A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words… Friday, May 7 2010 

 

Wishing Everyone A  Happy Mother’s Day!

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There’s A Heart Behind the “Big Brown Truck” Monday, Jan 4 2010 

Forgive me for the plug I am about to give UPS.  After you read this, you will understand why this has been on my heart to shout above the rooftops what a great company this is. 

It was 9:00 am on Christmas Eve.  I received a call from UPS.  They were inquiring about a forwarding address for the owners of a home I had sold back in September.  The nice lady on the other end of the line was calling from the local Gonzales, LA office of UPS.  She asked me if I had a forwarding address for the former owners of the property.  She said that she Googled their name and found that I had been the listing agent of the property!  The package looked like a Christmas gift and they were trying desperately to get it delivered before the close of business.

 computer search

Unfortunately, the owners were not close.  They had moved out of town.  I gave her the information I had and she said that she would take care of the rest. 

I was so impressed.  Someone took the time to track these people down.  Instead of just sending the package back to the sender, someone used technology to make sure this package was delivered. I hung up the phone and vowed to use UPS whenever possible from this point forward. 

(This is especially impressive to me now that my nine year old daughter has still not received the Christmas card from her grandparents in Maryland.  It was sent USPS a week before Christmas.)

Props to the UPS employee that took the time to do some research on this lonely package.  She gave me the best Christmas present of all!

2009 A year of speed bumps and road blocks Thursday, Dec 31 2009 

2009…it’s almost over.  As I sat down to write this, the first words to hit the keyboard were this. “Thank God this year is over. I am so ready for a New Year!” As I sifted through the past months in my mind, I pulled up the thoughts of seeing friends, family and strangers struggle with hardships, grief, pain and so much more.  Again the thought of “Thank God this year is over. I am so ready for a New Year!” crossed my mind.

As I thought about each of these challenges a little more, I found myself doing some deep searching.  All of these things that my family faced were actually blessings in disguise.  Everything happens for a reason, we all have been told this, we all know this.  I am here to tell you that this is very true.  I think that each of the things we faced this past year were sent as wake up calls.   We get so busy in our everyday lives that we tend to operate well within our comfort zone.  This year, we were forced to function outside of our comfort zone and the results were amazing! After facing each speed bump or road block, we were stronger, wiser and genuinely better.  This is true with both our personal and professional lives.

As I think about my friends and others, their stories are much similar.  They finished the year with stronger families, stronger marriages, better jobs, better health and a renewed faith in God.  As I wrote in Growing Pains, we are experiencing a “growth spurt”.  I now view 2009 as a year of growth. Growth is always a great thing.  I only hope that 2010 will bring the life lessons  that helped us to grow and the new friendships that are truly treasured.  I know that I have changed and I like the change!

I will enter 2010 with the intention of operating outside of my comfort zone, will you?

May 2010 bring you much love, happiness and prosperity.  Happy New Year!

What are you Thankful for? Wednesday, Nov 25 2009 

Wow!  What a year this has been!

As I have thought about the things that I have to be Thankful for this year, I think about those that have really suffered.  The economy has really hit some folks hard.  I don’t know that I can say that I know of anyone that hasn’t had to make a change in one way or another because of the state of our economy.  Being in this profession I have seen a lot of heart-ache.  I have had to help sellers to sell their homes because they were no longer able to afford their notes.  I have seen families loose their homes for the same reason.  Families have had to sell extra cars and carpool.  Loved ones have been lost.

Watching the world take its lick at people, I have wondered why. Why are these good people suffering?  I don’t know why but I have seen some wonderful things happening even through the blanket of rain.   Families have become stronger; grown together in ways they never thought they could. Family game nights are not as seldom as they once were.  Attendance is up in the churches; nothing like seeing the smiling faces of children as they leave Sunday School.  Friendships have grown stronger as well.

Even families that seem to have lost everything have found something to be Thankful for.

It has been a tough year, yes.  But if we all dig deep, we can come up with a list much longer than we everknew possible.  Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?  I am asking you to take some time tomorrow… reflect back on the year.  No matter how bad it was…find something good.  Find lots of things good.  Be Thankful! 

I am thankful for all of you… for being such a source of strength for me.  For being my friends, my mentors, my shoulders to cry on, my inspirations.

