Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back to Basics

I have to admit, I have a secret, guilty pleasure.....The Real Housewives of New Jersey.  But don't judge me.  Where else can I spend an hour a week, realizing how utterly, absolutely, and quite simply,  NORMAL, I am?  Well, ok.  I can watch Judge Judy and REALLY feel normal…and exceptionally intelligent.  But in the world of so-called “real housewives”, amidst all the money, cars, mansions, diamonds and fame, the only thing those “real” housewives seem to be is real UNHAPPY!  They make it obvious money doesn't buy happiness.  The drama of their lives portrayed every week on reality tv makes me realize how satisfying my simple life is.

Recently, I went to a financial planning presentation with my husband, and came away with a couple of  pearls.  Not in the literal sense----some pearls of wisdom.  What are your grandparents doing in their retirement (or what DID they do?)  Did they retire at the age of 65?  Did they have enough money to live comfortably?  We listened to the discussion, with most sadly reporting that their grandparents weren't able to retire because that they never had enough money to cover their expenses.  Many people in the room shared similar stories.  My husband and I realized we are blessed.  Our grandparents had set some really fine examples for their grandchildren:  Don't spend everything you make.  But did we listen?  Not a chance.  We did more than just the opposite.  We didn't just spend everything we made----we spent MORE!!!!   After all, that is the American way, isn’t it?   Fortunately, realizing the error of our ways after the help of some really educational workshops and classes, we are back on track.  (Thanks, Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University!)

The bottom line is, we need to get back to the basics.  When we are struggling to figure out why things aren’t working out the way they should, we should resolve to get back to the basics.  Why don’t we just stay there since that is what works?  Why do we find it so necessary to change what is working?

Since it is football season, let’s take a look at the game. The BASICS of the game.  Football, or baseball, both of which are big in my family, provide some great lessons. The rules of the game have been the same since the first ball was thrown.  The results are predictable:  You show up for practices, you focus, you play as a team, you work hard, you play hard, and you might win the game.   Although the effort is not easy, the concept certainly is.  No perks without the works.  You work hard, you play hard, you win, you are rewarded and you get to celebrate. Are amazing athletes just born amazing?  Did he/she just show up for the game and play like a pro?  Of course not!  You have to crawl before you can walk, practice before you play to win, start where you are and go from there.  In real estate terms, your first home is going to be a starting point for eventually moving up to the big “dream home” you are creating on a "pin-board"!  Realistic expectations are critical to know the difference between a good real estate opportunity and avoiding biting off more house than you can chew.  First-time home buyers, especially, need to understand this.

On a visit back to my hometown one weekend for a football game,  I stayed at my parent’s house.  I was sitting at my mom’s vanity in the bathroom putting on my makeup, and saw a tray of colognes and after shave that belonged to her and dad.  Although my dad has traveled all over the world during his career, picking up exotic perfumes as gifts for mom, and awesome colognes for himself, none of them took me back to a favorite memory from the past than one small bottle with the little red ship.  The scent took me back to when I was a four-year old, and dad and I would pile into the old, green “woody wagon” after breakfast.  (And breakfast, by the way, was always hot and on the table at the same time every morning.  Lucky me!)  He would drop me off at nursery school on his way to the office...And he always wore that scent with the little red ship on the bottle.  Expensive?  Nope.  Memorable?  Absolutely!  Every time I smell that scent, it takes me back to the 1960's in Columbia, MO.  So is there a big, expensive price tag that makes the best memories?  Is it the house they now live in and have worked for their entire lives what makes my most cherished memories?  Of course not-it is the journey and the memories we made over the years to get to where they are now that are most important.  My parents raising four kids, getting us to after-school events, practices and activities (and attending every game, recital or competition), sending all of us to college with mom staying home to coordinate and make sure it all happened as it should:  Was it easy?  Heck, no!  I know how much time, effort, money and energy it takes to get that all done, now that I am an adult and have done much of the same for my three kids.  I know they made their MORE than fair share of sacrifices.  But those memories are the foundation for which I build my own adult life.  Those memories make me the wife, mother, friend, and professional that I am.  It is the most simple things that have taught me the best, most important lessons and that take me back and make me smile.

So when I watch the “Real Housewives”, and I laugh and smile, it is not because of the quality or content of the show.  It is more of a "smug" smile, because I am content and happy with all that I have and know, and that I am rich beyond belief with amazing memories, family, friends, clients and colleagues that add value to my life every day.