Single Is The New Black? Um, Not So Much

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(photo credit via handmade charlotte

Last month I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell, a renowned psychologist, relationship expert and author, for a Toronto Sun article. She was lovely to work with and kindly offered to send me a copy of her new book, Single is the New Black: Don’t Wear White ‘Til it’s Right to review (Thank you!) However, since I am currently trying to wrap up edits on my own book, I handed off the task to SD contributor Vendredi. Take it away, V!

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We’ve all been through the dating jungle. You go on date after date with no real prospects. After several dates, you want to throw in the towel because you’re so frustrated with the fact that love is just not coming your way. Then comes the negative self-talk – are you good enough? Or is there something wrong with you as you’re single and pretty much everyone else is dating. And really, why wouldn’t you think that? The media, friends and family perpetuates relationships stereotypes and makes you feel like a leper if you’re single.

Single is the New Black: Don’t Wear White ‘Til it’s Right, the new book by Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell debunks all conventional ideas as to why you’re still single. Instead of telling you exactly how or whom to date, this book encourages you to be yourself, and keep that glimmer of hope alive because, if you’re still single, it just hasn’t happened for you, which doesn’t make you “lesser than.” All it means is that it’s just not your time, which is probably one of the most important things we need to hear when we’re trying to navigate through the dating jungle.

What I did like about the book:

SITNB is honest.

Reading this book made me feel like I was talking with my true friends. Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, but like a good friend the book told me the truth, not things I needed to hear to make me feel good about myself.

The book didn’t act as a self-help guide to find a relationship.

Never did it once mention tips or advice on landing the perfect mate. We’re all aware of the societal pressures about dating/marriage, and several dating books seem to hone in on finding the perfect soul mate – often relaying messages that are pejorative to women. This book debunked the myth that there was nothing wrong with being single, and most importantly nothing wrong with you.

Abrell kept it real.

The chapters were all broken down in the same way making it an easy read. Two particular sub-sections really resonated with me: “Guy Talk,” where she offered weird and wonderful male perspectives and, and “The Awful Truth”: what women really think/feel about women who are single. These sub-sections not only offered multiple perspectives, but kept it real for the readers.

What could have been improved:

In attempts to offer encouragement, Dr. Abrell seemed to only trivialize singledom.

She seemed to make being single seem like a trendy phase. On the one hand, she’s saying “ don’t settle, stay true to yourself, as you are smart, sexy, savvy “catches” who will eventually get “caught” so there’s no need to settle for anything less than a stellar relationship.”

However, on the other hand, the book made women seem incomplete without a relationship. This was articulated in her intro. She knew there was nothing wrong with herself prior to finding her match, but yet felt more at peace when she found a man. For women who have been searching for their right partner for a long time, the fear of being along is real. For these women being single is not trendy, it’s certainly not the new black…it’s their reality, so please don’t trivialize it by throwing it back in the reader’s faces that you’re in a stellar relationship when others aren’t.

The book an easy read, but too basic.

I’m all for easy reads, but I literally felt like I was reading Seventeen magazine (all I needed was acne medication ads and colour photos of prepubescent models to boot). I totally understand she was trying to keep it fun and flirty, but in actuality it was almost too juvenile for such a sensitive topic. I appreciated the chapter break downs and how the book was segmented, but it was too superficial for my liking I felt that it catered to an early to mid 20- something audience.

She kept reinforcing that you don’t have to change one bit to find a relationship.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. Sometimes changing yourself is good for a relationship—in fact; perhaps necessary because relationships are based on compromise as there is no such thing as a “perfect fit” between people. And while it’s definitely not recommended to change your morals and values, or the person you are, dropping negative traits or bad habits is change for good in relationships.

I would recommend this to my friends if they were looking for a good laugh or an easy read, but definitely not as a guide to relationships as there was no real advice to offer.

Vendredi bio

If you’re looking for a list of awesome, female centric must-reads, make sure you check out this list and this list for some of our top book recommendations. 

