A Lesson in THINGS


This morning, I learned a little lesson about THINGS.

This comes ironically the day AFTER I snapped a pic of a thick glass bowl full of treasures and trinkets. They were the topic of an article I had just written in Druid City Living, the little paper I love to write for in my “Lake Living” Column.

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The things were mostly meaningless without the story behind them, from places known and some I have to admit, unclear. My curious kitten sent the bowl crashing to my desk in a thunderous plunk and a pile of mess just where I was typing.

Until now, it sat on my windowsill between me and the sunshine. I glance at it now and then, remembering the times my babies (now grown) gnawed on a small melodic, silver rattle. It is nestled among feathers gathered from my parakeets and chickens as well as sheddings from gulls and a bluebird. It is accented by dried leaves, bright orange rock fragments from North Carolina, a golf tee and marker from Mountaintop, a small Bible with a magnifying glass tucked in the back cover that I got as a child. Sand dollars, some broken, some glued to a piece of wood. Sticks, mostly in shapes that spoke to me while I meandered a labyrinth with my best friend just before brain cancer sent her to a better place.

EF67B0E5-6F74-425D-B873-7562102A8704The slow motion movement from the bowl and the twice as fast dart of the cat is still engrained in my mind. A reminder that we can contain our things, but life still has a way of breaking our concentration, unleashing what is important.

I yelled at the cat, I screamed out loud. I watched in horror as he scrambled to the floor, then spoke aloud, “What is MY DEAL?”
BDA68D24-56AA-40BF-BA25-5452098EA62FSomehow, instead of cleaning it up, I ended up in my closet FILLED with trinkets, books and treasures. I sat on the floor. I took out a box I have carried around since I discovered it in the back of my mother’s closet. A glimpse into the life of the uncle I would never know, killed at age 18 in World War Two. Without his death my mother would have never been adopted. I would have never been. I snapped this pic of the box, the pic of, he, his mother and his sister at the time, before my mother was even a thought. The envelope returned to sender with the words “Missing in Action”.

I resolved today that things should either be displayed, shared (as in a museum) for some purpose, or TOSSED. I cringe at the third option. I used to rummage for hours in the upstairs rooms of my grandparent’s abandoned home. They closed it up, left every thing there after Allen died. What remained were things such as this chair, these photo albums, items of someone’s glorious yesterdays, avoided, forgotten.0E9266F3-0344-47AC-8973-40BC77A4D2E1

I scraped up the tiny shards of glass only after snapping a pic of the pile too. I could not deny that there was beauty among that mess as well. This pile of glass reminded me, even on my desk, of tiny grains of Alabama Gulf Coast beach sand where I collected so many of these things.

E8541A48-5734-45F7-B505-58F6D2C3BED6As I sorted to add them to a “non-breakable” plastic topped box I remembered some of the places I had stopped to snatch these things: a rock in a creek bed in Norcross, Georgia at a horse farm; a butterfly I vowed to wear in my hair if we bought it in Ashville, NC; A crystal ornament I couldn’t pack away at Christmas; a lock of my daughter’s blonde hair tied in mesh; shale looking items and sticks from the beach (because those are more rare there than shells); a paper American flag; a cork from our first anniversary.

We may think things will make us happy. Yes, these did, somehow, but they cannot replace the memories of the moments that go with them.

I culled a few shells. Perfect, hand picked, store bought shells I rescued from our beach house the week before my mother sold it with everything in it. I also took the less perfect ones I would often add to her “decor” collection, remembering the coolness of the water on my feet as I would search for them at the water’s edge. She probably doesn’t remember what catalog she bought those from. But I remember every creak, every uneven tile in the beach house floor when I look at these. I remember the home of my childhood that proceeded the newer version. The sleeping porch, the spiral stair, the wood balconies. The humming of my grandmother, the unusual softness of my grandfather’s fingers as he swirled his cane while rocking in his rocker. All of those memories simply triggered by a large rock my daughter, now 20, painted on a day when it was too cold to go outside when we lived there along the water’s edge in Gulf Shores. (We would also paint hermit crabs and release them in the bay across the street). I am pleased to discover I do draw a limit in my treasure collection.

Which brings me back to the lesson of things. None of these were elaborate gifts, jewels or shiny treasures. Even the rattle is coated in black. They are mere triggers for the memories that I hold dear.

I could toss them. But for now, I’ll just move them to a safer place. After all, the article I wrote just before this one was all about USING your treasures, making them a part of your every day life.

Looks like I’ll just have to keep the cat out of the china closet, because if I have it, I’m gonna start using it and quit saving it for that someday that might just never come.

Have a blessed, wonderful happymess ~memory making life!

Allison

 

 

Happy National REALTOR Day


Today is National REALTOR Day.

I  began my real estate career in 1994 after working ten years in commercial interior design. My last day of work as a full time 8-5 employee was just a few days before I went into labor with my first child. He is now 21.

Being a REALTOR (the title is trademarked) means you are a real estate agent who is a member of the Association of REALTORS and complete education and professional requirements every two years to be up to date on laws, marketing information as well as technology.

I, like many who ask me about being a Realtor, believed this career would provide me with a flexible job that would work well with my “child rearing responsibilities”. I got my license shortly after he was born thinking I could “be at home more” with him. Little did I know the time and effort that goes into a transaction.

Back then, there was barely an internet. The REALTOR was the gatekeeper with all of the secret information, your guide, your counselor. We scheduled our appointments by telephone, fewer times by cell phone. We drove our clients around in our vehicles. Today buyers like to be in their own vehicles for the most part. We printed out paper to show the home information and delivered contracts by hand. Fax was the fast way and usually a response came a few days later.

As far as flexibility of schedules are concerned, my first years in real estate I often had a two and four year old in the car eating cereal snacks and watching a VHS tape of Barney in the small TV I had rigged to play in my Suburban. It was not the glamorous or predictable lifestyle I had dreamed of. Quite often, people wanted to see the properties just as they were getting off work or on weekends in the middle of soccer practice.

Today, my schedule is still flexible, and thanks to the internet I can email a response as well as a dozen photos in a few minutes. The difference now is that I might be making deals at night with a response expected immediately. Technology is a must for today’s Realtor. I also have a child who is older than my two back then, and more adaptable as well.

This generation of buyers is much more savvy and you can bet they have done their homework. They usually know what they are looking for or have researched the schools or narrowed down to a location. In fact, sometimes they find properties that we are not aware of, thanks to some of those mega information sites that may or may not provide accurate information.

Many families choose to sell their homes themselves, making the job of the Realtor more challenging as there is not a uniform cross section of data for us to use while making a home search for our clients. Most home sellers are also savvy and are willing to work with agents who represent buyers.

A most awkward moment occurs for a for sale by owner seller when the buyer decides to make an offer. Perhaps the items being negotiated for that were not spelled out in a document such as we have through MLS (multiple listing service) that lets you know grandmother’s chandelier will be REMOVED at purchase. These are the things that a Realtor can help a buyer address, as well. We are also required to update the status of properties promptly so if you use www.realtor.com you are assured to have up to the minute information.

Sites created for sale by owner advertising provide an avenue for pictures as well as general information, but they lapse in the service that has again become the thing that attracts clients to the Realtor. That is the renewed definition in the role as the gatekeeper.

With valuables being in the home, medications that are often targeted, and safety concerns it is important for homeowners to be wary of the risks of opening your home to a complete stranger.

As a Realtor, I take it as my responsibility to meet with a client if possible before showing a home. A qualification from a bank helps the client know exactly what our target market is and gives them confidence in a firm offer. This also avoids our bothering homeowners that might not be in that price range but whose property may be of initial interest to the potential buyer.

In addition, I usually ask for a copy of a drivers license. We cannot be too careful, for ourselves or our client’s who are opening their homes as they offer them for sale.

While Realtors are still defining their roles in the world of home buying and selling, the best plus for a home seller is the marketing expertise they receive. With Realtors networking weekly, having caravans and open houses for fellow professional members of their boards of Realtors, you can assure when you hire one Realtor, you are getting the force of the membership behind you as well.

Whether you sell by owner or hire a REALTOR, remember we are all working for the same goal, to help you or someone else enjoy the American dream of owning their own home.

I hope if you see a Realtor today who is rushing to and fro, obviously working a deal on a cell phone at dinner with their family at a restaurant or at the soccer field, give them a big hug! They will gratefully appreciate it!

Blessings to my REALTOR friends who raise the bar each and every day!

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Allison Adams

Allison sells real estate in Tuscaloosa, home of Alabama’s Crimson Tide and writes her Lake Living Column for Druid City Living Newspaper from Lake Tuscaloosa. Get info on properties available in her area of Alabama at www.allisonadamsrealtor.com