Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dancing with Fatigue...

Seems to me I've always danced with fatigue in one way or another. As a teenager, I remember regularly taking naps after school. And I have a reputation in my family for my ability to sleep in. "It's a gift", I would respond to the teasing. "Not all of us are blessed with it." As an adult, if I don't set an alarm, I usually don't wake up until I've slept for 9 or 10 hours. Usually, I dance along with the ongoing sense of low energy in a manageable way... but not so these days.

Fatigue has taken a strong lead and I am stumbling in my attempts to stay in step. I'm forgetful. I'm baffled by simple decisions. Concentration & focus elude me. I've been down this road before, and this time I need to listen carefully to these signs. I've been caught by surprise though. My life is not in crisis; in fact, it is overflowing with wonderful opportunities and blessings. Of course, what the body registers is: stress. The body doesn't differenciate between "good" stress and "bad" stress. It's all the same to my body.

So, I need to put First Things First and go into self-care mode. It's hard to do that in our society. It takes courage, and I pray I will be given what I need to make the decisions I need to make. Nothing drastic, but difficult decisions nonetheless. Reducing commitments... seeing a doctor... taking time from work... letting go of guilt... putting myself and guilt-free, non-planned time on the top of my To-Do list. Better yet, ripping up the To-Do list completely! One step at a time...

Luckily, we have no plans this Christmas. What a blessing! No commitments, no obligations, no plans. No matter how wonderful this time of the year can be, I can't tell you how excited I am to have nothing to do this Christmas. A friend once said that his wish for me was that I would experience boredom, just for a while. I'll resist the temptation to add "Be bored..." to my list and I'll try to surrender to the experience of self-care. Now THAT would be a true gift.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

The power of waiting...

You must give birth to your images.
They are the future waiting to be born.
Fear not the strangeness you feel.
The future must enter you
long before it happens.
Just wait for the birth,
for the hour of new clarity.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

How powerful!! I came across this quote yesterday and was struck by how it described what the season of Advent is all about. Today, for me, Advent is not about waiting for the birth of baby Jesus, it's about waiting in anticipation for the beginning of a new Way. I believe that's what the message is all about. That's why I should pay attention to the story of a baby born in a manger over 2000 years ago.

A lot has happened since I last posted here... Most notably, I've entered a new decade of life! Perhaps that's why I'm feeling especially reflective. Naw, that's not it. Advent always puts me in this hopeful mood!


Saturday, November 26, 2005

U2 can be one of them...

Following an unforeseen turn of events, I found myself surrounded by over 20,000 enthusiastic and adoring U2 fans earlier tonite. By the end of the concert, I was one of them. It's not that I didn't know of U2's music before - it's just that I didn't consider myself a "fan" (ie. Do you know the words to Sunday, Bloody Sunday? Do you know Bono's real name? Do you know that The Edge is not the name of an album?).

The fact is, I don't really follow any band closely. I hardly listen to the radio or to CDs. I was trying to remember the last real rock concert I had been to. I was horrified when I realized it was April Wine's Farewell Tour (before they came back). Then I remembered I had seen Genesis in concert at the Skydome in 1990-something. OK, so that was a bit better!

But, allow me to get back to Bono... please! First of all, the concert was FAN-TAS-TIC... My ears are still hisssssing. Just when I thought the crowd couldn't cheer any louder, somehow they did. WE did! I allowed myself to be carried away by the experience. I was amazed at the effect Bono has on his fans - men & women alike. All he has to do is suit up and show up... and he is adored. He saunters around that stage like he owns it... like he knows something we don't. But whatever he has, he offers us every ounce of it. He stands there, opens his arms and drinks in our energy, then he pours it right back out for us in his singing. Stunning. Absolutely.

I got a real kick out of watching the crowd react to him... of watching him react to the crowd. It was like being involved in a love affair. It was completely anihilating. Yes, there are other band members... and they too are appreciated by the masses. But there's just something about Bono that is mesmerizing. His heart & soul, his entire being, comes out in his performance - or so it seems.

OK. I think I may be hooked. Will it last? Maybe it's just the intoxicating effect of sharing the energy of Bono... or maybe it's just lust. Whatever it is, in this moment, I am one of them.

p.s. I now know his real name! :-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Passing judgement...

I was speaking to John (of no fixed address) this morning. He announced that he "finally broke down" and went to social services yesterday. He's now on file and will get a street allowance and assistance with rent if he can find a room. I found it powerful when he said that he enjoyed not having to be on welfare, but "welfare or not, you get judged either way". So true. Mea culpa.

It's very humbling to speak to John. He has a no-nonsense attitude and, despite his situation, he always has a smile and a friendly greeting to offer. As I approach, he croons his usual greeting: Heeey, pretty lady! I tease him about his Toronto Maple Leafs hat, which he tries to hide under his hood with a sheepish grin and his dazzling blue eyes.

Good luck, John. Sorry we've judged you. Here's hoping you don't have to spend another winter on the streets...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gigowatt-saving Gospel...

Project Porchlight (PP) is surpassing all our expectations. We estimate that, by the end of this coming weekend, volunteers will have distributed 10 000 lightbulbs in their neighbourhood. And the expressions of interest keep rolling in. Community groups are realizing that this is a do-able project! This small act of energy conservation is accessible to all of us, regardless of our economic status, our ethnic group, our age, our employment status, our gender, our state of mind... PEI is interested in talking with PP. So is the Ontario Power Authority. The initiative has been highlighted in the media and is being mentioned as far away as Lethbridge and Waskaganich. This week, the Ottawa Business Journal writes about our hope to spread our "gigowatt-saving gospel across Canada". :-)

Indeed, spread the Good News. Change IS within reach!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Quantum Leap of Faith...

Come with me on a journey of exploration; let's link arms in a trajectory whose direction and destiny we'll discover as we go along. Enter into the experience of searching, seeking, exploring and, I hope, discovering. Participate in the task rather than remain a mere observer.

This is the invitation that is extended at the beginning of Quantum Theology (2004), a book I've just started reading. I first discovered its author, Diarmuid O'Murchu, in June 2004 while on silent retreat at Stillpoint. Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to hear him in person at a public lecture here in Ottawa.

When first reading his work, I remember being utterly amazed at what this priest was daring to say. His words echoed so many of my unspoken thoughts! In Reclaiming Spirituality (1997), I heard him say: Increasingly, I find myself in sympathy with the spiritual seekers who claim that formal religion, with its trappings and power games, is proving to be a major obstacle to spiritual growth and development. (p. 31) Could I ever relate!

