Break it Off with Smoking. So I Don’t Have to Break it Off with You.

This post is sponsored by Break it Off  — a Canadian Cancer Society campaign designed to help young Canadians end their relationship with smoking for good.

Today I’m going to talk about something I am passionate about: quitting smoking.

“But Simone, I thought this blog was supposed to be about sex, dating, relationships and your obsession with shoes & overpriced hand bags?!”

Smoking and dating are integrally connected – at least for me. Three of my “big loves” have been smokers. Having to watch the person you love slowly kill themselves by smoking (while harming your health in the process) is one one of the most painful and frustrating things to have to endure.

Besides, there’s nothing sexy about kissing someone who has been smoking. The taste of cigarettes is now a huge libido killer for me.  If you smoke, we’re not getting it on.

This is why I thought the Break it Off Campaign was ingenious because they have likened quitting smoking to breaking up and ending a relationship. Because really, that’s what quitting smoking is all about. When you are smoking it’s like  you’re dating a terrible boyfriend/girlfriend who’s super clingy. Your friends & family can’t stand them, they drain your wallet and they stink up your home & clothing whenever they come over. Oh yeah- and they secretly want to kill you. You wouldn’t stand for this kind of treatment from a partner! Why are you accepting it from cigarettes?! You’re worth more than that.

When you are going through any kind of break-up it helps to have support. This is why the Break It Off campaign has come up with some very helpful tools to help you kick cigarettes to the curb for good. Those of you who are interested in saying “Adios” to cigarettes can start by visiting the Break It Off website where you’ll find break-up methods from an unbiased source. Smokers can also upload their phone number to have a Quit Coach contact them. Quit coaches are specially trained counselors available to help you through the break-up process.

The website is divided up into different break-up stages such as “Get it over with”, “Stay Split Up” and “Move on with Life” and  is packed full of information on how to survive your break-up with smoking.

If you are ready to have “The Talk”  there is a section where you can upload a video of you breaking it off with smoking (something you can do even if you don’t smoke but like me, want to end your relationship with smoking) Quitting smoking can be a lonely experience. By sharing break-up videos we can all motivate each other. I’m actually considering making my own video (if I can get over my fear of my web cam) and I encourage you to do the same!

Because no relationship or break-up is really “official” these days until it’s on Facebook, you can change your relationship status with smoking by going to the Break it off on Facebook App that can be accessed via the website.

There is also a smartphone app that you can download for iPhone and Android. The app includes a list of typical “triggers” for smoking and tips on how to overcome them. It also provides the option of calling a Quit Coach.

Feeling jittery and like you can’t relax? The app gives you some tips on how to mitigate this & directs you to a free yoga video! (Can we just take a moment to acknowledge how awesome this is? I wish I had an app that showed me yoga videos whenever I was feeling stressed!)

The app also shows your “break-up timeline” and allows you to track your wins, cravings & slip ups.

For all the smokers out there I hope you join us in “the world’s biggest break-up” and tell cigarettes “It’s not me. It’s you.”

Because not smoking is sexy.



Go Easy on Yourself.

One of my favorite people on the internet – Carly from Crowning Venus – posted this video on her blog last week. I know most of you have probably already seen it since it made it’s rounds on Twitter and Facebook but I’m re-blogging it anyways because I love it so much.

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

Watching it reminded me that we live in a society full of conflicting messages. Where the “beauty ideal” doesn’t really exist. Where  “Human Barbie Mom”  thinks it’s OK to give her 7 year old daughter gift certificates for stuff like  breast augmentation surgery and mini tummy tuck surgery in her Christmas stocking. Where TV ads for weight loss drugs play during the same commercial break as ads for Burger King. Where magazine headlines encourage us to dissect and hate on other women’s bodies so we can feel better about ourselves (“Worst Celebrity Beach Bodies Ever!”) while at the same time scrutinizing our own (“How to get thinner thighs NOW!”). Love Yourself. Hate Yourself. Eat. Don’t Eat. Consume. Consume. Consume. If this is the background noise to our daily lives, is it really surprising that eating disorders and other mental health issues such depression and anxiety are on the rise?  Everyday we’re fighting a war against the cognitive dissonance  that surrounds us and some of us are literally losing our shit.

Even if you manage to block out most of this negativity there is still a lot of noise to contend with on a daily basis. I’ve grown up as part of what I like to call the “Oprah Generation.” I’m a middle class woman who has had it hammered into her that she should be attune to her own needs, follow her dreams and live the best possible version of her life...because she can. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the self help messages that are out there. Live authentically. Live with Intention. Live in the moment. Affirmations. Goals. Inspiration Boards. Meditate. Juice. Cleanse. Eat meat. Don’t eat Meat. Go Gluten free. Find a spirit animal. Paint your life in crayons to get in touch with your inner child. Have a baby. Don’t have a baby. Be a feminist. These so called “positive messages” can be just as overwhelming as the negative ones. As someone who currently is self employed and spends the majority of their workday online, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the amazing, entrepreneurial things the people around me are doing & start thinking: “I’m not working hard enough! I’m not dreaming big enough! I should be doing more!”


It’s all this noise that sometimes distracts me from taking stock of what I’ve accomplished. For example, following the holidays I had a bit of extra “junk in the trunk” that I wanted to lose. I haven’t been going to the gym lately because my joints have been bothering me. Instead, I’ve been eating healthy and going for power walks. Over the past two weeks I’ve walked to and from all my appointments. When I Google mapped it last night I calculated that I have walked 19.6 km this week and close to 40 km over the past two weeks. The Christmas weight is gone, however the other night I had a moment in front of the mirror where I said:

My ass still doesn’t look as good as it did when I was working out at the gym 4 times a week”

That’s fucked up.

I’ve walked the equivalent of a marathon this month.

Once I allowed this information to sink in, I took a cue from Carly and decided to cut myself some slack and focus on the things I have accomplished:

This week I’ve blogged. I’ve written for Canadian Living. I’ve written for Elle. I’ve gone to counseling. I’ve gone to the dentist. I’ve seen my friends. I’ve read. I’ve eaten well. I’ve booked a trip to Vegas (!!!!!) I’ve walked the equivalent of a freaking half marathon. I’ve done all of this even though my heart feels completely tattered and hanging by a thread. I’ve pushed through.

I’m proud of myself. Why is that so hard to admit?

If you’ve ever felt like this too, here is my proposition: Let’s be kinder to ourselves. Celebrate what we like about ourselves. Celebrate the big accomplishments but also the baby steps. Leave the negativity to the haters. Let’s go easy on ourselves.

Here’s to being imperfect & fabulous!

Happy Weekend! xo

Learning to Spend on the Right Things

I didn’t make any real New Years Resolutions this year (except for one: “Learn how to drive” – more on that later). I already have a long list of things I have been working on since November. One of the things I do want to focus on in 2012 is “spending money on the right things.”

When I sat down in November to brainstorm on ways I could improve my life & love myself a little bit more, I noticed a lot of things were out of balance:

I had a brand-new, unworn Alexander Wang top in my closet but I hadn’t been to the dentist in over a year. I love my Prada eye-glasses that I wear in the evening but I can’t watch any films with subtitles because I have neglected to get the prescription updated (for like, 2 years).  I always seem to have money for nights out with friends but I can’t use my lap-top (the computer I use every day to write and work) without plugging it in because the battery has been dead for god knows how long. My daily wardrobe consists of a lot of white or light colored tops but the only flesh-toned bra I own died about a year ago. Since then I’ve just been wearing black bras with my white T-shirts in hopes that everyone will think I’m doing it on purpose to be “edgy and urban”. I have the confidence to pull this off but really, I just need to buy more bras. Of course there are also all the chiropractic appointments, doctors appointments and bills which were all put off because my mind and wallet always seemed to be elsewhere.

Yes, I have messed up priorities of the First World kind.

I’ve known these truths about myself for a long time but have just been in denial. Although I do enjoy the pretty things I am fortunate enough to own, by not taking care of other areas of my life I’ve created a lot of extra stress. A lot of the negative thoughts I have about myself relate back to how I manage my finances. I want to love myself more and part of that means changing the way I spend my money.

While I am on this topic – I’m pretty sure I’m not the only young professional woman who has felt like this at some point. I feel like we live in a culture where we’re told that it’s OK to make certain sacrifices in order to look good or have fun. When I used to work in high-end retail, several of my co-workers would routinely forgo real groceries and live on a ramen noodle diet just so they could afford the latest $750 handbag on a retail salary. A good friend of mine recently confessed that she owns 20 Marc Jacobs handbags (at $400 a pop) but feels sad that she’s never traveled internationally. I call this the “Carrie Bradshaw-ification” of society. It seems like somewhere along the line we lost our way and it became OK, even chic, cute & urban, to own a closet full of very expensive shoes at the cost of being able to do other things like own your own home. How did this happen and how do we make it stop?

Although I’ll never forgo good food for fashion (I love my veggies & whole grains too much) and try to travel whenever I get the chance, I’ve definitely been the girl at the party with the killer vintage Chanel handbag who has to demurely reach into her handbag mid-conversation to turn the ringer off her phone because creditors are calling about her  large unpaid phone bill. There’s nothing cool or glamorous about it. It’s actually just a shitty scenario that makes me feel like I failed somewhere while on the path to becoming a fully functioning adult.

The great thing about this situation is that I have the power to change it.

So, what does “spending on the right things” mean?

For me, it’s not just about spending money, it’s about spending the time to actually take note of what my real needs are. It means looking after myself, paying my bills first and only spending on experiences & things that will improve my quality of life.

This holiday season, with the help of loved ones, I’ve been able to get a few things that I actually need that will improve my life in small (but large) ways:

1. Matryosh-keys Key Covers: Following my move in October, I realized I had way too many keys on my key ring that all looked very similar. Opening the front door to my apartment building would always involve a few minutes of utter confusion trying to figure out what goes where. I saw these key covers at Nood in Victoria ($6) and decided they would be the perfect way to separate my keys and play up my Eastern European heritage at the same time. It may seem inconsequential but no longer having to spend that 2 minutes feeling frustrated every time I leave my house makes a big difference.

2. The Magic Bullet:  This sounds like it should be the name of yet another luxury sex toy but it’s actually a blender. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about a blender before but I love this thing! I like to make green smoothies but I have been avoiding making them because my blender is difficult to clean and it doesn’t fit in my new fridge so I can’t store leftovers. Now I can make a single serving smoothie with less fuss and waste. (Thanks Mom!)

3. Ombrello Black Riding Boots. These are probably one of the nicest gifts anyone has given me. My shoe collection is full of pretty high heels but the boots that I wear on a daily basis were worn out, hurting my feet and causing back problems. My Mom bought me these for Christmas and I absolutely love them. They’re incredibly comfortable, great quality, water-proof and I feel amazing whenever I wear them. I know I’ll have these boots for many years to come.

4. Michael Kors purse: This was my Christmas gift to myself. I know what you are thinking: THIS WOMAN CAN’T POSSIBLY NEED ANOTHER BAG. Yes, I do have a bit of a handbag “problem” but let me explain: I  love my purse collection but I realized something recently: a lot of my bags aren’t cut out for day to day wear. With the exception of my black Longchamp bag & a few summer purses, when loaded up with my daily essentials they hurt my shoulder (and this dominoes into back pain). My body was in pain all the time so I just didn’t notice. This purse isn’t as exciting as some of my other ones but it’s actually comfortable! Plus, it’s a bit smaller which will encourage me to carry less stuff on a daily basis. It was brand new but previously owned so I was able to get it at a very good price. No shoulder pain = worth every penny.

My Dad, instead of giving me a physical Christmas gift, decided to pay for some of my counselling sessions which is way better than anything he could have physically put under the tree.

Instead of hitting up the Aritzia winter sale (which I do enjoy oh so much) I’m using that money to book an appointment with a personal trainer.

Now when I’m faced with making a purchase I try and ask myself “Do I need it? Am I going to feel good about myself for spending my money on this?” If the answer is “no” and the money would be better spent on something I need more, I walk way. Taking control like this feels pretty amazing.

I’ve also started keeping a list of things I actually need and only shopping from that list. It takes a bit of discipline but it works! I already have my next purchase planned out: an electric toothbrush. It’s never too early to start preventing gum disease.

I wonder if Carrie Bradshaw ever worried about her gums?

What does “spending on the right things” mean to you?

Up, Down, Turn Around. 2011: A Year in Posts

I saw a post like this on Teacher Girl Blogs and loved the idea. 2011 was full of so many twists and turns that I thought highlighting some of my favorite posts would be a fun & useful way of re-capping everything that has happened. Here we go!

January: 2011 got off to a rough start with me bawling in front of the TV while watching Teen Wolf with my Mom on New Years Eve. As low as I felt at that moment, my crappy NYE lead to some much needed self reflection and one of my favorite blog posts of the year. After 7 long years apart, I reconnected with my good friend Chris and we had a fun, vodka fueled night on the town. I wrote about the importance of feeling sexy and I signed up for Bloggers in Sin City – an event that later would turn out to be one of the highlights of the year.

