Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Embrace It All

We cannot see anything which we do not already possess within ourselves.  

A doctor, however, can have a subject placed before her and say, “Ah yes, that is most definitely, definitively, a broken clavicle bone,” and not have the same fated brokenness.  


And I could name many examples along these lines, but this is not where I am headed.

You cannot see someone’s light, nor their darkness, their charisma, nor their manipulative nature, without possessing these qualities within yourself.  We all know this.  

It’s a matter of what next.

How we journey alone or together.  

It can become so easy to fear “the other” because the reflection could feel so frightening to claim it as part of ourselves.  So easy to turn away rather than face this truthful “gift” standing before us, staring us in the face.  

I believe that healing happens by taking ownership of the smallest and largest pieces of who we are.  So that we may become fully integrated human beings.  

So that whenever someone names you whatever they name you, you know that you can hear the reflection and know you can own your own shadow parts because you have brought them into the light and you can speak about them and wear them on your face without being afraid to be vulnerable.

It takes courage and steadiness to be vulnerable.  A deep knowing of who you are.  A standing in a deep and full honoring of yourself.  

No one gets to decide for us who we are.  Or who we are continually in the process of becoming.

Each of us has the power to bring our shadows into the light.  No matter how long the process takes, we each have it within us to do this.  We can stand tall, knowing fully, that we needn’t choose to be or see only that shadow part of ourselves as all of who we are.  We are always more than the sum of our parts, but we must claim all of our parts in order to be whole.

Mary Oliver wrote:

“Someone I once loved gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.”

Embracing the fullness of who we are is part of the practice and gift of being human.  Denying it, is not.  So the next time you feel the tendency to comment... take pause and see if the quality you are commenting on is one you can wear on your own face and have a good laugh at first.

Embrace it all.  No matter how long it takes.  I stand beside you.

With love.


Jill Bacharach

Saturday, May 25, 2013


I have had a tendency to define my boundaries based upon telling others how they are violating my own.  A tendency to become very determined that others understand the breach which they have crossed instead of simply sitting still inside of myself, knowing my own boundary, setting it, and plain and simply just not allowing it to be violated.

Yesterday, I made a very different choice.

I didn't lecture.  I simply observed.  I took notice of what was happening and noted to myself how "not okay" it was with me.  But I also took a broader view.  I could see what was in front of me.  I could sit in the NOW which I was in, aware of how limited it was in its scope, in its hearing, its listening, admitting, and most certainly, its apologizing.  There was simply no need to comment.  No need at all.  All I needed to do was to pause.  To stay in my own integrity and to walk back to my own heart and root myself in kindness, in my trust in myself, in my own strength and in my clarity.  I felt no charge about the other.  

And therefore, did not allow any boundary violation.  
No charge.  No violation.

It was a big shift.


If we get lucky in this life, we meet people who are willing to sit before us and hold a mirror in front of us to show us precisely the reflection of who we are.  That reflection may not be terribly attractive at times.  But if we have the capacity and the willingness, we can look at our image and not deny what we see.

Yesterday, I took responsibility for deep pain which I have caused two people who have 
evoked within me more pain than I wish to write about here.  I saw the part that I had played, seeing that they cared to know nothing of their own participation, and with impeccable language, I asked permission to apologize for the pain I believe I had caused.

Their capacities for listening were not pristine, and so it took a few rounds of going through this apology which was challenging, to say the least.  But, I saw that, ultimately, I moved their lives forward.  And undoubtedly, my own.


A shift.


It takes a lot to look into a mirror and to investigate the deepest caverns of the truth.  We can each walk around and hold onto a story we are comfortable sticking to for our entire lives.  Or we can choose to clean the mirror and see what part we have played in that story.

I will always pour through mounds and mounds of dirt and dust and muck and pain and then clean it up in order to choose the latter.

And if I can help clean up another mound-heap, I will do that as well.

From love.


Jill Bacharach

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Where Are You Rooted?

“Maybe they’ve changed.”
“You never know.”


The only thing I know, as opposed to what hundreds of years of spiritual teachings tell us, is who I am.  That is, who I am right now.  Who I have become.  And who I am becoming each moment.

Each moment when a dagger is thrown my way.  Each moment when my heart softens.  Each moment when I am thrown off course and the universe asks something new of me.

These are choice points.  And I see, clearly, who I am.

There is LOVE.  And there is death.  Everything in between is a choice.  Love is always a choice.  And death can surely be as well, but that is not where I choose to place my focus.  Of course, only deep love and compassion for those who have traveled that path.  Maybe they knew something we don’t know.  I don’t know.  The only thing I know is who I am right now.


I awakened during the night and thought to myself that I believe some people throw around the word “forgiveness” rather recklessly.  For some folks, it simply means moving on and just forgetting the past.  In my heart, I may actually be able to forgive these people, but I know that I will not be able to trust them.  No.  And that is MY CHOICE.  

For me, forgiveness is a deeply ROOTED process.  Rooted in something REAL.  Removing the tragic diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, which many have been touched by, “forgetting” can turn into a lack of existence, pure omission and neglect, or utter disregard.  I will even go so far as to claim emotional abandonment.  Which is why as Jewish people, we use the Hebrew word זכיר.  “REMEMBER.”  

For me, forgiveness is a daily practice.  During my most recent surgery, just as I was being prepped for anesthesia, my nurse told me that my heart was strong, like that of an athlete.  Given how sedentary I have been, I was nonplussed.  But then I realized HOW I have been working my practice and I quickly realized how right she was.  

