To Me, With Love

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 5:52 PM

"All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: that I am nobody but myself."
~Ralph Ellison, "Battle Royal"

Protective Styles - continued

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 5:11 PM

So, I took the braids out sooner than I expected. I fell asleep last night without wrapping it up, so this morning my edges were fuzzy. I took the braids out and here are the results. I didn't comb it but I did separate the hair and finger comb as needed to cover the parts. I wish I'd made the braids last the rest of this week, so I could wear my braid-out over the weekend. I had the braids in since Saturday, though, and that's a long time for me. I probably won't rebraid until Friday now.

Protective Styles

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 5:43 PM

"Always act like you're wearing an invisible crown." ~Author Unknown

For the most part, I have leaned on low manipulation styles more than protective styles to nurture my hair. I’ve known how to cornrow and french braid since I was a little girl, and in college you would occasionally find me with some type rows in my hair. I never could keep these styles for more than a few days because I would get the unbearable urge to brush and comb my hair. Secondly, I would get tired of looking at the shape of my head, or I would think that a certain outfit just didn’t go with the braids.

Once I was done with school and started working, I think that a third more subconscious reason kept me from braiding my hair. I wasn’t as confident in who I was, and I worried about how my braids would be perceived by my coworkers. I can remember a few times that I did wear braids to work, and I definitely felt uncomfortable. That discomfort was nothing more than my own insecurity. It just took me some time and growth to learn that. If someone had pulled me aside and made any type of comment about my hair, at that time I don’t know how I would have reacted, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have handled it well.

Jumping ahead to present day… Over the past three weeks, my area received about 40 inches of snow. As a result of being snowed in and laying around quite a bit, I didn’t want my hair just all over the place. I thought it was a good opportunity to put it up and give it a nice rest. So I co-washed it, oil rinsed it, blow dried it on low for some stretch, and put in three French braids. When I oil rinse, my hair is very moisturized already so before braiding each section, I just put a small amount of water-based leave-in conditioner and then some shea butter/coconut oil mix to seal. I left this in for days, then took the braids out one day when I finally got to get out of the house and the braid-out looked really nice. (sorry I don’t have any pics).

So, I did the same thing on Saturday and I still have my braids in at work today. I plan to leave the braids in until they start to look fuzzy, and then rock the braid-out for a couple days (will post pics)…then repeat. A couple things I’ve noticed:

1. I have to co-wash or at least oil rinse after wearing the braid-out and before I rebraid. It’s too wild trying to detangle from the braid-out.

2. I don’t like to wear braid-outs (or twist-outs for that matter) for more than a couple days. Even if it still looks pretty fresh, I think that this leads me to more fairy (single-strand) knots. I need to stretch my hair pretty often to cut back on these.

3. The poofier my hair, the better my braids look. I also like the way they look better when I braid with dry hair as opposed to wet hair.

4. To maintain the braids, I just spray lightly with some type of leave-in moisturizer and smooth my edges with shea butter/coco oil mix at night and wrap a scarf around it. When I wake up it looks smooth and fresh.

When it comes to going to work with my braids, I couldn’t care less about what anyone thinks about my hair. It’s neat and professional and yet still creative and reflective of who I am. I’m proud of my hair and proud of myself for going natural and growing into my own style. The way I see it, if people are unhappy with how I do my hair, or how I dress or anything about me – I use that energy to feed my confidence instead of detract from it. When you truly believe in what you’re about, you feel so good about it that even negative feedback feels right. When you are not sure, that is when it gets to you and makes you doubt.

Soul Mate Soul Quake

Sunday, February 7, 2010 8:16 PM

photo credit:

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so out of control that you have to transform your life..."

- Elizabeth Gilbert, is the best-selling author of "Eat, Pray, Love".

Sometimes you read something that really hits home and puts words to feelings and experiences you’ve had in your own life. Last week, a friend sent me the excerpt above, and I immediately embraced Elizabeth Gilbert’s interpretation of the word, soul mate. Of late, I’ve become quite disillusioned with that word...perhaps because I couldn't identify with the popular definition of it or at least, what I perceived it to be.

I’ve been reading fairytales to my daughter at night from her Disney Princess book and each and every one is about a princess being rescued and falling in love with her prince. I’m just not feeling it, y'all! I still read her the stories when she requests, but I have to add a dose of reality to them. Even though she’s only four years old, I don’t want her thinking that being rescued by some perfect man is the answer to happiness. The traditional idea of a soul mate makes people feel sad or unfortunate if they feel that they have not yet met their “one true match." You know, The One who will make everything easy, complete us, and magically make us feel happy and beautiful.

So many of us delay our own happiness waiting for this! Of course we all want to love and be loved, but unfortunately, we don't realize that self-love is a prerequisite and we find ourselves in unhealthy relationships searching for a man who will fill in the holes for us. Remember when Mary said "How can I love somebody else, if I can't love myself enough to know when it's time...time to let go?!" A relationship that shakes you up enough to make you realize that you must love yourself first, that person could be one of many soul mates that you will encounter in your life. Just perhaps.

Why is it drilled into our heads that we only get one soul mate anyway? Life is not exact like that and sweeping generalizations and made up laws don’t apply to matters of the soul.

As for me, I’ve always wondered why I could never stay interested in men that didn't challenge me. I thought it was a function of my dysfunction, if you will. Looking back though, I think I was looking for reflections of myself in someone. I mean reflections of the me that was hidden and would take a very special person to truly see and respond to. I needed to connect with someone bold enough to not only see but call out the hidden parts of me. Before I even was aware of it, my soul wanted to break me out of my well-intentioned but crippling, ignorant bliss. I had to meet my mirror to break down the illusions that I'd built and become the woman I was meant to become. Through him, I've learned to love myself. That's my soul mate.

What do you think? Remember, I like to be challenged. :)