Yesterday I was privileged to spend a day with a really phenomenal guy and his equally phenomenal wife…just catching up and laughing and making a few pretty horrible jokes.  This guy happens to be the man that taught me my job wasn’t recruiting, it was listening…and he taught me how to use peoples’ names when I talk to them.  Have you ever thought about the conversations we have where we don’t EVER call the person by name?  Listen to yourself…

Anywhooo.  I’d taken a friend with me over to his place in Maryland as I knew that they would instantly get along and have very similar interests (and personalities).  I wasn’t off on that one at all.  After crabs and a couple of beers and whatnot on the dock, we moved inside to cozy up with several of the eight dogs present and just take on the world with BS and all that fun stuff.  Eye-opening to me.

I often speak of the ‘proverbial bus’ coming down to take you out on the road of life.  I’m tasked with coming up with a succession plan for my role in my company.  I do not need that stuff.  I am bullet proof.  But one day you go in for quasi-elective surgery and come out on the other side with a massive infection that really does take you out of the game.  Totally.

My dear friend has that going on with him now.  A little fix the broken foot, oh look!  Houston, we have a problem.  Without going into the whatevers and whatfors…his issues are very real and very current and very painful.  So when I talked to him about what it meant to me about conquering the world and happiness and blather…he listened very patiently (thank you!)…and then pointed out that he had never really taken more than five days off in about thirty years.  And suddenly was faced with a ten WEEK layover that the clock is still ticking on.

He very aptly pointed out that the bus doesn’t always kill you, but it does make you stop in your tracks and have to regroup, redesign and redirect.  The recent VW commercial series of startling car accidents with the comment, Life Happens at You Fast, is about those changes.  Yes, safety in automobile design is important.  But much more important is designing your life so that you remain in charge.  In peace with the evolution.  Plan ahead.  Plan accurately.  Dream wildly.

He told my friend, as they discussed investment property and a myriad of other things, watch what I do and do the exact opposite.  Surrounded by the beauty of what he’s done and achieved with his brilliant wife, I don’t believe that.  I know that he meant timing is important and listening to the undertows of the market.  But life?  It happens at you fast.  And heaven forbid that we should wait for the timing to be right.

Thanks for the day and the lessons learned.  I appreciate it.


So much of our day-to-day activities involves rote behaviour.  Coffee, check.  Paper, check.  Email, check.  It is a robotron kind of mentality that keeps us moving forward.  Sad but true.

This past weekend was a wake up call for me to Snap Out of It!  I was confronted by my very own self and forced to face the realization that things were happening all around me, that time, that measurable yet sneaky thing, was slapping me on the shoulder, “How are you today, Ellen?  Been around a while?”  Well.  Now.

My very favorite daughter came home from North Carolina very early Saturday morning, about 3AM.  She went immediately to bed after checking in, got up at 6:30 to get her car inspected.  That’s my girl.  Actually that’s NOT my girl…I am far far from being slightly as disciplined as she.  But I love her attention to getting it done.

Once car inspections and a wee nap were over, off we went to sit outside Panera in Springfield.  We had lunch and talked details about things we needed to talk about.  And marvelled that we were sitting outside a Panera in Springfield.  Three months ago it was a dumpy Blockbusters, wasn’t it?  Left Panera and went to a bridal shop.

A bridal shop.

Me.  Her.  A bridal shop.  What is up with that?  She’s getting married?  I’m sorry; I do believe she is still three years old and discovering fireflies for the first time.  Married?  To that Brit guy?  Who says rawwwwnch instead of ranch when asking for salad dressing and wonders why no one understands.  I adore him.  He loves my Anna.  But marry her?

So to a bridal shop we went and she tried on a couple of dresses that vaguely smacked of her and Tina and Mandy dressing up in the good old days of innocent childhood.  She tried on a couple of others and oh-dear-heavens, look at you…you are a gorgeous young woman and you are a bride and I am so thrilled-happy-emotional that you are at a place in your life when your future really becomes your own.  So a simple dress becomes a gown that becomes the bride that marries her Dan.

Obviously that has some impact on me.  Every time I turn around there are changes in my world that smack me, often to my very core.  One has enlisted in the Marines.  One is getting married.  One works two jobs to pay medical bills from an ill-timed skate-boarding accident.  One is three and thinks his world revolves around Him!  Him!  Him!  My life.

Even work has its passages.  The office that has been my home for four years will be changing soon.  The view outside my window will no longer be the berm between us and Burke Centre Parkway but instead (if I squint), cherry trees and gentle light.  I embrace that.  It will give me new energy to charge into this next phase.  I may have to paint the joint myself, but I’ll be calling it ‘home base’ for at least the next year.  I hope that the people who drop in now to chat will find it possible to drop in there instead.  Better food choices, kids!  I swear!  Mondays are $5 burgers at Hard Times!

All of us have things coming up that involve time passing.  Last first days of school.  First first days of school.  New jobs.  New opportunities.  Time switching back.  Dark is early.  Cold is not the a/c.  Leaves will fall.  We can either run headlong, arms open wide, and grasp the change.  Or we can try to pretend  it isn’t happening to us.  The old ostrich move of head in the sand.

I now pronounce you man and wife.

Hell, I’m twelve aren’t I?  Or did I miss something?

Have you ever been somewhere or talked to someone who made you inspired to do better?  To do more?  To put yourself out there on that fragile limb that says I absolutely trust you?

I spent several days this past week in Denver.  I bonded with a tremendous group of people who not only are my teammates, but I would call them friends.  I met a slew of other folks that empowered me to think outside my little box here in northern Virginia.  Discovering opportunities that I didn’t even know existed … just by exchanging information with people.  And best yet….because RE/MAX Allegiance took seventeen of its Broker/Managers and Owners and staff to the conference, we are offered the opportunity to bring ALL our associates at half price to the convention in Vegas in March.  I’m feeling pretty lucky here right now, and I’m not even remotely CLOSE to Vegas.

I also learned a few humbling things.  I left my phone, inadvertently behind on my kitchen table.  I was able to ask Gwen to go out of her way to get it for me so that I wouldn’t be text-less.  Is that not selfish?  I cannot believe how plugged in I am.   Not that I had anything to do with the something-like-fourteen-hour-trip Gwen had from DC to Denver aside, thank you, friend!  My family was wondering who I was texting from random phones to make sure all was well in my home world.  (Note to self:  NEVER EVER EVER make a long distance call on a hotel phone.  Ten minutes = $23.46.

I was fired from map reading along the ‘trails’ of the Garden of the Gods.  It wasn’t MY fault, however.  They could have marked the trails a wee bit better wouldn’t you say?????  I also know that I will never be asked to be a partner on The Amazing Race.  That one stung a little; I’d always thought I would win a million dollars.  

An exceptionally important personal thing I learned is that Kathy Moore, aka Kathleen Fulton, is the best.  (So are you, Steve.)  I was originally scheduled to spend some time with them over the weekend and things shifted and whatnot…suddenly it was Tuesday afternoon and I am flying out the next day.  So what does my crazy, longest friendship from fourth grade do?  She convinces her Steve to drive an hour to meet me and catch-up and have a couple of beers at a really amazing out-of-the-way pizza joint.  Their faithfulness to our friendship makes me humble.

When I got back I was greeted with great joy and happiness by Niko, the scariest dog ever to live on the planet.  Amongst others who are not scary that are family and live in my heart.  It was 96 degrees when I landed back in DC.  But it felt like home as I felt beloved from the moment my feet hit the pavement.

Tonight?  Friday.  48 hours later.  How do I feel?  I feel empowered professionally because of the attention that RE/MAX Allegiance pays to making sure that everyone gets what they need in able to move forward.  It is almost ten at night and I am writing this on my deck.  I have a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt on.  The weather has shifted a bit.  I feel…coooooooool.  I have been caught up in a maelstrom that captures the essence of my life and makes me smile.  And worry.  And always always trust.  And I am part of something that is greater than I, and for that I am very thankful. 

Sometimes I have a sort-of goofy smile on my face.  I often don’t know why; perhaps my mind retreats back to retrieve memories that tweak a smile.  Tonight…my frogs are frogging.  The world is spinning on its axis.  And I know for sure that the sun will rise in the east….and I am absolutely guaranteed to turn my face to it.  Isn’t that right, my sunshine?

It’s been a good week.

I got up about six-ish Monday.  My bedside table clock is set for fifteen minutes later.  Roll your eyes.  I already have done it.  Sometimes I forget to put my cell on vibrate and therefore get various dings/bells/whistles for things that I don’t even understand how to open.  But I do have some sort of weird internal alarm that has me on doze button about twenty minutes before the real deal.

Someone that knows me well had already texted me…good morning…..about two seconds before I realized I was awake.  Some0ne else (GWENNNN!) hoped I would drive safe and don’t text when I’m driving.  Oh heck.  You guys are taking all the fun out of a Monday roadtrip.  Seriously?

Heigh ho, heigh ho….it is off to work I go.  Starbucks coffee (with a straw so I don’t need to go  to buy a way-too-good-looking shirt)….(don’t suck in too fast, it will burn the whoknowswhatsit out of the back of your throat.  Just a friendly tip from me to you)

Long day.  Fun day.  LOVED meeting Regina, our great recruiter down there in Hampton Roads.  She will make us all proud, no doubt…not to mention she is an awful lot of good stuff to work with.  A personal favorite, Amy Carder, makes life a little fun for me.  And that puts her up in my fave list!  She brought Regina to  RE/MAX Allegiance’s  attention…and absolutely yes….Regina will build upon our already successful stuff.

Fast forward to today, Thursday.  Big storms blew in.  Trees blew down.  I sat in my car watching literal sheets of rain wash it clean.  There was no way-no how I was going to get out into that.  Especially since I no longer own a functioning umbrella.  Besides…great coversations can be had in cars when you can’t drive because you can’t see but the a/c is working so you are just relishing the quiet little slice of heaven. 

RE/MAX International’s Broker/Owner Conference starts on Sunday…so off to Denver I go.  Seventeen of the Broker-Owners/Managers/Staff will be heading out there.  It is going to be a really great event with a lot of networking, bonding, laughing…and perhaps a karaoke session?  One never knows.   I will miss my three trusty readers while I am gone.  Perhaps I’ll even get really crazy up there in that altitude and I’ll take fun pictures and post and blog from there.  My friend, Brian, says I’m really going to enjoy the running there.  Was he kidding me?  I’m really looking forward to finding out. 

Colorado will be a new state for me, but it won’t accomplish the dream I’ve established with someone.  Two down, forty eight GREAT ones to go!!!!  Next convention:  Vegas, March 2011!  At least that will be three!

Let the good times roll.

If I offend some people, I apologize for that.

We all do things believing in the end result.  We buy houses based on the faith we are making the right decision.  We move, cross country, go to Afghanistan as a civilian to be with the one we love…and to build a better nation….because we have faith that this is the right choice.  We step away from those we love because sometimes loving them is a detriment, an enabler, to their troubles.  I took a class yesterday that I didn’t want to waste four hours on.  I came away with a lot.  One of those ‘lots’ was ‘begin with the end in mind.’

Faith.  It comes in all kinds of packages.  All the religions are wrapped up in faith.  We have faith that the sun will rise in the east; set in the west.  The bank will open in the morning.  My debit card will work.

Who am I to consider what is plausible and what is not?  Isn’t it really to have the basic fundamental that at the end, all things will become clear?  The why this?  Why that?  A little gift, with enormous implications, was given to me in November, 1999.  I don’t want to get into the whatevers and wherevers, but the bottom line is that I have known it will all work out in the end.  I may not GET IT right now, but I’ll get it one day.

This world we live in, everyone wants to know the whys and hows and wherefores.  NOW.  That isn’t real.  It is skewed information.  I sold a house several years ago where the buyer asked me if I could guarantee him that he’d make money in four years.  My response was very simple….if I could answer that question I would not be selling real estate.  I would be directing my empire from my yacht in the Med.  Please.

I see things that I believe in.  Embrace totally.  Have no doubt about it whatsoever.  There are other things that are harder because I ask the what-ifs this that the other thing.  What if.

The bigger question comes to mind is what if I didn’t believe in the first place?  What then?  I walk by faith.  I walk that the sun will rise in the east.  I walk by loving the life that I have.  I walk by faith in the future.

I even sometimes run.

Have you ever thought about what you could do if you could go back to this, that place, any place that meant something to you in your life?

Occasionally those opportunities arise and we see them.  We recognize them.  We know that we should seize them.  But time is a factor.  Everything is a factor.  So we turn our heads and pretend that we just don’t see.  Carry on!  Good and faithful servant! 

But what are we really told?  Stop.  Today I smelled rain coming in.  I could see it coming in from the clouds approaching me.  I could hear it coming in.  Rumbles of thunder.  But the rain itself?  I smelled it coming in.  And what a glorious reminder it was.  Stop, Ellen Girl, as my Daddy would say.  Look and listen and feel….he taught us all of that as we grew up.  I know I’ve mentioned that I’m one of many.  So imagine poor Mom getting us all to bed in her very scheduled way….which was a feat that should be noted by many, including Guiness….and my dear old dad, would be reading.  Almost like that hound dog, Snuff, he’d sense that storm coming.  And much to my oh-so-patient mother’s “amazement”, he’d go roust us out of bed on these sorts of summer evenings to watch the storm roll in.  Teach us to count the distance between Thunder and Lightening….keeping us safe from direct lightning strikes.  (or perhaps he was trying to rid himself of some college tuitions….nah…..not my dad).  He taught, they taught; me to learn to pause.  Feel this world around you and the pulses it provides.  Learn from what we have shown you.

To learn to appreciate what you have one must learn to see.  It isn’t neat and clean in my world.  Anna’s  left me.  I have to clean up the disaster before she comes home on Monday.  Toilet bowl rings.  Cat hair.  Dog hair.  My hair. Once you get beyond the ‘stunning inefficiency’ of my life…you would grip that I used to really care about this immaculate life.  So much so that even I recognize the change.  I’m not hoarding cats.  I’ve promised Anna that.  Only one cat at a time.  EVER! 

In everyone’s life a little rain must fall.  Yes, I know, I should google it and give credit.  Here’s credit:  I am quoting it from someone else that is famous.

It has been a bit rainy here in my life over the last 24 hours, life happens over and over again unceasingly.  But every night the frogs sing to me their glorious “Hey, Baby” songs.  (I make this up as I go along, but those frogs….they are doing some sort of chatting!).  I’m tired.  Fighting a battle that seems to never quite end. 

Interestingly enough, I have a smile on my face.

Carpe diem.  Seize the day.  I totally understand what that means.  I did it.

It did happen fast.  One minute we were looking at the Memorial Day weekend…suddenly we are well past Independence Day and heading for the Dog Days of August.  I do love it.  The hot sweltry nights sitting on my deck.  I sit there and gaze up at the night sky while the cacophany of night sounds surround me, along with the evening cloak of humidity, reminding me that there are people that don’t get DC summer!

Key the music, boys….the best part is that the traffic is miniscule compared to the ‘school year’ stuff.  If I can go from Springfield to the Lee Highway office in twenty minutes down 395?  Hot damn, summer’s in the city!  Everyone is on the beach.  In the mountains.  Anywhere but here!  That is so….

….wait.  I am here.  It isn’t wrong.  Taking advantage of slower days…and longer nights…makes it possible for us to survive the short days and cold nights ahead.  This weekend I ran for the first time after my little Bobble Head moment a month ago.  It felt SO good.  For some sweating is not exactly high on their priority list; I completely get that.  When I am working if I am drenched like I just climbed out of the pool like (I’d say Mark Spitz but that would make me sound, uhm, old) Michael Phelps, it just doesn’t convey the right image.  So I try and keep that side of me outside of the work realm.  I can tell you, however, that once you learn to embrace a real hard-working sweat…you can handle ANYTHING.

Summer’s hot here at @ RE/MAX Allegiance. Gwen’s welcoming in Heather Carlson in Franconia…..I’m delighted that Sharon Jones is coming on board in Lee Highway…and Deb has a couple things stirring slightly farther south.  Oh…and you Virgina Beach/Chesapeake folks?  Say hello to Regina Bishop.  You will be so glad that you said hi to her! 

I’ve had some hysterical laugh moments with folks in the last few days that I wouldn’t trade for the world.  Big people, middle people and little people.  It has just been a good few hot days.

In the meantime, I am going enjoy the lighter traffic in the DC world.  I know that as we get beyond Labor Day we are….baaaackkkk….innnnnn…..the reallll….world.

So let summer lovin’ happen too fast.  The living is easy.  Embrace the time.  The leisure.  The frogs in the evening.  I changed my FB picture back to a pic of me and the G during (one of) the blizzard last year.  Cooled me right on down.

Let me pour you some of my Mama’s Iced Tea.