Apr 29, 2012

Giving alms to beggars at intersections

Some of us complain about beggars all the time. What about living in a place like India where hordes of little children run up to you when you come out of a building and are clamoring around you in the street for a rupee or two? We don’t have India’s problem with beggars. Here the beggars can be givers themselves. It’s amazing what people will tell you when someone runs up to your car at an intersection when they don’t want to give. Yes, the beggar is a nuisance at intersections, but many of them ask to do your windows or try to sell you a bag of oranges of avocados. They will say beggars are choosy, or that someone should get rid of them. What’s up with the stinginess? Cape Town would not be the same without them. You have a job or a partner who brings home money from his job as an architect or a plumber and don’t have to worry as you will probably have a juicy steak with roast potatoes for supper.

Twenty rand is all it takes.

Buy yourself happiness for the day by giving a complete stranger begging for something a crisp twenty rand note and see what happens. He will bless you and your mother and your dead uncles up and down and you will feel really good. What is twenty rand to you? It is nothing, but to the beggar it might mean the difference between going to bed with an empty stomach and feeling good. Don’t say that he will spend it on liquor or drugs. Give it without restriction. You might even decide to make Friday or any other day your twenty rand day. Have loose change in the car; not five and two cents, but five rand coins.

Incident in Toronto in the 70s

I was living in Toronto in the 70s when I was accosted by an old woman in a ratty coat and big boots and a bag on her shoulder who asked for a quarter (twenty-five cents coin) and I stopped and I gave it to her. Every day this woman would wait for me at the door of the office building where I worked as a paralegal. One day it was snowing and I had to walk some distance to my car. When I got to the car it was under snow from the afternoon blitz. I saw the bag lady and saw her getting into a cab. I was astounded. I could not even afford to take a cab but she could. The following day when I left work, I saw her again loitering on the pavement. She asked me for money. I told her I did not have. She swore at me. I was very upset. I had given her money and this was how she treated me when I did not have. For years I did not give anything to beggars, and then I started again. I realized that when I did not give, I was using the bag lady as an excuse, and I changed my thinking. Even though she was rude she still needed money and if I gave it should be with a clean and generous heart. Why not make Friday your twenty rand day?


Apr 28, 2012

Things I would like to do with the rest of my life

Having reached 65 and having written ten novels, two film scripts, and directed a movie Confessions of a Gambler, I can say that I have achieved a childhood dream – and as a Muslim woman, quite a feat in then apartheid South Africa. I was convinced as a child that I would not like working in a 9 to 5 job in an office and because of my rotten childhood, I scribbled and read a lot not knowing that it was a coping mechanism in those early years. I

The Canadian years

I left for Canada, married an immigrant, where I started to learn many lessons. 27 years I stayed. A crucial day came in my marriage when a publisher in Canada, after examining a draft version of the story I was busy with asked me to make some changes and the book would have a chance. I was so excited, but I was the only one. My then husband said that he wanted me to give up writing. His brother added to it by throwing a quarter on the table and said, 'thanks for the coffee'.

Hard decisions

I kept my name, packed my bags, and left. It was the beginning of my journey as a writer. I have written ten books, written and directed a film as well as playing the lead. I am extraordinarily happy in my life here in South Africa, and then just a month ago was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I was shocked. It took weeks to believe that I had this disease. I particularly feared getting dementia. Yet I am writing almost two to four thousand words a day. My brain is sharp. I eat brain food. I try a little exercise. Sometimes I have to sit for a few seconds when getting out of bed, but that is all right.

Writing to give information

At first when I got the news I was angry with God... then realized what a gift I had received. It was not cancer. It was not my heart. It was all the anxiety over the years that had given me Parkinson's. For the last few years I have been very preoccupied with God's gift and what I could do to give back. Surely, I have realized my dreams. I came to the conclusion that I was given the gift of writing to give information - to help someone who is struggling with an illness and could find an answer somewhere. I have a new script that has to be directed, but I am not ready yet to do it. My brother and son tell me all the time to give up this 'nonsense' writing and get back to my eleventh book which is only 15 pages long at this time.

Receiving the diagnosis was a gift. I have time to sell my house and, wrap up my business and head for the bright or not so bright lights of New Jersey where I will stay with my daughter and grandchildren and DJ Dirty Harry who is a music producer and a fabulous husband to my daughter for my remaining years. I am a lucky woman indeed. God has blessed me.


Apr 26, 2012

Is it worth writing articles for the net?

With this writer it has become an addiction. I make real money writing novels and in fact a publisher is waiting for me to start writing my eleventh novel. I don’t know what it is, but I love checking my cents growing daily. It is pure pleasure and an addiction and I don’t know why I continue. Depending on the site the instructions are easy to understand but after a month of trying to get Ad Sense and Chitika earnings it is virtually impossible.

Experts Column
pays decently and shines way above five other sites I also write for. However, the downside of this kind of writing is that it is not your writing alone that makes bucks. You have to figure out how to use links and back links, how to place widgets, and how to navigate your way through a maze of information. You also have to search for things as some sites are not so easy to understand. Today I contacted tech support at one of these sites and asked when I was going to see earnings. I was told that I had to wait. Finally I was approved as a publisher and was instructed to write until I realized a lot of time had gone by and that I still do not have ads running on my site. When I did get approved for an account with Chitika which includes revenue from ads running on my blog, I am writing and writing and just today was told by a friend that the site would not even respond if you had below a number of clicks. Worse, I had not gotten any instructions that I would have to pick the ads and place them or that the ad running process had even started.

Out of frustration I am writing to all of you to say that I am not going to waste my time anymore and will start working on my next novel. I am busting my brain to write great articles every day and the sum total of my sweat resulted in only twelve dollars if I add revenue from all the sites. Pony up, Chitika. I am close to walking away. I mean, how can you write all day for eighty cents? A frustrated writer.


Is giving birth at ten years of age acceptable

When ten year old girls give birth, it is surely something to make you think and ask what the world is coming to and where we are headed. It is not a normal society when rituals include wicked practices. And there is great secrecy around the event of the girl who has recently given birth and the questions have to be answered. Was she raped? Was it consensual sex? Is it a custom of a particular tribe and therefore acceptable?

Unspeakable acts

It is not acceptable when a ten year girl whose body is hardly developed has to give up her dolls and her childhood to take care of a baby – and the parents are not mentioned at all and the man can hide behind the double sided fabric of his culture. It is unbelievable the kinds of rituals young girls from different tribes have had to participate in, even young men, just to satisfy elders. If someone from a ‘respectable’ tribe asked you to perform fellatio on old men of the tribe to please your elders, would you do it? Yet there is a tribe in South America that requires this for a young man’s initiation.

Underage sex

According to the Guinness Book of Records the world’s youngest mother in a medically documented case was in 1939 in Peru when Lina Medina gave birth to a baby at the age of five years, eight months. The girl who gave birth a few weeks ago was ten and is from the Wayuu tribe which has its own justice system and refuse to co-operate in under-age sex investigation. Under Colombia law sexual relations with a child of fourteen or younger is a crime punishable by at least nine years in prison. Sex with an under fourteen year old is all right? How’s that for morality? Not only does the offender have the tribe’s protection, because he is fifteen he cannot be identified. When the ten year old girl had the baby, the doctor said she barely understood what was happening when she gave birth. He added that he had to go with a caesarean because at that age the pelvis was still growing and too small for the fetus to pass through the vaginal canal.


Apr 25, 2012

Tips for reinventing yourself

If you have had a long term relationship and it has come to an end after ten or more years, it is understandable that you would want to overcome the past and reinvent yourself. Realistically though, the best place to start is to first come to terms with what has happened in the relationship which has just ended and after some soul searching, go through the grieving stages and put it behind you. It is no use overhauling your wardrobe and you don’t overhaul your thinking. It is important that you get rid of your baggage and not bring it into any new relationship you might have.

• Start with a clean slate. Pretend you’re a stranger and ask yourself what went wrong with the relationship you were in. Be honest with your answers. You want to get through this first stage before meeting someone else. Also, you don’t want to launch into a new relationship right away. You want to be cautious this time around.

• To give yourself a whole new makeover for the new you, change your hairdresser and ask the new one to give you a perky look. If your hair is long and a little boring, she could give you a tint and a trim to give you a fresh appearance.

• If you have never worn lipstick, go out and buy a really hot color and put it on.

• If you are wearing skirts and blouses all the time, it will get a little monotonous and you can have three tailored suits made for the office you can rotate with different silk blouses and look professional every day. You want your clothes to look smart for the office, yet funky.

• Read some books on how to raise your self-esteem and go out and practice your new attitude on your friends. Don’t believe that anyone is better than you. Raise your confidence by reading books and reading articles such as the one you are reading now and learn how to be assertive. Men like women who know what they want; don’t be afraid to make friends.

• If you have never worn perfume, spend an afternoon at the perfume counter and go through the testers for a fragrance that suits your personality.

• It doesn’t hurt to tone up a little either by going for walks for half an hour. Most of all, you want the results of your overhaul to reflect your easy personality and your attractive look.


Nourish your soul and turn hate into love

Are you by nature arrogant, ego driven and one who starves your soul by rushing through life? Are you a bitter individual with negative energy who can’t see the forest for the trees and always complain about how life is treating you? Are you rude and resentful and your friends are just plain tired of your egotistical manner, wishing you would not contaminate their space with your negative energy? It’s a sure sign that you have neglected the spiritual part of your life. Why not change and change the environment around you?

Read up on a different virtue every day

When you turn your back on some of the virtues of life your soul suffers and starves for positive energy. Make up your mind to be positive no matter what your circumstances. Read a book called the Virtues of Life and see how kindness, compassion, respect, the power of the word ‘please’ can help you, and other kindnesses can change who you are. When you are kind to others you attract kindness to you. When we eat on the run, always hurrying for that lost dollar, we don’t appreciate our surroundings and have no time for anyone.

Here are some ways to experience the best that life has to offer

Meditate every day in a quiet place for twenty minutes. If you can’t think of what to say just say thank you, God, thank you God over and over again until you feel something changing in you – and even if all you do is just thank God.

• Take an early leisurely walk along the shore breathing in the beauty of the mountains and the sea. Thank God for the beauty of His Handiwork.

• Listen to classical music. ‘Mozart’s Requiem for a Mass’ is a good pick. Don’t choose Rachmaninoff’s ‘Funeral March’. It is a heavy dirge.

• When you wake up in the morning say thank you to God for another day.

• Give a beggar in the street a crisp twenty rand note. Don’t worry about what he will spend it on.

• Eat some brain food that consists of nuts and fruit and yogurt and feel light and energized.

• Bake an almond cake and relish in the aroma in the house.

• Rent a Chris Rock video and laugh.

• Spend extra time with your kids and once a week rent a movie the whole family can watch.
• Jot down some things you wish to do the following day and do it.


Apr 24, 2012

The magnificent power of the two brains

Everything about the male brain is size, speed, power and there is no getting away from the fact that women think very differently than men when it comes to intuition and emotional intelligence. The male brain is bigger as it has to accommodate a bigger body mass and is about ten percent larger than a female brain and gives men more processing power. This does not mean, however, that the male is smarter. Here are some other interesting facts on the male and female brain.

More in touch with their feelings

Males are wired a little differently from females in that they are left brain, meaning men have good mathematical skills, are more task oriented, more aware of danger and the need to protect, whereas women are right brain and score high on intuition and emotional intelligence. They are better at communicating things, better at resolving emotional matters, and more in touch with their feelings. They talk through their problems and the issues they have. Men have difficulty picking up on the nuances and they miss the cues and deal with matters in a more businesslike way.

Two areas of the female brain that are larger and deal with language

To give you an example: a man may be able to head the planning to put a man on the moon, but he cannot write a love note to his wife. He is just helpless when it comes to the softer side of a woman. He is the hunter, the warrior, the man who brings home the bacon. His ‘defend your turf ‘ area in the brain is larger in the male brain and his alarm system for danger is also larger in men. These brain differences make men more alert and prepared for a threat. Women are different. They can naturally bond and get in sync with other women. The woman is the one who has to use her softer side to resolve things. In women there are two areas of the brain that deal with language and that are larger than the male brain and they can process language in both hemispheres. The male only has a single brain half. Still, when it comes to the extraordinariness of the brain the biggest difference between the two brains is that men have a ‘sexual pursuit area’ that is 2.5 times greater than the one in the female brain.


When the man you've lived with for thirty years asks you for a divorce

When a couple has lived together for thirty years in relative harmony with the usual things that come along in life and has managed to raise responsible and successful children and enjoying some of the fruits of life, leaving a marriage is not that easy and one has to ask why, and if there is something that can save it. It is not one or two years that you have lived together and navigated with your partner through life; it is thirty years. Thirty years with someone in the same house, the same bed, sometimes even the same line of work, is a long time and should be carefully considered before making a rash decision.

Reasons for wanting to leave

In some cases where men feel they are getting older they want a young woman who can jump through hoops and relive some of those early years where he thinks it will be that easy to leave a partner of thirty years; there is history between you. You know each other’s moods, you know his smell, his breath in the morning, his wants and needs and it is a foolish man who leaves a partner and thinks the bouncy new secretary in his office who has complimented him and made advances is going to stay with him until the end of his days. He is almost sixty, arthritis and osteoporosis and other ailments are around the corner if not already wearing at his bones.

The relationship has gone stale

If the reason for wanting to break up your marriage is just because the bloom is off the rose think carefully. Your grown up children will balk at your decision. Their mother will be alone. You would have abandoned her just because of age. If it is sex you want like you had in your early years, speak to her about it. Read some books together on how to rekindle your marriage. Go and watch porn if that is what you want to do. If your reasons are weak for leaving and you are making this decision just because you want to feel young again, clean up your own appearance and thinking first, and ask yourself if that girl is going to be there for you when you are ill at seventy five years of age. Remember, it takes two people to tango. If one has forgotten the steps, it is easy to take a few lessons. It would be easier than starting all over again and a month later realize that you have made a mistake.


Apr 23, 2012

Is your twelve year old son experimenting with drugs?

If you have the merest inkling that your son might be experimenting with meth or other drugs, even if only occasionally, it is your immediate attention to the matter that might save him from a hard life of drug abuse. It is not easy to deal with a drug addict. Attending to the problem sooner rather than later will make it easier to deal with. Also, if you are the brother or sister to the drug addict, don’t pass the job of talking to your sibling to someone else but start dealing with it immediately. Depending on his nature, he will be in denial and say that he is not an addict, or he will cave in and say he needs help. Here are some things you can do to get your son to listen to his parents’ advice and act on it. You can have a gentle or gangbuster approach. Unfortunately, with drug addicts the former approach does not work too well by waiting for some miracle to happen and you have to deal with the matter head on.

• Know the names of the children he hangs out with. You can learn a lot about your son by taking cognizance of his friends. If any one of them uses drugs, tell him to cut the friendship. He will argue, but you are the boss and will deal with it by employing a no nonsense approach. You will go as far as speaking to the parents of these boys and alert them to the fact that their son is a user.

• Get involved by going to the school and asking for a progress report. If all his grades are poor offer to get him help.

• If you learn from the principal that he has stolen money to pay for drugs, take him to a clinic to test him for drug use. In America there are juvenile programs where problem kids spend a night in jail to see what it is like to be amongst hard core inmates. He will get a fright and an awakening when he sees all the teens in such harsh surroundings and all the rules they have to obey. They are spoken to by seasoned criminals and thieves and it is a frightening experience for a twelve year old. On the bright side, there are many success stories of youths who stay in jail overnight and are scared straight.

• If showing your son the inside of a jail and talking to him does not work and he persists in using drugs, plan an intervention where his family and friends read him a letter stating how much he means to them and that they care about him, and get him to agree to go to rehab. If he refuses, unfortunately, you will have to do it the hard way by having a car ready to take him to rehab where he will stay for two months.

• It is important that you not give in to any of his demands or denials that he is a drug addict, and do all you can to see he gets help.


Apr 22, 2012

Having a foreign au pair in your house who doubles as a student

Having anyone strange in your house for any length of time can probably be the most important thing to adjust to as it entails giving up some of your space. Having an au pair to look after the children can be doubly so as you are responsible for her while she is with you. If she is a student continuing her studies, she will need time to do her schoolwork as well as do some light chores. If she cannot speak English well, you will have to learn to be patient. Your children will have to adjust to this new person in the house. There will be an extra person at the supper table. There will be more laundry, more to clean up and your student has to make it easier for you. Here are some ideas and things you can do to facilitate an easy relationship where everyone benefits.

• While your au pair is from a country where English is not the first language, your children have a chance to learn a new language and the au pair also peps up her English. Learning a new language together can be fun.

• Your children can also learn some new recipes by sampling food the au pair has prepared and broadening their culinary experience.

• Establish a clear time of the day when the au pair will have two hours to herself to relax in her room and study. If possible, let her have her own room. Everyone needs to be alone some time during the day.

• Introduce your au pair to your friends and neighbors so they know there is someone living with you and particularly if anyone has a daughter the same age. Help her make some friends.

• Take some insurance that will protect her while she is in your care.

• Take her along on some of your activities such as all of you going to the skating rink or the park or a local baseball court.

• The museum is also a good place to visit as your au pair’s stay is a learning experience. She will return home eventually and take her experiences in a foreign country with her.

• If your au pair seems extraordinarily quiet, talk to her as it is not easy to leave your family and live in another family’s home so far away. Remember, she is someone elses child.

• Let her make a call to her parents in Europe once a month. These small little things will make her feel more comfortable and at ease.


Apr 21, 2012

Is marrying out of your culture harder than marrying out of your faith

Marrying out of your culture is different from marrying someone from another faith. That would be religion. Marrying out of your culture is about your environment, what you are used to, where you were born and grew up, the way language is spoken, the way food is made, the kind of spices people are used to, on and on. The comic Trevor Noah talks about culture in one of his comedic performances and how people cannot differentiate between culture and faith. He went on to say that he is colored, but grew up in Durban, and did not speak and sound the same as a Cape Town colored; nuances, lingo and so on. Yet, the culture is firmly embedded in all of us whether from Durban or the Western Cape.

The familiarity of culture

For people who want to broaden their horizons and live overseas and find a partner in Australia, New Zealand or England it might seem a breeze at first when you meet someone you like and everything is working between you. Eventually, however, when you are over the novelty and things go wrong, you want to go back to your roots. It is not religion that separates you in this case; it is the warmth and beauty of the oceans and mountains versus the freezing cold of a British winter. Humans want comfort. Still, a South African would be more at ease with New Zealand and Australia as they have something huge in common: a rugby culture. They can unite through a sport. They speak the same language when they speak of tackles, rucks and mauls. South African rugby fans are in awe of the All Blacks and the Wallabees, and likewise the boys from the Pacific are in awe of them. Even though one rugby player might live in the others country, they will always have a connection through sport.

Which is the harder then to live without? Live without the familiarity of your culture or live without the person you couldn’t marry because she is a Muslim and you are a Jew? I don’t know; they both seem equally hard. I would hate to have to make such a decision. For survival on earth I would choose culture; for life after death I would choose God.


When your fifteen year old daughter tells you she is pregnant

This is a parent’s worst fear, and it is no use shouting and berating your child. Labeling won’t help. Dealing calmly with the situation is your best approach. Tell her that you are disappointed and thought that she would have known better than to have sex with a boy at her age. Then push on to the talk you have avoided having with her which is now too late. Tell her that while it is fashionable to be a young mother, she is ill equipped to handle a pregnancy and will not finish her education. Your first approach is to sit down with her and discuss the following:

• Take an authoritative approach and tell her you will help her make the best decision for her and the child. If she is impressed by her peers she might not do what you want which means that she wants to keep the child. Speak to her and decide if she will listen to you and do what is best.

• Take your daughter to the hospital and have tests done for Aids and STDs.

• Take her to a pregnancy ward and show her the pain of birth. If you have a pregnant relative you might get permission for her to watch the birth.

• You might also get her to babysit your pregnant relative’s baby for a whole day to see what is in store for her; she would have to feed the baby at irregular hours, diaper and wash the child, and her free time will be over.

• Advise her or give her an option as to whether she wants to put the child up for adoption or keep it and not finish her studies. Tell her that there are very good women out there who cannot have children and who would love to have a baby and provide the child with everything it needs.

• Make an appointment with the child’s father and speak to him and his parents. Speak to them both together and on their own so that you can determine the best interests for everyone.

• Don’t slack off because while your talk might have jolted your daughter it does not mean that she will stop having sex. Sometimes it is necessary to be harsh to jolt someone back to reality; tell her that it will be a very stupid thing to do if she falls pregnant again.

• Her father will be very disturbed and disappointed, but tell him nevertheless to get more involved in his child’s life and help her make the right decision.

• Hard as it might be for you to do this, give her literature on pregnancy and books on raising a child and add a box of condoms. Your disappointment is not going to make things better; work with her in a patient and productive way.


Authoritative parenting style the best

Of the four kinds of parenting styles – authoritarian – authoritative – permissive – uninvolved – the authoritative parenting style is the favored choice. In my own estimation, authoritarian parenting is a fire and brimstone kind of approach where instilling fear is part of the pattern and children are under an umbrella of rules and regulations to behave. They are not allowed to be children and express themselves and while punishment for doing wrong may not be abusive, it is strong enough that children may suppress their inner feelings and grow up tight and afraid. Their playtime is restricted, they are not allowed to go out with their friends, they can’t be themselves, and burn with resentment.

Setting rules for your children

• Don’t expect that when you tell a two year old not to throw her bottle and toys out of the cot, that she will listen. Shouting at the child does not help. Instead, talk in an even and calm manner to the toddler and show her instead where the toys belong. Always invite the child to participate in clean up rather than shouting and ordering. You want a happy toddler; one who wants to help.

• Tailor your parenting style as the child grows up. He or she has a greater understanding of the rules then and can have some light duties such as sweeping the porch or drying the dishes. He understands the consequences when a parent asks him to do something and he does not. He understands timeout. He understands that if he does not do his homework that he will not be allowed to watch his television program. There is no shouting.

• As your child grows up and starts to be interested in the opposite sex, the parenting style too has to pony up and not shy away from that first birds and bees conversation. Talk to your children about puberty and about sex. You don’t want them experimenting. A teenager goes through a lot of changes, hormonal and otherwise, and many teens need their parents to talk to them about the consequences if they have sex. Push on and mention the hardship of pregnant teens. If you suspect that your thirteen year old daughter is already experimenting, don’t be afraid to burst her bubble and tell her that she is too young and that you would like her to wait until she is older and knows more about life. This is a delicate conversation; don’t be afraid to have it.


Apr 20, 2012

Why you should have a real estate agent when buying or selling a house

• Shop for an agent with a good track record; at least twenty sales under his belt. Some sellers do not believe in the importance of having an agent as they figure they can do it themselves. They are wrong. The paperwork alone is worth having an agent who knows the law, and can protect you. Think carefully about putting yourself out there if you have no experience in the real estate business.

• Hire an agent that is smarter than you; one who knows all the ins and outs of real estate and can save you money.

• Hire an agent that has experience in selling to someone who is emotional about selling the house he or she has lived in for fifty years. This may seem silly but it happens sometimes where the seller is ready to sign and then becomes weepy at having to leave and the sale is lost.

• Paying an agent to look after you and getting the best price for your house saves you time and spare you the inconvenience of having to do everything yourself. There is quite a lot of running around and paperwork before you can bring out the cake to celebrate.

• As agents more or less get the same commissions for buying or selling a house and have a real estate background, it is better to have one that is educated and can save you time.

• An agent knows the neighborhood and can convince a seller to be realistic about price in the present environment. He might even be able to find a buyer for your house from his own contacts.

• A selling agent can look at the whole picture and work out the correct price. You will have no experience with this and might blow a deal or lose a client by not knowing enough. Remember, agents are friends with other agents and often work together to lower their commission to be able to sell a house. This is the kind of agent you are looking for; someone with contacts and with solid experience.


Design an award winning brochure to sell your house

A real estate brochure is like a passport in real estate; it can get you into the right circles to successfully sell your house and make a good first impression of the kind of seller you are, or make no impression at all and your brochure gets dropped in the bin. Here are some things you can do to increase the chances of selling your house.

• The first person you have to get on board is a photographer who knows how to shoot from different angles without creating cheesy photographs. Knowledge of lighting and depth of field is also important; you want stunning photographs.

• The first shot in your brochure should be a long shot of the street and the neighborhood, followed by shots of the exterior of the house, and then of the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom, and the yard. Make sure there is no trash lying outside and that the lawn is cut.

• Start with the history of the house and add a bit of interesting detail such as the year it was built and what renovations have been made. If the house has had some famous occupant or there is an interesting story about a neighbor, telling them about it gives them some familiarity and background and more to think about. People looking for a house see one they like and visualize themselves in the house to see if there is a connection.

• Make special mention of certain parts of the house. Is there an interesting nook or sewing area off the kitchen where you spend private time? If so, mention it. People like to visualize themselves in a particular area. Give them two or three copies of the brochure to give to friends.

• Mention the schools, pharmacy, and doctors’ offices in the vicinity and other amenities such as a library, skating rink, museum, and the safety of the area.

• If you have added a new heating or air conditioning system, or new carpeting, make mention of that also in the brochure.

• Ask your designer to think out of the box and present you with some spectacular shots and some great text. If you can’t think of the text yourself, get a writer to put something together.

• Have a brochure that can be folded for easy insertion into your handbag or your flyers and one-pagers will stay behind in the back seat of your car.

• When showing the house hand out the brochures and have a glass bowl of sweets on the table where you can talk to buyers.


Selling your house without an agent

Often when trying to sell a home the prospective seller does not do enough preparation before putting the For Sale sign on the lawn. There is nothing that stops you from selling your house without a representative if you take the following into account and put your house in readiness to be seen and inspected by other people. Remember, you are putting your house in readiness for others to like. Just because you don’t like the idea of a Japanese bathtub, your prospective buyer might love it and your aim is to spend a little money to put it in the best and most attractive condition you can. Here are some ideas for a more attractive showing.

• Do a thorough inspection of the property and make a note of broken doorknobs, handles and other fittings which have to be fixed.

• Check the bathroom for broken tiles and leaking taps. Is there mildew in the shower? Could the bathroom do with a fresh coat of paint? Could it be freshened up with a hanging fern or a Japanese bath?

• Take a good look at the kitchen. Women want big kitchens with a lot of cupboards and enough space. The kitchen is a place where you can make some small changes with big results.

• Stand on the other side of the road and view your property as others would see it when they visited your home. Are there things lying about at the side of the house and in the yard? Have a rubble remover take them away – or a friend with a van might help you discard of the old fridge and broken gardening equipment which makes your property look unsightly.

• Ask a friend to design an attractive brochure or flyer listing the price, taxes, mortgage and transfer costs and showing visuals of the front of the house, the bedrooms, the kitchen, and have the photographs taken by someone who knows how to shoot from different angles. Often a brochure is the first thing a prospective buyer wants to see and whether you are trying to sell your property online or offline, the buyer has to take the bait to be interested enough in the visuals in the brochure to come out to the property to take a look. It is all about first impressions.

• Flowers and plants are inexpensive and you can liven up the property by planting some bushes and plants near the front entrance of the property to make it look colorful and more attractive.

• An old trick is to bake a cake half an hour before the showing starts to have a wonderful aroma in the house which creates a good family feeling.


Apr 19, 2012

Mistakes women often make with men

• A woman meets a new man she is attracted to and if he is attracted to her too she is all over him, wants her friends to meet him, and invites him over almost immediately for coffee and to come and meet her folks. She wants everyone to see the great guy she is dating without knowing anything much about him.

• She immediately spoils him by buying tickets for the Lakers game or some other sport and smothers him by being around all the time. He does not have to do very much in the relationship to get what he wants.

• If she manages to hold the man’s interest by the third week she knows the color of his bed sheets before she knows what kind of work he does except ‘something in insurance’ which she did not bother to confirm.

• Because of his sustained interest in her, she does not do a background check and has no idea if he lives where he says he does.

• She is still hurting from her previous relationship and is needy and clingy and emotionally inept. She wants to know when he is going to put a ring on her finger.

• Her biological clock is ticking and she talks all the time about how much she would like to have a baby to complete her relationship which has scarcely been over a month.

• She becomes used to the relationship and no longer surprises him at the door dressed in her skimpy nurse’s uniform which she wore when she used to play doctor and nurse. There is no element of surprise.

• She trusts him immediately and suggests a joint account at the bank, which she figures will make them a couple, and is a totally stupid thing to do. She allows him to buy a stereo and an iPod on the card because in her mind they will be together forever.

• When he takes too long talking about his feelings and that he does not want a permanent relationship, she offers him a place to stay and buys him gifts.

• He moves in, does not pay for his portion of the rent, makes no contribution to the grocery bill, and in fact now comes to her when he needs money.

• She loses her man and the money and ends up in front of Judge Mathis trying to get it back.


What is your purpose in life

Do you know? Have you thought about it? Is it one of your life questions? We are all here for a reason, and we are all here to learn something that will take us out of ourselves and serve others. We are not here just to exist for a few seasons and take up space. We are here to learn and give back. But what is it that you give back? Have you found out? Has it come to you? I have been asking myself this question for many years, and just like everything else it was right under my nose. If you want to know your purpose in life start with some questions as to who you are and who or what inspires you the most – what you do with your time – what you are doing today and if it is any different than the day before – whether you have learned any lessons and changed something about yourself – how you can contribute. One thing is for sure; you did not land on this page by accident. Already you are reading an article on man’s purpose on earth.

Preparation in childhood

My reason for being here, I believe, is to open up new avenues for people so that they may be able to help themselves. I supply information in the form of books, articles, novels and films. I believe that my ability to write and share information has a lot to do with my curiosity about God and what it is that God wants from me. I am meant to be curious in order to research and supply information wherever I can. I believe that my preoccupation with the scriptures – not only about Islam but all faiths – was instilled in me at a very young age and that I have always been curious about God, and especially the subject of death and what happens to the soul afterwards. These curiosities lead me to write and in turn provide answers to questions. For instance, if I was interested in the accumulation of money I would not be interested in writing for the internet where I might get two cents for an article like this instead of a large advance for my next novel.

Terrified of close spaces

Here is a snippet of my childhood when I was six years old and my grandfather had a heart attack and collapsed in front of me; the house filled up with people, and our mother was next door helping and keeping vigil through the night and I heard the owls hoot in the tall pine trees. I was terrified of the dark. I am terrified of close spaces. For me they were all signs of being buried alive. Within a few days or weeks of my grandfather’s funeral, the new born twins died next door. I was angry with God, yet terrified of what He would do if He could read my thoughts. Today I connect the dots and understand what is going on. If I did not go through this horrifying experience as a six year old, if I did not scribble my fear in books, if I did not suffer panic attacks at family funerals, I might not have been a writer today. God prepares us for everything. Life is a process; it takes time to get things right.


Advantages and disadvantages of polygamy

Here is a scenario: a forty year old male is married to a lovely girl in her late thirties who has tried forever to fall pregnant. She has had all kind of fertility treatment and nothing has worked. She has a best friend, also in her thirties, who is also a friend to the husband; all three are good friends. The wife asks her best friend to become the husband’s wife as she cannot conceive and desperately wants a baby. If the wife is prepared to share her husband and the husband agrees, and the country you are living in allows it, is it wrong to take a second wife? Women feel unfulfilled if they cannot bear children. They want the experience of motherhood. On the other hand, women are also selfish and do not want to share a man. Selfish may sound like a harsh word when you consider the parties are legally married, but the numbers are climbing and according to statistics there are more women than men. If a couple is prepared to bring a third person into the marriage and everything is by consent, is it wrong, uncivilized, illegal, or is it a situation only the parties involved can decide? Let’s use the above situation as an example.


• According to the Holy Book of the Muslims, if the parties mentioned above are all in agreement and all parties are satisfied and the man accepts the children of the women he has married as his own, it is allowed. Remember, however, that God does not recommend it. God says man cannot be fair and so it is better for him to have only one partner, but if circumstances permit, as in the case above, it is allowed. The advantage here is that the woman now has a husband, shelter, protection, and love for her children who would otherwise have been destitute. She is now also protected by the sanctity of marriage.


• People change their mind or they have problems between them and the first wife decides that she can no longer be in an arrangement where there is another mother for the child, and becomes jealous and wants to take the child with her even though she is not the biological mother. If she is a generous first wife, it can work. If she is not, it will be unfair to the child or children who will be split up with parents who are fighting over them. Having said this, however, it is all up to the parties involved and only they can decide what is good and right for them. Women don’t easily give up their children; it will be a feud to the end.

Polygamy can only work if the parties take their vows seriously and the husband is fair – hence the advice from God to not take more than one wife if you cannot be fair to both of them. It is common knowledge that many prophets had many wives and that during the Battle of Uhud a lot of men were killed in the battle and the women were left unprotected. The Holy Prophet Muhamad got the instruction from God to tell his followers that a man who could give a woman shelter and have her kids protected, would be allowed to marry more than one woman – and only up to four. Hopefully this dispels the notion that Muslims can just marry out of hand. They can marry another woman, yes, but with the following in mind – that while it is allowed it is not recommended.


Apr 18, 2012

The best way to edit a novel

There is no one way to approach writing or editing a novel except to say that the more you write and read over what you’ve written as you go along the better the prose will be and the less you will have to edit later on. Your publisher has read your novel and throws a thick package containing 400 pages of words on your desk and says, ‘ready for editing’, and you have a huge task ahead. You have gone through the process of developing the plot and the characters, choosing a setting, choosing a first or third person point of view, structuring the story so that you have a beginning, a middle section and an end and now have to attend to the final bits you have to include or delete.

• To edit a novel once it is done, take a break from it for a week, work on something else, and come back to it with fresh eyes; sort of like cleaning the palette between wines so that one can better see and appreciate its contents. This will immediately tell the writer what is lacking, what needs to be better explained, and what he has to throw out no matter how delightful. Sometimes a writer has to kill off certain passages and sentences as it just does not add anything to the story and is there purely because the writer likes it. This is called killing off your darlings. The writer will also see instantly what works in the story and what does not. Getting the story in one reading also tells you whether the structure works and what should be cut out and what kept. Editing a novel does not just mean making corrections; sometimes huge blocks of text are added, moved or removed resulting in a restructuring of part of the story.

• Use a tracking device so that the editor can see in red what has to be amended, included, or removed.

• Ask a friend who loves books to read the draft and comment on what she thinks of the characters, the plot, the structure of the story – and ask her if she would change anything.

• Don’t edit when you are tired; you need a sharp brain to proofread and edit your work.


Do not be a bystander when you see a crime commited against a child

When we speak of child abuse today it is mostly to do with cruelty to children by outsiders such as child molesters, pedophiles and perpetrators who indulge in criminal acts with minors. The parties don’t know each other and the acts are random. But what of the child who comes from a good and prestigious family who is the object of his father’s love? His father comes to his bed in the middle of the night. He is daddy’s boy. He has to obey his father because the preacher at the church tells him so. He is six years old, innocent. His father performs sexual acts with him. His mother knows but she is weak and does not protect him. She pretends that he is not doing anything wrong because he won’t hurt his own child. So she abandons his needs and rights, turns inward and says nothing. The child who both loves and hates his father is a prisoner. If he tells his mother, he fears that his father will beat him, so he keeps quiet and endures the abuse, building up hate. The mother pretends all is well and does not talk to the child when the father is not home. She is afraid to lose him and embarrassed that the news might leak out. Her husband and her standing in society come first, even if it is based on cruelty, immorality and deceit. What she has in fact done is something that a wild animal in the bush would not even do. She has abandoned her child and cannot see that she has contributed to the problem. She is too numb to know the hurt she has caused and the difference between right and wrong.

Innocent at five

Children are innocent and adults have to protect them. They are not born with sin and have a clean slate upon which the parents make the first impressions as role models for them. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. We destroy the fabric of society and all that is good when we witness cruelty and keep silent. When you witness a grown man act inappropriately with a child it is your duty to do something about it. Don’t be a bystander. Don’t worry that you will lose a friend. Step forward. Say what you know and what you have witnessed. There are young children all over the world who are snatched and kidnapped and are used in all kinds of situations. They lose their innocence when they are barely out of diapers. They suffer at the hands of their own parents and there is no one to stand up for them. Don’t think that because they are your parents that they can’t do wrong. They are committing the biggest sin of betrayal – betraying the family, betraying God, and betraying the child. Don’t save a predator and abandon a child. The child has no one on his side except you.


When kids lie to escape punishment

For some children, depending on their age, lying to a parent can range from small fibs over who dropped the eggs on the floor and did not clean up, to big carbuncles where money has gone missing in the house and no one knows anything about it. Usually someone knows; the person who took it. In any event, a three year old knows when he tells a lie that he is doing wrong and usually the lie is to escape punishment. As he grows older and becomes more developed he may discover that telling a lie has advantages and that by telling them he not only gets what he wants, but someone else gets the blame for what he’s done. The number one disadvantage for telling a lie is that you forget what you lied about previously, and you get caught up in your own lies.

How to handle continuous and unnecessary lying

• Set strict rules with consequences for anyone stealing money from the kitty, and list the punishment which can range from a two-hour timeout to no allowance for that week. When the child is found lying, carry out the punishment and don’t veer from it. Children have to know that you mean what you say and know that there will be consequences. If you don’t act on it they will take you for granted and not pay much attention the next time you chastize them. Punishment for a toddler need not be anything greater than a two minute timeout in his room.

• As a child grows older and is more developed you can start to reason with him. Something like, “if you tell mummy a lie, I will not know when you are telling the truth and I won’t believe you again even though it might be the truth.”

• Punishment does not mean sending him for a two minute timeout where he can have the remote control to the television set. It will in fact be a reward where he can watch his own program in peace.

• Encourage a child to always tell the truth, especially when he owns up to the infraction. Always punish and reward a child without threatening that you will tell his father. That sets the father up as the bad guy.

• Don’t become frustrated and spank. Cutting into his playtime or banning him from watching television is far more effective. Don’t label your child as a liar, but work with him to improve.


Apr 17, 2012

How to flip a property and make some real cash

The number one requirement for success here is to find the right property. You want one that is in a good location, is run down so you can pay a low price for it, and can convert well. If you are a carpenter, plumber or a handyman who knows about building and plumbing, it is not that difficult to fix up an old barn or a house and sell it for a really good price. Below are some tips and ideas to help you make some cash.

• Look for a house that requires as little work as possible; after all, you are not going to live in it. You still however have to have a good product in the end.

• Draw up a plan and get your lumber, paint, brushes, stain and the right tools all from the same shop if you can. This will mean less running around.

• Buy a rundown property where the plumbing is working and there are no problems with drains and pipes. Be particularly careful with old wooden frames where there have been problems with beetles and other creatures.

• Buy all new bathroom fixtures; it will make a huge difference to the house. Small things like brass knobs for the doors and attractive towel racks can jazz up an old bathroom.

• Don’t rush the job. Fix up rotten floors and give the stain enough time to dry.

• Give the bathroom and the rest of the house a fresh coat of paint. A cold, damp, unattractive bathroom with a stained bowl is a sign that the rest of the house will not be worth looking at.

• Choose a house with a big kitchen you can renovate. The wife will want a spacious kitchen, a sparkling bathroom, and a house that is close to the schools.

• Have the right contractor who knows the right people to do a great job.

• Clean up all the rubble at the side of the house.

• When the house is complete, try and save some money by taking some great shots and putting your ad on the internet first. Great shots and greenery can help sell a house.


What happens to our soul when we die

Discussions on death and dying are often subjects we avoid as we don’t know ourselves what the true answers are. Still, we know there is an afterlife. What is it for the Christians, the Muslims and the Jews? Is it a time at some point in the future where Jesus comes back? The time of Resurrection? The time of paying for our sins? Will the world come to an end, and then come to life again? There are so many unanswered questions, and no one can claim to know the truth.

In Islam, Muslims believe from the words in the Qur’an that two angels come to ‘pull the ruh’ – extract the soul. If the deceased has led a good life his soul will leave the body easily. If he has led a sinful life, extracting his soul will be like pulling teeth. The two angels have names and come together to get the soul. After this the body rots; the soul lives on. But what happens to the soul? At the moment of death the soul goes into barzakh – meaning that the soul is in a holding pattern with other souls who are eager to meet with family members. You have probably heard people who have lost a loved one say that they saw, just before the person died, that he seemed to be in another dimension and stretched out his arms to something only he could see, and exclaim that so and so is in the room.

I lost a family member a few days ago. My sister was in the room and said that immediately after her mother died she saw her mother in the room and was frightened. Another instance is where two high school grads, cousins and best friends were so close that they both died instantly in a Mercedes when they raced down the street, were buried together and that one of them, close to death, said that he wanted to go fishing as his cousin was there. I can relate several similar stories. My question is: is this real, a visitation, or a trick of the brain? I have heard that the brain is the last thing to go when someone dies. Is that so? It would explain the white bright light people who have had a near death experience come back from the dead and relate. I would like to hear a Jewish, Christian or even another Muslim answer to this.


Apr 16, 2012

Keeping it short and easy on a first date

There are so many ways to spoil a first date by not being spontaneous and having enough to say and not preparing properly for such an exciting yet nervous event. Anyone who has been on a first note knows the adrenalin coursing through the body those first few minutes when you meet. You are filled with apprehension and wondering what this person will look like, what she has to offer, and whether this is just another first date in a string of bad ones. Your list for what you want in a woman is so long that even you know that you cannot fulfill it. You have had lots of first dates and all of them have fallen by the roadside. You have adjusted your thinking since then somewhat but you still have great expectations. Here are some suggestions to make you feel more at ease.

• Forget everything you have read and been told. Take off the pressure and relax. You are looking for a potential mate; you are not having a meeting with the Prime Minister of Britain.

• It is said that one knows the psychological make up of any new person one meets within twenty seconds of meeting them. In that twenty seconds the body and the mind has assessed and responded to those first emotions. Trust yourself. Whatever you forget in this nervous first meeting will rise to the surface later on for more leisurely analysis.

• Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability. Men deep down want honesty although they also want to respond to the woman’s physical attributes. You are there for a date which hopefully will lead to other things and eventually marriage.

