Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Talking to Naturals Offline, IRL

[Photo Source]

While dipping into Target last night for a loaf of bread, a quart of milk, and a stick of butter, I spotted a lady (not the one shown above) with an impressive head of long, thick, loose natural hair at the Starbucks Cafe. Even if it was a sew-in, oh well, because her mane was just gorgeous! I saw her again as I was leaving and thought, "I should stop her and ask if I can take her picture for the blog..." but it was storming like crazy and I was rushing home for a fantasy football draft, so I didn't do it. And now I'm a bit disappointed with myself for not at least saying hello.

Besides all the extra stuff, why didn't I talk to her? It's not because of shyness -- well not anymore, thank God. I often interact with naturals when I venture out, and in the Triangle area they are easy to spot. We usually acknowledge each other's twists, braid-outs and big afros with a polite smile and a nod, and sometimes it will lead to a good conversation about NC humidity which is our never-ending story (flashback for '80s kids!), hair products, or just some encouragement for the journey/process.

Sometimes folks are in a hurry or on a mission (like me) and don't have time to chat. I also recognize not all naturals are as into hair as others. There's so much life to be lived and more important things to have in common besides "hair." I've met a number of women who are NOT reading blogs, thumb-upping YouTube videos or pining over pics of updos on Fotki and LeCoil. I still meet naturals -- and they're not newbies -- who've never heard about Kinky-Curly or SheaMoisture, even though they are so commonly mentioned online.

Online. The natural community online is so rich and vast! The girl next door writing the hair blog or appearing in an interview is just a click away on my reader. In several instances, I've exchanged thoughts and ideas with them virtually from around the world. It sounds kind of weird and stalker-ish, but I promise it's really not. It's just nice to be able to reach out, connect, and know you're not the only one trying to figure out what kind of brush to buy.

This is certainly not a new thought. In fact, I think Essence did an article on this several years ago. How wonderful would it be if this same sense of community between online naturals extended to the everyday face-to-face experience. I'm blessed to have it at my church home and through some natural ladies at work. This type of personal interaction might be harder to come by organically in a big city environment, based on what I remember while living in NY and TX. We tend to walk fast and don't stare at each other and grin in NYC, lest someone thinks we're going to ask for money. But, this is when it can be helpful to find meet-up groups, events, or places where naturals generally congregate on a smaller and more intimate scale. These types of events, conferences and hair/beauty shows seem to be happening a lot more frequently lately, which is so nice to see.

I'd like to hear about your interactions with naturals wherever you live/work/play. Is most of your experience with naturals online, in real life (IRL), etc.?

Just my random thought about hair today. Have Give a blessed day!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Help My Unbelief

Lord, help my unbelief.

Last night's Bible study delved into the account of the father with a tormented son who came to Jesus and his disciples for help. This Dad was desperate. He knew his son was afflicted by a spirit which struck him dumb and caused him to thrash and foam at the mouth. It went on for years, even throughout childhood. The demonic spirit tried to kill this boy, as the father explains to Jesus:

And oft times it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.- Mark 9:22

If you can do it, Lord.  Please just do something.  Anything... if you can. Please help me.

Ah that little word "if." God knows I've been in this place many times. Perhaps you've been there, too.  I've read the promises of God, heard teachings from wise leaders, pastors and prophets, fasted and prayed to the Lord for a miracle, a sign, something... only to wonder if it would ever really happen. I know He can do it, so why do I wonder even for a fleeting moment?  Unbelief took up residence quietly, sitting on a stool in the corner of my mind, observing, questioning and doubting. I had some belief... but it wasn't 100% sure.    

So Jesus responds to the father, saying:

...If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. - Mark 9:23-24

In the following moments, Jesus rebukes and casts out the spirits in the boy, and he is made whole. The young man and his father are forever changed. As Apostle Holloway noted, "The father will never see his son the same way again!" It's a powerful testimony. God responds to our belief. He wouldn't call us to do so if we were not capable of doing so fully, with our whole hearts. And I can't will "unbelief" away. I need His help. I'm desperate for Him. And so I call out to Abba Father, because God can do it, and I can and do believe. It doesn't mean I'm perfect at this, but my faith is increased daily as I stay in Him and call on Him. Nothing is too hard for God.

All things are possible to him that believeth.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Video-Of-The-Day: The BIBLE Song by TDG and SaulPaul

Dude! (Read: Shones is excited) Anyone remember The State Song, the little ditty listing the 50 states? I learned it in grade school and still remember it. Anyway, check out this similar incredibly catchy and very useful song about the books of the Bible.

Thanks to TDG and SaulPaul for putting this together.
Stay in Him!

My Eureka Moment: Length is Subjective!

Sometimes what should be obvious to me just isn't. Today after watching a Glamazini vid on YouTube, I realized hair length -- when not described in common units of measurement -- is subjective. Woo-hoo! I get a gold star and now I can have a cookie and go to recess.

You can watch the video below, but here's my takeaway from it: APL (armpit length), BSL (bra strap length), or any other similar type of hair measurement depends on the dimensions of the person. In other words, someone with a long neck (like Tyra) or a long head (like me!) might have x-inches of hair, but it won't hit in the same place as a more petite woman... or woman with a smaller head.

Here's her latest video, "How Long Is Your Hair?"...

BTW, Glamazini is a married Christian based in St. Louis, one of my fave hair vloggers, and a praise and worship dancer... Go 'head, warrior woman. Yay, God! Like Glamazini, I do not regularly measure my hair. I mentioned earlier this week how huge my fro is getting, but I've yet to take a ruler to it. I like her method of stretching it using your arms for sort of an unofficial idea of hair length. Perhaps I'll start doing this.

Random thought: Do I even own a ruler?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I'm Scissor-Happy.

(Is it just me, or does hair look smaller in pics than it does IRL?)
August 2011

My fro is getting to be quite large, making my typically easy routine a bit more intensive. I enjoy and am thankful for length and thickness, yet it requires more time, energy, product, etc.. So what am I going to do about it? My first thought: CHOP.

Aug 2011

Every time my hair gets to be about this length, I develop a strong urge to cut it. I'm not talking about a trim or having it shaped into an uber-cool style like Patrice (Afrobella), Cassadie (NaturalSelection) or Nisus (ItsJustHair). I tend to go for broke, straight back to TWA, which is precisely what I did two years ago this month. After about 18 months of growing out my loose natural hair, I took my husband's electric clippers and shaved it all off in the bathroom. He just shook his head...

Niagara Falls, August 2009
I kept my hair short purposefully for several months following that shave-off. Now, I'm about to completely out myself to those close to me who looked at me with concern and said, "Why did you cut your hair?"

The length wasn't my only issue. The night I cut it two years ago, in a moment of spontaneity and in a desire to darken my hair for the fall, I dyed my hair black. Actually, it was blue-black. And see, my hair has always been reddish dark brown, but for a long time I thought it was black, or that at least I could get away with dying it black because of my skin tone. I thought I could wear just about any color, except maybe blonde. Boy, was I wrong.
Pretty on the box, not-so-pretty on me.

After the L'Oreal Feria #21 home dye job mishap, I looked vampy and washed out, like an extra in a Twilight knock-off flick. The black natural Elvira. It was really bad, ya'll. I could hardly look at myself in the mirror because it was such a drastic contrast with my skin tone, and no amount of make-up I tried made me look alive, and it was so big and fluffy, I couldn't cover it up, and I was about to start a new job as a government consultant... it was just a hot mess in every direction. *Sigh* I was overwhelmed, so I chopped it off.

But this time I'm not going to cut it. For one, no more spontaneous decisions regarding my hair or anything else, for that matter.  I've got nothing against functional and stylish haircuts, nor do I have any issues with women who have a length goal for their hair. Why should anyone need to justify wearing her hair in a particular way -- curly, straight, long or short? I simply know for myself chopping would be the easy way out. Too often when things get tricky -- even with small things -- I want to cut and run, but that's not a mark of maturity. To speak of hair in this way might seem trivial to some, but I know that even the small things count for something.

I don't have an actual length goal, but I do want to see what I can accomplish creatively through length and volume. I will keep watching videos for style inspiration and will start washing my hair in twists to improve detangling sessions. I will keep the promise I made to myself and my husband not to cut it the first chance I get.  I will have amazing Michelle Obama biceps from doing more twist and flat twist styles. I'm just going to do it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Head Scarves Tutorial Video

Everyone who knows me well knows I love scarves.  I'm simply a huge fan of colorful swaths of fabric swimming around my face -- big, small, sheer, heavy, stretchy, satiny, geometric, vintage, anything goes.

I probably own about 40-50 right now (I cut back, gave some old ones to Goodwill). When my husband travels on business and wants to bring something back for me, he knows scarves will be a surefire hit. I regularly check out the scarf selection at different stores -- TJMaxx, Marshalls, Ross, Target, H+M, thrift and consignment shops, etc.

Scarves can be found at varying price points, and their versatility improves the CPW (cost-per-wear). You can fold them around your neck, roll them up to create a fabric necklace, layer over your lap for modesty at church, or sash around your waist. You can wrap it around your shoulders when it's chilly at work. They're so practical.

I also often wear scarves in my hair, and not just on bad hair days.

I hope you enjoy, and if you have ways of tying scarves that I didn't include, please share with me!

Friday, August 5, 2011

I'm Out of Products! What Should I Buy?

Oyin Honey-Hemp Conditioner

I've used up almost all of my product stash.  I had about 10 different conditioners, and now almost every bottle is empty.  Even my styling products are low, including shea butter from Butters-N-Bars.com.  I still have plenty of KCCC. That stuff could last me another 2 years (little goes a long way).

My faves right now are Trader Joe's Nourish & Shine, basically any Giovanni Direct, and SheaMoisture's Deep Treatment Masque, which is truly better as a leave-in and for twists/twist outs.  I'm looking for max slip, dual- or triple-purpose, and a wonderful scent.  If I can use it for twist-outs, it gets extra points.

I still have some Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose, but I find it works better in the colder months.  MOP Mixed Greens is effective, but it smells like salad... IDK. I've never tried Oyin, Qhemet, or Curlz, or MyHoneyChild. 

I'm open to just about anything, with a preference for paraben-free.

Do you have any recommendations for me? :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Loc or Free-Form?

As a natural, deciding whether to loc your hair or go free-form (loose hair) can be a tough call. Well, at least it was for me.

Both styles are gorgeous, but once you get past aesthetics, how do you know which style is right for you? Based on my experience wearing locs (twice, for a total of 8 years) and loose natural hair (the last 4 years), here's my quick rundown on what I feel is great and not-so-great about both options.

More after the jump.