Hillary & Leonard Cohen–Tough News Week!

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And then today….

I’m sad.  I’m scared.

Hillary’s loss was unexpected, yet always feared.

Leonard’s death was not unexpected, yet always feared.

Thank you Saturday Night Live for the pitch perfect combo of Hillary (Kate McKinnon) thoughtfully singing Leonard’s masterpiece, Hallelujah.  It has helped me put things in perspective.

Other ways I’ve been trying to stay positive and regain some sort of sense of humor include:

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  • Covering an old guitar with photos of concerts I’ve seen including Leonard on the front side
  • Offering an extra Ben & Jerry’s “Schweddy Balls” empty carton on eBay
  • Having my hair dresser spray a purple streak in my hair after today’s cut
  • Taking photos of the super moon (and laughing at Kimmel’s joke about California’s continual frequency of super moons with the Kardashians around).
  • Eating a warmed gooey cinnamon pecan roll (it’s been years)
  • Starting my Christmas letter early (never before)
  • Receiving the 5 Cubs World Series locker room caps I ordered
  • Buying glitzy sequin leggings for our youngest granddaughter
  • Hand writing a letter of thanks to Hillary

I’m not giving up and neither should you!

Heartbroken

I am dealing with deep disappointment that Hillary will not be the next president.  I share a letter forwarded to me from a friend:

Dear Friends and Board Members,

Having earlier watched Hillary Clinton’s deeply moving concession speech, I am having trouble putting into words the mixture of emotions that have roiled me today. I find myself tossed from shock to sadness to anxiety to grief. Shock that the country made the decision it did, sadness and grief over the loss of what could have been, anxiety for what the future will bring.

However, I will not allow myself to be overcome by fear and anger. The outcome last night was driven, I believe, in many ways, by a mixture of these emotions.

I am never more convinced of the importance of the work of the Chicago Center and of our work as stewards of the Center. Education – and, more precisely, the type of first voice educational experience the Center offers – is the antidote to what has divided our country and deeply fractured our government.

I am reminded of the words of the great thinker Jane Jacobs, who, in comments to the New York Times concerning civil disobedience in the time of the Vietnam War, said, “Merely by happening, civil disobedience affirms that outside the corridors of power are men and women who make judgements, possess courage, form intentions, captain their souls, and act on their own.”

Never before has the educational process itself felt like such a vital act of civil disobedience. Learning – about ourselves, those like us, and, especially, those completely different from us – is the most profound way I know for all of us to build courage, to engage one another with good intentions, and to captain our own souls.

Let us then redouble our efforts in our work with the Chicago Center. Now is the time to do good work in everything we do.

All best,
Zach.

Price of Pork, Chicago Tribune–My Take

And then today, after reading the Tribune series….

I want to talk to my Dad.

I grew up on a pig farm in central Illinois in the fifties.   I recently read the series in the Chicago Tribune titled “The Price of Pork” in Illinois.  The series was broken down into 4 major parts–cheap meat, animal abuse, pollution, & hard work.  The stories, editorial, photos and video are available online: http://chicagotribune.com/pork

My dad was a hog farmer with a vision that brought him much success and accolades during his farming career.  Breeding stock buyers from around the country and from as far away as Japan and Brazil came to our farm.

Dad Fair Ribbons

Every summer was spent at the fairs.  Dad showed hogs for 50 years at the Illinois State Fair, but he also traveled to many local and out of state competitions.

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This photo is from a later edition of the World Book Encyclopedia featuring one of my dad’s Yorkshire hogs.  Dad also was known for Black Poland China and Spotted Poland China breeds.

I feel like the morality has disappeared from our food chain.  A few years ago I attended a Farm to Table dinner in Wisconsin.  Constant confinement was a new concept for me.  The huge family milk farm operation was probably the best it could be.  The owners seem to be conscientious of good care and cleanliness.  The Chicago Tribune editorial points out that other states do a better job.  They mention “the more regulatory authority there is in place, and more visible it is, the more likely farmers and business owners will be to act responsibly.”

Once more, Illinois has let us down.

(Before I continue, I will admit I had bacon for breakfast.  Bacon and Snickers are my two favorite foods and the state fair today probably offers deep fried Snickers wrapped in bacon–mmmm.)

Therefore, from this day forward, I am going to do my best to switch primarily to a plant based diet.  In order to feed the world and save the planet, it seems to be the only way.

I’m tired of worrying about antibiotics and hormones and the lack of health safety associated with our food, especially meats.  I know chickens are raised in tiny little overcrowded dirty cages.

This week I bought Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs.  The informational insert says “Family Farmers Raise Our Girls With Loving Care” and “raised on grass and free to roam, y’all”.  And surprise–the yolks are a little darker, firmer, and tastier!  However, they did cost more.

But then again, my dad always used to say, “You get what you pay for”.

Quality over quantity is admirable, but it doesn’t pad the greedy corporate bottom line!

 

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.

 

 

CROWDS–Desperation or Celebration

And then today….

I see the news story of the Syrian Refugees and I wince.  It is now burned in my brain–the crowd’s desperation, the cramming into flimsy boats and trains and through bus windows.  The beautiful children, the haunting expressions, the death, the hysteria–what can I do?

I remember visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and the experience of crowding into an elevator, getting off on the upper lever and crowding down the narrow hallway to begin the tour.  I’m sure this was architecturally designed on purpose, reminding visitors of the crowded cattle cars.

I have experienced crowds on numerous occasions but my experiences have been celebrations!  A few of my favorites include:

  1.  Crowding into a venue to see a concert–U2, Paul McCartney and Bon Jovi , to name a few.
  2. Crowding into Memphis and the Pyramid on the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ death was a celebration of The King we shared with thousands of his loyal fans.
  3. Crowding onto The Mall in Washington D.C. for the inauguration of President Obama (picture above) will always be a life defining moment.  Millions of people of all ages and sizes and colors mingled together with mutual respect and kindness and with the hope that this country had finally grown up and somehow changed.   It’s turned out to not be that easy.  Racism and hatred are as evident today as ever.

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We walked for a while to a spot near the Washington Monument with this guy, Bill Murray, who seems to be a fan of crowds in a historical context.  He has related several stories over the years on Dave Letterman.  (Oh how I miss Dave.)

But now back to the crowds of desperation….again, my garage sale adventures led me to a home where the proceeds of the sale were to benefit the Syrian Refugees.  The seller is from Syria and we talked for a few minutes.  He thanked me for caring.  But again, what can I do?  I asked him that and he said it was too late.  It seems the most horrible things happen in the name of religion.

PBS NATIONAL GALLERY Documentary

And then today….

Before I got out of bed this morning, I finished watching the last segment of this  3 hour documentary — awesome!

The DVR description says:

“Sequences feature the galleries of the National Gallery in London that shows how the exhibits are studied, restored and planned out over time.”

I love to hear English people talk, but I love even more hearing English people talk art!  I caught the programming (initially released in 2014) in the middle of the night and was awake enough to push the record button.

For the second time this week, the Bible story of Mary and Martha, was discussed.  First at a funeral and then with the artwork above.

The artwork of the early masters are particularly thought provoking.  The “Virgin of the Rocks” below is one example they discussed.

 

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I would encourage all to invest 3 hours of your life and enjoy this treasure.

And hopefully some day we can visit the museum in person.

 

 

God Is Nature

And then today….

I turn to nature to contemplate the circle of life, the meaning of life…and just living!

Death and serious illness has been circling around me and I am affected by each one!  Although I don’t participate often in organized religion, I was raised by two loving parents and the Methodist Church and I carry those values with me every day of my life.

I have always been mindful of the most intricate details of nature, and I celebrate   its wonder.  Lately the birds are capturing my attention the most.  The horned owl family that lives in our neighborhood year round, and visit our back yard regularly, have been particularly active and vocal.  I love them!

And then yesterday… 

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neighbor Jim called to tell me about a mystery bird in the nearby park.  I got a quick photo of it before it flew away, but we think it is an Osprey.  How exciting! The best things in life are free!

Walks in the woods and some Elvis Gospel are also sure to inspire and help lift me over tough times!

 

Garage Sale Treasures, Hostas, & More

And then today….

as on almost every Friday and Saturday, I went treasure hunting at garage sales.  Because the Hinsdale area is quite affluent, you never know what you might find–beautiful furniture, expensive kitsch, like new toys!  It’s become my weekend game.

I particularly look for vinyl records (been picking them up for years and have thousands–an addiction, I know) and other music memorabilia, toys for my grandchildren (who are now getting to big for them) and trinkets for my fairy/hippie garden.

Today I hit the jackpot with beautiful plants for my garden from a gentleman gardener in Oak Brook who is dividing his Hostas.   He has 30-some varieties, he said.  I might go back tomorrow!

At other garage sales today, I bought an old copy of “Catcher in the Rye”, a wheelchair for American Girl Doll (granddaughter), rescued a couple of brand new games for Toys for Tots, and a few Christmas stocking surprises.

Altogether today, I spent $33.50.

Listening to the radio as I drove, I learned this is Shark Week, and Discovery channel will televise special programming including a “Walk with the White Sharks” on Sunday evening.

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Funniest thing– I have a small mounted shark on my staircase wall that I once bought at a garage sale!

Oh Holy Hoarding….

 

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

And then today….

Okay, I’ve been procrastinating long enough.

I’m somewhat timid about blogging, but this class (subtitled “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity”) has given me the courage to begin in earnest.  It’s hard for me to imagine anyone would care about what I have to say, but I write for myself–if anyone else is interested, that is a bonus!

Two important components of The Artist’s Way is to write morning pages each day and to take an Artist’s Date all by myself once a week.  More about the date later.  This is the beginning of my new morning pages.  I wrote religiously each day while I was taking the twelve week class and I realize I miss them.

My first news of the day is a text that a close high school friend, Patty, has died.  All my high school friends are close as I grew up on a farm in a small community of Chenoa and there were only 42 of us in our graduating class of 1961.  Many of us enjoyed 12 years of school experiences together!

Time is very precious.  I’m more mindful of this every day.

Someone wrote on Facebook page that Patty had this Dr. Seuss’ quote prominently displayed in her home:

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Dr. Seuss offers incredible wisdom and I like to quote him often.

And then today….

I will be working, listing a new property and showing another property.  I have much to write about my 30 years of real estate sales experiences–most of them very good!