Choosing Passion Over Fear

“Are there any alligators in this lake?”

I was down in Florida, about to take a barefoot water ski lesson from a two-time World Barefoot Champion. The thought of alligators didn’t cross my mind until that moment. I was about to get into a lake that averaged 600 alligators per square mile…

And I was scared.

“Alligators don’t come near the boat because the engine scares them away,” my instructor reassured me.

My passion for the sport of barefoot water skiing was about to outweigh fear. I put my feet on the water, stood up, and felt a joy that had been buried for too many years.

When you do something you’re passionate about, you are willing to challenge yourself to do more than you ever thought you could do — you step way, way, way out of your comfort zone when you live on the edge.

I was hooked, but there was just one problem — the more lessons I took, the more the fear escalated. When I floated in the water while waiting for the boat to pick me up, I imagined hungry 13-foot alligators slithering underneath.

Then the nightmares began.

At three in the morning, I was jolted awake by the image of an alligator with a wide-open mouth about to snap down on me.

I contemplated giving up the lessons and skiing in lakes that were alligator free — but that would mean giving up passion over fear.

“You need to face your fears,” the World Barefoot Champion told me. “You need to see them for the magnificent creatures they are.”

“Are you crazy! I can’t do that!”

I shuddered at the very thought.

All fear stems from the imagined and the unknown. The human mind is very powerful in dreaming up scenarios that feed on fear. Yet, the only way around fear is smack dab through it.

And here’s the thing: You attract what you fear. How do I know this? Because alligators started showing up in my life left and right.

A few years later, I started barefooting with Ken Cowles — who is known as The Gator Guy. He’s a state licensed alligator trapping agent. He’s the guy you call when a wayward gator gets stuck in your pool.

“We need to conquer that fear you harbor,” he told me one day. Then he hauled out a ten-foot gator and made me sit on it.

I was shaking for a long, long time afterwards.

The act of getting upfront close to the very thing that I feared most was cathartic. I discovered I had the courage to do the very thing I was extremely frightened of.

There’s a part of you that comes alive when you do something that you think you cannot do and you get to the other side of it.

If you’re holding back in life because of fears that you harbor within you, it’s time to get clear on what you WANT in your life, not what you fear.

Choose passion over fear.

 

Karen Putz is known as The Passion Mentor. For a daily dose of passion, follow her on Instagram at The Passion Academy.  To unwrap your own passion, grab the book, Unwrapping Your Passion.

Is Your Weight Holding You Back from a Passionate Life?

Ugh, I’m so fat. 

That was the thought going through my head after getting off the water during Women’s Barefoot Week. I had packed on the pounds from too much writing and too little exercise and I was really feeling the results.

Not to mention seeing the results.

Photo by Betsy Gilman

I cringed at the pictures that showed up online. On the water, I was struggling each day–not only with the extra pounds but also with the mental beatings I was giving myself every time I squeezed into the wetsuit. I was holding back and not really having fun on the water.

I blamed my weight.

Things finally came to a head one day when all of us gals were walking back to the house after an intense day on the water.

“You have to stop being so negative,” one of the gals said. “You’re too hard on yourself. You’re beautiful.”

As a “fat” girl who has dealt with up and down weight gain and loss over the years, I was struggling deeply once again. I had shed the weight several years ago after getting back into the sport of barefoot water skiing–and now it was all piling back on. There was a whole myriad of emotions going on–and there was no escaping any of the feelings that were swirling around inside.

To top things off, Community Voices on Facebook released a video that we filmed a year ago–and at first, I didn’t want to share that video with anyone. I was ashamed of the pounds I had put on.

I was really lucky that my friend had the courage to call me out about my negative views about my body. I had to do something different about the messages that were going around in my head. It was affecting my ability to have fun and to enjoy the sport that I’m usually so passionate about.

So the next time I went on the water, I decided to say something positive to myself–to appreciate the body that was performing amazing things despite the extra pounds.  The mental conversations took on a happier tone. I enjoyed my session on the water so much more, because I was able to focus on the things I could passionately do–and forget about the weight.

Photo by Lynn Novakofski

So if this is you–if you’re struggling with weight issues and it’s holding you back in life–join me in making a pact in moving forward–toward the things you’re passionate about–without letting weight hold you back.

