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 😘

Loc’ed Up During A Pandemic – March, April & May 2020

Hi, everyone!

12 Weeks

My last retightening was February 9, 2020, so it’s been just over 12 weeks since my last salon visit. Now that we are living through a pandemic, all hair salons and businesses are on hold; it’s becoming more distressing by the day. I’m concerned about my locs…not worried, but concerned.

While my hair appears to be strong and healthy still, I can’t help thinking that it is becoming more fragile because I have so much new growth. My fear is I’ll have to learn how to reti my own hair or look for someone who is ready to return to work (perhaps in their home) if my consultant doesn’t schedule me soon. I’m trying to be patient and safe; my consultant has small children, so I understand her need to protect her family. I, on the other hand, do not have children – just a husband, who is perhaps more challenging to handle than her little ones. 😀

Here are a few pictures from that February reti…and beyond.

After the reti, I wore my hair pulled back a few times.

TGIF! Looking Like My Momma
That February Reti is Still Looking Good
The week of pre-Spring Break

I went on a Spring Break cruise to the western Caribbean March 12-16…returned stateside to a whole new world, one controlled by the fears of COVID-19. Upon returning, it was time for my next reti by week’s end, but it just couldn’t happen – the state shut down all hair service businesses and panic set in among the community.

Outside by the pool: Zoom calling with staff

I’m hopeful that I will hear something soon about when my next reti can happen. Until then, I’ll just continue to shampoo my locs to keep my locs pollen-free and my scalp squeaky clean, and pray for the best!

Until we meet again,

Andi D😘

Thankful for Loc Freedom!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, my friends! Work has me busier than a Queen Bee; finding the time to blog has been next to impossible when sleep is a priority. The older I get, the mire I appreciate a slower pace and the solitary urgency of self-care. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year-probably because it was the last one I shared with my maternal grandmother before her 2009 transition to her heavenly home. This has been a transformational year for me-moving from the half century mark to beyond. I’m grateful for so much over this past year. I’ve experienced a heap of “newness” – a new job, new role, new car, new way of eating, and just a renewed attitude!

For this Thanksgiving blog entry, I’ll post pictures of my last two retis-from the first week of October and just a week ago in November.

October 2019 Reti with April:

Just a cute picture…representing Orange Mound, TN 🍊🍊 during Homecoming Week at my school.

On a Fall Break cruise with my cousin, Randy, mid-October. He wears Brotherlocs!

Just a growth comparison…this was us two years ago, October 2017, on another cruise!

Back to the mid-October 2019 cruise. A couple more pics of us chilling in the Caribbean.

Guess who celebrated a birthday recently? 🙋🏽‍♀️ Here I am (below) with my husband about to head out for a bite to eat on my birthday.

And a happy birthday to me it was!!!

Here I am on my way to work, rocking the updo…you can tell it was time again for a reti! 🤣

Speaking of retis…here are a few pics from my November 2019 Reti:

Representing the World’s Greatest Sorority later that evening – fresh Reti.

Here I am today, November 25th…at work, trying to get ahead of my paperwork before the holiday rush comes.

And by comparison…me, two years ago, same outfit, baby locs. 🥰

Whether you are spending Thanksgiving Day with family, with friends, or just alone…wishing you a peaceful and safe holiday!

Until next time,

Andi D😘

Insomnia – How Many Sisterlocks Do You Have?

When my Sisterlocks were installed July 2016, people would ask, “How many Sisterlocks do you have?” They always seemed shocked because I didn’t know. While I was thrilled to finally throw away my combs, picks, and brushes, my first consultant did not count my locs, and I did not care how many there were…I was just glad to have them. I read so many posts on social media with newly-loc’ed sistas sharing “the magic number.” Although I never took the time to count my own locs, I have, however, wondered over the years just how many Sisterlocks are on my head.

Years one and two certainly never found me curious enough to actually sit down and count my Sisterlocs. After all, why does it matter? Interestingly, if your hair isn’t an ever-present concern, one of the many joys of aging is the inevitable insomnia that you will encounter. What, exactly, do you do when you can’t sleep? As a menopausal black woman, I’ve decided that hormone therapy is not for me, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve experimented with several homeopathic remedies to help control some of the side effects of menopause. One thing is true: a bedside fan is a must, and I try to carry a decorative hand fan in my bag just in case a hot flash hits me. I’m not the biggest fan of soy, but I found some relief with black cohosh, and most recently, transitioning to a plant-based diet. I’m convinced that eating plants will, ultimately, provide other health benefits. I’m putting all my eggs on the recent change in my diet and taking it one day at a time as far as the nutrients and foods I consume. Despite my best efforts to get the proper amount of rest, I still end up at 2:00 or 3:00 am, at least once a week, staring at the ceiling.

