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/

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.

Work From a Place of Authenticity

“Something in us knows that we are not just here to toil at our work.” – Jack Kornfield

Do you find your daily schedule packed with work-related activities and all the things you “should” do?  Are your identity and self-worth dependent on how much you work, how closely you adhere to the way you are supposed to be?

After long long days (weeks, months, even years) of working to the point of exhaustion, do you ever find yourself wondering, “Is that all there is to this life?”

I have found myself at those points too many times.  And I am grateful that each time I have found my way out with new insights about myself and my growth.

Looking back, I have noticed that it is when I have lost my connection to the greater purpose of my being that hours spent working becomes draining and pointless.  Sure, working to pay the bills is important and necessary.  Yet that is not enough.  Our existence has to be about more than just getting up, slogging through the day and putting in the hours to get a paycheck so that we can then pay someone else.

I find such a significant difference in my energy and attitude as well as the results of my efforts when I act from a deeper knowing. From the outside the actions may look the same and yet the internal experience is vastly different.  It’s a lot like when I practice yoga as a form of offering, as a moving meditation, as an expression of my inner being versus when I practice mindlessly and just making my way through the poses, looking at the clock and counting the minutes until I would be done.

In my business it is the difference between having a soul-less conversation with someone and just focusing on them as a potential client when we meet at an open house versus having a meaningful engagement with someone and interacting from a place of service. From the outside, it may look like I am having the same conversation and yet my experience of the interaction is dramatically different: the former is depressing, deflating and an energy drain whereas the latter approach is much more authentic, energizing, enlivening and purposeful.

The tricky part, sometimes, is that when people walk into an open house, they’re not always energetically open to having that kind of exchange with me.  My job, and this is effortless when I am strongly connected with my inner self, is to hold that space for those who are open to it so that we may have the meaningful exchange.  Just because we are talking about the number of bedrooms, the square footage, the functionality of the fireplace, etc. does not mean that I have to hide my inner self.  It would not be authentic for me to not allow my spirit to come through.

I used to think that when I was in my real estate mode, I had to send my yoga self off to a separate room.  It was as if I was playing dress up and I would put on my real estate mask to cover up my yoga self.  And that was not authentic.  And it made me feel horrible.  Not to mention bad for business (would you want to work with someone whom your gut could tell was not being completely real and authentic?).  I now realize that my yoga self and my real estate self can and need to co-exist, to show up together if I am to operate as an authentic and whole human being.  As much as I know that, there still are days when it’s a little scary to be so open.  Being authentic can feel a bit scary because it requires us to be vulnerable.  And yet, it’s totally worth.

Why waste time and energy on anything less than the authentic?