In a career that is yet to grow in this part of the world, this phenomenal woman quit her ‘American dream’ life and moved to Namibia, to launch a lifestyle coaching career, offering life-changing information and tools that help people create their amazing, authentic life, step-by-step.
I did one workshop after another and people came!
Radio 99fm has asked me to be one of their contributing experts on ‘Master Your Destiny’ show
Because of her 20 years of experience in this line of work, “Radio 99fm has asked me to be one of their experts and contribute on their ‘Master Your Destiny’ show, to give practical tools people can use on their path of personal growth and how to move forward with their lives.”
Meet Karen Powell.
Chicago is a singles world
Chicago is where you live when you’re single and in your 20s and 30s 🙂
“I grew up in Chicago where I thrived in the retail brokerage industry in an awesome nine-year career. After seven years, however, I began to feel like I’d literally have to drag myself out of my house into my workplace. Interestingly, I stuck around for two more years. Yes, I was having lots of fun socially, but I was no longer fulfilled with my life in Chicago, which is actually a great place for single people in their 20s and 30s.
“I had a great life on paper, but when you begin to drag yourself out of your bed to get to work, that should be your cue for, ‘it’s time to leave and start something you actually have a passion for’.
I had a great life on paper until it just wasn’t enough anymore
“My ‘aha-moment’ came when I started travelling to Africa. My first African trip was to Kenya on holiday where I visited a little island off the coast called Lamu, then to the Masaai Mara and a few more amazing places in the country. It felt so right, so ‘like home’.
My ‘aha-moment’ came when I started travelling to Africa
Every time I’d return back to Chicago and my job, all I could think about was, ‘When can I get back to Africa?’
“Over the years I traveled back every chance I got. I went to Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda, DRC (then Zaire) and Uganda.
“After returning home from each trip, I found it harder and harder to cope. My mind, body and soul wanted Africa. At this point, I had just been promoted to be a vice-president of the firm. So I was like, ‘Whoa, this is serious business now. And inasmuch as I don’t want to be here anymore, doing this, I have to come to the party’, but I needed a better attitude.
After returning home from each trip, I found it harder and harder to cope
“Then I got this bright idea that I would go live in Africa for just one year to get it out of my system once and for all. I walked into a bookstore one morning and bought a book called ‘Teach Your Way Around the World’, to do research on where I could do some volunteer work for a year in Africa.
I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in what I was offering
“I found an organization that offered programs in Kenya, South Africa and Namibia. I thought, I’ve been to Kenya, how about somewhere new? South Africa didn’t ‘grab’ me. I can’t really explain it, but when I saw Namibia it just shone on me. I didn’t know much about Namibia but I remembered a documentary I had watched on TV about the desert elephants sliding down sand dunes in Namibia, and bam! I decided I had to see that. So I asked the partners of the firm for a one-year leave of absence, packed up, and then jetted off to Namibia to teach English.”
Most people would have marvelled at the life Karen was contemplating to ditch.
I didn’t know much about Namibia but I remembered a documentary I had watched on TV about the desert elephants sliding down sand dunes in Namibia, and bam! I decided I had to see that
She tells me she actually started at that brokerage firm as a temporary secretary, was offered a permanent position with the promise to be trained as a salesperson after one year, became a salesperson, then a broker, and was finally promoted to vice-presidency. But at her return home from Namibia, “I literally wanted to turn the steering wheel back from the direction of my workplace. I was like, ‘I can’t’. Then again, I had given the company my word to return after a year, and they had been generous enough to let me take the year off to figure things out. I had to live up to their faith in me. I had to put on my big-girl panties and take up the position after my trip as I’d promised to.”
At my return home from Namibia, I literally wanted to turn the steering wheel back from the direction of my workplace
But two weeks later, she handed in her resignation to the shock of her colleagues and family and decided to return to Namibia, for good.
