Something is there

Thump, Thump, Thump.

What is thumping? We live on the 3rd floor of a 3 flat in Chicago and I’m home alone. What could possibly be thumping on our back porch. No one comes up that way. The door is locked. I am safe.

Thump, Thump, Thump.

What is thumping? There are windows to look out onto the porch. I see nothing. No one is standing on the porch. No one is knocking on the door. I am safe. No one is there.

Thump, Thump, Thump.

What is thumping? Now I am worried. I have checked a few times and nothing is there. Has someone gone up to the attic? Are they waiting for me to open the door? What is making that sound? I cautiously open the door and step out onto the back porch. EEEKKKK. Something flew at my head.

Thump, Thump, Thump.

Then it is SILENT. My heart starts racing. What do I do now? How do I get that big, fat pigeon off of my porch? How did it even get in here? I slowly walk over to the windows and pull them down. The screen is at the bottom, so I pull them down from the top to allow the damn bird to fly out. Of course a few stick because they are 100 years old.

The bird takes flight again, but only tries to fly out the windows that are still closed. Dumb bird. Think, think, think. It is hard to think as the bird is thump, thump, thumping on the windows. He doesn’t realize some are open. He needs to have it clearly marked. Back inside I go. Where are the newspapers? Where is the tape? If I tape newspapers to the windows that are closed, will the bird go out the open windows then?

Cautiously and quickly I tape the newspapers to the windows. Please, please, please don’t fly into my head or peck at me. There, done. All the windows are covered except the ones open. Fly bird, fly. He sits there looking at me. I think he is afraid of me and everything I’ve done. I step back inside to watch from the window. Maybe the bird is just freaked out and injured from hitting the windows so many times.

Fly bird, fly. You can’t stay on my porch. Please go. Take the open window and go.

And then he does. He flies out the open, unmarked window to freedom. I leave the paper on the windows just in case he comes back.


After driving last Sunday Becca and I were talking in the car. I asked her how things went with the driver’s ed. teacher. I asked what she talked about with her. She shared with me that she “got lucky in the parent department.” I find it amazing that she views it this way. When I was her age, I was fiercely independent. My parents were fantastic yes. But I was stubborn. My daughter is the same, yet we don’t get into nearly the same number of fights I did at her age.

She recognizes that we are a team. A few years back Paul and I went on strike. We did NOTHING. They cooked all their meals, washed all their clothes, cleaned all the bathrooms, etc. When they started getting to the age of staying home alone we required them to do chores while we were gone. Home alone was a privilege that they had to maintain. Easy chores like emptying the dishwasher, or switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer. The chores never lasted longer than 5-10 minutes per chore, and each kid had 2 or 3. 4 hours of alone time from about 20 minutes of work was a great trade-off. Plus they learned time management skills. All the chores had to be done before we got home. We didn’t care if they did it right away, or as we pulled into the driveway. It was just done, or they weren’t home alone next time. Teamwork has set them up for success when they eventually leave the house.

Yes we own a karate studio and both kids are required to work in the studio. However, both kids have also had opportunities to do what they love. For her, it is theater. She used to be the one on-stage. Now she loves being backstage. A few years ago she tried out for Alice in Wonderland. She was hoping to be Alice. I remember I was away the weekend the cast list came out. She called me so excited because she was cast as the Mad Hatter. She stole the show. (Parent brag and she is flamboyant and dramatic.) Everyone loved how she just added to the craziness of the Mad Hatter. That was her last part onstage. Since then she has learned to use a chop saw and drill and built sets for her high school. She loves going up into the lights and organizing back stage items. I don’t understand all of it, but I support it because she supports me.

This kid turns 16 tomorrow. She has the whole world in front of her. She wants to know her path RIGHT NOW. Whatever she does it will be with gusto and stubbornness and a flair for the dramatic. She is her own person, with her own thoughts and opinions. She got lucky but so did I.

What do you say?

Over the course of the pandemic we took the opportunity to reinvent our leadership program at the studio. There are days that students learn weapons work and there are days that students study leadership books. We are introducing the students to many leadership books.

–Mindset by Carol Dweck

–Atomic Habits by James Clear

–21 laws of Leadership by James Maxwell

–You are Awesome by Matthew Syed

–Way of the Warrior Kid by Jocko Williams

We have others, so many others. These books have many things in common. How do you talk to yourself? How do you talk with others? What do you do when faced with a problem? The one I am working on right now is “What to Say When you Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter. This book is easy and enlightening. So much so that our teenagers loved reading it.

