Hiya Pinkies! I was just chatting with Pink Goddess Michele Campbell on the Pink Posse Forum this morning, when she mentioned that maybe Siena’s Pink Mommy comment was a sign from the Universe. It got me thinking…
Have you had those times in your life where the path is uncertain and then WHAM- the Universe throws a big red directional sign onto your path? I always call it “getting bricked,” as in “JABA (Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, Athena, etc) just threw a brick at me to get my attention.” The past few years have been so full of bricks I don’t even know where to start, but I wanted to share with you a few signs the Universe has thrown my way.
On April 2, 2005, on the day I married Matt at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, I did a shamanic journey with Jon Rasmussen (who we’ll call Kiefer because he looks way more like Kiefer Sutherland than any long-bearded Incan healer). Someday I’ll post the whole experience of my shamanic journey, but for now, suffice it to say it was PROFOUND. This was long ago, before I even dabbled in that kind of “woo-woo” thing regularly. In fact, at the time, I kind of did it as a joke, so I could brag about doing something crazy on my wedding day. Boy, was I naïve! Let’s just call the shamanic journey Sign from the Universe #1.
Toward the end of my shamanic journey, I was told that a “gift” awaited me in a room in the center of the earth. The gift that appeared in my mind’s eye was a stethoscope with a paintbrush painted on the diaphragm. I had no clue what to make of this gift at the time. I was still working my ass off in a full time managed-care-based OB/GYN practice, being forced to see 40 patients/day. I also had a swinging art career, but the two were completely unrelated. I wore two completely disparate hats- the doctor hat and the artist hat- so the painted stethoscope baffled me. Was I supposed to paint my patients? Teach them how to paint? Encourage them to seek a creative side? Listen to the hearts of artists? What’s the deal, Universe?
Within a month, Sign from the Universe #2 came to me in a dream in which I envisioned a piece of sculpture. Following the dream, I did my first piece for The Woman Inside Project, for which I’ve been casting the torsos of women with breast cancer. My first model was a patient of mine. I invited her to my house, cast her figure, listened to her story and then painted her cast. It wasn’t until I had done three of these casts that I remembered the stethoscope with a paintbrush on it. I was, in fact, painting my patients.
Sign from the Universe #3 was a quadruple whammy with blaring sirens and flashing lights. You couldn’t miss this one. It wasn’t subtle. Within two weeks, I gave birth to my daughter, my 16-year-old dog died, my father died, and my healthy 33 year old brother ended up in liver failure from the antibiotic Zithromax. What did the sign mean? I wasn’t clear at the time, but it felt very obvious that something needed to change because my life as it existed had no room for something like that to happen. A giant shift began to occur, as if the tectonic plates of my entire existence were ready to change.
San Diego had been my spiritual home for my entire life. I lived there as a child, and no place on earth had made me feel so at home. But that stopped being true when the tectonic plates began shifting. Big Sur started calling- very loudly. Sign from the Universe #4 came via a gallery in Carmel that had just started representing me. The owner of the gallery saw my art and wanted to have a show for me – in two weeks. I scrambled around, trying to gather enough art to make a whole show on such short notice. Because I didn’t have time to drive the art up to Carmel, I met the dealer in the parking lot of Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, where she “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed as we moved the art from truck to truck. Two days later and three days before the actual opening, the show had sold out. In the midst of a 36-hour call shift, I scurried around gathering up more inventory and drove eight hours to Carmel by myself to bring new art in time for the opening. The next day, I found myself sitting on a rock in Big Sur in the rain, exhausted, scared, and sobbing. It was here that I received Sign from the Universe #5. A voice that sounded as real as any human conversation said, “You need to come to Big Sur.”
As I said, this was a time in my life when I didn’t believe in anything “woo-woo,” least of all signs. On one level I felt like I was going crazy and, frankly, was scared shitless. But some deeper faith continued to drive me forward. It took me eight more months, but by the following year, I had taken my pleap (Pink leap of faith). I quit my job with no safety net in place and moved my family 30 minutes from Big Sur, where I spent the next nine months writing, hiking, crying, sleeping, and recovering. Big Sur became my healer and my guide. Whenever I needed to better hear the voice of the Universe, I sat among the redwoods on the Big Sur cliffs, and listened.
There, on my favorite rock on my special Big Sur cliff, I heard Sign from the Universe #6. Another voice in my head said, “You’re supposed to go to Esalen. You’re supposed to meet someone there.” I had heard of the Esalen Institute, the home of hippies and woo-woo healers and artsy-fartsy types, but why would I want to go there? At the time, I was still more the type to patronize Post Ranch Inn or Ventana (two fancy schmancy hotels right down the road from very crunchy, Bohemian Esalen). But once again, I listened through the fear and doubt.
