The Transition to Microlocs and My Hair Journey in Phases

Phase III: Re-learning what my hair can do

Post-wash, interlocking process. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I know I have said this before but I will say it again, I love this process! I dove headfirst into this journey knowing it would be a tedious one. However, it is proving to be so fulfilling as well. I consider Ája to be pretty badass, and she is living up to her description with no doubts!

On Saturday, March 11, 2023, I lugged my haircare items over to my cousin’s house. I arrived just after 1:00 PM. I carved out five hours for this task as it has proven to be a time-consuming one as much as it is glorious.

I wanted to be sure I allotted enough time in my day to be available. This date was exactly 6 weeks from the last interlocking session.

As time moves closer to each wash and interlocking visit, I grow more and more elated. Watching what my hair has done since December 11, 2022, has opened my eyes to the beauty of haircare and why it is important for us to love our manes unconditionally.

We are what our hair can do

There is some truth in the above statement and a bit of falsity, too. We, Black women, are by no means, our hair, but we are what our hair can do. We can be full (of good & bad emotions), energetic, bouncy, exuberant, healthy, and inviting.

We can also be pillars of strength and power. And on our bad days, we can be weak, full of sadness, flimsy, lacking color, thin, and dull.

When I have my hair freshly done, I feel unstoppable. This feeling is akin to one that mirrors rejuvenation.

When my hair is on-point, my entire mood shifts — my world becomes a scene straight from my own fairytale meant to satisfy my needs only.

I am on Cloud 9 with all my luggage, headed for a brief stint on Happiness Row (IYKYK).

There is nothing and no one who can make me feel inferior when a fresh “do” has found its resting place as my crown of glory.

Post-wash and interlocking: roller-set phase. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

At the 4-hour and 30-minute mark, my cousin was done interlocking my microlocs. I could get up from the chair and check out the results before the next step.

I looked at our accomplishment in the bathroom mirror and smiled. I recall whispering something like, “This is really happening. It’s really happening” before I went back to the chair for the finishing touches.

What came next, I had already known about before arriving at her home, but it has been decades since I have had my hair “roller-set”. However, the process did not take long at all.

My cousin placed sponge/foam rollers in each section and advised me to let them stay in overnight.

I did as I was told.

Roller-set microlocs, front. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Giving my hair the stage it deserves

The end results are what you see above. I love the look — how Àja is bouncy and free and full of life! I adore how full and inviting my hair looks.

I have been transformed into my highest self just from a grand total of 4 hours and 45 minutes.

What makes it all worthwhile is when someone who loves you takes the time to love on your hair, too.

Roller-set microlocs, back. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

My cousin has truly been a blessing. Her talents are abundant, but using her skills to create art with one’s hair is by far a favorite of mine.

I assume that I am not the only one benefiting from this journey. She is gaining more experience with this particular genre of natural hair.

I am relearning what my hair can do, and it has been a titillating educational process so far.

I have the rollers with me at home, and I will roller-set my hair again in about 3 weeks. I plan to have it washed and interlocked again in 7–8 weeks.

Wherever we go, I will be there

Wherever Àja takes me on this journey, I’m going to be there — in my full and whole self, waiting to see exactly what else she can do.

And when my hair is finally loc’d and ready for the world to view its introductory walk into the light, I will be overjoyed.

The path is a much-needed one, and I am still skipping it effortlessly and with a heart full of happiness.

This journey has lit up my life in ways I cannot describe. I am a prisoner of this kind of self-care and self-love.

I will deny bail.

Originally published in An Injustice via Medium.

Part I and Part II

The Joys of Cooking Your Dog’s Food

How I am transitioning to homemade dog food for Jernee

Fresh Pet turkey & chicken loaf, ground beef, rice, & green beans. This initial dish was a hit with Jernee, and it inspired me to move forward with making all of her food & treats on my own. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Freshpet turkey & chicken roll, ground beef, white rice, & green beans. This initial dish was a hit with Jernee, and it inspired me to move forward with making all of her food & treats on my own. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Recently, I began cooking Jernee’s dog food after dealing with several middle-of-the-night races down three flights of stairs to get my baby the relief she needed from her bowels. Waking up at the asscrack of dawn to ensure your dog does not spew bubble gut juices all over your bedroom carpet several times a month is not the look, people. I am not built for this type of awakening. 

I like my sleep.

Jernee has always had some form of digestive issue. She is prone to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and has GERD, so I have had to maintain a strict diet for her. But as she ages; it is truly getting worse. 

We have tried several *luxury* brand name dog foods meant solely for senior dogs and their digestive health. However, The Little Monster, at times, still cannot get relief from the changes in her system.

I finally put my foot down two weeks ago after I jumped up from my bed because of her insistent whining, slipped on some clothes in a fit to pull her from her crate, and rushed outside to get her to greener pastures for business doing

I had HAD enough! I said to my sleep-deprived self, “Something has to change. I can’t keep doing this!” 

And something did. I am making her dog food myself, and so far, it has proven to be the best decision I have made for her. (And for me, too.)

Our First Batch of Homemade Dog Food

I started our new journey with the rest of her Freshpet chunky chicken & turkey roll, some ground beef, white rice, and green beans. This combination/dish (pictured as the cover photo) was/is a hit with Jernee. 

As I was making the batch, I placed two teaspoons on her dinner mat for her to taste-test, and she slurped it up as if it would be her last meal. 

I smiled. Batch #1 of homemade dog food had passed my baby’s palate test, and I could bask in the pure essence of DogMomhood knowing I was stepping into the light of something huge for both of us.

The first batch lasted for about two weeks. Knowing what she could eat and what she likes, I began to research a few other safe foods for dogs for future recipes:

  • Salmon
  • Carrots
  • Eggs
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Pumpkin

The above foods are considered safe for dogs to eat, and I will be incorporating them into future dishes for my sweet, aging girl.

When you have a senior dog, and you are in tune with their health and well-being, you are going to do whatever you can to keep them on a healthy journey as they age. 

I am doing whatever is necessary to give my girl the relief she needs while managing to keep her active and alert, too.

The Next Batch Was Small But Jernee-Approved

On Sunday morning, February 12, 2023, I made a small batch of a salmon-based dish because I knew the first batch of food would be finished/gone later that evening.

In Batch #2 I put: salmon, scrambled eggs, white rice, and green beans. Did Jernee approve? Yes, she did! 

Jernee’s Batch# 2 homemade food: salmon, scrambled eggs, rice, & green beans. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Jernee’s Batch# 2 homemade food: salmon, scrambled eggs, rice, & green beans. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I prepared the salmon the night prior by simply cooking it in the oven — no seasonings — just its natural flavor. After it cooled, I let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. I cooked the rice, scrambled eggs, and green beans on Sunday morning and mixed everything together. When the batch was at room temperature, I placed it in the fridge. 

I intended to have The Little Monster savor this dish Monday morning and Monday night as well. 

She has fallen prey to my luring abilities with these homemade dishes, and I think it is safe to say, she will not be reversing or converting back to actual dog food.

I am okay with this.

Homemade Treats and Batch# 3 Are Life Savers

Jernee, I’d say, isn’t too hard to please, she just has . . . limitations of which I have to be aware, and that makes cooking for her hard. However, I am making my way along this journey smoothly, and with each batch, I have made thus far, The Little Monster has enjoyed them. So, I am doing something right.

Enter sweet potato, apple, and banana treats . . . I didn’t taste-test them myself, I did not! That may or may not be a lie. 

These goodies are like candy for Jernee. I place one in her food in the morning and one in her dinner in the evening. She devours every morsel and leaves not one crumb in her bowl.

