April 25th, 2013
Did you know almost 80% of the U.S.’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) last year came from the service sector? A big number, but not a new trend.
Defined as an economic activity that does not result in ownership, or provide physical goods, the service sector is admittedly a wide field. But how to explain an intangible product, whose value is ultimately subjective? Welcome to my newest series: Who, Why and How.
Service is often equal parts knowledge and skills, as well as physical ability to get something done. Most are personal services, but there is ‘personal’, and there is PERSONAL; I’d say Professional Organizers fall into the latter category. Many have specialties, each has their style, but share common goals: to replace chaos with serenity, and to add hours to your days.
According to NAPO the average person spends one full year of their life looking for lost or misplaced things. YES. One. Full. Year. Our lives are busy, our activities and commitments are many, and our days are fragmented; we are distracted, and otherwise engaged, it’s easy for nice, perfectly fine things to accumulate and morph into clutter.
“Organized” is the relationship between people and their stuff, so for many, the first step is acknowledging the stuff is affecting productivity, or happiness. Trust is established first. Most organizers work collaboratively, shoulder to shoulder, talking things out, taking small but solid steps to facilitate changes that will stick. A number work by the hour, usually in pre-determined time blocks of several hours, but some prefer to work by the project.
Tools they utilize could include organizational materials like files, labels, and containers. Their niche could be photos, closets, paper systems, books, or behavior modification. Resources are just as likely to be a vetted donor list, an Ebay seller or an auction house-or burly men with dumpsters.
Many will seek the help of a Professional Organizer when their life, or their needs suddenly change: The birth of a child, an elderly parent or adult child coming into the household, an illness, even someone suddenly working from home all place new demands on an existing space. Many times I see adult children who’ve used their parents’ space as a repository for stuff they can’t/won’t deal with on their own. Some may be just chronically disorganized, others dealing with loss or grief, unable to let go.
Asking around my own circle, the biggest misconceptions or fears are they will be judged, or that they will lose control, and be forced to throw things out, or adjust to a generic system. OK, sure-the less that changes, the less will change…but at their core, Professional Organizers are kind, but pragmatic problem solvers, with your best interests at heart. Overwhelmingly, being a witness to the positive transformation in people’s space, their lives and relationships are what floats their boat.
Bottom line-we all realize life is short. Whether it’s lost bills, not being able to park in the garage, tense relationships in the household or repeatedly buying replacements for things you know you have but can’t find-you can find your own best answers by taking the first step: talk to friends, or other trusted home professionals like Realtors or Home Stagers. Have a conversation, ask for some recommendations, then get on with your life.
February 14th, 2013
In business most everything IS about money, and today the financial rewards in embracing, and moving forward with updating a commercial space are many. Fresh color on the walls, flattering lighting, new carpet all send the right message: internally to employees and externally, to new and potential clients and employees, as well as agents and buyers in the case of real estate interests.
These projects pays triple-plus the dividends a private project does, and decisions are made with not unfamiliar parameters. SO-if we assume the location and size/suitability of space works just fine, and it’s not about spending a reasonable amount of money, why do so many deciders NOT decide?
TRH believes that most people will choose well, when pointed in the right direction. Helping clients untangle their thinking and prioritize is my specialty, and clients with commercial spaces are no exception.
A simple, but critical thinking error derails most projects. It usually happens early on, before the client finds me. Simply-they’ve lumped the question of what it should look like, with the issue of who will be involved, and how decisions will be made. Entirely different issues, so in attempting to be efficient, they pretty much guarantee getting stuck in the hamster wheel mode of thinking.
Deciding who will be providing input, and how it will be presented to the rest of the staff perplexes many owners/managers, but it’s what should be established first, way before breaking out the paint chips or swatches, even before conversations about the money. Taking it on by default-or assigning it to an employee based on (sorry) their gender, or level of interest can be just as counter-productive as unfettered open discussions among staff, and there’s no guarantee of success-only that time and money will be spent.
Just as in residential projects-the chemistry is different with each client, knowing it and working with it comes first. My projects have included funeral homes, law offices, and a church. I’ve met with and guided the sole proprietor-with, or without their spouse/SO, as well as partners; a designated assistant; co-op Board Presidents-solo, and with other Boardmembers, a rectory full of priests, and yes, even moderating a group meeting for smaller, more intimate offices where everyone’s input was wanted, early on.
Updating a commerical space might seem like an intimidating project, but it doesn’t have to be. A few hours with an intuitive and resourceful professional will free up your time and untangle your thinking, help you establish process and priorities, as well as the vision.
November 29th, 2012
Legend has it that when when Winston Churchill was advised to cut funding for arts, in order to help support the war effort, he replied ‘than what is it we’re fighting for?’. Historians debate the authenticity, but it’s good enough for me, one of the reasons I am so fond of Churchill.
Art is good. It soothes, and makes you feel alive. It nourishes, inspires, and challenges. It can make you laugh, cry, ponder or react. But mostly art can make you happy.
This Sunday, December 2, Westchester Arts is sponsoring their annual FREE ARTS DAY. As good as art is for the soul, FREE ART is even better!
You and the kids can make bowls at Clay Art Center in Port Chester (LOVE you guys at CAC!!) , or jewelry…or beads at Westchester Arts Family Art Workshops in White Plains, or screen A Christmas Story at Jacob Burns in Pleasantville. Sample dance and fashion sketching lessons, or experience Play Theater Group workshop
For more grownup tastes, you can tour Caramoor, or the Historic Hudson Valley lamdmarks; visit almost every museum and cultural center from Mt. Vernon and the Pelhams to Peekskill and Purchase, View The Marriage of Figaro in Pelham, even catch YCP’s performance of Nora Ephron’s play Love, Loss, and What I Wore. ALL FOR FREE. Seriously.
Your (inner) child will have a blast, and work through some serious ya-yas in this uplifting and creative format.
50 events, 21 locations! Click here now to see the entire listing, and plan your day. Some events might have limited class or audience size, so I’d call ahead and find out the logistics on your favorites. GO-you’ll like yourself a lot for it!
November 18th, 2012
Maybe you have a freind or client whose space needs a fresh look. Or maybe you are looking to amp up your own home for the holidays, start the process of getting it ready to sell-or even ring in the New Year as a more organized you? This could be the nudge you need…. NOW is your opportunity to get started, while giving a hand to those affected by the superstorm.
To add to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort, I’m joining with two other local women business owners, to contribute in the way we know best. The result: Will Work for Food, a fundraiser to benefit the American Red Cross.
Between now and November 30th, Denise Hoffmann, Allison Segreto and myself -Accredited Homes Stagers and Interior Decorators all-will be offering a limited number of one hour consults free, in exchange for a direct and immediate $100.00 contribution to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Each of us created and run our own, independent business. Together we represent almost 60 years of hands-on, in-home design experience, Will Work for Food is the first time the three of us have collaborated.
Appointments will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis, so don’t wait-here’s how it works:
- Check out the profiles of the companies, and the different services.
- Choose the professional and the service you want, and follow the links below to contact them and directly to schedule an appointment.
- At the end of your one-hour consult, write a check for $100 (or more, if you are so inclined!!) made out to the American Red Cross, and give it to your provider. They will have pre-addressed official Red Cross envelopes, and will mail it on your behalf.
Questions are welcomed, hope to hear from you soon!
Denise Hoffmann, Owner of Cameo Home Staging Featuring Real Estate Staging & Home Design Services. Serving Westchester, Dutchess & Putnam counties. Licensed & Insured. Mahopac/Carmel & Yorktown Chamber of Commerce member. 914.497.0924
Allison Segreto,Owner of Mission: Organization Offering home and office organizing, decorating, and home staging services to clients in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties. Simplify Organize Stage 845.528.2444
Marie Graham, Founder of The Refreshed Home. Interior Decorating, Home Staging and Project Coordination in lower Westchester/Fairfield counties, Helping you make good plans, and wise decisions, so you can get on with your life. 914.607.2895
November 11th, 2012
Furniture Sharehouse is Westchester County’s own furniture bank. Run by volunteers, Furniture Sharehouse collects unwanted clean, basic furniture, and re-distributes it FREE to clients of about 40 different Westchester County agencies.
Every month, on average, 7 to 8 Westchester County veterans are helped to ease into permanent housing by Furniture Sharehouse, through the Veteran’s Affairs arm of WestCOP (Westchester Community Opportunity Program).
Donations (furniture, time, funds) are always sought and welcomed, but right now, your online VOTES are #1 ask.
Larchmont’s own Kate Bialo, founder of Furniture Sharehouse is one of 10 National Finalists vying for a $25K grant from L’Oreal’s Women of Worth event.
Now, through November 21, everyone can vote once a day (per email address) HERE.
Veterans are just one segment of the client base who typically receive 8 to 10 pieces of clean, basic furniture, things many of us take for granted: a sofa, a kitchen table/chairs, a dresser, a bed.
Regular readers know I am absolutely shameless when it comes to asking for support for this wonderful cause. If you are reading this, please, you have all the tools you need to help right now. Please click on this link to VOTE, then share it with your friends as well. WHatever you can so, thank you for your support!!
November 3rd, 2012
The first holiday solicitations arrived around Columbus Day. A package with holiday wrapping paper, some thematic greeting cards, and (still more) personalized address labels.
Most of these mailings were not inexpensive. Had donated to some of these causes in the past, but several came in my maiden name-which I have not used in 18 years. That I received them at all can only be attributed to my having the same address, and mail carrier-for that long.
Pricey, or repeated unsolicited mailings always make me wonder about the overall value of the organization itself (like how much service I’ll really get from an insurance company that every week spends money to send me something telling me how much money I’ll save by switching…!) or in this case, how wisely, how effectively does a charity utilize donor funds.
Need and giving are hugely emotional issues that touch our core; under ‘normal’ circumstances the next 6 weeks is high season for giving-and asking. But now we on the east coast have come to know Hurricane Sandy.
In the days and weeks to come, chances are we will be asked, and perhaps motivated and able to make a charitable donation or two. We all want to be sure our donation will be used properly and efficiently, here are two ways to give with our heads as well as our hearts.
To get an overall, independent read on different charities, try Charity Navigator. http://www.charitynavigator.org/ acknowledges charities have different services and programs, which leads to inherently different cost structures. They break over 10,000 charities into classifications and rate them on their efficiency, in their classification. Their top ten lists feature the effective, as well as the overpaid, and the broke; eye-opening and interesting reading, to say the least.
www.bbb.org/charity Just like BBB certification, charities that want to belong apply and provide vital info like contact info, their history, size, structure as well as a financial statement. BBB will tell you if the charity meets their 20 standards for accountability, and if their info is vetted, a Wise Giving Alliance report is issued, good for 2 years.
Best for providing a snapshot of , and credibility for a particular organization. Because charities have to apply, it is unlikely any less than stellar ones would. Seeing your favorite here is a positive, but not being on the list isn’t necessarily a negative.
Both sites are very useful , and for those who are really interested-The Chronicles of Philanthropy is a great source of info for non-profits www.philanthropy.com.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and the harsh realization we were just a few towns away from total destruction, I keep coming back to this quote, incongruesly from Dr. Seuss: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
October 27th, 2012
“Westchester County” is often spoken of in rarefied terms, the proverbial land of milk and honey. It’s all I know, I’ve lived here my entire life.
Last Sunday the Journal News’ lead feature was called Hidden Hunger, and featured six personal stories of local residents who are clients of local food pantries. According to the article, in 2010 roughly 1 our of every ten residents was food insecure-that is, they didn’t know where their next meal was going to be coming from.
It’s said that big issues with big numbers ‘read’ as incomprehensible, unfathomable to others-but when names, faces and specific circumstances are shared it becomes real. A big thank you to these reporters, and to those who shared their story. If you missed this series, please follow the link above and check it out.
Hunger is not a new, or seasonal issue.
Being hungry puts a lot of other things in perspective.
I know a lot of people, and see many faces in the course of a day. The thought that 10% of them might be juggling, trying to find a way to feed themselves and their family really hits my core.
Last year Janet Jones, a Stager friend in Hawaii wrote about her volunteer efforts for the Maui Food Bank, and suffice to say, I am inspired, and in the days to come will be laying the groundwork, and announcing The Refreshed Home’s commitment to give back.
Meantime, if you have any upcoming gift-giving opportunities, please consider making a donation to their local food bank, on the behalf of your gift recipient. Be they clients, family or friends-it will resonate in ways you cannot imagine. Here is how you can help, how you can make a difference in our area: Food Bank of Westchester , or the Food Bank of Hudson Valley for Rockland and Putnam counties. Gifts of funds, food and yes, your time are all welcome. And stay tuned.
September 11th, 2012
I remember a lot of that day eleven years ago, but more about the days after. Vividly, violently confronted with the previously unimaginable, people in the NY metro area clung to each other in their horror and grief. From this vulnerability came tenderness and kindness.
In the days-weeks-months that followed, I remember reading reports on how many took definitive actions. Actions that affirmed who you were, what you believed in, and what you wanted from your precious, remaining days here on this earth.
Some enlisted, others made life decisions they had been dallying with, deciding to marry-or divorce; to have children, or to change jobs. Six weeks after the attacks we bought a house.
Last year the media here was brutal, beating the sensationalistic drum for the tenth anniversary remembrance for a month before. Inescapable, I was conflicted and angry-what, I’m not sad or grief-stricken enough? and guilty-with such close proximity to NYC, how was I spared any direct loss? and how can whatever I feel be of any importance, compared to what the friends and families of those that were killed have to live with every day?
Loss, grief and ways of coping are all very personal. While I respect and honor others’ feelings, and their time table, just being passively sad does not work for me. I feel it’s a waste of the wonderful gift we have, when we wake up every morning with oxygen in our lungs.
My good friend Heather does a 9-11 memorial stair climb, where she prays while reading the names of those who were killed, while climbing 110 flights on the Stairmaster. I like that a lot. And I love that more and more this time of year calls attention to service.
As much as we wish otherwise, we cannot change the past, we can only shape the future. Using the memory of that terrible time can collectively spur us on to make better days, and help us to live our best life on September 12th…January 10th…April 30th…etc. Taking action. Giving back.
Each and every one of us can ‘do’ something, even if it’s quiet prayer, or sharing a kind word or gesture with a stranger. Those in the Hudson Valley looking for a more substantial connection could find it in The Volunteer Center. They match your time, talents and interests to a specific local need. They are also a year-round entity, so no worries if your availability does not coincide with a memorable day. Kindness matters…pass it on.
September 1st, 2012
Many Labor Days ago (before everything was online) I remember reading an op-ed piece in the NYT, exploring why Labor Day would make a better New Years Day.
Don’t ask me where my keys are, but this really hit a chord with me, and YES, I think of this every year.
There were two premises: First, as a practical matter, there is just WAY too much going on at the end of the year…too many distractions, too much stress to plan, or implement any kind of real change.
Second-the lure of a fresh start- the hope, promise and potential of a new school year, ingrained in us as children, is irresistible to us as adults. This aligns perfectly with what we currently look for in late December.
As adults, we can start fresh on any day we choose… but it just feels right, when so many other people are on the same page.
The last few years have been an uncertain time for many. In my work, I started to see the fog lift late last year, and have seen constant and sustained forward movement since. People are doing things, making decisions and choosing to get on with their lives.
They are getting rid of physical, mental and emotional clutter. Energized, they are re-claiming their power, and choosing to be happy. Which is a lot easier to say, or write about-than do.
The end of this summer seems to have snuck up on us really quickly this year. Whatever you have going on in the next few days, I hope you can find some quiet time…to collect your thoughts, restore your balance and refresh your heart, so you’re open to, and all ready for your next adventure. HAPPY LABOR DAY, EVERYONE!!
August 21st, 2012
Regular readers know I am a big baseball fan, but I had never heard of MLB umpire Jim Joyce before summer of 2010…then in an unlikely confluence of events, he burst into probably all our consciousnesses.
Doug and I had attended a high school lacrosse game that evening. It was a spirited rivalry, but some fans did not know how to behave…we found ourselves in the middle of an entire section of angry, rowdy, potty-mouth ADULT fans.
Seeing the look on the younger kids faces while they absorbed the verbal spewage from these faux-grownups was such a sad moment.
Flipped on the news before going to bed, only to find out this Jim Joyce made an admitted wrong call on the last play of the game, costing the pitcher a perfect game.
But in baseball there are no do-overs, and the pitcher accepted his tearful apology. I was moved to tears at this unbelievable juxtaposition, and wrote passionately about how I hoped these same kids would talk about, and remember this wonderful, gracious role model the next morning.
Jim Joyce and the pitcher, Armando Galarraga went on to become friendly, even writing a book together, called Nobody’s Perfect.
Then, last year the major league players themselves voted Jim Joyce the best umpire in all of Major League Baseball. Forgiveness and redemption is a very powerful thing to witness, so yes, I cried, and wrote more, on how the MLB players got that call right.
Now news comes that Jim Joyce saved a life with CPR. Really.
Last night, Joyce saw an employee of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jayne Powers having a seizure in the tunnel near their dressing room, about an hour and a half before game time. Even after the defibrillator failed to get her heart going, Joyce kept CPR going until the paramedics arrived, using the Bee Gee’s classic Stayin’ Alive to keep to the necessary rhythm.
Jayne is recovering in a local hospital, in stable condition. And Joyce? He’s probably back behind home plate again tonight, calling balls and strikes.
For a regular guy like Jim Joyce-the story keeps getting better. Good for him, and even better for Jayne Power; but lucky, lucky us-who get to watch, learn and be inspired.
August 13th, 2012
Over the winter of 2009-20010 homeowner Gerry Angel paid about $1000.00 per month to heat her 1850 square-foot ranch. This coming winter she’s thinking around $100.00 a month for her newly re-designed, now 2900 square foot house. Maybe.
Today starts a mini-series about a local project that is very exciting. Gerry’s passion for green and sustainable, combined with the vision of Hastings-on-Hudson archtect Christina Griffin and her team, and the work of uber-contractors Mamaroneck’s Murphy Brothers have merged to bring the eco-transformation of this house to almost completion.
Today the photo-taking starts, and The Refreshed Home has been brought in to help style them. More to follow-can’t be late for the first day!-but here’s the exterior B&A just so you can see how cool this is going to be.
August 11th, 2012
In the 80s and 90s, there was little talk of how someone “felt” when they were buying things and doing stuff to their house.
Everything was about the visual. People spoke, and thought in singular, visionary words: stunning, gorgeous, elegant.
Then feelings entered the picture again….tentitively, at first. Words like warm, inviting and cozy were big, as were simple and peaceful.
Life changed for most of us in 2001, and our homes became our base. They were our refuge, our buffer. They kept gritty reality at a distance, while we yearned for the imposible, to be safe and sane in a scary and uncertain world.
The past decade has had so many of us in holding patterns. Busy doing and coping, keeping up and maintaining. But still waiting.
Even during those wild 80s and rebounding 90s, my client base rarely included people whose focus was procuring. People drawn to to work with me were people choosing to be happy. Planning to be happy, expecting to be happy. It’s what this Westchester County Decorator has always loved best of this business. And it’s b-a-a-a-a-c-k!
Happiness is a choice. But it’s not as easy as it might sound. It’s a choice to accept, let go, and move past who and what held you. It’s daring to want better, and doing something to go after it. It’s actually pretty brave.
Everyday I see Westchester County homeowners who are choosing to be happy. I see their confidence in paint charts, their dreams that look like a floor plan, and their hope that shines in the way of finally cleaned out basements and pared-down closets. I love it!! Better, couldn’t be happier for them!
August 10th, 2012
As an institution, The Refreshed Home holds an individual’s right to vote very dearly, and decries anyone who wants to mess with that. ANYONE.
As we journey through the last weeks of summer, November seems oh-so-far-away. But anyone who treasures this right as much as TRH does need not be concerned about November at the moment. It is the here and now.
Deadlines to register to vote are fast approaching. Do it now, or lose it. Here is the link to get you started in NY State.
