Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Tactics Used by Abusers: Sounds Familiar?


Domestic abuse often escalates from verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological costs are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-esteem, lead to depression, and give you a sense of helplessness. Recognising that your situation is abusive is the first step to being free.

Signs of an abusive relationship

  • feelings of self-loathing
  • feelings of helplessness
  • feelings of desperation
  • fear of your partner
  • walking on eggshells around your partner
  • constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up
  • your partner belittles you
  • your partner controls you

Abusers use tactics to wield their control

Dominance– Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the relationship. They will make decisions for you and the family, tell you what to do, and expect you to obey without question. Your abuser may treat you like a servant, child, or even as his or her possession.

Humiliation– An abuser will do everything he or she can to make you feel bad about yourself. After all, if you believe you are worthless and that no one else will want you, you are less likely to escape. Insults, name-calling, shaming, and public belittlement are all artillery of abuse.

Isolation– In order to increase your dependence on him/ her, an abusive partner will cut you off from the outside world by keeping you from seeing friends and family, or even prevent you from going to work.

Threats– Abusers commonly use threats to keep their partners from leaving. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, or other family members, and may threaten to report you to child services.

Intimidation– Your abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics intended to scare you into obedience. Such tactics include making threatening gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, or putting weaponry on display.

Denial and blame–Your abusive partner may minimise the abuse or deny that it occurred. He or she will commonly shift the blame onto you.

Survival strategies of abused women

Abused women develop astonishing ways of surviving the violence. Others rarely understand these strategies because they often seem unhelpful when viewed from outside the relationship. Often, a woman's survival strategies are used to support the myths around abuse and to blame her for the abuse.

Denial or minimising and making light of the abuse: pretending that the abuse isn't happening because it is too overwhelming to face what it means in her life

Learning not to fight back

Substance abuse

Paralysis: not doing anything because whatever she does leads to more abuse.

Isolation and fear of intervention from outsiders (includes a woman refusing to contact the police or withdrawing charges): people who do not understand the situation often end up making it worse.

Trying to please the abuser: attempting to prevent violent outbreaks.

Hyper-vigilance (walking on eggshells): attempting to prevent violent outbreaks.
Playing "Superwoman": attempting to prevent violent outbreaks.

Belief in her own inferiority: The abuser insists that she accept his opinions and be submissive, passive and indecisive. He needs her to be dependent and subservient so he can feel in control. If she is not, he is likely to become violent.

Taking steps to heal and move on

The trauma of what you’ve been through can stay with you long after you’ve escaped the abusive situation. Counselling, therapy, and support groups for domestic abuse survivors can help you process what you’ve been through and learn how to build new and healthy relationships.

After the trauma you’ve been through, you may be struggling with upsetting emotions, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger that you just can’t kick. Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. It can take a while to feel safe again. However, treatment and support from family and friends can speed your recovery from emotional and psychological trauma


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Relationships: Things that might sabotage them

There are some things that will sabotage or damage any relationship, regardless of how well you might think things are going.

So, how is your relationship going? Coasting along, or are you skirting in between the landmines? These are seven things that will sabotage any relationship.

Jealousy. Possessiveness and jealousy on your part will only make your partner feel trapped. This could lead to them wanting to get away from you, because you make them feel claustrophobic. Ironically the single thing you wanted to prevent.

Sexual problems. If you are having sexual problems, and are unable to talk about them, or get it together to go for professional help, alarm bells should be ringing. Different people have different sexual needs, so once a week may be quite sufficient for one partner, but not for the other.

Old issues. Long shadows from the past can cast a pall over present relationships. If you have abandonment issues, self-image issues, self-worth issues, drug issues, dependency issues or endless financial issues, it is unrealistic to expect them not to have an impact on the relationship you are currently having.

Financial woes. Financial worry is part and parcel of life – few couples never have these. But constant agonising about money, running up of debts and misspending can cause a lot of tension in any relationship. When couples are unable to synchronise their spending habits or their financial values, trouble looms.

Parenting styles. Parents need to present a united front to their children. If one parent allows the kids to do things and the other forbids it, it causes confusion for the children and stress in relationships. When children are stepchildren, this becomes even more important. Parents need to decide on certain ground rules and stick to them.

In-law troubles. When parents are unhappy with your choice of spouse, or parents are unwilling to let go of their child and let him/her start a new life, it causes great trouble for the couple. There is ongoing stress and family dramas and everyone feels they are being pulled in different directions.

Old flames. Sometimes there are old boyfriends or girlfriends who just won't back off. This can cause endless dramas and jealous fits. If it really upsets your partner that you see an old flame, weigh up the different issues here. Is a cup of tea with an old boyfriend really worth an unpleasant atmosphere at home for days? On the other hand, does your partner perhaps have a reason to feel insecure.


Careful what you do


Monday, 25 February 2013

Bad Winter Habits to be aware of

Eating comfort foods

Bad diet habits during winter tend to be a common issue, but be aware that eating foods with too much sugar, or fat, and not enough fruit and vegetables can harm your immune system. You could also gain weight, which can put you at risk of many diseases such as obesity and heart-related problems in the long run. Follow this routine to stay healthy this winter and after.

Not doing any exercise

In winter people become lazy when it comes to exercise, and a chilly wind or gust of rain can undermine your best intentions. It’s obvious that you will gain weight and you’re at risk of various diseases in the future. Walk (outdoors or on a treadmill) at least 20 minutes a day and that will help your immune system to perform better to fight flu and colds.

Sleeping for too long


Winter is sometimes a good reason to change our sleeping patterns. We tend to go sleep earlier than usual and wake up later, blaming it to the miserable weather. But research links sleeping too much with increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. It is better to stick to a regular sleep routine.

Spending too much time indoors

We might find it important to stay indoors at all times during winter because of the cold, but houses might not be well-ventilated, so dust, smoke and odours re-circulate. Get out in the sun (if it’s around) as it will help to keep your spirits up. Do not forget to open the windows for fresh air every now and then.

Drinking less water

Coffee and tea are popular drinks on cold winter days, and often people do not drink enough water, which could lead to dehydration. Weight management begins with good hydration and since water weakens the appetite stimuli, it helps to reduce fat deposits. Water plays an important role in regulating all body functions. If you crave the comfort of a warm drink, try warm water with a slice of lemon.


Look after yourself!

Friday, 22 February 2013

HIV/AIDS: Just a reminder

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infects cells of the immune system

Infection results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, breaking down the body's ability to fend off some infections and other diseases. AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome) refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infection, defined by the occurrence of any of more than 20 opportunistic infections or related cancers.


HIV can be transmitted in several ways


HIV can be transmitted through:

  • unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal) or oral sex with an infected person;
  • transfusions of contaminated blood;
  • the sharing of contaminated needles, syringes or other sharp instruments;
  • the transmission between a mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

34 million people live with HIV worldwide

The vast majority are in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated 2.5 million people were newly infected with the virus in 2011.

HIV is the world’s leading infectious killer

About 25 million people have died to date. An estimated 1.7 million people died of HIV/AIDS in 2011.

Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevents the HIV virus from multiplying in the body

If the reproduction of the HIV virus stops, then the body's immune cells are able to live longer and provide the body with protection from infections. If the HIV positive partner in a couple is on ART, the likelihood of sexual transmission to the HIV-negative partner decreases dramatically.

Over 8 million HIV-positive people had access to ART in low- and middle-income countries at the end of 2011

Overall, the coverage of ART in low- and middle-income countries continued to increase and was 54% of the close to 15 million people eligible for treatment.

An estimated 3.34 million children are living with HIV

According to 2011 figures most of the children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Over 900 children become newly infected with HIV each day.

Mother-to-child-transmission of HIV is almost entirely avoidable

Access to preventive interventions remains limited in most low- and middle-income countries. But progress has been made. In 2011, 57% of pregnant women living with HIV received the most effective drug regimens (as recommended by WHO) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus

HIV is the strongest risk factor for developing active TB disease

In 2011, approximately 430 000 deaths from tuberculosis occurred among people living with HIV. That is one quarter of the estimated 1.7 million deaths from HIV in that year. The majority of people living with both HIV and TB reside in sub-Saharan Africa (about 79% of cases worldwide).

There are several ways to prevent HIV transmission

Key ways to prevent HIV transmission:

  • practice safe sexual behaviors such as using condoms;
  • get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV;
  • avoid injecting drugs, or if you do, always use new and disposable needles and syringes;
  • ensure that any blood or blood products that you might need are tested for HIV.


5 ways to keep your cool when counting to 10 no longer works

Here are 5 ways to keep your cool when counting to 10 no longer works…

1. Distance yourself.

Get space and take a timeout from the person or circumstance that is fuelling your frustration. Sometimes a break is all that is required as it gives you an opportunity to think before you act and it gives you time to rationalize the situation so when the time is right, you can deal with it better.

2. Be non-confrontational.

Go ahead and express your feelings constructively. It may be hard at first, but bear in mind that an unnecessary outburst can only make your situation worse.

3. Think before you speak.

When we’re angry, it’s easy to say things – often on impulse - that we don’t actually mean. Once you’re calm, rather grab a pen and paper and jot down everything you want to say first.

4. Avoid resentment.

Begrudging will only make dealing with issues more difficult. Learn to forgive. It’s an instant mood-enhancer.

5. Laugh about it.

Seriously. Making light of a trivial situation will ease your tension and release pent-up stress. Also, try to avoid sarcasm and cynicism when talking about what bothers you. It’s petty and doesn’t help your cause


Thursday, 21 February 2013

How to deal with annoying Colleagues

Some of us are lucky; we work with great people whom we truly consider as family. Some of us, however, are not so lucky. This article is for them.

So you work with someone who constantly grates your nerves but you aren’t sure how to approach the matter? Don’t worry; you’re not alone, this happens to most of us at some time or another in our career.

One good thing to remember is that the colleague irritating you may not even be aware of his or her behaviour. Constant chatting, gossiping, rudeness, incessant pen clicking, coffee slurping – all highly irritating habits that, depending on our mood, can either be tolerable or absolutely maddening.

But how do you get them to stop? I hear you asking…

Try out these simple tips – you might be surprised at the response.

1. Just say it, but say it nicely.

Tell your colleague exactly what it is they do that’s driving you up the wall, but tell them nicely – if it’s something simple like pen clicking the chances are that they aren’t even aware of their annoying behaviour.

If the annoying behaviour is more like gossiping, let your colleague know how you feel about it and that you don’t want to be a part of it, bringing up the issue is usually enough to stop it.

2. Extend a hand in friendship.

Sometimes making a concerted effort to be nice to a problem colleague can see them doing a complete turnaround in how they treat you. If the annoying behaviour is aimed at you, simply getting to know the person a bit more can help you both to understand each other.

3. Keep things in perspective.

If your colleagues are in the habit of stopping by your desk to gossip or chat, and this socialising is getting in the way of your productivity, you will need to let your co-workers know that you have priorities. Arrange to chat after hours or during your lunch break, but be clear about your boundaries while working.

4. Fight fire with fire, but carefully.

If the problems you’re having involve a co-worker being rude to you or constantly shooting down your ideas, repeat the behaviour back to them, but explain afterwards why you were dismissive or rude and let them know how it makes you feel when they do the same to you.

Be careful to not overstep here, if you need to take the matter further you don’t want your colleague to be able to say you’ve been doing the same things.

5. Report the problem co-worker.

When you are unable to resolve the conflict between yourself and your colleague alone, it might be time to take further action.

If the actions of a co-worker are hindering your ability to work, or making your job unpleasant, you may have to report the individual to management and allow the matter to follow the prescribed procedure – but this should only be done as a last resort.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Curse of living in diaspora

Certain people would think I am crazy to be washing some of Africa’s dirty linens in public, and yes I am doing exactly that. It’s the begging mentality. Don’t shoot the messenger. I have been asked to write about this and as an author, I can never resist. I have always been admired people who work. One man for himself, and God for all is what I think has made some countries develop especially in Europe. That works well but also the state carry the burden. In these countries those who work do work and very hard, yet there is a percentage that sits on their back side for the state benefit system. The benefit system was from my understanding introduced so people can have some help while they are in between jobs or when they suddenly found themselves out of work. However because of the greedy nature of human beings everywhere, some people actually decide not to work and become benefit scroungers. Don’t get me wrong, there are some genuinely fighting hard to get back to work.

 In some of the African cultures including mine, children are expected to look after the parents in old age. I don’t have a problem with that. The problem is when adults who can work sit on their backside in Africa, waiting for the relations in the diaspora to send the hard earned pounds/dollar/euro every month. It might not be hard earned money but the point is we all have a responsibility to look after ourselves. Some people have been known to resign from ‘’low paying jobs’’ in Africa because a cousin in the UK or Canada can help them. This kind of behaviour is the root of all evil in my opinion.

My article is not about about Europe though but readers think of the similarities. Most Africans would agree with me that we have always looked after each other‘s back- families and even the extended families. Nothing wrong with that but all of a sudden those who moved abroad found themselves in this difficult situation. Here is how those left home think:

·         There is so much money in the diaspora -ALWAYS.

