Thursday, 28 February 2013

Grieving Notes 3

My aunt came from abroad. She wasn't here during the time my brother died, so this was her first time coming here since the news.

As expected, she was devastated and inconsolable.

I remember getting from work last Friday and I was attempting to console her.

She was very sympathetic towards me and my siblings. She was very hurt for us all.

I had to control my flood of tears because I really didn't want to relive all the emotions again. I relive those emotions almost daily. That Friday, was a good day for me and I didn't want that to be taken away from me. It sounds selfish to want to sometimes forget everything that has happened. You want it to be pushed into the back of your mind so that you can smile, do something awesome and just carry on living.

It's selfish, but that's what I wanted... that is what I needed; a break from all the thinking about my brother and most importantly, about the fact that he's no longer here.

How are we doing?

We are doing well considering (that is always my response to anyone who asks).

It's nice for people to care enough to know how you're doing, but it's really awkward answering. Some days I just want to say that I want to crawl under a rock and stay there until I have no more memories of my brother... it's just that painful.

Now and then me and my sister discuss the funny things my brother would do or say...

Every time something happens I know exactly what his reaction would be... if it was funny, he'd laugh. If anyone in the family did good in something, he'd praise us.

This is tough.

Trying Something New: Rhassoul Clay

My friend Dee from Beautifully and Naturally Made gave me a little pack of rhassoul clay when I was in London a few weeks ago. 

So last Monday I tried rhassoul clay for my hair! 

I don't really have a set of instructions on how to make this, but just make sure the mixture is not too watery or too thick and that there are no lumps in it either. You may want to use a mixer to end up with a smooth paste but that isn't really necessary.

What I used for this mixture:

I've only used this mixture once, but I will attempt to use it more often. I will also use bentonite clay and I will just alternate between the two. I will write a more in-depth review after several uses.

First impressions

Easy to apply, left very little mess (perhaps because I made it into a paste). Washing it out was fine, just make sure you wash it out properly. 

The mixture left my hair and scalp clean. My hair was also quite soft and manageable and didn't feel stripped.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Letters... Write Them.

I got a letter in the mail from my dad.

He likes to write letters. He's always written letters and he still does to this day. He's kept many of those letters in a safe place and many date back to the 70s.

Writing letters allows you to collect all of your thoughts. Talking to someone on the phone can cause you to lose your train of thought...

Writing letters allows the recipient to keep a record of whatever is being discussed in the letter.

Letters have a personal touch. Emails don't.

I will write more letters.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Beijing's First African Hair Salon

This is a really nice article from the BBC on a Congolese woman in China. She opened up the first all-African hair salon in Beijing and offers all kinds of braiding styles from singles to intricate cornrows.

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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Vitamin D Deficiency.

After months and months of seeing doctors about my symptoms; fatigue, lack of concentration, muscle pains and aches, pinched nerves... I finally have the answer to all of my ailments: vitamin D deficiency.

It's common in people of African and South Asian heritage. This is because:

  • Our levels of melanin are higher compared to Caucasian individuals. Our melanin acts as a natural sun screen. This means we absorb less vitamin D. 
  • Europe isn't our natural climate; we descent from much warmer climates where the Sun shines more often.
  • The Sun doesn't shine much in Britain.
My doctor said my vitamin D levels are incredibly low. I've been put on tablets to try and boost my vitamin D levels. Hopefully my symptoms will improve very quickly! 

If I've learned anything about what I've had to deal with, it's that:
  • Keep on pushing doctors to help find out what's wrong with you. Don't give up. If you're unwell, put your health first.
  • I probably need a better diet to avoid any future vitamin D deficiency.
  • I should relocate to a hot and sunny country.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Is Shrinkage Emotionally Discouraging?

CurlKit asked a really interesting question on Twitter today.

'Is Shrinkage Emotionally Discouraging?'.

I have natural hair that can shrink up to 90%. While some people may find this unnerving because it doesn't show their true length, I have learned to embrace the shrinkage.

Shrinkage is a major trait of our hair (the type 4's/kinky type)... it's a trait that isn't seen in other hair types (particularly the straighter and wavy hair types). Our level of shrinkage is also not seen in any other race; it's quite rare to see it elsewhere. These reasons alone make our hair type and the shrinkage that accompanies it, incredibly unique.

A lot of naturals would say they have a love/hate relationship with their shrinkage. I don't believe that about my own hair.

I believe that shrinkage is just part of it. Without the shrinkage, my hair wouldn't have the diversity it has now. Without the shrinkage, my hair wouldn't grow upwards, towards the sun, forming a head turning afro. Without the shrinkage, I couldn't indicate my hair's needs as easily (shrinkage can be used as an indicator of moisture and health). Without the shrinkage, I couldn't fool people into thinking I have voluminous hair when I really don't.

