Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture
MY HAPPY PLACE

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Birthday Blessing


I had the privilege of meeting a woman today who was a deeply skillful listener. I almost wanted to ask her if she was a mother because there was a quality about her which was deeply attuned -the way a mother would get down at her child’s level to understand what was really happening when wise enough to know it was far from what was being presented on the surface.

Our dialogue was easy, because I always appreciate dropping in. But I also felt emotion because she was tending to me deeply.

I have been doing the same tending for a while in my own life and as I sit now, hours later, realizing all that my day included (one person being abrupt and hanging up the phone on me with no desire for a sweet or kind farewell, a great deal of attentive and consistent output with another individual, some of which included intense circumstances which led to all kinds of places of concern and worry and even needless suffering), this simple and kind presence which I experienced today is suddenly coming at me in waves of emotion because as much as I go about my life alone and muscle through, it is indeed, something which first dismantles me but actually, settles my nervous system.

I know how to nurture myself when I am in it alone. But nurturing myself through receiving nurturance can bring me to a place of deep grief. Yes, grief.

I crave, want and dare I admit it, need the nurturance. But I have become so entrained with, so accustomed to the grief that it has become my default mode. And changing your default mode is an act of will. It can be uncomfortable even if the experience feels wonderful. 

My closest friends for many years in my early twenties were hard-edged, tough, controlling, willful and uncompromising people. They were not nurturers. For a long time that was very safe for me. As I began to grow, I began to love nurturers, many of them. But the problem I created was that they seemed to be the busiest people in the world. So they were nurturers but they were unavailable nurturers. The unavailability was something that repeatedly caused me to feel a lot of loss and I recognized that I was recapitulating a pattern of trying to heal a deep wound, but also re-wounding it by the chasing of those who were never around. Ultimately, I began to surrender to deeply intimate connections and then experience profound loss because loss was something which I was struggling with so profoundly in my life. But there were still about three nurturers whom I had cultivated relationships with and maintained relationships with for years, and then decades, proving to myself something big. But one thing which was true and constant (and something I recognized about myself) was the pain I would feel around my worries about each of them (some warranted, some unnecessary). 

These relationships have been deep practices for me. I have learned how to hold a steady seat. Be steady support. Be deeply vulnerable. And always always hold the highest regard for understanding that I have it in me to love even when I have lost so much love.

Tomorrow I will sit with a family which is filled with so much love. One of the things I taught myself along the way is that even as I may have lived without relationships, even as I may have endured a lot of loss, I have the capacity to sit in their presence and heal. Their love doesn’t just belong to them. By witnessing it, I have seen that it becomes a part of me. By stepping in and listening, I open myself to a larger heart which keeps growing and growing and doesn’t go to grief as its default but now goes to love as its default. I bear witness and I participate. I don’t feel separate. The love shared between them becomes a part of my own heart because it is so big. And because I love my nurturer, my own nurturer expands exponentially and I grow by being included at their table. 

Admittedly, there was a time or two when I fell short. But I was learning how to sit at that table and receive something which was very unfamiliar to me, or at the very least, hidden from my existence for a long time.

This family has burgeoned in me deep seeds of growth and love and I am inspired to sit with them, even to hug and kiss the ones who are a little less affectionate and call them forth. Teach them what they have taught me. 

I am so grateful that my default mode did not become my fate, but as an act of will I knew had it within me to change. 

I am so grateful that every day, when we are awake and receptive, we can receive gifts from people which remind us of what we need, who we are, and where we want to continue to go.

I surrender to receiving all of the love which will continue to nurture my heart. And I will continue to point my arrow in the direction of nurturing the hearts of those who live deeply inside my own.

To nurturing. And the cultivation of nurturance in each of our lives. 



4.5.14

Jill Bacharach

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Smoke Signals


Learning how to grow up is something many of us spend most of our adult lives attempting to do.

As I approach my 46th turn around the sun, I look back at my young 22 year-old self and I see in her, a young woman who stood strong and steady. Open to learning EVERYTHING. And yet, her resilience was unparalleled.

I recall listening to my grandfather's breath as he lay dying day after day and knowing, deeply, that his breath had something to teach me. And I listened hard to those laborious whispers. We were in those moments of quiet together and I remained steady because that was what there was to do.

