Growing Hope In Unlikely Soil

I’ve been educating myself on appropriate expectations for organic weed control.  My teacher has been the proprietor of an organic weed control service.  He’s militant about organic weed control. This is a strange juxtaposition for a tree-hugging profession. Peace, love, and save the earth one natural application of weed control at a time. But this fellow sounds pissed off. He talks in blacks and whites. In us and thems. Those who believe that putting chemicals into lawns and yards is toxic to us all and those people who don’t?

Were I to meet someone with this approach in a different arena, I would type cast him. I would put him at a rally for Donald Trump, where I easily imagine a person who has the absolute answers, and identifies everyone who doesn’t have the answers. An angry, dissatisfied person who embraces the idea that the world has it out for people like him. In a word: screwed.  By all the bad people who are making things bad for people like him.

An edge creeps into the organic weed controller’s voice, even though I agree with him about the destructive practice of pouring chemicals on and into Mother Earth. He’s singing to the choir!! However, I may not have the budget to take the full-scale integrated approach he mentions to completely nip the weed problem in the bud, and this seems to irritate him.

But what makes joining forces with this edgy weed eradicator an easy decision for me, despite hearing this topic framed in an us and them approach—an approach that generally makes me recoil, arbitrary separations that plant seeds for  the worst of everything in this universe of ours– is that he’s no victim. He’s not sitting around complaining and blaming, the tone at that Trump rally I was ready to consign him to. Nor is he attempting the tactic of insulting and bullying me into submission, another Trump rally approach.

He’s channeling his anger into action. Into organic weed control. This man has hope. That he can make a difference, a positive contribution to improving this world. Yes, one natural application of weed control at a time. And I’ll be right there with him.

I would have easily type cast this man, but I didn’t.  I also think I would have been wrong.

That gives me hope.

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Necco and I Celebrate Anniversaries all about Love

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This year Necco, the New England Confectionery Company, is celebrating the 150th anniversary of their pastel candy conversation hearts by asking people to share “stories of sharing, love, friendship and words from the heart.”

Today I’m celebrating the first day of my newest romance, I’m Sure, sharing this story about friendship and love, and words from a conversation heart. Pond designer Megan is not sure she can trust a man again, and Jason, a firefighter, is the poster boy for unpredictable. Is St. Valentine powerful enough to bring these two together?

Watch for a special appearance by a lavender conversation heart with pink letters spelling out I’m Sure.  But neither Jason or Megan are so sure in the beginning. Find out how a candy heart brings these two together in time for Valentine’s Day!  On sale today at:

http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=6631

 

 

 

 

 

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Tipping the Balance to Radical Security

When I wanted to close out 2015 with visions of sugar plums in my head, I found images of radical terrorism. Not comfort and joy. Fear and violence.
A world in frightening imbalance.
My maternal line is full of scientists. I love magic, but I am fascinated by science. Science is magic. The natural world is embedded with options for balancing. Too acidic. Add any number of substances to create an alkalinity. Dehydrated? Add water. Too cold? Flint and steel plus force equals fire and warmth.
Radical terrorism evolves in individuals who feel disenfranchised. A person who feels deprived of power, rights, and privileges. A person who feels unconnected and unimportant.
How do we counter balance radical terrorism in 2016?
How about radical security? I’m not referring to more guns and walls, video monitoring and prohibitions. That path appears to be a slippery slope that at any moment can increase our terror, not abet it. As children, we feel secure when there is consistence structure in our lives and someone who is present and caring. As adults, we are not so different. Perhaps there is much we can do to counter balance radical terrorism.
Start by rerooting ourselves, reviving ourselves, reminding ourselves, by experiencing our literal scientific earth. The structure of our natural world is consistent. There is order. The blooming of a flower, the freezing of a puddle, the changing of the seasons, a bee hive, the mating of animals in heat, the hatching of an egg. We ground ourselves in consistencies, sureties. At the heart of it all, Earth is steady.
Then we can start connecting to each other, by being there and caring. Radically. Not extremely. Extreme action is rarely sustainable over time. And people are likely to think us unhinged. Radical defined as anything that is personally radical. Moving beyond what we’ve been doing to date. Each of us will have our own radical, and it’s time to go there. Set a date and start radical security actions.
Forgive your sibling, parent, child for whatever has kept you from talking; your work colleague for stealing that lead, that idea, that spotlight; your partner for not being everything you fantasized in a partner; yourself for being less than. Speak kind words that pop up inside, telling your partner “I love you”; acknowledging a rival at work for a job well done; telling yourself you’re okay. Contribute something positive to your community by reaching out to that neighbor from another country, volunteering for a town or school committee and listening to other viewpoints, teaching your children about the beauty of other cultures, supporting the inclusionary activities of your human resource department at work, running for political office.
We each have the power to start tipping the balance. Great change always comes from a simple small change that expands and expands and expands…

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Meditation on Laundry

This was going to be called, “Mountain of Laundry”. We just returned from a short, active family vacation, and there it is – a mountain of laundry. Sort of along the idea of Sisyphus rolling his rock to the top of the mountain, just to have it roll down, over and over again. Then, I thought, perhaps an adjustment in attitude was required.  I should follow the yoga way of being in the moment; turn the all-too-familiar activity into a “meditation in motion”. For a somewhat mundane task, like shopping, tidying or putting dinner on the table, there is a kind of value to the work. Just because it’s domestic doesn’t mean it’s not important, especially in terms of having a comfortable family life. I suspect that our relationship to laundry reveals a lot about who we are. So, here goes…

I don’t actually hate laundry, and prefer it to some of the other chores.  I had thought, naively, that laundry would be a thing of the past, a la, “The Jetsons”, somehow programmed and automated. Not so. In fact, laundry has changed little since my youth, and I wonder if it has to do with being, still, “women’s work”. That is to say, “If they can send a man to the moon….” Same basic washer/dryer pair (sturdy, low-tech Sears Kenmore); same woven plastic laundry baskets; pretty much same detergent, Tide or Arm and Hammer; and same process: out of hampers, sorting into “whites” and “coloreds”!!! A couple turns of the dial and off it goes. Then, the reverse sorting; the folding, generally on our big bed; the leaving out to be put away. (Although my sons learn to do their own before leaving for college) I think that’s pretty much exactly what I remember my Memere doing, back in the day.

But not exactly. When I lived with my aunt in CT, I remember a neighbor who had the old-fashioned wringer machine – rather nightmarish. Everyone we knew had a clothes line, and used it. Now, only for wet towels after the beach. And racks, for those sweaters gently cleaned with Woolite. There used to be “delicates” – lingerie, nylons, and my grandmother’s corset, that were washed separately in their own little bag. And, ironing – so quaint. We had special clothes for church, which had to be ironed, wrinkle-free. Fortunately, not the hats and gloves, though.

As a large family, we always had a lot of laundry, but not so many clothes. Being close in age and size, sisters shared and brothers shared. Never my own pair of underwear, and all of us fished our socks from a communal drawer. There was an interesting period where the washer and/or dryer expired from so much use, refusing to be resuscitated. My mother at that time was not able to put together enough money for a new washer and/or dryer, so it became a matter of trips to the Laundromat with rolls of quarters, a couple times a week, with, I believe, up to ten loads. Now, that was an outing.

I myself had many years without washer or dryer, living apartment-style in NYC and in other places. Plenty of hours in the Laundromat, waiting/watching, with never a romance springing up. And then, one day, in Brooklyn, I found a laundry run by a Chinese family, who would wash and fold my dirty clothes, very cheaply, very well and with a smile. I was so grateful, I wrote them into a chapter of my book, Spanish Soap Operas.

My “load” today is not so heavy, really. The boys help, certainly. The machines do what they’re supposed to very dependably. In lieu of “delicates”, I learned from a wise friend, Noriko, to rescue my bright, better-made garments from the dryer (the destroyer of all fabrics), and let them air dry in the bathroom. The routine is familiar and fairly relaxing. The only surprise is the occasional unfamiliar garment that shows up, neat, clean and washed, but belonging to someone other than us. We have a lot of company, and they leave all kinds of things behind.

And so, my meditation ends, although the laundry remains. In all, I’m grateful for the convenience, and the physical ability to do the task, the clean clothes, and the nice smell. I do it, willingly, but if that nice Chinese family were to open their little store here in Bedford, would I be glad to see them.

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Touching

Portland, ME – Soakology, a place of retreat and massage. I went with some friends a while back, as a kind of joint birthday present. It’s not everyone’s idea of a gift – some folks don’t like their feet to be touched, or, to have a body massage in state of near nakedness. Me, I’m not one of them – I’m a big fan of massage, and so are my sons.  As we soaked and relaxed, one of my single women friends mentioned that something she missed in a close relationship was touch. In our society, with the unspoken rules of personal space, touch is a “touchy” subject, the when and why and how. I’m certain it has to do with so many folks’ infatuation with their pets, the permissible touching, petting, cuddling and stroking. Human touch, at its best, is art and medicine. At its worst, soul-destroying.

My family background was not especially warm and physical. However, as one of six children close in age, we were thrown together in bedrooms, church pews, and the back of the car – “squeezed in”. Really, I think it was college and California that opened the door for me to the pleasure and the power of touch. Acting in scenes, we had the reason and opportunity to touch, embrace, slap or kiss others, even relative strangers. Off stage, theater types tended to be fairly open and expressive, shall we say. Giving and receiving massages, often in a line. Hot tubs under the stars, often naked. Which, I learned, did not imply that sex was to follow, necessarily. And I learned there the language of touch, how to communicate what was acceptable to me, and what was not.

At Soakology, I asked the woman massaging my feet what had led her to that profession. Strong hands, she said, and a kind of gift that was pointed out to her by someone in alternative healing, an acupuncturist. Besides the retreat massage, the young woman had another vocation, pediatric therapeutic massage. It was for helping young people to heal after injury, but primarily it was to help children of abuse or neglect re-learn how touch others and be touched. For them, touch was a weapon, a source of pain and domination, although, even at its most destructive, it was about human contact. Therapy was permission-based, and proceeded slowly, with games and exercises. Touch rehab.

Touch is communication at the most basic level, and, the masseuse told me, babies without live, physical contact will die after 7 days, even if otherwise fed and sheltered. What she said brought to mind a movie, Lars and the Real Girl. In the movie, Lars is unable to make physical contact with others because of an early trauma – his mother’s death in giving him birth and his father’s subsequent withdrawal. The older brother does not know how to help, but Lars, intuitively, comes up with a solution – an anatomically correct blow-up doll that he deems his girlfriend. I won’t give away the conclusion, just that I was moved to tears, not really knowing why, realizing later, it was the profound loss of touch and its fearful connotation that hurt Lars, not lack of love.

My husband has learned that a sure form of comfort and happiness to me is a foot rub. My sons have been the recipients of many a foot, back and shoulder rub from me, so it is not foreign or “loaded” to them, but a gesture of love and care, which hopefully they will share with others. My son’s pre-school teacher told me this story: one day, she had gotten bad news of some kind while still in the classroom, and had taken a seat to compose herself. The children could see she was upset. My son went up to her and placed his hands on her shoulders. Did she want a back rub, he asked. That might make her feel better.

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Mountains o' Things – On Heirlooms and Inheritance

We’ve just finished The
Hare with the Amber Eyes
for book club this month, a meditation on family
and loss, focused specifically on a collection of netsuke — small Japanese
carvings, meant originally to fasten the sash of a kimono. The author, Edmund
De Waal, is a ceramics potter who wrote this family memoir about the
Ephrussi’s, a once wealthy Jewish banking family in Europe, rivaling the
Rothschilds, only to lose everything to the Nazi’s except the collection of
netsuke. It recounts the author’s obsessive research trying to hunt down the
possessors of the netsuke and to uncover hidden family history, not discussed
when he was a child. It’s an intimate story, informed by his own work as an
artist, beautifully written, poetic even, and the winner of many prizes and
much acclaim.

 And yet, I had a hard time with this book.  First and foremost, the descriptions of the
Anschluss, the period of virulent anti-semitism in Vienna where his great-grandparents lived in
their Palazzi. In its particulars, as applied to his own family, it is
stomach-turning, not only the ugly words, the physical violence, the ransacking
of homes, but the  personal humiliations
of even the most well-assimilated Jews: no public schools, no theater, no walks
in the woods, no sitting on a bench.

 But I also had a problem with all the stuff that the very
wealthy Ephrussi family collected and displayed, a catalogue of the finest and
best of art and furniture and real estate, over a period of about one hundred
years. The author himself seems split between relishing the art and value of
the objects, and being overwhelmed by the amount and density of all those
riches, even detailing the minutia of his great-grandmother’s wardrobe. And
wondering about and questioning, perhaps, the need and motive for so much
accumulation.

 There are, it seems, many people who relate to this
accounting of family objects, possessions, heirlooms, and feel very personally
the story of their loss. But I am not one of them. For me, it was “enough
already”, no one needs this much, ever, for any reason. And, I come to realize,
I lack those feelings of attachment in good part perhaps because we never had
any of those precious things, family heirlooms. We don’t even have anything
very old. It is largely a function of large families and modest incomes,
necessity and functionality, but the attitude in general is not about
accumulating and passing on.

 In our house today, we have no possessions of great value,
and that is by choice. We have a few nice and not inexpensive oriental rugs,
because that is part of my husband’s culture, but the oldest is from his
grandparents. From my side, nothing that pre-dates WWII, a beer stein from Germany and a
mother-of-pearl necklace that my uncles brought home from the war. Growing up,
we had a couple of old saws – including a two-man saw from the LaFlammes’ years
as woodsmen in Canada and Vermont; and the few
religious items that survived the generations: a rosary made of chestnuts; the
infant Jesus holding the world; the Sacred Heart above my Grandmother’s bed,
along with a glass fronted box
containing the Virgin Mary, similar to the Mexican nichos.

 The bad side of all the stuff, as I see it, is the envy it
inspires and the quarreling amongst heirs, especially when the stuff represents
love and favor. Throughout de Waal’s book, I could never find a particular
reason, a catalyst, to make the Nazis and the non-Jewish Austrians feel such
hatred for the wealthy, assimilated Jews, (other than historical animus)
except for the accumulation of wealth. No political act, no change of laws,
customs, etc. Nothing except wealth and assimilation. How they lived,
their diversions and foibles, and how they spent their money seem in no way
different from the European noble class. And perhaps that was the greater
crime, to assimilate so well by virtue of labor and business, to achieve that
high social level as opposed to the old, hierarchical ways of being born to it.
In other words, changing the rules of the game.

 This is not to blame the victim. And this is not a rant against inheritance laws. To outlaw accumulation of stuff would make the
economy grind to a halt. Communism has proved to be no solution. These are observations, merely, about objects,
possessions, and what they mean, what we choose to have them mean. And why I’m
not such a huge fan of things or even books about things.

 I give the last word to Tracy Chapman, because she says it
so much better in her song, “Mountains O’Things”;

 ————————————–

I”ll have a big expensive car
Drag my furs on the ground
And have a maid that I can tell
To bring me anything
Everyone will look at me with envy and greed
I’ll revel in their attention
And mountains
Oh mountains o’ things

————————————–

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Choices: Before and After

I’ve often looked back on my choice to convert from Catholicism to Judaism before I got married. My then-fiance had explained how important it was to him to have Jewish children, which meant their mother had to be Jewish. He never said it out loud, but I knew this was important enough to him that it might have been a deal-breaker if I didn’t convert. I loved him, and I wanted to marry him. And I figured at some point, he’d be willing to make as serious a compromise for something that was equally important to me. I assumed he’d get his turn to be generous and selfless for the greater good of our marriage and family.

My mother was thrilled that I was marrying a Jewish doctor from New York. I could picture her using her hands like a scale–Jewish doctor in one hand, Catholicism in the other, weighing the pros and cons of each, then saying, “There’s guilt on both sides of the fence, so you might as well live comfortably while feeling guilty.”

My father kindly kept his opinions to himself. And my friends thought I was nuts. 
“Oh, my God, you won’t get married in a church?” they asked.
“Nope,” I said. 
“You can still have a Christmas tree, right?”
“No.”
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yup.”

I knew there was no way to explain my choice to my friends, so I didn’t. They couldn’t accept that I had truly embraced the faith for what it was–a better choice for me. I was raised Catholic. My father took me to church every Sunday, and rewarded me by taking me out for breakfast to the place of my choice. But once I had turned 14, it became my decision to go to church, or not. Like any rebellious teenager, I stopped going to tick off my mother, who’d been the militant, insistent one about my religious education.  She was equally insistent about her not having to go to church with us. As young as I was, I recognized the hypocrisy in her “do as I say, not as I do” attitude, and I didn’t like it.

I also spend a lot of time between the ages of 12 and 21 with my father at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, held in church function rooms full of people humbled by the power of addition, yet committed to breaking free of it. Their “religion” seemed the most manageable to me–decide who or what your higher power is, and pray like heck for the courage to be a better person. If you grasped this simple concept, you could find faith in your God of choice anywhere, in any situation. Call it what you want, as long as it worked.

So, by the time I was asked to convert, I’d been exposed to a few different ways to connect with God. I saw Judaism as a new and refreshing path to my higher power. When we were first married, I never considered how I would feel about having converted if we ever got divorced. But fifteen years after embracing Judaism, I found out.

I had chosen to convert, assuming that my husband and I would instill good Jewish values in our children, together. Instead, while we were married, the responsibility for my children’s religious education was relegated to me. Once we had divorced, I continued to do it as a single parent with no Jewish family for support. Suddenly, I was facing my mother in my ex-husband, someone who told me to do one thing in their best interest while they chose to do another. I had many private moments of festering resentment, when giving up Judaism seemed like the ultimate revenge. That rebellious teenager in me wanted to tick off my ex-husband in the same way I had ticked off my mother.

But I didn’t. I was no longer comfortable with Catholicism; and truthfully, I love being Jewish.  I’ve been to Israel, twice. I can mumble through Hebrew prayers with the best of them. I love hosting the holidays, and going into my kid’s classroom to make latkes, and, yes, I even like sitting in temple on Rosh Hashanah for two and a half hours, thinking about the past year and the one to come, reflecting on my choices.  The ones I’ve made, and the ones I’ll have to face in the future.

Just recently, my second daughter became a Bat Mitzvah. Her older sister did the same two years prior. Both events were hard work–for me, and mostly, for them. I had the privilege of watching them confidently stand before our congregation to lead a service, teach a lesson from that day’s Torah reading, and share their experience of giving back to the community. I don’t think they had any idea what they were giving back to me. But when each ceremony was over, the clarity of my choice was there. I had spent all this time driving each of my daughters to temple for lessons and tutoring, arguing with them about doing many things teenagers don’t want to do. By supporting the girls in the tasks necessary to be considered as independent, young Jewish women who were responsible for their own participation in their faith, I received the gift of clarity. 

Emotions can cloud our judgement. We can be challenged by certain circumstances, such as divorce, to remember why we made a particular choice, what the benefit or reward was supposed to be. It can be difficult to understand the choices of others, or to explain our own. By sharing my chosen faith with my daughters, and seeing them take part in Judaism, I know why I made that choice, and I am reaping the rewards.

By guest blogger Beth Chariton.
Beth works for Art Matters, bringing eye-opening art presentations to groups in Eastern Massachusetts. A divorced mother of three teenagers, she welcomes the retreat into her basement office in the Boston ‘burbs. She writes short stories, essays, poems, and whatever else she feels like, and is currently working on a nonfiction book about growing up in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Social Networking Redux

Rather than posting a lengthy comment on Bev’s last blog lamenting the time spent social networking, I decided to post my own blog on the subject.
 
Social networking is both marvelous and ridiculous. It is fairly constant, can take precious time away from more constructive activities, is tiring, is intriguing and has only just begun. For better or worse, social networking is here to stay. It may change forms over time – think Myspace versus Facebook – but it’s not going away in our lifetime.

Unlike Bev, I try to keep up with many forms of social networking.  I have a Facebook page and I tweet.  I have just over 100 friends on FB ;and I check in a few times a day to see if there is anything they are posting of interest to me. I do this on my blackberry when I am waiting in traffic, watching the news, drinking a glass of water.  In other words, I don’t read FB when I can do something more productive.  But, Bev, you have to have it on your phone to glance at it at odd moments like I do. Occasionally  I post on FB when I really want to get the word out to my friends – when my dog died, when I wanted to know if everyone else was despising the Oscar hosts, when I wanted to cheer on Obama, or congratulate my son on something well done.

I more often post private messages to friends on FB.  It’s often easier to send a friend or relative a message directly on their FB wall than email. I also comment on my friends’ FB postings if I have the urge.  The last time I visited my 88 years old father I showed him pictures  on FB of some relatives on his side of the family that he hadn’t seen in years. He was thrilled to see how everyone looked. FB is particularly good for sending pictures.  When I got home from the trip my father sent me a message to “friend” him on FB. He had joined and was reaching out, not only to me, but also to the long-lost relatives and friends he hadn’t seen in many years. For my father, who is stuck in the house so much of the time, FB is a wonderful communications tool and one that he thinks all elderly people should employ.

I am fairly new to tweeting. I almost never send out a tweet, but I check my saved searches often.  I get tweets from the revolutionaries in Egypt and Libya on their daily struggles.  It thrills me to no end to sit in my house and read the short messages sent by the fighters in these far off lands who tweet  to tell their comrades what their latest manuevers are.  What a world!  I also check two saved searches,”Earthquake” and “Tornado” which are constantly being updated by folks around the world who are experiencing nature’s wrath. I never knew there were so many earthquakes going on daily!

My company has encouraged us to social network to enhance our real estate outreach.  They provide classes, webinars, easy links, etc. to FB and twitter for our listings and personal promotion.  I have read their instructions and taken a couple of webinars on the subject, but have not yet felt comfortable using social networking for business.  I may set up a business FB page, but I wonder who will read it. Most people are too busy and too overwhelmed with information to bother to read my FB page on the real estate market.

I do agree that social networking can cause headaches.  Too much checking, posting, responding is tiring.  But, I  love how FB has made it easy to rekindle friendships with high school buddies.  And, I am thrilled my father has used FB to expand his world. But most of all, I appreciate how FB has let me know what my 24 year old son is up to in his life away from  home.

  It warms my heart to see my son and his grandfather post messages and pictures to each other on FB.  Isn’t that what communication is all about!

Real Estate Hint –  Every realtor worth their salt has a smart phone connected to them all day, everyday.  Realtors check for emails, voicemail, phone calls constantly.  We never want to miss a message in whatever form it is sent. And, good realtors answer their phones, emails, etc. as soon as they are able.  Customers should never hesitate to send  a question or comment to their realtors. We want to hear from our you!

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Social Networkers–How Do You Do It ALL?


Promo alert: I was the featured romance author interviewed yesterday on www.longandshortreviews.com. I would be remiss as a professional writer if I didn’t post this on my blog. That is what I am supposed to do. Post this stuff everywhere…on my Facebook page (don’t have one), Twitter (don’t tweet), author website (the agent I heard speak last Saturday morning said author websites aren’t worth anything), on my loops (don’t belong to hardly any), and so on.

I’m not anti-social. (Okay, some of my blog mates are probably laughing at that statement, I know.) I’m really not anti-social. I’m not exactly a social butterfly, but that is not because I am anti-social, but more because I am focused and production-oriented. Which leads me to wonder more often than not, WHERE THE HECK DO PEOPLE FIND TIME FOR ALL THIS SOCIALIZING ON THE NET??

