I Did a Wash & Go on My 4C Hair – First One in a WHILE

Now to be honest, I didn’t intentionally plan to do a wash and go. I had got a late start on my wash day and it was finally wrapping up around 2 am. I knew there was no way a twist or braid out would be dry by the time I woke up for brunch the next day. So I said hey let’s try out a wash and go.

I could probably count on my hands the number of times I’d done a wash and go. The first time I heard of it I was like “who would want to go out with wet hair?” Then when I actually tried it I was like “ who would want to go out with shrunken hair?” I mean the best part of my natural hair journey was the growth HELLO. As I head into my 5th year of natural hair, I revisited the wash and go method I had tried ever so often.

Here’s what I used:

After deep conditioning with TGIN Honey Miracle Mask, I used two products that I think work incredible together – Jane Carter Solution Conditioning Cream followed by TGIN Twist and Define Cream. I really love how the conditioning cream has a whipped consistency that thoroughly moisturizes my hair and define my curl pattern as it looks when it’s soaking wet. It also smells amazing! The twist and define cream locks in the texture of my hair.

I sectioned my hair into four large braids and hoped for the best!

The next morning, I did something else I hadn’t done in a while, I used a styling gel. Now once I’ve tried a certain type of product and it didn’t work, I most likely won’t try it again for a while. I gave gel a try a few times but didn’t like how it made my hair feel sticky and appear to have a white residue. However, I was drawn to try the Shea Moisture Red Palm Oil Styling Gelee because the red palm oil has not failed me yet! The Red Palm Oil Elongating Pudding is still among my top 5 favorite natural hair products! The red palm oil and cocoa butter line contains an ingredient called flaxseed gel which is known to elongate natural hair and works especially well for 4c hair.

After unbraiding my hair, I gently distributed a small amount of gel in section by using the clumping method. I do the clumping method by rubbing the gel between my palms and taking a section of hair and lightly squeezing it as if there were a glass ball between my hands. I could see how the sections with the gel hung a little bit longer than the sections without, so the “elongating” aspect of the product really showed. I followed with coconut oil to seal in the moisture.

All smiles over here

I loved the look! At first it took a minute to get used to the style because of how short I thought my hair appeared but I liked the way the length framed my face. I tried something different and ended up loving my hair even with it’s shrinkage.

Loving my new highlights

So will I try a wash and go again? I’m open to it! It was fun playing with my hair in it’s most natural state and I loved the way it turned out.

What have been your wash and go experiences?

As always take it step by step and

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My Heart is in Havana| My Blissful Trip to Cuba

Hi Daizies,

You know there’s that one trip that totally changes your outlook on life? Have you ever heard that seeing the world can really broaden your perspective on your life and the world and what you think is important? It sounds all deep and stuff but this past trip to Cuba did just that. By the end of my trip I experienced life in a way that I never had before.

The Culture

I was in Havana, Cuba for 6 days total and felt like this trip allowed me to experience the true culture of the locals the absolute most. The thing that made the trip so special were the people and the genuine friendliness that I encountered every single day I was there. The people there are very warm and have a close knit community. They have a strong community that I felt apart of because of how nice they were to me as well.

Being Black

Most importantly, I was in a society where my identity of being black and a woman didn’t dictate how I navigated through the country or at all. I pretty much was under the impression that no matter where you go in the world, the black people or darker skinned people of that nation experience some sort of discrimination. I thought that the afro-Cubans and the white-Cubans would be differentiated somehow, just from coming from America, this just seemed like it would be a thing. But day 2, I noticed…there didn’t seem to be any racism. Granted, this is just my experience being there for 6 days and I can’t possibly know the ins and outs of every afro-Cuban’s experience but to ME I noticed a striking difference from the racism I encounter with every day in the States whether it be from the 24/7 news cycle of violence or microaggressions experienced. Walking through Old Havana and the central parts of town, I saw the lighter skinned and white Cubans and the afro-Cubans ALL hanging out together. The kids were all playing in mixed groups. The schoolgirls weren’t in close knit groups based on skin tone or anything. Everyone seemed comfortable with each other and referred to one another as CUBAN. Not Afro-Cuban or White-Cuban or anything. The culture wasn’t really based on the separation by what people looked like on the outside. It wasn’t an “erasure” or ignoring of the fact that some people derived from Africa or that slavery existed, but I didn’t feel or witness the same lingering effects of institutional and structural racism that exists in America and in so many places in the world. I had never seen any of this in my life before. Of course I was so curious as to HOW this was. I learned so much more about Cuba and race in the Afro Cuban Culture tour that I’ll touch on later in this post. But it was nice to just walk around with people looking like they’ve never seen a black person before. I often got mistaken for being Cuban and many people spoke Spanish to me. I looked like the people there and felt like it too.

Being a Woman

I have never felt so safe in my life. I felt more safe in Cuba than I do living in America. I have never seen a society where there was so much respect and kindness towards women. In the United States it’s “normal” to look straight ahead when you see men on the sidewalks and walk swiftly to your next destination. It’s “normal” to not even look in the direction of men trying greeting you even in broad daylight but ESPECIALLY at night. It’s “normal” to bring an extra jacket to cover anything that may be revealing. It’s “normal” to miss out on anything that happens after sunset when solo traveling because you don’t know who’s gonna be acting crazy. So much of my life and travel is dictated to doing certain things in hopes of being safe, because of being woman. When I first stepped off the plane and was at the airport, I noticed that a lot of the female workers had really cute short and tight skirts. I was like okay werk, maybe it’s just an airport thing. But when I got into the city, I saw that the short and really tight skirts was a whole style and lots of young women and girls were wearing it. I immediately thought ” how do the men treat them?” Where I’m from, wearing anything that’s deemed sexy could warrant a lot of harassment and just men being so creepy. But throughout my whole time, I never saw or heard any men harassing women wearing the short skirts or wearing whatever. No one thought they had the right to talk to them any kind of way because of how they’re dressed. Simple, but shocking to me because this is how it should be and it actually exists in Cuba. I actually had pleasant conversations with men who greeted me in the city. They asked simple questions like “Is it your first time in Cuba?”, “How many days are you in Havana?”, “Do you like it here?”, or “Are you looking for something?”. It was never that uncomfortable invasive talk you can sometimes run into when you give a guy just a few seconds of your time. Never tried to ask for my number of if I was single. Never tried to touch me inappropriately. Never followed me. Never tried to prolong the conversation to get something from me. Just brief small talk if I chose to have it. Ending with a handshake in most cases. There was a level of respect here that didn’t seem to matter that I was a woman. I was just a person. I was a person exploring Cuba and even the compliments were sincere and simple and not as a way to be weird. It was such a relief. And I was really happy for the women there that they could be free and safe.

I love traveling and have been to many countries but this was the first time I felt free of carrying the intersections of being black and a woman with me. I didn’t have to wonder if someone had preconceived notions about me because of my skin color, and I didn’t have to speed past any man in sight. The thing that separated me from others was my personality. When people talked to me it was to get to know me. Even being American wasn’t an issue there, which is surprising considering all the things America did during the Revolution. People asked where in America I was from and thought it was cool. That was it. No judgement or stereotypes needed to be fought based on my interactions with others. I was just me. It was groundbreaking because now I know it’s possible. I know it’s possible for a group of people to live in harmony and not have violence and systematic laws that disadvantage black people. I know it’s possible for men to respect the choices of women and to not feel they have the right to take from women.

Being Off the Grid

I was solo traveling for majority of my 6 days in Cuba and so I came prepared with a FULL itinerary printed and everything with addresses of what to do and where to go. I am a GPS girl and was like omg this will be interesting trying to get from place to place with 0 wifi. But I actually didn’t even use my itinerary as much as I thought. I had already booked the Afro-Cuban tour with Airbnb before arriving and knew I wanted to go to the beach and do a dance class. But other than that, I literary took it day by day. I could walk out to the Old Havana and the day would just go from there. I didn’t need to follow a plan, I followed a vibe.

I looked up more. I greeted people. I listened to recommendations. I journaled. I was really REALLY present in the moment. I didn’t get bored without the internet and had the chance to see what it felt like before being “always on” was normal to me. When back at my Airbnb, I would watch whatever was on tv for a little bit. There was a station with American movies and I even saw one episode of Game of Thrones. In the tour, I learned that there’s often one person in the neighborhood with a USB drive that downloads all the newest things happening on the internet. Then for like 1CUC an hour you can rent the USB to download all the seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, Game of Thrones, or whatever shows you like and have your piece of the internet. They make it work!

Living in a Socialist Society

From what I saw and learned, everyone has everything they need. I knew the basics of socialism and the word communism always seemed to come with a negative connotation in school but actually being in a country where it’s the way things are seemed like a whole new world. Throughout my whole 6 days in Cuba I didn’t see a single homeless person. In basically every major city I’ve been to and even where I live, I could walk past dozens of destitute homeless people with no where to go. In Cuba everyone has a home and there are shelters available for anyone that needs them. They have such an advanced healthcare system and can go to the doctor or hospital without having to worry about how to pay for it. You can go to school and study for free. There isn’t this inequality of the rich and poor. Everyone has everything they need. And because of this, I felt like people didn’t feel the need to take or steal from each other. There’s no need to. People seemed to share with each other more. Without having to stress about material things and striving to have more and more things, people showed their love and enjoyment of being with each other.

Cuba does have limited resources but it was more of the things that seem common in other places that are used way more than necessary. Like we waste A LOT of things and take more than we need because it’s available. It’s a lot of overconsumption now that I’ve seen a different way of living. Also the way homes are set up, there are lots of homes with multigenerational families. So there’s always someone to talk to, so really it’s easy to not have social media because you can be entertained with those in front of you. Although having my own apartment is a major staple in adulthood in the U.S., I actually thought it would be a fun experience to live close to my family if I lived in Cuba.

Things I Did

Day 1

The first day I arrived in Cuba, I took it easy and enjoyed a nice refreshing nap before going out to a bar with my cousin. I stayed in the casa particular right above the La California restaurant. Here I got to know a lot of the waitresses and waiters, and got great recommendations on places to go in Havana. The bar was called La Esencia in the Vedado neighborhood. We got there around 11pm and it started to get more active around midnight. It seemed like a place where mostly locals went and it was still popping even on a Tuesday.

Day 2

My first full day in Cuba, I went to the Old Havana area and marked the Museo de Revolucion as my main landmark. Surprisingly, this was the last place I visited even as I passed it over and over. With a 1 hour bike tour for 10CUC’s, I was able to see the major places to see that I had on my list. My 2 years of Spanish have served me well in Spanish speaking countries. My tour guide was explaining what we were passing a little bit about the history and I could pretty much comprehend. It was also helpful to know Spanish just for general interactions with people and to get to know people. The landmarks I remember seeing were:

  • El Capitolio
  • La Plaza Vieja
  • La Catedral de la Virgen María de la Concepción Inmaculada de La Habana (had to look this one up)
  • Some wall mural everyone was taking pictures of
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  • A cruise ship
  • An important garden

I don’t remember all of the specific names to the translations but I knew what I was looking at lol. But after the tour I ran into a traditional dancing performance near El Capitolio. I loved being able to see what traditional dancing looked like and the performers dressed in 60s clothing.

For food, I was walking back from the Capitol towards the Museo de la Revolucion area and a restaurant hosts led me to the restaurant and explained what was on the menu. For 8CUC I got the largest serving ever and it was my favorite meal of the trip. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of the outside of the restaurant so I could actually refer people to it. Anyways, the food in Cuba was better than I expected. I came across tons of blogs saying the food was bland and suggesting to bring your own spices. HOWEVER, it was some of my favorite food cuisines and the seasoning was just fine. I don’t like spicy food at all so that lack thereof was no problem. Food in Cuba ranged from a low low price of 1.40 CUC for a filling meal to 23CUC. Also the exchange rate is basically 1 USD = 1CUC, so Cuba isn’t a place where you can expect to buy things for cheap overall. For the lower priced meals try to find restaurants inside of neighborhoods. And when you get to the city center and more populated areas, you’ll find the 20-23CUC priced meals. Also try to eat as much as you can because there aren’t supplies for takeaway boxes. I get full so fast, so I had to leave so much food behind that I would normally take to go.

Day 3

Near the Malecon I got a great view of the city line and it was perfect for a photo opp. There were some statues and things to read as it related to the castle that was nearby but not where we could walk directly to. Going back to research exactly what it was, I found that it’s called the Morro Castle.

The rest of the time from here I was solo traveling. I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering in Old Habana and ran into a local guy who took me on the ferry to visit the Christ of Havana statue in Casablanca. The ferry was about 7 minutes and 1CUC each way. The Christ statue mimicked the Christ the Reedemer statue in Sao Paolo, Brazil. This was something I didn’t even find when looking up top things to do in Havana but it was so cool to see and to take a ferry. I actually think it was my first ferry ride too! It was a little trek up the hill, so I definitely got a good leg work out.

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Day 4

I knew I wanted to take a Rumba class prior to coming to Cuba. I had looked up a couple schools before arriving and had one written down that I was certain I would take a class from. But I ended up walking past another school in the Old Havana area and a friend I made said La Casa del Son was the best one. I ended up making a reservation a day before, since they were pretty busy. For 18CUC I learned the basics of Rumba with a personal dance teacher. I thought it would be pretty easy but there were some specific form details that my instructor was coaching me to do. So it ended up being quite a workout just from trying hard to have the right form. I had a lot of fun learning and dancing. The form of Rumba I was learning came from the Guanabacoa region which is where I visited in the Afro-Cuban tour the following day.

I got a chance to visit the beach, and got help finding the tour bus that goes to la playa. The Malecon in Havana isn’t one where you can swim, so the nearest beach was about 25 minutes away. I got on the tourbus that left from Central Park and bought a 5CUC roundtrip ticket. This beach was called San Marisol and was a lot closer than other beaches people had mentioned to me. The water was a perfect temperature and I had fun swimming and relaxing.

Day 5: Afro-Cuban Tour

I found out about the Afro Cuban Culture tour from a travel group on Facebook. The tour is organized by Beyond Roots Cuba and the experience can be booked on Airbnb. I had never read such profound and amazing reviews of anything ever and booked right away since the slots were sold out for so many days in advance. And it really was everything I hoped for. There were 14 people, all American. Ten of us were Black American and the rest were white. It was great to ask the questions I had in my head to someone who lived in Cuba and could give background to the things I had noticed. It was also great to be around other Black Americans and have that shared experience together. In the intro, the creator of the Afro Cuban culture tour explained that she wanted to create this to give tourists an opportunity to learn about the African roots that influence Cuban culture and especially to dispel any myths that the Afro-Cuban religions were scary. We spent a lot of time focusing on the three major Afro Cuban religions because they played and continue to play a critical role in the culture and especially during slavery. Adrianna, our guide, said that when she first started this tour she always got questions about her black experience as a professor and she did not understand what this meant or why it was being asked. Coming from the United States, this would be a question I’d ask as well, and she was able to learn more about why that was asked and how different race relations were in the U.S. She said she hadn’t really felt racism her whole life in Cuba. Even being female, she said the rule at the university was to have faculty made up of 50% male and 50% female and that it was apart of the law.

It was interesting to hear that Adrianna thought all Americans were white and didn’t know there were black people in the States until Obama opened up travel to Cuba in 2016. Since then African Americans have been seen as a reference point for Cubans in accepting their natural hair and African features. She said they saw that most Americans coming were black and they were coming natural. They then saw that they can wear their hair natural and still be pretty and beautiful. It’s harder to maintain natural hair there because there aren’t a lot of products or resources for the upkeep of black hair. Adrianna said she uses products for white people. So many people straighten their hair because it’s easier but it’s starting to change now since tourism and contact with black Americans. I love seeing our positive influence on other cultures. While the natural hair is something that’s still recent, it’s great that it has positively impacted other parts of the diaspora.

I did find out that while there didn’t appear to be strong racism in Cuba colorism does exist. It is common for people to want to identify is mestizo or mulatto or have long straight hair. But with the younger generation, this is starting to change and more people feel comfortable with their natural features.

I also learned that the people there appreciate and are grateful for the Revolution. It allowed black and poor people to get an education, have good health, and own their homes. Things like water and all utilities are very very cheap. The rich people are the ones who hated it and many fled to Miami.

I loved learning about the religions. We visited an Afro Cuban museum in Guanabacoa and learned all about the Orishas and the origins of the Santeria religion. Santeria is basically a mix between Catholicism and the Yoruba religion deriving from Nigeria. The Orishas were once people and so they have human flaws, emotions and characteristics. According to Beyond Roots, Santeria is based on the belief and worship of a group of Orishas or saints who become beings who represent and symbolize not only the forces of nature but also rituals, activities, passions, and feelings of human beings.

I haven’t heard anything about persecution or discrimination because of religion there either. The way the Santeria religion is set up, there are multiple Orishas anyway, so having a different God to pray to isn’t a negative connotation. You can practice any religion and pray to multiple Orishas or gods in different ways. The religions are personalized to you. Like if you decide to get initiated, your reading and suggested actions are customized to you. Most people get a bracelet, but one man was told he shouldn’t wear it cuz it was a blockage of things he needs to receive. This is just one example of how it’s not super ritualistic and by customs.

I also participated in a cleansing ceremony and received a reading from the babalawo priest. For me, it wasn’t like a shockingly accurate experience. More like common sense things you should follow in life such as having goals for yourself and learning about who you are. I appreciate being apart of the experience though.

Later in the day I ended up going to Casa de la Musica and there was an event going on with a band from Mexico performing. The nightlife is from around 11pm-3am, and around the 2 am I felt myself getting a little sleepy. But the party didn’t end! There was salsa dancing everywhere, people danced with each other and made friends with those around them. The band performing was pretty cool, I have no idea who it was but I guess they were a big deal.

Day 6

I ended up meeting a Cuban family close to my casa particular and spent the whole afternoon with them learning more Rumba dancing, watching tv, and playing with the baby. Days like that are a prime example of being in Cuba. Meeting nice and friendly people and going off and just having a good time. I was going to go to the museum but it was not an important thing to have a schedule there.

Day 7

Before heading to the airport, I rushed to finally see the Museum of the Revolution and it was so worthwhile. It summarized everything I had experienced, with historical documents and visuals of Cuba’s history. I have so much I want to learn more about. Like why was the U.S. supporting the regime when the regime was all about not having equality for the rich and poor? I learned about the U.S. playing a major role in cutting Cuba off from exports around the world and Russia stepping in to buy their sugar exports instead. I saw actual visual photos of how people lived before the Revolution. Many people were struggling to survive and in terrible living conditions. I saw how after the Revolution, Fidel Castro made immediate efforts to eliminate illiteracy, allow renters to own their homes, and have adequate and free healthcare for all. I learned a lot and took many pictures of the displays to read later since I had to hurry back and leave to the airport. But there’s a lot I’m interested in learning more about. It’s so beautiful that even after having a severed relationship with the U.S. for decades, Cubans treated Americans with warmth and friendliness. The past didn’t dictate how they treated those coming to Cuba now.

