Monday, September 30, 2013

We are knee deep into the last 90 days of the year.  Some of us have taken this opportunity to assess our situation and develop strategies for reaching our intentions (or at least getting much closer) by the end of the year.  Things like this always tend to start out well, don't they?  Then we come in contact with something that somehow stops us from taking action.  Author Steven Pressfield calls this thing "resistance."  Resistance sounds like some outside force with immeasurable power.  I choose to give it a label that allows me the power to address it directly.  Two words are enough to capture the essence of what stops us from taking the action that we know we should take.

Thoughts & Feelings.

Does this sound familiar? You tell yourself that you'll start working out tomorrow.  Next morning comes and you think to yourself "I'll do it later." This type of scenario has been happening with me for the past week or so.  So many things were placed on the back burner in the name of getting it done at a later time. I needed this scenario to stop repeating itself so I looked at the situation objectively and understood what was really happening.

Why wasn't I doing "the thing" when I should have done it?  Because I didn't feel like it.  When I didn't feel like it, expressed my liberties and chose to go along with my "feelings."  Problem with all of this is that our feelings do not want the same things we want.  It behaves like a toddler who kicks and screams when it doesn't get exactly what it desires.  Our feelings cause us to make stupid choices in the present that negatively impact us in the long run. Our feelings only care about the now.  They do whatever it takes to help us avoid immediate "pain" but instead we find ourselves dealing with the aftermath of the poor choices.

The problem with all of this is how real our feelings are to us.  They evoke strong emotions which further influences our behavior.  In keeping with the toddler analogy, let's imagine that a young child was allowed to do anything and everything it felt like.  What would that child's life be like?  We all know that probably wouldn't end well.  That's why children need guardians to force them to do things they don't feel like doing. Every day, they are forced to bathe, eat their vegetables, brush their teeth, say please/thank you, put away their toys, use their inside voice etc.  If the child takes heed and does the things she doesn't want to do, she ultimately grows up to be a well functioning adult.  At some point in her life, she no longer has an authority figure telling her to do the things she doesn't feel like doing.  What happens then?

Ideally, she becomes the kind of person who can "make herself" do things she doesn't feel like doing for the sake of her long term goals.  Looking back at my actions for the past couple of weeks, I noticed dozens of missed opportunities where I chose to do the things I felt like doing instead of doing what needed to be done.  Once I became aware of this, I had to do something to stop it.  A technique I used was to ask myself a question whenever I decided to break a promise to myself.  I would ask "what is the reason that I don't want to do XYZ?"  If the reason feel somewhere in the vicinity of "I didn't feel like it" or if I was trying to avoid something, then I would immediately have to do it.  The only time I was excused from taking an immediate action is if there was a legitimate reason (like I had to do something of greater priority).  If there was no higher priority then I was operating out of my feelings like a four year old and I had to get over it.

This technique didn't work 100% of the time but it helped me increase my awareness and improve my chances of snapping out of the procrastination pattern.  As I continue to practice it, I'm sure that muscle will get stronger.  I realize now just how often I fall into the trap of not doing WHAT I KNOW I SHOULD DO just because I don't feel like it.  If I look back at my day, I should have done at least 3 things even though my feelings were not aligned.

 This kinda reminds me of a study done years ago where children where left in a room with a plate of goodies. They were asked to avoid eating the cookies for a specific period of time. Those who did would ultimately receive a greater reward.  In that room, there were no parents to keep them from eating the delicious treats. They had to make that choice.  Those who chose to delay gratification were found to be more successful later on in life than the kids who chose immediate enjoyment.  We can all learn from those youngins who had the self discipline needed to think beyond what was in front of them.  For every time I'm tempted to take the easy way out, I'll think of what I'm giving up in the long run.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I have been in hair heaven ever since I first learned about Kamechon and Silicon Mix.  My first couple of experiences were so delightful that I decided to dive in and expose myself to as many varieties as I could get my hands on.

So now I have a gang of 'em!  They're like my new little family.  Since my little collection is growing, I think it's a good time to assess my purchases to see which one(s) I like & will repurchase again. Although I've only used them once or twice, there are a couple which are becoming obvious favorites.  Here's a run down of my babies so far:

Kanechom Goat Milk  {Restores and Strengthens}

+ Main Benefits: Contains Hydrolyzed Milk & Wheat Protein  || Lightly Scented. || Thick Creamy, Moisturizing Feel.

 Will I Reorder?  Yes because of the strengthening/moisturizing qualities. Will help my hair maintain strength in between protein treatments.

Kanechom Shea Butter { Moisturizes & Promotes Healthy Hair} 

+Main Benefits:  The most moisturizing of all the Kanechom products I own.  Contains Hydrolized Keratin as last ingredient.  Perfect for keeping moisture balance in my hair.  Will be the base for my protein treatments when ever I use Pure Protein in the future.  I'm in love with the texture of this product.  It reminds me of a better version of Suave Milk & Honey which was discontinued years ago.

Will I Reorder?  Yes! Yes! Yes!

Kanechom Intense Care { Mega Hydration}

+Main Benefits:  Contains Hydrolyzed Corn, Wheat, Soy protein.  ||  Thick and rich

Will I Reorder? Not sure.  For some reason I thought it would be even more hydrating than my Shea Butter.  This is  more of a nourishing product.  I think this Intense Care is better suited for extremely damaged hair.  At the moment, my hair is "normal."  The fact that Intense Care is so thick & nourishing isn't a bad thing (it's a really good thing) , I just think I was expecting something different. Maybe instead of calling it Mega Hydration, they should call it Mega Repair.  It's still moisturizing like all of the others but, with a name like Mega Hydration, you better come correct.

