***I had an amazing opportunity to write this article in early February for South Reno Kids & Sports, which is a local, neighborhood magazine publication. I found out this week that it had been featured in the April 2020 issue, and that my copy was in the mail!

I wrote about facing some fears I was having as a parent of emerging teenagers. Of course, I had no idea at the time, the fears that would unfold for ALL of us in the coming weeks and months after I originally wrote this. This post Covid-19 world we are living in seems fragile with the fears we are desperately trying to keep at bay.

Maybe this was the reminder I needed myself this morning, to step UP and into this challenge. To FEEL MY FEELINGS, and lead by example, with love and grace for myself and my family. May we all have the courage to be PRESENT despite our fear.

Thank you to AMBA Martial Arts Dojo in Red Rock for the amazing impact you’ve had on our family and so many others. If you can help us and donate even the smallest amount to keep the dojo up and running, we would be so grateful! Will post link below. Thank you!***

In the zone, before earning her coveted orange belt.

My 11 year old daughter has been working for over a year on preparing to take a belt advancement test in karate. The dojo she belongs to takes these tests very seriously and these belts are absolutely earned, instead of simply handed out after a length of time. Because her motivation has vacillated from VERY excited, to almost non-existent at times, it has taken her longer than others to reach a point where she was ready to test. The day came, and we were just as nervous for her as she was for herself. Of course we primed her with positive affirmations and confidence booster’s…days and even weeks leading up to her event. Assuring her that just giving her best was enough! Belt or not, as long as she gave her best, we call that a win, and will keep moving forward no matter what.

But I was scared for her. 

What if she freezes up and forgets something? What if she gives her best and still doesn’t quite reach her goal? How will we help equip her to overcome disappointment without her feeling bad about herself? Will she be embarrassed? Will she feel uncomfortable? Are we pushing her too hard? Is this too much pressure? Am I failing? 

The internal questioning and doubting could go on and on in my mom brain.

It’s been like a non-stop, spinning mind spiral since my two kids were born.  

It’s the part no one warns you about at your baby shower, when you’re admiring tiny infant onesies and soft baby blankets.  In that moment, your biggest fears are a healthy birth! Bonding with your baby! Breastfeeding/bottle feeding? Sleep schedule? Routine? 

You’re not thinking of all the microscopic and intricate ways that each decision you make will shape and influence who your child is becoming as an independent, social, active, learning, and growing human being…with personal preferences, opinions and dreams…who is learning to find a way to live with integrity, and contribute to mankind in a meaningful way?!


My 14 year old son presents us with new layers to add onto the mind spiral of fear, on a regular basis.  With the introduction of his desire to be active on social media, puberty stuff, pop-culture stuff, peer pressure stuff, and the seemingly constant and rapid changes within his social/friend group occurring daily, in addition to his own academic goals and athletic goals, hobbies,interests, and mood swings…it’s a LOT to keep up with…while trying not to endlessly worry that we are missing something.  

Every day, there seems to be devastating news reports and tragic updates that help feed these fears and keep me feeling almost paralyzed and stuck in this mind spiral as a mom.  It feels like each decision is potentially a life or death one. 

It can be terrifying at times.  

But, THAT is the running theme I have discovered that is disabling me as a parent. 


And that was exactly what I learned about that day in the dojo.  

Some of the kids who were testing in the higher belt tiers that day knew that they would have to face intense sparring rounds against those students with higher rankings than them, with the goal to simply endure the timed rounds without quitting or giving up.  The instructors explained that the intention of this portion of the test was to create a feeling of intense pressure and overwhelm on purpose, but in a safe and controlled environment.   They explained that this would create an opportunity for the students to face a VERY intimidating fear, but also be supported to face it head on, and overcome. 

To gain the self-confidence to face fears elsewhere in their lives, in and out of the dojo. 

One by one I watched these kids step up to the challenge with determination and courage. And, even though there were somevery tough hits and kicks, and you could see how exhausted they all became just trying to hang on for the entire time, each one of them prevailed. 

And each time, upon hearing the buzzer that signaled that time was up, the whole room would erupt with cheers of victory!  And, each of the more advanced belt students would run over and swarm the kid who had just finished.  Hugging and praising them!  Embracing their new fellow warrior, who had declared WAR over their fear…and BEAT IT.  

It was so powerful and inspiring to watch.  I was so grateful for my daughter being there to see what it looks like to feel the fear of something…but step out and try anyway. 

The truth is, when it is time for her next belt test, and it is her turn to face these same sparring rounds, it will be scary for BOTH of us. I don’t want her to be scared, uncomfortable or overwhelmed in any way!  My OWN fear has had me avoiding allowing in anything that could cause her, or my son, pain and suffering.  

But if I keep trying to protect them from the fears that show up in life, HOW in the world will they know WHAT to do WHEN it comes calling anyway?  Life will not buffer these things for my kids. It certainly doesn’t buffer them for any of us?! 

Maybe the fears that have led me to desperately try and protect them from those feelings of discomfort, are actually the EXACT things we should be running toward with full force, while we still have them under the safety of our roof?! 

Leading by example by turning, to face and run head on into myOWN insecurities, pain, disappointments, humility, failures and fears…might be the very thing that sets us free?  Because being honest with ourselves and our kids about the hard stuff takes the POWER away from it…and shows that NONE of us is alone when we feel these ways.  

It shines a light of love in a dark corner of fear.  

And just like those kids in the sparring ring…there WILL be times where life serves up a fight.  

It will hurt, sting and feel overwhelming.  We WILL want to quit. But we won’t. 

Because we have declared war on fear, and we know that if we can face it, and HOLD ON, there is ALWAYS love, celebration and victory on the other side of it…and we are not alone.  


I would like to use this article as a way to share the non-profit website in honor of Caleb Stenvold, who died from suicide at age 14 in October, 2019. He was a student at Manogue High school.


To donate to Amba Martial Arts: https://www.gofundme.com/f/amba-martial-arts-covid-19-relief-fund-smb?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link-tip&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet