What's Your Story? My February 2022 Challenge Companion

Real Estate Agent with Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 CA BRE# 01261476

This post is not my entry: it's a companion to my entries. My two entries linked below contain pieces of this post; so to tie the stories together though, I've included this post for a chronological account of my story.

Post 1 will be about how your experiences have affected your personal life and what your book would be about.

Post 2 will be about how your experiences have influenced your professional life and what your book would be about.  

1989 after my hands were 80% amputated.

*I was born in The Bay Area in the great city of San Mateo, CA which is 30 minutes south of San Francisco, 30 minutes north of San Jose and 30 minutes east of Half Moon Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

*My parents divorced when I was 2.5 years old and my mom remarried a wonderful man Serge, when I was 5 years old, and he passed away from cancer 11 days before I turned 11 years old. This led to a fractured relationship with my mom, eventually she threw me out of the house and I lived in my car for the fall/winter of 1985, then eventually my grandparents took me in so I could finish high school and graduate, which I did.

Fun Fact: I graduated 9 years before Tom Brady did from the same high school – we both attended Serra High School in San Mateo and my ex-wife used to babysit Tom when he was kid.

* The influences in my life have been many: My grandparents, my stepdad, my mom, my Tae Kwon Do instructor Chris Jensen (who I remain in touch with 40 years later), author Michael E. Gerber, business coach Brian Buffini, influencer Jim Rohn, my son and my bride-who's own story is an amazing one of courage.

Ailina & I at one of my DJ Gigs Dana Hotel Mission Bay 2007

* My wife has traveled the world 3 times; I got my first passport when I married her. I honeymooned in Tahiti, Bora Bora and Morea. I have visited my roots in in Italy and Ireland and loved both. I’ve had 2 trips planned to Japan, both cancelled due to family issues that kept me home – not sure what it is about Japan, but I’m going one day! 

I have road tripped and camped all over California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington and I’ve travelled to Orlando FL, Boston, MA, spent Christmas in New York and “enjoyed a few hours” the airports of Atlanta, Chicago and Paris, France. Home away from home for me has always been Lake Berryessa, CA (Napa County) and Wailea, Maui, Hawaii.

I’ve spent the best times there in my childhood on the lake fishing, hunting, learning to build and operate boats, waterskiing and very much coming of age there. Maui has been a great escape for me since 1975 and I used to go often, last few times included marrying Ailina in 2002 and renew our vows in 2012. Several trips in between, and we will return this year for our 20th anniversary! 

Alma (my son's girlfriend) & Wyatt (my son w/shaved head for police academy) , Thomas & Ailina 1/2020 


My experiences have influenced my professional life

* My interests are #1 music: I play guitar and drums, I was a DJ for 30 years and I love concerts, music trivia and history. Beyond that, I love books, gardening, travel and hiking. All have taught me to explore, be patient, be willing to trail blaze, being lost is only discovering new places off agenda, perfect practice makes good to great, research and study enhance these experiences and best of all, I learned to ask for help and collaborate with others.

* My life-altering experiences I’ll only list, as they are each a blog or book(s) on their own:

  • In 1985 I was homeless, living in my car for 3 months at 16yrs.
  • In late 1987/early1988 at 19 years of age I started what would become Nelson Entertainment, Mobile & Night Club DJ Entertainment.
  • In 1989 both my hands 80% amputated at 20 yrs. Physical recovery would take 3 years and the PTSD is still with me to this day.
  • Also, in 1989, bought my first house through both rent-to own and seller financing methods. This taught me a lot about real estate ownership and investing and set my RE investing in motion that continues to this day, I just bought another investment property in July 2021.
  • 1995 Married at 26 yrs. – it felt right at the time.
  • In 1995 I read Michael E, Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited and it changed my life as an entrepreneur and as a man, it set me on a journey of self-improvement and coaching.
  • In 1997 I became a dad at 29 yrs. – planned happiness.
  • In 1998 I started working part-time with my mom in real estate.
  • In 1999 at age 31, I became a licensed REALTOR*
  • 2000 -divorced at 31 yrs. And forced into a custody battle of epic proportions; PTSD returned stronger than ever.
  • 2002 I got remarried to my love, Ailina at 34 yrs. in our beloved Maui.
  • Moved to San Diego, CA in 2003 at 35 yrs. (a promise kept).
  • 2004 completely started my real estate business over in San Diego and expanded Nelson Entertainment to SD, keeping my Bay Area business running with the help of my business partner.
  • 2007 – 2011 THE CRASH taught me what I was made of as a man, a husband & father and a business owner. I DJ’d more than I sold real estate but managed to sell about a hundred short sales in that Great Recession.
  • 2017 I retired Nelson Entertainment after 30 years of performing and was honored to do my last gig for two close friends that were marrying each other on July 4th weekend that year out at Tower 23 in PB – SD, CA. I’m a full time REALTOR* and property manager now…no safety net of two careers. But I was confident in my real estate skills and ability to earn, adapt and overcome.
  • 2018 Got to meet and work with Michael E. Gerber, interviewing him twice on my podcast and working his Dreaming Room events 2018 & 2019. I actually met one of my heroes-amazing!
  • There have been many challenges in the last 5 years, my marriage needed to be worked on and I’m proud to say we did and we’re better the last three years than the previous 19 years.
  • My 50th birthday came with having a stroke 3 days later, luckily a mild one known as a transient ischemic attack(TIA) but this set me on a gym workout and yoga journey than allowed me to lose 40lbs and feel young again.
  • The pandemic of 2020-2022 brought my bride and I closer, my business took off like a rocket and we suffered much loss. Ironically no one was lost to COVID-19, but we lost a parent, family, friends and our beloved dog Peroni all in the last 2 years.
  • But I’ll share this, it’s a journey I wouldn’t re-do differently, it’s led me here and I’m quite happy; it’s a good life, not always great, because people die, lie and cry, but always a good life because it’s filled with gifts amongst the challenges.

