Walking Into Your Future

I was asked to participate in a new mentor program for freshmen in Social Science Majors at my Alma Mater. I decided quickly to fill out the questionnaire and even though I missed the deadline, they asked me to join. I am learning to try new things without a complete outline of what to expect and this was a last minute thought.

I was a bit nervous driving back to college because it had been a while and the campus has grown quite a bit. Luckily, they set up a free parking area which as everyone knows is a huge gift that eases stress to start the day. I only made one wrong turn but recovered enough to walk into the building on time. I figured being a mentor meant being prompt was a big deal. I was met with this emblem which caused me to stop and pause —

Walking Back In Time

I went back to college late in life. I was losing myself in adult choices and responsibilities and a very wise counselor helped me find a goal — one goal, something I could work toward that overruled my emotions. It gave me a chance to test my tenacity and work toward something difficult to achieve. My success or failure depended on no one but me.

College Life

I found my way to the building that housed my classes for 3 years. It’s funny the nostalgia that happens in an instant. I appreciated everything about my quest for a degree because it was such a dark choice in my past to not finish what I had started at 18. I veered off my path but second chances are the best part of life.

A Goal Fulfilled

I was met by the nicest people who welcomed me with enthusiasm. This was the start of a test program and I have always known that to be on the ground floor of anything at the beginning is always the best place to be. They matched me with my student. Funny how things work out. His mentor did not show up nor did my student. We were meant to meet. He was equipped with an audio recorder and off we went to figure out who might be helping who.

He was well organized with questions. I was happy to answer. . . .

  • Who did I admire growing up? (my maternal grandmother)
  • What was my childhood like?(outside all day)
  • Did my parents talk to me about college? (no, nor did guidance counselors)
  • What made me decide to attend this college? (location because I had a family at home)
  • Why Psychology? (my experience in family law exposed me to many broken people, I wanted to understand how to help)
  • How had the campus changed since I was there? (more buildings, parking and dorms)
  • What was the same about the campus . . . .

I had to think about what was the same. I watched the students walking the same way with backpacks and direction. I thought for a minute and realized they were Walking Into Their Future. They were showing up. They were making choices. They kept going even when it got difficult. No one kept track of them, they were independent and free. The tree in the quad was a constant and a symbol of growth.

Tree of Growth

And last but the most important questions of the day. . . What have you learned since you first started your career? What did graduation lead you to?

I had to think about that. When I was younger I would have answered quickly without a lot of thought. I wanted to help him understand what life experience can teach as you look back and have some clarity.

I learned that listening and allowing people to be who they are was not who I was when I started. I thought that my way was the best way to a successful life. I talked a lot. I was nervous and filled the silence with words that meant very little. I wanted everyone to be happy with me. I spent little time in thought about being centered and most of all, I was a shell of a person who had limited risk taking experience.

I am not completely whole yet, there is still more to do. But there was a moment when I realized that observing was an achievement that helped me feel peace. The word advice is gone from my mind and replaced with “what do you think?” People deserve to be heard, to have new ideas and be on their own journey to joy. I can watch from afar without stepping in unless asked to.

I laughed when I saw two signs of things I missed out on by going back to college late in life. I have traveled and been an enthusiastic member of the audience but I could never go back and do these things. . . .

What Fun This Would Have Been
The Actress in Me Untested

My last thoughts to the amazing student I had the pleasure of getting to know and who is just beginning to think about his career. . . Try everything, don’t say you can’t do something — you never know where it will lead. Be you! Keep going even when you think life is too hard.

Oh and don’t get into debt so that you are forced to stay in a job you don’t love!

My question to him before we ended “if you could wake up tomorrow and be in any career what would it be?” He smiled and thought. I could tell he had not thought about it that way — being practical could be off the table for a moment. He had a spark in his eye when he said maybe a fashion designer. I told him that one day he could design something for me.

I’m not sure who got more out of our hour together. I know this for sure that being around young people keeps me energized. If he walked away with a few ideas, it was a huge success. I walked away feeling grateful that I had a second chance at college. I had fulfilled my goal and watching him Walk Into His Future was a moment I will treasure.

Choosing a Career — Find Your Passion!

The linchpin faces a fork in the road:

You can try to make your job have more. More impact, more responsibility, more leverage.

Or you can be industrial about it and try to have your job involve less. Less risk, less effort, less to fear.

Is your ideal job one where you get paid but no one even knows you work there . . . Or is it to bring your hopes and dreams and talents to a position where you can change things for the better?

