Life Updates

Hair

Life has been SO busy. I’ve barely had time to do my hair. I’ve only had time for wash and bunning. My ends feel really moisturized and healthy from all the bunning.I did a flexi-rod set the other day that is not even worth photographing, what a waste of time, no volume or hold. Guess, I’ll be bunning it again this week. I feel like I’m losing some volume from the length, so am thinking about getting a shape-up this winter.

For the holidays, we’ll head back to Boston. I’m really looking forward to going back to the States for winter break, to see family and friends. Also, I’m excited to get my hair done. I’ve already booked an appointment with the stylist I usually go back to. Part of me wants to color my hair, although I probably won’t, since I’m already planning on having it flat-ironed while I’m there. I’m just really looking forward to someone else doing my hair. It’s grown a lot and wash sessions are a bit longer. My edges have finally started to grown in after all that postpartum shedding. However, they look strange, because the hair is really short and growing in, so is always really frizzy. I typically use gel to tame them.

Family

My little peanut is growing and developing at such a fast rate. Sometimes it feels like I blink an eye and things change. He took his first steps a couple of weeks ago. He isn’t fully walking, but occasionally he’ll muster up the nerve to stand up and take a few steps and then sit down. It’s so cute. His first steps he took towards me and said mama and then gave me a big hug. Yep, that little rugrat has my heart forever.
We’re in birthday planning mode now. I went back and forth for weeks trying to decide if I wanted to invite friends (Peanut’s baby friends and older friends). Finally, in the end I decided to have an intimate, cozy family party. I have a feeling we’ll have to entertain kids later on down the line and I really want this party to be a celebration for him. I’m afraid if I invite too many kids, we’ll be so worried about trying to make sure the kids aren’t bored that we’ll be too exhausted to capture the day and cherish it. There will be a couple of babies there, but again close family.

What did you do for your child’s first birthday?

Travel

My last post was on a short holiday in Italy.

I wanted to take you all with my on my trip to Italy, but our vacation rental didn’t have wifi. I’ll admit, it was actually a good thing. We traveled to the Mediterranean Sea to the Finale Ligure region in the northern part of Italy. What a beautiful area. The water was turquoise blue, the coastline jagged and wild and everyday was sunny and warm. The house we rented was literally right on the beach. Every morning we woke up and there was the ocean. We’d walk out to the water and relax on the beach everyday. Peanut loved it and he especially loved scouring the beach for rocks, who needs toys. He’s also obsessed with Italian food.

In any case, our trip was mainly for rest and relaxation and that’s exactly what we did. We visited some lovely towns, strolled around, went to cathedrals and on some walks to historical and world heritage sites, ate lots of lovely focaccia (a specialty of the region). It was loads of fun and I’d definitely return to this region. During the off-season, however, as I’ve heard it’s busy and crowded during the summer. There’s something so calming about being on a beach vacation in the fall. It’s something I’ve enjoyed doing for quite some time.

Another highlight of the trip. While we were staying at this lovely rental during the low season. I noticed a man sleeping outside underneath a vacation house. The owners weren’t there as everything was boarded up. Probably belonged to people who live there a few weeks out of the year. In any case, we noticed the guy slept outside every night. I finally worked up the nerve to go down and talked to him. We figured he was hungry, cold and in need of resources, so gathered a little money, food and water and chatted with him for a little. He said his name was Jim-Jim and that he was from Ivory Coast. His family was separated and they’d all left IC for a better life. He had some family travel to Syria and he made his way up to Italy. He didn’t know what to do and was trying to figure out a way to find work and find a better life. This is the story of many immigrants, thinking the grass is greener, I’m sure. He found Italy cold and unwelcoming. He’s been harassed and told to go home. It’s frustrating for him, as those people are really out of touch with reality and don’t understand the complex nature of immigration and the countries the people flee.

