Thursday, December 12, 2013

Steps to Building Wealth

There are few topics in life that I hold near and dear to my heart.  Building wealth is one of them. 
I'm not exactly sure how I got here, but the only explanation I can think of is that God gave me this gift.  I did not grow up knowing anyone with wealth or money.  There was just something in me.  I can still remember creating ridiculous businesses as a child where I would get my little brothers to search the entire house and find unclaimed change.  As a reward, I would give them a portion of the money found or some kind of gift and save the rest for myself.  I remember when I got my first job at the age of 16.  I worked a few hours a week at KFC.  I remember saving all my money to buy my sister and I some respectable clothing to wear to school and on the weekends.  I also remember having money leftover long after I quit my job.
Anyway, I love when I come across articles that have really good explanations on how to build wealth.  This is one of them (see below).  The only thing I would change is how much you should invest in company-sponsored 401(k)/retirement plans.  I would not contribute the maximum amount they allow, but instead would contribute the maximum amount they will match.  My job will match up to 6% of your salary, but will allow you to contribute much more.  I contribute 6%.  If you want to save additional amounts for retirement, I would suggest a ROTH IRA.


Steps to building wealth

By Bruce W. Fraser •
Remember playing Legos as a kid? You could quickly take a random pile of blocks and build something solid. The steps to building wealth are not so different, as the process involves a series of small decisions that move us along, one building block at a time.
"It is from those daily decisions that individuals build wealth," says J. Landon Loveall, founder and president of Cumberland Wealth Planners in greater Nashville, Tenn. "What you do now will determine where you are financially 20 years from now."
The steps to building wealth begin with a clear intention to attain it. After all, accumulating money is not a haphazard occurrence, but a deliberate process.
Once you determine that attaining wealth is a priority, focus your energies on maximizing your income, saving a portion of it and investing it for growth. Building wealth also requires you to make decisions on potentially destructive forces that erode wealth, such as inflation, taxes and overspending.

Building your income

Your income represents the foundation upon which you build lifetime wealth. The higher your income, the greater your potential for accumulating significant assets.
When you're young, the value of your future earnings is your No. 1 financial asset. Find a job you love, invest in educating yourself and keep abreast of changes in your career field.
"The lifetime return for making these investments at this time is greater than saving in Roth IRAs, or any investment, even factoring in the power of compounding," says Certified Financial Planner Joe Alfonso, founder of Aegis Financial Advisory in Santa Clara, Calif.
To stay on top of your field, take advantage of college savings plans with tax-favorable characteristics that are available to students of all ages.
Going hand in hand with earning money is the ability to live within your means and plan for contingencies.
"By far, the most destructive forces to building wealth are inertia, procrastination and, ultimately, magical thinking -- couples passing away peacefully and synchronously just after they spend their last dollar," says Certified Financial Planner Melissa Einberg, a wealth adviser at Forteris Wealth Management in Purchase, N.Y. "They simply fail to plan, not only for retirement, but also possible obstacles they will face on the way to retirement."

Saving your money

Saving money is the next step to building wealth. How much you save is a measure of how efficiently you use the wealth-building opportunity in your income. In their book, "The Millionaire Next Door," Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko discovered that self-made millionaires are very efficient at turning income into wealth.
Ultimately, it comes down to a balancing act. "The most important decision is how to balance current spending with future savings, or living a good life now versus saving for a great life in the future," says Loveall. Both he and Alfonso advise clients to save at least 10 percent of their annual income.
Rick Kahler, president of the Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, S.D., would double that to 20 percent or more "until you have six months to one year of living expenses for an emergency fund."
In addition to creating an emergency fund, Kahler, co-author of "Wired for Wealth," advocates opening a separate savings account for purchases of future cars, car repairs, vacations and Christmas gifts. The rest of your income can be spent on current consumption.
"For most people, this means living on 30 to 60 cents out of every gross dollar you earn," he says.
Saving can be an easily accomplished, automated process when signing up to contribute to a workplace retirement plan such as a 401(k). Kahler warns against "leaving money on the table if your employer offers a match on a 401(k) plan. It's like turning down a guaranteed 100 percent return. It's a no-brainer."
He suggests maximizing your contribution. Currently, the contribution limit is $17,500; $23,000 for those 50 and older. If you're truly motivated to build wealth, after maximizing your 401(k), contribute to an IRA. The contribution limit is $5,500; $6,500 for those 50 and older. (The tax deductibility of IRA contributions may be limited if you contribute to a workplace plan and your earnings exceed certain levels.)
If self-employed, set up a retirement plan that will allow you to invest as much as possible. Investing in a tax-sheltered account such as a Solo 401(k) cuts taxable income now and enables you to build wealth by deferring taxes until you take distributions.

Putting your savings to work

Wealth-building strategies include investing in paper assets such as stocks and bonds, buying income-producing real estate and owning a business -- or all three.
Experts generally agree on the importance of such core investment principles as keeping a balanced and globally diversified portfolio, and diligently rebalancing to maintain your investment plan. Maintaining a long-term perspective is also important.
"Successful investing is about discipline, understanding of your tolerance for risk and, most importantly, about setting realistic financial goals and expectations about market returns," says Einberg.
Studies have shown that an asset allocation policy can explain most of a portfolio's investment returns over time. When investing in stocks, diversifying across markets both domestic and international, developed and emerging, is key, says Alfonso. For bonds, closely managing credit and maturity to avoid taking imprudent risk is also important.
Passively managed funds that mimic an index allow investors to build diversified portfolios of inexpensive funds. Actively managed funds generally cost more and are susceptible to style drift, given the leeway managers have in carrying out their investment strategy, says Alfonso.
When choosing investments, your tolerance for risk will likely dictate your asset allocation. Professionals with steady paychecks and generous employer retirement benefits usually can tolerate more risk than a salesperson earning commissions or a young investor starting out -- though young investors can afford to dial up the risk by investing more in equities since they have plenty of time to make up any losses.
Beyond stocks and stock funds, many investors are diversifying into nontraditional asset classes, such as commodities, managed futures, merger-arbitrage and market-neutral or long-short funds, as well as absolute-return mutual funds. These "alternative" funds aim to hold up in all types of markets with less volatility. They also help to fight inflation -- that seemingly benign annual increase in the price of goods and services that actually destroys your purchasing power over time.
While choosing non-correlated assets to increase diversification is important, Alfonso advises investors to stick to a prudent investment strategy, regardless of market conditions. "Keep investment costs as low as possible; net returns will be higher. And, most importantly, never try to time the market."
As famous investor Peter Lynch once said, "Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections, or trying to anticipate corrections, than has been lost in corrections themselves."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Article on Having It All

As you all know, I would really like to get my PhD (in Business) at some point.  I have been paying very close attention to academic articles/working papers that would help me to narrow down the subject I would like to major in.  When I went to the PhD fair the other month, they suggested reading papers you are interested in and paying close attention to the schools that sponsored the paper and the subject/major of the individuals who wrote the paper.  This is a subject matter that interests me greatly and was written by a research associate at Yale's School of Business Management.


The following link ( is of a working paper/study on "Having it All," based on that article I sent you a while ago.  In this paper (which is quite long), the author tracks the lives of 40 or so women over a period of time.  In tracking their lives and interviewing each lady, the author was able to summarize their responses into 3 categories:


Can I have it all?

1.       "No, but I can have what is most important."  Strategy: Prioritize and Limit.  No, I cannot have it all, but I can have what is most important to me.  I can prioritize which endeavors I will pursue, and which I will limit or do without.  This answer is animated by the conviction that a woman's highest priorities – whether related to work, relationships, or lifestyle – command so much attention that she can only truly have one or two, in her lifetime.

2.       "Yes, but not all at once."  Strategy: Sequencing.  Yes, I can have it all, but not all at once.  I can sequence the elements I want to include in my life, focusing on energies on one until I am satisfied and ready to turn my attention to the next.   The women who embraced this answer also felt they needed to invest fully in their top priorities, and could only do justice to one or two elements at a time.

3.       "Yes."  Strategy: Add and Delegate.  Yes, I can have it all.  I can pursue all the elements I want, and delegate some of the tasks needed to make it all work.  In contrast to those who prioritized or sequenced, women who adopted this approach were much less likely to think their choices conflicted with each other so much as to be mutually exclusive.  They anticipated adding every major element they wanted – in work, relationship or lifestyle – without significant postponements or concessions.  They would keep up by enlisting help (housekeepers, nannies, bookeepers, assistants, etc.), as necessary.


This study also follows up with each of these when they are older to determine how their strategy turned out for them.  In summary, 41% of the women who chose to prioritize and limit felt their solution went relatively well and were happy with the outcome.  50% of the women who chose to sequence felt their solution went relatively well and were happy with the outcome.  20% of the women who decided to strive to have it all and delegate tasks were ultimately happy with the outcome at the later stages of their life.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Doctor, Doctor!

I am just leaving an Information Session and PhD Business School Fair at NYU. 

I am now more inspired and determined than ever to get my PhD. I don't know how I will get into one of these programs or how long it will take me, but (God Willing), I will achieve this goal. 

I wasn't able to stay until the bitter end, but I was able to get so many great nuggets of information during the one our that I was there. Now, I just need to come up with a master plan. 

Step 1:  Continue to work at my job and use the opportunity to become even more involved in research and contributing to original studies/papers. 

Step 2: GMAT  (I will not take the actual test until I get, at least a 700 on my practice test.......I've got a long way to go. *sigh*)

Step 3: Find opportunities to gain even more research experience (particularly in academia) and possibly teaching experience (although this is less necessary). Can I get a side job as a research assistant for a professor?

Step 4: Research schools, research programs, research professors and research academic articles that interest me. The articles are the key in finding the right programs for me. 

Step 5: Decide the next best step. Should I jump right in and apply for the PhD program?  Should I apply for an MBA program because it's less competitive and try to parlay that into a PhD?  Take a few classes and try to parlay that into a PhD?  At this point I will take a step back, evaluate and then decide. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bucket List Club (1 June 2013 Update)

Are you feeling like your in a rut?  Unhappy with life?  Unhappy with yourself?  Feel like your unable to truly achieve anything?  Have low self-esteem?  Regretful of missed opportunities and foolish/shameful things you have done in your past?  Been used and abused, but can't seem to think of yourself as more than a loser?  I think I just might have a solution.

First, I'd like to share a quote from one of my very favorite authors/therapists about self-esteem.
"Self-esteem must be earned! When you dare to dream, dare to follow that dream, dare to suffer through the pain, sacrifice, self-doubts, and friction from the world -- when you show such courage and tenacity --  you will genuinely impress yourself.  And most important, you will treat yourself accordingly and not settle for less from others -- at least, not for long.
Self-esteem is always forged from your efforts.
Accomplishment, leading to self-esteem, is not just about doing is about the courage to persist through pain and failure and self-doubt; to go past 'splat." 
~Dr. Laura Schlessinger

All this to say that I just got a huge boost of self-esteem last night, which led me to take steps to increase my self-esteem even more this morning......and for some reason I know feel happier than I did just 24 hours earlier.  The strangest part of it is that the initial thing that caused me to have this boost of self-esteem is a weave.  Huh?  Let me explain.

Back in June 2012, my sister was casually discussing how she and my nieces were creating bucket lists (things they want to do/accomplish/experience) before they die.  For some strange reason, I became obsessed and decided to start a Bucket List Club with them.  I even wrote a blog about it (  So our mandate was to create a bucket list and meet once a year to decide which bucket list items we would work on for that year. We picked one short-term goal (to be completed and crossed off by the end of that year) and one long-term goal, that we would take defined steps to move closer towards that goal by the end of that year.  To help in achieving these goals and not becoming overwhelmed, we have quarterly meetings and break our goals up into 4 measurable steps throughout the year.

For 2013, my short-term goal was very superficial (Trust me, I do have more serious goals in the horizon, but I wanted to start with something light).  Before I die, I wanted to experience what it was like to have a weave.  I have very thick and full hair and during the time in my life when it was at it's longest, people actually thought I had a weave.....but I never really had a weave before.  I'd like to know what it looks and feels like.  Is it really as addictive as people say?  Is it a good strategy to use to give your natural hair a break and grow without interruption?  I wanted to find out for myself.

