Month: December 2011

Greatest Lesson

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”  Viktor E. Frankl

MERRY CHRISTMAS.  What an amazing time to celebrate and embrace family.  Also an amazing time to trend back and see how to evolve from the lessons we learned from the year before.  I have been writing a lot over the past few weeks, however, I have not posted them because I have really wanted to reflect on my greatest challenge in this journey which has been cultural boundaries.

Reading back to other posts, I have talked before about this journey being a gift and a great teacher for which I have learned so much.  I do not think that I could have evolved more then I have going through this experience as it is continuous.  I am learning to identify the ego voice in my mind that is always a warrior of fear.  In addition, I have learned that anger and sadness are great healers and should be expressed.  One night, I was having a particularly difficult time with my thoughts and fear. My mom sat with me and hugged me sharing what she knows to be the truth from God.  One idea that was really amazing to hear was that this journey is not only a gift for me, but for those that are going through it with me.  As a mother I believe she wishes she could take this for me, but this is the spiritual bootcamp that will set me on a path for living and healing.  However, the greatest lesson has been a struggle from the start.

As a society we have created great fear around the word “Cancer.”  I too felt it to be so fearful that I used a supportive tool, renaming it loveolution.  (This now has been what I refer to as my journey)  I would cringe when someone would forget my request and call it cancer.  First, I think that I still was in disbelief of how I could have this and second it was scary.   But moving past the whys and hows early and embracing the journey was very important.  Society creates a personality of cancer and/or any illness, wrapping it with fear, resistance, and a number of other things for political and financial gains.  However, I knew that I would need to ask myself why this word bothered me so much and as I made my list much of it came from an external idea.   I will say that I am amazed at how each individual embraces this journey and how they will overcome this challenge; As each path is meant to be a teacher.  However, there is no question that the subculture creates a lot of hurdles to jump over before you can start your journey.  I want to make clear that there is no blame in this, we as a society fear the unknown and sickness.  However, maybe this is the time for a shift.

As I have realized the cultural boundaries that are attached to illness, I have been so grateful because now I see this truth.  It is a choice to see through the eyes of society in fear or know that your spirit can never be broken.  As a yoga teach, it is no secret that yoga is most commonly known for its physical practice which is amazing.  However, it is the practice of living yoga that is the most challenging.  I am going to share a letter that I sent in to a yoga magazine in hopes to shed light on this cultural boundary and focus on the “shift”.

I want to thank all the yogis that inspire me to live yoga and all those that I have learned from that spirit is ALWAYS DIVINE!  This journey continues to be an amazing one of all kinds of emotions.  Each day presenting its own mini challenge.  This has been the hardest experience of my life, but I am grateful to recognize these truths and move forward stronger, most importantly loving harder!!

Cultural Boundaries

Teaching and practicing yoga has been a part of my life that flows beyond words.  The opportunity to live yoga as a student and share the teachings and principles is simply a beautiful way to embrace life.  Each time I step on the mat, I take a moment to breathe the sweetness of a tradition that leads to freedom and peace.  As a teacher, I guide each class with a direction of love and kindness, teaching with an underlying theme that each student can take off the mat, into their life.  However, it is this combination that can sometimes be the greatest challenge.

For me, the practice of living yoga was put to the ultimate test on Oct 6, when I was told that I had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  The thoughts that flooded through my mind, as my two year old lay asleep, and the tears, each carrying a message of fear, sadness, and anger, flowed down my cheeks.  In one week I was on a plane, heading to Dana Farber in Boston; life turned on a dime.

What I experienced in the weeks that followed was more extreme then I expected.  Society emphasizes and creates such fear in the face of illness, selling it on every stage possible and placing with it a sense of guilt and shame.  As I shaved my head it was so hard, not for the loss of my hair, but for the profile that I now fit as a “cancer patient.”

During this time it all melted into one, each yoga class, each book, every lesson came together to form a great toolbox.  In combination, it allowed for me to recognize that I am not going to make an enemy of this illness as our society would suggest, nor am I going to judge those around me who get caught in this web of fear.  I choose to breakthrough this cultural boundary, embracing this journey as a gift and amazing teacher.

This is a challenge.  It is not that different from others who experience financial distress, homelessness, or depression.  It is an opportunity to see the truth and make peach with layers of emotion that may be prisoner deep in the seat of your soul.  It is the realization that there is a choice in how you react and display courage, presenting the chance to change your life in any direction.  Most importantly it is an opportunity to forgive, so that you may truly start to live in this moment.

Yoga has given me insight, strength, and great wisdom to see that it is time for a shift.  It is time that we collectively and consciously work together to step out of the shadow of fear and cultural handcuffs to create a higher awareness of love.

Holly Peckskamp

The gift of living.

Christmas is such a beautiful time of year and for many a time of celebration/ time that we look into our lives on a much deeper level.  Maybe we make a resolution at Thanksgiving or maybe New Years night, but without question this is a time that is noted for its soul searching and time for changes.  For some it takes one moment in time to recognize that it is time to let go of that which is not serving you and make amazing, positive changes in your life.  What I have noticed this far on my journey since Oct 6, is that as I focus on my healing and my truths the world around me seems to be changing too.  It is so exciting to see the brighter lights and gifts, embracing the shift that has held me captive without my knowledge for a long time.

One theme that keeps showing itself this week is the idea of “living”, truly living.  Putting your feet on the floor in the morning and taking a moment to be grateful for that early morning stretch.  The excitement of what the day may bring and what your contribution will be to this beautiful world.  There are so many songs that support this theme, a few of my favorites- beautiful day by U2, Live Like You are Dying by Tim McGraw, Good Life by One Repbulic…the list goes on as it is a superb thought.  However, I really asked myself if I am living life or if life is living me.  I think that it is extremely easy in adult life to get caught in the grind or some even call it a rut.  Where each day we awake to what we need to do today, already deciding how it may play out, and just going through the day checking off our list.  I want to make clear that as I thought about living it isn’t just about the idea of having fun or laughing, it is the idea of living your truth and embracing gratitude for the day.  It is about connecting to your soul and living how YOU really want to live instead of playing it safe.   Waking up in the morning and consciously watching your first thoughts will be an indication- if you wake up with the here we go…maybe you need to make some changes.  I decided I need to make a few which goes back to this “Dis – ease” being a gift.  It has been the road block to show me so many things to improve my heart song…I am so grateful.

What does living truly mean?  I am really at a loss for words here. Do you enjoy your days with excitement and gratitude or do you get stuck in the mud, in the to do list and just push through your day so you can get to the time where you can relax?  How much time do you spend within the present moment during each day? Do you feel that internal fire bc your work feels like play?

These are some of the questions I asked myself and you could “yeah, but” a lot of them in many directions.  I realize that sometimes we may be in a job that is just a job, or have special circumstances in life, or a challenge, but it is the reaction.  How do you go to that job?  How do you embrace and learn from the challenge? If it is just a job, are you making steps to find the job you really want or making steps to initiate a hobby?  You can make this job an opportunity to motivate others, or have more fun, move outside of your comfort zone.  Many of us talk about “life purpose” as if it is something we must find and we prepare our whole life for… as we surrender to God doors open for us.   As we surrender to how “we are suppose to live” we begin to see the opportunities to connect to our spirit.  An opportunity to listen and respond to our truth peeling back one layer at a time.  A time to live more, play more, engaging the excitement of each breath.

I watch Sawyer wake up in the morning and I literally see a light in his eye – “what will today bring?  What will I explore and learn?” – is what I believe he is thinking..LOL.   We climb out of bed after he peels open my eyes and we sing the “wake up song” which seems to be different every morning.  I watch how exciting each moment is for him all day long, I could just sit and watch him in amazement of his Moxie!  Children have many lessons to teach us and living is one of them…not that they too won’t have challenges, but those are their sacred learning lessons.

We have had to be very creative since we have moved here to make things fun for Sawyer and one night Sawyer was squatting in one of my favorite yoga positions, his little pants hung off his bum.  My dad couldn’t resist and yelled Sawyer “Butt Crack”.  It became a hilarious moment and every time Sawyer sees a butt crack including his cousins barbie doll, he doesn’t miss an opportunity to yell “Butt Crack”.  However, yesterday at the grocery store there was a woman who allowed her pant to sink a little low and Sawyer yelled, with a pointing finger, “BUTT CRACK”.  My dad wanted to melt into the back ground and of course he told the surrounding listeners that his mother taught him that.

My point in sharing this funny story is that children do not hold back, they share the brutal truth and live each moment.  Now of course we shared with Sawyer that it isn’t nice to do that, but I thought later on that night, if someone wants to wear their pants that low then maybe honesty is a good policy.

