The Happiness Jar

Happy 2018 everybody!

Here’s wishing that it is going to be a glorious year for us all on many different levels. Hope you had a good holiday and are ready to get stuck into the New Year.

I saw a really cool idea the other day and thought it was just too fabulous not to share.

It’s called a “Happiness Jar” and is really very easy to make.

All you need…

  • Jar, tin or a nicely washed out 2 litre plastic cool drink bottle
  • pile of paper
  • pen, pencil or anything to write with.

You can re-use old envelopes, the back of till slips or simply tear or cut some A4 pieces of paper up into 8 (or even 16) pieces and keep a pile handy next to your jar.

This is how it works… write down something that made you happy each day and pop it into the jar.

It could be something simple like seeing a pretty flower or a cute furry creature. Time spent with a buddy or a nice chat to a friend on the phone. Maybe wearing some article of clothing that made you feel good or a place that you visited and did fun stuff. It could be something that happened at school or work. Good grades, a kind word, praise, promotion – or a job well done.

Or something you read that made you happy.

Anything and everything that puts a smile on your face or makes your heart sing…  write it down and pop it in the jar.

At the end of the year (okay – if a year seems too long, try it for a week or a month) you take out all the notes and read them. You’ll remember all the little things that made you happy (that you have probably long since forgotten) and realise that life really is pretty good.

Of course don’t forget to make other people happy too.

Smile, be kind, pay things forward. Do random deeds of kindness. Be nice. You never know when a simple thing like smiling at somebody or paying a compliment adds sunshine to a dark day.

Too often it is easier to moan, groan and complain about life around us and forget about all the little things that really do make life worth living.

Let’s start 2018 off by being happy.

Lots of love

Sibo.

 

Use time wisely

You often hear people saying that they wish they had more time to do something – be it homework, making dinner or spending time with friends doing something fun.

It is the one thing that we cannot change. Those minutes tick by relentlessly, never stopping for a moment.

Seems like when you are a kid the time takes forever to pass, but somehow when you get a bit older it feels as though the time whooshes by. One minute it’s the beginning of the year and suddenly the year is finished and it’s time to look forward to the holiday season again.

I guess we should all think about using our time more wisely.

Sometimes that sounds easier said than done. Exams are looming and studying for them is not really a very attractive prospect. Often you tell yourself you’ll just “do this quickly” and study later. Then suddenly the time has disappeared and you are unprepared.

That old saying – procrastination is the thief of time – might be tired – but it certainly is true.

I’ve decided to try and plan my life a bit better. I’m making lists of the stuff I need to do. I’m putting the important stuff on the list along with some smaller tasks – which are easy to get done. Then I feel great when I see things crossed off and it galvanises me to do more of the things on the list. I reward myself with some play time every so often for being so productive.

I’m really hoping it works because I’m rather good at dawdling!

Talking about time and how valuable it is – it’s really rude to keep somebody waiting.

Often we agree to be somewhere at a certain time and then get there several minutes late. In South Africa it is jokingly referred to as “African Time” but it does not make it right.

It sends the signal that the other person’s time is not important – to you anyway, and it shows a complete lack of respect. Being on time requires proper planning – like being aware and factoring in anything that might crop up causing delays and making one late.

It’s sometimes hard to predict traffic and often one gets to a place way too early and then you have to wait around but it is better than being late. Take a book or something.

Plan carefully people!

Sibo

The last straw!

I know we’ve had this conversation before but truthfully – plastics are taking over the world.  Or rather, they are playing a big part in messing it up!

Why is that?  Petroleum-based plastics like PET do not decompose in the same way that organic material does. Stuff like wood, food scraps and grass gets transformed into useful compounds by bacteria – but this does not happen with plastic. Plastic never really goes away. After hundreds of years it might break down if it is exposed to sunlight – but even those tiny pieces are still floating around in the place. Of course, if it gets buried in a landfill – it never sees the sunlight and so it stays… and stays.

One way that we can help – I know it seems a teensy way – but every little bit really does help, is to say “No Thank You” to straws.

Seriously! We don’t need to use a straw to drink a cool drink. By the way – if the cool drink is in an aluminium can – that also takes 500 years to break down – so make sure you recycle those too please.

The problem with straws is that they are light and even if they do get disposed in the proper way, they get picked up by the wind and carried off to places unknown. Often they land up in rivers, damns and the sea and they cause untold damage to birds and other marine life.

Yes – I know it’s very cool to pull the paper off the straw so it’s concertinaed up, and then use the straw to drop a little bit of cool drink on the paper and watch it magically unfold all by itself. This drives my mum crazy if I do it when we are out, so she’ll be glad to hear that I am giving up straws in the interests of helping to save the planet.

Of course, if you absolutely must have a straw in your drink – then take it home with you and in another blog I’ll share some cool stuff to do with straws. Sciencey stuff!

In the meantime – I’m sharing my book – Sibo Tackles Trash – on the website  for everybody to read free for a few days.

Every little bit really does help people – let’s all try. Together we can make a BIG difference.

Lots of love,

Sibo

 

World Humanitarian Day

19 August was World Humanitarian Day. This day was initially declared by the United Nations back in 2008 after a terrible terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Bagdad in 2003, where 22 people were killed.

Nearly every day some disaster happens – whether it is war, terrorist attacks, floods, earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, disease, poverty or hunger. These things cause huge suffering for all the people who are caught up in these events and, sadly, it is usually the poorest people who suffer the most.

Humanitarian assistance workers go all-out to provide help in these situations both in the short and long term. Often these workers put themselves at risk too and sometimes even die in their efforts to help other people.

 

We can all be humanitarians.  There is no special training needed to do the right thing every now and then. Sometimes it is as simple as delivering blankets or warm clothes to the needy when there is a very cold spell. Or helping out in your local community if something untoward – like a flood -happens.

Basically it all boils down to being kind and thinking of others. The definition of kindness is the quality of being friendly, considerate and generous.

It’s not very hard to be any of those things, but sometimes it does require conscious thought. Often we get so caught up in everyday life that we forget there are many people who have considerably less than we do and could use a bit of a helping hand. It could be as simple as knowing somebody at school who needs to share your lunch occasionally.

Remember a while ago we talked about having “Friendship benches” at school.  Where kids who don’t have any friends, or just maybe need somebody to talk to, can go and sit and know for sure that somebody will come and talk to them. That also boils down to being kind – and generous. You don’t have to be generous with money always. You can be generous of spirit or with your time.

There might even be an elderly person in your neighbourhood who is lonely and could use somebody to chat to or maybe needs help with shopping or garden work.

The main thing is for us all to keep an open mind and not miss out on opportunities to do the odd good deed. Or many good deeds!

Sibo

Friends are Fabulous

The 30th of June is International Day of Friendship.

I’m reminding you nice and early in case you need to make a plan to make a plan to get together and have a lunch date or something, or even just to remind yourself to call somebody.

Friends are good for a person’s heart and soul. Literally!  But friendship is very much a two-way thing.

One has to give as much as one gets – and I don’t mean “stuff” here either. I’m talking about time spent together, laughing, sharing experiences, chatting and more importantly, listening to the other person. Really listening to hear – and not listening to talk when they’ve finished speaking. Often friends just need to talk to somebody that they know really cares about them – they don’t want to hear how the same thing happened to you.

If a friend tells you a juicy secret, don’t go blab it out to the world in general afterwards. That’s not what real friends do.

Research has shown that people who have lots of friends are much more likely to survive a major illness than somebody who has no friends. This is because the loving support (both physically and mentally) of friends helps a person get better

Companionship is also known to reduce stress. People, who are married to a person that they both love and are friends with, are more likely to stay married. (Yes – it’s very possible to love somebody and not like them very much!)

In your life time, you’ll probably make around 396 friends, but according to research, only 1 in 12 friendships last and of those, only about 4 will be really close friends.

These days, with social media – it’s easy to think you have loads of friends, but this is not always the case. Next time you meet up with your friends, put your cell phones away and talk properly to each other, instead of chatting via text messages.

Amazingly enough, scientists have also discovered that there are animals – like dolphins, bats, chimps, baboons, elephants, horses and… wait for it… hyenas that have been known to form friendships for life with individuals that are not the same species. (I was quite surprised to see that they did not mention dogs and cats – specially seeing as how they have bonds with their humans.)

Remember people… in order to have a friend, you have to be a friend!

Sibo

To sea or not to see

The 8th of June is World Oceans Day.

