What is Lifestyle Design?

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Most of us think about what we want to do “when we grow up.” We think about what career we want to enter into, what type of person we’d like to marry, and how many children we want to have. Most of us stick with many of the same beliefs about religion, morality, and politics that we learned from our parents. There’s nothing wrong with any of that until we wake up one day and find that we are dissatisfied.

One of the reasons for our dissatisfaction is because, while we were busy looking at the big picture, we never thought about how we actually wanted our day-to-day lives to be. When a young woman envisions becoming a high-powered attorney, she often doesn’t think about the long, grueling hours away from home and family, traveling for depositions, commuting in heavy traffic, and stress from deadlines. Likewise, most student taking out student loan debt don’t think about the years, maybe even decades of repayment. I’m sure that you can think of many more examples.

I know far too many people who focused on a “dream” career or living in a “dream” city but never thought about how they wanted their actual day-to-day lives to be. Once I realized my own dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the way my day-to-day life plays out, I started looking into the concept of lifestyle design. Tim Ferris popularized the concept in his best-selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated). (The link is my Amazon affiliate link to the book!) In the book, Tim talks about how to break free of the rat race and live and design the life of your dreams, with more time for leisure and pursuing your passions and less time spent on working an, often miserable, 9 to 5 job.

Obviously, there is a lot more to the book and the concept than that. To me, lifestyle design is simply designing the life that I want. This doesn’t mean chasing degrees (I have those), having kids (I have one), or trying to amass a lot of money. It’s about waking up each day feeling content and satisfied. It’s about doing work that is meaningful, while having enough money to support myself comfortably. It’s about not spending 2-3 hours a day sitting in traffic commuting, only to come home from work too tired to write or even think. It’s about giving back and making the most of what I have. It’s about feeling less stressed and having more time to appreciate my blessings.

On this blog, I’ll be discussing more about the concept of lifestyle design, how to be more productive, and how I’m working to design and live my ideal lifestyle. I have quite a long way to go, but I’m excited about the journey. Join me and feel free to chime in in the comments with your own thoughts and ideas about lifestyle design.

 

Recap of My Relaxed Hair Journey

small-bookcoverOne of the cool features of using a WordPress blog is that you can sometimes see how people landed on your blog. Over the last week or so, I have noticed that a lot of people are clicking on my blog looking for articles about relaxed hair. My hair is no longer relaxed, but I started my healthy hair journey out with relaxed hair. I grew it out from neck length to bra strap length with a consistent regimen of frequent cleansing, deep conditioning, and roller setting. I alternated roller setting with protective styles and avoided the use of direct heat.

I posted dozens of articles and video tutorials online about my relaxed hair journey before I began transitioning. My last relaxer was in November of 2013. I transitioned for eight months before doing the big chop in July of 2014. Add me on Instagram (@simplydebraofficial) to see more pictures of my relaxed hair.

When I took a break from blogging, I unpublished most of my hair care posts in order to make a fresh start and focus on my other goals that have nothing to do with hair care. At the time that I unpublished my blog, I didn’t think about how that would affect readers who click on various links around the web looking for content about my relaxed hair.

To make it easier for all of my relaxed hair ladies out there, I’ve created this comprehensive post linking my most helpful hair care tutorials. If you’d like to read more about relaxed hair, just let me know. I truly enjoyed my relaxed hair journey.  I am also making my relaxer stretching eBook available for download again. With Payhip’s new features, you can even send it straight to your Kindle! Keep reading for links to helpful tutorials.

My Relaxed Hair Routine

In fall of 2008, I started my healthy hair journey. I quickly fell in love with roller sets and I visited Dominican salons to get them done before learning how to do them myself. I also started stretching my relaxers (extending the time between relaxer applications) to the point where I was only getting relaxers about twice a year. My absolute favorite relaxer was the Phytorelaxer, Index 1.

For details of my wash day routine, check out the guest post that I did on Black Hair Kitchen in January of 2013, My Wash Day Routine for Relaxed Hair.

BHK Wash Day Routine for Relaxed Hair

For a detailed tutorial on my roller setting regimen, check out the 5-part series produced for YouTube, a Complete Guide to Roller Setting and my Pibbs Kwik Dri 514 Detailed Review.

In addition to roller setting, I wore a lot of low manipulation and low heat styles like buns, braid-outs, and French braids. Here are some links to my styling tutorials:

The NO SOCK Sock Bun

Here are a few more helpful tutorials that I filmed for YouTube:

Still looking for more guidance on caring for relaxed hair? I published an entire eBook on relaxer stretching, entitled How To Maintain Healthy Hair During a Relaxer Stretch. You can get a copy of it by clicking on the link below.

 CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

A Complete & Unsponsored Review of Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Hair Products

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Shea Moisture is a trusted hair care brand that continues to come out with new and innovative products. (For a summary of my review, skip to the end of the post.) I remember a few years ago when I first tried the “pink” Coconut & Hibiscus line of products. Back then, my hair was relaxed. Some of the products played nicely with my hair and some products didn’t. But, I absolutely loved the smell, texture, and affordability of Shea Moisture products, not to mention the fact that they were free of harmful ingredients. I continued to try different products, but I always kept my eye on Shea Moisture. (By the way, those affordable prices have crept up a bit.)

It was through Instagram that I learned about the new Jamaican Black Castor Oil Line of Products. I have always wanted to find a way to incorporate Jamaican Black Castor Oil into my hair care routine. I once purchased plain Jamaican Black Castor Oil, but it was so thick and it had such a strong smell that I couldn’t find a way to utilize it efficiently. But, I wanted to keep trying because of the many benefits that Jamaican Black Castor Oil offers for hair care.

According to NaturallyCurly.com’s article Jamaican Black Castor Oil for Hair Growth:

Jamaican Black Castor Oil works for all hair types. It will moisturize, thicken, strengthen and rapidly increase hair growth. It increases blood flow to the scalp, supplying valuable nutrients to hair follicles. Jamaican Black Castor Oil will also prevent hair breakages, dandruff, eczema and dry, itchy scalp.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that this new line was available. I rushed out to look for the products, which were a bit hard to find. They weren’t being carried at Target store and they were only at “select” CVS locations. Worse still, some CVS stores only had a couple of the products available and not the whole line. For some reason, I wanted the whole line. My hair is newly natural, but I have been resisting buying a lot of new products. I wanted to see how well this line of products worked together to provide my hair with the nourishment that it needs.

I finally found the entire line and I purchased all of the products available – the shampoo, treatment masque, leave-in conditioner, styling lotion, and serum. Over the past few weeks, I have used each product several times for styles ranging from twists and twistouts to French braids and (faux) buns. I’ll be breaking down my thoughts on each product in the detailed post below. In case you were wondering, I purchased each product with my own funds and this blog post in not sponsored by the company, nor does it contain affiliate links. I’m also a bit salty because I paid full price for all of these products and I missed the BOGO sales! I would strongly recommend following Shea Moisture on Instagram if you want to catch the sales. Now, on to the review!

Strengthen, Grow & Restore Shampoo ($10.99)

The company promises that this sulfate-free shampoo will help to clarify hair by removing build-up while infusing hair with moisture. I am normally a no-poo girl. I have nothing again suds, or really even sulfates, but I have found that my hair retains more moisture when I use “creamy” co-wash type of cleansers like Wen. However, this shampoo was different. The shampoo is thick and creamy with a dark color that actually reminds me of a bottle of pure Jamaican Black Castor Oil. It produces a nice, non-drying lather that surprisingly does exactly what it promises. Normally, when I use a shampoo that has suds, I use a quarter-sized amount and concentrate it only at the roots because most shampoos are so drying.

However, I had a lot of build-up on my hair from wearing Marley twists for three weeks. My scalp was dry and itchy the first time that I prepared to use this shampoo, so I really lathered up (twice). My hair was left clean, soft, and moisturized. In fact, it felt so moisturized that I felt like I could skip the conditioning treatment, even though I never do. The smell of the shampoo is kind of hard to describe. It doesn’t smell as bad as straight Jamaican Black Castor Oil, but you can definitely smell the castor oil in the product. I asked my son to smell it to help me identify the smell. To him, it smells like coconut oil, even though there is no coconut oil in it. (Go figure!) It definitely has an earthy, organic smell that is clean and not over-bearing or medicinal like a lot commercial shampoos on the market.

After several uses, I noticed that my scalp was less dry and itchy, which was a relief. This shampoo is one that I would keep in my arsenal.

Strengthen, Grow & Restore Treatment Masque ($12.99)

The treatment masque from this line is definitely a “deep treatment” as opposed to a light rinse-out conditioner. This masque is thick and almost lumpy. It reminds me of a product that was whipped up in the kitchen. Because of its consistency, it really stays put in my hair until i rinse it out and a little goes a long way. The product is brown, but much lighter in color than the shampoo. The color was a little off-putting when I went to rinse it out in the shower and all of the run-off was brown.

