Able in This Diverse Universe Has Its Winners!

Ablecongrats

I am excited to announce that the Able in This Diverse Universe Essay competition has come to an end. Winners were chosen and notified last week with their prizes mailed on Friday. Karrie Higgins has written a comprehensive post on the winning essays and why they were chosen. Please visit her site using this link to learn more.

Here, I will give you names and titles as well as links to the published pieces. Please note there were no second and third prizes until Shareen Mansfield from Open Thought Vortex jumped on the chance to cover them.

First Prize ($250): joining a stream, grace is still possible by seeley quest

Second Prize ($50)Beauty in Mind by Sean Mahoney

Third Prize ($25): Like Echoes in the Mist by Lizz Schumer

Arlaina Ash won the floating prize of a manuscript consultation up to 20 pages with Karrie Higgins valued at $350.

Congratulations to the winners!

I would like to extend special thanks to judges Charlotte Farhan, C. Streetlights, Jackie Cioffa, Kwame Brown and Karrie Higgins. They were an amazing crew to work with and who made this competition possible. Cee actually volunteered last-minute when there were some schedule overloads.

I’d also like to note that Sean Mahoney donated his prize back to Noah and Appa in a compassionate, love-filled move. Thank you, Sean!

I will publish a post on Wednesday announcing the Grand Prize lottery winner of the Write2theEnd Summer 2016 Workshop as well as the total raised by the Four Paws for Noah competitions thanks to applicants and generous donors.

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Congratulations to the Winners of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest

CR winners

The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Writing Competition was pioneered by Charli Mills and the Rough Writers, a fearsome band of a buckaroos who ride by their own rules and write with style.

I reached out to Charli many months yon to ask if she might help me birth a dream for our family: to raise money for Noah and his service dog, Appa. Her immediate response was “Yes!” and she rallied her Writers.

Geoff Le Pard, Pat Cummings, Norah Colvin and Sarah Brentyn saddled up as judges for this competition. Many of the other Rough Writers entered in an overwhelming act of support for our family. To all of you, I tip my hat.

All judging was completed without any identifying information from entrants. Charli and her buckaroos were excited to learn that the first place winner was Pete Fanning, one of the Rough Writers. 

Here is the countdown of winners and their prizes.

Because the pool of stories was so strong, Charli and the Rough Writers selected these stories as honorable mentions:

Casper by Corwin Holzman-Crass

William in Chattanooga by Elly Finzer

Thank you ALL for participating.

An announcement of how much the Four Paws for Noah Writing Competitions have raised will be released after April 30, when winners of Able in This Diverse Universe have been contacted and prizes have been mailed.

New Pricing for Memorial Day Retreats Body, Heart on the Page

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Life is a carousel, and I’ve been spinning up and down. It is a struggle to value myself as my own boss. Putting price tags on the work I do is an arduous process. I consult with everyone I trust.

The writing I coach takes a toll on me, but it also frees me from my own feminine history. I love doing it.

Body on the Page is a retreat I have already put great effort into. Heart on the Page is a dream I’ve been tending for awhile. I want to provide an amazing safe space for individuals to come and write themselves free as I have. But . . .

I have been told people will not attend my full-day retreat (8 hours total) for the price I have set. It smashed me up for a few minutes, but mostly it renewed my pricing struggle. I had a six hour drive to think about value of my time (taking it away from my children, partner and private coaching clients) versus the value of making courses on expressive writing for release and recovery easily available. I took away the money factor with the exception of space rental and materials provided and decided that what I want most is for people to show up.

I know what my work is worth. I know that I set the original price for what I am offering low. But I also know that those of you who need this most are those who can afford it least. I want to work with you.

Here’s my solution: You decide the price.

I still need you to register for Body on the Page. Registration is $25. Because I have to cover my costs, the registration fee will be non-refundable. When you arrive, you pay what you want for the retreat. 

For Heart on the Page, I am lowering the price to $10. You will need to register in advance for the full price, again so I can cover the cost of materials and location.

This means no earlybird pricing and no discounts. Still, if you need this class and you are having trouble making the deposit, please connect with me.

