Fall Down 7 times. Get Up 8. Do the Hokey Pokey …

by The Sibyls

Midlife  can  involve many  stresses  including  career  demands,  difficult  teenage children, divorce,  lack of time,  lack of fitness,  parents’   failing  health  and  money  worries  with no simple solutions in sight. But one of the BIGGEST issues of midlife is accepting that you are not always in control. Unexpected things can happen to you despite the best plans.

An article by Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times this week (How to Build Resilience in Midlife) gives some pointers that could equally apply at any age.

Life, or so it seems, was simple once. Now it is so complex.
Here are some of the ways to build resilience:

  • Practise Optimism
  • Rewrite Your Story
  • Don’t Personalise It
  • Remember Your Comebacks
  • Support Others
  • Take Stress Breaks
  • Go Out of Your Comfort Zone

We, the Sibyls, would add:

  • Seek joy

Joy will not just arrive on your doorstep. You have to seek it. Find out what makes you happy and what makes you laugh. Then do this everyday or, at least, when you can.

Can you guess which generation is Generation Smug?

Sibylesque George Orwell quote When it comes to food we always think we’re smarter than our parents and, as George Orwell noted, wiser than out kids. So which generation is Generation Smug? Yours!!! Sibylesque Milk Carton nutrition 2 photo source: pinterest unattributed

HOME

Imagine this … toys for tots that don’t cost an arm and a leg

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque toy grandparent quote quote

OK! I’m going to be blunt here….if you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbour of a young child…never let toy companies con you into thinking they have something you don’t have in your cupboard. If you have pots’n’pans, plastic containers, jars, interesting cooking utensils, then you have a toyshop!!!

Children love exploring and they love it even more when they’re not presented with glitzy, plastic, brightly coloured so called educational toys. And you know why??? Cos all of those mass produced plastic toys do not…and I say…DO NOT….engage children’s imaginations.

Sibylesque  Saucepan Kid

Open the cupboard, let them explore, explore with them. Play with them…pretend with them. Cook the soup, stir the pot and have yet another cup of tea!! Find your old lids and mismatched containers. Let the 2 year old have a go at organising your plastics and drum on your saucepans. If you do that, you will be doing more for their intellectual development than presenting them with coloured ‘bangs and whistle’ toys that only do one thing…bang and whistle.

Great Start Quotes

Great Start Website: Fab resource for parents and grandparents of pre-schoolers

Let’s honour and respect children’s imaginations and open the cupboards and drawers. Watch what they do. You will see mathematical and scientific thinkers and you will hear their thinking as they explore, wonder, try out (that’s called hypothesising in the big world, but children do it all the time), and come up with some amazing thoughts, questions and ideas.

How come there is a whole multinational toy industry? Oh!! It’s because it’s a multinational toy industry. Take the pressure off yourselves and find what engages kids minds and souls, and I can tell you, it won’t be pink or purple plastic. Let’s give the kids a go.

Last word…no plastic toy or even pots and pans will replace playing with the kids but pots ‘n pans are fun!!!

……………………………………………..

Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!

Photo source: Great Start website,  Dept of Education and Child Development, SA

HOME

Sibling Rivalry: It’s what happened when we stopped sending kids down the coal mines!

by Penny Cook

matrix of colourful squares with distorted borders in the centre

At what point did sibling rivalry become 2 separate words? Anyone with 2 or more children knows it’s actually one word….because as soon as you have a sibling, there is rivalry. All our good intentions in planning the ‘best possible’ age gap between children goes to play dough as soon as there is a second child and is there to stay for subsequent additions to the clan.

Sibling rivalry is one of those primitive dispositions in children’s lives that we don’t like to deal with, let alone acknowledge as a normal and healthy part of socialisation. I’m not saying physical abuse is ok but when children ‘rival’ with each other for the same amount of dosh for pocket money or who’s done the dishes more times or had more turns on the computer, they’re actually exploring ‘fairness’, which is a concept we would like them to know about. Our struggle as parents and grandparents is how to teach them understanding and negotiation for equitable outcomes, compromise, empathy and generosity in sibling rivalry, cos God knows, often it’s easier to send them all to their rooms!!

Sibylesque Sibling Rivalry Awkward family photos

When we stop and talk children through what they’re experiencing and how it might work for them and others we are doing the whole of society a big favour. Now, this isn’t going to be possible with every squabble but acknowledging and naming feelings and being a fair arbitrator not only builds trust but let’s children know that situations can be solved and builds their skills in doing so. They will learn far more about equity from watching and experiencing the actions of the trusted adults in their lives than any social learning program. So grown ups, when you feel disempowered by the ‘rivalry’, remember, there’s a learning opportunity and a purpose in all of it.

Of course, at times, the darlings may just be being little so and so’s. That’s what bedrooms are for. If they won’t go there, you can!!

Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!…….

…………………………………………..

Photo source: Awkward Family Photos

HOME

 

Chemo Journal I

by Sibyl Jules

Sibylesque Chemo Quote

How do you describe the old chemo trip which, incidentally, I finished 2 weeks ago after 6 months of 2 weekly cycles? This is only my experience- everyone has different sorts of chemo and some are much worse than others. My side effects were horrible on one drug, which I was spared after 4 cycles because of weird stuff happening. I never wanted to know what the side effects might be beforehand- then I’d only get them! A useful tip shared by an oncology nurse friend was to keep the literature they gave me as a reference if something did feel unusual or bad, and just read it as you need to. This helped me avoid worrying about things that might happen and to respond appropriately to them if they did.

chemo art

I can’t say chemo was easy, but when I meet with any of my ‘cancer club’ as my partner calls them, he always comments how happy we all are. We are, after all, alive, and eating, drinking (albeit a modified beverage of choice) and laughing with friends. I think that the last 6 months of chemo has taught me to enjoy and savour every tiny joy- cooking and sharing food and wine with good friends and family has always been an important part of our lives- so when chemo flattens me for a week, being able to eat and drink and meet friends again- or go to WOMAD, the happiest 4 days of the year as I know it- gives me much to be happy about. Every tiny joy helps…Look for them- they make you feel safe and help to stave off the anxiety and fear.

Sibylesque Apparition of the Visage of Aphrodite of Cnidos in a Landscape, 1981

Oddly, chemo has also reminded me how much I love my work. I’ve been able to work two or three days a week, throughout chemo. I found that focusing on thinking and working, surrounded by busy people doing interesting things has helped me to avoid the pitfalls of the ‘poor-me-illness-behaviour mode’, which I might be prone to without the focus! I’m lucky I can choose when I go to work and if I feel too bad I crash and burn, but usually I get some days in each week. I’m also fortunate I love my work. And having a supportive and loving family and partner has helped too of course. I’ve loved having old friends call up out of the blue, and have been overwhelmed by the incredible generosity and thoughtfulness of people around me. Totally unexpected and humbling.

On grumbling about chemo prior to treatment starting, a surgeon reminded me that I am very lucky to be offered chemo- a treatment that may help keep me alive. For some things there is no such treatment and for that reason I knew I’d just have to go with it, knowing that every 2 weeks, just as I’m beginning to feel a bit ‘normal’ again, another bus will run me over.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 Picture 1Jules is a perceptive observer and an irrepressible, positive force as well as director and publisher for the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute, Adelaide, SA. And here is the Chemo Fashionista post of the fabulous Jules at WOMAD, Adelaide.

Are the Food Police killing us?

by Kerry Cue

 Sibylesque diet Quote

Who are the Food Police? Epidemiologists. They juggle statistics and advise governments. They do good work with diseases. Where? Why? How?

But their diet advice is often iffy.

‘At best they can show only association, not causation. Epidemiological data can be used to suggest hypotheses but not to prove them.’

Nina Teicholz, The Government’s Bad Diet Advice, NYT, 20 FEB, 2015

So what are some of the backflips in Government dietary advice in recent years:

  • salt is not that bad
  • red meat is not that bad
  • fat is not that bad
  • and now, guess what, cholesterol is NOT THAT BAD.

See Why we eat ourselves crazy on this blog.

Sibylesque desserts

The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s hysterical fear of fat in recent decades gave support to low-fat foods, which, because of their high-sugar content, may have significantly contributed to obesity and therefore other chronic diseases.

‘Over the past 50 years, we cut fat intake by 25 percent and increased carbohydrates by more than 30 percent, according to a new analysis of government data. Yet recent science has increasingly shown that a high-carb diet rich in sugar and refined grains increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease — much more so than a diet high in fat and cholesterol.’ Mark Bittman, How Should We Eat?, NYT, 25 FEB 2015.

Meanwhile, cholesterol has come in from the cold. All those eggs you didn’t eat and all those egg white omelets you did eat have not helped your cholesterol levels. The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommened that dietry cholesterol is not much of a problem. Mark Bittman, How Should We Eat?, NYT, 25 FEB 2015.

In other words, when dealing with the Food Police take their recommendations with a grain of salt, a lashing of cream, a scrambled egg and some leafy green vegetables (everyone thinks they’re a good idea).

Photo source: unsourced

HOME

What do you give grandchildren who have, well, everything?

by Penny Cook

Antoine deSaint Exupery Quote

And so it’s Christmas time …again. This is my 55th. I’m struggling with what I can give my grandchildren when they have everything. It’s not how it used to be. And this is not about being nostalgic…it’s about living in a material world, as Madonna sang in not so recent times!! Years ago, material things were sought after and reserved for special occasions like birthdays and Christmas…they weren’t accessible every day.

Sibylesque Tea Party

When I look at my almost one year old grand daughter, I see her delighting in happening upon a toilet roll and tearing into it, leaving a trail of her perfect work along the hallway. I watch her upend the dog’s water bowl and place it in a planter box. I marvel at how engaged she is with a box of tea bags and how she empties it and carries some of the bags to the third step on the staircase and stores them there with other household items. Presents she has given herself. I listen to her 5 year old brother who has chosen a heart shaped rose quartz stone for her because ‘she loves rocks and now she will know that I will always love her’. How can I compete? What can I give her?

There is nothing….but me. I am her Nan. I will be there when she endures growing up…when tearing up toilet rolls doesn’t fix hurtful words or gathering rocks can’t explain others’ actions.

Sure, I will find a present for Christmas.. but Grandparents…we are a gift for life.

…………………………………………………………………….

Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!…….

Photo source: 1930s Tea Party Queensland Library Archives

HOME

The Twelfth Raven: A memoir of stroke, love and recovery

Moroon border 2

maroon quote-1All sorrows can be borne if you put them into stories.

maroon quote-2

……………………………Isak Dinesen, Author, Out of Africa quoted in The Twelfth Raven

Moroon border 2

Sibylesque Sibyls Books
REVIEW by Kerry Cue

 

thetwelfthravenThe Twelfth Raven:

A memoir of stroke, love and recovery

Doris Brett

UWA Publishing (2014)

The Twelfth Raven, according to an old English rhyme, brings joy for tomorrow. Sometimes, I wish poets wrote news headlines then, instead of the ‘Syrian Bloodbath’ headline, you might read something like ‘Trickster God’s Toy with Us Again’. The Trickster God’s certainly overthrew all that defines normality in Doris Brett’s life. Firstly, Brett’s husband Martin suffered, at 59, a stroke followed by a superbug, heart valve failure and open-heart surgery. Then Brett needed a radical mastectomy.

Doris_Brett_2014_smallRead this book if you want to learn how to defend yourself against the Healthcare system. But Brett is a poet. The language is lyrical. Dreams untangle knots in reality to reveal some profound truths. Read this book, if you want to gain some insight into the inner journey of an insightful writer in a family crisis. Brett is ruthlessly honest and very generous in this regard.

A recommended read.

We, THE SIBYLS, declare Doris Brett an Honorary Sibyl for her ruthless honesty, her unflinching endurance and her ability to provide insights into life’s hardships by weaving her brand of lyrical magic.

Sibylesque Sibyl Approved Maroon