Lessons Learned This Summer: The Good, The Bad, and The Not-So-Pretty

Managing Real Estate Broker with Coldwell Banker Realty VA #0225181914

I joined ActiveRain earlier this year with the intention of blogging several times a week and to really get my name out on the Internet. I was very fortunate to start off my writing for AR with several features, and as I have started and stopped many blogs, I realize I am more about quality than quantity. I've written about things that are related to real estate and things that are not. A constant in my writing is about family, spending time with them, having and making memories, caring about them, and above all, loving the hell out of them. My own family is of utmost importance to me, but I also recognize and treasure the value of family for everyone, whether they're blood related or not. It's important to be a part of something greater than yourself, where your needs don't always come first, and self sacrifice can reap great rewards for both yourself and people you love. 




As my family and I have gone through some painful and emotional journeys this summer, prospecting for new business has all but gone out the window. I learned that sometimes, if in the position to do so, investing in family makes you richer in many ways. I used this summer to spend time with my kids, to nurture and help them through the difficulties they have faced, and to make what I hope are happy and lasting memories for them. Nothing made me more happy and a little whistful, too, at the beach last week as I heard them share happy memories from the 17 summers we have been going to that beach. Small clips of moments that seemed insignificant at the time are part of their stories: dinner with just mom, playing in the bay, catching a sea horse, riding a ride at the amusement park, or that time a bird pooped on my head at the beach. There are so many wonderful things to look back on, and how fortunate that sometimes it's easier to remember the good times over the bad ones.



At the beginning of the summer I took a listing from an old friend. For years I have talked to her every May about the possibility of selling, and this year was finally the year as they were relocating of the area. There was much excitement early on, but as feedback came back about the house and the price, and as comps dropped, that ended quickly. Nothing would convince them to drop to a price I recommended, and right before the end of our listing agreement I was told they wanted to withdraw because it was my fault the house didn't sell. I never expected to have it put that way to me, and did I ever feel bad. I learned the very valuable lesson not to continue with an overpriced listing or with sellers who find fault with you when things don't go the way they want, or ask for advice but then won't follow it. 

I learned some other things, too. In my haste to clean before an agent viewed my house, I grabbed a bottle of Orange Glo and began spraying and mopping my hardwoods. After finishing almost all of them, I realized it was furniture polish. Our floors were super shiny and probably slippery for the showing, but after wiping them with white vinegar and water they were cleaner than they had been since they were new. That is my favorite new way to clean the floors.

As I inch upon another birthday and realize I am going to be the mother of an adult very soon, I've learned that everything that used to seem so important to me: how I looked, what people thought, projecting the "right" appearances, are just not. 

A college roommate of mine beat cancer a couple of years ago, and does whatever she thinks sounds fun. She recently graduated from pole dancing classes because "why not"? I'm learning to adopt that attitude. Last week I went boogie boarding for the first time in my life. I have never  really enjoyed the water (too afraid of sharks) and didn't want to embarrass myself, so this was way outside my comfort zone and really surprised my kids. Over and over I ran into the water, floating on a board small enough for a five year old, sometimes not going anywhere, other times being tossed and thrown under water. I laughed, I watched people laugh at me, and although I knew I looked like a fool, I didn't care. As I rode into the surf on a big wave I yelled, "Whee!" and saw my 17 year old smiling at me from the beach. Later I heard she said, "Look at her, she is having so much fun!" 











Posted by

Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Branch Vice President

Coldwell Banker Realty

Woodbridge, VA


You know that joke, "My mind is like my web browser. 19 tabs are open, 3 are frozen and I have no idea where the music is coming from"? - yeah, that's me. So many thoughts and ideas I need a place to write them down since no one will give me my own reality tv show. I am passionately addicted to helping others achieve success. I'm out to change the world one happy person at a time by sharing my knowledge, my heart, and my sense of humor each and every day.

Comments (13)

Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


I really enjoyed reading this personal side of you and all that's happened in recent months. I'd say you have your head on pretty straight as far as what's really important in your life and for your family, and the things can just be let go...not always easy to do.


Aug 23, 2016 04:15 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Thanks, Jeff Dowler , I appreciate the kind words. Thanks for reading.

Aug 23, 2016 05:06 AM
Larry Johnston
Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN

Hi Chrissi Chapman Topoleski , Take it from one who has been there.  Your children grow up too fast, then they have a life of their own.  Enjoy them while you can.....and as far as the listing, don't feel bad, because that is very common in this profession.  You can show them all the CMAs in the world, but if they don't take your advice and it doesn't sell, it's always the agents fault.  Enjoy the rest of your Summer. (Then get back to work..Lol)

Aug 23, 2016 04:59 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Hi Larry Johnston great advice all around. Tomorrow is the first day of school so back to work I go, too! 

Aug 23, 2016 05:06 AM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Sometimes it takes some "life turning/changing" events to truly discover what is important....and while the changes may not have been pleasant at the time...the end result was a realization of the really important things to value.

Aug 23, 2016 06:16 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

You're right, and sometimes it takes many of those events! 

Aug 24, 2016 04:35 AM
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Valuable lessons learned Chrissi Chapman Topoleski ...I love this post!

Aug 23, 2016 12:17 PM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Lisa Von Domek 

Aug 24, 2016 04:35 AM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

So sorry you had to learn that, please do not let it get in way of your future relationships.  Give your all to each and every person you work with. Don't hold back or that person who hurt you will still be controlling your emotions.  They are not worth it.

Aug 24, 2016 05:54 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

You're right. It was therapeutic to write this and now time to move on!

Aug 28, 2016 03:05 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hi Chrissi -- thanks for sharing your personal experiences as well as lessons learned in business(and in life) --- moving forward is the right direction and it certainly seems you are well-prepared for the good times.  

Aug 26, 2016 12:39 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

I appreciate it!

Aug 28, 2016 03:05 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for sharing some of your summertime experiences and adventures.

You will never regret the quality time spent with your family.

Aug 27, 2016 08:15 PM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

You're right. Thank you!

Aug 28, 2016 03:06 AM
Robert Bob Gilbert
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties - Katy, TX
Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert

This is an excellent post and certainly all of us can feel your love of family and setting priorities way beyond this Real Estate. 

Aug 28, 2016 03:04 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Thank you , I appreciate the comments!

Aug 28, 2016 03:06 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Chrissi Chapman Topoleski, Thanks for sharing this with us.  You are a special person.  I am glad your college friend beat cancer.

Aug 29, 2016 12:41 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Thank you Will Hamm for your kind words. I am so glad she beat it, too. She is such a special person and touches everyone she meets!

Sep 01, 2016 11:26 PM
Brigita McKelvie, Associate Broker
Cindy Stys Equestrian and Country Properties, Ltd. - Lehigh Valley, PA
The Broker with horse sense and no horsing around


Life is full of lessons and experiences.  Some good, some bad.  Wish many more people would learn from them.  Enjoyed reading about your personal experiences.  Thanks for sharing them and your family stories.


Aug 30, 2016 03:17 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Thank you Brigita McKelvie . I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

Sep 01, 2016 11:26 PM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

Chrissi Chapman Topoleski hard to believe you joined less than a year ago. You are already a seasoned pro and your blogs are outstanding. I have enjoyed reading them. I love your positive outlook with this summers challenges you faced. 

Sep 01, 2016 11:03 PM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

I really appreciate that Scott Godzyk . I've always loved to write, so blogging is something I really enjoy. 

Sep 01, 2016 11:28 PM
Mary Yonkers
Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate - Erie, PA
Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor

Oh my, Chrissi Chapman Topoleski , what a summer you have had!  

Yes, take time to enjoy your kids and your own life.  

Ugh, it is hard to loose a listing or sale with friend/relative/coworker but as other have said here that is real estate. The agent always get blamed; the client/customer does not accept any blame what so ever

Sep 02, 2016 08:49 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Hi Mary, you're right. That initial sting can be hard to take, but it's the nature of the business and so you move on!

Sep 04, 2016 06:42 AM
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Chrissi Chapman Topoleski what a wonderful insight into you! Thank you for sharing this. I took a lot of time off last year from blogging to put my family back together (and myself) after my husband had a stroke. He is good, back on his feet, but oh the toll it took on me. Thankfully my girls and grandkids are right here, so I had family all around. A few other things happened that I have now put behind me, and my father died just as I was coming up for air! 

And about your friend, the new and improved version of myself understands ones need to blame others instead of owning up to what we ourselves create in our lives. Move on, no time for that in your life. It is far too short and that type of behavior is NOT on the fun things to do list!!!

Sep 05, 2016 03:45 AM