February: I got food poisoning and my blog temporarily crashed. Despite those set backs, this was still a good writing month for me. I came to the conclusion that one of the best parts of being 30 is being able to say “NO” to stuff without feeling guilty. I re-read the book Wifey by Judy Blume and reflected on how I learned about sex. I put my home decorating skills to test and I created the perfect boudoir/dressing area in my bedroom.

March: After receiving a Facebook friend request from an ex, I came to the conclusion that broken hearts are sometimes a good thing (especially when they save you from dating a dude who wears mandals). I shared my story about coming out as a blogger. This month I started two new recurring features: Things I would Tell my 20-Year Old Self (where I give advice to my younger self) and When Sex Toys Go Hilariously Wrong (where I introduced the world to the “tiny neon pink penis”)

April: I left my job at the anonymous fancy Canadian business school and attended Toronto Fashion Week to celebrate. I worked with WIND mobile to promote the movie Textuality. I learned that there are only six degrees of separation between me and Kevin Bacon (I KNOW right?) I attended the red carpet the premiere of Textuality and I met Jason Lewis (Hollywood’s most leathery man under 50) Although my photo opp with him was comically botched, it still ranks as one of my “coolest moments as a blogger” thus far.

May: I started what I thought was my “dream job” – working as a Communication Manager for my alma mater. My shoe collection was featured on my friend Cristina’s shoe blog and I wrote about creepy animal shaped sex toys. I ended May with a bang by flying to Vegas to attend Bloggers in Sin City where I met tons of awesome people, drank booze out a guitar and realized that I’m becoming the person I was always wanted to be. It was an amazing, magical, glitter filled weekend.

June: Still on a high from Vegas, I created a Las Vegas Survival Guide, learned important life lessons from the cast of Beverly Hills 90210 and discovered that my razor looks like a penis. June was also the month I started reviewing sex toys and kicked things off with a review of my first rabbit vibrator.

July: When my “dream job” turned into a living nightmare, I looked to my favorite female TV characters for inspiration. Even though things were rough at work, I spent a lovely night filled with champagne, chocolates and books at the launch for “The Single Girl’s To-Do List” where I met the author Lindsey Kelk. I reconnected with my friend also named Lindsay (who would later become my room mate) and wrote one of my favorite posts ever. 

August: With things settled down a bit at work, I was actually able to enjoy the rest of the summer in Toronto. My friend Ellen came to visit Toronto and there were lots of weekends spent outside at the beach or the pool. My blog turned two in August and started a series of Flashback posts to celebrate. I also wrote about how hairdressers are like boyfriends. At the end of the month I left my job at the university and decided to try freelancing full-time.

September: I turned 31 on September 11th! I wrote about why I don’t like the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and I remembered 9/11. I continued writing the Flashback posts and talked about letting go of your 20’s.

October: I like to think of October as my “lost month” The blog was offline for most of the month due to technical issues. In retrospect, this was probably for the best because most of the stuff that happened this month was sad. I broke up with my long time boyfriend of 6 years and moved out of our house into a new apartment. I was mostly running on fumes but still somehow I managed to film a reality show and speak at a conference. I’m so glad I decided to do both of these things because they kept me from completely falling apart and losing my mind.

November: The blog came back! I launched a new design and made the decision to come home to BC for awhile to spend time with my family. I discovered that even when things feel like they are falling apart at the seams, the universe will give you exactly what you need. This was also the month I started working with Ohhh Canada – a partnership I’m really excited about!

December: It’s been a fun and busy month of working on myself and spending time with friends & family.  I also reignited my Muppet fandom and came to the startling realization that my hoo-ha has really bad taste in music.  The highlight of the month was going to see Prince with my Mom – one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen & favorite moments of 2011.

Last year I spent the turn of the New Year feeling sad, worn down and broken. The only resolution I made was “I don’t want to feel that way again” when 2012 rolls around (sounds kind of like a Red Hot Chili Peppers song doesn’t it?) and I don’t…at least not at this moment. Although everything still feels uncertain, I feel at peace and optimistic, looking forward to all the surprises that await in 2012. This year I’ll be ringing in the New Year my favorite way: All dressed up, with my best friend by my side and a cocktail in my hand.

