In 2013, I took the much anticipated and exciting trip back home to Haiti. Before that, it had been a number of years since I'd been back to the place of my birth, Ayiti Cherie. After immigrating to the US with my family, I had only gone back once before but was still pretty young; thus, the 2013 trip was my first time back as an adult; my sister was also bringing her girls, both born in the US—never before been to Haiti, so it was a special trip. Would I remember certain things, familiar faces, places or have my imagination played tricks on me all those years. With so much anticipation and excitement, we departed for what would be a mini family-reunion, trip down memory-lane and introducing my nieces to our beautiful culture and country. I had also hoped for a bit of relaxation, rejuvenation and of course, as a foodie, eating as much of that good authentic Haitian cuisine that my stomach could tolerate. The trip was a great success and one that I would never forget.
Thinking back, I am reminded that it was also during that summer, just two days prior to trip that I did the natural hair "big chop" for the 2nd time around. I had been transitioning/growing-out natural hair for few months prior and finally got the courage to fully commit and began this new journey.
I say finally commit because I think when you're transitioning to natural hair in back of mind there's always the possibility of doing an impulsive act such as going back to the relaxer a/k/a “the creamy crack” (what happened during my first attempt). It's been given that nickname "creamy-crack" because far too long, for many women of color, the relaxer had been a familiar ritual, at least monthly in my case; it was habit, the norm and dare I say the "acceptable" way of wearing and styling ethnic black hair, particularly in certain professional settings, especially if your hair was of a certain texture. Like any old habit, in many ways the beginning stages of “going natural” can be compared to a feeling of withdrawal from that habitual act and requires patience and a great deal of will power to re-focused and program the mind, thoughts, ideas and pre-conceived societal beliefs on what it means to be beautiful.
I had a lot of fun in Haiti and reconnected with so many old friends and family; met some new family for the first time but the trip was also emotionally draining. I don't think anyone can travel to Haiti and come back the same person. It's a place that is inspiring, the culture so rich and the people so resilient and driven and have this never give up attitude that is contagious--it's in our DNA and runs deep in our veins, you just can't help but to leave Haiti with a piece of that with you. However, you will most likely also see a lot of things that you wish you could change in order to improve the social ills, such as lack of economic opportunities and lack of access to basic human needs for those in need and suffering.
As a young child, I had so much fun growing up in Haiti and parents often have a way of shielding their children from seeing many things and try to give their children the best that they can provide, but visiting Haiti as an adult, I left with a different perspective and greater sense of purpose and gratitude for how blessed I truly am for the opportunities that I’ve been given in my life. I hope if you get to visit that you will not only fall in love with the natural beauty of the country and rich culture, but that you too will leave feeling motivated and empowered to do your part in making this world a much better place.
I started Creolenatural™ a year later after that trip partly because I think I was still having doubts as to whether I had made the right decision of going natural; I needed encouragement, motivation, inspiration and to feel empowered as a woman in this new journey. I thought well maybe I am not the only one struggling through these issues of self-acceptance, and maybe if I create a platform for women to celebrate and encourage one another, maybe I can give someone a little boost of confidence/encouragement to keep going. I hope I've been able to do that, and if I encouraged at least one person not to give up and continue on this journey to health, wellness, self-discovery and love, I have been successful in my mission. If not, I know that at the very least, I have been tremendously blessed by this experience, and I do not take your support and encouragement for granted. I don't know what the future holds for Creolenatural™, but I am grateful and thankful to all those who have supported our little community, and I want to sincerely thank you for growing and glowing with me! I've been thinking a lot lately about planning my next trip to Haiti, as well as what’s in the future for Creolenatural™ but I can honestly say that I haven’t yet regretted the decision to go natural, and I fall in love with my natural hair more and more each day, in all of its glory, challenges and versatility. I am also not stressing as much about my hair lately; honestly "I just let it do what it do" just be hair; it grows from the scalp; in its natural state with no chemicals; we call it "natural hair" and it's really that simple—and natural hair needs care and love just like any other hair regardless of ethnicity (Caucasian, Asian etc.), well maybe a little extra care but no big deal:).
Rather than focusing so much on hair, lately I've been more focused on inner-beauty, wellness, inner-peace and an overall healthy lifestyle, and maybe it's my professional work in public health law/policy feeding into my personal life, but I also feel it's the right conversation that we need to be engaging in more in this world, especially in current climate. Hair is just hair and beauty starts from within. I think it's okay to evolve in that way, it's kind of nice actually and proof that we've come a long way.