My Flavor of Being …Happy

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Facebook thoughts…

Happiness has been a journey for me. I wrote this on my post today , and boy …was I surprised what I wrote!

I didn’t expect to write about the “flavor” of my happiness. I laugh inside because I didn’t expect Happiness to have a flavor… (haha) … But it does! Happiness has a taste of butterscotch ice cream or vanilla amaretto something-law, or other.. It’s a savoring kind of taste. something that makes you wants to taste it, like, forever.
I have tasted happiness but not so much until I reached fifty-something, on a consistent basis.

I attribute this to hard work. Hard work involving “working on ME.” I have being doing tons of self-evaluation lately. I had a group of women it began with; yet I ended up doing most of it involving me doing it alone. And I’ve been consistently over the past maybe fifteen years working on it with deep, digging , introspective work.

Here are the words that I feel like deserve some applause:

🌸Confidence

🌸Self-Love

🌸Motivation

🌸Self-Trust.

🌸Settled.

🌸Placed.

🌸Courageous

These words helped me to step out of my comfort zone. Amazing how “one-word” reflection can help you to become intentional. If you’d like to be involved in a process for this, let me know and I’ll coach you through the process .

Changed My Name, Change My Life…

I recently heard someone mention how names are so important. They said something like this: ‘Names introduce a certain ‘honor’ into your life when you inform people how to honor your name.’

So this blog piece is about naming and changing – and how changing my name to “Make Me Happy” when I went to South Africa, changed my life.

In May of 2003, I searched out my own happiness, and began a new personal journey. I don’t believe I shared much about my full transformation. Interestingly enough,…I found it in Kuma, South Africa.

I found myself having a greater purpose in another country. Teaching and ministering to kids and adults and helping them thrive despite being in poverty situations and helping those who suffered life challenges and found themselves having little hope. To be honest, my own hope was at its lowest. I was trying to decide if I should continue with my first marriage. This journey would be telling.

My “BOUNDARIES of Blessing”, began here, in South Africa. It was a journey that redeemed my worth and my significance. I found I actually existed for a greater cause and purpose. And when living in my purpose, I FELT SO WORTHY. Maybe it was the Resolve I felt. And that, resolve could change a Nation. If I had the team of women around me like I had in South Africa, with me in the U.S.A., I would have more than enough support.

My name change in South Africa – or the African name given to me – was “Nthabiseng “. Nthabiseng means : “Make Me Happy”, and this name became a personal mandate of my own, or a personal mission – and I began the journey for myself first, and then for others. I realized walking in Purpose, in my own Happiness, and in my own purpose and living for myself, my youth was renewed. I felt alive again! Almost as if I’d been resurrected.

Well first of all… my first lesson learned – I had to acquiesce, to get there. (I yielded without protest.) I am learning most blessings come via surrender. I noticed once I stopped trying to make life be something it really was not… neither had the potential to be; and stopped sacrificing my peace for others who didn’t value it as highly as I did – my life became better. I learned so much when I discovered this. I had finally began to live for myself.

I wish I had learned this lesson earlier in life. I would often contemplate and hesitate in my life and ponder were things worth it or was “I worth it” Sure, I was worth it! Should I move on with my life – or keep trying to love where love was not returned? I finally came to the decision love can’t be embraced with someone it was never taught and cherished , with humility. And that life is too short. You have to keep living. Because you can stop living for yourself to the point you are almost dying. And then, what good is that? For your dreams die with you.

 

Secondly, I began to appreciate and be grateful for new experiences learned and used them as stepping stones to get me to higher places. For instance I began to challenge myself and ask myself : “Why  work in Syracuse just because I lived there?” I then found myself searching for jobs I liked outside my ‘four walls’ and found a good one in a small town in N.Y. working with adolescent boys in foster care and this began a new trajectory for me in terms of my work. I realized that loving and nurturing boys who had never been truly nurtured before was definitely a passion of mine, and fulfilling work. That they needed this love; for them to be full grown men. Perhaps innately and most unconsciously if I loved them this way – as a social worker who worked with boys; perhaps then, I would not help some women then- not waste time loving them, as broken men.

I believe I also learned what it meant to be Free. To live and have fun for the very first time in my life. I learned I could enjoy company and make good decisions and make friends miles away in another culture and country and it felt good to not need permission to do that.

These were new beginnings for me. I learned I could live and survive on my own. Eight months later I was moving to a place I loved: Washington, D.C. It completely changed my LIFE.

 Then, I decided to look inside. I went a little deeper; & began to self- evaluate.

I believe in the power of naming. Naming can change perspective and change life commitment. In my book, Red Sea Situations, I speak to powerful names of God and how altars – like the places I’ve been to – these representations of love and struggle in life are not always negative places – but places that ushers God’s true presence in your life, so you can change your life and perspective.

Get a revelation on how changing your life, your purpose, and your direction can change your life. It may also change YOU.

To dream a bit brighter, be a little lighter and smile a little happier.

Selah.

The Value Of The Table.

This is my table at home.

If you have a table at home, it’s likely much happens around that table. Or, if you’re like me in the past few months, things have piled up on it, like books and magazines and … “stuff”.

I’ve decided this year to honor my table, at home.

It’s so dear to me. It’s been in my life now for about ten years, and it’s still holding 💪🏾 strong.

This means to invite folk to sit at it, to do rituals around my table, and to have great conversation around it as well.

It was a few weeks before it was actually up and ‘present’ in my new place. And boy, did i miss it!

I love my table.

It’s wooden and large, and it’s quite spectacular. I’ve had friends there, meals there, great conversation and dinners there with friends and family, and it’s just been a great gathering place for us. Change has happened at that table.
Marriage work, has been a focus – here, as well. Prayers and blessings have been given and good writing has even been accomplished with friends, at this table.

At work I have a table too, and there I receive great wisdom from my peer pastors, presenters and chaplains. Unbelievable memories exist as we determine outcomes around that table, and I gather a certain excitement even before I reach it. I’ve met new people and crossed paths with persons I may have never met had I not sat down and chose to walk this process out I’ll never forget some of those conversations as they have given me a spiritual maturity that has helped me recognize what really matters and makes me fulfilled in life.

The fact that so much growth happens has opened me up to new possibilities, and quite honestly it’s been making me be quite conscious about the interactions that happens around other tables in my life.

It’s so interesting that it’s symbolic for the places we receive, refresh, replenish & re-energize – what was once on a tree, is not something I also use to symbolize my personal, professional, and spiritual growth. The fact it’s so connected to nature and to my sense of peace and ‘groundedness’ are symbolic , as well.

What grounds you? Is it similar to an object, like a table? Is it a place? Or a certain feel you get when you have that wonderful sense of nostalgia?

This is my place. would love to know what’s yours. Just respond below.

I’ll continue to share with you those places and pictures in the next few blog posts.

Below is a pic I took in a park in Tulsa called The Gathering Place. Just sharing because it’s such a big wonderful, table in an open park and invites community, right smack dab in a big, beautiful city with lots of nature surrounding it.

( I also simply adore the fact it’s outside.☺️😉)

This was the first table I was going to use…at a community park, but I decided to simply use my own.

New Occupation, New Name.

Chaplain Jennifer. That’s what they call me. I’m still getting used to calling myself that. I’m learning everyone that’s in the hospital is not here just for physical healing. Mental, emotional, spiritual and other kinds of healings exist, as well. There is in forgiveness, emotional pain, and other kinds of relief we need to deal with, in order to maintain the proper perspective. It’s all important.

Before you wind up in a medical facility bedridden , take care of yourself and get some daily and weekly self-care. Invest in yourself. It’s important for y’all.

It’s your legacy. If you teach yourself how to do this, you leave a healthy and lengthy  legacy  for your children.

Chaplain Life

Gratefulness is Legacy.

I have learned from  my ancestors and their stories.

Below is a photo of my paternal grandmother and her first husband. They weren’t perfect. But they have a story. And after hearing the story over and over again,  you learn about life patterns, how they repeat and  what to uphold in  true honor.

I attended a play this past weekend a tribute to those who represented legacy on Black Wall Street in Tulsa. If you don’t know the legacy of Black Wall Street, (read here) please read it. It’s a legacy of African Americans who had wealth and prosperity in a community in North Tulsa, and lost it all due to envy , hate and racism.

Many would say they didn’t ‘lose it all’, but I beg to differ what “all” feels like -unless you’re present to witness it, yourself. “All” can be the hope in our hearts, the tragedy of loved ones lost, the memories of a painful and depressing past.

I’m certain hopelessness came in many forms, with many questions: Would they find love again? Would their children be alright? What would become of their legacy they intended to leave for generations, now?

I’m certain with my grandparents when they divorced they were pretty hopeless, too. Same questions, and concerns for family, a hope and a future. As a young child I never saw my grandparents together. One of them had already relocated to New York, while another was in Georgia. I had several memories however, of my grandfather still trying to flirt with her and being light with laughter, and trying to have fun with her. The love was still there.

Being resilient in the face of adversity takes a lot of fortitude. A lot of stamina and forthrightness. A determination and strength to rebuild, and start again. Although I didn’t know my grandparents as adults, yet, I know for a fact the seven sons they birthed help us to see a family unit that stands strong as a forthright people. My family members always told stories of a man and woman with dreams and wishes, despite the hardships. They are legacy bearers and my uncles and aunts always held up their virtue. It was common talk, in our family. The courage, the fortitude, the mercy and compassion,.. the love. The spiritual witness and faith, and most of all, the little & the BIG miracles of recovery and healing and hope. And for that I am grateful, and can witness the patterns over the years of teachers, leaders, community men and women who take to the front lines to work with families and uphold those same virtuous ideals.

I’m grateful before the legacy bearers. The ones that have come before. Even if some may have been caught in a fog of indifference, regret or lost dreams, at least they had them.

Yes, there may have been a trail of tears; but we have to understand ‘what virtue’ was left behind as well and what they stood for- recognizing what was ‘meant to be’ and attempt to take forward what they actually stood for. I have a photo of my grandmother on my mantle I see everyday as I get dressed and go to work. She is a reminder of my communal strength and hope for her people. I want to carry on that legacy in my future.

Black Wall Street was built again. Many were committed to seeing it rebuilt and it did come back together. Today, the history is preserved and I live only a few miles from there. In fact, we just opened a business on Black Wall Street in the Greenwood Neighborhood in North Tulsa.

After seeing the Black Wall Street play, and answering a few questions within my heart, I realized that there’s a lot of legacy left behind , but also a lot to reminisce with, and of course, to rebuild. And if I can be a proud part of that rebuilding, then I am grateful to continue that legacy.

Selah.

“We Are All Like Trees.”

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“We Are All Like Trees.”

I’ll never forget how her face lit up when she said these words. I was in South Africa, Kuma, South Africa, in fact. I was teaching in a classroom of South African teenagers, and I was on cloud nine, (naw ….101..)

Her words were so simple and freeing.

Powerful, yet pensive, contemplative yet colorful.

Description causes me to attach meaning to sometimes things I barely notice. I know I’d always loved trees. Yet the trees in South Africa spoke to me. I remember having spoke to this classroom brill of teenagers and then coming back to a Johannesburg and spending time with my new friends  and their friends. I stood quietly in the backyard just thanking God for the experience of being in a South Africa, eating dinner with such focused and thoughtful people. There was a tree in that backyard that spoke to me.

Inlistened to her words all over again: “We are all like trees.”

And  then it hit me: Our strength. Our endurance. The people we are, and continue to become. We dream, we hope, we encourage , we teach.

And yes, I am one of those Trees.

Yes indeed I am.

 

Identity in My Community.

Last night was amazing. I spent an hour and a half in community with folk in my church community. Some were members  of my church, and others were not.

We all had three things in common: Purpose, Passion And Potential. Our desire is to reach for this, collectively.
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Some just wanted to be in a like-minded community of women. I’ve found community rests in sometimes taking risks. Being around people we don’t know – and spending time listening and sharing stories and perspectives. I’ve found this to be my peace and my passion.

Most recently I stayed in a spiritual community for two years that nurtured me , something awesome. It’s called Propel Women. (Propelwomen.org) I spent two years with this group and decided only recently I’d begin my own group  of like-minded women, and impact another community through my church.

Last night we did this, and I fell in love again with the “spirit of community “.  only this time I led the community. How empowering and enlightening to be on the other side. Last night I gained new wings. Again. Yet perhaps that’s what happens when we take risks. Again.  We learn to fly, or better yet, SOAR.

We learn how to navigate the skies.

I’ve been in other communities that have helped shape my character. I’ve spoken about them here and here. The one most prominent was where I met my husband. This was in a loving community full of people of color who were seeking to unravel the pieces surrounding our identity and my history as a ‘people’ in America. We were seeking empowerment, and it came from unraveling a philosophy burnt deep in the fibers of slavery and how slaves were made. Every time I spent time in this community, I was transformed. With a passion, every year I found refuge there. (I really don’t want to take time to reference the document, because that identity is no longer my identity; but it set the stage for my ancestors who suffered abuse and neglect and disenfranchisement at the hands of it’s slave owner.

Unraveling those pieces with my sisters and brothers helped me to see my true identity. Recognizing I could begin from square one, helped me sort out  and filter the lies and deceit that were embedded deep in my psyche & my ancestors believed; then released me to live a life empowered with my own significance and influence, and recognize the places within that needed healing, nurturing and were long forgotten and ignored.

Once I realized this, I was born again. It set the precedent for what I allowed to be in my life. And ‘whom’ I allowed myself to be in relationship with. My old identity didn’t exist anymore. Only what God saw in me, and I allowed myself to partake of -was my identity. Selah.

So here’s what I now know:
This side of life – is only half of who I am. Doesn’t make me a half of a person, just makes me realize that wholeness is a journey, and I CANNOT DO IT ALONE.

I am not the same.

Now, my hope is, the women in this photo, will not be the same, either.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Love on Yourself a little, today.💕

Is I have committed this year in 2018 to writing about 💎 Diamonds my online course and writing about the gems therein. To make it even more exciting, I’m challenging myself to write a book on how I got to the “Other Side” of pursuing me.”stay tuned as I share more on this journey, & eventually provide links to the course.

Developing An Identity is Like Making HUGE Spiderwebs.

Spiderwebs
A Brighter Light. by JennRene Owens

Sometimes finding our selves is like making a spider web. It’s intricate, detailed, contemplative and sometimes involves a lot of work.

I think I began this journey quite honestly, at a young age. Maybe even before age eleven. Eleven was when my life changed. My Dad decided to live differently. To become a man and dare to love and trust his family. I became an aunt, (of two) in 1978, that summer I turned eleven. It’s the year o began being an example for the next generation. And at eleven my father came home a new man. He stopped drinking. And I stopped crying myself to bed every night living in fear of what might happen.
Eleven is the number of inheritance.
Ironic? (Nah.)

We have hallmarks of our identity: the first time as a young lady you get your period; the first time your graduate; the first time you get a real boyfriend; the first time you get your own apartment; or marry someone , or have a baby and become a parent…
But what about when you first “do the work?”( What work? – yet they say actions speak louder than words, right?)

Doing the work looks like becoming emotionally , mentally, and physically responsible. Sometimes it means creating emotional safety, in order that you cultivate safe relationships, with the people surrounding you, as well.
What does that look like? Developing trusting relationships, being forgiving and having forgiving friendships; and tolerating and loving on folk we don’t even like. It involves being spiritually mature about things, because it is  the right thing to do. Choosing to being honest in accepting  others and being open enough to hear the truth about ourselves and tell others the truth, choosing to speak the truth, in love. I used to have the hardest time dealing with conflict. Then I took a few courses and learned about the skills I needed and began to practice them. To my surprise, they worked!☺️

And the journey to my road of personal growth and development began. I must admit, it’s taken years to pull the layers off. Yet my age has helped me develop into someone “ I “ can trust. And if I can trust me, and my actions, that’s true empowerment. But I will l never let anyone treat this soul negatively again. Stomp all over this mind, this will and emotions til they die again. No, not I.

This woman arose again.

She figured out when she left this country, touched the hearts of youth and  led   them to dream again, she had purpose.

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She found out when she traveled over 8,115 miles to chase her dream and GOT THERE, she was on to something. That life and purpose was worth pursuing and she through these actions could BECOME ALIVE.

And help others to keep living too.

When she looked in the eyes of those young people, heard their pain and hurt, and complete desperation, see he youth follow her around as she was hope; when saw them living without parents and brothers lost in other countries saying:”I’ll come back for you”– trying to make a living to help them survive- but never return… these 13 & 18 year-old youth – thriving in their communities, despite the threat of their peers committing suicide daily; and seeing THIS woman come from another land and tell the miracle of her journey, and how God really DOES fulfill our dreams… and believe her….

It was time to LIVE.

And build that “web”. That meaningful large, connection that harnesses hope, no matter how far you are apart in the world, and speak the same language that helps people believe, past themselves. Webs that carry weight, identity, purpose and ingenuity, strength and capacity. Webs that offer hope, healing and love.

This trip to Africa changed my life , and purposed me further into my destiny and my identity. I went home and began establishing my business. It had gone international, and I was beginning to share that I had spent time with youth and encouraged and mentored them through my business: OtherSide Enterprises, LLC. ( See Africa video here.)

And so Identity wins. It speaks loudly, and saves lives, it rids desperation and offers us hope, it fuels our purpose and “makes our name great.”

( Genesis 12:2 )

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.”

I Am Enough Because I Am Wise.

 I Am  Enough Because I Am Wise.

So what does it really mean to be wise?

Does being wise mean… to be humble?

Does it mean we should consult with someone else who has  good advice, can problem-solve, help us manage our lives better or may give good counsel?

Or does it mean simply having good sense In knowing how to respond?

Perhaps.

…Or maybe it means being still enough to take care of our lives  because we care enough about our lives to be safe, discerning and aware.
Perhaps where I am wisest is when I spend time in the presence of friends. I have wise friends. There is a scripture in the bible that says : “The is safety in a multitude of counselors.”
I love that scripture. It has resounded over the years with me. I have realized over time that perhaps the best  acumen, has come from experience as my  teacher. With my experiences, I have  gained such rewarding treatment and insight from friends who in my own personal struggles, when I needed such wisdom, – sowed complete love for me,  and their wise actions and advice, benefited me greatly as I endured my situation.  The intuition  and  inspiration was on an entirely different level and  completely humbling.   As a result, I have  compassion for  them an for others who have experienced similar situations. It led me to  write my book, Red Sea Situations.

I believe one of the most humbling  situations I experienced, was  a friend who helped me when I had no where else to go. She had always told me, because she knew I was going through a hard time no matter when or what time it was, whenever I needed a place to go, I could just stop by. One night i thought I was close to losing it, and i knew if I didn’t get out of the house,  I would .  So indeed, I  went over and it was about ten fifteen pm. When I arrived at her  door, her husband answered, he smiled, and  didn’t say a word. All  he said was: “She’s  is upstairs, go ahead on up.”  (Can I say I just admire a  man who allows his  wife’s friend to come over so late in the evening , so she can support her?)Clearly, I had been crying, and I slipped past him. When I go to the top of the stairs,  I heard her talking to her boys  in a very sacred moment, and she said , “Come on in,Jenn.” She was there with the two of them, they were about three and six years old, and  she was hugging on them in bed. She made space for me, and  welcomed me in me bed with them. We didn’t talk much that night, we just laid there in quiet and peace. Her boys smiling and  she interacting and mothering them, and I quietly watched them enjoy and love on one another. I never felt so welcomed. to this day, our bond is unbreakable.

Now, this has nothing to do with me, and my wisdom. However, my friend’s wisdom in this moment taught me how to be wise.

Her wisdom taught me how when I am at my lowest point to embrace someone in love and just acceptance, is the very best  action of love. For me, wisdom and love, really are not far  apart. In fact, they are cousins. I  also found out that I don’t have to know all the details, I just need to love on them.  There’s a time and a season for everything, and sometimes knowledge isn’t necessary. She didn’t know, and still doesn’t know what I was experiencing that evening, but what maters is that I  knew she was there, and that she loved me. To me, that’s agape love. The God-kind of love. From this one action, I have found that I can love people without words, in such an amazing way, and that it involves just seeing that their soul is so worthy of love. This type of ‘friend -awareness’ has allowed me to be the same kind of friend.

On a lighter note,

I am wise because I am clever.

Cleverness is not  a word I use very much n my vocabulary, yet I find very attractive. My husband is rather clever. It was attractive to me from the first day I met him. And his cleverness tends to rub off on me at times. Cleverness involves, quick wit, charm, and  wise words, and at times a bit of playfulness. Perhaps the playfulness is the most fun. Being clever involves finding  a certain resourcefulness from within. It’s understanding how to use integrity to teach someone by not reacting. It also involves  not  stooping to a level of  personal embarrassment or  ignorance  because someone else does. Not allowing their impulsivity, unkindness and lack of intellect, to move me with words. I think I learned how to be clever once I  decide din my mind I didn’t care what others thought about me. It was freeing.  I decided that once I had made up my mind, and it made sense and I had  filtered it through my wisest  friends, and they were in agreement, it was well. And no one’s opinions mattered. My clever quick wit would then pounce back on others when they had comments  or opinions about my  actions in which they did not agree. I admire folk who can take judgment and  crush it as soon as someone swings it at them, and  keeps on  walking without shame or resentment because they are confident they are in a good place.

I am wise because I am contemplative.
Contemplation is one of my favorite things to do. As an introvert, I tend to find myself when I contemplate. Whether it involves speaking to myself, my heart, and pondering the actions of my day I find rest in re-evaluation. If I don’t do re-evaluate, I become restless.
What is in this restless space? Unawareness? A lack of purpose? Dis-alignment? Is that why when I am not looking within, I falter?
I get nervous, my anxiety peaks, or I have a loss for words? I prefer contemplation in order to help me rest. I may not have even realized the extent to which I depend upon what I call : “finding center” Laraine Herring in the book: “Writing Begins With Breath: Embodying your Authentic Voice”, says after the basic needs of food air, water and shelter are met, most of our actions and behaviors stem from a need for love, compassion, understanding and emotional safety.” I find that interesting, because that means if this is true, most of what I seek, when I look within, is about finding self love.( Read about  my  self love and being enough in another story.)

I must say however; some of the most unwise persons have hurt me. have been unreasonable,  inattentive ungraceful and  ill-mannered people I know, because they lacked compassion.   Indeed, perhaps this scripture measures up when wisdom is most attractive: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85:10)

jennifer

My Natural Hair Story/Journey

If you’d ask what’s the one thing that helps me to feel alive…its my hair.  I a absoooooolutely  love  having   locs that are free …MOST of the time, and  it  feels  good to   just have natural  hair that GOD made… and  see how the journey  helps me to be free  with the  growth and  I am  intrigued most of the time to  see what God does with it, next!

Washing my hair can be a source of pure pride. I actually have this sort of “glee” inside when I wash it, because I am often each time I am reminded of my spiritual journey. Perhaps because i researched a bit, and found hair is symbolic of several things: power, pride, shame & glory; and I even read some place it is relative to being thought of as: “the external soul”. Deep.

So.. Here’s my “Hair Story :

Over the past 8 yrs, I’ve wrestled with my hair. Its been quite a journey. “Should I cut it? Should I keep it long?” Will I know what to do with it when it grows out of control?” i now know that growing out of control was just an illusion, and I had issues with what people thought. So glad hat has subsided, and been buried in the ground. My hair has a preserving effect. It has kept me strong and delighted. hopeful and observant. And Telling. (Yes, with a capital ‘T’.) Because there is a certain “earthi-ness”, that comes with me, and I simple adore. I don’t like being categorized or placed into any one’s spectrum. I love to be brave, and have recognized the strength in being a brave soul. It’s been a journey, of sorts. A blessed one, indeed. One that has matured me, delighted my soul, kept me sane, and I can easily trace back to major sentiments and transitions in my life.

One of them being on the heels of a return from S. Africa, and a love for the people and how their hair were often personal & cultural statements about their lives, and mirrors to their soul. I now realize the ‘wrestling’ was not just with me, it was with my soul. And my lifestyle. And my choices about how I LIVED my life. I have realized where this new hair journey began for me, began with several new beginnings, and with each new beginning, I feel that much more resolve.

I am grateful for my hair journey today, the maturity, the resolve, the growth of my life and person-hood, and the courageous young woman it has helped me to become as i delved a little deeper in my soul, noticed where my life was going, considered what ‘beauty’ and Nthabi, looked like… (my African name). I have found my life wrapped up in my hair these past eleven yrs, and I am proud to say the woman I was then, I am no longer. My hair has evolved with me. Even my confidence, my refuge in this past year, and often my awakening.

Selah. 10-29-31.

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August 28,  2017.

Recently I changed my hair color and found my personality changing with it. Feels good to have options that add to your livelihood and manner of being!

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