Barbara Dossey, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN, HWNC-BC, is an internationally recognized integrative, holistic nursing pioneer, a nurse theorist (Theory of Integral Nursing; co-author, Theory of Integrative Nurse Coaching), and a Florence Nightingale Scholar. She is Co-Founder, International Nurse Coach Association (INCA) and Co-Founder, Integrative Nurse Coach Academy, Miami, Florida; International Co-Director, Nightingale Initiative for Global Health (NIGH); and Director of Holistic Nursing Consultants (HNC), Santa Fe, New Mexico.
She has authored or co-authored 31 books. She contributed to Dossey and Keegan’s Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice (8th ed., 2022; co-author and editor on 1st to 7th editions). Her recent publications include The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide for Coaching Scope and Competencies (2nd ed., 2021); Nurse Coaching: Integrative Approaches for Health and Wellbeing (2015); and Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Healer (2010, Commemorative Edition). She has also published numerous textbook chapters and articles, and presented many local, national, and global conference keynote addresses.
She is a founding member of the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) and received the AHNA 1985 Holistic Nurse of the Year, and the 2014 AHNA Lifetime Achievement Award. She is an 11-time recipient of the prestigious American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award and has received many other awards and recognitions.
“One of the great joys in this profession of Nursing is having found like-minded soulmates. As I continue, one of the joys is tapping in with like-minded brothers and sisters, finding those special few that…I can put an idea out there and they won’t think I’m crazy.”
Nicole Vienneau 00:00
Welcome, everyone, to Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! My name is Nicole Vienneau, I am your host, and I am also a Board Certified Integrative Nurse Coach. And I cannot even express how excited I am today to have our next guest in the house.
We invite Barbara Dossey to the Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! Podcast. Barbara Dossey is an internationally recognized integrative holistic Nursing pioneer. She is a Nurse theorist, and I am so excited because I am in the presence of a real-life Nurse theorist! She is a Nurse theorist for the Theory of Integral Nursing.
She’s the co-author of The Theory of Integrative Nurse Coaching. She is a Florence Nightingale scholar. Barbara is co-founder of the International Nurse Coach Association and co-founder of the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy. She is the International Co-Director of the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health and the Director of Holistic Nursing Consultants in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has co-authored and authored over 31 books, and she contributed to Dossey & Keegan’s Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice, which is in its eighth edition now.
And her recent publications include The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide for Coaching Scope and Competencies. It’s a book you’ll really want to get if you are thinking about Nurse Coaching. In addition, the Nurse Coaching: Integrative Approaches for Health and Wellbeing, which is, and Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Healer.
She has also published numerous textbook chapters and articles and presented many local and national and global conference keynote addresses. She is a founding member of the American Holistic Nurses Association and received the American Nurses Association 1985 Holistic Nurse of the Year, and in 2014, the American Holistic Nurses Association Lifetime Achievement Award. And she is an 11th time recipient of the prestigious American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year award, and it has received many other awards and recognitions.
And I can personally say I could go on and on about Barbie Dossey, who has really changed my perception of Nursing in general. And I am just thrilled to be with her today, and I know all of our listeners are so excited to have you on the show today, Barbie. Welcome!
Barbara Dossey 02:50
Nicole, I am honored to be here. And I am just joyful to think about us meeting in cohort four. And we had the privilege of working, also, in a small group that was just remarkable, what can I say? And I just am excited about sharing my journey with the listeners and how in the world did I get where I am today?
Nicole Vienneau 03:14
Oh, I know, and I remember back when we first met in cohort number four. That is over nine years ago now. And I still remember thinking, what in the world did I get myself into, doing this Nurse Coaching thing, traveling to New York City? And there you are.
Barbara Dossey 03:36
You know, I just love the Nursing journey. I love life and its journey about who the universe merges paths with and that’s exactly… and the thing is we have so much in common, with my background in critical care for 25 years, she was a critical care Nurse.
And I remember you asking that question, even when we went around in the small circle to begin with: what do you want to get out of this program and why are you here? And you said exactly what you just said, then; “I have no idea why I’m here.” And then I just said, “Oh, the journey’s gonna be remarkable and this is what you and I have in common with a critical care background.”
Nicole Vienneau 04:18
Yes, yes. And then the journey in between then and the journey that has come before and ability to connect on such a deeper level. So, I’m very thankful that you are in my life.
Barbara Dossey 04:31
Right, and just, since I’ve already started about that, let me just with our listeners, to let them know what my journey is, before we really get into the depth of that Nurse Coaching. I graduated from Nursing school in 1965. And the program that I graduated from; I was blessed that I graduated from an accredited BSN program. I had no idea.
And one of the threads that helped me look at getting into theory and all that was our school at the time, Baylor University, was going through the NLN review process. And so here we are, there were just 30 people in my class, but we were interviewed personally by these accreditors, you know, from the NLN, asking us all these questions. And I mean, it was extremely informative, and it was a privilege and a thrill, every day, while we had those reviewers there.
