What My Mane is Teaching Me About Life

One of the most frustrating, but often fulfilling, things about being a naturalista is that you basically become a part-time hair stylist – without pay.

LifeUnless you hit the salon every week, you are responsible for making your own tresses look presentable. Which is reason No. 1 why I usually default to protective styles. Sometimes I just. Can’t. DEAL.

But there are other times when I enjoy spending time with my hair. I usually dread wash day, but yesterday was different, maybe because I tried a few new products including Shea Moisture’s African black soap purification masque and Gold N Hot’s conditioning heat cap for deep conditioning, and Camille Rose’s nourishing cream leave-in. My hair is happy now, and so am I.

As I was taking the time to care for my mane, I thought about the ways it’s teaching me some life lessons that I will carry with me always:

It’s best to work in sections.

I have Type 4 natural hair which means it’s much more kinky than it is curly, and the shrinkage is REAL. In order for me to manage my hair (and not just stand in front of the mirror sobbing uncontrollably about how I don’t want to deal with the drama that my wet hair brings), I have to break it up into smaller sections and tackle it one section at a time.

The same method can be applied to life. If you have areas of your life that you want to work on, you will get overwhelmed if you try to handle them all at once. Keep it simple and improve one area before you move on to the next.

You can’t get definition without help.

My hair doesn’t “clump” together in curls like other hair types, so I have to rely on butters, creams and pomades to get the curl definition I desire.

In life, you won’t learn everything on your own. There will be people who come into your space to teach you lessons – both good and bad – and help you make sense of things. Yes, independence is important, but you will often have to rely on your relationships with others to gather meaning.

There is no one-size-fits-all.

Snapchat Stoplight Selfie!

Snapchat Stoplight Selfie!

My hair is not like anyone else’s. Just because a certain combination of products or a hair care regimen may work for you does not mean that it works for me. It will take some trial and error before I get it right for my situation.

This is also true in life. As I’ve said before, my journey is my journey. I can most certainly soak up advice and inspiration along the way, but my route is custom-made and I’m more than fine with staying in my lane.

Has your hair taught you any life lessons? Feel free to share in the comments.

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5 inspirational gems from ‘Her Crown’

I mentioned in my last post that I’m reading the self-love book “Her Crown,” by Shana Bea and J. Chavae, this week.Her Crown

I’m not quite finished with it yet (confession: I’m a procrastinating reader), but I wanted to share a few of the many quotes I’ve highlighted that will serve as reminders to always remember my worth, hold myself to a higher regard and never compromise on the dreams and aspirations I have for my life because they are all valid.

Here are five inspirational gems from “Her Crown.”

1. “Strong and wise beyond measure, she knows to never give up. She trusts her heart, she understands her mind, she knows her own strength and she walks with her head held high.”

2. “Unfortunate situations that you find yourself in are only temporary. Remember that your crown doesn’t weigh you down it helps you to walk boldly.”

3. “You are your first priority and everyone and everything else outside of you is secondary.”

4. “Self-love is the best love and aids you with an outstanding opportunity that allows you to understand completely that you’re worthy of everything that you want, need and desire.”

5. “If you stay true to yourself, no matter how hard things can get, you’ll always be moving in the right direction.”

Do any of the quotes above stand out for you? Leave a comment below.

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Confessions of a New Brown Girl Blogger

I’m just shy of tScreen Shot 2014-12-30 at 7.17.26 PMwo months into blogging, but I have learned several lessons and can already tell I have much more to learn. While I didn’t decide to create a blog as a path to fame or fortune – but as an outlet and a way to connect with others who could relate to my personal experiences – I’ll admit my expectations may have been a bit outrageous at times.

Continue reading my guest post on Brown Girl Bloggers.

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What 2014 Has Taught Me

The last day of the year is here, but I don’t believe it to be a representation of things coming to a close. The days that follow when the clock strikes midnight won’t be a “fresh start” for me but a continuation of the work I’ve started of reveling in personal growth, positive vibes and self-love.

2014 knocked me down and picked me up more than a few times. It was a year of risks. I took a risk by launching a magazine – something I have always made a goal of mine but would let fear step in and disable me with the usual “what ifs” playlist on repeat. But enough is enough. I grew tired of the self-doubt.

2014I think being fed up with doubting myself and succumbing to fear also led me to step out of the comfort of living with roommates and venture out on my own. I was scared as hell for the first month but I wouldn’t trade the solitude and serenity, which can only be found by having your own place, for anything.

I also think my newfound penchant for taking risks allowed me to muster up the courage to create this blog. I sat on the idea for months and it never evolved past that stage until one day I decided to take action. It wasn’t enough for me to just write in my journal. I needed to create a space for myself to drown out the insecurities and dive headfirst into unearthing who I was, who I am and who I’m becoming.

Taking the time to reflect here on the many lessons I’ve learned – some of them brutal, all of them necessary – over the past 12 months will probably take what would feel like an eternity to outline, but there are a few things worth highlighting.

My four takeaways from 2014

1. Too much planning means too little action.

I’m notorious for over-planning and over-analyzing things to the point of talking myself out of trying something different or taking on a new challenge. But after I read Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz’s “Fail Fast, Fail Often” book earlier this year, I am forever changed, especially after reading this sentence:

“If you wait until you are free of anxiety and doubt, then you are going to spend a lot of time doing nothing.”

2. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t prepared, life is happening.

Throughout this year there have been times when I was ready to quit after being handed more than my fair share of bullshit. Being personally and professionally overwhelmed simultaneously is enough to make most want to cower in a corner and wait for the storm to pass. I don’t have the luxury of sitting idle. I’ve learned I have to roll with it because there are so many things I stress about that are simply out of my control and I need to conserve my energy for what truly matters. If I have to keep a bottle of Merlot on deck for the days when I’m hit hardest with emotional, mental and physical exhaustion, then so be it.

3. Heartbreak doesn’t discriminate.

It doesn’t matter how certain or secure you are of your romantic future, you can’t steer a relationship to success on your own. Reciprocity is key. You want someone who will give you the same unapologetic, unconditional and unmistakable love they’re expecting to receive. Until then, fall in love with YOU.

4. Finding your voice is essential to finding happiness.

I chose to stop walking on eggshells so much this year. My feelings, opinions and thoughts are valid and I needed to start living as if they are. Repressing the baggage wasn’t doing me any good and was bringing me to a breaking point. I had to learn to speak up for my sanity.

All of these lessons are coming with me to 2015; I’ll need them as I navigate another 12 months filled with new opportunities to make my mark on this world. Next year isn’t my chance to start over; next year represents my obligation to keep moving in the direction I’m destined to go: forward.

Happy New Year to you and yours!
-Crissi

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My Holiday Wish List

As I found myself getting caught up in the annual holiday hype, I needed to take a moment to recognize that everything I always stress over is secondary – the things that matter most aren’t accessible via cash or credit.Wish List

I was inspired after reading Amber Janae’s post to create a holiday wish list of my own. These are the things I desire that money can’t buy:

  1. Healing
  2. Peace of Mind
  3. Unconditional Love
  4. Closer Family Ties
  5. Consistency
  6. Self-Love
  7. Compassion
  8. Advancement
  9. Discernment
  10. Bangin’ Natural Hair!

What’s on your wish list? Let me know in the comments. Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season to you and yours!

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The Hardest Pill to Swallow

I decided it’s time for me to stop dismissing my feelings and wearing a straight face because, honestly, it’s exhausting having to keep it together all the time.

I need to start dealing with my heartbreak and sitting right here in my feelings. I’m human and I’m allowing myself to be just that. Walking through my hurt is the only way I can heal.

The hardest pill to swallow is realizing the one you love with every bit of your soul doesn’t really feel the same way about you.

PillI just knew I had love all figured out but everything I dreamed of having with him crumbled into pieces right in front of me and I could not prevent it. Nothing I could have said or done would have changed the outcome and that really fuels the anger and hurt I’ve been feeling. It bothers me when I’m not in control of a situation.

I was so certain that we were working toward the same goal of taking our relationship to the next level, and I was so confident that he wanted the same thing. I could not be any more mistaken. We were on two different chapters. We weren’t even in the same damn book.

That shit hurts like hell.

I have never felt heartbreak like this before. I’m forced to take things day by day, sometimes hour by hour.

I want to stay in bed all day and cry the pain away. I want to burst into tears at work while sitting in my cubicle and glaring at my desktop monitor. I want to drown my sorrows in another glass of chilled Merlot … or maybe some brown.

I am aching right now.

Everyone keeps telling me it will get better and I will look back and this will seem insignificant. That someone else will come along. I can’t even think that far ahead. Like Onika said, “When you in it you be thinking life is over!”

He was my first love, my first everything. He was supposed to be IT for me. We grew up together. We went from kids in full-blown puppy love to young adults trying to figure out our place in this world and fighting to keep our love afloat. Our lives were so entwined. We were family.

I still love him. A huge piece of me still wants to be with him. I want all of this to be some long, drawn-out, sick joke that went too far. For him to call me and say, “I messed up.”

But that’s not happening.

Life will not stop just because I have no clue where to go from here. I know I have to find a way to move forward. I haven’t the slightest idea when I will get through this, but I will.

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A Belated Toast to Year 25

I turned a quarter-century over the weekend and now that the celebrations are over and I’ve had time to recover, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve reflected on while counting down my bornday.

The last year of my 20-something life has been nothing short of eventful. I’ve been through upsets, resets and everything in between. I’ve questioned my purpose and had my faith tested too many times to count.

I’ve witnessed everything I was sure to be my romantic future shatter before my tear-filled eyes and slither away from my grip. As I’ve said before, I’ve had to repeatedly learn to accept that there are many things that aren’t in my control and I should refocus my energy on the things that are within my reach, like entertaining my interests and pursuing my passions.

“I’m finally realizing that I can be my own greatest obstacle but I’m instead choosing to be my biggest cheerleader.”

Year 24 was me fully stepping out of post-college limbo and into adulthood. Year 24 was me finding my voice and using it unapologetically, without having to walk on eggshells and be concerned with stepping on toes. Year 24 was the start of me claiming power over my existence and the vibes I put out into the world, rather than handing that power over to others who hadn’t thought twice about me and my feelings.

25I’m not anywhere near having it all figured out, but I’m taking time to get better in touch with my needs and wants. I hear constantly how this is the time of my life that is meant to be lived a little selfishly. I have to focus on the things that bring me happiness and cut loose anything that is emotionally draining and counterproductive. I have to stop reciting excuses and grant myself more writing time. Most of all, I have to fall in love with ME.

At least once everyday since my birthday I find myself saying, “Damn, I’m twenty-five.” I can’t quite put into simple words why this age is so significant, but it feels amazing to me. Maybe it’s a combination of finally realizing that I’m not the naïve teen – or even the 20-year-old – I used to be and understanding that I still have more to learn and so much to accomplish. It could be that I’m finally realizing that I can be my own greatest obstacle, but I’m choosing instead to be my biggest cheerleader.

Whatever this feeling is, it makes all the bull I’m subjected to seem like insignificant little sticks in the sand.

Goals for the Week of Dec. 1

Monday arrived rather quickly, didn’t it? Anywhooo, I hope that each and every one of my readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and enjoyed spending time with family and friends. I’m still exhausted from traveling but I’m getting right back to the grind.

I took a cue from The Alisha Nicole and decided to share my goals for this week:

1. Finish reading “The Defining Decade.”

I’m such a procrastinator! I’m about 85 percent through Meg Jay’s book, “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – And How to Make the Most of Them NowDon't Just Stand There.” It’s a really great read and it has put a lot of things in perspective for me while I navigate life as a 20-something, and helped me realize that I should be taking advantage of opportunities that enhance my “identity capital.” I highly recommend adding this book to your reading list.

2. Write and publish two more posts.

This will be a little challenging. I’m still a newbie to blogging and I’m all over the place right now, but I’m working on establishing some consistency. This time of year is always hectic for me, so I have to work on carving out time and dedicating it solely to the blog. This is an ongoing project that I would love to see blossom into something great.

3. Toast to Year 25.

Turn up!!! My 25th birthday is just five days away and I keep shifting between states of excitement and paranoia, but that’s a post for another day. I’m making plans to let loose a little and celebrate with my lovely friends. I will also use this week to reflect on the things Year 24 taught me.

What are you up to this week?

3 Things I Told Myself This Week

Before my mind fully transitions into weekend mode, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on what seemed like another whirlwind of a week and the pep talks I needed to get me through.

Here are three things I had to tell myself – in many cases, more than once – over the last few days:

1. You are more than capable. Unapologetically You

Self-doubt is an every-other-day demon in my life. I have to remind myself: Whatever the challenge or task, you have the ability to tackle it. Don’t let fears of the unknown continue to paralyze you. Don’t force yourself into a psychological meltdown by filling your head with worst-case scenarios of failure and fallout. As long as you put forth your best effort, that’s all that matters. You got this.

2. There are things in your life that you cannot control.

Huh?? About half of the time I hear this from my loved ones, it goes in one ear and out the other, which makes it a much harder pill to swallow when I muster up the courage to repeat it to myself. Those who know me well will tell you I’m a bit of a control freak, and even when it’s clear that I have lost the battle for control of any given situation, I still find it difficult to let go. I’m a worrier, but I’m learning and relearning that I can’t worry about the things that are out of my reach.

3. You are awesome!

And not everyone can handle that. You don’t need to exert any energy on convincing someone how wonderful you are. Just be you. Authentically and unapologetically, YOU. Over the past few weeks I’ve been dealing with the unraveling of a relationship that I’ve cherished for years and it’s arguably been one of the most trying and teaching experiences I’ve gone through in my almost 25 years on this earth, and it’s still a struggle. But, as a friend reminded me: “sometimes God puts certain people in our lives for a season, while others are around for a lifetime.” Now is the perfect time for me to be a little selfish and focus on my awesomeness.

I hope at least some of my words have resonated with you in some way. I would love to know: What things did you tell yourself this week? Feel free to comment below.

Just Do It

The year isn’t quite over but I can already sum up my experience: 2014 has been a year of transitions.

I’ve gone through several necessary – and scary – changes. I’ve stepped out of the money-saving comfort and camaraderie of roommates and shared space and into the eye-opening, budget-busting, living-on-my-own phase of life.

I’ve realized that I can’t depend on anyone other than myself to make shit happen and create the life I want. I’ve started my fight of mutinPlang the self-doubt that seems to find its way into almost every area of my life.

And, most importantly, I’ve started staring fear in the face and dealing with it, rather than cowering in a corner and letting it disable me.

Creating this blog was like pulling teeth. I mulled over it for a while, even sharing the idea with a few of my loved ones, but I couldn’t gather the gall I needed to just … DO IT.

Starting something new is easy to discuss but hard to get done. I’ve learned, forgotten and re-learned this truth over the past several months. If you’re Type A like me, you probably wholeheartedly believe you need to have some elaborate plan in place before you can take the first step on a new project. But that’s not always necessary – sometimes you just have to act.

Not everything has to be flawless the first time out; there’s always room for improvement. It’s your time and efforts on which you’re operating, so it’s fine to make it up and tweak it as you go.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself these days.

Welcome to Crissi Untangled. This is me just doing something.