Well, last night was the night.  I took a half day off work and went to a salon in Philly (Upper Darby, actually) who did my friend's weave back in December.  My scalp is in pain and it takes some getting used to, but I'm so happy that I did it.  I've accomplished something! .....and I woke up this morning feeling just a little better about myself.......and it caused me to make a move towards my long-term goal.

My long-term goal I am working towards this year is getting my PhD.  Yes, I want to be a Dr. and I eventually want to teach at a college level.  Knowing that The Princeton Review is one of the best test prep strategy courses in the nation, I went on their website and registered for a free practice GMAT test at Rider University (near my house) in September.  I've got to start somewhere, right?

The point is that I felt so good about myself this morning that I HAD to blog about it!  Want some self-esteem?  Start a bucket list club and stick to it....or just create some concrete goals and constantly work towards them.  Earn that self-esteem and you will have well as so many of the other things you want in life.  :-)  *inspired*

The hair I brought:

Me leaving the salon that night:

Right before wrapping my hair and going to bed that night:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wash Lightening!!!!

I am soooo excited!  Today is the start of wash day and I have an extra step to add to my (new) weekly regimen.

I have no problem with my natural hair color (except for those stray grays that keep popping up), but I have always viewed it as kind of bland. It's just dark brown....sometimes it looks medium brown in the summer sun, but most often looks off-black when worn straight and when products are added to my hair (which is almost all the time). 

I've always admired the naturally medium brown color of my sister's hair, which has red and sometimes golden undertones that reveal themselves in the sun. (See pic below....I'm the short one with the almost black hair and despite the dark background, her brown is shining through)

My initial plan when I first started my hair journey was to get highlights 2+ weeks after my last TexLax and couple it with a golden brown rinse several weeks after. However, my hair has not reacted well to my transition to lightly texturized hair and has been too weak for me to consider adding an additional chemical to my hair. 

Luckily, I just happened to come across KSIsooooFLY's blog on naturally lightening your hair. So, taking her advice and coupling it with some other information I found on the Internet, I brought some supplies and added a hair lightening prepoo to my weekly washing/co-washing regimen. Hopefully, my hair will gradually lighten without all the damage caused by permanent hair dyes. 

During my lunch break I brought a spray bottle and I took two chamomile tea bags from the kitchen at my job before leaving for the weekend and this my hair regimen is ready to begin

  1. Boil water
  2. Put chamomile tea bag in one cup of boiling water.  Allow to sit 1 hour.
  3. Squeeze the juice from one lemon in the tea
  4. Mix 1/4 cup of honey into the tea
  5. Mix 1/4 cup of conditioner into the tea
  6. Pour mixture into spray bottle
  7. Saturate hair with mixture
  8. Apply additional honey directly to hair
  9. Spray one additional layer of mixture onto hair.
  10. Cover hair with a shower/conditioning cap for 30 minutes
  1. Co-wash or wash hair
  2. Apply deep conditioner
  3. Cover hair with shower/conditioning cap and deep condition hair overnight
  4. Rinse conditioner in the morning
  5. Apply rinse-out conditioner, while in the shower and detangle while in the shower.
  6. Pat dry with towel, then t-shirt dry for 15 minutes
  7. Apply leave-in conditioner
  8. Air dry hair using the scarf method or do a braid/twist-out style.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

First Hot Day of the Year (aka Shiny Face Fix)

I know what I'll be pulling out of my POPSUGAR Must Haves box from April 2013.  I have an extreme sheen problem and these blotting papers will be the perfect fix for my shiny face, during these hot and sweaty Spring & Summer months.

One of our first POPSUGAR Must Have boxes contained our favorite blotting papers from Tatcha, and now we're sharing the evening edition. Party season is starting to heat up, so these clutch-size papers are ideal to throw into your bag for a night out. They won't mess up your makeup or take away your skin's natural moisture. Keep yourself looking picture perfect all night long.

Friday, May 17, 2013

POPSUGAR Must Have Subscription Box – May 2013 reveal

So, my May 2013 PopSugar subscription box arrived in the mail on Tuesday.  I went to open it and my husband informed me that scissors were not needed.  Apparently, "someone" had already opened it.  *side eye*

Anyway, the following items came in the box:

The first item in the box was a little PopSugar tote.  I could care less if this was in there or not, but will find some use for it.  I never can have enough bags. I'll probably use it for toting my lunch (or heels) to work each morning. 

The next item was the Giselle Mid Brim hat by Kooringal ($27.99).  This is something I would've never thought to buy myself, but it is actually quite nice (and cool). I think I can wear it when I brake out the black, Dolce & Gabanna one-piece this summer. :-)

Next up was the Modern Margarita set by The Modern Cocktail ($7.99).  I'm not a huge drinker, but this is cool and we will bring these out for the next social (house) event we throw or attend.....assuming it's not church related. 😬 Basically, all you need is the crushed ice and alcohol. Everything else is included in these little bottles. I guess you can also go non-alcoholic and just add the crushed ice. 

I then opened the Pacifica Color Quench Lip Tint in Guava Berry ($7.00).  I guess lip balm/gloss is something you can never have too much of. I'm a lip treatment fiend, so this is alright with me. 

The next item was a Beauty Blender and some Blender Cleanser!!! ($23.95).  I don't really know how to use a beauty blender and I don't really wear that much makeup, but I'll figure it out. This morning, I used it to apply my Garnier Fructis BB Cream. Is that wrong?  😕

I also received a bag of Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips from Way Better Snacks ($1.17).  I enjoy a good snack, but I gave these away to my husband. I'm more of a cookies and candy-type person and he loves chips.....especially unique ones. By the way, these were gluten-free. They gave us a gluten-free item (candy bar) in our box last month too. Do I sense a trend?

Next up were these conversation cards made by Mindy Kaling - Questions I Ask When I Want to Talk About Myself ($13.45). I could've done without these, but I'll find some use for them at one of our future get togethers. Basically, a topic is on the front of the card. Mindy tells a witty story about her experience on the topic and discussion questions on that topic are asked on the back card.  It could be about your crush, what you consider fat, awkward dates, etc. etc.

