There, I said it.
Having been raised in California during the creation of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society by a mother who boycotted grapes, burned her bra and canvassed for McGovern might have something to do with it, though I’ve had plenty of years to examine my beliefs and to own them. Being a Democrat doesn’t mean I want to tax the wealthy at 50%, decimate the military, or take away your gun and sell it to an illegal alien who’ll pay for it with his welfare check , shoot you in the foot to rob you of your tax money while I’m eating bonbons at my best friend’s gay wedding. But I don’t believe compassion is a character flaw.
I love politics. As a real estate agent I’ve heard to keep them off your Facebook page— ya know, just so you don’t “alienate business”. Okay, I get that, I just don’t ascribe to it. When you run your business on the like-finds-like model of tribal attraction and relationship building, dialogue is critical. Criticism and cynicism are not. Though some of you are sure to disagree… I like to engage rather than provoke, try to keep the mix thoughtful, informative, humorous without the memes and not too snarky. I am not always successful, though admittedly biased. I welcome differences of opinion so long as they’re not rude or cruel, because I feel we need to practice civility by bringing our ideas forward and being held accountable for them. Disagreement is good if there is a willingness to listen and if not, you can usher personal attacks on friends to the door or sponge the haters off of the thread. As a businesswoman in a field populated by Republicans, I find my less vociferous left-leaning friends whisper to me at the water cooler, “I love reading your posts. I wish I could do that but, you know…” and I do… kind of. Perhaps I should keep that “separation of church and state” idea in mind when it comes to social media but I prefer that First Amendment thingy. Don’t you think honesty is a valuable trait in a real estate consultant? Wouldn’t you rather have someone who is relentlessly honest with you, even if it means telling you the house you love is over-priced and sitting on a toxic waste site? Negotiation is not for sissies and you can tell a lot by how one handles their Facebook wall. Having the courage to own what I believe in comes from the same part of me that will always take a stand on behalf of my clients and makes me good at what I do.
33.3% of all Americans identify themselves as Democrats, though it doesn’t follow that the term “Liberal” should be liberally applied to all of us any more than “Right-wing” fits every one of my GOP affiliated friends. I believe in fiscal and personal responsibility, in global warming, social safety nets, civil liberties, equal pay, and government regulation (because if the housing crisis taught us anything, it’s that human nature doesn’t always lean to its better side). I don’t believe that being there for one another is a character flaw.
The best hope for this country to right itself again is by admitting that neither side has all the answers. That just because I see the world differently, doesn’t make you wrong and visa versa. As long as we defending our absolutes, rather than championing our possibilities we will never be able to find solutions to the problems that keep us from being a truly Great Society. We must stop yelling at one another; regurgitating talk radio, cable news and partisan websites as if the ideas we’ve co-opted are our own because preaching platitudes is never the path to original thought. We must have the courage to look beyond the propaganda and seek to discover what we really think and why, and share it in an effort to understand rather than be right. Or as my proudly liberal mother used to say “A problem is never solved in a shouting match.”
In a matter of hours, hopefully not days, we will know the outcome of the 2012 election, and if the polls are correct they’ll be a dead heat of anguish and exhilaration. The spinners will spin and the snipers will snipe and both sides will keen it is the end of the world, and wouldn’t it be nice if it were? If we let go of the adversity and reclaimed the civility and manners that our parents taught us, perhaps we could teach Congress a thing or two. *snorts her coffee*
Becoming Van Gogh. As the Art Museum says it–
Organized by the DAM and curated by Timothy J. Standring, Gates Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the DAM and Louis van Tilborgh, Senior Researcher of Paintings at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, Becoming Van Gogh brings together loans from more than 60 public and private collections from across Europe and North America to tell the story of a number of key formative
periods throughout the artist’s career.
As I would phrase the experience–A wondrous journey through a genius mind.
As the viewer follows the development of an artist, she also shares the journey of a passionate craftsman. There are the familiar paintings, landing in the collective haystack of what we understand to be “Van Gogh”, and then there are those which transport us to the moment of their creation; some studious, some spontaneous, others give us Van Gogh’s point of view as he shifts his sense of place. Sketches of female nudes, and humble oils of vases full of flowers bring the cloudy Dutchman into the mastery of living color. Parisian open space from the hill of Montmartre and Le Moulin de la Galette, Potato Eaters and wheat fields, still lifes and self portraits fill frame after frame as we progress toward the Van Gogh of legend. It is midway and the Basket with Six Oranges that stopped me still as it radiates from the canvas and bounces off the wall. Might be the most amazing thing I’ve seen since… well, just since.
Van Gogh is a harsh beauty, rough and delicate at the same time, like life. The complexity of his evolution is captivating, there are multiple moments in this show that will bring you to tears if you let it, for it’s not a story of being, it is the story of becoming.
I don’t know how they keep doing it, but this is another DAM exclusive and your only chance to see this show. Timed tickets are essential, advance purchase is a must. I’ll revisit, even with the throngs it will be worth it. My fantasy version is a Night-at-the-Museum sleepover where I could wander through the wonder in my PJs, or lay in front of a painting and ponder. Something tells me that’s not gonna happen.
Becoming Van Gogh runs now through January 20, 2013 at the Denver Art Museum
What’s the alternative to a little time off? Usually it’s some other kind of time off, like a stress-related illness or maybe prison. Like most of the Middle Class, I don’t often give myself time off, and taking a vacation is the last thing on my mind. Taking my boys on a trip? Of course, but that’s not really a vacation. We spent 10 days in June whirling around New York and returned exhausted… I mean, uh, exhilarated. Outside of a daily workout, a monthly massage or a trip to the grocery store at midnight, quietude is not in my repertoire.
As a wearer of many hats, there is that perpetual something or someone needing my immediate attention, a feeling I’m sure you can relate to, and after a surprisingly good upturn in the Denver real estate market, mama’s ready for some serious downtime.
So how do you define what you need to rest and reinvigorate?
For me it starts with place, and the ocean is always a suitable salve to soothe my soul. Salt and sound bring me deep rest and my eye loves the infinite horizon. The drama of the Northern California coast works her moody, wondrous magic as a simple walk peels back layers of deadlines and expectation. Tonight I head to San Francisco to gather my best friend and a morning drive up Highway 1 to Point Reyes, maybe Bodega Bay. As the sun downs we’ll wind our way eastward, landing in Sonoma for dinner with the family and a laid back weekend.
It’s not the wine that calls, but the olives, the sourdough bread and the smells that are uniquely These are the ways I spell relief. Oh, and there is that little thing in town, the 115th Annual Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival…
Back to San Francisco for a few days in the City; museums, chocolate and cable cars. A bay cruise and a good meal are great, but what I’m craving is that intense time with friends, living life side by side in moments over decades. Then I’ll be ready to return to all those dragons that need slaying.
Sonoma State Beach photo courtesy of Trip Advisor. Semillon grapes, courtesy of Scott Palazzo and Palazzo Napa Valley Wines, and the best RHCP video ever made.
The Buyer/Seller Love Connection
I am (where real estate is involved) lucky in love. I’m not talking about the beach house I got in the last divorce *winks* but how often I find Cupid at the closing table. It takes work to find a house with everything on your buyers’ wish list, but it’s nothing short of kismet when the brother and sister selling their father’s home meet the mother and the two kids who’ll soon be hanging out in the tree house their father built. Every home has a tale to tell, and when that love story moves from one chapter to the next as gracefully as a Jane Hamilton novel, you know you’ve made a “love connection”.
Manufacturing love stories between buyers and sellers… that can be a tricky matter.
Perhaps it’s the rise of social media, where everything is suddenly shared, or the result of Denver’s revived real estate market where the multiple-offer situation has made a comeback, but the latest accessory to go with an offer is not an earnest money check, it’s… The Love Letter.
I had a few of these cross my desk when the market was struggling. Sellers, desperate to sell and worn down by the reality of their diminished property values, were thrilled to hear those four little words, “We have an offer”. Until the contract hit my inbox, followed by a “We really, really love you house, we just don’t want to pay much for it” letter, which usually left a sour taste in and brought a few choice words out of the sellers’ mouths. I’d say it was the real estate equivalent of Fifty Shades of Grey; lousy writing and you know someone’s about to get screwed.
