My Thoughts On Fast Fashion

Fast Fashion refers to a phenomenon in the fashion industry whereby production processes are expedited in order to get new trends to the market as quickly and cheaply as possible. As a result of this trend, the tradition of introducing new fashion lines on a seasonal basis is being challenged. Today, it is not uncommon for fast-fashion retailers to introduce new products multiple times in a single week. Read more at Investopedia.

Trends every week? Wow! I see it in the stores and on people out and about, but it’s not something I relate to. I know I’m influenced by trends I mostly crave classic items that will stand the test of time. I wasn’t always this way though.

Ignoring the Reality of Fashion Manufacturing

I’ve been pairing down my wardrobe for a few years now, but I’ve not given nearly enough thought to the ethics of clothing manufacturing. I certainly haven’t taken significant action. I could use my low income as an excuse, but the truth is for a long time I shopped impulsively for emotional reasons (and more than anything I have the credit card balance to show for it). I would have cognitive dissonance about the backstory to my clothes. I still have many regrets about this (thank you, my weird guilty conscience that says I’m the reason for all of the world’s suffering), but I’m happy to report that I’m now much more mindful of the reality of fashion and I’m taking concrete action to buy more ethically and sustainable made clothes from now on.

I certainly have been aware for many years of the horrible working conditions in clothing manufacturing. I remember having an argument with a friend about it some 20 years ago. We used words like sweatshops and labour conditions. I was feeling very anxious and guilty about the low wages and dangerous working conditions. I felt my quality of life here in the West was due to the suffering of others. I felt awful and wanted to find alternatives. She argued that the wages in other countries reflected their cost of living and that stores like Gap and brands like Nike were improving things. Neither of us would budge in our opinions and we never talked about it again.

Afterwards, I did seek out more locally made and recycled fashion and more environmentally friendly fabrics, but I felt pretty limited in my options. I also was at the height of my shopping as emotional remedy situation. It took therapy to stop that harmful coping mechanism (among others).

Fast Forward To Now

I finally have much healthier emotional strategies and it turns out this bit of good health for me also spreads to garment manufacturing workers, the planet and my pocket book.  I say pocket book because my new frame of mind has me opting out of fast fashion. I haven’t bought much in the past few years. Definitely no impulse clothing purchases. Everything I now own is due to careful consideration. Well, in terms of a minimalist wardrobe numbers-wise. In terms of ethically sourced and made fashion, I have a lot of room for improvement and any new purchases will take THAT into consideration.

Yes, the time for change is now. So what will I be doing? I have decided to only purchase used clothing when it comes to blouses, sweaters, pants, skirts and dresses. When it comes to socks and underwear I will only purchase those that are ethically and sustainably made. I see no need for shoes in my immediate future. What I have is sufficient for a few years at least. Same thing for winter coats. I will need new winter boots though. I need them to be very durable, waterproof, and warm while also meeting my criteria for ethics and vegan materials. If you have any suggestions, please do mention them in the comments.

So that is where I stand TODAY on fast fashion and the ethics and sustainability of clothing manufacturing. I will be building my Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe soon. I will keep you posted on my thrift store finds for the few items I am missing or need to be replaced. Check out my Instagram for updates!

A Few Inspirations

Verena Erin of My Green Closet – Erin believes in ‘buy less, buy better” and makes YouTube videos about sustainable fashion, capsule wardrobes, natural beauty, and simplifying. I’ve watched her playlist on How To Shop for Ethical and Sustainable Fashion a few times!

Erin Boyle of Reading My Tea Leaves – I just adore how Erin curates her life in a small apartment in a big city. Her photos and text are beautiful, inspirational and relatable. Lots of good info on sustainably made (in North America) clothing and about sustainable minimalist living in general.

And I must mention my sister – She is a fantastic dressmaker (she has a made a few of my burlesque costumes) and has decided that the best way she can make an impact is by making most of her clothing (and that of her children) herself. While my idea of sewing is safety pins and a glue gun, she does inspire me to do better in my own way, with my own skills and abilities, and the resources I have at my disposal – thrift stores and meticulous care of what I already own (steam, baby, steam)!!!

Summer 2016 Capsule Wardrobe

I’m a big fan of the 10 Item Wardrobe as described by Jennifer L. Scott in her book Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris. She suggests curating your wardrobe in such a way to have 10 main items and a handful of extras. Creating this type of capsule wardrobe helped me simplify getting dressed and develop my discernment when it comes to my look. Poise is one of my Core Desired Feelings and having a well thought out capsule wardrobe most definitely makes me feel (and look) that way.

A quote from Jennifer…

One of the many reasons why I love the ten-item wardrobe is it requires me to be thoughtful about my clothing. Nothing is shoved into the closet as an afterthought. If a garment is going to take up valuable real estate in my closet, it needs to belong there.

It also takes the stress out of getting dressed. Something I used to experience on the regular. It also saves me time and energy that I can use in more productive and creative ways.

My Ten Items & Extras

I put my summer capsule wardrobe together in May soon after I moved from Montreal to Ottawa. I was anticipating a bit of a lifestyle change because I changed jobs so I took that into consideration. Still, most everything I chose was from last year’s wardrobe (stuff I didn’t wear because of the actual uniform I was in 5 days a week).

See the notes afterwards for explanations, exceptions and transformations.

  1. Black Jeans +
  2. Jean Shorts ^
  3. Black Flowing Trousers
  4. Jean Capri +
  5. Black One Piece Romper <
  6. Black Jersey Tunic Dress *
  7. Short Capri Jersey Leggings
  8. Black Jersey Pencil Skirt
  9. White Linen Shirt >
  10. Blue Linen Shirt >

Pink Cotton Cardigan (for the occasional chilly AC type outing)
Black Raincoat (for the rain – obviously)

Fancy Black Sleeveless Tunic (this and all items below can be matched with my pants and skirt)
Black Sleeveless Blouse
White Tunic Sleeveless Top
Razor Back Black Jersey Tank
White T-shirt
Black T-shirt
White Tank Top
Black Tank Top

Black Polyester Mini Dress (for nights out and post-burlesque shows)

Sandals, black Jack Purcells, white Jack Purcells, pink rubberboots and open toe black stacked heels.

Recently I took some photos of some of my Outfits Of The Day that you can see over at my Instagram. I will take some more and post a final roundup of my summer outfits and post them all together here.

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

The black flowing trousers and black tank top.


^ I only wore the shorts once to the beach and then tried them on again a month or so later. They were too big. They quite literally slipped off my hips and past my bum without me having to undo them. I think my switch back to a whole food plant based diet combined with daily powerwalks caused me to lose an inch or so from my waist and hips. These shorts are now in my donation bag.

+ It has been a very hot and humid summer and the denim of my jeans are much too thick for 30 degrees Celsius and 70% humidity days and nights. I put these in the back of my closet and I will bring them forward once we have consistently cooler days and nights. Hopefully by the end of August.

< I adored wearing this romper this summer. It has been my favourite thing to wear to work and meet ups with friends.

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

* This dress was moved to my home-only capsule. This is stuff I wear around the house, when I do laundry, post workout but pre shower. Besides the dress it includes a pair of longer black leggings, grey sleep shorts and two worn but not see through t-shirts. The dress in question – I have had it for 5 years – was pilling in spots and looked a bit ragged for work and running errands. I purchased a black tent type jersey dress to replace it. It has a belt so I can wear it two ways.

> The only thing I bought at the start of the summer were the linen shirts, two t-shirts (1 white and 1 black) and a white tank top. These are things I didn’t have as last year I worked in a restaurant and wore a uniform 5 days a week. I needed a few things to fill out my capsule in a clean and polished way now that I work at a shop.

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

And yes I know – I wear a heck of a lot of black. I make it a bit more lively by adding a pop of colour like with my Matt & Nat Triplet Loom Crossbody, Fuchsia (Pink).

Resources

Tedx Talk. – Video by Jennifer L. Scott

Dress With Less and Create Your Capsule Wardrobe – Mini Course by Courtney Carver

A Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes & 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day – Blog posts by Joshua Becker

How Not To Die – Video

As many of you know I am a bit of a nutrition information junkie and I really enjoy the work of Dr. Michael Greger. He claims to have read every nutritional research journal of the year (now that is a nutrition info junkie – wink), He examines the research and synthesizes it for the average person interested in how food affects health, quality of life and longevity. He also brings a critical eye to how research actually doesn’t translate to improvements to the food industry. As someone who wants to live a healthy AND a simpler, more frugal life his work has been a very useful resource.

Most of the things that make us healthy and keep us healthy are cheap and largely available without professional help or commercial prodding. – Michael Greber, M.D.

Here is a great (longer) video on his examination of the leading causes of death in North America. Super interesting and also told with a fair bit of humour.

I Am Multi Passionate

I love love love this new video from Marie Forleo. She answers a viewer’s question on how QUESTIONS. Sounds quite a bit like someone I know – me!

Have a look and then come back. Below I will break down my journey as a multipassionate woman for you. There are some key threads that hold it all together even when I am mixed up with fears and hopes. I think it will give a little insight into how my seemingly unrelated life choices do make sense. And if you are struggling with being multipassionate yourself, I hope you find it helpful too.

My Foundation

My foundation for my multiple passions is made up of books and my love learning and knowledge.

Ever since I was a little girl (about age 9 or 10) I have been interested in nutrition and wellness. I think it all started when I found an eating guide created by the Canadian government in the 1960s at a garage sale. I read it over and over. I remember it so well. Later when deciding my next steps after high school I wanted to pursue holistic nutrition and naturopathy, but was discouraged by my parents as they thought it was quackery and I would never make a living at it. Little did they know how big an industry it would become! In any case, I went to university and studied other subjects while keeping up with my nutrition reading. This was in the early 1990s and I was especially interested in the benefits of a plant based diets. I collected many books by Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Dean Ornish and dietician Brenda Davis.

As a teenager and young adult I was also fascinated by sexuality and agency. Our Bodies, Ourselves, The Teenage Body Book: A New Edition for a New Generation, and The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition were books I took out from the school library on the regular. Well, the first two. I am not sure where I got a copy of The Joy of Sex. I doubt it was from my high school library.

I wanted to be informed and empowered to make decisions that would best ensure my health and pleasure. I am not sure why I thought connecting to my sexuality was my birthright, but I did. Maybe it was the 1980s and what was going on during those years (HIV AIDS, the fight to have abortion decriminalized in Canada, and Madonna). In any case, the ideas behind our sexual beliefs, attitudes and actions – it was very interesting to me.

Another early interest of mine was new age spirituality. I was raised attending the United Church of Canada and enjoyed religion as part of my upbringing. It was about kindness, compassion and generosity. It was also about of friendship as my best friend went to the same church and we had many silly adventures together there at Sunday School and Girl Guides. We are friends to this day and I have such good memories from those days. All the while though I was interested in other systems of belief and understanding such as astrology, tarot and energetic modalities. I was drawn towards exploring to the universe and humanity beyond organized religion. Again, much reading was done. The work of Marianne Williamson being an early favourite.

My Work

When I was 19 I worked at a summer camp that taught English to very uninterested French children who had failed it during their school year. It was a horrible job but my fellow camp counsellors were nice (the manager – not so much). Somehow it created in me a desire to teach. I went to university and got two bachelor degrees (Child Studies and Psychology) and worked as an educational consultant for learning disabled children and adolescents. I quite liked being part of a team that assessed a person’s strengths and weakness and developed a plan of action to help them succeed at attaining their goals. Reading comprehension, problem solving, task management and were my areas of interest and expertise.

In my late 20s I switched careers in a big way. I went from teaching to starring and running my own independent personal adult website. The exploration of my sexuality was a big part of why I chose to make the switch. I felt a need in me to do something daring and revolutionary (it was 1998 – digital cameras, reality TV and exhibitionism on the World Wide Web were in their early stages – a new frontier).  I loved that my website gave me a platform to explore and connect. Beyond performing in webcams and photoshoots, I began researching and writing articles and essays about sexuality, body image, relationships, and sex work stigmatization. I volunteered at Scarleteen, worked as a community moderator and advice columnist at the adult website Homegrown Video, and created and led workshops and presentations on sex work on the Internet.

Now I am in my 40s and no longer interested in sex as performance. I have a bit of a cynical ‘been there, done that, have the scars to prove it’ mentality. No regrets, but I definitely have a whole lot of hard earned wisdom and am happy to be working in the field of sex education in a new way and sharing of my life in a different way (here at this website, on social media and a YouTube channel is in the works).

Nutrition has not take a back seat as I have work in the adult industry. I live a vegan lifestyle and I am still fascinated with food as a powerful wellness tool. A few years back I went back to school and studied holistic nutrition. Combined with my work in therapy my interests began merging and transforming into something new for me.

Putting It All Together

Nutrition, sexuality and spirituality now exist a little bit more formally here on this website and in my work with life coaching clients. As a lifestyle blogger and Instagrammer (is that what it’s called?) and as a licensed Desire Map facilitator I can bring all my passions to my work. It feels very cohesive. Very connected. Very grounded. It also feels so authentic for me to share these passions with others. And that has always been very important to me.

I Fell Off The Wagon – Vegan Edition

On January 1st 2012, after not eating meat (no fish, cow, pig, chicken, sheep, goat, turkey, etc…) for nineteen years (fifteen of which I was vegan – no eggs, dairy or honey) I had a Big Mac. A cold Big Mac because I was too ashamed to eat it in the restaurant. I brought it home by taxi and ate it all by my lonesome. A true reflection of how disconnected I was from my self, my soul. That night I felt such shame which then turned into numbness. Cognitive dissonance kicked in, separating me from the consequences of my actions – the animal, environmental and human suffering associated with our culture’s (anti) nourishment status quo. This disconnect stuck around for four years.

For four years every time I ate meat my mind would block out compassionate thoughts and replace them with rationalizations for why I should eat this dead animal (nineteen years – I had done my part, if it’s organic it must be humane, why must *I* be the change you want to see in the world?).

I still feel some shame about this experience, but in retrospect I see it for what it was –  a sad yet fascinating experience that taught me a lot about how we humans can talk ourselves into doing something that goes against our core (yet not socially supported) values. Sad and fascinating, but mostly sad.

But Why?

I think the main reason I went back to eating animals was my poor mental health and my alcoholism. Through therapy, mindfulness mediation and spiritual practices I was exploring new healthy ways of coping with difficult emotions (like fear, anxiety and anger), but I was still very early on in this process. I was weak and tired. I wasn’t sure of who I was and what I believed in. My marriage, my stigmatized work, my divorce – they all did a number on me.

Eating eggs, cheese and then later animals became a bit of an obsessive thought. I think this was because there was so much focus for so long on my weaknesses, flaws and failures. Post-divorce I rebelled. I was tired of being good and subservient. I was tired of always being wrong. I was just plain tired.

