Why Are We Still Talking About This?

There are a few things that I’m really over reading about on social media. If I’m reading about it then that means people are ACTUALLY having these irrelevant and unnecessary conversations. I just feel like we should, as a society, be BEYOND these things. Perhaps, I expect too much of humans.

Disclaimer: I must admit that I have great privilege in that most of the time I ask for forgiveness (or not) instead of permission. I’m not expected to wear a uniform to work. I also work in education which really tries hard to NOT be a corporate environment BUT I mean, who are we kidding? A College/University is a business. My clients happen to be 18-22 year olds. Often really great 18-22 years olds who wish me Happy Birthday, make me laugh, and leave me donuts and honeybuns.

The topic that made me itch today was, “Are workout clothes appropriate for work?” REALLY?! The world of athleisure is a thing and people like Hannah Bronfman (major crush) are helping women understand how to step up their athletic wear to make it fashionable and appropriate enough for work. I laughed a great deal when a colleague shared with me a TODAY show segment about athleisure and how they advised women to whip on a strappy heel with their sweatpants. WHAT?!

I think at this point the term athleisure just makes me giggle BUT I take the meaning behind it seriously as a professional woman who floats through the world juggling a nice number of roles and wearing a few different and stylish hats. I’m also a person who does really great work in leggings, t-shirt, and sneakers because I’m not worried about my Spanx rolling, a run in my tights, and my left pinkie toe killing  me in heels as I hustle around a brick campus.

I work and live in one of the most obese states in the US. I’ve always been overweight. I come from a large people and I REALLY enjoy biscuits. Working out makes me feel happier, relieves me of stress, and infuses me with a great deal of energy. I’ve also been known to lose a few pounds. When I work out, it’s an act of prioritizing me over my work, which makes me not resent the amount of time that I devote to my professional life. By taking care of myself, I can provide a better version of Krystal to all of the other stakeholders in my life. I’m better for my bosses, my students, my staff, my friends, my colleagues, and my family. If I’m healthy, that leads to less time out for sick days or doctor’s appointments. I also work in an environment in which, rather I’d always like to or not, I serve as a model for my clients. Modeling the Way is a critical piece of working in Student Affairs and if I can make time to engage in fitness, then perhaps I can serve as encouragement for a overly involved student to do the same. We urge our students to practice self-care and make wellness a part of their life. For many of them this means incorporating physical activity into their day. There’s even a hashtag called #SAFit to encourage folks in my field to include fitness into their packed and often student directed schedules.

All of this sounds pretty great, right? A happy, healthy, motivated, confident, and engaged Krystal is the best Krystal to have on your team. Not the grumpy sloth I become after skipping days of Barre3 or whatever ClassPass adventure on my schedule.

Then why do we keep admonishing people for sporting workout gear to the office? This is actually improving my work and if I’m getting the job done then should we really be hung up on what I wear to the office? What we’ve defined as professional dress, for many reasons, needs to be updated. Many of the women that have adopted athleisure as their work style, talk about it as a way of being comfortable while they work. These clothes help them perform at their self-defined personal best.

Barre3

Here’s the thing, we preach balance and life prioritization, but don’t want to always deal with the reality of what this looks like in practice.

There are times when I could make it to a fitness class in time if I didn’t have to worry about changing clothes or I could make it back to the office in a more timely manner if I didn’t have to take the time to do my entire morning routine for a 2nd time post workout. This is balance/prioritization in practice. If this isn’t acceptable, then I might just forego a workout because I don’t have time to change in a phone booth like Superman.

Yes, I know there are all of these office friendly workouts that people integrate into their day and that’s fantastic.  I’ve done some Barre3 10 minute workouts in the middle of my office but sometimes, you need a good lifting session or some time on the TRX. Unless you have the best office  EVER (if you even have an office) , these things might be super difficult to make happen between your desk and your decorative fichus.

Instead of looking at someone in a dri-fit top and a pair of workout pants as messy, lazy, unprofessional, and disrespectful, what if we looked at this person as just trying to get it all done in the best way they can?  What if we looked at this person as someone who has their priorities in order? What if we looked at this person as working hard to be their best in order to do their best work for and with others? We put athletes up on pedestals and invest billions of dollars in high performance  clothes that we hope will make us look, play, throw, shoot, swing, run, jump, flip, catch, kick, row, box, ski, and swim like they do BUT don’t bring that mess to work! Work, the place where you’re expected to perform like an Olympian for at least 40 hours of your week.

Now, I must admit that when I do wear workout clothes to the office I tend to do the following:

  1. Wear an oversized top to cover my bum.
  2. Ensure that what I wear is so fresh and so clean.
  3. Choose items that are black. I don’t rock my most colorful leggings on these days.
  4. Make sure that I’m not too exposed.
  5. If I happen to workout and then go to work, I take grooming items with me to freshen up at my desk or in my car. Deodorant or Dove’s Dry Spray , BeautyCounter’s Rose Water Spray, wipes, and fragrance. The goal is not to show up as a sweaty and smelly mess.
  6. Make sure that I have a light load of meetings post workout.

I know that these 6 items are my own way of contributing to the problem but to be honest, they also just help with my comfort level. I know that some of my friends feel they could never just pop back into the office post workout because of the amount they sweat in the process. I get that and this kit has helped me not be as concerned about this issue. I also would never wear leggings or workout pants without covering the junk in my trunk. I just can’t! No shade to those who do. You have much more confidence in your behind than I do.

I just think we’ve got to effectively design the outcomes of our office culture and be open to the steps that need to be made in order to achieve those outcomes. The tech world has certainly figured this out as my friends who work at Google and Microsoft rock sneakers, t-shirts, and jeans,  but what about everyone else? Do we really need to discount a person’s entire skillset because they wore a pair of sneakers, workout leggings, and a t-shirt to the office?

Stop with all the policing and get back to work. Let people be great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Time I Decided to Become Myself

Hair is a thing.

Or at least I feel that my hair is a thing.

I’ve never been quite content with my hair.

I ran around with a towel or pillowcase on my head pretending as if I had long flowing locks.

I marveled after Bridget, Kelly, Stacy, Brandie, Amber, and Britney with their soft, long, ponytail worthy hair.

I hated the Jheri Curl that my mom made me keep for way too long.

I abhorred the fact that mom didn’t know how to do hair which led to some very interesting moments throughout middle school.

As soon as I could convince my mother I purchased hair for the micro braids that seemingly made me come to life in high school.

After I was done with those I ran to lay tracks in my head that transported my hair to the middle of my back, sky high ponytails, and eventually in a chic shoulder length bob that was more appropriate for my sparkling royal blue homecoming queen gown. My grandmother nicknamed me Farrah Fawcett.

I didn’t see my hair until I was a freshman in college. That reveal was a mistake and one that I was quite miffed at my “hairdresser” of a friend about for about 20 minutes. However, the boy loved it because he finally got to see me and he loved me

Then came the era of the curling iron.  I flipped it, curled it, wrapped it, greased it, straightened it, relaxed it, cut it, banged it, and all in all I killed it. Everything I did to it murdered its true essence. I fought against its very nature.

In grad school, I found Wanda and she whipped it back into shape. She cut it, relaxed it, and worked her magic wand to make it thick and healthy. She made it beautiful and in my mind made me beautiful. The white boys in the fraternity I lived in would watch her revive their “mom’s” mane. When I graduated, I let Ashley cut it into a gorgeous Posh Spice bob. It was admired. Ashley, a white girl, had cut my hair with an expert hand and the black girls at my salon in VA bowed down with respect.

I then moved to NC and well, it all went downhill from there. I never found “my person” so I let randoms get into my glory and sometimes it was great and other times it wasn’t. I started getting it trimmed and learned how to do it myself –bad idea. I get my non hair doing gene from my mama.

By the time I got to Nashville, she was a wreck. She was split up and dry and d-a-m-a-g-e-d. I showed up at the salon and all they could say was “pass me the scissors”. However, I didn’t have it in me to go short again so after a while I braided my headpiece up and kept her under wraps for a year.

I then had to make a decision. What next?

home to yourself

The girl with the long hair, the girl with the high ponytail, the girl with the long braids, the girl with the cute haircut– the hair brought me courage, it gave me energy, confidence, ease, and well it gave me something that I thought I couldn’t have on my own. Let’s be honest, it also gave me a place to hide. Hair is a status symbol and like anything else that you wear, it tells the world about you. What would people say if I was just me? What if I just became myself?

