Thursday, May 31, 2012

Real Estate Training

“So Dad, when do you train me?” I said as I eagerly jumped into the car next to him.  We would carpool to work since we lived in the same house and we were going to the same office.  I was in my early twenties.

“Oh, all in good time,” he answered me.  

But what he really meant to say was, “Never.  I am never going to train you.  You will never know what you are doing in real estate.”

We walked into the office, “Which desk do I take?”  I could tell it wasn’t going to be a significant issue.  I looked out into a silent, unoccupied room, around 15 empty desks.  The only people who worked out of this office were my dad, his real estate partner, and my grandmother.  The office was held strong by my dad and his partner.  As for my grandmother, she was and had been ready for retirement for a while now, but was avoiding it.  Therefore, daily she arrived and daily she sat, tapping her freshly coated pink finger nails, awaiting any business that might suddenly, randomly blow in her way.  

I took the desk right behind my father so he could train me better.  Get ready world!  

I sat down at my desk.  “So what do I do, Dad?  I am ready!”  

The phone rang, interrupting the start of my training.  He reached to answer it.  

I guess training would come later.      

So I sat at my desk a lot.  And my grandmother also sat at her desk a lot.  We sat there together, watching the world go by.  Makin’ the big bucks.  Swimming in the dough.  

“Hey, Grandma, are you finished with the People magazine yet?”

She handed it back to me as I passed her the copy of the In Style magazine I just completed. 

“Dad, why am I here?  You aren’t even training me?  Where is all of my training?”

“Okay,” ready for your training?” he replied.  “Pass out these fliers to houses in the neighborhood.”  So I did, and in doing so I found real estate to be very exciting.  Being chased by dogs.  Running through sprinklers.  Stepping in dog poo.  Being yelled at by the elderly as you approach their doors.  

“Dad,” I said when I got back to the office, wet haired, sunburned, and breathing heavily, “When does my ‘proper’ training start?”

“What is that smell?” he asked, picking up his foot to look on the underside of his real estate loafers.  

“Dad!  My training!” I reiterated. 

So then came the training.  

It started with a math problem.  He turned his chair around to face my desk and gave me an equation.  A most difficult one if you ask me.  He was throwing numbers at me left and right, and my pencil was wildly, frantically responding.  “So, Janna, if you take the interest and you divide it by the bla, bla, bla, and then you take away the bla, bla, bla, how much is the house worth?”

“Um....” I quickly did my calculations and then answered, “Ten thousand dollars,” raising my tone at the end, really just turning my statement into a question. 

He stared at me in disbelief.  “A house that cost ten thousand dollars?”  I could see him holding back a laugh.

“That is what I said,” I responded.  What is wrong with him, I thought to myself.  I looked back down at my paper.  “That is what my figures are telling me.”

“Think, Janna!  Think!” he raised his voice.

I raised my voice even louder, “I am thinking!  And I am thinking that this house you talk of cost ten thousand dollars!  How am I supposed to know how much houses cost!?  You are not training me!  Where is this house you are talking about anyway?”  

I was so angry and frustrated, I said, “Somewhere,” and then I yelled,  “SOMEWHERE in the world,” pointing my finger into his face, “a house does cost ten thousand dollars somewhere, Dad!!!!" 

“I QUIT!” I stomped toward the door and burst out of it as hard as I could to really drive my point home.  I stood in the middle of the street staring out at the parking lot, my eyes scanning through all of the cars, none of them being mine.  Great, I don’t even drive myself to work.  I turned back around, quietly opened the door, stuck my head in shamefacedly and asked under my breath, “Can I get a ride home?”

He calmly answered, with a slight uplifting of one of the sides of his mouth, “When I am done with work.”  It was a smile.  I know it was a smile.

“Ahhhhh!!!!!!”  Cuss.  Cuss.

This was not work.  And this was not working.

I gracefully stepped out of my real estate business right after my dad showed the only client I ever had one of his houses for sale while I was on vacation.  He closed the deal, and I was paid and went to Europe with the money. 

I love real estate!!!

Here I am with a Scottish bagpipe man.

And here I am with the Loch Ness Monster.

And that concluded my endeavors in real estate.

It ended with the realization, I don’t work well with my father.  And I am not sure what you do in real estate besides pass out fliers.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

His Big Plans For Me

So who is this father of mine?  I have only alluded to his importance and impact upon me and my family.  He plays a crucial part in this journey of mine, so I must paint a picture of him for one to understand the depths of his role.

This is my family.  Mostly right brained individuals.  Artists.  Free spirited.  And then there is me.  “A balance between the two,” my dad would always say.  “Now that’s why I can relate to you so well.  You have enough left brain in there to make sense.  You and I, Janna, we make sense.”  He would say as he tapped his finger to his left temple.  “Janna, you and I are the only ones in this family that think with the left sides of our brains,” he would say proudly.  “What does that mean, Dad?”  “It means something good,” he’d say as he pointed his finger to his temple as if telling me that he and I were both “with it” and that the rest of my family well, didn’t display the “it” he was referring to.  

“Okay,” I said, having no idea what he was talking about.  

But he knew we were similar.  It was so very clear to him.

In me, he saw the girl version of himself...

Type A.



Born with an ability to sell.

He sold houses.

And I sold anything, whatever I could get my hands on.  

Lemonade.  Candy Bars.  Cookbooks.  Blow Pops.  I was in high school when I opened my candy business, “People, if I am carrying this over-the-shoulder-purse-bag, it means that I am open for business.  Give me your quarter, take your Blow Pop, and don’t tell any teachers where you have received your merchandise.  Now turn around slowly and walk away nonchalantly.  That’s right.”

Sometimes I even had other items in stock, depending on the time of year.  “Janna, is this your Halloween candy?”

Cha ching.  Cha ching.

I remember walking home from my friend’s house and there, sitting atop a pile of trash was a box of Budweiser nail clippers, 25 to count.  “Score!”  My brother standing next to me stood staring.  To his eyes it was only a box of clippers, but to my eyes, money signs were dancing before me, and my adrenaline started pumping.  For the next couple of days I went door to door selling those clippers, “You need this pair of clippers.  Your nails will look nicer, more trim.”  And when I was done, I pocketed $25.  Yeah.  You think you don’t need a pair of Budweiser nail clippers?   Oh, but you do.  

“That’s my daughter,” my dad smiled a beaming grin as I walked past him, pockets jingling with money.

“Someday, Janna, we will do something with this gift.”

And he knew very well where this gift could be used.  Alongside him in real estate.

“I have 30 years of business.  How about I train you and then when I retire, you take it all over?”  Sounded good.  So I closed down my Blow Pop business, and it was off to real estate school for me.  I thought it would be fun to work with my dad.  

It was always fun to be with Dad.  He could get me laughing so hard my sides would ache.  All he would have to do is start laughing and I would be hooked.  His giggle, contagious.  He would be on the phone with someone and begin laughing about something or other, as I would be walking by.  Before I knew it I was joining him, both of us bending over in stitches, a fit of hilarious tears, slapping each other's shoulders and holding our stomaches.  As he hung up the phone, “Dad, what was so funny?  What are we laughing at?”

“Oh nothing,” he said, as any leftover bit of laughter began to subside.  I was left standing there, shaking my head back and forth, baffled.  How does he pull me in every time?    

Working together sounded like the best thing ever.  The funnest thing ever.

Only it wasn’t the best thing at all.  It was the worst thing ever.  Ever.  It was the worst thing ever.  Did I already say that?


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Dad, My Friend

“So are you really considering moving or are these trips just an excuse to get us to watch the kids while you go off on rendezvous together?” my dad asked me.

“Dad, this is serious,” I answered.  “I think we are really going to do it.”

“But what about the plan?” he argued. 

The Plan.  Oh, the plan.  

“Dad, shall I remind you of the plan?"  I took a deep breath and then began, "Five years ago you said, ‘Let’s all move in five years together.’ And then a year went by and you said, ‘Let’s all move in five years.’  And then 3 years went by and you said, ‘Let’s all move in five years.’  And then 5 years went by.... you get the picture.  Dad, my son is now five years old.  If we are going to move, the time is now, before our children become so settled here.”

“Janna, I’m not ready,” he said.  I could hear a tone of concern in his voice.

“But Dad,” I hesitated before continuing, “What if we are?  What if moving is what would be best for our family?”
The very idea of it was like an arrow headed straight for his heart.
“To be away from family, from us, from me?  Janna, how can that be best for your family?” he said; it hurt him to hear otherwise.
And I couldn’t help but wonder if he was right.  What is the best for my family?  I had no clue, and input from anyone confused me.  Everyone has their biases, opinions, their reasons.  All I knew for certain was uncertainty.  For this moment and many moments to come, I would be learning how to find peace under a blanket of uncertainty.  Oh, so very hard to do.  But as is so often true with God, He would provide direction when it was time.  There would be many twist and turns along the way, eventually revealing what would be the best for my family.  But it would all be revealed in His time.  Not mine.  As is always so.
But what to do with the people who are hurt by the decisions we make?  Would this cripple my decision making?  Absolutely, as it had always been so in the past.  I mean, who wants to disappoint another human being?  I’m sure most of us avoid certain decisions based on how they would affect others.  Talk about paralysis in decision making.  Both my husband and I suffered from it.  Both peacemakers.  Both people pleasers.  Never ruffle any feathers.  
Baby steps, I reminded myself.  Don’t imagine yourself saying goodbye.  Don’t visualize him crying while waving goodbye to us on the corner.  But I didn’t have to envision it; it was painted on his face.  Devastation.