Enter the hero. The market shifted, and so did the tone of this tome. With multiple offers a common occurrence, buyers (or their agents) believe if they add a bit of folksy insight into who they are— Their years in Seminary, how he fell in love with the garage, she with the garden and how the shed is perfect for their chickens— that flattery will give them an edge.
Now everybody’s got a gimmick, I get that. The homeless bear signs—“Homeless Vet” “Dog-lover”, “God Bless” (complete with Ichthus), or “Will Work for Beer” aiming at their niche market, their tribe. Buyers try and create some commonality with the stranger who currently occupies their dream home, or perhaps they’ve lost the past three offers and are looking for something other than raising their price to cinch the deal. Call me old fashioned, but isn’t that the Realtor’s job? I consider it my job— make that my sacred duty— to not only find my clients the right house, but to put together a fair and decent offer and present it to the seller’s agent, along with a persuasive argument on behalf of my buyer. That is the opening move in a strong negotiation. If I’m worth my salt, of course my clients will be over-the-moon with excitement at finding their dream home, but once we bring the personal into an already emotional business transaction, I fear the salt/wound proximity increases.
This idea of including a buyer’s note is circling around my office like a chain letter, and I don’t care if the world will end in ten days or killer bees will take over the Volvo, I’m here to break it. There are plenty of opportunities for good real estate agents to share your passion and exchange drawings of the chicken coop. To a seller the passion you feel is reflected, not through an effusive statement that your Goldens must have come from the same litter, but by strength of your offer.
It’s hard enough to build lasting relationships in real life, harder still to build a loyal clientele. Denver Fashion Diva, Denise Snyder, an expert at both–pushes the idea to the limit. Every well-dressed Denver woman knows Denise is the go-to gal for evening wear, and now the evening wear designer comes to her! Tomorrow, Ms. Snyder hosts a pre-event trunk show at her Cherry Creek boutique with the rare personal appearance of designer extraordinaire, Sue Wong. Making her Denver debut, Ms. Wong spends the afternoon at Mariel before jetting down the Valley Highway to the Flight to Luxury event and fashion show (hosted by Mariel) at Centennial Airport. Read more…
The current exhibition of works by prolific African artist El Anatsui at the Denver Art Museum is a visceral manifestation of the ancient storytellers. Using what the immediate has to offer, Anatsui’s wood work, metal sculptures, clay pieces and installations whisper deep into the soul. Shimmering tapestries of bottle caps hang and drape the Hamilton gallery space like stained glass windows for everyman. One of the artist’s quote stenciled on a wall “Rather than recounting history, my art is telling about what history has provoked” resonates within me as a playwright, while others make me want to scrawl them out large on my children’s walls… or perhaps my own.
Pull from your personal history for inspiration
Look for materials in the immediate environment
Travel, and bring your travel experience to bear in your work
Allow for the possibility of something unexpected and wonderful to happen
A professor for many years at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, Anatsui teaches a way of seeing the world—a process rather than a particular style. His advice to his art students reveals much about his own art and his connection to a timeless wisdom.
Read more of my journey through this grounding and uplifting exhibit.
If you’ve never had the joy of experiencing Ballet Nouveau Colorado’s Carry On with Paper Bird, you should consider giving yourself a gift. A dreamy collaboration of spirits which weaves the innovative choreography of BNC with an original score from indie folk fav, Paper Bird. Part love story, part natural phenomenon, it’s as magical as the Aurora Borealis on an open plain.
Read more on my Huffington Post blog as I kvell about the show and my conversation with Ballet Nouveau Artistic Director, Garret Ammons.
Carry On with Paper Bird, one night only. Friday night 9/7, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, presented by Arts & Venues Denver as part of the Western Arts Alliance Annual Conference. Tickets to one of my favorite things on the planet are available through TICKETMASTER.
We all know how babies are made, yet there is a different kind of co-mingling and sufficient collective labor that really useful things are born. Remember the commercial with the jingle “Look for the Union Label”? *cue sappy music* Feels like a such long time ago, when the American worker was protected by strong unions and lauded for a job well done. Everything has changed; manufacturing, the job market, the way we view organized labor and how we treat our workers. Our teachers and government employees have become the enemies as time sweeps them up in a political sentiment of smaller government. This is no longer the world of FDR, JFK and LBJ, whose visions of a Great Society have been ground to pieces in the profit mill.
The spirit of the American worker has been stripped down, diminished by outsourcing, plant closures and the low-lying message that we are replaceable in a world of Corporate profits, soaring CEO salaries and raided retirement funds. What has not changed is our ability to create and it is the creative spirit that wins every time. I remember the moment when I realized that outside of nature, everything I understood as the world around me was imagined, invented, engineered and build by someone. I was ten and awed by the notion. The dreamer, the doer, the builder, the sower, the seller, some toiling alone in the dark of night, others gathered in a field at the break of dawn– by the sweat of our brow and the wings of desire… Inventor, financier, laborer, public servant, hand-in-hand… We built that. *Music swells*
On this holiday weekend as you take respite, remember those who came before, who toil today and those who search for work in this difficult economy. Give thanks to the laborer who dug the ditch, laid the pipe, cut the trail, built the roads, the railroads, the bridges, stitched your clothing from the weaver’s fabric, assembled your car, your iPhone, your laptop. Take a moment to appreciate the teachers who taught you and the postman who carried the news of your college acceptance. Hug a tree in gratitude for the deck where you’re slaving over the BBQ grill, for those who brewed your beer and stuffed your sausage— all of these people have lead you to where you are in this moment and where you’ll be in the future. Stuck in traffic on the Eisenhower Tunnel. Happy Labor Day everyone!
Let’s face it, no matter how much Oprah says it, shopping for the right bra is enough to send a girl scrambling to refill her Prozac. Unless you’ve got SOL…
Blow a kiss goodbye to standing half naked in a cold dressing while a salesgirl, cheerfully ignorant of the effects of gravity, sweeps in with a tape measure, an attitude and an armload of magic-memory-foam-underwire-gel-ultra-turbo-maxi-uplift contraptions designed for her sorority sisters. It’s all good when you’ve got youth or silicone on your side, but what looks great on an “Angel” looks like hell on a grown-ass woman.
Escape from the mall and wander over to Cherry Creek North to SOL…store of lingerie. It’s a little slice of heaven where a woman can hold her head and her bust line high. Rather than padding your ego, SOL sisters Cindy Johnson and Jeanie Peterson with their expertise and superb service, have grown their boutique into one of the country’s leading specialty lingerie stores and before you hit the dressing room you’ll know why. I took the girls in for a peek and found my new addiction.
The shop is simple and elegant, a beautiful frame for the exquisite designs. Part art, part architecture, the European intimate apparel carried by SOL goes way beyond what you’ll find at the mall. As we strolled the display boards chatting about style– body, bra and life— co-owner/psychic/bra-fitter extraordinaire, Cindy led me to a private room, asked me what shapes I liked, concerns I had and left me with “I have a few things you’ll like”. No measuring tape, no calculation of rib-to-nipple ratios, no humiliation… just a simple ‘be right back’. Her re-entry with a hand-picked array of lovelies and her adept handling of the proper fit, had me feeling like everything was in place and all was right with the world.
“How do you choose the lines you carry?” I asked, as I tried on one titillating bra after another. “Well, we used to go to the fashion shows and make lots of appointments with the designers, looking for, let’s say, that perfect red bra. It was crazy. Eventually we learned which lines were consistent with the quality, style and structure that fit our vision, then narrowed it down to those who were also able to deliver on time, as ordered. We’ve taken years to cultivate relationships with the lingerie design houses and have been asked many times to step in as consultants.”
What you pay for at SOL is more than snobbery of a luxury line of European lingerie, it is expertise. This expertise and consultancy has earned Johnson numerous visits to The Today Show, where she shows America what’s important in fit as she shows off what’s in fashion.
The experience is the very definition of personal… and in a good way. Because they put their heart where their SOL is, they create deep, meaningful and lasting relationships not only with designers but with a loyal clientele.
Celebrating 15 years, SOL is in full-birthday-celebration swing. Wednesday night saw a 1920’s themed bash, complete with a Nash. September 6th, stop by the store for a pre-party as Cherry Creek North hosts Fashion’s Night Out, or break out the purple push-up and come along to “Take Me Out to the Rockies” on September 26. October is national bra month and you know Team SOL will be decked out in style on October 7th at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure .
SOL…store of lingerie 248 Detroit St. 303.394.1060
I’m moving! Well actually, I am planning to move. Next year. That’s how long it will take me to prepare my current home as a rental, give the tenants in the other house notice, and most importantly, let my son finish eighth grade at his current school. The idea came to me this summer when my old friend/former neighbor/current client called to discuss her options regarding the inspection objection on her new home. “We’re sitting in the backyard having wine. I wish you were in the hood, you could come over.” And that’s when it hit me; I’m too far away from my friends! I’ve been rumbling a plan around in my head since then, but I knew it was in the cards when my thirteen year old jumped in the car one day and stated, “Mom, I don’t think these suburban kids are my people.” Oh, I feel ya, babe.
Moving to Denver from Los Angeles, we settled in to Congress Park for the first ten years. The boys went to Denver Public schools and loved them. I loved the sense of community I felt; summers under the elm trees at the Congress Park pool, cool autumn evenings on the soccer fields, and all the school activities with the kids and parents I was growing up with. I felt safe, and I felt loved. People got my sense of humor, we shared our sorrows, our secrets and our extra tomatoes when the gardens were good. As our family’s needs and the market changed, we crept slowly southward. I kept the boys in Denver Public Schools as long as I could but the daily commute in the winter was fraying my sanity and my tread. I began to notice my urge for the urban as I kept putting buyers into my favorite neighborhoods; Park Hill, Congress Park, Washington and Platt Parks, Mayfair, (I could go on) but never realized it was all part of my secret plan. Now that Gabe has decided he wants to forgo the big suburban high school experience to attend East with his best friend and the other members of his “tribe”, I’m out of the walk-in closet and all in!
I grew up in the suburbs, have nothing against them in general or my neighborhood in particular. Actually I like it here in this funky little sweet spot called Dream House Acres. Free from the covenants and cul de sacs that make me claustrophobic, I love the wide, hilly streets, the mid-century modern houses and the mountain views from my back patio. I don’t even mind the 20 minute commute when I choose to make it; I’m just a city girl. I need the proximity to the arts and cultural centers, the theaters, restaurants and farmers markets that pop up spring through fall. Most of all, I need to be around a wide variety of people and the sense of community that Denver offers.
Why do I bring this up, you ask? As a real estate agent, I spend my days and into the nights helping movers and shakers change up their lives. While I’m focused on the business of buying and selling homes that make these moves worthwhile, my clients are focused on the mental, emotional, physical and financial planning that leads up to a big change in your habitat. Following a page out of my own playbook, I’ve pulled out the Task Timeline Template which I lovingly bestow upon my clients.
I have completed phase one; Making The Decision. Phase two, Preparing the House, will take much longer; pulling up carpet, throwin’ down a little love on the hardwood floors, the painting, slight upgrades to the kitchen and baths…slight? Who am I kidding? And along the way,I will partake in my favorite slice of Virgo heaven— PURGING! When you think about it, there is no way to move without making a decision about every single thing you own. What stays, what goes, how many sets of socket wrenches do I really need, will I really wear this? Thank god I have a year.
Taking the time to wrap up the dishes and the memories this house holds, I will be mindful to keep the valuables and leave the rest behind. A fresh coat of paint, like a white sheet of paper, lets the new occupants write their own stories on these walls (not in the literal sense, I hope), as I move forward to the next chapter of life. Painting the new place.
If you’re ruminating on such things~ buying or selling, up or downsizing, Spanish Olive vs. Navajo White~ give me a call. We can share tips as we scrub grout and fantasize about the new digs. After all…I’m improving my skills just for you.