“A Gift Behind Every Disappointment” - Vigyaa
Close

Delete Collection?

Are you sure you want to delete this collection permanently?

Close

Delete Collection?

Are you sure you want to delete this collection permanently?

Everyone has a Story to Tell and an Experience to Share!

Let’s Start Writing
31ae96bb-b13e-46eb-9d2f-422886993e54

21 views

“A Gift Behind Every Disappointment”

“There is a gift behind each disappointment and sadness.” These are words my mother spoke to me countless times growing up. I have found that sometimes the gift comes quite quickly and, at other times, the gift comes slowly, perhaps years later. But we need to trust that a gift will come. This trusting can be difficult though, especially when it appears over time that no gift is coming.

Recently, I had the experience of a gift coming quite quickly. Barry and I work at Esalen Institute once a year giving a couple’s retreat. We love this Big Sur ocean-side retreat center dearly. To me, there is no more beautiful place on the earth. Every once in a while we are able to receive a guest pass, which is a super treat. We always make sure to schedule a massage as well while we are there.

Barry was giving a men’s retreat in our home and I needed to find a place to go for the Saturday of the retreat. I was allowed a guest pass to Esalen, which is a beautiful but very curvy drive along the Big Sur coast. Though the drive is so spectacular, I was not fond of driving it by myself. But I really needed a massage and a place to be for the day so I drove by myself.

I called several weeks before, and scheduled and paid for my massage. I was sent receipts which I printed out and took with me. I said good-by to Barry and the men very early in the morning and took off for Esalen. Esalen suggests that each person who is getting a massage soak in the hot springs for a half hour before. I arrived early and waited in the hot springs with a young woman. I only knew the name of the person who was to massage me, so I prayed that this person could be used as an instrument of healing.

At the appointed time, a male massage practitioner approached the tubs. For some odd reason, I hoped it was not the person massaging me. He called the young woman. Other practitioners came and got their clients. I was left alone. Finally a man kept calling a name over and over. Obviously his client was not there yet. I went up to that man, asked about my massage, and gave him the name that was on the receipt. He told me that practitioner had just come and called the young woman who was in the tub with me. He left to check the schedule and quickly came back to me announcing that I was not on the schedule.

“This is a mistake,” I spoke up. “I have receipts.” He called the office for me right before his client showed up. The man at the office apologized profusely and said there wasn’t anything that could be done. It was a mistake and they could refund my money. “But I drove all the way here from Santa Cruz for this massage and I really need this,” and I felt like I might start crying. “I am sorry,” he said. “There is nothing I can do.”

He was about to end the call when he said, “Oh, wait a minute.” At that moment, the head of massage at Esalen happened to walk by on the way to her office and overheard his conversation with me. She told him it was not right and that she would come right over and give the massage.

So I happened to get the very best person at Esalen who had keys to the very best location to have a massage there. And she shared with me that before she gives a massage, she always asks that her hands be used at instruments of healing, just what I had been praying for. And the massage was indeed heavenly. That amazing gift came quite quickly!!!

But other gifts come slowly. When I was almost forty years old, we had a baby girl that died before birth. This was devastating for me. My parents were visiting at the time and my mother said to me, “I know this is hard because I had twins that also died shortly after birth. I know the heartache, but there will be a gift for you that will bless your life. Every day thank God in advance for the beautiful gift that is being prepared for you.” My pain was so great that I felt for sure this time my mother was wrong. How could any gift come from this sorrow? I totally closed my heart and mind to any possibility of having another child. We already had our two darling daughters and that would be enough. I was going to forget my dream of having three children as I was too fearful of the same thing happening again. Barry agreed and we were very careful to not get pregnant.

But gifts do come, and I finally became pregnant even though we were being as careful as could be. Three years after our baby Anjel died, I gave birth to a ten pound baby boy. John-Nuri brought a burst of light and love into our lives, and he continues to do so. My mother was right after all. The gift did come and I love him so much.

Sometimes the gift comes in the form of more compassion or understanding or patience. Sometimes, because a person had to go through a very difficult challenge, they are then able to help another. And sometimes the gift that comes from pain is the gift of a more open heart or a deepening of spirituality. Look for the gift, and surely it will come, bringing meaning to the hardships, sorrows, and disappointments of life.

Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:

Jul 21-26, 2019 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR

Sep 24-30, 2019 — Assisi Retreat, Italy

Jun 7-14, 2020 — Shared Heart Alaska Cruise

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of eight books, including two new books, To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man.

Call 831-684-2299 for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

Therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, near Santa Cruz, CA. Widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship & personal growth.


Related Articles

Everything big starts small. Everything on earth today was born out of someone’s small idea who strongly believed they will succeed in developing it.

The airplane was once an idea, the microwave, and the cellular phone. The great life of any successful person is wrapped up around a definite purpose which usually starts as a small idea. Success comes from working on small beginnings with faith and perseverance.

Success involves focus, hard work, determination, pushing beyond your comfort zone and hope in life. Success in small things gives you hope for big things. I like taking selfies. I am a selfie author and speaker. That’s part of my brand. Before I take a selfie, I tell the person or group of people to smile and right away they smile. I use the power of “selfies” to plant beautiful smiles on people’s faces, ignite friendship, promote unity, enhance togetherness and create a sense of cooperation amongst all racial divides. As small as the idea seems, it goes the extra miles of putting beautiful smiles on people’s faces at a time lots of people rarely smile. It started small and has developed into a powerful movement. Now everyone I meet who knows me wants to take a selfie photo.

Focusing on a goal is a great mind development action. But to make that goal realizable you must start with appreciating and celebrating the small things that gets you to the goal. Focusing on a goal creates momentum that propels you to constantly take actions. Every big thing started small. Life’s success is the accumulation of tireless small efforts matched with determination, focus and hope. I don’t believe in the get-rich-quick syndrome. I believe in hard work and using quality productive time to achieve my goals.

When you witness your small acts developing into big things, you feel happy; you build courage, move faster and become more hopeful. When you inject courage into your life, you develop a powerful force that pushes you through fear, and you build confidence to take on any challenge.

Challenges will come, no doubt. Your hope in life will be shaken, that’s okay but you’ll survive it. It’s sad that most people see setbacks as failure. Rather than picking themselves up and forging ahead, they freeze and lose hope. They stop taking actions. That’s totally wrong and a disservice to your personality. I don’t believe in failure. Failure is a simple way that the universe tells us that we have not found the right way to do it. It’s a way it tells us to make new tactical changes on the next plan. Never allow any setback to kill your hope in life. If you do, you are doomed.

Understand this, if you have never had any failures in life, then you are not thinking big. It means you are not taking risks. It means you take the easy route, you do the simple things and you are constantly playing safe.

Most successful people worldwide started their careers with nothing, some with little or no experience. Most have no skills at all, but they started, worked hard, believed in themselves, sometimes failed but never gave up. They constantly put their best foot forward to reach their goals. Why did they succeed? They succeeded because they strongly believed in their power of creativity even with the smallest experience and resources they had at the time.

Failures teach lessons and when we learn, we shake off the disappointments and move right up to the next plan. We learn from mistakes. You don’t learn to play soccer by watching a soccer game. No matter how long you watch the game, you will never learn how to play soccer. The learning process starts once you get into the field of play and practice, kicking the ball, making passes, committing fouls, scoring goals and learning as you go. That’s how you develop skills and learn the rules of the game. The same applies to life. Every dream you think of, feel and imagine and work on can be actualized. So long as it’s something you really want, there is a potential for its actualization if you work on it. Go out there and Live Your Dream.

I’m officially coming out of the closet! Here goes. I, Barry Vissell, besides being a counselor, author, doctor, and workshop leader, am also a musician!

There, that wasn’t so hard.

So what makes me hesitate to announce this beautiful, musical part of me? It’s quite simple: I don’t feel good enough. Even though many people love my singing voice, and I really enjoy singing, there is still a part of me that compares my voice to what I judge as better voices.

I accompany myself on the harmonium, an East Indian keyboard instrument that sounds a bit like an accordion. Again, a part of me compares my playing to more accomplished keyboard artists, even though many people love the simple way I play.

And then there are the songs I write. Nothing fancy. Just what I consider heart-felt messages of love and spirituality. And yes again, people love my songs. And the most important person who is my greatest fan is Joyce. So why is there still a part of me that compares my songs to the elaborate and polished songs of “professional” musicians?

It’s all about not feeling good enough. I have a gift to give, but it’s far from perfect. So I hesitate to give it.

Joyce and I have written eight books and are working on two more. Are they perfect? Absolutely not! Are we polished and professional writers? No. Did we take even one writing course? Again, no. I’ll never forget trying to publish our first book, The Shared Heart. We got rejected by about thirty publishers. Obviously, the message was that our book was not good enough. We felt like giving up. Someone suggested self-publishing. We bought Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual. Aside from the great technical advice in that book, two quotes really helped us. The first compared commercial publishers to birthing a child and then having someone else raise it. And the second went something like this: “There are three kinds of people in this world. There are those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and the third who wonder what happened.”

Those two quotes motivated us to self-publish The Shared Heart in 1984, to give our gift and not be stopped by feelings of not good enough. Still, we had a moment of panic when we sent the first batch of books to reviewers. Then a few days of fear as we waited for the reactions. Finally, a small padded envelope arrived at our mailbox. Inside was a cassette tape, which we hesitatingly inserted into a player. We had no idea what to expect. After a few moments of tense silence, during which both of us were holding our breath, there was the sound of a man crying. Mystified, we listened intently as the crying continued for several minutes. Then the crying stopped and he said, “This is the most beautiful book I have ever read,” and then he began crying again.

To this day, that first response to our first book has been the most important validation of our writing. We couldn’t have gotten any better feedback. The Shared Heart went on to become a best seller, inspiring and helping so many people. And to think, we almost didn’t give this gift to the world because we felt it wasn’t good enough.

One more personal example. Although, after medical school, I primarily studied psychiatry and psychotherapy, I still worked many years as a medical doctor. I saw patients at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Santa Clara, then at the Santa Cruz County Health Center. I kept receiving inner guidance for a deeper gift I wanted to give, to work with people’s souls instead of their bodies. On one of our spiritual pilgrimages to Mount Shasta, my dissatisfaction with my medical job became unbearable and, when I returned home, I quit my job. I felt so happy and relieved, although a bit worried about making enough money to support our growing family.

The physician in charge of the Santa Cruz County Health Center told me he needed a doctor to be the director of the Watsonville Health Center. He offered me a raise in salary, and the freedom to run the clinic any way I chose. I fell for the bait. I took the job, excited about the possibility of having meaningful staff meetings. Watsonville, however, although part of Santa Cruz County, was, especially in the early 1980’s, practically like being in Mexico. The clinic staff was much more interested in preparing tamales than sharing their feelings. I lasted two years before burning out once more and then quitting.

I felt ready to focus all my energy on the real gift I came to earth to give, my purpose in life, working with individuals, couples and groups on a soul-to-soul level, rather than just their bodies.

But yet again, I yielded to temptation. Out of the blue, Jerry, the medical director of the University of California at Santa Cruz, offered me a job in the health center taking care of the college students. If I could have picked the best medical doctor job, it would have been that one. I accepted. I worked there for several years. But alas, it was still medicine, and I was still not living my purpose. The benefits were great. The salary was great. But I became more and more unhappy.

Then came divine intervention! Jerry called me into his office. We had a great relationship. He said, “Barry, I’m going to free you up to do the work you really want to do. I’m letting you go.” Then he added sadly, “I wish there was someone who could do the same for me. I would love to pursue a career in music, rather than directing this health center. But I don’t seem to have the courage to fire myself.”

Jerry and I hugged and shared some tears. I left knowing I would never again work in the medical field. Together with Joyce, we began in earnest to share our deeper gifts with the world, the work we still do today.

About a month later, I was notified that Jerry had a massive heart attack and was found dead in his office. His death has always served as a reminder of how vitally important it is to pursue your dreams, to go for your higher purpose, and give your gifts to life, no matter how imperfect they may be, or how inadequate you may feel.

I’d like to quote part of one of my recent songs:

“Why am I here?

What gift can I give?

Can my path be clear,

Guiding how I live?

Why am I here?

Is there more than strife?

I’ll move beyond fear,

To a fulfilling life.”

Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:

Jul 21-26, 2019 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR

Sep 24-30, 2019 — Assisi Retreat, Italy

Jun 7-14, 2020 — Shared Heart Alaska Cruise

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of eight books, including two new books, To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man.

Call 831-684-2299 for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

Have you ever had a dream that you wanted so deeply, but it just did not seem to be coming forth for you? I would like to give you the possibility that, right as you are reading this article, details are being put into place to allow your dream to come true. It is just about believing, trusting, and keeping your vision.

When I finished my nursing degree at the Columbia University in New York City in 1968, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee where Barry began his first year of medical school. I worked as a public health nurse. I liked my job, but there was within me the deepest desire to go back to school and receive more education. Barry and I talked about this often. We were living on my meager salary as a nurse and paying all of two thousand dollars a year for his medical school. There was simply not enough money left over for me to also go to school. Barry promised that, as soon as he was done with his training, he would support me to go back to school. But he always asked the same question, “What exactly is it that you want to study? What kind of a graduate degree do you want to get?” Anyone wanting to go back to school should know the answers for these important questions. I did not.

I felt such a strong intuition and dream that I was to go back to school and learn valuable information for my entire life. I could not even imagine what kind of a graduate program could possibly give me that, but the dream within me grew day by day. And yet, day by day, I did my very humble job of serving the poorest of the poor in a ghetto in Nashville. I saw poverty that few in America even know exists. I realized that this work within itself was a valuable education, but I kept dreaming of being back in an academic setting.

A highlight of our time in Nashville was a friend inviting us to a party to meet her friend, Leo Buscaglia, who was visiting from Los Angeles. It was a night we would never forget. Leo initiated us into a new world of consciousness.

After two years in Nashville, Barry decided to transfer to USC in Los Angeles to finish his training. This was just fine with me, as the politics and prejudice of the south were difficult for me. Barry did not have to go to LA to interview. He was already accepted. But he felt he wanted to go and just see the school, so he chose a “convenient” weekend. I stayed at home since there was not enough money for both of us to go. On Barry’s return flight to Nashville, he ”happened” to sit next to a man named Bill. The two men got talking and Bill told Barry that he was just hired to work for Leo Buscaglia at USC. The job entailed finding ten students to receive a full scholarship and living expenses for a graduate program in which these ten students would have almost every class with Leo for a full year. Bill said, “As soon as word gets out about this incredible opportunity, I’ll probably receive thousands of applications. How am I ever going to find the ten best students for this unique experience? Barry said, “Well, my wife really wants to go back to school. This sounds like a perfect fit for her.” I didn’t even mention that we had met Leo and already loved him. Bill closed his eyes for a moment, then suddenly opened them and said, I just found my first graduate student!

Without knowing anything about me and trusting his intuition, Bill accepted me on the spot as one of the ten students. Imagine my total delight when Barry returned and told me I was accepted into this amazing graduate program.

We moved to LA and I began what was to become one of the most valuable years of my life, and certainly the most important part of my education. Leo Buscaglia taught me and the other nine chosen students all that he knew of love, dreams, courage, risk taking, love of self, seeing beauty in others and living a rich and fulfilling life. He had never offered this program before and got special permission from the university to offer it for one year. After that year, he left the university and went on to write many books, five of which remained on the New York Times Best Seller List for many years. In the 1980’s, he became the most sought after speaker in the United States with audiences of 10,000-15,000 each time. And all that he was speaking about in those huge auditoriums, he taught us ten students in a small room at USC. He was truly my first spiritual teacher.

I had the dream of going back to school for two years, but could never quite picture how it would work out. I could not picture it because it went beyond what I could have ever imagined.

Whenever I think of this miracle in my life, I am filled with gratitude for the gift I was given. And I also know that right now for all of us there is a miracle being worked out to make our dreams come true. Our job is to continue to believe, to trust that we are loved and deserving, to pray, to hope and never give up on our dreams.

Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:

Jul 21-26, 2019 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR

Sep 24-30, 2019 — Assisi Retreat, Italy

Feb 11-16, 2020 — The Couples Journey, Aptos

Jun 7-14, 2020 — Shared Heart Alaska Cruise, leaving from Seattle

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of eight books, including two new books, To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man.

Call 831-684-2299 for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

Reference Image
Close