Southern Charm

Charleston, SC was my 33rd birthday gift to myself. A new year, a new city. What a beautiful city it is. The houses, the beaches, the trees, the colors, the food–BEAUTIFUL! I took a walking tour and a carriage tour, ate in some of the most highly regarded restaurants, strolled up and down King Street, looked out over the place the East Bay, laid out on the beach, and well, cried my eyes out on a plantation tour.

See, Charleston is rather aesthetically beautiful but how it became the city that you see today is quite ugly. Now, we Southerners don’t talk about slavery at the dinner table but slave labor was the means by which Charleston secured its wealth. In the photos below you can see glimpses of slave cabins and the Old Slave Mart–the place where slaves were sold. So, in many ways I adored this city but in other ways it frightened me. As my friend Adrianne said, ” I even felt like the trees were trying to talk to me.” –Their moss hangs like secrets in the wind. If only they could talk, I wonder of all the horrors they’d have to share. Depending on who you spoke with would determine whether you were given a real history of the city or a glossed over version that belittles slavery to only a minuscule stain in human history. Others would tell you the nitty gritty and would enlighten you that reverberations of slavery still exist in the city today. My transition from charm to disgust occupied my entire trip. Now, please understand, that no one was mean to me on this adventure. In fact, everyone really lived up to Southern Hospitality and gave me nothing but Southern Charm. I laughed a great deal during this adventure and chatted up fantastic local characters. However, in the back of my mind as I walked down cobbled streets and passed by ancient million dollar exquisite homes, that in the foundation of this city was the blood, sweat, tears, and stolen freedom of my ancestors. Yes, we’ve come a long way though being in the home of the massacre that occurred at Mother Emanuel AME Church reminds me and hopefully you that we’ve still got a long way to go.

I am a woman of Virginia–went to College  in Colonial Williamsburg, my family is originally from North Carolina, and I lived in North Carolina for four years of my life. I now live in Tennessee and have done so since 2011. I’m a Tri Delta who is about to be President of the Junior League. I’m no stranger to the South but there was something about this city that smacked me in my face upon my arrival. Something deeper–its beauty makes it harder for me to digest its past. I love the South and abhor the South. I guess my Bitter Southerner is showing.

Yes, visit Charleston, but always seek a deeper understanding of where you have chosen to vacation. Love it, but embrace the realities of the space. Tour it, but tour it with empathy.

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.


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.



Lately, I’ve just felt this incredible sense of upset.

It takes me a good deep breath, a silent prayer, and often a good workout or drive to calm down.

Little things have been getting to me and things that I thought I was over have been creeping back into places I’d like them not to be.

thought post it

As I let it all go this morning in Barre3 and decided to turn the day back on me and not spend the day in my office working away and probably further adding to my ill feelings, I stepped back and thought about all of the awesomeness God has put on my plate. As much as I preach gratitude, I still forget to wrap my heart around all the blessings and instead cozy up to the hurt to keep me warm  cold at night.

Yes, there are many things I’d like to change in my life–the sooner the better BUT until then, I’ve got to play the hand I’ve been dealt and I only play to win ;).

Here are some highlights of the next two weeks…

1. My bubbly buddy Nicole just moved away from Nashville. She’s super awesome and I pray that CA is another place for her to spread her happiness to others. To help her drive away from TN unencumbered by “stuff”, I purchased her TV. Y’all, it’s my first flat screen TV. I’ve never owned one in the many years that I’ve been away from home. My mom gave me money to buy one two years ago but I needed tires so I made an impressively grown up decision to drop the cash on shoes for the ride and not entertainment. Well, now I’ve got my own Samsung. I’m sure the TV Gods are smiling down on me.

2. I get to go to Seattle, WA on Friday. I’ve never been to Seattle! My BFF from grad school is getting hitched! A wedding is always fun and I really want to catch a fish. I actually can’t wait to get on that plane with a book, my USA neck pillow, and not a care.

3. FOOTBALL! The ‘Dores take on Temple on Thursday night. Yes, I’ve fallen in love with college football. Yes, I’m a season ticket holder, and YES, I have planned an adorable outfit for the game. Tailgate season is back! How many new black and gold ensembles can I make happen this season?

4. JohnnySwim is at LOTG next Thursday. Let’s hope it isn’t too hot outside. They do my soul some kind of good. Can’t get enough of those two. Listen!

5. West Side Story at Schermerhorn! Fosse and the Nashville Symphony?! I win.

6. Worship Night at CrossPoint–lots of angelic voices giving praise to God. I can’t be mad at it.

7. A free workshop at The Skillery, Art Camp, Ole Miss v. Vandy at LP Field, The Lone Bellow at LOTG, and the JLN Provisional Retreat round out next week.

I’m also spending some time today reconnecting with the people I’ve come to love in Nashville. Sadly, I haven’t made a lot of time for friends lately. I need some belly laughs. As I’m writing this, one of my fave ladies sent me a text. Such a win!

