For the Love of Locs: Take All Of Me or Leave Me Alone

Happy New Year! Of course, it’s mid-February, and 2022 has begun with a bang! I’m grateful to be here…still blogging…AND still LOVING my Sisterlocks! It’s the best hair decision I’ve ever made, and this year, during 2022, I’m going to do something drastic with my locs…major cut OR major color.

Work Look
Before the Temp Color-Plaits with Temp Color
After – Braid Out Close Up
After the Braid Out
Work ‘Do
Long Hair – I Care

Interestingly, I tried a temporary color this month, and I think I need to apply it heavier to get more noticeable results. The product smells nice, and I even thought it made my hair more conditioned (if that makes sense). Not softer, just more polished. The temporary hair color is called Gemini Naturals. If you want to try a temporary color that’s easy to apply and relatively inexpensive, go for it: https://gemininaturals.com/. There are several colors, and the tutorials are first-class. Beautiful Black women in all hues and hair textures are represented. I purchased Plain Jane (because it was on sale – no color) and Blush, a coppery tone, as the color.

I need to vent for just a few seconds. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m discovering that (a few) men are so audacious that they believe they can tell you what to do with YOUR hair. If there is something that I don’t like about a man’s physical appearance…guess what? He doesn’t have to worry about me in his face – at all. I’m not going to spend one second trying to change anyone’s physical appearance. Not so with (a few) men. They will wine you, dine you, read your blog about the freedom you enjoy with your beautiful loc’ed tresses – every entry, and then ask you…are you going to straighten your hair?

Dude. No. This is it. Love me or leave me. 🤣

All jokes aside, for me, it is really about respecting boundaries. I’m pretty set in my ways. More important, I’ve never loved my whole being at any other time as I love myself now. I’m so at peace and happy with every aspect of my life. Anyone who joins this peaceful space won’t walk into it asking me to change ANYTHING about my physical appearance. I’ve worked too hard, shed too many people, places, and things, and seen too many therapists to resolve that my hairstyle is standing between me and my one true love. God has a sense of humor, but not like that.

I said all of that to say this: we know, instinctively, when someone is (or is not) for us. If you meet someone, and you say, “He’d be perfect if…She’d be the bomb if…,” know that he’s not perfect, nor is she the bomb. Red flags 🚩 are God’s gift to those who are self-aware and seeking life-affirming, positive experiences and interactions with others. While physical appearance certainly is not the sum total of our being, we are drawn to what is attractive and aesthetically pleasing to us. I want an enduring love with a Black man…but not at any cost. If I must disengage from my loc journey to be with you, you ain’t the one for me. Look for who inspires the best in you and doesn’t leave you wanting someone else.

Until next time,

Andi D😘

Lengthy Locs and Summer Heat

Y’all…it’s hot! And I don’t just mean warm for the south. I mean sweltering, make you squint, sweaty, AC on HI, make you cuss, I can’t go to hell kind of hot here in Memphis and the Mighty Mid-South! The only thing I worry about during July, August, and September is how hydrated my body is because I know this will impact the health of my locs.

April 10th Reti

I’ve found myself hydrating constantly, but if I’m honest (and I always am), I’m probably not consuming the most advantageous liquids. I drink coffee EVERY morning. I mean the richest, darkest, most caffeinated coffee I can stomach, with heavy cream. Although coffee is brewed with fresh water, the drying effects of caffeine can counteract the hydration benefits.

Straight Hair, Don’t Care

I started drinking Kombucha recently, and while I want to believe it has some benefits for my locs, I’m not quite sure. According to the internet, Kombucha contains high levels of water-soluble vitamins, particularly; niacin, pyridoxine and ascorbic acid that function as antioxidant which reduces the oxidative stress and nourishes the dermal papilla cell thus reveals the ability of kombucha extract to enhance the growth of hair (DiBaise and Tarleton 2019). I’m not as concerned about growth, but the overall strength and vitality of my locs is important to me. I want my locs to stay long, dense, and strong.

The Grays Came to Play – Black & White
The Dreaded Work Bathroom Shot – Hair Poppin’

Now that the world has reopened, it’s on and popping for social drinking, open air cafes, and patio seating. In general, I drink more alcohol during the warm months. I consume plenty of sweet, bubbly, and sparkling libations during happy hours, dinners, and brunches throughout the summer. According to the internet, there’s no direct link between alcohol use and hair loss. I’m a bonafide social drinker for sure, but heavy drinking may lead to situations, like nutritional deficiencies or hormonal issues, that can thin out your locks. If thinning hair is a result of too much booze and bubbles, I’ll make sure I’m drinking six ounces of water for every one ounce of alcohol I consume during the warm months. Cheers!

