Crista Tharp Embraces Joy and Authenticity for Herself and Others
Writer / Natalie Platt
Photographer / Dylan Senkus
Crista Tharp is a little bit of everything – and a lot, at the same time. She’s an award-winning event planner, author, speaker and, most recently, owner of Blyss Chick, a women’s empowerment brand and community that encourages women to embrace failures, imperfections and authenticity, and ditch the superwoman complex.
A Kokomo resident since 1996, Tharp is married to her high school sweetheart, Chad. She’s grateful for the Kokomo business community for always accepting her, and the friends she has made through the Greater Kokomo Chamber of Commerce and Women’s Business Council, both of which have played a role in her career that spans 20-plus years.
In that time, Tharp has written 11 books, produced over 3,000 events, and become a motivational speaker.
“Over those 20 years I kept having babies and added stress,” Tharp says. “I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do. I would brag I ate stress for breakfast. Everyone called me a superwoman because they had no idea how I was doing everything. But I wasn’t doing everything. I was failing at many things, but I hid all of that.”
Eventually it all caught up to Tharp. After getting very sick with nonstop headaches and utter exhaustion, she had no motivation and didn’t feel like herself. Weight gain and hair loss indicated her lifestyle needed an overhaul.
“I finally went to see a female doctor who changed my life,” Tharp says. “She said I was about two weeks from being in the hospital for exhaustion and if I didn’t change my lifestyle, I would be dead in 10 years. I was 41. So I made the decision to finally give myself the love and care I so freely give to everyone else. I knew I was willing to die for my family, but was I willing to live?”
Her aha moment came during a doctor’s exam while dressed in a paper gown, stripped of stress and obligations.
“A doctor finally got through to me and asked a simple question no one had asked me before – ‘What do you want to do?’” she says. “It was life changing.”
After Tharp got through her journey to sound health, she noticed her friends experiencing the same thing, and wanted to let them know it’s OK to stop hiding behind the superwoman cape that makes it look like you have your life together. Everyone makes mistakes and screws up, and that’s OK.
So OK, in fact, that Tharp wrote a book, published last year, about her experiences. “Ditch The F**king Cape: Confessions of a So-Called Superwoman” shares funny stories, emotional experiences and parenting woes.
“I set out to write down the process I went through in order to find my Blyss, and how I choose to live it unapologetically,” Tharp says. “It took three years – one could say it actually took 49 – and I wanted to be completely raw, transparent and vulnerable. I want other women to know they do not need to keep living like Groundhog Day and feeling like absolute crap.”
Tharp emphasizes how brutally honest she is in the book, while challenging other women to ditch their capes, find their happiness and live it unapologetically.
“Friends affectionately called me the Blyss Chick, so I thought that would be a perfect moniker for this new phase in my life,” she says. “I will be focusing on telling my story while I am experiencing it – the good and the bad, stories about parenting, being a woman, dealing with menopause and, soon, a podcast where I will be interviewing other women.”
In addition, Tharp and her husband will have a podcast covering topics like marriage and parenting, and how they survive it all. She will also offer retreats, events and speaking engagements to further her mission of creating a Blyss movement.
“Many things inspire me, but the main inspiration for everything is my family,” she says. “My husband is just perfect in every way and our kids amaze me just by watching them live their life – especially my five girls. I draw creativity from everyone, like my amazing mom and everything around me, and kind of consider my life as living art. Some people will love it for its chaos and wide array of color, while others may think it’s vulgar, simplistic and unnecessary.”
Tharp says she will keep creating and living regardless of what others think, and hoping others receive that message and do it for themselves.
“It comes down to this,” Tharp says. “It’s all about the Blyss. By that I mean go, do, create, love, experience, fall and get back up. Life is meant to be abundant and filled with joy and meaningful experiences. Often we get way too caught up in the doing of life, and get on a hamster wheel with no way to get off. I hope that anyone who sees this, but especially women around my age, finds it as a call to arms, a wake-up call to get off the wheel, put themselves first for once, find what makes you happy and go all-out for it.”
“Live boldly, laugh obnoxiously, cry unabashedly, breathe deeply and love intensely,” she adds.
Tharp has a new book tour coming up and will be announcing more information on December 26.