Recently, my brother relocated to where I live and my sister-in-law and I have become better friends. I like her very much. She’s an attorney and she’s very smart. She has natural hair and that’s her choice, I respect that. I’m a hairstylist and I love my craft. I’m very popular, I make a lot of money and people say I’m one of the best in my area. Recently, my SIL came to my salon to drop off a gift to me and we were talking while I was working. Out of nowhere I said, “You should let me relax your hair and make you pretty.” Instantly, I knew that didn’t come out right. She said, I think I’m pretty now and abruptly left. She’s right, she is. Since then, when I see her, I give her a big hug and try to make it like it was, but she has become distant. How can I fix this, Alma?

Signed,

— Hapless Hairstylist

Dear Hapless Hairstylist,

Uh oh, Baby Bop, ohknoudidn’t! Unfortunately, this time, and I’m sure it wasn’t the first time, you spoke your mind, before you thought it through. LOL, I know girl, it happens! You can’t fix what you did, until you own it. Acknowledging that what you said was hurtful is the first step.

She should have left; you called her ugly! Yes, you did, you know you did, that’s why you feel guilty. That’s also why you’re lathering her down with extra hugs and wide-eyed smiles every time you see her. Save the soapsuds, sista! Splash cold water on your face and back it on up. Where do you start, you wonder? With a mature apology, a real one, not the generic kind. You know what I’m talking about, don’t say, “I’m sorry if I offended you.” We three already know you did. Use real words and be specific like, “I’m sorry when I said…”

After the apology, share with her that you think she’s beautiful inside and out, smart and a great SIL. Let her know how much she means to you and confirm that her choice of hairstyle has nothing to do with the love and respect you share. Hug her and never mention it again. Right now this bucket of deplorable words has overwhelmed her, I’m sure. Again, take responsibility and take her by the hand, slowly leading your relationship back on track. Do whatever it takes, it won’t be easy and it shouldn’t be. She’ll eventually forgive you and let it go, but it may take a minute

— Alma.

How do I get my boyfriend to leave the street life?

I can’t give you all the details, but let’s just say my boyfriend is doing something that makes a lot of money, but it’s illegal. If he gets caught, “we” could go to jail. I love him and I’ve always supported him. He was there for me when I didn’t have anyone and helped me financially complete my degree and purchase my condo. I don’t want to leave him now that I’m gainfully employed, but I do worry about him getting caught. Sometimes I feel like I’m living a double life. Now that my feet are firmly planted and I’m making a good salary, I would like for him to go legit, but he’s not having it. He says the money’s too good. How can I get him to see, we can leave that life and do well and have a good life?

Signed

— Down for My Man

Dear Down for My Man,

Some people will sell their soul for a diamond-crusted, fried bologna sandwich, while others will work hard, all day long at doing what’s right. The road to righteousness is long, undoubtedly unfair and ruthlessly rough. The sidewalk leading to half-baked shenanigans won’t let you stand up on a slippery slope. You have to decide which path is best for you right now, today and tomorrow, not yesterday, six months ago or the year before.

Honestly girl, if your Mr. Do Right is doing wrong and you know it and support it, you’re Mrs. Do Wrong your dang self. Don’t start trippin’ now that you have a degree. Who you think you’re fooling? You’ve been in this from the jump.

Your condo won’t keep you out of jail. Your degree won’t prevent you from serving time. You can’t dissect, analyze and redirect this negative into a positive now, because you’re getting an authentic paycheck. Get yourself out of this mess, before it’s too late. When it all comes crumbling down, and it will, you’ll be on your way to lock down, for love’s sake. Here’s my question to you: Is it worth it?

— Alma.

Few hang-out friends

I have a nice majority of friends. However, I hang out mostly with my cousin. I am a year older; she is 18. With this being said, she has friends that are in her group range and vice versa. All my friends left for college while I stayed my first two years at home to save money. While being full-time at work and school, I still have leisure time. I find myself isolated because my cousin periodically hangs out with her set of friends more. I believe that because they seem to be more on her “level” and I don’t do half of the things they do. All this is fine. I just find myself bored on most occasions because I basically don’t have any friends to hang out with. I don’t think going out by yourself is that much fun and finding real friends these days are like finding money on the street. What should I do?

Sincerely,

— Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

What a fantastic question and I’m so glad you asked. Sweet pea, you are just getting started with life. Your biggest problem should be time, LOL. Believe me when I say, there’s a world full of activities and adventures for you to explore. Here’s what I’d suggest. If you run, join a running group. Check out the site blackgirlsrun.com. Do you sing? Join a church or community choir. Take a cooking or swimming class. Tennis, maybe? My cousin Eric enjoys graphic design and art, check out comic-con. org. Cause TBT, the question is: what incites your interest? Once you think of something, search that particular group on Facebook. That’s a good start. Get started now, today. Email me back and let me know how it’s going. I can’t wait to hear!

— Alma

Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: alwaysaskalma@gmail.com. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and Twitter @almaaskalma.

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