Community Newsletter

Hi Friends!

November Newsletter

My newsletter is hot off the press and ready for your eyes.  Take a minute to look it over.  I would love to know what you think.

 

 

It’s time. I’m with her.

Summer has sped away down a dusty road, leaving my hopes for a sultry, golden tan in the rearview.  Eugene had exorbitantly hot weather this summer, the fires started in California and I saw a tractor mowing dirt.  On bad days, I wonder how long it’ll take for our species to devolve into a Tank Girl/ Idiocracy existence.  On good days, I believe we are getting our act together and things are going to get better.  This is how I came to end my days sitting on the fence watching the show.

I need to preface my thought process.  Politics for me are interesting but I have a finite attention span, as I do for most things that I cannot touch.  I was once called tactile in a museum, I prefer kinesthetically motivated. Anyway.  Politics would be much more engaging if I had a personal connection and not the pussy grabbing kind (funny timing on the release of that sound bite).   Engaging in this election was meh.  I’d get around to it.

My first chance to vote for president was Bill Clinton, the second term.  My black and white held staunch lines, I was not comfortable in the grey.  Then Monica, the dress, the cigar and WTF first lady?!  You are going to take that?  I felt for Hillary and Chelsea.  I felt for Monica.  And Bill.  It sucked, haha.  But really, it was so nationally embarrassing.  I am sure in other parts of the world it really was not a big deal to have an affair.  We are still puritanical in some ridiculous ways.  How could such a brilliant woman stay with such a slime ball?  I was indignant.  No grey yet.  No understanding that marriage is complicated and different for each couple.   How could a self-respecting woman allow herself to be treated this way?  How could she tolerate him and the press?  She was a warrior.  She was a shero.

Then we went through the bushes.  And I missed the old days, the accent, the policies.  I missed what we had.  The intelligence, the ease and comfort.  The balanced budget.  I was nostalgic for acumen.

Fast forward twenty years.  I am driving to a golf tournament, this time hosting a hole.  Still not engaging in the election.  KLCC, the local NPR station is playing  a Hillary speech on what exactly I cannot remember, but it felt important.  And listening to her talk I jumped off my piece of the fence.  I leapt into the mix, I engaged.  Vote for Hillary!  Except my motivation for her being the first woman was not as compelling as it was last time around.   Something changed and I think it was the Obama.  His pedestal is high.  I know that no person is perfect and mistakes were made but we had it good.  Now, we must move forward and this new chapter is all about Hillary.

I signed up on her website to volunteer when I got home, but all I get are donation emails.  So I try to talk to people about voting for her and many people distrust her.  Why is this?  I hear it is because she lied and is linked to corruption, Benghazi, the email server.  And it makes me wonder.  Is she really another lying politician or is she a female, lying politician beating the old boys at their game and they don’t like it?  Could the main issue be that she is a woman?

Hillary is brilliant.  Experienced.  Well read.  Well traveled.  Consistent in fighting for minorities and against -isms.  Does it really come to the fact that she has a vagina?  And honestly I think it does.  This makes me want to campaign harder for her.  V power.  She is also a lifetime politician.

There are over 7 billion humans on Earth.  6 billion of us live in PEACE.  1 billion do not.  I propose that the 6 billion of us stop watching, listening, giving any attention to the 1 billion that are doing their best to bring us down.  Let’s take that high road together and remember our power.  Let’s not give it away or let it be stolen.  Let’s VOTE!

Life is now every shade of grey.  And it is beautiful.  Maybe this happens with age or having a child or falling in love with a woman or letting go of everything I was supposed to want.  This grey opens my heart to the rest of the world.  When we grip so tightly to our safety and security, our hands cannot hold any more and we miss out.  Let’s not give our fear control of our future, lets turn our faces towards what we do want and not look back.

Some people won’t ever be happy.

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It’s true and I know you have met them, maybe you are one of them.  It could be temperament, you’re just born inexcusably unable to be pleased.  Or maybe you’re conditioned through the factors of sheer existence.  Life has worn all your joy away.   Some people just want to wear a frown and pee on everybody’s parade.

Writing people off as crazy or finding some other mental flaw can take some of the frustration off but I feel this is not the way.  If we are to deal with these people with loving kindness how do we come to terms with the fact that you can’t ever win, by doing enough, bending enough, being enough?  How do I not take it personal when I have done my personal best and the feedback is my best sucks?

Well, I like to do two things.  And it takes practice.  I am currently practicing really, really hard.  First, notice and remember there is god in there.  I have had my personal struggles with the term god.  I am much more spiritual than religious and being so, subscribe to a belief in the Great Spirit that we all share.  But to speak a language and word that many people can relate to I use god.  Part of my practice then is to look for god in the dismal person. I often find the presence in their teeth.  Weird, I know.  But we all share teeth, at some point we have all had them.  The hardest of cases when the teeth don’t cut it, I find god in something that I also have like frizzy hair.  This practice is hard in the heat of the moment.  Angry, hurt, underlying fear bubbles, sometimes much more than bubbles to the base of my neck.  You know how it feels.  Finding something that we share takes away the separatness of them and me.

The second part of my practice, remember they are suffering.  Their suffering is deep and constant and what a terrible way to be.  No one wants to suffer, ever.  We are all trying our best to NOT suffer.  Even when the person is getting exactly what they desire the most, they are suffering.  Therein lies the negative feedback loop of getting your way but it is not enough.  This is like the ray of sunshine on the fact that stuff won’t fix or fill this hole that the sufferer carries.  This is also difficult to deal with in the moment.

Try this Metta Meditation.  Start small with yourself, May I be happy.  May I be well.  May I be safe.  May I be peaceful and at ease.  Then radiate it out to loved ones, strangers, strangers suffering and eventually get to this person that can never be pleased.  And Ha! by this point it is not about winning or making people happy.  You have put forth your good  and that is your job.  Put happiness and good into the world.  Sounds easy, but I know you know it is not.  May all beings be happy and free of suffering.

