Learning to Walk

If you ask for your life to change, it will change. Locked in an empty conference room in 2016 with my eyes full of tears, that is what I asked for. You see, the first step in the self-care and soul-searching journey is realizing that you are f*cked up. Not in the sense that you are a total disaster but more so like, there are clear areas of your life which could be handled differently. It is acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, there is an alternate way to approach your life.

For example, I could probably stop sleeping around with random men. I could probably go to work without counting down the minutes until I could leave. I could probably process grief a lot more productively than a bottle of tequila every Friday night. Step one: Realize thou art f*cked up, or the G rated version: Define your opportunities for improvement.

The next step was taking note of the severity of the issues I had and what I honestly believed would fix them. Sometimes it’s as simple as a workout class or mani-pedi with girlfriends; but for me, that would have just been a Band-Aid. I was at such a low point that I immediately took to Google and my insurance provider’s website to find a therapist. I knew that I needed to talk to someone who wasn’t a friend, who wouldn’t interrupt my stories or discount what I was feeling with their own personal experiences. I didn’t want to place that burden on my friends. I needed to pay someone to listen and give me the professional tools to fix my life.

Once I was in the chair, the hardest part was taking responsibility for my own actions. The thing about self-care is that there no route on this journey where someone else is to blame. This is both difficult to swallow and miraculous in its own right. Our parents, family, friends, and environment can be direct contributors to our poor state, but you are in control of how you navigate those situations and your circumstances. You cannot fix other people. You cannot make them love you or treat you better. You can most certainly ask but most people operate with their own interest in mind which makes it incredibly difficult to consider the feelings of others.

If no one else is to blame then you have the power to fix everything. That is the most wonderful part of this journey. You can change how you react to people. You can change the story of your life or circumstances that have been ingrained into your subconscious. You can decide what comes next.

Eventually, it’s all about implementing those tools. I suffer from anxiety, and I had to go from recognizing what it is and how it expresses itself, to me preventing anxiety attacks and identifying the triggers in my life. This involved a few difficult conversations in all areas of my life. I had to advocate for myself in the workplace, in relationships, and with family.

Last but not least, you have to make the pledge for less f*ckery. Once you’re aware of your issues and have set clear goals for what you want to improve in your life, you have to put an end to the madness. It’s not that you won’t fall back into your old habits. I have at least a dozen times but I don’t stay there as long as I used to.

Here is my pledge (in its most raw, unedited form):


I have seen some f*cked up things. I have made mistakes and lived to tell the tale. A lot of things have happened in my past but none of them truly define who I am or who I will become.

With that said, I will be damned if I’m not a well-adjusted adult human being who contributes to society in a meaningful way by allowing myself to reach my full potential. I will be someone who knows that they deserve love and belonging and someone who can freely give it because I know that I am whole and complete.

I will not mess anyone else up to the best of my ability. I will live a life led by love and joy while acknowledging the entire spectrum of human emotion and the human experience. I will live fully in this life and commit to being in the arena.

With Love,

Kristian


I initially embarked upon my self-care journey because I wanted to live a life that was better than the one I was living. I knew that I was carrying a heavy weight that I needed to let go of in order to move forward with my life.

True self-care is like learning how to walk. When a child learns how to walk, it is inevitable that they will fall. You cannot learn to walk and be jealous of those that crawl. You have to commit. You have to get up and try again. You have to hold the hands of those around you who understand what you are attempting to do. And you have to keep going to unfold into the person you were meant to be all along. When you do learn to walk, and you will, be sure to hold the hand of the next kid in line.

Love Challenge #3: You Deserve More

You deserve more. You deserve better. You are worthy of it all. 

Please take a sec and let that soak in because it’s true. Write it down on a few post its if you must. Write it on your arm. DON’T EVER FORGET THIS. 

Now, I am someone who humbly believes on existing in the present versus reserving your happiness for ‘one day’ but we should all have that little nudge inside of us that wants and knows that we are worthy of more. 

And we should be working on it. 

Last August, my Aunt and I went on an Oprah’s Adventure of Your Life Cruise to Alaska with Holland America.

I was never someone who thought that I would go to Alaska – hadn’t even dreamt of it or put it on my radar. On the trip, I was at the tail end of a breakup that had dragged on for months and would take a few more to finally sink in and I was dealing with the overwhelming stress of work and wondering what was next for my career. I was tired and felt like I was drowning while I stood on a ship that somehow cut through the ocean waters with an entire universe below it.

I spent a lot of time on the observation deck between events and meals where you could look at a big screen and see how far above the ocean floor you were and what creatures were beneath. I tried to ask myself, ‘What’s next?’ I saw nothing but mountains and glaciers. Then one day, looking through those mountains standing out on the bridge, I felt this knowing.

I don’t know where you stand on God and spirituality or the entire cosmic wonder that is the world but if you look at golden sunrises that beautiful, if you think about how someone was able to craft a 5000 ton vessel that can float, and sculpt every mountain and sea, and somehow, just somehow, thought the world wanted one of you. Yes, you and that whale dragging it’s tail 200m below.

You can’t sell yourself short when you’re standing next to a glacier. You are just as wonderful.

You shouldn’t be okay with just being okay, just surviving and scraping by. 

You don’t have to settle for that relationship with a person who really doesn’t understand you. You don’t have to wake up and go to that job that makes you utterly miserable for 40 hours each week. You don’t have to fall in the same traps and behaviors of your parents. 

Maybe you’ve tried ‘okay’, ‘enough’, ‘surviving’, ‘miserable’ and ‘scraping by’ for long enough and now we can shoot for incredible, magnificent, wonderful, and really frickin’ great. Have you given miserable enough of your time yet? Maybe schedule an appointment end date in your outlook calendar for once and for all.

Are you constantly making exceptions for something that is not exceptional? Are you rolling over because you think that is all you can get and all you deserve? Are you not taking the time for your dreams because you’re not putting yourself first?  

I constantly face the negative talk of, “Am I stupid for wanting this? Should I just settle?” 

The answer for me and you is no. 

You were put on this Earth for something incredible. It might not be money and fame. (I need you to be okay with that.)  But it might be to make every life you touch better by simply being your best self and wanting what is best for yourself. 

For your job? You deserve to jump out of bed with excitement for what waits. 
For your relationship? You deserve to be completely obsessed with loving this person and completely in love with the way they love you. You deserve an exceptional romance.
For your friends? You deserve people who wholly support you and would jump at the opportunity to help you succeed.  You deserve people you CAN’T WAIT  to be around and give you a Christmas level of excitement for Friday dinners. 
For yourself? You deserve to be your best self. Get the help you need to be that person. 

Challenge #3: Write your more list. We want you to write your craziest list yet of all the wonderful things that you want in your life. DREAM BIG and then DREAM BIGGER. Do you want to be an exceptional parent? Do you want a job using the skills you’ve developed over the years surrounded by people who inspire you vs drive you crazy? Do you want a love that gives you butterflies and goosebumps? Do you want to have the energy to leap up? WRITE. IT DOWN. 

Intersection of Love

I spent an entire life at the intersection of love. I watched all of the cars go by. I was just a tiny girl when I first came to this road but now I’ve made my home here – wide eyed and watching passerbys move past.  

I tried to understand the way the system worked. Who engineered the lights that made you stop? Who paved the streets? Was this the only way we could go on? Whose fault was the crash?

I lived at the intersection of love and wondered what put all of these in people in motion. Who gave them the fuel? What happened to the people who avoided this route altogether? Where were the detours? Why were there no lanes for those on the sidewalk – those who got in our way and slowed us down?

I wanted to close the highway – stop all of the traffic in all of the lanes. But I looked up and saw the planes, looked over and saw the trains, and even a man on a white horse. Nothing could stop it. I must yield.

Who had the fanciest car? Was that what you needed or was the thing passed down in your family good enough? Who helped the old ladies cross the street? Can you make a U-turn or is that illegal on this street? Paralyzed with hope and fear,  I stood at the intersection of love and waited for lust, fear, hope, loss, anger, and grief to pass. They all crossed, dissolving halfway through and reincarnating but I could never see far enough to tell.

The arch de triumph of this highway arrived in an underwhelming procession. It was rarely called upon but bore all of its strength in the power of everyone who passed by. Unsuspecting citizens who let go and gained everything they needed to cross the treacherous path which would never return you the same. It did not swing low but arrived when we had risen to the occasion.

I was much older now but Forgiveness still came. Forgiveness cleaned up all of the accidents. It served as roadside assistance, triage, and trauma. It fixed the potholes, paved a new surface, sent school children on their way, and gave us the power to start again.

With a final deep breath, I asked if we all had to cross? “You never do but if you aren’t going to, why are you here?”

Forgiveness in my hand, I crossed. I crossed and survived and there I stood, on the other side of fear, ready to love again.

On Love & Affection

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the Unfiltrd Team decided to answer our own little Sound Off question. The topic: love and affection, of course. We know that this day can mean different things for everyone but we think it’s a good time to think about the role that love and affection play in your life and how you can be more attentive and intentional with those in your life.

Let us know in the comments below: What role does love and affection play in your life?


To me, love is everything. If you don’t have love in your life, fear may have taken its place in any one of its various forms – anger, jealousy, grief, greed, aggression, regret. Love is peace, forgiveness, kindness, joy, charity, abundance, and support.  In my life, I’ve try to make the conscious decision to live in love. When shit hits the fan, I ask ‘What is this here to teach me?’ When people hurt me, I try to find the good in what they brought to my life in the time that they were there. Most importantly, love is an endless gesture that I show myself by following through on the things that make me happy. I love telling people I love them in a birthday card, random thank you note, or at this time of the year – a valentine. I love my morning ritual of tea with extra honey and my evening ritual of taking in a few deep healing breaths before nodding off. I love pushing myself into this world of uncertainty by pursuing a career that has been a dream for most of my life. It’s not to say that I’m never angry or jealous but I don’t let fear take any more space than it needs to and the lease is always short. Instead, I let love move in and ask, ‘What comes next?’

Self love means a lot of things but mostly it means putting yourself first every once in a while. In the next month or so you’ll hear about people saying self love is getting a massage and rosé all day. Scrap that. In this day and age where you are reachable 24/7, it means turning the phone off and choosing not to check your work email for 3 hrs on a weekend. A lot of us work 9 to 5 jobs and take everyone’s problems all day and night without thinking about ourselves and our dreams.

In this mass marketed month of love, you should stand your ground and speak your truth.As you are the one taking the anxiety and stress home,  don’t be a doormat and take care of your mental health.

I throw around the word love a lot. My husband and I exchange ‘I love yous’ each night before bed but I don’t just love my husband: I’m attracted to him, I laugh with him, I delight in his cooking and the joy it brings him, my heart warms that he loves our cat so much, and some time soon I hope to see my love grow for him as we expand our family. He laughs at me when I exclaim, “I love rosé.” I don’t just enjoy rosé or like the taste of it. It brings me intense joy to look at and taste but also it brings so many great memories of drinking a great rosé on a summer day or on our honeymoon in Provence. I don’t want to change how much I throw around the word love or to name a few: how much I love sweet potato sushi, my microfiber cleaning cloths, my dear friends Charlotte and Kellie, and where I work. To answer most clearly, love brings so much sentimentality with it. I most often don’t love things before I have a memory attached with it, but once that memory is attached with a little ball a la Inside Out, it’s in for life.

Love is sharing the details of your day – the positive, the stressful, and the less-than-ideal. Love is downtime in front of the TV, reading books on the floor as a family, and reading books side-by-side on the couch. Love is talking about the future and the present moment, it’s about communicating and talking through issues, and also knowing when to be silent. Love is watching movies on the couch on a chilly day, playing with puzzles and blocks, dancing to silly songs, and being a shoulder to cry on. Love is offering support when you can, and if you can’t provide what the other person needs, it’s just about being there – being present, following through, and being a safe haven. It’s when someone believes in your dreams and goals, and supports you in making them a reality. Love is spontaneity and daily routines – it’s finding joy in the small things together, celebrating milestones, and laughing and crying together through stressful times. Love is family, friendship, pets, self-care, and neighbors — it’s feeling someone’s presence even when they are hundreds of miles away. It’s being there, and showing up, and also knowing when someone needs space. Love is seen in the quiet moments, and in the hug after a long day. Love is chatting over a quiet cup of coffee first thing in the morning, and over a glass of wine at night.

Love Challenge #2: My Board of Trustees

Recently, I was facing a big dilemma. Actually, for the past 8 months, I’ve constantly been facing some sort of dilemma. Each time, I kind of knew how I was feeling about it and how I needed to proceed, but instead, I picked up the phone and texted, called, FaceTimed, and even made some actual dinner plans each of my closest friends to talk it out.

It’ has been said that we often seek the advice of the people we know will have the reaction that we’d like to receive. If you want someone to be super supportive, you ask the friend who is always supportive and your cheerleader. If you want someone to be reconsider, you ask that friend who plays devil’s advocate and a bit of a negative Nancy.

If you want someone to be reasonable and approach it as you would through a different lens, you ask your Board of Trustees.

In the midst of my explanation, a friend stopped me and he said, “You know I love you unconditionally.”

That was it. Unconditional love and support is what separates someone from being just a friend or in your tribe to having the coveted role of Board of Trustees member. When shit hits the fan, they are the people you trust to hold your secrets, love you unconditionally, provide you with advice that holds your best interest at heart versus their own, and are able to see your situation from a new angle while allowing you to continue to be the CEO of your life.

Who sits on your Board of Trustees? How are they helping you grow? Let us know below.