The Ups and Downs of Life + Personal News
Coming back from India, I was floating on a cloud of utter joy, blissfully unaware of the personal challenges and surprises that were about to hit me in the coming month.
While I had fantasized over the telling of what has happened over the past month, it quickly became obvious that the toughest part of my job is the potential of disclosing too much about my personal life, thus invading the privacy of those closes to me. Despite the juiciness of the story, I’ve decided to leave most of the details private.
I contemplated on why I wanted to write about it, and it became clear to me that the essence of the story is that we are forever riding the ups and downs of life, and that sometimes when the downs get really down, we lose touch with reality. In those moments, all we need is hope and a gentle nudge to remind us that it is only temporary, and that the highs are not far away.
My Personal Low
For the first few weeks after coming home from India, Jeremy and I were having some relationship problems caused by miscommunication and misunderstanding, amplified by the length of time that I was away.
Suddenly, my future became uncertain, and everything I had conjured up in my head of rainbows and sunshine had come crashing down. I felt like I was falling into a hole of darkness that I couldn’t crawl out of. I was confronted with loneliness, resentment and my own victim identity. It was a painful period for both of us.
We separated for two weeks and the uncertainty was killing me. I was bouncing up and down emotionally between feeling unconditional love, and seeing the dangerous shadows of depression peeking out from around the corner.
During this time, I observed as my mind wandered: images of self-pity, focusing on past negative events, clinging on to fantasies of an unhappy future, and seeking out more pain. It was cycle of self-destruction, unless I consciously intercepted it with the light of awareness. It was both disturbing and fascinating to witness.
Bringing In the Light
In guiding me with a torch of bright shining light, my parents spent hours on the phone with me. One thing that made a lasting impression on me was what my dad kept repeating, “Ta-tha-ta” – something Buddha used to say, meaning “It is what it is.”, “If it isn’t this, it’ll be something else.”
He was right. I was reminded of the drama I went through a year ago, and it was clear that if not this problem, then there would have been some other problem in its place.
That’s what part of living is about – we are forever and consistently being presented with situations that challenge us, make us grow, teach us divine lessons about life, and make us into more conscious beings. Without challenges, life would be pretty dull, and we would never grow to become better people.
I was also reminded that there isn’t a challenge that we cannot surmount; otherwise it would not have presented itself to us. Even though challenges may appear impossible to conquer at times, trust that it is possible and that it wouldn’t be called a challenge if wasn’t challenging to us.
My friend Elizabeth Carman reminded me in an email that “everything is auspicious”, and indeed, it’s hard to realize this when we are going through the ups and downs, but after some time, in retrospect, “we can see how even the downs were times of positivity and spiritual transformation.”
And so, everyday, whenever I found my mind wondering, I would remind myself of two phrases, “Ta-tha-ta, it is what it is.”, and “Everything is auspicious. This too is auspicious, because it happened.”
Everyday, I focused on the good, I wrote in my journal often of what I learned, I focused on the blessings, I focused on the heart space of unconditional love, I focused on the now instead of an unknown future or past memories that no longer exist. I focused on forgiveness, understanding and healing. Eventually, I surrendered to that which I cannot control.
Here’s a blurb from my journal:
“… As for the future, I surrender to the higher intelligence of Life and trust with absolute clarity that only the best things are provided for me, that I am always cared for regardless of how things may appear now. I accept the now, by accepting the outer world for what it is, and taking responsibilities of my inner world.” (September 12, 2009)
When I finally surrendered, I stopped torturing myself.
A few days later, we peacefully got back together, and focused on nurturing the love and connection we had. It was beautiful.
My Personal High
As if reconnecting with the mate-to-my-soul wasn’t auspicious enough, shortly after we got back together as a closer union, we got the news that I was pregnant, very pregnant, specifically 5 months pregnant with a baby boy!
Within a span of 12 hours, we went from a space void of any thoughts of babies, to finding out that I was 5 months pregnant, to hearing his little heart beat in the morning, to seeing his heart beating in the afternoon at the ultrasound.
At the ultrasound, we witnessed with great amazement the miracle of another life blissfully resting inside me, quietly reminding us that life is beautiful, and while the down times may be inevitable, the ups are just around the corner.
The ultrasound technician patiently explained each body part to us as she gently maneuvered down the baby’s tiny body. I watched the monitor with mouth open, and eyes sparkling at the sight of any movement. Like seeing his complete set of fingers and toes, or seeing the little oval space that is his stomach. Jeremy held my left hand tightly and couldn’t stop shaking, I looked over at him, and his face was covered in tears.
How in the world did we not know for so long is still the subject of jokes to close friends. Turns out, I was pregnant prior to India, and there was a baby growing in me through out my 3-months of spiritual transformation at the ashram. I did not have any pregnancy sickness, and even had what I thought was a menstrual period while in India (I later learned that this happens to 22% of pregnant women – called spotting).
September 23, 2009 – Week 20 ultrasound
I thought I had put on a little weight because the food at the ashram was so good. While everyone else lost weight, I had gained a few pounds… ah! It all makes sense now! It wasn’t until after I’ve returned to my pre-India diet for a few weeks, that we noticed that only my stomach and boobs had gotten larger while the rest of me remained the same size. That was when we started suspecting.
On the bright side of things, at least we bypassed 5 months of pregnancy-related stress, and only have 4 months to go. We’re so under prepared that we don’t have time to stress, it’s just excitement and doing the necessary to best prepare. We’ve gotten over the initial shock of it all, Jeremy is no longer adamant about getting a large SUV to keep us safe, and after two weeks of reckless house shopping we decided to put house buying on hold until after the baby is born.
Ryan Ananda Sawatzky is expected to be born Feb 12, 2010; exactly one year to the date of our wedding in Kauai. Ananda means blissful in Sanskrit, and that describes him perfectly – a blissful baby.
(Side note: If you have any baby stuff that your child has outgrown, we’d love it if you would send it our way. Any used baby clothing, equipment or other necessities will be much appreciated by Ryan, Jeremy and I.)
What Did I Learn?
Photo by Edwin Stemp
An article isn’t complete without the lessons learned. The following is a selected set of lessons I’ve learned through my experience in the past six weeks:
- Fluidity of Life – Life is always fluid. The unexpected and even unimaginable can and does happen at anytime. And all things, scenarios, events can shift their course at any time: from bad to good, from good to bad. There is no good or bad, there just is. Surrendering to whatever that happens, without placing unnecessary importance or investing excessive emotions holds the key to lasting happiness. At any moment, we have the choice to choose bliss, to see the light. Surrender to rigid thinking and choose to live a conflict free life.
- Our Need to Blame – Blaming leads to nowhere, except temporary fulfillment for the ego. Yet, the ego does not stay fulfilled and will seek out more and more pain. Any kind of blaming thoughts, words, or accusations are ego-filling, unproductive and lead to our own suffering, even if they are “reasonably” justified.
- Unconscious Actions – When we are in an unconscious state of mind (high TPS – thoughts per second), the survival instinct in our brain tells us to take unconscious actions with great urgency and conviction. These actions when taken, always lead to more unconsciousness and are rarely helpful.
- The Mind’s Reality – Our mind always makes unknown situations worse than they actually are. Its goal is to dwell on pain and problems. Often when we find out the truth, we feel instantly relieved that the “reality” of events wasn’t as bad as what we had imagined.
- Building Intensity – All my frustration and inner suffering really has a purpose and benefit: they build the intensity in me that further encourages me to break free from the inner conflicts, and to rise out a more conscious being established in Joy.
- The Pain Body – When a person is established and reacts out of their pain body, they are no longer themselves, and we should not measure or judge their character based on when they are in this state. Recognize when they are in their pain body and detach from any painful feelings it may trigger in you. The pain body feeds on pain – its own pain and on other people’s pain. Whenever hurtful words are uttered and actions are taken, identify where they are coming from; likely, they will be coming from the pain body.
- Seek to Understand, Drop Self Pity – When others behave in ways that you are not happy with, drop the self-pity story, bring in compassion, and try to understand why they are behaving in certain ways toward you. There is always a reason. Often times, we’re so wrapped up in defending ourselves and making our own side be understood that we fail to truly see things from other people’s perspective, and we miss the chance to heal others and ourselves.
- Everything is Auspicious – No matter how bad things seem there is always a reason that contributes positively towards us. There always exists an incredible gift in any “bad” situation, trust that you are always being taken care of by the protective arms of Existence.
When things get low, do all that you can to come back to your center, and remember that you are a luminous and empowered being. You have the power and choice to bring the light into any situation that may appear dark.
No matter how unfair a situation may present itself, remaining in self-pity, blame and resentment will only hurt ourselves, and draws us deeper into that darkness. In fact, we only have two choices – to remain in darkness or to bring in the light. You have the choice to prolong the suffering, or to end it and move on.
Regardless of what is happening, the ups and downs of life will continue to prevail. And resisting to the down times will only delay the coming of the up times. Next time you hit a down time, remember that it is only temporary, focus on what can be learned, trust that it is the best thing that could happen to you right now, and know with certainty that the up time is just around the corner.
* Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below. See you there!
Editor’s Note: For those curious, the following is what I look like now (Jeremy’s been diligently documenting my weekly progress every sunday). Future progress photos will likely be posted on Simply Tina – Subscribe here for updates. Again, if you have any used baby things you no longer need, it’ll help us if you can donate, sell or lend to us. Mailing address is: Attn: Sawatzky, 2646 Rainier Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98144.
Photo by Jeremy Sawatzky