Friday, December 26, 2008

Sisterlocks Gathering

Blessed Gem Lady and I were talking last week and we decided that it was way past time for another Sisterlocks gathering. The last one was in March! We are so overdue for one.

We decided to have it on Saturday, February 28th at 12:30 p.m. We know that's about 2 months away, but that gives us all a chance to put it on our calendars, book a babysitter and save our pennies (if necessary).

It will be held at the Crown Point Family Restaurant, 2815 Sardis Rd North, Charlotte, NC 28227.

The invitation is open to all who have attended in the past and anyone within driving distance who reads this post and would like to attend. If you have locks (of any kind), want locks, are considering locks or going natural, you are welcome to join us. The only thing we ask is that you RSVP to me through my blog or by e-mailing me at the address to the right. We need to have an accurate count to make our reservations at the restaurant.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It seems we've done it again...

We all know that sometimes another blogger will write a post that expresses the very same thing we were thinking about in almost the very same way.

Sunsail has just done a post about whether or not she needs grooming.

Ha-ha! She posted very good pictures and her locks look exactly like mine do right now at 20 months. So now I don't have to.

Or, rather, don't have to feel guilty about not posting them because we all know I'm slack about the pictures. I wasn't about to illustrate my point, just describe it.

I have the same fuzzy-wuzzies.

I look at my hair overall and the fuzzies don't bother me at all. I think it looks fine and neat enough.

It's a little unruly, but I freestyle 95% of the time and I didn't start locks to be buttoned-down and conventional. I'm not expecting perfection and total conformity from my locks.

I knew I wouldn't have the smooth, silky, rope-y (is that a word?) locks I see on other people. But ... having said all that, when I look at them individually or run my hand down the length of them, I feel like something needs to be done.

I feel like I am due for a grooming.

I've had the odd bunchy mini-fro that will sprout from a lock.

Until recently they have been few and far between and always near the ends. I've been trimming those with scissors at will, but in the last month it's like they have suddenly gotten totally out of control.

I have more than I can keep up with and they are appearing anywhere along the length of my locks - near the scalp and in the middle.

As all my readers know, my consultant moved away six moths ago. It has been ok because I started self-tightening a year ago.

But now I am missing her.

I was just thinking earlier to-day that I must be due for a grooming and who can I go to?

There are two reasons I don't want to do it myself.

1) The very first time I tried self-grooming I lopped off about 4 inches of the end of one of my favorite locks - not even the one I was trying to groom. So every time I take scissors to my hair I have a tiny scary flashback, but I take a deep breath and go at it anyway.

So far I have not done that again.

2) There are just so many that need it. I will undoubtedly miss some and I want to be done with it all at once.

I enjoy retightening my hair at random and over a period of days, but I do not feel the same way about grooming. I am going to need to find a consultant!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bras for Bros

Occasionally I see stories on the Internet that I just have to share.

This definitely falls into the "what the....?" category.

I was trying to find another story entirely on the MSNBC site when this title caught my eye, "Bras for Bros a Hit in Japan." Having once dated a man with man boobies (very briefly and don't ask!) I was immediately intrigued.

No mention was made of the bra being worn for actual support of male breastuses, but more for the psychological need to satisfy their 'inner woman.'

The bra is available in black, pink, and white and designed to be "worn discreetly under men's clothing." Consumers are quoted as saying, "Wow, we'd been waiting for this for such a long time."

Really? Who knew?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Another Flashback

Check out this collage I did at two months. I can't believe how light and fluffy my locks were.

I am so glad they have much more weight and density now. That's what I've gained instead of length. That's what's happened to all of the hair I feel like I'm 'missing'.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Lazy Woman's Comparison Post

So the 18 month marker got me thinking that I should do a comparison post to track the changes, but my other photos are on my other computer that's slow and i haven't transferred the files and it just seems like too much of a chore right now.

However...just about a year ago I did comparison shots of the first 5 months.

Here is a link to that post.

You can observe the first part of my progression.

Do you see what I mean now?

Look at how full and long they were at 4 and 5 months before they started to shrink!

Seems like the growth just stalled for the next 8 months and just started up again about three months ago.

I know it was growing because I was tightening it up on the regular, but here I am a year later and it looks not very much longer than it did a year ago - especially compared to the fast growth you can see that I experienced in my first 4 months.

Intellectually I know that it is continuing to grow at a steady rate, but the growth is showing up differently according to the different phases of lock maturation.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Eighteen Months - Still in Love

Today marks my 18-month lockiversary.

Wow! I can't believe it. Another milestone.

I remember so vividly the day I started. I remember staring in the mirror at three months and six and twelve - wondering what I would look like on this day.

Not like I imagined. I am not disappointed, but it amazes me that I can be so surprised even though I didn't really know what to expect.

My locks are not the size, shape or length I thought they would be.


I just got back from a mini-vacation in Charleston, SC. Some friends of mine chartered a boat for a dinner cruise in the harbor. It was a pleasant diversion - an opportunity to mix and mingle with old friends and new.
Otherwise I would definitely have been at the Atlanta Sisterlocks Meetup.

I was sort of bummed that I couldn't do both, but I signed on to do the dinner cruise three months ago.

Anyhow...I ran into my original Sisterlocks Inspiration on the cruise!

It was funny to see her because we met 4 years ago (November 2004) on a Carnival Cruise through mutual friends. She lived in another city so we didn't see each other again even though we planned to and then she moved out of state and changed her phone number so we lost touch.

I've wanted to tell her all this time that I started my Sisterlocks because of that chance meeting we had years ago. When I say out of state, I mean waa-ay out of state. She is practically on the other coast. Since she was a friend of a friend and not a close personal friend, neither of us really put forth any special effort to communicate, but it was great to see her over the weekend and catch up!

It was wonderful to speak with her again and trade notes on locking and maintenance. Hers were cute baby-locks 4 years ago and now they are down her back. I would have posted a picture of us both, but she is a very private person, so I have to respect her wishes about that.

(Who do I think I'm fooling? Y'all know I'm incredibly slack about posting pictures of my own self alone!)

I remembered thinking that her hair texture seemed to be a lot like mine and hoping that my locks would look like hers as they matured (and they do). After 5 + years of locking she still has curly-q ends, which I actually find encouraging.

Y'all hear me say it all the time. I like my curly ends and I don't want them to go away. She gives me hope that maybe they won't.

Our hair looks very much the same with the exception of length. And her locks are smaller than my own - by half. She has over 700 locks. I have only about 320.

Still not regretting my decision because she doesn't have the patience to tighten her own even though she learned how. (The same way I know that I would not if I had that many - and it takes about 5 hours now when she goes to a consultant.)

No thanks!

An interesting side point though: I have started at least two dozen new locks since my original installation and y'all know that I split several of my locks 3 - 5 months back.

All of the new locks are micro-mini-small. And I love them!

When I first started my lock journey I was all about the larger locks. I had no love for the tiny ones and was very vocal about wanting to have locks that were closer in size to smaller traditionals.

However, with the passage of time I've had a change of heart.

I'm still glad not to have a head full of tiny locks and the size I chose at installation kept me from having the plucked chicken look and the head full of kinky thin wispies I dreaded, but I am giving serious thought to splitting a few more.

Most of my locks didn't really swell and are just a little but larger in diameter than they were at the beginning. There's just the odd lock here and there that's fatter than I would like. Out of the 320 or so I would guess that 15 - 20 are larger than I want them to be.

I want to take them down but I am hesitant for three reasons.

1) I have started many new locks, but I started them all from new growth. I am not sure I really know how to neatly re-install a lock with 12+ inches of hair. And you all may recall that my consultant moved away 4 months ago. Since I have been self-tightening I haven't bothered to try to find a new one.

I don't especially feel like hunting one down and making a trip out of town. If Phyllis was still here I could do them two or three at a time and just drop in at her house whenever I felt like it, but if I go find another consultant and I have to travel, I feel like I should take them all down at once and get them all re-installed at once.

Truthfully that's more of a time and money commitment than I'm ready for right now.

