Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture
MY HAPPY PLACE

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

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

I have a beloved friend who, as of late, has been contemplating her mortality. I have been careful not to interfere with her process but rather, witness and try to understand what lies beneath her contemplations, her inquiries, and the tenderness of it all. My hope is to be a source of love as she touches upon questions which are uncomfortable and territory which is unfamiliar.

As I go about my life, I aim to listen carefully. And what I notice often are stories of struggle of relationships in families. Themes of frustration. Blame. Misunderstandings that oftentimes hit epic proportions. Battles of will and willfulness. Stubbornness. Ego. Fiery hot tempers. Repeated patterns of hurt and pain. 

And then I see the Hallmark commercials, the Facebook posts, the families which do speak to one another at the restaurant table next to you. And I am deeply struck.

I want to say to many people,
“You don’t know what you have right in front of you.”
“You will miss them when they are gone.”
“You are lucky.”

As I see the eye rolls, hear the yelling, watch the arguments, I think and practically know how real it is in this feeling that many don’t know how much they will miss the very things that drive them absolutely crazy now. The way it takes her 10 minutes to say goodbye. The way she always argues with the taxi driver because she knows a better way to get there. The amount of food that ends up on her clothing. The number of times she hangs up on you accidentally because she still doesn’t understand the phone. The way she laughs. The way she signs off.

*
I came from a family whom I love deeply. Yet, I am someone who journeys through the world solo.
To stand in my sovereignty is the configuration I have learned to cultivate over time. There was a period of time when a holiday would immediately cause me to feel separate and “othered.” But this is not how I feel today.
Today I feel grateful.

I wanted something profoundly different for an extraordinarily long time. Passover ended not too long ago, and quite honestly, my life had begun to feel like I was on my own 40 year walk through the desert.

But I wasn’t. There is no question that it was a long and silent walk. But where I find myself today is that through that mystery, I was lucky. I was lucky to have all that I had for the time that I had it. And that is what I know.

My heart has continued to grow and change, and open and its capacity to love has only expanded.

We never know what is around the corner. Love. Contention. Growth. Forgiveness. Change.
No matter what it is, stepping into it, is almost always an act of courage and deep deep practice.

Everything changes. And becoming takes time.

We may think we don’t want life in the package it shows up in because our ideas about our life have told us that we want or need things to be otherwise. But when we embrace the heart of what sits in us as struggle and stop fighting against it, that long walk in the desert becomes an exodus.

Today I stand in my sovereignty. I sit in peace. I hold my heart open in love, compassion and forgiveness. And I pray that those who I have had the opportunity to love are living very blessed lives.

A blessed Mother’s Day to All.


May 8, 2016

Jill Bacharach




Sunday, March 6, 2016

Practice

Practice.

I want to come clean about what it has been for me.

My body has humbled me when my head longed to go in another direction. My body has humbled me and taught me everything I have needed to learn and know.

But it was only because I listened.

If I was not listening to its pain and cries, I was not embodying or deepening or staying dedicated to my own practice. And I knew it.

When I couldn't walk, there was no where to move.

When I fell countless times from not listening to my inner pace, I knew I was not practicing, but instead, only pushing.

When I found a new language of quiet, so quiet that I could hear my body's instruction, I knew my practice had begun and it looked nothing like asana. It was about giving up an identity which I had only been firmly rooted in and deeply enlivened by  muscle and action and activity and I knew that had to, needed to, change. The cost was too high. 

There was a lot of grief in giving up that identity, but body wisdom is bone deep and it doesn't relent.

I have been in this practice for a long time now. Listening. Waiting. Facing various challenges. And I see there is a difference between daily pain and the alarming pain which grips you, the one that you know means something else. Another great disruption which may mean another long journey. That tethered road you have to look into and wonder life's big questions around.
 

And then you breathe when you breathe, and you are grateful for all of the moments (my teacher Christina brilliantly refers to it as "the fine-print of practice") you experience in your daily life.

My desire is to stay humble. That is my practice. Bow to the the practice and sanctity of deep self-care in all of its evolution. Step by step. To stay faithful to my body's wisdom. To keep listening to all that it has to teach me without negotiating and resisting. To try to find ways to be a humble recipient as the process of renovation occurs again and again.

