Karen Geiger

A Natural Woman

Some people define themselves by what they do for a living. If that were the case for Karen Geiger, she would be listed under G for garden designer. (For a brief time, you might have found her under A for accountant, but she quickly discovered that being confined to an office was not for her.) Today, she might also be listed under M for her most important vocation: mom.

Growing up, you might have found her under T for tomboy. "My mom would get me these pretty little dresses with little black patent shoes and the white lacy socks. I would put shorts on underneath so I could climb trees and do cartwheels," said Karen. "I wasn't really into sports; I just wanted to be outside."

Describing her mother as "stunning, beautiful, always made up, always fashionable," Karen said, "I could never compete with that. So, I chose to be the tomboy and own one pair of shoes and live in jeans and oversized T-shirts and dig in the dirt for a living."

But five years ago, when Karen's mom died, something amazing happened. "I inherited her clothes and her jewelry. I started to wear some of these things," said Karen. "It felt foreign at first. Then I started to like it, and I completely transformed my persona. I got my ears pierced and put makeup on for the first time." What Karen has come to realize, she said, is that her mother gave her a tremendous gift: "the gift of being a woman."

But fully embracing her womanhood was just the first step toward Karen's real growth, which could only take place when she was ready to face her fears. "I always wanted to take a drawing class. It completely intimidated me. I was afraid I couldn't do it or I would be in a class where everybody else already knew how," Karen admitted. In January, she took the leap and signed up for "Drawing A-Z" at the Art Academy. "I love it! It definitely opened a lot of doors for me," she said.

With her mind suddenly open to the possibilities, she began exploring other areas of her life where fear lurked. "I always had a secret desire to model, but I had no confidence in myself," said Karen. Asked to model for the fashion show at Pink's Woman's Day, she said, "I remember standing there ready to go out in front of all these women. I had this flashback. There is no way I would have done this 20 years ago or even three years ago. I thought, 'I can do that now!'" Karen has since mustered the courage to contact a modeling agency, submit photos and go for an interview. The worst that can happen? She won't get the job. But she has already reaped the reward. "Something happens when you conquer a fear, especially if it's a fear you've had for a really long time," she said.

On a roll, next Karen approached Elizabeth Millen about writing a new garden column for Pink. While Karen is still a gardener by trade, it's her life that is in full bloom. Yes, she's a gardener, a mom, an artist, a writer, a model and much more. Look her up under W for woman. She's a natural!