The Freshman Project

FP

 

A couple of years ago I did a five post series called, College, Ready or Not?, that focused on finances, making friends, going Greek, stress management, and the importance of listening to your instincts in the collegiate environment. This was great foreshadowing for the opportunity I had to contribute to The Freshman Project: A Collection of Practical and Clever Advice About The College Experience. This book is for college students diving into their first-year of college AND for those people in their life who serve as their advocates, allies, mentors, friends, teachers, guidance counselors, mentors, and champions.

After serving as a Student Affairs staff member on the campuses of Duke University and Vanderbilt University for the past 9 years, I know that parents/guardians always want to know, “How do I prepare my student for college?” This book can help you answer that question with pages of expert knowledge that help you have the conversations that matter most with your student.

Gift this book to a student and they can spend some time preparing for their next incredible chapter.

Topics include:

  • Survive Failure
  • Build Healthy Love Relationships
  • Pick a Major
  • Be a Beginner
  • Navigate Depression and Anxiety
  • Discover Leadership Opportunities
  • Honor the Differences
  • Sleep Smart
  • Consider Fraternity/Sorority Life

All of these topics are critical for an incoming college student to discuss with a caring individual in their life AND there are still many more topics in the book. Providing them with this information will provide a strong foundation that will help support them as they navigate their first-year of college.

I’m honored to have a chapter in the book “Discover Leadership Opportunities”. Erin Fischer of The Leadership and Training Studio put together an all-star roster of expert contributors who give you top notch nuggets of wisdom.

If you’re a student or a supporter of a student and you want  deeper insight into the collegiate experience while adding some tools to your toolbox to help you both be successful, then this book is for you.

Want a copy? I’d love to send you some purchase information.

Want to develop a program around the first-year college experience?

Email me at krystalnclark@gmail.com so that I can send you purchase information and we can begin planning something positive for you community.

 

Want to read my series, College, Ready or Not?

Part 1

Come Back to Calm

Inconvenient Friends

Go With Your Gut

Money, Too Much and Never Enough

The Greek Thing

 

Thanks for reading.

Krystal

 

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Bloom, I Say, Bloom.

I’m in Nashville. Excuse me, I’M IN NASHVILLE!

The thing about being planted is that like most flowers, you can always be uprooted and planted elsewhere. Just like a flower can move (with assistance, of course) into another pot, you can gather your belongings and move to another apartment, city, state, or country. Maybe one day, I can add planet to that list. Mars, anyone?

bloom

Like a flower, we should also bloom where we are planted. I would think that when a flower is plopped into fresh soil and provided with the right amount of water and sunlight, that it works really hard to bloom. It doesn’t just sit there waiting on the next pot. It leans into the sunlight, soaks up the water, cozies into the soil and it goes at it like a champ. Impressive. The goal is to thrive and not to wither and die. It does not have time to wait on another pot to be a beautiful. The time is NOW.

My thought is that we should do the same. Every year when I have to resign my lease, I have a moment on the couch in which I have to ponder whether I want to move. The continuum spans from moving to the other side of the couch to moving to another state. I spent 4 years in my last state and now that I’m coming up on 4 years in Nashville, I  started to check for the itch that’d alert me that it was time to hit the dusty trail. However, the itch wasn’t happening.

I thought about moving apartments and moving closer into the city BUT I don’t want to spend more money. I actually like where I live and I enjoy having extra money to pursue things that bring me joy. I’m in a great place with my community involvements and I’m feeling better and better about my professional situation. People are lovely, music is amazing, airport is close.

Running to another pot wouldn’t guarantee me anything except starting over, but nothing that irritates me about my current place in life will be solved by moving.

Every flower that blooms has to go through a whole lot of dirt to be beautiful.

So for the time being and for at least another year, I am planted in Nashville, TN, and I’ve done a pretty great job of blooming here if I say so myself. So, I’ll just keep up the good work. This is my now and I’m going to embrace it and continue blooming into the beautiful person that I know God has made me to be.

Wherever you are, own your present. Don’t let it pass you by while you wait on something or someone that isn’t guaranteed. When people say things like, “I mean, that sounds fun, but I don’t want to get too involved because I probably won’t be here that long.” OR “When I lose 15 lbs., I’ll totally go on that beach trip.” OR “I can’t wait to find the special one and then my life will be amazing.” These are missed opportunities to BLOOM. Get involved NOW. Go to the beach NOW. Recognize the current state of amazing in your life NOW. BLOOM where you are planted.