I consider myself a Catholic-in-exile (for now). I have a deep desire to follow the teachings of Jesus and I honour him as my Beloved Teacher and my Guide. Every day, I pray for the ability to Love as He did, and to Trust in God as He did. Several years ago, I was encouraged by a priest to forget about everything else and simply allow myself to "fall in love with Christ". He sensed that formal religion - with all its doctrines & rules - was indeed getting in the way of my spiritual growth and development. I don't go to church these days... I fully trust the path I'm on and know that God is walking with me, wherever I may be. I haven't completely given up on the church, but admittedly, I don't miss it. Luckily, God doesn't take it personally and can handle my choices.

In response to this choice, O'Murchu offers me another challenge:

(...) most people who become disillusioned with religion do not confront the pain or discomfort religion is causing them; they simply opt out. It is easier to move away rather than face the challenge, guilt and fear which the confrontation might involve.

(Reclaiming Spirituality, p. 79)

And so, I accept the invitation that is extended to me. I will keep an open mind and an open heart. Here's to entering the experience as a full participant. I'll let you know what I find there...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Preparing for Silence...

delicious brilliant universe
an eternity within
celebrate myself
live... speak... think...
listen & learn
laugh... dance... embrace...
trust & heal
surrounded by sacred joy.

(Magnetic Poetry by jag)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Halloween Dud...

Another All Hallow's Eve has come & gone. Death came to my door. So did a peacock and a triceratops dinosaur. A wizard. A knight. A monster. And a miniature pumpkin. I had candy for 75 kids. A grand total of 7 showed up. Where have all the children gone?!

A friend suggested that perhaps word got out that I was handing out Sour Chews. What's wrong with Sour Chews??!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Great Lady Lacey...

Last year, on Halloween night, my sister & I fashioned a "ghost" out of a old lace curtain, a paper plate, a wire hanger and a mask. We named her Lacey and she helped us greet the children who came to my door. Before the stroke of midnight, my talented sister had given Lacey a story. Keep reading...

The Legend of Lacey

The great lady Lacey she comes once a year
Her story’s so sad it’s caused many a tear
No one knows for sure how she came to depart
But it’s legend she died of a still broken heart

She’s elegant, classy, so please have no fear
She simply comes looking for one who was dear
She comes in October on All Hallow’s Eve
It’s all part of healing, of trying to grieve

Her beauty and might give glimpse to her strength
Her eyes and her spirit show she’s suffered at length
Oh how she remembers that knock at the door
That told her she’d lost her beloved to war

She remembers him dearly, from a time far away
But nor sadness nor grief has led to dismay
Her courage and faith keep her hopeful each year
That she’ll find him, she’s closer, she feels him, he’s near

So tonight if you’re careful, you may see or hear
Lacey praying or calling, but be there no fear
She’ll be searching as always, with love and with grace
With beauty and spirit, and a gown made of lace.

(Steph – October 31, 2004)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Change IS within reach...

Helping to preserve the environment is as easy as changing a lightbulb. No, really. I mean it! It can be done with a twist of the wrist and a flick of the switch...

Last summer, my friend Stuart was chatting with his buddy Mike about a surprising statistic he saw on Natural Resources Canada's Energy Star web site. If every household in Canada replaced just one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent, the reduction in pollution would be the equivalent of taking 66,000 cars off the road. "How hard could it be to get everyone to change one lightbulb?", he said. And there it was - the proverbial lightbulb moment. It was the birth of Project Porchlight.

Project Porchlight is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organization and our ultimate goal is to distribute one free compact fluorescent (CF) lightbulb to every household in Canada. This Saturday, Oct. 29th at 11 a.m. we launch our biggest event yet in Ottawa South. Join us for the party and help us get the ball rolling! Hosted by Alex Munter, our first local community launch is taking place in the parking lot of Giant Tiger at 2480 Walkely Road. Join us and see what all the fuss is about!

Change IS within reach. No, really. I mean it! :-)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Giving Thanks...

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I'm taking a few moments to think about what I have to be grateful for. The practice of gratitude is one that need only take a few moments a day to cultivate, and the rewards greatly outweigh the effort.

When my life was in crisis, I remember keeping a gratitude journal. Every night before going to bed, I would write a short list of five things that I was grateful for that day. Somedays, the list reflected the basics: food, shelter, warm bed, functional body... Other days, I was able to expand my outlook and could appreciate the colour of the trees, a encouraging smile from a friend or the support of my family. I wonder why I stopped doing that? Too busy to stop and take notice perhaps? I tend to give thanks more frequently during the day now, but I don't take quiet time to reflect and develop an awareness of the many blessings I have in my life. In honour of Thanksgiving, here's my list for today - in random order:
- my evolving relationship with God
- Hubby
- my somewhat-dysfunctional-yet-oh-so-loving family
- my home & neighbourhood

Yeah, I know. This is the big stuff, but what better day to say it OUT LOUD!!
What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


It's been just over a month since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and if I were to believe the evening news on TV, there's not much more to that story. We've now moved on to the jubilation and celebration of the return of NHL Hockey. Woohoo and big whoop!

For a stunning account of the ongoing impact of Hurricane Katrina, check out Operation Eden. I arrived there through the randomness of the world of blogs, and spent some time taking in one photographer's personal story. It was time well spent.

As I begin to feel restless and whiny because of this cold-that-will-not-end, I am reminded that, just for today, I have everything I need. I have the opportunity to rest in my cozy home... I have immediate access to clean drinking water (or juice, or tea, or my heart's desire)... I am a short bus ride away from medical attention... My voice may have dropped an octave or two, and my nose may be raw from the blowing, but tonite, I will find sleep waiting for me under my favourite quilt.

I offer my prayers to those whose stories are still unfolding. I'm sure you wish that all you had to be dealing with was a cold-that-will-not-end.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A state of mind...

I saw a man collapse on the road today, just metres away from the finish line of a half-marathon race. What makes a person keep running, and running, until they lose control of the very muscles they depend so heavily on? And I saw many others - older than me... heavier than me... - approach the finish line with a triumphant smile and tears of exhilaration. What's the difference between them and me? My body is fit. My body is strong (although untested). I can only conclude it is a state of mind that differenciates us. Or perhaps a degree of insanity.

Hubby completed his 5th marathon today. Yay for Hubby! He didn't reach his goal and is struggling to find the best way to fuel his body throughout that gruelling distance without becoming nauseous and wanting to throw up. In his words, his tactics are all there - he just needs to figure out the nutrition part. So he'll keep on trying, and I'll keep on cheering him on.

The dangerous thing is, every time I see one of these races - and the insane people who run them - I think to myself: could I do that if I really wanted to? What's to stop me, save for a degree of insanity?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Looking back on 15 years...

Can someone please 'splain to me how we get from September 12 (last post) to September 22 (today) in a blink of an eye?! Yikes... When I first created jag e*space, my hope was to write at least once a week, ideally a couple of times a week and eventually progress to writing a bit every day. Luckily I left the timeline open!

Fifteen years ago today, I was walking around in a blur of white lace & flowers. It was probably around this time of day that Mom stopped me and thrust a ham-on-kaiser sandwich in my hand, in the hope that I wouldn't collapse from hunger as I walked down the aisle.

Through easy times & difficult times, here we are - Hubby & I - still married after 15 years. We're two of the lucky ones... we almost didn't make it here. On our 10th wedding anniversary, we had dinner together but were living apart. In those dark days, a 15-year celebration was far from my mind. But God's plans are much bigger than what my mind can imagine. Through His grace, we were given the courage to give our Life together another chance. Like I said, we're two of the lucky ones! As I look back, here are a just a few of the things I have learned (in random order):
  • the wedding is the easy part; it's the marriage that calls for a daily decision to accept the other as they are (and hope that they do the same!)
  • it's OK if the garbage doesn't go out for another week
  • it's important to have individual interests, but it's essential to carve out time for togetherness
  • let Hubby & his mother be as they are - they'll be just fine
  • when Hubby & Mum-in-law are making dinner in the kitchen, it's best to stay in the living room
  • when you strive to remove obstacles (such as control and judgement), Love really does grow exponentially
  • raising your voice gets in the way of the message, and being silent gets in the way of your Voice
  • some of the best talks are had when walking hand-in-hand
  • we both have the right to make mistakes, and the opportunities to make amends
  • intimacy takes many forms
  • Life doesn't get much better than a Hubby I love, a good book and cup of coffee at Bridgehead Coffeehouse.
Thanks Babe! Life really is good. Here's to us - one day at a time...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Caveat emptor...

Let the buyer beware... Allow me to share my costly lesson so that you may avoid a similar situation in the future.

If you are a Bell Canada customer and are making a long-distance phone call using your calling card, always... ALWAYS... dial into the Bell service at 1-800-555-1111 in order to complete your call. Do not assume that the local telephone service will advise you that your Bell service is being blocked and that you are now tapping into the services of the local carrier.

A 3-minute payphone call to Ottawa from Philadelphia, using my calling card number directly, ended up costing me a whopping $23.12. At no point was I advised that my Bell Service could not be accessed and the call was automatically interpreted as a collect person-to-person call by the local carrier. I made 5 such phone calls during my short stay in Philly, luckily none of them lasted longer than five minutes. Ouch.

When I contacted the Calling Card department at Bell Canada to enquire how I was supposed to know that I needed to dial 1-800-555-1111, I was told it was written right on the front of my calling card. I guess she was referring to the calling card that I never carry around because I've memorized my PIN. Ouch. Ouch.

Caveat emptor... Although I haven't been scammed outright, I certainly do feel duped. The good news is: now I know - and it won't happen again.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Planning for future health...

Why is it so difficult to do what we know is best for us?! I started up my yoga class again this morning. I basically haven't stretched since May 2005. It felt so good to be back at it, yet I know that tomorrow, there will be pain. My teacher spoke of an ancient sanskrit word which translates to something like "planning for future health". It is a concept that dates back thousands of years, and we're still trying to figure it out.

Taking it to a whole different level, this same message came through loud & clear on Thursday evening as I sat and listened to Dr. David Suzuki give a talk as part of a fundraiser for USC Canada. It was my first time hearing him in person and I'm still processing the experience. I can't say I like hearing what he has to say - I don't think many people do - but I know I have to listen anyway. He speaks with great passion and conviction... and he doesn't mince words. I can see why some would find him difficult to accept; he certainly has no love for economists and SUV owners!

I find it baffling that our society, in general, values the intellect above all other faculties. Our brains... our ability to make decisions and shape our future... these are the things that set us apart from the rest of God's creatures! And yet, when scientists from around the world - the best of the best - issue a dire warning to humanity as they did in 1992, no one pays attention. For some bizarre reason, we continue to believe that we are separate from the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we ingest: the elements that give us our very life.

David Suzuki's message can be overwhelming. The predictions of scientists seem too incredible to believe. After all, scientists & engineers were the ones who predicted that the city of New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen - how could we possibly take them seriously?!

Hubby & I bought toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper today. We refilled on our chemical-free cleaning products, we picked up a staple-less stapler and two more Compact Fluorescent bulbs. It may not be much, but it's something. There are many ways to plan for future health...

"If you drive an SUV, you need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror because you don't give a shit about the environment." - David Suzuki (to his audience at the USC Canada event)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The challenge of democracy...

In a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, "holds office"; every one of us is in a position of responsibility; and in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities.

We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.

John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage (1956)
I came across this quote as I was going through some papers yesterday. It was hurriedly scribbled in a notebook during our visit to the JFK Library in Boston this past summer. It struck me then, and it struck me even more this time.

In light of ongoing heavy criticism of government happening in the States, as well as the particularly toxic parliamentary session we had here in Canada this past spring, I am reminded that I have a responsibility too. I've never really been politically active (other than making sure I vote in elections), but I'm realizing that I have stronger opinions on issues then I've ever had before. I just don't know what to do with them! Often, as my awareness grows, so do my feelings of utter powerlessness. And anger. I am angry that poverty exists to the extent that it does - how did we ever let it get so bad?! I am angry that politicians don't see that the state of the environment is the #1 issue that needs to be addressed... NOW! Without that, there is nothing else. I get frustrated and overwhelmed by my own inadequacy.

JFK's quote challenges me... am I up to it?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rumours that kill...

I caught a story on the news today that made me weep. During a religious pilgrimage in Baghdad, rumour of the presence of a suicide bomber began to make its way across a crowded bridge. The ensuing panic and stampede resulted in 700 -800 people dead and hundreds more injured. All this vibrant life, ended by a rumour. That's terrorism at its "best" (and therefore at its worst), in my opinion. Terrorism is not a person, nor is it a faction. It is not anything we can see or touch. It is a strategy of fear that simply cannot be stopped with bombs or weapons. There is only one thing that works against fear, and that is Love. That may sound too simple; Truth often does. Just think about it on a much smaller scale: when we were kids and experienced fear, where did we find relief? Most often, in the embrace or presence of someone who loved us.

There can be no war on terrorism, especially not using military means. It just doesn't make sense. And today, physical weapons were not even needed to kill hundreds of people just like me. All it took was a rumour.

Man, our world really needs a hug right now. My heart weeps...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The end of an era in Westboro...

These be sad days in Westboro... After 30 years, Andy's Restaurant on Richmond Rd. is closing its doors. One of the finest of its genre - the venerable greasy spoon diner - Andy's is being replaced with a mexican food restaurant. Mexican?! Will they serve me mushy scambled eggs & glistening breakfast sausage on Saturday mornings? Will the waitress remember that I take decaf with milk... and that I prefer tomato slices to homefries?! I doubt it.

Andy's has become part of my weekend routine ever since I moved to this neighbourhood. Why would I make breakfast at home when I could go to Andy's with a book, a friend or a Hubby, and have someone else cook for me - all for a whopping $4.30 plus tip?! Not surprisingly, Andy's is also a meeting place... less than two weeks ago, we stopped in for a quick breakfast and ran into friends we hadn't seen in much too long. We'd been trying to coordinate getting together, but to no avail. Yet we all found time for breakfast at Andy's.

Whether I was reading a book, sharing time with a friend, or just listening to the ambient sounds of Life and conversation, Andy's had become a home away from home. Andy & Mona: enjoy your well-deserved retirement and know that you'll be missed. But you still have four more days and you can expect me at my usual time!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Comment spam - blech...

Turns out that there is a phenom known as "comment spam". I should have known. Following my first incidence of advertising garbage being posted in my comment section, I've added a word verification feature. This simply means that you'll need to tap in a few more keystrokes before being able to post a comment. Sorry for the inconvenience, but t'is the world we live in, friends!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Stepping Forward...

In the day or two following my last post, I can't tell you how many times I thought about going back and deleting it. I know there aren't a lot of people who even read this blog, but I still had an uncomfortable reaction to putting myself out there. What would people think of me, knowing that I'm not always the confident person I purport to be? Would this not affirm that I am indeed a fraud?! Two steps forward, one step back. Speak your Truth, then take it back. I've heard this pattern described as that of the spiritual journey. When there is a spiritual breakthrough of some sort, no matter how small, the ego becomes afraid of losing its control and it reacts. The internal tapes begin to play: What have you done? You've let the mask drop and others will see the True you - warts n' all! Do you really want that?!

As scary as it feels, I want to answer YES. The mask just gets too heavy to carry around... And the interesting thing is that, many times, I realize that the mask wasn't needed anyway. There are those blessed days when my insides DO match my outside... when I am confidently rooted in the knowledge that I am a beloved child of God. I look around and, as my friend Zio says: It's All Good.

Feeling our pain moves us into shadow, where we reclaim the denied parts of ourselves. This leads to developing a voice that grows increasingly authentic and full-throated with each newly claimed aspect of our identity. We are no longer speaking from a foundation of self that is riddled with fault lines. The more unified we are, the more authenticity our voice contains. We voice ourselves into being. (Helen LaKelly Hunt in 'The Hero's Journey", Spirituality & Health, October 2005)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Speaking Truth...

In the last 24 hours, I have had at least two people entrust me with their Truth. One of them spoke of a deep shame carried around for over 30 years; I am truly humbled by her trust in me. The other, although more public with his pain and sadness, continues to inspire me to choose honesty & integrity.

A few days ago, I too shared a deep shame with another and was rewarded with tears of relief. And now that it's out, and I can step back and look at what I'm carrying inside - a nagging sense that I will never be enough just as I am. When accepting a compliment from another, there is often a silent, critical voice that says: ...but if you only knew what a fraud I am, you wouldn't say that. Now that it's been out-ed, I can better see it for what it is: an illusion... an illusion based on unrealistic standards set by no one else but me. And so, the task of simply letting go of that illusion begins. It won't be easy; that false voice has been deeply whispering those un-truths for a long time. But it's time to give way to a stronger Voice.

This reminds me of something I wrote a few years ago, when reflecting on the God of my own understanding...

You are the Voice that whispers;
You are the Voice that roars;
You are the Flame that dances with joy and rage.

A heartfelt thanks to those who have the courage to speak their Truth...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Fêtons le 15 août...


I tried to teach my 19-month old niece the song Viens voir l'Acadie this morning. Unfortunately she was stuck on "moo-moo, e-i-e-i-ohhh!" Maybe next year.

In the meantime, learn more about my culture - either in English, ou ben encore mieux, en français.

Have you hugged an Acadian lately??

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

More Philly Delights...

Wow! Day Two in Philly was quite something...

Did you know Philadelphia has one of the (if not THE) most extensive Mural Arts programs in the U.S.? I did a walking tour yesterday and was amazed at what I saw. One of the most fascinating was a series of mosaic murals by Isaiah Zagar, using everyday, cast-away objects. Such expression! As my own neighbourhood of Westboro is showing signs of murals here & there, I'm inspired about what this artform can add to a community...

And the biggest treat of the day? Last minute tickets to see the Bolshoi Ballet perform Spartacus!! It was performed at the Mann Centre for the Performing Arts and I was there. What an adventure, considering that we didn't know it would be an outdoor venue and we didn't even have our tickets before we asked the taxi driver to drop us off out there. What an amazing evening of dance, music and new friends.

Oh yeah, and I did a workshop on data and variation analysis. That IS why I'm in Philly afterall... :-)


Monday, August 01, 2005

Greetings from Philly...

Greetings from sweltering Philadelphia, PA. Arrived this morning, a day before my conference workshops begin. This was an unexpected trip, but one I'm grateful for nonetheless. I've never been to Philly before. First impressions? It's a weird one, but I can't help but notice how many smokers there are! I've been walking around most of the afternoon and have had a hard time avoiding breathing in second-hand smoke. Bizarre. And no cool public toilets like they have in Boston.

My second first impression :-) is the architecture. Wow! So many phenomenal buildings... No wonder I feel light-headed: I've spent most of the afternoon looking up! Or maybe it's a simple case of dehydration.

Went to see the Liberty Bell. Not too sure what all the fuss is about. It's a bell - and it's cracked t'boot. The security to get in to see the Bell was incredible... it rivalled Parliament! I suppose it's because it's the same entrance way as Independance Hall, where the Declaration of Independance was signed. In any case, I've been in Philly for less than 6 hours and I've seen the Liberty Bell and the LOVE sculpture in JFK park. You know, the one with the LO on top, and the VE on the bottom? Pretty cool.

Time to go and cool off now. Did I mention it was sweltering in Philadelphia?!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The breath that is...

A contribution from Stéphanie, sister of my heart...

The breath that is

Why is it so difficult for us to live in the moment?
To embrace what is, instead of what was or what will be?
Why can’t we just listen, stop, enjoy
the breath that is near, that is here?
The breath that was is gone.
The breath that will be is not real.
What’s real is here, is what is.

Written on a sunny Saturday morning after pouring myself a cup of coffee, while listening to a mystery bird sing outside my window. July 2, 2005

Friday, July 29, 2005


I'm in a writing rut. So there is only one answer: Haiku.

Words are not coming
Creative juices are stalled
In silence, I hear...

Life calling to me:
Don't try so hard... let Me flow!
Live. Love. Trust. Rest. Be.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


It appears there were many who were saddened by Tim's death. Find out more about Tim and the legacy of a homeless man...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

An empty corner...

