How To Wake Up at 5am Every Morning

I’ve never been a morning person. Years ago, (who am I kidding? Even earlier this year) each time I’d hit the snooze button I’d think about what I could NOT do to earn 7-21 additional minutes of sleep.

First snooze: I don’t need to do makeup today.

Second snooze: I’ll just wear something that doesn’t need to be ironed.

Third snooze: I can just tell my boss that one of the kids got sick. (Don’t judge me.)

I refused to roll out of bed until the absolute last minute.

I literally typed this post and rolled back over I’m 2008. I am not naturally a morning person.

I literally typed this post and rolled back over I’m 2008. I am not naturally a morning person.

Fast forward to present day, I start my days no later than 5am. I’ve found that by waking up earlier I’m able to get much more accomplished and I don’t feel overwhelmed by my workload.

Here’s how I transformed myself into a morning person:

I Set Early Appointments

I’ll procrastinate when I have something to do for myself like scheduling a facial or writing a blog post. However, if I “owe” something to another person… I’m on it! Knowing this about myself, I set early morning appointments for my VIPs (very important people/projects). Earlier this week, I set an 8:00am call with an editor about a cool opportunity to freelance. Of course, I needed to prep for the call. I woke up at 5:30am to meditate, make it to the gym, have breakfast and be ready to take the call at 8:00am. As a result of setting that early call, I was able to check three things off of my to-do list before most people wake up.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or work a 9 to 5, think about your most important project deadlines or meetings this week. Set specific early morning deadlines (I’ll have the report in your inbox by 9am vs I’ll send the report first thing in the morning) and you’ll be amazed at how much you’re able to get down by waking up a couple of hours earlier in the morning.

I Save the Best for First Thing in the Morning

Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean that you’ll always like every aspect of your work. I don’t. I really like writing articles about topics that I have personal experience with like productivity hacks and professional development. I like editing fashion videos from my phone for social media. I don’t like writing articles that require tons of research or transcribing hours-long interviews.

I’ll finish the least desirable work in the evenings. It leaves me with a feeling of accomplishment to know that I no longer have that work hanging over my head. I’ll save the work that I’m most excited about for the morning. I’m most creative in the morning and after an evening of the “un-fun” work, I look forward to the opportunity to create content that I'm connected to.

Look at your to-do list for any given day. What do you look forward to doing or want to do more of? Save those activities/work for the morning so that you have something to look forward to when the alarm goes off.

I Know That What Got Me Here Will Keep Me Here

The goal is to elevate, right? In March, I did a self evaluation. I thought about where I am currently in my career as a writer. I listed the things that have gotten me here. “Here” is maintaining my blog, paid writing gigs for six publications and frequent speaking engagements. Some of the things that I listed were drive, networking, pitching and consistency.

Then, I started thinking about what I’d need to do additionally to get to the next level. Next level for me is having a column in an international publication, a host of high profile clients for my ghostwriting services and delivering regular keynotes at conferences around the world.

Among other things, increased productivity was one of my primary areas of focus. I know that in order to expect people to pay you for a service, you’ll need proof (aka media kit or portfolio) that you’ve actually been doing the work. If no one else ever hires me, I can always post on my blog. Blogging takes time and between my corporate consulting work, kids and a social life.. I’ll look up and it’s been weeks since I blogged. Early mornings work best for me to get this important task done. Blogging is the liaison to getting the paid opportunities and ultimately achieving my goals. So setting my alarm for 5am is much easier when I look at it as an avenue to my overall success.

Hope this was helpful! What time do y’all wake up?

Loc Journey

August 18, 2019: It’s 1:33am. I’ve been finger-coiling my hair since 10:00pm. I’m watching a marathon of Law and Order: SVU as my arms feel like they are about to snap off. This is what my life has become. Actually, it’s more like:

Sees bomb ass twist out on YouTube.Tries said twist out using the EXACT products listed. Epic fail but I have an event in a few hours. Pulls out wig.

This has been my life since I started wearing my natural hair out in 2016.

The hours long process was not in vain. I’d ride the style out for as long as I could. This is Day 8.

The hours long process was not in vain. I’d ride the style out for as long as I could. This is Day 8.

For as long as I can remember, my hair has been a major part of my life. In high school, my mom allowed me to cut my hair in a short style similar to Miss Thang aka Monica. There was one condition: I had to learn to maintain it on my own. She was not paying for me to visit the salon every week. I’d spend Friday nights slathering my hair in Cholesterol conditioner, sitting under a heating cap and using my mini flatirons to create “stacked” curls.

In college, I mastered the “phony pony”. Ahead of a campus party, I’d spend hours molding my hair with Ecostyler gel and installing a high 14-inch Yaky ponytail. Later, I learned how to maintain my sew-ins to last an entire semester until I could get home to have it re-installed.

Fast forward to current day, I can not only do a mean finger coil but can install clip ins, crochets and faux buns. I never quite mastered a twist out though.

A high bun with kanekelon hair is one of my go-to styles.

A high bun with kanekelon hair is one of my go-to styles.

As much as I had grown to love my natural hair, it was time for a change. I have 2 children, an active social life, I volunteer, blog, freelance for 6 publications and work a corporate contract. I ain’t got 6 hours for hair. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on products, wigs, weaves, braids and crochets. Sis ain’t got that either. I considered locing my hair a year ago but dismissed the idea. I tried faux locs and loved them. However, as much as I enjoy new looks, the finality of locs turned me away.

I started peeping at Instagram pages for the loc community and fell in love with the versatility of the style. Could I do it?

In 2018, I two strand twisted my hair with the intention to start locs but I changed my mind after 2 weeks.

In 2018, I two strand twisted my hair with the intention to start locs but I changed my mind after 2 weeks.

“They say” locs are a spiritual journey. Anyone who doesn’t do it “their” way isn’t experiencing a real journey. In my stalking of the loc community pages, I found an issue that causes a divide. Those that start their locs with their natural hair vs those that begin with loc extensions. I hear both sides. I couldn’t care less about what another person does to their hair. Even further down my list of things to care about is another persons journey that I’m not included or otherwise involved.

For some, locs are a spiritual journey. For others, it’s reverence to their culture. While some just see it as a hairstyle like braids or a sew in. For me, its about shifting my focus. I want to spend less time doing, planning for and worrying about hair so that I can focus on the people and things that I love. It also symbolizes my personal evolution of how I see myself. I suffered with low self esteem for years. One thing I felt that I could control was my hair. My mom and sister are stylists and I’m not too bad myself. Between the three of us, my hair was always on point. As my grandma would say, my hair was my (superficial) glory. To give up the sense of control over my hair is HUGE.

The way that I chose to do that is by having my loc extensions installed. I wanted the length without the wait. Period. Prior to beginning my research, I had no idea loc extensions were a “thing”. I received lots of questions so I’ve posted answers to some. If you are considering loc extensions, do your research. It’s only been 4 days but I’m glad that I did it! I can’t wait to see how my hair changes, how I feel and how I’ll spend all of the free hours I added back in my life!

Loc Extension Questions Answered

What’s the difference between faux locs and loc extensions?

Faux locs are a temporary protective style. Faux locs can be done by installing a box braid and then wrapping the braid with loose kanekelon hair to create a “loc” or by using the crochet method.

Loc extensions are permanent. These are for people that want actual locs. It allows you to forgo the “baby loc” stage and get the look and length immediately. Over time, your natural hair locs with the hair and you can remove the loc extensions. I don’t plan to remove mine.

Do the loc extensions loc immediately?

No. The hair is not loc’d when they are installed. It takes 4-6 weeks for the hair to matte, or loc. My stylist instructed me not to do anything to my hair. That includes styling, touching, washing or using products. I’m literally to do nothing but sleep in a bonnet and shake in the mornings. At my 6 week appointment, she will assess my hair to see if it has begun to loc. After that, I can begin to style and oil my scalp.

How often is maintenance required?

Like traditional locs, it is advised that you go for maintenance every 4-6 weeks. I don’t like the fresh Re twist look. Instead, I prefer a natural look so I will go every 6 weeks. In between appointments, I’ll use natural oils for my scalp.

How I Became comfy wearing my natural hair

It feels oxymoronic to write a post about a journey to feel comfortable wearing my hair as it naturally grows from my head. Then again, it’s 2019 and whole laws are being passed to ban discrimination against our natural hair. But, I digress.

A few weeks ago, I posted a poll on Instagram asking my followers if they felt comfortable wearing headwraps in the office. 70% said Nah. I started to get DMs from professional women asking about my experience rocking my fro* in corporate America.

The real question was “Sis, how did you become comfortable wearing your natural hair?”

Honestly, it took years.

In December 2013, I found out that I’d be giving birth to a baby girl the following summer. I shaved my head the next day. I knew that I wanted her to not only love her natural hair but understand how to take care of it and appreciate all of the nuances that comes with the journey. My parenting style is to practice what I preach. I couldn’t preach self love and acceptance in the comfort of my curly sew in. Not with a head full of kinky coils being hidden because I was afraid of … how it would be received?

At my sonogram in 2013, this is how I imagined me and my daughter would be…She’d look up to me in all my natural glory and through that learn to embrace her beauty.  At the time, I had no idea how I’d get there.

At my sonogram in 2013, this is how I imagined me and my daughter would be…She’d look up to me in all my natural glory and through that learn to embrace her beauty.

At the time, I had no idea how I’d get there.

1. Rock It On The Weekends

Going back to when I had a relaxer, Friday nights have always been hair nights. After I big chopped, I’d use this weekly hair night to deep condition and check my hair for even the tiniest bit of growth. As it began to grow, I would re braid my cornrows that I wore underneath my wigs. It was during one of my braid takedowns that I decided to rock my braid out for the day. I ran errands and everywhere I went, my hair was a topic of conversation. Some women (and men) would compliment my hair and keep it pushing. Others would ask about the products I used. These encounters would turn into hour long conversations about everything from insecurities about wearing our natural hair to sharing the IG handles of our favorite natural hair influencers.

2. Find a Muse

4c texture shot

4c texture shot

Embrace YOUR natural hair type. I spent countless hours watching YouTube videos on how to maintain and develop a routine for natural hair. The issue was that I followed women that had hair types that I desired. I had to face it.. my hair just doesn’t curl up when I wet it. And that’s fine. Once I started following women with hair types like mine, I learned what my hair can and cannot do. I figured out what products worked best for my hair and how to do styles that look amazing on kinkier hair.

Who me? Just over here loving every inch of my 4c hair.

Who me? Just over here loving every inch of my 4c hair.

I gained a new confidence when I tried a style (and it actually worked) that I’d seen on Pinterest. I felt as confident sporting my coils as the women on the pics I’d screenshot and saved to my phone.

3. Just Do It

Sometimes you just have to just rip the band-aid off. The band-aid, for me, was a combination of things. My wig. My ego. The need to be accepted. You can watch all of the tutorials you want and read every blog post on the topic, but at some point you have to to jump out there. I won’t say that I felt as confident on Day 1 as I do today. But, had Day 1 not happened, I wouldn’t be here today. Just like with anything else in life, enjoy the journey as much as the thought of reaching the destination. You can do it, girl!

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I even wore cornrows with no hair added.

I even wore cornrows with no hair added.

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Loving the Skin I’m In

I had a “hot girl summer” before it was a thing. It doesn’t get any hotter than caking on 2 pounds of foundation in 100 plus degree temps…Every. Single. Day. Adult acne landed 10 punches before I even realized I was in a fight. I’ll hold my L for Summer 2018.

But, bitches, I’m back!

July 2018: Even with layers of makeup, there was no hiding my skin issues.

July 2018: Even with layers of makeup, there was no hiding my skin issues.

I wasn’t super stressed or eating horribly. I wasn’t sleeping in makeup and guzzling Pepsis. I wasn’t doing any of the things the hundreds of YouTube videos and articles that I googled told me to stop doing. Yet, my skin looked like I didn’t give a damn about life.

August 2018: I did the best that I could with filters and makeup but I needed a real solution!

August 2018: I did the best that I could with filters and makeup but I needed a real solution!

My skin couldn’t have betrayed me at a worse time. I’d just started blogging again and took pics weekly. I was booking speaking events and was super active on social media. I had work to do and 50 bum bumps were not going to stop me.

August 2018: Who wants to worry about a breakout when you’re speaking to a crowded room?

August 2018: Who wants to worry about a breakout when you’re speaking to a crowded room?

At the time, I was using a mask/cleanser by Clean & Clear. I’d tried Organics product line and a host of other products that I’d pray would be my saving grace. I attended a blogger event and won a skincare package from Urban Skin Solutions. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose by trying it. Hell, if it didn’t work, what was a couple more bumps on skin that looked like it had already gone to hell and back?