The last item was a $30 gift card to Charm & Chain.  I was excited to see that a) it was a legit gift card with no minimum purchase requirement, and b) there were items for less than $30, so you could use this and only pay shipping if you wanted to.  I haven't used it yet, but will. I'll update everyone, once I decide what to get. 
Value: This box was worth $111.55.  PopSugar promises that the boxes will be worth $100, so they are right on track assuming that you are willing to spend more money to get the jewelry. 

By the way, I was a little lazy this month and am posting other people's pics off the web instead of my own. Next time, I'll be taking my own pics of me using/holding the product and/or maybe I'll do a Vlog of me opening the box and trying things out. Who knows!

Can't wait until I get my very first CurlKit box in June. :-)

Two months ago, I received a pair of bright orange Hanky Panky thongs in my Must Have box.  If anyone knows me, they know that the one thing I dislike are tiny panties.  Ever since High School, my sister and best friend would tease me because of my preference for 'granny panties.'  When low cut jeans became the dominant style, I switched to full-coverage bikinis and boy cuts.  I hate cheekys and I hate thongs.  I do tolerate g-strings on occasion, but it's very rare....probably no more than 5 times a year.  I hate things sticking up my butt and I hate panties that are made to easily cause wedgies.....and I'm not a fan of panties that make my butt look even bigger than it already is. can imagine my disappointment when I received these expensive thongs in my POPSUGAR Must Have box.  It was my intention to give them away to my sister or my niece, but I happened to pack two outfits with a touch of bright orange in them to Jamaica.  Being that I like wearing panties that match my clothes, I decided to deal. 

Well.....those Hanky Panky thongs were the most comfortable panties ever.  Even more comfortable than some of my full coverage undies.  I was shocked.  Another thing that I'm not a fan of is lace touching my skin.  It makes me itch.....but soft.  So, go out there and get you some Hanky Pankys.  I think I got a coupon in my box to go along with the panties, so if it hasn't expired, I'll be doing the same.  Otherwise......I'll be waiting to get some more as a gift (hint, hint).
Another thing.....They look pretty too!  Something about the shape of them are very complimenting.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to Texlax Your Hair: Simple Texlaxing Techniques and Tips

Here is another article I found on Yahoo Voices.....for those who want more detail on how you would go about texlaxing your hair.  I used techniques #3, 4 & 5 during my first texlax.  However, I think I will use #1 & 2 the next time I relax.  I didn't realize that the sensitive scalp formulas were a little weaker or took longer to, if they don't have mild, I'll get the sensitive scalp version.  I felt that too much of my hair reverted with my last texlax, so I will get it processed a little more this time, by allowing them to do atleast a little smoothing.
How to Texlax Your Hair: Simple Texlaxing Techniques and Tips
  • Published: Mon January 4th, 2010
  • By: Audrey Davis-Sivasothy
  • Category: Beauty
Properly "texlaxing," or gently underprocessing, your hair is an art. But done correctly, texlaxing can be extremely beneficial to your hair. This article will describe techniques for "texlaxing" your hair to perfection every single time.

What is Texlaxing?

"Texlaxed" hair is a term that was coined in the Internet hair world to describe a hair texture that falls between texturized curls and chemically relaxed, straight hair. "Texlaxing" is the intentional underprocessing of hair with a relaxer chemical, and is typically done to create volume, body, and texture in relaxed hair.

Popular Texlaxing Methods

There are many methods for texlaxing the hair, and most center around reducing initial disulfide bond breakage in the hair fiber. Disulfide bonds are the bonds that cause our hair to have a naturally curly, or kinky texture. Breaking these bonds prepares them for straightening in the smoothing stage of the relaxer. An alternative texlaxing method involves simply skipping the official disulfide bond straightening process. Texlaxing methods can be used alone or in combination to achieve various degrees of textured, relaxed hair results.

1.) Downgrading your relaxer

Reducing disulfide bond breakage by downgrading the strength of your relaxer is the easiest method for texlaxing the hair. Reducing your relaxer strength from a super or regular formula to a mild or sensitive scalp formula (or even going from lye to no-lye) will increase the amount of time required for full processing. This will give you more time to quickly apply your relaxer, and then rinse before enough bond breakage has occurred to really straighten the hair.

2.) Diluting your relaxer

Similar to downgrading the actual relaxer formula strength, adding oils or conditioner to your relaxer formula also decreases the strength of the relaxer and increases the processing window. This texlaxing dilution method also works by reducing the viscosity (thickness) of the relaxer crème. The relaxer crème's thick, pasty consistency helps the hair remain fairly straight after the disulfide bonds have been broken during chemical application. Oils and conditioners reduce this straightening power by making the crème less thick so that the curls are not weighed down and flattened as easily by the relaxer. If you decide to add oil to your relaxer, add a little at a time and check the consistency of your formula. Do not make the formula too runny or soupy; some thickness is desired! I find that around 1/4 cup of oil works well with a small, single use relaxer tub. Also avoid using essential oils (like peppermint and rosemary) in the relaxer-- you don't want anything tingling or stimulating your scalp while the relaxer is there nearby.

Another variation of relaxer dilution can be done with no-lye relaxer formulas where a separate activator must be added to the relaxer crème. Adding only 3/4 or 1/2 of the activator to the formula automatically reduces the relaxer's strength. Remember, no-lye relaxers are inert (not active) and cannot work on the hair until they are mixed. Portions of the relaxer that are not mixed with activator will not process you.

3.) Putting up a Barrier

Applying a thick cream or oil barrier to the hair prior to relaxing will protect it from damage and slow down the action of the relaxer. By slowing the relaxer down with a heavy, protective base, you can still relax your hair for the normal suggested time period for your hair type without fully straightening the hair. Reducing relaxer contact with the hair reduces overall bond breakage and helps the hair maintain a little extra texture. Basing the scalp should be done anyway with a relaxer, but applying a little extra to the scalp AND new growth will give you extra protection and time to process.

4.) Decreasing Relaxer Contact

One of the easiest methods for texlaxing the hair is simply decreasing the relaxer's contact with your hair. Simple reduce your processing time! This method works when all other texlaxing methods fail. In fact, this method is perhaps the number one cause of unintentional texlaxing and underprocessing. It is how I stumbled upon the idea of leaving texture behind in my own hair! Processing the hair for a time less than the recommended time will always texlax your hair.

