Would you leave a six-figure paying gig with a minimal plan and only one company you've ever worked for spanning almost two decades on your resume because you were unhappy? Well, Joyel Crawford, owner of Crawford Leadership Strategies, did just that.
After 18 years with Verizon in various management roles and a checkered bill of health from being overworked, Joyel took her transferable skills in management and turned them into a business in life and career coaching. She now warns her clients, both individual and corporate, against making the same mistakes she did and witnessed working in corporate America. I spoke with the Elon University alumna about how a woman with a Bachelor's in Psychology and a Theater minor with secret dreams of Broadway ended up in a career she felt stifled her for so long before stepping into her true destiny.
Joyel Crawford, Owner of Crawford Leadership Strategies
Through our chat, I discovered that the saying "Money and success doesn't buy happiness" was all too real in her case.
You took a job unrelated to your studies, why?
Most women in my family are [in] social services and mental health so that was a natural and safe concentration. My passion was always the creative arts, hence my theater minor – but my parents weren't supportive of that as a focus. My cousin had recently gotten a job at Bell Atlantic Mobile (now Verizon) in customer service. I wanted to get my MBA and knew the company did 100% tuition reimbursement. During my new hire orientation, they presented on their commitment to professional advancement and that's when my love of leadership clicked in. Throughout my academic career, I was very active in leadership roles and was impressed by their commitment to employee development. My main focus when I first started working at Verizon was not the actual job but obtaining my MBA.
How did you climb the corporate ladder?
Networking. Even as a customer service rep, I spoke to colleagues and managers about my goals. They liked my work ethic and personality and encouraged me to go through the ranks within the company. Within five years, I got my MBA in management. I was promoted to a national accounts manager, to a coach for new hires, to finally an HR admin. From there, I settled into being a leadership development training consultant.
When did you notice you were unhappy?
Looking back, I was never happy because I wasn't doing exactly what I loved. I overcompensated by getting promotions. My knack for leadership allowed me to co-create a new leader orientation program, which was something that came out of frustration of having employees complete eight hours of online training. We consolidated it into just two hours and through that, I certified over 100 employees through that program. At one point, I was responsible for leading development and training for 30,000 employees. But I was coming to a ceiling there.
"Looking back, I was never happy because I wasn't doing exactly what I loved. I overcompensated by getting promotions."
Did you develop an action plan?
No, I just knew that my time was coming to an end there. I was exploring different options but nothing planned out. A friend suggested that I start doing public speaking and telling my story to other professionals about how to move up the ranks within their jobs. I realized that's where my passion lied. Simultaneously, I began to get sick and later discovered it was work-related.
What was going on health-wise?
It started with insomnia. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression but thanks to my theater background and being a great actress, no one knew. At home, I was miserable and crying with no motivation outside of work. I started grinding my teeth and cracked a tooth and had to get an $800 mouth guard. I was put on antidepressants and a cocktail of different drugs – one to stabilize my moods, one to put me to sleep and so on. At one point, I was singing, acting, and auditioning while working full-time. On my way to rehearsal, I had extreme abdominal pain and discovered it to be a fibroid. I had to have surgery. The process of discovering the fibroid, scheduling, and having the operation and being back at work was done within three weeks. The surgery didn't help. More fibroids developed. The final straw was when I was five minutes late for a conference call and my manager called to give me an earful while I was sick from the fibroids. I quit on the spot and explained why. He was empathetic and instead, suggested I go out on emotional and medical leave.
How’d you get through that period?
My last salary was a base of $103,500. I also had my pension, 401k, and over two consecutive months of unused vacation. I rolled my 401k into an IRA. I knew I wanted to quit and had saved enough money to survive as far as living for rent and other expenses. A year before I quit, I was contemplating what was next. My husband was consulting and suggested I do the same. I had the skill set and the education but didn't recognize it. He did. So I started Crawford Leadership Strategies in 2014.
"A year before I quit, I was contemplating what was next."
How did you start?
I invested in professional memberships for networking purposes. Thankfully, I had credentials under my belt from all of the trainings I completed at Verizon. Although I had a good amount of savings, I didn't take into account the startup costs of a business. Building a website, membership fees, additional certifications, paperwork, and even business cards added up fast. My survival money was running out within six months. Things were getting bad financially.
How bad did it get financially?
My survival money was gone and I resorted to state assistance and food stamps. I couldn't claim unemployment because I left my job voluntarily – regardless of the fact that I could have attributed it to my health and said I left for medical reasons. I couldn't be modest anymore.
How did you work to get your business booming?
Letting go of pride first and advertising to family and friends. My first paying client was a woman who my aunt was mentoring. She worked in government and desired assistance with a new career and my aunt referred me. I came up with an hourly consulting fee. She hired me for a six-hour session. Through that experience, I figured out pricing and packages because she needed me to travel to her in another state and paid for my accommodations. I ended up working with her for six months and she actually became a test client for a practicum I was doing for a certification. That snowballed into other business.
How do you feel you’ve been able to sustain your business?
The great thing about my work is that I can do it virtually so I'm not limited in the clients I can take. Because of my certifications, education, and background, I can do webinars, life coaching, and career coaching. I can build curriculum and I can facilitate programs. I have a variety of what I offer.
You gave up a six-figure salary. Do you see the return on your investment?
Yes, but I made poor investments in advertising in the beginning that cost me. Now I stick to social media and utilize my network of colleagues and clients for work. My certifications help and I'm a member of the Forbes Coaching Council. I've had a small feature in Essence Magazine and I write and coach for The Muse.
Was it worth the risk?
Absolutely. My father passed this year and one of the last things he said to me was, "If you have the chance to do what you love, then do it." I was in a career that was taxing but had skills that I loved and was able to apply them to what I do now full-time. Revenue has gone up yearly. My health is in tact and although like many, I work to find balance, I am happy!
"If you have the chance to do what you love, then do it."
How is life different now?
Before, I never went on vacation and as mentioned, cashed my vacation time out when I quit my job. Since then I've gotten married to the man of my dreams, I've been traveling, and I make time for the things I love.
What advice do you give to those looking to transition?
Put yourself out there and network. It's about who you know, that's how I've landed all of my clients dating back to my first. Stay the course and have patience. I contemplated quitting because of the financial stress but my clients encouraged me and I ultimately decided to continue my business because I refused to regress into what I'd experienced before. Know and show your value and know your WHY as it won't lead you wrong.
For more information about Joyel and her coaching business, check out her website.
Brenda Alexander is a West Philly native with a love of the 3 W's: writing, wine and Whitney Houston. When she's not working or overanalyzing life, you can catch her praising Jesus with a bomb Gospel playlist or annoying those who love her as she listens to Christmas music all year round (her fascination with the holiday even produced a Christmas book). Her work has been featured on Mayvenn's Real Beautiful blog and CurlyNikki . Follow her excursions via Instagram @trulybrenda_
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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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