Monday, July 31, 2023

On Becoming a Realtor

It's been six months since I last wrote anything on this little blog of mine. Five months since I stepped away from my corporate career. 

So much as happened in that time, and while I had every intention of sharing along each step of the way, the truth is, making a major life pivot can be more than a little challenging. As with anything, life has a way of falling into familiar routines. And even when those routines are no longer serving you, they are still familiar - a comfort zone of your own creation. 

Stepping out has meant adjusting expectations, finding a new groove that is challenging in its own way, reprioritizing time, redefining purpose, finding new passions, letting go of old ambitions. It's also meant more time to be with my boys, more time to lean in to the things that they need, to find moments of joy in the midst of lots of still unanswered questions. This new chapter is a blessing, and while I'm still trying to navigate all that's changing around me, I am grateful. 

One of the things I am excited for in this new chapter of mine is a pivot into a career in real estate. It is certainly not out of the blue, but a natural next step for me and one that I am hopeful will allow me to serve both my family and my community well. 

I actually spent most of my childhood in the back conference room of my grandmother's real estate office. She launched her brokerage, Realty One of Kissimee, Inc., in 1983 - forty years ago - and spent decades serving the Central Florida community. My mom joined the brokerage just before I was born, and I have vivid memories of sitting in their lobby, flipping through Homes and Land Magazine and pretending that I was the listing agent for each of the homes and preparing for a showing. I'd make up commentary for each piece of property and evaluate all of the community features that I was impressed with. 

As I got older, I obviously pursued other passions of mine, but real estate has always been a fascination. Even in the midst of my previous career, I had the opportunity to learn extensively about the construction side of real estate, and making this transition feels a little bit like coming home. In fact, I'm joining the same brokerage I spent so much of my life in - now owned by my mom. It's a career move that at the end of the day gives me an opportunity to get back to work and put my skills and expertise to good use, while still affording me the flexibility to be there for my boys when they need me and to get my youngest to all of his doctor and therapy appointments.

So, with all that being said, if you or anyone you know is in the Central Florida area and looking to buy or sell a home, don't hesitate to reach out to me. I can't wait to help you find your dream home!

Friday, January 13, 2023

On Inchstones

Yesterday, my son wrote his name with no assistance in a straight line from left to right (instead of a circle as he's apt to do), saying each letter aloud as he wrote it. 

Then, he drew a rainbow for the first time, copying the colors and the shapes after the one I drew for him moments earlier. 

I first heard the term "inchstones" nearly a year ago, and as is the typical phenomena, after hearing it once, I began seeing it reappear over and over in books, blogs, and social media posts I was reading.

The small, less lauded markers of progress that deserve their own special celebrations - inchstones are the river rocks that lead to milestones. They are the quiet moments that may not always elicit broad-based praise but are equally incredible and joyful in their own right.

In the special needs community especially, the concept of inchstones is so incredibly important. While others are celebrating their child's first home run, soccer goal or touchdown, special needs parents may be celebrating their 5-year-old saying thank you unsolicited for the first time. Where others may be eagerly awaiting their child to come out from the wings of their first ballet recital, some are celebrating therapy gains or the weaning of medication. These moments - worked so hard for, yet often so quietly celebrated - become memories deeply ingrained.

But while the concept of inchstones was introduced to me in the context of parenting a child with unique abilities, it's also not lost on me how often these incredibly special moments can be overlooked in our own lives. 

When we focus so intensely on the big milestones - the five-year plans and the ten-year stretch goals - I think we often lose track of the small, every day wins that get us there. The consistent effort, the daily pursuit of betterment. It's a universal striving that I think we can all relate to. But we often wait until the end of our striving to look back and celebrate.

And while reaching those major achievements, hitting those predetermined landmarks is so worthy of our attention and recognition, I think we should take a moment to recognize the small moments too. The moment when in pursuit of becoming more patient, we make a focused effort to respond more meekly. The moment when in pursuit of a new career, we learn a new skill. The moment when in trying to turn our health around, we make that initial phone call to a doctor. The destination is important - sure - but so is each step in the journey, and those steps often take courage and effort too.

