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D ecember 2020
L iving in the P resent and F uture
When it comes to planning, we should seek a balance, almost like a seesaw. To perfect that balance, we need to get things in the right place, and then they move in tandem. From a Buddhist perspective, we’re taught to break our lives down into microseconds, creating real time awareness, which is how we are able to most likely treasure each moment we’re given, and there’s tremendous value in that. During these winter months, our days become shorter, and we are more conscious about planning for them while the sun is still in the sky. We’re also reminded that the change is seasonal, and the transition itself is important. These shorter winter days make us, for one thing, more conscious of the end of life. Yet, they’re about preparing for resurgence and rebirth. To me, that’s a little odd. I tend to think about rebirth as a springtime event, but for ancient people and those who celebrate the winter solstice, that’s not so. They see the delicate shift of shorter days into longer ones at the winter solstice as evidence that the sun will shine again. This is the critical difference between the end of life and the beginning of life. While there is value in living day to day, there’s also value in living for tomorrow. Both have their own place. However, how do you plan if you’re unsure about what the future may hold? If 2020 has taught us anything it’s this: We don’t know what is headed our way in the days, weeks, months, or even years to come. Yet, as sentient beings, we know the seasons will change — the years will pass. We will get older and our kids will grow into adulthood. We must have this perspective as we continue to live our lives. It entices us to continue working toward perfecting that balance between short-term and long-term plans.
possible and necessary. We must live for the moment because we’re promised nothing more, but we also must plan for the future because it will come, whether we like it or not. The most wonderful thing about being creative beings is that, even with a global pandemic, we can make great things happen. We’ve seen people create great things all around us, and we shouldn’t waste our opportunity to think through what we want to create in this new year headed our way. 2020 was many, many things, including an opportunity. It has given us a chance to create a better balance within ourselves and bring these perspectives into sharper focus.
I believe it is psychologically necessary for us to have long-term plans. We don’t want to be the people who did not ask themselves: “What do I want 2021 to look like?” As individuals, we must do more than live in the moment and, therefore, plan for the future and consider our long-term objectives. At the same time, we must also not forget the value of a single day. Living one day at a time and planning for the future are both “While there is value in living day to day, there’s also value in living for tomorrow. Both have their own place.”
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B e a B etter L istener for S omeone
Who Needs to ‘Get I t Al l Out ’ It’s not always easy to share feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, or other strong emotions — but it’s healthy to share them. Sometimes, we need to vent and get it all out. Venting gives us an opportunity to release these emotions, which often leads to mental clarity. However, when someone comes to you to vent and share their heavy emotional burden, listening can be just as challenging as sharing. You want to be supportive, but you don’t want to interfere. Strong feelings and tough situations may be involved. What can you do to be the listener they really need? It starts with your body language. Open yourself to their emotional needs. Gregorio Billikopf, an interpersonal relationship expert at the University of California, Berkeley says if you begin the conversation standing, invite the person to have a seat with you. Another thing you can do as a listener is position yourself below their eye line. This puts the person venting in a more active “storyteller” position and you in a better “listener” position. While in this position, maintain eye contact. It’s okay to look down or away occasionally, but try to keep steady eye contact. Billikopf also notes that, as a listener, it’s important to avoid interjecting. Don’t offer input, suggestions, or guidance to the person venting until after the person has had the chance to get it all out. “During this venting process, there is still too much pressure for a person to consider other perspectives,” Billikopf says.
While you don’t want to interject, you do want to be an active listener. This means you don’t want to be completely silent. This is where “reflective listening” comes in. Occasionally repeat what the speaker says — but don’t use their exact phrasing. Reword slightly in a sympathetic manner. Don’t spin their words or mistakenly interject an opinion, as it may not be the opinion they’re interested in hearing. Alternatively, listening cues like “mm” or “hm” and nods are always welcome. One last thing to keep in mind: You do not need to offer a solution to the person’s problem or concerns. They may just be venting to get their negative emotions out, not looking for answers or explanations. If they are looking for answers or guidance, wait for them to ask. In the meantime, lend your ear and let them know you’re there for them going forward.
H ow to E at D uring the H olidays Wi thout Sacr i f icing Your Favor i te Foods or Your Waist l ine
Have you ever stood on a scale at the end of the holiday season and wondered how the extra pounds crept on? It’s no secret that a sugar cookie here, a slice of pie there, and a few glasses of eggnog in between can lead to a few pounds gained. When you’re surrounded by Christmas goodies, how can you resist? Luckily, there are a few ways you can protect your waistline this holiday season without completely cutting out your favorite treats. Be Choosy When you see a regular buffet of your favorite holiday treats, don’t immediately start scarfing down everything that looks remotely tasty and sweet. First, scope out the food — without a plate — so you won’t be tempted to start eating without really looking. Then, find the treats that are your absolute favorites and choose one or two of them to eat. You don’t have to give up sweets during the holidays; instead, eat with discretion. Don’t Go Hungry To ensure that you don’t overeat at a party or buy junk food that you don’t need when shopping, eat
a healthy snack before going out. Before you head out to a party, eat a snack chock-full of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and unsaturated fats. Apple slices with peanut butter work, as well as lean meats and cheeses. If you’re headed to the grocery store, eating a filling snack before you go will make you less likely to impulsively scoop up those sugary cookies and pastries in the bakery. Drink Responsibly (and Judiciously) If you drink alcohol, keep in mind that each drink will probably be somewhere between 150–225 calories. A glass of eggnog can have as many as 500 calories. Alcohol decreases your self-control when you’re eating, while also increasing your appetite. Make sure that if you’re drinking, you’re not doing so on an empty stomach. And to decrease the number of high-calorie drinks that you consume, drink a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages. The holidays are a minefield for any healthy diet. But with the right tools, you can ensure that by Jan. 2, your waistline won’t be worse for wear.
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W hat an I ncrease in P opulation C an M ean for F amilies Throughout human history, large numbers of people have had to move from one place to another for various reasons. Between the years of 1845–1849, the devastating potato famine struck Ireland, and the Irish fled to the U.S. From 1916–1970, six million African Americans in the U.S. moved from the rural South to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West, known as the Great Migration, for better opportunities. In the future, we may see other great movements as well. Climate change might necessitate huge portions of the population moving to more, relatively speaking, habitable climates. The effects this will possibly have on Atlanta, and other such cities, are not just environmental but also economical. It’s predicted that, from 2015–2030, the population in Atlanta will grow nearly 40%, and by 2050, there will be nearly 2.9 million people living in Metro Atlanta. In predicting this potential movement of populations, we also have to consider the implications it will have on families. For example, in 2005, after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, a vast number of families left the city and never returned. A fair number of those families were divorced or hadn’t been married, so they chose not to live close together. A mother may have decided to move to Houston while the father moved to Atlanta, and that required new visitation agreements and planning. This leads to one question that is already relevant at the beginning of a separation: Where are the kids going? In situations where separation has already taken place, parents have worked out visitation and habits in their current circumstances. Imagine how more involved this process becomes when that distance becomes even further or the parents decide to live in different countries. As we see populations continue to rise in our cities, and as separated parents plan and prepare to move, it’s crucial to keep larger issues in mind. When either parent decides to move, there needs to be considerable thought put into reconfiguring visitation schedules and the added burdens of travel that go along with that distance.
Y ou are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream . —C.S. L ewis
R ussian T ea C akes
Inspired by FoodAndWine.com
• • •
2 cups flour 1/4 tsp salt
• • •
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (plus extra for rolling cookies)
D irections Preheat oven to 325 F.
Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool slightly, then remove cakes from the baking sheet and roll in powdered sugar. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Before serving, roll cookies in powdered sugar again.
Using a mixer, cream butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla, then gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Sift flower, measure, then sift again with the salt. Add gradually to the butter mixture, then add nuts and mix well. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. On an ungreased baking sheet, place tea cakes 2 inches apart.
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Living in the Present and Future
How to Be a Better Listener for Someone in Need How to Eat (Responsibly) During the Holidays
Families Who Decide to Live Apart Russian Tea Cakes
The Story Behind 3 Laws Named After People
Perusing a list of federal laws may read like a yearbook of crime history. Bills introduced in Congress are often named after the victims of horrific crimes, greed, and exploitation to honor those victims. Below are three such laws. Each has made a lasting impression on society and culture. The AdamWalsh Child Protection and Safety Act The AdamWalsh Child Protection and Safety Act was signed in 2006 — 25 years after 6-year-old AdamWalsh was abducted from a Florida shopping mall. Adam’s body was found 16 days later, and his father’s reaction to his son’s horrific death impacted generations of victims. His father, John Walsh, went on to create the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and hosted the popular TV show “America’s Most Wanted” for 23 years. The act created a three-tiered categorization for sex offenders, designated requirements for registering as a sex offender, and included a provision that requires offenders to report their whereabouts. The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act Boxing is a tradition that stretches back to the early Egyptians, but it wasn’t until 1999 that Congress took action to protect these heavyweight fighters from greed and exhaustion. The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act — known as the Ali Act — sought to protect boxers from promoters who took advantage of sports bets to make a quick buck. Experts identified many unethical business practices that put boxers in danger and stripped them of their rights to payment. The act was signed into law on May 26, 2000. Though it bears the name of famed boxer Muhammad Ali, there are no explicit ties to him, but the boxer did fervently support the bill in Congress. 3 L aws N amed A fter P eople That All Americans Should Know
Kari’s Law In 2013, Kari Hunt Dunn was killed by her estranged husband in a hotel room in Texas. Her daughter, who witnessed the event, knew to call 911 but was unaware that she had to dial 9 first to make an outbound call. Kari’s parents sought to change that by advocating for Kari’s Law, which was introduced in the Texas legislature in 2015. The law was signed into effect nationwide in 2018. It mandates that hotels, businesses, and other multi-line phone operating systems can no longer require dialing a 9, or any other number, prior to making a 911 call.
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