Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Thursday, December 29, 2016


During Alfie’s life, he came first before making any decisions. He was my priority. Always.

I wanted him to have a truly comfortable life. 



My most faithful companion. We were more alike than different. He would awaken during the night and I would know it. He’d lift his head, searching for me, and I would kiss the bridge of nose to assure him I was there. Down his head would go and all was well. This was just one of our many silent dances.

Alfie and I simply belonged to each other and aside from my beloved grandmother, he was the only other being who solidified a rock solid belief in destiny within my soul.

We chose each other. Plain and simple.


Two days ago, I could not stop crying all day. I even cried myself until I was so exhausted, the exhaustion must have finally offered me respite. Well, it turns out that that was the day my boy was ready to return to me. The Vet’s office said they left me a message, but I had no voice mail on my cell or landline. Their office was closed the following day and today was the day I learned I could bring him home.

I have been struggling with who I am without him. And I realize that in a tangible way, I struggled so deeply with the separation in this final reconciliation, wanting to have him here. When he was hospitalized, he did too. He only started eating again after they allowed me to see him. He wanted to come home to me. Not having him with me did not feel right, and my soul must have known he was close the other day as it has been yearning to bring him home.

I have been Alfie’s mom for 14 years and right now, I don’t know who I am without that role.

He was always acting like a sprite little pup, until changes began within this last year. Like he began to show me he didn’t want to do stairs anymore. And he couldn’t make it up onto the bed on his own.

When he became ill, I did anything I could for him and everything to keep him steady and calm. Like during hurricane Sandy. All I remember about Sandy was making sure that Alfie was warm, fed, and never felt afraid. I carried him up and down the stairs using a well-lit torch lamp, and I made certain that he never saw fear in my face or felt it in my body. It was the same during his illness.

What I struggle with now is all those nights. I don’t want to share what happened because caring for this exquisite being was tender and so intimate and breaks his momma’s heart into millions of pieces. But my boy stayed so safely locked into my eyes and never turned his gaze unless he was resting. He was so brave and would awaken with so much light and grace and a love I have never known before.

He let me feed him by syringe every two hours, this little man of mine. Day after day after day, until the days became weeks. His body completely at ease, taking a resting pose and even anchoring his paw around the side of the bed as I had the many syringes lined up for each feeding. And I didn’t know why. Until I did. Because he didn’t want to be without me. And he didn’t want me to be without him. He was preparing me.

Years ago, when a girlfriend of mine broke up with me, Alfie socked her in the eye the instant she said the words.

My heart warrior. That love.

When my hand was shaking last week upon signing his cremation papers after being asked if he had ever bitten anyone, that memory came right to mind. “Does a sock to the eye count?”


He was there when I lost my family. He was there when I bought my home. He was there through 3 hip surgeries, one spinal surgery, one shoulder manipulation, lots and lots of rehab, lots of yoga and even more rest.

He made me smile and laugh every single day.

He was the recipient of countless kisses.

He was my one and only.

He belonged to my tribe. And I belonged to his.

And all I know right now is that even though I am completely lost, I am so grateful he is home. With me.

Jill Bacharach 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Our America

True wisdom instructs us to do more listening than speaking.

I have been heeding this advice this week as much as possible. Perhaps to a saturation point, even.

What I see over and over is that people are panic-stricken and our children are terrified. This candidate ran a fear-driven campaign and he has subsequently, swept the nation with fear. I know of several parents who are taking their children to psychiatrists ranging from concerns to very grave, utterly heartbreaking concerns. I know of adults who are finding it hard to get out of bed. There are kids who are afraid to walk home from school, or even walk the halls inside their schools.

In Our America. The land of the free.


25 years ago, I was holding hands with a woman in Santa Monica and a large pick-up truck drove by in an attempt to try to hit us. I pushed my beloved to the side so she would not get hurt and watched as the maniacal crew drove away screaming horrible epithets.

5 years ago, just one week before the Marriage Equality Act was passed in New York, I was literally asked to leave a church in New York City for sitting quietly just because I was holding hands with the woman I loved. 4 years later, the Supreme Court made Same-Sex a Marriage Right nationwide.

We cannot afford to lose our rights. This is Our America. Land of the free.


I have been listening. And here is what I have noticed: I have felt the deep collective heartache of so many. It cannot be ignored. I woke up today and I can barely move. I have a titanium plate in my neck due to having undergone spinal surgery. I noticed today that I could barely move my neck. No, I didn’t fall. No, I didn’t lift anything too heavy. Here is what I believe happened…

The fear tactic worked.

My body is responding to the bully and feeling a significant boundary violation. He violated the boundaries of many of my sisters and brothers. He never held himself accountable for it. And our voices are still crying out collectively to be heard. We are somewhat frozen. But we cannot allow ourselves to be.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I hear you. I believe you. I value you. I stand with you. I will not abandon you or this fight. I will defend you. I will try to help you. I love you. I am you.

We have enough momentum now to lean into each other. To validate each other’s voices. To keep moving forward. To listen. To hear each other. To see ourselves in each other and know that we need each other now more than ever. That we ARE stronger together. That we have risen.


This is Our America. And we will rise.

This IS OUR America. We have to keep naming it. Claiming it. Taking a stand for ourselves. Stand in our voices. Stand in our power and in our solidarity. We have to keep reminding each other who we are. We have to keep finding the best in ourselves and in each other. And we have to keep going. We have to keep going. We have to. 

This is Our America.


Jill Bacharach

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.

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.


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 minutes. 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. Whose mother was away and whose 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.


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



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.


Jill Bacharach