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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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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With Compliments

My mum went to some or other women’s thing the other day. She came home and told us about how everybody had been encouraged to say something nice to a random stranger before they all settled down for the day.

I asked her what she meant by “random stranger”. Was she talking about going up to somebody in the street or what?

“Don’t be silly Sibo,” she replied tartly. “Why would I just go up to a person in the street and say something nice? They were talking about approaching somebody at the gathering that you didn’t know. It was a safe space. The person was not going to think you were a demented lunatic for arbitrarily accosting them.”

“Aww rats!” I replied, “So I can’t just go up to anybody on the street and say ‘Hey! I love your skirt.’”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Mom spluttered in outrage. “That would not be safe!”

Hmmm… I wasn’t so sure I agreed with her, but she had a point about safety and kids approaching strangers.

So I started thinking and came up with a good idea for Women’s month—August!

So! Here’s the plan people… every morning, pick a lady / girl at school or work—or even on the bus, train or taxi if you see them regularly, and say something nice.

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • “You look nice today.”
  • “Oohh – I love your nails!”
  • “That’s a gorgeous dress/skirt/bag.”
  • “Your hair looks fabulous!”

But it has to be genuine. You can’t say “Love that hairstyle” and then go snigger because you actually think it looks weird.  That’s not being kind. That’s being horrible. Horrible is nasty—don’t do it.

If you really can’t think of something lovely to say – just smile. Smiles work too.

All the bitchiness that goes on is so tiring. People (females especially) are always judging instead of supporting each other. Enough! The world is messed up enough without us making it worse.

Be nice people. Be kinder to one another. One really doesn’t know what the impact is of a few kind words on another person. It could totally brighten their day and make them feel good. How many times has it happened to you? Somebody says something nice and you think… Oh wow. That’s so great to hear.

Pay it forward people – in nice words!

Sibo

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Spiked

I know I’m only a little kid and I’m not supposed to worry, or even know about stuff like this, but it seems as though it happens often, or certainly a lot more than people realise.

My friend Ginny and her husband were privileged to go to funeral in a township last week. That probably does not sound very good – the fact that it was a funeral was terrible, but the type of funeral was completely different to any they had ever attended before. Everybody really celebrated the life that had been lost to the fullest, on a very different level to what goes on in traditional Anglican, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist or NG Churches—where everything is usually very restrained and goes by the book. There are no unexpected incidents. The longest a service will ever last is around an hour.

This funeral started at 08h00 and carried on until 13h00. After all the speakers had had their say, then it was the preachers’ turn and he was totally marvellous, in a scary kind of very loud way. The temperature was approximately six degrees in the school hall, and one of the other congregants said that they could go outside and warm themselves up in the sun if they were cold (which they were – freezing in fact, despite being bundled up in numerous layers of clothing) but they were unwilling to miss a single thing. After the funeral, which included going to the grave site, everybody was saying ‘that was a really good send-off’ and they mostly seemed to be at peace.

But Ginny wasn’t. She was really unhappy that the guy had died in the first place, because it was so unnecessary and sad. He was young and had not even hit a quarter of a century yet. Both he and his friend had been coerced into having drinks that were spiked with something nasty. His friend luckily survived, but tragically, he didn’t. Worse, the callous floozies who forced the drinks on them stole their cell phones, wallets and other personal possessions while they were in a deeply drugged state.

You always hear about this happening to girls and ladies, but not often to men. But here it happened, with heart-breaking consequences. Bottom line is, don’t leave your drink unattended at a party or a bar – and never, ever let yourself be forced into drinking something against your will. There are unscrupulous people out there who will do anything for money.

Please take care people!

Sibo

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No limits to learning

Yesterday my friend Ginny had a flying visit to meet with some people in Durban. Before you imagine she’s turned into one of her fairies or something – she really did fly and she was only there for a few hours. (Hahahaha – I’m a witty girl today hey!)

Seriously though, the reason she went is ultra-cool. She’s going to be involved in writing a series of short stories for little children. These will be based on various topics – lovely things like courage, joy, creativity, responsibility, kindness, caring, accountability etc.

These are values that everybody should be teaching their kids from a very young age. Also, if children from the age of 0 – 6 are not taught various concepts (colours, shapes, fine motor skills etc) it impacts hugely on their future learning.

The Unlimited Child is a national non-profit initiative that started in 2008. These guys are simply awesome. They have an early childhood education model and they provide training for people who work in/or own crèches – normally in really disadvantaged areas where finances are challenged.

But let’s rather use the correct terminology… these ‘people’ are actually known as practitioners. They are not teachers because they don’t have a formal qualification, nor are they care-givers, because they do more than just wipe bums and noses. They aren’t really crèches either… they are known as ECD Centres (early child development). Apparently crèches are places where kids play and don’t actually do too much learning. Not ideal if you want your kid to get the best possible start in life.

Sjoe! All this terminology gets a bit confusing at times.