I received some sad news on my way into work today. Tim, the homeless man who offered me food back in May, passed away on July 4th. He died of a heart attack; he was 47 years old. I was on vacation at the time and just found out today. I wondered why he wasn't at his corner when I walked by yesterday. Now I know.

I'm struggling to remember what we spoke of when I last saw him. If I had known it would be the last time, I would have paid more attention. Was that the day he had the hiccups that wouldn't go away? Was that the day he grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze before I continued on my way? I wish I could remember...

I'm feeling very sad right now.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Beantown Discoveries...

Amidst all the tourist attractions, here are a few of my favourite finds so far:

Whole Foods Market: Located just a block from our hotel, this store offers organic food & natural/environmentally-friendly products as the norm. With our tiny kitchenette, this place has been a God-send. We gotta get one of these in Ottawa!

American Apparel: I bought $130.00 USD worth of sweatshop-free T-shirts here, only to find out that they have a store at the Rideau Centre in Ottawa! I now know of at least one place where I can buy clothes guilt-free (other than the reckless spending, of course...)

Apropos Shoes: Made in Lawrence, MA (north of Boston), these shoes are light-weight, immediately comfortable, fully machine-washable and affordable. I bought two pairs!

Automated City Toilet: Yes, you read that right! For $0.25, you get guaranteed cleanliness and a disinfected loo, right there on the street corner. Complete with muzak, to enhance your "experience". Did I try it? Well... I really, really had to go! :-)

Funny how none of these were in the tourist brochures we picked up...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Expectation is pre-meditated resentment. Or so I've been told. And so I've learned. Again.

My first day or so in Boston was plagued by this subtle, downward-tugging feeling of disappointment... and my vacation had hardly even begun! I felt hyper-critical and short-tempered. What was that all about?! Why the heaviness? I certainly didn't want my entire holiday to be coloured with this feeling, so I acknowledged it & did a quick scan. Here's what came out:
  • Our road trip got off to a late start and took longer than expected. Late departure. Heavy traffic. Torrential rainfall on the I-90. Late arrival to our destinations. It's not what I expected.
  • Our hotel room in Boston looks nothing like the picture on the web site. Yes, we have a kitchenette and a Queen-sized bed, but it's not what I expected.
  • The greatly anticipated lecture by Joan Chittister was a bit disappointing to me. Her words, as always, were powerful and thought-provoking, but admittedly, I was underwhelmed by her presence that day. She read from a prepared speech and, as a result, it felt (to me) re-hearsed and re-done. It's not what I expected.
All this within the first 48 hours of our 10-day trip. Do we see a pattern here, friends? I do. I need to take my expectations and stuff 'em! They are indeed pre-meditated resentment & disappointment.

Plans are OK, but I need to remember that I'm NOT the Master Planner. I want to be open to whatever today's experience will offer. And it may fall short... or it may blow me away beyond my wildest delight! Like yesterday's *un*expected treat of meeting Richard Rohr (new link!) on the way to my first class. I recognized him, introduced myself and we chatted informally all the way to class. Even had a chance to introduce him to Hubby. I didn't even know I had the possibility of expecting that! :-) Amazing what can happen when I just let go of expectations...

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Greetings from Beantown...

I couldn't tell you the last time Hubby & I took a holiday together, one that didn't involve visiting family Down East. We arrived in Boston late last night after a long drive (in the pouring rain!) from Stowe, VT. The motivation for this holiday is my auditing a 1-week evening course at Boston College. For the next week, I'm a "stoont" once again! Tourist with Hubby by day; student with Richard Rohr by night. Best of both worlds...

My "academic career" started off this morning with a lecture by Joan Chittister, OSB. Her talk was on Responding to Evil: Being Christian in America Today. She certainly doesn't mince words. Her reference to "economic pedophilia" (child slave labour being used to feed our insatiable consumerism) was especially shocking and, in my opinion, entirely appropriate. That is her goal: to shock us out of our complacency so that we may find the courage to stand up and speak out against injustice and modern "evil".

All for now... more later. To my family reunion-ing Down East this weekend - sending you LOVE.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A weekend to remember...

A poem of gratitude for 50,000 of my closest friends, gathered this past weekend for celebration and fellowship...


Wisdom reigns in the rooms of recovery
No longer alone, we love and we laugh
The walls come down and the work gets done
And the Truth will set us free.

For your courage, I thank you Ruth
You are what it's all about
The walls came down and the work got done
And the Truth has set you free.

50,000 stories to be told
100,000 hands to hold
Higher Powered by one Authority
Words fail me - this is the real deal.

Wake up! The free ride is over
Get out there and give it away!
Trust God. Clean house. Help others.
Yes indeed - this Truth has set me free.

- created by jag

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


I'm being seduced by sequins & sparkles... by textiles, richly embroidered by unknown hands. Or more likely, machines. There is an explosion of colours and textures in clothing stores today. And I am drawn to them. But the "Made in China" label turns me off... and I question the hidden costs of them. I think twice... thrice... and put them back. Back on the rack.

I am troubled but what I don't know. Was this scarf embroidered by tiny, child hands? Was this colourful cotton skirt sewn by a woman owned by her boss? And I get confused... I don't know what is safe anymore. What price am I willing to pay for fashion? So, I think twice... thrice... and put it back. Back on the rack.

A few keystrokes on Google and I learn that there is such a thing as buying clean clothes (and it has nothing to do with laundry). Oh, the pressure! It was so much easier when I didn't even know what I didn't know... and still, I don't know enough. On second thought, I think I'd rather not know.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

What Love is...

Hubby deserves a medal. No, he did not run another race this weekend, but he did sit through The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. The evening of June 25th really didn't start out that way, but life has a way of taking unexpected turns... We had gift certificates to the movie theatre that were expiring on... June 25th. We quickly realized there wasn't much to choose from. Hubby seized on War of the Worlds, which had an ad and listing in the local paper. It has Tom Cruise in it... Hubby crooned. Well, not my favourite type of movie but - whaddaheck - it was free.

Me: Two for War of the Worlds, please?
Her: I'm sorry, that movie doesn't open until Wednesday.
Me: But it was listed in the paper!
Her: It's the listing for the week ahead. Anything else you'd like to see?

As we looked at the marquee, we remained underwhelmed. Hubby's message was clear - a shrug of the shoulders followed by the words: You decide. And so I did. I knew very little about the Travelling Pants, only that a co-worker had found it "delightful".

As we entered the cinema, I quickly scanned the seats. Please let there be at least one other man in here? Hubby deserves to hold on to his dignity, after all... We were in luck - I saw at least two other men. OK, so maybe this won't be too much of a chick flick after all?!

Oh, it was a chick flick alright. I give this one a full "CF" rating... At one point, Hubby offered his sleeve as he heard me sniffling and snortling (Note: bring tissue...). At one point, I looked over to Hubby, whose eyes remained open throughout the movie, and thought to myself: This is what Love is.

