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.
THE PROFESSIONAL 2011
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!
I 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!
THE PERSONAL SIDE OF 2011
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 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!