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.

50 States for My 50’s: Minnesota

“I’m heading to Minneapolis for work and I’m looking for a pull.”

My friend, Paul Oman, a competitive barefoot water skier, responded quickly to my Facebook request. I was on a quest to barefoot water ski in all 50 states for my 50th decade. Minnesota would be my twelfth state on my 50 States for my 50’s tour.

Paul and I met at my first barefoot tournament up in Wisconsin several years ago.  I was immediately impressed by his performance on the water.  Paul learned to barefoot water ski when he was 40. He shared some of his memories with me:

As a youth, I was fascinated by barefoot skiers at ski shows and dreamed about doing that some day.  When I finally got a boat fast enough to pull me footing, I tried a few ski step offs and took hard falls that made me put that dream on hold. 
Later in life, at the age of 40, I learned about new tools (the barefoot boom) that make learning much easier and found a local ski school that let me try it.  I made a tumble around start on my first try  and was hooked.   Ending that first run wasn’t as pretty.  The instructor told me to let go and I immediately caught a toe and took a hard fall.  The instructor asked “That hurt didn’t it?” When I replied “darn right it did” he said “now I’m going to show you how to stop.” 
I got a boom for my boat and used it often but the boat didn’t go fast enough for me to do very much. I looked into getting a better barefoot boat and heard about local tournaments.  I went to my first tournament just to check out the boat and did my trick run (a single wave) in front of a big crowd.  Everyone had gathered to watch Jon Kretchman, who followed me in the running order.  We were both in classes of our own – me as a raw novice and he as a top pro. 
I continued going to tournaments to watch all the skiing and get tips and enjoy hanging around with all the great skiers.  I’ve always been impressed with how helpful other skiers are – even with their competitors.


At 64 years of age, Paul tackles the sport like a 20-year-old. He continually learns new things and pushes himself to reach new levels of skill. He is one of the few seniors who jump competitively in tournaments.

“I started taking lessons from pros to ensure I wouldn’t develop bad habits,” Paul said.  “Ron Scarpa, the four-time World Barefoot Champion, talked me into trying jumping.  I thought it was silly, because I didn’t expect to ever jump in a tournament, but I trusted his judgement.  Ron had incredible patience and taught me to jump in very gradual stages–and that ultimately led to setting a national record. My first tournament jump was in 2002.  It was unremarkable except that, until just recently when I set the national Men 6 jump record in 2015, it was the longest jump of my career–maybe it was beginner’s luck?”

The weather was absolutely wonderful when Paul and I stepped outside on a Friday morning and headed down to the dock. There was a light wind, just enough to create a ripple on the water, and it was getting a little rough in the middle of the lake.

“I’ve got a spot where we can always find calm water,” Paul reassured me.

I had not barefooted much over the summer so I was truly out of shape, but I enjoyed the runs. It was just the two of us in the boat, so we took turns driving and barefooting.

Paul decided to go backwards behind the boat. I was a little nervous at first, as I had only driven that kind of pull once before, but Paul was a pro and got up with ease.

Before I left, I gave Paul a copy of Unwrapping Your Passion and he looked at the book with hesitation.

“I don’t really read books,” he said.

“That’s okay, just skim through it and you can give it to someone else,” I said.

A few days later, I was delighted to learn that Paul enjoyed the book!


A special thank you to Phonak for making it possible to barefoot water ski around the country!

The One Question to Guide You

There’s one simple question that will provide the answers you need to many of life’s questions: 

“How do you want to live?”

We only have a short amount of time on the planet, yet we gamble through each day like we’re going to be around forever. 

Create a whole new way to live by honoring your answers. 

Do you dread the years ahead of you because you fear growing older? Let this “Old Lady” show you a whole new way to live:

Outside the Wake

Embrace Your Weirdness

Lori Moreno of Ambassadors VIP posted a question:

If you could go back and tell your young self something, what would it be?

I was pondering this question during a 3:45 a.m. ride to the airport.

My response was simple: Stand out. Embrace your weirdness. Share your gifts.

Stand Out

I grew up hard of hearing. Every single day I struggled in school to appear as “normal” as possible. As the only kid with a hearing aid, I measured myself against people with normal hearing and I couldn’t do the things that they could do (group conversations, music, talk in the dark) with ease. 

As a result, I always felt “less than.”

It wasn’t until I became deaf that I learned to step comfortably into my authentic self. I was no longer afraid to show my hearing aids (yes, I added a second one.) 

In fact, they’re now beautiful pieces of art,

Yeah, I wish my younger self knew that place of authenticity that says, “This is who I am.”

There’s a line in the movie, What a Girl Wants, that says:

“Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?”

The worse thing you can do is blend in with everyone else. When you do that, you squelch your own passion. You diminish your unique touch in the world.

The world doesn’t need carbon copies. The world needs you. 

Embrace Your Weirdness

We all have habits, quirks, and unusual stuff that we are passionate about. In a world of mass conformity, this might seem…weird. 

What if, instead of trying to stuff your square (or hexagon) self into a round hole, what if you embraced your weirdness instead? 

When you conform to other people’s expectations or judgments of you, you’re swinging like an untethered sail in the wind. What’s more, a sailboat moves forward against the wind. So tether your weirdness and move forward. 

My ultimate favorite shoes are Vibram Five Fingers. I wear them everyday. One morning I showed up at a breakfast meeting with a friend who is a business coach. The shoes clearly made her uncomfortable. 

“Never wear those in public with me again,” she said. 

At first, I felt ashamed. I silently berated myself for not appearing more businesslike in public. 

Fortunately for me, the feeling didn’t last long. Those weird shoes have climbed to a peak in Colorado, perched the edge of a cliff in Nebraska, walked through a waterfall in Oregon, water skied on the Fox River, and endured a triathlon in Naperville. 

Weird has brought me a wonderful life. 

Share Your Gifts

I wish my younger self would have recognized the unique talents, skills, and abilities within me. I would have tapped into them right away instead of putting them off for years. 

You are as unique as your fingerprint. That means there’s no one in the whole wide world who can be you. 

So stop hiding your talent. Don’t let fear cloud your growth. If you’ve become dull and stagnant from repetitive routine–shake things up. Dust off your creativity. Approach life with a whole new wonder and a beginner’s mind. Do the stuff that your younger self is screaming for. 

Become a kid again

The Greatest Relationship-Building Tool


dad dying


When my father died, I received a card that changed my life. You see, just a few days before he passed, I posted a picture of our hands clasped together. A friend saw the picture, put it on the front of a card, and sent it to me with heartfelt words of condolences inside.

I received many beautiful cards from friends, but this one had me in tears. No store-bought card could hold a candle to the card that held a precious picture capturing my father’s last days.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

Turns out, she used a revolutionary company that is changing the whole greeting card and gift industry. I immediately became a distributor. (And yes, if you click on that link, it will take you to my distributor page.)

But the real reason I’m sharing this here is to explain how this simple act of sending cards can change your life and lead you to some awesome relationships. Because you see, when you send a card or gift to someone, you’re probably going to brighten up their day– and perhaps even change THEIR life, too. Most of our trips to the mailbox often involve junk mail or bills, so receiving a heartfelt card will bring some awesome energy to someone’s day.


Think back to the last time you INTENDED to send someone a card. Perhaps you wanted to say thank you, or celebrate a special occasion, or reach out in support…but the moment passed and then you just became too dang busy to run to the store, sit down and write, and then drop it off at the post office.

Or maybe you didn’t have any stamps…

Now, imagine this instead:

You’ve met someone new and you want to stay in touch. You’ve got this great selfie you took together. No problem–you whip out your card app on your phone, slap the selfie on the top of the card, write a cool paragraph with heartfelt words (in your own handwriting font, imagine that!!), click on their address, and send the card.

A few days later, this person gives you a call, texts you, or reaches out through Facebook and you’ve connected again.

Yup, you now have the greatest relationship-building app right on your phone!

And you can get it here:  Cards Anywhere



Soulotravel, Travel that Feeds the Soul

Last year, I took a personality test and the results surprised me. 


At first, the letters meant nothing. Despite two college degrees in counseling, I hadn’t paid attention to psychological tests in my training. After reading the description of this personality type, so many parts of my life suddenly clicked into place.

Growing up hard of hearing, I struggled to fit in and be like everyone else with normal hearing. I felt like I was weird. I spent hours at the library alone, devouring books instead of going to parties. Parties were both energizing and exhausting at times. I wanted to be liked by everyone, yet sometimes I was quiet and withdrawn. I always blamed my hearing loss. 

If only I could hear I would be more _____.

I’ve been told I’m too sensitive. “You need to toughen up,” a friend once told me. 

When I saw the explanation of the INFJ results after taking the personality test, everything clicked into place. All of a sudden I understood why I was “weird.”

Only one percent of the population has an INFJ personality. Here’s a blog post that explains more: Secrets of the INFJ Personality Type.

I love people, yet I get my energy from being alone. 

In the last several years, I’ve traveled alone often–speaking at schools, corporations, and conferences. I love travel. I’m so thankful for my husband who completely gets me and is supportive of what I call “Soulotravel.”

Yes, travel revives my soul. I need the mountains, the sun, and water–any type of water I can get. 

Right now I’m in Florida, housesitting for a friend and working on another book. My soul is completely content and I feel my reserves filling up nicely. My head is clear and I’m able to focus on my writing. 

If you love to travel but you keep putting it off because you have no one to go with–wait no more. Plan a trip. Be open to what the universe delivers to you in the process. You will meet people. You will see things you’ve never seen before. You will return with a mind so expanded that you will yearn for more. 

Soulotravel may not be for everyone, but if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and take a trip alone, you may find that you discover a whole new side of you that you’ve never experienced before. 

You Can’t Plan Adventure

I’ve entered a new season on the parenting journey: I’m now a mom of three young adults. This phase has required a shift in my parenting experience, one that requires a new skill set. It requires letting go and stepping back versus the heavy guidance of earlier years. 

And it’s hard. 

I keep wishing I could step back in time, to hold them once again as toddlers and revel in the innocence. 

In this season of parenthood, it takes a lot of coordination, plane tickets, and divine timing to gather us all under one roof. We were fortunate to spend Christmas together this year followed by a vacation in the Caribbean. 

I love to travel. I especially love being in new places that feed my soul, especially with nature. To travel with my family is always the ultimate trip for me. 

This year, we joined a cruise with my son’s girlfriend’s family and their friends. It was a magical blend of different ages, generations, deaf, hearing, and backgrounds. 

Memories are not made of things, they are made of experiences: the way you feel, the people you meet, the knowledge you acquire, and the discoveries that appear on your path.

Before we left, I posted the Instapic below on my Instagram feed.

“You can’t plan adventure,” my daughter said. “Adventure is spontaneous.”

I get what she means. Adventure is often associated with the unknown and unplanned that unfolds in life. 

But without vision and dreams, one blithely goes about the daily routine without much spark, passion, and yes, adventure. 

Adventure requires taking action and there’s some planning that goes into it. This means clarity is required–by beginning with the idea that you will invite adventure into your life and stay open to new opportunities for adventure. 

Some of the best adventures come from spontaneous moments–of embracing an opportunity and choosing to experience it. 

Here’s to an adventurous year! 

Why Passion Matters

“I think I’m having a mid-life crisis,” my friend said. “I need something new, something different.”

My friend has worked the same job since college. He liked his job well enough; he had been doing it so long that he could go through all the motions blindfolded. The job provided well for his family. 

I understood his yearning for something different in life. I saw it in myself six years ago. Life was good, but it had become ho-hum. I was humming along. 

The “something” that was missing was passion. 

Passion is energy. When you are on a passionate path in life, that energy is invigorating. Everyone around you will feel it. 

The yearning that pops up is a sign that you’re longing for something “more” in your life. Unfortunately for many, the longing for more is often confused with material things. Once you acquire the material thing and the newness wears off, you’re still left with the yearning for more. 

What we truly want is something even deeper: joy, bliss, and passion. 

We yearn to do things that matter. To accomplish something epic. To serve others. To make a difference. To leave our mark. To matter. To passionately live life so fully that there is no room for complaint. 

“Impossible,” says another friend. “That’s a pipe dream.”

Is it really? Then perhaps you have to take a different look at your perspectives, your thoughts, and your routines. You can invite passion into your life by recognizing your joy. Recognizing what increases your energy instead of what sucks the marrow out of your soul. 

Passion is the fuel that will push you above and beyond, a coach once told me. 

Passion matters. Passion is the spark that ignites–and it can make the difference between a ho-hum life and a joyful one. 

Today’s Inspiration: Abundance

Whenever I see the word “abundance,” I often find it associated with money.

To me, abundance is joy and bliss rolled together. It’s the reward of a full, contented heart. 

Tap into your joy and bliss. You will be rich beyond any measure. 

The Gift of a Brand New Day

Every morning when you wake up, you’ve been given the gift of a brand new day. 

Begin with gratitude. Thankful thoughts combined with deep breaths will awaken your senses better than coffee. (I’m not a coffee drinker so my husband disagrees with me on this one.)

My daughter and I recently experienced a silent meditation with a group of women. We greeted each other in silence, we sat for 90 minutes together in silence, we left in silence. 

I left my hearing aids in the car for this. Meditation comes easy with this silent advantage–for I’m never distracted by any sound. 

It’s in the stillness we find answers. In this busy, busy world, it’s often hard to slow down and just be. Yet, that’s exactly what is needed when you are in need of answers. 

So today, you’ve got your gift sitting in your hands: a brand new day. 

How will you choose live it?