Of course, I'll never hear the end of it. :-)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Spirit without a home...

John (of no fixed address) turned 45 yesterday. Two days earlier, a group of "kids" (as he calls them) attempted to run him over with their mountain bikes as he tried to sleep under a bridge. They threw a rock at him, which he was able to deflect with his hand, now bruised & swollen. Yet when I gave him his small gift, he was still able to offer me his smile and sparkling blue eyes. His spirit and good humour continue to amaze me... Happy Birthday John.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

ESSENCE - Original Thought...


Can one distinguish between water and wave?
Who is to say which is fire or flame?
Where does one end and the other begin?
It's just not that simple, says the unfocussed mind.

For water and wave are the same at the source,
Just as fire and flame share a spark.
Yet without wind, without movement, the two stay the same,
Forever as one, sees the unfocussed mind.

And so it is with me and my God
He and I share a source; She and I share a spark.
And Spirit breathes movement into my life
I am never the same, with my unfocussed mind.

Can one distinguish...
Who is to say...
Where does one end...

The unfocussed mind will never comprehend,
For these mysteries belong to the Heart.

- created by jag

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What is Christian Meditation?

What does it mean to be a Christian Meditator? Up until about 5 years ago, I didn't even know that there was a deeply rooted tradition of meditation in the Christian faith - and me, a good Catholic girl, no less! Interestingly, these days, my path leads me away from the Church and closer to Christ, my teacher and my spiritual companion. And I believe I owe this primarily to my daily practice of Christian meditation.

As written by John Cassian, a 4th-century monk sharing the teaching he had received from the Desert Fathers: “The living Spirit of God dwells within us, giving new life to our mortal bodies. The all-important aim in Christian meditation is to allow God’s mysterious and silent presence within us to become more and more not only a reality, but the reality in our lives; to let it become that reality which gives meaning, shape and purpose to everything we do, to everything we are.”

Today, the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) carries on these teachings by promoting a practical experience of this living, vibrant spirituality. And this weekend, I will be joining Christian meditators from across the country at the National Conference of the Canadian Christian Meditation Community, right here in my own backyard. If you're curious, join us for a public talk on Friday evening with Fr. Laurence Freeman, OSB - Director of the WCCM. He is an inspired speaker and will be giving a talk on "Return to the Centre: The Universal Quest for Silence and Stillness".

OK. Way too many links in this post! So be it...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Westfest Weekend

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, why not join us in Westboro for Westfest with headliners Lynn Miles (Friday) and Cowboy Junkies (Saturday)? It's free... It's fun... It's family-friendly... Have I ever mentioned how much I love living in Westboro?!

p.s. Just stay off my lawn and don't block my driveway!! :-)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Because words matter...

I never imagined that an article about libraries could bring tears to my eyes, but this one did. And I'm not even a public library user! Maybe that should change...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Can there be room for Peace?

It seems there is a group of people striving to Make Room for Peace at the new Canadian War Museum. At a public meeting held in Ottawa last night, I heard a chorus of voices for Peace - and it was music to my ears.

When I first heard that millions of dollars were being spent to build a new War Museum in Ottawa, I had an uneasy feeling. I remember thinking: Imagine what that kind of money could do for Peace? Why not build a Peace Museum instead? I know we must never forget, but must we continue to glorify war? But I never really said it out loud. I didn't think it was a very popular view, so in my usual way, I set it aside and put it out of my mind. I didn't realize there were others who felt so strongly, that they simply could not set it aside.

In the days leading to the museum's official opening, the media featured some of the more "controversial" exhibits - ie. the pieces that dared to boldly state that war takes a horrible toll on ordinary people. It makes them killers; it makes them sick. I'm thinking primarily of the portraits of Kyle Brown and Clayton Matchee... and that of a traumatized Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire... In a weird way, I was heartened to know that the dark side of war had its place in the museum, as it should.

But the members of the Committee for an Expanded Mandate for the Canadian War Museum want to take this further... They believe - and I agree - that Canada also needs to remember those who dedicate their lives to creating a culture of Peace. We need to clearly show that Peace takes courage too. We need to go beyond the War Museum's seemingly short-sighted mandate: Educate. Preserve. Remember. and add a 4th objective: Transform. Or perhaps even, Transcend. Why not? Canada has not only been shaped by war; in fact, its identity is more closely tied with Peace - a far more transformative power, in my opinion.

With this new perspective in mind, I now look forward to visiting the museum. I want to see for myself how we could make room for Peace. And once more, I learn that I need not silence my voice for the chorus is already underway...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Exiting from silence...

Stillpoint House of Prayer has been a pure gift in my life over the past five years. Twice a year, I make a point of spending extended time in silent reflection. When people hear that I'm going on a multi-day silent retreat, the most common reaction is: Whoa! I don't think I could ever do that... But really, I think you could. Being silent is the most ordinary thing in the world. It is the most natural way for us to be. To simply be. Is it easy? It's easy to do without talking, to do without TV, computers and radios... But silencing the "monkey mind" is not so easy. That's where prayer & mediation come in. And it's not like I take a vow of silence; guests at Stillpoint are simply asked to respect the norm and the spirit of silence. We acknowledge and respect that each of us goes there for our personal reasons - and being social is usually NOT one of them.

I first went there in October 2000 when my life was in crisis. I was on medical leave from work, Hubby and I were separated, and I just needed the world to stop spinning out of (my) control. A friend suggested Stillpoint and I've been going ever since... Now, when life is abundantly good, I go there primarily to reconnect with the One who really is in control of my life and to give thanks. And to sleep. :-)

Speaking of which... back to this world. G'nite!

Quote-of-the-Day: "Noise lets us ignore our most difficult struggle and our most precious possession: our true and profound selves. " - Rabbi Boruch Leff, in The Value of Silence

Friday, June 03, 2005

Notes from the Still Point - Part III

The following post was written while on silent retreat and has been transcribed from pen & paper (call me ol' fashioned) after the fact...

I've often wondered how Catherine Barry got through that winter... or even IF she got through it. Inexpressible grief that I simply can't relate to - losing her husband, James Tierney, and her infant son within 5 days of each other. What could possibly have brought on such loss in the life of one young woman?

And what of the nameless mother who lost both her sons on June 30th? At only 23 and 20 years of age, James & John Hagarty no doubt provided her with strength and support following the death of her husband only seven years earlier. Again, why such loss? What the heck was going on in Springtown, Ontario in 1873?!

There's no teasing a storyteller quite like an old cemetary. It'll give you the basics and leave it up to you to fill in the blanks. Names, dates and family ties - those are the only strands available to me as I attempt to weave the story: a story of life, out of the facts of death.

