"There is no independent existence.
In caring for another person,
we ourselves are cared for."
"The first step in caregiving is to let go of our ideas about what it means to be a helpful, compassionate caregiver.
These mental images set standards that easily lead to disappointment, frustration and self-doubt.
The direct experience of giving care is new every moment and leads us into unfamiliar directions.
We gather experience along the way, but with each encounter we must show up, stay present to what is actually happening, and see what occurs."
— The Caregiver's Tao Te Ching by William and Nancy Martin —
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When a friend or relative is sick, & we don't know what we can do to really help, what do we often make for them?
Soup, of course. Somehow the simple act of soup-making makes us feel useful. Often it makes me feel as good as I hope it will make my sick friend or relative feel.
And that's a glimpse of the theme of the movie, "The Intouchables". It's about caregiving at its highest level--when it's not quite clear who really is the caregiver--and who is the "cared for". Turns out, both parties are caring for each other--both take turns at playing the part of "able-bodied" & "handicapped".
No one has to be sick, ill, or handicapped to try our hands at a little caregiving for each other, either. I think it's happening all the time--right under our noses.
If you haven't read it yet, don't miss the heartwarming mind-changing Sunday New York Times Magazine article about the wunderkind Wharton School of Business professor, Adam Grant: "Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?" And no, it's not about giving with the intention of receiving something in return. That's what makes this a worthwhile thoughtful read.
Last night, when I returned home from work, the Lab Rat had a big pot of Smoky Lentil Spinach Olive Soup simmering on the stove. Yep, I definitely felt cared for. Tonight? I'll do some caregiving cooking for him, and whip up a batch of Navratan Korma Curry. At least that's my plan right now.
The Movie: The Intouchables
If you don't see the trailer on your screen, click here.
Don't miss the French film, the "Intouchables", based on a the true story of a wealthy Parisian quadriplegic who gets a second chance at living a fuller life when he hires an untrained, unemployed Senegalese caregiver who has just been released from prison for robbery.
I missed this film when it was first released in theaters last year. Honestly, I'd completely forgotten about it. So, it was a big serendipitous surprise when I noticed that a Netflix copy of the film had just arrived at my kids' home on the same day that we arrived for our visit last week.
Once the grandkids were put to bed, all four of us sat on the couch & had a chance to view this warm often-funny mesmerizing film. All of us were touched deeply by its story of friendship, respect, and mutual careging between two men who on the surface, shared nothing in common. Nothing preachy or heavy-handed about its message, either. It just slowly unfolds.
Here's the scoop: Philippe is an over-the-top wealthy widowed Parisian, paralyzed from the neck down from a paragliding accident, and completely unable to survive without the help of an entire staff. He's privileged, cultured, knowledgeable of art & classical music.
Driss is an unemployed Senegalese immigrant, tall, strong, sexy, handsome, cocky, and completely clueless about caring for a quadriplegic. He's newly released from prison, living in a tiny apartment full of assorted relatives--and he's anxious to start receiving unemployment benefits. His musical tastes lean toward disco pop. His knowledge of art is zero.
The relationship between this unlikely pair turns the idea of caregiving upside-down. It's hard to know who is caring more for whom.
And that's all I'm going to tell you about this film.
The Caregiving Dinner
Smoky Tomato Lentil Spinach Soup with a Kalamata Kick (Enlightened PPK)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
To print, email, or text the recipe on one page, click here.
Ingredients (serves 8)
- 1 large sweet onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 2 tablespoons of sweet smoked paprika
- 1 cup dried brown lentils
- 5 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
- Fresh black pepper
- 1 28 ounce can of fire-roasted crushed or chopped tomatoes
- 8 ounces of fresh baby spinach
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped kalamata olives (you can add up to 3/4 cup of olives, if you like--I cut the amount to 1/2 because of their high salt content)
1. Preheat a large soup pot over medium high heat.
2. Saute onions until translucent with the easy no-oil method. Add onions, lower heat to medium-lowish, cover the pot & let them sweat & soften for about 10 minutes. Check every 3 minutes to stir the onions & add small amounts of water or broth if they start to dry out--& to deglaze the pot. They're done when they're soft, translucent & sweet.
3. Add garlic when the onions are done & saute for about 1 minute. Add the thyme & smoked paprika
4. Add the lentils, broth, & a little pepper. Cover, bring to a boil, then let it simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lentils are almost tender.
5. Add the tomatoes--if they aren't already crushed, make sure you mash them up well before adding them to the soup. Return the soup to a boil, then lower the heat for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are very tender.
6. Now add the spinach & olives, stirring well until the spinach softens & wilts. Add additional broth if you want your soup thinner.
7. Let the soup sit for at least 10 minutes before serving to intensify the flavors. Taste & adjust the seasoning.