[Ladies Lounge] Getting The Sex Life You Deserve + A Giveaway!

How long has it been since your last orgasm? Come on, don’t be shy. We’re family here.

If it takes you too long to remember, today’s post has been written just for you. I sat down with sexologist Kimani Fisher, blogger and creator of VforVadge.com, to discuss your most urgent sex questions.

ladies lounge

A few weeks ago, I asked you all to submit your questions to my Ask.fm account (so you could be anonymous if you so chose). Quite a few of you wrote in and I selected four questions for my time with Kimani. Read on to see if your question was selected, and scroll all the way to the end to enter the giveaway (a $50 value!)

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Kimani says:

The most important part is communication—letting him know what you are looking for, what you like and then implementing those changes in the bedroom. As far as the 5 minutes, sometimes men do take longer than women to get built up to lasting longer. Sometimes a bit of oral stimulation can help with that. Let him release first and then the second go ’round tends to last longer.

 

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Kimani says:

It often leads back to foreplay. If he’s not prepared to get you where you want to be, sometimes it takes you longer than expected. Adding foreplay, even starting with a massage, or even just manual stimulation can help you to kick-start your orgasm a little earlier. Also, you might want to try different types of stimulation. Giving him that extra level of direction can help you speed things up, so to speak.

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Kimani says:

If you’re really tired at night, adding stimulation can help you get warmed up. If you’re sleepy, he might want to start by touching you in places you enjoy, to get you to self-lubricate and get you excited to have sex. Making sure you are in the mood is really important. Nobody wants to have dry sex. Also, using positions that take less work on your end might make it a little better for you and it also helps him use all his energy so he feels more satisfied as well.

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Kimani says:

 You’re an adult and you’re entitled to enjoy your sexuality, as long as you’re doing it responsibly. It starts with getting into that frame of mind. Your mom is not in the bedroom with you. Your grandma is not in the bedroom with you. Make sure you are covering all your bases. At the end of the day, no one else can tell you what’s going to work for you sexually. There’s nothing wrong with having sex.

Can somebody say amen? The fun doesn’t stop here because we also have a giveaway, that Kimani herself was so generous to provide us. One lucky reader will win a Prince Rechargeable G-Spot Vibrator (a $50 value). All you have to do is create some entries using the Rafflecopter below. Contest ends Thursday, March 5! Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Is Your Relationship Good For You? The Simple Question You Need To Ask Yourself

Relationship “gurus” like Steve Harvey have made millions “teaching” women how to attract and keep a successful man. But to me, the mark of a healthy relationship is simple and doesn’t involve a ton of books or webinars. If you want to know if your relationship can possibly go the distance, there’s only one question you need to ask.

“Do I feel safe?”

It’s the basis of all healthy relationships and if the answer is anything other than “YES!” your relationship will flounder. Until you can enthusiastically say, “Yes, I feel safe with him/her,” everything else you’re doing together is a waste of time. Now, this question is actually a few questions in one. Let’s break it down:

“Do I feel physically safe?” 

This is the basic one. If your partner is yelling at you, threatening you, or hitting you, this is an unhealthy relationship and one that needs to end ASAP.  Understand that physical safety—being able to relax and let your guard down around your partner without fear of physical harm—is the number one priority. Realize that without it, there can be no trust, no understanding, no respect and no benefit for you.

“Do I feel safe sharing my emotions?”

Have you ever dated someone who always dismissed your thoughts? No matter what you said, they thought they knew better or tried to convince you that what you’re feeling isn’t true or doesn’t make sense. But in a healthy relationship, you can share your feelings and you don’t get blamed for them. You can tell your partner, “You know, I was upset when you were late coming home and you didn’t text me first.” A partner who doesn’t respect your emotions will brush you off: “Oh, you’re always getting upset over nothing.”

You matter. Your emotions matter. Now, let me also say that if your partner is sometimes dismissive, it doesn’t mean you bolt. Sometimes they do not hear themselves or realize how their actions affect you. Let them know how you feel and give them time to internalize it. If, over time, you still feel minimized or not taken seriously, then it’s time to make some hard decisions.

“Do I feel safe planning a future with this person?”

Say your boo is kind but can’t hold down a job. Or maybe he’s into music but he’s 35 and no closer to a record deal than when he was 18. Or say she’s always telling little white lies that snowball. If you can’t be relatively certain that this person will make decisions that benefit you both, it’s hard to say the relationship is going where you’d like it to go.