Havana Nights – Loc’ed Cousins

The utter enjoyment of an occasional cigar, coupled with live music in my hometown, screams summertime fun in this heat! With me in this brief video clip is my cousin, who has maintained Brotherlocks for four years. He wears his locs in a bun much more than I do, but the after effects of a good cigar, smoky locs…not so much fun. It’s best to indulge closer to shampoo day because the smoke will linger if you are seated in a closed area or within a smoking bar. According to the internet, smoking tobacco can potentially damage your hair follicles and increase your risk of developing hair loss. As with all things, duration and moderation matters. A couple of cigars every month will have minimal impact on hair loss; however, that smoky hair is a game changer. There is additional evidence that grays may flow due to the tobacco exposure. I’d better quit while I’m ahead…literally. Even my eyebrows have gray hairs!

Loose Waves
The Neck Ponytail
May 25th Reti
Sorority RED-y

So, I said all of that just to say this – one thing’s for certain, three things are for sure… to maintain healthy locs during summertime heat:

3: Drink alcohol in moderation.

2: Limit the frequency and exposure to tobacco products.

1: Hydrate, hydrate, and HYDRATE, with non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages, at the start of the day, throughout the hottest parts of the day, and at the end of the day to beat the ravages of summertime heat. You can never go wrong with pure drinking water. It’s free or relatively inexpensive AND according to the internet, drinking sufficient water supports hair growth from root to tip. It also helps prevent split ends and brittle hair, as well as makes your scalp healthy. Water is also very important for regulating the circulatory system, which provides important nutrients to your follicles, thereby aiding hair growth. Stay loc’ed and not so loaded! ☺️

Until next time,

Andi D 😘

Why Do You Blog? The Evolution Continues…

Happy Resurrection Sunday, my friends! The first quarter of 2022 is coming to a swift end, and today represents the commemoration of Christ’s resurrection after crucifixion. As a Christian, Resurrection Sunday is the day to reflect on His sacrifice. He paid the ultimate price, for you and for me, and I am thankful for His sacrifice.

For those who do not have a social media presence, I’m often asked, “Why do you blog?” It’s a great question, and I try to answer that question after inviting a new acquaintance to check out my blog. I want to clarify that my blog is merely a glimpse into my life, but unlike my traditional social media posts, the audience for my blog is, I assume, a very different one than the friends and family I have connections with on my Facebook and Instagram accounts. Arguably, my blog entries ARE social media posts, but again, the audience shapes the content in a way that makes me understand that my blog is less personal, but more cathartic, for me and for my followers. Truthfully, my hair journey is a personal one, and the decision to share my feelings about my hair is an ongoing healing process for me. With every entry, I am able to help others filter through their decision to loc, share my evolution, and connect with those who are having challenges and successes in their own journeys.

In January 2016, when I began to research loc options, I struggled to find blogs that chronicled close-up photos and feelings associated with all phases of the loc journey. Most notably, I could not find bloggers with hair like mine, nor skin like mine. All of the well-known blogs had beautiful, statuesque caramel, mocha, or dark chocolate skinned loc’ed beauties with long, luscious, shiny locs. I couldn’t find a lighter hued sista with coarse, curly, inch-long baby locs who could help me visualize what to expect as my loc journey evolved.

The absence of relatable content opened up an opportunity for me to be of service to others, but to also work through my feelings of years of hair angst, salon visits, “in” hairstyles, natural vs. processed hair, and ultimately, my personal struggles with my body image. It’s been a journey, in the truest sense, getting to a place where others’ acceptance of how you present yourself doesn’t matter to you. Statements like, “Your locs look great on you” and “This is the perfect hairstyle for you” are not as well received by me because I have internalized a bit of “shade” associated with these comments. However, not all of those comments are vicious or meant to sting. I feel very strongly that locs look great on everyone who wears them. It’s a choice and an unpopular one due to many misconceptions and myths about locs. I most identify with my belief that locs are the perfect hairstyle for anyone who chooses them. In other words, if the “compliment” is cloaked in the sentiment of “it works for you, but not me,” I’m not too sure it’s a compliment. I’ll keep revisiting my perceptions.

I continue to blog because I prefer the thought partnership that comes to me through comments from my followers, but also friends and family members who may never comment here (but they text or call me). The number of international readers of my entries encourages me to keep posting, keep talking, keep sharing. I’m helping somebody somewhere.

2016 (first set of braces and pre-Sisterlocks)

When I look at Andi from 2016 above, the one who could have never imagined how this journey would transform her own identity as a Black woman and the one, in 2022, who confidently walks into a room – swinging long locs to the middle of her back – I understand now how impactful time and patience can be for someone who doesn’t quite have the vision, but is driven by the desire.