His story warmed our hearts and brought me to tears. I wish we could have done more. All he could do was cry and apologize when we gave him the things we could offer. He said he felt ashamed and didn’t do anything to deserve it. I just explained we’re all brothers and sisters. One day, when he sees someone struggling, I’d hope he’d do the same. His face still haunts my memory. For each day of our trip that remained, we decided to take him things to help him out, blankets to keep warm, as he was sleeping outside on cold nights, hygiene products, pants and socks – he only owned shorts and half-socks (i.e. they only covered half of his feet), lots fruits and food that could keep without refrigeration like sardines, crackers, etc. Jim-Jim was writing a book in French when we came upon him. It was titled “Annoying Others” or something like that. I hope he keeps telling his story and let it be a companion that he takes along with him. He embarked on a dangerous and very long journey, to go to a country and culture that he didn’t know at all. In Western and developed cultures, we call these kind of people transplants, expats, backpackers etc. Jim-Jim felt like he was looked at as less than a mosquito. A parasitic insect, with the sole purpose of taking resources from others and invading their personal space. Of course the issues of immigration are really sensitive and really complex. I know Jim-Jim will continue living as an invisible person within the boundaries of Italy and he has been paid and will continue to be paid next to nothing to work for the next farmer that offers him a physically tough and difficult job. I know I couldn’t do a lot, so I chose to just try to show some compassion.

I want to be make sure I teach my son daily to never take his life from granted and never look down on anyone. I really want him to treat every walk of life with love and respect. I have no idea what it’s like to see genocide, bombings and raping, etc., right before my eyes. For this and much more, I have so much to be thankful and grateful for.

One day maybe I’ll see Jim-Jim’s story on the big screen or in a book, I have hope in my heart that he’ll find safety and normalcy some day.

How have you all been? Are things in your lives crazy this time of year as well?

How My Hair Teaches Me To Love

This summer while on vacation in Boston I had my hair professionally styled. Actually, I had it flat ironed twice (yikes).  The first time, I went to a stylist, I’d gone to as a child. He took his time, used low heat, and left me with lots of volume. . I really loved the fullness and body my hair had after he finished styling it.

I wanted to surprise my husband and let him see my hair straight. So, before returning home, I went to my sister’s stylist, who I’d been to many times in the past, when my hair was relaxed. Unfortunately, my experience wasn’t as positive as the first time. She was a little rough detangling, used high heat to blow dry and straighten my hair, took two passes each time she flat-ironed it (gasp)! I nervously squirmed around in the chair and asked her if my curls would return (my passive way of suggesting that she was using too much heat). She assured me it would as my hair is not flat ironed often and does not hold the memory of being styled straight, so thus should revert easily.

When I came home with my hair straight, I got loads of compliments. I admit it, I enjoyed the attention, as well as the ease of styling my straight hair. I started getting used to seeing myself with straight hair. So when wash day came around I started using curl formers to stretch my hair. The other day, while pulling my hair up into a bun, I noticed it felt and looked rather dry and lackluster.

I decided to stop forcing my hair to do what it doesn’t do naturally and embrace my curls again. My going natural is a continual journey and learning experience. It’s not just about hair, but also about love and acceptance. I want to accept myself, every aspect, and love the skin I am in. It’s so easy to point out what one doesn’t have or what one would like to improve upon and rarely praise the positive things we possess. This shouldn’t be confused with bragging or boasting, but truly being okay with who I am, flaws and all.

I’m back to my curls this week and I’m going to be giving my hair lots of TLC. This is not to say I’ll never flat-iron my hair again, but I don’t plan on it anytime soon. And next time I’m uncomfortable in a stylists chair, I’ll be sure to be vocal and state my apprehensions (this should apply to most matters in life).

On another note, the other day, I was at the pediatrician’s office and she commented that my son was really cool and laid-back. She had just returned from vacation and said he was such a nice baby to see upon returning from her holiday, because of his temperament. Then she went on to say that it must be due to his parents. I told her I wasn’t sure about that. She turned to me and asked, “why is it that when someone says something about a child being bratty, impatient or anything negative, the parents, usually moms, take full responsibility about what they might have done wrong? However, when it’s about something positive, rarely do we claim to take part.” You know what, she’s right? It’s so easy, for people, and I have the feeling, women especially, to internalize a lot of negative events and take the blame. Why not claim good?

So here’s my “better late than never” resolution this year is say one positive and lovely thing I like about myself each morning. And to spread the positivity, today I’ll add something positive about my readers/blog subscribers. I love how sweet and thoughtful your comments are and that thanks to you all this blog is an open and friendly platform. So stay lovely and stay you.

I know a lot of sad and negative events taking place in the world now, but I’d love to know: What are you  loving about life/yourselves these days.

 

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Real talk: Beauty

This is a new feature on my blog. I’ll be discussing different themes in relation to hair (of course) and life and hope you’ll join in on the conversation. This week’s theme is feeling beautiful.

When do you feel most beautiful?

Personally, I noticed for my very definition of beauty evolves with age (like most things). In my teens, it was whatever magazines and peers said was beautiful. I’d study Seventeen magazine for hours hoping to experience my “she’s all that” movie moment. You know, the one where you go to school one day and suddenly the homecoming king realizes you're a supermodel — yeah never happened. In my twenties, particularly early twenties, it was compliments I received from friends, boyfriends and strangers. Now that I'm in my early thirties (eek, writing about three decades make me feel so old), it's when I feel happiest. When I'm laughing uncontrollably with friends over a tea, while reminiscing on our youth. When I do favors for others or surprise loved ones. When I'm doing anything outdoorsy. When my baby boy looks up at me a smiles and coos. Now my definition is all the positive energy I try to put out and feelings of joy that make me feel beautiful. Research shows the most beautiful people are the happiest. I'd have to somewhat disagree and say happy people are truly beautiful. Happiness radiates from within like a lighthouse in the fog. Never let anyone dim your light or define your beauty.

How do you define beautiful? When do you feel beautiful?

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My Mommy Went Natural

I’m so proud of my Mom. She shocked the heck out of me the other day. She sent me a picture of herself with mid-back length relaxed hair. She titled this picture “before”. Next she sent a picture, titled “after”. I almost fell off my chair when I saw her with cropped natural hair. The first thing I did was tell her how beautiful she looked, this is true, whether relaxed or natural, but she had this youthful glow about her in the “after” picture.

That’s all the fun and good stuff, but here comes the not so good. I think she was on an adrenaline high when she cut her hair and was feeling confident and sassy. Over the course of the following days as she saw family and friends, many of their reactions included statements like “Woman, why did you go ahead and cut all that gorgeous, silky hair off?!”, “are you having a breakdown?!”, “how are you going to comb it?”, “you know that natural hair ain’t for everybody”. Those are just a few examples, I’ll spare you the details.

Anyway, the next time I talked to her, I noticed she looked a little less perky. She kept pulling at her hair and talking about the length, that it was nappier than she recalled from when she went natural 10 years ago. That maybe she made a mistake of big chopping during the wrong season. I reminded her that I really loved her hair and told her she looked both elegant and edgy. I advised her to stop watching it grow, because she’ll be shocked months from now when looks in the mirror and realizes how much it actually has grown.This made her cheer up a lot.

We then proceeded to talk about hair regimens. My Mom is pretty old school and her regimen consisted of the good old school regimen she used on my hair growing up. She only shampoos her new hair every other day, then slaps on a little petroleum-based product, doesn’t wrap it nor sleep on a satin/silk pillow case, she actually didn’t even bother brushing or combing it. I told her that natural didn’t mean not combing your hair. Hehehe! I gave her some tips and told her to step away from the multiple shampoo sessions and petroleum-based products and to incorporate conditioner and leave-in into her routine and maybe some natural oils. And for Pete’s sake, wrap that hair! She’ll be visiting me soon and I’m excited to get my hands in her hair and use some of my products on her.

The other day, I received the following text from her: Working up a sweat at the gym, why wait for New Year’s to achieve my goals. Before, going to the gym was something she had to schedule around hair appointments. I believe natural hair is going to change her health and fitness and give my son a fit, healthy grandma– who people might mistake for his Mom!It’s funny how other people can get under our skin and how we can then internalize those things and start using negative statements to talk about ourselves or our hair. If you have a friend or family member who has gone natural, don’t forget to shower them with positivity.

Do you know someone who went natural recently?