One Little Word: GIVE in January

Rather than making resolutions this year, I chose one little word for 2013 - a way to set my broad intention and create a guide for my path as I meander through a new year.  I chose the word GIVE, and you can read more about that process here.  At the beginning of each month I'll look back on the previous month and share with you how the one little word has been working in my life.

In thinking about where I wanted to give more during 2013, I realized that part of the reason that I often don't give is that I didn't give.

Let me explain.

A few months ago - a couple of days before I flew home for Thanksgiving - I got a haircut with a new stylist. I'd been going to the same salon for about five years in DC, so this felt like a big event. And it was superb. She did exactly what I had hoped for and even styled it all crazy and curly, which was really fun.

But when I got to the counter to pay, I realized that they only accepted tips in cash. I didn't have any. I was running late for an appointment, so I asked if I could drop back by later to leave the tip.  The receptionist said that wouldn't be a problem

But then my afternoon appointment ran long, and I wasn't anywhere near the salon during their business hours for the next couple days. And then I went home for Thanksgiving. And then...and then...and then...

I never dropped off a tip.  But I kept thinking about it. I kept loving my hair, and everytime I put my hands through it, I would think about how I needed to give my hairstylist a tip.

And then I kept not doing it.


Because I was embarrassed.

I was embarrassed that I didn't give her a tip that day. I was embarrassed that I didn't give her a tip on either of the next two days. I was embarrassed that I didn't just send one in after the holidays. Every day that I didn't do it added another level of embarrassment.

I do this all the time. It's why not calling someone back right away turns into not calling them back for a year. It's why I allow whole friendships to drift away because I didn't respond to an email. It's why I didn't finish sending my wedding thank you notes.

Once some amount of time has passed that seems like when I should have given whatever it was that I wanted to give (whether it's a phone call, a tip, a hug, an email, or a gift), I let embarrassment keep me from just giving it anyway. And when I really think about it, that's awfully sad.

So, in honor of my intention to give in 2013, I set that embarrassment aside and wrote 20 thank you notes.  I wrote a card and slipped in some cash and mailed it to my hair stylist.

Better late than never.