The Gift of the Present

The quote says, “Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the Present.”

My journey of discovery through yoga in the last year has given me a huge gift. Respect for the present.  

I know I’ve been pretty open about my journey over these last few months of blogging, but let me recap.  About one year ago, things shifted for me.  I had been happily working hard in my business for 6 solid years, forging ahead, very focused on my goals.  Within that 6 year period, I also moved my family twice from Georgia to Pennsylvania and back to Georgia.  I really never rested.  Never gave myself a break. Never allowed myself to let things go for a bit.  You know, goals can be a tricky thing. So can desire for success.

I heard the call to be still.  I listened.  Then a door opened.  Remember that passion you had, Jackie? Remember how much you loved yoga?  How alive you felt when you practiced?  

Yes.

Then go and do that.

I had no idea one year ago when I began practicing at Ember Yoga, how my life would transform.  God did.  And I’m so grateful that is the place he used to redirect me.

I spent years focused on my goals.  There is perfection in that, I promise you.  Beauty.  It’s amazing to work towards something and achieve it.  But then this happens.  You’re working towards something that just isn’t happening in YOUR time.  You’re going forward, God is saying NO, not right now.  And you know, God has a way of bringing you down to your knees and stopping you in your tracks in order to redirect your path or maybe even your mind, to get you back to the truth.  That it’s all in His time for His purpose. 

Here’s where I got lost.  I was so focused on the future that I forgot about the present. Simple as that.  

For those that don’t practice yoga, I don’t expect you to understand what it’s all about. I’ve heard so many misconceptions and judgements over this past year.  But it’s ok, that’s what people do when they don’t know or want to understand.  They judge, right?  

For the past 8 months, I have been on my mat on the average of 6 days per week, usually 8 different classes.  I’ve done some tough personal growth over the last 6 years, but me and my mat, it’s been the biggest growth I’ve experienced in my life so far.

When you stand on your mat and you work through the asanas of whatever type of yoga you are practicing, you have one focus.  The present.  There’s no time to get lost in the thoughts of what may happen tomorrow or in two months or six months or a year.  This doesn’t happen right away, it takes time to train your mind to focus on the moment and your breath. When I’m in a balancing posture or an inversion, it’s pretty difficult to think about what I’m making for dinner or what phone call I need to make when I walk out the door.

The present moment was the gift I was missing all along.  The thing that would bring peace. 

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If you are caught up in the race for the future, I’m not saying to stop.  I know it can be fun and exciting and exhilarating.  But I hope you can learn from my story and take time to live and love the moment each day.  I found that on my mat.  You may find it on a hike or a bike ride or on a ski slope.  Your present is your present.  I just hope you don’t miss it.

When Your World Turns Upside Down

The rain turned over to snow this past weekend and families all over the South enjoyed playing outside. It may have just been a dusting or so, but enough! The Northern part of me has just decided that enough is enough.  Winter is the main reason we left the cold tundra of the ‘Burgh’ all of those years ago and I could totally do without it. Forever. It’s pretty to watch and that’s just about it for me.

But I digress…. The kids enjoyed themselves tremendously! My daughter even made ‘snow cream’ with her friend. And ate a leaf… Making memories, y’all!

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I have no idea how the girls managed a snowman this big, but I’m extremely impressed! Her name is Pricilla, by the way.

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I decided to get a little warmer on Saturday, so I went over to Ember for an inversion workshop with Carson Clay Calhoun.  Blown away.  If you have this picture in your mind that people that do yoga are just breathing, meditating, chanting ‘OM’ and trying to touch their toes, may you expand your mind.  I have known many strong people in my life, but lately I have been in the company of some of the strongest.  You know what’s really amazing?  What I’ve found is that these yogis have the perfect mixture of physical strength, mental strength and peace.  Mental strength – I’ve done my work on that over the years.  I’d say I’ve become mentally strong, having learned from a wonderful expert of a teacher and coach.  But to finally be able to combine this with peace has been freeing. Yogis have peace because they know who they are.  I’m getting there too.  And physical strength?  Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  

Truly Present

“When we focus our energy and connect with our truest selves on the mat, we gain the ability to be truly present.”
I read this quote recently and typed it down quickly without even noting who said it. I just knew that I felt its truth. I come back to it because today marked a huge accomplishment for me, as I completed my final day of a 30 day yoga challenge.
I was the child that could wrap my legs around the back of my head and contort myself into all sorts of crazy positions, before I even knew what the word yoga was. So it seems natural that yoga would be my thing, seeing as though I’ve stayed stretchy all of these years. And maybe that was why I loved it the first time I tried it about 13 years ago. I remember that studio, the owner, Robert (and I’m serious, the man looked exactly as I would picture Jesus), and the impact it had on me. I knew I found a new part of myself when I got on that mat in that place. Hard to describe, but I knew.

The problem was, life got in the way. I didn’t take it seriously enough to integrate a yoga practice into my daily life. Health wasn’t a priority. Work was exhausting and downright miserable at that time. There was just no time, or really no desire to carve out that sort of ‘me’ time. After the kids came, definitely not… I never found my way back to my mat after those first few months at that studio. Robert (aka Jesus), became a distant memory. Yoga was something I put on my dream board. Someday… I even found a picture of that studio and of Robert (oh Google…). Jesus on my dream board. For real.

Fast forward many years later and a new yoga studio opened in my small town outside of Atlanta. It was a ‘HOT’ studio. What? I was intrigued so I tried it. I remember being so confident going in because I was SO good at yoga (um, 10 years prior?). I nearly died that day. The heat and the humidity – no, I was not prepared, not experienced and not patient enough to stick with it again. My work at this time in my life was a home business and although one would think I could carve the time out of my schedule. I didn’t.

Fast forward again a couple of years – Mother’s Day 2015. My husband asked me what I wanted and I contemplated many things, because you know, I really needed more things…. My heart kept going back to that studio. Yes it was hot. But I knew I needed it. I knew I needed change. Peace. Balance. Me. So in May, I made a decision, took in that gift certificate and haven’t looked back.


I fell in love with yoga all over again over these past 6 months. I actually fell in love with the heat. Yes, it’s crazy. I can’t explain it. I fell in love with the Bikram practice of yoga, which is a sequence class of 26 postures. I dug into learning about the healing benefits of this type of practice. In October, I saw signs about the studio’s ’30 Day Challenge’. Should I? Could I? Taking it to another level – I knew it would. And I totally knew I could. So I did.

One to two hours every day for the past 30 days have transformed me in many ways. Bikram yoga is a moving meditative practice. Along with that, in 90 minutes, Bikram yoga works every single muscle, tendon, joint, ligament & bone in the human body. There are over 600 muscles in the body and Bikram works every single one. That is absolute craziness to me! Along with all of that physical work, there is so much mental work being done. Being present. Being still. Finding peace in the discomfort. Breathing. Learning that you are so much more capable than you think you are.


Yes, there were days I was so tired that I napped (which is unheard of for me). There was one evening class that I had such a stomach ache that I laid flat most of the hour until I finally couldn’t take another second and left the room (by the way, the ONE goal is to stay in the room!). And we won’t talk about the day they got new humidifiers and the instructor shoved towels under every door crack. No… we won’t talk about the heat and sweat that day. But we can talk about the 28 other days that left me feeling limitless.

“When we focus our energy and connect with our truest selves on the mat, we gain the ability to be truly present.” 

Being truly present is a gift. I would have never guessed that this gift would come as a result of standing on a yoga mat, staring into a mirror at my own reflection. But I feel so blessed that it did. I reflect on my dream board and I feel thankful that I never dropped that picture from my mind. So the studio looks different, feels different, smells different. No Robert. But I’ve found Alice and Cleve and Kim and Jeff and others… And I’ve honored something in me that I knew I was passionate about. God pressed for me to get back on the mat. I know why. I pressed my 30th star sticker down on the challenge board today and breathed a sigh. Gave myself a pat on the back. Hey, I earned this one! But it doesn’t end here because there’s still so much work to do on me. Onward to day 31….


I urge you to find a mat. A studio. The time. The sequence. The strength. The stillness. The balance. The peace. All of it exists, I promise.