Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture
MY HAPPY PLACE

Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Home

I'm not an electrician. But I give everything my all. I have at least 5 tape measures, some good hammers and I have 3 leveling devices in my tool box. 

Here's what happened:

I spent a few hours in the kitchen with my boy after hanging his photos. Organizing, decluttering, making more space for him, cooking, and standing beside him which felt deeply nourishing. He now stands above the sacred territory where he used to eat and drink. 

About an hour later, one of my outlets short-circuited and sparked. It affected the outlet on the opposite wall as well. I reset the outlet. I reset my circuit breakers, (I even overdid the resets with the circuit breakers, just in case). Then I opened the outlet with a Flat-head screwdriver (not a Phillips-head, as I know the difference) and reset it again. Nothing helped. Just sparks. 

A few hours later, I started this process again. At that point, I realized that what was "causing" the short-circuiting was my Italian espresso machine's three pronged plug. It made no sense to me since I've had it for about 10 years and it was in working order this morning. But very "suddenly," the plug was causing the outlet to short-circuit. I was thinking, the machine is for home use, but the plug looked like it was commercial grade. Those clever Italians... 

I decided I probably needed to call an electrician or buy a new Francis Francis. I unplugged the machine and then swooned for another moment of bathing in my beautiful boy. I poured myself some seltzer, turned the lights out, and decided to call it a day.

My heart felt steady. Then I realized something. Maybe my boy caused a mini explosion (maybe he even broke the espresso machine) to let me know that he is standing with me. Because that is what it feels like now. 

It feels like he is home. 

I felt an overwhelming gratitude being transmitted into me as I was standing where he stood, where I nourished him and where he nourished me deeply in that loving exchange. I felt my body become heavier as if it were landing more fully inside its own vessel. 

Maybe I wasn't able to land until now because I was misguided in my search for him. Sometimes I think that the deepest part of grief is an internalized betrayal we feel in letting the one we love go. Go on to their next place. Releasing them from this one. It's hard for us. Who are we without that definition of that very intimate US? 

But maybe... maybe the landing has not been so much in the grace it took to release him from the form I knew and treasured, but... to let him... to let him in. In whatever way he and I are going stand beside each other with impeccable ease. Maybe that comes not on the exhale, but on the inhale. 

Maybe that explosion was not just another thing that broke down after losing him and had to shift in my life, but a recognition of shift. Maybe. Just maybe, my little heart warrior, working from the other side, was ushering me just as I ushered him, to know without a doubt, that we are still in this great exchange with each other. 

Sparks. Short-circuitry. An explosion by any other name, leading me back to myself. Bringing my boy home. 

I have been forever changed by this boy. And this love. This love? Very simply, this love is my home. 



3.19.17

Jill Bacharach

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Many Ways to Love (lose) a Mother

Today a new friend asked me about qualities I had inherited from you and I responded by saying that we would have to have this conversation at another time.

I felt a well of emotion rise up inside of me and as I drove home, I drove passed my namesake: the Iris gardens.

No. I did not curse you. All I felt was love.

It is a love cradled in the comfort of loss. But knowing that you have been birthed from that cradle and will one day reunite. (Knowing well that reunions come in many forms.)

*
There are many ways to lose a person.

I chose not to speak of it because of my love for you. But it has squandered a part of my heart and kept me small.

Recently, I read a woman’s account of how she is slowly losing her mother through the devastation of Alzheimer’s. My heart ached through most of what she wrote. (The family vernacular alone: a mystery for more than ¼ of my life.) At the end, she posted lyrics which you used to sing to me and it was truly something to feel into. All of that love. And all of that loss. Cradled and birthed in mystery. All of these 48 plus years. 

*

I’m not walking around guarded or angry. I’m not feeling self-righteous or owed.

But there is something I am walking around doing.

Protecting you.

I have been protecting you.

I don’t tell people about this 14- year silence. About the tikkun made 4- years ago which lasted barely a year and the decision you made to move on again in your life without me as a part of it.

Mostly, I have remained silent. I have touched upon this a bit, here, in this forum and recoiled from doing so more and more and more and more. That is on me.

I am innately driven towards protecting you (and my sister). I am driven towards protecting your choices in every possible way. 
  