You can register here. 

I hope you will join me. I look forward to writing with you.

With love,

Shawna

Birthday Giveaway: #LinkYourLife Turns One and You Get the Gift

Happy 1st Birthday #LinkYourLife

I had this tiny idea to start an online community of people who actually get to know each other using a Twitter hashtag and WOW! I thought maybe I’d get a small group of tender-hearted bloggers to interact regularly. That’s what we were before Shareen Mansfield stepped on board. She is both my soul twin and complement. Shareen stepped in to facilitate Twitter sharing while I began linking up on Facebook.

YOU GUYS! Can you believe how big we’ve grown? We think a party is in order. Here’s what we want to do.

One of you #LinkYourLifers is going to get a $50 Amazon or cash gift card (you choose), but we want you to work for it just a little bit. You can do this if you’re new to #LinkYourLife as well. Here’s how it goes:

Write a post short by or long about any of the following and publish it by FRIDAY MAY 27: what #LinkYourLife means to you, how you heard about it, why you keep coming back, what you gain, friends you have made or any other aspect of LYL that speaks to you. (You know I’m about to teach a class on love letters. Taking that route will earn you bonus points in my heart, but it will still only get you one entry for this prize drawing.) It would be cool if you linked to a post you read through #LinkYourLife that resonated with you, but that’s totally not an entry requirement.

If you want to link back to a How To #LinkYourLife post, there’s one on THQ here, and one on OTV here. But really just let Shareen or myself know that you wrote a thing. Send us a link somewhere or comment at the bottom of this post saying, “Hey, here’s one!” That way we won’t miss you when we do our drawing.

I will combine my super-duper-wild-linky-thinky skills with Shareen’s eff-it-I-got-this skills to collate your links (hopefully in a couple of roundups!) and randomly choose a birthday gift winner by May 27.

And how about next year we have two gifts? And so on for every #LinkYourLife birthday?

With love,

Shawna and Shareen

My Body, My Host: How I Have Hated You

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I have written my body with many voices. I have written it sideways and from underneath. I have recorded it from the outside while shuddering at what is inside. I have recorded from the inside while shuddering at my outside. I know myself, my scars, the physical and emotional layers I carry. I mourn what is lost and mull over what is gained.

Rarely  have I viewed my body with joy.

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How can I love my body with all it has been through? How, when I have been taught by countless ads, images, voices, actions, adults and children what my body is, can and will be?

My body. My host. Oh, how I have hated you. You are the greatest betrayal. I remember the shame of you from my earliest days. You came with an unforgivable cleft. You were born ready to receive and for every day of your existence earthside, you have shivered in the sun waiting to be told if you are too covered or too bare, too fat or too thin, too prudish or too loose, too hairy, too dimpled, too happy, too angry, too hungry, too, too, too, too. It ended only when you began to denigrate yourself by passing along the shame to your daughter/sister/mother/neighbor/stranger. You reflected onto them what you accepted about yourself. This truth:

I am unlovable.

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I believed this in my lover’s arms and while my children snuggled on my lap and covered my face with kisses. I believed it even as my babies requested that I marry them and offered me plastic rings from milk cartons. I danced through their celebrations of their love for me and their declarations of my beauty while telling myself I am unlovable because of the revolting, imperfect mess of my physical being.

If we can’t love our bodies, how can we love ourselves?

My female experience is typical: at 10 I was bullied over body hair. At 12 I began dieting. At 14 I began starving myself. At 15 I cut words into the tenderest portion of my ankle because I deserved the pain. At 16 I bounced back and forth between starving and bingeing. At 19 I joined Weight Watchers but was so strict with my eating plan I dipped back into anorexia and had to stop. I once again began bingeing.

At 23, I felt in control. I was less ashamed of my body because I was pregnant and the people around me stumbled over themselves to hold open doors or compliment my “glow.” At 24, my son was born. Though I did nothing to help it along, I lost 75 pounds while breastfeeding. I was overjoyed at the rapidly declining numbers, but I was aghast when I looked in the mirror. The world had made a promise that my skin would “snap back.” Magazine workouts assured me my “pre-baby body” was within reach. Even a decade later, after a dedicated fitness routine and cosmetic surgery, that body is unattainable.

There was a choice to be made: I could starve. I’m very good at not eating. I could continue to binge. That is how I prevent myself from starving. Or I can learn to love myself just as I am right now.

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Self-love is a complicated tactical procedure which requires training and perseverance.

It is a path locked behind a poison-coated gate hidden in a thicket of thorny brambles. Getting here hurts. It has opened wounds I have hidden with makeup or slimming clothing or buried in peanut butter and ice cream.

But here I am, through the gate. It’s empowering to respond to the never-ending body-negative remarks of well-meaning friends and family with, “I know I’m beautiful” or “You are beautiful. Tell yourself that because it’s true.”

Here I am I would be honored to work with you.

I found this place by putting my body on the page.

And now I get to work with a group of women as we write about our bodies, what we hate, fear, miss or wish to let go. We will write to destroy what no longer serves us, and we will write a new story for ourselves in which our physical experiences are validated not only with acceptance, but with love. Because women should lift each other up–let the internal and external competition go, begin defining ourselves with wonder and be excellent to each other.

If you’d like to put your body on the page in a safe group setting, read more about my upcoming retreat here.

Body on the Page, Heart on the Page: Memorial Day Weekend Retreats in Bloomington, IN

Body on the Page
a one-day writing retreat for women body on the page final

Body on the Page is a new writing retreat I’m offering here in Bloomington, IN. It will take place on Saturday, May 28 from 10AM to 6PM. This time around, this is a women/female identified only event designed to center yourself on love of your body just as it is.

We will explore the stories our bodies hold and examine what we can let go. Through guided meditative techniques, we will travel our being to locate blocks, flows and spots that need some extra love.

Bring your body fear, your painful memories, your self-revulsion and remorse. Bring the stories you have survived and are surviving and know that you will be held in a safe space. Bring what the world has taught you about being a woman, and leave behind any teaching that does not serve you. Take with you a celebration of yourself and a new way to see yourself with joy. We will write ourselves free of self-judgment with multiple techniques that do not require previous writing experience.

This retreat will be hosted in the heart of Bloomington in a cozy nook filled with coffee, tea, water and snacks to nourish us. This location is new, and not just to me! The Fab Lab and Fitness Studio is sandwiched between art galleries and coffee shops. In fact, the Fab Lab hosts a pop-up toy shop which you will have the opportunity to peruse during our two hour lunch break (1-3PM).

A short walk along the Kirkwood shopping strip will take you either to the town square (chock-full of shops and good eats) and the Indiana University campus (which is, frankly, its own reason to visit Bloomington in Spring). Travel in one of the other two directions and you will end up on Fourth Street, home to restaurants featuring cuisines from nearly every continent. The other way will take you to a pair of museums exploring genealogy, art and world culture. The Fab Lab is also conveniently located within walking distance of multiple hotels, so if you are traveling in from out of town, you will have no trouble finding accommodations.

Heart on the Page
a one day mini-retreat for everyone

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Bloomington is amazing, so why not make this a weekend getaway? Body on the Page is ladies only, but on Sunday I will be offering the first in a series of mini retreats called Heart on the Page that is open to all genders. Enjoy a leisurely brunch beforehand. And if you register in advance for both days, your price will be discounted!

Heart on the Page will be offered monthly, each session on a different theme of writing love letters for joy and healing. In this first mini retreat, we will write letters to ourselves and to our current, future or past beloveds. And because this takes place during Memorial Day Weekend, you will have the option of writing a love letter to someone remembered.

All of my retreats and workshops are safe spaces open to everyone. If you have questions or concerns about access, accommodations or allergies please contact me directly: shawna.ainslie@icloud.com.

You can register now for either or both events on The Honeyed Quill’s Registration page.

 

Journey to Next World

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A fracture in the egg’s shell allowed the white to push out as it boiled. A look and I think, “This is my brain today.” My head is a pressure cooker trying to seal off it’s own leak. Really, that’s my brain every day.

I chew my fingernails down to the quick, blue polish and all. My fingers are stubby and ugly. I hold the egg in one palm, trying to match the fracture with my life line, but hot water spills from the shell before I can. It burns. The egg crashes to the ground. “That would be my brain on drugs,” I think. And then, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.”

There is a wall around the garden outside. Half a wall. Brick and crumbling. kick off my shoes and call to my brother. “Gonna go play,” I say.

Maybe he grunts a response, maybe he doesn’t. He’s fifteen and busy with his own life. With Margaret, a girl who isn’t even real but he loves her anyway and spends all his time building her world on his computer.

I’m not going to play. I pack one of the sandwiches Mom keeps stacked in the fridge. I fill my water bottle. I slide my wallet into my pocket. I’m going to the hole in the garden. I’ve been digging it for ages. It’s finally time to use it. I toe the egg on the floor with my bare feet. I wonder how long it will stay there before it is noticed. How long will it be before they realize I’m gone?

Outside the soil is wet and cakes my soles. The grass was mowed before the rain came in. Small blades stick to my feet like damp confetti. Mud squishes through my toe gaps.

This hole I’ve been digging. It’s a tunnel to Next World. I was shown the gateway in my dream. Beelzebub says I’m chosen. That I can unlock the gate between worlds.

It’s not like it sounds. Beelzebub is my dog, not the devil. And he’s coming with me. He’s helped me dig this hole every day for the last month. On those rare occasions when one of my family members came outside, he sounded the alarm though it wouldn’t have mattered if he hadn’t. No one ever came this side of the garden wall. Mostly, we kept our noses to the earth tandem-scooping soil by the hand- or paw-ful and tossing it in whichever direction was away. Together, we can really make the dirt fly.

“Come on, Bub!” I call. The russet hound flies around the corner in that dog way that is both regal and ridiculous. Together we uncover the wooden door that was buried in the yard. It glows golden as we scrape off the grit. There is a handprint in its center that matches mine exactly. This is the proof I am chosen; my hand is a key. I place my palm to it and wait for the humming and the click of gears. It parts in the center, swinging inward. The gate is open.

Bub and I scramble through together. The door slaps shut behind us, but we are not left in the dark. As it closes, phosphorescent lights flick on overhead. They look like stars in the yawning night sky. I touch one with a fingertip, feel its glass globe.

Beezlebub barks and takes off. I follow at a quick clip. Even though I’ve never gone past the entryway, I know this place. I’ve walked it in my dreams. I skip up and down steps and know which pits to jump without thought. Bub too.

I don’t know where we’re going, but we know how to get there. The slick halls lead us deeper into Next World. Maybe ten minutes or maybe six hours later we stop and share the sandwich. I sip my water and Bub drinks from a puddle and seems to grow, and then we are off again.

The lights are brightening up ahead. Bub and I pick up speed. Almost there. It’s like the walls are singing to us and the stars are twinkling and suddenly, I am sure of what we will find at the end of this journey. I am certain beyond any doubt. I am both excited and afraid, because I dreamed of this. Yes, I did. I dreamed and forgot. And now that I remember I am very scared indeed.

I almost stop. Bub barks once. A warning. We run on.

Service Dogs, Odds and Endings

Appa "dancing" with Noah.
Appa “dancing” with Noah.

The Four Paws for Noah writing competitions have ended. I’m very happy to share that we did come out ahead with these. My family is excessively grateful to those who have donated time, money and energy to these fundraisers. I’ll have a total raised once prizes have been awarded. I’m squeeing over the fact that I get to give out prizes. Gifting is in my Top Two, just after breakfast buffets.

For me, fundraising doesn’t end here. We still have a year of $500 monthly payments ahead of us along with any veterinary care and so on Appa may need. There is also a monthly travel expense as Noah and I work with Appa’s trainer on how to handle him properly. That begins Saturday.

Appa has been an intervention. He is incredible. I am actually devastated to return him to training, but given the manner in which he has transformed our household after basic training, I am more than willing to wait for him to return to us as his best working self.

I will write in-depth about the benefits we’ve seen in the last few weeks. That is for another time. Now I have an obscene pile of kid laundry to separate into “too small” and “just right” piles. I have to reclaim my home. Spring has already knocked twice on the windows. It’s time to push the clutter of Winter out of our nest and stretch our necks toward the sun.

My Father Killed My Creativity But He Probably Saved My Life

My mother had a long-term boyfriend when I was 10 years old. She was going to marry him and, wow, he was like a father to me. My dad had exited my life at the age of five. He was a serial cheater; a man that loved to have women at every port whilst his wife was back at home barefoot and pregnant. He had come into my life again a year beforehand, willing to mend broken ties. His dad had just died and when Mum and Dad were at the funeral she told him. Told him how well I was doing at school, how well I had integrated myself and struck long lasting friendships. He must have been impressed because he wanted to see me, wanted to be part of my life. Yet Dad only allowed a visit once per year. I wanted to see him more.

I couldn’t do the things with my Dad which I could with John. John kept our balance really well. He praised me when I did good things and was strict when I was in the wrong. I came back home from school one day proud. Proud that I had stood up to my enemy and fought to tell the tale. I had won a fight at school. So he grounded me. I wasn’t allowed any fun things for a month.

“That’ll teach you to be a bloody bully” he told me.

Truth is, he was right. I learned a hard lesson. John was good for me. I loved John. John was like a real parent that took the rough with the smooth. Dad was like a knight in shining armor. Dad would swoop in on the good times and take me away for amazingly fun things. He was never there for the bad. But his work took him abroad so I can’t blame him too much for that. Although. Once a year?! Once a friggin year?!

John died late 2012. He contracted malignant stomach cancer and was dead within six months. Something inside me died that year with him. The zest for life and the creativity that came with it faded like a dusking sun and was enveloped with strangling insecurity and bitter anger. Angry at the world. Angry at life.

"Alex" by Yoda Navarette
“Alex” by Yoda Navarette

My boyish naivety and thirst for life was soon replaced with hurt, anger, pain, and confusion. I peered at life through the bottom of a cheap cider bottle and the smoky haziness of a badly made joint. My friend circles changed that year. I went from being associated with all the top achievers and “do gooders” to people that barely had a hope in life; They all had issues. I sought solitude from them as I tried hard to come to terms with the internal confusion I was feeling at the time.

My old friends started to drop off. I can’t honestly say that I blame them. I had devised such a self-destructive path that I was reeling everyone in with me. The future looked bleak. I was becoming a person with no hope, no chance in life, nothing to look up to. I was broken. And here ended any sort of creative genius. I couldn’t write, or draw, or create

Writing has always been a thing for me. I remember when I attempted my first fictional writing piece in primary school. It’s strange. I still remember the colored pencils in the middle of the table, the strange look my friend Alison would give when she was concentrating very hard, trying to please the teacher like the good girl she was. I remember it vividly. Perhaps that’s what you need as a writer? A vivid memory. I haven’t thought about it much but it has served me well in the past. Anyway, my first attempt. “Daily Life on Planet Fandango”. Truth be told I can’t remember any of the story, but I wish now my mum had kept my childhood things like my aunties did. They still have all my old writings.

But I stopped writing. Christ, I could barely think let alone create.

A glimmer of hope shone on me in the summer of 1997. My dad, in all of his wisdom, decided to try and get me back on the path of straight and narrow. Let it be said that for all of his faults he did manage to separate me from the nasty, unproductive crowd that I associated with. Dad had just been let go from his last job in Nuclear Power and was finding it extremely hard to get a new one. He had more time for me, to talk on the phone, to see what I was doing, to involve himself with my life. He was angry. Bitter that he couldn’t get a job and swilling the alcohol faster than George Best.

He visited me shortly afterwards in Scotland. His partner at the time had gave him some money to go up and see his family, get some restpite from the trials down their way. He decided to come and visit me. He knew I was having a tough time and Mum–Mum was at the end of her tether. He came along to our house to help.

That day he was staying at ours he answered all of my phone calls. Anyone that dared to call me was met with a swift “Fuck off. He doesn’t associate with total cunts like you” and hung up on. I felt scared of their response, but it never came. My father did me a favor in actual fact. I was never bothered by these people again. I was able to make my clean break. This was my get out clause. Truth is I found out many years later that they were scared to contact me. They thought my Mother had a new man in the house. Typical of friend abuse, it’s more often than not the single parent families that get roped into things like this.

A year afterwards, Mum and I moved out of the area. It was unhealthy,and bad for me. We moved to a better part of our town. She had far better luck with me this time. I went to college and met new friends. Positive people, people that were like me, just trying to make sense of the world. However I became somewhat disillusioned with it all. The following summer I found the internet.

After college and at the grand age of 18 and about six months of pure internetting, Dad took me down to England to live with him for the summer, get me a job and send me on the path of getting some focus and proper motivation. I actually started to feel good about myself. Started to feel sort of whole again. That glimmer, that bit of hope started to stir inside of me once more and I started to create. I started to write stories again. And the creation flowed. Spilled out of me in a torrent of gushing words and sentences. I felt whole again, for a moment, at least.

I think the most encouragement I had for writing was from my auntie Marilyn when I was 8 and growing. She loved reading what I wrote, encouraged me to write more and corrected me when I got it wrong. She was my dad’s sister; like a second mum to me. They never had children of their own and took me on as practically their own. Auntie Marilyn and Uncle Rab would have me every two weeks on a Saturday. They would take us to St. Andrews, Beaches, Crail, St Monan’s, golfing, go karting and a ton of other places. If it was fun for a kid, you bet we would have visited there.

Every night after an amazing day out she’d sit us down and get us to recollect our time out in the car. What we did, who we saw, and what we saw. Then a story would be born. And you bet your last penny that we would end up writing about it. There were four of us; me and two brothers and a sister. They were her friend’s family and she liked taking them out too. We all received pure enjoyment from doing all of this. It was fun, all but happy memories.

I had a creative streak in me. One that couldn’t be ignored. I soared in English and Art & Design and would use my senses to recreate what was in front of me, it was amazing. Top marks throughout my first and second years of High School.

BUT my dad was old school. He saw writing, art and anything creative as an excuse to stay unemployed and barely living for the rest of your life. He read what I was writing and rolled his eyes. “You write like a child. This is absolutely pathetic,” he laughed and tossed the papers up in the air.

I wish, I wish back then I had realized that *actually* I still was a child, and that writing matures with the writer. I was hot-headed and arrogant. So I believed him. I felt saddened inside, but he was the adult, and he was right. So I continued my life without any sort of creativity for fifteen years. Would you credit it? Fifteen damn years. This is what poisonous words can do to your easily moldable children!!

Late 2012 I was 32 and I had just started a new job in the Mental Health sector. My dad had died two years previous and I was beginning to finally find my flair in life. The company I worked for were BIG on self-development and I guess they saw an old flame that needed to be rekindled. A man with such a creative streak but uses none of it. None.

I can’t thank this organization enough. They taught me to be true to myself. Be true to what I love and the person that I am and absolutely everything will fall into place. And they were right. It sort of just happened.

One night I had such a disastrous day at work that I decided to write about it on the internet. I researched writing tools and ended up with a free WordPress account. I wrote the story of my epically disastrous day at work and a beautiful thing happened. I looked back at it and received pleasure from the work I had just done. And you know what? Since I got it out of my system I managed to move on very quickly.

Well that flame was being rekindled BIG style. I started to write. Write big, and little, test out poetry and short stories. I later found out that I had an uncanny ability to infuse emotion with the words that I wrote. It became my outlet, my solidarity with the world. I began to write. I began to feel the sense of accomplishment that flows with writing. I was finally beginning to feel like a writer again. I wish I had only listened to myself back those many years ago.

Last year I was made redundant from that job. Sad to see it go but all good things must come to an end. I was a Community Projects Co-ordinator in Great Yarmouth. I built projects in struggling and deprived areas and brought everyone together. I created community feeling. A sense of giving back. I loved it so much because it was a learning curve each day. Such a powerful and rewarding job.

Afterwards I became so passionate about the feeling that writing gives me I had to infuse it with the prior work that I was involved with. Bringing people together. So I exist on the interwebs as The Relationship Blogger where I take my hands to the keyboard and publish all sorts of life-related problems. I recently started a YouTube account too.

And it won’t stop there. Oh no – there is a creative genius inside me that is just itching to claw its way out fully. Thanks to Dad. It’s hard writing this but he actually saved me to create another day.

Raymond Baxter is The Relationship Blogger. Find more from him on his blog and connect on Twitter

Review: The Semplifi Hair Care System

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For these images, I did nothing to my hair other than use Semplifi as described in this review. In fact, I didn’t even style it.

No affiliate links included.

I have a long and sordid history with hair products. They don’t work. My hair is big and thick and sometimes coarse. Sometimes it has extreme curl. Sometimes it has patches of wave. Sometimes it obeys me. Most of the time it does not. So I have bounced from product to product, never maintaining loyalty, unless you count the six months I went shampoo free because why not? Nothing else was working to make my hair manageable. (For the record, that didn’t work either.)

I connected with Al Melchiorre to learn about his Semplifi Hair Care System. It consists of five products that take the place of all your other products and streamline the care and styling process. I was initially attracted by the idea that you can customize their use to meet your daily changing hair needs. Still, I expected Semplifi to go the way of every hair care product in my history. I’d use it for awhile (or just a day) and pass it on. But I’ve been using it for a month now and don’t intend to stop. What’s curious is not that I’m enjoying it, but why.

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First of all, Semplifi offers a low detergent shampoo. This means it doesn’t suds up, but it also doesn’t strip hair of its natural oils. Generally that means gunky hair due to buildup. But Semplifi is light and leaves no residue. So my hair is clean, moisturized and residue free. When you are prone to frizz, that is a big deal. Dry hair means static and a halo of single strand curls 24/7. My first use of Semplifi’s shampoo and conditioner brought my frizz down considerably. No small feat considering this Indiana winter has been back and forth dry and rainy aka the ultimate hair disaster combo. Repeat use has prevented most of my frizz from returning. Also a big deal. I chase my toddler around all morning. This tends to wind whip my hair and create a magnificent mane of frizz. Combine this with my tendency to forget mirrors exist before leaving the house and, well, Semplifi has spared me a lot of double takes and raised eyebrows from the world outside.

The Semplifi line is made with natural ingredients. I really like knowing what I am putting on my head. The ingredients match up with products I would use on my face. It was reassuring enough that I shared the product with my daughter. Her hair is fine with a little bit of natural curl that gets weighed down by baby shampoo. It’s perplexing. She also experiences the dreaded “car seat hair,” a giant tangle of dry hair that sticks up off the back of her head. The Volume, Moisture and Style Plus Spray made the “bird’s nest” combable without a battle. They also lifted and maintained her curl when her hair was next washed, and the snarl didn’t even come back after swimming. That alone is worth the price of admission.

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Another aspect of this product I enjoy is its light, citrusy scent. I talked with Al about this and he told me he went with a light scent on purpose because women often wear perfume and hair shouldn’t compete with that scent. Did I say this? I’m allergic to everything, so finding a hair product that doesn’t give me a headache AND works on my hair is amazing.

Finally, and this is the big one, the Style Plus spray and Volume and Moisture creams do not make my hair crunchy, stiff or sticky like it’s the early nineties and I just discovered mousse and gel. I can have curl that looks and feels natural because what Semplifi is doing is allowing my hair to behave naturally instead of interfering with it. To recap: no heavy scent, stripping of hair, stickiness, stiffness, static, frizz or crunch. Also no buildup. Oh! The product bottles are attractive and fit together in a really fun way.

If you are interested in Semplifi, visit the site to learn more.