I can't wait for 2019 to be over . . .

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Cornerstone Business Group Inc 0225086119

I vaguely remember saying, "I can't wait for 2019 to be over." I was looking for a reset and little did I know how much 2020 was not the reset I was looking for. In 2019 and early 2020, I lost 13 friends and families members from July 11th forward. One of those included my mother. I did the eulogies on a number of them, including hers. My father-in-law had a heart attack and a stroke. I ended up in the hospital on Tuesday (I did give my delightful nurse a business card) and my wife ended up in the hospital on Friday. It seemed like I spent most of waking hours in a hospital room or a funeral home, and I entered 2020 feeling exhausted and wrung out. 

Like many people in business, I look at the first of the year as a chance to reset, relaunch, and plan bigger and bolder dreams. When the year started out with more deaths I was frustrated. It wasn't because the deaths were taking up my time or causing me heartache, but it was more of a deep sense of loss that I would never be able to get back. In that, I was terribly sad and blue. I use the word blue because we all have blue moments. I always told my counseling clients that blue moments are normal. We all get a little depressed or blue when things take something from us, hurt us deeply or disappoint us in ways we're not accustomed to. Blue days are normal, but blue weeks or months are not. At that point, we should seek help.

If you've followed my blog at all, you know I tend to be pretty upbeat most of the time. When 2020 started off like 2019 ended, it wasn't what I expected, but what was coming made 2019 look like a picnic. The deaths subsided late in February. Covid-19 took over the headlines early in the first quarter and a "new normal" was born. Now what? What was I supposed to do?

Well, I looked at the world I'm in instead of the one I'd like to be in and I made new plans. I used the downtime to take courses I never have time to take. I learned new things, read more books, listened to more webinars and attended online classes. I even binge watched a few shows I've heard about but could never get free long enough to see them. I made long overdue repairs on my house, organized my stuff, cleaned, repaired and modified my cars, fixed a few used Rug Doctor carpet cleaners, opened my pool, caught up on my lawn, sold off long overdue items that I've wanted to sell forever, and generally found positive ways to use the downtime.

How you deal with any crisis in your life is your choice. You may not have been trained throughout your life to take the positive approach to your responses, but you can learn to do it. I was just chatting with a colleague about a conversation I had a while back. In that, a friend had worked terribly hard on a project. When she was done, her employer didn't like the result and told her to start over. She got mad and quit her job. Before she quit, she came and asked me what she should do. 

I asked her, "Did they pay you throughout the creating process?" Yes. "So, your pay was not conditioned on the project outcome?" No. "What's the problem? They're willing to pay you again to do the project over." Well, she quit her job at great expense. The truth is, she received everything she was promised. She received a paycheck every week, and she had a great place to work. But, she allowed her emotional response to put her in a precarious place.

Many of us have done that. We misinterpret a comment and get mad at someone who doesn't even know we're mad. We read an email and get ticked off, but remember, emails and texts are a flat surface and they have no emotion or visual context. We take a slight and make it a fight. I have a basic rule of thumb when it comes to people. I assume everyone loves me until they tell me otherwise. That keeps me from trying to make people love me. I just assume they do.

You are the author of your response to everything that happens to you. You may be programmed to react poorly, but that is something you can change. This year hasn't turned out like I expected, but I'm grateful that I'm healthy, surrounded by people I love and who love me and I have the privilege of making my little corner of the world better. Does it get any better than that? I will see those I've lost again, and I'll continue to help others where the opportunities arise, and maybe, just maybe I'll get my garage cleaned out. Cheers to the second half of 2020, and let's hope it has lots of positive surprises for us. We're overdue.

Comments (40)

Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

I was not a positive thinker about a decade ago.  Now, I don't know any other way.  I am proof you can retrain your way of thinking and have a better life to show for it.  Doesn't mean everything aligns perfectly, but the fact that it doesn't isn't keeping you down all day, every day.  You can appreciate the things you have and the moment.  The smallest things begin to matter more than the big things.

Jul 11, 2020 06:04 AM
Anita S. Zahn
Advantage Realty 863-840-1420 - Sebring, FL
Highlands County Real Estate Source! I work 4 U!

Sounds like we had the same 2019,  I feel for you. I also wanted big change for 2020,  I said the same thing about 2020 its got to be better than 2019.  I'm am the glass is half full in our house.  2020 has had some postive changes, my husband finally after 36 years beleives that what is ment to be is just that, when things dont work out they are not supoose to be.  When I say I'm not feeling this or we're not suppose to do this there is usally a better alturative you just have to look for it, and it will all come into place without the struggle.  Always be postive!