Realtors and Movers: Want to reach out to your clients in a meaningful way? Anyone who has changed addresses in the last few years should hear from you on this, send them the link to your local Board of Elections with info on how they might register in a new area.
College-bound? Citizens who will turn 18 by Election Day can register. Use your FB page to remind your peers to register before they leave-and also to inquire/make arrangements NOW about absentee ballots. Post links, and ask others to like and share.
Friends, parents, neighbors: Know anyone whose status/address might have changed? How to quickly and easily register in your municipality is one google search away. Your one tweet, your one post can make a difference.
Similarly, your own status as an eligible voter is not to be taken lightly. Even if you are a regular voter, the rules in your state may have changed without you being aware of it. In the last two years, a whopping 16 states have made changes in their voting laws. That’s right, it’s not just about Florida and Pennsylvania.
At this writing, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin all have changes on the books; Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas have laws that are being challenged.
Legal challenges to these laws will certainly continue after the election. But if you want to make your voice heard in November, you need to be prepared in the way your state now requires. Is there any greater reason to make sure you are able to vote now, that your future interests will be protected??
If you have any reason to question your status, now is the time to check with your local Board of Elections. PLEASE. Here in Westchester County, a quick phone call to the Board of Elections (914.995.5700) can confirm your eligibility on the spot.
Deadlines are fast-approaching: Do it now, or lose it.
President Lyndon Johnson delivering remarks in the Rotundra of the US Capitol after signing the National Voter Registration Act, August 6th, 1965.
LBJ Library/Photo by Frank Wolfe
August 7th, 2012
Many possessions are difficult to part with, but having another place where said possessions can go and be loved and utilized often eases the distress.
Unwanted pianos though are notoriously difficult to adopt-out. They are big, and difficult to move; often in need of some restorative work. Hyper-local facilities like churches, schools, Boys/Girls clubs have usually been the best options.
There was a helpful resource article, Where A Condemned Piano Can Win An Appeal in this mornings NYT. Stagers, Realtors, and Movers-should take special note.
A follow-up actually, in response to comments to an earlier article about old pianos being destroyed because of lack of options-For More Pianos, Last Note is Thud in the Dump
The resources are all over the country-Sacramento and St. Paul are named, as is an online clearinghouse and even an artist in Maine who gives new life to old piano parts (all links in article)…it’s still not going to be like dropping a shopping bag of clothes off at the local thrift shop, but for the passionate and the determined, if all local avenues fail, something else to try. Good luck!!
August 6th, 2012
In sales, many believe objections are just unanswered questions. And that repeated questions about the same topic aren’t really about that topic, they point to other issues that have not been addressed.
As a fairly analytical person myself, I get that, and believe that. For the most part.
“HOME” is so very personal-it holds our hopes and dreams. It’s where we go to face our triumphs and losses, it is the representation of us, and pretty much all we hold dear. It’s tender territory, and in this business, it’s understood that a surprise delivery of emotional baggage can appear at almost any moment. Yet the veracity of online comments to last weekend’s NYT article about Staging really gave me pause.
When I first started this business, I eagerly sought objections (and questions)…they helped shape my business model, and sharpen my message. As time goes on, my ear has become more finely tuned. Am I the only one hearing the one long flat note from people who are just patently unhappy?
It stunned, really stunned me how all the objections were on a purely intellectual basis. By my count, NONE of the negative commenters had any experience with a professional Home Stager…yet EVERYONE who had worked with a Home Stager had a positive comment.
It is not my nature to judge anyone…call me naive (OK, you’re naive!) but I have slowly been coming to the realization that many people with objections don’t REALLY have questions. Like listeners on call-in the sports or political radio shows, they have passionate view points they want to share with the world. They are not about getting anything done, making changes or moving forward. They are fishing for reinforcement, and primed for a fight. They are about their 15 or 30 seconds of fame on a big stage where they get to argue why they are right.
This is their place, and they are comfortable with it. And channeling Seinfeld now….not that there is anything wrong with that! But be very clear on this point: Stubborn and obtuse is not about moving forward, it is being content to stay put, and often, being angry or unhappy.
Everything The Refreshed Home does is about moving forward…be it Staging solutions for your Westchester County property to get it sold quickly, for the best price, or Decorating it so your Westchester home better suits your needs and tastes.
ALL the other stuff, I get. All the emotions that come dealing with going through changes and making decisions, it’s part of the process…in fact, one of the things The Refreshed Home shines at. If something in-or about- your space or stuff is getting in the way of you having your best life possible, bring it on. But if you are looking for an audience to crank on from your armchair-please, turn on your radio instead.
August 4th, 2012
Adult children moving back home was the topic of an article earlier this week in USA Today. It was the latest in a parade of commentaries, citing the obvious. Multi-generational living arrangements is neither news, or a trend. For many people, for many reasons, it’s been reality for a while.
But it’s not just adult children-or financial need at play here. NY Magazine’s look at extended child-bearing years (you know, with the demurely nude, pregnant sexagenarian on the cover!) made me think about how all the blurred lines and out-of-sync life markers have necessitated these changes.
Extended and blended Westchester and Fairfield County families have been part of my client base for years. Yet in 2005-6, while organizing my 30th High school reunion, I was stunned to hear how many of my classmates were raising children of every age…their step-children, or grandchildren. Hosting grown children or parents. Tending to ill or recovering loved ones. Their stories-and their stresses- were a real eye-opener
Look-when life changes and the household size grows, re-thinking where the TV goes, or how the office is set up is probably not high on most people’s priority list-might even seem frivolous. But if your space has become suddenly over-crowded and under-organized, re-evaluating these things is precisely what will bring peace, and a better quality of life to the household.
The same approach works when you are selling a house in Westchester or Fairfield County. The more USE you can demonstrate, the more FUNCTION a buyer sees-the more VALUE your property will have in their eyes. It is the yellow brick road to SOLD.
Neither situation automatically means a mass purge, just putting all the similar stuff together, or filling it with things that just look good. But in all situations you need to drill down and find out exactly who are the people who’ll be using the space. When preparing a house for sale, I ask lots and lots of questions of the Realtor. When considering changes in a home you are already in, getting everyone on board should happen first.
- Decide who gets to vote Decision by committee lends more toward harmony and compliance than dictates or ultimatums.
- Address wants and hopes as well as needs and frustrations Living together can be dicey…consideration of others’ feelings helps foster cooperation.
- Keep the big picture in mind Remember this is about change for gain, not just punitive or subjective calls to give things up.
Tomorrow: How to re-work and modify space, whether you’re staying or selling your Westchester County home
July 29th, 2012
Days fly by so quickly…
As July winds down…and things like boots, plaid, and sales on schools supplies start appearing out of nowhere, it’s easy to short-change the next 31 days known as ‘August”.
To keep the mood going, one of my favorite Summer songs of all time. Aptly titled SUMMER-by the recently reunited group War-it reached #4 on the R&B charts in July 1976.
There is no video here…just grab your favorite summer beverage of choice, lean back, and click here to listen to the full-legnth album version, 6:35 of ear candy. ENJOY!
July 11th, 2012
Melky Cabrera was awarded the MVP trophy at the conclusion of last night’s Major League Baseball All-Star game. Safe to say it’s the current high point of of his professional life, perhaps even his personal one.
Drafted by the Yankees at 17, he played his way up through the farm system, debuting as a NY Yankee three and a half seasons later in July 2005.
Young, shy and with little fluency of the language, Melky communicated through his actions. He was a passionate and joyous player…I believe video tape would prove it was during his tenure in outfield, the multi-player victory jump-bump was born.
A talented fielder, and fan favorite, but his hitting was inconsistent. 2009 was one of his stronger years, where he helped the Yankees win their 28th World Series, but less than a month later was traded to play in Atlanta for 2010.
Atlanta released him at the end of a mediocre season, Kansas City picked him up for the 2011 season, but he was not the same Melky. Rejection and failure had changed him, and he made some decisions in the off-season. He changed his lifestyle and his diet, he lost weight. He worked out a lot, and practiced even more. 2011 saw him setting many career highs. That increased his value, but apparently not enough, for he was traded to San Francisco over the winter.
But he continued his efforts, perhaps even doubling-down, and 2012 has been his best year ever. He is at the top of the entire league in hitting, and is loved and adored by SF fans. They dress and up as “Melk-Men” at games, flooded the ballot box, getting him a starting position in the mid-season classic…. and now he is the MVP of this years’ game.
Rejection and failure are the pits. It hurts, it’s embarrassing, even humiliating. And even if we care very deeply about what is at stake, it can shame us into retreat; withdrawing totally, or start a simmering pot of anger or resentment. Or it can make us better.
“Accepting” Rejection and failure does not mean being content about it.
And it doesn’t have to be a final destination, either.
Instead I suggest by honestly acknowledging our situation or results, and how we feel about them, we define our own ‘bottom’.
We need to know where we are, just as much as where we want to be, if we want to have any hope of creating a successful course for getting there.
We all have our own stories of inspiration, people who’ve battled through dark times, to triumph. I am a sucker for the quiet successes. While not particularly sportive myself, the personal power an individual has to make a difference in sports has always intrigued and inspired me, paralleling the potential I feel have to make a difference in both my life, and my business.
I have been an unabashed Melky fan from the begining. His original Yankee #28 replica tshirt is on top of my tshirt pile, and sheer luck of the draw, I got him in the AR Fantasy baseball league draft. Last night I could not be happier for his success, or more inspired to pursue new ones for myself. Congrats, Melky- HAPPY to YOU!
June 29th, 2012
A weekend party in your future? Quick and easy, gazpacho makes a colorful splash, and tons of vitamins-it’s a semi-exotic, and healthy alternative to chips/etc, and the dueling mayonnaise-laden ‘salads’.
Courtesy of my friend Kate Bialo, and the award-winning cookbook Southern Sideboards of the Junior League of Jackson Missisippi is Mrs. Richard Greenlee’s recipe for the best gazpacho EVER.
I guess you could use a food processor, but I like the texture that comes from chopping by hand, not smooth/pureed, but not like salsa, either; plus you really taste all the ingredients.
This recipe says it serves 10, but you may be surprised at how fast it goes. Perfect for make-ahead, and it keeps for up to five days; I’ve doubled it for just Doug and I. Add a loaf of fresh crusty bread and you’ve got a meal-ENJOY!
VERY FINELY CHOP BY HAND
2 cups peeled tomatoes 1 cup green pepper
1 cup celery 1 cup cucumber
1/2 cup onion 4 tsp. chopped parsley
2 tsp. snipped chives 2 cloves minced garlic
5 to 6 TBSP red wine vinegar 4 TBSP olive oil
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups SPICY V-8 juice
Mix, and thoroughly chill
June 13th, 2012
Regular readers will know that I have been unapologetically, though cautiously optimistic about the housing market since the fall. From where I stood, had been seeing-hearing-FEELING!-a swing back towards reality with buyers, sellers and agents.
Not a wide, or particularly scientific sampling, to be sure, but RE is uber-local, and this was my experience: There was more acceptance-seasoned with some resignation, to be sure-but that many were making, or had made the powerful decision that it was time to move on, and choose being happy in whatever way they could.
Recently I found myself doubting my perception. Not from any market report or set of sales figures. Nothing to do with the overseas economies, our local markets or the upcoming elections. No, it was the announcement that Burger King is offering a Bacon Sundae as part of their summer menu.
I’m sorry, this is just so wrong, on so many levels.
It has only a little to do with overall calorie and nutritional content…the vanilla soft serve topped with fudge, caramel and bacon crumbles comes in at 510 calories and 61 grams of sugar (yes, including the bacon strip garnish!); there are plenty of other heavy-hitting desserts out there.
Instead I find this devil-may-care attraction to something WE ALL KNOW will come back to haunt us oddly reminiscent of when the bubble was building.
The housing market cannot afford any guilty pleasures right now. If this becomes anything more than a quickie novelty, I’m concerned the craving for this short-term cheap thrill will show the fondness for living in la-la land has not really left us. I know it’s just ice cream, but I’m just sayin’….