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Forecasting 2014

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

Photo courtesy of christmasstockimages.com

Hey Curlies! After a waaaaayyyy too long hiatus, My Curly Mane is back! Yes, just in time for the New Year. I want to start 2014 on a good foot by updating this blog more frequently and bringing you more of what you love. Soooo sorry to keep you hanging!

What Had Happened Was …

Now what exactly happened, you ask? Well, (takes a deep breath; raises right hand; and promises to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth) I had to focus more on the ever-moving pieces in my life. I hate to make excuses, but a few new projects came my way, which required my full attention. I found myself having minimal time and energy to write, although I had tons of new hair products to review and ideas brewing in the brain. By the time I knew it, months blew by, and we’re now bumping up against a new year. Bad news bears.

BTW–I don’t know how I forgot to mention this when I first uploaded this post. I was sick for nearly a month! I had the flu, which wiped me out for two weeks. I’m still battling a lingering and annoying cough. Hate being sick! That was definitely a time suck.

I apologize again for being MIA! The good news? As I mentioned, I’ve got new news coming your way in 2014, so stay tuned (yes, again)! This is my New Year’s resolution for you.

Looking Back

As for my curly mane, my natural hair goal remains the same–to have waist-length tresses. So far, I’m in good shape, although I have been sporting straightened locks these last few months. Gasp, ya say! Well, that’s what happens when you’re not around to pull me away from my straightening addiction. :( I must admit that I have had some control in the process. I only used minimal heat on my hair and even deep treated it a few times following this style. I found myself experimenting with the traditional comb-chase method of straightening, a departure from my usual straightening technique with a Sonicglide. More on this as well as my length check in an upcoming post.

Looking back on 2013, we missed a very, very important milestone … My Curly Mane turned one year old!!! Yes, it’s been a little over a year since our baby made its debut. Thank you for your support!! I’m so happy that you are reading this blog and hope that it has helped you to make strides in your hair journey. This keeps me motivated. I kept my promise for 2013 and spruced up the look of this blog. Now, I promise to keep the tips and other bits flowing for 2014. More on the belated celebratory affairs soon!

What We Learned

Natural hair wash and go My Curly Mane

My Curly Mane as seen this month. Making progress! Coming soon: Details on my wash ‘n go look with As I Am Smoothing Gel.

We learned so many lessons this year. Last winter, we learned how to winter proof our poof, a tip I urge you to use again this season. This includes sporting satin-lined hats (still sporting the one I got from Etsy last year–love!), conducting regular scalp massages, and loading up on leave-in conditioner.

In fact, we put two of my beloved leave-in conditioners to the test in another epic product battle and discovered just how important these products are in improving our hair’s condition. Stylistically, we discovered that we absolutely love ballerina buns (no, not because of those incessant Hot Buns commercials). While personally/spiritually, we promised to ignore “Negative Nancies.” Stay far, far away from them in 2014!

You & Me in 2014

This upcoming year is ours! Let’s go in roaring like a lion. Together, let’s work on achieving the next step in our hair goal, while being an even better version of ourselves. We’re proudly rocking our curly manes, going big or going home, and sticking our fingers in our ears to shut out all naysayers and soul suckers. This is our plan, in case you missed the memo. ;)

Before you dive into the New Year, don’t forget to snag my new eBook. Please subscribe to get your free copy of this guide! Hopefully, it will serve as a blueprint throughout your journey.

Kick-off Style

I plan to have a low-key celebration with my BF and friends to ring in 2014, so the look of the day will be simple and naturally free flowing curls as seen in the image above. How are you styling your hair?? Don’t know? Check out the creative looks below from a few ladies that I think got it right. Let me know if you decide to do the same. I wish you many blessings for the New Year!!

Side Puff,  Heatless Hair Style (try subbing the ribbon for a little bling … or a blingy ribbon!)

