Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Next Trip

I have been looking for a job for several months and the truth of it is, it is a pretty ego-bashing endeavor no matter how much humility one possesses.  And I would say I have a fair amount.  

The other day, as I was filling out a questionnaire for one of my job applications, one of the questions which appeared was “What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?”  I took a deep breath and I knew immediately.  “My compassion.”  

I figured out a way to answer the question succinctly and poetically, and I felt okay with my answer because it is the truth.  But quite honestly, my fierce truth-telling may also be a deterrent in successfully landing a job as well.

Compassion.  I am far too compassionate and although this may be a good thing, it also has the capacity to take me out.  I feel and absorb the pain of others far too deeply and I suffer as a result.  It has been this way for me ever since I was a very young child.  

I have told this story before, but when I was six years-old, I saw an animated Christmas special about an orphaned girl named Roseanne and she began to sing a song with lyrics including “I’m all alone in the world.”  And at that tender age I began to cry.  But it was a cry I had not experienced before and I was utterly inconsolable.  I was bereft about this little child who was just like me but had no one to turn to.

Looking back, 38 years later, I understand that I was crying for myself but did not have the capacity to put words to these feelings.  Every time I feel “too much compassion,” there is a part of myself that is identifying with the circumstances which come to life inside of me and feels the pain of the truth I see before my eyes.  The pain of tragedy, of death, of loss which takes so many forms.  


Recently, two acquaintances of mine told me that they became an “US.”  And this was one of the first moments in a while where I could truly feel myself again.  I found myself joyful and buoyant and smiling every time I thought of them.  I found myself blessing their union every chance I could.  I found myself tickled with happiness even as my own union was experiencing pain and rupture.  I found myself feeling nothing but love, which is so beautiful because I truly believe that love is generous.  And so this news was affording me my own experience of myself, and for that, and for them, I am deeply, irrevocably grateful.  Not to mention this is an utterly “genius” union.  

It is poignant to mention this now because as this cycle around the sun comes to a close, many of us are experiencing a knock-down-drag-out fight with the world.  Those of us who survived the Hurricane, did so with pride and dignity and community.  Those of us who survived Newtown, did so with few words but prayers which were heard around the world.  But many of us are exhausted from this year for reasons which are our own and unique to each of us, but which cut so close to bone.

What I see with myself is that as I look around my home, I could give it all up.  I am so grateful for my beautiful dog who entrains so deeply with me and I am so grateful for the love that I feel in my heart for all whom I have placed there and I hold there with nothing but tenderness and exquisite care.  

Of course, I need to find a way to pay the bills and that seems to be a tremendous pressing cloud of fear and terror right now, but when all is said and done, all that matters to me is that those I love know it and feel it and understand where it germinates from.  I could keep giving away my possessions and it wouldn’t count for anything.  They could be taken from me, and it wouldn’t count for anything.  If my heart isn’t beating, listening, loving, honoring and bowing, then I have gone very far away from the source from which I came.

I hope that this next trip around the sun will be beautiful and inspiring for us all.  I hope it will be filled with truth and hope and trust and forgiveness and a powerful love that we can draw faith from.  

I hope.  

I hope this for us all.

And I won’t give up hoping.

A blessed, safe, healthy new year filled with love for all.


Jill Bacharach

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's Not Just Pie!

For much of my life, I have felt like an outsider looking in.  Peering in through a window or a doorway, a fence or a gate, at the action and feeling “apart” from it all.  Wishing I were a part of things, but feeling separate.

There are moments in films, when the action slows down, and the protagonist begins to move in slow motion and things start to sound louder in his/her head and clank and crash about and you see him/her walk away slowly to move away from the crowd so as to compose him/herself.  Those are the moments when I feel the director pulling us up close in order to feel our own humanity.  What it feels like to feel alone and alienated amidst a crowd and amidst the noise inside your head all at once.

After experiencing a very traumatic loss nearly a decade ago, I began to recapitulate relationships which were beautiful and strong and loving and which would ultimately fail, thereby creating loss again.  This happened several times over the last decade although I am sure I am not alone.  But what I have seen is that I have become more and more withdrawn, even as it is not my nature to be that way.  More and more isolated, and more and more reclusive.

During Hurricane Sandy, a neighbor of mine offered me a chance to shower in her home because she had electricity and finally one day, I accepted.  It was one of the most nurturing moments I had experienced during that week and one I barely allowed myself because there were other issues to tend to on that same day.  

Just a few days ago, a community of neighbors of a dear friend of mine gathered together to bake pies to bring to Newtown, CT to help with the grief effort there.  When I arrived at the home, it was bustling with people all cutting and slicing.  Everyone was doing something.  And everything was running like clockwork, even as the smoke alarm went off several times.  

So many people filled this house and without question, showed up simply to help.  It was awe-inspiring to me (someone who grew up on the outside and then began to re-inscribe that idea that I was somehow “safer” on the outside).  My heart felt so safe because I was there simply for the purpose of giving.  I wasn’t there to speak about myself.  I wasn’t there to do what I could not do.  And I was proud to watch myself tend to those places.  Whereas in the past, I would’ve lifted a house over my head, given my recovery status, I was not lifting anything.  But work, I did.  I sliced apples as thinly as I possibly could and at one point, I was so enamored, that I learned how to bake pies!

It was so beautiful to me to bear witness to everyone’s techniques.  Some people were mechanical.  Some were organic.  Some were nervous.  Some were free of worry altogether.  Some were so grounded, you could plug yourself into them for days.  There was so much to learn from everyone there.  But just to be there was part of my soul’s journey.  Just to be part of a community desiring to help another community.  

It was beautiful.  

And I learned how to bake a pie!

Those pies are now being distributed in Newtown, CT. with so much love, and heart, and the depth of how community comes together to offer hope in a time of darkness.

God bless all who helped in this effort, and god bless all of those whose hearts need to be held in light.  May we all continue to find ways to be with each other now.

Go to  to donate to this effort (or even just to get the recipe).  


Jill Bacharach

Friday, November 30, 2012

God is in Everything

From the time I was two years old, loss and grief have been a theme which continued to play out in my life.  As I grew that play turned harder, tougher, longer and more virulent.   

Each time, the growing pains came with a magnitude of costs to me and now as an adult, past middle-age, the costs are becoming more challenging to recover from.

I recall an image of myself as a child.  Inside what I felt was deep sadness, but my will was so darn resilient.  The image which comes to mind is the image of me in my “happy place.”  In the water.  I don’t know if I would really look happy to other people, but that is never something which has carried much weight with me.  I see it.  I can see it.  I know what it meant to me to be there in that moment.  Carried and held by the water.  Maybe it was from another life.  Maybe I was escaping.  But it was there that I was buoyant and happy and fully alive and joyful.

Grief can take you out.  And you can choose to allow it to define you.  Joan Didion wrote about it in The Year of Magical Thinking.  She said “people who have lost someone have a certain look... recognizable to those who have seen that look on their own faces.- They look naked because they think themselves invisible.”

Some people sit in the questions of why.  They are legitimate questions.  But I do not find them useful to me even as I hurt.  Even as I have responded to hurt by cultivating relationships which have recapitulated the precise hurts and losses I have needed to heal.  The precise things which I have set out to heal and have set my life on a trajectory to heal.  Even as... 

I recall a highly regarded teacher offering a teaching once which said, “If god is in everything, then you cannot say, BUT NOT in this cancer.”  

I know how hard that one is to swallow.  Cancer.  I know.  I get it.  You may not believe me, but I get how hard it may be to begin there.  But that was the transmission I was given that day and it had a huge impact.  

We can spend our lives fighting against what we have been given or we can step into what we are presented with.  I am not like too many who come across my path.  I feel it all.  Those who know me see it in my eyes.  I have watched how many have run in the other direction.  But I am committed to a path of being truly who I am and not a version of what makes another more comfortable in my presence.  This path is about getting to the core of ourselves and our deepest understandings so that we can bring our greatest clarity and and clearest hearts to one another so that we can come from love and not from hurt.  Does the purity of heart scare people?  Reports have come back to me that it does.  But all I can do is keep being faithful to my path and my own inner work and my own healing and pray that I am doing good work, and loving from the clearest and strongest place that I can.  Keep repairing the fractures which live inside of me and not allow them to be passed on.  Because those fractures have harmed me but I cannot not allow them to become me.  What I can do is to allow the harm to stop here.  Right now. 

If god is in everything, god is in everything.  God is in this karma which we have been given.  Yes, I DID think the hard part was over.  But maybe it just isn’t.  And sometimes words mean very little.  Sometimes its even hard to find faith.  Sometimes things fall apart completely in ways no one could possibly even imagine before anything can even begin to be rebuilt.  

But if god is in everything, then god is in everything.

A gesture.  The timing of when a question is asked.  The way in which you bear witness.  

