Friday, April 11, 2008

The Charming 3's

Freshly Colored and Retightened

Hair tied up in Ponytail

"Bedtime Barbie" No time for Glamour

Taken Before Color & Retightening

"Happy Sisterlocks Anniversary/Birthday!"

3 Charming Years

Where has the time gone? The road less travelled is still leading me towards a glorious path of never ending discoveries about my strengths, challenges, and much education needed within our very own community. As an Academic Advisor at a local university that sits in the heart of a military community, I have been blessed with the opportunity of meeting various types of people with varying degrees of higher education. I'm talking about men/women who've served in war, acquired master's and doctoral degrees; acquired prestigious jobs, survived abusive relationships, or are faced with single parenthood; yet it astounds me how uneducated people are about themselves.

I've had many encounters this month already with many people wanting to know all about Sisterlocks. I must have given Elaine's phone number out to four people in one week! I don't know about any of my fellow SL family members, but I've noticed that I get the most compliments precisely at the time when I am due for a retightening! One gentleman asked, "how long does it take to put your holding gels and creams in your hair?" My reply, "huh?" He repeated himself and added, "It takes me 45 mintues to put my gels and creams in"! Shaking my head, I stopped him before he could painstakingly agonize me further...I briefly interrupted by educating him on Sisterlocks/Brotherlocks. The conversation ended with me giving him Elaine's phone number. Another encounter went as follows: "Girl, I am really really thinking about getting SL's, but I just don't's just soooooo permanent and I like changing my hair too much!" I looked at this beautiful and misinformed queen and replied with, "Well sweetie, why didn't you hesitate when you 'permanently' relaxed your hair?" "Isn't that also sooooooo permanent?" Seeing the light bulb come on and clearly out of excuses, this beautiful queen stated, "Yeah, I guess your right....I don't know what it is that I'm so afraid of!" It was as if she wanted me to do something I absolutely refuse to do, "Convince her to get Sisterlocks"! I assured her that the unsettling feeling she's been wrestling with was okay and that it's part of her growth processes. The encounter ended with me leaving her with some food for thought. I asked her to think about whether her concerns, or levels of uncomfortness was due to the inability to "change her hair texture" once locked or "change her hair style"? As many SL family members will tell you; style versatility is unlimited! As wrinkles of wisdom decorated her forehead, I handed her the Sisterlocks web address and Elaine's phone number (for at least the 5th time) before she departed my office. Both encounters took place at my office, and both initially came into my office with their academic concerns (or so they said). These two students reminded me of some of the reasons why I have distinguished myself as an Academic Counselor, and not an Advisor. There is a major difference between the two. Advisors tell people what to do, while counselors empower people by giving them adequate information, and or, resources to make their own informed choices. Anyone in the field of social services will tell you that the "presenting problem" is rarely an isolated event. Meaning, there are many other areas that are interrelated and can affect both your professional and personal life. A student may come into my office on the premises of finding out how many classes they need to complete their degree, or are having conflict with one of their instructors. When truthfully, the source of their problem may stem from them struggling with their identity, personality conflicts, or lack of support at home. There are a number of reasons why someone may end up in my office, especially when their visits are frequent and are not required. I suppose my mother gave me the perfect name: Monica, Latin for advisor/counselor-go figure!

However, because I started this blog on the premises of helping me through the struggles, frustrations and triumphs throughout my hair journey, I'll try to focus on topical conversations and thoughts related to hair. The key word being "try" (smile). Many of us know that we do not live in a vacuum, and thus, although I'd love nothing more than to just talk about hair; there are many interrelating factors that could affect thoughts and feelings about hair.

April 14, 2008 is my third year anniversary/birthday, and thus, I will discuss interesting three's. Let's have some fun:

3 Things About Me You Probably Never Knew:

  1. I used to weigh over 200 lbs (before kids), and shamefully, I must admit that I don't exercise and I have a poor diet...but will start on Monday (smile)!

  2. I always wanted to be a singer or model when I was a child (who hasn't, right?)

  3. My eyebrows have almost completely thinned out...I have permanent make-up (eye-liner and eyebrows)...and thank God for Mary Kay Cosmetics to conceal signs of aging (smile)!

3 Things About My Hair You Probably Never Knew:

  1. I have no gray hair (yet)

  2. Even after 3 years, some of my hair is not locked yet

  3. I will probably never take the retightening class because I have Carpal Tunnel, which may prevent me from completing my entire head

3 Pet Peeves:

  1. Crowded places

  2. Disorganization

  3. When people dissect me and presume that I am mixed with another race. For example, I often hear..."anyone can tell you're mixed with something because of your's not a typical black nose" or "your hair isn't nappy like ours" or "you look white; look at your skin complexion" or "you can't be all black because black people can't grow long hair"! It drives me insane!

While it's true that I am technically 25% white (grandfather was white), in my opinion, I am mixed like most other African Americans in this country! I was raised in the African American culture, and therefore, that is the race I identify with.

Before closing I'll offer my words of wisdom for those people still contemplating on whether or not to lock their hair.....The answer you're seeking can only come from "you"! Whether you decide to go natural, get Sisterlocks or Traditional Locks, it's clearly a personal choice. You have to embrace and accept yourself for who you, not who you used to be or who you're going to be! Hair does not "make" you, "you" make hair! It is not about hair my lovlies, it has always been about attitude and belief in yourself. Guess what? Having long or straight hair will not guarantee you a job, or the ability to keep a man. A man will leave you and your long/straight hair for a bald-headed woman who knows herself and is comfortable with herself! Deciding to change (be it your hair or bad habits) is an internal process that is reflected externally. Start with loving and sharing the uniqueness you possess! How selfish of us not to share the knowledge we acquire or our special god-given gifts. A good friend of mine was reminded of this one day while visiting a cemetary. As she carefully walked the graveyard and viewed the various headstones, an angel spoke to her and said, "My child do you see all of the people that rest here?" "Think of all of the words not spoken and never to be heard; think of all the knowledge acquired and never to be shared!" The angel begged her not to follow suit, and be the voice of knowledge. She was so inspired by that experience that she is currently writing a book to help empower women! My point is, when you do not share "you and your experiences" however minuscule they may seem; you have misunderstood your purpose here on earth! We are all interrelated and interconnected, and purposely so!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

First Locked-Give Me My Free Repost!!

Single Strand Twists

Day After SLs 14 April 2005
I was rummaging through my old cyber-attic and came across these old pics and decided to repost them and this blog entry for several upcoming 3rd year SL birthday is near, and I wanted to once again, visually step back and see my progress...stay posted, I'm due for a retightening and color this weekend and I will post my 3rd birthday pics as soon as possible.

8 Months (Natural)


I know it's been a while, but now that Christmas holidays have passed, things are settling back into "norm". I can't post any pics because my digital camera is broken. Currently, I am wearing micro braids that were put in around mid-December. When I measured my hair last month, it measured around 3-3.5 inches in the back. I'm sure it's a little longer at the crown. My edges are still very fine and easy to break, so my stylist is being extra careful not to braid too tight. She's awesome! I've been trying to convince her to take the Sisterlock's training course, but I don't think she's interested, as she is wearing traditional locks.

I have some great news; I made my initial consultation appointment for my SL's on March 12th with a consultant named Elaine Hill in Dallas. I plan on starting the journey in April. I was going to go with a guy named Greg Day but I've been getting the feeling that he really doesn't want to do it. I contacted him earlier this week to try to set up my consultation appointment; in addition, I informed him that I was wearing micros. He immediately told me to take the micro braids out because they damage the hair shaft; and thus, make for weaker SL's! Needless to say I was shocked. You would think that daily stress and manipulation would be more damaging than micro braids. I could see if I used synthetic hair, which contains fibers that cut/damage human hair, but everyone knows with micros, human hair is used! In search for some guidance, I went to my online SL group to see if anyone else knew about this so-called damage to the hair shaft. Two people responded. One female also said she was sporting micro braids until she grew out adequate length and the other was a male who pretty much said that it sounded like the consultant didn't know much about natural hair! He also suggested I search for other consultants. This is how I ended up making the appointment with Elaine.

The consultation fee is $25.00. It should take me about 2-3 hours to get to her shop. The way I see it, it'll be like taking a mini-vacation. By the time I lock, my hair should be around 4-5 inches. I'll probably go through one more set of micros before taking them out.I mentioned to my spouse about getting SL's, and of course, he translated it to "dredlocks". I tried my best to explain the difference to him, and his response was, "I don't think you want to do that!" When I told him it was a way to wear my hair chemical-free and still be able to take advantage of different hairstyles he responded, "Your hair ain't that bad, you don't need to put in chemicals anyway!" Nothing burns me more than to hear people refer to hair as "good" or "bad", as if it is alive and has behavior issues! People, my beautiful black people, news flash "HAIR IS DEAD"! Of course, that's with the exception of the root. Sensing I was defeated, I ended the conversation with, "I'll tell you more about it when you come back from Iraq!"

14 April 2005-Give Me My Free!!

Well, I finally did it. It took 11.5 hours to lock my 4.5 inches of hair. I'm still floating on cloud nine. I couldn't believe how thick my hair was and how little scalp actually shows through! Most people hardly notice it, and I would imagine that's because of the short length—give me a couple of years and they'll be all over me. My husband and children love it, and so do my co-workers. My consultant told me to do absolutely nothing to do for the next few weeks, no oils, no washing—nothing! If it begins to itch, she told me to spray it with distilled water; add Sea Breeze if it gets out of control (itching). I have to go back in two weeks so she can show me how to carefully wash it to avoid slippage. After that, I only have to go back every 4-6 weeks for retightenings. I'll definitely keep you posted on my progress.