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!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Regimen: How the Magic Happens

 Naked Hair/No Product

In my previous post, I gave you an overview of my hair story.  Over the years, at least for the last two, I've learned SO much about my hair.  I've learned what works, what doesn't work, styles I can achieve, styles I struggle with, and most importantly, products that respond well for my hair.  The biggest misconception about going natural is that all heads of hair are alike.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  Our hair is as unique as our fingerprints.  We may all have "afro-textured hair", but our hair properties differ tremendously.  In order to truly understand what your hair likes and dislikes is to understand its properties.

These properties include, texture (fine, medium course), porosity (low, normal, high), density (thin, normal, thick), protein and moisture balance, just to name a few.  In fact, in my humble opinion, the least important factor is curl pattern.  Curl pattern is so subjective that it is very hard to pinpoint the "label" your hair falls under.  Our hair comes in several different patterns and textures.  That's what makes our hair so beautiful and unique.  We also get caught up in finding a "hair twin" or someone with a pattern similar to yours.  In some cases, this is an effective strategy, but even that can be misleading as some products she may use may or may not agree with your hair.  Again, there is more to natural hair than curl pattern and products.  There is a science behind it and we must take the time to research it, apply it and master it.

As for me, according to my research, my hair properties are as follows:
  • Texture:  Medium -- A few fine strands with some course strands.  I fall in the directly middle.
  • Porosity:  High -- My hair dries fairly quickly.  I can spray a section of hair with water and within minutes it is damp to near dry.  My hair soaks up moisture easily so I'm constantly having to use moisturizing products to keep it balanced, especially during the colder months.
  • Density:  Normal/Thick -- Normal in a stretched state, such as a blowout; very thick in an shrunken state.  I have 80-90% shrinkage.
  • Curl Pattern:  3C/4A -- Mostly S & O shaped curls, very spirally and somewhat loose.  Much tighter pattern around my edges. Very loose near my crown.
Now....*DRUM ROLL*

My Hair Regimen

I wash my hair every other week or no more than every 10 days.  I never go more than two weeks.
  • Prepoo or prewash:  Spritz and moisten with water and Fermodyl 619* on dry hair; apply a mixture of EVOO and Avocado Oil to small sections from root to tip, paying close attention to the ends.  Finger detangle to remove shed hairs and follow with a wide tooth comb.  Don a plastic cap and let sit for 15-30 minutes.
  • Rinse out oil and apply shampoo of choice in sections:  Mizani True Textures Shampoo (Target); Kinky Curly Come Clean (Whole Foods or Target); Giovanni Triple Tea Treat (Whole Foods or Target).
  • Rinse out and apply conditioner of choice in sections:  Suave Almond Shea Butter conditioner (Walmart/Target); Aussie Moist conditioner (Walmart/Target); Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (Walmart/Target).  I like to mix EVOO, avocado oil and honey with my conditioner for added moisture and penetration of my strands.
  • Leave in for 10 minutes or as long as desired and rinse out with cold water.  Cold water rinses close the cuticles to lock in moisture.
  • Blot hair with cotton t-shirt (plopping) and let air dry until damp.
  • Leave In:  Apply water-based leave in conditioner of choice:  Qhemet Biologics Cocoa Detangling Ghee (online); Kinky Curly Knot Today (Whole Foods or Target);Taliah Waajid Bodifying Mist.
  • Oil:  Apply oil of choice to seal ends: EVOO, EVCO (coconut oil), castor oil, jojoba oil, or avocado oil.  I don't use all of these oils as a mixture, I usually seal with coconut and castor oil combo.
  • Styler:  Apply creme-based styler of choice:  Butters, heavy cremes or pomades -- Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque (Target/Walgreens); Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie (Target/Walgreens); Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Creme (online); Koils by Nature Mango Shea Butter (online).
  • Style as usual:  Twistouts, buns, braidouts, roll/tucks, puffs, blowouts, etc.
SN:  I do not use every product listed in one sitting.  I use one product for each purpose and I tend to switch from week to week for variety.  I listed different options that serve similar purposes.

