Shared Heart

Shaken to Our Core -Joyce and Barry Vissell Newsletter 11.1.23

Welcome to our November 1 Newsletter. I am including an excerpt from our new book called Shaken to Our Core. I hope you enjoy!

The Greatest Journey  Jan 31- Feb 4, 2024

Find and live your dream, your passion, and your purpose! Individually and together with a small, carefully chosen group of 8-14 participants, these six months will help you recreate your life.

Autumn Couples Retreat  Nov 16-19

Would you like your relationship to reach a new level of love, healing, intimacy, and commitment? Couples describe these weekends as a safe and loving place to learn and practice new skills for their relating.

The Couple’s Journey  Feb 13-18

A 5-day retreat just for couples that will transform your relationship. During this retreat, you will not only be open to more love and connection than you thought possible, but you will have enough time to integrate these positive changes into your lives back home.

Excerpt from this month’s article: “We were NOT going to die in that bathroom!”

Our new book is out:

Five Very Influencial People

A Couple of Miracles: One Couple, More Than a Few Miracles, available only on as a Kindle e-book for only $6.95 (or paperback for $18.95). Here’s the link: A Couple of Miracles

This is a fantastic book by two amazing humans. I was brought to tears many times. I don’t want you to miss a word of this outstanding book.”

—Susan Campbell, PhD, author of Getting Real

“I would add to Joyce and Barry’s number of miracles … this book! When two health professionals, despite our training, can open their minds and consciousness to the truth of life, miracles can happen. Read this book!”

Shared Heart Column
Heartfulness     November 2023
with Joyce and Barry Vissell
“Shaken to Our Core”
(The following is an excerpt from our new book, A Couple of Miracles: One Couple, More Than a Few Miracles)
Shortly after 5 p.m. on October 17, 1989, I went into the bathroom where Joyce was in the bathtub with our five-month-old son, John-Nuriel. I started the after-bath ritual by spreading a towel on the floor next to the bathtub. Joyce handed me our precious little dripping bundle, and I laid him on the towel. At 5:04 pm, as I was reaching for the corners of the towel to dry our baby, the house began rocking violently.
In those first few seconds in our little rented Santa Cruz house, it felt much like the other rolling earth waves we had experienced. But this one got worse by the second! The house lurched with a deafening roar. I glanced out the bathroom window and saw, to my horror, that the trees seemed to be moving to the left. Then I realized that the trees were not moving … the house was moving to the right. Built on the topside of a ridge, the house was clearly beginning to slide downhill. I had the awful image in my mind of riding an out-of-control house down a steep hill while it crashed into trees and broke apart.
Joyce suddenly screamed from the bathtub, “Barry, pick up the baby!”
I bent down to grab our son, but the bouncing of the house threw me against the sink. I desperately tried again to reach for John-Nuri, but this time was nearly thrown into the bathtub with Joyce. Half the water in the tub poured over our infant son, while he helplessly screamed and sput­tered on his water-logged towel.
Past where our baby lay, the toilet lifted into the air as if some malevolent spirit was pushing from below, and the broken pipe sent water splashing off the ceiling and walls. Between the moving, bouncing, and breaking apart of our house, and the splashing of the water everywhere, the sounds were deafening! It was like the growling of some hidden monster below our house.
After an eternity that turned out to be somewhere between fifteen and twenty seconds, all became eerily still, except for the barking of many frightened dogs echoing across the valley below us.
I quickly picked up a thoroughly soaked and crying John-Nuri and tried my best to comfort him. With the power out and the water lines pulled apart, the pump stopped and so did the splashing.
Our ordeal had only just begun. There was a new sound, scarier than any other. Just out­side the open bathroom window, the gas line from our newly filled, 250-gallon propane tank was sheared off by the moving house. The tank’s unobstructed outlet valve was aimed straight at our open bathroom window. With a roaring whoosh, a thick white cloud of propane gas was pouring in through the window. Our naked bodies were being coated with propane as the bathroom filled with gas. I was aware that the tiniest spark could set off a blazing inferno in that tiny space.
I knew I needed to turn off the valve at the tank, but first I had to close the bathroom window. I ran to the window, and quickly discovered that it would be impossible to close it. The frame was bent, and the window wouldn’t budge.
It was definitely time to leave the bathroom! Still holding our baby, I yelled, “Joyce, quick, we gotta get out of here now.”
I turned toward the bathroom door, but debris from the cupboards and the cupboard doors themselves blocked our exit. I handed John-Nuri back to Joyce in the bathtub and fought my way through the clutter to the door.
I pulled on the doorknob. Nothing! The door was stuck solid. We were trapped in a bathroom filling with propane gas, with its peculiar, skunk-like smell. I knew we didn’t have long before we would succumb to the effects of breathing the toxic fumes….
I attacked the wedged door with a vengeance, knowing with certainty that we had only minutes before we would all pass out from breathing the propane gas pouring in through the broken window. We were NOT going to die in that bathroom!
Finally, with superhuman effort, I managed to pull the door free and the three of us made our way over the crazily uneven floor to the living room. In the living room, we met up with 13-year-old Rami and 8-year-old Mira, their faces white with fright. They had been in the kitchen, which was the worst mess in the whole house. Rami’s legs were bleeding from half a dozen small cuts from flying pieces of glass. Blood was dripping from a thankfully small cut on Mira’s head, where she’d been hit by a falling plate. It was like a bomb exploded in the kitchen, and our girls had been hit by shrapnel.

Our family reunited; we made our way over loose bricks that had exploded out of the fireplace into the living room, and through thick clouds of dust that were still settling. I’ll never forget the smell of destruction, of broken concrete and torn apart wood. I noticed that the floor and ceiling were separated from the walls, but it wasn’t until we got to the front door that we realized the full extent of damage to the house. It was then we knew with shocking certainty that we would never live in this house again.
Outside the open front door, where a concrete porch used to be, was now a chasm. We had to jump across this chasm to our porch. I went first, then held out my hand to grab each member of the family as they jumped. From the porch we could see that the house was five feet off the crumbled foundation, leaning precariously. By the grace of God, the roof had not caved in upon us all.

We helped each other out to the dirt road to view what had once been our home. The house and almost everything in it at that moment appeared totally destroyed. Rami started screaming. John-Nuriel was still coughing and choking on the bathtub water. Mira cried and asked, “Are we in the heaven world now?” And I imagine that, to a child, it could have easily looked like the end of the world.

I threw up my hands in ecstasy, shouting, “We’re alive! We’re alive!” We stood in a circle, thanking God and shouting, “We’re alive!” We kept hugging each other with the deepest sense of appreciation.
In that moment, as we stood naked on our dirt road, not knowing if we could recover anything of our material world, we were made aware of what is most important in life. Our home and possessions had been taken from us in twenty seconds, but we had each other. Standing among ruins, we found we had gratitude and appreciation for the most important things of all — our lives and one another.

Order our new book HERE.

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are passionate about conscious relationship and personal-spiritual growth. They are the authors of 10 books and a free audio album of sacred songs and chants. Visit for their free weekly inspirational video and monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

 Our schedule at a glance (details below — All events are now in-person): 

November 16-19:  Autumn Couples Retreat 
January 5-7, 2024:  Esalen Couples Retreat
January 31-February 4:  The Greatest Journey (Mentorship Program)
February 13-18, 2024:  The Couple’s Journey 

Quote of the Month:

“The pain of surrendering is due to our clinging to who we think we are, and what we think should be happening. But the surrender itself is exhilarating and joyous, not painful. – The Shared Heart, p. 35

Please join Joyce and me in holding a vision of a world where women, men and children of all nations, races and religions can see and feel the divine in themselves and one another. Here is our current 2023-2024 workshop schedule. Joyce and I would love to see you at one of these events. Please remember how important this spiritual-emotional growth work is. Together let’s take another step on this journey into the heart of love and deeper awareness, where real-world healing begins. Peace be with you all.

November 16-19:  Autumn Couples Retreat 
Would you like your relationship to reach a new level of love, healing, intimacy and commitment? Couples describe these weekends as a safe and loving place to learn and practice new skills for their relating.

January 5-7, 2024:  Esalen Couples Retreat
Learn skills to dramatically improve your relationship, while luxuriating at one of the most uniquely beautiful retreat centers we have ever visited. 

January 31-February 4:  The Greatest Journey (Mentorship Program)Find and live your dream, passion, and purpose! Individually and together with a small, carefully chosen group of 8-14 participants, these six months will help you transform your life.

February 13-18, 2024:  The Couple’s Journey 
A 5-day retreat just for couples that will transform your relationship. During this retreat, you will not only open to more love and connection you thought possible, but you will have enough time to integrate these positive changes into your lives back home.


We are excited to offer our FREE album of sacred songs and chants, “I Stand for Love,” our first musical recording. You can download the whole album for free or listen to it on YouTube. Wait till you hear the exquisite harmonies added by our son, John-Nuri.

Free Album Download
Listen on YouTube

Volunteers Needed. The Shared Heart Foundation needs volunteers. If you would like to support our vision and work, no matter where you live, email

Counseling with the Vissells.  For individuals or couples who want help, you can choose from one hour to a two-day intensive with either one or both of us.
Our love and blessings to you all,
Barry and Joyce Vissell
Please click on for inspiring articles about relationships and consciousness, as well as our updated schedule.

If you missed our last Shared Heart, it is here.

shaken to our core

If you missed our last Shared Heart, it is right here.


BeckyWillis is a "glass is half full" type of person, so she decided that she would share that with others. After going on 15 years in the blogosphere she decided it was time to make a change and in doing so help uplift others. Her husband is her biggest cheerleader; you can visit his site at

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