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SESKA LEE Posts

All About Eve – Young Ladies & Old Broads

Like many of you I putter around the Internet and during my puttering I visit the celebrity gossip site Lainey Gossip. The gal who runs it is Canadian and has a voice and perspective I enjoy. It helps me feel connected to current pop culture. This desire for this connection might have to do with the main topic of this post. I feel like in my 40s I’m drowning in a sea of 20-somethings and their priorities (or those of mommies in mini-vans). I am feeling a little lost in our differences.

Recently Lainey posted two articles about comments young female artists (Lena Dunham and Nicki Minaj) made about how much respect they have for older artists in their field. Go read them before continuing.

With Lena Dunham it was the other women nominated at the Golden Globes for best female performance in a TV series  – musical or comedy: Zooey Deschanel, Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Amy Poheler.  I do not think Lena was making a dig at these actresses. In all her press she has been earnest. Extremely earnest. She also has spoken about how the show and it’s acclaim has given her validation and made her feel less alone. It has me wondering how little did she think of herself before if she needed an HBO show and Golden Globes to feel good about herself and belong. Very little, I guess. Or maybe very little yet thinks of herself often.

With Nicki it seems to be very snarky. She is a part of the TV show American Idol and it’s about nasty attitudes as much as it is about music. Nah, it’s more. I assume she and Mariah Carey have been instructed to bring the diva sides of their personalities to the show. People are expecting lots of snide comments during the live show and probably hoping for a cat fight or two with fistful of extensions flying everywhere. They are both over the top in their work, their marketing and their lifestyles so it makes sense that their feud would be vain caricature as well. I wish it was for the camp effect, but I think it isn’t. It’s too mean spirited.

Now, this is younger woman versus older woman thing is nothing new. The movie All About Eve comes to my mind. Margo Channing as portrayed by Bette Davis* is an aging Broadway Star and Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington who is a young fan that threatens her career and relationships.

I suppose it is human nature to compare and compete. We need to make judgments about things to survive. Choosing between young and old – it must be part of our reproductive and survival mechanisms. We also have this looking out for number one mentality. Personally, I wish I could live without it all. I do not like the way we manage this comparative judgement in my culture. Especially between women (and dudes, you are not off the hook here – it doesn’t happen in an XX vacuum).

My mother has told me many times that every age has its pleasures. The older I get the more I can see that. I walk down the street and see young women with worried expressions. I am sure their concerns are similar to mine at their age – worried about appearances and acceptance in an often superficial world. I remember I was pretty consumed by it. Now I feel much more free from it.

When you are a 21 year old woman you can turn most any straight man’s head – 12 to 102. This can mess with you. You get attention for your appearance and not much else. I don’t turn heads like I used to.**

My similarly aged friends and I laugh about it. We were so hard on ourselves as young women. How little did we know how our bodies would change and that those bodies at 20 that we struggled with so much (even hated) would be bodies we now admire in many ways. However, we also appreciate being able to focus on other things – like work, family, interests, creativity, organization – well, life – in ways we couldn’t when we were younger. This is more than a pleasure of being in our 40s. It’s a true release.

I think when you are a younger women and speak to an older women’s accomplishments either in an earnest or snarky way this says a lot about the insecurity of being young and figuring out your place in the world. You are used to looks being the way you are valued. You are used to being accepted based upon them as way to define your self-esteem.

As you get older you (hopefully) do not take yourself so seriously. You stop caring so much what other people think. But it’s a shame that you have to go through those early times of comparison – or perhaps it’s not so necessary. I cannot change how I behaved in the past or what my thinking was, but I can look at myself now and figure out what thoughts and actions are encouraging this young versus old and you versus me thinking and its consequences and change them.

Thinking cap on. More to come…

PS – Men are not immune to this young versus old comparison, but the older men seem to come up on top more often. Lainey  wrote a post comparing the release of new material by Justin Timberlake and David Bowie.***

* Bette Davis was 42 when she was in All About Eve. I am turning 42 this February. Coincidence? Hmmm.

** Street harassment continues. It knows no age and it is vile. See this video for some ideas on how to handle it.

*** I adore the new song.

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RHH Live

RHH Live is a weekend conference created by Marie Forleo.

The conference began on Friday afternoon with a meet and greet. I chatted with a few of the women there (as you might have guessed RHH Live is geared towards women). This turned out to be key to the second part of my NYC adventure as the lovely Denise-Marie of Glitter The Globe helped me out in a BIG WAY when Hurricane Sandy hit and I was stranded in NYC for 5 extra days.

Josh Pais was our first speaker and he led us through very physical and emotional exercises that explored how to be present in our bodies without getting all caught up in our messy, racing minds. It’s something I have been working on and having some more tools in my toolbox is much appreciated. He has a free audio training about these strategies. Perfect for when I am lost in my thoughts. If you get lost in your thoughts – or as we say in French dans la lune it might be perfect for you too.

I had dinner Friday night at Prune in the East Village. I was lucky to get a seat because the place is small and fills up quickly. Understandably so because the food is damn good and service top notch. Reservations highly recommended. When I got back to my hotel I spent 90 minutes waiting on the phone to change my flight to Sunday at 8pm. I thought I was safe. Little did I know.

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Big Feelings

Today, I was debating if and how to write about my tendencies when it comes to sex, love and relationships. I have some new insights about them, but I am not quite ready to share them as sharing them is one of my tendencies. As I sat at my computer I was confused and hesitant (still am) so I decided to check out my Twitter feed to see what people were up to. There I found an article that piqued my interest and inspired me to write a sex-ed type commentary about it. Well, that then turned into a personal type post. I was back where I started, but looking in a different direction.

Yep, I love how writing can do that.

I came across an article by Charlie Glickman about his experience with testosterone. It’s a great personal piece on this physical aspect of being biologically male, but I got more from it than just an appreciation for how testosterone can affect the body and the mind. He ends the piece with thoughts on managing impulses and feelings. This jumped out at me.

As an example, if I see someone I find attractive, it can feel like my impulse to look at them is beyond my control. It’s no wonder that so many cultures try to manage men’s sexualities by controlling women’s behavior. After all, if I can’t control myself, then external circumstances need to be controlled so I don’t get set off. The difference, of course, is that it can feel like things are beyond my control without that actually being true. We need to hold onto both of those pieces at the same time if we’re going to make any positive changes. We need to acknowledge how things feel AND the deeper truth that our feelings don’t always reflect what’s happening outside of our heads. When we can do that, we can support learning better tools with which to respond to our feelings.

I really appreciated this comment of his. It’s about recognizing certain realities about sexuality, but also the stories we tell ourselves about it, and responding with care and compassion – not control or suppression.

These past few years have mainly been for me about learning healthy strategic ways to respond to my big strong feelings. In the past I was an escape artist. Sometimes I would literally run away when things felt intense – even good feelings would have me do that because they brought about anxiety and fear of the unknown (like when I was falling for someone new).

Another favourite was to dull feelings with heavy carb meals. When I was  feeling overwhelmed I ate what I called my white diet – toast for breakfast, pancakes and syrup for lunch, and mashed potatoes and gravy for supper. This was comfort food gone extreme. I would end up cuddled in bed avoiding people, feelings – life.

Booze also was another part of my escape artistry. I can be very tightly wound up and booze helped me let go. I felt I deserved the alcohol induced release because I was so good at being a ‘good girl’ in my sober times. But the feeling of release was fake and short lived. When I am drunk often my emotions overwhelm me even more and this has led to unpleasant and destructive social consequences (saying things I do not truly mean, hurting friends’ feelings) – not every time but enough times to damage my image and some friendships. Part of me wishes I didn’t care but I do. I am human and I am a social creature and need to be connected to others. Plus, the negative physical stuff that happens the next day –  my body hates that I went beyond 2 drinks – have left me out of life’s activities in a different way.

It took me a while to come to terms on how all this escaping was only temporary. I would always be right back with uncomfortable feelings (inadequacy, anger, fear) plus some additional ones (shame, guilt and sadness). What an awesome cycle.

Now, being an escape artist is not my go-to strategy. Yes, my feelings are as intense as ever, but I am not so afraid of them. I can tolerate them. I can even explore them. I acknowledge them and look at them with a non-judgemental eye. By sitting with my feelings without reacting to them (even I just pause for a moment) I experience compassion for myself as well as others.

And consequently I don’t fuck things up as much as used to. definitely a much better strategy than being an escape artist.

As I was writing that last bit I took a break and checked my Twitter feed. I came across another great article from someone I follow. This time it is from a Buddhist perspective. It jumped at me because it was about the consequences of reactivity versus responsiveness. Oh! Convergence! Another thing that I love when it happens!

When we feel these negative feelings, it’s extremely difficult to respond to life because we are too busy reacting to our painful emotions. On the other hand, when we respond to life, we take the time to quiet our minds and silence the noise before we offer our words of wisdom.

Of course, we don’t set out to hurt others with our words, especially those whom we love. Hurtful words come from hurting hearts, and although we think it will feel better once it’s out, it never does.

The author of this article suggests taking a break when a strong negative emotion occurs, breathe very deeply and with the exhale letting out the all the noise and with the next inhale to replace it with a positive affirmation. I can see the beauty and power in this and I have used this kind of breathing before. However, recently I found something that seems to work even better for me. If you also deal with big strong feelings, maybe it will help you.

Its called Tonglen Meditation. I read about it in the book If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path. Briefly, Tonglen Meditation is a breathing practice where as you inhale you take in suffering and as you exhale you breathe out compassion. When I have those big strong feelings I now use this breathing technique and it helps transform my feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, sadness and hurt into care, relaxation, clarity and comfort.

So, now let me bring this back to sexuality. :-)

Sexual feelings can be strong. We can feel overpowered by them. Not only the randy ‘I want to get it on’ feelings, but those that surround sexuality – like anxiety, shame, judgement, embarrassment, and fear. Taking a moment to feel those feelings can help you manage them and change them into something more positive and satisfying. Escaping them, hiding from them or pretending they do not exist will only make things worse.

I know this seems like common sense, but from my own experience and from those of many readers who share their stories with me, it’s all too easy to get stuck in the avoidance techniques rather than the recognition ones. I am not sure why we stick with the ones that make things worse rather than better. Maybe because we are taught the harmful ones rather than the healing ones. I find now that I am learning other ways of dealing with big strong feelings and impulses, I am rather at peace with myself. I still have desires and goals. I know not everything is as I wish it to be (not by a long shot), but I am inspired and empowered.

Mindfulness has me quite excited. I think looking at how it can play a role in a satisfying sex life is very intriguing.  If you have explored mindfulness as a part of your sexuality or in your life in general, I would love to hear from you in the comments. And if you have questions, let’s explore them together.

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Back Online

It’s Friday night. I’m in my new apartment. I’m using my computer and the Internet.

Finally.

I did enjoy my break from technology though it wasn’t a total one. I used up a bunch of data by using my iPhone excessively. Thankfully, I have a good package. But yeah, I wasn’t really as offline as I could of been. On the other hand, I was without cable so I didn’t watch TV at all. That was rather nice. I liked it mostly because the decrease in tech use allowed me to fully unpack and get settled into my new place. Not a box is left.

Such a relief.

I have been here since July 1st and it’s been amazing. I am so glad I moved. The new status? Me, Rufus and Martha. Happy as clams (Hey – why are we like clams when we are happy? Someone tell me. I need to know). I have been enjoying the quietude of my new space, the lack of renovations and no workmen knocking on my door at 730am. Not to mention no more rude building managers that made me ever so anxious.

The cats have settled in too. They have been enjoying the new sights and sounds.

Unfortunately, being offline computer-wise though has meant I am behind in B-School. Thankfully, the resources will always be available and I don’t think I have lost momentum. I am still inspired. I just have to figure out how to schedule some class time for myself. As I learned early on from Marie Forleo – if it’s not scheduled it’s not real.

And why am I unsure how to schedule my time?

I have a job.

I have worked for myself for so long – building websites, creating porn, producing shows and writing. It was always based on my needs and my schedule. Now I am no longer doing the at-home office thing. I am getting up early, taking a shower, putting on proper clothes (not staying in a housedress or PJs), packing a lunch and taking the Metro to the office. 9-5 is obviously pretty common place, but it is not something I have done in 15 years. This past week has been an adjustment.  A stimulating, exciting adjustment. Technically, I am still an independent contractor, but now I go elsewhere to work and I am working on someone else’s projects.

Super neat.

Indeed, these past two months have seen a lot of changes for me. I did a huge purge of papers and belongings, I moved to a new place,  I gave up some bad habits (I will blog about that in the future as it certainly is its own topic), I started B School and came up with a new vision for my websites (also a bit of a renewal of an old one)  that matches well with how I feel as I get further along in my forties. And I am helping others create a dream project.

I finally feel like I’m building a strong foundation for my life.

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Release & Embrace

Happy Monday everyone! It feels like a happy one for me. The sun is up. The sky is bright and blue. I made myself a cup of delicious coffee. I had to grind the beans myself because I forgot to do it yesterday at the awesome 100% organic shop near my place, but that’s OK. It’s also a happy Monday because I woke up to two cats inches from my face and their whiskers grazing my nose. Sure, I wanted to sleep some more. I had gone to bed the night before at 12:30AM and it was 6:43AM. More sleep was needed. However, it is a happy feeling to be needed and those cats need me.

Other happy things for me on this day is I followed up on some advice I got from a personalized reading with Ophira of www.astrostyle.com.  I ordered the book Astrology for the Soul by Jan Spiller which explores the North and South Nodes of the Moon in astrological charts. Now, if astrology is not for you, that’s fine. However, I think you should keep reading anyway because it brought be some great insights. You may not agree with the way in which I got them, but I think you might appreciate the insights themselves. I know I have.

So, during my reading Ophira explained to me what the North and South Nodes of the Moon represent in your astrological chart – something I was not familiar with. As soon as I had it explained to me I knew this was amazing information that could change my life. Really. And it is one that fits with all the other amazing, yet often painful, insights I have been having in my personal growth work, therapy and from the other resources I have been learning from.

As my regular readers know I have been in a state of flux. I ended my marriage in 2010, I had a very messy rebound relationship, and I have been at a loss regarding what to do professionally. My previous ways and ideas have not been working for me for a long time. Like a sweater that once fit but no longer does. I was in need of something new and sized for me as I am now. Yes, these old skills and thought processes may have served me well in the past, but not anymore. So what is up with that? Looking at the South and North Nodes of my astrological chart helped me see what was/is going.

The South Node reveals the gifts that you bring into this lifetime, your sweet spot, your comfort zone. You will be innately good in these areas of life, and may begin your early path based on your South Node leanings. While this can bring a sense of satisfaction, it is unlikely to elevate you to Blissville. There’s a sense of “been there, done that” in the field of South Node activities. And indeed you have: in many past lifetimes.
The North Node is the exact opposite. It illuminates the terrain that’s calling your name, but climbing to the peak of this mountain is like trekking up Mt. Everest. You’ll have to lighten up your baggage and enlist a proverbial Sherpa to get you up that hill. It’s your learning curve. North Node activities require you to stretch out of your comfort zone. Once you do, you’ll be amazed by how fulfilled you feel. It’s like the activation of your life’s mission. The sooner you align yourself with this path, the more purpose-driven your life will become.
Ophira and Tali of Astro Style

And for me specifically that means I need to release these traits:  attention-seeking, the desire for drama and materialism, and embrace these traits: team spiritedness, a sense of purpose and sustainable living.

Indeed! It all it makes sense!

I have explored with my therapist how easy it is for me to be a sexy superstar, how easy it is for me to get caught up in drama. It feeds me, but only on a furious, energetic ego driven level. It does not bring me happiness. It does not bring me a sense of calm. It brings me the exact opposite. It drives me bonkers. Still, getting out of my comfort zone feels to me much like the physical growing pains of adolescence, lots of ouch combined with its meant to be. It feels uncomfortable but it feels right.

Is it not interesting that I as struggled with what I find is easy but unfulfilling that I joined the board of directors for Head and Hands – a not profit organization that provides health, legal and social services for people 12-25? Is it not interesting that I have been trying to bring the burlesque community together and support emerging artists with projects like the Montreal Burlesque Social Club and Acme Burlesque? Is it not interesting that I felt stifled by limiting my online activities and created the more eros oriented site Seska for Lovers and the informative article based site Seskuality to broaden my horizons and those of my website visitors?

Indeed! It all it makes sense!

I am very much looking forward to getting the book. I want to learn more about this release and embrace. I know at my core I must continue doing it because when I do it I feel like I am wearing a cozy sweater that was made to order, made with lots of love too.  Ah, fashion as spiritual analogy. What fun!

Please leave a comment if any of this resonates with you. I share my struggles and my successes with you because I love the connection this wild world wide web offers us.  I love it when you share your experiences with me!

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Cuba Vacation

I was away! I went on vacation! I didn’t use a computer and I only texted to let my friends and family know I arrived safely (OK, I also sent a couple of friends some texts about my observations). But still it was quite a tech free time. Instead, I spent my days reading, writing and swimming. I spent my nights looking at the stars and sleeping (having such wild and vivid dreams).

I stayed at a small resort. I think their maximum capacity is 80 people. There were about 40 when I went. Mostly seniors as well as a few younger couples and a handful of single men who expected a much more ‘fun’ resort. They approached me, not understanding that A) I was there alone B) that I wanted to be left alone and C) how to leave me alone. I had to be blunt. It was the only unpleasant thing about my trip. The rest was exactly as I wanted it to be.

I wanted to be away from the singles-on-vacation scene. I had no desire for bars, discos and shows. I wanted to get away so I could regroup, think, process.  I wanted to give my broken heart some respite. It was the perfect trip for that. I journalled A LOT. I will go through it and see if I can find some goodies to share. In the meantime here are some photos.

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New Photos – New Beginning

I did a photoshoot this weekend with Hausmann Photography. She specializes in pin-up, burlesque and boudoir photography. It was the first shoot in a long time where I felt truly comfortable in my own skin. An amazing experience.

seska lee - glamour 2012 -1055

It’s been 14 years since I created my personal website, 14 years of taking photos and videos and sharing them online. The experience has been ever changing. Technology has changed so much and I have changed too. So many ebbs and flows. I love having this documentation though at times I also struggle with it. It’s challenging to have over provocative 50k pics of yourself at so many stages of your adult life (from the age of 27 to 41), at different stages of fitness  (I was at my fittest when I ran a 21k [2006] and at my least fit when I was put on prednisone for my PCH [2002] and more recently when I was depressed and anxious post-separation) and at different stages of emotional well-being (I can look at a pic and know where I was in my head and heart at that point in my life – it’s wild) .

seska lee - glamour 2012 - tank top -1346

Now, I’m starting to get back to the body I feel is right for me. It’s determined by how clothes fit and how I carry myself on a day to day level. It’s one that is created by my own internal desire for health and vitality and not from an outside source of influence or someone ‘encouraging’ me to work out for a business goal. My personal website had my body be my tool for making my living (and someone else’s) and it caused me way too much turmoil. It was a consequence I did not see coming when I started my website. It was one I had to learn the hard way and one I’m still adjusting to as I figure who I am as an online personality, blogger, model, and performer.

I feel myself being pulled in a new direction. More to come.

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Endings Lead to New Beginnings and I Am Afraid

I have been trying to figure out where my malaise is coming from. I have been sleeping so much and having a deep desire to disappear. I have been experiencing some anxiety and physical discomfort, but mostly I have felt stuck, still, passive, inert – dead. The only desire I have had is the desire to fade far into my dreams and away from my reality.  I have felt like this for a number of weeks. I was feeling so on the ball, so focused and excited in January and part of February and then heighten emotion hit me and then I froze.

The truth of my situation came upon me and I am scared. That is what it is. I am feeling a sense of healing and closure coming with regards to the end of my marriage and I am seeing the trainwreck of my rebound relationship truly for what it was and coming to terms with that.

Now, an unknown future lies before me and I am terrified.

In my darkest moments I feel as if there is nothing good and true  ‘out there’ for me. I am not smart enough, quiet enough, calm enough, strong enough, assertive enough, balanced enough,  and most definitely good enough to deserve anything of value in my life.  These are my darkest moments and wow, did I ever have that one last night.

This morning the darkness lingered, but I decided to think of my new toolbox.

It’s an invisible one filled with thoughts and actions that bring me an understanding to the suffering that is life and provides me with radical acceptance and even if I am sad, lonely, or angry I feel something deep inside myself resonate with a sense of YES.

YES to everything.

I cannot forget my toolbox again.

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The Power of Hugs

I came across a short article on how to maintain a satisfying libido. Even if you are flying solo like me this is an important read. I truly believe if you don’t use it you lose it so staying physically and mentally healthy helps you keep that drive up.  You never know when you may need it. ;-)

One of the tips…

Hug Therapy

Love a good rub down? You’re not the only one. Some studies have shown that men need to be touched two to three times more frequently than women in order to maintain the same level of oxytocin, the sexy bonding hormone.

Without frequent touch, your brain’s circuits and receptors can feel starved for dopamine, the feel-good hormone. Hugging and cuddling feed and reinforce those connection circuits, ensuring lovey-dovey feelings and hot romps. Even if you’re not in the mood now, a sensual back rub or loving massage can get you there, pronto.

Have You Seen My Libido (Healthy Bitch Daily)
L. Lou Paget

Oxytocin has a complicated reputation, but even if you don’t take that particular hormone into consideration I think that the power of touch, hugs, cuddles and other kinds of close contact is pretty substantial.  I know I need hugs and now that I live alone and don’t go out frequently I am without them and I miss them. There is something so comforting about snuggling with someone you love. Yep, I definitely miss it. I cuddle with the cats, but that is its own thing and definitely doesn’t lead to happy sexy feelings.

I think though non-sexual, non-romantic hugs are important to one’s well-being and that good feeling you get from them can have sexual benefits – it can make you feel better about yourself. I find I go out of my way to ask for them when I am feeling blue or just in need of a good squeeze. These kinds of hugs are not about sex, but they are about comfort and that helps me stay positive and upbeat. I have a couple of guy friends who are tall and teddy bear like. They give great hugs. I love the felling of being held with such substance. One is my friend’s has a boyfriend who is an amazing hugger and I ask her permission first. It feels a bit silly, but she knows he gives good hugs and is happy to share it with her friends.  My girlfriends give good hugs too though they are wee hugs. ;-)

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Me with my friend Halcyon who runs a live broadcast called Hug Nation

Check out the article for more suggestions on how to feel good in general and how to specifically keep your sexual drive a-going.

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New Year – New Me – Not Exactly

My New Year’s Eve experience was not at all like I expected. I was worried I would sad or nostalgic, but I wasn’t. Working was a good idea. It kept me focused, but not distracted. I was with my colleagues and we did our thing. The night’s performances and appearances were spaced out so it made the night rather long though. We were upstairs in an office which basically was a series of alcoves with a large opening in the middle towards downstairs. It was very warm upstairs and made me and others not feel terribly well. That I think added to the long feeling of the night. In the end I did not feel terribly festive but not at all sad, lonely or depressed. I was in a pleasant mood and I felt OK. That was nice.

After we rang in the New Year I went over to my favourite bar for a private party. It was 1ish and everyone was way ahead of me drink wise. I had no plans on catching up, but over the course of a few hours I had three beers and a couple of shots and I ended up more than a little tipsy. I was still in my pleasant mood. I chatted and I laughed. I tried to make sense of what my drunk friends were saying to me.  Nothing terribly crazy. It was a good time.

For Christmas my sister got me a workbook for resolutions. I think she was giving me a hint. I have been rather lost these past two years and I have certainly felt like I am going through some major internal changes.  I have an artist’s sensibility and enjoy exploring . Different things interest me at different times. Now, I do live in the real world and I have goals and plans. For a bit though I need to go inwards and evaluate myself and my life.

There has been one thing in particular I have learned about myself. While I am a dreamer and a creative person, I also have a very sensible serious side.  However, it can be overly strict – a perfectionist of sorts. When I do not live up with my ideas of perfection I feel like a total failure. It’s ALL OR NOTHING for me. Good person or bad person.  Saint or sinner. Selfish or altruistic.  I cannot be both. I must only be one. Every mistake I make is perceived as something that will cause the world and its inhabitants suffering and I am the tipping point for its demise. It’s a twisted form of delusions of grandeur.

This past year I have been exploring this way of thinking and deconstructing it. I have looked at the emotional pieces that make up this way of thinking and started creating new pieces. These pieces are strong yet gentle. They support me and fill me.  I am finding what was so elusive, what I so craved – emotional and physical equanimity. It is such a blessing.

I did fill out the resolution book with general things I wish to do in terms of my finances (pay down the debt I accumulated this past year) and my health. The love and sex part was left blank. I am not inspired at the moment to tackle that one.  A little more internal work needs to be done I think. There were also other parts of the workbook I did not fill out. It has a section for rewards and punishments. I already have those. If I do not pay my credit card down I will have consequences. Awful phone calls.  The reward is the awesome feeling I will have from not being financially burdened. I will be able to save up for something special. I will have that ever so strong feeling of balance.

There were a few books that have had a major impact on me this past year and along with weekly therapy have brought me to this more stable, kind emotional place and are helping me along physically as well.

Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr. I got this book at the beginning of last year and it introduced me to the joy and power of green juicing as well as so much more. There are amazing exercises that helped me listen to my body and figure  out why I was eating what I was eating and when. It helped me get away from the computer and into the world. I started to meditate and do yoga again. I took long walks and I was still. Later, getting a TV and some bad news made me backslide into mindless escaping again. Time to get the juicer out again and be still every morning before getting on with my day.

The EveryGirl’s Guide to Life by Maria Menounos. Many celebrities write how to books and I suppose one could just lump hers with the rest, but I cannot. Her approach is very do-it-yourself, but not do-it-on-your-own. She believes in the power of allies. She also has great organizational tips that suit most any budget. I have implemented many of them (I still have a few to go) and it has made my life easier and I can actually focus on my passions. Overall, I suppose it’s her think big yet keep it simple, be true to yourself and your values, approach that resonated with me.

Magical Housekeeping by Tess Whitehurst.  I loved the book’s way of explaining Feng Shui. I used her tips to help organize my apartment and get energy flowing. I also like her rituals and tasks to help this along. Its a good way for me to focus on the intangible things that I value and release things that are bogging me down. She has a great blog with new activities  every couple of weeks.

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. This book has been recommended to me by my therapist. We have discussed many of the things from the book over the two years I have seen her, but it was only recently that I got a copy and dived into the words of wisdom. I have received a great deal over the years from Buddhist teachings. The idea of impermanence is one that I have struggled with though. In part I do know at my core that all things, good and bad feelings included, are not permanent, but I think the little girl in me finds hurt so unbearable that she created a system to avoid it. A very flawed system and the hurt always come back.  The book explores alternatives to our flawed systems with the new system begin one of exploration and curiosity. In a short time it has done me wonders. I am getting so much from the book. So much!

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Forgiveness

How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I am getting there. I can feel it. Terribly interesting experience. Edging towards a dullness and seeing the ashes blowing away in the breeze.

He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.

Thomas Fuller

It is something I must do for myself. Even if forgiveness for my transgressions (perceived or otherwise) will never be given to me. I am realizing what belongs to me and what does not. And I need to let go of what doesn’t.

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Juice Cleanse

A few people had asked about the juice cleanse I’m doing this week so I thought I would write a little bit about it. For six days I am consuming nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juices (mostly vegetable) and getting daily colonics as well as engaging in other cleansing activities (dry brushing, Epsom salt baths and neti pot nasal irrigation). It’s a supervised cleanse with an experienced colon irrigation specialist and holistic nutritionist.

I decided to do it after we discussed various forms of fasting and cleansing in one of my nutrition classes. I have been eating very poorly or at least nutritionally inconsistently for the last few years and especially so since my separation. I know for myself that a cleanse or limited diet that clears the slate so to speak helps me get back to healthy eating and exercise patterns. I did it back when I was training for a half marathon and had awesome results (food cravings gone, no more asthma and loads of energy). I really need to get back in that place.

After my cleanse I’m going to continue to see a holistic nutritionist to address my issues (pms, asthma, and food cravings) and have her help me develop the optimal diet for me.

About the nitty gritty of the cleanse: it’s doable for me as it is 6 days of juicing bookend by days of transition eating. I do find I’m a bit hungry but not intolerably so. I consume water with psylium and bentonite clay 4 times a day which helps me feel full and pushes and scrapes things along in my colon. The juices themselves are not too bad though I have been experimenting with different combinations and some have not turned out so well. Keeping it simple helps: cucumber, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, and ginger is my favorite.

As for the colonics they feel odd but not painful. I have tremendous amount of bloating in my abdomen and I’m noticing an improvement in that. Same thing with under eye bags (which have been the bane of my existence for quite some time but in the past year have really become huge) and with my breathing.

I’m drinking a lot of fluid so I am peeing often. Very often. Number 2, poop or as I like to call it BMs are just fine. I’m pretty happy and regular in that department on any given day but they have changed with the colonics but nor in any detrimental way. I cannot believe I wrote about poop in my blog. A first! And let’s hope a last. Again, I’m a pretty healthy person when it comes to that department and I have to admit I do talk about it with appropriate friends and family members but it’s not something I journal about. Though you do end up thinking about it more than ever during a cleanse and when people hear the word colonic they just have to know the nitty gritty details. This is the best I can do. ;)

I have three more days to go. I looking forward to eating and chewing. I am looking forward to more variety in terms of flavoured and textures. But three more days of juicing I can do as long as I hang out at home, do my yoga and not watch any cooking shows!

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Having a Rough Time

I have been having a rough time of it lately. I am dealing with lots of grief over the end of my marriage. I think it is because it has been one year and I am reflecting on what I have experienced so far. The pain that I didn’t deal with, couldn’t deal with, is re-emerging. I am having all sorts of dreams about it. Usually sleep and dreams are such a refuge for me. It doesn’t feel that way right now.

There is more to the situation than I am saying. I want to protect his privacy. But I can say that I am feeling so sad and powerless. It is overwhelming at times and I am having trouble functioning. This feeling brings back memories when I was in crisis and was living with so much fear and despair. So that makes it all worse.

One of the things I do when I experience a strong negative emotion is run away. I think of people who have it worse than me as a form of rationalizing my pain away. Escaping – I cannot do that anymore because it does not help me. It makes things worse. The pain comes out and it is worse than before. It is tainted with anger, bitterness and envy. So now I am sitting with my feelings. I acknowledge them. I let myself cry. I breathe. I treat myself with kindness. It’s really a new way of dealing with things for me. It’s going to take me some time to change my instincts and my behaviour.

The last few days have been particularly dark. I lost my appetite and I was often overcome with tears. I was worried I was going to slip back into how I felt in late 2009. Then last night by chance I went to see what Halycon was up to on his Hug Nation channel. I read a post of his that the current entry was about relationships. I always enjoy his insights so I clicked and listened. It was helpful.

It got me thinking that I need a plan, that I need to develop my map towards happiness. I thought of the things I have done in the past that make me feel grounded. I thought of the things that make me feel hopeful and loving. I thought of things that make me feel part of the flow of energy. I am going to take some time today to privately journal and develop this a bit more.

I am sure I will always feel pain and sadness, but how I handle this is changing. It has quite a bit this past year and it will continue to do so.

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Crazy Sexy Diet Cleanse

I am on Day 4 of my 21 Day Crazy Sexy Diet Cleanse by Kris Carr. I feel great today. I had some withdrawal-detox headaches and a crazy runny nose on Tuesday and Wednesday, but that seems to have subsided or even gone away. I neti potted today and it as the best it has ever been. I have issues with asthma and allergies. I have cleaned up my diet before and it helped to greatly improve my breathing and diminish my symptoms to almost none. My diet has absolutely sucked this past year (part of my whole rebelling against my past thing) and my body is suffering because of it. It was one of the physical reasons I knew I need to clean up my diet again. Anyway, when I neti potted today it just flowed like a waterfall immediately as I started. It felt awesome.

One of the reasons I am doing the Crazy Sexy Diet 21 Day cleanse is beyond the physical. It is to get me back on track. Or rather I feel like I just figured out where the track is and I am ready to get on it. My track – not anyone else’s. After a year of rebelling and trying all sorts of things, of hiding, of escaping, of tuning out – I feel I know myself better. I know what I value more than ever before. I know what I want in my life. I feel like its time to put the focus on me and living the life I want to lead.

Great what a bit of a nervous breakdown, a year of therapy and and whole lot trial and error will do to a gal.

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Warrior 2 Past Present & Future

Warrior Two is my favourite yoga pose. I had an instructor tell me that when you are in Warrior Two pose you have one part of you looking at the past and all you have done, seen and learned, another part of you firmly in the present, living in the moment, and another part of you looking towards the future. It really resonated with me. The pose feels good physically and emotionally for me.

I have dabbled in yoga for a few years. I regularly took a class at the YMCA. I have had a membership at a fantastic studio called Breathe. I have done yoga at home. I have done yoga outside. I have done it with friends. What I have not done is do it consistently for more than 1 year. This lack of consistency is a thread that runs through my whole life from childhood until now. This is something I want to change. Not just with yoga but with all aspects of my life. I know I need spontaneity and such too, but I cannot live with only that. It is very draining and damaging. It is one reason I have been so out of sorts. Of course, I cannot expect for it to change over night. It is something I need to build over time.

When I think about consistency I think of words such as routine, regime, schedule and practice. And practice is the word I like best because it implies a work in progress and I like that. It also can be applied to individual interests and activities and the whole of who I am.

Today I also did the most yoga I have done in maybe two years. Today’s poses.

4 Sun Salutations
1 Mountain Pose
1 Forward Bend
2 Triangle Poses
1 Forward Bend
2 Warrior Two Poses
1 Mountain Pose
2 Tree Poses
1 Sitting Forward Bend
3 Cow and Cat Combo
1 Child Pose

I have been adding 1 Sun Salutation a day. I am doing it flow style so it took me about twenty minutes to do this series today, but I am going to hold them longer and I would like to have a 30 minute practice by next week. I listen to spa style music with birds chirping in the background and I find it both relaxing and invigorating.

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Home Is Where the Quiet Space Is

Moving out on my own has been an interesting experience. I realized quite quickly that I am very protective of my space. It is my sanctuary. I felt at home right away, but it has taken me months to get settled. Mostly, because of finances, as I have had to buy a piece of furniture one at a time. It is not quite fully furnished, much less decorated, but it is on its way. I am thinking in a month’s time, after the Montreal Burlesque Festival, I will be ready to have people over for a housewarming.

It feels weird to have one. I feel my situation is not one that deserves celebration. It has been so painful. However, this new chapter is not only about the end of my marriage and all the hurt that surrounds this. It is truly about figuring out who I am and what I want. Listening intently to what my insides tell me – my  inner voice which while full of fear, anxiety and anger is also filled with hope, desire and amazement; listening to my body which is slowly melting from its frozen, numb, paralyzed state. Its reactions tell me things too – to slow down, to breathe, and to be gentle.

Being quiet in my little home is helpful even though it will take some time for it to be how I envision it to be. Like much of my life right now I want to skip ahead two years from now to a time when my heart will be healed, my work back on track and my apartment fully furnished and decorated (oh, and actually have some savings again). Nope. It doesn’t work that way. You need to live life not fast forward through it. I need to go through this difficult time so I can grow, be strong and feel like I am in control of my life – a full participant anyway – and not this walking dead person I often feel I am (my hurt is complex and deep – I had no idea how much there was until recently). So I need to go through this, all of this tending of wounds, so someday soon I will have more confidence and my inner voice will merge with my outer voice and be strong and true. I don’t think it has ever been, but I hope it will be one day.

Back to my sanctuary. I finally finished making the drawers for my cabinet. I will need another one, but it is a start. Over the next day or two I plan on going through a few boxes, sorting things, purging some and filing the rest. Hopefully there will be more purging than filing. I want to keep my space simple and open.

Working from home as well as having a hobby like burlesque makes for too many possessions. I have rid myself of half my costumes and only kept the pieces I use often and are of good quality. Now I need to do much the same with my papers. I need to keep only the things that truly matter.

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Eat Pray Love

I had more than one friend tell me I should read Eat Pray Love. I saw it at the airport one time soon after I left my now-ex-husband. I read the back of it and put it down right away. It was not a good time to read it. I was still in full crisis mode. I was falling apart daily. Every cell of my body was fighting to keep its cohesion. I needed to survive, not ponder my survival.

I figured I was ready this summer to read it and I think I was right. It was a great cottage read. Only 352 pages, I got through it in under 12 hours (in between naps, many bagels and a few relaxing swims in the lake). My friends told me they found the author was narcissistic for ending her marriage for no real reason and that she came across as whiny. I can see why they said that. However, I recognized her pain right away. I think it is hard to understand a meltdown unless you have had one – especially when it involves the end of a very meaningful relationship (like the near 17 year one I had with my ex), of never being alone once in your adult life (like the author I have not been single since my first boyfriend at age 18), of feeling absolutely aware of your past choices, but still needing something altogether different in the here and now (I do not regret my past, I was a full participant, but I need to be and do differently).

The beginning of the book was tough for me. It reflected much of what I have gone through these past months – the end of my marriage, a dramatic rebound relationship, and the desire to be myself on my own terms, but not quite sure how to do that. It took the author a few years for her divorce to become final and only later did she take a year off to travel. I am just at the beginning of my journey. I do not have expectation of focusing on pleasure, spirituality and then finding love. I do see though that next few years will be ones of growth and new experiences. I do not want to recreate the author’s journey (as some women seem to try to do – there are Eat pray Love Bali tours – eek!). I am quite excited by my own.

In any case, here are a few passages from early on in the book that resonated strongly with me.

The many reasons I didn’t want to be this man’s wife anymore are too personal and too sad to share here. Much of it had to do with my problems but a good portion of our troubles were related to his issues, as well. That’s only natural; there are always two figures in a marriage, after all – two votes, two opinions, two conflicting sets of decisions, desires and illuminations. But I don’t think it’s appropriate  for me to discuss his issues in my book. Nor would I ask anyone to believe that I am capable of reporting an unbiased version of our story, and therefore the chronicle of our marriage’s failure will remain untold here. I also will not discuss  here all the reasons why I did still want to be his wife, or all his wonderfulness, or why I loved him and why i married him and why I was unable to imagine a life without him. I won’t open any of that. let it be sufficient to say that, on this night, he was still my lighthouse and my albatross in equal measure. The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving.
pg 12

And then there was David.

All the complications and trauma of those early divorce years were multiplied by the drama of David – the guy I fell in love with as I was taking leave of my marriage. Did I say that I “I fell in love” with David? What I meant to say is that i dove out of my marriage and into David’s arms exactly the same way a cartoon circus performer dives off a high platform and into a small cup of water, vanishing completely. I clung to David for escape from marriage as if he were the last helicopter pulling out of Saigon. I inflicted upon him my every hope for my salvation and happiness. And yes,  I did love him. But if I could think of a stronger word that “desperately” to describe how I loved David, I would use that word here, and desperate love is always the toughest way to do it.
David and I met because he was performing in a play based on short stories I had written. He was playing a character I had invented, which is somewhat telling. In desperate love, it’s always like this, isn’t it? In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding that they be what we need them to be, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the we created in the first place.
pg 18

I tried to talk about our separation, but all we did was fight. He let me know that I was a liar and a traitor and that he hated me and would never speak to me again.
pg 19

I thought I had fallen to bits before, but now (in harmony with the apparent collapse of the entire world) my life really turned to smash. I wince now to think of what I imposed on David during those months we lived together, right after 9/11 and my separation from my husband. Imagine his surprise to discover that the happiest, most confident woman he’d ever met was actually – when you got her alone – a murky hole of bottomless grief. Once again, I could not stop crying. This is when he started to retreat, and that’s when I saw the other side of my passionate romantic hero – the David who was solitary as a castaway, cool to the touch, in need of more personal space than a herd of American bison.
pg 20

There are a bunch more about her feeling towards her ex husband and David, a bunch more about her mixed emotions during her period of self discovery (such as pages 23, 31, 46, 51, 65, 95, 146). There are a fair amount of a similarities, but I don’t think I am trying to force my life to match hers. Like I said I am not going on any Eat Pray Love tours. However, it was good to read about a woman’s divorce and the messy process of dealing with it and coming into her own. I am the first of my friends to divorce so it was reassuring to find some comfort in another woman’s words.

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