I have a dress (a black vintage 1960’s cocktail dress suitable for Joan Holloway). I tried to resist but at the last minuted decided  to buy the perfect pair of shoes to match (a pair of sky-high BCBG pumps) – proof that as much as everything changes, some things never do.

Happy New Year Lovelies!

I wish you all a fabulous 2012. As always, thanks for reading xox

All I Wanted for Christmas Was Prince

… and I got my Christmas wish!

Last Saturday my Mom and I went to see the Prince Welcome to Canada Tour in Victoria. Seeing Prince live has been on my bucket list for about 2 decades so when I found out he was coming to Canada (and my hometown!) I knew I HAD to go. However, due to some other financial commitments (and the fact that I always do everything at the last minute), we put off buying tickets. By the time we were ready to purchase tickets, the show had sold out of all the affordable seats and the only ones left were in the $175+ range – definitely way outside of the budget of a freelance writer & her mom. One of my personality quirks is that once I have my heart set on something, I don’t easily take “no” as an answer. Late Thursday night, while we were sitting in the living room, feeling disappointed, resigned to the fact we would not be seeing Prince, I decided “There has to be a way!” I whipped out my laptop and started cruising craigslist for tickets. By Friday afternoon, I had tracked down two awesome, discounted tickets and my Mom & I were in her mini-van driving half an hour outside of the city to pick them up. All I can say is that it was so, SO worth it. Saturday was such an amazing night and probably the best concert I have ever seen.

Just to be clear, I’m a child of the 80’s so I’m talking about THIS Prince:

Not this Prince.

(I am not familiar with Will’s musical skills however, I’m sure seeing him in person would be cool…. just not as cool as the Prince I saw.)

Cameras and photos weren’t allowed during the concert but I managed to snap a photo of the stage before the show. It’s shaped like the “symbol”!

We were only about 40 or 50 feet from the stage which meant we could see everything. I’m pretty sure the last concert I went to with my Mom included a rendition of “The Wheels on the Bus” so, when Prince opened with the song DMSR (Dance, Music, Sex, Romance)  and busted out lyrics like “Girl it ain’t no sin to strip it right down to your underwear”  it was awkward to say the least. However, that quickly subsided and my Mom and I settled into a show that was nothing short of amazing.

Originally, I thought I was going to write a full review of the show but I changed my mind. If you’re interested, Mike Devlin from my hometown newspaper wrote a great review which basically echoes my exact feelings about the experience – you can read it here: “Prince in Victoria: The Best Concert I’ve Ever Seen!”

I will say this though: Prince is an incredible performer that really knows how to captivate a crowd. Something magical happened that night. It only took him a couple of bars of music to whip the residents of my sleepy seaside town (best known for its mellow hippies, reserved government employees and retirees) into a full out music frenzy. People were standing up, dancing, waving their hands in the air. I’ve never seen my town so…alive.

Not that much happens here – we’re located on a island & we’re usually off the regular concert circuit, so a concert like this was “an event”. I think some people were at the show just for the sheer fact that something. was. happening. For example, the guy who was seated next to my Mom told her “I’m not even familiar with his music but when I heard he was coming to town, I knew I didn’t want to miss it”

[My town has since caught Prince fever and you can’t buy a single album anywhere. EVERYWHERE IS SOLD OUT OF EVERY ALBUM. I discovered this last night while Christmas shopping. It’s like we’re living in 1985 all over again]

My favorite moment of the night happened near the end of the concert. As Prince started to play “Purple Rain” thousands of bits of purple and gold sparkly paper shot out of the stage, filling the whole arena and making you feel like you were inside a Purple Rain snow-globe. It was beautiful. Maybe you just had to be there.

I honestly believe in the healing power of music. My Mom and I have both had a rough few months. Looking over at my Mom throughout the concert and seeing her smiling, dancing & waving her hands over head was one of the other highlights of the night. We both desperately needed this.

2011 was a year that started off rough and included lots of twists and turns- both good and bad.  I’m really happy that I got to end the year on a high note: listening to one of my favorite artists, with my Mom by my side as purple sparkles rained down on us.

FYI. My Mom and I caught a few pieces of “Purple Rain”. Don’t expect to find these on ebay anytime soon. I’ve already decided that I’m going to save them forever & ever & ever.

 Purple Rain. It heals what ails ya.

What’s your favorite concert moment?

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