214: BIPOC Legacy Building and Ancestor Work with Camila Lacques-Zapién

214: BIPOC Legacy Building and Ancestor Work with Camila Lacques-Zapién


On today’s episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast, we dive deep into ancestor work, lineage, and legacy building with my dear friend Camila Lacques-Zapien. As first-gen BIPOC students and professionals, understanding our histories and tapping into ancestral wisdom can be profoundly healing and empowering.

Camila Lacques-Zapién helps BIPOC & first gen visionaries build legacies rooted in community & authenticity through her business, ALA CAMILA. She offers personal statement, admissions, creativity, holistic purpose and career coaching. She prides herself on being a compassionate, multi-ethnic, Chicana mystical hype woman, an avid LA sports fan and a lover of creative writing.

On the show Camila defines what ancestor work and legacy building means beyond mystical and financial associations. She shares ways to connect with one’s ancestry and legacy through intention and daily practice. And she teaches us that doing this work can help us better understand our talents and purpose. I hope her words inspire you to honor the past and walk boldly into your future.

To can connect with Camila via:

Instagram: @ala__camila
Her website: alacamila.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/clacques/

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Camila Lacques-Zapien 0:02

Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring podcast. This is your host Doctora Yvette. Today we have a special guest who's going to talk to us all about BIPOC legacy building and ancestor work. Our guest is my amiga, Camila Lacques-Zapien Oh my gosh, I don't even know if I pronounce your last name right. You tell us what's your last name?

Yeah, you got it? lacks it Lacques and then Zapien, it's a complicated story. Well, we'll get into it.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 0:36

I didn't realize, I just read. I don't know. I was like, Wait, I didn't ask you and I'm like, what a shame you're my friend, but this is how we start a podcast. Yeah.

So Camila is someone who helps BIPOC and first gen visionaries build legacies rooted in community and authenticity through her business, ALA Camila. She offers personal statement admissions, creativity, holistic purpose and career coaching. She prides herself on being a compassionate multi ethnic Chicana, mystical hype woman, an avid LA sports fan and a lover of creative writing. She is a UCLA grad, a Fulbright scholar, and most importantly, a leader committed to ancestral connections, courage and humor. When she is not obsessing about BIPOC legacies, she's probably in nature, watching sports or laugh crying her way through chronic illness. Welcome to the podcast, Camila.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 1:40

I think my own intro makes me laugh, because that's how ridiculous life is sometimes.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 1:46

Oh my god, I love your intro. It's so cute. So for folks who don't know about you and your work, please let us know a little bit more about who you are, what you do. And a little bit about your backstory, how you've arrived to the place that you're at today.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 2:05

Yeah, you know, my story, like many people's stories, is really this winding road that leads in a million directions, but also finds common themes no matter where I'm headed. So I really talk about myself as like an accidental ancestor worker and an accidental kind of everything that I do. I was born and raised in LA to a white single mom, I was raised in a predominantly Black American neighborhood. I went to elementary school in middle school with like a very prominent Korean and Korean American community. And my dad is from the rancho, in Michoacan, Mexico. So I've been raised and loved and cared for by people from various different communities, various different spiritual traditions, various different ancestral traditions, all of which have influenced me deeply, in many ways. And each of these communities has kind of been pretty homogenous. So I kind of moved between pretty distinct cultures on a regular basis. And being mixed.

And being raised in a community that wasn't my own ethnic background, kind of put me in a position where I was constantly either translating between groups of people like literally, but also just like, figuratively, um, and then also constantly explaining my story, or expressing why I am the way I am. Why do I talk the way that I talk? Why do I not know, songs in Spanish? But why do I know like all of Motown? Like why do I like this music more than that music? Like, why are my friends look like this? But my dad looks like that. Who is that lady with you? Oh, that's my mom. So I kind of just grew up, constantly having to explain and contextualize who I was, and kind of every part of my identity. I also grew up on a basketball court in a predominantly, yeah, it was a predominantly Black American community in terms of like, who my coaches were, my teammates were and so just the amount of influences in my life is kind of profound.

And both of my parents are artists, they're theater artists, they're writers and, and they're both poets in their own right in a lot of ways. And so I grew up in a creative space with everybody and their mom and kind of being a go between between a lot of different people and loving it and appreciating it and also finding loneliness in that and wanting like, all the different groups and communities that I love and knew so intimately to like not coexists all the time, but to understand or to share each other. And I just felt like this conduit that got to really participate deeply in multiple different communities. And I felt really blessed in that. But that's kind of what led me to be a writing coach and help people with their personal statements. Because people ask me, like, why are you so good at helping people tell their stories, it's like, because I got really good at mind by like, I was like, 10 years old. So, and I got really good at like reading my audience and knowing how to talk and who to talk to, and which way to talk to them. Because code switching was my whole world. It still is my whole world in a lot of ways. And so that's kind of how I landed in accidentally helping my friends or doing youth work in the community when I was at UCLA. And then it came down to people need to write about themselves. And I was like, oh, this is like, fun, this is the easiest part of the whole thing.

