Ten Reasons to Take the Natural Plunge

Me with braids on one side and spiraled twists on the other.

Lately, I’ve noticed more and more women are taking the plunge and going natural.  I have been natural for about 5 years now, but this is not my first trip down natural lane. 

In 2003 during my deployment to Iraq, I cut my long, relaxed hair off with a Leatherman Micra.  After six touch-up free months I got tired of trying to comb and detangle it in the in between state, so I did what most natural sisters call a BC or big chop.  There I was in the shower snip, snip, snipping.  I went in a mop head and emerged a sponge head.  I never felt more free and scared at the same time.  While I loved it, I feared what others would think about it.  With the encouragement of my battle buddies, who were also natural, I wore it proudly.  Besides, I didn’t have to worry too much about being cute in the desert.  Now coming back home was a different story.

When I came home I got a mixture of reactions:  some loved it, others hated it.  It got to a point where I began to question whether or not I had made the right decision in cutting it.  After about a year-and-a-half of being natural I gave into the pressure, the questions, and the plain ol’ ridicule and relaxed it.  Boy, did I regret it.  I regretted it so much that I had nightmares about it.  I missed my kinky texture and all the different things I could do with it: twist it, fro it, straighten it, bantu knot it, comb twist it, etc.  Relaxed hair looked nice, but it felt boring to me.  Sure, there were days that I was not pleased with the look of my natural hair (bad hair days), but I also had bad hair days with a relaxer. 

It wasn’t long (actually about six months) before I decided once again to go natural.  Only this time I grew it out gradually instead of doing the BC.  When I finally had cut off all the relaxed ends of my hair, there were still naysayers trying to discourage my decision.  Can you believe someone actually told me that I wouldn’t be able to get a husband with my hair natural unless I went to Africa?!  I mean really?  Is hair an issue that is too hard for God?  Obviously not, since I am married now in all my natural glory.  Now run and tell that! 

Although the transition was rough, it was definitely worth it.  I don’t miss a relaxer at all.  When I look in the mirror I see a beautiful woman with her own sense of style and uniqueness.  I wouldn’t go back to a relaxer if you paid me.  There’s just something about it unlike anything else.  So I’ve compiled a top ten list of reasons why anyone considering going natural should.  I’d say once you go nappy, you’ll always be happy.  All my naturalistas can let me know if I’m right or not or add your own reasons. 

This is me wearing two-strand twists for the first time. I was draped in a towel, trying to be cute in Iraq. Shout out to Jennifer Brown for twisting it for me.

This is me two years after transitioning to natural the second time around. Lovin' it!

 
10. More versatility.  You can do all sorts of things with natural hair such as various kinds of twists, braids, wearing an afro or a puff, bantu knots, blowing out, flat ironing, locing, and the lists goes on and on.
9.  It’s an accessory.  The additional bonus with natural hair’s versatility is that you can dress it up or down, depending on your mood for the day.  You can switch it like you switch a pair of earrings.
8.  It’s a confidence booster.  If you can get over the occasional stares from your haters (just between us, they are secretly admiring your hair when they do this), then you know that you are one confident diva who is not moved by the opinions of others.  How freeing is that?
7.  Easily lends itself to at-home styling.  I don’t know about you, but I was growing weary of the trips to the hair salon with the long wait and prices.  It’s comforting to know that I can achieve a killer cute style with the help of Youtube videos and some good products, with my own two hands (or with the hands of a loved one).  Shout out to my mother on this!
6.  It’s an icebreaker. You know how a man can just walk up to a random man and instantly begin a conversation about sports? Well, it’s not uncommon for a random person to just walk up to you and compliment your hair or to have a conversation about products and stylists.
5. Healthier, longer hair.  Being chemical free allows your hair the chance to grow, if properly cared for, of course.   
4. Shake and go.  Wash and wear.  If you’ve got a twa (teeny, weeny afro) you can walk out the door after washing with little maintenance.  With longer styles you can add a little moisture and tousle it with your hands in the morning to revive the style.  Saves a ton of time!
3. Freedom to scratch.  Nothing was more aggravating than having to pat my itchy scalp a week before a touch-up.  Hated it!  Now I can scratch whenever I get good and ready.
2.  No more chemical burns.  No longer do I have to worry about leaving the shop with scabs on my scalp from all that scratching I was doing.  Nuff said. 
 
And the number one reason to go natural is…
 
1.  Best. Sleep. Ever.  I don’t have to sleep cute anymore with my natural hair.  All I do is tie it up at night and sleep with reckless abandon.  I wake up in the morning with my hair still in tact.
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed this.  If anyone makes the decision to go natural from this post, welcome to the club!
 
I’m not judgin’.  I’m just sayin’.
 