Once you profess your dream out loud, then comes ‘the dance’ of the big dream and the big fear
“My body, mind and soul were literally screaming ‘Africa!’ I listened to my heart and never looked back. My sister had told me about a book called ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, which talks about unlocking one’s creativity. I decided this was a good time to read it.
After finishing to read the book, I realized I had all I needed to take the big leap into the unknown.”
My sister had told me about a book called ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron
After enough ups and downs that come with starting a life in a new country, “I started my own workshops based on Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artists Way’. I basically facilitated people through the program, giving them a safe place to stay accountable, share with others and hear others’ stories. I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in what I was offering, because this country was quite conservative at that point in time. Interestingly, my business grew by word of mouth.”
She created her own programs and workshops on different topics like ‘prosperity’, and ‘creating a lifestyle that is authentically and uniquely yours’.
“I did one workshop after another and people came! It was exciting because it gave me the courage to stay the course. Since then, hundreds and hundreds of people have walked in through that door with their ‘impossibles’ and walked out with their ‘possibles’,” she says pointing towards the front door of her studio, which is next door to the home she shares with her husband and daughter.
…hundreds and hundreds of people have walked in through that door with their ‘impossibles’ and walked out with their ‘possibles’
She adds, “People have created amazing things in here. And it always starts with their uncertainty, doubts and fears. Those stuck in jobs they hated have sat right where you’re seated and left this place to be world travelers. My clients have won awards, created their own businesses, eventually owned their dream homes, met their soulmates and so on. They leave here decided to make it happen, and that’s the point.”
…it always starts with their uncertainty, doubts and fears
Often people start with outlining their goals, that’s the easy part, Karen points out. The next level is to connect with the dream deep inside of them, which may seem so far-fetched, that someone can’t even admit it to themselves.
Opening your mouth to actually say your ‘outrageous’ dream out loud is the beginning of unlocking the impossible
“That’s the beginning of making the impossible possible. Opening your mouth to actually say your ‘outrageous’ dream out loud is the beginning of unlocking the impossible.
“But here’s the thing: the Universe feeds off of passion and determination. The moment you admit it, and have the hunger for it, the Universe starts shifting for your sake. But your dream won’t land in your lap. You have to go out and claim it.”
Once you profess your dream out loud, then comes what Karen calls ‘the dance of the big dream and the big fear’ – the ‘what if I don’t deserve it?’ phase. That moment when you ask yourself, ‘Am I worthy? Am I just being ungrateful to life? What if people ridicule me? What if they shoot me down?’ And, and, and…
…the dance of the big dream and the big fear – the ‘what if I don’t deserve it?’ phase
“Doing this dance is part of the process. Don’t resist or shoot it down, thinking it is a cue for ‘don’t do it’. Understand that life wants you to bring that big dream to life. If you want it badly enough, life will require you to heal through ‘the dance’, for you to get to the acceptance part of the process. The doubt, the ridicule and negativity from the world is what’s going to motivate you to pursue your big dream to the end. Accept it. Don’t skip it.”
Part and parcel of ‘the dance’ are the ‘yeah buts’ – ‘Yeah, but what if it doesn’t work?’, Karen explains. “The big question to replace your insecurity should be, ‘What if it does work?’ Interestingly enough, when people really engage, they can’t quit. I show people how to keep moving forward by using practical tools. When you get to that point of no return, don’t apologize. That’s what life is getting you to do to move forward and achieve your big dream.
The doubt, the ridicule and negativity from the world is what’s going to motivate you to pursue your big dream to the end
It needs you to first heal the parts of you that tell you you’re not good enough. If you stick with it through the deepest, darkest parts, you’ll eventually come out on the other end better. At this point, you’ll look back on your ‘yeah-buts’ and go ‘Really?’”
Some people will criticize you for the sake of it – mostly because they’re not doing what you’re doing and wish they could, Karen says. “So they’ll shoot you down to mask their own insecurities. Don’t give them that much power over you.”