You know, when you tell people that writing is fun, or writing about themselves is fun. They kind of look at you sideways, you know, like, Stop, like, yeah, I get that reaction. Yeah, I'm like, What do you mean, this gets to be fun. I'm like, wait, this is the part that we're stressed about. Not everything else about this process. This is the fun part. And so I kind of accidentally became a professional writing coach, and I absolutely love it. And in doing that work, I kind of fell in love with just being like, I've been doing mentoring and community work and organizing for the last 10 years. So I've worked in unions, I've done organizing, I've done community work. I've done youth outreach. I've been in the classroom. I've taught English in Italy, I lived in Chile and studied abroad there. I studied abroad in Mexico. And so I've been doing all this community work and I was an education and I worked at nonprofits. I worked at my high school with English learning, English learner and immigrants, students. And so I was just constantly looking for, obviously, I'm going to be of service. I grew up poor. I grew up super politically, kind of charged by my parents and my experiences.

And first gen to go to college, my both my parents didn't go to college. And so I knew I wanted to do something, and use to do something as like, oh, I'm going to be a lawyer and be a therapist. I'm going to be a counselor, I'm going to be a teacher and I tried all the different hats on in one way or another and it never fit. And I truly felt that what was missing was, I guess, the mystical life piece. I'm also like a deeply spiritual person who grew up really tied to ancestral work. And I think my health and my body showed me in all the different jobs I did all the giving and giving and community that I have zero regrets about my body kept telling me I'm not built for this. This isn't it This isn't it, this isn't it.

And so while I don't ever want to hype up chronic illness, and I never want to gaslight anyone, ever, in my experience, my health and my body has been a compass that really driven me to be more and more honest, every single day in my life, which is not a freakin fun task. And I mean, outside of the illness, I mean, just being honest with yourself, like that's the real word. I don't want to ask the real work. But for me, that's the best where it gets sticky. The illness is trash, right? And so hard and impossibly, just awful, just awful. There's just no way around that. And the making life decisions based in true integrity, because of that is is the is when you go I go oh, no, okay. This is next level.

So I think that as my health has gone through ups and downs, but a couple years ago, I had a really, really bad health crisis. And I'm still recovering and dealing with that. And that's when it really hit me that I need to continue this work of storytelling and healing and helping people with their narratives and doing coaching around purpose and career because it's all connected. It's all the stories, we tell ourselves, the stories, we want to build the stories we want to leave behind the stories we want to live. To me, it's all just one thing that's just legacy. And it's all connected to ancestors, whether we know it or not. And so to me, I call myself like a legacy and ancestor worker, because whether you're coming to me for a personal statement, or you're coming to me to talk about your lineage, to me, it genuinely is almost the same thing, just in a different form. Which is kind of my hard to explain for me, but like.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 9:36

It is hard to understand for someone who doesn't have that same context and background. So can you can you say a little bit more about that about what you mean by ancestor work and what you mean by legacy building? Like how do you define those things? And how do you come to understand them? Yeah.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 9:56

Yeah for sure. Well, I'll backtrack and talk Little bit more specifically about my ancestor journey and then I'm it'll think it'll help contextualize a little bit. But so speaking of this, my story of like, connection, deep connection to so many different communities and ancestors in those communities, and then also feeling lonely in that. And feeling judged feeling like no one, you know, my white mom couldn't quite teach me how to be a woman of color, nor would she pretend she could my you know, Mexican immigrant father could didn't even pretend to know what it's like to be a woman or be me. And so, and the other communities and people that love me around me, also would not really fully understand my perspective, or where where I come in from the in between are the multiple at the same, the both ends, that that liminal space in between is, it's hard to understand for folks sometimes if you don't live it or understand it.

And so that work of misunderstanding, even within my own family and turmoil that I've had extensively in my mom's side, my my white family, and disagreement in discord around my own identity, and my own politics, being Chicana, looking how I do living my life in this body, having roots and connection to indigeneity, through my through my lineage really brought a lot of friction, friction and racism and pushback. And so it kind of all boiled over in college, when I started to feel more connected to myself and less connected through people around me directly. And I started saying, you know what, I need to talk to my ancestors directly, because nobody down here on the earth plane is talking to me in a way that I can understand or they can understand me. So I need to go directly to the source. Like I need to feel close to my lineages, I need to feel the power and support and love and care of my ancestors, in a way that for some reason, no one down here can really embody and walk me through, it's my journey. And I'm going to have to do this not alone, but kind of on my own path.

And so it's through discord around my identity and around loneliness, that led me directly to the source of just starting to claim and speak to my ancestors directly. And so when I talk about legacy building, in general, I'm talking about just a conscious connection to the fact that you come from somewhere, or somewheres. And you're somewhere now on someone's land, affecting someone's people, someone's lineage, and you're gonna go places and create more in your life and your future and continue to affect people in the long run. And so to me, legacy is just being conscious that you exist as a part of a lineage.

And that you can shift lineages. We can heal lineages. We can connect to lineages. We can discover things. We can garner strength and suffering from lineages. So it's just being consciously connected to the people you come from. And I say all of that, because it took me a long time to really settle into connecting to my Irish and Jewish ancestors on my mom's side. And so back to my last name is spelled LACQUES. Most people look at me and think it's lah-kez. Like, it's some like colonial Spanish name or something. And it's actually a Jewish last name that's originally spelled LACHS, lachs, which is very common in Jewish lineage. And so I'm coming up upon some of my health issues. When I figured out some stuff in the last five years, I went to the doctor, and on one of the forums that asked, Do you have Jewish heritage? And I put, yes, and that actually led me to a genetic test that led me to understand that I have a specific gene mutation very common among Jewish people in diaspora and helped me totally change tracks in terms of like a healing process and how I need to what I need to know about my body.

And so when I talk about like lineage and ancestors stuff, it can feel very out in the ether, you know, but claiming my own lineage in a doctor's office with a white doctor that I had no experience with that definitely won't assume that necessarily I come from a Jewish lineage or might not even believe that I do. Because people often tell me like, No, you don't or, you know, and I hear the craziest thing. And yeah, so sometimes the work is very literal, and it's very in your face and obvious. And it comes it turns out that my grandfather, my mom's father didn't ever openly talk about being Jewish and shunned it and hit it. So he was born in New York. And at some age, they kind of lost their identity on purpose, and let it go and became French overnight and change the spelling of the last name. Because there was such rampant anti semitism and think it was my great, great, my great grandfather tried to, needed to get a job and feed a bunch of people in the household and he couldn't do so as a Jew. And so the last name change, and now we're from Marseille from France, we have no French lineage at all.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 15:34

What you learned from, you know, from having conversations with family or like, how do you arrive at even discovering all of this? That's a lot.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 15:44

It's really wild and also really common in that in the diaspora. Yeah, my mom found out in her early 20s, one of her siblings, my mom is one of nine. And so yeah, one of her older siblings, I think, found out I figured out from another distant relative. And their her and her siblings are having to navigate their identities throughout their lives after figuring finding out they were Jewish, you know, when they were a little bit older, and my grandpa went to his grave, and he's already passed, and he never openly spoke about our Jewish lineage. And when we did, I've done the DNA testing for health reasons, but it was also super helpful for our lineage stuff, and I'm like literally 25 or 24.9%, Eastern European ashkenazi jew so it's, it's an important part of my legacy. And who I am, and my grandfather was a really complicated person who had a long history of racism and bigotry. And I think self hatred, and fear as a, you know, closeted Jewish man, if you will, I don't know how else to kind of describe it.

And my maternal grandmother was a very proud like, third generation Irish American, through and through Theresa Claire O'Hair. And so I was raised with her just very clearly understanding what it means to be Irish, why it's important, very politically minded, very anti colonial anti war, given the Irish history, like my grandma was like, uniquely positioned as a white American close to her heritage in a very political way that I understand as I got older, that like many white folks that aren't Jewish, for example, like don't have strong ties to their ethnic or cultural heritage, or even political legacies. So I just happened to be born into a lineage of an Irish American woman who talked to knew all about being Irish American, it was just very proud of it. And it was definitely part of her political identity as like, a leftist and as an as an as an anti colonial thinker and woman. So that's my mom's side.

And then on my dad's side, were mestizos with my dad has more than half his lineage is indigenous to Michacan. And then we have some West African and North African blood, as well as some Spanish blood. And so there's a lot of ancestors roaming around in my realm. And I think I can feel and understand some of their struggles through I think health and being an empathetic person to other people. And being a person in solidarity with suffering and movements, and justice and I uniquely can relate to all the themes that are important to me and all the people that are important to me through my different lineages, even if my direct, you know, ancestors weren't super vocal about it, I decided to reclaim my lineage and build my own relationship to what whiteness can look like, in my embodiment, or just in through through the lineage that I come from whether I'm identified that as not as that or not.