As a newly natural, the shrinkage may be discouraging. You may feel discouraged because you witness many naturals with long and/or big hair. But they went on a journey to get there and you too can go on that journey to get there if that is what you want.

Don't forget that there are techniques you can implement to reduce the shrinkage and increase the length of your hair. These techniques include twist outs, braid outs, roller-sets and more.

Embrace the shrinkage and work with it, not against it!

A Procrastinator Like Me Cheers Like This When Getting Ish Done.

OK -_____-''

It's pretty sad that celebrations have to be that overdone when I do the things I am supposed to do.

But I can't help it.

It's now my signature celebration style after getting something done and with the way I've procrastinated, I think it's actually quite fitting!

I need May to come fast so that I can procrastinate guilt-free.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Grieving Notes 2

A few nights ago was one of those nights where I'd wake up in the middle of the night and I can't shake my thoughts about my brother.

His funeral replay in my head... my last moments with him... what may have happened to him after he died...

I'm still thinking of the last time I saw him. He was on the computer and I was going to go to work. I asked him for the keys and he got me the keys. I left. I don't remember if I said 'goodbye', but everything else is so well documented in my memory.

Every other day can be an uphill battle. Some days I'm perfectly fine. Other days I'm ready to cry at the slightest thought of him.

I really miss him a lot and sometimes it really feels like a heavy emotion to deal with. I miss his smile, his laughter and just the silly things a brother would do to his sisters. It's still so unbelievable that he's gone.

Everyday I'm sort of wondering what he'd be doing now... how he'd react to what me and my siblings are doing... what we would be talking about now.

I suppose acceptance would bring a big source of comfort to many people in my situation... but it's hard to let go. You feel like it shouldn't have happened... you feel like they should be there alongside you for the rest of your life.

You just have to hold on to get through the storm, before the rainbow can finally come.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Dutch Magazine Inside Newspaper Shows Natural Hair

A few weeks ago my awesomest friend ever in Amsterdam send me a few pics of a magazine that comes in a daily newspaper.

I am trying my hardest to translate what I can read from the pages. It's hard to sometimes translate stuff from Dutch to English because it sometimes doesn't make any sense. >___<"

Not just straight hair; Afro hair is back in. 

My aunt and cousin also want to go natural.

Strangers frequently touch my hair.

I would have loved to have read the stories. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Beware of Counterfeit Jamaican Black Castor Oil

The brand sold by Sheabutter Cottage; I trust this brand fully.

A few months ago I introduced my cousin to Jamaican Black Castor Oil from Sheabutter Cottage. My cousin fell in love. She had the results she wanted; thicker edges and healthier hair.

Since that bottle of JBCO ran out, my cousin went to an Asian BSS in Birmingham and requested that they sell JBCO. The Asian store got it in stock in a matter of weeks. She came back and purchased it.

After several uses of this particular JBCO, she noticed no change and no difference to her edges. In fact, she says that her edges were probably worse after using this JBCO.

I can't confirm whether it's the JBCO or not that may have affected my cousin's edges but she's sure it has. She won't be buying it from the Asian BSS's any longer. I can't mention the brand of the JBCO (that may have been counterfeited in this case) because I don't want to commit libel.

I've told my cousin that I am going to continue purchasing JBCO for her from a seller that I always buy my JBCO from; Sheabutter Cottage.

While I myself can't confirm whether my cousin's results are true or not due to a number of factors that can affect the growth of edges, I do think the important message of this is that we can't always trust what is being sold to us.

Also, instead of taking a risk because of what is convenient (buying it in-store from Asian BSS'), I think it's important that we support our own businesses and whomever they are supplying to.

For places to buy JBCO in the United Kingdom:
Sheabutter Cottage

Saturday, 2 February 2013

My Money Saver Guide.

Earlier this week I was confronted with a less than pleasant amount of savings.

If I aspire to travel the world after my graduation, I need a lot more than I have right now. I've been shocked into making changes and to help you too, I'm sharing some of the changes I've already implemented or am going to implement to keep more money in my pocket.

1. Paying by cash only.

Paying by card is easy. All you do is swipe or insert your card, type in your pin and voila, you've made a purchase (unless it's been declined and the cashier clocks the look of embarrassment written all over your face).

Your card is not real money. Therefore whatever purchase you're making, you're not exchanging money, you're just exchanging some digits of your bank account.