Glittery Smokey Eye Tutorial & DIY Short Marley Twists (Skip to 3:28 for the hair tutorial)

 

Enlightenment & The Pursuit of Happiness

You can wake up to your higher self … You don’t have to run from life your whole life. You can really live and you can change, and you can be an agent of change.” ~ Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe in Enlightened

Meditation

Photo by atsukosmith

I have another show in which I’m adding to My Curly Mane’s “Fab Fave For You” list. … Yes, I just invented that one! This list contains a few of my favorite things that I hope are helpful for your spiritual journey or for someone you know. My first entry is HBO’s series, Enlightened. I’m hooked on its lessons of the week, hippy trippy vibe, and the Cali-cool essence of its wavy-haired main character, Amy Jellicoe, played by Laura Dern. The seasoned actress co-created the show with Mike White, who writes each episode and also stars in the show.

Let me fill you in without spoilers. It’s good. I promise! The series begins with a straight-haired, 40-year-old Amy Jellicoe working as a manager at a leading mega company, Abaddonn Industries. Amy soon experiences a dramatic (and entertaining) personal breakdown that causes her to evolve and become literally enlightened after staying at a holistic treatment center. She becomes the meditative, philosophical, textured-haired, self-help guru in pursuit of being an “agent of change.” As Amy says in one episode, “It’s a beautiful thing to have a little hope for the world.” Amy more than just evolves; she become truly happy.

Ironically, I found another similar find about a week ago. It was on a rainy day, after a few minutes hunting for something good on Netflix, that I decided to watch the documentary Happy. Blame it on the sulky weather, but this doc seemed to be right on the money … and it is! Happy highlights real-life stories of several people around the world who have identified themselves as being truly content despite their apparently rough circumstances. One of these examples that stuck out to me was how a rickshaw driver in India who has just the basic necessities in life was happy in comparison to a population of financially successful, Japanese businessmen who are literally, sadly working themselves to death.

Quick fact for you: Researchers found that extrinsic pleasures like extreme wealth lead to temporary happiness versus the long-term satisfaction that comes from internal rewards like being authentic to oneself, bonding with others, and giving back to the earth. Basically, it’s proven that letting your hair down and being more like Amy is really what makes us happy.Enlightened

It reminds me of how I felt in the beginning of my career versus now. In the beginning (yes, there was a heaven and an Earth … but I digress! :)) I would dress like my older co-workers in an effort to gain acceptance and to be taken seriously. This consisted of wearing oversized business suits, having my hair “tamed” and pulled back into a tight ponytail, and keeping very, very silent. I thought obedience and basically mimicking others’ appearance would make me successful. What I really found was that my clothes made me physically and emotionally imprisoned. I was also terribly unhappy using so much energy trying to please others. This discomfort also affected my performance. Remember what I said about trying to fit into a mold created for you … or one in which you’ve unwittingly created!

In time, with self-reflection and prayer, I learned to just be myself. I soon discovered that it was okay to dress with a little more flair, paint those nails, and free my mane! It was okay to have different opinions and politely express them. It was acceptable to be different, to be me. This didn’t make me any less competent. It was up to me to show this and be that example to others. I also discovered that I was happiest doing more of the things that truly made me happy like being out in the sun, drawing, writing, and helping others embrace their hair and spiritual journey (of course!). These are simple solutions with big results. It’s about being your own version of Amy and really finding happiness. Happy, happy! Joy, joy!

What makes you happy? Name one thing, anything! Yes, butter pecan ice cream counts!

UPDATED: Just as I was about to post this, I did a fact-checking search and discovered that HBO has discontinued Enlightened!! What?! This show was amazing and so well written! Ah! See what happens when you have a show with meaning. I have to say that I also haven’t heard HBO plugging the show as hard as it does with Girls. Sigh. What’s that you say? Turn it into a reality show and it would resuscitate? Oh, oh, oh. Say it isn’t so! We can’t go that route with this one.

Well, let’s cue the violins and play the sad music. Throw up the in memoriam sign. While this show has dearly departed, please catch its two seasons and reflect on how you can make positive changes in the world … like bringing this show back. Ha! Are Were you also hooked on Enlightened?

Loving Your Hair: What Every Natural Needs To Know

Love is always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

Clear Mind, Full Heart.

Photo Credit: Nastassia Davis

Does this sound familiar? You big chopped or grew it out. Either way, you finally learned to embrace your curly mane. Heart racing with excitement, you couldn’t wait to explore the infinite possibilities that lay ahead on your head. Suddenly, along the way, you hit a bump in the road. You found yourself getting frustrated with knots, dry hair, and breakage. The level of joy you once had at the beginning of your adventure dips and dives into frustration, and you nearly forget the love you once had for your natural hair.

Like personal bonds, the relationship we have with our curls can hit a rut, causing us to forget what we once cherished. Take a seat. I’m going to share with you some timely tips on loving your natural hair. Hope you had a Happy Valentine’s Hair Day!

Keep Committed

Let’s face it. Sometimes the latest styles don’t come out as expected, and we can’t seem to give our hair just what it needs. There are challenges that come with being natural, but let’s not forget that similar challenges exist for relaxed or straightened hair. The grass isn’t always greener. The secret is to stay committed. Don’t give up on your curls and waves. Instead, give yourself time to figure out and rediscover your hair. Hang in there.

Communication Is Key

I say this time and time and time again. *Spins head round and round* Communication is critical! You have to take time to listen and look closely at your curls in order to identify its needs. Whether it basks in your latest conditioner by snuggling curling up tightly or rejects a styler by splitting ends, your hair will let you know! If you pay attention to the signs and gently address your hair’s concerns, it will reward you in return.

‘Do Dates

Friday nights or Saturday mornings may be prime time for tuning into Housewives … or heck, being a real-life housewife, but you can also use that time to give your hair a little TLC. Set aside at least 30 minutes of “me-time,” to explore the many ways to care for your curls. Try a new style; test a product; or indulge in a deep treatment. By experimenting and setting aside playtime, you will take your curls to the next level.

Fight Fair

Are you roughing-up your hair with harsh combs, brushes, and scraggly nails? If so, stoooooop! Never abuse your hair. You will always get better results by handling your hair with kid gloves aka treating it like it’s your first and only pair of Manolos. The gentler the care, the sweeter the results will be.  Have patience.

Cherish Curls

Stop commanding your hair to pop and twirl like the next one. Remember that your curly mane is unique. It isn’t fair for you to demand it to look or behave like anyone else’s. Look back at why you originally decided to embrace your tresses and how happy it can make you feel. Keep your “mane” love in the forefront.

We all go through ups and downs throughout our relationship with our hair. You just have to remember that it’s all a part of the course and worth it in the end. Got some more tips? Share them below.

Forecasting 2013

2013_sparkler_christmasstockimages

Photo courtesy of christmasstockimages.com

Grab your whistles and horns! A new year is coming! It turns out that the Mayans may have gotten a thing or two incorrect (thank goodness!) because 2013 is nearly here. Phew! This new year, I’d like to take you and my curly mane to a higher level. Yes, I’d like us to end 2013 having made some significant advances. What kind of advances, you say?

First let’s look back at this year. Ah, 2012, the time in which we first met. In case you don’t already know, My Curly Mane is 6 months old! Our baby girl is growing, and with that, I must turn to you. Thank you for stopping by and reading! I truly appreciate the support and enjoy helping you with your hair goals. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to let me know. I appreciate any and all thoughts.

This blog has allowed me to focus more on my curly mane, literally. If you read about my recent length check, you’ll notice that the extra care I’ve taken to moisturize my hair and keep straightening to a minimum has paid off. I’ve seen an increase in my hair’s health (springiness) and length. If you’re seeking either or both goals, I want to help you make strides and/or achieve your goal in 2013.

You & Me In 2013

I’m asking you to please implement at least one tip from this blog or my newsletter (you’ll receive this by subscribing) each month. Please abide by this lesson for at least one week and report back to me. Remember, it’s only by taking action and making changes to your routine that you will see improvements in your hair. Trust me. I know it’s hard, but by finally taking action, I started My Curly Mane. Oh, and yes. I thought that was crazy too, but here we are making our way. I challenge you to take action and get your hair ready in 2013, so you can proudly werk your mane come 2014. Make me proud!

Aside from your mane, I’m putting out a call for hair stories and additional advice. I truly believe that each one teaches one, and I am inviting you to share your hair stories, tips, and life lessons. Pass on a good word or two. It never hurts. :)

My Curly Mane Outlook

I will continue to share my colorful take on hair and life right here on this blog. I may play around with the look and feel of this site, depending on your feedback. I already made a tweak or two. Did you notice? I will continue to share tips, reviews, and news on natural hair. However, there may be a few surprises or two. I’ll leave it at this, as I have a few ideas brewing. No need to worry. I will continue to steer the course smoothly, with your feedback, of course.

Best Wishes

I wish you and your family lots of love and happiness in the new year. I pray that you will continue to embrace your mane as well as the manes of others, speak kindly, learn to treat others and yourself with care (let’s spoil ourselves more as a certain someone did this holiday season … who, me?), and seize all opportunities that come your way. Whether you’re celebrating with a group or alone on your couch, cheers! Dust off your shoulders. It’s time for new beginnings. Happy New Year!!

Hurricane Hair Care

May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Hurricane Hair

Washing my curly mane in the sink. No, don’t use the dish washing liquid shown! :)

Before she even arrived, Hurricane Sandy was called the perfect storm. Perhaps this is because she was perfectly disastrous. On the east coast, Miss Sandy uprooted many trees, destroyed homes, cars, streets, and left many without electricity, including myself. Our lifestyle definitely went back to basics. With work still a possibility the next day, I needed to have my hair somewhat presentable in the event that I was called into the office. This required a much needed washing of my hair … without hot water!

Those of us with easy access to clean, hot water are veeerrrry lucky. I remember my first experience as a child visiting family in Jamaica and experiencing the culture shock … of my own culture! At that time many places in Jamaica did not have hot water running through the pipes. Today, here in the states, Sandy has contaminated water supplies and left many without access to power and ultimately clean, warm water. I extend my prayers to all whom have been affected by this travesty.

Braid-out with aloe vera gel during hurricane

First day results of a braid-out with aloe vera gel.

In the sake of actual necessity and much needed levity, let me share some hair care tips in the event that you’re left without warm water and for some reason or another need to wash your hair. This is simple and maybe common sense, but sometimes, you’re thrown off when comforts are removed. We’re gonna take this back Little House on the Prairie-style! ;)

Tools:

  • Kettle
  • Large Pot
  • Sink or Bathtub (to wash hair in)
  • Water (seriously, you’ll need this)
  • Gas/electric or solely gas burning stove (seriously!)
  • Preferred Moisturizing Shampoo – skip if you’re doing the conditioner only/Curly Girl Method. I used Crème of Nature Argan Oil Moisture and Shine Shampoo.
  • Preferred Conditioner – My staple is Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Moisturizing Conditioner.

Steps:

  1. Pre-poo – Before washing my hair, I applied conditioner onto it, since I recently straightened my curly mane and wanted to restore its moisture balance. You can do this too if you simply want to ensure that your shampoo doesn’t completely strip your hair from oils. I left the conditioner in for about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat water in a kettle – Gauge the amount based on your curly mane’s needs.
  3. Place large pot aside, where you can easily grab and use it. You will pour water from the pot onto your hair—not straight from the kettle! Hey, some curlies need a slower pace and heads up. I’m not mad at you!
  4. Transfer some of the heated water into your pot. You’ll want to leave some water for additional rinsing of your hair.
  5. Shampoo hair in a sink or bathtub.
  6. Add cold water to the pot with hot water. The temperature should be comfortable for pouring onto your hair.
  7. Pour warmed water from the pot onto your hair.
  8. Condition your hair.
  9. Transfer more hot water from kettle to the pot and add cold water.
  10. Pour warmed water from the pot onto your hair.
Braid-out with aloe vera gel during hurricane_day2

Second day results of re-braided hair using Beautiful Textures Moisture Butter

Work in this manner (combining water from the kettle and cold water from your sink into the pot) until your hair is clarified. Simple!

Styling:

You can proceed with a wash and go. However, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stretch and style my hair using a blow dryer (no electricity), as I typically do. If you have time on your hands, here’s what you can do—Braid-outs!

Check out my post on how to get stretched results with Fruit of the Earth 100% Aloe Vera Gel. Of course, you’ll have to skip the steps in which a blow dryer is used. I used aloe vera gel on the first day and Beautiful Textures Moisture Butter Whipped Curl Creme to re-braid my hair on the second day. Details on this butter will be shared in an upcoming post.

I re-braided my hair at night until our hot water returned, saving water and electricity, while gaining time needed to tend to my family. That’s it! Simple lifestyle, easy hair care, many blessings.

I Love My Hair

If you follow My Curly Mane on Twitter, you’ll know that every Friday I dish out some #FunkyFridayMusic for the week. It’s eclectic, serene, and sometimes just plain funky music to do your ‘do and celebrate the weekend. Below is a video I shared a few weeks ago. You may have already seen it a few years ago (and bopped along like a Muppet). If not, you must! It’s the perfect song to cheer yourself up on bad hair days and to help kid curlies learn self love and to embrace their naturally curly hair … (more after the video)

The song was created by Joey Mazzarino, the head writer and a puppeteer at Sesame Street. Mazzarino adopted his daughter, Segi, from Ethiopia. He noticed that she began to speak negatively about her hair after playing with her long, straight-haired, blonde Barbie dolls. Oh, Barbie why do you do this to us??! It’s not only Barbie. It’s the cartoons, toys, and commercials young girls are exposed to. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many images reenforcing the notion that their natural hair is beautiful, which is why we need more positive messages as is done through this video.

Thank you Joey Mazzarino and the team at Sesame Street! Now, I not only know how to count like “The Count,” but I also know that I “don’t need a trip to the beauty shop because I love what I’ve got on top.” Say like like in the video: I really, really, really love my haaaaiiiiirrrr!”

CurlSpotting: LaToya’s Journey

This Labor Day weekend, I was fortunate to celebrate with good food, music, company, and conversations. Among the discussions was talk of naturally curly hair. Yes, yes, if you’re around me long enough, the conversation does veer into fashion, art, pop culture, and hair! No one is safe!

So I was overjoyed when mom of three boys (bless her), LaToya, willingly shared her hair story for us to learn from. The themes she addressed will ring familiar for some of you. For others, it’s good to know that you are not alone. We are here with you, though you’re far away … Okay, I’ll cut it out. Back to my Q&A with LaToya.

Nay (eyeing LaToya’s wavy hair, tied in a ponytail): Your hair looks great! I hope you don’t mind the question, but is your hair natural?

LaToya (raises ponytail): Thank you, but these curls are weaved.

 

Nay (drops mouth wide open, stunned at being duped but impressed by how naturally the weave blends into LaToya’s hair.): It is??

LaToya: Yes, I’m wearing a weave, but my hair needs a rest from it. It’s been a while now, so I’m going to take it out.

 

Nay (promising that I’m not a natural hair pusher): You’re working the weave, but what about the rest of your hair? Is it naturally curly?

LaToya (surprised by my own surprise): No, I have a perm, but I have gone natural before. I wore my natural hair for 10 years, beginning when I was 18 years old. It was my senior year in high school. My sister was getting married, and a beautician did everyone’s hair for the wedding. I got a bad perm that was left in my hair … She didn’t wash it out completely.

 

Nay: Gasp!

LaToya: Yes! It led to a lot of breakage, so I just decided to go natural. I wasn’t alone (cue song). My best friend went natural when I did. I also had an old-school stylist who knew how to take care of natural hair and helped us to transition. Whenever I wanted it straight, she simply pressed it. I also tried a lot of products like hair mayonnaise.

 

Nay: You went natural for a long time. What happened?

LaToya: I like to be versatile. Weaves had trouble blending into my natural texture. I sweat a lot too, and when I sweat, it causes a big puff. Permed hair is easier to weave. Your look stays preserved. Plus, I can go to a salon and have a beautician easily do my hair. I don’t have to figure it out.

 

Nay: So what’s your hair plans for now?

LaToya: I’m staying permed for now but taking time out from weaves. I do miss my natural hair. It was longer and healthier.

 

Nay (I’m not a pusher!): Do you think you’ll go back to being natural?

LaToya: Actually, my best friend stayed natural. She has figured it out, and her hair is nice. For me, it’s hard to find products that I can consistently use and will moisturize my hair, but I heard Carol’s Daughter is good. I’m also seeing more salons that know how to do natural hair.

 

Here lies most of our problems and an issue that drives many curlies back to straightening and perming—maintaining natural hair’s moisture (click here to read my tips on how to moisturize curly hair) and acquiring reliable products for styling. A las, there is hope. We are finally making strides, and resources are increasing each year. Plus, as a community, we have nailed down some methods and acquired the basic science to our hair. Of course, you’ll find details here at My Curly Mane. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

Have you had a similar journey as LaToya? Please feel free to share your story.

Stay tuned for an interview with LaToya’s son Jaden, whose naturally curly hair will bring you tears of joy.

Playing The Cards We’re Dealt

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” ~ Randy Pausch
Discarded Playing Cards, Paul Street, Stratford 06-05-2006Photo credit: DG Jones

Two weeks ago, I attended two funerals for two young friends under the age of 34. Both gentlemen passed away suddenly and left behind many broken hearts and dear friends. They lived completely different lives but left the same lesson—life is about choices.

You’ve heard the clichéd expression that life is a rollercoaster. Life gives you lemons. Life is like a box of chocolates, and on and on. Well, it’s true. Life truly is an unpredictable journey. One minute we’re caught up in work drama, the latest hair style, and laughing about reality TV. The next minute, the stop sign flashes red, and we’re facing life-changing challenges, all based on the cards we’re dealt.

You may have different beliefs, and that’s fine. In the crazy little world within my head, I picture angels—wise, cunning beings that are either good or bad–surrounded around a card table. One plucks a card and deals your faith. We can either choose to push through obstacles (with lots of prayers) or fall, arms outstretched, into a path of destruction.

Our choices aren’t always perfect, but our best bet would be to think about what we want to leave behind. Yes, this is the Oprah moment. Seriously, this lesson was driven home the moment after I left one of the funerals. I strolled away with my SO (significant other) in hand and smiled. This was the very first time I’ve ever felt happy after a funeral. I felt good because of the mark this young man left. It was evident by the words that were spoken of him and attendance of young boys in which he coached and hundreds of friends and family members who all spoke well of him. In the brief time that I knew him, I already knew that he was a good person. How many people can you say that about?

It’s all about these moments, your legacy. Make the best choices that you can while you’re given the opportunity and time to do so. Roll the dice when you need to. Fold or pass whenever you feel it’s right. Do not cheat. Keep a poker face when needed rather than being overpowered by emotions. Play by some rules while breaking others. Know it’s okay to lose and celebrate winning. Most of all, don’t just be … live.

Overcome The Notion That You Must Be Regular

As a favor to a friend, I was asked to give advice to a college senior and fellow curly girl (yes!) on the working world and career options in the field of communications. After sharing my thoughts, it had me thinking about the journey we call life (bare with me for a moment).

I believe that part of our life lessons is to find, accept (for good and bad), and learn from ourselves throughout our different phases and stages. It may sound simplistic and easy for some of you to achieve.  I commend you! For others, it’s a lifelong struggle between pleasing people by acting in accordance to their standards and being authentic to ourselves. This spans our career choices, how we present ourselves to others, and what we say about ourselves.

As a people pleaser, I often find myself questioning whether I’ve agreed with someone because I truly concurred with their thoughts or if it was expected of me and makes that person feel better knowing that I don’t challenge their thoughts. It’s as if some influencers–loved ones, friends, and acquaintances–are dangling a box in which a mold has already been cast.

Now, I will advise you as I advised this young lady. Whenever you’re presented the mold, step away! If not, you will miss the opportunity to live a fulfilling life and achieve success doing what is in your element, what God has gifted you to do. It is your choice to forge your own path and embrace your true self.

I too struggle with this, so I’m reminding both of us today. Let us repeat Uta Hagen’s words and remember to overcome the notion that we must be regular. Yes, let your freak flag fly!

Have you been forced into a mold? Have you broken free of it? Please share your story.

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