I cracked open the Esalen catalogue and eeny-meenied my way through the workshop schedule. Should I take “Step Fully into Your Natural Gifts,” “The Ecstatic Edge Yoga Retreat,” Meditation: The Embodied Life,” or “Tantric Sexuality?” Because I was in the midst of writing my memoir, I finally settled on a workshop called “Writing From the Heart,” with Nancy Aronie. Though I didn’t think it would matter which workshop I chose, since the directive from the Universe was just to go to Esalen, apparently, it did matter.
Within 10 minutes of arriving at Esalen for my workshop, I was soaking in the natural hot springs, when a woman asked me why I had come. I said, “I think I’m supposed to meet someone.” After chatting for five minutes, she said, “Oh, I think you’re supposed to meet Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams (who is now one of my dearest friends and a Mojo Mentor- Sign from the Universe #7). In my writing workshop, I finally found my writing voice (Sign from the Universe #8), while admiring a woman who sat across from me in our circle. She was dark-haired and quieter than the rest, but when she read her writing, she lit up like a flame. The more time I spent with her, the more I felt drawn to her. The Universe told me I was supposed to meet her too. Her name is Joy Mazzola, and she is Owning Pink’s Editor-in-Chief, a Mojo Mentor, my right hand, and one of my dearest friends (Sign from the Universe #9).
Another woman I met in my writing workshop was Dawn Starr, an acupuncturist. We chatted for hours about alternative medicine, and I found my mind opening to woo-woo stuff I would have laughed at a year earlier. I’d left medicine without ever looking back, but I started hearing another voice. This one said, “You can leave your job, but you don’t leave your calling” (Sign from the Universe #10). I met dozens of other healers at Esalen, most of who were working in fields of alternative medicine- Reiki, massage, acupuncture, shamanic work, intuitive healing, and such. I approached them with curious unknowing, asking questions and opening my mind, and they became willing teachers. They seemed excited to meet an MD who would listen to and validate them – they were likely used to being diminished by those in the Western medical world, and welcomed the opportunity to consider healing as something collaborative. The way I see it, we all have tools in our respective toolboxes – if we all combine the tools we have, can’t we be better healers?
After my first experience, I found myself going back to Esalen to visit my new friends several times each month for a lovely period of time. They began to encourage me to open an integrative medicine center in Monterey (Sign from the Universe #11). If I became their medical director, I could give all these healers a home, and the MD behind my name would bring credibility to their healing work. I started to investigate.
I checked out spaces, looked into leases, and looked for a partner. All roads kept leading to a woman I didn’t know who had just completed Dr. Andrew Weil’s Integrative Medicine program at University of Arizona. This woman, Dr. Jo Perron (who is now a Mojo Mentor- Sign from the Universe #12), seemed like the perfect partner. Only she was recovering from breast cancer and didn’t feel she had the energy to partner in such an ambitious project. Others I spoke to said Monterey wasn’t the right place- doctors had tried it and failed. The open-minded doctors I spoke to discouraged me from going forward. Doors kept closing (Sign from the Universe #13).
I finally gave up and almost took a job with two other traditional OB/GYN doctors, but one clearly felt threatened by me and kept erecting loads of hurdles. With no other job offer on the horizon, I decided to back out, feeling like the other doctor’s resistance signaled something was wrong (Sign from the Universe #14). Had I allowed myself to fall into a place of fear, I would have gotten really freaked right about then. Confused about how to interpret the Universe’s signs, I got close to despair. But then another Sign appeared.
Just when I was ready to ditch listening to the Universe and fall back on my old standby, fear, Owning Pink appeared. Just like that, I knew it. I was supposed to start a website that allowed me to combine all parts of myself. This endeavor would call upon my skills as a doctor, artist, and writer. As founder of Owning Pink, I would be able to be ALL ME, ALL THE TIME. I would serve Pinkies in my own unique way, and I could call upon the amazing healers I met along the path to serve as my Mojo Mentors. If Owning Pink needed art, I could paint it. I would tell my story- the whole truth, the way I learned to write it with Nancy Aronie at Esalen. I just had to figure out how to manifest my dream.
Two friends of mine are techies from San Francisco who worked for Adobe. Right after I began to simmer on the idea of starting Owning Pink, they invited me to have lunch with them in Big Sur (of course!). I figured I’d pick their techie brains to figure out what I would need to do to start a website. As I’m telling them about my idea for Owning Pink, I’m getting more and more excited. My voice is getting louder, I’m standing up beside my seat, my arms are swinging wide. “Finally!” I’m saying. “A way to bring art and medicine and writing all together. A way to integrate it all. I’ve been training my whole life for this job. It’s just like the painted stethoscope from my shamanic journey.” I’m bubbling up inside as it’s all coming together. And then, THWACK- a gigantic honkin’ doozy of a brick.
Right beside me, eating a Caesar salad, was Kiefer (a.k.a. Jon Rasmussen, my shaman from Post Ranch Inn, whom I’d only ever seen that one fateful day three and a half years earlier). It couldn’t be, my doubting mind said. But it looked just like him. My heart was pounding out of my chest and tears welled up. Was the Universe really being this generous? Wiping my eyes, I stepped over and tapped Kiefer on the shoulder. “Do you ever lead shamanic journeys in Big Sur?” I asked tentatively. “Yes,” he replied. “On Saturdays at Post Ranch Inn.” Gulp.
A few weeks later, with only the seed of an idea for Owning Pink, no job in sight and bills piling up, I was visiting my friend Cari Hernandez in Marin County, and we were talking about my journey. How is it that the Universe was telling me to practice medicine again, when all roads were blocked? I wondered. Why would JABA confuse me like that? Was I getting the Signs wrong? Six months had passed since the Universe said, “You can quit your job but you can’t quit your calling.” By this time, my calling was screaming bloody murder.
Cari and I were walking through the square in Mill Valley, where I’d never been before, and she picked up a brochure that said, “CLEAR Center of Health.” She opened it, read it, and passed it over. Someone else had created exactly the kind of integrative medicine center I dreamed of opening in Monterey. Only it was in Mill Valley. Cari said, “I think you better call these people.” (Sign from the Universe #16).
I didn’t want to move to the Bay area. I was supposed to stay near Big Sur, my spiritual home, wasn’t I? Why would JABA call me all the way there only to push me out again? I must be hearing things wrong, right? But the CLEAR Center thing seemed like a pretty big brick, so I wrote a letter to the medical director. Weeks went by. Nothing. I felt relieved. If she had offered me a job, I would have felt obligated to listen. But I didn’t want to relocate again. My family was already starting to think I was a little crazy. What would they think if I said, “Pack up. The Universe is telling us to move. Again.”
Right when I gave up completely, a letter arrived from Beth McDougall, the medical director at CLEAR. “We weren’t really looking for a gynecologist, but I have this gut feeling that you would be a perfect fit for us.” Damn. (Sign from the Universe #17). So what did I do? I said to my family, “Pack up. The Universe is telling us to move. Again.” And we did.
I was unaware of this my whole life, but My People all live in the Bay area. Here I thought I was a SoCal girl, but no. I found my tribe in Marin County. When I was looking for a place to live, one of the doctors at CLEAR, Jacqueline Chan, said, “You have to come see where I live in West Marin. You’ll love it.” I dreaded moving back to the big city. I left SoCal to get away from traffic and into nature. So far, everything I had seen of Marin County looked like a big city. Jacqueline swore West Marin was different. So I followed windy Highway 1 to her house, and it took my breath away. If no one had told me, I would have sworn I was in Big Sur (Sign from the Universe #18).
Three months later, after a stressful month of trying to find a house in Marin, I was ready to give up. Surely the Universe didn’t mean to make it this hard. We made offers on several houses but they kept slipping through our fingers. One house was in Mill Valley, one in Tiburon, one in San Anselmo, another in Mill Valley, but we couldn’t find a house. I was starting my job a week later and we still didn’t have a place to live. Then I got the call (Sign from the Universe #19). CLEAR’s medical director Beth McDougall was visiting the house where Jacqueline Chan had brought me months earlier in West Marin. Jacqueline and her boyfriend had since broken up, but Beth was visiting him and heard a rumor that the house next door was about to be available. She went and looked at it and said, “This is your house, Lissa.” She was right. Although others called the area West Marin, I knew better. The Universe had been a bit confusing, but I was moving back to Big Sur.
Months went by as I charged full steam ahead, building my new practice and getting ready to launch Owning Pink. My poor husband was doing his darnedest to keep up with me, cleaning up the messes I inevitably left strewn in my trail. Life was getting nuttier and nuttier, until one day, we had a blowout fight. I said, “I NEED HELP!” And he said, “ME TOO!” And we sat there, eyeing each other in this cranky detente, uncharacteristically wordless. Then a little voice said, “You need Joy” (Sign from the Universe #20).
Crank back a year to when I met Joy Mazzola at Esalen. Since then, we had kept in touch via e-mail. When some crazy sign from the Universe would appear, I would write to Joy and she would write back in rapt amazement. At one point, I told her I felt like I had jumped off a cliff (my pleap). When I first stood on the ledge of that cliff, I was scared shitless. I had no idea where I would land, but I just knew I had to jump and have faith. As I began to let go of the fear and terror began to subside, I started to enjoy the free fall. Then, a few months after I first met Joy at Esalen, I told her I had finally landed in what I was calling the “lavender-scented river.” If I got fearful and started paddling upstream in the river, everything went to hell. But if I just went with the lavender-scented flow, everything miraculously fell into place. Joy asked if she could jump on my raft and float on the river with me until she was brave enough to take the leap herself. I invited her to hop onboard.
