Message To Moms: Stop Suffering In Silence

Don’t let the shame of depression convince you that you aren’t worthy of greatness.

Depression does not discriminate — it doesn’t care if you are young or old, wealthy or poor, a suburban mom with carpool duties or a superstar playing to sold out crowds at Madison Square Garden. It is estimated that 15% of the adult population in the United States will experience depression at some point in their lifetime. That’s a lot of our friends, family & co-workers — living with depression and likely trying to conceal it with the tireless efforts equal to an old pair of overstretched Spanx.

Our current culture of filter-assisted perfection and the pressure to keep up with the Joneses has made opening up about our individual and collective challenges nearly impossible. Is this why moms are much more likely to suffer in silence — battling the stigma mental illness provokes all on their own?

With Mother’s Day coming up, I’ve been reflecting on what being a mom really means. It seems we’ve managed to convince ourselves being a good mom means we fit the mold of a fresh-faced & well-rested iteration of suburban perfection— but it’s about time we call bullshit. The truth is that the best mom’s I know are the ones that allow others to see their faults, keep moving forward and support this collective sisterhood of struggle. When we decide to get honest, we have an opportunity to share our stories of imperfection without being judged. Through sharing we can rewrite the narrative of motherhood on our own terms.

My story is not unique, nor is it thrilling, and it is very much imperfect— which is exactly why it needs to be shared. The carefully curated social media images of my perfect life are phoney-bologna.

Statistically speaking, I know most of you are lying too. Your husband isn’t perfect, you wish your kids came with an off switch, your house isn’t clean and you barely dragged yourself out of bed this morning.

The burden of facing this seemingly overwhelming shame and finally admitting that I suffer from severe depression had been gnawing at me for months. This darkness that slowly closed in on my entire reality took two years of my life — eventually challenging me to wake the eff up and embrace all of my imperfections — but not before forcing me to confront all of the lies I had been telling myself.

“You Go Girl”

When I became a mom I started doing this silly thing — every time I saw another woman out running or walking I would say “you go girl!” It was my way of sending some love out into the world and teaching my kids to acknowledge the efforts of others. Perhaps that little cheer stuck because I was always one of those girls who hid in the bushes during the running portion of soccer practice — sorry coach. To me, these running women were goddesses filled with determination and strength.

Image: MabelAmber via pixabay

I recently realized that many of those running versions of my childhood hero Xena: Warrior Princess are facing the same battles I had been struggling with. But wait— how can these superwomen who don’t just wear athletic clothing — but actually use it for it’s purpose — face the same struggle as me? The answer was simple — because they are human. The increased connectivity we have through social media has created a society afraid of being imperfect, lacking real connection and fearful they just don’t stack up to the images others share on social media. It is all bullshit, but I fell for it. I was convinced these girls on the run had super powers, giving them perfect ponytails and immunity to life’s struggles. Learning I was wrong was one more step to admitting my own truth.

Admitting this illness wasn’t reserved for my suffering alone was exactly what I needed to remove the gag-order depression was using to thrive. I slowly accepted the reality that it wasn’t only me who felt like I was losing the fight with my mind and living with the shame and burden of the façade.

Depression turned me into a selfish asshole.

In my mind, it was a disease reserved for me and no one else could possibly understand. It was easy enough to believe since the shame of admitting imperfection kept my secret hidden away. What a sneaky mother f’er. Little by little, after recognizing my struggle was not unique, the cloud began to lift. Spring was coming, I started working out and expressing myself creatively again — depression started losing its grip. There was a sense of relief and a bit of self-love, more yoga and playing with my kids and a whole lot more communication between me and my husband. Things felt like they were getting lighter.

I had allowed depression to take over my life for roughly 700 days. It gripped my mind, affected my family and my business and allowed me to live a life of apathy for almost two years. Life will never be the same as it was two years ago, my family is exhausted and forever changed from helping me fight a battle they struggled to understand and I live with the constant threat of depression lurking around the corner. Through all of this I’ve realized those “you go girl” moments mean nothing if I don’t roll down the damn window. Recognizing the efforts of others is great, but doing so while shamefully peering out our own rolled up windows is about as helpful as when our kids “clean” their rooms by shoving everything under their beds and shutting the door.

Image: FlashBuddy via pixabay

It’s about time to put an end to celebrating perfection and instead risk peeing our pants jumping up and down (thanks to my almost 10 lb first child) cheering on those women who are putting in real work to be better versions of themselves. If we were all to share in a few more “you go girl” moments we could build up our collective confidence. Can you imagine if we went from mom-shaming to mom-cheering? Perhaps if we acknowledged that we’re all just making our best effort none of us would be allowing depression to convince us that we aren’t worthy of greatness.

