Hustle Hard

Mark Cuban Quote

It’s been a little while since my last blog, and that is entirely because of my hectic school schedule.  It’s crunch time now, and the stress is real.  Through all the chaos this semester though, I’ve come to appreciate the amount of work I have to do and have always done.

So many times I hear people who have gotten crazy opportunities but I know it was just a stroke of luck.  I know they don’t work nearly as hard as I do, and yet things are handed to them.  This would bother me to absolutely no end.  As I work my butt off, I’m being denied and rejected from opportunities that I’m applying for.  While these people who could ultimately care less are handed things on a silver platter.

This semester I took six classes, worked two jobs, and had an internship where I had to contribute a minimum of 90 hours for school credit.  I have reached a point of complete exhaustion.  However, as the end approaches, I’m extremely proud of myself for somehow managing to not quit.

And that’s just the thing, I never quit.  I never really appreciated that quality about myself until recently, probably until this semester.  Anything that I start, I finish.  When someone tells me I can’t do something, you better believe I will do it.  When people count me out, they are in for a rude awakening.  Don’t ever count me out.

I appreciate the amount of work I have to do because I know that no one can ever take it from me.  Nothing gets handed to me, but that also means nothing can be taken from me.  I don’t owe any accomplishment to anyone except myself (and my parents for their support).  In the long run, I’m more grateful for having to instill that work ethic in myself instead of getting the luck card distributed to me.  Having to work for every accomplishment builds character and changes your outlook on life.  You become aware that nothing is permanent, not success or struggle.

As finals week approaches for college kids, appreciate the hard work you have to do because in the end it’s only helping you.  Pressure can either burst pipes or make a diamond.  Be a diamond.

Hustle until you no longer have to introduce yourself.  And when you no longer have to introduce yourself, what a wonderful feeling it will be to know that it’s because of you and your hard work, not because of introductions from others.


What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?


The infamous question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that gets asked God only knows how many times.  The answers that I’ve had throughout the years are scattered all over the place.  When I was five, I wanted to be a vet – until I found out that they had to clean the animal’s butts.  As I started dance, I wanted to be a dance teacher.  Continuing dance, I wanted to be a Broadway dancer, then a Rockette, then a professional choreographer… all up until my knee fell apart (that’s a story for another blog).  Then I wanted to be a singer/songwriter, then a music producer… Leading to my current decision of journalist, preferably a sports journalist.

Yesterday I made my schedule for next semester; my final semester of college – and let me tell you – it’s getting real.  It’s a little scary knowing that after next semester I’ve got to come up with a game plan to start my career.  And as I try to get a game plan going, I’m asking myself that infamous question, “Kristina, what do you really want to be when you grow up?” I love writing, I’m told that I’m good at it.  I love sports, they make me happy.  And yet, here I am, questioning my career choice.

Last night, after a pep talk from my parents, I did some thinking.  I realized that the reason I’m questioning sports journalism as my career is because the things I hope to get from my career have changed; because, I’ve changed.

When I wanted to be a vet, I didn’t know what I wanted out of job, because let’s face it – my concept of what a job is at the age of five was probably not exactly up to par.  As I got older, I realized I wanted to do something I was really passionate about – that being dance. All I wanted from my career was just fun; I wanted to do something that was fun for me and that I was good at.  After my knee injury, being older, I took into account that I also want longevity from my career.  Hence, my transition into music production and music in general.  A part of me also wanted to pursue music because, I’m not going to lie, I wanted everyone to know who I was.  I wanted that fame, that celebrity lifestyle; I think mostly because of the struggles I had to overcome throughout junior high and high school.  At the time, the only way I thought you could become a known name was through the entertainment industry.  Getting older, I became a little more realistic.  Not to say that I couldn’t make it in the entertainment industry because I absolutely have that drive; but I figured if that was really my true calling, I would have been way more motivated with all of it.

So then my senior year of high school, applying for college, I reevaluated my life basically.  And I realized that I love writing and my main concern with a career was being able to do something that I loved.  Now, as a senior in college – soon to embark on my final semester, the once fun question becomes serious.  I still have the same concern, I want to be able to wake up every morning truly excited to go to work.  However, you do learn new things about yourself in college.  And for me, over the past four years, I’ve realized that I really want to make a difference in this world and influence change.  So that infamous question of, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” has turned into, “What are you going to do to make a difference?”