Announcements are made about executive orders and I am still protecting you. The you from 45 years ago. The you who may potentially live another 25 years.


This is my own covenant without you.

I am a family of one.

It may not be the natural order of things, but somehow, this is what remains from what was given.

So does my love. And so does my forgiveness.


For years and years, I used to think that the world lied about families. About the ways families were meant to be yours forever.

But I no longer believe the world is lying. I had just been hurting each time I saw a film or a commercial or an intact family beside me at a restaurant that embodied that breathtaking quality of love. But then I taught myself something brave: to keep loving my way through every holiday, birthday, anniversary and even every surgery. 

I knew how to love others. And, as a family of one, this was what there was to do now.


Here is what I believe now: I believe we ALWAYS have what is ours. My heart has been through Olympic Trials many times.

You are my family even though you do not choose me. I may not be yours as you do not choose me.

For I am a family of one who loves many. 


I don’t define myself by loss or by what has been lost. I define myself by what keeps giving back to the source of the heart that beats love. And I am always going to want to be intimate with what those things are.

I am a family of one who loves many.

I am a family of one who loves many.


I am a family of one. 

And I will never stop 
loving.




3.1.17

Jill Bacharach 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I AM MUSLIM TOO

Nothing causes me to feel more vulnerable than feeling like I am having a setback due to my neck injury.

The pain in my palms, the numbness in my fingers, the tingling down my arms. Even in the arches of my feet.

I was in an accident. I was riding my bicycle on a bright and beautiful day. I was wearing a whistle, and a bright neon yellow cycling jacket. The man who hit me with his large SUV told the police officer, “I didn’t see her. I was just in a hurry.”

I’m one of the lucky ones. But my life was radically changed the moment I couldn’t pedal fast enough to get out of the way, knowing exactly what was coming. 

The cervical spine was one of the final injuries to manifest. It is the one that causes me to feel the most vulnerable. It causes me to feel the most grief. And it shakes me into unknown territories.

Trauma was opened. And it has been held. The country is now stirring. My body is now revisiting these frozen places.

One of the first most heinous insults to come my way after my collar came off, upon seeing the gash across my neck, was being asked the following:
“Were you slashed by Muslims?”

My response was this: “I won’t even dignify that with a response. Enjoy your day.”

To my Muslim sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, children, and grandparents,

YOU ARE SEEN. YOU ARE KNOWN. YOU ARE LOVED.

I am your neighbor. We are the same. I grieve for how you are hurting now.

I write this for ALL of us who hurt now. I don’t know the resolution for my body’s pain and distress in all of its new reorganizing manifestations. But I do feel afraid. This particular part of the body causes me to feel extremely vulnerable. Anyone who has injury here may understand.

I cannot help but wonder if the fear-driven administration’s tactics are working.

I can turn this post in that direction, but instead, what I want to do is say this: I am hurting and I know I am not the only one. What I know I want to do is to keep finding ways to help each other. No matter what.

Everything that happens to you happens to me and I won’t sit idly by and allow that.

For today and every day, THIS JEW IS MUSLIM TOO. #IAMMUSLIMTOO

FROM LOVE.

#IAmMuslimToo #resist #resistance #NotOneMore #NoMuslimBan #HereToStay #WeThePeople #thisiswhatdemocracylookslike



 2.28.18 

Jill Bacharach


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Alfie

During Alfie’s life, he came first before making any decisions. He was my priority. Always.

I wanted him to have a truly comfortable life. 

*

Alfie.

My most faithful companion. We were more alike than different. He would awaken during the night and I would know it. He’d lift his head, searching for me, and I would kiss the bridge of nose to assure him I was there. Down his head would go and all was well. This was just one of our many silent dances.


*
Alfie and I simply belonged to each other and aside from my beloved grandmother, he was the only other being who solidified a rock solid belief in destiny within my soul.

We chose each other. Plain and simple.


*

Two days ago, I could not stop crying all day. I even cried myself until I was so exhausted, the exhaustion must have finally offered me respite. Well, it turns out that that was the day my boy was ready to return to me. The Vet’s office said they left me a message, but I had no voice mail on my cell or landline. Their office was closed the following day and today was the day I learned I could bring him home.

I have been struggling with who I am without him. And I realize that in a tangible way, I struggled so deeply with the separation in this final reconciliation, wanting to have him here. When he was hospitalized, he did too. He only started eating again after they allowed me to see him. He wanted to come home to me. Not having him with me did not feel right, and my soul must have known he was close the other day as it has been yearning to bring him home.

I have been Alfie’s mom for 14 years and right now, I don’t know who I am without that role.

He was always acting like a sprite little pup, until changes began within this last year. Like he began to show me he didn’t want to do stairs anymore. And he couldn’t make it up onto the bed on his own.

When he became ill, I did anything I could for him and everything to keep him steady and calm. Like during hurricane Sandy. All I remember about Sandy was making sure that Alfie was warm, fed, and never felt afraid. I carried him up and down the stairs using a well-lit torch lamp, and I made certain that he never saw fear in my face or felt it in my body. It was the same during his illness.

What I struggle with now is all those nights. I don’t want to share what happened because caring for this exquisite being was tender and so intimate and breaks his momma’s heart into millions of pieces. But my boy stayed so safely locked into my eyes and never turned his gaze unless he was resting. He was so brave and would awaken with so much light and grace and a love I have never known before.

He let me feed him by syringe every two hours, this little man of mine. Day after day after day, until the days became weeks. His body completely at ease, taking a resting pose and even anchoring his paw around the side of the bed as I had the many syringes lined up for each feeding. And I didn’t know why. Until I did. Because he didn’t want to be without me. And he didn’t want me to be without him. He was preparing me.

Years ago, when a girlfriend of mine broke up with me, Alfie socked her in the eye the instant she said the words.

My heart warrior. That love.


When my hand was shaking last week upon signing his cremation papers after being asked if he had ever bitten anyone, that memory came right to mind. “Does a sock to the eye count?”


*

He was there when I lost my family. He was there when I bought my home. He was there through 3 hip surgeries, one spinal surgery, one shoulder manipulation, lots and lots of rehab, lots of yoga and even more rest.

He made me smile and laugh every single day.

He was the recipient of countless kisses.

He was my one and only.

He belonged to my tribe. And I belonged to his.

And all I know right now is that even though I am completely lost, I am so grateful he is home. With me.



12.29.16 
Jill Bacharach 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Our America

True wisdom instructs us to do more listening than speaking.

I have been heeding this advice this week as much as possible. Perhaps to a saturation point, even.

What I see over and over is that people are panic-stricken and our children are terrified. This candidate ran a fear-driven campaign and he has subsequently, swept the nation with fear. I know of several parents who are taking their children to psychiatrists ranging from concerns to very grave, utterly heartbreaking concerns. I know of adults who are finding it hard to get out of bed. There are kids who are afraid to walk home from school, or even walk the halls inside their schools.

In Our America. The land of the free.

*

25 years ago, I was holding hands with a woman in Santa Monica and a large pick-up truck drove by in an attempt to try to hit us. I pushed my beloved to the side so she would not get hurt and watched as the maniacal crew drove away screaming horrible epithets.

5 years ago, just one week before the Marriage Equality Act was passed in New York, I was literally asked to leave a church in New York City for sitting quietly just because I was holding hands with the woman I loved. 4 years later, the Supreme Court made Same-Sex a Marriage Right nationwide.

We cannot afford to lose our rights. This is Our America. Land of the free.

*

I have been listening. And here is what I have noticed: I have felt the deep collective heartache of so many. It cannot be ignored. I woke up today and I can barely move. I have a titanium plate in my neck due to having undergone spinal surgery. I noticed today that I could barely move my neck. No, I didn’t fall. No, I didn’t lift anything too heavy. Here is what I believe happened…

The fear tactic worked.

My body is responding to the bully and feeling a significant boundary violation. He violated the boundaries of many of my sisters and brothers. He never held himself accountable for it. And our voices are still crying out collectively to be heard. We are somewhat frozen. But we cannot allow ourselves to be.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I hear you. I believe you. I value you. I stand with you. I will not abandon you or this fight. I will defend you. I will try to help you. I love you. I am you.

We have enough momentum now to lean into each other. To validate each other’s voices. To keep moving forward. To listen. To hear each other. To see ourselves in each other and know that we need each other now more than ever. That we ARE stronger together. That we have risen.

THIS IS OUR AMERICA.

This is Our America. And we will rise.

This IS OUR America. We have to keep naming it. Claiming it. Taking a stand for ourselves. Stand in our voices. Stand in our power and in our solidarity. We have to keep reminding each other who we are. We have to keep finding the best in ourselves and in each other. And we have to keep going. We have to keep going. We have to. 

This is Our America.



11-13-16

Jill Bacharach

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Still I Rise

Everything changes. Sometimes this truth works in your favor. Sometimes not.

Not long ago, I “thought” I had experienced one of the worst experiences of my life. Maybe it was. It felt like it. Every moment of enduring that time took immense courage. And when you are in the throes of utter terror, finding this kind of courage seems completely unfathomable.

But this is what I know right now:

I can face whatever life throws my way.

I do want for life to toss me more tenderness, and far less stress, but I know that I can handle life in all of its vicissitudes.

As I have had to manage very significant PTS, I have watched the ways various forms of stimulation have affected me. Loud noises. A car or a person approaching my space too closely or too suddenly. Violent or abrupt language. These things had become violent triggers to my heart.

I made a decision when I knew this: to pour as much love and tenderness and forgiveness into the places inside of myself that needed it for as long as they needed it and for as long as they will need it. “Will” being future tense because this healing is a work in progress.

And it is working.

This love. This tenderness. This forgiveness. Is working. I began to remind myself
to rise.


Every day. Inspired by the poem by Maya Angelou. And what happened next was this: more stress appeared in my life. And so I kept pouring (I keep pouring) more love inside (and out) and here is the difference...

When I was actively in the throes of the PTS, I would hear a loud sound and I would literally shake BONE DEEP.

But today I rise.

I was up late two nights ago reading the alerts about my favorite part of the world, the place where I intend to be laid to rest.

Human beings trapped beneath the rubble. An entire city destroyed beyond recognition.

I watched in a puddle of tears. But steady. Strong. In offering.

I watched contemplating how I could best offer my strength. My light. My inner knowing that I can get through anything.

I sat. This will take time. This tragedy. Lives affected, spreading out in widening circles. There are people who feel this in their bodies who live half the world away.

This will take time.

I sat and recognized that I have been someone who for moments could not see what I see now and this may very well happen again.

But the beautiful thing about change is that sometimes it can happen in ways that are imperceptible. And one day, because you were taking small steps all along, you just find yourself on the other side.

You rise.

I have before and I will again. I’m so grateful I know how.




And every day, I’m going to keep pouring love into all of the places that need it.

8.25.16 
Jill Bacharach 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Soft Is the New Strong 2

I have healed many things in my life throughout my life that I can look back on and garner strength from and say that I am proud of. I can recall the blood and guts commitment. I know how much heart and faith and perseverance was required of me.

I healed my own broken heart many many times.

I healed my broken relationship with my father with the ferocity of a gladiator prior to his transition from this earth 26 years ago.

I healed from a full blown anorexia which was active for 20 years and which I was convinced would companion me for the rest of my days, or as I look back, I see “others were convinced” would companion me for the rest of my days approximately 10 years ago.

I healed my body many times after many surgeries as the result of being thrown by an SUV while riding my bicycle.

I healed my searching and seeking heart after years of silence and having my only desire be to penetrate it after having lived in the illusion that this would make me whole.

There are probably many more things I have healed. But for the sake of time, I want to share what I haven’t healed.

I never healed something that resided inside of me in the form of trauma.

My other experiences resided in my heart, with the exception of the surgeries, but similarly, I had feelings about the experience of the surgeries and could heal the experience I was having through that language with myself. With the anorexia, I knew that anytime I was shutting down, which was truly torturous for me, I needed to find my way back to myself in order to get back on track and be healthy. Recently, I was told the most “splendid” and unexpected words by a holistic practitioner I sought help from: She said, “Your body is indicating that your nutrition is excellent and you do not need any nutritional supplements. Healing.

Trauma.

13 ½ years ago, my most beloved person in the world experienced a severe trauma in the form of a brain aneurism. My maternal grandmother. We had just been together for several days for the Jewish holidays and on the night she went home her accident occurred. Without recounting every detail here, because it is far too disturbing, when I met her at the hospital the next morning, her entire head was stapled together and she was between worlds. Hours earlier we had been speaking very intimately about things I will never forget but in this moment, she could not see me.

I was sent to collect all of the “important documents and jewels” from her home and bring them to my mother. In so doing, what I saw took at least 6 months to remove from my mind’s eye. It was a daily experience both visually and at times visiting me through my other senses, every 10 to 30 minutes.

My grandmother died within 24 hours.

My grandmother died of a brain aneurism.

Head injury.

Some 30 years early, I had a terrible bicycle accident. My mother was on her 2nd honeymoon in Italy and I ended up in the hospital unconscious for several days. I hit the concrete HEAD FIRST and I had to have my entire mouth stitched back together. My top lip and to be stitched back together and the insides of both of my cheeks , which had been split apart, had to be stitched back together as well. I had a severe concussion.

Head injury.

The person who never left my side was my grandmother. She and I had must have had a sacred covenant. She was at the hospital around the clock. I would wake up for moments at time and she was there. Right there. Always exactly where I could see her even though I only woke up for a few minute. Right there.
*
After my grandmother passed, I did not see my family again. That grief lived inside of me like a wildfire. I had to search for ways to tame it and heal it.

Then there were the surgeries.

My life became smaller. I felt much like my grandmother. Healing takes the time it takes.
The cervical spinal surgery was the hardest. It brought up some fear. Some trauma. It still does. That area. They went through the front. And well, I always seem to protect the back. I protect it because there was trauma there.

Then there was an accident. And it was terrifying. It involved my car. It involved a train. There were only 45 seconds between when I got out of my car and the train destroyed my car.

I was in trauma.

I had not felt trauma like this since witnessing what I saw of my grandmother’s accident. How does one get accustomed to such sights?

It took time. It took time for me to heal this.

About a month ago, a friend of mine lost her husband to glioblastoma 4. I felt a torrent of pain. And just 3 nights later as I was going to sleep, one of my dearest and most beloved friends was in a car accident and almost died. She was hurt. She is okay. But they kept saying it was a miracle she was alive.

Suddenly, two years later after the train accident,

I was in trauma again.

I have allowed every torrent come and they have come like tornadoes. The body holds and remembers so much pain.

I feel so sad for that little 6 year old girl who crashed so hard into the concrete. And lay unconscious and bleeding in the street. Who’s mother was away and who’s sister was so frightened when the nurses told her what she looked like when she came to the hospital to visit and then ran home crying and afraid to put her eyes on her young sister.

I feel sad for the woman who lost her beloved grandmother and had to bear the heartbreak of witnessing the most unbearable sights that have ever entered her field knowing that those things happened to the person she loved most in the world. And then played the images over and over in her eyes until god finally let them burn through.

I feel grateful for the woman who survived the trainwreck and sad that she had to see it, hear it, and that it happened at all. Sad that it causes her to grip inside her body and inside her heart.

Someone told me to just let go and that this happened 2 years ago. But you can’t talk your way out of trauma. It has to work its way out of you. You have to keep at it all of the time by being loving and compassionate. By being soft AND by being vigilant. Vigilant in the sense of staying awake and giving space to ALL that arises AS it arises. Otherwise, you are simply traumatized.

I am not an anxious person. I know that I can rise above this. I find that as I forge forward, it comes from the softest parts of myself. And I am really okay with that.

I know I am TRULY lacking in support. Maybe that is a remnant of the family loss that still needs some healing and some love to be tended to. And that’s not so bad. My heart is full of love and fully capable of offering love.

I’m going to continue making offerings. Believe in my own healing. Continue to support others. And trust that even though trauma can take on a life of it’s own, and may not be healed yet, I know that I am on my way.

Maybe the last accident, which shook me to my very core, came to remind me that my grandmother’s accident, though it looked so traumatic and shook me in ways I had never experienced until that moment, was just there to shake me. To shake me and remind me that at the very core of my heart, my grandmother is there all of the time, that she is at peace, and is telling me that both of our heads were NEVER meant to be the focus. That we can heal the head injury. That our hearts are MIGHTIER than ever. That our hearts are one.

Our hearts are mightier than ever.
Our hearts are one.


7/13/16

Jill Bacharach