Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Today one of my most treasured and beloved friends let me in on a little secret and told me that I have joined a new rank and I must say I am truly delighted! I always felt a little outside of my favorite group: everything that is identified with and comprises of the word “WOMAN.” But yesterday I was officially initiated and inducted into the “SISTERHOOD.”

How do I know? 

Well, I looked at my Quicken and calculated how much money went to my tailor for the purpose of alterations in just the last four months. 

My tailor is from Italy and she has known me for 14 years. In that period of time, she has primarily shortened my hems and consistently made things “smaller” for me. I am not complaining.

I described to my friend, with a lot of levity, that in the last four months I had to have my clothing taken in and yesterday, taken back out. So she told me that I have now been officially initiated into the Sisterhood! And I am grateful. Truly.

Of course this comes at a great cost to me, but I never knew what the experience was like to stand in the mirror and need two more inches of room. Four months ago, I needed two inches less so that I could look presentable as I was still working towards regaining my strength and weight from my “life event.” So busting at the seams was a great sign. And being told that I had joined the ranks of everyone else who has walked this path, was an even greater one. 


But something else happened at the tailor.

I was asked to bear witness.

Her name was Holly.

I never found out what her mother’s name was, probably because she was spitting bullets left and right and I decided not to ask. I suppose she remained an archetype to me.

Her name was Holly and she was beautiful.

“Stand up straighter.” 
“No. Not like that.” 
“That looks stupid.”
“Don’t put your hands there.”
“Don’t smile like that.”
“Don’t stand near the telephone.” 
“Why would you do that?”
“Why don’t you ever think?”
“Suck in your gut!”

Now THAT was over the line as far as I was concerned and that was the moment when I intervened.

“She doesn’t need to suck anything in. She’s beautiful.” I said.

“Why do you have to be so short?” her mother persisted.

“Well, maybe if they didn’t design dresses for women who are 5’10, it would be a bit easier.” I said.

“Stop putting your hands there. You look stupid.”

I couldn’t take it. I really couldn’t. It was terribly troubling to me to experience this beautiful woman being verbally and psychologically abused in front of me by her mother.

I offered Holly a position to place her hands in for photographs. She felt more at ease as a result.

Her mother was ruthless about every move she made and so I decided to spend the entire time countering every comment Holly’s mother made and making Holly smile. Silently, I was sending both of them love, Holly and her misguided mother. 

I made a decision about what to do with my energy. Instead of continuing to feel angry towards Holly’s mother, I turned the anger into a prayer:

Dear misguided mother, “May you someday see the beauty of your own daughter. May you stop the madness of criticizing her and attempting to make her feel small so that you can feel superior. May you let go of the need to be right. May you see the light in her that beams so bright. May it no longer frighten you. May you stop cutting her down and clipping her wings. May you stop and allow her to be free so that you can be free of your own criticism. May you be free. May you feel Holly’s love. May you feel and express the love in your own heart. May you forgive yourself for not seeing what has been standing before you. May you know that you are forgiven.”

My tailor then nodded to me so I knew I could try on my pants for her. So while Holly was in her dressing room, I was sure to yell “Holly, I’m going to do some of my own sucking in now as well!”

After we assessed I needed the two full inches, I changed back into my clothes. I had a good laugh at myself because I could have just left the pants in my closet and saved myself this trouble. 

But there is a reason for everything. 

I never would have been initiated. And I never would have met Holly.

I wished everyone a good day. And a good holiday. 

It sure feels like it’s time to bust out the Holly. Don’t you think?

Merry Merry to all and to all a good flight.  


Jill Bacharach

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Whisperer

I have been thinking about the in-between stage when you are crossing a threshold. It is a potent and painful and transformative time. A time, I believe, when we need to use the whole of ourselves. When we must harness our power, get quiet. Sit in the pain and the mystery, and if we are lucky, lean into the practices we have learned to cultivate.

The image which strikes me is from the film The Horse Whisperer. The scene when Pilgrim, the traumatized horse hears Annie’s (Kristin Scott Thomas) cell phone ring and then bolts out of the water he is being trained and calmed in, and runs as fast and as far away as he can. Tom, (Robert Redford) goes after him but from a very far distance, sits and waits. And waits and waits. He waits for him all day. Until he gains the slightest semblance of the horse’s trust. He sits and waits in the deepest stillness and quiet.  Waiting and watching and showing him that he is simply there. Asking for nothing. But simply offering his devotion.  

For me, this scene is one of the most stunning and exquisite acts of love.  

I am here. I am right here. I see you. I know you hurt. And I am listening. Waiting.  Waiting until you are ready. Waiting without judgment. Waiting with love. Waiting until you are ready to trust me. For as long as it takes.

This is the only way it can work in relationship. The person who needs the least amount of intimacy, no matter the reason, sets the tone. 

I have been the horse. And I have also been the whisperer.

To be the whisperer means to show up without ego. To show up with an intention to see the other as whole and capable. To let go of the stories of the past and see the other as bigger than the stories which have been hoisted upon them. This is what it means to love.

I experienced this with a three year old boy. A child whom I loved deeply. A child who found it challenging to trust the world. As a result, he had a very difficult time attaching himself to anyone. By the time the boy was four, he would cling to my leg and cry when I was about to leave and say goodbye. Because I saw him. I saw past his story and began to heal something without asking anything of him.  

Maybe what happened was I loved him the way I always wanted to be loved and I promised (without saying so) that I would wait until he was ready to approach.  

Imagine what it would feel like to have someone wait for you in love precisely the way you wish. Imagine what it would feel like to have a person sit and hold you in love without judgment. Hold you. And surrender to your approach.  


That boy (now an adult) was my nephew.

None of this was of his choosing and for a brief time, I became the horse, but also had to become the whisperer again. This time, a whisperer for my own healing and for his, so that there would be no more clinging for either of us and so that he could keep bursting out of his hard shell.

It is all in the approach.

Some horses are destined to become whisperers.


Jill Bacharach