where have you been all my life?

She’s gone blonde.

Yes, dear reader, after years and years on the darker side of the color wheel, I decided to make a big Year of 40 change and go blonde. My hair is now a honey blonde hue and I love it something awful. Initially after the coloring, as you can see in some of the pics above, it had more of a reddish-blonde shade as a result of my red color before and the repeated lifts to get all the red out. These days, it’s definitely more honey and closer to the shade I was looking for. And I plan on going lighter! Now that I’ve learned that going blonde won’t make me look like a dancer of some sort of cheesy Vegas revue, the blonde is my oyster.

And let’s chat about that for a moment. Upon seeing my hair, my sister said the following: “Why haven’t you done this your whole life?!” Other friends also asked why I had never experimented with a lighter color before. You know me: hair experimentation has never been an issue for me. But sporting dark hair as a woman of color was most definitely a safe choice. I couldn’t imagine my brown skin against an even lighter color. (Even bright red was far more safer in my mind than anything lighter.) Now I’ve been reminded that my brown skin is beautiful against any backdrop. We hold ourselves back, even in tiny, seemingly insignificant ways, don’t we? But none of that anymore. Embrace change, embrace newness, embrace the blonde. Because…

tracee

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Fabu Fashion: Tasty Weekends.

How was your weekend, wherever you are?

Mine was delicious. Not only because of the food I ate (and yeah, I keep eating like my metabolism is 16 years old and not close to a brand new decade; we will discuss later), but because Texas gave us two beautiful, sunny, warm, breezy days that were just delectably good. With the bipolarity around here, you take what it gives and when it’s fantastic, you engage in praise hands and enjoy it immensely. (Knowing that in a week or too, monsoons will likely be a-coming…) Here’s what I wore:

Saturday. Brunch with some of the lovely ladies in my life. Two good friends of mine co-hostessed about 30 of us at a wonderful restaurant in our local area called Tupelo Honey (doesn’t the name just evoke visions of lemonade and wide verandas??), where we talked and laughed and reconnected and enjoyed the moments given to us. As usual, I had no idea what to wear; I did envision a long summer dress and pearls because, Saturdayagain, Tupelo Honey, but decided against that when a friend mentioned that she planned on wearing jeans. So jeans it was. I paired my boyfriend jeans with a blouse, blazer, and black heels. (See the photo; sadly, you can’t see the heels but trust that they were bomb, mmkay?)

Jeans and Blazer: Old Navy
Blouse: Somewhere I don’t recall

Sunday. I had the pleasure of attending a spiritual conference this past Sunday, and it was certainly the faith-strengthening boost I needed. What I wore wasn’t the most important aspect of the day, of course, but looking my best was still part of the plan. Regarding what I wore: I shopped in my closet. Huzzah…

sundayReal quick: the skirt had pockets. Don’t ask me while I held my hands that way when my skirt had pockets. Le sigh. But pockets! Yes!

Blazer (navy blue): Girl, I can’t remember
Blouse: goodness, see above. I think Dress Barn? Years ago?
Skirt: New York & Company
The shoes of life: Jessica Simpson, from Macy’s

Didja notice something different with my hair?

I cut it!

Yes, I was growing it out. Yes, I planned on holding on. But y’all: the scissors and the long for change are just too powerful. I detailed my haircut journey in my latest submission for The Maria Antoinette. When it goes live, I’ll link it here and we’ll talk about the cut in depth. Just know that I’m very happy with it and the myriad of styles that came along my way. And that was the point. Variety continues to spice up my life. Cue the music.

How was your weekend? Was it delish?

“when you gonna make up your mind?”

nora

Confession: I lost a bit of myself in 2017.

I think it happens to every woman. Here and there, pieces of who we are, good pieces, at that, begin to crumble at our feet. The sources of that quiet, subtle destruction are many. Discouragement, lack of confidence, heartbreak, loss, pain, unhappiness–so, so many things. Womanhood is hard. If you’re a woman, you know what I’m talking about. We struggle. We weep. We bleed. Of course, this is the human experience, isn’t it? Every human being endures. Every human being has to fight to hold on. Sometimes I do wonder if there seems to be an extra layer of things to fight for when you’re a woman. Maybe our emotions get the best of us. Maybe it’s biological. I don’t know.

2017 was an interesting year of womanhood for me. Instead of going into the specifics of that journey and all the things I experienced, I want to talk about what I learned and continue to learn from those experiences, as we’re only weeks into 2018 and a new year doesn’t necessarily mean a ton of changes have been irrevocably made. Here are three things I now know for sure.

Protect your heart. A friend once gave me this piece of advice. The heart has many chambers, he said. Know which ones to open and which ones to keep closed.  It’s important to protect both your heart and the energy around it. Because people are powerful. Sometimes we open a chamber without really wanting to, only because we’ve been stupefied and transfixed into action. Know the people around you. Resist them if you need to. Let them in only if they deserve to be there. (I don’t diminish the excitement that comes from meeting someone who seems like they’ll be good for your heart. Maybe they are. Maybe not. Exercise caution.) There were times in 2017 that I didn’t listen to my intuition. That I forced feelings that, deep down, weren’t there. It’s all related to the heart. Protect it however you can. It doesn’t need a suit of armor, but it needs a lock and key.

Protect your ‘no.’ One of the most brilliant, thought-provoking statements I’ve ever heard is the following: No is a complete sentence. It fell by the wayside for me a bit in 2017, this ability to say no and mean it and allow that to be a viable answer. Sometimes I said yes when I didn’t want to. Sometimes I found myself qualifying my no. I’m getting back to protecting my adult right to choose if I’m going to do something or not. You may be accused of not wanting to try new things, of being scared, of not being open-minded. Sure. But determine those things for yourself, dear reader. I’m all for suggestions, but I’m also all for honoring the rights of others, myself included.

Protect your you. Ever mess up royally, just full of mistakes, and then start to call your own self every objectionable thing in the book? It’s intense. It’s not beating yourself up. It’s beating yourself up and then some. You become every villain, every ounce of ineptitude, every horrible thing. Look. 2017 was hard, you guys. I found myself going about 600 paces back when it came to my personal insistence on building myself up. It was very much the opposite: there were times when I verbally and mentally pushed myself so far down…it was just incredible. Protect your you. It’s a bit trite and treacly to say, but I’m saying it anyway: the value you bring to anything is immeasurable. Even if something implodes, you were part of it. Just whatever you do, especially as a woman: hold on to your value. There are things other say, and then there’s what you say about yourself. Protect that power.

I’m continuing to take 2018 one day at a time. Let’s hope there aren’t too many pieces of me left on the ground as I make my way. You, too.

tori

[The post title is a lyric from Tori Amos’ amazing song, Winter. All about growing up, choices, leaving the fairy tales behind. Appropriate for our discussion, no?]

Give Me the Panic Attack with a Side of Nervous Breakdown. And a Diet Coke.

If you’d like to order that particular meal/psychotic break, attempt to clean up Chernobyl your room and simultaneously pack up your life for a move across several states. I started this week. Let’s just say that my mother and sister had to repeatedly tell me to calm down. Like stop from taking a swan dive from your bedroom window level of calm down. stress1It’s overwhelming. 11 years in that room, with an abundance of things to rifle through and pack up and/or trash. Le sigh. If you’re peeking through your trusty psychology manual to determine the emotional subtext behind my mania and stress, I’ll save you the trouble: I simply detest packing. I detest moving things from one place to the other. It makes me nauseous. I’m serious. Don’t ask me where that came from. Likely the same place that drives me to rip off my jewelry. We’re all weirdos.

