This Publicist Shares How Mothering Her Son Has Helped Her Mother Herself
In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
There has been a lot of talk lately in our women circles about learning how to not overextend ourselves. The narrative of being "Black Superwoman'' has been ingrained in us for as long as we can remember. But I have to admit, WE ARE POPPIN' out here. Black women have been killing the game with being the most educated demographic, breaking the glass ceiling in corporate america, dominating body positivity in media/entertainment, running our own businesses, leading organizations to social justice change, and being amazing mothers to beautiful children. I mean the list goes on and on. While we have been proving for generations the resilience black women have, we still have to recognize when it is time to focus on ourselves instead of the world.
DeVynne Starks, 26, is a full-time Biomedical Targeted Marketing Program Manager for one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations and runs her own boutique PR agency, Cultiv8 PR. DeVynne understands what it feels like to work hard towards her career, while also being a full-time mom to her son. When DeVynne became a mother, she noticed that women, especially black women, experienced 'Mommy Burnout' but very few people were having the conversation. DeVynne has been very intentional and passionate about helping other moms recognize the signs of 'Mommy Burnout' and how to master balance. DeVynne believes "it's time that moms learn to take time for themselves without feeling guilty."
Courtesy of DeVynne Starks
In 2018, DeVynne Starks launched a digital platform called DeVynne Intervention. This blog was a way to build community with other moms where they discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of motherhood. "As a black woman, you feel pushed or obligated to be successful and leave your mark in this world. Whether that means you are looking to be the first at something or the best at something. But when you are a mother, you have to figure out how to not become so distant from your child that the child ends up feeling like they are not a priority."
For this installment of "Finding Balance", xoNecole had the chance to speak with entrepreneur DeVynne about motherhood, prioritizing self-care, and the importance of keeping your faith.
xoNecole: At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life?
DeVynne Starks: Pressing pause has been new for me. Four years ago, after the birth of my son, if you would ask me what balance was, I would look back and ask, "What is that?" But when I realized I was doing so many things and not carving out time for myself, that was when I needed to take a moment and reassess. I have learned that balance is about happiness that comes from within. Happiness doesn't come from other people, a new job, or from becoming a mother. You have to make that conscious decision to find that inner peace to get to the stage of feeling balanced.
What are your mornings like?
With my mornings, I start with prayer and giving myself time to talk to God. Then I practice stillness, to be intentional about listening to God and hearing what He has to say. After that, I try to give myself 30 minutes of work out time. Whether that's jogging or walking around the neighborhood.
How do you wind down at night?
I love to give myself a good facial and read a good book. I also like to wind down with my son. We will watch his favorite cartoon or play with action figures. Any moment where I can dedicate one on one time with him, he really appreciates it.
"I have learned that balance is about happiness that comes from within. Happiness doesn't come from other people, a new job, or from becoming a mother. You have to make that conscious decision to find that inner peace to get to the stage of feeling balanced."
Courtesy of DeVynne Starks
When you have a busy week, what's the most hectic part of it?
The most hectic part of the day is honestly sifting through emails. It took me a really long time to not allow my inbox to negatively affect my day. I have been learning to just say "no". Saying "no" is definitely a skill you learn over time as a business owner. With practice, it gets easier and easier.
Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you?
Giving my mind and eyes a break has really been helping me. There are days when I am on the grind! So stepping away from my computer and doing something peaceful is big for me. Daily facials are definitely my me-time.
What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care?
Even though it may seem like being busy is the right thing to do, it can really physically drain you and stress your body out. To start off, what has helped me is incorporating micro self-care techniques. One technique I use is journaling. I used to write a lot before having my son, so now I squeeze in time at the end of day to self-reflect and write it all down. This is my way to take care of myself while still being busy. I also suggest making time to just be by yourself with no shame or interruption. I had to learn how to utilize the village around me.
When I first became a mom I would tell myself, I got this! But while you do have this, you still deserve to book a hotel for the weekend, even if you stay in the room the whole time (laughs).
Courtesy of DeVynne Starks
How do you find balance with:
With my friends, we check in on each other every week. A lot of my friends are entrepreneurs and business owners. So it can get tricky to talk to each other often. But having that line of open communication has helped us keep that balance in staying connected.
So what I have noticed is that, the areas that you give intentional energy to, those are the areas that thrive. Granted, finding balance in dating can be difficult, but it's about being available to be intimate with someone and share quality time with them. This has helped me personally to separate from being a parent to a woman who is currently dating. Finding balance within relationships also means knowing who you are outside of them.
I have been thinking about different ways on how I can be more healthy. Last year, I was able to lose 50 pounds in less than five months. What I do now are daily tea detoxes in conjunction with the keto diet. I have been feeling so much better and I have way more energy. Setting my healthcare goals and sticking to them has really set me up for success across the board.
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
I really pay attention to my thoughts. I honestly believe that the way you think about yourself and the world around you, creates your own reality. So changing your thoughts to what you want in life allows you to connect to your intuition. So when I do have those moments of negativity, I remind myself that these are temporary feelings. I am aware that I have to make that shift to be more positive in order to change things around me.
"I honestly believe that the way you think about yourself and the world around you, creates your own reality. When I do have those moments of negativity, I remind myself that these are temporary feelings. I am aware that I have to make that shift to be more positive in order to change things around me."
And honestly, what does success and happiness mean to you?
Success means that you understand that you are going to fail at some part in your journey. But you are resilient enough that those failures are minor and they don't become huge obstacles for you. Before I became a mother, success to me meant just getting through the day. But now success for me is striving to be the best version of myself in order to be a better mother for my son. As far as happiness, I would say, I am still navigating that.
Every day I am learning what truly makes me happy and I try to be grateful for all the good things that are happening in my life.
To learn more about DeVynne, follow her on Instagram here. Read more about how career women find balance in xoNecole's "Finding Balance" series here.
'K' is a multi-hyphenated free spirit from Chicago. She is a lover of stories and the people who tell them. As a writer, 9-5er, and Safe Space Curator, she values creating the life she wants and enjoying the journey along the way. You can follow her on Instagram @theletter__k_.
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15 Hot Tips Giving The Missionary Position The Upgrade You Crave
Ah, yes, the missionary position. If there’s one sex position that pretty much everyone off top knows what it consists of, the missionary would have to be it. So, where does the name exactly come from? Oddly enough, even though it’s probably the most common sex position there is, there’s conflicting information about how its name actually came to be.
Some say that the Catholic church deemed it to be the only “non-sinful” position, and folks followed suit. Others believe that it’s tied into “patriarchy” since a man being on top puts a woman into a submissive receiving position (I mean, the Bible does tell wives to submit to their husbands, and sex is referenced for married couples, so that tracks — Ephesians 5, Colossians 3:18, I Peter 3:1-7, Genesis 2:24-25, I Corinthians 6:16-20). There are even stories about missionaries teaching people of African, Native American, and Chinese ethnicities that any other position is wrong and so those people came up with the term “missionary position” to make fun of the missionaries (chile).
Whatever the actual backstory is, what we know for sure is the missionary position continues to be super popular (although leave it to millennials to knock it out of first position and replace it with doggystyle these days), a great way to cultivate emotional intimacy (more on that in just a sec) — and it is oftentimes perceived as hella boring.
That last point is what I’m gonna address today. Because since it is indeed a great way to connect with your partner, it makes it easier to hit “your spot” (the G-spot, to be exact), and it’s also easy on your body (you know, if the desire is there but your limbs are not exactly cooperating), in my eyes, the missionary position needs to receive the proper respect that it deserves — and the best way to do that is to give it a few, perhaps much-needed, “upgrades.” Here are 15 of ‘em.
1. Do Some Eye Gazing Before Anything Else
Recently, I was talking to a male friend of mine who told me that he doesn’t do casual sex in the missionary position. After asking him how he is subtly able to even pull that off (another article, another time), I then wanted to know the method behind his madness: “It’s too intimate and vulnerable. I need to be in something serious with you to be that…into you.”
One might say that literally putting your member into a woman’s vagina is “into her,” yet I digress. Instead, I’ll just focus on the fact that when they say that eyes are the windows to the soul, there is definitely some truth to that. And when it comes to cultivating intimacy with your partner, there is a practice known as eye gazing that can help to connect the two of you in a very special way.
In fact, there are studies to support that you can analyze how someone feels about you by looking into their eyes, you can increase your level of attraction to them by looking into their eyes, and you and your partner can go up a new level in trust if you look into each other’s eyes as well.
How long should the eye gazing last? Some experts say that the goal should be for five minutes while taking deep breaths in between. While doing that might feel awkward at first, look at it this way — y’all are gonna be face to face for a while anyway, right? Why not take the exchange of energy to another level while you’re doing it? And why not get into this mind of headspace by eye gazing as a form of emotional foreplay?
2. Bring Some Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang or Lavender and Vanilla
One of the best things about the missionary position is it encourages you to shut out the rest of the world, ignore any distractions and really focus on your partner. Matter of fact, a sex therapist once told me that one of the perks of this particular position is it significantly decreases your chances of you and/or your partner fantasizing about other people during coitus (hey, it happens…way more than people care to admit too).
Something that can help to keep you and your partner centered on one another only is the scent of jasmine, ylang-ylang, and a combo of lavender and vanilla. As a bonus, all are also sensual, calming, and relaxing too. You can add a few drops to a carrier oil (like sweet almond or grapeseed) and create a DIY massage oil. You can sprinkle some of them onto your bedding. You can also add a few drops into your sexual pressure points for a nice surprise as far as your partner’s sense of smell goes.
3. Pull in (More) Pillows
For some reason, I can’t find it now (sorry!), but a few weeks ago, I was cracking up at a video of a guy who was challenging his girlfriend to get into the position of being on top like a man and pushing for more than a minute straight. She failed miserably (it really was hilarious!). After I sent it to a few male friends, one wrote back and said, “Y’all have no idea what being on top can do to a brotha’s back sometimes.”
A workaround that will make everyone happy? Bring in some more pillows. It will elevate your body so that he won’t have to bend over quite so low. Plus, it will help him to penetrate you more deeply, which is almost always a good thing.
You can use the pillows that you already have (they should work just fine). Or you can invest in a sex pillow. They tend to be a bit firmer so that you don’t have to be slippin’ and slidin’ all over the place. Glamour did you a solid by providing a list of some of their favorite sex pillows here; Self did the same by providing their best-of-the-best list here.
4. Light Some Candles
Back to the eye thing real quick. Yeah, I don’t know how y’all are gonna be able to stare deeply into each other’s eyes if it’s pitch black in the room. And here’s the thing about letting some light shine in; there was a study conducted that said when a light box (like the kind that’s used to treat depression) is brought into a man’s space, it can increase his levels of sexual desire. The reason why is it has a way of boosting his testosterone levels.
However, if you don’t want to feel like you’re standing — well, lying — in a room that has the ridiculous lighting that is in department store dressing rooms, go with candlelight instead. A soft glow can still help him to see your shapes and curves and the two of you to look at each other yet because everything with candles is way more subtle, it can help you to feel less self-conscious if you’re not as confident in the sex department as you would like to be (check out “10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem”).
