Friday, January 28, 2011

Muscle memory

So in the post about my SF walk I touched on a concept that I think is pretty interesting. I mentioned somewhere along the walk my body seemed to remember it could walk long distances. Your body does remember you know.

If it has been a long time since you have just relaxed, sometimes it takes a moment or two before your shoulders come down from around your ears, your breath comes from deep within instead of from around your nose, your frown slowly turns upwards into a contented grin and you melt into body as you look over the scenery.

But your muscles also remember stress. Funny how it doesn't take as long to remember how to tense into a tight ball of nerves and unhappiness. A phone call can be the trigger - Opening an unwanted piece of mail - An unkind word and you can find yourself immediately thrown into a place of reacting to and instead of being at peace with your environment.

The body is a pretty incredible thing, almost as incredible as your mind (which I have heard is a muscle too).

Think back can you feel what it felt like to be on a swing when you were little. To some of us it felt like we were birds flying. To others it evoked fear. But I bet all of us can remember and our hearts beat just a little faster as you feel the air rushing by your face and your sense of gravity momentarily suspended.

If you have ever been pregnant undoubtedly you can feel what it felt like even though your child is now decades old. You remember how when you placed your hand on your belly you could feel their movements as they twisted and turned inside. You remember how your back felt, and how at times it felt as if your ribs were expanding. And although it was quite the physical act, most of us remember most the emotion of the birth and how it caused the pain to become not so poignant of a memory.

There is another feeling not all of you can feel. That would be feeling the presence of a piece of your body that has been taken away. This is something a woman who has had a mastectomy does know. After my surgery I could literally feel my left breast even though it was gone. I could feel the heat on the outside of my chest wall and the tingling of skin that was no longer there. There are times when I am quiet, that I still can feel the sensation of having it there still. I know it is gone. But I feel it none the less. And those times for me are little sad. a way, they are also reaffirming. Those times remind me that although my breast may be gone, I am still here. They tell me that I have been blessed beyond measure with the opportunity to try and spare others from having pieces of their bodies discarded. The fact that my breast is gone has given me permission to fight until Breast Cancer is gone from our existence. And for that I am very grateful.

Muscle memory. Yup, more to that story thank just a long walk.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why we need to decompress

Yesterday was a good example of how best to keep your head in the middle of the stress that 2011 is bringing many of us. I found with each step my body and my mind connected to things beyond those things which had taken over every cell of my being. The worry over what really is a temporary situation. The demands of other people who wear their stress like a badge of honor. I needed to distance myself from that just to have the perspective it takes to navigate through those rough waters.

Just the act of saying " I will not be available today" caused a weight to be slowly lifted from my shoulders. Yesterday was a long walk. 12 miles takes 4 hours. So by the time I reached the bridge I found I could breath easier. By the time I reached the Sports Basement I found my thigh and hamstring muscles were the only thing in me that felt tight. By the time I hit the embarcadero, even they were relaxed. It was as if they had a memory of walking that far and had just woken up.

Sitting waiting for the ferry the phone came out. The messages began to arrive in slightly panicked tones that I tried to ignore. And when I came back home I worked on work tyring to create some peace in the middle of confusion. When my husband came home late, he seemed impatient at hearing about the work things, having enough of his own to worry about. And I, I tried to remember what my body had told me.

What is important is how you fit into this world. Your feet on the ground, your eyes at the horizon. Its remembering that each step brings us new perspective. There are discoveries around each bend. You, you are constant in your own world and finding a way to embrace the time you are given here should be your mission. Appreciating the people around you who help you in your journey should be second nature. But often we are found drowning in temporary waters of worry.

I am so glad I discovered walking. Yesterday was a reminder to me that I need to make it "non-negotiable".

So as I am thinking back on the day and evening yesterday I am focusing on how it felt to walk across the bridge with the wind whipping my face and making may hair fly around my face. I recalling the guy on the skateboard being pulled by about 15 little dogs. Yesterday is about standing up for what I need and not settling for a postponement. And I wish... I wish we all could find a way to do the same.

Hey let's not forget...yesterday I also found out that Cavallo Point is supporting my walk again this year! Any day I see that someone does that ... makes me glad.

DONATE to my Walk
or DONATE to the Silent/LiveAuction or Raffle

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Back on the road again and I feel FINE!

Sausalito 9am... Heading off to get some perspective.

Seals at low tide

Where will your steps take you??? To a world without Cancer....
Tide and current lines..... leading to Angel Island

Cavallo Point... THANKS for your donation to Wine Wars III.... A night for 2 in a historic room with breakfast for two at Murray Circle...

Geese on the waters edge at the Coast Guard Station... Fort Baker...

Glenn's favorite...Pride of Madera... See I am always thinking about you.....

Its been a long time... old friend. Time to make the climb to say hello.

Hey you folks out east you got any flowers sprouting out there?

I am thinking no.....

So..... here it is ...your dollars at work.

I'm back!

At the other side....

The Warming Hut.... and of course the bridge...

Mommy boot camp

Little boy at the shore...

Rock art...
Don't know if you can tell this is a guy on a skate board... being pulled by dogs...

Alcatraz on the horizon

Swans have returned to Palace of Fine Arts... They are very flexible...

After a long time the Palace is open again. Lots of reconstruction.

The Palace was built in the days of the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915

Rich architecture... In what was meant to be temporary...

Art that was to be for a short time only

But like most things of beauty... they are meant to last.


Swans on the water.

Benches in peoples names.

Its a stunning place.

Mr Swan thinks so.

On to the Marina. As I walk by I remember the 1989 earthquake.

Can't really see it but there is a telescope inside... A number of these homes have these beautiful brass telescopes pointed out to the bay.

Back in the days of the earthquake people wondered if prices would ever come back here at the Marina... This property is listed for... $6,000,000

This one has a unique terrace

On to Fort Mason...

Some soulful trees...
Then through Fisherman's Wharf down the Embarcadero and to the Ferry Building and finally....

The Ferry Ride home...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The world is so different...

I am looking out my office window and a seaplane is taking flight above Richardson Bay. The sun is warm and bright on the hills of Strawberry Point as Tiburon peeks its head over the nearest rise. The water is dancing in tiny sparkly waves as the wind ever so gently calls out its tune.

I came into the office after grabbing a walk with Patti for the first time in a long time. She has been extraordinarily busy with her work. I have been doggedly working on escrows and listings in a different Real Estate world. We talked about our work as we walked, as we often do. And we noted how different things seems to be today than they were when we first started in business.

It is a different world. Not all of the change has been bad. I still remember the chauvinistic environment in which I first hit the sales world. Its not the same today and that is good thing. But there are somethings especially in the current economic environment that are decidedly not good. Like... truth and honestly being challenged. Loyalty and in some cases ethics being tested. To some people it isn't what is right or wrong, it might be "what can I get away with." The bar seems to set pretty low. Hard to not seek some sort of advantage over the other guy if the Jones are doing the same. Society has given a free pass to many who bend the rules. Unfortunately it seems sometimes to be human nature to see just how far the truth will stretch before it breaks entirely. Really what's a person to do? And you know... I have a hard time relating.

Everyone is cutting back. One person does the job of 3. Job security for many is precariously perched. In Real Estate we see many people with very low professional standards representing banks in Bank Owned properties on the market. Buyers look at addendums written with the intent of taking away all reasonable rights. My job has been to try and help my clients avoid the pitfalls that are hidden in between lines. I feel like we are all being challenged to hold tight to what is right in the face of this.

It is a different world.

Patti and I both have had moments in our own personal lives where we suddenly found ourselves in a different world. We both are Cancer survivors. We both found ourselves suddenly facing our own morality, when seconds before it was the furthest things from our minds. Battling Cancer certainly has some darkness to it, but I believe it also had incredible light.

You find, when you are battling cancer that some people get it and some, just don't . For some people being close to a person with Cancer is so frightening they simply stay away. But there are others who far from running away, seek to embrace you and strengthen you for your fight.

In a strange way, I find similarities to what we all are dealing with in 2011. We should indeed be there for each other. This should be a time in business and life that we recognize what is real and what is important. We should never turn our backs on what is true and real and lasting, simply because times are tougher. Walking with Patti, I remember this. I am so happy that we will continue to have these days in the midst of this crazy new world to remember just what and who is important in our lives.

JUST in case your forgot how important ending Breast Cancer is....
here's chance to do something to show you remember...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sleepless Nights

It's 2:30 and my eyes pop open. My mind starts working overtime. In my room I can hear nothing except the sound of two corgi in deep sleep and my husband's rhythmic breathing.

It isn't an unusual occurrence, this waking up in the middle of the night. It is becoming rather common. They say you should count sheep. What sheep? What could I count? The things I need to do tomorrow? Should I list the things I have didn't do yesterday? All of that just makes you more awake.

Back years ago, I had a technique that worked to put me back to sleep, but it has failed me lately. I would tell myself, "if I am not back to sleep in 30 minutes I will get up and make cinnamon rolls. That will take me a couple of hours." Then I would walk through each step in my mind.

First I will need to get out a bowl and warm it. Then I'll get out the yeast and proof it. Then the flour , sugar , butter, cinnamon....on and on and on. Eventually I would fall asleep. Only once did I actually get up and make the rolls. But then, there was always the real possibility I would actually do it and I think the whole idea made me tired. Today, I am not making cinnamon I simply ignore the whole thought.

There have been nights when I imagine I am sitting on a boat in Neiafu Harbor in Vava'u Tonga. The sun is just coming up and lighting the sky in tones of garnet, amber and amethyst. I see the church on the bluff over the bay. The sounds of dozens of people singing floats across the water, surrounds me as it lifts to heaven. The boat gently rocks as rigging keeps time to the music. I feel the warmth of the early morning rays as they touch my face. There is a smell of frangipani in the air. This is my perfect moment and in that moment sometimes I can rest.

But tonight, I tried walking a training walk in my mind, from Sausalito, up the hill to the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco, all the way to the ferry and back. My imagination remembering the challenge of the steep climb and the feeling of the cold persistent fog. As I lay awake I remember how my muscles strain as the miles add up. How my body finds a way to sweat in 50 degrees. I think about how much time that walk could take and I remember business calls taken on Crissy Field. I picture the tourists and the bicyclists, the herons and the sandpipers. I count the steps. 12 miles of steps. But all of this only makes me more awake and wanting. Wanting the sun to rise and the calendar to clear enough to take the first step.

I can't sleep because I have places to go.

P.S. I will tell you a secret. Last night I raised my personal goal for the 3 day to $16,000. $1,000 for every year I have beaten Cancer. That would be $2,000 more than I have made ever before. That my friends is a scary goal, but just like a walk to SF, you get there one step at a time.

THANK YOU for helping me get there.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Going beyond the minimum

Each and every walker, in the Susan G Komen 3 day - 60 mile walk, makes a commitment to raise at least $2300. So as you sign up for this journey, you are making promises to do some pretty tough things. You will need to train countless hours to have the stamina to make the distance on the 3 day. 60 miles is your goal, and very few people sign up for this walk with the intention of taking the "sweep" vans.

I remember my daughters, who each on separate days, had to take the van due to injuries, looking absolutely devastated. That goal is so important, it is impossible to believe that after all the prep you have done, anything would prevent you from completing all 60 miles. So when something has the audacity to interfere, you are angry and disappointed at the same time.

The fundraising is difficult, especially in these economic times. But the promise is just as significant as the promise to walk. If you do not reach your $2300 on the day of the walk, if you want to walk , you have three choices, beg (and that doesn;t work...)... or give them your credit card, or give your credit card and then beg. I remember two girls who had come up short and did just that. They gave their credit card # then made a sign and pinned it to their backs saying... "we didn't make our minimum, please help!" I was one of several people who handed them something on the walk. Everyone who walks knows how hard this fundraising thing can be.

I know I am somewhat guilty of starting my efforts, in some people's minds, too soon. I know to some people my constant focus on this event becomes grating and annoying. I also know that last year I was the #3 fundraiser in the SF 3 day. And so I sit at the beginning of this year and I am looking ahead to the training and the fundraising and I am attempting to decide how to go about both.

This weekend I created a survey and sent it out to 200 people. Slowly the results are coming back in. I was looking for guidance about whether to continue our very success Wine Wars again this year. It is a lot of work. But it is also very fun. At Wine Wars the generosity of the community helps to create an evening of wine, food and fun. There is an auction (now both silent and live) and a raffle. A great band donates their time. Fine wineries donate their wines. The result is amazing. Even in a very slow economic time we raised crazy money. So I wanted to know if what I felt was indeed true. Do people enjoy Wine Wars and would they come again.

So far 86% say yes. I think that is pretty compelling... so far. So I think it is safe to say, we will be holding at least one more Wine Wars. We already have our caterers committed :) and donations pledged for items for the auction and raffle. Today I sent out letters to some businesses and I will continue to do that for awhile amassing what I hope will be an exciting and long list of things to be bid on. I am looking into creating an online silent auction that will dovetail with the one at the event. And I hope and trust we will once again break some records and continue to make a difference.

To tell you the truth any doubts I had about going for the maximum in $$$ for the 2011 walk were erased after I received that phone call from Brittany.

When Brittany called to thank me and my team for our fund raising efforts I heard in her the same fears I had when I was fighting Breast Cancer. She is a young mother with small children. This current diagnosis is a recurrence of Breast Cancer. Her age and her kind of Cancer are frightening to be certain. But I also heard in her voice something every Cancer patient should have... hope. Brittany has hope because she is part of a study, funded by Susan G. Komen, where she is receiving life saving treatment. If I ever considered taking the easy way to the 3 day, I threw that away when I heard her say "I plan on walking in the 2012 3 day."

So friends, neighbors, family and everyone else.... excuse me as I shamelessly and unapologetically grate on your every last nerve trying to make as much money as humanly possible for this cause. I cannot stop because if I do, I would be letting Brittany and women like her down. I survived. I owe to it them to give them the chance to survive too. So they can like I did, see their children grow. So they can feel the sun on their faces and the wind at their back as they enjoy their own lifetimes. I can't stop because there is still so far to go.

If you would like to chime in on Wine Wars and how to make it better, please click on this link and let me know your thoughts. An no worries, if you don't want me to know who you are , I won't. But if you do want me to know who you are please enter in your name somewhere in your response. THANKS

Click here to take survey


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The challenges of winter, real estate and walking

When I hear people describe me, they usually come up with something that describes my tenacity. Varying from singleminded, to a dog on a bone, to a bull in a china shop. I am not always sure whether I should take these comments as compliments or complaints. I do tend to emmerse myself so much in a cause that it is impossible for me to believe others don't hold my goals in the same regard.

This never say never kind of thinking helped me finish both 3 day walks. Even with the most enormous blister known to man, I still hobbled across the city in year 1. In year 2, having learnt lessons, I made it without blisters and in one piece. Now the training for year 3 is starting off in colder than normal temperatures, with less time than the past to devote. My business is more challenging in the current economic times. Whatever I am doing is more time intensive. Short sales, foreclosures and dealing with banks who do not think or act logically leaves me stressing to find the time to get the sneakers on and get out the door. The way things are going the excuses for putting off training are piling up higher and higher ever day. And while they do, I become more tired and frustrated.

What my soul needs is to open the door, leave the computer and head out in the cold crisp air for a long and much need walk. But right now, I am bullheadedly waiting for banks to respond, for title companies to reply and business to be done. Trouble is.... the more I wait, the less is accomplished.

Perhaps it is time for me to be just as stubborn about making and keeping my own schedule as I have been about making deals that move at the pace of frozen molasses. Maybe if I take back my own time, I will find things will evolve around me. Maybe if I do that, deals will still be done. Maybe my clients will still be served and I still manage to stay in top notch walking shape at the same time. Maybe....

But I sit here staring at my computer screen reading a plaque that says "never, never, never give up," and think ok you stupid bank....... would you just hurry the heck up?!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Waxing nostalgic

I've been thinking a lot about the past. I suppose the new year kind of calls for a moment or two of reflection before we can focus on where we might like to head. And for me there is so much sweetness in the past, especially when I think about my family.
Today I have been thinking about my girl Katie.
Glenn would say she is his girl too, and I suppose I should always say OUR children, but somehow I have always been possessive of MY girls.
Katie was born with a sensitivity to life that was evident to anyone with eyes and ears. She looked like a porcelain doll. Her skin as soft and even as anything you have ever seen. I always thought of her as petite, and delicate. She was born (at a time not of either of our choosing) three weeks earlier than her due date and still she was 7 lbs. 14 oz. Since Allison was 9 lbs 4 oz when she was born that is part of the reason why I always felt Katie was the little one... Even when she outgrew everyone in school!
When I would hold Katie she would lean backwards and it was a struggle to be sure she didn't flip out of my hands. Allison had been a clinging baby. You could have put both your arms out to your side and she would still be holding on. (Except that one time when she was on my shoulders, but that is another story). Katie looked like she wanted to fly, arching her back arms flung outstretched.
She had a born enthusiasm that when she saw something new she would schreek
-. LOUDLY, clearing stores and causing a lot of stares. When she cried she cried LOUDLY and there was no way you could calm her down. She would only cry louder the more you tried. When Katie misbehaved and you would try to find a way to discipline her. The idea of time out sure didn't work. Sit her in a chair. She would catapult out of the chair tearing up her room leaving everything in shreds. I was sort of at wits end about what to do. Ultimately she was a pretty good kid. She idealized her sister and her father. She was a good friend to all kinds of kids, even the ones that others shunned.
Her heart was as big as the sky. Once during kindergarten Allison was asked to bring in an old toy to give to a poor child. She had a hard time thinking about what she would be willing to part with... but Katie came to me with her fuzzy lamby and said "give them my lamby". We picked a toy to give that she loved a little less. She wanted to give the one that mattered most.
Katie is today bright, caring, sensitive, artistic, unique. She is loved by many. No one more than her Dad and me. Her journey like all of ours is continuing - and I think it is exciting to know there is so much ahead of her.
To me she will always be my sweet sensitive caring girl who wants to fly.
And I love her.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First days.

When your children are little, each transition is emotional. The first tooth, the first steps, the first words get you ready to handle the first day of school.
When Allison first went to pre-school, I was ready. It gave me the time to spend with my younger daughter and it was a safe and fun place for her. She hardly blinked when she walked into the room, just went about her business of being a new kid in class. And I, with Katie on my hip, didn't have any trouble watching her go inside. However when I watched her graduate from pre-school I sobbed as they played pomp and circumstance and she walked up to get her diploma in her blue mortar board hat. The first day of big school I was similarly incapacitated as she walked inside the room, the door was shut in my face and I felt as if my arm had been cut off. By this time Katie was in pre-school (she would have rather been home), and I was childless for half a day at a time clueless about what I should be doing.
Every first day of school we would take a photo of the girls on the front steps of our house. The first pictures were of the girls in pre-school. The last one of each was senior year in high school. You can see them grow and change into giddy pre-teens into somewhat grumbly teens. Their clothes changed from ones carefully selected by their mother, to ones influenced by their own style and their friends opinions. Their carefully combed hair changed to wet hair straight out of the shower. The looks on their faces are mirrors to their moods. They morphed from excitement to finally tolerance of their parent's strange traditions.
Yesterday was Allison's first day at work at the State department. Glenn asked that she take a first day of school picture with her lunch box.... She had Chris take her picture at the front door because it was too dark to be outside. Her lunch box is replaced by a purse. Her smile is radiant and full of excitement and I looked at it feeling so excited for her and so happy for her.
Each and every step your child takes, you as a parent can't help but feel a part of. When they are walking into success you cannot help but smile. Then of course you also can't help pulling out those old pictures to remember when.