I have been inspired by my dear friend Donna Pinto from the moment I met her, so inspired in fact that I shared her story in my first book “Finding Your Passion: The Easy Guide to Your Dream Career.” As with all of us, life throws us curve balls and sometimes heart breaking challenges and we all have a choice about what we do in those moments and what I love about Donna is she chooses to use her challenges as an opportunity to learn from them to create a better life for herself and then share her lessons/wisdom with others so they can also learn to rise above their own challenges and create a better life for themselves. Thank you Donna for living your Passion + Purpose = World Change formula and helping to make this world a better place. Below is Donna’s story that has continued since her story in my book.
1) What is your Passion + Purpose = World Change formula
Life Lessons + Gratitude + Wellness + Pay it Forward = World Change
2) How did you uncover your passion and purpose?
I went through some extremely challenging times during my teen years. I learned how life can change in an instant. I was in a horrific car accident where 3 girlfriends and I were thrown from the back of a pick-up truck that flipped while traveling 40 miles an hour. When I hit the pavement I could not breathe or move my body which felt broken with raw skin everywhere. I learned the value of something we often take for granted — being able to have air to fill our lungs and a normal functioning body. My friend Lynette and I were transported by helicopter to a hospital, but she was not so lucky. She died in the ER – right next to me with only a curtain between us. We were 15.
A year earlier my dad declared he wanted a divorce and my mom became severely depressed and went into a mental health hospital. Then when I was a senior in high school, my younger brother was abducted at gunpoint and molested when he was 11.
I felt overwhelmed by sadness, anger, grief and confusion about life and the religion/God I grew up with. I wanted to know why such horrible things happen to good people.
The meaning or purpose of life – and death — became a burning question inside of me. I was hungry for answers and I found solace in books and music: “Illusions” by Richard Bach, “Many Lives, Many Masters” by Dr. Brian Weiss, “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl, The Awakening of Intelligence” by Krishnamurti, “Love” by Leo Buscaglia, “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse, “Seat of the Soul” by Gary Zukav and so many more.
I started to keep a journal of inspirational quotes that really stood out to me from these books as well as from poems, songs, biographies, and ancient wisdom. “Success” by Ralph Waldo Emmerson was one of my favorites… “To laugh often and love much…”
One of the other things that got me through those rough high school years was Oprah. I had tears of joy watching her “Angel Network” and hearing stories of people overcoming horrendous adversity and transforming their lives and giving back.
I knew I wanted to help people but I also felt being a one-on-one therapist was not for me. I wanted to make a big difference in people’s lives — like Oprah. I wanted to help people overcome and transform adversity and heal through kindness, giving, loving, and compassionate actions. Writing was a skill, a gift and a passion for me. I knew this was the way for me to have the most impact on the most lives.
3) What steps did you take to live your passion and purpose?
I studied Journalism and Psychology in college and this was a good mix to help turn my interest in helping people and my love of inspirational writing into a practical skill.
After college graduation, I traveled to Europe with my best friend for 6 weeks. This opened my eyes to more of the wonders and joys of life, cultures, amazing food, etc. – I felt alive and inspired and I wanted more of this global connection to humanity!
Although my first job in the “real world” had a lot of promise and prestige – working as a magazine advertising sales rep for Ms. Magazine — all I could think about was joining the “Peace Corps” or something similar. Club Med, the international resort company, was holding interviews at a hotel in LA and I decided to go for it. I was hired on the spot for a “Guest Relations” position and the next week I was on a plane to Ixtapa, Mexico.
This experience took me out of the traditional career/life path and opened a whole new world and mindset of “anything is possible.”
I met my husband Glenn at Club Med who also left a “real world” job at a bank in NY for similar reasons. We took a two year honeymoon around the world while researching a book we worked on together titled “When the Travel Bug Bites: Creative Ways to earn, Save & Stay Abroad.”
A twist of fate happened while seeking publishers. My “side idea” for an inspirational quote book for new graduates called “Cheatnotes on Life: Lessons from the Classroom of Life” got published effortlessly! It sold over 60,000 copies – and I was only 29. This was a dream come true!
Next came two kids and it was a big decision and an incredible blessing to be able to stay home with them for their first few years. Once our kids went to school, I was inspired again by books and inspirational speakers who were talking about “spiritual activism.”
I was able to work from home combining my writing skills and passion to help make the world a better place by writing grants for a nonprofit focused on youth empowerment and peace-making. I had no prior knowledge or training in grant-writing, but I was able to teach myself by reading through past grant proposals. I also took some basic grant-writing workshops.
After several years of successful grant-writing for many wonderful nonprofit organizations in San Diego, in 2010, destiny surprised me again and introduced me to the world of cancer in a unique way. At age 44, I was given a diagnosis of DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ), also known as “stage ZERO” breast cancer.
I was inspired to investigate and what I discovered was shocking. Tens of thousands of women were being “over-diagnosed” and “over-treated.” I had no knowledge whatsoever of how to make a website, but I had passion and determination to learn. I watched YouTube videos and created a website (www.DCIS411.com) because I felt compelled to share information I knew was critical for women to have so that they would not be rushed into aggressive, damaging, and often unnecessary cancer treatments. Since 2011, this simple amateur website has positively impacted thousands of women around the world. In 2016, I was hired as patient advocate consultant on two major studies with some of the top cancer doctors and researchers around the world with the goal of reducing over-treatment of DCIS.
The lessons learned and gratitude I felt following my “cancer-scare” experience led me to my greatest passion of all – mind-body-spirit well-being. I became a Certified Nutritionist and decided I wanted to start my own nonprofit to help bring wellness programs to people in need. Again I did a ton of research online and I found the perfect “fiscal sponsor” called Social Good Fund to help me bring my vision of a nonprofit organization to fruition. “Give Wellness” was birthed in 2016 with the mission to bring wellness workshops to under-served community groups and people going through a serious life or health challenge. Paying wellness forward is my passion + purpose = world change formula! www.givewellness.life
4) I talk a lot about putting together the pieces of your passion puzzle to create the life of your dreams? How do you feel that you have done this?
Serendipity happened over and over to me because I have always been true to my heart and soul. The puzzle pieces (lessons, relationships, teachers, wisdom, experience, skills, money, etc.) appeared as needed – when I was truly ready for each one. Effort, productivity, results and goals came easily as I was very driven and loved what I was doing. But in reality it all felt more like a natural organic process of allowing things to unfold as they were meant to and having patience, trust and confidence — and not forcing things too quickly. This all comes back to investing in myself – and I continue to do so every day by enjoying high quality food, exercise, yoga, nature, time in solitude, time with family and friends, books and music that fill my spirit, and keeping life simple.
5) What advice do you have for others who are looking to uncover and live their passion and purpose?
Be curious, ask questions, stay focused, listen to your intuition and always stay true to your inner-most passion and purpose – which may shift over the years. Let the naysayers and negativity fall away.
Invest in and stay true to your mind-body-spirit well-being. Be open, eager and earnest for on-going learning (read, travel, meet new people, explore, make mistakes and learn your way to your unique authentic sweet spot of joy, love peace, health, happiness, gratitude and abundance. Keep life simple. Trust the right people and all the money you need to live your passion + purpose will show up. Perseverance and resilience to weather the inevitable storms and being able to readjust sails and adapt is really critical for a happy and meaningful life. Know that each one of us has the power within us to create peace, love, health, happiness, joy and abundance which in turn ripples and overflows into global goodness /world change.
People will be attracted to you if you exude confidence and joy. Find that place inside yourself and let it shine!
More info and Donna’s Websites:
- Inspirational video I made to share my story: Donna’s Journey
- Give Wellness, nonprofit organization: www.givewellness.life
- DCIS 411: www.DCIS411.com
- DCIS Redefined: Dilemmas, Choices & integrative Solutions: www.DCISredefined.org
Thanks again to Donna for sharing her inspiring story. If you have a great Passion + Purpose = World Change Story to share – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and for more inspiration- feel free to visit my website at www.careerswithwings.com there you can sign up to join our Passion + Purpose = World Change community and you will also receive complimentary Soul Searching questions to help you uncover your own Passion + Purpose = World Change formula.