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SESKA LEE Posts

November Q & A

My monthly Q &A thread will go live on Monday November 21st. Patreon supporters contributing $5 and more per month have access to this post. It’s a place to ask your questions. I set aside time that day to respond to questions and I will do my best to answer until the end of the month if the questions keep coming in.

Visit my Patreon page to sign up as a Supporter and participate !! I eagerly await your questions !!
Seska

 

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Goals With Soul 2017

The Desire Map is a workbook, a guide, a process.

It’s a tool to help you get crystal clear on how you want to feel and take action to nourish and embody your Core Desired Feelings in all that you do.

For the past few years on around New Year Day I revisit my Core Desired Feelings. I take out my old Desire Map workbooks and personal journals and look back. I reflect on the actions I took and the feelings I felt. Then I look ahead at how I want to feel and the goals (with soul) that I want to attain in the coming year. For me it’s part of my evolving journey of getting in touch with what I desire and making it happen on my terms. Even more so it’s my foundation. The process supports my goal of living with intention, vitality, reslience and equanimity.

There are many ways you can tap into The Desire Map. Some facilitators provide online coaching. Others in-person workshops. Some people explore the material on their own in one long night or over the course of a few weeks. It’s quite a flexible programme.

With that in mind, Danielle LaPorte (the creator of The Desire Map) is offering a condensed audio + workbook course, designed for crossing the threshold of a New Year. This is a rich and useful process. Danielle will walk you through a customized New Year Desire Map process with prompts to glean the lessons from the past and set Goals + Intentions that nourish you through 2017.

BONUS: If you purchase the Goals With Soul 2017 programme via my Affiliate Link I will offer you a 30-minute check-in call about your work with The Desire Map at the end of January.

Want to get super clear on how you want to feel for 2017? I bet ya’ – you do. Wonderful you.

All my best,

Seska

PS Want to get the programme for yourself and gift one to a friend (30% off)? Click Here

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Intention

Let me start with a little reflection on decluttering…

I started my decluttering in 2011. I think I was ahead of the trend. By a smidge anyway. I had a tonne of boxes to go through because of my separation and move to my solo life apartment. I was depressed and anxious. I wanted to feel better about myself, my stuff and my space. I happened upon the book Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst and used it to clear up my space both physically and emotionally. It might not be the book for everyone, but I learned a lot from that book. It started me on my road to minimalism and simple living.

It also got me shaking maracas I got in Cuba during a solo heart healing vacation and burning sage to move energy around. I love doing both of these things.

There is something to be said about doing things with intention. Doing things with intention makes action more meaningful. It makes change more likely to stick. it sets a foundation and focus on how you want to feel and what actions you need to take to get you there. It helps you get things done, stay present and optimistic.

I think it’s a very powerful thing.

I have a tattoo of the letter I on the inside of my right wrist. It stands for INTENTION.

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Resilience

I have four tattoos. Three of which are small. I got them on the same day. They were a part of my healing after the end of my marriage. One of them is the letter R on the inside of my left wrist. It stands for Resilience.

Here are few of my favourite quotes about resilience.

She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails. – Elizabeth Edwards

If all you can do is crawl, start crawling. – Rumi

You drown not by falling in the river, but by staying submerged in it. – Paulo Coehlo

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When you’re down what do you do to feel better?

The way I feel better is by acknowledging that I feel bad and I don’t try to deny it, fight it or turn it into something different.

This technique has had such impact in my life. Likely my most powerful strategy for my mental and physical health.

I say physical because as I age I want to mitigate the physical consequences of stress. My body doesn’t bounce back like it used to if I feel muscles tightening in my back, shallow breathing or acid reflux. It’s never too late to address this part of our human experience!

Here is what I do:

When I feel down I take time to recognize that I’m feeling trapped by a difficult feeling or negative thought and then I acknowledge the feelings without trying to change them. Sometimes I whisper to myself “yes and this too” as a way of accepting the feelings instead of denying or fighting them. Then I investigate the feelings and where they live in my body. I often find they are more nuanced than I initially think them to be. I try to get precise with the language I use to describe the feeling. I do this examination gently and with loving kindness. I ask myself what do I need in this vulnerable moment? What am I missing? And then I answer it as best I can with nourishing statements. This process helps me centre myself and feel more at ease with myself and what is going on in the moment.

This technique is called the RAIN technique. I discovered it in the work of meditation teacher Tara Brach and it has done me a world of good.

Now this is mostly a mental exercise. I also believe in the power of changing your physical state in order to change your mental state. If I feel emotionally or intellectually stuck, I like to move around. At home that might be doing some jumping jacks, pushups or dancing like no one is watching (great because no is). Out in public it might be walking to another place in a room and looking out the window or going somewhere private to shake it all out. Sometimes I wiggle my toes in my shoes and then wiggle my hands in my lap.

