Thoughts, Travels, & Pretty Things

Beauty Blaze: How Clear Ultra Shea Deep Nourishing Mask Fixed My Whole Life

I’m a longtime subscriber and fierce practitioner of the school of technique when it comes to the realm of beauty. The most high-end goods can fail you, while that wallet-friendly budget finds can elevate your entire hair care game. It all boils down to how well you know your hair, and how keen you are on styling and product application. Master this, and you might be able to pull off the perfect twist-out with a jar of molasses.

Now that the general formalities (a.k.a. a briefing of my life as a hair and product junkie) are out of the way, allow me to introduce you to a product that has taken my hair from flop to fab.


I received the Clear Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy Ultra Shea Deep Nourishing Treatment Mask months ago, but I just started using it in June. Blame it on the name (why is it so gosh darn long?), and the fact that it doesn’t tease the typical natural hair product ingredients on the label, but still, this is magic in a bottle.

The texture is thick enough, but not heavy. With a base of shea it melts into your hair and instantly transforms it into a bush of health and luxurious-ness.

I use it once a week, but I’ve been contemplating upping the ante because it’s just that good.

After washing and conditioning my hair in the shower, I apply a copious coating and cover my strands with a plastic cap for 30 minutes.

The results are richly moisturized hair for at least 5 days.

How many times have you made an illegal turn? #SandraBland

Sandra-Bland-SuicideAround this time last year I made an illegal turn. It was about 2 a.m. in the morning; bleary-eyed and not paying attention, I just wanted to get home and take my shoes off. I accidentally turned out from the left lane and went over two lanes to the right. Since I was driving slow, I tried to swerve my car back into my lane before the officer hiding in the gas station noticed me, but it was too late.

I was pulled over 5 seconds later, not even a block away from my house. I apologized to the officer and told them that I was coming home from work. I told the officer my occupation and how I had a long night. None of it mattered. The incident left me with a fine and a few points on my license, but I was able to sleep in my own bed that night.

Lucky me, I landed the cop desperate to meet a quota, instead of one who rather a proud sister laying cuffed and bloodied on the street.

Sandra Bland was supposed start a new position at her Alma mater soon, but she was pulled over, arrested, and died in jail.

The dash-cam video displayed a strong, knowledgeable, and alert woman, unafraid to stand up for herself. The officer yanked and yelled, but like a modern day freedom fighter, Bland refused to be moved or discouraged. The medical examiner has already ruled her death a suicide by hanging, but all those who have marched on the front lines, and even those who’ve cheered from the side lines, know that Bland died a hero.

As the investigation process on what really happened in that small cell gets underway, it is crucial that the work of the Black Lives Matter movement be elevated. While not reducing the progress made behind previous incidents including Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, and others; all hands must be on deck if we truly want equality and justice to be universal.

A photo posted by Brad Walrond (@bradwalrond) on

She went to an HBCU; I went to an HBCU. She was a member of a black greek lettered organization (Sigma Gamma Rho), and so am I (Delta Sigma Theta). Bland and all the other victims of police brutality deserve more. Over the last year I have changed jobs twice, flown out of the country three times, and moved into a new place — but had I suffered the same fate as Bland, none of what I accomplished would be possible. As the older sister of two black men, I’ve always been partial to their struggles, often overlooking my own. They’ve both successfully made it out that “danger zone” of adolescence and young adulthood, and I’ll admit; I got comfortable. With the unfortunate reminder that these events can happen to educated women, who are literally on their way to accept an offer for a new job, it’s an eye-opening event that hits close to home.

The last Facebook profile picture that Bland will ever upload was a meme that plainly reads, “Now legalize being black in America.”

So, when will we?

How I Racked Up 12 Passport Stamps With My Extreme Fear of Flying


In between the envy-inducing snaps on exotic shores and obligatory check-ins from airports all around the world, I have been hiding a deep, dark secret: I hate flying.

My first plane ride was from New York City to Upstate New York with my two cousins and my uncle, and I remember the experience being surprisingly pleasant. The short 2-hour flight remained smooth and unchallenged from any turbulence the whole way. Aside from our “long” wait to board (in essence, any wait is long for a 6-year-old), I can only remember the joy of tearing open a foiled package of Planters salted peanuts.

It would be another 15 years before I boarded another plane again. The treacherous events from 9/11, the idea that someone would be evil enough to hi-jack and crash a plane into a building, was enough to keep me grounded. On top of that scary prospect, I never enjoyed being way up in the air — whether it’s on a roller coaster, ascending a skyscraper via elevator, or 30,000 feet up over water and land on a fast-moving plane.

I was forced to take a flight from New York to North Carolina for my sophomore year of college alone, and, naturally, I cried like a baby. Since that point on I became a BFF to the open road, and would drive 10 hours from the South to the North whenever I wanted to get home.

So how did I get from being a petrified chicken when it came to flying to now owning 12 — and soon to be 14 — passport stamps? Sorry to disappoint if you assumed a magical pill was somehow involved (though a few sips of alcohol have been known to help), but I still suffer from anxiety, and how severe it gets varies from flight to flight.

Puerto Plata DR Vacation

My first international trip was to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic in 2009. (Ed. Note: This was obviously before all the recent immigration turmoil surfaced.)

I was scared shit-less. After a five-hour flight, I landed and the world did not end. In fact, the world got better. There were people in the airport, clamoring to service me, grabbing my luggage and asking me if I needed a ride to my resort. For a New York City girl who couldn’t hail down a yellow taxi with ten $100 bills, this was a welcome luxury that was worth all the anxiety. When I reached my hotel I was greeted with a refreshing beverage and my bags were taken up to my room. The next few days would be spent tasting wonderful foods, seeing unique animals, going on water adventures, and getting to know the Dominican culture. From that moment on I was addicted to the travel life.

A photo posted by JetBlue (@jetblue) on

I suffer the most anxiety during take-off and all the moments before reaching that cruise-control zone of 30,000 feet. Basically, for the first 30 minutes I am praying to God fervently and breathing deeply. I grab a book, and try to read as much as possible to get my eyelids nice and heavy. I don’t touch coffee or tea because the caffeine will keep me up. If I’m lucky enough to score the coveted window seat, then I shut that sucker tight because a wing flying at 500 mph is not a sight I want to see. After I wake up from that long “book nap” I try to entertain myself with hour-long TV shows or movies on the flight. Each episode watched is a leg closer to the end of the long journey. Whenever I get really nervous, I remember the pilots are trained to keep the plane up in the air.

But mostly how I tackle anxiety is by understanding that even in my daily life I don’t have control. I could step out into the street and get hit by a bus, or have a freak accident in my bathtub. There is no predicting when our time will come, so it’s best to enjoy every minute of life right now.

So here it is: if you have a fear of flying, please, get over it. The world is waiting out there ready for your to explore it. Check out the pyramids in Egypt; see the Mayan ruins in Mexico; or what about Stonehenge? Don’t let transportation stand in between your ability to go out there and see what else the world has to offer.

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