Loc Journey Update

October 17, 2015, I started my loc journey.

Perms. Tracks. Braids. Twists. Loc extensions. Full weaves. I am certain  I have worn just about every style available to women.  Today women of all shades, colors, ethnicities can enjoy a plethora of hair styles. Pick whatever style that makes you walk out the door feeling like a million bucks, and it is yours.

On second thought.  That statement isn’t 100% accurate. Although I have the freedom to choose hair style, length, and color, others still do not.   Depending on your profession, your boss and the organization you work for, the conservatives  may  constrict your choice of style.

After my daughter’s employer updated their grooming standards.  She was given this directive.

Do something to your hair or don’t come back to work.

She sports a cool Mohawk. 

  
The style is some what of a coming out for her. She is conservative.  To wear a style that brings attention to her is something  mom does, not her.  Hehe! Finally in her mid twenties, my girl gives authentic living a try and breaks out with a cut she loves.  #happymom  

Within five months, the party is over.  :0(

Been there done that. 

__________________________

Growing up in a small predominately white town, where at age 12 mom sat in the car and I walked into the liquor store to buy her Tanqueray and Pall Malls with no questions asked, wasn’t a town where I saw anyone wearing locs. 

I have racked my brain to remember my first sight of locs. Probably Bob Marley. I doubt that I saw the style  in Ebony Magazine.  

Charlotte, I think, was the first loc wearing sista who I had any kind of relationship with. I met her through a mutual friend. Her locs hung down her back. They are beautiful, I recall thinking.  

Eventually I thought, by the age of 40, my hair would be loc’d.   

My estimate was off by 10 years but finally I started my journey. 

You might be wondering, what was the deciding factor?

Inspiration from my son, my cousin Curtis and my stylist and KinHairitage Salon owner Victoria. While my son is cultivating and exploring his sense of swag, Curtis and Vicky’s funky and brash styles envigorate me.  I can’t wait!!  I tell myself daily, patience girl!   At my high school I see more boys and girls confidently strut the hallways then I have ever seen before. I tell them they inspire me to stay on my journey. They graciously thank me. 

   
 

  

My favorite cousin… He’s so cool! 🙂

Everywhere I turn my head, I see short locs, long locs, red locs, blonde locs, foe locs, and more.  I love it!  Perhaps a more relaxed work environment paved the way for women and men to take the big step. We’ve come a long way, but I still don’t see any news anchors on the major news channels with locs. 

In the early 90’s, a former co-worker, Flo, sued an Atlantic City Casino who denied her the right to wear box braids and won. We scored!!! I wanted to wear braids but they were against company (another casino) policy. The thought of suing never occurred to me. I was happy she won her case. Flo’s win was for all the black women working in the casinos who desperately wanted to wear braids but were paralyzed by fear. Fear of losing ones job.   

Back in October, I walked out of KinHairitage feeling confident and excited about my next hair journey. My Locticican and salon owner, Victoria is my inspiration. Her locs are beautiful. She is beautiful. Her funky, eclectic, and cool sense of style is admirable. Did I mention, she knows her shit!   

 

  

  

After a week of spin class and lifting weights at the gym, my hair looked a hot mess. My best friend’s mom died and I could not bring myself to show up and support her with my frizzed out hair.   

No amount of lipstick, mascara, or eye shadow was going to fix my attitude toward my hair. I looked a hot mess. 

My hair looked bad. I thought I was ready for this part of the journey, but I really wasn’t ready.  

“Hair Heaven” is what we call it.  Another friend hipped me to this beauty supply store. You are greeted at the door with floor to ceiling hair. I am for real! Floor to ceiling hair… All around the store.   

I am NOT a wig person. Hot flashes make it difficult to wear a hat, but desperation will have you do things that you thought you would never do.   

Since that day, I have accumulated three favorite hats… Hahaha! Wigs. Responses to the wigs have been favorable. Even better, my locs hibernate nicely. All I do is moisturize and cover.  

 
My hair is washed retwisted an braided up.    

The back of my hair is shaved but has grown some since this pic. When the weather warms, I will shave the back again.

