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This S’pore brand is making sex toys mainstream, retailing in 4,000 stores



When you want to buy sex toys, where do you usually go? Sleazy sex toy shops in the hidden alleys of Geylang? Or online sex shops with a variety of confusing products with expensive price tags that make you hesitate to buy before trying?

Noting these concerns, Peder Wikstrom and Mattias Hulting from Sweden aim to break the taboo and stigma surrounding female sexuality products.

In the past, when Mattias tried to buy a vibrator for his then girlfriend (now wife), he found the shopping experience very uncomfortable, intimidating and embarrassing. Even in Europe, female sex toys were not sold at major outlets.

They both saw this gap and wanted to normalize the experience of buying sex toys in an easy, spontaneous, and more accessible way for everyone. The Asian market became their initial focus because they felt there is less competition in this sector.

They continued to raise funds from US $ 4.4 million from angel investors, as well as venture capitals such as DSG Consumer Partners and Nouvago Capital to finally launch a sex toy brand called Smile makers.

Making the best sex toys in the world.

Image Credit: Smile Makers

Their mission is singularly clear: to normalize female sexuality and create the best sex toys in the world.

Since none of them had design or engineering experience, they conducted focus groups and market research, working alongside a strong product development team, as well as expert sexologists and gynecologists to create their products.

They reiterated their prototype, getting multiple tests and feedback to refine the shape and design. They incorporated stories and personalities for each of their sex toys, inspired by common western and eastern female erotic fantasy.

sex toys in mainstream retail
Primary Retail Partner Example / Image Credit: Smile Makers

After perfecting easy-to-use, pretty and attractive vibrators at an affordable price of S $ 70, they deliberately headed to major retail stores to sell their wares.

They avoided stores that specialize in sex-related products and approached pharmacies, supermarkets, fashion and cosmetic stores, as well as department stores.

Conquering mainstream retail stores

Launched in Singapore in 2013, the biggest challenge smilemakers faced in their early days was penetrating retail. His approach was new and unprecedented, making it difficult to convince customers and partners to get on board.

They continued to receive pushback from the mainstream media who felt their products did not align with their business image. Until 2015, they still had a hard time partnering with major brands.

smile makers
Initial rejection from the mainstream media / Image Credit: Smile Makers

Her breakthrough came from Watsons, who ultimately supported her brand’s mission to normalize female sexuality – it was the first brand onboard.

Despite receiving positive reviews from satisfied and curious customers, barriers still existed. Initially, the products were not allowed to be displayed on the packaging, and there were limitations on the usage guidelines included inside.

smile maker sex toys
Image Credit: Smile Makers

Today, Smile Makers has grown to become a global brand with a presence in 4,000 retail stores in more than 25 markets, including Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan, Mongolia, South Africa and the United States.

They can be found in stores such as Watsons and Guardian pharmacies, Isetan department store, and Cotton On fashion store.

They are also promoting sex education.

In addition to persistent and relentless requests to major retail outlets, Smile Makers also pushed for universal sex ed.

They have worked closely with governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to launch sex education campaigns and push for legalization in conservative countries, because they hope to educate people about the importance of female pleasure for general well-being.

They threw Vulva talks , which is a pleasure-positive sex education program developed by Smile Makers with sexologists to answer questions about sex and everything related to the vulva. They believe that in addition to developing top-notch sex toys, it is important for women to understand their bodies in order to experience sexual satisfaction.

smile maker sex toys
Image Credit: Smile Makers

In conservative markets like Malaysia, they partnered with NGOs like the Federation of Reproductive Health Associations of Malaysia (FRHAM) to launch sex education campaigns. FRHAM is the leading service-based non-profit NGO in Malaysia advocating and promoting sexual and reproductive health (SRH), including family planning and the reproductive rights of women, men and youth.

Slowly but surely, all her efforts and determination began to pay off.

With the rise of the female tech industry (femtech) in 2016 and the viral spread of the #I also movement in 2017, empowering the vindication of women’s sexuality has become more common. Beauty and fashion brands also began pushing messages of body positivity and women’s well-being, including prioritizing sexual well-being.

At the end of 2018, many major media outlets started featuring them and retailers finally started saying ‘yes’ to them.

In fact, the demand for their products has changed dramatically in recent years. They have witnessed a great demand in the main market, and yours revenue increased 123 percent 2019 to 2020 in the US only.

smile maker sex toys
Image Credit: Smile Makers

In October 2020, they conducted a feedback survey among their customers, gathering data from 7,000 women in seven markets, and found that more than half (56 percent) prefer to buy vibrators in conventional retail, while 63 percent prefers to buy in beauty products. stories.

This is a testament that their push into mainstream retail was the right move from the start.

The ultimate goal is to legalize the sex toy industry.

Smilemakers are constantly improving the design and branding of their products to make them more accessible, identifiable and user-friendly for maximum feminine satisfaction.

They are ready to relaunch their original collection of innovative vibrators, with a range of improved designs driven by user feedback.

Smile Makers increased the total weight of the product by 150% to achieve a more powerful vibration and a greater feel. They have incorporated the latest and greatest technology available to deliver stronger yet softer vibrations, while the increased size makes the products more comfortable to hold and enables precise use.

Commenting on the product design, Cécile Gasnault, Brand Director of Smile Makers saying that customers love the accessibility of their designs, so they intend to keep it.

“Although we have increased the power of the engines and the size of the products, we have maintained the accessible proportions and appearances to cater to a beginner audience as originally intended,” added Ariel Chen, Brand Manager for Asia at Creators of smiles.

They developed simple, ergonomic designs with a cute pastel color palette that are very attractive. They branded and personalized each product with erotic fantasy characters, such as Firefighter (formerly the Firefighter), The billionaire (formerly The Millionaire), The tennis professional, Y The French lover.

smile maker sex toys
Image Credit: Smile Makers

The new packaging features body-positive illustrations, while the product names have been updated to modern, entertaining, and relevant descriptors.

In an interview with the Vulcan Post, Ariel said that, going forward, Smile Makers remains committed to its original mission of normalizing the perception of female sexuality around the world.

His ultimate goal is for smile makers to become ubiquitous, and his sex education campaigns would help normalize perception and promote the legalization of the industry around the world.

They want to reach as many countries as possible, even in countries where the sex toy industry is illegal, like the Arab countries, Thailand and Vietnam.

Featured Image Credit: Smile Makers


How to know when to throw something away



Healer and counselor Peggy Fitzsimmons, who has been helping people eliminate garbage from their lives for fifteen years, suggests that ultimately tidying up is not about making space, it is a spiritual quest in and of itself.

The new Fitzsimmons book, Launch: Create a Clutter-Free, Soul-Driven Life, is a guide to letting go of things, be it physical belongings, mental and emotional build-up, stagnant energy, or bitter relationships. By surveying every area of ​​our lives and making decisions about what stays and what goes, says Fitzsimmons, we can rediscover what is most true for us. The following excerpt from chapter five of Launch, offers seven questions to ask ourselves to determine if something is worth holding onto.

  1. Peggy Fitzsimmons Launch

    Peggy Fitzsimmons
    Bookstore, $ 16


From Launch

The questions below are the roadmap for your orderly journey. Ask them about everything in their life and listen carefully to the answers. If you follow this map, the things in your life that are aligned with your soul, and the things that are not, will begin to reveal themselves. And you will be on the road to freedom.

Does it contribute to the intention of my soul?

Does this thought, feeling, energy, relationship, or possession contribute to your soul intention? For example, does it help you feel spacious, live easily and efficiently, or feel light, bright, relaxed, and engaged? This question goes directly to what is essential. Actually, it is the only question you have to solve. A negative answer to this question indicates that it is time to miss something. Easy enough, but your selfish mind will make it difficult. He will examine and refute and worry and complain. He will do his best to keep you holding on to things that do not contribute to your soul’s intention. The rest of the questions will help you make decisions that support your soul knowledge.

It’s lovely?

Is this thought, feeling, energy, relationship, or possession beautiful? This is quite simple, but a warning here. You may be able to say, “Yes, it is a beautiful abstract painting,” but if you prefer realistic paintings, you would be a candidate for publication. Like anything else that is not aligned with your soul’s preference for beauty. If it’s not beautiful you, Let it go.