5.) Skipping Disulfide Bond Straightening

Contrary to popular belief, hair straightening does not begin and end with the application of the relaxer. The relaxer chemical simply breaks your hair's disulfide bonds; the smoothing step is where your hair and its bonds are straightened into their new, permanent position. So a texlaxing method that takes advantage of this concept would simply involve you applying the chemical relaxer, and allowing it to process without physically manipulating (smoothing) the hair into place. Skipping the smoothing step of the relaxer application prevents the disulfide bonds from fully straightening into a new, permanently straight bond orientation.

My Personal Texlaxing Method

My personal texlaxing method is a combination of methods 1, 2, and 3. I use a basic sensitive scalp relaxer (Mizani) that is diluted with 1/4 of a cup of oil (olive or almond oil). I also heavily base my scalp, as well as the entire length of my hair-- from root to tip. I process my relaxer for the normal amount of time for my hair type which is usually 10-12 minutes or so. Since I know I am working with a thick vaseline buffer and diluted relaxer, I do not fret if I accidentally go over my time. I also smooth my hair to what appears to be 100% straightness as a final step.

Final Notes:

An entire head of texlaxed hair takes years to grow in. You will notice the difference between your bone straight hair and texlaxed hair on wash day-- because your texlaxed hair will appear fuller against your thin, bone straight ends. Texlaxed texture is best seen on air-dried hair. If you ever grow tired of the texlaxed results, in mostcases* a corrective relaxer can set you straight. * I've heard of many cases where those who used no-lye relaxers had a harder time correcting the underprocessing than sisters who used lye relaxers. That is something to keep in mind.

Finally, remember-- texlaxed results may not be apparent immediately after your relaxer. Many times, several washings and conditionings are required to reveal your level of texture. An explanation of why this occurs can be found in this article: The Beginner's Guide to Texlaxing.

Hair Update and The Beginner's Guide to Texlaxing

Hair Update and The Beginner's Guide to Texlaxing
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For those of you who have been following my hair journey, you already know that I had been without a relaxer for almost 6-months due to pregnancy and then decided that I liked my natural texture, but not enough to continue to go completely natural.  Because I have basically been getting relaxers since I was 9 years old and always got retouches every 6-8 weeks, I only noticed the untameable attributes of my hair.  Having 6 months of new growth let me see that my natural hair was a bit unruly, but also very curly and kind of pretty.  While researching how to treat my transitioning hair during my 6-month journey, I learned of a term called "texlaxing."

Once I was free to go back to getting relaxers, I decided, instead, to texlax my hair.  I considered this my happy medium.  I am posting a beginners guide to texlaxing that I found online at Yahoo Voices.
Before reading the below article, I think it makes sense to give you an update on my hair, which will explain why I am looking for further explanations on texlaxing in the first place. 
So, I went to the salon in early April with loads of product on my hair.  I found an old hair protectant gel under my sink in the bathroom that came with a relaxer kit I brought a long time ago.  It was supposed to protect previously relaxed hair from being re-processed, while you were relaxing your ends.  After basing my scalp with hair grease, I applied this protectant on my previously relaxed hair and my 5-6 months of new growth.  When I went to the salon, I asked for a mild relaxer.  Since they didn't have this available (I was getting a Mizani relaxer), I explained to the hairdresser that I did not want bone straight hair and would like her to put the relaxer in and wash it out shortly after.
The results, as far as I was concerned, were perfect.  My hair had a slight wave when the relaxer was washed out, but it easily straightened with the roller set and root blow out that I got.  We went to Jamaica the following week and I noticed that when my hair got wet for the first time (at Dunns River Falls), it curled up and stuck up all over my head.  I thought it was a very pretty curl pattern (which excited me), but didn't want to look like a scarecrow, so I slicked it down with some more water and put placed a headband on top.  When we returned from Jamaica and I washed my hair for the first time, my roots were even more curly and the middle of the back of my hair was basically reverted to it's natural state. :-/  On top of that, I would have short strands of hair all over the bathroom floor whenever I combed my hair.....even when I used my fingers or a shower/wide-toothed comb.  I mention short strands because I want to make a distinction between natural hair shedding and breakage.  My hair is not extremely long, but close to armpit length.  There is a big difference, in length, of the hairs that would be on the floor if my hair was shedding vs. if it was breaking.  One week I did a protein deep conditioning treatment to strengthen my hair and the next week I did a deep moisturizing conditioning treatment to combat any breakage from dryness.  Still my hair continues to break. 
Anyway, one of my BFFs transitioned to natural hair many years ago and she suggested that since I was not willing to do the Big Chop (where I cut off all my relaxed ends and start fresh) that maybe I should start wearing my hair straight until I get this breakage under control.  She suggested that the difference in textures is likely causing my hair to break.  While I think she's right and I'm probably going to have to get my hair done for a little while (or get braids or a weave), I also decided to do some research on Texlaxing and try to learn more about the process and what happens when you transition into texlaxed hair.
  • The Beginner's Guide to Texlaxing
  • Published: Tue November 24th, 2009
  • By: Audrey Davis-Sivasothy
  • Category: Beauty
Do you want more body, texture, and volume with your relaxed hair look? Are you tired of dry, flat, lifeless relaxed hair that continues to break? Consider "texlaxing" your hair!
What is Texlaxing?
"Texlaxing" is a term that was coined on internet hair care forums to describe a relaxer service that is intentionally allowed to underprocess in order to create volume and texture in the hair strands. The word "texlax" is a cross between two very real chemical services: texturizing and chemically relaxing. Texlaxing simply represents a point of middle ground between the two chemical services.
What's the Difference: Texturizing, Relaxing, Texlaxing?
Texturizer: A texturizer is a chemical process that is formulated to loosen the natural curls and kinks of textured hair types. Texturizers are typically done by individuals who wish to wear their hair curly a majority of the time, but prefer a looser, defined curly look.
Relaxer: A relaxer completely straightens the kinks and curls in textured hair. It's typically worn by those who wish to wear straighter hair styles on a regular basis.
Texlaxed Hair: Texlaxed hair straddles the fence between the two services and offers the best of both worlds. It is, essentially, an underprocessed relaxer. Depending on the degree of relaxer underprocessing one chooses, texlaxed hair can allow much of the original texture and curl to remain in the hair while still allowing it to straighten easily to near stick straightness. Though this textured looking result is achieved with a straightening relaxer, the underprocessed hair often looks similar to texturized hair-- hence the term "texlaxed."
It is often very difficult to differentiate between texlaxed and relaxed hair if the hair is heat styled, and depending on the level of underprocessing--texlaxed hair and texturized hair when airdried. Texlaxed hair shows its texture best when the hair is airdried and unmanipulated after a wash.
Why Should you Texlax Your Hair?
Texlaxing Improves Thickness and Elasticity:
Texlaxing your hair can be extremely beneficial. For one, by allowing a bit of natural texture to remain in the hair, texlaxing is able to drastically improve the thickness of the hair. No more limp, lifeless bone-straight hair. Texlaxing also helps the hair retain its elasticity so that it can resist breakage. Overall, and barring any additional strain or processing, texlaxed hair is a healthier head of hair!
Texlaxing Reduces Bond Breakage:
Texlaxing reduces the number of broken protein and disulfide bonds in the hair. These intact disulfide and protein linkages are directly responsible for the hair's natural strength because less bond breakage means stronger hair.
Texlaxed Hair Tolerates Color Better:
Texlaxed hair is also better conditioned to tolerate hair color than fully relaxed hair. Permanent hair coloring and relaxing can greatly damage the cuticle and inner layers of the hair, but since texlaxed hair is "partially or slightly" relaxed hair, there is less overall assault on the hair fiber. Simply put, hair fairs better when it is colored as texlaxed hair versus fully relaxed hair.
Texlaxing is a Safety Net:
Texlaxing the hair provides a buffer against overprocessing a relaxer. Even if you slip up and allow your relaxer to process a bit longer than it should, you've got extra, intact hair bonds on your side!
After relaxing your hair, your texlaxed hair results may not be apparent at first. Some hair properties, like texture, take a few washes to bring out because of the various levels of deep bond breakage that take place during a relaxer. Texlaxed hair may appear almost bone straight and even limp and flat immediately after a relaxer, but replacing your lost/broken hydrogen bonds through washing and deep conditioning will return some of the original thickness and texture.
I hear it (and have said it myself!) so many times, "My hair is better 2-3 days after the relaxer... after I wash it." (This hair phenomenon of delayed texture appearance is exactly where the saying "washing out a relaxer" comes from! Hair appears straight, but after a few washes the hair appears to revert or thicken.) Remember-- You cannot wash out a relaxer-any disulfide bonds broken by your relaxer are broken forever. But hydrogen bonds in the hair, however, can be reformed. These are the bonds we rely on for our "sets" and are affected by wetting and drying the hair. Texlaxing the hair disturbs fewer hair bonds all around.
Texlaxing is not for everyone. Before texlaxing your hair, decide on the level of texture you wish to maintain. Allowing too much texture to remain when you are used to dealing with much straighter hair can cause manageability problems which can lead to breakage. On the other hand, fully processing the relaxer defeats the purpose of texlaxing. A happy medium should be sought.
Some individuals also experience uneven textures, dryness, and shedding when they texlax their hair. Each person is different, and will have a different experience with this procedure. For a vast majority however, including myself, texlaxing is one of the best things they've ever done for their hair.
* In my experience, the two best relaxers to use for texlaxing are Mizani and ORS.  Details on the two types of relaxers I have used can be found in the links below.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Subscription Boxes

