We had the good fortune of connecting with Jillian Imilkowski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jillian, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks is what life is all about. I feel that if I am not taking risks while I am in this body and experiencing this life, then I’m not making the most of my time here. Real change comes about when experimenting and moving outside of our comfort zones. There was a time when the idea of riding a bicycle was scary to me and now, I use one regularly without a second thought. Same thing with learning to drive, taking my first school exam and even my first kiss. Things are scary when you don’t understand them. Children don’t have the same fear or taking risks that adults do. I believe that scariness, that fear, is something we are taught to keep us safe. But it is also something that I feel needs to be unlearned to some extent if we want to fully engage in the world. By taking risks and learning about the unknown, I give myself permission to grow and change and open myself up to participating in the world in a proactive and curious way.
It was a big risk when I moved to San Diego in my 40’s to start grad school (first time in school in nearly 2 decades). Very few of my family members or friends understood or supported me leaving a comfortable job in the Midwest to go to a city I didn’t know to study something totally new. I sold everything I owned, packed my car, and started on a wildly divergent career path that, if I’m being totally transparent, I did not even remotely understand at the time. Same thing with starting up Bonita Vista Acupuncture. I absolutely had to move past the fear of the unknown, learn all the things I didn’t know about opening a medical clinic and take major risks to get here. Opening this clinic was one of the scariest things I’ve done, and I wouldn’t change a thing about any of it. Fear holds so many people back from reaching their full potential. I fully believe that if I want to level up spiritually, financially, emotionally, with my relationships, with everything, it is 100% necessary to move past the fear and take risks.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Bonita Vista Acupuncture is designed to provide convenient, high-quality accessible health care that gets results. Simple and clean.
My story begins shortly after I graduated, receiving my doctorate in acupuncture, and it occurred to me that I had spent years studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and nearly nothing studying the BUSINESS of that medicine.
After researching an array of medical business models, I realized that the Chinese model was the one that resonated the most with me: Acupuncture as primary care, not a “complimentary” or “alternative” treatment. While I am uniquely qualified to treat chronic and “unfixable” aliments, and I have extraordinary success with my patients who come to me convinced they are “unfixable”, Bonita Vista Acupuncture was designed to be the first-place people will go to for their health. I am proud to be a part of the “new generation” of this medicine in America. My goal is to help people rewire their understanding of self-care. We have been taught that self-care is a luxury. I am here to let people know that it is very much a necessity. The myriad of little stresses we deal with in our everyday lives, have MASSIVE impacts on our health. When our brains are sending out waves of stress hormones, it puts our bodies at risk. Low grade (or high grade) chronic stress has been shown to lead to weakened immune systems, increased risk for heart problems, insomnia, digestive disorders and fertility problems just to name a few. We would never make an important business call on a phone with 5% battery left. Why do we think it’s okay to try and maintain important relationships, take care of responsibilities, and manage our lives with our bodies at 5%?
By working with patients one-on-one, I can develop personalized treatment plans based on their specific conditions or desired outcomes. These plans make it easy to incorporate acupuncture into their regular routines. Patients are given a clear vision of how many treatments they need and how often they should be seen to move towards their personalized outcomes. Providing healthcare that is effective and accessible with treatment plans that are easy to understand is my number one goal.
I have had to overcome a lot to get to where I am today and am extremely proud of the fact that I own and run a successful 5-room clinic. Life has been a long string of amazing challenges for the past few years: from packing up my life in Wisconsin in my early 40’s and driving cross country to go to grad school, to figuring out how to negotiate a commercial lease and write a business plan. Starting over from scratch at this point in life has taught me so many things. I have learned the importance of asking for help when I need it, the power of not taking things personally, strength in admitting when I don’t know something and humility in making (and owning) mistakes. One of the most powerful resources I found is a nonprofit organization called SCORE. SCORE is a national network that provides free mentorship and low costs workshops to new and existing business owners. My mentors walked me through how to find commercial rental space, figuring out how to negotiate my lease writing a business plan and more. I highly recommend their services to anyone starting a new business.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I always take visiting friends to Torrey Pines for some seaside hiking along the bluffs overlooking the ocean. It’s a special treat if we can see a pod of dolphins. The Total Raptor Experience Falconry School in La Jolla is one of a kind! It’s amazing to be able to learn about and release giant birds of prey and have them come back to you!
Sunset in OB while hanging out in the tide pools or coves is a must do. Best place to wait for a green flash or catch the bioluminescence when it’s happening.
Farmers Markets in Little Italy and Hillcrest
Sunrise hike up Cowles Mountain
Collecting sand dollars on Coronado Beach
Spreckels Pavilion in Balboa Park for free concerts and a chance to hear the worlds largest outdoor pipe organ.
Great day trips:
Palm Desert/Joshua Tree: I like to take the aerial tramway from Palm Springs up the San Jacinto mountains for amazing views of the valley. Booking a sound bath at the Integratron is a totally unique event and not to be missed. And of course, wandering around Joshua Tree, especially in August during the Perseid Meteor shower. Drive into the park after 10pm during one of the peak nights, pull the car over and lay on the ground a light show unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
Anza Borrego Desert: One of my favorite day trips it to drive west on Hwy 8 and stop at the Desert View Tower and Coyote’s UFO Retrieval and Repair. Once those sites have been taken in, continue on to Cotillo and grab a burger and fries at The Red Feather Café. After, we’ll swing up into the mountains and spend a few hours relaxing at the Agua Caliente Hot Springs the finish the day up by driving into Julian for some apple pie and hopefully catch the sunset over the mountains on the drive home.
Solana Beach to Encinitas: spend a day walking and napping the beaches along the northern coast, finishing in Encinitas for some food at one of the many great restaurants along the 101 between A St and K St.
Alpine to visit Lions, Tigers and Bears large animal rescue. It’s an amazing thing they are doing out there for large cats and wild animals.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I give a shout out to my very first acupuncturist in Milwaukee, WI. She taught me that starting anything new at any time in my life, is absolutely the right time, regardless of what anyone else may think. Spending money and time on educating myself and furthering the expansion of my mind is never a waste. And, most important, kindness and honesty always resonate out to those around me and will make the world a better place.