Thursday, June 14, 2012

Notes to Self

Dear Shoni,

1) Please stop painting your nails just before it's time to do your hair. Even when the bottle says "Quick Dry," your nails are just not going to dry that fast. Pfft.

2) A clean and uncluttered work space encourages greater productivity and creativity. You worked hard to finally make it look like this. Keep yo' desk clean, gal!

3) Ahhh... take time to stop and smell the roses, but not the ones crawling with Japanese beetles. *dry heave* 

That is all.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Do I really want long hair?

Sometimes, I'm just so over it. But then I get all excited when I'm able to do a bun. #thesagacontinues

The "long hair" topic is pretty popular in natural hair circles. Some ladies simply want to prove they can grow a long healthy head of natural afro-textured hair. Let me start by saying, it's definitely been proven... many times over.  The drive for long hair may be an even more fervent effort for anyone who struggled with length retention in general. When I first went big chopped waaaaaay back in the 90s (okay, back then it was just called a haircut), it seemed like being natural either meant sporting a very short afro or having locs. If there was something else, I didn't know about it. Hey, this was in Texas, the land of big hair and multi-colored extensions.

Back then, folks told me I looked like Dionne Farris, that fabulous vocal solo on Arrested Development's hit song of the era, Tennessee. Do you see a resemblance?
I think the top of her head is a little more square than mine, but we both have MASSIVE foreheads.

Some just like the look or the versatility that length provides. I fall into this latter category. I never had issues with growing my hair out when it was relaxed. Breakage wasn't an issue, but scalp burns and irritation were.

I am currently in what I call, the in-between length. My hair is long enough for twists, but just barely long enough to put into a bun or a ponytail holder. I can easily do side puffs, but then I look like a 30-year-old trying to pass for a middle school kid. NOT COOL.

I look at bloggers such as Newly Natural and Glamazini, and videos such as this one hour blow-dry by Apriluv7779 and anything by Longhairdontcare2011 and am enthralled.  They are just a few of many chronicling their natural hair journeys and providing great info to those of us who are interested in growing long, healthy natural hair. But sometimes, I consider my lifestyle and wonder if it's really for me. Will I spend hours fretting over styling? Seriously, I don't have HOURS upon end to spend doing hair, and that's part of the reason why I wanted to go natural in the first place -- too avoid spending a ton of time on it. In retrospect, I realize that concept was misguided. I believe no matter how you wear your hair, if you want it to thrive you will likely spend a certain amount time and a concerted effort to take good care of it.

Protective styling is OK, but I much prefer to wear my hair out, which according to some is not the way to grow long natural hair (though many do just fine without a ton of protective styles). BTW, if my livelihood depended on my ability to do cornrows, I would be in big trouble. I get this funky halo effect with any style which lays flat on my head.  Because my hair is fine and soft, it slides out of these types of styles easily and looks fuzzy by around Day 3.

Thankfully, I was reminded today by some blog or vlog that I should enjoy where I am in the natural hair journey at every moment, keeping in mind the various styles and joys we can experience at any given length. It's about having the right attitude. I needed to see that today. So for now, I'm pressing on.  Hmm, poor choice of words. I'm not pressing my actual hair. Haaaaa....

Wanna see what my hair looks like as of this week? Check out this recent video from my little YT channel:

...and here are a couple pics from tonight, including my huge regal forehead, plus my husband hovering over me, just DOUBLE-DOG DARING me to talk about cutting my hair. Don't worry, Mr. Chuckie, I'm not going to do it... today. Bah-haha-haaaa!

scary picture!

crazy lazy twist updo (strictly for around the house!)

Until next time, darlings, grace and peace...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Infertility Crisis

"Be excited beyond disappointment."

Our spiritual dad and pastor gently spoke these words into our spirits a few years ago. At the time, I really didn't get it.

It was 2009. Charles and I were in the midst of yet another fertility treatment, trying to conceive. It's an expensive process, not just financially but also emotionally and physically. Hormones are blazing. Anticipation is high. I was popping pills and injecting myself with drugs, which in and of itself was quite a feat!  Needles make me queasy. And of course, there's never a guarantee of success... just the prayer, the hope that maybe -- just maybe -- it will work. Maybe this time God will give us the desires of our hearts.

This time. Time creeps as the wait begins. It started with waiting in a softly lit room, resting face up on the procedure table with my knees bent. The nurse just left. My husband is holding my hand and we're praying. We exit the doctor's office, passing parenting magazines and pictures of success stories -- happy babies, multiples, cards and letters of thanks. We go home to live "normally," and wait for the miracle to manifest. I think I feel flutters inside, and of course it could just be my imagination or too much ice cream... but maybe it's not!  Days go by as we wait for the call. My cell phone is basically glued to my hand.

When the call finally comes, my heart leaps into the air, suspended and motionless. I'm listening intently, hoping to hear threads of excitement in the doctor's voice preceding a boisterous "Congratulations!" But each time I get the call and hear the cordial greeting followed by the barely audible sigh, I know what's coming next and my heart drops back into my gut. For some reason, I always got the call while I was at work, which meant the rest of work day was going to be...just sad. Keep it professional for four more hours, and then you can cry. 

After three cycles of this, we just couldn't do it anymore.

In other news... the world is still spinning on its axis and life continues. It's funny how you notice pregnancies a lot more often when you're trying to get pregnant (guess this is true whenever you want something -- marriage, a new car, long natural hair). People are having babies like they just went on clearance at Costco. Friends, family members, coworkers, married people, single people, young people, older people. People who were going through similar treatments were getting pregnant, and people who definitely weren't trying at all were getting pregnant, too. There came a time when I could barely walk through the kid's clothing section in Target without my cheeks getting hot and my eyes watering.

In the midst of all this, I'm supposed to be excited beyond disappointment

Okay, so this means I should pick myself up, dust myself off and assume the happy stance, right? So I did. I put on my imaginary cape and super-Christian-fairy dust sprinkles, but I didn't feel excited. I felt disappointed. Crushing disappointment. Heartbreak. It was hard. Sometimes I was strong, but my spiritual knees were trembling under the weight of all this emotion, and the why, and the wondering.

Thankfully, yes, I (we) were standing on a sure foundation. We were given a measure of faith, and somewhere deep down on the inside I remembered His promises. I remembered times before when I thought He wouldn't pull through, but He did, and often in ways I never would have guessed. God is in control. God is still on the throne. After all, that's what the wife on Facing the Giants said just before she found out she was pregnant.  But few things could ease that ache deep down in places where no one, not even my husband sometimes, could go.

I felt alone and I felt lonely. It's one of those subjects people don't talk about very often over dinner. Perhaps for this same reason, people don't know what to say. At the time, people who knew we were trying to have a baby made attempts to encourage us or make us feel better.  I often heard, "It's going to happen one day. Don't give up!" Others said, " I know someone who went through the same thing, and they have five kids now." That's great, but you wouldn't believe how often I heard that... sorry, it just got old.

Some even essentially prophesied (?) when we would get pregnant (this happened several times, in fact). I don't take for granted that people cared. It's just that sometimes people say stuff they shouldn't say, because they don't know what to say. Sometimes, it's better to just pray.

One day, faith kicked in. It started kind of like an old-school gas-powered, eco-angry lawn mower. I pulled the thingy the first time and it huffed a little bit. On the second pull, my biceps got a little stronger and I fixed my face. On the third try, it cranked and revved full-throttle. Okay, enough with the lawnmower reference, but in all seriousness, rather than waxing cold my faith increased. This is more than just thinking positive. This is bigger than just bucking up and holding my little chin up high. God's faithfulness abounded and touched me where all the encouragement in the world could not. I'm still here. I still love Him. More importantly, He still loves me. He created me for a purpose. There is a call on my life to mother, and I'm going to operate in that call even with children who are not my own... I realize how that could sound stalker-ish, but it's really not. Our lives are full of kids who need encouragement, wisdom and love, and I today I am fully-excited about being Miss Shoni and Aunt Shoni. In the end, no one's kids are really "theirs" anyway. They belong to God. We should treat them as precious, and raise them up according to His standards, because He created them and they are His.

The next steps for us are foster care and adoption. This doesn't mean we've given up on God or on the miracle of natural childbirth taking place in our marriage, but I do know something about the spirit of adoption from having been adopted by God Himself. We believe our kids are already here and we will foster and adopt for them, not for ourselves. It's a huge commitment and we've learned SO MUCH about... too much for this post. I'll write about it at some point later.

There's so much more I could say right now, but I don't want the post to be 10 pages long, so I'll stop here.  I'm writing this post because I personally have found it challenging to find people like me -- young-ish, black, Christian, who've been through this. I'm not discounting other ages, races or people of other faiths who've been through the same thing, but my God... sometimes you just want to know that someone understands. My husband and I know that God gets us, even when no one else does (even the people closest to us). Maybe you're reading this, realizing on some level, "She understands what it's like. I'm really not alone in feeling this way." At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I say, "This post is for you, dear sister."

To anyone reading, I just thank you for taking the time to read it. I'm so grateful for how God has moved in my life, for all He's done, and for His great and wondrous plans which are perfect.

For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 
- Jeremiah 29:11

Faith takes me where God wants me to go, and it leads me, rather than me leading it.
Crises are faith journeys. Be still. Hush. Wait on the Lord.
- excerpts from Apostle JH, spiritual dad, June 1, 2012