Category Archives: hair

Odds and Ends

June 18, 2015

Thursday already! Time is alternately zipping by and dragging along.  It zips by when I’ve got ten things to take care of and about 10 minutes in which to take of them. It drags when I unstrap my boot for the first, third, and fifth set of deep knees bends I’ve got to do every day for twenty minutes at a clip. Without fail, every time I sneak a peek at the timer, I’ve got seven minutes still to go.  You can find a lot of fun things on the web in 20 minutes, five times a day, though.  Here are the odds and ends that piqued my interest.

1.  This necklace.

I have had SUCH terrible customer service experiences every time I go into the Anthropologie at Stony Point that I just avoid it.  I was, however, out of town and decided to check out the Anthropologie at the mall close to where I was staying.  I saw that sweet dress on a mannequin and decided to try it on.  Have you ever had a shopping experience where you just get totally giddy and giggly because something fits, looks cute on you and the price is right? Me, in this dress, hit all the marks.  Too bad the salesperson couldn’t be bothered to do her job when I asked for an alternate size. Her eye roll was so epic, another clerk had to hit on the back to get her eyes back where they belonged.  In any event, I got the dress, but didn’t notice the necklace until I was checking out the website later on.  Definitely going back for that — with my expectations for decent customer service down around my ankles.

2. You know who does have great customer service? Nordstrom.  The Hubs and I had a black tie affair this past week-end that left me scrambling for an appropriate dress to not only make me look glam-tastic, but cover up the boot. Nordstrom delivered and they hooked me up with a rush job on the tailoring.  When I brought the dress in, I made sure I had my shoe (really, just one) and whatever foundation garments I was going to wear.  Yes, that means Spanx.  I’m pretty sure I’ve blown out the pair of Power Panties that I scooped up from the hosiery department, so I went up to the lingerie department and put myself at the mercy of the clerk.  I told her what I needed: maximum streamlining, no VPL, lift the can and flatten the tummy.  She handed me these:

Cue the hallelujah chorus.  These things are AMAZING!  And I totally get why there is a difference between location and price point.  Not all Spanx are created equal. If you want that maximum sucking in effect, you’re gonna pay for it.  I totally get that now. Oh, and evidently this pair has razor cut legs (as opposed to non-razor cut legs on the others?) officially making me a total bad-ass.

3. While things were firing on all cylinders as far as my shapewear and dress were concerned, there was a bit of tense moment when it came to make-up application.  I’m usually good with mascara, concealer and a little pop of lippie.  For special occasions, like the one we had, I have to dip into my bag of tricks and pull out my eyeliner and a steady hand.  I’m eyeliner application deficient. I was absent the day that lesson was shared.  But, like a good proper prior planner that I am, I had a heart to heart with Pinterest and tried to figure out some goof-proof applications.

So, about this. . . not so much. I ended up free-handing it with moderate success.  I did learn that you should do your non-dominant side first so that you can match the dominant side with more precision!  The more you know!

4. This whole Rachel Dolezal thing makes my hair hurt. I’m happy to discuss (face to face) why I think her actions are completely and thoroughly unacceptable. What I won’t do, however, is tolerate rude, close-minded comments that call into question my ethnic background.  Don’t ask me for my receipt or cock your head at me as if doing so will spell out who sits on the branches of my family tree.

5. And in other news, this happened.

 

Odds and Ends

June 10, 2015

It’s Wednesday! Of course, this being summer vacation, that really doesn’t mean anything.  Each day is like the one before it and will probably be like the one after it.  Only difference is this day starts with a W and ends with a glass of wine.

Odds and Ends this week are a handful of things that have caught my eye while I’ve been flipping through the Internet under the pretense of doing work.  Some work has been done, truly.  I’ve been putting some things together to give my website a little face-lift.   I’m working kicking up more content.  And, finding gems like ones below is work. . .the more I tell myself that, the truer it is, right? Here’s what has me looking like a heart-eyed emoji:

1. I stumbled across this company while scrolling through Instagram.  This mug needs to come to my house because truer words were never spoken.

2. Speaking of things I saw on Instagram that I have now deemed necessary to make my life complete, this shirt for the win.  I read this list and hear “These are a few of my favorite things . . .” playing in the background.

3. So, I have to do 20 minutes of deep knee bends, five times a day.  That’s 100 minutes of deep knee bends.  What’s a girl to do to pass the time? I’m a big binge watcher and I desperately needed something to fill the queue.  Outlander wrapped, Game of Thrones is all but done, House of Cards is but a fond memory, and Orange is the New Black won’t come on for a few days, still.   Lucky me, I’ve found Black Sails.  Arrrrgh, I love this show; I may even pick up Treasure Island once I’m all caught up.

4. New favorite kitchen gadget: the herb stripper. While I enjoy cooking with fresh herbs for the flavor that they provide, pulling the delicate leaves off of the stems was tedious. I’m too impatient. I either under-seasoned a dish because I grew bored of pulling off leaves, or over seasoned a dish because I was too lazy to pull the leaves off and just chopped up the bundle, leaves, stems, and all.  No. . .not really, but it was super tempting to do.  Now with this ingenious tool, I’m threading everything through the holes and separating leaves from stalk lickety split.  Fresh salsa, anyone?

kitchen gadet, kitchen geek, cooking, kitchen, chef, tool

This changes everything!

 

5. Sadly, my vacation plans went swirling down the drain when the doc said I’d be sporting this boot for the next three months.  Still, that hasn’t stopped me from imaging what it would be like to be laid up on a white beach with turquoise water lapping at my toes.  I see myself buff and bronze, sweating umbrella drink and hand, sporting this super cute bathing suit. Yes, I can definitely see myself in this.

bathing suit, summer

Summer goals 2015

Any odds and ends catch your eye this week? Share them with me in the comments!

So What Had Happened Was. . .

May 22, 2015

Well this sucks. . .

There’s really not much more to be said about it than that.  I’ve been out of pocket for about five days, trying to get myself, the kids, the household back on track after an unexpected trip (and prolonged stay) at the hospital.  Truth be told, I don’t like drawing attention to myself, but when I found out that there wasn’t going to be an quick in and out trip to the doctor, I decided to post a screen shot of my hospital bed to give folks a heads up.

So here’s what had happened. . .

You all know that I’ve been doing my best to lay low after this last tendon re-tensioning surgery. I’ve watched so much tv. I’ve surfed every corner of the Internet. I’ve sat around with my leg propped on pillows and let life continue on around me, a human rock letting the river of everyday rush and tumble over and across me. It’s been a challenge, to go from 60 mph to about 10 mph, but I keep telling myself, “If you do this, you’ll heal better, faster, stronger. Suck it up. Suck it up.” So I’ve been doing it.

Last Thursday, I finished the last set of 20 deep knee bends I’m supposed to do 5 times a day.  This is what my workout regimen has become — deep knee bends.  When I was done, I sat down to wrap my ankle in an ace bandage.  Things felt a little warm to the touch and when I finished with the wrap, I noticed that my hand smelled a little funky.  Chalking it up to sweaty feet, I got ready for bed and forgot about it. Friday, I kept noticing that things were a little tender on my ankle and that the smell was not necessarily coming from my feet but from the surgery site.  Have I grossed you out completely? Because of the angle of the incision, I couldn’t really see anything. I tried, unsuccssfully, to snap a few pictures with my phone.  I ended up waiting for the Hubs to come home that evening. I said, “Um, I need you to take a look at something,” which, if you’re ever asked that, usually doesn’t bode well.  Ever the poker face, the Hubs got down, took a look and said, “Yeah, that doesn’t look right.”

Subconcsiouly, I knew something was wrong, but I was in denial.  I called a good friend of mine who is a wound nurse, sent her some photos and was not surprised when she said I needed to call my doctor.  Let me set the scene for you. It’s Friday afternoon at 5:30.  I had planned to have a little quality time with the Hubs, had been looking forward to it all week. I’d laid out a nice little spread:

wine, cheese, fruit, salami, snacks,

Enjoying a little wine and goodies with my best guy. . .at least I was planning to. .

My doctor is based out of Baltimore. His office closes at 4:30. Nothing good is going to come of me calling, but I do.  The doctor on call is very genial, very concerned. He gives me his personal cell number, instructing me to take photos and send them along.  After a series of exchanges and a few harried calls, he tells me not to eat anything else and asks me how soon I can get to the ER. In Baltimore.

[insert expletives of your choosing here]

By now, it’s approaching 7pm. The kids are zoned out in front of the TV. My wine and crackers are an afterthought.  The doctor’s text message — “Don’t eat anything else. We’ll prep the OR just in case, but get to the ER as soon as you can. Tell them I’m expecting you and if you have to wait more than 2 minutes, we’ll fire everyone who stands in the way.”

Well, damn.

I don’t know if I should be impressed with this level of patient care or worried that something is seriously wrong that requires this kind of bad-assery. We get my mom to the house, throw some clothes in a bag and hit the road. It’s now 8pm.

Traffic on the 95N corridor at 8pm on a Friday is fuster-cluck. We make it to Baltimore by 11:30 and I’m in triage by 11:45.  No one got fired.

A new doc comes in, a self-proclaimed minion of my doc.  She’s young, whip-smart and the type of person I’d like to be friends with under completely different circumstances.  She’s got my doc on the speakerphone, running down everything she sees, everything I’ve told her.  She’s snapping photos, texting dimensions and referring to my doc as Batman because 1) he never sleeps and 2) he’s just that awesome.

I’ll spare you the details of what went down in the ER.  Suffice it to say, I didn’t have to go to the OR (hallelujah), though I would have much preferred being knocked out than being stuck like a pincushion.  Lidocaine is no friend of mine; the treatment was worse than the cure.

By 4am, I was patched up and wheeled to a room.  The Hubs was almost delirious from lack of sleep. Despite the morphine, lidocaine, and adrenaline, I could have run laps up and down the unit.  Awww, running laps. . .how I miss it. A parade of nurses came in to check vitals, hook me up to IVs, assess this, that, and then some before leaving us to contemplate all of what happened.

What had happened? A post-surgical infection — not uncommon — has started percolating at the distal end of my surgery site.  It wasn’t because of something I did or because of something I didn’t do. It just happens.  Unfortunately, it happened to me.  Fortunately, we caught it before it blossomed into something really nasty.

By now, it’s Saturday morning around 8am. My surgeon comes in, along with the doc on call and the ER doc.  more assessments. More poking, prodding, and palpating.  After all the ministrations, we were left with some instructions to just “hang tight” while they ran cultures to figure out what exactly they were dealing with.

hosptial, recovery, tendon surgery, surgery, IV

Well this sucks. . .

I was more than ready to go home, figuring they’d done everything but hand me some antibiotics.  However, that wasn’t going to happen. They had to know what exactly they found in order to know how best to treat it. Okay, I can understand that.  I’ve had enough anatomy, physiology, and biology to know it takes time to grow cultures.  My doc says, I should be home on Monday.  Not ideal, but manageable.  He talks some more before concluding that Tuesday will probably be the earliest that I can leave.  Wait a tick, he just added a day.  He says, “I’d rather add more days, then let you go early.  Then I look like a hero.  If I say you can go early and then it turns out we have to keep you, then I like a doofus”. His words, exactly.

So, I hunker down  and wait. And wait. And wait.  It is the absolute worst. I try to think of all the silver linings that I can:

  • I’m getting the best medical care.
  • The kids are taken care of.
  • The Hubs is with me.
  • I’ve got great docs.
  • We caught it early.

It’s a small consolation, but I’m really trying to stay positive.  Sunday comes around, with another parade of nurses and doctors.  The information is the same: “We’re still waiting on the cultures to come back from the lab.”  More waiting, more hospital food.  Monday morning. No news.  Monday afternoon, no news. Monday evening and a new doctor, this one the head of infectious diseases.  Great. He says what they know it’s not.  He tells me what they think it is, but he can’t know for sure because, guess what? “We’re still waiting on cultures to come back from the lab. ” at which point my demeanor changes considerably.

My face when the docs came in again to tell me the cultures were still not back from the lab.

I start peppering this doc with information and questions based on everything that I’ve heard so far and everything that I know about anatomy, systemic infections, and bacteria infections, which is considerable. I spoke clearly, concisely, with my words dressed in displeasure, dissatisfaction and impatience.  The Hubs was sitting in a chair working on his computer just letting me skewer the doc, despite my looking over at him like, “C’mon, Tito! Back me up, here!”  No matter.  I handled it just fine and let Dr. Infection simply repeat that we’re waiting on the cultures.  I should have told him not to come back in unless he had cultures in hand.

Tuesday morning. 7am. The doc on call came in and guess what he said? Yup. Not back yet. I ask if the lab is actually in the building or if they’ve outsourced it.  He doesn’t know, he just knows there’s a lab in the hospital because he’s been in it. How reassuring.  I ask how, with no labs back,  Dr. Infection could tell me what he thinks and what he knows about my situation.  Doc on call says, “Well, it’s like trying to determine if this thing is Asian or Caucasian.  We know it’s Asian, but we need to figure out if it’s Japanese, Chinese, Cambodia, or Filipino.” Then he apologizes for that terrible analogy.  Since he’s feeling contrite, I hit him with the fact that I missed V’s birthday yesterday, and that I’ve got two other kids at home that need my attention.  Nothing like a little guilt to grease the wheels of the culture lab.

Tuesday morning. 11am.  word on the street is that the cultures are back, but not yet in the computer.  I’m seriously about to disconnect myself from the IV and run the daggone samples myself.  Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Infection come up with some information. They’ve figured it out. They can write a scrip instead of running a picc line (excuse me? that was under consideration?). I have never moved more purposefully in my life. I started folding up my stuff, packing my bag. Hell, I even made the hospital bed and folded the extra blankets.  I was so done and ready to bail.

By 4:30, I was being wheeled down to the lobby.  I felt like a mole, coming out into the sun for the first time in five days.

So here we are. Trying to put things to rights after having been away from the helm. I’m beyond grateful for my parents, my friends, my girls, and my husband for all of their help and support. I’m so thankful for everyone who has checked in on me, who has offered to help in some way.  Truly, just checking in has been the biggest balm in this entire situation.  I’m thankful that my leg is still attached, that I’ve got the right combo of medical intervention to keep it that way. I’m back to taking it slow.  Dialing it down even more from 10mph. I’m at like 7mph, maybe even 5!  Not ideal, but like everything else, you’ve got to put in the work to see the results.   In this case, the work is actually refraining from work.  Funny how that shakes out.

 

“Maggie Sinclair” Giveaway!!

May 20, 2015

How lucky are we?! Natural beauty blogger, naturalista, mom to a super curly cutie, and all around awesome lady, Gina, at Natural Belle, is hosting a “Maggie Sinclair, Will You Please Fix Your Hair?!” Giveaway via Instagram.

Gina (@naturalbelle) has one signed copy of “Maggie Sinclair, Will You Please Fix Your Hair” by Hilary Grant Dixon and illustrated by Gabrielle Howell to give away!
“Maggie” is inspired by Hilary’s real life experiences, showing how a young girl uses her creativity and imagination to celebrate her amazing hair all while sharing a lesson about self love. Definitely one for your little ones book self.

To enter:
1.  Follow @curly_girlie78
2.  Repost this image in your IG and tag @curly_girlie78 and @naturalbelle using the ‘tag people’ option. Comment below when you’re done! [please@comment ‘private’] if your account is set to private so you can be followed and your entry seen.
T&C
This giveaway is international. @curly_girlie78 and @naturalbelle are not responsible for any customs charges or items lost in transit. Giveaway ends Sunday 24th May 2015.
Good luck!

Monday, Monday.

April 27, 2015

Back to the grind.

I’m two weeks post-op. My one job is to rest.  I’m doing my best to be patient while things percolate under the bandages, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t tried to still be SuperMom.  For the past two weeks, I’ve been delegating tasks, coordinating schedules, and running my little empire from the prime real estate that is the sofa.  There have been quite a few times when I’ve had to pull an Elsa and just let stuff go. Like when I came downstairs for the first time after a week of bed rest and found the entire first floor looking like the bottom of a backpack on the last day of school.

I am, however, trying to keep things in perspective.  These past two weeks, as well as the next however many it will take to get back to business, are  just a paragraph in this particular chapter of my life.

That’s kind of deep.  It’s also one thing to say and quite another thing to believe it.  I’m working on it, though.  I remind myself to breathe. I remind myself to patient. I remind myself to be a little kinder to myself than I was yesterday.  I make plans.  I pin things to my boards. I organize.  I re-post things on tumblr.  I make lists. I read blogs. I read books. I make more lists. I take selfies.

I’m outlining the next chapter.

  • I’m so ready for summer clothes, but I need to figure sort out what I’ve got from last season.  I stumbled upon this website and now have a plan.
  • This would be great in my room, once I’ve completed my wardrobe capsule.
  • Spending an inordinate amount of time on IG has introduced me to a number of cool bloggers, motivational words, new hairstyle ideas, and lots of pictures of cupcakes.
  • Mmm, cupcakes.
  • And lemonade filled mason jars with a little whimsy poking out of the top.
  • And of course, something to read.

 

 

 

 

It keeps going, and going. . .

April 1, 2015

This has been my life lately:

I know that change is going to come, specifically in two weeks, but I’m just trying to get my feet under me in the meantime.  I will definitely catch you up on all of my misadventures, just be patient with me with I as I sort it all out into coherent vignettes. I’ve got a great recipe post (that I’ve been working on since March 16 *smh*), I’ve got to tell you about my 21 day fitness fix, the Alum Run, the “Maggie Sinclair, Will You Please Fix Your Hair?!” reading and book signing, my preparation for surgery on the 13th, and now it’s April!  Where is the time going?  There’s so much we have to catch up on.

Check back with me and I’ll fill you in!

Hilary With One L: Hair Wizard

February 9, 2015

Both M and C have American Girl Dolls.  M has Cecile and C has Addy.  They begged and cajoled, wheeled and promised, anything, anything if they could have these dolls.  What’s a mother to do?

Stop listening to a 9 year old and 7 year old and listen to her gut.

They dolls aren’t played with. Not really. M and C make them dance around a bit now and then, but for the most part, Cecile and Addy are posted up on M’s nightstand and C’s bed, respectively. Sometimes, Hurricane V will come through the room and undress Cecile and Addy, unbraid their hair, and scatter their accessories around before tiring of this destruction and turning her attention to something else.

Cecile and Addy are left looking like the opening scene of Law and Order: SVU.    M and C get bent out of shape with V, but just end up just leaving the dolls naked and in disarray.  These very expensive dolls that they begged, cajoled, wheeled and promised me anything, anything for if I would buy them, are left naked and splayed out.  Even the Velveteen Rabbit got more love that these two.

When I’m straightening up the girls’ rooms, and I see the dolls cast away like so many other Happy Meal inserts, pantless Barbies and broken crayons, I just shake my head. I hear my own mother’s voice in my head, “I’m not buying you another single doll until these dolls have some clothes on!”.  I’ve used that line with very little impact; naked Barbies abound in the playroom.  When it comes to the American Girl Dolls, though, I’m going to have to stick to my guns.  I find myself dressing Cecile and Addy, sitting quietly on the bed, pulling on socks, lacing up shoes, finding the little gloves and matching hats.  I take the hair ties from around my own wrist and use it to secure a very neat French braid or Dutch braid that I’ve given the doll. Yes, I’m spending my own time, playing caring returning these playthings back to some sort of recognizable state.

American Girl Dolls, Addy, Cecile, DIY

BFFs

When M and C discover what I’ve done, it’s never met with any kind of thanks. I think they assume the doll fairy, cousin of the Tooth Fairy or something, flies in and takes care of business.  Things continue along as usual, with the dolls standing around until Hurricane V rolls through again. M has said that if they had more accessories for the dolls, like Addy’s ice cream set or Cecile’s canopy bed, as well as more outfits and so forth, they’d play with the dolls all.the.time.   Right, let me run on out and get that for you.

The last time V disrobed the dolls, leaving pantaloons and socks in her wake, M and C were more upset than usual.  Evidently, the hair on both Addy and Cecile has been literally, bent out of shape.  No amount of palm smoothing, brushing with the accessory brush or finger de-tangling was going to get the knots, frizz and general rattiness under control.  M implored me to fix Cecile’s hair. In her way of thinking, if I can do her hair, if I can do her sisters’ hair, well, then I can do the doll’s hair, too.  “Mom,” she said earnestly, “you’re like a hair wizard”.  That’s some high praise right there.  But, flattery will only get you so far.  Gently, I explained to her that the kind of hair sprouting out from Cecile and Addy’s heads wasn’t going to respond the way her hair did.  Not one to be defeated, M suggested I  “go on the interwebs and You Tube it!”, it being ways and means on how to restore the hair of their respective dolls to their former glory.