Loving yourself from the inside out is loving all of you – the good and the bad. It means not waiting to be slimmer, more educated, or more accomplished in life to pursue your dream
How can one pull themselves from the ‘dance’ to the dream, I ask? “It has to start with a willingness. Sometimes people may not know what they want, but they always know what they don’t want. That’s a starting point. You may not know exactly what you want, but knowing how you want to feel is important. For instance, you may want to feel peace or freedom in your life. We start from there. Once you say or write what you don’t want, and then move on to how you’d like your life to feel, the inner work begins.
People will shoot you down to mask their own insecurities. Don’t give them that much power over you
“I don’t do plans or tell people which ‘steps’ to take to achieve their big dreams, because I don’t know what it will or would take. I, however, provide you with workable tools, because all I know at the end of the day is; if you say it and know you want it, and keep working towards it, Life will deliver it. This could start by the smallest of actions like going to the internet to research it, or calling someone who has done it to mentor you. That person will have your next step for you and so forth. In the meantime, there will be a choir in your head pointing out to you all the reasons why you shouldn’t do it. Let it, but stay the course.”
If you say it and know you want it, and keep working towards it, Life will deliver it
With a pilot dad and a homemaking mom, Karen and her six siblings grew up in a home they never witnessed any form of disagreement between their parents.
…the first time I fought with my husband, I thought we were breaking up
“It’s not that they didn’t argue. They just never argued in front of us.”
She, however, wish they had because the first time she fought with her husband, she thought they were breaking up.
“I never knew it was normal to disagree with your spouse to the lengths he and I sometimes did. I was scared. I wish I’d seen my parents resolve a disagreement, then I’d have known that it’s normal to sometimes have conflict in my marriage.”
All things nature, career path and finding love
I grew up watching National Geographic shows about exotic places
But where did her love for nature and outdoorsy lifestyle stem from, I wonder (it’s easy to pick up this side of her at the sight of her beautiful studio décor, by the way). “I grew up watching National Geographic shows about exotic places, and was especially drawn to the ones that showed the animals on the African plains. So my first African trip was by no accident. It was always going to happen. I believe things don’t just happen in our lives for no reason.
My first African trip was by no accident. It was always going to happen
“Would I be doing the same work in the States? No, because I can’t picture myself in the States. In Chicago, the weather creates an indoor environment, and yet when you look at my studio, you’ll notice how close to nature it is. I absolutely need open windows, fresh air, sunshine and an outdoor lifestyle. That would be missing if I were in Chicago. There’s a thin line between my work and my lifestyle – I wouldn’t want to lose my close-to-nature lifestyle. It’s part of who I am and that’s what I teach people – to integrate what feels right.”
How did she know when it was the right time to settle down with a partner, though?
I was hailing a cab on Independence Avenue and there he was, ‘Can I give you a ride?’ And I was like, ‘Sure!
“I’ve been married for 16 years now. We met here. He’s Namibian. He was helping a friend move and my friend was helping the same friend. I had nothing going on that day and asked my friend if I could help pack up the house. After that, we ended up bumping into each other. Once, I was hailing a cab on Independence Avenue and there he was, ‘Can I give you a ride?’ And I was like, ‘Sure!’
“We dated for a year before he proposed. We were living together at that point in time and had gone ring-shopping, so it wasn’t completely out of the blue. However, the date and time of the proposal was completely a surprise.”
The courage to say yes to a marriage proposal should come from a peaceful place following a healthy, secure relationship with yourself
Was she ready when her then boyfriend proposed? “Let’s rather say; had he proposed before, I wouldn’t have been ready. The courage to say yes to a marriage proposal should come from a peaceful place following a healthy, secure relationship with yourself; learning to love yourself from the inside out. I did my ‘love yourself’ process using ‘The Artist’s Way’. It began with the intention to be clear about what it is that pulls me down. Clarity and intention were my buzz words. I intended to release the insecurities, the self-loathing and the negativity internally and externally. I realized that the moment I had set out the intention and was clear about it, life worked with me.”
Karen explains the healing process as: “For me, it began with writing down the opposite of what I felt. For instance, I’d write, ‘I am a confident person’. Then the ‘choir’ in my head would start debating on why I wasn’t a confident person. I’d give them the ‘airtime’ and then write it all down. And I would do it again and again, day after day, until I actually started feeling the peace I’d been craving. After giving the ‘choir’ in my head a platform, I moved on to speak to the little girl in me – that little person who went through unpleasant things.”
I began with writing down the opposite of what I felt. For instance, I’d write, ‘I am a confident person’
Explaining the concept of revisiting the ‘little person in us’, Karen says: “You can’t say you’ve healed when that very young self in you is still screaming in a dark little corner saying, ‘No! You can’t forgive yet. That hurt!’ Listen to that little person. Give her attention and then revisit those painful things in the past and express the locked up feelings.
You can’t say you’ve healed when that very young self in you is still screaming in a dark little corner saying, ‘No! You can’t forgive yet!’
“I don’t believe in trying to forgive before you’ve connected to that part of you that still needs to express the hurt, the sadness and the anger. To me, forgiving too soon just means stashing it all away. Don’t move on too soon, deal with it by listening to that little person inside of you, who never got the chance to vent and heal.”
She looks at healing this way because when we’re young, she says, “we’re not allowed to vent in a way that would fully and safely release the emotion.
Listen to that little person inside of you, who never got the chance to vent and heal
So we stash it all away, but it stays somewhere in our core. As we grow older, the stashed-away ghosts of the past begin to creep into our present.
“You can’t forgive before letting the little person inside of you go through the emotions. Let her first say, ‘No way am I ever forgiving!’ Let her first be angry, and blame, and be sad and so on. Do it every day – sit with that little person each day and listen to their tantrums and just say, ‘I hear you’. The little person eventually calms down and lets go.
Let that little person within you first be angry, and blame, and be sad and hurt. Let them go through the emotions before they let go
It is only then that you can say you’ve let go – when you become one with the little person in you instead of locking her up in a dark corner and ‘moving on’ with your life.
“Once you give that little person a ‘bodyguard’, you begin to understand, then have compassion, then forgive someone in your past, aware that people do hurtful things because of their own hurt selves. You have to be intentional about it, and it doesn’t have to take you so long. For instance; you could start with, ‘I’m done being so angry and bitter’, then the process begins. Have the willingness, then nurture the clarity. You can’t love yourself more than that. You eventually exude that kind of wholesomeness.
Your healing has to be intentional. You could start with, ‘I’m done being so angry and bitter’, and then begins the process
That’s the best definition of loving yourself from the inside out.
“I am authentic today in my life and in my work because I personally went through the process. I learnt to integrate my inner child with my adult being and not separate them.
Lessons learnt from my marriage
“As I’d mentioned, I never saw my parents fight. I wish I had because I had this crazy idea that love meant never disagreeing. But being married, we all know that disagreements happen. My husband and I started doing this thing that no matter who was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, we have agreed to both say sorry after every argument.
“As hard as it can be sometimes, it really helps level the playing field out again, starting afresh with no blame. It has helped us both to stay grounded, because we are such opposites, yet complement each other really well. We don’t take each other for granted and don’t expect each other to be perfect.”
We are such opposites, yet complement each other really well
To you reading this
“Loving yourself from the inside out is loving all of you – the good and the bad. It means not waiting to be slimmer, more educated, or more accomplished in life to pursue your dream. It also means allowing yourself to be human, accepting your imperfections, forgiving yourself for your mistakes. It means being grateful for your very own existence,” concludes Karen whose #IAmPossible video is here.
Self-love also means allowing yourself to be human, accepting your imperfections, forgiving yourself for your mistakes
One of the interesting questions and answers I gathered from Karen’s work was:
Q: “What is she going to make me do? Do we have to do awkward things like trust-falls and group hugs?”
A: “No. We keep it clean in here.”
Don’t you want to meet her now? 🙂 Find her here!