All Aboard: Getting Back on Track

Conversations this fall have had a common theme: getting back into a routine. The cycle of the year has spun onto autumn, with the change of the season and school in session, it seems like everyone with a sigh says goodbye to summer and admits the struggle of returning to a routine but the realization of how essential it is to our lives. Personally, I love routine- it is where I can become more efficient, accomplish goals, and carve out opportunities to do the things I need to do. Without a guideline for time management, our “to do” and “to want” lists blur into the background of procrastination and we allow time to manage us vs. the reverse- our ability to manage time.

So while everyone is “getting back on track” I have to ask the question, what happens when your track isn’t the track you were on the previous season when you returned to it? Or what happens when you come to the realization you don’t want to get back on that track? Change is difficult and as someone inclined to the mindset “a place for everything and everything in its place” this particular season is one of newness, firsts, and adventure. As my husband returned to his classroom where he has spent his career teaching and my children returned to their schedules, I am navigating through my career as a realtor with eyes set forward.

The getting back into a routine doesn’t exist in this career- the daily accomplishment of the tasks at hand, the foresight to prospect and invest in relationships for the future, and the wisdom to reevaluate and readjust for greater success are constantly in motion. My goal this fall isn’t to wind down and get into routine- it is to blaze a trail to lay the foundation for 2018 to be rocking. What does that look like professionally for me? Defining goals and making plans to keep myself accountable to achieve them, growing in knowledge and carving time out this winter to finish my GRI accreditation, and growing in creative and logistical ways to create and maintain my business- for an example a more organized contact management system and authentic networking through volunteering and living life with others. In my personal life it looks like carving out time to learn, read, and pray. To be in the moment with my children and set aside time for special intentional time with each of them, even more so for my marriage- to date my husband and dream together. To choose to go to bed earlier to wake up earlier to run in the dark with headlamps and friends. To register for the Twin Cities Marathon for 2018 and maybe a few scattered races before then.

So as we all get back on track, I challenge you to look at your track and tweak it to be even more awesome than last year.

And take a moment to check out the fall colors- doesn’t get much better!

Thank you and photo cred to the MN DNR for the latest report for fall foliage:


Edina Foundation : Night Light night some of my fellow agents out of the Brainerd office and myself headed to the International Market Square in Minneapolis to gather with other Edina agents to support the Edina Foundation. According to the Edina Foundation’s website:

At Edina Realty we know real estate is rooted in our communities. And, an investment in our neighborhoods gives us all a better place to call home. The Edina Realty Foundation offers financial support to non-profit organizations serving homeless individuals, children and families and/or homelessness prevention in communities across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Since its inception in 1996, the Edina Realty Foundation donated nearly $9 million to these organizations.

Our funding is made possible by:

  • Agent and employee contributions
  • Year-round fundraising events
  • Edina Realty Home Services contributions

Personally, I donate to the foundation from each of my closed transactions. The event last night gathered funds through auction items and donations from agents and Edina employees. It was a fun evening to meet at the beautiful International Market Square with agents from across Minnesota & Wisconsin. I appreciated the opportunity to connect with the agents in my office and have a little fun too!

Definition: Home

What defines my home to me?

It is where I find rest from the world. Where I reconnect with the most important people and things in my life. Where my personal possessions rest when I am not enjoying them. Where meals are prepared and shared together.

Memories made.

Hard conversations around the dinner table. Splashing and a wet bathroom floor from too many toddlers in a bathtub.

Rest when I need it, want it, deserve it.

A never-ending list of to-dos and projects to continue to adapt and change it to my needs and wants. A place that I feel safe, secure, protected, at peace, and content. It is innate in me to need it and want it.

I use it to disconnect to the world, reconnect to myself, and get re-energized to emerge again.

I use my home to serve the daily needs of living life, and spruce it up and prepare it for holidays and celebrations. It is where the stockings are hung at Christmas time, a jack-o-lantern sits outside in autumn, where potted flowers get placed every spring.

It is a place to meet and a place to retreat.

It is always there, steadfast in the storm to cover us with warmth. Yet always changing, with each wear and tear, toil and improvement that happens over the course of life.

The best part of it: it is mine.

Book Review: The New Normal

41Jr1fZZIeL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_It is not often I watch mid-morning television, but when I do it is via a closed-caption treadmill TV at the gym. This summer I was intrigued with an interview of educators turned authors and logged into Amazon Prime to order the book the guests had wrote while still on the treadmill. I have a soft spot for new books, especially ones that donate proceeds to help those in need – like the fact that 100% of proceeds of this book benefit education through The Children of Haiti Project.

The New Normal: Tales from International School Teachers is a compilation of stories from educators who have packed their bags and set off to adventure in a career in teaching overseas. Curated by Matt Minor & Kevin A. Duncan, the educators in this book share their unique stories as they adapt and discover the challenges and rewards in a career of teaching in different countries, languages, and cultures than where they grew up. This book is so easy to read- each story spans a page or two and with a different encounter; I wanted to continue reading to discover more about the experience that each teacher had. Not only did I learn more about the countries and culture that the teacher had lived and worked in, the educator brought me along to be in the moment to laugh or cry with them.

Is this book just for teachers? No, I am not a teacher. I am married to one, but he hasn’t read it because before he could, I already passed it along to a neighbor. You snooze, you lose. This is a book for anyone who values people. Share it with a young adult who is contemplating what to study in college, share it with someone established in their career, share it with someone retired. This book reveals the insecurities and fear of change, the freedom in allowing others to influence your life in positive ways, and the investment in others. Smiles and laughter cross all language barriers. It is the common way to say: I think you are valuable.


Where has time gone?

Seriously, it has been awhile. It seems like a lot has happened since I last opened up my laptop and carved out time to write. Multiple disasters have created life-changing events and tragedies for millions of people who have lost their homes and loved ones to unfathomable storms. In Minnesota, we dipped into fall and bounced back into sun and humidity, and my garden doesn’t know what is happening but the Canadian geese have been honking like wild and on the move. In other news, it has been released that Chip & Joanna are going to release a line at target: shut the front door. Someone needs to cut up my red card…now.

In my world of real estate, I am just catching my breath of what was once called Labor Day for those with regularly scheduled holidays from work. I ironically labored quite diligently over the long weekend, writing up multiple contracts and adding a listing. It was fabulous, and fast-paced, and all things real estate. I loved it. I have seen a shift in buyer participation even with a nice long fall season on the horizon- I am hoping more buyers will take advantage of this season when sellers decrease prices and interest rates remain low.

As a seller, this is prime time to get your home out there- let’s take some beautiful pictures before the snow falls, get buyers into your house for showings before we all hibernate, and highlight how cozy and livable your house is during the most beautiful season in Minnesota (I may be biased, but autumn is amazing). And wouldn’t you rather close and move before we freeze, get to have Christmas in your NEW home, and not have to spend your precious spring and summer weekends cleaning and moving? You could already be settled into your next house by then! Or for the snowbirds- get to move on into warmer climates without the worry of frozen pipes and septics and all the glorious upkeep of winter living in Minnesota.

In my own world of life stuff, Jake is back to school teaching, my oldest starts preschool next week, we celebrate a birthday for my middle child this weekend, my garden is almost done producing (other than pumpkins & squash), and I am trying to be more dedicated to the gym membership I committed to. I love my job – but it is more than a job these days- it is like a mindset: analyzing, interpreting data, counseling, and being creative within the boundaries of real estate all at the same time. I so appreciate the clients who have allowed me to grow through each transaction. Nothing is sweeter than getting to the closing table with happy clients!

Anniversary Trip

I used to be timid when it came to making a big “ado” about every day life. But then I realized, life is in the everyday life. And if I don’t take a chance to celebrate it- moments come and go like the waves of the sea. Lost in the next wave that comes to crash along the shore. So I have tried to loosen my grip of perfectionism and desire for control to allow celebration, adventure, and just a touch of relaxation to penetrate my rigidity.

So Jake and I took a day and half to do just that- allow an opportunity to celebrate, go on an adventure, and relax to come to fruition in our lives. We packed our car full of camping gear, bikes, and hit the road. I met Jake and kids in Aitkin after a few showings in the morning and Jake joined me on a handful out of town as we were in route to Wisconsin. (I love doing showings- especially lake cabins, so I was pretty darn excited to do them and be on vacation at the same time!) Once we finished up the showings, we made our way through Duluth and then along Lake Superior to Bayfield, WI. Now my normal “past self” of needing details planned, would have fa-reaked out not having reservations at a campsite, but I let it go like Elsa and trusted Jake to lead our adventure- and it was just that!

Getting into Bayfield at 8 pm on a Saturday night turned out to be a classic “no room in the inn” kind of experience for us when it came to finding a campsite. We called up a campground on Madeline Island- a quick ferry ride across Lake Superior- and were told there was 1 left. Call back in 20 minutes to see if it is still open. Okay. Twenty minutes later, we were in line for the ferry to cross the lake and claim the last campsite in a 20 mile radius. The ferry itself was an exhilarating experience. We crossed the lake while the sun was setting over Bayfield and got to our campsite just in time to set up camp in the dark!

Our next day was full of walking, biking, sunbathing, reading, and relaxation. What? I had forgotten what that word meant- until you physically remove me from the presence of my children and put me on an island with limited cell phone reception. But the stars aligned, and relaxation happened. It was glorious! After an afternoon of fun in the sun, we headed into the town of La Pointe on the island, checked out Tom’s Burned Down Bar and the Pub restaurant and then met up with some friends who own a cabin on the island. It was such a joy to see them and hear about their experience building on the island. They gave us some “inside” island knowledge- like that it is safer to leave your keys in your car than your wife in the bar (apparently the man to woman ratio is quite drastic) and that you can buy $100 worth of groceries that’ll fit in your glovebox due to the high prices of living on the island. Just hearing how they ferried over construction supplies and furniture sounded like quite the adventure!

The next day we packed our campsite and made our way to spend the rainy day in Bayfield. I would love to go back again- the shops were adorable and I love the nautical feel of the town. Beautiful gardens lined the sidewalks and a fun mixture of brightly colored buildings with classic architecture gave me the feeling of being back in Bergen, Norway. I did find a Scandinavian store that stole my heart- put a troll outside your doorway, and you better believe that I will be coming to shop!

Next time we head that way, Jake and I decided we will for sure go on a chartered boat to explore more of the Apsotle Islands. They have charters that bring you out to rock formations and have blow up kayaks to paddle around the islands. I would also like to spend more time in Bayfield if I had the chance. All in all, island life was good to me!

Remembering Travis

Today my husband’s entire family is gathering at the family cabin to remember and celebrate our lost loved one, Travis. Travis joined the family before I did, marrying Jake’s cousin and immediately spreading his infectious personality with the family. He may have received a few eye rolls for his antics, but it was always a party with him there.

Seven years ago, the family decided to put on its first triathlon at the cabin. It entailed swimming across the lake to the public access, biking through Akeley, and running a mile on dirt roads back to the cabin to run through a toilet paper finish line. Although I was not officially family at that time, I took the podium for first place and established a rivalry with Travis immediately. How could he have been beat by this spunky girlfriend of Jake? After all, Travis was wearing streamline spandex – the outfit of champions. The following year he checked into Snap Fitness daily on Facebook and made good-hearted threats to kick my butt. He was disappointed to miss out on redemption when I decided not to compete the following year but winning first sure fit him well.

Travis took a leap of faith a few years ago when he became a REALTOR® and started his own business with Keller Williams. The career suited him well, he was a hardworking people person and it was really fun to see Travis love what he was doing. On August 31, 2016 Travis lost his life in a car accident. The shock hit the family hard, especially the tragedy of leaving behind his wife and children. His friends and family continue to remember and honor him on his Facebook page, it is a living memorial.

Today we head to the cabin again, to swim across the 10th Crow Wing, bike on gravel roads, and run on Goose Trail back to the cabin. Jake and I have been lifting this day in prayer, that it would be one of safety and sweet times together. It can be a little hectic coordinating so many people, children, and dogs. But we are family and we stick together. A race recap will have to come in the future!


July Recap & August Insights

It is August 1 and if any of you are like me who wake up at 4:45 am – the sun is rising later than it did a month ago and the misty fog lingers longer until the sun scorches it away. I am reluctant to admit that our short summer is already dwindling, but no matter how much we deny it, reality will hit soon when my garden is ready for harvesting until there are only orange pumpkins left.