 

 

Want a dose of passion in your life? Grab Karen’s latest book: Unwrapping Your Passion

Or take a class: Unwrapping Your Passion Course

A Sign From My Dad: Focus on What Really Matters

I was having a grumpy day, letting a lot of little things get on my nerves. My desk was piled up with a bunch of paperwork that had no place to go. In frustration, I started cleaning out a file cabinet filled with early intervention papers that needed to be shredded.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a card that was wedged in the metal frame of the cabinet and I dug it out.

It was a thank you note from my dad.

Four years ago on this day, Dad was in a coma and no longer responsive. He passed away the next day. Since his death, he has always sent me signs that he’s near. This one made me smile and cry at the same time.

Dad didn’t make it to his 90th birthday party–and he would have been 90 this year. I think it’s a lesson for all of us–to focus on what really matters and to enjoy the time we have each day.

Thanks for the lesson, Dad.

 

 

Parenting During the College Years

Letting go isn’t easy.

Not even the second time around.

Today is Move In day for my daughter, Lauren. The little girl is now a college student and today’s the day I have to let go and say goodbye. Three years ago, the hubby was with me when we said goodbye to David. The tears started flowing during our final hug and the tears didn’t stop until well into the long drive home.

I’m lying here in bed with my daughter next to me and the tears are already flowing this morning. I’m thankful she has her older brother on campus to ease the transition for her. As for me, I’ve discovered the transition is even harder the second time around. The first time around, you have no clue what’s coming around the bend. You have no idea that the reins of parenthood keep getting looser and looser, until your child becomes this young adult who no longer shares the minute details of their life. You have no idea that one day, you’ll have to beg for FaceTime in between classes, clubs, and social engagements. You have no idea that they’ll eventually plan vacations without the family.

But the second time around, you know all this. The second time, you hang around just a little bit longer before letting go.

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"Blindness cuts you off from things. Deafness cuts you off from people."

The quote is believed to have come from a letter to Dr. James Kerr Love (1910), published in Helen Keller in Scotland:

The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important, than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus — the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.

 

I never know if I'm lipreading someone correctly. This was apparent during a recent conversation in the boat with a friend, when he realized the conversation was way off the topic. I completely misread what he was communicating and he stopped the conversation to clarify my understanding. Turns out, I was indeed way, way off.

Some days, the communication flow is completely ON and the back and forth banter is easy. Other days, the communication dance is an awkward one, especially in group conversations where words shoot back and forth at the speed of light. Without communication access and adaptations of some kind, whether text, sign, or lipreading, there are times when I feel completely alone in a room full of people.  That's what Helen Keller was referring to about being cut off from people.

I feel this every time I come across a video that isn't captioned or a podcast with no transcript. A piece of the world is cut off.

The one that hurts the most is the "never mind."

Sometimes it is hard for others to comprehend the communication challenges that come with being deaf or hard of hearing.  "You're not really... deaf, are you?" is a question that pops up now and then.  More than once I've shown up at an event or workshop with an interpreter, much to the disbelief of friends who've communicated with me just fine one-on-one.  Lipreading a room full of people is impossible.  I attempted this at a workshop given by a well-known motivational speaker. I think I walked away with about 15% of what was said.  Think of it this way--you wouldn't want to listen to the radio when it's full of static and fades in and out, would you? An interpreter makes my world come in with surround sound.

Any time two people dance together, they have to be in sync to make it work. And so it is with the dance of communication. So the next time we're together, I'd love it if you'd reach out and do this dance thing in sync with me.  I'm always thankful for the people in my life who understand the communication challenges and do what's needed to make the dance a smooth one.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Dance of Communication

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There’s a famous quote of Helen Keller that gets to me. How it rubs me depends on whether I’m having a challenging day or feeling on top of the world.

“Blindness cuts you off from things. Deafness cuts you off from people.”

The quote is believed to have come from a letter to Dr. James Kerr Love (1910), published in Helen Keller in Scotland:

The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important, than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus — the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.

 

I never know if I’m lipreading someone correctly. This was apparent during a recent conversation in the boat with a friend, when he realized the conversation was way off the topic. I completely misread what he was communicating and he stopped the conversation to clarify my understanding. Turns out, I was indeed way, way off.

Some days, the communication flow is completely ON and the back and forth banter is easy. Other days, the communication dance is an awkward one, especially in group conversations where words shoot back and forth at the speed of light. Without communication access and adaptations of some kind, whether text, sign, or lipreading, there are times when I feel completely alone in a room full of people.  That’s what Helen Keller was referring to about being cut off from people.

