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😘

50 Years Old and Two and a Half Years Loc’ed

Happy New Year!

November 1st ushered in a milestone birthday for me: Welcome, Andi, to that Half-Centenarian Life! I can go on and on and on…and on about the hormonal changes, the metabolic changes, the mindset shifts, and the many ways that I am choosing to embrace being 50, and I’m here for ALL of it! Thank God that I’m in relatively good health (no chronic or debilitating illnesses), but I could stand to lose some weight and make time for consistent exercise. While I’m also feeling a need to accept some things about my body, how it responds to foods I love, and how much more important it is for me to balance comfort as the primary reason for fashion, I realize at this age, I really do think less of what people think about me – not because that’s naturally who I am, but because the energy I must expend to please others is just too exhausting. “Keeping up with the Joneses” by making sure I have the latest fashion accessories, highest-heeled shoes, expensive make-up palettes, spa-like body treatments, and trend-setting clothes is way low on my priority list. I’m pretty happy with extensive comfort and a self-care regimen that is consistent, scheduled, and centered on my hair, hands, feet, and skin.

My “crown of glory” continues to reign supreme among my self-care priorities. I remain on a retightening schedule of every six weeks, although my consultant and I are noticing a “growth spurt” over the past several months. I stopped taking biotin supplements for about six months and recently restarted taking one 10,000 mcg daily, so this may explain the spurt. I’m also lessening my sugar intake, so that may also factor into my overall healthy hair benefits.

Below are pictures of my November 4th retightening session. I asked my consultant to take more “scalpy” shots to show how each loc is sectioned. My hair is still evolving; the frizzy, fuzzy strands of this teen stage lessens each shampoo.

I’m still amazed by the growth I’ve seen within just a three month calendar span:

Below are pictures of my December 16th retightening session.

I can see the “hangtime” for real now, and I’m thankful that the versatility of Sisterlocks means that my thick hair is not hot and heavy. These hot flashes ain’t no joke!

Turning 50 and recognizing how blessed I am to still be here, happy, healthy, and among my good friends and loving family, means I get to do a few things I’ve always wanted to do. When I was 16, I had a left ear cartilage piercing that I allowed to close because it was taking so long to heal. Well, I revisited that piercing a few days ago and opted for a double piercing (both ears). Here’s the video of my right ear being pierced:

And the left…I’m telling my cousin, Randy, “It hurts, but it’s tolerable.” I plan to have many more experiences like this in 2019. After all, YOLO!

January 2019 will bring new opportunities within my career as well. I’m beginning a new role, and I’m so fortunate to do what I love as I continue to grow and stretch as a K-12 instructional leader. What lies ahead of me is so much greater than what I leave behind. I truly feel that in my spirit.

Here’s to an awesome beginning to 2019 for you, my friends! God’s peace and blessings to you and yours!

Andi D 😘

Summertime Loc Down!

Finally! It’s getting hot outside, and as much as I enjoy the freedom of locs, I must admit, the longer they get, the more I’m wondering if this southern heat will cause me to explore some different styles this summer. Or will I remain locked inside, hiding from the miserable heat…on loc down. Without a doubt, Summer 2018 promises to be a busy one for me. I’ll do a bit of traveling, for business and for pleasure, but the majority of my time will be spent in Tennessee and Arkansas where the day (and much of it heated sunlight) illuminates no less than 14 hours.

I recently traveled to Newark, NJ and Brooklyn, NY to visit two high schools, both Uncommon Schools, and learn about some of their routines and procedures – really to see if I could “borrow” any school wide routines to share with the staff and students at my own school. Interestingly, I couldn’t help but notice, since overwhelmingly the students were brown and black, that many of the young ladies wore weaves, wigs, and colorful hair pieces which seemed in stark contrast to the natural and unprocessed hair styles worn by my high school students in Arkansas. I couldn’t gauge whether the differences spoke to accessibility, economics, or some heightened sense of beauty, self-awareness, or individuality. I specifically remember one girl’s very long and very pink hair (weave) and thought to myself, “That would never fly at my school.” But, it made me think more deeply about why, exactly, it might not “fly.” Was it a distraction? Was it unnatural? Was it unprofessional? Was it a violation of the student dress code policy? Yes…to all questions, but yet, this young lady proudly walked the halls of her school, oblivious to the fact that a stranger, yes I, was judging her: her college-readiness, her professionalism, her upbringing, her home life, her future goals and aspirations…because of her pink hair. It was a “Prom ‘do,” I was told, and I suspect it won’t last to see graduation day. It’s instinctive; people judge others, based on their appearance. It’s not right, it’s not fair. It just is.