It is useful?

Is this thought, feeling, energy, relationship, or possession helpful? You are looking for the things that contribute to your effectiveness in life and allow you to do the things that your soul wants to do. This question seems to be self explanatory, but keep in mind when answering. You can say, “Well, this belief that I need everyone’s approval has helped keep me safe in my life, so yeah, it’s helpful,” but the truth is that it prevents you from living life your way. Or you can say, “Yes, these ski poles are very useful,” but the truth is that you stopped skiing years ago. Be clear that whatever it is, it is really helpful to live your soul intention now. If it doesn’t help, let it go.

Do you love me too?

Does this thought, feeling, energy, relationship, or possession make you love yourself back? The things you love and the things that love you make your heart sing. It feels good. In his presence, your energy ignites and you say, “Oh, I LOVE that!”

Be curious if things in your life evoke that kind of feeling. Or are they more like the vase your ex-husband’s parents gave you: the ugly yellow one with the red hummingbirds that makes you shiver every time you see it? Or the feeling of shame that comes over you when you compare your body to the retouched models in the magazines? Or your frustration when random things stuck in the hall closet fall out every time you take out the vacuum? These are examples of things that don’t love you. They hit you with a stream of energy that is not true to you. It is not wise to undergo that repeatedly. If he doesn’t love you, let him go.

Is it today?

Is this thought, feeling, energy, way of relating or possession in the present tense? Most of us do not live in the present. Or we place ourselves in the past time, which is the land of memories, obsolete beliefs or charged emotions from other times and places; or in the future, which is the land of fear and planning. If you hang out in the past, you will find that you are thinking and talking a lot about the days of yore. You can glorify old relationships, or lament how you used to be a size six, or repeatedly tell stories of your life’s trials and tribulations. You’ll have tight clothes in your closet, a filing cabinet that barely opens, and you’ll be sorry you didn’t say yes to that job offer five years ago. You will feel guilty, sad, or angry more often than you would like to admit.

If you hang out in the future, you will find yourself concentrating on what might happen. You will either plan ahead to the point of missing the moment or be hyper vigilant in everything so you can handle any impending disaster. You will fly everyone in your life by helicopter and take pride in anticipating “their” needs. You’ll have thick clothes in your closet, an overabundance of worries, and plenty of brown shopping bags in the space between the refrigerator and the kitchen cabinet. You will be prepared for any eventuality and you will hear yourself saying things like “I have to keep this, just in case” or “I might need it sometime” or “What if …?”

Remember, the ego does its best to keep us in the past and future tense. But our soul is at home in the present, dancing with life as it is, moment by moment. When we live in the present tense, our physical environment reflects who we are now and what our life is like now. We are willing to live the moments as they come, without rushing or holding on. We trust that everything we really need comes to us at the perfect time and in the best way, and that we have, and have always had, the flexibility and ability to respond to what happens in our lives. If something is not in the present tense, let it go.

Do you have a sacred place to live?

Does this thought, feeling, energy, way of relating or possession have a sacred place to live? Think of it this way. Of all the things in this big world, you have chosen this particular thing to fill your indoor and outdoor spaces. The fact that you have chosen it automatically makes it sacred. Therefore, you must honor him and appreciate the service he provides you. You have to make sure it has a sacred place to live. If it is possession, treat it with respect by keeping it and the place where you live clean and orderly. Even if it’s relegated to a drawer or closet or garage closet, make sure it’s easy to see, easy to find, and easy to find. If you decide to maintain a thought, feeling, energy, or relationship, it should also receive a place of honor. It must be visible, accessible and appreciated. An orderly soul lives transparently, with everything in its right place. If you can’t find a holy place to live, let it go.

Does my love help me to serve the world?

Does this thought, feeling, energy, way of relating or possession help you to serve your love to the world? We are here to serve by sharing our love. Your soul knows the unique ways you must love. You have always had certain ways, certain abilities, certain gifts, and certain dreams about who you wanted to be and what you wanted to do. When you share your love with the world, you know it. Your heart is open, I live with intention and purpose. You are in your natural flow, with nothing to hold back the river of your focus and energy. You are receiving more than you could give. If something in your inner or outer space does not help you serve your love to the world, it no longer serves you. Let it go.

Excerpted with permission from Waterside Productions.

Peggy Fitzsimmons is a counselor, healer, and author focused on intensive cleansing. For twenty-five years, he helped people recovering from mental health problems and addictions in clinical settings and through therapy in nature. Fitzsimmons has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Arizona State University and is trained in Hakomi somatic therapy and intuitive energy healing. His first book is Launch: Create a Clutter-Free, Soul-Driven Life.

We hope you enjoy the book recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things that we love and think you could too. We also like transparency, therefore full disclosure: we may charge a part of sales or other compensation if you buy through external links on this page.

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A 5-Step Breathing Exercise to Fall Asleep



Simple breathing to soften

Once you’ve settled into bed, try a simple breathing exercise to relax. The four-seven-eight breathing technique was developed and popularized by integrative medicine physician Andrew Weil. Because he was a pioneer in the early days of psychedelic research. Like substances, the breath can be used to alter our state of consciousness, albeit in a much more subtle way. This technique is used to cultivate calm.

Step one: Exhale audibly through your mouth until you are completely empty and can imagine the depths of your breath.

Second step: Inhale calmly through your nose for a count of four. This count of four does not have to be four seconds, although it could be.

Step three: Hold your breath for a count of seven. Again, this does not have to be seven seconds. Just keep the same rhythm that you used on your inhale.

Step four: Exhale audibly through your mouth for a count of eight. Try to get to the bottom of your breath on the eighth count and not earlier.

Step five: Immediately begin to inhale through your nose to repeat this breath. You could repeat the breath as little as four times, or you could go longer.

While this exercise specifies certain counts for each inhale and exhale, the exact amount of time spent on each part of the breath is not the point. It’s more about the relationship between inhaling, holding, and exhaling. If you find it difficult to hold your breath fully, feel free to speed up the count. You may notice that your counts slow down as you cycle through these breaths and you spend more time on each inhale, hold, and exhale. Watch the way your mind settles.

We hope you enjoy the products recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things that we love and think you could too. We also like transparency, therefore full disclosure: we may charge a part of sales or other compensation if you buy through external links on this page.

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Why Crystal Therapy Serums and Mats Are Fun



Goop beauty editors Jean Godfrey-June and Megan O’Neill love asking and answering questions. On their podcast, The Beauty Closet, they are doing both. To get you acquainted with each week’s guest, we created a Journal Beat beauty (and life) quiz.

This week we are talking to:

Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak,
comedians and podcast co-hosts POOG

The easy guess about POOG, the hilarious and wellness-obsessed podcast of comedians and longtime friends Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak, is that it’s either a parody or a critique of the Journal Beat. “We are true believers,” says Berlant.
“People, fools, said, ‘Are you making fun of the goo, are you making fun of well-being?’ And we think, ‘No, honey.’ And so that everyone is clear, skin care is also wellness. We love everything. “

  1. HealthyLine Gemstone Heat Therapy Mat

    Gemstone Heat Therapy Mat
    Journal Beat, $ 1,049


  2. Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum

    Daughter of the viticulturist
    Active botanical serum
    Journal Beat, $ 185


So in addition to giggling uncontrollably, Journal Beat beauty editors Jean Godfrey-June and Megan O’Neill can talk spa treatments, clean beauty, and homemade crystal-healing rugs with the women of POOG, the podcast The New Yorker called “a laugh from inside the house that built the wellness industry” on this week’s episode of The Beauty Closet.

“You are expected to hide your interest in serums from being taken seriously as an intellectual,” says Novak, whose critically acclaimed off-Broadway show, get on your knees (yeah, it’s all about blowjobs, and it’s great) he’s going on tour this summer. The idea of POOG It came about when Novak and Berlant were lounging naked between hot and cold plunges in a Korean spa. “There was the thrill of the shared obsession and the fact of how intense it is for us,” says Novak. Rather than conceal their shared fixation for serums and grain-free baking classes, the two plumb its depths, often hysterical, mixing up a lot of Jung (“We force scholarly references to the point of absurdity when we can,” he says. Berlant).

After pondering questions like “Do you enjoy more lip and cheek products that you can wear anywhere, or is it more about having a separate, dedicated lipstick?” Berlant and Novak were more than willing to complete our Journal Beat. beauty quiz. And although you will definitely laugh through it, as in POOG, the joke doesn’t pile on the much-maligned multi-billion dollar wellness industry. As the two explained to Seth Meyers: “Making fun of crystals is a humiliation in itself.”

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What are therapeutic repairs? | Goop



Therapeutic reparations are about providing therapy to black, brown and indigenous people, since racial trauma is inherent in the black, brown and indigenous experience in this country. I want to provide a safer space for people where cost does not have to be a factor. Harmful, racist, and oppressive things have happened to some people at work and school, and they lead to therapy. It’s heavy; it’s traumatic they have to be so vulnerable. And then, as a doctor, be like, “You have to talk about these things that you have no control over, that are systemic, that are still a pain in our country, and then also let me charge you for that.” it just doesn’t feel right.

A therapist named Tamara Turner and her colleague came up with the idea for therapeutic repairs, and I borrowed the idea and wanted to adapt it for my clients. It happened in June of last year, and it started in a place that felt very, very heavy. We were living a pandemic in the middle of a racial uprising. Being a queer black therapist, I felt like I was doing a lot but not enough. I said to myself: “What else can I do?” I felt it was unfair to talk to black, brown and indigenous people about racist trauma and oppression and demand that they pay for it. It also didn’t feel fair that she wasn’t paid to be a queer black woman. So when I came up with that idea, I knew it was a way to make my work even more impactful and meaningful by removing a huge barrier, cost, to therapy for black, brown, and indigenous people. I created a fund for people to donate for therapy repairs. The money I receive allows me to offer free or discounted sessions to my black, brown and indigenous clients.

Therapy repairs are not a gift or black, brown, and indigenous people asking for donations. It is about the fact that throughout the history of this country there has been inequity. Therapeutic repairs soften some of the shit that happens to the people of this country every day. The therapy repairs maybe take a weight off someone’s back. It’s not, “Oh, I’m going to do this because I feel sorry for you. Let me do it because I recognize that I have a privilege and I feel bad about it. “We all have privileges, and the goal of therapeutic reparations is to recognize the oppression that black, brown and indigenous people have endured and continue to endure, and to take a small step toward healing and atonement.

Therapy repairs are a great way to get people who have never been to therapy into therapy and people who can’t even afford to think about therapy. On top of that, it’s also about ensuring that color therapists are fully compensated. Those two things go hand in hand.

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The 7 best vegetables and how to cook them



In association with our friends from Willo

Green leafy vegetables are dietary powerhouses. They can provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They can also taste amazing in or on top of delicately dressed salads, simmered stews, casseroles, quick stir fries; the possibilities continue. To help you decide what to cook when you’re looking at a green grocery store wall, farmer’s market table, or CSA box: a pocket guide to our seven most loved veggies, with tips on working with them and recipes to Try now.


When it comes to vegetables, as with all foods, stocking is important. Before washing, preparing and cooking, do some informed shopping. While you can find most of the veggies on our list in grocery stores, it’s fun to browse the specialty varieties at farmers markets or through the CSA boxes.

If you are looking for a greens experience that is truly exceptional, WilloA sustainable minded vertical farming service is for you. The company was founded with the right goals to help end hunger, make agriculture more sustainable, and provide nutrient-rich products to support people’s overall health. Its vertical farming technology enables high efficiency: crops grown without soil and with little water, illuminated by LED lights, with the potential to provide more than 200 times more food per acre than traditional agriculture. It also provides full customization. You can manage your own field within Willo’s vertical farm, choose your crops, and monitor their growth through an app on your phone. Once harvested, they are delivered to you weekly or biweekly so you can have the freshest, most nutritious, and delicious veggies as often as you like.

