The Doctor Is In

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I received an email offering “1 on 1 counseling”. All I had to do was respond via email with some details and if it was a good “match” I would receive free counseling from this person. I have no idea who they are, what their credentials are, and no faith they could offer me any meaningful guidance. I contemplated responding just for fun…

The first question was “Why do you wish to have counseling?” My answer to that…well, I wasn’t thinking about it. I have tried “Counselors” in the past, but tend to think I gain more from introspection, mediation, reading the works of people like Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and the like – and just plain old common sense.

The next thing was to provide “a resume of your life so far” and a “synopsis of your current life situation”. Well – that is almost comical. No one would believe my crazy life. It’s like a series of lifetime movies all strung together. Not pretty. To sum it up as briefly as possible…here goes…

I was born in Texas. My mother left my biological father and met and married a Jewish software developer from Beverly Hills who was going through his hippie phase. They decided to be hippies together in southern California for a time taking me to love ins and peace marches and I stepped over junkies to get to the bathroom. They thought it was okay to get me high and teach me to roll dime bags. This led to them neglecting me and leaving me to fend for myself although I was not yet in first grade. Then they decided to buy a farm in the Appalachian mountains…live off the land – revolt against “the man”. We showed up at the “farm” in a Cadillac with our microwave oven and water bed to a sharecropper shack with no running water. They named it Genesis. Thus began a series of years of them learning first to survive that very rural environment and then to farm. In second grade my routine was to get up early – 4:30 or 5 in the morning to do my chores before getting myself ready for school. Stress they were experiencing caused them to become very abusive and even more selfish parents. (One of the ways I was punished was to be denied food for days – which created a lifelong “food issue”.)

My brother was born. My mother attempted suicide. We moved to town and my “dad” went back to work in the software field. My mother started her own business and I was left to take care of the household responsibilities and caring for my little brother and myself. At age 12 I woke up one morning with big boobs and had no way of knowing how to deal with the lude, crude remarks and attention I was suddenly receiving. I had to beg a girlfriend to give me one of her bras because my parents didn’t believe in them and wouldn’t buy me one at first even though I was being teased at school at ogled by men everywhere. I was molested by a family friend, attacked by the farmer who was boarding my horse and then came very close to being abducted by a man in a van. When I was 14 we moved to New England. My “dad” had gotten a high paying job for his software talent and decided he was done playing hippie. Underneath, much to my mom’s surprise, was a Republican work-a-holic. She was left in a big fancy house with a pool and tennis courts (I know your heart breaks for her) all alone in a new part of the country with no friends. She was expected to be a “corporate wife”. It was no longer acceptable to pop pills and “hang out”. Her artistic soul didn’t even know how to cope. So she drank. She drank a lot. He was verbally, mentally and physically abusive and neglectful and she was lost in her own world.

At 16 I started a couple of businesses, quit school, moved out…I eventually fell into a career, got married way too young, promptly had three children. My mother and father split up when the drinking made her sick – actually that was a “pc” way to say it…he abandoned her. She ended up being murdered by an abusive boyfriend after several stints in and out of rehab. I stuck out my marriage for 24 years to a bi-polar man because 1) we had children and 2) I really thought if I worked hard enough I could fix it – fix him. I spent my marriage devoted to raising my children in a caring, compassionate, conscientious manner. I was the primary breadwinner and the housekeeper and the school volunteer…I did it all. I just kept thinking if I work harder, work smarter, try harder, keep trying…I could make a life that was okay. My “dad” has remarried. I don’t speak to him much. He caused me enormous pain throughout my life and takes zero responsibility – he thinks he’s just awesome. My divorce was long, so incredibly emotionally draining I can’t even describe it, and hard but it was by far the smartest thing. I treat him like a friend because he is my children’s father but I am thankful every day that I don’t have to deal with him daily any more. The ups and downs of bi-polar is a story all in itself. He will always be my children’s father and I will be kind and decent and not tear him down to them. They have their own relationship issues to work through. At least they have someone they can call and talk to when their dad is manic and no one else understands those challenges or what it means. I will have his back and explain again what is beyond his control, encourage getting back on the meds, and support them in their interactions with him.

