Tammy Helfrich

Life begins right where you are.

LifeChangers – Barefoot and Free



It’s a series about people like you and me, who decided to do something different.

They decided to change their life, or the lives of others around them.

They are inspiring.

They are making an impact right where they are.

They are passionate.

They are full of life.

And they are willing to share their stories.

I am excited to introduce you to Karen Putz. Her story is so amazing, and her never quit attitude is contagious.  Karen is a speaker, writer, barefoot waterskier and mom. You can check out her website or follow her on Twitter. Before you read our interview, check out this amazing video of her story.



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


Tammy: What was your biggest challenge before starting to ski again?


Karen: My biggest challenge: I was overweight, out-of-shape and a little bit anxious about the possibility of losing the last bit of hearing I had left should I take another hard fall.  Plus, I didn’t relish the idea of getting into a lake where alligators reside!


Tammy:  How has your life changed by continuing to do what you love?


Karen: My life has done a complete 180. I have met so many wonderful, amazing people as a result of unwrapping my passion again. There’s a quote by Joseph Campbell that explains this perfectly:

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”


Let me give you an example of this. Two years ago, I took the Passion Test (www.tinyurl.com/urpassion) and my number one passion was to be able to barefoot water ski all year around. At first, I wondered how in the world that was going to happen as the lakes in Chicago are frozen during the winter. But by writing down my dream and putting that vision in my mind, little by little, it began to come true. People popped up into my life and offered to pull me. Opportunities and funding came up from several sources. As a result, I ended up barefooting 11 months out of the entire year!


Tammy: What would you say to someone who is stuck in ordinary,and doesn’t think their dream matters?


Karen: It is so easy to become complacent with life and get wrapped up in the day-to-day living. So many of us have bought into the “American dream” — a dream that might not really be “our” dream–so we forget what brings us joy or our dreams become buried in mediocrity. (Tweet that!)

When you get into a place where you feel “stuck,” that’s a sign to take some time and rethink the path you’re on and come up with new visions, new goals. Read some new books, learn new skills, surround yourself with people who you can learn from or those who can mentor you. You were born with unique gifts, talents and abilities– there is no one else in the world who is just like you. So dig down deep and unwrap the passion you have within you– I promise you, it is there. The result is a life filled with joy!


Tammy: What are you currently working on?


Karen: I’m currently working on my fifth book and I have several more in the works. I love being an entrepreneur and creating my own income. I also work for a non-profit, Hands & Voices (www.handsandvoices.org)– an organization which I’m fiercely passionate about.  Thanks to several sponsors, I am able to train at the World Barefoot Center and indulge in barefoot water skiing on a year-round basis.



Thank you, Karen, for spending some time with us. Your story is amazing and one that inspires me.


What are you passionate about? Share in the comments.




  1. Awesome! I am passionate about writing. :)

  2. Inspiring, Karen!! You will become an expert in backwards barefoot waterskiing in no time. I am still passionate about helping people with their financial planning.

  3. If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. Benjamin Franklin

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