 

And when all else fails there is this kitten video on YouTube. ;-)

PS For a bunch of reasons I wasn’t taught how to acknowledge my feelings and manage stress, conflict and challenges in a healthy way. When these things occurred I would deny any difficult/negative feelings and then they would resurface in weird and ugly ways. You can read a more in-depth exploration here.

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Full – Core Desired Feeling

Over the next few weeks I thought I’d write a little bit about my Core Desired Feelings (CDFs) and how they came about. I decided to start with FULL.

The dictionary today defines FULL this way.

FULL
fo͝ol/

adjective
1.
containing or holding as much or as many as possible; having no empty space.
“wastebaskets full of rubbish”
synonyms: filled, filled up, filled to capacity, filled to the brim, brimming, brimful More
2.
not lacking or omitting anything; complete.
“fill in your full name below”
synonyms: comprehensive, thorough, exhaustive, all-inclusive, all-encompassing, all-embracing, in depth

The cool thing about discovering your CDFs and using them to turn inner clarity into outer action is that they are personalized and don’t need to follow the rules of grammar. The dictionary’s definition is the starting point. I use FULL as one my CDFs mainly as an adjective but it also means a little more than that for me.

Background

FULL as one my CDFs first began as NOURISHED. As I did the exercises last New Year’s Day – pondered my past experiences and envisioned what I wanted for my life going forward – I discovered that yes I wanted to feel NOURISHED inside and out, but I also had the desire to feel SOLID, GROUNDED and ADEQUATE. Essentially I wanted to feel that I take up space, stand my ground and feel good enough as I am in this world. FULL for me I discovered means that I’m sustained. I have enough. I’m not living with a scarcity mindset. I feel abundant with love, health, and resources. I feel stable. I take up space.

Taking up space physically and verbally is a challenge for many women. Our culture doesn’t support it and instead discourages it, even punishes it. You can read an essay by Jamie Utt that summarizes this very well here.

How I Feel Full

Here are few things I do to feel this Core Desired Feeling:

I nourish myself with healthy plant based foods (yep, NOURISHED became an action I take to feel FULL).

I feed my mind through mindful contemplation and learning. Lately that’s been through library books and podcasts.

I ground myself with daily meditation. I’m at 10 minutes a day each morning and I occasionally throw in a 5 minute session during my lunch break. I’m using the free version of the Calm app.

I surround myself with people who make me feel good about myself and the world – friends, family, colleagues and clients. I don’t have the time or energy to be with people who are passive aggressive or have a big hate on for the world at large. Anger and cynicism are things I do tap into, but I can’t live there all the time.

PS

Danielle LaPorte recently wrote about the difference between numbness and emptiness. I think it ties in beautifully with my desire to feel FULL. So neat when coincidences like that happen.

 

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Do you live more in the past, present, or future?

I think at this point in my life I’m focused on the present in ways I wasn’t able to before. I meditate and have a mindfulness practice. This has helped clear away much mental clutter. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about the past and the present much of the time. I seriously do. ALL THE TIME!

I have a nostalgic and romantic streak so I like to think back about the pleasant experiences of childhood – like family picnics and adventures in nature with friends. I like to tap into the excitement and infatuations of adolescence and my early 20s – like discovering interesting pieces of world knowledge and figuring out my sense of self and values. I also look back with a sense of regret though when I catch myself doing this I change things up. I bring loving kindness to the younger version of myself. This is a very healing practice and I’m so glad I discovered it.

As for the future, I do worry. I’m 45 years old. I’m about half way through my life – if accidents or illness doesn’t strike. I want my future to be filled with connection and purpose. I fear poverty and poor quality of life. I want to live with a sense of stability and security. I want to be well.

I also like to dream about the future. To ponder about what it will look like. These dreams can easily turn into post-apocalyptic nightmares so I need to step back and remember that I can only control my own actions and the more I focus on my Core Desired Feelings and acting accordingly the more resilient I will be regardless of what the future holds.

And this brings me back to the present moment (by way of the past).  I’m reminded of my favourite yoga pose – Warrior 2.  A yoga teacher I had some 15 years ago would describe the position as having us being planted firmly in the present with one arm stretching back to the past and the other stretching towards the future. This pose has become one of the keys to my sanity.

The more I action I take – mental, emotional and physical – to ground myself in the present moment the more I feel content with each breath and step I take towards to the future and the past are but gentle reminders of personal evolution and growth.

 

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October Q & A

My monthly Q &A thread will go live on Monday October 17th. Patreon supporters contributing $5 and more per month have access to this post. It’s a place to ask your questions and I will do my best to answer them through out the day and until the end of the month.
Visit my Patreon page to sign up as a Supporter and participate !! I eagerly await your questions !!
Seska
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Dull Dry Damaged Hair

I’m a fan of YouTube make-up and hair tutorials – especially when it comes to retro looks. My first discovery was Iris J. She was especially active with her uploads from 2007-2010 and I referred to her work for my burlesque styling on the regular. What I liked about her videos besides being amazed by her beautiful long, thick locks was that she was well-spoken, poised and charming. The quality of the video is poor compared to today’s standards, but this was also before the current YouTube age of drama, clickbait and fast cuts. If the content is good and without negativity and gimmicks I’m a fan regardless of video quality.