From my family to yours…Happy Thanksgiving!

ps.  If you would like to share with me what you have to be Thankful for, please do so!  I would love to be Thankful with you for the blessings you have in your life!

The Car Shopping Terror Continues… Thursday, Oct 29 2009 

For those of you following my new car shopping experiences…the terror continues.  For those of you not familiar with my past horrors, you can catch up here…https://kristinacusick.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/did-you-just-label-me/

Well, I have decided on a Honda Pilot.  After speaking to the local Honda dealership’s salesman and asking him to get me his best price…one shot deal…we found ourselves at the dealership looking at the vehicle they “ordered for me”.  Good sales tactic on their part if you are an emotional buyer.  Bad thing if you are like me and feel as if they are pushing you.  Strike One  Our salesman wanted us to speak to his sales manager.  Upon walking into the showroom we were met by a man that we had seen just a few minutes earlier.  He saw my husband’s shirt which had our boat logo and asked us if we had boat.  He then asked how big our boat was.  After telling him he proceeded to wave his hands in the air and dance around chanting “Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!  I have a 30!”  I was dumbfounded! So many things raced through my mind…”Is he taunting us that he has a bigger boat?  Seriously?”  I could not speak. I looked at my husband and his reaction was about the same.  I finally heard the word “WOW” come out of my mouth.  Strike Two  Ok…now I am really regretting my decision to be here.  The more this man spoke, the more irritated I became.  In the course of the next couple of minutes, my husband senses my aggravation and tells the sales manager that we have not made a commitment and if someone comes to look at the vehicle that he “ordered for us without our approval”, to please go ahead and show it, sell it.  We understand that it is a chance we will take.  His response was this “Oh, Don’t worry, I will.  In fact, don’t be surprised if you come back this afternoon and it is gone”.  Ok, dude, have you not yet figured out that you will not win me over with the hard sell?  Strike three We said our goodbyes and made our way out the door.  I was still in shock over the way we were spoken to.  As I spoke to people around the community, I have learned that this is not the first time this sales manager has acted this way. So sad.

We have now done what we should have done in the first place.  We called our friend who is a Honda guy 80+ miles away.  Asked him to order what we have decided on.  I am a firm believer in keeping the business close to home.  Well, I tried, but the businesses close to home didn’t seem to care about me…they just wanted my money. 

This whole experience has opened my eyes.  As a salesperson, I hope that I have never treated any of my clients this way.  I pride myself on not being pushy or using hard sales tactics and I would never label someone or taunt them in any way. I want you to buy a home because you love it.  Not because it will help my numbers for the year.  I want you to love that home and be able to tell your friends and family that your experience was not only fun but enjoyable.  This is the biggest purchase of your life…let’s make it a great memory.

If you are a car guy reading this… Change your tactics.  Learn to read your customers. This is the 21st Century, we are educated and don’t want to play your games.

Did you just label me? Wednesday, Oct 21 2009 

Control freak

It has been 10 years since I bought a new car.  After the last couple of weeks, I have been reminded of why it has taken me 10 years to even have the desire to look at a new car.  During my search I was called a “soccer mom” and a “control freak”.  These labels were not put on me by my husband…they were given out by two different car salesmen!  While test driving a Chevy, the car salesman told me that this was the vehicle for all “soccer moms”.  I proceeded to tell him to “shut his mouth”.  Maybe he doesn’t know what a “soccer mom” is and if not, he should gather his facts before labeling every woman with children that walk through the front door.  Just because I have children and take them to their after school activities does not make me a soccer mom.  I am a Real Estate Agent.  I work long hours and make my own money.  I run my household, keeping up with everyone’s schedules and making sure that my family has food on the table and clean clothes to wear.  I feel a rant coming on so I will stop.  To end this episode, I was offended. I don’t like labels and immediately turned the car around and told the salesman thank you for his time.  He is out…next.

