Thursday, September 27, 2018

Hiding Behind My Hair

Have you seen the new Netflix movie, Nappily Ever After? Upon the recommendation of my daughter, Tyler, I watched it and it got me thinking.

Not to give away any spoilers, but the main character, Violet, represents so many women; obsessing our whole lives over what our hair says about us. From relaxers to naturals, from weaves to wigs, the  volatile love-hate relationship between us and our tresses rages on.

I can relate.

Sometimes my hair trials are flat-out funny. But then there are times I find myself angry when my hair won't cooperate. It seems like the mass on top of my head has become personified as a mortal enemy, threatening to expose my most intimate flaws to the public.

And don't you laugh if I sound extra! You know it's true.

A couple of days before I watched Nappily Ever After I had a much-needed wake-up call about me and my personal hair drama.

A dear friend had invited me to attend a Women's Day celebration at her church. I had already committed to go with her just weeks prior. I knew how much it would mean to her for me to be there in support. Then the night before, I found myself coming up with all kinds of excuses to my husband about why I should back out of going. But do you want to know my primary excuse? My freakin' hair!

There I was, standing before a mirror detesting the burgeoning new growth sprouting out from beneath my natural locs. My stress was skyrocketing just thinking about the task of trying to tame my hair well enough for it not to attract any negative attention. I had chosen a nice outfit, cute shoes, and a lovely handbag. My hair was the only member of the ensemble that wouldn't cooperate and it was completely overshadowing everything else. How silly is that?

Thank God for the encouragement of my husband, B. J. He reminded me of why I agreed to go to the event in the first place - TO SUPPORT MY FRIEND. He also reminded me that I possessed enough creativity to come up with a decent hairstyle and urged me not to let something as trivial as a hairdo blind me to what matters most.

That was the kick in the tail I needed to get things into perspective.

I gave my new growth a quick, fresh re-twist, moisturized my locs, and attended that event with my friend without giving another thought to what my hair looked like. Once my hair was out of the way, I could freely enjoy the program, be present in the moment when my friend sang her song, and fully celebrate every woman in the room. It was glorious!

And to think that all of that would have been missed if I had continued to be fixated on this false standard of beauty or acceptability predicated by the condition of my hair.

Why does hair have to be such a struggle in the first place? Is it because we as women are socially conditioned to base far too much value on our physical appearance? Probably. Think about it. How do you define the proverbial "good hair day"? Quite likely as a day in which not only you, but other people whose opinions you value think your hair looks exceptional. I swear it can feel like being an unwitting contestant in a perpetual beauty contest; objectified on demand.

It makes me wonder how many times has my hair been allowed to dictate my worth, my value, even my mood? How many times have I assumed that others are just as obsessed with my hair as I am?
How many opportunities have I allowed my hair to rob me of? How many meaningful moments in my life have been sacrificed because of my hair?

Well I can tell you for certain, NO MORE!

I choose to accept my curly, coiled, 4C hair and all of its unruly wonder. I have made a conscience effort to remove the undue significance I've erroneously given to my hair (and all my other physical features) and get back to the true foundation of my identity: my character and my boundless spirit.
And as I practice embracing and appreciating these features as premiums, I find myself stepping out of the shadows of superficiality and it is making all the difference in the world!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Eyes Up Here


Like millions of other Americans, I watched President Barak Obama's farewell speech last night. It stirred me in many ways. 

I reflected on the memories of that EPIC January day in 2008 when I proudly witnessed our first African-American president take the Oath of Office. Then again, when he swept the 2012 elections and earned a second term. 

I recalled the times I questioned his methods when it came to something new, like the legalization of gay marriage and the mandatory participation in Obamacare. (By the way, I'm so grateful for Obamacare. It has turned out to be a total blessing to me and my family!)

The numerous times I saw President Obama with his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, and for the first time, it didn't seem like some perfectly manufactured image of a public figure and his family.

But overall, one singular theme struck a chord with me throughout President Obama's speech.

Keep your standards and your expectations high.

Yes, this is true as it pertains to our social and political climate, but it begins in a personal place. Having a mindset that simply refuses to sink to a certain level. Not getting wrapped up in petty, arbitrary, pointless battles about things that have no long-term value or positive impact.

In his speech last night, President Obama referred to connecting with something greater than yourself and not allowing fear or apathy to discourage you from getting in the fight.

That's where I am today and going forward.

I'm going to keep my eyes looking first to my God, without whom I can do nothing. Then to my future, which is bold and bright and full of potential and possibilities just waiting to unfold.

So join me, won't you? 

I know there's a lot going on right now, and it can be very tempting to get caught up in complaining and worrying. But I urge you to take a moment to reset your focus. 

Stop talking so much about what's going wrong. Look for what's going right and be thankful for it. Don't worry about what you don't know or what you don't have. Look at what you do know and what you do have already and know that when God breathes on your little, it is destined to become much!

Thanks, Barak and Michelle, for your service, your example, and most of all, for reminding us that we are MORE than what we have become.