Be prepared!

It is coming up to that time of year again when important exams will be written. If you are in matric and you’ve neglected to study… eish! But this might still be useful for you.

Everybody else… PLEASE do not leave studying until the last minute.

Cramming is definitely not the best way to try and get good results! Give yourself enough time to study.

Start with tidying up the area where you study. It’s incredibly hard to concentrate if there’s mess around you. Also, make sure you are comfortable, have enough space and that you have good light – especially if you are going to be working at night.

Make a list of how many exams you have and when you have to write them. Then make a timetable so you can see how much time you have to study for each exam.

 And people… do not waste lots of time making awesome timetables just so you don’t have to start studying. This is called PROCRASTINATION! It will get you nowhere.

Remember to schedule in breaks as well. After studying for 45-50 minutes you should enjoy a 10 minute break. Take some of those breaks in the sunshine too – Vitamin D is very good for your brain.

Use flow charts and diagrams to help you study. It has been proved over and over that visual aids really do work. Draw pictures, doodle.

Make flash cards and keep them handy. Get your parental agents to help you. Explaining things to other people is a great way to get everything organised in your head and help you to remember.

Consider organising study groups with friends. It’s good to bounce questions off other people. But don’t get side-tracked chatting and forget to study!

Try and avoid junk food when you are studying. Fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and blueberries have been proven to aid concentration and memory. Snack on raw veggies and fruit rather than sweets and chips.

Have a good healthy meal before you go and write your exam too.

Drink plenty of water – your brain works best when it is well hydrated.

Get enough sleep! If you have been cramming all night and are tired when you go to write your exam… you won’t remember as much as you should.

Good luck everybody!

Sibo

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The need to read

The 8th of September is International Literacy Day.

So what? I hear many people say. I don’t have time to read. I can’t be bothered to read. Reading is boring… but actually we read all the time!

We read social media updates, road signs, food labels, and information on goods that we buy. We need to know whether we should wash that new item of clothing in hot water or cold water – right? And for that you need to read the label. Or the instruction manual that comes with your latest gadget.

Or what about recipes?

That’s reading, isn’t it?

Many people stick to magazines, newspapers or read on-line, and that’s all good but…

What about reading for pleasure? To escape reality without going anywhere—you can travel the world, learn about new places, time-travel with science fiction and fantasy, or read sloppy romantic novels where the girl always gets the boy in the end (unlike real life!!). What about mysteries or those scary ‘Who dunnits’?

Okay! So books are not exactly cheap, but you don’t even need to buy them—join the library. Or share with friends, as long as you look after the books and return them in the same condition that you received them in.

If you don’t like reading… at least consider reading to your children!

It has been proven that kids who are read to from a young age have a distinct advantage over those who are not.

Children are naturally inquisitive and love to ask questions – when a parent reads a picture book to their offspring, they are exposing them to different things. They can point at pictures and say “What is that?” or “Who is that”. It encourages youngsters to start thinking and asking questions.

It enhances a child’s vocabulary.

In addition to a better grasp of language, reading assists with spelling too.

We all love a good story, and bed-time reading (in any language) instils a love of books at an early age—something that stays with a person for the rest of their life.

Plus… a bed-time story is a great way to bond with your child. You get to sit on the bed, snuggle with your nice clean kid and read. It’s a fabulous way of having one-on-one time in this overly busy world of ours where there is not always quality time for everybody.

Please read more people!

Sibo

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Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude!

The last in our series of Women’s Month blogs is one about attitude. (Circle of Life, Power posing, Health Tips for Women, With Compliments)

Often we simply look at things the wrong way. It’s so easy to be fed up and miffed with somebody or something and let it spoil our day. It’s also easy to brood and let things fester and before we know it, something relatively little has turned into a great huge monster that discolours life in general.

Not only our lives, but those around us!

Here are a couple of easy methods that will help kick those gloomy habits.

  • Start a gratitude journal.
    It does not have to be a fancy one; get an exercise book and decorate the cover. Write down five things that you’re grateful for every day. This way one starts thinking (and acting) positively, looking for the good in life. It’s a well-known fact that having a positive attitude increases one’s happiness. Let’s face it – it’s hard to be depressed or stressed if you’re a happy-chappy, right?
  • Replace the word ‘have’ with ‘get.
    Sounds crazy but it makes a person see things in a different light. Instead of having to go to school or work, we get to go to school or work. This means we are fortunate to do so – many people don’t have jobs or would love to be able to go to work. Saying “I get to go to school’ means I’m able to learn and get somewhere in life. Even saying I get to go grocery shopping, implies that you have the money to do it, which is great.
  • Walk away from whingy whiny people.
    Folk who complain all the time drag us down too. If you can’t walk away, then don’t agree with them and validate their feelings.
  • Breathe!
    This is an easy one, but requires us to focus on how we do it. Often we find that we tend to stop breathing when concentrating, or we breathe in a shallow manner. Take deep breathes people. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Start with breathing in to the count of five, and breathing out again to the count of five and gradually increase the count. Oxygenating our bodies properly relieves stress, helps with pain and just generally makes one feel better. Try it.

YOU have total control over YOUR thoughts and actions!

It’s a change of mind-set people. Have a happy day!

Sibo

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Circle of Life

Hah! You didn’t really think you were going to get away without a blog on exercise during women’s month… did you? (No! Power posing does not count as exercise.)

Whilst smiling and complimenting might exercise your soul (as well as those of other people) and laughing might be great for your belly and face, it is important to stay fit.

Exercising releases those endorphins that make you feel happy and lessen the perception of pain. Apparently it does not matter how long you exercise for to release those hormones – the effect is the same, whether you go for an hour long jog or jog on the spot for ten minutes.

If cycling, jogging or gym is your thing – then great – you don’t have to read any further. However, if you are one of those ladies who groan at the thought of doing some physical activity – then this is for you.

Hula hoop people!

It’s the most awesome activity that the whole family can do.

It strengthens core muscles and improves posture no end, in addition to shaving centimetres off the squidgy bits of body and defining leg muscles.

Kids can happily use the normal hula hoops that you find easily in shops.

But ladies… here’s the good part – you can make your own, extra-large hula hoop, very cheaply!

Toddle off to the local hardware store (or nursery) and buy five metres of 25mm black piping. Yup – the stuff that gets used in the garden or irrigation. At the same time, get a 25mm connector and some insulation tape.

Lay the piping down in the sun for an hour or so to soften it slightly. Then chop off approximately 50cm from either end.

Boil the kettle, pour some boiling water into a mug and quickly dip each end of the piping into the water, then plug them together with the connector whilst the plastic is still soft.

Voila! You have a huge hoop.

You are probably going to look at it and gasp… NO WAYS CAN I USE THAT THING!!

But try it. Go on. Try. You’ll see that hula hooping with an enormous hoop is much easier than one of those small ones.

Taping it up to look pretty is optional. It does make it a little heavier, which is even better for losing weight.

Whilst you are hooping, you can do arm exercises to further tone up.

Or mediate and plan your day.

Let’s all BE who we ARE ladies.

Sibo

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Posing for Power!

Still celebrating Women’s month this week and today we’re talking about posing for power, or maybe that should be power posing.

Did you know that the way you sit or stand, even for a short a period like two minutes, raises testosterone levels and lowers the stress hormone cortisol?

Long words… what do they mean… basically it boils down to the fact that research has shown it makes you feel different and therefore you’ll do your job better or interact with somebody in a more confident way—and better still, be perceived in a different way.

Like… as not such a pushover!  If that sounds good to you – read on!

Often when we are not sure of ourselves we tend to cringe into as small a space as possible… wrapping our arms around our bodies, curling into a little ball, trying to be invisible. Right?

Well, power posing is all about stretching and expanding your body to take up as much space as humanly possible.

It really has been proven that the way you stand can make you feel more confident.

Testosterone is your “dominance” hormone. Often one associates this with men, but women have those hormones too and it’s time we started using them more!  The amazing fact is that after just two minutes of standing in a power pose, those hormones can rise by as much as twenty per cent!

Even better, not only do your good hormones rise, but the meanie old cortisol (stress) hormones take a dive. It’s common knowledge that when a person is less stressed, they can think and act a whole lot clearer.

You don’t have to stand like that in public either, you can do it in private, before you have to go and talk to your boss, the head master or a parental agent – anybody who makes you feel anxious or nervous without good reason.

This works if you are being bullied too – own your space!

What exactly is a power stance? It’s not hard and there are different poses—but this is the most common:

  • Stand tall with your legs apart, shoulders down and back, head up.
  • Puff your chest out
  • Put your hands on your hips (yes – just like superwoman!)
  • Breathe deeply (in through your nose, out through your mouth—quality breaths people).

Researchers also say that power stances actually start with sleeping. No more curling up in foetal positions! You might wake up wondering why you feel out of sorts. Rather lie in an open position with your arms and legs outstretched!

Go for it ladies – own your power!

Sibo
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Health tips for women

 

Celebrating Women’s month I thought it would be nice to post some easy health-stroke-beauty tips that we can all make use of because we’ve all got mouths!

Yes—mouths!

What’s the easiest thing you can go with your mouth – smile – right?

I’m always going on at people to smile at random strangers, but every time you smile, the action of your face muscles smiling causes your brain to trip a little trigger and release chemicals called endorphins.

In a nutshell, endorphins are the things that make a person happy… this leads to less stress… and ooh, let’s think, when you are less stressed you stop scrunching up your face and pow! There go those lines on your forehead. (Of course, they’ll come back again when you stop smiling and start being stressed again, so just keep smiling.)

So… smiling at random strangers does not only make them feel better, but you are giving yourself a boost too. How cool is that?

It gets better…

Endorphins are sneaky little critters, because they are also the body’s natural pain killers. Next time you bash a bit of your body, instead of swearing, yelling and being miserable—LAUGH.

Laugh long and loud and all those endorphins will be released and that sore bit will feel a lot better, much sooner.

This works for chronic pain too, believe it or not… either way – try it – you’ve got nothing to lose.

We all know, from previous experience of having a good belly laugh that you end up gasping and breathing great lung-fulls of air. Well… that is the same as having exercise! Your lungs expand and the cells in your body get replenished with oxygen – it’s not rocket science people – makes perfect sense.

A smiley face is also sooooo much more attractive than a miserable looking one, right?

Start looking at the funny side of life – it’s not hard.

  • Read cartoons
  • Watch funny movies and You-tube clips
  • Spend time laughing with friends and family.

Here’s the really funny bit… our brains, whilst being very clever, don’t actually know the difference between whether a smile is a real one… or a fake one. So there’s no excuse – just smile anyway. You’ll still feel all the fabulous benefits.

We women don’t mind sharing this great tip with you men either… start smiling and stop snarling!

You’ll find once you start smiling—it becomes a habit.

Sibo

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With Compliments

My mum went to some or other women’s thing the other day. She came home and told us about how everybody had been encouraged to say something nice to a random stranger before they all settled down for the day.

I asked her what she meant by “random stranger”. Was she talking about going up to somebody in the street or what?

“Don’t be silly Sibo,” she replied tartly. “Why would I just go up to a person in the street and say something nice? They were talking about approaching somebody at the gathering that you didn’t know. It was a safe space. The person was not going to think you were a demented lunatic for arbitrarily accosting them.”

“Aww rats!” I replied, “So I can’t just go up to anybody on the street and say ‘Hey! I love your skirt.’”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Mom spluttered in outrage. “That would not be safe!”

Hmmm… I wasn’t so sure I agreed with her, but she had a point about safety and kids approaching strangers.

So I started thinking and came up with a good idea for Women’s month—August!

So! Here’s the plan people… every morning, pick a lady / girl at school or work—or even on the bus, train or taxi if you see them regularly, and say something nice.

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • “You look nice today.”
  • “Oohh – I love your nails!”
  • “That’s a gorgeous dress/skirt/bag.”
  • “Your hair looks fabulous!”

But it has to be genuine. You can’t say “Love that hairstyle” and then go snigger because you actually think it looks weird.  That’s not being kind. That’s being horrible. Horrible is nasty—don’t do it.

If you really can’t think of something lovely to say – just smile. Smiles work too.

All the bitchiness that goes on is so tiring. People (females especially) are always judging instead of supporting each other. Enough! The world is messed up enough without us making it worse.

Be nice people. Be kinder to one another. One really doesn’t know what the impact is of a few kind words on another person. It could totally brighten their day and make them feel good. How many times has it happened to you? Somebody says something nice and you think… Oh wow. That’s so great to hear.

Pay it forward people – in nice words!

Sibo

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Spiked

I know I’m only a little kid and I’m not supposed to worry, or even know about stuff like this, but it seems as though it happens often, or certainly a lot more than people realise.

My friend Ginny and her husband were privileged to go to funeral in a township last week. That probably does not sound very good – the fact that it was a funeral was terrible, but the type of funeral was completely different to any they had ever attended before. Everybody really celebrated the life that had been lost to the fullest, on a very different level to what goes on in traditional Anglican, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist or NG Churches—where everything is usually very restrained and goes by the book. There are no unexpected incidents. The longest a service will ever last is around an hour.

This funeral started at 08h00 and carried on until 13h00. After all the speakers had had their say, then it was the preachers’ turn and he was totally marvellous, in a scary kind of very loud way. The temperature was approximately six degrees in the school hall, and one of the other congregants said that they could go outside and warm themselves up in the sun if they were cold (which they were – freezing in fact, despite being bundled up in numerous layers of clothing) but they were unwilling to miss a single thing. After the funeral, which included going to the grave site, everybody was saying ‘that was a really good send-off’ and they mostly seemed to be at peace.

But Ginny wasn’t. She was really unhappy that the guy had died in the first place, because it was so unnecessary and sad. He was young and had not even hit a quarter of a century yet. Both he and his friend had been coerced into having drinks that were spiked with something nasty. His friend luckily survived, but tragically, he didn’t. Worse, the callous floozies who forced the drinks on them stole their cell phones, wallets and other personal possessions while they were in a deeply drugged state.

You always hear about this happening to girls and ladies, but not often to men. But here it happened, with heart-breaking consequences. Bottom line is, don’t leave your drink unattended at a party or a bar – and never, ever let yourself be forced into drinking something against your will. There are unscrupulous people out there who will do anything for money.

Please take care people!

Sibo

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Pop-Up Book Fair

Last Saturday Ginny and I got to do some exciting stuff. We went to an Indie Pop-up Book Fair at the Alklantrant Library in Pretoria. Ahem… I’m not exactly an indie girl myself, because my Sibo Series are published by Lets Look Publishers, but Ginny writes other stuff (Dog’s blogs, Imaginaeries and The Kindness Book)  that she does publish herself, so she asked if she could take me along too.

It was such fun meeting all the other people who write South African children’s books. There was quite a selection. One young lady, Pamela Ngubeni, has written a little pocket-sized book about being bullied and what to do if you are. She herself was bullied when she was younger and she has risen above the situation and gives talks in schools now too.

A fabulous book by Soraya Hendricks, called ‘The Legend of the Gilded Scroll’, covers the topic of stranger danger. It’s an awesomely illustrated fantasy story that incorporates the topic in an exciting manner.

There were the Sir Chocolate  stories for kids (that include recipes) by Robbie and Michael Cheadle.

and a series of Akiki books by Fatuma Abdulla that had a lovely doll (from the illustrations) that was also for sale.

Yet another remarkable book called ‘Be Amazing’ by Doloros Oldjohn, was all about being different, making a difference, having respect, going the extra step and being nice whilst you go about it.

‘Liam goes to the game reserve’ – written by Christina van Straaten is a delightful story that introduces wild animals in their natural habitats to children. It’s a hardboard book – durable and easy to keep clean and great for small kids.

Cora Groenewald, author of Salome and Gogo visit Soweto (also available in Afrikaans) was there too.

If you like adventure novels with a twist then Everdeen Brickwood’s books are for you.

There’s a series by Jann Wereatunga that involves a pirate parrot called Polly (also a puppet) having all sorts of adventures (with life lessons), where you can use your imagination and draw your own pictures in the books, instead of the books having ready-made illustrations.

Sandy van Zyl has a series of beautifully illustrated books ‘The Travel Buggz’ that are based on the adventures of the author and her two children when they went travelling around South Africa.

Martie van der Walt, a first time author had her stand next to ours with a delightful Afrikaans book -‘Kiekie en Wiekie, Die avonture van twee kroonkiewiete’. These were stories told to her by her father, that she has recorded so that the tradition can live on for future generations. The illustrations in the book were just lovely.

The lady who organised the pop-up book fair, Sabine Lehmacher (JOE), has a book called ‘The Moonling’. It’s a story that she found when she was sorting out her late mother’s possessions. Her mom had written it in the 1950’s already. Sabine’s family members have spruced it up and illustrated it and it’s now a fabulously relevant book (involving a moonling and an earthling) instead of being a few bits of papers hidden away.

Ginny’s stand was obviously in the kids section, but she stole away and snuck downstairs to the adult section for a few minutes – and got bust when Uncle Pete and Sharon from Lets Look Publishers popped in to visit!

Ginny and Peter Sanderson from Lets Look Publishers

There were not only children’s books at the book fair, but all sorts of other interesting titles – poetry, novels, science fiction, horror and autobiographies too. To name a few, Karen Coomber has written ‘100 Minutes of Grace‘ – a book about a mother’s road to recovery (she tragically lost her daughter in an accident). Whilst there were many books that took her fancy, she ended up buying Adam Alexander’s ‘Garage Band’, which she has yet to read.

A couple of interesting talks were also thrown in for good measure.

There’s going to be another pop-up book fair in September, so if there’s anybody out there who has published a book(s) – shout and we can put you in contact with Sabine.

Thanks very much to the Alklantrant Library for hosting the pop-up book fair (to make it worth their while – 10% of all the proceeds of the books sold went to the library).

Read more people!

Sibo

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Magic Stuff

Last week we talked about tie-dying. Hope you used gloves because that paint can make quite a mess on your fingers. But if you didn’t, you can always give your hands a scrub with baking soda.

Baking soda is truly marvelous cleaning stuff. We’ve talked about that before too – especially how it can unblock drains and clean gunk off irons.

One of the best uses I have come across for baking soda is as a beauty product.

Reuse an old spice jar – fill it with baking soda and stash it in the bathroom or the shower cubicle.

When washing your hair, sprinkle a little into the shampoo in your hand and then wash your hair. The baking soda strips away all the hair products that you might have used the last time you styled your hair. Plus it makes it feel nice and lessens the tangles too.

You can also use it as a face-scrub – instead of those expensive products with little teensy plastic beads that pollute the environment and cause fish to die! Just pour some into your hands, add a bit of warm water and give your face a scrub. Of course, don’t forget to moisturise afterwards – especially in the winter when things gets so dry.

You know how your legs get all dry and scaly too? Same thing – sprinkle some baking soda into your hand in the shower and give your legs a scrub – gets rid of all the old lotion, bits of skin and other debris and your legs feel nice and smooth. Do it once a week.

Seriously people! Why waste money on fancy products if you can use stuff that is sitting in the kitchen cupboard. Although do remember to check with your parental agent first, before you help yourself. Remember how I got into trouble when I took the last loo roll!

You can also put a little pinch of baking soda on your toothpaste (on your toothbrush – duh) every now and then for whiter, brighter teeth – but don’t do it too often otherwise you might damage the enamel.

If you have gumboils – a spoonful of salt and one of baking soda, mixed together with half a cup of warm water, swished around your mouth makes it feel a lot better. Also gargling with baking soda and water can kill bacteria and freshen up your breath.

See – it really is magic stuff!

Sibo

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