Hope Dies Last Giveaway

After the big break-up in the fall and some minor romantic set-backs in January, I’m finally starting to embrace my singleness. I haven’t been truly single in close to 7 years and even before that I was always dating some guy or another. Right now I’m working on getting to know myself better and trying to figure out what being single means to me. I’ve also been reflecting back on my past relationships, owning up to what failed and making a solid blue-print for what I want in the future (when I’m ready to date that is) I’m done with crying and have moved on to learning & reflecting.

This is why I initially gravitated to Eleni Zoe’s blog Hope Dies Last. If you haven’t checked out her blog, you’re missing out. Eleni writes about life, love and self-discovery with such honesty, clarity and vulnerability that I often catch myself saying “Oh my god, YES. I feel what she’s writing about. I’ve been there” while reading her posts. I love blogs that get inside my head like that.

{Eleni. Isn’t she lovely?}

Eleni is a total rockstar and has written a a book, Hope Dies Last: Lessons in Love. The book includes stories collected from some of her most powerful blog posts, organised into a narrative that will remind you of the best (and worst) parts of dating.

About the book:

“I wanted intimacy in capslock but I got it in parentheses” 

Hope Dies Last is the true story of twenty-something Eleni Zoe’s pursuit of love, a boy who will sit still with her for a while and the perfect mantra.  As a self-confessed perpetual singleton, she shares her tragicomic stories as if she’s whispering her heart out to you over a girly dinner. From first kisses and what sex is really like to bruised egos and broken hearts, Eleni asks the questions we each have on our quest for love. The difference is, she’s also got some answers.

The exciting news?! Because we could all use a little bit more hope in our lives, I’m giving away a SIGNED copy of the book to one of you!

To win a copy of Hope Dies Last: Lessons in Love here’s what you need to do:

Simply comment on this entry & let me know why you’d like to read the book.

Additional entries will be given for the following:

-Following me on Twitter.

-Following Skinny Dip on Facebook

-Each time you tweet “Giveaway alert! @by_simone is giving away a SIGNED copy of @elenizoe ‘s Hope Dies Last: http://su.pr/3TAfsx” 

*Make sure you include in your comment some way of getting hold of you (ie. complete the email field or leave your twitter/blog address). Also make sure you mention in your comment if you’ve done any of the additional things above.

The giveaway is open to everyone regardless of where you live in the world. The giveaway runs from today until February 3rd. I’ll select a winner at random on the 4th.

Good Luck! xo

S.

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.

xox

S.

Fuck Broken Hearts. I’m Going to Vegas.

Following the big break-up this fall, my romantic interactions with the opposite sex have not proven to be successful. This post is just a small fraction of the whole story. There’s lots more. Too much to share on the blog at this point. I prefer to air my dirty laundry only once it has been hung out to dry for a long time and is considered old news. Long story short, on Monday night I had my heart stomped on. That’s all I’m going to say right now. I know that whatever I write at this point is probably going to be tinged with anger. I don’t want to put something up here that I’ll regret later. I prefer to write about matters of the heart once I’ve had time to reflect.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I am no stranger to romantic disappointment. It’s just that with everything that’s happened over the past few months, I’m emotionally exhausted.

Monday should have been the happiest of days – it was Bloggers in Sin City registration day! Remember that amazing event that I went to last year that I couldn’t stop blogging about?! Yes, THAT. I was super psyched to sign up this year but then over the weekend my excitement started to wane. My anxiety kicked into overdrive (making me feel sluggish yet wired at the same time) and I got a terrible headache that wouldn’t leave me alone no matter how many Advils I popped. My body always knows when something is up. It just does.

I started to wonder whether going to Vegas again was a good idea. I told myself “Should I really be doing this now? Maybe I should just save the money? Didn’t I just write a post about personal finances?!” Even on Monday morning, while I was sitting at my computer, head pounding, waiting for registration to open, I was on the fence. Is this really a good idea? But you know what?! I’m so, so glad I signed up again.

There is something slightly magical about Bloggers in Sin City. After the disappointment on Monday night, I was huddled on my bed, wrapped in a blanket and feeling pretty fucking hurt. One of the only things that made me feel better was when I decided to go on the BiSC website and read through all the profiles and tweets from the other attendees. I said to myself:

“How I feel right now fucking sucks…but I’m going to Vegas. In a few months I’ll be with my tribe of crazy, glittery, hilarious, wonderful bloggers”

I woke up yesterday morning and everything looked different – literally – I looked out my bedroom window and saw my Mom’s backyard which is full of bamboo and palm plants, dusted in a thick layer of snow (a West Coast rarity). I took a deep breath and finally started to process something I hadn’t been able to wrap my head around until that moment:

I am single. 

There is nothing or no one holding me back from doing whatever I want from this point forward. There is so much I want to do….

Travel to Latin America. Travel to Asia. Drink sangria in Barcelona. Live in New York and LA. Travel the world and write articles from every corner of the globe. Write a book. Be perfectly happy being roaming gypsy for awhile sans any kind of attachments.

casino online
I called my best friend yesterday morning to let her know I was feeling better. I told her “I feel like I have my whole life ahead of me”Her reply: “You always did Simone”

 & I’m starting by going to Vegas. 

(PS. If you too are suffering from Wanderlust, check out my post I wrote about Toronto over at my friend Abby’s fabulous travel blog The Jungle Princess.)

Here’s to a Wetter & Better 2012

Thank you to Astroglide and Single Edition for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

My view on lube has changed over the years. When I was younger and having a lot of awkward sex, I’d often reach for the lube to help make the process smoother ie. when the guy was larger than normal, I wasn’t turned on enough* or when I was no longer really enjoying myself because my partner was pounding away on me like a jack rabbit on meth. Clearly, these are bigger issues that probably could have been solved with a bit of communication but I was young and didn’t know any better. In my youthful ignorance I saw lube as a utilitarian product used to make sex that wasn’t really working “work”

(*never a good reason to use lube, ever. Actually, if you’re not turned on you probably shouldn’t be having sex in the first place but that is a whole other blog post)

As I got older, became more comfortable with myself, and the sex got better, I decided I no longer “needed” lube. It wasn’t until I was in a stable relationship and started experimenting with sex again while writing this blog that I realized lube isn’t about necessity…it’s about FUN! Sex with lube can make something that’s already good even better by enhancing your intimate play.

You also don’t need to be in a steady relationship to enjoy the benefits of lube in the bedroom. Single ladies can have fun with lube too! I recommend trying some lube next time you have shower sex – it seriously makes the whole thing much easier so you can just relax and enjoy the experience while you cling to that shower rod for dear life. Plus, having a well stocked collection of condoms and lube on hand, makes you one bad-ass chick. Any guy who doesn’t agree should be kicked out of your bedroom and to the curb (you can tell him Skinny Dip told you so.)

You can also use lube for one of my favorite uses: TOYS! If you haven’t tried using your sex toys with lube, you are seriously missing out. It just makes. everything. better.

Astroglide is a leading brand recommended by Doctors (OB/Gyns, GP’s and other specialty practices) and was actually the first lube I ever tried because it was available at my local drugstore.  Astroglide has expanded their product line since the days when I first tried it to include more options:

Astroglide original: Astroglide Original feels the most like the body’s own natural lubrication and is designed to make sex better. You can use it in the bedroom, in the shower, or take the fun outdoors -it’s really up to how creative you want to get!

Astroglide X Premium Silicone: This is the lube that will allow you to totally roll like the female Notorious B.I.G – you know, “watch a movie in the jacuzzi, smoke L’s while you……” well, you get the rest. This lube is great for making water play extra special (shower sex! pool sex! Jacuzzi sex! Ocean sex! – why not?) and is made with ingredients that act as natural skin conditioners. Although this lube is awesome for H2O activities, don’t use it with your silicone toys. Silicone and silicone don’t play well together. Instead, choose Astroglide Original to use with your silicone playmates.

Astroglide Natural: I’m really sensitive so I like to keep things as natural as possible. I was happy to see that there is now Astroglide Natural which is made with botanical ingredients like Aloe, Chamomile Flower Extract, Vitamins C&E and free of Glycerin, Parabens & Alcohol. If you are sensitive as well, you might find this one works best for you too.

If this was an episode of Oprah, this would now be the moment where I say:

“Look under your chairs!”

If you’ve never personal lubricant before you now have no excuse! As part of their “Wetter is Better: Single Ladies Love Lube too” campaign, Astroglide is giving away free samples to all of my readers. You just have to click on this link and they will send you your very own sample of Astroglide.

Yay, free lube for all!

How to Survive a Breakup, Big Girl Style.

The strangest part about being someone who regularly writes about relationships is that people actually assume you know stuff about relationships. (Really, it’s like the blind leading the blind here. I thought that was painfully obvious?)

So, when someone asked me this summer “What are your tips for getting over a bad breakup?” I actually had to think about it. I tried to think back to the last time I broke up with someone (6 months before my 25th birthday) and what I had done to move forward. I had visions of dramatic hair style changes, lots of vodka, weekend benders, random make-out sessions and long days spent laying out in the sun by my apartment complex’s pool. Oh, did I mention vodka?

Now that I’m actually in this exact predicament, I still don’t have any concrete answers. In the past, the guys I dated usually did me a solid and broke up with me or made it incredibly easy for me to walk away from them by doing something horrible like sleeping with another girl or peeing in my friend’s car… or something else that was so ridiculous, so atrocious my only option was to say “I’d be fucking insane to stick around for any more of this shit!” before fleeing the scene. Until a month and a half ago, I’ve never had to break up with someone that I loved, who I had a life with for 6 years, someone who is one of the good guys. I’ve never broken up with someone not because of some horrible reason but instead, simply because I knew deep down it was the right thing to do for both of us. I’ve never had to move out of my home I built with someone else and start over. Up until about 4 years ago I had never even lived with a man. I’ve never had to do any of these things and doing it all has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Everything just feels different now.

I haven’t gone out and purchased manic panic hair dye, or gone on a bender where I drank so much that I’ve thrown up in my co-worker’s sink. I have no desire to do any of these things… and thank god! The cast of Jersey Shore has already fulfilled the world quota of highly functioning alcoholics with bad hair. The reason everything feels so different is because for the first time, I am experiencing the aftermath of a break-up as an actual adult.

I’m still figuring this all out but here is a short list of some things that have helped me (as told through photos of Betty Draper)

1. Let yourself feel it. If you’re feeling sad, angry, lost – allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling. Acknowledge it, have your moment & then move on. Everything you are feeling at this moment will in time pass.

Even Betty Draper is a hot mess sometimes.

2. Spend time with friends! This has always been a big thing for me. I’m really lucky that my best friend lives here and we’ve been able to hang out lots since I’ve been home. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her. However, a few weeks ago when she wasn’t around, I started to feel lonely. I’m actually proud of myself – instead of moping, I reached out to a bunch of people I used to go to school with. I’ve been catching up with people I haven’t hung out with in years and it’s been really great. My social life is actually quite busy right now….in my hometown…who would have thought.

Friends and booze. Let's go with that.

3. Go to counseling. I started seeing a counselor a few weeks ago and it’s SERIOUSLY THE BEST THING EVER. It’s really nice to sit down and talk to someone about your life without any judgment. My friends are wonderful but sometimes you need someone who doesn’t know you to call you on your shit. I just started going but I already feel a lot calmer.

Therapy. Luckily, times have changed and going to see a misogynist prick who tells all your secrets to your husband is no longer your only option. My therapist is nice and she's a woman.

4. Take Care of yourself. In the past I thought this just meant getting a hair-cut, a pedicure and buying a whole bunch of new underwear. Although all of those things are great and do help to a certain extent, it’s also important to do the big stuff. When I got to my Mom’s place my feet hurt, my back hurt, my teeth needed cleaning – my body was basically a mess. Now, most of my mornings start with some kind of doctor’s appointment. I’m finally doing all of those long overdue things. For the first time in a long time, my body isn’t in constant pain.

Putting on the Big Girl Panties. Conquering the world.

5. Spend time working on you. In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, I’ve also made a huge to-do list of everything I want to accomplish from now through to January. I’ve divided it into three sections body/mind, career & personal development. I’ve already crossed off a few of the items which makes me feel really good. At the end of the week instead of taking stock of everything I didn’t do, I write a list of all the good things that happened during the week. The list is always longer than I expect it will be (and no, my therapist didn’t suggest I do this – I actually came up with this on my own.)

Personal development. It's a good thing.

6. Allow yourself to do that “One Crazy Thing.” When my room-mate separated from her husband she purchased a brand new TV, another friend booked a crazy all-inclusive tropical vacation, some people get botox. I haven’t done any of these things. Since everything has happened, I’ve got a haircut and bought two shirts – things I would have done anyways. Total damage: $150 tops. Not exactly crazy. I keep waiting for my “crazy moment.” It finally happened on Friday night. I went with my parents to my Dad’s friend’s place to hang out with a couple of their old friends from university. We had BC Salmon, BC Wine and (in true BC fashion) for dessert my Dad’s friend brought out a fat joint of BC Weed.

“It’s government issued. Medical grade. Want some?”

This scenario really isn’t that unusual. Growing up, there was always someone you knew whose parents had a stash of “Dad’s Surfer Weed”. It’s practically like having a wine cellar on the West Coast. My parents both declined the joint as it was being passed around. When the joint reached me, I looked at both of my parents and said,

“What the hell!”

I inhaled deeply and after years of not doing this, it actually felt kind of nice in the moment.  To just say “fuck it” and do something anyways even if it’s a bit crazy.When we got in the car to go home, I said to my Dad:

“I know you probably didn’t want to see me do that but I’m 31 and going through big life changes…it’s about time I did something weird. Now I can say that I have”

“Are you stoned? Was the weed… uh, good?”

“I’m fine Dad. Let’s just go home”

“OK”

It's OK to go a little crazy....just maybe not this brand of crazy.

(Even though my parents didn’t indulge, I think my Dad caught a bit of a contact high. I haven’t seen him laugh like he did on Friday…in years. I think that was my favorite part of the whole night)

My life is not all sunshine & rainbows & getting massages while listening to new-age music – I’ve also had my share of moments where everything just feels uncertain. All I’m saying is that doing these things have helped me – even if it was just to be able to simultaneously add and cross off “smoke pot with my parents” to my life list.

What helps you get through a break-up?

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