Leftover plants 🪴transforming thoughts

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

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

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

Featured plants: Holly, spider plant, poinsettia

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

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

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

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

Healing wounds and seeking rainbows

Pain is real, it’s subjective, collective, imagined, even infringed on you. Healing hurt and injustices may leave one a ‘scar’ of remembrance. Healing takes time. This June has been marked by a modern day “lynching” some say of George Floyd not marked by the silent protests of years past (see article) but of huge rallies where in some cities like L.A. the protesters reached over 20,000 persons of all colors and races, while in the UK statues of supposed slave traders were knocked down.

Racial disparities are referred to in health and this is also part of the Covid-19 numbers of many Black people who have died, and one of the “black lives matter” claims. We may not be ready for healing, but anger is a big part of this grief process (first referred by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and the Stages of Grief, not in this order — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).

I remember what it was like to get pushed around, put down, all for the sake of social games, backlash, for something I did not understand at the time in racial disparities and discrimination. For years I went home hurt and devastated, sometimes even from my “own people” until my mom showed up at my school to “take on” the situation. She was fair and she always stuck up for the underdog no matter what gender or race. Thus, I understood the tough cookie attitude of the mother in one of the best books I read — The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother (c) 1995. This book by James McBride a journalist who talks openly about his own life experience. We can destroy or hate, but if you want to build relationships you must build trust. Since trust has been my issue of study the last years, I’ve naturally been drawn to books like this one (faithfully read near the healing sea …) by Steve Covey.

“Sticks and stones, can break my bones but words will never harm me” a quote that always stuck as it struck a chord with me about strength. Whether you’ve been harassed, bullied, abused, dragged through the mud, when you’ve done nothing wrong. And even if you’ve done ‘something’ you might get away with it, get punished, no one deserves to be killed…. human emotions are real. We all need to see what is projected on us by other people, and for sure people make mistakes, big mistakes. There can be cause to complete distrust to jobs and institutions — we are seeing this clearly in 2020.

From pharmaceuticals to police departments, to government. People are getting beat up and killed for their skin color or their job. From the US to the UK, it’s all there. Guns, punches, fear, smear, anarchy or peace? You help decide. One Mayor went one step further to commemorate “Black Lives Matter” on the street. I say “all lives matter”… we are therapists. Speak truth, walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Help people find the antidote to racism, injustice on all sides.

Maybe you’ve been fighting for your life and for others, but it’s never enough… you get “doxxed” or “gaslighted” when it’s others who are at fault, but somehow they make you feel it’s you. You know what I mean. They don’t see YOU for you they see your appearance, they don’t ask questions, they assume you have “an agenda” are “privileged,” but never see the history and all the sacrifices made. There are others that live for power to “divide and conquer” — this proves to be worse for all years we’ve been working towards community health. Two steps forward, three steps back 😣

In the dark part of the day, like one of those 40 days and 40 nights, part of Covid-19 lockdown as with the biblical story of “Noah’s Ark” I saw the rainbow of hope and told the salesclerk as we looked up. We need to move on. The rainbow is all colors — in a prism coming together becomes white while the absence of color is black. Opposite sides of the spectrum but still together!

You can destroy and smash but deal with your inner demons …

We need to sit down and talk. Societies are built and destroyed in a moments notice. Some of this is intentional as I recall from the American History X movie (c) 1998, and the neo-Natzi movement. We often perceive and act on our fears and yes we know stereotypes and racist statements and actions exist. One of the best movies to witness this is Crash which won the Academy Award for best picture in 2004.

I kindly ask that we pray, for loss and healing, and that we don’t label everyone as being part of this global problem. Some countries like Greece have been enslaved and traded for years in antiquity and beyond technically were the same color and race! Again, power and conquest.

Sometimes the “servant” can teach the master so to speak as witnessed in harems of the Ottoman Empire, and in other parts of the Middle East. One story relayed to me about an older woman (now) who had been kidnapped as a 16-year-old because she was beautiful, eventually living as the outcast, never married (because she was taken to the harem) but wise despite her trauma. These women returned to their homes destroyed even as late as the 1960s!!), even though the harems closed in early 1900s supposedly, the last harem closed in 1970s in modern day Turkey! Those who are resilient overcome, others do not and need healing.

So many examples — the arts (Marilyn Monroe & Ella Fitzerald), stories of travelers to South Africa during and after the apartheid. From the religious side, recalling how St. John of Damascus (Syria) in the 7th century was educated in classical studies rivalring much of the Ancient Greek philosophers, eventually converted by his mentor-servant Cosmas (a refugee monk from Greece – Sicily who was sold into slave labor to educate the son of the wealthy merchant) to become one of the most important saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Perhaps people who struggle are also more tolerant of pain, for sure have more compassion. Education and lived experience matter. Having lived in the South in the US, in cities in the North, I know first-hand ! Now with the Covid-19 lockdown we understand fear, loss, anger, denial, compassion.

Martin Luther King in the 1960s marched in peace with several religious and political figures on his side as part of the civil rights movement. One of these supporters was the North American Archbishop of the Greek church, Iakovos, an immigrant himself (archive photos — civil rights movement); more recently in New York, helping the “Black Lives Matter” movement was Archbishop Elpidoforos with mask 😷 — a double message of what’s important for individual and community “health”.
This past Monday, always 49 days after Easter, the feast day of the Holy Spirit was celebrated. At no other time have we needed clarity, enlightenment, and peace.
We will overcome …. someday.

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