In the midst of my hair-watch patrol, I had a great time in Newark! My locs enjoyed the early morning and evening eastern breezes. This picture (mauve tee) was taken while I was in Newark, about eight days after my last retightening.Textures! That’s what I most appreciate about my locs in this “teen stage.” They continue to evolve, and the frizziness is becoming less and less as each loc becomes more compact and stiff, especially on the ends. In the picture above, I’m twisting on my locs, as I often do, waiting on my Frank to finish pumping gas and thinking about my vacation with my mom to St. Louis this week.

The photos below show my latest retightening results. My last reti was May 20th, which was at seven weeks because we’ve had to adjust my summer retis to accommodate my school leader training in Chicago. My consultant displays my scalp so that you can see her work, but also you can see how healthy my hair and scalp are. I don’t have a flaky or itchy scalp, and my only maintenance between retis is my ten-day at-home shampoo using Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap (diluted liquid). I dry my hair using a black towel (squeeze, squeeze, scrunch), and allow it to air dry on its own. I typically shampoo my hair 2-3 hours before bedtime, and I sleep with the ceiling fan on just to make sure air continues to circulate around my head/hair since all of my locs may not be completely dry. So far, this drying strategy has worked well for my length. I may have to use a cool dryer by year’s end.One of the things I’m noticing about my locs at this stage is that a few of them, especially around my sides of my head (my sleep sides) are weakening and are thinning in the middle of the loc. Because I have such thick hair, it’s not noticeable to the average person, but I see them and wonder if I should just let them be. I’ve pointed out one or two to my consultant, and she joins them when they become weakened.

The photo above is a pre-reti photo that I took for an ID badge-looks better than my driver’s license photo…which, by the way, was taken six years ago with a fresh post-wedding relaxer. Things have certainly changed! Ain’t no lye – about that!

Until next time,

Andi D😘

Retightening Day is a “Good Friday”

Before my next retightening, which is in 10 days, my locs are in need of some love. It was wash day on Sunday night, 3/18:

My locs are a bit drier than normal on wash day and the following day, but by day two (post wash day), my hair looks and feels the way it normally does. At month 21, my locs are still evolving.

Today is Good Friday, and my retightening is done!

The back of my hair is filling out nicely; it looks as if it is layered, and people ask me about my haircut all the time. My hair has never been cut. When I had my TWA, my hair was in a tapered cut, and my locs have grown out in that same cut from install. My consultant’s work is immaculate! She touches EVERY SINGLE LOC. You know the deal…no real makeup on reti day. 😘 I was poking around all morning. Now that my reti is done, I can enjoy the rest of my Spring Holiday. I’m looking forward to enjoying a long weekend with my family. Tomorrow is our 6th wedding anniversary. Yes, that hair was fried and laid to the side!

Today, on Good Friday, we celebrate My Frank’s grandmother’s 99th birthday. She is such a wonderful soul; as the matriarch of the family, we are so blessed to have her here with us.

My next retightening is scheduled for six weeks. I’ll be back with a little more length and definitely more pictures to chronicle my locs.

Until then,

Andi D. 😘

Hangtime…Well, Almost!

One of the great things about rounding out the first year is the growth you experience in Year Two of Sisterlocks. My hair has grown tremendously over the past six months, and as I reach my second year anniversary in July, I’m looking forward to how much my hair will evolve over the next five months.

I had my last retightening, the first one of 2018, on January 6, 2018. Below are pictures of my retightening and the six-week return of my grid. Excuse my lack of make-up; a little bit of sunscreen is about all I can muster on retightening mornings.

I’m starting to get a little “hang-time” now. When I compare this picture from July 1, 2017:

to this one from February 10, 2018, the growth is evident.

My second retightening for 2018 was today, Sunday, February 18th. Here are a few “before” pictures as I stood in the elevator on my way to the salon:

Clearly, my grid is hidden with six weeks of new growth.

During my retightening, here is a shot of the back of my head as she is working her magic:

A few more shots of the retightening’s completion:

My consultant has strategically placed my locs above so that you can see the edges and the precision of her work. Each time I visit her salon, I’m more pleased with the end result.

My next retightening is scheduled for Good Friday. Have a great Spring Break!

Until then,

Andi😘

New Year, New Hair Resolutions for 2018!

Happy New Year, everyone! The beginning of a new year and all of the promise it brings is upon us-which is the perfect time to reset, rejuvenate, recommit, and revolutionize ourselves to accomplish the goals, big and small, that we have set for 2018. This last year, 2017, was good to me!

In 2017, I became more confident and secure in my personal and professional image, and while not all agree that Sisterlocks represent the safe, Eurocentric, and professional look that appeals to the average HR Executive, Head Hunter, or Hiring Manager, I have resolved that who I am, in truth and in light, can no longer be denied. My hair is only one part of my complexity, but it sets the stage for who I am on most days and in most situations: natural, individualistic, untamed, and expressive.

This year (and if God says “Yes”), I will see 50 years of life-a milestone, and the Me that you see is definitely the Me who I want to continue to evolve, and grow, and reflect so that I can continue living my best life. During 2017, my hair experienced much growth. When I look at the picture above (green camo jacket)…and the one below (yellow gold sweater),

a year has made quite the difference in terms of my hair growth and regimen. My locs were professionally installed in late July 2016, and at the one-year “lockversary,” in July 2017, I acquired a new consultant. Over the past six months, I’ve been pleased with her care of my locs. I’ll see her again the first week of January, and like all of our previous visits, I expect her eagle-eyed attention to detail, that she touch and retighten each loc, that she inspect each loc for optimal health and make repairs as necessary, and that I leave her satisfied with the service, consistent cost, look, and feel of my hair.

I made the decision a while back to shampoo my own hair regularly. This is my way of staying connected to the process and the maintenance of my locs. For nine months following my installation, my former consultant was the only person, including myself, who groomed my locs. Now, I enjoy my bi-weekly shampoos and separation of my locs while they air dry.

Here are my Hair Resolutions for 2018:

  1. This year, 2018, I resolve to hydrate much more so that my locs can reap the natural benefits of that hydration. I want to be more intentional about ingesting more purified water in general-herbal teas, waters infused with lemon, ginger, or fruit-as a healthy part of my daily hydration.

This year, 2018, I resolve to stick to a ten-day shampoo cycle so that I am shampooing my hair roughly three times a month. At the end of each quarter (every three months), I will add a ACV rinse to the shampoo cycle for extra cleansing and purification.

Lastly, this year, 2018, I resolve to share more up-close and personal pictures of my hair health and challenges so that those of you who are new to this process (or just curious about the look and maintenance of locs) can have a more personalized tour of my locking process.

I’m feeling good about where this Sisterlocks journey has brought me. I live for and love the compliments about my hair, even the certainty that for some, that may be all that they really like about me. My hair is a part of who I am, and whatever the feeling, whatever the sentiment, whatever the articulation, I appreciate the acknowledgement that the confidence and ease you sense in my presence has much to do with where I am at this point in my life. God is good, and I’m ALL good!

Until we meet again,

Andi 😘

Loc’ed Life! 16 Months In “The Game”

Since I posted my last blog entry, I’ve celebrated another birthday 🎉, experienced a personal health scare🚑, earned a career promotion💃🏾, accepted the reality that both of my parents are aging…like, for real 📆, and resolved that this next year of life-leading to the half century mark-will be my best year EVER🏆! Of all of those happenings over the past eight weeks, the ONLY two things that have remained consistent, unyielding, and certain are the love I have for and from my family, friends, and colleagues AND my hair. 🤗

This may sound weird…but the personal trials and tribulations I’ve encountered recently made me think about how things might have differed IF my hair was not locked, and on top of balancing the dynamics of life, I had to “do” my hair (or pay someone else to “do” my hair). I am convinced that the time i would have spent “doing” my hair and scheduling hair appointments on top of all of the other commitments I have, would have pushed me over the top-into a frenzied world of “it’s just too much.”

While many women see salon appointments as an escape to quiet, focused self-care; an opportunity to relax, read, catch up on social media pages…a spa-like indulgence, in my mind, the “hair thing” would have been just another thing to do, another daily obligation, another task that would take me away from full rest, simply another appointment to schedule and meet and do all over again the next day and week.

I’ve been wearing my locks for 16 months now, and as they continue to evolve, I realize that I, too, am evolving in so many ways. I truly feel that my hair is a metaphor for God’s hands in my life and each lock represents a singular blessing. Wherever I go, strangers compliment my hair. Every opportunity I have to discuss the freedom of my locked style is an opportunity to counsel someone who may need the motivation to take the step toward hair freedom. It’s not a style for everybody, but it is a lifestyle that everybody can appreciate if they want to know more about it.

A week from today, I’ll have another reti, so I’ll be back sooner than later with more pictures. My hair is growing like a weed!

Until then,

Andi 😘