*Please note:  This regimen is strictly based on what my hair responds well to.  I am in no way endorsing these companies or their products for profit or sale.  My regimen is personalized to suit my hair's needs.

Protein Treatments: 4-6 weeks
Protein treatment of choice: Greek Yogurt Recipe by Naptural85 on Youtube.  This is an amazing recipe and fantastic natural detangler!  My hair loves it.  Check her out!  
Henna:  I've tried henna 2x and although the results were great, the process was too long.  I'd like to revisit henna, but I have to schedule it in advance.  My goal is to do a henna gloss every 6-8 weeks.

I was doing a GYR protein treatment every wash day (2x a month).  These treatments are effective if your hair is experiencing breakage, excessive shedding, feels weak and limp and needs strengthening.  If you are protein sensitive, meaning your hair has adverse reactions towards the protein, such as dry, brittle hair, refrain from using protein- based products and research other options. 

*Fermodyl 619 is a used to combat porosity.  It's a great detangler and makes hair more manageable. Can be found at Sally's for about $8.00 for a 3/pk.

Hair Lessons 
  • Lo Poo/Co-washing is just not for me.  I need to shampoo my hair to clarify my scalp and get rid of buildup.  It's very necessary.
  • My hair hates gels.  I was never a fan of gels even relaxed.  I will use gel occasionally for smoothing my edges, but even that's not that serious.  I'm so not a wash n go type of girl.
  • My hair loves oils.  My hair loves EVOO (Olive Oil), castor oil, coconut oil, avocado oil (new love), and jojoba oil.  I guess I should say most oils agree with my hair. 
  • My hair loves moisturizing products.  If water is in it, it's a winner!  My hair soaks up moisture in a good way.
  • My hair loves cones!!!   As much as cones are frowned upon in the natural hair community, my hair responds well to cones.  My hair is soft, shiny, manageable and those are all good signs in my book.
  • My hair is not protein sensitive, but tends to get protein overload.  I just learned about overload on protein. Although, it has its benefits, protein can also cause adverse reactions when overused, such as shedding or dryness.
  • My hair thrives when I wear it out or when I wear it in a protective style.  Some naturals swear by protective styling.  My hair retains length either way.  I'm wearing my hair in a PS lately due to my exercise regimen and to protect my ends from drying out.  I'm experimenting to see if my hair will retain more length with less manipulation.
  • In the summer months, I struggle with finding a balance of moisture due to the humid climate in which I live.  I had such a hard time keeping a style from becoming a huge frizz ball when dewpoints were 60 degrees or higher.  Humectants caused frizz, while anti-humectants caused dryness.  I'm still trying to figure out the balance of both.
  • I experience seasonal shedding.  During the late fall into winter, my hair tends to shed more than normal.  It used to worry me, but my hair goes through phases of shedding and only grows some more over time.  I monitor it closely, and I realize it's nothing more than norm for me.  How do I know?  My hair is not thinning, I have not lost density, and my hair is growing right along.
  • My hair loves heavy cremes and butters.  My hair needs emollients to seal in moisture.  Shea butter is always a winner or products containing shea butter work well for my hair.  Light weight products really don't do much for me.
  • K.I.S.S:  Keeping it short and simple!  The best regimen is a simple regimen.  I got past the PJ (product junkie) phase a long time ago and I don't have use for every "holy grail" known to man.  I don't own a steamer, a diffuser, and all that "extra".  I just need the bare essentials and my hair is perfectly happy.
There you have it!  My Winter 2012 Hair Regi!

My Hair Story: Introducing Nina!

When I started this blog, I had no idea the direction I wanted to take it.  I just kinda started writing whatever came to my mind.  I have so much to talk about that I tend to get a little scatter-brained at times, but I think that's ok!  I like variety.  I haven't really discussed my hair and there is no better time than the present!  My hair story begins like this:

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who was awe-stricken by the dopeness of natural hair!  She had a friend who had the most beautiful, kinky, curly tresses she had ever seen and wondered how she was able to achieve that look.  It was edgy, fashion forward, bold and it was au naturelle!  I started doing research on natural hair in 2007.  I'd never seen relaxer-free hair from this perspective before, and I loved it!  It wasn't "nappy" or dirty or unkempt.  It was beautiful!  As many of us, I was brought up to think that our natural hair was unacceptable, unprofessional, and unmanageable.  Relaxers were the end all be all to all things pretty.  Boy, was I wrong and thank God my mindset changed from that warped thinking! 

