Eyes On The Horizon

Spring is traditionally seen as a time of thawing, when the things we’ve buried in the snows of winter are released in the renewed warmth of the sun. Our bones creak out as we shake off the cobwebs of hibernation. We move easier, dream larger, and strive to complete the tasks that appeared insurmountable in the short daylight of the colder months. It is the dawn of our time.

I started this space one year ago, with a post about what self-care means to me, because there was a beating in my heart that I couldn’t ignore. It was the pull to create. The desire to make a space that felt good, and useful, and safe for anyone who stumbled upon it. So, I started doing the only thing that made sense – I wrote. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made.

And Then I Lived has pushed me to meet new people, discover new ways to take care of myself, and create the world I want to occupy. It has only been one year, but in that time I’ve thawed out a piece of myself that had been in hibernation for long enough. My space has a humble following, but if you are part of it in any way I want to thank you for coming along on this journey. I hope you’ll stick around for what comes next!

Today, in honor of Spring, I want to share some beautiful images which capture the essence of freedom I feel in the sunlight and when I’m writing. These monthly mood boards have been excellent tools for directing my goals and intentions. Organizing my thoughts has always been a struggle, but through this exercise I’m able to hone in on what I want to convey for the month. As I go forward with my space, I want this month to be focused on brightness, self-discovery, and fearlessness in any endeavor. I hope you find some inspiration among the images.

Onward, ho!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jonathan lipkin captures the ocean's fleeting nature in composite photo series

Sleep inside my Soul ღk

 

 

 

 

 

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What does Spring mean to you?

Self-love and Building Bonds Through Hair in The Black Community

I have yet to meet a black person – woman or man – who doesn’t have strong feelings about getting their hair done. If you mention a barber, you might see one of us shudder, or you might get a bright smile if you ask who did such and such’s braids. Hair is an event in my community, sacred for it’s ability to elevate or destroy, an elixir for the worst of downs and best of ups,  while bringing strangers together for a few hours.

Personally, most of my favorite memories involve acting “grown” in the salon with my mother and the stylist, while Judge Judy or Oprah played in the background. Despite being knee high to a pig’s eye, I felt like an equal in those hours spent getting pulled, burned, and reshaped. I watched my mother become someone she didn’t get to be at work or at home, and got to exercise being someone I wasn’t comfortable expressing in my all-White-but-me classrooms. Sisterhood, I learned back then, was something to be fostered. Those bonds were a powerful weapon in the world.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also learned a great deal about the power of appearances; a simple tweak of your locks could signal a slew of life changes. Hell, they could even lead to life changes if you looked good enough. Most importantly, I learned how to take care of myself in a way that is unique to my culture and rooted in history. To this day, my favorite way to show affection to others and myself is through hair.

The web of my life is punctuated by different hairstyles: an unfortunate jherri curl in elementary school, then braids that seemed to get shorter and more manicured as I navigated puberty, a relaxer when I was trying desperately to look like a grown up, then locs when I decided to be different in a way that was true to me. When I look at pictures, I can identify the period, the feeling, and the desires lurking below the surface by the way my hair was styled. It’s magic in a form the world can scarce reckon with.

Learning the history of Black hair is a great way to learn about ourselves, and for others to learn why we take it so seriously. For some it’s just hair, but for us it has meant rebellion, freedom, and home. Below are two of my favorite explorations of what Black hair means to us and why it seems to be the way we come together in pursuit of peace. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

 

A Nightly Winter Skincare Routine (That Has Saved My Face)

I used to find my face so inconvenient. It scars easily, it’s too dark to some, I get pimples in crazy places, and hair removal makes it explode into an atlas of bumps. There was nothing great to me about my own personal flesh suit, so for years I just avoided it all together. You might be wondering, How can you ignore your face? Well, for me that meant never taking the time to nurture it. Beyond slathering on lotion I mostly worked around acknowledging how my body was doing, especially on the surface.

In 2017 I decided to recommit earnestly to my own mental health, self-care, and wellness through therapy first, but then it began to bleed into other aspects of my life. Now, I’m in a place where I don’t see my face and skin as an inconvenience, but a monument to who I come from. It’s all mine and mine alone, which makes it more precious than gold. I began to experiment with all manner of skincare essentials from oil cleansing (good in moderation for me) to a knock-off Clarisonic exfoliator (too harsh on my skin). Along the way I’ve picked up some really good habits and products that have helped me to see the fun in loving my face.

facial massage GIF
Refinery29

Today I want to share what products I’m using this winter to aid in keeping me looking fresh. I live in California where it isn’t nearly as cold as other parts of the country, but I’m still battling the dryness that accompanies a drop in temperature. As someone with naturally dry and sensitive skin, these products are helping to keep me from fully transforming into a mummy. I currently do this routine at night only, and so far it has helped to keep me hydrated a full 24 hours. The best part? Each product is under $50, and some under $20.

The details are below!

 

Target

First up is the bliss  in the honey mask. After a good cleansing with my generic face wash I will apply a quarter-sized amount of this yummy smelling goo all over my face and onto my neck. I let it sit for about 20 minutes, then wash it off with warm water.  This mask is hypoallergenic (great for my sensitive skin parts), phthalate free, paraben free and cruelty free, so I feel much better about myself in addition to getting skin like butter.

Amazon

I don’t think I’m ever going to stop singing the praises of rose water. I’ve written about my obsession before {here} when it comes to using it on my hair, but I’ve since learned that rose water also works great as a toner! After I’ve rinsed off the majority of the honey mask, I spray my face and neck with rose water, let it sit for a few minutes then jump to the next step. It makes me feel like I’ve just rolled in a field of (thornless) flowers.

 

Sephora

The Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb  was part of a splurge I gave myself at Christmas, and I am so glad I did it. I had been in the market for a good eye cream for quite some time, because I am not exactly gentle with my peepers. I rub them, strain them, and have all around neglected the skin under my eyes for too long. I’m predisposed to saggy and dark eyes, yet I wanted to help them look their absolute best. This product has helped me tremendously. After the rose water has settled I will use my pinky finger to apply a small dab of the product under each eye. Then, I gently massage it in, mindful not to get it into my eye, which I did once and instantly regretted! All in all, I love this little bomb of power.

Sephora

Last, but not least, in my nightly routine is the Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb. This product is the truth and the way for my prolonged facial hydration. At first, I was slathering it all over, but now I’ve learned that a little goes a long way. You truly don’t need much to reap the benefits of this moisturizer. After I’ve applied the eye cream and let it sit for a minute or two I will then apply a quarter-sized dollop of moisturizer to my face and neck. I again let it sit for a few minutes before I head to bed.

 

There’s one other secret weapon I only use after a particularly drying day – like after a hike or a flight:

Sephora

The Aqua Bomb Sleeping Mask from Belif is a great alternative when you’ve put your face through the ringer. I use it in lieu of the moisturizer after a particularly rough day. All I do is skip the moisturizer, apply a very thin layer to my face and neck, go to bed, then wash it away in the morning. I have to admit I was worried about my sheets, but it didn’t create any lasting damage. If you keep the layer light the effect will be the same as applying the moisturizer

 

facial harvey beaks GIF by Nickelodeon
Giphy

 

That’s it for today, kids! Enjoy your week and moisturize!

 

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. 

My Super Simple Tips for Saving Dry Hair

Having dreadlocks has been, without a doubt, a wonderful experience. I can wake up and go, I don’t have to do much maintenance beyond a monthly re-twist and weekly washing, and I stand out in a crowd rather than blending in. Most importantly, I feel like me with my hair this way. Yet, for all of the ease, I’m learning that I can’t just leave my hair totally to it’s own devices without suffering some consequences. I have naturally dry hair and skin, so without some TLC my strands are left brittle and fragile. You might be thinking that with dreadlocks that doesn’t matter, but if my hair is weak the locs become weak and can break.  Today I want to share the habits I’ve picked up to keep my locs and scalp strong. The best part? These tips can work for any kind of hair – especially if you struggle with dry hair.

Don’t wash every day

Tea Tree Oil Shampoo Compare to Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo 33.8 oz.
Sally Beauty

Shampoos are naturally drying, but if you keep your washing to a minimum you’ll reap the benefits without destroying your hair.  I really like to use this generic version of the Paul Mitchell tea tree shampoo, because tea tree oil is great for soothing the skin as well as aiding in the fight against dandruff. With this shampoo my scalp and locs stay fresh after one wash per week.