This is where we are in this life. I didn’t have an American Girl Doll growing up, but if I did and her hair got all kinds of kinked out, my mother would have shrugged her shoulders and said something like, “I told you to take care of it,” walking off with an air of “too bad, so sad,” trailing behind her.  Fast forward 25 years and my daughters are giving me tips on what to do to solve this problem.  And the thing is, they aren’t wrong in their suggestions.  A quick visit to Google turned up pages of American Girl Doll fan sites and

It’s not like we haven’t been done this road before.  Last year, during spring break, I tried to to get the girls playing with some toys that hadn’t been loved on in a while. I broke out M’s Bitty Baby, an another American Girl family member, but M was decidedly against playing with her since her hair looked like this:

  bitty baby, American Girl Doll, doll hospital It’s no surprise that the amount of love shown to this doll is directly proportional to the ease M has when trying to brush this doll’s hair.  The easier the brush moves through the hair, the more she plays with it, the more she loves on it.  There had not been a whole lot of hair brushing going on as of late and this doll has been relegated to the bottom of the toy bin.Thinking I could remedy the situation with the hair and in turn rekindle the romance between M and the doll, I went to Pinterest in search of a de-tangling recipe to alleviate the knots and tangles in this mane.  The fact that I was even doing this was mind boggling even to myself. I wanted to find a quick and dirty trick that would just get things going.  The recipe I settled on called for one part fabric softener mixed with three parts water in a spray bottle.  Spritz the offending tresses and then brush your way into tame locks. photo 1 Fabric softener? Check. Waterbottle? Check. American Girl Doll hair brush where I thought it would be when I needed it?! Check. I was ready to go.Now, before I continue, let me just make the observation: Of all the pins that I saw related to this doll hair de-tangler, none of the pins – NOT ONE – had an American Girl Doll getting her ‘do done.  They were mostly Rapunzel dolls or Barbie Styling heads. In my estimation, doll hair is doll hair. I whipped up the water/fabric softener cocktail and got down to business.There’s a reason why there were no American Girl Dolls in the pins with the doll hair de-tangler.  See, it wasn’t until I was brushing out clumps of sweet mountain lake scented wet doll hair that it occurred to me, “Hmm, maybe I should have looked up how to care for this hair on the American Girl website.”  So, with soggy fingertips, I Google searched American Girl Doll hair care on the iPad.

Guess what?

You don’t use doll hair de-tangler on American Girl Dolls.  Like ever. If you have a curly hair American Girl Doll, such as the one we have, you should only use water and your fingers to de-tangle and style the hair. Here was my face when I read that last part:

Of course you do.

So, I gave the doll’s hair an epic rinse before breaking out all of my hair implements in order to wrangle it back into some semblance of a style.  And of course, I was trying to do this as covertly as possible lest M wander through the kitchen and spy what I’ve done to her doll, thereby rendering it persona non grata in her purview.  About half a dozen hair balls later, I ended up with this:

photo 3

Not great, but not bad. And here we are about a year later with more dolls in need of hair care.  So knowing what not to do, I am going to jump in to figure out what I should do for this particular type of hair.  More googling confirms that finger detangling is the way to go to restore hair like Cecile’s.  As for Addy’s, the recommendations include Downy Dunk, finger detangling combined with toothbrush styling, or just straight-up washing with baby shampoo.  The more links I clicked, the more information spooled out. The more information that spooled out, the more it was beginning to look like Addy and Cecile were going to be added to the wash day line-up, right beside M, C, and V.  “Washing and styling” two more heads? To you sir, I say no, no, and again no.

The biggest take away in this entire exercise has been that I would rather fill out paperwork and send them both to the American Girl Doll hospital for a “wellness check” and “hair styling” (i.e. swap out the old head for a new one), rather than spend a Sunday afternoon finger styling synthetic hair on a doll that I spend more time interacting with than it’s nominal owners.

Yes, there is a teachable moment here. Yes, I will more than likely set up both M and C with the various tools needed to transform our kitchen into a doll sized hair salon. And once we have successfully coiffed Cecile and Addy, they’ll be returned to their respective perches for V to have at when none of us expect it. And I will continue to dress them, match their socks and shoes, and keep them as close to pristine as possible.   It would seem I’ve gotten my very own — well, two — American Girl Doll, afterall. Better late than never, I suppose.

Respect the Hair

January 21, 2015

Let me tell you a story.

V and I were in Target about a week ago. I passed two women who were doing their shopping. One of the women had on this really smart outfit — black turtleneck, herringbone shorts with black tights and little black booties.  She looked super cute; her outfit was just so. I told her as much as we passed in the aisle.  She thanked me and resumed talking with her friend. As perused the shelves for my product, I heard the friend remarking that V’s hair looked like the child of one of their friends.

“What a cutie!” the friend said as she scooted her cart closer to ours. “Doesn’t her hair look just like [_____]’s? Can I just touch it?”

And as the words were coming out of her mouth, her hand was moving steadily forward towards V’s head.  I shifted myself between her and V, saying firmly and clearly, “I would rather you didn’t.”

The speed with which she recoiled and the look that crossed her face — a combination of  incredulity and indignance — you would have thought I dropped an f-bomb right there in among the paper products.

“Oh!” she said.  “Oh!” she said again and whatever modicum of general politeness and decorum that had just passed between us evaporated.

Because I told her not touch my daughter’s hair.

V’s to young to understand it now, but M and C know as well as I do.  Our hair is an extension of our body. I wouldn’t let some random person stroke my cheek, pat my buns, or rub my tummy (someone almost lost a finger doing that when I was pregnant).  I am certainly not going to let someone touch my hair. This is a lesson that I share with my girls and continue to share with them because it is a situation that, sadly, is not a one time thing. What is most disheartening to me is the conclusion that the girls have reached: If my hair wasn’t like this, then people wouldn’t want to touch it.   If my hair was straight, then people wouldn’t want to touch it.

Not long before this incident at Target, my mother had a similar occurrence with someone in her exercise class.  The woman asked to touch my mother’s hair.  When my mother plainly said no, the woman asked, “Why not?”.  Now, my mother can throw an eyebrow better than The Rock, which is exactly what she did as she very succinctly told this woman, “Because. I. Said. No.”

We all know that the hair struggle is real. All over the internet, social media, magazines and television, we see and hear women talking about how to wrangle, manage, and tame their locks. This blog is no exception.  The natural hair movement has steadily grown over the last few years, with particular emphasis placed on how to style one’s hair, the best products to use and the ways in which to encourage health and growth. When it comes to loving one’s hair and having others respect your hair,  it seems that those topics don’t get the same amount of attention.

As mothers, caregivers, sister-friends and such, we do our part to foster self-esteem and self-love in our curly cuties.  The pervasiveness of unrealistic standards of beauty serves to undermine the strong foundations we wish to cultivate.  How can one grow to love and respect a hair type that has been made to be considered “less than” and “distinctly other”?

Respect is at the core of this issue.  If we can’t respect our own hair, we can’t expect others to do so.  Even when we do embrace and love our hair, we must actively demonstrate that respect so others will follow suit.  There must be strong role models, who appreciate themselves and encourage others to do so.  There must be resources that promote, uplift and positively reflect what is seen in the mirror. There must be tools given to help our curly cuties navigate situations where they can be made to feel secure and confident in who they are as opposed to “distinctly other”.

I’ve read that when you let other people’s negative words effect you, you are giving away your power. I’ve been guilty of this. I’ve seen it happen to my children.  I want to provide them with tools — arrows in their quiver and at the ready — so that they can respond to whatever anyone says with respect for themselves and their hair, their power fully in their possession. It’s not about creating an air of superiority, nor is it about going H.A.M on someone who just doesn’t get it.  As much as I chafe under the idea that I have to teach someone else how to treat me, thereby teaching them how to treat others, it must be done in order to create and environment whereby natural hair, curly hair, relaxed hair, and all hair types in between are no longer viewed as  novel, but as normal.

Yesterday, as part of a news segment on the Today Show, I learned that a study commissioned by Dove determined that “girls, as young as 5, are six times more likely to have an aversion to their hair if it’s curly. And they’re nine times more likely to believe that if they had straighter hair they would be happier and have more friends.”*

This particular nugget of information was part of a larger discussion of Dove’s new campaign to help girls love their curls.  In addition to Dove’s findings, Nikki Walton from www.CurlyNikki.com was featured.  Walton, a licensed psychotherapist, author, professional blogger and naturalista, weighed in on the issue, pointing out that the lack of self-esteem for one’s hair has been and continues to be an issue in the community.  Citing the aforementioned unrealistic standard of beauty, as well as the psychological root that often hinders personal growth, Walton’s message was clear: If these feelings weren’t really an issue, there wouldn’t be a need for campaigns such as Dove’s.

Listening to the examples given was touching, but I challenge you to watch this commercial and not experience all manner of feels.

I was good until the big musical reveal to the girls.  Throat got a little tight.  Got a little verklempt.  Can you imagine how different a conversation this would be if something like this had been made 10 years ago? 20 years ago? We might be having this conversation at all.

Last week, I talked about each one, teach one, with respect to having the girls learn how to do their own hair.  Respect of one’s hair must be included in that lesson as well. . . maybe a few shaolin moves for those who get too close.

*Dove, “New Campaign Aims to Help Girls Love Their Curls“.  www.todayshow.com. 20, January,2015.

Each One, Teach One

January 14, 2015

Yesterday, I took M and C to the hair salon to get their hair cut. More accurately, they got a trim, but you would have thought the 2 inches that they lost between the two of them was the equivalent of Demi Moore shaving her head in G.I. Jane.  What pleased me most, however, was seeing them realize how much better their hair felt and looked after it had been cut.  Add to that the fact our stylist left their hair in big, giant afros, flying free also added to their good moods.  It’s rare that I let their curls just be out, and as I de-tangled, sectioned and braided well past bedtime last night, I remembered why. I’m thinking it’s time to let my little curly girlies be more proactive in their hair care.  While they often ask for blow-outs and press-outs, I constantly remind them to love the hair that’s growing out of their heads. If they learn to take care of their own hair,  that can only reinforce what I’ve been saying.   A little self-empowerment can lead to a lot more self-love.  So where to start?

It occurred to me this morning, as scooped my own hair into a high puff, I have been wearing my hair naturally for close to 15 years.  15 years! Sure, I’ve had one or two moments of weakness when I returned to the creamy crack, but in each case, those were brief reconciliations, neither one lasting longer than 10 months.

What surprises me most about my natural hair journey is how much has changed in 15 years.  Women have been wearing natural hair for a long time. That’s nothing new.  What has changed is the prevalence with which natural hair is now embraced, celebrated, encouraged, and applauded.  Maybe, 15 years ago, people were just starting to explore and understand natural hair. Maybe 15 years ago, the scope of the movement was greater than where I was living at the time.    All I know is that when I did my Big Chop, the term Big Chop wasn’t part of the lexicon. A few of my college classmates also did a big chop, each of us for our own reasons. We relied on Elasta QP Gel and Infusium 23 Leave In Conditioner to get our curls coiled and defined.  Our wash and go’s were literally wash — and go. I figured I’d be using Sebastien’s Wet Gel on my curls and coils for the forseeable future. Never would I have imagined that there would be multiple product lines, salons, books, websites, and YouTube channels all dedicated to natural hair.

As time has passed, I’ve learned more about my hair and what it requires in order to stay healthy and strong.  The more information that has become available, the better equipped I am to keep my hair looking good. In turn, I’m able to share that with my own curly girlies in the hopes that they will always love their natural hair.  We have enough products — shampoos, conditioners, creams, gels, lotions, puddings, oils, you name it — to open our own pop-up shop.  A lot of trial and error occurs on our Sunday wash days, figuring out which combination is going to work best for our hair different types of hair. Between the 4 of us, we’ve got at least 6 different curl patterns going.

I look to hair typing simply as a guide to help me better describe and care for the hair I’m working with.  I don’t subscribe to the “this type is more desirable than that type” foolishness.  All hair is good hair. My job is to keep it that way.

I have the honor of being Test Subject A when it comes to trying out new methods and products in our household.  I figure if it works for me, then we can let it trickle on down through the ranks and let M, C, and V benefit from my experiences.  What I’ve been doing is called the L.O.C method.  This method enables curly girlies to have well hydrated and moisturized curls without having to go through the process day after day.

LOC is an abbreviation for Liquid, Oil, and Cream — though I have seen some bloggers and naturalistas substitute Leave-In Conditioner for the L.  The name itself represents the order in which you apply your products and while it may seem as though you are layering a lot of product on your hair, you’re doing so in order to retain the moisture your hair desperately needs.  The liquid, usually water or aloe vera juice, provides the moisture.  The oil and the cream, preferably a butter based cream, act as sealants to trap the moisture in the hair.

After many weeks of using the method, I’m a believer. My hair is hydrated. My curls are defined. My hands are out of my hair which means, my frizz is kept to a minimum.  My products of choice have been Kinky Curly Leave-In Conditioner, Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil, and then Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. Recently, however, I switched up and used Aloe Vera Juice, which helps promote hair growth, as my L.  I use Jojoba Rosemary Mint Oil from Two Curls One Mission as my O, and the Deva Curl Curl Enhancing Cream for my C.  I finished it with a little Deva Curl Light Defining Gel.

So, how does it all go down?  Well, in the shower, I saturate my hair with the water.  I use a spray bottle to soak my hair with the Aloe Vera Juice and I separate my hair into two sections.  What is tricky about this process is that I work from the nape of my neck forward, meaning, I’m bent over at the waist while I work.  Water up the nose? Yup, that happens, but I’ve found that it’s easier for me to detangle and distribute product when I can see the hair in front of me.

I begin to detangle my hair, one section at a time, using only my fingers.  Once my hair is fully detangled, I apply the Jojoba Rosemary Mint oil, paying special attention to my roots and my ends.  This particular oil smells fantastic and the mint is stimulating to my scalp.  Moving on going one section at a time, I coat my hair with the cream making certain to keep the section detangled.  I then combine the two sections and then, using a dollop of gel, I work that through my hair making certain to coat every strand.  If you’re going to have your fingers in your hair, this is the time to do it. I usually end up with a big wad of shed hair for my efforts, too.  I’ve been told by my stylist, as well as by several naturalistas that this is entirely normal.

photo 1-1

Still bent over, I use one of the Hubs old undershirts over my hair like a turban to absorb the moisture as I finish my showering and dressing routine.

I use the undershirt because that fabric is gentler on my hair. Also, I try not to put a lot of heat on my hair as a general rule.  With the exception of a diffuser on high pressure and low heat, I don’t really use a hair dryer.  For the next six months, I’m participating in a no heat challenge. I’m still eating relatively cleanly, taking some vitamins and drinking lots of water, all of which promise to aid in the hair growth.  I’m excited to see what happens, and if there’s little to no growth at all, well, I know that I’m treating my body very well otherwise.

After the majority of the moisture in my hair has been absorbed by the t-shirt, I unwind it and let my curl fall down.  I put a thin coating of oil on my hand before manipulating a few wayward curls into place in order to minimize frizz.  After that, I may give my head a shake and let things settle a bit more, and then I’m out the door.

Over the course of the day, my hair dries, and shrinkage sets it.  I’m not a fan of shrinkage, but I recently read that if you have a lot of shrinkage, it means your hair is healthy.  After a quick Google search, it turns out shrinkage is a reflection of lack of heat damage and lack of over-moisturized hair.  Good to know!

At night, I pineapple my hair and throw on a satin bonnet.  In the morning, I use a bandana to keep my curls in place while I workout.  When I’m ready to get on with my day, I untie the bandana and let the steam from the shower make my curls fall back into place.

