My Personal and Professional Story for 2011 - February 2022 Challenge

Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty of California, Inc. CA DRE #01490977

My Life Story – for 2011


The February 2022 challenge was to tell our story, with options for a personal story as well as a professional one.


I really struggled with this, trying to decide what to share. And decided to focus on a very narrow period of time in my life. Perhaps you’ll be disappointed it doesn't encompass a larger part of my life. But the intensity of 2011, for me, was very meaningful. When life throws us curve balls sometimes you wonder how you’ll get through it, but of course you do, with the help of family and friends.



2011 was one of the more intense years of my life, for a number of reasons. Let’s begin with the professional side of things, with some history.


My professional career began when I was finishing grad school (in Detroit), and landed a job at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston in the Child Psychiatry Department. Four years there were followed by the start of my corporate Human Resources career, first at National Car Rental in Minneapolis for about 2 years. We returned to New England and I landed at UNICCO Service Company in Boston for 8 years as Director of Human Resources, followed by a year at Renaissance Worldwide, a consulting company where I was Director of Organizational Development.


My last, and best, corporate role was Vice President of Human Resources for HookMedia in Boston, an online marketing start-up. I was the 6th employee in June 1999, and we grew the company to about 130 people in 3 cities in about 18 months before the dotcom world changed, and the company had to go Chapter 11 since we could not get more VC funding. The company was acquired, many were laid off, and I was the last official employee, charged with closing out all the creditor files. 9/11 happened on one of the last days I was physically in the office! Talk about intense!


Our first house in Carlsbad - backyard and viewI was unable to find a job in HR right away so my wife and I decided to follow our dream, and we opened an art gallery in 2002 in Cambridge MA. I got my real estate license near the beginning of our 3-year art gallery adventure and worked fulltime in RE and in the gallery (marketing, sales, website).


We closed the gallery in 2004 and sold our beach house on Cape Cod, having decided to relocate to Carlsbad CA, which we did in April 2005 (photo is of the backyard of our first Carlsbad house).


I got my CA license in June 2005, completed my CRS designation in November, and immediately got involved with the Southern California Chapter of CRS (the Council of Residential Specialists) on the Board of Directors. Long story short, after multiple BOD roles over the next 5 years I was elected President of the SoCal CRS Chapter, with over 550 members, for 2011.


As President I had to run the quarterly board meetings (there were about 15 members on the BOD), help to coordinate and run the quarterly member meetings and several CRS classes, and attend the Mid-Year (Washington, DC) and Annual (Irvine, CA) CRS meetings. The highlight of the year at the annual meeting was our Chapter being awarded the CRS Large Chapter of the Year award for all we accomplished! It was a terrific team of CRSs to work with that year…friends to this day!



I lost 3 family members to cancer in 2011, all of which was incredibly emotional. Where does one start? Perhaps with chronology to make it simple.


My Mom's old house outside PhiladelphiaMy sister (my only sibling) passed in July 2011. We learned about her deteriorating condition in 2010. Without getting into details, the initial diagnosis was rheumatoid arthritis, with substantial pain and lots of meds.


My sister at the time was living with my Mom in suburban Philadelphia because she could not live on her own, as she was unable to work and was classified as disabled. I made several roundtrips from California in 2010 to visit and help as I could around the house, a large (about 7000 SF - photo just shows a portion of the home) antique colonial home part of which was built in the 1700s.


As things progressed we learned about the new, and more insidious, diagnosis – multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. The original diagnosis was seriously wrong, with perhaps valuable time wasted…we’ll never know. In 2011 I think I made 4 round trips to Philadelphia during the first 5 months, to visit and help my Mom, and my sister with her medical care, changing insurance so she could get the care and meds she needed while disabled. But ultimately we had to place her in hospice when, after a stint in the ICU in late May, her doctor let me and my Mom know there was nothing else that could be done. It was a crushing blow, but I knew it was the right decision.


I was able to make a couple more trips from California over a 2-week period to visit before she passed in mid June. I still remember the last overnight flight I made, and while parked at the terminal to de-plane in Philadelphia my Mom called to let me know my sister was no longer with us. I missed her by just hours!


I made several more trips that year to help and support my Mom, who was living alone in a huge old house on 4 acres, and experiencing issues of her own, in addition to having no family nearby to help.


Three weeks later after my sister passed I went to Michigan, and met up with my younger daughter from San Francisco, to visit my Mother-in-Law (living with my youngest brother-in-law) who had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was undergoing radiation. All was not well, and 2 days after we arrived it was clear hospice was needed, and was set up at their house. But the next morning I was awakened by a knock on my bedroom door quite early and my sister-in-law’s voice letting me know that “Mom is no longer with us.” It was an incredibly difficult morning, the hardest part of which was to call my wife in California and let her know her Mom was gone. This may have been the most difficult call I have ever had to make!


Not too long after we welcomed our first grandchild in Los Angeles. Such joy amidst all the sorrow. Sadly, my wife’s Mom had passed before getting to see a photo or hear about the birth of our granddaughter. We didn’t even know if it was a girl or boy until the birth!


This photo was taken soon after her birth on one of my trips home from Philadelphia. I had flown a red-eye from LA to Philly specifically with the intent to stop and visit on the return trip.


