Some Lessons in Flexibility, Gratefulness and Thanksgiving

I’ll just mention up front, I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to find a way to tie this into real estate. So you may experience an abrupt jolt at some point as I shoehorn in a real estate hook from somewhere out of left field.

As I watch the endless stream of thankfulness posts, I nod and smile. I’ve yet to post one myself but it doesn’t make me any less grateful, particularly for my wife happening across a segment on Dr. Oz that discussed gratitude. Keep in mind, we don’t watch the show. We had been watching something on the DVR and the Dr. Oz Show was on the underlying channel when we went back to live television.

Dr. Andrew Weil was the guest so we were spared discussions (and awkward visuals) of people’s colons. Instead, the discussion turned to simple ways we can make our lives a little less stressful – something I’ve struggled with for ages, and particularly during the eight years of sometimes glorious, sometimes hellish self employment. One was a simple breathing technique … more on that in a bit. The other was the creation of a gratitude journal.

To be honest, my efforts to keep such a journal have been intermittent at best. But the underlying idea – to make myself aware of the good in my life rather than focusing on the challenges and the stress – has been at the forefront of my mind. This idea, merged with my own strong sense of self responsibility (I may not always do the things I should, but I own my choices nevertheless rather than pointing fingers) has created a somewhat different outlook.

Life is too short to be spent searching for excuses why things aren’t working out, or allowing the challenges we face to hide the good we have.

Want a silly example? The odometer in my van rolled over 150,000 miles this past weekend as the wife and I drove back from a Counting Crows show in Tucson. Needless to say, seeing that number on an odometer is worrisome in general. And then I realized a couple of things …

  • Tucson was in our rear-view mirror. Okay, so that’s snarky. But we just watched the Counting Crows live and had a great dinner at the Casino del Sol in Tucson.
  • Many, many of those miles have come in the pursuit of real estate transactions that keep food on the table, gas in the tank and a roof over our head.
  • The car’s still running and will continue to do so into the future as long as I maintain it and make any repairs as needed.
  • Whatever the cost of those repairs, they certainly will be less expensive than the cost of a new car.

Honestly, that kind of thinking is somewhat new to me. And it absolutely beats muttering, “oh shit, the car’s at 150,000 miles” as I would have a year or so ago.

(sound of needle scratching across a record … and if you don’t know that sound, ask your parents)

There are 11,200 single family detached homes on the market in Maricopa County right now … levels are holding steady. Just in case you wanted to know.

(music starts playing again)

One other change, and one that’s far more recent, is an experiment in yoga. Dr. Weil had some basic breathing techniques which definitely can lead to some calm; until I went into congestive heart failure back in 2010, I don’t think I appreciated the benefits of a deep breath anywhere near so much as I have since.

The first trip to the studio, my mind was a little bit of everywhere and coming back mostly to “you’ve got to be kidding me.” There are some things a man with a paunch simply can’t pull off, at least until that paunch is gone. But, really, that’s kind of the end goal. I also had gone with my wife and found myself watching her and worrying about how she was handling the heat and the poses, even though she’s been in yoga classes for a few weeks now, rather than focusing on my own movement.

This past Sunday I made a second trip and, while I still started laughing at the idea of keeping one foot on the ground and pointing the other at the sky, I also was able to retreat into myself more and more to feel what my body was telling me. (I can’t repeat some of what my body said as this is an almost family show.)

None of this is to say the two trips to a yoga studio have been transformative in and of themselves, but placed on top of the gratitude journal and other discoveries of the past year, all seem to be coming together to create a sense of peace that often is hard to find in general, much less in a career where we wake up every day essentially unemployed and start working from scratch.

As I said at the top, this has virtually nothing to do with real estate but with Thanksgiving coming in two days (and the attendant hangover the day after), it seemed as good a time as any to get some of these thoughts on virtual paper. And, with some work and maybe a touch of luck, a year from now we’ll come back to this post and all of us will see things as even better than they are now.

That, my friends, would be my Thanksgiving wish for us all.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.

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