You better Belize it.

I know, it’s kinda cheesy and terribly overdue.  It’s so true though.  You gotta believe in Belize.  It’s your next trip.

Using trip instead of vacation evokes a sense of adventure.  Sure, you may relax a couple hours on a beach but a trip for me usually involves walking, a lot of walking.  On adventures, you use your body and mind.  It is taxing and rewarding and when the day is over you’re tired.  A party may still unfold and those couple hours on the beach the next day allows vacation laze.

We took a trip.  And when I say we, I am speaking of my very own Huma Abedin.  Trusted intern turn advisor.  Also known as my super great girlfriend.   And holy cow, Hillary is a lesbian?!?!  Hmm.. I see it.  Yes, this makes me much less angry about Bill being a cad.  Google it.

So, Huma and I planned to go to only countries that start with “B”.  Well I just thought of that, but it could be a fun way to pick destinations.  We actually picked it because we went to Spain a couple summers ago and LOVED it, while on the flight home we started planning our next adventure.  We both wanted to go to Central America but neither of us speak spanish.  I made the vow to learn the language but found a work around for my own vow.  BELIZE.  They speak english and a bunch of other languages, but this time looking for food without meat would be much easier.

Huma used her flyer miles and we actually flew to Belize for a ridiculously affordable amount.  Woot!  It was a relatively great round trip flight.  We have flown often to Hawaii and it’s like that.  But cheaper.  And the people like you more.  Born and raised in Hawaii, my sensibilities for Hawaii may be skewed.  Side note:  I was born in the same hospital as President Obama.   Lame claim to fame, but FYI for all your birthers.

We planned to bus around the country but while at the Belize City airport rented a car.  Good choice!  We drove all around the country, which was what we did in Spain but Belize is much smaller.  Our plan was to AirBnB for two days in multiple locations.  Most of our accommodations were operated by expats and we stayed in a hostel.  All fab.

First night we stayed in Belize City.  You can skip it.  Although, Altun Ha was a pretty sweet first ruin visit.  Then we went to St. Ignacio and stayed at Maya Mountain Resort.  Loved it!  Took an all day guided tour to Caracol had the best guide, Viktor Gamez.  Get a guide.  The money helps the local economy and guides are knowledgable of the area and history.  Money well spent.  Get a guide.  We also took another guided tour to ATM.   We hiked a half mile up an underground cave, traversing through a river and pitch blackness to Mayan ritual sites.  Crazy amazing!  Our wonderful guide told us that ATM will close in the net five years.  You should go now.  Belize ATM  This is the company we used and I cannot recommend it enough.osyk1352

After St.  Ignacio, we went to Hopkins.  A small coastal town, relaxed, pretty and walkable.  We didn’t drive around much.  Went on an intense hike in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (Lonely Planet) the first jaguar refuge, swam in two waterfalls with tiny fish that nibbled on dead skin.  (I must tell you one thing about Belize, they do the opposite of exaggerate.  The moderate hike made me sweat harder than an Insanity workout and the mild hot sauce burned my tongue off.) Huma saw a wild tarantula.  Hilarious sound came out of her mouth as she agitated the spider hole, we still laugh about it.

From Hopkins, we ferried  to San Pedro.  Total party town.  There was no need to stay two nights.  We stayed in a hostel, met really cool people and learned the best drinking game ever.  After San Pedro, we ferried to Caye Caulker.  Caye Caulker is paradise.   Absolutely.  Our time there was great.  You should go.  Like now.  Caye Caulker has three sand streets and most people walk or ride bikes.  At night the crabs come out and I actually ran one over while on my bike.  The crab and I locked eyes and I couldn’t stop.  Huma says it kept running.  I started screaming and the local police rolled up on their golf cart asking what happened.  Through my rolling laughter I explained I hit a crab and they pulled away, slowly, you know golf cart style.  Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world and we took a guided tour to snorkel around.  I even touched a shark.  For real, I jumped in first all excited, put my hand out to touch them (many swimming around) then my innate self-preservation kicked in, I pulled my hand back then immediately started thinking the sharks could pick up my sense of fear.  I ended up touching them and feeling bad later because I am not really sure if it was the right thing to do.  But cross that off my list.  Although, my Huma wants to dive with Great Whites for her next b-day.  Hmmm.

Overall, the people of Belize bring the nice out.  There was no underlying resentment about tourists being there.   The people were proud and happy to share their world.  It seemed the whole country was for sale and Guatemala  is encroaching on Belize country lines.  Our money is double and Belize promotes a respect for the natural world.  There is a rich history and the ruins are breathtaking and interesting.   I learned so much about the country.  I even had a tick!  Money well spent.  You should go.  Soon.

Wigs, the multipurpose Halloween tool.

Here we are.  Autumn.  Pumpkins.  Halloween.

My favorite of all, Halloween.  Free candy, dressing up, parties.  Halloween has been a favorite of mine since childhood.  And somehow I have overlooked for much too long the greatness of a wig.  Not any more.  Wigs are now front and center for my decorating and frightening.  Let me explain.

I have had a rough couple of years trying to carve and paint my pumpkins.  This year I had an idea.  Just put a wig on the pumpkin and call it good.  I loved this idea, so we headed to Goodwill.  There was a large container of used wigs just waiting to have another life.  And looking at these wigs I was hit with the sheer awesomeness of a wig.  I can wear them, duh, decorate my pumpkins with them, and scare the daylights out of my family.

Now if your family is anything like mine, frightening each other is a game that holds an odd delight.  The wig is a superb scaring device.  You can leave them hidden in surprising place like the shower or in the bed.  You can attach a string to them and move them slowly across the floor like an odd animal.  Our brains want to categorize everything and when we don’t expect a wig because they are so amorphous, we have a momentary delay in recognition. And this is how a wig is such a great tool.  The swiss army knife of Halloween decorations.  Buy a few and let the Halloween joy ensue.