A few weeks later in August I was running a quarterly business and member meeting for the SoCal CRS Chapter where I was President. We were on break and I had a call from my Mom. I was able to answer, and she let me know that my favorite uncle (her only brother) had just died. It was a total shock. Thankfully I had a few minutes to just sit and think before I had to go back and finish running our member meeting.


Of course through all this I was working with buyers and sellers, too, and it all became quite a balancing act. I am so appreciative that my clients were understanding of what was going on in my personal life, although I tried to not share more than was necessary. I could not have done it all without my amazing transaction manager helping to keep everything on track and meeting contract deadlines, especially when I was traveling!


2011 was an intense year in my life, but I grew in many ways. Thank you for reading this long post!

Posted by

Jeff Dowler, CRS
Certified Residential Specialist / Realtor®

Call or Text
(760) 840-1360

Email Me

Enjoy the beach life in Carlsbad, Oceanside, Encinitas,
San Marcos & other
North San Diego County coastal
& inland communities

Buy - Sell - Invest - Second Homes  


About Me

My Blog

My Website

  Jeff Dowler's Facebook Profile  Jeff Dowler's YouTube Profile    Jeff Dowler's LinkedIn Profile


Comments (33)

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

Thank you for the kind words Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS 

Ron and Alexandra Seigel - it was a special moment during a very difficult time. Thank you!


Feb 27, 2022 05:07 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Wow what a story, and what challenges.... Jeff we met a few times and I would have never guessed what you were going through....Endre

Feb 28, 2022 12:02 AM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

As I was reading the post, all I could envision was a prize fighter taking shots all over the place through the rounds, and yet at the end, he wore out his opponent due to his inner strength and won his bout.  That was a hard-fought year, but your strength overcame the issues and allowed you to take care of those around you as well.

Feb 28, 2022 04:47 AM
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Jeff Dowler, CRS Your post did require a great deal of strength to re-live your losses. The many 'hats' you have worn over the years all contribute to your success. Thanks for sharing!

Feb 28, 2022 06:02 AM
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

That certainly is a very intense year and often times when we look back at our life we wonder how we even got through the tough times, yet we did.

Feb 28, 2022 06:09 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Jeff - it must have been difficult to write this post as you remembered these sad moments.  Hopefully happy memories of better times also occur as we reflect (or review) our life.  And, of course, the arrival of a new member of the family is an event like no other. No matter when they happen and maybe especially in times of sadness.    Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us.

Feb 28, 2022 06:53 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Hi Jeff... I've had some intense years with lots of less than positive things happening but certainly nothing like what you lived through in terms of loss in 2011. You certainly showed great strength, resilience and grace and not everyone would "survive" a year like that as well as you did.

Feb 28, 2022 07:46 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Endre Barath, Jr.  We'll have to get together again sometime!

That's a pretty analogy  Ed Silva  Thank you!


Feb 28, 2022 10:35 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI 

Exactly my thought as I was struggling to write my post Brian England 


Feb 28, 2022 10:53 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

What a tough year you had to go through, but what a blessing you were and are to your family.  And what a blessing to have your first grand daughter.  The picture you shared is special.

Feb 28, 2022 11:07 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jeff I already knew a little about your past, but this blog was very helpful in filling in some of the gaps.

Feb 28, 2022 11:17 AM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Wow! Jeff Dowler, CRS that must have been tough to relive the sad part of your life. The story brought tears! And joy! I am happy you are doing well today. Thank you for your courage to share!!!

Feb 28, 2022 12:08 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Michael Jacobs 

It was a bit challenging to write this, and especially to relive the sorrow of 2011. But it some ways it was a help, and I'm glad I ultimately decided to share it.


Feb 28, 2022 07:52 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you for the kind words Nina Hollander, Broker . I guess we just don't know what we can truly deal with until it happens. 


Mar 01, 2022 12:08 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you, thank you Raymond Henson, eXp Realty 

And yes, that photo is a special one...and we now have 4 grandkids and our youngest granddaughter is almost 11! Times flies!



Mar 01, 2022 07:47 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you George Souto  - I've shared some of this I think in bits and pieces.

Aura Alex  thank you for your very kind words. It was a tough time but with plenty of positives, too. It's what life is all about!


Mar 01, 2022 07:52 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

A wonderful share Jeff Dowler, CRS I'm guessing studying Child Psychiatry has served you well in real estate given how many Realtors behave. 😆 I never knew you owned an art gallery. You and I transplanted around the same era, I got here in 2003 from The Bay Area (not quite the same move you made). But, I love Boston, I've visited 3 times since moving here to SD. I too lost many family to cancer, I'm so sorry for your losses, but what a blessing to be grandparents! This was a great share Jeff!


Mar 02, 2022 05:12 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you so much Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets 

Yes the psychology training has always been a big help, along with the HR Career.

Moving from SFO to San Diego is a big change - maybe not so much the miles but some of the cultural differences!

Being a grandparent is amazing...and the role keep changing as the grandkids get older!


Mar 02, 2022 07:38 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Jeff Dowler, CRS - It is so nice for you to share (part of) your life story with us. 2011 was a very tough year for you.  It is never easy to lose a loved one, especially family members. 

Mar 04, 2022 02:21 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Sheri Sperry - MCNE® 

It was a pretty intense year with all the losses. But there were some pretty positive things that happened as well!


Mar 06, 2022 01:16 PM