Gallery

My Natural Hair Journey + Curly Hair Routine

Lately, I’ve been asked by several people what products I use on my hair or how I achieve my wash and go. If you know me, then you know I almost always rock my hair in its naturally curly state. I love my curls, but this wasn’t always the case. Growing up, my hair was relaxed and it was always straight. Having straight hair was my standard look and I never really deviated from it. As I got older, I realized that I really didn’t need to relax my hair. I began to learn that my hair could thrive and be a lot healthier without relaxing it. As a result, I abandoned the “creamy crack” after I graduated from high school and have been natural for over 10 years.

The last 10 years or so have definitely been a labor of love in terms of growing to love and appreciate my hair and finding the products and styles that work best for me. While I love my curls now, I did not exclusively start wearing my hair in its curly state until two years ago. Even with being natural, I still mostly wore my hair straight and even experimented with color, both which resulted in limp, lackluster curls whenever I did try to wear my hair in its curly state. In 2016, I decided to cut my hair. I was pregnant with my son and just a few weeks from my due date. As I approached such a big life change, I wanted to do something new. I wanted a hairstyle that would be easy to maintain once my son was born and that would ultimately allow me to focus on getting my hair to a more healthy state.

Before After Pic.pngCutting my hair was one of the best decisions I ever made. My hair feels like it’s in a much healthier state and my confidence to wear my hair in its naturally curly state has increased significantly. I now love the versatility of my hair. I can wear it curly, in different styles, and even straighten it when I feel like it. The best part is that now when my hair is straight I literally crave my curls! For me, that’s such a huge shift from how I thought in the past.

As a curly girl, my go to style is a wash and go, primarily because it’s so easy to maintain, especially as I try to balance everything that comes with family life and work.

Here’s how I achieve my wash and go:

Step 1: Wash & Condition

I typically wash and condition with whatever products I have handy. More recently, I have been using either Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Shampoo and Conditioneror Tresemme Moisture Rich Shampoo and Conditioner. Next, I finger detangle using lots of conditioner. I then deep condition for about 5 minutes using Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque. Finally, I rinse out the masque with cool water.

Step 2: Prime with Leave-In & Oil

Once my hair is washed and condition, it’s time to prime with a leave-in conditioner. I have found I achieve the best results when I apply my leave in to mostly wet hair, focusing specifically on the ends. To seal in moisture, I apply coconut oil, again focusing on the ends. My favorite leave-in condition is Kinky Curly Knot Today. I have also recently tried Carol’s Daughter Almond Milk Leave-In Conditioner. I like that this leave-in comes in spray, making it easy to apply again later in the week, if necessary.

Step 3: Style

To style my hair, I section my hair into four parts. Starting with the back, I apply a styling cream from root to tip, raking and smoothing the product through, making sure I coat each strand. Next, I apply gel to set the curls. I repeat this process through the remaining three sections. My go to styling cream is Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. However, I recently tried Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Twist-Defining Custard. Although this product says it’s for twists, it has been perfect for moisturizing my wash and go. Plus, it smells amazing! Every time I use it, I always have people telling me I smell so good! The only gel I use on my hair is Eco Styler Gel (Olive Oil or Black Castor & Flaxseed Oil). I love this gel because it provides great definition and hold, without the crunch or white flakes often associated with gel.

Step 4: Diffuse

The last step is to diffuse for added volume. Before I diffuse, I apply a heat protectant. I then proceed to diffuse on low, warm heat setting for about 15 minutes or until I achieved the amount of volume I want.

To preserve the style at night, I put my hair in a very loose ponytail at the crown of my head (pineapple) and sleep with a satin bonnet. My wash and go will usually last all week, only getting more voluminous as the week goes on. Throughout the week, my hair will typically only require refreshing with a spritz of water or leave-in.

Curly Hair Routine

Gallery

A Fresh Start

It’s officially Spring! However, here in Indiana it doesn’t quite feel like it yet. It’s is snowing as I write this.

The best part about Spring is that it’s the perfect time of the year for a fresh start. I have to admit, the last two months or so have been challenging in terms of working toward achieving some goals I set for myself at the end of 2016 and the beginning of this year. Last week one reminder notification on my phone opened my eyes to just how little progress I had made.

Working Out

At the end of last year, I set a goal to focus on building a more consistent workout routine. My plan was to workout three times a week. In order to accomplish this goal, I set some smaller goals that I wanted to accomplish along the way. I set a reminder in my phone 90 days out so I would remember to check my progress. Well, that reminder popped up on my phone one morning this week. The 90 days had come and gone and I unfortunately have not made much progress toward this goal. The one smaller goal I was able to accomplish was purchasing my FitBit. I wear it everyday, but it hasn’t made too much of a difference in helping me build a solid routine.

Blogging

At the beginning of the year, I wanted to be more intentional about posting regularly (at least weekly) on this blog. If you keep up with me here you have probably noticed that it has been over a month since I’ve posted anything. #fail. I feel like I started the year off on a good note, but I fell off during the month of February. Maybe I set my goal too high given the amount of time I actually have for writing. Maybe it’s been a matter of poor planning.

Reflection

Recently, I have devoted less and less time to personal reflection. It has been easy to just coast through life without taking time for introspection and recording the lessons I am learning. In my college years, I ended most days journaling, taking time to express my thoughts and things I was learning about myself. I miss those days. I know I need to make more time for personal reflection in order to clear my head and process what is going on in my life.

My work schedule has been one of the biggest barriers that I have struggled to overcome as I think about the lack of progress I have made on my goals. The past two months have been extremely busy and most nights (and some weekends) I have been bringing work home. After spending hours in the office, working from home, caring for my family, and other commitments, I have had little energy to think about or do much of anything else, even when I have a few moments to spare. It has been rough! The ultimately result has been lack of self-care and opportunity to engage in things that I enjoy. Seeing that reminder on my phone this week was the last straw. Something has to change.

Even though work presents a challenge, I refuse to use it as an excuse any longer. It is time that I take charge of my life and be more diligent in planning time to do things that are important to me. Yes, work is important, but taking care of my physical, spiritual, and emotional health is an even greater priority. So while I may have “failed” or “missed the mark,” I am motivated to do better.

I realize that motivation will only take me so far. A recent sermon at church reminded me that I can’t overcome the challenges I have faced or make progress in my own strength. Thankfully, as a believer in Christ I can rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to fill me, empower me, and help me. In my weakness that’s when He shows His strength.

“Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you.”

– John 14:16 (CEV)

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

– 2 Corinthians 12:9

My new plan is to use my time in the morning, before anyone else is up, for working out, writing, or personal reflection. I have mapped out which days I will do each of these things and I will plan my workouts in advance. That way I am waking up with a plan each day. Yes, that requires me to sacrifice a few extra minutes of sleep, but I think the reward will be much greater. My prayer is for a fresh start, continued motivation to move forward, and positive changes in my life in the weeks to come.

In love,

Sierra


Have you missed the mark when it comes to accomplishing your goals? What strategies have you used to bounce back and start fresh?

Gallery

Creating Margin in Your Life

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it means to create margin in my daily life. As 2017 came to a close, I felt like the Lord was telling me to STOP striving. Striving to be like others, striving to change things about myself, striving in the workplace, striving to “fit it all in.” My mind was overloaded with all the “things” I felt like I needed to be doing. I wasn’t giving myself room to breathe, take care of me, and just be. If you’re like me, it’s easy to keep saying “yes” and filling your mind and schedule with more than you can actually handle. I was operating beyond my true capacity. I needed margin.

I’m learning that without margin it’s nearly impossible for me to rest well and  focus on the things that are most important to me. Even more so, as a Christ follower, not having margin makes it difficult to hear from the Lord and be open to the things that He wants to bring into my life.

Today I’m sharing tips that have helped me as I progress towards creating more margin in my life.

Evaluate your schedule and readjust. Take some time to map out your daily schedule or simply look at your calendar. You will get a sense of whether you are doing too much or if you have space to add more. Determine if there are things you can remove or shift to free up more time. For me, making lunches and ironing clothes at night has allowed me to have more margin in the morning before work. If I am diligent in doing these two things, my mornings typically are a lot smoother and I feel less rushed, putting me in a positive mood before starting my work day.

Prioritize. Identify things that are non-negotiable in your schedule. Understanding your priorities will help you determine if you are actually focusing your attention on the things that are most important. For me, non-negotiable items include spending time with the Lord each morning, time at home with my family, church on Sunday, small group during the week, work, and getting at least 7 hours of sleep on weekdays. These things will always be in my schedule. My goal is to fit everything else around them.

Prioritize again. Let’s face it. We can’t do it all. At some point, sacrifices will have to be made in order to have the margin we want in life. Sometimes you have to say no to good things in order to make room for what’s best. Here is where you list all your other “priorities” and then narrow the list down to what is truly manageable. As you continue to go through life, the narrow list can always change, affording you the opportunity to focus on other things that might be important based on the season of life you are in. In my life right now, reading has become really important to me so I carve out a few minutes before bed to give myself time to read.