Anyway, in TSP’s continuing effort to always find the silver lining peeking mischievously behind all those clouds, I’ve considered the few pluses that came from this initial phase of moving/packing. Here they are:

  1. Finding bookworm treasures. To my everlasting glee and giddiness, I found my thought-to-be-lost collection of Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler’s A Series of Unfortunate Events books. Can I tell you how I delved into these witty, smart, exciting tales of the unfortunate Baudelaire siblings when they were first released? I freely read books meant for the youngsters, by the way, because I love a good story and because they’re almost always well-written. (We’ll talk about my soon-to-be foray into children’s books and YA fiction soon.) Anyway, I thought the original six books were lost forever. And then I found them on Wednesday. So here’s to more book-related treasures I will undoubtedly find as I continue with this breakdown of my room. All to build my bookshelf in TX.
  2. Family Rocks. Your Square Peg has a very patient mother and sister. I already knew this, but it was pretty evident on Wednesday evening. My sister was the eternal cheerleader. (You’re doing great! Look at what you accomplished!) My pragmatic and hilarious mother ordered me to stop freaking out, eat some food, and go to bed. In the end, as I finally burrowed myself under my covers, I could only be thankful. Here’s to people who love you and will never be released from their promises to help you, no matter how hard they try. *insert maniacal laughter here*
  3.  Feeling Determined. I have too many things. I’ve acquired too, too many things. Some goals for my move/new apartment include making sure that I have just what I need and no more than that. Here’s to re-reading this blog in a few months when I have a desire to purchase something I certainly don’t need.
  4. Feeling Charitable. A lot of things I have are being donated to various charities that can benefit from clothes, shoes, and other items. I already have two contractor bags teeming with items for donation. Here’s to doing something good for someone else, even while I dramatically slide down a wall as I drownwallslide in tears.

That’s all for now. Told you it was just a few pluses. Anyway, I’ll keep you apprised of the cleaning/packing journey as I go. Pray for me, y’all.

Which one of you likes to pack? And why would you enjoy such a thing? Let’s talk about it in the comments while I peek in my psychology manual…

30 Days.

Recall our discussion about comfort zones and the changes looming in my life. Well, hear ye, hear ye…

I’m moving!

After nearly 30 years of living in Somewheres, VA, in 30 days, I will beadventure moving to the Dallas, Texas area. Since revealing this news to my family and friends, I’ve received responses that range from shock to support/glee/excitement to downright confusion. Here are a few of the most popular questions I’ve gotten, followed by my responses.

Why in the world are you moving?
Because I’m a human being, an adult, a grown woman, and I have the right to vacate my premises.

I’m so happy for you! What inspired your decision?
Thank you. Honestly, I’m ready for a change in my life. It really helps that the area I’m headed to is affordable and has a great cost of living, as well as an abundance of jobs. Also, I have personal goals that I’d like to see through and I think being in a less expensive area may assist me in those endeavors.

But why Texas? It’s like the Wild West down there.
Well, no, it’s not. It’s different from the metropolitan area we live in, sure. But I fell in love with the area when I visited and always had in the back of my mind to move there one day. I think it’s beautiful there and we’ll see what life will be like for me.

Won’t you miss your family?
Of course I will. I love my family to pieces and pieces. But I’m also pretty excited about this new, impending chapter in my life. For the first time, the idea of moving away isn’t causing the butterflies that permanently reside in my belly to implode. I’m actually OK with this choice, and my family has been nothing but supportive. And if it stinks over there, I’m headed back home without fail.

Uh, do you have a job lined up?
No, I don’t. I’ll be starting the hunt when I get there.

You must have thousands of dollars saved up then.
*crickets*

How will you LIVE?
I’ll be staying with a friend temporarily while I look for work. Eventually, when work comes, I’ll get my own living arrangements.

I’m terrified for you. Have you seen the news lately?
I have. And, honestly, it gives me pause, too. Sadly, however, bad news isn’t relegated to one area of the nation or the world. I can only pray that I stay safe and make good decisions about the places I go and the people I see.

