Some Brief Thoughts on Love, Addiction and Dealing with Alcoholism

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was in love with a guy who I now understand was an addict. When we got together he was open about his past struggles with alcoholism and drugs, but he assured me that those days were well behind him and that he “no longer had a problem” because he “knew his limits.” Spoiler alert: he didn’t.

Over the next few years, I got a front row seat to his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. The all night coke binges. His angry tirades when he was drunk or high. Getting kicked out of places because my boyfriend was drunk and belligerent. I was only nineteen when I met him and thought (like most people on the cusp of adulthood) that I could handle anything — including “fixing” him. I was wrong. I was young, naive and living alone in a new, big city with almost no support system. In the end, I turned to self-medicating as a way of dealing with the things that were happening in my life.

I’ll never forget the day my roommate told me she thought I might need help. Earlier that day she’d come home from an early morning class to find me passed out drunk on the kitchen floor. Although I never sought formal addiction treatment, I did eventually seek out a therapist who helped me better understand and deal with the reasons I was drinking in the first place. The truth is, I didn’t really start to work through a lot of my issues until I was in my 30’s. While my life is good now, I often wonder how different things would have been if I’d gotten help right then and there.

What I’ve learned from both of these experiences is that you should never be ashamed to get the help you need. With that said, there’s a lot of mystery and misconceptions surrounding what drug and alcohol treatment actually looks like. (I mean, I’ve seen the episode of Californication where Hank Moody does a stint in a rehab, but I’m smart enough to know that the process probably involves less hot celebrities and witty quips around the group therapy circle than what’s shown on screen). This is a cause that’s important to me, so today I’m sharing some info about addiction recovery on behalf of Recovery Village Rehab.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, here’s a few things you should know:

What is drug rehab and treatment?

Drug rehabilitation, commonly referred to as “rehab,” is the process of treatment for dependency on drugs. The purpose of drug rehab is to release a person from the grips of substance abuse. These individuals often seek treatment when their substance use has become compulsive and out of control, and the negative side effects aren’t enough to deter their decisions. There are hundreds of drug rehabilitation centers all over the country designed to help men, women and adolescents struggling with an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both.

Whether you’ve been struggling with addiction for months or years, rehab can be a source of strength for people. Drug rehab centers typically employ a variety of methods to overcome substance use disorder, including programs that range from medical detox to inpatient and outpatient programs. Understanding the process can help you choose the right process for you or the person you love.

The rehab process is typically divided into 4 steps:

  • Assessment: The person seeking treatment meets with a team of counselors and doctors to identify the right treatment plan.
  • Detoxification (detox): In order to begin the rehab process, abused drugs need to be removed from the body. This process can be dangerous, which is why it’s overseen by doctors. Detoxification also involves taking medication to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Rehabilitation: getting drugs and alcohol out of the system is just the beginning. This part of the process involves working with therapists to get at the core reasons the person is using in the first place.
  • Aftercare: The main purpose of aftercare is to ensure the transformation that happened during the rehabilitation process endures. This involves taking steps to ensure that the skills learned during rehabilitation become a part of everyday life.

Kinds of Treatment Programs

Everyone needs something slightly different which is why treatment programs should be tailored to individual needs. Programs for treatment of alcoholism include:

  • Inpatient/residential programs: Residential inpatient treatment is the next step for clients who have completed or are near completion of their detox program. For those in residential inpatient treatment, a medical and non-medical option exists based on the client’s needs.
    Recovery Village Rehab is a type of inpatient rehabilitation center that is designed for specific patient’s needs. It offers various treatment options, wellness programs and support to clients to enhance healing.
  • Partial hospitalization: This is for people who have stable situation but are in need of continuous medical monitoring. The program is conducted between 3 and 5 days a week for up to 6 hours a day. Treatment is done during the day and the client can go home in evening.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation: An option for individuals whose addiction is less severe and doesn’t require inpatient treatment. Clients in this phase of rehab drug treatment visit the facility regularly, but do not stay overnight. This approach allows the individual to receive drug treatment while maintaining family and job responsibilities.
  • Individual, group or family therapy. Aftercare is so important. Therapy helps in identifying the root cause of addiction while building relationships and helping patients learn coping skills.

In conclusion, I wish I’d known more about these options when I was younger — or at the very least sought counseling to talk through the reasons why I felt I needed to self-medicate. This is all to say that there’s help available and that there’s absolutely no shame in getting it.

Gorgeous photo by Stephanie Dimiskovski and found via Pinterest.

Thanks for tuning in for this very special episode of Skinny Dip! This post was brought to you by Recovery Village Rehab. Thanks for supporting the posts that support Skinny Dip. xx

Five Things I’ve Learned About Sex From Writing About It

I was speaking to an editor I work with recently, and she mentioned the post I wrote announcing my semi-retirement from sex blogging. “It seems like you started your blog to work out stuff about your sexuality and now you’ve kind of done that,” she said. Sometimes all it takes is a simple comment like that from someone else to make you realize that yes, that’s exactly what you’ve been doing all along. I started this blog in 2009 so I’d have a place to share all of my bizarre dating stories and showcase my writing, but it became so much more than that.

Through Skinny Dip I’ve been able to sort through my feelings about dating, relationships, my body and my sexuality. While I’ve mostly retired from reviewing sex toys and no longer feel the need to share so much about my current love life on this blog, I still thought it would be fun to look back and share some of the things I’ve learned about myself over the past nine years (oof) of blogging.

1. Explore and experiment to your heart’s content.

I thought I had a pretty good handle on my body and self-pleasure before I started this blog, but trying a bazillion different sex toys for the purpose of writing about them has definitely expanded that knowledge in positive ways. I can now look at the shape of a toy or feel it’s vibration patterns on my fingers and make a very good educated guess as to whether I’ll enjoy it (and while I’m occasionally still surprised, I’m usually right). The point here: don’t be afraid to experiment with different gadgets or props — even the really weird looking sex toys. Worst case scenario, you’ll learn more about what you do and don’t like.

2. If you don’t like something or it doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean you’re broken.

There are plenty of stores online that claim they sell the best sex machines but not all toys are created equal or are designed with every human body in mind. What’s mind blowing for one person, is going to be a flop for someone else. For example, I’ve learned through trial and error that wand vibes like the ever popular Hitachi Magic Wand, just don’t work for me AT ALL. I’d much rather use something small and precise like the Crave Duet (a vibe that another blogger hailed as a flop). Long story short: not everything is going to work for everyone and that’s okay. Life would be kind of boring if everyone got off in the exactly same way. Keep trying stuff until you find what works for you.

3. You’re not required to define your sexuality for other people.

When I decided last spring to finally explore my bi-sexuality, I felt pressure to define my sexuality for other people. I thought it would be easier to explain myself and fit in with the queer community if I gave myself a label (queer, bi, hetero-flexible etc) — and I wasn’t totally wrong about the first one. People like clearly defined labels because they’re easier to digest. However, like Justin Bobby from The Hills, “I’m just not into labels” — at least when it comes to my sexuality. It wasn’t until I was on my first really great date with a woman and my date told me, “no one in the gay community is going to force you to define yourself,” that I felt comfortable just letting things be. The truest thing I can say about my sexuality is that I am a woman who mostly dates and loves men, but sometimes has romantic and sexual feelings for women.

4. You know yourself better than anyone else and it’s okay to like what you like, however kinky or vanilla that may be. 

I’ve written about the ridiculous assumptions people have about me because I write about sex. For example, that I must be super kinky and/or sleep with evvvvveryone (I mean, really guys?) Nine years in and I’m really tired of having to explain on a weekly basis that I don’t have my very own sex dungeon (however, I’d kill for some more shoe storage space). While writing about sex has definitely opened my mind to new things and encouraged me to explore my sexuality, it’s also helped reconfirm what I’ve known to be true about myself all along: that I can enjoy different kinds of sexual experiences, but the kind I crave most isn’t necessarily very kinky. I want sex that is super passionate, but also includes a great mind-body/emotional connection. This isn’t always easy to find, which is part of the reason I don’t have as much sex as people probably think I do. Like #3, I also used to feel the need to explain this to people, until I realized that it’s no one’s business but my own.

5. Stay open.

Not only am I more open-minded when it comes to my own desires, writing about sex has given me a greater appreciation for the diversity of human sexuality. While I know myself a lot better than I did nine years ago and I still have some “hard passes” when it comes to dating and sex, I’m also open to those beliefs and desires changing. Sexuality isn’t static. It’s okay to evolve and change over time. In other words, know yourself but never say never.


20 Things You Should Know Before You Go To Hedonism II in Jamaica


In January, I spent four days at the notorious clothing-optional sex resort, Hedonism ii in Negril, Jamaica. Having recently visited topless optional resort, Temptation Cancun this past October, I thought I was prepared for my time at a swingers resort in Jamaica. I mean, how different could the two resorts be? Naked bodies? Check. Lots of sun & booze? Check. But really, nothing could have fully prepared me for Hedonism Jamaica.

I wrote about my experiences at the nudist sex resort recently in the Toronto Sun, but I thought it would be helpful to provide a few tips on what it’s like to go this clothing-optional resort.

1. You don’t have to be naked all the time.

You can wear clothes if you want! The resort is clothing optional and is divided into two separate areas — the “nude side” (where no clothes are allowed) and the “prude side” (where clothing is optional). You’re required to wear clothing in the public dining areas, however what counts as clothing at Hedo (as the regulars call it) is vague at best. It’s not uncommon to see people in see-through garments, fetish costumes or lingerie, just casually grabbing something from the dinner buffet. The longer you’re at the resort (and the more rum punch you consume), the less of a big deal this becomes.

2. But you will see a lot of naked people.

Even if you stick to the clothing-optional “prude” areas, you will still see a lot of naked bodies of literally every imaginable age, shape, size and gender. You will see nude dudes. You will see nude girls. JUST. SO. MANY. NAKED. BODIES. As I texted my friend on my first day at Hedonism ii, “it’s only 11am and I’ve already seen way more foreskin than is humanly necessary.” A few days in, you’ll get so used to the nudity that you’ll almost stop noticing it. Almost.

3. It’s swinger friendly.

It’s not officially a swingers resort. It’s also not officially a nudist resort. However, it’s definitely nudist and swinger and/or lifestyle friendly. I visited the adult’s only resort on a press trip in January during “Lifestyle Takeover Month,” so it was mostly couples (350 swingers + 5 female journalists. What could possibly wrong?) and the crowd was mostly aged 40+. Similar to my other adult only resort experience, in general the guests were older. I met lots of people in their 50’s, 60’s and older — and yes, they were naked. In general though, if you’re looking to play with another couple or individual(s), you’ll probably find some like-minded folks there.

4. You will see people having sex in public.

My first full day at the resort I walked out of my room, looked up and noticed my neighbors having sex on their balcony. They were eerily silent and all that could be heard from below was the sound of flesh slapping flesh. Lack of sound aside, public sex is the norm here and don’t have to go far to see it — especially on the nude side of the resort. Which brings me to my next point…

5. You will see things that can’t be unseen.

In the words of SNL’s Stefan, “this resort has everything!” Elderly men in thongs. Multiple women fellating one man in the Jacuzzi. People eating chicken naked. Strippers. Orgies. A stage show that involves melted soft-serve ice cream (I think/hope). Awkward naked crouching. SO. MANY. PENISES. It’s all here folks.


Two babes, a penis float & a beach ? #nobasicbach

A post shared by Simone Paget (@simone_paget) on

6. There’s a room for that.

Want to have sex in public but don’t want the awkward chafing of the pool deck? Head to the Romping Shop Playroom. It’s basically a room filled with mattresses and writhing bodies. There’s also a bondage and kink area in an adjacent room. File this under: things that can’t be unseen.

7. There’s a culture of consent.

The goal of the resort is to provide a safe place, so there’s a strict ask before you touch policy. Anyone who is caught acting out of line and/or making people feel uncomfortable will be removed from the property by the staff. So, if you see something, say something.

8. The gift shop carries everything you need…and also a few items that you can’t imagine ever wanting or needing.

Like a penis shaped lighter that’s also a vibrator, a very confusing children’s book OR other items.


9. Going with a partner? Discuss boundaries first.

All the guests I spoke to said the same thing: if you’re coming as a couple, you need to discuss boundaries  before you get on the plane, so when you arrive you’re both on the same page. As Rick and Margaret — the couple I interviewed for my Toronto Sun piece — told me, “in order to have a good time at Hedonism, you need to trust one and other and be secure in your relationship. Come to the resort because you want to enhance your relationship, not because you’re trying to fix it.”

10. The resort isn’t fancy.

If you’re looking for a high-end luxury resort, Hedonism is probably not for you. The resort is a bit older and has a laid-back, lived in vibe. Guests come for the sex-filled, anything-goes atmosphere and the unorthodox “perks” (see above).

11. Bring your own shampoo.

My bathroom had hand-soap and a full-sized tube of ‘hair and body wash’ but no shampoo, conditioner or body lotion. If you need these items, I suggest bringing your own.


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#tbt to two weeks ago when I had actual hair volume (hi, I missed you) & was wearing colours.

A post shared by Simone Paget (@simone_paget) on

12. There’s an all you can eat soft serve ice cream station in the main dining room that’s open all night.

Need I say more? This was literally one of my favorite aspects of my stay.

13. The beach grill is your best bet for lunch.

Although the buffet is open for lunch, I ate at the beach grill which serves Jamaican and American comfort food (grilled cheese, fries, jerk chicken etc). Having lived in Toronto for 12 years, I’m picky when it comes to my Jamaican food. A guest favorite, the jerk chicken didn’t wow me, but I loved the curried goat and ribs — washed down with a Pina Colada of course.


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I’m going to miss these lunches at @hedonismjamaica #nobasicbach #oxtailfordays

A post shared by Simone Paget (@simone_paget) on

14. Eat at Harrysan for dinner.

Sure, you may have to wait for a table but it’s worth it. Harrysan’s Jamaican twist on Japanese Teppenyaki & sushi was my favourite meal at the resort. My advice: if you like fish, try the freshly grilled catch of the day. The fish is so fresh, it melts in your mouth.

15. Don’t wear your best shoes.

Planning to bring your favourite pair of shoes? Just don’t. Between impromptu tropical rainstorms, slippery pool decks and errant spills of all kinds, things have a way of getting messy at all inclusive resorts. I learned this the hard way when I threw up all over my brand new $475 Stuart Weitzman gladiator heels after my first and last Flaming Bob Marley shot.


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Yesterday I had a stereotypical work from home day & forgot to shower until noon. Posting this as a reminder that sometimes I do wear real clothes. Dress @aritzia, shoes @stuartweitzman #tbt

A post shared by Simone Paget (@simone_paget) on

16. If someone offers you a Bob Marley shot, just say no.

Made with Grenadine, Galliano, Creme de Menthe, Overproof rum and lit on fire, the Bob Marley shot is both fruity and minty, making you feel like you just drank a large glass of Koolaid and mouthwash at the same time. There’s no way drinking this can end well (see above re: shoes).

17. The spa is one of the nicest areas of the hotel.

I don’t know what this says about me as a sex writer, but my favorite part of adult themed resorts is always the spa. The spa at Hedonism is newly renovated with high ceilings and an assortment of natural, locally made products for sale. It’s the perfect space to retreat to for a massage if you need a break from the party.


18. If you want to eat chicken late at night, you’re going to have to strip down.

There are two beach grills. The one that is open all night is located adjacent to the nude pool. If you want to sit and eat there, you can’t wear clothes. This is either the best thing or the worst thing ever, depending on who you ask.

19. Seems quiet? The party is probably happening at the nude pool.

One of the most disconcerting things about Hedonism is how quiet it seems during the day. On the days I was there, the “prude” areas of the resort felt almost deserted. As I discovered, that’s because the party is mostly happening on the nude side of the resort, with the pool being the nucleus of the debauchery. If you set foot there, be prepared to see more things that can’t be unseen (i.e. public sex).

20. All bodies are beach bodies.

Real talk: Hedonism II is not for everyone. There’s nudity. There’s sex. But there’s also a lot of acceptance. Similar to my experience at Temptation, I left the resort with a greater appreciation for my own body (flaws and all) and one massive hangover.

To sum up, Hedonism ii is either going to be your ultimate fantasy or your worst nightmare. You may end up loving it and becoming a regular (I met a lot of couples that have been coming there for 15+ years!) or you may end up wanting to burn your clothes by the end of your stay (or somewhere in between). It all depends on who you are and what you’re looking for in a vacation. All I can say is that Hedonism ii is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Would you ever go to a nude resort?


How to Become Amazing at Talking to Women on the Phone


Want to show me you’re interested? Pick up the phone and call me. Phone calls used to be the norm, but somewhere along the line with the advent of texting, they’ve become the exception. While I’d still prefer texting for most forms of communication, there’s something to be said about the phone call — especially when it comes to catching up with old friends or getting to know a new love interest. I love hearing the other person’s voice and their laughter instead of just their LOL’s. When someone I’m interested in calls me, I get butterflies and my spirits soar like I’m Drake dancing in the Hotline Bling video.

With that said, a lot of people still feel awkward talking on the phone. When the team at Livelinks approached me, I thought it was the perfect oppertunity to share some of my conversation tips for talking on the phone.

1. Invest in a headset.

The biggest complaint I hear from people re: phone conversations is that they “don’t have time to just sit and talk for hours.” I feel you, guys. Unlike texting, where you can distractedly watch back to back episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine while you send witty quips back and forth with your crush, talking on the phone requires a bit more mental focus and presence. My suggestion: get a phone that allows you to plug in earphones. I have an iPhone 8 and if I’m planning on making a phone call longer than a few minutes, I attach my headset. This allows me to do other things around the house or even go for a walk while I catch up with my favorite people.

2. Ask open ended questions.

Not sure what to say? Start by asking open-ended questions (I.e. questions that can’t be easily answered with “yes” or “no”) and let them take the lead talking-wise. What are you passionate about? Where have you traveled? This could even be as simple as asking, “what’s new and exciting with you?” In other words, if you’re not sure what to say, make it all about her. Not only will it take the pressure off, it will also send the message that you’re legit interested in learning more about them (always a good thing). If it helps, make a list of open-ended questions before you pick up the phone and keep them handy.

3. Listen actively.

Don’t zone out. If you’ve asked an open ended question and they’ve answered, follow it up with another open-ended question to show that you’re paying attention (“Oh, you traveled to Spain. What was your favorite part?”)

4. Don’t make it all about you.

Ugh. There’s nothing worse than having a one-sided phone conversation where all the other person does is talk about themselves. With that said, if you’re nervous or the other person isn’t saying much, it’s easy to default to stream of consciousness rambling. To avoid turning your phone chat into a therapy session, think back to those  open-ended questions. Make sure you’re asking your phone date questions and giving them the chance to do the same.

5. Don’t overthink it.

Just because you have them on the phone, doesn’t mean you have to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets. Talk to them about stuff you’re comfortable about and just be yourself. Remember, it’s just a conversation.

6. Make her laugh.

There’s a reason why people always list “sense of humor” as one of their most desirable attributes in a partner. Laughter is a huge turn-on. While I don’t suggest you go into the conversation attempting to be a comedian, keeping things light and playful is a great place to start.

7. End the conversation with an ask.

So, the conversation has gone well and now it’s time to sign off. Don’t hang up the phone without locking down the next steps. Whether it’s asking her out on a date or scheduling your next phone chat, make the other person feel like the conversation was a good use of their time by setting up future plans.

8. Channel your inner Winston from New Girl.

Lastly, it all comes down to confidence. I love the show New Girl and my favorite character Winston. While Winston is kind of awkward in real life, we learn in the later seasons that he’s inexplicably good on the phone (and well, it’s pretty hilarious). The point here is that you can be awkward in real life and still have good phone etiquette. Stick to the tips mentioned above and channel your inner Winston. You’ve totally got this!

PS. If you’re looking for a place to try out these new tips, try Livelinks (1-888-507-1136). Thanks for supporting the posts that support Skinny Dip.

How To Stop Delaying Good Sex & Travel Until Your Body Changes


You saw that sparkling picture on Instagram. Your friend came back from her trip and raved about the food, the margaritas, and those postcard-stunning views. You’ve dreamed of traveling there since you were a kid but… That particular destination involves wearing a bikini? IN PUBLIC? And shorts? And see-through caftans? And sleeveless everything? Uh, hard pass.

How many times have you considered a weekend road trip, an afternoon hike, or a red eye flight to an exotic location, but you didn’t book it because of how your body looks?

The internet is full of heartbreaking statistics about how many women think “I hate my body” at least once a day. And as much of a bummer as that internal monologue is all on its own, it leads to more sad statistics that say that women are more likely to cancel plans, skip out on job interviews, and avoid travel and outdoor activities, all because of how we feel about our bodies.

3 copy

I’ve written about how my feelings about my body have changed and evolved since entering my thirties. While I’d like to say that this is just a natural consequence of aging, I know it’s more than that.  After I turned 30, something called Instagram happened and I feel like it changed everything. I’ve always had a pretty healthy, secure, relationship with my body, but even I sometimes feel “less than” compared to the plethora of perfectly tanned, buff, influencers that can be found posing in exotic locations with Rapunzel like locks and washboard abs. While I try and disengage from media that makes me feel bad, when I was researching my recent trips to Mexico and Jamaica, I found myself scrolling through these kinds of photos and wondering if I was fit enough/cool enough to visit these locations.

(SPOILER ALERT: we’re ALL hot enough/cool enough do anything we want.)

I can’t be the only person who feels this way, so I reached out to my friend Annika Martins, who’s a Body & Visibility Coach for women entrepreneurs (and also travels 4-8 months a year), and asked her to chime in. Over to her…

Beach bay dress

** Hey, Skinny Dip hunnies! Annika here. Simone and Joe the Intern are my favorite taco-noshin’ crew, so I’m thrilled to give some love to their community.

Here are 5 tips on how you can travel NOW, instead of waiting until your body changes to feel good about yourself (hint: that never works):

Start small and low-key.

Even though I grew up on a Caribbean island, I was so ashamed of my bigger body that I avoided the beach like the plague (despite craving the ocean daily). As an adult, I worked hard at finding true confidence in a swimsuit, and one of the things that helped was starting off gently, with secluded local spots and then quieter, low-traffic travel destinations.

Go during the low-season. Stay at a more mellow resort or an even more private AirBnb.

Those first few times wearing a swimsuit or shorts in public were a BIG deal, so instead of adding to my anxiety by strutting onto a crowded beach, I started somewhere small and low-key. This gave me the mental space to get comfortable with something that had previously been terrifying, and it allowed me to remember the real reason I wanted to wear the swimsuit in the first place: the water on my skin, the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, and that powdery soft sand between my toes.

Get your mind right BEFOREHAND.

How we feel about our bodies has very little to do with our actual bodies – it’s entirely about what we think of our bodies, so doing some inner work before your trip is key.

Empowering affirmations. Mantras that soothe. Take a non-permanent marker or post-it notes to write encouraging words on your hotel room bathroom mirror.

red dress at Valencia_preview

Most important of all: Prepare a mini-script of things you want to tell yourself if / when you start to feel insecure or panicky. Trying to uplift yourself when you’re overwhelmed and anxious becomes so much easier if you’ve prepared a few bullet points beforehand so you’re not scrambling to come up with healthy self-talk on the spot.

DON’T GO (yet).

There’s a time for pushing beyond our comfort zone and there’s a time for acknowledging that we’re forcing something that truly doesn’t feel right yet (and that’s a guaranteed way to have a crappy travel experience), so if a trip feels entirely out of the cards right now, ask yourself this:

What’s the best & closest possibility?

Instead of getting on the plane or booking that camel trek right this second, how can you experience a small piece of that travel adventure NOW?

Is it having dinner at an Indian restaurant that brings out belly dancers after dessert? Or scrolling through Pinterest pics of your dream destination and visualizing yourself there? Or maybe it’s going to a local pool when no one’s there, or a secluded park to ‘practice’ wearing your vacation-wear?

Choose the best and closest possibility, and then another, and another, until you’re ready to plunk down your passport for the adventure of a lifetime!

Annika Martins runs The Embody Collective – a body image & visibility program for women who want to show up more fully in their body, professional life, relationships, everything. Find her on Instagram or check out her Embody program here.

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