Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Soul Survivor - New Year Check-In

I'm not one for making New Year's Resolutions. They give me pause when I realize that I'm inevitably going to fall off the wagon. But I do like to check in and see how my life has been affected over the course of the year - what's changed, what hasn't, what needs to. Its kind of like dieting (which I am also NOT a fan of) - I'm better off making small dietary changes in choices that eventually will feel normal to me. I think life can benefit from the same practices. So I'm gonna check in and assess:

This time last year, I was not yet 30. I still had that slight sense of immortality you have when you're still in your twenties - that feeling where you feel like no matter what you're doing, you still have time to correct/eradicate/change the behavioral thought pattern behind it. Because you're still in your twenties....you can deal with it when you turn 30. Hmph.

Last year, my worst fear was not being able to graduate from Normal Life 101 after life dealt me a heaping serving of POO. This year the same catalyst of events have continued to change this thought process dramatically. Now, I almost feel too mortal - there is a heightened sense of anxiety I never thought I'd be a victim of. Before I reach 31, I will work on this. No one should have to live in fear.

This July, I will have been a resident of New York for 9 years. That makes 9 years out of college, so actually, 9 years as a resident of The Adult World. My social practices have changed immensely, although last year I rang in the New Year almost exactly the same way I did this year. Close to home, with lots of drinks. I'm not done going out and having fun, but even though its hard to meet someone new at the Home Bar & Lounge, the couch is comfy and the drinks are cheap. *shrugs*

My friendships/relationships have taken a few turns, both for better or worse. This past year I was forced to evaluate the term "best friend." The people in my life I call friend all are different things to me, and serve their purpose in my life in different ways. To refer to one of them as "best" is strange to me - it seems like "best" is normally code for "most loyal" or "been my friend the longest" or "person I hang out with most." That being said, some of my oldest friends (old as in length of time, not age) are no longer in my life as of last year. And some of my newer friends are closer to me. You roll with like-minded people, and minded-ness has evolved. Especially over the past year. I'm rolling with it. A reason, season or lifetime? I'll enjoy them all. And dismiss accordingly.

As for dating...the jury is still out. I'm a creature of habit and vacate regularly to The Comfort Zone Resort. Dating is scary. Starting over is scary. This time last year, I was NOT ready to move forward. This year...I'm a little more ready. And that's enough for me right now. Time to redirect my focus...or at least attempt to. No Dating Diets, just no sudden moves.

Finally, I'm trying to be more positive this year. Positive thoughts are all the rage on Facebook and Twitter, so I'll give it a shot. I hope this year brings for all of you everything you wished for and more, and that whatever check-in you engage in, be it resolutions or just new thoughts, you are able to assess your life and make it work for you. You survived a whole 'nother year - if for nothing else, pat yourself on the back for that!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tales of a Foodie - Most Requested Recipes, Vol. 1

Whenever I have a gathering to go to and want to bring something, but don't have a lot of time to bake, I make my famous Spinach Dip. Everyone loves it, and think its a lot fancier than it actually is. The recipe is SUPER easy, and folks will think you slaved in the kitchen for hours!

Slammin' Spinach Dip

1 box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 8 oz. package of shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup of mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese around the edges slightly brown. Serve immediately with tortilla or pita chips.

This recipe doubles easily if you're serving a larger crowd. Enjoy! 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Naps, Mishaps and Product Caps - The Mentals and Physicals of being a Naturalista

Ok, so my intention was to write all of my natural hair goals for 2011. But I have decided to switch gears - in honor of "Natural Hair Day", I'm gonna post 11 simple do's and don'ts for true natural divas.  I've got seven years in the natural hair game, and I have seen it ebb and flow through things both positive and negative. So here goes:

1. DO be honest about your inspiration. I didn't decide to transition because I wanted to liberate myself from the evil clutches of chemicals. I transitioned because I was a starving actress who could not afford touch-ups at NY's high-priced salons. Whether my curl pattern was wavy or zig-zaggy, I was going for it. *shrugs* If you want to transition because its trendy now, go for it. Its your hair, not your religion.

2. DON'T look down on sistas who have relaxers. Just because someone has a perm does not mean they hate themselves! When I had a relaxer, I loved my hair. Now that my hair is all-natural...I love my hair. I always say, good hair is hair that is well groomed and well taken care of. There is room in that category for all of us!

3. DON'T think that because you're natural that you can put anything "natural" on your hair! I'll say this again - I am not putting monkey sweat, raw ostrich eggs, sulfured molasses, or anything else ridiculous in my hair just because it's "all-natural". It's ok to peruse the kitchen for some natural hair essentials, but please understand and know your hair. There are products out there that are designed to make your process easier - take advantage of them!

4. DO understand that everyones hair is different. So your girlfriend gives a product a raving review, but on your head, it ends in a sticky mess. Your hair is unique to you - and I mean more than just a curl type label. All 4a's and  3c's aren't curled alike. 

5. DO have patience and be willing to experiment. You can't find out everything there is to know about your hair from blogs and YouTube tutorials. At some point, you're going to have to just try some stuff out and learn your hair. Products don't change just because you finally found a review where it worked for someone. If it didn't work the first time you tried it, it still won't. And remember, it takes your hair at least two weeks to get accustomed to a new regimen. So don't get discouraged if you don't see results right away.

6. DON'T let society and the media tell you what your hair should look like! Ladies, at the peaks of our natural hair journeys, we will not all look like Alicia Keys and Mel B. Invest in what style will look good on you, and don't stop searching until you find something you love with your hair.

7. DON'T let people discourage you from transitioning! The truth is, people are afraid of what they don't understand. Why on earth would someone want to NOT comb their hair everyday? Why wouldn't you want sleek, straight hair that you can swing? Isn't that what every lady wants? Not anymore. And please try and refrain from getting wrapped up in Jigaboo/Wannabe fights. We're so past that - don't let a relaxed chick intimidate you. If you're feeling the pressure, just wait until you're ready. We'll be here for you when you are. ;-)

8. DON'T buy into the notion that natural hair is a "movement". Choosing to go natural is just that - a choice. Women have had the option of wearing their hair in natural styles since the beginning of time. The fact that it is trendy now doesn't make it a movement. Just makes folks more aware. Kind of like how Oprah's Book Club had to remind some folks that black women do read. Making it a movement means that it will eventually be done, having made its mark on history. I want my children and grandchildren to always have the option of wearing their hair how they want without feeling alienated by society.

9. DO understand styling your hair isn't just about the products - it's also about the process. I have learned that not taking care in the process of caring for your natural hair can be detrimental, no matter how good the product is. Take the time to take the necessary steps - let the conditioner saturate the hair shaft. Comb through in sections. Don't dry with a towel. Don't cut corners in your process and then blame the product.  My entire hair regimen at the moment cost me all of $25 and I'm super happy with the results now that I know exactly how to use them. 

10. DO understand that as a true natural diva, you can make your own rules. Wanna color your natural hair? Do it. Who cares if some people consider hair dye a chemical? Wanna straighten your natural hair every week? Do it. I didn't sign on to be a natural hair ambassador - I did it cuz it works for ME. Some naturalistas love concocting and mixing their own hair products right from their kitchen, while others spend hundreds of dollars on products that are just right for their hair. Neither is wrong. I'm not natural, my hair is. So don't give me the side-eye when you see me eating McDonald's instead of organic hemp seed tofu sandwiches. My hair does not, will not, and hasn't ever defined me. 

11. DO surround yourself with a support system if you need it. I went at my transition journey pretty much alone - just me and my hairdresser. But it wasn't that bad. I've never been one to follow the crowd, but unfortunately, in the short years that I have had natural hair, times have changed. Take advantage of whatever you need that's out there - natural hair forums, blogs, YouTube videos, transition buddies, hair mentors, whatever. We live in a world where your hair may not seem like a big deal...until you get passed over for a job because of it, or something equally as disrespectful. Be supportive and you'll get it back. That's something that works whether it's about your hair or not, ladies.

That's all I got. Here's to new styles, new mind sets, and a new attitude for you and your hair!