Do you have family down there?
No, but I have friends who are like family that live down there.

This is just really shocking.
It is. Change can always be shocking. And you always imagine–at least I do–that people will stay where they are forever.

We’ll miss you.
I can’t describe how I’ll miss my friends and family and will miss living in an area where I know the shortcuts to the shortcuts. I’m starting over and without a known tribe around me. But I’ll be ok.

Well, it was nice knowing you.

I’m not going to the moon. I’m just some states over. There’s FaceTime, Skype, social media, the phone, and this blog, which won’t change just because I’ve changed my address. If anything, my new life will be healthily updated right here on This Square Peg. It’ll be an entirely new story line of square pegness, actually, in this new area, so we’ll have a lot to talk about.

So, yeah. I’m moving. I’m moooooooving!

Have you moved before? Whether stateside or to another country? How did you adjust? Details, please, in the comments. 

#dreamgoals

This song came up on my shuffle last night while plugging away at the gym, and I was immediately reminded about why it spoke to me so deeply when I first heard it. Ah, this song. Not only that haunting melody and those vocals (those vocals, though), but the lyrics. Are the truth. Are my truths. Banning further ado, here it is, followed by the lyrics, followed by my commentary.

Closer to my dreams
It’s coming over me

I’m gettin’ higher
Closer to my dreams
I’m getting higher and higher
Feel it in my sleep

Some times it feels like I’ll never go past here
Some times it feels like I’m stuck forever and ever

But, I’m going higher
Closer to my dreams
I’m goin’ higher and higher
I can almost reach

Some times you just have to let it go (Let it go, let it go)
Leaving all my fears to burn down
Push them all away so I can move on
Closer to my dreams
Feel it all over my being
Close your eyes and see what you believe

I’m happy as long as we’re apart
Then I’m moving on to my dreams

I’ll be moving higher (Moving higher)
Closer to my dreams
And higher and higher, higher
Feel it in my being (I can feel it flow around me)
I know that I could not go alone (No, no)

I’m moving higher (Higher), oh…
I’m going higher and higher and higher (Higher and
Higher)
Closer to my dreams (Higher and higher, oh…oh…)
I’m moving upward and onward and beyond all I can see
(Stretching out my arms so I can reach)

Feels so close it’s like i can just reach
I can feel my dreams (Closer to my dreams)
I’m moving closer to my dreams
I’m moving (Higher and higher) higher and higher
(Higher and higher)
Moving higher, oh…

Some times it feels like you never gon’change (Never gon’change)
But you never choose to walk away

To me, the song is about a lot of things. Relationships. Choices. Fear. But singularly, I’m drawn to the aspect of the pursuit of dreams.

I’ve never been a go-getter when it comes to certain dreams and goals. By and large, I’ve long believed that what will be will be, and what will come will come. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t taste the proximity of my soon-to-be fulfilled dreams. And this song speaks to that. It reminded me that I may not charge at my dreams like a Pamplonan bull, but I’m moving toward them at my own pace, higher and higher, upward and onward, beyond all I can see. Even when “it feels like I’m stuck forever and ever”, eventually, those dreams and I will meet.

As that linked post mentions, I’ll be reflecting on a few fulfilled dreams/changes that are coming to my life in a few short months. Needless to say, we will discuss. Until then, I’ll continue to spend some music-on-repeat time with Goapele and Closer.

Tell me: any songs you’re listening to (or still listen to) that speak to you? Like really, really speak to you?

Zones.

It’s called a comfort zone for a reason: it’s comfortable.comfortzone

My mom occasionally tells me the following: as a child, she would sit me in a spot and I would obediently stay there. Not fidgeting, not itching to move–glued to where I was placed and never giving cause to worry that I would disappear (unlike my little sister, who often disappeared and returned with fistfuls of food). By and large, when it comes several things in life, I’m still that little girl. When I’m comfortable somewhere or with something, there is very little desire to make changes. Because I’m content where I am. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that this can be both a good and bad thing. On one hand, I’m pleased to remain unmoved by every passing whim or flight of fancy. On the other hand: utter stagnancy.

