This past year was filled with such joy and precious memories. I look back and I can’t even begin to count all my blessings. It’s not like there wasn’t heartache, tragedy and obstacles to overcome because there were. But I surrounded myself with people who rallied behind me, who lifted me up and I was determined to see the “good.”
My mother’s health has to be at the top of the list for the best of 2014. The year prior was very tough on my family. We continued to receive less than hopeful diagnosis on her health. One doctor had actually “washed her hands of her” for lack of a better term. Fortunately, my Dad refused to give up. He knew there were other doctors, other treatments and other options. Because of his tenacity and my mother’s ability to hold on, my mom is back. That experience taught me to never take No for an answer; where there is love there is a way. Not a day goes by that my heart doesn’t fill with such immense joy for having the most amazing parents. They give me hope for a better version of a loving community, a supportive world and me.
This past year I was continually reminded of the importance of balance. The days may be long but the years are so very short when it comes to the time we have with our children. We can always create more wealth but we can’t create more time. There is no denying how much DeAnna and I love our job. We absolutely adore almost every aspect of what our clients hire us to do and we are fiercely competitive. Because we love what we do so much, there is a delicate dance between trying to offer the highest caliber of service and also finding that much needed balance. When you’re passionate about something, it is easy to get caught up in working 50+ hours a week and riding the highs of real estate on a continual basis. We decided early on this year we would keep each other accountable to also riding the highs of our personal lives. In my experience it is easy to find friends who go with the flow and don’t demand a better outcome for your life. I have been blessed to find both in one person. DeAnna has been known to tease me incessantly when I make a big deal about the small things in life. This past year we demanded balance in the other person’s life. We sent the other home when a child was sick, we planned family vacations together and we created a schedule so we were not both on call every weekend. It turns out that in finding this balance we actually sold more real estate than the year before and were more fulfilled while doing so. Unbelievable!
In 2014, I was also reminded that our actions not only directly impact those involved but also those who are watching. We have the choice to inspire our core group, our clients, our family and the world. It can be the simplest gesture of kindness, an encouraging word or even just a smile. I have learned that giving can cure the soul of sadness, doing something for another can wash away the stench of selfishness and focusing on those who are less fortunate creates a grateful heart. My twenties taught me to not be so afraid to share your weakness and your difficult times. Those stories can give another confidence and strength through their struggle.
We are fortunate to be a part of a company, who along with their late owner Jimmie, created a non-profit foundation called the Earth Angels Foundation to help our local community in times of need. During the Christmas season they sponsor about 50 families with gifts for children and a full holiday dinner. As DeAnna’s son looked over all the presents the foundation had bought it was difficult for his mind to process why we would buy presents for someone we didn’t know and just out of the kindness of our hearts. With well over 125 kids within these 50 families it was quite a sight. Just this morning I gave my six-year-old extra “ice cream” money. I explained to her that I was giving her the extra money under the condition she had to buy another child ice cream with the money and it could NOT be one of her friends. She needed to seek out a child who was sad, alone, having a rough day, etc. Her wheels turned and turned and she asked, “How will I find that person mama?” “Easy,” I replied, “listen to your heart.”
My hope for 2015 is that every day we would think outside ourselves. We would no longer be the silent majority. We would inspire others to do something no one else is. Anyone watching the news is very familiar with the current trend to question and degrade our police. The current trend is to knock down the men and women who work all hours of the day and night, skip many holidays to keep our streets safe and actually run towards the “crazy” when everyone else is running away. I am not here to comment on one man’s actions but instead to ask, “Have you ever thanked a First Responder?” Our police are being bombarded with negativity and judgment over another person’s action. When a physician you have no first hand experience with is sued for malpractice do you then accuse your doctor of the same? No, you judge someone for their actions not for the actions of another.
When your neighbor’s dog is barking and you don’t want to deal with it, when your property is stolen/vandalized, or God forbid when someone commits a physical act against you or your family, a person in a dark uniform and a badge responds. My hope is that we would not just see the badge and the authority but we would see the person. We would see their eyes. The same eyes that have seen things that darken a soul; a child not breathing, a rape victim crying, a mother so beaten she cannot speak, the ramifications of drug addiction and metal illness let alone delivering a death notice to a family. I have a vivid memory forever engraved in my head and it’s one of my husband breaking down in front of me. He was trying to unwind from his 17-hour shift and when his eyes filled with tears I immediately thought, “Well Hell, what in the world could bring this strong man to the brink of such a raw emotion?” As he struggled to speak and explain, I learned he had handled a shaken baby case. He had preformed CPR on a lifeless infant. He ran that child out the front door towards the ambulance. Because the baby was life-flighted to Portland, Don didn’t know how the baby was doing. You see, these officers try to come back, to fill their hearts with innocence and grace. But there is no coming back; there is only compromise. These cases change you forever. The least we can do is say thank you.
My personal challenge is to change one person’s day every day. I want that person to go home and talk about me; to not know my name but to know my kindness, grace and compassion. I challenge you to join me. I guarantee if my husband was thanked by a stranger, if his boss received a letter pointing out the ways he was professional and thorough or if he received a hug from a child…it would be the first thing I heard about when he walked through the door. That is the impact we can have. We can give people hope. We can give people joy. We can. I have seen it.