You and I aren’t likely to experience what it’s like to raise children in an actual village, like many mothers who have come before us. But that’s okay.
Dear Sounds True friends,
I believe self-love is a superpower.
When we treat ourselves with kindness, it turns on the learning centers of the brain and gives us the resources to face challenges and learn from our mistakes. Transformation requires a compassionate mindset, not shame.
And yet, people often worry that self-love will make them lazy, self-indulgent, or self-absorbed. Science shows just the opposite: people with greater self-love are more compassionate toward others, more successful and productive, and more resilient to stress.
The best news of all: self-love can be learned. We can rewire the structure of our brain and strengthen the neural circuitry of love toward ourselves and others. Each time we practice self-love, we grow this pathway.
My new children’s book, Good Morning, I Love You, Violet!, offers a road map for strengthening your child’s brain circuitry of deep calm, contentment, and self-love.
It is built on principles of psychology and neuroscience and offers a simple yet powerful practice.
As a mother, when asked what I believe is the most important thing we can teach our children, I always answer “self-love.” Learning to be on our own team and to treat ourselves with kindness is life-changing. There is no greater gift we can give our children. There is no greater gift we can give ourselves.
May this book plant seeds of kindness that ripple out into the world.
Shauna Shapiro is a mother, bestselling author, professor, clinical psychologist, and internationally recognized expert in mindfulness and self-compassion. She lives in Mill Valley, California. Learn more at drshaunashapiro.com.
You’re kinky but your partner is vanilla. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Perhaps you’ve always known; perhaps you just found out. So how do you talk about it? And what happens next?
In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with “edge expert,” certified sex therapist, and master social worker Dr. Stefani Goerlich about her new book, With Sprinkles on Top: Everything Vanilla People and Their Kinky Partners Need to Know to Communicate, Explore, and Connect. Give a listen to this much-needed discussion about destigmatizing kink and expanding our definition of a healthy relationship, as Tami and Stefani discuss: reassessing our sexual attitudes; how kinky became taboo; bringing kink into the “cultural redemption arc”; the misconceptions about trauma and kink; the concept of authority exchange; surrender and relaxation; kink as a relational, not a sexual, behavior; moving from secrecy to shared knowledge; decorating and enhancing one’s “core vanilla-ness”; discovering your fantasies; the nature of fetishes; understanding your erotic map; and more.
Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.
Sometime last year, I was having a conversation with a close relative of mine. I had sent them a recent news story I was quoted in and had been met with… silence. Eventually, I nudged a little bit and they responded, saying “I’m sorry, I just can’t be proud of someone who talks about sex and sex toys for a living. It’s embarrassing.” As we unpacked this statement, it became clear that they were unable to see the good—any good—in my work. As a therapist, as a writer, as an educator… my work was shameful in their eyes. In that moment, I understood my clients in a way I never had before.
With Sprinkles on Top was already finished by the time this occurred, but if it hadn’t? This conversation would have inspired me to write it. It can be incredibly painful to have someone you love tell you that “What you do is wrong. Who you are is not OK.” Many kinky people are afraid that if they share their innermost selves with the ones they love most, they too will be rejected, written off as broken or creepy or wrong. I wrote Sprinkles because I believe deeply that every single human being deserves to feel loved and worthy and whole, to know that their innermost desires are not just valid but beautiful, and to find others who can celebrate this beauty and their relationships together with them.
Sprinkles is also written for the partners of these kinky people, many of whom tell me that, if their spouse had just been willing to share their desires, they would have happily explored with them. For the spouses who don’t understand the fantasies or intimate practices they’re learning about and who need a guide to help them navigate these new relationship waters. For the men and women who call my office afraid—afraid that there’s something wrong with their partner or something inadequate in themselves.
They want me to “fix” them. I want to celebrate them.
With Sprinkles on Top is not a “how to” book. It’s a “what now?” book. My goal is to celebrate the things that make each person and each relationship unique and delightful—and to help them discover new unique qualities in themselves and new ways to delight one another. I want to celebrate vanilla relationship values while also normalizing and affirming kinky identities. I want to help my readers find new and exciting ways to enhance their own core sexual and relational “flavor” through interactive activities they do by themselves and with their partner.
Differences in desire represent an exciting opportunity to strengthen and reinforce the bonds of intimacy and trust we have created within our relationships, while also expanding the erotic playground we enjoy together. We don’t have to change who we are. We don’t have to be ashamed of what we want or embarrassed to talk about it. Sexuality, desire, and intimacy are, to me, sacred gifts. I’m honored to be able to help my readers, my clients, and others to build happier, healthier relationships with their bodies, their partners, and themselves. I hope you enjoy the process of finding your sprinkles and using them to communicate, explore, and connect with the one(s) you love.
Stefani Goerlich, PhD, LMSW-Clinical, LISW, LCSW, CST, is a certified sex therapist and master social worker who specializes in working with gender, sexuality, and relationships. She is a sought-after clinical supervisor, media consultant, and conference presenter who has appeared in media ranging from CNN and the Washington Post to Cosmopolitan and Teen Vogue. She is the award-winning author of the professional books The Leather Couch and Kink-Affirming Practice.
Author photo © Kim Williams