friends is NO JOKE.

March was national month in the U.S. for Colorectal Cancer, Kidney Disease, Nutrition, and Tuberculosis, and on the mental health side, awareness for self-harm. In the U.K. this was the month for Ovarian and Prostate Cancer. And internationally, March was Red Cross Month… a critical need at this point in time. Around the world we are seeing short-staffed, overworked healthcare workers, hospitals, and we wonder what about us? Can we follow the rainbow, as we continue to build on building health literacy about disease, pandemics, and help people reduce complications to disease through health education such as continued ‘smoke free’ efforts?

Starting last March to the beginning of this year I was working with a past dental student to educate 5th and 6th graders about not starting to smoke, becoming smoke-free communities, appropriately talking about health benefits including healthy teeth (April is Oral Health month). This year it will be very different, as we will offer a similar lecture via e-learning.

On the bright side, it has given me the opportunity to tie-in the COVID-19 issue with people quitting now, for healthier outcomes. I am giving a lecture “Are you Ready to Quit?” to a group of over 50 participants, and I could not possibly find so many participants to ‘make time’ under normal living situations…sad but true. That little critter ‘corona’ virus has made us slow down….. so much so that we will all be at least 3 kilos overweight this summer for lack of exercise (even walking)!

Last March 2019 in a grammar school

So now for my opportunity to educate you about increasing your Omega-3s with some good fish (not just vitamins) as that Nordic favorite, Bacalao. Love that vowel-filled word “bakalao” (Bakaliaro – μπακαλιάρο in Greek) a salt-preserved fish. Now that we are all on lock-down, we are going in for those freezer reserves.. we pulled our salted friend from the freezer and de-salted it by emerging it into water overnight, just in time for the traditional meal for Independence Day in Greece March 25th. Baked in a “plaki” style dish [Recipe sample] or fried with a milky type dough [Argyro’s recipe], are great for Bacalao… but of course be mindful of any food allergies you have.

This year we added some extra spices in preparation including cayenne pepper, paprika, wild oregano (antiseptic qualities fight disease!)

Last year we were free of disease, and posted about free-floating flags and community health as signs of “allegiance” which is good and needed to survive in times of crisis. Living it now with COVID-19, a semi-unknown “enemy”. Little Coronavirus or COVID-19 caused a “butterfly effect” where we are forced to STOP and take a good look at ourselves, and for some of us plunge into our fundamental Maslow-type need for basic necessities. An article on what would Freud say about our hoarding of toilet paper in The New Yorker is priceless.

Two sides of a coin?

Sure we are all losing money, but think, some are making money (OK you can start on the conspiracy theories and the pharmaceutical industry!).

Too much screen time and kids in the house gaming all day. Also an opportunity to try something new, even something old like play cards or checkers, keep your distance.

Be vigilant about cleaning and leaving our shoes at the door. But also an opportunity to “gather within” and DO your Spring cleaning or go a bit beyond Spring cleaning….

Worries about having enough, but what about Less is more ? You can finally clean out all the food from your cabinets and freezers to make space for more. And if a neighbor doesn’t have spaghetti how about lending a hand? oh yes. And learning a new recipe online !

“I have nothing to do”, really ? All this off- or online stuff just makes for a brief adjustment. Maybe we all NEED to slow down. Busy streets are silent and we can actually hear the birds and see more fish 🐟 in non-murky waters now.

Take care of your plants. Try talking to your plants, walking up and down your balcony or a quick jog around the house …. note: if your plants talk back to you, then it is time to call in that mental health hotline!

Those poor pets are exhausted during lockdown…. dear Sylvie here had her daily fill of walking, she’s not even my dog! All animals teach us that they love unconditionally. She does not care if we pet her WITH or without our gloves …and yes it is important during this time to at least walk in open spaces at least 2 meters away (about 6.5 feet) for 30 minutes at least 4 times a week on good days (for many of us living in lockdown, SMS is required).

You will always be free, a temporary situation will not take that away. Most people get angry because they are inconvenienced or stuck in old patterns of thinking. They are impatient. Maybe it’s time to LEARN to adjust to change. Try Participating in Zoom or TEAMS e-platforms. On the other hand, get away from the screen and read some poetry about those little things that matter.

Your loved ones will make it through and better care for themselves during this time. So, you won’t be in perfect shape this summer or maybe you will with strengthening exercises like yoga and meditation. Self-care is vital and this includes getting support!

Take care of our personal health, as our governments try to adjust to constantly changing data, and the unknown. Enjoy that wine or beer in moderation (Mind the Cup!). Why not have it be a Corona a great Mexican beer as we don’t want them losing business! Do we?

Why not a Corona beer? To your health!

Follow the rainbow 🌈

At no other time have we needed to “bear the storm” to take a good look at ourselves and see the tragedy of the Global connectedness of the COVID-19 and the possibilities for a new way of thinking. It even came out in my cards (Qcards that is).

Somewhere over the rainbow as sung by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz is timeless ….a dreamer is always that. At a cognitive level having a strong imagination makes for a healthy mind if one keeps it “sharp enough”.

Thus why we need to exercise our body and mind. In times of stress we all need to find creative outlets to keep us far away from negativity of “darknesses” whether these are bad eating habits, bad relationships, or bad community energy. Especially now! I enjoy this video and audio from Riya Sokol who “thanks” the Coronavirus (See link).

We need humor and support, meditation and prayer for mental health, need to eat all the colors of the nutritional rainbow (or take great quality supplements like vitamin C, D, E, or Omega -3 like Nutrilite brand) if we want to stay healthy.

Many crave sweets 🍭 and some of this is emotional eating …. the latest CNN news brief got into what to do about craving carbs? Remember the power of those chestnuts 🌰 or those little kumquats? It’s fine to eat some chocolate or ice cream but we need to keep to the balance with available healthy foods or even vitamins. As a matter of fact building up our immune system is vital in preventing flu or other communicable disease. Especially in times of stress!

Before the “stay home” times on a cloudy rainy day a rainbow 🌈 popped up…and stayed there for a good 15 minutes. Even when I encountered the negative messages or red graffiti writing of “hate” μίσος (misos) in Greek. It is time to reflect and to change both personally and globally. To take personal and community responsibility.
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It’s easy to get lost in all the negative energy but you need to be a transformer. You can learn to take action against the negative energy and take on some positive cause and be like the beautiful rose of winter. Yes we have a lot to do and we MUST support our medical and public health infrastructure. I see this as an opportunity to:

Be creative — Play music for your neighbors or sing 🎶. All those great old songs by the Italians on their balconies are such a gift of strength and inspiration. Try to learn a new recipe and look at the food supply you already have as it’s not so easy to rush out to the supermarket! Draw in one of those destress books. New games with the kids — we started board games again! Learn about your family history. Sew again, make some masks for the health workers (see Forbes article) knit that sweater…. on your balcony for some extra sun and vitamin D!
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Understand social distancing — it does not mean isolation. It’s been reported that introverts are being more active by necessity via e-platforms and extroverts are learning to focus more within. Stars are helping spread the stay home 🏡 motto thank you!

Increase health literacy — for your skills building for nutrition, self-care, home cleaning (see SELF article, and Spring cleaning and Kondo’s method), and community health. We already have with videos on Coronavirus especially on how disease spreads and to not overburden the public infrastructure. I especially like this one Coronavirus explained.

Be less selfish — at the supermarket (do you really need more than 3 sets of toilet paper? why not use less to begin with ?!). Do we really need to pollute so much ? The noise reduction and emissions from cars and trucks have gone down so much people are seeing clear skies, fish 🐟, hearing the birds singing! Folks the earth 🌍 CAN survive without us but can you survive without her?

As Dolly Parton in her southern belle matter-of-fact voice once said

Taking the risk or putting on the mask ?