Seth Godin

I have had many jobs in my search for myself and my passion. I started working when I was 16 and am forever grateful to my parents for making this a condition for participating in extracurricular activities in high school. They required me to pay for gas when I drove their car and my song leader camp and outfits. It was a turning point in my growth and feeling of independence. I started as a school secretary for the night school at my high school and then landed a retail position as the “Youth Council” representative for my high school. I attended monthly meetings and my input was taken into account for the store buyers of the teen clothing department. I was also able to pick up shifts at the store on weeknights and weekends. I was busy. I learned to show up on time. I loved getting a paycheck. I knew that if I didn’t show up that I was letting them down. My parent’s rule gave me a great start.

After high school graduation I got a job at a bank. I learned about checking and savings accounts and as an employee I was given a credit account with a $300 limit. I never realized it until the other day that I learned every job that bank had to offer. I watched everyone and decided that I wanted to be the utility person. I could fill in for anyone who was sick or on vacation. It took about a year to learn what I needed to. I honestly do not know how I came up with that thought but it planted a seed that has stayed with me in every job I have taken. Be the one to raise your hand to help.

Okay, it sounds like my work life has been seamless — not so fast! There would always come a point in any job when I felt I could do more, be more — make more money. I started a family and went back to college. I was always searching for what my perfect fit was. It led to a lot of starting and stopping. I’ve had a lot of “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Be curious and never stop learning but focus on a goal.

Every career journey is personal. No one can help or get too involved in your choices. It is about asking questions, learning from mistakes and finding people who do the job that you would like to do. It’s about finding companies that motivate your best ideas and concepts. It’s about realizing that starting at the bottom is always the best step.

Thoughts on Goals

My husband and I owned a restaurant for about 4 years. It required me to quit my law office job and become the manager. I was terrible at the day to day operations. I lived for getting out in the community and marketing what we could make happen for group activities. We were stressed every day. We drove far to get there. We had 4 kids who were not getting the best from us. The day we sold was the happiest day of my life. I re-enrolled in college and spent more time at home. It became my LINCHPIN — my fork in the road. I started to set priorities.

College gave me courage. Part time work gave me flexibility. I took part time jobs that taught me something I didn’t know and then I would move on. I began to think like an entrepreneur— I liked making decisions that felt like me. I was able to keep this going for quite a while. I graduated from college. I focused on law offices. My kids went out on their own. I traveled to seminars in other states. I learned how others made their way. I loved my journey but had one problem — I wasn’t making much money. That became a problem when my husband (the best breadwinner I could ask for) retired. It was time to put all my talk and education into action. Once the pressure of income came into my head, I lost my confidence. I had grown comfortable with the flexibility of part time, of going to seminars and thinking that was doing something, of learning how to set up my website and of listening to podcasts. Time for less talk, less strategy and more action.

I had one more challenge — getting my real estate license. My idea was to work with families/individuals to avoid the pitfalls I saw of home buying and the stress it caused. I had a plan — it revolved around what I had finally found as my passion — Organizing — I have found my center. I have variety. I have flexibility. Organization helps everyone I work with feel settled. My dream career mix (finally) —

  • Law Office Administrator
  • Substitute Teacher
  • Realtor
  • Organizer of Homes, Home Offices and Small Business Books

These tools have served me well —

  • My parent’s rule — get a job to pay for high school activities;
  • Be the one to raise your hand to help others;
  • Be curious and never stop learning but focus on a goal;
  • Starting at the bottom is always the best step;
  • Set priorities once you have some experience;
  • Know when thinking about strategy needs to end — less talk and more action —
  • Know your passion — find jobs that need it!

Retirement Through My Eyes

This week Chris and I went for our annual eye exam together. We have been seeing our optometrist for the entire 36 years we have lived in our home. All of our kids have seen him. He has witnessed all of our life changes and it’s nice that at least once a year we can catch up. He is patient and kind and relieves our worries of aging eyes.

Today he proclaimed that Chris is the perfect man. His eyes are so different in vision that they balance each other and he no longer needs contacts just a minimal prescription for reading glasses. Now, this is a big deal. I, on the other hand, am trying to find the CAPITAL E on the chart. His test of my left eye was just a big blur and I am always taking the peripheral test (the one with the Jeopardy buzzer) with sweaty palms — please let me see the green dot!

I went first. I gave as many details in my allotted time of our last year as I could. Even though I started first, Chris finished before me which tells you our relationship story without words. Our doctor made the fatal mistake of asking me what was happening with retirement and I proceeded to fill him in on how the last four years have been going — luckily I have spent a small fortune with him so he is not losing money when I come in.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • I was not happy for the first year as I was used to being home alone in my own world;
  • I am not fond of whistling — Chris is happy when he’s whistling;
  • After raising four kids, I was not in the mood to answer questions about my productivity and goal setting capabilities;
  • Chris being the amazing landscaper that he is, stepped up his weed-eater and blower duties — all which make noise and create dust;
  • I am the tech person in our home — my name was being called a bit more often to come to the rescue of wayward laptops and streaming devices;
  • I am an everything has a place girl and I am not good when things are dropped with no container underneath.