Kanechom Acai {Moisturizing & Strength}

++ Main Benefits:  No obvious proteins listed in the ingredient list.  Contains several fruit extracts including Acai, which are hydrolyzed for better penetration into the strands.   Mild fruity scent.

Will I Reorder?  Yes.  Very moisturizing. Also a good base to mix with my Pure Protein. Will act as back up staple conditioner because the Shea Butter is often out of stock.

Kanechom Ceramidas { For dry/damaged hair}

++ Main Benefit:  Ceramides in the form of Hexyl Cinnemal, which the representative from Kanechom stated was a "pharmaceutical name for ceramide" after I contacted her.  I'm so used to ceramide in the form of 2-oleamido and 1-3 octadecanediol which I often see in my Biolage Ceramide products.  From what I know of Hexyl Cinnemal,  it naturally occurs in chamomile.  I did a quick search of it and couldn't find much information that defined it as a ceramide.  I'm not saying that it isn't.  What I am saying is that in a couple other products I found online containing this ingredient, they also included other ceramides in the formulation.  My very unscientific conclusion is that it probably isn't a highly concentrated ceramide.

Will I Reorder?  Probably not.  I think I will stick to Cera Repair as the main ceramide product in my regimen.

One thing I should also mention is during my email interactions with a rep from Kanechom, she made a recommendation that I try the Dark Chocolate conditioner.  She asserted that the Dark Chocolate would be "very hydrating for textured hair."  So I hopped on over to Amazon to see what folks were saying.  The reviews were pretty positive so I'm adding to my wish list.

Oh, I should also mention that the woman who helped answer my questions graciously offered up two coupon codes that expire September 30, 2013.  The first code FIVE will take $5.00 off your order.  The second code FREE will save you on shipping and handling costs.  You can take advantage of the code by visiting the Kanechom site.  I will not receive any compensation if you chose to take advantage of the offers.  All of the conditioners seen here were purchased by a crazy woman who is obsessed with conditioners (me).

Monday, September 23, 2013

Last month, when I posted an article on how to manifest anything you want, I received a request to share some of my favorite personal development books. I thought this was a great idea.  I've read, and listened to, countless inspiration/motivational books over the years,  but instead of going backwards in time, I thought I would start this series by sharing some of what I'm currently reading.

Not too long ago, I downloaded a new book for reading on my long flights.  I picked up a copy of Goal Digger, by Alicia Dunams.  Alicia defines a "goal digger" as a woman who desires wealth in all areas of her life, seeks the secrets of the millionaire mind, and has the smarts, optimism, and passion to do it herself."  This book intrigued me because I have long wanted to understand the mindset and thought process of millionaires.

Alicia, back in her dating prime was courted by several millionaires after being told by Nicole Murphy, at a New Year's Eve party,  that she was too pretty to struggle in life and that she should date rich.  Alicia took that advice after her, then boyfriend also mysteriously told her the same thing.  Days later, she sees an episode of a talk show where Millionaire Matchmaker, Patti Stanger, is featured.  Alicia read all the signs and decided to plunge into the world of relationships with wealthy men.

Here's where it gets interesting, instead of plotting to find one to marry and settle comfortably with, Alicia finds herself asking them detailed questions about how they made their millions.  With each wealthy man, Alicia picks up more and more insight into the common (thought) factors of the rich.  Alicia's life changed when, one day, a millionaire boyfriend leaned over to her and said that she too was industrious enough to become a millionaire.  From that moment on, she shifted her mindset from being a person on the outside looking in, to someone who could create the same level of success as the men she dated.

I'm not too far along in the book, but so far I'm really enjoying it. The lessons I'm learning aren't new but they have a different connotation when coupled with real life examples of how successful individuals applied the principles in their lives.  For instance "Mr Smooth," one of her exes, carried an index card in his wallet that listed his goals for the year which he pulled out and read every morning.  Alicia shared an experience with Mr. Smooth when he took her to secret location where guest were only allowed access by speaking the words "Abracadabra!"  Alicia, asked him what those words meant.  He looked at her and said, "I create as I speak."  From that day on she practiced the "Abracadabra" principle for everything she desired in life.

I'm not in a hurry to finish this book.  Instead I'd rather marinate on the concepts and ideas  & lessons while practicing them on a daily basis.  I know that if I do the things that fit people do, I will become fit.  If I do the things that happy people do, I will become happy.  If I do the things that wealthy people do, I too will become wealthy.  Once I had a dream/vision that I met a very wealthy man.  He was very busy so I only had time to ask him one question.  I asked him, what is the ONE thing can make someone successful.  He looked at me and with a single word he answered, "choices."  Instantly I awoke and began to think about what he said to me.  It's not about waking up one day and having the keys to success, it's about the choices we make moment by moment that creates our reality.

I'm really enjoying this book.  And at only $2.99 I am receiving much more value than I invested.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lately, my work schedule has been out of control.  So by the time the weekend comes around, I'm completely ready to enjoy it.  Today I decided to go to a favorite spot in town for brunch.  For once we got there early enough to grab a good seat before the Sunday crowd formed.

I ordered one of my favorite appetizers, a crab artichoke dip.  This time, however, the skimped on the crab so I vowed to learn how to recreate my own version of it that I can enjoy with as much crab as I want.   Look out for the recipe once I get it down.

After brunch, I strolled the shopping area on the hunt for any cute finds.  Unfortunately, I came up empty handed this time around.

Wearing camouflage jeans from GAP.  Similar pair here. Fergie heels. Top from H&M.  Next weekend is The Makeup Show!  I can't wait.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lately, it seems like everything most of my purchases are following a similar theme.  Faux leather mixed with different fabrics.

It began with my Calvin Klein heels (which are thee most comfortable pair of heels I own).  Since then I've added several other pieces which feature leather  blended with fabrics.  I'm in love with my black and white skirt I picked up this week.

(similar skirt *on sale* ASOS )

The other piece I snagged also featured a leather accent.  This lovely dress perfect for fall.  My eyes immediately were drawn to the faux leather neckline and and the detailing on the belt.

( dress || House of Couture boutique || bag Chanel So Black)

I'm in love with the neutral brown color, the material, and the length of this dress.  Technically, this piece is a bit too big for me but I had to get it anyway because I adore it so much.  Can not wait to get the perfect pair of boots that will finish this look.

Even though I'm well aware that I'm partial to faux leather, I'm not slowing down.  I'd actually like to experiment with adding even more pieces to my collection.  Including a solid leather skirt and a pair of pants similar to these.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

This  post is the third installment in a series of conversations we have with a hip length blogger by the name of Yahya, If you haven't had a chance to read Yahya's regimen in this post, stop whatever you are doing and head over there now.....I'll wait.

Her regimen is so detailed that I'm sure everyone learned from her sharing.  Me included.  Days prior to learning about her regimen, I was going for a walk when a thought crossed my mind.  I reflected back to scalp massage session I was engaged in prior to bed.  The good news was that my hair didn't shed much at all during the session.  I attribute that to my daily scalp massages.   Now here's the bad news, the amount of short broken hairs, although not excessive, was too much for my taste.  I thought to myself "if there was a way to stop, or minimize the breakage to my ends, I would be forever grateful."  After sharing my intentions, I allowed myself the freedom to continue to focus on other thoughts, knowing the answer would somehow appear.  
Little did I know that a solution would come to me within days.  As I'm reading Yahya's regimen, I happen upon a line that stopped me dead in my tracks.  When she said "another thing I do to my ends is to treat it with more protein than the rest of my hair," it was like a bolt of lightning struck me.  Everything she said made complete sense.  I was so intrigued by her comment that I reached out to her to find out more detail around her process.  

Here's what she stated:

"In between every other wash, like every week and a half, I co-wash my ends with a protein conditioner. Only my ends.  This also helps give my hair  some volume.  Sometimes, if I feel my ends really need it, I'll baggy them after co-washing, like a little deep conditioning treatment.  Half the time when I use protein throughout my hair, I don't apply to my new growth, especially if it's a medium or heavy protein.  When I start flat ironing my new growth, what I will do is add some protein ingredients to my caramelization treatment to give it a little extra strength against direct heat." 

 I was not privy to her exact process last week when I first posted her regimen.  But I was still excited about the idea of focusing protein on the ends.  So I decided to do something a little different last wash day.  It was time to do a strengthening treatment using my Pure Protein.  (*Side note* I love Pure  Protein because it can be used with my favorite moisturizing conditioner.  This helps me avoid having overly stiff hair following my by-weekly protein treatments.**)   I added half a capful, to a small portion my Silicon and Kamechon mix and proceeded to apply the deep conditioner  to the ends of my hair (probably the last 3 inches or so).  Once done, I waited for 15-20 minutes before mixing in more conditioner to the blend to dilute its protein contents. Then I applied it to the rest of my hair.  So the conditioner on my ends had greater protein levels then on the length of my hair and the conditioner remained on my ends longer than the rest of my hair.

Did this work?  You bet it did!  I have noticed less breakage overall but more importantly, fewer of the little broken pieces which have plagued me for so long.  I manipulated my hair quite a bit with finger styling just to make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. Although it didn't stop my breakage 100%, I do see the potential in this process adding even more strength to my hair as time goes on.  It's been a while since my ends have felt as strong as they are now.  This will make a huge impact in retention in the long run.  Thank you again Yahya, for helping to inspire us.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My skin care journey is really coming along.  So far I've successfully addressed my biggest concern--active breakouts.  Don't get me wrong, I still get a stray pimple or two, every blue moon, but they are much less viscous & intimidating than the ones I experienced in the past. Even when one does appear, it starts feeling really lonely and goes away just as quickly as it came.

Now I'm ready to move on to the next phase in my journey.  It's time to get serious about these scars that represent my past struggles.  I'm ready to crush them. Better yet, I'm ready to erase them from existence.  

Here's the issue.  If I actually touch some of my scars.  Many of them can be felt below the surface of my skin.  It's like an ice berg that peaks it's head above the waters while hiding it's massive size just below the surface.  I also have some very mild ice pick scars from previous breakouts that also need to be eradicated.  Now I really wish I would have listened when people were telling me to stop picking at my pimples. 

Enough looking back, I'm ready to do this!  We're rounding out the last 90 days of the year and I'd like to finish strong so I can start next year with gorgeous skin.  Because a lot scarring lays beneath the surface, I'll be taking a different approach than before.  Instead of fade creams, I'm looking for something that can proactively penetrate the deepest  layers of the skin, while promoting the formation of new collagen to replace my old damaged cells.  

Here's what I've come up with so far.  It'll be a 3 step approach:

01.  Surface Exfoliation
       + Continue manual exfoliation via (sugar scrubs)
       + Utilize my PMD tool (personal microderm abrasion) once a week.

