I have had a life-changing experience that has proven the power of perseverance
and the value of my faith, my family, and my friends.
I have also had professional training in the field of personal counseling.
When paired together, these two factors leave me uniquely equipped
to spread my message and my spirit of HOPE.
For seventeen years now, I have been married to an amazing -- smart, curious, ambitious, caring, loyal, and supportive -- man.
His name is Brook, and he is a Lutheran pastor at a nearby church.
Brook is my biggest cheerleader, he has a fabulous sense of humor,
and he has the best laugh on the planet.
We have had a blast, and we have laughed a lot. But we have also faced some huge obstacles that have been thrown in our path.
Career changes and parenting are tough on every marriage. But we have also survived seven pregnancies,
three of which ended in miscarriage, and one resulting in twins.
Brook supported me through a fight with stage three, metastasizing melanoma as well.
Then, a catastrophic illness called sepsis struck. Miraculously, I survived; but I suffered multiple amputations.
that have forced some role reversals (to say the least) and many, many compromises.
But our love is grand, our commitment is great, and our kids are continually grossed out
and embarrassed by the hugging and kissing that goes on in the kitchen.
When I play the board game "Life" with my kids, I change the rules a bit. In my version, whoever gets the most kids wins!
I consider my real life to be a "win."
I have five healthy, beautiful children, ages 5-15. I even landed on the space for twin girls!
Ben (15), Caroline (11), Lauren and Maizie (9), and Jeannie (5) are caring, fun, and surprisingly different from one another.
In our minivan, we have an attorney, a nurse, a diva, a hippie, and a firecracker.
Oftentimes, when I am meeting people for the first time, they will be rather unimpressed by my physical challenges,
but absolutely blown away when I confess that I have five kids.
Sshh... don't tell them, but, there are some days when my kids help me more than I help them!
My children are the brightest lights in my life. And my biggest incentives to become the best person I can be.
For my whole adult life, I have identified myself as an athlete. I have been a workout beast who loves to sweat,
increase my heart rate, and build muscle. I have been an instructor at the YMCA for almost ten years.
Whether it be choreographing and memorizing the moves for a step aerobics class, creating new ways to work a tricep muscle,
or qualifying for the Boston Marathon (2012), I've always enjoyed the challenges that athleticism awards me.
I have also built a great number of friendships out of Charlotte's incredible community of athletes.
My running partner of ten years became my "BFF" over the 4,000+ miles we logged on our weekly Sunday jogs.
And local runners organized a charity 5K in my honor, "See Kristan Run," that raised over $20,000 to help defray the costs of my prosthetics.
My athleticism and physical condition could very well have saved my life-- my heart and lungs were incredibly strong going in.
In addition, it was through athletic training that I learned the very traits (determination, perseverance, discipline, endurance,
ambition, and a competitive nature) that helped me recover from this catastrophic illness and its repercussions.
Even (and especially!) as an amputee, I love to motivate those folks who
would normally stay on the couch to get to the gym, go for a jog, or pick up some weights.
Because all excuses fade away when I say, "If I can do it, you can do it!"
Not only have people "Seen Me Run," but they've also "Seen Me..." cycle, swim, teach step aerobics and
weight training, downhill ski, paddle board, dance, and rock climb. As an amputee athlete, there is nothing I can't do!
Believe it or not, there is a large and loyal group of amputees here in Charlotte.
When I was hospitalized and preparing for my amputation surgery, I had several visits from members of this community.
These men and women of all ages came of their own volition. At a time when I was physically suffering, uncertain of my future, and straight-up ignorant about amputations; they gave me support, encouragement, education, and, most of all, hope.
Each of them walked into my room looking so "normal." One would never have guessed they were missing
a limb or two, or three, or four. I was amazed. And relieved.
They brought with them the possibility that I could enjoy a fully-functioning life.
Little did I know that our friendships would grow exponentially with time.
My amputee friends have become my family.
Through special training and certification, I have become an "AMPOWER Peer Visitor" myself.
Walking through the experience with new amputees is helping me give back,
and now I am proud to call myself an amputee.
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of North Carolina as well as a National Certified Counselor (NCC). I have a private practice in Matthews, North Carolina, where I see individuals, couples, and families from adolescence to adulthood -- at all the different stages and transitions in between. I believe we are all on a journey of becoming our best selves, and most of us could use a little professional help along the way. I'm passionate about helping my clients define where they'd like to go; and, together, we devise the best ways to get there.
Counseling is primarily about change, and I see clients who would like to make all types of changes. However, my specialties lie in the following areas: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, infertility/pregnancy loss, post-partum depression, trauma, chronic pain/illness, couples/marriage counseling,
and career counseling.
For more information about seeing Kristan as a counselor, click here.
I have a story to tell. I am a motivational speaker, writer and blogger. I love to share the lessons
I have learned from my unique life experiences.
Whether you need a keynote speaker for a large corporate event, a religious organization (I LOVE Christian Women's events and retreats!), a university convocation, or a small team-building retreat,
I can mold my speech into a message that will meet your needs and exceed your expectations.
Contact me here.