Skip to content

Tag: fear

Equanimity

I’m obsessed with equanimity. It’s an often sought out thing, but a little used word. And it’s the word I want tattooed onto my body because I value equanimity so much.

Equanimity is a mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

For much of my life – until I entered therapy when I was 39 – I struggled with finding any bit of peace within myself. I was always in panic mode. Always dealing with low and high levels of anxiety. Always trying to control things outside of myself (impossible and so so so draining) in order to avoid feeling my troubling or scary feelings.

It took much work to find ways to nurture a sense of calm and composure no matter what comes my way. The waves of emotion did not disappear. I learned to ride them.

The less I implode or explode these feelings that I am “not allowed to feel”, the more of a moderate relationship I have with them. – Alanis Morisette

This is why I want a tattoo with the word. But where? My friend Christelle is very good at small freestyle tattoos. I will book time with her in 2017 and I’m sure she will help me find the perfect spot.

PS I wrote a blog post a while back on how nurture equanimity within myself.

1 Comment

A Revelation

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

Big breath. OK, here goes.

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

seska lee headshot 2

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

2016-08-29 17.48.42-2

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

Why I Cut My Hair

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Why the Wigs?

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

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

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

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

Why I Stopped Dying My Hair

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

I ended up loving it.

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

So Why the Big Reveal?

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

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

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

Me with shortish dyed hair.

2013-11-22 01.09.03

2014-03-31 18.07.16

March 2014

2014-06-17 11.52.44

Then with the dyed pixie.

2014-11-14 14.08.23

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

2014-11-14 14.10.31-1

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

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

2015-04-23 17.34.05-1

April 2015

Finally all natural.

2015-07-05 07.53.19

July 2015

2015-09-16 12.04.55

September 2015

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

12 Comments

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.

Leave a Comment

Avoiding Pain

I have circled around this for a few months (actually years but very specifically more recently). Not pain but the various strategies I have used throughout my life to try to avoid pain, why I have tried to do so and why none have ever worked. It’s been interesting to unpack this deep-set of wounds. Challenging for sure, but interesting too.

Perfection

When I was a teenager and into my twenties I thought that if only I did such and such a thing I would be perfect and then I would not be in pain, that I would be happy. I thought pain was something to be avoided (more on how I came to that false conclusion below) and perfection was the best way to do that.

Of course, as a teenager I was still forming my identity and I looked to others for my idea of perfection. I looked to peers I admired – the cool kids who seemed to never mess up except to be the perfect rebels with perfect hair and skin. I looked to movie and TV stars. I looked to pop stars. I looked to fictional characters I read about in those 1980s ever-so-popular teen series about cheerleaders and beauty queens.

I have long known that this strategy was useless. It actually made pain all the more prevalent in my life because perfection is a myth and unattainable. Trying to achieve it is a struggle that takes so much time and effort. It leaves you hollow and exhausted.

Parenting

In her manifesto for Wholehearted parenting Brené Brown writes…

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.

My parents did not teach me to sit with discomfort, pain or suffering and this led me to have many bad habits and significantly damaging strategies to deal with grief, fear, hurt and other challenging feelings.

This is not a blame game. I have come to terms with how my childhood experiences encouraged this type of thinking. I have empathy for my parents and their upbringings. For them vulnerability was not part of being resilient. They wanted to protect me from suffering (impossible). I do not think they knew there was an alternative – to learn to experience it and use it to grow and connect with myself, others and Universe ( all the energy that surrounds us, is in us and things – I suppose you could say it is what I call my higher power).

Being with these emotions is something I have learned to do in my 40s. Never too late, but I do wish I had figured it out earlier. In any case, I am much more comfortable with the uncomfortable now. I am better able to ride the waves of the hostile and scary emotions and not let them be destructive. The waves are there as always. They do not disappeared. They never will. I am just a much more competent emotional surfer.

My Answer

Now I sit with my feelings – pain with regards to this particular post but this is useful for all of my feelings. I observe the feeling. I welcome it with curiosity. I ask it questions. Where are you in my body? What are your qualities? What are you trying to tell me. I hold it. I embrace it with loving kindness. I have compassion with myself.

The less I implode or explode these feelings that I am “not allowed to feel”, the more of a moderate relationship I have with them.
– Alanis Morisette

Leave a Comment

September Catch-up

Have you been following me on Twitter and Instagram? It’s where I’ve been most of the spring and summer. Online at least. That’s because I haven’t had time to dedicate to my writing beyond 140 characters. It was an experiment of sorts. Here is what happened.

Opportunity

In February/March I had the opportunity to apply for a job at Chez Stella – a local sex worker resource organization. Job opportunities are not something that come my way very often. One reason is that I have been self-employed and freelancing for close to 20 years. Another is that most of my work has been in and around the adult industry. I knew when I started in this business my options would be limited, but the reality of that has really hit me hard these past few years as I try to stay afloat in this era of free porn and tube sites. It has been a serious, depressing struggle.

Anyway, putting together a CV and letter of intent as part of a job application took a lot of time and energy. It was a challenge as it had to be in French and reflect more than a record of skills and accomplishments. It had to include my perspective on harm reduction and sex worker rights activism. It was a very detailed and through exercise for me. It was quite empowering to present a complete picture of myself. Not something I am able to do in any other professional exercise.

A few weeks after submitting my CV and letter of intent I was called in for an interview. It didn’t go as well as I would have liked. I haven’t had a job interview since the 1990s. I was a bit nervous and anxious. I am sure it showed. Also, the interview was held in French and I’m not as comfortable speaking on certain topics in French. For example, I misunderstood a question on Hepatitis C screening. That was awkward.

Another issue that came up was my sobriety. They asked about my comfort about being in bars. I was honest. While that is not an issue per say it made me think about being around people who are drunk and/or high as part of my work and that is not something I really want to be doing. Not because I would tempted. Being around boozed-up high people actually reinforces my choice, but it does exhaust me. Not an ideal frame of mind for doing demanding work with a vulnerable, marginalized population. Even more so than booze or drugs I knew I would likely have to deal with people who are armed and violent. I do not think I have the personality or the skill set to deal with these things.

In the end it was a relief that I did not get offered the job. I’m glad I had the opportunity to apply. Like I said, work outside of xxx performance is hard to come by for me. Having 2 degrees, webmaster skills, and project management experience cannot counteract the stigma and prejudice of having done the work.

This sucks.

A Second Chance

After the job interview I met with a friend who has a start up. He knows about my work as we have collaborated on burlesque productions together. He offered me a management job to help get things going. What timing! While it is in an area of business that is not in my passion zone it would take advantage of my organizational and leadership skills. Looking for some stability I took the job.

I spent all of this Spring and Summer working on this project. As most things it was not exactly as presented and not really a good fit. I did crazy 60 hour weeks and was not able to work on any of my projects (like my Seska blog), see my family or take care of my health. In August I hurt my back and I was unable to move or walk for a week.

As much as I believe in my friend’s project I knew I had to change things up. I took some time off and dealt with my back. I connected with an awesome osteopath that has brought me back to a much more mobile and flexible physical state. When I was ready to go back to work I cut back my hours and responsibilities. It was the right move.

Next Steps

Now I need to go back to where I was in February before this little adventure in employment began.

I am at my happiest, my most fulfilled, when I am creating and communicating, expressing and writing. I am my most engaged and inspired when I am learning, synthesizing what I learned and sharing it with others.

Productivity without passion makes me ever so unhappy. As time consuming as it was to learn this lesson it was worth it.

Now back to the drawing board!

Leave a Comment