We had the good fortune of connecting with Jen Bunker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jen, what are you inspired by?
There is a Buddhist teaching called Maitrī, pronounced My Tree. It can be translated as loving kindness, unconditional friendliness, benevolence, and good will. It is one of the four immeasurables that the Buddha taught as a heart practice that can cultivate an awakened heart/mind. It had such a profound affect on me that in 2004 I started a women’s group at our home in Long Beach. We read, listen to dharma talks, and sit. Our group still meets every Wednesday, although now on Zoom. Being a part of a community that is dedicated to learning about themselves with honesty and courage is inspiring.
My two daughters, Hannah and Raven are two of the most inspirational people that I know. To watch them set goals, whether in school or in their careers has brought me tremendous joy. Hannah has a massage therapy business and is an amazing mom to Frankie Luna, my other inspiration. Raven is the Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator for ASI, CSUDH. They are both such wise and kind people. Being able to see them continue to grow, trusting their innate wisdom to guide them has been a powerful experience for me. I am honored to be their mom.
Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, has also been a big inspiration for me. He teaches us about compassion and kinship in a way that is rooted in action. I appreciate everything that he has done for our communities. Seeing the goodness in people can often facilitate the ability for them to see the goodness in themselves. Much respect for Father Greg.
My dad, Ricardo Luna Mount, he taught me a little bit about everything. From fixing cars to philosophy. Also, he was the only lineman at the Department of Water and Power wild enough to do a handstand on a sixty five foot power pole. He is one in a million in every way!
My husband, Cale Bunker, all around beautiful being. Patient, talented, kind, compassionate, and the best papa in the world to Frankie!
My mom, for showing unconditional love to us all.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
During the time that I was volunteering as a birth doula, I had the opportunity to host a baby shower. I wanted decorations that were heart felt and simple. I had my daughter paint prayers onto baby onesies and strung them along with twine. They read, May All Babies Be Peaceful-May All Babies Be Happy-May All Babies Safe-May All Babies Be At Ease. These prayers or aspirations are all derived from ancient Buddhist teachings, so I am in no way the creator of them! But what was being born from these sweet little onesies is now our collection of t-shirts, magnets, decals, buttons, canvas totes, etc. I started coming up with all of these ideas for sharing messages that inspire and cultivate feelings of well-being. Reminders of our innate goodness and also seeing that goodness in those around us. I am proud to have Homeboy Silkscreen in LA print all of our clothing, I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to work and thrive after being incarcerated. I also wanted to be able to give back to our community, so we make monthly offerings to several non-profits. International Campaign for Tibet and A New Way of Life, a women’s re-entry program founded by Susan Burton, another inspirational person!
Some of the challenges that I have faced have been promoting My Tree. I am learning to get out of my own way there, but it’s a learning process for me. My daughter is a marketing coordinator and my husband has an advertising agency, so it’s definitely not a lack of resources!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to White Point Nature Preserve in San Pedro. We would hike around, smelling the sage, looking at the sun glistening off of the Pacific. Then head across the street to explore the tide pools. Afterwards, we would grab sushi and Pellegrino’s, with a twist of lime. Then, if we are lucky, we would head to see Mike Watt play in Hellride! We would have a blast and then maybe stop at a 7-11 and share a Snicker’s bar, oh wait, this is what my husband and I do regularly!
I like to be wherever there is good music, beautiful sunsets, nature walks, art museums, good conversation, simple pleasures.
I am not interested in overcrowded places or fancy restaurants.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
To all of the families that allowed me to be their birth doula. Being present at such an intimate and precious moment in time will always be etched in my heart. Seeing a family born in an instant-watching that love, strength, and courage forever changed me.
To those that continue share their experience, strength, and hope to all that suffer from addiction. I will always be grateful and may I continue to walk in the footsteps of those that came before me.
To Pema Chödrön, for writing books that speak to hearts of so many of us.