• Don’t stress while you are on this date; rely on your playful nature to keep the conversation witty and funny and to show that you are not a one-dimensional character.

• Give her a gift. Receiving a little gift on a first date means a lot to a woman providing it’s not a gift hastily bought at the pharmacy – and if the gift is a little daisy for her hair or any small gift that intrigues her, it will warm her heart towards you. A thoughtful little gift can do many wonders. My daughter’s husband recently had a birthday, and he did not want any presents. Instead he bought gifts for her to thank her and to say how much he loves her and how she is caring for their kids.

• Don’t show how clever you are by quoting from the books of famous characters. Men love women who are a little playful and don’t take themselves too seriously.


In real estate a picture says a thousand words

It tells you either that the current owners cared nothing for the property, or that the owner has taken particular pleasure in his home and loves gardening from all the blooming roses at the side of the house, and that it is probably a house he should take a look at. You want to stir him to the point where he comes out to see the property and get excited. A well designed brochure will do that. The client needs visuals.

Brochures are perfect for an agent who has a lot of clients and no time to waste. He has visuals of the different rooms, the garden, the background, and enough information to answer any question. A well organized agent with the right plan can make a big difference in sales. Brochures and videos are also good ways to filter out properties clients are not interested in. In real estate, a picture says a thousand words and a brochure sells a property; well, almost. There is a lot of work to be done.

Take into account what the woman wants

When buying or selling a house, don’t underestimate the wife. Women pore over brochures and by the time they go out to see the house it is mostly to confirm that what the brochure promises is in the house and that there are no hidden defects. Women have their own ideas of what they want and which for her are the favorite parts of the house; a nice big kitchen, a roomy living room, a bathroom with a Japanese bath, a writer’s nook or sewing room which can be converted for her where she can spend time on her own to relax.

It therefore makes complete sense to spend a little money on designing visually interesting brochures and provide information like tax, bond payments, and fees and so on. When taking shots of the house remember that the exterior shot is the first one the prospective buyer will want to see. Don’t use the same angle. Take a variety of wide, medium and long shots. Take close ups of the flowers on the porch. If you have a new Japanese bath installed, take some pictures from different angles and include it. The brochure helps in both establishing a relationship with the client and securing referrals and also purchasing a house.


The journey we don't prepare for

It is uncanny that when someone dies and we attend the funeral we are starkly reminded of the gift of life and what is at the end of the line for all of us. We take life for granted. We don’t ‘save up’ good deeds when we are in the midst of life because we don’t spend much time thinking about it. During our lifetime we save up money in the bank for future needs; we don’t save up good deeds and kindnesses to take with us to the grave. My late South African grandmother, a very religious woman who died decades ago, was quite unique. Like all the older people of her time, she had bought her own burial cloth and had it in a special section of the bedroom cupboard. She told us children to remember that when she dies we are to look for the dried rose leaves and the kafan – white linen burial cloth – in the box in the back of the cupboard. She was mindful and religious and thankful for every day of her life.

On the weekend we had a death in the family and as Muslim funerals go, my stepmother passed on in the morning, and a few hours later she was in the ground. The Muslim funeral machine goes into full operation when someone dies. One person takes care of signing the papers and getting the body from the hospital. Another person takes care of getting benches and chairs and removing all furniture from one of the bedrooms and setting up the kat’l – the metal bath on which the body will be placed for the washing ritual. Food is ordered. An imam is contacted. Muslim radio is informed so that the news can go out. The mosque is on alert that a funeral will take place at whatever time is stipulated – sometimes at night. Everything works with clockwork precision getting the planks, the kafan, ordering food – always there must be food – and everyone knowing exactly what is required of him to facilitate a smooth funeral. Only when you are standing in the room paying your last respects to your deceased relative do you think about your own death, and you vow to lead a more spiritual life. There are prayers on the third night, the fortieth night, and on the hundredth night. When the hundred days are over, you have forgotten everything – until later, when it is your turn, to lay on the kat’l.


Apr 15, 2012

Home heating and protecting your family from carbon monoxide poisoning

Did you now that even though nearly seventy percent of people use fuel to heat their homes that more than two-thirds don’t have carbon monoxide detectors? Some people wait for the last minute in the lead up to a cold North American winter before they check furnaces and other heating equipment and when the weather suddenly changes and there is heavy snow and the house needs heating up, they find that they are not ready and a carbon monoxide detector might be the last thing they think about.

The first thing you should do before the winter starts when you will need a lot of heat is to get a qualified service technician who services or installs furnaces to do an inspection to check that everything is in working order. You don’t want to leave this until the temperature has plummeted below sixty degrees and you are freezing in a cold room.

Importance of having your furnace regularly serviced

• Install the carbon monoxide detector where people sleep, but not close to fuel burning appliances.

• Don’t try to heat up your home with a gas range or an oven; you are looking for trouble, and the heat generated in any event is not enough to heat a house.

• Heating your house with a gas range or an oven also produces dangerous levels of nitrogen oxide which can lead to problem breathing and respiratory disease. This also poses a danger for your children.

• If you did not know, grilling indoors is dangerous for the high amount of carbon monoxide it generates.

• It is important that you service your heating system regularly every year. Don’t wait for the last minute as stated above.

• If your technician tells you that you need work done, do it immediately. You all have had the experience of great weather and in the morning wake up to heavy snow. Besides, you do not want a heating system that could pose a poisoning risk. Check for cracks in the vent and check the system is properly installed.

• Make sure your wood stove meets fire codes and that your chimney is clear and flues cleaned. If not, you take the risk of the carbon monoxide which is supposed to be released coming back into the house.

• Always open chimney dampers before lighting a fire in the fireplace. Have your heating appliances tested by an independent lab where if something goes wrong, you have someone to go to.

• Use heaters with the proper fuel and follow instructions. Remember, we all need oxygen to breathe. Use common sense.


Apr 13, 2012

Should your baby sleep in your arms all day?

It is not a good thing to encourage, as falling asleep in your arms will lead to co dependency and to other bad habits and you will get no work done. If it is a toddler of two who just happens to fall asleep while playing with his toys, you can wake him up for his last bottle and diaper change and put him in bed. Walking around the house carrying a five month old baby who is fast asleep does not make sense. You have housework to do, errands to run, events to plan; you cannot spend all your time with the baby. Of course if you have a six month old infant and he has to feed every two hours, that is a different thing. He will wake you up for a feeding, you will breastfeed him and change him and he will go back to sleep.

Developing co dependency

An infant falling asleep in your arms and you carrying him around for an hour is not productive and will create fear in him when he is put in his crib, throws a tantrum and cries to be picked up, and you do so. Some people would call this a spoiled child, but he is not. The mother did this by creating the closeness and he is used to being with her; he has been inside her for nine months. When he cries and does not want you to put him down it is because he has become used to the long periods of time he has this luxury and that he is most comfortable there. This, however, is not good for you and the infant. You can’t have a child dictating his sleeping hours to you. And you don’t want to create dependency. If his behavior is not corrected early in life, your two year old becomes a three year old and four year old and will still cry when he has to go to bed at night. The next thing that will happen is that he will want to sleep in your bed. Even though two people are in the bed he wants to be in the middle between the two of you. Should you allow that? I would say not. Giving in to your toddler would be a huge mistake. The solution to all this is to spend enough time with your toddlers during the day, and let them spend alone time with their books and toys in their room before being put to bed where you will give them one on one attention.


Apr 12, 2012

Musical inspiration for writers while writing

Many of you who write regularly are sure to have experienced inspiration when you put on a specific piece of music to feel a particular way. I remember that at the end of my divorce, having gone through the disbelief, anger, bargaining, and finally accepting that I was now a single woman again, I discovered Albinoni’s music and was able to find relief and finally peace. I forget the title of the piece, but it was a heavy-handed, moody and sometimes violent violin piece, thirty minutes long, so poignant, so sad, that I lay on the couch for three or four hours crying – clicking the remote and listening to the same piece over and over again. Towards the end of the piece the music built to a crescendo and when it came to the last few notes, it practically wrenched the tears and pain from my soul. After this long cry that carried on for a week, I felt better.

Ramba? Samba? Bossa Nova? Big Band Jazz?

Writers have different styles of going about the business of writing, and as stated in earlier posts on writing, it is best to find a particular spot you love where you can retreat every day with your laptop and no one disturbs you. Some writers work several hours straight and that is it for the day; others take frequent breaks every hour to stretch their legs or make a cup of coffee. My own style for inspiration during writing is to put on all kinds of music to extract the essence and use it for different scenes, meaning that a scene building up to lovemaking might require a wild samba or a sensuous bossa nova, depending on the character and how I want the scene to play out. The music fills me up and for the time it lasts, I will write quick and fast, without stopping, without editing, letting the words pour out of me straight onto the page. It is surely a right brain thing, but the method works. Playing music in the background while you write loosens up the writer and gets the writing juices going. You write from the gut and nothing matters like those three or four sentences where you free flow a whole paragraph without stopping. Chopin’s Funeral March, Moonlight Sonata and Rachmaninoff’s heavy dirges helped my writing.


Beauty pageants for kids

There is nothing wholesome and fair about beauty pageants for children as the contestants do not start out on a level playing field. You can have naturally beautiful children with natural charm and parents who can afford the best costumes and makeup and hairdressers and these kids will just win year after year. It is a contest based mostly on glamour and sets some kids up for an inferiority complex and feelings of not being good enough. It is not that the judges are unfair; certain kids are just prettier, have more money spent on their talent and looks, and it would be likewise unfair as these children enter the contest year after year and the winner is not the child who visually wins hands down. What is wholly unfair is that the not so pretty child might be a scientist in the making and this child is rejected. She is not encouraged for her smarts. Kids who win contests remind the kids who do not win contests that they are better than them. This plays out on the school grounds and other arenas. Whatever the contest, I am against competitions for children where their visual appearance rather than their acumen and knowledge satisfy the requirements.

Wrong message sent to the child

Where a child wins a contest based on ball gowns, makeup and looks, it sends the wrong message to the child. The child’s self esteem will suffer. The child is too young to think and analyze as beauty pageants are mostly things the mothers are interested in and want for their children. Pitting children against one another to win some frivolous prize is just wrong. Here are some things you might not have thought about.

• A four year old contestant has hardly graduated from diapers when she is surrounded by a makeup artist, a hairdresser, a dress designer and then has to step on a stage to charm the audience. Her face is plastered with makeup, her eyebrows are plucked, the lipstick is thick and red, her hair is in a bouffant and this little girl is made up to look like a little tramp – all to show family and friends and other people what a pretty child they have.

• The girl with the mole on her lip or the not so fancy hairstyle gets rejected. She agonizes over her looks and even though she is cleverer than the girl who wins the competition, the message she gets is that she will only win a contest if she enters a competition that is about mathematics and not looks.

• Another big problem with beauty pageants is that young children have a clean slate, have no experience about stalkers and pedophiles, and can’t make a decision about what is best for them. They have a mistaken view of reality. Life is all about beautiful clothes, and imitating adults. Maybe the parents don’t mind if strange men ogle their children? Or one of these men suddenly appear at the child’s school? Children are innocent and need responsible parents. They should play with other children; having fun, going to the park, running with the dog. A four year old child in a provocative outfit is a target for a pedophile who has evil on his mind.


Apr 11, 2012

Mecca Diaries and Eyes of the Sky

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http://www.blogspot.com -

Loving Jerry Springer

Dr Phil, you say? Oprah? No way. Jerry Springer is where the real psychological madness goes on and guests can express themselves and their true nature surfaces. We all have it in us to misbehave in public, but we choose to keep certain aspects of our lives private. I used to hate the show and all its trappings, especially the host, Jerry where people cheered and chanted Jerry! Jerry! when he came on stage and showed us what a genius he really is. He is not pretentious about the show. He knows what the show represents and what others say about it, and he has a laugh at all of us with our reserved views. Not even Oprah or Dr Phil has his wit. He has a dry sense of humor and the show is worth watching just for the jibes. Still, the Jerry Springer show is not all fighting bodies and falling chairs, but provides a real platform for people with problems who would not be ordinarily heard.

A bizarre hour of madness

When a guest or a contestant enters the studio he knows what he is there for. He wants action, bizarre stories and even more bizarre behavior. He has no control over himself once he enters the Springer arena. There are the good-looking bodyguards, the drunk Reverend who performs wedding nuptials and couples who actually take the whole thing seriously. They tell their stories to greedy viewers who wait anxiously for the first punch. The show allows them to behave at their worst – throwing pudding at a contestant, fighting on the floor like animals, telling the most bizarre stories in their life and sharing them with the world. At a Jerry Springer show you can bare your breasts for cheap beads, drop your drawers and show your bum to the audience. Yet… we watch on. We laugh. We hold our breaths. We disguise our disgust. It is television at its most bizarre and disgusting. Fat women with big bellies go on the pole while Jerry walks slowly up and down the aisles knowing that this madness only lasts for an hour and he can go home to his fancy dwelling.

My sister stole my man

Still, in Jerry’s favor, outrageous as it may seem, he helps people. The outraged guest who is there to accost her sister as to why she stole her man, is there to get some revenge. She can let it out with punches and pulling hair even if her dress is torn and she is standing in her underwear. Jerry is not a stupid presenter, he is an acute businessman. Terrible as this is going to sound, watching the show does provide relief and you can be thankful to return to your own home where you can be human once again. Jerry’s wrap-up at the end when he becomes serious and delivers a few poignant words shows he understands the true nature of man. All he is doing is provide an arena where for an hour they can be true to themselves. Jerry! Jerry!


Is your child a killer in the making?

This is a hard and serious question, but we cannot sweep it aside. There are clear symptoms that manifest in early childhood. Some parents don’t want to recognize that there is a problem until something serious happens like your ten year old son killing his dog, swinging the cat by its tail against the wall, or anything that involves cruelty to animals. Being cruel to a pet is a big sign. Hurting a sibling, like fighting and breaking her arm is another big warning. Don’t think that the child will outgrow this. There is a reason why he indulges in this kind of behavior. It is not even the same as bullying as bullying entails another person who has agreed to be involved in a fight. Breaking your sister’s arm on purpose is evil. How did the child become evil? When did it start? What can reverse this kind of malice? Normally children who are ten and older have developed enough sense and some values to know that harming a living thing such as a pet is wrong. Hurting animals is against God’s wishes. This is not normal playing and behavior.

Psychological profile

According to a review of psychological and criminal research by child psychologist, Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D., children with early and delinquent functioning and who do not get along with other children and have disruptive families and abusive parents are most prone to act out their rage through murder. There are other signs such as the child being a loner, having no friends, and doing poorly in school. These children often come from homes where the parents are indifferent and neglectful and deal harshly with their kids and they themselves indulge in physical punishment. Children who kill also often feel they have no place in society. Anyone who watches popular forensics sciences programs know the profile of killers like Dahmer and other serial killers who have had a wretched childhood resulting in extreme loneliness and feeling like an outcast, who later kill. Butterworth goes on to say that children killing have invaded the heartland of America, and that all children are at risk. He states further that until it is known what makes these kids tick, that it is dangerous to release them into society.


Profile of a Narcissist

• You have to be the center of attention when you enter a room. You have chutzpah, panache, appear self confident and in charge, but there is a person with low self-esteem lurking underneath.

• You believe that you are better than others and have to have the best car, the best job, the best girl on your arm, and always have to have the best solution for everything.

• You become angry and frustrated when people do not listen to you. You want people to say something positive about you all the time but you never return the favor.

• You fantasize about having a wealthy existence and think about power and success all the time.

• You have trouble keeping friends for a long period of time and often people just tire of you and move on.

• When someone has realized success you congratulate the person but you are secretly jealous of his or her achievement.

• You have some good but also crazy ideas and want people to participate in your schemes and go along with you.

• You are insecure and think people are jealous of you.

• You are totally unaware of how you treat others and expect people to do favors for you all the time.

• When you are in the company of people beneath your station in life you make them aware of their shortcomings.

• You can rib others but you cannot take a joke when it is aimed at you.

• You act tough and in charge but you are really fragile underneath that brave exterior you show to the world.

• You come across as boastful and pretentious and do not make a good impression. People see through you right away.

• You will read this profile and claim that you are not a narcissist, but you are. Narcissism is in fact a borderline disease, and can be treated. Perhaps you are bipolar? Perhaps you need help? Perhaps there really is a personality that wants to emerge but does not know how? The best person to answer this question is a doctor and you should in fact consult one.


Apr 10, 2012

Profile of an alcoholic

• He claims that he is not an alcoholic and knows when to stop. He in fact drinks until he is wasted and cannot stand anymore.

• He claims that he knows his limits and only drinks one drink at a party or an event. He drinks until the last drop is gone. Remember, alcoholics are liars. They will do anything for that high.

• He claims that he knows he must stop soon and that he will. He knows nothing about the danger of the disease. Alcoholism can never be cured; just like a gambling addiction, it can only be arrested. An addict will have to arrest his addiction every day of his life, which is hard, but he must do it. He cannot let another drink pass his lips.

• He claims that he can stop any time that he wants and is not an addict. He does not slur, he says, fall over, or act ridiculous in front of people. That might be so because he has good control, but does not make him a normal drinker – someone who can take or leave alcohol, does not drink every day, and does not have the urge to drink constantly.

• Alcoholics have troubled families at home waiting for them. Their lives are upside down and children are witnesses and dragged through the abuse.

• An alcoholic progressively gets worse as he craves the same high and drinks more and more to maintain it. However, just because a drinker can stay away from alcohol for two or three weeks at a time, does not mean that he does not make up for it with binge drinking where he has a weekend with his buddies and a bath full of whiskey.

• An alcoholic is always looking to borrow money which he promises to repay at the end of the week but never does.


Apr 9, 2012

Joint custody and joint parenting

Often when there’s a separation or divorce, the first thing to be resolved is the children. Who are the children going to live with? If you move, who is going to get the car and how will the children get to school? If there is a custody battle, are the children going to be divided up or stay together with one parent and who should that parent be? Separating from your children is hard. It does not mean because you are the father that you cannot be the parent they live with. It is all up to what is best for the children. That thought should be uppermost in your mind. A father does not want to be separated from his kids as he wants to be with them first thing in the morning when they get up and get ready for school and last thing at night to tuck them in before they go to bed. The best thing you can do right upfront is to decide to be civil about it and vow to have an amicable split.

Suggestions for an easy transition

• If you have children, don’t separate them. Each child will be suffering from the loss and will not be at their best. The news of the separation or divorce would be known already as kids know well when their parents are at odds and something is wrong. Explain the situation to your kids but do not go into detail about what this one did and what the other one did. Ask each child separately where he or she wants to be. Your child will need comfort and lots of attention so spend time with each child individually and assuage his or her fear. Children want both their parents in the same house. They might pine for a long time if how you explain things and what you do is not done properly.

• If you get on well with your soon-to-be ex spouse, don’t discuss lawyers and custody matters with the kids. If they are under a certain age they are best off with their mother, especially if the father has to travel all the time to other states on business. A sixteen-year-old son might, however, live with his father if he so wishes. The idea is that irrespective of whom the children live with that on weekends they will all be together with their father. You can encourage sleepovers if the children desire it.

• If neither your husband nor you want to move because it is easier for the children to go to school, and you have a double-storied home you might want to make alterations to the house and have your own separate apartments in the home. It can work if you want it to and if you can handle the very real possibility that one of you might take a new partner.

Joint custody is an option for many parents as they both want to be involved with the child’s upbringing; his values, his faith, his education and so on. Going through a separation or divorce is not easy, but you can make it work if you want to. It is not going to be easy and won’t happen overnight, but you have to know that things will become easier as you go along, and as you see your kids happy.


Water, please!

Water is one of the most important necessities of all things living. Without water we perish. We need water to survive, for animals, for plants, for industry, for times of drought, and for times of death. Water also plays a big role in many different faiths, and is particularly used for cleansing and cleansing rituals. In prayer, the Muslims use water to purify themselves and have ablution before prayer. It is important for the body and clothing to be clean at all times. Water is also important for the washing of the deceased before prayer. In Christianity, water is also used. After the resurrection of Jesus, he commanded his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 19-20). Water is used in Buddhist funerals where it is poured into a bowl which is placed before the monks and the deceased. As the water fills the bowls the monks recite “As the rains fill the rivers and overflow into the ocean, so likewise may what is given here reach the departed.” We can’t do without water.

Ritual washing

In Christianity it is believed that baptism is a symbol of liberation from the oppression of sin that separates man from God except for the Catholics who believe that baptism does not in itself cleanse one from sin, but rather a public declaration of belief in Christ and a sign of welcome into the church. The Catholics believe that a real change occurs at baptism and that it is at baptism that the stain of original sin is actually removed from the person.

Maintaining a state of purity

In Judaism there is ritual washing to maintain a state of purity and ablutions include the washing of the hands, the feet or total immersion in ‘living water’ such as a river or the sea. During those early times ablutions were practiced by priests and converts to Judaism as part of the initiation rights, and by women on the seventh day after they have had their menstrual period. Very much like the Muslims, one had to wash ones hands and feet before taking part in temple services. Washing of the hands is performed before and after meals and on many other occasions. The washing of the hands, face, mouth, hands and feet are also what Muslims do before they perform prayer.

Red Sea significant in Jewish history

The parting of the Red Sea, a miraculous event at the beginning of the Exodus is significant in Jewish history. The Egyptian army was chasing them and God parted the Red Sea to enable the Israelites to escape. The miracle was a reward for the faith of Moses and the Israelites, and this led to the term God’s Chosen People. The crossing of the Red Sea showed God’s power and that God had power over everyone, including the sea. Water here has a powerful meaning as it meant punishment for the perceived enemy and blessings for the Israelites. The above is only a drop of information in the uses of water and the importance of water in our lives.


Apr 8, 2012

Activities at Easter for kids of all cultures

Kids love celebrations and some of them feel left out when their friends celebrate Easter, Christmas, and other religious celebrations. I remember my own childhood in South Africa when I dreaded the end of the year as I would not see my Christian friends for many weeks during the school holidays. My grandfather who was very forward thinking and understood kids often came up with exciting things for us to do. He had a stable with horses and on holidays when I spent time with him I would follow him around with my knee high rubber boots and watch the men in the stables feeding the horses. On Christmas Eve he would tell us kids to go to bed early as Father Christmas would come down the chimney to give us gifts. We totally believed this and when I had children of my own, I did the same thing; setting up a tree and bringing out the presents for under the tree. When I lived in North America, every citizen, from whatever culture, made the usual trips to the shops and became part of the Christmas madness. Christmas in North America is surely something wonderful as you have the real trees and the snow. Here are some things children of all cultures can participate in at Easter and other religious holidays.

• Have a family day and have a barbecue where you can invite all the friends and family with kids who can spend the day with you. The children will have baking utensils and dough and can make the dessert. The parents will bring their own cookie cutters and bake pans and the host will give over the kitchen to them. The adults will prepare the meat for the barbecue and oversee the baking. This can be a lot of fun for kids.

• You can also make special arrangements for the day to go to Robben Island where the kids will be on a ferry and also learn the history of Mandela’s imprisonment. They will have fun as well as learn something about the former President of the country. The cell Mandela stayed in and the isolation of the island and its history will make them think. Always try to have a learning experience. This might also be a little costly, but it will be well worth it. For those living outside of South Africa, there are also zoos and museums and skating rinks.

• A lesson in humanity – it is a good time for it – is also something you can add. Expose your kids to other cultures and faiths. This will help them in life if they know a little about what other people believe. It will make them more respectful and less self righteous. Kids are kids; it does not matter whether they have Christmas dolls and toys. You don’t want them to feel left out when other kids are celebrating. Just give them something too to look forward to.


When his mother has difficulty letting go

We all know someone – or maybe in our own family – where the son is married and has a wife and his mother still lays out his clothes in the morning and still tells him which tie is better to wear, what he should and should not eat and participate in, and still make herself the most important man in his life. His mother is assertive and says openly that nothing has changed and that her son still takes her advice. As a newly married wife you stand idly by out of respect and let her have the kudos, but you are bristling inside. Someone has to tell this mother – your mother-in-law what her position is now. She can be included in a discussion if you both agree, but no longer make the decisions. How does one do this when the mother-in-law is not mean and you like her, but don’t know how to correct the situation without hurting her feelings? Perhaps what is to be clarified and explained has to be done slowly over time and not in one fell swoop.

• First, the duty to tell his mother that things have changed now should come from the son. He is a grown man now and should tell his mother that she is still important in his life but that he has a wife now and she will take care of him. The mother might be a little upset at first, but she must be told, and the son must take responsibility and not leave this to his wife to sort out. Things will take a turn downwards and slowly deteriorate if it is not properly handled. This is an important aspect for a healthy relationship.

• You and your husband should discuss having a special day with his mom when you can all have dinner or lunch together and she does not feel left out. Make her feel part of the family and include her in some of your things.

• Have lunch with her on your own also where you can discuss things that are bothering her and that you can set straight and resolve. It is not easy for a mother to let go and doing it slowly and gently will go a long way to having a good friendship with her. Maybe the two of you can even go to a movie or exchange recipes. Find some common ground that you will both enjoy.

• Once a month you might feel inclined to pick up some groceries for her. There are good and bad ways to curry favor with a mother-in-law. Take the good route; it will help in forging a relationship with your mother-in-law. You know that you have the last name, the man, and his love and respect. He will care for you more when he sees that both the women in his life are happy. Mothers-in-law are just mothers who wrongly fear that they will lose their sons. Make her feel that that is not so.