The Art of Being a Black Woman with Natural Hair - In the Beginning

The art of being a black woman with natural hair.png

Today I'm talking about why I started the last post about being a black woman with natural……….to me everything is an Art, even the art of beauty and finding who you are based on how you look and what is considered beautiful. This post goes back to when I was younger and having natural hair was not something that was part of my life. I don't remember what my natural hair looked like because my mother started pressing my hair from the age of 5 or 6 and all I remember is my hair being either pressed with an iron comb, that was heated on a stove, or my mother using chemicals in my hair to make it softer.

Get your printer to print your poster and WHALA!!!

Get your printer to print your poster and WHALA!!!

One day my mother's friend who normally came to straighten my hair couldn't make it, so my mother decided to do it yourself. She placed the chemicals in my hair and told me to sit down and relax, but as I sat there my hair started to burn or I should say my head started to burn, so I call out to my mother but Mother's….you know how they are… she thought I was simply being annoying and complaining, so she shouted at me to stay put because I only had a few more minutes. So I sat and waited with my burning head. I guess that’s why relaxers never bothered me after.

 

The burning got worse, until I couldn't take it anymore and I called out to her indicating that I think I needed to wash out the relaxer. When she finally came to check on me I heard her make a strange sound, like a “ohhhhh” so I asked what was wrong she didn't answer. She hustled me to the sink and started washing my hair. I kept hearing her make these mewing noises and as I looked in the sink I saw pieces of my hair washing down the drain. Now I got really anxious especially when my mother was finished and she looked at me with a horrified expression. I got really scared so I looked in the mirror and I wanted to scream…. all the hair on the right side of my scalp was gone there was a huge bald spot, I started to cry immediately and while I cried my mother tried to smother the sound because she was more concerned about my father hearing me crying and coming to check because he would have ben furious. All she kept saying was “don't worry It will be fine”, but all I could think about was I had to go to school tomorrow looking like a bald freak.

 

 What ended up happening?... I had to take hair from the top of my head and make a bang at the side of my head. If the breeze blew too hard, the bang would raise up and show my bold spot…so embarrassing…. it was the worst experience ever. So that  is all I knew, I grew up with my hair going through these different processes in order to make it easier to handle.  The greatest complaint of most parents with kids with natural hair is how difficult it is to manage the hair and to keep it neat. That is why they try these different methods. The  hair is difficult to comb, its hard to take out the knots, that is why getting it to be smooth and easy to manage is why the start so early in a child’s life.

 

My hair went from pressing, to relaxing and then eventually to Jerry-curl. I stayed with Jerry-curl for quite a few years and then I discovered relaxers/straighteners. I relaxed my hair for most of my life, but I came to this point of wanting to go natural for a few reasons:

1.     My hair no longer took to the relaxer. You start off doing relaxers every 6-8 months, when you first start, then it goes to every 3 months, then every 2 months and then almost every month.

2.     My hair looks dead and lackluster. The setting wouldn’t stay. The curling iron didn’t keep the style.

3.      I also reached a point in my life at the age of 50 where I realized that I didn’t want relaxed hair anymore. I wanted to experience my natural hair. I got very curious. I saw a few women with natural hair and it looked amazing.

4.     It was on my mind a lot. I considered it a lot. It was a turning point for me. I was at a Crossroads in my life and transitioning from relaxed hair to my natural hair was a statement. A statement of change, of freedom, of removing boundaries and doing and being totally me.

 

Before you make that decision or decide to go through the transition, you sometimes think about what will happen when your hair starts to grow out from a relaxer, it starts to look awful, untidy, so women hit that point of having a bad hair day and they immediately begin rethinking their decisionto go natural. I needed to know more about that transitioning. I needed to know more about what natural hair entailed. Was it easier to handle, was it more work, was it just as costly as a relaxer or were there styles I could easily put my hair in when I didn’t want to style it? All these questions were on my mind and I wanted answers and I'm one of those people I do a lot of research.

combination of black people.jpeg

 

I love doing research, I love reading. I love gathering the information, so that is what I did. I started looking at blogs, reading what ever looked interesting or would answer one of my questions. I went unto Pinterest, which is my favorite search engine and looked and pinned masses of pictures. I started doing a board on all the stages of natural hair transition, hair care, hair products, hair blogs and much more. But in looking at all of these pictures on Pinterest I fell in love with the short natural hairstyle. The shortcut was just very sexy and so cute, to me it was a fantastic look.

Read more in my last Blog on this topic.

 




Inspiration is a necessity for Artist

Inspiration is a necessity fr an artist. read more, www.gafra.org

Hi guys….there are always times when an artist has a day or days when they feel uncreative or uninspired. Sometimes the days become weeks or even months. Lately I haven’t been feeling to paint. I think in starting my Etsy Shop teaprint and creating as many printables as I can, my satisfaction started coming from creating these digital products rather than painting. This period of lack of artistic inspiration is a common phase for every artist, however, all of us that love to be creative, suffer quite a bit from these stages. We feel like we’ll never be able to create anything good in our lives, ever again.

That is happening to me right now and I would like it to end immediately, but at the same time, I’m afraid to go back to my easel and face a potential lack of feeling or excitement like I normally feel. I read a few articles about this and one artist indicated that she had developed some special “go to” activities that help you get over the temporary impasse and go back to your art with renewed passion. So if you're feeling like me right now, I want to share this with you, maybe this information will help you like it has me. The 10 steps were as follows:

10 Tips to Shake Away the Creativity Burnout and Find Artistic Inspiration

  • Inspiration Is a Necessity for Artists. ...

  • Keep Your Art Supplies and Tools Easily Accessible. ...

  • Just Show Up at Your Studio. ...

  • Take Lots of Pictures of Things and Places You Like. ...

  • Collect Reference Photos and Keep Them Organized. ...

  • Start Doodling.

  • Try something New

  • Network within the Art community

  • Read books that inspire your creative genius

  • Participate in Art challenges

Create for the sake of creating

I was doing some of these and some I wasn’t, but my real beef was my uncertainty about what was my style. I think that is why I wasn't feeling to paint. Deep down I’ve been trying to figure out, what is really my style? because I look at the work of other artist and its clear what their style is. To me it’s because all of their pieces kinda look the same or are similar in design. Do I want that for my work? But do I have a choice? From what I see the customers seem to want that look, they want to be able to identify you through your distinct look, rather than be confused with a combination of work that could have been done by a number of artist. I’m beginning to get it. at least I think I am. From reading and researching this is what I learned:

Style in drawing is a collection of attributes that make drawings unique. Each period in the history of art is characterized by the style of some groundbreaking artists. For example, modernism is characterized in part by Cubism, a style developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.

Here are common drawing styles:

Abstraction/Nonrepresentational: Artists who work in an abstract style make drawings that are usually about shape, line, value, color, and/or texture. Practitioners of the nonrepresentational style of drawing include Piet Mondrian, Joseph Albers, and Al Held.