I am still on this crazy hair journey (I fear that I may have some setbacks fairly soon), but my new obsession is subscription boxes. I want them all!

I have been subscribing to POPSUGAR 's MUST HAVE monthly subscription boxes since December 2012 and have recently subscribed to CURLKIT. 

I have even decided to create a personalized box for my husband each month. :-)

Going forward, I will be revealing what I have received in my subscription boxes each month. The items I want, I will keep and the items I don't want, I will gift, trade, auction or sell off. I have a few items from months past that I still need to get rid of, which I plan to post on eBay at some point soon. 

Descriptions of each subscription box is listed below:

Monthly - $35
  • Hand-selected items in beauty, fashion, home, fitness, and food
  • Full-size products and premium items

Monthly - $20
Each month, CurlKit sends out a selection of 6-9 samples that their team of online experts, researches and even tries themselves. In each CurlKit you'll receive everything from pomades and conditioners to natural hair tools, from well-known brands as well as emerging gems.

I have many more boxes that I want to subscribe to, but I've decided to limit myself to two for now. Maybe I'll increase the amount in the future or replace one with another. My ultimate preference is to have a subscription box crew who all subscribes to different boxes. This way, we can all make our reveal each month and trade items that may be useful for some, but not useful for others. So basically, we could have a subscription box item swap each month. 

EVENTS: Africans In India Exhibit at The Shomburg Center in Harlem

Africans In India: From Slaves to Generals and Rulers

Now through Thursday, July 18, 2013

Program Locations:

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Latimer/Edison Gallery (Map and directions)
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10:00 AM -
6:00 PM
10:00 AM -
6:00 PM
10:00 AM -
6:00 PM
10:00 AM -
6:00 PM
10:00 AM -
6:00 PM
10:00 AM -
6:00 PM
Partially accessible to wheelchairs


Over the centuries, East Africans have greatly distinguished themselves in India as generals, commanders, admirals, architects, prime ministers, and rulers. They have written a story unparalleled in the rest of the world: that of enslaved Africans attaining the pinnacle of military and political authority.

Known as Habshis (Abyssinians) and Sidis, they have left an impressive historical and architectural legacy that attest to their determination, skills, and intellectual, cultural, military and political savvy.

This exhibition, the first of its kind, retraces—in over 100 photographic reproductions of paintings and contemporary photographs—the lives and achievements of a few of the many talented and prominent Sidis of yesterday.

Curated by Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf and Dr. Kenneth X. Robbins.

For more information on Africans in India, visit the online exhibition The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World.

