I Yam What I Yam: Happy Birthday to an Audacious Writer

Popeye first appeared in print on the 17th January 1929.

The perfect hook to mark another very special 17 January milestone: the birthday of my good friend Karen Swim.

karendswimheadshotKaren and I got to know each other through blogging: sharing words, thoughts, ideas, tears and laughter online.

I’ve been following Karen’s blog for a year now and I’d be hard pressed to find just one word to describe it.  She’s made me stop and think, laugh out loud, reassess my approach to things, get back to work, stop and give thanks, and weep, quietly, on more than one occassion.

Audacity might just be the right word for it.

Karen has shown us how to be unstoppable (and in my mind, she’ll be forever WonderWoman) and how to get your groove back.

When she faces adversity, she comes back stronger, and shows us how to do the same.  (I can’t normally stomach motivational blogs… too saccharine.  Karen’s comes with warts, tears and all.  Which makes the advice real, meaningful, and true.)

Karen shares her journey through life including the darkest, bluest of days.  She writes with poetry and compassion, letting her words spill out with her tears, touching the hearts of those who read her work.

She wrote one of the most extraordinary posts I’ve ever read when she took part in a group writing project I was running.  I thought I was ‘just’ compiling the entries to a writing project.  Organising the links, checking I had everything, editing the final round up post, picking the best entry.  Except one of the entries got right to the heart of what it means to write.  What it means to be human.

Reading it threw me into floods of tears… as it does every time I read it.

(You can read it here: My Love Affair)

She’s taken us through her journey to becoming a writer, including her adventures in writing a novel in November.  She broke through paralyzing perfectionism and got to the point where she, and we, could celebrate with her when she shouted out loud: I Yam A Writer!

Karen has the courage to share her ups and downs.  She’s shown us how to enjoy the moon bounce of life.

I haven’t met Karen (yet) but she is one of my best and closest friends.  I’ve learned so much from Karen, but one of the most important lessons is this: audacious words can cross the oceans, travel the miles, and wind their way round hearts.

I found this video clip as a celebration of Popeye, and the remarkable Ms Swim’s birthday

Keep taking the spinach Karen, and have a wonderful day!

A selection of posts from the Words for Hire blog:

The Friendship That Ignited a Blog

Be Unstoppable!

How To Get Your Groove Back

I’m Still Standing! I’m Still Strong!

Blue Days

Paralyzing Perfectionism

I Yam a Writer!

Life Is Like a Moon Bounce

My Love Affair

Related Posts with Thumbnails

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19 Responses to “I Yam What I Yam: Happy Birthday to an Audacious Writer”

  1. On January 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm Jamie Grove - How Not To Write responded with... #

    Huge birthday hugs for Karen from me! She’s the best!!!!

    Jamie Grove - How Not To Writes last blog post..Help Me With My 2009 Clarion West Choices Maybe Win A Book

  2. On January 17, 2009 at 3:48 pm Karen Swim responded with... #

    Joanna!!! I am laughing, crying,and blushing all at once. Your friendship is one of the greatest gifts I received and this post is icing on the cake. I happen to love Spinach and Popeye and am honored that we share a milestone. The I Yam was a nod to our dear Popeye which of course you caught! Oh my goodness, I am overwhelmed in a good way so forgive the incoherence, but THANK YOU! This is the best birthday ever!

    Jamie, I totally heart you too!

    Karen Swims last blog post..What I Learned From Crying on My Blog

  3. On January 17, 2009 at 4:23 pm Robyn McMaster responded with... #

    Didn’t see this when I just posted best wishes for your birthday, but this blog seems more in tune with the message I bring to your celebration.

    Vive La Karen!

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Obama’s an Avid Reader - You?

  4. On January 17, 2009 at 4:54 pm Ann Handley responded with... #

    Joanna — What a lovely tribute to the audacious (and amazing) Karen Swim! This line struck me, especially: “I haven’t met Karen (yet) but she is one of my best and closest friends.” That’s a pretty powerful statement about the connection and the bonds we form online… and, like a lot of people, I totally understood what you meant!

    I hope you both get to meet this year. And Happy Birthday, Karen. Capricorn women rock. (My daughter is one!)

    Ann Handleys last blog post..Wii Are Family

  5. On January 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Joanna, What a marvelous birthday gift to Karen … and us. I think you have perfectly captured the Essence of Karen. Happy Birthday, Karen!

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..Business Goals for 2009

  6. On January 18, 2009 at 8:14 am Roland Hesz responded with... #

    Joanna, you put it together so well. That’s all Karen for sure.

