A Hair Journey

A Hair Journey

I began my journey in the Fall of 2015 when I stopped perming my hair. This was my second time attempting to go natural but this time I was more determined than before because I realized there was more on the line than I initially thought. I had become conscious about the images of beauty that I was portraying for my daughter. I was asking her to embrace her afro and natural curls while I was taming and stripping my own. She was the catalyst for a monumental change.

On my first attempt at going natural, I gave up a few months into the process because dealing with my roots was “too hard”. This time around, I believe that posting my hair intentions on Facebook in addition to Jayda as a motivator, were the factors that contributed to my sticktoitiveness. Not that anyone was keeping track or anything but it filled me with a sense of accountability.

I finally cut off the permed ends, Fall 2016 and since I am now approaching the three-year mark of having natural hair growth, I’ve compiled some before, in between and current pictures to celebrate the milestone. Enjoy!


PRETRANSITION

Hooked on that creamy crack


TRANSITIONING

Lots of braids, Bantu knots, and puffy roots


POST CHOP

I didn’t go the big chop route which at the time felt like I was cheating myself from a full experience but the end result is the same: volume, health, and length.


I’m still learning my hair and figuring out what products, oils, and regimes work for it best. I am currently leaning towards Shea Moisture’s Low Porosity line and Argon Oil. I am mostly low maintenance. I have wash hour, not wash day and I do my best to deep condition when I remember. I’ve tried making my own hair masks with fruits and vegetables but the effort didn’t seem to match the results I was getting. I often find that doing less with my hair works just as well as doing the most in terms of helping me to achieve my goals.


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Nice For What?

Nice For What?

Balance is my absolute favorite word and concept. Its simple. The answer is seldom in this OR that but can commonly be found in this AND that. I love exploring all the various manifestations of balance.

Science and God

Technology and Art

Brute and Brain

Light and Dark

Sweet and Savory

Compassion and Action

Strength and Grace 

Strength and Grace 

Strength and Grace

Strength and Grace

This last one though. I was constantly given the opportunity to exercise a balance between strength and grace and I was failing more than I was succeeding. Weeks ago I sat down to write some profound breakout piece about why and how to balance these two beasts.

This is what came of it…

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… and that’s all.

I wasn’t feeling very balanced that that day. Or these days in general really. Over the past few months I have experienced such a rush of adrenaline and confidence as I’m bursting into areas of life and myself that I’ve never touched before. I feel powerful and creative and I want to show it off.

Nice for what? Oh hey Drake.

What perfect timing he has. Days after my disaster of an attempt to document strength and grace, Drake releases what I hope will become the 2018 Summer anthem for all women. His video represented every type of boss woman from the board meeting CEO, to the student, to the mommy of two. I got goosebumps when Zoe Saldana was shown with her babies because motherhood is one of the most under and misrepresented hustles of them all. I’m here for this. I thank Drake and his team for developing a voice that is paying homage to the unapologetically strong and ambitious woman.

This song is directed at people who don’t add to your recipe of success and who serve as distractions, at best (sometimes known as f*ck boys). If you’re fortunate enough to have a team, then you understand the importance of their influence on your personal strength. Those who motivate, ground and cheer you on. Our supporters and our contributors. Those who wake up early with us or those patiently waiting for us to get to bed. Behind every strong woman is a team of people who deserve recognition. This song wasn’t about them. My note wasn’t about them either. But shout out to them. 

Love yourself outloud, show off your hard work and accomplishments and don’t let anyone make you feel as though you are shining too brightly for their taste. Your strength and perseverance is changing your life and you may have no idea who else you are motivating. Be a light so that others may also shine…. and thank the lights standing beside you.

How’s that for balance? 

Gems

Gems

I’m sitting here at my dining table, looking out the window. It’s snowing. It’s 10:00 am. I have a cup of tea, with almond milk and I’ve just finished eating a piece of artisan bread with butter and a bit of honey. The heat is on and I’m toasty even though my arms are bare in this nude colored maxi dress turned housecoat. I feel good. I’m surrounded by an atmosphere that I’ve created to specifically please myself. Let’s take a look around….

The Flowers

The Fruit Basket

The Tree

The Easel

The Books

The Couch

The Chairs

The Tables

And the Art

All hand picked for me, by me. Life is grand and I’m able to see the great in things much better these days; much quicker. This, of course, didn’t come to me for free. Many struggles, frustrations and difficult times were pushed through to get here and I have a much more intentional and happy life because of those hurdles.