 

Next…This is not much better.  I went to GMC to look at the sister vehicle of the Chevy.  I liked it.  We started to gather more information about this car.  From the very first meeting, I told this salesman that I liked the vehicle but was concerned because I didn’t think it would tow our boat and that we (my husband & myself) had not decided if that would be a deciding factor in our decision.  As I continued to do my research, I was feeling less likely that I would be happy for the long haul with this vehicle.  Let me interject here that upon meeting each and every salesperson they were told that we were shopping each and every brand since it had been 10 years since we had looked at a new vehicle.  With that being said, we did ask the GMC salesman to give us a price.  Not a negotiation, a final price.  I negotiate each and every day.  You know your bottom line, I know the range of your bottom line and I know my bottom line.  Let’s don’t waste time!  I wanted to compare pricing on this GMC and a Honda (which I knew would pull my boat).  Full disclosure on the table, the salesman gave me a price.  When I told him that I was just really concerned about the towing issue because I want to know that I can hook up to my boat and go if I want to I was responded to with this. “You are a control freak aren’t you?”  My response, “Yes and don’t you forget it.  It is what makes me exceptional at what I do.”  Guess what… he’s out…Next!

 

I am a woman…no doubt.  Am I a clueless?  Absolutely not!  I have done my research for a few months before getting the nerve to actually step foot on a lot.  (for above obvious reasons) Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a research addict.  I am also a “motorhead”.  A quality that my husband loves 🙂  I think the funniest thing that happened is while test driving I made the statement that this vehicle didn’t have the torque that my Durango has.  The salesman looked at me with a puzzled facial expression and said, “What?”

 

Purpose of this post?  Don’t make the assumption that because I have boobs that I am stupid and don’t know about cars.  Don’t make the assumption that because I drive my children to their after school activities I am a soccer mom. Don’t make the assumption that because I have done my research and know more than you think I do that I am a control freak.  Two dealerships lost my respect and possible business because of their sexist salesmen.   

Customer Service DOES Make A Difference Friday, Oct 2 2009 

I am not one to usually write reviews or even fill out comment cards for that matter.  But for a week now I have had a strong urge to share my recent hotel experience with anyone that will listen to me!

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This past weekend, I took my husband for a surprise birthday weekend in New Orleans.  We stayed at Le Pavillon on Poydras Street.  I can’t begin to say enough wonderful things about this hotel.  Upon our arrival we were greeted with a room upgrade and a tray of fresh fruit, cheese, crackers and wine.  There was also a card.  Now the upgrade and cheese tray were nice…but the card was what made the most difference.  While speaking to Katrina, while making my reservations, I told her that this weekend was a surprise for my husband’s birthday.  The card was to Thank us for our stay and to wish my husband Happy Birthday!  She actually listened to what I had to say to her and then took it one step farther!  Impressive

Cheee tray

As we ventured out one night for dinner, I confirmed the location of a restaurant we were walking to with the doorman, Louis.  He confirmed my directions but then asked me if we had reservations.  We did not.  He left his post, went to the phone and called the restaurant to make them for us.  They were only taking walk-ins at this point in the night.  It was about a mile and a half away and it was getting late.  He offered to get us a cab but we really just wanted to walk…see the sights.  He then suggested another restaurant that was much closer and offered to get us reservations.  He could have easily confirmed my question and let us be on our way.  The fact that he chose to make the steps he did was incredible to us. 

The whole weekend was filled with moments and service like this.  We are already making plans to bring our girls back in November to see the city decorated for Christmas.

As a special treat, every night they serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with ice cold milk or hot cocoa from 10:00-11:00 pm.  There is a story behind this tradition that is quite heartwarming.  I can’t wait for my youngest to get to make herself a PB&J before bed when we go back!

Customer Service is what made the difference this weekend.  The hotel was beautiful and everything else was wonderful..but nothing that would have made me feel like I do still today.

You can find Le Pavillion on the web at www.LePavillon.com  They also have a Facebook Page or you can follow them on Twitter @lepavillon

A Spoon Full Of Sugar Helps The Vinegar Go Down Tuesday, Sep 8 2009 

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Mary Poppins, please forgive me!

Last week was a test of strength for me.  On Monday morning my oldest daughter, Girly17,  was diagnosed with the FLU!  The Dr. walks in and says “Congratulations!  You have what I belive to be the Swine Flu!”  “Oh Goodie”  is all I could think.  Tuesday afternoon I get a call from my youngest daughter’s, Girly9, school to come pick her up.  She wasn’t running fever but they had found out that her sister was sick and asked me to keep her home as well.  By Thursday, Girly17 was back at school but guess who was running fever now.  Lovely.  After a day of 104 fevers with no end in sight, and a nasty looking throat, we went to the Dr. with her on Friday.  Being cautions, he checked her for every ailment under the sun.  It’s viral…let it run its course. I am getting to the point of this post…I promise!  On the way home I was thinking about the Dr. telling us to have her gargle with salt water. 

THAT’S IT!  HOW COULD I HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT THIS?

When I first got married, my father in law told us about an old home remedy for coughs and sore throats.  We came home and went straight to the pantry.  A spoon full of sugar with just enough vinegar to wet it.  Girly9 had done this before so she didn’t object.  Put the sugar in your mouth and let it slide slowly down your throat.  Vinegar is a natural disinfectant.  The sugar makes the vinegar thick enough to coat your throat on the way down.  By Friday evening her throat looked 50% better.  We did the treatment again that night and Saturday morning the fever was gone and her throat looked and felt great!  Now I am not saying that this was the cure-all but it sure did help.  I am hoping that next time I remember this before running to the Dr.’s office! 

I have also tried drinking pickle juice.  It works well but Girly9 detests pickles!

With sore throat/flu season upon us, try this and let me know how it works for you 🙂

Growing Pains Thursday, Jun 4 2009 

Disclaimer:  This is a long post. I had a lot to say and just couldn’t edit 🙂

On April 29, 2009 my husband made what has been the worst call of his life to me.  If you aren’t familiar with this, see “Can You Say Punched In The Gut”.

I am happy to report today that he reports for his new job on

Tuesday, June 9, 2009!

I may actually be able to breathe and hopefully sleep all night tonight!

Through this, my family has endured.  We have come out the other side in tact and stronger than before.

What we have learned is that we had become complacent with our life.  We took things for granted that we really needed to be grateful for.  Our faith has been tested.  Thankfully, we were alert enough to see the changes God was trying to make in our lives. I feel blessed today to know that we were chosen to go through this.  I only hope that we are able to help someone the way so many have helped us.

I can stand here today and tell you that there were days I would be so excited about the future.  I would tell people “There is something so wonderful that God has waiting for us on the other side of this hill.  I can’t wait to see what it is!” And I would believe it with all of my heart and soul.  There were days that would put on a smile and say it, but doubt every word that came out of my mouth.  I would feel so guilty for that.  Then there were days that I felt that I couldn’t get out of bed.  I didn’t want to face the world.  Those were the days that I felt especially guilty and would pray for God to take back the control of my life and forgive me for trying to run it myself.

I am telling you this because I am hopeful that telling my story, good and bad, will help someone. Either someone that is living this nightmare or someone who knows of someone that is.

Friends of my husband that had been though this were very supportive and told him that he would come out of this better off.  That is easy to hear but hard to comprehend when you are in the middle of uncertainty.  They would also offer assistance in little ways that meant the world to us.  Passing the resume to contacts they had, reviewing his resume (he hadn’t written a resume in over 15 years!).  They would call to check on us and always offer kind words, and more importantly, lend an ear. 

The one thing that they didn’t do was call every day and ask if he had found a job.  I found that to be the most offensive thing to deal with.  We knew we were without a job. We knew we were sending hundreds of emails with our resume attached. We knew we were not getting responses.  We did not need to be reminded that we did not have a job. One day, someone very close to me,  whom I was in contact with almost daily sat down at the desk next to me and said this. “I hate to ask this, but how is the job search going?”  It was the first time she had asked me that question since I told her my news.  I was more than happy to share with her how our progress, or lack thereof , was.  It was all in the way it was presented to me.  I knew that she was genuinely concerned for us. 

I want to talk a minute about Social Media and “virtual friends”. I am here to tell you that those on-line friends are VERY real!  I received so many messages with my friend’s cell phone numbers (most of which I had already!) offering to help, to talk, to listen.  They would all celebrate with me for my victories and let me be down when I really wasn’t feeling up to par.  I made some very good friends through this rough period on FaceBook and Twitter.  To all of you and especially the #twitterqueens.  THANK YOU!  I LOVE YOU ALL DEARLY!