2) Overall I don't really care about my parts (or I thought I didn't), but I do have a pretty decent grid pattern. And I've realized that choosing locks to split at random is going to wreak havoc with it.

3) And third - I'm fully locked. Those fat locks are the kind of solid silky ropes we all dreamed of in the beginning. As little as 6 months ago they were still shrinking and bunching and now they're perfect. I hate to bust them up and start all over again. So I'm trying to weigh the pros and cons.

There really are no pros to splitting them because there are no cons to leaving them. There's nothing wrong with them as they are. I think part of the reason I want to split them is just to satisfy my desire for change. I like the energy and movement and feel that new locks have and I miss it. They're soft and springy and they change so much from week to week.

I really enjoyed going through the process all over again when I split the locks at my temples earlier this year, but now they are firming up and coming into their own and that fun phase is over.

It was kind of the best of both worlds because I had the newness but when they were kinky and misbehaving (as teenagers will do) it wasn't horrible because most of the locks were more mature and well behaved so I could just pin them down and blend them in.

Well, that's the latest. As you know, comments are always welcome!

So...I don't know what I'm going to do - nothing yet.

Stay tuned....

Monday, September 8, 2008

Catch it if You Can

There's a great documentary currently running on HBO.

The Black List: Volume One.

It's about 90 minutes long and features interviews with a diverse group of noteable black folks - from entertainers to athletes to writers to politicians.

Here is the list:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball legend
Sean Combs, musician
Mahlon Duckett, Negro Leagues baseball star
Thelma Golden, museum curator
Lou Gossett, Jr., actor
Bill T. Jones, choreographer
Vernon Jordan, attorney
Marc Morial, former New Orleans mayor
Toni Morrison, author
Suzan-Lori Parks, playwright
Richard Parsons, executive
Colin Powell, former Secretary of State
Susan Rice, political strategist
Chris Rock, comedian
Al Sharpton, activist
Lorna Simpson, artist
Slash, musician
Dawn Staley, basketball star
Faye Wattleton, former Planned Parenthood president
Keenen Ivory Wayans, actor
Serena Williams, tennis star
Zane, author

I watched it several days ago and have been meaning to recommend it ever since.

It is very well done. The fact that it is titled Volume One hints that there will be more to come. I certainly hope so. There are so many stories to be told.

There is even a website where you can go and post your own story or that of someone you know.

I am a film history buff ( I love old movies and Old Hollywood in spite of the way we have been treated and portrayed - so it is living as an African in Ameirica, all relationships are love/hate aren't they?) and I am particularly fascinated with the 40s and 50s. So I know quite a bit about the original Black List.

The documentary opens with a reference to it and how we can reclaim a phrase that once had a negative connotation and embrace it for good.

I have not felt that this could be done with the 'n' word in reference to blacks or the 'b' word in reference to women. I never use either in my personal speech, but I do like the idea of creating a positively charged black list.

However you feel about the phrase, please try to view the documentary. It is sure to uplift you and make you think.

The Black List Project

There's more at The Black List Project.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Comments Always Welcome

Please scroll down for newer entries.

I love reading comments! I have to say it is my favorite part of having my own blog.

I have christened myself The Long-Winded Commenter because, well, because I always have an opinion, and I'm not sure I could be concise if my life depended on it! So! I said all that to say: feel free to comment anytime - as often as you like and as much as you like. Even if you disagree. I really enjoy getting the opportunity to consider different points of view.

And: it's never too late. I get notices of new comments left in my daily e-mail inbox, so even if you comment on older posts, I'll get it. I don't expect that everyone who stops by will read my blog from beginning to end, but if you should happen to read an older post and you are moved to leave a comment, do not be deterred by the fact that weeks or months have passed. I will still be delighted to hear from you and will post a reply at my first opportunity.

If I don't answer immediately, it is usually because I am considering turning my reply into a post. You see, the long-windedness leads to procrastination.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Seventeen Months - Still in Love

Seventeen months is kind of a weird marker. Not like 12 or 15 or 18.

My locks are growing and y'all are just gonna have to take my word for it since I haven't taken pictures in about 6 months.

I haven't really been paying much attention to the length or rate of growth. It doesn't make a difference. My hair won't grow or change any faster due to my worrying about it.

I did notice a few weeks ago that I can put it in a lower ponytail without having pieces stick out. The layers are such that I can now fit all of it into one ponytail holder. I don't have to use the two-band trick that I told Meikmeika about anymore, but I still do sometimes because I like the look it gives me.

I hope I can make the time to take pictures at some point before I get to my 2 year anniversary!

More for the sake of my readers than for my own reasons. I'm just so much less concerned about it than I was at the beginning. I'm just letting it do it's thing and it's not changing much except for length. My locks are growing but not especially fast. I don't think I'm experiencing the growth spurts people talk about having in the second year.

Of course, it's hard to tell because I haven't taken pictures.

That's all for now. Looking forward to posting about my 18 month milestone in roughly thirty days.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

To Me on My 31st Birthday

Ok, so I don't celebrate, so there will be no cards or party, etc., but....

Today is my birthday and I always use this day to look back on the previous year and think about my accomplishments and lessons learned. I tick off the goals I reached and make note of the ones I abandoned.

2008 has been a very transitional year for me in a lot of ways. And I went through a lot of changes in the latter part of '07. The last four months were an absolute whirlwind of activity, and decision-making.

I think of where I was mentally, spiritually and emotionally this time a year ago and many things are different and not all of them are better.

We won't even talk about the physical. I am still fat and feeling miserable about it.

The weight loss goals have totally taken a backseat to everything else, but besides not having lost weight I am just not feeling healthy. And it's harder to do everything - even think - when you're not feeling your best.

Last year this time I was more recently out of two back-to-back relationships so I was more preoccupied with wanting to be in another one and wondering why my love life was not as I wanted it to be.

Now, I'm more in a place where I have decided to find and cultivate and maintain my own happiness. Not that I wouldn't welcome love with open arms if it came into my life, but I can not expend any energy looking for it. There are too many other important things to be done.

My greatest accomplishment in the last 12 months has been starting my own business.

Eight months in and it is no less scary than it was at the very beginning. In fact, now it may be a little more scary because I had a few set backs a few months ago, so I have not hit my projected sales and income goals. Therefore I will really have to hustle before the end of the year to pull it together!

There's an American Express commercial running now featuring Diane von Furstenberg and she says something I can really identify with. "I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become."

I have felt that way for much of my life. There are so many things I enjoy. I like to write. I like to design. I like to teach. I like to travel. I like meeting new people. And feel like I am good at these things.

But time seems so limited. (And let's be honest, quite often so is money.) When you think of how much (or how little) of each you have, then your options and choices can begin to seem limited too.

It was a great big leap of faith for me to decide to start my own business and I'm still not sure that I won't fall flat on my face with this, but we'll see.

Nevertheless I am eager to see what challenges and triumphs the next year of my life will bring.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sixteen Months and Still in Love

Wow! Sixteen months - I can hardly believe it.

I am still every bit as much in love with my locks as ever, but like a lot of people I have been through stages of boredom and frustration - wishing they were different and briefly longing for the days when my hair was not on lockdown.

Sometimes I do want my silky smooth hair that I could comb and brush. Sometimes I do want to wear styles that are no longer optional. I think what a fierce fro I could wear with the length I've got now. I think what styles I could craft from waves and curls and coils if it were loose.

But the reality is that in all of my life before Sisterlocks, I rarely wore the styles I long for now. A handful of times for all, with the exception of straightened hair. I looked back on ten years of pictures and I was wearing essentially the same hairstyle in all of them.

I had variations in color, slight changes in length and parting, but it was almost always a layered shag or bob. That's how my hair grows and it was a look that was flattering and easy to maintain.

When I wasn't wearing that style I had two-strand twists using my own hair or kinky twists with extensions. Those were my staples.

Right now it is hot - summer in the South is sweltering. I've been running errands and having meetings and going shopping for my business and I tell you - many a day I have broken a sweat before I know it.

I'm one of those people who sweats at the scalp. So my head has been drenched with sweat, but did I look like it? Did I have puffy roots? Did my curls fall out? No. So every time I've wished I had a different look, I've remembered those facts.

I have almost no time to spend fussing with my hair. If I didn't have the locks, I would be looking a hot mess a good deal of the time. Not really, because I believe in looking my best, but it would definitely take a lot more time, trouble, energy, and money to keep myself looking good. I am so happy that I discovered Sisterlocks.

I used to wear kinky twists during the summer to deal with the heat and humidity, but my own hair is so much softer and lighter and more versatile - not to mention cheaper, cleaner, and easier to maintain.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

From the archives....

We all know that I am always starting some sort of new feature on my blog.

....and then abandoning it.

Does anyone remember the entrepreneurial inspirations?

Granted, I did abandon that one in my quest to live the dream and become my own ei, but anyway, I'm starting another one and we'll try and see if I can keep it up.

I checked my draft box and I have ~drumroll, please ~ Sixty-Five drafts sitting in my box right now.

Wow!...if you had asked, I would have said I had between 25 and 30.


They stretch all the way back to April '07!

If I post them to their original dates, they likely won't get read. So I'm going to use them to fill in some of the gaps when I don't have time to create new posts.

I believe a lot of my thoughts are still relevant, but many of them make reference to older posts by other bloggers. Just telling you all so you don't wonder why I'm talking about old stuff like it just happened.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tiny Locks

You know what Amina?

Just the other day someone said to me, "Your locks are so tiny. It seems like they would break..."

No one has ever said that to me in more than a year, so it was quite the surprise, but my hair was up and you could see all of the little ones around the hairline.

Of course, I explained that unlike other types of locks, Sisterlocks are formed using a patented tool and interlocking method, so they are very strong. I even let her tug on a few to see for herself. She was also surprised that they were so soft.

But girl....Your locks are super-tiny!

Not especially by Sisterlocks standards, but people will probably always comment on them . I just think people aren't used to seeing them - especially in combination with the kind of length you have.

My locks are small as compared to other locks, but they're kind of on the big side for SLs. I never think about this because the only locks I see up close on a regular basis are my own and my consultant's and they're about the same size.

But when I went to my first SL gathering in Charlotte everyone had little ones like yours and I felt like mine were freakishly huge (although they aren't).

I wondered if there would ever come a time when I wished that mine were smaller.

A few days later while I was retightening I thought: NOPE! I made the right choice for me.

I have about 100 tiny ones and it is SO tedious on the self-tite! Other people may not mind AT ALL, but for me - I'd just as soon NOT be bothered.

I have come to like self-tightening, but I would loathe it if I had a head full of small locks.

Monday, July 7, 2008

As if I Needed Another Project

But you know what? I really did.


Need a project.

I recently posted about needing a vacation and how I won't be able to take one in the foreseeable future.

Anyhow, for me the next best thing is a project.

I was thinking about my life and I realized that it's been years since I have learned anything really new.

All of the things I have learned have been variations on other skills I already had. For example, I have learned new dances and new recipes, but I already knew how to dance and how to cook.

I feel like I need to learn something and I have considered many different types of classes (i.e: pottery, knitting, glazing stained glass), but I really don't have the time to show up for anything on a consistent basis. Not now with my business in these fledgling stages.

So what then?

For years I have wanted to learn to speak Russian. I joked about it way back when I first talked about my blogger identity (and the twins - sergei and svetlana: click here to read the 'birth announcement'). And I have made random comments to Sunsail from time to time.

"But, BlackRussian," you say, "You have already learned two languages in your life time, isn't learning a third still a variation on a skill you already have?"

To which I must reply, "Pish-posh and don't pester me with petty things like irrefutable logic. I am trying to feel like I am breaking out to do something O-Riginal, O-Kay!!!"

So I'm going to try my hand at learning to speak Russian. I really want to. I think it would be the coolest!

Since my name is Natasha, I am frequently asked by Russians and Eastern Europeans if I know that it is a Russian name. I always say, "Da." And then I am asked, always in jest, if I know how to speak any more Russian, to which I must inevitably reply, "Nyet," as those two words and 'vodka' don't really count.

I would love love love to surprise each and every person who asks me that from now until the day I die with the ability to actually hold a conversation in Russian.

I love hearing my name on the lips of a Russian. Hearing it pronounced with the proper accent - mm...there's nothing like it.

Two things have always discouraged me: 1) I'm a visual learner. I love to read and write...and I was totally stumped by the Cyrillic alphabet. The thought of learning new words, new grammar, new syntax and a new alphabet??? Most daunting, indeed!

Those other extra characters that don't even look like the ones we use just really put me over the edge. It was enough of a challenge learning Spanish and we have so many cognates and words in common - it's pretty easy to figure things out even of you've never seen or heard them before.

Not so with Russian - at least not in it's written form. I knew I stood no chance of figuring out words intuitively and by sight.

So it remained one of those goals filed under 'cool things to do before I die', like learn to sky dive or fly a plane. Yeah, it would be pretty awesome to say that I could or that I had, but somehow not really worth the time and trouble it would take to apply myself to making it happen.

Obstacle number two was this: I knew from my attempts to learn Spanish that all the self-study and classroom instruction in the world is no good if you don't get to practice speaking a new language with natives. It just won't take hold.

Who speaks Russian in Greenville, SC? I only meet Russians when I travel.

Well...Monday I found out about the Atlanta Sisterlocks Meetup. I was visiting Naturally Sophia's Blog and that's how I found out about Meetup. She had the cute little badge on her site (and now I have one too!)

So once I figured it out (and got over myself, because I was like: another social networking site, really? Can any good come from this? I'm not against them in principle - there are just so many of them now, competing for your time and attention, it's like: who can keep up?!) and got the hang of creating profiles and navigating the site, I looked up Meetups in Greenville, SC - and lo and behold, there is a group that meets regularly to speak Russian!

Supposedly it is a mix of native speakers and students. So today I trotted myself down to the Barnes and Noble and bought me a book that teaches words and phrases phonetically. (I opened it up to a page that completely took the mystery out of the Cyrillic alphabet and I was hooked!) I also purchased a set of Pimsleur CDs.

I swear by the Pimsleur Method. It was essential in my Spanish studies. I don't really know how it compares to Rosetta Stone.

Pimsleur teaches you a new language in the same way that you learned your own native tongue. You listen to and overhear conversations spoken by native speakers. You learn new words through repetition, association and context.

You are also asked questions at regular intervals. They require you to think of the answer and figure out what words to use for a proper response, just like real conversation. It is much more engaging than other tapes that have you recite phrases because you have to reply like you would in conversation.

It is a very natural process. There are no books or written materials - you simply listen and recite - with emphasis on authentic pronunciation.

The theory is that introducing written materials hinders your ability to learn authentic pronunciation because you still see written words and associate them with English and your brain wants to pronounce them the familiar English way and you spend weeks and months trying to overcome that and form new associations, but if you learn a language first by listening - like children do - and introduce the written word later then that doesn't happen.

It kind of makes sense to me. Also seems like it would help to circumvent my hang-ups about the alphabet.

I know you must be wondering this: If I am such a believer in learning the language without the written word, then why did I buy a book and get excited about it?

Because I know myself, and I know there will be times when I will want a quick reference for a certain word or phrase and I will not be able to recall it from the CDs. In books like this, words are grouped by type and function, as opposed to alphabetically like dictionaries, which would be of no use to me with my current lack of skills.

From what I understand, Rosetta Stone operates on a similar principle of repetition and association, but they do introduce written words simultaneously with pronunciations and I think they pair them with pictures. I'm sure that works, but it seems like more than I need right now.

That might be helpful once I've learned to speak in conversation and decide to get around to trying to learn to read and write it. I might invest in the program if I decide to take my studies to the next level, but right now I want to become fluent in conversation. I want to get my feet wet and go to one of the local events.

I'll be sure to keep you posted on my progress.

Ladies, I gotta say you all are really good about not calling me out on the things I start and don't finish....So...yeah...we'll see where this one goes.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Not this year....

So I was all hyped to go to the Sisterlocks Homecoming.

I've been thinking about and planning for it all year. everyone knows, I started the business.

