Valentine’s Day

Squished between Christmas and Easter we have Valentine’s Day, where the shops are full of sappy hearts and flowers, enticing people, who have barely recovered from the holiday season, to once again buy, buy, buy!

Valentine’s Day specials on outfits, cards, CD’s, food, holidays, chocolates and even appliances. Really! Who needs a nice new vacuum cleaner for Valentine’s Day?

I know somebody who says if you play the Lotto, you are paying stupidity taxes. I think caving in to Valentine’s Day demands is probably on a par with that.

It’s a vastly overrated day—husbands, boyfriends and partners get into trouble if they don’t shower their loved ones with stuff. Not being taken out to dinner can cause a meltdown.

What is all the hype for?

To loudly proclaim: I love you. I appreciate you. You are my most favourite person in the whole wide world.

Shouldn’t you say that every day? Not just once a year?

It‘s not even a proper holiday—it’s just a commercial day. And yet it has become an occasion where people get upset if their significant other doesn’t acknowledge it, signifying their relationship and the depth of their feelings—so that other people can see too.

It’s also a waste of money day.

Shops rob relatively sane people of money for ridiculous things. Anything adorned with a heart is a sitting duck. Flowers fly out of their buckets. Restaurants are teeming. 

People propose. People compare. And some people die slowly inside from lack of real love.

Many folk desperately hope for a card or a gift. But the day ends and they have a large hole in their own heart, feeling unappreciated, unloved and uncared for.

Here’s a funny story. A friend’s husband gave her a gold bracelet for Valentine’s Day. She was very surprised; they had never celebrated the 14th of February in all their ten years of marriage. She started to dig a little deeper and discovered that her husband was having an affair. His mistress had hinted that she wanted jewellery for the occasion, and feeling guilty, he had bought something for his wife as well. Bummer! It backfired on him horribly.

If you love somebody, show them every day—not just once a year.

Do the little things that count. Flowers, random acts of kindness, gentle words. Live your love.

All the time!

Sibo

Turning dreams into reality

I saw this graphic on Facebook today and it totally resonated with me.

How often do you hear somebody say “I wish I could drive.” (Just as an example—although I do know a couple of people.) But they don’t do anything about it. They catch a bus or a taxi, day after day, sighing and moaning, feeling unhappy, wishing they could drive—being jealous and nasty about those who can.

If you had to tackle them they’d probably say, “But it’s so difficult.” Or “I don’t have the time to learn.” Or “But I don’t have money for a car so what’s the point.” Of course, if they can’t drive, they’ll never have a car, will they?

So they continue to complain that they’re hard done by because they can’t drive.

If they put their mind to it, driving could actually become a reality.

The old saying, where there’s a will, there’s a way still applies.

If they wrote down their dream “I want to drive by the end of 2019.” and stuck it up on the fridge, it would no longer be a dream. It has become a goal.

Then the next steps need to be planned.

Find out where a person can take driving lessons, and how much they cost.

Maybe you need to save first, to be able to pay for those driving lessons. Work out what is affordable and stick to the plan of saving X-amount every single month towards your goal.

Take action! Book the learner’s license test in advance. You can’t take lessons if you don’t have your learners.

Use the time that you are saving wisely: look and see what is happening on the road. Check out the road signs. Study the learners’ book, ask those who can drive questions, get them to test you on questions from the book.

Once you’ve passed your learner’s license, you can take those lessons—because you’ve saved the money and you have it.

When you’ve finished your lessons, you are ready to take your driver’s test. And you will pass it the first time because you’re prepared.

So what if you don’t have a car—you can drive!

There is nothing to stop buying your own car as the next goal. Saving towards a deposit, making it happen—one step at a time.

Turns those dreams into reality people—no matter what they are.

Sibo

The benefits of reading aloud

1st February is World Read Aloud Day.

Last year more than a million people participated in this event. Sounds fabulous, but actually when you come to think of how many people there actually are in this world (estimated at ~7.7 billion in November last year) that is pretty darn pathetic!

Every day should be a read aloud day.

Reading stories to children is probably one of the most beneficial things you, as a parent or older sibling, can do, apart from giving them love, food, clothing and shelter that is.

It’s not only little kids that enjoy being read to either, older kids appreciate a good story too.

Scary fact: South Africa came last in the world in a recent survey. They discovered that 8 out of 10 kids in Grade 4 cannot read for meaning – in any language. What does that terrifying sentence signify? It means that those kids can read the words, but when they have finished “reading” them, they don’t know what they just read.

It makes no sense right? Sadly it’s true, and when you don’t understand what you are reading, it strips away all the joy associated with books.