Havana oh nah nah

Cuba is a country I would definitely visit again in the near future. I can say it was my favorite trip so far. The experience of just feeling like I could be myself and be safe and feel like I belonged is what made it so special. I lived my daily intentions and self care out loud. I have everything I need and more. I don’t have to always be working and always producing. Ir’s okay to rest and be content. There doesn’t need to be this pressure to produce more, to have more, to do this and that to have more money and things, a bigger house or anything. It is okay. None of that matters and I knew that but being in Cuba…I felt that. I had no Internet and had to bring my own toilet paper to most places but I felt safe and secure. And I think being safe and having what you need and deserve as being a human on this earth is worth more than any material thing you can by. Having love from your family and friends and caring about your community is what matters. I loved seeing this and will always take this with me. I’m so full with love from this experience.

Literally and as always,

Natural Hair Planning for Every Type of Trip

Greetings Daizies,

When I’m planning for a trip, envisioning my hair style is right up there with booking an Airbnb. There are so many different hairstyles to choose from and when I decide on a style I usually base it on how I imagine myself looking in smiling photos, the type of clothes or colors the place I’m visiting makes me feel, or the type of activities I’ll be doing. If you have literally no idea what to do with your hair for an upcoming trip, this might help you get an idea of what would work for you.

Planning by itinerary

It’s great to prep your hair for what your trip may involve. You want to make sure your natural hair or protective styles are prepared for the itinerary just as much as your budget is. You don’t want your hair to ever cause you stress during a trip or keep you from doing fun things.

Water activities

It’s heating up in many places so taking a dip in the beach is often on the itinerary. I’ve found that protective style where majority, if not all, of my hair is tucked away, saves so much time during trips where I’ll be getting my hair wet because I don’t have to worry about spending long periods of time washing and detangling my hair. I also usually just have a carry-on, and travel sized products aren’t enough to encompass an entire wash day yet alone multiple from several days of swimming and such. My go-to styles for these activities are:

  • Box braids
  • Crochet braids
  • Marley/Havana twists

Box braids have never failed and can go with any trip or occasion. I still wash my hair after getting it fully submerged. My scalp and mind feel better when I know I don’t have any dirt or germs still on my hair. But it takes significantly less time for this process. Crochet is also one of my favorite go-to’s for trips, but I consider the actual hair I want to install for such activities. Straight hair crochet tends to require more maintenance in general to avoid tangles and frizziness, so I would probably avoid this for a trip. Other delicate type of textures and patterns that frizz easily also wouldn’t be ideal. I would pay special attention to reviews of the specific hair brand you’re considering so that you know what to expect from being active outside and in water.

Windy/Outdoorsy activities

Going on a vacay is the perfect time to be adventurous. There’s jet-skiing, para-sailing, zip-lining, and maybe even bungy jumping for those living on the edge. With all of these activities you don’t want to be the one caught on camera with your wig flying off the boat. Make sure your wig is secured lol! But in all seriousness, is your intended style durable enough for all of the antics you’re trying to get into. Packing the necessary tools is always great for this. Always bring more than you need for any touch ups along your trip. I wrote a blog post on the most helpful things to pack for your natural hair and you can check it out here.

  • Bobby pins
  • Gel/edge control
  • Sewing needle/thread
  • Crochet hook
  • Hair balls (that’s what I call them. Also known as “hair-ties” or “hair bands”)
Twists in tact on the boat lol

Planning by weather

For the hot and humid weather upon us, the less added weight and friction is the move. For spring/summer weather I love going with shorter lengths that avoid hanging down my back and causing more sweating. This may mean trying some bob box braids, shorter crochet styles, updos that move hair away from the face.

  • Havana twists – super lightweight
  • High puff- up and out of the way
  • Feed-in braids – pulls hair away from face, not tons of hair added

For cold or moderate weather, I found having a headwrap comes in handy. When I was in Ghana in the late summer, I wore my natural hair out and the weather would start out humid with some days of sprinkles here and there. I styled my hair with headwraps during the unpredictable weather and I was ready to go! It’s also great for cold weather since the wrap adds some extra warmth and you can even tuck your ears underneath.

Duration of trip

Do you need a style to last you a few weeks? Is it a style you want to wear even after the trip? How much maintenance will this require? These are some of the questions I ask when referring to how long I’ll be away.

  • Twist out – for a trip under 5 days, styling as it stretches out
  • Clip ins for a quick weekend girls trip
  • Switch it up with a couple of wigs
  • Wrap it up for on the go moments and events
  • Crochet always works

Planning by your vision

Most of all I plan by doing whatever style it is that I imagine myself having and make the rest work around that. If I want my fro out in a tropical climate, I can make that work. Or if I envision dancing at festivals with braids down my back then that’s what I’ll do. At the end of the day you’re going on a trip to have fun and you can do whatever it is that your heart desires with your hair. All that matters is that you’re comfortable and killing it!

Schoolin’ life

Be sure to follow my natural hair and travel page on IG:@froandtravel and use #froandtravel for a feature.

As always,

One Year After Graduating College| All of My Thoughts

Greetings Daizies,

About a week ago I was laying in bed and thought “wow it’s been a long time since I’ve been in class” and then realized it was almost one full year since I finished school. March 12, 2018 was my last final of undergrad. I think this past year went by in a whirlwind but at the same time it feels like the year was more like 30 months then 12. So much has happened. And I have a whole new life now.

What I Like the Most

The best thing about being done with school is… being done with school. I think having a full time job is way better than when I was in college because there’s a feeling of security and less stress. In school, I often had the stress of not knowing if I would even pass a class even with putting in the most effort I could. And this cycle repeated every…single…quarter for 4 years!

Halfway through my first rotation I can say my work environment and responsibilities are nothing like school. I’m not being formally tested and graded on what I remember from a course and feeling like my whole future depended on it. I have gotten the hang of my role and the nervousness can come when I have a presentation coming up or the ambiguity of a new project. Overall I like my job and really like the balance of my personal and work life. I get tired often though, especially around 2pm when I just want to go home and sleep. It’s not really due to me feeling like I’m bored, but at the end of the day it is work lol. The biggest change I’ve had to get used to is simply working full-time. As a student, I worked full-time only for an internship period of 2 months and it was always followed by a study abroad trip. Now, when one week is done the weekend is here and then it ends and I think to myself “alright back to work again…this is what we’re doing now? This is the routine?” With school there are breaks you’re counting down to, you know an end is coming. With work it’s like “hmmm, this is just gonna keep on going and going?” There is no end to it. The breaks in sight come from trips I plan. I have a work culture where I can take vacation days throughout the year and I’m looking forward to a week off next month hooray!

Financial security is the biggest change for me that I am blessed to have. I’m able to live comfortably and be able to do things I enjoy like travel and buy essential oils lol. But this one piece, is a huge relief.

My tip for future grads is to start acting on your hobbies and interests while in school so it’s easier to build on them once you start working full-time. Don’t let being a student define you.Graduating college is the most monumental goal ever and once that’s done you may feel like “now what?” or that you need a new goal. So many years have been riding on accomplishing this ONE thing. That’s probably where my thoughts of uneasiness about routine come from, the “is this my life?” type of thoughts that happen once the weekend ends. Introducing new fun things have helped me these last few months so I don’t feel like it’s just work work work and living for the weekend. Small interesting goals are fun. Being goal-driven can’t just be turned off once you finish college. I try to do activities after work that involve some sort of ambition like going to the gym and taking challenging classes. Launching a new business, Dai of Social, was also no small thing this year. I even had my first branding workshop this week which made me feel so accomplished and happy my client was happy.

Staying in touch with friends and making new ones is another aspect of graduating. Yes I do miss having a handful of girlfriends around me that can go with me to on campus events or to go out with. It often does take days or weeks in advance to plan a night out or just to hang out. This can be difficult but it’s just the reality of things when people move away or are in different parts of the city. I’d probably be making more friends if I had moved to a new city and knew absolutely no one. I have a lot of new acquaintances but not necessarily in the friend part yet but making progress with getting to know people and seeing if we vibe well. I don’t force anything. I make an effort to be social but I don’t overextend myself or try to be like anyone else.

I of course enjoy my alone time. I explore the areas around me and have gotten quite used to my new neighborhood. I love being able to do what I want to do and when I want to do it. My actions aren’t confined to what finals I have coming up or what topic I need to study more on. I can take a night in and watch tv and the next day can go hang out with a friend. I’ve always been a person that does what feels right with my spirit. So I’ve found a good balance with being social and being by myself.

Things I Miss About College

One night I thought to myself ” was college really the most fun I’ll ever have?” There were some nights for the books where everyone would go out to the same place and dance all night. I haven’t had a night like that in a while or as much. Maybe there will be more of that when it gets warmer but that’s one thing that’s been different with life after college, very little functions and going out.

I miss the *option* of going to class or being able to not go to work lol. My classes started at 10:30am, and it was up to me if I wanted to go. Now I wake up around 7:20 am every single day and it never feels like I get enough sleep. Last year if I felt I didn’t get enough sleep or I knew I wasn’t going to be in bed on time, I would simply take a “personal day” from class. There’s none of that now and that takes some mental strength to accept that you are an adult and these are real adult responsibilities.

I also miss being around black people in spaces and events that were in close proximity. There was the IC at school, for students of color, all of my roommates, the undergrad clubs for business school, and so many functions I could go to when I had the time. Now those are few, far, and between outside of school. I’m finding more events on Facebook for black women now and it just requires a little more effort and research when finding these spaces but I think it’s worth it.