Thought to celebrate this day I’d share some cool facts.

Did you know that around 70% of the world’s surface is covered by oceans?

There are 5 different oceans – namely the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean , the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean.

The largest is the Pacific ocean and it covers around 30% of the Earth. The name “Pacific” come from the Latin word ‘pacificus’ – meaning peaceful.

Incredibly, around 70% of the oxygen that we breathe is produced by the oceans.

Only 5% of the oceans have been explored. Not surprising really when the deepest known area of the Earth’s oceans is in the Pacific, near Guam in the Philippine Sea at the end of the Mariana Trench, and its deepest point measures nearly 11km.

The Great Barrier Reef (the largest coral reef near Australia) measures about 2,600km and it can be seen from the moon!

We all know that oil spills in the sea are terrible and kill lots of sea life, but waste matter from sewerage and agriculture gets dumped into the sea too. This sometimes had all sorts of toxins in it that can cause dangerous types of algae (sea plants) to bloom in water near the coast. When these blooms die and rot they use up all the oxygen in the water and then there’s none left for the fish. These are called “creeping dead zones”

Some people just think of the sea as a huge dumping ground. Lots of other stuff (like chemicals) are chucked into the sea – and get eaten by the fish that you and I eat, which causes illness in humans (never mind what it does to the sea life).  It’s very scary how polluted the seas have become.

312 million kilograms of sea food is consumed each year! Our ocean resources are being depleted daily. People often imagine that the sea is full of a never-ending supply of fish but this is simply not so.

Please remember you can consult the SASSI website   and find out which fish are endangered or not.

To celebrate World Ocean Day we are going to make Sibo and the Sea available on the website  for you to freely read if you want to read more about the oceans.

Please only eat from the “green list” people!

Sibo

Families are precious

The 15th of May is International Day of Families.

Sometimes, if one comes from a big household, it is easy to think that families can be a bit of a pain and actually lose sight of how incredibly lucky we are to have them. Many people are very sad because they either don’t have family or they have moved far away and they never get to see them.

If you have not spoken to a  family member whom you love dearly for a while…  why not pick up your cell phone and send them a WhatsApp or sms to tell them that you are thinking of them (or even better – call them) or write a letter. You could even make plans to go and visit them.

Don’t take people for granted. You never know when something might happen and you’ll never see them again.

Talking about families, the 14th of May is Mother’s Day.  Yup – that’s this Sunday. Still time to do something if you have forgotten about it.

Our Mothers really are special people. They do loads of stuff that we just expect and half the time never even bother to thank them for it. They are always there for us and sacrifice plenty for their kids and families that we never even think about.

If you are a tad financially challenged and don’t have money to buy your mum something special, you could make her a card and give her some special vouchers. Things that say you’ll “wash the dishes” or “make her a cup of tea or coffee” or “sweep or vacuum” or do something else that helps her out… then she can hand you a voucher at a later stage and you will do the chore with a smile on your face and no whinging!

Seriously – mums very much appreciate things like this.

It’s the little things that have to be done day in and day out that get really tiresome. And while you are about it – you could keep your room neat for a change, pick up any stuff that you leave lying around the house without her having to ask and nag.

Give her a fat hug too and tell her that you love her and appreciate her. You don’t have to wait for Mother’s Day to do this either!

To all the mums out there – we love and salute you. Thank you for everything.

Sibo

Don’t be bullied!

The 3rd of May is World Press Freedom Day. You might think this is a weird day to have and is not very important – but it is. Hugely so. It is critical that newspapers and electronic media are allowed to freely report what is going on in the country or the world, for that matter. Often journalists risk their lives in order to bring news of what is happening to the people. Just imagine if were not able to read your weekly edition of the African Reporter?  You’d have no idea of what is going on in the area.

Which brings me to my next topic – bullying.

There is way too much bullying going on these days. Not only kids are bullied – adults also get bullied.

Verbal bullying is just as wrong as being bullied physically. These days, with social media, you get cyberbullying too.

Sometimes people only properly recognise bullying when it’s physical. For example, when somebody pushes or hits you or hurts you in some other way.

The sad thing is that bullies are typically people who are being bullied themselves – usually at home. They then take it out on other people – normally smaller or weaker than themselves.  It makes them feel better about their own situation – but it is completely wrong.

