There is NO excuse not to read.

Reading makes you smart!

These days eBooks make reading incredibly easy. You don’t need fancy equipment and special readers, like you did a few years ago either.

If you are reading this blog in the African Reporter, then you can read. If you are reading this blog on-line, then you can not only read, but you also have access to a smartphone, tablet or computer and the internet.

Even for those people who have difficulty reading, audio books are available. You can listen to them when you are doing something else. Boring stuff like cleaning the house, ironing or travelling in public transport.

There are many different platforms on-line where you can access books.

If you join Amazon or Smashwords—and it’s free to sign up—there are books that you can read for free. Good ones too, you just have to take the time to search for them. Many of the classics are available and often authors have promotions. They give their books away freely to increase their readership.

Of course there are millions of books that cost money too, but they are still cheaper on-line than buying a print copy.

The great thing with eBooks is that you can load lots of them onto your electronic device and carry them around in your pocket or handbag (in the case of a smart phone).  You can’t do that with piles of books.

This is also an awesome time for writers. They no longer have to struggle to try and find somebody who will publish their book(s); they can publish them themselves, on-line.

That’s free too.

You do, however, have to market your own book. It doesn’t sell itself. No matter how good it is (and it better be good) because there is loads of competition out there. You definitely don’t want to be publishing shoddy content.

My friend, Ginny, is known for her Sibo Series, but she’s also written a few other books—do you remember Fudgie, the dog from the blog? She’s busy collating all those blogs into a series of books that are available on-line. You can follow her author profile on Smashwords.

One thing you might remember when you read books online, consider taking the time to go back and leave a review. Writing a few lines is a way of thanking the author for the free book—or even for the books you’ve paid for.

Read more people!

Sibo

It’s a Crazy World

Watch out for your possessions people!

Last Saturday, my friend Ginny had her cellular phone stolen, right out from under her nose! Well, not quite, but close–out of her handbag.

She and her husband were shopping and they were in the fruit section of a local supermarket. She noticed that some women were talking loudly, pointing at those little bags of herbs. She thought that they were probably having a heated discussion about what was needed for a certain recipe.

The next thing she knew was that another woman had rammed a trolley into her, pushing her into the veggie rack. She was wedged between the trolley and the rack and her bag was squished behind her shoulder. Ginny stood there, half expecting an apology, but at least expecting the lady to move the trolley off her foot.

But instead, the woman pointed to some bags of onions on the veggie rack and asked if Ginny would pass her some.

She picked up the one bag, but the person shook her head and pointed at another one. So Ginny passed her one of those. She asked for another one too.

Then she barely thanked her and moved off down the aisle.

The whole thing was a little weird and Ginny wandered around for a few minutes, thinking about it and then put it aside.

Later on, she looked down and saw that the side pocket on her bag was open and her cell phone was missing. Of course, she wasn’t too sure if she’d actually picked it up off her desk that morning and put it in her bag in the first place. Her husband called the number and it went immediately to voice mail.

Her stomach sank—she knew it had been stolen. It had a full battery and there was no reason for it not to ring first. But they went home anyway, to check.

On the way she was racking her brains as to who could have had the opportunity to sneak up, unzip the pocket and take her phone out. Then she remembered the crazy incident in the veggie department.

Her phone was not at home.  They schlepped back to the supermarket and reported the incident. Turned out, upon viewing the video footage, some women had followed them into the shop; probably others did something to distract the security guard (who was right there). Whilst Ginny was helping the one lady, the other lady helped herself to Ginny’s phone.

It’s a jungle out there folks. Be alert!

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

May you be in your element in 2019!

I know this is a tad late but here goes anyway… Happy 2019 Everybody! I hope it is going to be a seriously awesome one for us all.

This is the year we celebrate the ‘The International Year of the Periodic Table’.

According to the powers that be, i.e. UNESCO, the Periodic Table of Elements is “A Common Language for Science” and is one of the most significant achievements in science, capturing the essence not only of chemistry, but also of physics and biology.

The Period System was first discovered by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869—which makes 2019 the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements.

So… what exactly is this table of elements?

In a nut shell, it’s a grid that organises and names all the elements. Elements are made out of atoms, which are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. Each element has an atomic number and a name. Some of the elements letters are easy to understand, others not so.

It’s like the alphabet of everything that we can see, touch or smell. In fact, even those we can’t.

For instance, O (number 8) is for oxygen. We can’t see it, smell it or taste it—but it’s there, otherwise we would not be here! Oxygen is vital for all life.

Au (number 79) is for gold – but the Au comes from the Latin name for gold – aurum.

Helium (He – number 2) is the gas that gets used in those fancy floating balloons (which, by the way, are really bad for the environment because often they float away landing up in rivers and oceans causing huge amounts of damage to the environment).

Elements are like the building blocks for all the matter in the world. For example, when hydrogen and oxygen (H2O) are combined the result is water. This is called chemistry.

Fun fact: Hydrogen is the most common element found in the Universe.

We all do chemistry most days without even realising it, for example, if we bake a cake, ingredients are added together to make something new.

And yes! People are obviously made up of elements too. It does not matter where you live either–on earth or mars—the elements are still the same.

To help celebrate this year, we’re making my book “Sibo Mixes Things Up” a free digi-read on the website for January.

Chemistry is cool!

Sibo

PS Want to see how much you know about elements? Try my QUIZ

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.

 

Dogs are Family Too

Christmas is just around the corner. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, but it will be here before we know it. One of the things that often happens around Christmas time is that animals are dropped off at the SPCA. That is bad enough, but you know some awful people dump their dogs on the side of the road.

I can’t even bear to think about what that poor animal must go through—having their family just open the door, chuck them out and drive off. It’s such despicable behaviour.

Dogs are incredibly loyal, loving creatures. They would literally give their lives to protect their humans, and yet people continue to treat them in horrible ways. You would not lock your child outside, or tie them up in the back yard all day—would you? Why do it to your furry family?

Actually – it’s illegal to have a dog tied up in a yard. If you know of anybody who does this – please call your local SPCA so they can come and investigate.

If you know you are going away this holiday season, make a plan with your animals please.

A nice plan!

If you can’t take them on holiday with you, then book them into the kennels. This does not mean just rocking up at your local place and expecting them to have space for your furry family either. It means you need to book well in advance. If you are like my friend Ginny, then she goes and does a site inspection to make darn sure that her critters are going to be looked after properly.

Of course, kennels cost money, so if you are spending all yours on your holiday, then please make sure that you organise a trustworthy friend of yours to either babysit your house and your animals, or that they pop-in daily, or preferably twice daily, to feed your creatures and check that they have plenty of water. Remember it’s hot around Christmas time. Ideally you’d also like them to spend time talking to and walking your dog.

Trustworthy is the key word here. No point in asking somebody who does not bother to do it. Nor do you want them trashing your house while you are away either.

Your furry kids are not half as demanding as your real ones – all they really want is food and love. Give it to them please.

Sibo

xxxx

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

xxxx

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

xxxx

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

xxxx