Ep#33 Initiations: What Ancestors Told Me
Aloha from the beautiful Island of Oahu.
I am currently here in Hawaii, where I was actually supposed to return home a week ago. But I decided to extend my trip by at least another week.
And while it can be so easy to simply see the highlight reels of my life, soaking up the sun, being at the beach, hiking, snorkeling with sea turtles, all the things, it's important to also know that being here is actually a big challenge for me. Because I'm so used to being in the role of somebody who gives and is holding space for others that I am still learning what it's like to hold space for myself to be safe with allowing myself to receive so that I can pour from my overflow.
So I wanted to specifically talk today about comparison, as the thief of joy.
For many of us who are stepping into our medicine and our sacred offering, it could be so easy to get into the loop of, “ Oh, so and so is doing something similar to me or I will never get there because they have far more experience and a lot more confidence than me.”
Well, guess what? A lot of the people who you look up to have had to go through these initiations themselves and are constantly going through it.
I've had to ask myself, what is it that I'm grieving as I'm here? And also, what is it that I'm celebrating? Because if you heard my last episode with Roshni, then you may know that my mother is not well right now. My 75 year old mama who has never ever asked for help from anybody, who has been the foundation of my whole family, is preparing herself to become an ancestor, which terrifies me to know. And because she's mom, and I have never been so close to experiencing the loss of somebody. Somebody who's so close to my heart.
And I turned 34, while here in Hawaii. So my fun fact, the first domain name I ever bought for my business was actually survivingsaturn.com. And because I was 29 years old, after getting fired from my nonprofit job, I knew that this was a part of my own initiation, Saturn, which takes place at 29 and a half years old, and lasts anywhere from three to four years. And it's when I built my business. I ended up not using that domain because I was like, who am I to hold other people going through their Saturn return when I'm still figuring mine out. And granted, it's no coincidence that many people who have gone on to work with me are going through this initiation. And it's when I hired my first coaches, and mentors, because I realized that there was no plan B for me . This is it, this is the path and I cannot do it by myself anymore.
And honestly, 33 years old was my favorite year thus far. I experienced it during a pandemic. And yet, in my tiny apartment is where I built a six figure business on my couch. But beyond that, I was able to look back and think about all the people who I was able to support in stepping into their own medicine. And how I was only able to do that because of my own growth edges and my initiations and being confronted with the fear and asking myself what other people are going to think of me. And also going through my own comparison loop of who am I to put myself out there when so and so is doing better, when so and so is doing something similar to me. And that is just such scarce thinking that we get to heal from.
When I first stepped into this work of ancestral healing, the portal to that, for me, was going back to my motherland to Thailand to see how my ancestors healed themselves. And it was when I came home from staying with this traditional midwife in Thailand where I discovered that my mother, my mother, was a baby doula. And I learned about how she came into this world, and how it was so different from how I came into this world. How she was surrounded by her family and loved ones, when she was born. And yet, when I came into this world, it was such a traumatic experience that she just suppressed. Because there's no time to grieve. There's no time to experience postpartum depression when you have to go straight back to work. And it was through me just leaning into curiosity and asking the questions of my own ancestral lineage. And these birth stories, where so much healing happens between my mother and I, and that was exactly four years ago on my 30th birthday. Where we sat together in this training with other birth workers of color. And it's where the other women, women of color in this circle started to question their own birth story and the trauma that their mothers were carrying, that they may have been unknowingly carrying their whole lives that they could now have this permission to release and let go of. So that something else could be born. So that was the catalyst into where I am today, four years later, now stepping out of my Jesus year, where the reality of grief is hitting so close to home.
So, on the evening of my birthday, my friends and I checked into a beautiful yurt at the Hawaii spiritual center. And I kid you not when I tell you, I believe that my ancestors have guided me to this place because it happens to be tended to, the land happens to be cared for by location elders. And if you are unfamiliar with the geography of Southeast Asia, Thailand and Laos border each other just like Cambodia, who is it that places these borders there, right? But we share very similar languages and cultures, other than the border that was placed there. And also other than the trauma that has been experienced, which a lot of it has to do with US imperialism.
What many people don't know is that Laos is actually to date, the most heavily bombed country by the US government. And you can look it up. It's called, The Secret War. It happened in the 70’s. And many Laotians immigrate to Thailand where they stayed in refugee camps before they received asylum in other countries. And so, while on the mainland, my backstory, my family did not arrive here as refugees. But I grew up in the Southeast Asian communities where that narrative was different, Cambodians, Laotians, Vietnamese who were placed in the United States. Long Beach, being the largest Southeast Asian community. And all of the United States grew up with a lot of challenges with war with so many mental health issues that today just feel they're not inaccessible, but it's like, our elders knew how to heal themselves.
They would tend to the land, they would work with the body, we had our own version of talk stories that took place in the form of song and dance, which is why talk therapy is not going to vibe with everyone. And here in Hawaii, here at the Hawaii spiritual center, that is managed, that is cared for by other Laotian elders, I could just feel their joy and it's just so amazing for me to be able to speak my own mother tongue to say, “Hello, Auntie! Hello, Uncle! Sabai Dee Mai. How are you doing?” And they just welcomed me in.
Oh, I feel like I'm back in my ancestral homeland and I can feel their energy is so different from my own community, from people in the mainland and I have been wanting so badly to go back to Thailand. But with the COVID restrictions, that obviously is not possible, right now. And I was like, Oh my gosh, I dream of bringing my mother here. I would love for her to experience this land that is so reminiscent of her childhood. And to share space with her elders. Well, technically, she is an elder at this point, but still, oh, to be able to speak our mother tongue, to eat the fruits that she grew up with, to be cared for by the ocean and the land. And where we camped happened to be at the foot of the entrance to the sacred falls.
The sacred falls is currently closed off to the public. But there is a pagoda that was created by these elders, a Buddhist altar.
And whenever I go back to Thailand, in the forest, you will see these altars that pay homage to the spirits of the forest. And so it's just I get chills, just thinking about how I truly felt like my ancestors and my guides have led me to this land, to pay respect and to remind me that they have never left. And it was deep in meditation that evening, where I actually felt all of my grandmother's and my great grandmother's moved through me, as they said to me, it's okay June, we will welcome your mother back home when she is ready to return. And I sobbed, I sobbed because I'm not ready. I'm so not ready to let my mom go, she's still mommy to me. I have been getting better at playing with my inner child. But I am not ready to be my own mother. And to feel their love and assurance, released the sense of urgency for me to go home and collect all the stories that I can for my mom. And I don't even know if she has the energy to even go there. But just that feeling of, this is a part of life.
Death is a part of life.
And I don't know what the future holds. I just reminisce on how when I went back to Thailand, and my grandfather's funeral was this beautiful celebration. And I remember my mom telling me that we will never have the chance to experience a death ceremony like this again, because he was the eldest of the village, over 2000 people came to his funeral from all over Thailand. And he was not a politician, nor did he have a lot of money. He just had a good heart and helped so many people throughout his lifetime.
And that day also happened to be the birthday of my little cousin who I see as my little sister out there. But because she grew up in the village, she never had a chance to experience a birthday party, like how we do here in the United States. And so I actually went to the giant supermarket that was just built in my mom's village called Tesco, Lotus. It's like the Walmart of Southeast Asia and I hated it, but it was the only place that sold birthday cakes. And it was just built within those past two years. And so I went to Dairy Queen inside of Tesco Lotus, and surprised my little cousin with two ice cream cakes, where I gathered my other cousins and my Auntie's and they sang happy birthday and broken tie, and she sobbed and sobbed and sobbed because I did not want her to remember this day as only our grandfather's funeral, but also as the day she came into this world.
And fun fact, the birthday cake actually represents a plus center. I read that from somewhere before.
So I am now being invited to befriend death. So grateful I had that experience to learn about her birth story, my birth story and how we have healed our relationship. I don't know if I'll ever bring children into this world. But when that happens, I'll feel more equipped and confident. But death Hmm. So I feel like my next initiation is starting this death doula training, because while she was in the hospital, while I spent three days with her, by her bedside, wondering what's going to happen, I was researching who is it that could hold me through this? And I decided why don't I just learn how to go through this myself. Which by the way, I feel like we could use not only more birth workers, more doulas, but death workers as well.
And my mom deserves a grand ceremony like my grandfather. But I also grieve, knowing that we didn't grow up here in the United States with extended family. I didn't grow up with death rituals, I don't know what that looks like. I don't know what it looks like to hire menorah dancers, which are the half bird, half people shamans from my mom's village, who would typically be the ones to hold this ceremony as they guided the spirits back to the ancestral realm. The funerals here just seem so dry and sad. Everybody wears black, and I know that we can recreate our own rituals. And while it terrifies me, I want to know what it is going to look like to reclaim a ceremony to support my mother with her transition, whether that happens soon, or several years from now, I just want to be ready. I don't want it to be a shock to my system as it felt when she told me that she could potentially go very, very soon.
And so how does this relate to comparison as the thief of joy?
There are people who you admire, there are people who you look up to who have had to confront so many of these shadows and have also had to go through this overcoming this scarcity of who am I to do any of this when I am still figuring out my shit? When other people are doing better? Who am I? Do I even have a story that's worth sharing? And who are you not to?
So whenever I am feeling confronted, when I have been confronted with jealousy when I see myself leaning back into scarcity, especially when I see somebody else who is showing up in ways that may feel intimidating for me, because I'm not there yet. What I have learned to do is to actually reach out to these individuals, even when they have a ton of followers or a bigger social media presence. Because something that I have learned now being on the other side of this is that they are just human beings. We are just human beings. You cannot put your coach, your mentor, your teachers, on this pedestal, we are not your gurus. We are folks who have allowed ourselves to lean into this grief into this pain and to transmute medicine into magic. And so I spoke to one of my spiritual teachers, mentors this morning, Kathy.