So to me, ancestor work is so unique to each person as well. All that to say is that what ancestral work looks like for me, is reconciliation, reclamation, discovery, curiosity, and a kind of convening of very distinct cultures that live within me. And for anyone else, it can be a whole combination of those things or other things depending on what they're called to do in the world, and what they're drawn to. And I guess that's how I see it all coming back to the work that I do with personal statements or admissions or career building and purpose building is that I believe that your purpose, that yearning, that desire, that thing that won't leave you alone, that thing that you can't put down, that thing that always calls you even when you don't want to do it still calls you, that doesn't just come from within, it comes from outside of us as well. And it can be part of your lineage way back of somebody doing the work that you're doing or the healing that you're doing. And connecting deeper to our lineages gives us more context, more language, more ritual, more access to deeper into who we are and how we get to serve in the present time and even in the future. Oh, okay. I don't know if that makes sense. But that's how in my brain it goes.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 20:32

It does. And you said that it's so unique and individual to each person, the ancestor work and tapping into your lineage. So for folks who are, you know, relatively new to this, and they want to tap into their ancestral histories like you? I mean, you mentioned that they can your case, you've had conversations with family members, your mom discovered, you know, certain key information, but then also, you said you took, what was it like a DNA test for for health reasons. But what are some other ways for folks that not everybody is, is connected to their family in that way where they can have these conversations? What are other options for tapping into this ancestral work?

Camila Lacques-Zapien 21:21

Yeah, I love this question. Because my answer is always like, it starts within. And what I mean is that like, if we just even pause and like, look at our own hands, like the font and backup our own hands, or you like feel our own hair, or we look at our own image, like we're literally the living, breathing, walking remnants of hundreds and 1000s of other people. And so, ancestral connection isn't about leaving ourselves to find something. It's about getting deeper into who we literally flesh and bone, like literally molecularly already are. And part of that is getting curious about questions we have about ourselves, maybe suffering the face, or our strengths, like what are you just naturally good at every day of the week? That you're like, that's nothing for me? Or what do you always struggle with? And thinking about? Hmm, I wonder if other people in any of my lineages experienced this. And you will be surprised when you start thinking about that? Or asking your tios or asking the elders around you or asking anyone with knowledge of your direct lineage or your community lineage, right?

Ancestors aren't just people we're related to ancestors can be people that safeguard us, because we're connected to them through community, or through care, or through other political lenses, right? Like queer folks can have queer ancestors, they look to that maybe they weren't literally related to. So I think starting off with, what am I facing? What do I have? What am I grateful for? And what do I see when I think of and feel into my own body and my own bones? And I know that sounds very broad. But you'd be surprised if you sit down with somebody and ask that like, well, what actually comes out to begin with?

And then beyond this simple, basic kind of curiosity questions, thinking about what if you spoke to your ancestors and discovered them as if they were already hanging out with you. I always tell people, like your ancestors, were already having a party. And you were invited. And they're literally like setting up the tables, like the chips and salsa are out like the sodas getting poured, like people are dusting off the little corners. And it's just like the party's waiting for you to arrive. And it's a matter of picking up the metaphorical phone and saying, hello. I'm interested. I'm curious. And I tell folks that a simple thing is like when you're doing the dishes, start talking to them. When you're in the mirror, you're in the car, you want to talk about your day, like you can start anywhere.

The thing about ancestor work is that it doesn't have to be this profound, prolific abstract thing. Like I keep saying we can demystify it. And you can start with like, this is what so my day went or so and so's really bothering me. Or I'm really wanting this right now. Can I share this with you? It's like having a squad on the other side that's literally built to be your support system. And it's a squad that's been here on earth before. So that's another distinction between like how are the ancestors unique to like other spirits or if you believe in God or other spiritual traditions, etc, which are totally valid and you can do ancestor work and have any religious or spiritual tradition of any kind. Because ancestor work is about working with folks that were already here they have earthly experience. That's like getting to talk to a spirit that knows the foolery of earthly experiences. Being a human is a hot mess.

And we have this like squad and endless squad, that used to be here that can help us get what we want, get what we need, move through some things. And I just say it's a wasted resource, if we don't at least try to hang out and join the party and call on them. Because they're like hanging out waiting for us to call them and they have an abundance of resources. And so I would say, just indulge yourself, and I dare you to just start talking to them, and see what see what comes back to you. I always say like, listen with an open ear and don't judge what comes back. And listening might be like, you literally hear messages coming through, or it might be like, messages you receive in an earthly way. And you go, oh, shoot, was that. And if you have to think twice, if you're curious like that an ancestor message, if you have to ask, it was definitely an ancestor.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 26:24

Because I had a moment like that last week where I was like, did that just happen? I told a friend she was like, it's a message, I don't know from who but it's a message.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 26:33

When they try to work that hard to get to you, like without you even explicitly trying, that's how, you know, they're trying to like, connect, and I have this name for this, when we're going through, like, tension or struggle internally, especially about our purpose. This is another reason how this connects back to what I do is, in my work, being a coach of so many kinds, is that that that tension we have? Should I do the thing I really love? Should I try that thing? Should I write that book? should I should I you know, sing that song? Should I fill in the blank?

