message from away...

Greetings from the Adirondacks!

It's the evening before the big race and what a lovely evening it is! I can only imagine the apprehension and the excitement that the athletes must be feeling... We are here to cheer on friends who are crazy enough to attempt this event: 4K swim + 180K bike ride + 42.2K run... all in a row!! Tomorrow will be a long, long day.

We are staying at the Mountain Brook Lodge in Wilmington, NY - about 20km outside of Lake Placid. It's been great so far! Al & Alicia, the hosts, are very welcoming and make sure that all of our needs are met. I think everyone staying here is related to the race somehow - athletes, friends & families. It'll be quite a sight tomorrow morning as most of us will be leaving before 5am. Yes, you read that correctly: BEFORE 5am. :-) Hubby is volunteering at the event and has to arrive at his post at 4:45am, so he'll be heading out around 4am.

Unfortunately, they're calling for rain & thundershowers on and off on race day. Not much we can do about that... I just hope our friends who are competing - Melanie, Vanessa & John - have a safe and succcessful day.

All for now! Time to get ready for bed. :-)

simply jag xox


god's gardens...

Last weekend, as Hubby took to the Gatineau Park paths for his run, I took to the paths with my camera. I was amazed at the variety of wildflowers that I found in such a short distance! It reminded me of the endless beauty provided by the Master Gardener. Now, if only S/he could help out with the ones in my yard... :-)

And so, while the insects continue to feast on my gardens, I will feast on these. Enjoy!

simply jag



simply rich...

Well, let's be honest, my focus has been everywhere BUT here this past month! I have been remiss in keeping my blog up-to-date. Life has been full, and rich, and full, and... well... full! :-) A couple of exciting developments to share:

I am now the proud owner of a new DSLR camera! I'd been saving for a while and decided it was time. I purchased a Canon Rebel XSi in early June and haven't really taken it out to play yet. But I will, oh, I certainly will!

The other MOST exciting news is from this past weekend... I had the pleasure of standing by my sister as she said her "I do" to her Love. It was a wonderful day starting off with a morning ceremony, followed by a luncheon then a house party later that night! I felt surrounded by Love, and Joy, and Friendship, and Laughter, and Beauty the entire day. So lovely!! CONGRATS Sis - you deserve every happiness...

sis & bro-in-law: photo by jag

jag & hubby: photo by sean zio

jag & sis: photo by sean zio

simply jag


a day in the (silent) life...

"Meditation is a discipline of simplicity. Our world needs to learn it urgently. It is a discipline whereby you direct all your powers of consciousness to God. Instead of being at the mercy of your mind with its myriad thoughts and imaginations, you bring our mind, your consciousness, to silence. In that silence you quite naturally become open to God and God's power. It is an utterly benevolent power which we can only describe with the word 'love'."
- Dom John Main, OSB

Once again, I have given myself the gift of a 5-day silent retreat. I leave after work on Thursday. Here's what a typical day on a non-directed, silent retreat looks like (with possible minor variations):
  • sleep
  • meditate
  • eat
  • walk
  • read/write
  • eat
  • nap
  • walk
  • meditate
  • eat
  • read/write
  • meditate
  • read/write
  • sleep
Well, SOMEbody has to do it! :-) See you on the flip side of Silence...
simply jag xox


more blossomtime...

More visual delights from Kariya Park, a small urban oasis in Mississauga, Ontario. Although I did bump up the colours a bit, I didn't change them. The surroundings truly were awash in pink & purple!

simply jag xox



“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
- Marcel Proust

With gratitude to simple sparrow who reminded me today that it's important to share the beauty we see through our lens...
simply jag xox



"The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life."
(seen on a Starbucks coffee cup: The Way I See It #76 - A. Morriss, Customer)

This past weekend, these two men inspired me to renew my commitment to running. Reinforced by the wisdom from an unlikely source (a disposable coffee cup?!), I've decided to register for a 15K race this coming August. Eeek! This is a huge leap for me and I'm still not sure I can do this... but then again, that's probably just the voice of fear parading around as rational hesitation. :-)

Special kudos & proud sentiments go out to Hubby who ran his marathon in 3:18:12, thereby qualifying him to run the Boston Marathon in 2010! If I feel like giving up, I can turn to him for inspiration - and a healthy dose of insanity...

simply jag


i dare you not to smile...

This video came to me by way of Superhero - it brought tears of joy and giggles... I've watched it numerous times, always with the same head-boppin', smile-inducing effect. It makes me happy to share it with you today!

(Because the Blogger template crops off part of the video, I suggest you click on the video itself - as opposed to the triangular PLAY icon - so that it brings you to the full-size YouTube version.)

simply jag


a day of life and death...

Last Saturday, I noticed this in my yard:
Needless to say, I was thrilled! Especially considering there were (note the use of past tense) still snow patches on the lawn.
Ahhh, life renewing... what a great sight.

That same afternoon, I received the news that a friend had passed away earlier that day. I was overcome with sadness, especially since - that very morning - I had been thinking of going to see him the hospital. I guess I didn't realize just how far the cancer had taken him.
Ahhh, earthly life ending... what a great might.

Finding... and losing... the never-ending cycle of Life. The message was made very clear that day. It rained all weekend, as if the skies were joining me in my weeping.

I am thankful for the rituals we have created that allow us to share our sadness, and our joy in having known those who have passed. On Thursday, we celebrated Barney and the way he had touched our lives. Barney was a gentleman, and a dapper one at that. He loved fashion and always had kind words to say about what I was wearing... especially my hats & coats. He'd kiss my hand and say: "Ohh, look at you. You can really pull that off. I love it! I LOVE it!" So, at his memorial service, I wore my bright turquoise coat and my square top cap with a matching scarf. I knew he'd expect nothing less of me! :-)

Barney, thanks for being so generous with your kindness and your love. The weeping is over and I have nothing but smiles for you. I'm glad that your physical suffering is over... xox

(Thanks to Dean for the use of his photos of Barney...)

simply jag xox


urban beauty...

I'm in Toronto for a few days for work... I'm not a big city girl, but there's something about the urban vibe that appeals to me. I spent the afternoon with a good friend just meandering around Kensington Market. Saw lots of beautiful sights AND sounds... like the lone musician playing on the street. His voice was amazing so I bought his CD (for a donation!). Check out www.dankosub.com. Quite a find!

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the cable that allows me to upload my photos to the computer, so you'll have to be patient. :-) This shot is from a visit to T.O. last fall...

simply jag xox


beautiful self...

I've been getting clear messages this past week, both from people who care, and from my own body: I need to s...l...o...w... d...o...w...n... I am juggling too many balls, all of them of my own choosing. I read something a while back that really resonated with me: "Some say that busyness is a form of laziness. Because you're too lazy to work out what not to do." (Michael Bungay Stanier) And so, I am in the process of making the difficult decisions about what NOT to do.

Last night, I chose NOT to go out to the theatre with a group of friends. My hacking cough would have been entirely inappropriate and exhausting. I stayed home and ended up playing with self-portrait! Dare I say it, I believe these shots are beautiful.

simply jag xox


beauty in the kitchen...

Here's a shot from my friend Judi's new Kitchen Studio. She is moving her home-based catering business, Credible Edibles, to a new space and has asked if I would sell her some of my photos for her studio! I stopped by today to check the place out and see what I could offer. I'm thrilled and honoured to play a small part in her exciting adventure.

Judi is an inspiring woman. She left her office job last year to focus on developing this idea of offering "nutricious, delicious, environmentally conscious" meals to the community. I look forward to seeing how this new space will develop... Way to go, Judi!! Oh, and thanks for the freshly baked mocha muffin. You can test out new recipes on me anyday. :-)

simply jag xox


beautiful tree...

I came home today to find Hubby - the marathon man - following along with a Rodney Yee yoga DVD. As I watched him do a tree pose, I was struck with how beautiful the scene was. Thanks to Picnik, I was able to salvage an otherwise technically poor shot.

simply jag xox


beauty in the heart of downtown...

I've loved this painting for close to 20 years. It stands two stories high and is located in the foyer of a hotel/commercial building in downtown Ottawa. I walk by it every week on my way to my meditation group. Also, it was in this hotel that we held our wedding reception 19 years ago this fall. I noticed the painting the first time I set foot there. How could I not?!

It really is beautiful to me. In the midst of all the hurry and scurry of the downtown workday, it invites me to pause and breathe and take in the sight, sound and smell of the ocean... even if it is only in my mind.

simply jag xox


street-weary beauty...

I first met John about four years ago when he was living on the street. He now rents a small room above one of the local drinking establishments, but he still pans at his usual street corner. He refers to it as his job and usually pulls one to two shifts a day.

John is street-weary beauty to me. He is scuffed up, and funny, and wounded, and wise. He always astounds me with his positive attitude and I am grateful he is on my Life path...

simply jag xox


beauty in the 'hood...

I don't need to go far to find beauty in my neighbourhood. I live in Westboro Village, a great community just west of downtown Ottawa. This photo is from the shoppe around the corner from my house. I often pause to gaze at the gorgeous window displays... The clothes are a little out of my reach, but a girl can dream, can't she?! :-)

simply jag xox


tag... i'm it!

I got group tagged on Shutter Sisters today... I hesitated before jumping in because I'm not at all comfortable with self-portrait. Mostly, whenever I see a picture of myself, I find it doesn't look like who I feel am. Really. The only photos that have captured how I see myself are the ones of me and my sister that were taken by Bonnie Findley, a friend and talented photographer.

But, since creative growth is all about taking risks, I decided to play the game. Here I am, as the camera sees me sitting at my desk at work earlier today...
simply jag xox


a new word for march...


A new focus for the month of March, thanks once again for Shutter Sisters' One Word Project. Time to focus on all things beautiful!

simply jag xox


a simple accomplishment...

"Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment."
- Claude Monet

...and she goes out in an explosion of colour!!

I did it. Imperfectly, yes, but I did it. My first month long photo challenge! It's been interesting to keep the idea of "simplify" at the forefront of my day. I am surrounded by simplicity... and I am surrounded by clutter. The camera allows me to focus and recognize the simple beauty amidst that clutter.

I have to give props to those bloggers & photographers who are doing 365 challenges... Oy. I found 28 days to be quite the commitment and can appreciate what is needed to embark on a 365 project. Maybe some day... but not today. :-)

Hope you've enjoyed my exploration into simplicity! Keep coming back... I'm not going anywhere. I look forward to sharing more my photography and my simple take on Life here at a simple focus...

simply jag xox


a simple necessity...

“The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.”
- e.e. cummings

Even a rainy day in February can be beautiful when you're wearing rubber boots with polka dots! This puddle is likely sheer ice by now, but today, just for a few hours, we were reminded what spring will be like. And with all the melting snow, soon (yes, soon) this footwear will - once again - become a simple necessity.

simply jag xox


a simple season...

"Rather than viewing Lent as a season of drab and dreary self-examination and sacrifice that waters down its spiritual potency, we might see it as a time offered to us each year simply to sort things out." - http://www.explorefaith.org/
I went to mass yesterday. Regardless of my troubled relationship with the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday still calls out to me. You see, I love Lent. I really do!
For me, it's not about giving up, it's about giving in... in to the will that god has for me.
And in order to give in to that will, I need to clue in.
And in order to clue in, I need to become the quiet... and simplify.

The take-away from yesterday's mass for me was the phrase "to be at ease in one's own skin before god". I love that. It gives a focus to my Lenten journey... with this in mind & heart, Lent can indeed be a simple season.

simply jag


a simple reason...

"My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can."
- Cary Grant
I may be stretching it a bit by posting this photo today, but the circumstances warrant it, IMO. How does this embody my February word, simplify? Well, it's like this:
  • My nose is dripping.
  • My sinuses are tickling.
  • My eyes are leaking.
  • My throat is recovering.
  • My patience is evaporating.
  • I took this shot on Friday.
  • I post-processed it on Saturday.
  • Today is Sunday and I'm keepin' it simple.
There. That should do it. :-)
simply jag xox
p.s. In case you hadn't heard, President Obama was in town on Thursday. His presence lingers on...


a simple pain in the...

COMMON COLD (Ogden Nash)

Go hang yourself, you old M.D,!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
In not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever's hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The F├╝hrer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne'er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare's plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!


another simple shot...

"Simplicity, clarity, singleness: these are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy." - Richard Halloway
I'm still feeling under-the-weather, so I'm posting another simple shot from my archives... one of my favourites actually. I love the simplicity of this image, taken at the National Gallery of Canada last summer - the lines and the unclutteredness of it.

simply jag xox


a simple shot...

“I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee.”
- Carly Simon

A simple shot today...

I'm Day 2 at home with a cold and I feel like crap. I really thought I could fend this one off, but when Hubby caught it last week, I should have known. He NEVER gets a cold, and if it was potent enough to take him down, what chance did I stand?!

Today is Obama's visit to Ottawa. I work downtown and was hoping to catch a glimpse of the motorcade - or better yet, of the man himself! Alas, the Universe presents yet another opportunity to learn Acceptance. Dammit.

simply jag xox


a simple realization...

"When we open our hearts to each other we allow grace to enter. It is as simple as that."
- Kathleen A. Brehony

Hubby's Aunt Gert turns 90 today. What grace! It occured to me that, should I live to be 90, this means I have not yet lived half of my life. I truly have a lifetime ahead of me!

This simple realization is both exciting and terrifying. :-) All I can hope is that I may be surrounded by family & friends, the way Aunt Gert was at her party this past weekend...

simply jag xox


a simple sunbeam...

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."
- Jane Howard

A late afternoon sunbeam bounced into my office on Friday and drew my attention to these two photos sitting by my desk. In an instant, I stopped what I was doing, looked at these photos, and smiled. My husband. My sister. The two most important people in my Life. My family.

I have a fairly large extended family spread out over several provinces. Whenever we get together for some kind of gathering, I'm always reminded of how much Love there is. Amidst all the dysfunction, always Love.

And these two are extra special to me. The husband I've picked twice. The sister I've loved since the day she was born. I'm grateful to this simple sunbeam for directing my focus - albeit just for a moment - to this family I love.

simply jag xox


a simple way to travel...

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(Snapshots from stops along the way and a view from the last car on the train.)

We travelled to Cobourg this weekend to help Aunt Gert celebrate her 90th birthday. It was a wonderful weekend of connecting with family & friends! When travelling in the winter, Hubby is not fond of driving - and since he is the primary driver in this household, I certainly don't blame him. Hwy 401 can be a pretty nasty place when you're hit with unforeseen "weather" coming off Lake Ontario. Although it ended up being a sunny, dry weekend, we were both all-the-more relaxed after having chosen a simple way to travel...

simply jag xox


a simple principle...

Whether you belong to a 12-step program or not - whether you've even heard of the 12 Steps or not - anyone can recognize the wisdom of living life one day at a time.

I have learned that it is truly the only way to move forward. At times, it may sound cliche... a trivial phrase to throw out when the going gets tough... but this simple principle has saved me from insanity more than once! :-)

simply jag xox


a simple wish...

A simple wish for you...

May you recognize Love in all its guises
and when faced with a choice,
always err on the side of Love.

simply jag xox


a simple choice...

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart...pursue those.”
- Michael Nolan
I found this tiny barrette on the floor of my office building today.
It caught my eye AND my heart!
In choosing "simplify" as my mantra for 2009, I'm hoping to break the pattern of saying YES to every opportunity or interest that comes along. That may seem counterintuitive... Should we not give in to the abundance that comes our way?! I've learned - the hard way... the only way... - that I can easily get over-committed and overwhelmed. Then, my body, mind & spirit simply shut down. I thrive when I remember to focus my energy on that which catches my heart: being an expression of God's perfect Love in an imperfect world. That is my simple choice.

simply jag xox


a simple place...

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."
- Hans Hofmann

In October 2000, a crisis in my life lead me to my healing place: Stillpoint House of Prayer in Springtown, Ontario. There, in that place, I experience simplicity in a most profound way thanks to its silence and its stillness. Truly, it is by eliminating the unnecessary clutter of the everyday that I create a space for the Sacred to speak.

...and the message I'm getting is that I need to book my spring retreat soon! :-)

simply jag xox


a simple solution...

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
- Albert Einstein

Almost everywhere I look, I see clutter in my home... Little bits. Big bits. My worst habit is not having a place for everything, so I just set it down somewhere - and there it stays. But sometimes, a simple solution comes forth...

simply jag xox


a simple indulgence...

"Soap and water and common sense are the best disinfectants.”
- William Osler
So often, it's the little things that bring a smile to my face. Little things like soap. :-) Moonsnail Soapworks, from Prince Edward Island, makes the best soap. Ever. Even their new packaging brings me joy! I tend to order $100 worth at a time and then I intersperse its use with my regular soap to give the impression that it lasts longer. My favourite is Dad's Licorice, with the envigorating Spearmint Swirl coming in as a close second.

At $5 a bar, it's a little pricier than what I'm used to. But with just one whiff of this aromatic soap during my morning shower, I am convinced that this simple indulgence is worth every penny.

simply jag xox