Oprah & Marilyn–Two of a Kind!

And then today….

I celebrate the 62nd birthday of one of my favorite people, my niece Marilyn.  I’m always reminded of Marilyn’s birthday, because she was born on the very same day as someone else I admire very much–Oprah!  Today they are both 62.

We all know about the many accomplishments of Oprah and how she’s helped change the world in a most positive way!

Marilyn’s changed the world in a most positive way too, and her quiet successes have come in many different ways.

As the oldest daughter in a family of eight children, nurturing has always been a given with Marilyn as she helped to raise her younger siblings.  She continues to be the glue in the family bonds that tie the generations together.

It was no surprise when compassionate Marilyn studied nursing and for many years she has worked as a hospice nurse.  As a hospice volunteer for several years, I know from experience that the hospice health care workers are cut from a different mold and indeed very special people.

Marilyn lives each day to the fullest and in recent years has enjoyed trips to Greece (her husband’s homeland) and deep sea diving in Cozumel.  She gathers friends all along the way.

I am so glad to have Marilyn live nearby.  I wish Oprah could meet her too!  I’m sure they would comprise a mutual admiration society.


Top Ten Tips Selling Real Estate

And then today…

I began reflecting on the fact that I am beginning my 29th year (yikes) in real estate sales.  Recently, a young woman asked me about my job and if I would recommend it as a career for her.

I became a realtor by accident.  While we were expanding and remodeling our home, I needed studio space to continuing making my soft sculptures–Marli Originals–and, as I rented space in a realtor’s building, she twisted my arm to get my real estate license.

I was “burning out” on the art shows, and the timing could not have been better, as it turned out, because the housing boom was about to begin!   My highest  honor was 2003 when I  received the Prudential Real Estate Chairman’s Circle award and was featured with other top 8% producers in the Wall Street Journal.   Not bad for a pig farmer’s daughter, I thought, and wished I could tell my dad.

Looking back, I realize I was “flying by the seat of my pants” in the frenzy of the good years, but the following ten tips (in no special order, just as they bounced into my head) are all important for my continued success:

  1.  HONESTY      You just can’t fake it.  I’ve seen others get caught in lies.  Honesty is everything in building your reputation.
  2.  INTEGRITY    You have to do what you say you’re going to do, and you want to surpass your client’s expectations with a few creative surprises.
  3. TECHNOLOGY     You need to love technology and embrace it in every facet of your work.  You need to keep up with the latest and greatest.
  4.  MONEY     You need to realize it can take months, sometimes years, before you get your first sale.  Also, it costs money up front for all your fees including insurance, MLS, and dues.  Remember, it takes money to make money!  Plan for it.
  5. OFFICE    Although most realtors work independently from home, you need to be part of an office where you get “on the spot” support and work with people you trust.  Also, it’s a bonus if there’s good humor in the room and good candy in the dishes.
  6. CLIENTS     Always remember who you are working for and keep their best interests in mind at all times.  We are talking about major life choices when we are buying & selling real estate.  It’s someone’s home!
  7. LAWYERS, LENDERS, INSPECTORS   Set up a support system of individuals you can trust.  Contrary to some thinking, there are no kick-backs with referrals.  You are just helping your clients to have good, competent help.
  8. CONTINUING EDUCATION    The state requires 12 hours of continuing education every few years including an Ethics class.  I would recommend taking the classes in a group setting and not by internet.  You hear and learn from the craziest stories in a live class.
  9. SAFETY    Listen to your instincts.  Be vigilant at open houses and at showings with people you do not know.  While hosting an open house, I always make sure a back door is unlocked and I always follow clients when going up and down stairs.
  10. RESPECTFUL    Respect the property (all kinds) and respect the people (all backgrounds and religions).  Just as there are no two properties exactly alike, there are no two people exactly alike either.  Be open minded, be resilient, and be respectful.  The differences are what makes the world go round and keeps the job so fascinating!

This is off the top of my head, as I try to help the young woman.  Changes and additions will come as I think of them.

Also keep in mind that when you are in sales, you have to be able to accept rejection.



David Bowie, Joseph Cornell & More

And then today, I added a new page to my “Dead Rock Stars” journal.

Also, I began a new art class last week with Laura Lein-Svencner and this class is called “Collage and Assemblage Boxes”.   “Out of a drawer and into an art piece”is the idea, a style made famous by artist Joseph Cornell, and I once again feel the freedom of kindergarten-type creativity.

Yesterday I enjoyed the adventure of Joseph Cornell’s magical website, and I always enjoy Laura’s website for instruction and inspiration.  I’m lucky to live only 3 miles from Laura’s Mayslake classes.  Many of the students travel considerable miles, even over the state lines of Indiana and Wisconsin.

I was fortunate to see the David Bowie exhibit at the Chicago Contemporary Art Museum last year.  I have been a fan forever and have often thought how “Changes” is the theme of this blog.  “Space Oddity” and “Life on Mars” are also two favorites.

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My music memorabilia includes the guitar pick pictured above.  I will be using it in a David Bowie tribute piece in the art class.  I’m also looking now at a Jerry Garcia doll I bought at a garage sale and anxious to look up my Eagles albums with Glen Frey’s recent death.  All are treasures.

I bought a record player for my granddaughters at Christmas and selected some special albums for them from my collection of thousands.

Thank you for the music–and so much more, David Bowie.  What an exceptional class act!  At this stage in my life your last album is an especially meaningful gift.



Definition of a Successful Life

To laugh often and much;

to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; 

to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;  

to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or redeemed social condition;

to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived!

                    Ralph Waldo Emerson


Again, a new year’s resolution….

Last year it was to get this website off and running which happened, but then a lull.  This year I’m hoping to be more diligent in posting.

When you turn 70, time becomes very precious, because we realize that time is running out!  This became quite obvious to me this holiday season as three of our neighbors died within a few weeks of each other.  I’ve often read that there are more deaths at Christmas time.

At funerals, we learn new and interesting details about the deceased and, of course, we wish we could sit down one more time with them and talk.

I’ve known all three of these neighbors over 40 years–4 decades!!


Bert became my Union Church buddy several years ago when her husband Bill died and she could no longer renew her driver’s license.  Going back to church was on my bucket list, and Bert’s situation provided the push.  I often felt we were like a couple of high school girls giggling together on the drive to and from the church.  I knew her memory was slipping away, but it didn’t matter.  We simply enjoyed the here and now!

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Tim was an all around good guy, helping wherever needed, and serving our neighborhood for years as a Park District Trustee.  Tim enjoyed driving his spotless vintage convertible to lead our Golfview float in the 4th of July parade.  He loved his Schnauzer dogs over the years and I’m sure “Ernie” grieves for him today.

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Ann, as it turned out, worked as a window dresser for Carson Pirie Scott years ago.  How I’d love to talk with her more about that!  I have autographed copies of her children’s books, “Randal, the Flannel Camel” and “Mike’s Monarchs”.

I celebrate this snapshot of three kind, gentle souls who made this world a better place.  We will miss them, but we will remember them!