Dear black girl, your hair is beautiful!

As long as I can remember as kid my hair was  always relaxed and then straightened. I remember one of my best days at school being when my hair had just been relaxed during the weekend. To me that was the definition of beautiful hair, relaxed and straightened or relaxed and curled with rollers.

We have been conditioned from childhood to dislike our afro hair. So we get it relaxed and straightened at every chance that we get. Luckily, so many women these days have embraced the natural look that it is even stylish.

For me the ahaa! Moment came when I saw how beautiful natural African hair really looked like when taken care of. I saw pictures of black beautiful women with their afro beautiful, natural hair and I was smitten. I fell in love with natural hair.

So in June 2019 I cut my hair and thus began my natural hair journey. It has been a year and 7 months and am ever so glad that I made that choice. To be real with you it wasn’t easy at the beginning. I was new to this and I had to learn by doing at which stage the internet was really helpful. To add on that I had to watch my friends with their beautiful gigantic Fro’s whilst I was still in my awkward short hair stage. Growing natural hair needs patience, it just isn’t going to grow overnight.

Having said that I’d like to say that how good your hair looks depends on how well you are taking care of it. This is why am gonna share my top 7 tips on taking care of your natural hair.

# 1 wash your hair regularly
I wash my hair after every two weeks because that’s when the oils start to build up and it gets dirty. Now I understand why most people are reluctant to wash their hair regularlyno. Fact: your hair Shrinks miserably when you wash it.  Just because we call it shrinkage doesn’t mean it actually loses length. It just curls up making it look shorter such that if you  straightened it , it would go back to it original  length. Another way to get rid of shrinkage is to braid your hair after washing it and wiping it with your towel, in other words while it’s still wet. Let it dry while it is  braided Another fact: your hair grows an inch in a month. So not washing it will not make it grow faster.

# 2 Detangling
Nappy, afro hair gets tangled like a lot, it all comes with the curls. So before getting it combed try to Detangling it with your fingers to get rid of any knots  that may have formed.  This prevents breakage and therefore helping you maintain length. Also detangle using a large comb. Use a a water bottle to spray some water on your hair to make it softer and easy to comb through.

# 3 Conditioning
There are a lot of hair conditioners that you can get in your local cosmetic shops. To add on that you can also make your own homemade conditioners. I mix castor oil with aloe vera gel and it leaves my hair as soft as a baby’s. It is a leave in conditioner so you don’t have to wash your hair after use. Check online for many other ideas on homemade hair conditioners and which other conditioners would be good for your hair type.

# 4 Protective styles
Get some braids, wear wigs or braid your own hair to protect it from breakage due to excessive combing. You can do some flat twists, twists and cornrows by just using your hair. If you have natural hair you need to learn  to braid your own hair. I usually braid mine when going to bed and then style it as I wish the next day.

# 5 Cover your hair as you sleep
As I said earlier the trick is to maintain length . Cover your hair with a bonnet or a head wrap/scarf so it doesn’t get in friction with your pillow and break.

# 6 Get a great shampoo preferably organic/herbal and essential oils for your hair
Some chemicals found in other shampoo’s are not good for your hair. That’s why it is important to buy the organic/ herbal ones just to be on the safe side. If you are stuck on which shampoo’s are good or not good for your hair  check online and you’ll find so many helpful articles on the subject.

Also as far as essential oils go you could use castor oil, olive oil and coconut oil. This list is not exhaustive and there are many others that are great for your hair.

# 7 Take care of your scalp
This can be done by
a) washing your hair and scalp
b) Making sure your scalp is moisturized
       – By spraying water and hair oil on your
          scalp
c) Give yourself a scalp massage, use your fingers and rub them onto your scalp. Trust me it is relaxing and helps to encourage blood flow on the scalp area.

All in all make conscious efforts to take better care of your natural hair. Your hair will then reward you by looking beautiful.

There are also many other articles online that will help you take better care of your natural hair, you need only look.

So, dear black girl
Your hair is beautiful! Take better care of it!

For those stuck in the past: let go and move on

You messed up badly and you know it because you think about it all the time and beat yourself up over it. It’s been how long? A month,a year , years but still your mind plays out that moment as if it was yesterday. Sounds familiar?

How many of us are still living in the shadows our past transgressions? How many of us think we are not enough because of the mistakes we’ve made in the past? Most of us have not yet moved on from the things that happened a long time ago. We re-live our past each time we think about something that went wrong or something we did badly. This happens a lot when you are doing routine tasks and You’re not paying attention , you go to autopilot. You’re autopilot is a program that runs when you are not consciously focusing on the things you are doing. So guess what this program Is filled with? guilt, shame, regret, judgement, self criticism and all manner of negativity.

I have subjected myself to judgement because of things I have done in my past that I am not proud of. I have been soo hard on myself. I know how it feels like to live in the shadows of your past. This is how I know that  It isn’t good for you. Thinking about your past mistakes over and over again robs you of the joys of the present. To add on that you tend to identify yourself with your past mistakes. This reaffirms the habits that you have been trying to get rid of. So instead of going forward you are moving backwards.

Brooding over something that occurred in the past is called ruminating. The word was derived from when a cow reggugitates it’s food so it can chew it once again. Makes you feel like you’ve been re chewing you’re past right? Lol. We tend to ruminate more over our past mistakes or failures regardless of how they make us feel. No matter what the minds intention for focusing on our past the fact remains that it is not healthy. Our  minds tend to focus on things that cause  deep reactions in our emotions. So let’s say the guilt that comes after being criticized for making a mistake. Your mind wants to remember this incident so that you’ll not make the same mistakes again. That is why Everytime you are not paying attention to the present your mind wanders to the past. The mind has good intentions but the effect this brings is adverse.This is why I wanted to write a piece on this subject so that we can all learn how to move forward and stop living in the shadows of our past mistakes or failures.

I’ve come up with a list that has helped me over the years and that which I believe will also be of help to you.

Be kind to yourself

To begin with, you can only  let go when you decide to treat yourself with compassion. The world judges us when we make mistakes and that is why it is also easy for us to rush to judging ourselves too. This is why we are so hard on ourselves because of mistakes that we committed a long time ago. The best way to deal with all the judgement for me is to treat yourself with compassion. Think of how you’d want people to treat you when you’ve made a mistake. You wouldn’t want them to remind you of what you’ve done every single day of your life would you? You’d also want them to forgive you so that you can all move on with your lives. Do the same with yourself. Do not let your mind to dwell on the mistakes you’ve made in the past. Forgive yourself and accept that part of your life wholly and move on with your life. Be more forgiving of your flaws and more accepting of your faults.

Secondly, accept the things you cannot change. In this case you cannot time travel to the past to fix your mistakes. Worry, shame, guilt will not change the fact that it happened. Embrace the fact that it happened , you didn’t know what you didn’t know and that’s that. Learn to not dwell on things you can’t change but rather focus on what you can change, “the person you are going to become.” Luckily for you , you have lessons from your past mistakes to guide you through your journey of becoming.

Journaling

Furthermore, I find that Journaling helps me process my thoughts and find clarity on anything that’s been bothering me. So whenever the chatterbox in my head tries to fill me with guilt and shame because of the mistakes I’ve made I take out my journal and write. I find that as I write I process my feelings better. Through my Writing I can remind myself that I am “enough”. Journaling has gotten me through my toughest times yet  and I hope that it can do the same to you . It’s like talking to your best friend someone who knows you better and only wants the best for you, it has never failed me.

In addition to that realize that everything happens for you and not to you. Everything that happens to you , good or bad is all meant for your growth. From mistakes bud lessons that you carry on for the rest of your life. You didn’t know better then, but now you do and that makes you stronger than you were before. Move beyond your past and grow because on the other side of pain is where growth is acquired. You are not a victim to life’s brows but rather a being with the forces of the universe in your favor, for your greater good , for your growth. Perception is everything. Think, “all things are working for my good” and all which you shall pass through will not appear as bad as it seemed in the beginning.

In life we tend to focus on our past at the cost of enjoying the present moment. This is why being fully present in the present is helpful with letting go. It is important to acknowledge that human beings these days have short attention spans. You cannot do something for so long without your mind Wondering off to some place. Therefore making a conscious Choice to be present in the moment is important because it keeps your mind from Wondering to those negative thoughts. You can’t beat yourself up over your past when you’re having fun with friends and family in the present. Whatever small task that you perform try to focus on that and just enjoy it.

Forgive yourself

In addition to that I believe that forgiveness is key to letting go of the past. In this case I would say, forgive yourself.  Forgiveness brings healing. Realize that whatever happened, happened and there is nothing that you can do to Change that. Maybe the reason you are still holding on to this past is because you haven’t forgiven yourself yet. Whatever it is that you did in the state that you were in was the best that you could do at the moment. That’s the best thing you could do given the mental resources that you had whether limited or abundant. Do not blame yourself, look at your past without judging yourself and make a conscious Choice to be a better you than you were then. Work on yourself and the issues that you think you have and yeah, life goes on. You are a work in progress.

Practicing mindfulness is another way to let go of your past. Mindfulness is when one becomes conscious of their train of thoughts. Listen to your thoughts, pay attention to the patterns within them. Whenever you find yourself gravitating towards your past acknowledge it and come back to the present moment. Notice those thoughts that are bringing negativity to your life. Do not let yourself wallow in guilt and shame. Think positive thoughts.

Futhermore doing an activity that will help you focus on the present is also helpful. So plan a day out with your girls or the boys and forget everything and live in the now. Take a walk in the park, or just meditate. Whatever it is that you decide to do make sure that it motivates you to be fully present in the present. Personally I find that exercising helps me to live in the present and to enjoy the pleasure of being strong in mind and body.

Gratitude

Last but not least, practice gratitude. I have recently been introduced to this habit and I find it really refreshing. So when I go to bed In the evening I think about all the things that am grateful for in my life especially the things that I might have otherwise taken for granted. So I might be grateful for the air I breathe, the ground I walk on, the food I eat and the clothes I wear.Gratitude helps us because we don’t take the things that we have for granted. I appreciate the sun for it gives my world life. Gratitude helps you focus on the things that you have and thereby making you feel happier and more content with what you have in the present. When you are grateful you cannot beat yourself up over the past. Be grateful for all your experiences In life because they are what has made the person who you are now and frankly am proud of the person I am today and I owe that to my past.

Finally, ask yourself, is what am doing helping or harming me? Does thinking about your past and judging yourself help you or harm you? I know you know the answer to this and everything becomes clear after this. If it doesn’t help you then let it go!! Do not hold it in anymore or it’ll eat you up. Love yourself and don’t let your past control your life.

I’ll leave you with a quote from a book  I’ve just read called the Raven Boys and it reads “Blue, I Know you’re not an idiot. It’s just, sometimes smart people do dumb things.” Yes, sometimes we do dumb things , we make mistakes but that doesn’t mean  that we have to let those mistakes we made in the past to define who we are now. You are not who you were last year , last month or yesterday. You aren’t even  who you were this morning when you woke up, but guess what? you are who you decide to become from this moment on. You are who you commit to becoming from this moment onwards. So I say let go of the past and give way to your bright future.

Your Bright future awaits you