This entire process is way more labor intensive than anything I ever did 15 years ago.  But like I said, a lot has changed in 15 years.  I am fully a part of the natural hair community. I write about it on my blog. I share tips and tricks with friends and family, even complete strangers, who are also looking for the perfect combination to achieve healthy hair. Instead of having my dad touch up my afro with his clippers, I seek out salons that cater to natural hair for quarterly trims. Oh, and I’ve written a book about it, too.  It is more than fitting for the next step in my hair journey would be to help my curly girlies discover and employ the variety of options available to them when it comes to their respective hair journeys.

For right now, I’ll continue to wash their hair myself and gradually build up to letting them take the reins on such a multi-step process.  In the interim, we’ll start with the basics.  First lesson: Mastering the high puff.

 

 

 

 

 

Spinning Plates

October 1, 2014

Time is flying by and I don’t really think I’m having a whole lot of fun.

Truthfully, I’ve been running, running, running ever since we came back from vacation.  In August.  I can clearly recall when the calendar flipped to the last day of school for the 2013-2014 school year. The entire summer stretched out before us, peppered with camps, play-dates, day trips and vacation the golden ring to reach for that would wrap it all up.

Once we crossed the threshold from driving straight from Martha’s Vineyard to Virginia, the pace didn’t slow down an iota.  It maintained and gradually picked up speed as we skipped from M’s birthday celebration to 4th grade orienation, followed by 1st grade orientation followed by pre-school orientation.  Then it was the first day of school.  Next was class picture day and back to school night and calendar meetings!  My planner was bursting with reminder notices and in an attempt to sync my iCal with my iPhone and my iPad, I got iMessage from Siri saying “I quit”. Even with three calendars a slew of reminders and post-its dotting my door frames, I constantly feel like I’m a pace behind.  I’m trying to work in the in between times of school, activities, and my responsibilities to others. I’m looking forward down time with the kids, but I also have to get groceries, wash hair (times 3), mail out copies of “Maggie Sinclair”, and attend to the multiple pieces of minutiae that life has liberally sprinkled over me.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a pity party nor a raging rant.  I know I am not the first, nor the last, nor the only person to have responsibilities or wear a variety of hats.  I haven’t, as the father of a high school friend used to say, “forgotten to count”.  I’ve got so many blessings and good things going in my life, when I stop to think about it, I’m embarrassed for feeling overwhelmed by a situation of my own creation.

Many years ago, I attended a church service as a guest of woman I had met through a Kindermusik class.  I grew up Episcopalian. I went to a Catholic high school. I had a period where I wasn’t sure I wanted to participate in church because I felt like a hypocrite for reciting words that didn’t hold meaning for me. I wanted to understand what I was saying and why, not just reading from the BCP because it said to in my leaflet.   This was a journey that I had been on for a while, getting to this place where I am comfortable with church and my beliefs.  While I was going through it, though, I found myself being invited to church by a variety of different people. At the time, I viewed my beliefs as very private, especially since I was still working them out for myself.  When the latest invitation was issued, I felt God was practically knocking me on the head like, “Hey, I’m just going to keep inviting you until you accept!” —  so I went.  It was a Presbyterian church, a first for me, and more casual than the traditional high holy services I’d grown up with.  What I remember most about that service was section of the sermon given by the pastor, imploring us not to worship at the altar of the Idol of Busyness.  He went on to discuss how we measure our value or our success by how busy we are.  We take pleasure in not being able to participate in certain things because Look at all of these other things that I’ve committed to do already! I’m so busy!

Close to 10 years later, I still think of this message when I find myself at that altar of busyness.  When I’m whirling like a dervish over everything that needs to get done, everything I want to do and everything that I have to do, I need to step back.  To all outside appearances, I’ve got all the plates in the air, spinning in sync, and I’m reaching for some chainsaws to toss in the mix.

In truth, I want to yell “Don’t look at the lady behind the curtain!” That’s where the real me is, pulling levers, flipping switches and wiping sweat from my brow.  There are days when I feel like I’ve done nothing productive, nothing worthwhile, nothing that shows exactly how I’ve spent my day. Case in point, V has started preschool two days a week.  I had a list straining with the weight of things I was going to do with those precious hours.  Then I cracked my tooth.  Then the dentist decided I need to have a re-treatment on a root canal.  And that took multiple appointments and so much Novocain that my blinking is on a three second delay. So, I have spent virtually every available Tuesday or Thursday that she has been in preschool in the dentist chair, lamenting that I haven’t done anything and feeling like I’ve failed.  But failed who? Failed at what?  Who is setting up this unreachable bar of expectations?

Me.

So, I’m working on changing my thinking.  When I begin to feel like I’m so busy, that parenting and adulthood have turned me into a 2014 version of Sisyphus, I take a step back and start ticking off the ways in which I was winning at my life:

I’m alive.

I’m healthy.

So are my husband, my kids, my parents, my family and friends.

I’m working on projects that are exciting and I get to things that I enjoy.

I’m in an enviable position that I need to celebrate instead of wasting time worrying about achieving some arbitrary notion of productivity of my own ridiculous construct.  I’m giving myself permission to let the plates spin a little more slowly or maybe even take a few plates down.

Which of your spinning plates would you like to take down, if only for a little while?

 

 

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