“Do I feel safe letting my guard down, i.e. being myself?” 

In talking to my therapist, I spoke about the feeling of wearing Spanx and how good it feels to come home and slip into some sweatpants. That’s how your relationship should feel – comfortable and freeing. Of course, in the beginning, there is a lot of pressure to be your “best self.” The one who is never late, who wipes her hands with napkins instead of licking the BBQ sauce off, the one who wears heels everywhere. But over time, you should feel safe giving your partner access to your authentic self —you know the one who is occasionally running 15 minutes late, who will her fingers in public with the quickness and who will laugh if you suggest wearing heels to the zoo.

It’s that simple.

“Do I feel safe?” covers a multitude of areas and reinforces what I want everybody reading this to understand: You matter. You are important. Everyone, should they choose to seek it out, deserves good, honest, enduring love.

Parenting Isn’t About What You Say. It’s About What You Do

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“Y’all drink too much juice,” I told my kids a few weeks ago.

I was on that it’s-the-New-Year-so-we-need-to-have-better-healthier-habits kick and we were going through a couple cartons of orange juice and lemonade a week. I wanted them to drink more water.

But you know it’s hard to change a habit simply using your words. You’ve got to act. If you don’t act, then nothing changes. So I made drinking water my personal goal. I filled up my water bottle at least four times a day and make sure the kids saw me sipping water all day long.

Now they pack their own lunches and instead of grabbing juice boxes, they pack water bottles. All on their own. I didn’t say anything about juice boxes versus water bottles. They simply made the switch and now I’m thrilled they’re getting better hydration.

This is one of those realities of parenting that you don’t really pick up on until you’ve got a few years in the game. Your children are always watching you. They may tune you out when you start fussing, but they are always watching you.

They watch how you handle an unexpected change of plans.

They watch how you handle bad news.

They watch how you handle good news.

They watch how you handle interactions with people you don’t like (you think they don’t know you have beef with your sister? Oh trust me, they know).

They watch how you handle insane traffic jams.

They watch how you handle yourself when you have something important to do.

Their eyes are on you until they leave your home and by then, they’re almost fully formed. Parenting is by example, not by lecture.

If you want your children to be respectful, be respectful. 

If you want your children to be kind and caring, be kind and caring.

If you want your children to be responsible, be responsible.

Actions, not speeches, are what separate the best parents from the worst. We not only talk the talk but we walk the walk. Your children will know the difference.

What Going To Therapy Is Really Like

black woman in therapy - what therapy is really like

So I’ve been going to therapy for about a month now.

I began this year with a pledge to myself: I wanted to stop talking about how I wanted to be happy and instead focus on actually being happy.

It was time to take the reins of my life and stop waiting on other people to help me feel happy, content and well-nourished. I had to do it for myself. It was possible, but I am the only one who can take that first step.

So I called my insurance company, double-checked my coverage, gritted my teeth and booked my appointment. And then resisted the urge to call and cancel because “Wait, I’m not crazy….am I?”

The stigma of therapy almost caused me to miss out on a wonderful blessing. If you admit to (the wrong) people that you’re struggling and you don’t think you can manage your mental health alone, they’ll come up with a million reasons why you don’t need help.

“But you have a great life! What could be wrong with you?” 

“But only crazy people go to therapy. Are you crazy?”  

“You just need to pray. Have you talked to a pastor?” 

“Everybody’s stressed. What makes you think you’re so special?”

“It will pass. You’re just in a busy season of life right now.” 

I’ve heard all of these things and more in discussing with people my desire to go to therapy. (I heard the first one the most frequently. Everyone assumes my life is perfect, but if I’m the one drowning….don’t tell me how well I can swim, you know?)

Here’s what going to therapy is really like: We sit in my therapist’s office and…we talk. We talk about my week, about the things I’m struggling with, about the areas in my life I’d like to see improvement. We talk about my strengths. We talk about my victories. We talk about the people who have shaped me and the woman I would like to be in the future.

What therapy has done for me is given myself permission to be me, unapologetically. As I dig deeper and discover my strength and learn to position my weakness in a way that doesn’t harm me, I’m learning to love ME. All of me. The flaws I carry, the scars etched into my memory, the quirks that make me different from anyone else on the planet. All of that is more precious to me now that it was a month ago.

