Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Giving thanks... being grateful... appreciating abundance, blessings, family, food...

My first two attempts at writing this blog were a bit (okay, a lot) cynical. I found myself starting to write from the viewpoint that we all take this one day of the year to be grateful, and the other 364 to be ungrateful. But ya know, when it was coming out, it felt wrong... unnatural... because I'm not a cynic. I'm a cock-eyed optimist, a wee bit of a Pollyanna, the perpetual cheerleader in the game of life. So I'm not going to fight it...

I am grateful! I'm thankful today, tomorrow and every day for the wonderful things in my life, and for the not so wonderful things that have made me as strong as I am. I'm thankful for the mistakes I've made, because I've learned from them. I'm thankful for the people in my past who have hurt me, because they have helped me to grow. I'm thankful for the difficult times I've gone through, because I'm better for them.

It's fine to be thankful for family, friends, abundance, and other great things, but I feel we need to be thankful for the pain, too. A life without pain is a life without passion... a life without growth... a life without depth. We wish no suffering on ourselves or others, but unfortunately, it is inevitable. People we love hurt us, we lose loved ones, we suffer health issues, poverty, despair... Although we all suffer, what defines us is what we do with that pain. Do we wallow in it? Allow it to consume us and sap all joy from our being? Or do we grow from it? Perhaps we develop compassion for others and use our experience to help another through their pain. Perhaps it develops in us a forgiving heart and we gain inner peace.

I'm not advocating that we stand around the Thanksgiving table and give thanks for the terrible things that have happened in our lives, but what I am saying is, while you're alone some time... be it tomorrow, or any other day, let's be a little grateful for how we've grown through adversity.

I think I'm going to try it, right here... cuz ya know, gotta practice what I preach! So my friends, here goes:

While I am not in the slightest bit thankful or happy that I lost my mother when I was 10, I am grateful that the experience taught me compassion for others who have gone through similarly difficult times.

While I'm not at all thankful that from the age of 10 on I had no one in my life I could lean on, I'm grateful that the experience taught me independence and gave me the ability to deal with most any situation on my own.

While I sincerely regret the mistakes I made as a parent, I'm grateful that the experience taught me the healing forgiveness of the two most important people in my life, and grateful that we share the deep loving bond we do.

While I grieve for my father's failing health, I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to care for him and show him how much I love him.

Hmmmmm.... that felt kinda good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Home Town

Today I was reminded of what it means to have a "Home Town"!!!

You see... until I moved to Boise, Idaho I never had one. My father was in the Air Force until I was 10. During that time we lived in Maine, California, Germany, Washington and Arkansas. Then I joined the Air Force myself and started over. Hawaii, Nebraska, Germany, then settling in Idaho. My goodness! In 27 years I'd lived in 9 different states/countries! That doesn't count all the moves within states/countries! The longest I'd lived in one place was the four years I spent in high school in Ferndale, Washington.

I remember in high school hearing my friends talk about people they'd known since Kindergarten and thinking, "Wow! That would be so cool!" I couldn't imagine knowing someone my whole life!!! I was a bit envious and a whole lot intrigued!

I was always fascinated by the "small world" coincidences in life. You know, seeing someone from your childhood... Specific incidents stand out in my memory: in Air Force Basic Training I met a wonderful young man from Champaign, Illinois... we talked and found out that our grandmothers lived a mile apart in Trier, Germany! We thought that was a sign from God that we were meant to be together and actually got engaged for a short time! (okay... gimme a break, I was 17!!!). Later, when I was in Germany working for the American Red Cross, a man came into my office whom I had graduated high school with! Here in Boise I met my friend's boyfriend, and after what I call "military butt-sniffing" we realized we had been stationed at the same teeny-tiny air station in Germany at the same time! Yeah, pretty cool coincidences, and I got an incredible kick out of having a connection with people from my past!

Side note: Military Butt-Sniffing - an act wherein each individual involved asks such questions as: "Where were you stationed?" "What did you do?" Did you know _________?"
Similar to "Idaho Butt-Sniffing" - wherein each individual asks, "Where did you go to school?" "Who was your math teacher?" "Did you know _____________?"
Similar to "Doggy Butt-Sniffing" - (without verbalizing, only sniffing) "Where did you last poop?", "Where do you go for your grooming?" "Do you know ______________?"

I have now lived in Boise, Idaho for almost 16 years. It still amazes me!!! Better yet, my kids have lived here almost their entire lives! (they're 23 & 21) Invariably one or the other will tell me, "I ran into so and so that I went to kindergarten/elementary/jr. high with". Whenever that happens, I get a little thrill!

My kids have a connection!!!!!

I am so happy that circumstances have allowed me to give them this precious, precious gift! I'm sure they don't really appreciate it, only because it's a known to them... but take it from one who's never known that kind of connection... it is a beautiful, beautiful thing. To feel you really belong gives a sort of comfort... a security if you will.

Today I got to see a bit of that, yet again... and it thrilled me as it always does (I never get tired of it!!!)

I was online, on facebook, and was posting a message on a friend's profile. This is a new friend, one I met through blogging, via an initial connection through her father, who is a dear friend of mine as well. I noticed that one of her friends was also the best friend of my son. I commented on that, and mentioned that she probably knew my son. It turned out that she knew my son through friends of hers that he snowboarded with, and knew my daughter by meeting her at Bogus Basin.

Okay, that got me fascinated enough... (seriously, the whole connection thing is such an enigma to me... )

We emailed more...

Turns out that she, my son and my daughter all went to the same high school here in Boise within a few years of each other! I showed my daughter her picture and she said, "Oh yeah! I know her!" My son said, when I mentioned it to him, "I know who you mean! Does she have long dark hair?"

You're probably thinking right now, "Big deal!" My own daughter couldn't get why I got such a kick out of it.

Let me tell you... it is a big deal.

Unless you've never had that kind of connection with your world, it's hard to appreciate it. Yes, it's very cool to have lived in many different places, but there's nothing like the connection of having a place to call home, to know that you have roots and that they are firmly planted in the soil of your hometown, to be able to say, "I'm from ___________", to say when you're in your 40's or 50's, "Yeah, I went to Boise High, too! Class of ______"

In my life there had been only one place I could go and feel I was "home". Whenever I would fly to Germany, I would step out of the plane, go out of the airport, and my eyes would fill with tears of joy... I was home... I was in the land of my family, and although I had only lived there less than a quarter of my life, I was, in my mind, home.

Now, when I fly into Boise, my eyes fill with tears of joy... I am home... I am in the land of my family, and since I've lived here almost 16 years and raised my family, I am... home.

As usual, I have sort of a point here... Today's conversation with my friend made me think how precious it is to have a connection in life... to have roots... to have a place to go home to. In a way I envy the connection my children have with their friends from the past. I sometimes wish I knew someone from elementary or jr. high school. But more than that, it makes me hope that those who do have that sort of connection really appreciate it!

(Aren't the little things in life incredibly amazing????)

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'm not going to apologize any more...

... for what I do for a living.

I am a mortgage lender.

Yes, one of those. Better (or worse) yet, for the past eight years I've worked for (dare I say it out loud?) Countrywide Home Loans. Yes! I admit it! I was with the demons of the industry! The company that single-handedly brought down the housing industry! Yes, I know... it's ridiculous, but over the past two years, that's the impression people had based on what the media spouted. We now (hopefully) know that there was a cataclysmic perfect storm of events, fueled by greed, that brought about the current housing situation. Investors got greedy and created bizarre loan programs so that anyone with a pulse could by a house, the lenders adopted them and often provided incentives to loan officers to sell them, and (horror of horrors) homebuyers often learned how to manipulate their way into some pretty big houses as well. No one, from consumer to market backer is innocent in this debacle.

But I'm getting off track here...

"My name is Kim and I'm a mortgage lender." (chorus of "Hi, Kim!" inserted here)

and I'm very proud of it!!!

For the past six years, I have helped hundreds of people buy their first home, buy their vacation or move up home, or leverage the equity (yeah, there used to be such a thing) in their home to better their lives. I've helped a couple structure a new loan so that the wife could handle it alone after her terminally ill husband passed away, I've helped my physically disabled friend support his grandson and be there for his dying sister, I've helped many of my friends' children buy their very first home... I made a difference.

Many of us made a very real difference in people's lives. I'm not so naive that I think every person in this industry is pure as the driven snow - I've known some whose tactics have made me physically ill, but the vast, vast majority of people are in this industry for the joy of bettering others' lives. I admit, when you have a strong business, you make a great living, but you get a strong business by doing the right thing - all the time. When you compromise your morals and let the dollar rule over the conscience, eventually it will bite you in the butt.

Over the past nearly two years, when people would ask me what I do for a living, I would brace myself for the inevitable... "Oh my God! I bet it's really hard on you!" or the 167 statements about everything that went wrong in the economy and why it's all the lenders fault.. And then... "You work where???" "My brother's sister's cousin's aunt twice removed has a Countrywide loan and they're screwing him/her!" At first I tried to defuse the situation with facts about the industry and suggestions as to who to talk to, what a sub-prime loan is, and why they are the way they are while imparting a bit of sympathy. After a while, I got tired of people not listening, so I just nodded sympathetically and murmured platitudes such as, "I'm so sorry, that must be so difficult".

It wore me out... It made me doubt my choice of career... My business fell off in large part due to the economy, but also because I, like many of my lending brothers and sisters, had become so discouraged at the constant barrage of negativity that I couldn't muster up the energy to go out and try to get business. I started to quit caring if I made a difference... I only wanted to go home and escape. The career that I'd been so proud of suddenly became the albatross around my neck. I thought about getting out... but for what? To make a salary doing a job I really didn't like and losing all control over my destiny?

Fortunately my coach understood my struggles... he reminded me of why I do what I do. He encouraged me, pushed me and gave me tools to re-ignite the fire. I won't say it was easy, some of the tasks he gave me to complete I completed half-heartedly. But he never gave up on me... he knew I could get the fire back if we just worked it hard enough. He encouraged me when I made the ultimate decisions: first to step out of management and a guaranteed income, even though I was terrified of not having money to pay my bills, and later, to leave the comfort of the company I'd worked at for eight years and follow my heart and my friends to a new company.

My clients never gave up on me. When I would go through changes, they would call or email to encourage me. I would get random calls from clients I'd done loans for several years ago, just to see how I was doing. When I left Countrywide to come here, to Guild Mortgage, I had literally dozens of emails and phone calls encouraging me, promising referrals, and asking for mortgage reviews! They reminded me that yes, I had made a difference in their lives.

Thanks to the support and encouragement of my clients, and my business/life coach Bill, I'm not going to apologize any more for what I do for a living!

I love my job! I love the marketing, I love the challenge, I love the families I help!

I chose this, of all times, to reinvent my "brand". I'm starting anew... new picture, cool new cards, letterhead, envelopes, logo, etc... I'm investing in my business like I haven't for a very long time.

Yesterday when I was out hiking and thinking, I reminded myself:

I love what I do, and I'm damn good at doing it!

Next time someone asks me what I do for a living I'm going to say with a light in my eye and a smile on my face,

"I'm a mortgage loan officer!" and I'm going to ask if they know anyone looking for a mortgage. I'm not going to meekly proclaim, "I'm in the mortgage industry"

I'm going to remember that every day I have the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life. Every day I have the opportunity to make a new friend! Every day I have control of my future.


"There is one quality that one must possess to win,
and that is definiteness of purpose,
the knowledge of what one wants,
and a burning desire to possess it."
- Napoleon Hill
It's about time I got that burning desire back! And it feels sooooooo good!
To everyone reading this blog, I encourage you to do what you love, and love what you do... do it all with purpose and goodness... do it for the right reasons... do it with the right attitude...
“There is very little difference in people,
but that little difference makes a big difference.
The little difference is attitude.
The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”
- W. Clement Stone

And enjoy your life... every day... work or play...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cast of Characters

Family... it's all about family... Our greatest joy, our greatest pain. Since you'll be sharing my life and my musings, I thought it only fair that I introduce you to the cast of characters in my world.

Chris - my 23 year old son. Born exactly a week after my 20th birthday. Chris epitomizes the term "individual"! He is the explorer of all, the extremist, and the non-conformist. Chris is part of a group called "Straight Edge". For those who don't know, it's sort of a sub-culture here in Boise. The straight edge "kids" swear off drinking, smoking, drugs and gratuitous sex (pretty cool, eh?) They typically have tattoos, piercings, etc. and a lot of them are involved in activities like going to independent music shows, bike racing (Chris does cyclo-cross), anything that keeps them active! Chris isn't into the piercings, but has at last count 13 tattoos. Some beautiful artwork I must say! He has that sweet innocent look, so the tatts can be a bit of a surprise!

