“My How You’ve Blossomed!”

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I cannot believe how fast time seems to be moving as I age. It’s absolutely amazing to see the anticipation of something coming, only to blink and see that it has passed. I had been rolling along quite enjoying my age of 47, only to all of the sudden… be 48.

On the occasion of this particular birthday, I have taken a moment to reflect because it seems that a lot of things are intersecting. I have an 18-year old son graduating from high school this year which seems unreal. I feel that I was just 18 myself! As I have taken him on college visits, helped him apply to his favorite universities and ultimately – watched him grapple with the decision of where to go to school in the fall, I am reminded of my own experiences with all of that. As I sat and wondered, I received the invitation to my thirtieth high school reunion in Ohio. How in the hell could I be 30 years out from my own graduation and college seeking experience? It seems impossible.

This spring has taken me on a bit of a self-seeking journey, which sometimes does happen as I mark another year on this earth. But, I went a little deeper this time – although I am not sure if it is because I am getting older and becoming more introspective, or if it is because I have more things to think about! One thing I know even from reading my past blog posts – there is a lot of change that happens emotionally and physically in your mid to late 40’s. Besides the friendships that change, the marriages that may fail (or succeed!), the personal relationships that we find in the next chapter and the professional victories which become more rich and rewarding with more time spent in the workforce – there is the physical part of turning 48 that is reason to pause as well. I am definitely in the best shape I have ever been in and I feel stronger than I did at 30. So, I try not to let my age define me – but looking at some pictures that have been cropping up from my high school group as our reunion approaches this weekend – it’s hard to believe I am the same girl I see there from 1988-1989. Note to self – stand up straight!

I live in a beautiful old house built in the 50’s on top of a hill with a mature yard and I have three cherry trees that come alive as they do here in the PNW every spring. This year, I decided I’d try and use my new camera to capture the changes in the tree from bud to flower blossom. I thought at first they would never bloom. Other trees on my street had blossomed early and had already faded to their full summer green, but my buds took their time – kind of like me!

March 22nd 2019
April 1, 2019
April 6, 2019
April 17, 2019
April 28, 2019

I am missing my high school reunion because my senior has prom that night. I would never miss his prom, but since I went to a small private school and only graduated with 56 girls, there is something even more special about connecting with them after all these years. Since I last saw these gals, I have moved from Seattle to Dallas and back to Seattle, gotten divorced, and started a new career. I have definitely been having feelings about all of this and how it compares to these amazing women and their many accomplishments – and I’m dying to hear about how all of them are progressing as time marches on.

My school (K-12) was definitely for the “gifted” girls. My grandmother graduated from the same school in the 1930’s and there is no doubt that is why I was originally admitted. While I showed potential, I did not take advantage of the rigorous curriculum nor did I appreciate the small classroom environments which would no doubt set me apart from my peers once I got to college. While I did not excel at school, I knew even in the 80’s that I had a different kind of smart that would get me by and lead me to success eventually. Either way – when I got to college, it was apparent immediately that I was indeed ahead of many of my friends – something had sunk in at Laurel School. I often say to my kids: “Don’t make the same mistakes I made! You can do better!” but as I look through the posts from our high school Facebook page, and with the gift of connection through social media, I think I’m doing pretty well! Awesome career, family, children and friends. A really nice life 30-years later – and I’m grateful! Thank you Laurel and my mom and dad for an amazing education. And thank you to the cherry trees in my yard, for reminding me that everything blossoms in its own time! I’m right where I am supposed to be.

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Easy Come, Easy Grow

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If you have been following along on my blog, I told you in my post Refresh Yourself that I’d explore friendship in an upcoming blog post. Well, here it is! It’s a hot topic with my peers these days because no matter how much we understand that things are different among our friend groups than they were 20 years ago – it still seems impossible to wrap our heads around the changing face of friendship as we age.

As we all know, there are varying levels of friendship. There are best friends, family friends, acquaintances, mentors, business associates, middle school friends, friends from kindergarten, sorority sisters, kid’s sports team friends, workout friends, and on and on. We all have a mental list of friends and we might mention to a mutual acquaintance: “Oh, I’m friends with her too!” but when I think about it, I find I almost always follow it up with – “well, friendly”. (I don’t know her dog’s name or anything). Truth! And that’s okay. We are all busy and there are WAY too many people I like and not enough hours in the day, or days in the month to see them all. But I do cherish all my friendships and try to treat them with care.

