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…

The Nappy Hair Chronicles: Nappy Hair IS Good Hair! 

When I was just a little girl, I began to understand the negativity associated with the word “nappy.” I would hear six and seven year olds say, “He got some nappy hair,” or “Her hair is so nappy.” Not quite knowing what “nappy” meant, for special occasions only, my natural hair was straightened with intense heat using some kind of colored grease and a straightening comb in my momma’s or grandma’s kitchen. As a practical matter, my daily look was quite different-my thick natural hair was regularly shampooed and conditioned. Afterwards, my scalp was greased with Blue Magic Hair & Scalp Conditioner, then meticulously styled with a plastic wide-tooth comb. To finish the process, my clean, wet hair was brushed before styling it into parted, rubber banded, plaited sections and embellished with hair bows, ponytail twister balls, or barrettes. As far as my young mind could process, if your hair was “nappy,” it was uncombed, unruly, and definitely undesirable in the 1970’s. My hair was not “nappy.”

I was in junior high school and headed to high school by the time I had my first kiddy perm, but by then, I was clear about the meaning of “nappy” hair vs. “good” hair. “Nappy” hair in the 1980’s, took on a different meaning; it was a textural, touchy-feely, purely aesthetic thing. My first cousins, Len and Jackie who are sisters, had “good” hair. My hair was distinctly different from their textures, and because they both had different fathers, even their “good” hair varied in texture. Interestingly, our mothers are sisters who were birthed by the same mother and father, yet their hair textures were quite different. Back then, I remember thinking that my auntie, their mother, had hair like “white folks.” It was long, jet black, wavy, and clearly what I would define today as Type 3A hair. She hardly ever wore it “down” or in a style. My aunt’s pretty, Type 3 hair was always in a shiny bun, carefully pinned in the back of her head. My mother, on the other hand, had a very different type of hair. She wore a lot of long wigs when I was a child. In fact, I don’t ever recall seeing her natural hair. I’ll talk more directly about hair types later, but as I reflect on those early years, it was around that time that I first understood that I just might have “nappy” hair.

My cousin Len’s hair was very similar to her mother’s, still in the Type 3 family. Her sister, Jackie, with Type 4A hair, had hair that was more similar to my own hair texture, Type 4B, but in my mind, Jackie’s hair was still “good” hair. I suspect I always thought that because their momma had “good” hair, they couldn’t help but to have “good” hair, too. I don’t really remember harboring any negative feelings about my hair as a child, nor do I recall being envious of my cousins’ hair when we were all children. The styling process was identical, no matter the texture. As small children, we sat on the floor, on a pillow adjusted comfortably between the knees of a female family member, to get our “hair done.” Whether or not our hair was “good” or “nappy,” it was always neatly combed and styled.

When did things change? When does hair become an obsession for girl children? In middle school, hair becomes more important to ‘tweens and teens. By the time high school is a certainty, physical appearance, in general, along with a hyper-preoccupation with looks, personal hygiene, body image, and clothing can be all-consuming. For a young girl, the desire to wear her hair “down” is a right of passage-the daily plaits, braids, or ponytails take a back seat to a more mature look. Eventually, parents yield just a bit; they allow make up and more fitted clothing complete the look.

During my career as an educator, I’ve seen the devastating effect that a bad hair day causes for the psyche of a young girl, especially if the texture of her hair is the subject of ridicule or made her the target of “checking” which inevitably leads to those dreaded four words, “…with yo’ nappy head!” Nothing, I mean nothing, seems quite as harsh to a young woman who is still grappling with her own sense of self worth than to be verbally attacked by someone who, more times than not, looks like herself. Those four harsh words, unfortunately, can become the sum total of her being. If she is not hearing consistent positive messages about her appearance from those she loves, this fact may negatively impact her self-esteem and relationships with others in the future.

The unwanted nomenclature of being “nappy-headed” conjures up images of unruly, kinky, coily, hell…nappy hair. But from where does this stigma come? What’s wrong with nappy hair? Why is nappy hair undesirable? I suspect its vestiges are deeply rooted in slavery and the rape culture that bred black and white offspring. When I was growing up, if you had “good” hair, you must have had “Indian in your family.” A quick Google search of “Indian in your family” reveals Luster’s S Curl Regular Texturizer for Natural Looking Wave & Curl Styles in Minutes. Funny to me! Clearly, in order to possess desirable, silky, wavy, or naturally “springy” curly hair, you could not be 100% black;  your genetic make-up had to include a race or culture that made you, your momma, or your grandmomma the product of a mixed-race encounter somewhere along the branches of the family tree.

Not until recently did I really care about my own hair type. The care of my natural hair made me want to understand more deeply how varied hair types require a very different hair care regimen. Do you know your hair type? This article is comprehensive and helpful when it comes to figuring out your own hair type: http://www.black-women-beauty-central.com/black-hair-types.html. You’ll see images, descriptors of curl patterns, and suggestions on how to best care for your hair type as determined by Oprah Winfrey’s famed stylist, Andre Walker. In his book, Andre Talks Hair, Walker discusses the fact that there is no such thing as bad hair and teaches you how to care for and love the hair you have.

Here are some other images to consider for the majority of black women who have Type 3 or Type 4 hair:

Type 3A Curly Hair-Image Courtesy of Naturallycurly.com

img_5516

Type 3B Curly Hair-Image Courtesy of Naturallycurly.com

Type 3C Curly Hair-Image Courtesy of Naturallycurly.com

Type 4A Curly Hair-Image Courtesy of Naturallycurly.com

Type 4B Curly Hair-Image Courtesy of Naturallycurly.com

Type 4C Curly Hair-Image Courtesy of Naturallycurly.com

In 2016, black hair is still as controversial as it always has been. In our community, folks continue to reference “good” hair and its desirability. I’ve even heard stories of black women purposefully breeding with men of other ethnicities for the sole purpose of ensuring a baby with “good” hair. As ridiculous as that sounds, there is a large segment of our community who thinks this way, and it underscores the unfortunate reality and level of self-hatred in our community. Call it what you like.

If you have ANY hair, I suspect it’s good; just ask anyone, of any ethnicity, who has lost their hair to chronic illness, genetic thinning or balding, unexpected physical or emotional trauma, or unsuccessful chemical hair treatments. In my opinion, the love of your hair is inextricably tied to self-love; you cannot profess to love yourself fully without loving every inch of yourself, even the Type 4 hair that may grow from your scalp. With the resurgence of natural hair as a conscientious choice of beauty personified, I am so proud of the young sisters I see in the hallways of my school building, proudly wearing their curly mega ‘fros, hair beautifully coifed in intricate patterned braids, colorful hair clips and blingy head bands adorning frizzy, nappy, curly hair, and confidently rocking that teeny weeny Afro…with a smile, heads held high because they know, even at that age, that what they have on the inside is what really matters. Nappy and proud…

However, it took me many years, some time during my mid-20’s, to understand that ALL hair really IS “good” hair, no matter the hair type. When it comes to “nappy” hair and the images associated with deeply coiled, kinky, curly hair, we must be careful how we message self-love, especially to our children. Make it your personal goal to look into the eyes of little black girls, tell them how smart and beautiful they are, and it won’t hurt one bit to add to your loving declaration (withOUT touching it), “I love your hair!” That little girl with the Type 4 hair needs the same inner and outer beauty reassurance that the one with the Type 3 hair gets with ease. After all, India Arie expressed it best in the chorus of “I Am Not My Hair,”

I am not my hair

I am not this skin

I am not your expectations no no

I am not my hair

I am not this skin

I am a soul that lives within.

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.


Getting in Touch With My Hair: February to April 2016

Anyone who has done the “Big Chop” will tell you how obsessed one becomes with one’s hair. You can’t stop touching your hair, water is your FRIEND (umbrella…for what?), and your hair is so dynamic that your emotions about your hair tend to swing and shift and fluctuate almost on a daily basis. Even though I am still rocking a TWA (teeny weeny Afro), my make-up usage has also changed with my hair. I’m wearing less of it, choosing instead to focus on making sure that my eyebrows are well-groomed, a translucent mineral powder soaks up morning oil, my lipstick or gloss is conservative and appropriate for my career, and a couple of coats of mascara ensure that I am out the door in just enough time to begin my day-on time. I spend about ten minutes each morning grooming my hair and face. I have it down to an exact science at this point which is one of the many reasons I am loving my naturalness, in general, and my sense of self, in particular. I feel pretty…all the time…and that feeling permeates my relationships with others, even strangers.

Front 1

Front 3

Front 4

Front 2

As a side note, I changed jobs in February 2016 after over 18 years as a classroom teacher teaching Spanish to urban students in a small, college-prep high school. Within that same district, I transitioned to the role of an Instructional Facilitator at another urban high school, triple the size of my former school. I realize that the “me” my new school sees everyday is a “me” that is still new to me. They (except a few newly-friended FB/IG connects) have not seen the pre-natural, non-‘fro-wearing, relaxed short cut, braided, blond-haired Andi that most of the world knows.

I kind of like that anonymity at this stage in my maturity. This new “me” is a much better me!

Now What? Girl, you’re looking GOOD!

I’m even sad to acknowledge it, but this TWA won’t be here very much longer. As much as I love the ease, the look, and the freedom from frequent visits to the salon (much more about my time than about my money), over the past several weeks, I have begun to think about what I will do with my hair next. What I know for sure is that the next transition will be a permanent one. I will not spend the next decades of my life obsessing about my hair.

Here, I am on my way to sorority meeting, and I’m feeling myself! I love my hair-in all of its nappy, frizzy, curly, coily glory!

ME