As usual, I’m quite clueless as to what’s happening with my emotions. This surge of “yuck” came out of nowhere. There are a couple things that I need to actively resolve or let go. I sprung into action today and feel good about my decision to make this a selfish day. My work will get done. It always does.

Pray with me that I’ll be more conscious in choosing how I feel this week.

choose thoughts

Thanks for reading.

Lata Y’all.





Summer Snaps

Happy Monday!

Steeplechase to Bonnaroo to Alpha Xi Delta’s Founders’ Academy to Katy Perry to Beyonce to the DCC Locker Room to University of Tampa, to Delta Delta Delta Executive Office, and an incredible amount of  additional adventures –all big–because adventure is always and should always be BIG. Take no adventure for granted. 

Summer 2014 was real good. I spent a nice amount of time outside of Nashville and it was needed. Above are just a few highlights.  One of my family members believes that no matter where I go, I have a good time. He’s 98% accurate. I have the gift of finding giggles in the mundane and belly laughs in the extraordinary. I’ve become a calmer traveler and a more go with the flow guest. There’s something about taking a minute, closing your eyes, and breathing in new air. Taking in the blessing that has allowed me to get away from it all. Getting there is more than a feat of transportation. When I travel, I’m all there and nothing about Nashville weighs down my heart or mind.

My mom doesn’t fly and we only traveled by car when I was little. I didn’t fly until I was 18 and my brother never flew until he joined the Air Force. My mom marvels at my ability to navigate the air and I know that she exhales the biggest breath in Virginia when I alert her that “I’ve arrived.” I think I go on my adventures for her just as much as  I do for me.

Our students are officially back on campus and today marks the end of quiet and all that planning for the fall. Fall is here and ’tis time to put in the best work we got.

Looking forward to making Fall 2014 just as fun.  Next stop: Seattle, WA for exploring and a BFF wedding. Follow me on Instagram to keep up @clarkkn.

Lata Y’all.

Fall, is that you?

I live my life in semesters. I have since I was 18 and will do so for the foreseeable future. Just know, that if you ask me to commit to anything it will be based on what “the kids” are doing in school. Not my biological children but other people’s children who are sent away to college and put in the hands of inside of the classroom and outside of the classroom educators that are charged with creating the ultimate collegiate experience. The object is learn. Learn what’s in the books, learn what makes you tick, and learn how to use all of that to create positive change in the world. No biggie!

goodbye fall

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Fall, is that you? The lovelies are back and August 16th is MOVE-IN DAY. Can’t wait to see all the first-year students in their brand new cowboy boots,  overstuffed cars and over the top U-Hauls with their eager, proud, and concerned parents in tow.  It’s always a fun day to watch them move into their new home. Sigh.

With all of this comes the cold, hard truth. SUMMER is CAPUT! Bye Felicia!

In an earlier entry I listed all of the things I wanted to do this summer in Nashville:

1. Drag Brunch at Suzy Wong’s House of Yum
2. The Zoo
3. Cheekwood
4. Belle Meade Plantation
5. The Peach Truck
6. Oz
7. Grand Ole Opry
8. Movie at Elmington Park
9. Full Moon Pickin’ Party–might become a fall activity?
10. Concert: Woods at Fontanel
11. 12th & Broad Events
12. Musician’s Corner
13. Movies at the Schermerhorn–West Side Story is coming this fall!
14. Belcourt to see Belle
15. Visit to the Farmer’s Market
16. Intense sits on rooftops and patios
17. Johnny Cash Museum
18. POOL! –Already had 2 days in a row 🙂

19. Apparently, we have an arena football team?

10/19 ain’t bad and I still have a few days to go plus I can make some of this stuff happen in the fall. Let’s just say that my Summer Play to-do list got a lot more action than my Summer Work to-do list. I’ll be paying for those decisions for the next couple of weeks. However, I ain’t mad at myself for choosing to do me this summer. It was a necessity.

So, how’d you do on your Summer Play to-do list? I’m a huge advocate for being a tourist in the place that you live. Why not? I’m fortunate to live in a place that I can’t possibly stay up to date on all of the new things to do but I certainly give it a full faith effort.

If you didn’t get to experience all that you wanted, how can you intentionally plan some time to continue attacking your list during the early fall months? Perhaps your friends’ schedules will be back to normal and you can arrange a group outing? I would also say that the cooler weather for many of these activities is actually going to make them more appealing like The Zoo and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.

This was a bang up summer and I haven’t even told you all of the cool things I got to do including Bonnaroo, Dallas/Fort Worth adventure, my time with Alpha Xi Delta, a trip home, National Leadership Symposium in Tampa, CONCERTS. and a killer tourist trip from my aunt.

miss summer

Summer 2014 was certainly a better fit for me than Summer 2013.  I felt like I got back to me. Being away helped me clear my head and rest some toxicity in my heart. I feel that alone would deem this season a success.

