Believe you CAN!

Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Have you noticed that some people go out there, do their thing and it works perfectly? Every. Single. Time. On the odd occasions when it doesn’t, they bounce back and tackle it from a different angle. Everything they do looks effortless.

This is often due to having bags of confidence and high self-esteem.

These are the people who feel secure and know that they can rely on their skills and strengths to handle whatever comes their way. They are ready and able to handle what life throws at them.

They think “I can” instead of “I can’t”.

True confidence is embedded in reality. These people know exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are. They don’t pretend to be something that they’re not.

Many people are not so confident, but in actual fact, it’s not that hard to cultivate a sense of confidence. It just requires some work.

  • It all starts with self-belief and building a confident mindset. Start by thinking “I can do that” instead of “Oh no, I can’t possibly do that”. Shake off any self-doubt.
  • Compare yourself kindly. We’re not all good at everything, but we are all good at something or have something that we can be proud of.
  • Make a list of the things that you are good at. Then practise so that you can do them even better.
  • Feel proud of the things that you do well. You don’t have to boast, but you can give yourself a pat on the back.
  • Dress for success, whether you are going to the office or to school, feeling confident in what you are wearing plays a part. Iron that shirt, polish those shoes!
  • Be assertive, not aggressive. Being aggressive turns a person into a bully. Quietly putting your foot down makes you somebody that people sneakily admire.
  • Take a small risk and challenge yourself to do something that’s just beyond your normal comfort zone. If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. Don’t give up.
  • Give yourself permission to be the ‘real you’. Instead of trying to fit in and be like everybody else, embrace your quirks and let them shine. Be the individual you are.

Remember what wise old Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

At the end of the day, your confidence is your own to develop or undermine.

Stand tall people.

Sibo

Expo’s are Awesome

It’s not what you know… but who you know when it comes to sponsorship.

Last week Ginny, Lets Look Publishers and I had great fun. We had a stand at the Africa Health Expo at the Gallagher Convention Centre for three whole days. It was an exhibition with loads of fancy medical equipment and interesting products, with people from all over the world exhibiting.

The delegates and visitors (and there were more than 10,000 medical professionals that attended this expo) wandered around, soaking up all the fancy, high-tech displays of technologies, products or services, on their way through the huge halls to the conference venue.

There were many interesting talks and lectures by top professionals from South Africa and the rest of the world during the three days. This is because medical professionals have to continually renew, refresh and update their knowledge when it comes to healthcare.

Informa, the London-based company that hosts this huge annual event, generously donated over R600k from the conference proceeds this year to the South African charity organization, Reach for a Dream.

Hundreds of people passed by our bright, simple, not-at-all-what-they-were-expecting-to-see-at-a-health-expo stand.

They’d stop and read the Sibo banner first. You could just imagine what they were thinking… What the @#$! is this all about?

Then their eyes would wander around the stall and alight on the interesting Sibo book covers or the snazzy wall charts. They’d be intrigued.

Lets Look Publishers have a huge variety of wallcharts on just about any topic that you can imagine, but obviously, we displayed all the health-related charts at the expo – trauma, TB, stress, anxiety, pregnancy, the brain, rape, the human body etc etc etc. You can check out the complete catalogue here.

Then somebody would pounce on the person or group and explain. On occasion, we ran out of people to explain yet the delegates would just hang around, patiently waiting their turn.

But sometimes people would just skid to a halt, shake their heads and exclaim “Tell us about Sibo!”

Turns out the medical community is just as interested in our books as the educational sector. Some nurses moaned because we don’t have titles on general safety, avoiding burns, washing hands, special needs and type 1 diabetes… YET!

The University of Pretoria Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control also had a stand at the expo, which was fabulous, because we worked with them a few years ago and wrote this book together. It’s being used in Limpopo to help bring about life-style change as far as avoiding malaria goes. We could just tell people to go and see for themselves how well Sibo works!

Ginny made fabulous contacts at the expo and we’re hoping that some of them translate into new Sibo titles on health-related topics. As we’ve explained in a previous blog, we like to find funding for interesting new subjects so that the books can be given out freely to kids.

Many children in South Africa do not own a single book.

That’s so sad. Worse, according to a recent survey, over 70% of our children cannot read for meaning in Grade Four. That’s just tragic. We all have to help fix this situation in any way we can.

Sibo’s books appeal to kids. They have bright, interesting illustrations that speak to the text. The stories are written in rhyme with important information gently woven into the storylines.

One of the subjects that also came up was entrepreneurship, something that has been dear to Ginny’s heart for ages.  Little people need to learn from a young age that if they want something, they should come up with clever ideas to help turn their dreams into reality. These days there is a culture of expectation. Hold thumbs that we can find a sponsor for this title too.

