I wonder what’s wrong when everything’s going right.

My life has so many things going on that if I am not feeling pressure from somewhere, I feel pressure to … well, to feel pressure. I know this sounds a little weird, but it’s true. I seem to be loosing the ability to just chill out and veg for a while. This is an ability that I want to nurture, not negate!

I have recently read about a number of countries where the people work less hours, take more vacation, retire younger and live longer than the average U.S. citizen. I’m puzzled a bit by this. Don’t you have to work hard for all those things? I think so. At least that is what I’ve been told.

Still, I want to remove any unnecessary pressure and get rid of the annoying pressure-caused lump in my left shoulder that gives me frequent headaches.  Maybe I just need to allow myself to relax. Maybe I can figure out a way to let some of the unnecessary pressure melt away.

I hereby pledge to rebuild, restructure and recreate my self, in order to reduce stress and really enjoy my time on the space ship planet earth. I am now ready to enjoy more fully my holiday on earth by, well, focusing on the goal to recreate myself. I commit to spend more time doing the things that are really important and the things that I really love doing. I conclude that these things will recreate me and in so doing they will become my “recreation”.  With more recreation will come more peace, less pressure and even greater happiness. I know it will. It just makes sense.

Unfortunately as I start this new undertaking I feel a whole new pressure to achieve a state of feeling less pressure. Go figure.

Just what the Doctor ordered.

A while back  my wife received her Doctorate. She was already a highly successful and respected Geriatric Nurse Practitioner specializing in Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia at the University Medical Center. Her Doctorate will probably not result in any more income, respect or personal recognition. So why would someone go through the headache, hassle, and extremely hard work for the degree? Its simple, and its a great example to me. My wife wasn’t after accolades or riches, she just wanted to have the best education available in her field so that she could provide the best care possible to her patients.

She knows and understands intimately the importance of making a difference in the lives of those she cares for. She was willing to make the sacrifices she has in order to help the people, one at a time, in her care. Her focus is on the patient and not on herself. That is what makes her one of the very best in her field. I am so proud of her and hold her as a model for my life. I too believe in the power of the individual. I consider it a honor and a privilege when I, like her, can help make a difference in the individual lives that I come in contact with.

I’ve had some fun since her Doctorate defense referring to her as “Doctor” all the time.  She went along with it for a while but has recently informed me that if I don’t knock it off, I wouldn’t like what the Doctor would prescribe. So I, like all wise men should, took the advise of a trained medical professional and altered my behavior. I’m back to calling her “sweetheart.” But I admit, whenever I see her in her white coat, a chill goes up my spine.

Skeleton in my doorway.

A while back my wife and I were at Warwick Castle in England, which by the way is one of the most amazing places in the whole world. I was almost speechless when I first walked up to it. Wow. I loved it and hope to return someday.

Anyhow, while we were there the original dungeon of this huge castle (more like a small city) was open and we wandered down. It was frightening to say the least. The stone floors and central gutter are still bloodstained from when unspeakable things happened there. One thing that really hit home for me was the steel cage that hung from the ceiling where real live people were locked in a standing position for days, weeks, months and frequently until death. What brought back this horrific memory was a silly decoration that hung in our kitchen doorway during Halloween and that bonked me on the head a number of times as I passed by. It was a toy steel cage with a skeleton in it. It has given me pause to think. How many of us go through life in a steel cage of our own making? How many of us are restricted, confined and imprisoned by personality traits, lack of skills or experience that keeps the key to our success and happiness far out of reach. Unfortunately, too many of us. It is also unfortunate that many people are unwilling to make the changes necessary to break those bonds and set themselves free. Even when those changes are not that hard to make.

If nothing else that little skeleton reminded me that I need to make sure that the habits, thoughts and processes that could imprison me are overcome and kept out of my life. We’re only here for a short time. We need to make the most of it. We have a choice. Let’s stay out of the dungeon.

Life is a wheel.

Sure enough. Life is a wheel, always spinning but returning again and again to where it has already been. I think that also pertains to our behaviors and actions and to the cyclical nature of this planet and all things that on it are. Even us people.

We have the rotation of the earth with the rising and setting of the Sun. We have Spring followed by Summer followed by Fall followed by Winter followed by Spring again as it all starts over. We plant, we nurture, we sustain and we harvest and then we plant again. Everywhere I look I see a cycle. Even in my own life.