Before he slipped into his coma, he would look at me with deep searching eyes. He had been the most powerful force in my life and he had been so in the lives of each us bound by him, in our family. When I looked back into his eyes, I held his gaze, every time. Because that was what there was to do. When he slipped away, I was the one who told my grandmother that she had lost her beloved. It was one of the hardest moments of truth-telling because she was not ready, even though it was an obvious inevitability as he lay dying. I had to hold her back as the EMT team took him away. So young to be the person I almost wish I were today, but when called upon, we find it. Because that is what there is to do.

As I stood in front of hundreds of people and gave his eulogy, I stood  in the love I had always claimed and there was no second-thinking about who stood before me nor what I was needing to do. I stood for my love. I stood for my grandfather. I stood for a man whose spirit had come through each of us and could never be diminished, not even by death. I stood for the ferocity of my loyalty towards him and I stood for the loss all of us were facing.

Not long after, I had a very different kind of experience, ushering my own father through his dying experience. But that was an entirely separate situation...

What occurs to me now is how much I was holding then. My own father was given a terminal cancer diagnosis. My family was ripped apart by the loss of its anchor. And I stood strong and steady for my grandmother who needed an anchor more than anything.

This is my contemplation.

What do we do when we lose our way? When we lose our anchor? I think we very naturally send out smoke signals to let others know that we need them. When my father was dying, he sent me smoke signals. He needed something from me which only I was able to offer. And after fighting and insisting on all the healing we did during his illness, I am so grateful I was able to offer him what he needed so that he could die with less fear, knowing he was loved by his daughter and knowing, wholeheartedly, that we were at peace with each other.


*

Smoke signals.

One of my dearest friends is someone whom I have seen grow more than anyone I have ever known. And anyone who gets to know me, knows that my favorite thing is transformation and striving for growth. She is a very "healthy adult" and it is one of the things I love about her amongst nine million stunning qualities. She always says something like, "everyone is an adult and everyone can take care of themselves." (She may not be the recipient of too many smoke signals! Haah haah! Actually, that is not the truth at all.)

So here is the thing: when you are the recipient of many smoke signals, it isn't always easy to find the balance of caring well for yourself, "healthy loving," and keeping a healthy bandwidth whilst keeping your heart open and not feeling like you are going to go down with a sinking ship when your particular constitution is to be deeply compassionate. That's me. Some have named me a lamed vovnik, which has been both my gift and my peril. I feel absolutely everything and then it becomes part of my cellular make-up (sometimes to the point of picking up on physical symptoms) and therein, lies the peril. But, going back to being 21, 22 years of age, I would awake in the middle of the night, seeing my grandfather scream in pain and then I would call the next day to "check out" what I had seen in my dream and he was always suffering the very thing I would call about. This sensitivity has only "worsened" as I have aged to the point where suddenly I cannot walk or I have a very distinct pain which is connected to someone who is ill. And what I need to do is cloak myself a bit so that I can manifest "healthy adult" living a little better if this is what I have been given.

I, too, know what it is like to lose an anchor. Or what I perceived as a foundation. And having wrestled with that experience for many many years, it led me to get deeply injured physically (because I felt broken inside), emotionally (because that foundation had not been rebuilt) and I too, reached out for other shores.

It was only recently (very recently) that I learned something which has taken me my whole life to learn. That even when we think we need for things to be different so desperately, and we think that if they are different, that is what will anchor and sustain us, the only way to heal is to let go of that need. To find a way out of that need entirely and be free of it. That need is actually the sinking ship and the only anchor which will save us is the sheer act of cutting the rope which ties the anchor to the ship.

I'm not saying it is easy. It took everything I had in me to release. Every ounce of strength and courage being on the high seas all alone wanting to scream for a life raft and send out smoke signal after smoke signal... but I knew, somewhere deep inside of me, it was the only way I would find my way back home.


*

So, Pop, I think your granddaughter is growing up.




3.26.14

Jill Bacharach


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Marlene


Recently, I posted a status on Facebook which read “some people become heroes in your heart through how they live inside their own.”

There is a woman who has been a hero of mine throughout my entire life, which in two months will calculate to forty-six years. 

She is a mother of three and a wife of over fifty years. And she has been a fiercely loyal friend to me no matter when, no matter what. 

She is a great humanitarian and is probably the busiest woman I have ever known. I imagine her to be busier than the Secretary of State. Her position is one of great importance. She sits in meetings with Ambassadors from all over the world. She awakens early in the morning and she goes to bed late at night. She is always on a flight somewhere across the globe. Almost always away from her husband on their wedding anniversary. But always home to host the Jewish holidays. Always answers my phone calls or answers them quickly. And she has taught me countless things about myself and about my capacity to love.

*

When I was 20 years old I went to Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She invited me to her 50th birthday dinner. The President of Hadassah Hospital was in attendance amongst other honorary guests. When she arrived, she sat next to me. I asked her if she had had a good day. What she said was the most remarkable thing and it is one of the reasons why I have always loved her.

“Yes, because Yoam said he wants to live.” 

She had spent her entire birthday (her 50th birthday) with a 21 year- old man who was burned from head to toe as a result of being in the Israeli army. And the young man was wrestling with issues with life and death because he didn’t want to live that way. After spending that time together, he had decided he would choose to go on. 

For me, it was such an act of trust and generosity and love. And the woman I had always known. The woman who is a hero in my heart. 

She lives deeply inside of me in this way. In ways I could not possibly share with anyone because they are too personal. 

But she has taught me to trust others even when they let have let me down. She has taught me that I can sustain relationships. She has taught me that I can stand up for myself in courage and in strength with love and dignity and that I won’t be betrayed.

She has been my anchor. Always. Every year. 
Every year. 
Every day. 
No matter where. 
No matter when. 

She has told me many secrets which I will never share. 

She is my family.

My chaverah. 
My teacher. 
My light.

I thank her every day. Bless her every day. I thank god every day. For this blessing which will be with me for all time.

Marlene. She is my blessing.

3.23.14

Jill Bacharach


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Choosing Wisely


Almost two years ago, I recall my teacher, Christina Sell speaking about the practice of yoga before a long weekend of asana. I remember her saying that the practice of yoga didn’t make her a better person. What a RADICAL thing to say! Most of us have the impression that we will become better people through becoming yogins. Through practice. Through getting on our mats. Through applying the teachings of yoga and living the yoga off of our mats in our daily lives. 

Today I practiced asana with her, via her website (http://www.livethelightofyoga.com/) after not practicing much asana for a very long time. After practicing, I noticed something happen. I heard the voice of anger arise inside of me. It was immediate and it was true. 

Several days earlier, I had been meditating and I heard a different voice arise. I listened hard. It wasn’t a pretty voice. I kept listening. And for many days, I worked with it to hear what it needed to express. I kept doing the practice. Listening. Not pushing it away. Honoring a voice that was, indeed mine. It was hard. It was necessary. I am sticking with it. As yogins, we do our practices from beginning to end. We make the decision not to bail when it is uncomfortable. We make the decision to learn from the uncomfortable. 

I was reminded of what Elizabeth Gilbert came to in Eat, Pray, Love.  That essentially if “we are brave enough to set about on a truth seeking journey- and if we accept everyone we meet along the way as a teacher,- then the truth will not be withheld from us.” Her words in her book are so poetic, they are actually healing. My reason for raising it is that I believe this to be so. And in so believing, I believe this truth is the closest thing we get in life to knowing god. I believe that when we get in touch with our most essential nature we become a part of god and god, a part of us.

That, I believe, is what yoga and meditation offer us. A peeling away of the barriers we build up which guard us from the truth. Our practices bring us back towards our most essential nature, whether we wish to face it or not. 

*

This morning, for instance, I decided to go back to sleep after I had awakened. I had a very lucid dream. In that dream, I was screaming at the top of my lungs at someone I have felt deeply betrayed by. My words were not harmful. They were just loud. And the anger was ancient. I was carrying anger for my elders. I was carrying anger for my beloveds. I was carrying anger for my friends. The anger was expressed in a blast. I, the yogin, was not beyond it. The dream afforded me an opportunity life cannot. 

I had to breathe through what I had just seen so vividly when I awakened because it was not pretty. The yoga un-peels the layers and gets to the core. Sometimes the taste is bitter, but bitter medicine is potent, powerful and clarifying. We will never feel “pretty” on the outside unless we fully acknowledge the bitter tastes which live inside of us and honor them whenever they arise. 

We are always more than the sum of our parts, but we must claim all of our parts in order to be whole.

Yoga doesn’t do this for us, but slowly, by moving our bodies, we change the alchemy of our bodies and then we actually begin to change the thoughts in our minds if we stick with it. The truths are there. But they are not all of who we are. They are just component pieces. By letting them be heard, touched, voiced, they slowly begin to settle and we can actually learn how to love and forgive them because they are part of us. Beautiful. Bitter. And bold. 