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I ran out of eggs. Could I be a vegan?

In my neck of the woods, I have been trying my hand at gardening.  My efforts have been noticed by my neighbors and they sweetly donated zucchini, their garden was booming and mine struggled valiantly producing one squash.  To return the neighborly niceness, I made zucchini bread to share.  During my bread making I ran out of eggs, hark!  Quickly I pulled up some egg substitutes and found I could use apple sauce and a mashed banana.  Sweet.   One mashed banana solved my problem and actually made a way better zucchini bread.  I shared my mini loaves and did not mention they were vegan because I wanted my friends to actually eat them.  I was cognizant of this choice. And it got me thinking.

The world is in need of an overhaul on our consumption.  We all know this.  We all acknowledge it on some level, I hope.   I have my days of darkness with the amount of waste we as a species produce.  Panic sets in that there may be no way for our continued survival on our planet.  Never did I feel this so acutely as when held my newborn son within the first week of his life.  Our mortality hit me extremely hard.  We will use more than our share, leave more waste than we can imagine, and swim in our trash (already do in many places).

In the science community there is a term, carrying capacity, represented by K.

K

K is the exponential growth of a species.  That dashed line is the amount of carrying capacity of the environment.  Think resources, water, food and space.  The growth of the red line gets a little crazy and overshoots the dashed line then there is a die off of the species as it returns to a level that the environment can support.

I am not sure if you have seen graphs of human population growth.  Or if you have felt the dashed line.  I feel the dashed line.  When I hear of another mass shooting, I think of the lack of connection the shooter felt towards fellow humans and I also think this may be evidence of our species not having enough space or resources.  Other atrocities remind me of the K and I bet you can find evidence of place being too crowded or there not being enough for everyone as soon as you try.  Homelessness is a flashing neon light.  Drought worldwide.  Food insecurity and extreme food waste.  Plastics, man-made chemicals, trash, polluting our space to a point beyond livability.

The peaceful warrior in me stands and speaks of our human spirit and all that we are capable of.  Can our spiritual evolution really help us with our incredible leap above the dashed line?  If we were to work towards and embrace our enlightenment, can we alter our inevitable course?

What is there to do?  Put on the blinders of false ignorance denying our own feebleness and our utter insignificance?  Ignore, deny, misinterpret the truth?  Or do your best and make an effort?  Can it be that simple?  Acknowledge and change or deny and die sooner.

The fitness of our species depends on our adaptability.  And we all know we are extremely adaptable.  If we are willing.

One way of the best ways humans can attempt to modify and cope is how we eat.  Our most basic of human needs.  At this point I cringe to write VEGAN.  I have seen the looks and the shade people throw when they hear that word.  The metaphorical cotton gets shoved in ears.  The judgement of crazy/weird/foolish is handed down.  And any further conversation is strained.  The weird eater can’t explain or educate beyond this point.  This may be a good chance to attempt adaptation.  Maybe if we were to listen to those vegans we might learn something.

I went vegan once for about nine months.  I felt great.  I missed cheese, could be the casein.  Thinking of vegan things to eat on the run became daunting and eventually I dropped the vegan, remaining a vegetarian.  Not a fish-eating vegetarian either,  we all know about overfishing, etc, etc.  I have respect for people who live a vegan lifestyle.  And even though there are funny memes and a hilarious J.P Sears video, it is a stance.  People are eating in alignment with what they believe in.  And that is admirable.  Knowing from experience, it can be a cumbersome life choice.  But adapting is not an easy process.  Adaptation is cumbersome.

Have you seen Forks over Knives?  You should.  There is a great cookbook that came out after the documentary and it has some pretty good recipes.  Side note: A firehouse takes on a plant-based lifestyle and the firemen become healthier by lowering their cholesterol and body weight.  Food can be a creative outlet.  Adapting can have moments of fun. Oh She Glows and Cookie and Kate are two of my favorite plant based blogs.

PROTEIN!  That is almost a dirty word synonymous with meat but that is an incorrect assumption.  Similar to: we can only get calcium from milk (a dairy industry falsehood).  There are many plant combinations that supply protein to our bodies.  We do not have to eat meat for our protein. And if we were to think about the life of the animal before we eat it or the type of death it experienced, would we think those cells would provide our bodies with optimal nutrients.  Or the level of antibiotics and hormones in the meat we eat as something that would be remotely good for our bodies.

One of my personal mottos is: Vote with your Money.  It is one our most powerful tools to make people/corporations take notice and potentially change.  Think organic food production, BPA use, lead in the water.  I wish I could vote away Monsanto and vote in food sovereignty, all with time right.  Who controls our food?  The seeds, the dirt, the crops.  Who runs the factory farms?  At this point we should know that it’s not really in the control of the farmers.  Farmers are being crushed regularly for saving seeds or if their crops have a trace of Monsanto genes.  We have so many choices to make with our money.  And we have so many chances to choose, so many chances for change.

Daily we make thousands of choices.  The choices run the range of thoughtless to heavy, but we still need to make them.  I think that our adaptability is in our choices because we are thinking, creative animals.  As we think and learn more about the choices that face us we know more.  The more we know, the better our chances to grow.  Another motto in my life:  Once we know better we do better.

 

Pick a house, please.

In all the excitement of having some buyers, I forgot to coach them on how our relationship will play out.  This was a mistake.  It’s like in the classroom, you set up your routines and reinforce positive behaviors.  Clients can also use clear guidelines and positive reinforcement.

I have been hacking away at learning this new biz for the last six months, time flies right?  In this time, I have not skyrocketed to financial freedom like I had hoped.  It seems real estate is similar to so many other professions, it takes work and education to succeed.  Real estate demands another skill to reach success and that is a degree in psychology.  I did not read about that in my study guides for the test.  Nor did I realize my role as couples counselor.