In celebrating my son's inchstones, I'm learning to recognize my own and find gratitude for each step along the way. Maybe the ability to recognize inchstones is an inchstone in and of itself.

Monday, January 9, 2023

On the Words We Say

 Last night, I was helping my oldest with a school project. The centerpiece of his animal habitat, we were molding a Burmese Python out of clay, taking great care to get each curve of its tail and the risen notches of its head perfectly formed before laying it out to dry for the night so he could go back in and paint it this afternoon. 

At one point, he handed me the head of the snake to assess, and as I carefully reviewed his work, we both agreed that once attached to the body, it was a perfect representation of the python he was tring to make. We discussed what else he could build for his habitat - a nest with eggs, some water for the snake to swim in, a couple of jungle trees with branches - and at one point as we were talking through how he could make those elements happen, he misspoke, then quickly recanted with an "Ugh, I'm so dumb!"

I was startled by the sudden exclamation, thrown thoughtlessly into the wind by my (very smart very accomplished) seven-year-old boy. And even though he said it without being upset - it was a throw-away comment to him - it hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I immediately responded with encouragement - "Of course you're not dumb, don't say that" - and he reassured me as his mother that he didn't mean it, it was just something he said because he got it wrong and knew it. We moved on, he was fine, but the comment stuck with me. 

Negative self-talk is something I've struggled with my entire life. The level of intention and grace I try to consistently extend to others has never been something I've cared to extend to myself. If I'm honest - I call myself out for being "dumb" and much much worse on a daily basis, and it's becoming clear to me that the words I say in my head about myself are starting to spill out of my mouth and reflect themselves in how my children - or at least oldest child - talks to himself too. 

As a habitual overthinker, the mom guilt is real, but the conviction to change my habits - if only to ensure they don't become my legacy - is even stronger than the condemnation I feel. 

I think it's important for all of us to recognize the type of language we use with ourselves day-in and day-out and the ways it can begin to permeate our thoughts, actions, habits and perceptions. For me, my tendency is to magnify mistakes I make and translate them into evidence of my own personal failure in whatever area it may be. If I lose my temper with one of my children, I am a terrible mother. If I miss a turn while driving, I'm incompetent. The list goes on, but the pattern is pretty consistent. I've only truly become self-aware to these patterns recently, and the journey to delegitimize my thoughts is certainly ongoing. 

As a communicator by trade, I spend much of my time carefully crafting the right words to say to the right people at the right time. I am nothing if not tactful in my daily work. I'm now trying to turn that intentionality inward, giving myself the same grace I would afford others and reminding myself when those negative thoughts creep in of the truth - the truth about the situation and the truth about myself.

Words matter. They matter when they're said out loud, and they matter when they're a quiet internal whisper. So, I'm choosing my words more carefully and working to do better at breaking the vicious cycle of negative self-talk in my children. 

It's journey but I'm here for the ride.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

On New Chapters and Letting Go

 Last week, I did something big. Something emotional and scary and significant.

Last week, I resigned from a career I've spent the last decade of my life cultivating and pursuing. I moved in favor of stepping back, prioritizing my family, and quite frankly, creating some much-needed margin in my life.

This week, I told my team. To say it's been an emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement.

I will officially transition at the end of February - a slow hand off to ensure my teams and projects are in good hands when I leave - but the mental processing has already begun as I think through what this new chapter of my life will look like. 

The last decade was spent in pursuit of some audacious goals I set for myself after graduating college - join an organization, make a name for myself, make Director before 30, make a difference, lead multiple teams, put my name on some major projects. I've been fortunate to be able to accomplish all of it, due in large part to some incredible mentors along the way, and an inherent internal pressure to consistently overperform (where my fellow Type-A perfectionists at?). 