2022 (three months shy of Year 6 with Sisterlocks)

I blog for me. I blog for you. I blog for those who haven’t quite figured out what they want from their own loc journey. Just evolve…

Until next time,

Andi D 😘

Thankful for Love & Locs

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m thankful! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year because it is a time that I see, talk with, or hear from friends and loved ones near and far. It’s also a day that I’ll spend with my momma and that always brings laughter and lots of affection. For some reason this year, I’m reflective about my strained relationship with my late father. Perhaps it’s because his mother, my 104-year-old grandmother, passed away this past July, and this is the first Thanksgiving without her. Adele’s new LP, 30, and especially the lyrics of “To Be Loved” have me thinking about how I tried to love my birth father – as he represented himself to me – and I struggled to do that demonstrably. I’ll have to keep working to forgive my father for his absence and to forgive myself for feelings of shame and rejection that I carried for many years. I am truly thankful for the men in my life who served as father figures: my grandfathers, my uncles, and my male teachers.

Happy 53rd Birthday, Andi!

I turned 53 years old recently, and I have to admit…this is the happiest, most well-adjusted, confident, and self-assured I’ve been in the past five years. I’m gentler with myself because I’ve learned that my beliefs, my feelings, and my intuition matter. Listening to my inner voice has protected me, and while I freely acknowledge these are whispers of The Creator, I’m much more intentional about respecting these gifts. When I think about love and all that accompanies an open heart, I know, for sure, that I have lived long enough to appreciate what I can and will tolerate, shoulder, or deal with at this point in my life. Peace…nothing can willingly enter my life and destroy the peace that I have. Love is accompanied by peace.

Joy is the best makeup!

I’ve encountered a few “romantic interests” in the time that I’ve been divorced, and boundaries are clearly and swiftly established. From the hyper-sexual blast from my past, the unhappily married former co-worker, the second glance at a college friend, and the self-professed junior high school crush…the heart wants what it wants. The advantage of years of personal maturity and failed relationships helps me pump the brakes on those initial palpitations (lust) to respect and honor that those feelings can be fleeting. I’ve discovered that I need and desire a man who is intelligent, thoughtful in his expressions, and who consistently communicates with me in small and in adoring ways. I’m a “little sweet on” one man, in particular, but physical distance stymies the closeness we could share. Herculean efforts are just that…we both have busy lives where we live. I can find “things” that are attractive to me in almost any man, but if there is a hint of instability that could threaten the peace I value, it’s a wrap. I can be alone without being lonely.

Fresh Birthday Reti!

The end of this year and the beginning of the next will bring about several exciting changes for me in my career and personal life. God has kept me from depression, unemployment, despair, and hopelessness during periods of great transition, and I count my blessings every single day. I’m happy, I’m healthy, and I’m optimistic about every aspect of my life.

Watch out world! Here she comes!
Love.

Until next time,

Andi D 😘

Self-Care and Loc Care: Prioritize YOU

Recently, I felt badly at work, and as is customary for leaders, I pushed through; I chalked it up to seasonal allergies, an early fall cold at worse. By Friday of that same week, I had a dry, annoying cough. Again, I knew that my post nasal drip was on 1000, and the body aches were just a reminder that I needed to sleep and hydrate more. The weekend would allow me to catch up on my rest and take a few OTC meds to feel better. The next morning, Saturday, I awakened to a fever, headache, diarrhea, sweats, and body aches that made it challenging to walk. Rather than thinking what it might be, I thought about work…what do I need to do to make sure Monday happens without a hitch…how many subs will we have in place…who will cover the classes with vacancies…do I have meetings after school…should I go into the building to print the rosters…how many sodas and salads should I pick up at Sam’s for our Staff Appreciation meal. I texted my boss to let him know that I was not feeling well. Something was “off” about my health. Not usual for me.

Taking care of you means you are taking care of your locs

By Sunday, my fever, chills and sweats were still present, and so were the body aches and diarrhea. I still felt achy, but I got out of the bed to run errands for Monday’s staff meal and grocery shopping for the week for my momma and me. I managed to complete my shopping, dropped by the school to refrigerate the goods, and returned home to get back into the bed. I also scheduled a COVID-19 PCR test at a local Walgreen’s – just in case. On Monday morning, I texted my boss to let him know that I would be taking a sick day and getting tested for COVID-19. After my test, I returned home to rest. My fever was slightly higher, but not greater than 102, so I continued to take Tylenol and regular flu meds. My test results were expected the next day (Tuesday), so I continued to sleep, hydrate, and manage my aches, diarrhea, sweats, and fevers. On Tuesday morning, I did not go to work since I was awaiting my test results, and the diarrhea worsened. My senses of taste and smell were gone. I went to the minor med because I thought I might have the flu, and if my COVID test was negative, the flu diagnosis would explain my symptoms.

Mild fevers: 99.8-101 throughout the first 3-5 days
Feeling like I was looking – yucky, sick, and exhausted.

The flu test was negative, so the nurse practitioner told me that I “probably have COVID,” and she prescribed antibiotics, oral steroids, and a cough suppressant. A few hours later, my COVID results came back positive. I immediately texted my boss and called my district’s contact tracing hotline to inform them that I was positive for COVID-19. I concentrated on getting better for the rest of that week, and I returned to work, symptom-free, on the following Monday.

Super Woman – 2021 Remix

By mid-week, returning to work, symptom-free, but not fully recovered, demonstrates the many ways that we deny ourselves self-care. I was functional, but slow – not my usual energetic self. Staff members could see the change, and all I could think about is “push through, girl. Fall Break is next week.” I submitted my vacation days for Fall Break, and promised myself two things – 1) You will create an out of office email message and 2) You will not respond to work-related emails or texts unless it’s an absolute emergency. I honored my two promises.

Smile through it all!
Joy – truly is the best makeup!

Life will swallow you whole if you do not prioritize your health and personal well-being. It’s not a new message or reality, but for some of us over-achievers, hard-working, Type A, alpha female, intelligent, resilient, and thoughtful women, we need to focus on ourselves to be better for us – not just others. Dwelling in resentment because you’ve overworked, overdone, overstepped, over thought every single detail to make life easier for other people is how you die a slow death…feeling empty and unfulfilled because you’ve given so much of yourself with few returns.

Ready for Anything
After a week of concentrating on ME and taking the best care of ME

I’ll do a better job of balancing work and my personal life. This recent battle with COVID – and by the way, I was fully vaccinated (Pfizer) in February/March – let’s me know that this world goes round and round with or without you. I’d love to be around many more years to enjoy the fruit of my career and labor. Retirement is now within my view, but for the years of high-level and high-quality service I have remaining, I want to be physically and emotionally strong to give it my best. The last few weeks have taught me that saying “no,” when I’ve historically said “yes,” is how I will protect my peace and take good care of me. I’ll return to work this next week, after a full week of taking the best care of me, and do what is necessary until I walk out of the building. I’ll turn it off to take care of Andrea. And heyyyy, if God says so, I’ll wake up the next day to do it all over again.

Take care, and until next time…

Andi D😘

Year 5 is Sublime – Mature Locs

My Five-Year Locversary came and went: July 26th, primarily because I was in the throes of next school year planning with a new administration and emotionally/physically exhausted from very little rest or relaxation at the end of the last school year. Fortunate for me (and my Sisterlocks), my crown survived the stress and thrived.

Now that my locs are long, I’ve become less willing to do much at all to them. Honestly, it’s a challenge to shampoo them every ten days. I’ve become so accustomed to doing nothing. I love my loose locs, wavy or straight, and while I’ve flirted with the idea of coloring them, I’m afraid the maintenance of the color would be counterproductive. I’m not willing to commit to coloring my locs right now.

I am thinking about trimming my locs so they will be even in the back, but my cousin, who has Brotherlocks, thinks I should leave them alone. What say you? These are pictures of my last reti so that you can see what I mean.

Now that I’m single again, I’ve encountered some real characters. 😂 I’m always amazed by how forward some men can be – like their opinions about MY hair matters to me. I’ve never had the pleasure of “dating” with locs, so I figure any man who approaches me MUST KNOW that my locs and me…well, we’re a team. The financial investment, alone, is enough for me to pause; I’m not changing my hair for ANY man. I’ve matured.

When I think about maturity, in general, I think about being full-grown. My locs are now mature, but they are still evolving. How is that possible? Well, as I age, I have more grays. The length is also another part of the evolution. People often ask me how long will I allow my locs to grow. My answer is simple: as long as they will grow. Here are a few more pictures of the locs – doing their own grown thang.

I’ve been trying this product, and I can tell you that ALL smell yummy! My loctician, April, says they do not leave any build up on the scalp. Try this…if you have mature locs! Check out these black-owned products at: http://www.TheCloset17.com.

I’m still taking biotin daily; still hydrating well daily. Both of these are essential to maintaining healthy locs. My next reti is in the morning, and I can’t wait.

I pray that you, too, are doing well…thriving and surviving!

Until next time,

Andi D. 😘

January 2021 – May 2021: Growth & Gradation

The past six months, since my last post, have been a whirlwind of happenings in my professional and private lives. I’ve spent so much time reflecting, but very little of that time committing my thoughts here or in my journal – perhaps because keeping it together and managing change have been more instinctual and in the moment – too much happening much too quickly.

January 2021

The first week of January found me legally divorced and committed, more than ever, to resting my mind and body consistently. Early pandemic snacking caught up with me over the spring and summer months and by October 2020, I switched to portion control and fasting to get my weight to a healthier limit. By January, the signs were more visible that small changes were having a positive impact physically, but most people just assumed I was losing weight to accommodate my new singleness. 😂

January 2021

I started eating more animal protein, not every meal, but fish and shrimp first. Gradually, I added chicken, and some lean pork. I haven’t returned to eating beef, and I’ll probably go back to vegetarianism before I do. In fact, June 1st just may signal my calendar transition to a vegetarian lifestyle. It was good to me and for me.

January 2021 – Retightening
January 2021 – Retightening

I’ve finally begun to understand the importance of hydration. Not so much because of my hair, but how lack of proper hydration impacts my digestion and overall sense of well-being. I feel better, I sleep better, I look better when my body is well hydrated.

February 2021

By February, I was used to pandemic living and settling into the single life. Loving the freedom of movement, in space and in time, but content that I could remain friends with my ex. He really is a better friend to me, now that the expectations of partnership no longer envelope us, and I communicate with him at least once a week. I’m ready to open my heart again to the possibilities of a new relationship; peaceful communication, above all things, love can thrive in a peaceful, respectful environment.

February 2021
February 2021

March and Spring Break brought about the realization of the fragility of my mother. She had an elective knee replacement surgery, and I suddenly found myself focused on her…forced out of my selfishness over the past year…to take care of her financial needs, hospitalization, recovery, and rehab care. She’s had an amazing recovery, and seven weeks later, she’s back to work full-time. I managed to complete my second COVID vaccination shot in March – such a wonderful way to usher in spring.

March 2021
March 2021 – Fully Vaccinated

As April approaches, my work, my career becomes the major preoccupation. Testing season and the final quarter of school find me flexing my leadership muscle in unexpected ways. I am suddenly “in charge,” and trying to logically sequence the additional responsibilities I have, along with my regular duties, so that the ship can stay afloat. Our team is incredibly strong and resilient, so we take each day as it comes, communicate freely and frequently, and love on each other – especially when it’s been tough – to overcome the major work of this season. Every day is dynamic and remaining emotionally constant is how I endeavor to show up every single day. Most days I win; a few times, I’ve had to shed a tear or two to release the pressure.

April 2021
April 2021

Mentorship has sustained me. From my instructional leadership director to my leadership coach, these Black and Beautiful women, who both happen to be my sorors, support me during moments of sheer panic to realizations of innate competency. I count on their thought partnership and accessibility – whether that’s at 6 am or 10 pm. They are ever present and available to me. Asé.

May 2021
May 2021

Here we are now, at the end of May, almost halfway through 2021, and several months into new realities for me in my professional and personal lives. I am strong. I am capable. I am a hard-worker. I am loving and worthy of love. I am a care-giver. I am a peacemaker. I am driven. I am intentional in all I do. I am becoming and accepting of my purpose. All that I have and all that I am, I owe it all to Thee.

1 Peter 5:7-9 (KJV)

7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

May 2021

Until next time,

Andi D😘

Sisterlocks – Gray IS a Color

As I contemplate overall health, fitness, image, and spiritual changes for the new year, my Sisterlocks have become a part of the equation – to color or not to color? I’m 4.5 years in, and my grays (especially along the sides/temple areas and on the very tip top) are becoming more prominent. At 52, that’s no big surprise…we tend to gray as we age. As I scroll the pages of social media, the loc groups have me wondering, “Should I color my Sisterlocks?” How will coloring my Sisterlocks change me?

I’ve (drastically) colored/bleached my hair before. Back in the late 90’s and then again in 2014. Both times, I had lye relaxers and visited my stylists just about every week for hair maintenance. Both times, I leaned toward the old adage that “blonds have more fun,” and I had some length on my hair. I don’t remember much about any textural changes over 20 years ago when I was blond-ish, but for the 2014 blond-ish color, I do remember how light and how dry my hair looked and felt. Toward the end of that hair cycle of change, I wore braids to cover the blond. I was going through perimenopausal phases and thinking that the hormonal changes were affecting the condition of my hair. I, also, big chopped with blond, relaxed ends almost five years to the day, December 22, 2015.

I don’t have a “head full of gray,” but the gray I have is pretty wiry…and it likes…correction, loves to be seen! It just won’t stay (hide) within the confines of tiny locs. I’m concerned that coloring my Sisterlocks will weaken them, but when I consider how I lifted my hair with bleach AND harsh relaxers twice before and lived to tell the story, perhaps adding only color now won’t be so harsh. After all, I don’t have to worry about the double-process since my hair is natural.

Truth is, having locs, in general, makes you a bit…lazy. Once you discard the combs and brushes, the thought of having to do something extra to my hair causes me to pause. Sure, I’ll spritz the occasional rose water or loc oil on my scalp after shampooing, but will coloring my locs “force” me to add another step to my loc care? I’m thinking that I may have to add a leave in conditioner to protect my locs from dryness and breakage. I may have to increase my daily hydration. I imagine that sleeping, year round, with a humidifier will be a non-negotiable.

Another concern is my edges. 🥴Every black woman is concerned about her brows and her edges. ☺️ As my locs lengthen (and I have no plans to cut them anytime soon), I wonder will the color add stress to the fragile locs around the edges of my hairline. Those frontal locs, by design, are smaller. The locs in the back, along my neckline, are vastly different than the locs along my frontal hairline. The hair in the back is curlier and softer; not nearly as coarse and dense. While I rarely pull my hair up in styles to expose the back of neck or neckline, I’m acutely aware of its fragility on the rare occasion that I do. My neckline heaves a collective sigh of relief once I remove the hair tie, “Ahhhh, I can breathe.” My neck muscles can finally relax.

Now that I’m still wavering, because I’m usually quite decisive, I’m thinking that a temporary color may give me the flexibility of change without the commitment of the upkeep. Could a semi-permanent rinse be the answer to my dilemma? I used to get rinses when I wore relaxers, and the one thing that stood out to me was how shiny my relaxed tresses turned out after a fresh relaxer retouch and fresh rinse. The colors were always very subtle since my natural hair color is so dark, but the conditioning properties of the rinse made the temporary red, brown, or blue-black edges worth the trouble. I’m not quite sure how a DIY rinse would turn out though…I’d probably have color EVERYWHERE! All over my brows, lashes…yes, I’d probably make a big mess.

Fresh-faced and freshly shampooed locs, but that forehead pimple won’t let me be great! 😛

The year, 2020, has been a phasic cycle of great stress and turmoil for me. March through September 2020 will go down in my history book as some of the more transformational months of my lifetime. But not for all of the traditional reasons one would think. I crossed the 50 year old dash a couple of years ago, and my evolution just continues. Not that I thought the magic number would come and go, and I’d be stuck in a proverbial place of “contentment,” but where I am now (spiritually and physically) was simply unfathomable to where I was this time just a year ago. Thankfully, how 2020 started is NOT how it’s ending for me. More important, how 2021 will start – filled with anticipation, peace, tranquility, controlled exposure in every single aspect of my life – is exactly what I’m looking forward to in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Happy holidays to you and yours! 2021, I see you!! I can just feel the best is yet to come!

Until next time,

Andi 😘

Surviving Separation and Divorce During A Pandemic

One would think that, if you are an amateur blogger, you probably don’t have many boundaries when it comes to privacy. On the contrary, it is easy to be selective; I choose to share certain aspects of my life through my blog, and every word, every sentence, every paragraph is cathartic in some way. I write now to seal the healing and to officially announce that my marriage is over. We couldn’t make it. We deserve peace.

Now that I’ve reached the half century mark, I’m acutely self-aware: my happiness, my feelings, my peace, and the legitimization of those things is a daily goal. I work hard; I play hard; and at this point in my life, I am deserving of every bit of joy, contentment, love, and respect I can possess. Although it is true that no one marries to divorce, counting the costs of what you deserve versus what your reality serves has been an ongoing battle for me over the past 10-12 years. I am so proud of my evolution as a black woman and while it’s safe to admit that I’m in the second half of my life’s experiences, I’m going to spend this precious time pursuing peace, happiness, and contentment – barring bitterness, undue stress, anxiety, unmet expectations, loneliness, and utter exasperation from my heart and my mind. We deserve love.

It is so easy to reflect on what went wrong – what did he do to get us here – what did I do to get us here – why didn’t our marriage work. As for my part, I take full responsibility. Years and years of detachment, in the name of freedom from full commitment, have led us both to a place where the lumps in our throats wouldn’t go away until we called “it” out…until we admitted that we’re much farther apart than we are together…until we admitted that no amount of self-imposed discussion and finger pointing was going to clear the air…until we admitted that living separately was more invigorating than being trapped together. We deserve affection.

My brief marriage in the late 90’s and its tumultuous ending made me try harder in my second marriage – to be more present, to be more in tune with his needs, to be a nurturer, to be a good wife in all the traditional and modern senses. And while I didn’t always get it right in this marriage, I managed to balance my professional and personal lives pretty well. So much so that it has been surprising to most to hear me say that my marriage is over. I haven’t made a big fuss of it; I carry none of the shame and guilt I felt at the end of my first marriage. I suspect because infidelity was not our issue as it was in my first marriage. Infidelity creeps in like a thief and robs you of your self-esteem and self-assuredness, especially if those are not fully intact. Especially if you have not done the inner work. We deserve joy.

Sure, it’s a lot harder to walk away from a marriage when the “thing” is not as tangible as “a cheating or a beating.” You reconcile, over and over and over again, how this, too, shall pass and the emotional stress you’re feeling, in real time, will go away. And it usually does. You encounter issues, face them head on, and you move forward. But, I didn’t want to recognize that every single time I denied my feelings to keep the peace, to be stronger, to not appear needy, to allow him the space and time to just be…I denied pieces of myself that needed him. I denied myself the opportunity to grow deeper in love. I denied myself the gift of understanding him better. I denied myself the chance to have a taste of what unconditional love might feel like. We deserve understanding.

I see him now, and I’m relieved that we finally have admitted that we can’t fix it; it is beyond our repair. We’re finally at peace with the decision that our love story ends here. We will be much better individuals as friends pursuing our lives separately than we ever were as a married couple struggling to live and love together. I languish in just a bit of sadness because we should have been a beautiful, successful love story. We should have paid more attention to our collective and individual needs. We should have tried harder to listen to each other. We should have sought counseling early on and often to help us communicate our feelings rather than bottle them up until they burst. We both deserve another chance at happiness.

I’ll always honor the beautiful spirit of My Frank. I pray that he finds someone who is completely “sold out” for him and all that he brings with him. I wish him love.

Until next time,

Andi 😘

Living in a Virtual World…with Sisterlocks!

My Sisterlocks continue to thrive, even in during this pandemic. Thanks to God, I have managed to stay well and strong during the last six months, and my locs are maturing, greying, and growing each day.

It’s Labor Day! Now that I’m four years in and several of my friends are also loc’ed and loaded, I sometimes wonder why I didn’t lock my hair sooner. Without a doubt, before I got my install, I thought traditional locs were my only option. The maintenance of traditional locs didn’t appeal to me because of the product required, and the maintenance cost of Sisterlocks initially caused me to pause. As a professional educator, I knew I had to pay someone to “do my hair” on a regular basis (unless I wanted to use boxed relaxers at home and risk long-term damage, skin and scalp burns, limp strands).

For me, Sisterlocks has been such a wholesome expression of my own natural beauty and personal freedom that I have forgotten how it feels to wake up and wonder what to do with my hair. My installation and six-weeks’ maintenance cost has paid for itself many times over in less preoccupation and in fewer hours of sitting and waiting to be acknowledged, seen, assessed, shampooed, relaxed, dried, styled, sprayed, spritzed, and rescheduled to do it all again the very next week.

Ponytail Love: First Week of Virtual Learning – Wednesdays are always a good day to represent my Sorority ♥️🤍
Long Hair, Don’t Care: My Hair Appears Long in the Front, But It’s Actually Longer in the Back

Living with longer locs brings different concerns. I am not able to sleep with my locs free-flowing as I once enjoyed. Now, I must pull them up, away from my face at bedtime, to keep my face and skin hair-free. Every now and again, I can take a nap with my locs loose, but it’s rare.

After a Nap: The Secret Is to Push My Locs Off My Face
Ready for Night Night

My school district mandates the use of Microsoft TEAMS as our virtual learning platform. I’m constantly visiting virtual classrooms, so my hair needs to be neat and tidy. Updos and ponytails work on most days. But when I want to be free…

Footloose and Fancy Free
Braid out Beauty

Since my June reti and previous blog entry, I’ve had another reti. I have another reti scheduled in a few days-for Saturday, the 12th of September. Here are pictures from my July 31st session:

Living in a virtual world affords my hair all of the graces of indoor protection, temperature control and comfort, and freedom from the harshness of the Memphis heat and sun. I’m going to continue to allow my hair to grow and flourish under the watchful eyes of Zoom and Teams lenses. You never know who is admiring your journey and trying to decide if they want to take a magic carpet ride with you!