Disconnect. We live in a world where we are so connected all the time. This often leads us down the path of adding more to our lives in order to “keep up with the Joneses.” For the past three weeks I have been off social media as I have participated in 21 Days of Prayer with my church. I have to admit, it’s been freeing to focus on developing my own life instead of watching everyone else’s. Disconnecting has also allowed me to filter the things entering into my mind and influencing my thoughts. I feel less pressure to be something I am not and I have had the opportunity to connect more with those around me. Going forward, our family has decided to implement social media “blackout” times to make sure we are disconnecting on a regular basis.

I encourage you to try these four things if you’re like me and are seeking more margin in life.


I’d love to hear from you. Do you need to create more margin in your life? What steps can you take today to make sure you are giving yourself the space you need?

Gallery

My 2018 Reading List

For 2017, my goal was to read 6 books. You can read more about that goal here). I was just shy of achieving that goal; I ended the year with 5 books under my belt. To some, this may not seem like a lot, but I’m proud of what I accomplished as most of those books were read in the latter half of the year.

What I Read in 2017

  • 27 Revelations by Harlow Hayes
  • The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
  • She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You by Chrystal Evans Hurst
  • Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge

In my last post, I mentioned one thing I want to focus on for 2018 is self-care, doing more things that nourish my mind, body, soul, and spirit. Reading is definitely a hobby that nourishes my mind, soul, and spirit, depending on the book I currently have in hand.

For 2018, my reading list includes books from my 2017 list that I didn’t read, books to help me grow as a wife, mother, and professional, others to read just for fun, and a few cookbooks to help encourage creativity in the kitchen and more healthy eating.

My 2018 Reading List

Reading List


What’s on your reading list for 2018? Have you read anything on my list?

I’d love to hear from you. Comment below with your thoughts!

 

Gallery

Words for the New Year

Christmas has come and gone. I hope you enjoyed your holiday as much as I did. The biggest highlight of this holiday season was seeing my son experience so much joy and happiness from spending quality time with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

As 2017 comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want my focus to be for next year. As I think about what I learned about myself in 2017, I have settled on two words that will be important for me to focus on in 2018. Home and Self-care.

Home.

We’ve been in our house now for almost 3 years. However, I don’t feel like I have really embraced this house as home. When we first moved in, I was busy finishing graduate school. I got pregnant soon after and then we had our son. In the midst of all those big life changes we slowly started making the house our own. Throughout this year, I have found myself thinking about what our next house could be like. What features I want in the house and neighborhood, how I would decorate, what I would do differently in the home buying process, and on and on. If I’m honest, a lot of these thoughts have been motivated by comparison to what others have. Beyond that, the housing market in our area makes the thought of the next home even more enticing. In the last few years, the area we live in has grown tremendously and our home value has increased. We could probably sell our house quickly, but it would be hard for us to find another house that we could afford in the area. The reality is, we will likely be in the house for many years to come.

I realize now that the thought of the newer, nicer house has limited my appreciation for the house I currently have. In focusing on unrealistic ideas of the next, I have lost my focus on making my current house home. So, in 2018 I want to invest time and effort into projects that will help cultivate a greater feeling of home. For me that means finally creating my office/reading room, decorating, and organizing our spaces to make them as functional as possible. Beyond that, I hope to continue to be able to open our home to others.
img_0509

Self-care.

I’ve encountered the term self-care a lot lately in various books, articles, and podcasts I have read or listened to. I have come to understand this concept as essential to personal well-being.

As I think about my life, I feel like self-care is something I’ve always struggled with. My personality naturally leads me to put others before myself, but in meeting the needs of others I often neglect to take time to care for me. Becoming a mom hasn’t made the struggle any easier, instead it has added another element to my struggle with self-care, mom guilt. In the moments when I have taken some time for myself mom guilt usually set in quickly. As a result, my focus during “me time” usually isn’t on me. I cut me time short or don’t have it at all which only makes me crave more and more time to myself. Then I feel more guilt for craving more time and the cycle of poor self-care continues.

I’ve realized how this lack of self-care has “damaged” my soul. At times I have lost my sense of self and haven’t been sure how to reignite passion for things that I enjoy. I know that I can’t continue like this. If I’m not taking time to care for me, how can I really have anything to offer to others? If I want to be the best version of me for my husband, son, family, and friends I have to do better at caring for myself.

I want to enter 2018 with a fresh perspective on self-care. From all the books, blogs, podcasts, etc. that I’ve read or listened to two things has been consistent in the self-care conversation

1) take time to do something for yourself  that nourishes your mind, body, spirit, and soul every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes

2) communicate with those closest to you what you need

I have to be intentional about making self-care a daily practice and I have to do better as letting my husband know when I need a moment to myself. In 2018, my hope is that I can truly commit to doing those two things better.

img_0508

Stay tuned for updates in the new year on how I’m doing in these two areas.

Happy New Year!

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? What will be your focus in 2018? Comment below!