Saturday , August 8 2020

The Shared Heart – What Would Your Sign Say?

By Joyce and Barry Vissell –

January 21, 2017 will long be remembered as the day of the women’s marches. It is so inspiring that (men and) women from each continent participated, including Antarctica! We just watched a women’s march that took place in Israel, in which Jewish and Arab women marched together. We couldn’t read their signs, but I can only imagine that they all wanted peace. There seems to have been such a feeling of joy within these marches.

Barry and I had scheduled our second mentorship four-day session during this time, not knowing that these marches would be taking place. I woke up that morning feeling that something special must be done to honor all of the women and men marching all over the world, and somehow join in their energy. So, Barry and I and the nine women in our group sat at our dining room table and made our own signs, using large pieces of paper, crayons, markers, and colored pencils. We asked each woman to express the deepest feeling they would put on their sign, as if they would be on display in Washington, DC.

When the signs were finished, we went into the living room, and each person stood up with their sign and told us why the words were so meaningful to them. In this way, each person gave a little talk which was inspiring, and also insightful as to who they are, and their deepest values.

My sign was quite simple and said, “Love one another as I have loved you–Jesus.” I’ve always loved this quote, and my mother repeated it to me often when I was growing up. Jesus loved all people. They didn’t have to be his own Jewish religion for him to love them and reach out to help. He gave water to a non-Jewish woman at a well, which was forbidden to do. He helped a prostitute and saw goodness in her, so that she wanted to change her life and follow him. He had dinner at a tax collector’s house, a man that everyone despised. He invited another tax collector to be one of his followers. His own disciples criticized him for opening his heart and love to so many different types of people that others were shunning. His response was that he came to help all; a true sense of equality. Equality and love for all beings is what I want to march for.

Barry was the last to hold up his sign, which we all loved. “I am a man dedicated to making it safe for all women.” Truly this is who Barry is. Can you imagine a world in which more men could hold up a sign like that and truly mean it? I posted Barry holding his sign on my Facebook page, and I’m pleased with how far this photo went. It’s a message that’s needed at this time.

After each person spoke about their sign, we then marched around our living room holding our signs, singing a powerful song. We felt connected to everyone who was marching in the streets around the world.

Did the marches all over the world do any good?

Forty-eight years ago, Barry and I were in one of the first civil rights marches in the south. We lived in Nashville, Tennessee at the time, and we heard about a march several hours away in the deeper rural south. We, along with our friend Jim, were excited to go and participate. We reached this small southern town, and Dick Gregory was the organizer and speaker. There were many blacks, and we were the only whites. We were welcomed, yet told it was more dangerous for us whites. We marched with these poor blacks down the streets of the town. The whites looking on yelled and cursed at us, and some threw things. It was loud, and scary, as we continued down the street, then it became violent. The police came and started using clubs and arresting people. One of the organizers told us to leave quickly, as they would be the hardest on us. Like Harry Potter and the invisible cloak, we left undetected, and drove home realizing that we had placed ourselves in a very dangerous situation. There must have been TV coverage of the march, for the next day I was called into my place of work as a public health nurse, and told I could never march again, or I would lose my job, and never be able to get another one in the city.

One march… Did it do any good? Was our effort and putting ourselves in danger worth it? I like to think it was. True, it was only a drop in the bucket of what had to happen, yet it was a drop, and we participated in that drop. Forty years later, our country proudly elected our first black president. All of those marches, all of those signs, all of that effort in the end truly paid off.

What would your sign say? As a good practice, sit at your dining room table with crayons or markers and paper, and make a sign that holds your deepest feeling about what is going on right now in our world. Make it positive, inspiring, and loving, something you could show your children, and explain why you wrote what you did. You could also sit with a group of friends and create your signs together, or sit with your children and talk about them. Your sign, and especially how you live the truth of what it says, will place another drop into the bucket of what’s needed right now.


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 many inspirational books.

Call 831-684-2299, or write the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings, or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their website at for their monthly e-heartletter, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.


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