I see now it was a destructive attempt at self-discovery. Had I not hit my bottom… well, let’s not go there.

Thankfully, I came out the other side knowing what was important to me, how I wanted to live my life and

How Did I Get Back to My Values and Living According to Them?

Quick answer – by developing a mindfulness practice AND getting very specific on how I wanted to feel.

Learning to be comfortable with discomfort was a key to my healing and my journey back to veganism. I had all kinds of very unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with emotional pain. I had to develop a higher tolerance AND discover new ways of dealing with my suffering. I’ve written about this process here and here.

I discovered and how to my Cored Desired Feelings (CDFs) via The Desire Map and thought about them on a daily basis. I examined my choices, big and small and made sure that I was acting in a way that served my CDFs. Learn more about The Desire Map process here.

I realized that I felt FULL when I practiced self-care in the form of healthy habits (mindfulness mediation, higher quality sleep, staying sober). I nurtured myself in kind and compassionate ways – kind to me and my health, to animals, to the planet, and those in the farming industry.

I remembered how I began eating vegan the first time.

I figured out my triggers and avoided them (McDonalds, McDonalds, McDonalds).

I took it one day at a time and didn’t demand perfection of myself.

I informed myself of animal suffering, the environmental impact to raising animals for food, and the health benefits to a plant based whole foods diet.

I focused on delicious, nourishing and energizing vegan meals.

However, there was a lot of start and stop, a lot of two steps forward and one step back. For about a year I managed and waitressed at a restaurant – a deli.  Staying vegan or even vegetarian while working there was a challenge. I would eat consistently vegan for a couple of weeks then slip. Also I found myself often at McDonalds if I was on my own or travelling (wtf is it about McDonalds? so freaking addictive). I didn’t beat myself about all of this as I knew that would make the situation worse. I was doing the best I could but I knew I could do better.

Turning Point

When I moved to Ottawa this past spring I thought the change in environment would inspire me to stick to a strict plant based diet. However, I struggled with it the first few weeks. I had a new job. I had a horrible sinus infection. I was spending a lot of time with my sister and her young family. She was used to me making some sort of declaration about my diet and then not sticking to it. I didn’t want to do that again so a very personal and family of origin fear came into play. Plus, I didn’t want to burden her with my diet. She has so much to deal with. So I ate what they ate. However, as we spent more time together we developed a new connection based on who we are now and not who were used to be five, ten and fifteen years ago. This gave me the confidence to bring my own meals over or to turn things down at her place. I eased into vegetarianism and then veganism.

I feel quite solid about it now. I’m enjoying my kitchen in my new apartment (I have proper counters for the first time) and cooking once again. I’m exploring new recipes and revisiting old favourites. I feel so good inside and out now that I am eating a whole foods plant based diet again. Like most everything good in my life today I wish I had figured it out long ago. I am still learning to accept that. But if I remember my CDFs and stay present with loving kindness to my all of my feelings I think things will be OK.

Good Reads About Drinking & Sobriety

When I was coming to terms with my alcoholism I was drawn to reading memoirs about drinking. I knew I had a problem and that something had to change, but I was afraid. I wanted to feel less alone in my experience AND find examples of women who had made the life altering decision to quit drinking. I wanted to know what sobriety looked like. It felt so unknown and I wanted reassurance, a sense of hope, that giving up alcohol was something I could do.

Reading about it rather than attending meetings was a gentle and safe way to explore the concept of sobriety in private. I wasn’t quite ready to say aloud that I had a problem. I wasn’t quite ready to quit for good. Reading these books and essays helped me get to the place where I was able to take that first step and then subsequently do all the necessary work (for me) to embrace sobriety and recovery.

Books –

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

Some online essays by Emily McCombs –

I’m Turning 30 And I’m Having My First Sober Birthday Party Ever (And I’m A Little Scared)

I Would Not Like To Discuss Your Alcohol Problem, Thank You (which now with two and half years of sobriety under my belt I relate to in a BIG way)

Drinking A Love Story

Addicted To Everything – Blame It On The A A A A Alcohol

Bonus –

After a year or so of sobriety I discovered After Party Magazine. It’s an offshoot of Rehab Reviews and features first-person content and interviews on sobriety and recovery. It’s a useful spot to find diverse perspectives on all kinds of substance abuse. I especially like the How I Got Sober series.

I hope by sharing my experiences and the strategies I used to get and stay sober others in need might find their way to health and recovery too.

What Sobriety Means To Me

I have not had an alcoholic beverage since December 27th, 2013. On January 4th, 2014 I went in front a room of strangers and declared that I was an alcoholic. This declaration was important.  A public reality check of sorts that helped me create a final ending of a specific pattern of behaviour and start a new one. It helped me find a community of similarly minded people and feel less alone in my experience. It provided me with access to resources as I started to live my life without alcohol as a part of it – without my culturally celebrated pacifier.