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Hair Journey - 2013

I have a new obsession.  My hair.
While I was pregnant, I stopped getting relaxers.  I expected to go completely crazy trying to get my hair under control.  However, I came to a whole new discovery.  My discovery was that I have really nice natural hair.  Not the 'white' or 'slave mentality' definition of nice hair, but what I consider nice. Thick and healthy and tightly really curly hair.
Anyway, during this time, I started researching ways to control and take care of my natural hair.....thus my obsession began.  Apparently, there is a whole community of African-American hair aficionados out there that have mastered natural, relaxed and texlaxed hair care.  They often do a big hair chop and then go on what they call a 'hair journey.'  Two years later, they have hair down there backs and in some cases it's down to their waist....and it's thick and healthy.
So, knowing that I have these preconceived 'age laws' that I have about hair that includes not wearing long hair past the age of 40 and not allowing your gray to show until you turn 50, I have decided that I only have a few years left to go on a hair growth journey.  Of course, I will always want healthy hair at any age, but once I'm 40, I really don't think it will be appropriate for me to have hair past my shoulders.  So......I really need to get a move on it.
First, I have decided to stop getting bone straight relaxers and begin under processing my hair into a texlax stage.  This will, over time, allow me to wear my hair straight when I want and also be able to wear it curly when the mood hits me.  It will also allow my hair to be healthier, thicker and stronger, as well as making it easier for my hair to take color.  Since little grays are sprouting up in various places in my hair, color will be very important for the next decade and a half.  I am also going to stretch my relaxers to no more than 4 times per basically, I will only be getting a relaxer once a quarter.  I used to get relaxers every 6-8 weeks.  I leave for Jamaica next Wednesday, so will be getting a texlax (or mild relaxer) tomorrow.  My hair's in pretty good condition, so I don't think I need to do a big chop, but if a trim is needed, I will get it.
Thus, tomorrow begins my hair journey.  :-D
My hair regimen will be as follows for the remainder of 2013.  I will evaluate and modify it at the end of the year, if necessary.
- moisturize and seal nightly
- wear protective and/or low manipulation styles on hair
- wear a silk or satin scarf/bonnet on hair or sleep on a silk or satin pillow case
- oil and massage scalp
- pre-poo hair
- Wash hair with a moisturizing shampoo
- Deep condition hair with a moisturizing conditioner
- apply leave-in conditioner
- air-dry hair (using scarf method or natural styles) or roller-set hair (using heat protectant and only blowing the roots)
- direct heat will only be used on my hair once a month and/or on special occasions/events
- protein treatment 2 weeks before texlax
- light or mild relaxer (texlax)
- clip damaged ends and dust ends, where needed
- protein treatment 2 weeks after texlax
- Get ends trimmed
- reevaluate hair regimen
* A texlax can be performed in a variety of ways.
  - quickly put a normal relaxer in hair and rinse out within half the time recommended
  - add natural oils into your relaxer to slow down the relaxing process
  - add protective oils/gel directly to your new growth and remaining hair to slow down relaxing process
  - use a mild relaxer (assuming you have coarse hair)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why You're Not Married

I'm not saying it.  She is!
There was a new show that came on after The Voice on Tuesday night, called "Ready for Love."  Ready for Love  is a new reality show, where 3 guys are in search for love with the help of 3 matchmakers.  I really wasn't interested in the show, but since nothing else was on at the time, my husband and I watched.  On this night, Tim, the lead singer of the Plain White T's rock group was the focus.  Of the many females that was vying for Tim's attention, one of the girls was a 'friend' from his past that has secretly loved him and decided to audition for the show when she found out that he would be the main prospect.  While she was able to get through the initial filtering process, she was gone by the end of the night.  He eliminated her.  Although she didn't completely admit this, it was obvious that they were a little more than friends....they were more like friends with benefits.  However, Tim was clearly interested in more at this stage in his life and this 'friend' of his was clearly not what he was looking for.
Leah (the 'friend') was definitely one of the more attractive girls on the show, had a career and seemed to be well spoken.  The fact that they have been friends for many years tells me that she had a pretty decent personality.  However, Tim was not interested.  Why?  What makes a girl marriage material for a guy?  Sure, lots of girls feel that they are marriage material, but many of these same women can't get a man/husband to save their lives. 
Well, according to one of the matchmakers on the show, Tracy McMillan, there are definitely reasons why these women are not married.....and it's not the fault of the man.  The below article was written by Tracy McMillan and entitled, "Why You're Not Married."  She has also written a book of a similar title called, "Why You're Not Married....Yet: The straight talk you need to get the relationship you deserve." 
While I am clearly married, I still have interest in reading this book.  My focus will be on making sure that I strengthen those weaker characteristics that I may have, so that my husband doesn't feel regret for marrying me.  I'm constantly trying to improve in all aspects of my life and they always say that how you get them is how you keep them, so...... I take all things into consideration, including to maintain the characteristics that made/makes me the material that a guy (the right guy) has no choice but to put a ring on it.
Unrelated SideNote Alert: I was watching "The Talk" the other day and one of the hosts, Aisha Tyler mentioned the mantra she believes about her husband/marriage, which I decided was my manta, as well.  All females before me were a mistake and any after me are a downgrade.  Hahaha!  This is so true.....I really feel this way. 

Why You're Not Married

You want to get married. It's taken a while to admit it. Saying it out loud -- even in your mind -- feels kind of desperate, kind of unfeminist, kind of definitely not you, or at least not any you that you recognize. Because you're hardly like those girls on TLC saying yes to the dress and you would never compete for a man like those poor actress-wannabes on The Bachelor.

You've never dreamt of an aqua-blue ring box.

Then, something happened. Another birthday, maybe. A breakup. Your brother's wedding. His wife-elect asked you to be a bridesmaid, and suddenly there you were, wondering how in hell you came to be 36-years-old, walking down the aisle wearing something halfway decent from J. Crew that you could totally repurpose with a cute pair of boots and a jean jacket. You started to hate the bride -- she was so effing happy -- and for the first time ever you began to have feelings about the fact that you're not married. You never really cared that much before. But suddenly (it was so sudden) you found yourself wondering... Deep, deep breath... Why you're not married.

Well, I know why.

