Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Painting of The Pianist in the Warsaw Ghetto


On this day in 1943, April 19, the Warsaw Uprising started.
The thumbnail print, cut from a contact sheet, is the only image that remains of The Pianist in the Warsaw Ghetto that my father Jaap van Praag (1898-1969) painted in the early 1950's.
He destroyed the original, because he couldn't stand looking at it. Too painful. Even when he showed me, his young child just this tiny picture he wept.






This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Remembering - Japanese-American Exclusion Memorial

It's 75 years ago that Japanese-Americans were forced to leave their homes. Tomorrow, March 30th, the public is invited to attend several events at the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island.
Coming from the Netherlands to Seattle, I know of two, no, three distinctly different points of view in regards to the role or position of the Japanese during WWII.

  • Some of my older Dutch friends were, as little girls, imprisoned in Japanese camps in Indonesia, the adult males in their families tortured if not killed.
  • Most all of my Japanese American friends' families in the Pacific Northwest were interned in camps in America. 
  • And then there's the memory of our beloved friends Shinkichi and Ferdi Tajiri.

While the Tajiri family was interned in the US, Shinkichi joined the 442nd Infantry Regiment to fight the Nazis in France, Italy and Germany. After the liberation, Shinkichi didn't want to have anything to do with the country that had betrayed his relatives and friends so badly. He returned to France to study with Zadkine in Paris. There he met Dutch soft sculpture artist Ferdi. He relocated with her to the Netherlands. They made their home and raised their two daughters Giotta and Ryu in the southern province of Limburg.

Thanks to Giotta I first learned about the ambiguity presented by "Japanese camps".

Over time, I learned it's important to not just go by the heading, but to take in the whole story. If you learned one thing, there still may be another point of view that's equally important and equally true.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Donald Trump's Negativity Depresses | Obama's Speech Empowers | Hillary Clinton's Fortitude Inspires

President Obama's DNC speech was exactly what I, what we needed.
Trump's hateful negativity has had a profound effect on me, his campaign makes me feel sad and disgusted. Hateful negativity has an effect on the way people in general are trashing one another. It's like he's given everyone a pass to attack, and tackle, and stump down on whoever they don't like, for whatever reason. That's depressing.
Yes, Trump's negativity and ugliness, his name calling, seeps into our personal lives, into interaction with strangers and loved ones. There's no escaping the vitriolic messages.

And then, when I think we've reached the pits, OBAMA'S SPEECH. His words are lifesavers.

I know I don't have Hillary's strength to stand up against major bullies, but I'm inspired by her fortitude. That's what we need in a world leader.
Where Trump gets me down, HILLARY GETS ME UP.

I'll listen to the man again, just to hear him say we're not down and out, because, that's just trashing of what's good.
We're good, we can be better, but we're good, and great too.


This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Changing Your Name May Change Your Life - Mystical Kabbalah and Numerology

My day started off well, not only was I startled awake early enough to hear a garbage truck a block or so away, and roll the containers out just in time (wearing windbraker on top of housecoat), the crunch underfoot of frosted grass and crisp air on my cheeks woke me up all together. The result? I'm seated at my favorite table at Caffe Vita before nine o'clock, before the Saturday morning crowd arrives.

Quickly scanning Facebook notifications to see what's up with friends world wide before opening my work in process (WIP) I see a friend posted the question:
What is your word for 2016?
Hers is CHANGE. 
Change, I think, duh, the one thing you can be sure of in life is that nothing will stay the same. Perhaps everyone gets the same outcome?

Tree of Life - Eli Content 
A sucker for words, and distraction before going to work, I click on the link and am asked to fill in my name. For instance "Tina" the App suggests. Now I wake up for real. I'm not going to fill in Tina, nor just Judith. If were talking Numerology I'm going to enter my full name.Numerology is related to the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical system that calculates the effects of numbers on what happens in the universe, and helps us to understand the meaning of life.

Numerology allows you to be as succinct or specific as you like. While you can't mess with your destiny number —unless you're a crook— after all, your birthday isn't set in concrete until The End, you can adjust your name whichever way you like.