There are a number of ways of dealing with a bully.

You can try and deal with it yourself.   Walk away whenever the bully approaches you. Pretend you are just walking away from a friend – that way your body language does not look like you are afraid. Bullies like it when you are afraid.

If the bully is verbally abusing you – think of something else – like what you are going to do that weekend or count in your head to 100.  Anything that blocks out what the bully is saying. If you don’t hear it – it can’t hurt you.

If possible, try to hang around friends all the time so the bully cannot get you alone.

Never forget that you are a valuable person and it’s the bully that has the problem. Not you.

Of course you DO NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT ALONE. You can happily go and speak to somebody that you trust – a prefect, parent, teacher or other adult. If they don’t believe you, speak to somebody else that does. If you are being bullied at work you can speak to your HR department.

Know your rights – being bullied is wrong.

Take care,

Sibo

Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve been reading things about kindness lately and I was thinking that we sure could use a little more of that stuff in our world to make it a better place.  It usually only takes one person to start a domino effect.

It’s not hard to be kind – but it does take a certain mind-set. You can start small. By smiling – and we all know that it takes only 26 to smile and 62 to frown!

Smile at random people for no reason at all.  Usually 9 times out of 10 (unless that person is having a really bad day) they will smile back at you. And then you both feel good.

It’s contagious. You walk along thinking about the person who smiled at you and usually you are still smiling. So you end up smiling at somebody else too … and so it goes.

Of course, remember – it’s okay to smile at random people but kids should not stop and chat. And if anybody ever gets too friendly and makes you feel uncomfortable – feel free to tell your parental agent.

If you are at home, or in a shop and somebody drops something. You can bend down and pick it up for them. It takes just a little bit of effort.

You can offer to help your mum or dad without being asked. They might fall over and faint – but try it sometime – I bet they would really appreciate it.

Or maybe if you see somebody at school sitting by themselves looking all sad and lonely you could go and sit with them – even offer them a snack out of your lunch box if you have enough to share.

This is going to sound a little crazy but engaging in acts of kindness actually acts a bit like a medicine chest in your body…

Did you know, it is said that kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. This is a chemical that not only makes you feel-good but it makes you happy and calms you down.

Even better – doing acts of kindness produces endorphins—the brain’s natural painkiller!

They say that people who are always kind have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and don’t get as old as quickly as the average population.

Research has even found that being kind lowers blood pressure.

Go out people and commit random acts of kindness!

Lots of love,

Sibo

Beautiful beasties – big and small.

Remember at the beginning of the year we posted a calendar – one that had all sorts of interesting days on it?

Well  on Friday the 3rd of March we celebrate World Wildlife Day.

Living in South Africa we are rather lucky because we have a wide range of furry creatures that are available for us to see – if we can get to a game park that is. Otherwise there is always the zoo. Of course, it’s not the same to see animals in cages – even if our zoos have nice big cages. Not like some of those horrendous places I have read about overseas.

We are also fortunate in the way that there are lots of bushy areas that contain smaller beasties like snakes, mongoose, dassies and other little critters that you would not see if you lived in a concrete jungle of a city. Not sure I would really appreciate seeing a snake too much though.

My friend Ginny lives near the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve in Pretoria and they have things like Zebra and other types of large buck roaming freely around – right in the middle of suburbia.  She gets to go hiking around the reserve most Sundays and says it keeps her sane.

In the East Rand area there is the Marievale Bird Sanctuary. I know that birds are perhaps not as exciting as big animals but they are still very pretty to look at. Many kids are not so fond of bird watching because we’re supposed to be quiet otherwise the birds get scared and fly away. What’s nice about Marievale is that it does not cost anything to visit, and apart from the picnic area, there is also a nice walk around the wetlands to bird hides. They say there are 267 different types of birds there. Sjoe! That’s a lot! I have also heard that there are otters in the rivers – but sadly I’ve never seen one. In the summer it is open from 05h30 in the morning and only closes at 19h30.

Then there is the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve in Heidelberg which is a bit further away. You can spot the following critters in there… zebra, black wildebeest, red hartebeest mountain reedbuck, common duiker, steenbok, grey duiker, baboon, oribi, blesbok, springbok and kudu. It’s not that expensive either – R22 per person and R11 per car.

Have a fabulous week!

Sibo