While I am now at ease with calling myself an alcoholic (it wasn’t easy at first), I do not think of myself as an addict. When I stopped drinking I did not experience any physical withdrawal. It was much more of a MIND thing than a BODY thing (though my excessive drinking was greatly affecting my health – something I will write about another time). I didn’t crave alcohol or feel compelled to drink. I did think about it a lot the first month, but it was all part of figuring out new ways to manage my time and energy now that I wasn’t dulled by booze, messily drunk or hungover.

Yes, alcohol consumption for me was a destructive and near impossible thing for me to control (especially once I get started) because I associated it with stress relief, avoiding pain and coping with anxiety. I thought of drinking as “relaxation”, as something owed to me for being so “good” or working hard. Rather than a physical addiction drinking was a habit forming activity based on faulty associations.

Booze numbed me and allowed me (for a short time) to feel comfortable and be social. I didn’t drink every day and there were times I handled suffering without it, went to events without drinking, but I couldn’t predict which times those would be. As the years progressed I couldn’t manage my drinking and subsequently I got worse and worse at managing my life. What I believe I had is a learning disorder around alcohol and emotional well-being.

Here is an article that looks at drinking through that lens. I found it really interesting and helpful.

This learning disorder began early for me. When I was younger, from childhood until age 40 (ah!!! half a lifetime!!!), I had very little tolerance for my suffering. Especially related to fear, anger and disappointing others. I also had messed up beliefs like if I was perfect (whatever that was) I would never feel pain, everyone would accept me, and I would always be happy. Read more about this, my old way of thinking, here. Then I entered therapy and learned new ways of approaching my anxiety and fear. I think if it had not been for therapy and working on my skills to observe, accept and view my feelings with loving kindness I would never have been able to stop drinking.

I really wished I had learned earlier how to manage my uncomfortable feelings in a healthy way. I think instead I learned to deny my difficult feelings by having beliefs like: look on the brighter side, other people have it worse than me, and the classic don’t cry out loud and keep it inside

If I look back – before alcohol was even part of the picture – I was an escape artist more than an addict. I was an avid user of not-so-healthy and sometimes even quite destructive coping mechanisms to soothe myself. The choice of strategies changed through out the years (hitting myself and others in my family when I was a child, cutting as an early teen, picking as a late teen and young adult *, then trying to be as disciplined and controlled as my ex-husband in my 30s). All very different things, but they were my attempt to make awful feelings go away.

I have stopped trying to find something outside of myself to deal with my fears, anxiety and struggles. The suffering will always be there and I allow myself to feel what I feel. No longer am I questing for perfection in hopes of it making me happy and pain free, to be accepted by others. I am now in a place of equanimity and resilience. With my mindful and compassionate practices AND my sobriety I am no longer twirling around in the vicious circle of trying to be perfect because I felt like a failure for being less than perfect.

* A good article on picking and how to cope.

Pretty Happy – Book Review

I’m a huge fan of healthy lifestyle advice books. I’ve been a fan of them for a long time. I read those by doctors and specialists as well as those by celebrities. The first celebrity one I read was by Miss Piggy. It was 1979 and I was 8. I don’t remember any of her advice, but I do remember enjoying the book enough to take it out twice from the library. It may have been a satire, but I was drawn to its glamor and beauty aspects. The humour went over my head. Hey, I was 8 and my idea of true beauty was in its early stage of development as was my sense of humour.

As an adult, I’m a bit more cynical, but still drawn to beauty and lifestyle advice books. Why? I like a good makeover. A transformation story is optimistic and demonstrates some sense of agency and control over your destiny. I like learning what I can do on a personal level to be healthy and happy inside and out.

Yes, I know in a way I am buying into the idea that celebrities have it all figured out, but I know enough on the science of well-being and aging (as well that people are not always what they appear to be) that I can read these books and take from them what *I* find beneficial.

Now onto my latest read — Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body by Kate Hudson.

This book is Kate Hudson’s answer to the limitless amount of questions she gets about her supposed secrets to looking and feeling good. She goes into detail in the ways she has constructed her life in ways she cannot in quick 30 second sound bite of an interview. It all starts with being in touch with your body and learning to understand it.

For me, reading my body, paying attention to its signals and honouring its natural intelligence, is key to staying slim, fit, and healthy.
Kate Hudson

This is definitely something I have found key to my own road to well-being. In the past it was ever so easy for me to detach from my body and my feelings and engage in unhealthy habits – use food, drink, relationships and passivity as a pacifier in my day to day life. Connecting to my body and my emotions, observing them with gentle compassion has made a world of difference to me. reading this right off the top in Kate’s book made me want to read more about HOW she connects and what habits it involves. I like to always be adding to my toolbox of wellness strategies and habits.

She breaks this process down into what she calls her 4 Pillars of Health: Cultivate an Intuitive Relationship with Your Body , Eat Well (focusing on nutritional balance and Ayurvedic eating), Awaken Your Body (movement & exercise), and The Miracle of Mindfulness. The foundation of these Pillars is what she calls her Drawing Board – essentially a journal for various exercises and note-taking – that makes the reading the book and interactive process.

Things I liked: Her approach to mindfulness and meditation. I think doing a daily (or many times a day) scan of the body and checking how you feel physically and emotionally is such a useful tool.

Things I did not like: The word detox. I think it is overused and typically inaccurate.

Things I am now more curious about: Ayurvedic medicine body typing and eating.

I think if you are someone who enjoys self-reflection, then you will enjoy this book. I don’t think anything she recommends to be out of reach for the average person. I live a frugal yet very busy life with a small budget and many responsibilities. I was able to implement many of her suggestions without changing my spending habits. It meant more changing how I spend my time (like my sedentary habits of watching a few hours a day of TV).

Some people have not found the book as useful as I did – like the author of this snippy review. I’m not really into the online trend to hate on famous people. I get that people find it loathsome when a celebrity speaks from much privilege. But it is not like this kind of book is coming out of nowhere. Journalists and entertainment reporters are asking them ALL THE TIME what they eat, how they exercise and what they wear. I can see that they would want to take advantage of this interest by controlling the message with their own book. Plus, it makes financial sense for the 30 and 40 something actresses who don’t work as much as they used to in their 20s to take their celebrity and use it to continue to earn a living.

I much preferred this take on the celebrity lifestyle trend by Jess Allen. It’s a little more gentle and I think more self-deprecatingly humorous. Slightly in line with my 8 year old self and Miss Piggy’s book.

Blog Break

Hello my blog friends! The blog has been quiet for a few months because I moved. It was quite the endeavour as I moved to an entirely new city (Montreal to Ottawa).

I spent most of April preparing for the move. I did a tremendous purging of belongings as I went from a 1000 sq feet space to a 450 sq feet one. I sold my bed, TV, bureau (set of drawers? commode? what the heck is it called?), shelving, kitchen island, and dining room table. I gave away a lot of clothes and books. I shredded and recycled a lot of paper documents. I listened to The Minimalist Podcasts through out which helped both pass the time and inspire me. Definitely something I need as I did this all on my own.

In May I made the move and promptly got hit by a horrible cold. So much sinus pain and such a disgusting cough. Then my cat Rufus came down with a life threatening urinary blockage. It was a very scary experience – emotionally and financially. He is OK now but it was so stressful because all my money was tied up in the move. On top of that I started a new job. It’s great in so many ways and it makes me quite happy. But like every new job there is a learning curve and that took up whatever little energy I had left. Hence the blog break.

Now I am settled and ready to write again. Expect quite a few posts in the coming days!

Bagel Burlesque Expo – Sunday Brunch

I am pleased to announce I will be hosting the Sunday brunch Show of the Montreal Bagel Burlesque Expo on Sunday April 24th, 2016. It will be a neo-burlesque celebration of beauty under all its less traditional forms.

HEADLINERS:
Red Hot Annie (Chicago)
James and the Giant Pasty (Toronto)

ARTISTS:
Bibi Lolo Bang Bang (Montreal)
Coeur De Lyon (Montreal)
Fifi & Foufou (Montreal)
Julie Paquet (Montreal)
Lady Scarlet Pearl (Montreal)
Lillian Bustle (Boston)
Paige la Pearl (Toronto)
Poison Eve (New York)

Hosted by Seska Lee
Stage Kittens: Emily Florence & Florence Emily

Doors: noon
Show: 1 pm

TICKETS

PRICES in advance:
General seat: $25 + fees
VIP seat: $45 + fees
Combo for the 3 shows: $65 + fees
VIP Combo for the 3 shows: $99 + fees

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My Favourite Simple Living YouTubers

I enjoy watching YouTube videos on simple and minimalist living. WHY? Because they inspire me to live a simple and minimalist life. Or rather they reinforce the choices I am making everyday to live a simpler, healthier and less consumer-driven lifestyle. I am on journey after all. ;-)

Here are some of my favourites. I like them because of the content AND the production style of the videos. They appeal to me on many levels. I like to watch them while I cook and do the dishes.

PS I’ve also included links to their other online spots in case you are more of a reader or photo person.

Jenny Mustard

YouTube – WebsiteFacebookInstagramTwitter

Jenny and her partner David create some of the most lovely v-logs. She shares vegan recipes, minimalist lifestyle advice, organization tips and her overall optimistic perspective on life. She has a stunning, edgy style and a very warm demeanour.

Light By Coco

YouTube – InstagramTwitter

Originally from the Netherlands and now in the USA, Coco posts very simple and to the point videos with her tips for living a simple life. Her focus is on clothing and keeping a decluttered living (and head) space. She travels frequently so there is excellent packing advice too. Her videos are not overly edited, but they are high quality and very pleasant to watch. By the way, her fashion style most closely resembles my own. Except I am not tall. ;-)

Rachel Aust

YouTubeFacebookInstagramTwitter

Based out of Australia, Rachel shares minimalist organization, beauty and style advice. She and her partner Beau own and run a training gym Eat Run Lift as well as offer diet and exercise digital products so this topic pops up on the channel often. It doesn’t feel like a distraction from the minimalism but rather a compliment. She has a background in photography and design and it shows. Her keen eye and aesthetic is clear and consistent in all the products she creates.