My goal in life is no longer to have a career with a superfluous salary (though, if it happens that way – I won’t complain), or have a career to simply become famous (even though I was voted most likely to be famous in high school), or do something that is simply just fun.  My career goal now reflects the growth I’ve made thus far in life.

So what do I want to be when I grow up?  Well, as I continue to grow up, I still want that career that makes me excited to go to work every morning.  But now, I realize I want to also wake up every morning with the potential to start change.  And as I write this blog, I realize that the best way that I, Kristina Konrad, can promote change is through writing.  As for what I’ll be writing, the medium I’ll be writing for… I guess I’ll have to sit back, ride it out, and see where this universe leads me.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

…What do I want to be when I grow up?  A happy person who makes a difference.

Final answer.

The Nectar List


My professor used the word nectar in a sentence in one of my classes today.  I had never heard the word nectar used in any other class but science, you know to describe a flower.  So, me being the English dork that I am, googled it.  Turns out, nectar is slang for “to live.”  As I googled though I came across something called, “The Nectar Lists.”  I was intrigued, read up on it, and feel the need to share it.

It’s sort of like a bucket list, but instead of acknowledging things that you want to do, it’s acknowledging things that you have already done that you feel are noteworthy.  I guess we could say it’s like the “nectar” in the flower of your life…? (I’ll even admit, that was super cheesy).  But, I think this is such a cool idea, and a great little pick me up to remind yourself that you are unique, accomplished, and that you ARE making moves.

As I made my list, I was hung up after number two.  I had two major accomplishments that came to mind, and then I really had to think about anything else.  Why is this?  Because I let little accomplishments fall to the side.  I didn’t think they mattered enough.  I think we are all guilty of this.

So, my message to all of you is to recognize all your accomplishments.  Any action you take to improve yourself, your life, or someone else’s life; despite how little it may seem, is actually a big deal.  I challenge all of you to make your own nectar list.

I’ll let you see just a snippet of my own…

1.  I’ve overcome being bullied and cyberbullied.

2.  I’ve stayed true to myself and my morals even though people tried to change me or squash my values.

3.  I graduated from High School and am in my final year of college.

4.  I have dance battled a stranger… and won.

5.  I have surprised the general public with something that I’ve said (just ask my parents, this happens often).

6.  I have made people laugh until they cried.

7.  I have mastered countless raps breaking any “white girl” stereotype (not to brag but some include Eminem’s “Rap God” and Busta Rhymes verse in “Look At Me Now”).

8.  I have been able to laugh at myself.

9.  I have moved people to tears with certain pieces that I’ve written.

10.  I’ve empowered someone.

So you see, any accomplishment, is still an accomplishment.  Note your successes.  Make that nectar list.  Applaud yourself.


1600x700q80It has taken me this long to finally post about Derek Jeter, because I still cannot fathom that I will not see this man playing shortstop anymore…

Baseball has always been bigger than a game to me, and this man has always bee who I watched throughout the years.  Whether it be his positive attitude, his amazing skill, his strong work ethic, or his true respect for the game; the man has heart, and he’s definitely touched my heart.  So blessed to be able to say I went to countless games he’s played in, celebrated my sweet 16 in the legend seats behind the Yankee dugout just feet away from him, and was able to sit in on his final Q&A with Steiner Sports the same week as his last game.  But most of all, I’m blessed to have simply been alive to watch this man exemplify excellence; as an athlete and a person.

Thank you Captain, for always giving me something bigger to believe in.  Thank you Captain, for everything.

Like A Girl

kk blog

The other day a good friend of mine sent me a text message.  It was a picture of a post on Instagram.  It was a female, holding a sign that said “You can have ambition, but not too much.”  Followed by a caption claiming that women should feel lucky that we can even go to school, and even get paid for working, because it’s more than we should expect anyway.  She finished the caption stating, “Warning: women can have ambition, but not too much.”

…I’m sorry, what?

Needless to say I was absolutely outraged by this.  How is it that a young female in 2014 can still feel like she isn’t up to par with a male?  What type of environment has she been seeing to think that women still aren’t equal?

After I picked my jaw up from the floor, I was saddened by the fact that this female probably didn’t grow up the way that I did.  Growing up, the most important men in my life; my Dad and Grandpas set such a great model for me.  They showed me through example of how they treat my Mom and Grandmothers, how I should expect to be treated from men throughout life – with respect, and as an equal.  There was never any talk about me not being able to do something because of my gender.  They always encouraged that with hard work nothing was beyond my grasp.  For that, I am forever grateful.  And for having such strong women in my life, my Mom especially, who have shown me that women can do everything a man can, and then some. It takes things like that Instagram post for me to remember how insanely blessed I am to have my Dad in my life; and to have had my Grandpas in my life, though one has only been through memories and stories; as well as such influential women like my Mom. Because of how I grew up, the idea of a woman having too much ambition and settling for less than exceptional, is just absolutely ludicrous to me.

But regardless of how a person has grown up, it is 2014, the idea that all people are equal should be well etched in our minds by now.  And as a woman, it is a responsibility to make sure that every human adheres to that.  So this female’s Instagram post… so not okay.  And as a woman, I feel it’s my job to make sure other people see the problem.  She is sending out a signal that it is okay for people to categorize her as just a girl.  And when you allow people to categorize you, you limit yourself, your opportunities, and devalue your self worth.

If every female walked around with the mindset of, “Well we can go to school, right?  We can get paid for a job, right?” before you know it the mindset could become, “Well it was just a hit… He just pushed me once… He didn’t listen when I said no… It’s okay, right? Because I’m just a girl, right?”

Am I being dramatic here?  Some readers may think I am, however I do not think so.  Every thought any person has creates a domino effect.  If enough people are having the same thought, that thought becomes fact.

Recently, the Always brand created a commercial, “Like A Girl.”  It is one of the most powerful commercials/campaigns I’ve seen.  It’s a casting call and the director asks each person to do what comes to mind when they hear certain tasks.  The tasks include, running like a girl, fighting like a girl, throwing like a girl, etc., the responses are mind-blowing.  The older girls and boys will run with flapping arms, fight by slapping the air, and put no effort into a throw.  The younger girls, will run like they’re running for a cause, fight like their life depended on it, and throw like they’re in the World Series.  What does this prove?  That the older a child gets, and the more situations they encounter, the less power they feel a woman has, or has the right to show.  Instead of witnessing a power struggle, we should be witnessing an empowerment movement.  To achieve such a movement, every voice, every thought, every person counts.  So what seemed like a meaningless little post on Instagram, actually becomes a reason for a step backward in a movement.

There is no such thing as too much ambition, and no woman should ever allow her sparkle to dull because of a man, or a male dominant environment.  Ladies, take control, take command, and live your life in a way that makes the phrase, “like a girl,” mean something truly powerful.

Please check out the video, “Always #LikeAGirl” below:

For more ways to create a balance and empower women of the world check out Take The Lead Women, on Facebook, twitter, and their website:


kk blog 3

Products have labels on them.  They have warning labels. They have the word TOXIC written on them.  Without hesitation, we’re automatically careful around such products.  We are well aware of the consequences that come about if we constantly surround ourselves with a toxic element.  Generally speaking, we tend to stray away and stay away from anything that is noted toxic because we know it’s bad for our health.

But what happens if there is no label?  Does that mean it isn’t toxic and it isn’t going to have an influence on us?  No, that’s not what it means at all.  Certain people are like unlabeled toxic products and elements.  And just like any toxic substance, the toxic person has an effect on your life; and is dangerous to your health.

Obviously we don’t get a list of qualities in a person we befriend.  We don’t get an update every so often as to how their attitude is going to be.  So we can’t always stay away from them completely.  However, once we are aware of toxic energy it is detrimental we leave.

I’m not saying that when a friend is going through a rough time you leave them hanging.  I’m not saying that at all, so don’t misunderstand me.  However, there’s a difference between being in a negative state of mind because of a negative situation; and just being a negative person with negative energy.

Ever since my senior year of high school, I’ve been very aware of positive thinking and the need to always be optimistic.  Like everyone else I have had my fair share of obstacles in the past.  There was a time I was a very negative person.  I gave off negative energy, and so that’s what I attracted in my life – more negative energy.  There comes a point when you have to stop playing the victim and truly learn from a difficult situation.  Once I did that, life got brighter.  Once I did that I also became very aware of other people’s energy, and just how toxic they can be to my own.

I feel like I’m going through a transition in my life right now.  I’m learning to let go of old baggage and extra weight.  Through this process, the realization that I simply have no time for negative nonsense has amplified.  Toxic people are no longer welcome in my life.

Some of my friends have toxic people in their life.  They haven’t let them go yet because they fear the repercussions.  Yes, sometimes giving people the boot is tough; but it is so important to remember to surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you up, even through criticism.

When you hear something repeatedly you begin to believe it.  So if someone you’re surrounded by is speaking nothing but negative statements toward every aspect of life, subconsciously you’re going to take on the same negative beliefs.  Negative beliefs are negative energy, and negative energy attracts negative results.  It’s a toxic trap that is hard to get out of.  Don’t voluntarily put yourself in the trap.

Stay healthy, stay positive, stay away from nonsense and rid yourself of toxic elements, whether it comes in the form of a product, or a person.


kristina blogTim O’Brien’s, The Things They Carried, is a story about soldiers fighting in Vietnam and what they carry with them.  The platoons describe both physical things they carried like matches and rifles, as well as emotional things like guilt and fear.  It’s a really powerful story.  I read this my sophomore semester of college in my Introduction to Fiction class.  Going into my senior year of college, I still remember how wonderfully written that story was.  I also remember the assignment that went along with it.

My professor had us all write our own version of the story, as a college student, as a person; “The Things We Carry.”  I remember I wrote that I carried things like my cell phone, my wallet, my books.  I wrote how I carried self confidence, determination, and a distinct perspective on life.  I wrote that I carried my past and the obstacles I faced.  At the time when I wrote this, I thought it was an interesting assignment.  It made me think and allowed for creativity.  When I was finished with my paper I was happy with it; however, I didn’t see the true significance of all I was carrying.

It is only recently that I have realized that carrying your past isn’t always a good thing.  You see I wasn’t just carrying my past as it was; I was carrying my past defeats, my past failures, my past insecurities.  I failed to see that carrying such baggage was having an influence on my present life.  I didn’t understand the importance of letting things go simply because they are heavy until the other day.

Mariah Carey’s new album, “Me. I Am Mariah.” is phenomenal and hasn’t left my car since I purchased it.  Driving the other day I had the CD playing.  Mariah’s cover of George Michael’s, “One More Try,” came on and it just caused my thoughts to trail off.  The next track is a gospel type song called, “Heavenly,” and for a reason I didn’t realize at the time, I started crying.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate to cry, and it’s a rare sight to see me crying.  Listening to the words, “I just can’t give up now.  Come too far from where I started from.  Nobody told me that the road would be easy, but I don’t believe He’s brought me this far to leave me,” caused me to have a bit of an emotional breakdown.  Being I hate to cry, I had to figure out why I was even crying.  And I realized, after talking it out with one of my aunts, it’s because I was carrying the weight of things that I never released.

In the past, I never showed any emotion over personal defeats.  I said, “Oh well, I’m KK…” and I never stopped to cry over anything if I was upset.  I let the weight of everything build up until it finally became too heavy to carry anymore.  I’m progressing in several aspects of my life, or at least I think I am, and in order to do that it’s important that I clear my hands of old baggage.

After I let out that ugly cry, I felt so much better.  It’s true, you don’t feel the weight of something until you release it.  And as Nathaniel Hawthorne says in The Scarlet Letter, “She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.”  I have finally let go of the things I was carrying that were actually weighing me down.

Maya Angelou


This past Wednesday, Maya Angelou passed away.  As a writer, I feel compelled to have a post about her.

Maya Angelou was a woman who held many titles.  Ranging from poet to author, and even to actress.  Yet the most dignified title was simply the one she carried of her name.

Angelou had a rough life.  At a young age she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend.  She told her brother, who told the rest of the family.  The man who raped Maya was only in jail for a day, but murdered shortly after.  After the murder, Maya did not speak for five years because she thought her voice killed him.  She felt that because she spoke up, he was killed.

All of the works from Maya reflect the traumas and obstacles she faced as a child.  Whether it be the poem, “Phenomenal Woman,” or “Still I Rise,” Maya makes a point in letting readers know she survived.  Regardless of whether she was talking about issues of race or gender, she made sure everyone knew she was a force to be reckoned with.

As a writer, I appreciate all she has been able to put into words.  As a woman, I appreciate the stands she took through her risks in writing.  She was a truly beautiful soul; who exemplified that we should all trust our struggles, for they are a part of our stories.




Opening Day 2014!  I feel like I’ve been waiting so long for this.  Finally, with new additions and a new spirit, my boys in pinstripes are back!  Yes, along with the rest of MLB, but let’s be serious – the Yankees are the ones that matter most to me.

Opening Day signifies a lot for me.  Yes, it’s the return of my favorite sport.  Yes, I start to look a little normal with all my Yankee gear.  Yes, it’s an exciting time.  But, yes, it’s deeper than that.

For me, Opening Day is a direct representation of the bond I shared over baseball with my grandfather.  As a native Long Islander living in Florida, he wasn’t surrounded by the same hype.  But, every year on Opening Day, a call to or from my grandfather would start the day.  Back and forth banter about how we thought the season was going to play out, player predictions, and the closing conversation of my favorite player, Derek Jeter.

In March of 2011, my grandfather was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer.  At first, I couldn’t get on the phone to talk to him, I was too distraught.  When I finally did get on the phone, it was Opening Day.  I remember tip toeing around the inevitable while somehow managing to smile through my tears as we talked our Opening Day talk.  Some things never change, despite outside forces, and for my grandfather and I, that something was Yankees’ baseball.

The end of June into July, my grandparents came up from Florida and stayed with us for a few weeks.  Naturally a trip to the baseball cathedral was on the schedule.  July 7, 2011, was my Poppie’s final baseball game.  Memories of that day will forever be etched in my brain.

We were on the first base side, right behind the legend seats (which my grandfather and I got to sit in two years prior for our birthday celebration – thanks Mom and Dad).  We had a Yankee attendant get us a wheelchair for my grandpa, and walk/wheel us to our section.  I remember the attendant wheeled my Poppie to the wheelchair section at the back of the seats, assuming that’s where he would stay.  My grandpa stood up, in his Lou Gehrig shirt, looked at the attendant, pointed down about eighteen rows and said, “There!  I’m sitting down there!”  And he did.

Once we were all seated, I noticed him getting a little emotional during batting practice.  Derek Jeter was only three hits away from 3,000 at this point, and so I ventured off to go buy the DJ3K bracelets.  They came in a package of two.  I put one on and gave the other to my Poppie to wear.  “We’re going to see him hit 3,000 today Poppie!”  He just smiled.

Derek Jeter’s first at bat, the entire stadium was on their feet, including my Poppie; not letting his weakness overcome his love for the game and being involved.  The wind up, the pitch… and Jeter gets a hit.  I started jumping up and down with a smile ear to ear, truly believing we were going to see the 3,000th hit.  I looked at my grandfather, “Poppie, it’s the power of our bracelets!” I laughed, and held up my hand for a high five.  My grandfather reciprocated with a fist pound instead.  I remember thinking, “Well how cool is he?”  (Jeter didn’t get 3,000 until the next game, but we were just close enough to history).

During the seventh inning stretch, as we all stood, my grandpa started crying as Kate Smith’s rendition of God Bless America echoed throughout the stadium.  I recall looking at him and crying because by the look on his face, I could see all his memories surrounding the game were being played out in his head.  I can still see the grin on his face though; a look of gratitude for the game, the team, the life he lived.

As I said, some things don’t change; but sometimes some things do.  My grandfather passed away at the end of August, just about a month and a half after that game.  As life was changing for my family and I, baseball was still a stable constant.  I would watch the games now, not just as a diehard fan, but as a way of feeling like my grandpa was still here.

Perhaps that’s why Jeter’s retirement at the end of this season hurts too.  He was one of the constants that didn’t change after my view on life was changing.  My team is changing, and my Poppie is not here to see it change with me.  Maybe, subconsciously I feel like if the team changes completely from when he was alive, that special bond will also change.

Opening Day however is a powerful reminder for me that as life changes, as teams change, as players retire; the love I have for this game is infinite because of the infinite bond it has allowed for my grandfather and I to have.

Happy Opening Day!






Enjoy the game Poppie, I’m sure you’re sitting in the best seats, with great company.

Thanks for having the ladybug land on my car today, I know that was you.

We Are What We Believe


Happy International Women’s Day!

I know that most people believe that simply because it is 2014 that the gender bias is nonexistent.  Well, that’s not the case.  Though I’m fortunate enough to live in America, where equal opportunities are encouraged, it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone agrees.

I would bet that just about any girl in her twenties could tell you a story about a time she felt judged simply because of her gender.  I’m a girl who loves sports, and I can sit back and debate baseball with the guys.  But has my sports knowledge been underestimated simply because I’m a girl?  Yes, it has.  And has a guy completely ignored my opinion on something sports related or otherwise, just because I am a girl?  Yes, they have.

Now although the blame can indeed be placed on the men in this society, it can equally be placed on the women.

Men, you all need to wake up and smell the roses.  Anything you can do, we can do… better.  However, ladies, you’re not all setting that example.

You allow what you tolerate.  And unfortunately I see, too often, girls that tolerate being treated poorly.  They are disrespected either by being cheated on, talked down to, or looked at as simply a piece to have.  And in those cases, most girls do not speak up and defend themselves and their gender as a whole.  Why is this?  Self esteem is the first issue, and the second is because for so long women who speak up have been stereotyped as a “bitch.”  Who’s fault is this?  Society as a whole?  Yes, partially.  But why are we, as women, accepting such nonsense?

Women spend so much time bringing other women down, simply to raise their confidence level, and it’s disgusting.  You would think that because all women share the same historical struggle that we would empower one another today, right?  Instead women are judging each other by petty things; clothes, make-up, Instagram posts.  It needs to stop.

What also needs to stop though is women’s need to feel accepted by a man.  This comes from low self esteem issues from being judged by their peers.  Do not subject yourself to be looked at as something less than an intelligent human being with equal rights.  That means don’t post photos that may be mistaken as an ad for a porno site. You’re not doing yourself any good.  You’re putting yourself in a position to be disrespected and seen as a pretty face rather than a beautiful mind and soul.  You are worth so much more than you think, don’t strive to get attention based on sexual seduction, that’s cheap.

Respect yourself.  Bottom line.  If you don’t, no one else, women peers or men, will think they have to.  Are you allowing yourself to be disrespected?  If you are, it is never too late to make a statement and change it.  You are only confined by the walls you build yourself, remember you also drive the bulldozer.  Respect yourself enough to realize you have no restrictions, especially none based on gender.

Another thing that has to happen is women need to stop fearing names.  The way I see it, a bitch is a female dog.  A female dog is a loving, caring, independent, intelligent animal, who when messed with too much has the power and tools to bark or bite.  So to some guys, because I speak up, I’m a bitch?  Sure I am; because I am independent, loyal, and caring, but if you push me – I can promise you will be pushed right back.  Go ahead, continue calling me a bitch.  I dare you.

So to my fellow women of the world, start a chain reaction.  Empower one another, examine what you tolerate, respect yourselves.  Dare to stand up, dare to be loud, dare to be called a bitch.  If we don’t allow for nonsense from one another, or from ourselves, men will get the message.  We are what we believe.  Men will have no choice to believe that we are equal and treat us as such, if we truly believe that ourselves.

For ways to achieve equality, check out Take The Lead Women on Facebook and follow @TakeLeadWomen on Twitter!