All By Myself

Traveling alone has become a source of pleasure in my life. I look forward to escaping the day to day. I research and plan a true tourist experience. I like being a solo tourist and making my way around a city without a squad. Whether I’m ubering, walking, or metroing my way through Washington D.C. taking in the wonders of Seattle, melting at the beauty of the homes in Charleston, or taking a break from the crowd in Montreal there’s something really refreshing and fulfilling about going on a solo mission. Planning MY itinerary and whipping out my iPhone (I mean, how did people live without them?) to find my way to the next adventure is good for me. It’s taught me more about how resourceful and strong I am.  It’s a good time for reflection and creative projects. It’s also helped me realize that I can connect with just about anyone. I’m great at chatting up strangers and I actually enjoy meeting new people in each city. I don’t have to include anyone in my plans. I go where I want to, when I want to, and how I want to. I don’t have to have the dreaded. “What do you want to eat?” conversation and I don’t have to get pissed at someone for waking up late and ruining the whole day. No one has any expectations of me.  I’m a woman who didn’t ride a plane until she was 21 and just left the US for the first time last month. The fact that I can get to the airport and board the correct vessel, is quite a feat.

Mimosa at Poogan's

During my time in Charleston as sweet southern people asked me repeatedly, “Are you here alone?” “Did you travel by yourself?” “Do you do this often?” “Are you eating dinner here all by yourself?” to which I replied, “Yes!” only to hear their responses of, “Wow, that’s something. You’re brave.” “Good for you.” “I want to do that when I grow up.” “That sounds like a great idea.” I began to think more about the taboo nature of this to most people. Most people would never travel alone. It would never cross their mind NOT to call up their besties for a voyage to a new place. Most people would never saddle up to a bar and eat a delicious meal with no one to talk to but the bartender until the others sitting on nearby stools open up after a couple of cocktails.

I don’t know WHY I can do this. I do know that my mother has similar albeit local tendencies.

And now for the raw & real part, I also came to the realization that for me, this “going solo” mentality is really all about preparation for the rest of my life. I’m often putting myself in positions to be alone because I think that’s going to be my state of being until the day I am no longer walking this earth. In my mind, I will be alone. Not lonely, but alone, and really by alone, I mean, single. When one turns 33 in the South and is the most single person on the planet and doesn’t have children, one is inclined to think about this in a deep reflective manner. I’m NEVER in a relationship (well, I haven’t been since college) and the thought of kids give me a heart attack.  I want to get used to just being “me” without anyone else to help me or accompany me on life’s adventures. I want to get so good at being just “me” that I numb the pain of the absence of a romantic partner. I want it to become normal so that I don’t put in the emotional work wondering, “Where is he?” or waste my prayers on some person that may not even exist. So, I detach and I run off to places all by myself. Sometimes, this can be as simple as a movie, museum, fitness class, or a concert, but other times it’s a new city in a different state. It’s the purchase of 1 ticket and the reservation for a table of 1.

I want to be a person who is full of hope and faith in God’s plan for me. He may have called me to be single or He may have called me to be married with three children. His answer might be “Not Yet” and not “No”. This is always my loudest prayer. I work to hold on to my belief that all He’s doing is for my good. But sometimes, y ’all, I just want to accept what is oddly the easiest and hardest answer–I wasn’t meant to be a married woman and I wasn’t chosen to be a mother. By just grappling with that notion, I find it easy to throw myself into individual pursuits. If this is the way it’s going to be then I must embrace it and I must celebrate it. I must own the position of falling in love with myself because I’m not sure that anyone else will ever want the job.

Me at the Beach

Yes, I understand how negative and messed up this might sound but this solo act business has become a coping mechanism to deal with my sometimes tear inducing fear of never again experiencing romantic love. Instead of doing something about my single state ( I don’t know what to do.) I just run from it. That kid thing I’m still REALLY unsure about at this time but having a person, my person, would be welcomed.

So, yeah, traveling alone is fun, but it’s much deeper than that for me.

Advertisements

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

S.A.I.L Away With Me

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

SAIL Pic 2

My personal mission statement is to inspire and equip others to thrive. I have a great passion for doing so with women, especially young professional women. For a long time, I’ve had a dream of creating a women’s leadership development program and was able to be the driving force in creating and implementing PREVAIL Women’s Leadership Conference at Vanderbilt University for undergraduate and graduate students who identify as women. After the success of PREVAIL, my heart was even more motivated to create something special for women in Nashville. A place where women can connect, learn, be vulnerable, dream, create, love, and communicate what they hope for, need, pray for, and just want in this world for their personal and professional lives.

One of my Strengths is Input which means that I collect lots of resources and love sharing them with other people. I cringe when people haven’t been exposed to tools that could help lead them in a different and/or better direction. Besides just posting these items on social media, I want to be able to actually engage women as they dive into various frameworks, theories, and schools of thought. I’m a connector of people and a connector of people to resources.

This is  the origin story  of S.A.I.L:

Success

Authenticity

Innovation

Love

“All of us are learning how to SAIL our ship. We often don’t think about learning how to SAIL until we’re in a storm. Think about how much better we’d be at thriving during the storm if we spent more time learning how to SAIL before the storm. “

Deciding a name for this program took me a little time as I wanted something meaningful and different. A scroll through Pinterest produced the famous quote from Little Women and I scribbled  SAIL in my notebook. I then decided that SAIL needed to mean something and used it to plot out the curriculum course. S.A.I.L is a vessel to get to your desired destination and people go sailing to do the same. I took a break from the idea and visited The Beveled Edge for a shopping break. The first greeting card I saw in the pile was the one below:

Sail card

This is when I knew I’d found just what I was looking for in the name S.A.I.L. God is something else, ain’t he?

S.A.I.L includes:

  • 4 1.5/2 hour workshops
  • Opportunity to take StrengthsQuest
  • List of Relevant Resources
  • Relationship Building
  • Action Planning
  • Snacks/Wine/Champagne
  • Real Talk  about four key topics that continuously rear their head in the lives of women.
  • Oh, and it’s FREE!

Our first session is on Wednesday, February 3rd at Atmalogy in Nashville, TN.

19 women have already said YES! My goal was 15.

Can’t wait to keep you updated on this dream. This is just Leg 1 of the voyage. My hope is that S.A.I.L is able to leave its mark on the hearts, minds, and souls of the women in Nashville, TN and then one day, a city near you :).

If you’re in Nashville and interested in being a part of any or all S.A.I.L sessions, please send me an email at krystalnclark@gmail.com.

Invite Pic

 

 

 

Things I’ve Got a Big Crush on at the Moment

1. Quadron — Danish duo. Listen and fall in love. My fave songs: LFT, Hey Love, It’s Gonna Get You, Favorite Star, Crush, Befriend, Better Off, Sea Salt…wait, I’m naming the entire album. Just listen to “Avalanche” on Spotify.

Quadron

2. “Adulting” by Kelly Williams Brown–So, remember the first time you read “Bossypants” by Tina Fey? You burst out laughing in a very quiet B&N and people stared at you so much that you felt it was only right to just buy the book and scurry away before someone called security considering that you’d gotten to the snorting level of your laughter which should really be preserved for private consumption. Okay, I guess that was just me. Well…the same happened with me and this book. Kelly Williams Brown has taken the word “Adult” and turned it into a verb. Being an adult is about how you choose to behave. She’s hilarious in a way that multiple parts of my identity greatly appreciate which means that she’s a bit crass and engages in “REAL TALK”. She gives you some steps to help you with acting as an adult but also makes sure that you know that you’re a grown ass person and you can do what you want. Just know that every choice leads to consequences. She’s got a blog. Read it: http://adultingblog.com/.

Adulting

3. HuffPostWomen–I “Like” this page on Facebook and receive numerous articles throughout the day that serve as productive distractions (or so I tell myself). Check it out here and let me know your thoughts.

4. The Skimm–So, I’m not a big TV news watcher (I stand with Ann Curry) and I haven’t picked up a newspaper in ages. I mean, when I’m at home and the Sunday paper comes I still read The Comics, Parade, and The Daily Break. Does that count? No. I get most of my breaking news from the interwebs and as things become more and more complicated in my world and the world around me, I enjoy a cliffs notes version of what’s happening beyond Nashville, TN. I turn to The Skimm.

Facebook
Website
Twitter

Now you know and knowing is half the battle. “G.I. Joe, American Hero”–wait, was that too much? Oh, well.

Firefly is my GI Joe name. Don't ask why I have a GI Joe name. We've all had previous lives.

Firefly is my GI Joe name. Don’t ask why I have a GI Joe name. We’ve all had previous lives.

5. ios 7–There, I said it. Come at me, bro! Love the look, the “remind me” feature on my phone, all the camera updates, and iTunes Radio. I mean, I love it because I can still call people (SHOCKER), text people, take pictures, get my email, and keep my calendar in the palm of my hand. I understand this means that I would be happy with the first iPhone ever made. Fine! All of y’all griping about it need to sit down. Talk about manufactured problems. Grr! Do you think Alex G. Bell ever thought this mess would be happening?!

Later Y’all.