Are you ready for #WorldAfroDay tomorrow?

 

My ‘fro is…

Fierce.

Feminine.

Complements my melanin.

A crown of glory,

Telling the story

of my hair-itage.

Homage to my African parentage.

My halo of natural divinity,

With a proclivity

for standing out.

Fabulous.

Full.

My ‘fro is…

 

What do you love about your ‘fro?

Visit www.worldafroday.com to learn more about #worldafroday ~ Fri., Sept. 15, 2017!

 

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How to Bantu-knot your hair

Bantu knots, also known as Zulu or Nubian knots, chiney bumps, pepper seeds, or hair nubbins, is a traditional African hairstyle, made by sectioning your hair into triangles, diamonds, or squares and coiling those sections into knots.

What you will need:

  • Sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner
  • 
Towel
  • Spray bottle
  • 
Wide-toothed comb/Detangling brush
  • 
Tail comb
  • Butterfly clips/Snag-free ponytail holders
  • Water-based moisturizer
  • Twisting gel/cream
  • Bobby pins (optional)

Steps:

  1. For best results, start with damp hair that has been recently shampooed and conditioned and towel-dried.
  2. Spritz hair with water using a spray bottle.
  3. Use your fingers or a tail comb to divide hair into about 6 to 9 sections, depending on the thickness of the hair.
  4. Separate the sections using butterfly clips or snag-free ponytail holders.
  5. Starting at the back of the head, loosen one section of hair (one on either edge of the nape is usually best).  If the section feels dry, spritz it with some water.
  6. Apply your favourite water-based moisturizer to the section, paying extra attention to the ends of the hair.
  7. Use your fingers/wide-toothed comb/detangling brush to detangle the section of hair.
  8. Apply your favourite twisting cream or gel to the section to the moisturized, detangled section.
  9. Separate with your fingers or part a piece of the section with your tail comb into your desired shape (starting from the edge of the nape makes it easier), keeping in mind that the bigger the piece the bigger the size of your Bantu knot, and clip the rest of the section to the side.
  10. Bend the strand close to its base and pinch the bump created between the thumb and pointer of your left hand, and use your right hand to wind the length of the strand around the bump at the base to form a coil.
  11. Keep winding the length of the strand around the coil with your right hand, gradually winding closer and closer to your head with each round, until all of the strand has been completely wound up, to form a Bantu knot.
  12. If your hair is curly, and your knot is coiled tightly enough, the ends will likely stay coiled under the knot; if your hair is looser, then you may need to use a bobby pin to hold the knot in place.
  13. Unclip the remainder of the section, and repeat Steps 9-12 until the section is completely knotted.
  14. Move on to the next section of hair, and repeat Steps 5-12 until all of the sections are knotted.

***You can also create Bantu knots from two-strand twists: once your two-strand twists are completed, follow steps 10-14 above.***

To keep your Bantu knots neat, wear a satin bonnet or tie your head with a satin/silk headscarf when you go to sleep.

Choosing new ways to part my hair: setting boundaries for success and self care

After 3 years of intermittent contract work, in February, I finally landed a full-time gig.  I was excited and grateful for the job, as it’s a very good position that would give me the opportunity to learn and gain new skills.  (Not to mention, it was nice to finally have some steady predictable income!)

However, ever since I started my new job, my personal ventures have suffered, in terms of the amount of time and dedication I’ve been able to commit to them. To say that I’ve been struggling to balance the demands of my job while trying to manage the blog, book, and business would be an understatement!

For the past 4 months, I’ve been feeling like, wow, I just can’t win“: now that I finally have the money, I don’t have the time; and when I had the time, I didn’t have the money!

I was getting really stressed out, trying to figure how I was going to get everything done, and feeling like I was failing.  I was so stressed out that it was impacting my ability to get good sleep, resulting in chronic fatigue; I also kept getting sick; then, most recently, I started getting back-to-back migraines, which I’ve never experienced before; and, generally, I was feeling like crap.

I knew it was bad when my husband (who is low-key pro-workaholism) told me to STOP! To stop stressing myself out; to stop beating myself up; and to start giving myself credit for what I had been accomplishing, despite my huge workload.  I tried to take his advice but still found myself struggling to give myself permission to relax and recalibrate, especially knowing that I wasn’t on top of everything. The over-achiever in me would not let me be okay with allowing some of the balls I had in the air to drop.  So I literally had to pray about it.  I had to ask God to help me find peace in the midst of the madness because I really didn’t know what to do or how to handle it.

