Friday, August 26, 2011

Impeded progress

Life throws at all all sorts of obstacles. This past month, the east coast was hit by a earthquake and a hurricane. How many plans were thrown into the air because LIFE had other plans. You see coverage of brides packing up all their wedding, heading for higher ground. Months or years of planning lay behind them as they are forced to adjust. Surgeries that were scheduled are rescheduled as hospitals are evacuated. And no one has control over this. Our planning in the end is just for a best case scenario and life, if often there to challenge us with other plans.

Kind of like writing this post... I had 90% of it written, well laid out and near perfection and somehow.... poof there it went. So, I am writing a new version of what I had carefully laid out.

For me in the past week, I have seen a couple of things interfere with my plans. Let's start with being a Realtor. I didn't plan for this housing slow down, anymore than I planned for the foggiest summer in 30 years. I also didn't plan on having more listings than ever. Houses that would have sold in minutes last year sit in the fog this summer waiting for a buyer. I didn't plan on people hop skip and jumping up Marin for a longer commute and making my area of expertise one of the slowest in Marin. Ah... life. Just when you figure it out... things change.

Our 40th reunion was a blast, but it meant my training was put on hold last weekend. On Monday I woke up with one hecka of a cold. NASTY by any measure. I looked at my training schedule well into the last month before the 3 day and said "Yeah, nice idea..."

But yesterday I woke up and looked at the day ahead. We had a Baseball Game to attend at 6:10pm in SF. It had always been my plan to walk to the game and have Glenn meet me to drive me back. I was still not feeling 100% but by gosh... it was time to walk. So I took a fully charged phone with the intention of calling a cab or Glenn if I couldn't make it up the hills. My ticket in my fanny pack, plenty of water, advil and sharkies would give me what I needed to get through the day. I left from my old office on Shoreline and headed out.

The leg beneath me seemed tight and unused to the activity and it had only been 9 days since the last walk! But as I kept walking miracles happened...I had more energy, I was breathing better. I walked up the hill out of Sausalito without being even a touch winded or tired. I walked to the top of the bridge without stopping and didn't break a sweat. I walked across the bridge and felt fine. The only thing I made sure to do was stop more often, even if I didn't think I needed to and stretch. I made it to the Bay Bridge and there I saw the LONG LONG line to get in and remembered it was Timmy bobblehead night! Oh my. I stood in line and text messaged Glenn about my progress as he left Marin. He let me know an hour later he was in the Lefty O'Doul entry line and he would soon be inside. I was a ways off STILL! By the time I reach Cepeda Gate the mad yelled out "We are out of product! Go to the O'doul Gate!"

I was in line an hour and a half before Glenn, and by the tine I reached our seats he had finished a beer already.

Life will always throw a curve ball or two. How you react to it will be the difference of paddling backwards or moving forward. So I am back on track, with determination to get through to the end of the 3 day in one piece.

I had a plan to raise $16,000 to celebrate 16 years of survival from Breast Cancer. But I am sitting at $13,282. That's not bad AT ALL... but it wasn't THE PLAN. I would love another curve ball to come that puts me over the original goal. If you know of anyone who could make that, individual... send them to

Behind my eyes I am still 5 years old

It's something about a 40th reunion that will do it to you. Here you are standing next to people your own age, people who have experienced so many of the same things. They went to the same school, grew up in the same town. Their lives, like yours, have had twists and turns, ups and down. And here they stand, like you, staring back with 5 year old eyes.

We don't really change all that much inside. We remain who we were when we were born. Sometimes, along the way to maturity, we lose sight of who that is... it is all a journey back round to where we belong.

As people we have the same childish enthusiasm, fears, optimism, hopes, dreams, insecurities and needs. We needs to be heard and seen. We need to be loved and accepted. We need to know we make a difference - that we matter. These needs don't ever go away, they just are granted over time, or we are left searching.

At the reunion, I sometimes had a hard time recognizing people. Their hair was grey or gone, or dyed or shorter or longer. Their bodies were shorter or wider or smaller. Some faces were wrinkled, some pulled tighter than they were when they were 16. But when I would look in their eyes, I could see the person I remembered from so long ago - probably much better than I could see them back then. That is one thing that time should give you. It should give you enough self acceptance that you can be more open to others. Then you realize we really are fundamentally the same in one important way, we are human beings. No one is above you or below you if you accept this notion.

This reunion was a great reminder of how far we have come. Be have come back round. Back round to being our genuine selves. The people we were born to be.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to 1971

For the past 18 months we have been planning the 40th reunion of the Los Altos High School class of 1971. This past weekend was the big event and as I am recuperating (I have had one hella of a cold), I thought I would at least get the pictures up online.

It was a great weekend. Wonderful to see so many people who you may not recognize at first, but you almost always do if you look at their eyes. Of course some others were easier to identify. We all look a little different after 40 years. Some people looked better without the long stringy hair that was the rage. It was interesting to hear what people are doing, how many children/grandchildren they have, where they are living and catch up. It was even more fun watching them doing the same thing, having a ball at this party that was so long in the making.

Our pre-party was at Rossetti's or Zotts or the Alpine Inn, depending on when you knew it. This biker type bar is on Alpine Road in Portola Valley. A few people came around 30 or so. They mingled in the back around the picnic tables and inside at the bar. It was pretty darn cold. But the crowd was warm and welcoming.

Judy Palmer and Glenn. Judy is walking in DC with us.

Glenn came only to the pre-party and then it was girl time. On the day of the big event Glenn left and Deanne Clark joined us. While Jill as at an appt. Deanne and I went shopping and bought some mini cupcakes from Kara's Cupcakes.

I tired on the dress I bought and changed my mind. It was too fancy, too clingy and not at all right. I changed into jeans and a top with a sweater and pashmina - accented with sparkly jewels. At least I'd be comfortable, I hope Nrodstroms will take a three month old return, tried on twice.

Jill did most of the work on this reunion, but I managed the website, arranged the catering and venue, so I went a little early to make sure all the logistical things worked out.

The event was held at the Los Altos History Museum, next to city hall, the police station, the library and over the fence from Hillview Elementary School where I went to grammar school.

Sandy Van Straaten Mitro is quite the artist and I guess it ran in the family. Her father made this flower cart for our High School grad night 40 years ago. Sandy had saved it all these years, especially for this?

Our dear friend Andrew "Andy" Tink is battling throat cancer and couldn't attend. He sent Jill a patch for her to wear at the reunion. We also set up Skype so people could talk with him. I didn't know when they were going to do this so I missed it entirely! We all missed him very much. He was our foreign exchange student from Australia. He became very active in the school in our student government. He was selected as class politician as was I. He went further than me... becoming a member of Parliament.

Our principle Dude Anigus and our football coach Tom But attended and they came early.

The name tag on royal blue ribbons with our high school yearbook pictures.

People arrived and stood chatting on the early side...

Kurt Gruen came in costume.

He has always been a lady's man.

There were several teachers who attended including Claire Pelton who was my English teacher.

I invited Greg Lyons and his new wife Stacy to the reunion even though they are not from our class. Greg's brother Ladd was in our class but didn't attend. The Lyons' grew up with us off Cypress Drive, those were golden days.

The event was held outside on a brick patios with tinkle lights. It was perfect. Whereas I worried it would be too cold, it was ideal. People mingled easily. Jocks, with nerds, Drama freaks with brainiacks.... After 40 years it is really remarkable how alike we have grown (or have always been but didn't recognize in the teenage haze...)

It did me good to see all those smiling faces.

Barb Hatfield was on our committee.

Sherry Witt Snow was also a committee member

Paulette Hubbs and I had a good time.

Sandy with her cart!

We stayed well past the 11 end time. I ended up pulling up the tablecloths while people were standing there talking. We picked a place where the party could continue. We headed down to a sports bar on Main Street. It was 12:30 when we left.

The party harders hung out at the bar until after 2am.

I went to bed and kept locking at the clock. the last time I saw it was 5:44 am. The alarm went off at 8:30.....

And we headed down to the poolside for brunch at Dinah's Garden Hotel around 10:30.

I was a part of a small band of girls who we names WA (Weirdos of America) back in High School. Deanne, Jill, Sylvia, Ginny and Patty. Patty went to another High School but she joined us for Brunch.

I'm calling this "the boys in the band". I don't know if they all are musicans but I know two are. If they arent musician they should be.

Joe was the only male meber of our reunion committee and we had most of our meetings at this house - thanks to his wife for letting us invade.

Roxy has always been full of life.

So I left the reunion and headed up to Mill Valley but stopped on the way to buy the fixings for dinner at Glenn's Dad's house. It already was going to be a long day having only got 3 hours sleep, but when I got closer to home I discovered the person I had holding open my listing was not prepared. So I joined him, then after the open house left to go meet up with Glenn and drive back to down the penisula, cook dinner and drive back home.

So.... I think that may have contributed to my BAD cold.

But the reunion was a success. The hardwok paid off. Proud to be a member of the LAHS class of 1971. Glad to be alive to enjoy it!

Now its back to work, training (eventually) and then off to DC. Hopefully it will still be around after the earthquake and Hurricane!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Other paths

In life you find yourself on career paths sometimes not of your own design. I started in High School believing when I grew up I would be a drama teacher. In college, I followed a track for getting my teaching degree. I student taught. I loved it. Then as time approached for graduating I went to some career seminars. They told me with my personality, I would make barrels of money in sales and it would be ridiculous for me to teach. No money in that, and jobs were not plentiful.

So I went to interviews and was one of two people hired by Procter and Gamble out of many many applicants. I had fun for a while selling soap and I was very good at it. I got outstanding training for sales, perhaps the best in the country, but when my Mother was fighting Cancer, she was in Southern California and I was in Stockton. I asked for a transfer, I asked pretty please. I was driving to LA every weekend. They wouldn't transfer me, so I quit.

I played with several ideas of what else to do, I thought maybe airlines sales. Maybe, convention sales. I applied for dozens of jobs and even thought about getting unemployment because many companies did not understand my decision to leave P and G.

I applied for a job with Merck. My grandfather was the VP for sales on the West Coast when he was working. I went through a half a dozen interviews and was finally hired. They gave me the territory from San Bernadino to Arizona, calling on Doctors, Pharmacies, Hospitals for all of their drugs. It was a big territory, a big job and a very hard one for me. I out-sold all the old men who had the same job and was #1 in the region. The job was hard not because I couldn't sell, but because my Mother was dying. Then after she died, the week after, I went to a sales meeting and went through the motions like a robot learning about Flexeril. Without trying I would outsell other people in the region, but I was going through the motions. Then a deep an dark depression hit me as my Mother's death sank in. I found it hard to show up everyday. I found it hard to get out of bed. My boss on more than one occasion would have been the poster child for "sexual harassment". I was not happy.

I quit my job.

I went back to school to get my Master's degree in counseling in the schools. I substitute taught. I bought a house (actually two). I rediscovered my friend Glenn, and got engaged. I left school with 3 units remaining, and didn't "work" until after the kids were older. Then it was Weight Watchers as a leader, PTA as a PTA President, A linen store as a clerk, Non profit work as a passionate co-founder.

I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 1996. And after I emerged from the treatment and as my hair had returned (albeit short and curly and grey) I knew college loomed for the girls. I knew I would need to assist in the household income to get the kids through school. I went through a few interviews for drug company jobs, disappointed to find I had a higher paying job in 1977! So Glenn looked at me and said "Duh, you are supposed to sell houses. You collect miniature houses, peruse the Open house section of the paper every weekend. you are great at sales."

And that is what I did. I got my license and immediately went to work. I was rookie of the year for Coldwell Banker in Marin and each year bettered myself until I was the top agent in Mill valley in 2002. Now it has been 15 years and here I am still selling houses. And I enjoy it often (certainly less so in this market). I wonder..... what would it be like if I did something else? And what would it be if I did do something else?

I know what I love is helping people. I know I am passionate about doing the impossible. I know if I could make a living from doing the 3 day, I would do it, because I love it. But unless you have a smart idea on how I can make an adequate income from something else, I do believe I will be a Realtor for the duration. (Hint hint people with great ideas!)

Yesterday was a great day because Patti and I walked together. And that meant I had time to bounce all kinds of thoughts off of her , and her off of me. You could tell it had been awhile that we walked together because we probably talked the entire 11 miles (including but not limited to our lunch at Crissy and our champagne at Cavallo point and our wine and pizza at Poggios!)

Now it is back to work. That had me awake at 1:45am with a ton of worry over the market and listings that haven't sold and bills that have to be paid. Ahhhh... why can't life be simpler.

PS another thing that would help my outlook would be a 2 million dollar sale! Got anyone you want to refer to this sales gal?