After four years, here is what I’ve learned:

  • Chris was allowed to be home — suggesting different activities or software for him to learn only put those things at the bottom of his “to do” list;
  • Whistling meant he was home and happy — unless we are in the car, I don’t hear it anymore;
  • He could in one sentence call me out on my bright shiny object syndrome; it turns out goals and objectives are a good thing in my world and have led me to the best career I have ever had;
  • Our yards are so beautiful — they have always been his place to be calm and creative — I just close the windows when I hear noise;
  • I strongly encourage reading manuals or watching a tutorial video — the technical side of life is either loved or hated and unless you love the challenge like me, just get to know what you deal with daily.
  • I had to let up a bit on my “everything in it’s place” but he takes his shoes off at the back door now. Don’t get me wrong there is never a wayward glass or a bed unmade but you will find the laundry overflowing a bit more and there are water marks on the bathroom mirrors now.
Life Is Better At The Beach

At the end of the visit, our doctor proclaimed that he will probably never retire. I told him just stay part time and ease into it.

Compromise is the key. The alternative is being consumed with loneliness. While the beds are made, the dust is barely there and the kitchen floor is clean ~~ the whistling is gone.

Celebrating Together

Why Organize and Where To Start . . . .

I love watching the CBS This Morning Segments “Note to Self.” Lately, I have been longing for my younger self to give her some tips on organizing her priorities.

There are goals that I could have reached sooner had I realized how simple it would have been to make some commitments early —

  • Pick the first home to be a starter to help build a real estate portfolio of rental properties — I so wish I had kept my first home that was bought for $75,000 in 1979.
  • Don’t be fooled by lower interest rates and refinancing too often, you lose ground every time you re-up any loan for the same term.
  • Don’t start the habit of accumulating things — get out and have adventures instead. It’s really only the big occasions in life that you remember what you wore — BUT — you always remember a trip and who you were with.
  • Keep active forever — feeling good is essential to getting up every day and looking forward to new life experiences.
  • Never stop learning — be curious and stay current on all new technology.

I never asked myself where I want to be in 20/30/40 years. It was not even a flicker of a thought. I never worried about retirement and what that would look like. I thought every book that professed a new idea for success was mandatory reading for me. Buying a family home was huge in my life plan but I never realized how the percentage that it took of the family income would keep adventures out of the realm of possibility. I stopped riding bikes and running on a regular basis — why?

Don’t feel bad for me. My life is good:

  • I have learned to not accumulate clothes or books — there are many of both that I have donated over the last 10 years. Especially those instant business success books that didn’t translate into my success.
  • The closets and cupboards are not hiding unknown surprises. I don’t buy the stuff that used to fill them up — never to be seen again.
  • I graduated from college with my Bachelor Degree later in life. It was a regret I could not ignore — it was worth everything to have that piece of paper.
  • I go over my financial picture every week with the help of Quicken.
  • I love to work and have created a career that incorporates all that I do well and look forward to in my day — I have had many jobs and took the pieces of each that I loved and created When House Is Home.
  • I created this website and am learning how to live in a paperless world (at work and at home). I must admit though, Minecraft still escapes me.

What would you tell your younger self? Do you regret the choices you didn’t make? Is there still time to reach your goals? I say YES!

It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been

P.S. I still need to work on bike riding and running — I will update you on my progress. . . . .

Brave Enough

What I’ve come to notice is that if we are brave enough to allow parts of ourselves to die — old roles, old beliefs, and old identities that no longer serve us — then we can evolve more fully into our authentic selves. Sit with that.

Maria Shriver

Change is scary and hard. It is easier to stay in the comfort zone of every day life. Problem is there is a moment when the question becomes “what if I’d…….”

I got comfortable with the safe pattern of being a nurturer rather than a dreamer. I avoided risk and set myself up for zero growth as I aged. I wanted to make sure that no one was ever angry or disappointed in me. I was becoming a very uninteresting and sad person.

Funny thing, there always comes a day of reckoning with yourself. Here is when it happened for me:

  • I was in the walk-in refrigerator of our restaurant crying for the thousandth time;
  • I had lost my laugh;
  • Our life savings was in that business and I could not walk out;
  • What the heck did I want — no one knew.

I decided it was time to find someone to help me sort out what I was feeling. I found a counselor who did not let me feel sorry for myself. Instead we worked on a finding out what I wanted and setting goals week by week. I lost my tears and gained a plan.

We sold the restaurant a year later. I enrolled in college. I got busy and had to restructure my day so that my kids, my husband and my home did not take the hit for me finding myself. I made the decision that even if I only had the ability to take one class a semester, I would not stop till I completed my degree. It took me almost 15 years but I graduated and found my strength in the process. I did not quit when it got tough. Tests and term papers became my challenge. Although going to school was tough on my family, they never wavered in their support for me.

How does this story relate to When House is Home you ask? Through it all our home was a part of all the changes I went through. I always felt relief that I had this space to give me comfort when I opened the door. It was filled with chaos and love. It was set up to be a happy place. No matter where I was in my world, it never failed me. When a home recharges your spirit — you know it is meant to be yours.

I learned to trust my instincts that the paths I had taken all these years were exactly what I was meant to do. What role do you want to shed? If you could wake up tomorrow and be doing anything, what would it be? I am paying more attention to people who do great things with a simple idea — one of them is 4Ocean. They are two surfers who started cleaning up the ocean trash, one pound at a time.

When House Is Home

What I Learned This Week

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” Henry David Thoreau

My struggle has always been to stay in the present. Writing is my tool to keep me humble. My outward demeanor does not always match what my brain is thinking. I want to laugh all the time but I am so serious most of my days ~~ is it possible to find those waves that Thoreau is talking about?

I subscribe to Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper ~~ she makes me laugh in her quest to be unique, she too is trying to figure out who she is and what she wants aside from expectations and she interviews interesting people with thought provoking problem solving ideas on her podcast “Meaningful Conversations” ~~ all the ingredients that keep me coming back each week. I like the way she approaches life and inspiration is a great way to move forward.

This week my husband and I made a major life decision:

When Downsizing is Not Downsizing

We have been looking at smaller homes in our area. We knew downsizing would be hard but would open up possibilities ~~ smaller yard, smaller inside, more free time. Turns out downsizing would have been more stressful to achieve than we hoped:

  • We would be making a lateral move financially and the security we have built up over our last 36 years would dissolve.
  • My husband’s creative vision for our yard would disappear with a sale and I reminded him, “when our family and friends step outside, they feel your love.”
  • Every room has meaning and that was our plan.
  • A larger home means more movement each day ~~ a good thing for our health.
  • Our neighborhood is familiar and comforting.
  • Watching a moving van pull away would take too much of the life we built together with it.

Home is a feeling ~~ not stuff. We must come up with a new idea for an adventure but we want to come home to the place we love.

And so, we are staying. We are relieved. We laugh more each day. We have to rely on our imaginations to come up with new ways to explore our need for change. We must stay healthy to keep up with our home maintenance schedule. Creative financial planning must become a date night topic.

We are still those two young marrieds with four kids who created a beloved home with meaning. We are not ready to let it go . . . . .

When House Is Home Family

Transition

Take a step back and really know that you want to be a homeowner. If those reasons outweigh your worries about the market, then you are on the right track. When we bought our home 36 years ago, interest rates were 12- 1/4% but we bought to build a family environment that helped ease the stress of a blended family with our kids. Our home is part of the family and has provided a safe refuge to rest, energize and get back out in the world for our kids (we have four) — even though they are now on their own.

Life At Home

If you have a five-year plan to stay, try to buy something that you can keep, pay off and possibly rent out for future retirement income — my biggest regret is that we did not keep the first home we sold when we bought this one.

Make a Plan


If you decide it is time to buy your home, it is likely that you will walk into a house, look around and say “This is Home” . . . . Your journey has begun.

Your Journey

When House is Home

Your home is your recharge station. It starts and ends your day. It is such a good feeling when you walk in the door and look around and love what you see.

Create Your Vision

How many times have you passed by a room, your closet, the garage, the yards or your office and said “it’s time for me to do something about that space.” Months can go by and you still have not found the time to work on the space that is driving you crazy. Contact us — we can help!

Make Your Home Yours

It all starts with a “to do” list and your budget. A simple start is best and we begin with the end in mind. If it was all done — what would it look like? We have used this process to update and organize our own home over the last 34 years — the best feeling is knowing something is getting done and that your list is working.

Set Your Goals

Chris can help with the landscape design or updating of your yards. Start with the basics of making sure the sprinklers are working and then planting of each section can be done over time.  Believe me — our yard did not look like this when we moved in! Over time, following a plan, we realized our vision.

Our Yard Over Time

Sherry can help with organizing those closets, the garage, your office, photos and paperwork. It can be tough to let go of things that you think you might need in the future — but clutter can keep you anxious. Clothes that you save for “some day” can make room for new items that update your look. Photos that have been stored in the back of a closet for years can be brought out and shared. Income tax time can be made easy when paperwork is organized with files that keep getting updated every month. The garage can stop being the “throw and close the door.”

A Simple Place For Everything

 

Go to our CONTACT tab and email us with your “to do” list.  We offer a free first consultation and service all of Orange County, California.