Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What I learned in 2014

I've not been writing here this year, since I've focused all my efforts on my real estate related blog, Katie on Long Beach (  However, this is the place for the annual accounting of the knowledge I've gained during the last year.  You might not be able to teach this old dog new tricks, but you sure can teach me new things.  This has been a year of personal growth, of pain, of triumphs and validation, of challenges I could not have imagined, as well as a year to celebrate successes and changes.  "All stages of life are transitional."

Things I learned in 2014:

1. The Serenity Prayer works.  Try it and keep trying it until you get it.
2. Being a Realtor has little to do with sales, it's about being of service to people in a challenging time and impacting lives in a positive way.
3. It's okay to state what you want and/or need and neither apologize for it nor explain yourself.
4. Handing someone keys to their new home is an awesome feeling.
5. Hosting 10 UCLA students for a dinner taught me our future is in good hands.
6. Watching collegiate level water polo is fun, exciting, and really great when Stanford wins (or UCLA, but only when not playing Stanford).
7. Becoming part of a church community is rewarding, uplifting and comforting. And you get to sing Christmas carols at Advent.
8. Paso wines just keep getting better and sharing with friends is the best.
9. Friendships forged in challenges are sometimes the strongest bonds.
10. A broken heart can mend, although the crack will always show.
11. Sorority sisters are always there for you.  Always. Through anything. For decades.
12. Being my own boss means I really am my own boss.  I can dress how I want and attend sales meetings or not, work or not. Get paid, or not.  It's all up to me.  What a concept.  Wish I'd learned this one a while ago.
13. Having a good car mechanic is crucial.
14. Having a good therapist rivals having a good mechanic.  I am fortunate to have both.
15. Time spent in Hawaii is good for the soul, and the more time in the water, the better.
16. Family isn't always there for you, but they try the best they know how.
17. Admitting I have little control of anything and surrendering to that has been life changing.
18. I prefer my hair a little less blonde.
19. I love my niece and nephew more every day and can't see enough of them.
20. People can be incredibly cruel.
21. People will remember what you did in the '80's and bring it up in mixed company.
22. Mama's Fish House on Maui deserves all the raves.
23. Many people who say they are looking for a house are flakey (but not my clients).
24. Not everyone has the same work ethic or professional standard I do.
25. We still have a magic carpet with my flight benefits, but we should use it more.
26. Cancer sucks. I already knew that, but each time I lose someone to it, I am reminded how insidious it is.
27. Self-care is underrated and so very important: put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you.
28. Life is a blessing and opportunities to enjoy it and to prosper are everywhere, no matter what challenges arise. Just open your eyes and your heart.
29. Vin Scully is a national treasure.
30. Old age is always about 10-15 years older than you are.

Wishing you and those you care about a most healthy and prosperous 2015.  Seize the day!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What I Learned in 2013

It's time again for my annual post about what I learned in the year just closing.  I'm happy to say that I can still learn something every year - every day - and I hope I am a kinder, gentler person because of it.  With tongue firmly in cheek on a few of these and hand to my heart on others, here are some of the things I learned in 2013:

  1. There is life after United.
  2. Watching those we love grow older and more frail makes me feel helpless.
  3. Buying a real airline ticket to make sure you get on the flight is pretty cool.  And miles are earned, too.
  4. Money can change lives and change people, although not always for the better.
  5. Just when I thought I had enough friends, my life expanded to welcome in more.  Those I'm talking about know who you are.
  6. I am still good at taking exams, and I'm still the first one done.
  7. People you least suspect can have terrible, hurtful secrets.
  8. At 56 years old I can find a new career and love it with the enthusiasm of someone much younger.
  9. My skills are transferable.
  10. Therapy is a gift.
  11. Real estate sales are far more about customer service than they are sales, which is why I love the new career.
  12. Our capacity to love and forgive is immense.
  13. 65 miles is really, really, REALLY far away when it's the distance between you and a 5 year old.
  14. Saying I love you to people you love is important, no matter how much they know it.
  15. A heart can be shattered, but love, time, understanding and attention will usually help mend it. 
  16. Some things are worth working on.
  17. Some things are not worth working on.
  18. I can root against the UCLA Bruins when they are playing against my nephew and his Stanford Cardinal team.
  19. Exercise really does help.
  20. Watching a 5 year old learn letters, numbers, concepts and more is the coolest thing.  
  21. Traveling with friends can surprise you.
  22. I love to zipline.
  23. Stanford is my 2nd favorite team, except when the Cardinal Men's water polo team is playing UCLA, then they are my favorite.
  24. I despise studying, regardless of subject.  Not much has changed there in decades or ever.
  25. Stopping the mind to just be in the moment is very, very hard.
  26. Sometimes a box wine is just fine, although not all box wine is fine.
  27. I don't miss my job at United.  Aside from the regular paycheck, that is.
  28. Becoming friends with winery owners is fun and leads to good times with really good people.
  29. I have a vital support system with some incredible friends.
  30. Cancers still sucks.
  31. "The Power of Now" is more like a super power.
  32. I really can't sing, no matter how much I try.
  33. My husband loves to take dance lessons.
  34. Good intentions can be misconstrued and people can accuse you of things you never did, with no way to ever convince them otherwise.
  35. I can survive anything.  Well, so far!

Monday, December 9, 2013


The other day while browsing Facebook I happened on a link to a song a dear friend posted.  Appreciating many of this friend's prior posts, I clicked on it and was delighted to listen to "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.

That song changed my entire mood, although I was not in a bad one to start.  It had me moving in my chair, then I started clapping my hands and, finally, I was up out of my chair dancing.  What I felt was joy.  Pure, unfiltered, unbridled and unrestrained joy.

When was the last time I had felt that way?

The last 24 months have been full of challenges: good ones, terrible ones, not great ones, and ones easily overcome.  You won't read about those on Facebook, you probably won't hear me speak of them in conversation.  The worst part is, in facing those challenges, even those over which I triumphed, I had lost my joy. I'm not saying I wasn't happy, either.  Those who know me know I'm generally a very happy person and certainly I have been happy, but joy was elusive.

Caveat: The exceptions have been moments with my now 5 year old niece.  A toddler (and now a youngster) knows pure joy and can give it if you are open to accepting it.  I am wide open to accepting her joy and it feeds my soul.

I never stopped working on the challenges to take a break, to maybe even celebrate the victory over them. I don't remember the last time I completely let joy overtake me, that I was able to live in that moment, in only that moment.

Eckert Tolle's book "The Power of Now" is about living in the moment, so is the concept of "Be here now".  However, it's almost impossible to be in the moment with all of our phones, tablets, computers, media and distracted driving pulling at our attention.  With the multitasking (or what we think is multitasking, but is really scattered productivity), it's impossible to fully experience one thing and only one thing.

How much richer could an experience be if it had our full attention?  A conversation where we didn't check our phone?  A drive where we didn't listen to news?  Watching "Homeland" without playing Candy Crush Saga?  Enjoying a meal without taking a photo of it to post to a social media site?

What if we just stopped.

What if we just stopped and lived in that moment?  Would that let joy back in?  Would stopping to let the sadness, the gladness, the emotion of the moment wash over us make it better?

I believe it would.  I am actively working to focus on the now.  To feel the water over my hands as I wash them.  To look up at the sky and see the clouds, feel the breeze.  I'm working to not be electronically connected ALL the time, but to be truly connected to the moment.

I want to again know that joy that "Happy" gave me for that instant.  I want to know and experience joy over things more than a song.  That means that I want to fully experience grief when it comes, to feel and acknowledge pain when I'm hurt emotionally as only through that do I believe I can heal from these things and move forward into joy.

Today I will take 10 minutes for me and be only in that moment, not thinking about what is going to happen after that 10 minutes or what happened before it.  Only what happens during it. 

And then I'll listen to "Happy" and I believe I'll dance.  You can, too.  Here's the link, below.

 Pharrell Williams, "Happy"

Friday, August 2, 2013

Who Wants a House?

Here is the letter I sent out to my "sphere of influence" to announce my career change:

Dear Friends and Family,
Hello from the Larson Lodge in Long Beach!  I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones well and enjoying the summer of 2013.  Cameron and I are doing great and have some news to share with you about a big change in our lives.

As you might be aware, I retired from United Airlines earlier this year.  It was an opportunity for an early buyout with retirement benefits of flight privileges and healthcare for life.  Sweet!  Cameron was fully supportive and encouraging of the move so we made the leap in February.  It was also perfect timing for me, as I was already preparing to return to an interest I started almost 10 years ago in Illinois:  Real Estate.
Yes, I am now a Realtor!  I initially received my license in Illinois in 2004 and had been meaning to do the same in California when we moved home in 2005, but my full-time work took my attention and I put it on the backburner of priorities.  It is now the center of my focus and has my full attention.  I’m so excited about this venture and the opportunities to help people with some of their biggest decisions in life.   The job and field are tailor made for my skills, my interests and my passions. 

In May I affiliated with a phenomenal brokerage here in Long Beach:  Keller Williams Pacific Estates.  Keller Williams is the #1 real estate company in the country by agent count.  The Pacific Estates location is just under 2 years old, but one of the fastest growing offices in the country, attracting top talent from other real estate offices in the area and me!  The team is welcoming, willing to share experiences and the support system is very strong.  I have already established valuable relationships with lenders, title reps, inspectors, appraisers and other team members that are vital to successful transactions.  I am so ready to GO and start making a difference here!

While I will be primarily focusing on the East Long Beach/Seal Beach/Los Alamitos areas to start, I am ready to help you with whatever real estate needs you might have.  If you’re not here in Southern California, I can refer you to agents who specialize in your area, as I already have an excellent network of trusted Realtors in many parts of the country.  I can answer questions for you and I can help point you in the right direction for things real estate related.  If you or someone you know has a real estate license, I’m also happy to take your referrals.  You know I’ll take excellent care of them for you.

Enclosed with this letter are two of my business cards.  Please keep one and pass the other one on to someone you know who might be able to use my help.  You might already be in your forever home or have a really good friend or family member already serving your real estate needs.  That is great!  If you’re not, or know someone who is looking to buy or sell, please tell them about me and send them my way.  I bring the same enthusiasm, integrity, quick response time, confidence, organization and collaborative approach to this endeavor that was the foundation of my successes at United Airlines and in my personal relationships. 

To continue my work in the community, I will also be donating a portion of any earned commissions to local organizations, such as Pathways to Independence and the Long Beach Basket Brigade.  I can also work with the buyer or seller to benefit one of their preferred charities.

Thank you for your support these many years and I look forward to a great future with that continued support.  Wishing you the best – make it a great day.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

If you want to be interesting, be interested!

Some simple things can be forgotten in the rush of life and all that goes on in a typical day.  Having just returned from a great trip to Costa Rica with 7 others and recently chatting with a member of the Millennial generation, one of these simple things was brought home:

If you want to be interesting to others, you need to be interested in others.

I am guilty of the info dump, focusing on me, me, me and what happened to me, forgetting that the person on whom I am dumping (usually my patient husband) might also have something to share.  He routinely calls me during the work day and before he can say much more than hello, I immediately bring him up to date on my day, my conversations, our niece's latest antics, our nephew's water polo schedule, my Facebook news before even letting him tell me WHY he called or asking him how he is.  Uh, yeah.  I do that.

On the other hand, if I call someone, I try to start the conversation by asking them if this is a good time to chat and asking them about their day/trip/work/etc.  So, I'm not all clueless all the time.

In the last week we had some fabulous adventures in Costa Rica: ziplining, sport fishing, diving, surfing, spice farm visits, horseback rides, relaxing, nature hikes, animal spotting and more.  Not everybody did everything together, so there were times when we wanted to share with each other what WE did.  On a few occasions someone would share how their adventure went, regale us with the tales (which each of us loved to hear) and then leave the room, completely forgetting to ask anyone else how their day was and what adventures they had had.  Certainly everyone is responsible for speaking up for themselves, but it's nice to be asked, too.  It's nice to know someone might be interested in you and what you did.

In my conversation with a Millennial (those 18-20 somethings), I was hearing really great stuff from them but was never asked about what I was doing or how that week we just spent in Costa Rica went.  I volunteered how our week went, then thanked them for inspiring me to write this post.  It was a sincere thanks and a good reminder for me.

Facebook posts an interesting (if you're interested!) dilemma:  the primary function is to tell people what YOU are doing, how You are feeling, where You are.  It is a product of the Millennials, who tend to be somewhat self-absorbed anyway, but we Boomers just might be the biggest users of the program.  If you want someone to care that your cat did something funny, that you had an awesome meal or were at an airport, make sure you check out, comment on or like the posts by your friends and family, too.  They posted something for a reason (and not the "I have a headache" or "I'm hungry" type posts - those don't necessarily merit comments), thinking someone - YOU - might be interested.  Show them you are and they are more likely to be interested in what you're doing, eating, seeing, hearing.

Yes, there are times when we MUST get our information out and want to share it right NOW, but if you want someone to be interested in what you have to say, best you ask them how their day/trip/work was, too.