Recently, I took the plunge. The plunge of going back to natural. I took out all of the hair that was mine as noted on a receipt and released all that had happened over the course of one year of no heat, no chemicals, no products, and no scissors.

I decided to become me. At 31, I became me. Whew!

Me was not happy at first. In fact, me was sad and panicked and planning a return to braids. Me showed up to work with a poo face and refused to show anyone who I actually was underneath it all.

But then, I started figuring out what to do with me. As I looked at me more and more, I realized that I loved me and that my big smile, bright eyes, pretty skin, odd shaped eyebrows, and fat cheeks were all still there. Over the course of a year, I’d grown a nice amount of thick, soft, curly, kinky, and fun hair.

It has now been a month since I’ve been me. Let me tell you, people like me. I’ve had a few outreached hands which were quickly batted away, a few confused looks but then flashes of understanding once I let them know what happened to all the other hair that once belonged to me according to Bank of America, and overall all I’ve had a lot of “I love it”, “It suits you”, “It’s beautiful because its natural”, “You’re beautiful” and so on and so forth.

natural

Most importantly, I’m feeling good about her and her debut into the big bad world. We’re getting along and figuring each other out. She ‘s thirsty for products, likes to be washed every four days, twist outs are her go to and we enjoy when she’s a bit bigger.  I mean, like LARGE. I told myself that I’d go without straightening her for a month and I’m now 2 weeks past that deadline. I have no interest or time to wield a flat iron so perhaps I’ll keep this challenge up for another month.

Hair is political and I know that I’m privileged to work at a place that allows me to wear my hair as I see fit. I never actually foresee my boss saying a  negative word about my hair.  Working with students who we want to shine as bright as possible and also who we work with on a daily basis to live authentic lives makes it easier for staff members to do the same. There are lots of natural students strutting around campus these days.

I avoided going natural for so long because I just didn’t think that the look was me. Imagine, the way I was born is just not authentic enough. [side eye] 

That other hair that I had someone braid into my head was never mine to begin with because it never created an opportunity for me to just be Krystal. It was an accessory, a statement piece, that created a space in which people couldn’t remember what I actually looked like without it. I felt that without that hair I would miss out on something great. Perhaps “the one” was around the corner and he would walk by if I didn’t have that hair.

Ahem! Newsflash, Clark–you didn’t have a man with the hair so what made you think that keeping it longer was going to have any impact on your single status? Point taken. I’m often irrational. Let’s move on to the next point.  Ahem!

What you see is actually what you get. There isn’t any more reveal. I’m coming out as me. “I’m a real girl!” said in Pinocchio voice 🙂

Wearing  a mask is never comfortable because there is the constant worry of what will happen when the mask comes off. There has been a burden lifted with the shedding of the 4 bags of 1B.

The natural adventure is underway and though it has added a great deal of time spent co-washing, detangling, conditioning, applying oils, and twisting, I’m just happy to be Krystal. I’ll never forget that time in the Summer of 2014 when I became me.

natural 2

Thanks for reading!

Later Y’all.

 

 

Fall into Fall

fall 2

Fall might be my favorite season. Don’t worry, it is not due to anything pumpkin flavored. Things just seem to slow down in the fall. People become a bit more reflective as they start to cover up with scarves, boots, jackets, and hats. The air is easier to breathe and the crispness makes you want to roll out of bed in the morning. God shakes us like an etch-a-sketch and the leaves begin to change colors leaving us all in awe since we’ve actually taken the time to look up and witness art that money can’t buy. Virginia in the fall, North Carolina in the fall, Tennessee in the fall, and last year I had the fortune of walking through Central Park in the fall. I still get chills thinking about all that gorgeousness. It’s just a good chill time. I want to be outside, I want to move slower, I want to write, and eat warm things while hiding in a book. Wrapping a scarf around me in the morning makes me smile and boot shopping is on the schedule. There’s a freshness about this season that makes it almost a cleansing we all so badly need after summer filled adventures and heat driven questionable decisions. Summer is so revealing as you peel off your protective layers but fall allows you to retreat and take care of what lies beneath. So, take a deep breath, inhale fall and exhale summer. Let’s apologize, let’s forgive, let’s pray to do better next time. Throw on a light sweater, your riding boots, and a cozy scarf, take a walk and get lost in the green, orange, and yellow. Think about it, learn from it, and leave it all behind as you fall bravely into fall.

