What is Your Legacy?
June 2023 Issue
by Mary Hope Roseneau
Photography (left and top right) by Cassidy Dunn Photography
Crystal Abitz created a beautiful logo for her company. It is a feather with tiny birds flying off the end of the words, as well. She explains it like this: “Birds drop their feathers; it’s what they leave behind, and it’s how we know they were here. Our legacy is what we leave behind. What is your legacy?”
Sitting with Crystal in a coffee shop was fun, as well as thought-provoking. She talked about her growing up years, college, and fun experiences, and just as easily went into deeper subjects, such as priorities, personal worth, values, and purpose.
Crystal grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin, and met her husband there, although he was a friend of her brother, and she was just “the kid sister.” Tony is a few years older than Crystal, and when he graduated from high school, he left and joined the Marines. They sent handwritten letters to each other through his first deployment to Iraq. Crystal saved all the letters she received from Tony for posterity, even the smudged ones. Time went by, and they continued their individual journeys.
Crystal continued her education after high school, majoring in elementary education and German in college. Her practice-teaching was in New Zealand, where she learned a few things herself. She was introduced to bungee jumping on her first day there! She came back home and tried teaching kids for a while, but it just wasn’t her thing. She returned to graduate school and earned an M.A. in Sport and Exercise Psychology. She became a certified strength and conditioning coach and a licensed massage therapist, specializing in Thai massage.
Meanwhile, Crystal’s adventures continued. She went on a nine-day backpacking trip through Rocky Mountain National Park, carrying a 30-pound pack. It was a journey that affected her both spiritually and physically. In 2014, she was sent by her university to Brazil for a collaborative research project. And, again, not only was she physically challenged, the vast jungles and rivers she encountered spoke to her soul.
Crystal began a series of stints as a strength and conditioning coach for university team sports. She was the first woman at the University of North Iowa to work with the men’s football team, and worked with Brigham Young University men’s football team, too. Impressively, Crystal was on staff (intern) as a strength and conditioning coach for the University of Wisconsin-Madison men’s basketball team the year they went to the NCAA Championships. After this, she decided it was time to stay home in Wisconsin and begin working on a doctoral degree. It took seven years, but she did it. She completed her PhD from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions and is now officially Dr. Abitz!
Crystal offers community workshops, corporate professional development, and team-building retreats. She is an author, international educator and researcher, and inspirational speaker. She recently gave a talk to the American Association of University Women Beaufort chapter.
In the middle of attaining her PhD, she also became a Mrs.! She unexpectedly reconnected with Tony after many years apart. They just happened to be visiting home in Wisconsin at the same time in 2016. He asked her to take a walk with him, and it was a “walk to remember.” They picked up their teenage friendship and soon realized they were meant for each other; the courtship, marriage, and babies came quickly. Crystal laughed, “There was no time for a honeymoon!”
However, they are taking a terrific family vacation this month. Tony has made all the arrangements to rent a 25-foot RV to take his bride, their children Sophia (4) and Henry (2), their Australian cattle dog, all the bikes, a tent to sleep outside, and everything else they will need for a month-long, cross-country adventure. What a guy! Well, he’s a US Marine, and they can handle anything. They will travel to visit family in Iowa and Wisconsin, and then hit the coastline to visit Virginia Beach, the Outer Banks, and anywhere else that strikes their fancy along the way.
Crystal has two questions for you to ponder:
1. Will people remember the burned out, exhausted, unfulfilled, and possibly short-tempered version of you?
2. Will people remember the fun-loving,
youthful version of you?
Find Crystal at: www.legacywellnessmi.com