Standards…Obviously Not One Size Fits All

Standards = Guidelines for your life

Standards = Guidelines for your life

Anytime that I have felt a lull or a dormancy in my life, after some intense reflection, I can always pin-point the degradation to a slip-up or relaxation of my personal standards. Standards are not a one-size-fits-all concept. There is no set of standards that works universally for everyone and no matter how much you want them to, some people may just plain not have them. Period.

In a world of “everyone should get a trophy for merely having a pulse,” the concept of standards sometimes feel all but lost. I personally have standards for myself in all facets of my life. Whether it be my business, wife & motherly, or personal I have standards for myself. I am also my own worst critic, something I consistently struggle with is to give myself some slack, as I tend to be my own drill sergeant. While being focused and regimented is good, too much of a good thing can be bad, so therefore I struggle daily with not crossing the line into an unhealthy balance.

In the past, my self imposed standards have been so prevalent and strong that they have alienated people. It’s a foreign thing to me, being raised by a U.S. Marine that other folks may not have set the bar very high for themselves or have chosen to not set one at all. It’s not really failing when you have not set any standard right? One of the hardest things as an adult was learning that being an adult does not necessarily mean that all other adults had standards of their own to live up to regarding behavior, grooming, relationships, parenting, etc.

I view standards as not something to necessarily “hit” or “attain.” More so, I see them as, at minimum, the ground floor of what you expect to achieve, or even the way you allow others to treat you. That is a BIG standard most struggle with implementing, myself included. Although, once that bar was set, I have to admit it pissed a lot of people off. Through natural selection a whole bunch of them were wiped clear out of my life and I would do it again, probably sooner because those who were here for the right reasons all lived up to the standard. Those who did not, faded into the abyss.

At the end of the day, I have learned that setting your own personal standards to an level slightly over attainable, and eventually increasing/decreasing them with ebb-and-flow of life, is a formula that works for me. Others may choose to not share the same level of standards I set for myself, and that is all fine. My standards only help mold and refine who I wish to become as a person. Only someone who is immature or lacks confidence will take my own personal standards and apply them as a reason to feel inferior or take issue with them. I do not hold others to my standards, that would be unreasonable.

I do, however, have set standards for those I let in my immediate circle, each year those standards seem to get tighter and more refined. It is not that I take issue with those who do not fit within those guidelines. I want to be immediately surrounded by those who inspire, support and challenge me to be better than I thought I could ever be, thus embracing & supporting the fact that I have self imposed standards. True friends want to see you attain goals and will be there to support, however they can.

Too many folks are intimidated by that sort of relationship, and that is fine. I choose to take part in only the best. This does not mean the Prettiest, The Richest, The Infamous…it means those who are the best for my soul.


Mean Girls

Mean Girls

Mean Girls

I am in the age of the question, “When are you having more kids?” The looks of horror I get when I tell them that my husband and I are not having more kids are quite funny to me. Our daughter is our greatest blessing but if we would have had a boy as a first born I would probably be more apt to try for one more child. We have plenty of other reasons as to why our family is perfect the way that it is, but one of the reasons is that I do not deal with girl drama.

Having a sweet, brilliant little girl has been amazing. It has been like dressing a real live doll. We bond over clothes shopping, nail appointments, girlie movies, and dance class. She is about to turn 5 and head into Kindergarten this fall and I already am dreading the drama. Girls in general are incredibly emotional, irrational, self-involved, insecure, jealous beings but couple that with the hands off, lazy, finger-pointing parenting these days and this generation has disaster written all over it.

Recently, my 4 year old has been getting acclimated to being with older kids at her new school, as when she goes into Kindergarten she will be grouped with the school age kids. She has been rather worried about being around the “big kids” and I work on reassuring her daily that they are no different, no smarter, no better than she is, that she can keep up with them, and truth be told she actually can. She has a better perception, emotional intelligence and self awareness than most kids much older than her. It is both a gift and downfall I had as a child as well.

