Posts Categorized: Self-Defined Series

April 9, 2013

Self Defined Natural | Addicted to Cyn

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It’s been a while since I introduced you guys to a gal that is self defined, amazing, inspiring and smart to boot! I’ve been a loyal reader for what seems like eons, and was thrilled to include her in this month’s Natural Hair section of ESSENCE Magazine. So this week we’re sailing on new wings and saying hello to new hair + style crush, Cynthia of Simply Cyn.

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Congrats on the success of your blog! When did you realize you had such loyal readers?

Its funny in the beginning, you wonder if they’ll keep coming back, you wonder if anyone is really reading, but there’s been so much love and support, also a lot of mutual admiration with other bloggers. Sometimes I’ll get the sweetest comments and messages or maybe even get recognized on the train and then it hits me. It’s all been a very enriching experience.

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 Where did your love for handmade and all things Etsy stem from?

Etsy was like a drug during my wedding (hence my blogname), I was on that site so much. So many lovely things, handmade to boot. I don’t have one crafty bone in my body- maybe I have a little craft but it only occupies my pinky, that’s how little. So it was really about my admiration for these artists and truly thinking they needed more exposure and that I would do what little I could to give them some additional shine.

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It takes some women a few years to hit their “style stride.” Where did inspiration spring up for you? 

I would say it started on the streets of NYC. I’d watch and be so envious of the style I would see and how some girls could really put things together. It moved online to bloggers and easy access to tons of cool street style pics. I also love magazines …so today, its a combination of everything I see. I pick and choose what I like, until I create something I like, something I’m comfortable in, something that’s more me.

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How would you describe your style aesthetic today?

Most of the time its pretty laidback, chill. I have never been able to put a label on it. I almost think someone from the outside looking in might be able to describe it better. For me, it’s simply what works.

Any similarities from your day job to your blogging ‘job’?

Not in the least. I’m an attorney. I’m in court on anything from trusts and estates litigation to medical malpractice etc. There is absolutely no overlap between both worlds. When I’m not in court, if I’m just in my office, I can jazz my style up more to be less stuffy.

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Where do you source inspiration for your outfit posts?

First my closet.  I just stare at what I have and see how it can come together. Other bloggers, their instagram feeds, (beg, borrow, steal ideas haha). Magazines: they help me know whats in stores, whats coming soon.

How does being natural fit into your overall sense of style?

Being natural for me has been about acceptance. Accepting who I am as I am. I know that its not that deep for everyone and it doesn’t have to be. But for me, I became much more confident and it shows and I think it all started with me saying, stop trying so hard to change who you are. It used to be so frustrating for me because my natural hair’s texture would fight back so hard when I used relaxers. There was a point where I needed a relaxer every few weeks, then my hair would fall out and I was miserable and I just hated everything. Style has a lot to do with being happy, comfortable and confident. There’s a reason why two people can wear the exact same outfit and you get two different outcomes.

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Current covet list? 

BEAUTY: I keep makeup simple but I really just got into skin care, like proper skin care, moisturizing, serums, exfoliating etc.  I am in love with TARTE products and splurged on their Maracuja Oil which I love. A little goes a long way, that bottle is probably gonna last me forever. But now I wanna try all the other Face Oils. The Marula Oil and Fresh Seaberry Oil. Someone told me you can find some less expensive and just as great brands on Amazon, havent been able to check that out yet.

HAIR: I’m probably the last person on this but  I intend to finally try Oyins Juice and Berries. Also while I liked Shea Moisture hair color I just used, I’m also tempted to try Garnier’s new Olia (60% Olive Oil) hair color. Reviews have been mixed and color is always scary but its only hair- right??

FASHION: I love designer collaborations and hope they keep them coming. Not every item or collaboration is going to be a success but usually you can find one or two really great items. I’m due to swing by Kohls (never thought I’d say that) to check out Derek Lams line.

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 Can you share your idea of the self-defined woman today?

She’s like a guided missile, not distracted or detracted by those around her. She is comfortable in her choices whether they bring good or bad. She accepts her faults and works her pluses.  She may not know exactly what she wants but she tries. I don’t think the self-defined woman is about being perfect or right or even successful in the eyes of others. It’s the woman who can say without worrying about judgment (cos we as women tend to care a little too much about what everyone else thinks), this is my path, this is what I’m doing, this is what I’m about.

Favorite quote you’d take with you anywhere. 

