About KristaKari

I'm Krista, mom to three kids and partner to an awesome hubby. I work full time and live in Santa Cruz, California. Most of the time, it's awesome. And some of the time, it sucks. I don't pretend to have it together or to know what I'm doing. Sometimes I'm a great mom, and sometimes I suck sooooo hard. But I'm human so... I give myself permission to be imperfect. And thank god for a sense of humor and a bad case of ADHD or I wouldn’t have made it this far.

There are three guiding principles that help me navigate the unknown of working, parenting, wifeing, adulting, grieving, being and living:

  • Act with integrity: Maintain integrity in every situation. Treat others the way I want to be treated and remain true to myself, to my values, and to my moral compass.
  • Be clear & honest: Don't beat around the bush. Say what I mean. Be clear. Be honest - even when it's hard. 
  • Be kind: Always treat others with kindness, even when we don't agree. 

 

My story:

I grew up in Santa Cruz, California. After graduating from high school in 1998, I moved to Santa Barbara where I attended community college and worked in retail while exploring my many passions. In 2000, my father and sister were killed by a drunk driver; my dad was 47 and my sister was 15. My mom survived, which is a miracle. I moved home immediately to be near family. To this day, this experience shapes many of my decisions in life, from my love of travel and the importance I place on putting family first to my desire to push forward to the next venture and to shove complacency out of the way for new, challenging and exciting experiences.

I believe that it is because of my experiences with loss that change doesn't scare me and I try not to make any fear-based decisions. And I am far from perfect - while loss made me strong, it majorly fucked me up. I can be impulsive, crazy, make rash decisions and surprise people with the amount I take on at one time. I rarely get offended and can handle high-stress situations - that's not always a healthy thing. I am loud, obnoxious, live to have fun and love new experiences. 

One thing I am not - and will never be - is boring. I can't sit still, am always busy and love moving forward quickly - sometimes too quickly for my own good. I thrive on change and the ups/downs of life and career. I also love to work my ass off and regularly drive my husband crazy with my lack of rest - and my addiction to my laptop. For me, the silver lining is that I always manage to push ahead, even when I'm tired or feeling defeated. I manage to keep my head up and maintain momentum toward an awesome future. And I also always feel grateful for today. 

Read on for the more granular story (2001-today):

In 2001, I decided to take time off from school and moved to Lake Tahoe to work at a ski resort and to spend time snowboarding and enjoying all life has to offer. I returned to school in 2003, but this time in Arizona where I could pursue a bachelor's degree in Public Relations. In 2004, I decided to move to Valencia, Spain for a semester to work on my Spanish and to experience living outside of the United States. I studied during the week and spent nearly every weekend either sick or traveling throughout Europe.

When I returned to the United States, I chose to move home to Santa Cruz rather than to Arizona so I could be near my family - that's a whole other story of depression and crazy. I completed my bachelor's degree in Public Relations at San Jose State University, which was a great decision. There, I met amazing professors with real-world experience who worked in the heart of Silicon Valley.

I spent the next few years working in marketing and public relations, traveling as much as possible and refining my ideas and goals in life. I realized that I desired a career that would grant me the freedom to work from anywhere and to have a work/family balance. Sitting behind a desk, working for someone else, was like a slow-moving torture for me. I could feel my energy and my lust for life draining out of me. So I shook life up a bit and decided to pursue my master's degree in Communication Studies so I could teach communication. This career would give me summers and winters off to travel and explore. It was, according to my mind, the next logical step.

From 2009 to 2010, I taught Public Speaking to incoming college freshmen at San Jose State University as a part of my graduate studies. It was an amazing experience to have an opportunity to collaborate with fellow Graduate Teaching Associates and to work with so many incredible students with immense potential.

In the summer of 2010, I decided to forgo my corporate job altogether to solely teach and attend graduate school. This decision afforded me one summer off in between semesters and without a traditional job. So, I did what anyone would do, and I decided to take a month off to travel. I scrimped and saved and maxed out several credit cards to make it happen. I decided to explore South and East Africa a good friend. So that's what we did. We backpacked through Africa, from Kenya and Zambia to South Africa and Tanzania. We showed up from country to country with no plan and just went with each experience to the next. From a large cattle market in Tanzania to sailing off the coast of Zanzibar, it was a transformational experience that changed me for the better. Amidst all the non-stop craziness of my head, I felt calm. 

Upon my return from Africa, I met my future husband, Michael. Our story is one that leaves me grateful for my impulsivity, for just going for it regardless of the vulnerability involved. I didn't second guess our relationship. We were in love within two weeks, moved in together almost immediately and were pregnant and buying our home shortly after that. Somewhere in there we also got married - it was fabulous. By then, I had successfully completed my graduate program and had accepted a corporate communications role at a local tech company. I decided to hunker down and "get serious" with my career. I was going to be happy sitting at a desk for 60 hours per week working toward a director-level role. At least that's what I told myself.

 

After having my first child I had a hard time going back to the traditional corporate role. Being away from home, from my hubby and from my son, for 50-60 hours per week no longer appealed to me, but there were no obvious ways around this. If I was going to be away from my family so much, then I wanted to be paid for it. So I looked for a better paying, higher responsibility role and I got one. I moved to another tech company. I loved my work, but the hours were long. I was working 60 hours per week and driving for another 15-20 hours per week back and forth. I really loved my team, my job was great, but I was miserable. I felt like someone else was raising my son because I never saw him.

When we found out we were pregnant with our second child, I knew that things had to change. So I started exploring my entrepreneurial side. I looked at many business opportunities, from trailer parks and porta potties (yes, really) to FedEx routes and baby proofing. In the end, I started a small business called, Best Baby Rentals. I decided I would rent baby equipment to people visiting Santa Cruz with kids. I tried it out for about a year or so on the side (it was crazy busy between work and a side business). I had my second child, had a great maternity leave, and then went back to my corporate role because I didn't know what else to do.

 

But I found my work quality slipped because I didn't want to be there. I wanted to instead be with my boys. So, after having a hard talk with my husband about my feelings on the matter, we agreed to go for it. I left my corporate job and started Best Baby Rentals full time.

For at least ten years I dreamed of some day being a consultant, but I never felt like I had enough experience. But, sure enough, when I left my corporate job to run Best Baby Rentals full time, I was offered a flexible consulting role with a local agency that specializes in employee communication. I picked up the work to help keep my business going - and because I could work from home. I loved it. In fact, I loved my work in this area so much, that Best Baby Rentals started to get in the way. And then I got pregnant with our third child - a major surprise, but a happy one. So I made a choice. I sold all of my baby equipment, lost a lot of money, and dove into consulting full time so I could save for a summer maternity leave to bond with my daughter.  

Today, I know I made the right decision. I continue to work in employee communications for tech companies, but primarily from home and with an agency I love. And I still have the freedom to continue exploring side businesses while staying sharp in communication. 

And I get to be with my husband and kids. That is the most awesome part. I see them everyday for hours on end and it's fantastic. My husband and I get to truly work as a team. And our kids are also in daycare so I can get my work done. This has allowed me time to truly be with them and enjoy them. But I also have my identity and "me" time through my career.

In a super crazy, back-assward way, I landed exactly where I want to be. A combination of luck and hard work helped me arrive to this place. Did I mention I have ADHD? Well I do. And it shows in my life choices. Thank you, ADHD. If it weren't for you, I don't know where I'd be today.