Yesterday, finding out that one of the older girls called my 4 year old “Stupid,” after my mom had picked her up automatically increased my body temperature. We rarely use the word “stupid” in our house, and it is never used to describe a child. Adult behavior? Why yes, that is the best terminology I can use to describe some adults without using profanity. Anyways, I soon found out that I was more affected by it than my daughter. She merely brought it up as something that happened in her day, she was not affected by it or even felt that this “big girls” opinion had any bearing on her being.

All the while my mind was racing on what I would have told my daughter was affected by this little simpleton’s remark such as, “Oh she’s probably upset because she’s being raised by pigs/animals.” Yeah…that is the mean spirited mean girl of my own who comes flying out when someone messes with my child and while it is the first line that usually comes to my head out of anger, it is never conveyed to my child. These thoughts are just for me because I know nasty language is not the way to win a battle of wit.

Well Adjusted?

Well Adjusted?

In all actuality, my daughter “Won” this battle by merely looking at this child, smiling and walking away to play with other friends. She rendered me useless. She needed no words of wisdom from me, and believe me, I had them…nice ones too I promise. That act in itself reinforced that what my husband and I are teaching her is far greater than any snappy comebacks or as I have frequently used in my less enlightened days…verbal kill shots.

I have been known to mentally dismantle people, never for fun, but because I felt that anyone who wanted to start something better knew that they weren’t going to finish it, I was. When I did every ounce of dynamite I had in my being would be put towards demolishing this person. While I succeeded, despite the fact that they started it and I should feel vindicated, I never did. I felt like they still won because I let them get the best of me. I wasn’t secure enough to just laugh it off and let it go, because in true reality who were they and what did they matter anyways?

There are always going to be “mean girls.” For the sheer fact that all of those vices I listed before are ingrained in us and amplified by bad examples set by parents. Parents teach their kids to bully either directly or indirectly. That is not going to be my example.

I believe my husband and my examples truly align between what we tell our daughter and how our actions towards her, each other and outsiders are. Otherwise, we would have a rude, materialistic, entitled little brat on our hands. She is nothing of the sort. She is everything you would want a little girl to be and more. Not a mean girl, not a victim…just a sweet, happy, adjusted, smart little girl, and I am pretty proud of that.


Stop the FB Hater-spree & Learn to Live Better Yourself

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State of the Real Estate Market (Far East San Francisco Bay Area, CA)

Bay 2 Pacific Living (Sold Listing)

Bay 2 Pacific Living (Sold Listing)

Sure Real Estate is about relationships. It is actually about a lot of things, but one principle that I have built my business on, and believe is highly important is knowledge.

While I have always held the belief that real estate is a “local” business, our “local business” can be altered and affected by national as well as international affairs. Which is why I believe that general knowledge of world/national affairs is critical, as is being able to break that down to a micro-level (our local business) is beneficial to the success of anyone looking to partake in the real estate market. It is my job to best advise my clients to the best of my knowledge, right?

Last week at The Asian Real Estate Association of America’s (AREAA) United States/China Summit I had the opportunity to immerse myself in information about both U.S. and Chinese economics, policies, urban development, technology and international capital investment and the value was impactful.

Particularly, since it seems as though the consensus from a lot of my local colleagues is that this market has just turned, “Weird.”

The number of buyers out there have diminished, and deals are much harder to put together as challenges with lending guidelines and true buyer eligibility thwart potential sales. Supply seems low, despite the lack of credit worthy buyers in the marketplace. So what gives? Historically this is the “busy” time of year in the Real Estate nationally and locally.

According to Ben Graboske, Vice President of Corelogic (who specializes in financial, property and consumer information, analytics and business intelligence)(wiki) there are several contributing factors.

1.) Declining Distressed Sales: With the foreclosure tsunami wave finally losing momentum there are less distressed assets entering the market place from REO’s and Short Sales. Being that the far East Bay Area was hit rather hard with distressed sales it rationalizes an average decline in the number of total property sales between Pittsburg (-18%), Antioch (-17%), Oakley (-11%), Brentwood, (-11%), Discovery Bay (-15%) for an average between all 5 cities of (-15%) from June 2013 until present. Diminished distress sales gives way to #2.

