My Sisterlocks – One Year Anniversary

Monday, July 24, 2017 marked the one year anniversary of my Sisterlocks install. I am so excited about the look, feel, and ease of my hair at this one year anniversary, and I cannot imagine NOT having the freedom that comes with locs for the rest of my days. 

Before Sisterlocks:

Day 1 of Sisterlocks Install: My hair and scalp were cleansed with a clarifying shampoo and there was no product whatsoever on my scalp or in my hair on the dual-day Install.

Day 2 of Sisterlocks Install: The finished product. My hair was pretty short, but healthy.


One Year of Sisterlocks Freedom: I lost some weight during this year and worried about the overall condition of my locs for about three months, but they survived the transformation of diet and exercise. 

Make-Up Free works well with Sisterlocks (below):

My locs continue to evolve. The grays continue to show up.

Year One Retightening – Wednesday, July 26, 2017: Prepping before bedtime. I must massage my scalp more and manipulate my locs. My retis leave me feeling “tender-headed” and hating the peripheral Retightening process. I cringe…literally, every single reti. 

I’m not sure why these next two photos were filtered like this, but the length and fullness are still apparent.

My hairline (edges) remain intact a year later 😌…not much can be obscured with my broad forehead though. It is what it is…so, I embrace it. 

My consultant will do some targeted “grooming” of my locs-either over my next couple of retis or from an appointment made for that purpose. The grooming will help tame my “frizzy fuzzies” and allow her to assess each loc’s strength and health. We combined a few locs in the front that had weakened.

I’m expecting great things during this next Anniversary year, and a loc growth spurt is among them. I continue to take 10,000 mcg of biotin with my evening meal, and from my consultant’s view, the biotin is contributing to incredible new growth. I’ll be experimenting more with my diet over the next year, enjoying more plant-based nutrition, to see if my overall health improves and to customize my lifestyle to include healthier plant-based choices.

Looking forward to sharing with you all – my hair journey and most definitely, the freedom of Sisterlocks! 

Be well!

‘Leven&AHalf Months – Year One Is Near

Am I the only one who perspires uncontrollably?! I was relaxing in an epsom salt soak and reflecting on how profusely I sweat, and I was sweating while thinking about how much I sweat. Whew! Just today, I was talking to two very close friends about how I sweat, abnormally so, when I exercise outdoors. I’m almost embarrassed to walk one of my normal routes because of the vehicular traffic and numerous traffic lights; they’ll definitely see me out there sweating! There is no hiding from the onlookers. This is no normal sweat, y’all. I promise.

To build upon healthy living habits and to maintain my weight loss, at least five days a week, I am walking and/or jogging 3-7 miles (depending on my energy level and the weather) outside, in the elements. I call myself “training.” My long-term goal is to run a half marathon at 50 years of age. Since I still have well over a year before my 50th birthday, I am taking advantage of the beauty of the great outdoors, mild southern temperatures, and honoring my refusal to be tucked away in a germy, expensive gym. I love to be outdoors, in the fresh air and sunshine-especially during the early morning! However, the humidity in Memphis is oppressive in July and August. It’s the devil, y’all.

My hair though…I really wonder if the sweat is damaging to my hair. With all of the benefits of perspiration, could there be benefits to one’s hair?

I don’t feel compelled to shampoo my locs more often, and I suspect that is because I still do not use any oils on my scalp or in my hair which tend to contribute to excessive buildup. Those additives can be smelly over time, combined with perspiration.

My locks continue to be “bleached” by the sun.  It’s ends are reddish-brown. That gray? It’s not going anywhere, and I do not want to cover the gray using harsh chemicals.

At the near end of Year One, my locs continue to be varied in size and density. Frizzy, fuzzy, fat, skinny, wiry, curly, strong…just a few descriptors.

Most of the ends in the back are locked with curlier ends on the top and sides.

I’m actually very proud of the growth over this year, and I’ll chronicle that growth in my next entry.

On any given day, my hair remains thick and full.

At Year One, I will do the ACV rinse I’ve been hearing so much about…and will consider it an annual “birthday gift” to my locs as a gesture of love.

I’m working on me…still. My Sisterlocks are the easiest part of my daily wellness plan. Effortless and uncomplicated. It’s a good thing because I need all of that energy to be dedicated to the internal pep talk I must have to sustain an exercise regimen.



Ultimately, I did a little research to discover the benefits of perspiration and came across this article: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-amazing-benefits-sweating-you-didnt-know.html.

One thing’s for sure, I don’t plan to change my living environment, switch to an indoor facility to train, or stop exercising outdoors to live my best life-now or in the future. I’ll be sweating to the oldies, as an oldie…and that’s just fine with me.

Be well! 😘

My 10 Month Journey – Locked For Life

Your hair…its texture, its state, its look, its health, its feel…tells a story. Mine has been deprived of proper hydration over the past few months; now I’m in a re-hydration mode, and over the summer months, I will be trying to replenish all of the water it needs to experience a growth spurt and the sheen I know it should have. 

My grays, especially in my temple areas, have begun to show up and show out…wiry, uncontrollable, and rebellious. They don’t even want to hide within the confines of a locked tress-they just want to do their own thang. My locks continue to change in form during this tenth month. Not a lot of uniformity yet; thinner and longer locks on the top-thicker, plumper ones along the sides and back. 

I’m amazed by the many “looks” I can create, on any given day, although I do not “style” my locks. They are long enough to twist or braid; however, I believe that styling them in this teenaged phase may weaken my edges and cause undue tension in the back, especially along my nape area. I’ve worn enough updos and styles pulled off and out of my face to appreciate the free style of well…no style. This forehead is here to stay. I choose to celebrate it and its broadness-show it every chance I get. It’s a reminder; I really do have a lot going on up there, in this head of mine. 

Over this past month, I’ve stopped sleeping in the Loc Soc. I’m feeling the 48-year-old hormonal change of night sweats and the weight of denser locks confined in a tight space, so I’ve switched to just satin pillowcases, which seems to work well so far. I rotate crimson and cream satin pillowcases (imagine that ❣️), and they have given me a cooler head without much concern about the health of my locks. At my next retightening, I’ll ask my consultant if she notices any lint or buildup from my transition from the covered head to open air. As an extra precaution against lint, I do not wear caps, scarves, or hats on my head.

There is no appreciable difference in what I do to my hair in the morning. I still take a hot/warm towel (sometimes prepped with a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint or Citrus Castille Soap) and move my locks to refreshen and “style” them in their free-style way. Most of the time, the humidity of my hot morning showers do the trick. I’ve stopped covering my hair with a plastic shower cap now that it is locked. 🎼🎧🎤 I never knew love like this before…

My hair is not fully locked all over, but coiled enough so that I do not have to fear the rain or getting it wet in the shower. The back is more locked than those stubborn curly top locks, so there are still so many different textures apparent within my hair. 

The picture below (black shirt, gold oval pendant necklace) is a good representation of my “workday hair.” A bit more “fluffed” and contained. Still with a bit of edginess and personality, I love the dynamic attitude of locked hair.

This picture (denim jacket, camo shirt-representing with the silver pendant) represents my “weekend hair,” which is slowly becoming my workday hair now that the school year has ended. I’ll be working much of the summer, and casual Monday through Friday will rule the summer work gear. Some days, I just can’t control the direction of one or two locks. I have stopped trying. 

A year ago, right before I decided to lock and started this blog about my hair journey, I was so preoccupied about my image, as a professional educator, and how locking my hair might impact people’s perceptions of me. While I understand that is somehow a real concern in this competitive world of titles, relationships, and performances, I no longer worry about whether my hair speaks something to others before I even open my mouth. My prayer is that I’ll have an opportunity to speak my own truths before they are assigned to me. However, I’ve spent this year learning, and in some cases, the hard way, that no matter who you are, how you look, what you have to say, and how your story has evolved, some folks will create an image, shape an opinion, write YOUR story, and choose to believe THEIR story of you, no matter its truth or fidelity. 

My hair tells a story, my friends, but it’s only a small part of my story. Such a small part…

You Would Be…If Only…

How many of us have heard the accusatory words, “You would be…if only…”? The words imply not only that you’ve done something wrong or that you’re not quite good enough, but that the person stating their opinion knows exactly what would cure your deficit and make you more acceptable in their sight. Even if stated in a loving manner, these words, more often than not, hurt us.

Courtesy of Quotesgram.com

So many times, I have reflected on myself, my friends, my family and the countless conversations about what each of us would change about ourselves, if we could. Some of the changes are purely physical-my spider veins, his skinny legs, her love handles. Or the conversation might center on emotional strength-my weaning patience, his lack of commitment, her intolerance for diversity. Perhaps the issue is deeper-Am I enough? Is he stronger than he thinks? Is she capable of moving in the right direction? All point us to a place of questioning ourselves, our intentions, our efficacy, and our innate ability to make smart choices. What makes the situation sticky? It is our insistence that the opinions of others really don’t matter to us. But should they?

Courtesy of Inspirations.allwomenstalk.com

Many of us have suffered in familial relationships where we have felt the discouraging sting of not being accepted fully because of how we act or look on any given day. Experimentation or just “being ourselves” is often discouraged, and we are reminded that how we look and act represents “the family,” “your people,” or “the legacy.” I’m not a parent, but I can imagine the agony any parent might associate with the actions or activities of their offspring which may cast a disparaging light on the family. As an educator, I’ve often attended parent-teacher-student conferences and heard the very words, “We didn’t raise you like that.” The admonishment is just as embarrassing to hear as it is to make; the implication is that you would be pleasing to me if only you did what I raised you to do which is always the “right” thing.

Courtesy of Picturequotes.com

In romantic relationships, control often is exercised by one partner or the other when stating those disapproving words, “You would be…if only…”. While we know that we teach others how to treat us, if someone you love disapproves of you, it is not only hurtful, but unsettling to your sense of well-being. Unfortunately, insecurities may settle in and become the basis of our future dealings, which may, in fact, cause irreparable harm if the relationship is new, developing, or uncertain. Sometimes, the actual words may not be spoken, but a disapproving glance, the silence associated with an anticipatory acceptance, or the communication of distaste to others builds resentment and detachment in romantic relationships.

Courtesy of Cartoonstock.com

In friendships, we say that we want transparency and honesty; however, when we hear those words, “You would be…if only…,” we feel judged. Unconditional acceptance, while it is desired, is not truly expected from our friends. We hope that verbal criticism is constructive, in our best interest, and extended in love. What happens when it’s not? What happens if your friend criticizes the fit of your new dress, and you disagree with her assessment? What if the issue is semi-permanent, like your new platinum blond hair against your cocoa brown skin? The criticism takes on a whole other feel. Not only is your new hair color an issue, the skin you’ve always been in is now an issue. Or is it still really about the hair? Can you truly be a friend if you withhold judgement when your friend is traveling a slippery fashion slope? Can the friendship survive a dose of honesty that is based on an opinion?

Truly loving yourself comes from being self-aware and forgiving of your flaws. It means that larger than average nose you inherited from your dad’s side is loved. It means those curvy hips and thighs you got from your momma are cherished. It means those teeny tiny boobs you were born with are yours to adore. It means that propensity you have to use strong expletives to signal disapproval is managed. Can you be proactive and physically modify that less than perfect nose, those challenging hips and thighs, the small breasts, your fussing and cussing side? Sure! When you encounter another, who attempts to place a value on your connectedness based on how you act or look, you may re-examine your flaws. This re-examination can be healthy, particularly if the flaw causes dissension or a disagreeable nature that prevents others from connecting with you. Sometimes change is what we need.

Courtesy of Pinterest.com

Now that I have made the best hair resolution for me, which just so happens to be the decision to never again chemically alter my natural hair, I needed to get through a period of uncomfortableness with what my hair represented, not just to me but to those I choose to love. Every day, I grow more certain that I could be anyone except me if I don’t learn how to balance my perceptions. Before I big-chopped, I had all of the lengthy conversations in my mind about the image of me. Although I’m just six months into my journey, I’m still amazed when my friends or family ask me about coloring my hair, cutting my hair, or “styling” my hair. Yes, I’m always pleasantly surprised when anyone says, “I love your hair, Andi!” I’m even more thrilled to hear, “I love that YOU love your hair, Andi!” And even if those words are never uttered by those I love, deep down inside, I continue to expect the freedom from judgement…I expect the “You would be…if only…” thoughts to remain somewhere dangling in their own head, and more appropriately, on their own hair.

 

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Me, Loving The Skin and The Hair I’m In

Protective Styles: Protecting Your Hair From YOU!

Until recently, I’m not sure if I really understood the technical term, “protective style.” More accurately, I’m not sure if I knew from what, exactly, I might be protecting my hair. I have lived in Tennessee for most of my life, and in West Tennessee, it’s just hot. Not hot like Arizona hot, but hot like humid, sticky, fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk-hot. Sure, in the Deep South, we have wind, snow, cold, and sun damage to consider as it relates to hair care, but styling challenges are the insidious kinds of damage that can stunt hair growth and health. As far as I knew, a head covering, of any type, was the best way to protect my delicate tresses from damage. Over the years, I’ve come to associate protective styling with any way that I  cover my hair (relaxed or natural) so that it can relax (pun intended) and rest from the many drastic and often damaging ways that I style, prepare, or handle my hair.

In the past, I have shunned sew-ins, wigs, and weaves. Why? Well, I’m from that “old school” mentality of – “Just wear the hair the Good Lawd gave you. If you’ve got hair, it’s good hair.” However, in my late 30’s and for all of my 40’s, I see braids and the use of weave for braiding as the lesser of the protectant evils-a weave or sew-in is just “too permanent” a fixture for my lifestyle, and I have visions of my hair being “trapped” underneath it-sweaty, moldy, stinky, hot, and I have seen horror images of spider webs and larvae literally growing in unkempt weave. Okay, I know…dramatic and way over the top. It’s my perception though, and as ridiculous as it may seem, it’s the one out of a million reality that keeps me from wearing a sew-in weave. As I said in a previous post (See: Product Junkie: Not I… Well…), I sweat, a lot, particularly at night and during the warmer months in Memphis (May-October). Every single time I have worn braids, I have either 1) planned and increased my exercise activity exponentially, 2) undergone a drastic hair transition, or 3) was indecisive about what I wanted (or needed) to do with my hair and needed an easy style to wear until I determined my next hair move.

Living the easy life of a TWA-er means I am finger-styling my hair on most mornings, beginning with a steamy shower and continuing throughout the ten minutes it takes me to get dressed and to put on a little make-up. Water is my first and most needed protective styling “product,” and considering the manner in which I sleep and wake up, it preps my hair for moisture-infusion and IS my hair protectant in the most basic and necessary way. Along this natural hair journey, I’m learning how to better protect my hair, from me, each day.

Here I am wearing braids, my second most preferred protective style:

A baseball cap does the trick every time! On a casual day, it definitely beats a “bad hair day” like no other.

Scullies (or is it, skullies, sculleys, you get the point…) are a quick way to cover your tresses on a cold day and most appropriate when you’re representing your sorority! 

My late grandmother, Sister Berry, loved hats! In fact, for her December 2009 funeral, each woman in the family wore one of her hats as a tribute to her good taste and fashion sense. Here I am, at a recent sorority fundraiser called Hats for Bettye, wearing the hat that I chose from my dear grandmother’s collection of hats:

Ah, yes! Braids…my “Braidist” (is that a word?) – Braid Stylist – Natural Hair Stylist is one of my former students. She’s licensed, talented, professional, braids in one seating, and gives me the “teacher discount.” I know that I’ll be pleased with the results, and she braids my hair without very much notice although she works as a fellow educator.

Every time I look at the picture below, I smile. Pictured with me is my first love, my cousin, Valencia (Len). We are just nine months apart in age, and we were each other’s best friends growing up; our mothers are sisters.

Here are Len and I together during the Christmas Holiday 2014:


I view my cousin, Len, as a quasi-wig expert. She LOVES wigs, and changes her look often and dramatically. She has worn weaves and wigs for almost twenty years, longer than anyone else I know except our grandmother, Sister Berry, a fashion icon (in the First Lady, Southern Missionary Baptist tradition). Interestingly, Len has some of the most beautiful Type 3b-c hair you’ve ever seen. When she was in her mid-20’s, she just stopped wearing, publicly, her own natural hair and decided to wear wigs and bonded hair. I don’t know what her natural hair looks like now; the last time I remember seeing it was when she was the Matron of Honor for my first wedding in May 1998. She always looks fabulous though, and I call her “Rapunzel” every time I see her in her long, luxurious wigs!

Here are some other pictures of my gorgeous cousin and her many wigs:

Get yourself a fierce wig as a versatile and protective style! Thank  you, Len, for the hair inspiration!

Not only do I have a pretty good tan in the picture below, the “bun” I have fancied as a messy top knot is really weave haphazardly twisted around a ponytail on my short-lived road to relaxer-sanctioned, permanent colored-treated hair growth. The colors of my relaxed, color-treated hair and the weave hair are “off”…the “blonds” just don’t match. Funny thing is I took Len with me to the beauty supply store to choose the weave.

In the store, the colors blended well, and the weave hair really was the closest color we could find to my own. As far as that visit to the beauty supply store goes, we both got it wrong that time-looking at the photo. Because of that photo, I never wore the “bun” outside of my house, but I keep it as a gentle reminder to myself: Do NOT be the one who everyone thinks has no friends. Your close friends or family members should be able to state the truth (in a loving way, of course), “Girl, no one told you?! Take that thing off your head!!”

Unfiltered Hair & Water

Today I took a closeup, unfiltered picture of my hair. Afterwards, I spent some time just examining the health of my hair. I’ve always heard that some dietary supplements may (or may not) promote hair  growth, so I decided to put one, in particular, to the test-Biotin. Biotin is believed to speed, maintain, or improve hair and nail growth while improving skin. Since I’m playing the “waiting game” right now, I’ve been very conscientious about taking one chewable 5000 mcg. biotin tablet, in addition to my regular daily multivitamin, with my evening meal for about three months now. I’m noticing a definite increase in the shine and elasticity of my hair; those frizzy edges and sides are more controlled. What’s exciting is that the sides of my hair, nearest my ears, were quite thin when I big-chopped. As you can see, the sides are thick and full.

My nails are perhaps the biggest benefactor; they are long and strong. While my skin has never been troubled, I am noticing a few more tiny pimples and imperfections. Could just be age spots due to my propensity to drive with the top down, but I am noticing more skin imperfections while using biotin. Two out of three isn’t bad-would you rather have good hair and nails or good skin?

I still maintain that purified drinking water (and lots of it) is the single most advantageous nutrient source for nails, hair, and skin. I keep a case of water in my trunk so that I can grab a couple of waters no matter where I go to ensure proper hydration. I like the convenience of it. It’s so easy to become dehydrated or mistake thirst for hunger. Oftentimes, a 16 oz bottle of water can cure a headache or boredom masquerading as hunger.

By the way, Memphis has great drinking water! Straight from the faucet, even unfiltered, it’s the best hydrating source we could hope for…and it’s FREE!

Check out the three month results of using biotin as a dietary supplement below. Positive results, wouldn’t you say?

May 2016

February 2016

This is the brand of Biotin supplements I use daily. Although they are chewable (cherry taste), most nights, I just swallow them whole:


The Waiting Game: May 2016

I have come to the realization that it is the back of my head that stands between my Sisterlocks installation date and my waning patience. The pictures below give the appearance of my hair being pretty much one length all over, but the top of my hair is almost three times the length of the back and twice the length of the sides. I do a “hair pick check” once a week just to see how much my hair has grown. One thing is perfectly clear…my hair is super thick, and closest to the scalp, it’s super coily. I’m hopeful that the awkward (and often unsightly) spacing of the grid pattern I have  of my locks will not be a huge concern.