I do socialize—in real time, face-to-face, or voice-to-voice. Today I was on the chat loop at the LASR website. I must confess, I had a lot of fun doing it. I’ve always loved writing letters, and doing the chat loop is like writing to your friends (many stopped by because I had told them about it, like I’m supposed to) and gaining some new cool pen pals, with almost automatic responses from all of them! Have to love it.

However, my dog was walked this morning over an hour late. (Thank you, sweet Abby for being so understanding, and having such a strong bladder.) I got a bit of a temporary headache because I didn’t eat breakfast until after 11. My kitchen was not cleaned up totally all day. My bed was unmade until hours before it was time to get back in it. The wet wash languished, wrinkling in the washing machine while waiting hour after hour to get in the dryer. My workout was late and short…so I could get back to chatting. Shower afterwards? Didn’t happen yet. I did manage to make meatballs for dinner, but the other details I thought I could get done in my office today since I’d be there most of the day…well, they are still waiting to be done. And I was only attempting to get to a few small maintenance tasks. Getting to my own writing? I didn’t even organize a few pages of research clippings on my desk. Actual writing? Ha. Yes, chatting today was a blast, but my life went almost completely on hold.

So tell me, social networking people of the twenty-first century, HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL??

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Classtime

Patrice Brymner, a stager, and I teach a class,” How to Prepare Your Home for the Market” to Adult Education classes in 4 towns – Concord, Acton, Littleton and Groton.  We have been doing this for about 4 years and we get a kick out of it.  Patrice, the self-designated technie, has put together our power point presentation with  alternating slides of written points and pictures of homes – both before and after.  We banter back and forth explaining the slides.  We throw in extra stories if time permits and stick to our outline if we are running behind.  It’s easy and casual and interesting.  Our students seem to love it!

At this point, we don’t get nervous; we just show up with the laptop and hand-outs and we’re good to go.  Each town runs their adult education department differently, but they all give us a call a week before the class to let us know how many students we can expect.  Some towns charge $10.00 per class and others $30.00.  We are happy to receive a check for our services, but don’t expect one as each town requires a minimum payment for their administration of the program.  Our payments have run from $0 to $60, but we are not doing this for the money.  Our motive for the class was to gain customers for Patrice’s staging and my real estate services.  At this point, although these are our primary incentives, we actually enjoy teaching the class so much it gives us satisfaction on its own.

Our class works on many levels. We get so many compliments on our vast knowledge, honesty, and humor. We invite folks to bring in pictures of problem areas in their homes to our second 1 1/2 hour class and we all participate in giving advice. Patrice and I have such a easy, friendly manner together that the class warms up to us and they enjoy themselves very much.
 
Last week was our crowning glory.  Patrice and I were asked to speak to 60 people at Newbury Court – the home for the elderly in Concord.  The marketing department of Newbury Court sent out 12000 invitations to an older demographic in surrounding towns to come hear us tell them how to get their homes ready to go on the market.  This was a clever attempt to get them to visit Newbury Court and tours were provided after the talk.  It was a huge success!  Patrice and I pared our 3 hour class down to 1 hour complete with slides and hand-outs.  We knew we had the attention of the senior citizens when we asked for questions at the end of our presentation and 10 hands shot up.  We had to curtail the question and answer period so the tours could begin. 

Patrice and I are proud of our class and we get great pleasure from it.  We have become wonderful friends and we both enjoy teaching and discussing all the aspects of putting a house on the market.

 We really think of ourselves as the  Click and Clack of Home Marketing!

Real Estate Hint: After viewing a home, most people know if they want to purchase it in 24 – 48 hours. Tops.  If too much time goes by I assume the customers are not going to purchase the house.  Buying a house is part practical and part emotional.  If the emotional side hasn’t clicked in, then the house is probably not for you.  Don’t spend too much time analyzing the whys and wherefores – if you like it and it meets most of your practical criterion – go for it!!!!

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