Your Guide to the Girls’ Getaway

Whether you’re dating around or in a committed relationship, it’s worth taking the occasional time-out from couples territory.  Devote a weekend to those other people who are so important in life, namely your girlfriends.  I’m hot off the heels of a girls’ getaway in Tofino (west coast gem and Canada’s surf capital), so in addition to being a little bit biased, I know that spending quality time with girlfriends can be restorative mentally and physically.  These gains will no doubt translate to your love life.

With the weather looking up and a few long weekends on the horizon, now is the time to start planning your ladies’ weekend.  Before you do, consider the following:

Pick a theme song.

The theme song sets the tone for the entire weekend, so think twice before going all Vanessa Carlton and signing yourself up for a thousand miles of treacly piano pop.  Choose something upbeat with memorable lyrics that can be referenced in subsequent Instagrams.  If you’re okay with Pitbull’s more questionable turns of phrase, then I would recommend Timber featuring Ke$ha.  Perfect for dance parties ad nauseum.

Bring a puppy.

I’m serious.  The best accessory for a weekend away is a furry friend.  Puppies work especially well being adorable and easy to smuggle onto ferry decks etc.  I’m not saying you should procure one specifically for the occasion, but if you do have access to a pet, then don’t leave her at home.  Provided the ladies are on board, your animal will help everyone to relax and come together for a stress-free weekend.  Just remember to secure pet-friendly accommodation.

Embrace the group selfie.

So you’ve been sick of the group selfie phenomenon ever since Ellen broke Twitter at the Oscars?  Hold that thought.  A girls’ weekend is not the time to protest social media #trends, but rather to stretch your selfie arm and work those angles.  Indulge in a healthy photo shoot (or three) because it’s fun and absolutely flaunt the spoils of your efforts.  The world will be a better place for these public displays of female camaraderie, and you’ll be grateful for the souvenirs come Monday.

Set realistic goals.

This is the time to let your hair down, so forget any lofty intentions to hold yourself to strict diet/exercise routines.  Be healthy, always, but let moderation rule the day.  Plan for balanced meals, fresh air, toss in an oceanside ramble if you’re lucky and above all leave self-deprecation at the door.  Take a rare moment to appreciate who you are today and encourage your friends to do the same.


The ladies’ brunch is a cliché I can get behind.  I suppose you could make it work with fruit salad and low-fat yogurt, but let’s be honest, waffles and bacon are so much better.  Plus you’ll need ample energy to tackle the various work/love/life issues that will inevitably be served up on the side.  And yes, this means packing your waffle iron.


Why Daydreaming Doesn’t Get You Dates

If, like me, you hiked up a mountain this weekend with no fewer than five happy couples, then you may be dreaming about the day when you won’t be the eleventh wheel.  Sound familiar?  You should also know that the more you fantasize about a love interest, the less likely you are to achieve actual dating success.  At least, that’s what Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer concluded from their study of American college students.

For this research, participants were asked to fantasize about their crush using prompts like “You’re studying at the library when you look up to see your crush searching for a spot.  As he approaches your table, you…”  Participants also had to rate their imaginings as positive, negative or somewhere in between.  Five months later, it turned out that people who rated their fantasies as more positive were also less lucky in love.

So this means that if you don’t have a real boyfriend, then you can’t have a pretend one either?  What’s so bad about the occasional flight of fancy, especially when they’re so much fun?  Well, that’s just it.  The theory goes that by taking pleasure in an envisioned future, you become less motivated to actually make it happen.  In other words, you get comfortable with Imaginary Boyfriend.

Luckily, there’s more to the story than just dumping the daydreams.

The researchers also found that, unlike fantasies, positive expectations strongly predicted dating success.  A fantasy could be riding off into the sunset alongside your love (who happens to be Brad Pitt), while expectations are grounded in reality.  Expectations that are positive also suppose a degree of past success, including the effort this entailed and a willingness to match that effort going forward.