And then they came back three months later. But to look at I have entered a profession — I had no idea, it’s just, you know, I’m gonna be a Nurse — but oh my gosh, I have entered a profession that has this philosophical foundation and these standards. So, that threw me into it. I’m just gonna say one other thing about that. I could get five extra points by doing two things in my Nursing leadership course. And of course, you’re always trying to get a few extra points.
One was to join the ANA, as a student Nurse, and I did in 1965, I’ve never let my membership lapse from ANA. And the second one was to attend a Nursing theory conference in Dallas, Texas. Oh my gosh, and to go and hear these wise women, and a couple of men, speaking about theory, and looking at and elevating and just expanding my worldview, that is the thing that just planted a seed.
And then from there, just one thing led to another. So, I was very blessed that the only thing that I really liked in my rotations in Nursing school was critical care. And that was a time where, if you liked it, and you, you know, were good, you would be invited to go ahead and start the critical care unit without any experience.
And it was absolutely a thrill. And one thing led to another and my journey… I think the one thing that’s profound in this profession, is when I began critical care Nursing, it was about the “we”. It’s “we are in this together.” This critical care unit is the “we” and it’s no blame or anything. And that went on for about five years.
I also entered at a time where there were no textbooks written for Nurses on critical care, written by Nurses. The critical care book, there were two of them, and they were written by physicians. And so, a couple of my colleagues and I went to the magnificent, and it still is, National Teaching Institute of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
And we listened to these physicians — marvelous, brilliant men in what they were doing — and then we would go and look at the booths and see what was there and exhibited. And we looked at these books, and we went, “Our teaching tools, for the unit, to teach each other, they’re better than this.” And so, two colleagues and I — well, there’s three — we went out to dinner one night, and yes, we had a couple of glasses of wine, and we just started acting like, why don’t we write a book? If we think this is good, we’ve already done these teaching tools.
And then what happened is that was a teaching institute. Now that we’re back in Dallas, working in our critical care units, we’re working in four different hospitals. And then we couldn’t let it go. And after about two or three months, we would see each other monthly at our critical care, our Dallas chapter of AACN, and one night, we had dinner together and none of us could forget it.
And so, that became a labor of love. And that was my first textbook, not a little one, it was over 500 pages. And that was Critical Care Nursing: Body, Mind, Spirit. And so, that is the journey. And this is joyful now, 56 years in the profession, one of the great gifts of this profession are the brilliant like-minded colleagues that you meet along the way.
And one of the things that I had to find for myself, in order to survive, is who is my soulmate? Because I was already saying we can do more in this critical care unit, and how are we going to help meet the needs of the patients, and like you, I work very fast. And then I had a lot of time to talk with patients. And then people would criticize me because I talk too much to the patients.
You know, go do this and that. But this is part of the care. And so, one thing led to another, and the privilege of working in critical care is listening to the story of patients. Every patient will tell you exactly what they need, what they want. And for us to be able to catch the words of a person’s story and then that becomes the stem for asking them a curious question.
Along the way, in the late 60s, I recognized that I needed to learn something about these different new alternative therapies that were coming out. And that was imagery and relaxation, therapeutic touch, and meditation. And going to, I mean, Larry, my husband and I, we’re just junkies. He was just beginning internal medicine practice, and we were like, just, you know, we were going to weekend workshops constantly or we were signing up for something that would last six months where we go, you know, once a month, which is… it was a privilege.
And then by the mid 70s, it became very clear that — and that was around… that was between 65 and 75. And then between 75 and 80, working on that first book and all this stuff. And Larry and I were working in the same hospital, and we would always finish the day, we’d come home and say, “Well, what happened to you today? What kind of stories did you hear?”
But it was about the integration of, how do you work with helping people shift their consciousness and listen to the metaphors and the stories that they tell themselves, which will lead either to successful treatment, or it can really take them on a downward spiral.
And one day in the late, probably in the mid 70s, Larry said to me — because I was beginning to do therapeutic touch and relaxation imagery — he said, “I just want to tell you something right now”, he said, “You’re getting ready to get fired from this hospital.” And I said, “No, I’m not!” And he said, “Just think about what you’re doing.
There is no Nursing research on what you’re doing. There is no protocol in this hospital. There’s no protocol within the ACCN. They have all those guidelines on physiology and pathology and getting rid of symptoms and making people feel better, but you’re looking at a whole other area of how do you engage people’s consciousness on their own behalf, and it is called Voodoo and you know that.” And I said, “You’re absolutely right.”
And so, from there, that was in the mid 70s, is finding like-minded soulmates. And I will say right now, as we begin this, to all the listeners, if you can find at least one soulmate on this journey, and it is about life’s journey, whatever you’re doing, so that soulmate can listen to you when you think you’re going crazy. When no one appreciates what you’re trying to share, if you have one person that will listen to you, and then maybe ask you a few curious questions, that is what keeps you steady.