I'll put her information in the show notes, but she shared with me a story that her father shared with her before he transitioned into the ancestral realm. And I don't remember what community this comes from. But apparently in this village, when a child comes into this world, they grieve, knowing that this child will grow up with a life of suffering. And it doesn't mean that suffering is equated to a life full of pain, but just like acknowledging that it's going to be there.
And when somebody transitions back into the spirit realm, they celebrate, because the suffering ceases to exist.
And many of us go through these cycles of grief, of celebration. So I'm asking myself, what is it that's being shed? And if contraction precedes expansion, then I also get to acknowledge that my body is doing the work for me that, yes, I could have rushed home. For what though, to just get back into this hamster wheel of holding space for other people without learning what it's like to be able to hold it for myself. And trust me when I tell you, I have been overcoming so much guilt being here in paradise where the rate of COVID right now is less than 1%. Who am I to be here to enjoy myself when people back at home are suffering? And how scarce is that? Because I know that me, being here, allowing myself to receive the medicine of this einer will allow me to show up for my family, for my clients, for this upcoming retreat that I'm hosting, with my own clients, by the way, from a place of overflow. I got to learn how to do this for myself, and embody what that looks like versus martyring myself for other people. No, I do not want to repeat the same pattern as my mother, who has just been the one to constantly show up for others over and over again. And now that she is being met with illness, why is this the time now for her to be still?
No, I don't want that.
And so, my invitation to you is if you are feeling any hint of jealousy, or comparison with somebody who inspires you, or intimidates you, then reach out to them. Acknowledge them. Those words are affirmation, medicine. And even if they don't respond, at least you get it out of your nervous system, at least you get it out of your head. But what I have learned is that when I have made that effort of just reaching out, even when it feels scary, even when I'm like oh my gosh, they're gonna reject me, they're gonna think I'm fangirling them or something. What ends up happening majority of the time is that they end up becoming partners, and collaborators. Sometimes they've become my mentors. Other times, they've become my own clients.
Isn't it beautiful that we get to have this reciprocal relationship where we can learn from one another?
That we get to take ourselves off of this pressure from needing to be the expert from needing to have all of our stuff figured out. And to just acknowledge that we get to co-create, we get to learn together. And they've referred people to me, I've referred people to them. And this is what it looks like to be able to shift our collective from this scarce colonial thinking into one of abundance. Where we also get to hold each other through our grief and our shadows and to also celebrate one another because we are so under celebrated. And this gets to be another stretch for you as you are stepping into your medicine. How is it that you can learn how to celebrate yourself when there's nobody cheering you on? But this is also the beauty of having a community container, or a coach, or a guide, or a mentor.
We've also began enrollment for the next routes to rise, which doesn't begin until I believe the second week of August and as of now we are almost halfway filled and I have no doubt that this program is going to fill up because it's important to me that we keep the space intimate enough where I can ensure that folks are being seen and heard.
And so if you are seeking a community or a coach to move you from scarcity into abundance and to learn how to share your story so that you can call in your people and give them a taste of your medicine, which we can explore together. Then I invite you to apply. And of course, I am very transparent if I feel like this is or isn't the right fit for you and at this time I am in a place where I'm so happy to refer you to somebody else who may be in better alignment with where it is you're at. Because my commitment is that anybody who speaks to me walks away with clarity on their next steps whether or not that looks like working with me or we're speaking to somebody else that is a better fit.
And regardless, this is actually going to be the last time I'm running Roots to Rise for the year, my 12-week program, because I'm practicing what it's going to look like to do less in the winter time. Because I've learned that, that's how my body likes to operate. When December comes around, I tend to slump and I'm just learning that I get to practice what it looks like to just listen to my body versus feeling like I need to work 365 days out of the year.
No. Nature doesn't work that way. So why should we? Especially if we are made of the same elements of nature as well.
So if this is something that calls to you, you can reach out to me on Instagram @jumakae or email me at [email protected]. And if you are in my weekly newsletter, you will also see the invitation to apply. And also reach out to me to let me know if any of these words resonate with you because it is such sweet medicine for my soul.
I would love to hear what is coming up for you. And if anything to just remind you that you are not alone on your journey.
I have got you.
It is time to shine your light.
Because when you shine your light, it only amplifies others. Like it doesn't take away from anybody else's which is what so many of us get caught up in. And no, there gets to be more of us.
So, I am your sister on this journey. I love you, I see you and remember there is somebody out there praying for your story medicine that is still unfolding as we speak.
You are never, ever, ever alone. You are so divinely guided and you are so loved. And there is no coincidence whatsoever that you are listening to this episode today and to remember that we are real people who are going through these initiations with the intention that you no longer have to hide as well and it is safe to come out and express yourself. And yeah, that's it.
I hope you enjoy the sounds of the birds in the background as they are also singing for you. I love you and I will see you when I get back to the mainland.
Apply to Roots to Rise, my 12 week storytelling & leadership program to tell your story, grow your legacy, and launch your sacred offerings from a place of alignment: ww.yourstorymedicine.com/rootstorise
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