If you think about it, buying a house can be super stressful, fear inducing and a breeding ground for issues with miscommunication.  Now multiply it by 5 when you are trying to buy a house with a partner who wants the opposite of what you want.  A partner who has the tendency to change their mind in a 180 degree fashion.  This is the world I now navigate.

The beloved clients can turn out to be major pains in the neck when the couple cannot get their shared vision to gel.  I feel a couple assessment could help me at the start of a real estate relationship.  I can ask basic questions like the Newlywed Game.  Examples:  How often does your partner completely change their mind?  What is your partners communication weakness?  Does your partner actually want to purchase a home?  Oh the list can go on and on.  I daydream of this questionnaire.  My reality is trying to tease out what one person really wants while reading the other persons nonverbal cues and adjust accordingly.  All about adaptability.

This was not quite what I had envisioned.  When it was time to purchase my first home, I looked at what was out there, found an area that could work, toured some homes, then picked the one I wanted.  I wasn’t looking for a dream home.  I was looking to buy a house. It didn’t take that long, I was underwhelmed by my real estate broker, impressed by the escrow lady and went forward in life.  I now know this is not the process for many people.  I had a Realtor show me about 5 houses.  I did my own research and house hunting.  I left that Realtor off easy.

The beloved clients have now seen 17 houses.  17!!  There is always some minutiae that is so wrong, silly things.  It started with the garbage disposals.  If the house didn’t have one, off the list.  Then other things that could easily be fixed became deal breakers.  Then the whole search widened into areas, structures and ideas that totally threw me off course.  Okay, rebound, I am flexible, I am adaptable.  You want to look at acreage with manufactured homes, got it.  Oh, now it’s raw land to develop, okay.  I have to admit we saw some questionable homes.  Knives everywhere as decorations, odd smells, ridiculously steep stairs, mini trailer parks, we know the inventory.  Finally, I called in the big gun, my principal broker, and we had a come to Jesus, the next week after touring 3 more houses, there was an offer.  An ACTUAL OFFER!! Oh, but it’s not that easy.  Always a catch in this biz.  FSBO.  For sale by owner.  Ahhhhhhh,  I didn’t prepare for this.

One offer presentation to the seller later, I realized unless people have serious experience in the state they are selling a home, they really should not try to do it themselves.  I am sitting at the sellers kitchen table trying to explain the papers in front of her.  She just wants something simple.  Like a homemade handwritten sale.  As she is looking over the sale agreement I brought, she starts to sign it.  I let her know that this document is legally binding and by selling it she is agreeing to sell to my clients.  Oh boy.

Fast forward to the counter offer which ends with a sentence about me taking all responsibility to ensure the seller meets all legal and time requirements.  I look at it and think whatevs.  I can deal with that, I am gonna do it anyway because there are not other brokers involved.  But it just so happened that my favorite Pro was in the office and looked it over and in colorful language expressed how I should most definitely not agree to that.  She is not my client, by selling her home without a broker it is the seller who assumes those risks.

So now I have learned A) couples bring their baggage to the table and I get to slog through it.  B) FSBO’s are a handful.  All valuable lumps I appreciate learning.  If you are keeping track, I have had two buyers who do not mean what they say.  A seasoned broker mentioned to me a little rhyme: buyers are liars and sellers are storytellers…Well, my clients decided that the house wasn’t the one.  And back to the starting line we go….

Next time, I may share about my new clients: the disgruntled ex-husband who wants to sell the house while the obstinate ex-wife lives in it.  This should be a test of my counseling skills and flexibility.

So I have some tattoos

 

My trip took me from Hawaii to Singapore then Bali and Japan.  I can honestly tell you after many years of commercial airline travel across the pacific, I experienced a plane ride I was sure I would not live through complete with screaming passengers and a snack cart serving Cup-o-Noodles.  For weeks I was in Indonesia.  At first it was great.  I read and cruised around and was so ready to volunteer at the school.  The volunteering fell through at the last minute and they kept my money.  You usually pay in some way to travel and volunteer.  In a way it worked out, I met a driver who had a friend who had an english tutoring school.  I was able to accomplish a small part of my mission.  I had time to walk, a lot and read, a lot.  There was more trash than I had seen on beaches and piled on street corners.  There were large packs of dogs, “Balinese tigers”, that lounged and ate the trash.  Bali has beautiful temples and a ceremony everyday depending where you are on the island.  There are some things I had never seen.  Trees with skirts because they have spirits.  Lot’s of honking when going over bridges, to let the spirits know people are driving over them.  Beauty that took my breath away.  Delicious vegetarian food.  And more people on a single moped that you can imagine.  I saw a family of five on one moped.  Amazing.  I read and walked.  For 21 days, it was just me.  I went to yoga and a documentary about bees.  I spoke with strangers from all around the world.

I was disappointed about the volunteering.  I was getting lonely in this place.  I was wondering why I would travel so far from home to do things I could do at home.  I had beaches.  I had trash I could pick up.  I knew students I could help.  I also had a little boy that I was missing terribly.  But something bigger was happening that I didn’t realize yet.

I got my first tattoo as soon as I was legally able.  I have had many tattoos since then.  All but one from different women artists.  There was something about that.  Each had a specific meaning to me and most were easy to cover up.  That was important.  Inside though, I had always wanted a sleeve of tattoos.  But that is not what a (insert self-defining role here) would do.  For me the roles that I would no longer be good at due to my ink were: mothering, teaching, success, business savvy and being well-educated.  The voice calling the shots was very vocal about my goodness directly related to how people perceive me and people with tattoos are not perceived well (all in my own mind).  I have met smart, happy people who are also great parents and have tattoos.  But I’ve got my crazy.  As the voice got louder, the more I thought about the sleeve.  Then something in my growth at the time allowed a different train of thought and it asked why?  Why would you not be a good person if you choose to adorn yourself with permanent body art?  Why does what other people think of you matter so much?  Why can’t you allow yourself to do what you want?  Why would your mothering skills change if you had an arm of tattoos?

While in Bali, I read an article in a local magazine about the tradition of tattoos.  This article stated a cultural belief “a man without tattoos is invisible to the gods” an Iban proverb, Sarawak, Malaysia.  Knowing the depth of my own belief system, ultimately I want to know the gods and be known to the gods.  This was a subconscious factor that drove me so far away from home.  To know thyself. And in two sentences it all became very concious.

I am owning my crazy.  I am owning my self-doubt and self-judgement with slight narcissistic tendencies.

I was going through a challenging spot in my life and I gave myself permission.  I allowed myself to get a half sleeve.  I had multiple consultations and the half sleeve was done in two parts and took HOURS.  And it hurt.  I sat or laid there for hundreds of minutes accepting my choice in this.  I could still wear many things and no one would ever know it was there.  I could pretend I didn’t have it.

I went to Bali with this half sleeve.  It is pretty.  Big red poppies because I woke up from a sleep, not for a drug reference but for a reminder.  On this island in SEA, it was humid and no one knew me so I had no reason not to let my flag fly. A lot of people stared at me, tried to touch my arm, asked if I wanted more.  I would keep walking.  But I did want more, I wanted the whole arm.

We float in the world.  Like a dandelion that just had a gust of wind scatter it around.  If we don’t tether ourselves to someone or someplace, where will the gust take us?  How far can you go when you just let yourself float?  This idea used to scare me.  I tried to gather up all the false securities and creature comforts I possibly could because I didn’t want to look at the impermanence of life head-on.  Then I had no choice but to face it.  And now I make that choice to face it. And my arm of tattoos reminds to take a hard look at all that I have and how quickly it can change.   And I float like the seed caught in a breeze.  I do my best to appreciate and share all the love that is out there for all of us.

My tattoos are just that, mine.  They have meaning to me and when I try to hide them I am not being true to myself and my nature.  People may love them or hate them or care less about them.  Ultimately, we are all just floating on our own breeze. And we need to make our own choice of how we want to be.

 

 

 

I may want to become an audiobook actor.

In these days of “what have I done with my life”, my newest ambition (not entirely fleshed out) is to become an audiobook narrator.  Let me preface with why I feel I am qualified to voice act books to the general public and not only my captive audiences.

I have read the first six Harry Potter books out loud to my son in the past two years.  From first foot in Hogwarts to Dumbldore’s death, voiced through colds and weariness. I had to stop at six because life in Harry’s magic world was becoming too gruesome for my little guy.  Seven awaits on the shelf.  I have read many books to my middle schoolers over the last eight years.  Honestly, I have read The Alchemist out loud so many times the pages are separating from the binding.  Granted some books were repeats,  but still aloud to the most disconcerting bunch of humans, the incredulous middle schooler.  I have to mention that reading aloud one day to my favorite eight grade class, I was told I have great knees.  An interruption of the finest caliber and truth ;).  I also read the weekly Rob Brenzy horoscopes to my coworkers and my lovely assistant/counselor/confidant.

For the back story, my personal bibliophile tendencies were  aptly honed early due to my singular childhood existence.  Reading was a hobby and friend and to this day holds untold fortunes  of knowledge that I continue to appreciate and hunt.  I think armed with my love of reading I could make it in the reading-out-loud actor guild.  And maybe not as my primary career.  I am thinking a back up for my fledgling real estate entrepreneurship.

In full disclosure, I do look for alternate routes often.  Probably because I am a variety seeker.  Or I have a short attention span, or life is too short not to daydream about all the fun things I could do.  So, my next viable step is to google this newfound potential passion.

Holy bazooks!  This is not an easy type of gig.  I cannot just plop down on the couch and record my eloquent verbiage.  It’s hardcore.  There are many websites explaining the fierce competition and hours of read-acting classes.  My little nugget of hope is promptly dashed to a fleck of hope.  I hold in my back pocket the desire to read obscure literature.  Maybe things that people won’t admit they want read to them.  Like instruction manuals, IKEA directions, computer tech help.  But my further research accords a view into a cut throat realm of reading that I am not entirely sure I am up to.  Maybe, just maybe, I should concentrate on real estate.  And just as I am floating in my read acting bubble, I get business!

I have actually written and submitted TWO different offers on behalf of buyers.  I know!  Making my way.  Learning the ropes.  The first offer scared me so much, I had to pull out all my notes, light candles and have a glass of water at the ready for my nervous dry throat.  It went okay.  I made a couple of errors.  One buyer backed out, after proclaiming it was “killing” her to let it go.  Which brings up a funny thing, people and their words do not necessarily match their actions.  Common problem I have experienced.  It makes my internal creed of doing what I say I am going to do solidify each time I see and experience a fellow human do the opposite of their words.  The other buyer is still waiting to hear back from the listing agent.  Fingers crossed.

As a reflective human, I often wonder “what have I done with my life”.  And I don’t think that questioning myself is entirely pointless.  Some dense self-doubt and guilt has come of it as well as some clarity and calibration of my intentions.  This new adventure of real estate has my committed energy and my scheming back-up plans may remain daydreams for the time being.

For the record, I have been reading a lot lately.  It’s all the time I have not grading papers.  My recent reads from last month, #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, both gratifying reads in their own way.

 

They found the “one”.

Spring is here with gusto this week.  The tress are greening and the bulbs are bursting and Eugene is alive with new growth.  The weather has been fabulous!  Sunny with longer days.  There is a flurry of activity as we all come out of our winter coats.  It’s great.  I didn’t realize how much I missed the sun.

With all the spring-ness abound, it is open house frenzy.  My office had 5 open houses that I advertised on Facebook for this weekend.  Not only am I a newly licensed real estate broker, I am a social media specialist, wellness and service coordinator and office liaison.  So, I have my hands full with real estate.  Anyway, I help brokers advertise their open houses and this week I was able to get one of those open houses.  Woot!