But God…

I used the Urban Skin Solutions Clear Skin Cleansing Bar like my life depended it on it for about 2 months before I visibly noticed changes. I have no patience so I popped all my active pimples (do people still call them that? I haven’t heard pimple since the 90s) which left scars. My dark marks started to clear up and I didn’t have any new breakouts. By 120 days, my skin was the clearest it had been in over a year!

In addition to the Urban Skin Solutions products, here are my other skin hero’s:

  • I apply Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut Oil to my skin at night after cleansing

  • I drink 100oz of Trader Joe’s Alkaline Water + Electrolytes daily

Now look at me, out here living life with nothing but brows and tinted moisturizer.

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Am I the only one that experienced adult acne in their 30s?

3 Ways to Style Yourself for Brand/Blog Photos

If you’re booked and busy, at some point you will need headshots and/or lifestyle photos. Actually, you’ll consistently need new photos. Don’t be like me. I used my previous headshots for everything from flyers for speaking engagements to my website and social media campaigns…. for two years!

I recently booked a shoot to update my portfolio. I’ll use these photos to pitch for speaking engagements, writing gigs and for my updated website. I wanted to show my personality and not come across as glamor shot-ish. It’s super awkward to not be recognized when you show up to an event because you look like a perfect stranger to the person in the photo that you submitted.

Here are 3 keys to styling yourself for your brand/blog pics:

1.Wear Pieces That Move

Dress: The Loft (thrifted)  Earrings: Forever21  Necklace: Thrifted  Shoes: Smash Shoes  Anklet: @shesinthemood

Dress: The Loft (thrifted)

Earrings: Forever21

Necklace: Thrifted

Shoes: Smash Shoes

Anklet: @shesinthemood

Stale, posey pictures are a thing of the past. People invest in people, not products and services. If you have a business (or you ARE the business), your images should show people who you are. I’m animated, fun and expressive so my photos need to communicate that. For this lifestyle shoot, I chose a thrifted multi color satin shift dress. The dress is a size larger than my actual size to give more movement. When the wind blew or I shifted positions, the dress moved to create action shots. This helps you come alive to your audience (whether it’s a potential customer, steering committee for a conference for which you’d like to speak or an award you’re being considered for) and makes you stand out.

This is a good pic, but it’s posey. There’s no movement and it doesn’t show my personality. It’s very static and corporate-ish.

This is a good pic, but it’s posey. There’s no movement and it doesn’t show my personality. It’s very static and corporate-ish.

2. An (H)Air of Familiarity

Fingercoils are my go-to style! It looks better as it gets older. This is Day 7.

Fingercoils are my go-to style! It looks better as it gets older. This is Day 7.

Hair is an accessory that I change often. However, I wear my natural hair more often than not. I love that my coils are random and are perfectly imperfect. It’s how I show up as my most authentic self. With wigs and weaves, I feel like I’m playing dress up. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love switching it up and trying new looks. When I pitch, I want to present just Kish, naturally. Choose a hairstyle that reflects how you show up most often. Most importantly, choose a style that you feel the most “you” in. Save the experimental hair for another time.

LOVE my hair here! I wear my fro more often than not so I wanted headshots that reflect how I’ll likely show up when I’m booked.

LOVE my hair here! I wear my fro more often than not so I wanted headshots that reflect how I’ll likely show up when I’m booked.

3. Make Me Over?

I started with a nude lip but halfway through the shoot, I was bare lipped! This is so true to life because I rarely refresh my lipstick during the day.

I started with a nude lip but halfway through the shoot, I was bare lipped! This is so true to life because I rarely refresh my lipstick during the day.

Most of us book a makeup artist for professional shoots. Most of us is me. I get it, since you’re paying for the service, it’s tempting to want to try a new or dramatic look. Don’t do it sis! If you don’t normally wear makeup, then go for a natural look. On the other hand, if you don’t leave the house without your face beat to the gawds, then go full out! The goal is to look like yourself. How do you show up? I love makeup but 98% of the time I’m rocking a natural look (tinted moisturizer, brows and a red or nude lippie) so long lashes and glitter shadow wouldn’t be “natural” for me. Trust me, it’s totally ok to wear Carmex in your photos.

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What do you do to make sure that your headshots/lifestyle pics showcase your authentic self?