IT’S THE THOUGHTS THAT COUNT!

Sifting through, sorting out, & packing up over half of your life time into little card board boxes in conjunction with the end of an era that was supposed to be endless can be a daunting, sorrowful, & sad task. Little reminders of times gone by, both good & bad, spill everywhere into the spaces around me in an environment that I’ve called home for over a quarter of a century. Removing the dishes from the custom cherry cabinets that I helped the cabinetmaker design myself would normally make me cry, as I am about as sentimental as they come. Instead, as I reach for a coffee mug that was given to me as a gift, I smile instead, thinking about how the memory of the person that gave that to me will be traveling to my new abode with me, and it’s suddenly all good.

Throughout my house, (I can no longer call it my home – my new home is as yet to be determined), I find little trinkets that remind me that perhaps, for a small moment in time, I have made the smallest of differences in the lives of those around me. Many real estate agents give their clients gifts at or after closing, to help celebrate their new homes. Throughout the years that I have been involved in the residential side of real estate, I have been blessed with MANY times when the clients gave ME a gift! It always blows my mind when that happens, as I am just so grateful for the opportunity to earn THEIR business!

Yes, a pretty coffee mug from a client, (that had quickly become one of my favorites), makes its way into newspaper before being laid gently into the brown box which will contain my half of the kitchen implements & dishes. Then comes a very special tea cup, which has a place on its side to host the tea bag for re-use, from a client who realized my penchant for hot tea before bed each evening. My eye glances toward a bright, shiny magnet in the shape of a cross on my refrigerator, a gift from a client that I prayed with during a very trying time in her life that coincided with the sale of her home. In the dining room, a lovely pair of cloisonne candle holders that a new client brought me back all the way from India adds a welcome splash of color to my white china. My spirits lift, brighten, & yes, soar as I recall moments in times past when those whom I served cared enough to think about me in return. No tears, because while I am looking forward to soon seeing some parts of my past in the rear view mirror, these are parts that I will relish carrying with me.

Atop the cabinet in the laundry room I spy a handmade decoupage flower pot that a woman who relocated here from another continent made for me as an expression of thanks. In my glamour bath, a ceramic angel with head bent & hands clasped in prayer, the thoughtful endowment of yet another satisfied client, watches over me as I soak away the stressed of the day. She helps remind me that everything is really going to be “okay.” On to my study, which is filled with things that I love & hold dear, such as a tiny framed Bible verse, a a poster with an inspirational quote, & a a couple of tiny real estate knick knacks that people have given as tokens of their esteem. My jewelry box contains two  pins that separate clients gave me, back when they were the rage – one is shiny gold, & is shaped like a house with a “SOLD” sign dangling beneath it, & the other is a pewter pin with tools of the trade, such as a calculator & pen hanging from it – these items I still wear with great pride, though they were given to me years ago.

One item of particular note that always touches my heart whenever my eyes happen upon it is a quilted wall hanging of a house, & the words, “Lou Sams, House Hunter” on the back. This was made especially for me by a lady whose main desire was for a house with a room large enough for her quilting projects. We searched, & searched, & searched some more until we finally found just the right house. I am pleased to say that, when she & her husband decided to relocate out of state, they allowed me to sell that house for them, & that we remain in contact to this day!

I’ve received numerous gift cards to restaurants, one for a massage, & one for movie tickets. I have countless handwritten thank you notes, which is something you just do not see a lot of any more. I have even had multiple clients write unsolicited letters of appreciation to my broker. I am blessed to have gotten the gift of many referrals to other clients, who in turn have sent me yet more clients. Yet the best & most wonderful gifts that my clients give me is the gift of their friendship. I have many friends that I have made because I have represented them in a real estate transaction, & that is a gift that is beyond measure.

So, I thank each of you for the moments in time when you set aside your daily routine, & made me something with your own hands, bought me a token of thanks, wrote me a note, or drafted a letter of recommendation to my broker. I am sure you had no idea when you did those things that they would have such far reaching effects, but isn’t it that way with many things in life?

Dear reader, who will you think of today? Will you keep those thoughts to yourself, or put them into action? Will you take the time to make a call, write a note, or buy a token of esteem for someone that has a made a difference in your day, or in your life? You should definitely attempt to reach a goal of doing something to show your appreciation for someone in the coming week – you never know just how far-reaching the effects of a small act of kindness like that can be. Remember, “It’s the thoughts that count! Make them count for something good!!”
~ L.L.S.

 

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SLEEPLESS IN THE SUNNY SOUTH

I am one of those people that requires my 7 hours of sleep each night in order to be on top of my game. Unfortunately, in the past year & one half, I’ve achieved that a whopping total of about 7 times, which means that right about now I am REALLY sleep deprived! (That stuff is cumulative, you know.) I am SO sleep deprived that I have decided to try to overcome my first embarrassing attempt at blogging by writing something else, as I lay here, sleepless in the Sunny South. (OK, so it’s not so sunny right now – it’s the middle of the night, so it’s pitch black out.)

Never an insomniac until the past year, which has undoubtedly been THE single most challenging of my entire life to date, I never could fathom why anyone would lie awake when they could be enjoying the benefit of peacefully sleeping & dreaming. I always told everyone that, “I sleep very well at night, because I try my best to do right by everyone, each & every day.” Nothing has changed in that regard – I still do try to treat everyone the way I think that God would want me to treat them. I never, ever do anything whatsoever unethical, illegal or immoral in business. I love my neighbors. I adore my kids. I feed the cat & let him rub up against my legs every single day. I read my Bible. Love God. Pray every day & every night. What could keep me up at night, then?

The battle is what disturbs my slumber, & makes me ponder life’s little inconsistencies, unfairnesses, & mistreatments, & which leaves me bewildered sometimes at how the very God I pray to so diligently has yet to answer my prayers for THREE THINGS. Many nights as I toss & turn beneath covers twisted from unrest, I ponder the meaning as to why, just why has God allowed me to continue to beg for favors that He may never grant?? SO MANY things then cross my frazzled mind: “God has perfect timing”; “His will may not be your will”; “All things work together for the good of them that love The Lord”, etc. etc. I do believe that  these things are true.

Nonetheless, on this morning when I am up before even the birds, the neighbors walking their dogs, & the  school buses making their rounds, accompanied by only the faint whirring sound of the ceiling fan, I am thinking more about MIRACLES. Yes, Facebook, Miracles are “what’s on my mind”, but I suspect that this writing is a bit long for a “status update.”

If you’ve read this far, then think with me about some of the countless action and adventure movies – you know, the ones that are real cliff hangers. There’s some guy – an average citizen, living out an average life, who gets caught up in something way over his head, of course. There starts his adventure, wherein he is being chased by the “bad guys”. He is chased. Chased. Then chased some more, He is chased until it gets to the point where he is on the very brink of disaster, running to escape certain death only the point toward which he is running also includes an ending of sudden death. Does he stop in his tracks & allow his pursuers to catch up to him & zap him into oblivion with their super duper, amazing weapons that are the best on earth but which somehow cannot seem to find their target, because the bad guys have such incredibly poor aim? Of course not! He keeps on running, running, right toward the steepest, most intimidating, most rugged gorge that graces the face of the earth. Faced with impending doom, he jumps right over the edge, only to find that, just as he is beginning his descent onto the swift rapids & razor sharp rocks below, a rope ladder magically appears right before his face, and his hand manages to, (despite the fact that his arms are wildly flailing about due to the fall), grab onto the rope ladder, allowing his rescuers to lift him safely to the waiting helicopter above. The love of his life, whom he’d rescued earlier in the movie, just happens to be waiting in said aircraft to soothe his brow, nurse his wounds, & give him the most romantic kiss in the history of movie making. (SIGH).

So, this all begs the question: Would this man’s rescue have been deemed a miracle if it had gone down like this? Man finds himself in a mess. Bad guys pursue man. He runs to the edge of a cliff where he patiently waits for the rescuers to lower down the rope, which he leisurely climbs, because the bad guys are so far behind. No drama. No deep, dark music. No reason to hold ones’ breath, nor reason to buy a ticket to that movie, either, for that matter.

So here I am in what is beginning to look like another ordinary day in the Sunny South – well, except that I will manage through it once again sleep deprived, because I am still waiting on my miracles. I imagine that the hero in the movie never stopped praying. He certainly never stopped running. In the end, though, his rescue was not of his own doing, other than the fact that he had to be willing to grasp the assistance that was offered him, & he had to have the stamina not to quit. I am certainly no hero. But I pray for stamina & endurance. I pray for rescue. I pray for THREE THINGS. I pray, for miracles would not be miracles if they came too easily. I pray for miracles for all of my friends who need them today. Do not lose hope – after the rescue, comes a good night’s sleep!

~ L.L.S.

My First Blob of a Blog

I’ve always loved the written word! Once an avid reader & journal keeper, these days my reading is mostly Face Book statuses, & my writing is pretty much limited to ad copy for real estate ads. My daughter, a Journalism major at a prominent college in our state, has been after me for quite some time to write something. First, she attempted to persuade me to write a novel, but after seeing my broken attempts at stringing together a coherent chapter of a book, she suggested I try writing some freelance articles. I told her that the novel was too depressing. The magazine articles would just be rejected, so why bother?

She finally said that perhaps I should just do a blog at first, as a way of getting some of my words “out there”. I am not quite sure where that is – the internet has proven to be a sometimes fun, but sometimes dark & creepy experience for me thus far. I mean, I love my Face Book account, & how it enables me to keep up with friends, family & colleagues, but I have inadvertently started trouble on Face Book on more than one occasion. Who knew that people would be so adamant about college athletics? Or so paranoid about their photos being posted? Or so self-centered that they would view congratulating one’s children on their accomplishments on one’s own Face Book page as being snobbish? In real life people celebrate, commiserate, discuss, & debate just about every subject under the sun, right?

I quickly found out that social networking sites are not “real life”, & that they include all sorts of virtual realities & games, as well as a totally different set of rules. Well, maybe there are no real set in stone rules, as is evidenced by the fact that people who would never be rude or assertive in a face to face setting can be wildly confrontational online, & that people seem to think that it is perfectly fine & acceptable to “borrow” or “steal” another person’s words (i.e. their statuses) without so much as acknowledging the original author’s existence. I am pretty certain that most of these “borrowers” would never come into my home & “borrow” my belongings without my permission, so why do they think it is okay to take my thoughts from me?

I also used to post queries on genealogical web sites, as I, along with millions like me, became amateur sleuths in search of long lost ancestors. Once, I came across a really great lead which promised to be the proof that many genealogists had searched for over decades of time. I began nearly a one year exercise of trying to locate the source. Every time I tracked down one of the posters, they simply refereed me to a different poster. Finally, after many months, I was able to track back to the original poster – imagine my immense disappointment at learning that the proof that my g-g-g-g-g-grandfather was a Minute Man in the American Revolution was none other than <insert drum roll> ME. Yes, someone had actually taken a snippet from an online brainstorming session between myself & another genealogist, wherein we were SPECULATING (it was VERY clear in the thread) about this link, & re-posted it as fact. That was all it took to scare me off of the genealogy forums.

Another time I was visiting a forum about a health issue I was experiencing, only to have people leave rude & hateful replies, stating that such & such symptom did not go with that particular issue. Well, sorry, but it did, it does, & it has been scientifically proven, so there! I found that some people post very pointed remarks, expressing their opinions as fact, when they have absolutely nothing to back it up. I left that forum, as well, & fled to the Face Book world of my friends. I infinitely prefer this semi-private setting, except when things get a little unfriendly, as they can do from time to time.

But I digress. Yes, I love communication, & the idea of a blog was mildly appealing to me. (Although the very word “blog” is basically unappealing to me – it reminds me of a “blob” – something without good form, hastily thrown together, & lacking real substance.) Still,I toyed with the idea of starting one, but changed my mind – who would want to read it, I asked? Then I started a Grooveshark music account. I was thrilled to be able to add some of my favorite songs for free to a play list that I could listen to at whim. I was puzzled, though, when I began receiving emails from them stating that I had new “followers”. What? Unknown, faceless people online had actually signed up to receive notifications whenever I added new songs to my play list. Really? While a little flattering, I found this to also be a little creepy, so I hastily deleted that account. I began using my Face Book as a sort of “mini blog”, but found that I was frequently too verbose, & had to spend time editing what I was “thinking” for brevity. So, when my daughter kept after me,  I finally decided to give in, as all of my heretofore excuses for not doing so were a little lame. She even told me where to go to create this blog of mine: “WordPress.com”.

I logged onto my Face Book account this morning resolved to take a peek at what all of my friends were up to, then I was going to get straight too work on my new blog. Oh, no! Right there in the News Feed was a link to a fellow real estate agent’s blog – & it was on WordPress.com! This would not do – I texted my daughter & told her that I could not blog after all, because everyone would think I was copying the other agent. “Do it anyway, Mom!” she commanded. (When exactly did my little girl start ordering me around, I wondered?) “Okay, fine, I can do this!” I thought.

I went to this site to start writing. First, I had to create an account. Simple! “I can do this!” It asked me what I wanted my new blog to be called – no problem there, as I had picked out a name many months ago. For safe-keeping, & because plagiarism is one of my pet peeves, I Googled “Random Thoughts of a Random Mind” only to find that it was already taken! Hmm, not so random, I guess. Well, on to “Deep Thoughts of a Shallow Mind”, but it turns out that is a Country Music album title. So I tried “Shallow Thoughts of a Deep Mind”, but that is the name of someone’s web site. I was beginning to get a wee bit frustrated. “Lou’s little nuggets of wisdom”? Too much like some Chinese guy’s “Little Nuggets of Wisdom”. I texted my daughter. I can’t do this blog thing, I whined, because I can’t even come up with an original title. Again, she commanded me to persevere. She even suggested a title for me. It was a good title, but if I was going to create a blob or a blog or whatever, it had to be mine, & mine alone. Finally, I came up with the title “Southern Soul: Simple, Strong & Sweet”, & I was most delighted & surprised to find that Mr. Google did not show it, at least not on the first few pages of hits.

So, NOW I was ready to write, right? WRONG! Next I had to go to my email to confirm my account. Easy. Done. Then, I had a post that said “Hello, World!” Funny, I did not write that. SO I went to read it, & it told me that “after you read this, you should delete it & write your own post with a new title, above.” Problem was, I did not know how to delete the post. Five minutes later, I figured that out. Now, I had to come up with another title. Gee, this blogging thing is going to be harder than I thought. Next, I had to choose a theme. I spent about ten minutes looking at the different themes before settling on the “Tapestry” theme. Wait – I could not get that one, well at least not without forking over $75.00! Next it asked for a time zone, telling me to choose the city closest to my own. Let’s see, as I scrolled past cities with names like Lubumbashi, Iqaluit, & Syowa. SIGH! This was MUCH harder than I thought it would be. I gave up after about ten minutes of that – my time zone is only off by about seven hours – people will just have to get over it. When can I start blogging? Look at that tab first – what is it? “Upgrades store –  supercharge your blog”? Supercharge it? Heck, I just want to START it, for heaven’s sake! And what on earth is a “widget”, anyway?

Miraculously, I finally found the buttons to start blogging, even though I could not get the picture of my choice to upload on my oh too slow “high speed’ internet. So, I started typing, & here I am. I am sure my daughter, upon reading this, will wonder what on earth possessed her to encourage me to do this. Perhaps it’s because she knows that writing makes me happy, & relieves stress for me. Maybe it’s because she, like her little brother, thinks that I “talk too much”. (I would write “LOL” here, but I don’t really find that amusing, LOL.) They might think that if they have me busy typing then they won’t have to spend as much of their precious time actually listening (or pretending to listen) to me. Or maybe I am really just a college experiment for her – she IS taking psychology AND is writing a paper on “Citizen Journalism” right now. Maybe they have some grand experiment to see how many Baby-Boomers they can talk into spilling their guts online to total strangers. Maybe it’s none of these.

Regardless, I am at the end of my very first ever blog. Just as I had feared, it turned into a big blob of a blog. If you like it, please feel free to comment. If not, please have pity on me – after all, heretofore I was a “Blog Virgin”. I will try to do better next time. Now, off to figure out what that widget thing is all about …

~ L.L.S.