Why you should care:

It’s one thing to envision your dream man or dream relationship, but don’t get too caught up in the idea of it all.  Reflect upon past dating experiences and let this inform your next steps–because steps you must take.  Join an online dating site.  Find singles events in your community.  Ask a friend to set you up with someone from their network.  Talk to a counselor and resolve issues that prevent you from connecting.  Take up jogging and feel good about your body.  You could use the Secret to will your soulmate into being, but you’re better off pairing optimism with a proactive approach.  We’re with Science on this one.


Mayer, D. & G. Oettingen (2002). The motivating function of thinking about the future: expectations versus fantasies.  Personality and Social Psychology, 83 (5), 1198-1212.

What to Wear on a Spring Date: Oscars Edition

You didn’t have to watch Sunday’s Academy Awards to know that Leo would fail to score-sese a statue, that Ellen would deliver a fine pizza show, and that we would fall (again) for JLaw’s antics.  But could you have predicted the latter’s fiery Dior ensemble?  Or that Lupita Nyong’o would outshine everyone with her pleats and deep V?  The most exciting part of the event was, as per usual, the clothes.  While most of us aren’t about to splurge on Prada or Armani Prive, elements of the year’s best dressed fit seamlessly into a real life wardrobe.  Ditch your winter duds (cute though these may be) and look to the red carpet for what to wear on a spring date.  You’ve got your movies lined up for date night; now, enjoy these Oscars-inspired tips for looking the part:

Show your true colours.

The highlight of Nyong’o’s gown was no doubt its sublime shade, blue like the Nairobi sky and a breath of fresh air compared to more literal interpretations of black tie.  Olivia Wilde showed precisely how slimming black can be, but why not opt to stand out for a change?  Pastels pack just the right amount of pretty, for instance THIS blouse in petal pink, for a look that’s demure yet distinct–perfect for a first date.

Let your hair down. 

Ellen wasn’t far off when she crowned Jared Leto the prettiest of them all.  He certainly won for most effortless coif.  While it’s not quite time for full-fledged beach hair, gentle, face-framing waves like Leto’s will have any suitor California dreamin.  For hair that’s been harassed by the elements, use a deep conditioner like THIS to restore moisture.

Or dress it up.

You won’t be able to achieve Leto’s flow if you chopped it all off last fall (who didn’t?), in which case, take another page from Lupita Nyong’o and embellish your pixie.  A Fred Leighton diamond and gold headband is ideal, but failing that try THIS crystal version.  Headbands add a touch of personality to hair at any length.

Don’t be afraid to shine.

It looks like metallics are here to stay.  Cate Blanchett and Jessica Biel glittered in golds and silvers, while Emma Watson supplied an edgier take on the trend.  Her gunmetal Vera Wang was magical, but subtler metallics like THIS dress are winning hearts for spring.  A little bit of shimmer goes a long way and easily transitions from day to night.  Whatever you do, avoid adhering reflectors to your chest.  These will distract even the most respectful of dates and could prove blinding on a sunny day.

 And, as always, bring balm.

By “Oscars-inspired” fashion tips, I really meant Lupita-inspired.  Try HER lip-pick.  And let us know if it beats THIS, our reigning favourite.

The Valentine’s Gift that Keeps Giving (from One Tiny Canadian)

Ellen Page’s speech at the Time to Thrive Conference in Las Vegas is the Valentine that swept me off my feet. My actual Love Day consisted of falling asleep post-pizza binge while watching Jackie Brown with (non-feline) friends. And probably drooling. Despite a love affair with carbs, this wasn’t the magical evening that Hollywood has incepted into my imagination. Good thing one of its own was on the case. Canadian actress Page won countless hearts, mine included, not with chocolate or roses but a beautiful and badass admission of self (she’s gay) that won’t soon be forgotten. I commend her courage in speaking out about who she is and speaking up for those who don’t feel safe enough to do so.

I initially envisioned this blog post as an epic comparison between ice dancing and love–the pageantry, the scandal, the triumph or in the case of Scott and Tessa, the defeat. I figured the world was over Valentine’s Day and the whole Ellen-Page-comes-out thing. But I’ve been thinking about her speech all week, about how simple words delivered with grace, wit and much aplomb can, hopefully, make things a little less “horrible” for people. It helps if they’re shared often and widely. So I’ll do my part and share them with you:

“Loving other people starts with loving ourselves.”

