Dealing with Loss

 

Loss of a loved one is something that people handle differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. This post is about shifting your perspective in order help you move on a little bit more gracefully.

This past week was rough for me. Today, marks a year since my grandmother passed.  As the days grew near, I found my heart beginning to fill with bitterness, anger, and pain. Thinking about her death was bringing me to a dark place. Once I got to this point, it was imperative for me to sort through these emotions.

Dealing with death is hard. Undoubtedly, it’s the hardest thing we are faced with in life.  It is something that hits home for all of us.

Death brings on unexplainable emotions. For many, of us these emotions are nostalgic from the loss of other loved ones. We think we’ve gotten over their death, when in actuality we’re bottling up the pain.

Holding on to pain and hurt is easy.  Releasing and learning to manage pain is where true freedom comes from. But, like anything worth having, it takes work.

Rather than being bound to negative emotions, seek love and fight for your happiness.

Easier said than done, right? Trust me I know.

Honestly, I wanted to be angry and bitter about losing my grandmother. Being angry is a scapegoat.  It gives you an excuse to not be held accountable for your actions. Not being held accountable for your actions,  is where problems can arise. This is why fostering these emotions can be detrimental. It will begin to rub off on the people around you. This will create a perpetual  cycle of hurt. Before you know it being ‘in your feelings” will control your actions and thoughts. You will end up talking yourself into darkness.

Your feelings don’t know your future. So, why let them control you and tell you how to live? Be honest with yourself and take control your life. Life goes on and happiness is still attainable even after death.  This is principle is one of the hardest concepts to grasp. The fact that life will go on without your loved one is bittersweet. You want to be happy, but by the same token  you want your loved one to live on.

There is a way to achieve this balance. Choose joy!

You will get through this and come out fully functioning.

Although, your loved has made their transition, think of everything you have to live for. Think about everything good that has come into your life since they’ve passed and filled that void with love.

For me, being blessed with ,not only one,  but two children has given me a reason to live and love life. Yes, I miss my grandmother dearly, but I know she wants me to live out her legacy. At times, it hurts but I can think of more happy times to come.

If you are having a hard time dealing with the death, find a way to live. Be intentional on choosing happiness. Celebrate the good things in your life. Your loved one can live on through your actions and in your heart.

You have strength like no other! Hang in there beloved.

Love,

Ashley

 

 

Continue Reading

HASK Hair : Coconut Milk & Organic Honey Collection Review

I received the Coconut Milk and Organic Honey Collection complimentary of HASK Beauty. All thoughts expressed are all my own.

 

Hey Beloved,

This post is a review of the HASK Beauty Coconut Milk & Organic Honey. This collection is specifically for curly girls, but HASK Hair does have a variety of lines that cater to different hair needs!

HASK Beauty recently launched three new Exotic Oil Collections – one for curls, one for all hair types, and one for blondes. I was sent the curl collection:  Coconut Milk & Organic Honey.  The collection consists of a shampoo, conditioner, and deep conditioner. All the products are free of artificial colors, alcohol, sulfates, and parabens!  Which is great for you natural and holistic product lovers!

To start the review off, I just want to let you all know that CHILD these products smell BOMB! I don’t know about you, but I’m always either in the beauty supply store or down the hair isle smelling ALL the products. For me, a good scent plays a part in whether or not I’m going to purchase the product.

I’m not here for saturating products in my hair that make me want to gag. At the end of a hectic work week, I like to unwind and with a wash day. How can I distress if I’m dealing with stinky products?!

                                                                                 Okay on to the real review: I used the products over the course of one month. So, that consisted of 3 wash days.

For clarification, a wash day is a specific day I set aside to wash, condition, and style my hair. In short, a day dedicated to hair maintenance. Yes, it takes the entire day. Especially, with a toddler who is constantly touching, moving, and tasting products!

I wanted to get a feel for the products before posting my thoughts about them. Below is a breakdown of my thoughts on each product.