I feel this every time I come across a video that isn’t captioned or a podcast with no transcript. A piece of the world is cut off.

The one that hurts the most is the “never mind.”

Sometimes it is hard for others to comprehend the communication challenges that come with being deaf or hard of hearing.  “You’re not really… deaf, are you?” is a question that pops up now and then.  More than once I’ve shown up at an event or workshop with an interpreter, much to the disbelief of friends who’ve communicated with me just fine one-on-one.  Lipreading a room full of people is impossible.  I attempted this at a workshop given by a well-known motivational speaker. I think I walked away with about 15% of what was said.  Think of it this way–you wouldn’t want to listen to the radio when it’s full of static and fades in and out, would you? An interpreter makes my world come in with surround sound.

Any time two people dance together, they have to be in sync to make it work. And so it is with the dance of communication. So the next time we’re together, I’d love it if you’d reach out and do this dance thing in sync with me.  I’m always thankful for the people in my life who understand the communication challenges and do what’s needed to make the dance a smooth one.

 

 

 

 

 

The longer I took to get back to blogging, the harder it became to find the energy, drive, and the resolve to get back into it. It was the same with my fitness routine--I had stopped working out and it was showing. So this morning, I got myself off my duff and marched to the gym. Action is the first step. Always. No matter how small of a step it is, it's a step in a forward direction. That's why I'm finally pounding out this blog post--because I needed to take some action in the right direction. So I'm throwing my thoughts out in random fashion-- and this could very well turn out to be one of the most unpolished blog posts ever.

But still, "relentless forward motion" as my friend Adam Fitzgerald always tells me.  He should know--he does ultramarathons.

Whenever I'm in a major slump, it's all too easy to pull away from people as well. It's a slippery slope--of getting into the old bad habits of negative thinking and letting the good stuff slide. So today, I thought about some of the people who have touched my life and I haven't heard from them in a while. I spotted Lorelle Van Fossen in my chat list and fired off a greeting. We ended up having a wonderful chat--what a great way to launch out of a slump! If you haven't met Lorelle, she's the Wordpress Blogging Queen. If you're an author, take note of her blog post on Wordpress for Writers.

On Twitter, I came across an article by Tony Robbins, Career Curveballs. This little piece caught my eye: "I think part of what has guided me is the belief that life is not happening to us, but rather it’s always happening for us. It’s our job to find the perfection in it all. Even in our darkest times we are able to find the seed of our future greatness if we look. Everything happens for a reason. Yes, even problems are gifts. Perhaps God’s delays are not God’s denials."

So this slump I'm in, I'm going to see it as a mere delay, the "downtime" that defines the happier, smoother moments of life. It's the space in life that makes the joyful times even more joyful. I have to continue to trust the passion deep within me and know that it will guide me through the days ahead. Like Wayne Dyer says, "It's the space between notes that makes the music. You must take the time to become silent each day and enter that rapturous space between your thoughts." 

 

wayne dyer quote

 

 

 

 

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When You Hit a Major Slump

Regular readers of this blog will probably notice it’s been quite some time since I blogged here.  This has been one long, dragged-out winter in more ways than one. My normal, “energy on spin cycle” has hit an “off” button. I feel as if life is moving in slow motion. When that happens, I know it’s a time of transition and a time of growth. It’s a time for me to pull back and reflect on what really matters.

The longer I took to get back to blogging, the harder it became to find the energy, drive, and the resolve to get back into it. It was the same with my fitness routine–I had stopped working out and it was showing. So this morning, I got myself off my duff and marched to the gym. Action is the first step. Always. No matter how small of a step it is, it’s a step in a forward direction. That’s why I’m finally pounding out this blog post–because I needed to take some action in the right direction. So I’m throwing my thoughts out in random fashion– and this could very well turn out to be one of the most unpolished blog posts ever.

But still, “relentless forward motion” as my friend Adam Fitzgerald always tells me.  He should know–he does ultramarathons.

Whenever I’m in a major slump, it’s all too easy to pull away from people as well. It’s a slippery slope–of getting into the old bad habits of negative thinking and letting the good stuff slide. So today, I thought about some of the people who have touched my life and I haven’t heard from them in a while. I spotted Lorelle Van Fossen in my chat list and fired off a greeting. We ended up having a wonderful chat–what a great way to launch out of a slump! If you haven’t met Lorelle, she’s the WordPress Blogging Queen. If you’re an author, take note of her blog post on WordPress for Writers.

On Twitter, I came across an article by Tony Robbins, Career Curveballs. This little piece caught my eye: “I think part of what has guided me is the belief that life is not happening to us, but rather it’s always happening for us. It’s our job to find the perfection in it all. Even in our darkest times we are able to find the seed of our future greatness if we look. Everything happens for a reason. Yes, even problems are gifts. Perhaps God’s delays are not God’s denials.”

So this slump I’m in, I’m going to see it as a mere delay, the “downtime” that defines the happier, smoother moments of life. It’s the space in life that makes the joyful times even more joyful. I have to continue to trust the passion deep within me and know that it will guide me through the days ahead. Like Wayne Dyer says, “It’s the space between notes that makes the music. You must take the time to become silent each day and enter that rapturous space between your thoughts.” 

 

wayne dyer quote

 

 

 

 

my own journey with a painful recovery from ACL surgery.

KrafTC_SnowTraining

Recently, my barefooting buddy and Tumble Turn Coach, Bob Kraft shared his own journey of pain relief using Tommie Copper products:

 I bought my FIRST Tommy Copper Sleeve after I injured my knee during an early 2013 barefoot waterski run. I could barely walk. No surgery required but 12 weeks of physical therapy was recommended.  After two weeks of therapy my knee was a better but I still wasn’t back on the water for fear of re-injuring the knee again. My friend Karen suggested Tommie Copper so I ordered it online and got it in no time. I swear I could feel a difference almost immediately but I figured once I worked out the pain would return. To my surprise, I still had discomfort but I wouldn’t call it pain. The sleeve gave me the confidence and comfort to workout AND get back on the water. Within 2 weeks I shed the sleeve and now I wear it only on occasion.  On one of my final barefoot runs of last season, I got a little careless and caught my arm in the rope handle during a fall. I thought I might lose my arm from the elbow down - fortunately I was told NO serious damage. BUT it hurt like H#!! just to hold a drink in my hand (we can’t have THAT!).  So I immediately ordered a Tommie Copper Elbow sleeve. I have had virtually no problems this off-season and I can’t wait to get back on the water this Spring! Thank you Tommie Copper!!

KraftTC1

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More Pain Relief from Tommie Copper

Ever since the Tommie Copper infomercial hit the air, I’ve been crossing paths with others who are experiencing aches, pains, and injuries and finding relief from Tommie Copper products. I always love hearing those stories of pain relief because I remember all too well my own journey with a painful recovery from ACL surgery.

KrafTC_SnowTraining

Recently, my barefooting buddy and Tumble Turn Coach, Bob Kraft shared his own journey of pain relief using Tommie Copper products:

 I bought my FIRST Tommy Copper Sleeve after I injured my knee during an early 2013 barefoot waterski run. I could barely walk. No surgery required but 12 weeks of physical therapy was recommended.  After two weeks of therapy my knee was a better but I still wasn’t back on the water for fear of re-injuring the knee again. My friend Karen suggested Tommie Copper so I ordered it online and got it in no time. I swear I could feel a difference almost immediately but I figured once I worked out the pain would return. To my surprise, I still had discomfort but I wouldn’t call it pain. The sleeve gave me the confidence and comfort to workout AND get back on the water. Within 2 weeks I shed the sleeve and now I wear it only on occasion.  On one of my final barefoot runs of last season, I got a little careless and caught my arm in the rope handle during a fall. I thought I might lose my arm from the elbow down – fortunately I was told NO serious damage. BUT it hurt like H#!! just to hold a drink in my hand (we can’t have THAT!).  So I immediately ordered a Tommie Copper Elbow sleeve. I have had virtually no problems this off-season and I can’t wait to get back on the water this Spring! Thank you Tommie Copper!!

KraftTC1

There were a few bright moments of enthused writing, especially the story from NFL player Derrick Coleman's mom and my article on Banana George for WaterSki magazine. I also created a writing journal inspired by my favorite quotes: In Pursuit of Passion.

Yesterday, I arrived in Florida with my mom, sister and niece to spend a week at the beach. We were pretty tired when we finally settled in. I decided to take a quick walk on the beach before the sun went down. The shift in energy was measurable. The moment I placed my feet on the sand I could feel the heaviness of winter escape me.

Sometimes you just need to get away.

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Sometimes You Just Need To Get Away

This winter was getting to me. While I enjoyed the glistening white of freshly-fallen snow on most days, the cold was finding its way deep into my bones.

I was struggling to write each day. The flow had stopped. I was way out of “the zone.” Despite having three books to create, I couldn’t find the words nor the enthusiasm to bring them to life. The winter blues had arrived and I was just slogging through the days waiting for the change of seasons.

There were a few bright moments of enthused writing, especially the story from NFL player Derrick Coleman’s mom and my article on Banana George for WaterSki magazine. I also created a writing journal inspired by my favorite quotes: In Pursuit of Passion.

Yesterday, I arrived in Florida with my mom, sister and niece to spend a week at the beach. We were pretty tired when we finally settled in. I decided to take a quick walk on the beach before the sun went down. The shift in energy was measurable. The moment I placed my feet on the sand I could feel the heaviness of winter escape me.

Sometimes you just need to get away.

20140216-093203.jpg

For most of my life, the phone was my enemy.  Even though I grew up hard of hearing, my brain couldn't interpret sound into comprehensible English over the phone. My dad tried for years to get me to practice by calling him at work, but all I heard was a bunch of sounds that made no sense.  Every once in a while, I'd get lucky and understand a phrase or two. We came up with a system where I'd ask him questions and he'd respond with a "No, no." or a "Yes."

As a teenager, my dad handled all the calls coming in, including the ones from guys.  You can just imagine how fun it was to deal with that.  "Yeah, Dad, tell John I'll go ice skating with him. What time is he picking me up?"

When I first became deaf after a fall while barefooting as a teen, I had no idea at the time it was going to turn out to be a blessing. After a few months of struggling in my classes at Northern Illinois University, I had an epiphany one morning: I could continue to be miserable about being deaf, or I could change my attitude and become the best possible deaf person I could be.  I chose the latter and began to learn American Sign Language.

Little did I know, that decision would lead me to be able to access the phone in a whole new way.  In fact, most days, I'm on the phone interviewing someone for articles or an upcoming book. '

So, how does a deaf person use the phone?

For me, it requires a sign language interpreter on a videophone. I simply dial the person I want to call and the interpreter appears on the screen.  I use my voice to talk on the phone and an interpreter signs everything the other person says.  I use ZVRS for this service.  Keith St. Onge (2x World Barefoot Champion) and I spent two and half years on the phone while writing his book, Gliding Soles, Lessons from a Life on Water.   When we first started working together, Keith and I didn't know each other at all.  We spent hours and hours on the phone crafting his life story with interpreters switching places to keep the conversation flowing.

The ZVRS team came to the World Barefoot Center in Florida to capture how a deaf mom and a World Champ wrote a book together:

 

 

 

 

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If You’re Deaf, How Can You Use the Phone?

kso putz zvrs

 

“If you’re deaf, how can you use the phone?”

For most of my life, the phone was my enemy.  Even though I grew up hard of hearing, my brain couldn’t interpret sound into comprehensible English over the phone. My dad tried for years to get me to practice by calling him at work, but all I heard was a bunch of sounds that made no sense.  Every once in a while, I’d get lucky and understand a phrase or two. We came up with a system where I’d ask him questions and he’d respond with a “No, no.” or a “Yes.”

As a teenager, my dad handled all the calls coming in, including the ones from guys.  You can just imagine how fun it was to deal with that.  “Yeah, Dad, tell John I’ll go ice skating with him. What time is he picking me up?”

When I first became deaf after a fall while barefooting as a teen, I had no idea at the time it was going to turn out to be a blessing. After a few months of struggling in my classes at Northern Illinois University, I had an epiphany one morning: I could continue to be miserable about being deaf, or I could change my attitude and become the best possible deaf person I could be.  I chose the latter and began to learn American Sign Language.

Little did I know, that decision would lead me to be able to access the phone in a whole new way.  In fact, most days, I’m on the phone interviewing someone for articles or an upcoming book. ‘

So, how does a deaf person use the phone?

For me, it requires a sign language interpreter on a videophone. I simply dial the person I want to call and the interpreter appears on the screen.  I use my voice to talk on the phone and an interpreter signs everything the other person says.  I use ZVRS for this service.  Keith St. Onge (2x World Barefoot Champion) and I spent two and half years on the phone while writing his book, Gliding Soles, Lessons from a Life on Water.   When we first started working together, Keith and I didn’t know each other at all.  We spent hours and hours on the phone crafting his life story with interpreters switching places to keep the conversation flowing.

The ZVRS team came to the World Barefoot Center in Florida to capture how a deaf mom and a World Champ wrote a book together: