Sunday, December 23, 2007

After a Year

Wow, even though my hair has always grown long, I don't think I've let it grow quite this long since I was pregnant with my son (over 17 years ago!). So this is where my SLs have brought me after a mere year and I really like the results. Looking at these pics makes me wish I'd have remembered to measure my hair while it was down yesterday, but I didn't think of it at the time.

I have an up-do at the moment which I am also loving, so I won't be taking it a down for a minute. My consultant and I have agreed to start clipping off the relaxer at my Jan 08 retightening. Unless I change my mind and delay the inevitable a bit longer, I plan to have all of the relaxer off by the spring (I need at least a little something to keep my head warm until then). I think I have about 6" of natural SL'd hair right now so it will feel and maybe look like a drastic change, but at the same time I am looking forward to seeing how my locks look "totally naturale".
I feel especially blessed to be able to pass on the experience and message that if for any reason you are a sister that prefers to keep some or all of your relaxed length while your SLs are developing, first of all know that there is no shame and nothing wrong with this approach. This is your journey and, as such, you never need to feel that you have to justify keeping your relaxed ends for or to anyone. Assuming you've chosen SisterLocks because you want to go totally natural, you'll likely already be aware that the relaxer has to go eventually and you'll want that. When, how fast and how much is totally up to you, keeping in mind input from your consultant. Second, keeping your relaxed hair can be done without bunching and tangling drama, as long as your consultant knows how to manage it correctly and you follow her instructions. There are some consultants that won't install SLs with any relaxer still in the hair. This is way cool too. In my case, I was extremely fortunate to find a consultant who, among other things, knew how to work with relaxed ends and who also put my relaxed hair in the SLs pattern (as you'll see elsewhere in my blog and/or in my Fotki, I began this journey with approximately 3" of natural hair and my total length was at least 8", probably more). It would be many months before I realized that she had even done this; I guess I just never thought about it until I kept reading posts about others having trouble with their relaxed ends. It was sort of like a lightbulb moment. Since relaxed hair will never lock (at least prob not in my lifetime), my consultant did this for the sake of manageability and consistency (I'm actually guessing this because I keep forgetting to ask her why she made this choice, but knowing her professionalism and dedication to her work ... ). Besides being extremely precise, my consultant also has the added advantage of being very fast, so any extra time added on to do this during my installation was minimal. Thank goodness! Just more proof for me that Divine Guidance led me to her (and Lord knows I said some serious prayers about this thang before I jumped in) and to Sisterlocks!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

2nd Charlotte Sisterlocks Gathering

In case I didn't already know it, I don't have time to blog, at least not as regularly as I would like. That being said, I'm sure you've heard by now through the blog grapevine that we had a grand time last Saturday (Dec 8) celebrating our SL journeys together. Extra special for me was the fact that I got to celebrate being SLd for one whole year on that same day! It was truly wonderful getting to hang out with Carmen/beautiful1 again, and a little longer this time. Keeping up with her personal journey has been so inspiring. And her creativity with Tomoka's Twists is growing off the chain! Check it out ...

You'll see more of Carmen's talent below because I don't think any of us could walk away without at least one Twist, Tie or set, and of course we were more than happy to model some of her pieces when the opportunity arose.

There were several times when I found myself just being quiet and staring, trying to drink in all of the unique beauty exuding from our locs. Our collective SL journeys spanned the timeline from just a few months to several years, and our loc length spanned from neck, shoulders, to "sitting on it". Man, I thought I'd gotten a good pic of Lauren's "sit on it" length, but I don't seem to have one - darn! And to my further surprise ... I guess I was so busy taking pics of these ladies (I sure hope I didn't forget anyone) that I forgot to have someone take pics of me with my camera. We did get one of my vest though for my Crochet Passion blog ;-) ...
(Not that I ended up needing to wear this vest that day; it wasn't until I stepped foot outside for the first time that evening that I discovered how unseasonably mild it was outside.)
But no worries, we have all agreed to get together again in the spring, so there'll be one of many more Charlotte SL gathering photo opps to look forward to. Besides, I've previously posted some "almost a year" pics on my blog and will surely have more to come.
Now I've purposefully shied away from naming names here because I know I will forget (at least) one. However, BlackRussian (a much more dedicated blogger than me and also a true pleasure to finally meet in person after reading so many of her great posts) has them nailed on her blog. I'll never forget any of the faces and warm personalities though. What a blessed"gem"lady I am to have met these ladies in person and benefited from their experiences, tips and sisterhood.
Happy Holidays ladies!!
I so appreciate the fact that you took the time out to come from near and far (very far in some cases) to hang out with us. I know we'll continue to keep in touch and I can't wait to see what the next few months holds for each of us on our SLs journeys.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Almost a Year

On December 8, 2007 (less than 2 weeks) I will have had my Sisterlocks for one whole year! Other than a couple of (mostly self-imposed) blips on my SL radar screen, I've been in heaven with my decision. I've had to get accustomed to some facts about my natural hair, but that has been part of the journey for me and, as my locks progress, I'll learn and have more to accept and love about my hair. I always think thrice about saying "never", so I will just say that no one would be more surprised than me if I ever turned back from Sisterlocks to ... do what? Go back to a relaxer? I definitely don't have a "soap box" mentality against relaxers, but my choice to use them kept me in salons for hours, much of it spent waiting and waiting, and enduring poor customer service. Thank God those days are behind me and they don't ever have to be part of my future! To a TWA? Well, been there, done that and very much enjoyed it during those times of my life. But my hair has always been naturally long and I'm not feeling the TWA lately. Actually, I'd have probably never gone the TWA route had I found an easier way to take care of my thick, long and natural hair. So, just for today, if ease, freedom and mad versatility is what I want, I can't think of any other style that would make me want to leave my SLs. Okay, back to the present -- I decided to create this post so that I could compare pics of my SLs from "the early days" up until now.

2-month retightening
These two are at about 3 mos. I'm glad that I took the close up "scalpy" shots. It helps me to see the amount of my natural hair that is actually in the SL pattern (my consultant put my relaxed hair in the pattern too, just for continuity, and I'm so glad that she did because I don't have tangling issues, etc. to deal with).

These are from my (before/after) retightening last Wed (Thanksgiving eve).
Okay, my locs have definitely thickened up (I really thought they never would!) even though they are still not yet fully settled (sigh ... even after a year). Actually, I'm going to say that they look full and luscious!! And, although I started with a good amount of length, I can tell that I've had some more growth. The last time my hair was wet, my locs (in the back) stretched down to the top of my bra strap. Finally I can really enjoy my length, carefree!!

Lastly, while I didn't plan this by design, I'll get to *celebrate* my 1-year SL anniversary on the same day as the Charlotte SL gathering -- December 8th - yay! I look forward to having some fun pics to post that weekend.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sisterlocks Class Comes to Charlotte

I attended the SLs retightening class this past Saturday and wow, what an experience!! The energy, the attitudes, the professionalism ... all off the chain! I made some wonderful connections there. Just further testimony to the life-changing power of the Sisterlocks lifestyle. And of course I learned a lot too. Roxanne (pictured directly below) was our instructor and she gave us a lot of SLs tips that went beyond retightening (e.g., general and specific care, coloring, styling). She was so professional, beautiful (these pics really don't do her justice) and real.

I also got to meet Blenna Williams, imho a famed SL certified trainer and consultant. Blenna was leading the SL consultant training class and actually just stopped by to introduce herself to our class. Her personality is so alive and upbeat, she reminds me of my consultant who she happens to know and gave me messages to take back to her. She was also wearing one of our own -- beaut1ful1's -- Tomoka's Twists!! It looked gorgeous on her already gorgeous locks! Well you know I was fit to be tied because I'd been looking for ms. beaut1ful1 from the time I walked into class that morning. For some reason I thought her class was going to join ours for the Retightening segment, but that wasn't the case. I sent word back w/Blenna to be sure to have the sister she knew as "Carmen" come by and see me, which she did but my class was in progress so, other than some quick hugs and peeks at her merchandise, I had to wait until my class was over and she returned from lunch. It was worth the wait to see her though y'all. It was obvious to see how Beaut1ful1 came by her name. She is a truly beautful sistah visually as well as the beauty you can feel from her wonderful, beaming, bubbly, shining spirit (yes, she is all that and then some). Her pictures (below) don't do her justice. I walked her back to class and asked Blenna if we could please have someone take a pic of us before I had to leave. Little did I know that our photo shoot would take place at the front of the class - LOL! In any case, Beaut1ful1 has a better pic of us hugging at the front of the room, which I'm sure she'll post. Actually just meeting her alone made my day!!

So, what else did I learn you ask? I learned that beaut1ful1 and I, to our TOTAL amazement, were the only sistahs there that were aware of LIU!! From what she told me, no one beaut1ful1 had spoken to in her class so far that day knew LIU existed and no one in my class had ever heard of it. How could this be, we wondered? How were they able to start and/or progress through their SLs journey without LIU?!?!?! They'd never heard of some of the names/blogs we threw out at them, the Sisterlocks stars of "our world"??!! Okay, so maybe beaut1ful1 and I have very small worlds, but whatever ... we passed the word on now, so hopefully there will be a deluge of additional LIU members signing up within the next few days.

I also learned that there is no way in the heck, no way, no how that I am ever going to sit down with the intention of retightening my hair. Now don't get me wrong, I was intrigued by the process and very glad to have learned it. Roxanne even told me I'd done a great job with both tools. And to be honest, I'd always known since way before I signed up for the class that my only intention was to gather enough knowledge to perhaps retighten my edges from time to time. Well guess what? N-O-T!! When I got home, I still felt confident about the sectioning, the pattern, everything involved. But watching a movie or not, just finding my center parts took more time than I ever wanted to spend on the entire task. Listen y'all, one of the main reasons I got SLs was to be able to have a beautiful "do" as the result of spending as little time as possible on my hair. Because of weekday and weeknight commitments, my weekends are about the only time I have to play catchup on household and fun things. As it as, the big task for this past Sat night was to braid & band, wash, separate, curl and dry. Yes, we're talking all night already. I just wasn't feeling the idea of adding an attempt at retightening a lock or two to the list. And no, I didn't have time to start earlier that day or any other. And no, I can't crochet or look through a mag while I'm retightening my own hair. So I sat right here in my bedroom Sat night and left word for my consultant to move my 2-week appointment up to this coming week if at all possible. LOL! I don't even feel bad about it. I would have always wanted to know how to do it, and as I said earlier, the sisters I got to meet in addition to the retightening and other SL knowledge I gained, were well worth the investment. Definitely there was nothing wasted. Check out some of my classmates below.

I think my consultant is going to try to fit me in on Wednesday. Hmmmmm, I can't wait to catch her up on my class experience and what's been going on in her life while I crochet, look up at the tv now and again, and relax while I get my locks retightened. Aaaahhhhh ....

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Charlotte SLs Gathering

We had a small but fun meeting here in Charlotte, this past Saturday a.m. Catina and I had Sisterlocks and Tonya had Interlocks. We each had so much to share about: when we first heard of SLs, when we made that VIP decision to get locked, experiences with our consultants, on and on. I love Catina's SLs. Even though they're "just" 3 months old, they look more mature and, as much as I love my own process and my decision to start with permed ends, her locks definitely had me thinking twice about that decision (lol!). They're just so thick and lovely and once again, I marveled at how different and wonderful SLs look on each of us. Tonya gave us a schooling on the entire Interlocks process. Now it could be because I'm still a newbie, but I was hard-pressed to see a visual difference between SLs and Interlocks. Her hair was quite cute and I'm not mad at her for spending a considerable less chunk of change and time in the chair than I did for the installation of her locks . :-) I forgot to ask her, but I hope Tonya will post some info (website link, etc.) on LIU about her locking process. I'm not sure how new this process is, but the web searches I've done don't even come close to describing what she has.

We are all looking forward to our next gathering so that we can see in person the progress we've each made on our journey. We're also hoping for a larger turnout the next time.

Okay, I know you're wondering cuz I would be too -- where are the pics?? Well, in my defense, I DID pack my camera and I DID bring it into the coffeeshop. However, I was so enthralled with the other ladies and their locking experiences, that it wasn't until I was driving away from our meeting spot that I realized I never pulled the darned thing out!! Never fret though, we already know that we will have another Charlotte gathering, hopefully before the end of 2007, and I will definitely not forget to pull out the camera while we're together the next time.

Back to Braiding & Banding (aka B&B)

About 1.5 months ago I was given permission by my consultant to discontinue banding and braiding. At that point my SLs were going on 8 months. The first time I washed without B&B, I panicked because I experienced significant slippage with the locks at the back of my head; the front locks were just fine. So we agreed that the next time I washed, I would B&B, and that the next time I washed, right before my next retightening, I would not B&B. Well that sounded good to me since that was also when I planned to color my hair and we’d already agreed that I should do that only if I could plan it right before my next retightening session (most of you have already read about my coloring debacle, if not, you can check it out right here on my blog). So between the results of my hair coloring experience and the couple of times I washed without B&B, my consultant and I have decided that I need to return to B&B for a while. I am more than happy to do this for a couple of reasons. First, and probably the most obvious, is that I don’t want to experience slippage at any cost. Second, the only time I experienced bunching and/or tangling with my permed ends is when I didn’t B&B. True, B&B takes extra time, but I really don’t mind anymore because I just get much better results with my permed ends and no slippage. In truth, I’d escaped B&B for the first few months because my consultant always washed my hair. So it’s not like I’ve been doing it “forever”. I know one day I’ll be able to enjoy the freedom of no B&B, once my SLs become more settled and then locked. But for now, the extra time is worth what I receive in peace of mind. I don’t know exactly how much longer I’ll need to B&B, but I assume that I’ll continue at least until my consultant gives me the okay to do away with my permed ends.

Lucky for me, several months ago I got a couple of wonderful tips on B&B from Sistalocd's blog. Namely, I use the clips shown below all around my hairline. They do a remarkable job of keeping my most delicate locks from slipping. I also love using the terry cloth bands below. They're much easier to remove than rubber bands and safer for my hair. Another tip that I picked up somewhere along the way is to not braid my hair to the very end. I used to do this in the beginning and it made unbraiding each wet section a real hassle. Now I leave about ½” open at the ends and band it all up.

Oh, one more thing I prefer about B&B is that, while I really detest having to separate my locks after washing, B&B makes it a lot easier for me to do; seems like not as many locks get caught up in each other when I B&B. Here's a picture of one section of my hair taken loose from B&B after washing.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pics of New Color

Well, here are pics of my new hair color. Other than the absence of grey, it's probably hard to notice the difference in these pics. But I love it, especially since my locs have been repaired - whew! There are a few more pics on my Fotki.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Color Update

It's taken me so long to post this mainly because I wanted to have pics to go along with my (sort of sad) story. I don't as of yet, but here's the lesson I learned.

I'm 8 mo. SL'd and was somewhat determined to color my hair because I found the location of my grey patches annoying. In my defense, I did do a little footwork and at one point thought I would wait, but somewhere along the way, I felt good about it, so I did it. My consultant also gave me the okay, as long as I colored very close to my next retightening session. Well let me tell you, I won't be coloring my hair again anytime soon, definitely not in 2007 and probably not until we're well into 2008, if then!! Oh the color came out beautifully. I used Clairol Textures & Tones Cocoa Brown (a color I've used several times in the past on my permed hair). But the slippage wasn't pretty at all. To say I was distressed is an understatement. At one point when I thought I was trying to separate locks, I was actually in the middle of an almost totally slipped lock! The good news, if there's any to be had, is that the slippage that occurred was only in the back of my head, the locs in front held up just fine. The other good news was that after leaving my consultant a message that our retightening session was probably going to take a bit longer and why, she left word for me not to worry and that she was sure she'd be able to fix everything. When I got there and she had a look she still felt that way. She said that some of them were indeed worse than others, but all in all she'd seen worse. I wasn't so concerned that she wouldn't be able to get me back on track (she's awesome), but I wondered how much I'd delayed the locking process. In any case, I'm okay now, all retightened, love my color and have learned my lesson. If you ever see me posting about coloring my hair before Spring 2008 without my consultant's permission, please come and find me.

I know we all have different hair and locking experiences, but perhaps my experience will be helpful to another eager-beaver SL-er deciding to color or not at this stage.

Right, let's start in the Middle

Well, I know it's strange to start this blog in the middle. Notice I didn't say "my" blog because I don't know if I'll ever make it back here for an update. But if and when I do, I promise to organize it so that it will somehow start at the beginning. In the meantime, read on to find out about my SL Color near disaster!!