The UK initially approached the CoVID-19 as a “herd mentality” the idea hat we will all get it and some will survive while others not… what do you think about that? Especially if your culture has a lot more intergenerational interactions — like the Mediterranean! Would you take the risk ? It turns out a large part of risk has to do with self-efficacy and the “can I do something about it?” mentality to include “is it easy for me to do?”

There are 5 easy things we CAN do:

  1. Wash hands, clean common areas and wipe off door handles, phones, light switches with alcohol.
  2. Be careful of being around large groups of people (social distancing)
  3. Follow classes, liturgy, talk to friends, e-banking on-line.
  4. ** Do EVERYTHING we can to boost our immune systems **
  5. Stay Home as much as we can! Continue to help vulnerable populations — those older or with chronic health issues stay home 🏡! Our social marketing campaigns run often and seem to be working slowly for now. Harder but necessary to do with kids…especially common areas like beaches, parks.

Due to a recent case in the public news station ERT (ΕΡΤ) now the journalists are working either off line, at a distance physically, and even wearing gloves as we see here the journalist fixing his glasses. This particular news was focusing on reminding people to not go to church and certainly not take communion as those asymptomatic could easily affect others!

“Open” News with Pappadopoulos
  • About wearing gloves and a mask — it seems that the ones with the dust filter are best, but of course we need to wear it right . I’ve seen people cover their mouth only, NOT! There are the overpriced ones and of course panic as some may “not have” one !
  • How about making masks? I loved this link from Deaconess Hospital 🏥

One Greek newspaper actually gave a free mask to its readers while the article cover reads “biological warfare: the Coronavirus”…. worthy of 2€ rather than paying 6+ euros in some pharmacies or the black market! Well the newspaper was nothing special but we now have an extra one since pharmacies do not!

Remember to wash hands before putting it on!

Biowarfare is not new concept, despite what we’ve been told, and this possibility of “getting in the wrong hands” is no scenario from the movie Twelve Monkeys. We’ve known since 1999! It shouldn’t shock us when the Bill Gates Foundation is giving money for a potential vaccine (no they didn’t “create” the 🦠 virus !)

It is understood that we have a lot of people and governments interested in the idea of unethical or “dark” science? I mean we get this even from stories of dark magic — think Harry Potter and the “dark lord” Voldemort, or the dark wizard.

Notable to viruses or diseases are similar words used even with the devil or Lucifer as it seems. We have archetypes and descriptors like the You-Know-Who, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, etc. I wonder if one day we can all “joke” about this millennial plague ? Thus the cartoon festured here is priceless!

Let’s support our medical and public health personnel in all they do to keep everyone healthy and understand all the difficult circumstances. In Portugal and Greece we recently stood outside our balconies for 5 minutes at night to 👏 clap in thanks!

In closing, would you trust your politician if they took the chance? No thanks for that one Boris …. let’s take a look at our personal habits and keep talking prevention shall we?

The women of the day

She was #166 waiting patiently her turn in a public hospital while others (and she) were unaware of her condition eventually aware she was carrying the Co-VID19. She took responsibility and informed others for the need of quarantine.

She was Asian who was living in Northern Italy and was told “go away, we don’t want your virus!” She wins the approval of her colleagues as bystanders intervened and she’s now trying to be see how and what we need to work on in the name of prejudice and in times of panic.

She baked all day, kneading the dough into perfect braids with her arthritis ridden fingers. Those infamous Greek koulourakia. They were given to several people living alone, in need for comfort food, and even some intergenerational fun.

Koulourakia for a better world !

I did my part Recently in an internet radio station in Northern Greece in educating the lay public on associated issues, the need for preventive measures of viruses, and the importance of health literacy (Watch/listen to this). We might be getting better in containment but still as with all serious health threats a “thorny” situation (take a read of “A rose in winter”)
You may not know these women but you can relate to their actions, and we want them to keep healthy and strong!

May you blossom like the almond and cherry trees as they quickly change leaves to form fruit. You are vital to humanity’s survival.
Congratulate and hug a woman today for just being her.
March 8th, International Woman’s Day!

