There You Are


This is my reflection on going back to work.

I knew there was going to be a learning curve. I knew I was going to feel incompetent and frustrated. I picked it anyway.

And in the midst of week two of a twelve week training, as I listened to the very smart, very successful man on the screen talk about all the ways we can drive ourselves to make more money, I had to accept a truth: I knew what I was getting into. I may have thought I could do it half speed, or without being motivated by dollars, but I still knew I was going among people who get up every day to win.

The trainer is an Irishman, so as motivation he said “My sainted mother used to say ‘Everywhere you go, there you are.'” This fired up some of my co-trainees, but I shrank a little inside.

Here I am.

In this place that I picked, I have been lied to. I have been called “Doll” and “Sweetheart” and “Bitch” like it’s a compliment. I’ve been given unsolicited advice on how to have a good marriage from a man 10 years older than me who’s never been married. I asked another professional to wait 30 minutes so my client who was having a diabetic episode could force herself to drive to my office in her pajamas, and was told “No”.

People drink in the office. That part I don’t mind actually. What bugs me is why. Yesterday I woke up to write an offer for one client and list a property for another. I ended up 0 for 2 on the day, for various reasons out of my control. I have a vet client who despite all his “benefits” cannot afford to buy a home at a decent price point in our town. His wife has cried at my table. That’s why agents drink, or maybe it’s how they learn to say no to a decent request to wait a half hour for a sick woman.

I know these are the pitfalls of any profession which requires dealing with people on a daily basis. Teachers get jaded and burnt too. But I knew what I was about in the classroom. I saw the future of it.

Here I am.

Yes, I got into this to make money, but not for the sake of money. I have no desire to be the Top 100 anything.  I’m missing family dinners and practices and coffee with my friends. Right here, right now–super not worth it. Of course, I haven’t gotten paid yet. Maybe that will change things.

But I can’t help thinking that two paychecks into my teaching job looked like the same amount of work for a lot more compensation.

Am I whining? Sure. Maybe it sounds like I have the “luxury” of not being worried about dollars and cents. It’s not true. My husband makes a great living, but like most stay at home moms can tell you, we lived on a shoestring so that I could be there, and the kids are only getting more expensive, not less. It would be helpful for me to pick up the shoestring and make it more rope-like.

Here I am.

This is just a stop on the way to where I want to be. Three years to learn the job so that I can do what I really want, which is own and manage affordable housing in this city where landlords have no souls because the occupancy rate sits in the high 90s. Three years to create a philanthropic housing program for low income families. No, I’m not really sure what that means yet, because I’m busy learning about leach fields and urban growth boundaries, but I know that shelter is a basic human right and there has to be a way to help people get it that glorifies God.

The storm before the calm. The horse before the cart. Uncomfortable. Unsure.

Here I am.



Clown Parenting


I watched a 9 year old child having a melt down over the loss of her entire Minecraft world. The Xbox glitched and it was gone. She was distraught—and if you know anything about the world of Minecraft, you know why.

My own child was just about to explain that he could probably recover the loss. Another child was patting the girl’s back in sympathy. But then mom did this:

“OH NO! Now you’ll have to spend HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS building it all over again! The tragedy!!!!”

And she laughed.

I don’t know if mom had no idea about the game, or if she was tired, or if this was the fortieth meltdown of the day. It was a moment in their day, and nothing was done that couldn’t be undone.

I’m not judging her parenting. I’m just using her words as the example of what sarcasm can do to a child, because lots of parents use sarcasm in their regular rotation.

The daughter knew that her mom was making a joke, but she was too young to understand the subtlety. The entire point of the meltdown was that she lost something that took her hours and hours and hours to build. In her 9 year old brain, it was a tragic situation. So why was her mom making a joke about it, and her?

Her face fell. Her shoulders slumped. She had been sad and disappointed. Now, she was angry and hurt.

I thought, looking at the girl’s face, I have made my children feel the same way.

A few months ago, I heard Patsy Clairmont speak at Women of Faith. She said something true about sarcasm that helped me figure out how to deal with mine.

“Sarcasm is anger that’s gone underground and come back up in a clown’s suit.”

We all laughed. Sarcasm is funny-ish.

But it’s also passive aggressive. Dishonest. Deflecting. I don’t want to be that kind of person and I don’t want to raise that kind of kid.

A few times since then, I have stopped the sarcasm in its tracks and gone with the honest anger instead. Not sure that’s 100% better. Maybe 50%. It tends to be louder, but I’m ok with that because the cost of quiet sarcasm is much higher, too high. My anger is not nasty. At least my kids can track it in a direct line back to its source. They don’t have to wonder what I mean and what it says about them.

I’m working on the volume. Until someone develops a “Make the anger go away instantly” pill that’s not addictive and/or fattening, this will have to be my goal.