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The secret behind social media couples

As you boast in your chocolates and flowers, and prepare to get jiggy tonight with your significant other, you may also be thinking about ways to aesthetically document everything in a way that will get you the most likes on social media. Whether it be your caption, your strategic ring finger positioning, or a snapchat of bae being bae — it’s time someone expose the truth behind Instagram Couples. Let’s begin.

To all those single ladies scrolling past PDA pics and teddy bears all over your news feed, just know – it’s all fake love. The statement, so eloquently sung by Drake, is also backed up by science. A report from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin recently concluded that people who overshare about #bae on social media are also the most insecure about them.

#Yikes.

So, to the couple who stare into one another’s eyes at fancy restaurants three times a week – we see you. And your cry for help. I don’t want to assume your night will end up in an argument over why your significant other’s phone went off one too many times or how the bill is going to be split, but according to science; I have to. And while I want to be empathetic for your situation, the narcissism behind your posts and the way you make my single ladies sob make me not want to.

The secret behind becoming a successful social media couple is to have so much fun with your significant other that you forget to take a picture. It’s to go to a fancy restaurant and enjoy the food while it’s still hot, instead of standing up on your seat trying to get the perfect shot. And the juiciest secret of all? Post so seldom that your followers have to message and ask you how your life is going, in which you can respond ‘great, just busy with #bae!’

That’s not to say you need to deactivate your Facebook account and delete your social media. Your loved ones enjoy seeing highlights in your relationships; whether that be a recent engagement or wedding photos. Sitting at your desk on a cold, winter afternoon can become a whole lot better with a few vacation photos of your favourite couple at a tropical destination.

However, if bae is mad at you and you’re cooking dinner for them – maybe ask for suggestions on what to cook for dinner instead of boasting about a #datenight that’s really another #forgiveme night. Work on your relationship. If your partner photographs that well, I’m sure they look much better in person. Embrace it. Cherish it.

Remember, happiness doesn’t come in the form of likes and retweets. It comes in the forms of smiles and a whole lot of good loving.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ditch the cards this Valentine’s Day

I’m not a card person – to me, it’s a waste of paper. You read the messages inside and then, as soon as the person who gave it to you leaves, it goes in the recycling bin. Some people will keep it on a desk or a bookshelf, propped up for a few weeks like some sort of artwork, but, at the end of the day, whether it’s that week or months from today, the card always gets tossed away. So, what’s the point?

According to Hallmark, one of the biggest card companies in North America, approximately 114 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged on February 15, not including the packages you may give to your kids in elementary school. Surprisingly, this is the second largest holiday for cards!

It is natural, to want to do something small for someone you care about. Getting a card is no big deal — it shows you care, but doesn’t offer a commitment of gifts or events. It’s a “look, I remembered you”, giveaway. It doesn’t really mean much, especially if there is nothing personal written within it.

Cards are also, unexpectedly expensive. They range from $3.50 to $10 depending on where you get it from. Most have generic prose spread across the page in fancy cursive fonts that are incredibly difficult to read, not to mention the message is generally sappy and cliche. There really is no good reason to buy a card for someone. Can you think of one?

Here is my two cents. Instead of spending five dollars on a card to express your love, why not try something truly original:

  1. Actually talk to your partner and tell him/her you love them. No one needs a folded piece of paper with a photo of two children in a cute embrace and the words “Happy Valentine’s Day” to enjoy the holiday. Sometimes, a simple greeting in person, over text, or even a Facebook message will brighten someone’s day. In this age of technology, there are so many options. Why limit yourself to paper?

    If you really want to go the paper route – why not try putting little sticky notes on mirrors and in cupboards where your partner can find it? It’s cute, but no one expects you to keep the sticky notes afterwards.

  2. The key to a romantic Valentine’s Day is to create memories. While gifts and cards are nice, your partner will remember if you make them a tasty dinner or take them out for an evening stroll. Technology is great, but anyone can wish someone happy birthday, anniversary, and even happy Valentine’s Day. You want to make your day stand out and the way to do that is to ditch the cards and gifts and focus on the experience.
  3. If memories aren’t your thing, you can’t go wrong with jewellery or chocolates. If you want to give a gift, make it a real gift and not just a piece of stock paper with a pre-determined message inside. This doesn’t have to be something expensive. Pick up some flowers or send your partner to work with a pre-made, cutesy lunch made of heart-shaped things. Anything is better than a card!

What do you think? Will you be sending a loved one a card? Let us know in the comments below!

Why consent should be included in #MeToo movement

A woman has made allegations of sexual misconduct against television actor and comedian Aziz Ansari. In her claim, she says the two went out on a date and when she indicated, using “nonverbal and verbal cues” that she wasn’t interested in having sex with him, he tried to seduce her over and over again. Eventually, he called her an uber and she went home.

Ansari has told the media that “it was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned.”

While the allegations may not be as serious as those against Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey, these kind of stories do expose an important issue of consent, or basic respect, on the dating scene. The criticism this woman is receiving online is reason enough why this story is so important. People are saying this woman should have been clearer about her sexual desires, and that it wasn’t fair to Ansari to ruin his career over something he didn’t know he did wrong. An opinion columnist in the New York Times actually said the only thing Ansari is guilty of is not being a mindreader.

Essentially, those responding to this story are saying that because this woman didn’t cry out “no” and push Ansari away, this story has no value to the #MeToo movement. I disagree.

This story is one many women, and probably a few men, are familiar with. Their date indicates a need to slow down, and are promptly ignored. You kind of like the person, so you try to express your consent in a different way. You do this by joking around, distracting your partner, suggesting alternative activities, and finally, by saying you aren’t in the mood. This can result in anger, frustration, embarrassment, and sometimes lead to dangerous situations.

I was dating a man for a few weeks I met online. He was funny, smart, and nice — pretty much exactly what I was looking for. During conversation at dinner, my date invited me back to his apartment. I said that while I liked him, I wanted to take our relationship slow. I like to really get to know a potential partner before jumping into bed with them, especially considering the dangers of the online dating scene. I was about as clear as a person could be about my romantic intensions, and my date seemed understanding. He said there were no strings attached to the invitation, and we could simply watch a movie, drink coffee, and spend more time with each other.

Isn’t that sweet?

Of course, once I arrived at the apartment, there was no coffee. He did put on a movie, but as soon as the opening titles started scrolling along the screen, he was blowing in my ear (is that a thing!!??). The next thing I knew, his hand was on the back of my head, pushing me towards his face. I broke away a few times, joking about how we were going to miss the movie. A few minutes later, his hand was on my cheek, guiding my face back to his.

I consider myself a strong and independent woman, but when I was confronted with such an uncomfortable situation, I am ashamed to say that I lied. Instead of telling my date that his behaviour was unacceptable, especially considering our conversation at dinner, I looked at my phone and said “my dad just called me. My dog is badly injured and he needs help lifting her into the car. I’ve got to run.” And out the door I went.

All that is to say it is not as easy to say “no” as people may think. When you are alone with a person in their home, you are vulnerable. Your partner has the advantage.

It’s also important to remember that consent is not the absence of the word “no”. Consent, according to the Oxford dictionary, means to give “permission for something to happen.” In the case of a sexual relationship, both parties must clearly agree to a sexual act and each person has the right to say no. Consent should never be assumed or implied.

Again, let me stress, consent is not defined by the absence of the word “no”. And that is why this conversation should be a part of the #MeToo movement. Understanding this definition is part of that patriarchal mentality women are trying to change. It is something that will take time and needs to be exposed in order for people to learn.

Could Ansari really not understand this woman’s non-verbal cues? It is absolutely possible. Should he be punished professionally and personally for his actions? I’m not too sure. His reaction is probably similar to hundreds of thousands of men out there who were in similar situations. Men who don’t understand what those non-verbal cues mean and are subject to retaliation in the media.

For those men, here is a very simple guideline: just ask. Ask your partner if it is okay to kiss them. Ask if they want to go to the bedroom. Ask if they are willing to have oral sex. Always ask. When you ask, you will get a firm answer. And continue to ask! Is this okay? Are you okay with me touching you there?

It’s really rather simple. And no, it doesn’t detract from the mood. Trust me, it’s actually quite attractive to have a man stand by your door, saying “you look absolutely beautiful, I would like to kiss you. Can I?”

Sexual assault and sexual harassment within industry and the workplace may be the foundation of the #MeToo and TIME’S UP movement, but it shouldn’t end there. Let’s add consent to the discussion.

3 rules to follow when he’s a saver and you’re a spender

I like to shop. Every single trend that could be found in the stores of a mall was, once upon a time, present in my closet. Even the questionable items. I buy candles for every corner of my room because one is never enough, and I once purchased face cream the price of multiple dinners at Sephora — merely because the make-up artist told me it was nice.

On the other hand, my husband likes to save. You know that thing at the bank called a Saving’s Account? He actually has one. While I scroll through my favourite online stores, he scrolls through his budgeting applications, all while checking on his many investments and stocks; a side hustle he plans to take advantage of during ‘rainy days.’ Frugality is his specialty. Extreme couponing, I think it’s safe to say, is one of his life time goals.

Like other couples, we have very different spending habits. Given this, it’s no surprise that money is the most common topic that couples argue about. A recent survey from the American Institute of CPA’s concluded couples argue at least three times a month about finances. Researchers believe the conflict may stem from failing to discuss money on a regular basis. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed who were married or living with a partner said they don’t regularly set aside time to talk about financial issues.

So, let’s talk.

Take these three steps to avoid the ongoing kerfuffle of choosing between the $14.99 or $19.99 bundle and thank me later.

  1. Communicate. You hear it repeatedly. So why is it so difficult to follow through? Talk to your partner about how you want to handle your finances as a couple, along with any individual expectations that you may have of one another. Discuss whether you want to share any expenses such as utility bills or groceries or if you want control over your own finances. Ensure you go over any debt that either of you have to take care of and that you are transparent when it comes to your purchases. What is the point of buying a car without a discussion if you have to drive around alone because bae is mad at you?
  2. Speak their language. Try using a reference from their favourite TV show and watch how googly their eyes get. Its important to be able to relate to your partner. Get on their level. If they start pricing matching or looking at deals, keep your cool – and let them be. Don’t try to change them and don’t let them try to change you. Habits build over time, making it difficult to break. Instead, take things away and implement them in your daily life. Find the positive aspects to their habits. Think about it; saving up for an emergency prevents either of you from having to get a second job if the time came. Thus, you’ll have more time to spend with each other. Because love.
  3. Have your own savings. Whether you agree to share your finances, contribute to expenses, or manage your own money, always have funds set aside solely for yourself. Although there are many advantages to a joint account, there will always be a reason to have at least one bank account dedicated for your own use. This is especially important if you and your partner are on different financial levels or if you have different spending habits. After merging two lives together, it can be easy to feel a loss of independence. By having something that is solely yours, you can guarantee you still have some control over your life.

Relationships take a lot of work to be successful. It’s about compassion, patience, and compromise. Despite this, you may still find yourselves butting heads with your partner from time to time over things you just can’t seem to agree on. Follow these steps to ensure you spend less time arguing about finances, and more time arguing about things that matter; like which show you want to Netflix binge (and chill). Lastly, don’t forget to give him a kiss when he splurges on you! Your relationship will grow stronger and better because of it.

Dear mental health, I’m sorry

I’m sorry.

I’m just starting to realize how important you are. You’re something that needs to be cared for, something that can’t be ignored. So, for all the times you cried out for help when you weren’t feeling well, and I ignored you, telling you to stop being so sensitive, I’m sorry.  For all the times I tried to hide you and pretend you don’t exist, I’m sorry. All the while, you sneaked into my bones and muscles, waiting to be heard. I get it! Physical pain is easier to listen to. But sometimes, you make it hard to get out of bed. Let’s not forget all those times you wouldn’t let me see my friends or family, because you just didn’t have the energy to converse and socialize.

The past few years have not been kind to me. Between drastic life changes, difficult relationships, and trying to understand my own personhood, I found it hard to be kind to you as well. I failed to listen when you told me how to feel. Pushing away feelings of stress and sadness is just easier for me. It’s only when you come at me with full force that I understand you’re something that I need to look after.

But it’s hard to understand where you’re coming from sometimes. It makes it difficult to talk to people about you for that reason. Are you acting up because it’s my time of month? Are you trying to tell me I have too much on my plate? Sorry, I don’t understand.

I fear my relationships will suffer because of you. If I don’t understand you’re not well, how could my loved ones? Multiple ‘bad days’ can kill the vibe, ruin a positive atmosphere. I’m sorry if I mask what you’re trying to tell me, in an attempt of keeping things light. Fun. I’m sorry that I downplay your sickness as another ‘bad day.’ It’s just easier. We don’t want people being more concerned than they should be, right? I hope you understand.

I’m sorry that we never had the chance to get that close. I’m sorry we don’t keep in touch. To be honest, you’re a little high maintenance. For you to feel better, a lot of actions have to be taken. Therapy is expensive. And yes, my job might be stressful – but it’s what puts money on the table. My friends and family may be difficult to interact with sometimes, but they care about me. It’s difficult to ask me to give up such important parts of my life for your own betterment.  I’m sorry you’re not a priority even though we both know you should be.

But I’ll try harder. The days you don’t feel well, I’ll try to listen. And when other people are talking about their own mental health, I’ll listen then too. When they don’t understand where you’re coming from, I’ll explain it to them. It’s time to start talking about you. Because you’re important. I realize that now.

The poetic justice of growing old and letting go in “The Analyst”

“It’s always backwards in analysis, isn’t it?,” poet Molly Peacock asks in her new collection.

The Analyst by Molly Peacock is a book of poetry that explores the evolution of relationships as people grow older over time, and how these emotions can be captured and understood through the process of creative license. The anthology of poems is based on the author’s relationship with her therapist, Joan Workman Stein, who she met in New York when she was a young woman and stayed in contact with for several years. Stein suffers a stroke and Peacock, once the patient, becomes a caregiver in helping her therapist recover.

The book is separated into four parts, Part One: The Pottery Jar; Part Two: The Hours; Part Three: Ruby Roses, Kiss Goodbye; and Part Four: Whisper of Liberty. Each section follows the two friends through the initial shock of having a loved one experience a stroke, helping them recover, letting go of their lost capacities and accepting their new self. Peacock helps Stein to rediscover her lost love of art, and it ultimately becomes the tool that brings her back to life.

Peacock ultimately realizes that Stein helping her all of those years prepared her to return the favour when her therapist reaches old age and needs someone to be there. In the final poem, “Mandala in the Making”, she states, “Only when something’s over can its shape materialize,” thus showing that life is a series of evolutionary cycles repeating themselves throughout time. The Analyst uses a deeply creative means to show how people can never know quite what certain events their lives truly mean until they have passed.

The set of poems employs subtle references and the author’s own experiences to lead the reader down a path of understanding long-term relationships and how they change as people grow older. Oftentimes, poetry seeks to avoid the more disgusting facts of aging, and focuses instead on the beauty of youth and love. Peacock avoids this pattern and faces the gruesome realities that lie behind having a stroke and losing the capacity to be fully functional that is ultimately a result of aging. In “The Canning Jar”, it is almost hard to swallow the description of the dead rabbit in the St. Lawrence Market, but the reader is forced to contend with death and ultimately reconcile with it.

Overall, Peacock takes the mundane and turns it into art. Growing old is by no means special, but her changed relationship with her therapist puts her in a position to see how letting go of the old self is always a singularly unique and beautiful experience no matter how it happens or who it happens with. The journey of The Analyst becomes exceptional precisely because it turns the tragedy of a stroke into the miracle of rebirth when Stein embraces becoming an artist and let’s go of being a therapist.

This book of poems is a great read, especially for someone looking to reconcile with an aging loved one. Peacock engages with the trauma of watching her friend be affected by a stroke and the reader can feel her desperation and eventual acceptance. Take a chance on The Analyst and it will leave you wondering which relationships will change and evolve over time and how each person will meet their own limitations of mortality.

The one text message you should never send

“Hope you’re well!”

It’s a phrase that takes one second to send. No autocorrect needed, no thinking required. Sometimes modified, most seen in work emails, with family and friends, your next-door neighbour, the phrase implies that we, the sender, wishes the best upon the person. And that’s pretty much it.

I learned the implications behind this text message the hard way. After sending a similar text to a friend of mine during a difficult time in his life, I quickly realized that sometimes, it’s better to just ask.

So, just ask.

Wishing well upon a person is nice. But it doesn’t do the job of showing how much you care about the person. It’s a wish. Meaning you don’t expect a reply, you instead assume- and hope- that it’s going well. Sending a text message along these lines allows you to skip the details, tidbits, and everything in between and just jump straight to the conclusion; everything’s well.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of the hidden subtext behind this phrase either. But, to some, it implies that the sender is merely pretending to care about someone. Because that was the truth when I sent this text to him. We had just met. He was a new addition to my life. So, I felt like I was required to check up on him out of formality. It was courtesy.

However, it was the first time I was called out for being courteous. He knew exactly where I was coming from when I sent that text. As a people pleaser always looking to get on everyone’s good sides – the guilt was real. So, ever since that incident, I’ve took it upon myself to be very careful before ‘hoping’ the people I interact with are well.

Before sending the text, it’s important to ask – do I really care how this person is doing? Sometimes, the answer is still no. And that’s okay. It’s fine to just hope in this case. However, the question then arises, when you’re looking to catch up with someone you truly care about, how you can really showcase your interest in the person’s life.

Take a look at the text messages exchanged between you and your best friend. There will be no hope in sight. Rather, your texts will contain a plethora of very concrete questions; “How is it going with that thing?”, “Did you find out about…?”, “Is it over yet?” followed by very detailed responses, usually details that you, the reader, could have lived without actually knowing. (i.e The events that took place the morning after Taco Tuesday)

The bottom line is, there will be a time in every person’s life, sometimes multiple times a day, when they must stare directly into their phone screen and laptop, and spout the words ”I hope you’re well.” It’s embedded into us to hope well for humanity. And although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes instead of hoping well, it’s better to just make sure they are well. You never know what a person is going through unless you ask. Because, unfortunately, we live in a society where there’s no answer other than ‘good’ when it comes to responding ‘how are you?’

So, offer something extra and lend your ears once in awhile. If their story turns out anything like mine, you’ll get a great article topic in return.

What text would you never send to a loved one? Let us know in the comments below! 

Single on Valentine’s Day? It’s going to suck

It’s Valentine’s Day. Isn’t that great?

Two months ago I had a boyfriend. This year would have been the first time I celebrate this “holiday” with a partner. As you can imagine, I was already planning the details. How I would act all surprised when he brought me flowers with a small heart-shaped card asking “will you be my valentine.” He would cook a romantic meal that we would eat by candlelight. Afterwards, a little dancing outside under the stars (in my dream, it’s always warm in February). The perfect, romantic, Valentine’s Day.

And then it all went to shit — as it always does around the holidays. Am I right ladies?

Now, I’m single again. Single on Valentine’s Day. It feels slightly akin to this:

But, I’m used to it. I’m used to the numbing reality of being lonely, with only your parents to send you a quick “I love you” e-card and a box of chocolates to make you feel extra special. Imagine the talk in the office: “ooooo, who gave you those heart-shaped cupcakes??!! Who is the special guy/gal? – Oh, it was my mom.”

But, does Valentine’s Day have to be so crappy for single women? All the magazines tell us that it’s totally fine and there are lots of ways to celebrate this holiday without a partner. Let’s run through the options:

I’m going to focus on self-love this Valentine’s Day: What a bunch of bull shit. Do you think that by going out to a pedicure or treating yourself to a glass of wine, you will forget about how single you are? You know what sounds like a fun time? Going to a fancy restaurant and having a luxurious dinner by yourself while watching as all the couples around you kiss and laugh and dance….yes, that sounds lovely. Sure, I can spend a few hundred dollars on a spa day, surrounded by equally single (or retired) women, drinking gross cucumber water and pretending to be happy. But honestly, it’s just a waste of a lot of money. I’d much rather go to the spa on a day where I can enjoy it.

I like the sentiment. The “I don’t need a man to complete me” philosophy is a good one, but on Valentine’s Day, it all goes out the window. Even the strongest of women are entitled to feel crappy as they watch everyone else pair off. No amount of “self-love” can change that.