I am changing how I phrase things (notice I didn’t say “working on changing”). The habit is in the wording. I don’t eat chocolate, not “I try not to eat chocolate.” I workout 3x a week, not “I try to make it to the gym.” By removing the word try, I build a different pathway to my thinking and I become what I think.

And funny enough as I type this I am watching Star Wars. Yoda was right — “there is no try, only do.”


Driving. So simple for me, so difficult for her. So much to keep track of, so much to see. She is always nervous, I try not to be. My nervousness will add to hers. This is one of the things that Dad can do. I remember all the times I would hear “Mom…..”

I was upstairs folding laundry. Paul was somewhere in the house. Here comes the pitter patter of my 9 year old’s feet. Up the stairs he comes. “MOM…..”

“In here, folding laundry. What’s up buddy?”

“Can I have chocolate milk?”

“Sure buddy, go help yourself.”

“I can’t, can you come help me?”

So down we go, to the kitchen, for me to help him get his chocolate milk. Who is standing in the kitchen? Dad. But the best part is that in order to get up the stairs, Jack had to go through the kitchen. So I ask the very important question…..”Paul, how long have you been in the kitchen?”

“A while, I’m prepping dinner why?”

I look at my youngest and he looks at me. He smiles and says “but your mom.” I tell him “Dad can do it.” But the line was drawn a long time ago and no matter how I hard I try to erase it, it remains. But Dad can do it. Dad can take care of it. Mom doesn’t have to do all of it.

Dad has taken her driving more than I. He has gone around the block, on the highway, and to my parents house multiple weekends in a row for her to get driving time in. A piece of me feels guilty because I am the Mom and a bigger piece of me enjoys the relationship they are building together. She is learning how to drive, and while I sometimes take her driving, Dad does it more. Learning to drive isn’t easy, and neither is letting her go.


Have you ever had that moment? That moment when your whole being goes A-HA and “I’m so stupid” all at the same time? For me that was today.

I am a stubborn person. Anyone who knows me understands that telling me what to do puts my back up straight and I insist it must be a certain way (aka–my way). I am not oppositional, I just like things my way. I get into a habit of how things must be done and there is no changing it. Until today.

Paul has been bugging me to utilize more of our resources and experts when running our business. We have a tax guy who does the year-end stuff and takes care of anything I mess up. We use Quickbooks to run payroll, pay bills, invoice customers, etc. But when it came to filing quarterly taxes with the government, I insisted I had to be the one to do it.

Each month I would print the report, sign into the website, double check the numbers and enter them in. For Quarters end I would print reports and mail them out myself. All told it was about an hour’s worth of work, but it would stress me out. Until today.

I few weeks back I FINALLY looked into their payroll services and completed the process to submit all these reports through them. Today I took care of last months filing by just clicking the button marked “Pay.” 5 seconds, done. No more hour long stress fest of double checking numbers. They do it for me and now I have time for better things like writing to all of you. My stubbornness can be a gift. It keeps me trying to get past things I’m stuck on. But it can also be a curse, leaving me stuck in one place because “this is the way.”

I now have a new way and an A-HA moment to help me when I dig my heels in again. Here’s to finding a better way, until it must be my way again. 🙂


A little over a year ago we were in Disney. Many of my friends have been to Disney, multiple times. I had never had any desire to go. When Paul and I got married we drove out west for 3 weeks. We hiked, we rode the motorcycle, we saw the western half of the country. My ideal vacation is getting away from people. I believe it stems from hanging with people all day everyday. I already talk to and interact with 100s of people everyday. When I relax why would I want to be with other people?

But the point of this writing today is more of a reflection. As we were sitting in the airport, heading to Disney, Paul and I (because we didn’t take the kids) realized that we would need to buy hand sanitizer when we got back. We could see the writing on the wall and realized that cleaning products and sanitizer would be in short supply. While sitting in the airport waiting to board we ordered what we thought would be enough hand sanitizer at the time. We ordered enough to get us through the next 3 months. Little did we know…..

We didn’t take the kids because the trip to Disney was a business trip. We were there to learn how Disney operates as a business and how to take some of those lessons and apply them to our karate studio. We only spent about 2 hours touring the theme park and the rest of the time we were at our resort talking with other martial artists. Those 2 hours were fantastic. We saw the Star Wars section of Disney and loved it. It was here that we decided we had to take the kids. We now understood what all the fuss was about when people talk about Disney.

We dreamed of coming back over the summer and taking the kids. We would stay a day or 2 by NASA and then go to Disney. We could spend a few days just walking around and seeing everything. The kids would love it and so would we. Little did we know…..

Mom Vader

What do you think of when you hear “Darth Vader?” Big guy, dressed all in black, able to force choke those around him. Basically a scary dude. Last night, my 12 year old compared me to him. My new name “Mom Vader.” Was he mad at me? No. Was he grounded? No. Was there anything negative happening? No.

Instead we were sitting on the stairs, talking about birthdays, hanging out, joking about school pictures. He turns 13 in a couple of weeks, has been navigating junior high in a pandemic, and had to (gasp) comb his hair that day for pictures. All those normal moments that we forget, yet hold onto and treasure forever. BUT THEN– it was time for bed. I gave him the song—duh, duh, duh, dun da dun, dun da dun. And off he goes to brush his teeth. Yet for some reason he decides to leave the bathroom and attempt to hug me with a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth. Goofy almost 13 year old boys confuse me every time. Off he goes back to the bathroom to finish up the task, with a warning of “don’t drop toothpaste in the hall on your way.” And as he comes by for one more hug before bed his sweet voice says, “G’night, love you Mom Vader.”

Apparently I’m scary no matter what I’m doing. 🙂


Last week it was foggy. So foggy. Fog weighs on you. Feels like a weighted blanket holding you down, not giving you space. Weighing you down so you can’t move. Weighing you down so there is nowhere to go, except to stay in one place.

Last week it was foggy. So foggy. Fog makes it difficult to think. Unfocused, jumbled thoughts everywhere. Fleeting thoughts that move through your brain, trying desperately to hold on to them but they disappear in the fog.

Last week it was foggy. So foggy. Fog effects your judgement. Do you act or stay put? What needs to be done? Ideas, thoughts, feelings all moving through you but not going anywhere because you can’t make the right decision. Stuck in the fog.

Last week it was foggy. So foggy. This week the sun is shining and the fog has lifted. Action is being taken, feelings are being felt, and I am moving forward until the fog rolls in again.

Our Moment

As I was driving to pick up my daughter at driver’s ed (holy cow, I have a kid learning to drive), this thought came to me. I didn’t have the opportunity to write at that moment, but I knew I wanted to keep it front and center. It is a memory that comes back often, because we visit the same spot every few years. This beach, this ocean, this spot is our spot. And the story needed to be shared in all its simplicity and innocence today.

Dark, so dark. No moon, barely any light. We are walking on a deserted beach with just the faint lights from houses to show us the water’s edge. It is quiet, with just the sound of the waves crashing into shore and our mingled breathing as we walk. We hold hands, and bury our toes in the sand and life is simple.

You try to light a candle, but the wind blows it out. You try again and laugh at the futility of it. You uncap the mag-light you always seem to have in your pocket and stick it in the sand, but it falls over. We giggle at the attempt at a romantic “candle lit” moment. and enjoy the peace of just being together. It is simple, it is magical.

We talk about nothing and everything but something is different. You seem nervous. You and I alone on the beach, enjoying the moment but something important needs to be asked. It was there in that moment that I agreed to spend my life with you. It was there in that innocent moment before I knew exactly what spending our lives together, forever would mean. And as the future has unfolded over all these years, it was there in that moment that I knew our lives were to be forever linked, two souls finding each other in the dark of night, creating light and love and hope and joy.


What if you could do anything, what would you do?

What if you had extra money, what would you spend it on?

What if you could go anywhere, where would that be?

We often play the “what if” game in our house, especially as we are setting goals.

BUT WHAT IF the what if game came true?

Many years ago as we were debating opening our karate studio I asked Paul “What if we bought a piece of property and rented it to ourselves?” We had been discussing having a club at the park district, but this simple innocent question started him thinking about renting space and going all in on the studio. So we did. We did not purchase our own property, but we did find a great space to rent and began this journey.

Fast forward to last summer. Paul asked me, “What if we had more students and the business grew, what would you do with the extra money?” My answer was boring. I would save it for the kids for college. But when he pushed me to dream big, I shared my lifelong dream. I always wanted to own a Tesla. I had heard about the company at least 20 years ago and had always wanted to own one back then. It was such a big dream that my family teased me about it relentlessly. My dad would tell me he was going to stop by the Tesla store and order me one. But like many childhood dreams, it faded with college and family and life, forgotten for other things. Until that fateful moment when Paul asked that question. WHAT IF?