Jul 11, 2020 06:40 AM
Kathy Booth, Setting the Stage
Setting the Stage - Newmarket, ON
Home Staging and ReDesign Professional

Thank you for your positive and inspirational message.   My year started off with losing my mom.  Dealing with the loss and her estate was difficult, then Covid happened.  The bright side is that our family bond with my siblings and my husband is ever stronger as we work together during these unprecedented times.  We cannot control what’s happening around us, but learning to react to certain situations with a positive approach, as you mentioned is a healthy way to live.

Jul 11, 2020 06:50 AM
Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Hi Mike, first of all, so sorry to hear about the loss of your loved ones. And then to bring on the pandemic next, well, you my friend made the best of it clearly.  I've always seen you as a positive leader and thinker. And this excellent post is another bright spot in everyone's day.  For me,  2020 ended up going  in a totally different direction as it has for many of us. I've made some big choices and it's brought me to a place I'm enjoying to the max. Who knew!! More later....

Jul 11, 2020 09:02 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

I have a 104 year old aunt in Berkerly. A relative asked me if she has passed away. She can not hear well.  I will not call her asking someone thinks you have left us. You are still here.

This is not a good year for many people. 

I wish you the best of all,

Sam Shueh

Jul 11, 2020 09:59 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

"You are the author of your response".  Truer words have never been typed.

Jul 11, 2020 10:19 AM
Greg Mona
West USA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

Jeez, Mike Cooper, GRI you certainly went through the wringer last year, and now all of this in 2020! I admire you for your resilience, and I wish you peace moving forward. Attitude is so important as a rule, but for all of us, this year especially, it is vital for our mental well-being and peace of mind. Thank you for sharing your story.

Jul 11, 2020 11:45 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

First, I am so sorry for the losses you have suffered recently.  The older I get, the more that happens and I thank feel blessed every morning I wake up and troop myself off to the pool at my club.  Except for the 2-1/2 months when we were sheltered in place. That was a time of intro spection for me ie. what do I really want to do with TODAY and WITH THE REST OF MY LIFE? Many of my friends couldn't deal with it, always straining to get whatever it was over with so they could continue their "normal" life. They could/did not comprehend that "normal" isn't coming back! I found some inner peace, recognizing that what I was doing with myself is exactly what I want to do: being an independent real estate broker, dropping a whole bunch of projects that had taken up a lot of my time but weren't profitable for me any more. This leaves me with extra time to have time for myself and I don't fill them just to pass the time.  Others, like you, got those long delayed chores done.  Not me. I took long walks on the beach in the evenings and looked at sunsets and smelled the ocean.  I started to cook for myself, something I haven't wanted to do for years, to tell the truth. Watched a whole bunch of Amazone Prime stuff.  During the day, I was really busy with some real estate clients.  This has continued after the sheltering in place was over with.  I'm really busy! but in a calm way, if that makes sense. That introspection I think really paid off. I won't get stressed over things I have no control over. And I am super curious what will happen for the rest of the year and 2021.  I know it won't be back to "normal".

Jul 11, 2020 01:21 PM
Raymond Denton
Homesmart / Evergreen Realty - Laguna Beach, CA
Laguna Beach Realtor

The grass is never greener on the other side of the hill.  It is what it is - we've got to learn to apprecite every moment available, for as long as we're on this side of the ground.

Jul 11, 2020 01:32 PM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Thank you for being so open, I love your life mantra, I assume people love me till they tell they don't. A good outlook on life. Life hands us challenges all the time, you have definitely had more than a handful. I am sure your "luck" is changing and things are going to turn around. Keep trimming the sails, and keep moving forward my friend. Love your upbeat attitude no matter what life is throwing at you.

Jul 11, 2020 02:37 PM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

A very thoughtful blog...overall though a positive theme!  I often tell my (now young adult) children:  life would be boring if there weren't ups and downs, sadness as well as joy, tough times and challenges plus easy deals, simple delights and pleasures.  We appreciate every single day and I know you do. Attitude makes all the difference!

Jul 11, 2020 02:40 PM
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


I haven't been on AR recently.  When I saw your name and title, I wanted to read your blog post.   Incredibly sorry for your losses.  That is overwhelming and disheartening.  Will keep you and your "people" in my prayers.  "People" is  reference my husband's grandmother used to have: "who are your people?"     It's a huge loss to lose that many.


The challenge is you never do know what is around the corner.  Last year I had crazy health issues.  Was truly worried about this for 2020, but it's one of my better years of Real Estate.  Market is strong, my "sphere of influence" is helping in a way I couldn't image last year.  