Yoga: Improve Your Mind, Body and Sex Life

Photo by theformfitness on Pexels.com

I stumbled upon a video from Yoga with Adrienne – a YouTuber known for her feel-good style of yoga – back in 2015. My body needed movement, my mind needed sanity and yoga seemed to be the perfect fit. I quickly began to fall in love with the sense of accomplishment, stillness and the simple joy I felt as I rolled up my mat.

I knew yoga was doing something inside of me – but I wasn’t entirely sure what or how – so I went to work learning more about my new favorite form of exercise.

This was my likely annoying “omg yoga is amazing” stage of my journey. Yoga was (and often still is) my answer for almost everything.


Have a headache? – You should do YOGA!

Cramps? – YOGA

Indigestion? – Definitely, yoga.

I was quickly realizing that yoga is more than just a fantastic way to move your body, it also provides a ton of other health benefits that I was starting to realize in my own life. Here’s just a few of the benefits I started feeling within the first month of starting a consistent practice:

1. I became more mindful and connected to each moment.

Ironically, mindfulness starts with the body – it is the art of paying attention. You are paying attention to your body fluctuations and sensations, all without judgement or the desire to change anything. By focusing on your body and your breath during yoga- all while balancing – you quiet the distractions around you and become more attuned to the present. Concentrating your gaze on a focal point during certain poses also helps to settle your thoughts further and allow for further introspection.

2. It increased my flexibility

Yoga will gradually increase your flexibility. Each pose will make you a bit more flexible, able-bodied and aware of your own abilities and limitations. Regular yoga practice improves your posture too – it’s an added bonus – especially for those of us who regularly sit on a computer.

3. It’s a great tool for stress management

One of the biggest benefits for me was the reduction of the overall stress on my mind and body. Before I started consistently practicing, I had been experiencing a lack of mental focus and stress that was presenting as physical pain. Yoga helped me to calm my mind and body – while strengthening my core – which allowed me to cultivate a physical and mental stillness. Maintaining a daily practice also helps to establish a ritual that offers a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

4. Yoga practice made for more intimacy & sex

Yoga boosted my libido – big time. A regular practice helps to tone, relax and strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor – helping to achieve stronger orgasms – yes please! Sex and yoga are both mind & body experiences – so the mindfulness practiced in yoga translates over to sex. You become present in the moment – bringing consciousness to your breath and body – and making you more aware of your physical sensations. This increased awareness of your own body also helps you to be more aware of your partners breath and body – it’s a win/win.

Photo by Samuel Silitonga on Pexels.com

The flexibility, balance, mindfulness and sensuality of yoga makes it an amazing choice for those looking to improve their mind, body or sex life. My home yoga practice has taught me to accept myself and those around me with openness and light – allowing for a more connected existence. If you’re looking for low-impact but high-reward movement – the yoga mat is certainly a great place to start!


Hi, I’m Rachel (you can call me Rae), Founder of The Pillow Talk Press. I’m a Sociologist. Writer. Sex-Positive Advocate. Master Woodworker. Artist. Yogi. Sports Mom. Cancer Survivor. Ninja Kicking Depression One Day at a Time ❤︎

Romance Novels: Female Empowerment, Talking Dirty and a Few Favorite Titles

love_storm_webSure the cover art is often terrible and some of the stories can be fairly misogynistic, but the stories and perspective romance novels provide have also helped women learn to better communicate our sexual needs and desires over the last 20 years. Long before Christian Gray was enticing young women to sign sex contracts – Fabio look-a-likes of the 80’s were teaching the generations before us how to talk dirty with confidence.

I love romance novels. I’ve loved them since my college days, when I used them to escape boring textbooks on the weekends. Now I find myself mostly listening to romance novels on Audible while doing laundry or cleaning up the house – yeah multitasking! It’s this entire genre of page-turners and they almost always end happily. Romance novels have given us examples of healthy female sexual desires and pleasure – these beautiful stories that support the narrative that it’s okay for a woman to ask and receive what she wants in the bedroom.

11-1

Romance novels perfectly fill the gap between mainstream films (Rated R & NC-17) that are required to limit the nudity and sexual content in order to remain mainstream – and where XXX (pornography) story lines fall flat. There’s this sweet spot the best romance novels hit with their visceral intimacy and carefully selected language dripping with sensuality…they make you keep coming back for more…even if that means neglecting laundry, dishes and sometimes even your children…

Here are a few of my favorite romance novels from my 2018 library:

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai: (Book #1 in the Forbidden Hearts Series) 

This book is truly a page-turning romantic drama from chapter one. I’ve seen it mentioned that this book is like Romeo and Juliet, except with a happy ending – and that is a great description! Two enemy families, tragedy, resentment, and secret love…with a lot of great chemistry and little bit of angst! The characters are honest and raw – even more so in books #2 and #3 in the series – and I found myself cheering for their happy endings. I’m a sucker for a good series – which is why this one is at the top of my list! 

Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward:

The first chapter had me hooked – a woman finds a beautiful blue note sewn into a consigned wedding gown and feels compelled to find out more about the man who’s stationary it was written on. It’s fresh and original – in a genre where that’s incredibly difficult to do. It’s romantic, drama-filled and filled with every fantasy you could imagine. I found myself wishing this was a 10 book series – I didn’t want it to end! 

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole: (Book #1 in the Reluctant Royals Series)

Think The Princess Diaries mixed with Black Panther, but all grown up, featuring a smart black lady in STEM and a quazi-Nigerian Prince scam gone-right. It has all of the makings of a great romance novel – and then some – swoon-worthy, educational, steamy sex scenes, tales of friendship and DIVERSITY. The book is full of the good stuff – even though it still features all of the clinches you’d expect from a princess romance novel – it’s also much smarter and funnier than expected!

The First Taste by Jessica Hawkins: 

A standalone title by the author of another one of my favorites “Slip of the Tongue.” The development of the characters and their relationship feels very natural – each individual coming to the table openly and with flaws – the whole story is dripping with HONESTY and VULNERABILITY- what a novel concept! It’s a beautiful and captivating true-to-life story of a second chance at love – with enough romance to give you the hot-and-bothered tingles from head to toe! 

If you have any suggestions for romance reads in 2019 – leave a comment below!


Hi, I’m Rachel (you can call me Rae), Founder of The Pillow Talk Press. I’m a Sociologist. Writer. Sex-Positive Advocate. Master Woodworker. Artist. Yogi. Sports Mom. Cancer Survivor. Ninja Kicking Depression One Day at a Time ❤︎


The Pillow Talk Press was created as a hub for intimacy, honesty and thoughtful human connection – a corner of the internet helping to reconnect us to our basic humanity. 

Self Robbery

Some may call the following words the musings of a mom on the verge of a breakdown, I disagree. These words being openly expressed after years of avoiding pain and struggle offer the tiniest sliver of hope, even in the midst of despair.


Most days I’m afraid of myself…

I’m afraid of the monster inside of me that gets off on sabotaging me from reaching my goals.

I’m afraid of the depression defiantly returning and leaving me with even fewer options than before.

I’m afraid of disappointing everyone around me.

I’m afraid of becoming an embarrassment to my family.

I’m afraid of being alone with my thoughts.

I’m afraid of pushing my boundaries only to discover I’m not capable of much more than survival.

I’m afraid to speak openly, because then people would actually know the kind of person I am.

I afraid of my children growing older because every single day brings them closer to realizing the truth about their mom being a complete failure.

I afraid my husband will replace me with someone less broken.

I’m afraid of my parents blaming themselves for the disappointment I have become.

I’m afraid of dying because my deepest thoughts would be discovered.

I’m afraid of never realizing how much these fears are holding me hostage.

I’m afraid of never learning how to save myself.

Thursday Thoughts: Entrepreneurship & The Handmade Hustle

There is nothing better than receiving awesome feedback about a new product or offering. It validates all of your hard work and the energy you’ve exhausted to bring something new into the world. For me, it’s the ultimate form of recognition for someone not only to like my product, but to spend their hard-earned money on it. But, like all things, that type of recognition comes with some scary risks…what if instead of loving your new offering they absolutely hate it? Worse yet, what if the voice in the back of your head whispering to you takes over and you never share your new idea with the world?

That destructive seemingly all-knowing voice…you know the one — it picks at you and tells you “they are all going to think you are a joke, a loser, a total failure” or some other version of “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH” or “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”

One of my favorite punch-you-in-the-gut truth-tellers is researcher and author Brene Brown. Her work on vulnerability allowed me to better understand my own hesitation with certain creative endeavors and helped me to slowly work though some of that discomfort. Through decades of research she has learned certain universal truths about creativity…

It’s scary. It’s really scary to put yourself out there. Oh, and original ideas, those are often the scariest to share.

If you listen to that voice telling you to stay within the boundaries and to keep your life small by avoiding risks…you’re robbing yourself of your full potential and denying the world access to your unique talents.

