Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cyber Mean Girls

I just wanted to write about this ridiculous trend in the online world, specifically on hair blogs that feed into the 'crabs in a barrel' mentality that black folks seem to constantly keep alive (I here I thought we were supposed to be keeping hope alive): mean girls.

I won't even dare to call them women because they seriously act like the mean girls in middle school who thought they were the shit because they have boobs while the rest of us are searching for ours like a game of Where's Waldo.

The internet is such an amazing tool. We can find information instead of having to purchase a set of Britannica Encyclopedias, we can video chat, we can shop 24 hours, we can build our own websites... and we can talk a lot of shit!

Black women, my sisters (from another mother and father), my friends, ladies...can we please stop with the constant bashing of each other? What happened to being able to state one's opinion without being an asshole in one's method. What happened to class?

I check some hair blogs (less than I have in the past as a result of this) and the comments sections are horrendous. Everyone thinks there's an expert. Everyone's way is the right way (truth: it may be the right way for them, but who knows if it's the right way for someone else). Everyone is a style expert. And these chicks who are stuck on the whole hair typing system, for the love of all that is holy - trust me, there are more important things out there than arguing on the internet with a bunch of strangers, about someone claiming to be a 4A when they're really a 4C.  And then there are the wannabe web designers and editors who attempt to blast webmasters for what they feel the website that they have willingly visited is lacking. As someone building a web business myself, I welcome feedback and suggestions, but don't scold me because I can't read your mind about what colors and fonts you would have preferred on MY website (seriously, now I know why men get frustrated with us with the whole expecting someone else to read our minds bullshit). Ladies, there is a difference between a suggestion, and a scolding.

The comments section has taken a lot of joy out of me reading some blogs, or I just skip it all together, which is sad because on of the greatest things about the internet is the interactive nature of it. I don't want to correspond with a computer - I want to communicate with people, but somewhere along the way some people have gotten it into their heads that corresponding electronically exempts them from all kinds of maturity and class that I hope our parents have tried to instill in us while they were raising us. Or maybe folks use the anonimity of the internet to dump on others to make themselves feel better and powerful (falsely, by the way) because they've had a shitty day (but that's a whole other blog entry). Either way, keep your 'crazy', your 'nasty', your 'funkiness' to yourself, pleas, and let's seriously behave as ladies, and not act like those fake ass 'Housewives' we see on television.

(I did say please!)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Proof I haven't completely lost myself

This kid is my hero. I love him. I don't know him, but I love him.

Life's dream fulfilled in 24 seconds: A Holy Angels team manager with cerebral palsy got his wish to play Wednesday night.

Physical Therapy

Note: this isn't my MRI scan

I recently received the results of the second MRI I had as a result of the car accident on October 15.

Just to back track a bit - on April 15, 1998 I was hit by a NYC taxi. I was crossing the street on Third Avenue and 22nd Street, one block from the main building of my school (School of Visual Arts, SVA stand up!). I had the light in my favor to cross, so I did. A taxi was making a left turn from 22nd Street onto Third Avenue... and he hit me. Fast forward past neck and back braces, being bedridden for almost 2 months, the threat of not finishing my work in time to graduate (thank God my degree focus was on screenwriting and not production - you can type while on your back I learned), many years of chronic back and neck pain, tough pregnancy, having to train my son not to hug me too tight because at any moment he can throw my back out, being hit from behind (by my sister-in-law, in Virginia) and so on and so forth, and we come to October 15, 2012.

So according to Dr. K (he says to call him that because his Polish name is very difficult to pronounce... I tell him I have a difficult name too and make it a point to learn people's names correctly, he insists I call him Dr. K... ok, anyway...), Dr. K tells me a few weeks ago that my first MRI that my neck is herniated between the c-5 and c6 bones, and most recently in my lower back, the area between the 4th and 5th discs are bulging and the L-5 disc is herniated (and not only re-injured but in worse condition than made from the first time I was hit).

Luck for me at the time back then, and I guess now as well, I was someone who always worked out. And once I'd first been injured back in 1998 and went through intense physical therapy, that treatment stayed with me all these years. It was during that period of time that I was introduced to the exercise ball and exercise bands. I was already into fitness after being active in sports as a kid, and dancer in high school. Most recently, I'd become a runner, which proved to be one of the best exercises for my body and my mind. And then October 15, 2012 happened, and I haven't run since. 50% of the reason is because the therapist said not to, but since I'm stubborn and know my body (at least I think I do most of the time), I had plan to run anyway. I haven't. Depression and loneliness set in and my will to do it (and I have gotten dressed many times in an attempt to), hasn't been there (so you know I'm made that I let my mental shit take running away from me, or to be really real, I gave it away, like other things in life. Anyway...)

What Dr. K said Friday kinda made me mad. I've been wasting away (I'm sure it's not really as dramatic as I make it sound, but it's how I feel) for the past 2 months especially. I'm still kind of strong, but not as strong as I usually am, and I know this physical weakness has enhanced the emotional weakness that I'd been feeling. So I made the decision to get moving again. During a spirited conversation with my sister, who practically yelled "why won't they do back surgery now!!!????", I proclaimed that I would take over my own well being and not help the degeneration of my spine along.

Now, anyone who really knows me - like who's been to my apartment and seen my stuff - knows that I have what some have labelled a mini gym in my small apartment. Everything from a boxing heavy bag (as featured in a previous post) to a bike to ride the trails, to roller blades, hand weights, yoga stuff, Pilates stuff, workout stuff for the Wii, DVDs, CDs, books... yeah (they didn't call me gym rat for nothing). And on top of the supplements and nasty health concoctions that I got used to making and ingesting - there really is no excuse. But I did go out and get a couple new Yoga DVDs (one by Jillian Michaels called Yoga Meltdown (she scares me), which is for when I get to the point where I feel my stamina has increased, and Yoga for Stress Relief and Flexibility, something we all know I need like yesterday.

So this morning I woke up, depressed (which 'shame on me' since there's nothing depressing about waking up). Didn't go to the Parent Association meeting (don't wanna hear why the school's grade keeps going down, just not in the mood - talk about a hook and reel sale), and honestly had the intention to be productive, but not the will to. Shed some tears, finished last night's beer (I know, that was a really really bad thing to do), buried my head under several pillows, read through a novel, scolded myself, told myself I was great, told myself I wasn't so great, thought about Grandma, thought about if I had another child, if I was lucky to even live a long life, it still wouldn't be enough time to see my child with his or her children... basically buggin out this morning. And then I thought about my back pain and rolled myself - literally - out of the bed. Did a little cleaning, whipped out the Jasmin essential oil, lit up the diffuser, dusted off the yoga mat, dimmed the lights, threw on a sports bra and popped in the Yoga for Stress Relief and Flexibility DVD - on the surround sound system so I would feel like the heifer was in the room with me. I did 73 minutes of yoga (there are 2 programs, one for flexibility - ouch - and the other for stress relief), and I have to say that mojo woke my spirit up. I feel like parts of me that haven't gotten air for a long time, took a deep breath. It doesn't mean I'm out of the woods yet, physically or emotionally, but I did remind myself not just that I lived, but that I'm alive. There is still a lot of pain here, but some relief, and a bit of fire as well as these words hit me in the middle of a stretch that used to be easy to me: Success is the best revenge.

It's what I got for now. Sure 'do it for yourself' is a great one to, but to the thieves, the witches, peek-a-boo, haters and spiritual vampires out there, I just keep thinking 'get ready to hear 'check mate bitch' because SUCCESS IS THE BEST REVENGE.

Honorable mention for any back pain suffers out there: check out the book Treat Your Back Without Surgery: The Best Nonsurgical Alternatives for Eliminating Back and Neck Pain - I picked that little diddy up from one of Barnes and Nobles discount book racks a couple of years ago. It was a great purchase and the info is very helpful.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Homemade Facial Scrub Recipe

Here's a quick recipe that I've been making for a couple months now. It clears my skin better than any store bought medicated cream (which kinda pisses me off if you think about all of the money I've spent over the past 20 years of fighting acne).

  • water
  • niacin (antioxidant that helps fight acne, inflammation, sagging skin, and dull skin tone)
  • aspirin (salicylic acid )

  • saucepan
  • tea cup
  • spoon
  • generic condiment container
NOTE: Do not use this recipe if you are allergic to aspirin. Even though you're not swallowing an aspirin in this case, aspirin still gets into your blood stream while using it as a topical treatment.

For this recipe we will concentrate on creating enough scrub to fill a small condiment container (I purchased a set of 10 from my local Deals store, but you can use anything that has a cover to store the scrub)

Bring a few ounces of water to a boil in a saucepan.

Crush 5 Niacin and 3-4 Aspirin pills in a mortar and place in tea cup.

Add a little bit of the boiling water to the crushed pills and start stirring.

When the water is first added, it should be of a loose, soupy consistency. Keep stirring and it will get thicker. I prefer to get it to the consistency of snot (sorry, there's no pretty word for snot).

Store the finished product in a small, generic condiment container.

Cover and use at will. Note that not only do I and my son (who is starting to go through puberty) use this as a scrub, we also use this as an overnight spot treatment. This mixture can wipe out the most serious of pimples in 2-3 days, and fades scarring better than any over the counter product that I have every purchased.

Next up, I'm going to change up the recipe a bit by adding MSM and aloe juice. Stay tuned.

Excuses, Excuses

This amateur blogger has some. And I have spent the better part of the past 2 months scolding myself for them.

  • Lost my job - check
  • Lost the only man I cared about in over a decade - check (or more like he 'checked out')
  • (Almost) lost life in car accident - check (but thank God we didn't)
  • Lost a little bit of my mind watching a car come at us and wondering for a split second how to save my son - check
  • Lost car - check
  • Identity stolen and used to purchase almost $2400 of electronics
  • ID thief requested credit increase in my name (was denied, thank God!)
  • Lost sleep - check
  • Lost peace of mind - check
  • Lost confidence - check
I'm all checked out and wondering how to get it back because there is a part of me that believes that this isn't the end. I can get a job, get a bigger more comfortable place to live, have the creative life I crave, maybe even find love again and (gasp) get married and have at least another child, sleep peacefully, eat food without immediately feeling the intense need to puke it up, and more.

On the flip side, there is that louder, annoying, screechy shrew of a voice that says 'your done... just be glad to find a job doing anything and forget about whatever extra you had planned for your life.' I hate that bitch. And it is that hate for that shrew that pushes me to not fully check out. But I have been left to wonder what is going on with me that I have such a difficult time pulling it together? Surely, I've been through upheavals before - some pretty bad shit too. Sure, I'm older and maybe a little bit slower, but still... my resolve shouldn't be slower. What's up with that? I truly had no idea, and so I hid in a cave, communicating with only a few people while I tried to sort it all out. I came out of my cave a bit this week and reconnected with friends (brief chats) and something one woman said to me clicked when I tried to explain why I couldn't handle engaging with everyone, and why driving scares me so much now, and why I can't eat without getting a stomach ache, or why I'm just so damn tired all the time.

She said "you've experienced trauma, it's going to take time to get over all of the things that have happened over the past 5 months."

Ok, I already knew I'd been through a lot these past few months, but in my mind I immediately went into fix-mode, not allowing myself to really digest the impact of the things that have happened. I even remember saying to myself "take it on the chin and keep going." And while that sounds great for Rocky in part 9 of the movie series, for real people, that's not necessarily a good thing.


Why haven't I been able allow myself to accept that I experienced one trauma after another?

I have this habit of thinking that as long as you don't stop moving, the enemy hasn't won. Interestingly, I don't even have to wait for the enemy to take me out since I manage to do it to myself by literally running myself into the ground. And let me tell you, there is no glory in that. Putting "she worked herself to death" on my tombstone is not cute. And so here I am now, with at least 10 drafts of blog entries I've yet to publish, a website that I stopped building right after the car accident, now almost 2 months ago... walking in constant fear of rejection from a job... not even wanting to put myself in a situation where I could be rejected by a man...this ole girl is exhausted. And I surrender. The mask is gone... the act is over. Make no mistake, I'm not sad, just utterly confused and exhausted. I see the good for other people, and need to get back to seeing and believing it for myself.

Someone called me a 'worker bee' yesterday. Worker bee for someone else's goals, someone else's needs. That didn't make me feel good, but it did spark a little rebellious something in me, and so here I sit with my hands cradling that spark against the harsh cold wind out there, trying to keep it going, and GROWING so that it returns to the blaze it once was. Wish me luck... and don't blow on my flame, lol!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2 Squirrels tried to jack me

Seriously, I wasn't even trying to be all Jim Jarmusch with the title of this post - 2 squirrels tried to jack me, in Crotona Park today while I tried to eat pizza while pondering the direction of my life.

There I was, minding my business, already accepting the fact that Monday's car collision totaled my car, feeling the aches in my body, hoping the -ish don't get worse, thinking about the fact that I have to start buying MetroCards again and learning bus and train schedules, calculating the additional time it would take for me to complete those joyful ten-minute drives and the possibility of paying for taxi service on occasion...and then smiling - like crazy people in a park sometimes do - because, even though I didn't want to, even after I just spent hundreds of dollars on the car for some "minor" repairs, even though I know I am going to have to lay Kyle Reece to rest (that was the name of my car... note to self: name your car after characters who live, bump bravery and saving Sarah Connor!)... even though all this shit is happening right now... I don't know... I mean, I'm alive. My son is alive. My credit score is going down for the firs time in 10 years, but I'm alive. And that made me even happier than I was before the accident.

So I decided to walk across the Bronx - not exaggerating - and try to figure out if I was crazy for being so happy... did I actually die like all those people in Lost, did I accidentally inhale something that messed with the chemicals in my brain, what? Because I was walking- no, "almost" strutting like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, taking deep breaths, looking around... dude, I was even walking slow and not at that normal New York Hustle pace. I think I finally let the man go in my heart, I'm thinking about vanilla candles, Grandma (that thought actually made me almost cry), the fact that my mom actually showed up... just feeling overwhelmed and relived at the same time. I don't know what that is.

And so I decided, since I was walking in the path of my son's school, that I would buy a pizza, surprise him, and we could sit in the part together and eat it and enjoy the nice Fall season weather. Well, what had happened was, I got to the park, which is across the street from the school, about 10 minutes early. I start on slice number one (these are small slices, and I haven't eaten since Monday). Then I get into slice 2, and I hear this weird like twitching noise, now I know "twitching" is an action and not a noise, but this bold, crazy, probably rabies-filled squirrel was twitching, and I heard him (and before I even saw him). It was like the Jaws music (you know Roy Schieder heard the music too). So I'm thinking to myself, 'don't make any sudden moves because you don't know where this thing that is making the noise is, but don't be a punk either and sit there in broad daylight, near a street full of traffic, and get got by no damn squirrel either!

I turn my head to the left. No squirrel. I turn it to the right. No squirrel. I look straight ahead, but the park bench is blocking, so I raise up a bit, and there he is. And as soon as he sees that I see him seeing me, unlike a roach who scatters when the lights come on, this joker hopped up onto the bench where I was sitting and was literally eyeballing my box of pizza!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I said (yes, out loud), "Oh hell no. I know you not trying to get at my pizza." And what does the little bugger do? He comes at me. I couldn't believe it. So now, I gotta fight a squirrel, but I'm thinking no one in a passenger car or truck driving by is going to see me fighting a squirrel. They're going to see a women fighting a park bench. And I am too young to be that woman just yet. So I think fast. I think sharp tone, loud noise, hit the bench. He stops, but he doesn't run back, and that's when I do the Bruce Lee head tilt. I start stomping, and hitting the bench, and yelling, yes, at a damn squirrel.

Then I noticed people starting to walk by, so I decided to move to a different park bench that was further from the tree and closer to the street. I relax. I'm finishing up that second slice of pizza. Then I hear the twitching again, but I see my old nemisis still on the park bench, but this time the twitching is closer. Another damn squirrel is rushing me! For my pizza!

And at that point I didn't care who heard or saw me. I yelled at the squirrels. If I had something to throw at them I would have. I couldn't believe they would disrespect me by trying to take my pizza. And then I came back down to Earth and conceded use of the park bench to them. I didn't want to explain to cops that the squirrels were trying to get me. So I picked up my pizza box, and left. Quickly!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Hard Truth about Self Reflection

Mirror Mirror on the wall, WTF is my problem?

We all have those moments in life when we're forced to stop and look in the mirror. Really look in the mirror, and I have to say from experience, I'm not always liking what I see. AND maybe something that I saw 10 years ago, isn't as attractive now which is in the top 5 of ultimate mind fucks if you ask me.

One of the hardest things I've found in my latest journey, is looking at myself and being open enough with myself to say 'that ain't cute. Change that now please.' I've been doing that a lot lately, and while it can sometimes be so painful to endure - giving yourself an overdue ass whooping - I will say, I think, I hope, that all of this painful self reflection is for the better, I mean it has to be, right?

I won't go into my entire laundry list of things, but one of the things I know I have to work on (and I think I've made a lot of strides with even in just the past 2 weeks) is that I am way too hard, on myself and other people. I think there are a lot of instances where I lack the patience. With myself I'm used to "oh, you want me to do something... ok, I'll get right on it" and I do, get right on it. Why? Because I said I would. Why? Because I don't want to go back on my word. Even when I have 20 million other things on my 'to do' list? Yes. But why? Because I'm fucking nutcase!

And that's a pleasant self-dialogue.

With other people, it's pretty much the same thing but with a twist, and I've found that because other people aren't as insane as I am - you know, dropping what they're doing to do something else, because why would someone want to finish one thing before starting something else? I've found that I am more apt to not trust the word of another person because they are not as willing to drive themselves insane like I am. Like I was.

Man, I'm so chill about some things now you'd think I was high, and I have never smoked a blunt in my life (true story...would you believe I told someone that and they didn't believe me? It's funny), but trust, it is/ was not an easy destination to reach. I equate it to the childbirth journey...4 days of labor pains, 11 hours on the epidural...a room full of medical students...nurses who want to tell me to lay down when I want to sit up (and I do)...a pain in a nether region that is so great that there honestly are no words to describe (unless feeling link a dragon is trying to escape the bowels of hell through your entire middle region is sufficient)...pushing that little bugger out because he's taking too long... and then passing out... that's why this period of self-reflection has felt like. And that was the PG version.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It all starts with Mufasa

I had a little talk with my son today when he mentioned that my hair - which I'm now wearing in a blow out because the -ish tangles too damn much - looks like Mufasa's. Then we proceeded to talk about how in the animal kingdom, the lion with the beautiful mane and the bird with the prettiest colors are always the male. My son asked me why. I said 'because the male has to work hard and do whatever he can to attract the female' and if those words didn't hit me as they left my mouth, I don't know what did.

The man has to work to get the woman. He has to dance, and sing sweet songs, and do a sexy dance (not no damn grinding) to get the woman.

"Why" my son asked?
"To make up for the fact that we're the one's who go through child birth" was my response.
"But we're in the animal kingdom too" he said.
"You are correct" I responded.

By on the real, it hit me in the simplest way. The male species wants to be able to say that he beat out the other males to get the female. If there was no competition between males, I seriously think they would be happy sitting around and scratching their balls all day, but let another male, with his own set of balls come along, and what are they going to do?: Compare who can scratch their own balls the fastest?

I'm going off track here, but I've decided to look at this dating thing from the female bird, lion, deer, goat, and sloth (yes, I saw a show the other day where two male sloths fought for the attention and affection of one female sloth - I done seen it all): I'm going to just be me, a woman, and if there is a man who catches my attention, he'll get a signal to get to work!

A Voice, the Memories

Today was one of those days where I hadn't plan to do much. I'd spent the better part of the past few days designing a project for a film festival. I'd also finished a short film script and felt creativity in everything that I was doing. I felt good about the work that I'd put in on myself and projects I'd committed to (even though I didn't make any money).

I went food shopping with my mom and the strangest thing happened today. I was standing by the orange juice waiting as my mom browsed the frozen food section and the strangest thing happened. A woman spoke to another woman who was either her daughter or granddaughter. I don't even remember what she said, all I know is that she sounded exactly like my Grandmother Ida.

My Grandmother was the second to last child in a family of nine children. Born and raised in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, my grandmother is what I would call a spitfire. Being the second and youngest daughter, I'm sure there was a lot of fighting for attention in such a large family, including the pain of losing her mother at the age of three. We in the family talked about it over the years, and we believe she never got over that loss. And with her being sort of the black sheep of the gang, with a super-strict hard nosed father, an eventual step mother who did not like her, and abusive siblings - my Grandma definitely grew up feeling like it was her against the world (and trust me, I know all about growing up in a large family and feeling like a black sheep).

My Grandma had four children - three boys and one girl (my mom). All by different men. Never married any of them. The interesting thing is, from what I'm told, my Grandma had one of those 'deal with it or get the fuck out of my home' attitudes when it came to men, which makes me laugh when I think about how I wish I had a tenth of that attitude. According to her children she wasn't the most outwardly affectionate of people with them, but they all agreed that Grandma worked, took care of them, made sure the bills were paid, and knew how to party as well. I've seen photos of my Grandma when she was a young woman. Wow. She just had IT. And I could see how men would follow behind her no matter how much she'd curse them out, lolololol!

Anyway, I was actually the second of all of my Grandmother's children. My older cousin - whom I've never met to this day - wasn't so much in their lives after my uncle and his ex broke up. It's no excuse, but who am I to judge I suppose.

Growing up, I often had a hard time determining whether I was loved by family, except from my Grandma. She didn't baby me, she loved me. My Grandma is the only person, other than my son, I knew whose love I never had to wonder about. When I talk about how my Grandma loved me vs. how my mom and her siblings felt growing up, I wonder if all the expression of love that she didn't show to her own children, were bestowed upon me, my siblings, and my cousins.

My Grandma was around for most of my childhood before she moved to Colorado to live with my uncle and his family. She eventually came back to NY long before she passed away.

My Grandma had a lot of demons and anger, and as I got older I could feel her demons draining the life out of me at times, and this is one of the reasons why I'd kept my distance and my pregnancy from her. When I found out I was pregnant I literally lost my mind. I was a barely functioning zombie, and while I will forever feel guilty for staying away during my pregnancy, I also understand that it was for self-preservation in order to get through such a difficult time in my life. Although in retrospect, I wonder if I had gone to her would I have gotten the support I needed. I know I would have, but I also know I was so out of my mind (and sick) during that time, that I wouldn't have been able to accept comfort from her in the first place. It is one of few things that I continue to wonder about and the answer is always different (like trying to figure out the end of Inception, we always go back and forth about what the ending really means).

My Grandma died, alone, nude (she appeared to be changing her clothes), in the basement room she rented in a private house in the Bronx. It was estimated that this occurred August 20, 2002. We found her two days later. I remember looking at her, laying on the floor, and wondering what her last thoughts were before she passed. It had to be sudden because of the surprised look on her face and the fact that she appeared to be in motion of getting dressed. I hope she didn't suffer. I hope it was quick. It still devastates me to this very moment that I couldn't be there to comfort her. I still try not to be mad at God about that.

There's a book and a half worth of things that I could write about my Grandma, but of all of the things that happened during those last years of her life. I am beyond grateful that my Grandma met and knew my son. And she loved him. My mom told me she was so hurt when she found out I had a baby, and the punk in me is grateful for not seeing the look on her face when she found out, but I am so glad that God gave me the change to witness my Grandma and son together. I have a photo of them together, and the look on my son's face epitomizes how I feel about my Grandma.  And that's why when I heard that woman's voice in the supermarket today, I broke down and cried, right in front of the orange juice section, with strangers looking at me like I'd lost my mind. And interestingly, I was so grateful that my mom was there because I know she knew.
(Grandma & Elijah)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blow out look

I don't blow out my 'do often, but in the midst of going through some trying times I wanted a different look. I achieved this look  by washing and conditioning (I don't recall deep conditioning. I was thinking at the time that I wouldn't keep this look for more than 3 days max), blow drying with a comb attachment, and flat ironing on medium heat in pretty large sections.

Here's a recap of my journey from May 2010-2011:

And here's the recent blow out.

Side note: my skin is looking really good and you wouldn't believe what did it - niacin, aspirin and water. Stay tuned for a post on that adventure!

Back to the hair: Well, I liked the look. And I kept it for more than a week. With the change in weather, I may opt to wear a blow out look more often this winter because I am having a hell of a time keeping my 'do moisturized (even worse than the summer time).

For now I will continue to wear 'do like this top bun (or my triple bun since my hair is so thick) - it's not a blow out, but a stretched dry method simply because it takes days for my thick hair to air dry.

Side note: I started using Black Castor Oil, and I feel like it actually dries my hair out.

I would give it away if I wasn't so afraid of subjecting someone to the results I've experienced. I will be going back to my regular castor oil as soon as possible.

The 'Do-Over' Do-Over

It has been a rough road lately - even more so than usual - because I did not realize my confidence was shot until I damn near bled out from the pain.

Let me explain.

As many other people have or are experiencing, I worked in a very toxic environment for over 5 1/2  years. It would get to me at times, but I put a lot of effort into leaving the drama at the door once I left the building, so that I could put on my mommy hat and give my son all that he needed of me without the stress at the office invading our safe space at home. Before getting this last assignment, I'd done some long-term temp work at only 3 different companies over the coarse of a little over a year. Each assignment that I received was always extended because I was such a good worker. I would always get the compliment of surprise that I would get so much work done (and here I was thinking that a temp's objective was to do work, but what do I know). And it was great - set hours, set pay, and also the freedom to not get entangled in office politics. There was a time when I actually did not want a permanent gig because I felt so free just being able to come in, do my work, and leave.

The last assignment, which lasted 5 years and 7 months, was a roller coaster ride. I landed a spot at a very prestigious company with a long history and reputation in this country. It really was time and chance that landed me that spot. It was nearing the holidays, I'd been out of work for a couple of months, and I was running out of money. I also went against my fear of working in Manhattan again (after a horrible personal and work experience I started having anxiety attacks and realized that staying away from Manhattan was necessary in my recovery). With this latest gig I figured the commute was a straight ride, no transferring; if I get on the express train I'll be get to the office in a half hour (which was 15 minutes shorter than my longest commute to White Plains in heavy traffic), so I thought 'ok, I can do this 6-week assignment and then get the heck outta Dodge!'

It's interesting. I knew, the first day, the first couple of hours at this place, that it was not a place that I would be able to commit to without falling back into depression, anxiety, migraines, and resentment. I knew this within 2 hours of arriving at that office. But I stuck with it, for the money, the easy commute, the set hours (which was something I had to fight for even there - apparently they don't read contracts that they sign), and the work. The work fed my penchant for project management - taking a bunch of moving parts and bringing everything together. The work, even when it was crazy, was not difficult because I was in my lane. The problem came with the personalities - including my own.

I care about what I do. If my hands touch something, I take this weird kind of ownership for it. I feel responsible for seeing it to completion, and while that sounds great on paper, in practice that kind of behavior threatens egos. And my responsibilities grew, because people trusted me (and seemed relieved to have someone they could trust), but that threatened egos. My interpersonal connections with people - whether they were working for me or me them (I like to say that I work "WITH" people), it threatened egos. My ability to fix things when one part of the machine didn't do their part, assure the moving parts who were inconvenienced, and ask how the family is doing at the same time threatened egos. My popularity - from just doing my work, and being respectful and understanding, but by no means a pushover - threatened egos. Compliments from people from the basement to the top floor, from a VP to a Security Guard, from a business partner to a service provider threatened egos. And what happened when an ego is threatened? Like a cornered rat, the threatened strikes out.

In the beginning, it would happen every once in a while. After feeling like I'd gone to trial and then proven innocent again and again, the outbursts from those bruised egos would brush everything under the rug. Then came blatant rudeness, which I would address directly with the offending party in private, because I get it - sometimes things get overwhelming and you snap at the wrong people. Then came the constant rudeness, and with an audience. And that, my friends, is where I draw the line. That is when the money doesn't matter when you're getting migraines everyday from trying to decide if you're going to stand there and take it or stand up for yourself because, at the end of the day, your assignment is to do the work. Not to walk into battle everyday against a soldier who's supposed to be in the same regiment as me.

I kept a log while continuing to politely stand up for myself. Oftentimes I wondered if I was being pushed to react in a reality-show-black-girl sorta way. I refused to do that. I thought being professional would work. I was wrong. I knew the end was coming and I attributed it to us outgrowing each other, and after an incident that shocked everyone who witnessed or heard about it -and, if I were a permanent employee, I could sue for - I stated that I would not accept that kind of treatment anymore. This time I made sure everyone on the floor who heard me get screamed at while on a conference call heard this as well, and even then I was quite nice about it considering the circumstances (I consider not dropping any f-bombs or threats as being nice). I submitted a written complaint, which was the cherry on top of several incidents that I had 'discussed' with HR over the years. A week later, after I'd left the office for the day and went shopping, I was informed that I was not to return. And then I returned my purchases from Sephora!

I didn't have much time to really absorb the enormity of what was happening because I was immediately pulled into several directions offering support to two important people who were going through health problems. After spending half of my summer concentrating on other people - and not 'feeling' the emotional effects of the loss of my job - I was feeling ok. I was busy, I readjusted my budget, I was approved to receive unemployment benefits. Even though I'm tired of it, struggle wasn't new to me. I decided to finally embark on the mission of business ownership, I was looking into taking classes - I really saw this as an opportunity to enhance my life. And then my son started his second year of middle school and my mood plummeted.

The phone stopped ringing to go to another doctor's appointment with someone. Friends were busy with their lives. My son was busy with the new school year. Finally, for the first time since this whole ordeal started, I felt alone and unwanted. And I struggled with that - still do to some extent.

I am so used to being of service to others that even when I crave affection and support, I always find a way to suppress that need until it overflows and I explode. After my breakdowns, the tank would be empty and then I would fill it back up with denial and distraction. This time I reached out, to someone I loved. To someone I was there for during a very scary time. The minute I displayed my vulnerability, the moment I said "I need you," he shut down. And that broke my heart.