   The back of my hair. 

  

My first wig!!!

 
After wearing this one for a month, I ventured back to “Hair Heaven.”

 

Never did I think RED hair could work for me. Surprise!!

  

I found these fun shades by shoopbogaboga on Instagram.


  

This day it was COLD out. Pulling a hood over big hair is tricky.

  
 In this picture, I had just level work. I am in my car headed to the gym.  While sitting at a traffic light, I snatched the wig off and put my scarf and hat on.  🙂

I grew comfortable with the vivactious red and went back to the store for another one.  Lol!

   
 

My cousin took this picture during our family Christmas gift exchange. 

Today is 3 months and 13 days that I have my locs.  A week went to see my stylist for loc maintenance.  I am surprised by the growth and they are budding nicely. Allowing my locs to nest under a wig is helping the process.

 
I love my parts.  As my hair grows, the parts will give me greater styling flexibility. 

  

This is the back of my head

 
   
 
Love is in the air!  I’m starting to dig my hair.  My next visit will involve color.  🙂 

Will I wear a wig again?  

Mostly likely but only because, when I work out, I sweat terribly and my hair gets wet and messy looking. 

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to the freedom of the frizzy and untamed look, but my hair hasn’t completely loc’d yet.  As the summer near, the wigs will disappear.  Yay! 

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy day! Smooches. 🙂

Stop Being Afraid: Just Do It!

It is likely that at some point in your life, fear will prevent you from doing something. That “something” could be returning to school, making a career change, relocating to a new city or state, ending a toxic relationship, starting a fitness program, public speaking, starting your own business, or something else.

“Empowered fear is the mighty immobilizer.  tfc

The thing is, you give fear power by “living in your mind,” and the fear then becomes the biggest roadblock you create for yourself.  Instead of just taking the risk and see where your actions lead, in your mind you concoct absurd conclusions based on what ifs, and make  excuses as to why you cannot move forward,

In my early 30’s, occasionally I would see a sista with locs. At that time, locs weren’t as common and they were not viewed as socially acceptable or professional by employers and close-minded and uneducated people. Even today in a more liberal society, some people remain ignorant and believe the style is dirty, unkempt, and ugly.

Regardless, I have always loved their unique and free-flowing ability. Their lack of uniformity and rebel like style is appealing to me. When I see men, women and children sporting their locs, to me, they symbolize freedom and confidence. I especially love seeing Caucasian men and women workin’ the heck out of their locs and can’t stand when black folk of color take issue with them and act like the style belongs to black folk, but that’s a whole other post.

Why freedom and confidence?  Because of the mass confusion and general lack of knowledge about locs, people are often judged, snubbed, and ridiculed for taking a liking to the style.  Some level of confidence is inherent to comfortably and confidently wear the style.  Ask anyone wearing locs. They can tell you about the ill-mannered questions, statements, and odd looks they receive.

Nearly three years ago, when my son began his Loc journey, a woman thought she needed to correct me about decision to wash–that’s right–wash my son’s hair.  Smh! This black woman was convinced that my son’s’ hair would not loc if I continued to wash it.

Depending on the hair, the process can take months… many months. That notion is foolish and makes no sense because the water, I learned from my son’s professional Loctician, help the hair hair  loc),  Included in my son’s’ loc maintenance is always a good shampoo. His hair Loced with no problem.

As I sit and write this, my heart started beating fast again! Lol!! I am one hour and six minutes aways from a new chapter in my life.

While I am writing about the start of my loc journey,

this post is more about overcoming and conquering fears. 

After months of  serious deliberation and weighing the pros and cons of locing  my hair, I committed to begin my loc journey.  “I am expressing my creativity…” Lauren Hill, I Am Not My Hair.What took me so long?

I was afraid. Yep, there goes that immobilizing word again. FEAR!!!!!!

Afraid that I would not like the style.

Afraid of the early frizzy stage.

Afraid that if I changed careers, the style would beome a barrier.

Afraid that my locs would not be as pretty as my sons, my cousins or others.

Afraid that my busy schedule would not allow me to keep up the appointments.

Afraid of what I would look like with tiny coils in the early stage.