    And I join Ann in her wish that you two get to meet this year.
    You deserve it. :)

    PS: I was gone for a while, and I did not update your blog’s feed when you moved. I am going to Mea Culpa for this. Now reading back.

    Roland Heszs last blog post..Happy birthday Karen Swim!

  7. On January 18, 2009 at 9:24 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @ Jamie, isn’t she just?

    @ Karen, so glad you liked it! Hope you had a wonderful day

    @ Robyn, I like that, vive la Karen!!!

    @ Ann, thanks for understanding, and your comment about the bonds. I’m constantly surprised, and grateful for what they mean.

    @ Brad, thanks. Finding the Popeye connection made it all fall into place!

    @ Roland, good to see you back again :-)

  8. On January 18, 2009 at 4:00 pm Ulla Hennig responded with... #

    Your blog post made me see Karen before my very eyes - every word you wrote is absolutely true!
    Isn’t it amazing how we can become friends via the internet regardless how long the distances between us are and regardless from which country we are? I’d love to meet you and Karen some day face-to-face, though!

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..Three Cats

  9. On January 19, 2009 at 1:04 am Lillie Ammann responded with... #


    What a wonderful tribute to an amazing person.

    Hope the two of you meet soon and that you will always remain close friends.

    A belated happy birthday to Karen. I hope your day was marvelous.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Religious Freedom Day

  10. On January 19, 2009 at 4:05 am Gennaro responded with... #

    Robin Williams is perfect for the Popeye role. Or any role that requires a little over-the-top caricature.

    Happy birthday to Karen.

    Gennaros last blog post..8 Presidential Inauguration Locations To Visit

  11. On January 19, 2009 at 8:26 am wilson responded with... #

    Happy B’day, Karen. Isn’t it best to have Joanna as your friend?

    PS: Joanna, would you mind to give me some “Yam” here, as I see that you have at least two Yams in the blogpost’s title! lol

    wilsons last blog post..Snacks – Is It Good or Bad For Your Health?

  12. On January 19, 2009 at 8:41 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Ulla, yes, it seems astonishing, daily to me. A blessing indeed. But I think part of is that it means we want to travel and connect with the people in person too, so yes, I hope we all get to meet up some time!

    Lillie, thanks, she’s very special isn’t she?

    Gennaro, I hadn’t seen the film but found this clip from a search and loved it. I’ve played it countless times.

    wilson, yes, no shortage of yams round here!

  13. On January 19, 2009 at 4:05 pm Shari Smothers responded with... #

    Joanna, this is a great gift to Karen and to me.

    I first came across Karen’s blog from your blog. I found in her writing everything that you described here.

    Your post is a stellar commentary on the positive power of blogging.

    Happy birthday to Karen!

    Shari Smotherss last blog post..healthy habits: what is brain food?

  14. On January 19, 2009 at 4:13 pm Alina Popescu responded with... #

    Belated happy birthday to Karen! She is a wonderful, wonderful persona and a constant source of inspiration. Joanna, as always, you’re great at making people feel really, really great.

    Alina Popescus last blog post..Monday Reading Roundup Take #19

  15. On January 19, 2009 at 5:19 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Shari, thank you, I’m glad it worked as a gift for you as well as Karen. That’s lovely feedback.

    Alina, isn’t she just?! Thank you for your generous words Alina, and for making me smile so broadly.

  16. On January 19, 2009 at 5:32 pm J.D. Meier responded with... #

    Happy Birthday to Karen!

    You’ve written a wonderful tribute from the heart Joanna and your words ring true.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..THE TOP TEN LEADERSHIP LESSONS

  17. On January 19, 2009 at 7:03 pm Janice Cartier responded with... #

    Happy birthday, Karen!
    Joanna I love seeing Karen hitting her stride, bruised knees and all…and taking us right along with her. A great big huzzah or a handful of bandaids and hugs, I’m in..and grateful for her warm generosity. Many audacious wishes for both of you.

    Janice Cartiers last blog post..Why Robert Redford Is A Hero

  18. On January 20, 2009 at 8:49 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    J D thanks for the feedback and birthday wishes. It did indeed come from the heart… focus on that and the words come easy ;-)

    Janice, she does have such a knack for taking us along with her doesn’t she? I think that’s how I feel I’m learning from / with her too. She’s not telling me, she’s sharing her learning with us. So cool!

  19. On January 20, 2009 at 2:42 pm Janice Cartier responded with... #

    She does. Lucky for us.LOL.

    Janice Cartiers last blog post..Why Robert Redford Is A Hero


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