Everyone has their thing that should I's. I call that, the turmoil we experience around those things. I call it ancestral agitation. When I feel like it's parts of your lineage coming in, and like poking you, and just being like, hey, we really need can you really got to do this, just do the thing, like, please do the thing. And you're, you know, in our earthly bodies, and we're like, oh, I'm making up excuses, or, or getting in our heads or finding a way around, you know, our own gifts, our own desires. But I really feel like that tension or that turmoil, we feel around those things is really an ancestral gift, that agitation is trying to teach you something, it's trying to tell you something, it's trying to open you to something and I'm not saying it's cute. I'm not saying it's fun. Not at all. But I'm also saying, I don't think it's not useful, like I think it can be and so like, what if we start to when we choose to see situations or experiences as useful or ancestral agitation. And sometimes that looks like biting back, right, and changing systems and calling things out. Like it's not all cute at all. But maybe sometimes it has a bigger purpose than we're allowing it to be.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 28:26

Wow, I love that phrase, that I'm gonna have to keep using it every time I'm struggling with it. This just my ancestor agitation. Okay, so you mentioned that this ties back to purpose, you know, finding your purpose and also to legacy building to and you, you know, hinted earlier at, you know, how you view legacy building, but I'm wondering if you can share a little bit more about that, because in conversations that I hear where anybody talks about legacy, usually, it's associated with one of two things. It's like, legacy building, wealth building, or legacy building and like, what impact do you want to leave? Like, what's the thing that's going to stay in this world beyond the time that you can, you know, live and breathe here.

But the way that you are talking about legacy building is beyond that. It's like what comes before, what comes after? It's not necessarily the tangible stuff. So I wonder if you could say a little bit more about that. And also, you know, just like you said, you can tap into your ancestral work, ancestral ties, but also like, how do you tie into doing this, how do you figure out how to do legacy work. How do you then, you know, find your calling, find your purpose. So many people struggle with that. It's not easy work and it requires so much self awareness that a lot of people don't even want to bother. But I'm curious to kind of your take on, if you can say a little bit more on both things, the legacy building and the purpose aspect of it.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 30:11

Yeah, for sure. I just realized I forgot to mention a really key part of this whole, I guess, unfolding in my identity is that specifically, this explicit need and connection with ancestors directly comes from my father, who probably growing up our most sacred tradition in our family is Day of the Dead. And so this annual celebration and calling in and honoring and slow down and quiet, and out that building and candle lighting and our friends are making, you know, time of the year is what is a portal I stepped into, from the time I was born. Despite not being raised in the household, my dad, that tradition easily was the biggest and most important, and the one that happened to be raising, because my dad does cultural work in the community and is very connected, identifies a lot with his indigenous heritage, and the traditions, the legacy that is Day of the Dead through 1000s of years of ancestral connection.

And so I say all that to say like, that's the lens with which I was kind of born into ancestor work, and that kind of has expanded to be, and always has been a lifestyle, you know, ancestor work and love is not just once a year for me and my lineage and in my family, it's, it's a daily conversation. It's, it's a lifestyle, like any, I guess, spiritual tradition, if you will. So I just wanted to mention that because it's a huge, huge piece of kind of how I came to be so confident or just embodied in this work.

And yeah, I think legacy building when people talk about legacy building, and they only mention wealth, it makes me, material wealth, it makes me really, really sad. And not because money is not important, or it's we don't deserve it or any of that stuff. I just the idea that we're talking about legacy building around material wealth, before we're talking about legacy, building around ancestral knowledge, the most abundant portal of wealth, if you will, that we have access to, in my opinion, is knowing who we come from, and who we are, and how we're rooted and grounded in the context with which we were born into this world. That's wealth to me, that's real abundance. Not that earthly money and those things are not extremely important. Of course, they are, I would never pretend to be one of those people that the spirit realm was all that matters, like, no, we're on Earth, we're here to do earthly things, and money is part of the situation 100% Fine.

And if we're centering material wealth, over our ancestral well being, and as you know, carriers have history and understanding of where we come from, and who we've come from, and what spiritual traditions we've come from, like that is real wealth. That's the start. That's the well that we can start to spring into other types of wealth from, in my opinion. So to me, legacy building is about embodiment. It's about living and breathing in a way that's connected to the past, the present and the future. And so, to me, it doesn't look like definitely doesn't look like money, necessarily, and it definitely doesn't look like anything that someone can measure. It's how we feel about ourselves. Like on your hardest day, do you know that you are loved? On your best day, do you know that someone planted a seed for all the good things that came down for you to be good at whatever you're good at, and for you to win it, whatever you're winning at.