It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating. Over and over and over again because it’s that important and we’re that terrible at doing it. If you’re stuck on where to start, WikiHow will get you going. Pick a few areas where you’ve been lagging in self-love. For instance, learn how to say no, or make a point of being kinder to your body and nourishing your physical self. Small changes make a world of difference to your self-concept and, in turn, the success of your relationships.

“Tired of lying by omission.”

What we don’t say speaks volumes, and as Page describes, can take a serious toll. The stress of keeping a worry or secret under wraps just isn’t healthy. Maybe you’re perfectly honest with your friends and loved ones, but probably not. If there’s something on your mind, give yourself permission to let it go.

“Love, the beauty of it, the joy of it, and yes even the pain of it is the most incredible gift to give and receive as a human being.”

Now I remember why Valentine’s Day has so much potential. It’s not just a romcom with Taylor Swift or Hallmark heyday. You can run with it, authentically, so much so that someone weeks or years later will remember the card you gave or that speech you shared. When I mentioned my Valentine’s evening earlier, I left out the part about how my aunt all the way in Ontario sent me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. It was completely unexpected and still makes me smile. Don’t be afraid to give love, and remember to be gracious when receiving it.

“We deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”

I probably don’t relate to this statement the way someone of the LGBTQ community would. Still, I want this type of love–robust and unapologetic–for people. For Ellen Page, for my friends and family, for the haters on YouTube, for myself. I won’t settle for less; nor should anyone.



Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via Compfight cc

How to Make your Super Bowl Date a Game Changer

Valentine’s Day will be here quicker than you can say “Blue 42!  Blue 42!  Hut, hut, hike!” but before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s consider the other celebration that brings men and women together in a frenzy of passion: the Super Bowl.  This weekend, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will be getting cosy at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. and if your partner is at all football-savvy, then you’ll know that, honey, this Sunday it ain’t about you.

However, that’s not to say you can’t turn Super Bowl XLVIII (48—I looked it up) into a dating opportunity, maybe even a relationship #win.  You’ve just started seeing each other?  Head to his for a Super Bowl party and find out what he’s like around the boys (or vice versa).  This is an unintimidating way to break the ice with his friends.  The game will provide an instant talking point and any awkwardness will be drowned out by the buzz. You might even discover that he makes a mean 7-layer dip.

If you’ve been together for at least a few Super Bowls, then host the party together this time.  No need to stress over details as when entertaining in-laws, so you’ll be able to fully appreciate what it means to be on the same team.  One person sends the invites (i.e. mass text message) and the other buys the beer.  Domestic bliss.

Either way, here’s the game plan for making the most of your Super Bowl date:

Pick a team.  

Team colours are orange and blue for the Broncos and green, blue and silver for the Seahawks, if that helps.  Which it probably doesn’t because who picks their favourite team based on a colour scheme?  Not me.  No way.  As if.

The more analytically-minded might look to the economy for hints.  Which team’s win predicts a more significant rise in the S&P 500?  Bespoke Investment Group, for one, is going Broncos.

Brush up on the rules of engagement.  

Perhaps you have more football trivia up your sleeve than Justin Bieber has Americans wanting to kick him out of the country.  Perhaps you just figured out that a down is—what’s a down?  Not an up…It turns out that the basics are really quite basic.  Give them a gander.

Prepare your offering.

Along with highly-anticipated commercials, halftime wardrobe malfunctions and, well, football, the Super Bowl is all about indulgence.  So you’ve been sticking to your New Year’s diet thus far?  Scrap it, at least for the day, and give in to the jalapeno poppers.  The Huffington Post has put together a delectable lineup of game day appies including my personal favourite: fried mozzarella sticks.

Perfect your victory dance.  

Supermodels get lots of attention when they shimmy in the end zone.  See if it works for you.

Know your alternatives.

If you somehow manage to claim TV rights, or work in a compromise with your football-breathing date, then check out these other bowls that will be airing Sunday: Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl and Hallmark’s Kitten Bowl.  The expectation is that both will be adorable.

And finally, GO SEAHAWKS!