The house: Built in the last decade, impeccably maintained, clean, organized, decorated, well-cared for, pleasant.  It is in the back of a new-ish subdivision and has no neighbors across the street because it is protected wildlife area.  Essentially, you walk out the front door and see green wetland wilderness that will not be developed.  The house smelled fresh and had an inviting feel.

I was doing this for another broker because I have no listings of my own at this moment and it makes me feel like I am doing something productive.  Kind of.  The owner was there when I arrived and she was polite and left quickly.  All my directional signs with balloons were leading the way to this gem.  It took people awhile to actually make it over.  I was there for about 45 minutes alone.  But, it had wifi.  This is good for a couple of reasons.  First, when no one is touring the house I can do work like schedule posts and work on my business social media.  Second, I can have my MLS up and be able to prospect and work my client profiles.  I was pleased for the wifi 🙂   I often think of life before internet. What a huge change in the real estate industry and education and life and our culture due to this intangible creation that we now all rely on.  And this makes me think of the invisible nautilus that is in the great tide pools at Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Groups of people standing out to see something that is literally invisible.  This is how I think of the internet,  invisible, yet so extremely awesome.  Sorry, I digress.

After 45 minutes, a couple walks in and they really like the house but they need RV parking. Sorry, not this house.  As I am talking to them I am thinking how I need them to sign the guest card.  But I really don’t want to ask them.  Instead, I give them a flyer I made which has my picture and contact info.  I feel this is like a card.  After the last round of hounding for a guest card my heart is to in it for their info.

Next, these two middle school boys walk in.  They are checking on the number of bedrooms.  I wonder should I be suspicious?  But, in my past life I dealt with this age group daily and they are actually sweet boys and one of them went to Borneo (cool). We walk around and chat about what they are looking for.  They leave with a handful of candies, I didn’t have time to get the cookies.  I know, I know.

Then this couple comes in.  It’s there first open house ever.  How cute is that?  They walk around the kitchen, which is big and spacious.  Another couple with kids walks in and I greet them.  The first time couple meanders upstairs.  I talk to the family and they are checking the house out.  They leave with my flyer.  The first time couple come back downstairs.  They are kind of whispery.  Another couple comes in.  They are up from Roseburg, know what they want, have a broker, take a flyer and leave.  The first time couple is outside walking around the house.  Another couple comes in from across the street.  They want to buy a second home, pre-approved, just haven’t found the right spot.  We chat about the school their kids go to.  I tell her you have my info on the flyer.  I have had not one person fill out a guest card.

The first time couple comes back in.  I ask how its going for them.  They have a look about them.  The wife wants it.  This is the “one”.  Now, it’s a crazy market here.  Things sell fast.  I ask if they know this.  They do.  Their broker texts as we are talking.  The wife steps outside to take the call.  She comes back and gets the husband to talk to their broker.  I overhear “docusign” and “do it today”.  They are excited and that made me excited.  I mention to the wife that the luck on their very first open house and she says this is their first home purchase ever.  First open house, first home and they are making the decision right in front of me.  This makes me think, what if they didn’t have a broker and needed me to make the offer for them.  Could I do it?  Well, the broker I am doing the open house for, a potential mentor, could help me.  But it stressed me out.  These super nice people who really want this house, could I handle that for them?

Well, they put in an offer and they backed out of the counter offer.  That energy they had and the look on their faces was pretty cool, I was really hoping for them.  After looking and waiting to find something you really want, but as I am quickly learning it is hard to be sure about anything in real estate.  It can be a long road and have many turns and this couple may make multiple offers on multiple homes before the find the “one”.  I have learned that you must wait until the funds are disbursed and the keys are in hand.  Still, it was pretty neat to be in the company of two excited, home buying hopefuls.  And it was great for me to reflect on my abilities.  Can I handle the excitement and hopes of people who may not get want they want?  The pressure of letting people down if their offer is beat?  Writing the offer?  I have been in this for three whole months.  That’s nothing in the lifespan of a career, have patience grasshopper.

I brought the cookies.

On this path of becoming a financially successful real estate broker, I need actual clients.  As I ask and learn, open houses are rated high for finding buyers and meeting people.  Great! I would like to have an open house.

To date, I have been a part of three open houses.

A couple things I learned that effect your open house experience.  The first is location.  The second price.  My first open house, I was an assistant and so happy I had the chance to observe.  It was in the half million price range and about 15 minutes on the edge of town. A nice house, single level, custom to the smallest detail with beautiful landscaping and quality, quiet location.  The broker who let me tag along, a pro, successful and classy, had her game.  She was dressed well and prepared.  She had her mobile office, comps and knew practically every house on the market.  Her knowledge of the market became evident later in the open house.  I brought the cookies and lots of questions.

The visitors slowly trickled in.  Great!  I was a tad nervous.  The first couple were so sweet and looked through the whole house and the yard.  They were friendly and spoke of selling their house first then buying.  I was like a shadow.  I watched and listened as the pro spoke of the coffer ceilings and the marble counters.  What is a coffered ceiling?  Oh boy, I have so much to learn.  She spoke of the design style and color palette.  Nothing pushy, all helpful.  Then she asked them to sign a guest card.  And they did.  This little act of filling out a guest card would prove problematic for me.

During this open house, multiple couples walked through.  I had to think that these people weren’t just average looky-Lou’s with the drive and price of the home.  One couple in particular walked in near the end of the open house.  The man was a tad grumpy and the woman had wet hair and both were dressed casually with sneakers and sweatshirts.  I watched as the pro spoke with them just as she had all the others.  The consummate professional sharing her knowledge.  When they went outside to check the land, I asked the pro what she thought of them.  She stated that they were serious.  I was kind of shocked.  How could she tell?  She explained it was the questions they asked.  Hmph.  I had completely misjudged.  And herein is a problem.

This couple came back in and we all gathered around in the kitchen.  The pro asked some questions about their real estate plans.  Why they want to move?  Grown kids heading to college, huge home and want to downsize.  Would they need to sell their home first?  No, they can have two homes for a bit, so nothing stopping them if they find what they want.  Have they been looking long?  Yes! Months.  And then they started speaking of properties on the market that were similar.  And this is when the pro stunned me with her market knowledge.  She asked about one place, oh they saw it and it had blah-blah was wrong with it.  They asked her had she seen a different property, she had and what a crazy color.  Then she asked about the one over by that road and what they thought of yadda-yadda.  And this back and forth of about ten properties went on for at least ten minutes.  I just observed and took mental notes.  KNOW YOUR MARKET!  Dang, that was crystal clear.  The pro knew her stuff and these folks knew their stuff.  It seemed like this was a match.

Once the open house was over, the pro sat down with me and shared her opinions about starting out.  I took actual notes.  I felt so, so green.  She shared her years of training she had in the corporate ideology and how she had to reprogram how she does business once she got out of that.  It is refreshing to hear the tales of someone I admire in their early days.  But it left me wondering, Is it going to take me 20 years to be successful?

I left that first open house brimming with optimism and the three guests cards that I would promptly follow up on.  It also allowed me to see my first problem in judgement.  I had not thought that couple the pro spoke with in detail about numerous properties were serious buyers.  Where did my snap judgement lead me astray?

My next adventure was a solo open house.  Solid location, priced too high.  The home was in good condition and backed up to a park.  I was running the show, I brought the cookies and a cute little sign I made asking people to complete a guest card.  Three brokers from other companies came, one actually tried to poach a guy looking at the house.  No joke!  The guy was just a looky-lou but still, no poaching.  Most people were friendly and one couple came back twice to see the house.  I was welcoming and asked questions but I had a hard time getting people to fill out my guest cards.  I felt like I was asking a lot of a stranger to give me their contact info.  Turns out people agreed that it was too much info to share.  I ended up with three fake emails.  Fakes!  I mean come on just leave it blank but to make it up?  Open houses are great places to find potential clients.  Your chances of actually selling the house you are hosting to a person who comes to the open house is rather low but the people who do come to an open house may need a broker.  That’s why the guest cards are important for the follow up consequently the need for the correct email.

Another lesson from an open house.  I was locking the door and heading off to collect my signage complete with balloons, when a car pulls up.  A lady walks to the door at which I am fiddling with the lock box.  She would like to see the house.  Of course I open it back up.  We had such a great conversation.  She explained her real estate luck in buying a house and waiting for years until the market was fab and making a sizable profit.  She was a teacher and we spoke of teaching, the joy, workload and love that teaching brings into your life.  It was  a genial talk.  She already had an agent and was looking for an income rental property.  After 30 minutes, we both left the house.  I drove away thinking, I may never sell her a house but we had a peachy chat.

My most recent and third open house was the smallest and smelliest yet.  It was overpriced in my opinion for the size and smell.  It also backed up to a different park and I actually live in this neighborhood and think it’s an awesome location.  But, it is about 13 minutes from downtown.  I arrived and opened every window.  I cranked up the thermostats and plugged in my soy wax melt.  I brought the cookies, cookies in a bowl and cookies is small boxes with my card taped to it.  I went to the neighbors on either side of the house being held open and invited them over.  Then I waited.  And waited.  It was cold.  I closed all the windows and walked around the house looking for the heat.  I didn’t see any vents or floor boards.  There was no central heating.  What was the deal?  There was a thermostat mounted on the wall in every room.  Around the time I had just scanned the whole house, one of the neighbors stops by.  He was cordial. I mentioned it was chilly and I had the heaters on but I didn’t know what was wrong.  He stated “ceiling heat”.   I would like to state for the record I am from Hawaii.  And heating and cooling are not one of my stronger skill sets.  I said “I don’t know”.  That’s all I had.  I did not comprehend his statement.  At this precise moment my trusty assistant/advisor/confidant (also from Hawaii) walks into the house to check on this open house event.  I told her it was cold and there seemed to be no heat and told her what the neighbor said.  She gave me a look, incredulous, could there really be heat coming from the ceiling?  With her height advantage, she reached up and sure enough the ceiling was warm!  Shut the front door!  Heat out of the ceiling!  Wait a minute…..Heat rises…..How would heat coming out of the ceiling heat the house?  At this point, I am positive the neighbor left thinking I was the DUMBEST real estate broker in town.  But really, heat from the ceiling?!

My third open house ended with a lovely woman who had also been a teacher explaining her life and real estate goals.  She too, already had a broker.  We talked about all kinds of things and I sent her on her way with a box of cookies with my card attached.  I headed home.  It was still a sunny day.  I have no new leads but I learned about ceiling heat and the importance of filing taxes to qualify for a loan.  I had leftover boxes of cookies that I shared with my neighbors.  And I had one more lump.

 

 

 

I got my real estate license! Now what?

After years of classroom teaching, I decided to go back to school and finish my masters degree.  I didn’t take a classroom and moved to Eugene.  I planned on being a college student, again… Well, what’s the saying about the best laid plans?  The month my teaching program was to begin  I was notified that it had been indefinitely postponed.  Via email. Hmph.  Now what?  We had recently jumped into the remodel game with a house that needed a lot of work.  I felt pretty confident I could sell that house.  I had bought a house and built and sold a house.  I saw what the agents did.  I thought I could do that.   I thought I could be a real estate agent.

Real estate school was easy to find with many options for my learning style.  It cost much less than the graduate tuition I was planning on paying, so I did it.  The material covered laws,  finance and fiduciary duty among many other things.  I finished in 10 weeks, tested a month later and became a newly licensed real estate broker.  Woohoo!! But how do I actually sell a home or better yet list a home for sale?  How do I actually make money at this?

In my new plans (even with high failure rate of my plans, I still make them), I thought if I could be an assistant I could learn the ins and outs of this industry that seems like people do so well in.  My assistantship turned into being a social media specialist  at a local real estate company.  Local is important in my opinion.  I have never been good at the corporate life.  The large companies seemed very competitive and expensive with all the desk and admin fees.  Seeing as I wasn’t  even sure how to actually sell a house, paying tons to work at a place seemed kinda crazy.

My new job as a social media specialist and office helper has been a tremendous learning curve.  I am involved in the daily real estate industry.  Skyslope, RMLS, RLID, Zipforms, all kinds of online tools for the industry.  There is so much coming at me.  My brain is pulsing with new growth and new connections.  There are a million acronyms (very similar to teaching), there are communication breakdowns and personality differences and people trying to make deadlines.  There are title and escrow people and lenders all stopping by and vying for the business.  Inspectors and stagers, clients and friends all come to the beautiful turn of the century house that is the business headquarters.

Social Media.  In full disclosure, I broke up with Facebook about five years ago because we had an unhealthy relationship.  I was out of the loop on that medium.  I did take to the ether with Instagram and Pinterest and felt rather comfortable in my abilities to promote business using said sites.  LinkedIn and Twitter, that was another game I hadn’t tapped.  Well, I jumped feet first.  I have and still due research best practices for social media.  How to engage and get followers.  Best apps for pictures and scheduling.  Facebook and I went through crash course relationship therapy, which really was me dealing with my self-doubt and self-judgement in a adult manner and always having a filter of “it’s a highlight reel”.   I needed to remember and relearn the delicacies of Facebook which is a constantly morphing entity.  I stay up at night thinking of Pinterest boards and Instagram ideas.  Twitter has not captured my heart, yet.   So my world of reflection on best teaching practices transformed into social media.  But how do I sell houses?

The question remains.  How do people actually sell houses?  I see the commission checks that I upload to Skyslope, I see the contracts and clients.  I know where I want to be, I just don’t know the route to get there.  So…..  I ask for directions.  Ugh, I know right.  I have decided to look to the agents who have experience, sales, and attitude that resonates with my style.  It can be tricky.  When I was teaching, I knew the game.  I knew how to be a good teacher and have real relationships and actually teach things.  Now, I am a newbie and it’s like starting all over.  My successes and knowledge I bring with me is only mine.  People don’t know me.  And this biz is all about getting to know people.

Directions of successful brokers, check.  Put my self out there, almost.  With my previous employment, teaching and bar tending, the people come to you.  They want what you have.  Or they are mandated by law to be there.  But with real estate?   It seems all about getting your face in front of people.  Having them remember you, to call you later when their friend needs to buy a house.  Let me add another layer to this conundrum.  I just moved to this city about 6 months ago.  I don’t family here, just making some friends and I don’t have the “sphere of influence” I would have if I lived here for years.  Well, this leads me to marketing.  How do I get my face in front of other peoples faces?  Hence the mailings and my friend Facebook.

Mailings?  Essentially junk mail (on recycled paper and earth conscience ink). It’s small postcards for me.  With handy info like when to switch our clocks and spring cleaning tips.  I don’t know if they work.  I have only sent out 200 post cards. It’s a wait and see thing with mailers.  And Facebook?  I jumped into the business pages of FB and paid for an ad.  I researched ads vs. boosts and felt pretty confident with ads.  I picked a weekend and tried it.  My adds reached almost 600 people and got one like.  One like!! My business page has almost 50 likes.  Now, I am not entirely sure how that translates into selling a house, but I am putting myself out there which were clear directions from successful brokers.

Can I explain putting my face out there for a smidge?  I am an awkward photographing subject.  There is something that happens when I know someone is taking my picture.  I clam up, make a weird face and it’s like the Hawthorne effect.  I get a weird picture because I act weird.  That being said, my trusty assistant/advisor/confidant patiently waited and snapped until we got a decent photo of my face.  It took four outfits and one melt down, but it happened.  And now?  My face is on 1000 business cards, the real estate website, my FB business page, mailers, newspaper ads, flyers and I am sure some other places.  Have you ever seen the same shot of your face up close daily?  It’s not easy.  I wonder how the direction giving seasoned pro’s do it.  Do they block it out or just come to some type of acceptance.  Is this my spiritual path that requires me to see my face and not pick out all the flaws?  

Oh, business cards.  There is something about giving a stranger a business card.  I feel imposing and vulnerable at the same time.  I get kooky and nervous at the thought.  So my assistant/advisor/confidant thought it would be good for us to go out one night and practice.  Okay, I can do this.  We were having a delicious cider at First National Tap House and I notice the woman next to me is eating a fabulous looking salad.  I start talking to her about it without the slightest intention giving her my card.  I was just chatting.  My assistant/advisor/confidant  whispers in my ear “give her your card”, twice.  Oh boy, the nerves punched me in the stomach.  I reach into my card case, still chatting about the salad or the weather, I don’t actually know due to the white noise nerves.  I get my card, thrust it in her face unceremoniously and announce in a louder than normal voice, “I like your style, if you ever want to buy or sell here’s my card!” then turn on a dime and hightail out of there.  That’s it.  I jabbed my card at her and ran.  My assistant/advisor/confidant thought it was ridiculous.  I had no warm up or chit chat about real estate.  I dropped the card and ran.  I still need A LOT of work on the savvy card sharing.  If it was more formal with head bowing and a known exchange procedure I think I could do much better.  Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have a more chances to practice.

The now what and the how to actually sell a house, turns out its a work in progress.  I went from knowing my exact paycheck and schedule to the unknown.  It’s thrilling and terrifying.  It’s like when you are going to jump off something really high into water.  The moments you are on the edge, looking down.  You know it could be so fun.  Or you could slap the water with the weight of the world pulling you down.  It’s exhilarating!  You have a chance to turn around.  You could just walk into the water, why jump from high.  And herein lies the existential rift.  Safety and security versus big splashes and freedom.

I have always been a jumper.

business card