Art Nouveau: Artists who work in an Art Nouveau style make drawings that are illusionistic but primarily flat, that are highly pattern driven, and that usually incorporate fluid, curving lines. Practitioners of Art Nouveau include Gustave Klimt, Aubrey Beardsley, and Alphonse Mucha.

Manga: Artists who practice the Manga style make drawings based on the Japanese comic book style developed in 19th Century Japan. Practitioners of Manga include Osamu Tezuka and Machiko Hasegawa.

Post-impressionism: Artists who practiced the style called post-impressionism made drawings based on light (the preoccupation of the impressionists) but with more attention to geometric shapes. This style includes some purposefully expressive distortions. Practitioners of post-impressionism include Georges Seurat, Paul Cezanne, and Vincent VanGogh.

Realism: When artists draw convincing representations of reality, the style is called realism. Practitioners of realism include Leonardo Da Vinci, Jean Augustus Dominique Ingres, William Beckman, and Steven Assael.

Surrealism: Artists who draw dreamlike and sometimes startling works based on pure imagination are practicing surrealism. Practitioners of surrealism include Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, and Yves Tanguy.

My style is a combination of or lies between abstraction/nonrepresentational, post impressionism and realism. The design is still all over the place but I’m getting closer to a definitive type of design for my Acrylic abstracts. With my watercolours, I’m still figuring that one out. Again as I read in another article, I need to start drawing again.

DRAWING ON THE POSSIBILITIES

The joy and personal satisfaction of creating a drawing is both an incentive and a reward.The process of drawing and realising you can enriches all aspects of ones life. The article said to think about the following as you consider the possibilities inherent in drawing:

Your drawings illustrate your personal perceptions. Drawing challenges you to communicate what you see in a non-narrative language. Drawing allows you to speak without words. Your drawings serve as a journal of your artistic journey.

Fruit Bowl.jpg

Through the eyes of an artist, you appreciate everything around you from a whole new perspective. Drawing is seeing. As an artist, you visually explore the world with a whole new purpose — to find drawing subjects!

Drawing is relaxing, mentally challenging, and emotionally stimulating. You CAN draw, and you can improve as much as your interest, patience, and commitment take you. The most important thing is that you are drawing. You are making art.

There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to draw, but rather an acceptance of diversity and recognition that every drawing, no matter how much you dislike it, provides a chance for you to figure out something new (even if it’s “I don’t want to do that again!”).

Every new skill requires practice

The three most important elements of discovering how to draw are practice, practice, and more practice!

The key to knowing when you’ve practiced a specific skill enough is when you’re happy with your results.

I've read this and heard this many times....you need to be drawing everyday. I also see this being done by one of our great artist here in Trinidad Jackie Hinkson. He is constantly posting his drawings in instagram....so what's up with me? Again my uncertatinty or lack of decisiveness in solidifying what my style and will be from now on is what keeps me back from moving forward. I still feel as if having one style might be boring but not making that decision is preventing me from moving forward.

What is Style?

Your style is a combination of your voice, techniques, color choices, compositions, subject matter, media, and more all wrapped up. Your style is what binds each of your pieces together into a unique and cohesive collection. The best part is that it continues to evolve over time. Even when you’ve found it, it starts to change.

We can learn so much from looking at our own art. So as I am unsure if I’ve found my style, I need to start by asking myself a few questions:

Are there elements of design that tie your pieces together?

  • What themes show up in your art most often?

  • What kind of subjects are you drawn to? Many or a few?

  • What kind of art do you enjoy creating at the moment?

  • Does your art stand out against the work of other artists?

Its said that when someone is still in the exploratory phase of their art, when an artist jumps around between many subjects, or when their pieces are lined up together and appear as if they all could come from different artists–they haven’t quite figured out their style yet, and that is me to some extent. But at least there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this! It takes time and a lot of work to eventually know your style.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

Copy the World Around me

Mimic nature. Study light, form, color, and shape. Take figure drawing classes. Set up a still life in my living room. Work on my technical skills regularly to introduce a new perspectives and style path.

Practice. Practice. PRACTICE.

If I’m only doing art in my head (chronic procrastinators know what I’m talking about!), my style won’t develop. If I only do art a couple of times a month or less, I won’t see much progress. I have to try to create as often as I can. Every day is best, but a few times a week is perfect.

I have to release my expectations and just have fun.

One article says when you have a precise vision for what you want to create, you limit your perspective and create a blind spot. Finding your style often involves knowing who you are as a person and embracing it. Being an artist isn’t just a career or hobby, it’s a lifestyle. The more you weave art into your daily life and your personality into your art, the easier it will be to cultivate your style, but all of this takes time.

CONCLUSION

Creating and showcasing your personal style is a wonderful achievement. Some artists develop early, and some take years to find their rhythm and voice. Whatever pace you need to work at is the right pace. Honestly, I’m still working on mine.

Don’t try to force your style, but exercise your art muscles whenever you can.

 
9x12 Red Curves.jpg
Country Shack.JPG



My conclusion for self...I know what it is I should decide. I resist it because of my beliefs about the choice, but it has already been made deep down in my heart. So now its to accept and move forward. With my acrylic abstracts I will stick to the style I've developed. With my watercolours I will stick with 2 themes - landscapes and architectural/urban scenes.

DECISION MADE!!!!




Reference:

  • How to identify common drawing style by Brenda Hoddinott, Jamie Combs. Part of Drawing for Dummies Cheat Sheet

  • How to find your style by Kelly Marie

  • 10 Tips to Shake Away the Creativity Burnout and Find Artistic Inspiration by Robie Benvie




What to do After Cutting your Natural Hair

What To Do After Cutting Your Hair.png

Hi Guys…. So from my last post you heard how I never really experienced my natural hair and I really didn’t go through a transition. I simply cut it all of. But when I did that I was ready mind and body to deal with how I would look. As I mentioned I looked at soooooo many Pinterest sites, of pics of women with short natural hair cuts that I was already excited and in love with the look. So that weekend, armed with my photo of how I wanted my hair to look, I organized with my father’s barber and set off to get my hair cut..

I arrived and waited a few minutes then It was my turn for the chair. I showed him the look I wanted and he seemed fine with it. I have to admit that when he started cutting I got a little nervous but when he was finished I was a little disappointed. I found it looked like a short afro but I knew that I still needed to go home and wash my hair so that my natural curls could come forth.

That was the turning point. At home after washing my hair the beauty of my it came out. I looked adorable…if I say so myself…in fact I got so many complements that week, I knew for sure I had made the right decision. So now what? I enjoyed my low cut, I looked really good, but my goal was to see how long I could grow my hair . That was my goal and it would be quite a journey.

So what does one do after cutting ones hair so short? You have certain choices:

1. Remain with the short hair forever. Especially as it's the easiest hairstyle to deal with. No combing, no setting, no effort, no stress, nothing to do. You can go to sleep and get up without having to do anything.

2. Grow your hair as long as you can get it.

3. Choose a mid length hair length that you feel comfortable with.

But this post is mainly about the after care. Luckily, with your hair that short all you need to do is maintain your hair care and stick to a good hair care routine. You can vary the routine at times for a change. Even try different products if you’re bored with the products you’re using. But always treat your hair well and make sure your hair is happy.

The routine I used will grow your hair but you can either continue to cut it, trim it, or let it grow. What is that routine? With all the research I did I developed my own routine based on all the information I had gathered. to start, You need to know what products your hair likes, what oils work in your hair, you need to decide on a natural hair care process/routine/method, and you need to know what is your hair goal.

Mine was to get my hair as long as possible, this meant:

1. Ensuring that my hair was always well moisturized.

2. Ensuring that I used the products that worked best for my hair.

3. Committing to a routine

4. Always being very protective of my hair.


In my next post I’ll go into details on the products that worked for me and those that didn’t, but for now let me explain my process:

I started off purchasing a whole gamut of products that I eventually had to give away. From all the research for my hair I used:

1. A Leave-In Conditioner

2. Hair oil or oils

3. A Styling Cream

4. A Styling Gel

5. Sulphate free Shampoo and Conditioner

6. Large Tooth Comb

7. Silk Cap or Pillow Case

8. Spritz bottle with water (only used if hair wasn’t already damp from co-washing)

I decided to do the L.C.O Method, which means the process follows along the lines of using:

1. A Leave-in conditioner first then...

2. A Styling Cream and finally rubbing in..

3. A Hair Oil Mixture

My routine is to:

1. Co–wash my hair then wrap my hair in a T-shirt (don’t use cotton or normal towels as they dry out your natural hair). Co-washing is washing your hair with conditioner only. Conditioners hold some shampoo ingredients so they do clean your hair but without stripping away the oils within the hair follicles. You can do the entire process of shampooing and conditioning if you feel your hair is dirty but it isn’t necessary. I co-wash my hair three times a week maybe more depending on if my hair feels grimy.

2. Use the Jersy to soak up most of the moisture. I wrap it while I do other things then rub my hair fairly vigorously to remove most of the water from my hair.

3. Place a coin-sized amount of leave in conditioner in your palm and rub all through your hair.

4. Do the same with your styling cream then do the same with your oil. Ensure it is rubbed all through your hair especially on the ends.

5. Leave your hair in a wash and go style or do a twist. Don’t ever comb out your hair with a small tooth comb. This pulls the hair and makes it more difficult to handle. Finger comb your hair, open up sections with your fingers.

6. Do the process above when you’ve returned home from work. Then I normally sit and twist my hair, either in corn-rows, individually or in rows from a center part.

I chose to do the LCO Method versus the LOC method as my hair felt nicer when I put the oils in last. What I don’t do because it affects my hair, is:

1. Wash my hair with Shampoos and Conditioners that contain sulphates.

2. Wipe my hair with a towel.

3. Let my hair dry before twisting. For me the twist comes out wavier when its done while my hair is still damp. Ensure that you aren’t doing this process too late in the evening, so that you don’t go to bed with your hair damp. Use a dryer on mid heat so your hair is fairly dry if you need to go to bed.

4. Comb my hair with a comb. I only use a huge tooth comb when I’m co-washing, to remove tangles. Other than that I finger comb my hair only.

5. Sleep on a silk pillowcase (you can get this on amazon here) or with a silk cap. This prevents the hair from drying out. Cotton or polyester bedding will dry out your hair.

The next morning I undo all the twists in a counter twist direction (it’s easier) and fluff out any spaces between the twists. Twisting can be tiring on the arms at first but the more you do it the easier it gets, then your arm no longer hurts while twisting. I never comb my hair with a comb. I finger comb only


I mixed my own hair oils based on all the information I had gathered. In using certain oils individually I saw the effects of each oil on my hair. I tried using hair rods but ugh!! I can’t sleep with them in my hair as they give me a major headache the next day, so no curlers or rods for me. Because of that, I had to find another way to get the curly style and twisting was and is the best method for me.

I also tried plaiting my hair in corn-rows. That came out ok but when I tried to loosen the plaits the ends got knotted and the waves are not as nice. Another style method is doing individual twists (not in corn rows) then wrapping them into a bantu knot. The next morning you have a nice thick wave with a curl at the end. It gives you an almost sixties hairstyle. A very nice look.

Bantu Nots.jpg

Surprisingly I didn’t do many deep conditioning treatments. I trimmed my hair sometimes if I felt the split ends were really bad. I used natural household ingredients to give my hair a deep clean and all of this will be mentioned in my next blog post

I will share on the specific products I used in my next blog so look out for that.

IF YOU LIKED THIS YOU MIGHT LIKE…..

Black hair.jpg
Gail Circular.png

Hi I’m GaFra

Please continue to read my blogs and send me your comments and feedback. I really want to hear from you.

10 Things I Love About Trinidad

10 things love about trinidad.png

Hi Guys...in my last post I talked about Carnival because that was the season at the time. With this post I want to tell you a little more about my beautiful twin Island...TRINIDAD & TOBAGO….yes I’m giving you some more snippets so you can get a better idea about life over here. So to start I'll do it like the typical countdown. Now I’m going to mention 10 things I love about my country but there are hundreds more but I don’t want this post to become an ebook.

 

1.     I LOVE OUR FRIENDLY NATURE

 

In Trinidad we are so friendly that you might encounter or as we say “bounce up” a person 3 or 4 times for the day at different places and you would still be greeted as if we just saw you.. With a smile maybe event stopping for a short chat. We enjoying chatting and even though I saw you an hour ago I will still smile a greeting at you when I see you 3 hours later at the grocery.

 

2.    I LOVE HOW WE CAN HAVE FUN ON THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT

 

Trinis (pronounced trin-knees) like to what we call “lime”. Liming means getting together to talk, drink, eat, listen to music or play games on the spur of the moment or even planned. There are planned family limes, spur of the moment friend limes, beach limes, after work limes, night time limes and so on. We don’t say we’re going to visit, that is just too formal for us. We say I’m going to lime by my friend or there is a lime by “Smokey & Bunty” later. You get my drift…

 

3.    I LOVE MY SUNNY COUNTRY

 

We have sun most of the year. We have basically two seasons, dry and rainy. In fact right now its extremely bright outside and sunny. The sky is a beautiful cerulean blue, the mountains are green and our weather is just so invigorating. That’s why most Trinis go to the beach on the weekends because it’s bright and sunny and hot as heck. But our heat is a nice heat followed by lots of breeze and birds chirping and fabulous blue skies. Our worst weather is during the rainy season, which starts June and runs to December. Our dry season is from January to May, so we’re in the dry season right now but we will still have some rainy days occasionally, mainly if a tropical depression is in the vicinity. But that’s great though, its great for the plants and it helps cool down the heat.

