Fruit in Bloom!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Say I Won't.

~ they say that confession is good for the soul.  So here I go.  (Cue theme song to "Young and the Restless" as I take the

As I surf from site to site and chat with one Naturalista after the next, I find that there is an unwritten cardinal rule that should never be broken.  There is a line that is drawn in the sand of infinity that should never be crossed.  There is a cardinal sin that is so debasing and unforgivable that it may bring into question the very validity of Naturalista membership:

If they ask, say "No."  Apparently there are many techniques to execute this shut down:
1) You can give the polite Bougie Babe, "I'd rather you didn't, THA-ANKS!"(Complete with frenemy smile.)
2) You can pull the Sistah-Gurl Sarcasm with, "Girl, what? (Open throat laugh) Nah, Boo...BYE!"(Complete with side eye.)
3) You can deliver with laser focus the Naturalista X speech in which you enlighten the poor, ignorant one on the social ramifications and historical mis-teachings behind their ludicrous request. "For 400 years the Black race has endured their personal boundaries becoming the play ground for the White Establishment......" (Complete with concerned stare of disappointment and disapproval)
4) Or you can simply do the NBA Manuever and block the shot toward your loc! (Jackie Chan style speed!)
Either way, the Sisterhood has made it clear to all who would enter into the not let these people ask you dumb questions about your hair and for the love of all that is righteous do not let them  touch your hair.  Period.

You know where this is going, don't you?  Maybe you haven't known me long enough to guess... 
I've done it many times, your Honor!  And I will probably do it again! (cue my utter collapse on the witness stand.)  
 I have answered some truly silly questions about my hair and my regimen.  I have answered some really great questions, too!  I have held some really intelligent, philosophical conversations about hair and femininity and race and how all of that ties the female gender together...and sets us apart...and sometimes sets us against each other.  I would say that I have had the Forbidden Request issued to me EQUALLY from Whites and Blacks!  YES..BLACK GIRLS WANNA TOUCH MY HAIR!! You should have seen me sweat as I frantically searched my mental index for the subsections to this rule book to see if it did not apply if another one of my own race asked!  Where the heck were the amendments??  Who is editing this rule book anyway??  
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or last; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV

Listen, I don't judge anyone for having their personal boundaries.  Do what makes you comfortable and gives your soul peace.  All I am asking is that you do not judge me for doing what gives my soul peace.  Sometimes we can choose to exercise a little bit of patience and understanding and it can go a long way to build bridges between females.  I have White sisters who have bi-racial children and White sisters who have adopted Black children and White sisters who have Black adopted/step siblings.  Can't they catch a pass on this unwritten rule?  They have bridges to build!  I have White sisters who want to know better so they can say and do and believe better! I applaud you if you genuinely want to understand the complexities of textured, ethnic hair.   And if a 10 second moment (I think longer than that should come with dinner and a movie) during which I demystify this one physical feature that has been such a point of social and sexual contention for hundreds of years can assist them toward understanding...I will consent.  

In that moment you will connect with a part of my soul.  You will connect with an inanimate object that somehow conveys life.  I will forgive you if your purposes are self serving for asking and touching because the only thing that changed is that now I know how you think whereas before I could only postulate.  But the opportunity to show the patience of love and the hope of love in believing you really want to educate yourself will most times be under my heavy consideration.  I don't like leaving the awkward moment knowing that may have been a moment of enlightenment and reconciliation for both of us.  Don't get me wrong, I am not open to being a 24/7 petting zoo! It's not that serious and it is a judgement call.  I don't always say, "Yes." .... But don't say I won't.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Growth

I love looking at postings of women who have chronicled their hair growth by taking photos of their hair from one month to the next.  "The Natural Hair Journey" seems to make for really good reading as long as you can see them locks hitting a new goal post!  TWA, Chin Length, Shoulder Length, Arm Pit Length, Bra Strap Length.....git it gurl!  Mark those milestones!  It can get a bit obsessive in some cases, but I'm no hater...if that is what keeps you motivated to care for the Crown, then do so.  My hair type doesn't grow down, it grows OUT!  So, the call to mark my progress isn't really that strong. Besides, my "Blonde Ambitions" keep me in my color new growth is easy to see without a full stretch out.  Dark roots = yep, she's still growing...back to twisting!  But, there is a Spiritual Stretch Out that I do like to chronicle. No photos...but I definitely take a picture in my heart.
Ah, yes.  YAAAASSSS!!  There comes that moment when you stretch it out.  You know what I mean?  Just breathe for a second and take a quick look around you to assess where you are.  It's kind of a second of living in the "Hyper-Present".  I call it that because it seems as if I am completely receptive to all that is happing around me in that moment.  I can actually feel my life flowing through me rather than happening to me! It doesn't happen often enough with me because I am usually doing battle with all of the mental beasts that keep me either analyzing the past or designing the future.  Nevertheless, the moments do come when I clear my headspace and allow for the Hyper-Present.  And in that moment I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and resolution.  I am complete.  I am whole.  I am at rest with all that was and all that will be.  I am fully aware.  
"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." 
 Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV
I love how this little passage makes it so obvious how pleasant it is to dwell in your Hyper-Present.  God Himself is saying to His people, "HEY! Don't waste time on that old stuff..and don't worry about what's ahead...I've got that.  Open up your mind and heart to see what I am doing around you right now!  Don't you feel it?!"   I dig that.  I completely dig a God who is big enough to suspend the before and after photos so that we can completely focus on the new growth of NOW.  Breathing it in with joy and thankfulness.  Spilling it over to infect those in our circle of influence.  Surely, the time spent alone with Him is designed to do just that: Hyper-Present us into His Hyper-Presence.  Yes....I can fee the growth.  No selfie necessary.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Color Me Natural!

So, the new year rolled in and as usual I was feeling the urge to splurge.....ON HAIR COLOR!!!  Those who know me well also know that in my relaxer days, the one thing that remained constant in my life was my love affair with a color bottle.  From jet black to chestnut brown to romantic auburn to raging red to bubbly shade was off limits!  Highlights, lowlights or full on color swap...I really never had an issue with giving something new a try.  Especially as the seasons would change, I would get the overwhelming drive to make a change with them.  It sort of became a signature for me...color.
After my conversion to growin' the 'fro, I was much more focused on figuring out how to care for this new life force that had taken over my head!!  But once I had acheived some length (or in my case VOLUME), I decided that I wanted to try to bring some color back to my life.  My off-black tresses didn't really express who I was, in my opinion.  So, it was time for phase two of my experiment.
After trying henna (and loving it) I decided that I wanted more color than what pure henna over black hair would give me.  The color bottle was CALLING!  I had made up my mind on it, but I found it facinating what other Naturalistas had to say about whether a Natural who picks up a bottle of Lightest Blonde is really staying true to the game!  Some believed that the entire point of being natural was to allow whatever was on your head simply "be"....color included.  The discussions got a bit heated here and there.  It is really interesting to me the ways we will find to draw lines amongst ourselves...even when we don't have to!
~by Enrico Donati~
I Corinthians 12:12-13 " For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit."
Just do you!  The sooner you get to it the better!  There is no carbon copy way to be yourself.  There is no formula.  One of the biggest criticisms of Christianity is that we are brainwashed robots who have sold our identities to claim a Savior....WHAT?!  That is SO off base!  On the contrary, it is the freedom that Christ gives that brings out the best and the brightest in our personalities.  It allows us to blossom into who we were always meant to be.  In the same way, going natural should release you.  It should give you a freedom and confidence in who you are...who you were always meant to be!  This can be interpreted in twists, locs, braids, 'fros, updos, blowouts, threading...and yes, COLOR!  As long as the statement is true to you, it can bring vibrancy and life everywhere you walk.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

To Chop or Not to Chop...

Black Hair and Flowers by Fazlalizadeh
So, let's talk about TRANSITIONING.  Yep, I said it.  I am gonna dive head first into this one.  I ran into a gorgeous sister today who is also a dear sister in Christ.  She is ready...SO ready, to unveil her natural coils but for some reason she believes that she doesn't have enough hair yet.  She isn't sold yet on how she will look with short hair.  I continued to encourage her and told her my story, how I started with literally two snaps of hair because I went for the Big Chop less than a month after my last relaxer.  She is currenty wearing a beautifully done set of braids back off her face in an elegant ponytail, so I explained that her face will be just as prominent (and lovely) as it is now.  But the conversation took a turn when she used a word that truly bothered me.  She said she was "Afraid."
I see a lot of information on transitioning from relaxed to natural hair.  And though I appreciate that not everyone wants to simply cut off all their relaxed locks to unleash their natural glory, the REASONS behind why they choose to wait are important.  It is upsetting that society has done such a complete job of shaping our self-image and concept of our sexuality that we have forgotten (or at least pushed to the wayside) the image that God has laid out for us.  Delaying the unveiling of your true hair delays the process of accepting your true self.
Song Bird by Wendy Nikolle'
II Timothy 1:7 "For God gave us a spirit not of Fear but of Power and Love and Self-Control." ESV
There is nothing wrong with preferring to transition to natural rather than go cold turkey.  But for the sake of your soul, I encourage you not to.  Just like there is something beautiful about planting a seed and watching it grow...just like looking back on the baby pictures of a child and seeing how they developed to the person they are now...there is something amazing about watching your hair emerge and transform into it's natural crown.  There is beauty in the journey of great hair days and days when you are tempted to go back to relaxing or to hide your tresses under a wig.  It takes discipline and stamina to be dertermined to shatter the image of what you have been taught to believe your hair should look like and discover the person that has always been there.  Your beautiful, natural self. 
The Holy Spirit gives grace and strength to do all things...ALL things.  If indeed it is to glorify God by re-claiming the vessel that He designed, then He can give you patience to get to that goal.  If you must transition, don't let it become your crutch.  Wean yourself from the extras as soon as you can gather the Divine strength to do so.  It may feel awkward or over-exposed at first, but the rewards of watching yourself transform as the months go by will make it well worth the temporary sacrifice of false image.  Bloom on, my sisters.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Tall Drink of Water!

In exchange for living on an island paradise, there is a basic issue that one must accept:  You may not always be able to get what you want when you want it!
I have fallen deeply in love with aloe vera juice (AVJ as it is known in the natural hair culture)!  My need is serious, y'all.  I am firmly convinced that AVJ is 99% water and 1% pixie dust as it handles so many of my issues with one blow!  Between the instant moisture from the water content and the cuticle sealing effect from its acidic ph, AVJ is my homey, lover, doubt!  So, you can imagine the bone chilling horror that raced through my very SOUL when my dealer local pharmacy told me that they would not have any more until "probably" next week!  PROBABLY??!! Perhaps I wouldn't have fainted if it wasn't for the fact that this was the same answer I got LAST week!!  My hair week flashed in front of my eyes- How will I detangle?  Who would moisten my 'fro in the mornings....and afternoons.......heck, who am I kidding, evenings, too?  Will my scalp revolt? What will my Jojoba/Shea mix say?  What is the POINT of going on?! 
Suddenly, I realized that I hadn't fainted but had experienced a cinematic montage in my mind's eye and was standing there with my mouth slightly open and blankly glaring at the assistant.  She repeated, "Is there anything else I can help you with?"  Too ashamed to confess my addiction, I casually reached for some glycerin, epsom salt and a Burt's Bees tinted lip mouth.
Mind you, there are many ways for me to survive until next week.  It may take some doing, but it's far from impossible.  I have to laugh at myself when I realize just how uppity I have become that plain old water is now no longer good enough to satisfy the moisture my hair craves and that my fingers have better things to do than to personally address any tangles that may pop up in the next week.  It's amazing that to me how quickly I forget that there are some things that I can truly live without if I had to do so.  Having them makes things easier, but they still aren't essential to my survival.  Interestingly enough, I am back to something that is essential: least for this week.  Water is a staple of life that we really WOULD die without.  I think I may use this momentary AVJ shortage as a teachable moment for my kinky-coily soul....
LisyX byWendy Nikolle'
"As the deer pants for flowing streams, so my soul pants for you, O God."  Psalm 42:1 ESV
My observation on myself is that there have been many times that I have neglected to feed my dry soul with the Living Water of the Word of God. Perhaps I tried to replace meetings with Him with some other activity that seemed fufilling.  Do I thirst for Him daily?  One of many rules listed in the "Naturalista's Guide to Happy Hair" is no matter what routine or products your hair may respond to, try to be consistent.  Consistent may be defined as daily, weekly or monthly depending on the treatment.  But you can definitely tell the difference if you miss a step or short cut it.  Sometimes I forget that returning to the Well of Living Water is not a luxury...its a necessity.  The Holy Spirit is constantly calling to us but it is up to us to answer the call.  And whether its a call for a deep treatment or just a refreshing spritz in the middle of the day, we should all thirst for the meeting.  It keeps us responsive to His Will and ready for His service.  My AVJ is awesome and I will sho 'nuf be in the front of the line when the shipment lands.  But until then, the water in my spray bottle will serve to remind me that there is a more vital nourishment that I truly cannot live without.  Don't try to replace it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happy to be Nappy?

