Interview with Karin Horen

We all go through different challenges in life, we all experience our fair shares of ups and downs. Karin Horen is no stranger to these challenges – being in the military when she was living in Israel, facing breast cancer twice, a very public break-up, single motherhood, just to name a few. But none of those challenges define her. In fact, if you know Karin, you’ll know that she’s always smiling, always kind to everyone around her. Her resilience, strength, courage and grace under the most unfortunate times is inspiring and today we chat to her about her new book, cures for a bad day, and beauty secrets. 

What made you decide to write a book?

It has been a few years of contemplating writing my story. I felt like It was the most natural way for me after establishing ‘Paddle For Hope’ and going through so many ordeals with my breast cancer. I needed to understand “me” better and find some peace in all the chaos. I also wanted to give my three daughters something that will explain to them my decision-making and who I am as a mum and woman, and leave a legacy behind.  When you face cancer twice you know that anything can change for good or bad so having these chapters available to them when they grow up might make more sense of what is happening now in their lives. I knew that a lot of the subjects I bring up in this book resonates with different people, not just women. I wanted to create a discussion, to talk about subject that might be hard to reveal for some – such as intimacy, relationships, marriage, children and cancer, men and breast cancer and what we are in need of, how to get over obstacles and of course body image from my perspective. 

It was always important to me to be transparent about my opinions because we have that responsibility as public figures. It doesn’t mean that it’s ALL there but most of the real, raw stories are. If I can touch one soul- I have done my job right. 

Where do you get your inspiration from/what gets you up in the morning?

I learned to motivate myself. Some mornings are harder than others but most days its enough for me to look at one of my daughters walking in my room in her PJs or watching the sunrise from my bed. Being alive is not a cliche. I am so grateful for being here and breathing the oxygen is something that we forget about – it’s a gift!

I try to engage in work that I love doing, with people who complete me or I can learn from, and physical activity which helps me a lot with my mental health. At times I get anxious and getting out of bed straight away with not having the option of staying even another second, making it a habit is something I am learning to embrace. Life is not meant to be a garden of roses all year long but if you are able to smell the roses even in your mind – just keep going.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Take time to think, evaluate, and don’t rush into making decisions based on too much emotions or end result. Patience is the key. Life is really about the journey. 

Love – I would be a lot more grateful today to the real people who loved me . Appreciate the ones who do. They are important. Kindness is the first value I look for in people today. When I was young, I was a bit blind by other opportunities, and superficiality. Growing up and maturing changed my perception in life and put all values in different perspective.

I would also advise myself to move on faster from the ones who hurt you and stand by my core values. When I was younger, even as a teenager, the whole social arena was so mixed up. When you are unwell, stick to the ones who really care. You can find love in yourself and then it will all fall into place, no need for external validation. 

Last one – save a bit more for a rainy day. Treat yourself to coffees once in a while, or a meal out, and certainly on clothes – even get second hand. Be more aware of the environment and spending as we never know what is around the corner. 

You’ve survived so many challenges in your life and have only come outstronger every time. What’s the key to resilience?

I guess my upbringing has a lot to do with resilience. Being brought up in Israel, serving in the military for two years and having a father who was 16 years in the military who taught me to rise up and “get going “. I moved countries at a young age and lived in Africa, so had to adopt to a totally different style of living. 

The more we are challenged I believe the more we learn how to cope. It doesn’t mean we always succeed but with the failure, or with going downhill, with a bit of HOPE we can overcome obstacles. I learned and developed my own mechanisms. One was surrounding myself with a strong community and the second was to literally turn on the music and give myself HOPE by repeating affirmations and mantras. 

I had to learn to believe in myself. I learned that if nothing really awful happened up until now -this means that I am still here so it’s all good. We can only do what we can do under the circumstances so we have to be compassionate towards ourselves. 

I love your musical taste! Especially when you add tracks to your insta stories of you running or exercising. What are your top 3 songs that gets you in a good mood?

“I’ll Rise up” 

” Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” 

Sometimes Trance music as it takes me back to the days where I was dancing so hard and having lots of fun. Taylor Swift is fun as I can dance with my girls and sing along in the car… I also love “High Hopes”(Panic at the disco) its great for running. “Higher Love” is one of my faves at the moment  – it always lifts my spirit. I think I am such a babe when it comes to music, words make me shake off trouble and more makes me feel young at heart. I grew up with classical music at home and opera, so I still love that when it’s the right time. 

What has been the best part about writing a book and being a published author?

I think for me it was having a voice, letting go and feeling liberated. I have nothing to hide now …I confronted fears. I am being heard the way I wanted to. My terms. It has given me sort of mental freedom. Forgiveness.

The success is not just the book itself its the fact that I am out there doing what I love and I hope that I will be able to speak more in public and tell my story, give from my experience and touch more souls.

Achieving this in New Zealand is huge for me. I am forever grateful to the ones who believed in my story. It opens the door for me to speak to more people, women are sending messages and sharing their stories. 

What’s your cure for a bad day?

Cuddles from my girls. Walk in nature is a BIG one for me. Good nourishing food. I am a great believer that good nourishing diet can do wonders to our mind and body. We all deserve to feel good. It’s all out there for us, no need to spend lots of money. Remember: EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY. It shall pass. Don’t get stuck in the story, complain less and do more. 

Your fave beauty tip/advice?

– Never go to sleep with make-up on, make sure you clean your face with natural face products. Use body oil or moisturiser. 

– Hydrate your skin at night. I recommend Manuka Doctor brightening face oil and lavender night mask. So good !

– EVERYDAY sunscreen !!! NZ sunscreen company is my favourite. Use sunscreen in the winter and summer.

– Do what you feel makes you happy – I have done Botox and a bit of fillers lately as I felt I needed that boost. Love seeing Stacey at BEAUTIPHI in Parnell. 

-EAT WELL. Nourishing your skin will have a beauty effect on your skin and body. Drink water/herbal teas. 

– Make up- the more natural look for every day and a bit of enhancement is my go to these days. I am 46 and less is more. I use ALEPH BEAUTY. It’s vegan and multipurpose make-up. Check them out. Made in NZ.

What I love the most about you is your confidence and how you’re always so kind and gracious!

I wasn’t a confident child at all! When I was a young girl I lacked happiness. I think as I was never really encouraged except be the best, succeed. No one told me what I tell my girls nowadays. It was all about achievement back then and not praising who I was in terms of skills or personality, or even beauty. My parents didn’t make me feel as confident and moving back and forth from Nigeria was hard socially. I never thought I was pretty or special. I was adapting to the norm. I learned to develop my own style, and develop myself mentally and grow confidence. Smile and do what I love doing. In my recent relationship I was not supported as much which hurt me a lot and with losing breasts even more…So had to learn, research and build that in me. It’s a work in progress. The world can be cruel but we are stronger than that.

Confidence comes with time. I believe that our environment has a lot to do with confidence, however we can learn that with time. Many think that confidence comes from just being beautiful but there are so many women and men I know who are good looking and lack that.

Confidence is doing what we love and sticking to our core values and trusting our gut feeling. Finding our unique way in this chaotic world. 

We have options, we can make new choices every day. Be YOU . Be unique. focus on what your skills are and talent. I keep saying that to my daughters. You are beautiful inside and out. I know that we face so many mental health issues these days and sometimes people lose hope or self belief. There is social media pressure on top. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Walk proud. Own it !

We tend to be unkind towards ourselves, be compassionate towards you first. 

What can people expect from your book?

They can enjoy a real raw story about a woman who has gone through an interesting life journey. I was in the military, lived in different countries, lived in Israel in times of the Golf War. I survived breast cancer twice and I weaved these stories and cancer journey through other eye opening experiences, including relationships, childhood, marriage, motherhood breakups and career change. I also talk about being in the spotlight, sharing my life with a well known actor , emotions and feelings in the most open vulnerable way. Readers are exposed to my scars, body image perspective and they can gain some great tips for life. 

“I Am More Than Just My Tits – Surviving Breast Cancer” is out now in major bookstores or online at https://oneofus.nz

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