More time for hobbies

I’ve tried a lot of new ideas recently. Now I am at a point where I just want to experience life and be inspired. This year my motto was to be shameless and act on any and every idea I think of. But there’s also beauty and importance of being still. Listening to myself. Living. And enjoying. I think that’s where my next amazing idea or goal will come from. It’s okay to not have a million things on your to do list. And I’ve changed my mind about what interests me and that too is okay. I just want to do what I find interesting and build on those interests.

Each chapter in life has lessons and amazing memories that only happen in those chapters. When I think of freshman year, would I want to go back? Absolutely not. It was rough trying to pass my prerequisites but then I can always remember my first spring quarter on campus and the hilarious weeks of events and memories. Same with the rest of the years of college, oh yes it was so much work, but each year had something unique and special. So even now as I’m new into my career and a young adult, there are things I miss and things I’m getting used to, but there’s something special about this chapter too. And I want to be present and enjoy those moments as well.

As always,

Dealing with IBD: Going Gluten and Dairy Free For Real This Time

Greetings Daizies,

Health post here! Last year was a crucial year for me in finding out more about my stomach issues. Severe abdominal pain started becoming less of random flare ups a few times a year, to an every day occurrence. After several tests and months, the my stomach pain pointed to a form of Irritable Bowel Disease.

I’ve tried just about every supplement and suggested treatment for stomach pain there is. I even thought by minimizing my intake of desserts, cheese, and breads, that that would be enough. But after meeting with a naturopathic doctor, I learned that it takes about 6 weeks to get rid of the inflammation in your stomach. And right now my stomach has been inflamed every day for MONTHS. So treating myself with a tri-tip beef and peppered cheese steak and fries every week or so, sets me back. The stomach pain I feel can be from something that I eat days ago. Isn’t that crazy? So now I am on a mission to take cutting out Gluten and Dairy 100% for 6 weeks.

Reason

After doing the low-FODMAP diet, I noticed that gluten and dairy are trigger my stomach pain more often than other foods. It can be harder for my stomach to break down those foods and my intestines experience inflammation because of it. My first step, is cutting them out completely. Like not even a little treat, because even that little treat can have drastic effects during the week.

Although IBD isn’t described as a condition that’s caused by diet, what you put into your body does have an effect on how your system reacts holistically. I’m working with both a gastroenterologist and a naturopath so I can see both sides of the spectrum. I think the long term medicines work to help not feel the symptoms for a while, but I don’t want to be on immunosuppressive drugs the rest of my life. So I’m going to really try hard at this food thing. For the first 2 days of strictly not eating any of the foods I’m avoiding, I can say I haven’t had my usual flare ups. I know it’s only been a few days but that is a huge change seeing as how it’s something I’ve experienced daily for the past 7 days. I feel optimistic about not letting this control my life and that I will go fully in remission 🙂

Favorite recipes so far

Now I am not 100% perfect in identifying what is and is not gluten, but I’m trying. So if you see something that has gluten in it, let me know! It’s really day 2 with no slip ups. I’m making sure I’m eating enough so I don’t feel hungry and fall back to bad habits.

  • Ground chicken sandwich and fries (substitute the Hawaiian bread I was using for a GF bread)
  • Panko breaded chicken strips ( minimal oil, trying not to eat as much fried foods)
  • Spicy jammy drummies (LOVE this recipe from Chrissy Teigan’s cookbook)
  • Pan seared chicken and Spanish rice
  • Egg noodles and beef
  • Bacon, eggs, and GF cinnamon & raisin bread
  • Fruit smoothies

Non-food health changes

Another interesting thing I noticed is that when I’m on vacation outside of the country, I have NO stomach flare ups and eat literally anything I want. You know why? I am completely stress free on vacation and the food anywhere outside of the U.S. is just way fresher. This is eye-opening, because my body reacts to how I’m feeling (not worrying) and the state of the food I’m digesting (completely fresh and unprocessed). Stress manifests differently in different people. So I am trying to eliminate encountering the things that negatively impact my stomach on an everyday basis.

Food is just one part of my long term health for beating IBD. Along with making diet changes I want to make some lifestyle changes to help me deal with stress which affects my digestive system for sure.

  • Eat dinner before 9 pm
  • Get in the bed before 11:30 pm
  • Actually use mindfulness apps
  • Have more fun
  • Get monthly massages

Looking forward to a successful journey. I can do this!

Wishing health and wellness to you all,

Natural Hair Milestone: I Did My Own BOX BRAIDS!

Greetings Daizies,

This year one of my natural hair goals was to do more protective styles all by myself. In the past I have done crochet braids often which always turned out great. I tried doing my own singles almost 4 years ago, in the picture above and while I rocked them for a bit, I thought I would never do my own braids again. Getting the right grip, finding the time, and having the outcome of neat braids seemed like something that just wasn’t in my ministry. So for years I had to find someone to do my braids every time I wanted them done.

This all changed after seeing how amazing my hair turned out with marley twists last December. I surprised myself because, having attempted them before a few years ago, I struggled with twisting tight enough so that they wouldn’t unravel. But I tried it again and my confidence in doing all the styles I thought I couldn’t do had peaked. So last weekend, I set out two nights to just enjoy my new tv while braiding my hair.

