Category Archives: Special Events

Gratitude 2018

We celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this time of year in the United States. It’s one holiday all Americans can celebrate, regardless of their faith traditions. We come together to express our thanks for the many gifts we have. It’s a wonderful holiday.

I think we are particularly blessed to have a holiday devoted to giving thanks as a way to jolt us out of our usual selfish thoughts and actions. We tend to play one radio station, WIIFM (what’s in it for me) most days of the year. It gets old and stale, and on Thanksgiving we tune in to a less-frequently visited channel to hear something different: the voice of gratitude.

A few months ago, I began working with a coach to help me sort out some things in my professional life. I got a homework assignment in our first session: Write in a journal every day, and write down five things each day that I am grateful for. In the beginning, my five things came easily: family, friends, house, clothing, food. After a while, I had to think hard about what I was grateful for. There were days when I wrote “coffee cup” or “comfortable shoes.” Yes, I’m grateful for those things, too. However, I started focussing on the beauty around me and the things I tend to take for granted. My gratitude list metamorphosed into a list of qualities and aspirations as well as physical things.

Thanksgiving begs the question, though. What are you grateful for? What will you give thanks for this year? Do you carry that attitude of thanksgiving with you throughout the year?

My list this Thanksgiving is not a “top five things” I’m grateful for, but the things that I am constantly reminded to give thanks for as the days and months go by.

Heath and wellness. We all know someone who has some kind of health issue. Some may be more serious than others. We may have witnessed a loved one die from cancer or heart disease this year. I am grateful for my health and the people who care for those in need. I decided to commit myself this year to donate platelets at least 19 times. I’ve been donating platelets for around four years, but I’d never tallied more than 12 donations in a year. The need for platelets is constant as they have a shelf life of only five days. I decided to step up the frequency of my donations so that someone in need can benefit from my good health. I’m grateful for the American Red Cross and its employees who take care of me during my donations, too.

Art, Where would we be as a society without human expression in art? Music, dance, visual arts, and writing all enrich my days and give me enormous pleasure. I’ve been fortunate to attend concerts, opera, gallery openings, and dance performances throughout the year. Now it’s time for me to give back a bit. I decided to donate to local arts organizations so that they can continue to make art and to offer children the ability to attend performances. School trips to see shows in our community may be the only opportunity a child has to see professional artists perform for them. Who knows which child will be inspired to become an artist or a lifelong patron of the arts?

My Faith Community. Two years ago, I wrote this about my faith community, Gethsemane Lutheran Church: “I have always attended or belonged to a church, but my faith is challenged and enriched by the people at Gethsemane in very special ways. We join together to live out our faith in the community through service.” I am very lucky to have found a faith community where I am accepted, loved, and challenged to serve others. No matter what faith you adhere to or even if you aren’t religious, a community of people that supports you and works with you for peace and justice is a wonderful thing.

The ability to work. There are days when I’m not so grateful for some of the challenges I face in my job. I know I complain far too often about this situation or that person. I need to remember that I am able to work and do something that I enjoy (on most days!). I am not hampered by a disability or relegated to working in a job that doesn’t pay a living wage. I continue to learn and grow in my chosen field. I have the freedom to explore other opportunities and learn new things. I credit my parents for instilling in me the desire to learn and the determination to keep moving forward.

Nature. My gratitude list on many days includes parts of nature. I am particularly fond of trees, no matter the season (but not very happy about raking leaves). I love the shade in summer, the colors of leaves in autumn, the stark branches against the sky in winter, and the pale green of spring leaves. I’m also partial to flowers, but nothing makes me happier than sunflowers. I love the scent of roses and the sunny faces of daisies. It saddens me to think that we humans have brought about changes in our climate that affect the nature around me. I’m grateful that I am able do my little part to help the earth. This year, we installed solar panels on our house. We do all the other things to help the environment like carry reusable shopping bags, recycle, compost, and reduce our use of disposable goods. There are days when I’m not so sure it helps, but I’ll continue to fight the good fight.

These are just some of the things I’m grateful for. I hope you have the opportunity to take some time this holiday and consider the things you’re grateful for. Think about focussing on gratitude each day throughout the year. Tell someone else about the things you are thankful for. Share your gratitude and see where it leads you!

Gratitude

Although we should practice gratitude every day of the year, we think about it most on Thanksgiving. Yesterday I read a post on one of my favorite blogs, Spin Sucks. Gini Dietrich wrote about The Grateful Challenge and posted her top 10 reasons to be grateful. I liked the post so much, I decided to copy it! This may have little to do with training or education, but what the heck, it’s Thanksgiving!

rosa-calvinThe first word I wrote in my list for The Grateful Challenge was family. I have been blessed with parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles. I have my own family consisting of my husband, my daughter, and Calvin, the wiener dog. I’m thankful that we can all be together for this holiday, and hopefully many more. I’m thankful for the great times we’ve spent together at ballet performances, soccer games, and around the table sharing a meal. Calvin doesn’t get to come along to the performances or soccer games, but he does enjoy the occasional snack that falls from the table or sitting on someone’s lap after thetonyme meal!

I never thought I would be a sports fan, but then I started watching soccer (the real football), and I was hooked. Some of the best times I’ve had over the past few years have been at Mapfre Stadium watching the Columbus Crew. Because we’re season ticket members, we get to go to all kinds of special events and meet the players. I finally got the courage to ask players to pose with me for pictures. This is one of my favorite players, Tony Tchani, smiling with me at last season’s fan fest. The Crew didn’t do so well in 2016, but we still love ’em!

glassWhat would life be without art? I can’t imagine a world in which we didn’t have the ability to express ourselves and reflect the beauty around us through art. I’ve long wanted to take a glass blowing class, but never found the time or the money to do it (it seemed frivolous, etc.). Then my daughter gave me the present of a glass blowing class at a local studio, Glass Axis. We both took the class and created ornaments to hang on our Christmas tree. It was hot. I loved it! (The ornament didn’t turn out too badly, either.) One of my goals for 2017 is to go back and create something else out of glass. I think I’m hooked.

ymcaA major challenge for me in the past two years has been to get healthy. This included losing weight and becoming more active (they do go hand in hand). We have been members at our local YMCA for many years, but I got out of the habit of working out regularly. This year I decided to try something new. I went to my first cycling class in January and got hooked. I’m thankful for the opportunity to get out of bed early 2-3 times a week and sweat with a group of people who are having just as much fun as I am. I joined them this morning for our pre-Thanksgiving feast work-out. It was sunflowerstough, but worth every minute!

There’s something about sunflowers that always makes me smile. I like flowers in general, but sunflowers are favorites. The come in different colors and sizes. I planted some last year, and the seeds that the birds and squirrels didn’t eat grew into lovely, tall plants with many, many blossoms. I missed the chance to plant sunflowers this year, but I plan on making up for it next spring. Who doesn’t like flowers that make you smile?

glcquiltsI am most grateful for my faith community at Gethsemane Lutheran Church. I have always attended or belonged to a church, but my faith is challenged and enriched by the people at Gethsemane in very special ways. We join together to live out our faith in the community through service. The quilts in this picture are one example of that. This year 101 quilts were made by Gethsemane members and shipped to Lutheran World Relief, then on to people all over the world who will use the quilts for warmth, shelter, and clothing. It’s a reminder to me that we have so much when others have very little.

Whatever you are thankful for today and throughout the year, I hope you have the opportunity to take a few minutes this holiday season to think about the people and things that make your life wonderful.

Convention Time

Fall is the season for conventions in the real estate world. The busy summer selling season is winding down and salespeople and brokers have time to spend on meetings, education sessions, and visits to the trade fair. So, let’s put on a convention!

At my company, we tossed around the idea of having a mini-convention for a couple years, then got brave and decided to do it this year. The planning began months ago with visits to potential venues and calls to speakers regarding availability. When we finally settled on a date and reserved the facility, the real work began.

Finding speakers to present interesting, timely, and relevant material to our agents was not difficult. Finding speakers who were available on the date we needed them proved to be quite tough. Once we were able to determine who was available, we signed agreements as quickly as possible to secure the speakers for our date.

Then came the next question: Do we offer continuing education credit for the sessions, or not? Agents need to provide proof of a certain number of hours of continuing education credit each time they renew their licenses. By offering CE credit for the convention sessions, we provide an opportunity for the agent to get information and CE credit, and we give ourselves a marketing opportunity. Continuing education gives agents an added reason for attending the sessions when the need to know isn’t enough.

Promotion started about a month in advance of the convention. Registrations trickled in slowly, and we began to doubt what we were doing. Why weren’t they signing up to attend? Were we totally off the mark with our topics? We should have calmed down and waited patiently. Real estate agents are notorious for deciding at the last minute to register for anything. The registrations began to pour in about 10 days before the initial deadline, and continued to appear for a few days after that date (registration was kept open, but capped).

How can we measure success of such an event? The immediate feedback gives us a good idea of participants’ feelings about the day: Whether they liked the facility, thought the food was good, had a good time talking with friends and colleagues, and heard some good speakers. This is the “smile sheet” that tells us what their impressions of the event were. By all accounts, we got high marks for a good event.

The long term effect of the convention will be whether those in attendance apply anything they learned at the sessions they attended. We might be able to measure satisfaction with the event shortly after the event, but assessing the impact of the day will be a longer-term process. We’ll need to look at the attendees’ implementation of techniques and tools to increase their businesses as well as their production over a period of time to be able to determine if what they gained at the convention will have an effect.

Putting on a convention, even a one-day convention is a lot of work, but it is also immensely satisfying to see learners excited to try something new that they learned in just one day.