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 Passion Book

UYP Dan Miller Quote


I’ve got a new book out.

You’ll like this one. It’s about…passion.

How to unwrap your passion and create the life you truly want.

I spent the last several years asking a lot of people about passion. I took all the lessons I learned and put them in this book. It was a lot of FUN to write this one, because when you interview passionate people about the stuff that lights them up, drives them forward, or allows them to savor life–you get all kinds of really cool answers and life lessons.

UYP Dara Torres Quote

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million or your favorite local bookstore (just ask, they can order if they haven’t already!).

Your passion matters.

UYP Joel Boggess Quote

Here’s what my own editor, Tyler Tichelaar says about Unwrapping Your Passion:

In the Foreword to Karen Putz’s new book Unwrapping Your Passion, bestselling authors and self-help gurus Debra Poneman and Janet Attwood, state about Karen, “How amazing is that woman?” I have to agree. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone as passionate as Karen about her own passions as well as helping others discover theirs. In addition, she’s deaf but doesn’t let that get in her way, and one of her biggest passions is barefoot water skiing, a sport she took back up at age forty-four. Now she water skis across the United States year-round, pursuing her passion.

“What’s your passion?” is the question Karen Putz challenges her readers with. She believes we all have a passion, and once we find it, we can enjoy our lives like never before. Sometimes we just need a little inspiration and help in discovering it, which is why Karen has written this book. In fact, she needed a little of that herself when she got back into barefoot water skiing. At forty-four, she thought she was too old until she met a sixty-six-year-old woman who had started barefoot water skiing at age fifty-three. Both women are proof it is never too late to find your passion.

In writing this book, Karen set out to determine how people find their passions and what keeps them passionate. She interviewed 200 people, and she tells many of their stories, revealing their secrets and inspirations. Then she challenges readers with exercises to help discover the passion within themselves.

The various chapters in Unwrapping Your Passion look at different ways to find your passion and also ways to overcome obstacles that present themselves in your pursuit of it. One way Karen strongly advocates for finding your passion lies in the power of meditation. One of the people she mentions in the book, Patti, taught her, “passion doesn’t just have to be the fire in the belly—passion is also the quiet nudging of the heart. We just have to listen.” Karen knows that from experience. It was listening to a quiet voice that caused her to write her first book. She had never written a book before, which was challenge enough, but that quiet voice was telling her to go introduce herself to a water skier she had never met and write his story. It seemed like an impossible situation, but she did it, and now she has several books under her belt.

One obstacle to pursuing one’s passion is fear. Too often we repress what we want because of our fears, whether it’s fear of success, fear people will reject us if we pursue our passion, or fear of physical harm. Karen, herself, dealt with the fear of physical harm. She wanted to barefoot water ski, but she was also deathly afraid of alligators. She even had nightmares about them, which made her not want to venture out on lakes. But she knew if she was going to pursue her passion, she would have to overcome that fear. With the help of a qualified friend, she got up close and personal with an alligator, actually touching it, discovering what beautiful and magnificent creatures alligators are, and then her fear dissolved.

I can’t discuss all the topics Karen covers in this book but others include how to avoid toxic people who will try to suck your passion out of you, and how to deal with stress that will debilitate you from pursuing your passion. She also quotes and interviews many authors who know a lot about passion. One of them, Terry Hadaway, author of Live Your Why, offers great advice when he says that we often have the question all wrong. Instead of asking “What do you want to be?” we should be asking, “How do you want to live?”

Nor is it always easy to be a cheerleader for others when they want to follow their passions. Karen discovered that hard truth when her daughter wanted to drop out of college to pursue an acting career. Karen was terrified for her daughter and tried to convince her to stay in school until her daughter called her on the situation, saying, “How can you tell others to follow their passions when you can’t even let your own daughter do that?” Karen knew her daughter was right. Today, her daughter is on Broadway.

Finally, if you think it’s too late or you don’t think you’re good enough to succeed at what you’re passionate about, take this bit of advice from Karen, “There’s a learning curve when you are doing something that’s totally new to you. Every expert on earth has started out as a beginner. I often tell people, ‘Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s ten-year process.’” I love this advice and would add that in ten years, if you don’t pursue your passion, you won’t get anywhere you want to be, so begin, no matter how small or hard that beginning is.

As someone who has spent his life pursuing his passion for writing, even making decisions some people told him were mistakes, and knowing that it has all turned out well regardless, I guarantee that Unwrapping Your Passion will leave you feeling reinvigorated and passionate about the endless possibilities that lie before you. Karen will help you find your passion, and once you do, the sky’s the limit.