Braiding Hair

The braiding hair has a lot to do with the braiding experience PERIODT. I really think Xpression braiding hair is the best. I compared it to a pack of hair I had left over and it was way better in terms of texture and look. So when doing your own hair, getting quality hair will help so much so that you don’t find yourself getting frustrated with tangles and shedding, which ultimately slows down the whole process.

I definitely overestimated the amount of hair that I would need. I bought 8 packs but only used 3 1/2. Cutting each pack in half allowed for box braids that were waist length.

Learnings

Feathering the hair adds some length. So when it seemed like cutting each pack in half would turn out with braids shorter than I wanted, feathering the ends before braiding created better usage of the hair’s length. Feathering in general was a critical step in braiding because it kept the braids from unravelling. Sometimes I would have to redo them if the ends weren’t layered enough.

Turning on a good movie was key. I scrolled through Netflix’s Oscar Nominee category and watched this movie called Lion. It was such a good movie. I had my oil diffuser on and had a fun night finishing my hair.

I was very mindful with neatness and keeping the braids straight all the way down. I can tell when a strand’s loop starts to twist and turn so I would just start over from where it got messy instead of rushing to get done.

Also grip wasn’t something I had trouble with this time. I think after having more experience doing my hair, it was easier to loop the braiding hair to my natural hair this time.

All together I would say it took about 9 1/2 hours between two nights. I really love the outcome. I hadn’t attempted to braid my hair in 4 years and this whole time I thought it was just something not apart of my skillset lol. But I got better and would’ve never known had I not tried again. The moral of the story is, if at first you don’t succeed you dust yourself off and try again.

Remember,

No-heat Curl Techniques for Natural Hair

Greetings Daizies,

One thing I love about natural hair is how versatile it is and the fun you can have with trying new styles. You can morph your hair into different patterns and styles without changing your natural texture. If you’re looking to rock a new curl style but don’t want to use heat on your hair, there are an array of methods you can try to achieve the look you want. Granted, a lot of these take time and practice but it’s great to experiment and learn as you go.

Flexi rods

Flexi rods are literally exactly as they sound. They are rods that have a felt type of texture but a flexible wire in the middle so that you can bend around your hair. The thing with this method is that you have to have some time on your hands. And I mean time time. When done correctly, I have seen such beautiful results.

Tools needed:

  • Flexi rods
  • Wide tooth comb
  • Foaming or setting lotion

You can either try this on wet hair or stretched dry hair. If you want small spirals, you will use smaller sections of hair and more flexi rods. For bigger spirals use larger sections and the thicker flexi rods. With my first attempt, I started running out of flexi rods and had to cram large sections of hair onto the skinnier flexi rods, which I’m sure affected my outcome. I purchased the 42 pack which I thought would be enough, but for thick natural hair, I would recommend twice that amount or starting off with blown out hair. My hair was stretched from day 3 twist out and my hair required way more rods than I planned for.

Foams such as Lottabody Foaming Mousse are great styling products to use for flexi rods and perm rods as well. It’s a wet product that helps mold your hair to the shape of the rod. Make sure your hair is dry before taking the rods out. Take your time when putting the flexi rods in and taking them out. Don’t rush the process.

Perm rods

Perm rods are similar to flexi rods except they are shorter and made of hard plastic. They are slightly more comfortable to sleep in and I had a better experience since I had one consistent size of rods.

Like with flexi rods, patience and neatness is key. I used Lottabody Foaming Mousse again but I’m sure any curl smoothie-type of product would work. In small-medium sections, wrap your hair firmly around the perm rod neatly tucking the end under the previous loop of hair. Clasp the rod with the cap and move on to the next strand. This takes around 2-3 hours depending on how fast you work.

Twist-out

Twist-outs are a natural hairstyle staple. You can do very large twists depending on time or desired look or do a more detailed twist out by twisting in smaller sections. I like using creams rather than foams for my twists.

By year 2 of my natural hair journey, my twist-outs had improved dramatically. I had learned to take a firm grip and not lose that same energy throughout the twist. It helps to glide my finger around the strand as I moved it around to form the twist. Being firm and taking my time are the keys to success.

Curl formers

I’ve seen this method a lot on Instagram and the process is mesmerizing to watch. I haven’t tried this one yet but I’d be interested to see how it turns out. It involved using a hook to pull your hair through each curl former. It looks like it works on 4c hair as well.

Bantu knots

Bantu knots were one of the first styles I tried when I did the big chopped. I loved the way it gave me sleek natural looking curls. You can even rock the bantu knots for a while before unravelling them. I found it helpful to complete a full twist, as if going for a twist out, and then circling into the bantu spiral. This gives me more definition when taking down my hair.

IG: @actually_ashly

Have you tried any of these methods or other ones not mentioned?

As always,