Afraid of not looking attractive.

Afraid of looking my age.

When I read over the list, I think to myself, “girl that is stupid!” Stupid but real.  You feel what you feel.

So how did I get over the hump?

Three weeks before my loc appointment, I decided to do something that I have not done before. Install small two-strand twists and wear them to work.

Th twist were a huge contrast to the big puff I wore all summer. Lol! After twisting my hair, my head looked so flat and small. While I was not convinced the style complimented my facial features, I pushed the thought to the back of mind, added more mascara, puckered for my favorite lip color, and kept it moving.. Lol!! The style definitely changed my appearance and this took some getting use to.

Now for the positive. For two weeks, I did not have to style my hair. With my active lifestyle, this was a bonus. As each day passed, I became more comfy and cared less about what anyone thought. I felt free from the daily grind of styling my natural hair.

During the two weeks before my hair appointment, I continued to gain inspiration and knowledge from bloggers and photos on Instagram and Pinterest. People don’t always realize how much they help others by posting pictures and by sharing their personal journeys.

The bottom line is, I simply made a choice to stay with my theme of living an authentic life and to do exactly what I have been wanting to do without looking back.

Fast Froward…

On Saturday, October 17, 2015, my loc journey officially began.   🙂 
The night before my appointment, I decided to flat twist my hair…  Lol!  Bye-Bye products!!


Drum roll……



My coils are so tiny, but eventually they will expand… I am eager.


The first week has been an emotional roller coaster!!   My locs were installed on Saturday. Sunday I worked out and sweated like a dog.  Monday’s hair wasn’t so bad, but after Wednesday’s spin class, I was feeling uncomfortable with all the frizz.  I felt like my hair was going in every different direction.

On Thursday, I wore a loc sock, but I think it was a big fail.  Lol!! 
All week the natural chica’s in the office were so supportive and encouraging. By Friday, I felt raggedy and needed to do something.

My long time bestie was burrying her mother on Saturday and there was no way I could have showed up with my hair all frizzed up.  I looked a hot mess so Friday after work I found a solution!!

Ta-da!!    

I bought this funky wig!!  Now my locs are happily nesting under my temporary hair. During my loc journey and until my locs begin budding, I think I will bounce back and forth, in and out of my wig; it’s so much fun!!

Whatever it is that you’re thinking about doing, just go ahead an do it!  The outcome will mostly likely be better than you ever expected.

Keep it movin!!  🙂

My Figure Competition Recap

“Persistence. Perfection. Patience. Power. Prioritize your passion. It keeps you sane.”

― Criss JamiKillosophy

Since last week, I have been trying to sort through and compose all of my fragmented thoughts into a coherent blog post. I’m not sure that I’m quite there yet, but here’s a try.

To transform or to convert is to change

Once you whole-heartedly commit to bodybuilding, you experience a shift in your thinking and ultimately your body will transform into another entity.

“Whole-heartedly,” means not just consistently working out inside the gym, but more importantly, taking responsibility for your actions at home in the kitchen, in the grocery store, during your lunch breaks at work, at family and friends homes, the local convenient store, and while sitting at the table dining in restaurants.

It means committing to educate yourself on every aspect of developing and improving your physique.  Want better…Learn better…Do Better… It’s an ongoing and never-ending journey.

Deviation away from the model is, well– less than 100% committed.

There’s no critiquing here– I am simply putting the truth out there.  In terms of fitness goals, you set your own goals.  What you put into it is exactly what you are going to get out of it.  The process is not as complicated as people make it.  Most people want it but are not willing to do what is required to get there and it’s okay if bodybuilding is not for you.

But if you really want to get in shape, the commitment is the same. Forget all the crazy quick fix programs out there, because they are not lifestyle changes.  They’re a band-aid; a temporary fix.  Eventually you will return to your old habits if not worse. Okay.. enough of my tangent.

I brought up the topic of “change” first because I am still flabbergasted by how bodybuilding has sculpted my 49 year-old body.