I am in a relationship right now…he is smart, kind, caring and loving…although it started on false pretenses and he lied to me the first 2 years I was involved with him. It’s shocking that I forgave him for the first two years of our relationship. His lies put me through enormous stress and caused me to make decisions I would not have made otherwise. We started fresh last year. I guess I forgave him because he makes me feel not only loved but “adored”. That feels really good. I’m cautious though. He doesn’t know it but I am always checking. Checking to see if he’s lying, see if he’s emailing or calling someone that I don’t know about. I’m still the primary breadwinner…I’m really fucking exhausted – I wish someone else would do it and take care of me…but at least he’s thoughtful. He has no parents (of course neither do I at this point), he has a sad life story of abandonment and abuse. We don’t speak of those things. We just be nice to each other – which is all either of us has ever wanted anyone to do. He is sensitive to my idiosyncrasies because he has some himself. He doesn’t judge them. It’s okay with him if I feel the need to have a fully stocked, highly organized pantry yet may not eat. And I will show him love and kindness even when he feels unworthy of it. We are both broken people in some ways. It’s okay.

I have fibromyalgia. The first symptoms started when I was about 7. I didn’t know what it was for a very long time. Doctors always had explanations for the current ailment presented to them…weak ankles, overstressed ligaments, TMJ, anemia. It took almost a lifetime to connect all the problems and understand what it is and was. There is no “cure”. Sometimes I can forget I have it but as I have gotten older it’s gotten worse. So my work-a-holic self can’t walk some days or the fibro fog sets in and I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing (thank goodness I am a list making control freak). It’s very frustrating when I can’t remember words I want to use. This year my goal is to de-stress more, do more yoga and eat more healthfully to minimize the fibro problems as much as possible. I have a photographic memory…I used to be able to rattle off phone numbers and always know the bank balance…my ex-husband used to get so pissed off when I started not being able to – of course I didn’t know what was wrong yet. I just knew I was so stressed I couldn’t think straight and my brain was failing me.

Now as I begin what I assume to be the second half of my life…I am happy. I control my own environment. I make choices for me. My children are grown. I don’t have to please or take care of them…that’s their job now. I don’t have to please or take care of a husband. I can focus on my business as much or as little as I like. I can eat what I like, go where I want to…be who I am. No excuses. No apologies. I live in a big house overlooking the Puget Sound and being there makes me happy. I still have a few messes to clean up from the past but I will do it in my own way and in my own time.

I am responsible for my own happiness.

So do I need counseling? Probably. But that’s okay.

I’ve squeezed an enormous amount of “life experience” into my time here. I’ve learned a lot. I could probably teach a counselor a thing or two. Especially about forgiveness and resilience. I can’t blame anyone else for my life. I have a spiritual belief that we choose our parents and our basic life path before we are born based on what we need to grow spiritually. It doesn’t make some things any less heartbreaking. But how I react to it – my response, is my choice. Parents do the best they can with the tools they have. It’s all anyone can expect.

It’s not you…it’s me.

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Why do the men in my life always think they want to work for me? It just doesn’t work. It really doesn’t.  I’ve said it before – I’ve known it before. It’s not them – it’s me.

I’m not sure why this always happens. My business, I guess, looks interesting…good money, flexible hours…but it’s stressful. Things must be very precise. There are rules, expectations, and laws. I vowed after my divorce not to have anyone I am in a relationship work with or for me again. My daughter is the only exception I can make. She understands the business and understands me. She doesn’t take offense to one word answers and time pressures. Well, I take that back – she got a different job so maybe she did.

The problem is or the problems are…

1)      I am a perfectionist. I expect and deliver as close to perfection as I can. I expect too much of employees that I’m in a  relationship with. If I hire Joe Blow off the street, I assess their strengths and weaknesses and assign them tasks they can handle. I make my expectations clear. Do your job, do it when and how I expect, and life is good. If I’m in a relationship with someone they always think they can assess their own strengths and weaknesses and expand their job. I find it annoying if you try to think for me…I don’t even really want you to think for yourself – just do the task, the way I want, when I want and life will be good. I know how it needs to be done.

2)      I have a stressful job. I am short sometimes with people who work for me. I don’t want to waste time with a bunch of nonsensical, meaningless conversation. I work long hours, have too many calls to return and more things that need to be done than I will probably be able to accomplish during the day and if I do manage to complete the daily list I have another longer term list waiting for my attention. I don’t have time for “sweet nothings” at work. Yes, it may make me seem like a bitch. That’s why you shouldn’t work for me. I should see you after work.

3)      I have a hard time being sexually attracted to someone who works for me. I don’t know why…it’s just not sexy. I need you to have a job you’re good at that has nothing to do with me and pays your own way in life…I want you to be my equal not my subordinate. The only way you bring something to the table is if you know my business better than me and can mentor me in some way to the next level. You don’t. You can’t.

4)      The whole relationship balance gets thrown off. I already get accused of behaving too much like a male in relationships. When you need my attention and affection during the work day, it just feels needy. I don’t need or want clingy and needy. I would like someone to give me the illusion of taking care of me once in a while…granted I don’t “do” clingy or needy but you can anticipate my needs or do something to “take care of me”…right? Let’s just go back to light-hearted and silly and let me be the girl – okay?

5)      We end up talking about work 24/7 because you’re involved and curious. I need a break. When I’m with my significant other it needs to be fun…non-work conversation or life strategy non-work conversation.

6)      I’ve been here before. Working with me while in a relationship with me leads to the man beginning to think of the business as “ours”. That’s a problem. For so many reasons.

The solution is…don’t allow it. No matter how much they try to convince me. It just doesn’t work. Trouble is, firing the person I’m in a relationship with always puts a strain on it. Maybe I can learn to do that better…

Dear Buddy,

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Dear Buddy,

We’ve been together for 2 months now. Let’s review…

I had a moment of weakness when I thought it would be a good idea to get another dog in the house. The one I already had was and is fabulous…actually amazing. She never barks, arranges her potty schedule around my needs, is loyal and loving, cute…and did I mention NEVER barks?

In this aforementioned “moment of weakness”, it occurred to me she might like to have a furry companion. Someone to maybe play with. Someone she could just pal around with and set a good example for. Now that she’s 9 years old, she never even plays. If I throw something for her, she will glance in the direction it landed and look back at me as if to say “it’s over there if you want to go get it”. Another dog to remind her she actually is a dog…not a furry princess.

Your ad said you were “energetic”. I now know this was a code word for completely psychotic. Not only do you have energy, but you practically bounce off the walls when you aren’t busy jumping straight up in the air repeatedly. Your people that gave you up said they “were moving to a place that didn’t allow pets and that is why they were forced to give you up”. In reality I suspect they moved because you had peed on everything they owned for 2 ½ years, barked incessantly at everything… the dryer, the dishwasher, the doorbell, random cars that dare to drive on the street, cats, birds, your own reflection, noises…even imaginary ones…and they were moving to a clean, quiet home without you in it.

I did not go into this endeavor completely unprepared. A little naive perhaps, but not unprepared. I have completely raised three intelligent and strong-willed children. I have had numerous pets including cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, goats, birds, pigs, and a rat. I have stamina and courage. I have hosted gatherings with people of all ages in attendance – some quite large. I once prepared and served a sit down dinner for 50 people in my home without a working oven! I have tackled the impossible countless times and made it look easy. You need 4 dozen cupcakes baked for a school thing in the morning that you forgot to tell me about until 11pm the night before – no problem, I’m your girl. You need sponsors to rescue a charity event that’s not going well in 24 hours – I got you. I can handle anything. I can handle a 6 pound dog!

I have done my best to make you feel at home. I showed you around. I play with you. I feed you. I showed you where the water dish is and refill it many times each day. I have taken you out to potty at all hours of the day and night and showed extreme tolerance when you shower me with dirt while you are doing said “pottying”. I have reassured you that you don’t need to bark non-stop every waking moment and wake up throughout the night to bark for no reason. I have attend to your every little need. I have watched The Dog Whisperer. I know how to be a pack leader. I have googled numerous times to figure out the causes and solutions for your psychological distress. I have been patient and understanding…I have assumed perhaps you were not taught the rules. But you’re smart, so I have had faith you would catch on. I say “come” – you run the other way. I take you potty and you promptly come in and somehow find a way to potty again inside. Somehow you have confused the word “treat” to mean come and I refuse to reinforce it but at least I have a back up plan if we have another “escape into traffic while mom’s in her pajamas moment”. I haven’t even had a full night of sleep since you arrived.

Let’s just recap for a moment the financial undertaking this has been. The cost of you $300. The dog bed you needed so you didn’t take away the princess’s $89.99 The second one I had to buy because getting yours made me realize how dingy the older one looked…another $89.99 The organic no junk in them dog treats I had to get $42.59, Toys $56.21, The “Thundershirt” to ease your anxiety and fearfulness $39.99 The cleaning of the custom drapes you insisted on urinating on repeatedly after you had already been out $127.50, the fact I have to have them done again $127.50…we won’t even discuss what the potential damage is to the bedroom chaise and the master bedroom sitting area sofa as I am preferring not to think about it yet. Three different kinds of carpet cleaner – we’ll just ballpark that at $15. The brand new Hoover carpet cleaner I had to purchase due to your bad potty manners $289.99 The “Peekeeper” diaper I just ordered overnighted for you to try and protect the rest of my stuff $47.68. That comes to $1,226.44 plus tax so roughly $1,330 spent on you in 60 days to help ease your transition into a new family. $22 a day. I could probably take care of a small village in a foreign country for that…or at least sponsor a couple of kids. Thank God I haven’t been foolish enough to leave my Louboutins or Pradas laying around to become your chew toy…and for that reason and probably that reason alone, you are still alive.

My guy hates you. He wanted to love you but you bark and growl at him. The princess hates you. You make her house smell like pee and you take attention away from her. The gardener hates you. The mailman hates you. The FedEx man hates you. The neighbors hate you. My carpet and furniture hate you. The little flowery bush thing you pee on many times a day hates you…it died. The construction workers you tried to attack through the car window at 5th and Mercer hate you. The person I was talking to on the phone when you thought there was someone at the door hate you. Everybody hates you Buddy.

Yes, she is looking at your with loathing in her eyes…she can’t believe what a barking dumb ass you are. 4

You are a tyrant. It has to stop. Lucky for I am extremely stubborn. I don’t give up on things easily – just ask the ex-husband…I tried working with his tyrannical jerk ass for 24 years before I gave up. He’s still not house-broken. I do have faith in you, but I don’t have another 24 years to waste. You just have to want to change…in my best Jerry Maguire voice…”help me help you”.

I am a sucker for the face you give me – cocking your head to one side with one crazy tooth popping out from your lip. I’m sure it’s not your fault you act the way you do. I’m sure you will eventually bend to the rules of this house and civility. You better. Please hurry. I think my guy has already started composing the Craiglist ad for an “energetic” little dog who needs a kind and loving home.

Sincerely,
Your exhausted owner… strike that…Your exhausted servant

On Purpose, Accidentally

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I started my career by accident.

I started my first business when I was in high school…and the second…and third.

I left school at 16 because 1) I was bored, 2) I was anxious to get out in the world and make money and be independent, 3) my dad made it clear he had no money for my college education and that I wouldn’t qualify for any sort of assistance because he made too much money (I now know that was inaccurate – but whatever) and 4) because I found out by law I was allowed to…and it was an independent act…my way of flipping off the system. We will chalk that last one up to teenage rebellion at its finest.

I also announced I was moving out of my parent’s home…which actually took a little finagling after my announcement because I wasn’t old enough to sign a lease. I convinced (aka coerced) my mother into co-signing and moved into an apartment in a suburb of Boston. A two room “studio” with a shared bathroom down the hall. Yes folks, she was a handful.

After a series of insignificant little jobs that sounded “fun” – waitressing, working at a stamp company preparing the packages of collectible postage stamps to send out to collectors, as well as running the businesses that I had started – a software training business, a “high end” flower arrangement and delivery service, and an “Executive Home Management” business where I did everything from housecleaning to decorating and organization for software engineers that worked 100 hour weeks and didn’t even have time to unpack their boxes after being recruited, I went to work for a software company.

I started out as a secretary, then went to product QA and QC (I have a knack for being able to consistently break software programs…not much of a marketable gift), then was asked to evaluate and review all the competitor’s software (I have another knack for learning software very quickly), then asked to help write a software manual that would be fun to read and easy to understand (haha!), then asked to train the sales staff on the software the company had developed so they could understand it well enough to sell it.  After training the sales staff someone came up with the idea that I should travel to Fortune 500 companies with the sales people and “answer technical questions” and lead training seminars for the employees of the companies that purchased the software. I was 17. Then 18…still not able to accompany my coworkers to the bar at the end of the day. I was flying up that corporate ladder at incredible speed! Moved to a larger, better apartment. Began my love of fine clothes, had my first taste of Chateau Lefite, and became forever and irrevocably a traveler in First class. (Please, pretty  please don’t ever ask me to fly coach – it is truly unbearable. Once you’ve gone First class, you can’t ever go back…I’ve tried)

This was my first exposure to “sales” and I learned. I learned a lot. I was somewhat shy and very quiet, but I watched, and analyzed and saw for the first time the way of the world. The “Good old boys” club, the mentality of people in business. I was shocked and appalled by some of it. I had the misguided notion that I, even as female, could do anything I chose – be anything. I discovered there were rules I had not known – one of which was women were discounted. Perceived as less capable. Perceived as “temporary” until they got a husband and had kids. I discovered there were limits to what companies would allow me to do in my job based upon age and sex rather than intelligence and drive. I discovered a college education might actually mean something. I also discovered “office politics”. I think they appalled me the most. When I thought I had seen more of them than my young eyes could bear, I confronted the CEO about them (note: that is not usually a wise idea). He invited me to leave the company. (another note: quite a blow to the ego…I was the one who quit things. Things or people didn’t quit me!) As it turned out, I found out a decade later that was actually more office politics as I have been told it was to anger my father not as real retribution for pointing out the evilness within!

I promptly went to work for another software company but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I was taking college classes at night (that I paid for myself) and working full time. Life was getting very dull. I complained to my mother that I was “burned out”. She suggested I should become a real estate agent. She said  that I could “drive a nice car and show pretty houses to nice people”. It would be fun. She always had fun when she looked at houses. I decided that would be fine. I could use some of the things I had learned about sales. I would make some money, set it aside and then be able to go to school full time to become a lawyer.

The day I got my real estate license my parents announced they were moving to Seattle and that I should come with them. Move away from snow up to my ass every winter? Okie Dokie…count me in! Silly girl assumed West Coast meant warm and promptly gave away all her woolen clothing and down coats! Cut me some slack…Google hadn’t been invented yet. I had no clue how cold dampness could be, or how damp Seattle really was!

I did what was needed to get another real estate license to again begin the “fun” job mom suggested. I knew just enough of sales to be dangerous…mostly to myself. I decided what company I would work for and took them my license. I chose a company that had a woman in charge of the office. Perhaps I would finally find a mentor. She must have thought I was totally nuts – instead of being interviewed by her, I interviewed her. I wanted to know how long she had been in real estate sales, how many properties she owned, what the income potential and limitations were with her office (that is actually really funny if you know the business), and when I could start. I got myself a brand new Mercedes (nice car – check) and did all the little things to begin selling real estate. Got the signs, the real estate key to get into the houses, etc. Then I went into her office and said (seriously I did this) “I got my nice car (dangling the Mercedes keys in the air), where are the nice people I am going to show pretty houses to?” In retrospect, she should have burst out into laughter and laughed so hard she would fall off her chair. Instead she said to this exuberant 20 year old child “You will need to find some nice people to show pretty houses to and find some people who want to sell their pretty houses to nice people. Training doesn’t start until next month, you could always just try going through the phone book while you wait. Make some calls.”  Wow – cold calling! way to throw a kid to the wolves! I did just that…made cold calls from the phone book. After a week I went into her office in tears. I told her “Apparently I really suck at this job. It’s been a week and I still have no sales.”  The tears caught her off guard I think. (Note: I am against crying in business. I have done it exactly twice. No crying at work!!) She explained many agents don’t get a sale for 6 months when they first start. She also suggested a few more humane ways I might get some business rolling.

