How to respond when somebody asks: "So... What do you do for a living?"


*Photo above was taken at Audubon Center at Deb's Park, where we met every six weeks in person. Several months ago, I noticed a group of children plucking the lotuses out of the pond and chucking them at each other. My mother would have been so heartbroken to see such a sacred flower reminiscent of our motherland being treated with so much apathy -  but during our weekend graduation they had resurfaced!!! No mud, no lotus....They may try to pick or bury us, but we are resilient AF.

A week ago, I graduated from my intensive 9 month life coaching program through Leadership that Works, the only international accredited coaching program that explores dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression when working with clients. I'm still gaining practice hours so can't say that I'm pro-status yet, and I'm working on multiple artistic and consulting projects right now -sooooooooo, it's easy to say I struggle with how to respond when people ask me what it is I do for a living because I'm doing so much that can't be put into words! However, I'm so grateful to be in an ever expanding community with others who struggle with answering this same question thanks to this amazing program. In honor of our process, I wrote a spoken word piece for our graduation as a tribute to this badass Los Angeles 2016-2017 cohort. While I weaved these words together, this is the sum of their responses as to how they choose to show up in the world that I secretly collected during one of our last circles together. 😭 I will be profiling some of them at the end, and I can't wait for you to witness more of their magic!

How to respond when somebody asks:

"So... What do you do for a living?"

My heart pounds as I prepare the script in my mind of how to respond. I've rehearsed this many times before, but even still - the question presents itself as a box, seeing whether I can be stuffed in or not.

I've been told I'm a circle, but people are so used to their squares - molding me into their desired frame that ends up looking a lot more like - a blob.

And that's how I've walked this world for so long, thinking there was always something wrong with me as I've tried to shape shift, my own metamorphosis to be amongst the other cubes on this earthly cocoon only to be told that-  I'm just not the right angled fit.

I'd like to think I'm more like a star, supernova bursting in the sky into a million pieces that the only way humans can comprehend is through drawing geometric shapes with rigid corners, confining me into straight lines and chiseled edges.

And lately, I've been feeling this call to return to my cosmic home, to break free and spread these mariposa wings, flying high to escape toward the rising sun. As if I'm always chasing until it sets, day breaks while I hide in the shadows of the moon - still resisting this dreaded question of, "So.. What do you do for a living?"

It's been nine months, and today I am birthed into a new dream, awakening into horizons of my desired reality. Inhale the atmosphere that has kept me alive for this long, exhale any gravity that has weighed me down with limiting beliefs, and return to earth... with an empowering question.

(Deep breath)

If you're asking what it is i am paid for, that is not living - only surviving.

Instead, ask me what is it that makes me feel alive?

I live to connect communities so that we can see each other with clarity

Transform spaces of harm and violence into solace and serenity

Help people feel like they belong

And come home to themselves

I live for not wilding out, but wilding within.

Assisting wandering souls on their journey toward higher self

I am Dancing heart

I am Ride or die

I will push you off the cliff -

so you can learn to spread your wings and fly.

I am a gardener, shedding dead leaves for new growth

Shifting the eyes of our folks to no longer believe they are disposable, for we are not our status.

I am song, changing frequencies to vibrate compassion so that we can love again.

I am wholeness and joy

And this is my revolutionary act!

I break the chains of incarcerations to incarnation

I am Oshun, loving warrior and creative inspiration of the heart.

I am in the world to give and receive iré, elésé, ayé,

Holding space for liberation and deep connection.

I am universal abundance, masculine and feminine, Suave dragon, punani power superwoman, lotuses of resiliency blooming deep from the murky waters after being plucked from the pond of Audubon.

I am Chingona Madrina, protector of the universe.

I am ish, jaguar healer of freedom, creativity and imagination, manifestation of unconditional love and light

I live to make the world a better place

Releasing these protectors to liberate our exiles, healing the wounded child to reawaken intuition and reclaim our whole selves

I am a smoking mirror of you, for you are me. 

And together, we are the sum of our ancestors greatest dreams.

So you, my friend, are not just a square -

But a diamond, a kaleidoscope of possibilities brought close to the Earth's surface through seismic shifts and volcanic eruptions - and now, it is time for you to be seen.

I am a vessel for source, And what I live for -cannot be explained, only experienced.

So - book me (or any of my colleagues) for a discovery session, and tell me - What brings you joy? What is your heart's deepest desires? What is your highest dream intention?

In other words, what is it that makes you feel alive?

-Jumakae (May 20, 2017)

YAY! Now, for you to meet some of the faces behind these lines: 

  • Ju Hong, aka "Suave Dragon" 🐉 who aims to coach undocumented youth. Many of you might recognize him as the "heckler" during Obama's speech about immigration several years ago, but here is a documentary recently released about his own story being undocumented (and very unafraid!!) You can learn more about him by visiting :
  • Ernesto Rocha, aka the mariposa that knows no borders and el corazon of the sequoia tree, who is my dear Dharma brother and labor rights organizer working with port truck drivers in Long Beach. He is queer, undocumented, unafraid, and will be going to law school in the near future. He is also co-founder of Long Beach's first ever storytelling night for people of color called "Cocoon", which was created after he attended The Moth storytelling night in Los Angeles and saw the lack of diversity on the selection of line-ups. His Tedx Talk, "I am Not My Status", premiered the day before our graduation, which brings to life a story that he remembered of crossing the border during our night hike at a Buddhist temple last summer: 


*Note: This is a work in progress! I want to brag about every single one of these people, but for now here is a list of their names as I gather their stories and who it is they aim to serve. 

  • India Osborne, the one who will push you off the cliff - so you can spread your wings and fly. And she's a Hollywood producer who has spent a ton of time working in the entertainment industry, but is now in a space where she's reclaiming her brujeria magic:
  • Urana Jackson: Author or Girl Rising, psychotherapist, workshop facilitator with a specialty working for teenagers reclaiming spiritual wisdom - and now Life Coach! 
  • Michelle Coleman, former director of a domestic violence agency and now still fiercely advocates for survivors as a consultant and coach.. Watch one of her previous moving speeches here.
  • Pia Schiavo-Campo, aka "Mama Bear", is a Transformational Coach & Facilitator, Improviser, Writer, and Public Speaker. She has spent the last eight years working in social justice non-profits at both the direct service level and policy level.... and became a mother during our 9 months together!! Check out her popular blog, she writes about body acceptance.
  • Kea Meyers Duggan, former marketing executive turned superhero empowering you to find your "aha!" moments: 
  • Alice Hom, is an activist and award winning author, and my first peer coach who I got to witness throughout our sessions together manifest a big grant to document the stories of LGBTQIA++ activists from the 1960s and on through recorded interviews. Alice is so amazing, they even has their own WIKIPEDIA!! 
  • Nare Park, food justice advocate and manifestation of love and light in all of their queer glory
  • Belia Saavreda, giver and receiver of iré, elésé, ayé
  • Kruti Parekh, punani power sister
  • Reggie Lagrand, the ride or die homie
  • Omar Cardenas
  • Victor Gonzalez
  • Mari Ryono
  • Geordee Mae
  • Lisa Ahn
  • Alison Sirkus Brody
  • Uyen Nguyen
  • Shawnee Spitler
  • Xiomara Corpeno
  • Monika Kalra Varma

Our mentors:

And so many more who came before us, and will come next! You can explore other coaches who have been accredited through our program here.

Red velvet cake, customized with love <3

Red velvet cake, customized with love <3

Our altar which called upon our ancestors and higher selves, present in every session with us.

Our altar which called upon our ancestors and higher selves, present in every session with us.