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…

My “Naturalversary” and Next Steps: It’s A Journey

I celebrated my six month “Naturalversary” in mid-June, in the midst of a career transition and two weeks into my abbreviated summer break. On this past Saturday, I visited my Sisterlocks consultant to do a “length assessment” and to make a deposit on my near future install. I’ll admit; I was a bit excited just to take those baby steps, and I had an opportunity, while there, to chat with a “newbie” about her three month Sisterlocks journey. She was getting “bundled and banded” for a shampoo, and I was intrigued by the process. She seemed open to sharing with a stranger and after realizing that I could ask her any questions I may have, I asked her whether she had any reservations about her decision to move forth with the installation. She told me that it “was the best decision” she had ever made about her hair care and that she had “no regrets.” I couldn’t help but notice that her hair was considerably longer than mine and our textures were quite different. That reality is the reason I began this blog in early-May as I was in the infancy stages of my decision-making process. It has been difficult for me to find a black woman, who looks like me and who dons a TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro), as she begins her Sisterlock journey. Someone out there, like me, wants to see the before pictures, the complete install, the early baby loc phases, and the growth progression of Sisterlocks in a very methodical way. As a matter of fact, my self-awareness and personal transparency lends itself to sharing as a way of helping others to reflect on their rationale and reasoning as they grapple with choices. Creating a blog and sharing periodic streams of consciousness was a mere extension of that natural communication process for me. I was so comforted to know that Vivian’s client began her journey completely natural as well, and that her hair was evolving in its natural state. 

Waiting for my hair to lengthen has been a test of will and sheer patience for me. I’m quite accustomed to making a decision, any decision, and acting on it immediately, so when Vivian told me in early May to come back later, well…let’s just say that I was not at all happy. This recent visit was different; my hair has definitely gotten longer (and healthier), and I believe it has thickened (particularly at the roots) where it is curliest and closest to my scalp. Vivian inspected my hair, scalp, and length and proclaimed, “You’re ready!” 

For about five seconds though, I paused, “Am I?”

Since my first visit to the consultant in May, some realities about my career as an educator have surfaced, and once again, my hair has become an obsession, along with my professional image. For a black woman in academia, image and perception are real identity concerns. While the success ladder is a steep one, I pause because there are not many sisters in school leadership who choose to wear their hair natural. However, I happen to be surrounded by many role models of natural beauty who have made their mark in our local public education system, those who stand tall, run in stilettos, and jog in Tiek’s through the hallways of schools everyday; those who walk the walk, talk the talk, and lead by creating leaders. I’m comforted to know that all of my natural mentors, my Natural “Board of Directors” (to coin a phrase used by my APP Director, LaWanda) are just an email, text message, FaceBook post, or phone call away…some I see in my building, others I see in my community, in the business of sorority meeting, at the local Kroger’s. Recently, I asked one of them, Tara, “So, I am wondering how those baby locs will look…and how to integrate my new look with my new leadership journey. My director talks to us all the time about image, perception, and maintaining a professional “look.” I know many successful black women with locks, but have you encountered any bias related to your hair?” Brief in her response, but the affirmation I needed, Tara replied, “Not one bit. Your locs won’t look much different than your fro.” From her reply, I gained that extra bit of certainty that my transitional journey will be a familiar one for me, not like the Big Chop which rocked my world for a few pivotal weeks last December. Due to the length of my natural hair, my install should be very reminiscent of my current look. In fact, some people may not realize even that those microlocs will represent, for me, individual seeds of highly anticipated hair freedom.

I do not anticipate that the shift, from my ‘fro to Sisterlocks, will be a dramatic one for me, but the freedom I have enjoyed wearing my hair in its natural state has been life-affirming and intentional along my personal hair journey. When people say to me, “See, you can wear your hair like that. Everyone can’t pull that off,” it makes me wonder from where, exactly, does this disdain with our natural hair originate. Unfortunately, it is one of the reasons I can’t just enter school leadership equipped with a lifetime of knowledge AND remain unconcerned about my image because my hair is a primary player in the perception game.

Below is my one and only attempt to wear a headband with my TWA. One of my oldest and dearest friends, Karen Lynn, quickly warned me about the dangers of headbands and edge destruction. Her exact words on my FB post were, “Come thru! Come thru! Looks very healthy. Gotta be careful with the bands as they may damage the edges.” I can appreciate a sister who IS a true sister…Lord knows, I need my edges with this broad (big) forehead. 

Below is the condition of my hair during yesterday’s deep conditioning ritual, post-length assessment for my install.

One of my favorite pastimes after rinsing out the conditioner is combing through my hair with a wide-tooth comb and inspecting my hair before I put one drop of oil, cream, or gel in it. This is the hair I was born to love, and the transitional phases of Sisterlocks will enable me to celebrate my hair, chemical-free and minimal product-free, for years to come. 

The delight and reality of gray hair in my late 40’s…. I’m still on the fence about coloring my future Sisterlocks. I really want to enjoy and celebrate my natural hair, my natural color, my naturalness.

Stay tuned as I chronicle my Sisterlocks installation process. I’m excited about the endless possibilities, the evolution of natural beauty, the transition of professional image, the role-modeling potentialities for black girls, and how I standardize my personal image for myself and others. 😘😍

Hair Professionalism 101

I’m a certified “Googler.” No, that’s too simplified…I’m a “Professional Googler.” Yep, I use Google (and its family of user-friendly apps) more daily than any other search engine and definitely more than any other app on my laptop or phone. Interestingly, a couple of days ago, my cousin, RJ, texted me, “Google professional hair and take a look at the images. Then Google unprofessional hair.” So, using my trusty smartphone, I followed his instructions. Under “Professional Hairstyles,” I saw several images of primarily Caucasian celebrities, model-types, and one recognizable brown face, actress Zoe Saldana. Most of the images displayed conservative hairstyles, coifed on very fair-skinned adults, mostly females with shoulder-length or longer tresses. I was like, “Okay…” So, I navigated to “Unprofessional Hairstyles,” and I immediately noticed the stark difference-hair and lots of it! Black hair, super’fros, twist outs, crimped hair, textured hair…4c hair…but wait? Unprofessional? Not only did I see several hair images of African-American female or dark-skinned adults, I saw comparison screenshots of “professional vs. unprofessional hairstyles” as Google images themselves under the search results, and I am saddened.

So, right now you’re asking me, “Girl, why are YOU so surprised? You know…” You can check out both screenshot search results below.

Unprofessional?!

At my age, I just can’t pretend to be naive about how people’s perceptions shape their beliefs and worldview. However, in 2016, I am shocked that these images would be so prevalent, and it makes me wonder…who in the heck compiles these images? Does Google compile them, a techie somewhere in a dark room just sitting there uploading pictures? How does a “face” or “hairstyle” become a Google image, an exemplar, a model of a search engine word or phrase? More important, how is the designation of “professional” vs. “unprofessional” assigned to a mere hairstyle…and by whom? Yes, I’m even shocked that Google didn’t assign an initial full page of scroll results with singular images of people of color, with their “unprofessional hairstyles.”

It made me wonder…if I were a Google image, would I, with my TWA, be a model of “professional” or “unprofessional” hair? We truly live in a sad world where a woman, who identifies as African-American, doesn’t have the luxury of presenting herself to the world as a “professional” because she chooses to wear her natural hair…well, naturally curly, kinky, coily, locked, wavy, frizzy, or nappy. If she does choose anything but the bone straight route, her own hair, that grows out of her head, brands her as “unprofessional.”

The pearls, yes, the pearls make me “professional.” Say what?!

Here’s a question for you: How many of us have straightened our hair to “soften” our image, appear more “put together or polished,” or allowed ourselves to be convinced that to be successful in mainstream industry, we must straighten our hair?

And here’s another question: How many of us long to wear our natural hair but fear the multi-textured reality of the hair we were born to embrace? If I can overcome that fear, so can you.

“There is a negative stigma attached to natural Black hair in the United States and frankly in most places of the world.” ~http://www.blackenterprise.com/lifestyle/natural-hair-and-professionalism/

Check out #5! She’s my undergraduate chapter Soror and a corporate executive who is wearing her natural hair beautifully and unapologetically: ~http://blackgirllonghair.com/2015/01/8-top-professionals-and-ceos-who-wear-their-natural-hair/

An example of our fears being much larger than our reality: “It was then that I realized that a lot of time we as naturals often put parameters and limitations on how we think our hair should look and be styled. I realized very quickly that I had the problem with how my hair looked thinking that it wasn’t “professional” enough, inappropriate or too “wild” for the workplace.” ~http://www.curlynikki.com/2012/10/natural-hair-in-corporate-world.html?m=1

We still have so far to go as it relates to diversity education, racial and ethnic tolerance, cultural misappropriation…and well, just acceptance of and respect for the choices of our neighbors, our co-workers, our family members, our lovers, our friends. And I ain’t even talking about hair.

The Consultation: Mother’s Day-May 8, 2016

Finally, I made a decision about my next steps. I was never really interested in wearing my hair in multiple styles for a year or so to “play around with” my natural hair. At my age, I’m certain that permanence is a more stable step for me. After a few weeks of exhaustive research about traditional locs vs. microlocs vs. Sisterlocks, I contacted two local consultants by emailing pictures of me with my TWA, concerned specifically about the length of my hair on the sides and back and whether or not my hair could (or would) lock at that length. Still researching websites and blogs daily, I decided that I would rather meet with an authorized consultant about my next hair transition than obsess about the process. Luckily, one of the two consultants responded to me by calling within 24 hours. She was not only timely in her response, but friendly and professional. Truth is, I never heard from the second consultant, and I’m glad. Responsiveness is a must and poor customer service would be the bane of my existence-not a good look for that local consultant (who shall remain nameless).

Armed with my supportive cousin and sidekick, Randy (RJ), and my newly found web knowledge of Sisterlocks, I met with a certified consultant and the webmaster of http://www.microlocs.com, around 2:30 pm on Sunday, May 8, 2016. RJ had traditional locks for several years, so I was very comfortable sharing this leg of my journey with him. I needed a supportive companion with me; I needed someone positive by my side.

I knew that she was going to be with a client when RJ and I entered the salon, so I was being “fit in” during a break. We all exchanged pleasantries, and she handed me a binder portfolio of her work which showcased different Sisterlocked styles and growth progression from installation to a different point in time. Periodically, she would check to see if I had questions. I’ll admit, I was hesitant to speak frankly with her in the presence of her client…not because I didn’t have questions, but because I felt a bit guarded about “my process” and who was privy to the details, especially from inception. While perusing the portfolio, I relaxed a bit and resolved that the sister whose appointment time I invaded for my consult wasn’t my enemy. She was another sister, like me…wanting to care for our natural hair in a very holistic, lifestyle-affirming way.

Shortly after our arrival, the husband of the consultant’s client arrived to keep his wife company for the afternoon break. It was then that she sat down with me and discussed the Sisterlocks method, my lifestyle, my reason for wanting Sisterlocks, and my hair, in general. RJ and I continued to look through the portfolio, and I asked questions about some of her clients’ hair. I showed her some screenshots on my phone of Sisterlocked styles (harvested from different websites during my research phase) on very short hair, similar to mine in length and/or texture. It was difficult to find short Sisterlock styles, and from that realization, the idea of creating a blog was inspired. I understood the hair length requirements, but I knew that I couldn’t be the only TWA-er desirous of Sisterlocks.

Walking into the salon, I was not 100% sure that I was going to continue along the Sisterlocks path. However, I left the salon resolved that I am taking the path that is right for me. My chief concern, at that time, was how the locks would look on my head, with this length, with this coarse, nappy, frizzy, curly, coily texture. One of the things that became clear to me, sitting on that couch with RJ by my side, is that EVERYONE’S hair is different. It is virtually impossible to look at another woman’s locks and say, “Make mine look like hers!” This is the part of the process that is both scary and exhilarating at the same time.

Before we went any further, she handed me two information and disclosure forms about the consultancy to read and sign, and I headed to her chair so that she could take a closer look at my hair.

The shot above shows two installed “test” locks (one is more prominent than the other). My hair had been shampooed the day before, and it was styled using my typical curl-enhancing products.

What I like about this picture is the subtle capture of several textures throughout my TWA, up close and personal. RJ is stretching out one of the locks so that it can be clearly distinguished. It is flanked by a wiry gray hair that he pulls out as well. My hair is very thick.

Here are those same locks from two different angles (top and bottom pictures). I left the salon that day very reflective about the visit. In an effort to subdue my need for instant gratification, I walked out, somewhat disappointed, that I had to wait…I had to postpone my plans…I had to be more patient. I needed more length in the back of my head of hair. Another half inch to a full inch, so the waiting game continues. Ever watched a phone, waiting for it to ring? You get the point…

~Worth Noting: Within this blog or comments, I’ll never address or discuss the expense of any phase of my hair journey as it relates to the installation and maintenance of my Sisterlocks. I do this for one primary reason-my experience, my hair, my process, and my expense will not be yours. Every client has a different cost based on your head of hair, and it is the consultant’s responsibility to assess your hair and determine your cost. I will divulge that I have to budget my expenses to ensure that my hair receives the attention it deserves along this journey.