Until next time,

Andi D😘

Juneteenth Reti – June 2020

“Black freedom is, in the words of Harlem Renaissance writer Ralph Ellison, a ‘gaudy illusion.’ Juneteenth is more illustrative of the enduring hope of an oppressed people than an observance of Black emancipation.”
~ Tamara Winfrey-Harris, Author

In celebration of Juneteenth, today I supported several black-owned businesses, indulged in self-care, checked in with loved ones, and spent time with my momma.

Retightening from today (nine pics above) was a fantastic way to take care of myself. 🥰

Until next time,

Andi D😘

Pandemic Reti Drought is OVER! May 13, 2020

Hello, Friends! Not long after my last blog post, I felt compelled to ask for referrals from Facebook friends and work colleagues. I needed my reti (NOW), and I did not want to reach out, again, to my consultant. Her last communication, on April 24th, stated that she would “not reopen immediately” after the state granted permission for salons to reopen on May 5th. More importantly, she was clear that she would not consider an opening date until she could “assure the safety of all clients, my family, and myself.”

I’m not the pushy type; I didn’t want to continue to text her, repeatedly asking for a date…what’s understood doesn’t need to be explained. She wants to prioritize her family’s safety. I understand, I really do. Having small children and protecting them should be her most pressing concern as a parent. As an individual who has invested thousands of dollars on the maintenance of my locs, I also want to protect my investment. This meant facing my current reality: I needed to find another loctician to care for my locs.

During one of our daily chats, my cousin, Randy (who also has Brotherlocks) and I decided that we did not want to continue to wait indefinitely for our next reti; we both have the same loctician. So, I reached out, and one of my friends referred me to her new loctician. My friend was recently established and thought I might like her. She gave me her contact information and the rest is…history.

As I think back on my decision to transfer to a new loctician, a few things stand out to me about Daphne @ http://www.bittylocs.com:

1) Daphne has an established local business in Memphis and has done business in Georgia. Her local business is thriving; its centrally located in the city, and 20 minutes closer to my home.

2) Daphne’s website was easy to follow, services were clearly ordered with pricing. Her pricing was on par with my last loctician, with multiple payment options.

3) Daphne’s booking system offers the client control of the date, time, and type of service, along with email confirmations and text reminders. I am not a “diva,” but I am a busy, working professional, and I need you to communicate well with me. She was “bout her business.”

4) Daphne followed up, via text message, prior to the day of service; she communicated well throughout my initial inquiries and the days leading up to my reti appointment. This is the type of responsiveness that I expected and needed to shift my coinage.

5) Daphne wanted to “see what she was working with,” so she asked for pictures of my hair prior to the consult. Easy for a blogger and regular selfie taker like me. 🥰

6) Daphne has a clean, aromatherapy-infused, personalized salon space which offers client privacy, direct access to a restroom, and close proximity to a shampoo station where my locs were thoroughly cleansed amid a soothing hot steam shampoo.

7) Daphne takes her time to ensure that every single loc is retightened. Her conversation is genuine, peppered with humor, and it was a pleasure getting to know her as she worked her magic on my locs-which were in a serious state of some much-needed love after 13 weeks and 93 days.

Here are the pictures I sent to Daphne (don’t judge me 🤣):

I learned a couple of new things about my hair care from Daphne:

1) The bunching at the ends of my locs (especially in the back) makes it a challenge (and uncomfortable for me) to retighten some sections of my hair. The bunching was not controlled by the consultant who established my locs after a year of retis, nor was it discussed, as a concern worth correcting, during the three years spent with my previous loctician. During my initial consultation and visit with Daphne, her assessment of my locs was the first time I knew this “condition” has a name and a “cure.” We’ll work on unbunching my loc ends over time.

2) Retightening my hair while damp/wet eases my reti discomfort; I’m “tender-headed.” 😫 However, once my hair fully dries after a retightening, the loc base expands, which causes follicles to pull out and break. White follicle bulbs were present in my locs. We will watch this overtime. I will continue to feed my body and hair extra supplements and more hydration to help keep my scalp and locs healthy and strong.

My cousin, Randy, saw Daphne for his reti the day before me. His 96-day drought ended on May 12th:

The very next day, May 13th, Daphne greeted me at the salon door with a big smile and a hug. My 93-day reti drought finally ended. Here are pictures of my fresh reti:

Y’all see all those silvery strands? The gray is slowly creeping in…at 51, I have no intentions of coloring my gray. My mom’s hair is totally silver. We shall see…

The shots below also are post-reti pictures using a different camera:

I haven’t taken very many cute selfies since my last reti, but you know me…I’ll be back! 😘

Until then,
Andi D 😘