Life is definately a "marathon" as is business.  An attitute that is positive is critical.  

I share that I have 4 "P's" that pretty much sum me up:

1. Prayerful.  I have a strong faith and rely on it.

2. Positive.  The cup is always "half full" and I've had a lot of things that could challenge that, but it's how I'm wired.  I look for the best.

3. Pro-active - What do I need to do to move forward.

4. Practical.   Folks get excited about a lot of things that really aren't important to me.  One lady I know and was at an event with complained how her life was off as she needed a manicure.  If that's her biggest concern - her life is amazing.  It was bizarre. 

Now, today's environment makes life even more challeging with the political - nastiness and Covid virus and change in everyone's life because of virus.  

I am a social animal, meaning I really enjoy being around people.  Now I zoom, after getting through the first few months of Covid - I am calling more and just reaching out.  Yesterday, I called someone I haven't talked to in years, the ex in-law.  I've been telling a great positive story about how well my family member and her, very nicely co-parent their daughter and how truly wonderful that is.  I've told gthe story to lots of folks, but just five years later told her.  

The challenge today is to focus on the positive and work to move forward.

Thanks for writing your blog post, I think you have generated a good idea for a post for me. 

All the VERY best, Michelle

Jul 11, 2020 03:30 PM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD

Thanks, Michelle. I'll look forward to reading it. I didn't realize you are in Atlanta. I've been working on a doctorate in Lithonia, GA at Luther Rice. I'm almost finished, but when I'm down next time, maybe I can take you and "your people" out to dinner. 8-)

Jul 11, 2020 05:29 PM
Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 570-801-5525

Mike, deepest heartfelt condolences on your losses.  It sounds like your wife is doing well now, very good news.  You are more than a survivor, you are conscious and know you are in control of your responses to life.  You find the light in the tunnel and trust your proven instincts no matter how tough the going is.  Thanks for sharing this personal story, inspiring to me and many.  I'm sure buyers and sellers in your market will see your inner strength and realize if you can conquer all that, their real estate challenges will be in the best possible hands.

Jul 11, 2020 03:44 PM
Rob Spinosa
Guaranteed Rate, Marin County, CA - San Anselmo, CA
SVP of Mortgage Lending, Marin County

Great post.  "Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live." ~Robert Kennedy

Jul 11, 2020 04:08 PM
M.C. Dwyer
Melody Russell Team at eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

What an amazing philosophy of life you embrace.      I especially enjoyed that you assume all people love you (YAY!),  the reminder that we are in charge of our reactions to things, and that e-mails and texts are emotionally flat, so be careful not to get bent out of shape over them.   I'm so glad  you share this and that I read it - thank you.   

Jul 12, 2020 12:18 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

GREAT post!  Well said.  Turning a negative into a positive and using your time wisely with projects and things you'd like to complete, is a great use of time. Turning things around the way you did releases a lot of negativity I would imagine.  Good for you!

Jul 13, 2020 12:25 PM
M.C. Dwyer
Melody Russell Team at eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

It struck me again that you lost 13 people you cared for in the space of one year.  I'm not sure how you manage to maintain such a constructive outlook: you must be a very resilient person.   Two of my clients passed away over the past year (one in her 60s and one in his 40s); that was unnerving enough for me.  I'm sorry you went through so much loss.

Jul 15, 2020 08:29 AM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD

M. C., I have a deep faith. I know I'll see many of them again. I was the speaker at the funerals of some, including my mother. I try to use humor and great memories. In her case, she was falling into dementia. That resulted in her being nasty to some (me included) who loved her dearly. I used our time to reflect on the person she had been, explain the changes she went through and to ask forgiveness and understanding from those whom she had offended. It was a nice time of healing for all. It has been a year as of July 11. Those 13 deaths happened over 8 months. 

Jul 15, 2020 08:37 AM
Barbara Tattersall
Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan (Keene,NH) - Keene, NH

I'm so sorry for your losses.  It's almost shocking to lose loved ones- even when you know they are very ill.  This year has had all of us wondering "what's next"! But by putting one foot in front of the other, it's amazing just how  resilient we are. 2020 has been a year of stepping back, appreciating the life we have and planning for he future. There is always a silver lining. 

Jul 20, 2020 04:24 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Ha - and we were all so glad to see 2020 go - only to have it replaced by 2021 - hopefully things will begin to get better!

Jan 22, 2021 08:29 PM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

What a long strange trip it's being... and continues to be.  Make the most of it, as that's all we can do.

Apr 27, 2021 02:48 PM