There are some options you already know and love, like spinach and kale; some less common types, such as mizuna and poplar turnip greens; and some options that Willo himself has cultivated. Willo Genovese basil is based on a variety that has been nearly impossible to grow outside of Northern Italy (and was too brittle to import). Willo was able to recreate the growing climate that this incredibly special herb needs in order to be able to grow and enjoy it all year round. Willo’s next farm will launch later this fall, and it recently opened its membership to include most of the major metropolitan areas.


We all remember the great kale boom of the 2010s. Kale is now widely known and several varieties are available in most stores. (The ones we use the most are kale, lacinato, and red kale.) Like most hearty vegetables, kale can take a lot of cooking. And while its flavor is strong and skews slightly bitter, it pairs well with other ingredients, especially bold and spicy like garlic, chili peppers, and vinegar. You can cook it fast and hot, simmer it and simmer it, add it to stews, or grill or grill it to make it crisp and charred.

Kale can taste great when used raw, and that tough texture makes it a salad that can last for hours, if not days, after dressing. It just takes a little preparation so it doesn’t taste like fiber. Simply massage the kale with a little olive oil and let it sit for ten minutes to soften a bit before assembling and dressing the rest of the salad. If you don’t have time for that, cut it into thin slices, almost like cheesecloth, so it really soaks up the dressing and is more pleasant to chew on.

One way to avoid preparing for using raw kale in salads: Opt for baby kale. It is the same plant, freshly harvested before, so the younger leaves are smaller and the texture is much more tender. Use it as you would arugula or spring mix.


Spinach is one of the most popular vegetables in the world. It has a mild flavor, is easy to prepare, and can go with just about anything. Ripe spinach leaves are larger and heavier, with a slightly earthier flavor, and usually come with attached stems. These can be blanched, steamed, sautéed, or simmered in soups and stews. Just make sure you wash them well and remove all the dirt. Baby spinach is usually better for salads because it comes without sand and with smaller, more tender leaves. Because baby spinach has a mild flavor, it is almost imperceptible in smoothies.


If you’ve never had chard before, it’s somewhere between kale and spinach. It is not as stringy as kale, but certainly tougher than spinach. Which makes it perfect for applications that could be in the middle, when you need something delicate and tough at the same time. However, unlike kale, its stems are tasty and nutritious and can be added along with the leaves to whatever you are cooking. Or cut them up and pickle them for later. If you can find tender chard, it is delicious in salads. We prefer to cook chard fully grown, even very gently. Try it sauteed, sauteed, or steamed.


It may be common in grocery stores, but when you take a minute to think about it, arugula is pretty impressive. It has a delicate texture and a robust, tangy flavor – a satisfying juxtaposition. Arugula in salad mixes is a favorite, in part because it complements other types of vegetables. That spicy flavor makes it a natural topping with plenty of cooked items like pumpkin or grains, or when added to pasta and pizzas at the last minute to gently wilt. It’s also a credible basil substitute for pesto.


When we think of collard greens, we generally think of them as a southern American staple, with a culinary tradition that originated with enslaved people from Africa. This method generally involves cooking the collard greens over low, low heat, with aromatics, such as onion and garlic, and cured meat, such as bacon or ham hocks. That long cooking time not only tenderizes the veggies, but brings out a subtle minerality along with that earthiness. It’s worth the wait. There are also many other ways you can use collard greens. The texture is smoother than kale, but many of the same cooking instructions apply. We have also had success using cabbage leaves as wraps and fermenting them.


Bok choy is one of the easiest vegetables to love. And if you are new to Chinese cooking, this is a wonderful ingredient to start with. It is crisp, refreshing, and slightly sweet with a clean finish. It’s just as delicious raw in a salad as it is stir-fried, grilled, or roasted. Baby bok choy is a smaller variety that is widely available, but other varieties are also gaining popularity in Western grocery stores. Sizes vary, along with the stem-to-leaf ratio, but they are all tasty and fun to play with.


If you like arugula, you will probably like mizuna. It is a little less spicy with bright citrus notes. The texture is somewhat similar to the frisée, with bushy tips and long, tender stems. Mizuna is great for salads and is often used cooked or fermented in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Cook it quick and hot in a wok or add a handful to the soup just before serving.

