On Love

What is love?

“In recognizing that you’re here only to love, you realize that as long as you do that, you’re already a success. And love doesn’t have to be something grand. As Mother Teresa said, ‘There are no great deeds; there are just small deeds done with great love….The point isn’t just what you give when you love, but also what you open yourself to receive. As you send out love, the universe will send love back.’” – Marianne Williamson, The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles

I think it took me a long time to grasp that love doesn’t cause pain.

And it took me a long time to realize that love doesn’t ask me to sacrifice who I am.

Love – in the pure, divine sense of that word – is unconditional and loves you back. It doesn’t make you smaller. It doesn’t contract your world. This love expands your world.

Love is contained in the small gestures as much as in the big pronouncements. In the context of a romantic relationship, I have come to recognize that I much prefer (and trust) love in the form of regular, reliable and consistent acts of consideration and kindness than the occasional and dramatic gestures. To me, it’s the difference between being given flowers on a random day because someone is thinking of you and want to express appreciation and love versus being given flowers because of some holiday when flowers are expected.

Of course, the love that is referred to in the Marianne Williamson quote above is about a much bigger, deeper love than romantic love. It is love in the fuller, more expansive sense of the word – love beyond that which exists between two individuals (or a family), love that speaks to the human condition, love that is the divine. That love transforms, heals, and contributes to making the world a better place.

To be in the flow of love, to be a being of love, an ambassador of that bigger love – that love has as much to do with how I carry myself in the world (what I think, how I act, the decisions I make, how I express myself, how I conduct myself when I interact with strangers) as how I relate to those close to me. And to embrace that kind of love means that every moment of every day is an opportunity to give and receive love.  

How are you showing up as a being of love?

Lessons in Healing From a Business Book

Inspiration and teachings can come from all kinds of places. I know that. And yet I was still surprised to discover that I would find a profound lesson about forgiveness and a tool for healing in a business book. In a chapter on communication, I was encouraged to think about how often misunderstandings arose from the separation between words and intentions.

By becoming more aware of my own reactions in conversations and recognizing the frequency at which I assume my responses are exactly what were intended (without actually confirming the veracity of those intentions with other people), I am realizing how often I create unnecessary confusion, pain and suffering for myself. 

“…we need to accept that we can only know the impact that others’ actions have had on us, but we cannot know what intentions they had when they acted the way they did. Similarly, we can only know what we were thinking when we took some action, but we cannot know what impact our actions had on others.”

Fred Kofman, Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values (Sounds True, 2006), p. 139

This seems like such common sense and, on some level, I’ve known this to be true for some time. I think that is why I try to be mindful of how I communicate (albeit not always successfully – it’s definitely a skill that I am continuing to work on). But something was different about how I took in this information when I read this passage. Maybe it was just the frame of mind I was in when I read it. Regardless of why, I started thinking about how this shows up in my personal life. And when I thought about this in relation to some difficult relationships I have in my life and some hurtful experiences I have had, I suddenly felt a deeper level of compassion and capacity for forgiveness.

If I really take responsibility for my own feelings and own my response to the action rather than conflate my response with the intention of the action, then my response is actually an opportunity to gain deeper insight into my own assumptions, hurts, vulnerabilities and expectations. And that self-awareness can allow for more freedom in communication. If I wanted to (and if it was appropriate and/or possible), I could approach the other person and ask about their intention.

Sometimes just knowing that my reaction is not necessarily what was intended is enough to open up possibilities for alternate responses. And sometimes that knowing can be enough to create the space and possibilities for forgiveness.

Begin Again

I believe we are all enriched when we share genuinely and authentically. And I wasn’t really doing that before. I needed a break from the blog because I didn’t feel I had much to share. I had created the blog from a place of “have to” because I was told to do so. But it felt hollow and pointless – I wasn’t clear on what I had to offer or why I was writing and so the motivation wasn’t there. Not surprisingly the effort was painful and the result was bland, lackluster, generic, forced and not a source of joy.

And what’s the point of engaging in something that does not impart any joy?

So I just let the blog die. I resigned myself to feeling like a failure for having abandoned this blog.

Well, it turns out the blog did not die. It had just been in a coma. The desire to share and connect has been nagging at me and I started thinking about what it is that I stand for, what it is that I hope to accomplish with this blog, how I can be of service and act with purpose. It helps that I’ve been making my way through Julia Cameron’s instructive and insightful book, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life. I am ready to re-commit to writing and posting because I think I may have something to offer to at least one other person out there, that maybe I have something to contribute to the bigger conversation. I don’t have it all figured out yet but I have started connecting with that longing to share and to be of service through writing and they are motivating me to give this another try.  

No matter the endeavor, getting started is always the toughest part. So, without expectations and with minimal self-censoring, here I am taking that first step. 

Your Home, Your Self

Is your home in conflict with your true self?

When I sat down to write this post, I was going to write about home remodeling trends. And then I realized how dead that felt to me. I think trends are manufactured and, as someone who cares about value and quality more than whatever is the flavor-of-the-moment, why would I write about trends?

And that got me thinking. What does it mean to not follow trends in real estate?

If the discussion was about fashion, I think someone who defies trends is someone who is self-aware and has vision, strength, courage, and a whole lot of confidence. When it comes to a home, that kind of radical defiance requires a lot more effort. It’s easy to walk into a staged home or a design showroom and just buy the pieces as shown and put them in a house. And if you did, it’d be a lot like someone who just bought the outfit in the window and wore it exactly as it was displayed. It may be a great outfit, but it would tell you nothing about the wearer (other than maybe that they have no self-expression). It takes much more clarity and connection with self to really transform a house into a home that is reflective of the owner’s authentic self.

When it comes to home remodeling, I think the most important thing is to do what makes you happy. After all, you’re the one who’s paying for it and living with it. And a home that reflects its owner’s personal sense of style and expression is admirable. Even when a home is decorated and remodeled in ways that are not to my taste, I can still appreciate the vision and joy behind it. There are design trends, color trends, and trends on trends – all good information, I suppose, if you’re a trend-following kind of person. But really, how boring is that? Seeing the hundreds of homes I do every month, I think that’s one of the things that really differentiates a home from a property. A home can’t help expressing something about its owners. The property (especially the kinds that are quickly done by investors) tend to have the same trends-inspired feel to them. They look great maybe the first five or ten times you see them. Then they get really boring because they are all exactly the same. There’s no humanity behind it, there’s no quirkiness, there’s no individual expression – just a cold calculated “this is what’s trendy now” kind of approach to the entire project.

I think being true to your self and what makes you happy ultimately makes the remodeling project more fulfilling and rewarding. And why wouldn’t you want your home to be an expression and extension of who you are? More importantly, if you are someone who seeks to live authentically, why would your home not be a reflection of that authenticity?

I’d love to hear how you bring your authenticity to your home. How does your home express your values, your truths, your spirit, your Self?

Hiring a Contractor? Ask These Questions First!

Now that it’s spring, are you feeling the urge to update your home?

Whether you’re finally getting around to doing those upgrades you’ve been promising yourself ever since you moved into your home or you’re getting your home ready for the market, there are some steps you want to take to protect your investment before you commit to a contractor. Key questions include asking to see their license and insurance to make sure everything is up to date, asking for references (and following up with the references!), getting details about their crew (these are people who will be going in and out of your home so it’s best to know about their qualifications too), requesting a detailed proposal for work to be done and getting absolutely everything in writing. Your home is most likely your biggest investment so be sure to treat it like the precious commodity that it is!

For more great tips about what you should ask a contractor before hiring them, check out this post from Kerrie Kelly, a renowned interior designer who also writes about home remodeling for The Home Depot.

http://blog.realestatebook.com/2015/03/04/10-questions-ask-hiring-contractor/

Share Positivity

Do you believe in the power of words?  That words carry energy? That words can change your perspective as well as your experience in and of the world?

My friend Alessa, founder and designer of Positivity Designs, believes words are energetically powerful and knows that how we express ourselves and how we think can have a powerful impact on our health and our world.  And she’s committed to bringing more gratitude, compassion, love and gratitude into the world through her beautifully-designed products.  That’s why she created Positivity Designs.

If you’re looking for last minute gifts, check out her offerings over at positivitydesigns.com

Here’s a sample of some “gratitude”-themed gifts:

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A Celebrity Surprise

Part of my job as a real estate professional is to be familiar with the inventory, which means I go see lots of houses.  And, this being LA, I have found myself in the homes of actors, directors, writers and others connected to the entertainment industry.  I don’t seek out these homes; most of the time I discover the Hollywood connection because of something that is hanging on the wall, on the mantle or through a conversation with the agent.  It doesn’t really change my assessment of a home, although it can occasionally shift how I perceive someone in the public eye.

For example, I fell in love with a house today.  I loved the decor, I loved the floor plan, I loved the feel and flow of the entire place.  It felt warm and cared for and inviting.  It was just a house with really wonderful energy.  You could sense that the inhabitants were happy there and that this had been a good home for them.  As I was looking around the child’s bedroom, I saw on the wall a little drawing the child had made.  Written on the drawing was, “I am grateful for my parents.”  That just floored me.  To me, that just speaks to how there was some very good parenting going on in that household.

I still didn’t know whose home it was.  As I continued to tour the house, I happened to see something that revealed who the owner was.  And in that moment, I noticed a subtle shift in what I thought of this person. I had been pretty indifferent to this person’s work (just not my taste) and I doubt I will rush to see their next project simply because of what I saw today.  It’s more that I was so impressed that a younger actor with some success is raising such a wonderful kid in this town that I feel this respect for them, from a distance.  With so much of the media focused on the individuals who make their mistakes in public, it’s nice to come across someone who has achieved some success (and who seems to continue to be succeeding in the industry) to be so grounded and loving in their private life.