It started with reading fotki pages, reading blogs, and watching youtube videos.  After awhile, I become obsessed with going natural.  However, I just couldn't see myself cutting my hair down to a short fro.  I decided that cutting my hair was not an option, so I started transitioning in the summer of 2007.

My relaxed hair in 2008

Transitioning was so hard for me.  I was trying to wrestle with two textures by doing roller sets, buns, flat-ironing, and kinky twists.  It got redundant and frustrating after a while.  My first attempt, I transitioned for 6 months. In September 2007, I gave up and I'll tell you why.  My good friend was getting married and I was freaking out on what to do with my hair.  With no patience and no options, I folded and got another relaxer.  I was so disappointed in myself.  I regretted my decision.  I wanted to turn things around so in May 2008, I decided to transition again.  I got some cute micro braids to hold me down through the summer months and by August, I started wearing twistouts with my relaxed hair.

Transitioning in August 2008
I was really starting to love my twistouts.  I could only imagine how it would look with my natural hair.  I had been transitioning for about four months at this point.  I continued to do more research and the more I read the more I became anxious to do the big chop. I just wasn't ready to let go of all my length.  It was a losing battle.  I was too worried about how I would look, what people would say, and how I would care for my hair once it was all gone.  I just wasn't ready.  It was an emotional struggle rather than a physical one.  My family really didn't understand why I wanted to go natural, some of my friends thought I was crazy to cut all my hair off.  I was getting feedback on both ends of the spectrum, which made it even harder to go through with it. 

In November 2008, I hit another snag.  This time it was for superficial reasons.  I saw a super cute Gabrielle Union hair cut on the cover of an Essence magazine.  It was so fly, I just had to try it before I went natural.    For my birthday, my stylist and I decided to highlight my hair rather than cut it all off.  She wanted me to think it over, but she was very willing to do it.  I decided to get highlights and a layered bob (see above in black and white dress).  I rocked that style for another 2 months.  

In January 2009, I went for the Gabi do and got yet another relaxer!  *sigh* I know.  I really wanted to try that do as my final hoorah to relaxed hair.  I loved the haircut, but a part of me felt guilty for compromising my hair again.  I wore my hair in that cut for another five months.  My last and final retouch/relaxer was in March 2009.  I never looked back at the creamy crack ever again.  My two BFFs held me accountable until the day of my big chop.  One of them even scheduled my appointment for me to make it official!  On June 13, 2009 at 8:00 AM, my friends and I met at the hair salon and it was that day I took the plunge!  I was anxious, nervous, excited, scared, a big ole bag of emotions.  Emotional, yes, but it was the best decision I ever made!
BC Day: June 2009
I transitioned for 3 months before the big chop.  I fell in love with my TWA the very next day.  After the initial shock wore off, I rocked it like I was the fiercest *itch on the planet! I named her Nina, after the beautiful and sultry singer Nina Simone! I got mixed reactions.  I got mostly positive comments and compliments.  The best compliment came from a woman who said I looked "stunning and regal".  My confidence stock jumped about 50 points from that one!  I was absolutely flattered!

Fast forward to today, I'm almost 3 years post-BC and I'm more and more in love with my hair than ever.  The journey has been awesome with a few little snags, but the best part is getting to know my hair and accepting everything it comes with.  My texture, curl pattern, length, density, it's unique in its own special way.  Below are some favorites and some milestones that I achieved. 

