A Day with GEMS Opened my Heart
A few weeks ago a few members of my team, some friends and I gathered to give a workshop to GEMS, little did we know just how much we would be touched by these inspiring gals. My social media expert, Joy Lynn Alegarbes reports on her experience below.
Music and laughter rang through the Parish House at St. Michael’s Church in New York City. It was a snowy Saturday afternoon a few weekends ago, and I was dancing my heart out with a group of women and girls – most of whom I had just met that morning, as Lara led us through an exhilarating workout which combined dance, energy work and affirmations. Before the opening song had ended, everyone was already smiling and laughing, dancing with near abandon and joyously repeating phrases like, “I am powerful! I am beautiful! I came to win!” When lunch arrived, several of the girls could not bring themselves to stop dancing; they simply stayed put, turned the music back on and cranked it up. It was amazing to see these girls so self expressed, and even more incredible to take part in… I ended up hanging out with them and danced well into lunchtime myself.
GEMS (Girls Education and Mentoring Services) is the only organization in New York State designed to serve girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. GEMS empowers them to exit the commercial sex industry and grow to their full potential. These girls are more than survivors, they are more than their stories – and events like this one help to support their extraordinary mission.
When I finally sat down to eat, I had the opportunity to talk to some of the girls about their experience that day. Someone mentioned how strange it felt to simply give and receive a hug, and how she has realized that this is something that she would eventually like to do with more ease. Someone sitting across the table from me talked endlessly about how much she loves getting together with her GEMS girls, and how the music and dancing inspired her to strive toward her recent resolution to get healthy from the inside out. Someone else expressed her love for laughter, and how the affirmations made her feel lighter – both in her head and in her heart.
Leora Edut, creator GOG, began our workshop after lunch with a traditional healing circle, and set the tone with an exercise which reminded us all of our value, compassion and sisterhood. Anita Kopacz, Editor-in-Chief of Heart&Soul Magazine warmly encouraged self-love and self-care by leading a beautiful exercise to help us understand that the qualities we most admire in others are simply a reflection of our own. Then Lara brought the day to lovely close by sharing simple and invaluable stress relief, energy exercises to the GEMS girls and staff. The girls began putting the exercises to work immediately, with side conversations erupting about how calm they suddenly felt as their stress shifted to something much lighter. They joked about how they might just be caught sitting on the subway in the cross body stress relief posture they just learned or rubbing their temples to calm themselves down; an air of relief and peace was palpable, as the girls discussed how they would add these energetic tools to their day.
I began integrating the techniques I learned from Lara into my own work in sexual and reproductive health several years ago, and seeing its resonance here only strengthened my resolve to continue learning more – so that I can continue to help myself and the people with whom I work.
I left the event that day with my heart open having been filled and inspired by these women and girls. I was touched to see how profoundly this work can help people. I made a promise to myself, as I walked out of the building to remember this feeling the next time I was upset and to remember that anyone who has a desire to achieve their dreams and to live life to their fullest potential can overcome their circumstances; anyone who believes that the commitment and love we show ourselves today will only help to improve our tomorrows!
To learn more about GEMS and the incredible work that they do, please visit www.gems-girls.org.
Joy Lynn Alegarbes
Thank you JoyLynn, I am inspired every time I think about these gals. If they can do it at their young ages, we can too!
“When lessons in our life come along, the reason they come along is because of the need we have to outgrow ourselves. Who and what you are, your immortal self, your true nature lives in this ‘presence’ moment. When we avoid a painful moment in our lives, we are actually avoiding a celestial set of circumstances that are intended to help us perfect ourselves.”
Guy Finley, author The Immortal Self, click here to watch his very inspiring video! I am LOVING his new book!
With much love and inspiration,