Thursday, March 27, 2014

Should I Dye My Locs?

Yes, I know, my locs are already sporting an ombre with three different colors, but I need something new again :P  Look at the blonde streak (or section?) in the picture above.  Wouldn't I look great with a nice huge blonde streak?!?!?!?

Look at that color! I love the blonde with red for the summer. It looks so vibrant (like me).

Right now my locs are dark brown, light brown and blonde (at the tips), but I think red would add some warmth! I love the idea of introducing red to my locs. "Red. The blood of angry men..." (I watched Les Miserables on Broadway a few weeks ago and all the songs are still stuck in my head!)

I love the color work above and how the color is more concentrated and bright at the front of her head and darker at the back of her head.

Yep, I'm just itching to try something new again.  Don't judge me ;)

Kinky Chic

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Oil Pulling

Those of you who know me relatively well, know that when I say I'm going to start a new lifestyle (kinky chic lifestyle for instance), I tend to dive in head first and border on obsessive when it comes to practicing and learning about my new lifestyle.  And this focus on purifying and cleansing my life has led me to many things including burning sage, using organic candles, shea butter soap, loc'ing my hair, and most recently: oil pulling!

For some background, according to The Chalk Board:
Oil pulling, or oil swishing is an ancient Ayurvedic [meaning: related to the knowledge of life; 5,000 years old] technique, touted by yogis as a natural way to strengthen the immune system by killing toxic yeast that makes its way from your stomach to mouth while you sleep. The science seems to stand sound: our mouths can determine non-oral health issues and unsurprisingly, dentists can diagnose acid reflux, diabetes and heart disease just by symptoms seen during normal check-ups. I was convinced and headed straight for my local specialty grocery store to invest in a jar of virgin unrefined coconut oil. You don’t have to use coconut, but I prefer it in lieu of sunflower and sesame because of its natural antifungal properties (and honestly, it tastes like a candy bar). Be warned: coconut oil comes semi-hardened so you must melt it in your mouth.
I felt results in a matter of days. My sinuses drained as I swished, I felt energetic and alert, and my gums and teeth felt much cleaner than with my normal brushing routine. (I should also mention here that you must scrape your tongue after you spit out the oil, or else you’re just swallowing oil residue with toxins in it). I’ve been doing this for a year and I’m ecstatic to say that I haven’t had one canker sore, nor gotten the flu or cold, even with the scare this season. The skin around my temples cleared up which, according to face mapping is a sure sign that there is something amiss in your stomach. Plus, I swear by it as a hangover cure: It’s a much healthier option than my usual greasy breakfast burrito. By all means, do your own research before you start oil pulling, but I can fully attest to how amazing the benefits have been for my annoyingly delicate constitution. Anyone out there willing to give this a try?
I'm sold.  I'm not a nutritionist, dietitian, doctor or dentist, but I am trying the oil pulling method because I like the purported benefits, and I like that it is in line with my goal to be more healthy in a natural way.

This. Is. Going. To. Be. Good!

Process: When I woke up this morning, I put a heaped tablespoon of congealed coconut oil in my mouth and chewed it until it liquefied and then swished it around my mouth (after brushing my teeth). The consistency of oil mixing with saliva is weird, and I felt a little weird as I was getting ready and continually playing with coconut oil in my mouth. 

After roughly 20 minutes, (gross alert) I noticed a huge glob of mucus seemed to fall from the roof of my mouth.  I figured it was time to stop. I gargled with the coconut oil that was already in my mouth and spit it out into a sink.  I had prepared a warm water and sea salt mix, and I gargled with that solution until my mouth felt clean.  I did not rinse my mouth out with plain water afterwards and my mouth felt squeaky clean!

I'm not sure if you're supposed to brush your teeth before you oil swish, but I did because I couldn't figure out how coconut oil got rid of morning breath lol.

Outcome/Results: I'm typically very hungry when I wake up because I stop eating at about 8:30 p.m. each night (reflux issues).  But I was surprisingly not hungry, even though it was almost time for lunch...  I figured this means if I want to fast for spiritual reasons, I should probably oil pull right before I start my fast and maybe a couple of times while fasting. At lunch time I wasn't hungry or thirsty, but when I drank a little bit of water, I couldn't stop drinking until I almost finished 1 Liter (33.8 fl oz).

While my friends think I'm silly for trying oil pulling because in their words: "Nobody is going to sit with oil in their mouth for 20 minutes in the morning," "You know what's great for removing toxins from your mouth in the morning: Listerine," and my favorite: "Ewwww."  I like this idea a lot.  Maybe it's not the cure-all some folks are claiming it to be, but I don't mind (see also this article).  It's not harmful and the process was fine for me.  Some have a less pleasant (albeit hilarious) experience when oil pulling, including this puller:
I'm sitting here trying not to gag on a mouth completely full of coconut oil diluted with saliva.
Apparently this is good for me.
Ayurvedic practitioners calls this oil pulling. It's the big, new, ancient thing -- thousands of years old, and suddenly super popular again, thanks to digital trend-setters like Pinterest and Facebook.
Hold on. Deep breath. Not. Going. To. Heave. I can do this.
Oil pulling has been all over my Facebook wall for weeks now: promises of everything from whiter teeth to help with allergies to relief of chronic pain. I read somewhere it could treat cancer and AIDS. I was in open-minded awe -- until I read claims that it could improve digestive issues.
Because it's currently causing me new ones.
In fact, if you have a sensitive stomach, now is where I tell you to run. Run far away from the rest of this harrowing tale. Chances are, you'd never try oil pulling to begin with, anyway.
Maybe I need to last the full length of time, rise mind over nausea, and gargle this oil for the recommended 20 minutes. 
When my husband said he'd be working late tonight, I realized I had my window; if he ever caught me doing something like this, I'd never be kissed again. Even more, I'd never stand a chance of succeeding in his presence.
You see, my husband and I both have overactive gag reflexes, to the degree that it's a contributing factor why we never plan on having more children. You try changing a molten diaper while simultaneously trapped in an uncontrollable duet of dry-heaving "huuuu-hhhs," each one setting of the next like diaphragm Dominoes. Just the memory is pushing me closer to sharing my coconut spit with the keyboard.
Speaking of, the longer you keep this oil in your mouth, the more liquid your mouth produces, and the harder it is to keep it in. My cheeks are inflated like a squirrel. Every minute is worse than the last.
Must. Distract. Self.
I'm committed. I've made it this long: 11 minutes. Eleven long, slobbery minutes. I'm not giving up now.
Side note: I think she's prone to rhetorical flourishes, but that's what makes this so funny...

Try it! What's the worst that could happen? Well, nothing actually (unless you count the cost of coconut oil). If oil pulling doesn't work for you, use the coconut oil as a massage oil, or use it on your hair, nails or skin!

Kinky Chic

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spoil Yourself...

Have you spoiled yourself lately? Have you bought yourself something or done something for yourself (and only for yourself)? I enjoy serving other people, but I don't think I ever quite learned how to treat myself to the same service or how to let others serve me.

There's a certain sense of guilt that accompanies enjoying the service of others, and it stems from this idea that I don't deserve such service. Even accepting compliments is difficult for me! When someone compliments my hair, clothes, idea, I feel the need to deflect the compliment.  As I learn more about myself, through this kinky chic lifestyle, I'm discovering reasons to serve myself. But there's this ongoing conversation in my head that makes it difficult to enjoy that service most of the time.

I know it is lent and it may seem weird to think that serving myself is in the spirit of lent, but it really is.  For lent, I gave up negative speech because I seemed to derive some sick pleasure from complaining about my circumstances.  As I give up negative speech (internally and externally), I feel like I am permitting myself to enjoy being served.  The self-defeating voice in my head that would normally stop me from planning a vacation, buying an expensive item, and generally doing something that only benefits me seems quiet lately.  As I starve the negative voice, it has less of an impact on my decisions.  It's amazing that preventing myself from saying negative things and hurting others, also stops me from hurting myself with negative thoughts.

I purchased my dream bag recently because I silenced the negative voice that would normally discourage me from making this type of purchase. The bag represented something I always wanted but I never thought I could have or should have.  A few days after I gave up negative speech and started to monitor what I said and why I was saying it, I started to recognize that the restriction that came from the negative voice was loosening and I felt comfortable making decisions that would have normally made me feel selfish... When you come from nothing and spend a good chunk of your life denying yourself, it is hard to let go and enjoy the benefits of success without guilt.

I was lucky enough to see my bag for the first time with my mom, and she was so happy to see me spoil myself. I think she understood that I was pushing out the feelings of guilt that came with the purchase, and she affirmed me by saying: "You deserve this.  You have to start carrying it right away.  Don't take any of the packaging with you so you're not tempted to return it.  Carry it around and enjoy it." My mom always knows just the right thing to say :)

While retail therapy isn't exactly a permanent solution, I love that when I mentally free myself from negative thoughts, I can serve myself without guilt.  Besides, I think this bag takes my kinky chic life to the next level.  Here's a sneak peak at Cerfia. (Yes I named my bag.):

So, have you spoiled yourself lately? What's stopping you? Spoiling yourself can be as small and as basic as allowing yourself a few minutes early in the morning to pray and meditate; spoil yourself by believing in those dreams that you've been denying yourself for years.  Spoil yourself... "Your only limitation is the one which you set up in your own mind." Napoleon Hill

Listening to Hill's book Outwitting the Devil has helped me find hope and courage to live above negative thinking and speech.  I hope a copy of the audiobook below is as empowering for you as well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Loc'd (30 days and counting)

I'm beyond happy about being loc'd! 

About the Loc Process
My crown was blessed with locs by my loctician Kim at Nubian Kinks, and the process took a little over 18 hours! At a certain point, I couldn't feel my rear end and I had to keep shifting around in my seat.

We started at 9 a.m. in the morning on Super Bowl Sunday, and honestly, I was surprised that anyone wanted to do hair on that day, but thankfully, Kim is my type of person. (I don't watch or really care about the Super Bowl...)

The installation of the loc extensions was painless (thankfully), and I didn't leave the salon looking like I just had a face lift (lol).  Those of you who get braids done know exactly what I mean!

I washed my hair the night before with my Look and Feel Moroccan Argan Oil shampoo and conditioned with the conditioner from the same line.  I followed with Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner and I don't think I sealed with any oils because I wanted clean oil-free hair.  I put my hair into four braids and went to sleep, and by the next morning my hair was dry enough that I was able to undo the braids and rock a big puff as I went to my appointment in Brooklyn.

The install was as simple as this:
  1. Start on clean hair.
  2. Put the hair into sections.
  3. Take a small section enough for one braid.  If the braid you make isn't long enough for the loc length you desire, add extension hair to the braid to make it longer.
  4. Create a loose and small braid in that section.  This braid shouldn't hurt at all.
  5. Wrap the braided section with loose afro-textured hair.  The hair must retain a matte finish even when wrapped not just when it is curly.
  6. Depending on your preference, wrap with different colors of hair to create an ombre effect, but be sure the colors are complimentary.
  7. Once the hair is completely wrapped, palm roll with gel on your hands to seal the loc.
  8. After wrapping each braid, carefully twist the bottom of each loc around the perimeter to give the install a freshly tightened appearance.
  9. Sit under the dryer for about 15 minutes to set the locs.

Pros and Cons

The benefits of having locs far outweigh the setbacks. With that said, here are my thoughts:

  • A few weeks after getting my locs installed, I went on a trip to Arizona, and literally the only items I needed to pack for my hair were: shea butter (for my roots), satin scarf (to wear to bed), hair band (to put my hair up/out of my face).
  • I have brushes and hair products that I no longer need to use.  As a result, I'm giving a bunch of products away to my family (and tossing anything that they don't want).
  • I no longer have to set aside an entire day to wash/style my hair! This is incredibly liberating.  While I still take care of my hair daily by using moisturizer (coconut milk + water + aloe mix) and seal with oil, I no longer need to commit an entire day to turning my coils into a "style" and I love that freedom.
  • I feel like I've joined a community of loc'd people.  It's funny to say but people with locs seem to great each other (well we do!) and I love it.
  • To my surprise, even at this length, my locs are not heavy.

Cons (for lent I gave up negative speak because I seem to get pleasure from complaining, so this was a little bit of a challenge to write)
  • I love my locs, but it seems there are still many negative perceptions about people with locs, including the view that locs are dirty because they don't get washed and locs are religious.  Neither of these assumptions are true for me.  Those who are Rastafari usually have locs, but that doesn't mean that everyone who is loc'd is part of the movement.  Locs are part of an emotional experience for me, but not based on religion.  I have locs because I feel I'm meant to have them, and I'm freely meeting my soul in the process.  I'm helping myself grow out of worrying about how I'm perceived through having my locs, and just enjoying my own spirit.
  • I noticed the other day that one loc in the front area may need to be cut in half or made smaller somehow so it doesn't feel so heavy on my sensitive edges.  This is an easy fix and I plan to do so at my next appointment.
  • The installation process was much longer than I expected, but this meant that from midnight to 6am, I had the undivided attention of my loctician, Kim.  I could tell that she was exhausted, but she just kept moving along and I love seeing someone so committed to their work!
  • I am learning the spirit of patience because my locs aren't completely formed yet, and I need to keep up with my appointments with my loctician every few weeks for the first three months (to keep my one year guarantee of the workmanship and to make sure my locs form well). I was hoping to be washing/caring for/styling my locs on my own much earlier, but I'm enjoying patience too!

In all, loc'ing my hair has so far been transformative for me and I feel liberated from spending an entire day caring for my hair. I also love having this piece of art on my head every day.

Something I'm looking forward to doing to my locs very soon is switching up the ombre.  Suggestions welcomed :)  These two are no help...