Unemployment as Opportunity

I have posted before about being unemployed and annoyed but this time I would like to reveal the benefits of my unemployment. Yes, I have no money. Yes, my days go by quite quickly with very little getting accomplished. And yes, I would like for that to change. In the meantime I am using this as a learning opportunity. Not too long from now I will be in graduate school and working, both full-time. I am learning all of the things that I won’t learn in a classroom…at least not one dedicated to psychology. 

The past few months have been the focus of self-improvement. This uninterrupted time has gotten me thinking about all of the things I was passionate about during high school and college but never managed to fully grasp and educate myself in between exams, laundry, and trips to Starbucks. I forgot how much I loved feminism, activism, fighting for the rights of those who cannot fight themselves, taboo topics such as child marriage and the exploitation of the working poor. I miss lively discussions on issues plaguing society. I miss learning about the corruption that our society has been built on. I miss cooking various forms of cuisine. I miss learning about foreign cultures. I miss trying new things. I miss GROWING. 

Though these past few months have been hard I’ve loved the time and space it has offered me to become a better person. Without this time I probably would not be a vegan and here writing this article. Keeping up with a blog did not work for me in college. I was so preoccupied with everything surrounding formal education: papers, exams, and research. Those were the key points of my life. If I wasn’t focused on one, I was doing the other. Throughout this journey I am finally becoming the woman I want to be. Not necessarily the woman with a million degrees but the woman who is aware. No longer will I ignore the ingredients in my food or cosmetics. No longer will I assume that everyone has the same privileges that I do. No longer will I basque in my ignorance. 

There are three major things that I have learned over the past few months. They may not be skills I can put on a resume but they will forever ensure my improvement as an individual. 

Activism

I love learning about the struggles and triumphs of people around the world…women  making a greater appearance in tech, better work life balance for both sexes. I love to see people fighting for the rights of people around the world. What kind of world would it be if people didn’t protest and make their voices heard?

  
Cooking

As I have already shared with you, I have been in the kitchen cooking every Tom, Dick, and Harry meal I can. Trying new foods introduces me to different cultures and the resources available to those regions.  

Saint Martinian Fried Dumpling
  
Aruban Food
  
Jersey Fresh Apple
 Personal Style

I screamed it loud and proud that I would be changing my hair from chemically relaxed to completely natural. Not only that but I’ve been trying makeup techniques and various hairstyles. Pushing myself to the max. I’ve tried contouring and various nail techniques. With all of this practice on personal care I will be more than ready to get these seemingly insignificant skills into my daily routine to improve my confidence in the workforce.  

Awaiting the liberation
  
Front of extension twists (only 2)
  
Twists using extensions
   

  

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Gotta Love Family

A few years ago my cousins from the island of St. Martin/Maarten visited us in New Jersey. They are originally from Jamaica but moved for more opportunities. During their visit they brought back many things from their tiny island: a new accent, stories, and great food. One my favorite dishes was Johnny Cakes. My cousin showed me how to make them and they were my life. This quick, easy, greasy treat may not be an everyday meal but definitely an options for those looking to splurge a little. The recipe is simple and the link is below. *I used smaller portions than the recipe called for. 

http://www.dinesxm.com/recipes/sopranos-johnny-cakes

1. Put all of the dry ingredient in a bowl.

 2. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and then add water.  

 
3. Knead the flour. 

  
4. Cut the dough into small pieces and roll using a rolling pin. Once a piece is rolled make a slit in the middle. 

  
5. Put in hot oil to fry and flip once each side is golden brown. 

   
    
 
6. You have the finished product. Cut it in half and add cheese or mock tuna salad and enjoy. Great for breakfast, lunch, or a lazy dinner. 

  

Brighter Day

It has been over a week since I’ve updated you guys on my struggles and accomplishments. As you know I am a recent grad looking for employment and making my way in a difficult employment arena while also trying to find myself and new ways to occupy my time. A few weeks ago I learned to contour (not well) but effective. I loved the look and that was a great way to occupy my time. This past week has been a bit busy setting up interviews and planning outfits. Don’t get my wrong I am VERY grateful for these opportunities it’s just been a hassle printing multiple copies of my resume, getting dressed, driving in traffic, and showing my best self to these employers. The great news is that the experience is immeasurably beneficial in fact that it’s great prep for the 9-5 work day. 
However, even with the interviews and prep I still have a lot of time on my hands. I have been doing different things to imporve my quality of life because I have the time. The habits that I start now during my free time can be implemented into my busy daily routine of the future. So aside from contouring, vegan meal planning, and skin care, I have decided to focus on my hair health. 

Hair health is debatable in every hair community. African hair is quite versatile. It can be worn: straightened, curly, kinky, coily, braided, permanently relaxed, temporarily relaxed, permed, or completely shaved. With this versatility comes of a slew of opinions. My hair is currently relaxed a pretty healthy. I love my hair in every style that its can be worn. Every style has it’s advantages and disadvantages. 

   
 My hair was first permanently relaxed (which means chemically straigthened) when I was nine yeards old. Needless to say, I have no clue what my natural (non-chemically processed hair) looks like. Once becoming vegan it became difficult finding hair relaxers that weren’t tested on animals, hair products that weren’t tested on animals, and other relaxed hair vegans. Growing out my hair completely from root to tip will be a challenge. Promise not to judge me if I fail.

  
 I have been looking for ways to reduce cost as well as my environmental impact and the amount of chemicals I am willfully putting into my body. I would normally get a chemical relaxer touch up on the roots of my hair. This is because the hair that grows out my head isn’t naturally straight. Getting these frequent relaxers makes it possible for all of my hair to remain as one texture. I could never believe that these chemicals are not causing some kind of environmental impact during the process. Less relaxers, less money spent. And lastly, natural hair needs natural ingredients. Chemically processed hair needs chemicals to be maintained. Call me crazy but I think less chemicals=healthier living. Otherwise how would our ancestors have made it before us?

   
 I have been trying new styles and watching tons of youtube videos. I will keep everyone posted about regrowing my hair from roots to tip with frequent trims and new maintenance. I will be turning my hair routine upside down but I think the benefits will be immeasurable. What is known as “going natural” is a great emotional and physical challenge. Everything I thought I knew about my hair, everything that worked, everything that didn’t is going to change. Emotional because it can be a long process with unexpected challenges. Physical because the skills that I acquired with relaxed hair (roller setting, flat ironing, curling) are all out the window and I am back to the drawing board. 

The good news is that I am always up for a challenge and I never achieved more that when I have to struggle for it.