shifting focus

Ben begins classes today.  And even before the last bag is packed for moving him to his school yesterday,  I feel the impact of this transition for all of us.  It’s hard not to respond to the seizing of my heart.  I feel the interplay of complementary forces as I consider that Ben will no longer be here as my ‘focus’ while at the same time holding a clear and wondrous view of the new space within which Ben will be able to continue to test his wings under the gaze and care of others.  I know the tears are completely natural and have been shed by countless mothers before me, smile.  And so I now consider where the heart of this transition lies while looking out the window to a shifting focus that is happening before my very eyes, as leaves come swirling and tumbling down through the bright fall day…

It’s that blue and orange time of year again, the colors of trees so acutely and almost blindingly accented against the blue sky…

It is the time of golden squash and pumpkin pie.  No coincidence of course that pumpkin pie is one of Ben’s favorites and butternut squash is one of mine.  We’ve been sampling both over this last week of before Ben leaves for his next adventure.  How perfect to be able to throw a goodbye celebration for him featuring lovingly made pumpkin pie (by me) and pumpkin cake (by housemate Elsa).  And to sample the first butternut of the season by slicing it into discs and roasting them in the oven (lightly coated with olive oil in 450 degree oven), served with a light garlic miso sauce (3 tablespoons light miso dissolved in 1/4 cup white wine (or water) mixed with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon each of minced garlic and fresh ginger, 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice, a dash of cayenne and maple syrup)….

Even the carefully removed peels from edges of slabs cut from a freshly picked squash lying quietly in the blue bowl to be transported to the compost pile…

capture my focus.

The leftovers of the squash and miso sauce become the glue and the sparkle to the last stir fry I will make for Ben before he leaves.  The pan gets filled with mushrooms, leeks, fresh ginger, and garlic sautéed until the mushrooms get soft, then add a couple of diced red potatoes, chunks of fresh cauliflower from the farmer’s market, the leftover cup of brown rice, a splash of tamari and a little water, cover and cook a few minutes until everything is just hot and soft, add the miso sauce and squash, turn of the fire and let it all sit until the squash is warm too and the miso sauce still alive.  The flavor of this effort is distinct and mature and delicious, like a fine wine that has the benefit of being around just a little longer….

And now I’m making today’s lunch.  Brown rice cooking in the rice cooker.  Chopping the remnants of leeks and garlic and ginger I’ve got stored in a small wax paper bag in the bin.  Add them to a pan of sliced mushrooms sauteing in some oil, then add the last of the cauliflower, one of the last of the gorgeous sweet yellow carrots, a few coarsely chopped little orange peppers, and some frozen peas with a little water, and let it all boil until the water is almost gone, a few minutes.  Then add some (Thai kitchen) red curry paste, a can of organic coconut milk, and finally, squeeze a half lime into the mix.  Get it all simmering, then turn off the fire and let the magic happen.  I am acutely aware of how much I am enjoying making this meal and I realize that I don’t have to be making it for me and Ben, or me and family, or me and friends, to be completely focused in my flow.  In fact, how perfect that I can recognize and enjoy and even celebrate how much I am going to love eating this meal without worrying whether someone else will too.

And there it is.  Shifting focus from caring for Ben to caring for me.  Such a subtle and simple thing to acknowledge in this time of transition as Ben learns to care for himself too…

6 thoughts on “shifting focus

    • Hi Deb,
      Ben is a new student at Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley MA. It is a school that is dedicated to “developing life skills and social skills of young adults with disabilities through a collegiate learning experience enriched with musical arts.” The adventure is that he will be living there as a full time student in the dorm for two years! He gets to take drum, voice, and dance lessons and participate in a chorus too!


  1. Kathy, Big hugs! I am so happy for Ben and for the whole family. And, I am very grateful for the advocacy work you have done! with love, Anne


  2. Hi Kathy, I rarely reply but always enjoy reading your posts. I have been following your struggles with Ben’s path and love how you weave so many comfort foods into the adventure. This latest post really hit home with me though. It brought tears to eyes. My home is getting emptier and emptier as the years pass. I miss my baby girl Gina so much some days I just sit in her room and relive the memories. She and dominck are in Boston. My last boy, Sam is 15 and I know how soon he will be off and one more time I will have to say goodbye to another child, but happy at the same time for them.
    Thank you for your wonderful writing. And recipes!


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