I haven’t always been sure what about what I have to share with the world, but today I am confident beyond measure that what I have to say could save a life, change a life or turn a life around because these gems are exactly what did all those things for me.

I, by no means, claim to be an expert in mental health but I am a living testament to the practices I subscribe to and have been blessed with the gift of word to spread a message of hope, love, and healing.

How did I find these gems? I googled them, of course! I set out looking to find the keys to happiness, so that is exactly what I found.

Here are some of the gems that have helped me along my path….

Make a list of all the small things that make you happy
Do more of what you love, love more of what you do 
Fall in love with as many things as possible
Even mixed signals are clear signals
Accept the apology you never received
Apologize, often
Leave the world better than you found it
Breath deeply and with intention
Appreciate the space between “Not Anymore” and “Not Yet”
Enjoy the process

Struggles with mental health are real, and not readily understood by all. There are as many paths to healing as there are paths that brought you into seeking healing in the first place.

I also found it helpful to read and reread books that focus on reshaping the mind and reprogramming old habits into transformative new ones. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson are among my favorites and can be purchased by using the links below.

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Do you have any gems that have influenced your personal journey? Please share them below. Let’s keep the dialogue going because depression works best when hidden. Uncover and heal!

Blessings.

 

Working Together To Improve Birth Outcomes

Working Together To Improve Birth Outcomes

I find that in many cases, people tend to be of the opinion that life is either black or it is white. You are a man or a woman. You are a liberal or a conservative. You either believe in God or in Science. You are gay or you are straight. As time goes on, people who live in shades of gray are helping others to see the true broadness of life by being vocal about where they stand on all these spectrums that make up individuality.

There are people who were born with male genitalia, but identify as women and are sexually attracted to both. There are people who are conservative on issues of women’s reproductive rights and liberal when talking about the legalization of marijuana. I am of the opinion that the best way to improve birth outcomes is through the joining of modern medicine and tradition midwifery ideals because it has been my experience that seemingly opposing views, tend to work well when combined.

Imagine a world, where doulas and midwives work with clients to provide safe, comfortable and supportive birthing environments, right next to traditional medical personnel who are providing medical oversight, as necessary. These two notions need not be in contradiction to one another. The best possible outcome is when all supports can work together to give a pregnant person what they need in all areas, emotionally, physically and medically.

I have a friend who shares many things in common with me. When I go through something difficult, I know that I can go to her for complete understanding and camaraderie. We can talk for hours about all of our shared experiences and feelings. I find this type of support to be necessary for my growth as a human being. I need to feel like I’m not the only one going through certain challenges and I gain strength from knowing this, but growth cannot stop there. I know that without our awareness, we can sometimes get caught in a cycle of venting, which can be dangerous. I’m lucky though. While I have this friend, I also have my fiance. My fiance pushes me to take action. It is because of the type of support that he offers, that I’ve made many of the lifestyle changes that are leading me to be a better, stronger and wiser human. But when he pushes me, I sometimes feel rushed, unprepared and unsupported. It is the combination of ideals that lead me to feel fully backed, in a very wholesome way. Supported to cry, whine and complain, and equally as important, I feel supported to act on the areas where I feel dissatisfied.

I believe the same applies to improving birth outcomes. We need a balance of the knowledge of modern medicine, which can save lives, in combination with the knowledge of traditional midwifery, which can prevent birth trauma and improve overall experiences. We need both and we need to work together.

Feeling Like a Freak on a Leash

Feeling Like a Freak on a Leash

My baby feels like a freak.

My 10-year-old, little peanut, sweetest girl in the world, feels like a freak.

And for now, all I can do is listen to her cries, and assure her that one day all of her peers will be bleeding from their vaginas too. But for now, she’s the first in her class, and she feels like a freak.

Some change feels natural. Like from being held in a womb, to in arms, to sitting up, to crawling, to walking, to running. And some change feels abusive and unnecessary, like bleeding for days from your private area, every month,  in order to be able to have babies in 20 years…. Like really?

She and I had different experiences. I was 13 and one of the last of my friends to get their periods. I was eager for puberty. I had a book called “What’s Happening To My Body: A Book For Girls”. I studied the pictures to make sure my boobs and pubes were developing on schedule, and they were not. My best friend had C cups, and I was still in training. I longed for my period, and for the rest of puberty, and my baby girl just wants to slow down.