 

4.    I LOVE HOW TALENTED OUR PEOPLE ARE

 

For a small Island we’ve made many milestones. We’ve had two Miss Universe, in 1977 and in 1988, and we’ve had a Miss World, who happens to be a friend on mine and we’ve had many Olympic Gold medal winners in different sports. We have one of the most famous cricketers in the world, Brian Lara and others. Our music is unlike the rest of the Caribbean. Soca, which unknown to most Americans and Europeans, is even more popular in the Caribbean than Jamaican dub music. We have Noble Prize winning Authors. Our children play Pan and are well rounded. Steelband is well known all around the world and I can mention even more, but that will do for now. An island the size of a pin head to the rest of the world. hmmmm

Steelband in Trinidad www.gafra-art.com

 

5.    I LOVE OUR MIXED ETHNICITY

 

Our culture is a melting pot of people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds….from Portuguese, Spanish, East Indian, Syrian, Chinese, African.

The population is mainly comprised of blacks (the descendants of former slaves), East Indians (originally brought to the island as contract laborers from northern India), whites, and Chinese, many of whom are racially and culturally intermixed. The ethnic makeup of Trinidad is dominated by two groups, roughly equal in size: blacks, descended from slaves brought in to work on cotton and sugar plantations beginning in the late 18th century, and Indo-Trinidadians, or East Indians, whose ancestors were primarily labourers who immigrated from the Indian. I am afro Trinidadian with east Indian, Mulatto and Carib. Caribs and Arawaks were the indigenous Indians that were found oon the Island by the English settlers. You will find people with East Indian surnames but they look black or a person mixed with chinese and east indian ethnicity with an african black surname. We also have caucasians, who are mixed with portuguese and something else (could be any one of the other races). I love the mixtures.

 

 

6.     I LOVE THE FOOD

 

 
doubles.jpg
Phoulourie

 Our food is a combination of the cultures. So you can get Indian food, Arabian food, Creole food, Spanish dishes and more. The key or basic meals we eat I found out recently is very similar to what they eat in most Caribbean Islands as well as in Brazil. That meal is lentils and rice with stewed chicken and salad on the side. A side-walk or street food we all love day or night is doubles. This is eaten at the side of the road where the vendor sets up his box and serves you the doubles on sheets of paper. Our typical breakfast would be doubles, if that’s what you’re feeling for or scrambled eggs and fry bake. Lunch is white rice, peas, and stewed chicken or pelau or callaloo, rice and stewed chicken. Dinner would be what we had for lunch or Crix biscuits and cheese with a cup of tea. You can google the recipes easily.

 

7.    I LOVE OUR MUSIC

 

I have to be honest when I was young I didn’t really appreciate or Pan music or our calypso music, but as you get older you start to understand and get into the beat. Plus the first time to attend a Panorama competition and list to 16 Steelband groups play different or popular calypso songs you feel so different. The effect is amazing or when as the different pan sides are waiting to go unto the stage to perform their pieces and they are practicing on the sides, to walk through them as they practice is again an amazingly enjoyable experience. The sweet music and harmony that can come from a tuned steel drum is just awesome. That is why people come from all over the world just to experience playing pan in our Panorama competition.

 

8.    I LOVE THE LOOK OF MY COUNTRY

 

Poui-tree

Trinidad is made up of hills and lots of vegetation. We have the largest round-about that has an array of trees for example the Poui which flowers coming close to rainy season. It’s a beautiful yellow or different shades of pink and they pop up all over the mountain side. It looks so pretty and when the flowers fall the ground looks like it’s sprinkled with yellow or pink dust. Just beautiful…. I enjoy visiting our botanical gardens which houses a variety of trees native to Trinidad. We have about 386 trees that are native to Trinidad, such as, the bougainvillea, Chaconia or National flower, Crown of thorns, Hibiscus and many more. We have lovely nature tours and places where you can spend a few days and watch the hummingbirds of which we have the most number of species. Places like Asa Wright Nature Centre, Yerette for the hummingbirds and visit an old Cocoa house in Lopinot.

I'm sitting among the Poui in Trinidad. www.gafra.org

 

9.    I LOVE OUR TWIN ISLAND OF TOBAGO

 

Trinidad is the business hub of the Caribbean with our skyscrapers and many banks and businesses. It’s like the Las Vegas of the Caribbean and Tobago our twin Island is like the sanctuary and place of relaxation and get away. Trinidadians go Tobago to get away and relax when they need some R and R. Tobago is very slow paced, more relaxed and has the better beaches. The food is amazing and the people are even friendlier than Trinidadians.

 

10. I LOVE OUR LACK OF DRAMA

 

Yes…every country has some type of issue, because of our location we do have outsiders trying to use here as the go between for drugs and guns but the gangs or individuals that are involved in that tend to be harming each other and many countries are having that problem of controlling the greedy, drug cartels, gun runners, human traffickers but here at least we aren’t in a war with anyone, our economy is doing fine, our Government is working hard to make sure things run smoothly despite the fact that politics can be a hindrance rather than a help, but we manage. And as one Calysonian said in a song, our treasury could bun down but we will still be partying. I remember once there was a hurricane warning and we were asked to stay indoors, but no, not Trinis, some people were having hurricane parties…yep no matter what is happening we tend to keep a light spirit and still look for the good side of life…as we tend to say here…life is way too short to fuss too much or to fuss on the small things.

 

On an aside another thing I love about my country is the fact that we are very religious in that most of us believe in some type of higher being. Most believe in God and we put our faith in him to help us through whatever trial we may be facing. My life is guided by him and all that I have he has blessed me with and I thank him everyday for his goodness. Thank you Jesus.

 

So that’s it people…I hope you enjoyed getting a sneak peak into some of what the lifestyle in Trinidad is like. Hop you enjoyed it and as one of my followers mentioned…she would love to visit Trinidad for Carnival and I said…heck yes…its something to experience at least once, especially jouvert. Bye for now and check you for my next post.

Completed At Last

Completed at last.png

Hi Guys,....sorry about being late with my blog but as you saw from my last post we were having Carnival over here and that is like a huge celebration for 3 weeks straight and on Ash Wednesday everyone is either sleeping, took a day off, at the beach or working (kinda). Tinis like to party and when Carnival rolls around its constant events and fete. I went to only 4 this year and I played jouvert.

jouvert audra, gail martin mirium.png



But i'm really here to talk about my art site and the whole drive to sell my art. I started off setting up an Art blog a few years ago and i also set up an Etsy store t sell all my watercolour paintings. I had just started out and I have to say, things were dismal. After like a year i was so disappointed and demotivated that i closed the Etsy store, and ignored the website.

New time, new zest. I got more involved in my Art and started selling in the Upmarkets here and people loved my work, bought my work and i even gathered a few followers who sought me out to say hello and to let me know how they felt about my pieces. I did a few exhibitions with different groups (no sales with any) and I did my own exhibition (sold some a work). i've learned a lot and now i've reached that juncture in my life where i want some success with my Art business.

 

I run a successful Leadership Development Coaching business here in Trinidad and we make good money at least enough to allow 2 kids to study abroad and be comfortable. All of our children have their degrees and are prepared  for life and know what they want to become and where they want to be in the future. i  however, always wanted a second business that is fully mine. Yes i started this one and made my husband join me and now he runs it mainly but I want my Art to be a success online and that just isn't as easy as one would think. Online is worse than competing with the many Artist in Trinidad. It's like competing with that number times 100,000. So how does one stand out in that ocean of Online art.

 

It appears the answer is developing your skill in using Social media. Social Media is the magic wand that grants your wish but a magic wand that one has to understand how to use it or else you'll cause the wrong effect from your spell. I'm a baby to Social mEDIA BUT i'm learning. All this is the preamble to tell you that I'm late with my blog because I'v been updating my Art site on Squarespace and I created another Art site on Wordpress. Plus i've been creating more professional Digital planners for the Business person. They're different in that they deal with Leadership Activities that we normally don't get help with, such as how to plan out how and who you delegate to, how do you manage interruptions from team members, friends, family, and any significant other and how to set proper goals for achievement. Yes my planners are designed to help with these areas.

Screenshot 2019-03-12 12.42.28.png
Screenshot 2019-03-12 12.41.43.png



No I'm not advertising...I Hate when people do that....and I've noticed most of these site are doing that. No i'm imply explaining how I was spending my time and what are the results. So you can go take a look at them on either site. OH YES!!! AND....I also set up a new Etsy shop...DUH...with me it's all about creating and developing all these artistic things, be they digital or hand made... they are so much fun for me but now I think my husband is jealous of my laptop...because i spend more time looking at that screen than I do looking at his face.

This is my new Etsy shop. I just love what I've done with it. lol

Screenshot 2019-03-12 12.51.13.png


Compared to the Etsy store i created 4-5 years ago this one is great and soooo different, but it's all due to how technology now makes it so easy to create when you can get stock pics easily and there are sites like Canva that make creating oh so easy. I LOVE THEM ALLLLLL!! Ok enough of that. I will talk some more later so see you soon.

 

The Pain of Alzheimers

Hi Guys…today I want to talk about this disease, as recently I’ve noticed how so many people are suddenly being attacked by this disease and it is a hateful disease. I’ve seen first hand what this disease can do and it is heartbreaking to watch, people who played a major part in your life, who were active, smart, energetic individuals turn into confused little children.

I attended a funeral a few months ago of my husband’s uncle who died of the disease. I was totally blown away by the amount of things he had accomplished. He was a vibrant man who touched the lives of many and was involved in politics, the arts and more. He was vital to his village council and more but to degenerate to a man who would run away, destroy things in the home, not recognise friends or even family. This is the height of sadness.


Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimers Disease

This disease to me attacks the brain and where in a normal person the brain guides our abilities and bodily functions when the brain deteriorates there is no longer that level of guidance for the body to know how to deal with it’s organs and this is what inevitably causes death. The organs shut down due to no guidance from the brain.So what is this disease called Alzheimers? I wanted to do a bit of research to learn more and I'm sharing what I found. If you have a lived one suffering from this disease or you know someone who has it maybe this will help you understand it a bit more. It helped me.

Alzheimer's disease (AD), also referred to simply asAlzheimer's, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and worsens over time. It is the cause of 60–70% of cases of dementia. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events (short-term memory loss).

 

Every person with Alzheimer’s experiences the disease differently, but people tend to experience a similar trajectory from the beginning of the illness to its end. The precise number of stages of Alzheimer’s is somewhat arbitrary. Some experts use a simple three-phase model (early, moderate and end), while others have found a granular breakdown to be a more useful aid to understanding the progression of the illness.

 SUMMARY:

 What are the symptoms of early onset Alzheimer's disease?

  • ·       Memory loss that disrupts daily life….

  • ·       Difficulty planning and solving problems. ...

  • ·       Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure

  • ·       Difficulty determining time or place. ...

  • ·       Vision loss. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.

  • ·       Difficulty finding the right words. ...

  • ·       Misplacing items often. ...

  • ·       Difficulty making decisions.

  • ·       Withdrawal from work or social activities

  • ·       Changes in Mood and personality

The most common system, developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg of New York University, breaks the progression of Alzheimer’s disease into seven stages.

Here is a summary of the seven stages of Alzeimer’s based on Dr. Resiberg’s system:

Alzhiemers. www.gafra.org

Stage 1: No Impairment

During this stage, Alzheimer’s is not detectable and no memory problems or other symptoms of dementia are evident.

 

Stage 2: Very Mild Decline

The senior may notice minor memory problems or lose things around the house, although not to the point where the memory loss can easily be distinguished from normal age-related memory loss. The person will still do well on memory tests and the disease is unlikely to be detected by loved ones or physicians.

 

Stage 3: Mild Decline

At this stage, the family members and friends of the senior may begin to notice cognitive problems. Performance on memory tests are affected and physicians will be able to detect impaired cognitive function.

People in stage 3 will have difficulty in many areas including:

  • ·     Finding the right word during conversations

  • ·       Organizing and planning

  • ·       Remembering names of new acquaintances

People with stage three Alzheimer’s may also frequently lose personal possessions, including valuables.

 

Stage 4: Moderate Decline

In stage four of Alzheimer’s, clear-cut symptoms of the disease are apparent. People with stage four of Alzheimer’s:

  • ·       Have difficulty with simple arithmetic

  • ·       Have poor short-term memory (may not recall what they ate for breakfast, for example)

  • ·       Inability to manage finance and pay bills

  • ·       May forget details about their life histories

 

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline

During the fifth stage of Alzheimer’s, people begin to need help with many day-to-day activities. People in stage five of the disease may experience:

  • ·       Difficulty dressing appropriately

  • ·       Inability to recall simple details about themselves such as their own phone number

  • ·       Significant confusion

On the other hand, people in stage five maintain functionality. They typically can still bathe and toilet independently. They also usually still know their family members and some detail about their personal histories, especially their childhood and youth.

 

Stage 6: Severe Decline

People with the sixth stage of Alzheimer’s need constant supervision and frequently require professional care. Symptoms include:

  • ·       Confusion or unawareness of environment and surroundings

  • ·       Inability to recognize faces except for the closest friends and relatives

  • ·       Inability to remember most details of personal history

  • ·       Loss of bladder and bowel control

  • ·       Major personality changes and potential behavior problems

  • ·       The need for assistance with activities of daily living such as toileting and bathing

  • ·       Wandering

Stages 7: Very Severe Decline

Stage seven is the final stage of Alzheimer’s. Because the disease is a terminal illness, people in stage seven are nearing death. In stage seven of the disease, people lose the ability to communicate or respond to their environment. While they may still be able to utter words and phrases, they have no insight into their condition and need assistance with all activities of daily living. In the final stages of Alzheimer’s, people may lose their ability to swallow.

 

What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and typical age-related changes?

Signs of Alzheimer's and Dementia Typical Age-Related Changes

  • Poor judgment and decision-making  - Making a bad decision once in a while

  • Inability to manage a budget  - Missing a monthly payment

  • Losing track of the date or the season - Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later

  • Difficulty having a conversation - Sometimes forgetting which word to use

  • Misplacing things and being unable to remember where they were placed. - Losing things from time to time  - retraces steps to find them

I hope you learned something more about this disease called Alzheimers and lets work hard to prevent any of our loved ones from having to suffer to badly via early detection.

References:

  • Alziemers.net

  • Heartline.com

  • Alzhiemers Association

Gafra.org

Hi! I’m Gafra

Enjoy my blog. Learn more about me.

Get this planner at my Etsy Store, Click below.

Get this planner at my Etsy Store, Click below.

 
Name *
Name

The Art of Being A Black Woman with Natural Hair

Being black and handling your Natural hair. What is that all about?

Being black and handling your Natural hair. What is that all about?

Hi guys…..…..i was thinking back to when I first started going on my Natural Hair Journey. this is how it started….I had decided to go natural but I needed to do a lot of research first, as usual. So in looking at many pictures on Pinterest, I fell in love with the short natural hairstyle. The shortcut was just very sexy and so cute, to me it was a fantastic look…..

 
IMG_6594.jpg
IMG_6597.jpg

 So I fell in love with the natural short hair cut and when my relaxed hair started to grow out, instead of transitioning, I decided to cut it all off. So that is what I did. I didn’t bother with going through that annoying stage of transitioning from the relaxed to the natural. The thing is most women are afraid of this choice, why? Allot of women I meet on the street tend to ask me …..”what did you do to transition” and when I tell them I didn't I just cut it all off, most of these women say…OH NO!! I can’t do that I don’t have the face for it”….or “ Nah I Can’t do that I don’t have the shaped head for that”…What they are really saying is that they are afraid of this process because it’s so drastic and it means that they can’t hide behind their hair as the focus of their beauty. To women our hair is a major player in making us feel good about ourselves or to feel beautiful.

 But to me there is no such thing as looking bad with a short natural hairstyle. The bold look is a beauty in itself. It also takes a lot of courage on the part of that woman, to show all of herself, all of her features. To me the short hairstyle looks good on everyone. When your hair is cut that short your face is now the prominent part of you. People see you. Woman fear being seen and with a short cut she can no longer hide behind her hair. She is being seen as she is. I have no problem with that and I had no problem with that. It’s didn’t allow that fear or uncertainty to prevent me from trying what I wanted to.

 I know every single woman is beautiful in their own right and when you go short all you have to do is ROCK IT. You play it up, wear the amazing makeup, wear the huge earrings, wear the head wraps, wear the amazing makeup that makes your eyes pop because you do look beautiful and there's no such thing as “my head isn't shaped for a short haircut”.  My sister-in-law was always wearing wigs or weaves or braids. For as long as I have known her that all she wore. I didn’t know what her natural hair looked like. Never saw her au natural.

And for as long as I've known her it bothered me, I really wanted to tell her to stop it. Stop wearing wigs and weaves because they were damaging her hair. At least that's my opinion. I think wigs and weaves stifle your hair. Your hair needs to breathe, your hair can’t grow if it can’t breath. Your hair gets very badly treated when you wear those “things” constantly. Your hair needs to breathe, and your head is able to feel the air, to finally breathe when you give it a break and a long one from those “things”.

 I finally told her what I felt, I told her she needed to stop wearing those things and she had reached a point where she was going to redo her hair and I think she also wanted a change. My words must have sunk in because as the hairdresser asked her if to refresh the weave?.... she decided to not bother and instead of replacing the weave she told her to cut it all off. She went even further than I did, she went almost completely bald.  


And even though in doing that you saw the patches/spaces where hair had suffered, I told her her face was now prominent and her beauty now shone through. She looked really good. The shape of her face, her eyes, it was like seeing them for the first time. And then my girl stared to ROCK IT. The big earrings, the makeup, she looked GOOD!!!

 
Patchy hair from too many weaves.
Weave Balding.jpeg

The short haircut enhances the features you always had but her features with a little makeup and stylish earring and she looked amazing. So my my words to all the women out there…. there's no such thing as you don't have the head shape for a natural short haircut. My daughters, after seeing me go natural they all went natural as well. One cut her hair short like I didi and the other daughter, whose hair was at the middle of her back…. she had a relaxer ….and I never thought she would ever cut it since long hair was a big thing for her…. she cut it all off and OMG!!! she was the cutest thing I've ever seen.

 So don't let fear hold you back you are beautiful. And remember hair grows back. I will talk some more in my next post about why I stopped relaxing my hair.  There are five reasons for me against having relaxed hair. I didn't know about the beauty of natural hair while I was young because my mother never allowed me to experience it and although I loved and enjoyed my relaxed hair, I don't regret moving away from it, but I do regret not having had the opportunity to experiment and experience my natural hair , to especially see how far I could have taken it.  But everything happens in its own time, I'm doing that now, I’m having my experience and I thank you for sharing my story and this journey with me.

 I'll see you at my next post love you all have a great day.

 



Carnival 2019 in Trinidad & Tobago

Hi guys…..I’ve written about this before but that time has come around again. It’s CARNIVAL IN TRINIDAD!!!!!! Yes people partying for weeks with 3 or more parties happening everyday and then there will be the parade of carnival costumes in the streets on the last two main Carnival days. I wanted to do everything this year…that means going to at least 4 all inclusive fetes, doing Jouvert, going Panorama and also playing Mass but the finances just weren’t holding up so I had to pick and choose which events I could go to.


Just to explain…in Trinidad we have 2 days where different Carnival Bands dance through the streets in their fantastic costumes on Carnival Monday 4th March and Tuesday 5th March. Carnival bands are organized groups made up of participants who pay for costumes fashioned by a designer and assembled by teams of volunteers. The costumed participants dance through the streets to the sounds of a steel band, a soca band or a d.j.

Carnival Costumes in Trinidad & Tobago

Carnival Costumes in Trinidad & Tobago

Note: Historians say they believe the first "modern" Caribbean Carnival originated inTrinidad and Tobago in the late 18th century when a flood of French settlers brought the Fat Tuesday masquerade party tradition with them to the island, although Fat Tuesday celebrations were almost certainly taking place at least a century.



The 2 or 3 weeks before those two days there are hundreds of events like Steelpan Competitions (know as Panorama), Calypso Competitions (Groovy, Power, Chutney, Calypso and Ex Tempo), All Inclusive fetes, Cooler fetes, and more. All Inclusive fetes are parties you pay around $150USD and you get as much food as you want, drinks of all kinds – cocktails, champaign, mixed drinks – live calypso or Groovey singers….only the best of the best Trini Kaiso and Soca entertainers.




A fête, or fete, is an elaborate festival, party or celebration. In Britain, fêtes are traditional public festivals, held outdoors and organised to raise funds for a charity. They typically include entertainment and the sale of goods and refreshments.



Note: Steelpan- a percussion instrument originating in Trinidad, made out of an oil drum with one end beaten down and divided by grooves into sections to give different notes.



You dance, jump and “wine” from 3:00pm until midnight. It’s the best EVER!!!!. “Wine” or “wining” is the name given to the dance of Trinidad and Tobago.Talk about a great stress reliever, that is what Carnival is for many. There are people who go from one party to the next then go straight to work, e.g. my daughter’s friend went to a Fete on Tuesday from 2pm to 11pm then straight from that Fete to another one starting from 11pm to 9am the next day and from that she went straight to work for 9am.