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Music therapy and aging | Goop



Most of us have experienced the power of music to connect people, be it at a concert or karaoke night. In Myself investigateI watched how it connects older adults with preschoolers, fourth graders, and college students, specifically. It was beautiful and entertaining to watch. We use music as a source of interaction between groups. From singing songs to rock band concerts, we found meaningful ways to connect age groups that enhanced their cognitive skills and provided positive intergenerational experiences.

In an experiment with preschoolers and older adults, we used songs to help preschoolers learn their sight words (words that a child learns to recognize without pronouncing the letters). Both the preschoolers and the older adults learned and recited the songs, and the older adults helped with the visual cues. We saw an improvement in word and song recognition for preschoolers, and they had positive and engaging experiences with older adults.

Each age group differed in how they connected. In the fourth grade experiment, it was sometimes awkward to get children and older adults to feel comfortable with each other. The shyest groups of fourth graders and older adults would hardly say anything without my participation. I used musical activities with structured conversation prompts to create an environment in which to interact. Fortunately, at the end of the program, things changed dramatically: I couldn’t get the fourth graders and the older adults to stop talking to each other. We included reading and writing exercises so fourth graders could practice these skills and older adults could help them. We saw fourth graders improve their academic skills and older adults felt a sense of reward. I remember there was an older adult who was not able to see his grandchildren very often and when he did, it was not a pleasant experience. She really enjoyed our fourth grade program because she was able to gain a positive intergenerational experience that she would not have had otherwise.

For college students and seniors, I used musical performance to connect the two groups by creating a rock band. Each semester, a group of college students and seniors performed a concert featuring pop music from the 1960s to the present day, such as “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Uptown Funk.” They sang songs, played instruments, and performed choreography. By reciting music and learning to play an instrument, they were able to develop cognitive skills, concentration, and attention. And the choreography allowed for more physical activity and coordination. The older adults really embodied the music, which helped them connect with the college students. And it translated into an increase in connection with their adult children: they could now sing when they heard the song on a playlist or watched TV. Playing in the band allowed his self-expression to increase while his sense of isolation diminished. The program gave them constant motivation to get out of bed every day and get out of the house, especially for those with depression. And both parties left the show with positive (and fun) intergenerational experiences.

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Riley Reed’s Sunday night routine will inspire yours



“I didn’t always know what I wanted to do with my voice, I just knew I had to do something.”

And so he did. Three years ago, Riley reed challenged the status quo and what it means to be an artist with the launch of his creative studio, Woke up the beauty. Reading the insightful prose that accompanies the stories of the subject it captures is akin to witnessing the magic. Whether it’s helping us rethink life and purpose through poetry with Arielle Estoria or showing us how to live with joy and liberation like Keon Saghari, Reed’s pencil and paper is his microphone, and we are all ears. “What I’ve come to find the most is that the birth of Woke Beauty awakened something inside of me.” she writes. “No amount of words could express my gratitude.” The feeling is mutual.

It’s safe to say that we are emotionally and spiritually moved by the socially conscious storyteller and photographer, and we wanted to know more about Reed’s life beyond the page. So today we put the focus on our wellness editor by sharing more about her. The Sunday night routine, how her weekend rituals set her up for success, and why encouraging breathing and calm is so important to reduce stress and control those cortisol levels. Because just as a good night equals a good day, a happy Sunday brings a happy week.

Read on to learn more about Riley Reed’s Sunday Night Routine …

Prioritize rest.

I do my best to block out Sundays to rest, but if I’m honest it doesn’t always happen that way (working on the boundaries of work). Whatever happens, I leave the second half of the day open to flow freely so that I can start my Sunday night routine in the early afternoon. Much of my week is a mad rush. I have a tendency to underestimate how long things take. Time, in essence, is elusive. With a long Sunday afternoon / evening routine, I don’t have to worry about packing things. I can finally relax and let things happen however they can.

Take it outside.

My Sundays are often spent with my husband, Jack. If it’s sunny, we love spending the day outside. We will hike or take a dip in Barton Springs. It is so nice to be together in nature, even if it is just a walk in the neighborhood with our dogs. The sun sets in front of our house, beyond the oak trees and I love to see it just before it splashes through the glass of our front door.