Homemade sweet potato, apple, and banana treats. Excuse the scratches in my favorite frying pan. It cooks the same! Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Homemade sweet potato, apple, and banana treats. Excuse the scratches in my favorite frying pan. It cooks the same! Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

The treats weren’t hard to make at all. I simply took some cooked sweet potatoes, diced apples (Gala), and sliced bananas, and mixed them together. I formed them into little balls and baked them in the oven at 400° for 20 minutes. I allowed them to cool for 30 minutes, then placed them in the fridge overnight.

She loves them!

Batch #3 of her actual food is probably my favorite blend of all things delicious. I bought a Freshpet Select Tender Chicken (and veggies) roll and made some ground beef, brown rice, and green beans. The tender chicken roll already has carrots and a bit of brown rice in it as well, so I did not need to add any more veggies to this batch.

Batch #3, Freshpet Select Tender Chicken, ground beef, brown rice, and green beans. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Batch #3, Freshpet Select Tender Chicken, ground beef, brown rice, and green beans. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

So far, this batch seems to be her favorite when gauging the excited dance she does before every single meal versus the slightly kick-step she did with the previous two batches. It is really quite a sight for sore eyes! 

This behavior proves that Jernee is benefiting from the homecooked food and treats more than the store-bought dry and wet foods.

Will This Be Our Go-to From Now On

As long as her digestive system seems to be on the up and up, I will continue to make various dishes and batches of homecooked meals for her. I doubt anything will change in the future as I have noticed taking this route is saving me some money as well. A 4lb bag of the Wellness CORE Digestive Health for Senior Dogs costs me $22.46 after taxes. 

Add her Freshpet wet foods and Blue Buffalo small biscuit treats, and I would typically pay around $52.00 as my monthly fee. With this method, I am saving close to $18.00 per month so far from my calculations. 

Listen, I will take every bit of savings I can get these days. It’s a win-win for both of us. She’s happy with the recipes I am concocting and I am happy with the results — a happy senior dog who seems to have a better digestive system from the change.

I think it is safe to say, this is our life now. 

Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

The Transition to Microlocs and My Hair Journey in Phases

Phase II: The interlocking of new growth and clean hair

The interlocking of clean hair. Retwisting my microlocs one section at a time. Photo Collage Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
The interlocking of new-growth and clean hair. Retwisting my microlocs one section at a time. Photo Collage Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I endured seven straight weeks of not washing, scratching, and messing with my hair. Seven weeks. Please let that settle in your spirit for a moment. The entire process — the waiting — the watching new growth sprinkle in and make a home on my scalp; was a calming yet joyous occurrence.

I had the pleasure of witnessing my hair grow in from the scalp and surround the microlocs already in place. I could feel the extra hair sprout up every week and I beamed (and damn near beat my chest) with pride.

“My hair is doing what it should. I am happy.” At least twenty times, I have said that very phrase. I have stood in front of my bathroom mirror completely in awe at what Ajá (Yes, I named my hair, remember?) has graced me with, and she’s still doing amazing things.

I cannot wait to see what the next seven to eight weeks will have in store for the both of us.

Washing my hair after seven weeks

I knew there would be dandruff, of course, there would be! Seven weeks of not washing one’s hair can create a dirty, cakey, matted dandruff build-up that would need to be washed, scraped away, and plucked out (*cringe*) accordingly.

I already had a history of dry scalp and a dandruff issue if my hair had not been cared for appropriately, so this was no surprise to me. To have my hair washed and my scalp massaged and I did not have to do anything but stand in place and experience this form of love and care was a blessing to my entire soul.

My hair care products (for now): Lion Locs Conditioner, Jamaican Mango & Lime Tingling Shampoo, Lion Locs Rosewater Hair Spary, and Wild Growth Hair Oil. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
My haircare products (for now): Lion Locs Conditioner, Jamaican Mango & Lime Tingling Shampoo, Lion Locs Rosewater Hair Spary, and Wild Growth Hair Oil. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

My cousin opted to shampoo my hair with my choice of shampoo (photographed above) only, stating that conditioning it would make it shiny and my already smooth/processed (permed) ends more of a problem. Every minute of her hands touching my head shifted me in so many ways.

The simple washing of one’s hair after not having it done in a couple of months can be a game-changer. I felt my heart lift and nearly leave my body. I felt a sense of peace overcome me. My legs buckled from the perfect touches to my scalp from my cousin’s fingers. It moved me to happiness and nirvana.

Before wash day, I used the Wild Growth Hair Oil (also photographed above) every week after the third week of having my locs installed.

When my locs are finally loc’d, I will begin using the conditioner and rosewater hair spray. I will keep these haircare products in rotation and add on a couple more as time passes.

Interlocking new growth and clean hair with existing locs

Once my hair had been cleaned thoroughly and towel-dried, my cousin began interlocking new growth to my existing locs. This process is painful. I used to get my hair braided regularly when I was younger, and that pain is nothing compared to this one.

I squealed — protested with my outstretched arms — flailed my hands in the air; smacked my cousin’s arms, etc. My cousin is so sweet and gentle, each time she’d rebut with this phrase, “Okay, baby. Okay. I almost got it. I almost got it. There. It’s done.” Or, “I know. I know. I’ve got it. It’s coming. I’m sorry.”

The best way for me to describe this process is to get you to visualize it with me as I write it out. Imagine your hair — from the root — being pulled and wrapped into (or around) your hair that has already grown from the root; then pulled again and pulled again and finally pulled down into the place of the existing hair.

Painful, right? I know. Here is a video to further emphasize what I endured:

How To Interlock Locs the RIGHT Way. ©GlamNaturalLife

My cousin used an interlocking tool (similar to the one shown in the video) and her hands for this process. She did this in sections. Some areas did not hurt nearly as much as others.

And as the content creator stated above, she did not choose to interlock too tightly because she has a tender scalp. I do not — I’ve never been tender-headed. So, my cousin’s interlocking method was tight.

And to be honest, the entire process was a relaxing but invigorating one.

I felt both hyped and in total serenity at the same time. This next step is complete, and I can find peace in adding another seven or eight weeks to this phase before the next wash and interlock.

Locs and smile. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Locs and smile. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

It is an overwhelmingly exciting journey and I am well-equipped with the tools to further endure what lies ahead. So far, Ajá has proven she can weather any storm that comes her way, and I am here for every battered window and every toppled trash bin.

We will not be moved or pushed aside, regardless of the intensity headed our way.

As you can see from the photo above, my hair has grown significantly from the previous starter locs article I shared. And I believe as each week passes, I will continue to see a decent increase in new growth which will make interlocking my hair once again in mid-to-late March a daunting task.

The total time for this session, including having my hair washed five times, was six hours and a little under thirty minutes.

And if you ask me if I will go through it all again, I’d happily say, “I sure will.”

Nothing beats the contentment I have welling up in my bones over the choice I made to go natural and loc my hair.

It’s here to stay for the foreseeable future — no turning back now.

Phase I

Originally published in An Injustice via Medium.

This Body I Carry Is Changing Me

Kathy Garland, such an amazing asset to this WordPress community, has published my article about my experience with perimenopause so far. I am honored to be hosted at “Navigating the Change.” Please venture over and give the article a read. Thank you in advance!

Navigating the Change

Most women have no clue what our bodies can and cannot do. 

Photo by Diana Simumpande onUnsplash

I was never taught that my body would turn on me at the drop of a dime as soon as I celebrated a certain age — 39, to be exact. I had zero understanding of all that I began experiencing until I started doing research on my own. It is baffling and utterly mind-blowing the changes a woman must go through in order to feel settled and secure in the body she carries.

I wish someone would have said to me when I was in my 20s, “Listen, baby girl... now that you’ve reached this age, let me tell you what to expect when you get to your late 30s and early 40s. The proverbial shit will hit the fan, and everything you have become familiar with on and in your body will change in…

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