I promise to try to be better about that with the patient and quiet man I married, too.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

As long as we're talking travel...

2009:  Sydney, Melbourne, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Vancouver Island, Chicago, Honolulu, San Franciso, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Brisbane, Whitsundays, Dallas, Houston, Sydney (yes, Australia 3 times this year), Chicago: 74,570 miles

 New Year's Eve/Day on Sydney Harbour

 Jimmy Buffett in Honolulu
 Aphelion off Whitehaven Beach, Oz

2010: Chicago, Palm Springs, Tucson, Austin, Madrid, Sacramento, Oakland, Seattle, Kauai, Virginia, Austin: 32,869 miles

  Rioja region of Spain
 Austin, TX 


2011: Sydney, Sacramento, San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Sacramento, Kona, Chicago, Houston, Jackson Hole, Houston, New York, Israel, Jordan, Austin: 65,613 miles

  Jimmy Buffett concert in Sydney

  Kayaking in Kona


  Petra, Jordan

2012: San Francisco, Chicaago, Atlanta, (double knee replacements kept me off planes for 3 months), Maui, Houston, Melbourne, Sydney, Jackson Hole, San Francisco, New York, Cedar Rapids, Denmark, Prague, Austin: 60,317 miles

   Victoria, Australia
  Denmark with the cousins
 Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

I could probably rebuild years further back but those are the ones I have in my BlackBerry right now, with all the connections and miles by segment.  I didn't count the drives to Paso Robles, Santa Ynez, Big Bear and San Diego.  What will 2013 bring?  We already have Chicago, Atlanta, San Diego and Costa Rica planned.  What else?

Monday, December 31, 2012

What I learned in 2012

I started these posts a couple of years ago and found they're a good way to remind me of the year just ended and to be grateful for each day, as you never know what the next one will bring.

What I learned in 2012

  • Starting a new year off with friends is always a good idea - thanks, Ray and Becky for your January 1st soiree to set the tone for the year with good wine, good friends, good food
  •  Insurance companies can be very, very frustrating
  • Orthopedic surgeons are rock stars
  • Good friends who live far away can always be visited with a plane flight to Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago or Austin. (And a few other places...)
  • Our parents are not indestructible
  • Having two knee replacements at the same time is better than two separate times.  (Well, I only did the former, so the latter is purely speculation.)
  • Laguna Beach for a weekend with dear friends can feel like a week's vacation
  • Turning 55 is great - it opens up opportunities that weren't there a day earlier
  • USC isn't so bad, at least their orthopedic doctors aren't - I love my Trojan knees
  • We live in the best neighborhood, with the best neighbors
  • I was not bored being off work for 6 weeks
  • Cameron can be a very good caregiver
  • Friday assistants make the world go round
  • As proud as I am of my nephew, he continues to do things that make me even more proud.  I'll probably burst next year when he graduates high school and starts Stanford.
  • Some people are just rude and thoughtless, and you can't change them
  • Paso wines keep getting better (I'm talking about you Daou, Ecluse, Dark Star...)
  • Good friends who live far away can always visit us with a plane flight from San Francisco, Sydney, New York, Chicago and Austin
  • You can decide on Monday night to fly to Australia on Tuesday and actually do it
  • There is an ocean called The Southern Ocean.  And I've seen it.
  • Pathways continues to inspire me and we keep raising more money through the efforts of the amazing women who are Friends of Pathways.
  • Watching a 4 year old grow and learn is pure delight and awe.  Listening to "Call Me Maybe" over and over and over and over and over and over...not so much
  • Enough is sometimes enough and there comes time to say good-bye
  • Being a Bruin on a police escorted bus from DIA to the hotel in Westminster, CO, is really cool!
  • Cancer sucks and is totally unfair.  It can take a vibrant 24 year old with a stellar future and not care about the wreckage left in the wake
  • A city covered in cobblestones (hello, Prague!) is beautiful but you end up with sore feet
  • Everyone has their price
  • Coming up with 26 random acts of kindness is not easy but it's wonderful to try
  • Our parents are not immortal

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who can never repay you." - John Wooden 

 The very best of the 2013 to you and those you hold dear.  Give them an extra hug when you see them and never leave or end a call without telling them you love them.  When we lost Cameron's father this month we knew, without question, that the last words we exchanged with him were "I love you".  It is a comfort.  It's also good to hear, even if you know it.  If you need practice saying it, start with the person in the mirror.

 Happy New Year!