Recently I was in conversation with a beloved and beautiful, natural sister who made a few very disturbing statements.  She seems not to understand why any woman with a hair texture more pronounced than a 3c (I ONLY use that term to help bring visual context) would go natural anyway.  There does not seem to be any beauty in those textures to her eye (she herself being about a 3a with very fine strands).  She has developed a quote that she teasingly claims she wants to put on a t-shirt, "Natural is Beautiful.  Nappy is Not!"  I think this was meant to be a comment toward sisters whose texture is just too tight to try a little harder not to let those dry, kinky tendencies show!  Now y'all know I was totally red, right?!  But, seeing as she is my senior I sufficed to respond to her, "Well, unfortunately my DNA says, 'Nappy', so..."  I saw the slight change in her face as I think she picked up that she may have offended me a bit.  But I tried not rub it in.  And I also sensed that this would be the wrong time to school my elder on the "New School" philosophies of natural hair. To be fair, she is not the only "mature" lady to comment on my Nouveau Boheme hair expression.  A dear sister at church (also a natural, kept in a neatly trimmed fade and always gelled for maximum 3a curl definition) RELIGIOUSLY asks me, "Child! What you gonna do with that head?" EVERY TIME she sees me...audience notwithstanding!  I actually think that as my 'fro continues to expand, she is genuinely getting more and more concerned!  Even my own mother has let an off-color comment slip everynow and then!  She has made it abundantly clear that her favorite look on myself and my two daughters is dependable, predictable twists.  "Afterall, twists CAN go in a ponytail! AND you can better see how LONG your hair REALLY is!", as she self-conciously pats in her own 3b TWA.
One of the basic tenants of the Naturalista Movement is unapologetic acceptance of your natural texture, no matter what it may be.  This still seems to escape some.  The elephant in the Naturalista room is that being natural is cool, AS LONG AS you can manage to achieve some level of curl definition or silky appearance.  Otherwise, why on earth would you go natural at all, right?  It is like we mentally still bear the scars of the slave chains that used to wrap around our wrists.  The choice to freely express your ethnicity is OK, just as long as it doesn't embarrass me by fitting into a stereotype that I desperately want to leave behind!  I would go as far as saying that "Nappy" is the new "N" word.  Even those of us who accept the texture as having its own beauty can shudder if someone mentions the word "Nappy".  So what is a girl to do when the "N" word actually does apply?
Alter Ego by Wendy Nikolle'
"Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32 ESV
One must remember to be gracious to those who came up in a different time or culture than what we are in now.  If someone 20+ years your senior who has gone natural but still insists on religiously straightening her hair and shuns any treatment regimens that include methods that may seem too "ethnic" criticizes your wild twist-out, rebellious fro-hawk or motherland Bantu knots, be gentle with your judgement of their mentality and intentions.  They have their reasons why they feel the way they feel.  Their beauty has also been placed on the measuring scales of society by many before you and there is no telling by what means they were conditioned to judge that beauty.  This is an awkward time for the matrons of our respective ethnic backgrounds.  Times have changed and sisters are generally embracing a more irreverent and less standardized system of beauty.  For every head shake or question mark expression I receive from the mothers, I get 25 complements from both men and women of ALL ethnicities who are generally WITHIN my generation! This perception differential can drive a wedge even further between ourselves and the women who desire to mentor us if we allow it.  And insulting their intellectual or spiritual aptitude based upon a misdirected opinion is not really fair to them. Nor is it edifying to our own souls. The healing that takes place on the journey of embracing the "you" God created should also extend to those who may not fully espouse the concept in totality.  "Angry Naturalista" is NOT the business!  Just ain't a good look, ya know?
So, we should learn to pick our battles.  Learn that not every woman of color is going to agree with you.  They may be smiling dead in your face and secretly thanking God, "At least I don't have THAT hair!"  That should be forgiven.  They may be rambling on and on about how they only need water and a dime of conditioner for their locks and just don't understand all this oil and butter that everyone is ranting about.  Let it go.  Bloom the Naturalista from the inside out.  Your crown begins to glow when the texture of your heart is seen rather than the texture of your hair.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tangle Beef!

Centric by XSUDEZ
Can I just take a minute to say...I HATE detangling my hair!  I mean, seriously.  Just typing the word makes my tongue go dry and I start to perspire slightly on my top lip!! C'mon you guys!!  I can NOT be alone in this!  Really!  Doesn't the tension in your neck begin to build from Wednesday night just thinking about the effort that Saturday is going to entail.  Now, I know some sisters have these AMAZING regimines which include finger detangling, copious amounts of some exotic oil, two strand twisting or some such styling and several hours of romantic comedies.  As much as I aspire to such dedication with my 'fro, I would be a liar of the highest degree to even remotely claim that I ascribe to the same disciplines.  For me, my extra wide tooth comb, a new botte of Burt's Bees conditioner and an uninterrupted shower (thanks to hubby running interference with the kiddos) and that is all I've got in me.  Or, in that case, time for!  I know I should then graduate to the, slightly finer, wide tooth comb and then protectively style to ensure stretching my coils and ensuring a better detangle next time.  That amongst mountains of other advice that I am sure I should be taking to make the experience less traumatic next time around....but do I do it.....nah!  Apparently, though my left brain knows what should be done, my free spirit, hippie right brain somehow still believes that the Detangle Fairy will appear on Friday night and I will arise Saturday morning with easily manuverable tresses!  Don't bet your Kinky~Curly on it!!  How is it we can know better but not do better?

Newness of Morning by Raheli's Brush
Galatians 5:1  "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."  NKJV

It is so easy to slide into old habits....and to justify them!  Even when we know that doing things the right way may be more challenging but will save us headache in the long run.  Yet, somehow we wallow in the stubborness of it all.  Really, avoiding the "tangles" of life has more to do with busying ourselves doing what we should be doing.  Then there is less room to fall into it if we are too busy doing the opposite of it.  In this verse, Paul was telling us all to basically stick to what we know works!  Once we understand the freedom we have in Christ, stand firm in it so that we don't allow the slavery of sin to take us hostage!  A steady regimine of communing with the Lord will definitely cut down on having to do major Spirtual Surgery on a regular basis!  It doesn't have to be a complex regimine, just something tailored to our Spiritual needs and sincere to the soul.  Detangling the difficult areas of our life is a daily process.  It must be done carefully and steadily.  Prepare to loose a few things and sometimes we have to cut some knots out!  But the Holy Spirit is a great conditioner and He can make the process a whole lot smoother if we allow Him!