You, as a parent, have the power to instil a love of reading in your child from early on.

It’s as simple as reading a little story at bedtime. Every bedtime! It’s also a sneaky way of having one-on-one special time with your kids.

When you read with emphasis and expression, it makes the story come alive. Not only does that make it interesting, but the way you read gets your kids to understand how grammar works, without even realising. You pause at a comma and stop at the end of the sentence.

They can hear how words are being pronounced.

Being read aloud to also exposes children to new words and increases their vocabulary.

Literature is also a great way of helping kids understand something that they have not necessarily been exposed to themselves. It makes them more aware and instils empathy.

Please do leave your cell phone in another room when you are reading to your children. Possibly the most irritating thing in the world is having a story continually interrupted by pinging, ringing and a distracted storyteller.

To celebrate World Read Aloud Day we are making ‘Sibo Saves Water’ a free digi-read on the website. It’s a double celebration – the 2nd of February is World Wetlands Day.

Happy reading and listening!

Sibo

Getting Organised

Stress is a horrible thing. It often sneaks up on a person and causes all sorts of problems. There are many reasons why one gets stressed out but one of the worst causes of stress is being disorganised and finding yourself running out of time, or arriving at a place without important stuff that you need.

Like the homework you left on the dining room table or your PE clothes, or your permission slip to go on an outing.

There’s a relatively easy way to eliminate such stress.

Plan your day.

Ergh! Sibo. I hear you say… that’s so boring.

Not really—if you plan your day, you’d probably have more free time to do fun stuff.  

How many times have we all rushed around, looking for something at the last minute, panicking like crazy when we can’t find it—only to find that it’s right there, under our nose. Or even worse, having to leave the house without it.

Use a diary or planner and write down everything that you have to do the night before.

This way you won’t wake up in the middle of the night, think of something you have to do the next day and lay there worrying that you’ll have forgotten it by morning.

Part of planning, is developing a routine.

  • Try to go bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time in the morning. Set two alarms if you have a hard time waking up.
  • Have a shower, get dressed, and eat your breakfast (or the other way around if you are a messy eater).
  • Rather be ready to leave five minutes early than be running five minutes late.
  • Pack your school things the night before. Make certain all the stuff you need for the next day is in your case before you go to sleep. One less thing to worry about.
  • Create a routine for yourself as far as your homework is concerned too. Try and do it at the same time every day. Don’t leave it for after supper when you are too tired to think either.
  • Keep the space where you do your homework neat tidy so that you don’t get distracted.
  • Lastly, don’t multi-task. While you might think you’re getting loads of things done all at once, usually nothing gets done properly. Do one thing at a time and do it well.

Being organised means being in control.

Sibo

Silly Season

No matter how good our intentions are during the year to start buying thoughtful little gifts when you spot them, somehow it never happens.

Even though the shops start sending out tendrils of temptation a few months before Christmas; reminding everybody that it’s just around the corner, dangling tantalizing goodies in obvious places, December always creeps up rather fast.

The reality is most people expect presents at this time of the year.

I was listening to kids talking at school the other day. The one kid was saying that he expected his father would buy him a play station for Christmas.

His friend looked at him strangely and said, “But how? Your father doesn’t have a job at the moment?”

The other kid just shrugged, “He’ll make a plan—he always does. Otherwise Mum knows I’ll sulk.”

What a brat! In our house, we receive gifts on our birthdays. That’s your time to get a fancy present, or something that you really want. Maybe.

When it comes to this time of year, limits are set for presents of R25 or less each.  It may sound completely crazy but it means that people have to put their thinking caps on and get creative. This takes time and planning, which is, after all, the point of a gift. It’s supposed to be thoughtful and meaningful.

For instance, my Gran bakes cookies. She uses recycled packaging attractively and hands out those for gifts. Her mince pies are legend, we all love them.

I usually make vouchers because even R25 is way too much for me. Fancy, decorated ones and I try to make them useful—even if I don’t like what I’m offering to do. Mum absolutely appreciates tea in bed on a Saturday morning. I offer to wash dogs, baby sit hamsters, rake leaves, water plants etc.

Mum makes little gardens in old containers that she jazzes up. She pinches bits of succulents from friends’ houses and collects interesting looking stones and twigs. My cousin makes awesome jewelry. Another cousin makes dream catchers. My auntie makes up interesting sweetie jars. My Dad scours second hand book stores.

Not only do we all end up getting loads of cool stuff, but we also get to see how everybody else appreciates what we’ve taken time to make or find. It works a treat.

Get creative people – the gift is in the giving.