As I watched her videos I discovered she had many tips for no heat styling. My hair was long and dyed dark brown at the time and I was doing my best to keep it healthy. My hair doesn’t hold styles very well so to give it volume I used hot rollers, teasing and lots of hairspray for all my retro looks. They were fast and effective, but also harsh and damaging. In 2013 I cut my hair short and used wigs for burlesque in part to start over with healthy hair and healthier habits (less heat, less products, less chemicals).

Fast forward to today and I have short natural hair that is VERY soft and healthy. I have only used a hair dryer twice in 18 months. I’ve never used a curling iron, hot rollers or a hair straightener. While I don’t have much hair to work with as I’ve had a pixie, now growing it out and have some length to play with. My hair looks and feel very healthy and I want to keep it that way.

So what’s a person to do when they want some volume, curl and hold without the damage? Go back to the basics of no heat styling.

Pros of No Heat

Using heat can cause hair to become dull, dry and damaged. No heat styling will help prevent frizz, split ends and breakage. You can have shiny, bouncy hair without using chemically loaded products that come nearly always in plastic bottles. It’s also easier on your budget because you won’t spend money on expensive tools (buying them in the first place or replacing them when they inevitably break or get nasty with product buildup). If you like no heat styling you can then sell your tools or donate them – minimize and simplify!  Plus, no heat styling is environmentally friendly – you will not need to use any electricity (that saves money too).

Cons of No Heat

Not using heat means you will be air drying your hair and this will take some time. It reminds me of the 1950s expression for not being able to go on a date – I’m busy drying my hair. This was not necessarily an excuse. It was a reality. But I think setting the time aside for some body care can be selfcare. Plus you can read or watch a movie as your hair dries. It’s not time wasted in my opinion.

No heat styling also requires time and some patience as you learn a new skill. For a curly or wavy look that means pin curls, foam rollers and rags. Thankfully, there are many tutorials out there.

Setting your hair at night and sleeping on it can save you time. I’m a light sleeper and I find I can sleep in foam rollers, but not pin curls.

If you have wavy or curly hair, absolutely straight hair can be a challenge without heat tools, but some people have found some success. I’m curious to try this once my hair is long. Expect an update in 2-3 years. ;-)

If You Do Use Heat

Minimizing the amount of times you use heat tools will help prevent damage.

Don’t wrap or rub your hair with a terry towel after wetting it. Some people advise using a microfibre towels, but I’m not a fan of them because they are made from petrochemicals and do not biodegrade. They also shed their fibres (as all clothes do) in washing and these tiny plastic particles end up in our waterways causing noticeable microplastic pollution on coastlines. A better option is a worn out cotton t-shirt.

Use only using a hair dryer on slightly damp (not soaking wet) hair.

Use a flatiron with a ceramic plate and follow the manual’s time limits. Typically for a maximum of 5 seconds on dry hair.

Get regular trims! Every 4-6 weeks! This is what kept my long hair less damaged. I still had length and kept the split ends at bay.

Don’t use banana clips ever. My stylist told me she can always tell who uses them from the breakage she sees in certain spots. Elastics can do much the same so I made my own with old black tights and pantyhose.

Super Popular Video

For more tips on healthy no heat hair I suggest you check this video from Sarah Nagel of Holistic Habits. She is a big fan of hair oils and massage which of course so am I!

BTW – I’m working a blog post with step by step photos of me styling my short hair without heat and using foam rollers. My first attempt created a fun 1980s new wave look I think will be great for a night out. Stay tuned!

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My Hair Care Routine

My hair care routine is always evolving based on my lifestyle activities and the refinement of my values. For nearly twenty years I had long dark hair that I dyed to cover up my grey. Now I have short salt and pepper hair. You can read all about that here. My different looks have required different products and tools. What has always remained the same is I have never washed my hair every day.

When I Had Long Hair

When I had long hair I would wash it every three days. I worked out at the gym almost every day so it got a bit greasy, but I kept it feeling fresh by using the now discontinued Aveda hair freshener from their Light Elements line. I quite adored that product.

I didn’t want to wash it and dry it daily or even every second day because I found it a tedious process. Also slightly dirty hair is great for up-dos and retro styles which was important for my burlesque performances and glamour photoshoot.

The styling and the teasing began in the 1980s. This is from my high school graduation in 1988.

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

This is a photo from the Montreal Burlesque Festival. My hair was professionally styled by Antoine. Most of it is my natural hair. He did stuff some hair to shape it. Slightly dirty hair makes these kinds of hairdos possible.

In terms of products I was a loyal client of Aveda for many years. When I had long hair I started off using Aveda Shampure Shampoo & Conditioner and then when I was colouring my hair every 6 weeks I used Aveda Color Conserve Shampoo & Conditioner, protected it during heat styling with Aveda Brilliant Damage Control Spray, and styled it with Aveda Smooth Infusion Style-Prep Smoother and Aveda Smooth Infusion Glossing Straightener. I used Aveda Control Force Hair Spray for my hot roller styling and up-dos.

Now With Short Hair

I wash my hair every 7 to 10 days.

Last year I worked at a restaurant which is a smelly, greasy environment. My scalp became irritated with cysts (yeah, I know – gross) so I washed my hair every three days with Aveda Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo. The cysts were gone after one week of use. I kept using it until I moved to Ottawa and started my new non-restaurant job. Now I am using Aveda Brilliant Shampoo & Conditioner and swapping it every second wash with Lush Daddy-o Purple Shampoo for Blonde or Grey Hair (which has blue malva to keep grey hair from going yellow). Once I’m done with these products I want to move to either a package-less shampoo bar or make my own.

As for styling I’m finishing up containers of Confixor and Control paste. Once I’m done I have some products from Arbonne to go through. When I’ve finished them I will asess my needs and see if I should buy a new less plastic based line or make my own.

Healthy Hair

In my experience the way to healthy hair is twofold:

  1. Avoid damage from heat and styling. Be mindful of the clips you use as they can break hair.
  2. Get regular trims. Even while growing out my hair (which I’ve done twice as an adult) regular trims will ensure that your length is as healthy as possible.

Other tips:

Give yourself a daily scalp massage. It’s a relaxing experience and is thought to be beneficial to your hair. And I say if it worked for Jon Bon Jovi I might as well try it. ;-)

Don’t use too much product. Not only will it build up (especially if it is something that cannot be absorb like silicone) and weigh down hair, it can lead to facial breakouts.

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I Joined Patreon

I’m super excited to announce that I‘ve created a Patreon account! Patreon is an easy to use TRANSPARENT way for fans of my work (old and new) to directly support my work as a blogger and life coach. It gives you the opportunity to fund my ongoing content creation with a monthly subscription amount of your choice (as low as $1/month) and help provide me a sustainable income.

A Bit About Me

I’ve been documenting and sharing online in one form or another since 1999. The focus of my work today is blogging about simple pleasures and mindful living. I share strategies on how to bring balance to your day-to-day life so you can align how you WANT to feel with how you ACTUALLY feel. It’s all about nourishing YOU and making your life Simpler, Pleasurable and Sparkly. ***

My Goals

I created a Patreon account to help support my current blogging and social media work, but my goal is to raise enough funds to buy video equipment and software to create AD FREE YouTube videos. I want to vlog (my life is pretty entertaining, I’ve been told), share lifestyle strategies (gotta stay grounded to stay healthy when you live a wacky life) and reach even more people.

How Does This Patreon Thing Work?

You create an account and choose a reward level. This a monthly recurring payment. In exchange to you get some exclusive stuff from me like Patreon only posts, access to a Q & A threads, my live Periscope feed and a monthly Google hangout.

And, of course that good feeling that comes from supporting independent creators (and retired porn stars – ha ha) like me.

Gratitude

I will be completely transparent with how I have spent any money received via Patreon. I created this profile in late September 2016 and starting on November 1st I will post a monthly update here and on my blog on how I used the financial support received.

I live a simple and frugal life and support of my work and the attainment of my goals is appreciated very much.

*** Sparkly for me is about brightness, vitality, radiance and passion.

 

patreon_black

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Fall Capsule Wardrobe

My Fall 2016 Capsule wardrobe is complete! Just in time for my start date of September 22nd. I wrote about my preparation in a previous blog post. Now I’m going to write about how I chose my main items as well as my extras. If you are building your own capsule or are just pairing things down, I hope you find my process helpful though the best resources for pairing down your clothing are Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris and Dress with Less and Create a Capsule Wardrobe.

My goal was to have 33 items for 3 months along Project 333 guidelines. What I did is…

I created a page in my Bullet Journal to jot down my ideas for my capsule. I started off with my categories (Main, Extras, Accessories, Footware and Outerware) and numbered them. I wanted to use what I already owned so I looked at my closet to see what was appropriate for September, October and November in Ottawa. I had already removed what didn’t fit or was worn out. Since I did a major purge before I moved into my studio apartment I didn’t have much to choose from (on purpose). Most of what I had was black. I knew I wanted to have an accent colour or two and since I had a wine coloured blouse and a grey sweater I went with those (turns out it is on trend for Autumn 2016 – lucky me). From there I pulled out a burgundy Jacob sleeveless dress I’ve had for a few years and bought a beautiful floral shirt dress from Flock that I’ve had my eye on for a few weeks plus a burgundy blouse with a bow on it (I’ve wanted a blouse with a bow for at least a year, but haven’t found any in thrift shops so I decided to buy one at Flock since they are a local shop with Canadian made designs).

fall-1609

Main

1) Black jeans 2) Blue jeans 3) Floral shirt dress 4) Burgundy sleeveless dress 5) Grey skirt 6) Black faux leather skirt 7) Grey sweater 8) Polka dot blouse 9) Wine coloured top 10) Burgundy blouse with bow

Extras

11) White 3/4 sleeve t-shirt  12) Black 3/4 sleeve t-shirt

Accessories

13) Black top handle 14) Bird satchel 15) Beret 16) Tuque 17) Gloves 18) Scarf 19) Fancy scarf 20) Skull & crossbones necklace 21) Potty mouth necklace *

Footwear

22) Zipper boots 23) Ballet flats 24) Black Jack Purcells 25) Joe Fresh high heels 26) winterboots (still need to buy these)

Outerwear

27) Jean jacket 28) Gap raincoat 29) Jacob 3/4 length coat 30) Winter coat **

* I will take pics of me wearing my necklaces. They are too fine to take well with my StyleBook app.
** The temperature will vary between -9 and +20 Celsius. It will likely snow in November – definitely in December. I will be swapping the jean jacket, raincoat and 3/4 length coat for winter coats once it gets below 5 degrees Celsius.

I still have room for three items. I’m saving them for an additional sweater once it gets colder, a special occasion dress (just not sure which one yet) and possibly my black suit. I’m waiting to see how cold things get at work and what is best for me to wear. Plus, I need to try it on and see if it still fits. Pants can be tricky for me given my waist to hip ratio.

StyleBook

 

I’ve been using the StyleBook app to mix and match my items to create different looks. I adore this thing. I’m still learning how to take shadowless photos of my items for easier backdrop removal, but even without perfect looking photos I’m find this tool so helpful.

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Fall 2016 Capsule Wardrobe – Prep

I’ve decided to start wearing my Fall 2016 Capsule Wardrobe on the first day of Autumn – September 21st. This means this week is about the preparation. I’ve usually followed the Ten Item Wardrobe from Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, but this season I’ve decided to combine it with Courtney Carver’s Project 333 so I can have ten main items (which I have really enjoyed these past two years) and set a limit for my extras (footwear, outerwear, t-shirts and accessories).

My Process

First step is to make an inventory, refine and purge.

I’ve done a few major declutters of my wardrobe since 2010 so I don’t have much to do as the seasons change. I know what I have. Instead of a lay it all on the bed and go through things one by one what I do is more of assessment of a few items. I take an inventory of my 20 or so items of clothing to see what still fits and what doesn’t. I examine each item to see if it’s still in good condition, needs repair or if it is too damaged to be repaired.

Here is what I’m donating this season.

blog-160914-collage

  1. High heels that have seen better days. All 4 pairs have scuffed toes. The two middle pairs I’ve had for 12 years or so. They’ve earned their keep. The blue pair on the left were for a burlesque costume for an act I no longer do. The black pair on the right I’m so sad to see go. They are from a vegan retailer I quite like – Novoca – and were such smart looking shoes for when I had professional meetings and the like. But I’ve had them for over ten years and the scuffs are just so obvious now. I think I walk in a funny way that causes toe scuffing. :(
  2. A lilac cashmere wool sweater from when I stopped being vegan a few years back. It has some stains. I’m actually going to keep it for at home wear in the winter. Electricity is very expensive in Ontario and I’ll need to watch the thermostat.
  3. My very tiny jersey from my 21k run in the early 2000s. It really doesn’t fit and I don’t need the t-shirt to remember I ran the race. Not a fall item, but after this summer I knew it was time for it to go.
  4. A bathrobe that I never ever use. It was a gift from my mother so I kept thinking I’d wear, but I’m not a robe person. Keeping things just in case typically means that the items just use up space and are never needed. I follow The Minimalists’ 20 20 Rule on this one. Also not a seasonal item, but since my move I haven’t worn it once so I know it needs to go.
  5. A lovely top from Jacob that is long in the front and short in the back. I called it my fancy black top. I’d put it on and immediately take it off because it didn’t feel right. I probably wore it all of 3 times. This is a summer item that I wore only once. Hopefully, someone else will enjoy it.
  6. A black nylon security vest to store personal items. I’m more concerned for fire and floods so I store things like my passport and birth certificate in a fireproof, waterproof safe. Not a seasonal item, but you get the drill.
  7. Another cashmere sweater from my non-vegan stint. This is a dark blue turtleneck. I feel itchy around the neck and claustrophobic when I wear it. It’s in excellent condition so I’m hoping to sell it at a consignment shop.