Grab your copy at your local bookstore or online: Unwrapping Your Passion

The Handstand Lesson

Like a lot in life, we often see the end results of success instead of the struggle. 
When my daughter and I came across this piece of rock on a beach in Florida, I wanted to do a handstand on it. 
The first several tries resulted in a bunch of pictures with one foot or nothing. A couple of things were happening:
The rock sloped downhill. I was afraid I would fall forward or backward into more jagged rock. 
I had just started doing handstands a few months ago– more than 30 years after I did my last one. I didn’t trust my ability to do it. 
So my daughter suggested trying the handstands uphill instead. 
It worked. After a few practices, I had the confidence to try it downhill and that’s the picture you see here. 

So in life, if at first you come up to a challenge, change the way you approach it. Try something different. Practice. Gain the skill. Above all, persist.

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.



Are You Too Old to Do What You Love to Do?

“I’m too old.”

In my work as a Passion Mentor, I often hear this excuse as a reason for not living a passionate life. 

I get it.

At the age of 44, I felt like I was too old to enjoy the sport I once was so passionate about as a teen. The day before my 44th birthday, I attempted to barefoot water ski with my oldest son driving the boat. 

I couldn’t do it. 

I’m too old, I thought. 

I was lucky. Back in 2009, I saw 66-year-old Judy Myers barefoot water skiing on the TODAY Show. She completely reframed my mindset. Suddenly I wasn’t too old–I had 22 years left to catch up to her! Thanks to Judy, I got back on the water and found my joy again.

In the last seven years, I’ve been studying this thing we call “passion” and learning from others. I spoke about this at the 140 Conference in Los Angeles: Unwrapping Your Passion at Any Age

Before I went on stage, Howard Rosenman spoke. You might not recognize his name, but you probably have seen the movies he’s produced: Father of the Bride, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Gross Anatomy.

Howard wanted to be a movie producer when he was a young child but he took a detour by going to medical school to become a doctor instead. In the middle of an operation, Howard decided to listen to his calling for the arts. That decision lead to a career in Hollywood. “Making movies and storytelling, that’s my passion,” Howard said.

And passion, Howard says, is something that you love so much that you will go through any obstacles to do it. (You can read more about Howard at my Growing Bolder blog.)

If you find yourself thinking that it’s too late to live a passionate life, I want you to take ten minutes to watch a video that can change your life. In ten short minutes of this captioned video, you’ll learn how you can unwrap YOUR passion at any age: 

No, You’re Not Too Old

Lessons from 25 Years of Marriage

joe and karen

When I first met my husband-to-be, I knew within two months of dating that I wanted to marry him.

It took him a bit longer. He realized it around six months in. We were only 19 and 20 at the time, but we waited five years to tie the knot. We had to get college out of the way first.

In 2015, we took off to California to celebrate our 25th anniversary. As we watched the sun set on the beach, we looked back at the years. How quickly they flew by. There were lots of good years, but some were peppered with “Divorce Moments.”  In fact, there was a year when our kids took bets as to when we would split. It was not a pretty time in our marriage, but going through the rough times has lead me to a different level of love and understanding in our marriage.

After 25 years together, I’ve learned a few things:

Perspective is Everything

In the early years, we actually fought over parking spaces. I kid you not. I would become incredibly irritated at my husband when he circled around and around finding parking spaces. He, in turn, would criticize my parking skills, insisting that I park perfectly in a space, requiring me to back out and pull in again.  Then I read something in a book (I wish I could remember what book it was, but hey, that was quite some years ago) about changing YOUR behavior so that it causes a shift in your marriage. So the next time we went out, I clamped my mouth shut about parking. I took extra care to park the way he liked it. It took several outings before my husband realized we were no longer fighting about parking spaces. He learned to keep quiet about the parking stuff as well.

Be careful what you pour your energy into. Put things in perspective–does the trivial stuff really matter in the bigger picture? If not, learn to let it go.

Our Needs Are Different

My spouse’s needs and my needs are different. We don’t have to do everything together, nor do we have to like the same things. It took me a long time to figure that one out. It took me a long time to respect it.  I used to drag him to events that bored the heck out of him. He used to sit me through movies that bored the heck out of me. Now we’re at this place where we have Yours, Mine, and Ours time. Compromise is the secret sauce that flavors a marriage.

Life Will Get in the Way Unless You Make a Plan

When our third child was born, we were outnumbered. We could no longer juggle things evenly. It was a struggle to get through each day and before we knew it, the week would fly by. The biggest problem? We were putting our marriage on the shelf during those times. You’ve probably heard this over and over: put yourselves on the calendar. Ink in that date night. Because if you don’t, you’ll find life getting in the way and the two of you drifting apart.

Shake up your routine. Do something new together. Do something different. But for crying out loud, carve out that sacred time for just the two of you.

Gratitude, the Divorce Antidote

My spouse drives me completely up the wall when we are late for an event. It’s so, so, so easy for me to fly off the handle and berate him to change. Here’s the thing, you can’t be mad and grateful at the same time. So choose gratitude.

When the two of us went to counseling years ago, the counselor listened to me fire off a list of things that I was disgruntled with in my spouse. She looked me in the eye and asked me what I was grateful for. What was working right? What did I like/love about my spouse? I was focusing so much on what was wrong, that I couldn’t see what was going right. So I thought about what I liked best in my spouse with gratitude and the feelings shifted. What a lesson to learn. Shift the focus to what is good in your marriage. After all, the two of you really liked the heck out of each other in the beginning. Focus with gratitude on what you have together that’s going well in your lives.

karen and joe

Love, Baby, Love

Remember that excited, hot, “oh-m-gosh-I-can’t-take-my-hands-off-of-you” feeling in the beginning? I can remember it, I just can’t recreate it physically after 25 years. BUT, it has been replaced with a different kind of love, one that is just as nice. It’s a love that sustains. It’s the “I’ve married my best friend and I want this to go on ’til the end of our lives” feeling.


This post first appeared on Ricky Martin’s Piccolo Universe.

Want some more lessons? Outside the Wake 

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. 

We Need More Passion in this World


I’m about to wrap up another book about PASSION.

“Passion is over-used,” a friend of mine told me.

Are you kidding me?

When I look around, I see people just going through the motions throughout their day. The routine of stress and mediocrity is etched on the faces of people shopping at the local food store. There’s the usual pattern: the dread of Monday, the perk of aliveness on Wednesday, the celebration of Friday.

And then there’s the weekend: when they truly live it up or kick back and relax.

What if we turned that whole thing into a different paradigm?

What if you woke up each day in gratefulness–beginning with the quiet celebration of breath and the reflection of all that is good.

What if you looked forward to the unfolding of each day and time passed by so fast because you were deep into what you love to do.

What if you were surrounded by people who cheer you on and love you just as you are–yet still push you to be the best you can be.

What if you were vibrating at an energy level so high that others wonder how in the world you can do all that you do.

Yes, that’s what passion will do for you.

When you are lined up with your passion, your purpose, and your quest for serving others–that’s when life becomes bliss. You’re part of something that’s bigger than you, something that stretches you beyond anything you’ve ever imagined, and something that will leave a legacy long after your feet have left this earth.

We need more passion in this world. We need you to wake up with eager anticipation. We need you to share your unique gifts, talents, skills, and abilities with others.

You were not meant to live a ho-hum life. You were meant to to serve, to love, to enjoy, to feel, to imagine, to cry, to celebrate…

You were not meant to walk through this life numb to each day and living for a day in the future.

You were meant to passionately live NOW.

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What Are You Willing to Do to Create the Life You Want?

“I want to write a book.”

“I want to start my own business.”

“I want to be an actor.”

“I want to move to California.”

“I want to retire.”

“I want to…”

What’s on your “Someday List?”

You know the one…the one that has all the things you’re putting off for some day in the future. 

I’m a wonderful procrastinator. My father used to say, “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow.” (Yes, really.) He would say it jokingly, but I took his words to heart. 

I had always wanted to write books from the time that I wrote my first story as a kid. I started writing articles and blog posts for no pay. I wrote for the pure pleasure of creating stories and honing the craft. 

My first paid gig was for an online review site. I earned five figures from that site…over a couple of years. 

I continued to write for several blog sites and occasionally my articles were syndicated in several newspapers. Chicago Tribune offered me a weekly column in the local section, with no pay. I said yes. It was fun to see my articles in print. Later, I became a paid writer. This lead to other paid gigs, like writing for Ricky Martin’s parenting website. 

So this leads to the question, what do you love so much you’d do it for free?  This is one of the clues to your passions. 

Then the second question becomes, what are you willing to do to create the life you want? 

I wanted to write books. 


There’s a line in Billy Joel’s song, James:

“When will you write your masterpiece?”

I finally started writing. I got up at five a.m. and hit the keyboard each morning. I wrote after the kids went to bed. I wrote in between selling stuff for my sales job. 

One book. Then two. Then ten. And still writing the next one. 

There are three things you need to create the life you want:




Get clear on the life you want, commit to what needs to be done, then take action. 

What are you willing to do to create the life you want?