Walking without a phone feels rhythmic and meditative. Allow my mind to think freely with each step.

Sometimes I go with my husband, Jack, so we can share our thoughts. There is something so close in walking in step with someone you love. Movement encourages dynamic conversation or comforting silence. It is a great way to sync body and mind. Starting and ending the day with a walk feels cyclical and ingrained. It also relaxes our young and energetic Pitbulls.

Photo by Whit mcguire.

But first … clean!

I start Sunday nights with a walk before scanning the house to make sure it’s clean and tidy. My days are so busy and with a good chunk of my work at home, things definitely add up. While maintenance is ideal, it is not always possible. Someone has to concede.

I like to use Sundays as a reset, clean slate. The sound of the dishwasher and clothes is soothing and relaxing. It feels like you’re literally washing away the dirt for the week.

I wash my hair once a week (maximum). It is an important process and usually involves a hair mask that takes time to work its magic. It’s true that Jack and I tend to have Eurostyle dinner (quite late). I’ll start cooking around 7pm (while my mask does its job) and I’m going to love making a batch of nut muffins for the week while things simmer. I have a tendency to skip breakfast and, personally, it doesn’t prepare me for a lot of energy or productivity. Nut muffins are easy to drink and a great source of nutrition. After dinner, I wash off my hair mask and do my skincare routine.

Jack and I are huge moviegoers. We love being nerdy in movies and shows. Right now we are actually in Mare of Easttown. Before going to bed, I do a big brain dump, jot down my wins and lessons from the previous week, and scan my schedule for the following week to make sure I have everything in order. Sometimes I meditate for a few minutes, other times I read some pages of a quiet book, always with a lit candle. We usually turn off the lights around 11pm.

Favorite cleaning product: Branch Basics

Favorite candle: Diptique Baies

Favorite hair mask: Curls Blueberry Bliss hair repair mask

Favorite mask: Cosmedix

Start your nightly routine in the morning.

As a soloist and artist, every day is Wednesday. My “fears” are not specific to Sundays, but I have anxiety at night. In fact, I recently had a panel where I learned that my cortisol rises between 7 and 9 pm. When I feel anxious, my energy rises and my brain tends to spiral. I worry that I haven’t done enough or will miss something the next day. I conjure up falsehoods and worry about anything that comes up in my cyclical thoughts.

To combat increased stress and embarrassment, I actually do my best to have an efficient morning. Steven Pressfield talks about the small earnings that lead to productive work and a calm mind. I exercise early and follow a regular supplement routine. I don’t drink coffee after 10 am and I keep it in a mug. In this way, my body can maintain its balance and establish itself steadily as the day progresses. In the evening, I like to sum up my accomplishments and lessons for the day and my intentions and priorities for the next day.

Mantra I love: Wholeness and fluidity.

Write it.

If I work Sunday night, it’s just writing. It is the day to clean, to reset. No matter what I write, I feel like I’m doing it. I think a lot … almost all the time … and many times about serious or esoteric things. Writing allows me to empty my mind so that I have more space to relax, have fun, and spend quality time with my relationships.

Turn off your phone.

I am very careful not to see anything that activates or to check some accounts (email, bank, Instagram, etc.). There are too many external forces that could affect my thinking and I can’t afford that on a day off. I also do my best to save Sunday nights for myself and Jack, which means I can’t socialize outside the home. Much of my work is dedicated to people. Setting that limit is really important.

Make space.

In the past, I had a lamp, a candle, a dream journal, moisturizing oil, and the current book that I am reading. But we recently got rid of our nightstands while redecorating our bedroom. I have loved having a clear space next to the bed. I heard that the bedroom should be dedicated to sleep, privacy, and nothing else. There is something so beautiful, simple and sacred in that intentionality.

Prepare in advance.

I keep it simple with a batch of nut muffins for mornings on the go. I prefer to cook throughout the week.

Make it cozy.

Stunned but amazed! Love your sheets. We have this tonal set selected. (Note that the brand is currently in “hibernation” for a month and will return in mid-July).


I read recently Clare and the sun and I finally made it through Atomic habits. Currently reading Gloss.

Continue Reading


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