Season 2 EP#72 On Resourcing: Ancestral Healing Begins at Home
Hello future ancestors,
I know it’s been a while - but I definitely have some updates on life and so many things that are unfolding, or better yet, unraveling.
As many of you know, I started Your Story Medicine with a deep curiosity about how to connect with my ancestors especially as someone who was born and raised in the United States, away from my parents’ homeland and the kind of village support they were raised with.
While other kids at my elementary school were doing cool things during summer break like dirt biking or camping at the private Christian school I attended, my Buddhist family and I would travel back to Thailand every year where we would spend time with my extended family, where I ran with the other children through rice fields chasing dragonflies and crabs.
Why did my parents send me to a Christian school? Someone told them I would receive a better education and childcare there since we didn't have extended family to support my sister and I while my parents were at work.
And so I grew up with both Bible verses and Buddhist chants that shaped my spiritual upbringing at a young age.
My American life was in the city, while my life in Thailand was immersed in the countryside.
While I was raised in the suburbs with smooth concrete roads and a 5 bedroom home for our family of 4, the house that my mother’s family was raised in didn’t have any private rooms for their family of 10 and it stood on wooden stilts, which protected them from flooding during monsoon season.
My mother grew up as the eldest daughter of 8 siblings, where everyone was expected to grow up and eventually become a farmer to help cultivate the land that our family had cared for for many generations.
While they were not financially rich, they were abundant in so many other ways and hunger was nonexistent when food grew everywhere.
However, my mother was the first to leave her village with a dream to move to the city while eventually making her way to America, where she could have her own big house and where everyone would be able to have their own rooms vs sharing a tiny space with no privacy.
And she did that. She and my father came to the US with less than $500 to their name while moving into a small one bedroom apartment until they eventually saved enough to achieve that dream by the time I was born.
And yet with this dream achieved, what is it that had to be sacrificed along the way?
- Changing our names to make it easier for Americans to say.
- Speaking more English at home so that we wouldn’t have to face the same discrimination as them.
- Lack of consistent childcare without other family to call on.
- Loss of so much of culture being passed down when we were just trying to become American.
And it wasn’t until my late twenties where I made that effort to reconnect, where I traveled back to Thailand alone to learn about ancestral healing, where so many stories that were dormant in my mother’s womb surfaced of her own childhood upbringing and how different it was from my own.
In my Ted Talk, How to Connect With Your Ancestors, i talk about how my grandmother was surrounded by a village of support when she was pregnant and was given at least 30 days to rest unlike my mother, who birthed me through c-section alone in a hospital room and had to return to work on the maternity unit of another hospital floor two weeks later.
There was no time to experience postpartum depression when you have to provide for the family, and it wasn't until I reached the age of 30 where I realized a lot of her repressed grief was probably passed down to me.
My mother recalls her childhood, now saying, “I wish I could go back to those days…”
And lately, she has been expressing regret over having such a big house for such a small family because of the ways we can all hide behind closed doors from each other.
While she grew up with 7 other siblings under one roof, the only children that my parents birthed were my sister and I eleven year apart.
I’m sure a lot of that was due to economic reasons, in addition to me being a very late surprise.
And while raising two children was a lot more financially sound for them, and for many other families raising children here in America, those of us who grew up without a village of support like what my grandmother or our ancestors experienced are now challenged with the repercussions in our adult years.
As many of you may know, I announced in my previous solo podcast episode that I would be taking a sabbatical for the remainder of the year to tend to my wellness and to reconnect with my own ancestors.
My intention was to return to Thailand to study with Homprang, the traditional midwife that originally taught me womb healing when I was propelled into this path after being fired from my nonprofit job in 2017, and I was so excited to be a student again. The last time I had been back to my motherland was before Your Story Medicine was even birthed which happened at the peak of my Saturn Return five years ago.
You can listen to my first episode ever to hear more, since this is what essentially sparked my path into ancestral reclamation and entrepreneurship. I essentially created the very space I needed at that time of my life, in a predominately white industry that was abundant with cultural appropriation and misrepresentation.
I thought that returning to Thailand this time would be a way for me to be reminded of my medicine, but spirit clearly had other plans for me.
And In this past month, my life has taken a very different turn.
A week after my first backpacking trip, which I talked about in my last solo episode entitled “The Wisdom of Anger: Tending to Our Inner Fires,” I traveled to the East Coast for two weeks.
And it was in New York where I unexpectedly found love.
This was followed by our second date at Burning Man where we spent several hours stuck in a dust storm together, and where he said that he received a message from my ancestors that he was sent into my life to protect me.
And while this is a story that is still unfolding, and it feels so sacred to me that I even feel strange discussing this on my podcast, I have no doubt that spirit is orchestrating all of this to remind me that I don’t have to carry everything alone and that it is safe for me to receive - even if just for this moment, and it's revealed to me how I still struggle with my own stories of worthiness when it comes to love.
“I’m a strong independent woman, business owner, and healer. I can do this by myself.
I don’t need another half to complete me when I am already whole, nor do I need a protector in my life.“
And yet, it is those very narratives that repel us from allowing love and abundance in.
My dear sister, Charlotte Nguyen, a meditation teacher also known as Lotus in a sea of Fire on instagram, reflected back to me that just because someone has or needs a protector doesn’t mean they’re weak.
On the contrary, it is the strongest ones that need it the most. They are the ones that are carrying the burden of the world’s suffering that need someone by their side and to have their back when they’re so focused on their dharma, whether it be for emotional, spiritual, or physical safety.
And for those of us that are single women above the age of 30, there’s this inherent assumption that we are still maidens, or little girls. That because we aren’t married or have children, we cannot bear the title of matriarch and that our lives are easier or more frivolous than everyone else’s or maybe that we actually don’t have our shit together according to societal standards.
So why do I mention all of this?
Within 24 hours of me returning back from Burning Man, I technically would have been boarding a plane back to Thailand to officially start my sabbatical where I dreamed about eating mangoes and sticky rice while learning how to make tiger balm from scratch.
But instead, on that same evening of September 11, I received a phone call from my sister.
“You need to take dad to the ER immediately.”
I came home and took him to the nearest hospital, where doctors monitored symptoms of a stroke. After 7 hours of testing and CT scans, the doctors reported it as Bell's Palsy instead.
We came home at 4:00 in the morning, and less than two hours later, after I had already fallen asleep, my mother came knocking on my bedroom door asking me to take her to the ER for pain she was suddenly experiencing.
By 7:00AM I arrived at the same hospital with the same nurses and doctors still working, baffled as to why I returned so soon.
And I told them, "Well, first it was my dad. Now, it’s my mom.”
They immediately rushed my mother to get tested, And it was by her bedside in that cold hospital room where I held as she screamed in pain, asking to be dead already.
And the only thing I could do was recite the same Buddhist mantra she used to say to me as a little girl when I was in the hospital.
“Samma arahannng (x2)…” which translates to clear and bright, or clear your mind from suffering in my mom’s Buddhist lineage.
As the nurses brought her pain killers, she drifted away into sleep.
And I sat there, holding it all together as I also thought about my father who was now recovering at home unaware we were even gone.
Was he ok? Who is watching him while my sister is tending to her own family and responsibilities?
Where is my village? Who do I call on for support?
Thankfully both of my parents are now both at home recovering; to where I have been unexpectedly been given the role of caretaker as the only daughter without a family of my own.
It is expected of me to carry these responsibilities because I didn’t choose the route of getting married or having children.
And while it doesn’t seem fair, I’m learning how to find honor in all of this as I am being invited to taste my own bitter medicine.
Because while I wanted to reconnect with my ancestors in the motherland by reclaiming my cultural and ancestral healing practices.
I am being called to connect with them in the very place that raised me.
To connect with our ancestors doesn’t mean needing to travel back to your roots, and not everyone has the means or privilege to even do that.
It means having courageous conversations with your elders and holding space to gather their stories.
It means tending to your altar in your living space.
It means reconnecting with our breath, our first means of communication with spirit.
I had also plans to attend an Ayahuasca and Buddhism retreat for people of color at the end of the year to close off my sabbatical, where I set an intention to cultivate an intimate relationship with death after the near death experience of my own mother this past year -
But another coach and healer friend of mine, JeMarc, questioned if me choosing to attend this retreat was actually my way of escaping this very intention when I’m already being confronted with it.
Plant medicine isn’t going to heal that for me.
It’s sitting with discomfort, versus constantly chasing after the present moment.
And for many of us, chasing the present moment may look like attending festivals, training, or hopping from one retreat to the next.
I know that this has been my tendency, and spirit clearly is sending me this message to the point where my car was broken into while I was at Burning Man, and is now out of commission for at least two months since the shop is so backed up with replacement parts.
And in the words of Grace Lee Boggs, sometimes the most radical thing you can do is stay put.
So what happens next?
I’ve just wrapped up my sixth cohort of Roots to Rise, completed another retreat for my past students, and now…
I’m being asked to retreat.
Not to Thailand, not to do ayahuasca, but to be present exactly where I am.
In regards to my mothers health, the doctors said she had kidney stones, which is treatable on its own, though she does have a major upcoming surgery that has been postponed several times already and it will require all hands on deck - which means needing to take a major pause on Your Story Medicine so that I can be a full-time daughter.
I have had so many stories playing out in my mind…
What’s in store for 2023?
Who am I when I’m not in coach-mode?
Who am I without my titles?
Can I carry the responsibilities of being the new matriarch in my family?
What will happen to my business?
Is everything going to fall apart?
Am I a failure for not being as consistent with content creation, podcast, emails, etcetera?
And I get to remind myself that growing this sacred business prepared me for the space I'm able to have now to really show up for my family.
Another dear friend of mine, Jo Portia, sex coach and pleasure activist, told me that I am not quitting my business nor am I falling behind.
Instead, I am resourcing.
Resourcing my nervous system from the ways it has been interrupted, and quite frankly, attacked for quite some time now.
And in a book that was gifted to me by another sister Geisha, entitled “The Art & Practice of Spiritual Herbalism” by Karen M Moss, it talks about how God lives in the nervous system.
Oftentimes, when we are trying to control our fate, this is sending the message to God, our guides and our ancestors that we don’t need their assistance.
Our nervous system then operates in a state of fight or flight versus rest and digest.
Rest can feel like a threat to the nervous system if we have been in survival mode our whole lives.
And for many of us, rest then becomes forced upon us due to burnout or an accident that gives us no choice but to pause.
So for those of you who have been feeling that call to take a break or pause from whatever it is you’re doing.
Please know that it is in those moments of surrender where divine intervention happens.
Such as birthing a spiritual business.
An unexpected job opportunity.
A new place to call home.
An ancestor returned.
or even finding love in the most unlikely place.
Oh, the dances of grief and joy.
And so from now until 2023, you can find me resourcing.
This means less posts on social media.
Less screen time.
More presence with my body and my family.
More space to dream about what to create next.
And more space to create without attachments to an outcome or a product.
And if you’d like to reach me, or if any of my work has touched your heart in any way, please know that you are very much a part of my community, my village, even if we’ve never spoken.
I’m more than just a coach, healer, or a life doula, but I am a daughter, a friend, a brown girl with big dreams that said yes to this future version of myself that I get to embody today.
Your story medicine is a small family business, and I thank you for being a supporter, whether you've listened to this podcast or have been a client that has trusted me with your stories.
So don’t be a stranger and feel free to reach out at [email protected] to share what’s on your hearts, because this was created for shame to dissipate when our stories are shared. And I do my best to respond personally since it means so much to know that I’m walking this journey alongside you.
In the meantime, I invite you to subscribe to our email list if you're not on it yet by going to yourstorymedicine.com where you'll be the first to know about my return and upcoming offerings, or follow me on Instagram @jumakae where I'll rarely be posting nowadays.
Otherwise, I invite you to dream so radically big with me.
And to ask yourself ...
How will I commit to connecting with my ancestors through my elders?
What kind of ancestor will I be?
How can I embody that in the here and now?
May you find the resourcefulness within you, and may you remember that by simply existing in this moment, you are already your ancestors' wildest dreams come true.
Until next year!