My friend Christine and I had a couple of glasses of crap red wine and zero dinner when a lovely man in the expo hall convinced us to sit down at his booth.
It didn't actually take many words to get us into seats. We needed the break (see above re: +wine, –food). The conference hall we were wandering through was making us feel like overstimulated newborns.
And then there was my hair.
The booth was set up to sell haircare products. The lovely man was a stylist who didn't need as much experience as I am sure he has to pick me out of the crowd. My half-pink, half-black hair was cranked into a top-knot, my bangs were unfortunate. I'd spent most of the day traveling, coughing and sneezing, stressing and then filling my cup with pinot.
I was presenting at the conference, but not until the next morning, so I figured the survival hairdo would do until I had sleep, a shower and more than five minutes to swank it up. In the moment, in his chair, under the influence, I was awash with embarrassment over my hair. My poor, dried-out, crimped-up, whiny hair.
Lovely man worked his magic, and quickly, applying a silky serum and waving around the fanciest flat iron I'd ever seen.
I love a flat iron. And this one is a wow-er. It both dries and straightens wet hair at the same time. AT THE SAME TIME, FRIENDS. It can also curl. I mean. Did I mention it comes in a peacock print? Also, the price tag was marked at $300+.
Of course, I wanted it. OF COURSE. I was buzzed and quickly getting socially acceptable hair back on my head. Plus, lovely man was doing a hell of a job selling it. The more my friend and I paused or discussed, the lower the price got, the more bonuses he threw in, the more little tricks of the tress-saving trade he shared.
"We have to have these," my friend said. I agreed. But what I didn't have was a $150 to spend on a flat iron, no matter how technologically miraculous. It was almost Christmas, my car needed super-expensive brake pads, I know January to be a quiet client month. All of this was spinning in my head.
And over all those thoughts was a quieter, even more powerful message: Even if I had the cash right there in my hand, I probably would not have spent it on myself. Something for the kids? Most likely. A splurge for my beloved? Why, yes. But myself? No way.
This was not about being frugal or just smart with my money. This was about allowing myself. Saying no was not just about the money. It was about my own boundaries for caring for me.
My friend and I laughed, conferred, considered. Then she said, "Fuck it. Let's get these." She pulled out her credit card and told him to wrap up two for an even better price than we'd previously been offered. (OK, my brain is fuzzy on whether that eff-bomb happened, but it is lodged in there anyway because of the abrupt shift in our time at the booth.)
"I am buying this for you," she said firmly.
"No," I said right back, just as firmly.
"Yes." This was a game now. She was going to win.
I remembered something my therapist said to me days earlier: Why aren't you accepting the abundance the universe is offering you? Stop feeling guilty. Accept.
So I did. While the lovely man wrapped up our new fancy flat irons in separate bags and rang them up on one bill, I thanked my friend. Over and over (still with the wine, and now also with the Real Housewives hair).
It was a big and generous gift. I was astounded. I felt humbled. I even felt (honestly) a little bad. Maybe embarrassed? Then the next morning, I pulled it out of the box and got to work on my bangs before speaking at the conference.
I've thought about this moment in the booth often in the weeks since the flat iron became my own. The exercise of accepting this gift was just as important (more?) than the gift itself.
It is OK to receive, I've told myself over and over.
It is a part of giving.
It is all care.
I think many single moms have a hard time receiving. Why is that?
I have a few ideas that I am going to share tomorrow on a Facebook Live segment over on the Single Mom Nation page.
I'd also love to hear from you. Why do you think receiving gifts – time, services, support, babysitting, cashmere gloves, dinner – is harder for single moms?
How do you practice receiving in your own life?
I'm starting small (hello, you gorgeous, perfect bangs). I am also writing down the ways I say yes and thank you to the gifts that come to me.
I am also thinking about how I react to abundance. How would I feel if I bought my friend Christine something fabulous I knew she'd love and she refused? Or gave it back? AWFUL, right? Yes. How am I making space for that kind of gesture? Am I showing my gratitude or is the discomfort written all over my face and awkward hugs?
RECEIVING. Let's do this better together this week, shall we?
To get you started, may I offer you this gift of a complimentary coaching call with me? Email me here to say, "OH HELL YES, I ACCEPT THIS ABUNDANCE" right this minute.
Palms open, darlings. Abundance is coming. And it may just be covered in peacock print (or pinot, either works).