The masque moisturized my hair well. It didn’t provide a ton of slip, but my hair felt soft and ready for styling after this treatment was left on my hair for 30 minutes without heat and then rinsed out. If I could improve this product, I would make the consistency a little creamier and make the color the same as the styling lotion. I also really disliked the smell. It smells very similar to the shampoo, but more stale. It’s hard to describe. If you can, give it a whiff in the store before you buy it. The smell doesn’t linger in my hair, but I definitely prefer more sweet-smelling conditioners.

Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner ($10.99)

The leave-in conditioner was one of my favorites of the bunch. Since I have recently gone natural (I did the big chop in July of 2014 and I will be one year post-relaxed on November 1, 2014), I have been struggling to find the right styling products. This leave-in conditioner helps me prep my hair for just about any style. It’s a creamy product that is off-white. Once again, the smell of the castor oil comes through. Since this is  product that stays in the hair, some people may not like that. It doesn’t bother me too much, but I do notice the smell in my hair. (Every time I use these products, I wonder why Shea Moisture didn’t add more fragrance.)

If you are looking for heavy-duty moisture, this may not be the product. But, if you are looking for a good leave-in conditioner to serve as a base for layering styling products, this one will do the trick. It spreads easily and absorbs completely into the hair. My hair is 4a and it usually does not absorb products well, but his one soaks right in. It left my hair soft, moisturized and shiny. Literally every time I have used it, either alone or with the styling lotion, I have gotten compliments on my hair. This is another keeper. Like I stated, the only con is the smell.

Keep in mind that the first ingredient in this product is water. So, while it is very moisturizing and spreads easily, if you reapply it during the week, the water in the product may cause additional shrinkage.

Strengthen, Grow & Restore Styling Lotion ($10.99)

Okay, so since I’ve started my natural hair journey, I have tried cream, jellies, and puddings for my twist and this styling lotion is my favorite product for twists and twist-outs by far. If I could pick only ONE product in this entire line to repurchase, this would be it. The way that I use it is by applying the leave-in conditioner to my hair first, then applying the styling cream to smaller sections to twists. When I leave the twists in, they are shiny and elongated. When I take them out, my “twisted” curl pattern holds for days. All I have to do is retwist and fluff my hair in the morning. A couple of times, I slept on my twist-out without retwisting and the style was still wearable in the morning.

This product obviously has a lotion consistency and it is the same off-white color at the leave in. Most importantly, it is NOT sticky. Most styling products feel icky on my hands and I want to wash them immediately. This one didn’t feel gross in my hands or in my hair. Although you can still smell the castor oil, it is very light and, so far, the smell has not bothered me during the day. Again, if you only try one product from the line, this is the one that I would recommend.

Note: In my experience, this product works best on wet hair. When layered onto dry hair, it made my hair a bit hard. It was hard to use it for daily touch-ups.

Strengthen & Grow Restorative Serum ($10.99)

As much as I have complained about the stale smell of these products, you would think that I would be in love with this one. It actually has a sweet smell that lingers pleasantly in my hair. However, I was overall disappointed with this product. First of all, it is only 2 ounces in size. Yes, 2 ounces for $10.99. That price and size completely contradict my statement that this line is affordable.

There are a few other things that bother me about this product. One is that is should not be called a serum. This is a really runny, oily product with no clear purpose. It is hard to apply and I didn’t notice any improved shine or manageability to my hair when I used it as a finishing product. I tried to then use it as a pre-shampoo treatment, but it was not thick enough. I then tried it as a scalp aid, but it was much too runny. Lastly, I tried to use it to “seal” in moisture, but it didn’t seem to penetrate my hair strands. The company says that this product includes Rosemary oil to stimulate, but adding a few drops of rosemary oil to any carrier oil that you have around that house would be much more effective. i didn’t notice any “stimulating” effects.

I have consistently seen this product shown with an applicator tip in the stock imagery and marketing photos from Shea Moisture; however, my bottle only came with a flip-top, thus making it even harder to apply. Even though I wanted to love every product in this line, this is one of that I would not repurchase.

Strengthen, Grow & Restore Edge Treatment

Before I begin my review of the edge treatment, I will admit that I am not a fan of “edge treatments” in general. I don’t think that edges need to be treated unless they have been neglected and abused or are otherwise falling out for some reason. I have a delicate hairline, and I always have. I don’t mind the fuzzy look around my edges, so I avoid slicking them down and I can’t even remember the last time that I used a brush to “lay my edge.”