A heavy ache lay deep within the pit of my soul.  

Later that night, I lay in bed talking with my husband, “Dan,” I said, “I can’t bare to disappoint him.  It hurts too much to even think about it.”  I rolled over, holding my hand to my heart and moaning,  “I can’t stand to see him in pain over this.  He’s one of the most precious things in my life.”

My father.  He had not just been my caretaker, my provider, my dad...

My father had very well become one of my closest friends.  

One of my best. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cutting the Cord

And so back to my story...

A Recap

We had traveled to three different places, considering all three as prospective places to make as final resting points for our future home.  The first trip.  The second trip.  The third trip, our last and final excursion was to San Luis Obispo, a quaint little college town along the California coast.

The final day of this San Luis Obispo trip would come too soon.  We would be taking home a deeper understanding of what we wanted in life from the experiences shared by our friends, Ryan and Barb, who had been on their own journey learning what mattered most to them in life.  

It was the morning of our departure...

“Would you like to go to church with us?” Ryan asked over a scrambled egg breakfast.

Absolutely we would want to go.  I mean, the last time we visited a church on one of our trips, an elderly man came up to me with a message from God.  What in the world?  Could this church have one of those guys too?  I was desperate for guidance, clarity, and direction.  By now in our journey, I was expecting God to turn up wherever, whenever.  I was getting used to it.       

My husband and I sat in the church service, hand in hand, listening to the pastor carefully communicate the message.  I turned my head to look at my husband.  The corner of my mouth lifted, forming a slight side smile.  The topic of the church service would, or course, be about the next thing that was heavy on our hearts- finances.  “Honoring God with our finances....” the pastor’s voice trailed off.  The perfect topic to end our weekend with.  We had just had a crash course on life lessons shared by Ryan and Barb about honoring God with finances and time.  Our weekend lesson wrapped up in a sermon.  I smiled thinking about God’s involvement in my life,  His constant hand over us.

Just the topic I needed to hear about.


For me finances are simple.  Very simple.  A small plastic card located in my wallet.  

“How do you want to pay?  Cash?  Check?  Credit?"
Cash?  No way.  You’re setting yourself up to be mugged.
Check?  No way.  Good heavens, no!  There might not be money in there.  I don’t know.  Even if there is, I don’t know how much.
Credit?  Now you are talkin.   

Me and my BFF, AMEX.  It’s the wise choice.  You get cash back for using it.  And points are the best.  Points for what?  I’m unsure.  But points sound good, real good.

Swipe.  Swipe.  Oooo, did you see that swipe?  

Smooth.  Fast.  Focused.  There is a definite rare, exceptional talent to it.  Because sometimes you swipe wrong and the card doesn’t go through.  Think that ever happens to me?  Heck no!  I have never heard these words out of a merchant, “Oh it didn’t go through.  Can you swipe it again?”  

Do I think money grows on trees?   Don’t be silly.  I know very well where money comes from.  It’s withdrawaled from my husband’s account.

“Janna, you need to stop spending,” my husband said to me.   

“Okay, okay, this is the last time.”

“Janna, you need to stop spending,” my husband said to me once again.

“Okay, okay, Dan, this is definitely the last time.”

I leaned over in the church service to ask my husband for a tissue.  
“Dan, do you have a…” I whispered.

“Shhh,” he quieted me, pressing his pointer finger to my lips.  “Pay attention.”

“….and you can start by cutting up some credit cards,” I heard the pastor say. 

“Here,” Dan whispered as he handed me a pen and paper, “Take notes.” 
We went away from this trip with a new perspective.

On giving.

On finances.

On owing others money.
“I’ve decided, Janna...  a house we can afford,” my husband said to me.  “We will not borrow money from your father.  Not even for a dream house.  Not even to build a house on a rolling hill.  Not now.  Not ever.  We will not sign up for a debt we cannot repay.”

“Okay,” I said, hesitating to agree.

He was so manly when he talked so assertive to me, but it didn’t make me feel all safe and secure like I thought it would.  Instead it made me nervous.    
Deep down I knew he was right. 

But what did this mean?  That I couldn’t lean on Daddy anymore?  Not that we were financially leaning on him, but he was the constant “just in case” cushion in my life.  
I could feel the ties, the dependency, that held me close to my dad were beginning to slowly unravel.  I knew I was to increase my ties to my husband, but the idea of it made me terrified.    

My dad was my base of support, the one I depended upon to feel safe. 

Without my dad, life just felt,