Try filling in your given name (in my case all four first names my parents gave me), and comparing that with the name you use when you introduce yourself to someone. What happens when you leave out your "middle" name as Americans call what we Dutch see as the second first name?
And try your nick name instead of your given name, or add or leave out your spouse's name.
If you don't like the outcome, play around with letters, add an initial, or use just initials.

Playing with numerology is a great way to see if you can influence your life. If that sounds weird, think about it.

What if Madonna had gone into business with her given name Madonna Louise Ciccone? What if Lady Gaga went around as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta? 

When you want to make a change in your life, look at your name, is it fit for the adventure you hope to embark on?

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Walkabout for Creativity

Coming to Seattle, I was astonished by how many people preferred to "visit" on foot. No chatting in cafes over coffee and apple pie, but strolls (a paper coffee cup in hand) or brisk walks through one of the Emerald City's approximately 200 parks. More often than not, we would forego window shopping and trot up and down boulevards with views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula, or downtown with the Cascades and Mount Rainier as backdrop.

People watching from side-walk terraces had been a favorite pastime, but these active visits were right up my alley. My walks elsewhere had been solitary, now I was getting to know people as well as Seattle's seven hills, finding my way around Queen Anne, Phinney Ridge, and West-Seattle the way only walkers and cyclists do.

Talk about cyclists, being Dutch my main form of transportation back home had been a bike,  yet in Seattle I couldn't get used to pedestrians passing me while I was struggling up hill on my bike. So I took to walking up and down the hills instead. Within a few months my Achilles tendon acted up, the verdict, no more walking uphill. A year after our arrival I called on my doctor complaining about sharp pains in my heels. He told me I had worn out my foot pads, taught me how to tape my foot, prescribed anti-inflamatory meds and told me not to walk downhill anymore because the shifting of weight on my feet caused to much friction. The solution? Take the longer route, zig-zag up or down hill, or taking the bus to level ground. Walk I would.

As a young stage designer I told a reporter friend who had invited me for an outing on his boat that I couldn't go, because I had to come up with a design concept for a play.
"Don't deprive yourself of outings, going for a walk, a bike ride, or an afternoon on the water. Your brain continues working on the project in the background, subconsciously you're solving any problem by not focusing on it, but doing something relaxing, or exercising."

That afternoon I chose to believe him, and I'm still thankful I did, for I learned an important lesson. Back in my studio after boating and dinner with strangers along the shore of the IJ, an idea popped up I had not thought of before. So, the outcome of a Stanford Study that walking improves creativity doesn't come as a surprise to me. But the same could be said for road and boat trips, or building costumes for that matter. Anything that transports you away from your familiar, whether for real or metaphorically, will trigger the little grey cells to do there work uncensored.

As for my feet, it took getting rid of high heels, years of physical therapy and exercise before the plantar fasciitis healed, but today's bouncy shoe soles make it possible to adhere to my credo:

When in doubt, go for a walkabout. 



This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Quest for Love of Self - Getting Rid of Toxic Shame

Some might say I had a difficult childhood older parents, one with double PTSD (WWI + WWII) the other suffering from chronic psychosis, both suffering from losses.

Yet, I count myself fortunate that my parents loved me and showed me their love, however age inappropriate my father's sharing of wise lessons may have been at the time, and however confusing my mother's actions and though patterns.

In 1974, at eighteen, I came to America as the spouse of Albert Alberts, a nine-year-older Post-Doctoral Fellow, with a position at D.J. Cram's lab. Wanting to find out what my possibilities were to enter UCLA as a student, I made an appointment with a counselor at the career center.

At the end of the session the counselor deducted I had a rough, and unconventional start, but "your parents showed you their love, and that's a good basis."

People deprived of unconditional love may carry the shame of unworthiness for the rest of their lives.

And here I feel the need to cry: No, no, no, don't let that be so!

Something can be done to mend and heal that early pain
It won't be a walk through the park, although a walk through the park may be healing during that difficult and worthwhile quest for love of self.

Take 3 minutes to read Ross Rosenberg's enlightening post 
"Unearthing & Ridding Yourself of Toxic Shame", and then take action, find yourself a good therapist, and embark on that quest.

Yes! You are worth the trouble, you deserve to rid yourself of shame that has nothing to do with you!

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License