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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God Talk

God Talk

The most arrogant thought I’ve ever had is that there is no God. See, I’m a cynic by nature and at times painfully sarcastic. I used to get kicks out of telling my elderly, Mississippi born and raised, God-fearing grandmother, that there is no God. Not only was there no God, I would show up to her house for the weekend without any clothes for church, a fact I would conveniently not reveal until Sunday morning. Boy, did her blood boil. Between that and my other comments about never wanting to learn how to cook because my future husband will cook for me, she disapproved of my ideology, to say the least.

When I was 8 years old, my mother died of breast cancer. After her passing, I moved in with my father and step-mother. We loved each other, but somehow the love got lost in translation. Strict rules for a defiant pre-teen, mixed with hurtful words such as “You’re not my mother!”, led to pain for all. I was already a quiet girl, and the loss of my mom led me to talk even less. I was taken to therapy but I just didn’t want to discuss the elephant in the room. I buried feelings of sadness for years and years to come.

I became pregnant with my daughter at the age of 21, which lead to more turbulence on the home front. I was politely asked to go reside where the baby was conceived. The relationship with my daughter’s father, as well as with subsequent men, was nothing short of something very appropriate for a young girl, stumbling around, without having learned how to handle her trauma, and thus causing more.

In my mid-20s I dated a guy and I could have guessed that he wasn’t “The One” if I was being honest with myself, but I wasn’t too invested in authenticity those days. At first, things were different, which meant that things were great. Wow, I thought, I can talk to this guy for hours! We laughed and taught and learned from one another. He was the first man I dated, who I also considered a friend.

The relationship, albeit refreshingly unique compared to those before it, was still riddled with deceit and disappointment. We first met and connected at work but after he started a new job, we began to only see each other monthly, despite living less than an hour away from one another. He would flake on plans, not call back, and not show up. A few years into our relationship, it became clear to him that I was taking things more seriously than he was and it became clear to me that his disruptive behavior was a reflection of his own dissatisfaction in life and that it had very little to do with me. As I began to Google “How to be Happy”, “Tricks for Happiness”, “Helping Loved Ones Through Depression”, he began to end things with me. I was learning these secrets for happiness in order to teach him, not even knowing that I was really teaching myself nor how valuable these lessons would soon be.

The break up was tough. The collapse of ideas I had so longed for, brought me into the darkest days I’ll ever know. Suicide ideation, prescription drug abuse and self-neglect took over for far too long.

Until July 16th, 2014, when I saw the snail. Walking past a Brooklyn bush, there slugged a snail. Small and almost unnoticeable, yet it caught my eye. I snapped a pic and posted it on Instagram with a caption that came to me as my fingers swiped along, “A snail! I declare this a sign of excellent health, prosperity and good fortune because that’s the typa stuff one declares when choosing happiness! Happy Wednesday y’all” I didn’t know I had chosen happiness until the decision was made. And as sneakily as depression cloaked my life, it had been lifted up by this arbitrary symbol of everything I needed. A symbol sent from God, fortified by all I had learned while trying to help my ex.

I do not believe in coincidences. Each person in my life is here for a reason, even when I can’t see what that reason is. Every heartache has taught me as much as I was willing to learn. Meeting a man, who I loved and thought I could save from depression, in turn, saved me from my own hidden depression. I began practicing the things I was intending to teach him. I wrote my Happy Lists. I asked myself what did I enjoy about my day, every day and then I made sure to do those things more often. I complained less and showed gratitude for every. little. thing. Forcefully at first, but then it came as a new way of being.

Afterward, I began proudly calling God by name because I was truly beginning to feel his grace and it was hard to keep in. When I say “Praise God!”, please believe that I am on my knees giving thanks. When I say “Look at God!”, I am truly marveling at his miracles. With God’s help, I can now see blessings that have always been there. With God’s help, I can now see beauty in things and in people where I once saw none. With God’s help, I see that there is God in me, and that I have a purpose and a calling and gifts to share with the world. With God’s help, my eyes, ears and heart stay open to the testimonies of all God’s children, because you never know who will share a word that will change your life.

I will not say that God has completely taken depression from my life. Some days are easier to see light than on others, but through God I don’t miss a single lesson, which gives my pain a purpose. I’m grateful for the storms I’ve endured because they make the sunlight that much more divine and through the grace of God, I am walking on sunshine.

(First posted @ www.link2usmag.com)

Manifesting Mindfulness With Children

Manifesting Mindfulness With Children

My niece and nephew came to visit my daughter and me for the weekend. When I have the three kids together, I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sudden increase in energy, demands, and complaints. I love them to pieces but their visits are a complete divergence from our usually quiet and low key lives. It feels good to see Jayda growing up so closely with her cousins especially because I didn’t have that same experience with my own cousins, due to our age differences.

I know from experience that the more bored the kids are the more they engage in negative behavior and the last thing I want to do on the weekend is play the mean mommy/auntie role as I hand out lectures and punishments.

Day 1 of the weekend was a disaster. I was mentally unprepared and still exhausted from my week of employment, passions, and responsibilities. The kids couldn’t quite figure out sharing, they had bottomless stomachs for snacks and they were restless.

Day 2 took a different turn, and here is how…

1. I was well rested– Usually, after the kids go to sleep I like to take advantage of a quiet house, so I stay awake for hours occupying myself with snacks, rated R movies and other vices. This time, I slept and the next day I was ready to tackle and engage! I also woke up before them which does not usually happen. It gave me time to get breakfast ready and prepare the room for our activities.

2. I made a plan– If you want to keep kids engaged all day, you will need a plan! I brainstormed the theme of the day and planned accordingly. Our theme was “Mindfulness and Gratitude” and our activities were guided meditation, yoga, vision boards and reading. We were flexible in our approaches but steadfast in our curriculum of the day.

3. I gave the kids expectations– The script went a little something like this “Good morning children! Today we will talk about and practice mindfulness and gratitude! We are going to have a great day with each other and we are going to be fair, considerate and kind!”

4. I considered their senses

Sound- Our ears were blessed by the peaceful sounds of October’s Child, who just released a new project entitled As You Go. The calming vocals and light instrumental elements brought exactly the feels I was longing for. Check them out with this link.

Sight- In my attempt to avoid overstimulation, I kept the blinds mostly drawn letting in just enough sunlight.

Smell- Throughout the duration of the morning and afternoon, I boiled dried lavender buds which filled the air with sweet and subtle scents. 

 

(I purchased mine from Amazon, link above)

Taste/Nutrition- Kids have energy and these kids have ENERGY! There was no added sugar in our diets today. Breakfast was eggs, toast, and hash browns. Knowing that they tend to skimp on meals so they can indulge in snacks later, today they were warned that there would be no snacks and they were advised to eat all of their breakfasts. To drink, they had tea with honey.  Lunch was pasta in a sauce made from pureed kidney bean, coconut milk and tomatoes. 


It was nice seeing the children explore their spiritualities and sense of gratitude. It was warm and refreshing to hear them talk about all of the parts of their lives that bring them joy. The best part was seeing the spirit of my mother live on through her grandchildren whom she never got to meet.

The day was a great success and just as I stopped running out of ideas for engagement, my brother arrived to pick my niece and nephew up. I would love to do this every time they come to visit, but to be honest it took time and energy that I don’t always have and sometimes, I like doing absolutely nothing, but I am grateful that I had the capacity to facilitate this today and hopefully there are long-lasting results that remain after the day is over.

 

Om Namah Shivaya

Namaste

Amen

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…

balance.png

… 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.

                                                         .                         

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.