Karen Putz aka @DeafMom on Putting Your Feet Back in the Water – Episode 35

September 16, 2013

Today’s episode is crazy special to Phil and me. We wanted to accommodate our good friend Karen Putz, aka @DeafMom on Twitter, by allowing her to opt-out of a Google Hangout and meet with us via phone conference instead so we could accommodate her needs. Karen said, “I want to see your faces!” So, despite the tricky task of coordinating the three of us and an American Sign Language interpreter, we made it happen with a little bit of technological hacking and a lot of creativity.

We managed to have a smooth conversation and Karen’s American Sign Language interpreter was absolutely amazing. Phil and I talk fast and it didn’t faze the interpreter one bit. Fear? It ain’t got nothin’ on our friend Karen. You’ll witness her bravery in today’s episode where she takes us through her defining shut up moment of losing her hearing while barefoot waterskiing as a teenager and how she returned to the extreme sport over 20 years later now as a competitive barefooter.


Watch the show (uncensored & unedited)
Listen to the show (coming soon)

Share Some Shut Up Love –> I have two choices. Continue to cry, grieve and struggle. Or become the best possible deaf person I could be. @DeafMom #shutupshow (click to tweet)

Fun Facts:

  • Karen is a competitive barefoot waterskiier, speaker, author, and passions coach
  • She is a certified Passion Test Facilitator and 48 Days Coach
  • Karen is a board member and Director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infusion at Hands & Voices
  • Her story and writing has been featured in various places including espnW, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Chicago Tribune,  Chicago Now, and O Magazine

Defining Shut Up Moment:

I had what you call a SHUT UP moment. It was about a year into the barefooting when a friend of mine suggested I start crossing the wake, which you know that was the thing that made me deaf. First I was very hesitant, I was like “No, I don’t think I’m ready to do that.” But the next morning, it was one of those “what if I don’t face it, I will never be able to move on in this sport.” And so I did. It was scary, but a very liberating moment.

Shut Up Tips:

I have two choices. Continue to cry, continue to grieve, continue to struggle. Or, I could become the best possible deaf person that I could be. – Karen

So I thought okay, here’s this woman who started barefooting at 53. Now she’s 66 years old, a little bit heavy, and there she is barefoot water skiing. So now you have no excuse. There was no excuse for me not to return to the sport that I was so passionate about when I was a teenager. – Karen

One of the things I work with people on, who have had things happen to them, I help them to learn how to find the gift in it to learn to embrace the journey. Because once you do that, life starts changing. All of a sudden, what happens to you becomes a part of your journey instead of looking at something like it’s a failure or a barrier. You turn it around and you use it in your favor and it becomes very much a part of your life. – Karen

Once we face what’s wrong, for lack of a better term, we can focus on what’s right. But if we ignore it, we can just be held hostage by it. – Phil

Here I was sitting in the boat feeling like a real outcast. You know, I’m heavy, I’m overweight, I’m deaf. And I’m trying to get back on the water. But I tell you, the moment I put my feet back on the water, I literally felt like a teenager again. And this is why I encourage people: face your fears. Just do one thing that scares the holy crap out of you. Because when you do, you’re gonna get on the other side of that fear. And when you get to that point it’s an absolutely amazing place to be. – Karen

Karen Recommends: 

Karen blogs at Deaf Mom Shares Her World

Find Karen:

Visit Karen’s website at KarenPutz.com

Tweet with Karen at @DeafMom