 

Zestra: Like Giving Your Sex Life a Shot of Espresso

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might assume that when it comes to sex, I’m always ready to rock and roll, all the time, at the drop of a hat. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t always blog in real time, so a lot of the sexual experiences I’ve written about on here didn’t occur simultaneously or serially, but rather were spaced out over large periods of time. Also, like many people, my sex drive ebbs and flows throughout the month.

My sexual persona lives primarily in my head. I love sex, however if I’m feeling stressed or anxious, sometimes I need a bit of help getting in the zone. More often than not, this involves something as simple as slowing down long enough so that my partner and I can really connect. This is why I’m always slightly skeptical of products that are designed to “increase desire.”

Unless there’s a pill that can pour me a glass of wine, run me a bubble bath, and/or read me Pablo Neruda, I don’t have much faith that it will work for me (however, if anyone is interested in developing that Pablo Neruda whispering pill, let’s talk.)

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Now, enter Zestra – a topically applied medication, approved by Health Canada for women suffering from a decrease in sexual interest and desire.

As the makers of Zestra explain, 43% of women from 18 to 59 encounter a sexual problem of desire or arousal at one point in their life. In other words, it’s not just you. If you feel this way, it’s completely normal.

These symptoms may happen in various moments of life, therefore Zestra is ideal for women:

• going through different stages of menopause
• taking oral contraceptives
• taking anti-depressants
• after giving birth
• with medical conditions affecting sexual feeling
• that have a desire to heighten their sexual experiences

When the company reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in trying Zestra I was curious, albeit slightly hesitant. When it comes to chemicals, I don’t like to put anything extra into my system that doesn’t need to be there. However, after I read that Zestra is completely hormone-free and made of natural oils, I was intrigued.

I take a regular medication for my anxiety disorder. Although I don’t feel like the brain drugs have had a negative impact on my libido, I was curious to see if it would make any difference and/or heighten my sexual experiences (as suggested.) You never know until you try, right?

It’s now a few weeks later. I’ve tried Zestra and am ready to share my experiences.

So, what exactly is Zestra?

Good question! Zestra is a unique, patented and hormone-free formula is composed of active ingredients extracted from 4 plants recognized to increased blood flow and local sensitivity (Borage, Evening Primrose, du Huo and Forskohlii).  These ingredients are introduced into Zestra in the form of medicinal oils.

How does it work?

Zestra’s active ingredients increase blood flow and nerve conduction, to safely and effectively enhance female sexual pleasure, sensation, sensitivity and overall sexual satisfaction.

Yeah, but what it is?!

I was expecting Zestra to be either a cream or a gel, so I was surprised when I opened the package and discovered it’s actually an oil. Zestra comes in a tear packet similar to a lube sampler. One package = one application. The package I received included three packets/applications. FYI, a little goes a long way. Don’t do what I do and squirt the whole package into your hand – you probably won’t need all of it.

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Another happy surprise: Zestra smells really good. Like fruit and plants, but not in a gross, artificial, jolly-rancher way. The noticeably nice scent definitely added to the experience.

How do you use this magical oil?*

(*Disclaimer: Zestra is not really magic. It just feels that way.)

Easy. You apply it topically to your outer labia and clitoris. It’s meant to be used externally, so don’t insert any of the product into your vagina. Leave it on for five minutes before you have sex. Within a few minutes you should start to feel it working.

Omg, what does it feel like?!

As I mentioned above, I didn’t really have any expectations for my Zestra experience, however this stuff feels really freaking amazing. A minute or so after I applied it, I could feel a nice tingly sensation, like a mix of hot and cold. Although I tend to avoid sex products that advertise a “tingling sensation” because they usually lead to irritation and burning, I didn’t have any unpleasant sensations associated with Zestra. By the five minute mark, it definitely felt like there was more blood in that area. It felt good, really, really good.

When my boyfriend asked me to describe the sensation, I told him that it felt like I had given my vagina and clit a nice, steaming hot shot of espresso. 

After applying the solution I noticed that any touch or stimulation felt noticeably more intense. The happy-in-my-pants feelings brought on by Zestra lasted for about an hour, after which they tapered off.

That’s awesome, but is there anything I should be aware of?

Yes. Zestra shouldn’t be used by women who are pregnant or nursing (because it hasn’t been tested in these populations.)