After the dissolution, renovation.


3.6.16 

Jill Bacharach 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Essential Transitions

When my father was getting ready to leave his body twenty years ago, he was very intentional about saying his goodbyes.

I was the last one he asked to come.

I flew alone from San Francisco to Naples, Florida with two flights in between. It was a long journey on many levels.

My father no longer looked human.

My father and I had never spent more than a few hours with each other at any given time over the course of my lifetime. We mostly exchanged silences and arguments, entirely initiated by me, followed by further silences, initiated and terminated by him. But when he became ill, he was lucky to have a daughter who would push through all of those patterned behaviors.

Even though he didn’t look human, and even though I was quite young, I had the wisdom to commit to seeking the essential pieces inside of him which were calling for the love from his daughter as he was about to leave a body which was failing him on every level imaginable.

In those final days, my father became a man who leaned into me for love. Love which I was able to give and which then flowed between us because there was nothing left to do but that clearing.

We were no longer arguing over pride or pain. Even as we had hugged each other only a few times in our lives, and even as hugging him them was the closest thing to death I had ever seen, nearly breaking several of his bones, there was simply no veil.

Even as his wife was shouting and cursing at me from the other room, like a tormented character from an O’Neill play, nothing else mattered but these moments of pure seeing. Seeing past the fear in his eyes, eyes which no longer resembled anything real. And finding a quiet in me, which only could have been borne from a love we had come to heal with each other and were able to finally show.

Those years of his illness changed how I lived and he knew it, even as it scared him. But I believe it also soothed him to have me by his side, not seeing him as broken, but learning something about what his own essence felt like and how it came to breathe what would become known as a real life.

What are the essential pieces of ourselves that we cannot see but that we deeply feel about those we love? Can we find a way to lean into those places and remember?

This is my practice.


12.28.15

Jill Bacharach

Monday, September 28, 2015

One Hundred Years of Love

I believe our souls hold contracts with each other’s souls. Some of these contracts prove to be unbreakable. 
My most sacred contract was with my maternal grandmother. Our love for one another was unmistakable and we simply would have done anything to create a better life for each other.
Our contract probably began before we each arrived here. But to my conscious knowledge, I always felt the commitment to be fierce. When I was 5 years old, I saw her collapse in front of me from anaphylaxis when we were alone in her home and I was not willing to watch her die. When I was 6, she felt the same when I spent a week unconscious in a hospital room, and with my mother on another continent, she  watched over me night and day; she was my guardian, my heartbeat, she was utterly unwilling to leave my side. 
Our connection went on like this throughout her life including the traumatic details surrounding her death and all that followed.
My grandmother would have been 100 years young today, had she not passed from a severe trauma 12 years ago, this same week: October 1, 2003. 
She was the woman in my life who taught me about the power of love and through her I learned that love never dies. 
She was opinionated and judgmental. She was curious about life and the questions it raised- from the DOW to deep spiritual questions which enabled us to sit in conversation and contemplation about her own death and how it would impact her heart and my own, and my urgent request for her to find ways to contact me from the other side. 
With 60 years between us, there was simply no distance that separated us. She spoke to me of her loneliness and alienation, experiences which we all share, but feelings I knew I could not take away. 
I learned this lesson as a child: it was in that quiet look she had, her vulnerable eyes which spoke powerful narratives and taught me about the stories of her life.
I was the one who told her that her beloved had passed and I was the one who held her when he was removed from their home. I held her in her grief for the duration of her life, which grew to bewilder and confuse her. And she would continue to teach me about that quiet gaze.
This is why I sit now.
When my grandmother died, it was a traumatic event. What was asked of me caused further trauma which initially took at least a year for me to recover from. The sight, the smell, the entire forensic scope. But it took me far longer, more than a decade, to recover from the loss which was thrust upon me with the same ferocity as the accident.
It took time. Time given. Time lost. Time broken. Time forgiven. Time to rebuild. It  took the time it took. It took time.
The reality is nothing in life is ever ours. And nothing is guaranteed. Nothing. The only thing you can count on is who you know yourself to be. And surely that is going to shift and change with varying circumstances, especially traumatic ones. But I believe our core values tend to THRIVE and flourish even in the worst of circumstances.
What I know and have always known is that I came from my grandmother. I came from her and I honor and love all of her nuanced holiness and complexity just as she would want me to honor and love my own. 
I honor our ability to understand what was unspoken between us but was always deeply conveyed.
I honor all that she taught me about the beauty and power of love.
This is the power women possess and pass onto one another.

She taught me the ways love can break you. 
And how it can force you to rise from the depths.
Again and Again.

She taught me about the helplessness of love.
And also the anchor of it.

She taught me the sustainability of love.

She taught me about a love that is so quiet, you have to develop a new way of listening.

She taught me how to navigate my own edges of pain.
And grace.
She led me to learn how to wait for myself
no matter what.

She fought with me.
She fought with me.
She fought.
She fought
So I would know 
I could and 
Would always come out on the other side
Beautiful
And strong
And capable
Of knowing 
I would always be there to hold myself up 
In 
From 
and With love.

In honor of my grandmother and in honor of our collective call to act, in honor of the places in my grandmother and the places in me that push and push for things to be better and for others to rise to their strongest and their best, here is my personal call: 
I’m not buying that anyone and I mean ANYONE, a lover, a friend, a family member, or even a foe, can get in the way of this kind of love, or this kind of power. Not ever. 
In honor of my most sacred of all relationships, the turn of a century and on this Yarzeit, I honor you, I honor me, I honor all women and I say in honor of my grandmother, I’m not buying anything that does not line up with love, strength, empowerment, truth, integrity, dignity, accountability, kindness, engagement, and generosity of pure heart. 

To my grandmother, I thank you for always inspiring my heart to open. And I thank you for teaching me how to love more and from more. 

That is a power women possess and one we must honor and celebrate fully.

Today, I honor 100 years of love.



9-28-2015
Jill Bacharach

Please join our call to action on October 1, 2015 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Japa Mala

It is said that when a mala breaks that you have burnt off some of your karma by your practice. It is looked upon as something to be celebrated.

I understood this and practiced this quite diligently every time my malas broke and I released them with love and surrender and sometimes sorrow, when they broke. However, this time, when my mala broke, I wanted to repair it.

I purchased it in celebration of rejoining with my teacher and repairing (over the course of time) with another with whom I had treated unfairly, a profound breach I had caused and which I had always wished to repair. The entire experience was one of gratitude and honoring. Honoring of movement forward and honoring of my body’s movement back, which was the deepest honoring.

I held this mala reverently.

And as I stood a few mornings later, making my coffee, it completely broke apart. I just wasn’t ready to release it. So I asked for a “repair” which felt like the most honoring way to stay on track with my decision to honor myself fully.

I was told it would take some time. And I was okay with that.

Of all the days on the calendar for it to arrive, it arrived today. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Indeed, it took time. But what a blessing.

I don’t know how long it will stay with me, but what I know now is that this journey has already been an informative and sacred one.

I don’t know where it’s been without me, or before me… but somehow, it holds a truth for me around how much of me has journeyed on.

A few weeks ago, I had a moment when I felt the reflection of myself in every person I saw. And I mean every single person. It was sheer and utter humility. And through that lens my heart felt deeply rich.  

In Japanese culture, items are placed in both hands when presented to another person as an offering. This used to make me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t know how “to be with” this experience. I felt I was being made to feel inherently superior. But I now see it as an expression of humility. I realize now that it didn’t make me feel superior, it made me feel vulnerable. And subsequently, even more humble.

With today be a very sacred time of the year, I wish to offer my gratitude for the return of this beautiful mala. 

As 5776 begins, as I have said before, may we all be guided by deep listening and alignment to the source that replenishes the well of love, truth, hope, kindness, forgiveness, sustenance, generosity, and faith. And may we always seek that which we wish to repair. And may we also learn to release what needs to be released when it is time. 

In reverence and gratitude, may we keep growing in love.





9.14.15

Jill Bacharach