Dec. 9, 2010, Vol. 8 Issue 9
I always have my eyes and ears open for hot new women’s health topics, books and speakers. When the book title, What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, kept showing up on my radar screen, I looked it up and found Lissa Rankin, MD, and wondered if she would be as great a speaker as she is a writer. I mean, really, with a title like that, who (as a woman) wouldn’t be curious? A couple of days later, out of the blue, I received an email from my Nia dance studio, announcing that Nia co-creator, Debbie Rosas, would be hosting Lissa for an event at the studio here in Portland. Now, there was an invitation made in heaven. I signed up on the spot.
It was a fascinating, informative and fun evening. After dancing a very feminine and sexy Nia class, led by Debbie, we all gathered to hear what Lissa had to say about coochies and boobs — a few of her loving terms for women’s body parts. She told us she wanted to title the book, Coochie Confidential, but the publisher said no. Let me just say they didn’t hold anything else back. This book is bold and brave, and reaches into territory where no man (definitely) and very few women have gone before.
If this sounds a little scary, let me assure you it is not. Lissa is absolutely safe, and makes it safe for any woman to ask any question. In fact, the structure of the program that evening at Nia is a great way to present a women’s program: Lissa began with some introductory comments and then answered questions submitted on cards by audience members. Her answers were sincere, sprinkled with appropriate humor, and honoring of any question asked. In the end, as in the last chapter of her book, “Giving Birth to You,” she’s most interested in helping women realize how normal they are, how beautiful, and how much they have in common with millions of women around the world. I’m pleased to share with you more of her story in this issue. And if you really want to get the goods, get the book. It would make a great holiday gift for your girlfriends, sisters, mothers, and let’s go for it, grandmothers!
OB/GYN • Artist • Author • Mom • Woman
Lissa Rankin calls herself the Mojo Mentor. Mojo stems from MOre JOy. “To me, mojo is like joie de vivre – a sense of being fully present and radically alive,” she says. She knows it well because her joy in rediscovering it comes from knowing what it’s like living without it.
Lissa had been stumbling along in her life, working as a full time OB/GYN physician in a busy managed care practice, ordering her husband around like he was a scrub tech in the operating room, cussing at grocery store clerks, but also feeling lonely, and wearing masks, pretending to be someone she wasn’t in an effort to be loved. Then her Perfect Storm hit in January 2006. Within two weeks, she gave birth to her daughter, her dog died, her healthy young brother suffered liver failure from an antibiotic, and her beloved father passed away from a brain tumor. Talk about losing your mojo overnight!
As her Perfect Storm knocked her out of her comfort zone, Lissa came face to face with her own mortality. She asked herself, “If I knew I was going to die in a year, would I still be living the life I’m living?” The answer from deep within screamed an angry, “Hell no!” So Lissa decided to make some drastic changes. She took what she calls a “Pleap” (a Pink leap of faith): quit her job, moved her family to the country, and set out to live a more balanced, creative, authentic life. In addition to being a doctor, she was also a professional artist and had written a book, Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide to Creating Fine Art With Wax (August 2010, Random House). So, leaving medicine altogether, she planned to focus on painting and writing. That first year she wrote a memoir about her decision to leave medicine, while she spent a lot of time hiking, playing with her daughter, painting, and healing her broken heart. But there was no storybook ending. Although Lissa’s literary agent spent the next year shopping her book to publishers, the book never sold. In retrospect, Lissa realizes that she needed to write the book, but the book wasn’t meant to be published. The Universe had other plans for her first. She was supposed to start Owning Pink. She just didn’t know it yet.
Although she was reluctant to return to a career that had sucked the life out of her, she felt deep stirrings within – a sense of mission, of the gift she had for women — and that grew on her over that time. Lissa discovered that you can quit your job but you can’t quit your calling. While she enjoyed being a full time artist/writer for two years, she also felt a longing to be of service. She realized that her life had become very fragmented, and she wished to integrate all of the various facets of what makes her whole – her creativity, her spirituality, her health, her relationships, her careers, her sexuality, and her interaction with the planet. She decided to quit caring what others think and to be ALL LISSA, ALL THE TIME and let the chips fall where they may. Owning Pink was born in April 2009 as a blog chronicling Lissa’s journey back to herself.
Lissa’s blog quickly attracted hundreds of thousands of readers, and within three months, Owning Pink had become a whole community of people who longed to get their mojo back, to be authentic, to love and be loved, and to serve others. By this point, Lissa had joined an integrative medicine practice in Marin County, where she discovered a way to redefine health – not just as wellness of the physical body, but as vitality for the mind, body, and spirit.
An editor who had read Lissa’s memoir contacted her three months after she launched Owning Pink to pitch a book idea to her, and What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, published September 2010, by St. Martin’s Press, was born.
That subtitle is exactly how the book evolved. What if your best friend was a gynecologist and you could talk candidly about every question you’ve ever had about gynecology, sex, and women’s health, all while drinking a glass of wine and sharing a good laugh? That’s exactly how she wrote it; Lissa’s girlfriends actually got to indulge in that kind of intimacy, asking her all the things they would never ask their doctors.
Carrie + Eve = Dr. Lissa!
Lissa says that if Carrie Bradshaw, the columnist from Sex and the City, and Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues, went to medical school so they could become gynecologists and write a book together, you might wind up with a book like this. Lissa, as an OB/GYN, answers the secret vagina questions women are too embarrassed to ask their gynecologist but are dying to know.
The very real problem is that in this age of managed care, most women get no more than ten minutes with their physicians, not all of whom are women, and a rushed doctor’s visit leaves them feeling uncomfortable bringing up sensitive topics. Consequently, too few women truly understand the inner-workings of their own bodies, which leads to anxiety, shame, fear, guilt, and the perpetuation of misinformation. Lissa’s goal is to get people talking about vaginas, openly, honestly, and with love and acceptance for our beautiful girly parts.
In the last chapter of the book, “Giving Birth to You,” she says, “I may be an OB/GYN, and I’ve delivered tens of thousands of babies, but nothing is more rewarding to me than helping midwife women through the process of giving birth to the most rich, juicy, blissful, joyful parts of themselves. My aim with this book was to use the vagina as a portal to encourage women to truly understand and love their girly parts as a vehicle for truly loving themselves and really ROCKING this one wild and precious life with all their female power.”
She opened the Owning Pink Center in April 2010 as a way to ground what she had created in cyberspace, so she could practice the kind of medicine she dreamed of providing. Referred to lovingly as “The Vagina Whisperer,” or the “Gyne-chiatrist,” by both patients and doctors, she’s opening doors for others to walk through.
Fellow doctors are calling, wanting to learn from her, so she’s developed presentations for professionals who want to offer their patients that kind of conversation. And that expands her usefulness as a speaker bringing her kind of life and joy as a lasting gift to a community –to both professionals and patients. In fact, if you have her come for a women’s event, it’s a great idea to host a program for health professionals, as well.
In her public speaking events, Lissa integrates her signature message and voice of authenticity, love, and empowerment with her wide-ranging experience as a physician, artist, author, entrepreneur, social media success, and Mommy with mojo. Her areas of expertise run the gamut of motivational speaking — empowering women, redefining health, unlocking creativity in art and writing, mastering social media, bringing heart to business, and keeping your mojo while parenting.
“Mojo is whatever you need to stop feeling stuck and start living your bliss, right this very minute,” she says. “When you have it, you know it instantly, and when you lose it, you want it back. Mojo is fluid – it’s unique to each individual, and what mojo means to you may change throughout your life. Mojo is owning all the facets of what makes you whole – your creativity, your spirituality, your sexuality, your relationships, your career, your physical health – and rocking this life.”
Owning Pink helped Lissa get her mojo back, and she now dedicates her life to helping others do the same by owning all of the facets of what makes them whole.
Bringing Lissa to your city for your special women’s health event or retreat will enrich your whole community, and she will draw women from all of the segments you seek to serve. Learn more here or call 503-699-5031.
I’m liking this mojo idea. This last week I found that some scrapbooking, of all things, got my mojo on. After 5 years of procrastinating, I finally finished our wedding scrapbook. I’d had parts of it done, but just hadn’t taken the concentrated time to put it altogether. At the wedding, we had had a friend take a photo of each one or couple of our guests and then each had written a message to us on the pages provided. I wanted to complete the collection with candid wedding photos, cards and memorabilia. An Open House party for my husband’s birthday this week provided the impetus, and as I spread it out and worked on it for a weekend and just about every weeknight for a week, I began to feel the mojo. Selecting the photos, papers and colors, etc., fed my creative juices, and better yet, it brought back all the warm feelings of friends and family and the joy of that day. Now, my small problem is that the book is so fat I need bigger rings to hold all the love . . . and that’s a very nice problem.
I’d love to hear from you. What does mojo mean to you? What do you do to get your mojo juiced? Until next time, get your mojo going, and take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.
PLEASE NOTE: The information shared in this e-news is designed to help you make informed decisions about speakers and the programs they offer. It is not intended as a substitute for any treatment prescribed by a doctor. If you suspect you have a medical problem, seek competent medical help.