Secondly, because it’s oil based, Zestra can’t be used with latex condoms (oil based products break down latex condoms.) However, Zestra is safe to use with POLYURETHANE condoms, as they are specially designed for use with oil-based products. If you’re looking for a condom that’s made of polyurethane, Trojan Supra Bareskin is one option.

Sidebar: When I told a group of friends that I was going to be reviewing Zestra, the ones who were most interested in the product were the recent Moms in the group. Go figure. After all, it’s totally normal to experience a decrease in sexual desire after giving birth and/or while you’re breastfeeding.

So, while I understand the reasoning behind both of these precautions, I hope that the makers of Zestra will consider developing a similar product that is compatible for both latex condom users and women who are pregnant/breastfeeding. My experience with Zestra was really positive and I think the more people who are able to also benefit from it, the better.

At the end of the day, I can’t say how this product would work for someone else – I can only share my experiences, which were positive. However, I could definitely see Zestra being very helpful to anyone hoping to give their sex life a jolt. Like I mentioned above, it’s like a really good shot of espresso…in your pants.

Has anyone else tried Zestra or something similar?

This post was brought to you by Zestra. I received free samples of the product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own because that’s how I roll. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.

 

2015 Summer Product Round-up: Winners & Losers

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The summer of 2015 has been a busy one, product wise. I’ve had lots of awesome things come across my desk…and also some (good intentioned) but not so awesome ones. To keep you guys up to speed, I thought I’d share with you some of the winners, losers and ones to watch.

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1. Sutil Lube

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First up on the docket is Sutil fine botanical lubricant. Some of you have heard me wax poetic about how much I love Hathor Aphrodisia’s line of eco-friendly products. Their Lubricant Pure is my favourite lube (going on 4+ years!) and their Sensual Love Lotion smells absolutely amazing. Enter Sutil: their new line of botanical lubricant.

Although I’ll always be loyal to my Lubricant Pure, I wasn’t surprised to discover Sutil totally rocks as well. Unlike the Lubricant Pure which has a thicker, rich texture; Sutil is lighter and has the feeling of silicone lube – making it perfect for those of us who like the feeling of silicone but prefer a lube that is water based. Did I mention that Sutil is made with eco-certified ingredients, is paragon & glycerine free and comes in a biodegradable tube? Oh, and Mellta – one of the co-owners of Hathor – also sent over a re-up of the Sensual Love lotion because she’s a peach like that. Both of these lines are total winners.

2. L’amourose Paramour partner pleasure set –

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Have you heard of L’Amourose? Neither had I until a few months ago. L’Amourose is a new luxury sex toy line that creates gorgeous, ergonomic toys. My friend Sarah of Marvelous Darling describes their Rosa vibe as “if Aston Martin made vibrators.” In addition, their Denia vibrator has risen into the ranks of my top 5 must-have toys (omg, it’s so, so, good. Review coming soon!) So, naturally I was curious to check out their Paramour couples set which consists of a vibrating egg that can be inserted into various apparatuses: a cock-ring, an insertable bead & a we-vibe-like thing that can be worn during sex.

Although I absolutely love the idea of a 3 in 1 product and The Secret Agent had a rollicking good time testing this set out, I found that the vibrations of the egg just weren’t quite strong enough to really blow my mind. Also, while using it as a cock-ring felt good, the egg was so heavy that it caused the whole ring to slip to the side, which proved frustrating. So as much as this set was fun to experiment with, I just don’t think it’s worth it’s hefty $240 price tag (at least until they update it with a lighter, more powerful vibrating egg.) That Denia vibe though….well, you’re just have to wait for the review.

3. Koitus Kit

FullSizeRender-2 copyDespite the fact that Koitus Kit sounds like something out of the Kardashian Empire, I think this product is a really great idea. Determined to make safe sex & after-sex cleanup supplies conveniently available in one package, Koitus Kit was born. Remember when I wrote about my Big Girl Sleepover Survival Kit? These handy little packets include two condoms, a toothbrush, a wet wipe and a dry wipe all wrapped up in a package that could easily fit in a clutch – making it the perfect companion for your next one night stand.

My only suggestion would be that they also include a small package of lube, as it not only makes sex feel better it also helps prevent condom breakage. Also while I’d prefer that they included a condom brand other than Lifestyles (you know I love me some strawberry Glyde condoms) – it’s still better to have some condoms than no condoms. Oh, how I could have used some of these kits in college…

4. The Slaphappy

Last on the chopping block is the Slaphappy. Where to start with this one? If you weren’t able to watch the video, the Slaphappy is a super bendy vibrator that can be used 5 different ways – one of which is as a spanking tool. All of this would be fine & dandy if the vibrations on this toy were actually strong enough to get me off. I couldn’t get off one way – let alone five ways – with the slaphappy. Also it says that it’s insertable and can be used on your g-spot?! This toy is flat, rectangular and quite wide. Picture it. That’s like literally trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole. Nope. Don’t even want to attempt that. While I love the idea behind this toy, these design flaws lead me to believe that it’s creator doesn’t have a very good sense of female anatomy. Let’s review: Rounded, phallic shaped objects + vagina = yes. Square objects + vagina = no.

While I give these guys props for attempting to make a versatile toy that everyone enjoys, I’m just not that happy with the Slaphappy – except as a spanking tool. It actually works pretty good for that.

Tried anything new & noteworthy this summer? Share in the comments!

Review | The Lovehoney Adore Me Lace Chemise Set

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Summer always seems to be the time when all my reviews get backlogged. I blame it on having too much fun in the sun! I promise I will get back to more dating & relationship stories soon, however in the mean time I have more gorgeous lingerie to share with you.

Last year, Lovehoney launched their own lingerie line. Before Christmas, I reviewed this scandalous pair of crotchless panties and recently purchased this piece (more on this later!) Since then, I’ve been curious to try other pieces from the line. When the lovely people at Lovehoney offered to send me another piece from the collection, I jumped at the chance. The problem: I couldn’t decide what to choose. However, after a quick survey on Facebook and Instagram (thanks!), this gorgeous red & black lace chemise from their Adore Me collection, was the winner. 

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I’m very, very happy I decided to review the Lovehoney Adore Me Lace and Microfiber Chemise because it has everything I look for in a lingerie piece: it’s good quality, flattering, affordable and most of all, really comfortable.

The Adore Me Lace & Microfiber chemise is made of silky soft, crimson microfiber and trimmed with black stretch lace. It features adjustable straps, detachable garters and soft, unlined cups – perfect for those of us who prefer their lingerie without an underwire or extra padding. The back has a adjustable criss-cross back detail and cute, butt flattering ruching. It includes a matching g-string with a back detailed in black lace.

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Here’s a few things I love about this set.

  • The quality and detailing – As I’ve mentioned before, when it comes to ordering affordably priced lingerie online, unless you’re really familiar with the brand, you can’t always count on the quality. With that said, I was really impressed with the thought that was put into this garment. It’s well designed and the detailing is nice – no cheap fabric or loose threads here!
  • The thick, stretchy straps – As someone with D+ sized boobs, I love garments with thick straps. The straps on the Adore Me Lace & Microfibre chemise are great: they’re super soft, stretchy and supportive without digging into my shoulders. I was concerned that this garment might not offer enough support, but I am happy to report that my boobs feel secure.
  • The fit –  This chemise fits me like a second skin. The fabric is soft, super stretchy hugs in the right places without clinging. I put it on and my immediate response was “yep, I feel good in this.”
  • It’s non-restrictive – Unlike the black bustier I recently reviewed which is very structured, the Adore Me Chemise set doesn’t restrict your movement in any way. In other words, if you want to get it on while wearing this garment you totally can.
  • The matching thong doesn’t suck – It’s nicely detailed and totally wearable.
  • It’s really sexy but feels like I’m in yoga-wear – Enough said.

Now for the big reveal!

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We Tried It | Pole Dance Fitness at Brass Vixens

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I’ve been dying to try a pole fitness class for a couple of years now. I have a friend who is a pole fitness enthusiast & she’s in amazing shape. Also, the classes look like a lot of fun! So, when Brass Vixens in Toronto invited me to come try one of their classes for free I was tickled pink. Brass Vixens is one of  Toronto’s leading destinations for poledancing, aerialfitness, twerk, burlesque & all things awesome. The problem? I no longer live in Toronto. So, I decided to send my friend Vendredi Mounsey to check out one of their classes and report back. So, for those of you who are curious, here’s what it’s like to attend your first pole fitness class!