2.) Declining presence of Institutional Investors & Cash Buyers: Corelogic reported that California in recent years has a cash sales share of about 32% annually. As an agent who has held over an average of 14% of the market share for the last three consecutive years and holding an average of over 20% of the listing inventory I can personally vouch that these numbers have been dead on as it pertains to my specific market and business in the far East Bay Area of San Francisco. As of late, specifically within the last year this percentage has diminished exponentially. Only solidifying the reasoning behind some of the buyer fall out, what gives for the rest of the buyer fall out?

3.) Tight Credit & Buyer Eligibility: Anyone who has bought a home in recent years can testify. Along with a stellar credit score and at minimum 3.5% down payment, lenders seemingly want a quart of blood and option to the rights to your first born child before you can qualify for a loan. Ok, so maybe the last two are somewhat of an exaggeration…somewhat.

In general you have to have at least a 640 credit score. Many buyers looking to enter the marketplace are dealing with the lingering effects of foreclosure or short sale, thus seemingly inhibiting their potential to buy. Our area in particular was hit hard with the foreclosure wave, so this makes complete sense. Then comes the issue of down payment.

4.) Lower/Recovering Income(s): Corelogic asserts that incomes, in general, are at 1996 levels making it harder for your average person to keep up with rising costs of inflation as well as harder to qualify for a mortgage on your income. The cost to live in California is astronomical, much less the Bay Area.

Out here in the far east bay reside folks who have been priced out of home ownership and even the rental markets the closer you get to San Francisco. Which means, we tend to be a commuter community. Areas such as Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood & Discovery Bay are not as commercially developed than more metro areas in the East Bay such as Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, Dublin, Oakland and does not necessarily provide the same sort of incomes as businesses closer to and in San Francisco. Therefore, there are one of two solutions, commute or make less money. Obviously income aids in the ability to qualify for a loan, but it also aids in saving up and affording your down payment.

5.) Lack of Funds for Down Payment: Here we already spoke about the far east Bay Area getting hit pretty hard with the foreclosure tsunami so it is safe to assert that a lot of buyers looking to enter the market again have already faced financial devastation and are working on recouping their funds to purchase another home. Even if they get their credit cleaned up, here lies struggle number two.

6.) Lack of Substantial Equity for Move-Up Buyers: While there may be quite a few folks who have lived in their homes for a while and were not directly impacted by the foreclosure wave, here still lies an issue. While they may not have lost their homes, they did potentially lose equity as this distressed market hit bottom.

We have seen substantial market growth in recent years. An average of 27% increase in the median sales price for Pittsburg (43%), Antioch (30%), Oakley (28%), Brentwood (20%), Discovery Bay (21%) year-over-year from just June 2013 and June 2014. Still, some move-up buyers find it difficult to sell their home and net 20% or more for the down payment on their next purchase. This also hurts the market in that these folks are not able to generate additional momentum in the marketplace by listing their home and adding to the overall number of available inventory.

7.) Highly Comfortable Rock Bottom Home Owners: Those who have purchased a home in the Far East Bay Area in the past few years really may have no incentive to enter the market right now. If you bought your house at the bottom of the market and couple that with historically low interest rates locked in for 30 years and who would really consider selling right now?

Interest rates are still rather low but prices have been driven up again year over year. Unless homeowners who have purchased recently are selling due to relocation or the need for more space, I think it is a safe bet that a lot of recent home owners are going to stay put for a bit.

There you have it. National economics and policies broken down to the micro level, as it pertains to our eminent market. What does this all mean? Well, that is another blog post “coming soon,” but in short it means that our market has already started to shift. Shift towards a “normal market” you may ask? But who really can define what a “normal” is anymore. Only time will tell. One thing is certain, if you are looking to buy or sell real estate make sure you hire someone who not only knows but understands these trends and what they mean to you as a buyer or seller.

Discovery Bay Delta

Discovery Bay Delta

(If you are interested in more information or need Real Estate help please fill out the contact form below)

*East Bay Median Sales Price & Unit(s) Sold Statistics Gathered from EBRD, MLS.

**Photography by Technica Designs: http://www.technicadesigns.com


I Love New York, Part I

Bryant Park Subway

Bryant Park Subway

 

I now know why people why so many people are in Love with New York. This wondrous city has stolen my heart. My husband and I had the pleasure of visiting New York for Global & Luxury Real Estate Summit, as Real Estate is our primary business. We literally tried to wrap as much sightseeing in as possible as we literally had only 3 days, most of which were filled with business affairs. We fully accepted the challenge to take in as much of the “City that never sleeps” on that same exact accord. We figured we could sleep on the plane ride home and man did we fit in a lot!

Day 1: We arrived at The Waldorf Astoria, the location of our summit and our mainstay at 6:00 pm. By 7:00 pm we were headed out on the streets looking for some grub. We started at what we consider one of our favorite chains: Tommy Bahama, Manhattan Island.

Tommy Bahama: Manhattan Island

Tommy Bahama: Manhattan Island

Like usual we had an amazing time. You can never go wrong with T. Bahama food. (Yelp review to follow shortly but I can attest that everything was 5 star in our book). Shortly after we had our dinner & drinks we headed out in search of the Empire State Building. All of which was on foot. However, we got distracted by the vibrant lights of Times Square.

Times Square

Times Square

Paramount Hotel, Times Square

Paramount Hotel, Times Square

We poked around a bit, somehow managing to kill a few hours, then decided to make it over to the Empire State Building by way of Bryant Park, around 12 am.

Empire State as seen from Bryant Park

Empire State as seen from Bryant Park

We made our way to the boys in the bright orange vests selling tickets to the Empire State Building. I HIGHLY impress on you that you should NOT buy the tickets for . Just get tickets for the viewing platform. We make the mistakes so you don’t have to. But honestly, this simulator supposed to show you around NYC via arial view was so bleeding boring, never mind that it was nearing 1 am EST and the only thing that kept me awake during the experience was the pains in my neck each time this simulator ride would jolt you around. MAJOR SKIP! Believe me, you and your neck will thank me.

Finally…getting to the part that we wanted to see…The city view! Wow…such a beautiful sight at night. Next time we go to NYC I want to go during the daytime to get a different experience, but night time up at the Empire State Building was breathtaking, the chill in the air up there at 1 am will take your breath away alone but add the views and I would say it is well worth the trip!

Times Square seen from top of The Empire State Building

Times Square seen from top of The Empire State Building

Inside the Empire State Building

Inside the Empire State Building

So here end’s night #1 in NYC. Out until 2 am, just to get back up early in the morning to make it to breakfast/brunch at Union Square Café. So I am a HUGE fan of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa and her recipes. I heard that is a favorite of hers, as well as the favorite spot of a great friend of mine who is also an amazing chef, so we just had to check it out.

The atmosphere was so warm and inviting. We were seated up a very steep & narrow set of stairs and had a birds eye view of the restaurant and bar. Pretty darn cool if you ask me.

We started our brunch with Iced Matcha and I am a sucker for Almond so I had an Almond Pastry while my husband enjoyed a Cinnamon Roll. Both were awesome, but I enjoyed by Almond Pastry more than any other Almond Pastry I have ever had.

Union Square Cinnamon Roll & Almond Pastry

Union Square Cinnamon Roll & Almond Pastry

Once we finished our pastries we absolutely had to try the Lobster Omelet. It was a tough choice between this and their Yellow Fin Tuna Burger for me, glad I chose this Omelet. Yellow Fin Tuna…I am coming for you next time. Union Square Café was an absolutely amazing experience! A definite must try!

Upon finishing our Real Estate Summit affairs, later that day we returned to our sightseeing quest by seeking out the number one attraction I felt that I need to see while in New York, The World Trade Center Memorial.

Due to the powerful experience that I had at the WTC Memorial, The World Trade Center Memorial Experience will be exhibited in I Love New York, Part 2. (Coming Soon)


It’s all relative. True Family Encompasses a Small Few.

Family Defined

Family Defined

It has happened at some point in life or another, to each and every one of us. There comes a time when you question whether one of your blood relatives could possibly be related to you, as you are such worlds apart. In my case I wonder if I was just plain adopted in that the “relatives” that I can relate to on a deeply personal level are far and few between. It is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just that your behavior, morals, ethics, values and interests just do not align.

This could lead into a much bigger issue if they vary so widely that one side begins to resent the other for their differences. You can co-exist together in harmony, but it does not necessarily mean what you think. The best way I have found to “co-exist” with relatives who you aren’t deeply connected with for a multitude of reasons is to learn to accept them for who they are, give up the idea of what you’d like them to be that you have concocted in your head and just love them. Sometimes loving them, literally means doing it from afar and refraining from consistent contact with them and in extreme cases, ceasing contact completely. Not because you dislike them, but because that relationship does more harm to you and your soul than it does good.

Other relationships could prosper further with a basic conversation of expectations. Personally, I barely feel like I exist to about 95% of my relatives, unless they want something, then it’s all about family and togetherness and all that other candy coated bullshit. I used to get upset about this aspect and even distanced myself from a large portion of my family for a long time because of these feelings. Honestly, the situation could have been helped with a conversation about expectations. For instance, I could say that IF these relatives wanted love and support from me, I would expect reciprocation in the same degree of their expectations.

Honestly they would have looked at me like I was crazy, or at least that is the assumption. The other side that I have always thought was, “If I do for them, they should just know that that love, support should be reciprocated in any way that they can afford.” I am not speaking in terms of monetary support either. I am driven in relationships more by overall mindfulness and appreciation and actually showing that appreciation through being mindful of the person who goes out of their way for you. Unfortunately most do not coincide with my thought process and I found myself beating my head against a brick wall.

So while the feeling is foreign to me, I have learned that to save myself grief, is to have this talk of expectations and when they are not met or mocked even, to say Cest La Vie and cut that cord. Life is too short, and I have way too many positive, life affirming connections to be emotionally led by a non-producing negative connection.

I continue making reference to “relatives” versus “family” as I believe that there is a distinction between the two. True “Family” knows no bloodline. It is the intertwinement of lives who make the conscious decision to love and support one another regardless of the obstacle. “Relatives” for me relate to folks who share predominantly the same bloodline as you, but are not necessarily consciously deciding to provide love and support. Another derivative that I use of this term is “Fair-weather Family.” Broken down in the simplest context, there when they need something, otherwise do not acknowledge your existence. To these folks I say, “your loss,” as I don’t chase relationships or connections because of a blood relation. I would appreciate having those relationships but I refuse to go the extra step for someone who would not do the same for me.

I literally have 2 individuals of blood relation, 2 of marriage relation that I consider “family,” through and through. The rest of my “family” consists of people who I know, without a doubt would be in my corner regardless of the situation. You may say, your standards must be too high. I say, “there is no such thing when it comes to matters of the heart and soul.” I don’t have a problem showing people who I am on any given day and time. It helps cut straight through the bullshit because those who can’t take it fade into the background. If someone has a problem with it, well I maintain that it is merely “their problem” to handle, as most of these folks who feel this way are consciously blind to their own projections and essentially weaknesses and will not devote the time to figure out a way to make the relationship work amicably for both sides. All they know is that it is not 100% about them and they are quick to throw up the deuces. Some things in this world are worth fighting for and some things are not. For me, this is one that is not. In the words of the late Maya Angelou- “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”


The “Perfect” Mom

Image

Ever wonder why there are so many unhappy women in this world? Women, as a whole, tend to be a very discontented group. Why? My thoughts are that more women than not care WAY too much what others may be thinking. I did say “may” mind you, as most women tend to think that everyone is judging them on multiple levels such as appearance (which can be broken down on a micro scale: weight, teeth, complexion, skin tone, hair, attire…you name it), level of education, career path, personal history, what they drive and how much money they make and last, but never least…motherhood.

There is definitely no such thing as a “perfect” mother. It has always been my belief that motherhood is something not to be taken lightly. Being responsible for the molding and well-being of another human being is something that I have always taken seriously. This world is crazy enough, when I became a mother it was my intention to arm my child with as much love and guidance as humanly possible so that when time came, she would be able to stand on her own two feet, as her OWN person.

Being your own person is no easy feat. Probably why so many women are so very discontented. A lot of women do not know who they are, what makes them truly happy or content. Furthermore, even those who do, will bury who they are and what makes them happy because it does not seem to coincide with the thoughts and uniformity of whichever clique/mom’s group they hang out with.

I, personally have always been very personable with others and have a lot of acquaintences, friends but VERY few that I consider close. Why? Well, I have NEVER been one to follow someone else. While I may respect others for their opinions that does not mean that I should, nor would, agree with them “just because.” At the same time, there have been those that I have known who I did not agree with but we could find a peaceful co-existence and mutual respect for each other’s varying views, but this phenomena is rare. Other people, who I tend to believe to be ignorant to reality I may just listen to their points but find no reasonable way to respond so silence is employed because it is much easier to listen to an irrational person without accepting their opinion as fact and just move on. Then there are those who agree with you to your face and secretly hate everything that you stand for, for the sheer reason that they themselves have an inner issue with judgment.

It is my own personal feeling that women who walk around feeling persecuted all the time, quite commonly use the phrase, “I feel/felt/am feeling like you are judging me,” are battling with someone that only they themselves can address…Themselves. I personally find it a major sign of emotional weakness when a person tells someone else, “I feel like you are judging me.” What they are really saying is that they are not mature enough to deal with their own issues of inadequacy and take ownership for them, so these folks are pushing the power of feeling on someone else who may hold a differing opinion. You, and you alone are responsible for how you “feel.” You either choose to give someone the power to “make you feel a certain way” or the mature thing to do would be to think, “Well, that is their opinion, mine is different and that’s just that.” That is how I usually handle differing opinions.

Now, if someone feels the need to comment on a subject and specifically name me, well then I address those issues with fact, not emotion, and let the “facts” talk for themselves. No need to get nasty back, most likely the person who brought up the issue has some deeply seeded personal issues that are none of my business.

At the end of the day, women tend to be their own worst enemies. I have been around my fair share who feel the need to discuss other women to make themselves feel good, I have even taken my own feeling of inadequacy out in the same manner at times. It takes true strength and emotional maturity to really evaluate yourself and instead of judge yourself for your inadequacies find a constructive way to feel good about them. This can go for any aspect of your life that you feel that is “inadequate,” including being a “Mother.”

No mother is perfect, least of all me. I do employ standards for my child that others may view as “old school” or “conservative.” But who has to say that those ideals are bad? I teach my daughter manners and etiquette. I teach her that she needs to take care of her body and her appearance, not for the attention of others but that it is a natural mood booster when you look your best. (Another topic to be explored on this blog later, in detail.)

People have voiced to me that my “mothering tactics” make them feel like I am judging them for how they behave as a parent. Well, I am sorry, but I am not sorry for how they feel. If you feel judged then perhaps it is best to look in the mirror and find out why you feel that way? I am merely doing the best that I can, for my child, how I choose to do it, should not affect anyone else and their opinions frankly mean squat to someone like me. The only measurement on how you are doing as a mother, should be in how happy you and your child(ren) are on a daily basis and overall. We all know that some days are better than others, we all have good days and bad days but even at the end of the bad ones all that should matter is how YOU feel about how YOU handle it all.

 

 


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