Through my practice, the walls of my heart must come down NO MATTER HOW DEEP the injury.  Through my practice, I must walk through that injury until I know what must be cleared.  Where I played a part.  Where I am holding onto blame.  Where I hurt.  WHERE I HURT.  WHERE I HURT.  What the actual cause of hurt is.  Because it is NEVER the obvious one.  For me, it NEVER is.  

This morning I was listening to Dr. Maya Angelou.  She reflected a truth which I hold inside.  

“What is the basis of your forgiveness?” she was asked.

“Mine is love.”  she replied.  “Where I do not trust is those who just say let’s just forget and move on.”

Maybe it is part of my blood.  Maybe it is my intuition.  Maybe it is who I have become.  But this is a place where I trust myself.

I have begun to see that there is a real difference between MOVING ON and FORGIVENESS.

As far as I am concerned.  If healing has occurred, then no matter how painful, you have it within you to speak about it.  Maybe with a team of support, but it is possible.  It is possible because you have done the work to get yourself there.  

As I said earlier, love is a choice.  Dr. Angelou said, “Love saves me and it saves us all.”

With each breath, no matter how hard it may be, I choose to sit in love.

What will you choose?

God bless.


Jill Bacharach

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day

Forty-five years ago, the doctor projected when I would be born.  Somehow, when I heard it, I must have said, “Oh, that just isn’t going to work for me!”  

I was born three and a half weeks early.  Not only couldn’t I not wait to get out of there, but I was a runt.  I was always a runt.

The other night, I walked 5.16 miles home because it was my desire to do so.  I do not have the pace of a “runt” even after 3 hip surgeries and a spinal fusion.  When you end up at the front of the line because of being forced to stand in “size order,” you either learn to overcompensate for your size or you succumb to it.  

For me it was inherently hard to keep up, which is why my shins became overdeveloped as well as various other muscle groups.  The strides of others which were twice that of my own, took some getting used to because I was (am) very willful (let’s refresh: “Oh, that just isn’t going to work for me”).

I am still small.  And because I live alone I am far too often in situations where I carry things which are as large as my house on my back without help.  

What I have learned after all these years is that we don’t really know what other people need.  We think it may be carrying a bag upstairs or having groceries delivered.  But the demand of saying “Oh, that just isn’t going to work for me” in utero has stayed with me my whole life.

It’s about listening.  

Deep deep listening.  Not to what YOU think another person wants or needs but listening to what the other person actually wants or needs.


So often we fight with a beloved or feel rejected because they do not appreciate or like what we are offering.  But at the heart of it, is missing the deeper intimacy of feeling “missed” to begin with.

I truly believe that honoring another’s emotional timeline before your own is the doorway into successful intimacy and I believe, happiness.  Otherwise, it is just bulldozing, dominating, and utter unhappiness.  The receiver doesn’t want the offering.  The giver feels rejected.  But the truth is, the person who wants the least amount of intimacy will always trump the relationship.


A deeply beloved friend of mine passed away many years ago and was buried on Mother’s day.  She was much older than me but someone whom I cherished and adored.  Looking back, I recall that my own mother carried a bit of jealousy over my friendship with her.  But I never allowed those feelings to tarnish the love I felt for my friend. 

My friend had three daughters.  And she developed cancer.  She lived with it for 5 and a half years and at that point, we all thought she had won the battle.  

But unfortunately, after a year of being in remission, it came back virulently and then she passed through.  

During the last year of her life, I had been writing to her because at that point I was living in San Francisco.  Her best friend told me that she carried one of my letters with her in her wallet every single day.  When she passed, her family (husband and three daughters) decided to bury her with the letter.  

They buried her on Mother’s Day.

As a tribute, I wrote my own eulogy and sent it to the family.  

I called many times and they never took my call.  Finally, her husband answered and said, “Please don’t call here anymore.”

I was devastated.  I had lost my beloved friend and they had buried her with a piece of me.  

This Mother’s Day will be 22 years since her burial.  

It took me ten years to get over this grief.  This exclusion.  But I understood so many things all in that instantaneous moment as well.  

The moment I sent the family my eulogy, I showed her husband and children that I had seen my friend with such clear eyes, that they could not hold the beauty of that seeing YET.  


The family needed their own time to see less of the searing beauty which I was so adept  at expressing and in their experience, “splashing in their face.”  Yet, they still had the ability to honor her (and me) by burying her with a letter she carried every day.  

Although it was a devastating split, not affording me anyone to grieve with, I understood their need to not be able to see me, one who saw their mother and wife so clearly and whom they needed to put to rest.  

I understood, intellectually.  It took my heart ten years to catch up.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I wish to honor my friend whom I have always carried with me and the same family who needed to bury me with her.  

But that was part of their own survival and ultimately, the best way they knew how to function.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I wish to soften the words I said in utero, “Oh, this just isn’t going to work for me,” and find a new way to function when I, myself am in distress.

As Mother’s Day approaches,  I continue to offer love and healing to my friend’s family.  Healing and the deepest caverns of Susan’s exquisite heart.  A heart like I had never known before and still carry with me every day (also like a note sewn inside my own chest pocket).

To all the mother’s and to all the motherless daughters and sons, I spread my love to you no matter what you are facing on this day or any day which may soon follow.  You just never know what is around the corner.  Forgive those who shut you out.  They can only handle so much for whatever their reasons may be.  

Our lives are so fragile and so ephemeral.  Hold yourself in your inherent worthiness and show another the beauty of their own.  

Maybe one day, they will carry it with them in their pocket until they day they pass through their temporary and beautiful vessel.

(This is not a photo of Susan.  But I feel this photo conveys the essence of what I have attempted to write about here.)  

Godspeed to all.


Jill Bacharach