Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Prayer

I was the neighborhood babysitter when the kids were young. We often had a collection of neighbhood children playing in our driveway before school at our home on  Happy Hollow Court. The kids loved it. But as much as they liked playing with the "babysitting" kids they liked a little quiet time alone with me before the activity began. So they got up early. Very early. ( as sleep deprived teenagers they lamented their lost sleeping opportunities...) One of the favorite activities before babysitting friends, before school, was reading. Outloud. By me.
We could just feel the chill of the Long Winter as we read by our fireplace on those dark winter morning. I could hardly hold back the tears as Laura left her family home to marry Almonzo. The girls laughed at Nellie Olsons leaches on the Banks for Plum Creek. We all had our favorite book in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series ( Nobody really liked Farmer Boy though.) Time to turn the page? A "tap, tap" on the chosen childs head was the code. The funny little things that seem meaningless , over time became woven into something more. Something bigger.Our hearts and our bodies knit together on our couch transported our spirits. Our little cozy cocoon was also a prayer.

"Sometimes the best prayer comes out of reading rather than praying. Good reading touches all the questions of our life, stretches us beyond ourselves to find answers and brings us face-to-face with the Mystery that is God." -Joan Chittistero

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why Do You Run?

It was a busy day yesterday. I began the morning with a tinge of angst. As I checked the newly listed properties I noticed that a friend of mine had listed with another agent. Ouch. I know, I know, there are many reasons sellers might not list with me but still, ouch.

My friend Abby and I started our real estate careers at the same time. I did well. She took off like a rocketship. In addition, often when I checked the "hot sheet" of new listings I found familiar names listing with others. Ouch.

But here is what I learned that first year, and was reminded of again yesterday. My job is to do my job. My job is to make every effort to be the person I want to be. Here is what happed to me. As I learned to truly be happy for my friend, being her friend became not just a joy to me but also a help to my business. As I helped her  my business also benefited. I would do an open house for her....and I found a buyer etc. I continue to be her biggest cheerleader and she is mine.

So, yesterday my twinge of ouch quickly left. I rested in what I have learned. And let go and set out for my day and to work on my business.  At peace. 

It was pie day. My friends grandchildren were visiting her and Conner loves to bake pies and I love to be with those sweet children.  Monday afternoon was our pie baking date . As schedules often do, mine got filled up quickly and I was so tempted to cancel pie baking. Here's why.  I got a call to list two houses. Today. I'm learning not to be surprised. One listing "lost" two gained.

But I knew urgent and important are not always the same thing. So we baked pies. I stopped "running" And it was my sabbath hour. The most fulfilling, joyful hour of the day.  And listed TWO houses.

Rabbi Levi saw a man running in the street, and asked him "why do you run"? He replied, "I am running after my good fortune!" Rabbi Levi tells him "Silly man, your good fortune has been trying to chase you, but you are running too fast."
Traditional Tale

Monday, June 20, 2011

Third Best

As I hung up the phone moments ago DJ Dales segue was  "now for the other half of the mother daughter team". I had just pitched one of our new listings and now it was Emilys turn to pitch another one.

Emily is a teacher without a teaching job. A really good teacher in a not so good economy. So with a bit of encouragement from her realtor mother she got her real estate license. Call it plan B. And those of use with more than a few decades behind us, and the young who will listen to us,  have learned that sometimes plan B or C or even D are not to be missed. As my nephew Sam recently spoke about in his Valdictory graduation speech he is thankful for his failures as they led him to where he is today.

Emily is my buddy. My youngest. The only child to stick around her hometown. Most that know her (even her siblings)  would agree that she is simply one of the most delightful people you care to know.

The funny thing is that real estate is not plan A for either of us.  It is definately B or C.  She is a teacher without a job, a coach without a team. I am a mom whose kids grew up and a wife whose husband now needs me to share the financial responsibility.

The two greatest blessings in my life are my marriage and the children born to that marriage. I was a child in my twenties when these gifts were given. In hindesite I see how amazing it is that we as well intentioned but immature people we have managed to hang on to the goodness of our marriage and not fall prey to the distruction of the pain of it. Likewise how we managed to parent while still in the unconsiousness and baggage of our youth and raise four children of sound character who love each other, the Lord and us, is nothing short of amazing. Grace.

As I see it, at this moment in my life, my third greatest blessing is the partnership between Emily and I. Grace yes, but in this case consciousness as well. A Thomas Merton fan, he has shaped my decision to yield to the Divine. To know that knowing best isn't everything. That my ego is often the biggest road block to the greater good. That " In order to become myself I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be, and in order to find myelf I must go out of myself, and in order to live I have to die". T. Merton.

Emily and I work together. Everyday. She is, as they say, "hungry". And she is good. She interacts with clients as if she has done this her whole life. She attributes her success to me and I attribute mine to her. Each time a seller or buyer comes to us we say to each other "feel free to take this one yourself, please don't feel you have to share". but we want to. We like working together. In spite of spliting all of our proceeds I have never had more business and never made more money that I have this year. It seems we are greater than the sum of our parts.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  I am learning how little I know. How the One that created me knows me best, and how failure and disapointment can be simply a segue to a greater good. Like  honestly saying I LOVE my job! Here is to failures, plans B or C, and the third best things in life!  Like Dales segue "now for the other half of the mother daughter team". .........

Sunday, June 12, 2011

This my grateful hymn of praise

Franklin at my feet, cats finished their playtime fight ( Lizzie left, Henry fell asleep),  the top of the poplar trees in the park swaying and the leaves of the fruit trees providing gentle sounds and breeze, the tomato plants looking taller overnight, first cup of coffee finished, paper perused,Paul relaxed and chatting across from me. Soon the walk, the garden,  the grocery list, the print outs for open house, the emails returned......

"For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise."

Soon the walk, the garden,  the grocery list, the print outs for open house, the emails returned......but not yet. First I savor.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy as Kings?

"The world is so full of a number of things,I'm sure we should all be happy as Kings".
I know. But I don't.
I miss : sitting by the pool on a summer day, watching kids play soccer ( and talking with the parents), playing golf, (NEVER thought I'd say that), neighboring, pushing kids on the park swings, enjoying a cocktail without getting a headache, sleeping all night, having a full table at dinner.....
But I'm learning to savor, or at least accept, the discomfort of the moment. And be ready for the next. I'm betting even kings have melancholy days.

Monday, June 6, 2011

June morning on the deck

Coffee in hand, laptop on lap, Franklin at my feet, Henry laying on oposite chair ( the lone sunny spot), gentle breeze, swaying branches, noisey birds(mostly Robins this year, miss my Cardinals) , a distant siren, rushing cars. The day awaits. And wait it must. Another moment or two

"Let us remain as empty as possible so that God can fill us up".
 Mother Teresa.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

First we have Coffee

As coffee is one of my pure delights in life it seems a fitting first post as we get to know one another....

A few of the things I love about coffee; The sound of the water being poured in, the sound of the drip, the sound of the carafe being pulled off the burner, the sound of the steaming liquid ( I swear I can hear the steam rising from the mug) , the aroma filling the kitchen, and eventually the feel of my hands wrapped around the mug, breathing in the fragrance of sumatra dark roast ( no light brown stuff for me). And then, finally, finally the first sip. Refreshment for mind body and spirit.

( Speaking of mugs. This is an important part. Four fingers need to fit through the handle and the top needs to be no wider than the bottom. I have my favorite, just the right size and shape, painted with Norwegian folk, handed down to me from my mother.)

 Now, I enjoy a cup almost any time of day but by far the best cup of the day is usually the first. This is why. I usually I get to hear all this from my beloved bed as my beloved husband ( who doesn't touch the stuff) makes this for me every morning and he delivers it to me along with the morning paper.
 I savor and sip my morning cup and soak in the new day and the trees outside my window. Whether snow covered, or bare, newly budding or lush floiage, sun or clouds, I relish the beauty. It is often a sacred moment.

As rich as those solitary moments are some days there is  even a better cup. The days I have coffee.  As in "to coffee". The noun and the verb at once. How much fellowship, how many tears, joys, or secrets have been shared while cradling the steamy mug in hand sitting across the kitchen table? Perhaps I will share some of my stories later, I would love for you to share some of yours.

I come from good Norwegian stock so perhaps it's part genetic. I have a coffee pot from my great-grandmother Katinka. Another Norwegian, Margaret Jensen titled her book "First we have Coffee". Her preface includes these word that sum up her, and my, not only love of coffee but the sacredness of it. 

"Slowly we walked to the big house where logs blazed and coffee perked. As old stories and familiar hymns filled the air, the warmth of friendship and loving memories filled our hearts.
With coffee cup in hand I moved close to the fire to watch the flaming logs. An amber glow of love and warmth  engulfed me and I knew that Mama lived on somewhere beyond the storm, safely in the house of the Lord forever.
I also knew that I had to write the story of Mama and her Norwegian coffee, poured with that some amber glow of love.
Being the eledest, I remember much. The story began for me when I found Mama's Norwegian diary in the right hand corner of an old chest-but before se start, first we have coffee."

Daughter Anna and husband John Marshall were home this weekend.Young professionals starting careers we hadn't seen them in months. They arrived during the wee hours after a 10 hour drive and slipped into the basement guest room. As I sat at the kitchen table the next morning coffee in hand they each in turn padded up the stairs, stopped first at the coffee pot, poured their cup, gave me a hug and joined me at the table and we began to catch up. By first having coffee.

Seeking, Savoring and Sharing

I am here. What a gift. I don't take this for granted. I have been here for almost 52 years. I have learned a few things along the way, not just because my years are mounting up but because I am a seeker of wisdom. Wisdom comes for me usually in the small, ordinary moments. If any moment is really ordinary.

I am learning to savor. Each moment. Quite easily in joy, still a struggle in pain. I am learning to be present, here, now, with each breath. To not run from the pain, to not  hold on to the joy too long. To yield to what is, to hold the moment gently and then release it.  To recognize it for the gift it is. But we so often "have eyes but do not see and ears but do not hear" (Jeremiah )

I know the importance of sharing. I am a sponge for the wisdom others have poured out.  Many of my musing are nothing more than recyled thoughts of others. "There is nothing new under the sun"( Ecclesiastes).  

These musing are my attempt to see and hear, seek and savor and perhaps in the process share a drop or two with you.

"Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy" Rabi Heschel