Kayte - my 21 year old daughter. 21 going on 40! Kayte is the mature, responsible, shy one. Please don't ask where that came from! She works with me as my assistant, and has done so for the past three years. Kayte and I are so very different that I often wonder if I got the wrong kid at the hospital! (kidding) She's told often enough that she looks like her mom that there isn't any doubt she's mine. I admire her beyond belief... and at times we annoy each other beyond belief! She and I spend a lot of off work time together, too... dinner, movies, hiking with her dog, etc. It's a miracle we don't get tired of each other, but it's great when either of us just wants some company that we can call each other up and figure out something to do!

Those are my kids... my beautiful individuals... my prides and my joys. I am in awe at the wonder that is these two human beings and I thank God for them.

The rest of the cast:

Dad - Dad will be 73 soon. My dad suffers from advanced Parkinson's Disease and dementia. Not Alzheimer's, but a dementia much more quickly advancing. The combination is called either Lewy Body Disease or Parkinson's Plus. From just a bit of difficulty walking to needing to be spoon fed and unable to stand took about three years. I admire my dad for the father he was, and love him beyond belief. My heart breaks for losing the strong, athletic man he was - but there is a special blessing in the caring for him.

Stepmom - She and my dad have been married about 30 years. I do consider her my mom in some respects, as my mom died 33 years ago, but since I'll be writing about both, I'd better differentiate. Stepmom is a loud, annoying (at times) German woman (without the accent) who has a heart full of love.

Mom - My mom was my champion when she was alive! She died of colon cancer at age 42, when I was 10 years old. I grieve for her still today - and I grieve for me... for what I missed. When all I wanted to do was read, she supported me... when my brothers picked on me for sucking my thumb, she made them leave me alone. She was the one in my life I connected with, and when she died I felt all alone in the world. Mom inspired me to start writing when I needed an outlet for my pain and felt I had no one to share it with... Mom was German as well, and boy did she ever have the thick accent! When she got mad at us kids, the accent got so bad we couldn't understand a word she said, and when she got really mad we couldn't understand cuz all English was forgotten! I remember asking my German teacher in high school what "ahgotnomal" meant... she gave me a blank look... years later I realized Mom was saying "Ach Gott, noch mal!" English equivalent: "Oh God! Not again!"

Inge, Detlev, Mike and Terri - Sisters and brothers. Will share with you later about the names! Inge, Detlev and Mike are older, Terri is two years younger. Inge lives in Germany, Detlev in Tacoma, WA, Mike in Georgia and Terri in Shelton, WA. We're kinda weird in that we truly love and like each other! We're lacking in the more typical adult sibling conflicts!

Sean and Jeff - Stepbrothers, who are actually brothers - from Stepmom's first marriage, but adopted by my dad when their jerk of a bio-father decided being a dad wasn't in his game plan. Sean lives in North Carolina, and Jeff here in Meridian, Idaho.

You'll meet more of the people in my world, but figured the immediate family was a good place to start.

Welcome to my world!

For the past year (or so) I've been blogging on myspace (much to the chagrin of my kids who think I'm too old to be on myspace!) and was recently inspired by a wonderful young lady to change my forum. Well... that, and my business/life coach has been on my butt to get back into blogging, and myspace just seems too... well... limiting! So, here goes!

Welcome to my world... my world of Life After 40! Why Life After 40? Well... I remember as a child thinking 40 was sooooooo old! I had fleeting thoughts of dying at 40... I couldn't imagine being so ancient! Well, now I'm here, actually comfortably past "here", still alive, still kickin', and enjoying life more than I ever thought possible! My kids are grown, and we have lots of fun together, I have the most amazing friends in the world, I've done more of the things I've wanted to do in the past few years than I've done in all my life... life is good right now!

Why blog? As with many of us here, I need the outlet of writing. Yes, I could write privately, but I've found that sharing has brought healing. When I've blogged about pain, invariably someone has shared something with me that has given me peace. Also, often I've put something in my blog that has brought someone else peace... and that's what it's all about - giving and receiving peace, healing and friendship.

I hope that what I share adds to your life, even if it's just a laugh!