Sibo.

 

Things to Do in December

It’s that silly season time of year when people are busting to go on holiday but it’s not quite time yet.  Some people don’t have the opportunity or finances to go anywhere, and others have no choice but to work. Imagine how hard it must be for cashiers and sales clerks to see everybody stocking up on goodies and they have to work throughout the festive season. Spare a thought for those people please.

The situation currently is being made worse by load-shedding. Yes! It’s frustrating as all hell – but we don’t have to let it get us down.

Now is the time that we can all do a couple of things to make life easier.

  • Smile often and randomly. Never underestimate the power of a smile.
  • Hold the door open for strangers.
  • Say ‘Good Morning” or “Hullo” to people that you pass by.
  • Tip generously.
  • Pay compliments.
  • Call shop assistants by the name on their tag, i.e. “Thank you Sindiwe” and toss in a smile too.
  • Wave at the police.
  • Share food at school or work.
  • Make funny faces at babies in grocery queues to keep them entertained.
  • Be patient with sales clerks—and be nice!

Of course, if you are feeling generous, you can also do cool things like buying a stranger a cup of coffee, or paying for somebody’s groceries/parking ticket etc.

Other ideas… offer to walk dogs, run errands for elderly people and do garden chores like weeding and de-heading flowers.

Once we start thinking about ways to be nice and to do stuff for people, more ideas come flooding in. The strange thing is good things come flooding back too. What goes around comes around.

The other day I was visiting a friend in hospital. We had to walk up nine flights of stairs and just before getting to the ninth floor—my legs were seriously aching—I passed a tired, sad looking lady. Without thinking, I smiled at her and said “Hi”. She carried on walking. Then I heard her stop. I turned around and she was staring at me, also smiling. She bobbed her head, said “Hullo” back, then carried on trudging down the stairs.

Be the light people. It’s not hard and it costs nothing.

It all starts with our own attitude.

Kindness makes the world a better place.

Sibo.

 

Books are Friends

My friend Ginny gives talks in schools sometimes. The topic is “Books are Friends!” It’s interactive and the kids also get to add their two cents worth. This is how it goes:

F is for Friends! Books are better than friends because you don’t have to ask somebody’s permission to go and visit a book (unless you want to go to the library) and books don’t get cross and fight with you. You never feel lonely when you have a book for company and you can have fun escaping into fiction or fantasy. Plus you can use them to find out facts. Reading sets you free!

R is for Reading! You can read a range of books at any rate you want to – fast or slow. You rest when you want to, and if you enjoyed a bit, you can return to it and read it again. You can read about your rights too.

I is for Interesting! Books are incredibly interesting and inspiring. Reading makes you intelligent. You can read important stuff. It’s impossible to get bored if you have a book to read. Of course, don’t forget – books are printed with Ink.

E is for Everybody! Books are for everybody and can be found everywhere. Excellent books explain things and equip you with knowledge. They are exciting and entertaining. Best of all – you don’t need electricity to read a book with your eyes.

N is for Nice! New books are nice too.  Books are necessary, we need them. You can turn to the next page to see what happens in the story every night. Books have names – just like you and I. But you should never ever mistreat your friends.

D is for Dependable! Just like a really good friend, books are always there for you. You can read the daily and when you have finished your book, you can donate it to somebody else to read. They are delightful but you do have to look after them. Dictionaries are great books too. Diaries are books that you can write about your own life. Don’t forget about digital books either!

S is for Story! And for Sibo of course! Some of our story books talk about saving water, electricity and strays. Taking shorter showers and planting seeds.  Separating rubbish and recycling.

On Saturday there is a pop-up book fair at the Alkantrant Library, Lynburn Rd, Lynnwood Manor, Pretoria from 09h00 – 12h00. Come and meet some new friends. Get your Christmas shopping done nice and early.

Lots of love,

Sibo.

Bloody Business

South Africa is currently running out of blood. That sounds crazy–especially when people are walking around full of blood that they could share. Well… maybe not everybody can share their blood because there are conditions prescribed as far as sharing blood goes.  However, it’s seriously scary, because one never knows when you might be in a situation where you need safe blood.

What is “safe blood”?

It’s blood that is free from HIV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis – these can easily be transmitted through transfusion.

If you are fit and healthy please consider donating – you never know when you yourself might need a blood transfusion.

In South Africa, every unit of blood that is collected goes through stringent testing to ensure that it is safe.

So how much of your precious life blood do they take? Only 480ml. It’s less than 10% of the total blood volume of an adult. Most adults have between 4.5 and 5 litres of blood in their bodies. The lost fluid is replaced in the body within 36 hours. (However, if you weigh less than 50kg you’re not allowed to donate because you don’t actually have enough blood to spare.)

You are, by law, not allowed to give blood more than every 56 days. This means that a person would only give three or four times a year. Not too much to ask really – is it?

In South Africa people between the age of 16 and 65 are allowed to give blood —if they are fit and healthy. There’s a questionnaire that has to be completed, regarding your health and life style. A finger prick test is done to check iron levels before donating. Blood pressure is also checked to make sure that people are actually healthy enough to donate.

Remember – you need to eat and drink enough fluid (not alcohol) before donating.

Or course, if you’ve had flu or have been sick in the last few days you are not allowed to donate because it would be bad for you. Also, if you have been to the dentist or had surgery recently, you could also be excluded. Recent body piercings and tattoos would kick you out of the system too.

Don’t even think about trying to share your blood if you have had malaria—then you have to wait for three whole years before you can donate again.

For more information on giving blood – go to http://www.sanbs.org.za/ .

Give people! It might save lives!

Blood is life.

Sibo.

Don’t make your problems my problems.

Life is complex. There are the good things and then there are the bad things, or as we commonly call them, problems.

Some problems feel like they are huge, insurmountable ones and then again, others feel like they are little blips on the radar that are easily fixable. It is all relative.

For example, if the problem is that your car is running out of petrol, it’s really easy to go to the petrol station and fill it up with gas—if you have money. But if you don’t have money, it’s a real problem.

Sometimes the problem is not really a problem. For instance… Joe Bloggs has a fabulous sports car and you wish you had a car like that. But actually you have a perfectly fine car that gets you from A to B and you don’t need a sports car at all! That is more like envy and is not a real problem.

But often, the problem with real problems is that we tend to make them worse by ignoring them. There’s this thing hovering in the back of your mind that you know you have to deal with, but you squish it down and hope that it will just go away magically, all by itself.

Of course, this does not often happen.

The best thing when you have a problem is to try and tackle it immediately.

Look at it from all angles; sometimes it’s not as bad as you originally thought. Often you can narrow it down into smaller issues and deal with them one by one, slowly and thoroughly.

Sometimes it also helps to write down the problem, and the possible solution(s). Then look at it for a while and decide which works best for you. It’s amazing how, when you confront something head on, it is usually never is as bad as it first seems.

Often a problem is as simple as asking for help or brainstorming for a solution. The old saying of “a problem shared is a problem halved” is so true.

But sometimes, we only look at the problems in life, and we forget to be thankful for all the good things. When you’re grateful for all that is good and positive in your life, it’s easier to deal with the things that are not.

Look on the up side people!

Sibo

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Friends for Life

Many people suffer from anxiety problems these days. Anxiety is having an irrational fear of something or somebody (not to be confused with nervousness). If you don’t have this disorder, then it’s easy to brush it off and think that the person is being full of nonsense, but in actual fact it’s a very real thing. It can affect every aspect of life—from school, to work, to relationships.

What happens is that something upsets or affects the person and, in a very short period of time, they have an anxiety or panic attack.

These are symptoms of these attacks (normally the person won’t have all of them, but could have at least four):

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Sudden overwhelming fear
  • Trembling
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Sense of choking

It is quite scary watching a friend or relation have one of these attacks if you don’t know what to do.

There are ways that you can help. Obviously not to stop them having the panic attack in the first place—that is something that only the person themselves can do—but if you know how to behave around them when it happens, it makes it easier for both of you.

Let them know that it is okay if they leave the place that is causing anxiety. Sometimes being in a crowd can bring on an attack. Just quietly lead them away from all the people, but don’t pressure them in any way.

Let them know that they are safe. Even if it’s perfectly obvious to you that there’s nothing to worry about, it’s a very real fear for the person who is having the attack. Reassure them that there is no real reason to be panicking. Remind them that you are there to help them.

Reassure the person that the attack won’t last long. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are only temporary, but sometimes the person forgets that and so it is good to remind them.

Gently remind them to breathe. People having attacks often gasp alarmingly and forget to breathe! Here’s a good way to do it… tell them to take a deep breath and count to four, exhale again to the count of four. Do this over and over. Breathe with them.

Please do stay with them. Do not leave them alone.

Things you SHOULD NOT DO…

  • Get irritated and yell at them.
  • Ask them why they are panicking.
  • Tell them to calm down.
  • Brush it off and say they are imagining things.
  • Talk rubbish and say “Oh look! There’s a flying tiger!” to try and distract them.

Be a good friend.

Sibo
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