* What I still hope to accomplish in life is better health, more time with my family, more travel, more business opportunities, there’s a novel in me, and more philanthropy – in a way that’s even more meaningful to whom it helps than I do now. There’s more music in me, and I don’t plan to die with a single note left inside. It’s a Good Life.

Posted by

Thomas J. Nelson
REALTOR®, CRS, RCS-D, CDPE, e-Pro, Certified Military Home Specialist, Luxury Home Specialist, Author, Keynote Speaker and  Podcast Host 

Serving Coastal San Diego from Carlsbad to Coronado, Downtown, Balboa Park Area,
La Jolla/UCSD & Mission Bay Park Areas
I Offer Rebates to Veterans
& Active Duty

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(858) 232-8722
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RCS-Divorce     Southern California Chapter of Certified Residential Specialists (CRS)

Disclaimer:  Nothing in this blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, medical advice or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice, health or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.

Comments (21)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Thomas - I remember joining (it was video, right) an every-so-often presentation in my early days of ActiveRain membership and have followed your posts for a long time so some of this was known but definitely not all.  Your son looks so grown-up, I seem to remember him as much younger - but of course, time does not stand still.  Now off to read parts one/two.  

Feb 27, 2022 08:47 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Michael Jacobs I'm honored you'd take the time to do so. Yes when I started posting here my son was about 12, he's 24 now, 6'1" and 240lbs of pure beast muscle. He's in the police academy now and I'm quite proud of him. Thank you Michael.

Feb 27, 2022 09:31 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate Brokered by Real - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Music is life and carries people through the toughest of times. Thanks Thomas for sharing your journey up to now, of course, there are many more adventures ahead!

Feb 28, 2022 12:00 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Retired Home Stager/Redesign

Mar 05, 2022 05:17 PM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Thomas. You have me near exhausted just reading your life's journey. Looks like you certainly made the best of it! Enjoy your day.

Mar 06, 2022 04:52 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Thomas - thank you for sharing the story of your life.  It is a wonderful journey with ups and downs.  I have highlight the E Myth many times in my blogs.

Mar 06, 2022 05:03 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Wow, what a journey! And you're still enjoying the song of your life. That is a wonderful thing.

And yes, you probably have many books behind some of the things you mentioned in this post. I'd read them!

Mar 06, 2022 06:06 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

OH wow! Kathy Streib I just saw you featured one of my posts again this week, thank you so much!!!

Mar 06, 2022 06:14 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

It's been exhausting - but rewarding living it Wayne Martin 😂

Mar 06, 2022 06:15 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Grant Schneider yes sir the e-myth was a life changer for me. Thanks for popping by!

Mar 06, 2022 06:19 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Thank you Kat Palmiotti I've been asked to write the story of my hands many times, I may do so, but it took me over 25 years to be able to unemotionally discuss them, so I avoided it honestly.

Mar 06, 2022 06:20 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Even not knowing the details, that is totally understandable, Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets 

Mar 06, 2022 09:27 AM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets 

Once in a while, someone's story touches me at a deeper level. I can "feel" your emotions, struggles, and, ultimately, the "joy" of life, which brought you where you are today. It's an amazing journey, and it's one you have every right to be proud of!

Mar 06, 2022 10:47 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

That is so kind of you Aura Alex thank you for sharing your kind thoughts.

Mar 06, 2022 01:13 PM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

Sounds like you have lived your life so far to the fullest and handled it the best you could.  But that's way better than to get down the road and not have done the things you wanted to.  And, yes, a lot of unexpected things happen along the way, but that makes us stronger.  

Mar 06, 2022 05:36 PM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® thanks for popping by.

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle,

I just wish that he didn't trust me so much. - Mother Teresa -”

Mar 06, 2022 06:26 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

There are a lot of compelling stories to be told in the world and real estate is no different. So many of us are more interesting than we thin

Mar 06, 2022 08:09 PM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

I appreciate our authentic story! Laying out your story in print is a great way to feel and acknowledge success and gratitude, especially after a stroke at 50!  Good for you!

Mar 07, 2022 01:49 PM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Thank you kindly Jan Green it was crazy to see it all laid out chronologically, I never think of it that way, it's just moments in an otherwise busy, happy life.

Hope you are well!

Mar 07, 2022 06:36 PM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ

I know how you feel!  Try to list all of that on a resume!

Mar 07, 2022 07:16 PM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

Wow, thanks for sharing Thomas. My friend and KW Team Leader was also a DJ for about 30 years and I think he retired around the same time as you. It was great to have him DJing our office events. You've had quite a life. I hope you're full recovered from your stroke. You do seem to be enjoying life in San Diego.

Mar 08, 2022 07:06 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Carla Freund I used to DJ our Coldwell Banker Christmas Parties just like your TL.

Well between my hands and my TIA, I've lost a a little, but overall I'm fully recovered and just managing my health better. I do not work as many crazy hours like I used to.

Thank you for your visit to my blog, I appreciate your comments.

Mar 08, 2022 07:37 AM
Carla Freund

I'm happy to hear you're almost fully recovered and that you're not working as much as you used to. This is stressful business for certain.

Mar 26, 2022 06:27 AM