Keep it gunk-free

Bragg® Organic Apple Cider Vinegar - 32 fl oz - image 1 of 1
Target

If I have gone too long without a wash, or find that I’ve used too much shampoo and my scalp looks gross, I’ll turn to apple cider vinegar (ACV) for an extra kick. Apple cider vinegar is a real cure-all for the hair: it balances pH levels, fights dandruff, and pulls buildup clear from your strands. I mix 1/2 cup ACV to 2 cups water and apply it directly to my scalp. I massage it through, then rinse it out. It does a great job of clearing the excess away and leaves my hair looking shiny and strong.

Moisturize those strands

Image result for rose water
Amazon

I may have cut out the over-washing, but I still have to make sure my hair is getting proper hydration without being dunked in a bucket. My alternative? Rose water! It’s pretty hot right now, and for good reason – rose water is soothing, balancing and great for adding shine. I’ve even taken to spritzing my face with it first thing in the morning to tone. It’s currently my favorite body product.

Oil is your friend!

Image result for jojoba oil
Amazon

This one is a big one, so don’t skip it! When you suffer from dry scalp it’s really important to use the right kinds of moisture sealants. You don’t want to cake your head with things that are going to block out moisture and dehydrate your precious skin. I like to use jojoba oil, because it mimics the oil our scalp naturally produces, called sebum. After I spritz my scalp and strands with rose water, I will seal in the moisture with the jojoba oil. I apply a few drops all over my finger tips and massage it along my head and hair. It’s really made a difference in my overall hair health.

Leave it alone and watch it sprout

Admittedly, this is the hardest one for me to abide by. I have terminal hand-in – hair syndrome. I’m always playing with my hair, pulling it up, and twisting it about. Even with my locs it’s so important to just let it be to see results. Instead of retwisting my roots religiously, I now leave it be until it’s been about six weeks. Then, I will do a gentle retwist on my roots with just water and jojoba oil. Thankfully, my hair has thickened out because of this. Constant hairstyling, heat, or tight ponytails and buns will eventually lead to breakage or traction alopecia. So, if you want to watch your hair soar, you’ve got to sit back and trust the process.

What are you using to take care of your locs? Let me know in the comments!

girl hair flip GIF by Shalita Grant
Giphy

 

Redefining Beauty In Order To Heal

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

– Confucius

I’m drawn to pretty things like a shallow moth to a flame. Sunsets, shoes, dresses, Chris Pine –  we’ve all got our weaknesses, and things that sparkle are definitely mine. I often get lost in thought when I come across something that pleases my eye, and forget where I am or what I was supposed to be doing. I’ve offended plenty of people by zoning out over a pair of impressive earrings. My obsession is equal parts nature and nurture, as my parents regularly showered me with dolls in shiny dresses with matching houses and toy cars. In that regard, I am virtually blameless for my shallow nature, right?

I used to have a very narrow mindset about beauty. It was so narrow that I didn’t even fit into it. For things to be beautiful they had to be perfect, stainless, balanced and bright, just like the dolls I loved so much.  A thing had to be wholly good to be worthy of such an esteemed acknowledgement.  I aspired to be like the things I considered perfect, and I was disappointed time and again when I inevitable fell short. Beauty became something intangible for a young woman like me, so I settled for

The thing is, now that I’ve grown emotionally, what I consider beautiful has shifted. When I started down the path towards deliberate, dedicated healing I was finally able to shift ever so slightly toward a new definition of beauty that  made room for more.The shift wasn’t easy by any means. It required a lot of analysis of how culture shapes beauty ideals, confronting my own self-loathing, and TONS of therapy. Most importantly, it required that I take the time to rediscover the great things about myself. It’s been proven to me time and time again that self-love bleeds out into the world if we make it a priority.

These days I’m still drawn to all that glitters, but it doesn’t just have to be gold. As I grow to love myself, I’m learning how beautiful imperfections can be be. Now I know we don’t have to be delicate to be beautiful. We don’t have to be flawless, or look a certain way, or wear certain things. To me, the most beautiful thing in the world is a person embracing their freedom to be.

What makes you feel beautiful these days?

Chippy the Dog GIF