A Lesson In Gratitude from an Amazing Man

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

I've been thinking about this post for a couple of weeks now, since I met a man at his book party named Michael Morton - author of a new book called Getting Life

The invitation to the party came from my friends, Ann and Alan Morrison.  Their daughter, Nina, is an attorney for the Innocence Project, an organization that represented Morton, and many other people, who wound up in jail after wrongful convictions. 

The day of the party, I was feeling as close as I get to depressed.  I had just had two large transactions fall apart, and a third was on life support after a bummer appraisal.  I had been downright whiny all day, so much so that I didn't dare go into the office (a No Whine Zone).  And as soon as Michael Morton began to speak, I realized how completely blessed my life actually is.

In 1986, Morton's young wife was brutally murdered in their suburban Austin, Texas home while their 3-year old son was in the house.  After a cursory investigation, the local prosecutor managed to send Morton to jail for life for this crime, mostly by hiding exculpatory evidence from Morton's defence lawyers.  After 25 years in prison, he was completely exonerated when DNA evidence that had never before been tested led to the real murderer - who had killed at least one other woman while Morton was in jail. 

So wow!  I thought I had problems!  When he signed my book for me, I told him about my crazy day and thanked him for helping me see how trivial my little drama was in the whole scheme of things.  I was supposed to be at his book party that night.

In his talk and later in his book (I couldn't put it down), he spoke of the life he lost, of surviving 25 years with some really scary guys (real murderers) in a penitentiary in Texas, and of he great legal team that worked for many years to get him released. 

And when I finished this great book, it was clear that Michael Morton gets gratitude.  I marveled at little things that kept him going while in jail.  He made the best of what little opportunities came his way, finishing his bachelor's degree and then getting a masters.  He learned to write really well.  He was grateful for the chance to watch new life forming as a family of birds moved under the eaves just outside of his cell windows.  He wound up on a prison farm south of Houston for a while, complete with nasty fire ants and poisonous snakes.  And he eloquently described how wonderful the dirt smelled after the rain. 

During his 25 years behind bars, Morton never gave up on the strong belief that this "misunderstanding" would be set right.  And after he was exonerated, he was amazingly generous to the bad actors who put him away.  He came away from this unthinkable experience with an open heart, and he created a new life filled with love and new possibilities - and making a difference.  

When I got home from the party, I was still a little wee bit down until I opened the front door to Willie the Labradoodle with his rapidly wagging tail and Millie the kitten who, the second I sat down, jumped onto my lap, began to purr and licked my hand.  I have a funky but amazingly comfortable house, a real bed with soft linens, and a refrigerator full of delicious food of my own choosing.  I can get into my car and head off to Skyline Drive or Rock Creek Park or Kansas, for that matter. Any time I want to, I can rev up my laptop and blog or check in with my friends on Facebook.  I have an amazing extended family and a great circle of friends. 

There is just so much that I was (am) taking for granted! 

So where am I going with this?  How will it impact my approach to real estate for next year?  The next bunch of years? 

There will be a downsizing in my future, and I'm looking for a large condo or cooperative complex where I would enjoy living and creating a niche.  And I'm convinced that looking at everything through a filter of thanks has got to impact relationships with both clients and with colleagues.  And putting together my 2015 business plan through the lens of gratitude is going to, well, interesting.  And bottom line?  It's going to include a whole lot of ways to say Thank You!


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Pete Xavier
Investments to Luxury - Pacific Palisades, CA
Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide

Amazing story!

And like you I thought I had problems, but thankfully not to this extent.

Nov 30, 2014 02:50 PM #1
Jeanne Dufort
Coldwell Banker Lake Country - Madison, GA
Madison and Lake Oconee GA

Thank you so much for sharing! We do best when we remember to look at life through many lenses, not just our own.

Nov 30, 2014 07:53 PM #2
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning again Pat. This is some story and I am going to get this book. Thank you for sharing.

Nov 30, 2014 10:08 PM #3
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Wow, that is a terrific story and thanks for sharing it with all of us today!

Nov 30, 2014 10:46 PM #4
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Thank you for your comments.

One of the points that Morton made in his talk was that he was completely your "Average Joe" with the pretty wife, cute kid, house in the suburbs and fun job.  And I wanted to see the prosecutor rot in jail for the next 25 years, but Morton was so forgiving! 

Dec 01, 2014 01:49 AM #5
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

I'd heard about him/the book on local media.

I struggle to forgive the moron who cut me off in traffic. Contemplating how Michael could forgive, that surely will come to me next time someone cuts me off (surely within the next few days).  The more I think of this, the better person I will be.

Thank you for this.

Dec 01, 2014 02:02 PM #6
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

What an awesome story this man must have to share, and we get to see things through a different set of glasses. Good to see that you can apply this gratitude into the next year Pat.

Dec 03, 2014 07:36 AM #7
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Pat, I love this post. We are so fortunate and often take that for granted. Then we meet someone like this and we're just in awe.

Dec 03, 2014 01:08 PM #8
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Pat we are so lucky to be here and not have drama like that in our lives...what a story and to remain well balanced in spite of all the negatives thrown in his way is incredible...Endre

Dec 03, 2014 03:22 PM #9
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Amazing story losing a wife and then losing 25 years. This is a wonderful example of gratitude. 

Dec 07, 2014 11:50 AM #10
Judith Parker
ProStead Realty - Charlotte, NC
CRS, GRI, CMRS, Charlotte, NC

Good morning Patricia ... you just made my day.  What a beautiful story and how it changed your day.  Love how you were welcomed home and how it made you feel so grateful.  Love the idea of doing our business plans from a place of gratitude.  Have a wonderful day and thank you!!

Dec 09, 2014 07:31 PM #11
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond

Pat, it is amazing sometimes how something like this man has to shake us up a bit to realize how blessed & good are lives are...I am always amazed how these wrongly incarcerated people are able to come out so well.

Dec 10, 2014 09:44 AM #12
Bette Gottwald
UNITED REAL ESTATE | Central PA - Mechanicsburg, PA
"Bet"on Central PA Real Estate!

Pat, thank you for sharing this touching story.  I hope and pray Michael Morton continues to speak out on this issue. Our society cannot afford to have sloppy prosecutors controlling our system of justice.  Getting Life  is on my reading list.

Dec 14, 2014 12:31 PM #13
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Patricia Kennedy

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