The past few months, I have been diligently working on completing my GRI (GraduateREALTOR® Institute ) designation. I started taking my courses over a year ago and slowing chipped away at them. This summer I focused on getting the bulk of them completed and have really enjoyed the content I have learned and have put into practice. Between showings, listing appointments, administrative work, and my classes I also intentionally made time to take our kids to the library every week since moving to Aitkin.

As a child, the Aitkin Library was a magical place. Twenty-three years ago the library of my youth that was built in 1911 turned into an art museum and a new facility was built. As much as I missed my old library, the new one was much closer for me to bike to (I didn’t have to cross the highway on my bicycle which was my parents’ rule) and conveniently quite close to Dairy Queen.

Now, I bring our kids weekly as they trade out the giant stack of children’s books in exchange for new titles to keep our reading time a little more spontaneous and fresh. They also point out every visit that Dairy Queen is just across the parking lot. And I have become no stranger to cruising through my own stack of titles the past few months. I read a biography on Nancy Reagan, a fictional novel based in Yosemite National Park, multiple books on leadership & being an entrepreneur, a financial planning book, the story of an ultra-marathoner’s record-breaking trail run on the Appalachian Trail, and currently a non-fiction on the story of how a women struggling to keep it all together learned how to let some things go to finally thrive. My favorite from the past couple of months was definitely about the ultra runner who overcame serious injuries and kept a winning mindset for an average of running 50 miles a day to conquer the 2,181 of the Appalachian Trail. The most practical & tactical: probably the financial planning book. But that just wasn’t as exciting.

My current read has stirred up some good thinking points, specifically in defining what matters most and prioritizing them. In Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu, the author shares her personal story of being an ambitious professional who becomes overwhelmed with the details of parenthood, maintaining a home, and growing professionally. The book sparked my interest to take a personality test to evaluate my style and gifts. The last time I took a personality test was in a practice management course studying dental hygiene at the U of MN over 10 years ago. Even though a lot has changed since then, my personality has not.

If you are curious what my personality test revealed, the answer is: awesome. Just kidding, I always have been ENFJ (more info here) and it was rewarding and insightful to read through the personality profile once again to be reminded on my strengths (and weaknesses).

Protagonists are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma. Forming around two percent of the population, they are oftentimes our politicians, our coaches and our teachers, reaching out and inspiring others to achieve and to do good in the world. With a natural confidence that begets influence, Protagonists take a great deal of pride and joy in guiding others to work together to improve themselves and their community. 16 Personalities

My husband took the test as well, and you guessed it right: ISTJ – THE LOGISTICIAN. (More details about the logisitician here) All in all, we have totally different personalities and the perfect combination of charisma and loyalty to produce rockstar kids.

I love the variety of personalities out there. One of my favorite things about real estate is the opportunity to work with so many interesting people and personalities. Mix in a couple with different personalities, buying or selling the most expensive thing they’ve owned, and the emotions of moving and change – and it is a chance to really get to know people and improve their experience in real estate. Just like there are thousands of titles to choose from in the library, there is a market of houses and a pool of buyers – it just takes a system to match them up! The diversity of personality keeps my career interesting, challenging, and always rewarding. It helps to have Dairy Queen close by too.



Our family is getting into our groove. A move disrupts your patterns, flow, processes. It has been about a month now since we packed up our house and family and transplanted to Aitkin. Although we have a few (or a lot) of lingering boxes that have not been unpacked or dedicated for a purpose, we are feeling as settled as we can be for not really knowing what home we will purchase in the next year or so. We do know that we love the house we are staying in now, it fits all our needs and more.

Jake and I received the gift of a stay at a B&B in Cornucopia, WI for Christmas and the time had come for our 2 night getaway to start. Cornucopia is about 80 miles from Duluth and a half hour drive to Bayfield, WI. It is a small town with sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and Lake Superior waves. We had traveled to the area last summer, found the last campsite on Madeline Island in the pitch black on a Friday night, and had decided that next time we return we want to go sea kayaking. So this trip: we had a plan.

We left Monday morning and enjoyed lunch in Canal Park at Northern Waters Smokehaus where the Cajun Finn sandwich was incredibly delicious and Jake rubbed elbows with Whiskey distillers from Tennessee while waiting in line.

After Duluth, we continued our drive through Wisconsin while jamming to our collection of CDs that we found when moving (we each had a tote of CDs that have been narrowed down to a small book- we know they are archaic, but how can you possibly throw away the classics that got you through junior high to college?) We arrived at Siskiwit Bay Lodge Bed & Breakfast and WOW- what a beautiful setting. This B&B boasts a living quarters for the host and 5 bedrooms & baths for guests with a gorgeous common room and manicured lawns. Not only is the house extraordinary; the hosts, food & conversation with other guests has been delightful. The sunset over Lake Superior our first night was the most astounding sunset I had ever had the opportunity to see in person & last night we enjoyed sitting by the fire, hearing the waves of Lake Superior and enjoying talking with another couple. (Side note: the B&B is for sale – the listing agents did a great job on it!)


We hiked a nearby trail called Lost Falls that led to a waterfall and small creek with rocks to hop on and cross over. It was the perfect hike. We came into Bayfield to eat twice: at the Fat Radish & Maggie’s – both delightful and quirky in their own ways, and great food. We had shopped and walked Bayfield last year, so we returned for some fish & souvenirs. Yesterday evening was our sea kayaking adventure. We booked a 4 hour excursion, but due to less than ideal conditions and a storm that was coming in, we did an alternative route to Roman’s Point instead of launching out of Meyer’s Beach. We paddled in a tandem kayak and I really enjoyed it! Going in and out of the rock ledges was really neat, next time we get the weather that produces the ice caves – I need to go back to check those out!

We are headed home today – back to our children & the routines of life and business. Our hosts at the B&B said, “Sometimes you need to retreat to move forward” – nothing could be more true for us. This retreat was an opportunity to sleep in, sit by water, and hang out with my best friend. And now we emerge moving forward – getting back into our routines, preparing for the upcoming school year, growing our roots deeper into our new community.



Selling, Searching, Getting Settled.

truckAfter a hiatus on the blog, I have returned! Currently, we are days away from celebrating the 4th of July – usually I am feeling like summer is half over when we reach this holiday, but this year I feel like “OK, summer can start now.” Our spring was much different than anything our family had experienced before. Since being married, spring consisted of baseball games, planting our garden, getting out for evening walks, and the beginning of race season for running. This spring was drastically different, my husband no longer coached the varsity baseball team, I was running a full time real estate business in a very busy and fun season, and in May our family made the decision to list our house and move after my husband accepted a teaching position in Aitkin.

For those who haven’t heard our story on why Aitkin: here it goes. My husband and I were born and raised in Aitkin, and our parents continue to live there. We loved where we were in Pillager- Jake’s job at the school and our neighborhood and friends. But in our hearts, we knew that we wanted to be where our parents are – to live life with them. We wanted our kids to have childhoods with their grandparents woven into it and for our parents to have the opportunities to hang out with these awesome little people while they are still our roommates for another 15 years or so. The doors opened all in the right timing for everything to line up – ask anyone who has talked to us and they’ll share it was a “God thing” for it all to come together for us.

Now selling your house is not a DIY affair and I have to admit after doing it myself as a Realtor, I have a deeper understanding for my value and worth as an agent representing my clients. It is emotional, stressful, energy-depleting, and comprehensive – add in running a business, taking care of 3 children, staging & packing up a house, and looking for a new home into the hours of the day and it just doesn’t pan out perfectly. In retrospect, everything went about as smoothly as possible with the moving pieces of selling a home, but there were still kinks that arose as they do in all transactions (that’s what your agent is for- minimizing and navigating these bumps for you)!

Jake and I had a plan for selling our house: we knew we needed it in contract in a weekend – we needed to move on with our plans and with a high schooler nannying for us a handful of days a week I didn’t feel comfortable having showings during the week with our kids at home. We prepared for selling by removing about 30% of our belongings from inside: minimizing and packing our unneeded belongings into organized boxes into the garage. By cleaning out closets, removing toys, and keeping the interior simple, our house was ready. I photographed, measured, and listed our home to hit the market on Mother’s Day/Fishing Opener Weekend- not particularly because of that holiday, just fell with that timing wise. By Saturday, we were in contract and done with showings. That timeline may not work for all sellers, but for us: it was just as planned. List it at a very fair market value, not overpricing or inflating the price to “test” the market out there and give ourselves room to come down- we didn’t want to go down the route of price reductions and weeks of showings with no offers. We planned to sell, and we sold.

Looking for a home turned out to be more challenging than expected, our move to Aitkin is long term and we have the hopes to find our “forever” home. After previewing most of the listed homes and a few for sale by owners, we met with some builders to discuss new construction. Unlike all the open doors on the decision to move & sell our home, buying or building a home led to closed door after closed door. We almost had something come together to purchase, but felt like we were forcing something that wasn’t meant to be now, so once we let it go and decided to wait: a door opened for us. We graciously accepted the invitation to move into my parents’ home as they moved into a townhome for us- committing to staying there until the spring when we start looking again. I don’t know many people who would give up their home and decide to move in 2 weeks to allow their kids & grandkids to live in their home, but they did and we are grateful.

Our family and friends helped us load up in Pillager (by the way, if you buy/sell with Edina Realty, we have this awesome moving truck to use – just ask me about it) while new colleagues from Aitkin and family waited for us in Aitkin to help us unload. We really felt surrounded by a community of friends both in Pillager and Aitkin in our transition of moving. We’ve been in Aitkin for about a week now- unpacking boxes, organizing, decorating bedrooms, and having some fun along the way too.

Through this whole process of selling, moving, and change – one of the biggest things I have learned is to allow myself to feel without guilt. We had a great experience selling our home, moving, and finding a house for us to settle in (even if it wasn’t what we had planned, it’s a great place to be), but there are still so many emotions leaving the house we got engaged in and brought three babies home to. Allowing myself to be thankful for those memories, saddened about leaving our neighborhood, friends & school, relieved to have the house closed, nervous about the transition, and excited about getting reconnected in Aitkin – so many emotions and they are all normal!

I am continuing to work out of the Baxter Edina office and serve my wonderful clients all around the Brainerd Lakes area – that is what is so awesome about my career! I get to work with the best people in the best place (I know that is subjective, but I believe it is true). I love what I do and where I get to do it. See you around!

March Madness

March is over according to the calendar. Looking outside, it’s pretty bleak. Looking at the local market, I see a ton of potential for those buyers dreaming of a place to dock their boat when the ice is out, unpack & get settled over the warmer months, or sellers getting their existing home sold in the prime of the local spring real estate market.

March came with a flurry of business and opportunities to serve clients. I listed 3 properties in March – one went into multiple offers & pending on its 2nd day on the market, one that accepted an offer in its first week, and one that just went into contract: in its 3rd week of marketing. Two other listings accepted offers in March, one in multiples and one that came with a quick close in less than 30 days from a signed contract. On the purchase side, I helped buyers in getting into contract for new construction, a second home on the lake & a 40 acre hunting property. And believe me, I showed my fair share of properties and wrote quite a few contracts that never received signatures by both parties. Many of those buyers are still looking & I am excited to help them find the right property for them.

With all the madness of the month, I continued to enjoy my groove- balancing time with my family, time in my business, time with friends & family, and time for hobbies. Professionally, I loved the month- how satisfying to be in connection to so many wonderful clients and have the opportunity to be a part of their real estate adventure. Personally, I enjoyed preparing to host Easter, some extra spring break time with my husband & family (I lost my voice for half the week so parenting quietly was a new lesson for me), and pushed through some longer runs to stretch myself in running and get better prepared for an upcoming race.

Looking ahead, April showers (or, um..snow?) bring May flowers. And that mindset is completely accurate in real estate. The work I am doing now results in success in the future. Staying idle is not an option, to continue to grow my business it takes daily commitment, motivation, and action. So if I look busy now, it was because I was working really hard a month or two ago! So March Madness is going to lead to Happy Dance April & Making it Happen May!file-1 (002)

The Thaw…

We know it is coming…the icy patches melt into puddles each afternoon until the night’s temperatures drop. This cycle of winter mornings turned into hopeful sunny afternoons where the sun actually feels warm and we let our winter guards down for just enough to dream of spring. We leave our coats at home to run errands, in denial it is still only 30 degrees outside, but compared to 30 below- this feels like a heatwave. It sure feels good to shed a layer of outerwear, get a car wash, and hear the birds chirp.

While mother nature is warming up, I can attest so is the local real estate market. When the calendar flipped to March, buyers arose from hibernation and started looking and buying. Sellers who may have been sitting with a stagnant listing from last fall are receiving showings and offers while new listings priced competitively are finding themselves in multiple offer situations. Although it turns back to winter at night when the sun goes down, the real estate market continues to gain momentum.

I am enjoying this wave of business – listing, showing, writing, negotiating, executing contracts is a blast! My routine tasks for running my business get pushed to the sidelines when mornings start out early getting deals done and the day ends way past my bedtime and I close my laptop. It is an ebb and flow that is so different than typical employment of routine hours, tasks, and predictability. It is quite the adventure and just the right adventure for me.

Sweating stuff.

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When I was a kid, my dad received a book called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – And it’s All Small Stuff” and the title caught my eye. I don’t have any memory of my dad reading it, I had never picked it up, but it sat in our house for all my years living there. I remember pondering over that title. I had heard the phrase “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” many times but had no understanding of why you would? At that point in my life, I only started sweating when biking as fast as I could to cross the busy highway to get to the park to watch little league games. As life continued and successes and failures shaped me, I started to grasp an understanding of “Sweating the Small Stuff” – events that blind-sided me into the fight-or-flight decisions.

Today I sit, being woken up from a phone call at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning from a situation that causes gushes of perspiration- what feels like big things to sweat over. It could be assumed my work as a REALTOR® expired once the keys were exchanged and my commission check was cut. But it doesn’t. I am the first one they go to when their home they have just moved into shows off its quirks and perhaps “used” condition. As the waves have settled into a calm from the storm of the morning, the realization that the size of the problem is completely relative to one’s own experiences and current situation. A stressful move, lack of sleep, hefty down payment that hits the bank account, and all that frustration of not being able to find where you packed your toothbrush can break someone when something goes awry their first few days in their new home. Moving – and even more so home ownership – is for the resilient.

Our country values the hard work of putting energy and resources into something to call one’s own. Taking responsibility and taking control of the problem is one of the first lessons in home ownership- especially when a parent or mentor is unable to help. Knowing who to call, when to call, what to expect, and not to literally freak out is a lesson from the school of hard knocks. My husband and I have walked a few miles in those shoes- waking up to a broken furnace with a new baby at home and a forecast of below zero temperatures, appliances that went rogue, and living in sheet-rock dust and construction with toddlers. But let me tell you, those miles were just the warm up on the marathon of being a REALTOR® and providing post-closing services to clients. With each client and house, I am putting more tools in my toolbox to serve others in the future- just from today I can tell which electrician & well specialist will answer the phone on Sunday morning- and that is a valuable thing to know!

So to all you homeowners – add an extra layer of deodorant because home ownership- and even more so LIFE – is going to make you sweat. Don’t beat yourself up about sweating the stuff, give yourself a pat on the back that you just had a rocking workout, learned a few valuable lessons, and have earned yourself a cold beverage at the end of the day.


The #1 question in real estate.

It gets asked day in and day out – some ask out of pure curiosity, most out of a quest to gain a footing to know where they stand in their personal investments and goals in regards to real estate. Hey, you are in real estate…

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As soon as I became a REALTOR®, the question came – and continues to come. It is a wonderfully complex, fascinating, and great question to ask!

So first of all, thank you for asking how the market is. And it really depends- are you interested in buying, selling, investing, or renting? They are all very different. Is your question coming from a curiosity about interest rates, the economy, a buyers’ market, sellers’ market, commercial transactions, investment properties, lake shore, second homes, or single family residential homes?

Here’s the solution: It really depends. Which part of the market are you most interested in? Let’s narrow down your focus to find out what you really want & I will bring the value. So next time you meet a REALTOR® and you ask “How’s the market?” – expect a conversation, if it’s a one word answer…you can always ask Alexa (or better yet, me).





Under all is the land.

NAR Code of Ethics

  • under all is the land

The first paragraph of the preamble to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics is chalk full of language that thickens the blood pulsing through my American veins. In a culture of scrolling, scanning, and split-second judging, a moment to savor the words can reignite passion and purpose for those of us juggling the balancing act of marketing, contracts, and putting deals together while others simultaneously self-destruct. Below in bold italics is the Code of Ethics Preamble – and my comments inserted.

Under all is the land. <The common denominator, the reminder that we are all human, all equal, all here on this planet that we share together> Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization. REALTORS® should recognize that the interests of the nation and its citizens require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of land ownership.  <Power to the people here – sustainable/responsible use & accessbility> They require the creation of adequate housing, the building of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms, and the preservation of a healthful environment. <We are called to be agents of change and progress for our community- to support safe and healthy homes, the towns we live in, the businesses that our neighbors own and we visit>

I would continue on with my commenting and silent fist-pumping but will leave it there for the evening. It seems like the forefathers who penned this preamble prioritized the individual for the good of the community – that allowing individuals to take ownership of the land under ones feet will relate to the benefit of ones community. And those who are assisting in home ownership (REALTORS®) are just the people to display these values. Treating each client as someone who is benefiting the community by the sale or purchase of a home & the land that is under all – opens my eyes to the larger picture of the privilege we have. Despite all the crud that plagues the news or my personal convictions on politics, saturating myself in the preamble for a few moments this evening sparked my patriotic spirit and appreciation to call this land under my feet: home.



Back to Trick or Treat Street

Just a short note today to reminisce about Halloween traditions growing up on 1st Street in Aitkin. I am thankful for my childhood of growing up in town- being able to trick or treat with other neighbors and friends around town. I have fond memories of trick or treating, but my favorite Halloween memories of growing up in my childhood home were of passing out candy to little ones when I was in high school.

Even after my mom had passed away, I enjoyed getting candy and manning our front door to pass out candy to kids. As a teenager, I am sure there were cooler things to have done on Halloween night, but I was content to turn on our outside light and watch families come up our driveway. A handful of elementary aged kids would always say “hey, you are that girl from the musical” and that made my day! Like being a celebrity in our little town- when a few of the elementary grades were bused over to the high school to watch the spring musical each year.

This afternoon, as I shut my laptop off and pack the kids’ costumes and pajamas to head over to Aitkin, I have a thankful heart for the memories I have growing up on 1st Street. Jake and I love our new tradition of spending Halloween in our hometown- with our parents- walking with our kids along the same streets we did decades ago.

Happy Halloween!

#ilovewhereilive photo journal

Yesterday I decided I wanted to take a picture every day until Thanksgiving to showcase my gratitude for living where I do. In the daily grind of analyzing, viewing, and selling properties it is easy to get lost in the square footage, acreage, and price of real estate. Although those details are essential to understanding each real estate transaction, I am dedicating the next month to highlight some of the things I cherish about living in the Brainerd Lakes Area.

My list is personal- I can imagine not every citizen of the area is thankful for the same things I am. But we often take the most crucial freedoms and privileges for granted. I become so nearsighted on the daily tasks, boulders to move, tasks on the lists, that I forget about the awesome weight that I get to own a chunk of land and a house in one of the most beautiful parts of one of the most beautiful states (this is subjective I know) to call my own. I am a goal-setter, accomplishment achiever, always striving kind of person- that reflects in my home ownership as I am constantly repainting, rearranging, and re-convincing my husband to “help” (aka DO) projects. But in my movement, I have grown in contentment for the little house that is home to my family.

#ilovewhereilive pictures will be on the whim – as life happens- and I hope to be persistent in accomplishing a tribute to the area I call home. I have no schedule, guideline, or numbered list of how many pictures I will post, other than a daily post with the hashtag #ilovewhereilive. Yesterday I shared a picture of my husband and daughter duck hunting 5 minutes from our house- because how cool is that? I think it rocks! Today I posted a picture of my running watch- because I meet up with friends to run the streets of Baxter a few times each week, and boy have we explored the area! Think I know every side walk that does or doesn’t get plowed all winter!

I hope you enjoy the pictures of my gratitude for where I call home. And if you don’t #lovewhereyoulive – you better give me a call! I can help with that. 🙂#ilovewhereilive.png