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.