Reach Out.

A few days after the Oscar awards,  I went to see the Oscar-nominated documentary short films. I really went to see, Fantastic Woman, but it was sold out and the next thing and last thing about to show were the five nominated shorts. Thankfully I didn't see how long the entire five would take - that would have deterred me! So, I got a ticket and sat down. And film by film I was blown away. Each touching deep into my heart and soul - the way films do. The way documentary films do. They are real people - no actors - so the emotions are raw and not fabricated to move an audience. All were amazing and I wrote below in order of appearance of how I saw the films (and they are linked so you can watch for free as well):
Traffic StopHeaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405Edith+EddieHeroin(e), & Knife Skills.  

The one film that made me cry and dry my eyes out was Heroin(e). Of course because the opioid crisis is real and feels like it is caving in on us every half year by half year but it also reminded me of my experiences of when I worked with sex workers in DC. I worked with this non-profit called, H.I.P.S. {Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive}. We would go out Thursday through Saturday nights from roughly 10:30pm-5am in a van. The goal was to have sex workers - of all kinds - see our bright van, see our steady commitment to them, learn to trust us, share with us the things that was going on and have a place to turn to when they needed support and if they wanted help out of their current situation.

Each night, in the summer months we would hand out candy and literature and in the winter months - hot chocolate and literature. We always had on hand some extra clothing, lots of condoms, and all sorts of information for how to leave their profession (drug support, school information, apartment information, job recruitment information, etc.). We were always stuffing something in their hands if they came to the window - you can see many of them hide it away immediately - I imagine for inspection at a later time/date and not wanting their pimps to see.

And we had a system. We would/could only go out if we had a minimum of 4 people and ideally 5 or 6 folks. We never rolled down the driver-side window - that person had to be focused to get us out of any danger, if need be. The passenger side window was down where the most senior person would sit who was more of the face the workers recognized. The person behind the driver would have a clip-board taking notes, writing any names of people mentioned in the conversations and just paying attention to the interaction (they also had access to our only flip cellphone in the car!) The fourth person would be orchestrating what things needed to be handed out: literature, drink, clothing, and candy. This was also the beginning of the LGBTLU of the DC Metro Police so we would work with them and share information that helped protect the workers from their very abusive pimps. 

The practice of the non-profit was the harm reduction technique whereby they wanted to make people feel comfortable or non-judged about why they were doing what they were doing. Usually for drugs. We wanted to be a bridge to the possibility of a new life. We always drove down a certain street in a specific order that was all over DC. Imagine this was in 2002-03 when I did this so the city was very different then to now. I saw a lot of things someone would never believe would happen in DC or maybe you can and just don't want to know.

We would often learn of an overdose, a beating, or a killing - it was hard to hear that someone who was there last week was now gone and there was nothing in the papers about it. Of course their pimps didn't like us. We would hear that a specific sex worker had to stop coming to the van because it threatened the pimp. I saw pregnant sex workers, male sex workers, African-American, white and transgendered sex workers. And I fell in love with many of them. Most were just trying to feed their children and make ends meet and many were addicted to drugs. 

We would try to connect to them in the moment by cracking a joke, making them smile a little and to let them know that we saw them. We were a witness to them as people. They could see that others wanted them to survive. 

Most of us were volunteers and I did it once a week on a Saturday night for a year. It became one of the most important things I did for a long time. It kept things real for me. It helped me to stay grounded. To be a witness to people in a new way. So yeah, I cried when I watched Heroin(e). I reminded me to stay connected to the things that matter the most. The reach for drugs is compounded by many things but I attribute the biggest thing is to the lack of connection in the greater scheme of life. So give your time to your family, friends, and to people you don't know.

Make. The. Time. 

And see the movie if you want some inspiration for the people who do the good work all of the time! You will be inspired!

Pivoting here a bit, I am making time for you right now. I have many new workshop and RETREAT (local and international!!) offerings about to be shared and other things in the works! I do have a brief SurveyMonkey for you to fill out to see how I can support and make the offerings more unique to those who already practice with me in some way. Be as detailed as you can and share anything of note that will strengthen our relationship! 

 Last thing, my dear friend Leora has a very healing retreat coming up in April. If you are looking for something local and grounding with someone special, you might want to check out Leora's women's retreat here. 

My next yoga and acupuncture workshop has a few spots left so catch them while they are open. We do have the dates May 20th and June 3rd held - we will open the registration next week for those!

Come!

YOGA + ACUPUNCTURE WORKSHOPS

Sunday April 8th 2-4 PM   
The Yoga Shala  $45

Namaste.

-Jess

Jessica Sandhu