Monday, March 16, 2015

The One About Motives

There's a pretty strong theme in the scriptures, and in the Christian faith in general, of checking your motives.  The Bible talks frequently about how God searches the heart, and judges by that, rather than the outer appearance.

There's a pretty strong theme in my life too - checking my motives too much.  Many times, I just don't make a decision I should make, for fear of making it based on the wrong motives, regardless of what might be considered right or wrong.

Should I be friends with this person I just met? Well, what are my motives?  Am I selfishly seeking a friendship for proximity to others, or social standing, or solid style advice?  Or am I selflessly seeking a friendship to be an encouragement to others, or to help somebody learn helpful life skills (knitting and efficient dishwasher-loading seem to be my areas of expertise, in case you were wondering), or to share this love that has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit?

Should I post this picture?  Well, what are my motives?  Am I selfishly posting this picture to get people to notice how cool my life is?  Or am I selflessly posting it to spread a little more love and light (and coffee, if we're honest here) in the world?

Well, Es.  How about you stop questioning so much, and just DO THE THING.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether you're doing it for the "right" reasons or not, befriending someone is always the right thing to do.
And, as far as pictures go, I can't think of a reason to ever not spread beauty in this world.  We always need more light.

Should I pick up this hitch-hiker?

Bet you didn't think this post would go there, did you?

The fact is, more often than not, what stops me from picking up random people on the road is not the fact that my responsible safety-conscious parents drilled it into my head that I should not pick up strangers on the road when I was first learning to drive.  It really usually just ends up being a question of motives, and, by the time I've finished questioning my motives, I'm five miles past the hitch-hiker, and it's not really a question at all anymore, unless I'm not late to anything (which is never, in case you were wondering)...

This past weekend, on my way to Austin for a lunch date that I was barely going to be on time for, I saw a man on the side of the road, standing in the rain, holding out his thumb.  He was an older black man with a short thick mop of graying curly hair.  He smiled, looking open and friendly as we drove past, the whole train of us stuck behind that one 18-wheeler going 10 miles below the speed limit.

I was the caboose of that train, and I felt an overwhelming urge to stop when I noticed the hope in his eyes, even as I, the very last car, drove past.  He looked like such a kind man, I thought.  But did I stop?

No. I didn't.  I began questioning my motives, because, evidently, that's what I do best.

I looked in my rear-view mirror and watched him slowly put his arm down by his side and drop his shoulders in what looked like utter defeat.  But did I turn around?  No.

Instead, I questioned myself further.

Y'all.  The man needed a ride, and I didn't give him one, because I was busy trying to decide if I was going to do it for the right reasons.  I'm pretty sure it didn't ultimately matter what my reasons were. I ignored the urging of the Holy Spirit, choosing instead to have a fruitless conversation with myself.

Then, on my way home from work tonight, I saw this lady huffing and puffing up one of the biggest hills in town, and thought to myself, as I really often do, "I should give her a ride."

And you know what I did?

I questioned my motives - am I only thinking of offering her a ride in some confused effort at redeeming myself from a bad decision made this weekend?

I bet you thought I gave her a ride immediately, huh?  No.  I'm not that great.  But I did catch myself - I thought, you know what?  I can keep doing this all day, or I can just listen to the Spirit in me, waiting to speak.  So I stopped, literally at a stop sign, and figuratively in my heart, and I listened.  A second later, I was rolling down the window and asking her if she needed a ride.  She did, and she hustled over to my passenger side.

You know, I really wish, for my sake, more than anything, that I could say it was the best experience ever - that I got to share Jesus, and help her feel better about life, and any number of other good things.

But, really, she just sat there, listening to Andy Grammer on my radio and enjoying my air conditioning, and we chatted a little bit about the weather, and how cute her little neighborhood was.  Then she got out, and I noticed that my car smelled like cigarette smoke, which invariably gives me a headache.  So, no, it definitely wasn't a glowing experience, but at least I finally just took action when it needed to be taken, instead of trying to figure out what my motives were for said action.

This is by no means a call to pick up every random person on the side of the road, or a call to start making rash decisions, but rather an invitation to believers to embrace the freedom of listening to the Holy Spirit inside of you rather than drowning Him out with your own arguments and opinions.

Sometimes you just need to do the thing, regardless of why you're doing it.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Crunchy Chronicles Continue

Evidently, despite my supposed problem with making resolutions, February has become my "big hygiene changes" month.

Last year, it was starting oil cleansing, and trying no-poo again.

The oil cleansing is still showing incredible results, and I could not be more thrilled with it, a little over a year later. I don't think I'll ever buy another bottle of face wash again.

The no-poo, however? Not so much.  I LOVED it for quite a while, but was never able to find a satisfactory way to deep condition my ends, and I knew they needed more than just apple cider vinegar to be healthy.  By August, I'd really begun to feel like my hair was in trouble - the ends were incredibly dry, despite the fact that I had even caved and begun using a commercial deep conditioner.  The rest of it was beginning to feel rather dry and brittle as well.  I eventually just decided to return to regular shampoo and conditioner.  My hair began to feel stronger, and I went to the salon to get the ends cut off.  I told the girl to cut off whatever was needed to make it healthy again, and she held up about three and a half inches and asked if I was okay with that much coming off.  I reiterated that I wanted her to take whatever was needed, and she said if I really meant that, she'd like to take off about five inches.

Yikes!  But I said yes, because I wanted my hair healthy.  Then and there, I decided no-poo was not for me.

Whew!  Maybe I'll never have to say "poo" on my blog again!

Shortly thereafter, a friend posted this link on facebook and tagged me.  If you've done your research, you know that I was thoroughly convinced that the science behind the original no-poo (Whoops.  There it is.) article I read was legitimate, and, really, who knows, maybe it was, and that girl is still thrilled with her hair.  If so, more power to her, but the science in this latest article seemed pretty legitimate too, and also happened to be corroborated by my own experience.  If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that we all have very different needs for our skin and hair care. (Seriously, why else are there sooooooo many different options in that department at Target?)

So, I began to get stir-crazy for a different way to take care of my hair without a ton of chemicals.  Then, Baby Sister suddenly announced that she was going to go a month without using any shampoo, so she did, with lots of dry-shampoo, baby powder, and corn starch usage.  I tried it along with her, and decided I really didn't want to do that, because I still felt like I was putting a bunch of unnecessary junk in my hair.

But then I did my research, and found a whole community of people who have stopped using shampoo, and have started using... Nothing!  That's right. No shampoo, and no replacement either.  This caught my attention.
It seemed that most of these folks would use apple cider vinegar every once in a while if they "needed" it.  But none of them explained exactly what constituted that need.  Many of them also conditioned with coconut oil, and quite a few of them washed with an egg every once in a while.

Yep.  They washed their hair with eggs.  Weirdos.

But hey, I'm a weirdo too, so I decided to try it.  Y'all.  My hair is amazing.  As you know, I'm not into selfies, but I posted this picture on instagram recently because, seriously, look at that fantastic un-washed hair!

20 days with no shampoo!

Alright, so I'm sure you want to know the actual routine.  Caveat:  I didn't go into this specifically trying to simplify my routine or save money, or anything like that.  I just wanted to get unnecessary chemicals out of my life as much as I can.  So this isn't the kind of thing that is going to make life easier because you suddenly just never have to wash your hair.  I still spend basically the same amount of time in the shower.  I just don't use shampoo.  Instead, I give myself a serious scalp massage under hot water - like I probably "scrub" more than I did when I was using shampoo.  And that's it!

I tried to use apple cider vinegar, I really did, because I felt like it was necessary since so many other people said they used it when "needed."  But every time I used it, it just made my hair oily really quickly.  I do like what it does for my ends, though, so I think I may try just putting it on them.

This is really just one big experiment, and I'll hopefully be putting more updates up here about what works for me.

One thing I've discovered is really essential to make this work is a boar-bristle brush.  I brush my hair with mine every day, and it helps distribute the natural oils through my hair so they can help it stay healthy.  And I'm talking a real brush-through every evening.  This takes time!
One bonus about a boar-bristle brush is that it works really well for pulling your hair back into a tight ponytail or bun, if that's something you like to do.  It just makes my hair lay so smoothly against my head!

I've also discovered a good way to deep condition with Coconut Oil!  Every 10 days or so, or whenever my ends begin to feel a bit dry, I take a tiny tiny bit, and massage it into the ends of my hair in the evening, then bundle it all up on top of my head in a high bun, and sleep on it, then I wash my hair with an egg yolk the next morning, and it washes the coconut oil right out. Crazy, right?

The really crazy thing is that I really don't see much difference in how the roots of my hair look after just scrubbing them, and actually washing with an egg - they're equally clean both ways!

A note about washing your hair with eggs:  You certainly can wash your hair with both the yolk and white, but I've heard that this can actually leave cooked bits of egg white in your hair if you use really hot water, so I'm not about to do it.

If you're at all like me, though, and really hate the idea of wasting anything, have no fear!  You don't need to throw out that egg white.  Just put it in an air tight container, and use it as a face mask.  Seriously, just smear that plain egg white all over your face, and leave it for 10-20 minutes.  (You will feel your skin getting tight!)  Then just rinse it off with water and a rag.  Your skin will feel so soft and moisturized afterwards!  You do need to store it in the fridge, and use it pretty shortly after cracking it, because it will start to smell truly rotten if you don't watch out.  I usually can get 2 or 3 masks from a single egg yolk.

While we're on the subject of faces and not wasting things, let's also go ahead and talk about exfoliating with coffee grounds.  Y'all.  It's seriously the best thing.  I sort of forgot about it because I had a semi-traumatic experience:
The fact is, I drink way more coffee than I will ever be able to use to exfoliate my face, but when I began this particular regimen, I got really excited about the prospect of not throwing out coffee grounds, and saved all of them!  They collected in a container in my fridge, and began GROWING MOLD.  If there's anything I hate worse than not wasting things, it's mold, so out they went, and I decided this just wasn't a good idea at all.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, my life is basically a series of dramatic ups and downs...

Eventually, I realized I just had to resign myself to not using all of them, but just keeping them on-hand in small batches, and using up each small batch before I replenish them.

I've just had to learn the hard way that, when I'm using mostly natural things in my hair and body care, they're going to behave as natural things do without any preservatives - they're going to get stinky and gross if I don't use them quickly.

So, I'm sure now you're naturally wondering if, in reality, I'm stinky and gross.  Don't worry - I've wondered that myself quite frequently, because I've always heard that you don't really notice your own smell.

So, today, I did all of us a favor, and asked one of Baby Sister's friends to smell my hair.

She said it smelled like hair - not like shampoo, just like hair - but not bad either, so there!

Maybe I'll come back sometime soon and tell you about my homemade deodorant...