Thanks very much to Informa for facilitating our stand at the Africa Health Expo.

Stay tuned folks, we’ll be reporting back on all the interesting projects and books that transpire.

Happy days!

Sibo

Write it all down!

Journaling makes one a better person!

Hands up who journals regularly?

 “But I don’t have time…” I hear you say. Well people, make time because the only person who will benefit is you. Journaling is awesome for many different reasons.

For starters, it keeps you centred, helps identify your strengths and weaknesses and clears your head. Once you’ve written something down, you can let it go. It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your day, see what you were proud of or what you could have done differently.

But don’t only journal to talk about your day. Write down your dreams and aspirations and then go back and visit them periodically to see how you are progressing. Are you getting closer to your end goal?

“But I don’t know HOW to journal,” I hear you mutter.

It’s not hard. You don’t need a fancy book to write in – you can happily use a cheap school exercise book. It’s best to use a book and not your computer or phone because then you can’t get side-tracked checking social media or answering e-mails quickly.

Find a private place that is free from distractions.

Set a time limit – start with 5 minutes if you are just beginning.

Describe an experience – write down what happened that day.

Write affirmations e.g.

  • I’m a caring mother/father/grandmother. (Yes! Journaling is for everybody.)
  • I’m a fabulous cook.
  • I’ve maintained my body weight.
  • I’m a great teacher (or whatever).
  • I passed my test well.

Adopt an attitude of gratitude – list a few things that you are thankful for.

Do a critical self-analysis. Who am I? What did I do right or wrong? What could I do better? What’s holding me back in life? How do I fix this?

Obviously, you don’t have to do all of these every day.

Have fun in the process:

  • Maintain a log of successes.
  • Start a journal of selfies.
  • Write with your non-dominant hand.
  • Keep a nature diary

Write first thing in the morning or last thing at night (or both). You certainly don’t need to be a great writer to benefit from writing down your thoughts and feelings.

Remember, your journal is private – for your eyes only – be honest with yourself. There’s no point in fibbing because nobody is going to see it.

In a nutshell, journaling increases your optimism, reduces symptoms of stress, helps you advance towards your chosen goals and makes you a better person.

Start writing people!

Sibo

Pecan Surprise

How to make a delicious home-made pecan pie.

Some friends gave us pecan nuts and Mum decided she wanted to make pecan pie. Dad found her a recipe on the internet. She looked at it and groaned. Mum’s not good with fiddly things—remember the cheesecake a few weeks ago?

Luckily for Mum, Dad cracked those nuts because otherwise she would have broken her nails.

The ingredients needed for the pastry were the following:

  • 1 cup of cake flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • cup of cold butter (cut into small blocks)
  • half a tablespoon of caster sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of iced water

You had to sieve the flour and salt first. Then, using your fingertips, rub the cold butter into the flour until it’s all crumbly. Then add the caster sugar to the flour and mix in the egg yolk, water and lemon juice. Knead the dough for around ten minutes, then wrap it in cling film and let it chill in the fridge for an hour.

After an hour, you roll out that dough that’s been chilling in the fridge (literally – hahaha) and line a pie tin (or a pie dish). Prick the base of the pasty with a fork and blind bake it in the preheated oven for 10 minutes at 180oC

That’s just the pastry base people.

For the filling:

  • 3 large eggs,
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 80ml golden syrup
  • 3/4 of a cup of pecan nuts.

While the base is cooking, whip up the filling quick. Beat the eggs (you can chuck in the left over egg white from the pastry too), add the melted butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla essence. When the mixture becomes sort of foamy, it’s ready.

When the base is cooked, fill it with the nuts and pour the sweet eggy mixture over the top. Bake it for about 40 minutes.

Mum made the pie exactly according to the recipe the first time. It was absolutely divine.

The second time (a week later) she did not bother with any of the fancy stuff.  She melted the pastry butter in the micro, mixed all the ingredients up, chucked the dough directly into the pie dish and baked it immediately.

Sometimes you have to make something properly the first time, to realise that you can take short cuts.

It tasted equally delicious!

Sibo

PS – If you’d like to know how to crack a pecan nut – see here.

Breathe Deep People

“I’m going home to watch some TV and de-stress!” How often have you heard this? But lying like a couch potato in front of the television doesn’t lower blood pressure at all.

The easiest way to de-stress is to do some deep breathing exercises.

They recommend around half an hour a day, but actually, even a few minutes help.

What a bargain! It doesn’t cost anything and we all do it anyway.  Even better, we don’t need a special place or fancy equipment. In fact, if you catch a taxi, bus or train home, you can do it on the way and be all nice and relaxed and de-stressed by the time you get there.

There are several different methods of breathing to relax but the American Institute of Stress recommends a technique called the “Quieting Response”. It only takes 6 seconds to do and apparently it works like a bomb.

First, you smile inwardly, with your mouth and your eyes. We all know the benefits of smiling outwardly, but this is something different, it somehow makes you relax. (Go on; try it quickly while you are reading this.) Then they tell you to imagine holes in the soles of your feet. As you breathe in (a nice deep breath) you visualize hot air flowing up through your body to your lungs. You relax each part of your body as the hot air hits. Then you breathe it all out again, imagining it flowing down, down, down—back out through the holes in your soles!

Pretty darn easy, right? I’m going to try it next time I’m stressed. Kids get stressed too you know!

True story, often when we are stressed we tense up and it takes a concerted physical act to release that tension.

Did you know?

  • If you opened up your lungs flat, they would cover an entire tennis court?
  • In people, the left lung is smaller than the right lung. Why? So that there‘s space for your heart.
  • The average person breathes around 27 litres of air a minute.
  • Children laugh about 300 times a day whereas adults only laugh around 15 times. We’ve talked about laughing before – it releases all those good hormones.
  • Last bit of useless information… when you sneeze, the air comes out of your body at around 16 km per hour!

Take time out to sniff the daisies people!

Sibo

When the chips are down

Potatoes are gluten free! True story.

We were shopping the other day and had stopped at the frozen food isle to get some veggies and chips. Whilst mum was busy agonising over beans or peas, I noticed a dude taking packets of chips out of his trolley and putting them back in the freezer. He had about ten packets. He then rummaged around in the piles in the freezer, picked out random bags of the same brand of chips and placed them in his trolley.

I watched for a while, entranced.

Then I couldn’t help myself, I asked him what was wrong with the chips he had put back (they looked exactly the same to me.)

Mum gave me one of her dirty looks that says “Sibo! Why are you bothering strangers? Oh wait… WHY are you talking to strangers in the first place?”

The man shrugged his shoulders and told me he did not want “gluten free” chips. He pointed to a speech bubble on the top of the packet.

Mum clutched her head, completely forgetting he was a stranger and spoke to him herself. “Oh my word! Whatever next?” Then she checked our chips to see that they weren’t of the ‘gluten free’ variety.

A few weeks later we popped into a different store and mum grabbed a bag of oven-bake chips without thinking. When we got home, she noticed they were gluten free. She moaned to Dad about how they were taking all the goodness out of everything and soon we might just as well eat twigs.

Dad just smiled and gave mum a hug. Then he told her that chips are made of potatoes and there is no gluten in them to begin with.  It was just packaging. Some people have gluten allergies and don’t know which foods contain what. So having the information on the package made it easier.

Think mum felt a bit foolish, because she huffed and puffed and said they might as well label them ‘boneless’ too then!

I did some research and according to Medical News TodayGluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley. Gliadin and glutenin are the two main gluten proteins.”

Apparently most people tolerate gluten quite finely, but some folk suffer from a condition called Celiac disease and gluten is really bad for them.

The bottom line is—potatoes do not contain gluten.

You can have your chips and eat them people!

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

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.

Weeds and Seeds

You’ve most likely all heard people say “Oh my goodness, you’ve grown like a weed!” meaning that you have grown taller since that person last saw you. Of course, this is really irritating when the last time was about ten years ago, obviously you would have grown up—duh! Adults are always doing this.

I was working in my veggie garden last weekend, trying to get it all neat and tidy for World Food Day on Tuesday  16th October, when I realised that there were lovely little patches of bright green, dark green and in-between green that did not belong there. I was amazed to see that weeds had sprouted, literally overnight, into real plants that required some serious attention.

Most probably the few drops of rain helped them to grow faster too! Not sure what it is about Mother Nature, but rain always makes plants sprout much faster than municipality water does.

We have a composter into which we throw all our veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and stuff from the garden, and so we have been making our own lovely compost. This is great stuff when it comes to growing things, but you do get some surprises too! I’d planted spinach and celery, together with some herbs. Of course I also planted flowers – to make the veggie bed look pretty. Dad said I was crazy and should plant the whole thing with vegetables, but I thought that was a tad boring.

Back to my surprise… up came all these little tomato plants. They had survived the heat in the composter and quickly germinated once they saw sunlight. So we now have some unplanned, fabulous looking, tomatoes too.

I realised that weeds are, in fact, a bit like problems too. You get those skinny little ones that are easy to get rid of with your fingers. Then you get those plants that have roots that look like a carrot on steroids and need the right tools to get rid of them. It certainly does not help to just pull the top leaves off and leave that nasty root behind because it will simply grow again—very quickly too.

To celebrate World Food Day I’m going to share ‘Sibo and the Veggie Bed’ on my website  for anybody to read freely for the next couple of days.

Try growing your own food 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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