I was hoping to have found a qualified partner or hired a personal assistant by now to be able to handle things for me while I am away or if I get sick, but not so far.

I had a really promising meeting with another stager who has her own business the other day. We see eye to eye on a lot of things and we have many of the same goals and principles. We intend to work together on a few projects and see what happens after that.

But...that's not helping me in the here and the now. Just because of where I am in the cycle of business operations and marketing, I can't afford to be away because I can't lose momentum. I have to follow up some hot leads and I have some obligations to existing clients and there is no one here to work on it, but me....which fact I defintely hope to change in the next 6 months.

....So I can take that week-long vacation to the Carribean!

We'll have to meet some other time Muslimah. I am quite disappointed.

Friday, July 4, 2008

To Post or Not to Post?

Amina asked me if I'm really back. Apparently so.

I always have lots to say. I have abundant opinions on almost everything.

Seriously, the main reason I haven't posted was because I know y'all want pictures to break up what otherwise amounts to pages and pages of journal entries, and I haven't had any.

Believe it or not, I haven't taken any since February...yeah...I really fell off on the comparison shots. It has just become less important to me to track the changes in my locks visually. I know they're growing and I know they're changing and I don't need pictures to verify.

I don't have the watched-pot syndrome I had in the beginning, but I guess I really should take some pics for those who follow my blog. I'll try to get around to it.

It seems I was missed, if only by a dedicated few, so here is my compromise: You know I hate taking pictures! But I will. However, I'm not promising to post them right away.

I'll continue to publish posts as I write them, and one of these days, I will come back and add pics to all of the posts that need them (really, I will...notice I didn't specify when, though...hmm....some time before 2009....) It's either that or watch me drop out again until September, at least!


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Black Russian Needs A Vacation

The way you need a vacation just when things get really stressful and hectic and you feel like you haven't got a moment to spare for yourself.

Last week I read a novel. A fluffy chick-lit beach read.

I actually bought it last year.

Last year this time I was in Miami. It was supposed to be a fun getaway with my best friend and boyfriend at the time, but everything that could go wrong - did.

The boyfriend and I broke-up about a month before the trip, so he didn't come, and all of the things I'd planned for us to do together were no longer going to hold the same thrill. In retrospect, I really should have cancelled - but I got a really great deal on the vacation package, and I'd booked it online, so I thought I couldn't cancel. (Re-read the fine print after things began to go wrong and found out that I could have without penalty....That was disappointment #1)

Our reservations were all wrong. We didn't get the room we expected. Many of the things that were promised as part of our package deal were available only if we paid additional fees.

One of those things was a beach chair with towel and umbrella.

My friend is Scotch-Irish and extremely fair-skinned. She needed an umbrella. I refused to rent one for $10/hr when I could buy one for $12 and use it all week. So, she covered up with a towel from the room and a big floppy hat, but still managed to get burned in the 30 minutes it took me to walk back to Collins Ave to buy an umbrella. When I came back she was red and glowing. She actually turned purple by the next morning and was sick in bed.

I felt awful and I was pretty scared for her too.

We were also promised free wi-fi. Both of us were planning to work a little from the comfort of our hotel room during the heat of the day and venture out for shopping in the afternoon and dinner and dancing during the evenings.

We felt like there was a bait and switch and so would not pay $25/day for Internet Access. What??? And so we had trek all over South Beach looking for hotspots with laptops in tow - just to check our e-mail!

It wasn't all bad. There were plenty of bright spots. We met some awesome people and made lots of friends. We discovered a great Mediterranean restaurant that we ate at every day, but there were enough hassles that we never got to relax on the beach and read books on the beach like we planned.

So I came back home and put the book on the shelf.

I didn't read it in all of this time because there were so many other (more productive) things I felt I should be doing.

I should be studying. I should be teaching. I should be working. I should be volunteering.

What does it contribute to anyone for me to read a silly novel?

But last week, I said, 'so what?' I'll squander a few hours reading a book that will in no way enrich my life or make me a better person. It was rather like a mini-vacation. I really enjoyed myself.

And the other thing was this: Every time I looked at the book it reminded me of the vacation that wasn't. Yes I got away (and to one of my favorite cities at that) but rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation completely eluded me.

But I finally got over that too.

But that wasn't at all what this post was s'posed to be about.

Although my faithful readers have gotten used to me and my digressions.

I do need a vacation. Haven't had a good one where I came back feeling refreshed in I don't know when. Feels like never.

And I don't know when I'll get to. I keep taking short trips that are related to work or some other obligation and I am never gone long enough to really unwind, you know?

But I have rambled on long enough in this post, so I'll have to follow it up with another later on.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

In Response to Southern Girl...

What? My words of wisdom aren't enough for you???

Pictures? You need pictures?!?


(JK) Southern Girl called me out because I just put up two posts after a three month absence and I have no pictures.

Y'all know I was never the best at posting pictures in timely fashion - words I have in abundance... Pictures, not so much... and that is precisely why I haven't posted in soooo long.

I have about 12 posts sitting in draft right now and most of them require pictorial accompaniment but I haven't had time to take pictures or upload the ones I have taken.

Plus, when I started my business I bought a new laptop, a new camera, and a new phone.

So I've had a huge learning curve on all this new stuff and some pics are on my desktop, some pics are on my phone, some pics are on one laptop, some pics are on the other.

I was pretty slack on posting pictures anyway, but now I am especially challenged and I have less time to boot!

Like Southern Girl, my smallest locks are also at the crown. I had them installed that way for fullness too. I refer to that area affectionately as 'the thicket'.

In the beginning it was my least favorite area to retighten. It was most prone to tangling and married locks, which I refer to (and not affectionately) as unholy unions.

However, once I realized that there was no reason I had to wait 4 weeks or 6 weeks or any set amount of time to retighten, everything changed.

I retighten that area as needed. That means very often. That area - the thicket - probably accounts for about a third of my locks - so we're talking about 100 or so. I retighten 5 to 10 locks every 2 - 3 days. Sometimes I'll go in and do all of them, then I won't need to go back again for 2 - 3 weeks.

But my hair grows fast enough that I do have enough growth in that time to merit another tightening. In fact, I really need to do it that often to stay on top of it.

Unlike my consultant, I can't see what I'm doing and I have to work entirely by feel and I don't really like bothering with clips, so I never separate my parts properly. I also rely on feel to make sure I'm staying within the established grid pattern.

So it is especially important that I don't let the thicket get out of hand. I try to keep the passes with the tool to a minimum: 3 - 4 (and sometimes 6) loops through the base of the lock as opposed to the 6 - 10 I would face at 6 weeks.

Yep...more words and still no pictures.


The LWC strikes again....

I've had in mind to do a post on my own lock-splitting experience for about three months now, but I have been too busy. I was thinking about it again this morning, and then I found myself at Amba's blog where she recently wrote about it.

Doesn't that happen ALL the time in the blogosphere?

I was the first one to insist that I didn't want micro and mini locks, and I still don't want them all over my head. (Since I have started self-tightening, I have been especially happy with my decision to get larger than standard sisterlocks.)

However, I find that small locks have their place. I've started about twenty locks around the edges of my hairline since my initial locking and all of them are small because there just wasn't a lot of hair available, but it was more than I wanted to leave loose.

And I like them, they're fine. They are more of a pain to retighten than the larger ones, but since there are only a relatively few, I can manage it.

I split six of the my locks around the time of my one year anniversary - three on each side of my head.

The hair at my temples is really fine and soft, so I had Phyllis make those locks the size I wanted them to stay - medium.

The locks behind my ear didn't swell. They are almost the same size they always were. The locks in front of my ears did.

They got much thicker than what I wanted. It was okay when I wore my hair down, but I didn't like the look when I wore it pulled back or up, which I do a lot! Daily.

So I took them down. It wasn't that much of an ordeal, a little time-consuming, but not a terrible experience over all.

I had my consultant make each lock into two and they are micro-mini now, but I know they will be just right a year from now.

I don't foresee that I will need to split any more, but it was nice to know that it wasn't a negative experience or a grueling process.

There are probably another 6 or 8 that I COULD split, but they're such happy healthy locks and they're in the middle where no one sees, I only feel that they are larger when I retighten, so I'll probably leave them alone.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On Perfection

You know how you feel in those first weeks and months after you've just met someone new and you feel like they're perfect?

With your rational mind, you know they aren't really perfect, but with your romantic heart, you want to believe that they are. Finally you settle on the thought that they really are perfect, if only perfect for you.

That's how I feel about my locks. If I study them up close in the mirror, I become aware of all sorts of imperfections - kinks, strays, misfits, escapees, odd sizes, uneven lengths, mini-frizzies, flyaways, a bunch here, a hole there.... on and on I could list myriad and various problems that other bloggers have complained and stressed about.

But you know what? It is okay!

I love my locks anyway and I feel like they are perfect. I really do.

I am not blind to their imperfections, but still I feel like they are perfect for me. So here I am. Still in love. At 15 months.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Feel Like Such a Nerd

As I sit here working simultaneously on three computers (two laptops and a desktop), I feel like such a nerd....three computers, really?

When I started the business I treated myself to a sexy new (RED) Dell XPS 1330.

Now, I love the color - it is fire-engine red.

I wear red almost every day anyway because I love the way it looks, but red is also a strong part of the Showhomes brand. So I thought it would be pretty cool to be color-coordinated.

But I was also concerned about my trusty old Inspiron 6000. It turned three in March and after reading what happened to so many others between 2.5 and three years, I was kind of afraid it would just die on me.

Plus, it had gotten mind-numbingly slow. My RSS feeds would no longer update. It took 5 minutes to open any program - Word, Excel, you name it. Net-surfing was a joke. I really did need a new machine. So got myself the one I always wanted.

I liked the 6000 for the large screen, but that came with the trade-off of pretty hefty weight. It's a desktop replacement model and traveling with it is not fun!

So this time I went for smaller and lighter and I couldn't be happier.

I have yet to sync all my files and software, though. And I haven't networked everything. (That's part of the reason I feel like a nerd and not a geek. If I were more technically proficient, I would have set everything up - like - instantly.)

So, when I need to print I have to use my desktop. When I want to do anything that requires speed and mobility I use the XPS. And the 6000 is now the workhorse. I use it to listen to music, upload or download files, etc...Tasks where I can set it and forget it.

But back to my XPS. I love it for the color, but it is also a tie in to (Product)RED - the charity co-created by Bono to help combat AIDS in Africa. Find out more about it here.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Leatherheads Bonus!

Okay, so it was cooler than I thought it would be to go to the movies and see places I know from main street and the football field from a school where I used to teach. I got an unexpected rush of excitement and spontaneously grabbed the arm of my date saying, "Look! Look! That's here - in Greenville!" was totally obvious.

I lived in D.C. and I've been to major cities like NY, Chicago, LA, and Miami numerous times. Those cities are always in the movies and on tv, so when I see actors on location at a place where I've also stood and it's the Rockefeller Plaza or Grand Central, it ain't no thang..., but when I saw the hotel that was across the street from where I used to work in downtown (small town) Greenville - it was pretty awesome!

But that wasn't the bonus!

Whodathunk there would be a locked sister in the movie???

Not me.

There's a scene in a speakeasy with a soulful blues singer crooning, 'The Man I Love.' And who was it but Ledisi! If you don't know who she is, follow the link and check out her myspace page.

*Lest you be disappointed when and if you see the movie, she was wearing a wig in keeping with the period. And I ain't mad at her either. Because I don't believe she was hiding her heritage. She was playing a character and wearing a costume.

Her locks would have been as anachronistic as an afro and bellbottoms. Do we think Renee Zellweger wore those pincurls off the set? Probably not.

Although... I loved her costumes too. She was almost always in red/orange/rust colors - which I have more than my faair share of hanging in my closet. And the hats from that age are my favorite. If I could find them, I would wear them now - on occasion, of course, not the kind of look I would rock every day.

Anyway...that's today's $0.02.

Friday, April 4, 2008

I Love My Sisterlocks!

Have I said that lately?

Not in print. But I do! There's that one picture on the official website where the caption says: "Just when you think your Sisterlocks can't get any more fabulous, they do..."

That's how I feel about mine every day! I should post a few pictures, but you know...first I have to take them, then I have to edit them, then I have to upload them, and it's all too much....

Did I tell y'all I'se gon' be own tv??? (I love the way some southerners pronounce on, which I say 'awn', as 'own' - but anyway, I digress...)

While at the trade show a month ago - yes, that was already a month ago! - I made a contact with one of the local news stations. A representative was intrigued by the Showhomes concept and she passed my story along to one of the reporters. She was equally excited and wants to shoot a story that will air during May sweeps. That's publicity that I couldn't buy.

However, preparations for it are really making me hustle. Plus, I was still working my other job part-time for the regular paycheck. (Showhomes offers homeowners the option to pay for our services at closing, and, yeah, most people take the option to defer payment given the I'm very busy working, but I have yet to actually get paid....)

But I just got to the point where the part-time job was hindering the growth of my business. It was really not worth it. The money I was earning working the job was actually costing me due to lost opportunities to close deals and meet with potential clients and partners.

Just from the stand point of scheduling, it was getting to be not just inconvenient, but actually detrimental. I have to schedule sales meetings and conference calls and the like to be effective at what I do and having to work around the times my employer needed me to be there was just not working - so I put in my notice a few weeks ago.

I wasn't making that much money because my hours were really low, but it was still money I could count on. It paid a few of the bills.

Now the cash flow situation in extremely critical. It is all outgoing and no incoming - Aaagh! Scary!

So, yeah, I said all that to say that I'm really trying to rustle up some business that will be good for the news piece and I'm planning to be out of town next week for a trade show. Therefore taking puctures of my hair is not really high on my list of priorities...but...every time I look in the mirror I think: Wow! They are looking lovely.

I adore this stage and this length. Of course I want them to continue growing, but I can tell this is a length I will miss.

It's a fun, flirty, flippy stage - great for the coming of spring. They are just sassy and full of life and body and swing. I get compliments on them daily and regularly from the same people who have been watching the process from the beginning and from total strangers on the street.

I still love them, but it is always interesting to have people comment on them over and over - how beautiful they are..

I'm sorry. I feel like this post is like: look at me I'm so wonderful. That's not how I mean it. At all. I just know that a lot of people who decide that they want locks hesitate because they wonder what other people will think and they fear a negative reception. There are also blogs I've read and people I've spoken with who have gotten nothing but negative comments from their friends, family and co-workers.

I do get the occasional ignorant statement or question, but, by and large my entire locking experience has been and continues to be very positive, and that's why I wanted to write about it.

This post is not to say: look at me! I'm so beautiful and special and talented....Don't you wish you had it going on like I do?

It's to let others know that positive feedback is out there. A completely positive experience is possible.

I feel like this: You know how some of your friends (or some of you) had difficult pregnancies, but then some women have trouble-free preganancies and quick and easy deliveries? And the same thing happens with relationships. Some of us have all sorts of drama over and over - and not necessarily as the direct result of our own neuroses, either. And then some of us have the easiest courtships after which marriage immediately follows....And we're happy!

I've never been the type to be jealous of other people's successes. I take this view: If she can do it or it worked out well for her, then that means there's hope for me. Or alternatively, in situations where my personal struggles were unavoidable, I have thought: At least someone is having an easy time of it - good for them!

And that's how I feel about my Sisterlocks.

I've read other people's blogs where they had drama from the start - problems necessitating takedowns and issues with bunching or dandruff or tenderheadedness and consultant woes and family opposition, a constant stream of rude comments and questions and all manner of other troubles - none of which were ever in my personal experience.

I just want people to know that it is an easy and painless transition for some of us. I don't think it's due to anything special about me. I am not highlighting myself in any way. I just want other women to know that sometimes it is all good - through and through.

I started my locks a year ago and I have never had any major problems (quite a few minor ones, but none my consultant and I couldn't handle). I have no regrets. I love my Sisterlocks and I know they do look good because I get so much positive feedback from others.

'Cause, you know, sometimes we make a choice and we're just like: this is what I have decided to do and I don't care what others think!

And that's the mindset I had when I started my Sisterlocks - which is all the more reason I really appreciate the positive feeback that I get and that it comes to me on such a regular basis. After all, I expected to love them, but I was mentally and emotionally prepared for the people around me not to.

I had beautiful straight hair and beautiful curly hair - good hair (if I do say so myself! ;-) so I was fully prepared for all of the 'why did you do that to your pretty hair?'-type comments. And other random ignorance. But it didn't happen - not that it never happened, but not nearly as
much as I anticipated it might and prepared myself for.

I wondered about my job interviews and my business introductions, etc. No negative experiences so far, and only people who have commented on how much they like my look.

So, I'm sharing my good news and my good experiences and passing along news of the compliments so that others know that it is good and pleasant for some of us.

I have been happy with my Sisterlocks every day since I got them.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Leatherheads (0% about my hair)

Now... much as I love movies, I'm not normally one to be star struck. I've seen several fairly famous celebrities (actors, musicians, dancers) up close and personal (read: steps away at restaurants, hotels, and on the street).

I'm not really one to name drop (LL Cool J, John Legend, Morris Chestnut, Savion Glover....the list goes on). But I think it's pretty cool that the movie, Leatherheads, starring George Clooney and Renee Zellweger was shot extensively in and around Greenville, SC - my current (adopted) hometown.

Filming began in February 2007 and there were daily reports in the newspaper and on television about sightings of the very famous, award-winning Clooney and Zellweger, as well as the less famous but very recognizable John Krasinki (Jim Halpert on 'The Office'). Many Greenville natives had the chance to be extras and the buzz went on for weeks.

I adore the classic pairings from movies of bygone eras: Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Rock Hudson and Doris Day - to name a few. Not only was their chemistry great, but the dialogue was crisp, fast-paced, and witty. (His Girl Friday is one of my all-time favorites!)

Leatherheads is set in 1925 and early reviews say it is reminiscent of screwball comedies from the 30's. That description is more of a reason for me to look forward to its release with keen anticipation than the star power or the chance to see local landmarks featured on the big screen.

George and Renee were back in town for a few days this week visiting fans and extras and promoting the film which opens nationwide next Friday, April 4th. Many special events are planned around town for the premiere.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My New Blog!

As if I need another one, right?

But this one is actually job-related. So, I kind of have to maintain it on a regular basis (unlike the weight loss and travel blogs.)

Blogging us huge in real estate and home staging, so earlier today I created a profile on Active Rain Real Estate Network. You will find a link to my Active Rain profile to the right, just below my picture.

For those of you who are interested in following my business news and success stories, please be advised that they will be posted on that blog.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sisterlocks Photo Shoot!

I am simultaneously excited and disappointed!

What better way to celebrate my first anniversary than to have a professional photo shoot, right?

I was just visiting the Official Sisterlocks Homepage to see what was new when I saw that there are going to be professional photo shoots around the country and one is this weekend in Atlanta!

I tried and tried to figure out how I could make it, but I have previous commitments that will not allow me to attend....Darn!

There's another one scheduled in Baltimore in June, so perhaps I can make that one. My brother lives in Maryland and I've been needing a reason to visit him and the rest of the family up north. I'm going to see if they would come to Charlotte as well. That would be awesome!

Imagine: we could each have photo shoots and then gather for dinner afterwards. It would be a great thing to plan our next gathering around.

Speaking of which...I know, I know...I have to post pics of the last Sisterlocks Gathering.

I was running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to coordinate my trade show. I am happy to report that it went off without a hitch (that anyone else was aware of) and I will be posting about that as well.

I don't have lock envy too often because I love my own locks so well, but I must admit that I am a little jealous of the bloggers who have family members available to take pictures of them and their locks.

I do get tired of taking my own (holding my arm out, propping the camera on boxes, setting the timer - it gets old and there's only so creative I can get). I'm sure I'm not the only one! And y'all know I always try to pass info on, so for anyone who is interested in having a professional photo shoot done, check out this link: Sisterlocks Photo Shoot.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

To Lock or Not....

A reader sent me this inquiry by e-mail: "I am entering the the corporate culture as an accountant and I have biased thoughts as to if I should lock my hair or not....."

Yep...I remember this one. As I stated in my previous post, one year ago when I was contemplating locks myself, I was also unemployed. So, not only was I concerned about how I would pay for my locks' installation and maintenance, I was concerned about how it would affect my job search and interview process.

I had made the decision to lock and I was certain that it would not be an issue with my current employer. Our dress code was business casual every day and jeans on Friday and a lot of the employees were African-American. However, when I knew I would have to start looking for a new job, I began to worry about my hair being yet another variable to perhaps tip the scales - and not in my favor.

What to do?

It weighed very heavily on my mind! But I decided to do it anyway. I decided - in my heart - that I did not want to work for any company or corporation that would not be accepting of my natural hair and that was that.

I would not begin to say that every work environment is lock-friendly, but I can definitely say that in my personal experience, they never seemed to have any impact on how I was perceived. I don't feel like I ever lost out on any opportunities on account of my natural hairstyle.

I do think lock acceptance depends on several factors, like the region of the country one inhabits and how many black people there are in the area. I think an even bigger factor is how the locked individual carries him or herself.

Are you otherwise well-dressed and well-groomed? Do you speak intelligently and with confidence? Do you have a stable work history, solid resume and relevant work experience? I think employers today are much more concerned about those factors.

That having been said, corporate culture varies widely from company to company. There are still accounting firms, law firms, and other organizations that have extremely conservative views on many things.

My opinion is this: if you present yourself professionally, your locks should not hinder your job search in any field. If you want to be a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant, or banker - in general - your well-maintained and tastefully styled locks should not be a problem.

However, I do add this caveat: Anyone seeking a job with a specific company (if you are set on working there) should try to do some research on their individual culture and whether natural styles are welcome. Sometimes even within a generally open company there is an individual department head who is known for holding certain prejudices. At that point it is up to you to decide how badly you want that particular job with that particular company.

My locks do still look a little bohemian sometimes when I wear them loose. (I have a fine, curly textured hair and all it takes is for a little wind to blow through and it's all over my head! And I'm in the habit of tousling them a lot and playing with them when I haven't put them up.)

So whenever I have a business meeting or event where I think my contacts or audience might be especially conservative, I do put my hair up. I wear it in a bun or french roll. Even with straight hair, I tend to think that these types of styles present a more business-like image.

I have not had one single minute of regret about having started my locks. I cannot say that they have had any negative impact on any area of my life, least of all my employment opportunities. I have found them to be a total non-issue, even though I am often the only person of color in a room. I get compliments on them all the time - from all sorts of people.

So, dear reader, I say: Go for it!

Friday, February 29, 2008

'Leven Months an' Lovin' It!

I just celebrated my 11 month lock-a-versary today!

I have to say so myself...aren't they lovely?

Still in love and so happy with my decision to lock.

And WoW! What a difference a year makes!

Twelve months ago I was a week away from losing my job. I wasn't sure it was going to happen, but the handwriting was definitely on the wall...and I was waiting for the other shoe to drop! Now, I'm a bona fide business owner.

Who knew?

Don't we all love the comparison shots?

Couldn't wait for my one year anniversary to do my retrospective...who knows if I will have the time? Check out these pics from Day 1, Month 1, and Now.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Upcoming Sisterlocks Gathering (Charlotte)

Since we had such a marvelous time at the last Sisterlocks Gathering in December we said we were going to try to make it a quarterly event - and believe it or not it's that time again! Three months have gone by just like that!

You all know that I have been totally immersed in my business start-up, but everyone else seems to have been buried in various projects as well...such is life these days, right?

Anyhow, this time we are meeting at O'Charley's: 6 p.m., Saturday March 1, 2008. That's exactly two weeks from tonight. The address is 1920 Sardis Road North. Follow the hyperlink to a page that provides a map and directions.

This event is open: anyone in the area is welcome to attend. Feel free to pass it on by word of mouth or links to my blog, but please RSVP to me or the Blessed Gem Lady, so that we can have an accurate count for reservations.

I hope to see all of the beautiful ladies from last time, plus a few new friends.

Friday, February 15, 2008

On Turning Thirty

The LWC strikes again....

I was reading MeikMeika's post about turning 29 (And 30) and decided to bring my long-winded comment over to my own blog. She asked for comments on how those of us who are thirty-plus felt about it.

I turned 30 six months ago, and it was okay. I wasn't sure how I would feel about leaving my 20s. I actually started saying I was 30 LAST February even though my birthday isn't til August just so I could get used to the sound of it.

The hardest thing for me was realizing how quickly time passes. I mean, I remember being 21 and 22 and feeling like my WHOLE life was out there.

You do become so aware of goals you haven't accomplished yet, and you realize that you just might not accomplish everything you thought you would when you were eighteen and just out of high school - for all your well-meaning determination.

I had such certainty that everything would go exactly as I wanted it to. I had a plan and a timeline for all the things I would DO and all the places I would GO!

And the older you get, I think the more you come to terms with how much is really out of your hands.

I think time becomes more valuable and therefore time management becomes more important. As do relationships.

I found I had a greater desire to reach out to my friends from the past, many of whom I had grown apart from. We had not fallen out, just gotten busy.

So now I call and text and e-mail women I was close to in my earlier 20s.

I have never dreaded the coming of my 30s. I do not subscribe to the notion that my best years are behind me, but rather I believe that they are ahead of me. I believe I will continue to learn new things and gain greater experience in life and dealing with others.

I have good genes on both sides of my family, so I don't worry about looking older. (I HAVE noticed that I don't quite bounce back from injuries as quickly as I used to, so I DO need to take care of myself - but that's the case with everyone.)

I could tell y'all a sad, sad story of loss and woe, stretching back about three and a half years to Nov 2004, but I won't because that's not my style, but I said all that to say that I looked at 30 as a new beginning.

I said: this is going to be the year I turn things around. THIS is going to be a major milestone in my life!

And so far, it has been!

I started my Sisterlocks about 6 months before my birthday and I have to say it was by far one the most positive choices of My LIFE!

Not so much the Sisterlocks in and of themselves, more the discovery of the online Sisterlocks community. I know I have said this before, but it is just SO TRUE!

I had just ended a very long-term relationship and suddenly had LOADS of free time on my hands - which was just unknown to me because I have always kept myself VERY busy.

I was really angry and resentful in general because I was always SO independent and self-sufficient that I had to work HARD - REALLY hard at carving out time to be with my boyfriend turned fiance. Being attentive and there-for-him was not easy for me and took a lot of time and practice.

And when I finally felt like I'd gotten the hang of it and it was beginning to feel comfortable and natural he suddenly went AWOL and stopped participating in the relationship!

You know how you feel when you clear your schedule to have lunch with a friend - like drastically alter your day and inconveniently rearrange things to sqeeze out 2 hours to be with them - and then they cancel on you at the last minute and don't even have the decency to call you - they do it by text messsage?

It was kinda like that.

Times one hundred.

You're like: okay. I have this SPACE in my day that used to be FULL, what do I do with it NOW?

It was precisely at that time in my life that I discovered Sisterlocks and Blogging simultaneously! Blogging became my therapy and my lifeline and my support system.

I had always journaled and that is very therapeutic as well, but the feedback and comraderie there is with blogging added another dimension of healing.

One year ago when I was APPROACHING my 30th, I've got to say, I was feeling a little lost, but now that I'm 6 months IN, I've got to say that things are really looking up for me.

I'm feeling good about not only what I hope the rest of the year will bring, but also the rest of the decade!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another First

I started my locks at the beginning of spring and then I went on a tropical cruise and then it was summer, so for the first 6 months there was warm weather all the time. What did this mean?

My locks love water. Even though I didn't wash my hair every week, it was frequently wet. I would wet it down in the shower before I went out in the morning, or I would spritz it any time of day to tame the frizzies or keep it from sticking up. When it's wet it hangs just right and the ends dry to perfect spirals - I love it!

Well...when the cold weather settled in, walking out with wet hair was no longer an option. It doesn't even get that cold here compared to a lot of places, but the mornings are chilly enough that it just isn't smart to walk out with my hair dripping.

I've always washed my hair about once every two or three weeks, even before I had locks - just because straightening or twisting it was such a project that I tried to make whatever style I'd done last. Of course, when my hair was loose, even though I was using more product, I was also combing and brushing daily, so buildup was never a problem.

Before I started my locks I worried about keeping them clean because we all know about the gunk that builds at the base of braids and weaves and other extensions. I was pleasantly surprised when this was not a problem.

Well...lately my locks have been feeling and smelling not so fresh...only in the last 7 - 10 days. I attribute this to two factors. One...I've been so busy I neglected to wash it. And spritzing, either.

My favorite thing is to wash my hair in the morning and let it air dry - hate sitting under a dryer - but as has been discussed, this is not an option in winter. Couldn't wash it at night because I didn't want to sleep on it wet and it takes about 3 - 4 hours to dry. Could have washed it in mid-afternoon, but kept forgetting or had somewhere to go.

So...I went about a month without washing it. About three days ago I noticed buildup near the base of some of the locks I had just retightened and I could smell my hair and it smelled like dirty scalp - ew! I was mortified!

It's like smelling your own bad breath or underarms. Suddenly you think: okay...I noticed it, so did other people notice it first? What must they have thought? Thankfully, I'd been mostly at home. I'd run errands to the grocery store and to get gas and things like that. No one had been in close proximity to my hair, so I think my good hygiene reputation is safe.

Even though I've been in the habit of washing my hair infrequently, I think all the spritzing and shower-wetting I did when it was warm kept my locks fairly clean. There was never any buildup because I was always running fresh water through it. I think three months of not doing that and this last month without a wash just put me over the edge.

I felt like I needed to do something above and beyond my normal wash, so I did an apple cider vinegar rinse - my very first. They get such mixed reviews and my locks never seemed dirty enough to try something 'drastic' that I might not like, so I didn't bother.

I poured some in a spray bottle, diluted it with water and spritzed liberally. All over. I saturated my scalp and I concentrated on the base of my locks where I'd noticed the buildup (about the last half inch or so) and then I moved out to the rest of my hair for good measure.

I left it on for about 20 minutes and then I rinsed it out. I just stuck my head in the kitchen sink and ran water through my locks for about 5 minutes straight. I massaged my scalp and squeezed my locks and then I was done.

It was nice! I liked it. They smelled really fresh and clean. Not like scented shampoo and not like vinegar either. It was an almost anti-scent, like water. And the other thing I liked is that they dried really soft, like I used a great conditioner. I kept touching them all day and marveling at the silkiness.

ACV rinse - definitely a new part of my beauty regime. I will probably do them monthly.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Totally Frivolous Post...

...that is 0% about my hair and my business, but it just happened and I need to rant. What's a blog good for if you can't vent about trivial grievances from time to time?

One of my all-time peeves is useless advice. You know how sometimes, you're just a little frustrated and you need to complain or be petty and sweat the small stuff?

So...I'm working all hours still because I am phasing out the two part-time jobs while my new business is getting off the ground (so maybe this entry is 2% about my business....) and I'm not broke broke, but my cash flow situation has definitely been better...I'm having to pay bills and living expenses out of my savings because my paychecks are definitely not covering everything! And I gotta say, I'm a little stressed...

So I went to the store with a coupon.

I don't clip coupons.

I'm not against them, not too good for them...just way too ADD to keep up with them. And I'm not particularly brand loyal; I buy lots of generic items and/or whatever is on sale that week, so the purchases I make are usually cheaper than the name brands are even after the coupons. Or for quantities that are not practical for little ole me, so, it's generally just not worth it - but...the occasional coupon does come into my life. Usually, they are packaged with or stuck to a current purchase.

For them to be worth me hanging on to - they have to meet two requirements. 1) They have to be for a product and brand I use regularly and 2) the expiration date has to be way in the future, like 6 to 12 months...the 6 to 12 week coupons are no good to me.

So, at any given time I have, like, 4 coupons in my possession.

One of them happened to be for toilet paper. I probably buy toilet paper 4 times a year, maybe 5, but I had this coupon that I forgot to use the last two times I bought some. It was one of those rare 18 month coupons. It was set to expire in September of this year. It's been hanging on my fridge for 6 months.

It was only for 75 cents, but I was excited because I remembered to use it well before the expiration! So I went happily off to the store. Lost it to the bottom of my purse en route; searched for it diligently before entering the store. (Didn't want to be that lady digging in her purse at the checkout.)

It was one of those coupons with options. You know, so much off (1) 12 roll; (2) 6 rolls; or (3) 4 rolls. I stood there and calculated which was the best deal, and marched up to the front of the store. Oops! Know what else I need for my office? A grounded adapter for my outlet. That's on the next aisle. Think I'll buy two. Oh, and paper towels.

Like I said, I'm kinda ADD. I didn't have a cart and I was carrying everything in my arms and hands...

You see where this is going dontcha?

Well, when I got to the counter I realized I was no longer holding the coupon that I had 3 minutes ago. No, idea what I did with it! Must have dropped it. I had no recollection of putting it in my purse. I was wearing a skirt with no pockets. I put my things down and retraced my steps.

I was only on two aisles! It had to be on one or the other, right?

I looked twice. Not because it was so important. Not because 75 cents will make me or break me.

Just because...

I took the effort to keep up with it and I took the time to take it with me and decide which product to buy and I rarely use coupons...AND I just had it!!!

So I went back to the checkout and the cashier said: You should buy a coupon wallet.

"No, I really don't need one."

"If you had one, you wouldn't have lost it."

"I probably would have. I was carrying it in my hand and I just didn't pay attention."

"You wouldn't have lost it it you had a coupon case."

"Yep, I probably would have. If I was going to put it away in a coupon holder, I would have put it in my purse, I was holding it because I was getting ready to use it."

"I'm telling you. You'd still have it if you owned a coupon holder."

I'm thinking: You know what lady? Not helping! (She was annoyingly persistent and not very friendly about it either. Her tone was almost scolding. It wasn 't like she meant to be encouraging. It was just like a lecture.)

At this point I'm also thinking: Are you selling them? Yeah, I'm gonna buy a holder to keep up with the 7 coupons I use in a year. But I smiled and said, "Yeah...maybe."

I know full well that no filing system or container of any sort would have made any difference. I was just careless and tired. It was 10 pm and I worked all day. Started at 7:30 am.

Sigh...Not a big deal, I know, but it just left me a little ticked.

I'm better now that I talked about it.

Friday, February 1, 2008

How's It Going?

People keep asking me this about my business.

I know everyone means well, so I can't resent the question, but on the other hand, I feel like people don't understand, either. I'm selling a service, not a product, and a rather uniquely intangible one at that.

It's a lot like selling real estate as an agent. You put in hours and weeks of work and then you get a fat commission, maybe weeks or months after you started the process. You don't go out, make a sale, and see the money 3 - 7 days later.

I'll work my butt off marketing in the next 4 weeks, but I may not see any money until March or April.

Also, I didn't strike out on my own - I bought into a franchise, which meant that I had to spend loads of time learning how to do things their way. I'm still learning.

In January alone I spent a full week in training at corporate headquarters and another 4 days at conference. All time that I was not even trying to get January was pretty much a wash.

Lots of money out the door for travel and supplies, and absloutely NOTHING coming in, but...such is the nature of start-ups. After conference (last week) I am really excited about the company and where it's headed. We talked about goals for the next year, initiatives and our 5 year plan for growth. I really feel like I got in on a good thing at a great time!

I am very excited and happy.

A surprising thing for me is how many people close to me that I thought would be happy for me and supportive are not. I was unprepared for the negativity and naysaying of people I consider friends and acquaintances I admire and respect. I have gotten more support and well-wishes from strangers and online friends than from people I see every day.

Perhaps it was naive to expect that everyone would cheer me on.

Neutrality doesn't bother me so much, but a lot of people seem to think I have taken a foolish risk and I have thrown my money away. They have all but told me that I will fail. That has been disheartening, but not discouraging. All the more reason for me to succeed and prove them wrong!

So...that's how it's going.

Thanks for asking, I know it's because you care, but I haven't much to report right now. Believe me! I will post enthusuastically when I get my first clients and make my first commission. And to all of my friends in the blogosphere - thank you so much for your support! I have needed it to counteract the negativity I continue to encounter in the real world!

I have been terrible about not returning e-mails, but I have read every one and I than you all for keeping in touch with me while I was away.

Still in love...10 months

Can you believe it?

10 months locked, and I am just as pleased with my Sisterlocks as ever. Especially with my new business and all the activity. It has been wonderful to never have to think about my hair. The only decisions I have to make each day are whether I will wear it up or down, plain or with accessories.

It has been a year since I first saw the sister who inspired me to start my own Sisterlocks. We were at a conference this very weekend when I fell in love with her baby SLs. I remember how I buried myself in research trying to decide what size, trying to imagine what pattern, trying to imagine how mine would look, and trying to fugure how much it would cost with my length and thickness of hair.

Those of you who read my blog at the beginning will remember that I made up my mind to get them rather quickly - within 2 or 3 weeks, but then I had to wait another month on account of losing my job.

I can hardly believe it has been a year since I made the decision!

I am so immersed in my start-up, I know my 1 year lock-a-versary will be here before I know it! Two months is nothing!

When I was a child I used to stare at myself in the mirror and try to imagine what I would look like when I was a teenager and what I would look like when I was a 'grown-up'. I have done the same thing with my sisterlocks. I imagined what I thought they would look like at 6 months and one year. I wondered how long they would be and how thick they would be. I thought about how the ends would finish off. Would they still be curly? Would they be blunt? Would they be fuzzy? Would they be silky?

I am happy that they are still soft and silky. That was one of my biggest apprehensions about locking. My hair has always been soft and smooth and the thought of it becoming rough and hard was unappealing. I'm sure they are somewhat thicker in diameter, but they don't really look that much thicker. I haven't experienced much swelling. I've avoided a lot of the problems that others have had like bunching and unraveling - despite the fact that I didn't ever braid and band.

Finally my locks are less fluffy and fly-away. Finally getting away from the afro-mullet, and I am happy about that, too. It is long enough that I can do interesting up-dos. I keep saying I will take pictures, but have yet to get around to that. It will not be as long as I had hoped at my one year anniversary. I'm not disappointed about that; it's just not what I was expecting. Not what I had imagined.

The length I had imagined I would have at 12 months will probably not be realized before 18 months, but that's okay, because that wasn't my main reason for locking. I am so happy with my decision. It has been much better for me than I ever imagined. All the way around.

I thought about the title of my blog: Sl'd in SC - Another Sisterlocks Success Story. My regular readers know I love alliteration and that's part of how I came up with that title. In addition it is like the Secret and laws of attraction. I do wholeheartedly believe that if you expect success you will attract success. (Not ALWAYS, of course, but a lot of the time!)

I did not believe that I would have issues and challenges with my locks. I believed that all would be as I wanted it to be. They would be a success and I would be satisfied with them.

And so I have been.

But an interesting thing has been the affect getting locks and keeping this blog has had on my personal life. I also wholeheartedly believe that I would not have found my way into this new business and the success I expect that it will bring into my life without Sisterlocks...not to mention all of the wonderful women I have connected with all over the country.

I believe that success is not only - not mainly - about money, but about overall happiness and satisfaction with life. Your ability to connect with others and give back to your community - your personal sense of contenment and fulfillment. I feel like I am well on my way to being more successful than I have ever been before.

It isn't all because of the sisterlocks, of course, but I feel like where I was in my life when I decided to get them and the things I have learned and experienced since I have undertaken my journey have definitely been contributing factors to my success that is to come.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Decent Proposal...

So... I've decided to attend the Sisterlocks Homecoming in San Diego this July 18-20 and would love to have a roommate and travel companion. Anybody up for it?