I wouldn’t say I’ve lived a Big Life, but decidedly larger than medium. Call it medium well.

I spent my childhood on beaches, in swimming pools, and racing around the back lot of MGM Studios. Flying on my purple Stingray through the streets of long-abandoned sets, in-between sound stages, chasing seagulls and stars. There were few signs of the straight line, the bumpy road and circuitous route that would lead me to a bike path in the Colorado Rockies.

Along that road I worked as an actress in New York, Hollywood and theatres around the country. I traveled the world and met legends: movie stars, rock stars, art stars, captains of industry and heirs to a throne. My familiars included Tony winners, Grammy winners, Oscar and Emmy winners, Pulitzer Prize candidates, Smithsonian inductees, who taught me, shaped and mentored me. There was the invitation to lunch at the White House, an accidental dinner with Warhol: my life, medium well. Meeting billboard-size people seems to be in my cards.

When we moved to Denver Fall was in the air. As the movers were unloading the truck, we plugged in the TV at the exact moment the verdict was being read in a murder trial involving of our former neighbor, Nicole Brown Simpson. I was glad I’d left LA. Unpacking myself and my young family, I settled into a town full of strangers, snow, and a “Plan B” I was none too thrilled with: a toddler, a television and Oprah were my only friends that winter… until she turned on me. We were sitting in my living room. I was on my couch bandaging my foot from yet another casualty caused by an unseen Lego. She was she in Chicago on her couch. The cast of an upcoming movie sauntered out on to the stage, gracefully plopping themselves down on in the hot seat. Staring blankly at the screen, wrapping gauze around and around and around my tiny wound, I realized I’d worked with the people behind the smiles, the bitches who had stolen my life. In a flash, it hit me.

I’d gone from Hollywood and Vine to dying on a vine, from playing on the streets of Oz to a cow town close to Kansas. Like Dorothy, if I told anybody where I’d been and who was there with me, they’d cluck in disbelief. Cary Grant and Ava Gardner, Billy Barty, and a Beatle.
How’s a girl gonna keep that inside forever?

That cold winter’s truth delivered the promised bulbs, as I began to trade the holler and congestion of L.A. for an open space where I could hear my thoughts. Manhat-tenacity morphed into a soft determination and my gloom gave way to creativity I’d never known before. Preferring not to spin my wheels I took a spin around this hood and what I found delighted me: smiling people, art galleries springing up, theatres, museums, one of them growing a brand new wing. All those things one takes for granted in a larger city were springing to life here in living color, and everything was a whole lot more accessible. Just like that I fell in love with my new home and got busy intersecting the roles of mother/actress/playwright/REALTOR® to create a vortex called the Thriving Artist Alliance.
Oh… and I am still meeting some amazing people.

After a prolonged ‘heartbreak hiatus’ from theatre, I really felt no need to step back onto the stage. The slow slide of a dramatic divorce, sudden shock of single motherhood, and a stairway fall that took my brother’s life were enough to send me to my room and though life was good, I was not ready to come that far out. Long before the sideways years I’d fallen out of love… or so I thought. Twenty- five years of acting had left its mark. I was tired of having to be given ‘permission’ by the casting process in order to create. I loved the times when I was ‘first’ but exhausted by the times being ‘second’. “Lift yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again” sounded like heavy lifting where acting was concerned so I chose to let this deeply defining part of me go.
And I’d been writing plays: loving the lines that I wrote, accepting of the ones on my face. There is great freedom as writing comes in its own time, in yoga clothes and goes public when I’m damn good and ready. My plays got produced, my sons got to soccer and life was good. Even in its painful chaos, the writing (and the boys) made it good.
When “The Graduate” came along I had a twinge and I ignored it. Having started a business and ended an affair I was pretty sure I was not game for risk.
But I have this friend… And this friend bought me wine. And after a glass or two and veiled threats of retracting the friendship I was told of time and place of the auditions. Drunk on candlelight and viognoire I proposed the idea that “Maybe I’m not good at love or acting.” My friend, who sees me better than I see my naked self, kicked my ass in the audition door.
I’m not sure what I expected form Mrs. Robinson, but I did know this: I would strive to play her complexity simply. I would reconnect with the broader theatre community. One way or another, I would have to be naked.
What I didn’t know was how embraced I would feel, how at home. People showed up, not in audience numbers, but in the waves of friends and friends of friends who came: Realtor friends and soccer moms and high school friends and newer friends and theatre people, some I known and some I’d always heard of, bearing messages of good will pre and post show. Family and friends flew into town and out again, crossing mid-air paths with another jet, another friend flying in. My life in circles came together, welcoming me back from my seclusion and I was joyfully overwhelmed.
Actors working show to show may take all this for granted. There are always shows that are more fun than others, casts we hate to say good bye to, and shows which can’t close soon enough. There is bitching and laughing and sometimes it’s just a job. I’ve been there. But what I learned in my post-Graduate studies is a great deal of gratitude. When you’re willing to put yourself out there, to take the naked risk, the rewards far exceed the expectations.
“Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson.”

