I've been natural for 8 years now. For some reason it took 8 years for me not to have the urge to wear it straight all the time. Unfortunately, because I wore it straight for so long, I experienced severe heat damage. So, my hair was basically relaxed from all of the heat.
This will be the second time I've had this dilemma. The first time (pic below) I grew it out and cut about 6 inches. This time I have about 8 inches of straight hair...sigh. My goal is to transition for 18 months before I chop. I've been transitioning since November 2009 (almost 12 months). After the 18 month period I should have about 9 inches of hair, which is a great starting point.