As scary as it is to open up and share new ideas, designs, projects, or blog posts with the world, you’re also opening yourself up to the opportunity to make new connections and discover new things about yourself and those around you. Running away and hiding yourself and your talents from others will just reinforce the voice telling you that you’re not good enough.

If that negative voice filled with self-doubt is currently taking up residence in your own brain and you haven’t been able to properly tell it to F*CK OFF yet, I’ve got some tips to get you started.

  • Get quiet and tune into that voice — hear it now so we can challenge it later
  • Recognize that leaning into vulnerability is a practice and it will take time and lots of effort
  • Stop worrying about what other people are thinking of you. Easier said than done, right? Truth is, what people think about you is none of your business anyways. Their opinion is shaped by their experiences, something you’ll never be able to duplicate or understand so get off the rat wheel and give it a rest!
  • When you find yourself overwhelmed, take 5. Step away. Go find your favorite go-to motivation. I have a pinterest board and a photo album on my phone filled with cheesy motivation quotes…I scroll through and soak it in for a few minutes to recharge my courage.
  • Do not take advice from those outside of the arena. Franklin Roosevelt said it best:

If you’re interested in digging deeper into vulnerability, I highly recommend researching the work and writing of Brené Brown…she’s a bad-ass and I’m so grateful for the impact her work has had on my life.

I say, f*ck the fear. Smother that $hit with courage and hustle your way to entrepreneurial success.

4 Proven Ways To Increase Intimacy

Intimacy is not just about sex, it’s a form of healthy vulnerability. It’s a willingness to build an emotional connection through opening up and getting into deeper conversations that really matter. Being vulnerable and welcoming intimacy into your life requires a ton of courage and a certain level of emotional resilience. You’re letting your guard down and that can be really scary.

For me, real intimacy was something I had been seriously lacking before meeting my husband. I always tried to be someone that my previous partners could love by watering down my opinions or changing them entirely. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I realized how wrong my approach was. His willingness to be vulnerable with me gave me permission to be exactly who I was – creating this foundation of trust and intimacy I’d never experienced before.

Real, authentic, once-in-a-lifetime relationships require this level of intimacy – it is the glue that holds a couple together and allows them to share experiences and build something greater than their individual parts. Creating it isn’t a one-and-done scenario. It’s a process of discovery with each other – a curiosity about how and why your partner makes their decisions.

If you’re willing to commit to being vulnerable and cultivating intimacy in your relationship – here are a few of the things we’ve continued to do to keep our intimacy alive and well: 

1 -Full-Disclosure: I’m talking about sharing the things you’ve never told anyone else. For example, my husband never understood why I refused to leave the house without a full face of makeup – he thought I was beautiful without it and it drove him insane whenever it came up. One night I opened up and told him about a time in 6th grade when a 7th grade boy turned to me in the lunch line and told me my “eyes made me look retarded.” That was the last day I left my house without eye makeup on. Once I shared my “why” his frustration turned into understanding and empathy.

notes.jpg2 – Daily Connects: A more recent addition to our intimacy toolkit is our morning meeting. Every single morning we sit down together and I write “good”, “will improve” and “today’s goals” in my journal. We review yesterday together and talk through the outcomes of whatever decisions we had made together. We also talk about our individual challenges and help each other stay accountable to our goals.  This has been the single thing that has made the biggest impact on our productivity together.

img_2423-1
Vegas for a weekend away in 2018

3 – Be Mindful of your Habits and Patterns: Over time every relationship becomes somewhat predictable. You feel comfortable with your partner always being there for you and vice versa. This comfort can be a beautiful thing – but if those routines become too rigid they can lack emotion and real connection. Worse, if they take a negative turn they can create anger and resentment. One way to enjoy the comfort, while making sure your relationship is still fully connected – is to plan occasional interruptions to your pattern. Our method – girls nights, guys weekends and time away.  We interrupt our routine by spending time with friends outside of the house – create a little disruption to allow for flexibility and growth.

4 – Practice Gratitude: Everyone wants to feel appreciated and expressing your gratitude for each other makes you more likely to hold space for understanding and empathy. You begin to look for ways to appreciate your partner – rather than ways in which they inconvenience you or drive you crazy. Feeling gratitude is great, but expressing it and sharing your feelings with your partner will create good vibes all around. We’ve made this part of our daily connect routine by thanking each other for their part in the previous day’s accomplishments.

 

…since we plan on sticking with this whole marriage thing – what other tips do you have for keeping the flame burning in your relationship? I’d love to add them to our intimacy building arsenal! 

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard