Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1 Year and Counting!

Hooray! I made it to my one year lock anniversary. And it has been a beautiful, simple journey. Typically, my life is full of anxiety and indecision, regret, fear and fretting. But this decision to lock my hair has been completely different. Now, I won't lie. There have been a few times where I thought, "Do men still find me attractive with the locks?" "Does the guy I am currently dating want to touch my hair?" "Do my co-workers and bosses think that my hair is appropriate?" But overall, I am pleased with my hair. There isn't a lot of fretting that I do about it. And that is nice. Really nice.

Today on facebook, a male friend posted the question, "do women recognize the negative impact our hair has on men?" I didn't respond because I didn't understand the question. He had recently watched the Chris Rock movie, "Good Hair" and had concluded from the film and his friends that men in general are often frustrated with women because of our obsessiveness with hair. I can see his point. I mean, we sistahs can be pretty single minded when it comes to our hair. I have a male friend who I would work out with when I lived in Texas and he would always say to me, you aren't like other sistahs, they won't work out when they get their hair done. Of course, I have done that before, but I am at a point in my life where I recognize that there are more important things in life that a fly hair style.

During this one year journey, I have realized that we women put much more emphasis on our hair and our outer appearance than any man. I think men may be drawn to flawless hair, makeup, nails, and a slammin body, but I think they love an open heart, a voice that speaks life, hands that share and arms that comfort. Locks, fros, relaxers, weaves, MAC, MUFE, Nars, Iman, nails, tips, brazilians: could never stand up to those things. So, I am thankful for that lesson. Now, I still want to be physically attractive, I just want to be equally attractive in other ways, the ways that matter most. So in 2011, I desire to be what I want in a partner, I want to ensure that my heart is open, that I communicate with love, I want to be honest and true, faithful and kind. And I pray that as I continue to develop those traits that the love I desire will be expressed fully and completely which will in turn enhance my physical beauty.

Mother/Father God, thank you for the gift of life, beauty, intelligence and love. Thank you for a new year to express your glory through my life. I affirm that 2011 brings greater love, deeper connection and clearer intentions to my life and to the lives of those I love. Thank you Mother/Father God, And so it is.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

9 months and counting

Hello Everyone!
So much has changed since my last post and I am still locked and loving it. : ) I stated in the beginning that this blog was a venue for me to document my passage to purpose and that the natural hair journey was a simple place for me to start. Simple yet Powerful. I am enjoying the locked journey. I see so much beauty in my hair, as it is. Natural, unrefined, pure...in a sense. And yet, my passage to purpose continues to unfold and to advance my life.

A few months ago, I found a small gathering of people in my equally small hometown, that studied "A Course In Miracles". God always presents us with our needs. While I was content with my station in life, I knew I had so much more to do. I am of the school of thought that we all make agreements with God and I know, I am no where near completing my agreements. So Mother/Father God sent me a friendly reminder with this group. Studying with "Unity of Claxton" really changed my life. The fellowship focused only on understanding the Course and living a life that reflected an honest understanding of the teachings of the Course. Hence the start of an integral part of my passage to purpose: the refinement of my spiritual life. I have always considered myself a spiritual outlier. Traditional religion never fit me. Metaphysics just makes sense to me. It makes me a better person and it compels me to live harmoniously with all.

In the short time that I fellowshiped with Unity of Claxton, I developed a healthier outlook on life, enhanced my relationships with family, friends, and co-workers and I even secured a new job in a city that I have longed to live in for years! I now have a greater understanding of the importance of consistency in your spiritual practice and the power that is unleashed when you "seek the kingdom of God" first.

No camera yet, so my pictoral documentation of the hair is delayed. Just know, I am planted squarely on my journey and I am at peace with the process.

Mother/Father God, Thank you for covering all my mistakes with forgiveness and grace. I am filled with gratitude for the way in which your love surrounds, enfolds and blankets me. Thank you for allowing people in my life that gently nudge me towards my highest and greatest good. And I ask that you use me to help others live a life that is pleasing in your sight. Thank you God, And So It Is.

Friday, May 14, 2010

4 months and counting

Wow, I publish my blog and then I abandon it. Really, my camera died and I had no way to document the visual changes in my hair for month 3. If you know me, then you know I can be tight with my money, so I haven't purchased a new camera. Hopefully, I will pick one up before the end of the summer so that I can continue to document my hair journey. Honestly, I have been amazed at my ability to stay true to my locked journey. My hair is frizzy and free and I am perfectly ok with that. Actually, I think it's beautiful.

For me, this passage to purpose inspires a deep inner exploration of my personal beauty. Personal beauty and maturity; these concepts were previously riddled with confusion for me. I would interact with people and they would define me as attractive and mature (mature as in professional, articulate, etc). Unfortunately, my internal belief system was nothing of the sort. I felt and sometimes continue to feel, below average, hohum, dull and childish. I can't give all the credit to my locks but I can definitely say that my internal beliefs are shifting. I think it's the patience required to grow locks and that patience is reflected and mimicked (is that a word? lol) in other aspects of my life. For instance, I have developed greater patience with my emotions, my career and my financial situation. I also believe the locked journey inspires increased gentleness. I am more gentle with myself; spiritually, physically and emotionally. I am also beginning to recognize my true image and that is a beautiful thing. Overall, I am so grateful for my life, my rites of passages--the good and the bad, and I am grateful for my new locks. I've said it before and I will repeat myself here, I believe my hair was made to be locked. It's so easy and natural and perfect for me.

Tomorrow, I will have my monthly hair styling with Gloria. And I am looking forward to seeing the changes in my hair and my attitude. Stay tuned.

Mother/Father God, Thank you for this passage to purpose. I appreciate the love, patience and mercy you bestow on me. I ask that the light you shed on my life is not in vain and I hope to be a light to others. Thanks God, And so it is.

Friday, March 12, 2010

P2P Entry three: One month and counting

February 13, 2010
I had my first retwist on Feb. 6. I washed my locs for the first time on that same day. I was very concerned about the washing process. I watched so many you tube videos hoping to find one that provided some real guidance on washing baby locs. I have to give shout outs to KoKoFemme and Nikkimo75 for their videos. Both gave me some guidance on how to proceed. I also re-read the Nice Dreads book for guidance. The book encouraged washing the scalp for whenever it feels necessary. For me, that would be every three days. I think I would never have locs if I did that. However, I have seen you tube videos with people that washed their newly locked hair everyday. I can’t get with that. I didn’t wash my hair for 4 weeks. I used sea breeze to clean my scalp once a week. For my first wash, I followed Nikkimo75’s video. It worked out just fine. I have pictures to show the results.
My first retwist only took 3 hours. I was surprised at the little buds, or at least I think I have buds. My locs are really frizzy and swollen. I can’t believe the process is going so fast. Some people wait for this stage for months. J I am actually enjoying this journey. It is as if my hair has been patiently waiting on me to get my act together. LOL If I am concerned with anything, it’s my itchy flaky scalp. I have always had a dry, itchy, flaky scalp. But I would just wash more often. During my first stint with natural hair, I would wash my hair everyday and I never had a problem with my scalp. But that just doesn’t seem to be the right thing to do. I imagine I could do that now, but that means I would need to learn how to twist my hair myself. Here’s my dilemma, I don’t believe I will do a good job. Insecurity central. My plan is to continue with the sea breeze this month, and following my second retwist, I will begin to wash my hair twice a month. That’s pretty typically for me. I anticipate that by the 5 month mark, I should feel comfortable washing my hair on a weekly basis. I might try KokoFemme’s stocking cap wash technique for in-between washing, but I am not convinced it will help my scalp. It’s worth a try.
I feel that I am being more patient than I ever expected. I am a little concerned about the thickness of my locs, but overall, I feel that my hair is beautiful just as it is. Sometimes the locs stick up and look a little wild, but overall, they are very subdued. J My locs are revealing a maturity, wisdom, and muted personality, that I don’t think I possess. But maybe my locs are behaving just like me. I know I can be quiet and reserved at times, and I would say that is an accurate description of my locs at this point. Maybe they are just tamed. I mean, I do wrap them up for about 10 hours a night. Maybe I am tamed; controlled so long by the strict expectations of my mother. Maybe I have lost my fierceness and so my hair follows suit. I don’t know, sometimes I feel oppressed by a belief that I am not equipped to be powerful. That it is not for me to lead, to speak out to stand out and stand firm. Sometimes I see this as diginity and grace other times I see it as cowardice. Sometimes as fear. Hmm, in my hair, I mainly see it as silent strength, solidity. But after considering how this relates to how I show up in the world, I wonder. Do I ever just let myself be? I am creating a safe boundary for my hair by wrapping it up at night, but other than that, I just let it be. But when it comes to my presence in the world, perhaps I am caging myself into traps that limit and confine my potential. Maybe I never give myself permission to just be. L That thought just frightens me, because sometimes, I know I can just be blunt, fiery and expansive. I can be a force to be reckoned with. In graduate school, at Georgia, Dr. Phelps, one of my favorite professors, saw this as rigidity. I received her reflection as a negative because for me this aspect of my personality was central. I can be flexible to a point, but there is a point. Don’t cross it or I will fiercely defend my territory, be that an idea, a value, or a rule. But going through the doctoral process, I learned that every rule, idea or value can be stretched. That if you want something enough, you can get around every boundary. That ish enraged me. Because, what about the poor, disadvantaged and working class of America. They live in die by those rules, giving their blood, sweat, tears and lives hoping that if they follow the established structure, they will be rewarded. I learned in a four year period, that life does not operate the way I was taught at home. I learned that I had been caged and to this day, I wonder if I will ever leave that cage. I understand that the door to my cage is open, all I have to do is fly out of it and soar, but my questions are; do I remember how to fly and did I ever even learn how to fly?
