It's hard to believe that today marks my 300th edition of The Piedmont Perspective! (Where has the time gone?) As such, I'm feeling rather nostalgic about the journey we have all taken together.
In essence, I've invited you NOT only into the world of Real Estate these past several years, but into my family's lives as well (often to their great surprise and consternation). Some of you have come and gone, and come back again, to see if there was still something to be said, and more importantly perhaps, to see if the information was still relevant. (It seems to have been; thank you for your timely comments.)
You've followed: baseball and football games, high-school graduations, college admissions, my dog, my kids, my husband, my BOSS, my mother-in-law, my parents, my friends, up-sizing, downsizing, reevaluating, and romance (we've shared a love affair with homes).
With respect to to your insights, you've resonated with teen challenges, household challenges, economic challenges, work challenges, life challenges, all kinds of unexpected challenges, and more happily - their resolutions. In fact, the more personal my stories were, the more likely you were to respond.
You've offered suggestions, contributed ideas and events, and supplied a kind word on more than one occasion. You've referred family, friend, and neighbors and entrusted me with your most intimate journey. Together, we've watched the markets expand, contract, and expand again, as financial institutions collapsed, the stock market fell, and housing prices corrected, only to have the U.S. economy rebound with record growth and renewed faith in the "great American dream" once more.
Whatever lessons I've learned along the way - both personally and professionally - I have hopefully passed along to you, tied up with a bit of humor and empathy, and some timely information for your consideration. In every piece, I have spoken from my heart, but in truth, was probably teaching myself more than I was teaching you with each passing week. Certainly, I was gaining real clarity around the issues we all face, both in life and in real estate!
So this morning while walking the dog, I was wondering exactly what more to say on what feels to be a rather momentous occasion (at least to me, anyway). Adventure, sacrifice, discovery, escape, rivalry, transformation, pursuit, temptation, love . . . they've all found their way into The Perspective with regularity. However, if there's anything I have learned in my MANY years of sales, it is that good marketing requires repetition before it eventually sinks in.
In any case, Buck and I mulled it over as we wound our way through Piedmont at dawn (actually, Buck just looked for tennis balls while I sought to be profound) down into the park, through the redwoods, past the tennis courts, and eventually stopped at Mulberry's Market for a quick refreshment, before attacking the long uphill climb back home ("over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go . . .")
What to say? What to say? WHAT TO SAY?
Hmmm . . . Here goes . . . I love to walk and because I used to jog through the Presidio in San Francisco (in days gone by) and I am entirely comfortable with the up and down topography that forms the Oakland Hills, and Piedmont in particular. Even so, I like to consider myself a "downhill specialist," preferring the easy breath the descent brings, as opposed to the huffing and puffing that takes place coming back UP. (I'm not looking to break a sweat here, I just want to get some exercise, if you please.)
Which strikes me as a metaphor for life, I suppose. Who doesn't prefer the 'easy' instead of the 'difficult'; a 'victory,' as opposed to a 'defeat;' 'glory' instead of 'humility?' (Or put another way, another valuable "life lesson!") Wouldn't be nice if everything just went our way and we never had to break a sweat??? (Yes, I suppose it would.) Wouldn't it be great if our kids, our families, and our clients never knew a moment of discomfort, of loss, of pain? If only we could always run interference on their behalf and provide the perfect answer? (Maybe not.)
While there's still so much to learn, here's what I know to be undeniably true after LOTS of years on the planet, and more than a decade in Real Estate. (Drum roll please . . .)
Each of these unexpected "life lessons" creates an opportunity for growth, for evolution, and for change - and often for the better. Or as Tom Hanks character so perfectly puts it in the movie, A League of Their Own, "If it were easy, everyone would do it. It's the 'tough' that makes it great."
It's the TOUGH that makes it great! Life's not always easy (certainly buying or selling a house is almost NEVER easy) and composing this column week after week, hasn't been particularly easy, but's it's always been a privilege, and a tremendously rewarding and creative journey, for which I am completely grateful.
As I've reached out to you, you've reached back. What I found there was love and laughter, fear and uncertainty, willingness and faith, but above all else, persistence, tenacity, and solutions. As it turn out, those damn hills are the Grand Canyon of life, OR what are hiking boots for anyway, if not to tackle the hills that come our way? (I hope my soon-to-be college grad is listening - I love you Case.)
Thank you ALL for listening. It's been a real honor for me. Here's to the next 300!
(Trivia question: Who plays the lead character in "A League of Their Own?" Complimentary lattes and treats for everyone who responds correctly - or who responds at all, I'm feeling celebratory.)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.