There’s so many, but one I try to hold on to each day, especially on tough days : “Live, Laugh, Love”

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Make sure to check out this month’s issue of ESSENCE Magazine to catch more of Cynthia and her favorite natural hair picks!

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December 27, 2011

SELF DEFINED NATURAL – APRIL!!

With 2011 quickly coming to a close and most of us reflecting on prospects of 2012, I couldn’t think of a better person to exemplify how we should all live our lives no matter the season or place. I came across April’s blog several weeks back and immediately was drawn to her positive spirit, strong desire to experience life’s adventures on her own terms…but most of all her willingness to share those adventures so that other’s could feel inspired enough to create a path to their own journeys. A brown girl traveling cross continents is oddly treated as a rarity these days, but it’s always exciting to see those who defy those tired standards.

Where did the idea for The Absolute Travel Addict come from? How do you maintain the passion for what you do with the blog?

After deciding not to go to get an MBA, I really started to work on changing my mindset and pursing my interests and passions. I started traveling more and more. Once I got back from one trip, I was already thinking about where I would go next. I was constantly searching for great fares and how to travel for free using loyalty points and mile. It’s an addiction, hence the name Absolute Travel Addict. Every amazing experience and person I meet on the road and everyone who reaches out with questions or shares how I’ve encouraged them to do something new is motivation to keep doing this.

Tell us how you discovered your sense of self while traveling? When did it happen?

It would definitely be the 6 weeks I spent in South Africa in 2005. I was on an independent research trip and spent my time traveling around the country learning more about the impact of the Bantu Education system on students interested in engineering education and careers. In South Africa I reconnected with who I was at the core and really internalized how similar we are as a human race. It made me fully realize the power I have as an individual and potential I was yet to harness. And though it sounds cliché, this trip was another reminder of all the many things I am thankful for and often take for granted.

What’s been the reaction from foreigners while traveling? Are they surprised?

It really depends on where I travel. It’s not uncommon to get stares and photos snapped when they think you don’t see them. Thankfully I’ve never been grabbed or pulled on, which seems to happen quite frequently in some places. The worst stares for me surprisingly were in Buenos Aires, Argentina. And I don’t really know why because there were people that looked liked me that live there. Maybe it was the hair? Who knows? It’s sad that many people are surprised to find out I’m American. They assume I’m not because I’m traveling outside of the United States, a black female, usually travel alone and not afraid to connect with people.

Other than lugging around clothes and basic essentials, what of importance do you carry with you while traveling? Why?

I typically have my Flip cam, Nikon DSLR, Droid 2 Global and laptop because I’m somewhat of a tech nerd. I like to stay connected and try to share my experiences in real time. My phone’s GPS has helped me navigate foreign cities and helped me get un-lost a handful of times. I also keep a small notebook to jot down thoughts or notes about specific place I visit or person I meet.

What aspect of living this life brings you the most joy?

It absolutely warms my heart to connect with new and interesting people on a truly personal level. People not concerned with where I went to school, what care I drive, where I work or how much money I make (or don’t make). It is amazing to see how much you have in common and how easily you can connect with someone who speaks a different language and has lived a life which seems to be a complete 180 from yours.

Any advice you’d give to women who aren’t yet motivated to step out & see the world?

If you don’t have a passport, get one now! You never know when an opportunity to travel will arise and you should be ready. I recently won a trip to the Bahamas and since I had my passport, I was ready to go 2 days after notification of winning. A passport is good for 10 years, so you have plenty of time to pick a destination, plan your trip, save and go! Having a passport and getting out and exploring the world can be an amazing and life altering experience. And, given the competition in the global market place, having international experience makes you more marketable professionally.

Any favorite discoveries/revelations made while traveling?

One of the biggest revelations is that I really prefer to travel alone. It’s really difficult to find people who like to travel the same way you do. I found myself wandering off from friends to do things I wanted that others weren’t interested in. For more of my revelations while traveling, check out my list of 7 travel truths.

What’s your source of inspiration for being natural (going natural)?

I have really fine hair. It grows long, but when chemically treated it just looks a sad, flat mess. I would keep it cut short and layered to bring body and volume. I finally just decided to stop relaxing my hair and enjoy its natural state. There are so many natural woman who have inspired me to keep going, especially the natural hair bloggers and bloggers out there and amazing stylists Aliah at 2-SWAG in Atlanta and Carole at Mahogany Hair Revolution in Los Angeles.

