Monday, May 27, 2013

Melancholy Memorial Day

I've been away from the blog for a few weeks, unable to put two thoughts together through the haze of what I thought was allergies but what turned out to be a case of Sinusitis! I was just barely making it through my work days, coming home and sitting, exhausted and unable to breathe, in front of episodes of Law and Order and DVR'ed episodes of Gilmore Girls.
I finally went to the Doctor who, after figuring out that my left maxillary sinus was completely swollen shut, fixed me up with antibiotics and a steroid which began working instantly, restoring my air passages and delivering much needed oxygen to my brain!

In spite of feeling better health-wise, mentally I've been  melancholy this Memorial Day weekend, reflecting on those in my life who have passed and those who die every day bravely fighting for our country in wars all over our world.

My melancholy mood was acutely impacted on Thursday morning by the terrible news that my manager, a young, charismatic man with his whole life in front of him, passed away in a motorcycle accident on Wednesday. He turned 30 just a couple of weeks ago. Also, he was of Pakistani descent. A Muslim.
Which, of course, opened my philosophical flood gates deepening my reflections on life and death and pondering people and lines that divide.

I attended the visitation for him on Friday at a Muslim Prayer Center. It was a beautiful place where I saw deep spirituality and felt great respect for the culture and religion. Though different in appearance and practice than the religion I was raised to practice, the emotions transcended the boundaries of religious institution and cultural lines and settled in the common ground of being human. I saw tearful family members and friends gathered around his open casket. I heard his mother and sister sobbing and crying out his name. I remembered my own brother's funeral and felt so sad for this family.

I know it's complicated, but in spite of who we are or what our cultural background is, the pain and our expression of pain and loss is universal. We were all invited to view him and pay our respects and say our prayers. That we could all join there in spite of our diversity shows that walls of fear and stereotype are non-existent when something as serious as someone's young life is tragically ripped away. When suddenly we realize all we've taken for granted and that what we had is now lost.

At the risk of sounding ignorant in my idealism, in times like this, it just seems like it should be a simple thing to recognize that our prejudices are unfounded fears and try to open ourselves up to one another a little bit. To see, instead of differences, the common ground. To be fascinated by one another and feel safe running with open arms towards each other to learn about and revel in the wonder of something new and unfamiliar.

In progress:

Look Beyond
Unfinished Acrylic on Canvas
Michelle O'Connor

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

 It was a beautiful sunny day which made it a great day to share with my mom and my family to celebrate Mother's Day!

I got these bright beautiful flowers from my hubby, Jim! They look so pretty on the kitchen table!

One of my favorite snacks is Brie cheese so that was on the menu today!  I warm it in the oven for a little bit to get it all oozy. It's so delicious!

Not the best picture but this is a French Toast Casserole that I made. It's a recipe from Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.
It was super easy to make and it came out great! The Cinnamon Crumble on top really takes this casserole to another level! For the recipe, check out:

Fresh Strawberries and Watermelon were a scrumptious addition to our brunch!

Although the sweet cinnamon french toast was wonderful, bagels and lox made for a great savory option.
 I forget about this tasty treat!
Holy cow, if you've never had this, you must!
 Get good bagels, cream cheese, capers, red onions sliced super thin and smoked salmon. Heaven.

So, after shamelessly indulging in all of these Good Eats today,
I quickly exchanged my jeans for comfie pants, followed by a big cup of Peppermint Tea and a nap!

It was a wonderful lazy lounge-around day spent eating great food and hanging out with my family - even got to hang out with my brother TJ and his girlfriend Brittany all the way in Portland, Oregon thanks to Face Time! 

You know, sometimes days like Mother's Day can feel forced and full of expectations but really, it's about being together.
In my eyes, today was just perfect!

Later this week tune in for my favorite art products, art tips, and art blogs that I love!