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How 163 Days Changed My Life
July 18, 2019 - December 27, 2019
May you never hear the words, "You have cancer." If you do, it will change a lot of things forever. I received the news on August 7, 2019. I knew it was not going to be good news by the call I had received earlier in the day. "Can you come into the office?" Well sure, I can come in - what else are you going to say to that kind of question? I will be forever grateful to Jacky, the man who after a little small talk blurted out, "you have cancer and it is aggressive." I was not too hot on either piece of news, but at least I could tell he hated to tell me almost as much as I hated to hear it. He was kind. Kindness goes a very long way when a person gets that kind of news. I am lucky. I had Stage 4 tongue cancer caused by a virus - HPV. I have never smoked and that's a good thing. I was lucky because this kind of cancer is one that can often be conquered. I was lucky because I noticed the swollen lymph glands on my neck and had them checked out. I was lucky because 35 radiation treatments and 3 chemo treatments later, I was still alive. I AM lucky because on the 163rd day from when I called for my first appointment, the PET scan showed me to be cancer-free. That date was December 27, 2019. 163 days is 60% of a year. One of the people who helped me a lot through this ordeal - a cancer survivor herself - told me that in the totality of a lifetime, the acute cancer process is not really all that long. There will come a point in the future when it all will be nothing more than a distant memory. Thoughts like that give you hope when you need it most. Today is January 6, 2020 - the night before my birthday. It's a pretty good birthday eve to know that the future can seem a little less uncertain now than it was a few months ago. However, spoiler alert my dear friend - no one's future is certain in any way shape or form. This is one of many things I have learned along the way. There's lots more to say on that topic alone, but for now - just joy, happiness and gratitude. Happy Birthday to me and PLEASE may all cancer warriors become cancer survivors celebrating many happy birthdays of their own.
What Really Constitutes Success?
January 17, 2020
From the get-go when I learned that I had cancer, I decided it HAD to turn out for my greater good in some way. It made no sense that something as disrupting as cancer came to only cause me problems. Maybe this belief was a self-defense mechanism or maybe it was an insight from the Universe. I think it was probably both - you need something to hold on to and something positive to occupy your mind. One of my all-time favorite authors, Napoleon Hill, taught that "with every adversity comes with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit." So I have been looking and still am looking for my greater benefits. That has led me to think about what a successful life for me looks like now. I believe defining "success" is a human need and striving to achieve the defined success is also a shared condition. It is more or less a conscious activity depending on the human. This human has thought about it a lot. It started out with good grades, running the fastest, looking pretty - that sort of thing. Then it moved to prove my success by the visible results of my life - an advanced degree, a nice house, a Mercedes in the garage, a Rolex, a prestigious job title and on and on. I call this stage of my life, "when more was more." During what was becoming the end of the more is more phase, I relocated back to Montezuma County. Skip some years and here we are today. Money, of course, is always involved in success. It is pretty hard to buy a house without it. I learned early on that having money is better than not. I have never been shy about working and have been smart about the work I have chosen to do. I have almost always been in some sort of sales job so that I can control what I make by how good of a job I do. I am now slowly realizing that I am not my job or the results of my job. There are things that I would like to do that have nothing to do with my job(s). With the HUGE EXCEPTION, that if you don't have income - you are really limited in what you can do. One of the ways that I am thinking of success these days involves getting a lot smarter about money. Until one can live a decent life outside the constraints of working in a day-to-day kind of way to earn the money needed, how successful is that?? The cancer experience so far has given me the gift of seeing things in a different light so that I can think differently than I did before. On a wide variety of topics - money being only one.
What's Most Important - TIme or Health?
January 17, 2020
I used to think the answer was Time. I reasoned if you didn't have Time, you didn't have anything. I now think it is Health. You could have a lot of Time, but if you are too sick to get up or to eat or to feel good in any way, Time might become an enemy, not a friend. Time is still a requirement, but Healthy Time is what is important. Until I had the experience of a lack of health, I took health for granted. I had always been a "super healthy person." HA - I was just fooling myself because it took a long time for "lack of health" to catch up to me. I lived to work and the stress that came with it had become totally normal. Work came before most everything - eating, sleeping, or any kind of downtime. Too much stress can kill you. At some point, something is going to give way - a stroke, a heart attack, or catching cancer. Funny thing is that the event is really a gift in the form of a "wake up call." The truth is life is what you make it. No one has to do anything or in any certain way. You just need to figure out what is important to you and go about living your life congruent with your values. I don't think it is possible to live your highest and best life without some space to create. Stress takes away one's ability to be creative.
The Circle Cage - Nope, not Going to Go There
January 17, 2020
This picture is of a lady on a treadmill. It can be thought of as the same kind thing as a hamster wheel. I call the concept "the circle cage." It means going round and round for a reason that may have once existed, but has been long forgotten. Going around and around has become the goal in itself. THIS IS NUTS. It can get comfortable though. You have to step off or out of the cage to see that there is a whole big world out there once you are no longer caged. Yes, it will probably be uncomfortable, but "oh, what might there be?" once a person gets free. I am starting to get to know my creative side again. As my brain gets a little more rested and a little less full, there becomes room for some really new and exciting options. On my mother's side, I come from a long line of teachers. I love to learn. One of the best ways to learn is to teach. From my experience will come something educational. I am excited about teaching some real estate classes starting in early February. See the Classes and Events tab for more details. Also, stay tuned for another class that will be more about personal growth. It is part of my higher purpose. How are you doing on living your higher purpose?? I hope we can talk about it some time...
It Would have been 73 Years of Marriage
January 18, 2020
Cancer helps you think about what is important and then actually do something about it. Taking time to celebrate important things - big and small would go on the list of important things. January 18 would have been my parents' 73rd Wedding Anniversary - if my mother was still alive. She's missed two of them so far. Being married over seventy years is something to celebrate. Can you imagine being happily married for over 70 years? I can as I got to witness it first hand. Growing up, having happily married parents was completely normal for me. I got divorced after a 20-year marriage so later I learned that a happy marriage is not always "normal." My divorce made me even more thankful for growing up in a home where it was. My dad, who is 94, came over and ask me if "today was January 18?" I instantly knew that I had so far forgotten that it was. I felt terrible. He didn't seem too concerned. I guess when you are 94 you really have a lot of perspective on things as he knows how much I care about my parents. I had a picture of their wedding day close by. As we looked at the picture of my young future parents, my dad said, "The day was like today. Not a lot of snow, sunny but cold. We stood out in the lawn under the apple tree for that picture." They were married in Mancos, CO at my grandparent's house. It was the house in which my mother was born. I am really lucky to have the family roots I have. I miss my mother. The best thing I can do now is to celebrate little things with my Dad. And, next year, I am not forgetting January 18.