However, in keeping in line with my overall excitement about this line of products, I decided to give the edge treatment a try. Instead of being a gel or a pomade, this product is more of a jelly. It’s clear and sticky. I hate sticky products in my hair. I have found that sticky products lead to dryness and breakage, so it seems strange to me that Shea Moisture would make an sticky product to go on a delicate area like the hairline, or “edges.”

I still decided to give it a try. I scooped out a small bit of the product, and rubbed it in between my fingertips to emulsify it. The product contains several different oils, so it became quite oily and much easier to spread. I applied a reasonable portion along my hairline and smoothed it with my fingertips before applying my hair scarf. The results? My hair as slightly sleeker, but it lacked shine and, again, it felt sticky for several days, making me want to wash my hair.

I gave this product one more try before tossing it in my product graveyard. I can at least work with the serum by mixing it with other products, but this edge treatment is a no-go. In hindsight, I should have returned it to CVS before the return period ended. It’s way over-priced and it just plain doesn’t work. Oh, well.

Summary

Overall, I think this is a great product line by Shea Moisture that really nourishes the hair. The shampoo left my hair feeling clean and moisturized and the treatment masque provided additional moisture. The leave-in conditioner is just the right consistency for layering and the styling lotion provides lots of shine and a soft hold when used on wet hair. I’m not crazy about the serum and I hate the edge treatment. I think 4 out of 6 is not too bad. I’d love to see an improvement in the smell of these products, but the benefits of Jamaican Black Castor Oil make it worth dealing with the smell for the most part.

What was your experience with this product line? Leave a comment below to share your experience.

Review: The 2015 Kate Spade Planner

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Earlier this year, I fell for the Kate Spade 2015 Planner after reading so many positive reviews on it. It has excellent reviews and it is a rather nice-looking 17-month planner. Although I already had a planner that I was using for 2014-2015, I wanted one with more detailed space to write daily entries that was also small enough to fit in my larger purses. I am also very much enamored by the Kate Spade brand, so I splurged for the $36.00 planner. The $36.00 price tag is not as much as, say, an Erin Condren Planner, it’s quite a bit of money for a planner that’s not customized.

After purchasing the planner, I became a little stuck on how to actually use it. I already had a monthly calendar that I was using to mark important dates, doctor’s appointments, and meetings. I wanted a second planner to journal more personal things. I think that, after using an Erin Condren planner the year before, the Kate Spade planner came off as a bit plain and uninspiring.

I have actually had the planner for two months now and I’ve only just begun to use it. So far, I’ve been using the daily entry lines to write “to do” lists that I can mark off easily. I absolutely love the cover design on the planner that I chose. It mimics a bookshelf with classic book titles visible on some books, like Jane Austen. There is also a choice of polka-dot covers. The outer cover is a thick, durable material. It is a binder-style cover made to last for the entire 17 months. Mine does not have much wear and tear because I haven’t been using it consistently.

Inside, there are a few of the whimsical quotes that Kate Spade is known for. Each month begins with a monthly calendar, and each month has daily pages with lots of space to write. I like that there is a little folder pocket to hold papers that tend to accumulate and get stuffed inside of our planners. Lastly, there it comes with an elastic band attached to conveniently hold the binder closed.

Overall, it’s a nice, stylish, and functional planner that will be perfect for anyone who loves Kate Spade. For some people, there may not be enough stand-out features to make it worth the $36.00. If you’re looking for a highly customizable planner, I’d highly recommend that you check out the Erin Condren LIfe Planners.

*This post contains an affiliate link for ErinCondren.com. I purchased the Kate Spade planner with my own funds and this is not a sponsored post.

What I’m Reading: Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success by Steve Harvey

 

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Sometimes you just really want to be the leader of your own life.

This powerful quote from Steve Harvey’s private book session illustrates the type of motivational teachings that can be found in his new book Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches.

I was browsing for a new non-fiction motivational book and I found this book  by New York Times Bestselling author Steve Harvey. Just a day before, I had been watching Steve Harvey and his wife on television and I felt really inspired by their interactions with each other. I felt like it was no coincidence that the very next day I came upon this book that I did not even know had been released. What really caught my attention, besides that catchy title that is reminiscent of his best-selling dating book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, was the back. It read:

This book is for you if…

  • You’re not excited about waking up and going to work in the morning.
  • You’re sitting around every day bored out of your mind.
  • You have time to do everything anyone asks you to do.
  • You have time to watch all of your scheduled TV programs every week as they air, and not miss an episode.
  • You’re getting more than enough sleep.
  • You’ve already accomplished a great deal in your life, and you’re wondering what’s next.