If you are new to my page, this was my second figure competition.  May 2014 was my first. I swore to myself that I would be a “one and done” competitor; however, I was wrong. My friend, who has and continue to help me reach my fitness goals, told me that I would do it again.  Ha!  She was right.

So this second go around was different from the first show.  After my first show, I continued training. The weight training, particularly, has become an extension of my lifestyle. I have worked out all my life; running, aerobics, martial arts, and CrossFit (which I still love!). Healthy living has always been a part of my life, but weight training has elevated my game.  Lol!  I love the results.

Second Show Musings

My decision to compete came about some time in December ’14 and only after nudging from my friend.  I figured, since I was already training, why not just do the show. The show was close to home and smaller than the Brick show.

The mechanics of how the body changes is an amazing process.  My first show was all about getting stronger so I could lift heavier and build muscle.  I never stopped training after the Brick show last year, so the strength was there and I could lift heavier.

On average, working around my son’s basketball schedule I trained three to four days per week; occasionally hooking up with my friend. The last two months, I worked out more like five days a week.

Seven Days Out

The week before the show, was hell! Yes, I said it!  Lol!

I weighed more going into it this time, which is good.  However, to lean out  I had to make two dramatic changes.

  1. Do cardio training twice a day
  2. Consume a strict diet of greens and proteins

During regular training, my daily caloric intake was 2400-2700.  By the week of the show, my caloric intake reduced to 2200.   Please don’t mimic this.  Every human body is different. What works for one person probably will not work for another.  This regime was completely different from my first show.

So what made the last week so ugly?

  1. Every morning after using the bathroom, I weighed myself, while hoping and praying I dropped at least a pound.  Chile,  this isn’t my normal!  I rarely get on a scale. My clothes pretty much tell me how what I weigh.  If my pants are tight, I gained weight, if they’re lose, I lost weight.   I didn’t like the anxiety that came along with the anticipation of meeting a “weight” goal. Ugh!
  2. I did cardio before work at 4 O’clock in the morning and after work!  “Cardio” consisted of 20 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  What’s this?
    1. Something like….   25 jumping jacks; 10-15 push ups; 30 seconds of mountain climbers, planking then repeating the exercises for several rounds.
    2. I also used the treadmill:  Walking on an incline for a minute or two; running for a minute at a speed of 6.0, and then walking with no incline for a minute–then repeat.
    3. To mix it up and keep from getting bored, I incorporated Jacobs ladder and the beast The StairMaster
  3. Everyday I ate the same meal, chicken and spinach, every three hours: 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and 9 p.m.  chicken and spinachI was so darn tired of eating chicken and greens, I actually dreamed, maybe hallucinated, about eating ribs.  Hahaha! And I don’t even eat ribs, but I did in my dreams.  Oh yeah… You wanna know the worst part?  The damn chicken was NOT seasoned; neither was the spinach.  The bland spinach was okay, but the chicken– well you can imagine.  Half way through the week, I squeezed fresh lemon juice on the chicken; that helped a teeny-weeny bit. I don’t mean to gross you out, but when I pooped… that was dark green too!! TMI (too much information).. I know.
  4. I learned that water is a natural diuretic, which is why I drank so much of it. At one point, I was drinking two liters daily, but closer to the end of the week, I slowly decreased my water intake.

My body was literally under construction.  The cool thing is that everyday I saw subtle changes in my body.  My abs started coming through, and the muscles that I worked so hard to develop became more evident.

Note:  When you see photos online and in magazines of professional body builders, they have leaned out for the sake of the photo shoot.  Most bodybuilders do not walk around perfectly cut everyday.

Five (5) days out I was so wired.  Like hyped!  I don’t know why, but I had trouble focusing at work. I felt like I needed to go for a ten-mile run to settle down.  Lol!  I’m not sure if it was the diet, anxiety, a combination of the two or something else.  Thankfully, by Thursday, I was more settled.  I felt calmer but yet short on patience.  Hubby and B’Dazzle can speak on that.  🙂

Nearly every day, I practiced posing in the fitness room at the gym.

To critique my body positioning, I wore super short shorts and a sports bra.  You’d think I would be comfy with my body, but I was still aware of the guys who walked into the room to do crunches, to hit the bag or something else.  I learned to not care if they were watching. Wearing my ear buds, I’d “turn up and tune out”  turn up the music and tune them out.  Lol!  Occasionally I’d peep folks standing on the outside looking in!

I struggled with song selection. During the show/competition and after “pre-judging” each contestant is given the opportunity to strut their stuff for about 30 seconds. You can get very creative with this segment.  Small props can be used along with your favorite music.

While I had trouble coming up with ideas, my friend gave me a couple of cute ideas, but time and confidence was not in my favor, so I stayed with the basics.

My NEXT show–yup I said, it!  My “next’ show, I’ll do a little somin’-somin’  Heck I couldn’t even decide on one song.  I told my friend, “I’m not a stage performing” kind of girl. Give me a microphone and I will talk, but that’s it.   As a young girl, I wrestled and played football with the boys.  I didn’t take dance, gymnastics, or ballet, so coming up with some “girly” routine doesn’t come natural. I will definitely work on something for the next

Showtime

The day of the show, I woke up refreshed, but guess what?  Since I was only privileged to a “sip” of black coffee with no sugar, I skipped it.  I think I had like two ounces of chicken and a rice cake or two. Then the same thing a few hours later. Haahahahah!  I did talk about commitment right?  Actually, this wasn’t bad.

I was too busy trying to get my belly button re-pierced.  I think my friend hit the roof when I told her that on my way to the competition I was going to the parlor to get it done!  OMG!! Rightfully she was concerned about possible swelling or irritation.  My previous piercing got infected from the spray tan and closed.  I’d been meaning to get it redone, but… well, you know, my time is limited.  Anyways, I got it done.  I just had to have my belly ring for the stage.  Thankfully, I didn’t have any problems.  🙂   If you want something, go for it.

I arrived at the show and we (men and women) were jammed into a small room, where hair, make up, and muscle pumping took place. Although the event is a competition, most competitors are friendly.  I think there’s a deep level of respect because we all put the work in and made similar sacrifices.

Funny, I was the only black chick in this show. The show in Brick, NJ last year, had a hand full.  For whatever reason, we’re few and far between.  It doesn’t both me tho.  The first show I attended, as a audience member, I noticed that that there weren’t any women of color on stage– that is one of two reasons I decided to do it.  The other reason was out of pure curiosity of what I would like after training. Now I know! Hehe!

Walking on stage felt so good. I could hear my husband and friends in the audience cheering me on.  Talk about feeling empowered. I did have a hiccup tho.  I brought the wrong CD so I had to walk on a different song.  It wasn’t a big deal because my attitude as it relates to stage presence was in my head not in the music.  With that said, you bet it won’t happen again.

Overall I did well.  I was the only competitor in Master’s (40 years old and older), so I got first place.  I wish the division had others, but that’s for next time.  🙂

I placed second in Figure, Open B.  Due to the number of figure competitors, we were split into Group A and Group B.  I was in Group B and placed 2nd.  The top two winners in Group A & B competed; I placed 3rd in open.

Final Thoughts 

I was shooting for 1st in open.  I would be lying if I didn’t tell say that I was disappointed with my results, however disappointment is good for me.

Disappointment has made me assess all of the photos, mine and my competitors.

I critiqued my poses, my walk,  and my muscles to the T and know exactly what I need to do for the next show.

On the brighter side, I competed with and held my own against women who were much younger than I.  Now that sh** felt good!  Lol!

Equally as awesome is that many of these women are moms with kids.  One gorgeous competitor has five kids! Isn’t that wonderful!!  These women are empowered to care for their family and spouses, but also find time to engage in an activity that is important to them, which is what we all should be doing.

Don’t put your entire life on hold for your family; that’s ridiculous and, in the long run, you won’t be happy.  You think you will, but you won’t.  You’ll find out… maybe years later. Carve time out for yourself.  If you’re a mom and or wife, you will become a better person for doing so.  Life is short.  Yeah I know that’s a cliché, but it’s true.

Find your passion and go for it!  🙂

Back

My favorite picture from the competition.

 

The Conversation

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Pic taken before a big football game.

My handsome son B’Dazzle is 12 years-old.

IMG_1200

The recent killings of several young black men has been a frightening wake-up call.

My son too can become a victim of driving whilst black, walking whilst black, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, whilst black, being educated, articulate, and confident….whilst black, but be wrongfully profiled as being someone else….

… a drug dealer…a thug…a rapist…a killer..a kid up to no good…or some other derelict deserving of police scrutiny or brutality.

I don’t like it,  but I am just another mother of a black male who must have “the conversations” about how to dress and how to behave on the street, especially in the presence of the police.

Deny it all you want, it’s real! The black and minority men in my family and in my circle have too many stories of harassment by the police.

Take that hood off your head…

..is what I recently told my son.  We were at the mall shopping. His hoodie was tightly covering his head.

My son: Why?

Me: Because black men who wear hoodies on the street are often profiled (by non blacks and sometimes other blacks) in a negative way.

As we walked through the stores, the dialogue continued and he intently listened. He understood my message and quickly snatched his hood off his head.

“The conversation” isn’t new or revolutionary to responsible black/minority parents who are active in their children lives. The conversations have taken place for centuries.

It’s just that more recently there may be more of an urgency to having the talk.

In just a few years, B’Dazzle will be driving and enjoying more independence and is scares the heck out of me. Ignorance about his locs will add another dimension of negativity to the profiling ish!

In my neighborhood, I can count the number of boys on one hand, who look like him. I hope for the best, but realistically know that one day while walking, he could be stopped by the local police…

Am I just another paranoid mother of a black male?  No way!  I’m just another black woman who has hopes, prayers, and dreams for her son to grow up and become a dynamic black man who makes his contribution to society.  His life matters as all should.

“All Lives Matter” is the fundamental message of Nate Parker’s powerful film, #AmeriCAN. The video was created in response to the recent incidents surrounding the death of several black men.

Peace! 🙂

Random Cuteness

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IMG_7254B’Dazzle is so handsome and is proudly wearing his first genuine leather men’s coat today!  My baby is growing up!

Saturday this fierce little dude held it down in his position as nose-guard for our township’s Junior Varsity Football Team!  He is lean, well-defined, weighs 86 pounds, and 4’9″ inches tall… And strong as a bull. It takes two and sometimes three football players on the defenders offensive line to stop him.  Saturday’s game was a good one, but his team, the Eagles came out on top with a win of 14-12.  Yay!!!

Who says size matter?  Haha! Athleticism is much to do about heart, will, determination, dedication, and drive….  He’s got all that and then some!

Did I mention that he eats all kinds of veggies, including the one’s most kids love to hate like spinach, zucchini, and asparagus?  When he’s in the kitchen with me, raw onions, garlic, and colored peppers are his favorite snacks.  Is his unusual strength genetics?  I don’t know, but I know that good nutrition in kids matter too.  The earlier you start most kids on veggies, the greater the chances they will eat more of them.

Happy Monday; I hope it was a good one!  🙂

 

Behind The Scenes

Two days post competition turned out to be a perfect and my last day of “cheating.”  Lol!

A personal day off from work gave me time to enjoy a spa day. I took my son to school and immediately drove to the spa for a day of pampering with a girlfriend.

The Hot Rock Massage was exactly what my body needed and then some.  Just heavenly!  Massage…jacuzzi…sauna…steam room…pool…DRINKS!  Lol!  Oh yeah!

The activities that take place behind the scenes are just as, if not more interesting, than what occurs on stage.  Lots of muscle pumping, tanning, and prepping.  I respect fellow competitors privacy, so I won’t include any of their shots.  The vibe in the prep room is all good and I felt welcomed.

I received many well wishes lots of smiling faces.  I even received advice from the more experienced competitors, which I thought was cool.

Speaking of behind the scenes, I must give props to my seamstress, Decked In Diamonds, who did a phenomenal job on my suit!  Heeey!   We never met in person and all the measurements and fittings were done through the internet or snail mail.  And… she nailed it!

Well tomorrow, it’s back to the grind!

Happy almost Tuesday!