Ethnic Hair Conditioning 101

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I remember when Desta was a year old, I was convinced she’d never have hair!It was so short, balding in spots and super dry.   We moved to Florida and the humidity was the hair friend!

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Since coming back to Colorado Springs, I’ve been on an eternal quest to help Desta’s hair keep growing and stay hydrated.  That is not an easy feat in this super dry climate!

I have watched videos, purchased hundreds of dollars of hair products, done braids, corn rows, turbans, you name it!  Finally, three months ago I was so frustrated with the price of hair product and how her hair seemed to have stopped growing.  I was online and found a recipe for hair treatment.  I figured, why not!  It was the best gamble I took so far in the hair department.

Now that we’ve been doing it three months and I KNOW it works, I thought I’d share it with you all!

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Each week, usually a Saturday or Sunday morning, I make a paste and slather it on her hair.  Actually, it’s a bit more of a science than that.  I section her hair, starting at the ends of her hair and then moving down to her scalp, I apply about a quarter size portion of the conditioning treatment.

The paste is comprised of avocado oil, olive oil, rosemary oil and Carol’s Daughter conditioner.  I usually do 1/4 cup of each oil, 1/2 cup of the conditioner and about 6 drops of the rosemary.  I ran out of my Young Living oil but that is my preference for adding to her hair solution.

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After all the sections are covered in the hair product, I twist out the hair.  Final step before Saran wrap is applying all extra hair product to the ends of the hair.

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We wind saran wrap around Desta’s head – about four large sheets – and she goes about her business for about 2 hours.  (All recipes have said use moist heat or warm towels. Have you tried to keep a warm towel on an active 7 year old’s head?  Also, all the moist heat options come with a $60+ price tag.  I wasn’t ready to commit to that until I KNEW this would work.)

We rinse and then I make a small cup of apple cider vinegar (about 1/2 cup) with water (around 1/2 cup).  After her conditioning treatment is rinsed out, I pout the vinegar solution on her head, rubbing her scalp. This helps remove the layer of build up on her scalp that makes her itch non stop.

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Once it’s all rinsed out, style as normal.

img_5383Desta’s hair is super soft since we’ve started doing this.  She rarely complains about her head itching.  Also, it’s become a fun tradition most weeks – one where I can pamper her and we get a lot of hand to hair touch – an important part of building those connecting neurotransmitters.

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Revolved Half Moon Epiphany

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The weatherman has been wrong, multiple times in the past few days.  I’m trying hard to not be angry when I see 50 degrees for a week in the forecast only to wake up to snow and teen temperatures.  How much school do tv weather people attend to predict the temps for us common people?

The weather really influences my attitude.  Does that happen to you?  I wake up to dark cold skies, head to the gym and resolve during yoga to be calm.  Only thing is, when I leave the gym I’m surrounded by incompetent drivers.  Again, who teaches kids to drive these days?  Maybe it’s just me but when I drive on Powers, I’m surrounded by drivers who believe a RED light means GO.

So I start to spiral down the negativity ladder.  Nothing quite seems to work out how I planned it to. My clean neat plans are constantly torn up and shot to hell.  I drive MILES each day, working hard to remember the snacks, the homework, the soccer bags, water bottles and please, can you just keep the car clean for one day?  Please?

By the time I get home, I often find myself in a full on mood meltdown.  I want to reach for chocolate and wine but those two items can no longer be found in our home thanks to a new year’s resolution for clean eating.  I attempt to find comfort in tv but there is honestly nothing really worth to watch.  I head to my phone, finger flicking through screens of Facebook which just angers me as I read post after post about this crazy world we are living in now.  And I take it out on my kids, on my family, on my dog.  I’m short-tempered, short fused and frustrated.

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At my 3:15 pm Sunday yoga class this past week, I had an epiphany.  I was attempting a revolved half moon posture – not well mind you.  My balance was ALL OFF and I was getting so frustrated with myself.  In that minute, I simple stopped trying. I just focused my eyes on one spot of the wood floor and breathed.  The pose happened because I wasn’t trying any more.  I let go of all the expectations of how I looked, instead I just breathed.

My epiphany? I need to let go of all the expectations and thoughts of what I SHOULD be doing.  I have to simply live in the moment and thought, working hard to face and do the thing that is right before me.  No longer can I keep living in this world of shoulds and have to’s and expectation and noise.

Instead of letting all the busy around me distract me, I have been working on living the moment at hand.  It’s a whole heck of a lot of hard work.  It’s much easier to pull up the phone, scroll through other people’s lives and let bad drivers make you go nutso.

Practically what does this look like for me?

It’s choosing to celebrate a child’s hard work by buying a $4 gluten-free cupcake from his favorite bakery.  It’s putting away my 7-year-old’s laundry EVERY SINGLE DAY because that’s a task she is not able to do right now.  There are more important tasks we are working on right now.

It’s calling up my 15-year-old and offering to drive her to Young Life’s grilled cheese Thursdays AS well as bringing her the soccer bag she forgot.  It’s intentionally sitting down and sending my husband, whose love language is WORDS of AFFIRMATION, a long email about the things I’ve noticed about him.  It’s making fish tacos when I just want to serve popcorn.  It’s buying a few special “just because gifts” for a little 7 year old whose love language is GIFT GIVING.

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I’ve been reading more, journalling more, meditating more, allowing thoughts to sit and swirl in my mind.  I believe we are not to live distracted lives.  Blocking out noise can be done by simple releasing it and living in the moment.

 

Disguised in plain sight

I had an interesting experience this morning.  I walked into the dry cleaners around 7 in my usual morning uniform — Buff on head, no make up, work out clothes and my big puffy winter coat.  Caroline had a dress issue and I needed to get it resolved before her dance on Saturday.

For the next 20 minutes I had a great conversation with all the dry cleaners.  They worked hard to help me and at the end of the day, didn’t charge me a cent (Go Summit Cleaners!) It was taking longer than they thought so I left the store, headed to the gym and worked out.  I took a shower and dressed and went back to Summit to get the dress.

I walked in and was welcomed with a “Hi, how can I help you?”  I though it was strange as I’d been there just 2 hours before.  I gave the kind man my slip and he looked down at my name, up at my face and back down at my name.

Then with WIDE eyes, he exclaimed, “Oh, you were the one with the dress.”

I know I don’t look like a super model (ever) but I thought I looked rather cute in my workout no make up attire.  Perhaps my assumption was a bit off base because this poor guy didn’t even recognize me.  Good to know I can disguise myself with a simple hair drying and make up application.  Go me!

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Melody Headed TO the gym

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Melody AFTER the gym

Lion – An adoptive mom’s perspective

I first heard about the movie, LION, while watching the Golden Globes a few weeks ago.  I was instantly hooked when I saw the movie trailer – a young Indian boy, through a course of very unfortunate incidents, ends up adopted by an Australian couple living in Tasmania. The movie is Saroo’s quest to find his mother and family again – something he does after a 25+year search using Google Earth.

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That summary sounds so neat and tidy right?  It all works out in the end.  However, watching this movie through my eyes as an adoptive mom, I could not contain my deep tears and heart wrenching emotion.

My oldest child sat next to me, crying alongside me.  It’s a hard story to watch.  It has a happy ending but the weight of this young boy’s life and how one simple decision resulted in years of searching – that’s what broke my heart.

Saroo’s story is unfortunately the reality for millions of children.  Circumstances lead to a fracture in their family.  Some get lost like Saroo, some are sold, some run away and some are simply abandoned.  Each story, each child, carries with them a life long scar that holds a chant – “I need to go home but I’m lost.”

Sunny Pawar stars in LIONPhoto: Mark Rogers
Sunny Pawar stars in LION Photo: Mark Rogers

There was a scene in the movie between Nicole Kidman and Saroo in which he says to her, “Don’t you wish you could have had your own kids?  You’re not just adopting us but our pasts as well. ”

What unfolds next is a beautiful moment as Saroo’s adoptive mother shares her journey to adoption.  Her story is filled with pain and angst, but carries with it hope and assurance that she was supposed to have these boys, Saroo and his brother, in her life.

That scene continues to come back to me as I think of my journey as a mother.  We all bring our pasts with us, whether we adopt our children or give birth to them.  Until that child is placed in your arms, you do not know the depth of the wounds the past has dealt you and what their impact will be on your children.

Throughout the movie, there is a beautiful unfolding of Saroo’s deep desire to be found, to no longer be lost.  Perhaps this theme struck such a resounding cord with me is that I also have felt that deep thread of figuring out what is home.  As a child and young adult, I had my feet between two worlds – Africa and America.  Neither were fully home and there was a sense of wandering, “Where is home?”

As I live in this new decade of life called my 40’s, I finally understand that home is an emotional place of belonging not a physical place.  This movie, Lion, has so many rich and wondrous themes woven throughout it.

Themes and questions such as –  What is family?  Is adoption a good thing?  Do we really understand how our pasts determine so much of our decision-making?  What is the importance of searching for answers?  We all live in a broken world filled with pain. How are we willing to allow that pain to bring healing?  The depth and breadth of a mother’s love is the heartbeat of each of us.  Are we willing to relentlessly  pursue healing for those we love?  Can love overcome trauma?

These questions and thoughts continue to swirl in my mind as I reflect on this movie. In the movie there are references to child abuse and exploitation.  Those scenes are difficult to watch.  There is a beautiful portrayal of the deep love between Saroo and his biological brother – such love and care that you as the viewer experience great sadness when they are separated.

But at the end of the movie, as we watched the photographs and video of the real Saroo taking his adoptive mother to meet his biological mother, there is sense of contentment and hope.  This is not most adoptive children’s stories.  However, I believe that healing can happen in many ways.

Watch this movie please.  It is a very honest and raw portrayal of the plight of millions of children in this world.  It is a very honest and vulnerable depiction of the struggle some children face as they deal with their story.  I think each person who sees this movie can relate to something of Saroo’s story – as we are all born into a broken world.

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Do you feel forgotten?

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We’ve had incredibly strong winds in Colorado Springs over the past few days.  I mean, blow over semis on the interstate type wind.  It’s been relentless and formidable. Honestly I haven’t wanted to venture out too much as it just keeps coming.  Things have calmed down this afternoon and the sun is out.  It’s calm relative to what we’ve just been through.

The wind got me thinking of various times in my life where I felt like things would never stop.  When I was pregnant with Caroline, calamities kept coming.  First was bleeding and miscarriage scare. Then the ceiling in our second floor collapsed (flood).  While Matt was at his friend’s wedding in Florida, I severely cut my foot on garden metal sheeting. The final straw – 9/11.

Fast forward to later years…I remember feeling completely assaulted by trouble as we wrestled with money, or the lack thereof.  I felt overwhelmed with how decisions we had made were now negatively affecting us.  That lasted for almost 4 years.  It seemed relentless and unforgiving.

Parenthood often feels like a big windstorm.  We work so hard to do the right thing, be the right parent, teach the right stuff.  Instead of a calm and peaceful household, we instead have added conflict, frustration and anger at times.

A group of ladies and I are starting to read through Genesis and Matthew. No help aids, no study books, no videos to watch – just simply reading and discussing.

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I’ve been knee deep in Noah’s world the past few days.  Funny how you can read a story over and over and still find something new.  For me, it was Genesis 8:1

“But God remembered Noah….”

Poor guy – 600 years old and in a boat with his kids and several hundred animals for a YEAR!  Yep, 365 days of relentless wind, assaulting rain, gray skies and no ability to run on dry ground.  I certainly hope yoga was practiced back then because Noah boy needed some zen in his life!

I can only surmise how he must have felt around day 350.  I’m sure he was SO OVER IT and wondering when everything would grow calm.  I’m pretty sure he had a few choice words for his people and his God.

I also am pretty darn sure he felt abandoned in the midst of the storm.  Did he do the right thing? Would God come through? What the heck was he going to do with all those freakin animals?  The food had gotten really monotonous and the company was getting old.

BUT GOD REMEMBERED HIM! And God remembers me. He remembers you.  We are not forgotten in the midst of the hard times,  in the center of howling wind and black despair.  He might take some time to show his presence but he’s been there and will be there.

 

 

2017 Resolutions

I went to the gym as usual on January 2. Same time, same plan.  Only I was greeted with an extra 100 or so people working out alongside me.  Every single machine was taken, the classes were packed and frankly, it was an awful experience.  People walking around with their ear buds in, oblivious to where they were going and who they were bumping into.

New Year’s Resolutions.  We all make them.  I’m always thankful for February when the gym goes back to normal.  While that’s not the best thing to wish on people – that they will forsake their resolution for health, I do think that often times we bite off waaay more than we can chew around December 31.  We make outrageous plans for our next year, only to find ourselves around mid February (or January 5) already disappointing ourselves.

For the past few years, I’ve chosen a word for the year.  Last year it was “breathe.”  I started back with yoga and worked my hardest to sit in the moment.  There were some successful moments but frankly, I need to take this word into 2017.

On January 1, I was cleaning the kitchen – went to put the garbage in the bag and this happened.  Yep, veggie peels all over the kitchen.  It was a mess and Matt was there to document it all.  Awesome.

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I post this picture to remind myself that while I have resolutions for 2017 – a few this year, I also need to keep perspective. Adding too many “to do’s” to the list only causes a mess. It’s so easy to want to start again, to “do over” and do well.  However, there is something for carrying on.  One foot in front of the other, one breath at a time.

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On December 31, we as a family of five sat down and crafted for a bit.  We also worked on plates  that represented our past year. While I’m most certainly NOT an artist, I do love the tangible reminder of what last year taught me.

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The Spirit of God has made me and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4

This year I’m adding Isaiah 49:16, 23 to Job.  “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands….Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”

Breathe each moment.  Rest in each second.  Know that my worth is not in what I do but in who I belong to.

The “Do Over”

Do you wish that you could do over something?  Wipe it clean.  You know, pick the right words, the appropriate actions and perhaps have a more kind or gentle spirit?

At our home, we’ve been practicing the “do over” often.  For children from hard places (a term Karyn Purvis uses often in her books), do overs are essential for retraining the brain. You simply walk through the same action or actions again, this time doing them in the right and appropriate manner.

It’s not often easy to practice a “do over.”  Emotions and shame can often cloud the opportunity to redo something that had been just done.  However, each time a do over happens, it’s amazing to see peace and calm arrive in our home.

Do Overs aren’t just for Desta though.  I’ve found myself sitting in the space of needing mental and emotional do overs as well.  While Desta might need a do over to train her brain how to kindly and without yelling speak to one of us, I need do overs to train my heart how to accept love.

I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift this Advent season.  Daily I’m amazed at how that morning’s particular reading was exactly what I needed to hear.  This morning was no different.

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I’ve been reflecting on joy and happiness, particularly after Caroline mentioned to us the other day how this year it doesn’t “feel” like Christmas yet.  I remember the first Christmas when it dawned on me that I was in charge of making it happen – the adult responsibilities kicked in full force and if I didn’t do something, the “feeling” for others wouldn’t happen.  Ah, the joys of growing up.

I read this from day 18 and thought of that conversation with Caroline –

“Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.  

As the cold can move you deeper toward the fire, struggling can move you deeper toward God, who warms you with joy. Struggling can deepen joy.”

I go back to the “do over.”  Without retraining the brain to do the right thing, creating new neurological pathways, there is never the opportunity to see a failure become successful.  And when there is success, there is joy and peace.

It’s not an easy process – it requires intentionality and discipline.  It means setting aside pride and practicing humility.  Same goes with struggle and joy.  It’s easy to get bogged down in the blahs and failures, not seeing the good in the middle.

It takes us back to thankfulness and gratitude.  Ann says it so well, “A song of thanks steadies everything.”

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This Advent season I’m working hard on the gratitude bit.  Seems I can’t quite seem to learn that lesson so I’ll keep practicing.  This year I’m continuing in my quest to keep a 1000 phrases of gratitude.  Come with me and do the same!  It won’t change the circumstances but it will change the attitude.