Adventures to come.

What are you looking forward to this fall?

Thanks for reading.

Later Y’all.

fall

College…Ready or Not?–College & Money: Too Much and Never Enough

College is a lot of things but one thing it can never claim to be is cheap.

One of the things that I’ve noticed college students often have issues with is money. We’re living in a time in which the vast majority of students are receiving some type of financial aide whether that be scholarships, grants, work study, and/or the dreaded loans. Room and board, books, student fees, and tuition all have to be paid. Costs vary depending on the institution. Private schools are often more expensive than public and going to school out-of-state will often cost you more than in-state. Community Colleges are a less expensive option and there is a movement of students who are starting out at the CC and then transferring to a four-year institution after completing their first two years of coursework. This helps save money while the student pays cheaper tuition, lives at home, and works to save up for the greater costs of a four-year college/university.

 

college money

A source of stress that is rearing its ugly head on campuses is that many students are able to find ways to be able to afford “going to college”. They get what they need to be a student. What they don’t get covered in their financial package is what I call ” [insert name of college/university] Plus”. This is all of the other “stuff” that college students want in order to take full advantage of the college experience.

This might include:

– Fraternity/sorority membership

– Participation in certain clubs/organizations/teams

– Spring Break/Fall Break trips

-Beach Week

– Study Abroad

– Alternative Spring Break

– apparel

-late night food, coffee runs, frozen yogurt, smoothies

– money to spend on the weekend excursions (cabs, festive beverages, dinners out on the town with friends, movie tickets, concerts)

and anything else that costs extra beyond basic college expenses.

This creates a class bubble and can lead to some destructive financial habits including the dreaded college credit card trap. Stay away! If needed, get one card! Only one! Emergencies ONLY! Pay it off immediately! Money also serves as a determinant of how and if students participate in extracurricular activities and it can dictate who they choose to include in their circle of friends.

Here are some financially healthier ways to figure this out:

1. Get a job! There are always offices on campus looking for student workers. Ask your Career Center about resources on campus to help you find openings. These are also usually in the school newspaper, on flyers around campus, and some schools even have Employment Fairs for on-campus jobs. The great thing about working on-campus is that your employer will make sure that you honor your identity as a student. At many of these jobs you can even do your homework during downtime and still count those hours on your timesheet. It’s convenient and you’ll learn about another aspect of the university as well as basic skills that can help you later in life. You won’t get rich BUT you’ll earn extra pocket change for those “plus” opportunities.

Of course, you can also work off-campus. Studies have shown that it is actually beneficial for a student to work 20 hours a week as it helps establish time management skills. Be upfront with your employer about your schedule as a student. Think about the proximity of your job to campus. Unless you absolutely need to, try not to work to the point that you’re actually missing out on your college experience. If you have to work, I get it, but you don’t want to resent your job and you want to make sure that whatever you’re paying for that you actually have an opportunity to be an active participant. Don’t forget, you’re in college to get your diploma. Make sure that you’re not working to the detriment of your academics.

Babysitting is often a clutch role that many students pick-up as a college student.

Check out the Psychology or Sociology department as they are often holding non-threatening and non-invasive studies in which students can serve as subjects and make a little extra money.

A great deal of students work extremely hard over the summer to bank their income in order to serve as their bucket of funds for the upcoming school year. This isn’t a bad idea and will certainly help you to develop and manage a budget.

Make sure to set up a checking account and develop a basic budget. What are your wants versus your needs? What is your family helping you pay for versus what are you responsible to pay for on your own? Keeping track will help you avoid those pesky overdrawn fees that I became way too familiar with in college.

2. Inquire about scholarships or payment plans. For things like sorority/fraternity membership, study abroad, and even some trips there may exist financial aide opportunities in the form of scholarships or payment plans. Connect with the person in charge of finances for the organization and be upfront about your payment concerns. I know that money can be hard to chat about with a peer but if you’re interested in the opportunity then you’ve got to do the work to figure out how to afford it. Just ask the general question, “Are there opportunities for payment plans or scholarships?” Believe me, this isn’t the first time this has been brought up by a student. Contact staff in the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life or the Study Abroad Office for more information. For many trips, you pay for it during a certain period of time and not all at once. If this is the case, figure out if the payment plan is doable for you and your budget.

3. Look for alternatives. Everyone has the ability to class pass these days. If obtaining the latest gear is important to you then it is important that you become adept at obtaining the look for less. TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, Target, Old Navy, H&M, Forever 21, outlet stores, ASOS, Goodwill,  consignment shops, Charming Charlie’s, EBay, and clearance sales are going to become your best friends. Don’t let me loose in a Wal-Mart–I will make that $15.00 dress look like a million bucks. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. All you need is the look and not the label. Learn how to make that $25.00 dress from Target look like that $150.00 Anthropologie dress. There are so many blogs and Pinterest boards that can assist you with getting the look you want for 1/3 of the price. You wear the clothes. Also, become aware of all the discounts stores offer college students. The movie theatre, J.Crew, LOFT, Kate Spade, and many local boutiques over 10-15% off if you have a college ID. Go for the high/low approach to fashion. Splurge on the basics and save money on overly trendy items that will only be “cool” for 5 seconds. My current outfit includes a Target dress, belt that came with a TJ Maxx dress, Anthropologie flats that were 50% off and I used my birthday discount to purchase, Stella & Dot bracelet, Longchamp Tote,  Old Navy Cardigan, and basic pearl studs from Macy’s.  I could throw on another basic Target dress and have a whole new look tomorrow. Rock what you got! Confidence is the essence of style.

confidence

For anything that people are buying that is exorbitant in price, you can certainly find a lower-cost option including the needed textbooks. Check out AMAZON or local booksellers before you settle on the bookstore prices. There are often previous students who also will cut you a great deal on their used textbooks. Don’t forget, you can make money on those at the end of the semester. The University will often hold a Buy Back OR you can sell to fellow students. Sometimes, I would get up to $250.00 back at the end of the semester. Granted that was certainly not anywhere near the amount I spent on them but I wasn’t mad at $250.00 to help celebrate the end of the semester.

Switch up your social plan so that you can still go out, but do it differently than your peers. Perhaps you engage in festive beverages before you go out, maybe you eat dinner on your already paid for meal plan as opposed to splurging on an expensive dinner, take the free student bus and not a cab, keep coffee or chai in your room so as not to make Starbucks runs that quickly add up. Have a stash of snacks for those late night urges.

4. Scour your campus for FREE opportunities. You’re in college and there is free fun happening EVERYWHERE! Make it a game and see how many free things you can attend, eat, and take home each week. Shows, lectures, t-shirts, movies, food, sporting events, and lessons, etc. can all be found underneath your nose. Take advantage of it and take a group of friends on low budget adventures.  Perhaps create a FREE STUFF resource through twitter, Facebook, or a blog to disseminate to your peers. I don’t care how much money you have, everyone loves free stuff.

5. Sometimes, you just have to accept that you can’t do all the things. I accepted that I’d never be off to Cancun for Spring Break or Italy in the summer. I accepted that I could not afford sorority membership or full-price items from J.Crew. I learned to be happy with what I had and to fill in any perceived “gaps” with all of the free or inexpensive stuff I could find. I had an amazing college experience. I’m eternally grateful that I even was able to attend college. When it gets rough, think about the bigger picture. You’re one of the privileged few that has the opportunity to receive a college education. Praise Him!

enough gratitude

The biggest obstacle is often communicating to your friend group about your finances.

What do you say when everyone wants to call a cab to go downtown to grab dinner and festive beverages at the new swanky speakeasy? 

What do you say when your girls have invited you to Vegas for Fall Break? 

I would encourage you to do this, TELL THE TRUTH.

If peeps walk away from you because of your financial situation then you might want to find new friends. College is hard enough without hiding your economic situation from people and lying your way through the day by making excuse after excuse about why you can’t do things with the group. The truth also trumps unsurmountable credit card debt that could haunt you long after you graduate.

“Y’all, that’s just a bit too steep for my budget. Would you consider [insert option here]?” 

“The old bank account doesn’t feel good about this one, y’all go ahead and I’ll see you in the morning for brunch at the caf.” 

“You know, this event is happening on campus tonight and that makes more sense for me financially right now.” 

“I’ll meet y’all there. It’ll be best for me to take the bus.” 

“Thanks for inviting me along for the trip. I’m all about it and can’t wait to celebrate with y’all, but I’m going to look into making my own travel plans.” 

“I’m going to eat dinner here and then I’ll be able to take the cab and grab a celebratory beverage.” 

“I’m planning next Thursday night. We’ll have a fun and low-key game night with my home cooking.” 

Once again living your truth invites others to do the same and it creates a learning opportunity for those that are completely oblivious to financial struggles of other students. Unfortunately, when money is not an issue for students they often assume that those around them –especially when you attend a prestigious institution that has a reputation of attracting economically privileged students–come from the same economic background and that money is not an issue for anyone and certainly not those they call their friends.

Don’t expect your friends to change their lives entirely for you but instead make the adjustments that will allow you to participate at whatever level makes you comfortable. A good friend will get it and will support you in your practices.

Money is something that we’ve been taught in the South to not speak about at the dinner table, but I think it demonstrates a great deal of maturity for a student to authentically address this matter with those who are important in shaping their collegiate experience.

Developing this practice now will also help you to not become an adult who struggles to “keep up with the Jones'”. This family has caused us all so many issues. The goal isn’t to keep up with anyone but yourself. Remember, money and stuff, will never bring you lasting happiness.

enough money

Class has to become a topic that college students become more able to discuss. College is the place to strengthen the skills to have what have been deemed “awkward conversations”. The more students can relate across class lines the better.

How are you managing your finances in college?

Hope the first year is going well. Thanks for reading.

Lata Y’all.

 

What are you doing in the next 1,001 days?

I took some time today to update my 101 in 1,001. I still don’t have 101 things on my list. I need to think more outside the box or just take notice of those times throughout the day when I go, “Wow, I wish I could do that.”

Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post and Thrive, inspired me when she stated that one can easily complete a task by simply taking it off your to-do list. Magic! There are times when I put things on a list and then after a while I wonder, “What was I thinking? That doesn’t matter.” Instead of still working to get it done or just keeping it on the list and feeling like a failure, Arianna just says “Get rid of it.” Done and Done. On to the next!

This list all started with Design Darling. I read over her new list to borrow a few ideas. Check out her blog and her cute boutique. She’s lovely.

https://peculiarpearl.wordpress.com/101-in-1001/ –Check it out! Any suggestions?

Later Y’all.

 

Local Levo & House of Stella

Levo Ladies Take Over House of Stella

Check out the following:
1. Levo League
2. Local Levo in your hood
3. House of Stella in Nashville, TN.

Instagram & Twitter: houseofstella

Addresses: Cool Springs 1709 Galleria Blvd., Suite 1007 (In the Cool Springs Target Shopping Center)
Franklin, TN 37067 ~ map

Nashville 1025 8th Ave. S
Nashville, TN 37203

Lovely mother/daughter duo. Enjoyed hearing their story and learning good tips for starting a business. They are women’s women and want to be helpful to entrepreneurs.

house of stella

Can’t wait to wear my new items or use my free infuser.

Support women owned businesses!

Later Y’all.

Why Don’t I Do That Anymore?

As I’m working on rediscovering my happy I have reflected on things that used to make me happy that for some reason I don’t do anymore. I’m sure at the time I had reasons for stepping away from that activity BUT now I just can’t seem to remember (is that part of the old age?) .

Thing 1: ZUMBA!
Thing 2: Style blogging
Thing 3: Serve on the First Impressions Ministry at my church
Thing 4: Scour the Internets for FREE things to do in Nashville and do them whether in a group or on a solo mission.
Thing 5: Plan random friend outings/hang out with a now 17 year old who made me giggle

In 2014, I’m going to attempt to work these things back into my life. Small doses at first and then I’ll take an internal assessment on how these past happies fit into my current life.

Happy Chart

What are some things that have faded from your life that might give you a happiness boost this new year? As I think more about this I realize that I loved doing these things because they made me love myself more. I liked me better when I was doing these things. Hmm…

Later Y’all.