“Mommy went through it, every auntie and grandma you got went through this too.” As her tears run down her little face, it seems as though my attempts at normalizing this phenomenon are futile.

But she wants to talk about it. And watch youtube videos. And she wants to hear stories. For that, I am grateful. I didn’t want to talk about things when I was her age and I built bad habits of keeping thoughts and fears to myself from early on. She’s not like me in that way. Her ability to talk things through and ask questions that are on her mind will help her manage this and all other changes she experiences.

When she was 3 years old and in a very strict, Catholic preschool, her biggest challenge was talking too much. One day a teacher from the school, pulled her aside and told her that speaking is her gift. Just like the old saying goes, I don’t remember that teachers name but I remember how she made us feel: anointed and special. So my daughter is using her gift to get through this time, and I hope she will remain whole and better for it.

This Saturday, we’ve invited some of our tribe members to come to our home for the purpose of welcoming my little one into womanhood; a “period party” if you will. This will be a time for love, support, and sharing. We’ve all felt freakish for one thing or another. Let’s talk about it, laugh about it, cry about it and normalize the fuck out of feeling like a freak.

I’m confident that she will be ok. We’re all ok with bleeding after a while. And she’ll get better about remembering to wrap things up and throw things away with practice. As time goes on, it will feel less and less “weird” and weird will turn into normal before we know it.

But for now, my baby feels like a freak.

Review: Tapping The Power Within

Review: Tapping The Power Within

One of the books I read towards my Doula certification is “Tapping The Power Within” by Iyanla Vanzant. I  chose this book because I am a fan of Iyanla, and based off the title, I knew this book would add to my new career as a Doula, but more importantly to my life as a whole.

The most personally influential concept addressed in this book, was that of alignment. Iyanla writes, “When we are in alignment, we can recognize and accept the lessons that will lead us to a fuller, more peace-filled, and more purposeful sense of living.” The idea of alignment has been increasing present in my life over the past few months. In December, I attended a three week yoga workshop and that is where I first heard the word, in this context. The workshop discussed how being aligned with our higher purpose increases the flow of our lives. When we aren’t aligned, we find ourselves feeling unsatisfied and displeased.

In January I  read “A Return To Love” by Marianne Williamson and I saw her speak later that month. The part of her seminar that resonated with me the most was when she said “When you are aligned, you cannot separate your spiritual self from your personal or professional self.” This truly spoke to me, as it also did while reading “Tapping The Power Within”.

For the past 10 years, I have been employed by an agency that serves the developmentally disabled population. It is a frustrating job for someone like me, because I feel like administration, overseeing agencies and bureaucracy in general, held me back from implementing change in the lives of the people I  served. My initial disalignment was the catalyst for finding my higher purpose.

Through many conversations with myself, family and God I  came to find that I am truly served by serving other women and their babies. This realization led me to people who were and/or knew Doulas. I was overwhelmed with the thought that I  could be fully aligned in my life’s purpose and create a career out of it, at the same time! “Although thoughts govern how we respond throughout life, they may not be in alignment with the spiritual purpose or meaning of the experience,” Iyanla writes. As a doula, I  feel like my spirit is at ease, because every aspect of my being is working together to serve the world and to equally serve myself.

Image result for tapping the power within iyanla vanzant

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Books

Oils

Oils

I am obsessed with oils! I have many in my home, such as castor, argon, coconut, avocado, aloe vera, mango, lavender, tea tree, peppermint and rosehip seed. I like making natural products such as deodorant, lip gloss and butters and I often use one of these oils as the main ingredient. I like how many uses each oil has, they’re so versatile!

My absolute favorite is Castor Oil. It has a thick molasses-like consistency that is perfect for coating natural hair and adding shine and life to dull lips. I recently learned that castor oil can help with menstrual cramps when applied topically. I am always amazed by how much and how far just a little bit of castor oil can go.

My second favorite oil is Coconut Oil. It’s accessible from nearly any supermarket or local store, which makes it extremely convenient to find. I use coconut oil primarily on my skin and hair and I find that it’s great for braid/twist-outs. I stopped using any type of cream on my hair, so I’m always in search of the perfect oil that will add or retain as much moisture as possible, and coconut fits the bill! The key is to not use too much, otherwise, expect your soul to glow all over the place (Coming to America reference).

. . . but the most convenient store of them all is Amazon, so I can easily and quickly have all my oils delivered to my door in just two days. Check out the links below to some my favorite oils using Amazon.