May we all put our feet on the ground and begin to live our truest life.  Embracing each day as an adventure, letting go of behaving and just LIVE!

Many blessings,

Holly

Strength within Forgiveness

I have been supported and loved by so many.  It has been one of the biggest blessings for which I am so grateful.  The constant emails of love, text messages, cards, gifts of all kinds to show and remind me of the greatest gift.. LOVE…I have been so humbled.  I have learned so much.  It is amazing when you can say you have learned and moved forward more in 2 months then in 35 years.  It has been a blessing, but with no disguise it has been filled with many challenging days, many tears that seem to each have a message, and much struggle as my whole life has been turned upside down.

A few days ago I received an IPOD shuffle from 3 amazing yogis that I shared many classes with as a teacher and a student.  As a teacher, I am all over the place with music and playlists for class, but the one thing that is a constant is me sneaking in a little country.  I love country music and I am not even sure why.  Without a doubt I love the uniqueness of Florence and the Machine, the soul of Michael Franti, Bon Iver, Mumford and Sons, but Country just sings to my soul.  The three of us would always joke about a country music yoga class and that it may only be the 3 of us that attend.  So when I got the shuffle that was filled with all kinds of country music, I fell to tears…the honor that they took the time to fill it and the fact they picked sooo many songs that I love was so amazing.  I looked down at the blessing bracelet I received from another yoga teacher and just felt the love.  LOVE IS SO WILD.  LOVE IS ALL.

I spent many hours listening to the shuffle the next day and noticed there was 1 song that I just kept skipping over every time.  It was like I didn’t want to hear the words and to be honest I have never liked this song.  The song: A Little Bit Stronger by Sara Evans.
“Woke up late today and still feel the sting of the pain, but I brushed my teeth anyways and got dressed through the mess and put a smile of on my face.  I got a little bit stronger….even on my weakest days I get a little bit stronger.”

Music has the ability to take us deeper into our soul through the rhythmic vibration and the intensity of how the words resinate.  For the author he/she is talking about the heartbreak of an ending relationship, for me it reminds me of a period where I willingly gave much of my power to the relationships in my life…changing my truths and my beliefs to fit into the relationship, instead of exploring who I really was/am so that a relationship could just melt into me.  I bought into the societal ideal that we need another half to be complete, creating such memories of weakness and reaction.  Thankfully, I did evolve and grew to adventure with my soul and along that path of meeting me, I met Tad….another whole.  We are different and the same, but 2 wholes that love and support each other on a very different path in life.  However, looking back I never quite forgave myself for some of the destruction that came from ignoring my truths in many of the relationships in my life (family, friends etc).  Music in its most powerful form was trying to point and lead the way, but I just wanted to turn my head.  Sometimes it seems like the better choice to just look the other way, unfortunately, the “travel bag” goes with you everywhere you go until you unpack it.

The next day I sat writing letting the words spill all over the paper faster then I could get them down.  I could feel the emotions whirling like a level 5 tornado, sweeping from my toes all the way to my heart.  The flooding of emotions came forward, as I knew it was time to forgive myself for not knowing, not being strong enough, not believing, and embrace the discovery of what those lessons have taught me today.  I took time, as I thought of each relationship  that I wanted to push down so deep that it didn’t have light and looked at all the blessings that particular relationship brought to my life.  I forgave myself for my part, the immature words of hurt, any hurtful actions, and I set myself free.   I took the beautiful lessons of growth, but freed myself with forgiveness so I could replace it with love.  Forgiveness doesn’t need a partner.

After filling many pages,  I felt like I floated to present day where I know that we can grow and get stronger from our weakest days.  It would be beautiful to believe that everyday is filled with strength and power which adore many lessons too, but the reality is that when we are weak, we are raw.  We see in ourselves the truth and have the opportunity to forgive and love both of which sets us free to be stronger.  Making space for more love is what I am all about these days.  There is no doubt my ego keeps trying to take my eye off the prize, but each day I embrace the lesson.  I surrender to God so that divinely I will be free.  I am in what some may call a spiritual bootcamp and there is no doubt some days are filled with weakness.  Within those days I see through it and find strength.

May we all embrace our weakness instead of turning our head.  May we see the lesson that hides in a tear so we take one step closer to strength and love.

Peace and Blessings,

Holly