After Matt and I had our fight I realized I simply couldn’t go on with the candle lit at both ends, and I started fantasizing about hiring Joy to help me. I just knew she was the perfect person- the Universe sent Signs #21-30 confirming this). Problem was, Joy bought a big fancy house with her boyfriend based on her big fancy income from her nice stable job at UC Berkeley. I knew she hated her job, but I also knew I couldn’t possibly offer her the kind of money I knew she was making. I told myself the story that I couldn’t afford Joy. Then the Universe said, “Ask for what you need and let Joy decide” (Sign from the Universe #31). I raced home from the Farmer’s Market and wrote two detailed pages of exactly what I needed and why Joy was the perfect person to help me. When I showed it to Matt, I asked, “How much can we afford to pay her?” He pulled out the accounts book and said, “Nothing.” We were in that awkward phase of growth, where we couldn’t afford to hire someone until we grew, but we couldn’t grow until we hired someone.
I already knew Joy was unhappy at work. Inspired by my many pleaps, she had been asking me how you know when it’s time to take your pleap. I kept saying, “When it’s time, it will be entirely obvious. If it’s not obvious, it’s not time.” She tried to cut back her hours and pondered quitting altogether, but in a half-assed way that didn’t change her circumstance. She was trying to follow the bird and have it both ways.
Matt and I decided to take another pleap. We picked a number out of a hat- way less than Joy was worth- and sent her a business proposition. Attaching the two-page document I had written about exactly what I need, we proposed that Joy quit her job and come work for us as Owning Pink’s editor and my assistant. We assumed she would say no. She couldn’t afford to quit her job. She had a mortgage to pay. We had spent so much money on buying medical equipment for my new practice, moving, and creating Owning Pink, which we were about to launch, that we were flat out broke. But we took the pleap anyway. We trusted that the money would appear.
She was only two sentences into my detailed proposal, when she emailed me “I haven’t finished reading yet, but can I just say “YES!” (Sign from the Universe #32). My mother then offered to be our first angel investor, investing money in Owning Pink so we could hire Joy (Sign from the Universe #33). Joy quit her job, and we launched Owning Pink less than a month later. We wrote on the wall of our Owning Pink office, “We want Owning Pink to invite people to go to that place of pain, knowing they are loved, safe, and nurtured.” We both signed it in PINK magic marker. We set a very clear intention.
Launching Owning Pink was the next big, risky pleap. You spend all this time and money creating something, but what if nobody shows up? How would we get Pinkies to find us? Once again, we asked for what we needed, and Sarah Browne, the Guru of New, appeared (Sign from the Universe #36). With the guidance of Sarah and her partner Janet Fouts, Joy, Matt and I learned to navigate Twitter and Facebook to give Pinkies the opportunity to find us. You did (Sign from the Universe #35).
What’s happened between then and now blows my mind. Maybe I’ll write about it in some future post, but mostly, you’ve been reading about it as I go. The most awesome sign came recently. I get requests every day from new Pinkies wishing to be Mojo Mentors, and I’ve started realizing they all share many qualities. Most are healers, as well as spiritual seekers. They are Reiki Masters, massage therapists, life coaches, and guided imagery healers. They are creativity coaches, therapists, sexuality workshop leaders, and spiritual gurus. Not long ago I had an “aha” moment – what have we done here at Owning Pink? We have started a virtual integrative medicine center, just like the Universe told me to do back at Esalen (Sign from the Universe #136).
How did this happen, Pinkies? I have been crying through this post, as has Joy, who has been editing for me as I write. I’ve been aware of the numerous blessings in my life over the past few years, but not until Michele inspired me this morning have I put it all together. I sit in AWE. For so many years, I’ll bet the Universe was screaming bloody murder, but I was still sleeping. There’s no way a single word would have slipped through. Not until I began to make myself receptive, beginning with that fateful shamanic journey I took on a lark, did the Voice start to wake me up.
What about you Pinkies? I’ll bet many of you are thinking, “That could never happen to me.” But I’m not any more special than each of you. Are you listening, Pinkies? Can you hear the Universe? Can you see the truth? Can you feel in your gut what you’re meant to do? If so, do you trust enough to act on what you hear and see and feel? Are you ready to make a pleap?
Please tell us your stories. What Signs from the Universe have you been blessed with? Let us share in your magic. Let us inspire each other. Let us be courageous. Let us BELIEVE.
Universe, I am listening. What’s next?
With loads of PINK faith,
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