Maybe you’re like I was – you’ve heard of pole fitness, and you find it intriguing, but you have no idea what to expect out of a “pole dance” class. When Brass Vixens invited me to pay a visit to one of their three downtown Toronto studios, I was a little skeptical at first as I’m not the greatest dancer. I definitely do not have moves like Jagger. In fact when I do dance I often get asked if I’m in pain… as it most certainly looks as if I am. Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to be deterred by my lack of dance skills…and so this week off I went to Brass Vixens’ Yonge St. studio.

I took Pole Beginner 1 with instructor Lady Kori – a great class for beginners where expert dance skills aren’t required. The warm up playlist started with “Get that Dirt Off Your Shoulders” by Jay-Z and “Drunken Love” from Beyoncé – and I knew this was going to be a different kind of fitness class. I am used to warm ups that consist of high intensity cardio to upbeat music; not gyrating to slow jams. The dynamic routine included squats and flexibility stretches from yoga and Pilates to get our muscles and core warmed before hitting the pole. We were told that we would be learning four basic pole moves which are critical to building a routine: how to work the pole, the flamingo, ballerina and the fan spin/windmill.

Working the pole I found to be relatively easy. I did learn, however, that there is a lot more to it than just walking around in circles (who knew?!). Maintaining proper form (which includes keeping your body at a 90 degree angle from the pole) is crucial as it’s the foundation for all basic moves It’s also a killer tri and bicep workout – no wonder exotic dancers all have amazing guns! The small class size and basic moves (which were admittedly much more difficult than I had anticipated) left me feeling sexy and sore, and challenged muscle groups I would have never expected were going to be used.

All moves really honed in on upper body and core strength in a way that is much different from simply lifting weights and doing crunches. And because the moves got progressively harder, it was a bonus to have the class move at a relatively slow place. This allowed time for Lady Kori to focus on teaching us proper mechanics: breaking down each move and ensuring everyone was doing the moves properly. She even demonstrated modifications to meet differentiating skill levels and fitness levels. Even though it was my very first class, I felt like I got the help I needed to keep up, and to really enjoy myself.

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One quick word of warning to the pole dance virgins: pole fitness isn’t for the shy or bashful. If sultry moves like hip gyration and twerking make you feel more self-conscious than empowered, this may not be the best fitness option for you. That being said, I’d still suggest giving it a try at least once – a good attitude and a sense of humour will see you through any uneasy moments. I’ll admit I had to laugh a couple of times when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror looking rather awkward. My classmates, though, didn’t seem to notice and everyone I met was friendly and inclusive, and more than happy to help me out when I couldn’t get the flamingo quite right.

In summary – you don’t have to be an exotic dancer to take a pole fitness class. Whether you’re looking to try a new fitness routine, or maybe you’re trying to make sexy time with your partner more fun – all you need is an open mind and a willingness to try. And although I haven’t mastered any of the moves as of yet (despite Kori’s patient coaching), I still had a ton of fun, and left feeling confident, sexy and sweaty. Would I go back? Absolutely! And with all of my girlfriends in tow.

About Vendredi – 

VendrediI wrote and illustrated my first book at the age of eight for a writing assignment for Mrs. Trevor, my Grade 3 teacher. Since then, my artistry has sadly not improved, but my storytelling ability has. After completing my diploma in Public Relations from Durham College and a degree in International Studies from Glendon College at York University, I now work as a Marketing Specialist by day and juggle several part time jobs and freelance writing gigs at night.

A country girl to the core, I reside in a rural community just outside of downtown Toronto with my family. When I’m not busy writing, I can be found backpacking, camping or travelling around the globe while listening to 90s dance music and drinking Heineken.

To contact Vendredi please email vendredi.mounsey@gmail.com

About Brass Vixens

Curious about trying a class for yourself? Visit one of Brass Vixens’ three locations in Toronto, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, and like them on Facebook.

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