An urn…becomes us….store the FACTS!

Get the facts stored in your head right! These days of constant misinformation you need to get trusted sources. I’m calling this the “urn” of health literacy ….look at past history, collective knowledge and speak up for your health! It’s critical in periods of pandemic diseases like the CoVID19 (Coronavirus) we get the right info like this from the Toronto Doctor Peter Lin (video “Get the Facts”)

“To be or not to be an urn”, a vessel used as storage in the ancient world to decor in our days…exquisite craftsmanship. A source of beauty by day or night. But the “urn” as a metaphor is your storage for health information and increasing your health literacy !

On the island of Corfu (or “Kerkyra” as we say in Greek) there is a tradition of throwing various ceramic vessels out of one’s window or balcony to celebrate Easter commemorative of Jesus‘ overcoming death via the resurrection. I know I’m all about “safety first” with this one ….staying out of the way of its fall.

How functional they are and practical in nature? This artisan on the isle of Naxos turn pieces of clay into works of art.

But this time we cannot afford another crack…raise your health literacy today and help others too!

Thinking about Palindrome Dates!

Today is a special day because as a “palindrome” date which apparently only come around every 900+ years! As a matter of fact 02/02/20 was another one. Some people believe in this so much they got married on this date, others sign special papers for better luck, let’s play the lottery! Superstition is an interesting topic in its own rite as some people may be affected even in their health outcomes so keep in mind Superstition & Health (post)

First sign of Spring….the bees 🐝 were happy too


February 22 is World Thinking Day for the Girl Scouts! They celebrate equity, diversity, and inclusion which are so important for young girls worldwide….and since some of us love Girl Scout cookies a reminder of those goodies too!

let’s think together for a better globe!

Companies are smart about marketing and send tailored messages and gifts like free coffee (thanks Starbucks). Happy birthday 🎂🎉 to us then! Note historical and popular figures: U.S. President George (Washington), Actress Drew (Barrymore), Outback wild animal handler Steve (Irwin), Founder of Toastmasters clubs Ralph Smedley.

One thing likely in common is public speaking, empathy, leadership, positive thinking and community building! Let’s continue these qualities and keep special traditions going.

Lovin’ That little Kumquat

Loving those little kumquats all year long

Lovin’ is in the air, likely “Eros” the god of love or that little Cupid is creating so much confusion …. even at the world level the Coronavirus has been renamed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization that apparently is a “bit chaotic” as the virus causes the disease but nomenclature creates communication problems (see Science Magazine Feb. 2020 article).

In our attempts to keep healthy by preventing disease or flu we need to keep the immune system healthy. So let’s see if a vitamin C packed little squirt with an exotic name can do the trick? The little orange “Kumquat” gives us a powerful punch that we LOVE 💕

Kumquat in winter can be enjoyed all season long whether in raw, sweet, baked or liquor form. From Europe to the Americas it’s quite popular among food circles and traditions. The first time I encountered those little odd-shaped orange fellas I was in Florida and still recall that bittersweet taste. Years later I would travel to the island of Corfu (or Kerkyra), where kumquat is “queen” as one of the favored liqueurs is traditionally made and trees can be found everywhere.

It is such an impressive bittersweet taste one can eat them whole or slice them up in salads , candied, or with meat dishes the Chefs choices are exquisitely delicious and nutritious. Check these facts out:

  • high in fiber and good for diabetics or those with pre-diabetes especially in winter months when everyone needs to add more fruit and vegetables in their diets!
  • as citrus naturally high in vitamin C, with small amounts of vitamin B and E, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. And since one can eat their small seeds whole kumquats provide a small amount of omega-3 fats
  • their essential oil can be used in household cleaning products as the aroma can help freshen a stale room and create a positive atmosphere (check out the plant therapy site).

My dear readers sending you hugs and love 💕 for this month and always, being grateful to friends who sent cards and wishes from near and far. Keep healthy and be lovin’ those kumquats!