Wow, don’t know if that was even related to my hair, but it was inspired by my hair.
Mother/Father God, thank you for this rite of passage. I am honored to be on this journey. I pray that I continue to develop into the woman you anticipated when you created me. I pray to commune with you more and to continue on this path created for me. May I honor your presence in my life choices and may I do your will as I interact with others. Fill my spirit with your goodness, power and love so that I may live this life with abundance, grace, beauty, love and joy. Thank you for your faith in me as I continue through this passage. Thanks God, Thanks God, Thanks God.
And so it is.

P2P Entry two: No turning back

January 10, 2010
One day into phase two of my hair journey and I feel good. It took Gloria 7 hours to comb twist my coils. She is an amazing sista still fascinated by natural hair. The time she spend ensuring that my grid was flawless is commendable. I was so nervous about what I would look like when she was done. And in this nervousness, God reveals that this transformation is about so much more than a hair style. God is urging me to “TRUST”. Allow me to explain: I was afraid that my locs would be so short that I would look, what…. dreadful. There’s that word again, I told you I had my own inner dread demons to slay. And I was afraid that people would look at me and think, WTH??? Eventhough, I had a plan. Hey, I waited 12 months before locking to ensure that I had l plenty of kinks and coils to transform, but I didn’t truly trust my decision making process.
Trust is a key part of my struggle to stay on the passage to purpose. Most of my life, I have been distrustful of God’s willingness to love and support me. My distrust shows up in weird areas of my life, not school, but issues surrounding my appearance, my lovability, my confidence, my interpersonal relationships. So, for me it was quite understandable that this issue of trust would show up with the locking process. I estimated that my locs would be anywhere from ½ inch to 1 inch long when Gloria completed the transformation. Sometimes, I can be so foolish. My locks are between 3 and 4 inches long. LOL. My mom and nephew insisted before I locked my hair that I had a lot of hair on my head. They saw in me, something that I could not. I love them, but I couldn’t trust them. Therein lies a core issue for me, my fierce inability to see the truth about myself. My inability to see an accurate representation of myself, is the crux of my life’s dilemma. It keeps me from embracing the goodness life has to offer, it sabotages my opportunities to flourish and confines me to spaces that do not accommodate my potential. And it makes me very sad. I can see the goodness and beauty in so many other people, and when I look at myself, I just see a compilation of mistakes or areas for improvement. Occasionally, I will see something of value, but mostly things that need work. Perhaps, the locking process will allow me to develop the ability to see the truth about me! A simple and powerful avenue for exposing the goodness I often miss.
After Gloria completed my locs, I felt James Brown GOOD. My baby locs were cascading down my crown with sheen and spring. I felt good that I followed through on my goal. I reflected on 2009, the relaxer free year. And I wondered where 2010 would take me and my hair. I have to admit, I was off to a good start and I had the support of some wonderful women. My best friend is locked and a good friend from college is also locked. They are my locked rocks. And they were the first to see pictures since they live 3 and 4 hours from me. They both agree that my locs will be beautiful. (Again, my need for other’s approval showing up.) I guess that approval is something I will always seek.
God, I pray that your will be done as I commit to this passage to purpose. I pray that this passage gives me the ability to see myself the way you see me and that I am able to embrace and express myself without fear or defensiveness.
And so it is.

P2P Entry one: Start a Loc

Today is January 3, 2010. I have decided to write about my passage to purpose. I am sure you are wondering what in the world I mean by “passage to purpose”. Well, allow me to explain. For me the passage to purpose is primarily a journey to reclaiming my life’s purpose. I am the type of individual that will start a million things and fumble my way through life. God has blessed me with idea after idea of how my life “should” be lived. And yet again, I find myself fumbling through life. If you don’t know me, I just completed a doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology. I am 34 years old, I have 3 degrees and a whopper of debt to show for it. I have been blessed with a career, a talent for professional communication, natural beauty (it took me 34 years to realize that I am attractive, so I say this with confidence not arrogance) and loads of friends, yet I find myself completely off focus. So what’s up??
This year, I want to chronicle my passage to purpose. It’s about returning to those goals I set many years ago that have somehow forgotten, abandoned or just plain given up on. I believe that many of these goals were valuable and will be instrumental in the pursuit of my life’s desires. Finally, at age 34, I’ve realized that I must live my life on purpose and that will require me to return to those goals, hopes and dreams I mentioned, treasure mapped, shared with friends and work to complete those goals.
I think I am starting with a simple one, but it might just whip my butt. I am starting with a goal I first vocalized in 2000. In 2000, I decided I wanted to wear my natural hair. Promptly, I cut off my relaxed hair and donned an afro. I did so for 4 years. I enjoyed the freedom of chemical free hair, embraced the appearance on my kinks, learned to maintain and style my fro. Unfortunately, I didn’t let go of my need for approval. I left my very accepting career at UWG for a promotion and new career at Georgia Southern. The disapproval and unnerving looks fed my insecurity and low self-esteem. I RAN to the hair salon and found solace in the chemical relaxer. For the next 5 years, I enjoyed my relaxer. God blessed me with good hair, with or without chemicals so, I rocked all kind of styles, bobs, layered looks, you name it, I tried it. But, I was off purpose. My purpose; my hair purpose, set forth in 2000 was to embrace the natural beauty of my hair, and my overall natural beauty; to free myself from the European standard of beauty and to stand as an example of a woman who accepts her African heritage with dignity, integrity and grace. In those 5 years, while I was completely off purpose, I did work to influence over 100 high school students to graduate and enroll in college, complete a doctoral degree and provide guidance and counseling to hundreds of adults and college students. So, it wasn’t a total waste.
But what about my self-confidence and conquering my insecurities; I had abandoned my personal goal of embracing my natural beauty. During the final year of my doctoral program, I worked at a university in Texas and I was mentored by a myriad of successful psychologists. One in particular was influential in reminding me of my abandoned hair journey. Dr. Esther Wright-Wilson, a sista psychologist with a natural hair style, invited me to an event on the campus of a HBCU near our institution. Mr. Dick Greggory was the speaker. During his humorous act, he discussed the Black woman’s use of relaxers and his general dislike of the chemical transformation of our hair. This reminded me of my goal, my purpose. It also spoke volumes to me that an elderly, Black man would prefer for me not to ruin my hair by processing it to death. At that moment, I decided I needed to get back on purpose. It is important to remember that this is the year that Barack Obama ran for President and WON. So, there was an energy around the power and goodness of the African-American that was new and highly intoxicating. I am positive that this energy helped fuel my desire to realign with my purpose. So on January 7, 2009, I received my last relaxer. Right before, I left Texas to attend the inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States of America. That trip requires a completely different blog.
Once I returned to Texas, I decided no more; I would no longer be a slave to the chemical. I recommitted to my purpose and vocalized the deeper aspect of my goal, which was to lock my hair. Now, only a sista truly confident in her beauty, her intellect, her worth and value can lock her hair. Because, while there is evidence that our society accepts locks, afros and other natural hair styles, there are many people within our society that still consider chemically free African hair as the symbol of ignorance and incivility. And believe me, these aren’t just people outside our community; there are plenty of brothas and sistas out there that believe locks are “dreadful”. And I would be confronted with them. I would also be confronted with my own inner “dread demons.”
The months went by quickly, I held on to my relaxed hair for 8 months. During those months, I rocked strawsets, twists, braids, and embraced the straightening comb. But in August, my birth month and the month I received my doctorate, I decided to release the relaxed hair. Just like a split mind cannot prosper, neither can “split hair”. It was time to fully commit to my hair journey and rock the fro again. And even at 33, I was still afraid of what people would think of my hair. I would say to myself: “I can’t go on job interviews with a fro.” or “Let me keep this hair until after my graduation because my mom and sisters won’t like the afro.” But was it that I was afraid of others or was I afraid of what I thought of myself; my inner “dread demons” were rearing their ugly heads.
Exactly 8 months after my last relaxer, I did the big chop! And began to be become acquainted with MY Hair. God did an amazing job when creating kinky coily hair. It has spunk and personality. If kinky coily hair represented an emotion it would be something in between exuberant, joyfulness and sensitivity. My kinky coily hair is a perfect representation of me; a deep sense of exuberance, sunshine, joy and love covered by such sensitivity that if not treated with sincere gentleness, damage is certain. I became obessesed with natural hair, hair care, locks and anything associated with locks. I watched you tube videos, stared at brothas and sistas with locks and fros and bought books about the locked lifestyle. I questioned my natural friends and I visited websites that were devoted to natural hair, like; honey fig, treasured locs, inspiredlocs, Motown girl, afro kinks, etc.
I encouraged one of my girlfriends to join me on my passage to purpose. My friend and sorority sister, Kristie Todd Boyd, agreed to start the journey with me in August. Her husband, Eric, a locked brotha, was ecstatic as he had been encouraging Kristie to join him on his locked journey. Kristie is bold and fearless. After 3 months, she BC’ed and locked. Now she is showing me the way!
Now, I am nearing a year since my last relaxer. January 7, 2010 is quickly approaching and my natural hair is flourishing. Now it is time for the next step in my passage. It is time to start the locks! I have decided to begin the locking process on January 9, 2010. I searched over and over for the right locitician to begin my locks. But, I live in a remote area of Georgia. I searched and searched and finally decided that a fellow locked sista in the town where I worked would be a suitable candidate to lock my hair. Her name is Gloria Morgan Goosby. She has donned a natural look for more than 5 years and she started her own locks. She is young, intelligent, spiritual and wise about the locking process. So, here I am 6 days prior to locking my hair. Most days I am obsessed, some days I am frightened and overall, I am realizing that I am making a deeper commitment to myself and honoring my word, my beliefs and the purpose I expressed nearly 10 years ago.
God, I pray that you continue to bless me on this journey and help me in this aspect of my passage to purpose.
And so it is.