TAKE A BREAK
BE A BETTER LISTENER
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, however, to look down or away occasionally. 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 he/she has had the chance to get it all out. “During this venting process, there is still too much pressure for them to consider other perspectives,” Billikopf says. While you don’t want to interject, try 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 offer a comment, 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 concern. They may just be venting to get their negative emotions out. If they are looking for a recommendations or guidance, wait for them to ask. In the meantime, lend your ear and let them know you’re there for them going forward.
NOT YOUR GRANDMA’S FRUITCAKE
Inspired by SimplyRecipes.com
• 1 cup sugar • 1 egg, room temperature • Zest of 1 orange • 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp baking soda • 1 cup sour cream • 3 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit of your choice, chopped • 1 cup nuts of your choice, chopped • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided • 1 stick butter
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with greased baking paper. Ensure the piece running the length of the pan stands 1 inch above each side to form “handles.” 2. In a small bowl, mix baking soda and sour cream. 3. In a second bowl, combine fruit, nuts, and 1/4 cup flour. 4. In a third bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, zest, and sour cream mixture. Then, add remaining flour and salt. Mix, then add fruit mixture. 5. Pour batter into lined pan. Fill up a separate loaf pan halfway with water. Bake both pans in oven for 1 1/2–2 hours or until a skewer leaves the cake clean. 6. Use “handles” to remove cake from pan and cool completely on a rack before serving.
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