Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Finish Line (A Baby Story: Part 3)

I was finally upstairs. It took long enough!  My sense of time was off, but it had to be almost two hours of waiting.  And you know the first question I asked was, " Can I have my epidural now?"  The nurse told me that I had to have an IV for 15 minutes first.  (And while we are on the topic of IVs. If you ever wonder why mom and baby look swollen after birth. IV fluid is the culprit.)  She checked me. I was still four centimeters dilated.

Fifteen minutes labor it was time for my epidural. Ahhhhhh!  The anesthesiologist numbed my back.  My hubby braced me from the front.  The needle started to go in. I flinched.  They both were alarmed, "You can't move!"

My response, "I felt that!" I was numbed some more.  "Wait, I'm having another contraction." Had contraction. "Ok. I'm ready"  The second time around everything went fine.  (If you are wondering. I was not the least bit concerned about the needle. Getting the IV was worse.)   Then came the chills.  Why am I shivering?!  The nurse told me they were normal. They subsided within 15 minutes.  (FYI: I got the chills again when they removed the catheter after labor as well.)

And it was all easy breezy from there folks.   My mom-in-law, sis-in-law, mom, and sis joined me after the epidural.  (My sister later had to leave due to the four person limit.)  I explained my birth plan to the nurses.  Gave them copies. ( I had about 5 copies.)  I found the tv/internet and distracted myself.  I checked out facebook. And no, I did not announce my birth.  I felt that those closest to me should have the honor of knowing first.  I then checked my work e-mail. I forwarded some e-mails.  And the pomp'n circumstance... I posted my extended out of office message. Ahhhh! That felt good.

An epidural is one helluva drug.  I was chilling. Laughing.  The only bad side effect is that you can't really feel your legs. They felt like dead weight. I had to move them with my arms.  I could still feel the pressure of contractions, but no pain. I also watched them on the monitor, which was very helpful when it was time to push.

And while we are on that topic.  At midnight, the nurse came to check me.  Everyone started to guess how far I had progressed.  (Remember, my water broke around 6 p.m.)  My sis-in-law guessed, "I think 7 centimeters."  The nurse replied, "Not quite. She is actually nine centimeters."  (For the record, I was in a bit of shock at how quickly my labor was progressing.) It was about then I lost track of time.  Somewhere between noon and 1 p.m. I started to push.

The nurse asked, "Have you taken a labor and delivery course?" 

I replied, "No, I took prenatal yoga and watched shows like 'One Born Every Minute' though."  The nurse taught me how to breath.  I took a deep breath, held it, and pushed.  For each contraction, I pushed three times for about 8 seconds each.  My coaches (my sis-in-law and hubby) helped.  I even coached myself at times when I felt (and/or saw a contraction on the monitor) and pushed through them.  The doctor said, "You're doing great!  You don't need any help do you?"  (For the record, please note that nurses are there for you throughout the labor.  Doctors only show up for the finale.) 

Her head started to show.  The doctor said, "She has a lot of hair." He proceeded to touch her hair.  Eww. They asked me if I wanted to look in the mirror. Ewww! No! But since I figured I might regret the decision I said, "Ok. Really quickly."  I looked.  "Ok. That's enough. Please take the mirror away."  For a while her head would pop out and then she would slide back in.  Grrr.

Finally, I'd had enough.  I took a break.  I took some deep calming breaths. (I learned that from prenatal yoga and pilates. FYI: Yoga, pilates, and exercise are your best resource for getting through labor.  You mainly need strength and stamina to do well in labor.)  I said a really good, long prayer. I prayed for strength. I prayed for her health and mine.  I prayed that this would be my last set of pushes. 

I felt pressure. I saw the contraction on the screen. I took a deep breath and I pushed.  She plopped onto the table. The doctor said that if he wasn't there to catch her, she would have flown across the room.  She cried.  It felt surreal.

Hubby cut the cord. They laid her on my chest.  They delivered my placenta. Sewed me up. (I tore. I didn't even feel it.) And then they took her to the other side of the room for her screening.

April 20, 2011 1:38 a.m.
6 lbs. 5.56 oz.
19 inches

How's that for a sprint?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Waiting Game (A Baby Story : Part 2)

As I was walked back to my office, I saw my husband walking toward me.

"Why aren't you answering your phone?" he asked.

"I left it in my office. I needed to get a towel.  See!" I pointed to my pants that were soaking wet.

We gathered my things and headed to his car.  But before he would let me sit down, he got his work jacket so that I wouldn't get his seat wet. Really?! I gave him the sideeye.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the hospital.  We checked in at the front desk. They gave me a "wet pad" for my seat and we walked to the maternity triage waiting room. (This was all too familiar since I had been there two weeks prior.) And there we waited along with a few other pregnant women. One woman looked like she was having serious contractions, but she was waiting there too.  This is not like on TV. I thought when I checked in someone would bring me a wheelchair or something. Boy was I wrong.

So we waited. Finally, about 20 minutes later they called me back for screening. They checked my blood pressure. It was fine. They asked me the usual intake questions. Then they sent me back to the front to complete my admissions paperwork.  Since my water broke, they were going to admit me. I already knew that! So the hubby and I walked to the front picked up another wet pad and waited to be called. We completed the admission paperwork and then they sent us back to the waiting room.  Oh, did you think they were going to send me upstairs? Nope.  Remember the post is entitled, "The Waiting Game".  So we waited.

My mom snuck back to the maternity triage waiting room. (I was only allowed one visitor while downstairs.)  My contractions started to get more intense and closer together. I breathed through them. And we waited. Apparently, everyone was having babies or thought they were having babies. There were no beds. I gushed again... and again.  How much fluid is in there?!  I'm so uncomfortable. I just want to change out of these wet clothes.   At this point, the black jeggings I wore were glistening. That is how wet they were.  About an hour had passed. I was still not admitted. I was LIVID.