And so, that has been my joy, it continues to still be my joy, because even at 56 years in Nursing, being 78 years old, I still have all of these challenges with colleagues. And you find your soulmate, and then this is the beauty of where you pull in theory, and you continue to go into your own place.
And this is a word I probably will use in our conversation, that is you go into your own interiority. And this own interiority is not about… it’s not selfish, but you have to explore who you are and where you come from and what is your purpose. What is your mission? To get really clear about core values. And then when you do that, you recognize that this is going to help you in the journey.
And again, you have to take care of yourself, you have to explore these kinds of questions. And even one of the things that I find absolutely needed every day — and it’s exactly what you did before we began this — you said, “Barbie, let’s take a few minutes, and let’s just honor our time together.” And we did that for a couple of minutes. And we each were able, because we do practices in our life, we were able to find a still point and then we began the conversation with ease and joy.
Nicole Vienneau 14:28
Ease and joy. How everyone would love to be living life with ease and joy in every moment.
Barbara Dossey 14:37
Yes, indeed. And that is, you know, one of our great gifts that we can do right now for ourselves, because life is really quite crazy. The pandemic has been, it’s opened up — it’s allowed us to go to many different places.
And we’ve either been able to expand our capacities for noticing, waking up to what it is that we need, and creating rituals of healing for ourselves so that we can move forward with honoring who we are, who is it that we want to work with? What do we want to do in the next five minutes? What do we want to do in the next couple of weeks or, you know, longer?
Nicole Vienneau 15:23
So, I really enjoyed hearing a snippet of your history. And right from the get-go, it seems like you were just finding things that needed to happen, in order to move the needle in Nursing, and just taking action. Like, I’m imagining you, with your colleagues sitting around, having a beverage, and all of a sudden, you say, “like, we can do better than what is here right now”. And so, instead of just talking about it, we’re gonna actually do that, we’re gonna write a textbook.
Barbara Dossey 15:59
And let me say, that was really difficult. And you did look at one of my strengths. I can get a big idea. I don’t know how I’m gonna get there. I don’t know the steps. And this is the beauty of where we are with Nurse Coaching, is we just open it up, you don’t have to know. We do mind maps and pull in 20, or 30, or 40 ideas.
And one of the things that I started doing early is I had a folder, it’s just called ideas. I would write something on a napkin, if I was out eating or had an idea, but I’m working on something, I just write it down and I put it in that folder. And about once a month, I would go in there and I would have 50, 60, 70 pieces of papers, just little notes.
And then I would start laying them out to do a mind map and I go, “Oh my gosh,” and what seemed like maybe 20 different projects, all of a sudden, they were threads to the same project, and I had never been able to see it.
But then, this is a key to this, is you can’t move people if they are not ready. This is where the coaching comes in. And so, one of the things that was very clear to me when I got excited about this — boy, I was copying articles and putting them on people’s desk and getting to do that — and one time one of my colleagues came to me, same thing happened with Larry, is quit putting those articles on our desk. We are not going to use it and you’re wasting Xerox paper.
And then one of the things… and this was early in my relationship with Larry because Larry is very thoughtful, very purposeful. He works on one project at a time. And he does not keep notes. He files them away in his head. I am an Aries, I am high energy, high action, I get an idea.
And Larry sat me down one day and he said, “I want to say something to you.” And he said, “And I want you to hear what I’m going to say, and it is going to be uncomfortable.” And I said, “Well, go ahead, no big deal!” And he said, “Okay, I want to say, first of all, I love you. You’re the love of my life. And what I want to tell you is sometimes you’re like a steamroller. You get an idea, and you just plow through, and you knock anything in the way down.”
Well, I burst into tears. And that became my journey of oh, just because I’m excited doesn’t mean that everybody else is excited or they can see it. And so, that became… I mean, that was a gift that he gave me. And yes, my feelings were hurt. And he said, “But let’s look at what this is about.” He said, “You have so much energy, you’re gonna have it all of your life. And you’ve got to learn how to slow down.”
And also — and this is what we do in Nurse Coaching, we learn how to down regulate — and this is emotional resilience. It’s learning how to down regulate and be in touch with emotions. And then that was, you know, one of the early things. And then doing my reflecting and relaxation practices.
So, what I would say with that is, again, it’s back to the journey with colleagues. And I’ve got great ideas, but oh my gosh, you put me with a group of like-minded Nurse colleagues, then working with interprofessional colleagues, and then bringing in consumers to work with us on an idea, this is how we’re going to transform and truly have healthy people living on a healthy planet.
It’s not just Nurses, but it’s also inter-professionals and then bringing in, like I say, those precious people that we have the privilege of serving and helping all of it come together.
