Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TRANSITION

Transition, both good and bad, is inevitable, an unavoidable part of our lives.  Oftentimes, one transition leads to a whole series of transitions, which can bring about a variety of emotions and thoughts, often shaping our lives, in one aspect or another. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of transition is “passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another; a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another”, or more simply put, “CHANGE.”

Having made a recent transition, relocating from one region of the country (Midwest) to another (South), I have found myself in a whirlwind of transitions (before, during, and after the move).  Unlike my transition to natural hair, the “during” part of this transition was the easiest…just pack up the moving truck and go!

On the contrary, as many of us naturalistas can attest, particularly those who are right in the midst of transitioning, the “during” phase of transitioning to natural hair is often accompanied by some hair drama…well…my transition was.

Transition, particularly voluntary transitions, can make us question ourselves.  But we must believe, that somehow, with God directing our steps, it’ll all work out for our good…and for the good of others whose lives we touch.

The transition of relocating from one state to another has brought about other transitions, adjustments/adaptations for me…a different climate, different environment/surroundings, different people, different demographics, different living conditions.  Not only was it a physical transition, but it was (and continues to be) a time of spiritual, social, emotional, financial, and professional transition for me…not to mention the impact on other people in my life, who have been directly affected by and/or have had to make adjustments, as a result of my transition.

Even though my hair is already natural, since relocating, I’m also experiencing a hair transition…from having a natural hair stylist and a colorist doing my hair on a regular basis to doing it all myself, in addition to my hair having to adjust to a more humid climate…shrinkage!  I'm a native Southerner, but when I left the South many years ago, shrinkage wasn't really an issue for me, because I was hooked on that "creamy crack" (relaxer) back then.

You may wonder what relocating from one state to another has to do with the natural hair journey.  Well, just as relocation involves transition (passage from one place to another; movement; change), bringing about big change in life, so does making the transition (evolution from one form, stage, or style to another) from chemically-processed hair to natural hair.

Although the “before” and “after” phases of my natural hair journey weren’t as difficult as the actual “in between”/transition period itself, they were, by no means, easy.  “Pre-transition”, there was a lot of “hemming” and “hawing” about whether and when to go natural.  There were a lot of questions in my mind…How long will it take to grow out my perm?  Will I have to get all my hair cut off?  What will my natural texture look like?  What will others think about it?  Will I be able to get another job with natural hair?  Will men find me attractive with natural hair?

Unfortunately, unless you do “The Big Chop” (B.C.), the transition from chemically-relaxed hair to natural hair can be a lonnnngggggggg and/or difficult process (unless you’re really creative...and patient), not just physically, but emotionally, socially, mentally, spiritually, and financially.  Even after the B.C., the transition from the “Teeny Weeny Afro” (TWA) to longer natural hair, can be quite the experience itself…well...mine was.

In hindsight, just doing the B.C. from the beginning (instead of putting it off and continuing to go through all the hair drama…partially relaxed, partially pressed, partially natural, all at the same time), woulda killed all that noise.  It would’ve been better for me to just “chop it off & roll wit’ it”!  But like other life transitions, sometimes, we need to go through the longer journey.  We may only see the outward transformation, or drama, but all the while, God is working out a plan, working out some things within us (and out of us)…something much deeper than just growing out of a perm or moving to another state.  In the end, we realize that the transition was necessary, to get us to the other side, to the next phase, to a victorious outcome!

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  Another version of the Bible says, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT)

We’re down here on Earth agonizing over our hair, relocating, jobs, relationships, the future, the past, etc., and God is up in Heaven probably saying, “Oh, my child, my child…if you only knew the things I have in store for you.  If you only knew the doors this transition will open up for you!  Be patient (steadfast, unmovable, consistent, constant)!”  In other words, “Stop trippin’!”  (I’m preachin’ to myself, if anybody, as I write this.)

Isaiah 40:28 says of God, “…There is no searching of His understanding.”  Other versions of the Bible state that “…No one can measure the depths of His understanding” (NLT) and “…He knows everything, inside and out” (MSG).  Wow!  What an awesome God!

Whether we’re making transitions with our hair, jobs, geographic locations, relationship/marital status, parenthood, finances, our spiritual lives, etc., we all go through transitions.  But it’s up to us to develop and maintain the right attitude about it and just trust God.  Our times are in God’s hands.  We must pray and allow God to guide us through the necessary steps to get “to the other side”.

When we do Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track” (MSG), we can avoid many of the obstacles and the DRAMA that often comes with transition.

Many of our transitional periods could be shorter and less painful, if we just TRUST HIM and BELIEVE!  Jesus said in Mark 9:23, “…all things are possible to him who believes” and in Mark 10:27, “…with God all things are possible.”

THE BOTTOM LINE:  as you make your transition to natural hair or to the next phase of your natural hair journey (or whatever transition you may be experiencing), BELIEVE for better results!  BELIEVE for a smooth transition!  BELIEVE for a great outcome!


(Contains excerpts from "TranZitions: Revelations on My Journey to Natural Hair and Freedom" by Yolanda T. Jones)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's Black History Month: Are We Celebrating Our Hair?

Black History Month is coming to a close in just a couple of days.  (By the way, why do we get the shortest month of the year…hmm?)  Anywho…I recently saw a local TV news feature on “The History of Black Women and Their Hair”, celebrating all of the different ways African-American women express themselves through their hair, whether it’s a press-n-curl, perm/relaxer, braids, locs, afros, weaves, wigs, etc.

I am definitely an advocate of variety.  I’m glad we have so many choices as to how we want to wear our hair.  But the question popped in my mind…how many of us, as African-Americans, truly love and celebrate OUR OWN hair…in its natural, God-given state or texture?

The news feature stated that the hair industry is a multi-billion dollar business and that human hair is the second largest import from India.  I’m not at all surprised.  A few years back, I personally spent several hundreds of dollars at Eastern Wig and other beauty supply stores in Detroit, just to have those beautiful braids and weaves.  And living in a predominately black city, it is VERY common to see other sistas wearing weaves, wigs, braids, ponytails, etc.

What happened to that “Black Pride” of the ‘70’s, when so many people donned those big afros (and the afro picks with the fist on the end) with pleasure?

One of the women interviewed in the news feature, who wears her hair in locs said that “being in America, the European standard is the standard of beauty.”  Of course, this is nothing new to us.  We’ve seen this in corporate america, in Hollywood, all around us, even within the African-American community.  Why are we criticized and/or not accepted for going along with what God gave us?

Two other women interviewed in that same news features said they like wearing weaves because it makes them fabulous, feel good, and look good.  I’m not gonna say much about their comments (to each her own), but we, as African-American women, can be and are just as fabulous, and can and do feel and look good wearing our own natural hair.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all knocking those who choose to wear weaves, wigs, etc.  I’ve been there.  We all are at different phases in our lives and we do what we feel we need to do at various stages in our lives.  Although I wear my hair natural now, it took several years for me take that “brave” step to come out from under the relaxed, pressed, braided, and weaved hair to reveal my God-given hair texture to the world, even though I had admired and contemplated wearing natural hair for years beforehand.

Many black women (myself included) grew up hiding or camouflaging and still do hide their natural hair texture (through relaxing, pressing, weaves, wigs, etc.).  Why?  I dare say, often because of embarrassment.  How many times have you heard a sista (or yourself) say, “Girl, my hair is so nappy!” 

All I knew, for most of my life, was getting my hair relaxed every six (or four or five) weeks, “sleeping pretty” to avoid messing up my hair, trying to avoid sweating, and hiding my “nappy roots”.  And even after I went natural, I still kept my hair hidden under bought hair.

It wasn’t until I took a leap of faith and did my second (or was it my third?) “Big Chop” (B.C.) and just put it out there, sporting a teeny-weeny afro (TWA), that I realized, “Hey!  Like it, love it, or hate it.  It is what it is!  This is who I am!”  And I decided to rock it!

I like what the ladies who commented on my last blog post said.  “…I didn't need a billion dollar industry to make me beautiful.”  Another young lady, who decided this month, Black History Month, to begin her transition to natural hair, commented, “…I was tired of the compliments I'd be getting on my sewn in hair because it wasn't my own... I'd question if I'd get as much "attention" without these long locks of someone else’s mane… I want to express the Genuine Beauty I was given.”  Kudos to you, my sister!  What a way to celebrate Black History Month!

I say this, mainly to natural “newbies” and to those in transition to natural hair...don’t ever let anybody tell you that you’re no longer attractive, because you “dare” to wear your hair in the texture that God, Himself, gave you!

Thankfully, we’re moving back into the direction of being “happy to be nappy”, unashamed of wearing what God gave us and into a day of greater acceptance of our God-given beauty.

I love hearing what you all have to say.  Let me hear from ya!

(Contains excerpts from "TranZitions: Revelations on My Journey to Natural Hair and Freedom" by Yolanda T. Jones)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Decision To Go Natural

My decision to go natural (wear my hair without chemical relaxers) was the result of a long and frustrating journey, or shall I say, struggle, with my hair. The first step in my natural journey began when I decided to get my hair braided in "zillions". Depending on your geographic location, how you refer to them may vary from zillions to tie-zillions to extensions to individual braids to micros, etc.

When I first had my hair braided, in 1999, I thought it was a brave, bold decision. Depending on where you are in life, it may be a big deal or it may just be the "hairstyle of the week" for you. Though it's not a big deal for me now, back then, it was a bold, but necessary step.

I had become a victim of what seemed to be a never-ending cycle of hair breakage, which occurred off and on, for five years. It seemed that the prime suspect was the perm/relaxer, or as some in the natural hair community deem it, "THE CREAMY CRACK".

By no means was getting those braids my one and only action that ushered me into the world of natural hair. It would be several years later before I actually went and stayed natural, but that one decision was the seed sown to change my life forever.

I'd like to hear from other naturalistas out there! Why did you decide to go natural? What were some of your experiences or influences in your decision to go natural? Or if you're not yet natural, but considering it, why are you considering going natural?

(Contains excerpts from "TranZitions: Revelations on My Journey to Natural Hair and Freedom" by Yolanda T. Jones)