The following year I decided it was time to get married. I was getting old – I was 21 already. Time was slipping by. I was going to end up an old maid with a condo full of cats. So I found someone that I thought had “potential” to make something of himself and make a life for us and was married 6 months later. Yes, I am aware of how much is wrong with those last four sentences. (Actually, I had expected I woud marry a Jewish man with a career path already established…but I hadn’t found one in this part of the country. And yes, still aware of the wrongness.)

I devoted myself to encouraging my husband in his business endeavors. I put my license on “ice” and promptly gave birth to three children. After becoming disillusioned with is attempts at several professions, he decided he would do what I did when we met and married and get his real estate license. I thought to myself “I can really help him do this…I know how to do this!” Listening to him on the phone trying to sell real estate made me crazy. I was in the background whispering “close them…they need you to close them”, “ask for the business…they aren’t going to give it to you if you don’t ask”. I knew what he should say and how it should be said. Yet not having my license active, I couldn’t do it for him. So, with two still in diapers I got licensed again.

My intention was to show him how to do it. How to be successful. I ended up doing all the work and putting his name on it. At first I was trying to build his self-esteem and confidence, but over time he acted like it was all him and I was just his secretary. He acted entitled to my services. Gave no credit where credit was due. It pissed me off. So I went my own direction with my license. Thus began my “accidental” career.

I decided with all the time constraints of my children and volunteer activities that it made the best sense for me to find banks who needed to sell their foreclosed homes. If I listed homes instead of showed them…and if I worked for people who didn’t expect me to come see them or be available to them nights and weekends…that would be best. I could put the kids in the car and go do what I needed to do. I began building a business as an “REO agent”. This was long before the economic crisis that caused many agents to jump into REOs later. I have specialized in these homes for a very long time. (There are REOs in every economic time) These bank owned properties needed rubbish removed (called trash out) and cleaning and yard work. I started a business on the side to be able to perform these tasks on my assigned properties and bill for it. Both businesses grew. After a while I had to buy a dump truck and hire workers. My kids were always in the back seat…playing with contracts and real estate books and their pretend cell phones. They have helped me load garbage and shovel cat crap. They grew up in the middle of my business. I wouldn’t have had it any other way…I wanted to spend time with my kids – mold and shape them…and I wanted as well as needed to work. It was balanced…in an imbalanced sort of way! I don’t know yet if it’s a good thing or a bad thing for them to have grown up alongside a workaholic mother that was also a helicopter mom. I guess that’s for them and their future shrink to figure out when they list all the ways I damaged them!

Eventually I hired my husband to run the trash out company. I was tired of the heavy physical labor and garbage and knew I could build the business even bigger if I devoted more of my time to finding more banks and more REOs to list. Which I did. I hired more people for more aspects of the business.

Meanwhile my marriage deteriorated and eventually disintegrated altogether as my husband struggled to bring in money and fought what I later learned was bi-polar disorder. I just kept juggling…kept working…kept bringing in the money to support the family. I learned you can’t fix bi-polar, you can’t fix lack of intelligence… you actually can’t fix someone else. Period. Don’t get me wrong – I’m no saint. I am a strong willed, driven woman. I probably emasculated my husband. He was old school – wives do what the husband says. I tried to be compliant…I really did…for far too long. I really thought if I worked hard enough I could be the “perfect” wife, “perfect” mother and run a business. I did it all and all at the same time, and I survived. And I’m sure it was far from perfect.

I have learned a lot as a woman “boss”. Mostly what not to do! I have come to terms with the fact that I am a bit of a control freak. The people around me can deal with it – or not…their choice. I have learned to delegate. I enjoy delegating now. I am thankful my business has grown and that I was able to support a household and put three children through college and given them an opportunity to travel abroad. I work 12-18 hour days for months on end and have for decades. I am focused. I don’t expect the people who work for me to be that over the top…if they were they would run their own company. I answered the general phone today rather than letting it go to voicemail and have someone return the call later. It was a “regular” person with a “regular” real estate need, which is what got me thinking about all of this and reminded me of where I am.

I continue to grow and gently redirect my business as things change. But I do realize I have created a business in a very strange little subsection of the industry. I am not a “normal” real estate broker. I have to laugh when someone tries to sell me on-line advertising so I come up when you google an agent for a particular neighborhood or area…so not me. I work everywhere. For institutional clients only. I am the one who has dealt with the mess and all the personal property left behind after a suicide (more times than I care to admit). I am the one who has reassured the lawyer being evicted “this can happen to anyone – you’re going to be okay”. I’m the one who returned the cable boxes that were going to show up on someone’s credit for the next decade. I’m the one who sent all the household goods left behind to the battered women’s shelter instead of the dump because it was the right thing to do. I’m the one getting the crack house or the meth lab cleaned up. I’m the one dealing with the abandoned pets.  I’m the one dealing with the aftermath of life when it has taken a wrong turn. Sometimes I can hire enough people to put space between myself and all these things…but I handled them myself for so many years that I am forever changed. People make choices. All day…every day. Some are good. Some are not.

Thankfully I’m growing the business in a direction now where there is less of that to contend with. I did it and I did it with compassion, but I am ready for less “in your face” dysfunction. Now when I get them, they are empty. They are ready for marketing. I spend more time teaching than I had anticipated, but as the industry changes it has to be done. I’m up for the challenge. As I teach agents how to market and sell bank owned property, I would like to think to some I am able to pass on the idea that it isn’t always about the money. There’s merit to a job well done. There’s pride in skillfulness. I see some of them waltz by with their humongous egos…I just chuckle inside…been there – done that. There is always someone higher up on the food chain, you’re just not always aware they are there.

My little subset of the world is so different from “normal” real estate that it’s a completely different animal. Even negotiation is different…I will use your client’s emotions to get the terms my client wants – sorry…my client doesn’t have emotions. And yes, I will use your emotions and your desire for a paycheck also…sorry. I will give my client exactly what they want – mainly efficiency and money. As a “normal” agent, you will give your clients what they want…warm fuzzies or an ego boost and a place to call “home”.  And yes, contractually I will nail your client’s ass to the wall. Sorry – it’s just business. You probably got the job where you get to ”show pretty houses to nice people”.

 

Wrapping up the year~

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It’s that time again…(actually I am running a little late). Time to make a business plan for the new year. It’s a very important thing. Really it’s very crucial to achieving your goals. The Universe is funny that way – if you are clear with your intentions, stars align, matter shifts…things happen to make your intentions a reality – Even when you have gotten busy with the day to day tasks and forgotten to focus on your intention.

One example of this I find amusing is one day I was having lunch at a little place on the water in a town I had never been to. I was looking at the water, enjoying my meal, basking in the pure delight I felt at that moment – in that place – I saw total beauty in that setting and in that little waterfront community and was filled with a sense of joy and peace. I said out loud to the person I was with “I love it here. I would really like to live here. I would be very happy to see this view every day. ” I went into great detail about the kind of house I would want there and what it would feel like to me. It was completely impractical at that moment as my business had me working 2 hours North and I had just been through a very nasty divorce that took a big financial toll. Two years later I was unpacking boxes in my new home looking at the water view with pure delight and I remembered in a flash…this is the community I had said I wanted to live in and forgotten about. This is the view I said I wanted to see every day. I didn’t make that an every day focused intention – I just threw it out there…and it happened. Stars aligned…matter shifted…opportunity knocked – I seized it pretty much sight unseen and magically it turned out to be exactly what I said I wanted. Shocked the heck out of me!

There are many beliefs about proper construction of a yearly business plan. For me it has always been first determining the numbers from the previous year. Actually I keep track of them all year long, but I still have to tally the final sales. I think as a business person you should always know your numbers. Where did your business come from? How much did you sell? How much did it cost you? Is your business likely to be the same next year or different? Do you want it to be the same? How much did you reinvest in the business? How much more should you reinvest?

My belief is you need to have an overview first. A basic outline of what you want your business to look like…who you clients/customers are, be clear on what product or service you provide, what sets you apart from the competition, and how you want your business to be as far as size, attitude, and market share. Once you have the outline, you need to get specific. What numbers do you have to reach to reach your goals? What does that look like on a monthly level? What has to be done to achieve that monthly level consistently? What changes have to be made in procedure to achieve those monthly levels? How much do you plan on spending for operation, support, advertising, etc.?

I think it’s important to have a personal plan for the year as well. What do you want to achieve financially? Personally? Do relationships need to change at all? Plan vacation time ahead of time or it won’t happen.

Intention, especially written, is such an amazingly powerful thing. I used to write down what I wanted to accomplish for the year (because I was told to), then toss it in a drawer until it was time to do it again. It amazed me how many times I would pull it out and low and behold most everything I had intended, had happened. When I became more clear and more focused on writing more powerful intentions, they worked even better! What’s that saying? Be careful what you wish for, for you will certainly get it. It is absolutely true!

This year my plan includes a big shift in my business. It’s a risky, gutsy move…all my eggs in one basket so to speak. I’ve made gutsy moves before. Other people thought I was making a mistake. They worked out well for me…so I’m hopeful I’m doing the right thing and everything will work out. If it doesn’t, well…I will cross that bridge if I need to.

I’m off to write my plan…

think happy.be happy.

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It’s the little things.

It’s the little things in life that bring me the greatest pleasure. Italian coffee from a French press. A perfectly toasted bagel with cream cheese, fresh avocado and a slice of vine ripened tomato with fresh ground pepper (lox optional but enjoyed). The sound of a Bang & Olefsen stereo and music that you feel reverberating through your body and your soul. The sight of the ocean in the morning…or the evening…or anytime. Hunting for treasures at low tide. Ocean breeze. The feel of a Porsche cornering in the curves of the pass. The touch of a really good lover. My ugly as shit but super comfy Ugg boots. The classic lines created by Louboutin basic black heels. The satisfaction of a skillfully negotiated deal. High thread count sheets. The look of adoration in my dog’s eyes. The first snow of the season. The smell of the woods. Genuine laughter. The deep, sultry taste of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Hollendaise sauce. Laying on your back under a Christmas tree looking up. A medium rare steak. Yoga. Witnessing an act of selfless kindness. Feeling loved and cherished.

Those are the things I appreciate. That’s what I will miss when my life is over.

Powerful Women

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Powerful Women

The role of women has changed over the years. We are now in charge of so much more…we literally bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan to quote the old commercial of my youth. It’s hard being the female boss. It’s different than it is for men. We have to somehow balance giving direction, setting clear expectations and holding folks accountable without being deemed a “bitch”. Particularly when dealing with men who work for you…I have found what works best for me is to take the stance Caesar, the Dog Whisperer, takes. Calm assertiveness. Not too much explaining, no apologizing, clear instructions and expectations, not too friendly…just calm, assertive, in charge. The ones that don’t like it are free to find another job 🙂 I’m not running my business to be your friend or your mother. Do your job and do it well…that is all.

Silent Night…

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Silent Night...
Thoughts on Motherhood
When you become a mother your life is forever changed. You do your best to nurture and protect this person who grew inside you. You do your best to balance letting the child have enough independence to grow and mature into an adult yet everything in your body says to hang on tight and never let go. Every accomplishment they have gives you a deep sense of pride – it’s even better than if you accomplished the thing yourself. Every tear they shed means two for you as their mother because you want so desperately to protect them from the bumps and bruises of life. It’s pretty much like having your heart walking around outside your body….forever.