Written by Briana Whitaker
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Moving on from Your Past

Asking if a person can move on from their past is like asking can a person get over an infection.  Why do I say this?  Because like an infection, past experiences can be overcome if dealt with or treated properly.  If left untreated or treated improperly though, it can linger and breed more problems for you in the long run.

Let’s look at the case of a bacterial infection.  When we are diagnosed with some type of infection, the doctor usually prescribes an antibiotic to rid our bodies of it.  With the prescription comes specific instructions such a,s take all of the medication even if you begin to feel better; take for a specific number of days and at specific times of the day; and take before or after meals.  These instructions must be followed for best results to occur.  What ‘s also important to note is that misuse of an antibiotic can develop a resistance, making it harder to treat future infections.

Okay, so how does this relate to a past that keeps haunting you or that people keep throwing in your face?  How you deal with your past is just as important as how you deal with an infection.  You can’t just ignore it as if it never happened or pretend that it is not affecting you when you know deep down that it really is.

Here are some things that may help to free you from the “dis-ease” of your past.

  • Get to the root of the problem.  Don’t just try to deal with the symptoms.  You need to know who and what from your past is the source of your present pain.  Identifying or diagnosing the problem is the first step to healing because then you can begin treatment.  Prayer is a really good tool for investigating these kinds of things.  If you ask, the Holy Spirit will reveal it to you. (John 14:26)
  • Learn to forgive.  If someone from your past is the source of your pain, treat it by giving it a good ol’ dose of forgiveness.  Not only does it set them free from the charge you are holding against them, but it sets you free as well.  Unforgiveness is bondage–not for the unforgiven, but for the unforgiver!  Again, there is help for those who feel that forgiveness is impossible based on the severity of the offense.  This may help–Jesus forgives any and all offenses, great, small, and in between–the ones committed by you and me. (Eph. 4:32)
  • Make peace with yourself.  Once you’ve released the offender(s) through forgiveness, now make peace with yourself.  Yeah, it happened, but do not allow yourself to wallow in the memories of it by meditating on it or talking about it.  This only leads to pity parties, and trust me no one wants to be invited to that gathering.  Do what the Word of God advises, be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2).  Let God’s Word change the way you think about the past.  No one said it better than Joseph after all he endured at the hands of his brothers, “You thought evil against me, but God meant it for good. (Gen. 50:20)  He has a way of making all things, not just some things, but all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28)
  • Fight to stay free.  When the urge to resent comes knocking on your door, especially when you are in the presence of the one you’ve forgiven, do all you can to maintain your new position.  Cast down every thought (you will have them) and every evil imagination (they will come) that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God, and lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)  Additionally, how you deal with your past is how you will deal with your future when it eventually becomes your past. 

Proper use of the steps shared above will help to make your past a thing of the past.  Applied daily and with fervency, this can heal a multitude of hurt and help prevent further injury.

I’m not judgin’. I’m just sayin’. 

Can anyone help extend my metaphor even further?  I welcome your input.

Written by Briana Whitaker

http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/antibiotics_qa.html

Be What You Desire

English: Look deeper in to your friends person...

Image via Wikipedia

While riding in my car recently, I heard a very interesting question posed on the radio.

“Are there any good men left?” the radio announcer asked, repeating a caller’s inquiry.  The broadcasters all commented that this is the age-old question that should have been answered years ago, but has found its way back into conversation.  Well, I’d hate to answer a question with a question, but I feel it is necessary.

To answer the caller’s question one must consider this one…Are you a good woman?

Now one might argue that we should be defining what “good” really is, but I beg to differ since that term can mean so many different things to different people.  Does good mean that he has a good job with good pay and benefits and doesn’t mind sharing it with you?  Does good mean he’s good-looking and has a wonderful personality to match?  Does good mean he holds religious convictions and actually follows them in his daily life?  Or does good mean a combination of them all?  It’s too subjective to say the least.  What’s important to me may not be important to millions of other women out there.  So to spend time discussing whether or not good men exist is a waste of time if you ask me.  It would be more objective and meaningful to take a self-reflective approach and apply your own definition of good to yourself.

Do I have a good job with good pay and benefits and don’t mind sharing?  Yes.  Am I good-looking with a wonderful personality to match?  Yes.  Do I hold religious convictions and actually follow them in my daily life?  Yes.  Am I a good woman? Absolutely!  To question whether or not there are any good men or women left in the world is to question your own goodness or worth.  I believe that you attract what you are, so do not be what you do not want.  Once I heard a woman say that before she lost 50 pounds she thought people stayed away from her because she was fat.  After she lost the weight a friend told her that when she was fat no one could stand her attitude.  The revelation is, it’s not your physical state that repels people in most cases, it’s what emanates from the inside and how you make people feel when they are around you.  Do you want a man who’s confident?  Then boost your own confidence.  Do you want a man who has goals and the tenacity to accomplish them?  Then be a go getter yourself.  Do you want a man who trusts you?  Then learn to trust others.  Do you want a man with high moral standards?  Then raise yours.

Before anyone thinks that I have discovered some hidden truth, let me say that the truth has already been written–the Word of God.  So let every word be established by two or three witnesses.  In Luke 6:37-38 it says “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye meet withal it shall be measured to you again.  That sounds to me like drawing what you are and receiving what you dish out.  My second witness comes from Proverbs 18:24 part a which says, “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly.”  That, again, sounds like being the type of person you want to attract.  In essence, to draw a good man be a good woman.  To attract a better man, be a better woman.

So my friends, remember that it’s easy to impose all these stipulations onto another person, but are you willing to be what you are desiring your mate to be?  If you are already the things you desire in your mate, then you just rest assured that not only is he coming your way, but he’ll be coming correct.  If you’re not quite in the state you desire yet, that’s okay too.  You have a wonderful opportunity called singleness to make the necessary adjustments.  With God, all things are possible!

I’m not judging.  I’m just sayin’.

Written by Briana Whitaker

Kardashian Kraziness

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

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On Christmas Eve I  spent a relaxing evening at home with my husband watching episode after episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”  I am not a fan of the infamous family, but I really wanted to find out what led to the demise of Kim and Kris’ marriage.   I found out about their split while standing in the checkout line of BI-LO one day, and the topic intrigued me.    Just a few weeks earlier I read about their lavish wedding in another magazine.  And now this?  Was it really a hoax?  What could have possibly happened to them?  Surely Kim is not in need of his money; him being new to the basketball league and her being on the cover of countless magazines.  Surely she is not desperate for a man; her having been on the arm of countless men.  As I sat through the marathon of shows, I was determined to find out the missing pieces.

The discovery didn’t take long.  On one episode the two argued about whether or not he would live with her and her sister’s boyfriend and child in New York or live in his hometown of Minnesota where he could focus on his career without distractions.  Quite naturally, after telling Kris that she didn’t mind living thousands of miles apart, she changed her mind.  Suddenly it seemed weird to her that a newly wed couple live in separate states.  Duh!  Any idiot could have told her that.  On another episode the topic of having children came up.  The very words “I’m thinking about getting off birth control because I want to have a baby,” made Kris’ eyes bug and his neck snap back in surprise as if the concept of reproducing was foreign to him.  Seriously, dude?  Did you not think this would come up, eventually?

I now knew the problem.  The quirky couple failed to do D on my WAIT ON GOD list–devote time to deep conversation; probably because they were too busy failing to do A on the list–abstaining from fleshly lusts.  Prime example of clouded judgment and shallow conversation.  All of these arguments (or heated debates) should have taken place BEFORE saying I do to avoid the international embarrassment (I almost forgot for a minute that they get paid for such tomfoolery).  I call this…Epic.Failure.

My husband joked with me saying, “When did we talk about these things…the first date?”  While it wasn’t exactly that soon into the relationship, it was definitely well before the wedding and well before the engagement.  We went in knowing where we’d live and if we were going to have children.  This pre-planning was part of our compatibility test.  A test that Kim and Kris obviously failed.  Well, hopefully the two have learned from their mistakes and won’t repeat them in the next series of relationships.  Maybe, just maybe, Kim will get a chance to read “Wait on God” before she thinks about spending billions on her next wedding.  I’m not judging.  I’m just sayin’.

By Briana Whitaker

Wait on God

whitakersIn April of 2011 at the age of 30, I married the man of my dreams.  After all the years of waiting and wishing, hoping and praying, God sent my prince.  And what’s ironic about our love story is that during all the years of waiting and wishing, hoping and praying, he (my husband) had been there all along.  I was just too blind to see it.  For years we had shared a church; we had heard the same sermons and shared the same beliefs, but we were totally oblivious to the possibility of being with each other.  All the time I wondered, where is my future husband and when will we meet?  Yeah, sure I dated “unsuccessfully” for quite some time, not even realizing the blessing that was right under my nose, or more appropriately, a few pews over, waiting to be revealed by God and acknowledged by me.

I was one who worried that God, with His sense of humor, would send me someone who I would least expect as my mate. “Please Lord, don’t let it be someone I’m not attracted to,” I would beg.  I wanted him to be good-looking, saved, and a member of my church–a BMW–Black Man Worshiping.  Well, I got all that and more in my husband, Russell.

What I’ve learned from my experience is that blindness is not just the inability to see, it’s the inability to see clearly and with sound judgment as one should.  Let me explain.  Sometimes when looking too hard for anything, one never sees it staring them right in the face–right where it should be or where it was left.  I recently misplaced my digital camera battery charger.  I searched and searched everywhere I thought it would be, but to no avail.  Finally, I decided to just buy another one to replace it since I would be needing my camera in the near future.  I quickly changed my mind though when I found out how much a replacement would cost.   Not wanting to spend the money myself, I asked my husband to buy it for me as a Christmas gift.  A few days before Christmas I decided to tidy up my room a bit.  I threw away junk mail and all sorts of other clutter invading my space.  After about an hour of this, I discovered my battery charger right where I had left it and where I had looked for it weeks before.  I couldn’t find it then because it was hidden by accumulating junk.  The same is true in the case of my husband.  Like the battery charger he was right before my eyes; right where God put Him; and where I believed he would be, but he was concealed by my superficial and unrealistic expectations.

The laundry list went on and on…he should be this complexion, have this job, make this amount of money, stand this tall, and be this age.  Not to forget he must be saved and share my same beliefs concerning spiritual matters.  Over the years, however, the former list began to dwindle and the latter became paramount.  It became more important to me that my husband possess certain spiritual qualities like patience, generosity, kindness, gentleness, faith, and love.  If he had all these things then quite naturally all the rest of the physical attributes would follow.  And they did.  While my husband doesn’t earn a six figure salary or drive a fancy car, he makes me very happy and we complement each other quite well both physically and spiritually.

So as the year 2012 heads our way, I want to challenge you to take a step of faith and wait for your mate.  Here are just a few things that I have learned along the way that may help you WAIT ON GOD.

  • W.  Wish others well.  You’ll find that celebrating another couple’s success and genuinely being concerned for their well being will actually do you some good.  Being jealous of other relationships only makes you bitter and unable to see the good that is already in your life.  I’ve learned that the good things I make happen for others, God will make happen for me.
  • A.  Abstain from fleshly lusts.  Although it is a challenge to remain sexually pure these days, it is for your benefit.  When fornication is introduced into your relationship it brings all sorts of unnecessary problems with it, and it clouds your judgment, keeping you from making godly decisions.  You will thank God you waited for your wedding night to experience the joys of intercourse, as He promises in His Word to bless those who keep Word.  I know we did.
  • I.  Involve a spiritual leader.  My pastor played a pivotal role in my relationship from the start.  As a matter of fact, he hooked us up.  Knowing that my pastor, the one I trust to guide me spiritually, approved of my dating choice gave me a peace of mind.  The added bonus was that he pastored Russell too, so his insight proved to be a valuable tool in deciding if we were right for each other.
  • T.  Trim your list.  Stick to what is most important, which is what is in the heart of the man, not what is in his wallet or what is on his back.  While money and attraction are important and have their place within a marriage, they should not be the ultimate deciding factor in choosing a mate.  Money alone will not make a man have integrity, but integrity can bring a fortune into his possession.
  • O.  Open your mind to the possibilities.  Had I remained rigid in my assessment of a good man for me, I would have missed out on my good thing.  My initial hangup with my husband was his age.  I said several times in the past that the 15 years between us was a deal breaker, but now it is a non-issue.  We get along great, as if we were the same age, and the years of experience have only made him a better, more patient man.  Just what I need.
  • N.  Never compromise.  Your values are valuable.  Stick with what you knew was right before you met the man you’re dating.  If church attendance, seed sowing, and abstinence were a priority before you met him, it should remain a priority after you’ve met him.  He needs to see your standards, so he can decide if they are worth meeting.  Lowering them now can lead to him not taking you or your “so called” standards seriously later in the relationship.
  • G.  Get and stay busy.  You should never put your life on hold while waiting on a mate.  The things that make you happy and fulfilled…do.  Your level of service in ministry…increase.  The busier you are about your father’s business, the less time you will have to think about how single you are.  Besides, there are people out there who need you and what you offer to the kingdom.  How selfish it is for us to deny them our gifts because we are so consumed with the desire to be married?
  • O.  Offer praise to God continually.  Thank Him for everything, including your current marital status.  God’s timing is perfect, and He makes no mistakes.  Your thankfulness now will prove you’re more devoted to the Blesser (God) and not the blessing of a mate.
  • D.  Devote time to deep conversation.  Once you’ve found someone who is worthy of time spent dating, ask questions–lots of them.  No question is a dumb one to ask, unless of course they do nothing to help you really get to know the person sitting across the table from you.  Find out what his likes and dislikes are, his goals and dreams, his spiritual convictions…and then pay close attention.  Time will tell if what he says lines up with what he does.  If they don’t then you can make a more informed decision about whether or not any more time needs to be invested in the relationship.

Written by Briana Whitaker