So it's not about giving all credit to our ancestors all the time. We exist too. We're living breathing remnants of them. But you know, the seeds of all of our goodness was planted somewhere and even some of our shadows too. And so to me, legacy building is like, how would you speak differently in your daily life? If you knew your voice came from 1000s of people? It's an embodiment question. It's not about what you're doing. It's like how you're doing it. How do you treat people and how are you treating yourself? Good. I think about self compassion practices, I think about ancestor practices. Because how we treat ourselves is also how we're treating our people presently, in the future. And also in the past. This idea of I guess kind of really Western idea that like, time is real in the sense that like, this is the present and needs this now in the future somewhere else in the past that someone else, honey No, like.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 35:13

We know it's a social construction.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 35:16

It's a social construction. I'm not saying like go be late to all your meetings and be irresponsible. But what I am saying is that, like, if you've ever had a meditation and you like opened the door to meet your ancestors, or you visited other planes, like, you're like, yeah, I'm not really sold on this like, rigid idea of like, past, present, and future. And if you just go look in the mirror, and you like, see your abuelos in there, and you're like, yep, that's we're still here. Like, I'm still them, and they're still me. And I will, they will continue to be.

And so yeah, to me, legacy building is about how we move and how we understand time and space, and how we treat ourselves. And if you make a bunch of money along the way, that's great. I just, I It's actually comical to me, when people talk about legacy building solely around money. It's like, I can't I'm trying to think of an example that like an analogy, and I can't even think of one. Yeah, it's just kind of funny to me. And in terms of purpose. Um, I think that, yeah, I don't think, you know, a purpose isn't a job. A purpose isn't a role or a degree, you know, bless all of us that have a bunch of degrees or whatever, like, shout out to us, I have one degree but you know.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 36:36

Remember, folks listening are you know, undergrads and grad students, they're pursuing their degrees. Yeah. Give them a reality check. Be like, you are more than this.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 36:49

You know, good for you. I literally work with applicants all day. I'm obsessed with my work. I love y'all to death. I love me, I went to UCLA, like, I was so proud of myself, I don't, that was a beautiful privilege of an experience. And like, I feel that your purpose is, you know, around what your medicine is and how you make people feel. And where you feel the most whole, and where you feel your heart is most present. Like your purpose is how you breathe, the way you look at people. How you make people feel, the way you talk to yourself, the way you tell stories, the way that you make an impact or the way that you focus, the way that what you give attention to grows like, that is your purpose. You are your purpose. And 99.9% of the people that I talk to when I really sit down, and we really get in there, and we just have the conversation of like, so what makes your heart expands, most people know. And many times it's not connected to a job.

But it's often connected to the themes and those themes, we can find them in the earthly world and connect to them that way. And so it's both and right. It's not just your purpose has nothing to do with earthly thing. No, of course it does. But you can take it wherever you go. So our identities and our purpose can never be solely rooted in an institution or role or a title like, honey, you are your purpose, like your soul is so much bigger than like an email, c'mon. And so I know that's a pretty like wide reaching, I guess, more spiritual lens. But I really invite myself throughout my life and other people to explore what it feels like to think of our purpose more in that way.

Because there's a freedom in believing beyond what we're taught is purpose, and building a life based on those feelings or those needs or what just gets you really excited. And I'm grateful to those that have shared with me on their journey about their purpose. And I'm grateful to my ancestors for agitating the crap out of my life to make me build a business. I never would have dreamed of being an entrepreneur. Like, I'm not like this is so far outside of my like, like, oh my gosh, when I tell you this is hilarious to me still, like it's hilarious. I'm like, I'm an entrepreneur, like, what's up, um, but chronic illness, ancestral agitation, serendipitously getting laid off with a pandemic, like so many things aligned for me to have to be here and step into my purpose of being a mystical hype woman and being obsessed with my people and reminding everyone around me as much as I possibly can. How beautiful dope talented, worthy and, like just embodied they are. And that, for me is an ancestral purpose that I have.

Like I was born, hyping people up and looking around and being like, in case no one told you today, like you're amazing, and meaning it, and knowing why certain people were the way they were and enjoying how people shine and enjoying the way that people are uniquely beautiful, like inside and out, like, genuinely, that's how I was as a kid. That's how I am now. And so I never knew I could make a life out of that feeling and that skill and love of doing that. And yet, here I am. Trying at least. Yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 40:44

I love that. I have a feeling actually that, well, we all need a mystical hype woman in our lives. I think there's gonna be a variation of two kinds of reactions to everything that you've shared with us thus far. There's going to be the folks that are like, Hmm, this is too like, what's the, like woowoo or, and they might just take it with a grain of salt. And then there's gonna be folks who are like, oh, my goodness, yes, I resonate, I feel it. But they like they want more, they they want to hear more from from you. And they want to hear maybe just some insights or advice. Because they're like, I'm ready, I want to be more aware, I want to tap into my ancestry, I want to tap into my, you know, what my legacy was, is, will be? So what do you have to say to those folks, not the former and not the ones who are like, I don't know, but the folks who are like, no, like, I'm ready, like this, this resonates so much. I just need a little bit of like, support or push or the hypeness?