If you need me, I’ll just be out in the sunshine blooming and blossoming and being all beautiful and stuff. Join me.

Thanks for reading.

Feel Good Things

I’m all about including things in your life that just make you feel good. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned the importance of acquiring a simple indulgence in your life.

Three things have been making me feel super great lately:

1. Green Tea-I started drinking it during the #barre3challenge per the advice of Barre3 Founder, Sadie Lincoln. She advised us to try it instead of coffee and other caffeinated beverages. I was hesitant BUT I have totally forgone coffee since the beginning of the challenge in January. When I need a boost, I make a cup of tea. If I’m fighting snack urges, I dive into a warm and, of course, cute mug. There are all types of Green Tea but I found this kind on the shelf for a great price at my local Kroger and keep a box in my office and in my apartment. Tea makes me feel fancy and mature. Pinkies up!

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2. Beauty Counter- I’ve played it pretty basic with my skincare regimen until my friend and fellow Junior League of Nashville member, Cara introduced me to Beauty Counter. I love that Beauty Counter is not just delicious smelling and effective products that have made my skin incredibly soft but that this company is a movement. This one fact should make you think about what you put on your body everyday.

1938 was the last time Congress passed a law regulating the cosmetics industry.

1938?! This was the last year that there was any type of regulation over products that we utilize every.single.day and that we allow our family to use every.single.day. This is frightening. Cosmetics companies are pretty much running with scissors and using thousands of toxic ingredients that are more harmful than helpful. Our bathroom counters and medicine cabinets are full of products that we think are helping us and our children lead more beautiful lives but in the end could lead to a wide array of medical challenges. Check out beautycounter.com and read more about the products and the movement. I’m in love with the body wash and body lotion. Rinse & Hydrate.

Beautycounter

3. The LovingKind– Mattye Woodcock has the most charming blog and shop on the interwebs. I’m lucky to have met Mattye years ago in North Carolina and her sweet husband Woody through my work in the fraternity & sorority life arena. I’m all about supporting businesswomen and ordering a set of Matty’s sweet cards was a great way to support a small woman owned business but also to make my heart smile as I sent off these lovelies to dear friends for Valentine’s Day. My fave is the Good Pickin’ Card. Since I didn’t have a Valentine, it was all about telling my friends how much I love them. Sending cards creates such a feel good loop. I’ve got a bunch to write and stick in the mail this weekend and I love creating a personal and special message for each individual.

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What are the little things in life that just make you feel good? Never feel bad about grabbing those things up and taking time for them in your day. I hope you look into these products and that they bring a smile to your face.

Thanks for reading.

Krystal

Show Me Your Shelf

As you might know I’m a bit of a bookworm. Well, I’m a huge bookworm. Huge is actually an understatement. Though I like to think that I’m tech savvy, there is nothing like owning books. I’m privileged to have full bookshelves in my home and know that this isn’t everyone’s lot. This is why I support Book ‘Em/Reading is Fundamental in Nashville. I have a firm belief that children should own books and we should work to help children enjoy reading. If you enjoy it then you’ll do it as often as you can and that means you’ll become good at it. Our literacy rates need some assistance in Nashville and I want to be a part of progress. Putting books in the hands of children and helping them to discover the joy of reading is a plan I can get behind.

Check out my BOOKS! page.

Here’s what tomes are currently blessing my shelf:

Redefining Realness: My path to womanhood, identity, love & so much more by Janet Mock

So happy to have had the opportunity to meet her at a program sponsored by the Vanderbilt School of Divinity and the Vanderbilt University Office of LGBTQI Life.

Mock

The Best Yes: Making wise decisions in the midst of endless demands by Lysa Terkeurst

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

Too Blessed to be Stressed by Debora M. Coty

Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Books

Winter is just the best time to curl up with a warm beverage, a blanket, and a good book. Read things that bring you joy and that stretch your mind. I love a good Netflix binge but there ain’t nothing like a book in my hands. Hope one of these speaks to you.

Thanks for reading.

Krystal

Exodus 14:14

ice day

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

As part of #wholehearted 2015, one of my goals is to cultivate calm and stillness. Either I wasn’t doing that great of a job or God is fully on board with living a wholehearted life as he gave me ICE DAY 2015. Today was full of rest, just enough productivity to keep me from not being too behind, good warm food from my kitchen, 2 10-minute Barre3 blasts, and lots of West Wing.

Pottering around in my apartment gives me ample time to think. I’m not often at home and when I am here I’m usually sleeping or making plans to leave. Calmness and stillness makes me go inward and to be honest, I don’t always want to be in my head and I certainly don’t want to be in my heart.

ICE DAY was a good forced reminder of all of the “fights” happening above and below my neck. Negative thoughts that do not serve me. Tugs to control the uncontrollable, unproductive worry and unfounded fears. Hurt that doesn’t deserve me.

As  I looked out of my home office window  and took in the stillness of the day, I couldn’t help but realize that all of these battles being fought in my head and heart have already been won. All I have to do in times like this are remember and believe with all that I am who He is and what He has already done. He needs me to be still so that He can do his work. Every once in a while, I would hear a snow plow come down the street and I imagine that’s one of the many roles that God plays in our minds and hearts. He comes through to clear out all of the excess and those things that make us take our eyes off of Him and His goodness. He protects us from danger even though we might complain during the process; the outcome is always what is needed.

Once I tucked into this word, all of the fights melted away because I’ve got nothing on any of them. However, my squad is taking care of all of my light work. #squadgoals

Being afraid of calmness and stillness does not serve me or my relationship with God. This is the time I can utilize to make meaning of my life through His word. This is the time that I can pray to him in a regular conversation the same as I do with others that I love. I can give all of the “stuff” inside to Him. This is the time to realize that I am not in control. He is God and I am not. He’s fighting for little ‘ol me and for that I am eternally thankful.

Don’t run from stillness. Let Him wrap His arms around you. Stop, turn off all the noise, and just be.

Thanks for reading, y’all.

Sunday Flare & Focus

Everyone always treats Monday poorly when in reality it’s only doing its job.

Rise Up

To help put my Monday into perspective, I started engaging in a Sunday Flare & Focus. My SF&F is a time for me to lay out my week on a sheet of paper brain dump style. By doing this I am able to view my week as an entire entity. From this view, I create a list of tasks that need to be completed, figure out days that I need to pack workout clothes, ensembles I might want to consider this week, clarify any instances of double booking that may have occurred, cancel any unnecessary appointments, make a list of emails that need to be sent and conversations that need to be had, meetings  to attend and preparation needed to be successful, and any fun things in the city that I make plans to do with friends on on a solo mission.

When I lay out my week in this manner, I am able to clearly see all of the bright spots that lay ahead for me. For instance, when laying out my current week I smiled while noting the following:

1.  A trip to ICE! and the Opryland Hotel with my friend Dee who celebrates Hanukkah but desired a bit of the Christmas spirit.

2. My 2nd visit to my 3rd classroom as a reader for Book ‘Em.

3. Barre3 class and a possible exit with enough time to attend a favorite church service that is often beyond my schedule due to a standing Tuesday night meeting.

4. Attendance at my first Leadership Educators’ Institute in Ft. Worth, TX where I’ll be presenting my first educational session at this conference to my new pool of colleagues.

These four bright spots now stand above all the rest of the “stuff” that makes up my week and because I can see them shining, I am more excited to attack my week with the constant feeling that whatever I’m wading through during the day, I’m on my way to a better place. Bright spots are the, “I get to ____________ moments.”

My Sunday F&F allows me to get excited about my week and it also allows me to plan for my success. After I brain dump all of the week’s happenings, I then go back and chunk prioritize the items by day. To make sure that I can get it all done on the target day, I  go into my calendar and block off time to attend to each task. With this plan in hand, I walk into my office or wherever I’ve chosen to set up shop on Monday with an action-oriented demeanor. I know what I need to get done and I can easily track my progress. If I only get those 3-4 things checked off my list then I’ve had a good day.

today

One of the many things that I’m working on in my life is showing gratitude to God in the good times and the bad times. He’s good ALL the time and I must honor that He has a plan. My pastor recently stated (maybe not in these exact words) that “in bad times we talk to God and in good times we talk about God”. I’ve got to do better with doing both regardless of my circumstance. Laying out my week gives me a better sense of what to be thankful for and for what I need to be praying. I know He is always by my side BUT sometimes I need His strength even more depending on the meeting  ;).

gratitude changes everything

The Sunday F&F gives me a reminder as to how I’m spending my time. Am I truly engaging with people and organizations that are helping me achieve my life’s mission? Do I need to make more time to connect with people and things in my life that feed my soul? Perhaps something or someone that I really don’t value or does not value me is taking up way too much of my schedule. I can adjust the picture and make the necessary changes with accurate insight collected from the F&F.

We live in a world of people who loudly sing, “I don’t have time.” in their overcommitted and poorly prioritized show choir ensembles. The F&F forces me to take a regular time audit to help me determine whether or not I am prioritizing my time in a way that aligns with my values. Show me how you spend your time and I’ll tell you what you value.  For the majority of us, how we spend our time is a CHOICE. A choice is not just something you have; it is something you do. CHOOSE HOW YOU SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY.

tomorrow

One does not need a fancy planner to conduct a Sunday Flare & Focus. All you need is paper and a writing utensil or you could be fancy and use the computer. I’m not able to plan my life on a screen so I kick it old school. Try the following:

1. Brain dump your entire week onto a piece of paper. Lay it all out there from the oil change to the Ugly Christmas sweater party and everything in between. This is the Flare part.  The rest is all about Focus.

2. Highlight the Bright Spots. “I get to do/go/be/wear/hug/cook…” –> Practice gratitude. Use these as your sanity guideposts throughout the week.  Make notice of those Dim Bulbs–those things that you really aren’t looking forward to that week. Maybe it’s a tough conversation with a colleague or maybe everyone is going on a cruise but you realize that your finances aren’t going to allow you to make that monetary sacrifice. Thank Him for both Bright Spots and Dim Bulbs but keep those Dim Bulbs at the top of your prayer list.

3. If you’d like, Organize items into thematic lists such as emails, phone calls, meeting prep, items to pack, and items to buy, etc.

4. Assign a Target Day/Deadline. I tend to just put M, T, W, R, F, S, Su. –We used ‘R’ in undergrad for Thursday at my school.

5. Put time in your calendar to address the item(s) on the Target Day. Be aware that 1 task could have 8 steps and you’ll need time to complete all the sub steps of any task. This is why chunk prioritization is important as it helps you not overwhelm your day. You have an idea of the estimated time each task will take and you can in a sense “balance” your day with heavy and light tasks. If I don’t put it on my calendar, it isn’t going to happen.

6. Do it! Check it off the list and get you a hit of dopamine :). Read Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek if you don’t get that reference. 

It has changed my life for the better to not hurl myself into Monday without a plan of action. If I skip my Sunday Flare & Focus, I feel it and immediately regret not spending a few moments getting myself prepped for the week.

Own your week and give your next Monday a big smile. Thank your Sunday Flare & Focus for giving you a new lease on life.

Thanks y’all for reading.

Own Your Weekend

Hey!

I have realized that I do so much during the week post work that I’m often exhausted during the weekend. Though I love post 5pm opportunities M-F, I’ve got to reclaim the power of Saturday and Sunday. After lots of time running on the hamster wheel of catch up when it came to work, spending sunny days in my office checking things off my to-do list that were not addressed  due to manufactured crises, useless meetings, social media distractions, colleague conversations, or impromptu and lengthy counseling sessions with the students, I decided that I could no longer subject myself to such torture aka weekend deprivation. The weekend belongs to me and should not belong to my occupation. A weekend side hustle is fine and being on campus to tailgate and cheer on the football team are acceptable but this whole “overachiever” business just needed to cease. Whatever I get done at the end of the day is ENOUGH! The world will keep spinning whether or not I rewrite the Student Leader Survey.

After engaging in intense, needed, and rejuvenating couch time on Friday night and Saturday during which I watched Rush and Walk the Line and went to bed early (Don’t be jelly!) I planned to make Sunday an external day. When I first moved to Nashville in 2011, I was hellbent on seeing this city in all its loveliness. Everything and everyone was new and I had to experience every delicious, melodic, and Christ filled part of it while I whirled around town on solo missions and prolific friend dates. If you need some help with friend dating, holla at your girl. I got that game on lock. I decided that it’s time to get back in the action. Music City is growing at a rapid pace and I’ve gotten behind on touring the list of wonders that make this place the “it” city.

Sunday’s Agenda

– Church at Church of the City in East Nashville

Barista Parlor for brunch in East Nashville

Barre3 Nashville in the Park in Public Square Park

I think my three basic elements were covered: A good Word, A good plate, and A good workout–my mind, body, and soul were well fed this fine Sunday.

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Ephesians 3:20 –“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” — His power goes beyond anything we can even fathom. His power saves us and sends us. He is able to do so much more because His power is at work within us. We have to step into God’s power. We walk around feeling like we are in control and we have the ultimate power over our lives BUT we don’t and we have to stop living at that level. “Most Christians salute the sovereignty of God but believe in the sovereignty of man.” —R.C. Sproul –How true is this? We claim that God is at the center of our lives and that we are placing everything in His hands but in actuality we are holding on to it tightly in our palms in fear of letting it go. Pastor Matt told us to think about the relationship in our life that we feel will never be healed and give it to God. Pray about it and watch Him work. Because God’s power is  working within us and it sends us to spread the good Word, we also have to be cognizant of how we can capitalize on his power in our everyday lives. How can you use the word in your workplace, the place you workout, during your volunteer efforts in the community, or when you meet a stranger in the check-out line. I realize that having The Bible in my office and scriptures posted in my office, and when I proclaim, “God is good” or “Give it to God”  or when I’m blaring my Christian Spotify playlist that I’m spreading His word in a way that allows others to tap into that place within themselves even for just a moment. I’m not being pushy, I’m just being present. I crave control but everyday I must remind myself that ultimately, I am not in control. He is God and I am not. Done. His power saves us and sends us. Those are the truths I need to hold on to all day, every day.

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After all this message and beautiful worship I headed over to Barista Parlor for brunch and what I found to be a really cool atmosphere. It was gorgeous outside and the sun hit the Barista Parlor sign perfectly. I ordered The Huntsmen with Bacon and a Hot Chocolate. The cornbread was EVERYTHING!!! #cornbreadcoma –The place is cool and a perfect hipster destination. It’s one of those places that you question whether or not you’re actually cool enough to be in the room. Luckily, I think my hair makes me 10 times cooler than most people in the room ;). KIDDING! People told me that the Baristas were a bit pretentious but I found them to be adorably sweet. The decor was curated in an intentional way that makes the place look vintage and modern all at the same time. I enjoyed sitting and writing with addictive music in the background.

—COSTUME CHANGE—

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All we needed was a mat, water, and a towel for a great workout. We got sweet goodie bags too :).

All we needed was a mat, water, and a towel for a great workout. We got sweet goodie bags too :).

Off to Barre3 Nashville in the Park at Public Square Park to find my edge and embrace those muscle changing shakes. I loved the weather and the workout, but most of all I love the team that make up this studio. Strong women who are beautiful inside and out without any pretense whatsoever. The mic was dropped when it didn’t work and the show went on while we all did crescent lunge under the most beautiful blue sky. The studio is co-owned by two powerhouse women and they have golden hiring fingers. All of the instructors make me happy and I never thought how great it would be for me to find a sense of belonging at the place in which I workout. Barre3 is a great fitness movement for women and I’m an avid supporter.

Called my mom on the way back home (I call my mom every Sunday. If I don’t, the police will be at my door. NOT KIDDING!) and that was a perfect end to my day. She made me laugh extra hard and made me extra proud for the work she’s doing at my home church. I know that He’s using her in the best way. She’s so great with kids and I know that’s where her brain and heart need to be focused. She did pretty well with me and my bro. We are so blessed to have had a mother who challenged and supported us. Kids need that so much. My mom was never my friend, she was my mom and THAT made ALL the difference.

I think I did a pretty stellar job of Owning My Weekend. Next weekend, I’ll be in Kansas City at AJLI’s ODI representing the Junior League of Nashville. Can’t wait to tell you all about it.

It was nice to get back into the city and commit to adventuring around town to new places. I can’t let my week claim all of my energy and passing the time by slumping around my apartment just ain’t gonna cut it. Taking time to get some adult things done is fine BUT I’m only 31 and there’s no need to miss all this sunshine and leaf changing color time. Time to get back in the game.

How are you Owning Your Weekend?

Thanks for reading!

Lata Y’all.