Nicole Vienneau 20:04
Yes, it takes many people to move the needle, many people to move a mountain, each carrying little pebbles away. Yes. One thing that you said has stayed with me for many years — and it actually helps me when I, you know, I too am an Aries and I have a lot of ideas and I get stuff done. But sometimes I get a little nervous of, you know, that I wouldn’t know enough or have enough, or have the right direction, or the best or the greatest idea.
But I have a lot of ideas. And so, one thing that you have said that has stuck with me is, you spoke of this when you were talking about creating Nurse Coaching and moving that vision forward, and it was: you know, we don’t have all the answers, but we just know we have to begin.
And that has just stuck with me, and has helped me take numerous steps back, and not be the bulldozer, to take a step back and realize that there’s… you know, I don’t have to know everything, but I do know that we need to move forward. So, I’m hoping that you could share a little bit more about that concept with our listeners.
Barbara Dossey 21:37
Well, that’s a big one. So, let me just wave a few things in here. Around 2008, a new conversation was beginning, called health and wellness coaching. I can’t say enough about the American Holistic Nurses Association. I was very blessed in 1980 for Charlie McGuire, who was the founder of AHNA, to put a call out. I happened to see a brochure. I was in Dallas.
She was doing this in a suburb of Houston. And I was one of 75 people at that meeting, and to be able to find 75 people that want to start a new organization that recognize the science, but they also are interested in looking at this expanding consciousness and how do we put body, mind, and spirit and culture and environment together? And so that was one of the great joys of my life. And it still is, to be part of the American Holistic Nurses Association.
So, in 2008, there were about four or five… well, let’s say about ten in the AHNA. And we sat down at one of the annual meetings, and we said, “Where are Nurses in this conversation? Right now, it’s been driven by psychology, social work, and we love our brothers and sisters in the field, but Nurses are not at the table with them. How do we do this?”
And so, this is… again, the beauty of our Nursing, is in our core values, and in the American Holistic Nurse Association, and in the Integrative Nurse Coach Association, because we have the parallel walk here, and it’s philosophy, theory, and ethics is at core value one. And then at core value two is Nurse Coach self-care in AHNA. It’s holistic Nurse self-care. And so, how do you do that?
So, I think one of the things I want to say here — and I’m weaving another thread in this because I no longer separate my Florence Nightingale scholarship with my holistic Nursing scholarship, or my Integrative Nurse Coaching scholarship. And one of the things about Florence Nightingale — as you know, in my work, I brought her forward as a 19th century mystic. People can go to my dosseydossey.com and find my original research on this –
But one of the things that became very clear to me when I was doing that research, is first of all, in reading, I had the privilege of seven years of reading Florence Nightingale. She left us 14,000 letters in the archives. Now that we have the internet, we’re discovering that she left us about 19,000 archives, not 14,000. And so, as I was reading those letters, the one thing that I wanted to understand more is she records hearing the voice of God right before her 17th birthday.
Now there is a lot on that but what I want to do is say here, is in bringing Nightingale forward as a 19th century mystic, I went back to the definitive work of Evelyn Underhill, who wrote her book on Mysticism. That’s what it’s called, it’s still the definitive text on Western mysticism. What I’m speaking about here is Western mysticism, not Eastern mysticism. That’s a whole other 27 layers, or more. And so, when we look at Western mysticism, there are five phases of Mystic Spiritual Development.
The first one is Awake. And with Nightingale, and what Evelyn Underhill does with definitions here, Awake for Nightingale, this was her hearing the voice of God right before her 17th birthday. She was Awake. And this is where we are in Nursing with this conversation. We are awake, we cannot go back to sleep because we know things can be better.
We can’t do them alone; we can put them together. Whether you look at hearing the voice of God or not, we can use these parallel five phases of Mystic Spiritual Development on our own journey to a deeper level of interiority.
The second thing is Purgation. You spoke to that. I spoke to Purgation. And this is where you get a great idea, you go, “Man, I’m going to go forward!” But, oh, we realize we don’t have all the pieces, how can we put it together? Well, we’ll just kind of start. So, Nightingale was in a period of Purgation for about 15 years.
Then she moves into Illumination. Illumination is literally when she is on fire with God. And we can use this analogy in our work right now with the International Nurse Coach Association, with the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy, with the American Holistic Nursing Academy, there are many people that are going to be listening that belong to their organizations and do their work. And this is what Illumination is about. It is that you are on fire with purpose, with intention, and that is the only way it can be sustained.
Then, the fourth phase is Surrender. For Florence Nightingale she was in a phase of Surrender from age 37 to about 88 years old, a very long time. So, she does the great body of her work for over 40 years in a Surrender phase. And again, we don’t have… I’m not going to go any further than that.
