When writer Shana Gray's marriage ended, she thought she'd never find love again. Then, a weeklong foray into the world of online dating renewed her faith in romance—and herself.
"I'm leaving you tonight. I won't be there when you get home."
After 22 years of building a home and a family together, those were the only words Shana Gray's husband, Tim*, had left for her. His announcement—delivered by phone call while Shana was at work—came three weeks after she'd discovered he was having an affair with a mutual friend. "I had expected to be with him for the rest of my life," she says.
After Tim moved out in April 2003, Shana was ridden with insecurity. "I remember thinking that, if my ex didn't want me after 22 years, how could anyone else ever want me?" She was afraid to trust a new man after the horror stories she'd heard from her police officer ex-husband, and it didn't help matters when she watched a TV show about male stalkers one drunken night with her girlfriends. Maybe I'll just be single for the rest of my life, she thought.
Shana had been single for 18 months when one of her friends suggested she sign up for a dating site; the friend had found love online and thought Shana could do the same. But she was skeptical. At the time, there was still a stigma surrounding online dating, and Shana assumed most men trolling for women on the web were "scuzzbags." She finally agreed to log on—for a one-week trial.
Then, on Day 2, Steve* found her. Like in a cheesy '90s rom-com, his profile was titled "Looking for Ms. Right." His bio made him seem "down-to-earth and honest," so they struck up a conversation, moving quickly from chatting on the website to hour-long phone calls each evening at 10. Shana felt like she'd known him for ages.
When it came time to meet in person, they decided to grab a coffee at the mall. They had never seen pictures of each other, and Shana was scared Steve might not be physically attracted to her. "I'm a curvy girl," she says. She also had her friends on alert in case he was a creep. But when the couple embraced, there was an instant connection—and they've been together ever since.
In hindsight, Shana, now 55, realized the end of her marriage was the best thing that ever happened to her, as it made way for Steve to enter her life. A far better match for her, he's also much more supportive of her writing. She wrote and published her first novella in 2010 and has since authored several romance novels under the pen name Shana Gray. "Steve felt that I needed to have an outlet," she says. "He'd tell me, ‘You've got to follow your heart. You've got to do what you love.' "
*Names have been changed.
Artwork has the power to transform the look of any room in your home, but it can be hard to find a perfect piece that fits your space and your budget. Our favourite online destinations for affordable art will help you decorate your walls without emptying your wallet.
Society6 is home to hundreds of thousands of artists from all over the world. Each piece is available either as a gallery quality print (multiple sizes and framing available), or on canvas or metal. With a huge selection and prices starting at only $17, there is something for everyone.
The team at 20x200 believe that everyone can—and should—collect art. They collaborate with more than 300 artists to create exclusive pieces of art starting at just $24.
Everyone’s favourite bookstore is now a destination for home décor. The selection of artwork includes everything from fun typography prints to travel-inspired landscapes. The selection gets updated seasonally so check back frequently!
Etsy is an online community where artisans from all over the world sell handcrafted goods, including an incredible selection of original art and prints. Shoppers can save favourite items (for later purchase) by registering for free and becoming part of the Etsy community.
Started in 2007, Minted is an online marketplace for independent artists from across the globe. The varied selection of budget-friendly art is available in sizes ranging from 5 x 7 inches to 40 x 54 inches. You can search for the perfect piece of art based on style, shape and even colour. Custom framing is also available.
Instead of reaching for the phone, try these takeout recipes you can make at home.
Always check packaged food labels for gluten, including ketchup (Heinz is gluten-free), sriracha, fish sauce and broth (homemade stock is best – and safest).
Everyone needs a fried rice recipe in his or her repertoire, because it's great for using up leftovers.
Serve these burgers to people who don't like lentils and they'll soon be converted!
Sub in different vegetables depending on what you have in your crisper to make unique brown rice sushi.
East meets West in these tasty little bites. We've doubled up on the spring roll wrappers, which provides extra crunch and prevents the filling from bursting out.
This recipe can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours before adding the chicken.
Roasting all but one of the garlic cloves pumps up flavour to the max without having the overpowering taste of raw cloves.
No need for messy, greasy deep-frying with these crunchy baked wings. They make a fun meal for two – just add some sliced baby cukes, carrots and cherry tomatoes for a crunchy, fresh side.
Put down that takeout menu! This healthy spin on beef and broccoli will leave you feeling full and guilt-free.
This Vietnamese favourite is easy to make and is just as suitable for a main course as it is for an appetizer.
The essence of this Vietnamese pho lies in the long-cooking, rich beef broth which forms the base of the soup - the slow cooker is the ultimate tool for the task.
Our foolproof dough delivers the most amazing pizza crust you'll ever taste. The long rising time results in a lovely texture and extra-rich flavour.
This twist on a takeout favourite is made with sautéed chicken instead of greasy fried beef.
There's no need to dial up dinner when you can make this takeout classic – better, cheaper and faster – at home.
Even kids who hate fish with devour these fish fingers, and our Sweet Potato Oven Fries provide enormous amounts of vitamins A and C.
Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn Credits: Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn