Lockdown #2 Failure Builds Resilience

“The definition of resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Failure helps us practice our resilience, but how do we build resilience from failure?

Resilience is not a skill that is learned over night, resilience is something that must be practiced, nurtured and built upon.”

People have been asking how I’m doing, as well as what is happening with Karma so I thought I’d share some of what’s been going on with me.  I have to admit that despite my greatest efforts, I’ve been feeling pretty unmotivated as of late, deflated, defeated, unsettled and anxious.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  The second lockdown has brought upon a wave of new emotions, and I’ve spent much of these very quiet days questioning what I’m doing, and what I will be doing going forward.  How can any of us truly plan for the future of our business when it seems that so much, if not all of it is currently well beyond our control?  The answer is, we really can’t, well in theory anyway…

As an entrepreneur, there is always uncertainty and you have no way of knowing if your vision, your plan or idea is going to succeed.   You could have exhausted all research, and written the most extensive of business plans, but you just never really know until you open the door what the outcome will be.  That’s because the outcome is entirely determined by someone other than yourself.  Every business, every idea or concept, no matter what it looks like, is dreamed up and launched with the consumer of that product or service as the primary driver.  Simply because without them, without you, there is no business.

Back to failure, and the topic of my blog today.  I’ve been struggling with the state of Karma right now.  (Karma being my bar, not the concept, although I suppose both are quite fitting at the moment)

I will preface this by saying I don’t want to turn this in to any sort of debate, and I do want to assure you all that I agree this is a real virus, that it is serious, and that people are dying and we all need to do what we can to keep ourselves and others safe.  However, because of this pandemic, the state of mine and so many other businesses are no longer being determined by the consumers of our products or services, nor by the owners effort, expertise, skillset, passion or follow through.  It’s being determined by a pandemic and by a set of rules put in to place that have given us no choice but to abide by them.   This has taken everything we know as business owners and flipped it upside down.  We have had to do what we can to try to continue to operate somehow within these strict, ever changing and most times vague, rules and guidelines,  to try to continue to deliver our products and services to consumers.  Either by shifting our vision and how we operate completely, or by making the difficult decision to close temporarily, as I have done.    Is this a failure, yes, I would say that I look at it as such even though most will say it was beyond my control.

Beyond my control or not, to me, it’s still failure.

I recently made a confession to someone that I haven’t had the emotional capability of sharing with anyone because frankly, admitting this was difficult enough.  I just never expressed it to anyone else, because telling someone would mean the failure I was feeling would be real and that I would have to be real with myself.   In return, I was met with some very honest, realistic feedback in his “humble opinion” as he put it.  Not so humble at all,  even though admittedly not exactly what I wanted to hear, but exactly what I needed to hear. I truly thank him for this candid conversation.   I won’t offer up specific details, but will say that it was predicated on this concept of failure and how we, or more specifically I in this situation,  had chosen to deal with it.  This same man told me that Covid has destroyed our industry, and while I like to try to be somewhat optimistic I can’t say I disagree.  It definitely has and will change how we all operate, if we even choose to, going forward.

I will say that I am truly blessed to have a few wonderful people in my life who support me and have been there for me.  You know who you are.  I’m so grateful for them and for all of my wonderful Lovelies who send me your thoughts, and positive messages and vibes daily!  This has certainly not been an easy thing to have to deal with, to say the least but having you all in my life has definitely been some shelter in the storm.

So here’s what I’ve learned.  Failures are inevitable,   Things change, many times beyond our control, but we still have to learn how to change with them.  Resilience and being real with yourself is the key.

Stay well My Lovelies!

See you soon 😉 ❤

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Things I’ve Learned – The Sequel

When the pandemic first began and all the crazy toilet paper hoarding was happening, and we were being forced to isolate in our homes, I began updating my personal page facebook statuses each evening with the “things I learned today”.  Most of which were written to inject a little bit of humour into the situation and remind people that everything didn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

I spent many a day watching my squirrels, talking to my garden gnomes or pondering about birds and their baby making.  Riveting stuff, I know!  As the weeks and months progressed, I ran out of things to learn and write about because I felt that telling everyone ” I like wine” was becoming a bit too repetitive.  😉  So I stopped writing them.

This morning laying in bed and thinking about everything I have to do to get ready to open the bar for another weekend, I was thinking about the things I’ve learned in the past few weeks since we have opened.

