52 Weeks of Gratitude

A whole year of intentional gratefulness. I am challenging myself to this. 

I have seen this kind of challenge in many forms. From a few days or a week, to the whole month of November, the Thanksgiving season always brings it out of people. Which is great because we should all take the time to reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives. Recently, I have decided I need to make this more of a habit. Sometimes, in life, it's harder to find things to be grateful for than others. Especially when things aren't going as planned or as we think they should. 

Currently, I am trying to learn how to "be content in whatsoever state I am" (Philippians 4:11) and that's definitely not the easiest thing to master. For me, at least. I know that being grateful is one of the best ways to achieve this. The thought of doing this challenge for a year makes me hopeful for change. I think that this intentional gratefulness has the power to completely change my perspective on life and that's what excites me about it. I found this quote and thought it just reinforced the idea behind why I want to do this challenge.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity... It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."  - Melody Beattie 
I love the concept of that quote and I really believe in it. 

This week, I reflected on how extremely grateful I am for my family. My parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts... all of them! I have a large family, which I recognize is a blessing in itself. But I don't just have a large family; I have one that is very close, sticks together and truly supports one another. In this day and age, that's rare. My family has changed a lot over the past few years - loss, sickness, relocations - so things definitely don't look like what they did before. Although that's hard, I'm still very thankful for the bonds we share. I recognize that many people don't have the loving support system that I do, which makes me more grateful for it.  

I realized in writing this that I've never shared a pic of my fam here before! This is a pic of me with my sisters and my parents. 

With Thanksgiving having come and gone, I thought this was the perfect time for me to start this challenge. So, every week from now until next Thanksgiving I will be sharing something for which I am grateful. I did actually find some prompts for this challenge, but I don't think I'm going to stick too closely to them. I will probably use them when I'm needing some inspiration. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with their loved ones! What were you grateful for this year? 

Wash Day | 21 Weeks Post

Day 9 Flexi-rod set
It's my second time stretching to almost 6 months post relaxer, both times being unintentional. When I'm doing long-term protective styles, I don't like to relax my hair in the midst because it's best to give your hair a break both before and after relaxer. I usually don't feel like breaking from styling, so I continue to stretch. At this point, I miss my hair! My new growth is serious and I've been itching to play with some of my new rollers. I already picked up my relaxer kit :) 

After I took my faux locs and box braids down, my hair was definitely in need of some pampering. I knew that my next wash day was going to be relaxer day so I wanted to do some protein treating as well. Here's how my wash day went down:

{1} Divided my hair into 4 sections and saturated it with oil. Covered with a plastic cap and scarf until the next morning. 

{2} Divided each section in half then began detangling: 1st with my fingers with a wide tooth comb. applied PM Tea Tree Moisturizing conditioner and braided each section. Put Aubrey Organics GPB on ends (protein layering). 

{3} Shampooed with a mix of ORS Creamy Aloe and CON Moisturizing Argan Oil

{4} Towel wrapped to soak up excess water.

{5} Deep conditioned with Umberto Beverly Hills Repair Treatment Masque and TRESemme naturals with a plastic cap for about an hour. 

{6} Apple cider vinegar and aloe vera juice rinse. I did not rinse this out.

{7} Towel wrapped to soak up excess water.

{8} I let my hair air dry a little then I applied my leave-ins (Elasta QP H2 and Organix Coconut Milk Serum) section by section to get ready to flexi-rod set my hair.

{9} I applied Shea Moisture Frizz-Free Curl Mousse (Coconut & Hibiscus line) to each piece of my hair before rolling it on the flex-rod. 

{10} Sat under my bonnet dryer for about an hour. Let it air dry the rest.

My roots were puffier that what I would have liked, but the curls were great. I wasn't too surprised because I'm def not the best at wrestling my new growth taut with flexi-rods. That automatically equals an updo for me (pictured below). So I pinned it up and to one side. These curls were so soft and lasted for so long! About 10 days to be exact. I give all the credit to the awesome Shea Moisture mousse. By the end, I was just wearing it big, fluffy with allll the frizz and loving it. I've become a sucker for big hair. 

Turning My Box Braids into Faux Locs

Faux locs or loc extensions seem have become quite popular recently. So, of course, I have been wanting to try this style. (If you follow me on Instagram you saw these when I first did them a couple weeks ago) Especially since I've been on my long-term protective styling challenge. However, every single video I watched talked about how ridiculously long it takes to put them in. This style is basically two styles in one and that's why the installation can be so long. Because of that, I knew there was no way I was just going to up and do this style one day. But as my box braids grew out, I thought this might be the perfect opportunity for me to try the faux locs. I figured with about 4-5 weeks of new growth, my roots would blend perfectly with the locs. And turning my old style into a new one would hopefully help me hold onto it a couple extra weeks.

Another reason I decided to try faux locs this way is because I had a few concerns about them. A lot of ladies say they can be really heavy, which makes perfect sense since you are adding more hair to your head full of braids or twists. I've had a bad experience with too much hair on my head before... definitely don't want to repeat that. I also was concerned that this style might be "too protective", as in all the extra hair might make it hard to moisturize my own hair or even dry it out. 

So, in putting these over my old box braids I wasn't going to be too invested in them, no matter the time comittment. I knew if I felt something was off about them or anything, I wouldn't hestitate or feel bad about taking them out. My hair had been put away from a month or so already. 

There's two ways you can go about loc extensions: yarn or marley hair. I chose marley hair because I think it looks more natural and the thought of yarn wrapped around my hair just didn't sit right with me. This whole process is not difficult at all, just time consuming. I do not understand how anyone has the patience to install these from scratch all at once. I will never do that ya'll! Lol! I pretty much did it all in one day and my arms were so tired. I cannot imagine installing box braids or marley twists and then wrapping more hair around them straightaway to install the locs. Nope. My arms would just fall off I'm sure.

It might go without saying, but I do not like too much hair on my head ya'll. I always try to use the most minimal amount I can when doing these protective styles. With my box braids, I used about 2.5 packs of hair and I pretty much added the same amount of marley hair to complete the faux locs. As I watched videos of people completing this style, they were talking about using 7-8 packs of hair, which is just way too much for me. Wouldn't you just feel like your neck was going to snap from all that weight up there?! I can't.

One thing I did to prevent having to use so much hair is cut my box braids. I knew that one reason ladies have to use as much hair as they do is to get long lengths. So, first I cut the braids to about mid-back length. Then I unbraided each one until I found my hair so I could be mindful of around where I needed to stop cutting. I was always pleasantly surprised at how quickly I found my hair, too, not having to unbraid very much. I left the back at the longer length and layered the top of my hair with shorter lengths. I wanted it to look natural, but have a style to it as far as its length. I knew since I was cutting it, I wasn't going to be able to do a lot of the updo type styles, I've seen done with faux locs so I wanted it to look nice just being worn down.

People typically finish their locks by burning them to secure the ends, but I was kind of uncomfortable with that since the ends aren't too much longer than my real hair. So, initially, I did the typical wrap back up method, but just palm rolled the hair to get it to stay. The majority of my locs stayed perfectly with this method. There were, however, a few that just continued to unravel so I had to burn those.

Overall, I was really happy with the way this style turned out! It had to grow on me at first, I wasn't really sure how I felt about it. Probably because it's a very different look for me. But I ended up loving it. 

Has anyone else tried faux locs before? Let me know about your experience!

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