When Are We Truly ‘At Our Best’

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There was a time when I would have never posted this picture anywhere. There was a time I would have never been caught video chatting without a complete beat face. Even as recently as last year, had FaceTime rang with me still sweaty from the gym, I would have declined the call or strategically placed the camera so that I had a chance to ‘put myself together’ before anyone could see me. But then I have to ask myself would I had even gone to the gym without at least foundation on? I think not.

Now, I know that we all say there is nothing wrong with trying to look ‘our best’. But lately, I have struggled with what that means and all the weight and pressure that comes with that. It’s a mind f*ck really. So tell me, am I not at my best like this? I had a good day, prayed, went to yoga, walked, drank a mean green smoothie for dinner, cleaned my room and approached the day with gratitude. But even after all that, I still need to look outside of myself in order to be my best? It’s really quite confusing and the implications that come along with statements like ‘you’re best’ can be daunting.

I worry sometimes that this blog adds to that confusion because we are in a way a beauty blog. But my hope is that we aren’t your average beauty blog. My hope is that we keep it real enough to keep your minds at ease. My hope is that no claims of perfection are made here. My hope is that Shanti and I document our own personal journeys that folks can relate to it but not strive towards it. My hope is that we inspire.

In summary, I’m at a point in my life that when it comes to beauty, I no longer feel the need to strive towards perfection and I think it is because I have defined for myself what “at my best” is. I think it’s important that we all do that. It’s vital that we have and live by our definitions and refine them when need be.  Otherwise, we are at risk of living up to standards made with a broad brush.

So, I am at my best when…

-I eat healthy

-I exercise

-I’m in love

-I take care of my skin

-I use my favorite sweet smelling shea butter after I shave

-I use lip liner with my lipstick

-I wear my new black leather jacket with a bright red lip, aviator sun glasses and slick my hair back in a tight bun

-I have that black long line bra on

-I get my eyebrows done and handle any random weird hairs on my face/chin/mustache (smh)

-I drink tons of water

-I’m organized

-I get to see him

-I think positive

-I trust the journey

-I smile

-I stretch

-I’m social and not behind this computer

-I watch/listen/love Beyonce

-I’m around kids

-I get a pedicure

-I sing

-I leave my hair alone until it is completely dry.

When are you at your best ladies?

These Are Not Radical Ideas

We have not posted much about Michael Brown. Mainly, because I/we haven’t known what exactly to say. Frankly, I still don’t know how to express my anger, guilt, sorrow and frustration that will ignite any real change. Even now, I fear that some of you are reading this thinking, “Here she goes again” or “She doesn’t even know because her mom’s white” or “Where is the hair post”. But that’s my own stuff. Not yours.

 The following is a Facebook message and it says it all… everything I have ever felt but couldn’t articulate.  My once mentor and now friend posted it. Sadly, I wanted to send it to some family members and friends of mine. I’ve been secretly waiting for someone in my circle to say something stupid to me about Mike Brown. Well, a couple days ago that wait was over and I wish my response was something like the statements below, but instead I eloquently informed them that “they didn’t know shit”. Smh. Please read below.

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“A white friend expressed to me recently that my facebook and twitter timelines seemed more “radical” lately. In response, I told him that it is not radical at all. First, it’s obvious that we are not very close friends if you believe that spreading important information is radical expression for me. In fact, it feels quite passive. Additionally, and maybe even more significant, are my feelings behind the messages and tone of the information that I help to share.

It is not radical for me or anyone else to want to live. It is not radical for me to want to see my brother  live until he is an old man. It is not radical for me to want my nephew and my cousins to not be criminalized because of the color of their skin. It is not radical for me to want my uncle to be able to work, pay taxes, provide for his family, and enjoy his life without the threat of violence and death from the police. These are not radical ideas. They are normal, reasonable ideas. So normal in fact, white US citizens very rarely ever have to think about it. You expect these realities and privilege and take full advantage of them with every breath. If you believe that it is radical for me to express this desire for myself, it is clear that you believe the notion of who we are and what we deserve as humans is fundamentally different from you. Moreover, when I talk about myself, I am talking about ALL of my people. ALL OF THEM. Every utterance of “but what about…”, “but not all…”, “but they should have just…” “but not all white people….” – each of these is an expression of micro-deviations between your level of humanity to mine.

To put it plainly, if you are a so called believer in human rights- you should be fighting harder to defend those who are constantly abused by and used as fodder for the system that you benefit from WITH EVERY SINGLE BREATH. Anything short of that brings me what I covet these days more than any other time in my life, clarity. How you feel about #michaelbrown is how you feel about my son and how you feel about me. When it comes to survival, this liberal rhetoric has muddied the waters for too long. At least I know where the other side stands. How you feel about the people of #ferguson is how you feel about my family. I very rarely quote the bible these days, but when it comes to survival, Revelation 3:15-16 seems extremely appropriate: “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot … So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

We are not fools. Here in the United States, Brazil, and many place in between, violence and oppression based on skin color, hair, features, and class are the dogs of war– this brutality is controlled by two leashes. Holding the leash tightest is institutional racism. Hiding behind, is his son white privilege. What a fucking coward. HE has the nerve to ask ME to teach HIM what HE should do to for ME to make HIM more comfortable as a so-called ally. Sadly, many of my liberal friends don’t see the violence inherit in these indignities. I am not comfortable and have never been. I don’t have that privilege. My life is full of the anxiety of being a critical victim. I have worried my entire life about living long enough to start a family and will spend the remainder of my life worrying about losing my children to structural violence. Needless to say, I am busy and have zero time for your lukewarm bullshit.”

#ARRESTDARRENWILSON

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It is not radical to want to live

Sensations

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I remember the first time I got high at fourteen. I laughed until the sound disappeared. I rolled on the concrete. I never wanted to come down. Until one day,  it became too scary and friends became sinister. My heart raced and anxiety would crash on me wave after wave. I eventually stopped smoking.

I remember my first taste of alcohol. I was 21 years old. I had no worries, no guilty conscience. Back then, the future moved towards me slowly. It didn’t loom over me and chase me the way it does now. I drank until my confidence spilled over onto the dance floor, into my conversations, guiding my teetering gait down sidewalks, stairs, lawns and beaches with family, friends, lovers and strangers into wee hours of the night for months which turned into years. Until one day, I woke up. My head ached, my sad, puppy dog eyes looked back at me defeated and red. My face appeared swollen and wrinkled all at once. I eventually stopped drinking.

I remember the first time I fell in love. I was 18, 22 and yesterday. I remember the low, sweet baritone voice on the phone in my ear. I remember holding hands and feeling them be squeezed 3 times. I squeezed back 4. I remember the night my heart beat became one with another’s and I cried. God soothed us to sleep with the morning song of 2 birds. I remember the frustration and anger as a lover’s dream turned into a living nightmare of wanting what I couldn’t have and denying others of what I couldn’t give. I remember falling asleep with dread and waking to loneliness, loss and denial.

I hope I never stop attempting to love.

There comes a time in life when we must all face our attachment to things and people that make us “feel good”. We must seek out real satisfaction, longevity and fulfillment. We must balance the gifts that God has given us to enjoy which bring us release and reward such as food, drink, celebration, recognition, money and relationships with the taunt grip  of restraint and temperance.  When you find your life fueled only by these sensual, temporary pleasures we all eventually run empty and stop.

My prayer to all that have demons (and we all do)  is to come to that defining moment when you can’t do anything else but better.

New Monthly Columnist: Ask Jamillia All About 4C hair care

Around The Way Curls has been publishing online for nearly two years about natural hair care. We write from our perspective and knowledge as 3A and 3C hair types. We understand how frustrating and exclusive it may be to some readers who can not relate our content to their hair type in styling, technique, products, etc.  I was fortunate enough to meet an awesome, fellow Around The Way Curl who is a natural hair enthusiast and has come a long way on her journey. Allow me to introduce everyone to Jamillia. She has 4c hair and she also feels like there is a huge void in the blog-osphere for women who are natural 4cs and in need of experienced advice and encouragement. She has agreed to begin building that bridge by being a monthly columnist ( or more if ya’ll demand it) writing about effective hair practices for 4c hair and answering all of your questions. 

(For those that don’t know “hair typing” Here is a chart)

Jamillia Writes:

“It took me just over 18 years to realize that my hair was not a problem. 18 years—of last minute hair store runs. Of, “I can’t come out, my hair isn’t done” story lines. Of, “Sorry J, I won’t be able to do your hair this weekend because I have xyz commitment, but I’ll do it next weekend…” for months at a time. Lordt. 

 I went natural by accident, but it was the single best accident in my life thus far. As a child I believed my hair never fit my face, and I am sure I’m not the only gal with 4c coils who felt that way. What does such a statement even mean? How can the strands growing from your scalp not fit the face they came with? Honestly, it was because my coils were constantly over processed, limp, and coated with some petroleum based, brightly colored, magical hair growth oil like “Doo Gro” or “B&B”. 

Sound familiar? 

Flash forward to 2007. I was sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh with every weave wearing woman’s worst nightmare. The hair stores in the city of Pittsburgh carried lackluster extensions at exorbitant prices. Back then the 12 inch pack of deep wave went for $25.99. Hello?! That’s a five star college dinner. What made the situation even more desperate was the fact that the women in my family have always been the DIY type with their hair. Translation: hair stylists creeped me out. The few sessions I do remember ended in a bowl cut mushroom press and curl. I felt backed into a corner. Each night I removed my cap weave to reveal a hair texture completely foreign to me. I was annoyed that my natural curl pattern did not resemble grandma’s half-Lebanese waves, and even more annoyed that my hair was always dry, despised heat, and looked like frosted flakes with dry mousse in it. Learning to take care of my 4C hair was a process, and I have made every mistake imaginable. But when I tell you that mastering your head of hair is a genuinely empowering and rewarding sentiment—I mean it.

My name is Jamillia Kamara of Love4Coils, and I hope to serve as a source of information and motivation for your 4C hair journey. Cheers! 

For more daily 4C hairspiration, follow us on @Love4Coils

 Email Jamillia any questions and concerns that you are having with your 4C hair. We will post the questions and answers on the first of every month! Love4coils@gmail.com 

Lazy Sundays With Things That Interest ATWC

I thought I would do it again and share some articles, videos, websites etc that peak my interest and perhaps yours as well! Enjoy!

1.

“The A-Z of Dance” for Diesel Jeans. Directed by Jacob Sutton. The editing, the style, the dance all make my heart beat and my smile stretch. 

 

2.

 I have a friend on FB named Kristin who is secretly my Bff in my head. She is always sharing the dopest content, articles etc. She recently wrote on Ebony.com that there will be a James Baldwin Festival In NY next week! If you don’t know much about James Baldwin and his work, don’t feel ashamed go to the festival and learn! “This month, New York Live Arts will kick off a city-wide celebration of Baldwin’s life in the festival “Live Ideas: James Baldwin, This Time!” The 18 events will take place from April 23-27 and include theater work Nothing Personal, based on the 1964 collaborative book by James Baldwin and Richard Avedon, an original video installation, inspired by the writings of Baldwin, by contemporary visual artist Hank Willis Thomas and daily readings of Baldwin’s classics by artists such as Komunyakaa and Suzan-Lori Parks.”

If I could go, I would definitely be there. These are the types of events where you meet awesome, like-minded people. Attend, learn somethin’, bask in your pride for Baldwin’s brilliant black mind and maybe find the love of your life. Win, win, win. For more information, tickets and scheduling click here

 3.

SLIDINGVERSUSDECIDING.Blogspot.com

I stumbled upon this one evening and I am very thankful that I did. It is a scientific study of the consequences of the decisions (or lack thereof) made by our generation when it comes to choosing our life partners. It rang many bells for me and at times it was very hard to read because of the harsh consequences that were reported by  couples that refused to make conscious, clear decisions as to where their lives were going romantically. It is all very scientific in writing but plain enough that the material can be digested. Please take a look if you are currently in a relationship and see if you are guilty of some of the passive decision making practices that the researcher reports about. Here is a short blurb of his blog’s purpose….

“I believe this idea of “sliding vs. deciding” captures something important about how romantic relationships develop in this day and age.

The core idea is that people often slide through important transitions in relationships, such as starting to live together, rather than deciding what they are doing and what it means. For example, sociologists Wendy Manning and Pamela Smock conducted a qualitative study of cohabiting couples and found that over one half of couples who are living together didn’t talk about it but simply slid into doing so. In our large quantitative study of cohabitation, we have found that fully 2/3rds of the sample of cohabiters report a process more like sliding into cohabitation than talking about it and making a decision about it. There used to be many steps and stages of courtship and relationship development that, for the most part, no longer exist. Does that mean it’s harder than ever to make clear commitments? I suspect so. In contrast to sliding, commitments that we are most likely to follow through on are based in decisions. In fact, one essential truth of commitment is that it means making a choice to give up other choices. A commitment is a decision. Not all relationships are meant to be or meant to last. But for those relationships that are, the fundamentals of commitment suggest that thinking about what you are doing and where you are going–together–and making a decision, can build a stronger, more lasting commitment. Do we always need to be making a decision about things? I hope not. But when something important in life is at stake, I believe that deciding will trump sliding in how things turn out. You could think of this concept as an upgrade on the popular idea of being “intentional” about choices and pathways. One does not need to make decisions about everything–and sliding can be just fine and even preferred at times. Do you want to analyze and agonize about everything? Hopefully not. Decisions matter most when it comes to things that are important, like where a relationship is headed or what matters most to you in how you live your life. That is the central theme of this blog.”
 4.
 
ALEX ELLE Will Be Reading In Philly May 4th!
I am really proud and in awe of this bright, wise, young mother, lover, author and entrepreneur. She is truly living her life from her heart and reaping the rewards of faith and purpose. She is the guest of writer Rob Hill. Again, this is an event where good energy is shared, beautiful people pop out of nowhere and revelations will be had. Come out! Ill be there to support!
To learn more and buy tickets, click here 

Welp, these are the things that make my ears perk up, excite me, get me to thinking and encourage me to be better. I hope they did the same for you! Until next time….

 

 

“If You Think You Are Better Than Your Man, Your Relationship is Done”.

   

      ” I don’t know. I just feel like he isn’t doing anything with himself. He smokes weed, he still works at the same job. He can’t seem to save any money. But he is so smart, and talented and sweet. He is good to me. He is a good man.”

“Do you think you are better than him?”  “Excuse me?”  “Do you think you are better than your  man? Because if you do, your relationship is done”.

Our male friend shrugged his shoulders after dropping this fact and went back to his plate of chicken wings. Antoinette and I looked at each other. She smiled a wide Cheshire cat smile. I looked back at her with furrowed eyebrows. I smiled uneasily. She knew. I knew. I thought that I was better than my man. Underneath the soft sheaths of laughter, intimacy and comfort of our relationship was a bubbling brew of contempt, hope and mistrust.

Will he ever get his act together? Maybe if he sees that I am nervous about our future he will try to do something different. Am I wrong for wanting something more? But he is so sweet. He is so intrinsically good. I can help him. Wait hold up, fuck I got to be the one to help him for?

It had never dawned on me that this sense of superiority was in fact unhealthy and detrimental to my relationship. The illness was not so much that he was unmotivated but that I thought that I was in fact more progressive. Lies. I am far from perfect. I procrastinate, I underachieve and I doubt myself but my boyfriend at that time thought I might as well have been Oprah. He thought I was hot shit. He adored me as an unrealistic projection of myself. I focused on solely his weaknesses and he was blind to mine. We remained timid crabs scurrying left and right after one another yet incapable of moving forward.

I see this same dilemma in many relationships. I know amazingly talented, intelligent women linked to the dead weight of an underachieving man. As a result these women become inflated with a false sense of productivity and they are never really properly fueled, critiqued and pushed off of their plateaus of comfort. No one really helps each other further in life. They remain stagnant in their incompatibility.

Love can be such a desperate thing. Everyone wants it. Everyone NEEDS it. Once we find someone who is nice, not a complete degenerate, makes us laugh, hits it right and at least has a job we ignore the finer details but we should want more than that from our partners, our potential life mates, husbands, wives and co-parents. We should want to be pushed to discomfort, encouraged, directed, critiqued, supported and inspired. We should feel the security of a loved one who always has your back, pushing you forwards whether you like it or not.

Have You Ever Been In A Stagnant Relationship? What Made You Realize It Had To End?

Amazing Women Who Aren’t Beyonce

Maaaan listen, I love Beyonce. I do. I love her in a sick twisted way. I am well aware of it. She is amazing. She makes me feel hmmm how do I say it…..? Like shit? Small? Lazy? Dumpy? Gay? Inspired? Bald headed? Poor? Like I can do anything if I put my mind to it? Like I too have a wild sex demon inside of me? Like I need a better camera? Like I too am honored to be a mother to an awesome, wild daughter? Like women rule the world and got damn it I am a woman and she makes me so proud I get a lump in my throat sometimes? Ummmm yeeeaah kind of like all of dat.

 I have stumbled upon some really fucking amazing women that deserve recognition and swell me with pride and inspiration similar to Beyonce (but without the sick, twisted associations).  I hope they do the same for you.