In the world of real estate, July sure was busy! Personally, things picked up after the 4th of July. I had multiple deals come together and multiple deal falls apart – mostly in relation to home inspections. The home inspection is optional for buyers but in the transactions that I have represented buyers, I definitely see their benefit and value. To lift the veils of buyers’ eyes and have an unbiased and detailed inspection is extremely helpful in exposing the little and big things in each home that most buyers miss. Here is July’s list of a handful of exposed issues during inspections – most of these were negotiated between buyer and seller and one of these (one of the worst 4 letter words in homes) resulted in a cancellation of purchase agreement:

  • Leaking pipes resulting in corrosion of plumbing
  • The word “deterioration” surrounding a multitude of things: siding, decks, windows, the list goes on.
  • Missing ridge shingles on roofing
  • Loose railings and railings not to code
  • Incomplete flashing and no ledger board for decks – this one was a learning experience and after learning about deck structures I really feel like I could have made a much better deck in my 10th grade geometry class (sorry Mr. Mehr)
  • Breakers not tripping and potential risk for shock from lack of covers over a panel
  • And the naughty 4 letter word: MOLD. The inspector found it and the buyers decided to move on in their search, claiming their earnest money back while the sellers now are working on mold remediation.

Other than inspections, July had a fair amount of showings. Roughly 1000 miles were tacked on to my vehicle for showings. A lot of cabins. A few tanks of gas and diet cokes for the road. A whole bunch of wood paneling. And really wonderful clients to work with. That’s the best part.

The effect of a plethora of showings and contracts being accepted between both parties leads to a closing in the month ahead. So I am looking forward to what August brings – new homes for my awesome clients and more showings and listings for me to continue helping others in each of their own journeys.

As far as a broad generalization of what August looks like in the real estate biz- people are still searching and properties are moving fast. I have found myself representing clients in multiple offer situations that can be a lot of the “hurry up and wait” mentality. Rushing to put together offers and counters and negotiating and then waiting and waiting for the next step to come in the process.

There is a lot of foresight, preparation, anticipation, and then action in real estate. I compare it to when my husband was an offensive coordinator for football- he prepped his team through practice, made a plan for a play, mentally navigated the steps to follow that play whether it be successful or not, put it to action, and continued to motivate and encourage his players while strategically steering the progress down the field. In a real estate transaction, it is my priority to prepare my clients through counseling and advice in their best interest, foster communication with clients to create a game plan: to buy or sell, make a plan for that process- looking ahead to any roadblocks I may be able to avoid if possible, and put that contract into place and execute it at the closing table….touchdown!

Training camps are here and the season is beginning. I am anticipating an awesome fall- one with lots of action and success. August is my training camp where I am working with clients to get them that touchdown at the closing table. Skol Vikings and Adventure On to all my Buyers & Sellers!


Isn’t this the cutest? Coming on the market August 12!

Book Review: RISE

riseThree words: You go girl. In Cara Brookin’s memoir: Rise: How a House Built a Family, the author takes readers along her journey of triumphing over years of fear from abusive relationships while her family builds a home of their own. While on a weekend getaway with her four children, Brookin stopped by an abandoned home en route and got the inspiration and courage to dream about a future. After the damage of physical and psychological abuse, along with an overwhelming fear from a schizophrenic ex-husband, the family needed a fresh start.

Through getting bank-financing to build, buying undeveloped land, and construction, this do-it-yourselfer shares the ups and downs of her journey having her crew of 2 teenagers, 1 kid, and a toddler as her construction crew and YouTube as her contractor. I cringed at moments reading, thinking “Oh no, is she really doing that on her own? Yes- she is, she’s really doing it. Wow- she did it!” Although I can’t say I would walk down the path she did, it was inspiring to see a woman who set her mind on a mission, motivated her children to participate in that mission, and complete it independently. More than building a home, I love the story of a mother sharing such a huge life accomplishment with her kids.

When I get as inspired as I did from reading this book, I often get an itch for personal accomplishment in my own life. If you need a little kick in the pants to get motivated to start or finish your home project, walking through the adventure of this family’s tight timeline for construction may just motivate you to not hit snooze and actually wake up early to get ‘er done. Brookin worked full-time, worked part-time freelance, raised 4 kids as a single parent, and built a home from the ground up. Whoa. Pass the coffee.

Do you have questions about construction? About buying lots or acreage and the financing needed to purchase? Do you know what improvements to your home build equity? What is your goal for your future home?


People use running as a metaphor for a lot of situations in life- running the race and taking each step at a time to accomplish a goal. There are sprints and long distances when it comes to races- and life. This spring I ran my first 26.2 through the streets of Fargo. I had run plenty of half marathons over the past 8 years – but this year I made the goal to run a full and I did it.

Setting an attainable goal like running a marathon is similar to setting the goal of buying or selling your home. It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a thoughtful plan and execution of training, and it can be just as mental as it is physical. Let’s take selling you house first:

Selling: Make a plan. There are the anomalies of those who decide one day to lace up their shoes and run 26.2 miles at once or on a whim stick a “for sale” sign in their yard and cross their fingers the right person will offer a cash offer of full price for their house. But lets be realistic- that is a great way to get frustrated and the lack of preparation will most likely lead to failure. Just like a marathon needs a training plan- so does selling your home. And guess where successful runners get their training plans? From successful, professional endurance athletes that have ran and won marathons. Get your real estate advice from a licensed, professional realtor who is trained in negotiation, contracts, and the pricing and marketing of homes. There is a science to training for a marathon. And there is a science to pricing and executing contracts to navigate through negotiations.

Buying: Make a plan. Get your checklist ready, friends. Shoes, socks, watch, water, course: check. Throw in some fancy neon dry fit clothes and a few Gu packets and you are now legit. Have you ever ran 26.2 miles in a full sweatsuit? No, you wear running clothes and you have special running shoes; you prepare yourself for the miles and the chaffing (the struggle is real). Same goes for purchasing something that entails a 15-30 year mortgage- your future house. Make a checklist for your goal of buying: talk to a loan officer and see what you are approved for in a mortgage, reach out and get advice on the small steps that can lead towards huge financial accomplishments. Work on your debt-to-income ratio and write out the steps and sacrifices you are willing to make to buy a home. Make a list of wants and needs- then compare that list to what is realistically available in your price range, wrap your mind around what is attainable and create opportunities in your daily habits to attain it.

Lets talk about the biggest hurdle to running: the discipline of training your mind. Sure, your knees and feet are going to hurt running 26.2 miles- that is obvious. But what hurts more is fighting each thought to walk or quit. It takes a mental game plan to run through the tough miles, and for each runner that mile marker may be different. For me, it was miles 21-23. I had run 20-21 miles on a few training runs so knew what that felt like, but when I hit mile 22 I felt like I was in no-mans land. What in the world am I doing here and why I am doing this to myself? For some reason, I got to mile 23 and then all I had left was a 5K- easy peasy, I could do it. Your walk through buying or selling can feel like that, no matter how much preparation you have made, you will find yourself emotionally insecure about why you are here and where this is going. Let me tell you, when you are there in running or real estate, it sure is nice to have someone you trust on your side. For me, I had my running friend who I trained and raced with- she was an experienced marathoner and she got me through those hard miles with encouragement and helping me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A professional realtor does the same in your transaction- they are with you each step of the way, watching out for pothole you could twist your ankle in, and looking ahead for the deal to move forward.

One is the loneliest number- surround yourself with people who are going to cheer you on and support you. It makes running 26.2 miles or buying or selling your house so much more enjoyable to have friends supporting you. It doesn’t have to be their goal or accomplishment, their role is to keep things positive to help you see the larger picture and encourage you each step of the way.

So there you go, whether you are ready to conquer a race or make an investment in real estate, make a goal and rely on the help of someone you can trust. You have the choice if you want to cross the finish line beaming with strength, stamina, and pride or gasping and sick because you were ill-prepared, or worse yet not even finishing. Same goes with a real estate transaction, it is not a sprint- it is a process of steps that will test your endurance and emotions- take my advice and choose who is leading you wisely.

I want to hear your goals – running and real estate and life!

Here are mine:

Running: I want to become a pacer for races. I love the race atmosphere and I love meeting new people. How I can obtain this goal is by running more races and after I have a more diverse resume of full marathons I can apply to be a pacer for races and help others reach their goal times.

Real Estate: Jake and I want to raise our family on water. We always have our eyes open to seeing what is out there as far as renovating a cabin or building on a piece of raw lake shore. For now, we know that to reach that goal we need to continue to build equity in the home we own now by maintaining and improving it. We also are working on financial goals to be able to purchase in the future.

Ready, set, go!



My race fans: they met me at a few different places along the course to give support and cheer me on. Thanks, Jake & Em!