DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriends and I have taken a trip together almost every year since we were in college. Not everybody can go each time, but we try to go because it’s a lot of fun, and it helps us to stay connected. The plan for this year is to go to Costa Rica. I had intended to go, but I was hit by the government shutdown. I should get my back pay, but my credit got dinged when I couldn’t pay my credit card bills. I feel lucky that I have a job where I can recoup the wages, but I feel uncertain about spending extra money on credit when I’m not back on my feet yet. My friends really want me to join them. What do you think? -- Push and Pull
DEAR PUSH AND PULL: Because you and your friends do these trips regularly, if you don’t go this year, it is likely that there will be another trip soon. Before backing out, go over the logistics and costs for this year. Costa Rica can be an affordable destination. Look at the details, and talk it over with your friends. Tell them your predicament, and discuss the plan openly. If you remain concerned about the expense, pass on this trip. You might also suggest hosting a gathering stateside that is affordable and still gets the group together.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I take my daughter to ballet class every week, and I have noticed one of the other girls always has unruly hair. She is a black girl, and her mom is white. It is obvious that the mom loves her a lot, but I guess she hasn’t figured out how to do her daughter's hair yet.
My daughter and I are black with curly hair similar to the little girl's. I want to reach out to this mom to tell her what products I use for my daughter, but I don’t want to offend her. I know how prickly moms can be. How should I approach her? -- Unruly Hair
DEAR UNRULY HAIR: I have been in this situation before, and it is tough. Often, there is a heightened sensitivity among mothers of children of different races who are trying to figure it all out.
It is likely that this mom has already gotten her fair share of advice from people, some delivered more lovingly than others. Tread lightly. You can ask her privately if she is open to talking about hair. If she is, tell her the truth about what you have learned about tending to curly hair, what products you use for your daughter and what you think might work for her. If she is open to the discussion, ask her if you can share some samples of product with her. You might make a care package to deliver at the next dance class. Be discreet. This may open the door to a larger conversation that can build trust.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)