So, here we go with Season One, Episode One of “Things I’ve Learned Since We’ve Been Back Baby!”  (The sequel to the facebook status series,  “Things I’ve learned Today – The Pandemic”)

  1.  Always Be Prepared – Isn’t that what they teach you in cub scouts or some shit?  Clearly not advice I remembered to take on my re-opening night gong show!
  2.  It’s super fun to pretend you’re playing a live version of Donkey Kong when you roll out the wine barrel barriers
  3. Tent poles are your enemy!  Especially when you’re a total uncoordinated klutz like me.  (A reminder that I broke my leg walking,  and you should see me attempting to get on a jet ski…) I’m pretty sure I slammed into or tripped over the poles a minimum of 10 times.   It’s like a game every Monday called “Guess how many new bruises I got this weekend?”
  4. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of being called “Miss” or “Hey” – Apparently it makes me agitated and causes me to yell profanities at my wonderful customers who think it’s funny to irritate me.  (Love you guys!)
  5. It’s really freeking hot working outside for hours on end in the dead of summer.   I’m pretty sure I signed up to stand behind a bar in super cold air conditioning and have you all come up to me to get your drinks.  What’s with this having to run around and sweat my ass off crap?  (I apologize to all of you every weekend for my ever growing out of control  “Monica in Barbados” hair as a result of the heat & humidity )
  6. Why do people think it’s ok to ride their bikes directly through my patio area?  Pretty sure the barriers, tables and umbrellas and people sitting out there should give you the hint that this is now a patio.  Do you ride your bikes through your living room or kitchen?  Just sayin.
  7. I’m so loving Sunday Funday’s again.  However, thunderstorms and outdoor drinking/dining are the bar owners nightmare!  Especially when your bar resides on a waterfront road.  Takes me back to point number 1 – Always be prepared. Damn… Looks like I forgot that one again!
  8. I’m super blessed to have such supportive and die hard customers (My Lovelies).  The wonderful words of support and encouragement, getting to see your smiling faces and having some “air hugs” from you all has meant the world to me these past few weeks, and reminded me of why I’m doing what I’m doing.  (Also, I’m really liking those tips, not gonna lie!) 😉
  9. People step up for you when you need them – I’m blessed to have you all in my life.  Regardless of the fact that I consider myself a fighter and try to stay as upbeat as I can, I’ve definitely had some setbacks, rough times and dark moments in the last while.  You have all helped get me back on track, put up with me and motivated me to keep going.   You know who you all are.  I love and thank you dearly.
  10.  It’s always better to focus on the positive, even when everything feels like it’s going to shit,  just put your feet up on the coffee table, look at each other and laugh through the tears, because at the end of the day, that’s whats going to get you through!   There is always a solution to every challenge or problem, you just have to want to find it.

And Lastly….I love wine 😉

Cheers My Lovelies.  Hope to see many of you this weekend for more Cocktails & Dreams!

– Michelle

Rainy day thoughts about the New Normal

Well, we are officially back.  It doesn’t look or feel at all the same as it did before, but  as everyone keeps saying, this is “the new normal”.  I guess that means the new normal is having to cover our smiling faces, stop singing, dancing and  hugging each other, and following a set of rules that seem to change every minute of every day.  I’m sure many of you would agree with me when I say…it sure as Hell isn’t a normal I remotely enjoy living in.

However, making the best of things, and trying to see it from a different perspective, as I lay here listening to the rain pouring down and cleansing the earth, I’m reflecting on the positive things that have come of this pandemic for me.  I met and connected with some new people, and developed very meaningful relationships that may never have happened if not for the isolation.  I re-connected and established deeper friendships with some that I had been too busy to spend time with before.  I’ve gained so much love and support from all of these amazing humans, and don’t think I would have had it in me to re-open again if it wasn’t for their support and encouragement.   This has truly meant the world to me, and taught me that people show up for you at the right times, and in the right ways, exactly when you need them to the most.

Now we begin to focus on navigating this new normal and trying to make the very best of it.  Karma may not look the same way, but I will be doing my very best to continue to make it feel the same.  I’m sure we will continue to experience some hurdles and glitches as we walk through this uncertain time,  but I’m confident we will be able to sort them out.   To quote one of my favourite Beatles songs … “I get by with a little help from my friends…. gonna try with a little help from my friends”, (I left out the getting high part because I don’t do that – how about “I drink wine with a little help from my friends” 😉

So, on that note I’m excited to have teamed up with one of my long time besties, Linsay Derkatz & Trunk Fitness Studio.   Linsay is going to be working with Jake & I serving up your drinks & boards, and is also running her awesome pilates classes at Karma on the side lawn on Sundays.  More collaboration will be happening in the future between our 2 businesses as well!  She and I spent lots of years and many a porch wine talking about taking the leap to pursue our dreams and open our own businesses.  Eventually, we both did it, not too long before covid hit.  During this time we were both devastated and thought we were going to lose everything we had dreamed about and worked so hard for,  but we decided to support each other, be creative and come up with ways that we could work together to help each other keep our dreams alive.  I thank her for always being My Person.

A last thought as I sign off for today,  we are all going through hard times right now, and those of us who own businesses are doing everything we can to survive.  Be cognizant of that. Support each other.  Be empathetic, and try to understand that everyone has the right to their own thoughts and opinions, as well as the right to choose to walk through this in their own way.  Respect that it is ok to have differing opinions.  Do what is right for you. Support local business when and if you can, and please just be kind.

Remember, what you put out in the world does come back…. it’s called KARMA 😉

Have a wonderful weekend My Lovelies

Michelle 🙂




Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end…

Full disclosure here, I’ve been pretty much an emotional wreck since the beginning of Covid-19, and I’m sure I’m not at all alone in this.  I’ve gone through all the stages of grief,  in their exact order… as follows;

Denial – Michelle: “ok, this is just a blip, a few weeks max, it’ll all go back to normal soon”

Anger – Michelle: “This is officially bullshit,   Why is this happening? What is going on with our world, we are losing billions of dollars and the economy is tanked.  How can any of us be expected to get through this?  I miss my friends and loved ones.  I need a hug!! This is so unfair!”

Bargaining –  Michelle: “Ok – maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to close,  should have stayed open for takeout, maybe that would have made me feel less like shit” (*proceeded to open for takeout trying various options but still something just isn’t feeling right – it’s just not the vision I had created, but going through the motions of it to pay the bills)

Depression – And oh has this one been the worst of them all!  Michelle:  “Sadness and mourning for what was.  The people that are no longer able to be here to share in this magical place.  Anxiety and not sleeping has overcome, to the point where my thoughts are consumed with the what if’s – what if I can’t afford to re-open?   What if people don’t want to go out/come back? What if the restrictions are so tight, it makes re-opening my small space almost impossible? What if everything I ended a 26 year career for, and sunk so much money, passion and time in to is just going to disappear? …what if…what if what if… OMG,  ok, I’ll just have another glass of wine”

Acceptance – Michelle: “F**k this, I’m done.  If there is one thing I know about myself it’s that I have always had an innate ability to pull a damn rabbit out of my hat when there isn’t a rabbit, or even a hat.  When it seems impossible, I manage to find a way to re-frame, and attack it in a different way.  I’ve never been afraid of change or reinvention, and I’m not about to start now.”

So – as the title suggests, which also happens to be Jake’s and my favourite Semisonic song to play at the end of the nights at Karma when we are ready to kick you all out… all endings are simply a starting place for new beginnings.  And while Karma is far from ending, I am now focusing 100% on her reinvention,  in a way that I know will come with as much joy and laughter and magic as it did before.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be taking advantage of this time to give this spot a face lift, a rejuvenation if you will.  Kind of like an already pretty middle aged woman getting some botox or a little filler.  When you see her, not a lot will have “obviously” changed but she will look fresher and with a newfound glow and confidence.

Progress began yesterday, and it will be continuing over the next few weeks until we are given the green light to open.  You may see a few posts here and there on Facebook about it.  I have some big plans for our opening weekend and I cannot wait to welcome you all back with open arms.

I will still be offering takeout charcuterie boxes & wine on Friday and Saturday’s only between the hours of 3-5pm for anyone who is interested.  Online ordering for these continues to be available.  To keep some of the Karma vibe going, and when the weather permits, we will continue to invite our amazing musicians, Matte Lalonde, Paul Longden, Kristopher Marentette, Bob Souillere & Jim O’Neil to come play on the patio for you on Fridays & Saturdays (or maybe even a sunny Sunday afternoon) via facebook live in the mean time until we are given the green light to open again.

i’ve learned so many lessons over the course of this pandemic, far too many to even describe, but I will say the biggest one was that failure has never been an option for me before, and it certainly will not now.  Thank you My Lovelies, for your support &  love, your messages, words of encouragement and for just being you.  We will be together again soon!

Michelle xo


Episode 1 – The launch of Deep Thoughts by Karma

Well our new website has finally launched!  A huge shout out goes to Greg Plante of the Printing Machine and also one of my closest and dearest friends,  for giving his time and effort to create this for me.

I wanted a space outside of social media where I could share some things with you, especially during this time when we are shut down due to the pandemic.  It will help keep me sane,  grounded & connected with Karma and all of My Lovelies who I miss seeing every week!   The Karma News section will be reserved for information on any upcoming events, as well as info on the musicians we will have playing each week, and any updates or additions to our menu.   This space is going to be a little different.  A place for me to post photos, and as the title describes, share with you some deep, (and maybe not always so deep) random thoughts.

I will likely post a few times a week, especially right now when,  let’s face it, there isn’t much else to do.

So, this morning I sit quietly with the sun beating in, listening to the birds in the company of 2 of my cats and on my second cup of tea thinking about what I want to share with you.

I guess a good place to start would be to share my story, a little bit about who I am and why I decided to open Karma.

This industry is completely new to me, having only been in it for the past 18 months.  I spent the prior 25 years in insurance, the last 15 or so as an executive, most recently doing acquisitions and company integrations.  I loved the work, loved my staff and enjoyed being a leader.  However, I never actually realized how much I had to stray from who I was as a person in order to effectively and successfully execute my job.

I was under a lot of pressure, from my boss, the board, and from my staff.  Much like anyone in leadership positions, I had to learn how to make some big decisions on a daily basis, decisions that I knew would affect people, both positively and negatively.  I would obsess about the negative, wracking my brain to figure out solutions to turn it around for them.  I worked around the clock, some weeks putting in over 100 hours, I slept at the office many nights trying to do the job of 3 or 4 people myself.   It became daunting, emotionally and physically exhausting, and I realized I had lost myself in the process.   It started to become less joyful, I was no longer happy and was losing my passion for it.  I suppose my company realized this too, as in February of 2018 I was let go.  What felt like a gut punch at the time, ended up being a Godsend.  They did me a huge favour, and to this day I am so grateful  to them that they did.

I was given the gift of time, to really sit and think about what I wanted to do with my life and career and what my passion truly was.  What I realized was that I needed to do something that would allow me to just be me, and do what brings me joy.  One of the best parts of my job was when I got to plan and host an event or meeting or party.   I loved making sure every detail was just right, that people would be wowed upon entry, that it would be a unique experience even if it was just a corporate event or meeting.   This was when I realized my true passion.  Entertaining, making people happy,  and wanting them to have a great experience.

I love the concept of Karma, in it’s positive meaning.  That when you put good things out in to the world, they will come back to you.  I wanted to create something that didn’t just have that word written on the window or wall, but where it truly lived and defined it.   A space where I could greet every single person with a smile when they came in, where people felt comfortable coming in alone and sitting at the bar for a wine and a chat, but also where groups of friends could gather and laugh and enjoy each other’s company.  Where couples could come for a date night as a break from their kids and have the opportunity to connect, or reconnect if that’s what they needed.  I believe I did just that, as evidenced by the amazing humans who have entered and slammed my creaky wooden screen door.  In 18 months I have been blessed to have shared my living room, my happy place, with so many of you, and I truly could not have asked for more.  My life is certainly very different than it was just a few years ago at this time, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

So there you have it,  in the shortest description I could possibly manage, my story & my reason for creating Karma.

One last thought before I sign off…

This industry has introduced me to some of the most creative and passionate people I’ve ever met, my fellow bar & restaurant owners.   I feel like a part of a family with so many of you.  This time is challenging for absolutely everyone, but my heart goes out to my friends who are dealing with having to close their businesses, their passions, and figure out a way to recover once this is done.  We are in it together and I have faith we will all come back from this.   I hope stronger, with a greater appreciation for everything and everyone around us.

Looking forward to sharing more thoughts with you in blogs to come.  I’ll leave you with some pics from the early days of Karma. Our opening party, and the first few weeks of operation.  Super fun to look back to these great times!

Cheers My Lovelies



The Cuban Sandwich

WINDSOR, OntarioMarch 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Lick the Plate on 93.9 The River where the DetroitWindsor, and Northern Michigan culinary, cultural and music communities tell their stories is launching a first-of-its kind week of episodes featuring the fabulous new Karma Cuban Sandwich from Karma Wine Bar in Tecumseh, Ontario.  The interview features the Karma Cuban Sandwich describing it’s preparation in detail, history going back to Cuba and it’s migration to Tampa and Miami, Florida, suggested wine and soda pairings and Cuban music selections.

Host David Boylan who is somewhat obsessed with Cuban sandwiches suggested the idea of adding one to the menu at Karma Wine Bar to owner Michelle Tremblay, and she jumped at the idea. That led to extensive research and testing and the Cuban that Boylan describes as among the best he has had. “Michelle ran with this idea and the fact that she is brining the pork shoulder in orange juice and spiced rum, then a mojo marinade proves she took this seriously. Then it becomes a more traditional preparation combining the slow roasted pork with smoked ham, Swiss Cheese, thinly sliced pickles, yellow mustard and Cuban style rolls pressed until it all melts together and becomes a glorious sandwich.”

To read the full article please click here