When Grief Knocks: The Harmonious Center of a Churning Hurricane

Many assume real estate brokers are extroverts, outgoing, bar-hopping, dinner partying people. I’m not the expected social butterfly.

eye of the storm image from outer space
Grief can feel like a massive churning of emotions…old and new.

At Long Last, Hope
Last July, I had the privilege of listing a real, historic Capitol Hill beauty. It wasn’t a quick process but a thorough one with two people I’d come to respect and admire over many months, each for their discernment, proactive nature and a true positive look ahead to the next chapter in their lives.

Thankfully, their 17th Avenue East home was sold in just 7 days. Seattle’s market had already begun its slow-down, having reached its peak last May. Hindsight only confirmed my suspicions. Along the way, my clients and I shared excitement, frustration, disappointment and relief, and even though I wanted to pull out my hair (what little there is) more than once while working with the other side, closing day arrived and everybody got what they wanted…or needed.

The day after closing day is when it hit. It’d been 8 months since my father died, and while I gave myself a lot of space to grieve – and to feel or face all kinds of other emotions – the sudden and vast emptiness I experienced after such a busy few months was terrifying. Without additional prospects on the real estate docket, I decided it was time to just be terrified, lost, uncertain about the future and, as my husband noted, less than cheerful. The death of my father presented me with a whole new world, at once familiar and notably peculiar.

In that abyss, with appropriate support, hope emerged along with a bit of faith and some trust. Working to prepare and sell that home on Cap Hill restored a confidence in myself that had gone missing though I didn’t know it. Intuitively, I do know exactly what to do and how to do it or will find out. I’m ultra-careful, super efficient and very organized. I listen, gather or share information and respond effectively. There’s always much to learn in any one real estate deal, but, at the core, I care about the people I get to work with and work tirelessly to get them the best results possible. These are precious qualities I’d forgotten about, and, not only are they useful, I once again recognize their value, if to no one but myself.

Flash: I’m an Introvert
Dangling in the abyss allowed me to piece together some other truths. Here’s one: I finally started to embrace my introverted personality. I’ve never had trouble understanding I’m an introvert, but I’m not sure I ever owned it.

Something I recently read made it really click – “I don’t like small talk, but I can talk about life all day long.” I believe in the journey, the walk along the path toward the next pit stop. That path could include preparing for a month’s stay in Paris, saving for a long, winding train trip through Scandinavia, starting a new business, taking a language class or getting into a new home or shedding an old one.

Many assume real estate brokers are extroverts, outgoing, bar-hopping, dinner partying people. Actually, most people – in or not in the business –  will claim it’s better to be more of an extrovert, even citing it as a requirement for success. Honestly, it seems many brokers are naturally able to stack their calendars with one social event after another, mingling well wherever they are. That’s great for them…but it’s not for me.

I’m not the expected social butterfly infused with boundless energy often found in the real estate profession. I don’t drink or party (sober 29 years…coming up later this month), so I don’t go to bars, breweries or wine-tastings. We don’t entertain at home, so both Roger (also an introvert) and I, over time, find it less painful to be in small groups elsewhere. Forget about mingling in large groups with no particular purpose at hand.

latteDon’t get me wrong. I have a good time…in my own way. You’ll find me salivating with anticipation when a new bakery opens up or sudden free-time means a trip to Espresso Vivace. I don’t enjoy coffee just anywhere though I will try it everywhere. When it comes to local exploration, walking tours, museums, hikes, French classes and good eats, I’m all over it.

And, we also hang at home with our pooch, Sophie, binging the latest British detective show or trying new recipes by The Barefoot Contessa or recently, trying new bakes as seen on the Great British Baking Show. Afternoons, with nothing else going on, will pester me to take a nap…so I often give in. I endlessly try to find what makes Seattle (and me) tick, a pursuit that may never end.

Curiously, I can be IN FRONT OF a group of people, even an auditorium brimming with bright faces. I’m not afraid of the microphone or camera, making a video, being a guest on the radio or showing up on tv. I confer easily in private consultation about your real estate desires and am completely comfortable one-on-five when it comes to conversations about the home we’re standing in during an open house or while bantering about real estate more broadly. In these interactions, there’s clear purpose, making it much easier to be a part of rather than apart from the group. Ultimately, because I’m an introvert, fully loaded with all the qualities that come with it, you’ll have a really smart, thoughtful, thorough, competent advocate – and broker – on your side when it comes time to find or sell a home.

space needle seattle

Be the Curator: Your Seattle Life
Being a Realtor® isn’t really about selling real estate. For some it is – and that’s fine – just not for me. I’ve tried to make it about capturing a sale, but it leaves out the juicy potential for a greater experience. For me, it’s about living in the Pacific Northwest, navigating Seattle, discovering our diverse neighborhoods and connecting with place. While visiting the new Nordic Museum in Ballard recently, one of the mantras seemed to center around an astute “awareness of place.” That awareness, I believe, opens the space for real, human connections, too.

Being a real estate broker is about discovery of another, of place, of self. It’s about being a caring ear and a guide. It’s about gently prying open possibilities or thinking stuck in expectations. It’s about being an advisor and a consultant, an advocate and a manager. It’s about being a part-time curator, a path-builder toward the next story you want to tell.

The next time somebody tells you that you have to be an extrovert to be a “successful” or “good” real estate broker, remember that this life-long, self-embracing introvert advocates for the quality – over quantity – of life’s experiences.

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Contributed by:
(206) 683-9088 | markjacobs@cbbain.com | markjacobs.coldwellbankerbain.com

Ballard | A World of History NOT a World Away

I’d been waiting for an “excuse” to get over to Ballard because it always seemed so out of the way.

Version 3Lately, I’ve taken steps outside my comfort zone. On purpose, and, it’s been pretty neat.

After a lengthy afternoon visit to MOHAI, Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry standing squarely on the south bank of Lake Union, I discovered, among many stories of our region’s past, that European influence was significant. Because Washington was a U.S. territory until it reached statehood in 1889, it surprised me that Spain, Great Britain and Russia had laid claim to land so late in our history. Of course, Native tribes and American interests were well entrenched, too.

My time in MOHAI made me want to learn more about how the Pacific Northwest, and specifically Seattle, grew out of a melting pot of natives, immigrants, cultures, work ethics, commerce and opportunity. With a renewed, piqued curiosity, I know there’s so much that goes into our history – Chinese and Japanese immigrants, the Klondike Gold Rush, Chief Seattle of the Duwamish tribe and the arrival of many of our city’s recognizable families.

I zeroed in on Ballard, where many immigrants from Scandinavia landed after first arriving on the east coast. Feeling more at home because of the Evergreen landscape alongside vast stretches of water, seemingly in all directions, many saw the area as ripe for timber production and fisheries.

The new Nordic Museum popped into mind (current exhibit: The Vikings Begin). I’d been waiting for an “excuse” to get over to Ballard because it always seemed so out of the way. All that traffic, the unpredictable raising of the 15th Ave bridge to allow taller boats through Salmon Bay…and, oh the parking…it’s so hard to park “over there.” Spontaneity won the day.

I make it my mission to find all the good bakeries around Seattle, and I just read about Cafe Besalu in Ballard. Just up the street from the Nordic, I stopped in for a mid-morning pain au chocolat and an 8 oz. latte…my favorite combination. All I can say is that Besalu did not disappoint. More on my passion for local bakeries another time.

See more on Cafe Besalu

The Nordic Museum has quite the presence on NW Market Street, the main drag through the center of Ballard. Architecturally, it’s a clean but stark design with minimal landscaping. Plenty of free parking is available along street but ample paid parking behind the museum (really, the front entrance) is nominal.

Nordic Museum ExtAs I approached the entrance, I’m struck even more by its sturdy simplicity and lack of windows, transported, by imagination only, as to how this building was engineered to protect visitors and contents alike from the harsh winds and winters of Scandinavia.

I couldn’t help but notice the bustling Freya café as I walked in. The menu offers excellent presse coffee (imbibed on a return trip a week later…and so good!), fresh salads or other light Nordic favorites. Already satisfied by my stop at Cafe Besalu, I paid the $15 entrance fee and immediately became mesmerized by the towering, all white, wall map of the Nordic countries. The display offered a simple introduction to this part of our world, prompting such questions as “Do you know which countries make up Scandinavia?” Hint: Only three. Answer below (1).

I continued to admire the clean lines of the Nordic’s interior design, the the exhibits taking center stage throughout. I’d no idea just how much the Nordic people had contributed to the Pacific Northwest, particularly in Ballard.

Slowly walking through these new halls of history, displayed in a straightforward, interesting manner, I became enthralled by their journeys, contributions and innovative spirits. Nordic values – openness, social justice, connection to nature and innovation – are identified as persistent threads throughout their ancestral culture, values that trailed these courageous people across the Atlantic, the American West and into our Emerald region as they settled among the trees or along the banks.

Explore the Nordic Museum

As Ballard’s Nordic settlers proclaimed, all of my renewed interest in regional history has created a deeper appreciation for these noble values that are obviously ingrained in local culture today, but also, they acknowledge an intense “awareness of place” whether in Northern Europe or in what they found in the PNW.

The experience I discovered inside the Nordic Museum moved me to consider not only the countless stories of place itself, but to ponder what my place is in the thread of Seattle’s story.

(1) Scandinavia includes Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Nordic Countries include Scandinavia + Finland and Iceland. The Nordic Council includes the Nordic Countries + Greenland and the Faroe and Aland Islands.

NEAT FACT | Celebrate Chief Seattle every year on August 25th.

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Contributed by:
(206) 683-9088 | markjacobs@cbbain.com | markjacobs.coldwellbankerbain.com