Warsan Shire 

At 25, this young Kenya- born Somalian (East Africa Stand Up!) is the current Young Poet Laureate of London. She is an amazing poet and is responsible for this poem that is me. She is a deep, remarkable woman whose words, insight and mission should be seen by all. Here is a taste of the flavor she is putting down from a poem called

“Backwards”

He takes off his jacket and sits down for the rest of his life,

that’s how we bring Dad back.

I can make the blood run back up my nose, ants rushing into a hole.

We grow into smaller bodies, my breasts disappear,

your cheeks soften, teeth sink back into gums.

I can make us loved, just say the word.

Give them stumps for hands if even once they touched us without consent,

I can write the poem and make it disappear.

Step Dad spits liquor back into glass,

Mum’s body rolls back up the stairs, the bone pops back into place,

maybe she keeps the baby.

Maybe we’re okay kid?

I’ll rewrite this whole life and this time there’ll be so much love,

you won’t be able to see beyond it.

 To Read More Click Here

Shayla Cox

I had stumbled upon Shayla via Tumblr and I have been a big fan of hers for a while. She is a jewelry designer of a brand which is her name sake Shayla Cox. She is amazing because she is completely invested in herself and her art. I respect her because her jewelry, branding and marketing is completely on point. It is a direct reflection of her values and her vision. She is not compromising herself for anyone. To understand the dicipline, dedication and fearlessness required to achieve such seamless branding, is inspiring. I love to see that. I see you girl! Tear shit up!

Melina Matsoukas

Melina is responsible for Rihanna’s epic, award winning music video “We Found Love”  as well the majority of videos from Beyonce’s “B’day” album and most recently “Pretty Hurts” from Beyonce. If you look her up on Wikipedia, you will find a VERY long and impressive list of music videos of which she is responsible for directing. She is a master of bright colors, textures and stylization. She is a woman with vision. When we admire the Rihannas, and Beyonces of the world, I think it is important to take notice of the minds and talent behind the artists. The people that know how to capture and create the perfection we assume stars naturally have.  Melina is a cinematic beast. For all the young film makers, videographers and photographers, watch her, follow her and be inspired.

Lianne La Havas

Are you fucking kidding me? I love. her. I have watched quietly as this young lady slowly begins to swell soon to blow up. She’s beautiful and her work is beautiful. This video is beautiful. Watch and become a fan.

Ameena Matthews

Ameena Matthews used to be a gang member. Her father was powerful gang leader. She knows the intricate webs of emotional, financial and sociopolitical issues that pull at hearts of those involved in gang/drug affected communities.  She is no longer a gang member nonetheless she lives, eats and breathes the lifestyle in a ongoing effort to pull the people of her Chicago community away from the trivialities and deadly consequences of living the fast life.  She literally stands and begs compromise before guns are pulled as a violence interrupter.  She is power and purpose manifest. To learn more about Ameena Matthews check out this amazing documentary focused on her and other heroes  called

“The Interrupters”

It’s nice to watch King Bey but these aforementioned women are a nice reality check. They are wonderful sources for varied talents, purposes and grinds.

I know I Missed Many. ..

Who Are Some Amazing Women That You Look Up To (that are not Beyonce)?

Shanti Leaves The USA – JoJo I Don’t Think We Are in Kansas Anymore!

shanti around the way curls, natural hair, motherhood,

So I have been keeping a HUGE secret from all of you. For the past six months I have been contemplating and planning a trip to leave the country. I have finally taken the leap of faith. I am in Guatemala! My family owns and maintains a beautiful farm in Guatemala. My cousin has lived in Guatemala since she was seventeen (she is originally from the US and is now 26). She teaches here in a bilingual school and has invited me to come to the school and teach in English to students. I rejected the idea for so long but I decided an opportunity like this only comes once in a lifetime so I took it. The coffee farm which I live on is lush and tropical. Banana, orange, avocado and lime trees offer there fruits generously. I just have to go outside and pick it. The life of Guatemalans is by no means easy. There is poverty everywhere juxtaposed against the environmental beauty. Even my daily life can be challenging surrounded by pollution and unpaved roads. My heart misses Philadelphia, my friends and family. This has been exciting yet terrifying. They say you take yourself wherever you go and still I struggle with my fears and dissatisfaction. I am not yet committed to staying here. I am taking it day by day. We will see.

shanti around the way curls
In Between two decisions….
Has anyone ever lived abroad? What were your challenges? Any questions for me?