Your Whole Self

This picture is a couple of weeks old. I’m just using it because it fits nicely with today’s topic. My real attire is dirt smeared sweat pants, yesterdays shirt, and pink garden gloves. No sense in being cute when there are weeds to pluck. But you didn’t stop by this blog to hear me talking about my clothes or gardening for that matter.

It was while walking my dog and tending to the garden when I started thinking about the many layers of myself and how I notice that people pick the parts of me they like. Some people love the silly me. They like when I post funny memes and do silly things. Some people like intellectual me. They love when I talk about history and little-known facts. Some people love the lover in me. They like to see me and my husband together, loving on one another and having a good time. Some people like the spiritual me. They like to hear me quote scriptures and talk about the bible. They like prophetic me. Some people like fiction me. They enjoy my novels and short stories. Others like the poet me.

I’ve learned from life that you’ll meet so many different people over the course of a lifetime and they will pick the parts of you they like best. But you know, as I know, every part of you helps to build you into the person you are. What I realized today was the importance of accepting your whole self. People may pick the parts of me they like but it is my responsibility (not theirs) to pick my whole self. I am all of the things people love (and don’t love) rolled up into one. I am not a scattered puzzle. I am a body and each of my body parts helps me to be the full and whole person that I am. When we start to favor one part of ourselves over another because we see it is what people like most, we lose the other parts of ourselves. And since we need every body part to make up a full body, in a sense, we lose ourselves.

Remember that there are layers of you and though people will choose the layer they like best, it is your job to choose your whole self.

Sips of Nourishment

Take the time every now and again to step back and to refresh parts of your soul that no one sees. Stay in your studies and send up prayers and meditation to quench the thirst of questions that no man can answer. Everyone laughs at faith until desperation strolls into our lives wearing a smirk and holding a sickle in his right hand. He is here to reap and leave the malnourished one empty. Everyone believes in something when the catastrophe ensues and no one is laughing any longer. Don’t be like those laughing at creation and yet calling on a god when things go wrong. Keep yourself full of hope and expectation no person can touch. Exercise both your body and your mind and it’ll work wonders for you in the end. Read books and study to nourish that beautiful mind of yours so no one makes a prey of you through philosophy and deceit. Sing, dance, praise and laugh like the crazy person you are. How dare you cloak yourself in positive vibes and radiate a smile brighter than the sun? Only if you keep yourself filled with light can you shine. Take these sips of nourishment to sustain you so that in the daily grind that is your life, while you’re busy surviving, you do not forget to live.

Why Natural Hair is Dehydrated

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Today’s post is going to be shorter than the post two weeks ago concerning why perms are afraid of water because a) I’m not a beautician and b) it’s really that simple.

Natural hair is actually not as dry as it sometimes looks, but the reason it is typically drier than other styles is all in the hair strand.

There are, for the most part, three kinds of hair strands. There may in fact be more, but let us stick to the basics:

 
Straight – Rounded Shaft
Wavy – Oval shaft, grows in a slanted direction
Curly, Nappy – Flat or oval shaft that grows more on one side than the other creating a curve. It slants backwards folding over in a tight or loose spiral (don’t be afraid to refer to your hair as Nappy, it just means curly and is not a bad word).

 

hair strandThe human body is quite a creation. Everything about it was created to heal and renew. From the digestive system, that is purposed to clean and purify the body of its toxins and waste etc., to sleep, that is purposed to rejuvenate the body, we’re indeed magnificently made. The body actually already has everything it needs within itself to sustain itself, including hair. hair-straight-silky-and-shiny

Sebum is the naturally oily substance found in hair. It is secreted by the sebaceous glands that lubricates the hair and skin and gives some protection against bacteria. The reason straight hair appears more shiny is because it’s easier for the sebum to travel down the hair shaft. On the other hand, hair in its natural state is curlier, with bends and curves and slants that make it more difficult for the sebum to make it all the way down the hair shaft. Especially in the case of  loc’s when the hair is in a knotted like state. As a result, I tend to apply oil to the ends of my locs more so than the root, which is naturally oilier because of the sebum. Use of shampoos and conditioners that dry out the hair can also contribute to dry hair:

Natural Hair is dehydrated because the Sebum has a hard time getting past all that curl, sometimes never actually making it all the way down the hair shaft. Making natural hair often appear drier than it really is.

e56b532828496455a3982a7628774c10For dry hair, apply a mixture of Shea butter, Olive oil, Coconut Oil, or any oil of your choice, to the hair and scalp. Africa’s Best Herbal Oil is actually very good and inexpensive. You can use it by itself or add it to Shea butter. If your hair accumulates a lot of dandruff or dry flakes, add Tea Tree Oil to your Herbal Oil for a natural medicated remedy.

Fun Tip: I have had the fortunate experiences of not getting lots of lint in my locs. This is because I keep my hair oiled. There are lots of remedies to defeat the lint, but the easiest thing to do if your just starting your locs, or natural style in general, is to keep it moisturized and oiled.

25 Minutes a Day

I’m excited to report that I have begun work on achieving one of my long overdue goals: Exercising. I’m just so excited because I’ve wanted to get back into the swing of things since Billy Blanks and I fell out. This time however, I decided to take it up a level and try my hand at Sean T25. I’m on Week #2, Day 4 and so far so good. But instead of 6 days a week I have limited myself to no more than four. Here’s why I think you should too:

For those of you who really wanna get back into an exercise routine, be realistic about your goals. Implement something you know you can dedicate yourself to and most importantly, incorporate into your everyday life. My mind says to go the full six days, but I know the chance of keeping up with that kind of schedule is slim to none. This time around, I don’t want to just stop after a few weeks, but I would like to make this a daily part of my life. To do this, I have to set goals that are realistic and reachable. Just like in life, an exercise routine can have short term goals and long term goals. For instance: My short term goal is to work out at least 3-4 times a week. My long term goal is to strengthen my heart, endurance, tone up my stomach and maintain a certain body weight; though I’m not so much bent on that part so much as strengthening my breathing. A lot of people think exercise is just for those who are overweight but the truth is that thin people are likely a lot more unhealthy than their big boned brothers and sisters because they think they don’t have to do anything. But it’s not about being skinny vs. being fat, it’s about building strength so that you’re not out of breath after walking a block or up a flight of stairs; this is not characteristic of a healthy heart.

So, here’s my idea for those who would like to get back in the gym, and get back in shape:

25 Minutes a Day

Set aside 25 minutes a day dedicated to exercise. It doesn’t have to be to a workout video or gym even, but you can walk, you can run, or you can move your leg back and forth. Whatever you do, try to give yourself at least 25 minutes a day for a certain number of days. Last week I did 25 minutes for three days, this week I am trying for four. Each week, try to challenge yourself to do a little bit more.

Keep a Success Journal

You’ve seen my re-blog of an idea Timothy Pike had on keeping a success journal. This doesn’t have to be restricted to life, but get one for your workout plan. Every day, record what you did and what you ate. This will push you to achieve those short term goals because you’ll be so excited to write something down. Remember: short term goals are the baby steps to long term goals. So whether you want to lose weight or just tone up, you have to start by taking steps to achieve those short term workout goals.

Substitute

Another idea for those looking to implement more exercise into the day is to substitute some things you normally do so that they become little exercises! For instance:

instead of sit down at the computer, stand.
• instead of drive to the store, walk (instead of push the stroller, carry the baby a few blocks!)
instead of use the washing machine, wash on your hands.

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Now, for that last bullet point, in addition to the washboard, here’s a fun way to get your arms going: Using a plunger and a bucket, fill it with water, detergent, and some light clothing, like socks, underwear or washcloths (it also helps to drill holes at the bottom of the plunger around the base and to use a bucket that has a top to it for suction. Also make sure the bucket is deep enough). And…plunge! Switch it around, move your arms up and down, swirl it, just plunge. Here, you become the washing machine. You’ll get some workout in and your clothes clean at the same time.

Your Own Pace

Whatever you do, stay focused on your own pace. The key here is not faster; it’s longer. If your using a workout video and you feel like you’re about to pass out it’s OK to slow down, just don’t stop. Keep going through to the end even if you have to walk in place. Just keep moving. That’s what I think we miss when it comes to working out. Everyone wants to focus so much on weight loss and fast results that we forget to pace ourselves. Of course, you’ll eventually have to challenge yourself to that next level as you gain momentum and get stronger. But also remember that the victory does not belong to the fastest or the skinniest, it belongs to those who endure to the end.

• Map out your daily routine for the week (Be realistic, what are you going to really  dedicate yourself to?)
• Do the routine for at least 25 minutes a day
• Chart your progress, feelings, changes, foods, etch in a success journal (or your blog!)
• Substitute daily task so that they work some kind of muscle
• Slow down, keep moving, just don’t stop

To help us to motivate each other, I will start doing more posts like this to update you all on my experiences and you can too. In this way, we can help each other with fun ideas. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Appreciating Body Parts

150510_0001I’m typing with nine fingers today. I do have ten fingers, but one of them happens to be out of commission today. Brilliant me slammed it in the car door last night. Now my wonderful husband can take care of his disabled wife. OK well, it’s really not that bad. It is in a bandage though so I really am typing with nine fingers. But this got me thinking: How often do we appreciate the value of the little things, such as a finger? Do you appreciate your body parts? You’d be surprised how important this small part is to the body. It’s a challenge not using this finger, but I know of a beautiful young woman who was not born with fingers. She has a rare disease that caused her to have webbed feet and no hands. This started me reminiscing on bits of my own history. What if I told you I don’t have a right leg? Well, technically it’s more like no femur bone. Your femur bone is the long bone in your thigh. It’s the only bone in the thigh in fact. It is both the longest and the strongest bone in the human body, extending from the hip to the knee. But I don’t have one. Instead, I have a steel plate. You see, it all started about eighteen years ago:

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The day was beautiful. The sun danced in the streets and illuminated the green grass. There was an abundance of little ones running around, riding bikes, roller blading, and playing tag. One of the many things I always loved about the neighborhood was the pouring of children who came out to play in the summer time. (I don’t know what’s up with this new generation where everybody stay in the house and play video games. Staying in the house was punishment for us. We loved to play outside).  It was 1997, and school was just letting out. 8023 South Paulina is an address I would never forget. It’s the first apartment complex we lived in after moving out of the projects and today, Auntie Roslyn had rewarded us for passing on to the 5th grade. That’s back when a $1 was golden. We spent most of the time hustling for quarters to buy candy, but dollars? We were rich now.

My twin sister and I decided this was the perfect day to visit a friend. And this meant bringing every toy in the house with us. We were excited and that meant that we would invite everyone to the festivities: Barbie, Ken, their car and the whole gang. This wasn’t unusual for the twins; these are the same little people who baked cakes in their easy bake oven and sold them to the kids in the neighborhood at a quarter each.

“Time to come in the house!” Boomed my mother’s voice. She actually called our names though. This was when parents still stood in the middle of the street and called your whole government to attention because the street lights were on and you were not at home. The day had gone smoothly. Our friend didn’t give us a reason to argue our ten year old genius about why she shouldn’t do this and that and for the most part we all played nicely. But as the sun began to set and the street lights crawled to attention, it was time for us to leave our dear friend down the street to come on back in the house.

This is when the story gets interesting. Cradling toys in our arms, my ears caught wind of the music before the ice cream truck floated down the street and a smile crept on my face. You see, I’d been scheming on how to spend this dollar since earlier that day. It was a precious gift and I wanted to make sure that I used it on something really good. I suppose now is the best time to remind you that my most favorite desert is ice cream. So, when the jolly jingle of something that sounded like, “pop goes the weasel”, sang down the street with its bright lights and large display of choices, I knew then and there what I wanted.

“Hold my stuff,” I instructed my twin sister. I was after all the oldest and back then five minutes was like five years, and let’s just say I wielded my authority proudly.

“But mama said to come in the house,” she whined.

Why must she do this now? I hated when twin started whining and complaining. It always brought attention to the seriousness of the situation. Why can’t she just get with the flow? The annoyance of her pleas etched into my face. I smacked my lips as I ignored her common sense.

“Just hold my stuff,” I said.

Before she could protest any more I decided to take a quick dash across the street. The ice cream truck was on the other side serving the people on the other side of the street. This should have been my warning that tonight was not the night for ice cream. However, I was stubborn so this logic didn’t occur to me. I wanted ice cream and I wanted it now.

I looked both ways before speeding across the street. I saw a white car and it all went black.

When I came to, I was rolling off the hood of this stranger’s car and onto the concrete. Twin and I were premature babies, only 3 and 4 lbs. each. And so we had always been small coming up. We were ten but we looked more like we were five. It is only now that I understand weight gain, but all throughout elementary and High School I never had to be concerned about my weight. When I graduated from High School I was 100 lbs. and could fit into size 1-2 jeans.

Needless to say that car tossed my small body around like a rag doll. When it was finished I lay on the cold concrete praying no one moved me. I had no knowledge of the medical field or any of that stuff at ten, and yet I knew enough to know I didn’t want anyone to touch me. Somehow, I knew that if I was touched it would not be good. But despite my pleas to be left alone, my mouth didn’t move and my voice shut down. No one heard my cries because it was all in my head. I was in shock and though I wanted to scream my mouth didn’t move. As a result, someone scooped me into their arms and not only could I not speak; now I could not breathe.

The person laid me in the grass and my breath returned to me. There was no pain as I lay there surrounded by the neighborhood. Everyone had come out to see the kid who got hit by a car. Either by walking by or peeking heads out of windows. I scanned the crowd until I realized my hand was being squeezed. To my left was the woman who hit me and her tears soaked her face. She pleaded and pleaded her apologies over and over again.

“Get over yourself,” I thought.

I wasn’t being mean; it’s just that I forgave her already. I still had not felt any pain and only prayed now that I would live. I forgave her over and over again while simultaneously praying I wasn’t going to die. But I was talking in my head again. The lady had not heard me and my mouth still had not moved. It wasn’t until I looked down at my right thigh that the pain came and my mouth opened. The thigh (it couldn’t have been mine) was twice the size of my real one and the pain was excruciating. To make a long story short my leg (or more precisely my femur bone) was broken. I had to get a steel plate put in and twenty-four surgical staples. I came home from the hospital with a walker which I thought really sucked. Here I am with a broken leg and all I was concerned with was why they couldn’t have given me crutches. Truth is I was fitted for them, but they couldn’t find two of the same height for tiny ole me.

“Aww man”, I thought, “I love those.” Yea, I was the kid who played on other people’s crutches. But the one time I needed them I was given an ugly brown walker instead. It didn’t help that they tied balloons around the thing. Yea, it really looks good now.

I was spoiled rotten of course when I came home, though the wrapping and unwrapping of my bandage and going back and forth to the hospital was no fun. Today you would never know the difference, though I still do have the scar which starts a little above my knee and stretches to right below my hip. It’s basically the whole thigh. Trace your finger from above your knee till it stops at the end of the thigh, that’s the length of my scar. The only side effects are the weather. When the weather changes dramatically, like from warm to cold, I get aches similar to that of arthritis. And sometimes I know when it’s about to rain (my leg tells me).But other than that I’m fine. I learned a valuable lesson though:

Obey your mother and father AND appreciate your body parts! Someone somewhere does not have what you have. And just think, I broke my femur, the strongest bone in the body, how ironic.

Hair and the Nervous System

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I don’t know much about hair (actually, I know very little). But in 2009 I was allotted the opportunity to produce a documentary on behalf of my organization called I am NOT my Hair: Perms, Weaves, and Hot Combs. Since then, I’ve done more and more research on hair (especially after going natural the same year) and have been able to speak with sisters from all over the U.S. about their hair journey and to offer the DVD as an opportunity to cause a change in their hair health. As a result, it has become one of the most famous pieces I’ve had the chance to be a part of.

I still do not consider myself an expert on hair and I warn that I can offer very little advice in hair maintenance, however the little I do know I am willing to share. Today’s article offers a few tips to help better understand this stuff on top our head called hair. As is my custom, I’ll split it into 3 separate posts:

 
– Hair and the Nervous System – 9/11/14
– Why Perms are Afraid of Water – 9/12/14
– Why Natural hair is dehydrated – 9/13/14

Hair and the Nervous System

Firstly, let us understand the basics: Hair and the Nervous System

Receptors in human skin
I happen to live in the country, and there are a lot of bugs around our home. So sometimes I can pick up the sounds of them before they get too close because it almost sounds like there are wasps in my hair! I’m not joking, and it’s quite annoying actually, but it’s true. I’ve been natural and dred loc’d for 5 years and on the left side of my head, the hair on that side can pick up the sounds of those tiny irritating bugs. That’s because Hair is a genetic part of you; it is a hereditary extension of yourself, connected to your nervous system and actually acts as a kind of antennae.

“Hair is an extension of the nervous system, it can be correctly seen as exteriorized nerves, a type of highly-evolved ‘feelers’ or ‘antennae’ that transmit vast amounts of important information to the brainstem, the limbic system, and the neocortex. When hair is cut, receiving and sending transmissions to and from the environment are greatly hampered. This results in ‘numbing-out’.”
–  http://banoosh.com/blog/2013/07/12/hair-is-an-extension-of-the-nervous-system-why-indians-keep-their-hair-long/

Young woman with hand on head
While it’s fun to play around with our hair and to try out different styles, hair is not some miscellaneous body part of ours (which makes you think more about the role of the hair dresser). But hair and hair health are just as important as other bodily functions like skin, and nails. It’s not about the style of the hair making one more or less righteous (this is not a natural vs relaxed debate), but this is more so about hair health. How to treat our hair and what combination of hair products are more or less beneficial because balance is everything. Have you ever sat down to ponder why a piece of hair can identify who you are? Why witches use strips of hair to perform witchcraft? Or why the biblical Samson lost all of his power by letting Delilah cut off all his hair? That’s because your hair is part of you and always has been. The ancient and native peoples all knew about this link between long hair, health and spirituality. They never cut their hair voluntarily. Short hair was a universal sign of slavery, shame, or defeat; a loss of power and identity. Not that if you have short hair your a bad person or anything, but concerning how important hair has always been, people would only cut their hair in the event of captivity, for mourning purposes, or for hygiene. It is a way of blocking out the energies of the world. It is only in modern times that both men and women cut their hair short on a regular basis, changing the lengths according to trends.