5 Words that Best Describe Me:
A Little Bit About Me:
The Prequel to My Real Estate Career
I grew up in a log cabin that my parents literally built themselves (my mom was 8 months pregnant with me) in Day, NY overlooking the Sacandaga. My parents were pretty strict (think raisins in my Easter Basket and the only TV show I watched till about 10 was “wild discovery”). I vividly remember my first chocolate being a nestle crisp bar from the “little red store” after loosing my top tooth. It was like Heaven. We had to walk essentially down and up a mountain every day just to get the mail and my mom tells me she forced me to walk it on my own in my snowsuit at 2 years old (possibly where my grit comes from). I have a younger brother as my only sibling who is almost 6 years younger. The story goes that I was never the same after he came home from the hospital and was a pretty jealous sibling after having my parents all to myself for 6 years!! When the demands of driving to childhood activities combined with my dad wanting to start a business became too much to keep up with from where we lived, we moved to Glens Falls NY around 1989 and there is where I formed most of my friendships that are still in existence today. Glens Falls is where I eventually graduated from in 1998 however in between that first move and graduation there were a lot of “adventures” including a move across the country to New Mexico and Colorado in 7th grade and ultimately moving back east and my parents purchasing a farmhouse in Argyle NY (which is where my brother graduated from) in 9th grade. My childhood wasn’t necessarily defined by any one thing but I was competing many sports (basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, etc) and I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I REALLY enjoyed winning. I also worked very hard from a young age and it was always a means to an end for me. We didn’t have much money. It’s funny because I can remember going out to dinner maybe 5 times in my entire childhood (it was my dream to go to red lobster) and going out to dinner now is part of who our family is. I liked having what I wanted so for me there was no choice but to work. It started with a paper route at 12 which ironically I hear a lot as a shared first job among successful business owners. From there my first “real” job was a chambermaid at the Days Inn at Lake George. I was 14. Fun times for 4.25 an hour. I babysat, worked at an ice cream shop (where I gained 25 lbs my first summer as a 16 year old), and eventually landed at my favorite job which was waitressing. I LOVED the fact that I was really good at doing multiple things at once and I took it as a personal challenge to remember everything when it was busy. I loved the concern on peoples faces as I took a full order of an 8 top without writing it down. I can remember dreaming about waitressing and not being able to get orders in the computer fast enough. This is something I continued through community college at ACC while I was playing competitive basketball and volleyball. The high paced restaurant environment excited me.
From here I went to Boston to college at Northeastern University where I majored in psychology and elementary education. This was my first experience in an Urban environment and I was out of my element in many ways but also really loved living in Boston. While here I was able to really focus on school and work as I had a lot of fun in high school and therefore didn’t feel the need, as many college students feel, to experience freedom for the first time. I worked as a personal nanny for MIT professors, student taught, focused on my schooling and also met my husband Dominick. I graduated Summa Cum Laude and was recruited to teach in Florida in St. Lucie County right out of college. This was a difficult choice since I was leaving by myself. I was one year older than most of the friends I had made as well as Dominick. Never one to shy away from a challenge and independence I went off to teach 3rd grade in Florida on my own. My mom and I flew down, she helped me rent and apartment, my dad met me in Boston to buy a car, and off I drove to my independent adventure in FL. I was 22. This was a 3 year journey and one I’ll never forget for many reasons. Someone had given me a graduation card with this quote on the front ““You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Rooselvelt. I hand wrote it and framed it on the wall of my one bedroom apartment. I had many tears while I was alone and this quote helped me get by.
I grew up a lot over these 3 years personally and had fun “adulting” buying our first house, getting a puppy, enjoying living in south Florida, teaching students that gave me a perspective on life (some of whom I’m still in touch with today), and just enjoying our time there. In my 2nd to 3rd year of teaching I started to struggle with my career teaching. I felt like teachers were really taken advantage of and their passion and commitment to this career was preyed upon and this really bothered me. I was making 28k, teaching 28 3rd graders with no assistant in a county where many were below the poverty line. This was incredibly difficult for me emotionally as well. There were things I heard an saw in 3 years that I just hadn’t been exposed to and I couldn’t “help”.
While enjoying our lives in Florida we begged ANY family to move there and that effort was unsuccessful. After we got engaged 12/21/05 we decided that it would likely be best to return to the Northeast where both of our families resided. We had purchased our first home just months prior but luckily we were at the tail end of the south FL real estate boom and knew we would be able to sell with a profit. By May of 2006 our house was under contract (notably, the month before s**t really hit the fan in the FL real estate market). We still made a small profit but sold about 40k below our original asking price (289,900) because the tide had already started shifting. In hindsight we were incredibly lucky. That home sold for 90k in foreclosure after the people that bought it from us lost it.
When we decided to return to NY I was definitely not thinking real estate and I honestly can’t remember where the initial idea came from. I had EVERY intention of teaching and I was optimistic about the more appropriate pay and benefits that were offered in NYS. I spend a lot of time mailing personalized binders to principles and doing online applications but alas I never even got one interview. At this time I had just completed my Masters degree in reading, had 3 years experience, AND served as grade chair for 2 years in FL and still nothing. Elementary teaching positions were that competitive at the time. June 2006 was a busy month in my life. I received my real estate license, closed on our second home at 25 years old and finalized details for our July 8thwedding.
Once it became apparent that the only way to a permanent position was to substitute teach possible for years I decided it was time to shift gears and dive into real estate. My first few years of real estate were a blur but I remember working incredibly hard and wondering why people did this for no pay. I also remember really enjoying the freedom that came with real estate. Even while working hard you did have control over your days. My best friend had just started her own business too (Violets on Broadway which is also still in existence) after a rigorous stint at AYCO and I can remember many afternoons where we asked if this freedom was really our life now. Starting off in real estate is not easy. It was filled with up and downs, long days with no way to know if you’d ever be paid, and also challenges I had never faced before such as people questioning my integrity. These things were all hard for me but I was determined to succeed because I just knew I was doing a good job for people and that kept me going in the early months when we were literally out of money and I should not have kept going. The following years are chronicled in an article that was just released by Albany Real Producers which you can find here. I can’t help but feel that I have come to where I was meant to be in my career life. The passion I have for teaching still calls me and I enjoy doing that when I time allows for now. I enjoy giving talks to experienced realtors and teaching new agents. Here is a recent talk I gave on the myths of a balanced live. I think the next phase of where my life leads will involve teaching/coaching through real estate in some capacity. Ultimately this feels full circle to me. Next year I will turn 40 and I feel at peace with where my life and career is and I am ready for what the future holds for me.
“Happiness is not a goal. It’s a by-product of a life well lived.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt