Karen's Blog

What is courage? It is not the absence of fear. A courageous person is not a person who is not afraid.

Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

So many times in our lives we succumb to not acting because we are afraid. We are afraid to go back to school because it’s been so long. We are afraid to exhibit our art, because what if it’s not good. We are afraid to speak up, because what if we are wrong?

I spent a lot of years not speaking up, not going to school, not putting myself out there. Growing up, I hid behind excess weight, big blue overalls and a farmer cap. I wore no makeup, and didn’t really go after what I wanted. My father was a constant source of “can’t.” He was so afraid of taking chances that he missed opportunities to find happiness in himself and in his family.

There came a point in my twenties when I couldn’t hide anymore. I saw that it was fear that kept my dad from trying new things, putting himself out there, being his true self.

I knew then that I needed a change. I was tired of being held back, down and away from who I really thought I was. I took off the farmer cap and overalls. I worked out everyday and changed my diet. I allowed myself to ask who I really was, and then project that image out into the world. I worked hard for it and was named Mrs. Minnesota International 1991. It was a milestone in my life. It taught me that goals, no matter how foolish they sometimes seem at the onset, are, with hard work and persistence, attainable.

About this time, I grew restless. I wanted a career of my own. I wanted to put my natural talents to good use.

It was terrifying to go to auction school. My father told me women didn’t do that. He said I’d never make it. The history of auctioneers is written by men. The culture of the farm auction is predominantly male. But still it called to me. It was something I wanted. It was something I knew that, given the chance, I could succeed at.

Right before my first event I shook so hard I thought I’d never be able to perform. What if I screwed up? Did I really know what I was doing? I went into the restroom and threw up. But you know what? I went out there and did that auction anyway.

Again and again I have hit what seemed like roadblocks. When I first got into auctions, there was no way to make a real living at it. You really only made enough to cover your dry cleaning. No one charged for their services, especially not for charity events.

But why not?

I started my business then, raising more money for worthwhile causes than anyone else out there. I was helping people. And my life took on a new path. And since no one did the things I was now doing, I was blazing it myself.
Even if you have setbacks, throw up at your first gig, are told no over and over, you can still get there if you continue to work at it, if you continue to see yourself succeeding.

I am living proof that we can overcome our obstacles and arrive at our goal. Feel the fear, now do it anyway!