How? It basically comes down to this: I've been married three times. Yes, three. To a very nice mba at 19; a very nice minister's son at 32 (and pregnant); and at 40, to a very nice liar and cheater who was just like my dad, if my dad had gone to Harvard instead of doing multiple stints in federal prison.

I was, for some reason, born knowing how to get married. Growing up in foster care is a big part of it. The need for security made me look for very specific traits in the men I dated -- traits it turns out lead to marriage a surprisingly high percentage of the time. Without really trying to, I've become a sort of jailhouse lawyer of relationships -- someone who's had to do so much work on her own case that I can now help you with yours.

But I won't lie. The problem is not men, it's you. Sure, there are lame men out there, but they're not really standing in your way. Because the fact is -- if whatever you're doing right now was going to get you married, you'd already have a ring on. So without further ado, let's look at the top six reasons why you're not married.

1. You're a Bitch.
Here's what I mean by bitch. I mean you're angry. You probably don't think you're angry. You think you're super smart, or if you've been to a lot of therapy, that you're setting boundaries. But the truth is you're pissed. At your mom. At the military-industrial complex. At Sarah Palin. And it's scaring men off.

The deal is: most men just want to marry someone who is nice to them. I am the mother of a 13-year-old boy, which is like living with the single-cell protozoa version of a husband. Here's what my son wants out of life: macaroni and cheese, a video game, and Kim Kardashian. Have you ever seen Kim Kardashian angry? I didn't think so. You've seen Kim Kardashian smile, wiggle, and make a sex tape. Female anger terrifies men. I know it seems unfair that you have to work around a man's fear and insecurity in order to get married -- but actually, it's perfect, since working around a man's fear and insecurity is big part of what you'll be doing as a wife.

2. You're Shallow.

When it comes to choosing a husband, only one thing really, truly matters: character. So it stands to reason that a man's character should be at the top of the list of things you are looking for, right? But if you're not married, I already know it isn't. Because if you were looking for a man of character, you would have found one by now. Men of character are, by definition, willing to commit.

Instead, you are looking for someone tall. Or rich. Or someone who knows what an Eames chair is. Unfortunately, this is not the thinking of a wife. This is the thinking of a teenaged girl. And men of character do not want to marry teenaged girls. Because teenage girls are never happy. And they never feel like cooking, either.

3. You're a Slut.

Hooking up with some guy in a hot tub on a rooftop is fine for the ladies of Jersey Shore -- but they're not trying to get married. You are. Which means, unfortunately, that if you're having sex outside committed relationships, you will have to stop. Why? Because past a certain age, casual sex is like recreational heroin -- it doesn't stay recreational for long.

That's due in part to this thing called oxytocin -- a bonding hormone that is released when a woman a) nurses her baby and b) has an orgasm -- that will totally mess up your casual-sex game. It's why you can be f**k-buddying with some dude who isn't even all that great and the next thing you know, you're totally strung out on him. And you have no idea how it happened. Oxytocin, that's how it happened. And since nature can't discriminate between marriage material and Charlie Sheen, you're going to have to start being way more selective than you are right now.

4. You're a Liar.
It usually goes something like this: you meet a guy who is cute and likes you, but he's not really available for a relationship. He has some condition that absolutely precludes his availability, like he's married, or he gets around town on a skateboard. Or maybe he just comes right out and says something cryptic and open to interpretation like, "I'm not really available for a relationship right now."

You know if you tell him the truth -- that you're ready for marriage -- he will stop calling. Usually that day. And you don't want that. So you just tell him how perfect this is because you only want to have sex for fun! You love having fun sex! And you don't want to get in a relationship at all! You swear!

About ten minutes later, the oxytocin kicks in. You start wanting more. But you don't tell him that. That's your secret -- just between you and 22,000 of your closest girlfriends. Instead, you hang around, having sex with him, waiting for him to figure out that he can't live without you. I have news: he will never "figure" this out. He already knows he can live without you just fine. And so do you. Or you wouldn't be lying to him in the first place.

5. You're Selfish.
If you're not married, chances are you think a lot about you. You think about your thighs, your outfits, your naso-labial folds. You think about your career, or if you don't have one, you think about doing yoga teacher training. Sometimes you think about how marrying a wealthy guy -- or at least a guy with a really, really good job -- would solve all your problems.

Howevs, a good wife, even a halfway decent one, does not spend most of her day thinking about herself. She has too much s**t to do, especially after having kids. This is why you see a lot of celebrity women getting husbands after they adopt. The kids put the woman on notice: Bitch, hello! It's not all about you anymore! After a year or two of thinking about someone other than herself, suddenly, Brad Pitt or Harrison Ford comes along and decides to significantly other her. Which is also to say -- if what you really want is a baby, go get you one. Your husband will be along shortly. Motherhood has a way of weeding out the lotharios.

6. You're Not Good Enough.
Oh, I don't think that. You do. I can tell because you're not looking for a partner who is your equal. No, you want someone better than you are: better looking, better family, better job.

Here is what you need to know: You are enough right this minute. Period. Not understanding this is a major obstacle to getting married, since women who don't know their own worth make terrible wives. Why? You can fake it for a while, but ultimately you won't love your spouse any better than you love yourself. Smart men know this.

I see this at my son's artsy, progressive school. Of 183 kids, maybe six have moms who are as cute as you're trying to be. They're attractive, sure. They're just not objects. Their husbands (wisely) chose them for their character, not their cup size.

Alright, so that's the bad news. The good news is that I believe every woman who wants to can find a great partner. You're just going to need to get rid of the idea that marriage will make you happy. It won't. Once the initial high wears off, you'll just be you, except with twice as much laundry.

Because ultimately, marriage is not about getting something -- it's about giving it. Strangely, men understand this more than we do. Probably because for them marriage involves sacrificing their most treasured possession -- a free-agent penis -- and for us, it's the culmination of a princess fantasy so universal, it built Disneyland.

The bottom line is that marriage is just a long-term opportunity to practice loving someone even when they don't deserve it. Because most of the time, your messy, farting, macaroni-and-cheese eating man will not be doing what you want him to. But as you give him love anyway -- because you have made up your mind to transform yourself into a person who is practicing being kind, deep, virtuous, truthful, giving, and most of all, accepting of your own dear self -- you will find that you will experience the very thing you wanted all along: