Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Best Hair Days

Hey Dolls!

Here is a post of my hair faves since I've been on my natural hair journey!  Keeping a photo journal is an excellent tool to track the progress of your growth and hair health.  I love to see my hair bloom before my eyes when I'm not even watching.  I have kept a photo journal since my BC.  Our hair grows, y'all!!!

I'm 32 months natural!  Check out my photo faves! Enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Healthy Hair Challenge: Jan Recap is a little recap on my healthy hair challenge for the month of January.  I'm so incredibly proud of myself for sticking to this challenge of protective styling.  After being natural for over 2.5 years, I have never worn a low maintenance style for more than a week tops.  To go for 30 days is a major achievement for me.  Now the question is, did protective styling benefit my hair overall?  Hmmm...we'll let the pics decide.

In the first pic, I took this on 1/7/12.  The 2nd pic was taken just two days ago.  My fingers are literally touching the top of my bra in the 2nd pic.  I totally gained my .5"!  I'm thisclose from BSL and I'm just too excited!  For my hair to show this kinda progress in a three week span is short of amazing.  Couple that with exercise 3x a week, healthy eating, and just leaving my hair alone definitely benefits and promotes hair growth.  To celebrate, I wore my hair out for the first time on the 1st.  I missed my big fluffy hair and I wanted to flaunt it as a reward for being so disciplined.  Here is my twistout from that day.

I flat twisted my hair in 10 large twists and set it with my Qhemet AOHC and sealed with my beloved avocado oil.  I had incredible shine and bangin' definition.  It was nice having my hair out for the day, but today I have tucked it away for another 30 days.  Now I have a bit of an unconventional approach to PSing.  I don't keep a style for 5+ days straight.  I have fine to medium strands and keeping twists in my hair for two weeks will result in knots, tangles, excessive shedding and other not so nice things.  So I typically wear a style for about 3-4 days, maybe 5 if I'm lazy and refresh, detangle, reset, and restyle.  I manipulate my hair 1x a week.  Hats off to those curlies who can rock twists for a month straight.  My hair would rebel in the worst way.  We all have to do what's best for our hair, and mine is thriving pretty well.  Here is my style for the rest of the week until wash day on Sunday.  Pinned up with no where to go!

That's my January check in/update!  February I'll be tucking those ends all this month.  Hopefully, I'll get these city twists this month so I can stop doing my hair for a few weeks.  I need a break. lol

Amazing Affirmations: People and Trees

The other night I was in my counseling class and we were talking about self-reflection.  It was an intriguing discussion about how to be a reflective practitioner.  In the counseling field, it is such an important concept to grasp and understand, especially dealing with people one on one.  Advice is something we are NOT supposed to give as counselors, but as the discussion got deeper, my professor showed us a "Madea" clip on Youtube.  It was a clip of her giving advice to a young man about relationships.  Although the clip was used as an instructional resource of what counselors are not to do with our clients, it actually struck something inside of me that I truly needed to hear and take heed.

Watch the clip for yourself.

I'm not much of a Tyler Perry fan, but maaaaan this clip spoke directly to my spirit.  People and trees.  So simple, yet so profound.  There is a reason why there are so many leaves, so few branches, and even fewer roots.   This was by far the best analogy to describe a good and bad relationship, in my opinion.  It was comedic, but it was definitely comedic truth.

Think about the relationships you have in your life right now.  Who do you think of when you place people in these three categories? Who do you consider your roots? Branches?  Leaves?  Thinking back on a certain relationship I had, it is clear this person is a leaf.  He is not meant to stay in my life and I had to accept that once and for all.  I've never known a person who was so emotionally disconnected, full of excuses, uncommunicative, and overall just weird.  Dude is just a strange cat. I don't understand him and it's not meant for me understand him.  Good luck to the person who will understand him.  I get it now.  I totally see it for what it is.  A waste of my valuable time.

I gave myself a hard time for going back to it after the fact.  There is no use in beating myself up when I all I have to do is walk away and never look back.  Going backwards is the wrong answer.  Leave your past in the past and move forward.  They are in your past for a reason.  Let them stay there.  Letting go is hard to do, but Madea said it best.  When it gets to a point when I have to choose You or Me?  I have to choose me, because simply put, I love me more.

I deserve so much more. I'm a beautiful woman who deserves to be pursued.  Yea, Imma a little old school.  I believe in chivalry and the "he who finds a wife" ideology.  I have so much love to give and I'm patiently waiting for the right "him" to come and scoop me up and share the love with me.  There is a deserving someone out there looking for me.  I'm just waiting on the day when we finally find each other.  Love.  I remember it. *smiles*

Thank you, Madea for the insight.  I needed this reminder to slap me in the face and wake me the hell up! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

In My Element!

One of the things that bring me the most joy is spending time with people that I love and care about deeply.  My family and small circle of friends mean the world to me, and I would give the shirt off my back for all of them.  Everyone has touched or influenced my life positively in some way and has shaped me into the woman I am today.  They tell me the truth even when it hurts to hear it, they support and encourage me, they pray for me and with me and love me with all my "issues" without judgment.  I want to share a piece my world with you and dedicate this post to my most favorite people!  My family and my friends.

The Loves of My Life 
(Christmas 2010)

 I have the best family EVER! 
(Easter 2011)

My College Dolls!  These ladies embraced me and kept me grounded through those days!  I'm grateful for our continued frienships over the last 10+ years.

My WOW Sisters (Women of Wonder)
May 2010

College Homecoming 2011

 My oldest and dearest doll!  We go back to freshman year in HS!  Love you, chica!

My Waiting To Exhale besties!  I loooooove these girls!  I'm so blessed to have you in my life!

I tend to get a little picture-happy, but I have so many fond memories and we just keep on making more! This post was to you give a glimpse of my world from a love perspective.  I have a lot of love around me and that is definitely hard to come by these days.  I'm thankful for the relationships and friendships that have come and gone, but I'm most appreciative of the ones that I have sustained through years.  I celebrate that today and I look forward to all the celebrations to come as my life's journey continues. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Week 4: Protect Ya Ends

Hey Dolls!

It's the 4th week of my hair challenge and I am mystified at how long I've been keeping up with my hair in protective styles.  I'm a "big hair don't care" kinda girl and I've never been a fan of protective styling, but y'all, here lately, I don't really miss my big hair these days!  *say what,  say huh?!!*  I know right!  I'm shocked, too.  Between my new busy schedule, which now includes grad school, styling my hair has been at the bottom of my agenda.  Low maintenance just works for me right now and being able to get up and go or add a few pins here and there, or my multipurpose bun have been time savers.  Who knew I would actually appreciate long term protective styling?  I just knew I would use up my two free days by now.

Right now, my hair is in flat twists and I pinned the twists into an updo.  I've been wearing my twisted updos for the last three weeks.  I like them, because they're simple, they last for a while, and it makes for a good style for workouts.  I'm in the gym 3x a week and this is by far the best no fuss style for sweating it out!  Every 2-3 days, I take down my twists to moisturize, refresh and restyle.  I spritz my hair lightly with water/Fermodyl 619 mixture for easy detangling.  Followed by my new favorite leave-in, Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier; I love this stuff.  My hair just absorbs it so well and it leaves it so soft and moisturized.  Finally, I'll add a little avocado/evoo to my ends to seal them.  Speaking of my ends, I am singing their praises right now!  No knots, breakage, dryness, splits!  They've never looked or felt so good.  I don't even have to add a styler or heavy cream when I restyle.  My hair stays moisturized for another three days, tops.

I'll wash this weekend and will retwist/pin for the following week.   My styles are by no means profound, but then again, they're not meant to be.  I'm going for a simple, no-fuss, heads off approach to styling and it's starting to grow on  me.  I like it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Got An "A"!!!!!

Hey Dolls!  Hope this post finds you all well.  I wanted to update you on my praise report!  Well, as you know, I started my first graduate level class last week and I start my second grad class today, and I must say, it's about to get REAL!  I'm really looking forward to the journey of my Counseling program and I'm believing my first semester is going to be a successful one.  I've already taken my first quiz in my Theories in Counseling class and I made an A!!!!!  I had to read a 40-page chapter, but I got it done!  I definitely have to stay up on my reading and note taking to be successful, so I've scheduled my time accordingly.  I have some intense research papers coming up, so pray for me, y'all!  I'm taking six credit hours, and balance is key.  I'm getting a 4.0 this semester!  I claim it right here, right now!

In other news, I also get an "A" for losing 7 lbs over the last month!  Yay!!!  I've been on a mission to live a healthier lifestyle, which includes, diet and exercise, and I'm happy to report that I've gone from 154 to 147 in 4 weeks.  I've lost .5" in my waist and my belly is slimming down.  My blood pressure is steady and back to near normal numbers (130s on down); I'm glad about that, too.  All in all, I'm making strides.  My fast is going really well, which I'm sure has been beneficial toward my weight loss.  I'm just 2 lbs away from my goal weight and I plan to maintain it and get leaner, more defined, and build more muscle.  When summer comes, it's on!

Finally, I get an "A" for my hair!  I've been protective styling everyday since the beginning of the year and I'm still going strong.  I've never worn my hair like this for this amount of time, but I'm getting used to it.  It helps when I frequent the gym, because my hair has to stayed tucked away as much as I sweat.  My hair seems to be thriving and in good shape.  It's definitely on the grow!  I've been switching up my products throughout the month.  I've started using EVOO and avocado oil, which I LOVE!  Avocado oil is awesome!  It's absorbs so much better than coconut oil for me.  It leaves my hair soft without the dried out feeling.  Coconut oil is great, but it tends to be a little drying for my liking.  My other new love is Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier!  This stuff is the SHIZ!  I love it.  It a great leave-in/detangler and it also leaves my hair feeling moisturized and manageable.  And to think, I had this sitting under my sink for year!  What the heck is wrong with me?!  I was missing out.

Well, there you have it.  Things are looking up for me and I'm excited about what's next!  I hope you have praise reports to share, too!  Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Amazing Affirmations: Today, I STOP...

Today started out as another ordinary day.  I woke up, did my morning rituals, got dressed and headed to work.  It was another ordinary work day, nothing special.  I normally go straight to the gym after work, but something made me go straight home.  I put my things down, checked the mail, and changed clothes.  Still ordinary.  I got on my computer, did a little reading, and after a few minutes, I turned it off.  Next thing I knew, tears started streaming down my face.  I just broke down and started bawling out of nowhere.  As I'm crying, all I could do is start calling on God.  In the midst of my sobbing I said, "Lord, we need to talk."

It had been a while since I had a good cry and an intimate conversation with God.  I knew my heart was heavy, but I didn't realize the capacity of heaviness I was experiencing.  I cried, because I felt an incredible sense of loneliness and solitude.  I felt so alone.  It was just me, my empty house, and my thoughts running wild.  Once I opened my mouth and started talking to Him, it was then I knew God had been here all along; I had not taken the time to vent to Him in so long.  I won't go into much detail about our vent session, but in conversing with my Comforter, He revealed some tough revelations about me. Among those revelations, He revealed to me the role I play in my personal relationships and why I feel like I'm on the losing end.

I am a compromiser.  Compromising is not the problem, the problem is I'm not much of negotiator.  I'm a master compromiser, especially when it comes to relationships.  It can be a strength and weakness, but I consider it weakness of mine.  I am the person who will inconvenience herself as to not inconvenience someone else.  I am the person who compromises what makes her happy to appease or conform to someone else's happiness.  I am the person who gives up some control just to "make it work."  If I don't like something, I try to adapt to it despite my feelings about it.  I guess the best way to sum it up is, I tend to settle for less than what I deserve.  This concept hit me like a ton of bricks when I openly admitted this aloud.  It's hard to admit our own weaknesses openly to ourselves, but it marks the beginning of change.  I can think years back on all the relationships I've had.  Be it personal, social, or business and I have had the same compromising pattern in most of them, if not all and it is unhealthy.  I only have myself to blame.  People only do what you allow them to do.

After the tears stopped and I calmed down enough to listen to God, I decided that this unfulfilling pattern must stop and it ends TODAY. 
  • I will no longer compromise my needs to appease someone else's feelings or wants.  
  • I will no longer accept "how the things are" when I am the one who is mostly lacking.  
  • I will no longer rationalize and make excuses for anyone's thoughts or actions.  People make choices and do things at their own free will.  There is no gray area.  It is what it is.  
  • If it something that I cannot or will not accept, then I must let it go completely.  
Today, I choose to be more of the negotiator and be firmer about what I want.  I can't be afraid of scaring off someone or hurting one's feelings simply because I let my wants be known.  This is not a green light to be obnoxious, petty or rude, it is openly communicating what you want or don't want upfront so there is little confusion later. Whoever comes into my life for the long term will respect my thoughts, ideas, feelings, and beliefs and vice versa.  If he can't, then I will not compromise.  I will not allow my feelings to take a backseat for the sake of a relationship.  We must to be on the same page in order for us to move forward.  I refuse to do all the giving and never receiving or not receiving enough.  I deserve more and I have to expect more.

I love this quote above by Dr. Seuss.  How true is that?  If you can relate to this post, make a decision today to put yourself first and start to receive all that you deserve.  Happiness is a privilege.  It's up to you to fulfill it.  And with that...I'm out!  Smooches!

12 Books in 12 Month Challenge!

I promise, I've been in serious reflection mode ever since the new year began.  I find myself just thinking and piecing together my future quite a bit.  I feel like I need to take steps to stimulate my intellectual side more and start investing in quiet reading time.  What is motivating me to channel my energy towards a good book?  I've followed the maneandchic blog for quite some time, and I'm utterly amazed at how inspirational, the author, Kai, truly is.  She is constantly up on her reading game and is always dishing out awesome reads for her audience to indulge in.  Most of her books are motivational, inspirational, business driven and self-fulfillment pubs.  It's very impressive and not to mention, refreshing and stimulating. 

It's been a long time since I've cracked open a fulfilling book.  I've always said I wanted to read more, but I always get distracted or get too busy with frivolous things that I never get around to it.  Lately, my time has been spent working out, blogging, working with my mentees, and my job in general.  This is the year I've been setting forth different self-challenges.  I challenged myself to improving my health, my hair, and now I want to improve my mindset and spirit.  I'm challenging myself to read 12 books in 12 months.  I want to feed my mind and spirit positive energy and set myself up for more success, peace, happiness, joy and prosperity.  I owe it to myself to dig deeper for a better understanding of what life has to offer and how I can grab it by the horns and take control of my own destiny.  With that said, I will be dabbling in Ms. Kai's 2011 Book List and catching up on some good page turners.  I'm starting with one book per month to get adjusted to my new schedule and then go from there.  Like any challenge, getting started is half the battle.  The bookstore will be my new hangout.  I'm excited about this challenge.  It is actually quite productive and very worthwhile.

I'm looking forward to learning a lot more about myself and I also look forward to sharing my thoughts on each book I read.  I'll be posting reviews and feedback about them here on the blog.  Ready, set, READ!!!  What's on your reading list for 2012?

Monday, January 16, 2012

In Nine Months, I....

Nope!  Not what you're thinking.  Soon, but at least not right now! LOL!  Sooooo....I was curious to see the progress my hair has made over 2011.  I made a few significant marks. I reached APL (arm  pit length), I straightened and trimmed for the first time since my big chop in 2009.  It is always best to track your journey in pictures to see just how far you've come.  It's interesting to watch my hair bloom before my eyes.  I take soooo many pictures, you would think was vain!  Maybe I am a little, but I digress.  It boggles my mind just how much my hair has grown.  It's just CRAY!

Out of curiousity, I went back through my natural hair albums and started to look at my length check photos.  I went back to February 2011.  This was my length before the trim and my hair after the trim. Pardon my half nakedness.  :)

The tattoo on my back is my guide to my hair growth.  In the pre-trim pic, my hair is about 1.5" past my tattoo.  I actually trimmed my hair about 2" when I straightened it.  In my post-trim pic, it falls  in the middle of my tattoo.  Granted, my hair was bumped a little, but not by much.  I was a little bummed for trimming that much, but I knew it would be worth it in the long run.  I checked my hair every two months after that to see how I was doing.  I checked in April, late June, late August and just recently at the beginning of January.  Here is my length check photo over the last 9 months.

Not bad for nine months from a 2" trim!  I don't have exact measurements, but I'll venture to guesstimate my hair grew roughly 3-3.5" in 9 months.  It's a little slower than average, but I'm sure there were several factors why that's the case.  The summer heat was a BEAST :/ and my ends were struggling with moisture.  I had some shedding and some breakage going on, but I tried to make sure it didn't get out of control.  I wasn't very active exercise-wise and my diet wasn't the best, either.  I'm sure my hair could've grown more if I had been a little more hard core in my regimen. Now that I've turned over a new leaf, I'm sure I'll gain another 3" by April to get my full 6" for the year.  Nonetheless, I'm still pleased.  At least my hair isn't in the same place it was nine or even six months ago.  Now, that's looking at the glass half full!