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1. Journaling:

I LOVE journaling. Sometimes I write whatever comes out, but if I'm needing to process big/overwhelming emotions or burnout, I'll use my "Needs Journaling" or "5 Questions for Emotional Clarity" templates.

I highly, highly recommend checking out this free resource from Hopeful Panda on "How to Deal with Emotions in a Healthy Way" , and journaling on the 5 questions in the article.

Game-changer in terms of helping me process my emotions and move through them without/with less overwhelm, and it's been helping my chosen fam out a bunch, so check it out if you're needing support with emotional expression. I'm not an affiliate or anything. I just really appreciate this resource and use the questions for journaling on a regular basis.

2. Free writing:

Not quite the same as journaling.

Y'all. I've been writing a book.

I just completed my first draft a few weeks ago (I've wrote over 40,000 words of un-edited, embodied thought, just braindumped over the course of 3 weeks). To meet this goal, I wrote for an hour every day.

And it was a fully pleasurable experience. I had a writing ritual. There were rewards I gave myself every step of the way. And I was creating in a group with other queer, trans, nb, femme writers.

As I mentioned: depression. I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it. But the actual act of freely writing for 1 hour at a time (I set a timer), gave my energy a space to move. Dance has been hard to access lately. So I've been leaning on other creative ways to move. Typing on my keyboard is one of them :)

3. Lying down in my bean bag chair:

Ok, this is not technically free since I had to buy the bean bag chair, but the point I'm trying to get at it is lying down on a soft, supportive sensory surface. What would feel like a nice way to lie down? Soft squishy support? Lying down can be fun. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I just zone out. It feels like a soft hug on my back, holding me, which is like a sensory super-win for me.

4. Taking a hot bath :

I'm someone who has a hard time with baths (usually because I don't want to be bored) but I am reminded again and again of the benefits of a hot bath. The heat and water promote blood flow (movin' that chi), and helps relax tense muscles.

I keep my friend Hanah's (Open Apothecary) AAAMAZING "Pain" CBD Bath Bombs on hand for days when I need deeper relief. They're a million times better than any other bath bomb I'm tried, including those fancy ones from LUSH. At $10 each, so worth it (and made by a queer, Latinx magic mama!).

5. Making herbal tea blends:

I'm not a professional herbalist, but I am a kitchen witch who frequently uses herbs to make medicine for myself and my loved ones.

  • Oatstraw is a gentle and great for nervous system regulation.

  • Mullein helps relieve respiratory symptoms.

  • Dried rose helps me connect with self-love.

  • Tulsi (Holy Basil) is an adaptogen which helps with nervous system healing, especially when taken consistently.

These are usually the herbs I keep on hand, as they come in handy for hard days, grief, big emotions, and trauma. In Long Beach, I buy herbs from Green Wisdom, but I also order online from Iwilla Remedy (both also have some incredible courses, programs and resources for herbal studies).

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The year was 2015.

It was a brisk October evening in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

On the main street of Nob Hill, the local theater was bustling with a the type of magical buzzing energy that only comes from a theater full of queers converging to watch several hours of gay sex on the big screen.

It was at the opening night of Pornotopia, a queer porn festival created and hosted by my friends at Self-Serve, the local feminist, queer and women-owned sex shop in town.

I was there as part of the opening act. My friend Dirty Lola was invited to bring her Sex-Ed-A-Go-Go stage show to the event--setting the tone for consent, respect, safer sex, and pleasure, as well as titillating the audience with a live lap dance performance for some lucky folx in the audience to start.

Guess who was giving the lap dances.

Yep. This guy.

That's me with the long hair and garters. My pronouns were she/her/hers and I had never questioned my gender identity as a cis woman before, but that would soon change.

The lap in this dance belongs to special guest Jiz Lee: non-binary queer porn and kink icon.

This moment of giving them a lap dance changed the trajectory of my whole life, because, before meeting Jiz at this event, I had never EVER met someone who was trans, non-binary, queer, and half-Asian.

Y'all: Jiz is a BIG deal in the world of porn. But more impressively, they are one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, genuinely melt-your-heart sweetest humans you could hope to meet. They're also a triathlete, a voracious bookworm, author of the critically acclaimed book "Coming Out Like A Porn Star".

We hit it off after the performance and I got to know them over the course of the weekend. I was so drawn to them, it felt like a crush. But slowly I realized what I was feeling was a sense of awe and wonder that they could exist so much as themselves.

Sitting across from them at breakfast one morning, I felt like I was looking at a alternate universe reflection of myself. We had so much in common, it seemed like we could be distant relatives, but the difference was they were living in their truth and I was not.

I suddenly felt like I was wearing all these masks and costumes, and none of them reflected who I truly was inside. I wanted to see what I would look like if I shed those layers, but I was also terrified because I didn't *know* who I truly was without them. I've never had the space to be anything other than the eldest daughter, the good girl, the loyal wife, the hard-working woman. What the heck would I even look like if I wasn't performing femininity?

At that diner booth over breakfast, I was trying to stay composed and cool for my new friend, but inside I was freaking out. I felt so close to a new way of being, but so far from actually experiencing it as my reality. I didn't know the first thing about how to be non-binary, but I knew I had to try. After that breakfast with Jiz, I could see a new possibility of existing on my own terms. That shift in perspective changed my actual life.

Meeting a trans, non-binary, Asian, queer person made me realize "Holy shit! I can also be that! I didn't even know that was an option!" Even if I didn't know how I was going to be that, at least I knew it was possible. I started to believe I could be whatever I wanted, if that's what felt right to me.

Here's the thing: I didn't know what would feel right. But I did know I couldn't keep living behind a façade.

So, I came out as non-binary shortly after, tried on they/them pronouns with friends and at work, cut my hair off, and have been growing into my authentic self-expression ever since. Today, I'm proudly trans and non-binary. My pronouns at the moment are he/him and they/them. It's been a journey, but I'm really happy with where I am now.

I'm sharing this because queer community is so incredibly important. We need safer spaces to be with and learn from one another. I am forever grateful that being a queer burlesque/exotic dancer provided me with the reason to be at this queer porn festival. If I had not volunteered myself to dance at this event, who knows what I'd be doing now.

What I do know is that the simple act of witnessing and seeing yourself reflected in others can be profoundly healing, as it directs us to witness, perhaps for the first time, our selves.

Within community, we grow.

Alone, we may hold onto those masks and costumes that no longer serve us, mistaking them for who we are.

Queer communities (like this one) are life-saving. Queer community is why I teach. It's why I create programs, workshops and classes online. Teaching is my way of gathering us in community, so we can learn from one another and witness one another in our fullest, authentic expression of self. Here, we can unlearn fear of each other, and practice completely new ways of being and relating.

Trust. Boundaries. Safety. Authenticity.

These can be so scary to practice out in the world. But you are welcome to practice them here.

I was compiling student feedback yesterday, and came across this:

“You have given me a space I didn't think could exist for me and I can honestly say that's life changing.”

This student is a queer, non-binary dancer talking about my self-paced, virtual trauma-informed Burlesque program.

Sometimes I wonder if teaching online still provides folx with a feeling of community connection when they're dancing at home, and this testimonial tells me that it does.

If you want to experience this space for yourself, check it out HERE. Feel free to share this post with your friends who may want to get in on this too.

Thanks for reading and sticking with me. It means the world.

Hope to see you on the virtual dance floor soon.

- Harmony Lee (he & they)

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1. What is your current capacity?

Another way to ask: “How full is my cup right now?” Be honest with yourself about what you can hold responsibly, and what you can not. For instance, if you are exhausted from hearing clients’ heartbreaking stories, that may be beyond your current capacity to hold.

MY CAPACITY IS ________________________________________________________

2. What would improve your ability to be fully present in this shared space?

In particular, what REQUESTS and BOUNDARIES would help you show up fully? You are invited to consider your level of rest, hydration, hunger, pain, and attention span. What can you do to be kind to yourself?

I REQUEST ________________________________________________________

I REQUIRE ________________________________________________________

3. What topics, information, and details would be appropriate for the situation?

You are invited to consider the mutual interest in the situation. For example, if you are a hair stylist, the mutual interests between you and your client may be a great haircut, delivering quality care, and creating a satisfying experience so the client comes back. It is ok to have boundaries to keep the mutual interest on track.

I invite you to picture a venn diagram. The overlap of the circles represents shared space between two people. Notice how each circle is still whole, but only a sliver is shared. We may consider this a metaphor for what we choose to share while holding space.

APPROPRIATE TO SHARE____________________________________

NOT APPROPRIATE:________________________________________

4. What questions, conversations, and discussion would orient your interactions towards the present moment?

It may feel more pleasant in the present. Engaging the senses is one way to connect with the present. Often, past and future worries can distract us from the present, but consistent, compassionate practice with mindfulness and grounding can help bring us back to the present.

If you need info on… Instead of this… Consider this….

Physical sensation “How’s it going?” “How does your body feel?”

Building rapport “How have you been?” “How can I best support you today?”

Emotional state “How are you?” “What does your energy feel like now?”


If I need info on…

Instead of this…

I'll try this….

5. What support would help you honor your word?

Therapists, counselors, and professional listeners are helpful here. If you want to reach out to a friend or colleague, ask for their consent before engaging. If they say no, it’s ok to say “thank you” and continue looking for support.

MY SUPPORTS: ________________________________________________________

6. What is your response if your boundaries are not met?

Have a “game plan” with options for changing, improving, or removing yourself from the situation.

I CAN CHANGE____________________________________________

I CAN IMPROVE ___________________________________________

I CAN REMOVE ____________________________________________

7. What would nourish you before, during, and after the interaction?

Have a “game plan” for your self-care. Afterwards, consider what would help you RELEASE the interaction, and RECLAIM your energy.


DURING: ________________________________________________

AFTER: _________________________________________________

8. How would you show up if you felt safe?

Boundaries and requests help create safety. When we feel safer, we have more capacity for collaborative, pro-social engagement. This includes improved problem-solving, better listening skills, more creativity, and joy. Create a description of your ideal outcome.

IF I FELT SAFE, I WOULD ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Interested in learning more?

Now offering 4-week online coaching program specifically for setting trauma-sensitive boundaries with clients/customers.

Email for details.

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