Locs update

Five months have passed since my son started his loc journey. All is going well and he continues to enjoy the style. He still makes time to cover his hair at night (without being told to do so), which is amazing for a 10-year-old.  Shucks, I know grown women who struggle with this task, especially when late night fatigue can get the best of anyone.

Last month, we experienced something new; WATER! LOL! The day before his Easter spring break, his school took a field trip to an indoor water park. My son asked if he could get his hair wet. Since his hair is shampooed every 3 – 4 weeks at the salon, his question surprised me. But this smart Kid’s thinking was right on time!

He knew that swimming, would result in his locs swelling and, since his hair is in the “locing stage,” he was concerned.  Anyway with about 10 days away from his next hair appointment, I wasn’t too concerned. He’s a kid and sending him to a water park with stern instructions to avoid getting his hair wet seemed a bit ridiculous to me. To be honest, my “laid back” mommy attitude has evolved over time. These days, I don’t take things too seriously.

So he went to the park and had a blast! His stylist instructed me to get the chlorine out by rinsing his hair. I did and below is the result.

20130407-180236.jpg

Before loc maintenance 4/7/13 KinHairitage

For the past week, this is pretty much how he looked. I am sure folks were looking at us and talking about me, wondering why I allowed my son to walk the streets looking like this.  Because I choose to; that’s why.  🙂

Ha! Ha!!!  I was once one of those folks, but thank heavens, I “get it!”  Dag-on-it!!  He’s a little boy, he doesn’t have to dress and look like he’s ready to strut down a Paris runway. Lol!

I must say, going natural has opened my eyes and my spirit to a new and wonderful world.   Today he visited KinHairitage Salon for loc maintenance and as usual, his stylist, Victoria did a fabulous job!  Isn’t he so handsome?!  Thanks Victoria!

20130407-181432.jpg

Additional Reading

http://www.curlynikki.com/2011/06/misconceptions-of-locs.html

http://www.inspiredlocs.com/care-and-maintenance-of-locs.html

Advertisements

My Natural Hair Journey

Two and half years have passed since I started my natural hair journey. As I look back, I am amazed at the progress of my hair growth; never has my hair grown with such consistency and without breakage.

Yesterday while sorting through family pictures, I came across a few pictures of me. In the spirit of the reflecting on the past year and moving forward, I’m sharing a few shots of my hair journey.

Happy Holidays!!


“There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout: This is me damn it!

“There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout: This is me damn it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love!  I am a whole complex package.  Take me…or leave me.  Accept me – or walk away!  Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don’t fit your idea of who I should be and don’t try to change me to fit your mind. If I need to change, I alone will make that decision.  When you are strong enough to love yourself 100%, good and bad – you will be amazed at the opportunities that life presents you.” 

-Stacey Charter

Over one year ago and while proudly sporting a two-inch Mohawk, my son proclaims, “Mom, I want my hair like Malakai’s!” We had not seen Malakai for a few months.  Malakai is a former classmate – same grade.  His friend has the most adorable plush locs that I have seen on a kid in a long time. His locs are maintained by Victoria at KinHairitage Salon and Spa.

I am surprised that during the middle of football season he was thinking about a new hairstyle. Tailor’s request was a shocking because I never encouraged him to wear locs or any hairstyle.   The Mohawk was his idea but is typically partaken as camaraderie among football players of all ages. To prepare for locs, at the end of the 2011 football season, his Mohawk was shaved.  During the ride home, I glance at him in the rear view mirror.

 “Tailor, what’s wrong?  You look like you want to cry.” “I’m sad mom because I had to cut my hair.”

I reminded him that to achieve locs, his hair needed to be cut even.  He understood but was still sad to see it go.

The big day came on Satirday, November 17, 2012.   We were both excited.  Finally after a year of mishaps of so-called “trims” at the Barber, my son’s hair grew long enough to begin the process.  Yay!!!

From across the shop, I hear his jubilant voice, “this feels good!”   I cannot resist a peek, so I quietly sneak over to the shampoo bowl. This is what I see!

Baby locs initial styling  11-17-12

Baby locs initial styling 11-17-12

His smile says it all!  Enjoyment and delight!  There is no doubt in my mind that he was grateful for the experience and look forward to indulging in luxurious shampoos in the future.  While Victoria twisted his hair, he sat content chatting with her.

I watched in amazement.   Why amazed? Because at his age, many children are trapped by the idea of looking like everyone else and trying to fit in.  My son has chosen a hairstyle, which is different from all other classmates.  He is comfortable and confident with the choice.   His choice pleases me a great deal.

How long will he wear his locs?  I don’t know.  He can wear the locs for as long as he chooses.  The choice is his. Speaking of choice… I’ve been asked,

“You’re letting him wear those?!”   “Those!”  Hmm… “ABSOLUTELY!”

I grew up without the benefit of making choices for myself.  As a child and as a teen,

I was told what to wear, what and when to eat, and darn nearly, what to think!

The same person, who tried to “think” for me as a kid, still frowns upon and attacks my personal likes for tattoos, piercings, and other nontraditional accessories.   Lol! Frankly, the thought makes me laugh and want to behave like a rebellious child and get more tats and holes!  Lol!  I refuse to impede my child’s ability to make sound, reasonable, and responsible choices.

Nearly 24 year of parenting has taught me to pick and choose my battles carefully.  The phrase is a cliche  but it is the crux to surviving the teen years. You get to a point, when you ask yourself, how important is the situation?  Is it life threatening?  Is it life altering?  It most cases the scenario is not and is not worth the stress and aggravation.  A friend says, “I’m not trippin on the dumb sh**!”  She’s right.

In the weeks that have passed since his first styling, my son has shown a genuine interest in maintaining his hair.   Before bedtime, sometimes I get, “Mom, can you fix this twist, it’s coming loose.”   Lol!!  I love it!

Victoria at KinHairtage Salon and Spa styled Tailor’s hair wonderfully.

photo (9)

Shop owner, Victoria, specializes in loc maintenance and does an incredible job with all lengths and hair textures.  Two and half years ago, I started my natural hair journey with ShidaNatural at KinHairitage.  More recently, Vicki jazzed up my hair with color and highlights.  I don’t know if I will ever return to my natural dingy brown colored hair. Heeey!

Using WordPress’s new photo gallery feature, I am working on a post to show my 2 1/2 year  hair journey.

I must admit, I am excited at the thought of my son’s hair thickening and lengthening   He is so cute with his new style! Yesterday was his second salon visit.  He was shampooed, conditioned and retwisted. He told me that the visit was “relaxing.”  Lol!

Re-twist after 4 weeks   12-15-12

Re-twist after 4 weeks 12-15-12

For now, the locs are a cool and a fun hairstyle for Tailor.  Later they may become something greater with more depth and meaning to him.  It is imperative though, that he can confidently and accurately articulate his knowledge and understanding of the cultural and historical aspects of locs.  Too often I see young people proudly donning cultural, religious, and other styles but lack the historical knowledge base to understand the meaning or possible ramifications of their chosen style. We will learn about the history and traditions of locs together.

I am also certain that in the future, if not already, he will be questioned about his hair and will receive ignorant stereotypical and negative comments.  As with anything else, we will talk about specific situations as they arise. Some of the family matriarchs’, including my mother, are absolutely revolted by the site of locs.

“Eeew!  How can you wear that mess?!?”  “It looks terrible!”   Are a few comments made to a family member who is six months into his journey.  The comments are absurd and offensive!

It’s a personal choice people; get over it!!

I told my mom in advance about her grandson’s new style.  I told her to speak positively or say nothing.  Mom did not like my command but it was necessary.  My son WILL receive encouraging and loving support from our family.  Anything other is unacceptable.

