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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Sleep Tight

Last week’s blog was about being prepared for exams. One of the things mentioned was that you need to get enough sleep.

Often sleep is underrated and people tend to think that they can get by with fewer hours. Actually, this isn’t such a smart thing to do.

Between the ages of seven and twelve years old, it is recommended that one gets ten or eleven hours sleep a night. This is not just to stop kids from becoming cranky either—this is why you need enough sleep

  • Muscles repair themselves during the night. Not only arm and leg muscles, this includes the heart muscle too.
  • Sleep controls the signals that indicate when one is hungry or full – and this allows a person to maintain a good weight.
  • Whilst slumbering at night, brains store up all the stuff learnt during the day – so that it can be recalled later, when needed.
  • If one doesn’t sleep properly at night, it’s harder to pay attention at school during the day. Mistakes are made more easily if you’re tired.

If you don’t get enough sleep at night scientists recommend having a little nap during the day to make up the sleep time. Don’t take that nap during school time though—you’d been looking for trouble!

Apparently—it should take about fifteen to twenty minutes to fall asleep from when your head hits the pillow.

Most kids don’t have a problem falling asleep, but if you do there are a couple of things that can help – like having a warm glass of milk before bedtime, or having a bath. Reading a book before you go to sleep is also better than watching television. It’s important not to be too hot or too cold in bed—that can also disturb your sleep patterns.

Of course teenagers can get away with a little less sleep – like eight to nine hours a night. Although often they don’t get anywhere near this amount of sleep and so they really do need to sleep in over the weekends.

Seems like the older you get the less sleep you need. Most people need around eight hours a night to function properly though scientists recently found out that there are some people who have a rare mutated gene condition that allow them to sleep only six hours without any negative effects.

Sleep tight and sweet dreams.

Sibo
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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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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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