I saw a woman today and she had a very pronounced limp.  She had a job and I have been looking for work for 7.5 months to no avail.  She was beautiful.  I wondered why she had that limp and thought how beautiful that it wasn’t an obstacle to her livelihood.  I felt so delighted to bear witness to that.  We began to speak privately and because the scar which spans across my neck is so obvious, it opened the door to a comment about herself and so I asked what her disability was.  She told me.  It was a stunning conversation.  She felt held with respect and I felt honored to listen with love and compassion to the depths of what few would ever ask.  

How she changed me.  Just exquisite.  

Step by step, I will not be defined by that look which is “recognizable to those who have seen that look on their own faces.”

I dedicate my inner life to healing and to loving.  

Some of the lights have gone out lately but when I see the reflection of that little girl who carried so much sadness but willed herself back to life, I know that god is not just in everything... but more specifically, in me.  And in everyone of us.

God bless.


Jill Bacharach

Friday, November 23, 2012

Right Now... I Can

I am having a terribly difficult time finding a way to be quiet right now.  I am awake at night and I would love to go to sleep during the day but I cannot.  I cannot .  I am truly, unequivocally, indisputably, afraid.

I am chasing my own self and it is a great challenge for me to simply get quiet.  I have never in my life experienced anything like this.  I see now what it is like to experience fear on a level of PTSD.  

Where do I begin?

Which problem do I address?

I feel like I need to borrow someone else’s brain to help me think things through so that I can stop and slow down and rest a bit.  

The trauma underneath has been there a very long time and I have addressed it on many levels.  The deepest inroad I have made has been through prayer and forgiveness.  But what I know about myself is that my heart still reaches for love.  It is still raw and open.  And yes, at times, it does hurt.

I have spoken about forgiveness frequently.  For me, it is a daily practice.  And sometimes the questions I ask myself are new ones.  Thank goodness.  Because through the “new,” there is the hope of progress.   

I think it takes stripping down to the most naked place of not even knowing who you are any longer and beginning from there to ask yourself what it will take to actually forgive that which you have not yet forgiven.  To see what is still in the way.  To see what you need to give up or offer or change in order to begin to cross a threshold which has not yet been crossed.  From this place you get to see what is essentially you and true and what actually remains, what is honestly still there.  For me, even in this state, I find it is me still reaching to open my heart, reaching to forgive, not knowing answers to practical questions to fix the most essential and immediate problems in my life, but knowing I will do anything to heal pain.  Well, I won’t have sex with Rush Limbaugh and I won’t commit a criminal act, but I will dig into the deepest places to heal.

I have been seeking an answer to questions I may never be afforded.  And I have learned after nearly a decade, that for me, asking them is just not the way towards healing (which is why it is not useful to speak of the experience here).  Finding a way to be with what is, even if it is inconceivable and hurtful and damaging and contemptible and fill in the rest... is what matters.  And that is the path.  Finding a way to integrate the truth of life.  Finding a way to deal with the hand you have been dealt.  Because we don’t get to say to god, “Hey, I don’t like this life, give me a DIFFERENT life!”  

I have my feelings and my grief when they come knocking.  And when I am really grounded, I actually get to a place of believing that god or the universe or something I may have set into motion in a previous life, may have actually placed me precisely where I am sitting now as a way of protecting me.  That this pain which I carry is possibly a way of sparing me from further pain.  

What to do next?  Have faith?  When smack in the midst of having a PTSD response, that doesn’t exactly work.  But, steps towards remembering concrete things about myself which are whole and good and remembering the places which I, myself know I can always rely upon... that’s a pretty good start which ultimately leads to a place of faith.

I don’t have any answers right now.  I am finding it hard to put one foot in front of the other.  But one thing I know is that I feel compassion and mercy for all of it.  For myself.  For those who have harmed me knowingly and unknowingly.  For those who may be angry with me right now for any reason whatsoever.  For those whom I have ever failed knowingly or unknowingly.  

We don’t get to say to god “I want a different body.  A different biology.  A different biography.”  But it is up to us how we deal with our circumstances.  Because the biography can be written by us.  This much I know.  It’s just a change in thinking. 

I may not be able to take a step right now.  But I know that I can because I can change that thought right now.  And give it a try no matter what it feels like.  Right now.  I can.  

I can.  And I will.  


Jill Bacharach  

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Practical Nest

I have experienced a plethora of loss and betrayal in my life and when it has been relevant to share some of my experience with those close to me, the question which always been directed at me, has been “why?”

I do not find that this question serves me very well in what I would call my own spiritual evolution.

The questions which I choose to focus on are “How can I keep my heart open?” and “How can I forgive?”

Presently, I am working with my teacher, Christina, on a series called “The Gift of Practice” and one of the questions she has posed is a series of questions around why we practice, what does practice mean to us, where is it sourced inside of us.

Having not been able to practice asana for the greater part of 15 months now, and as evidenced by the naming of my blog, my practice has needed to become something more than an asana practice.  My deepest and most challenging, dedicated and daily practice is the practice of forgiveness and as I have already mentioned, I tend to it every day, sometimes I tend to it for hours at a time.  There are many reasons for this, which could be the content for another blog, but I raise it here for another purpose.  

My teacher spoke about the present culture in yoga which she somewhat disenchanted with, the way in which many yogins are not getting along and not supporting one another.  I have been bearing witness from afar, not having been in a studio, but twice (when she came to town after two of my surgeries).  

This weekend there is an event happening which I was interested in attending in order to bear witness to the present culture.  A friend whom I love very deeply is attending and I thought it would be a sweet way to sit beside her, even though I still cannot turn my head but fractionally.  So, it really would just be sitting side by side (just to give an accurate visual).  My friend was honest in sharing that the most supportive thing to do would be for me to NOT attend because my presence would complicate her life (given that there are some who would simply wish to not see me there).  

Now, the flat truth is, I am a bit of a Norma Rae.  No question about it.  And if people cannot control themselves, even yogins, then why are they sitting together in the first place?  Where is the yoga?

But the fact remains: I know where my practice is nested.  And it is far more important to me that my friend have a pleasant experience (god willing), hopefully an experience which even offers her some light, than for her to have an experience where hostility is coming at her due to my simple wish to sit beside her from a place of love.

Although I find all of which I just described troublesome, it is not mine to hold.  I recently read “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”  (Susan Cain)  And I can push like bloody hell to wake others up to patterns that they have.  But that is not “the gift of practice.”  That is me, breaching another person’s boundary and taking an arrogant and self-righteous posture in thinking I have the right to tell another where his/her work lies (even if a panel of 100 psychiatrists were to agree).  That is not ME, being nested in my practice nor rooting myself in the source of it.

The gift is to step away, LISTEN from love to what my friend needs, and not put my own need before hers, since this is NOT my storyline, and from there, send those souls back to god and if I wish, pray that they all tend to their own work as I will simply tend to mine.

Could I be in a room filled with people who do not wish me well?  Yes.  I have ample experience in this department.

And what I know is it is not mine to hold.  When it is personal, my practice kicks in moment to moment, and I work very hard to keep opening my heart while asking nothing in return.  I work every moment towards holding my own heart in compassion when the pain of forgiveness gets difficult to bear.  And I begin again.

This is where I am nested.

I am also nested in my devotion and love towards all of the people who have come before me and through me and have also fallen away.  

My practice asks and informs me to keep trying.  To keep working towards an open heart, yes, but to keep staying in my own life, but not work externally.  Because my heart knows only that it wants to love.  To heal.  And to remain whole.  And my heart can only be whole if I am whole.

May we each find the source of our own practice and be nourished and buoyed and empowered from that potent source.  

From love.


Jill Bacharach

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Tribute

Good times and bum times,
I've seen them all and, my dear,
I'm still here.
Plush velvet sometimes,
Sometimes just pretzels and beer,
But I'm here.
I've stuffed the dailies
In my shoes.
Strummed ukuleles,
Sung the blues,
Seen all my dreams disappear,
But I'm here.
I've slept in shanties,
Guest of the W.P.A.,
But I'm here.
Danced in my scanties,
Three bucks a night was the pay,
But I'm here.
I've stood on bread lines
With the best,
Watched while the headlines
Did the rest.
In the Depression was I depressed?
Nowhere near.
I met a big financier
And I'm here.
I've been through Gandhi,
Windsor and Wally's affair,
And I'm here.
Amos 'n' Andy,
Mah-jongg and platinum hair,
And I'm here.
I got through Abie's
Irish Rose,
Five Dionne babies,
Major Bowes,
Had heebie-jeebies
For Beebe's
I lived through Brenda Frazier
And I'm here.
I've gotten through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover,
Gee, that was fun and a half.
When you've been through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover,
Anything else is a laugh.
I've been through Reno.
I've been through Beverly Hills,
And I'm here.
Reefers and vino,
Rest cures, religion and pills,
And I'm here
Been called a pinko
Commie tool,
Got through it stinko
By my pool.
I should have gone to an acting school.
That seems clear,
Still, someone said, "She's sincere,"
So I'm here.
Black sable one day.
Next day it goes into hock,
But I'm here.
Top billing Monday,
Tuesday you're touring in stock,
But I'm here.
First you're another
Sloe-eyed vamp,
Then someone's mother,
Then you're camp.
Then you career from career
To career.
I'm almost through my memoirs.
And I'm here.
I've gotten through "Hey, lady, aren't you whoozis?
Wow! What a looker you were."
Or, better yet, "Sorry, I thought you were whoozis.
Whatever happened to her?"
Good times and bum times,
I've seen 'em all and, my dear,
I'm still here.
Flush velvet sometimes,
Sometimes just pretzels and beer,
But I'm here.
I've run the gamut.
A to Z.
Three cheers and dammit,
C'est la vie.
I got through all of last year
And I'm here.
Lord knows, at least I was there,
And I'm here!
Look who's here!
I'm still here!

(From Stephen Sondheim's "Follies")

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I stood silently, the hot water pouring down my face.  Eyes closed.  It was quiet and beautiful.  Utterly still.

All of the sudden, I found that I had placed my left hand across my neck and then my right hand above my left, feeling the length and presence of the scar which is now there.  It was something about the gesture and the height and girth of the scar.

First water and then tears.  So many tears.  And still no sound.

So much silence.

There has been so much silence and so many scars and nothing has touched how the heart inside this body beats or loves except for one thing.

It’s not screaming.  Not blaming.  It is awake and reconfiguring from its limps and places of constriction.

But this gesture: like a gesture of strangulation, was a tender gesture.  A gesture of exquisite care.  

I covered my throat and my heart ached like it has never ached before.  Why, you ask?

Because I still love.

Because I am opening to the very places which have been hurt the most and I am walking towards that pain, slowly taking its hand and asking for its forgiveness.  

It is the only thing I know to do.


Jill Bacharach

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Byron Katie said “We’re so busy projecting on each other, I’m convinced that no two people have ever met.”

How many of us have arrived at a point in our relationship a year or two in, and found ourselves feeling, thinking or saying, “I don’t feel understood by you.” ?  

Being out of work has been quite fascinating.  My time has been my own and many folks have come to me with “the big” questions.  

Why are people jealous?
Why are people impulsive?
Why do people mess with your head?
Why do people lie?
Why do people leave without warning?
Why are people cruel?

One word: FEAR.

Grrrrrrr...  The megalomaniacs of the world who seek world domination only do so because they so fear being less important than anyone else.  

Really?  Really.  

And so they often set out to mess with other people’s lives as a result.

But I believe that when you are truly good with yourself.  And I mean truly truly good with yourself, this crap just doesn’t bother you.  

My teacher Kelly Morris taught me early on about how it all comes from us.  How nothing in our world exists unless we planted the seed for it to be there in the first place.  The teaching is very deep and has a lot to do with karma.  The teaching is very rich and as far as I am concerned, it is the real deal.

Well, not long after receiving this transmission, I was getting off of a bus which was arriving in Port Authority.  I saw one man picking on another.  Man A, was much larger than Man B.  Man A was goading Man B and Man A was being very aggressive.  The bus arrived and as passengers, we took the escalator down into Port Authority and I continued to watch them.  I saw Man A begin to scream at Man B and throw up his arm as if to start a fight.  

I thought of Kelly.  I thought of my seeds.  And how I myself, had created this reality.  

I jumped right in the middle of them.  I mean, literally between them.  I yelled at both of them and insisted that they stop immediately.  Within seconds, they stopped.  Man B disappeared and Man A followed me and was moaning and trying to get me to understand his complaint.  I spoke one sentence.  “You need to take responsibility for your own anger.”

But I still have a question of my own, and I already have musings about the answer. 

Why do people disrespect your boundaries?

My musings are twofold.

They do not exercise good boundaries in their own lives.  

And... we, are not living into our own commitment in exercising the boundaries we say we want and expect to have in our lives as thoroughly or as fully as we could be living or expressing them.  And thoroughly or fully could mean that there is one person that is still blowing our boundaries.  And that person could even be a neighbor we barely know.  A person insignificant to us.  But by still not keeping that commitment, not staying congruent with our promise to ourselves, we will continue to be disrespected on a global scale.  That is what I truly believe.  

I also believe all of this can change.  In an instant.  

It is our decisions which change our destiny, and by destiny I only mean the next moment (which does lead to the rest of our lives).

The truth is, I’m not interested in the stories other people are walking around with.  It does make me sad that we are awfully busy projecting on one another.  But most people find me pausing in between.  Wondering where I came from... if I was perhaps, dropped from a stork.  Out of work... pausing... long enough to answer a question that matters to someone else.  Thoughtfully, with eye contact, only with permission, and always with love.

But only if asked.


Jill Bacharach