When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”~ Paul Coelho

"Some Mad Hope..."
A young and vital child knows no limit to his own will, and it is the only reality to him. It is not that he wants at the outset to fight other wills, but that they simply do not exist for him. Like the artist, he goes forth to the work of creation, gloriously alone.
Jane Harrison

Jude Harzer Artist/Art Educator

Jude Harzer Artist/Art Educator
My art is a reflection of my effort to recognize and embrace the beauty in the world around me, even when it seems most difficult to find. Contact me at judiharz@aol.com or visit my website at http://www.judeharzerfineart.com

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"Most of us have two lives- the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance."Steven Pressfield

"The greatest freedoms are freedom from regret, freedom from fear, freedom from anxiety, and freedom from sorrow."
Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, November 29, 2013

Project 365: Unexpected Challenges

Project 365 is progressing slowly. It seemed an exceptionally simple objective: to execute a single daily image of a child, given whatever time was available, using any medium. Start date: November 6th, my 50th birthday.

I have not abandoned this concept so early on in the process but have realized more than ever that factors such as real world occurrences above and beyond the typical demands of full time work, family and life in general, potentially impact time, energy and motivation in a way that is down right paralyzing. This goes without saying perhaps but my own deep-seated sense of inadequacy that conceived this basic project to purposely keep my ever wandering mind on track makes personal failure at something so seemingly “easy”, difficult to bear.

As of late, even putting a single stroke on a page seems uninteresting and laborious. My motivation has waned and yet I am scribbling my way through but not with the intended fervor that I had imagined. I am embarrassed by my inability to perform better.

The “real world occurrence”, without over dramatization or a laundry listing of the many heart wrenching details …was the hospitalization of my 73 year old mother two weeks prior to my project start date. In many ways it was expected… inevitable. I knew immediately that this would not have a positive outcome and that she would possibly never return to her home of 41 years. It was confirmed two weeks ago that indeed she will not. This has been excruciating for her to process on many levels, the most significant being that my 47 year old, mentally impaired brother who lived with her, will as a result, also be displaced.

The lives of my sister Beth and I have been consumed by the juggling act of the resulting upheaval. Beth is the strong and gracious one shouldering much of the precipitating burden. Near daily hospital visits and sharing custody of my brother who suffered trauma that caused extensive short term memory impairment 20 years ago, have become the norm. My Mom, coherent and depressed, reluctantly resigned herself to being situated in a convalescent home for the duration of her life. The care she requires is so incredibly extensive, that this seemed the only alternative. She knows this and was relocated this past Saturday to her new residence.

On Sunday morning, November 24th, she flatlined…coded…whatever the appropriate terminology. She was rushed to the nearest E.R. They responded efficiently and effectively, worked furiously to revive her unaware of the “Do not resuscitate” orders which had not yet been transferred from the rehab center to her new "home."

This week, she has been surrounded by family. She is awake without any recollection of her lapse into a permanent sleep or the resuscitation that followed. She is amazingly able to converse and respond quite well. However, her challenges are greater. She is unable to breathe independent of a Bi-pap ventilator. The trauma to her chest from the CPR caused physical damage and pain. Her body is retaining fluid. She is reliant on others to accommodate her basic needs. She is not ambulatory and is trapped in her own body.This is her current state of existence.

Along with my sister,while we are able,  we wait, feed her, talk with her, watch monitor levels rise and fall. I fail to imagine her pain and place. I asked her what she thinks during all of these hours immobilized and alone. “Life and death,” she emphatically stated. However, she does express hopefulness that she will recover but also how tired she is at trying.

I cannot remember why I paint at the moment. In comparison to real challenges, mine are ridiculously small...near non-existent and yet I do not move. I know this is a time to just be and accept events as they unfold.

Project 365: more to come….

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Project 365

Project 365

On November 6th I celebrated my 50 th birthday. In the months prior I began seriously considering the significance of this milestone. A half century of life and experience sounds strange to acknowledge in regard to myself. I remember when I was in high school asking my grandmother who has since passed, if she could "feel" the years and the aging, not on her body but on her mind. She was not much older than I am at the moment.  50 sounded sadly ancient to an anxious sixteen year old. But I was always torturously reflective, sensitive and empathetic in my youth. I was very aware that I would be like her one day and that she had been me...  young, love struck, perhaps passionate, although I think her conservative blue collar Catholic upbringing did not allow for passion of the kind I felt. I desperately needed to know how one gets from point A to point B without transforming into a  stern and worn shadow of their former self. I don't think she ever appreciated my inquiries. They forced her to readdress  choices and regrets. Her response to me: " Life and your body will betray you." I savored these words but knew that somehow I would not surrender to them.

Fast forward more than three decades. Life has happened and my body has changed but neither have betrayed me. I am grateful. The difference between my grandmother and I quite simply is time. I grew up in an era where education, exploration and the power of thought to process experiences was gradually embraced. My life was wrought with challenges...abuse, molestation, my parent's divorce, financial poverty, illnesses, deaths, lost love and more. I didn't always navigate these gracefully but I lived them open eyed , searching for the value and the beauty that lay within or beyond these moments. "This too shall pass," my mother would say. I feel it all passing, the good and the bad. It is as it should be.

So to acknowledge this passage, I will use my art to mark each day of this upcoming year. There are a few things of which I am certain at 50: Always there is beauty of some sort to be found, only I have power to create the life I desire and so very little of the abundance of this world is known by me. I will leave it ignorant but awed.

Project 365 will be comprised of daily sketches or paintings, 5 minutes or 5 hours, of my favorite subject matter: children. There is no real objective other than to persist in practicing my painting despite the busy pace of life. The end result will be a body of work that reminds me that I paused to consider the beauty and that I am participating in life, rather than hiding from it.

I hope that you enjoy my work . I welcome comments and contributions of images of your little ones
Here is a glimpse of Project 365 in process.

Jude, Art and Inspiration