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Create a Life You Love



Imagine waking up each morning excited to start the day because you know it will be filled with joy, fun, and happiness.

You can absolutely have this kind of life. It’s not a pipe dream, but it will require change.

Think about it; you can change three things:

Your thoughts.

Your attitude.

Your actions.

Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, wrote about this in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which the Library of Congress lists among the Ten Most Influential Books. Victor, a psychiatrist, spent three years at the Auchwitz Concentration Camp. He knew he could not change his circumstances, but he was completely free to determine what thoughts he would dwell on, what attitude he could choose to have, and what actions and responses he could put forth.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

You have it within you to create a passionate life that you truly love.
What I Learned from Choosing Passion

Not too long ago I spent the evening in the company of guys who are crazy passionate about the sport of barefoot water skiing. As we watched videos of last year’s barefooting runs, I was thinking how much my life changed since I rediscovered my passion.
Seven years ago, I didn’t know any of the barefooters I know today. An “Old Lady”, Judy Myers, inspired me to step back into a sport I had long ago abandoned. Her simple invitation started me on a wonderful journey and many lessons on the importance of following your passion. 
Here’s what I learned: 
When you choose in favor of your passions, you will meet many people who will teach you in every way. The masters will cut your learning curve in half–in less time than if you tried to journey alone. A community will form around your passion and the connections will multiply. Your tribe will push you and stretch you in different ways, both by keeping you safe and yet, knocking you out of the comfort zone so that you grow. 
Passion will drive you. It will carry you through tough times. You’ll discover there is far more you can do than you ever originally imagined when you first started. 
Doing what you love to do will bring you joy, laughter, and tears –and it will be so, so worth it. 
So my advice for you is this: step into your passion. Choose in the direction of joy. Your life will change in incredible ways.

 

 

Karen Putz Barefooting on Growing Bolder TV

Bill Shafer and cameraman, Jason Morrow from Growing Bolder TV did a great job capturing the story of how I met Judy Myers and Keith St. Onge at the World Barefoot Center.  You can see my very first, sort-of-official backward barefoot start (with no shoes!)– but don’t blink, or you’ll miss me keeling right over two seconds later.

Find more inspiring video, audio, and images at Growing Bolder.

Filming at the World Barefoot Center

Karen Putz on Growing Bolder

I first discovered the Growing Bolder website while doing some research on Banana George for a book that I'm working on.  From the first moment I set eyes on the site, I was intrigued by the stories of people living bold, exciting lives.  Growing Bolder is about folks who break the boundaries of ageism, and it's reflected in their motto:  "It's not about age, it's about attitude."  Growing Bolder reminds us that we don't have to settle for ho-hum lives as we get older-- we can break the stereotypes and reinvent ourselves along the way.

After interviewing me and Judy-- Bill and Jason joined us in the boat with Keith St. Onge.  "Watch me fall in front of the camera," I dryly remarked to Judy as we walked toward the dock.  Sure enough, I went tumbling in the water on the first deep water start.   There's a lesson right there-- don't go entertaining negative thoughts or you'll put them right into action.

"Watch what she does on water," I told Bill, as Judy got ready to do some barefooting.  "You won't believe she's 68!"   It was amusing to watch Bill's mouth fall open as Judy did one foots, toe holds, tumble turns and backwards.   When it was my turn, I shakily lifted my foot for a short one-foot ride and then did some backwards barefooting on shoes.  I ditched the shoes to try a backwards start on my feet and made it up for a very brief ride before falling over.  Judy claims it is an official "you got up and rode it" start, but I'll have to wait to see the evidence on the Growing Bolder show.

Growing Bolder is broadcast on over 250 PBS stations.  To check if it will be shown in your area:  Growing Bolder TV by Zip Code.  If you don't see your local station listed, you can contact your station and ask them to add the show to their line up.

"I feel like I've known you for fifteen years," Bill said as he hugged me goodbye.  "Except you're not that old!" he grinned.

Karen, Bill and Keith

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Karen and Judy’s Story: Growing Bolder on PBS

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Shafer from the TV show, Growing Bolder, which is broadcast on PBS stations nationwide.  Bill, and cameraman, Jason Morrow, were on hand at the World Barefoot Center to capture the story of how I met Judy “The Old Lady” Myers and went back to barefoot water skiing after becoming deaf from a barefooting fall as a teen.   Bill is the Executive Vice President of Growing Bolder Media and was a news anchor for WESH Channel 2 for 25 years.  From the moment I met Bill, I was instantly comfortable with him and it was easy to see why he is considered one of America’s best storytellers– within minutes, he was entertaining us with stories of people he interviewed over the years!

I first discovered the Growing Bolder website while doing some research on Banana George for a book that I’m working on.  From the first moment I set eyes on the site, I was intrigued by the stories of people living bold, exciting lives.  Growing Bolder is about folks who break the boundaries of ageism, and it’s reflected in their motto:  “It’s not about age, it’s about attitude.”  Growing Bolder reminds us that we don’t have to settle for ho-hum lives as we get older– we can break the stereotypes and reinvent ourselves along the way.

After interviewing me and Judy– Bill and Jason joined us in the boat with Keith St. Onge.  “Watch me fall in front of the camera,” I dryly remarked to Judy as we walked toward the dock.  Sure enough, I went tumbling in the water on the first deep water start.   There’s a lesson right there– don’t go entertaining negative thoughts or you’ll put them right into action.

“Watch what she does on water,” I told Bill, as Judy got ready to do some barefooting.  “You won’t believe she’s 68!”   It was amusing to watch Bill’s mouth fall open as Judy did one foots, toe holds, tumble turns and backwards.   When it was my turn, I shakily lifted my foot for a short one-foot ride and then did some backwards barefooting on shoes.  I ditched the shoes to try a backwards start on my feet and made it up for a very brief ride before falling over.  Judy claims it is an official “you got up and rode it” start, but I’ll have to wait to see the evidence on the Growing Bolder show.

Growing Bolder is broadcast on over 250 PBS stations.  To check if it will be shown in your area:  Growing Bolder TV by Zip Code.  If you don’t see your local station listed, you can contact your station and ask them to add the show to their line up.

“I feel like I’ve known you for fifteen years,” Bill said as he hugged me goodbye.  “Except you’re not that old!” he grinned.

Karen, Bill and Keith

Karen Rediscovered Her Passion

The story was posted earlier in the week and was featured on the front of the AOL website several times.   Emails, tweets and Facebook messages have been coming in, mostly with people expressing shock at the before picture.  At a recent ZVRS presentation, a senior citizen came up to me and said, "Wow, you lost weight!  That's much better!  You were so fat before!"  Gotta love those seniors, they tell it like it is, in colorful sign language.

My oldest son even did a double-take at the photo of me.  "Mom, I didn't realize you were that... big," he said.  He glanced at me and then came over and gave me a hug. 

Debra Poneman, the gal behind the "Yes to Success" seminars, said, "I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the photo of you at 220 on the That’s Fit article."  

Well, Debra, you and me, both.  I guess that's why I avoided the scale and the mirror for a long, long time.

I still have a ways to go to get rid of the rest of the pounds.  It's a work in progress.  During the last couple of weeks, I have been going to Bikram Yoga.  Most days, I actually enjoy the challenge of getting through 90 minutes of poses in a hot, hot, hot room.   Then there are other days when I want to run screaming out of the room into a tub of ice.

The most amusing part of the whole losing weight saga has been the comments left on the That's Fit story.  Here's one:

I am really happy for her and her weight loss. But somehow I find myself wondering when I read this article and many magazine articles where people are said to "finally buy a size 6 jean" at 168 lbs??? I bobble between 158-162 and I am in a 12 comfortably and can still squeeze in my 10's on a good day. I might get one leg in a 6. Exactly what kind of jeans are these people buying??

I have two pairs of size six jeans, one from St. John's Bay and the other from Target.  At 168 pounds, people are scratching their heads trying to figure out how that could possibly be true.  I wonder the same thing myself at times, because I weigh exactly the same as I did back in November when the barefooting photo was taken, yet have gone down two sizes since then.  But then again, jeans vary in sizes like crazy.  I can't get into a size six in jeans from Eddie Bauer. 