Some people call me a giver. Some people call me a people-pleaser. I just like to say – I’m a good friend. My college friends (sorority sister category) and I had a long-running joke that they would say in my eulogy: “She literally gave us the shirt off her back”. And I did… I do! “Babysit your kids tomorrow? Absolutely.” and “You like this shirt? It’s yours” – are regular gestures I hand out. I try to be generous and thoughtful always. Sometimes, I miss the mark and think I am doing something so amazing for a friend only to find out it’s the absolute wrong thing. When I was in 6th grade, we had a student visit us (picture small private girls’ school) for the day and I was her hostess. I already knew her from Sunday School and I thought I did a bang-up job of including her and making her feel welcome that day. The next day our teacher Mrs. Esselstyn (of Strunk & White fame from my post Use Your Words ) sat us down and said the guest had reported feeling badly about something someone had said. Everyone was horrified including me! Now, I cannot remember what it was, but it came out not long after – that it was me; her generous and thoughtful host – that had offended her. Ugh! That happened in the early 80’s, but it stays with me. Sometimes we all get it wrong despite our best efforts to be a good friend. As the years have ticked by – I started to notice that sometimes my gestures were not returned by many of the people I had placed in my most intimate circle. My college friends for instance – had always been considered (by me) to be my closest friends in the world. They knew me and my husband from the University of Arizona, we were all in each other’s weddings; but when my family moved to Dallas (where they reside) during a difficult period in my husband’s career, and then we moved back to Seattle and got divorced – we went back to talking every so often. Had I confused intimate friendship with geography? They had moved on with their own lives, and I with mine. We went back to our old way of friendship: I would call often to try and connect, we would finally catch up, and then we both went back to our family and friends locally. When I first moved back to Washington, I had a deep sense of loss with that group. Having them in such close proximity when we lived in Texas had moved them to an intimate circle that was a product of where I lived. They will always be my close friends – from afar.

The Friendship Circle

Friends are easy to make (for people like me), but hard to keep! This is because I make everyone a good friend out of the gate. That’s just my personality. But often, because we are all busy – the friendship doesn’t blossom. Just because we lift weights at the same time at the gym, doesn’t mean we are going to enjoy getting our boyfriends together and going for drinks. We are gym friends. And that’s cool! I have two best friends. And they are my sisters. I could probably be all right with just the two of them forever. But they live far away and I don’t get to see them very often. When I open my eyes in the morning, I check my phone to catch myself up on the banter that’s been going on between the two of them while they wait for me to wake up. It could be a conversation about anything from “Dad drank a spiked seltzer by accident when he was babysitting the twins” (this is funny because he doesn’t drink very often and definitely didn’t know that it was spiked!) to “My kids are driving me crazy”, and I love to chime in immediately. My favorite texts are the ones that come around 5pm on the east coast some days. One sister: “I said I wasn’t going to have any wine today but I just poured my second glass.”. This is a text that is meant to prompt the other two of us to say “it’s all right” – which we always do! But since there’s a three hour delay and 2000 miles between us, I need some local friends. Sisters always stay in the circle of intimacy, which I like. No matter the geography – it sticks. And I have so many amazing people in my life. But they are definitely different people than they used to be – and I do dwell on that sometimes. Close friends I once had, have become people I see occasionally at a party or bump into in the cereal aisle at the store. I get excited when I see them! I might even send a text afterwards to tell them how happy it made me. But, we aren’t going to be getting together anytime soon because our worlds don’t collide as often anymore. I have spent time considering the cycle of aging and meeting new people through shared experiences and how our older friends move from our intimate circle to outer rings. I feel like I know a lot of people – but the burning question is: On what level?

I remember a few years ago noting to my sister Rebecca, that a few friends really didn’t step up for me the way I had for them. Rebecca said: “I feel the exact same way! Let’s face it – no one gets in return what we give to others.” That’s an unmet expectation. And then of course, we would talk about the fact that we aren’t doing the things we do for repayment. It’s a funny thing though, because we all want that same attention we give to others, that emotional hug back that we offer to another person. At some point along the way, you start to understand the circles of friendship as indicated above.

My sisters and best friends
My inner circle: Rebecca, Sarah and Mom

A disappointing friendship lightning bolt that hit me in my mid-forties: while I had lots of friends made thanks to having kids in those early childhood years, once my kids branched out to new friends (say in middle or high school) – I found myself surrounded by a new crop of people – my kids grew, and so did I. And I have found, and my friends agree: not many of us need or have time for a million friends. A few good ones are enough. Okay… but what about the college friends that I thought were “my very closest friends” or the “super wonderful couple friends” who quietly, when I got divorced didn’t invite me out very often (we don’t want to catch what you have!)? Those friend groups moved to a more outer circle, further away from the center ring – more ‘affiliation’ and less ‘intimacy’ or ‘influence’. It doesn’t mean they aren’t my friends! But these people I had known, sometimes for more than half of my life – move naturally into the periphery. I went to the eye doctor last week and did the test where I’d press a button if I saw something off to one side, or in my peripheral view. I liken that test to my grade school friends, college friends that live far away and even my workout friends or friends made through my kids when they were in preschool. They are still my friends and I love to see them – but it’s brief and not often deep. We catch up, share a few stories and have a hug (that’s the button push!) and then – they are gone. I’ll see them again soon perhaps, but they aren’t right in front of me where I see them head-on daily.

Most of my friends and colleagues have echoed this same sentiment. It’s just harder to navigate raising teenagers, working at your business, your personal relationships – PLUS friendships too. We all go through so many changes especially mid-life and it’s been fascinating to see that the relationships I give the most to are mutually beneficial – where I feel the love, receive AND give, and have fun. Any toxic friends (and we have all had them) are ousted with incredible force and speed. None of us have time for a friend who drains us, or talks about us behind our backs. We have all been in the position where we need to remove someone from our intimate circle and move them to ‘acquaintance’, or off the grid all-together. And it works much better if they stay out there, you wave hello at the mall and keep walking.

Navigating my 40’s has definitely been more progress than perfection. But the friendship topic is something I think about a lot. My mother never told me how much would change once I had to relocate for my husband and then move back, see my kids grow up, get divorced, go back to work full-time and watch friends newly empty nested, move away. It’s been an amazing journey for me to have all kinds of friends and I cherish each relationship I have had. Someone recently said: “We have friends for a season, a reason or a lifetime” and I am sure if you’re reading this, that you agree. Every friendship comes to us at a certain time in our lives and makes us even better. The hard part for me has been watching those friendships change and realizing that nothing stays the same. This of course points back into the topic of getting older, and growing and changing along the way. I try every day to be the best mom, friend, colleague and community leader that I can be. I nurture all of my relationships no matter where they fall in my friendship circles. Someone once said: “You can never have too many friends.”

I am grateful for so many strong friendships from very old friends that remain, to newer ones that are nurtured and fueled by similar experiences. Do I still wish everyone could be my best friend? I do.

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Open House, Open Heart

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How many times have you been excited to head out to an open house in your neighborhood (“I always wanted to see what that house looked like inside!”) or if you’re house hunting – get out there for a look around? A very important part of being a realtor is holding open houses on your seller’s behalf. Not only are you showcasing a home for your client, but it’s an opportunity to open up the home and yourself to the community, immediate neighborhood and potential buyers. When I first started my business, I sat at open houses almost every weekend for any broker who would let me, hoping to meet new buyers that I could represent. I thought that was what I needed to do to build my business. How wrong I was! I got really attached to some of the homes and began a cycle of being there every weekend until they sold – and I never did find anyone to sell that house to! But, what an amazing opportunity I had to sharpen my people skills and develop into the kind of realtor I wanted to be. I am so grateful that my mentors would let me sit in some really gorgeous homes and in fact, it was at one of these homes where I did meet my very first clients. Although I have have always been easily approachable, outgoing and talkative, there’s an art to making connections at open houses and it takes a lot of finessing to figure out what works. It took some time to get comfortable asking what I thought then was the most important question: “Are you working with a Realtor?”. But I soon found out – that’s not the only question to be asked. Approaching people and connecting with them on a very personal level is how I have built my business but I look back on my early days in the business and smile at how hungry I was to ask that question!