Playing Jouvert 4th march 2019 with friends in the Duck Crew

Playing Jouvert 4th march 2019 with friends in the Duck Crew

We live for Carnival, the fun, the excitement , the meeting up of friends you haven’t seen in a long time and family from abroad comes just for the Carnival “bacchanal”.Our Festival is AMAZING, FUN, LOVE BETWEEN PEOPLE and everyone gets along with everyone. So in the end I did two fetes although we paid to go to three. My husband was just too tired that day so we didn’t go the Vale Fete. We attended Holy Name Convent’s Cooler Fete. Many of the schools have parties as a means of raising funds for the School. Schools like QRC, Fatima, the University, Bishops have been having All Inclusive Fetes for years. The newcomers are CIC and Holy Name.

We live for Carnival, the fun, the excitement , the meeting up of friends you haven’t seen in a long time and family from abroad comes just for the Carnival “bacchanal”. Our Festival is AMAZING, FUN, LOVE BETWEEN PEOPLE and everyone gets along with everyone. So in the end I did two fetes although we paid to go to three. My husband was just too tired that day so we didn’t go the Vale Fete. We attended Holy Name Convent’s Cooler Fete. Many of the schools have parties as a means of raising funds for the School. Schools like QRC, Fatima, the University, Bishops have been having All Inclusive Fetes for years. The newcomers are CIC and Holy Name.

Even St. Joseph Covent who I know the Nuns said they would never allow a fete on the grounds had to give in to the school partnering with 2 other schools. Fatima and St. Francois to host a Cooler fete because the funds helps the schools build computer rooms, put in new computers, fix areas that are run down and pay for whatever issues the school maybe experiencing. They are normally organized by the Past Students, which removes the headache and stress of organizing an event to them versus the teachers etc. Some of these High Schools are so great at running these events that their tickets are prime.

Ok to continue….I attended my daughter’s high school cooler fete at Holy Name and a Fete called Farmhouse which was hosted in Chaguaramas Prominade…I was WONDERFUL!!! I had a ball. I went with my husband, my girlfriend and we organized to meet 3 other couples there. I “bounced up” so many people I haven’t seen in a long while as well as some of my clients that I call friends.

Me at the Holy Name cooler Fete.

Me at the Holy Name cooler Fete.

So 2 out of 3 fetes attended. I couldn’t play mass as the costumes were a bit over my budget…that is why some people take loans for Carnival…with the cost of the Carnival costumes, all the fetes, Panorama and more you end up spending a minimum of  $2500.USD, an amount I can’t spend right now. So the 3 Fetes.......one we got the tickets free (Holy Name) and the other 2 combined cost me  USD $250 and then there is JOUVERT!!!!  That’s where different bands of people (which could total 1000’s) in casual t-Shirts and shorts or less get covered in paint or mud, or chocolate, or powder or clay and we dance through the streets following Music trucks and breakfast is provided as well as drinks…soft and alcoholic because this parade starts at 4am in the morning.

 

Yes people I got up at 1am to get ready to collect a friend, went to the meeting point in my paid for T-shirt (that you can cut up into all kinds of stiles), cup, hat, beads provided for our portrayal. When you arrive you get a drink, listen and dance to music while you wait for when the trucks move unto the road where we follow, dancing and prancing in the streets behind them. OH I forgot to mention that as we are waiting we each go to get paint smeared all overs…on our clothes, hair, legs..…anywhere the skin is showing.

Jouvert in Trinidad & Tobago

Jouvert in Trinidad & Tobago

video Block
Double-click here to add a video by URL or embed code. Learn more


Once the truck leaves the compound then we follow. It drives around the town with us following-dancing behind it, along the way we encounter other bands and we let them pass or we dance with them, but I’m talking about bands with hundreds of people so it only sounds simple. We dance all morning from 4am until 8 or 9am. WONDERFUL FUN!!!.

 

Inspite of all that prancing I’m not tired, I guess working out in the gym at 5am then walking the hills of Chancellor in the afternoon has built up my stamina. But I will feel it a little later in the day, but for now I;\”m watching the Parade of the bands on TV while I recoup from Jouvert.

 

I hope one day one of you m readers can come visit Trinidad to experience our Carnival…none of the carnivals in the other countries like Brazil or even Mardi Gras in New Orleans comes close and I’ve experienced Mardi Gras.

Me and my friends at Jouvert 2019

Me and my friends at Jouvert 2019

Gafra.org

Hi! I’m Gafra

Enjoy my blog. Learn more about me.

Get this planner at my Etsy Store, Click below.

Get this planner at my Etsy Store, Click below.

 

God is Good and Art is Alive

Hi Everyone, i remembered this post recently and it rejuvenated my feelings about my art and my efforts to build my Art Business. Lately I've been rather slow in getting back into my art. I set myself a challenge to paint a watercolor landscape every day for 30 days and to date I've managed to stick at it. My focus lately has been to build up both of my blogs, set up my Online Course, sell my printables and lastly, set up my Etsy Store.

 

I've been a little disappointed that no one has bought a single printable or any of my printable watercolour paintings but I guess its because I haven't pushed enough "traffic" to my blogs and to an extent that is correct but I don't want to go the route of writing blogs only to sell an item because I want to continue sharing on topics that interest me. I will continue to offer my art for sale and I hope some begin to love my style, which I have to say I am still figuring out. Art is like introspection. Its looking within and seeing who you are. It's about letting out the energy and power within that dwells within but has a strong urge to be released and that is what I try to do. Let out my inner being.

So this is the blog post from way back when that gave me back my faith in my Art and my painting abilities.

"I've been soooo busy, yes like a crazy person as usual. I've been on a drive to get my art out there and I've been...as you know...doing allot of acrylic abstracts but now I'm doing allot of miniature acrylic abstracts. They have been so much fun, so I'm totally enjoying myself. The only challenge is time. I've been feeling extremely rushed and anxious because when I want to be painting I'm at my other job. But that pays the bills and my art doesn't, at least not yet, so I can't push it aside. Anyway, let me tell you about the great thing that happened.

I say God is good because although I had a weird week of accidents, I visited my favourite art supply store again....yes again and who happens to be there? One of Trinidad and Tobago's most amazing artist Jackie  Hinkson. I love his work and I kinda got star struck. He taught one of my art classes way way back, so I didn't think he would remember me. I was oh so polite to him but he did catch me drooling...so embarrassing. I built up the courage to go talk to him and reminded him of where we met and he remembered the class. (BIG SMILE).

The best part was, when he was leaving, he asked if I still painted and I said yes, but I'm doing some acrylics and less watercolour. However I intended to restart on the watercolours. He said yes watercolours are difficult but keep trying. He also offered to critique my work. Well people, I'm not one to waste or lose an opportunity. I definitely GRABBED that one. The same afternoon as soon as I returned home I sent him an email and 3 of my pieces to critique.

Do you know he really responded  and his feedback was so great and made me feel sooooo resolved to continue my painting and to know that I wasn't on the wrong track. It confirmed me and now I'm off and running. The great thing is, we continue to correspond as I've sent him another watercolour and an abstract to hear his thoughts about them. He encouraged me to do Plein Air, which I know I need to do more often but I tend to avoid it. Plein Air is hard, especially as the paint dries so quickly as you're painting. Below is the Plein Air I attempted once and didn't like, but I will take his advice and do one that is simple and see how that one turns out. Its a painting of the Haynes Manor by the savannah. See what I mean?


Hayes Manor2.jpg

Since that painting I've done many more architectural pieces but none Plein air, why because I just don't want to go through packing all the required tools to set up to do a plein air painting. But I have been doing a lot of landscapes to help build up my looseness. See 2 below that were done just last week.

red landscape_1 (1).jpg
Watercolour landscape by gafra.org
Gail Circular.png

Hi I’m GaFra

Please continue to read my blogs and send me your comments and feedback. I really want to hear from you.

Stages of Female & Male Menopause

Stages of Female & Male Menopause. www.gafra.org

Hi everyone, I'm finally going to talk about a topic that isn't really brought up very often. No one warns us women of what we will have to go through when we reach the AGE. It wasn't a very nice experience and it is still happening todate. I wasn't informed by my mother, by friends, no one not until I was going through it myself and I had to go do my research. Eventually I had the conversation with my girlfriends and that was when we brought out all the effects or some of us warned the others of what to expect and what we can do to ease the effect.

For me there weren't many things I could use that helped. I had to ride it out as best as I could, which wasn't much of a help. The hot flashes, the mood swings, the lack of sexual urges and worst the feeling of as if life was a confused ball of nothing. I did my research and although I tried Evening Primrose....that didn't help me. None of the medication recommended worked for me, so as I said, I had to ride it out. Fortunately for me, the hot flashes which would start from my lower areas then move upwards like a flaming fire in my body, changed from flaming heat to just periods of "feeling warm", and that is still happening.

Look at the information I've gathered for you:

Menopause is a normal condition that all women experience as they age. The term "menopause" can describe any of the changes a woman goes through either just before or after she stops menstruating,marking the end of her reproductive period.

What Causes Menopause?

A woman is born with a finite number of eggs, which are stored in the ovaries. The ovaries also make the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which control menstruation and ovulation. Menopause happens when the ovaries no longer release an egg every month and menstruation stops.

Menopause is considered a normal part of aging when it happens after the age of 40. But some women can go through menopause early, either as a result of surgery, such as hysterectomy, or damage to the ovaries, such as from chemotherapy. Menopause that happens before 40, regardless of the cause, is called premature menopause.

Perimenopause or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause. It's the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman's 40s, but can start in her 30s or even earlier.

Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last 1 to 2 years of perimenopause, this drop in estrogen speeds up. At this stage, many women have menopause symptoms.

How Long Does Perimenopause Last?

The average length of perimenopause is 4 years, but for some women this stage may last only a few months or continue for 10 years. Perimenopause ends when a woman has gone 12 months without having her period.

Women in perimenopause have at least some these symptoms:

  • · Hot flashes.

  • · Breast tenderness.

  • · Worse premenstrual syndrome.

  • · Lower sex drive.

  • · Fatigue.

  • · Irregular periods.

  • · Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex.

  • · Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing.

Some common, normal signs include irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, and mood swings—all results of unevenly changing levels of ovarian hormones (estrogen) in your body. Read more about how you'll know you're near menopause.

Other common symptoms around the time of menopause include:

  • · Irregular or skipped periods.

  • · Insomnia.

  • · Mood swings.

  • · Fatigue.

  • · Depression.

  • · Irritability.

  • · Racing heart.

  • · Headaches.

Symptoms of menopause

  • · Hot flashes. These cause you to feel a sudden rush of warmth in your face and upper body. ...

  • · Night sweats. Hot flashes during sleep can result in night sweats. ...

  • · Cold flashes. ...

  • · Vaginal changes. ...

  • · Emotional changes. ...

  • · Trouble sleeping.

The age you experience it can vary, but it typically occurs in your late 40s or early 50s. Menopause can cause many changes in your body. The symptoms are the result of a decreased production of estrogen and progesterone in your ovaries. ...You may find that getting through menopause requires little medical attention.

Do the symptoms ever go away?

Most symptoms of menopause are permanent, unless the woman takes hormones or other medications. Hot flashes usually last about two years, but for 15%-20% of women, they never go away. Insomnia or sleep disturbances also can continue to be a problem.

What is the Last Stage of Menopause?

The 3-5 year period before menopause when your estrogen and hormone levels begin to drop is called perimenopause. You typically enter into perimenopause in your late 40's and could begin to experience irregular menstrual cycles and symptoms such as: Hot flashes. Sleep disturbances-insomnia.

Handling the Menopause Weight Gain

Exercise More Often, More Intensely to Counter Midlife Weight Gain. Start with a mix of moderate and vigorous exercise to burn off menopausal weight gain. Your routine should include aerobic exercises, like swimming, walking, bicycling, and running, as well as resistance or strength training.

Weight distribution changes as you hit menopause, with the added pounds accumulating right around your belly Before, during, and after menopause, your estrogen levels begin to wane and your metabolism slows, making it more difficult for you to lose weight, particularly around your middle. And belly fat isn’t just annoying — it’s also unhealthy. Studies show it increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and perhaps even early death. Here, 10 ways to successfully fight the battle of the bulge:

Start with a mix of moderate and vigorous exercise to burn off menopausal weight gain. Your routine should include aerobic exercises, like swimming, walking, bicycling, and running, as well as resistance or strength training

Women may not be the only ones who suffer the effects of changing hormones. Some doctors are noticing that men are reporting some of the same symptoms that women experience in perimenopause and menopause.

The medical community is debating whether or not men really do go through a well-defined menopause. Doctors say that men receiving hormone therapy with testosterone have reported relief of some of the symptoms associated with so-called male menopause.

What Is Male Menopause?

Because men do not go through a well-defined period referred to as menopause, some doctors refer to this problem as androgen (testosterone) decline in the aging male -- or what some people call low testosterone. Men do experience a decline in the production of the male hormone testosterone with aging, but this also occurs with conditions such as diabetes.

Along with the decline in testosterone, some men experience symptoms that include:

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Depression

  • Sexual problems

The relationship of these symptoms to decreased testosterone levels is still controversial.

Unlike menopause in women, when hormone production stops completely, testosterone decline in men is a slower process. The testes, unlike the ovaries, do not run out of the substance it needs to make testosterone. A healthy manmay be able to make sperm well into his 80s or later.

References:

1. webMD – Menopause Basics

2. webMD – perimenopause symptoms

3. Healthline – How long do symptoms of menopause last.

4. Healthline - 11 things women should know about menopause

5. Menopause.org – How will I know I’m in Menopause

6. Everydayhealth.com – How can I lose the menopause belly

Gail Circular.png

Hi I’m GaFra

Visit my new Etsy Storeteaprint” right

HERE.