That's when you start going through your sales receipts, reviewing all the money you spent at Target without even realizing it.

  • $45 for driving to and from another state 2 times a week. 
  • $30 for sitting in a doctor's waiting room watching The Chew. 
  • $50 for driving around with no real purpose. 
  • $62.50 for walking through the mall behind him while he hardly says anything. 
  • $85 for giving and knowing you're not receiving when he says "I'm done." 
  • $100 from driving across a bridge despite being so exhausted that you could fall asleep at the wheel.

Sometimes we spend money, thinking we're investing in something. That's how I do, because I would prefer to go without something that I might want than part with my hard earned dollars. I would prefer to keep my purse closed than find out that when I hand over my dollar to someone, they wipe their ass with it instead of folding it up neatly and putting it in a safe place.

One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling like you've been used. But I supposed in reality we all do it. I use people to listen to me or to lift my mood when I'm down and vice versa. Key words: vice versa. It must go both ways. When I give - whether it be to my job or a man - I have to feel like I am getting something in return. In the case of my circumstances, it's respect and affection. And when I don't get it I feel more broken than Humpty Dumpty who keeps getting put together with cheap glue from the dollar store, only to fall apart once the glue has dried.

So the question is, do I go back into some very familiar caves, lick my wounds and not come out for another seven years (in looking at my history, I noticed a pattern - it seems to take me 7 years to get over a broken heart)? Do I continue to not trust the word of an HR director (I didn't in the first place, which goes to show that I was done with that situation before it was officially over). Or do I listen to my son who gave me a hug yesterday and said "I know you're sad. I know there are things that are holding you down and I know it's hard, but you have to let those things go, even though you it hurts." My eleven year old told me that. And so I struggle with it. Up one minute and down the next. Knowing where my heart should be but fully aware of where it is right now. Knowing that real resolution is change. And knowing that I can only control my actions and not the actions of others. I don't know what's going to happen, and I wish I could pretend to be in pep-rally mode with this latest do-over, but I'm going to do it anyway, because I have to.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Holy Moly Hair Emergency

With all that I'm going through right now, I decided I wanted to try something a little different, look different. So, last week when I co-washed my hair, I blew if out. And it looked cool. Then I used my flat iron to run it through my hair, to help control my hair for the updo styles and chunky cornrow style I'd planned for the week.

Well, that only lasted for a couple days. (I refused to even take a photo of the very cushy bird's nest my hair had become as a result of the conditions). I even oiled my scalped and mixed and apply some shea butter mixture to my hair, hoping for something. Anything. I just wanted to make it to Sunday. AND I'd been keeping my hair in my fav Tracee Ellis Ross cornrow/ 2-strand around the head style (I don't have the fortitude at this time to find out the name of the style.  This:
Anyway, it wasn't happening anymore (oh, it looked cute for MAYBE 3 days). All I know is as I undid my twisted cornrow style this morning and a couple of strands were in my fingers instead of attached my scalp, I literally said "Oh hell no! I like my hair. I miss my hair. Where's the spray bottle???"  So After I walked my son to his summer camp, I came home, dropped my keys, and headed straight to the bathroom. Pulled out 8 hair clamps to section all of the massive hair on my head, refilled the spray bottle, pulled out some Creme of Nature Argan Oil Hair Reconstructor (yes, I used that sucka as a leave in because I felt my stuff was damaged!!! Am I overreacting a bit, sure, maybe, but it is what it is!).

I proceeded to spray a section, apply a very small (dime size) amount of the hair reconstructor, and my curls started immediately springing back. I damn near danced, in my bathroom, when I saw this. Then I added my trusty Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Smoothy. I went through each section, and instead of tension blow drying (oh no, we are staying away from any heat for am minute) and pulled it up into a wannabe bun. I added a little QP Glaze to my edges, and tied a silk headband around my hair. Here is what I 'm rocking today (minus the scarf):

 (And yes, I am smiling, for real.) Whew!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Survive and Thrive

It's been a while since I last wrote a meaningful post (that last one was a rant), and for good reason.  I could not focus, and could barely function with all that had been going on in my world, and the last thing I wanted to do was write posts that were forced and lack passion. I refuse to lie to the 3 people out there who probably read this blog, and most of all, I refuse to lie to myself (I'd like to think my actions embody the words "keeping it real").

With that, I feel comfortable and awake enough to share that I have just started my second week of being officially unemployed, and while I'm sure I haven't gone through "IT" yet ("IT" meaning 'fit, shit, hit..."etc), it really has taken me this past week to process the changes that comes along with being one of the legions of unemployed people here in America.

First, I have to express to the universe how grateful I am to have been afforded the opportunity to work and pay my bills for the past few years, especially being a "permalance" worker (permanent-temp). I was able to keep my marketing and project management skills sharp, as well as work with a lot of really good people. On the flip side, despite my current circumstance, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I am happy to no longer be working with that small number of people who - per a book that my mother once gave me - are spiritual vampires. While there are many lessons with getting through such rough circumstances (I mean, really, what's up with grown people bullying other grown people? Why haven't these issues been worked out in one's 20's????), I know that my heart, my head, and my son are very happy that I am no longer subjected to the daily confines of a very toxic work environment.

So. I don't have a job. I have a child. He starts school in a little over a month. He's growing like a weed. I get child support occasionally (I won't go further on this because I enjoy maintaining a normal blood pressure level), I have bills. My son can EAT. I need to keep the internet service on (that door to door job search thing ain't working in the Bronx - or at least not for any legal job I can think of!). I have asthma so I need to keep the AC on. Mostly everyone else I know is working during the day. What's a (older) girl to do?

Get it together. And more pointedly, don't screw around with the time I've been given.

If I really 'Luv my Texture' - love the layers that make me who I am, then the last thing I need to do is spend a significant amount of time moping. This doesn't mean that I won't have my moments (oh, I sure did yesterday), but I know that I still HAVE TO get it and make it happen.

What is "it" might you ask (or not ask... I'm gonna tell you anyway)?

"It" is:
1. Recharge my physical and emotional self
2. Reassess my goals, making plans, and carrying them out
3. Establish and stick to a new budget
4. Adjust old and setting new healthy habits
5. Believe in myself, and this journey that I am on
6. Balance all that is on my plate
7. Enjoy life
9. Strengthen my spiritual commitments

I had goals outside of the office. But I was too physically and emotionally spent to give anything to those desires once I left the office. And now, that website that I've been meaning to build, that script that I've been meaning to tweak, those new skills I've been meaning to acquire... well, since I need my internet service to assist in my job search, I might as well add these things to the to do list as well (and actually finish them).

It's scary. Really scary. And it's not like I haven't been in this situation before, but there's something about being older, and the world knowing you're older, and whether they have the belief that you can and will bounce back from something like this. Luckily, I feel like I have no choice in bouncing back even stronger and higher, because I refuse to give up. I'm too stubborn for that.

And with that, here are a couple of activities I do to keep myself physically and emotionally aligned, in an effort to get through this new stage in my life as best as possible:
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat healthy, 95% of the time (I had Cheetos this weekend, and I will not have them for another week!  Same thing with drinking - that's the treat for getting through a productive work week)
  • Exercise, every morning
  • Shower, dress, and fix my hair (simple, but needs to be said)
  • Turn off distractions while I'm working (no g-chat, no checking the Facebook page, no chatting on the phone unless it has to do with 'my business'
  • Schedule everything (I reference my old college class schedule as inspiration)
  • Schedule breaks
  • Limit daily job hunting time  and find at least 2 positions to apply to (if possible)
  • Get outside for some fresh air
  • Relax (as best as possible)
  • Don't be petrified to spend money (I'm usually like this, but even more so now. I already know I can grip a penny, so I need to not be so hard on myself with it comes to something like 'buying groceries' or investing in a new business prospect - while being uber-budget conscious as well, of course)
Those are just a few things that I am practicing at this time.
I'm sure things won't be as easy as writing a list, but I intend to do my best to keep my head above water and make it happen! (And write more on my blog!)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Short Post Chronicles

It's hot, and so I will use that as my excuse to vent.

I'm 37 years old. I have a child, I thankfully work a job, I have goals that I am actively working on achieving, and I have a good heart.

Don't ask me if my hair is real. Over and over again - even if you're joking. I'm 37, not 13 in middle school with time to be teased by boys who may or may not like me.

Also, as I learn more and more about the world of business as I embark on being a business owner myself, to all the bosses/ supervisors out there - don't talk down to your subordinate when they politely inform you that you are in fact wrong. Is this about the business or your ego? Think about that when you're lecturing someone while the whole floor hears you; realize that people stop respecting you as a result of your lack of professionalism, which is why I get more favors from folks than you do, despite your title.

Men, when a woman says 'don't touch me,' she (me) means it. And if you think you won't get hit when you disobey that directive, then she (me) will just have to hit you harder in order for the message to sink in.  I may be considered a bit bougie to be from the Bronx, BUT I am still from the Bronx - just saying.

I write all of this just to impact random specs of wisdom (vent) as a result of the heat getting to me. Peace!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cooling Summer Spritz (courtesy article)

I found this great article with a recipe for a cooling spritz that I wanted to share. I love the idea. I haven't tried it yet, but I will (probably make my own variation of the recipe). Enjoy!

DIY: Cooling summer spritz

Chelsa Skees
By Chelsa Skees
Now that the summer temperatures are in full effect, I'm going to share one of my favorite skincare products for thirsty, sun-kissed skin. We all know to wear sunscreen to prevent premature aging and skin cancer, but harsh rays still tend to zap the moisture from our skin. To keep my skin from feeling parched I use a moisturizing face spray.
Face sprays not only keep your skin hydrated but can be used to set makeup after application, give you a healthy glow, and even revitalize your makeup after a long day. Think of your face spray the same as you would a tall glass of water on a hot sunny day refreshing! (Especially if you chill it in the fridge first.)

I recently made my own body scrub using skin-benefiting ingredients such as argan oil and rosehip oil, but after learning about these oils more in depth, I wanted to find a way to better incorporate them into my daily beauty routine. Argan oil is great for moisture and sun-repair, while rosehip oil is highly absorbent and excels at helping repairing scars. I decided to make a homemade version using these oils mixed with orange blossom water, a fragrant natural skin toner. Below is the recipe for my new favorite summer spritz:

  • 1/2 cup orange blossom water 
  • 10 drops argan oil
  • 10 drops rosehip oil

All you'll need is an empty spritz bottle that holds at least 4 oz. of liquid. If needed, you can always adjust the measurements to fit any size bottle.

Combine all the ingredients above and shake well before each use. You'll find the lightly perfumed spray to be incredibly refreshing and moisturizing. Enjoy your beautiful summer glow!

Chelsa Skees is currently working as a freelance fashion stylist and writer. Her favorite color is gray, and she can beat just about anyone in a bubble-blowing contest. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Back to my (workout) grind

I fell off, big time... well, not so bad that I look like a completely different person, but I did put on 5 lbs in the past 2 months because I stopped running, and when I realized that I screamed "hell no" more than several times a day. And then I got  moving again.

One of the frustrating things I've experienced in my life is that it has been very difficult for me to identify that thing that helps me burn off the fat. In high school I was in dance workshop (a group that I had to audition for and got in, even though I had very little dance instruction, thank-you-very-much). Let me tell you about dance workshop. We're talking 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, NOT including the extra time I spent on the weekend fulfilling choreography assignments, as well as just dancing for the hell of it. This is 20 years ago. I never got that six-pack, or the lollipop-head/ anorexic look. And mind you I wasn't eating gallons of junk food (well, except some Pizza Hut on occasion) because I was at a boarding school on scholarship, which means if it wasn't a necessity, I most likely wasn't buying it. And even with all those factors in place, I never lost weight. Even though I still looked slim, but curvy, I accepted the "big-boned" theory and kept it moving. That was over 20 years ago, and even though I am the same weight I was 20 years ago, thangs just ain't the same.

If I don't do what I have to do, things start jiggling (not in that Trina. Beyonce, Magic
City-stripper-on-a-pole-upside-down-way either).  And while I get compliments for still looking pretty slim, or not overweight at the age of 37, I know what jiggle when you don't, and I ain't having it. Especially with all the weights and boxing and aerobics and other exercise equipment that I have had ever since I was living on my own. They gym memberships, the (expensive) personal trainer sessions, the dance classes, the spin classes, etc, etc, etc. What did work, as far as me seeing a significant transformation in my body and weight, was running (something that I used to do when I was 12 - ain't that a bitch. Maybe I should start jumping double dutch again too!).

So when I fell off - it started with "I' just going to take a break this weekend," to "this guy broke my heart and I don't want to get out of the bed," to straight-up "fuck everythang to the 10th power" - I knew that it was possible that I would revert back to the pudgy version of myself from last summer, but I still thought I had a little time before things starting jiggling again. Not so, good people, not so.

And with that, I got my ass back in motion. I used to run on the weekends, and maybe do a little something something before work on some days (we're talking MAYBE a mile). Well, now, I drop my son off at school in the morning, get to the Concourse, and jog the entire 2+ miles all the way home instead of hopping on the bus or train.

My knees hurt though, and so I walked halfway and then got on the bus last Friday.

I also decided to spend the weekend doing more strength exercises since I hate that shit - I'm bored with weights. Boxing I love but I can lose track of time, and being on such a tight schedule during the week, it's just not a good thing (especially considering there are many faces that I imagine on my heavy bags as I pound away. I'm digressing...). Today, I finally incorporated a workout that I got off a's fitness center section because, seriously, who better to model your workout after than the military, and it kicked my ass, literally. And what's funny is after I was done I thought "that wasn't so bad" and when I finally sat down and stopped moving, my ass muscles starting screaming at me.

Here's a quick overview of my workout.

Section 1: Wake up with Crunches
(10 reps each)

Regular crunch
Reverse crunch
Double crunch
Left crunches
Right crunches
Bicycle crunches
Plank pose (30-60 seconds)
Stomach stretch

(this was supposed to occur withing 3-4 minutes... I don't think I did all this in 3-4 minutes!)

Section 2: Jumping Jacks/ Push Ups
Do 10 reps for 5-10 cycles (I did 10 reps, 5 cycles, and I did my push up on my knees!)

Section 3 (I didn't do this. I honestly didn't understand the instructions until reading it just now. Basically it looks like I was to do section 2 again, but replace the pushups with squats. I'll do it next time)

Section 4: Multi-Joint Dumbbell Exercises

I did this with 10 lb weights

Bicep curl, military press, triceps extensions
Squats, bicep curl, military press, triceps extensions
Squat thrust, pushup, stand up, bicep curl, military press, triceps extensions

(It hurt just as much to do it as it does to read it!)

Section 5: Cardio
I ran for about 20 minutes (approx 1.5 miles)

This is why my ass is literally hurting right now. It feels good, but damn!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Get Mad and Even! The perfect workout for the pissed off!

I didn't get mad enough yesterday to go running (and honestly, it's so damn hard to do it when the air is thick with pollen and humidity, so I really have to rethink my workout strategy for the summer), but I did do some prep work.

I pulled my good ole trusty freestanding heavy bag from the corner of the living room.  Look at this baby!
I purchased this piece of gold almost 10 years ago, and even though I downgraded apartment size when I moved into this place last summer, I (almost did, but) couldn't give this baby up.  Back in the day, when I was a gym rat, I had a personal trainer by the name of Antonio. Antonio thought he could scare me when he said that he was going to put me through it, but all that did was egg me on. We did various types of workouts - weights, circuit training, that stupid bike (God love those spin-freaks!), but when he put some boxing gloves on me, it was on!  He thought mentioning (bragging) about his black belt would intimidate me, but I got a weird high off the idea of training with someone as accomplished as him (and I think that solidified in his mind that I was straight up CRAZY).  And after a few rounds of not getting knocked out, and actually surprising my trainer and almost taking out his nuts - just once (I am not going to brag because if he was pissed, I'm sure he would have taken me out, just not as quickly as he could someone else) - I was hooked.  And when I saw that I could actually buy a heavy bag that I didn't have to hang from the ceiling! Ya damn right I went on down to Modell's, plopped my $99 plus tax on the counter, and brought that sucka home in a taxi!

Now, I won't lie and say I box all the time, but it definitely has come in handy, especially during trying times. I'd throw on my boxing gloves (I had to buy kid's gloves because may hands are small, lol!), imagine someone's face, apply all of the training and keep my form and focus, and then punch or kick the crap outta my piece of gold.

I eventually switched from regular boxing gloves to heavy bag gloves, since I had no plans to spar, and really wanted to get the most out of working the bag (aka, I wanted to feel my punches more and the heavy bag gloves are thinner).

There's just something about that 'pop pop pop!' sound that I hear when I throw a jab.  And considering that this is something that I do indoors, and I can control the air in my apartment, this may be my go to workout during the hot and humid months coming up. It can also be my stress reliever (instead of crying or staring into space, I can just hit the bag).  I don't know what the future holds, especially the near future, but I know that the 30 minutes I spent doing different combinations on the bag helped me to feel a hell of a lot better than I have in a while. It's a financial and space investment that I have never regretted.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Uh Oh (Spaghetti-O!)

There's nothing like taking a look in the mirror and really seeing oneself.

I'm not talking about looking into my eyes and seeing into the depths of my soul. I'm talking about seeing myself, literally.

I looked in the mirror today and saw a little jiggle.

Now the good thing is that, unlike last summer, when I totally didn't notice, I didn't see this in, say October, after gaining 15 pounds (actually, it was more like 17).  And luckily, in this case I'm getting flabby from not working out as opposed to eating ice cream everyday. Not that either option is good, but I would think that it'd be better to get back in shape without fighting the ice cream monster. Instead, my monster is the depression monster.

It's like a freaking cockroach, that depression monster. You stomp on it. Think the sucka is dead, and 2 minutes later he's still twitching and before you can run to the run to get a your bigger Easter Sunday show, he done got up and ran off somewhere. And you just know he's going to rear his ugly, twitchy head again, probably when you least expect like, but you don't know when. He's gone, for now, but not for good.

Well, that's what my depression is like - a big, ugly cockroach that won't die. And what happens when I get depressed, I sit down. I don't move.

Now of course, all of the articles and doctors and talking heads say that exercising actually helps your mood in this state, and that is true, but I still have to be motivated to move.

What motivates me to move is getting mad.

When the docs told me last year that I couldn't run because of my asthma, I got mad, and I found a way to get in good enough shape to be able to clock 3 miles per running session in an average of 45 minutes.

When my old neighborhood was clearly becoming more "Boyz in the Hood" than I could have tolerated, and I had to run into the building with my child yelling "don't look back, just keep running!", I got mad, and as soon as we got into our apartment, I started packing. In 2 months I'd found a new apartment and we moved.

So while the past 2 months have been particularly dreary emotionally - to the point where I stopped doing what I loved - which is running - I found myself incredibly sad (I actually described my state of mind as "embarrassingly depressed" to a friend the other day - I just stopped moving. It hurt to move. Especially when you feel like you get hit i the face with a frying pan with every step you take. I was feeling like the T-1000 in Terminator 2, who slowed down with each step after being doused with I think it was nitrogen.

But when I looked in that mirror a few minutes ago I got mad. As in "hell no, I like skinny jeans and not having to walk around holding my gut in all day!"

I can only hope that when I get home later, I'm still mad. Or at least mad enough to run a quarter of a mile (baby steps), because while "mad" has a big mouth and is an attention seeker, "sad" is silent and deadly.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I don't want to 'Think Like a Man!'

I ready Steve Harvey's book some time back, and while I "get" what he's saying, and that he may very well be right about many things, I don't want to think like a man. I want to think like ME, so I have to ask, "Why isn't that good enough?"

Look, I am no closer to figuring out the who's and what's and why's of dating, and I honestly wish I was like Johnny Mnemonic where I could just download information into my head and it is what it is, but like many others, I am a breathing, feeling WOMAN.

While we're all human beings, I'm not naive enough to believe that there aren't differences between the sexes - I'm too old not to accept that truth, however, I also know that after all the trials and tribulations that I've been through in my not-so-short lifetime, that I have earned 'thinking like ME' and not pushing aside my needs and feelings just to make things more comfortable another person who is not willing to be as giving in that department. Why are relationships a game like trying to see who will blink first? Isn't that a waste of time? Time that could be put to better use by living and enjoying together, or even time used to determine whether 'together' is actually not what you want or need?

I don't know everything, but here's what I think:
  • Love, while effortless (the emotion), in practice, can be just as exhausting, if not more so, than those Nalini Method classes I took a couple of weeks ago.
  • There is a fine line between being supportive of someone as they work through their issues, vs. being their emotional punching bag which leads to them driving you crazy (to quote Samantha from Sex and the City,  "I love you, but I love me more"
  • It's hard to give up - at least for me -but everyone has their maximum threshold
  • While I don't know what that "Hey Everybody! We're in love!" feeling is like, I believe in it (I guess it's akin to believing in a higher power)
  • Hibernating from the BS is not as bad as some folks make it out to be.
  • People over 35 years old can act like teenagers
  • You can miss what you never had.
  • Wine really is great
  • A real hug can cure almost anything
  • Look me in the eye and I know... for real... for sure...
  • Avoid looking me in the eye, and we already have a problem
  • You may not die physically from a broken heart, but your spirit can
  • Sometimes everything has to come crashing down in order for something new and better to be built up.
  • I don't know a damn thing.
It's not eloquent, but it's what I was thinking at the moment (actually, for the past few months or so). 
P.S. - I did enjoy the fantasy...ooops, I meant, "movie!"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Blow Out: Redux

Ok, so a couple of weeks I tried to blow out my hair with the little comb attachment, and 5 minutes in my arms got tired so I was gave up.  Well, I tried again, and with a little bit more help.

I'm a reformed product trier (I refuse to label myself a junkie at this point in time as I see that period of time in my life when I was simply searching for the right product for me!).

So, I decided I would invest 6 bucks in some Twisted Sista blow out cream for two reasons. 1-didn't want to mess around with crap in my hair that hadn't been in my hair for years (this has no sulfates or parabens), and 2-It was 6 bucks!

So here's what I did.
I co-washed my hair.  I don't usually co-wash since I like and need shampoo and the natural hair nazi's who disagree can kick rocks, but I don't usually like my hair anywhere near straight for more than an hour, so fi I got that feeling, I wouldn't feel like I wasted my shampoo (and time).

I divided my hair into 4 sections and (gasp), used a wide tooth comb to gently detangle my hair. Luckily detangling has gotten easier over the past few months - I wonder if the additional length I've gained with my hair is the reason - and then I clamped my hair into about 6 sections.

I used a dime size of Twisted Sista on each section of my hair, and with the comb attachment on my ionic hair  dryer, on a warm high air setting, I blew it out.

And the shyt worked, lol!

Pardon the expression, but I have a lotta hair. I understand why my mom threatened to cut if off when I was younger because it was just too much for someone with 5+ other kids to take care of, lol!  Anyway,, here are the results of that blowout (which is now in  ponytail and covered with a satin scarf until I can figure out what the heck to do with it tomorrow!

The reason why I even considered blowing out my hair in the first place is because I realize I need a trim, so I'll be doing that this weekend, but it was interesting to see where I was with the mop up top.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Was in a beauty supply store recently looking for a new deep conditioner (because I was acting cheap and didn't want to spend all the $ on my regular fix, Alter Ego), so I'm trying to have an intelligent conversation with the salesperson, explaining to her that I don't press my hair, and I wear my coily 'do out or up, and her friend jumps into the conversation and chastises me with

"No Mami, that's not good for your hair!"

She even shook her head from side-to-side like I'd stolen pennies out of a wishing well or something.

I paused. Looked her in the eye. Looked at her hair.  Then the salesperson went on to agree with her friend, and explained that she does both their hair... and then I stopped listening.

Why?  Because the salesperson's hair was bleached and looked like straw, and her friend's hair was dry-fried (yes, I just made that term up, I think).

It took everything in me not to bust out laughing, so instead, I smirked (I couldn't help it) and said, "don't worry, I'll find something.  Thanks!" to the salesperson (her friend's interjection wasn't even worthy of a direct response).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

When an Afro enters "Super Afro" phase

So, it's been almost 2 years (in May) since I chopped off most of my hair again, and I went from this:

to THIS!
(and this isn't even blown out fully because my arms got tired)

It's been a journey, but I'm glad to be on track according to my personal goals.  This was the first time in months that I'd blew out my hair with a comb attachment.  I don't do that anymore.  I'm back to my wash and go, moisturize and seal with hair oil, then tension dry method, as outlined below.  And I only do my hair once a week.  Everyday when I get home from work... ponytails (and tucking under the ends).  I'm almost ashamed to admit that this had made me lazy, BUT I love that I can wear my hair the way I like it, the way it is naturally, AND I don't hardly have to do anything during the week?  TOUCHDOWN!

In the meantime, this is my process:


(And I mean that! The process can take hours, but as my hair has grown longer, I find myself either taking some short cuts or just getting through it quicker.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Favorite Products/ Ingredients

I don't know what it is about me, but I suspect my Grandma Ida has a lot to do with my semi-boho, almost granola, kinda-flower-child kind of ways.  Growing up watching her and my mom sew clothes, crochet and knit, cook all kinds of dishes inspired by her homeland of St. Thomas, growing small potted herbs in her small kitchen window (the woman even made her own candy, even though she was diabetic and knew better!) - a lot of that had rubbed onto me.  I remember selling the knitted bags I made when I was in the 6th grade! (Hey, other kids said they liked me bag and wanted one, so you know I wasn't doing all that work for free!).  I say all of this to express how doing things with my own hands, or dealing with products that aren't so manufactured, always appealed to me throughout my entire life (it's only recently that it's become some sort of "movement" where words like "organic" and "natural" are thrown around like the latest coolest ebonically inspired word, when many folks have been doing things like they did in the "olden days" way before things became popular.  With that I just wanted to share some of my favorite products and ingredients that I incorporate into my life for various health, beauty and fitness reasons.

1. Shea butter (click for benefits of shea butter)

I love this stuff!  I've used it for my skin and hair!  For my skin, being someone who has struggled with acne and dark spots for over 20 years, shea butter has always provided me with the kind of moisture that no other product can.  For my hair, shea butter has been a main staple, in the summer and winter.  In the beginning, I would just use shea butter alone (even when I'd had a perm), but over the years I have experimented by adding natural oils, and have not been disappointed yet.

2. Aloe (click for benefits of Aloe)
This plant was always a mainstay in my Grandma or Mom's home growing up.  When I was younger I thought it was just for burns, but as I've gotten older, I have found that it is great for internal health (I've only had the flavored aloe juices - I just can't drink plain aloe yet, I can't, lol!), but also for the hair as well.  I discovered this when I started using Kinky Curly's Knot Today.  I occasionally incorporate Aloe into my regimen, but not always as I find it best - for me - to use when I need "special treatments."

3. Tea Tree Oil (benefits of tea tree oil)

What a great find for me. With all the skin irritation that I have, and continue to experience with my skin, tea tree oil saved my butt many times.  And with my son dealing with eczema, tea tree oil is definitely a must for our medicine cabinet.

I sure didn't know a quarter of the benefits of honey!  I have not begun to explore the benefits to skin in any homemade products yet, but I include this ingredient in my pre-shampoo mixture.

5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (benefits of EVOO)

If I was forced to only use 3 of the items on my favorites list, extra virgin olive oil was definitely be on that list.  As a matter of fact, it would be in the top 2.  What an incredible ingredient.  For food. Skin. Hair. Everythang!  I use it in my pre-shampoo treatment. I used it in my hair oil recipe. I use it for skin ailments. I use it in my food.  This ingredient is an example of how great and versatile natural products are.

I just discovered this little gem last year.  In the past, I'd tried the whole mashing up an avocado and putting it in my hair, and all I felt I got, was avocado in my hair - avocado bits that were hard to get out.  But ever since incorporating the oil in my hair oil recipe (this, when my hair was super dry and I was at my wit's end), I'd never felt my hair be so soft, and that softness last for so long.

Another great ingredient that I use in various ways.  For the hair, it is a part of my pre-shampoo method, removing all residue from the previous week so that the products that I use to wash and condition can do their jobs as efficiently as possible.  For skin, I use it for acne in particular on my shoulders and back, my son uses it for eczema outbreaks, another person I know uses it for melasma, and the list goes on.

8. Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie (a vlogger's review of the product)

I never really likes the idea of using gel on my hair all the time, in order to set my curls and keep my hair looking moist, so when I hit up a Shea Moisture store in one of those holiday outdoor fairs, I thought maybe this would be it.  And I was wrong - at first.  But then I tweaked my moisture and sealing routine (thanks to Nikisha on Urban Bush Babes), and it was like I discovered gold in a jar!  Not since my son was 1 (he's 11 now) have I been able to let my hair do what it does and I love it, and a lot of that has to do with Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, seriously! It's such a great finisher to an involved, but important regimen.  And unlike the opinions and experiences of others, this products actually brings out my curls better than any gel ever has.

9. Castor Oil (click for benefits of castor oil)

Another one of the best ingredients/ products I use. This is the final touch in my hair regimen, and once again, thanks the Nikisha on Urban Bush Babes, I learned that I was using the product in the wrong part of my process, but once I got it right, I experience soft, bouncy, moisturized and manageable hair for an entire week.  I am now learning and experimenting with recipes for skin ailments.

10. Bentonite Clay

I've been using clay masks for years, but using the Aztec Secret Healing Clay showed me what all clays should be. I mean, I felt my face pulsing! And as I began to add essential oils to my clay mixtures, I found it even more beneficial.  Last year, I started using the clay in my pre-shampoo routine - mixing in apple cider vinegar, honey and extra virgin olive oil, and it helped clarify my hair sooooooo much, that the shampoo and conditioning products I used afterwards, worked even better.