Saturday, December 14, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness: A Dedication to the Innocence Lost at Sandy Hook

The tragic event of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on December 14, 2012 is still a haunting devastation to me. Whether you knew someone personally or not, it affected all of us. I still cry at the innocence lost that day. After the tragedy, I was angry. I was upset. I cried at the sight of the victims on the news. I wanted to cast blame. I wanted answers! As a mom, I, of course, thought, “I just can't imagine the pain those poor parents are experiencing.” But I was still able to do something those parents couldn't: I was able to hug my children a little tighter, look into their eyes a little longer, laugh at their childish antics, cheer at their ball games, smile at their triumphs....Things that were taken from those parents, one year ago today.

So last year, rather than try to make sense of it or search for answers that didn't exist, I put on my rose colored sun glasses and went in search of all that was precious and good. In a world that has a potential for so much hatred and evil, I knew that there was also a lot of kind and wonderful out there....I just had to look for it. So I went in search of “Random Acts of Kindness”. If I didn't witness someone else doing it, I did something myself. I shared these things on my Facebook pages last year, and I received so many sweet comments. It turned out to be a gift I gave myself last year that made a huge difference in how I kicked off the year 2013. It made such an impact, I decided to re-post them again this year. These posts will start tomorrow, and go for 26 days: One “Random Act of Kindness” in honor and memory of each life that was lost last year. I have read several posts over the year of my Facebook friends either being the “do-er” or “receiver” of a “Random Acts of Kindness” (or “Paying it Forward”), so please feel free to add your experience in the comments of these posts for everyone to enjoy!

This experience last year gave me more peace and motivation than I could have ever imagined. As I am usually exhausted, (and more than a little cranky) after the holidays, I had a sense of calm and hopefulness that I couldn't really explain. As is my usual business practice, the last week of the year I spend time planning the upcoming year. Last year, even though I had an extremely challenging year, I felt strangely peaceful, but excited with anticipation as I planned for 2013. This year, I changed my focus from what was wrong to what was right, and how could I make “it”, (whatever “it” might be) even better. I tried to treat people the way I thought THEY would want to be treated. I tried to be sympathetic and to understand that other people's behavior may be the reaction of something beyond their control. I tried to put myself in other peoples shoes----The guy that cut me off in traffic obviously had a much more important matter to take care of than I did.....The crabby lady in the drive-through that didn't say much more than an inaudible grunt as she handed me my bag of food was probably upset because she just got a phone call about an ill family member...The woman in the grocery store that was yelling at her kids in the middle of the store was probably stressed about paying for her groceries after learning her husband had just lost his job. Rather than being a jerk, rolling my eyes, or worse, I am humbled to realize, that could just as easily be me.

So as 2013 comes to an end, I reflect and realize how blessed I am. I live in an amazing community that makes me smile. Just yesterday, after I dropped my son off at school, I had to dash into the grocery store at the last minute. Now keep in mind, it is 7 am, and I had just thrown on a sweatshirt, yoga pants (that have NEVER been to a yoga class), and sneakers, thinking I could dash in and out and no one would pay much attention to me. Yet, as I am running back to jump into my car, a gentleman exits his car next to mine (which, at that hour, is the ONLY other one in the parking lot), throws his hand up, flashes a great big smile and shouts, “Merry Christmas, young lady!” How could you not smile and have a great day after that! I smile at how blessed I am that my son has amazing teachers youth leaders and baseball coaches that are molding and shaping him into the man he is going to be someday. I smile because my son has chosen the most amazing kids as friends, that any mama would be proud of! I smile because both our girls are hard-working college students. I smile when they come home for the holidays and want to experience the same old family traditions. I smile because I am blessed with an amazing, responsible husband that is a wonderful provider and also an awesome dad to our three kids.

I realize how blessed I am to work for a company that is a perfect fit for me. My broker is quite simply: amazing. My colleagues are like an extended family and all are simply wonderful. Our administrative staff just couldn't be any better. We are all blessed with a beautiful work environment at Golden Key Realty. And lastly, by finally taking a leap of faith, I have one more blessing: my newly hired assistant that has the same passion and enthusiasm for my business as I do!

I realize how blessed I am to have the most amazing clients. They entrust me to help them with one of the largest, most important purchases they will make in their lifetime. They share their families with me. They share their dreams with me. We share lots of laughs, and yes, sometimes tears.

So take a look around you and count your blessings. Then pass along some of the goodness in your heart by helping someone that could use a little kindness. Do it in memory of the precious babies and teachers that lost their lives last year. I will guarantee you this: The more kindness you give, the more you will receive!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

One Shoe

One of the things I always struggled with as a working mom was whether or not I was doing the right thing for my kids by not being at home all day, every day.  Being one of four kids, my mom had her hands full, and was a stay-at-home mom.  (I grew up in the late 60s, early 70s, so this was pretty common at the time.)  She stayed busy not only putting food on the table, clean clothes on our backs and keeping a spotless house for us to come home to, but getting us to and from dance lessons, football practices, cheerleading practices, swimming and diving practice, piano lessons, and the like.  Then she made sure she and my dad attended and/or chaperoned every single game, meet, recital and performance for all four of us.  I watched her do all these things, in what appeared to me, effortlessly.
When I first got out of college and started my first professional job, I did a pretty good job balancing a career, husband and making sure the bills were paid, food was on the table, clothes were washed and the house was clean.    Several years later, adding a child to the picture made it necessary to tweak my schedule and change a few things here and there to still get it all done.  My mom had set the bar pretty high to begin with, and adding a full-time job into the mix made for a challenge I was determined to conquer.  I managed to pull it off, but it was exhausting.  I always felt like rather than letting anything slide, I had to keep up the same standard I had been raised to expect and had maintained up until then.  The biggest problem was that I could not seem to shake the guilt I think a lot working moms suffer from:  Should I make some major adjustments and stay at home, or is it ok to work outside the home? 

As my kids are older now, (two of them are in college, and one is in middle school), I have finally decided I made the right decision.  I am proud of my family and the lessons we have learned from watching each other.  I taught my kids a heck of a lot along the way, and I did it as a working mom.  All three of my kids can cook, clean, do the laundry, mow the yard, socialize with adults and children alike, have manners and respect for others, and know right from wrong.  In addition to juggling schedules and multi-tasking, my kids unknowingly taught me not to doubt myself and that that they really do pay attention!

I love sitting back, watching and listening to my kids.  I love it when they repeat something I have taught them when I thought they weren’t paying attention. I love it when the girls call us from college to report great news about their grades or classes.   I love it when my son asks me about a particular Bible verse that he can quote, but can’t remember exactly where to find it. I love that the girls call me to get recipes for a favorite meal because now that they have their own apartments, they want to make it for someone themselves.  I love it when my son plays baseball and when he makes an amazing play, he acts the same as when he doesn’t.  (Even though Mom and Dad are in the stands acting like obnoxious fools, screaming and yelling on the great plays, “Yep!  That’s our boy!”  He acts like he’s done it before. Yep, he keeps it classy even if good ole Mom and Dad don’t!  Now come on---You know you do it, too!)  On the not-so-great plays, he just smiles and goes back to the dugout until the next time.  And I especially love that he draws a cross in the dirt every time he is up to bat, recognizing how he got there in the first place.

So what the heck does this have to do with real estate? 

Well, a LOT of what I do in my real estate career, I learned by raising my kids, running a family household and working a full-time job at the same time.  And a lot of what I learned in the business world I do at home and with my family.  Balancing a family and all that goes along with it is similar to running your own business:  There is a lot of responsibility, endless hours of work but the reward is completely worth it when you feel the unbelievable sense of accomplishment when you can sit back and see everything come together better than you ever imagined.  But the most important thing I have learned is something that I tell my kids all the time:  You never know who is going to be watching you.

A couple weeks ago, we were listening to the sermon in church.  Our newly appointed pastor was asking each and every one of us to go out and set a good example, emphasizing that people see who you are by HOW you are.  Then he said MY magic words:  “You never know who is going to be watching you.”

Ah, cool!  Confirmation that someone else, especially someone of high leadership and standard, says the same thing I do!  If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times:   You just never know when someone is going to be watching you.

In baseball?  You practice like you intend to play, and during games you play like the best recruiter in the country is attending your game.   You always strive to perform better than even YOU think you can!  In business?  You are ALWAYS at your best because you never know when someone that can really make a difference to you is paying attention and is either going to be impressed with you or not, and take your business to a new level.  In school?  Just because it may seem like just another assignment doesn’t mean it won’t be the winning essay that gets you chosen to go on a three week trip to France!  (This, along with playing like a pro in all your volleyball practices where the right person was obviously watching, can make a difference!) 

I had a very dear client that passed away last Christmas.  He was 94 years old.  He was someone who was watching when I didn’t know it. I unexpectedly gained a mentor and friend as a result of him watching and paying attention to how I handled my business.  I met him at an Open House several years ago.  He ran into my broker one day and said, “You know that agent you have in your office, Janie Pugh?  I want her to list all my properties for me when I die.”  A bit blunt, but he was always very straightforward.  I met with him later that week, and I became the Karate Kid:  I would meet with him often, and in our conversations, realized I was learning from the best, absorbed every word, and put it into practice.  He had amazing work ethic and work/life experiences that were almost unbelievable.   During our first conversation, he told me he wanted to meet with me because after the Open House he attended where we met, he was impressed with my follow up and how I handled my business.  

Consequently, I ended up selling him 2 houses and listing and selling 3 three he already owned.  I completed a total of five transactions from one person in a period of 6 years.  What I didn’t realize until much later was that had I not made a good first impression, I would have missed out on spending time with one of America’s greatest World War II Army veterans who consequently helped me develop and polish my business skills and practices.

So I will say it again:  You never know who is going to be watching!    Just as one shoe changed Cinderella’s life, one impression can change yours!

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Friday, April 12, 2013

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing!

I got a call from my daughter the other day,  (she is out of state attending her third year of college) and heard what every parent of a college student dreads hearing:  “Um, I think I just need to take some time off to figure out what I really want to do with my life.”

What I very calmly replied was something to the effect of, “Um, over my dead body!”

Now, I didn’t REALLY say that----at least I don’t THINK I was thinking out loud.  Instead, I gave her some advice, suggestions, ideas, counsel…  Since she goes to school out of state, I can’t just say, come on over, sit down and we are going to talk (some sense into you) about it.  I have to accomplish powerful advisory sessions long-distance which can be a little tricky. 

After talking for a few minutes, I realized the bottom line:  She is burned out and doesn’t know how to handle it. Fortunately for both of us, I have been there, done that, and have a dresser full of t-shirts to prove it!

College students are certainly not the only ones that suffer from burn-out, and sometimes it is not just from keeping a busy schedule and having high expectations of themselves (and pleasing their parents).  Sometimes, you just really don’t like what you are doing, and want to get out, even if you are right in the middle of something---A process, a project, a career, a college education.  Or, it may be that you don’t like the subject or industry, or you don’t like the people you are around every day.  You may despise chemistry (or autoCAD!), or it may just be that you aren’t crazy about the professor and his/her style of teaching.  (Some classes are just impossible to make exciting and fun.)  You are probably burning the candle at both ends and are just plain exhausted. You may be depressed or you may just need a break.  You may be at a point where you just want to call it quits and go do something different.  You may be at a point where nothing is going your way and you are tired of trying, wondering why you are spending so much time and effort doing something that isn’t producing any positive results.  Day in and day out---you are frustrated that things aren’t working out the way you want them to, and the level of anxiety increases.

At this point, so many people make the biggest mistake of all:  they just give up.  But  you can’t just throw in the towel and say, “I’m done!”  You have to make a SHIFT happen, and change the way you are doing things.  Shift gears and do things differently---You don’t have to completely stop what you are doing and go find something different, you just have to continue doing what you are doing in a different way.  Shift your “how” and make it more fun and exciting. Change the music. Adjust your "vision."  Just don't start bedazzling your beakers or using your chemistry test tubes for Saturday night’s party shooters. 

2012 was a challenging year for me.  It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, there were roadblocks everywhere that kept me from reaching my goals.  I felt like I was taking one step forward, two steps back and it was a dance I didn’t know, or WANT to learn, for that matter!  I couldn’t get the steps right to turn the dance around to rock to the beat of my kind of music!  Yes, I was ready to throw in the towel and try something totally different.  I felt like I had no control over my career due to the state of the economy and floundering real estate market, and I felt completely defeated.  I thought maybe all the challenges were a sign that it was time to move onto something other than real estate.

However, (and fortunately for me) there were just as many roadblocks preventing me from finding something else as there were keeping me frustrated with what I was doing.  I was not happy, and everyone around me knew it.  I didn’t like being around myself, so I am quite sure no one else did, either.

Then I experienced shift, and it was a big one!  I attended a technology and marketing class in August.  The class was taught by Juanita McDowell with InMotion Real Estate Marketing, and everything changed.  I re-evaluated my business, changed my vision, took a different approach, incorporated several new business techniques, and it became fun again!  I realized that part of what I had been learning all these years, to focus on the parts of your job that you love and delegate or hire out the parts you don’t, I wasn’t doing.  I was also getting too caught up in what was WRONG that I couldn’t do what was RIGHT!  This way of thinking was all on me---I was the one in control.

So, according to my amazing technology instructor, the “Social Media Diva” was born. (Although I felt more like the Social Media Spongebob---SO much to learn and absorb!)  I learned about social marketing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, business websites, personal websites, maximizing the use of video and photography, and on and on.  (This is when my original Facebook business page, really took off, and my other Facebook page, was born and took on a life of its own.)  I couldn't wait to get home and develop my plan of action.  I stayed up after mignight, and got up at the crack of dawn....EVERY day.  I couldn't WAIT fo get on my computer and start putting my newfound knowledge to work.  This was the music I needed to hear to get me back out on the floor!  (I just love to dance....) 

I have always been a HUGE fan of continuing education, and Juanita’s class certainly didn’t disappoint---It just made me want to take even more classes!  When it comes time to renew my real estate license, I always have a LOT more continuing ed credits than the state requires, but I love to learn.  I take every class I can, whether it is for marketing or not.  I take classes in real estate law, ethics, contracts, real estate tax, business development, environmental hazards, technology, marketing, and so on…..I am like a sponge in these classes.  I think knowledge is power, and I want to seize every opportunity I can to learn what’s new in the real estate industry.  Being caught like a deer in the headlights and having to say, “Um, I am not sure about that, but let me get back to you on that…..” is no fun.  I need to have the answers before the question even come to mind.  Technology is advancing at a staggering rate, and I don’t want to be one of the professionals in my industry that gets left behind because I didn’t stay in the know.  The thing is, continuing ed is another shift that you can control and make happen!  Learning new techniques, methods and trends puts more great music in the room to get you moving into a more exciting career.  I attended a week long series of classes a couple weeks ago that was the first in a series of three toward getting my GRI designation.  It was an all-day, every day, jam-packed-with-information experience that left me with an “information explosion” going off in my head.  By the time I left on day five, I could hardly drive home---I was so excited to have so much new info that I couldn’t wait to use!  We had ended the week with a motivational speaker that had me ready to jump on the table and start screaming, “I love my job!!!!”  (Of course, there would be with some KC and the Sunshine Band playing loudly in the background.  After all, I gotta dance, right?!?)

So you see, I actually dodged a bullet---I almost pulled the plug and left the industry I love.  I felt like my daughter does right now---burned out, frustrated and ready to give up.  Fortunately, though, I didn’t give up, and neither will she.  I had a lot of people that believed in me and had the confidence that I would get through it.  In the long run, life is just a series of choices.  Each choice either takes you closer to your goals, or leads you away from them.  You can either take charge of your life or let your life and circumstances take charge of you.  But by taking charge, you put yourself in the driver’s seat, and you will prosper as a result.

And of course… will dance!

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Let's Play Ball!

Now that everyone is getting back from Spring Break and MLB (Go Atlanta Braves!) has everyone pumped and in the mood, it is time to get back into the Warner Robins American Little League (WRALL) baseball swing and PLAY BALL! Games start back up on Monday, April 8, 2013.

WRALL baseball and softball games started in March and will continue through mid-May when the various All-Star teams start preparing for the tournaments that will play through mid-August.  If you are not familiar with WRALL and the success of this local program, in addition to numerous District and State championships over the years, in 2007, the 11-12 year old division won the baseball World Series, in 2009, the 11-12 year old softball team won the World Series and in 2010, they won the 11-12 year old softball World Series. 

The success of this program is largely due to the hundreds of dedicated players, parents, coaches, and team moms that spend countless hours preparing to play in these games.  There is a lot of "behind-the-scenes" activity before the first ball is pitched, and all deserve a big THANK YOU for all the hard work!

If you are interested in attending these games, the schedules and field info are posted on the website at:  Parking and admission to the games is free, so it is the best entertainment deal in town!  If you are hungry after the game, you can find several nearby restaurants such as El Jaliscience or Casa Mexico (Mexican), the Mellow Mushroom or Stevie B’s (pizza), or Shane’s Rib Shack (barbecue).  And I am sure you will see a few hungry baseball “stars” there, too!

Here's to a wonderful baseball season!  Good luck to all these great kids! 

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Monday, April 1, 2013

It's Not How You Look, It's How You SEE

Do you have a vision that is crystal clear, or is it a little blurry?  When you look at something, is it with just a glance, or do you take the time to really SEE what it is and what it is all about?  When you change how you look at things, you change your attitude and understanding of everything around you. How you see applies not only to tangibles, but to goals, dreams and visions, both personally and professionally!

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Federal Employee Appreciation Days

At the "Community Sequestration Update" that was held a few weeks ago, Bob McMahon, President and CEO of the 21st Century Partnership, strongly encouraged communities to publicly show support of how much our government and military employees mean to us. He recommended that each and every business make every Thursday in April "Federal Employee Appreciation Day", and offer a discount or special deal on those days. I am happy to see one local business, Olympia Skate Center in Warner Robins, taking it to a higher level, offering a 1/2 price admission discount, not only once a week in April, but every day for six months! Kudos to Olympia----I hope to see this catch on in our community, as well as other communities across the country that are being impacted by the sequestration.

If you know of other local businesses that are offering such benefits, please let me know and I will post the details on my Facebook page, “365 Things to do In Warner Robins, GA.” (

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Home for Sale In Warner Robins, GA? Are You Ready for the Sign?

It is almost March, and that means the busy season for real estate is upon us!  If you are planning to put your house on the market, here are some tips for getting your house ready to sell.  And of course, I can come to your home to do a complimentary assessment of your property and provide you with a customized list of things to do to prepare for the installation of the “For Sale” sign in your yard!

Getting Your House Ready to Sell

When getting your home ready to sell, you need to look at your house in a new way. Think of your house as a product about to go on the market where it is probably competing with brand new housing. It needs to show well–which means clutter-free and well kept.

Today’s home buyers lead busy lives and may not be interested in taking on major repairs or improvements upon moving in. You need to make your house a “10”. The following information will help you spot what is right and what is not so good about your “product”.  It will give you the opportunity to take the necessary corrective action to ensure your house looks fresh, clean and well maintained when the “for sale” sign goes up.

Fix It First

If you need to make improvements to your home, do the work before it goes on the market. Potential buyers are not interested in hearing about your good intentions to look after defects before a transfer of ownership takes place. Even if fix-up work is underway, buyers may not be able to visualize what your home will look like when the work is finished. They will just remember it being in a state of disrepair.

Professional Inspection:  Yes or No?

A serious buyer may want to have a professional home inspector check your house from top to bottom before making an offer. Even though this guide will help you identify problems on your own, the option of hiring a professional home inspector is an option to you, as well. If you can afford it, an inspection in advance of putting your home on the market is a good idea. It is your best way of finding and taking care of serious deficiencies before an inspector hired by a potential buyer discovers them.

Let’s Begin Outside

Check Your Curb Appeal
How does your house look from the street? That is where prospective buyers will be when they first see your home; and, that is where they will form that all-important first impression. Stand at the curb in front of your house and note what you see.  Be sure to do any or all of the following, as they apply:

~Remove any clutter in your yard.

~Repair cracked or uneven driveway or walkway surfaces.

~If your lawn has bald spots, apply some top dressing and re-seed. Prune trees and shrubs of dead wood. Weed and mulch flower beds, if you have them. If it is the right time of year, consider buying some flower-filled planters to enhance the eye appeal of your property. Make sure your lawn is mowed regularly.

~Are your windows and walls clean?

~Does your front door need paint? 

~Ensure your eaves and downspouts are clear of debris and in good repair.

~Are your backyard deck and walkways clean? If not, use a power washer and any necessary, painting, staining or sealing.

~If you have a swimming pool, are the deck and pool clean (when in season)?

~Do all outside lights work? Replace any burned out bulbs, and clean fixtures of dirt and cobwebs.

~Is there a shed? Does it look presentable?

~Do the window and exterior door need re-caulking? Even at 6-7 years of age, the caulking may be dried out and in need of replacement.

~Do you have decorative wooden poles on the porch? Is the wood at the bottom in good condition and overall does it need a new coat of paint?
~How does the doorbell look?  Is it operable?  Is the button cracked?  If so, be sure to replace.

~How does the fence look?  If it needs to be replaced and/or repaired, go ahead and do it. If you have a gate, is it well oiled?
When you have completed the curb appeal inspection, carefully check the rest of your home’s exterior.

Will your roof and chimney pass inspection?
If you are uneasy about climbing onto your roof, you can inspect most items from the ground using binoculars. Otherwise, be careful when working or moving about on your roof. Unless roof repair is a simple matter of applying new caulking, you will probably need the services of a professional.

~Check the general condition of your roof. Sagging sections, curled shingles, pooled water on flat roofs and corrosion on metal roofing mean it is time for repair or replacement.

~Both masonry and metal chimneys need to be straight and structurally sound, have proper capping on top and watertight flashing where they penetrate the roof.

~All roofs undergo stress from snow and rain loads so it is possible a truss or rafter may become damaged, resulting in a noticeable small depression. A professional should do this inexpensive repair.
Examine Your Walls
The condition of your exterior walls directly affect the look and curb appeal of your home.

~Replace old caulking. You may have to cut or scrape away old caulking to get a good seal. Do not seal drainage or ventilation gaps.

~Is your exterior paint looking good? If you see faded colors and cracked or peeling surfaces, you need to repaint. Be sure to get competitive bids if you hire professional painters.

~You can clean vinyl siding but defects or damage to it and to metal siding usually means replacement.

~Stucco can be repaired but some skill is required to blend patches with existing stucco.

Now, Let’s Go Indoors

A prospective buyer will usually enter through your front door, so, that is where you should begin your interior inspection. You want your buyer to see a neat, clean, well-lit interior. Get clutter out of sight, ensure that carpets are clean, floors are scrubbed and polished, and that walls and trim show fresh paint (preferably neutral or light colors).

Take a sniff. Are there any unpleasant odors in your home? If so, track them down and eliminate them. Ensure all your lights work and are free of cobwebs. You want your home to look spacious, bright and fresh.

If you have considerable family memorabilia about, consider thinning it out. Your objective is to help potential buyers feel as if they could live in your home. That mental leap becomes more difficult for them if your house resembles a shrine to you and your family.

Professional Realtors® and decorators agree the most important areas of your home to upgrade and modernize are the kitchen and bathrooms. Buyers also want to see new or recently installed floor coverings throughout.

General Interior

~Check stairs for loose boards, ripped carpeting, and missing or loose handrails and guards.

~Most problems with interior walls are cosmetic and can be repaired with spackling compound and paint.

~Ensure doors open and shut properly. Minor sticking is normal but excessive binding indicates possible structural problems.

~Open and close all windows to ensure they work properly. Fogging between the panes of a sealed window indicates the seal is broken and the unit needs to be replaced. Some types of loans will require this repair, and can be costly.
Living Room, Halls, Family Room, Den, Bedrooms
Keep furniture to a minimum so these rooms do not appear smaller than they are. Ensure that traffic can flow in or through these rooms unimpeded. If they contain bookshelves or cabinets overflowing with books, magazines and knick-knacks, remove some of these items. Ensure bedroom closets look spacious, organized and uncluttered. Create space by getting rid of old clothes and junk. Remember to remove or lock away valuables such as: jewelry, coins, currency, cameras, electronics and compact discs.

Kitchens and Bathrooms

~People splash water around in the kitchen and bathrooms so check around sinks, tubs and toilets for rotting counter tops and floors. Problems could be due to poor caulking or plumbing leaks. Fogged windows, molds and sweating toilet tanks indicate high humidity levels, which you can remedy with exhaust fans.

~In the kitchen, clean all appliances, including the oven. Clean or replace your greasy stove hood filter. Make sure appliance light bulbs are working. Clean your cabinets inside and out, as well as counter tops and back splashes. Repair dripping faucets.

~Remove anything stored on top of your fridge and remove artwork and magnets.

~Remove any items stored on countertops. It is fine to leave a few things out, but keep it to a minimum.

~Remove excess  items stored under the sink.

~In bathrooms, scrub sinks, tubs and toilets, taking care to remove any rust stains. Remove mildew from showers and bathtubs. Fix dripping faucets or trickling toilets, vacuum fan grill.

~Clean mirrors, light switch plates and cupboard handles.
~If you have ceramic tile, ensure grout is clean and intact.
The condition of the foundation and main structural members in the basement are critical to the fitness of any house. The purpose of your inspection is to make sure these are sound and durable. Look for cracks, water seepage, efflorescence (white powder-like substance), crumbling mortar or concrete and rotting wood. If any of these problems are present, you need to do further research to learn about causes and possible solutions.

In general, if your basement is damp or musty, consider a dehumidifier. Like all other areas of your home, your basement should be organized and clutter-free.

Change the filters in the furnace and have it cleaned–this is the number one item purchasers want done after a home inspection. If you have a pet with a litter box, ensure it is clean.

Get rid of the broken tools, old car parts, discarded bicycles, empty paint cans and the hundreds of other useless items that accumulate in garages. Again, you want a clutter-free zone. Make sure it is swept out of debris. Use cleaning solutions to remove oil stains from the floor.

When It’s Showtime!

You have inspected your house and taken care of problems. Now you are ready for showings. You will need a plan of action that assigns duties to each family member so the place can quickly be whipped into shape when an agent wants to show your house!

~Open all drapes, blinds, etc. and turn on lights to make the house bright.

~Air out the house to get rid of cooking, pet odors, etc.

~Set out fresh flowers.

~Pick up clutter, and empty garbage.

~Make sure everything is spotless.
~Make sure all toilets have been flushes.
~Empty all trash cans.

~Set your thermostat at a comfortable level.
~Turn on some soft, neutral, background music. 

~Remove pets from the house or put them outside.

~If you have an agent, leave when the house is being shown. If you are selling it yourself, you need to strike a balance between being helpful and crowding the buyer.
~Do NOT light candles or have an overabundance of “plug-ins” throughout the house. There are a couple reasons:  First, many people have strong sensitivities or allergies to various “scents”, and you don’t want them to have to leave quickly due to a headache or sneezing fit.  Secondly, some people see this as a means to cover-up an odor.  If there is a bad odor, it is best to find out where it is coming from and eliminate the source.

~In poor weather, provide a place for boots, overshoes and umbrellas.

~Display photos of house in summer to show landscaping if selling in winter months.

~ If you have listed your house with me, display a few of the customized “Homebooks” I prepared for you.  Put these booklets in a prominent place so the customer will take one for future reference.  (Hopefully, when they are writing an offer on your house!) 
~Leave out utility bills.

~For those on a septic system and/or well, leave out inspection and maintenance information.

Monday, January 14, 2013

26 Random Acts of Kindness

January 14, 2013

Today marks the one month anniversary of the tragic event of the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre, December 14, 2012.  The tragedy was devastating to our country.  Whether you knew someone personally or not, it hit us all hard.  I have never cried so much for people I didn’t know than I did for those helpless victims.  No one can or will ever be able to make any sense out of what happened.

Just as religion and politics have always been the source of controversial and oftentimes, heated conversations, so has the protection of our communities as it relates to gun control. I don’t choose to start a heated discussion over gun control, because this was not merely an assault because there was a gun readily available.  Violence isn’t a one-step solution any more than it is a one-source problem.  There are mental health issues, parental responsibility/accountability issues, gun safety issues, and so on.  None of these are easy issues to address, nor are there any quick fixes. 

The issue of gun control?  I am going to leave that one alone.  I have my own opinion, and I choose to keep that to myself.

As far as the mental health component is concerned?  I can tell you a few things I learned after having worked in the mental health industry for many years:  MANY people do not get the mental health care they should either because they can’t or they won’t.  Many, who ARE diagnosed, refuse to take the medication to control the disease.  Many can’t AFFORD to take medication because they lack insurance.   

So what about parental responsibility and accountability?  I am STILL scratching my head, trying to figure out why the mother of the shooter kept weapons and ammunition in her home, knowing she had a family member with a diagnosed, documented mental disorder. 

I am not going to try to solve all the problems of the world.  I am going to stay in my own vicinity and do what I can in my own way, and that is to start with what I consider to be one of the roots of the problem:  Raising children that are kind and respectful of others.  I grew up in a medical family, and my college degree is in public and community health education.  I was raised and educated to believe largely in preventative measures to avoid potential issues and problems.  You can’t put a Band-Aid on a cancerous tumor and expect it to get well.  You are better off trying to prevent the disease with what we know to be cancer prevention behaviors like eating right, not smoking, etc. The problem with violence needs to be dealt with pro-actively by taking preventative measures. 

Now don’t get me wrong:  I am not saying this will totally solve the problem of violence in our society.  I am merely stating that it is my own personal way of contributing to the solution.  I am but one person, but I would rather not sit around and complain about who is not doing what, or who is to blame for everything that is wrong with the world.  I would rather use that energy doing something positive and constructive to add a bit of awesome to someone’s day---A bit of awesome that may impact them enough to keep in their memory bank for a lifetime, as was the case in several of the examples I gave that I personally experienced.

So 26 Random Acts of Kindness later, and I am hooked.  I had the most peaceful, relaxing and laid back Christmas I have had in a long time, and I attribute it to the fact that my focus was different this year.  I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do to make someone’s day.  I had an eagle eye out to catch other’s “doing good” so I could share those examples.  I can’t walk past a grocery cart in the parking lot without taking it to the front of the store.  I can’t walk past a display of flowers without the urge to buy some for someone.  I can’t let one of my clients move in to their new home without taking them dinner on moving day.  I can’t see a homeless person without extending a helping hand.  My heart is in a different place.  I had a tough year this past year, and spent a lot of time concerned about myself and all the issues and problems I had to deal with and/or figure out.  What I now realize is how trivial those things are in comparison to the loss of so many beloved lives. 

After the murders in Newtown, I decided to dedicate 26 days of kindness to honor each life lost, in search of the good in humankind.  Whether it be a random act I personally did for someone else, one that was performed by one of my kids, husband or other family member, one that had been done to me, or one that was suggested by another:  I decided to focus on being the positive change that I wanted to see.  (Thanks, Gandhi for the great advice!)   The very day I took my mind off myself, and starting to focus on everyone else, everything changed.  I don’t know if the things that bothered me before went away, or if I just quit worrying about what I couldn’t change or control.  As soon as I put my focus in the right place, everything else seemed to take care of itself.  I can’t control the economy.  I can’t control gas prices.  I can’t control whether or not my clients are able to get a mortgage or not.  I can’t control maniacs with guns.  What I can control is my attitude, how I treat others, and the example I set.

I started posting 26 Random Acts of Kindness as a tribute to the children and professionals that lost their lives in the senseless massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, and I plan to do so again starting on December 14, 2013.  I would love for you to send me examples of things you have done, things that have been done to you, or acts you have witnessed.  And with your permission, share them as suggestions for the 2013 Random Acts of Kindness. 

If you haven’t seen the posts, rather than do a re-cap on this blog, you can find them on the daily posts on either of my Facebook pages over the last month: or

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make us realize how lucky we are.  Let’s learn from these sweet babies and the teachers that tried to protect them, and never take a single day for granted.  

Janie Pugh

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