But over the last few years, I've found myself torn between the demands of a full-time career and the demands of medical motherhood, stripped of any margin I once had. I've spent years feeling like I'm giving all I have, and yet - at the same time - not giving anyone or anything as much of me as I need to. I've contemplated stepping back more times than I can count, and I've taken small steps I suppose. But truth be told, until now, I've never found the courage to pivot my perspective and strip myself of the identity I've spent so long building up around me. 

Now that I've made this decision - I'm equally thrilled and terrified. 

I'm excited to be able to seek out opportunities to support my son in his development without concern for deadlines or competing projects. I am looking forward to having some extra margin to do things that simply make me happy (like writing on this little blog here). I'm excited to find out who I am in this career pause and what I can accomplish. At the same time, I'm terrified of leaving the security of the career I've built and the routines I know. I have zero clarity around what this next chapter will look like but am leaning in and stepping out in faith that this is a call I need to be obedient to.

So, here's to new chapters. To renewed purpose. To redefining myself not by what I do, but by who I inherently am and was created to be. Here's to relentless pursuit of life, love, family and joy in all of its forms. And here's to gracefully weathering the bumps that are sure to come as I let go of the things that have defined me for as long as I can remember.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

On Nine Lessons Learned in Business - and in Life - From the Game of Baseball

I live in a baseball household. With a husband who played in college and a 7-year-old who wants nothing more than to be like his daddy, we spend much of our time watching or playing the game and most of our weekends at some tournament or another. I am by and by a baseball mom at heart. What many don't know about me is that I also minored in sports business management in college, so while my career hasn't necessarily moved in that direction, I also have an inherent love for the game. 

One of the things I love so much about baseball is the way so many of its lessons translate into business and life with relevancy and shared truth. Below are just nine personal takeaways from America's pastime that I've found to be true for success in all areas:

Each player is a unique resource, not an interchangeable part

One of my favorite things about baseball is that while it’s a team sport, each player has a unique role on the field. No two players are responsible for the same thing. Each player needs to be an expert in their respective role and simultaneously understand the expectations of those around him so that they can work efficiently. No player is more valuable than any other, no play is more valuable than any other, and each player has to trust that the others on the field will step up and play exceptionally when it’s their time to shine. They each have an accountability to not only themselves, but to one another to not allow errors to happen and perform at their peak every game, every play. 

Celebrate your grand slams, but remember that yesterday’s home runs won’t win today’s game. 

It’s important to take the time to stop and celebrate the amazing things we each accomplish, individually and as a team. But we have to remember that we can’t rest on one good day, or one good project, or one good assignment. The expectations rise, the stakes get higher, and we have to consistently be pursuing excellence in everything we do.

Win this pitch, then the next, and then do it again 

In any game, a pitcher could potentially be responsible for 100 or more pitches. It’s important that the focus and intent on pitch one is the same focus and intent on pitch 95, regardless of how many balls or strikes have been thrown. Each pitch matters, not one of them is a throw away.

Individuals can win games, but only teams can win championships

Some of the greatest players in baseball’s history never won a world series ring. Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa – these are names that people who aren’t even fans of baseball have heard, but their individual prowess couldn’t make a pennant happen. You can earn recognition as an individual, even win some victories, but to make it all the way you need a strong team standing beside you.

You can’t stay static – your competitors are adjusting, so you have to too

Hitters have natural sweet spots, and as pitchers watch and learn, they can learn what areas to avoid and where to aim. So, hitters have to be consistently adjusting. The same goes for team strategy - when other teams watch the layout of your field and learn how to react, you have to adjust accordingly to be proactive. In our world, we have to remember that the same strategy, the same approach, over and over again becomes background noise. So, while we should always leverage what we know works well, we also have to be constantly looking for innovative ways to move our initiatives forward and communicate to our people.

Analytics are critical – but only valuable if assessed and communicated clearly

Sports analytics get deeper and deeper and provide insight into what is working well on and off the field. Individually, each player on a roster has standing behind them a rolling list of numbers  -ERAs, RBIs, errors, BA, EQA, Hits, Runs, assists, Fielding Percentage, the list goes on and on. But unless a very smart person is looking at these numbers, providing critical analysis across a spectrum of factors and synthesizing the data in a way that makes sense and produces outcomes, its meaningless. Data is invaluable to baseball and to business, but it must be assessed and applied correctly to matter.

It’s imperative that you know the rules that govern your game

There are often times in baseball when the casual observer has to rely on the announcers to explain some of the more obscure rules of the game, or the rules that govern certain fields’ play. But it is the responsibility of the players and coaches to know those rules inside and out so they can both proactively adjust their play and react appropriately. In the same way, it’s critical that we know the rules that govern our game. Industry is ever-changing, so we have to be intentional about understanding where we stand as an organization, as a team, and in our roles.

Know when to be aggressive at the bases

Every team has a good base coach helping runners understand when they should hold at third and when they should make the dash for home. In the same way, it’s important that we recognize when it is prudent to be conservative in our strategy and when it makes the most sense to take risks and be aggressive. 

Shake off the strikeouts - .300 is exceptional

It’s been said that baseball is one of the failingest games in all of sports. If you go one for three consistently throughout your entire career, earning a .300 batting average, you’re in consideration for the hall of fame. In the same way, we can’t be afraid to strike out or make mistakes. Each of those mistakes is a learning opportunity and as long as we are consistently striving each time we’re at bat to be exceptional, as long as we are persistent in our pursuit of perfection, recognizing that we’ll never achieve it, we’ll end up on top.

So here's to all my fellow baseball mamas, getting their kids to practice, rubbing clay out of jerseys and cheering from the stands. I truly believe our kids are learning more than just a game, they're taking in life lessons that will help them in whatever future they choose to pursue. See you at the field!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

On Potty Training

Before I begin, I should really preface this entire post by saying that if you came here looking for the "TOP 10 TRICKS TO GET YOUR CHILD POTTY TRAINED", this aint it, sis. This is simply one mom writing about the single biggest challenge in toddler life at the moment - Potty Training.

Every parent has been there. The time has come to ditch the diapers, pull up the potty and get our kids ready for the next stage. 

Six years ago, my oldest gave me the unearned confidence of a mother killing the game. At 17-months-old, he walked into the bathroom, said "potty" once and never looked back. He went cold turkey into his big boy underwear and with just a few small accidents, was by-and-large immediately successful. By 18-months-old, he was overnight trained, the pull-ups were in the trash, and I walked around with my head held high wondering why potty training seemed so hard for some people. 

Fast forward to my youngest. Granted, his epilepsy and developmental language delays make the whole process significantly harder, but here we are at 4-and-a-half still peeing all over the house. We've tried every method - the 3-day-Potty Training, having him walk around completely naked, potty timers, potty watches, songs, books, you-name-it - and he's just uninterested. He's not averse to the toilet, just apathetic to the whole process. And truthfully, I'm not 100% convinced he's fully aware of when he needs to go all the time. 

Funnily enough, getting number 2 in the toilet has been the easy one this go-around. We've got about a 95% success rate on that one, and I don't take that small blessing lightly. Wiping butts at 4 is a whole different ballgame than that of a younger child. But peeing on the potty - well it's still an elusive goal over here. 

With his fifth birthday just around the corner, I've begun enlisting the advice and support of a number of therapists, and we're going to start working more intensively on this goal to get him ready for kindergarten next year - whatever it is that that looks like. 

I have to keep reminding myself that there are things that I wasn't sure he'd ever do - walk, say my name, introduce himself - and while it's taken him more time than most, he's always eventually gotten there when the time was right for him.

But in the meantime, here I am in the trenches of toilet training. Feel free to send prayers... and maybe snacks - I might be here awhile.