They finally called me back to a bed in the triage area where I.....wait for it.... waited for a bed upstairs. The nurse checked me. I was already four centimeters dilated. They hooked me up to the monitors.  My contractions got even more intense.  I made a few work phone calls to touch base with my co-workers.  (I only had a major event with over 4,000 attendees the following week.)  But the phone calls had to stop as my contractions intensified. They hurt more when I laid down so I sat up.  That didn't do the trick so I straddled the bed.  My feet hung under the curtain of the adjacent patient.  My neighbor debated whether they would send her back home. And then she commented, " She is definitely in labor." She was talking about me.

I really wanted an epidural at this point. But I couldn't get one until I went upstairs. And there were no beds. So I waited... in pain.  I know some people feel that natural labor is beautiful.  Well, that's NOT me.  I used to suffer from painful cramps.  The kind of pains that had me screaming, in tears, saying prayers, and one time in an ambulance.  Been there. Done that. I wanted my drugs.  Now.

"I want to go to sit on the toilet." What they say is right. I don't know why, but sitting on a toilet eases contractions.  I hung over my husband as I sat.  Finally, transport arrived. Thank God.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"I have a feeling that she's coming today..." (A Baby Story: Part 1)

I recently came across the story of my first born, Mariah. So I figured I'd share her birth story.  While I'm at it, I'll work on Ava's birth story as well. It's still fresh in my mind although it was almost 8 months ago...

It was Tuesday, April 19th. My hubby and I were talking during our daily midday phone call and he said, "I have a feeling that she's coming today".  Why would my hubby would say such a thing when I wasn't due until May 12th?  Well, we had known for a while that I would go into early labor.  In fact, for two weeks I had been walking around a centimeter dilated (no big deal) and fully effaced (big deal).  Every day my husband would ask jokingly, "Are you ready to go to the hospital?"  But that day was different. Instead he said, " I have a feeling that she's coming today."

Fast forward to approximately 3 p.m.  I started to feel contractions. I walked from my office to the main office to sit with my co-worker. ( I didn't want to be by myself. ) I sat and breathed.  They were coming about 5 minutes apart. But I always feel contractions. I'm just overreacting. This is another false alarm.  I returned to my office.  They either subsided or I ignored them.  I proceeded to work on my numerous projects.  Not knowing when I would go into labor was nerve wracking. I have to tie up as many loose ends as possible.  I decided to stay late to get as much work done as I possibly could.

It was approaching 6 p.m. when I suddenly felt a wave of exhaustion. I leaned back in my chair and GUSH.  Did my water just break or did I just pee on myself?!  No, I couldn't be in labor. I went to the bathroom to pee. I peed. Then another GUSH. Ok. I'm definitely in labor.  I walked back to my office and called my doctor's after hours line.  They told me the doctor on duty would return my call. I proceeded to call my mom, my hubby, and my sister.  My mom said she would meet me at the hospital. My hubby had just gotten home so he would pick me up with my hospital bag.  My sister would meet me at my office since I work at her college. 

The doctor returned my phone call. He asked, "How do you know you are in labor?"

I replied, "Well I was sitting here and I felt water gushing.  Then I went to the bathroom and I gushed again. And as I am talking to you, I'm gushing AGAIN."

The doctor responded,  "Sounds like you are in labor." Duh.  "Clean yourself up, change your clothes, and then head to the hospital." Right... I'm at work. Great.

What now?  ( I was suprised by my calm temperament.)

I started to organize my desk based upon my various projects so that my co-workers could pick up where I left off.  (I knew I would not be back the next day. Once your water breaks, you MUST have the baby due to risk of infection.) I packed up my laptop and packed my work bag.

My sister arrived.  I asked her to walk down the hall with me to our work closet.  I was soaking wet and uncomfortable. I decided to get one of the beach towels that we award our seniors. In our common area, one of my students asked jokingly, "Hi Latoya! Have that baby yet?" Boy was he suprised by my answer.

 "Actually I'm in labor right now. My water just broke."


Friday, January 25, 2013

Do what you love, love what you do (Part 2)

At age 21 with only a few bills (car insurance and cell phone), no rent, no responsibilities...why not?  Why not take the time to figure out what I REALLY wanted to do, rather than thrust myself into a career I would hate?

For three months, I did temp. work and took the time to figure it all out.  I looked back at my college years and I realized that I had suprisingly fallen in love with my job as a tour guide --- which was originally just a resume builder. (Go figure.) I applied for so many jobs I lost count. I landed an interview in the NY area, didn't get it. I was offered a job in Laurel, MD. My mom opposed to the move, so I took a job at the local Enterprise. (Worst decision ever!) After three months of customers telling me I was too smart for the job and grinding down my favorite pair of BCBG shoes, I had enough.  Just as I was about to send out applications for jobs and grad school, I got the call... from an admissions job I applied to in June.  A few interviews later, I was hired. 

A career as a college administrator is definitely not a job that rakes in the big bucks, but I know that as I progress in my career the money will come.  I have tons of apartment horror stories and Ramen Noodle tales to prove that it isn't easy.  But despite it all, I've fallen in love with my career.  Each day is different. Each day is a challenge.  And each day I learn more about myself.

Do what you love, love what you do.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Do what you love, love what you do

In life, when we think about love we think of God, our families, our significant others, even our clothes and  our cars. But too often, we neglect the one thing that monopolizes a majority of our lives --our jobs. Think about it.  Eight hours a day, five days a week, for forty-five years.  If not more.  You spend more time at work than with your family (especially in America where vacation is not part of our vocabulary).  So why wait till the weekend or retirement to do what you truly love?

While in college, I was given some valuable piece of advice,  "Do what you love and the money will come".  (But of course, I didn't heed this advice while IN college.)  I didn't truly understand the magnitude of this statement until I was unemployed after graduation...trying to figure out my next move and the rest of my life. 

Back then, I was a bonafide overachiever.  My major and career choices often centered on prestige and salary.  When researching colleges, my major was Computer Science. When I applied to college, my major was History (Pre-Law). When I enrolled in college, it was Business Administration. (I actually wanted Fashion Merchandising, but was afraid of the stigma.) 

Freshman year, I set foot in the Career Services Center to begin working on my resume. (I am now a resume expert due to the amount of time I spent tweaking mine.)  With a goal of working in the Fashion Industry, I worked in retail for over two years. I became a tour guide to improve my communication skills and a campus leader to strengthen my leadership skills.  Then came the culmination of my college experiences.  The summer before senior year, I landed a Store Management Internship and loved  loathed it. (What an anti-climax.)   As much as I loved clothes, I didn't love them enough to deal with the bureocracy of management (you will find that in any job) and the audacity of some customers. I needed something more to get me through the eight hour day.  But what?

My senior year became a year of self-discovery.  And while I tried to figure things out...I applied: 
-To entry-level Marketing jobs. (That I had absolutely no interest.) 
-To graduate school. (After speaking with the Human Resources Recruiter at my store, I thought I would       love that career.  An HR internship that Spring taught me that  HR Personnel are buried in paperwork and don't really deal with Humans.) 

I was offered jobs.
I was accepted to grad schools.
And I turned them all down. 

Why... you ask?

I'll let you know tomorrow.  (I didn't realize this would be so long.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Before Meets After: Mommy Transformation

You see that AFTER? I worked HARD for that. REALLY HARD.

As a mom, it takes serious effort to look good. And I swear, I will NEVER have the details down like I did before kids.  But I'm OKwith that. As long as I don't take the easy road and bum it out.  I remember when I was a new mom on a trip to Babiesrus. One of the workers was surprised that I looked so good. I had on an easy, figure-flattering summer dress. Some of the other moms didn't...  Being a mom is hard. But I refuse to dress in a way that announces it to the world. 

With that said, let's discuss how hard it was to get to after....

This is me. The morning of the event.  You see... the night before I started my hair at 9 p.m. after my hubby and I put the kids to bed. I detangled, wash and deep conditioned, and then realized that the shampoo re-tangled my hair a bit. I was over it. Beyond over it. So, instead of fighting with my hair, I banded it so that it would not dry shrunken.  It took less than 5 minutes and I saved my hair from me ripping it out. I then painted my nails and went to bed.  (Mind you, I never paint my nails because I'm always scared they will get chipped.)

The next morning, we got the kids up and went through our morning routine. I then braided my oldest daughter's hair in case my hubby wanted to take the girls out. Remember those nails that I never paint, because I'm scared they will chip? They chipped. 

Once the girls were all set. I removed my nail polish and got to work on my hair. I pulled out the blow dryer to get my hair 80% dry. I pulled my hair back into puff and rolled it forward. I twisted the front to give it some texture.  

After a minor freak out about what to wear, I decided to stop at the mall to pick up a tank for my sheer top. (All the others were stained or stretched. I'm a mom, remember?)  While at the mall, I also picked up concealer. (I obviously can't make it to the mall often. I need start using mail order. ) I met my mom and my sis at my mom's house. I finished getting dressed, released and pinned my twists, and put on my makeup.  

Phew! I'm tired just recapping this story. It was a struggle, but I made it. And I felt good about how great I looked. (Great confidence builder, I tell ya...)

Jenell (another mom) of
at New Hair Resolutions 2013

How do you look fabulous despite your busy schedule?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hair Typing 101 (Part 2)

In part one of the hair typing series, I broke down the various aspects of hair typing: curl pattern, porosity, texture, density, and elasticity.  But now the question do you put this information into practice?

The easiest way to explain this is to use myself as an example.

When I  first went natural. I was quite confused.  Everyone was throwing around terms, products I had to try, and declaring curl types left and right.  Needless to say, I purchased product after product...that didn't work.

That is when I started to take the time to truly understand my hair.  And not just the Andre Walker Typing System, which is limited in its utility.  I learned about various aspects of hair typing so I could better understand how to moisturize and style my hair.  And that is when I had my major breakthrough.

For the record, I am a 3C (in my crown), 4A and 4B in some sections. But honestly, all you need to know is that I have kinky hair. From that, you know that it is more difficult for hair sebum to reach the ends of my hair.  Other than that, it is just aesthetics. The size of my curl.

For me, the most useful information is "porosity".  I guess if I had normal porosity, it wouldn't be so important to me. But since I have low porosity. It is.  Let me explain low porosity a little more so that you can better understand my dilemma.  I was that girl who kept the relaxer in longer, because it just woudn't "take". And today, I'm that girl who stands under the shower head FOREVER because it takes forever for my hair to feel wet.  Products that others rave about just sit on top of my hair without "penetrating".  It is truly an art to get moisture into my hair.  But as I studied more about porosity and perked up my ears when others described having the same issues, a whole new world opened up for me. [And I must point out, I learned about moisturizing my hair from those whose hair looked NOTHING like mine. ]So armed with this information, I'm an aloe vera, mimosa hair honey, spritz bottle toting gal. All because I KNOW how to moisturize my hair. Think about it this way.  You wouldn't buy makeup foundation without knowing whether your skin is dry, normal, or oil would you? So why would you do that when buying hair products?

To me, the second most useful is hair texture. I have medium-thick strands. You know all those people who fear heat damage? I'm not one of them. I'm not saying I can't heat damage my hair -- because I have -- but it is harder for me to do so. Why, you ask? Because my strands are thicker. They are more resilient.  Due to trial and error, I've learned my heat limits.  In fact, for me, wash and gos cause way more damage to my hair.  But for some, with finer strands, heat can seriously wreak havoc on their hair. But if you know your hair texture, you are better prepared to deal with heat and mechanical damage concerns.

The other two typing,  I don't really think about it. My hair has a lot of shrinkage and I've embraced it. My hair is dense. Very dense. I've embraced that too.  Detangling is more of a challenge for me, but I have a very full and vibrant head of hair.

So I guess you would say this is more of a testimonial... 

Each hair types with its own their pros and cons. But if you take the time to learn  your hair, the pros will far outweigh the cons.

What questions do you have about hair typing?  What additional information would you like me to provide on this blog?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

So you want to go to grad school... (Dispelling myths)

Source: Google Images

As an academic advisor (one of my many titles), I often advise students on grad school preparation.  A major part of my discussion is centered on dispelling myths and misconceptions of graduate school. Since I recall having those same misconceptions and I know many in the blogging world are interested in graduate school, I figured I'd pass on my knowledge...

1.  Grad school is NOT  a place to find yourself. That is the purpose of college.  I know it is very tempting to hideout in a grad school and ride out the recession, but if you are still unfocused...grad school is not for you. While in college, you should fully utilize your experience. Get involved.  Do research.  Do internships. Find yourself.  Conduct as much of your trial and error, while you are in college when you have no responsibilities and no bills.  (This is important whether you plan on attending graduate school or entering the working world.)  If you still haven't found yourself after graduation, consider short-term internship programs, Americorps, Peace Corps, Teach for America, or similar programs.  Quite a few of these programs, provide scholarships to pay loans or to apply toward graduate study.

2. When you apply to graduate school, you should have a defined area of study.  Graduate programs are very specific. When you apply to graduate school, you focus on your specific graduate program and the faculty's research area.  Even if you have a 4.0 GPA, if you write in your personal statement that you are interested in social policy and there is no faculty in that research area... you will not be accepted.  Do your research. Know the faculty.

3. You shouldn't pay for graduate school.  Unless you are going to grad school part-time or  pursuing a professional degree (M.D., J.D., M.B.A.), your education should be free.  Graduate students generally receive graduate assistantships, where you work for 20 hours a week and receive tuition and a living stipend.  They are harder to receive due to budget cuts, but they are they key to research in the sciences.   Another option is a Hall Directorship.  To attain this position, you should get experience as a Resident Assistant during your undergraduate years. 

Does anyone else have any advice?  Anything I should expound upon? In my next post, I can touch upon my personal journey....

So you want to go to grad school.... (Part 2)

In my prior post, I dispelled three myths that people often have about graduate study. Today, I'll let you know how I learned these lessons.

1. Grad school is NOT a place to find yourself. That is the purpose of college.

In college, I learned a lot about myself.  Like a true West Indian [as my friends describe], I often had 3 jobs at a time.  (They all had flexible schedules, where I could work as much or as little as I wanted.) 
Let's do the job/internship role call: Summer Camp Counselor; On-call Macy's Sales Associate; Kohl's Store Management Intern; Blue Hen Ambassador (tour guide); Coke Campus Manager (marketing and athletic event promotion); and Human Resources Intern.

Through trial and error, I learned what aspects of jobs/careers I liked ...and what I didn't like.  Although, I worked at Macy's for two years, it wasn't until I worked at Kohl's that I realized that I couldn't do retail/fashion for 40 hrs/wk. Nor could I do corporate. I just didn't like clothes that much.  I met a recruiter there and thanks to my Labor Relations and Human Resources classes, I became interested in that area.  My senior year, I applied and was accepted to grad school for Human Resources.  A Human Resources internship showed me that HR was mostly mind numbing paperwork.  I kindly turned down my acceptance.

2. When you apply to graduate school, you should have a defined area of study.

When I first graduated college,  I still wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do.  Working for two years as a Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment, helped me to define my interests. Working with underprivileged populations made me want to focus on education policy.  I wanted to either work for government, a non-profit, or higher education to improve access to higher education. 

3. You shouldn't pay for graduate school.

In graduate school, I had a graduate assistantship which paid my tuition and provided a living stipend. In return, I worked 20 hours/week on education policy issues. I conducted research and developed reports that were used to attain federal funding and to improve education in our state. I also helped to plan workshops for teachers and administrators.  It was very fulfilling work.  It augmented what I learned in the classroom, AND  it paid.  No, you won't be rich. But with student tax adjustments, my take-home pay was only about $300 less than my meagre salary as an Admission Counselor.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hair Typing 101 (Part I)

Let's face it. Hair typing gets a bad rap. A really bad rap.  It is viewed as the categorization of "good" and "bad" hair textures.  Women can be found online asking others to categorize them.  Stereotypes ensue and then hair typing gets a bad name.  But if you think beyond the Andre Walker Typing System ( 3C, 4A, etc.), you will find that understanding all aspects of hair typing will make your hair journey much easier.  Have you ever wondered why someone's hair may look just like yours, but the products they use don't work for you?  Or why some people are more susceptible to breakage? In this two part series, I'll first break down hair typing terminology. In the second part, I will explain how you can use it to better understand your hair.

Black hair is very complex. No two heads of hair are alike. In fact, hairs on one head may not act alike. That is what makes us unique. But that also can be a challenge to fully understand. Our hair has various curl patterns (3C, 4A, etc.), textures, density, porosity and elasticity. It may seem very complicated, but here is the breakdown:

Curl Pattern

The Andre Walker Typing System is the most common system used to describe curl pattern.  Essentially, most Black women have curly (3) or kinky (4) hair. The A, B and C refer to the diameter of the curl. (Although some women refer to their hair has "G" or "Z" hair. There is no such thing. They are just using that to emphasize how "kinky" their hair is.) The typing system is helpful with understanding how your hair may look if you copy a particular style.  You can also infer that hair that is kinkier will be drier, because the tighter curl pattern makes it more difficult for natural hair sebum to reach the ends of the hair.  You should not infer that kinkier hair is stronger. This is false.  Hair texture determines hair strength, which I will discuss next.

The Quick and Easy Curl Pattern Guide:

1 = Straight Hair
2 = Wavy Hair
3 = Curly Hair   
     A = Curl diameter of sidewalk chalk
     B = Curl diameter of a sharpie
     C = Curl diameter of a pencil
4  = Kinky Hair
   A = Curl diameter of a needle
   B = Zigzag curl pattern
   C = No curl pattern


Hair Texture refers to the thickness or diameter of the hair strand.  Your hair can be fine, medium (normal) , or thick (coarse). Fine hair is delicate --with less protein structure --  and doesn't hold curls well.  Fine hair is more prone to breakage, especially if it is also prone to dryness.  Medium (normal) has more protein structure than fine hair, but it is more pliable than coarse hair. Coarse hair is a thicker hair strand, holds curls well, but it is less pliable than fine or medium hair. 


Density refers to the number of strands on your head.  Those with low density hair are more likely to have issues with scalpy twists.  High density means you have a lot of hair strands.  When you refer to someone's hair as "thick", it is normally in reference to density.


Porosity refers to how your hair strands retain moisture.  If you are having issues moisturizing your hair, this is a very important concept to grasp. Low porosity hair is difficult to get moisture into the hair. Normal (Medium) porosity hair is fairly easy to get moisture into the hair shaft and retain that moisture. High porosity hair has a very difficult time retaining moisture because water enters and leaves the shaft easily. (NOTE: Overly porous hair is normally due to chemical and mechanical damage and is even more difficult to moisturize.) To test your hair porosity, place a shed hair in water and follow the guide below. It is also important to note that hair porosity can change over time due to use of chemicals, heat, and age of hair.

Quick and Easy Guide to Porosity
Low Porosity = Closed Cuticle = Hair floats in water during hair porosity test = Difficult to get moisture into hair
Normal Porosity = Cuticle layer opens enough to allow  moisture = Hair take a long time to sink = Easy to moisturize and retain that moisture
High Porosity = Raised cuticle layer = Hair quickly sinks to the bottom = Absorbs water easily


Elasticity refers to the "stretchiness" of your hair, which is how much you hair will stretch and then return to its normal state. If your hair is healthy, when wet, it should stretch 50% or more and return to its normal state.  Unhealthy hair may only stretch about 20% when wet. Hair that is not elastic is more prone to breakage. It is also harder to curl with rollers or heat styling tools. To test for elasticity, pull strands from at least four areas of your head.  Determine how much it springs break, how quickly it springs break, and whether your hair breaks.

So there you have it! The simple breakdown of "hair typing". As you can see, it is much more than 1, 2, 3 and A, B, C. [Sorry I couldn't resist the rhyme.] It is also important to note,that you can have any combination of these characteristics. (So although you think your hair looks like "Ebony" when you watch her video... it's not.) In the next installment, take things a step further.  I'll explain why hair typing is important and how you can use this to sort through the plethora of information available on the web.

But for now... How do you think you will use this information?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Girl Crush

As a new mom, I struggle with finding a routine that allows me to balance family, career... and ME. The first video in the Girl Crush series was very refreshing. It was great to know other moms leave the house with minimal (or no) makeup just like me. I will admit that I have the lofty goal of wearing some makeup. Right now, I only use a moisturizer (it's not even tinted), clear mascara, lipgloss,and my eyebrow brush. (Does the eyebrow brush even count?) I'm also trying to be more consistent with eating a healthy, balanced diet and daily exercise.  I'm a work in progress, but for now I'm taking things one day at at time.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Black Hair Media Articles

If you didn't notice, I am a staff writer for Black Hair Media. For your convenience, I have included links in the menu bar and in the left column. Please feel free to check out my "Natural Corner" and comment.  Here are some of my most recent articles:

Product Review of Qhemet Biologics
Hair Products for Less than $5
Scalp Soothing Remedies
Clay as a Shampoo Alternative
Washing and Detanglng Natural Hair
Making the Most of a Hair Show
Twistout Tips
Hair Product Recipes

Hair Typing Series

Andre Walker Typing System
Hair Texture

Please check out the articles and let me know what you think!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

How to Cut Down Your Detangling Time

Today, I have a guest post on Natural Hair Rules!

In September, I set a record. It took a whopping three days to detangle my hair. A styling assistant washed my hair in a circular motion, which caused numerous tangles. Then, he proceeded to brush my hair from the root and in a rough manner. ( And continued to do so after I expressed concern.) To top it off, the stylist put my dry, matted hair into flat twists. It took three days to remove deadlocks and shed hairs wrapped around my strands. Some of it was detangled. Some of it was cut.  For the last few months, I  have continued to cut shredded ends.

This is a tale of caution. Extreme example? Maybe. But does it provide some valuable lessons? Yes. If it is taking you hours to detangle your hair, it is likely because your techniques are causing excessive tangling. So if you are wondering why it is taking you so long to detangle your hair, here's why:

You do wash and gos...
When I was pregnant, I was too exhausted to twist my hair. Instead, I opted to do wash and gos. It got me out the door, but I paid for it dearly when it was time to detangle. When you stretch your hair in twists and braids, it prevents your curls from coiling around eachother. Once I returned to my regular twist/twistout regimen, my detangling time was cut down significantly.

You don't trim your ends...
It is a major debate over how often you should trim your hair. But a tell-tale sign that its time for a trim is detangling issues. If you find your comb continuously getting caught at ends of your hair -- and breakage-- then it's time for a trim. 

You don't wash your hair in sections...
I used to hate washing my hair in sections because it was an added step. That was until I learned that it cut the length of my I overall wash session. You can braid (or clip) your hair in four or more sections and attack each section one at a time. Remember to focus on your scalp and then run the shampoo down your hair shaft. (Don't scrub like the styling assistant did. It causes tangles.) You can even try detangling prior to your wash since washing your hair causes some shrinkage (and tangling).

You don't add slip...
Slip is the key to detangling with ease. When my hair was uber tangled after my nightmare styling session, I used an entire bottle of cheapie conditioner and detangled my hair in sections under running water. To add slip, you can use water, conditioner, and/or oil.

So there you have it! The reasons why it is taking you so long detangle your hair. Hopefully, incorporating these methods will cut down on your detangling time.

Do you have any other detangling tricks up your sleeve?

Vintage Post: A Braid Out Story

Stories normally start at the beginning.  They introduce the characters, build the plot, anti-climax, and bring the story home.  But in this story, the middle is the most satiating part of the story.  So let's start "in medias res".  (And yes, I looked up the term.)

My hair for my first date night out with the hubby (after baby).

And here's how we got here...

I adjusted my twist out method for a braid out.  For my braid out, I braided my hair and two stranded twisted the ends. I used Shea Moisture on wet hair and sealed the ends with shea butter.

I put coconut oil on my braids and took them down. What the french toast?!  FAIL! Thumbs WAY down. 

Whenever my curls look funny, I pull them close together. It creates a great illusion. So I separated my braids into smaller curls and pulled them into a puff using a headband.  (Check out this video tutorial by bronzeqt.)  I then put Carol Daughter's Some of Marguerite's Magic on the front and laid it down with a head wrap.

And voila!  I got dressed and then dressed up my puff with a headband.  [Refer to "In medias res"]

Day 2

Day 3 (not pictured)  It shrunk and got a little frizzy so I randomly twisted large sections of my hair and sealed the ends with shea butter. The next day I moisturized with CD's Marguerite's Magic, Mimosa Hair Honey, and jojoba oil. (There was no method to my madness. I just put product on until it felt and looked right)

Day 4 - The results of my big random twists. Love!

 Day 5- My hair is the frizzness. Time to redo.  That night I dampened my hair, and rebraided using the original method. 

Does anyone else have any braid out tips? Please feel free to share!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Welcome to "Busy Life. Fab Hair.", a blog dedicated to helping natural women fit their hair routine into their busy lifestyles. Here, you will not only learn how to cut your styling time, but how to embark on your natural hair journey in a more formalized manner. And, of course, you will find tidbits on how to manage various aspects of a busy life.

How to Navigate...

The official launch date for the blog is January 1, 2013.  You will notice that there are various posts in December  -- including posts entitled "Vintage Posts".  These are posts imported from my old blog, "The Quarter Life Chronicles".  This is used to indicate that the particular post is from an earlier point in my hair and life journey.

In the top menu bar, you will find links to all "life" posts in the "Busy Life" section and all "hair" posts in the "Fab Hair" section.  You will also find links for my "Black Hair Media" articles and "Tumblr".  You can also find posts by using the "Search" feature" in the top right hand corner. Another great trick is to utilize the "labels" links at the bottom of each post. I am working on fine tuning the organization of the blog so that topics are easy to find. If you have any comments or suggestions, please e-mail me at busylifefabhair(at)

In the left column, you will find my features on popular blogs and websites. It is a great place to start if you would like to learn more about me and my hair regimen.

How to Follow...

There are many ways to follow me and the blog.  (Check out my social media links in the top right hand corner.)

Follow me on Facebook.

Follow me on Instagram. (I am VERY active there.)

Follow me on Twitter.

Follow me via Feedburner.

Follow me on Tumblr.

How to Contact Me...

E-mail me at busylifefabhair(at) with any business inquiries or general questions.

Submit photos and questions to my Tumblr.

Re-Authoring Your Story

Last spring, in my "Theories of Counseling" course,  I was introduced to Adlerian Theory. In his theory, progress in  therapy was marked by changes in early childhood recollections.  I understood the theory-- enough to do well on the test.  But it wasn't until my "Student Affairs" course --which borrows from psychology and sociology -- this fall that I truly got it.  In one of my readings, we learned about "re-authoring your story".  According to this, a student reached maturity when they learned how to "re-author their story". It was then that I truly got it.  Here is my interpretation...

What does it mean to "re-author your story"?  Does the plot change?  Does the outcome of the villain change? Are chapters of the story wiped out? If only it were that easy...

When you re-author your story, you change the one aspect of the story that you can control. YOU.  When you read a novel, the author's voice sets the tone of the story.  The inflections of voice and reflections on occurrences, change how the story is told and how it is perceived to readers.  In life, the same holds true. Although you may not be able to rewrite your story, you do have the ability to re-author it.

I have learned that in life it is easy to play the role of the victim.  It is easy to focus on how life isn't fair and dwell on the hand you've been dealt.  But sadly, playing the victim doesn't get you anywhere in life. Why?  Because when you perceive yourself as being the victim of your circumstances, you relinquish all of your power.  Think about it. In every story you have read, when has the victim overcome their circumstances?  When they stopped wallowing in self-pity, and decided to do something.  They did what was hard.  They stopped being the victim.

It's easier said than done. I know.  Some have been dealt the hand of broken homes, great betrayal, abuse, and other horror stories.  But what are your choices?  Play the victim and subject yourself to further abuse.  (You've seen such stories on TV on shows like Intervention and in real life --your neighbors, your families, and in the reflection in  your mirror.) Or you can move forward with your life...

Too many times we seek healing in an apology that many times may never come.  The closure you seek is within yourself.  When I understood this, I finally got the saying, "You have to forgive others, not for them, but for yourself."  When you forgive, you take back that power that they once held over you.  When you forgive, you allow yourelf to move forward in life. Otherwise, you remain stuck. Because while you've been fixated on the pain that person inflicted, they moved on a long time ago. Probably the second after the occurrence.  While you remained stuck, their life went on.  Thus, you've given them power, far beyond the hurt they inflicted upon you.  When you forgive them, you take back that power. 

Re-authoring your story doesn't happen overnight.  It may take weeks, months, and in some cases ... years.  You will never forget the pain. But you can choose to stop inflicting pain upon yourself. You can stop using it as your excuse for your poor choices.  You can move on.  Otherwise, you will remain stuck.  I learned that lesson many years ago.  And I haven't looked back since.... (Maybe, every once in a while I'll take a glance. But, I've learned to not let it hold me back.)

Let's Discuss.

Straight vs. Curly

No  it's not a straight vs. curly debate. I'm so beyond tired of those debates.

I decided to develop a reference chart for what my hair likes in its straight and curly states.  I figured it may be a helpful resource.

Does anyone else have any other straight vs. curly tips?

Guest Post: Resume Writing Tips

I am pleased to present today's guest post by Zakia Johnson. We attended high school and college together. So when she announced that she will be offering resume writing consultations ( ), I asked her to do a guest post. Here she shares her own experience and provides great resume writing tips!

Zakia Johnson is a counselor and adjunct faculty member at Howard Community College. Prior to joining the Howard Community College staff, she was employed at the University of Maryland Baltimore County as an academic advisor and program coordinator for the Erickson School where she assisted students in their academic, internship, and career development. She discovered her passion in student advocacy through her experiences as a student and staff member at the University of Delaware where she received her B.A in Criminal Justice/Sociology and her M.Ed. in College Counseling. Currently, she is actively pursuing her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration. She also is an active member of the Maryland and Delaware communities through her work as a mentor for My Sister’s Circle (in Baltimore, MD), Chair of the Board of Directors for Teens In Perspective, Inc. (serving the entire state of Delaware), and an active alum serving on the University of Delaware Black Alumni Organization's Homecoming Committee. Zakia lives in Randallstown, MD with her husband and daughter. She is ecstatic to encourage, empower, and educate students, colleagues, and peers to be active and contributing citizens!
As we all know, the job market is suffering and the people of the United States are struggling even more. The unemployment rate is at an all time low (as of June 2011, 9.2% Ref. ). I personally experienced the devastating impact of being laid off. In May of 2009, I was laid off from my former employer due to budget cuts from the company funding our department. Many of us in education often assume that we will ALWAYS have a job. As an active and successful higher education administrator, I never thought in a million years that I would be without a job. Boy was I up for a rude awakening! I took the 9 months I was laid off to reflect on my personal and career goals, became an active volunteer for two non-profit organizations, and revamped my resume. I literally sent out over 100 resumes and cover letters to different higher education institutions for varying positions. I was perplexed as to why I only received a few phone interviews, a handful of on-campus interviews, and several rejection letters. Clearly I was well qualified and capable of being a successful employee for most if not all the positions I applied for. So, I decided to review my resume again and identify what I needed to allow my resume to stand out from the hundreds of resumes recruiters see on a daily basis.
Below are some of the tips/tricks I used to make myself marketable and I believe they can be useful for anyone currently job searching:
1. Use design that grabs attention
The design of your resume must highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education. At first glance this information forms the image that employers have of your skills and abilities.

2. Create content that sells
Resume design should get attention but it's really the content of your resume, the descriptions you include of your skills and abilities, that determine how many interviews you generate--as well as the level of salary offers you receive.

3. Tweak & target your resumes & cover letters
You will generate many more interviews by tweaking your resume and cover letter so that they address the specific skills each employer requests.

4. Spell Check & Proofread Grammar
I have been told by many recruiters and employers that they've passed on resumes that have grammar and spelling errors throughout the resume/cover letter. I strongly encourage you not only to use the spell check program in Word, but also go through your cover letters/resumes with a fine tooth comb to ensure there are no errors in either document--it could be the determining factor of whether you get an interview or not!
5. Consider a bulleted style to make your resume reader-friendly.
6. Don't stress yourself out by adhering to the one-page resume rule.
It's good to keep your resume to one page, if possible. But if you have a lot of experience, two pages may be more appropriate. If your resume spills beyond one page, but you have less than a half a page of material for the second page, it may be best to condense to one page.
7. Do NOT lie on your resume--the truth shall set you free!
8. Make sure that each page of your resume has your name on it.
Sometimes recruiters/employers/search committees can lose pages. I would recommend making your first and last name the header of each page after the first (since the first page should already have your name and contact info on it).
9. Do consider a section such as "Summary of Qualifications," or "Profile," which can also help sharpen your focus. Here is an example from my own resume:
Professional Profile
· Resourceful, creative problem-solver with proven aptitude to analyze and translate student development theories into practice.
· Proficient educator who has designed and implemented innovative approaches to student learning in traditional and non-traditional educational settings.
· Organized administrator with effective oral and written communication skills.
· Dynamic leader with the ability to articulate the varying approaches/models for multicultural education.
· Visionary professional with proven aptitude to develop and implement departmental short and long range goals.
· Collaborative team player with demonstrated ability to interact well with a diverse group of people at a local, national, or global level
· Efficient in Microsoft Program Use: PowerPoint, Word, and Excel
10. Be mindful of how you display professionalism in your resume--your first impression is often your last! 
Using your email address from college or high school (e.g. or the ) is not displaying the best first impression. 
Remember, your resume is not the only tool to get you the job, but it will definitely assist in getting your foot in the door for the first interview...the rest is up to you and how you market yourself! 
If you are interested in having your resume and/or cover letter created/reviewed/revamped by Zakia Johnson, please send an email to

Zakia Johnson, M.Ed.

Guest Post: 5 Tips for Successful Menu Planning

Today, as part of Blog Love Friday, we have a guest post from TiAnna from"The Fab Life For...Free" .

For me, there’s nothing worse than coming home to an emaciated husband and child searching for dinner, only to find that there’s nothing thawed out and the food that we have in our house won’t make a complete meal. Then there’s the grueling follow-up questions of: “What should we do?” and “Where should we go to get something to eat”. I admit, my men are spoiled, but they depend on me for nourishment, and I don’t mind that because I know how to cook a balanced meal at the cheapest price, and they on the other hand have a long way to go in learning how to do that. Everyone is drained of energy and time zapped these days. Between an hour commute to work, overtime, soccer games, and dance practice, that leaves dinner some where between a McDonald’s drive thru and Hamburger Helper. Which, I’m not bashing either option, but obviously you can’t live healthily on those choices alone.

Menu planning has helped me to save an average of $280/ month, I don’t throw as much food away, my family definitely eats better and we stay within a reasonable daily calorie count, and I have more time to do the things that I want to do, like exercise.

Here are five tips to help you get started.

1. Plan ahead in reasonable increments. For instance, I menu plan for two weeks at a time, because I do my household budget in two week increments, and I know I probably won’t make it to the store any more frequent than that.

2. Choose your meals wisely and give yourself grace. So, you saw a stuffed porkchop with pear sauce and asparagus and garlic mashed potato recipe that you’d like to try, but you’ve never made it. It’s always great to try new things, however, don’t plan to make this meal on the day you have Zumba class at 6:30 pm, you get off work at 5 pm, and have to get your kids from daycare at 5:30 pm. That is not a realistic goal, and you will only discourage yourself. Plan to make a meal like this when you have more time, possibly a Sunday dinner.

3. Build your plan with insurance. Build in leftover days, date nights, and “fun” food nights. I enjoy cooking, however, the meals that I prepare can be time consuming. Therefore, I build my men-plan to accommodate 3-4 cooking days and 3-4 leftover days, which works beautifully for my schedule. Depending on my evening commitments during any given season, I tend to cook Friday thru Monday and have leftovers Tuesday thru Thursday. Also, if you know you only have a small window of time to prepare dinner, then make sure you schedule that day as a leftover day, eating out day, or even better…frozen food day. I really enjoy Stouffer’s Lasagna’s and Bertolli pasta. These meals are quick , not too bad for you, and don’t require much prep work or clean up. Although, if you have a large family, these options may not work for you.

4. Build your plan with sales, holidays, and parties in mind. If you know you’re having a huge family Thanksgiving dinner party and there will be a ton of leftovers, make sure to have as many leftover days as your family can stand, then freeze the rest, and bring it back out in a month or so. We all know that it costs to put on a dinner party, and let’s not mention all the prep work; capitalize on all the time and money spent by giving yourself a break through leftover days. Also, if you are an avid couponer or really search through the sale ads, then plan your meals around the reduced cost items that you find. For instance, leading up to Memorial Day you can find meats, corn on the cob, barbeque sauce, and paper towels for a lot cheaper than they normally are, and that is the time to stock up on those items and put them into your plan

5. If you fall off the wagon…GET BACK ON AGAIN!!!

Here is my menu plan from January of this year. Please notice the scratch outs and write-overs; that’s called…GRACE! If something happens and your plan changes, don’t be so rigid that you can’t modify the plan. Wow…pizza 3 NIGHTS in a row!!! I can’t remember, but I must’ve been VERY busy at that time. Also, notice how there’s plenty of leftover days, and we also planned to have a meal out on certain days. This schedule is posted on my refrigerator for all to see; so it takes a lot of the uncertainty away for the hubsters and TrentMan.

Do you menu plan? What tips could you share that would be helpful in regards to menu-planning?

Guest Post: Protective Style Options

As promised, the posts will return this week after a long hiatus. I am currently uploading pics to my computer to prepare for my post. In the meantime, please check out this guest post from Dominique-Alexis of In her post, she talks about protective styling...something I need to do during the winter months.

By now I’m sure that all naturals are aware of the benefits of wearing two strand twists. They help keep moisture in your curls, they can be done on hair of all lengths, and you get a bonus style when you unravel them!

But do you know just how versatile twists can be? Here I’m going to talk about seven different ways that you can wear twists (two strand, three strand, sister, etc) besides the typical full set kind.

One: Half braided

I did this by braiding the top half of my younger sister’s twists and securing it with a purple Flexi8 hair clip. The clip is totally optional, of course. A hair elastic or hair clip would work as well.

Two: Twisted updo

There’s no right or wrong way to do this hair style. All you need is a hair clip, a banana clip, or bobby pins. Gather your twists in the back of your head and pin them in place with the hair accessory of your choice. You can also leave a few twists out in the front for bangs.

Three: Flat twisted & pinned

I achieved this look by adding four flat twists on either side of my sister’s head before putting the rest of her hair in two strand twists. After that I rolled, pinned, and tucked the twists until I got a braided updo look. Super cute and great for the office!
Four: Twists & cornrows

For this hair style I added five side cornrows before twisting up the rest of her hair. If you don’t know how to cornrow yet, then you can always do some flat twists instead.

Five: Braided twists

Okay so this one is pretty self-explanatory. I simply put my sister’s twists in a Dutch braid, which is the same thing as a cornrow. I’m sure a French braid would look as nice if not better, but I haven’t yet mastered that braid so I stuck with the Dutch braid.

Six: Braided updo

I had my sister lean over her bed with her hair hanging over the edge, then I Dutch braided her twists going towards the top of her head. Lastly, I secured it with a couple of bobby pins and added a bright yellow flower.

Seven: Tied twists

This is a great hair style for the office, weddings, and as a bonus it’s super protective. Start by gathering three twists in each hand at the very top of the head and tie them like you would for the first part of tying your shoelace. Now move down a little, gather a few more twists on either side right below that knot and tie those. Keep repeating until you get to the nape of your neck and end by tucking your ends underneath.

And that’s it! There are so many different ways that you can wear twists! Who says protective hairstyles have to be boring?
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