Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Eve blah-blah

"Do you have any plans for New Year's Eve?" Dreaded question? Yes.

Especially if you're going to say that you'll be at home and in bed before 12. While YOU may not have a problem with this, having to put up with "You're so boring." enough to make it a dreaded question.

This will be my first New Year spent in Cape Town. To be very honest, I don't remember going to a NYE "bash" before. I've welcomed the new year in with family (in East London), or an intimate gathering of friends (in Korea) ...and once, alone in a hotel room in Bangkok. It wasn't all that bad, actually.

Where I will be tomorrow this time, I don't know. But by just agreeing to 'go with the flow', it already alleviates pressure and expectations that one should go way out on December 31.

Anyway...just some random thoughts before I turn in on New Year's Eve eve ;)

Good night x

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's a Choice

I could so easily freak out now. Although I'll admit I did cry a little bit, I simply don't have the energy to cry anymore.

Spending the past few days with my family was good. With my parents, being in the home I grew up in, allows me to just "be". Even if it means having a temporary regime of eat - sleep - eat - read.

I don't do well at all with too much free time and at the beginning, my mind was far too idle.

Slowly, I learned to switch off and trained myself to be IN the moment with my family. I spent a lot of time reading. I'm halfway through Nelson Mandela's autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom".

But another book which is like my refuel is Robin Sharma's "The Leader Who Had No Title". Listening to Sharma in his training video's makes me feel rejuvenated and alive.

I read all the way on the flight back this morning, but lo and behold...I felt a nasty pang of hollowness shortly after I arrived at my apartment.

It has been the most trying couple of months and if I may say so, I've shed more tears than I ever remember. I have so many unanswered questions, my heart is filled with confusion and anxiety. Yet all I'm told is to have patience.

So I had to take matters into my own hands and decided that I needed to make a choice. Am I going to whimper like a victim? No. I always bounce back. And before hitting rock bottom (again) I was ready to bounce.

Ultimately, we cannot choose what happens to us, but we CAN choose how we react to these events.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Less Stress Over Holidays (Demartini)

Along with Robin Sharma, someone else I truly admire and who I credit a lot of personal and professional change in my life, is Dr John Demartini. Just finished reading something that has been sitting "Unread" in my Inbox for a few weeks. In fact, my reading it now is a bit overdue, but better late than never, I say:

He speaks about how during the holiday season, many of us have elevated expectations to the point of being unrealistic. We expect a lot more from others (and ourselves) much of which can't really be fulfilled. When this happens, enter the ABCDs of negativity:

Anger & Aggression
Blame & Betrayal
Criticism & Change
Despair & Depression
...and then also

Demartini speaks a lot about values and as we know, when we project our own values onto others, or vice versa, this is a recipe for an emotional crash-boom-bang!

The holiday season comes with facing a lot of family dynamics. In all families, we will notice an equilibrium of complementary opposites. So, what is important for me (reading, learning, self-development) may not be important to another. "Wisdom is to learn to appreciate ourselves and others as we are."

If you find that you are being criticized or rejected, the way to counter this is to ask where someone else is actually praising and accepting you. He or she needn't be in the same location as you are. But it is vital to remember that there is ALWAYS balance. It takes time and patience to dig deep to find these balances, but when you do, trust me - they are so rewarding! "We need both sides to center us."

I find this quite comforting, "You won't be confronted with a crisis you can't handle." If you find yourself in the midst of a crisis, the key is to stop and ask yourself, "What is the hidden blessing?" There is ALWAYS a blessing that comes from stressing. It's the law of the universe. It's all about balance, as I've said.

Speaking of transforming yours stressings to blessings, Demartini encourages that you reflect on the months gone by. Think of each individual, each experience and event which served you the most. Write each person a thank you letter. Write from the heart. Express yourself and acknowledge the person/experience/event. Just like magic, what seemed like chaos at the time, may actually be your biggest lesson of the year!

Waking up early (Sharma)

I've just watched another excellent video by my favourite, Robin Sharma on "How to Wake Up Early" and where he makes a lot of mention of the "5am Club". Here are some points I took from the session:

  • Get over "the battle of the bed" / "mind over mattress"
  • He who sweats more in training, bleeds less at war
  • Waking up early allows you to train, practice & prepare
  • Prepare your heart, your character and your spirit
  • 5-8am is "prime time" when you have the most willpower, mental focus, energy
  • Take full advantage of these 3 golden hours
  • Waking up early while the rest of the world sleeps is already a psychological win.
  • You'll feel less like a victim and more like a leader!
  • Change is hard at the beginning, messy in the middle, but gorgeous in the end!
  • Use the 20/20/20 Rule for your Morning Ritual
    20 mins for exercise
    20 mins for reviewing your plan / daily schedule / goals > gives you focus
    20 mins for learning
  • Education is inoculation against disruption
  • The world belongs to learners
  • As you know more, you achieve more
  • Watch inspirational / training videos
  • When you write things down, you deepen your commitment (re: a schedule)
  • Writing creates precision of thought
  • The things that schedule lead to thing that get done
  • To wake up early, get a deeper nights sleep 
  • Re: sleep, quality is more important that quantity (no. of hours)
  • Remember not to use a computer in bed before you go to sleep
  • Put your alarm clock away from the bed / other side of the room / a different room
  • Jump out of bed as soon as you get up!
I'm used to being ridiculed for my early morning rituals. I actually wake up between 04:00 and 04:15, which gives me enough time to get to the gym. I gym till about 05:30 and then make a point to spend about an hour or so reading and journaling (usually in my Gratitude Journal). By 06:00, I'm in the shower and ready to leave home by 07:00.

Early morning has always been my best time of the day. I feel like I can take on the world. That's why when I bounce into work with energy, I get quite a few side glances! Doesn't phase me much. Because when most people are still waking up, I've already done quite a bit in my day. Cheers to the 5am Club...or in my case, the 4am Club ;)

Be a Quick Learner with the Location Method

I absolutely love one of the memory techniques that Kwik shares which links association with location.

First of all, here's a list of the top 10 musts to be a "quick learner":

  1. Good diet
  2. Killing ANTS (automatic negative thoughts)
  3. Physical exercise
  4. Brain Nutrients
  5. Positive Peers
  6. Clean Environment
  7. Sleep
  8. Brain Protection
  9. New Learning
  10. Stress Management
Are you able to memorize a list like this at first glance? Yes? Sure you can! The trick is to associate each point with a different location. I'll use the example Kwik shares of his office. He asks that you close your eyes as he walks you through his office. This way, you have little to no distractions and you're able to conjure up your own image of the office. 

So you arrive at the office. Your first point will be the parking lot and as you move from the first point to the office, number each point/location like this:
  1. Parking lot
  2. Bridge
  3. Elevator
  4. Hallway
  5. Closet
  6. Receptionist
  7. Fish Tank
  8. Door
  9. Whiteboard
  10. Bonsai Trees
Now all you have to do is associate each point from the first list to a location / point from the second list. Like this:
  1. Arrive in the parking lot and imagine a delicious buffet spread out there
    (Good diet)
  2. Walk over the bridge that leads to the main building and imagine tramping on and killing ants
    (Kill Ants - automatic negative thoughts)
  3. Step into the elevator and imagine doing exercise in there. Stretches / yoga / Pilates
    (Physical exercise)
  4. Step out of the elevator into the hallway and imagine huge bottles of some kind of liquid
    (Brain nutrients)
  5. To the left, there's a closet...and in there you will find your friends/colleagues
    (Positive Peers)
  6. You then come across the receptionist and imagine she's cleaning her desk with detergents
    (Clean environment)
  7. Behind the receptionist is a fish tank, but imagine that all the fish are asleep!
  8. Now you arrive at a closed door which you need to open (maybe with a headbutt) so you may need a helmet (Brain Protection)
  9. When the door has opened, you see a whiteboard with a teacher standing there, ready to teach!
    (New Learning)
  10. Lined on the side of the room are bonsai trees. Imagine these relieve stress!
    (Stress management)
Remember: Being a quick learner will lead you to being a faster earner. When we read slowly, we lose time. When we lose time, we lose opportunities, and possibly our careers and yes, even our health.

I'm really excited to try this Location Method with my students. 

Let's learn FAST!

ONE of the main benefits of being on holiday is that I have been catching up. I know... I should be switching off completely instead of merely changing gears, but at last, I have have the time to catch up on e-mails and some online training videos that I have been putting off.

One video that I watched this morning is by the awesome Jim Kwik of Kwik Learning. I was introduced to Kwik's tips by my uncle just over a year ago.

So this morning I learned about how we can learn faster.

We live in a world where information is spewed out within seconds - right at our fingertips. What's interesting is that while the speed of information has increased, the speed in which many of us take in this info has remained the same. So, as Jim says, this gap needs to be bridged. I'm quite excited to get back to work on Monday and incorporate this technique in a workshop with my students.

Let's explore the whole notion of learning FAST - which we can actually use as an acronym.

F : Forget - Set aside everything else that you're thinking about.
A : Active - After being used to passive learning, we need to speed up!
S : State - All learning is state dependent. Control the way you sit & breathe when learning/reading.
T : Take Notes - Everything is a learning curve, so make notes!

I liked Jim's idea of taking notes eg:

(Take notes)
(Make notes)

In the first column, you jot down what you hear / observe while on the other side, you make notes of questions you'd like to ask or simply, notes to yourself.

If Knowledge is power, then Learning is the Ultimate SUPER POWER!
Knowledge is Profit!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Hoo-Haa

This morning my dad forwarded an article for me to read. It was written by a young lady who spoke about Christmas holidays and all the (some) obligatory meetings one has to endure during this time of the year. Parties, visits, bumping into people in crowded shopping malls...things like that. With such meetings comes the inevitable questions surrounding ones career, love life or current location of dwelling.

Truth be told, I have been mulling over this topic for the past few days as I wanted to write about this very topic as well.

Most people who know me fairly well will vouch that I enjoy going out and socializing. I love meeting friends over a good meal or sitting in a quaint coffee shop chattering away.

However, when I arrive in my hometown for the holidays, I turn into somewhat of a recluse. My family knows this. Malls? No thank you. Eat out? No thank you. I don't use the word, "friend" loosely so I am comfortable to say that I have very few friends in my hometown who I arrange to meet and catch up with.

I consider my trips "home" a success if, when I am about to leave, I've seen very few people. I know this sounds harsh, but hear me out.

Comments and questions I try to avoid at all costs come from people who I know genuinely mean no harm. But little do they know that their 'innocent' questions could pierce very sore spots that I am otherwise trying to either avoid or heal.

So...asking for the umpteenth time what I do, and then give a look as if to say, " that a real job?" to asking me if I know So-and-So who also recently relocated to Cape Town, to something which stabs me of late, "Please tell me you have a man now!"

The last time I went back after a short trip home, I remember telling someone, "East London isn't the same as I know it before." to which I was replied, "The city is the same, Nothing changed. Only you changed!"

The more I come back here, the more I realize how true this really is. The city is the same. The stores are the same. The roads (with all those potholes) are the same. The people...are the same. Yet it is me who has become so busy, that I can't organize a dinner date with a friend without my phone to see if my planner can tell me if I'm free or not. I'm the one who has to make decisions on my own, who falls ill on my own.

I change everyday and I know for a fact that I am not the same person I was last year this time.

Situations and circumstances of 2013 have molded me to become the sensitive, sometimes insensitive, caring, sometimes selfish, calm, sometimes control maniac that I am.

So I guess what I'm actually trying to say is, for some of us - the holiday period is not AS joyous as it is for others. No offence to anyone, please...but, I'm quite happy hibernating at home with my nose in a book :)

The International Food Shortage

...came across this recently. It's quite tongue-in-cheek!

Recently, a worldwide survey was conducted and the only question asked was: 
"Would you please give your honest opinion about the solution to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"
The survey was, not surprisingly, a huge failure. Because:
In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.
In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.
In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.
In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.
In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.
In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.
And, in the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.

New Look!

I'm on a few days holiday at my folks place in East London with far too much time on my hands and an internet connection that I'm trying to sap up before I head back to Cape Town (hahaha!)

It dawned on me that this, my blog / my companion / my confidant / my online journal - has been in existence since 2005. With smartphones, tablets and internet access more available that before, I actually have very little excuse as to why I'm publishing less. No excuse, except - I lack one of two or both things: time + inspiration.

I was playing around with my template this afternoon and this one that I currently have seemed to fit perfectly.'s to more frequent blogging ;)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Borders are for people...

For the past few days, I have been mesmerized by the opening lyrics of a song from the Bollywood film, Refugee (2000) directed by JP Dutta, starring Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor. With music by Anu Malik and lyrics by Javed Akhtar, the song Panchhi Nadiyan Pawan Ke was sung by Sonu Nigam & Alka Yagnik.

Panchhi nadiyan pawan ke jhoken

Birds, rivers, gusts of wind

Koi sarhad naa inhe roke

No border inhibits them

Sarhaden insaano ke liye hain

Borders are for people

Socho, tumne aur maine

Think about it, what have you and I

Kya paaya insaan hoke

Obtained by being born as humans?

Many of us are taking emotional stock take of our lives as 2013 draws to a close. This song speaks about what it means to be born as a human and how birds, rivers and gusts of wind have no borders which inhibits them. I don't know about you, but it's almost as if I envy birds, rivers, mountains, flowers, trees. Compared to these natural beauties, we are on this earth for far less than they will be. As humans, we continue to be arrogant, we hate more than we love and we worship material goods more than necessary.

What does it mean to live a simple life?

For me, it means having few or no material items. Think about about - the less we have, the less we have to worry about it. How often do we go away on holiday and go into complete relaxation mode? More often than not, we're worried about our home that is merely locked up and guarded by a security alarm. A house filled with valuables. Valuables? Electronics? Computers, laptops, TVs, DVD players, DVDs. The list could go on.

Imagine what life would be like as an animal - either wild or domesticated. What about life as a plant? As a through harsh weather conditions, yet still remaining strong and majestic.

Think of a dog. I'm thinking of our Jack Russell, Zelda. She doesn't hold grudges and loves unconditionally. She eats when she feels like it, yet still manages to run like the wind. She doesn't have to worry about her monthly visitor (ie - period!) and doesn't have the issue of unwanted guests on her cute face (ie - zits!) I've never seen her on a bad hair day, and she prances up and down our street with no make up or ...clothes, for that matter!

Simply put, we live in a harsh world. Deadly diseases and crime rob us of our loved ones on a daily basis. We gossip about others to feel better about ourselves and kill our soul with that six letter word called "STRESS".

If you're reading this, no doubt you're a fully functional person. We can't suddenly transform into a sunflower, rose or a little mountain. However, while we're here on earth, let's try to love "things" less and people more. 

This brings me to another quote I read recently:
People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved...and people are being used.
The more I think about it, the more I would love to be reincarnated as a part of nature - a bird who soars freely through the open skies, a mountain - standing tall and proud, or a rippling brook...drifting into a river and the ocean. Never-ending. Without any borders. Borders are for people.

Who will cry when you die? - Reflections post-Mandela funeral

Last Sunday, 15 December 2013, I joined (possibly?) millions around the world and sat glued to my TV screen from about 06:30. I surprised myself by how drawn in I was to this mammoth event.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as Nelson Mandela's casket was brought into the huge tent which was erected in a place that was unknown to many. Overnight, it became a hot spot the world over. Qunu. The world descended on Qunu in the Eastern Cape. Just a stones throw away from my hometown, East London.

Having listened to speeches, tributes and watched documentaries about this giant of a human being, it really made me think that it's not all about WHO Mandela was (the first democratically-elected president of South Africa), but more about WHAT he stood for.

After the funeral broadcast on TV, I thought long and hard about life. But then again,when am I NOT contemplating about life? Trying to find my little niche in this crazy rat race?

I came to the conclusion that all that really matters is how we live our life. We should live it in a way that when we arrive at our final destination, we can look over our shoulder with pride.

It's all about being kind, patient, tolerant and loving to your neighbour. There are days which are much easier than others. All in all, it depends if we lived a life filled with integrity and strong morals and values.

Reminds me of the title of one of Robin Sharma's books, "Who will cry when you die?" Something to think about...quite a lot to take in, but worthy to keep in mind before we speak or act.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

TEACHING IDEA: Interview warmer

In pairs, interview each other and say 3 interesting things about the person.