My desk gets cluttered with piles of work, then somehow becomes less and less a mess until it looks pretty clean. Then suddenly, as though by magic, it is again cluttered and the whole process starts again. My brain also has it’s cycles. I find myself strangely at peace at times and then the stress grows and grows and I feel overwhelmed. So it has been in the recent past. I guess my Church, civic and business responsibilities began to weigh heavily on me.

Now the cycle has rotated to a more level field. My daughter-in-law just gave birth to a beautiful new granddaughter. My civic responsibilities are winding down to a manageable level, and my church service is less hectic.  Maybe all it took was a recommitment from me and a realignment of my priorities. Or maybe its just this part of the cycle. I’m not sure which. What I am sure of is that I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

The positive spin on real estate should make you dizzy.

Here’s a little reality check on the positive spin we are seeing today on real estate.

I read and listen to a wide variety of news sources and I have to just shake my head in disgust when someone touts the great growth of the current real estate market. Recently the Standard & Poors/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released figures showing a 9.3% increase in home prices in 20 major metro areas. Sounds good hu? Before you get too excited, lets look at some facts.

First, even after the recent price increases, home prices are still about 30% lower than they were at their peak in 2006. Try to rent a vacation home in Cape Coral today vs. 10 years ago and tell me the pricing difference, I dare you. Current prices are at the level of those in 2003. So simply put, prices today are the same as they were were a decade ago. When you couple that fact with the bargain basement mortgage rates of today (that are more than 40% lower that they were in 2003) you realize that any strength being show is largely a result of the mortgage rates. If rates were where they were ten years ago (almost twice as high) I suspect that the housing market would still be sliding down and not climbing up. More “Sell my house fast Thornton” requests coming.

The single family home market was unfortunately fueled by greed and stupidity, a deadly combination. Too many people acted as though it was a huge-profit investment opportunity and it became the equivalent of a Ponzi scheme. New buyers kept paying the profits to the previous buyers, until the bubble burst.  Yes some people made money, but look at how many lost everything. There are far better ways to invest than to count on the “One greater fool theory.”  This theory says that “Even if I was stupid enough to pay too much, there will surely be one greater fool who will pay even more to but it from me.”  That’s just bad business.

If an investor will replace the greed with intelligence he/she can still find excellent ways to build wealth with real estate today. Opportunities abound. Real Estate has always been and always will be the basis of all wealth. It happens every day for those that know what they are doing, and it can happen for you. Good luck.


Don’t Panic!

In a market where you read conflicting news about the real estate investment market almost daily, the first and most important thing to remember is DON’T PANIC. Have the courage to fight the short term battle in order to win over the long haul.

Real estate by its very nature is a long term investment. While there are ways to earn income over a short period of time, the greatest wealth building that utilizes real estate as an investment takes time. The compounding of values adds up to a staggering amount if you’ll have the patience to wait a few years. Buying and selling based on short market movements is akin to investors who watch the ticker tape and sell as soon as a stock price looses a little ground. Odd lot buyers (small time investors who buy less than 100 shares of a stock at a time) are notorious for making bad purchase and sales decisions. They seem to watch a stock grow in value until they are finally convinced it will keep going up forever; then they buy. Unfortunately for them, this occurs typically at or near the top of the bell curve and soon the stock starts to slide. When that happens, they panic and sell. They seem to forget that all stocks go up and down in value during differing periods of time, but over the long haul the good ones always go up. Interestingly, there are successful stock speculators who do nothing more that watch the odd lot numbers and then do exactly the opposite. Just think what you could have achieved if you had watched all the small time “get-rich-quick” buyers and then done exactly the opposite. Wow … you would have made a bundle. Therein is the difference between the unprofessional and amature speculator, and the seasoned professional. I did not lose one red cent in the great market downturn! I’m sorry if you did.

Like it or not, to maximize your return in real estate, you will need to weather some storms. This is yet another good reason for buying right in the first place. If you are stretched so tight that you cannot make it through the lean times and are forced to sell, you may never see the fat times full of profit.

The trick, if there is a trick, is to do your homework before you buy. It is far better than being taught a lesson by the marketplace. When you buy, expect some good and some bad, because you’ll have both. Be patient and give the market time to rebound from any corrections and you will benefit greatly. Real estate is the basis for all wealth. Get your share and then let it do its thing over a long enough period that it will meet your goals. Wealth building is most successful with an intelligent mind, a patient attitude and a pocket book deep enough to smooth out the rough spots on the road to success. Good luck in your career, and remember, no matter what happens, don’t panic.