5. Add Some Flavored Lube
Although pretty much all of us have heard the saying, “The wetter, the better,” at this point, this tip is a shout-out to the safe sex crowd (since reportedly, only one-third of men and one-quarter of women actually use condoms. SMDH). If you want to make bringing rubbers into a mix a much more pleasurable experience, go with some flavored lubricant. Although you might only think of its use in the context of oral sex (more on that in a bit), dabbing some on your neck (so that he can taste something sweet-er when he kisses you there) or on your wrists or forearm (so that he can lick them while your hands are pinned back) can be a truly welcome surprise.
And what are some of the best-tasting ones on the market these days? No worries. I got you:
6. Modify the Position…a Bit
As we continue, I will be — no pun intended — deep diving into some tweaks that can be made to the standard missionary position in order to intensify sexual pleasure. For now, I’ll just say that spooning face to face, allowing your partner to pin your legs back, having sex while standing up, letting him ride cowboy (which means he’s literally in the position that you are typically in during the cowgirl) and your partner lying horizontally over your body instead of vertically — these all are twists to the missionary that could cause you to hear “missionary position” with new levels of excitement.
7. Apply the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT)
Speaking of modifying positions, what do y’all know about the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT)? If you’re staring at your screen like, “What in the world is that?” it’s when your partner gets into the downward-facing dog yoga position while you’re on your back in the missionary one. This causes your partner’s penis to stimulate your clitoris as they are entering you and sometimes as they are going in and out. The (main) benefit is if you’re someone who finds experiencing a vaginal orgasm challenging, you significantly increase your chances of experiencing one since your clitoris will be stimulated during the act of intercourse.
Another bonus is “doing the CAT” can help a man to last longer if premature ejaculation is something that he is prone to experiencing.
8. Get Out of the Bed/Bedroom
The older we get, the more bedroom sex makes sense. After all, beds were specifically designed to support our bodies. Still, if you’ve been in a long-term relationship for quite some time, just like approaching the missionary position the same way every time can get old, so can always being in your bed — or bedroom.
You’re paying good money to utilize more than just one room in your home, so why not maximize each one’s potential? And as far as the best room in the house to get busy, I recently read an article that said bathrooms and balconies are fan favorites, followed by closets and utility rooms. Personally, I’m with what a Men’s Health article stated, which is the living room is probably the most comfortable (and common) — yet whatever you do, just try and think outside of the box sometimes. In this case, think outside of your bed and bedroom to see what other places are comfortable for you both.
9. Or…Get on the Edge of the Bed
So, what if you're like, "I hear you, but it's gonna be the bed for me, more times than not?" I hear you. There's a way to upgrade the missionary position and how you use your bed at the same time — have him pull you to the edge of the bed and either penetrate you by lifting your legs over his shoulders, or the two of you can just have "regular sex" that way (so long as he's good at maintaining his balance and keeping you from falling off at the same time).
The perks? For one, if his penis is more on the average side (check out "Sex Hacks For Different Kinds Of Penises (You Heard Me Right)"), he will be able to penetrate you more deeply. Another benefit is if you like to bring vibrators into the mix, it will be easier to do (especially if your legs are up). Another is this is one way to get your clitoris, vagina, and cervix all stimulated all at the same time — in fact, this is why another name for the edge of the bed is "the edge of heaven" (makes sense).
10. Keep Your Bra on — Kinda
As a doula, whenever new moms talk to me about easing back into sex, it's very common for them to talk about how "conflicted" they are when it comes to their breasts, especially if they are breastfeeding. It makes complete and total sense when you think about the fact that first, our breasts are ours alone, then men come in and use them as foreplay, and then here comes a baby who uses them as a food source. A top suggestion that I give is that moms invest in some super sexy nursing bras. That way, if they want to still keep their breasts covered up, there is something pretty for their partner to look at.
Along these same lines (kinda sorta), consider keeping your own bra on during missionary — well, kind of. Either get one that is extremely sheer or pull your breasts out so that they are hanging out over the front of your bra. Why? Well, a lot of men have told me over the years that while nothing really tops a woman in her birthday suit, the peek-a-boo effect of breasts over bras and crotchless panties turns them on in a way that they can't fully articulate. Plus, if you're a bit insecure, this can help you out like it can a new mom (believe it or not), especially if you're going to bring some lighting in (like I suggested earlier).
11. Enjoy His Nipples
Speaking of breasts…although not everyone finds their nipples to be the ultimate erogenous zone (check out “So, What If ‘Typical Erogenous Zones’ Annoy TF Outta You?”), don’t automatically assume that your partner is one of them. The reality is men have the same glands and nerve endings that we do when it comes to their nipples which means a lot of them find their nipples getting some TLC to be super erotic and enjoyable.
A husband client of mine once told me in a session that he wished that his wife would lick on his nipples more, especially during intercourse, because it takes his orgasms to a completely different level. When his wife heard that, she asked, since she’s not a contortionist, how could she possibly pull that off in a comfortable way? This actually brings us to the next point.
12. Try Some Kama Sutra Piercing
On the heels of what I just said, what do you know about the Kama Sutra approach known as piercing? It’s kind of similar to CAT, only with a twist. This time, a man should position his shoulders to where they are directly over your head — that way, as he is moving in and out, you can get direct clitoral stimulation.
How is this any different from the CAT? Well, with that position, his arch is backed farther away from you. Plus, it tends to feel the most amazing upon entry only. On the other hand, piercing makes it possible for you to do the whole nipple thing that we just talked about while he’s able to stimulate your clitoris more intentionally the entire time. A win/win for everyone, wouldn’t you say?
13. Engage in (Some or More) Edging
Another way to almost guarantee that your orgasms will be next level is to engage in a bit of edging. If you're familiar with the word, yet you've never exactly researched and/or tried it before — let's just say that it's the kind of act that requires some stamina (on his part) and some self-discipline (for you both). The reason why I say that is because edging is all about having intercourse, your partner stopping for 15-30 seconds, and then you both starting back up all over again.
And why would someone want to send themselves through this mind of, in a way, mind f-ck? It builds anticipation and excitement, which can actually make your orgasms super intense. Hell, it could even lead to multiple orgasms if y'all play your cards right. Anyway, you can learn more about edging by reading "All About Edging: The Ways Prolonging Pleasure Makes For Mind-Blowing Orgasms" on our platform.
14. Stop. And Switch.
As I was in the process of penning this piece, I asked a few people to share why they felt that some people take a ho-hum attitude about the missionary position. The general consensus was if that’s all you do the entire time, things can get old really quick.
Good point. That’s why it’s also a good idea to keep in mind that, just because you start off in missionary, no rule says that you have to stay there (unless you happen to live in Florida because, apparently, only the missionary is legal there; Florida stays wilin’ out). No rule says that once you start having sex that you can’t do some other, eh hem, activities in between positions too.
My vote? Be down to get into some oral, especially if you want to increase your chances of having an orgasm. A “good giver” is gonna get off so much on pleasuring you that you probably won’t have to worry about him needing to maintain an erection even if he spends a few moments downtown (cue SWV’s song). Oral sex intermissions are so unsung. Whew, chile.
15. Moan ‘N Whisper
The last and final point. "Dirty talk" is always gonna be a winner when it comes to sex, period; however, when you're in the missionary position, it's really amazin' considering you're both right next to each other's ears.
And what if dirty talk isn't something that you've exactly mastered (yet)? The key is to not overthink it. Moan. Whisper the things that you like being done to you (or that you want him to try). Ask him what he likes (or wants more of). When he's got it right, praise him. If he's got a pet name, use it. If you want to go with his government name, he probably won't mind that either.
The main point here is to remember that great sex incorporates all of the senses — touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. And since words are our most effective form of communication, you can't go wrong with using some in the bedroom…especially when you're giving it all that you've got in the missionary position…especially as you're adding in some of these upgrades that I just shared.
Enjoy, sis. EN-freakin’-JOY!
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