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 Führer 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


a simple pleasure...

"My childhood may be over, but that doesn't mean playtime is."
~Ron Olson

My two nieces (ages 8 and 5) were with us for an afternoon this past weekend. Since they've just recently moved to the city, it was our first time having them without their parents. Needless to say, as a childless couple, we wondered what the heck we'd do with them for several hours!

All hail crayons & paper! All hail crayons and colouring books!

I had originally bought these crayons for myself waaaay back, but it took the presence of two little girls to remind me that, to enjoy the simple pleasure crayons bring, I need to take them out of the box. :-)

simply jag xox


a simple scent...

"Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air - explode softly - and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth - boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn't go cheap, either - not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination."
~Robert Fulghum

Can anyone resist the scent of simpler times?!

simply jag xox


a simple sound...

“Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart.”
- Andrés Segovia

One of the most soothing sounds to me is that of the guitar, especially when it's being played by someone other than me. I come from a musical family and have deep memories of parties going on downstairs while I tried to listen to the music through the floor or from the top of the stairs. The singing, the laughter, and of course, the guitar. To this day, the sound of my mom or dad strumming the guitar brings a smile to my face.

I own two guitars. One is on a stand in the living room, longing to be played; the other didn't come out of its case for over five years. That's just wrong. I've recently decided to sell my second guitar - it deserves to find a home that will honour its simple sound.

simply jag xox


a simple speed...

"As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow."
- A.C. Benson

One of the ways I seek to simplify my life is to remember to take it slow. There is no shame in slow. When I forget this, my body has a way of reminding me. Over the years, I have become attuned to the ebb & flow of my energy and I honour those times when I need to slow down - maybe even stop altogether. Days like yesterday.

simply jag xox


a simple reminder...

"Let us make a pledge that, if not all day or all night long, at least for a few moments every day, we will make an effort to experience love, love that is free from selfishness, free from desire, free from expectation, love that is complete freedom."
— Swami Chidvilasananda

I hate the amount of junk mail I get. It steals a measure of my serenity pretty much every day. I've been meaning to join the Red Dot Campaign for some time now, but I just haven't made the effort. Yet.

Yesterday, my procrastination worked in my favour... The Universe delivered this beautiful heart as a reminder of the centrality of Love in my life. It's a simple reminder. And now it's time to further simplify my life by reducing the amont of junk mail in it. :-)

simply jag


a simple truth...

“We must never presume that we see. We must always be ready to see anew.”
- Richard Rohr, OFM

Life gets complicated when I think I know - even more so when I'm convinced I know. The simple truth is: I don't know squat. Part of my spiritual growth is to let go of the assumption that I already know. Adopting a practice of beginner's mind offers me the opportunity to learn to do just that, step by stumbling step...

simply jag xox


a simple teaching...

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
- Rumi

I heard the most beautiful - and simple - story ever yesterday.

I was listening to an old Tapestry interview featuring Coleman Barks, a world-reknowned interpreter of the poetry of Rumi. When speaking of his Teacher (whose name escapes me!), Mary Hynes (the host) asked him, "What did he teach you?" His answer imprinted on my heart:

"When I met him, he told me he loved me. And I told him I loved him... and we spent the next nine years unwrapping that gift."

How simple is that?! When we love, and know ourselves to be loved, everything flows from there. When we are rooted in love, we are all students... and we are all teachers.

simply jag


in stillness & simplicity...

"It often seems as if we rush through life at such high speed while in our heart there is the essential interior flame of being. Our rushing often brings it to the point of extinction. But when we sit down to meditate, in stillness and simplicity, the flame begins to burn brightly and steadily. As we abandon thinking in terms of success and self-importance, the light of the flame helps us to understand ourselves and others in terms of light, warmth and love."
- John Main, OSB

My meditation space at Stillpoint House of Prayer, Springtown, ON...
Twice a year, I spend time - in silence & simplicity - detaching from the clutter of my daily life. I never fail to leave there feeling refreshed, refocused and beloved.

simply jag


it begins with one word...

"There is a guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening we shall hear the right word... Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which flows into your life. Then, without effort, you are impelled to truth and to perfect contentment."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

...and with this one word, I jump into my first online photo challenge from Shutter Sisters. A photo a day throughout the month of February.

I have chosen the word "simplify". I had adopted this as my focus for 2009 and this creative project seemed like a great way to explore how the concept of "simplicity" can apply to my life. I am blessed with a full life, and too often I am drawn into a wide variety of commitments and intentions. I end up feeling scattered and ineffective. In 2009, I seek to simplify... to focus on what is really most important to me and to let go of the opportunities that do not contribute to my spiritual and physical well-being.

simply jag xox