I absolutely love getting to know the people who live in the home I am selling on their behalf. It is so much more than four walls and a yard or a view that I want to tell each guest about upon their entry through the front door. I want to share with them why the people loved the home, that they had neighborhood parties on their patio every 4th of July, that there’s an amazing parade each summer or that there’s a terrific guy down the street that offers help with Christmas lights. Knowing the occupants of the home I’m representing means stepping into their daily lives so that I can be an extension of them from 1-4pm on the weekends. When I walk into an open house where the agent doesn’t get up from the table, approach me or my clients or even look up, I know that we won’t be leaving knowing any more about that home than how many bedrooms and bathrooms there are. Being an agent isn’t much different than being a therapist on open house afternoons. People come in with issues they have (“I don’t know if I can get over the color in this kitchen”) or they may come in thinking they want something specific only to be informed about something special the house offered they didn’t know about. Either way – I can make or break a potential life change for people – and it’s all in the approach.


Recently, I began thinking that Open House meant more to me than just sitting in someone’s home on a Sunday afternoon. When I moved into my house 4 years ago, I was thrilled to have something that was ALL mine. The independence I lacked since my college days was back and first on my to-do list: having my friends over regularly. I would pick a date and time to have the girls over and would write in a text or evite – Come As You Are – Open House. My tribe of women began coming by on beautiful summer nights to sit in the garden and grill, or gather around my large coffee table to pick at a massive cheese board (my claim to fame) and grab a good cocktail. We all enjoy the best part of my home – the view. Everyone shows up with a bottle of wine or some specialty they are known for and it has become something to look forward to. The term Open House means come when you want, leave when you want and wear what you want. It also means bring a friend or neighbor – the door is open. I love the casual vibe we have created.

July sunset. No filter from the deck of my home in Bellevue.

When I am telling potential buyers about all of the amenities they might find in a home I am representing, I often picture what one of my own girls get-togethers would look like in the fantastic kitchen or great room I am standing in. I often tell stories that are relatable to clients and I hope it opens their minds to the possibilities of what could be for them in that space. Applying my own life stories to each home I sell helps bring people closer to the space and gives them a kick -start on imagining themselves there.

Holding weekend open houses also has me thinking about my own home and its accessibility for my kids. Now that they are in high school, I love when they have their girlfriends and friends over. Often I will be sitting at the counter in my kitchen working when the door will open and in will walk Nate’s girlfriend Gabi. She just comes right in and says “hi!” – sometimes she’ll stop and grab a snack, and sometimes she will sit down and chat with me for a second – but no matter what, I am always so happy that she feels like she can come in to my house unannounced and feel like it’s her home too. This constant flow of activity is amazing because it keeps my kids at my house and I love that I get to see them even though they are all so busy with sports, school and friends. As my oldest son is preparing to leave for college in the fall, I am already dreading the quiet void that will come when my open house has a few less inhabitants.

My kids and their friends: Nate, Natalie and Gabi trying to get Lily to join in the fun.
Gabi showing off her quick reflexes. Notice the scrumptious dinner awaiting them.

For the next 6 months, I am going to keep making extra cheese plates, double the pancakes at dinner (yes sometimes we eat breakfast for dinner!) and always be ready for a crowd. I want my house to be just as open as the homes I show on the weekends: An easygoing environment where all are welcome, and a warm and inviting place for friends and family to gather. Being accessible to my kids and my clients is my number one goal. You never know what conversation will start next!


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Use Your Words (correctly)

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Have you ever wanted to correct someone’s grammar, interject in the middle of an argument to let a friend (or worse, a co-worker!) know they’ve used the wrong word, or call someone to let them know there’s no apostrophe “s” after their last name (hey there – got your Christmas card, but…)? These are the things that plague me. Words (and grammar) are SO POWERFUL. We use them to soothe or we can use them to hurt. I write to describe a home to a potential buyer, and I choose my words carefully to make a point to my kids. The words we use, say or write, can make or break our point. And, a misplaced punctuation mark can change a sentence completely. A simple comma mistake turns this sentence into something entirely different: Let’s Eat Grandpa! Yikes! But, “Let’s eat, Grandpa!” is perfect when summoning a loved one to dinner as opposed to eating them.


From 1999-2000 I took a job as an assistant development director at a small private school in tony Atherton, CA. My job was to work with a committee of parents (who happened to be some of the biggest names in Silicon valley) to roll out a huge capital campaign. I had left my job in construction management to follow my heart, doing something I really loved – fundraising. I found myself in the enviable position of working alongside an incredibly smart, talented woman named Wendy with a knack for coaxing donors to open their wallets without asking and a penchant for choosing just the right words.

About midway through our first year working together, I submitted a writing piece to Wendy for her approval. She gave it back to me with a few notes and I returned it to her with a sticky note with one word; alright. Now, we all say this. A LOT. But, many do not know (or don’t care) – “alright” isn’t a word – it’s two words. Much like “a lot”, it has a space between words and I had either forgotten this, or had chosen to use my slang alright. Wendy pointed out (not too gently, as I recall) my inaccuracy and we had a very lively discussion on the subject for… the next year. She made her point clearly by opening her dictionary to show me. I will never forget that day – I can tell you what I was wearing, where I was sitting, and that I was crunching on a Snyder’s hard pretzel. It was a moment in time and an incredible lesson that I still carry with me about using the English language. Fast-forward 18 years, and that particular slang is used constantly via text, and every social platform you can think of. There’s even a show called “The Kids Are Alright” – which just kills me every time I see the commercial. Wendy is no doubt wagging her finger at the television.

From my own personal Webster’s Dictionary

This has been on my mind a lot recently as I have been proofreading my son’s college essays. I have never stopped correcting people on this subject because Wendy was right. If you want to make your point, you say it correctly. And, if you’re submitting something in writing – make sure it’s right! (As I write this, I am hoping my grammar in this post is all right!) See what I did there? One of my favorite traditions is receiving holiday cards and posting them on our kitchen cupboards. When I open a card with the last name printed incorrectly (there’s always a small handful!), I immediately take a photo of it and send it to my sisters – the other two grammar police in my squad. “Happy Holidays from the Smith’s!” earns you a spot on the lower cabinets out of our direct line of sight (the grammatical horror!). *This is a generic example! If you’re reading this and your last name is Smith – I am not talking about you!

A few years ago, I visited a client and spotted a plaque they had made affixed to a post in the backyard – their family name including an apostrophe “s” with the year their family had been established. Now if it had been their name with an apostrophe and the word “garden” below it – it would have indicated that it was their garden. No problem! While it hurt, there are times when you can say nothing. I did say a grammar prayer for them. Never give up hope.


Now that I have one child that’s gone through the college essay process, another one about to start his college prep journey, and a freshman-aged daughter that loves to write but isn’t so skilled in that area yet – I have whipped out my favorite book. The best people to ask about grammar, writing and punctuation are William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White – co-authors of the 1957 edition of “The Elements of Style”. The original was written as a class companion by Strunk when he was a professor at Cornell and it has been reprinted countless times and still holds up in today’s world. White wrote the introduction (for his old professor) and edited the book for a 1957 reprint. White wrote in the Introduction: “It was Will Strunk’s parvum opus, his attempt to cut the vast tangle of English rhetoric down to size and write its rules and principles on the head of a pin”. And that is indeed true. The book is a slim bible everyone should have – especially my high school-aged children.

When I’m writing, I ask myself often, what would Strunk and White say? This book was thrust upon me in 6th grade by the most memorable of all teachers I have ever encountered – Ann Esselstyn. Her claim to fame was that Carl Sandburg was her relative and she cared about the ladies of her class never ending a sentence with a preposition (this is argued among many!). From a very lengthy song about every preposition out there, (aboard, about, above, across, after, against, along, amid, among, around, at, as…and on alphabetically until the last available letter in the alphabet) to a terrific and often recalled sentence about “i” before “e” exceptions: “Neither leisurely foreigner seized either package of counterfeit money on the weird heights of Raleigh”. It worked. 36 years later – I still remember most things she taught us. Thanks Mrs. Esselstyn! I use what I learned then as a tool to catapult my business. It gives me a sales advantage because I write interesting remarks for my listings and have the ability to color a picture with words for my clients when shopping for a home. When I speak at my networking group or in a meeting in the office, I’m confident of my use of the English language. I’m always trying to improve my writing skills, but with little helpers like The Elements of Style, teachers and co-workers that also love language, I have a leg up. There are a ton of great books out there including a more updated version of the original Elements book, but there’s something about my yellowed copy that really makes me smile. Check out Amazon for lots of fun books!

“It is an old observation, that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. When they do, however, the reader will usually find in the sentence some compensating merit, attained at the cost of the violation. Unless he is certain of doing as well, he will probably do best to follow the rules.”

William Strunk Jr.

When I left my job at that private school in June of 2000 to have my first child, Wendy presented me with what would become one of my most cherished treasures. It’s huge and clunky, and it’s been to 4 houses and made it to Dallas and back to Seattle. It’s an enormous unabridged second edition Webster’s Dictionary (it’s okay that there’s an apostrophe there!). The note Wendy took the time to write inside is so special. I really appreciate the things she taught me and I always think of her when I correct my daughter’s texts with: “It’s all right Lil!”.

Rachael,

Just a little something to send you on your way in your new adventure, so you will never be at a loss for (and always manage to choose) the right WORDS. With much appreciation for your lively, vivacious and encouraging words and in friendship,

Wendy

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Real Estate: The Report 2019

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Published by the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury® program, “The Report: State of Luxury 2019” analyzes the latest trends and data provided by leading influencers from The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, Wealth-X, Unique Homes and in-the-field real estate specialists. Want a hard copy of this report? Comment below and I’ll send you one! You can also follow my Facebook page for real estate news on the daily!

This annual report includes the following:

  • Luxury in Review 2018 – A look at four key trends driving the market
  • Landmark listings
  • Annual “Power Markets” List
  • Luxury Buyer Markets
  • Luxury Seller Markets
  • Domestic Spotlight: A review of what’s happening in 12 marketplaces across four different categories.
  • Global Spotlights: Canada, Mexico and six new ultra-wealthy meccas
  • Luxury by the Numbers
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Refresh Yourself

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Since joining Coldwell Banker Bain in September of 2018 I have been enjoying watching the company work feverishly to refresh their look and feel. It’s no small undertaking. While I joined a newer branch of the company that already had a fresh logo and market focus under the name of Global Luxury, that didn’t count me out from using the familiar blue and red logo that has been the gold standard in the industry for 100+ years. All this refreshing got me thinking about my own reinvention the last few years. Wouldn’t it have been great if I could have put together a YouTube video, changed my hair color and just ran with it? Personal reinvention is more than a new look. It’s a new perspective, a persistent and intentional way of living and a keen eye on positivity. I don’t always have all those elements – but when I do, I love my new look. Read on for more!

Our new logo revealed at our Unleashed event includes more than just a fresh look. The company has redesigned all the agent assets as well as releasing a terrific new campaign. (see the video below!)

We inspire people to imagine their best life and empower them to make it a reality.

Coldwell Banker Bain

The quote above from our new campaign could also be my personal mantra. For most of my married life, I lacked my own personal identity. I was a wife and mom but I didn’t even have my own credit card or personal bank account – everything was linked up with someone else. As we married girls know – even our last name isn’t our own. I lacked a real sense of who I was – constantly morphing into what I thought my husband needed me to be or some form of super-mom that I was making up in my head for my kids. While I had a great career and a lot of friends, I still felt really dependent on what others were looking to me to be. I needed a refresh.

Divorce can offer a swift kick in the pants when it comes to reinvention – but that’s not the only way! Sometimes a new job or career is the answer and sometimes it takes a whole new way of living your life. It could be an attitude adjustment, a new routine, a hobby you make into a passion or moving to a new home. There are endless ways to refresh and reinvent yourself and one of the greatest gifts life gives us, is the opportunity to change. I decided to try them all and see if I could create an algorithm for my own brand refresh.


Note: Trying bangs is not the best choice for attempting reinvention. Trust me. (photo from 2013)


7 Refresh Tips For Any Good Personal Reinvention

  1. Follow your heart. We all know when it’s time to call it. Don’t procrastinate. As Yogi Berra said: “When you see a fork in the road, take it.”
  2. Re-prioritize. I made a new list of priorities and I put myself on top. This was one of the most important things I did! The order was now: ME, KIDS, CAREER and then, my romantic relationship. Note: I had trouble with this last one because I fell in love with a great guy shortly after divorcing. I did put him first in many ways (old habits die hard!), but it backfired immediately and I had to go back to the drawing board and take a good look at myself. Rachael 2.0 was born and this time I didn’t falter! I said no to everything (and everyone) that didn’t fit into my refresh plan. And we stuck together- with a new understanding of both of our priorities.
  3. Pursue what you love and go full speed ahead. I had been building a career in real estate for years as a project manager in commercial real estate. Along the way, I got sidetracked – to earn an advanced degree in project management, start a non-profit, even sell men’s clothing (very successfully!) when my husband lost his job. Sometimes life gets in the way of our brand refresh, but when you see the train slowing down just enough – hop on. I finally got my real estate license, but I regret waiting so long!
  4. Stop with the FOMO! Anyone who knows me will agree… I really had a bad case of “fear of missing out”. I’d be exhausted, or not really into the group of people or even the activity in question – and I’d still say yes. I was following along and not really doing anything about making me – well, ME. I finally put that to bed and with it came an entirely new realization about the company you keep and how you spend your time! (More on that in a different blog post!)
  5. Get your affairs in order. I talked about this in my post It’s Tax Time… Part of a rebrand is looking under all the rocks! I gained complete control of what my life was going to look like, and that made it invigorating to refresh! From business to my personal life – I rebooted the whole thing.
  6. For a career refresh: Hitch yourself with a company that you respect and trust. From the day I got my real estate license, I was so proud of where I worked. I surrounded myself with the best in the business and accelerated my career in less time than I could have if I had gone someplace where the splits were better but I would have had no guidance. By going someplace with amazing marketing, brand exposure and a family-like atmosphere, my trajectory doubled. When the company was sold in August – I was devastated. I set out to find that same feeling I had had the last few years but took my time exploring my options. I knew that wherever I went next, it had to align with the personal brand I had built and had to have a support system that seemed like a family. (I found it at CB Bain!) I always tell my kids: Remember that your last name is the same as mine. And that’s true of where you work too. Make sure as you come out of your old shell, you’re surrounded by a good name to walk with you as you introduce the new you!
  7. Make a HAPPINESS PLAN. I never did that before, but now I sit down daily and tweak it to fit any changes that have come about. This is different than a business plan. These are personal goals that might include how you want to act towards others, spend your time, work with others or be perceived. Refreshing for me is a mindset. An action plan for interacting with personal and professional relationships and setting myself on the path to feeling serenity and gratitude daily. I also use a great planner called commit30. It’s a fun way to put down your goals.

2018 was a breakout year for my career and my life. I feel like I am finally refreshed! I have independence, emotional stability, serenity and happiness. I have learned to say no, and I have learned to say yes! This is the last year I’ll have all 3 of my kids together, and I’m savoring these next few months of being a foursome at home. What do you do to refresh or reinvent yourself for the next version of YOU? I did it by using some of the steps above and Coldwell Banker Bain did it below. And their refresh aligned with mine ~ so we must be doing something right!

Happy Everything!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-Yq7IjGL2k#action=share
Coldwell Banker Bain – What Can You Imagine?
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2 Must-Read Books and 4 to Grow On…

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The Laurel girls have spoken and they are recommending a few more goodies for you! Don’t forget to check the Goodreads block right here on my blog for all of the books I’m in to or recommend right now. Share some of your favorites too! I love hearing about great books! Have teenagers? Make sure and check out my sister’s blog Dreaming in Typeface for tons of Young Adult selections (and follow her because she’s an actual writer!).


Anthony Doerr grew up in Cleveland and was in my sister’s class at our brother school University School. His beautiful writing and the fact that he’s a homeboy – make this a must-read for fans of great fiction. Oh, it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015 too . Enjoy!

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.


This book is the epitome of my childhood. Fun to read and relatable! It’s pretty spot-on to the lifestyle I remember growing up in Shaker Heights and it’s an entertaining story.  Next up – it will be a Hulu series starring Reese Witherspoon.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Get it here


Here’s a few more the Laurel girls have pulled from their lists of favorites:

  • “Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff (recommended by Ellie)
  • “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann (recommended by Ellie)
  • “Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk” by Kathleen Rooney (Recommended by Ginna)
  • “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League” by Jeff Hobbs (recommended by Sarah)
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It’s Tax Time…

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When I was married, every March (note: that’s a little late to be asking) my husband would say to me: “Can you grab all the medical receipts and any donation receipts and add them up and put them in an envelope and give them to me?” That was it. He was in sales and we would almost always the first 10 years of our marriage, end up with some kind of refund. When the market changed in 2009, I still went through the same motions I had been going through since 1997 with the receipts, but my husband’s business became harder because of the market crash and I don’t think we ever got another refund. But most importantly, I had no idea what he did with those receipts or how the money from the return magically appeared.

If you’re still reading… don’t stop, because what I am going to say next is critical. YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR MONEY AND HOW TO FILE YOUR TAXES. You just have to. I have so many friends that have just sailed through being married for a long time and do not know how to file their own tax returns. When I got divorced in 2015… I had to figure it out. And it was scary, I didn’t know how to do it, I had no systems in place and I also got stuck cleaning some things up because I didn’t ask questions of my husband while we were married thinking he was my husband so he he had it under control.

Ladies especially – do your own taxes (if you’re married, just ask questions and work together to file jointly – meaning both parties know about it all!) and manage your own money. Get an amazing and patient accountant that will help you understand what’s happening so that you can operate solo if necessary. I have more than 10 friends that have all divorced in the last 5 years and we have banded together to get things done! We have a constant text thread rolling about everything that we are learning about navigating as the Head of Household. It’s been super empowering to have total control of my life and it’s been an excellent lesson for my kids to see their mom at the helm of our family. I started my own business and that’s a another set of tax questions and answers. I found an amazing bookkeeper and CPA and she keeps me in line and lets me ask questions I sometimes don’t want to know the answers to.

“This is a question too difficult for a mathematician. It should be asked of a philosopher”(when asked about completing his income tax form)”
― Albert Einstein

Goodreads

FEAR OF KNOWING THE TRUTH is what kept me in the dark for almost 20 years and I don’t recommend it. I admit to being so comfortable with my husband handling things (also known as having your head in the clouds), that there were times before 2010, I didn’t even check our bank account, trusting there would be money there! Today, I check my bank account in the morning and again at night every day. I know to the penny how much money I have and what’s coming up next.

RACHAEL’S MONEY RULES (to live by)

  1. Don’t stick your head in the sand if you don’t know all there is about your personal finances. Ask questions.
  2. Check your credit. Know your credit score (I never wanted to know) and make sure you don’t have anything that could impact your score negatively. When I got divorced I found some things I didn’t know about and it has taken me 3 years to dispute or clear them. Even if you’re married, check your personal credit!
  3. Open your own bank account if you’re married and only have a joint account. Even if it’s just play money, have your own identity for that day when life happens. I opened my first solo bank account in 2014 – after being married for 17 years. Yes, I had business accounts etc., but nothing with just my name on it.
  4. Check your will and make sure it’s updated including a DNR (do not resuscitate) or medical directive if you should have a medical emergency (a good estate planning attorney can help or you can find the forms you need online).
  5. Get a safe deposit box or find a safe place (not a shoe box under your bed) for all of your important documents. If you get a safe deposit box – give the key to your best friend in case of emergency and supply them with a note about how to get to your important documents (from computer or bank, etc.). Not everyone has an estate executor – make sure one of your girlfriends or a sibling knows how to start things off if you get sick or life happens.
  6. Take the time to get your financial life in order and know about it all – starting with your taxes. Getting a system in place daily (for every day of the year) can save you time. This is the first year that I am not scrambling in March and it is THE BEST feeling to know that I spent the last year with a system in place and that I have total control of everything in my personal life.

Have some other good tips? Please comment below so we can share with each other. Happy Thursday!

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Just Another Wednesday

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Wow! What an amazing sunset in Bellevue today. It was so good we all rushed outside to try and capture from the deck and the roof. It happened in a flash and if you blinked, the sky changed shades of pink too fast to even document! Thank goodness my boyfriend Eric happened to walk in with a new camera for me to try out! I took these shots with a Nikon camera with a AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm lens.

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