When I have these bouts of insomnia, I usually read The Word, pull out my computer to get some work done, watch tv, or surf social media to catch up on all I missed during the previous week. My husband travels for his work, and when the insomnia rears its head in his absence, I take it in stride because, as a school administrator, there’s always something that I can do until I fall back into a deep sleep. Tonight, well this morning, happens to be my next retightening, and I find myself wide awake three hours before my alarm is set to awaken me to shampoo my locs and make my way to my consultant.

Instead of doing the usual, I decide, “Hey, Andi! Let’s count the Sisterlocks!”

Nothing fancy for the count…no pomp and circumstance. I crawled out of bed, grabbed a bunch of ponytail holders on my way to the bathroom, closed the door so I wouldn’t wake up My Frank, and began to grab locs, counting one by one, bundling and banding handfuls of 50 locs at a time. Around 250, your girl had a bit of fatigue…not just from counting over and over again, but the way my chubby arms are set up… You get the point. 😜

So, what’s the magic number? After three years and one month of having a head full of locs, I’m proud to announce that the magic number is 380. Yes, I am crowned with three hundred eighty Sisterlocks.

Now that I know that my consultant touches 380 locs every six weeks for my retis, I’m truly in awe. 😍

Here are a few pictures from today’s retightening:

Before the Reti

After the Reti

My Sisterlocks are getting longer every single reti. All 380 of them!

Until next time,

Andi D😘

Celebrate! Locversary – Year Three!

It’s my locversary! Year 3 brings incredible length, improved volume, and the healthiest hair I’ve had in the last 25 years of my life. Below are some images I’ve taken during the six weeks since my early June reti and last blog entry:

Three years ago, I was preparing for this journey and growing out my TWA so it would be the perfect length to start my Sisterlocks. The six months before, from big-chop to install, found me fascinated by the process, researching loc phases, connecting to others through social media, and patiently waiting, just waiting for my install weekend. It took two days; we spent five or so hours each day installing my Sisterlocks. For me, I was embracing the old adage, “How it starts is how it ends,” so I wanted great care to be taken during my install to ensure not only the look I wanted, but also the overall health of my scalp and hair.

Here are my Sisterlocks on Day 1-immediately following my install:

Sometimes when I look at pictures of my hair from install until now, I’m amazed. It was a bit spacey and reminiscent of the varied textures of my ‘fro: straight, curly, frizzy, coarse, soft, wavy, and short. I was so proud of my baby locs, and I remember feeling anxious for others to see them. Without a doubt, it was a freedom that I never quite had known until that moment. My babies shrank to half their size, over the course of the first week, and I became obsessed with its texture and look. Not having to comb my hair was such a novelty; I tossed my combs and brushes into the garbage like some kind of liberation ritual.

Here I am today following my retightening session…three years post-install, and all I can say is:

BEST HAIR DECISION…EVER!!!

Until next time,

Andi D😘

Top 10 Reasons to Get Sisterlocks-Almost Year 3

Reason #10 – Time is Money:

The time that I save getting ready every morning for work, church, just to go for a walk, every social outing, every drive past the beauty supply store, every time I don’t have to read a hair product label is time saved. Before locs, I was spending 1.5-3.0 hours in salons weekly for varied services-shampoo and set, color refresh, relaxer retouch, or precision cuts. Every moment that I can just be me, without worrying about my hair, saves me time and ultimately, that extra time saves me money.

Reason #9 – Maintenance is a Breeze:

I shampoo my hair every ten days with a $1 shampoo. I use rose water spritzes every other day to refresh my locs. My retightenings happen, like clock work, every six weeks. My consultant retightens every single loc each time (over 400), and it takes about four hours.

Reason #8 – Product Junkie No Más:

When I was a loose natural, I could have opened a store with all of the products I purchased. It was necessary; I learned so much about my natural curl pattern and the types of products my hair craved, but with Sisterlocks, no extra products are needed.

Reason #7 – Compliments Galore:

No matter where I go, no matter what I do…there is not one day that goes by that someone does not verbally appreciate the look, feel, or patience I must possess to wear my hair loc’ed.

Reason #6 – Money Cometh (Over Time):

The install of Sisterlocks is an investment, and if your hair is dense or long, you’ll drop a pretty coin for the install-anywhere from $350-$1500 depending on the market or region. The six week reti fee is less than what one would pay for six weeks of traditional salon services. Over time, the install investment pays for itself.

Reason #5 – Vacation is Vacation:

Worry-free hair makes vacation time all yours. You can engage in all manner of water, air, and land sports without worrying about your hair – before, during, and after the activity. You still can cover it or shampoo away the residue of a day of fun.

Reason #4 – No “Ugly” Phase: I was anxious to embrace every phase of the evolution of my locs in order to appreciate the growth from start to finish. From the curly worms of baby locs to the length of teen locs, at almost three years in, my locs never went through an “ugly phase” – mentally, I was all in, and I never cared about scalpy retis or what others thought about my hair. It was doing its own thing, and I was 100% vested from the start.

Reason #3 – Sweet Inspiration for Others: For friends, family members, and strangers alike, my locs can inspire others who may be on the edge of deciding whether to take the plunge. Maintaining locs requires patience. If you lack the patience to experience the evolution of your locs, this process may be a challenge for you. Returning to the alternative posed a bigger challenge for me than being patient and allowing my locs to grow, change, and evolve.

Reason #2 – Blogging (Look Like Me): In December 2015 when I big-chopped my relaxed hair, I could find no blogs with black women, who looked like me, with Sisterlocks-from install to growth spurts-so, I was driven to blog about my pre-loc state of being and the entire loc’ed process. I happened upon beautiful blogs of caramel-hued sistas with locs down their backs, but none with the initial starting point. I wanted to know what others with Sisterlocks were feeling, their insecurities, their challenges about their professional image…I wanted to feel a kinship, but also display images of my hair as it evolved weekly, monthly, annually. Blogging gave me a platform to discuss my hair and my newfound hair freedom.

Reason #1 – Styling Freedom: Perhaps the top reason for choosing Sisterlocks, interlocks, microlocks, or traditional locs is the freedom you gain from being able to wear your hair in so many styles-loose, updos, braided, twists, curly, ponytails, Bantu knots…you name it! The versatility is endless, and I can change my look daily if I want to do so.

Here are a few pictures from my final reti (6/2/19) before Year 3:

What a difference a year makes!

I’ll be back in mid to late-July to celebrate the next milestone!

Until then,

Andi D😘

Two Retis Until Year 3 – Growth Spurt!

One of the most noticeable changes in my hair, two years and nine months into this journey, is the obvious growth that accompanies minimal manipulation and “processing” of my hair using heat and commercial products designed to tame, smooth, and moisturize my hair. Less is more with Sisterlocs, and each retightening cycle proves the validity of this truth. For so long now, I didn’t see how the sides of my hair could possibly catch up with the back, but a growth spurt has inspired a definite change. The pictures above and immediately below are from my Good Friday reti, April 19th.

I am still taking one 10,000 mcg of biotin daily and a daily multivitamin for 50+ women (with my evening meal). I continue to spritz my locs with a prepared rose water and glycerin solution by Heritage Store (available on Amazon) every other morning. I give my edges extra attention with the spritz to ensure they are properly moisturized. You may find, like me, that your frontal edges are most delicate and can become dry and brittle without extra care. My theory is the daily face washing with cleansers and makeup application and removal subjects this facial area to more manipulation and drying agents.

During the time between now and my last reti in March, I experimented with a day of shampoo braiding of my hair which gave it a soft wave. The results are below:

Toward the end of the pre-Good Friday reti, I pulled up my hair in a poof. While my edges are not smooth, I still believe that to stay true to my belief that less is more with my hair, my journey will not include smoothing, processing, brushing, gelling, and combing edges to give them the classic smooth look. I’m happy to be nappy (and as it turn out-gray)! It was reti time for sure, but I was ready for work and looking cute! 😍

As I notice more and more wiry gray strands, I contemplate color…but I flinch when I think about how color may change the texture and feel of my hair. Just a thought…to be continued…

I’m going to wear one of my Loc Socs more this reti cycle to see if it makes a difference in taming my frizzies. My locs are still evolving, and most of them are frizzy in the middle of the loc. I’m committed to the ten-day clarifying shampoo cycle still, and I’ll add an apricot and grapeseed loc oil by Tiffany’s Loc Jewels. You can check out her products here: https://tiffanyslocjewels.com/. Makes your locs smell yummy!

The growth spurt continues…as you can see from my latest reti results above. I’ll return with an update after my June 2nd reti to let you know how the Loc Soc and loc oil changed my locs.

Until then, Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Andi D😘

2.75 Years Loc’ed!

Happy New Year, my friends! I know it’s mid-March…it’s been some time since I posted a new entry. I must chalk it up to being busy-acclimating to my new job and returning to work, in general. Having a few months off was great, and now that I’ve returned to the work I love, it seems my hair is thriving, too! Below (camo jacket with Vandy alumni tee) is a pre-reti pic I took nine days before my scheduled retightening in late January.The pictures (above and below) in the red tee are from my January 27th retightening. I asked my consultant to display the parts so that you could see more “scalpy” images to get a sense for how much work it is to maintain your locs properly. She touches every single loc, each time I have my six-week retightening sessions. I prefer to come to her with my hair freshly shampooed (the morning of my reti).As you can see, the locs are varied sizes, lengths, and shapes. They are each evolving in their own way. The pictures below are from my most recent reti, March 9th. I’m noticing that my locs are a little less frizzy and more defined. Now that warm weather is on the horizon, they’ll get an opportunity to be more exposed to the sun and the ends of my hair tend to turn upwards – toward the sun. ☺️

Now that my hair is getting longer, I’m going to experiment more with twist outs and updos over the next few weeks. I can’t wait to share those looks with you!

Be back soon!

Andi D😘