To be stagnant is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Not even the girls who introduced me to the word unibrow. Even worse than being stagnant is the precise moment when you realize it, when you feel it: that you’re not moving, you’re not progressing, you’re stuck. Kind of takes your breath away. Several months ago, that realization consumed me. Underneath the contentment I felt with my life was also a complete lack of movement. I wasn’t going anywhere. That sinking feeling also came with a realization that many of the goals that I had, things I wanted to do, had been placed on life’s back burner. I had shelved many of my goals and desires to accommodate my responsibilities to my family, my employer, so on and so forth. But by doing this, I was also being quite faithful to my comfort zone. There’s the sneaky rub: my routine, my existence, was fine, not unpleasant. So why shift the system? Why disturb the force?

Utter stagnancy.

But I also recognized that in order to turn utter stagnancy on its head, to get moving, to remove from the back burner some of the goals and desires I had, some windows had to open for me. Well, with prayer, time, and keeping my eyes open, I started to feel the light breezes of opened windows all around me.

Change is on the horizon for your Square Peg, my dear readers. My pen is poised to begin a brand new chapter, one that will require putting on several pairs of big lady somethingwonderfulpantaloons and getting my life/goals moving. I’m being intentionally vague with the specifics until things become firmly planted, but once things are set in stone in the coming months, I will speak in detail. Until then, know that I’m intrigued, I’m terrified, and I’m super excited. It’s high time to relegate that comfort zone to life’s back burner, isn’t it?

Summertime, and the Cutting is Easy…

It was going to happen eventually.

My longing for change would be manifested via my hair, and that’s exactly what happened. Without further ado…cut5

cut4 cut3 cut2

I cut my hair.

What what?

Yes, after making promises to myself that after my cut in January 2014, I would just grow it out patiently and see where it took me, I decided to stop flirting with the idea of a cut (I’ve been thinking about it for a long, long time) and just do it. So during my trim and color (went back to black, as you can see) this past weekend, I asked my stylist if we could do a tapered cut. I wanted to retain some length, but I also wanted a shape and a style. Bim bam boom; she snipped, she did her thing, and I love it more than the sliced bread I’m avoiding.

It was time. Other than longing for a change, as I mentioned before, here are some other reasons it was high time for a style and color change:

1. As far as color, my formerly red hue was growing and looking old. Rather than spice it back up, I decided to just return to my black hair. Yes, my gray strands will be popping like crazy soon (I’ve been graying since high school, ya’ll), but whatever.

2. Honestly, as much as I love twist-outs and Bantu knots and all of that, I kind of wanted a quicker way to style my hair.

3. Tapered ‘dos are super chic!

4. It’s summer. Enough said.

Oh, and:

5. Red lippies (which you know I love) pop like crazy with dark hair.

Are you wondering if I’ll keep this look when summer ends, though? I am, as well. It’s something to think about. I really love the look. Which means I might keep it longer than these hot days. Growing out my hair was my initial goal when I big chopped, but I have to tell you that I’m a sucker for chic and quick. And whether long or short, I just want healthy hair. Let’s talk about that for a minute.

Along the way in this fun, discovery naturalista journey, my hair changed. There was some breakage, some damage.

The before.
The before.

Deciding to color it certainly didn’t help. So I think it was high time I cut it, not only for a style and a shape, but to kind of start over. So whether or not I grow it back out or retain this look, the change was necessary. We’ll see what happens. For now, I am incredibly pleased with this change.

My mother didn’t faint, by the way. She was very happy with the change, probably because I mentioned that I’m done coloring my hair. And she’s used to her oldest change fomenting change by way of hair, so there’s that.

You like? What summer changes are you up to?