Iron Skillet

Iron Skillet

Contributed by
Ashley Reed

Whenever I can hear rock n’ roll or heavy metal while walking down the hallway that leads to my apartment, I know that my boyfriend is over. Not only that, but I also know that he is cooking. Yesterday, I came home to Led Zeppelin pounding through the speakers,  breaded chicken sizzling in oil , and pasta boiling in hot water.

About half an hour after arriving home, I was sitting in front of a steaming plate of pasta marinated in vodka sauce and covered in melted cheese, alongside crispy chicken that had just been fried minutes before. It was glorious comfort food that I was craving after my wisdom tooth surgery had me on a diet of scrambled eggs and smoothies for two weeks.

My boyfriend loves to cook, and he often “surprises” me by coming to my apartment right after he finishes his shift to cook dinner before I get home from work.  I trust his opinion when buying anything culinary-related. Recently, he bought a iron skillet that he had been pining over for a year. When he first bought it, he seasoned it before cooking anything in it. Which was strange to me – I had never heard of seasoning cookware before! After dinner, he told me that if you continually take care of an iron skillet, it can last for generations. Apparently the older a skillet is, the tastier the food cooked in it is! However, if you neglect your skillet and take poor care of it, it will last you only a year or so.

My metaphorical mind couldn’t pass up an opportunity to compare Alex’s care of his iron skillet to the care that we put into relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but also the bonds we have with family, friends, and co-workers. Just like an iron skillet, relationships require plenty of TLC.  If you neglect a friendship and put in a half-hearted effort, you will most likely end up with a broken-off relationship. But if you put time and effort into your relationship, “seasoning” it with shared experiences, you are more likely to have a long lasting bond that ages well with time.

Do you have any relationships that could use some more TLC? What can you do to work on that relationship?

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Listen, Daniel. Listen.

Listen, Daniel. Listen.

Contributed by
Sarah Pichardo

My 7-year old nephew, Daniel, loves to talk. And by loves, I mean LOVES. It’s amazing how such a small person has so much to say. His 3-year old sister, Catalina, mostly listens and on occasion she manages to get a word in. I can’t help but laugh when I see the scenario because it brings me back to my childhood. When we were growing up, my sister LOVED to talk and I would just sit there and listen and every now and again, I too got a word in. However, sometimes I just couldn’t take it anymore and I would yell to the top of my lungs, “Shut up already! Don’t you ever get tired of talking?!” She would just look at me in bewilderment, like that’s a really stupid question, of course I don’t get tired of it.

But back to my nephew. Recently I was dropping them off at the airport and on the drive there Daniel was yapping as always. At one point, he got quiet and, at that moment, Catalina finally had an opportunity to say something. Daniel did not like this and told her to be quiet because he was trying to think. To which I said, “Daniel, you talked most of the ride and now it’s Catalina’s turn to speak and your turn to listen.”

It’s pretty obvious to point out how unfair it was for Daniel not to let Catalina have a turn. But if we stop and analyze our listening behaviors and are honest with ourselves, we might find that we are just as guilty as this very talkative little boy.

How often do you go on and on about yourself, your issues, your situations, your thoughts, but when it’s the other persons turn to speak, you completely tune them out? Are you blatantly bored with what they are saying because it’s not relevant to you? Or instead of listening, you’ve compared your experience, given them advice and/or drawn conclusions and judgements?

This, my friends, is not listening.

To listen means to give the person speaking your undivided attention and acknowledge what they are saying. If we do not listen, we will easily misunderstand the message being relayed – and this can cause all sorts of issues.

Dr. Ralph Nichols, known as the father of listening, summed it up fantastically when he said that “the most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

Just like you want to be understood, so does your spouse, friends, family and co-workers. Let’s show them that we care by taking the time to really listen to what they are saying and let’s understand where they are coming from – judgement free.

Let’s listen and show empathy.

Let’s listen and show our loved ones we care.

Let’s simply listen.


Follow us on social media or check out our web page to find lots of tips on listening and on effective communication. 

2+1 Hear, Listen, then Speak

2+1 Hear, Listen, then Speak

Contributed by
Charles Woehr

I love to give good advice! If anyone asks me to give him or her advice on any given situation that may be affecting their state of mind or of matters of the heart, I will surely give them some type of recommendation, or soothing advice. It’s something that gives me great satisfaction. And that’s my problem! In fact, sometimes I am so anxious to give advice that I don’t allow the other person to finish expressing their need and I’m already interrupting, to make a personal analysis and offer potential solution.

It seems like “my problem” is a common one amongst other people: it gives us satisfaction to be able to provide advice to others; talk and talk about the things we think they need to hear. Someone once said that the reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is because we need to listen double the amount we speak. For some, this works the other way around: we speak double the amount we listen. (and we would still need to analyze if we are truly listening or not.)

When someone is going through a tough time they normally need to talk to someone about their concerns; they need to someone to listen to them, since they feel that if the other person listens, they will take away the heavy load from their shoulders. They will no longer feel so lonely. Now, when you interrupt the other person to start giving them advice it’s like you’re telling them: “I really don’t care about what you’re talking about, what I have to say is far more important.” The truth is, that when you listen to what the other person is saying, with your heart, you are offering them the most important gift you have to offer.

You can learn to listen. Yes, it’s something you can learn: by listening. And don’t confuse waiting patiently for your turn to talk, as listening. To listen well, it is necessary to put your best efforts into what’s required to speak.  There are a couple of impediments that you will need to overcome in order to listen well. Check out some of them:

  1. Do not interrupt. Resist giving your opinion, even if it seems like you can’t wait to say something.
  2. Your mind can think about a couple of things at a time. Just like when you remember you left something at home.
  3. Your mid can be easily distracted, not once but a couple of times during the same conversation. Probably because you’re looking at what’s going on in the background, or you noticed something in the person’s face or clothing.
  4. Every thing the other person says reminds you of a similar experience you had. (In fact, your start thinking about so much that you start focusing more on your interior voice more than the other; so much that you might’ve tuned out the other person).

We could continue talking about all the distractions that can make it difficult to listen; there’s many more. But let’s focus on the things that we can practice to be a better listener and overcome the mentioned distractions. Here are 4 tips:

  • Listen to all details mentioned;
  • Look into the other person’s eyes and try not to focus on anything else;
  • When it’s your turn to talk, repeat a couple of things the other person said to you (this will show them that you were truly listening); and
  • Before responding with your opinion ask questions to clear any misunderstanding or to find out if the other person has more to say.

These tips can help you become a better listener. Now, if I may ask: While Reading the paragraph, were you aware of any distractions? Were you able to fully concentrate on what you were reading? Would you be able to tell someone exactly what you read, word by word? It’s not easy, is it? But you can get better at it and so can I. Make it a goal to become a better listener. In your net conversation with a family member or friend, allow them to talk as much as they can, be brief and precise in your responses. You will note that you can do a lot better when you actually try. And the other person will be very thankful for it.

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