And since I started praying about it, I started receiving the same following messages from various sources: 1) Life is about choices, 2) Boundaries are necessary, and 3) Prioritize yourself.

1. Life is about choices: I’m realizing that I can choose to be miserable or I can choose to be happy.  I can choose to be stressed out or I can choose to pursue peace. Since I don’t want to be miserable and stressed out, I’m making the choice to be content with my situation and to make the best of it.

2.  Boundaries are necessary: I’m realizing that as much as I’d like to excel at my job, working every evening and every weekend was negatively impacting my well-being- and my body started acting up as a result to get my attention. My husband was also getting annoyed because we weren’t spending quality time together anymore (one of his Love Languages; one of mine too!)  So now I’m making a concerted effort to try to leave work at work, to carve out time for not only myself, but also for my husband, family, friends, and loved ones, and to do the things that I like to do that bring me joy.

3. Prioritize yourself: I’m also realizing that if I don’t prioritize my ventures, who will? In addition to making time to take care of myself, I recognize that I need to make time to take care of my personal projects, if I want them to succeed. And I do want them to succeed, so I recognize it’s time to take a new approach.

 

I thank all of you who have continued to support me during my unexpected hiatus.  Thank you for encouraging me to keep going, to keep writing, to keep blogging, in spite of.

Thank you to my siblings for praying with and for me.  Thanks to my aunts and uncle for your pep talks.

Thank you to my wonderful husband for speaking sense to me, for believing in me, for pushing me when I’m ready to give up, and for carrying me when I feel like I have nothing left!

It’s time for this over-achiever to get a new look; so, here’s to parting my hair a new way!

Here’s to setting boundaries for future success and self care!

 

 

How to cornrow your hair

Cornrows or canerows (or track braids) is a traditional African braiding technique. Cornrows are made by braiding the hair onto the scalp’s surface, after parting the hair into a design.

  1. Part a section of the hair starting from the hairline to the nape, keeping in mind that the thicker the section the thicker your cornrow will be.

2. Clip the rest of the head of hair to the side or put it in a ponytail holder to keep it out of the way while you cornrow the parted section.

3.  Starting at the hairline, take a small piece of the parted section and split that piece into three equal strands.

TIP: Anchor the right strand of hair in-between the middle finger and ring finger of your right hand; and anchor the left strand of hair in-between the middle finger and ring finger of your left hand, and brace your hands against the head, leaving your thumbs and pointer fingers free to pull the outside strands under the middle strand as you braid.

Try to brace your pinky fingers against the head, and hold the strands as upright as possible, to help you get the right tension!

4.  Start braiding the strands like a regular plait using the underhand method (opposite of a French braid) for about two stitches/notches: using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your left hand to pull the right strand under the middle strand; using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your right hand to pull the left strand under the middle strand; the right strand under the middle strand, and the left strand under the middle strand.

5. Now you will start the cornrow.   As you make the motion of pulling the right strand under the middle strand using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your left hand, pick up extra hair from the right side of the parted section and pull it into the right strand. Pull the right strand with added hair under the middle strand.

6.  Then, do the same thing as you make the motion of pulling the left strand under the middle strand using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your right hand,  pick up extra hair from the left side of the parted section into the left strand.  Pull the left strand with added hair under the middle strand.

TIP: As you pull the right and left strands under the middle strand, run your fingers through to the ends to prevent the free ends from tangling.

TIP: As you cornrow, try to keep your hands at an angle of as close to 90 degrees as possible/upright against the head (as opposed to following the direction in which you are cornrowing). Holding your hands at close to 90 degrees/upright will help you get the right tension to keep the cornrow neat and tight (without yanking the hair).

7.  Continue to cornrow, by repeating Steps 5 and 6: picking up extra hair on each side as you pull the right strand under the middle strand, the left strand under the middle strand, the right strand…until there is no more hair to add from the parted section.

TIP: Try to pick up the same amount of hair on each side to make the stitches/notches of your cornrow neat and even.

8.  Once all of the hair in the parted section is cornrowed against the scalp, continue to braid the free ends like a regular plait using the underhand method.

Keeping the cornrow from unwinding:

9.  Once you get to the end of the plait, if the hair is very curly, the cornrow may hold itself together. If not, you can either spiral the ends around your finger, using a little twisting gel/cream, or you can secure the cornrow with a snag-free/covered elastic band, clip, or barrette.

Finishing the style

10. Unclip or loosen the unbraided hair and repeat Steps 1-9 until the entire head is cornrowed.

TIP: How you part the hair will determine the size and shape/design of your cornrows; so, to keep them even, in Step 1, part the new section the same size and in the same shape as the cornrow beside it.  

Also, keep in mind, if you are cornrowing straight back, as you part the hair, you will have to taper the section toward the nape—the hairline and the crown of the head covers more area than the nape, so if you don’t taper the sections, you will run out of hair to cornrow at the back of the head.

Finally, to keep your cornrows neat, wear a satin/silk scarf or headtie, or use a satin/silk pillowcase when you go to sleep. Depending on how curly your hair is, how small the cornrows are, and whether you tie your hair at nighttime, your cornrowed style could last for a few days or up to a week or so.

Happy cornrowing!

Available Now: What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair?

Everyone knows Zuri as “the girl with the puffy hair.” Her afro is big and fluffy, and not even gravity can keep it down. People often ask her, “What are you gonna do with that hair?” Zuri finds the answer in her cultural hair-itage and shows she can sculpt and shape her curls and coils into beautiful works of African art—braids, ‘locks, bantu knots—in other words, whatever she wants!

This illustrated non-fiction book encourages Black girls to celebrate the beauty and versatility of their natural hair and learn the rich history of natural hairstyles.

 

Get your copy today!

Available in Canada on Amazon.ca: Click here to purchase.

Also available in-store at Knowledge Bookstore: 177 Queen Street West, Brampton, Ontario L6Y 1M5.

Available in the United States on Amazon.com: Click here to purchase.

Every day is a good hair day!

 

What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair? Book Launch

book-launch-collage

Let’s celebrate Black History Month together at the book launch for “What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair?” at Knowledge Bookstore (117 Queen St W, Brampton, Ontario L6Y 1M3) on Saturday, February 25, 2017, at 2pm!

This is a FREE event! Please register on Eventbrite: zurisbeautifulhair.eventbrite.com

For more information, please visit www.knowledgebookstore.com or www.thenaturalhairadvocate.com

Follow us on:
Facebook: The Natural Hair Advocate
Twitter: @TheNHAdvocate
Instagram: @zurisbeautifulhair
#ZurisBeautifulHair

How to two-strand twist your hair

two-strand-twists-with-close-up-blog

Two-strand twists are one of the basic styling techniques for natural hair. They are similar to braids, only you intertwine use two strands of hair instead of three.

What you will need:

  • Sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner
  • 
Towel
  • Spray bottle
  • 
Wide-toothed comb/Detangling brush
  • 
Tail comb
  • Butterfly clips/Snag-free ponytail holders
  • Water-based moisturizer
  • Twisting gel/cream

Steps:

  1. For best results, start with damp hair that has been recently shampooed and conditioned and towel-dried.
  2. Spritz hair with water using a spray bottle.
  3. Use your fingers or a tail comb to divide hair into about 6 to 9 sections, depending on the thickness of the hair.
  4. Separate the sections using butterfly clips or snag-free ponytail holders.
  5. Starting at the back of the head, loosen one section of hair (one on either edge of the nape is usually best).  If the section feels dry, spritz it with some water.
  6. Apply your favourite water-based moisturizer to the section, paying extra attention to the ends of the hair.
  7. Use your fingers/wide-toothed comb/detangling brush to detangle the section of hair.
  8. Apply your favourite twisting cream or gel to the section to the moisturized, detangled section.
  9. Separate a piece of the section (starting from the edge of the nape makes it easier), keeping in mind that the bigger the piece the bigger the size of your twist, and clip the rest of the section to the side.
  10. Split the subsection into two equal strands, pinching one strand in your right hand and pinching the other strand in your left hand.
  11. Twist the two strands together, overlapping the left strand over the right strand, left strand over the right strand, and continue overlapping the left strand over the right strand, down to the end of the twist.
  12. Apply some twisting gel or cream to the ends to keep the twist in place.
  13. Unclip the remainder of the section, and repeat Steps 9-12 until the section is completely twisted.
  14. Move on to the next section of hair, and repeat Steps 5-12 until all of the sections are twisted.

To keep your two-strand twists neat, wear a satin bonnet or use a satin/silk pillowcase when you go to sleep.

 

When you wish to wash your cares away…

shower

Going to the hair salon has always been a luxury to me- I’ve been blessed to have a mother and a sister who are both amazing at doing hair (my sister, Sarah, is a gifted natural hairstylist, actually), and I’m not too bad myself; so I’ve never really “needed” to go the salon to get my hair done, except for when I’ve been away from home.

Last week, though, I went to the hairdresser for the first time in over five years (I went to Urban Curls Toronto, to be exact. It was also my first time going to a natural hair salon, and it was wonderful).

hair-salon

I decided I needed to go to a salon to not only get my hair done for the sake of getting it done (it was in desperate need of a professional treatment, as it was dry and breaking a lot), but I also felt like I needed to go just for the experience of being at the hair salon.  I personally needed some T-L-C to soothe what has been a pretty rough start to 2017 with the passing of one of my best friends, my dear Grandma.

Being at the hair salon always feels like the royal treatment to me: someone else is taking care of you, and it feels great.  I especially love having my hair washed by somebody else (though it hasn’t always been this way: as a child, I loathed the process!) With this mass of 4b/4c hair that I’ve got, washing my hair is always a bit of a chore; so it’s nice to get a break! I love the sensation of having my scalp massaged and really feeling like my hair’s getting a deep clean. I love the sound of the water running, as it lulls me into a peaceful catnap.  I find it very therapeutic.

drain

This time, though, I really took in the process of washing my hair.  This time it was symbolic.

This time I was trying to get some serious stuff out of my hair: the stress of 2016, and the end of the year, in particular…

Transitioning from a job.

Struggling to get my book finished.

My Grandma falling ill.  The weeks in the hospital.  The trips to Sunnybrook for radiation.  My last Christmas with her.

That awful Monday morning.

Making the plans. Sending her off in style.

Laying her to rest…

As the water ran through my hair, I paused and reflected on it…a metaphorical attempt to wash my cares away…In that moment I remembered how much my Grandma enjoyed having her hair washed by the nurses at the end of her life. I thought how she too must have found some peace from the water running through her hair, washing the pain away, if only for a few minutesIn that moment I felt close to her.

hair-washingI realized that there is just something that we all love about having our hair washed with gentleness and care.  It comforts us and helps us to forget about everything else- whether at the beginning of life (like this sweet newborn baby: http://www.today.com/parents/watch-blissful-newborn-have-her-hair-washed-first-time-t105333), at any point in the middle, and even at the end.

 

I think the hairdresser will be seeing me a lot more often this year…

 

 

 

 

 

2016: The Year of Birthing a Vision

2016.  This year was really something.  This year, I did not do a good job of managing everything—this blog included.  For that, I sincerely apologize.  I was doing a lot.  At times, I felt overwhelmed. I felt like I couldn’t juggle it all. Then I would feel guilty and beat myself up. But I realize now that, sometimes, you just can’t do it all.  Or at least you just can’t do it all well.  And I have come to accept that that’s okay…

2007. Nine years ago, I was tasked with carrying a vision that was bigger than myself: I was commissioned to write a children’s book.  It was something that I had never done before, but for some reason, the people who sought me out thought I was capable.  I worked on that book while I was pursuing my law degree and had gotten to the copy-edit stage (with an expectation to publish in 2012)…

2011. Five years ago, during my articling year (after a long period of silence from the publisher), I found out (in a very roundabout way) that my book deal, along with all others at this publishing house, had been canned because the company had been bought out. So, after a couple of failed attempts to pitch the manuscript to other publishers, I shelved the project.

Maybe I wasn’t a writer, after all, I said to myself.

And, in any case, I had a blossoming legal career that I needed to attend to…

2014. Two years ago, I found myself newly married…and out of work.  As the Type-A person that I am, it wasn’t long before I was going half-crazy with nothing (thought-provoking) to do while spending time at home.  Until I felt God telling me to “go back to the project”.

God, don’t you know I need a JOB?! Who has time to publish a book?

After wrestling with the idea for months, and with the encouragement and support of my husband, I decided to acquiesce: I went back to my manuscript, updated it, and then fielded it for feedback from some authors and teachers…

2015. A year ago, I made the difficult decision to re-write the book, on the advice of a few of my friends who work in education—who did not hesitate to let me know that “the kids aren’t going to read it” (thank God for real friends who will tell you the truth!)—and I also made the equally difficult (at least for me) decision to self-publish.  I then began the process of seeking out the “right” people to help me bring the vision to life, which came with its own set of difficulties and headaches…

2016. This year, nine years later, I gave birth to the vision.

Though I’ve never birthed a child before, I feel like my experience has been what I imagine a pregnant woman must go through (based on the accounts of friends and relatives).

Nine years ago, I was nervous but also curious about what it might mean to write a book. I thought about what it would look in the end and whether people would like it. I knew it was going to be a long process, but I had no idea how long or hard it was going to be.

Sometimes your baby is born earlier than expected, sometimes overdue, but always at his or her appointed time.

During my journey, I learned so many lessons about people and about myself.  I’ve learned that others will not care about your vision in the same way that you do.  I’ve learned that while it is important to devote your everything to your vision, you also have to take care of yourself given that you are the vessel through which it will enter the world; the healthier you are, the safer the delivery will be.  

And then there was the emotional rollercoaster.  There were times throughout this process when I was so excited about the potential of what I was carrying; there were other times when didn’t think I was going to make it and was ready to abort it; there were times when I wanted to jump for joy because things were going great; and other times when I wanted to bawl my eyes out in anger and frustration (and I did—several times). And by the time I got to the end of my “gestation period”, if you will, I was completely exhausted and just ready for the vision to finally be birthed.

So, here she is, my first-born child: 

what-are-you-gonna-do-with-that-hair

What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair? A book by Ndija Anderson-Yantha; Illustrated by Kaela Beals

I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I did.  Thank you, Jesus!

 

If you are carrying a vision of your own, trust and believe that it will come to pass!

If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time (Habakkuk 2:3 MSG).

May you birth great things in 2017 and beyond! Happy New Year!

 

Sleeping Beauty

If you’ve ever gone on an overnight trip with a Black girl (or if you’re in a relationship with one), then you know that she’s not hitting the sack until she’s tied her hair up with her beloved hair tie.  As I mentioned in a previous postthe head tie is a Black girl’s most prized possession– for a number of different reasons- one of which is to keep her hairstyle intact while she’s sleeping.  But in case you didn’t know already, wearing a head tie also protects Black hair from breakage caused by tossing and turning on cotton pillowcases.

red_and_blue_bandannasI grew up tying my hair down with a cotton bandanna and/or a nylon stocking cap, which I now know are big natural hair no-nos! Cotton absorbs the moisture and oils from natural hair, leaving it dry, and subject to breakage; while nylon stocking caps can snag your hair if they are too tight, and can also damage your edges. In any case, by the time I got to undergrad, I had graduated to sleeping with a (much more sophisticated) satin-y bonnet (I say “satin-y” because it was actually one of those polyester ones from the Black beauty store). And ever since then, it’s been all about the bonnet (thanks, Spelman sisters!); I only really opt for the head tie when I’m trying to keep my frizzies down for a sleeker look.

Note: I know many ladies complain about their bonnets falling off at night; so, try to find one that is snug enough to stay on, but not so tight as to damage your hair.

20160914_160131 However, before I got married, I often wondered what my husband was going to think about my beloved bonnet.  After all, a bonnet that makes you look like Mother Goose is not exactly the sexiest thing in the world…but, then again, neither is having damaged hair!  Thankfully, my husband never let the bonnet bother him, lol; but for those times when I’m feeling extra romantic, I have discovered a better alternative: a satin or silk pillowcase (that way, I can protect my tresses and preserve my sexy at the same time!)

For the longest time, I had been using (again) a cheap polyester one from the Black hair store…

 

20160206_110000

Those lint balls alone show how gentle this cheap stuff can be on your hair…

20160206_105935

 

…but I decided to invest in a real silk one (from London Ivy Products), and I don’t think I could ever go back- it feels so good!

20160206_105037 20160206_105308 20160206_105540

Also, apparently, sleeping on silk is not only good for your hair, it’s good for your skin, tooso, double-win!   

I believe every queen should protect her crown! Black hair is fragile and therefore requires tender loving care; so, remember to be gentle with your hair, even when you’re in bed, Sleeping Beauty! Avoid cotton and nylon, and treat yourself to some silk or satin- trust me, your hair (and skin) will thank you!

If you’re looking for real satin bonnets, check out: Earthtones Naturals – Satin Bonnets

Or if you prefer silk pillowcases, check out: London Ivy Products – Silk Pillowcases

How do you preserve your beauty while you sleep?