Twist and Curl:  1 Year Post BC (June 2010)

 Flat Twist Out:  2 Years Post BC (July 2011)

Tension Blowout:  29 Months Post BC (Nov 2011)

My 31 month anniversary was January 13th.  I really don't keep up with months in between, but for the sake of this post I remembered.  I'm working towards growing my hair to bra-strap length or BSL.  I don't have much longer to go.  I'm about 2-3" from that goal.  I'm excited to see the progress of my hair.  I don't intend to grow my hair to my waist, but I'll be happy to see it get to mid back length as my ultimate goal.  I'll discuss my current regimen in another post and let you see what I'm doing to maintain and retain length.  

That's my story guys!  Two failed transitions, 3 relaxers, and almost 3 years natural and I'm loving it!  I'm proud of how far I've come!  I'm happy to share my journey with you, too!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Be Anxious For Nothing

Hey Dolls!

I hope your 2012 is off to a great start!  Hopefully you're using this time to see your plans, goals and vision through.  This is not the time to sit on them and put them to the side.  Consistency is the key to successfully fulfilling your purpose.

As for me, my 2012 was off to somewhat of a rocky start.  First, I rang in the the new year alone.  That's not entirely a bad thing, but I was not feeling up to company or going anywhere so I just stayed home and began to reflect on things in my life.  I was also in a "blah" kinda mood, because my "visitor" came to haunt me. LOL! Then I went back to work after the holidays trying to re-adjust my working relationships with some people.  I had to sever ties with a former friend, and having to go back to face them was a little awkward, but it's all working itself out.  I've been a little anxious about it.

Also, I've been a little anxious about the common medical condition that I was diagnosed with last year.  Fibroids.  I've been dealing with them for a year and I found out that one of them has doubled in size and I have two others kinda lurking around.  There is talks of having surgery to remove them so I'm a little nervous about the whole thing.  I discuss my ordeal in my previous post about them.

Last but not least, I called myself becoming the proud owner of a new dog.  I picked her up and brought her home last weekend.  Her name is Cocoa and she's the most adorable boxer, EVER!  She and I spent a good 24 hours together until....I leave the house to go church and run a few errands.  I was only gone for a few hours and something told me to leave her inside the house.  I didn't go with my gut, and I let her stay in the backyard.  She's a house-broken dog, but I didn't know how she would react in her new environment when I'm gone, so I let her out; not thinking that she would sneak out and run.  Sure enough, I came back home and she totally disappeared.  Needless to say, I feel awful, I'm devastated, and I feel responsible for her escape.  I've taken proactive steps to find her and it's been almost a week and no word, no sign of her.  Several neighbors have spotted her here and there, but supposedly, she is running from anyone who tries to help her.  I'm starting to think that she's content being out in the streets. I actually spotted her the other night and I tried to call her back to me and she just took off into the wilderness. :(   What does that say about  me when my own dog abandons me?  It makes me sad when I think about it.

All and all it's been a pretty eventful two weeks for me.  I'm hoping it can only get better from now on.  The upside is school begins next week.  I'm very excited about grad school!  Paying for it is another thing, but it's all good.  I've got it covered.  I'm also very involved in my new workout regimen.  I've been very consistent this month in getting to the gym.  I'm already down 4 lbs since my last doctor's visit in December!  Yay!  I'm beasting in the gym.  My fast is going well.  I'm eating a modified Daniel fast diet.  It's been much easier this go round since I've changed my overall diet to conform to my health, anyway.  My blood pressure is under control since I've started being more active.  I'm no longer hypertensive.  It fluctuates between normal to pre-hypertensive, which is a good thing. 

I guess 2012 is not all that rocky considering the good news.  I'm praying for the best year and I know being anxious means I'm not trusting God to make it happen.  I'm still learning how to live, let live and let go.  That's hard sometimes, but it's necessary.  I just need to get deeper into the Word and spend more time with God.  I believe once He has my full attention things won't seem so insurmountable.  I'm speaking to myself, but I hope you all reflect on that scripture above.  Tomorrow will take care of itself, so there is no use in worrying.  Dolls, be anxious for nothing.  Think about the good that's happening to you, through you and around you and  notice that it totally outweighs the bad.  Trouble doesn't last always.  It's going to be an awesome year!  I claim that today and I pray I don't lose sight of that revelation.  Peace!