And then the last is Union. That is where you feel this connection with the divine. However, it is that you want to feel. How do you feel a connectedness with something greater than yourself? So, spirituality is a driving force in this. How do you feel connected? What keeps you connected and grounded? Family, friends, philosophy, exploring your own interiority.
So, if you look at these five phases of Awake, Purgation, Illumination, Surrender, and Union, it’s not like it’s step 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, but we’re awake with an idea. And then we started to Purgation, we’re going to start, we don’t know exactly what we’re going to do, I don’t know exactly how to put it together. And we kind of muff around, and then we are Awake again. We recognize that, and then all of a sudden, we’re in Illumination.
And then we recognize, oh my gosh, I don’t have all the pieces together. So, we go into our own interiority, we do our practices to go to a deeper level. So, with these five phases: Awake, Purgation, Illumination, Surrender, Union, you can be Awake, and then you go into Surrender. And then you take… you go four steps forward, then you go back into feeling confused, two steps back, and then you take a step forward. So, are you with me on that? This is life’s journey.
And so, this is the importance of where we are in this work and where we are right now. And the reason we have made such strides from 2010 to now, here we are in 2021, is because it has been like minded colleagues coming together. And when we started International Nurse Coach Association, it was real clear that if we want to contribute, that we had to start. We don’t have to have all the pieces together, which is what began this conversation.
And as we start and we come together, and as you’re so aware because you were in cohort four, is that we had the pieces together, and we began to look at we need a mid-range theory of Integrative Nurse Coaching if we’re going to sustain. So, how do we do all of these different theories? Put them together? How do we then create an assessment tool that is grounded in the philosophy of Integrative Nurse Coaching?
Then, again, starting with a tool, gathering the data, and then streamlining it and then doing interrater reliability to finally publish the tool after seven years. Publishing the textbook and the theory after five years, and again, we’re now going into that second iteration of refining the tool, refining the theory, taking it to the next level. And this is the joy of the work.
And I think that is just wonderful, and I’m so happy that that was a pearl that was dropped to you. Just go ahead and start. And what you have done, when I think of all the precious Nurse Coaches and other inter-professionals that you’ve worked with, it’s like, let’s just do this, we don’t have to have all the pieces together, but let’s stay steady. And that is, you know, one of the key places of that.
And, you know, in this work of Nurse Coaching, that second core value is Nurse Coach self-development. And so, part of that is that dropping into that still point, however it is that one gets there, I think, is we look at where we are in society in general. And when I say society, I’m talking about global, as well. There is so much suffering.
And one of the things that I do believe is that the word burnout is just tossed around all the time. I, personally, do recognize that burnout is there. Another word that is thrown around a lot is compassion fatigue. Those are entities that do exist. But I do believe that one way not to move to burnout, or to compassion fatigue, is when we are doing our own inner work.
Burnout and compassion fatigue are about losing one’s sense of spiritual awareness, grounded in spiritual aliveness. And when we are aware of healing, of being healing is a lifelong journey, where we open up what we have closed down, when we recognize a story around that, when we then go into that place that we were speaking about, when we go into a surrender phase of recognizing what is our story, what are we telling ourselves about our own suffering?
And so, another word that is used a lot is compassion. And so, when we look at compassion, to truly deeply understand compassion, it is opening to suffering. And it is opening first to our own suffering. And as we open to our own suffering, we then open wide our heart, and we recognize the suffering of others. And in recognizing the suffering of others, then this helps us to truly look at the empathy.
And this is where our practices come in. And one that we certainly use in our work of Integrative Nurse Coaching is strong back, soft front. And so, if we are doing our practice, and it’s like, as I’m sitting here, as I am comfortable in the chair, I just put my feet on the ground.
And so, even though my back is touching the chair, I’m not totally collapsing into it, but I’m sitting with a strong back. And so, the principle and the quality I want to share is when the back is strong, and yes, it’s a metaphor, but using our physical body to tap into that, then I can take a belly breath, and breathe out and let my stomach blow up like a balloon, and I can let my stomach fall back to my spine.
And so, when I am having this strong back, and I am doing my practice, or when I’m with someone who is sharing their story of suffering, I don’t collapse into the story of suffering, and move to a sympathy and have a place of sympathy and have pity for that person. I am holding a place. I’m the container to hold their story of suffering. I don’t collapse into it. And so, this is one of the great gifts that we all do in our Nurse Coaching practice.
Nicole Vienneau 34:49
And I wanted to give that space.
Barbara Dossey 34:56
So, a word that I had used was still point. And as I sit here after doing, just saying those words, and connecting my somatic experience with my emotional and spiritual awareness, it’s like one of our practices in Nurse Coaching is a heart math practice of heart breathing. And so, when we slow down our breathing, to get it not here at clavicle level of doing, taking a shallow breath, and it’s sinking down, is we are aware of moving not only to belly breathing for and we slow that down, but the heart breathing.
And this is the heart breath where we expand and open our heart. And as we open our heart, then we are connecting that somatic experience of downregulating. We get off of the treadmill, which is a phrase you and I use a lot with our critical care backgrounds, get off the treadmill. And as you step off, hold on to something in feet, ground your feet and then sit.
But this heart breathing, and this is the beauty of helping us know that our consciousness, it just isn’t inside us. And a word that Larry has brought forward is nonlocal consciousness. One mind. Know that we’re in this together.
And it’s like you and I, right now you’re in Washington State, I’m here in New Mexico, speaking to you from my home office in Santa Fe, is that we’re in each other’s fields. And this is even though you and I aren’t looking at each other, there is an experience.
This is that nonlocality of consciousness, even if we’re not seeing each other, our voices together create a rhythm and a dynamic that it just expands way, way out. And this is the beauty of the work. It’s the beauty of the practices in our life, too. And this is, you know, we use that phrase, let’s walk our talk. And when I say walk our talk, it is grounded in an awareness of our interiority.
And so, as you and I share thoughts today and you’re being very precious and letting me just go ahead and talk, our spiritual intelligences, our somatic intelligence, our cognitive intelligence, our moral intelligence, our moral compass, all of it is coming together.
And the interprofessional — I mean, we have spoken, and I see you with your kitties running up and down the couch behind you. My hubby’s in the other room working. He’s on a zoom call, too. And I know your hubby’s busy doing something, too. And to be aware of having these people in our lives and our family members that can keep us grounded, that understand what we’re trying to share.
And again, that happens because, well, Larry and me, at the end of our day, it’s like, what did the day… what were the gifts that the day gave you? And I can’t wait to share with him tonight when we have time. What are the gifts that you gave? And it was, you know, speaking with you and knowing that our conversation is going out to a lot of people. Thank you.
Nicole Vienneau 38:39
Thank you, thank you so much. And this is just such a gift to be able to just listen, and just absorb, and just hear your thoughts on so many things. And, you know, there’s also one thing that you often say, and for us go-getters and wanting to get things done so quickly and move it forward and, you know, all of that kind of stuff, you have said Nurse Coaching is the long vision.
Barbara Dossey 39:16
Yes, it is. Yeah.
Nicole Vienneau 39:19
So, I would love an expansion on what that means to you and how we can apply that as Nurse Coaches, as Nurses, as healthcare professionals.
Barbara Dossey 39:29
Oh, well, that’s what we’re doing together right now. It’s the long haul. And if we can remember that we are passing through here. And so, here I am at 78. Larry and I think we’re gonna live to 95, maybe 100. But if when you turn 78 — and Larry’s 81 this September, we still feel like we’re in our 50s or 60s — you can do the math.
So, you look at where are you gonna put your attention for the next 15 years. We’re in it for the long haul, we know we’re going to be here longer than that, if good health continues, which we both have right now. And we are excited by our friends and our family and ideas. We are deeply impacted by the suffering in the world right now.
And so, with this metaphor, and with this awareness, and knowing how to use our skills to stay steady, if we look at what’s the long haul. So, if we look at healthy people living on a healthy planet, that’s the long haul. What are we going to leave in our next 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years?
But if we look at right now, we’re in 2020, we look at the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This is not something that just the UN did, this has been a process that’s been going on now almost for 17, going on pretty soon, 20 years. And it started with the eight UN Millennium Development Goals, but they were too compressed and compacted.
And then what happened is, this brilliant body at the UN said, maybe we can make this work if we unpack this. So, it became the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And I just invite everybody to look at this. But number three is good health and wellbeing with one and two being poverty and hunger. And we look at equality and clean water and life on land, life under water. And then the 17th one is partnerships, how do we create global partnerships to succeed?
Now, the beauty of this, and where Nursing fits in with this, is we know that we have 24 million Nurses and midwives around the world. All of the 195 member nations of the United Nations have these magnificent, excited, brilliant Nurses in their countries. And all of the upper level of the government in these nations are focused on the UN SDGs.
And so, here we are, as Nurses, at the grassroots level, and what can we do then to bring these together where we don’t have that gap? When we look at these 17 SDGs, the SDGs right now is let’s look at where we can be by 2030. So, let’s go back and look at the long haul. Here we are, it is… what is it? It’s June the 18th, 2021. 2030 is not that far away.
We look at Healthy Nation, Healthy People, here in the United States, we also have that, it’s going out to 2030. So, what do we want to do in our own lives to pull all of these pieces together?
And it starts with looking at going to the grocery store, and I’m just astonished about how difficult it is to come home and not have a lot of plastic sacks from fruits and vegetables and things that you want with the way they’re already packaged, and you can’t get them unless they’re in the packages. You know, a consciousness.
So, it’s having these conversations in our homes, with our family, in our neighborhood, with our friends, and then with our colleagues in the clinic and in the hospital. And then looking at healthcare without harm. All of these magnificent NGOs and how they’re functioning. And just, again, like you said, I’m just going to take a step and I’m going to look at a link and put all these pieces together. So, one step helps us toward that long haul.
And one of the other things that I say a lot — and I use this myself a lot because, man, I’ve got energy and, you know, I’ve got 20 things on my list starting the day. I can strike off seven or eight and then I put about five more on — but it’s stay steady.
And it’s like, you know, the belly breathing, the heart breathing, just stay steady right now, Barbie. Don’t think about all those other things on the to do list. This one hour, what can you do to stay steady? And so, that’s great, thank you. Going for the long haul. And what does the long haul look like?
And another way to look at that too is if you’re looking at a highway, and you see the stripe that goes out on a long highway, and you go way out there where you can’t see the stripes anymore because they’ve merged with the horizon. Just, you know, put it way out there 100 miles is another way. So, all these different ways to reframe and stay steady and go for the long haul.
Nicole Vienneau 45:12
I love it. So, I have to ask a question for all our listeners, for all of us thinking, what would Barbie do? And I’m thinking about what a next step for personal growth could be, and a day in the life of Barbara Dossey, and how that might look for you.
Barbara Dossey 45:35
Oh, it’s a very good one. It’s a very good one. So, I just had my annual physical. All my blood work is normal. And they suggested that I could do a little bit more with strength training and with exercise. And I went, well, here we go. So, I took it to heart, and I have got a new game plan going with my sister. And we have both designed our strength training. And here I am talking to you who is Miss Exercise excellence. And so, I’m stepping up my cardiovascular and you will love this; I keep it in view right here. My weights.
Nicole Vienneau 46:33
Oh, yes! So, for our listeners, Barbie just pulled out real hand weights. Five pounds.
Barbara Dossey 46:41
I’ve got them on a box, so they are in my view. I can’t get away from them. So, I do this once an hour.
Nicole Vienneau 46:50
And they’re red handled, just so you know. So, she cannot miss them.
Barbara Dossey 46:55
That’s correct. And, actually, when I got them out two days ago, they had dust all over them because they were on the floor.
Nicole Vienneau 47:05
Your personal action, right? That’s what we’re talking about.
Barbara Dossey 47:09
Right. And so, you know, one of the things that I love about Nurse Coaching, I’ll never forget sitting next to — one of our Nurse Coaching we were up at, we were in New York, and Susan and Monique were teaching and they were talking about a 14 hour fast — and I was sitting next to Jan, I weighed 144 pounds, I’m 5’1″, and I mean, I’ve got a body that… I don’t gain it in one place.
But anyway, I was uncomfortable with the weight I was carrying. This is probably about eight years ago. So, Monique and Jan, this is the beauty, here we go into coaching, I know all this stuff. It’s called do it. And I eat well, but sometimes when I do a plate which is kind of stepped up again, and I serve the plate, you know, if I’m serving, Larry will say, “Uh, wifey, which one’s mine?” Because they look the same, the serving plates.
So, I’m sitting next to Jan, and so I’m not happy with, you know, weighing 144. 145 is max, let’s get it back down to 125 to 130. You can do it. It’s harder when you’re my age. So, anyway, I went 14 hour fast, oh my gosh, it was just like a wakeup call. Oh my gosh, rather than eating at 10 o’clock at night, why not eat at 6 or 6:30?
And then 6:30pm to 6:30am, oh my gosh, that’s 12 hours right there. And then eight, oh my gosh. And I prefer a cup of coffee and then to eat something later. Oh my gosh, I can step that up to 15. Oh my gosh, I can even go to 16 hours before I eat, you know, and eat correctly.
To this day, it’s like right now, you know, I woke up this morning, weighed 129. I’m just pleased as punch because my portions are smaller, I’m eating healthy. And one of the things that’s very interesting that’s happened to Larry and me, is we have gotten to eating fish and chicken and frequently. And here we are in summertime, I mean this week we’ve had fish, we haven’t had chicken, but we have done chopped salads and putting different combinations on it, it’s just extraordinary. It’s fabulous.
But anyway, when they did my strength training, when I went to get my physical, I just went, well, I know how to do this because I’m going to join my sister and we’re going to coach each other and we’re going to check in every day. And this is what I figured out for me, is keep those five pounds on this. I even went and got a file box. So, it is literally, it is right here. I can’t ignore it.
Nicole Vienneau 50:11
I just love this because it really does tap into the coaching aspect. So, each of us is so unique. And you have found what works for you in your life, your details, the things that will motivate you. And, you know, having those conversations and also diving deep and looking inward to see what is going to be of use to you, what is important to you. And that’s what I love about coaching.
Barbara Dossey 50:41
Okay, we have a lot of fancy printouts and handouts of you know, where you can log stuff. For me, you’re talking individual, I have to handwrite it.
Nicole Vienneau 50:52
Oh, so for our listeners, Barbie has pulled out a small legal pad, yellow in color, and she has the date, and she has what she’s eaten, what her calories, proteins, carbohydrates…
Barbara Dossey 51:08
Nuts, fruit, vegetables, and exercise and water. And I have a column of nuts and grains.
Nicole Vienneau 51:20
And then little checkmarks.
Barbara Dossey 51:21
And little checkmarks. And then I have… I’m trying to get to five fruits and five vegetables.
Nicole Vienneau 51:29
Ah, wonderful. It’s wonderful. One other thing you touched on, which I thought was really important, too, when you were speaking of, you know, listening about the 14-hour fast and then looking at yourself, saying you weren’t satisfied with yourself at that time, the physical self, you know, and that was something for you.
That was your internal knowledge of yourself. And then you said you could just do it. Well, easier said than done sometimes, right? But then you went a step further and of course went inside to see, well, how am I going to really do this?
Barbara Dossey 52:11
This is a conversation, you know, with the people you live with. And so, here is Larry and we both kind of, you know, because we’ve been busy writing and doing projects, fallen off on our exercise and our strength training. And we’re both doing it together. And he’s seen what I’ve done here, and we’re getting ready to go get his weights and put them on his desk.
Nicole Vienneau 52:34
Is that his goal or your goal?
Barbara Dossey 52:37
You’re absolutely right. It’s mine. And so, I will get him to come in here and see what I’ve done.
Nicole Vienneau 52:46
I love it. So wonderful. So, Barbie, we’ve been at this chat for almost an hour here, and I’ve just so enjoyed spending this time with you. And I know our listeners are just going to soak up all your nuggets of joy, of knowledge, of passion for your life. And so, is there anything else that you’d like to say before we tie things up here?
Barbara Dossey 53:14
I think, maybe, where we even probably started, is one of the great joys in this profession of Nursing is having found like-minded soulmates. As I continue, one of the joys is tapping in with like-minded brothers and sisters, finding those special few that, even though I have lots of friends, who are those few that, you know, I can put an idea out there and they won’t think I’m crazy.
I would say find your practices that you can do. Find some kind of a hobby, too. One of the things that I… and I’m a needle pointer, and I don’t know if you can see, there’s a tapestry here, it’s four by four feet in the corner here. That is one of the things that helps me with my own interiority, is if I can find just a few… every day to do just a little stitching.
And what that is about, it’s all those threads of ideas, you put them together and find a way where you can have a conversation with yourself, where you go really deep, you don’t criticize, but you listen to your own voice. And you recognize your fears and your doubts, and you work them through in a different way. Does that make sense?
And there’s something about, you know, even if you just find, you know, a pencil and like insular that we’ve got with our International Nurse Coach Association, we’ve got on the cover of the book, the circle. It’s just drawing a circle, of one stroke brush, of trying to keep it simple and quiet and calm. And this is how serious I am about it. Yes, I’m mad.
Nicole Vienneau 55:04
She’s pulling out a tapestry. Ooooh. Oh, wow.
Barbara Dossey 55:09
But just when I find that I’m losing it, for me, it’s just… you can see, I’ve got, you know, my needle and thread. Just to be able to stitch for 10 or 15 minutes, when I lose my concentration, that’s what works for me. So, finding those places that will let you downregulate, that’s what resilience is about, emotional resilience is where you down regulate, get calm and quiet and find your like-minded people, share ideas.
Recognize that when we share with friends, that we can be the container to help people tell their story to work through their suffering.
And one of the great gifts in Nurse Coaching that we know is we help people find safe, good care and things for their life, but to recognize that we do not have to fix anything. That’s the power of this work. And that it comes from us finding our own inner peace. And as Florence Nightingale would say, “Heaven is neither a place nor time, it is here in me.”
And for the listeners, Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern secular Nursing, born in 1820, died in 1910. If you want to go listen to her voice on the internet, just do Florence Nightingale’s voice. Thomas Alva Edison’s assistant in London recorded it in July 1890 in her home. 42 seconds. She says, “When I’m no longer even in memory, just a name, I hope my voice perpetuates the great work of my life. God bless my dear old comrades of Balaclava and bring them safe to shore.” –Florence Nightingale.
Thank you for letting me do that. And if listeners want to get more on my joyful ride right now with Nurse colleagues, well first of all, with my hubby, go to dosseydossey.com. And then the inursecoach.com. And then the Nightingale Initiative is NIGH, standing for Nightingale Initiative for Global Health: nighvision.net. Thank you, Nicole. Bless you.
Nicole Vienneau 57:52
Thank you, Barbie. And we will have all of these links and all of the ways people can access more information about your incredible work through your lifetime. We look forward to more of it because there’s definitely more energy and life left in you.
Barbara Dossey 58:10
There is. Thank you so much and I’ve loved being here with you.
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