Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Amazing Chase!

What do you get with two dozen kids, 14 adult counselors, elaborate scavenger hunts at the local library and mall, food with lots of carbs and waking up too early? It's Camp Hope, the annual camp for kids who have suffered from burns. For four days and nights, we're on "The Amazing Chase" this year, an elaborate concoction of fun based on TV's "The Amazing Race".

This camp is the highlight of the year for most of these burn survivors. Having been made fun of by their peers, this is a place where these kids find acceptance, love, compassion and can just be a normal kid.

So far, we've done two legs of the race, only after the boys and male counselors endured a grueling dunking competition in the pool. And this year, I actually made it down the water slide - something I'd not accomplished easily in the past.

If you're on FaceBook, you can find pics of our adventures there in my photo album. Take a look through those and you'll wish you were here. Not only is it a great time for the campers, it's the highlight of my summer, too.

Say a prayer for our safety and wish us well. We're off to our next adventure .....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Coping with Burnout

During these economic times, burnout and stress are fairly common. I've seen stress on the faces of friends, and have even endured some stress myself. During these stressful times, I began to think about life and how challenging it can be. Without skills to cope with these everyday challenges, burnout can happen fast and furiously.

Ask yourself, "How do I know I'm burning out?" Look for these signs: (1) everyday seems like a bad day, and/or (2) you feel overwhelmed, bored or irritable at home or work. Most people just retreat from life or keep steaming ahead, but neither of these are remedies for burnout.

Here are some tips to cope with burnout:

- Build a support system. Plan a fun outing with family, friends and/or co-workers. Cultivating real relationships can make you feel connected to others and help reduce stress.

- Try to add fun to your daily work life. Stay positive and find humor in stressful situations. Most of the time, things that happen probably won't matter a year from now.

- Create a calm space. Find a stress-free zone at work or at home. Sitting quietly for a few minutes can improve your mood and refresh you for the next challenge.

- Be kind to yourself. While it's easier to be critical of yourself, make it a habit to focus on your own positive and favorable attributes.

Reducing stress, the cause of burnout, can impair your health. Constant tiredness, difficulty sleeping, and unexplained aches and pains are all signs of stress. You may want to see your physician. In the meantime, take care of yourself and make some changes.

I care about each of my clients personally. If you're looking for an agent who also cares about helping your sell your current and/or helping you buy a home, then give me a call.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The End of 46 Years; The Beginning of a New Era

After almost 46 years, my parents made a move. Not to downsize, but to a little larger place. Some people may think that's odd, but for them, my dad's health necessitated the move to a house with an open floor plan, a larger and private bath, and just one step off the ground. That translated into a little more space.

Today we're blessed because they were able to sell their 1220 square foot home for top dollar. They only came off $5,000 off their list price and sold the house in five weeks in a buyer's market.

Before the house was listed, my parents and I talked about what needed to be done to the house to get it ready to sell. They had already renovated their kitchen with custom maple cabinets and new appliances, covered all their exterior trim with vinyl, installed all new windows, and added central air to the house.

Since all of those things had been taken care of, then what really needed to be done to get it sold? There were three main things and several minor changes that we did to get the house sold for top dollar. Here's what they were:

1 - Removed the old carpet and pad (27 years old) and refinished the hardwood floors.
2 - Painted the entire house with updated neutral colors. They painted the walls beige and trim was painted semi-gloss white.
3 - Staged the house. We removed oversized furniture out of the house and de-cluttered the accessories. We also removed most family pictures. This gave the house an open and airy feeling.

1 - Changed out all door knobs. The original brass knobs were severely worn.
2 - Changed one ceiling fan out to a smaller, more proportional one.
3 - Changed the dining room chandelier out to a smaller light fixture because the room was only 10x10 and the new light was more proportional.
4 - Removed all cornice boards/valences and replaced those with single rods and sheers on all the windows.

Built in 1952, this all brick house had been taken care of very well over the years. Removing the carpet and repainting it updated it considerably. By spending about $3,500 to take care of all of the major and minor things, our parents made an additional $37,000 on the sale. Was it worth it? We think so.

In this market, you need a real estate agent who knows what to do to get your house sold for the price, terms and conditions acceptable to you. If you are looking for an agent who knows how to get a house sold, give me a call.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ben and Lena

A few years ago, I had the awesome privilege of meeting Ben Jones. Ben, a faithful member of our church, The Bridge Fellowship, and I became fast friends. Not long after we met, I had the honor of helping him buy his first home.

Not long after the first part of the year, Ben discovered that he found the love of his life. Lena Bryant, a sweet elementary school teacher, quickly became the object of his affection.

Last month, on June 13, Ben and Lena tied the knot at Oak Island in North Carolina. And last night, family and friends had the opportunity to celebrate their marriage at a wonderful reception at Cumberland University in Lebanon.

Ben and Lena are the perfect couple. Both are such sweet, selfless people. They put God and others first, and love each other very deeply. Ben and Lena are some of my favorite people! Congratulations, you two! Best wishes and may you be extremely blessed!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Run, Jack, Run

I wasn't even a mile into the race, and I asked myself what in the world I was doing running a race that I'd not trained for thoroughly enough. The svelte couple pushing their baby stroller race ahead of me. So did the older man and the dad and son duo. I hit myself over my head with my imaginary wet noodle, lamenting that I'd not trained enough to make it through this race in record time.

It has been a few years since I ran my last 5K. That was Jasper, Georgia, with a friend. Our time? Almost 45 minutes. This time I declared I'd better be faster. Hopefully, I thought, I'd like to run this race in less than 45 minutes, too.

Once I got to the first mile marker, I was relieved. I couldn't believe that a mile was THIS LONG! Surely the second mile would come quicker, but it didn't. In fact, it was even longer. The third mile wasn't quite as bad and when I got back to Maryland Way, the end was in sight.

There stood my buds, Adam and Robert, clicking pics and cheering me on. I felt as encouraged by their cheering as I felt defeated by my exhausting effort. Surely my time was longer than any other 5K I'd run. Still, I kept running to the finish line.

Once I got to the finish, I saw the clock ticking down at 35:00 minutes. After crossing, I asked the Nashville Striders member if the clock was right. I thought it was supposed to be an hour and 35 minutes.

As I ran this 5K, there were lots and lots of thoughts that crossed my mind. Here are just a few of those:

1 - Why did I enter a race in a sport that I don't particularly care for? As competitive as I am, I always love a challenge and wanted to do something just to accomplish it. Sometimes in life I just want to accomplish something for the sake of accomplishment. I'll run my first marathon within the next year.

2 - Why didn't I train more? Sure, I ran a lot, but nothing like I should have. Training is a day-to-day effort that results in an accomplished long-term goal. This reminded me that life is like this. Daily practice results in long-term accomplishments and success.

3 - How can other people run that much faster than I can? Of course, training is part of it, but so is natural ability. I have to work harder and smarter, and I will. But also, why focus on those in front? My focus should be on what I was doing and besides, look at those behind me. When I finished, half of those racing were behind me.

4 - Why were my friends not running with me? One thing I've learned is that most people who want to lead have to do so alone. With leadership qualities, I've found myself going it alone more times than not. And it's OK.

5 - What can I do to be better next time? Like in real life, discipline is essential. That's probably the most important thing I can remind myself of. While the daily grind may be boring and mundane, routine practice garners the most success when it comes down to that.

Well, I guess the race was beneficial in more ways than one. After it was over, I didn't lament; I celebrated the victory. Finish time was 34:57, an 11 minute mile. Not bad for a man who needs to be in better shape. Would I do it again? Sure. And when I do that marathon, I'll probably have more thoughts to share. Anybody care to join me next time?

For an agent who thoughtfully considers how to get your house sold, and/or how to help you buy a new home, give me a call. I'm here to help you with all of your real estate needs.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nashville's in the Top 25 ...

If you missed that small blurb in yesterday's Tennessean, you haven't heard that Nashville made it in the top 25 best real estate markets in the country. Topping out the list were Texas cities Houston and Dallas, followed by places like Wichita and Tulsa. These cities saw growth in the 2-3% range. Nashville came in at number 25 with a .9% increase in median sales price. Glad to hear it! Things are definitely looking up!

You can read the article by clicking HERE.

Working with the right real estate agent is important. This agent keeps up with the market on a daily basis, noting trends and knowing what to do and when to do it. For expert knowledge and experience, give me a shout! I'm here to help.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Do You Have a "Clean House"?

Apparently the show, "Clean House", has hit the ground running. Fans everywhere are talking about the show, especially the 'Messiest House in the Country' episodes.

After waking up way too early this morning with those darn allergies I have, I felt my way to the living room to see what was on at that ungodly hour. What I found was one of the latest episodes of "Clean House".

Now I'm not a novice fan of the show. In fact, I've seen it many times. I am ashamed to reveal that I'm somewhat of a voyeur when it comes to some reality shows, this being one of them.

If you haven't seen it, the premise of the show is that a cast of four experts, along with their crew, will help 'rescue' people from their clutter. The host, Niecy Nash, explores the 'why' of their clutter while the other cast members are helping the folks organize, toss and sell their unnecessary items, and then redecorate/renovate rooms in their home. The designer, Mark Brunetz, comes up with a design scheme. Yard Sale Diva Trish Suhr organizes the yard sale. And go-to guys, Matt Iseman or Eugene Long, take care of any construction and/or repairs to the house. All four cast members negotiate with the homeowners to rid themselves of junk and clutter and work together on a new and improved design. In the end, everyone is (supposed to be) happy. Sometimes they are and sometimes they're not.

This morning's show was set in Cincinnati. An adult daughter called the show, hoping the cast and crew would come rescue her and her mother from her mother's 30 year pile-up of junk and whatever. Little can be left to the imagination when the homeowners and cast found rats and mice in the basement. Honestly, I've NEVER seen anything like that, and have actually helped clean homes as mission projects several times over the years.

There was so much stuff and junk that it took a 7,000 square foot warehouse to house it all for the yard sale. After the yard sale, there were STILL more things left over than anyone could ever imagine - way too much to go back into the house. And during part of the 'reveal', the mother stormed off the show and left the adult daughter to fend for herself. Luckily, mother and daughter loved the major improvements made to the house before mom stormed off.

So, is your house clean? Or do you need a "makeover" of your home? Is it clutter-free?

A few years ago I had the privilege of helping a friend clean out her parents' home in the Atlanta area. It took us six three-day weekends to get it all sorted, discarded, and hauled away to a friend's yard sale. There was enough stuff in this 1,800 square foot house for a house measuring 3,000 square feet. While it was an overall pleasant experience, it was still a little daunting to sort through it all. Instead of waiting until years down the road to get things de-cluttered, maybe now is the time to start sorting.

Tonight's episode, on the Style Channel at 8 Eastern/7 Central, is the last home in the series of contenders for the Messiest Home Award. You can check it out at CLEAN HOUSE. You'll be glad you did.

If you're looking for a real estate agent who looks out for your best interests and who can negotiate the price, terms and conditions for the sale and/or purchase of your home, please give me a call. I'll be glad to help you in the process.