“What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.” C.S. Lewis, The Magicians Nephew
For me, the true measure of a good book or movie or experience is how often I revisit and replay it in my mind afterwards. The best ones continue to be thought provoking long after the last page is turned, the closing credits have rolled, or the event is over. Unfortunately, I seem to have hit a dry spell with some of the reading I’ve been doing lately,but one book which has continued to stick with me for months now has been Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. WHAT.A.STORY! Although I am not suggesting my struggles are not the same or comparable to those of this endearing protagonist, I did feel more than a twinge of conviction as she began to examine her inherited inclination to make harsh snap judgments of those around her. Although it is a pattern throughout the book, Eleanor becomes acutely aware of this tendency and the fact that it is not serving her well as she makes her commute via public transportation.
Eleanor describes a game that she plays in her mind each time she boards the bus, trying to quickly scan the passengers to find the “slimmest, sanest, cleanest-looking person to sit next to” to avoid choosing wrongly and making “the fifteen-minute journey into town… a much less pleasant experience – either squashed beside a sprawling fatty, or mouth-breathing to minimize the penetration of the reek emanating from an unwashed body.” Although on this particular day she experiences what she considers rejection as several oncoming passengers skip the empty seat beside her in favor of one next to what she considers far less desirable options. She begins to panic, wondering what this says about her and why she looks like the type of person to be avoided until a stranger (who she has already judged as a madman in light of his clothing choices – no socks!) shows her kind concern in light of her apparent distress.
It is a powerful exchange which shifts Eleanor’s perspective and propels her further in her personal growth and healing. She realizes that she has often been too quick to judge people, that 10 seconds is not enough time and also that there might be more to the story. She muses to herself “the way you try not to sit next to fat people, for example. There’s nothing wrong with being overweight, is there? They could be eating because they’re sad, the same way you used to drink vodka. They could have had parents who never taught them how to cook or eat healthily. They could be disabled and unable to exercise, or they could have an illness that contributes to weight gain despite their best efforts. You just don’t know, Eleanor, I said to myself.”
Watching Eleanor learn to question the voice in her head and seeing the growth and healing that ensued made me consider more seriously the insidious ways that I make unfair or unfounded assumptions about those around me. In self-reflection I realized that I not only make these types of judgments about strangers or acquaintances who I really don’t know anything about, but I also make mistakes when I assume intent of even those close to me. I recently considered for example, that someone whose first response to everything seems to be “I know!” is not necessarily arrogant, but that it’s more so a filler word for him – much as I might use um, like or you know. I also realized that someone who I originally perceived as gloating over the fact that I had experienced a setback could actually be just trying to empathize in a way that looks different from the way I personally would. And even if she actually was secretly happy or relieved that I had failed, it certainly makes me happier and our relationship better to assume the best.
As C.S. Lewis, the literary genius, wrote “what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.” So although I have a VERY long way to go, I am trying to be mindful about times when I am being judgmental and to be intentional about shifting and broadening my perspective. Just like anything else, it will take time and effort to break this bad habit, but I am confident it’ll be worth the work.
And I have seen that this has been true with making positive changes in any area of my life. It starts with awareness and then some concerted effort. And then thankfully with some practice, things do get easier! This has certainly been the case when it comes to my nutrition and what I put on my plate. I’ve gotten quicker at planning and preparing my meals, navigating groceries and ingredients and have had more time to perfect recipes. Like this one! One of my favorite meals of all time is Chicken Piccata (in fact it was one of the first meals I ever made for my husband Jon – although it looked just a little different back then!). This one is completely grain- and dairy-free but still packed with deliciousness and is pretty darn easy to prepare. I present to you, my Whole30 Chicken Piccata!
Whole30 Chicken Piccata
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
- Tapioca Flour .5 cup (65 g)
- Chicken Cutlets (boneless and cut thinly) 8 each
- Avocado Oil 4 TBSP
- Shallot, minced 1 each
- Garlic Cloves, minced 3 each
- Lemon 2 each
- Bone Broth 1 cup (240 ml)
- Capers 4 TBSP
- Ghee/Clarified Butter 3 TBSP
- Zucchini/Courgette, spiralized 3-4 each
- Fresh Parsley, minced as garnish
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200 F / 93 C.
- Add the flour to a shallow dish and then pat the cutlets dry with paper towel. Season both sides with salt and pepper and then dredge in the flour to coat and shake off the excess.
- Heat 2 TBSP of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and then add half of the cutlets to the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes per side, until light golden brown, then transfer to oven safe dish and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and cutlets.
- Add the shallot and garlic to the skillet and cook until softened for about 2 minutes.
- Cut your lemons in half, squeeze the juice from 1.5 of lemons and set aside. Cut the remaining half into thin .25″ slices.
- Add the lemon slices and the bone broth to the skillet and stir, scrapping up browned bits. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes or until slightly reduced and syrupy.
- Then stir in the lemon juice and capers. Turn the heat to low and then whisk in the ghee/clarified butter.
- Build your plates – start with the spiralized zucchini/courgette and then top with the chicken. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and finish with parsley, salt and pepper and enjoy!