Camila Lacques-Zapien 41:55

Well, I will say to the, to the to the farmers, actually, you know, to the first group, I would say that like no matter who you are, literally of any religious, cultural, but it doesn't matter like you, you come from mystical people, because every people are mystical. So congrats. And to the folks that are more interested or curious about, I would say like, it sounds so simple, and it's almost annoying, but it's the most powerful thing that I when I talk about this work, that makes sense. And it works in any tradition or any kind of metaphysical space. And that's intention. You know, they say like, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. There's that saying, I don't know where it comes from. But it's like, if you wake up one day, after listening to this podcast, a week later, a month later, your day later, an hour later. And you're like, I'm, I'm actually, I kind of want to go down this road and just see what's up. Just write it down, say it out loud, or think it think in your head at the intention, I would like I would like to, I'm curious, I would like to discover more.

And the intention itself is a signal that goes off inside of you, because remember, you already are your ancestors, and they're already with you, and you already are them and they already are you. So if you just send the signal. It's almost like a technology, like I can't explain it, you just everyone is different. But I've seen it 1000 times. And it's just like, as soon as somebody starts ringing the alarm or picks up the phone or opens the door to the party. Um, they'll see what party awaits them. And that intention before you go to sleep, when you wake up in the morning, when you're washing the dishes, literally just saying out loud, like I want to get to know my ancestors better. I'm curious about exploring this brown. You know, I listened to that podcast, and it kind of piqued my interest. And I'm a little scared. But I'm here and I'm curious. And there's, you know, something to be scared of.

They've already been there the whole time. There's no, there's no need to fear you're your own squad. Your squad is only made up of people who love and care about you unconditionally. and believe in your safety and care if there's people in your lineage or parts of your lineages, that you are really uninterested in connecting with you have every right to put a boundary and just say I don't mean them. I mean, these folks are only only an ancestor by definition is not just anybody just to be clear on many traditions, and ancestors, not just anyone who passes on. No, no, no, no no. And ancestors already considered an elevated place to reach the level of ancestor is reverence is kindness is respect. And hopefully they you know, healed from whatever happened in the earth plane, you know, no one's perfect, but those folks in your lineages are down the path that you are thinking about that you have zero you know, welcome for in your life. Say that out loud, and that's all you got to do. That's it. They're not welcome. and there's no there's no requirement to connect to things that we're not comfortable with.

Ancestor work is 100% about consent. And you can decide what feels comfortable to you, who you want to connect with what you're open to. And again, that's all about intention setting, and making your intention clear and simple. And, and that that's enough to get started and to feel good about it. I hope that's like, clear enough.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 45:25

Yeah. Yeah. So we're actually getting close to wrapping up. And I'm wondering if there's anything else that you wanted to share today related to these topics? Or just anything else that you want it to share? About you and what you do? And if not, then I'm happy to have you share more about, you know, your work about how folks can reach you how folks can find you how folks can connect with you.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 45:51

Yeah. Oh, thanks so much, I so I appreciate being here and trying to connect the dots that in my mind are all one dot. And explain it outside of my heads toeveryone, which is so funny, because like, my job is helping people to, like, get clear internally and then articulate themselves. So, you know, we all need writing coaches. But um, yeah, I would just say that, you know, I've done a couple of presentations on ancestor work and can elaborate, you know, and other settings about like specific practices, but things like ancestral music and books and images, foods, climates, or going to the land of our ancestors, right? There's so many like 1000, simple ways, the connection again, it just doesn't have to be this grand thing that is some massive trip we have to take or something to get there. I

t's just about deepening in being intentional. And using the simple tools, we have to connect to ourselves and to our lineages to get support, to laugh deeper, to be celebrated louder. So have have folks to fall back on when we're suffering inevitably, because we're human. That's really the simple steps and yeah, folks can. So yeah, I do admissions and writing coaching similar to you. So I'm still taking folks this season, if they're looking for another resource for that. And I do that all year round to depending on the cycle of the of the student, or the applicant. And I do like just general holistic coaching around folks in their career. And that's one on one or your purpose for everyone it looks really different. And it's very open ended for a reason.