Good for first day activity

*Not created by me.

TEACHING IDEA: Express(o) Yourself

On A4 paper, Ss draw coffee cup with steam. On steam, write what they learned in lesson. Swap papers with others

*Not created by me

TEACHING IDEA: Me - the Movie

Individually, Ss list 3 movies everyone must see. Why?

Tell them a famous director wants to make a movie about their life. Ss must choose:
-Write 4 scenes which will be included

*Not created by me


Ss must list 3 things they love
Rank it: Most - least precious
Write a love letter to the item

*Not created by me.

TEACHING IDEA: I'm OK (good + -ing)

Pair ss (A & B)
List things they think they're good at.
"I'm good at playing tennis."
"I'm good at cooking."

A's must tell B's list (B's listen)
B's repeat back.

*Not created by me

TEACHING IDEA: Letters to the Editor

Ask ss if they ever wrote to an editor. If not, why not? What prompted them to write? Was their letter published?

Hand out letters to ss and ask:
-Why did they write? Complain? Share? Vent?
-General mood?
-Who or what made them angry?
-Who or what made them happy?

Pair ss & compare answers

Pick a letter & write a concise report

*Not created by me

TEACHING IDEA: Tabloid Titles

To introduce passive voie, ss must write about their class in tabloid titles.
Tabloid = news that isn't news, but entertainment.

eg: Class is contacted by aliens!
> Reading, writing, speaking and vocab development

*This wasn't created by me


Ss work in pairs
-10mins to invent new language
-greeting, farewell, thank you, please, sorry, why, because, if

*This wasn't created by me

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Ss work in pairs
-10mins to invent new language
-greeting, farewell, thank you, please, sorry, why, because, if

*This wasn't created by me

TEACHING IDEA: The Best 15 Mins

Ss must think about the best 15 mins of their day so far
-Who they were with
-What time of day
-Voices around them
-Did something unique happen?

*This was not created by me

Oxymoron: Holiday Stress!

I just read (rather, scanned) an article about the stress that December - or better know as "The Holidays" - brings with it. And it dawned on me that I am one of of those people who DO stress out during this period.

It's the time for the annual "life stock" to take place. You think about all those goals you hoped to achieve way back in January. After realizing that you achieved 2 out of 5 goals, instead of celebrating your success, you prefer to dwell on those that have gone past their due date. Once that's out the way, the ever looming issue of holiday season descends upon us.

For those fortunate enough to have family, this time of year is often regarded as sacred family time. For me, Christmas Day involves waking up early in the morning, making our way to the lounge, handing out gifts, opening gifts and then proceeding to breakfast - which always includes Christmas mince pies (love 'em!)

This year, I have very little holiday. In fact, I'm back to work on the 30th. We have only January 1 off and then back to work on the 2nd. While most people detest this, the only word I can think of is "relief". I don't have to worry about the anxiety of New Year's eve. Why is there so much pressure on this one night on the calendar anyway? Is it about where you'll be when the clock strikes 12? OR (perhaps more importantly) who will you be with?

For the past few years, I remember New Years as this: Our family's Jack Russell will start to tremble from the fireworks. Mum will be awake watching TV with me. Countdown begins. We wish each other Happy New Year. And then go to bed.

Gone are the days of sending messages to every single contact on my phone. And gone are the days when my phone would start beeping from 6pm with texts from people I haven't heard from in eons. This year, I want NYE to come and go. Quick and painless.

I do, however, feel like I'm over the whole hype of "Where you gonna be for NYE?" So what? Oh, I have a sneaky suspicion that 'age' is a big factor in this.

I'd have been at work on the 30th and 31st, so what if I decide to go to bed at 21:30?! Will I be labeled as a loser for sleeping while thousands of others usher in the new year? Actually, I could care less.

I've always been a fan of "new" - new books with crispy pages, Mondays (!) a chance to restart, a new month etc... A new year brings with it many great opportunities and hope. Hope that it will be better than the previous year. Faith that everything will work out JUST the way it's meant to. The only task we need to fulfill is to be grateful for the blessings we have up to now. One thing I know for sure is, I have an abundance of blessings and these overflow in my heart!

So...what are YOUR plans for the "silly season"?