Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - I'll Wait For You

During this month of love I wanted to share a word of encouragement for those who are single.  I am currently single (and I always use temporary qualifiers because this is not my permanent situation) and through the years I've heard "words of encouragement from those who had the best of intentions but really didn't know what to say.   So many times, I've heard phrases like:

"When are you going to get married?"

"Your standards are just too high."
"Whenever you get married, I'm gonna dance at your wedding!"
"What are you waiting for?"
"Maybe you shouldn't wear heels."  (I'm 6'1 & I frequently wear a 3 -4 inch heel.)

"You need to hurry up if you want to have children."
"What you need to do is....(insert random generalized piece of advice here)"

I desire to be married.  In fact, I firmly believe that I will be married one day.  I believe that as much as I believe there is a God who loves me.  For me that question is settled, it's a done deal.  The only variable is who and timing.  However, what I've learned (sometimes the hard way) is that it is truly better to wait.  I've seen too many marriages that have come together for the wrong reasons,(i.e. desperation, pressure from others, because a child was involved, surface physical only criteria, etc) and witness them have horrible endings.  I've also seen relationships like my parents and others that have survived the test of time.  What I've noticed about the successful marriages that I've been blessed to witness is this:

1. The relationship has God as center.  Both parties have a relationship with God and submitted to Him first.
2. Trust exists between the parties.  Without trust as a foundation a relationship will not stand.  Trust for faithfulness, honesty, no harm, & has the other's best interests at heart.
3. Two types of love is present:  agape AND eros.  Eros love is the romantic kind of love.  This is the love that makes your liver quiver when that person walks into a room.  But this love can be fickle.  It's stronger some days than others.  Agape love is the God kind of love.  It sees beyond faults and loves unconditionally.  This love will help you keep your promised commitments and will give you the desire to work things out when those storms that will come arise.
4.  It's a partnership.  While I believe that the man should be the head of the relationship (anything with 2 heads is a monster.), I also believe that each should operate in their strengths.  Because one person is not strong in EVERYthing, then the woman should also take the lead in areas of her strength  & likewise the man in his area of strength.  This could be finances, child rearing, running the family business, etc.

I've tried the imitations in the past and I've decided that I'm willing to wait for this true love.  If God desires His best for me, why should I settle for less than that?  So to all those who are married and want to encourage me, you no longer have to worry.  I am already encouraged.  I am assured.  I do not despair or walk around with my head bowed down.   P4CM Poet Janette...ikz effectively gives the relationship testimony of my past and boldly declares where my relationship mentality is right now.  So I say to the ONE who is being prepared for me...just know that I will wait for you and until we meet, Father God YOU are my husband and you are more than enough.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Recognizable Natural: Viola Davis

Viola Davis was born in St. Matthews, SC and after a period of time moved with her family to live in Central Falls, Rhode Island.  Her family was the only minority family in the town.  They lived in poverty and she suffered being called racial slurs and being bullied as a child there.  She found her love for the arts in high school and followed that love to college and received formal training in theatre at Julliard.  She has accumulated a vast body of work including shows on Broadway, most recently with Denzel Washington in Fences, a reoccurring TV role on Law & Order: SVU, a brief performances in Kate & Leopold, Antwone Fisher, and Doubt.  Her 11 minute scene in Doubt opposite Meryl Streep garnered her first Academy Award nomination.

After receiving the Screen Actor's Guild Award for her performance in "The Help" she was featured in a LA Times Magazine high fashion spread showcasing her radiant dark skin and newly cropped natural haircut.  In her interview with Oprah, she said that while she would probably go back to the wigs & weaves for her work she realized that she'd worn them for so long that they had become crutches to her and she no longer needed a crutch.  I think she looks absolutely amazing!

Today I had an opportunity to watch "The Help".  Though this movie had received rave reviews in mainstream America, I am very sensitive to scenes that portray African American characters during slavery or the Jim Crow time period so I'd yet to see it.  After watching the powerful interview that Oprah conducted with Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis on her pre-Oscar special, I felt compelled to watch these ladies' work.  While the racism (both direct and indirect) that these women endured was palpable, so was the dignity and spirit of the maids & caretakers portrayed.  I felt their pain, but I also felt the pride with which the went about doing their duties.  From the reputation that Minnie had earned for her cooking abilities,("Minnie don't burn no chicken.") to Aibilene's concern for the childrens welfare that was entrusted into her ("She sleeps in her mess until I come in the morning to change her.  [Her mother] don't need no children. Write that down.")  In the face of fear and the threat of retaliation, they shared their stories so that others could have insight into the lives that they lived.  What courage that took!  I hope that Octavia & Viola feel someone that we "got it."  I did not see them as "mammy" in this movie but rather strong women who held their head high despite their treatment to provide for their families. 

I often think about what I would have been like if I had been born during the Civil Rights era.  I can speculate, but you never know unless you're actually put in those situations during those times.  What I do know is this, I will forever be grateful for the sacrifices that my ancestors made so that I could have a better life.  As Viola Davis shared in her interview with Oprah, "I am the dream of my great-grandparents and grandparents."  And with their dream on my shoulders and those who shall come after me, I challenge myself to always strive to work harder, do better, achieve more.  After all those before me have gone through, what a disgrace to their memory to do otherwise.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Laser Hair Removal for Dark Skin - Part II


In part I of this series, I discussed my reasons for pursuing laser hair removal and the types of lasers that are available for laser hair removal.  In this post, we'll discuss briefly the skin typing system called the Fitzgerald system, the challenges of treating dark pigmented skin, and choosing a practitioner.

The Fitzgerald Skin Typing System

The Fitzgerald system was created in 1975 by Thomas B Fitzpatrick, MD of Harvard Business School.  The skin type was based on a person's response to sun exposure in terms of burning and tanning.  This system is often used to determine the best type of laser to use for hair removal to minimize damage to the skin.  Please click this link to see an excellent  Fitzgerald chart.  I am a Type VI as are most darker complected African Americans.  The most common device recommended for Type VI skin is the Nd: Yag laser.

Challenges of Treating Dark Skin

Burning from using the incorrect laser for hair removal
Hair removal lasers are designed to be absorbed by the melanin pigment in the hair shaft.  Candidates such as African Americans, Africans, or people of Middle Eastern heritage have a lot of melanin in their skin.   Melanin is in the epidermis layer of the skin.  One of the functions of melanin is that it absorbs light.  The laser is trying to address the hair follicle which is below the the epidermis layer.  The laser doesn't know that the surface of the skin containing melanin pigment is not a target that we are trying to destroy.  So if a proper laser is not used two things can occur:  the melanin will steal the light away from what you're really trying to treat (i.e. the hair follicle) or it can actually damage the the epidermis.

There are several reasons why the Nd: Yag laser is the most recommended laser for Type VI skin.
  • It uses the longest wavelength of light.  Melanin is designed to absorb the shortest wavelength of light such as UV rays.  The ability of melanin to absorb light decreases as your wavelengths increase therefore reducing the risk to darker skin.
  • It still sees the melanin in the hair shaft.  Yet, least absorbed by the melanin pigment in the epidermis. (Win/Win)
  • The practitioner has the ability to manipulate the pulse duration.  This creates an opportunity for effective treatment of thicker hairs (with longer pulses) and thinner hairs (with shorter pulses).
Choosing a Treatment Center

These factors make it very important that when choosing a practitioner you are very selective and one with documented experience with darker pigmented skin.   Before choosing a location, get a consultation and ask questions!  During my search I had 3 consultations.  The other places that I eliminated were not chosen primarily because they either did not have the Nd:Yag laser or they could not show me proof of success with dark skin.  Be aware that other skin spas will try to convince you that other lasers are effective, however because of my concern of damage to my skin I still eliminated their spa from my options.  No promotion is worth my level of comfort.  It is ok to walk away!  After much research, I chose Bodylase Medical Skin Spa. I'll share with you what I looked for.

1. A licensed doctor on staff. 
2. Nurses or other licensed personnel providing treatment.
3. The proper laser being used for my skin type.
4. Documentation of success with dark skin.  Bodylase had pictures on their website AND in a different pictures in a book when I went in for my consultation (HUGE plus!)

There was one final determinant that tipped the scale in this location's favor.  Customer service.  No business receives 100% glowing recommendations (if they do, be concerned that they may not be real comments). During my search that was 1 other spa that I considered.  They also had what I was looking for.  When I looked at the reviews for Bodylase, I noticed that the owner had taken the time to respond to the few unhappy customers that had left reviews.  She addressed the concern in the review, invited them to call her directly and/or to come in a talk to her personally.  I felt that showed true concern for the voice of the customer.  (SN: It also quite frankly is the marking of a successful business.  It's easier to retain customers for repeat business than to obtain new customers.  But that's a whole other discussion!)

Next week, I will share with you pictures of my progress and Karen of Bodylase has agreed to allow pictures to be taken of my treatment and equipment used so you will see what happens during a laser treatment!

Any questions about my experience that you would like me to address?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My First Bantu Knot Out

So I've been doing twist outs on my hair for a while now because I love the progression of how voluminous they get over the week.  Love, love them.  Well I received some new product that I wanted to try out and decided to try this style.   I loved my initial results but because the day that I did the bantu knot out happened to be a rainy day, the style did not hold but for 2 days before it got frizzy.   On day 3 I pulled it into a curly fro hawk and day 4 & 5 I wore it in a bun.

The bantu knots

After unraveling the knots - no separating

Separated and fluffed a little

Final look - back

Final look - right side

Final look - left side

My inspiration -  I used the following products:  Koils by Nature Nourishing Hair & Body Butter (instead of the Entwine Butter Creme Hydrator),  Entwine Creme Jelle Styler, topped with Koils by Nature Herbal Gel.


I got pretty close don't you think?  

So what do you guys think?  Should I try this style again?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Don't Be Afraid to Style your Naturally Curly Hair

Hi Fellow Naturalistas,

Now that I'm a little over a year natural,  I realized that I've been way more creative with my hair as a natural than I ever would when I was relaxed.  When I was relaxed, I wore my hair in a bob. Period.  I mainly did this because it really never grew past mid-neck.  My maintenance routine was to keep a reoccurring 2 week appt at the salon, get a relaxer every 6 weeks, and in between my appts, wrap my hair every night.  Repeat.  This led me to years of never really successfully knowing how to do my own hair.

When I went natural, one of the things that was a goal of mine from the beginning was to learn how to "do" my own hair.  That included cleansing, conditioning, and styling.  Since I'd never done this before, it was a daunting goal, but one that was necessary.  Now I'm the first to admit that I'm not a creative genius when it comes to styling hair.  But with all of the natural hair videos & blogs that are available online I don't have to be!  I'll also admit that styling my hair is an investment of time but it's an investment that for "me" returns great dividends. 

I'm happy to report that, I primarily style my own hair (though I do treat myself to a natural hair stylist about once a quarter.  Shout out to Taji!).  I "know" my hair and most importantly I am comfortable with styling my hair.  Can I do all kinds of super complicated styles?  Nope.  But I have found a few go to styles that work for me & look forward to trying many others.  Many naturals often ask me, how did you do that style?  I could never do that!  My response is always, try it!  I direct them to the Youtube links where I've gotten my style inspiration.  Some try them and some don't.  Here are the words of encouragement I share with them and I now share with you:

1.  It's important to "know" your own hair.  Your hair is an extension of your body.  Just as you should know about your other body parts you should know what works for your hair.  Is your hair protein sensitive?  Does it like butters or creams?  Does it respond well to gels?  Is it thick, normal or fine density?

2.  Learning to style your own hair shows you what looks "work" for you.  Though I believe that anyone who desires to wear their hair natural curly/kinky/wavy can, I will say not every style works for everyone. There are styles that will compliment each natural's facial structure better than others.  Some of this is due to not using the correct products on your hair & some of this is due to the style just not working for you.  You'll never know what your options are if you don't experiment with a few styles.

3.What if my hair is not long enough to do the styles that I like? or My rendition of the style doesn't look like what I saw online or in the blog.  Don't distress.  Most styles can be tweaked to the current length of your hair.  Depending on your curl pattern, your style might not look exactly like someone elses. That's ok.  Every head of hair is unique.  This is also part of learning your own hair.  You'll see what your  curls will look like when styled a certain way.

4. I tried a style I found online and followed all the steps perfectly and my hairstyle was a FAIL.  Everyone, and I mean everyone who does their own hair WILL HAVE a hairstyle fail from time to time.    It's ok.  Doing your own hair is trial and error.  Sometimes your styles will not be successful but it's great that there are a number of quick fixes to still have your hair looking fabulous in a few minutes!  If your hairstyle attempt goes awry you can always mist your hair with some water and pull it back with a nice headband, create a bun if it's longer, and there is always the option of a puff!  During your next wash session, go to a trusted style that you've mastered for encouragement, and then when you get up the nerve, try the failed style again with some tweaks!
Failed Roll/Tuck/Pin
Converted to fab side puff with flat twist in front.

Have you ventured out of the box when styling your hair?  If not, what is holding you back?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - Greatest Love of All

In the wake of Whitney Houston's passing yesterday afternoon, the words of this song were so fitting for today's Sunday inspiration. 

