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.
For more information about Karen Putz and Unwrapping Your Passion, visit the author’s website.