But I mostly work with BIPOC and first-gen visionaries, and professionals and creatives as well. And then the ancestor work I'm just starting to do more publicly now. It's been something I've been privately living for, you know, my whole life. But I have an Instagram @yourancestorsarecalling. And my other Instagram is @ala__camila, and my website's alacamila.com. And, yeah, I'm starting to work with folks one on one in the ancestor realm. And it's been really profound opening that portal and just supporting people to connect to their lineages to do some research to dig around to set their intentions to, to build out that is that feel good to them, and, and to, and to kind of build that that ground beneath them to take whatever journey their legacy and ancestral agitation are calling them to do? So if you're in a moment of ancestral agitation, you're not alone, my friends. It happens to all of us. And yeah, I can be reached at all those places or on LinkedIn as well, I'm sure, hopefully, those links will be somewhere around here.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 48:44

Definitely in the show notes.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 48:46

Yeah. And I just want to thank you so much for having me on amiga and, and for really opening up a portal to talk about this and in this type of space, because to me, what you do is super ancestral even for you and maybe doesn't connect that way like anything community based and talking about our stories and our bodies and our needs and our disabilities and and our communities and our studies like why what what we're drawn to study and talk about and write about for hours and hours and years and years is totally ancestral. We're giving our lives and our blood and our time and our breath to these topics and subjects. It's super, super ancestral.

And so I just want to thank you for opening this space to kind of go there. I've just opened a tiny little realm here, but just just it's time to start to have this conversation because I think, you know, just in our more professional and academic and institutional spaces, understandably, there's this kind of separation between, you know, I guess, you know, the spiritual identities, but at a certain point, there's, it's not that we all have to believe the same thing but to act like we're all not walking, breathing parts of, of legacies and ancestors. It's actually like, hard to not say it sometimes. And I think that pretending that they're separate is like harder to do. Like maintaining that separation is more work than just honestly admitting that maybe there's connections here. Maybe this this comes together. I don't know if that makes sense.

But to me, it feels almost like, yeah, it's laborious to try to pretend like what I do isn't ancestral, for me at least. And so thank you for providing the space to kind of name that for myself, at least, and maybe open a couple of windows in people's minds about maybe what it looks like for them or for you. I can't wait to check in and hear more about your ancestor journey, if that's something you're interested in. But yeah, shout out to your ancestors for all the work you do. It's really beautiful. And we need it. And I appreciate you.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 50:48

Thank you. Thank you, that means so much to hear, I do think it's really important to cover provide exposure on these topics, because like you said, in institutions of higher ed, academic spaces, in general, there's a separation between spirituality, and everything else that we covered today, versus like, other things that are more tangible. In some way, shape or form, but it it makes no sense to me to not think that there is something beyond us that that just is, yes, nonsensical. If you're looking for something that makes sense, this also makes sense.

Because I was that person was trained like that is like, to have data, you got to back it up, you got to crunch the numbers, you got to like, have, like, be able to prove that something is true. And it's been really, really funny how life has just kind of like, hit me, like, just on the forehead, like just to be like, bam, there's more, there's more than this.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 51:57

Ancestral agitation comes in all kinds of forms. I just want to say one more thing, because I think your audience would appreciate this, like, this idea that we're like, separate from our people is like the most like white supremacist thing to ever think of. And it's also super patriarchal, and all the things. And so, like, we've been lied to, and we all know it. And this is one of the ways that's like, so painfully obvious to me, that, you know, stay stay far from your identity, stay far from your indigeneity, stay far from your people stay far from your history, those are all, always that ancestral kind of connection is being violated through white supremacy, and colonialism, and all these things. And so most, if not all, people come from ancestral traditions.

And I always say this, that like white folks suffer extraordinarily under this system. Because imagine walking around thinking that you don't have a culture. And your only identity is based on being dominant over other people, that there's a loss there. And I'm not equating this to what people of color go through in any way, shape, or form, but to not name the loss that white supremacy and whiteness causes for white folks who has zero connection to their people, or where they come from, or the lands they actually were, like, historically come from, that is a loss that showed out in violence, it shows out in jealousy, it shows out in hatred and bigotry, there's so much tension there. And it's this system's doing and we need to hold it accountable and all those things. But there's a lot of conversation to be had here around what white supremacy does to folks of color and native people and all these different groups, people and also like, what does that look like and healing for white people? Because there's a lot of work to do ancestrally? Like, how are we gonna go anywhere if White people don't like talk and claim about their stuff? Like come on? This is all ancestral work, legacy work. Like it's all related. And so yeah, just wanted to add that, because it needs to be said.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 53:59

Yes, thank you. Thank you for tying it back in because it is, it is all related. I want to thank you once again, Camila for coming here and sharing all of your knowledge and wisdom. I loved hearing more about your background, I've heard it more than once, but every single time I feel like I learn more and more. And, you know, there's there's some overlap there that I'm sure I know, we're gonna be chatting, you know, behind the scenes as well. I just want to say I really appreciate you. I I really feel like you're coming from this place of like, so much compassion and kindness and that good intention. And I hope that folks that resonated with you will actually reach out. So thank you, Camila.

Camila Lacques-Zapien 54:45

Yes, please do. Thank you. Thank you.

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