We All Have Fifty Shades of Gray

So the theme lately is, who’s reading this risque erotic novel and why? What is our fascination with self-flagellation, with punishment and desire?

I’m going to suggest it’s not that at all.

In fact, most of us in some way opt for a form of self-flagellation every day – maybe not in the form of whips and chains or shackles and blindfolds, but we tie ourselves up, subject ourselves to beatings (usually the emotional kind) and endure harshness every single day.

We don’t have to, though. We can step out of the fray and find the peaceful edge.

I’ve been hearing for years that pain and negativity are choices, but I didn’t quite get that until recently. After years of doing yoga, reading spiritual texts, abandoning structured rigid religion for self-exploration and inspiration, I started meditating recently.

Believe me, if you know me at all, you know I brought a healthy dose of skepticism to this endeavor. What me, sit and shut out the world twice a day for 20 minutes at a time?

I envisioned fidgeting and chafing, checking the clock and wanting to escape, abandoning the practice before I’d even started.

So I was incredibly surprised when it just took. Immediately. I eagerly looked at my schedule each day to find a time to meditate and if I peeked out from under my eyelids to check the time and had, what, four minutes left, I closed them back up and sank into the sweet sensation of the depths.

This little island of time twice-daily has infused my moments with…peace. Clarity. Perspective. When my ex sent me a hateful text this morning that made no sense, I didn’t mull over it for hours. I shook my head, sighed deeply, and went about my day.

I don’t worry about work; I simply do it. I don’t worry at all. And when I lose it – yell at the kids, get frustrated, feel tired, whatever – I just let myself be who I am in that moment. Because another moment will come. And another will go. And that’s how life is.

Last night, late, when they couldn’t fall asleep, Asher and Eliana sidled up to my bed and somehow we began a conversation about the power of now. The idea that the present moment is all we have so immersing in it and focusing on only what IS right now is really the best course of action.

They shifted a little, struggling with the idea that there is no future.

“Asher, you spent the last day in Sedona crying and lamenting that we were leaving Sedona. Except we were in Sedona. We were there and you weren’t focused on the here and now, the red rocks, the beautiful landscape, our time together. You were anguished by what was to come. Only when it came, you were fine. So you lost a day in beautiful Sedona, in our blissful adventure, by not being there anymore.”

He thought about that for a minute.

“I guess you’re right, Mommy.”

Every time he saddens about leaving one parent to go to the other, I remind him that he has us both, always. We are accessible by text, phone, email and frankly, we’re lucky enough to live 2 miles from each other so that, in a pinch, the other parent can come for a hug. Sure it’s too bad we don’t live in the same house, but even that might not be ideal. We can always fall prey to wanting something different.

The real trick is accepting the moment, living it, loving it.

Once you can do that, everything else is cake.

Oh -and speaking of cake – I want to share my immense gratitude for a moment. Today is my lovely Shaya’s 6th birthday and I asked a friend what special snack I could bring for her highly-allergic son. Turns out, Sugar Kisses bakery in Berkley makes a vegan, nut-free cupcake that he can eat.

And then it dawned on me that I could just buy a box of those so that all the kids can eat the same snack. It seemed like a little thing to do, but it turns out this boy was so excited to finally, for the first time, share in a class treat with all the other kids.

Tears sprang to my eyes when I learned this. And when we picked up the box of 26 cupcakes yesterday, I felt the hugest sense of gratitude that I can afford to buy these cupcakes to make this little boy feel more a part of things.

What a gift. Thank you, to the universe.

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