Second step is to select which items will be in your capsule wardrobe. I need to try on the different options together to see which work best. I don’t want to deal with something taking up space that I never wear because it doesn’t feel right (see item 5 above).

For sure the core ten items will include: 1) short sleeve white shirt, 2) black blouse with white polka dots, 3) wine coloured 3/4 sleeved blouse, 4) blue blazer, 5) black jeans, 6) blue jeans, 7) long black jersey dress.

I will also likely include another dress and one or two skirts. I need to try them on with the blouses to see what works. These decisions will depend on my shoes. I have some new boots and I need to see what they work with besides jeans. Mainly though because I do a lot of walking and I’m on my feet all day at work I need to choose my shoes wisely. I’m aiming for three pairs flats, heels and boots.

Next up will be the extras such as base layer t-shirts which I already have – one white and one black. I wore them this summer and they are in great condition (thank you line drying). I will also need top layers for colder days and nights. I have 4 nice sweaters to choose from. I will see which work well with my core items and how far along I am in hitting 33 items.

Then is outerwear. I have mid-thigh nylon coat, jean jacket and fancy satin trench. I’ve had these for 15, 12 and 8 years respectively and they are still in great condition. The nylon coat has had its buttons replaced, but they haven’t needed any mending besides that.

Finally there are my accessories. I wear my FitBit most everyday, all day so I won’t be counting that as part of 33. Same thing with my earrings. I have had an irritation so I’m wearing studs for the next 6 weeks as it heals. What I’m left with are scarves, necklaces and bracelets. I have a very small collection so it should be easy to choose.

Putting It All Together

I’ve downloaded the Stylebook Closet App and I’ll spend the next few days adding my items to it and let you know next week my final decisions.

Overwhelmed But Want a Simple Wardrobe?

I hope by sharing my process you have a gained some ideas about how you can go about creating your own capsule wardrobe.  Still unsure – don’t stress – Courtney shares great suggestions in her post Ten Tiny Tips to Take Towards Your Tiny Wardrobe as well as many other posts on her website. She even created a fantastic micro-course all about how to do it. Highly recommended!!

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My Favourite Vegan YouTube Channels

As many of you know I was a vegetarian for 1 year then vegan for 15 years (1995-2010), but with my midlife crisis I fell off the wagon for a few years and then got back on this spring. When I returned to my vegan waysI felt like lots had changed between when I stopped being vegan, the few years I ate eggs and dairy (2010-2013) and then when I also ate land and marine animals (2013-2016). To refresh myself I decided to look to some of my old favourite sources of information (Physicians Committee For Responsible MedicineVegetarian Resource Group and VegNews) AND the latest additions to the vegan info scene. This is where YouTube came in.

There are so many people chatting about vegan eating and vegan lifestyle choices on YouTube. Some are just broohaha clickbait drama (oh, dramatic and competitive YouTubers, you bore me), but there are others that are informative, positive, friendly AND entertaining.

Here are my top 3 favourite vegan YouTubers.

Lauren Toyota – websiteYouTube

Also Hot For Food (recipes she makes with her boyfriend John)

Lauren’s videos are so nicely shot and edited, but what really shines through is her authenticity. Her What I Eat In A Day videos are not at all like the uber pristine ones so common on YouTube. She keeps it real, as the kids say (OK, the kids of the 1990s). She’s also a little woo. Her ideas about life, the universe and how to make your dreams a reality – I dig it, as the kids say (OK, the kids in the 1960s). Anyway, I like her and think we would get along and be friends. This means she is a REALLY good at her job as a YouTuber.

Georgie and Darren – Vegan Fitness TV – YouTube

Their videos bring much value to my life. Their fat loss series is very informative and helped me devise a plan for myself. I keep watching because their daily videos are so positive and informative. They help me stay on plan. Motivation strategies are a must for me when it comes to eating well and exercising. I’m an introvert and I can easily just stay inside and hibernate – cocoon – tune out.

I’m a Patreon supporter of their work.

Hayley – Sea and Silva – YouTube

Hayley brings an interesting life experience to the topics of veganism, atheism, minimalism and living on less. Her transparency about her finances and lifestyle choices are both very inspiring. Same thing with her journey as a YouTuber. She just moved states and I’m interested to learn how the transition goes and what new adventures come her way.

I’m a Patreon supporter of her work.

 

BONUS: If you are nutrition geek like me you need to check out Dr. Michael Greger at Nutrition Facts. He reads EVERY published research study on nutrition every year and then makes these short, informative videos. All proceeds from his books, DVDs, and speaking go to charity.

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Protein Chia Seed Pudding

I adore Protein Chia Seed Pudding. I think one reason is because I’ve always enjoyed tapioca pudding. As a kid I liked the texture and the creaminess. When I have tapioca pudding today (usually the vegan coconut version at Chu Chai – a fantastic veg Thai restaurant in Montreal) it reminds me of the comforts of childhood.  Rich, creamy desserts are a powerful thing. Now I’ve discovered that Protein Chia Seed Pudding is my adult version of this. Bonus – it’s much healthier than the original dessert version.

I found this recipe from Georgie of Vegan Fitness TV (my favourite fitness YouTube channel). She and her partner Darren offer a free e-cookbook at their site. It features a similar recipe (plus many more) and a 7 day 3 meals a day eating plan.

Here are step by step photos of me making a simple version of Protein Chia Seed Pudding.

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Combine 1/4 cup of chia seeds with 1 cup of unsweetened soymilk. I used a fork to mix it up to avoid lumps.

Let the chia seeds plump up for 30 minutes or more depending on how thick you want it that day.

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Stir in 2 scoops of protein powder. I used Arbonne Vanilla Protein Powder.

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Top with 1 cup of frozen berries.

You can use fresh ones but this summer has been a lean year for berries in my area so I’ve been using frozen.

The frozen version adds a cooling and crunchy touch to the pudding that I quite like.

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Enjoy!

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Hintonburg

I spent this afternoon walking through Hintonburg. It’s a neighbourhood in Ottawa that I’ve heard lots of good things about. It’s my understanding that the neighbourhood is under going gentrification which on one hand means higher rents and displacement of long time residents (something I know well having lived and worked in St Henri in Montreal), but on the other hand it means young entrepreneurs opening interesting shops and restaurants that offer local and sustainable fare.

I certainly don’t have the answers on how to address these types of controversial community transitions – especially in a city that is new to me, but I don’t want to ignore small businesses trying their best to offer Canadian made products and support local artisans while I figure it out. So today with a sense of curiosity and an open mind I went for a walk through the neighbourhood and dropped in the shops that caught my eye.

I started my walk at Bayview Station and made my way to Wellington Street West. It was quite a hot afternoon. I wore this outfit.

Obviously no wig! Though even without it I must say I was overdressed for the heat. I should have worn short sleeves and brought my fan. Usually it is cool in late August. Not this summer!

First stop was Maker House. This shop features handcrafted furniture and homewares from over 90 local artisans. Lots of wood items to be found in this space. All quite charming. The space is shared with Brew Donkey which offers tours to 18 local craft breweries in Ottawa. I don’t drink so this is not for me, but it does sound like a lot of fun for those who enjoy a pint!

A video posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

Then I got a smoothie and a salad at Simply Raw Express. I had the smoothie right away and saved the salad for supper.

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

I popped into the clothing shop Muriel Dombret. I LOVE the designs and that the collection is designed and sewed in house. I have my eye on the linen trousers to replace my cheaply made and paid for Joe Fresh ones. I really want to make the move from fast fashion to more sustainable high quality local clothing.

Afterwards, I popped over to the thrift store run by Society of St Vincent de Paul. I am on the look out for a blouse like this one for my fall/winter capsule wardrobe. I want to get it at a thrift store, but unfortunately, I did not find anything here this time. I will keep trying.

Next, I went to Flock. I’ve shopped here before when I used to visit Ottawa. I quite like the Canadian made collections they carry. I was super interested in a shirt dress by designer Allison Wonderla – or maybe in this fabric. I think it is something I could wear as is, with jeans, leggings, trousers or a skirt. I could also layer my fancy long underwear underneath it as well as wear a sweater on top. Hopefully they will still have it next week when I can buy it. It’s pricey but when you have a Ten Item Wardrobe like I do investment pieces make a lot of sense and cents. Ha ha ha. ;-)

At this point I was hungry again so I went to Strawberry Blonde Bakery. This isn’t true. I wasn’t actually hungry but I did go. It was because I happened upon a sign that directed me down a side street to this awesome little shop of vegan delights!

A video posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

My last stop was Rikochet Resale which is a consignment store. I left two leather handbags I no longer wanted and they sold so I had a credit. I used it to buy a pair of boots from Vegetarian Shoes. How lucky was I that they had an awesome pair on non-leather boots in my size. So lucky!

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

By then I was well on Richmond Road so I headed to Westboro Station and the Transitway to take a bus home.

PS I will try over the next few months to explore other neighbourhoods. I will also actually take photos of them. This was a bit of an unpredictable day and I’m using a very busted iPhone as a camera so I’m not in the best position to be a photojournalist. ;-)

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

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A Revelation

What I am about to share is a very big deal for me. It’s something I have not shared with anyone online.

Big breath. OK, here goes.

This photo isn’t an accurate representation of how I look. At least not now, in person, on a day to day basis.

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You see, that is because in the fall of 2013 I cut off most of my hair and in the spring of 2015 I stopped dying it. And during all that time if I was to go on stage for a burlesque show or take a selfie for the Internetz I wore a wig. This is what I actually look like today.

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Let the age-ist opinions and mysoginistic judgements of strangers and trolls begin!

Why I Cut My Hair

I wanted a change. After having pretty much the same look for 16 years I felt a strong compulsion to change things up. While I was actively performing on my personal website I never changed my hairstyle very much. I always had long hair with bangs. There were many times I wanted to cut my hair, but because I didn’t want to deal with the backlash I would get from my public fanbase I didn’t. Yes, I had concerns that playing with my look would affect my bottomline. Legitimate concerns because fans and members always had an opinion about my appearance. Back then, complaints that I grew out my bangs or cut my hair was not something I felt I could handle. It was a fear thing.

When the site started to die a slow death because people stopped paying for adult content I felt a little more confident testing out a significant trim. In August of 2009 I bobbed my hair. It was about 6 months before my separation and I recognize now that it was an expression of a greater desire for change and a sign of things to come.

I did not feel good in my own skin so I got a haircut. Classic! After the separation I grew it back as I had cowlicks that made a bob impossible to keep straight, but deep down I knew another cut was in my future.

This desire, I think, was about figuring out who I was without my husband, without my website, without my objectification. I wanted to separate myself from my sex work which was a big part of my identity but no longer served me as it had. I wanted some discretion and boundaries in my life.

It took much therapy and personal development work for me to come to terms with it all. Slowly but surely I began to feel confident in claiming some privacy for myself AND recognizing that a part of me would always be up for public consumption. By that time I was ready to have the hair I wanted and I got a significant cut inspired by Michelle William’s look in the Louis Vuitton ads. This was in the fall of 2013 – a few months before I had my last drink. No coincidence, I think!

Later after performing in The Graduate in the fall of 2014 I wanted it even shorter so I went with pixie style similar to Winona Ryder circa 1997. I am told after certain roles actresses often cut their hair. I guess that makes me an actress. ;-)

So Why the Wigs?

If people meet me while I am wearing my glasses and then see me without them, they do not recognize me. Similarly, if they meet me first in person and then see my photos, they don’t recognize me in the pics. I have that kind of face, I guess. Easily altered based on a few little tricks.

So when I sought out to have more boundaries and privacy I decided to capitalize on my chameleon nature. I thought wearing wigs when I was in Seska mode (which was mostly at burlesque shows and on social media) and going without in my day to day life would help me ease myself into a more separate life.

And it worked. People didn’t recognize me. It was great. I got to have a strong sense of separation between the consumable me and the me that belongs just to myself for myself. I’m not sure if people outside of the public eye understand how precious this is. It’s been such a gift of relaxation. Most definitely something I’m glad I experienced even though it has been somewhat convoluted.

Oh, and the bonus of wearing wigs has meant saving 1-2 hours of prep time and having healthy hair once again. But that doesn’t make for such a dramatic story. ;-)

Why I Stopped Dying My Hair

I started going grey in my early twenties. At first it was just a few hairs and then by the time I was 28 I needed to get it dyed every 6 weeks if I wanted to cover it up. By 35 it was every 4 weeks. This was expensive and I felt it was adding too much to my chemical load and could be avoided. For about 2 years I chatted with my colourist about how to go grey. Finally I decided to buzz it off and just start fresh.

I ended up loving it.

Ever since I have gone short AND grey I receive daily compliments on my hair. I have a confidence I never had before and a sense of freedom from the rules of beauty that are so often imposed on us by media and the beauty industry.

So Why the Big Reveal?

I have been itching to share more of myself once again. I want to blog more. I want to document more. I want express more. I want to connect more. The wigs were an amazing protective tool when I needed them, but I do not feel I need them anymore. At least not in the same way. Now they are just getting in the way. My way.

I must say I feel quite light and free since I have decided to get this out into the open. It’s exciting.  In terms of burlesque, the wigs will remain. They are amazing elements of my acts and help me inhabit a character. I absolutely love them and could not do burlesque without them. But now you can expect many more selfies and such on Instagram. I will still post food and cat pics, but there will be more spontaneous me!

And now a little walk down memory lane of how I went from long hair to short….

Me with shortish dyed hair.

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March 2014

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Then with the dyed pixie.

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Even though I had a horrible flu I got dressed up to see a live taping of The Social.
I am such a nerd for this show!
November 2014

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Now I get to share the pic I have of me and the ladies!!!
November 2014

Then with the buzz cut. There was still a bit of dye left.

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April 2015

Finally all natural.

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July 2015

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September 2015

A big thank you to Damon and Andrea of Salon Adikt in Montreal for all the amazing times I had in the salon. Damon is a god of colour – so creative, professional and precise! And there is no one like Andrea in terms of expertise for cuts, styling and up-dos. With her years of experience, appreciation for classic styles and trends, and keen eye for detail I knew I was always in good hands for each and every look. I was with them for 9 years and I highly recommend them both!

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