Let me  also say that I probably haven’t been a good friend the past few weeks.  I would like to apologize to anyone that I snapped at or “hid” from.  Some days I just couldn’t bear to face the world.  It was all I could muster some days to work professionally with my clients.  There was nothing left. 

I think the hardest thing in this has been to “Be Still”  I am a take charge kinda girl.  Having to sit back and “Be Still” was very hard for me.  I overheard my husband say to someone one day.  “I can’t get her to understand that Corporate America doesn’t work on Real Estate time.  If the offer isn’t signed at 6:00 the offer isn’t dead.”  On Wednesday, I posted on Facebook “Be Still and know that He is God. – I am still learning the Be Still part of this!”  10 minutes later FedEx knocked on my door and left the Corporate “package” we had been waiting for!  It was the formal written offer for Brian’s new job!

Brian and I always knew that our children were exceptional.  This “growth spurt” has only proven that to us.  My youngest daughter had a birthday on May 1 and turned 9.  One night she opened a birthday card and there was money.  She closed the card and handed the money to us, “to help”.  WOW!  After her birthday party, she told me that we could have her birthday money if we needed it.  As parents, this broke our hearts.  Looking back now, I am filled with pride that my sweet little 9 year old has enough love in her heart to want to take care of someone else before herself.  Our oldest daughter is 16.  She has a job and makes enough to keep her “going out” habits funded.  She has only been out with her friends to the movies once.  The told me that she wanted to save her money in case we needed it.  Again…WOW!  One thing we know for sure.  We have raised some pretty amazing girls.  I have always responded to people when they tell me how beautiful our girls are that they also have beautiful hearts.  Our efforts in teaching them to pay it forward have paid off!

I referred to this as our “growth spurt”.  That is what I am officially calling this period in our life!  I used that term with my youngest.  She has terrible leg cramps when she goes through a growth spurt.  I likened our situation to this as something she could identify with.  We have endured the pain of growing.  We have grown and we are all stronger for it.  I am glad that we were chosen to grow.  Do I want to go through this particular growth spurt again?  HELL NO!  I do however, hope that we will be a  comforting source for someone who is going through this or knows someone that is.

To shamelessly quote from Shinedown’s song Second Chance.  “My eyes are wide open. By the way, I made it through the day. Sometimes goodbye is a Second Chance. ” 

What Goes Around Comes Around Sunday, May 24 2009 

This morning we visited a different church.

As the service started, the Pastor asked the congregation to speak to someone they did not know.  Well, being visitors we were surrounded by well wishers.  There was an elderly gentleman, full of life, that came to speak to us.  Immediately he looked so familiar to me. The name on his badge was very familiar also.  He asked me if he had seen me out at the local dance hall last night.  We laughed and I told him no but somehow I did know him.  After a few moments of trying to figure it out, we got it.  He was an administrator at my high school.  I immediately said, “You used to let me take your car to fill it up with gas!”  He then remembered me as well. 

A little while later, this gentleman got up to sing.  Before he sang he shared with the congregation the story of how he would get me out of class to go fill up his “pride and joy.”  Recounting the times we shared some 20+ years earlier.  Then he said, “Thank you.”  He began to sing his song and tears began to stream down my face.  His singing voice had not changed!  I was taken back to his office where I spent so many days.  (I would always find a way out of class to visit with him!)  My life was topsy turvy the last two years of high school.  Besides the craziness of being a teenager, I had problems at home that really ate at me.  He would always take the time to talk to me, try to guide me, but most of all…trust in me.  It was such an honor for me to get to take his car to the gas station.  We didn’t have nice cars and for someone to trust me to take their “pride and joy” made me feel like I was someone special.  I remebered him singing up and down the halls all the time.  It was such a peaceful sound.

As I sat this morning in church with my husband handing me his handkerchief and smiling from ear to ear, I wanted to stand up and say, “Thank YOU!”  I had always been grateful for the care this gentleman showed me.  Today, I felt like I had impacted his life as well.  All day I have been overjoyed. 

I am at a time in my life again that I need some direction.  I have asked God repeatedly lately to show me my purpose, I feel like sometimes I have lost sight.  This gentleman walking into my life some 20+ years later is definitely a sign.  God is working on me, just like I have asked.  Today, I am focused and grateful.

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