After I wrote the post about making my first therapy appointment, so many women reached out to me. “Thank you for sharing this,” most of them said. A few even said they were going to make an appointment with a therapist and two actually followed up with me to share that they went!

Investing in yourself is priceless. This isn’t a plea for everyone to go to therapy – not in the least. But it is a plea for you to take care of yourself, emotionally and mentally. There is no reason for you to feel guilt about prioritizing your health – none. Take those first steps and thank yourself later.

 

You Don’t Have To Humiliate Your Kids To Get Them To Listen To You

 

Another day, another parent showing their “creative discipline” skills on social media.

This time it’s Russell Fredrick, a 34-year-old father of three and owner of A-1 Kutz Barber Shop in Georgia. When his 12-year-old son’s grades slipped, he gave his son the “Benjamin Button” special and his grades improved.

Fredrick and the other barbers are offering their services to any parents who wish to teach their kids (sons?) a lesson. In an article from the Washington Post, he offered the following explanation:

“I hope that most people won’t have to do this unless it’s an extreme circumstances and nothing else is working,” he said. “First, you talk or implement your restrictions. But when the conventional ways don’t work these days, you have to get creative.”

I know it’s hair and it will grow back (eventually). What I don’t like is punishment that, on the surface, looks creative and attention-grabbing, but underneath, accomplishes little to change that ACTUAL behavior of the child.

If your kids are getting failing grades, work with them after school, before school, talk to the teachers, make them read, read, read!

If your kids won’t do chores, don’t make that ish optional. Either chores get done or they miss out on the privileges of being in a well-functioning household, i.e. eat your spaghetti off a napkin, with your fingers, since you don’t want to wash dishes.

If your kids keep talking back, tell them they aren’t allowed to “speak” to you anymore and instead have to write their responses to you, down on paper. Cut their allowance, take away their electronics.

So many parents are scared of failing. That’s what this comes down to. Parents love their children and they don’t want them to end up high school drop-outs, unemployed, lazy bums on the street. They want their children to grow and prosper and become incredible adults who have something positive to contribute to society.

I get that. I truly do.

But humiliation (because that’s what giving kids an “old man” haircut is) is not effective discipline. Discipline is literally about being an educator, a teacher, a partner on their journey. As my BFF-in-my-head Denene Millner often says, “You’re the adult. You’re smarter than your kids. You can figure this out.

We all want what’s best for our kids. Let’s do better.

Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself – My Vision For Women

I’ve been blogging in this space forever now (May marks SEVEN years) and from time to time I have to ask myself what I hope to accomplish here. Above all else, this space is where I became a full-fledged woman. These archives are testament to my growth and accomplishments, in spite of the obstacles and pain life threw at me.

But beyond this blog as a personal document, I want it to mean something for all of you as well. I’ve gone through cycles where I feel like the blog isn’t doing enough, isn’t publishing enough, isn’t producing enough to really make a difference. But my inbox and the comments section and our Facebook community and Twitter followers all tell me differently.

I don’t have it all together, but I know that I’m comfortable saying that out loud.

What I want to do here is to help other women grow. Society is rigged against us at times. And it started when we were young and we were always taught to cross your legs, don’t take up space, keep your nose in the books. And it continues into adulthood and so many of us find ourselves clueless about who we are, what makes us happy and how to open our mouths to get there.

I’m learning how to get there. And I hope I can help you get there too. My goal with this site is to help women tap into their power and become full versions of themselves. Here, there is limitless potential and heightened support as the YML Community helps you reach your goals.

Here we’ll talk about sex, about love, about being a great mom. We’ll share how we manage stress, how we look fly on a budget, and how we make sure we always carve out time for ourselves. We’ll discuss our fears, share our triumphs and remind ourselves that we are built to live full lives.

Let this space be YOUR space, be your place to breathe and feel safe and grow and get to happy. I’m so happy you’re here.

Six Non-Negotiables For Self-Care #HappyYouHappyMe

1) Getting Enough Sleep

I put this at the top because it’s almost criminal how many of us don’t get our recommended amount of sleep. I was floored when I first had kids about how much they slept. My son in particular would sleep about 20 hours a day when he was a baby. He’d eat, smile that satisfied #breastmilkwasted, and then go right back to sleep. My pediatrician hammered home the point that kids need a lot of sleep because they’re growing so rapidly.

But I think we need to extend that logic to ourselves as well. As women, we handle so much. There is a lot on our shoulders at any given time. But when we’re busy and working all hours of the day and night, when does our body get a chance to relax? It’s no wonder we never feel rejuvenated. We’re still working!

Non-negotiable: Getting at least six hours of sleep a night. For many women, six hours is laughable. If you got more sleep, who would pack the lunches, send the late-night emails, etc.? But what we’re not understanding is that sleep is crucial to how we process information, react to situations and more. A well-rested woman is more likely to move through her day with (relative) ease. Let’s set a bedtime and stick to it.

2) Getting Plenty of Vitamins From the Food You Eat

I’m trying to do better with this. Eating healthy foods can be difficult depending on your budget and neighborhood. (It’s one of the reasons I love Aldi’s supermarket so much.) But striving for a better diet can not only have an impact on your physical health, but also your mental health. You ever notice how after you eat a (utterly delicious) cheeseburger and fries, you feel a little sluggish? A little tired? Now, I’m not suggesting that you quit eating meat (quite the opposite – meat is delicious LOL).

But I am suggesting that you pay more attention into how you fuel your body. And yes, food is fuel. Put crap in and you get crap out.

Non-negotiable: At least once a day, aim for a colorful plate. Lots of fruits and veggies are good for your skin, your heart, your everything-else. Take the time to nourish your body.

3) Having At Least 30 Minutes A Day To Unwind

How many times have you worked a full day and then just collapsed into bed? That was my daily routine for years. But it wasn’t working. It was me squeezing every last bit out of my day. But I don’t want to get to “0” every day. I don’t want to end the day on an empty tank.

Non-negotiable: It’s hard, yes, to carve out time for yourself, but it’s crucial. Spend time (EVERY DAY) on something for you. Read a book, catch up on your favorite show, do some yoga – whatever. But make sure you give to yourself (again, EVERY DAY) for a happier you.

4) Spending Time With Friends

Who doesn’t enjoy time with their friends? It’s the whole reason y’all click. Spending time with those you hold dear in your heart allows you to grow deeper in love with yourself. Yup, it’s true. After you kick it with your friends, you feel a bit more confident, a bit more in touch with the things that make you you.

Non-negotiable: Do something monthly with your friends, even if it’s just a Skype chat or they come over to your house for drinks.

5) Getting Weekly Exercise

It’s easy to be lazy. I know it. You know it. But getting in some type of exercise weekly — whether it’s walking or running around the block, taking a class at the YMCA or doing some exercise at home — is important to your physical and mental health. I went to the gym last week and I noticed that my 30 minute workout is 30 minutes of pure me-time. I’m not thinking about how much money is in my account, how my business is doing, or any other stress that’s in my life. I’m concentrating on my music (the Timbaland Pandora station is LIFE) and my breathing.

Non-negotiable: Bust a sweat at least once a week. Let it be doing what YOU want to do. Don’t feel pressure to join a gym if you don’t have the money or you hate exercise equipment. If all you do is throw on some Beyonce and twerk on the floor, that’s perfect.

6) Comfort In Expressing Fears, Desires, Goals

If you think about some of the  messages women receive in life — to be pretty, not too loud, don’t take up too much space — it’s no wonder so many of us are walking around stifling our voices. We need to get comfortable being direct and asking for what we want. End a relationship that’s not working for you. Be direct when asking for help. Be bold when mapping out a life for yourself.

Non-negotiable: Be true to yourself. In all things.

What makes your list of non-negotiable list for self-care?

 

Bonefish Grill Review: New Menu Warms Up Your Winter Taste Buds

Disclosure: I was given a $50 gift card to review a dinner at Bonefish Grill. All opinions are my own.

One of the New Year’s Resolutions my husband and I made as a couple was that we needed to be more intentional about our relationship. Spending time together (sans kids!) needed to be more of a priority. Too often we get busy with our individual lives that we’re not cultivating a joint life. That needed to change.

And as most New Year’s Resolutions go, we’re off to a great start. For our first date night of 2015, we went to Bonefish Grill to try its new Winter Tales menu. Bonefish Grill is one of my favorite restaurants and where we tend to go when we want something that feels a little more “grown up” but not too expensive for our budget. (See my previous review of the Bonefish Grill menu here.)

Another one of my New Year’s Resolutions to stop being a greedy monster when we go out to eat, so I decided to get a cup of the lobster bisque and try the new lobster stuffed shrimp (served as an appetizer portion, which wasn’t labeled as such on the menu). Both were delicious.

Bonefish Grill review

My husband always manages to get the dish that I thought about trying but changed my mind at the last minute and now it’s at the table and it looks good and I try to eat half of his. This time he ordered the crab crusted orange roughy with mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Bonefish Grill review

“How is it?” I asked, mouth full of bisque because I’m still greedy no matter what I order.

“It’s good,” he said matter of factly. Y’all don’t know him like I do, but that’s high praise. Most food is “alright” or “okay.” Only a few dishes are ever described as “good.”

What I love so much about Bonefish Grill is how fresh everything tastes. This was our third visit and I’m always impressed by the food. It’s a guaranteed great date night.

The Winter Tales menu is available through the end of the month, so find a Bonefish Grill near you to check it out. I highly recommend it. Tell them Tara sent you. (Well, actually, don’t. They don’t know me. LOL)

Find a nearby Bonefish Grill here.

 

So Now I Have A Therapist…

I decided that I needed to do something about the fact that, as I would try to explain to my husband, that my brain feels “broken.” I can’t focus, and it’s getting harder for me to manage my day-to-day anxiety and depression.

These are facts.

So I did what I’ve been scared to do for four years: pick up the phone and make an appointment with a therapist, someone who can help me make sense of my life and work with me so I can develop coping skills and solutions to the issues that plague me.

For so long, I questioned whether I even needed to go to therapy. Wasn’t I happy? I have what most people would consider a great life. But I had to admit to myself that I need space to do some soul work. To come to terms with “stuff” from my past that has been weighing me down and preventing me from living the life I truly desire as a confident young woman and mother.

This space, of admitting to yourself that everything is not okay, is scary. It’s easy for me to second-guess myself and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of calling and canceling the appointment just out of fear.

But I want to be free. I want to reach my full potential and I know I can’t do that if I’m still shackled with fear, anger, depression and regret. It is my hope that allowing myself space to be vulnerable, to share what’s really going on, will allow me to flourish.

I considered keeping this to myself because hey, what if it doesn’t work and I end up crazier than ever? LOL. But I know from my last post on depression that many of you are in my shoes. You’ve been plastering a smile on your face and swallowing your pain and living life with “stuff’ bottled up inside you.

So I wrote this to let you know that it’s okay to be scared, it’s okay to want to speak to a professional, it’s okay to admit that your issues are overwhelming you. It’s also okay to proactively take steps to ensure you are emotionally healthy. You are worth the investment.

 

 

[A New Me] What Do I Want My Life To Look Like?

 

2015 marks the end of my twenties and man, what a decade.

I fell in love, got two degrees, birthed two beautiful children, released a book, became self-employed, and bought a house. What a journey.

But I’m noticing a trend in my life over the past ten years. For so long, it always felt like life was happening to me. I was always reacting to things, or recovering from things, but I wasn’t truly living.

I want this year to be different, to be the first year in my adult life where I set personal goals (not professional ones, because I’m already really good at doing that). I want to sit down and think about what makes me happy, what new activities can I try, what new places can I visit, what new experiences can I give my kids?

This is all so new. So often I put off my needs because I thought that’s what responsible parents did. “I’ll only be 40 when my youngest turns 18,” I’d say to myself. “Plenty of time to devote to myself then.”

But 40 is not guaranteed. Life is not promised and there’s no way of knowing that my sacrifice (putting myself last for the sake of my children) will pay off in the next 12 years. Plus, I want to set a great example for my children – this is how you design a well-lived life. How can I do that if I’m waiting until they leave the house to really live?

I also have to accept the fact that yes, living a fuller, more intentional life can be expensive. But that’s what paychecks (and budgeting) are for, so I can do the things that bring me joy in a way that makes sense for me and my family. I want my life to have more meaning outside of what I do for work, but I’m realizing that it doesn’t just happen. You have to actively pursue it.

We weren’t meant for blah. But too often blah is what we settle for.

This year, I’m not doing resolutions or a checklist I want to have finished by 2016. Instead, my word for the year is “pleasure.” What makes me feel good? I feel good when I travel, I feel good when I create, I feel good when there’s delicious food on my plate. I feel good when I’m serving others, when I’m teaching my children something new, when I’m cuddling with my husband after a long day. These are the experiences I’m seeking this year—in abundance.

What are some of your goals for 2015? Does this year feel different to you?