What styles do you rely on while traveling? Favorite products?

When traveling, I typically started with some style of twists and end up rocking a twist out and wash and go if the trip is extended. On my last trip to Jamaica, I had my twists interlocked at the roots and patiently waiting for my air to loc. As of late Shea Moisture Retention shampoo and the Coconut hold and shine moisture mist are all I use on my hair when on the road.

Explain your idea of the self-defined woman today & where do you hope to be in five years?

I think Maya Angelou sums up my idea of a self-defined woman in one of my favorite quotes.

A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination, prepared to be herself and only herself. ~Maya Angelou

Fives years from now, I hope to be a woman totally in harmony with my spirit, still exploring the world and making a difference in other people’s lives.

 Favorite quote that’s made an impact on your life?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Any projects, collaborations you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

I’m a huge supporter of the Passport Party Project, an initiative started by Tracey Friley of OneBrownGirl.com that gifts passports to teen girls ages 11-16. I would encourage you all to check out the site and see how you can help give girls a world view.

This year should be another great year in travel. I’m excited to spend the first quarter of the year abroad and have a few projects that I’m working on to help people set and achieve their travel dreams. For more information, you can subscribe or connect with me through the following:

 

December 5, 2011

NEW SERIES – THE SELF DEFINED NATURAL

So this week marks the beginning of a new series here on the blog that I’m really excited to get started! “SELF-DEFINED” will bring about the minds of some of the most creative, daring, inspiring women accomplishing amazing things in their lives. And to kick things off I decided to re-introduce a woman that I’ve come to know through yummy brunches, inspiring natural hair meetups and…. none other than Twitter several months back. Meet Sheena.

Introduce us to Sheena in one sentence

“I am a being; a spirit; a soul…manifesting in many forms, usually via creative, sensual & spirited ways.”

Tell us how you came upon your natural hair journey

“I came upon my journey out of curiosity, frustration and a desire to try something else. I felt as if I was putting too much energy into maintaining straight hair and I wanted a more authentic, natural approach. It took me awhile to start wearing my hair natural but eventually I did. This year marks my 7th year natural after that initial BC.”

How would you describe your relationship with your hair today compared to when you first BC’d?

“When I first BC’d the connection I had with my hair was one of trepidation. I was scared. I was curious but I was very nervous. Natural hair was all new to me and I didn’t fully understand what was going on. These days, I know my hair. I know what works and doesn’t work. I know exactly what to give. It can be similar to having a relationship with a person. When you first meet, it’s a new discovery and you kind of approach it carefully. But after 7 years of knowing someone or something, you get it, you understand it and it’s much easier to relate to. Even still, 7 years later…I make new discoveries and that’s fun as well.”

What sets this BC apart for your other experiences so far

“This BC was different for a number of reasons. One, I filmed the whole thing. (There is a 4 part mini series on my youtube channel) I have no record of the two BC’s before. Two, I was emotionally in a different place. With my first BC, it was mainly out of frustration. With my second BC it was out of anger. With this BC, it was just because. I was ready for something different. I wanted to try a short cut. I wanted some of my time back.”

Has rockin a natural/short cut influenced other aspects in your life (friends, loved ones…etc.)

“I have more time for friends & loved ones because I’m not in the bathroom doing a 3 hour two strand twist. LOL. The only thing I noticed and this may be TMI for your audience is that it influences my sex life. Its one less thing a man can grab in the moment and I do miss that little tug. OH…and it has changed the way I pole dance. A lot of emphasis is put on hair…playing in it, flipping it, hiding behind it and I can’t do that. So I move differently. I’m a more in your face dancer and rather than my hair, I let other parts of my body take the lead.”

Let’s talk hair products! what are you currently using, loving for your Fro?

“I use nature’s gate shampoo & conditioner most times. I’ve also been making my way through the little bottles I’ve collected from hotels during my travels. Since my hair is short, I feel as if I can experiment more. So I’ve been using a lot of those random but really good smelling shampoo/conditioners that come from hotels. (Takes up less space in my bathroom too!) The only other thing I use is a diy leave in conditioner that I spray on daily.”

What does it love now, compared to it’s longer days…

“I think my hair loves the independence of not being micro-managed. I joke but perhaps that’s true. When my hair was longer I had to take extreme care of it. Detangling took FOREVER. Twisting it took a long time. I needed to wear a bonnet at night. All these things were taking up time and energy. Whereas now, I really don’t think about my hair and on most days I spend two minutes or less in it. I LOVE THAT and I think if my hair could talk, it would cosign on that.”

Any creative projects you’re currently working on?

“I think the question is more…what am I NOT working on. I am one of the guides of The Goddess Life Community launching in January where my focus will be Feminine Empowerment and Sensuality. I was just selected as one of the 17 performers for the 1st New York Pole Showcase happening in January.  I’m working with one of my creative muse friends on launching a new blog all about the wonderful world of powerful siren women! I’m studying & researching so as to launch an ecourse & workshop series on sexuality, sensuality & spirituality. I’m supposed to be a contributing guest editor to CrazyDopeTastic.com via The Art Initiative but I’m having challenges getting the artist to meet deadlines.  I’ve started planning C.R.E.A.T.E. 2011. It will be the second “artist retreat” that I’ve done. (The one this year ROCKED!) I’m also in the middle of working on a viral marketing campaign with a MAJOR company with my friend Hanksterchen & Denactor on youtube.  Any who, we have five cities under our belt and the project is being pitched to other markets. I can’t wait till its live and I can actually tell everyone the full details.”

What matters to you most in life right now?

“Authenticity matters most to me. Freedom, expression, and creativity rank up there too. But above all else, authenticity is of the utmost importance to me.”

Describe your beauty perspective today and what that means to you / how that ties into your daily living practices.

“I adhere to the dictionary’s definition of beauty and not our many cultural definitions of it. Beauty is a quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind via sensory manifestations, meaningful designs or something else. I don’t focus on beauty. If something pleases me, then it pleases me. I don’t attach much meaning to it but I appreciate what gives me pleasure. Beauty isn’t tied to other qualities that mean more to me such as wisdom, intellect, understanding, open mindedness and such. Beauty ties into my daily living practice in the sense that I like to experience what pleases me. So if I think a flower is beautiful, then I want to see it. Its really that simple to me. It may not be what our cultural understanding focuses on but it is what it is for me.”

Where can our readers find you on the web?

“You can find me at sheenalashay.com , TWITTER or on YOUTUBE. I use those three most often.”

December 2, 2011

Happenings & Natural Hair Events

Happy Friday! I know it may not seem so, but it’s been a pretty hectic week around these parts. I quietly blame it on the holiday season…in between traveling home & back (6 am flights are thee worst!) to increased volume of work at the day job, I’ve been trying to keep the balance along with the sanity. This weekend will find me indulging a bit in a few Black Friday purchases that have just started to trickle in. Managed NOT to go over board this year, though scored some new goodies that have been on the ‘get’ list for a while.

Above is a sneak peak of a NEW series unveiling next week! I wanted to bring a fresh approach to the blog and thought a long time about incorporating interviews of some of our fellow naturals…but kept thinking a different spin would make it more worthwhile & interesting. “Self-Defined” felt like the right fit simply because it’s my vision of what all natural haired femmes emulate and strive for. Soooo, in the coming weeks we’ll have an introduction to a handful of ladies that truly inspire.

In the meantime, there are just a TON of awesome events strewn in between now and the end of the year to keep us not only inspired but mingling & having an awesome time with a bevy of beautiful naturals!

I’ll be in attendance next week along with fellow curlfriends & bloggers at this awesome mixer put on by Curly Girl Collective. If you missed the last event here in NYC (as did I…boo), this gathering is not to be missed! Click here or on the above link to RSVP.

Looking to make it a complete night? The Shops over at Bryant Park are hosting a SheaMoisture Hair Event sponsored by NaturallyCurly.com.

The Shops are a great treat, and not just for the tourists that tend to overpopulate the streets, but even folks like moi who’ve grown up in these parts who genuinely look forward to sipping a hot cup of somethin on a chilly night while watching ice skaters on the makeshift pond…and Shopping! There are just sooo many lovely handmade treats to choose from, I implore you to check it out!

Now, I know many of these happenings are centralized in NY, but if you’re in the Chicago area there’s an event taking place next week put on by BGLH. For more info, check out this awesome article put together by Cassidy detailing the going’s on of natural hair events this December!

The holidays really are the busiest time of year…no doubt. But my absolute necessity is indulging in the spirit of it all. Not for nothing…but I abhor crowds, pushers and shovers who think scoring a toy at 75% off is the true meaning of the holidays. Eh…!

Happy Weekend All;)!