Products:

Curl Care Shampoo:  The shampoo was hydrating! It didn’t strip my hair of its natural oils, which is important. Being natural, I’m very picky when it comes to shampoo. I don’t shampoo my hair often (co- wash type of gal), so when I do,  I expect optimal results. A shampoo that is drying (typically full of sulfates and parabens) don’t produce the results that I want.  However, the Curl Care Shampoo wasn’t drying at all. The shampoo eliminated my product build up with ease. It left my hair manageable, soft, and of course clean!

Curl Care Conditioner: Initially, I was skeptical about the conditioner. The consistency of the conditioner through me off. It isn’t as thick as the conditioners I normally purchase. So, I assumed that it wouldn’t do my tresses any justice. But, I was wrong! The Curl Care Conditioner left my hair super hydrated. It left my hair squeaky clean, yet nourished with no additional weight. With any conditioner I use, I always leave it in longer than the suggested time. This method allows the product time to really penetrate your strands.

Curl Care Deep Conditioner: HASK Beauty has a variety of deep conditioners aiming to cater to all hair types. Depending on my hair needs, I’ll either condition or deep condition. Typically, I won’t do both on the same wash day. The Coconut Milk &  Organic Honey deep conditioner was hydrating like the conditioner and shampoo. It has a thicker consistency, which I liked. Most deep conditioners have that thick consistency for a deep treatment and hair repair.

When it comes to hair care I do my own thing. The directions might say ” Leave product on for 10 minutes then, rinse”, well that 10 minutes could easily turn into 10 hours (exaggerating but you get it). I apply the conditioner, put on my conditioning cap, and start doing stuff around the house.  I like to let deep conditioners saturate in my scalp for a while so my hair can really absorb the product. If my time permits, I’ll even add heat for maximum .

The only negative thing I have to say about the deep conditioner is; I wish it was available in a jar or bottle. The packet wasn’t enough for me.

Pricing

Often, I get questions about the prices of my hair products. I wanted to make sure I addressed it in this post. The HASK brand is affordable! The shampoo and conditioner bottles retail for 5.99 each. However with the deep conditioner, you’re looking at spending 2.99 per packet.

Great thing about this line is that it can be found at your local drug stores and even at Ulta Beauty.

Final Thoughts

Each of these products served its purpose well for my hair. This is my first time ever using the HASK brand. Surprisingly, My hair needs were met! I’m impressed with the Coconut milk & Organic Honey collection. The products left my hair feeling hydrated, nourished, and CLEAN!  I would recommend this product to all my curl friends.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

What are your thoughts on HASK products?

 

Continue Reading

Toddler Wash Day Routine

Typically, I wash Luna’s hair once a week. Usually on Friday or Saturday nights depending on our schedule. I try to make sure our wash days don’t fall on the same day because that’s a lot to tackle in one day. Like we would need the entire day: naps, snacks, and breaks included. For this wash day, I decided to use the SoCozy products!

I received the Boing Curl collection from SoCozy. This set includes Boing Curl Shampoo, Conditioner, and Leave in Conditioning Spray.

SoCozy products are salon grade and designed specifically for kids. They are free from parabens, sulfate, phthalates, formaldehyde, synthetic color, gluten, wheat, and nuts. So, these products are extremely allergen friendly.

This is a sponsored post for Brand Backers &  SoCozy. All opinions expressed here are my own! 

Step 1: Shampoo 

I wash Luna’s hair in the tub. But, since she is getting bigger, I may start sitting her in a chair and washing her hair in the sink (salon style) for convenience.

To begin, I prep the tub and make sure that all of our supplies is within reach. I rinse her hair a little to help clarify it.

Next, I shampoo the hair, but only once. Simply because all she rocks is her fro and at this age she doesn’t have extreme product build up.

There isn’t anything on the bottle that states the product is tear- free. So, be mindful of that when you use it. I didn’t want to take any chances, so I took extra precautions.  Make sure that when you rinse the product out, the water falls away from your child face.  Try to keep their eyes dry. This prevents your child from rubbing their eyes, which can cause irritation…leading to fussiness and a shorten wash day.

 

Tip: Never detangle during this stage! Detangling wet or hair that’s only been shampooed can cause breakage!

 

Step 2: Condition

Before applying the conditioner to Luna’s hair, I dry her hair with a t-shirt then apply the conditioner. I detangle her hair some during this stage with a wide tooth comb. This detangle is super quick. I let the conditioner set for about ten minutes. During that time, Luna plays with her bath toys and we sing our bath song! Then we rinse.

The SoCozy conditioner isn’t as fruity as we’re used to, but it does have a faint flowery scent.  To be exact the scent is called “sweet-crème”. It still moisturized her just as well as the other products we use so no complaints.

 

Step 3: Detangle

Detangling your toddler’s tresses can be a little bit of a challenge. As you know, toddlers don’t like to sit for very long.  I like to offer Luna a snack before I begin.

To start, I spray her entire head with the leave-in conditioner. She likes when I massage it into her scalp. It makes her laugh! So, I massage it in, until her hair has soaked up the product some.

Then I section off the hair into three or four parts and clip the hair down to keep them separate (she always manages to take out some clips… all of them).

She took out the clips before I was able to snap the photo!

I use a detangling brush on Luna’s hair. I feel it works better than a regular wide tooth comb. Especially since the bristles are very flexible. The bristles are also different lengths so the tension is being evenly distributed when brushing your hair.

After brushing out each section, I give her a chance stretch and run around before we moisturize.

Tip: Make sure your child’s hair is well saturated with leave-in conditioner before detangling to prevent tears and once again breakage!

 

Step 4: Add Moisture

I use the LOC (liquid, oil, and cream) method on Luna’s hair. I won’t go into details in this post, but I love that method to seal in the moisture in her tresses.

I pop on her bonnet and we’re off to bed!

 Tip: If you child fights the bonnet buy a few satin pillow cases! They serve the same purpose as a bonnet. 

I was pleasantly surprised at the SoCozy products. This was my first time using them, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Even though the products are natural and free of harsh chemicals, I assumed that the products would be drying. I thought they weren’t going to nourish my daughter’s specific hair type. But, SoCozy definitely proved me wrong!

Overall, I really love the SoCozy Boing Curl line. The products served their purpose well!

Continue Reading

Honest Motherhood – mini lesson #1

Motherhood has shown me my resiliency both physically and mentally. No matter how distorted things may seem, I’ve bounced back…and ever so gracefully.

Whenever I find myself surrounded by darkness, one glance at my daughter makes the clouds subside. She is my light. Baby girl radiates so much love and happiness. I can’t pinpoint what I did to deserve her. Apparently, God saw me fit to be trusted with such a beautiful being. Who knew such a small person could have this giant spirit!

My daughter has given me great focus, making our possibilities infinite.

I have been bent & stretched beyond my limits, but I have never broken. Because. of. HER. 

Know the root of your strength.

Take care beloved,

Ashley

Continue Reading

The Comparison Trap

During pregnancy, I often thought about the type of mother I would be.  Would my maternal instincts kick in or would I crumble under pressure?

The uncertainty of motherhood lured me into the comparison trap.

I started comparing myself to other moms, especially those who were close in age. I would “look at” everything they had on their plates and I wanted the same.  At, the time I was more interested in recognition.

Comparison left me distracted. I began doubting my abilities. I thought maybe motherhood wasn’t for me. It was a struggle in the beginning.

I fell victim to the allusion that everything I was going through just pertained to my world.  I felt everyone had it together, but me.  Because I was busy comparing myself to other moms, I missed what was important. In reality, I had achieved a lot more than I gave myself credit for.

One afternoon, I was journaling and I wrote down everything I accomplished so far in motherhood.  I realized I surpassed my breastfeeding goals, attained my bachelor’s degree and I nurtured a happy baby.  At that moment, I had a perspective shift…

I am a damn good mom.

This shift in emotions allowed me to see myself in all my glory.  I was exactly where I needed to be in my life’s journey. There’s nothing more freeing than being happy with who you are even though you still have more growing to do.

What someone has or what their doing is meant for them.  It is specific for their life’s journey. Not you! Comparing your path with someone else’s, will keep you from seeing the future that’s meant for you.

                Below, I’ve complied a few tips to help alleviate the burden of the comparison trap.

Focus on you. When you are focused on what other people are doing you can’t invest time in yourself. You have to be willing to invest in yourself because no one else will. Take time to learn yourself and what you’re good at. Perfect your craft! Don’t ever think that your dreams are invalid. Try to set daily goals.

Surround yourself with supportive and encouraging people. This creates an emotional safety net for you. When you sense negative thoughts are about to arise, reach out to those people. You don’t always have to tell them you’re going through. Just be casual. Most importantly be a friend.

Leave the house! This was a big factor for me. After my daughter was born, I just wouldn’t leave the house. My thoughts consumed me, which affected how I interacted with my new baby. Being at home all the time wasn’t healthy. So I took charge, and forced myself to get fresh air. We went for strolls around the park a few times a week. This helped to clear my head space.

Take a break from social media, from time to time. Yes, social media can be an excellent source of motivation and inspiration, but it can also trigger negative emotions like self-doubt and other inadequacies. Think of your break as a detox. You’re clarifying your mind for the better. Doing this will help to foster peace in your emotional space.

Daily affirmations: “You is beautiful. You is kind. You is smart.”  Write down positive attributes about yourself and read them daily. During the day, if you begin to struggle with comparison, read those notes. I have daily reminders on my phone that remind me of my greatness.  There’s nothing wrong with affirming yourself.  Self-love is the best love!

Know that you are enough. What you have is enough. What you’re doing is enough.  At times, these are some of the hardest concepts to grasp because we think have to have everything together. But, you don’t need to have it all together to be great!

Where ever you are in life, now, isn’t where you will end up. As you grow, you will see the beauty in both your past and present self.

It takes strength, willingness, and consistency to change your thought process. This won’t happen overnight. It’s a slow progression. Be proactive and fight for change.

 

Don’t worry, you got this boo!

Ashley

 

Continue Reading

Dealing With Criticism

In life, you are going to receive criticism (a lot) regardless of your age, gender, or accomplishments.

For me, when I became a mother that’s when I gained my most critics (Hey y’all). Everyone was giving me advice and sending me information. It became overwhelming. Especially, because all this advice was unsolicited. As someone who takes pride in making her own decisions (stubborn just a tad), I began to resent some people for trying to help me. I became defensive, which fostered stress over time.

I decided to take a step back and think about what was being said. This is what I came up with:

There are two types of criticism: positive and negative. Or I look at it as: helpful and hurtful criticism.

I want to address the fact that all criticism stings a bit. But, it’s important to recognized the difference between criticism that is genuine vs. insincere.

Typically, helpful criticism is designed to point out your flaws. But, it gives you a chance to be introspective. This enables you to see the “flaw” for what it really is. You have to determine if this is something detrimental to your life and worth changing in favor of something better. Helpful criticism promotes a healthy space for change.

Negative criticism is just the opposite. It is dismissive and off-putting. This type of criticism is an attempt to magnify your flaws.

When you receive negative criticism, it says more about a person’s own insecurities, than your own inadequacies.  Negative criticism has no constructive value. Some people live off of pointing out the faults of others. It makes them feel better about their own flaws. Do not entertain these people!

Don’t ever allow negativity to cause you to step out of you character.  There have been many times when I wanted to clapback and set a person straight for something they said to me (and I have), but I realized that doesn’t solve a thing. Here I am trying to work on myself, yet I still entertained people whose opinion didn’t matter. Backwards right? We all fall victim to negativity. It’s all about controlling how you react.

Look at criticism as a challenge. Either you can accept the challenge or let it defeat you. Red or Blue pill?

Accepting the challenge consist of internalizing the criticism and letting it shape you into a better person. On the other hand, allowing the challenge to defeat you means you let what was said knock you down.

Always accept the challenge. Whether the criticism be negative or positive you have the ability to perceive it how you want to!  Challenge yourself to channeling negativity energy into positive.  We can’t control what people say, but we can control how we internalize it. Learn to process your emotions more efficiently.

Remember that we are our own harshest critic. If someone says something to you that isn’t in alignment with how you perceive yourself, don’t let it affect you. Easier said than done. We’ve been conditioned are whole lives to think that words don’t hurt. When in reality, they do. You have to recondition yourself into learning how to process malign words.