I find old cemetaries to be especially spiritual. Why are some tombstones still standing strong, while others crumble like the bones beneath them? Does anyone still care? What will be left once the stone has turned to dust? I can only hope that what will remain are memories and legacies, passed on from one generation to the next. And as I stroll amongst the names, dates and family ties, I ask myself: what story am I creating with my life? What will my legacy be?

Stars in boundless sky
Speak to my union with All.
Burning. Longing. Love.
- created by jag, inspired by experience of God

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Notes from the Still Point - Part II

The following post was written while on silent retreat and has been transcribed from pen & paper (call me ol' fashioned) after the fact...

Today didn't turn out anything like I'd planned. I guess that's the point of these retreats: to let go of my plans and make myself available to whatever God has in store for me...

I went for a long walk down a nearby country road. Almost an hour and a half of walking and I didn't encounter a single car. And I'd like to set the record straight: there is no such thing as silence in nature. There is so much life happening at any given moment! Being able to quiet my own mind - even for short periods - allowed me to become fully attentive, fully present to my surroundings. Birds... butterflies... flowers... foliage... My favourite flowers were the Wild Columbine. God's palette for wildflowers in this region leans towards a white-purple-yellow combination. With their blood-red flowers, the Columbine would continuously shock me back to the now, should I ever be tempted to stray into thoughts of yesterday or plans for tomorrow.

And speaking of tomorrow!... I'm hoping to have a "no-reading day". Time & space to allow for original thought, creativity, prayer and meditation. God willing, of course!

Quote-of-the-day: "God wills life to be a journey through four seasons, every climate, all the topographies of the soul so that when we have finished it, we can say that we have truly lived it. Well. Whole. With integrity." - Joan D. Chittister

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Notes from the Still Point - Part I...

The following post was written while on silent retreat and has been transcribed from pen & paper (call me ol' fashioned) after the fact...

I'm writing from the silence of Stillpoint. Beautiful day. Sunny day. Sleepy day. My mind is having trouble keeping up with the silence of the surroundings. I have the best of the good rooms: two large windows with one overlooking the Madawaska River.

I walked to my Prayer Tree this morning. They've added a hammock swing this year. Two of my stones seem to be missing. With one for each visit to Stillpoint, there should be nine in all; I only found seven. I'll replace them before I leave, and I'll add one more to mark this stay.

I saw the most puzzling thing: four butterflies resting together in the crook of my Prayer Tree and feasting on what appeared to be a small pile of animal feces! I've heard of "dung beetles" , but the existence of "dung butterflies" is news to me... And right where I usually climb and sit and have a chat with God, no less. Luckily for me, they've added a hammock swing.

Nature surrounds. Nature abounds. God's wonders never cease...

Quote-of-the-day: "My heart is tuned to the quietness that the stillness of nature inspires." - Hazrat Inayat Khan

Monday, May 30, 2005

Beautiful stranger...

Tell me it's happened to you... a complete stranger catches your eye in a public place and you can't seem to turn away. Something about them is so utterly beautiful that you just want to rest your eyes there and take it in. It's not about being attracted to them, it's about appreciating their uniqueness. It's not about a male/female thing... it's about recognizing beauty wherever it may reside. It happened to me on the bus this evening. A young man, perhaps in his twenties, was sitting next to me. His skin was the colour of dark caramel and his hair was dark with loose curls. He wore a turquoise scarf wrapped around his neck. But what seized my attention were his eyes. I have never seen eye lashes like those. They seemed to reach out clear across to the other side of the bus. Upper and lower lashes alike were dark & thick. He was talking on his cell phone and spoke a rich, melodic French that I didn't recognize at first. Was he Moroccan? Algerian perhaps? I don't know for sure, all I know is that I wish I had picked a seat across from him so that I could admire those eyes without straining my neck.

Every once in a while, I see a complete stranger - male or female - and am tempted to tell them how beautiful they are. But I'm simply not that free... yet. Maybe someday, when I don't care so much about what other people think.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Running Man...

More than 99 percent of the population will never run a marathon in their lifetime. I am a bona fide member of that 99 percent. Hubby, however, has secured his membership in the elite "less than 1 percent". Today, he completed his fourth marathon after running the National Capital Marathon. Although the race didn't go quite as he'd hoped, he still succeeded in posting a personal best (or a "p.b.", as they say in runners' lingo). To me, the fact that he finished the race at all is worth celebrating, as is the discipline & dedication he has shown throughout his training. Needless to say, I'm very proud.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Turning to the Dark Side

So, now I know. I know how Anikin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader... and it ain't pretty.

(Spoiler alert: If you plan to see the movie and don't want to know anything about it in advance, skip this post!)

We went to see Star Wars III today. It was better than I expected. I've never been an avid Star Wars fan or follower, but Hubby wanted to see the movie and I thought it would be a fun escape on a damp, grey day. Sure, some of the lame dialogue was still there, but - much to my surprise - so too were revelations of deeply spiritual truths. As my own spiritual path takes me to new places and schools of thought & reflection, I have to say that I am appreciating Yoda's wisdom more and more. I love the way he gathers his strength by closing his eyes and breathing, summoning the courage and the power that is available to him as he becomes still, silent and centred. A practice that we could all learn from... IMO, Yoda also provides the fundamental truth that is the key to the transformation of Skywalker to Darth Vader: Fear of loss is the pathway to the Dark Side. (Or I should say: Fear of loss, to the Dark Side, a pathway is...) It is the need to possess that leads to destruction and misery. In this case, it was Skywalker's fear of losing his beloved - his need to possess that person forever - that opened the door to the forces of the Dark Side. Codependency run amuck.

The movie also offered a reflection of the struggle we all go through at one time or another... the struggle to do what we believe to be right. Anikin Skywalker's transformation was not an easy one; it was emotional, wrenching and ultimately, devastating. I think many of us can see a tiny bit of ourselves in that. When we are being pulled in different directions, how do we discern Truth? And how do we learn to trust our intuition when we are being guided by Fear?

Visually, this movie was spectacular. Everything from the grandeur of the scenes to the subtle nuances of the facial expressions are noteworthy. In one particularly haunting instant, we see Skywalker's eyes transformed following a particular vicious killing spree. I couldn't help but think that - although this was dramatized - it's probably true. How can someone be the same after killing others? In today's all-too-real wars, how many soldiers will come back transformed - never to see the world in the same way?

And so the epic ends where it all began... Except that, now, we know.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

You're not crazy...

...this blog does indeed look different than it did yesterday. I just felt I wanted something a little lighter & brighter.

One of those days...

Today's been one of those days... You know the kind: the energy is just not there. My body feels unsettled and it seems like I'm always a few steps behind a full breath. I feel like crying, but there's nothing I need to cry about. I stayed home from work and I slept... and slept... and slept a bit more. There was a time when I wouldn't have allowed myself to stay home, but thankfully those days are mostly gone. Today, I strive to listen to what my body & spirit have to say.

