Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

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")