So far Tailor’s journey has been positive and encouraging.  His classmates, teachers, and family have shown him much love.  He is confident, has a positive self-image, and is upbeat about his new look.   We are truly blessed and I thankful.


Chance meeting or not?

I love traveling.  Meeting new folks, acquiring different perspectives about people, places, cultures, and simply learning about the unknowns. The opportunities feed my wish to learn.  The same manner that people share with me, I like to do the same.

I am convinced and believe in destiny. The older I become, the more I understand that there is no such idea of chance.

When I experience a calm mental state of being, my sense of awareness increases. I tend to hear and listen to my instinct and inner voice and avoid external distractions.  The state of being grants me the opportunity to interact with people and to encounter what is meant for me to experience.

As I compose this on my iPoodle (Acer tablet), I am sitting in Orlando, Florida’s airport at Gate 31 waiting to board my plane back to New Jersey.

I strike up a conversation with Laura, who looks to be around my age, sitting next to me.   One pleasantry after another we chat and before I knew it, my son, Tailor chimed in on our conversation. He told her about our puppy Alex.  Pulling out his DS, he showed Laura pictures of Alex.  His animated chatter raised her brow and put a huge warm smile on Laura’s face.

“Your hair is beautiful!” Laura commented.   I smiled and thanked her.   She shared a picture of her new puppy, which was being held by a curly-haired, adorable little brown-skinned girl.  The adorable five-year old is her daughter, of whom she adopted.

In less than 10 minutes into our conversation, Laura and I discovered that while we looked very different and live poles apart, we share a few commonalities.  Laura Caucasian with pretty blue eyes on her way to Cleveland… me… well you know… brown-skinned, brown-eyed, curly girl from New Jersey…  had several qualities in common.

So what was the purpose of us sitting next to one another?   Laura has no experience in working with curly locks like her daughters.  She wanted to know how I style my hair and the type of products that I use.    I respect her so much for asking.

To be frank with you, I am often disturbed when I see a child of color, whose parents are walking around with untamed locks.  I try not to judge but wonder in frustration why the adult is not maintaining the child’s hair.  Sometimes I assume that they haven’t taken the opportunity to seek out the answers. Assuming is wrong; I know.

I am so impressed by Laura’s wish to seek out the best and healthiest solutions for her adorable bi-racial curly girl’s hair.  I graciously applaud her.

So many woman of color seek out quick solutions and erroneously and prematurely slap the crack (chemical) on what they perceive to be unmanageable hair of very young girls.  Why?  Because it’s easier than the daily battle of pulling through course, tight, and resistant hair. Because they lack the knowledge of the proper hair care curly locks.   Because our daughters see “straight hair” on television, in magazines, and on cereal boxes and want to look like what they are misled to believe is “normal.” Others want their little girl to have the long braided pigtails with a dozen or so colorful dangling bows.

Still Laura has chosen to find better and healthier solutions for her daughter.  I began to share my natural hair care knowledge with Laura.  We lost track of time and before we knew it, her flight was boarding so our chat was abruptly interrupted.  Time did not permit for me to give her the name of the products I use or the websites, etc…  So I gave her my email address and invited her to contact me to get the rest of the information.  I hope to hear from Laura; there is much for us to talk about.

She was happy to connect with someone who may be able to help and I was equally pleased that along my travels that I could help someone.

There is something innate within me that is greatly placated when I help others.   I don’t know what or why, it just does and it feels really good.

I believe that divinity placed Laura and I in the airport together and our meeting was meant to be. Laura’s desire to seek specific knowledge has put her in a place to receive it. She will continue to gain the wisdom simply by way of quest. My life experiences have taught me this; I know.

When we seek answers and knowledge, the process of “seeking” will draw the wisdom that we desire.

        “Use your life as a class.”
-Oprah Winfrey

 


10 lessons I learned from my natural hair journey

Nearly a year and half ago, my natural hair journey began. As life goes, the plan to go natural was unexpected and was not part of my immediate plan. I was in the company of a natural beauty and could not keep my eyes off of her lovely locks. They were gorgeous and flowed unlike any I’d seen before. I asked the name of her stylist and she graciously shared.

Not long after, I sat eagerly for a natural hair consultation with Rashida aka ShidaNatural at Kinhairitage Salon. Never before had any stylist take one hour and forty-five minutes to discuss my personal hair regime. During my session with Rashida, I learned more about hair care than I’ve learned in my lifetime. Cool!  Up to this point and before going natural, I was ignorant to the world of natural hair.

When I saw a woman sporting natural hair, I had no idea that their decision to go natural was just as conscious as my decision to use chemicals on my hair. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. I wasn’t totally naïve and understood that the choice to wear dreads (dreadlocks) is a conscious decision. But I’m just talking about the typical (if there is such), afro, twists and what I perceived to be textured styles.

Since I started this journey I’ve learned so much and would like to share 10 lessons that I’ve learned.

1. I learned to appreciate the natural beauty in everything, not just hair. While shopping during the holiday season, I observed a handsome elderly man, who had to be at least 80. I took note of his skin–flawless, smooth, with a rich chocolate tone. I longed for my camera to photograph him. His face wore wrinkles, but I saw beauty in them. Immediate below his aging brown eyes were a thick and even series of wrinkles. They reminded me of the ripples in a body of water that flows after it is disturbed by a small stone. “Awesome!” I thought. I really wanted to take his picture. Later I’m going to invest in a better camera and I am going to take it every place I go.

2. Transitioning from chemically treated hair is a journey! The process is called a journey for a reason. Imagine yourself taking a long road trip across the country. You would use a map for the journey; however, you experience many uncertainties along the way. Wrong turns, flat tires, over heated engines, and a sudden desire to turn back. Duh Tanya! That’s why it’s called a journey. I‘ve experienced all of those and then some. At the end of a journey, to which I have not yet arrived, you would probably experience a rewarding feeling of accomplishment. Pictures, videos, and long-lasting memories capture the journey. The lessons will last a lifetime. So will the memories of my journey.

3.  Appreciate the unpredictability of natural hair and the unpredictability in life.  My hair has a mind of its own. I can twist it the same every night, yet in the morning, the curls move in whatever direction they decide to go. I am a planner and appreciate an organized and chaos free life. However, in life, we cannot predict or control everything, so I am learning to have fun with it. When I’m driving my car and a slow-moving car gets ahead of me, I now appreciate the fact that the car is there for a reason. Perhaps it is not meant for me to be further along down the road. Especially when I’m in a hurry… slow down. Like in meditation inhale, hold, and slowly exhale. The slow-moving vehicle in front of me could be saving my life. I get it!

4. I’ve learned to read labels; not just hair care products, but food labels, cleaning products, clothing that I buy, and more. Chemicals are not friendly to my hair. Neither are they any good for my body, my home, or the environment. I am eating cleaner than ever, but still have ways to go. Eating clean basically means avoiding processed foods. I’m working on purchasing chemical free house hold cleaning products, which is a challenge. Bleach is my go to for everything. I love its clean fresh scent and its ability to effectively disinfect. However, it’s so bad for the environment so I’m looking for an effective alternative. If you have suggestions, please share.

5. I’ve learned to give enormous thanks to my mom for the childhood lessons on gardening. At home, we grew collard greens, hot peppers, green peppers, corn, okra, tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, and a few other items. I enjoyed helping my mom prep the soil, plant the seeds, keep up the garden, pick the foods, cook it, and finally freeze it for later. I never thought 30 years later, I would be planning my garden. I’ve convinced hubby to trade-off a small section of his beautifully landscaped yard for a gardening space. I’m siked! I’d better make sure to growing something that he loves because he is serious about his plush, manicured, weed –free lawn.

6. I’ve learned that YouTube is useful for more than watching comical videos.  I never imagined that I would be making products for my hair. Thank you Naptural85!  This is huge surprise. Thanks to YouTube and a huge community of naturals who share their knowledge with viewers. I’ve learned to make products for my hair and ways to maintain healthy hair. It’s actually fun and my hair is thriving! I’ve also learned that there is virtually a YouTube video out there to show you how to do just about anything that you want to learn.

7. I’ve learned that there is a large community of Caucasian men who are very much attracted to sistas with natural hair. Contrary to inaccurate media reports, there is a population of Caucasian men who are fascinated, attracted to, and are turned on by women who wear their hair natural. They are not all attracted to fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. I am no longer amazed by the reactions, but I was initially surprised at the responses.

One day while in a hurry and  buzzing through the grocery store, I almost ran over this tall, pepper haired and distinguished Italian “looking” male. Inches from his chest, I looked up and apologized prophetically. He greeted with me with a huge warm smile, and said, “Oh no, it’s truly my pleasure!” Lol! He was so damn smooth, I was actually a tad bit embarrassed. I’ve had  a few of these experiences and I will argue that it is definitely my hair. Why? Because when my hair was permed, I rarely received the warm and suave greetings, intense stares, and comments that I receive now. Lol! It’s an observation… I’m just saying.

8. My journey of transitioning from chemically treated to natural has taken me from feeling incredibly confident to insecure and uncertain. I’ll explain. Before transitioning, I was comfortable with my desired hair style and never gave second thought to what others thought. At the start of my natural journey, I was very uncertain if my hair was “right,” and how other naturals viewed it. Sounds crazy right? I wondered if my hair was viewed as a specimen that needed intervention. Were other naturals laughing at me? Did they see what I was trying to accomplish, but felt that I was falling short? Those were my ridiculous, insecure, and unfounded fears.

I’ve received nothing but support from the natural hair community. I no longer have these fears and they should not have existed from the start. But I know that fear is a natural part of human behavior. I have and continue to receive compliments from all sorts of folks. What surprised me most? Women have asked me for advice! I am NOT an expert. I just work hard to learn how to work with my God-given grade of hair and to find a regime that is working for me.

9. I’ve learned to appreciate my natural hair and to stop wondering and wishing why I didn’t inherit my dad’s hair. My hard-working dad was West Indian and Portuguese. His hair was fine and straight. He could not have worn an afro if his life depended on it.

As a little girl, I would sit on his lap and gently rub my hands over his head, enjoying the feel of his soft, smooth hair. He seemed to enjoy it as well. I admired the fineness and lack of frizz without the use of any products. I wondered daily, why I needed heat and grease to lay my hair down and he didn’t. At that time, I believed that he had “good hair.” When I met his mother, I wondered even more, what the heck happened to my hair? His genetics are strong; both my brother, my nephew, and I inherited every other physical characteristic of his, except for his hair. We got his physique, his lanky arms, thin legs, and even his veiny long skinny toes—in a headless line up, you know we are family. But not his hair—I’m over it.

10. Finally I’ve learned to appreciate my natural unaltered God-given hair. I realize that my hair is healthier without the chemical. Some hair textures can withstand the chemical process, but mine cannot. For years, I allowed my hair to be permed. After a fresh perm, I committed to a bi-weekly wash, condition, and blow out or a wrap. Slowly but surely, I’d slack off resulting in the predictable breakage.

I now understand that perms are not for everyone. I also under that natural is not for everyone. To each its own and just because I’ve transitioned, I don’t expect or persuade others to do so. If you ask me about or tell me that you’re thinking about going natural, I will share what I know, but I won’t tell you that you NEED to do it. Nor do I judge anyone who chose chemicals. I admire all healthy and well-groomed hair.

Natural at the age of 6

12/2010 Six months new growth (still have texturizer on the ends)

10/2011 All natural - no more texturizer

6/2008 I wore my hair short like this for 10 years. A Barber cut it & I texturized it at home.

Thanksgiving 2011 - Me & hubby