Tuesday, 20 January 2015


VORFREUDE: the joyful, intense anticipation that comes from future pleasures.

Sunshine. Icy cold. Glistening snow. Yup! Today is absolutely perfect. Anticipation bubbles up inside me; I am filled with vorfreude. The time is now ripe for my favourite winter activity.

Ice fishing? Snowshoeing? Sledding? Snowmobiling? You list the possibilities.

I shake my head. No.

Curling? you persist.

I'll leave that to my ten year old "Little Rocks" granddaughter.

Ahhh! Skiing, you finally pronounce. I can just picture you.

Thanks for the mental image, but no, I simply state. My osteoporosis diagnosis killed any downhill thrills. I'll leave skiing to the Crazy Canuck talents of my seven year old grandson. Although now that you mention it, I did see an invention that may work for me:

Then what? you mutter, frustrated with this tiresome guessing game.

My equipment and supplies sit ready. I am pumped. Let the rustle, squeak, scratch and tapping of my favourite winter activity commence. Yup! It is time for me to plan our annual trip. I look forward with eager anticipation all year to this, my favourite winter activity. Where will we go? has always been one of my favourite questions and until I click Confirm on the airline website, our destination could be anywhere. Possibilities abound. New experiences, new sites,new foods await.

I devour books on travel. I sit transfixed when viewing travel movies and TV. I listen intently to anyone and everyone's travel adventures. Get the picture? Quite simply, I love travelling, but frankly admit that the anticipation, dreaming and planning process place a close second in my heart. So let the maps and travel books rustle. Let my highlighters and pencils squeak and scratch. And let my computer keys tap with research and reservations.

Where will we go?

Saturday, 17 January 2015


Ugh! I groused, staring out the window on this blustery, cold winter's day. Snow persisted in accumulating on our Uxbridge roads. Temperatures continued to plunge into the double digit negative range. Imagine! Double ugh! And to think I have to go out in it. Moan! Groan! All my winter whining could not take away from the fact that having food in one's home is a good thing.  And so, bundled up like Nanook of the North, I ventured forth. Did I mention that I am Canadian?

One minute into my drive, all negative muttering ceased. Haunting in its beautiful muted light, January's sun spilled through the snowy cloud cover ahead. Like a golden glowing spotlight, it spoke to me of the surrounding beauty in my life if only I would take the time to look. Immediately my thoughts turned to our dear friend whose current journey is not-car driven, but cancer-driven. For whom no choice of destination exists. For whom the experience of hundreds of such cold, chilly Canadian days would be joyously welcomed.

Snowflakes, fluffy and seemingly weightless, danced like dandelion seeds on the wind, ultimately clothing the barren limbs of trees. Lit by the diminished brightness of the sun, white fields and yards glistened.  Elgin Pond echoed with the excited sounds of snow being shovelled to make room for an outdoor shinny, hockey game. With each foot driven, my smile increased. What a truly glorious morning.

Why, I chastise myself, does it take the final journey of a dear friend to make me appreciate the beauty in each and every day? 

What day is it?
It's today, squeaked Piglet.
My favourite day, said Pooh.

Thursday, 8 January 2015


In the real estate business you learn more about people, you learn about community issues, you learn more about life, you learn more about the impact of government, probably more than any other profession I know of. Johnny Isakson, United States Senator

I am profoundly grateful to have enjoyed a real estate career that spanned an amazing, rewarding thirty-five years including stints as a Real Estate Sales Representative, Broker, Branch Manager and Area Manager for Royal LePage, Brokerage Owner (Broker of Record), Vice Chair of Professional Standards at the Toronto Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association Instructor, Toronto Real Estate Board Outreach Program Facilitator and Complaints, Compliance and Discipline Committee panel member at the Real Estate Council of Ontario. Do I feel qualified to write about the industry? Hell, yes! Anyways, you can't stop me; this is MY blog and these are MY reflections.

Beyond the point of no return? you ask. In January, 2013, I terminated my real estate licence.  Time to join my husband, Jim, in his retirement. Ontario law (The Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, to be specific) allows a two year absence from the industry, after which all required course work and registration requirments must be redone and rightfully so.  However, that ain't happening here.  I have reached the point of no return. It has taken two years of adjustment, but I have learned to love retirement. This is my time for me; this is my time for my grandchildren. How did I find the time to work? I now find myself asking.

Make no mistake; this blog is not about sales representatives whose sole interest is lining their personal pocketbooks; it is not about the scourge of uninformed, unprofessional so-called 'agents' who spend their careers attempting to evade the requirements of Ontario real estate law, risking client investment along the way; it is not about gigantic brokerage barns who hire anything that breathes and can pay desk fees; it is not about Brokers of Record who take no interest in the professional development of their sales staff. Hmmm? All fodder for future blogs, though, don't you think? This blog IS about me reflecting on what is absolutely good in the real estate industry - the professionals who care. 
Unless your real estate sales representative/ broker is in possession of a fortune teller's crystal ball, they cannot and should not predict what equity you will realize in your investment by next year, exactly what will happen to real estate values or where mortgage rates are definitely headed. Line up twenty economists and each would offer different answers for each of these questions. Real estate professionals are no different. So what exactly do good 'agents' do then? Just to list a few tasks provided often 24/7, how about advise, analyze, advocate, educate, guide, listen, communicate, market, negotiate, be proactive and decipher a myriad of legal paperwork. Whew!

The Lynn Kongkhams, Susie Stroms, Izzi Popats, Clare Woolgars, Len Chapmans and Diane Depasses represent for me what makes the real estate industry great and how I wish to remember it. Thankfully, my list is too extensive to enumerate and is obviously not inclusive of all the talent to be found in Ontario. Consistently putting their clients' best interests first, these consummate professionals treat very seriously the task of handling most people's single largest investments. No platitudes voicing what the client "wants" to hear. Just honest, experience and market-based opinions on what the client "needs" to hear.  Their transactions could be counted on to be legally clean, always preserving and protecting their clients' best interests. Real estate is in their blood; they live, breathe and love their profession of fulfilling dreams. They earn and deserve every penny of the commissions charged.  

I would be remiss not to mention backing by quality front desk staff such as the Jackie Uprichards of the industry.  How they balance ringing phones, incoming faxes, a plethora of emails, appointment requests, clients needs, information demands, pushy 'agents', and, and, and is beyond me. As the front-line and first point of contact, real estate offices would fall apart without their calm multi-faceted talents.  Support from the Hugh Foys, Brenda Gwilliams and Marg Gourlays of TREB's Outreach Program and ongoing guidance from the staff at RECO round out the extraordinary depth of professionalism in our Ontario real estate industry.

And so, as I pass the point of "real estate no return", I am grateful for my time spent in this vibrant, exciting, fulfilling world. It has been a honour to work with some of the best. I dream of an industry representatived by professional, caring sales representatives, brokers and brokerages, supported by quality in-house staff, and innovatively led by TREB and RECO.  What more could the real estate buying public ask for!