The wife if a produced playwright, the husband, a filmmaker. They purchased this condo years ago and have built equity. With the arrival of their first son, they’ve put their beautiful condominium up for sale in order to take advantage of the current market and “move up” to a single family home. Located in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where you’ll find Old World charm and great proximity to the thriving downtown Denver art/cultural/theatre scene.

Creative people are the driving force behind the economy. Learn more about how you can turn your creative talents into a profitable lifestyle. Call me.

Going from “For Sale” to “SOLD” is at BEST a difficult experience made worse if you feel emotionally connected to that property, and let’s face it, most of us do.
In the midst of all of that, Tracy Shaffer brings a confident, professional and calm approach to your real estate transaction. She is well informed about the current market, realistic, and a good listener when it comes to the seller’s needs. Best of all, Tracy Shaffer knows how to market the property “FOR SALE” and get that message out to a huge buyer pool. (Even in this market, we had multiple offers!) So be smart. I think Tracy Shaffer is a GREAT choice for a Realtor to sell your property and given the opportunity, she can take you from “For Sale” to “SOLD”.

West Washington Park
Denver, CO

Thanks Thomas!

I am a writer. I’ve been told for years that I should write and I have. Now as a Realtor, I’m told I should blog. Okay, so I’ll blog, but I don’t want to blog about real estate. Well, that’s not completely true, I don’t want to blog only about real estate, I want to blog about life. Life is more interesting than interest rates and market trends; real estate shares a lot with life.
We’re put here on this earth and we make of it what we will, learning to love and be loved, to take care of ourselves and of others, to share our experiences. Creativity, life’s work, spiritual beliefs, all of these is the soul’s expression of the human experience. So is a house.
The value of a home is not measured by your neighbor’s foreclosure or the appreciation gained by the new Whole Foods down the block. When you buy a home, you’re claiming your place on the planet. It is your shelter, but it’s also where it’s safe to be yourself. It’s where you put your stuff. You’ll cook your meals here, share them with friends. Or you’ll eat in solitude, a whole pint of Hagen Daz, knowing your very own private slice of earth. Your home holds your dreams and it holds your tears.
I wonder about those who live in boxes and under bridges, where do they put their dreams? Perhaps they’re left with just a box of sorrows.
The time to sell is not dictated by the media, it’s driven by needs, by desires that push you further down the river. When the day comes, something’s happened: you’ve outgrown what the bricks can hold.

Sellers transfer the deed, hoping the buyer will take care of their place on earth. Sometimes when we move to “something better”, we take the time to see how good where we are has been.

I have a friend who sees his home as a liability rather than an asset; thinks his money would be better spent on stocks. I think it’s because there is no dream within those walls and he knows it. Like a nomad, whose happiness is always on the horizon, a box without a dream is just a box.

This is from my play “Saints & Hysterics” and posted for my mother, Leni, who died 17 years ago today.


It was the night of the summer solstice, a total eclipse of the full moon the night my mother died. As they wheeled her calmly to intensive care, she was scribbling notes on a yellow pad, things to be said that the ventilator would not allow.

“I found a picture for you Mama in an antique store.” I said, trying to cheer her in her naked state. “It’s a picture of Jesus and Mary.”
Grabbing her pad she writes, “Is it autographed?”

“No, but it will be.” I think to myself and I know reads my thought.
That was the last I heard from her, her final missive.

A shadow creeps over the moon as her trinity gathers around her.
We are laughing and telling funny stories while she floats in her semi-coma, saying good by to a world she’d grown so fond of. My brother asks if she can hear us and she squeezes his hand. Three times this query; three times this response.
Then her systems start to shut down, one by one. She doesn’t smell of lilies but of honeysuckle, the sweet and sickly fragrance of summer nights and death.

One celestial body now completely obscures the other.

I walk out into the darkness to gaze at the mystical moon and smoke.
I light chains of cigarettes and Hail Mary’s, watch my prayers and smoke rise up, as soon my mother will. Tears fall like heavy water from my eyes, I understand her TV tears from many years ago and what she meant about her moment for this was mine. I wait for the slow-motion sword of sorrow to pierce my heart and make it bleed. I think of Mary, the Mother of God, and ask for a moment of her time to thank her for the life of my mother, Mother of my life. I pray that she will guide her journey home and ask for her grace to guide me. I give her back.

A sliver of light creeps out from the moon.
Crushing out the embers of my final cigarette— it is time.

The staff is hesitant to let us all in, “Only two at a time, those are the rules.”
But we are the children of Leni and there are no rules. Three souls came through her into this life, three will see her safely out.
Soft sound of heart monitor.
My brother takes her right hand; my sister takes the left.
I cradle the halo of her head and I whisper in her ear—
Deep into her soul as she has done so many times to mine.
Our Lady speaks along with her, quietly audible.
“It’s okay, Pinky, all will be well.
Flatline. Silence. Beat. Lights shift.

I see my mother’s hands in the veins of my own; hear her blood, coursing through them.
I know she is my backbone with her ever-present echo.

Shoulders back, stomach in, head up straight.

I slip off the jacket from an old 33. It starts with a rumba, and we dance.
And all is well. All is very well.

How real estate and transition braid in life.

Everyone talks about the real estate market and how it’s changed. Well of course it’s changed, that is the constant, just like in life. In fact, for most home buyers and sellers the decision is driven by change: the first home changes us from a state of renting life to owning one. We “move up” as we create partnerships or to welcome the baby, reduce, downsize, divorce, change jobs. Very few people in the real estate market are purely looking for more closet space; they are enacting change in their lives. I see the real estate transaction as a moment of human transition, with all the emotions, excitement and nerves that go with the territory.
My clients who buy and sell as a business are more financially engaged than emotionally, but they are active in creating financial gain, putting more change in their pockets.
Today’s market is in a state of accelerated transition and much like politics, it works better for some than for others. There will never be a better time to buy a home in our lifetime with prices reduced, interest rates historically low and so many homes to choose from. Change is never easy, but it always brings growth and usually a multitude of blessings. The question is, are you ready to make these circumstances work for you?

On the fourth day of each month, or sometimes on the sixth, I bake a pie.
Coring apples, I contemplate what these 30 days have given me. Peeling away the skins, I leave behind what is no longer needed. Thin slices of joy and heartache, I toss them in a bowl with sugar and lemon juice and wonder who might receive this simple gesture. Who do I know that needs a bit of kindness or a nice surprise? Who’s shown up and left my life a little sweeter? This process makes me calm and smiley.
The recipe I know by heart, but the spices change a bit with every person, every pie. I roll out the dough and press it into the waiting pan, an empty space to be filled. I fill the raw and waiting crust with the gooey mixture, topping it with pats of butter. As I lay the top crust over the mound of glistening fruit and pinch the edges together, all the love I have is sealed inside; the penance of Eve. I run a paring knife across the arch to gently slit the skin and brush on heavy cream. Then into the oven goes the Pie of Love and I wait for the smell of cinnamon, cardamom, and lemony apples to fill my home and bring the memory of my brother’s face. One of the few things he asked of me while he was on this earth was, “Hey Trace, when are you gonna make me one of your pies?” Now. Now I bake your favorite dish with all the love I can, and I deliver it to grateful friends, to family and neighbors, to lovers…haven’t given one to a stranger yet, perhaps because I want the pie tin back, but I probably should.
July will be my final pie, at least my final apple pie, as the year of grief comes to a close. But I might make pecan, I make a wicked chocolate pecan.
Thanks, Steve, for showing me so much about the simplicity of love. As you would say “It’s been a slice”.