If you're on Instagram, you have likely come across words written by Morgan Harper Nichols and, if you have, chances are you were both moved and inspired by her words. If you haven't come across her beautiful words, trust me when I tell you that you are missing out on some gems. Artist, poet, and musician Morgan Harper Nichols has managed to cultivate a massive following on Instagram (1.7 million and counting to be exact) with her magical, soulful words. Words that seem to hit you right in the gut because it's just what you needed to hear.
I'm one of those 1.7 million followers and the one word that comes to mind whenever I see a post from Morgan is vulnerability. The kind of vulnerability that makes you want to share too. In fact, in 2017, Morgan started a project where she invited people to share their stories with her via her website. And guess what? People shared. Morgan was able to take those stories from readers all over the world and create art with her responses to the stories she received. Of course, all stories and names are kept private but the art she has been able to create from those stories is shared all over social media daily.
Courtesy of Morgan Harper Nichols
Morgan's supporters are not the only ones that share personal stories though. Earlier this year, Morgan shared something very personal with her followers and blog subscribers. She shared that she was officially diagnosed with autism. The average age of an autism diagnosis is around three years old, so receiving a diagnosis as an adult is not as common and more difficult as there is no established procedure for diagnosing autism in adults. On her journey to diagnosis, Morgan found just how difficult it would prove to be. She shared that she actually asked her doctor for a referral years ago after suspecting that she might be on the spectrum. Her concerns were dismissed and she was told that she had nothing to worry about. She took his word but only for a moment.
Last year, Morgan got the courage to reach out again for help and today she is so grateful that she did.
Morgan on what led her to believe she needed help:
"There were a few things, but primarily I was struggling with a lot of social and communication issues. Especially in high school and college but I just thought that I was awkward. I would miss out on social cues and even basic things like email etiquette were a struggle for me. I just kind of put it on myself and thought that I needed to grow up and stop being so awkward. But by the time I was in my late twenties and grown, I realized I was still struggling with these issues and I felt like there was just something there and I didn't know what it was.
"My parents had actually talked about autism before but it is not a diagnosis that you even considered for a lot of girls, especially back in the 90s. And more so for girls of color. And black girls, it's almost impossible. I felt tired and exhausted all of the time. Now I know that I have a lot of sensory processing issues. I didn't realize that things like loud music or bright lights wear on me throughout the day. I just thought that I was just extra tired. So, that's what led me to seek help the first time."
"By the time I was in my late twenties and grown, I realized I was still struggling with these issues and I felt like there was just something there and I didn't know what it was. My parents had actually talked about autism before but it is not a diagnosis that you even considered for a lot of girls, especially back in the 90s. And more so for girls of color. And black girls, it's almost impossible."
Courtesy of Morgan Harper Nichols
On why seeking a diagnosis was the right thing for her and her quality of life:
"I had also dealt with pretty severe depression as a teenager. I think other people who have dealt with depression can relate to this but you just kind of know when you're headed in a direction you don't want to go back in. When I was a teenager, everything was so stressful. I mean, everything from trying to make friends to trying to keep up with school. I was just so overwhelmed and that drove me to depression. I think that was a part of it too, recognizing that it was something there and not wanting to go back to that place and wanting to get help."
Morgan on what has changed since receiving her autism diagnosis:
"One of the first things that the specialist said to me right after giving me the whole rundown of the diagnosis was, 'And it's not your fault.' I cried decades of tears in that moment. It was just such a healing moment for me because I had been putting so much responsibility on myself, especially after having had a medical professional look at me and say I was fine and had nothing to worry about. Having that said to me, I felt it was my fault and that I had to fix it. So having another professional who knows this diagnosis backward and forward tell me that it wasn't my fault just changed a lot for me.
"Since then, I've made some adjustments in my day-to-day life. I realized I was putting so much responsibility on myself, even with work and not asking for help. I kept thinking that I could do it. I've gotten help with things like managing emails. It's hard though because there's a part of me that feels like I should be able to do these things on my own. There's a lot of stigma around asking for help and unfortunately, we live in a society where people don't feel like they can ask for help, even more so black women. I feel like now I finally have the language to work through that and say, 'OK Morgan, I know you feel like you should be able to do this by yourself but there are legitimate reasons why you can't.' I've got to seek help and that's new for me because I do try to take all that on my own."
"I cried decades of tears in that moment. It was just such a healing moment for me because I had been putting so much responsibility on myself, especially after having had a medical professional look at me and say I was fine and had nothing to worry about. Having another professional who knows this diagnosis backward and forward tell me that it wasn't my fault just changed a lot for me."
Courtesy of Morgan Harper Nichols
On what it was like telling those close to her about her autism:
"It was surprisingly a very loving and supportive experience and I consider that to be a huge privilege. I have a sister who was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome and ADHD as well. Because of that, my family at least had some kind of frame of mind on how to deal with these issues. You know, at least how to support each other through them. I only knew about autism because my mom was the one who thought something may be there but she had doctors tell her I was fine. My husband and friends were also very supportive.
"I was just surprised at how supportive people were. I think one thing that can hold people back (including myself) from wanting to share is that sometimes you may feel like you're putting a burden on other people. What I found is that people want to support you. Once you share, you're going to find that people really do care. I was even shocked at the amount of response that I got on social media. There's so much happening in the world and on social media, so I didn't know what to expect. I was just blown about by the support. If teenager-me could have seen this, she wouldn't have believed it. So grateful."
On what she would tell someone who might have a hard time advocating for themself:
"Honestly, the first thing that came to mind is something that I have honestly had to hold on to from the moment with that first doctor all the way to today and in different areas of my life, and that's that there are other people out there. And I say that for those moments where a person looks at you and says that there is nothing wrong with you, you need to stop asking about this, or you need to do this or you need to do that. Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that there are other people out there. Yes, there are people who will shut you down, but there are also other people out there who won't. It might take time to find those other people, but it is worth the pursuit."
Courtesy of Morgan Harper Nichols
Morgan on 'How Far You've Come' and what she hopes readers will gain from her book:
"The book actually started by going through my phone and looking at photos. It was the beginning of the pandemic and I was just thinking about all of the places I've been and could not get to. I ended up on this photo that I took at sunrise in New Mexico years ago. I'm a visual artist and one thing I love to do is paint over photos. So, I took the photo and I put it on my iPad and I started painting over it. When I started painting over it, I started thinking about how much I loved the photo and how beautiful it was. And when I looked at the date of this photo, it was a really hard season and a really hard time in life.
"I just started thinking about how there's probably so many moments in my life where there's two things happening at once, that I managed to notice something beautiful amidst the chaos. So, I wrote the book literally by going through my camera roll and looking at my photos and at different places on the map and finding beautiful pictures and also finding where I was growing in courage or strength even when there was so much else going on."
"I hope the book encourages you to go through your camera roll and find those photographs that show you how far you have come. My hope is that readers are able to see that with everything going on, they are still capturing beauty and able to notice where light is pouring in. I think that those two things together can teach us a lot about our journeys and help us give ourselves some credit for how far we've come."
Morgan's newest book How Far You Have Come: Musings on Beauty and Couragewill be released on April 27th and is currently available for pre-order.
Featured image courtesy of Morgan Harper Nichols
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
When it comes to healthy hair care, there are a few things that will help you achieve healthy strands: a healthy hair care regime, hydration, consistent treatments, and scalp care. While scalp care is one of the most neglected practices, it is also one of the most important. Why? Because it helps promote healthy hair growth, clear hair follicles, and remove build-up.
When it comes to creating a healthy scalp routine, it helps to know exactly what you’re up against so you know how to specifically treat it. Two of the most common concerns are dandruff and dry scalp. It can be tough to decipher which is which, but here’s a quick breakdown: dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, while dandruff is caused by an excess of oil and yeast buildup on the scalp. Knowing that both of these are big concerns, SheaMoisture released two separate product lines to address both issues: the Scalp Moisture collection and the Anti-Dandruff collection.
Needless to say, if you tend to experience dandruff then I’d recommend you try the Anti-Dandruff collection. However, my biggest concern has always been dry scalp. A lack of moisture on the scalp can be caused by several factors like weather, age, and hair products to name a few. I’ve noticed that when I use certain gels or skip out on a deep scalp cleanse, my roots feel itchy and dry nonstop, which is uncomfortable.
The only way to relieve the discomfort is to properly wash and moisturize my roots, so I tried the Scalp Moisture collection and this is what I thought.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
First, What’s In The Collection?
The Scalp Moisture collection is a four-product line that includes a pre-wash masque, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a moisturizing scalp cream. Each product uses moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe butter and vitamin B3 as active ingredients to provide eight times the moisture. Together, aloe butter and vitamin B3 work to restore dry and brittle hair, as well as add relief to the scalp.
Now, let’s break down each product…
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque may actually be the all-star of the collection. Using this deep conditioning masque is one of the best ways to target your dry scalp, restore hydration, and nourish your strands before shampooing.
I started by completely saturating my hair and scalp with water, then making small sections to apply the masque directly to the root. For my girls who have experience with relaxers and perms, it helps to apply the masque to your roots just like you would do with a relaxer. This way you can make sure you’ve covered as much of your scalp as possible while minimizing any breakage.
Pro tip: you can also use a color application brush to make this step easier.
After I completely covered my scalp, I massaged the product into my roots, used any excess on my strands, then left the masque in for 30 minutes. I was shocked by how moisturizing and clarifying my scalp and hair felt. One of the things that I love about the masque is the slip and how much softer it made my hair. While this is marketed as a scalp care product, it can completely transform your hair from dry and parched to completely hydrated.
In my opinion, the downside of this masque is that the quantity is too small for my liking. Truth be told, naturals go through deep conditioners faster than any other product (especially when it’s this good.) So SheaMoisture, if you’re reading this, we’d love a bigger jar.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Shampoo
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Shampoo is a gentle cleanser packed with the same moisture as the masque. The pearl-colored shampoo is lightweight with a serum-like consistency and a light and clean scent. The smell is pleasant, subtle, and not overbearing. When I applied the shampoo, I noticed immediately that it foams and lathers up very quickly, so less is more.
After applying the shampoo, I parted my hair and started at the roots to target as much of my scalp as possible. I recommend really taking the time to work the product and massage your scalp as much as possible.
Pro tip: using a scalp massager makes it easier and it feels amazing.
Once you start to massage your hair you’ll feel the product start to work. There’s a tingling sensation that might catch you off guard if you’re not used to it, but it’s not nearly as strong as other scalp products I’ve tried. I know some may not appreciate the sensation, but I loved it! My scalp felt clean, light, and breathable.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Conditioner
Like the shampoo, the SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Conditioner shares that pearly color and serum-like feel. It applies very easily while softening and moisturizing your hair. When I applied it to my hand, it gave my hands a lotion-like feel, which speaks volumes about its hydration capabilities. I also loved that the conditioner comes with a pump, instead of having to squeeze the product out – to me, it makes application easier.
I typically apply my conditioner to the ends first but because this is a scalp care product I started at the root and worked my way down to my ends. I did leave the conditioner in for ten minutes, although the bottle recommends leaving it in for three. The conditioner also provides that same breathable feel to your scalp. I honestly loved the relief.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Cream
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream is more of a daily relief product for your roots rather than your overall hair. It’s great for providing moisture and immediate relief to a dry and itchy scalp. Just like most of the collection, it gives a light and breathable feel – without the tingle. The applicator bottle targets specific parts of your scalp and makes applying easier.
Pro tip: I typically just squeeze the bottle to wherever I need the relief and use the tip to massage it into my scalp so it doesn’t mess up the hairstyle.
Overall, SheaMoisture’s scalp care line lives up to its claims – it moisturizes, strengthens, and provides immediate scalp relief. I definitely recommend trying the Scalp Moisture collection for an affordable way to treat itchy and dry scalp.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
I don’t know what it is about turning 30 that made me super interested in vitamins and routines, but I love it here. Gone (well, not completely) are the days I let the day turn into night with my makeup, lights, and TV on with my laptop by my head. I blamed burnout on an undesirable work culture, a busy schedule, etc., but growing wiser, I realize the responsibility to set aside time to restore my mind, body, and soul is entirely mine.
When it comes to anxiety, the way I look at the dilemma of the mind is as living in the past and being fearful of what is to come. To combat that, intentionally cultivating routines that involve tapping into my five senses as a grounding technique helps me to become more present and realize what a gift the current moment is. Not only am I able to let go of the feelings of frustration that I carry around stemming from what (or what did not) occur in the day, but I also get to regulate my nervous system to the point my mind can start imagining a better future.
I think of my aura as a glass mirror that picks up fingerprints during the day, and I get to find different ways to wipe it clean at night so that I can see myself clearly the next day. Creating a sensual nighttime routine for myself does exactly that. Here’s how I start:
In my younger days, I used to save this step for right before bed, but I find getting spiritually grounded for a few minutes better assists me in switching from productivity mode to giving myself permission to just be. These days instead of defining myself by external factors like what I do for a living, how much I can produce, and accolades, I take a few minutes to express my gratitude through prayer to my higher power, the universe, my ancestors, and my everyday angels I'm lucky enough to call my friends and family. I am reminded that I am part of something way bigger than I often realize.
This then makes it easier to take time to take care of myself.
Sound: Self-Care Playlist
I’m getting back to my teeny-bopper days when each of my moods has a custom playlist. But this seriously works wonders by listening to music that affirms and uplifts me while soothing me into a restful mood. Don’t get it twisted, I do include a little bit of upbeat music in my playlist to ignite some passion and endorphins needed to carry out this process while I'm exhausted. Hearing my favorite songs at this time just takes the monotonicity out of my routines and inspires creativity. Hey, even a little jig every once and a while never hurts.
Smell: Burning Incense, Candles, and Using Oil Diffusers
Aromatherapy is a part of my routine that I refuse to skip. It's really hard to think about all the annoyances that occurred during the day when I smell the fragrance of citrus or berries in my vicinity! Almost every step of my nighttime routine has scents that are either soothing or delicious to me, from my skincare to the essential oils that I use. This just brings to my attention that often the simplest pleasures in life are free or at least super affordable. Plus, certain essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, and lemongrass are great for calming down one’s nervous system enough to fall asleep.
Touch: Taking the Day Off
Touch involves quite literally getting my day clothes off, getting in the shower, and changing into some comfortable night clothes. I take my playlist into the shower for some karaoke, inviting laughter and tears. My favorite shower products are great for my sensitive skin, but also layer different scents so that my perfume doesn't have to work so hard the next day. Exfoliating and applying body oils ensure that my skin feels soft.
My skincare routine ensures that when I look at my skin, it's bright and rejuvenated in the morning. I focus on glowing before bed because the nighttime is the only time my skin has to repair and regenerate hence the phrase “beauty sleep.” However, skincare does not stop at the face, so I am exploring new body care products to make sure the skin on the rest of my body has an even texture. The self-massage pays off because, by the time I lay down, I'm relaxed.
Taste: Decaffeinated Sweets
Health is wealth, and healthy snacks are imperative to my overall happiness. I try to stay away from foods that are too sweet or caffeinated at night, so I reach for rich and creamy textures and my favorite liquids. Decaffeinated teas, sugar-free ice pops, fruity-tasting sparking water, and fruit and veggies with peanut butter or salad dressing are my favorites.
Sight: Journaling And Reading
Journaling allows me to truly release and reflect on what’s bothering me. Guided journals are a great way for me to stay consistent and motivated by answering prompts. It’s so funny that writing about what caused me the most stress in the day and then being asked what I need to release helps me realize I’m in the driver's seat of my joy, happiness, and destiny. All that I desire is often a decision away.
With my overthinking, I find it better to put my sight and mind to use to read and experience an alternate reality. I’m an audiobook lover during the day, but at night my bed is a no-phone zone. With dosing off and missing a few sentences, it's tempting to get up and grab my phone/tablet, and the next thing I know it's 3 a.m., and I’m on TikTok. Holding my favorite book, flipping through pages, and fighting to keep my eyes open in excitement to figure out what is on the next page somehow knocks me right out.
When I wake up in the morning, I feel well-rested and like I had a much better quality of sleep than if I would have skipped my routine. It’s easier for me to be way more resolute and productive because I’m running on a lot of positive energy instead of fumes. As I continue to practice my routine, I am starting to realize whatever it is that I thought I was gaining by working behind a computerized screen after 10 p.m., I am losing my quality of life the next day. I proudly put my Bedtime setting on my phone, confidently assured that whatever it is can wait until the next business day.
I know my energy budget, and these days, I’m hella bougie.
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