At times, I struggle with it myself. It takes patience and discernment to decipher between positive and negative criticism.  Once you’re able to see the difference between the two, your whole perspective will change. You’ll be more open to personal growth and you won’t let the negative easily sway you. Criticism is a part of life. Learn to deal with it positively.

Take care of yourself love,

Ashley

 

fullsizerender-3

Continue Reading

Firmoo: Glasses Review

Parenting requires us to make sacrifices, especially financially. Knowing exactly where your money goes is key. You have to learn how to spend money wisely, or budget.

Now with budgeting, there must be cutbacks to gain financial stability and see growth. These cutbacks can either be temporary or permanent. Examine your own financial situation to decide what works best.

For me, I knew that optical care has cost the most over the years. I’ve worn glasses 90% of my life. Most recently, I’ve transitioned into also wearing contacts. Both of these optical necessities can be a hefty expense. Typically, my glasses cost more than contacts. So, I was determined to cut that expense in half.

I opted to purchase glasses online and came across Firmoo.

Firmoo is an online eyeglass store. They offer a variety of glasses both prescription and non-prescription. I decided to purchase a pair and share my experience.

img_1256

Pros: By far, they are better than any pair of glasses I’ve paid for through my insurance. The frames are quality. They are composed of a mixture of sturdy materials. So they are sturdy, which is a promising sign of  longevity! If you’re a regular eyeglass wearer, you know the importance of  having a durable pair of glasses. Not only are the glasses well constructed, they frame my face beautifully. I love the fit of them! The glasses aren’t heavy, so no sliding.  Best of all they are CHEAP! Firmoo’s glasses range in price from $19-39.  The low prices don’t compromise the quality of the glasses by any means.

Cons: The amount of time it took my glasses to come.

It took 30 days (the maximum estimated arrival time) for them to come. I assume this had a lot to do with the fact that my glasses are prescription and not for fashion. According to Firmoo, there is a longer processing time for prescription orders.

img_1241
Maintenance essentials included with a purchase: case (hard and soft), cleaning cloth, keychain screwdriver, and two sets of replacement nose pads

Customer Service: Firmoo’s customer service was excellent. As stated on their website, they will get back to you within 24-hours of contacting them. There are email contact guidelines on their website. Firmoo suggests that you follow the guidelines in order to be contacted within the 24-hour period. However, I didn’t initially follow those guidelines and I was still contacted within 24 hours. Since my order took longer than expected, I contacted Firmoo multiple times. Each time a customer service representative reassured me with the status of my order. This was comforting especially with the lengthy wait period.

Verdict: Even though it took my glasses a long time to arrive, I am overall extremely content with my purchase. The glasses exceeded my expectations. They have an impeccable fit and are all around well-constructed. Firmoo also included maintenance essentials for upkeep, which was a nice added bonus. I am definitely going to purchase more glasses from Firmoo.

glassespicedit

The frames I have are #S8841 in the Tortoise print. These are unisex frames!

 

Continue Reading

Getting Name Brand Products for Less!

sheamositure

 

I love keeping up with the latest hair products just like the next girl. But once motherhood called, those luxury items had to be put on hold. I still had desires to slay, so I had to figure out how to budget.

I turned to couponing! Every Sunday, I get the coupon ads from the paper and cut out items I plan to purchase. Sunday is when stores run their weekly ads, so it’s a perfect day to see what’s going to be on sale.

Now, with couponing manufactures don’t release the same coupons every week. This means you have to keep an eye out for “rare” coupons i.e. SheaMoisture. So, checking the paper weekly. There’s tons of websites that release the coupons that will be in the Sunday paper on Saturday. Just make sure you find a credible source.

How I got my products for the low low: I waited until they were on sale to use my coupons.  Research before making a purchase entails of waiting for sales.

Walgreens had all SheaMoisture Products on sale for BOGO (buy one, get one) half off. On top of that, some of the products were on clearance.

I chose to only purchase items that were on clearance in order to get the best bang for my buck.  The clearance price of these particular products was marked down to half of the original price. In addition to the store sale, I had SheaMoisture coupons I saved from the previous month. Then, I had a SheaMoisture coupon which I printed from Coupons.com #winning.  From two coupons, I had a total of 5$ to save off of my SheaMoisture purchase.

The OGX Argan Oil was marked half off of the original price. I didn’t have a coupon. But I like the product, a little goes a long way, so I decided to just make the purchase. For three SheaMoisture full-size products and the OGX Argan Oil my total came to 10.64$ (tax included)! Come through coupons!

  • A few tips: if you’re buying products that are significantly lower than the retail price, don’t only purchase one! Treat yoself Buy a few items at a time. Build up your supply when the price is low.
  • When you see a product on sale/ clearance, purchase it then. Don’t wait! Sometimes, items are only marked for quick sale.
  • After a sale or mark down occurs the item may be increased back to its original retail value. This could be over the span of a few days or a month. There is no way of deciphering this so make the purchase when you feel you’ve found the best deal.

Keep in mind coupons expire. Every expiration date is different. Be mindful while you wait for a sale or price reduction.

Couponing can be tedious *Kanye shrugs*, but it’s well worth your time. You’ll quickly notice money you save. Just do a little research.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Stride Rite: Soft Motions Review

I received these shoes complimentary from Stride Rite for review purposes. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Looking for shoes for toddlers can be strenuous. They aren’t quite able to fully express the comfort level of their shoes.  It’s hard to tell, judging by the looks of their tiny feet. Maybe I’m just suffering from new parent syndrome. But, picking shoes at this age isn’t easy.

It’s important to pick a comfortable pair of shoes for your little one. Why not chose a company that specifically caters to your toddlers needs? #stepyourchildsshoegameup

strideriteig2

Stride Rite shoes are designed with your little one in mind. Soft Motion shoes are specifically built for first steps. These shoes are perfect for littles ones who are just learning to walk. Although, my Luna Bug has been walking for a few months now she still hasn’t perfected quite the technique. Soft Motion shoes did her a great justice! The footpads of the shoe are made out of memory foam for targeted comfort while your little one explores. The sole of the shoe is flexible yet it still provides a perfect amount of traction. This makes it much easier for little toes grip which increases overall balance. Now, I’m not saying your child won’t fall wearing these shoes (they will), but having a good pair of shoes will help them on their walking journey.

Another thing I love about these shoes is: they are durable. Toddlers/ kids are rough on shoes! Who knew tiny humans could cause so much damage (new parents you gone learn #ilearnt). Getting a quality pair of shoes is a must. Luna Bug has worn these a few times and they are still up to par. She’s able to walk and run(she does more running than walking) with ease. Not to mention, she doesn’t look stiff in these shoes in comparison to other shoes I’ve purchased.  I love them!

The colors and sweater like texture of shoes were on point for fall.

fullsizerendernew

If you are a parent looking for a stylish pair of quality shoes for your little one, try a pair of the Soft Motion shoes by Stride Rite.

 img_0902edited

I chose the Quinn suede booties!

 

 

Continue Reading

New Beginnings

Writing has become a thing I’ve grown to love. For a few years now, I’ve been writing in my leisure time. But I’ve never had the heart to share any of my work (besides articles I wrote for the university paper).

Motherhood has sparked a new space of creativity for me. Often I get asked questions in regards to motherhood, so I thought I’d share my journey on a larger platform. We are all natural born storytellers. It is one of our purposes in life; to share our struggles and experiences with others. This creates healthy space for healing and growth. You never know who you will help just by sharing your life’s journey

Naturally, I’m an introvert (so I’m good on people) and being in my own space is really where I thrive. Putting myself out there wasn’t appealing to me, it was never # goals. However, the dreams and visions I have imperatively require me to step out of my introverted being and into who I was created to be.

I kept coming up with reasons why didn’t put action to my goals. These reasons became nothing more than excuses because they carried no weight to them. Making excuses promotes a perpetual cycle of inaction. Falling into this cycle makes it harder for you to see your objectives.

Honestly, there is no perfect time to step out on your dreams. Stop waiting for an ideal circumstance to execute a dream. After a while you grow tired of watching everyone pursuing their dreams and you’re still waiting on the perfect condition to cultivate yours.  Just step out. Once you’re able to step out of your comfort zone and pursue one of your goals; the hard part is over. This me taking the first step.  So I give you: Mommy & Moon.

pic2new

 

 

Continue Reading