Dr Jean Houston
Dr Jean Houston is a world-renowned scholar, philosopher and researcher in human capacities. She is one of the foremost visionary thinkers and doers of our time, and one of the principal founders of the Human Potential Movement.
Jean has worked extensively in 40 cultures and more than 100 countries, helping global leaders and guiding educational and business organisations, and millions of individual people to enhance and deepen their own uniqueness.
As advisor to United Nations agencies in human and cultural development, she has worked to implement some of their extensive educational and health programs, and since 2003, she has been working with the UN Development Program, training leaders in developing countries through the world in the new field of social artistry.
Dr Houston was an advisor to President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and helped Hillary write her bestselling book It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.
She is a prolific writer and author of 28 books, including A Passion for the Possible, The Possible Human, A Mythic Life, Jump Time, Manual of the Peacemaker, and the Wizard of Us.
Joy attended Jean’s workshops in Adelaide and Brisbane in the 1990s and from that time listened to recordings of Jean’s work – taking inspiration from going inward with the template of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. In 2014 and 2015 Joy joined Jean in Greece for insights into the Golden Age of Greece and the holistic healing practice of Asclepius and currently for on-line learning titled Live Your Quantum Destiny.
Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM
Ian Maddocks was appointed to be the first Chair of Palliative Care at Flinders University in 1988 (the year after Joy began a private nurse practice). He was first President of the Australian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care and first President of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Palliative Medicine. He is internationally known for his research and for being a leader in palliative care education. In spite of all that he was a humble and wise mentor.
In a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald dated August 7, 2014 he wrote:
As a palliative care physician, I assist a patient’s dying; my intention is to maintain comfort, not determine the timing of death. I affirm that ‘control’ is a central component of care in terminal illness (as in all healthcare) with the patient and attending family fully informed of the realities they face, and of the choices available to them – where care might be offered, who might be assisting them, what equipment or medications will best represent, for them, optimal comfort.
The situation of the person with serious illness from which no improvement can be anticipated and which is judged to be ‘terminal’ in its future course often varies from day to day. Days of major discomfort and despair may be interspersed with days of relative wellbeing and peace of mind. Not infrequently, good things happen in this time. A man who had asked me about ‘euthanasia’, said some weeks later, "I am glad we were not able to take that option; my son has said things to me in the last week I thought he would never be able to say”. He had said, “I love you, Dad” (very important to both father and son)…
For all his achievements and activity, this remarkable man always gave his patients his mobile phone number so they would talk to him directly if they had a concern. This reassurance surely prevented a situation from escalating. Joy found Ian to be a remarkable and humble man. Joy valued his support for patients, when the need arose, and for the fact that he found time to be part of the education programs NurseLink (Joy’s practice and the trading name of NurseLink Foundation) offered.
Mary Potter LCM
When Joy returned to nursing at the age of 48 she was employed part time at the Mary Potter Hospice in North Adelaide, South Australia. What called her to this work was influenced by the experience of caring for her own mother when she was dying in 1979. At the Mary Potter Hospice Joy was touched by the love and care, not only given to those who were dying, but the beautiful and respectful care of the body after death had occurred. Joy became passionate about this work and after assisting in the setting up of the Mary Potter Foundation, she began her own private nurse practice to give people this essence of care privately in their own home.
From the LCM website:
The Sisters of the Little Company of Mary are to “be for others as Mary was for her Son on Calvary. They are to love the dying with a mother’s love.
For Mary Potter, relationship with God was not something that was to be kept to oneself. Rather, the nature of that relationship demanded concrete action. And it was a particular kind of action. To know oneself as deeply loved by God had only one outcome: a desire to share that sense of “being loved” with all but particularly, those who were dying. Mary Potter knew well the utter isolation and fear that can accompany the moments of sickness and as death approaches. Her desire was that the Sisters would reach out in prayer and person, and be the compassionate presence that could make a difference.
For Joy, being a loving presence at the bedside was something she had witnessed in the care given by the nuns at Mary Potter Hospice. Just ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ was to inspire her work on a one to one personalised basis. This is often contrary to the busyness of modern day nursing care in institutional settings. As the mother of four children, Joy had experienced the way love knows no bounds when it comes to being a mother.
Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
One of the first workshops Joy attended when she set up her nurse practice was a Life, Death and Transition workshop in Adelaide. Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was internationally known for running these workshops which encouraged the release of emotional wounds long buried in the unconscious. Participants voluntarily shared their stories, often expressing their long forgotten emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, love or joy. The triggering of each individual’s emotional memories and insights occurred as group members felt safe enough to share their own stories.
Joy learned how old patterns of behaviour which initially helped her to survive were no longer serving her. Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross coined the phrase “unfinished business” and highlighted the role “unfinished business” plays in end of life preparations. She also inspired the diagram Joy used in her practice to demonstrate the needs of the total person.
This workshop was Joy’s first encounter with young people who were suffering as a result of the AIDS virus. At the end of the workshop participants were encouraged to take a walk in nature to find a personal symbol that later would be burned in a fire with the intention of transformation.
At this time Joy was able to purchase cassette recordings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ work. She listened to these cassettes and read every book written by this remarkable woman who changed the way health professionals addressed the psychological treatment of terminally ill patients.
In the 1990s Joy met Rita Ward who was the first Australian to attend one of Elisabeth’s workshops in America. Rita was the facilitator and director of activity for Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in Australia, and was close to Elisabeth and her family for almost 30 years. At that time Joy had a practice in Brisbane which Rita ran for some time. Together Rita and Joy conducted end of life education in Brisbane and surrounding areas.
In 1994 Joy travelled to England for an international training course in Palliative Care. Following the course Joy discovered the Florence Nightingale Museum and immediately felt an energetic connection. So much so that on her return to Adelaide she changed the NurseLink logo from a butterfly to a logo which featured Florence Nightingale at its centre. At several International Nurse Healers’ Conferences Joy heard Janet Macrae, the co-author of Suggestions for Thought by Florence Nightingale - Selections and Commentaries, speak glowingly about working with Michael Calabria on their book. Janet Macrae, a nurse researcher and Therapeutic Touch practitioner in the USA, writes:
In ‘Suggestions for Thought’, one has the opportunity to experience one of the great practical minds of modern history as it grapples with the most profound questions of human existence. As these basic human issues are universal and timeless, Nightingale’s words are as immediate and compelling now as they were over a century ago.
Nightingale’s father gave Florence a classical education. She was taught Greek, Latin, French, German and Italian, history, philosophy and mathematics. The German diplomat and scholar Bunsen also was important to Florence’s intellectual and spiritual development. She visited his home in London, which had become a centre of scholarly activity. He introduced her to the works of the great German philosophers, historians and theologians of the day. As he studied Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Hindu scriptures as well as the Persian mystic Rumi, Florence was exposed to Buddhism, Sufism and Christian mystical traditions. Her education made her one of the foremost thinkers of her time.
Suggestions for Thought by Florence Nightingale - Selections and Commentaries and Val Webb’s (2002) Florence Nightingale - The making of a radical theologian are writings that brought Florence Nightingale alive for Joy.
Caroline Myss, the author of many New York Times bestselling books.
Titles include; Invisible Acts of Power, Sacred Contracts, Anatomy of the Spirit and Entering the Castle – An Inner Path to God and Your Soul. She is a pioneer and international lecturer in human consciousness and holistic health. She has a way of simplifying and unifying Eastern and Western mystical traditions.
Through her teaching on archetypes she has helped me to discover the instinctual psychological energy patterns in my life as well as to grow my intuitive ability to discern what is true for me and my soul’s journey. I love the way she describes ancient Holy Texts to reflect modern mysticism. The following is her definition of a mystical experience:
After completing her Master’s degree, Caroline co-founded Stillpoint Publishing and headed the editorial department, producing an average of ten books a year in the field of human consciousness and holistic health. Simultaneously Caroline refined her skills as a medical intuitive, with the assistance of C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D., a Harvard-trained neurosurgeon.
In September, 2016 I joined a group of people from many parts of the world to be further inspired by the teachings she gave at the Holy Site of Medjugorje in Bosnia Herzegovina and in beautiful Croatia. Albert Einstein said “Everything is energy and that's all there is to it.” For me Caroline’s ‘road map’ of using the body’s energy chakras to reflect our journey from our tribal influences in the Base Chakra through to the Crown Chakra which is the centre of spiritual connectedness gives me much insight and understanding.
Dame Cicely Saunders
Joy heard Dame Cecily Saunders speak of her life and work when she visited St Christopher’s Hospice in London in 1994 and again at conferences in Montreal and Singapore. She was impressed when Dame Cecily said: “We have to concern ourselves with the quality of life as well as its length” and “You matter because you are you.”
Like Florence Nightingale, this founder of the modern hospice movement came from a wealthy family and aspired to serve God through her life’s work. She initially trained as a nurse. As a nurse she became aware that giving compassionate care to the dying also required the skills of a social worker. So she became a social worker. A surgeon friend advised her to train as a doctor if she wanted to influence pain management and care of the terminally ill. She earned her medical degree in 1957.
This training formed the basis of her holistic approach to care and she is known for establishing new methods of pain control. Her understanding was that pain had physical, spiritual, psychological and social aspects to manage. She coined the phrase ‘total pain’ and set about to reshape end-of-life care by ensuring comfort in all the areas of a person’s life. This better overall care included space to be oneself. Knowing oneself is also of key importance in Joy’s education.
It was while volunteering at St Joseph’s Hospice in London that Dame Cicely Saunders learned to administer morphine before pain appeared – getting ahead of pain rather than responding to it. She discovered that if patients were given regular and adequate pain control the whole situation changed for them. Joy remembers Dame Cicely recounting that pain was also encountered when a husband visiting his wife in St Christopher’s Hospice had to take three buses to visit. She was sensitive to seemingly little things and this also inspired Joy’s initial assessment.
Dame Cicely believed that to face death is to face life and to come to terms with one is to learn about the other. This is the core of Joy’s work and why Life Keys is a heading on the main menu.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a famous French philosopher and a Jesuit priest who was also known for his controversial writings. He trained as a palaeontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of Peking Man. Joy first learned about this extraordinary man from her mentor Dr Jean Houston who as a teenager used to take walks with him. Some excerpts from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s writing follow.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
“…Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.”
“Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.”
“In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it has happened.”
“The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.”
Joy can appreciate the life of this intellectual and mystic and the troubles he had with his Superiors in the Catholic Church. For example, the insights she had into the needs of people at the end of their life were not always in line with those working in the area of palliative care in traditional settings.
When Joy began a private nurse practice in palliative care in 1987 there was much criticism and disapproval from funded services. Joy would say in return that patients had to pay for the services she offered and if she wasn’t doing something worthwhile her services would not be required. She gained word of mouth referrals in spite of this disapproval and for nearly three decades she supported those in the private sector.
At times Joy employed and supervised from 50 to 100 palliative care assistants. Joy found it important to match those being employed with the needs of those seeking support. If personality or some other factor caused a lack of harmony the caring team member was changed. This reinforced choice and a close bond was formed with the families in Joy’s care.
The patient pictured here was a nursing home patient and Joy would go for a morning each week to record a memoir and to be a sounding board for memories and reflections. In her book As Good As Goodbyes Get – a window into death and dying, Joy has recorded a number of case histories knowing that story and anecdote have always played a part in the hospice movement.