·         You have to help them even when you say you have no money

·         They are suffering back home and they must be helped

·         If you say NO to their demands, it’s not because you don’t have but you are just being mean

·         There are so many opportunities abroad and you can’t be out of work at any point

·         So and so bought their brother/sister a house so why don’t you buy one for me?

·         You have been in the diaspora this long but you have nothing?(forgetting you were busy paying fees and helping out everyone)

·         Money and more money

·         People are always partying here, so let’s all share

·         Economic situations like recession only affect Africa, not Europe

The list is endless but it’s all about GIVE, GIVE, GIVE. To make it worse sometimes you are lucky to get a thank you even after sacrificing for them. These people do not scrounge the state, but their relatives who are working hard to sustain themselves and their family where ever they live. Even so, some people lie in order to extort money from their families abroad. There has been an increased report of relative who had actually stopped working and expect their families in the diaspora to pay their bills. Helping is good and it feels good to help somebody. Is it helping if it becomes a burden on the other person?

Here is the truth:

·         People in diaspora have got bills, University fees, mortgages etc to pay

·         People are working odd shifts in order to make ends meet

·         People are making sacrifices in order to send money to relations back home

·         Some people back in Africa live a worry free life because they know all their needs are taken care by relations in diaspora

·         When people want money they manipulate your and lie in order to make you give them more money.

·         People here have no social life as they are working most of the time to feed these demands.

 (The list is endless- Most African people in diaspora would know what I am talking about)

Do they have to do this? Yes, we have always been taught to look after our own? And yet, this has now ceased to be helping but being scrounged by our own.

Don’t get me wrong, I have done my research and I have spoken to people from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana and many others and it’s the same story- working for the whole clan. What has made some of our people so lazy? Surely it should be every able bodied man’s responsibility to look after themselves rather than all the time expect hand outs from other people. Mind you in Africa it’s not the state that is scrounged, it’s those living and working in diaspora

I did ask those I spoke to what they thought went wrong?

I was told those of us abroad have made it difficult for ourselves. Here is how we helped dig our graves

·         Having left home for greener pastures or whatever reason, we have to prove to friends and relations that we made the right decision.

How do we prove this? - By claiming to have a life we do not actually have, talking money that we do not have.

·         Not telling people the truth

·         Pride

·         Just being able to say No and mean it.

The problem is once you start giving it’s hard to wean these parasites. They want more and more and more. You always feel guilty and sometimes you get so much pressure from other relations and may be in the end give.

My view - Nothing wrong with helping when you have got enough but doing this every month, being lied to and being asked to support projects that do not exist, I would call this being manipulated.

Thanks to those who agreed to talk to me on this issue.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

And here is to a great love relationship….

It takes effort for relationships to work and stay intact. Here are a few tips.

Use your head, not just your heart, when picking a man and look at the whole package before making your choice.

Know the difference between lust and love – it will save you a lot of heartache.

Learn to voice your desires: Your partner isn't psychic and he can't make you happy unless you let him know what fulfills you.

Work at your relationship: A close bond is forged through hard work and constant attention; it's not automatic.

Don't let yourself go: You don't have to bring sexy back but being clean and presentable goes a long way.

Understand that your feelings may change over time: you won't stay drunk with joy forever but that doesn't mean you don't love each other.

There is a difference between sex and intimacy: Sex is one avenue to intimacy. Intimacy involves talking and revealing every facet of yourself – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Communicate, communicate, communicate! Talking about everything is the only way you'll deal with problems, maintain intimacy and know if you're on the same wavelength.

 Understand that you're a unit, but you're both also individuals and your partner is not responsible for your personal happiness – you are. Have a life outside your relationship.

Learn to apologise – even if you don't always say "sorry", making up after an argument is crucial

Friday, 15 February 2013

Female Genital Mutilation and Men


I have been thinking, since I became aware of female genital mutilation, whether men should be involved in the campaign to end it? The answer is YES.

From time back women in many societies have done things to please both physically and mentally.

In Africa for example, society has always expected women to go to extraordinary lengths in order to please men. Women were often prepared for marriage at a tender age. Girls were taught to cook for their men, run a house and make sure things ran smoothly when they were married. Don’t get me wrong! Men were also subjected to various forms of initiation but never as physically rigorous. While men came out of these initiations looking strong and ready to start a family, young girls who had gone through FGM emerged as mentally weak, timid shadows of their former selves.

In some cultures girls were expected to develop their clitoris. This  happened between  the age of seven and the start of  menstruation. It was supposed to be a daily routine for the purpose of enhancing the sexual pleasure of future husbands.

The mutilation of the clitoris again has its origins in male gratification. In societies where FGM is practised ,women are not expected to enjoy sex as much hence the deliberate and brutal arrest of their sexual desires. Not men! In such cultures men are allowed as many wives as they can get. I think it’s time for good men to get involved. They can make huge strides , merely  by accepting that this procedure is neither acceptable nor necessary. At the moment all I see is women making the effort. It  would be so much more effective if men stood up and joined the quest to end this horrific practise. No man in his right frame of mind could fail to see how painful this procedure is.

As a brother, father and son, just take a moment to think about the physical and mental consequences of FGM.


Written by Abigal Muchecheti, Author of Married to a devil and soon to be released ‘A Lost Youth’- a book on Female Genital Mutilation.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Womanly habits to break

From carrying heavy handbags to wearing crippling heels, here are some womanly habits you should try to break.

Wearing heels

More and more of us are opting to wear heels on a daily basis, and this could be bad news for our health. High heels affect our posture, put pressure on joints, and can lead to a range of conditions including arthritis, hammer toes, back pain and tendon injuries – and that’s before you take into account any heel-related accidents! To minimise damage, limit your heels to 1.5 inches for daily wear, and wear insoles to help reduce the pressure on joints.

Carrying a heavy handbag

With the rising number of gadgets and accessories the majority of women haul around, many of us are carrying around several pounds of weight on our shoulders every day. As a result, lots of us are also putting our long term health at risk. While you may not feel the effects right now, lugging around a heavy handbag can lead to serious back problems and neck pain as well as poor posture. Don’t wait until the damage is done – do your health a favour and try clearing out all non-essential items and switching to a smaller bag.

Sleeping in makeup

Most of us have succumbed to the temptation to sleep in our post-party makeup at some point. However, leaving makeup on overnight – along with the dirt and oil that naturally accumulates on skin throughout the day –is a quick route to clogged pores, congested skin and spots. Sleeping with mascara and eye makeup on can also affect your health by causing eye irritation, bloodshot eyes or even infection.

Matching men drink for drink

From networking drinks to first dates and social events, there are many instances when women may feel compelled to keep up with the drinking habits of the opposite sex. However, women not only tend to weigh less than men but they have less body water to dilute the alcohol, which means they tend to get more drunk more quickly. To minimise the risks of alcohol on your health, try to keep within the recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption and alternate alcohol with soft drinks.

Wearing the wrong bra size

It is thought that more than 70 per cent of women are wearing the wrong bra size. However, wearing a badly fitted bra can not only affect the look of your clothes, but research suggests it can cause a range of health problems including back, neck and breast pain, breathing difficulties, poor posture, skin irritation, circulation problems and even irritable bowel syndrome. Rather than guessing your size, make sure you get measured to ensure you are getting the support you need.

It’s never too late to make changes.


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Make up mistakes not to make

Mistake 1: too much make-up

Applying too much foundation and mascara are common mistakes. Foundation must never give the impression you are wearing a mask – too much can also emphasise fine lines and wrinkles. Too much mascara can look unnatural and become messy by the end of the day.


Solution: Invest in a good foundation or concealer and apply only where necessary. Give your eyes and lips a natural look by day, and ensure that your mascara doesn't leave clumps.


Mistake 2: not blending make-up properly

When it comes to eye shadow, the rainbow effect is taboo, as are hard lines around the eyes and lips. If you try to create 'contours ' with bronzer or blusher, or try to emphasise your cheekbones in this way, chances are the result will be a grubby- looking face.


Solution: Take a critical look at your made-up face: Are any lines visible? If so, blend them for a softer effect. Avoid liquid eyeliner unless you are able to apply it extremely neatly. Alternatively, use a small, stubby brush to apply eye shadow instead of eyeliner for a softer effect. When applying blusher, concentrate on the apples of your cheeks – the colour will emphasise the rounded part of your cheek and naturally accentuate the hollow beneath it.


Mistake 3: neglected teeth

Your smile is often the first thing that people notice on meeting you. Teeth that are well cared for are not only healthy but will take years off your appearance.

Solution: Floss and brush regularly, and have broken or chipped teeth attended to. If your teeth have yellowed, consult your dentist about whitening them


Mistake 4: unkempt or over-plucked eyebrows

Eyebrow fashions change as often as hemlines do – don’t follow the latest eyebrow fashions slavishly. Never pluck your eyebrows too heavily – sometimes they don’t grow back or they grow back in all directions.


Solution: Maintain eyebrows of fair thickness and pluck in a neat, natural line. Fill any gaps with brown eye shadow and a fine brush, but ensure that there are no obvious lines.


Mistake 5: make-up that is too bright

Brightly coloured eye make-up and mascara may be the height of fashion but is not intended for everyday use, because it looks hard and unnatural. It can also make you look older. Forget about the old-fashioned idea of matching your eye shadow with your eye colour. Shades of bronze and brown flatter all eye colours.


Solution: Leave the bright-blue eye shadow, eyeliner and mascara to the teenagers and rather go for neutral brown, grey-brown, beige and bronze, which always look more stylish. Experiment with different shades of lipstick, but avoid colours such as shocking pink and make sure that the shade suits your complexion.


Mistake 6: lip liner competing with lipstick

This is probably one of the commonest make-up mistakes: too-dark lip liner contrasting with lighter-coloured lipstick. Lip liner has many advantages – it prevents lipstick from 'bleeding ' and helps it last longer – but it must be applied correctly.

Solution: Choose lip liner in the same shade as your lipstick – especially if it is a dark colour. Otherwise, choose one that is one or two shades darker than your natural lip colour. Apply it over the entire lip area before applying lipstick or gloss, as this will prevent you ending the day with a line around your mouth.

Mistake 7: end-of-the-day make-up

Check your eye shadow regularly. Because of the natural oils protecting the eye area, shadow tends to smudge, especially if it is cream-based. Foundation can also appear streaky during the day as a result of an oily T-panel or perspiration.

Solution: Apply foundation to the eye area followed by powder to set it before applying powder eye shadow. Restrict cream shadow to the eyebrow area. Set foundation with loose powder.

Mistake 8: neglected hands and feet

Well-cared-for hands and feet neatly round off your appearance and, with little expense and effort, are within everyone's reach. Neglected hands and nails, or cracked heels can ruin your entire appearance.

Solution: Apply hand cream regularly – keep a tube in your handbag and at every tap in your home. Prevent cracked heels by regularly applying moisturising cream to your feet and buffing hardened skin. Give regular attention to your fingernails and toenails, or have a regular manicure and pedicure.

Mistake 9: no hairstyle

A hastily tied ponytail, hair clipped to the top or sides of your head, or scraped back with an elasticised headband are temporary solutions for a visit to the gym or for working in the garden, but cannot be called a hairstyle.

Solution: Visit the hairdresser at least every two months for a good haircut – it can transform your appearance and crown a well-groomed face and body.


Look after yourself!


Monday, 11 February 2013

Are you depressed?

First things first. You are not weak or crazy and you have nothing to be ashamed about. Clinical depression is a real, and not very rare psychological condition, and it can be treated very effectively.

If you are feeling powerless, don't despair. With the right treatment you can get your life back. The following symptoms shouldn't be treated as a diagnosis, but merely as a guideline to help you decide if this might not be just a slump you're going through.

Things you used to enjoy seem empty and meaningless
You've lost interest in your hobbies, work and relationships. Fun pastimes like socialising, reading, watching movies etc. don’t seem to distract or entertain you. Try as you might, all the things you always loved doing suddenly seem hollow.

 Mornings and late afternoons are the worst
You wake up in the mornings feeling tired and unable to face the day. Even small things, like washing your hair or picking something up from the drycleaners seem like enormous tasks. After you've showered and dragged yourself to work you may start feeling better. You do your daily chores with more energy, but when you get home and the sun sets you feel lethargic, incompetent or anxious. In short, you experience the "Sunday night blues" seven days of the week.

Change in eating patterns
You've either lost interest in food because everything tastes like sawdust in your mouth or you've suddenly started scarfing anything that's not nailed down to the table. Your favourite dish has lost all appeal or you'll find yourself eating an entire loaf of bread just for the sake of it. This is most easily identified by sudden weight loss or weight gain.

 You experience a disconnect with other people
Try as you might you just can't seem to interact normally with other people. You feel separated from your loved ones and alienated from the rest of society. You have that nagging teenage feeling that nobody understands you. The good news is, you may be right! But a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist will.

You have morbid fantasies and court the idea of self-harm
You might not consider suicide directly, but every now and then sneaking thoughts of a tragic accident that will End It All pop up in your conscious mind. If these are more than sneaking thoughts, and if you begin to believe that death is your only way out, get up NOW and phone your doctor.

It feels as if your situation is hopeless, but trust me, and millions of other people who have suffered from this, it's not. Get help, get your life back.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Procrastination: Are you guilty as Charged?

Procrastination is a way of delaying the inevitable - a way of avoiding reality. It's our way of putting off a task that should be actioned in the present moment into the future - a future that is bound to happen whether we would like it to or not.

When we procrastinate, we know we should be doing something but yet we keep doing something else instead... things we feel we would "enjoy" more now.

We tend to procrastinate on the tasks that we perceive to bring us less joy in the present moment and the irony of this is that it could very well be that one thing that could eventually bring us the most joy - when all we had to do was put in the effort!

Procrastination can bring feelings of regret, so why put off that task you know needs doing so that you can have peace of mind? Do you not feel better about your circumstances when you have knowingly put in effort and have been productive?

We have all been slaves to procrastination at one time or another and it can be a real effort to pick ourselves up and start taking action.

With that said, here are some of my favourite ways to do just that, and I sure do hope you can find some inspiration here too:

1. Change your environment.

Sometimes certain environments can trigger feelings we have associated with it - typically based on past events and actions. So, for example, if you know that when you park your behind on the couch to eat your breakfast that you will become a couch potato because you know you would just end up watching TV all day - by all means, do not put yourself there!

Change things up - physically take yourself out of that situation you created and go have your breakfast at the kitchen counter, dinner table, or outside on the patio, and when you do - just have your breakfast, and do it mindfully.

2. Create a to do list with small deadlines.

If you feel overwhelmed with everything you have to do - write it down! Make a list of tasks and cross them off one by one as you action them.

There is something very satisfying about physically crossing items off a list. There is also a lot of writing out there that tell you to "eat the frog for breakfast" - to get the biggest tasks out of the way first so you can enjoy the rest of your day.

Remember to put a deadline on your tasks, be it in minutes, hours, days, weeks or months. Be as specific as possible and that way you will have something to work towards.

3. Realize the task is a lot simpler than you make it out to be.

When you break it down into smaller, more doable tasks, you will realize you have been putting it off for no reason. Say, for instance, you would like to write a book.

Writing a book a big task and can take months before it will be completed! If you don't break it down into bite-sized chunks, or create smaller doable deliverables over a period of time, it could end up becoming something you'd never get done all because it all seemed so overwhelming!

Create step by step tasks, with specific deadlines attached to each and follow through.

4. Reward yourself.

Whenever you complete your tasks by the allotted deadlines, reward yourself! But remember not to let the "rewarding" process end up becoming your procrastination process. Decide which tasks will require a reward and what the reward will be, and stick to it. Straying from it could make you end up veering away from the actual goal.

5. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to take action.

There's a saying that states that you become who you hang out with. So be sure to surround yourself with those that support you, those that are a living success of the goals you are trying to achieve.

Those that can give you the advice and the push you need in order to get what you want.

Use various mediums to find these people, whether they're part of a social group you belong to or even online!

6. Tell others about your goals.

When you tell others about your goals, you're affirming them as well as holding yourself accountable for them. Get the word out there - share them with your family and friends, that way they will constantly ask you how your plans are going in working towards that goal.

It's a sure-fire to make yourself responsible for the actions you need to take in order to achieve it.

7. Get over yourself and just do it!

Wherever you are, make a conscious decision to pick yourself up and take action! Remember to keep the momentum going after completing tasks, as soon as you start slacking it will become an endless spiral and so you end up procrastinating again. Suck it up and just do what you need to do - you owe it to yourself.

Remember, procrastinating can make you go in circles and you could end up being stuck in a rut. You should consistently action tasks that help you to advance your life.

Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to achieving your goals and have everything you ever wanted in your life. You have the power to make it happen.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Are you Assertive Enough?

Being assertive in any job is vital. Imagine the shop owner unable to say no when asked for a discount. Or the admin clerk who ends up doing everyone’s copies at the printer. Or the shop assistant who keeps covering the shifts of one (or more) of their colleagues.

In each of these instances the effect of not being able to say ‘no’ is bound to have a detrimental knock-on effect in the individual’s work, be it a loss in revenue, falling behind on their deadlines or even experiencing a physical drain.

This is why learning to say ‘no’ is so important… Use the tips below to help you remain assertive when being asked a bit too much.

Know your limitations. Decide beforehand what is acceptable for you and what is not. If you are prepared to work someone else’s shift no more than twice a month, keep to this. In other words, stick to your guns.

Just say no.
Instead of skirting around the issue and coming up with weak excuses, simply say: No, I am unable to do that. If the asker continues, repeat your phrase. Drop a word or two off of your phrase (e.g. No, I am unable), and if he or she continues, again drop a few words until you’re left with just ‘No’.

Anticipate responses.
Think about what reaction you are likely to get and plan accordingly. Know the facts and be ready to quote them when necessary.

Stick to the issue, keep it impersonal.
You’re not saying no because you don’t like the person, you’re saying no because you don’t have the time, or because you are being taken advantage of, or because you haven’t slept more than three hours a night for the past week. Therefore, keep the conversation on topic and don’t blow your top shouting about how you’re always being asked to do things and how no one ever even thanks you

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Female Genital Mutilation,Africa and the world Part 1

On the day of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, I thought I would write something about this practice. I have always said it is not the same hearing or reading about a situation. It is when one experiences it that one knows how it feels.  What is Africa doing about this? A large percentage of FGM enthusiasts are in Africa and because of globalization, this practice is now virtually a global problem. FGM has always been done in secret which could be why not much was known to the rest of the world. I was brought up in a community where most people actually encouraged young girls to have their clitoris longer if there was a way of doing this rather than remove them.  There was no form of initiation one had to go through besides the natural menstruation that every woman has to go through. Having any person tampering with my genitalia was unheard of.  But that never stopped a few people in the neighbourhood from performing this practice. They were different from us and it was their culture.

I vowed to check it out. I was young then but I have realised that ignorance is no excuse.  Some African people I have come across for example just don’t want to talk about FGM and sees anyone who does as an attacker of a culture. I have been attacked by men,- African men for talking about this. Let’s not fool ourselves. Ignoring something will not make it go away. We have a problem, a violation of women and girl’s rights. Let’s not stand by and watch.  Lets not be accomplices in perpetrating violence against fellow beings. Let’s stand together, young and old, men and women and end this evil practice.

Mothers should be brave enough not to let their children go through a procedure that does not add value to the sexuality of a woman. Female Genital Mutilation has no place in any girl’s life.

Author of ‘Married to a Devil’

My book on Female Genital Mutilation will soon be out. Read for yourself first hand information on the evil practice. Please keep checking my blog and help spread the message to end this evil practice.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Fussy Eaters and how to deal with them

If there’s one thing every parent of young children understands it’s the frustration of trying to get their kids to eat a balanced diet. You begin with noble ideals – my children will only eat organic, they won’t eat sugar, this is a no-preservative household – only to break all your own rules because you’d rather your child eat something than nothing at all. And it just so happens that the only thing you kid will eat at the moment is mashed potatoes and jelly beans.

Some children have a lot of trouble adapting to new flavours and textures when it comes to food. Understanding that it’s anxiety and fear that’s fuelling the fussy eating (and not bloody-mindedness, although that comes into play too) can go a long way to allaying your own frustrations. The more you focus on getting the child to eat, the more anxious he or she can become, and the less likely they are to clean their plates.

Experts suggest that getting children involved with the shopping and cooking process is a good way for them to learn about different foods, and take an interest in them. The following can help make food less intimidating for kids:

  • Do family shopping trips. Ask your child to pick a new type of food each time to encourage trying new things. Talk to them about vegetables and fruit and why they’re good for growing bodies. Research the facts so you can fuel your child’s mind as well as body.
  • Give your child a role in the kitchen, be it stirring the pot or washing the lettuce or helping grate cheese, if they’re old enough. A child is more likely to want to eat a meal they helped contribute to making because they feel a sense of ownership over it.
  • Try not to shout or get angry. If your child was having trouble learning to swim, you’d be encouraging when they did something right and offer consolation when they weren’t feeling so confident. Approach eating the same way.
  • Set a good example. By eating well, enjoying your healthy choices and explaining your food choices to your child, he or she will soon want to emulate you and feel included in the fun.

Despite your best efforts, some kids remain stubbornly reluctant to eat properly. In this instance, the best thing to do would be to invest in a good nutritional supplement to ensure your kid gets all the vitamins vital for healthy development.