On 99% of mornings, I wake up and think nothing of getting ready to take on a day at the office. I enjoy my job and I genuinely like and care for the people I work with. So on those mornings, like today, when I wake up and the debate is already raging on in my head - I'm not feeling like my usual self... Should I go? Should I stay home and rest? What will people think? Do I care? - I know I need to get out of my head and listen to my intuition. Something is not right and I'd best take heed.

So, here I am, struggling to let it be alright that I feel crappy. I don't know why I feel crappy - that's just the kinda day it's been...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Small word, big meaning...

Trust: small word, big meaning. These words of wisdom were offered to me by John (of no fixed address). Both John & Tim (see previous post) are two of the many teachers God has seen fit to place in my life. But back to the trust thing... This statement lingered with me last evening as I took part in a small group discussion on "Trust in the Workplace". I belong to a group of people who get together every 6 - 8 weeks or so to explore issues related to spiritual awareness in the workplace, or as some people put it - Humanity in the Workplace. The discussion on Trust took us to many unexpected places... from its relevance to the work environment, to its impact on our personal lives. It seems that Trust does indeed have very big meaning.

A reflection on Trust (or lack thereof) is very timely, given the current atmosphere on Parliament Hill. What does it take to restore Trust in an entire institution? Can it be done? I believe Trust exists between individuals, so where does the re-building begin? I'm also wondering why many people are so eager to distrust Belinda Stronach's motives in her surprising decision to "cross the floor" and join the Liberals. What is it that brings one to harshly judge and mistrust someone they don't even personally know?

If you ask me, we don't trust enough. I'm not talking about blind trust here, coloured by naiveté and an inability to acknowledge dangerous situations. I'm simply talking about an ability to trust that people are making the best decisions they can with what they have at any given moment. Who am I to judge them? And in a spiritual sense, I guess I'm talking about a foundational trust that all will be well when I live with awareness and presence, with compassion and Love. Some would call that Faith.

Obviously, there's so much more to Trust... So much meaning for such a small word.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Gift of the homeless

A homeless man gave me some food yesterday. There's a role reversal that doesn't happen every day...

Tim usually sits on the corner of Albert & Metcalfe Sts. He knows that corner. He knows when and where the sun ray will fall as it bounces off the office towers. He knows how the cold wind traces its way through the maze of tall buildings. I was chatting with him as I was waiting for my bus after work. I noticed an apple on the ground behind him. Is that your apple? He looked back, took the apple and offered it to me. No, you keep it Tim! He responded with a toothless grin and said: I can't eat it. I have no front teeth. Too bad for him - it was a tasty apple.

Lesson learned: Gifts can come from the most unexpected places. Accept them with grace and humour.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Three Chilly Saints

Got this tidbit from my sister this evening. She found it on the Old Farmer's Almanac. Interesting, since she is neither old, nor a farmer. Yet there she was.

May 11 - Three Chilly Saints. May 11, 12, and 13 are the feast days of Saints Mamertus, Pancras, and Gervais (or Gervatius). These three are known as the Three Chilly Saints not because they were cold during their lifetimes, but because these days are traditionally the coldest of the month. English and French folklore (and later American) held that these days would bring a late frost. In Germany, they were called the Icemanner, or Icemen Days, and people believed it was never safe to plant until the Icemen were gone. Another bit of folklore claimed, "Who shears his sheep before St. Gervatius's Day loves more his wool than his sheep."

Considering that we'll be going from +25C earlier today to -1C overnight, that Old Farmer seems to know what he's talking about. I wonder if he also knows that Saint Pancras was martyred by beheading in the early 4th century and is now the patron saint for, among other things, headaches.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

New space...

"When was the last time you did something for the first time?" That's the question that was put to us by Linda Edgecombe at a seminar I attended this past week. Sadly, I couldn't answer.

Technically, every time I wake up and greet a new day, I am doing something for the first time. The next 24 hours are a blank canvas just waiting for me to create my masterpiece. Problem is, too often, I find myself painting pretty much the same squiggles as the day before... or the week before... It's been a while since I've done something completely new. Until yesterday, that is.

I was in my yoga class doing a half-headstand to the best of my ability. I have never dared to go further. My teacher came up to me and asked: "Do you want to go up? I'll hold you!" I was just about to offer my instinctual response of No thanks! This is enough for me... when that question from earlier in the week popped into my upside-down head. If I do this, then I'll be able to answer the question! So I went for it... I didn't stay upside down too long, and I did have help, but I did it nonetheless. I didn't let fear have the final answer. After I came down, my teacher asked me how it felt. I didn't hesitate: That felt... new!

Here's to creating a new space... no matter how small.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Meditative space...

I have a friend who recently wrote in his blog "Good meditation has nothing to do with religion." We are both meditators and share an appreciation for the benefits of maintaining an ongoing practice. In this instance, however, I disagree with him. By referring to good meditation (as opposed to... what, bad?), I think he's missing the point. Meditation is all about non-judgement... all about letting go of concepts such as good or bad. Meditation just is.

And for many of us, meditation is very much about religion. Religare: to bind fast. It's about reconnecting to that mysterious life force within... that force some call God... that force that calls us simply to be. As a practitioner of Christian Mediation, meditation is a form of prayer for me. Richard Rohr, founder and director of the Center for Action and Contemplation, writes:

"Prayer is whatever calls us to detach from our own self, from our own compulsions and addictions, from our own ego, from our own place. We are all too trapped in our own places by virtue of the egocentricity of the human person. In prayer the Spirit entices us outside of our narrow comfort zone. No wonder we avoid prayer: We have to change places."

See more about what my friend has to say about meditation at waldencabin (recently chosen as one of the 10 best blogs in Ottawa by Alex Munter of the Ottawa Citizen!).

One thing is certain: Meditation - it's not what you think.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Occupying my space...

I attended a workshop with Peter Block last February. Over the course of our time together as a group, he invited each of us to “occupy our space”. This idea struck me as meaningful – something more that just an invitation to pay attention. What does it mean to occupy my space? How is it different that simply taking up space? I'm reminded of this every time I attend a workshop or a seminar and the majority of people slink right to the back of the room. You know, the church pew effect? Why are we so afraid of occupying the space we're given?

My hope is that I will be able to fully occupy this space. I want jag e*space to be a place of honest questions and authentic answers. There will no doubt be words like God... confusion... meditation... spirituality... Jesus... dialogue... discovery... If these kind of words offend you, then you may want to find some other space. If you think I intend to preach to you, then you may want to find some other space.

Welcome to jag e*space.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

In the beginning...

Here it is, my own little corner of cyberspace. Who knows what it will become... what I will become? All I know is that I want to start writing again. And the best way to do that, is simply to start writing again.