I’m going to hang out with my single friends: What single friends? As a millennial in my mid 20s, all of my friends have paired off, and all the single ones bat for the other team. Hanging out with them makes me feel even more alone. Don’t get me wrong, hanging out with friends is always the best bet, especially if you are feeling a bit sad, but it’s not always the best solution. Your friend invites you to a dinner party that night and you may be stuck sitting between couple A and couple B, trying to explain why there was no guy….literally no one….you could have brought.

Let’s say, for argument sakes, you have a solid group of single friends, all looking to hang out and forget about this terrible Hallmark holiday. You go out, drink your fill, and spend the next few hours trying to get the cute guy in the corner to give us the time of day. At the end of the night, all you are left with is a splitting headache and a lot of regret.

 

I’m going to find someone online to spend the evening with: Bad idea. Just a really, really bad idea. I don’t know how much clearer I can be. Anyone online on Valentine’s Day is looking to do just one thing — find a desperate and sad woman willing to have a one-night-stand. I’m sorry, but it’s true. This isn’t Hollywood. No one finds their soulmate on Valentine’s Day. Remember ladies: you never know who is behind the screen. And, if you do decide to meet up with someone, it will never be Ryan Gosling.

 

I’m going to spend time with family: Hi mom! I’m back! Thanks for the cupcakes and the card! Yes, I know I shouldn’t be upset I don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know I deserve better. No, I’m totally fine! Can I have a second helping of mac n’ cheese please?

Seriously though, spending time with family is great. They can be a real comfort when you are feeling down. But, it also emphasizes the fact that, well, you have no where else to be. Unless your family has a tradition of getting together on Valentine’s Day, it’s just a nice reminder that your siblings and friends are all having a romantic evening out and here you are, watching a movie with your mom and dad, pretending everything is normal.

As you can see, the choices are slim. I apologize for my pessimism, but there really is no escaping it. Valentine’s Day is going to suck. Might as well embrace that fact and do it properly — alone, in my pyjamas, with Chinese food and a giant stack of candy, watching A Walk To Remember while clutching a box of Kleenex.

Pro tip: Get to your closest grocery store super early the next day for discount chocolates. It’s really the only positive thing about this stupid holiday. You are welcome.

Will you be single this Valentine’s Day? What will you be doing? Let us know in the comments below!

Time to get naked and comfortable with your partner

Do you find yourself trying to cover up when naked in bed with your partner? Are you racing to put clothes on after the shower? Is being in the nude nearly un-‘bare’-able? You aren’t alone.

Many women dislike being unclothed in front of their partners, and this is ultimately damaging to confidence in a relationship. Women are surrounded by air-brushed lingerie ads of women who are perfect looking, and this leads to damaging self-criticism. This discomfort needs to be destroyed. It is time to throw off the clothes and learn to love that naked body for exactly how beautiful it is. Feeling comfortable being naked in front of your partner will not only strengthen your relationship, it will ultimately make you feel better about yourself.

Embracing the nude isn’t a process that will happen overnight. It takes consistent effort and, if you work at it, slowly but surely it will become completely natural to hang out in the nude with your partner. Start by confronting your fear head-on, the dreaded mirror. After a shower, instead of avoiding your reflection, take a look. Instead of glancing at yourself with critical eyes, try to see what your partner sees. What is beautiful about your sexy body? What makes your feminine self desirable? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and self-criticism is not helpful. High self-esteem starts with yourself, and meeting that beautiful woman in the mirror for a post-shower ego-boost will adjust you to being naked and increase confidence.

Taking care of your body will promote a healthier relationship with your body. This does not mean develop a punishing regiment for daily exercise, but instead should inspire you to learn how to love your body without being fixated on trying to change it. How about a massage or even treating yourself to a manicure and pedicure? Treating your body as a temple will promote a sense of much-needed self-love. Exercise is important and creates a healthy self-image, so challenge yourself to move your body in ways that feel sexy and fun. Do you like to dance? Put on some music and bust a move! Do you enjoy hula hooping or swimming? Grab a hoop or jump in the pool! Moving the body in a fun way makes exercise enjoyable and will make being naked even more fun.

After some serious self-love exercises, it is time to test the waters and try to get naked with your partner. If you are still feeling nervous, enact a ritual to feel more confident like putting a bit of mascara on or putting coconut lotion on your body. If the lighting feels too bright, use a lamp, candles or softer lighting. It creates sexy mood lighting and will make your partner very excited. Remember, your partner wants to be there with you and your beautiful naked self. Men aren’t critically assessing your stretch marks or blemishes, but are simply excited to be with a naked woman they love. Good men are not looking at the flaws, but instead are looking at the woman beneath them. Try and see yourself through the eyes of desire, you will look pretty dang good.
Being naked with a partner will ultimately forge a more intimate relationship, with the added bonus of shaking up your sex life. Be brave, and love your naked body. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and that is precisely what makes women so beautiful. Embrace the body you were given and make it your temple — if only for your own benefit.

“The Two of Us” and the importance of an unfinished ending

The connection between two people can be confirmed in a variety of relationships; mother and daughter, lovers, or a boss and employee. The dialogues and stories that result from the bonds people experience are individualistic and universal at the same time. The Two of Us by Kathy Page is a compilation of short stories that made the longlist for the Giller Prize. This set of stories reflects the commonality of all face-to-face relations between two people, and yet how astoundingly different the partnerships are depending on the role each individual plays in the given scenario.

Initially, it is difficult to find a common association between each of the stories and it appears they are inextricably disconnected.  After meditating on the various stories that Page writes, there is a theme that arises between the tales. Each of the stories is written in intense and vivid detail that hooks the reader in and then concludes before the climax of the story is revealed. “Pigs” is about a husband and wife and ends with the woman thinking about killing her husband, but we never find out what happens next. The setting of the story is carefully laid out and the characters are so well described they feel real, and yet the reader never finds out the concluding element in each of the relationships in the set of short stories.

The lack of a conclusion in the stories is initially maddening, but as they continue it becomes apparent how much these awkward in-between moments reflect reality. Oftentimes in the set-up of a story, it has a distinct beginning, middle and end — it is clear-cut. Life does not work like this, and abandoning the traditional set up of a story gives it more authenticity. My discomfort as a reader reflects my desire for the perfect ending. Instead, abandoning my longing for perfection to embrace the rhythm of Page’s set of stories deepens my acceptance of the never-finished stories in real life.

“The right thing to say” follows a couple who live in Canmore, AB, that are trying to have a baby. The mom-to-be is pregnant and they are having testing done to find out if the child has a genetic defect that would affect the health of the baby. This story hits close to home, and the descriptions of the setting are incredibly vivid. It almost feels as if the reader is sitting next to the worried couple in the hospital. This story reflects the various settings that Page uses, switching between England and Canada. It is interesting because Page is a British author who has resided on Vancouver Island for several years. The stories reflect her intimate familiarity with the two settings and helps the reader to really have confidence in in what is being described.

There is a futuristic element to a few of the stories as well. In “It is July Now”, the tale focuses on a character named Piret who is from Sweden and lives in a socialist society where almost nothing is owned privately. A middle-aged American woman comes to intern at the school and attempts to befriend Piret several times, though it is mostly unsuccessful. There is a stark contrast between the strict and stringent lifestyle of Piret and the American woman who is happier and more free with her money. The story between the two characters ends off without a distinct conclusion and it leaves the reader wondering whether the two women become better friends.

The concluding story of the anthology brings the set of stories together in a fascinating way. “Open Water” features a swim coach named Mitch and one of his swimmers, Tara who lives in Vancouver.  Mitch works with Tara for years on her swimming and when she has the opportunity to go to the Olympics, what happens next will leave the reader shocked.

Page does a very subtle and determined job at showing the reader that life is awkward and the unexpected happens, yet it becomes almost soothing in this series of stories. In one of the stories mentioned, the reader will find intimate commonality with their own life in The Two of Us, and walk away with a stronger understanding of the complexities of the unfinished ending in real life. The anthology comes highly recommended, and definitely a study of the most detailed and intimate way to describe a person and their life through the written word without giving everything away.