Jill is the youngest of eleven children and a native Oregonian. She and her husband, Ken, (a native Idahoan) have two children - Cherie, the office manager at Ashland's Optical Expressions in Ashland, OR; Nick a charter school biology teacher living in San Diego, CA; and a sweet dog "Bud". Jill and Ken have been married for 33 years.
In her early employment years Jill worked at Intel and other electronics manufacturers in the greater Portland area. In 1982 she obtained her reals estate license and sold real estate until 1989.
In 1989 Jill and Ken moved to Ashland, OR to open a practice of optometry. She became the optician for the practice and was responsible for the management of the dispensary. She maintained that position until 2003 when the practice was merged with another in Medford, OR at which time she "retired". At 46 years young Jill had not yet found her "passion" in life (besides Ken) and she was searching.
In 2006, Ken was diagnosed with prostate cancer. While devastating at first, the diagnosis has led Jill and Ken down the road of self discovery. Jill became a healing touch for animals practitioner (her passion), wrote a children's book "A Fairy's Tale" and invented patented and launched Nodstop an travel comfort headband that allows for comfortable sleeping on airplanes.
THERE'S NOTHING A LITTLE
CANCER WON'T CURE
Learning To Listen To Life's Whispers
I didn’t expect to spend my 46th birthday sitting in the hospital waiting room – but sometimes life throws you a curve ball. My 26 year old daughter, Cherie, and I were waiting for my husband, Ken, to come out from a bone scan to see if his previously diagnosed prostate cancer had spread to his bones. Many may think of this as a scary ending but what we found was a new beginning – well, several new beginnings.
And so the journey begins:
In June 2006 my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Often slow in attack, his was a fast onset, very aggressive and, according to the urologist, most likely metastasized type of prostate cancer coming on in a little more than a year. Luckily, the initial tests showed it had not spread to his bones or lymph nodes. While not entirely conclusive, these results were at least encouraging. Our kids, Cherie and Nick and I rallied around this man we love dearly and we all quickly decided to focus on the positive and getting him well.
Ken, being a left brained person and scientifically educated, did his research as to what to expect. For his mental health his reading included "Full Catastrophe Living" by John Kabat-Zinn; "Who Dies" by Stephen Levine and "Love Without Conditions" by Paul Ferrini and the Energy Anatomy CD’s by Caroline Myss. Now, in retrospect, this experience has convinced him we are constantly surrounded by life’s whispers telling us what course of action is best for us but we are most often too wrapped up in our own history, plans, expectations, judgments and attachments to listen. Sometimes life (or God, or the Divine, or our greater self, or whatever you are comfortable calling it) gets tired of waiting for us and decides to YELL!! That’s what the prostate cancer was – a major league whack on the side of the head. "Catch a clue!" it said. And that’s when the whispers started getting heard and our life has been an endless series of gentle nudges in a variety of directions ever since.
Several Rotarian friends had received treatment at a particular medical school and so an appointment was scheduled. . Surgery was recommended but an insurance dispute made that course of action financially impossible. A second visit to the University of California at San Francisco Medical School resulted in the admonishment that surgery was not only not recommended but potentially harmful. The decided upon course of action was radiation. After much research, Ken is convinced that surgery would have been the wrong course of action in his case. The insurance problem was the very first whisper and we had no other choice but to listen. As is so often true of whispers, its’ value is only obvious in retrospect.
During his reading, Ken had become interested in labyrinths as a tool for prayer and meditation. We have six acres and he downloaded a pattern for a seven ring labyrinth. The next day he measured, marked and cut the 100 foot x 100 foot labyrinth into our field with his riding lawnmower. I couldn’t believe that he cut it perfectly the first time. Over the next week or so, we laboriously hauled load after load of crushed granite to the pathway. When the granite was all laid we adorned the center with an old milk can from Ken’s parents dairy. We topped it off by bolting an old metal tractor seat to it for the perfect meditation seat. It is a place of acceptance and healing and it became the source of the next whisper and a wonderful group of healing women.
Ken is an optometrist and a woman was in front of his office thinking about a long overdue eye exam. She popped in, there was an opening in the schedule and she was seen immediately. As she sat down in the exam chair, Ken noticed that she was wearing a labyrinth medallion. He asked her about it and so ensued the whole conversation about his labyrinth and health situation. Three days later she called and asked him if he had heard of Energy Medicine, specifically Healing Touch. She said there was a group of women practicing this art in his town and he should consider using their services. This sounded a little left field to his scientific mind but the whisper got a little louder and he read the recommended web site. He learned that healing touch is practiced by a lot of RN’s, is approved for Continuing Education for RN’s and is in active practice in more than 12 hospitals in the U.S.
But there needed to be one more whisper. While doing an exam he overheard someone in the optical talking about their recent move here and what they did. She was an RN recently arrived from Hawaii and was from a hospital that actively encouraged the nurses to use healing touch. She and her partner were practitioners of energy medicine and a great friendship was established. His left brain said "what if" and his right brain said "what have you got to lose?". It was becoming very clear there are no co-incidences in life if you listen close enough. And so he became a patient of all of them and would have regular sessions from all of them during his 44 radiation treatments. Another gentle whisper said: "Jill, you should go along and watch".
Watching these serene, wonderful women (and one man) doing energy work on my sweet man filled my heart with love. A tiny spark of interest lit in me (whisper, whisper). As the treatments progressed, they taught me some basic techniques to use on Ken after each radiation treatment. We are convinced that it is because of this energy work that Ken suffered very few of the normal side effects from the radiation treatment. I wanted to learn more so I signed up for Level I training in healing touch at Children’s Hospital in Seattle. After the week-end class I was on cloud nine and very excited about finding this new career opportunity. When I got home Ken had found an ad in Energy Magazine for Healing Touch for Animals (HTA). That was all it took, I was hooked! I have always had a deep love of all animals so this was a no-brainer. A At 47 years of age I had finally found my passion!
The training for HTA includes four levels of instruction given over three day week-ends. Unfortunately, none of the HTA classes were offered close to home so over the next six months I traveled to Salt Lake City, Baltimore, Denver and Cincinnati. That was a lot of flying for someone who can’t sleep on airplanes. You know how they say "necessity is the mother of invention"; well on the very last trip home I came up with the idea (whisper) for a way to sleep comfortably while traveling. I thought about it the whole way home and the next day I was compelled (well, more like obsessed) with making a prototype. Now, I have to say, I don’t sew at all. As a matter of fact anything that I have ever sewn on a machine ended up scrunched in a ball and thrown into a closet never to be seen again. Nevertheless I hand sewed my first prototype and it worked! Nodstop ™ was born. Nodstop ™ is a soft, stretchy headband that is designed to go around the back of vehicle headrest (airplane, RV, car, etc). Nodstop ™ allows the user to sleep comfortably in an upright position or semi-reclined position without the usual floppy head syndrome and the neck pain and strain that comes along with it. As part of my training for HTA I work with essential oils and hydrosols on the various animals I treat. Knowing that Lavender helps to promote relaxation and good sleep I decided that I would add a small sample of it as a part of the Nodstop ™ package deal. I also know that "tummy troubles" can be a part of traveling so I decided to add a sample of Di-Gize ®, a Young Living essential oil blend for digestive problems. Also included will be extra padding and 2 instant heat packs that fit in the forehead pocket area of Nodstop ™ and a clip-on sign that says "Please Do Not Disturb" on one side and "Wake Me When The Drink Cart Comes" on the other. Other styles will include one that attaches to a baseball style cap and one for children’s car seats and stroller.
As we went through the patent process we started to think about who we might have manufacture Nodstop ™. We felt very strongly that this product was a blessing that was "given" to me. We felt it was very important to keep the manufacture in the U.S. and as locally as possible. Ken, my CFO (as I began referring to him) started searching the internet. We called several manufacturers but found out we were "too small" for most. Then, up came a whisper, and Ken found Rockwest Training in Salem, OR. Rockwest is a private non-profit organization providing training and employment to adult physically and/or mentally disabled individuals. We feel they are a perfect fit for this young company and look forward to having them make our product.
Through this whole process, I have been finishing up my HTA certification and have had some amazing experiences with many different animal species. Along with my regular clientele I do volunteer work with the local Humane Society; Chimps, Inc in Bend, OR; Wildlife Images Education and Rehabilitation Center in Merlin, OR; Double Oak Farms, a rescue, rehabilitation and adoption facility in the Applegate Valley of Oregon.
I have definitely found my passion in working with the animals. As a matter of fact, since I came up with Nodstop while traveling for HTA training I have also committed a portion of my net proceeds towards the HTA programs. I feel that it is so important to "give back" with this product and my goal is to employ single moms in a job share program providing on site daycare.
Ken’s cancer is currently well controlled. What started out as some of the worst news a family can hear has turned into one of our life’s great lessons – learning to listen to the whispers. We no longer try to make life fit our plans but rather live in this moment and trust that the whispers will take us where we need to go. My life has been blessed with this wonderful man, our children, my new passion in HTA and Nodstop for a special reason. I plan on enjoying each and every moment for as long as I can.