Yoga doesn’t make us better people. It helps us become integrated and whole. But only if we choose it.

Choose wisely.

3.2.14

Jill Bacharach

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dear Yogaglo


At the end of the film “Out of Africa,” Meryl as Karen Blixen utters the words, “He was not ours.  He was not mine.”  

This was such a painful moment.  Yet, such a deeply penetrating teaching which if we can grasp in our lifetime, we clearly are among the lucky.

*

Since my many surgeries, I have only practiced asana a handful of times skillfully, mindfully, watchfully while holding with great attention, the compassion of my body’s needs.  Last week, something happened which aggravated my past injuries and I have been experiencing a lot of pain on a daily basis, not to mention fear, sleeplessness, and a whole host of things which in and of themselves have required a true practice to quiet down.

Today, I finally set out to practice asana with Christina Sell on Yogaglo.  A class which I know has healed me many many times in the past.  I finally moved my weeping body with a faint whisper of something I saw an acquaintance post on Facebook just a few days ago, “Nothing gets between me and my Mat.”  The sweet remembrance of that inspiration pulled me to trust my “go to” place to heal.  The infamous Woody Allen is known for having said “80 percent of life is showing up.”  Some say he said 90%.  Personally, I would go with 90% and leave out Woody, altogether, but I do like to give credit where it is due.  

So, it took everything inside of me to roll out my mat today.  I thank Beth for the inspiration.  And I thank Christina for my deep trust in her.  I was stunned to see that I pushed myself to get on my mat.  But I did so knowing that my goal was to get out of the pain I was experiencing.  

Well, everyone probably knows this BUT me by now, but Yogaglo has removed ALL of Christina’s classes.  Every single one of them.  

We all know about the history behind what has been happening with the patents and I have no wish to dispute anything here.  But I just want to say that here it is: a big teaching.

In Buddhist terms: non-attachment.  

She was not ours.  

But where do the classes go?  The brilliant hours of work which truly inspired and helped so many of us?  

I have learned through the process they belong to Yogaglo.  But dear Yogaglo, what do you intend to do with such truly useful and beneficial material that is helpful to the countless numbers of us who truly need it?  

Isn’t YOGA about giving?  Making true offerings?  

I like to believe and need to believe that it is.

In the words of Christina, “Dignity is always relevant and Self-respect never goes out of style.”

Yogaglo, I sure hope you can learn from our wonderful teacher.  


Respectfully.

Jill Bacharach

2.11.14

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What's So Uncomfortable?


Voltaire said, “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Yes.

As I move further and further into life and further into and out of grief, I realize more and more how defiant I am about Voltaire’s words.  How steadfast I have been in this position much of my life.  How clumsily I have interrupted others at times, in order to defend a beloved’s right to speak her needed truth.

I have emerged from a “sentence” which has informed much of my adulthood and I can never go back into the silence I have emerged from.

Today I saw that I began to place myself there as if that would be the solution.  From feeling hurt and sad and harmed, I began to think that maybe just taking time away would simply feel better... But once I realized what I was doing, I caught myself in my raw grip and said “No.  Be uncomfortable and try something different.”

I made a call and and it was difficult.  We cannot expect others to stand where we do.  Show up as we do.  Dialogue the way we want to dialogue.  I read just yesterday that “expectations are nothing more than premeditated resentments.”  (I wish I knew who said that- I think it is genius!  It went around Twitter and various religious blogs... but I don’t know the original thinker... I wonder if it was VOLTAIRE?  Haaaah!  Haaaah!)

BrenĂ© Brown says the following: “I think if you love someone, and you’ve got a struggle that you’re not getting a response back to, then it’s incumbent upon you to reach back and say, ‘I love you, and here’s what I need from you.’” 

I believe in that “wholeheartedly.”  Goes right back to expectations.  It’s almost hostile to expect the other person to know what you need.  It’s insane, actually.  We are responsible for getting our own needs met.  Period.  But I also believe that one of the greatest acts of kindness we can offer one another is our honesty.  No matter how difficult it may be to speak or to hear.

I sat in a silence for 10 years wanting only to know the truth.  Once I heard it, (and it was undeniably awful) I could barely move.  But from that pain, I was actually able to make the decision to move forward.  And move forward from love.

When we withhold the truth from the people in our lives, what are we actually doing?  Why are we even engaging with them?  

Personally, I don’t know how to engage without a direct line to speaking truthfully.  I have memories of being the same way as a small child.  Exploiting lies and being hushed.  

Perhaps I was in a hurry to get to things faster... 

I notice that I get impatient at times when I ask a direct question and there are paragraphs and paragraphs of language spoken before anything of substance is addressed in reference to my question.  

I can, in fact, BE a very patient person.  

I have sat with terminally ill patients who have been strangers and who have been beloved.  And I have sat and sat and sat for days and days just “being with.”  Knowing that was all there was to do.  To simply show up and to love.

But when it comes to interpersonal fiery dynamics, I am very pitta and I require something else.  If I ask a question, I want a truthful answer spoken to me.  I don’t want silence on the other end of the phone.  I’d rather hear, “I’m not comfortable with this conversation.”  

Honesty.  I just want raw, unencumbered honesty.

So.

Today I saw something in myself.  

I decided to withdraw from feeling deeply hurt and then I said to myself “but what good is that doing to your heart?”  So instead, I took a step towards... My compatriot was not eager to engage and decided we had already had this conversation.  But I pushed further.  I said I was angry and hurt because there was a behavior which was never once acknowledged.  Not once.  And I cannot step in and out without warning signs.  It is not acceptable to me.  All I ask is for the other person to own his or her part.  I don’t need to know why.  I don’t need to unpack it.  Even as my preferences would be to do both.  I just need the truth to be acknowledged.  That’s all.  Done.  

Done.

If you want to know me.  If you want to be a part of my life.  You have to speak the truth to me.

And you have to be willing to hear it from me.  

“I love you.  And this is what I need from you.”  

It’s actually pretty simple.  But it has to be a way of life.

That’s all.

12.7.14

Jill Bacharach

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year


2013 called me forth in every way imaginable.  Basically, it kicked the crap out of me.  It started earlier.  With a spinal surgery at the end of 2012.  So subsequently, I had the great fortune of beginning 2013 recovering.  And I was recovering on many levels.  

Yet, I was on a quest to heal.  But this quest was not a year old or 9 years old, it was ancient.  And in 2013 I entered the “dark night of the soul” in order to heal it.  I laid the gauntlet down and faced my greatest demons, my deepest wounds and subsequently hurt even deeper in order to begin the process of healing them.  That is the function of entering the dark night.  It is the beginning of suffering and hanging on through the pain because you have deep faith that there will be redemption from the pain at the end of it. 

2013 called me to task in every way possible.

I began to heal relationships which I have longed to heal for a very long time.  And I remember someone asking me how it felt to be “healing?”  I said it was painful.  It was and it is.  Healing sometimes, is in fact, PAINFUL.  I have learned this the hard way.  Each of us arrive where we do at our own pace and we are willing to be honest or vulnerable or fully human when we allow ourselves to be.  Part of healing a relationship is tolerating and “allowing” and forgiving each other our own humanity.

However, sometimes, a person need only show up and another is triggered and in pain.  I see this happen in families very often because the pain of the past hasn’t been healed or even spoken.  In families, we are often hemorrhaging into our past because we don’t get the opportunity to utilize one another to heal what remains unhealed.  Either because we have lost each other through death, alienation, fear, or worst of all, indifference.   

I have spoken a lot here about acceptance.  I have spoken a lot about the practice of forgiveness.  These are practices which we practice on our own.  Practices which we do for our own selves and for our own salvation.  

Recently, I heard someone say that the best thing to do is to have no expectations and to exist from “that place.”  That sounds smart and great in theory.  

Just expect nothing and be grateful.

But as I enter this next trip around the sun I wish to express the hard truth about who I am and how I aim to live in 2014 and beyond.

Here goes:  

I am going to live and express myself from my full power.

And rather than expecting NOTHING, I am going to continually expect to be MET.  Otherwise, whomever I encounter will only get what they offer.  No more no less.  

I am going to stay truthful and fiercely loyal to my boundaries and I won’t allow my boundaries to be breached.  

And I am going to continue to live every day with an open heart even in this world which can be cruel and crushing and which has hurt me in ways I wish to never encounter again.  

I am going to stay fiercely loyal to my heart which came here to love.  Every single day.  

And I will be wise with its compass but I will be determined to continue with its quest to love and to stay open to loving.  

To healing.

And to forgiving.

It all begins now.

May you be held in love.


January 1, 2014

Jill Bacharach