These guys (actually – they are mainly ladies) work with various government departments to discover which places really do need their help. Then they swoop in, a bit like guardian angels, and offer assistance in the form of this model.

Okay wait… ‘model’ conjures up a stiff image. Banish that picture from your head immediately! It’s more like cool, colourful stuff for the kids to play and interact with, accompanied by lesson plans for the practitioner’s to use along with the toys. Like I mentioned earlier – training is given on how to use the equipment. Thereafter the centres are monitored and follow-up assistance is provided when necessary.

In case you are wondering… NO! They do not provide actual financial assistance to centres.

In 2008 The Unlimited Child started with 5 ECD centres in KZN. Today they assist over 1729 centres in 8 provinces, including Gauteng. Their goal is to have 5000 centres by 2022!

Eventually Ginny’s stories are going to be read to all these kids!

Little kids are so precious – they should be treasured and nourished, on many different levels, to give them the best possible start in life.

 

Sibo

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PS – If you want to know more about The Unlimited Child and the thinking behind it – visit their website.

The Blackboard Cat

The other day I took the last toilet roll to clean up a mess I’d made and forgot to tell mum. I didn’t think much of it at the time. In fact… I did not think about it at all! But when mum went to fetch one for their bathroom and found the packet was empty, she was as mad as a snake.

I confessed – mainly because there was nobody else in the house that could have taken it. Don’t think Dad even knows where they are stashed. Mum ranted, raved and performed. Really – you would have thought I had taken something very precious, instead of the last loo roll.

Luckily I still had half of it in my room which I could hand over.

I was telling my friend Nomsa about it at school the next day. She comes from a big family and they are always having some spat or another. Nomsa said that they’d had the same problem – someone was always finishing up something and driving her mum crazy – but they had found a solution that worked a treat.

They had painted a piece of hardboard with chalkboard paint and stuck it up in the kitchen. When somebody saw that the peanut butter was running low – they had to write it up. Or if her brother finished most of the bread (which he was always doing) he had to write it on the board. Her older sister was always making cookies, and used up the sugar at an alarming rate – that got written up too.

Then when her mum was going to the shops – all she had to do was take a photo of the board with her cell phone and she had an instant shopping list.

Their system worked really well – they hardly ever ran out of anything anymore. Even when her little brother ate the last apple – he could not write but he could draw – so he climbed up on a stool and drew a picture of an apple.

So I told mum about this idea after school. She thought it sounded quite good and said she had a piece of hardboard in the shape of a cat that we could paint with chalkboard paint and put up in the kitchen.

It’s still early days – so we’ll have to see if it works for us.

Have a happy day!

Sibo

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STRANGER DANGER – but sadly they are not always strangers.

Last week we mentioned those horrible statistics of 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 8 boys being sexually abused before they turn 18. And these are only the reported stats – they’re probably much higher than this.

SCARY FACT: Pedophiles are mostly people who come across as very likable souls. They are friendly and engaging.

The sad truth is usually predators are most often hidden in plain sight.  This means that ninety per cent of the time they are people you know and trust.

But really they are sneaky weasels who target their victims very carefully. They select their victim and then make a plan to get the child (and their family) comfortable with them before they strike.

They go to the same church, schools, sports and other activities and spend time chatting to you and your kids.

They specifically look for those individuals that have issues. Like kids looking for extra attention or love. They pick on shy children or those who might lack confidence. They look for loners who could be longing for friendship.

Yes – it sounds much too calculated to be true – but this is often how it happens.

They ingratiate their way into your family, bring the child little gifts and shower them with attention. They look for any opportunity to be alone with the youngster. Often this might seem like a very generous gesture and you can’t believe how nice somebody is being in your time of need. Beware! They could have ulterior motives.

Predators often hug and kiss your kid a lot and “accidentally” walk into the bathroom when they are in the bath or on the toilet. They also test your child to see if they can keep a secret.

Do not let this happen!

  • Encourage open communication in your household. Your children should be able to speak up when they don’t feel comfortable about something. Kids know long before adults do.
  • Have a “no secrets” policy. They don’t keep secrets for anyone or from anybody, ever.
  • Allow your children to choose who they kiss and hug. Don’t force them to kiss smelly old Uncle Fred hello just because he is family. Paedophiles are often family too.
  • Set boundaries. Make sure your kids know what those boundaries are.
  • Be a visible parent. It’s hard to abuse your kid if you are always around and involved.
  • Trust your gut – if something does not feel right, it probably isn’t.

Protect your kids please people – don’t let them become statistics.

Sibo
Xx

Listen to hear what is NOT being said.

I read something incredibly interesting the other day… research has shown that people who are in happy relationships or who have lots of friends live longer than those folk who are alone.

Duh! One tends to think that is obvious because they are probably happier and more fulfilled than those poor lonely souls who have nobody to talk to.

Originally they thought that individuals were responding to interesting topics or that it was the more stimulating conversations that possibly sparked off something in a person that made them live longer.

But ultimately it seems that WHAT is said does not really matter. It is more about HOW the other person responds to what is being said.

It all boils down to that human touch of caring, really listening and responding appropriately.

There are 3 different ways of responding to a statement that somebody has made.

If Jack says “It’s so nice outside tonight!” What he really means is something like – I enjoy being here with you.

If Judy replies “Yes, it’s lovely isn’t it!” She actually means she enjoys being with Jack too! This subconsciously makes Jack (and Judy) feel all warm and fuzzy and loved.

But if Judy says “Rubbish! The mozzies are biting me – I’m going inside!” this sends the message that she does not enjoy sitting outside with Jack and would rather be inside. This does not make Jack feel all that great.

Or worse, Judy could just ignore Jack totally and walk inside – leaving Jack feeling subconsciously sad and unloved.

Obviously the first response is going to nurture and deepen your relationship.

All too often we see somebody we know and, as we pass by, we say “Hey! How are you?” but then keep walking and don’t stop to hear their answer. This inadvertently sends the message that we don’t actually care how that person is.

Try something out – next time you ask somebody how they are – stop and actually listen to their answer.

It boils back down into that kindness pot again. In this busy world, it’s so easy to be self-centred and self-involved, but all it takes is a little bit of concentrated time to make another person feel loved.

Try it out – you’ll find it makes you feel good too!

Sibo

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Procrastination really is the thief of time

The other day I got into trouble and it was entirely my fault.

Mum had asked me to wash the dishes. She was going out to have her hair cut and she wanted them done before she came back. She told me she’d be home around five o’clock and needed the kitchen all nice and tidy because people were coming.

When Mum went out it was just after three o’clock so I reckoned that there was plenty of time.

I had stuff of my own to do. Had been promising myself to get stuck into weeding my veggie garden plus I had a new book I was dying to read.

You can guess what happened… right? It was hot so I decided to read first and got so immersed in my book the next thing I knew it was nearly time for mum to come home.

I flew into the kitchen and started frantically cleaning up – but the place was a mess and I knew I’d never be finished in time. Had a brainwave (okay – maybe it was a brain storm) and decided to get creative. Packed all those dirty dishes into a big plastic basin and hid them under my bed. I’d just finished wiping down the counters when I heard Mum’s car roar up the driveway.

Sjoe! With dardly a minute to spare.

Heaved a huge sigh of relief… I’d worry about how I was going to sneakily wash those dishes later.

Mom bustled into the kitchen with bags of chips and started opening the packets. She reached into the cupboard where we keep the bowls… but her favourite snack bowl was nowhere to be seen.

She scanned the kitchen with a perplexed look on her face. I backed out slowly, hoping she’d use some other container instead.

But no…. “Sibooooo” Mum yelled – “WHERE is my pretty chip bowl?”

Briefly wondered whether to fib or not but then decided I was already in trouble and lying would only make it worse. Had to confess.

I was certainly not the flavour of the day! Worse, Mum impounded my new book and said I could only have it back on the weekend. Plus I had to wash dishes all week.

That was a hard lesson. In future I’ll do chores or tasks first and then do the fun stuff later.

See you next week.

Sibo

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Reaching for the Stars


My friend Ginny was invited to a think-tank on how to popularize multi-wave astronomy (no – don’t run away, this blog is not about that – although it is really interesting stuff) a few days ago, and had lunch with one of the other participants who happened to have a disability.

Not wanting to offend the lady in the slightest she asked a bit hesitantly… ‘Um, what is the politically correct way to describe somebody who cannot see?”

The lady promptly responded “Blind!”

Thereafter a lovely conversation followed, with the lady, Wanda, giving some insights (excuse the pun) into one of the challenges of being blind.
But let’s clarify something first. The lady is Dr Wanda, and she’s an astrophysicist, who, amongst other things, really enjoys developing interesting lesson plans to teach kids about astrophysics. She has not allowed being blind to restrict her in the slightest and continues to reach for the stars – literally. Except Wanda listens to them instead of looking at them!

She reckons the most irritating thing is when somebody sends her a .pdf file to read. PDF stands for “portable document format” and it’s a way of saving a document from any application into a format that most systems can read – unless you are blind.

Wanda explained that her special software that “reads” the document cannot comprehend a .pdf file. It just picks up random words and strings them together. Obviously this could lead to major confusion. She gave us a hysterical example that went something like the “The moon was in the bathroom exploding.”

The numbers at the table swelled with Alfred from Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown (Jozi) joining the ranks. Wanda asked Alfred what his favourite exhibit was. His answer was the one that explained sound waves. Of course she did not leave it there – she had him explain to her just how he got the concept across to the people visiting Sci-Bono.

Initially Alfred waved his hands around a lot, which Wanda could not see, but he quickly got the hang of it and used his words – very simply and effectively to explain how sound waves work.

We all take many things for granted and our sight is one of them.

By the way – how often do people check the toys that their young children play with for sharp bits they could potentially stick into their eye (or somebody else’s) by mistake? Double check that toy box please, just to make sure.

Reach for the stars people – don’t let anything hold you back.

Sibo