Your Faves?

What are your favourite SIMPLE LIVING websites and YouTube channels? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Seska Trivia

I have a BA in Child Studies and a BA in Psychology. In my twenties I worked as an educational consultant. I have continued my education by taking courses in nutrition, energy healing, mindfulness and online business.

I have been active as a burlesque performer and cabaret producer since 2003.

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my costume for my Welcome to the Jungle number

After recovering from a rare autoimmune disease called Paroxysmal Cold Hemoglobinuria I was inspired to train for a 1/2 marathon. I ran it in 2 hours and 14 minutes in the freezing rain. After a break from exercise I have switched things up and now take daily early morning 40 minute power walks.

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my 1st 5k race

In the fall of 2014  I made my professional theatrical debut in the Segal Centre’s The Graduate.

I’m a former adult industry performer and I wrote an essay on why I do not hide or deny my past here. I have spoken about my personal and professional experiences at SXSW, Concordia University, McGill University, Sexual Attitude Reassessment Seminars and various adult industry conferences.

Yes, that was me on HBO’s Real Sex Xtra : Pornocopia : Going Down in the Valley : Women on Top. The business has changed dramatically from when that was filmed (2004). I cannot provide you with any relevant advice on how to “make it’ in the industry in its current state. It’s changed too much.

I have two cats – Rufus and Martha.

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Rufus on left – Martha on the right

Fitness Journey

These photos were taken 2 years ago over the course of 6 weeks of working out and eating 80% clean under the supervision of my trainer Sophie P Fitness. I think the results were pretty impressive.

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At the start point in early 2014 I was at around 160lbs.  Over the past 3 years I had gained weight (30lbs) and lost muscle tone.  Post-divorce I did a lot of emotional eating and excessive drinking as well as dealt with all the anxiety, depression, fear and over all stress that comes with struggling over how to rebuild one’s life.

When I got sober in January 2014 I dropped 10lbs quite quickly and then I lost another 10lbs by eating well and working out with Sophie during my 6 week programme. I was feeling pretty good, but I got off track by the end of 2014. I spent much of 2015 stressed and working as a waitress and manager at a restaurant. While it brought some stability to my life, it also took up all of my time and my mental and physical energy. It was not my ideal work/life situation. My healthy habits disappeared. My meals were not plant-based or centered around whole foods as it was more economical and convenient to eat at the restaurant. Then in the summer I suffered a back injury and after that I didn’t work out at all. While I was not living the same unhealthy lifestyle as before, I wasn’t making my health a priority.

I decided in January to change that. I started with small changes in my schedule, doing less of what was not working and doing more of what I know does work for me. Now I’m moving to a new space, being more consistent in my exercise and healthy eating. I have a ways to go as I want to be able to run and lift like I did some ten years ago.

I decided to share this photo to keep myself accountable AND to remind myself of what I can do in six weeks if I am consistent with my healthy life routine.

My Core Desired Feelings 2016

For those of you who visit my website with an eye for details you may have noticed a change in my Core Desired Feelings over on the sidebar. In January I did my annual Desire Map work and I got a little more precise and a little more descriptive on how I wanted to feel.

What I like about The Desire Map and Core Desired Feelings is that you do not need to obey the rules of grammar nor be sensible with the words you choose. If you want to feel like a Disney Character that can be one of your CDFs. If you want to feel spicy in whatever way you define spicy, you can choose that word. Neat.

What I went with this incarnation was compounding words. It feels right for me right now. It feels deep and detailed.

My Core Desired Feelings are Poise, Radiant, Purpose, Full and Whimsy.

I will explain in a future entry what these CDFs mean to me.

Love and blessings,

SESKA LEE

Chasing Goals VS Chasing Feelings

You want it and you want it bad. Aspiring. Hoping. Plotting. Recurring. Reaching. Bubbling beneath your surface. You crave it — and it craves you. So you make a plan to get it. A to-do list. The bucket list. Quarterly objectives. Strategy. Accountability. The goal. Except . . .

You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing a feeling.

We have the procedures of achievement upside down. We go after the stuff we want to have, get, accomplish, and experience outside of ourselves. And we hope, yearn, pray that we’ll be fulfilled when we get there. It’s backwards. It’s outside in. And it’s running us in circles.

Danielle LaPorte

I have experienced this myself. In my burlesque work, in my blogging, in my personal life. I thought I wanted that THING or that ACHIEVEMENT when truly what I wanted was to feel a certain way. Until I got specific on those feelings – my Core Desired Feelings – I was lost in a mess of dissatisfaction and confusion.

Does any of this resonate with you? If so I think my March 20th Burlesque Expressed & Embodied With The Desire Map Workshop is for you!

Let me help you discover and define your Core Desired Feelings so you can find INNER CLARITY that will transform to OUTER ACTION.

Register Now

All my best,
Seska Lee

PS I’m using burlesque as the stage for this exploration and development. It has so many powerful elements to it that will allow us to dig deep and play and grow. I can’t wait!

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I Am Afraid of Money

Financial insecurity follows me around like a little pesky, taunting entity. It’s based in my reality. As a freelancer my income is inconsistent. I have debt. I was never taught money management skills and I never sought them out.

Above all, I’m afraid of money – having it AND not having it.

This is because I see my financial worth as a reflection of my personal worth. My heart knows this isn’t true, but my busy little poisoned mind likes to tell tall tales and say that it is true.

I’m working on it. Unpacking it. Observing it. Releasing it.

My bank account, my tax return, my debt – they don’t reflect my worth as a human being.


I wrote this entry about 1 week after I got the You Need A Budget app. A game changer for me.

Simple Yet Glamorous?

My life is simple in that I discovered some mindful and minimalist life strategies that bring balance and serenity to my day-to-day. It’s glamorous in that I love burlesque and I adore creating dazzling, silly performances and shows. Having both in my life brings me much satisfaction and pleasure.

It also means that I find bobby-pins by the door and glitter most everywhere, but that is OK by me. They remind me I’m living the life I want to live.

Perhaps SIMPLICITY & GLAMOUR is an odd combination, but it’s my version of Yin and Yang. They help me embrace LIFE in a BIG JOYFUL way  and I think bringing both into my life is an important part of my journey.

Life is complex.

My simple living and compassionate mindset allows me to meet life’s challenges, express what’s on my mind and in my heart. It’s what keeps me grounded yet able to fly free. It’s what helps me connect to those I love.

Keeping certain things simple lets me bounce around in the complex with joy, gratitude and authenticity. Bounce around in the unpredictability, uncertainty and vulnerability knowing I have a safety net. Having a toolbox of strategies and skills makes me more resilient when sh*t hits the fan – because it will.

So, what do I simplify?

Everything involved in my everyday is structured in a simple way. This took some time. I had to reflect on what I owned and what owned me. I had to think about my possessions and my space and how they made me feel. Yes, I used the Marie Kondo Method. While I’m not a 100 item minimalist, I have downsized in a BIG way. I know each and every one of my belongings and where they live. And I love them all.

My burlesque costumes may have sequins and fancy fringe trim, but they also are chosen and made with simplicity in mind. They are easy to store, maintain and to perform in (and out of). Streamlining my burlesque life means I don’t tear through my space last minute looking for a costume piece or have to create something last minute. I have just what I need. Not more, not less. When I have a show I know I can focus on my performance, deliver as best I can and be present for the entire process.

My internal life?

I simplify that too. It’s absolutely essential in fact because there is a part of my mind that likes to tell stories  – often attaching shame, guilt and fear to them. Then there is my gut that likes to do somersaults. And of course, my heart that likes to race.

I’m betting this all sounds terribly familiar.

Thank goodness there is a solution to this mess of stress and struggle. Mindfulness meditation – it’s the simple antidote to the busy mind poison. Sure, it’s a popular buzz word these days but there is a reason for that. It’s incredibly powerful. It’s an active way of thinking that helps calm the mind. For goodness sake, it creates new neuro-pathways! So freaking neat!

In a nutshell, it’s about observing yourself, your body, your mind’s stories, you name it and not trying to change anything. Experience them without judgement. Let all the weird, uncomfortable and painful sensations and thoughts just be. Then approaching it all – especially yourself – loving kindness. So simple yet so radical.

One of my favourite meditation resources is the work of Tara Brach. She has a wonderful weekly podcast aswell as incredible books I refer to. My therapist suggested I read Tara Brach’s book Radical Acceptance and helped me immensely in developing some equanimity. Something I had been seeking since I was a little girl.

And of course, there is Vietnamese Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. His books on finding peace within the present moment are some of the most accessible and beautiful out there.

I am sure I will write more about these topics in the coming weeks and months (maybe years – who knows!). If there is something specific you would like me to write about with regards to my exploration of simplicity and glamour, let me know!

Thank you for being a part of my journey.

The Desire Map – Best Option For You

What is the Desire Map?

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The Desire Map started out as a book, written by Danielle LaPorte. From there, it became the driver of over 500 book clubs around the world. At the heart of it all? A commitment to feeling good. Cynics would say that choosing to place your focus on feeling good is silly – maybe, even selfish.

But I (and thousands of other Desire Mappers around the globe) know better. Because who wants to live a life that doesn’t feel good?

Who wants to work in a job that sucks their life force?
Who wants to be in relationships where they don’t feel nourished and honoured?
Who wants to feel bored in their own life?
Not me. And I’m pretty sure, not you.

The Desire Map taught me how to make better choices by making decisions based on my core desired feelings. And that boils down to living a life that feels good to live.

I’ve watched this book inspire major transformation in my own life and in the lives of many others. I believe in this material — I know that it works.

Which is why… I took my passion for The Desire Map one step further. I have become an Official Licensed Facilitator of The Desire Map. Woo!

Continue reading “The Desire Map – Best Option For You”