It Sucks Being A Girl....Sometimes!

Ahhhhh, the joys of womanhood!  Menstrual cycles, well woman exams, poking, prodding, probing, it's all fun and games until you have to face the dreaded day of meeting with your gyno!  Yup, I feel like I've been poked and prodded more than I can stand in these last few weeks.  Although I got the green light on all my test results, I still had the ultimate nightmare at the gyno today.  If childbirth is anything like this...I don't know if I'm ready for it!  LOL!!!  I was a little bit of a wussy, but I still took it all in like a champ.

I went to my followup appointment about my uterine fibroid condition.  My doctor wanted to give me a saline ultrasound to accurately locate the fibroids, check the size of them, and determine the next plan of action as to remove them or not.  I really didn't go in with any expectations.  I read that the procedure was simple and I'll experience a little discomfort, but nothing too bad.  Discomfort is an UNDERSTATEMENT!  I usually have a high tolerance for pain.  I got two tattoos:  one my back and my wrist!  But this was not cool!

Basically, I undressed from the waist down.  Put my feet in the stirrups (yea, that's sexy) and the doctor placed a speculum inside my vajayjay to open up my cervix and uterus.  Then she inserted a catheter into my uterus, which really wasn't too bad.  I felt a little cramping, but nothing I couldn't handle.  The discomfort came when she poured saline into my uterus.  The saline liquid was supposed to open up my uterus or make it contract for a better view of the fibroids.  The contractions felt like mild to moderate menstrual cramps.  I just closed my eyes and took long deep breaths through it.  Unfortunately, the saline kept leaking out of my uterus so she had to reposition the catheter a couple times to get it right -- which led to more cramping!  Ugh!!!!  It was horrible!  When it was over, I sitting in the biggest wet spot of saline and bodily fluids.  I know!  Gross, huh? But hey, it what it is.  But that wasn't the worst part of it.

Next up, biopsy!  She needed to do a endometrial biopsy to check the cells for any traces of cancer or other abnormalities.  Again, I didn't know what to expect with it, but she said it would feel similar to the catheter, but just a few pinches.  I would feel some discomfort.  So she inserts the speculum, swabs, all that jazz, and she tells the nurse "biopsy"!  Mind you, I'm nervous and EXTRA tense!  She kept telling me to relax my legs and open up, but I just couldn't get it together.  I don't know what kinda tool she used, because I knew she was trying to get it over with.  It just looked like a large metal thingy.  Hell, I can't tell you what it looked like!  Cool, calm and collected, I'm lying there feeling this pressure and then this massive cramping, and all of a sudden I must've jumped out of my skin for the mere 10 seconds she was probing my uterus!  It was like a 10 quick shots to my insides and when I tell you that sh*t hurt like HELL!!!  Imagine, for those of you with tattoos, the artist poking your uterus for 10 seconds with a tattoo needle!  Yea, that's how that felt!  OMG!!!!  It was longest countdown of my mutha-loving life!  I keel over just thinking about it.  Next thing I know, it was over.

Afterwards, all I could do was lie there, holding my belly, unable to move for about 10 minutes.  I never felt anything like it.  It  felt like severe cramps or labor contractions.  The kind that have you bent over ready to throw up or lying on the bathroom floor in the fetal position sobbing like a baby! Suprisingly, I didn't cry or cuss out my doctor through the procedure.  I was very tense, but I stayed calm thru it all, wincing in pain.  I pray this will be the first and last time I ever have to go through this.  The whole procedure took about 20 -25 minutes.  If you ever have to go through an endometrial biopsy, make sure you take an ibuprofen BEFORE your procedure.  I made the mistake of not taking anything until afterwards.  Within about an hour of taking some pain reliever, I felt better.  The cramps dissipated and I was back to normal.  You'll want to take the rest of your day to relax.  Also, expect spotting or bleeding a few days after your biospy.  It's perfectly normal to bleed for about a week.  However, if you notice anything unusual, such as, heavier than normal bleeding, odor, or abdominal pain contact your doctor immediately. 

