About stephanie

I'm a pole dancing student, a burlesque novice, and blogger learning to follow her passions and be true to herself with no apoleogies

One foot in front of the other, preferably in seven-inch heels

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A few months ago I found an amazing Groupon deal for three months of unlimited pole dance classes at a wonderful studio called Addiction, and I figured it was an opportunity too good to pass up. I had my first class there in September and jumped back into the constant tug of war between exhilaration and embarrassment. Learn a new move and enjoy the high; freeze during free dance and try to hold back the tears. I’ve continued to struggle with anything I consider “dancing” or “sexy” — no problem in pole dancing, right? — but now I’ve had three months of constant exposure to the things that make me feel so terribly uncomfortable. Too many times I’ve felt overwhelmed and retreated, literally sitting down in the back of the studio rather than face what I was feeling. But occasionally I’ve tried to keep going in some way or another, usually Continue Reading →

Surviving a boudoir photo shoot

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I’ve always hated taking pictures, and I’ve made every effort to avoid being photographed for most of my life. So I knew it would be challenging when I decided to do a pinup/boudoir photo shoot for my husband’s birthday — well, partly for my husband’s birthday and partly as another step toward accepting my body. As soon as I had my LivingSocial voucher, I immediately started coming up with reasons to postpone my appointment. I figured I really should work out more, color my hair, and so on and so on. And one day it dawned on me that if I waited until I looked perfect, or even perfectly acceptable in my own very harsh mind, I would never do it. So I booked my appointment, packed a bag full of lingerie and one beautiful swimsuit from Pinup Girl Clothing, and was on my way, flaws and all. Fortunately for Continue Reading →

Body image and pole dance: You mean I can’t wear pants and a sweater?

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I realized early on pole dancing was going to push me beyond my comfort zone — what a misnomer that is. Staying locked within those very narrow boundaries has kept me in a constant state of anxiety — but as I’ve progressed, it’s beginning to change my priorities in ways I hadn’t given much thought to. A laundry list of body image issues has led me to live my life covered from head to toe nearly all the time. No bathing suits. No shorts. No tank tops. And it’s never mattered how hot I might be or how ridiculously out of place my clothes might make me look. Nothing has been more important than hiding. It didn’t take long to realize I would have no choice but to endure wearing shorts, something that still makes me uncomfortable if I’m being honest. But I do it. And once we get started, Continue Reading →

My S Factor Experience — Part II

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Once the S Factor classes were made available to me, I was eager to get started and jumped right into Super Pole I rather than wait for my introductory class. I realized right away this wasn’t going to be like any other pole dance class I’d been to. The music was loud. There were no mirrors. There was just enough light to see, but not enough to allow you to judge yourself or anyone else in this sacred space. And the warm-up alone felt amazing. This wasn’t a punishing workout. This was slow and sensuous. A gentle awakening of all the neglected parts of your body. I was pleasantly surprised to find I didn’t feel too intimidated, as I so often do, although I did feel somewhat embarrassed at times. The class was going beautifully and I was feeling thrilled and grateful to be there. Once we started the S Continue Reading →

My S Factor Experience — Part I

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About three months ago I was sitting at home trying to figure out how I could get to another pole class and watching some amazing pole dancers on YouTube when I stumbled on to Sheila Kelley’s TED talk and discovered S Factor. I had just discovered that my feminine self — or what Sheila calls your “erotic creature” — wanted out and that pole dance was a great way to start exploring all the things about myself that had been dormant for so many years. And here was this amazing woman who danced beautifully. Not to tease, not to look sexy, but as the physical embodiment of a woman who was awakened, sensual, playful, and powerful. I knew right away I wanted to experience S Factor for myself. Although I knew I couldn’t possibly afford it, I went directly to SFactor.com to investigate further. And to my surprise, an offer Continue Reading →

Conquering the world one fear at a time

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After about 25 years of solid practice, I had really mastered being afraid. I didn’t have to try at all. It came as naturally as breathing. Trying to practice being brave is still much more challenging, but the rewards are boundless. A few weeks ago I found out that my lovely 15-year-old niece — who I’m ashamed to admit I don’t know very well because I’ve always struggled so much to form bonds with anyone — shares some of my interests. And since then I’ve been trying very hard to find opportunities for her to explore the things she’s passionate about now while she’s still shaping her beliefs about what’s possible for her life and what she’s capable of. With that in mind last weekend I took her to a trapeze class. Although I have a terrible fear of heights, I had decided that I should be a good example Continue Reading →

Pole dance student without a pole

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Soon I’ll have to pack my pole away in a storage unit for an indefinite period of time when I move. And since I don’t know when or how I’ll be able to take classes again, I’ll soon be an eager pole dance student without access to a pole. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, and I hope I’ll find a way to keep practicing somehow. But in the meantime I’m going to focus on developing strength and flexibility so that whenever I get the opportunity to start again I’ll be ready to come back with a vengeance. To that end, I recently purchased Cleo the Hurricane’s Rockin Legs N’ Abs DVD, which is scheduled for delivery tomorrow morning. And I’ll be starting the program about two minutes after it arrives. As you can see, I’m not flexible at all. Until recently I couldn’t even touch Continue Reading →

Best Little Whorehouse in Hollywood

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On May 2nd, 2014 I performed in a group student showcase with Hells Belles Burlesque in little booty shorts and took off my shirt to reveal my beautiful Americana themed bra decorated by my very talented instructor, Natasha Vee. For some people that might sound like nothing more than a fun evening or an interesting story to share with friends, but for me it’s huge. To put it in perspective, up until this experience I hadn’t even been willing to put on a bathing suit for as long as I can remember. I didn’t even own a pair of shorts, “booty” or otherwise. The idea of dancing on a stage in front of an audience was frightening enough, but stripping down to anything less than a turtleneck was absolutely terrifying. And, yet, I knew I couldn’t afford to deny myself this experience. I knew going in I would have to let Continue Reading →

To quote the amazing Alethea Austin, “Push Past”

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It goes without saying, but Alethea Austin is an amazing dancer, and there are many things about her physical ability and performance style to admire and aspire to achieve. But one of my favorite things about her is the motto she’s chosen to include on a lot of her merchandise and even tattooed on her knuckles, “Push Past.” For more than 20 years I’ve been virtually paralyzed by anxiety and depression, unable to look people in the eye, to really form bonds or trust anyone completely, and worst of all, unable to pursue the things I wanted most. Although I’ve been dealt some tough cards in the past, I know that a lot of my pain and a lot of the wasted years behind me are no one’s fault but mine. My recent efforts to break free from this self-imposed prison have been challenging and terrifying and exhilarating and sometimes Continue Reading →

The rewards of rewriting your negative self-talk

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Negativity has been a constant struggle for me for as long as I can remember, but I’ve been working hard to divert that energy toward something more positive and productive over the last few months. And I’ve been amazed to find that positive thinking and visualization really do seem to bring unexpected blessings to your life. Over the course of the past few months I’ve literally wished, prayed, or just daydreamed about things that either have or may soon come to pass. It started with my first pole dance lessons at Romance and Dance. I couldn’t afford to take classes anywhere and didn’t even have transportation at the time, so I didn’t know how I would ever get to a class. And then I found a very inexpensive deal on Groupon (and I had a coupon for an additional 20% off the discounted price too) the same day my husband Continue Reading →