Also even if you run out of money, you don't know until you get an alert from your bank or your card is declined. All in all, you're not really keeping up with how much you're spending when using a card.

2. Cutting the coffee.
I'm a coffee lover. Like I have always said, it's my fuel. I visit any coffee chain on a daily basis. If I want something fancy, it can easily set me back £2.95. If I want something simple, it's £2.15. Either way, it's a lot of money if you tally up how much I'm spending a week/month/year. If you're a coffee addict like me, let me shock you into dropping it like a bad habit:


Note that I don't know if I spend £621p/a but I'm just saying that if I continued this addiction, that is how much I would have spend on coffee this time next year.

Course of action

I will:

  1. Minimise the amount of coffee I drink, reducing it to once or twice a week.
  2. Use it as an emergency energy boost and not as an everyday pick me up.
  3. Make more use of instant coffee; cheaper and 'homemade'! 
If I want to buy hot chocolate/coffee from a coffee chain, I will go to one where I have some benefits, such as Caffe Nero (they have a stamp card, the tenth coffee is free) or Costa Coffee (points card with added benefits).

3. Continue my self-imposed product buying ban.
I made some exceptions when purchasing hair products; i.e my birthday.

Other than that, I have only purchased anything that I really needed (i.e. lip balm from ImanMade a few weeks ago).

I've been really good with not buying any hair products though. I aim to continue giving away products and using them up as detailed here.

4. Eat breakfast at home and budget lunch.
I sometimes don't eat breakfast at home and so I buy a lot of food that I can eat on my way to university. My problem is that I usually end up not eating it so I'm wasting my money.

I've started having breakfast at home and I'm loving it; it saves money, it's healthier and I am guaranteed to actually have my breakfast. I do have to get up a little bit earlier than usual though =/

As for lunch, I can get carried away buying my favourite sandwiches/toasties/soup from Eat (ultra expensive, but they're oh so yummy!!!). I don't need anything fancy for now. A sandwich from Greggs will do.

5. Take advantage of deals.
1/2 price, 2 for 1's and more will be my best friends.

I'll also take advantage of Poundland/99P Stores (£1 for a pack of five orange Caprisun drinks, why not?!), my NUS card, O2 Priorities and Vouchercloud.

I'm on a mission to save, save and save!

6. Don't go over any limits on my phone; free minutes, texts or data.
Ok this isn't really that much of an issue now that I have the perfect plan with T-Mobile/EE. However, in case I get too talkative, I need to remind myself that maybe giving missed calls to the people I want to speak to the most and waiting for them to ring back, isn't such a cheapskate bad idea after all.

7. Control my book buying habit.
I blame the simplicity of Amazon. Click, click and click and you've ordered a book.

From now on, I have to read all the books in my possession before I buy a new one.

8. Stay off Etsy.
I've made a few cool and awesome mobile phone case purchases, this is a recent one:

Seller: EmiSoul

Etsy is the unique and cool stuff marketplace. It can become extremely addictive though. I'm not going to use it for a while. 

9. Less lending. 
I am going to lend less money and only lend if it's emergency, emergency.

10. Become a bailiff. 
If I've lend you money and you have the money to do this and that, I will chase you up for what you owe me!

11. Check my balance on a regular basis.
Some people are too afraid to check their balance. I admit, I was for a while. Now I'm going to become very familiar with my bank account. I have to see where my money is going to and where it is coming from. This way I can see:

  1. Whether any unexplained amount of money is leaving my account
  2. Whether there is a double charge in expenditure
  3. Whether any purchases online have been subtracted from my account (thereby preventing overdrafts)

12. Book early. 
If I want a weekend break in London* or Manchester, I better check at least a week in advance. If there's nothing decently priced available, I should reach for cheaper alternatives such as traveling by coach.

I will also use the 'book early method' for flights in my post-graduation travels. I'll also profusely check for the best times to travel so I can get the best deals.

*London is expensive. Whenever I go, I budget and I strive to stick to my budget. I also familiarise myself with the buses when I'm there. The Underground is a fast and easy way to travel but it's expensive.

13. Buy what I need, not what I want.
When I walk into Boots, I go in with knowing what I need and I leave with what I need and not with what I want.

You just have to ask yourself 'do I really need this?', if not, don't buy it.

14. Cheaper socialising.
Less cinema. Less eating out.

Sometimes staying in and cooking dinner is better than eating out. I actually did this for my birthday celebration!

This is a mocktail from Bodega Birmingham which I visited with Hunii and Kadian in December. They sell delicious Mexican food. I will miss this type of socialising =(
These are my money saving changes. What are yours? Please share any other ideas that you may have!