There you have it!  FunkyHairChic's Misadventures At The Gyno!  I had to share this, because I'm sure someone is either facing or has faced this before.  I just wanted to give you my take on it.  Never again, Lord!  Never again!  I pray all comes back clean as a whistle!  Lord knows, something good has to come out of all of that!  LOL!  Whew....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Finding My Styling Niche!

I don't know about most of you, but I feel like I'm the most style challenged when it comes to creativity with protective styling.  I watch tons of YT videos, and those ladies make everything look like a piece of cake.  Meanwhile, I struggle with the most easy to follow styles.  So I just kinda tweak it towards my own liking, but the original creator's always looks so much better than mine!  LOL!  It can get frustrating, but I'm sure they also experienced some frustrations as they were practicing or perfecting their styles.  It all comes down to the old adage, "Practice Makes Perfect!"

Anywho, I'm trying to narrow my styling down to one per week, and I'm trying to get away from bunning my hair so much.

Today, I wanted something simple and no fuss that wasn't a bun.  I went with Grecian Twists!

I parted my hair straight down the middle and did two large flat twists down each section.  My hair was not stretched enough, so it was a struggle trying to gather all my hair into one twist.  Then I pinned the two flat twists in the back and tucked my ends under.  It's not the cleanest twist, but it's looks aight!

Not bad, huh?  I guess I'll perfect it with more stretched hair.  My hair is so dense.  Pardon the crooked part.  Like I said it was rushed!  LOL!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Protect Ya Ends: Week 2

Hey Dolls!

Week 2 and so far so good.  Week one, I was a little indecisive with how to style my hair so I had quite a few change ups.  I finally settled on the easy no fuss bun to get me through my week and weekend.  Today, I'm sporting another textured bun.  I know that bunning can't be my end all be all to protective styling, because too much of a good thing is not always good.  My edges may take a beating if done too frequently, so I'll be easing up on the bunning starting week 3.  I'll be going back to the tried and true twisted pinups.  By the end of the month, I'll be getting a more long term style (baby twists) to hold me over for about six weeks.  This will help me get through the first quarter of this challenge.  Stay tuned for that.

On another note, I did a length check this weekend.  The first one I've done since late August.  After 4 months, my hair grew a little.  I'm now about 1.5" from the top of my bra strap in the back.  I'm sooooo close!  My hair was more stretched in my August pic.  The January pic is not stretched at all.  I use my tattoo as my guide.  I'm sure by the end of this first quarter I'll be grazing my bra strap indefinitely!  *crossing fingers* Just when I thought my hair wasn't surprises me, yet again!  Check out my length comparison from August to now!  This is more motivation to see this challenge through even more!  My next length check will be in April.  Here's to another 3" of growth! Here's hoping!

Protect, protect, protect is the theme for 2012!  BSL: Mission in progress!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Today's Hair!

I'll be posting some of a favorite hairstyles here.  Since I'm protective styling, I'm not that creative with my hair.  I typically stick with twisted pinups, tuck and rolls, or buns.  But sometimes, I'll be so proud of a style that seems so simple and want to post it.  So here is today's bun!

This is a textured bun.  Sorry the lighting isn't that great, but I love how this came out.  My ends were rolled and tucked under and pinned down.  I just overlapped each piece to add more texture and fullness and VOILA!  This is an elegant, casual or formal style for any occasion.  It's also ideal for sweating out at the gym.  This is definitely a go to style when you want simplicity. :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Get It Right, Get It Tight!

 Source:  Sweet Pototo Pie

I've been starting off 2012 hitting the ground running with my "Healthier Me"  challenge.  I've been seriously on the path to more fit life and so far, it's going great!  I joined this awesome network of fitness pals to help keep me motivated as we embrace a healthier lifestyle.  I must say, it feels good not to be in this thing alone.  My social circle keeps me encouraged, driven, and positive.  I love that, because we feed off each other's energies. You should check out MyFitnessPal and get hooked up with a network of people to cheer you on as you get fit.  There is an app for iPhone and Android or simply go to MyFitnessPal and get signed up!  It's an awesome tool!

I've set a few goals for myself for the next six months to improve health wise.  Like I stated in an earlier post, action is required to see desired results.  I need results. First thing I did was get a gym membership.  I didn't join just any gym, though.  I joined a small, family owned gym that is about 5000 square feet with every possible machine at my disposal.  I have the luxury of working out any time of the day or night and being the only one at the gym.  No waiting for a machine, or packed peak hours.  Ahhh, bliss!!!  I visit the gym 3x per week for an hour each visit.  I plan my workouts ahead, but cardio is always included in some way.  I love to run.  I'll jog for .75 miles straight, but I'm pushing myself to run a mile non-stop.  I'm not there yet, but I will by the end of January!  Watch me wuuuurkkk!

Here are is my 6-month Plan:
  • Run a non-stop mile (30 days)
  • Run a non-stop 5k by March or April (90 days)
  • Lose about 2-3" in my waistline
  • Tone, define and sculpt my arms, legs, abs and posterior 
  • Lower and control my BP
  • Lose about 5-8 lbs
Right now, I'm skating on 152 lbs.  I'm 5'4" with a very athletic/muscular build.  My bottom half is pretty solid.  My most problematic area is my belly.  I want to get that under control.  My current measurements are:
Bust: 34"
Waist:  29"
Hips/Butt:  40.5"

The average person would look at my stats and thing I'm crazy for wanting to lose weight or lose inches, but I know what works for me and the results I want to see. I'm not unhealthy, but there is definitely room for improvement.  I've been tracking my progess with a food diary on MyFitnessPal to monitor what I'm eating, calorie intake and calories burned from rigorous activity.  It's been helpful to watch my progress.  I haven't lost any weight yet, but I know if I stay consistent and make fitness a habit, I'll be well on my way.  Wish me luck!

Do You Have Any Fitness Goals? If so, dish!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Protect Ya Ends Challenge

End so it begins!  On January 1st, I made a commitment to wear protective styles for the next 90 days.  My curlfriends at Black Girl Long Hair forum have started posting their starting pics and measurements and we are hitting the ground running!  I plan to keep you updated on the challenge here by posting my regimen, styling options, pics, etc.  I hope my updates can serve as a resource for someone as theirs may serve as one for me.

As stated in a previous post, 2012 Natural Hair Challenge, my goal is retain up to 3" of growth every 3 months or an inch a month.  It's a pretty ambitious goal, but I believe it can be achieved through a strict hair and diet regimen.  My current regimen is simple.  Every other week or every 10 days I:
  • Apply Greek yogurt recipe (Naptural85) prior to shampooing (rinse out); finger detangle in the shower
  • Shampoo with Kinky Curly Come Clean or Mizani True Textures
  • Condition with Suave Almond and Shea Butter Conditioner (rinse out); awesome slip and consistency!
  • Final rinse with ACV (depends on how I feel)
  • Apply leave-in -- Qhemet Cocoa Detangling Ghee; Coconut Oil to seal, and SM Deep Treatment Masque as styler
  • Set my hair in flat twists, twists, braids, etc.
My hair has done very well with this regimen.  My hair remains moisturized for up 3-4 days without reapplying any product.  When PS, I normally take down the style at night and moisturize my ends and then restyle in the morning, if necessary.

It is now day 3 and I've been taking it one day at a time.  I have been in the gym a lot lately, so protective styling certainly is a plus for my sweaty hair.  Here are my styles so far:

Day 1:  Roll and Tuck

Day 2:
Twisted Updo:  I don't have a good photo from yesterday, but here is how they always look.

Day 3:  Cinnabun:   I'll likely be sticking to this for the next few days.  I don't like to pull my edges too much, but this is definitely the most convenient PS for me.

Three months is a long time, especially for a girl who looooves big, wild hair.  I'm just gonna have to get creative to keep from boredom.  In a couple of weeks, I'll be getting some baby twists put in to hold me down for another six weeks.  In the meantime, I'll be taking it one day, one PS at a time until then. :)  How are you ladies holding up?