" Because the greatest love of all
is happening to me,
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me,
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve,
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all"

Learning to love yourself is one of the greatest journey's you'll ever be on.  For most of us it doesn't come easy, especially (in my humble opinion) when you're a woman.  There are so many things we are supposed to be: you're supposed to be a perfect size, you're supposed to dress stylish -always, you're supposed to get married & have a family by a certain age, you're supposed to be educated, classy, a woman who is dainty, but cooks up a mean meal and has a spotless house & can have a great career all at the same time. And that's just for us regular women.  I couldn't begin to imagine the pressures that must exist for those who are in the public limelite.

All of these expectations and pressures can lead to a person standing in the mirror looking at their reflection picking apart all of the areas of their person where they feel are imperfect.  It's one of the reasons why many of us have self esteem issues and feelings of inadequacy even into adulthood.

It is so important that during a young girl's youth that we constantly reinforce how beautiful they are, that she IS ENOUGH,that God has placed everything within her that she needs to fulfill the purpose that He has destined for her.  For those of us who are adults, I say to YOU....YOU ARE ENOUGH, God has placed everything within YOU that you need to fulfill the purpose for which He has purposed for YOU.  You are beautiful just the way you are.  You are a wonderful person.  No matter what the things are that you may not like about your life, it doesn't mean that you are not an inadequate person.  You have the power to change those things that you would like to adjust in your life, but not because someone else feels it needs to be done, because YOU desire to grow and be the best you that you can be.

Be encouraged lady!  Love yourself!  Do something that is for YOU today.

Though this post is not entirely about Whitney Houston, I cannot close it out without mentioning her.  Her music was part of the soundtrack of my teenage and young adult years.  I love her music.  Her rendition of The Star Spangled Banner has hands down been the best to date.  I still get chills listening to it. She had a genuinely magical voice that cannot be replicated or duplicated.  She has received hundreds of awards over her musical career.  Over the coming days and weeks, many will comment on her very public struggle with drug addiction.  Rather than dwell on that, I will just say that if you have a loved one who struggles with a drug or alcohol addiction press upon them the urgency of getting help as soon as possible.  Have the hard conversations.  We will miss you Whitney.  Rest in peace.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - Smile, You'll Feel Better

Have you ever been told by your mom to "Fix your face!"  when you were crying or scowling after being reprimanded or told no?  Well, Mama mighta been on to something! There is scientific evidence that suggests that smiling helps to produce corresponding the corresponding emotion of happiness.  Similarly, frowning also creates the corresponding emotion of displeasure or sadness.  Thought it was the other way around?  Not necessarily so. Check out this article from the Scientific American for more information.

So many times we knowingly or unknowing react to situations that we deem not ideal by frowning.  This continues that emotion or feeling.  Ever had a day where you just couldn't seem to shake that sad feeling off? Well, one of the things I do when I'm having a sad day is to turn on some upbeat music, or a comedy or go hang around people who will make me laugh.  These always improve my mood.

Am I recommending that when you're upset or sad that you walk around with a silly grin on your face?  No....well, maybe I am.  What I am saying is find something that will make you smile and do that thing instead of dwelling in your state of melancholy.  Having some trouble finding something?  I got your back.  Check out this video of Kirk Franklin's music video, "Smile".   It's a parody of Eddie Murphy's classic movie "Coming to America".  (One of my favorite movies for making me laugh & I can pretty much quote every scene!)

Have an awesome Sunday everyone!  Keep Smiling!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Hair Journey of a Different Sort: Laser Hair Removal - Types of Lasers

As women, part of our weekly hygene or beauty routine usually involves some level of hair removal.  We tweeze, shave, wax, thread, cream, our legs, underarms, eyebrows, bikini line and "other" regions all the time.  One area that some women find problematic is facial hair.  Most women develop some amount of facial hair in their lifetime whether it's a stray chin hair here or there or excessive unwanted facial hair.

The shadow on my chin is facial hair.

For years I was embarrassed by my facial hair.  Most who know me now don't realize that I had a problem in that area because over the years I'd found ways to address it...most successfully until recently with Gigi Hair Removal Cream.  It's a cream depilatory that is applied to the face for 5 - 8 minutes and then wiped away.  Prior to that, I'd tried waxing and tweezing.  Both were painful and uneffective. Waxing was troublesome because my facial hair was coarse, requiring a more substancial wax. Yet, my skin is sensitive which was seen with the fine bumps left for 2-3 days after treatment. Tweezing was the worst remedy because it required pulling each hair one by one. PAINFUL. If you didn't grasp the hair properly it would leave stubble instead of removing the hair bulb.  None of these techniques were permanent.  The Gigi Hair Removal Cream was low cost and easy.  But I had to be careful, if left on too long it would burn my skin leaving scabs.  If I didn't leave it on long enough, not all of the hair would be removed.  Frustrating.  Then there was the actual facial hair.  I found it unattractive and embarrassing.  It always caused me pause when dating because I didn't want the guy to notice. Those who were close to me, family members and a few friends, really felt for me.  It's been an ongoing struggle.

Finally, I've had enough.  After 20 years of dealing with unwanted facial hair, I decided to take care of it - LONG TERM.  I started researching laser hair removal. One might ask what happens with laser hair removal.  It involves the use of concentrated light beams to target the melanin pigment in the skin to eventually damage & destroy the follicle without harming the surrounding tissues.  The follicle is damage & hair usually does not grow again.  We'll talk more about hair growth cycles in another post of this series.

These is SO  much information about laser hair removal that what I've learned and my current experience with laser hair removal will be broken up into a series until I have reached nearly permanent or permanent removal. This post will focus on the types of lasers available for hair removal.  Knowing the types of lasers that are available for hair removal is very important because you need to know which laser is recommended for your skin type. 

Types of  Lasers

There are 5 types of lasers:

 Ultimate light or pulse light (IPL) - Machine names:  EpiLight, PhotoDerm, Quantum, Acculight, & Vasculight.
 Strictly speaking, IPL does not use laser, but uses intense pulsed light. It uses the same concept for hair removal, but is usually more difficult to handle and require skilled technicians for operation. IPL is relatively cheaper than laser hair removal, but oftentimes require more treatment cycles.

Diode laser - Machine names:  SLP1000, F1Diode, LightSheer, MeDioStar, LaserLite, Epistar, & Apex 800.
The diode laser is effective for darker skin. It can cover larger skin areas at faster speeds.

Nd:Yag - Coolglide, Medlite IV, Varia, Athos, Lyra, Image
This is a general type of laser method that can be used in almost all skin types, including tanned skin. Just like the diode laser, this long pulse laser also has fast repetition rates to allow larger areas of the skin to be treated quickly.

Ruby - RubyStar, Palomar E2000
This is the oldest type of laser and also one of the most widely-used. Ruby laser is quite selective as it only performs best on light skinned individuals with dark hair. They oftentimes can cover only small areas, and prefers fine hair.

Alexandrite - GentleLASE, Apogee, EpiTouch Plus
This is one of the fastest laser types that are best used for larger treatment areas. They are widely-used and produce best results for patients with light to olive complexion and dark hair

In the next post of this series, we'll talk about skin types and how that relates to the type laser recommended for your skin and finding a treatment center.

Have you ever experienced unwanted hair?  What has been your preferred method of removal?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Walking the Walk - Mrs. Obama Does Push Ups on Ellen

I thought I would add this post as a bonus for today as we talk about good health.  I love the fact that our First Lady of the United States not only talks the talk about health & nutrition, but also walks the walk as we see demonstrated in this video clip of her visit on the Ellen Show.  As a side note, I have worked my way up to 10 "man" push-ups, you know the ones on your toes.  I can do about 20 the "girly-way", so Mrs. Obama gets much respect from me!

Come on ladies, get some!  Let's get active!

  How about a gun show by July 1, 2012?  Anybody game?

Culinary Delights: Healthy Fruit Topped Salad

We all made that New Year's resolution to eat better right?  Well to help us all stay on track, I will periodically provide a healthy choice option to eat for inspiration.  I personally feel like I can create a better tasting salad than any restaurant.   I'm generous with my toppings and when you finish eating one of my creations, you're assured that you just had a meal and are not hungry afterwards.

This was a salad I made recently for dinner.


Organic Mixed Greens
Fresh strawberries
Yellow Raisins
Fresh Broccoli Florets
Craisins Dehydrated Cranberries
2 Hard boiled eggs (sliced)
2 tbls of Walnut Rasberry Vinegrette (measured) - remember it's dressing not gravy!

Strawberries - rich in antioxidents, improved blood sugar regulation, anti-inflammatory
Raisins - rich in antioxidents, has boron which is good for bone health
Broccoli - Rich in vitamins A &K,detoxifying
Cranberries - rich in antioxidents, high in vitamin C

This salad is very flavorful and delicious.  With the naturally sweet fruit toppings, it eliminates the need for me to want dessert afterwards.  Yummy!

Let's help each other.  What is your favorite healthy snack or meal?  Leave a comment below. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...