02.  Collagen Production/Cell Turnover
       + Retin A cream nightly 
       + Continue consumption of Neo Cell Collagen powder in morning smoothies.

03.  Below the surface stimulation/Collagen Production
       + Utilize my dermal roller tool 1-2 X per week.
       + If necessary, purchase professional dermal roller/needle sessions from licensed practitioner.

I've owned my PMD tool for well over a year and can count on both hands the number of times I've used it.  Last year, I was having a discussion with a woman at my local Nieman Marcus location.  She told me that if I used it weekly, it would change my skin.  I didn't listen then but I'm ready to do this now.  There are some pretty convincing before and after pics of results from using it.  I'm ready for  the return on my investment.  

Retin A is said to promote rapid cell turnover.  I hope this works to speed up the process of getting rid of the remnants of my old scars.  Again, just like my PMD, Retin A only works to it's fullest potential as long as I am consistent.  As new cells are created, my hope is that the NEO Cell collagen supplement is there to feed them so they are as healthy and vibrant as possible.  

Finally, if all of this doesn't work, I'm ready to pull out the big guns.  I have a couple derma rollers that I bought a couple years ago but didn't use because I was concerned they would aggravate my acne.  What are derma rollers, you ask?  Well, derma rollers are these little roller things with tiny needles ranging in different sizes.  You roll them on your skin causing minor trauma.  The trauma promotes collagen production as the skin attempts to heal itself.  I know this sounds like an ancient mid evil times torture device, but trust me, the result, over time, is fresh younger looking skin.  This method, they say, is very effective for deep rooted scarring and for erasing stretch marks.  

I suspect that all if this will work but, if not, my last resort will be to purchase a series of derma roller treatments at the hands of a professional.  They have access to longer needles (which can go even deeper) and they understand the techniques which create the best outcome.  I know that all of this may sound a bit excessive but I feel like I'm so close, I can taste it.  Similar to someone who is running a long distance race and sees the finish line up ahead.  Suddenly I have this burst of energy and I'm willing to run faster to reach my goal.  

One thing I realize is that I've had all the tools available to me for quite a while now.  What was missing was my own consistency.  Without my consistent action, my skin does not get any better.  This past weekend I broke out my dermal roller, did a brief session before applying my Retin A and other night products.  Days later I used my Personal Microdermabrasion tool.  Today, my skin already is showing some improvement.  I'll keep repeating this process and, 90 days from now, I'll be glad I did. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Since the start of September, I've been thinking a lot about my goals.  More importantly, there's this feeling I have like the next several months of this year will probably be the most critical of 2013.

Normally, I take the last two weeks of the year off and prepare for the year ahead.  I plan my goals, I visualize, I strategize and do other things to get ready for January 1, 2014.  That worked well enough for me but I'm ready to raise my standards and take this process to the next level.

Now is a perfect time to get aligned and reconnected to my goals because there are approximately 90 days left in the year (give or take).  This 90 day time span is perfect for creating laser like focus.  Instead of waiting for January 1, 2014 to get started, I'm taking a totally different approach.  I want to gain a huge head start.  Three months from now, I see myself having achieved (or made huge progress) in most of my goals.  By the time the new year rolls around, I want be creating new intentions, not carrying around left over goals from the previous year.

My process will look something like this:

01.  I will take inventory of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year or create new ones.

02.  I then set some clear, specific, realistic goals for the next 90 days.

03.  Once my intentions are identified and written down, I think of actions I can take every day to help me reach those goals.

Because 90 days isn't a long time, the only way to make measurable impact in that time frame is to take some sort of action related to my goal on a daily basis (or close it). Another benefit to this 90 day plan is the ability to create milestones along the way.  I can see myself creating 3 milestones (1 every 30 days or perhaps even weekly) to check in and see how I'm doing and to see if I need to make drastic shifts, along the way, to still achieve my outcome.

I was watching a Youtube video the other day on goals.  The guy teaching the session said something that struck me.  He said that too many times, we fail to reach our goal and simply accept that outcome.  Instead, he challenged the viewers to utilize milestones to figure what we need to do differently so the goal is reached. No excuses.  If you set an intention to save a certain amount of money in 90 days and you find that thirty days in, you haven't made a dent in your savings, you don't simply give up, you use the milestone to set brand new actions that will still get you to your outcome by the goal date.  I know that I'm guilty of carrying a goals around  for years because my lack of intensity around making sure a goal is met. I like this new approach of doing whatever it takes to make sure the goal happens.

I feel like this ritual will be powerful for me.  Especially if I continue to practice it year after year. I see this process as a way to "set up" success for the new year.  In the game of volley ball, the team receiving the ball will usually come in contact with it three times before it crosses the net. First someone will bump the ball, then another person uses two hands to lift/push the ball in the air. Finally, a third person spikes the ball over the net in hopes of scoring a point.  The second person to touch the ball sets the team up for a possible point.  This is what we will do for the next 90 days, we are setting up for an amazing 2014.

I am so looking forward to this.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Just taking a moment to share some of the new loves in my life......

01. New Acrylic Makeup Organizer | 02.  Finally got the Marc Jacobs liquid eyeliner  (which is even more amazing than the pencil) | 03. My Voluspa Candle obsession continues | 04. Make Up Forever Camouflage Concealer Palette | 05.  Lately, I've been unusually fascinated with white & gold jewelry

Friday, September 13, 2013

I'm really excited to share this latest feature with you all.  This young lady is no stranger to us here.  We got familiar with her as she schooled us on the details of Japanese straightening.  Yahya had such great information that I asked her to come back and tell us more about what she did to create her gorgeous hair. This has to be one of my favorite features. It's chock full of valuable information that will help a lot of people.  Please sit back and enjoy.

How long have you been on your hair journey?
I started my hair journey the year entering high school, so that was approximately six years ago.

Before Japanese Straightening which relaxer did you use?  How often?
When I first started my hair journey a family friend would use Luster's Pink relaxer kit on my hair. As my journey progressed, I started to use ORS olive oil. Unfortunately, this was about the same time our family friend stopped doing my relaxers and I was having trouble on relaxer days due to being unable to find a stylists with improper technique. I would stretch for at least 12 weeks, and did it gladly as I was beginning to hate relaxer days. It seemed like every time I went to a stylist, they would either under process or over process my hair. My hair was finally saved by Hair's Talent. I think she had used Mizani.

Share a little about your daily regimen?
Sometimes everyday, sometimes every other day, sometimes every two days (it really depends on how my hair is feeling) I'll spritz my hair with my kimmaytube inspired leave-in. I use it as a moisturizer and leave-in. The ingredients I use in it changes, but the conditioner I've used include V05 conditioners, Trader Joe's nourish spa, Hello Hydration, Aubrey Organic's honeysuckle and white camellia. Oils include Trader Joe's jojoba oil, Hairveda cococasta, olive oil, and grape seed oil. After moistening my hair, I comb it with a seamless wide tooth comb. If I'm freshening up my hair from a low manipulation style, I'll only comb the straightened hair and finger detangle my new growth. About every other time I moisturize I'll seal with grape seed oil or vatika coconut oil.

What is your nightly regimen?
Hmmm... I don't really have much of a consistent night time regimen. I just tie my hair up, in a bun or braid, and go to sleep on a silk pillow. If I have a lot of new growth, sometimes I'll spritz it and sleep with a scarf so it flattens in the morning. Currently, I've been doing a personal challenge of testing all my growth aids in different ways and have been doing the *GHE (green house effect) method nightly. This has helped me in managing with my blooming new growth.

Tell us about your weekly wash routine?
This varies a lot, too!
I wash once a week, sometimes once every two weeks when new growth starts really blooming and I flat iron my roots.
I apply moisture deep conditioner, protein deep conditioner, or prepoo oil, on dry hair depending on how hair feels. I apply my deep conditioner on dry hair for better penetration as applying on wet hair blocks deep penetration due to the water. If doing a deep conditioner I'll put on a cap, wet my turban towel with hot water, and go under the dryer for 15-30 minutes. if doing a protein deep conditioner, I'll do a moisture one after washing. If a prepoo, I'll put on a cap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Unless I'm clarifying or there's build-up, shampoo is only directly applied on the scalp and roots and rinsed into the length of the hair
After cleannsing my hair, half the time I'll squeeze the excess water and follow up with Roux ph corrector.
I will follow up with a normal conditioner or moisture deep condition (if I did a protein one before washing or am clarifying). If it's a normal conditioner, I'll squeeze excess water, apply in shower, and let sit for 2-10 minutes. If I'm deep conditioning I'll squeeze excess water and gently towel or t-shirt dry hair, apply, and steam for 15-30 minutes.
Half the time, I'll rinse out half of the final conditioner and do a acv rinse. If I plan to keep my hair tied up all week, I'll do an oil rinse right after the acv rinse.
I'll rinse my hair thoroughly or un-thoroughly depending on how my hair is feeling, t-shirt dry hair, and apply my luv natural leave-in usually after it's at least 50 percent dry.
If I don't have much new growth I'll let my hair airdry 70-80 percent, apply coconut oil and/ or grape seed oil, and then comb. If I'm starting to get new growth I'll strart the scarf method before my hair is 50 percent dry.
Sometimes to manage my new growth, especially if I'm leaving my hair out, I'll do bantu knots while my hair is damp and go under the dryer. When if really starts blooming up their I'll flat-iron after the bantu knots, every two weeks.

How often do you wear your hair out versus protective styling?
My hair is always tied up at home, usually in a bun. That might change to a braided ponytail/ pigtails. So about half the time my hair tied up. During this relaxer stretch, however, I've been keeping my hair in a low manipulation style 23/7. I say 23/7 because I only really take out my braided pigtails to detangle and on wash day, maybe for a specal ocassion. This is because my current goal is to thicken my ends, and this will prevent me from loosing extra hairs due to my line of demarcation.

Do you use heat? If so, how often?

I only use direct heat throughout my hair on Japanese Straightening day, as the process requires it. When my new growth starts to bloom, sometimes after washing I'll go under a hooded dryer with damp bantu knots to semi-straighten the curl. Further in my stretch, when my new growth really starts coming in, I'll do a caramelization treatment of my new growth and flat iron my roots solely. I might not do that this stretch as I'm doing 23/7 low manipulation styles.

Please tell us the secret to your retention?
I honestly think that low manipulation styles have an advantage to protective styles. Protective styles hide your ends in order to keep them from rubbing off different surfaces, to prevent split ends. Hair rubbing on different surfaces is just one factor out of several that causes split ends. The main cause of split ends in girls with naturally dry hair is, well, dryness. Before tying my hair in a bun, I'll usually moisturize my ends exclusively before tucking them away. This kind of acts like wet bunning.

It's important to baby your ends when trying to retain length, and curing the major factors you'll see the most improvement. So when trying to prevent split ends, it's more important to keep your ends' moisture and protein balance stable. Keeping them from rubbing against surfaces is good, but it's more important to fix the biggest problem. Another thing I do to my ends is treat it with more protein compared to the rest of my hair. Our ends are the oldest parts of our hair, is has the least amount of protein while the top has the most. Therefore, the ends should get the most protein and our roots should get the least.

I said before that low manipulation styles are better, this is because I feel breakage occurs more with combing and low manipulation styles keep hair from tangling. This cuts the amount of combing and cuts the amount of breakage.

How do you maintain moisture & manage breakage?
I think it's important for chemically treated heads, especially relaxed heads, to use ph correcting supplies to correct their hair's increased porosity. This helps us keep moisture in our strands longer. I do this through roux ph corrector, apple cider vinegar rinses, aloe vera, and oil rinsing.

My regimen is mostly moisture based, as my hair's scale is about a 70 percent moisture and 30 percent protein balance. As a result, when my hair starts experiencing a little extra breakage I usually do a protein treatment. When applying protein, like stated before, I tend to do it in layers. My ends get the most, my hair up until the line of demarcation gets a normal amount, and my new growth gets the least. I find when strengthening the line of demarcation during stretching, my hair's strength becomes more even by only treating my chemically straightened hair. The most important was of knocking breakage, for me, is to do an elasticity and porosity test. This way I know I'm going in the right direction or I find out I have to temporarily change something,

Do you do anything internally to promote healthy hair?
I take a multivitamin, omega fish oil, and garlic supplements on a regular basis. That's pretty much it. Currently, I'm testing bamboo tea.

Have you experienced setbacks in your journey? If so, how did you bounce back?
My first, worst, and only major setback was about a year ago when I went through a protein overload. At first I did not sure what was going on, and so I probably was making the problem worst by not completely cutting off protein. After overcoming this episode, this lead me to make a post that labels hair symptoms in detail here. I also wrote about the regimen that finally got me out of protein overload here.

Has your regimen change before Japanese straightening vs. after?
My regimen changed quite a lot. I didn't start applying protein in layers until after Japanese straightening. I also became more casual with my hair, taking care of it more by feel than a schedule. Before, I would deep condition every wash and wash every week. And I would hardly ever deep condition before washing, it always came after. Some of these changes were due to my protein overload experience. As soon as I had gotten over my protein overload, I Japanese straightened my roots for the first time. But as most of my hair is still relaxed, the major change due to Japanese straighteing is just that the Japanese straightened section of my hair requires less product. I still treat my hair as if it's relaxed as most of it is.

You're stranded on a desert island and can only have 3 hair related items with you, what do you choose and why?
A good moisture conditioner like Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose, apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil. I picked these because I can mostly do everything I need with them. I can combine the conditioner and coconut oil to make a deep conditioner, and dilute it to make a leave-in. I can use the coconut oil as a sealant and to retain my hair's protein. Coconut oil rinsing and apple cider vinegar would keep my hair's ph in check. Acv would also keep my scalp clean. If I have a lot of new growth when I'm stranded I could also do the loc method using the diluted leave-in, the coconut oil, ad than the conditioner.

If someone who wants to reach your length as a goal, what advice would you give that person?

Don't trim your hair to get rid of split ends, trim to keep your ends even. Trimming because of split ends is kinda pointless because your not getting the splits throughout your hair, only the ones on your very ends. It makes much more sense to dust or *search and destroy.

Health should also come before length. There's no point in trying to grow your hair if your getting a considerable amount of breakage. When your hair is healthy, growth aids are a great way to gain length. I've seen some healthy hair care girls say that people see a difference with growth aids because they are taking more care of their hair, but this isn't true. I couldn't see my growth rate triple just from taking better care of my hair. Recently, I had done the GHE method for a month and got 2 inches of growth. Even more recently I did the GHE and *inversion method for a week and got another 2 inches. Everyone's head is different and what grows my hair might not grow another's, but with all the growth aids out there, there's most likely one that will increase your growth rate. Growth aids aren't mandatory for growth, you can get better growth just by keeping your hair healthy, but they sure speed up the process.
*{GHE Method}-The process of using a plastic cap to generate heat on the scalp. This will promote blood flow to the scalp and can help boost moisture levels. You can put the plastic cap on for hours at a time or go to bed with it. 

*{Inversion Method}- The process of allowing blood flow to increase to the scalp by hanging the head in a low position.  (See link for more info). 

*{Search & Destroy}-The process of eliminating split ends by trimming in very small sections or trimming individual split ends as they are visually identified. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just another visit to Youtube to kill some time....or so I thought.  Little did I know that I was about to stumble upon a video that would radically impact my current regimen.  Something inside me prompted me to click when I saw a thumbnail image of a woman swinging her honey colored tresses.  Once I clicked, her level of excitement and passion around her salon results at home intrigued me to keep watching.

Finally, after she calms down, she reveals the products which gave her such joy  The products shared were a combination of Silicon Mix and Kanechom conditioners.  The story behind this blend originates from another Youtuber who was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of her stylist mixing these two products behind the scenes.  Y'all remember those days when stylists at the Dominican salons would whip up concoctions without letting us see what was going into the blends.  We are so fortunate to have been granted knowledge of this wonderful combination.

I already owned a large tub of Silicon Mix so all I needed to do was get my hands on the Kanechom.  One trip to Amazon easily took care of that for me.  Days later, my package arrived.  My first impression? I love the size of these Kamechon conditioners.  Nowadays, I opt to only purchase large sizes so I can conduct a proper strand ceremony.  Not being familiar with the brand, I didn't know which version of the Kanechom to buy so I got two!

The Goat Milk and the Karite Butter were my first purchases.  When I took the lid off and eye balled the conditioners, I knew something great was about to happen.  They had that glossy, smooth look to them that I like.  I knew, from that moment, that I found new staples.  I freakin' love nourishing conditioners and these are super nourishing.  Not too thick (WEN 613), not too watery.  This conditioner is just right.  Of the two, the Karite Butter was much more moisturizing.

(My new boyfriend, Kanechom Keratin & Shea Butter)

The Goat's Milk is good if you are looking a moisturizing conditioner with strengthening properties.  I'm glad I got both. They seem to balance each other out.   I love these conditioners so much that I went back for more.  In my Amazon cart, I add the Kanechom Ceramide Conditioner, the Intense Care Mega Hydration Karite Butter (different package from the one I have), and the Crystal Bath.  I wanted to stop there but the rave reviews on their Acai conditioner wouldn't let me.  I'm so happy I found this line.  I wish they didn't make so many varieties cause I'm sure I'll be tempted to try them all.

(Original Silicon Mix & Proteina De Perla)

Although the original Silicon Mix is the one recommended to create this conditioner fusion.  I opted to add in my wonderful Proteina de Perla (Pearl Protein) as well.  It's always been my favorite of the Silicon Mix line.  I thought that if the original worked well, then the Proteina would take it to the next level for me since my hair likes it so much.  Boy was I right.  So far I've experimented with the Kanemchom/ Silicon Mix twice.  The second time I added the Silicon Mix Pearl Protein and loved my results much more.  The amount of slip I experienced while rinsing was unlike I've ever experienced.  I literally had to hold on to my shower door handle to make sure I didn't slip in the tub.  My hair hasn't felt as good in a long time.  It seems more resilient and better more deeply moisturized. I normally don't blow out and flat iron, but if I did, I have no doubt that it would be swinging like the girl in the video. I can't keep my hands out of it. 

Honestly, I can't see how anyone would try this combination in not fall in love.  The only thing to look out for would be eventual build up from the use of silicone.  That's why I'm keeping my Neutrogena Anti Residue clarifying shampoo near by.   Prior my Kanechom order, I also picked up some Inphenom products but I have absolutely no desire to use them. They currently sit unopened in my product closet.  That's how good this Kanechom Mix is.  Wash day is this weekend and I'm praying that my second order arrives before then so I can test out the Intense Hydrating Keratin Conditioner and the Ceramide version. 

I'll leave you with my final thoughts.  This conditioner combination is phenomenal.  You get a lot of product for the price.  I promise that you will not be disappointed.  Trust me.

Ingredients:  Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Parfum, Dimethicone, Shea Butter, Hydrolized Keratin, Citric Acid

Monday, September 9, 2013

As a follow up to my last week's motivation post about becoming Limitless, I thought I'd talk a little more about the subject of meditation.  I mentioned in that article about how meditation can help create a clear, focused mind.  When the mind is clear, you have the ability to remove so many barriers.  When the barriers are gone, anything is possible.

{My Monkey Mind}
First, let's talk about what meditation is. For me, it's is a way of clearing my mind.  My mind is often running at 100 miles per hour.  At one point I would have sworn that I have Attention Deficit Disorder.  I have a hard time staying on task and my mind gets distracted by pretty much anything.  Operating this way lowers my efficiency tremendously.  Rarely do I ever sit down to do a task and work it all the way through to completion without stopping several times to do something else.  My mind is always active with constant (random) thoughts.  The worst part about it is that I follow those thoughts as they come.  I could be sitting down, completing a task. But if my mind tells me to go check on something, I do it right away.  When I operate this way for too long, I notice a level of anxiety start to build.  I'm stressed out because I'm always moving yet accomplishing little.  Worst of all, my mind keeps shooting things at me that I need to still do which makes me even more anxious. 
This becomes a vicious cycle that takes over me unless I do something about.  The only thing that provides powerful results (for me) is meditation.  

{The Practice}
Here's how it works.  In the morning, before others are up, and while it's still quite, I set my Iphone timer for a specific time period.  Normally between 15-30 minutes.  As the clock counts down I sit comfortable in a chair, on the couch, or on a mat on the floor.  While sitting I close my eyes and begin to focus on my breath.  By focusing on my breath, I try to follow it as it travels through my body.  I feel it as it enters my nostrils, I observe as it travels down into my body, filling my lungs, expanding my belly.  As my lungs are filled, I notice.  When the exhale breath leaves my lungs and travels out of my body, I follow it.  That's it.  That's all I do. 

But here's the tricky part.  My monkey (restless) mind will not allow this practice to happen in peace.  Throughout the entire experience, thoughts are constantly being thrown at me. A feeling comes over me that I need to get up and do the things which my mind is telling me.  Emotions start to appear. Anxiety creeps in.  I follow the conversations taking place in my head.  Then..........................I notice. I notice that I'm deep within my thoughts.  I notice that I've lost focus on my breath.  So what do I do?  I find my breath again and begin to follow it once more.  This process of rampant thoughts and following the breath repeats itself dozens of times during the meditation practice.  Random thoughts. Breath. Random thoughts. Breath. Random thoughts. Breath.

When I first began the practice, I thought the goal was to cultivate the ability to sit through a session without having any thoughts appear.  This way of thinking causes a person to feel like a failure after a meditation session. You think it isn't working.  Maybe you even stop the practice altogether.  My thinking changed when I heard meditation referred to as practicing being focused. As I bring my attention back to the breath, I training my mind to be present for those times when I'm working on a task or project.  If you think about practice the way an athlete practices, the goal is not to be flawless.  The goal is to prepare and sharpen your skills for game time. 

That's exactly what happens. Even if I complete my meditation sessions feeling like I accomplished nothing, I notice it's effect during my day.  Suddenly I notice that I have the ability to finish tasks without getting of course.  Does my mind stop chatting while I work?  Not necessarily, but now I have the ability to easily move my attention back on the work at hand.  Because I've been practicing it for 30 minutes a day, regaining my focus comes easily.  Like I said in my previous post,  I think of meditation like working out.  You do the work at the gym, you enjoy the benefits later in the form of increased energy and looser fitting clothing.  With meditation, you do the work in the morning, you enjoy the benefits throughout your day. 

{Getting Focused}
For me, the benefits go beyond increased focus and attention.  I'm also calmer, less emotional.  My mind becomes amazingly clear.  I become like our friend Eddie as I suddenly notice the details of my environment.  I notice the clutter and I begin to clear it. I notice the birds chirping in the background.  I'm completely present to others when I'm in a conversation with them.  When negative situations arise, I don't react in the same way.  My mind becomes extremely sharp, my performance increases.  I'm at my best.  I become Eddie.  One of the best. thee best, outcomes I  experience is the disappearance of negative thoughts.  Our minds are constantly racing with thoughts. We may not notice it but it's constantly running in the background.  We are always judging everything as good or bad. Every experience, everything someone says to us, everything we do, we constantly make a comment  about it in our minds.   Don't believe me, pay attention today and you'll see just how much you do it.  It's constant. 

When I am consistent with my meditation, I move into the place where my mind quiets throughout the day.  This is an amazing experience.  It creates a freedom where you can create  the thoughts you want versus allow random (negative) judgments to run rampant through our minds. Like I said in my last post, my "fear" seems to disappear because my mind isn't constantly passing negative judgments  on actions that I haven't even taken yet.  When there is no negative connotation on something, there is no reason to fear it. We fear something because we are avoiding a certain outcome.  A person is afraid to speak in public because "they don't want to mess up, say something stupid, or look bad in front of others."  What that same person released those negative views? What would she be afraid of?  There's nothing to fear. There is only space for her to be fully expressed. 

  I've been referring meditation as a practice because it requires consistency.  The more you do, the greater your reward. I try to do at least 15-30 minute sessions but 5-10 minutes of this practice is better than 0 minutes.  You may not notice benefits the first few times you practice but keep going any way.   I've struggled in the past with remaining consistent with my practice and I'll tell you why using a simple analogy. 

{We're just as crazy as they are}
My previous supervisor and I were having a conversation.  He mentioned that his brother was diagnosed with mental disorders that caused him to have extreme paranoia.  His brother also expressed homicidal thoughts of wanting to kill members of his immediate family.  Then my boss tells me that his brother is completely normal & functional when he takes his medicine.  The problem was that once his brother began feeling "normal," he would eventually stop taking his medication because he didn't feel the need to.  Soon, the unwanted symptoms would return and he'd be back to his old ways.  As my boss told this story. I thought about myself.  I do the same thing.  I meditate regularly for weeks and the results are amazing!  I do so well that I start my day doing "something productive" instead of meditating.  Soon, I find that I've returned to my old, anxious, self again. 

So I've decided to put the Slight Edge principle into practice and meditation as frequently as possible even when I don't feel like it.  It's easy to skip a session here and there and not notice the impact. Soon time passes and you find yourself in the old patterns of thinking again. Instead of going back and forth from focused on unfocused. I'd rather keep climbing higher from one level of focus to even greater levels.  This can only come through consistency and I'm ready for it.  It's that time of year when I'm getting ready to plan on how to end 2013 strong so I can get ready for an amazing 2014. I need to be super focused in order to reach those goals still on my list. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

This week I realized that my scalp, which was once a major concern, has been giving me almost no trouble at all.  On the one hand, this is a good thing.  On the other, I've been ignoring my scalp.  Although I'm grateful to have one less concern to worry about, I also realize that, if left alone, eventually I will experience the side effects of not caring for my scalp.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I opted to proactively add a permanent  step to my wash routine to care for my scalp.  Thinking ahead to fall season, I know that two scalp related concerns may surface.

1. Shedding
2. Flaking/peeling

For me, one solution to both of these problems came in the form of essential oils.  Back when my scalp issue was at its worst, I would use essential oils almost daily.  Now, I'm going to experiment with adding an essential & carrier oil scalp massage every week as a part of my pre-poo step.

Last night, before heading to bed, I mixed a little eucalyptus oil and coconut oil together.  I parted my hair in small sections and applied the blend directly to my scalp and hair.  Then I put on a plastic cap and called it a night. I can't tell you how much I love feeling a tingling sensation on my scalp.  Makes me feel like my hair follicles are coming alive!

Adding this step as a part of my weekly wash routine will give me several benefits.  Let's discuss:

+ Scalp stimulation to help promote growth.
+ Reduction in shedding.
+Less flaking/peeling
+Eucalyptus oil helps increase ceramide levels in the hair strand.

There's no reason for me not to do this.  Back in the day, when my scalp was misbehaving, I would use essential oils several times a week. As a side effect, I would often walk around smelling medicated.  My hope is that the weekly ritual will be enough to address any issue so I don't have to resort to doing it multiple times a week. This a proactive approach. Hopefully with this weekly scalp stimulation ritual (and by drinking lots of water), I'll be able to keep my scalp healthy throughout fall and winter.

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