Don’t we all feel better in the summer? People are cheerful, tan (I’m always tan), just want to have a good time, and go on adventures.  During summer, we’re more likely to say, “Why not?”, “Yes.”, “Let’s make it happen.”, “Sure, I can stay longer.”, “That can wait.”  You meet a lot of people that you might never see again and you visit those people you haven’t seen in a long time. You close that laptop and put away that phone. You celebrate others and you treat yo’ self. You cross those things off your Bucket List that you’ve only allowed yourself time to complete during the summer.

So, now what? Now, I launch myself into Fall 2014. I take what I learned this summer and I hold it close to me. I cling to that sense of adventure and I intentionally work it into my fall. I don’t allow myself to get buried by the work and I always make sure that when I need to, I can extend my arm with the flag of surrender waving courageously (without shame) in the wind. When I need a break, I’ll take a break. Deal with it!

I’m clearing my plate and making some room for other delicious entrees. I’ve realized that breathing feels great and I’m going to do that more. That whole “invincible summer” thing needs to become a reality.

How are you going to keep summer alive? Don’t let all of this goodness die simply because it’s August. Do us all a favor and keep a piece of it tightly wound up in your heart. Refuse to let it go and break out your summer self when you need to.

Later 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. –Check it out! Any suggestions?

Later Y’all.



Dish Tampa

Plant Tampa

Tampa did way more for me than I expected. Great work was done in that city over the course of three days. Sometimes you just have to get away from all the static. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow but for now just check out these pics. This castle in the sky and my life’s hope in this dish. I can’t even tell you how happy I was to bump into this city.

Later Y’all.

Summer is Here!!!

Hey Y’all,

I’ve been quite a bum on this fine Memorial Day. My actions have been the total antithesis of the men and women for whom we celebrate on this special day. I’m the proud daughter, sister, and cousin of men who have served our country in the United States Army and the United States Air Force. I respect them greatly for their courage and sacrifice. I don’t have a relationship with my father but I will always be in awe that he served in the Vietnam War and in the Gulf War. My heart grows for him when I take that into account. I know that he’s seen a lot and done a lot to ensure that I’m able to live my life of freedom. For that, I am eternally grateful. We’ll work it out one day. I know God will see to that.

Memorial Day also marks the beginning of SUMMER! She has officially arrived.


I made a list earlier in May of all the things I want to do this summer. Ahem! Drumroll please:

1. Drag Brunch at Suzy Wong’s House of Yum
2. The Zoo
3. Cheekwood
4. Belle Meade Plantation
5. The Peach Truck
6. Oz
7. Grand Ole Opry
8. Movie at Elmington Park
9. Full Moon Pickin’ Party–might become a fall activity?
10. Concert: Woods at Fontanel
11. 12th & Broad Events
12. Musician’s Corner
13. Movies at the Schermerhorn
14. Belcourt to see Belle
15. Visit to the Farmer’s Market
16. Intense sits on rooftops and patios
17. Johnny Cash Museum
18. POOL! –Already had 2 days in a row :).
19. Apparently, we have an arena football team?!

So far, so good. I’m excited to work my way through these items. I’m sure more will be added to the list as I catch up on the happenings of Nashville. I’ll also be taking trips to VA, GA, TX, and FL. Strong maybe on DE and later in the summer I’ll be off to WA.

As for music, I’ll see Katy Perry in June and Beyonce/Jay-Z in July. There are some others shows I’d like to add to this list including Sara Bareilles and JOHNNYSWIM.


I do love the summer. It is a time to replenish. My skin looks great and my smile is bigger. People and time are more flexible. You get to see folks you haven’t seen in ages and the margaritas and my never ending collection of dresses are flowing.

I made a lot of mistakes last summer and did things that took a huge detour from my instincts. I’ve been paying for those mistakes ever since. It is now time for me to “let it go” and keep it moving. Pray for me in that endeavor. Forgiveness is hard, but it is what is commanded of me by my God.


Cheers to the summer!

Later Y’all.

Dare me.

Off to NC tomorrow to visit Duke University and then head off to the beach to celebrate my friend’s 30th Birthday.

I think that I’m going to work REALLY HARD to disengage from social media. All of it! Shut it down!

I really want to enjoy where I’ll be and I don’t give 2 f-bombs if others like it or not. Of course, I’ll take pics BUT I just really want this moment to be mine and those that have the privilege of sharing it with me.

So, don’t expect to see any details of my trip until I get back to TN.

Pray for me and send good vibes my way as I take this respite from the world that is solely responsible for creating FOMO.

Later Y’all.

Progress in the Wilderness with Salt Water

I haven’t touched my blog in a while but I decided to look at my 101 in 1,001 list and found that I could cross off a few new items and add progress updates to many others.

I’m a woman who loves crossing items off a list.

Check out the list here and tell me your thoughts about what I should add. I don’t have 101 items just yet.

Since my last post I feel like a lot has happened but as my pastor said last night, “God takes you to the wilderness when he wants your undivided attention.” I’m trying my best to refocus my energy.

I get to end August with a trip to the beach and I have never looked this forward to putting my feet in the sand. As they say, “Salt water is the cure for everything…”.

That’s all for now. Enjoy your evening.

Later Y’all