All of the above bullets pretty much apply to me, unfortunately. I don’t actually watch much TV, but, if I wanted to, I have the time. The bolded is the key indicator that stuck out to me the most. Yes, I have already accomplished a lot, but I’m stuck on what comes next. When I told a couple of people that I was reading this book, the first question that I got was, “Why?”

Most people told me, “You’re already a success!” While I do sincerely appreciate the compliment, that really depends on how you define “success.” While I do have degrees, a well-paying job, and have accomplished quite a bit at the age of 29, I’m still not where I want to be. The past 3 years of working in a large organization has taught me that I really do want to ultimately work for myself. I also feel downright bored with not having anything specific to study or any very difficult tasks to focus on conquering.

Lately, I haven’t been a “mover and shaker” like I used to be. Instead, I go to sleep early and sometimes sleep late. I have a hard time envisioning what my life will be like in 5-10 years, and oftentimes, minor setbacks, inconveniences, and bad news cause me to have anxiety. What I need to do is learn how to change my thinking. I may actually already be a success, but I certainly am not acting like or thinking like one. That’s where the book comes in.

Steve’s new book is all about “discovering your gift and the way to life’s riches. It’s not for people who want to “get rich.” Instead, it’s for people who want to live a rich life. I’m just beginning to read the book, but I’m already hooked. I”ll be following up with a full review once I’ve completed the reading. For now, check out this motivational video clip from Steve Harvey’s private book session for Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches.
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*This post contains affiliate links. If you buy the books through my link to Amazon, I get a small commission. Come back let me know in the comments how the book worked out for you!

Free Erin Condren Planner Cover!

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Earlier this year, Erin Condren introduced interchangeable planner covers to her line of awesome planners, stationary, notebooks, and decorative decor. These interchangeable covers are awesome because they allow you to further personalize your already highly-customizeable planner. As it stands, Erin Condren planners are an investment. So, many people may be hesitant to add an additional cover for between $10.95-$15.95. If you are one of those people, you are in luck! As a “thank you” to customers, Erin Condren is offering a free – yes, free planner cover! All you have to do is create your cover and use the code FREECOVER at checkout (for up to a $10.95 value)! What a great deal! This just makes me love Erin Condren even more. Head on over to the site to check it out.

Back to the World of Beauty With LUSH Cosmetics

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LUSH – First Colony Mall

As many of you may know, I made the difficult decision to stop blogging back in June. It just got to be too difficult to focus on my day job while also blogging and making YouTube videos at night. On top of trying to maintain a full time career and a serious hobby, I am also a mom and I am very involved in my community. I decided that, since I couldn’t give blogging my all, I might as well stop. Well, guess what? I really missed it! I would try a new, amazing product and have no one to share it with. I would do a really cute style and have no tutorial to film. I would take a great training course or buy an awesome planner and the world would never know!

At heart, I’m a writer and blogging is an amazing outlet for me to share my love for all things whimsical and girly from makeup to cosmetics, while still lending my perspective as a professionalista. I decided that instead of just focusing on hair care, I would also blog about the things that make up my lifestyle, like being a mom and maintaining my career. You may be wondering what inspired me to bring my blog back to life after a 5 month hiatus. Well, you’ll never guess…or maybe you will. LUSH Cosmetics!

I was walking through the mall when I spotted a fairly new LUSH store. I have always wanted to explore the LUSH brand, but I felt a bit intimidated by the store. After experiencing it, I instantly fell in love. Where had these products been all of my life?! For those who don’t know, I am an attorney and I work in performance management. But, for some reason, I decided to take the plunge and apply for a holiday a job at LUSH. Yes, that is how much I fell in love with the brand! I wanted to actually help other people discover these products the way that the LUSH employees at the mall that day helped me.

I’ll talk a bit more about my experience applying for a job at LUSH in a later post. It was definitely a fun experience and I look forward to breaking out of the monotony of my daily routine of just going to work, sitting behind a computer, attending meetings, etc. I truly love the work that I do now, but I miss interacting with people in other ways besides discussing data. Although I have worked in retail before, this will be my first job actually working for a cosmetics company. I’m excited about the change go delve back into the world of beauty.

Rebranding!

Hello and welcome! We are currently rebranding the website to better reflect the modern woman. The previous focus of the blog was hair care, but there is a lot more to the SimplyDebra lifestyle than just hair. The blog will focus on all-around lifestyle, career, beauty, and branding advice for women. As a young professional and working mom, I know how difficult it can be to find sound advice for both career and lifestyle and I hope to fill in the gap. Join me by subscribing to the log today!

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