So to give you an idea of my jeans one year ago and my jeans today, take a look:

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A Size Six? You Gotta Be Kidding

Over on AOL That’s Fit, I shared my story of losing weight and taking up barefoot water skiing again.   Here’s the link:

Karen Rediscovered Her Passion

The story was posted earlier in the week and was featured on the front of the AOL website several times.   Emails, tweets and Facebook messages have been coming in, mostly with people expressing shock at the before picture.  At a recent ZVRS presentation, a senior citizen came up to me and said, “Wow, you lost weight!  That’s much better!  You were so fat before!”  Gotta love those seniors, they tell it like it is, in colorful sign language.

My oldest son even did a double-take at the photo of me.  “Mom, I didn’t realize you were that… big,” he said.  He glanced at me and then came over and gave me a hug. 

Debra Poneman, the gal behind the “Yes to Success” seminars, said, “I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the photo of you at 220 on the That’s Fit article.”  

Well, Debra, you and me, both.  I guess that’s why I avoided the scale and the mirror for a long, long time.

I still have a ways to go to get rid of the rest of the pounds.  It’s a work in progress.  During the last couple of weeks, I have been going to Bikram Yoga.  Most days, I actually enjoy the challenge of getting through 90 minutes of poses in a hot, hot, hot room.   Then there are other days when I want to run screaming out of the room into a tub of ice.

The most amusing part of the whole losing weight saga has been the comments left on the That’s Fit story.  Here’s one:

I am really happy for her and her weight loss. But somehow I find myself wondering when I read this article and many magazine articles where people are said to “finally buy a size 6 jean” at 168 lbs??? I bobble between 158-162 and I am in a 12 comfortably and can still squeeze in my 10’s on a good day. I might get one leg in a 6. Exactly what kind of jeans are these people buying??

I have two pairs of size six jeans, one from St. John’s Bay and the other from Target.  At 168 pounds, people are scratching their heads trying to figure out how that could possibly be true.  I wonder the same thing myself at times, because I weigh exactly the same as I did back in November when the barefooting photo was taken, yet have gone down two sizes since then.  But then again, jeans vary in sizes like crazy.  I can’t get into a size six in jeans from Eddie Bauer. 

So to give you an idea of my jeans one year ago and my jeans today, take a look:

TribLocal and the Chicago Now blog since fall of 2010. It has been fun seeing my stuff in print and online.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to interview Kristi McNaron and Laura Ball from The Dave Ramsey Show about their weight loss success. This is a wonderful, inspiring story of friendship:

Co-Workers Lose 150 Pounds Together

To read the rest of my Chicago Now posts:

Barefoot in the Burbs by Karen Putz

From the TribLocal:

The Importance of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Role Models

To read the rest of my TribLocal Articles:

TribLocal by Karen Putz

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Chicago Tribune TribLocal and Chicago Now Posts

I’ve been writing for the Chicago Tribune TribLocal and the Chicago Now blog since fall of 2010. It has been fun seeing my stuff in print and online.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to interview Kristi McNaron and Laura Ball from The Dave Ramsey Show about their weight loss success. This is a wonderful, inspiring story of friendship:

Co-Workers Lose 150 Pounds Together

To read the rest of my Chicago Now posts:

Barefoot in the Burbs by Karen Putz

From the TribLocal:

The Importance of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Role Models

To read the rest of my TribLocal Articles:

TribLocal by Karen Putz

My heart went out to her.  I got out a sheet of paper and quickly wrote her a note.  To this day, I don't even remember what I wrote, but I wrote a couple of paragraphs about the situation in the classroom and that I thought she was a wonderful teacher.   I handed her the note after class had ended.

At the start of the next class, Mrs. Marshall came up to me and thanked me for the note.   After my Confirmation in May, she sent me a thank you note for the flowers that I gave her.  In the note she shared:

Congratulations on your Confirmation!  My wishes for you are these:

When you are lonely, I wish you love.

When you are down, I wish you joy.

When you are troubled, I wish you peace.

When things are complicated, I wish you simple beauty.

When things are chaotic, I wish you inner peace.

When things look empty, I wish you hope.

And may the gifts of the Holy Spirit help you to have all of these throughout your whole life.  Thank you so much for the lovely flowers.  I wore them with so much pride.  And I was so proud of you.   Sincerely yours,  Mrs. Marshall.

In July of that year, my father received a phone call.   "Mrs. Marshall died on Sunday," he told me when I arrived home from a friend's house.  "She had a severe asthma attack, followed by a stroke.  Her son called to tell you because she  had your letter in her hands when she passed away.  You were her favorite and that letter was special to her."

She was only 56 years old and left behind a husband,  three kids and a grandson.

Which leads me back to that quote above.   "It only takes a second to make someone feel special, but that second may last a lifetime in their mind."

I never forgot Mrs. Marshall, but I had forgotten the note she wrote to me.  I found it a year ago, when it fell out from the back pages of my bible.   I passed the words on to a friend who was going through a difficult time in life.   There's a powerful lesson here-- taking  just a moment to tell someone that they are special can last a lifetime in their mind.   Thanks to Mrs. Marshall, that ripple goes on.

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The “Second” That Lasts a Lifetime

I came across the tweet on Twitter:  “Thought Of The Day:  It only takes a second to make someone feel special, but that second may last a lifetime in their mind.  The tweet was produced by Steve Harper, a guy who specializes in teaching  The Ripple Effect: Maximizing the Power of Relationships for Life & Business (Second Edition).

Funny, I couldn’t get that tweet out of mind.  I copied it and saved it, because I knew a blog post was brewing from it.   I thought back to one of my religion school teachers, Mrs. Marshall.    She taught a class that prepared a group of us for our confirmation at St. Mary’s Church in Dolton.   One Saturday morning, the class was being especially rowdy that day.   The boys were boisterous and creating havoc in the classroom and Mrs. Marshall was quickly losing control.   All of her attempts to settle down the class were falling on deaf ears.   She finally resorted to raising her voice and losing her patience.  Everyone eventually settled down to do some paperwork that she handed out.   Mrs. Marshall sat back in her chair and I saw tears in her eyes.

My heart went out to her.  I got out a sheet of paper and quickly wrote her a note.  To this day, I don’t even remember what I wrote, but I wrote a couple of paragraphs about the situation in the classroom and that I thought she was a wonderful teacher.   I handed her the note after class had ended.

At the start of the next class, Mrs. Marshall came up to me and thanked me for the note.   After my Confirmation in May, she sent me a thank you note for the flowers that I gave her.  In the note she shared:

Congratulations on your Confirmation!  My wishes for you are these:

When you are lonely, I wish you love.

When you are down, I wish you joy.

When you are troubled, I wish you peace.

When things are complicated, I wish you simple beauty.

When things are chaotic, I wish you inner peace.

When things look empty, I wish you hope.

And may the gifts of the Holy Spirit help you to have all of these throughout your whole life.  Thank you so much for the lovely flowers.  I wore them with so much pride.  And I was so proud of you.   Sincerely yours,  Mrs. Marshall.

In July of that year, my father received a phone call.   “Mrs. Marshall died on Sunday,” he told me when I arrived home from a friend’s house.  “She had a severe asthma attack, followed by a stroke.  Her son called to tell you because she  had your letter in her hands when she passed away.  You were her favorite and that letter was special to her.”

She was only 56 years old and left behind a husband,  three kids and a grandson.

Which leads me back to that quote above.   “It only takes a second to make someone feel special, but that second may last a lifetime in their mind.”

I never forgot Mrs. Marshall, but I had forgotten the note she wrote to me.  I found it a year ago, when it fell out from the back pages of my bible.   I passed the words on to a friend who was going through a difficult time in life.   There’s a powerful lesson here– taking  just a moment to tell someone that they are special can last a lifetime in their mind.   Thanks to Mrs. Marshall, that ripple goes on.

Keith St. Onge:
“Here we are at the World Barefoot Center with Judy Myers and Karen Putz. Very unique story we have here today. Today we have Karen Putz, she is deaf. It has been over 25 years since she has barefooted and we got her back on her feet skiing along today! Some more of the unique story is that Karen was introduced back into barefooting by seeing Judy Myers 67 years old skiing. Want to tell us a little bit more about that Karen?”

Karen: "Sure! It was my 44th birthday and I was sitting at my parents' lake, just sitting there thinking that the best years were over with. It had been ten years since I touched the water barefooting. So I'm sitting there thinking, "Gosh, I wish I could barefoot again." I didn't think I could. I mean I was 44 years old and I thought if I barefoot again I might break something.

Keith St. Onge:
“Right… A lot of people think that they might break something and they are to old to barefoot, but that is not the case.”

Karen: So in October of that year, my husband sent me a link to Judy from the Today Show. At first, I didn't open it but when I was cleaning out emails that one popped up. So I clicked on the link and I'm watching Judy and she's barefooting on the water. I'm like, wait a minute! She's 66 years old and she's barefooting on the water. If she's 66, well then, what's my excuse? I'm 44-- I can get back on the water again!

So I contacted Judy and she said, "Come on down to Florida!" So that's exactly what I did two, three weeks ago. On my first try, I got back to barefooting again.

Keith St. Onge: One of the big questions is how we communicate with Karen. We can talk but she can not hear us, Karen can read lips. She reads lips perfectly! As long as Karen is making eye contact it works well.
Karen:
Keith is easy to lipread!

Keith: The unique cool thing here is that Judy Myers 67 the oldest female barefooter in the world still competing . She has been bringing a lot of people down to the ski school, people have seen her Fit to Boom video, Subway commercial, all this type of stuff and things have been really cool. It has been AWESOME!

Karen: If Judy can do it, then ANYONE can do it!

Judy Myers:
“That’s Right! That is exactly right”

More:  The Best Years of Life Are Still Ahead

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Start the Ripple and Inspire Someone Today!

For all those who think they’re “too old” or that the “best years are over with,” this one is for you:

Keith St. Onge:
“Here we are at the World Barefoot Center with Judy Myers and Karen Putz. Very unique story we have here today. Today we have Karen Putz, she is deaf. It has been over 25 years since she has barefooted and we got her back on her feet skiing along today! Some more of the unique story is that Karen was introduced back into barefooting by seeing Judy Myers 67 years old skiing. Want to tell us a little bit more about that Karen?”

Karen: “Sure! It was my 44th birthday and I was sitting at my parents’ lake, just sitting there thinking that the best years were over with. It had been ten years since I touched the water barefooting. So I’m sitting there thinking, “Gosh, I wish I could barefoot again.” I didn’t think I could. I mean I was 44 years old and I thought if I barefoot again I might break something.

Keith St. Onge:
“Right… A lot of people think that they might break something and they are to old to barefoot, but that is not the case.”

Karen: So in October of that year, my husband sent me a link to Judy from the Today Show. At first, I didn’t open it but when I was cleaning out emails that one popped up. So I clicked on the link and I’m watching Judy and she’s barefooting on the water. I’m like, wait a minute! She’s 66 years old and she’s barefooting on the water. If she’s 66, well then, what’s my excuse? I’m 44– I can get back on the water again!

So I contacted Judy and she said, “Come on down to Florida!” So that’s exactly what I did two, three weeks ago. On my first try, I got back to barefooting again.

Keith St. Onge: One of the big questions is how we communicate with Karen. We can talk but she can not hear us, Karen can read lips. She reads lips perfectly! As long as Karen is making eye contact it works well.
Karen:
Keith is easy to lipread!

Keith: The unique cool thing here is that Judy Myers 67 the oldest female barefooter in the world still competing . She has been bringing a lot of people down to the ski school, people have seen her Fit to Boom video, Subway commercial, all this type of stuff and things have been really cool. It has been AWESOME!

Karen: If Judy can do it, then ANYONE can do it!

Judy Myers:
“That’s Right! That is exactly right”

More:  The Best Years of Life Are Still Ahead

Wordless Wednesday–A Special Wall in my Office

I had these four plaques scattered in various spots around the house–one was in a nightstand drawer, two were in boxes and one was in an office drawer.   One day last year, I gathered them all together and hung them above the key holder in my office.   The small one on the upper left was a gift from my Mom during my first year of college.  It says, “Hang on, Friday’s coming!”  My Mom sent it after one particularly hard week when I was really homesick and having a difficult time understanding the teachers in class.

The one on the upper right was given to me by my Aunt Gertie. It says, “Lovely flowers are smiles from God.” Aunt Gertie, my Mom’s sister, was profoundly deaf and she was battling cancer.  She didn’t have much time left.  I was ten at the time, sitting on the edge of her bed and I remember her smiling.  There’s a picture of Aunt Gertie somewhere in one of my Mom’s albums; my sister Jeanie is holding a huge toy comb over her bald head and everyone is laughing.  So when I see flowers, I think of Aunt Gertie.  

The large one on the lower left was simply one that I found at either a garage sale or a store.  It says, “The nicest days are full of love.”  I had that one and Aunt Gertie’s plaque hanging on my bedroom wall for many years.

The last one on the lower right was given to me by my first itinerant teacher, Mrs. Rellis.  Mrs. Rellis was a special teacher–she was the first teacher to sit me down and challenge me not to let my hearing loss hold me back.  It says:

The grand essentials to happiness in this life are

something to do,

something to love, and

something to hope for.

Those four plaques are my source of inspiration every time I hang up a key.  Do you have a source of inspiration that is special to you?  Tell me about yours in the comments below.

This photo is a part of Wordless Wednesday, even though I used a bunch of words to describe it.

Dave Freeman co-authored the book, 100 Things to Do Before You Die with Neil Teplica.  In the book, the two of them listed exciting travel events; and together, they had done about half of them. 

But yesterday, I wasn't just reading an article-- I was reading his obituary.  Dave had slipped and hit his head on a glass ledge in his home.  He was only 47 years old.

The New York Daily News reported that Freeman "really did live a full life."

Freeman had run with the bulls in Spain. He'd hung his boots in an ice hotel in Finland. He stood beside the 400 stainless steel poles that make up the Lightning Field in New Mexico. And he made sure not to miss India's Maha Kumbh Mela in 2001, a Hindu pilgrimage that happens only once every 12 years.

Considering that the book was written in 1999 and that Freeman completed half of the 100 things-- I would say that he did indeed, lead a pretty full life.

US Magazine has a quote shared by Freeman's father:

According to his father, Freeman was famous for saying, "'We're going to the future. Do you want to come along?' It always made everybody laugh."

How about you?  Are you going to the future?

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Dave Freeman–A Man Halfway to His Goal

Dave Freeman.

Does the name ring a bell?

It didn’t for me.  But yesterday, while reading the Chicago Tribune before dinner, I saw an article titled “Author of Quirky ‘100 Things’ Guide.”

Dave Freeman co-authored the book, 100 Things to Do Before You Die with Neil Teplica.  In the book, the two of them listed exciting travel events; and together, they had done about half of them. 

But yesterday, I wasn’t just reading an article– I was reading his obituary.  Dave had slipped and hit his head on a glass ledge in his home.  He was only 47 years old.

The New York Daily News reported that Freeman “really did live a full life.”

Freeman had run with the bulls in Spain. He’d hung his boots in an ice hotel in Finland. He stood beside the 400 stainless steel poles that make up the Lightning Field in New Mexico. And he made sure not to miss India‘s Maha Kumbh Mela in 2001, a Hindu pilgrimage that happens only once every 12 years.

Considering that the book was written in 1999 and that Freeman completed half of the 100 things– I would say that he did indeed, lead a pretty full life.

US Magazine has a quote shared by Freeman’s father:

According to his father, Freeman was famous for saying, “‘We’re going to the future. Do you want to come along?’ It always made everybody laugh.”

How about you?  Are you going to the future?