Meet Cristen R. Grajeda, Uniquely U.'s Director of Culture Enrichment + Global Support, a.k.a. "The Light Keeper"

Find Cristen on her Website and Heal.me

Education/Training:

  • BS in Studio Art and Technical Management
  • MS in Human Behavior
  • Certified Integrative Wellness and Life Coach
  • Certified Holistic EFT Practitioner
  • Certified Reiki Master Practitioner
  • Certified Therapeutic Art Coach
  • Certified Nutrition Specialist
  • Certified Bach Flower Essence Practitioner
  • Certified Spiritual Coach
  • Certified Personal Trainer & Group Ex Instructor (numerous formats)
  • Master NLP Practitioner; Clinical Hypnosis for Therapy and Healing
  • Certified EQ-i2.0 Practitioner
  • Certified Parks and Recreation Professional

 

Member of:

  • Complementary Therapists Accredited Association (CTAA)
  • International Association of Therapists

Cristen is a Parks and Recreation veteran, and after 25 years of service, in March 2022 she retired from her position of Deputy Director of Workforce Development for the Chicago Park District, where her efforts were dedicated to employee experience and well-being.

 

Wellness has been her personal and professional passion for three decades. Her life’s work has always extended far beyond her role in the world of parks and rec, and over the last few years her focus has shifted to global outreach and collaboration. Through her business Balanced Bluebird Healing, Cristen sees clients around the world virtually, utilizing a whole-person, multi-modality approach to serve as a guide for others on their unique wellness journey. Her goal is to invoke and empower the healer within, so one can be their Best Self, naturally. She is a member of the Complementary Therapists Accredited Association and the International Association of Therapists as an Integrative Wellness Practitioner and Reiki Master. She can also be easily accessed on Heal.me, the largest global network of practitioners dedicated to holistic health.

 

After an encounter that was written in the stars, here at Uniquely U., Cristen feels excited and blessed for the opportunity to join forces with the most brilliant, innovative, and passionate kind souls on the planet. She is elated to help bring to the world a new transformational e-learning platform that is rooted simply in pure love for personal growth, expansion, discovery, and well-being. Everyday she is inspired by her two soul sisters and is grateful that her life has forever changed by simply knowing them. As the Director of Culture Enrichment + Global Support, she is Uniquely U.’s Light Keeper, creating a supportive community of people who are authentically themselves, lifting each other up to thrive and excel at work, play, and just plain happiness.

 

INTERVIEW WITH CRISTEN:

What unique experience do you bring to this community?

My extensive career with the largest parks and recreation agency in the US, and my passion for serving others truly feels like the most perfect precursor to this leadership role at Uniquely U. My broad background includes almost 30 years of experience immersed in a vast scope of work in the field of integrative wellness, community engagement, and transformational learning.

 

Some professional highlights include the development and execution of life enriching programming for all ages and abilities, planning and production of large-scale special events, as well as personal and professional development in-person and virtual training opportunities for 3000+ staff.

 

What was your driving force throughout your career?

My mission was always to provide high-quality education and experiences that promote self-exploration, personal growth, community building, healing, and inspiration that cultivated a supportive and thriving culture. I was the prominent pioneer for change, consistently driving new initiatives and out-of-the box thinking, positioning the Chicago Park District as a leader in the industry.

 

Professionally, what are you most proud of?

I am certainly most proud of my reputation as an innovative thinker and a trailblazer. I successfully spearheaded the launch of an entire department dedicated to wellness, with my intent on expanding our workforce to encompass a more holistic view of health. My role shifted from community focused to employee-centered, and for the last 15 years my efforts had been specifically committed to fostering a healthy work environment and enriching the lives of our staff. My most endearing achievement was serving as the first and only in-house Certified Integrative Wellness and Life Coach in a government agency as well as the field of parks and recreation in the nation.

 

As I reflect, I am most proud of my accomplishments because effective change was never easy. My talents, moral compass, and determination kept me consistently paddling as hard as I could against the current all those years to make breakthroughs. This is why I know that I ended up exactly where I need to be, because the contrast is undeniable. In this moment, I feel the euphoric energy of a skilled surfer ready to ride the waves. Life flows so beautifully when you are in alignment.

 

How do you feel about starting a new chapter?

Words cannot express the intense gratitude and enthusiasm I feel to be a part of the Uniquely U. family and our beautiful mission. Embarking on this new journey together has made me fall in love with my purpose all over again.

 

What advice do you have for your 5 yr. old self?

‘My Dear Child, listen closely. You are a beautiful soul with unique gifts and big dreams, and no one can ever take that away from you. Shine your light brightly and with confidence. It is ok if you feel different. That is your superpower. There will be a lot of noise around you as you find your way in this world but know that the only sound you will ever need to listen to comes from your heart. You are loved. You are guided. You are protected. Always.’

 

My Path: A Personal Story

I wanted to take a moment to share a little about my personal journey. My path into wellness began in the early 1990s. I have studied extensively, as I love to learn. My experience with coaching began in the world of fitness and nutrition and has evolved exponentially since. Undoubtedly, throughout my 25+ years dedicated to healthy living, education, and serving others, my greatest teacher has been LIFE.

 

I quickly learned that wellness is far beyond exercise and diet. Even as a young trainer, I immediately noticed that self-sabotage seemed to the biggest obstacle for everyone.

 

Back to school I went to study Psychology and Human Behavior…only to learn that mental health is only a tiny fraction of the puzzle. Years of talk therapy cannot heal old wounds the ego will not permit access to. This allows old thought patterns and limiting beliefs to stay on repeat. Ultimately the same dysfunctional circumstances and characters will show up no matter the number of attempts to change the scenery. This is because our external world is simply a reflection of our inner world.

 

My next quest for knowledge was provoked after struggling terribly for over a decade, trying to navigate through intense grief and loss. I began to study the correlation between disease and emotions, and suddenly, it was one light bulb moment after another. Unresolved or suppressed feelings create energetic blockages, resulting in pain, suffering and illness. When I added healing modalities such as Reiki, Emotional Freedom Technique, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Hypnotherapy, Bach Flower Essence, Crystal Healing, and Art Therapy to my toolkit, I began to witness some amazing breakthroughs, both personally and professionally.

 

And my journey is far from over. A spiritual awakening has been my most precious chapter to date and has reinforced my purpose to help others step into their personal power.

 

Wellness begins and ends with self-love. Every single day I am grateful that life has taught me both the simplicity and complexity of that statement. When you love yourself unconditionally, and know your worth, you can live as Your Best Self.

 

Unstoppable. Empowered. And Free.

 

How can we help?

If you need anything at all or run into any issues with the platform, please email team@finduniquelyu.com. We are always here to assist in making your experience the best it can be.