Sunday, September 30, 2012

How to spot hidden problems in older homes.

How to spot hidden problems in older homes.

"Yikes!” “Uh-oh …”

The homeowner and I were watching our contractor remove deck boards that concealed an area of a foundation wall that we thought might have settled.

The homeowner had noticed a problem when the front door began to stick, and an unmistakable settling of the floor under the door had soon followed.

The contractor and I assumed that water had caused the foundation to settle, leading to a drop of the floor system – a relatively common problem in older homes that is sometimes easily stabilized and repaired.

Photo: ZillowAt this house, however, the problem looked much worse. A large section of the band board – a strip of lumber that surrounds the floor system – was completely rotted.

We’d expected some damage to the band since we were sure that water (the cause of the rotting) was the culprit in the foundation settling.

But here the foundation looked intact. It was the band itself that had collapsed, causing the floor system to drop several inches. Worse yet, the damage extended well into the floor joists.

Ugh. Which one of us was going to give the homeowner the bad news – her minor settling problem in the house she’d recently purchased was rapidly becoming a very expensive major repair?

Not aging gracefully

Problems in older homes are often well hidden. More often than not, serious damage doesn’t show any symptoms until the damage is significant and expensive.

There are clues, but even trained eyes sometimes have difficulty telling normal wear and tear from the signs of serious underlying problems.

Most old-home problems, however, have predictable causes and if you know where to look you can find hints that might lead you to discover concealed damage.

Find the problems early enough and you might be able to fix them relatively easily, or keep yourself from buying into unexpected expensive repairs.

H-2-Oh no!

Photo: ZillowWater is the number one cause of damage in all homes, especially older ones. Look for missing or damaged roof shingles, rotted or loose trim boards, and disconnected or plugged-up gutters and downspouts.

Problems with gutters and downspouts are the biggest cause of water damage – they must be cleaned and checked regularly.

If you’re looking to buy an older home, check the condition of the gutters and downspouts – they’re big clue to finding hidden water problems elsewhere in the house.

As the ground around a home settles naturally, it can slope in toward the house and begin directing water at the foundation wall. Modern waterproofing systems can delay the subsequent damage for a while, but older homes don’t have sophisticated waterproofing systems – if they have any at all. Many very old homes have porous stone foundations that have no ability to repel ground water.

Check the grade at the perimeter of the house – settling near the foundation may indicate water in the basement.

Plug it in

Photo: ZillowWhen your grandparents’ family gathered around the Philco radio in the 1930’s listening to the Jack Benny Show they weren’t putting much of a load on the house’s electrical system – the radio and a lamp or two may have been the only electrical appliances in the house.

But now there’s a TV in every bedroom; two or three computers; dozens of light fixtures; and a whole kitchen full of modern electrical conveniences.

The appliances have grown – has the electrical system kept pace?

Each fixture or appliance “draws” power from outside in the form of amps; the more fixtures, the more amperage required. If the fixtures need more amps than the electrical system is rated for, the system can overheat, spark, or fail entirely – all potential fire hazards.

Any home over 40 years old is a likely candidate for having an outdated electrical system. Check the electrical panel for the amperage rating – modern homes require at least 100 amps and many require much more. Older homes may have “fuse boxes” rated for 60 amps or less.

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Check any visible wiring to see if it’s made of aluminum, which is also considered a fire hazard and was discontinued decades ago.

Look around the house – are there lots of extension cords and plug adapters? Are there “burn marks” around some switches and outlets? Are there rooms without any outlets at all? Replacing an electrical system to remove safety risks or to bring the system up to current codes can be a very expensive project.

Home sweet (old) home
If you own an old house, keep up with the maintenance to prevent costly repairs. If you’re thinking about buying one, check carefully for the signs of hidden damage and unsafe conditions first – a little detective work might keep you from saying “Yikes!” one day.

Richard Taylor is a residential architect based in Dublin, Ohio and is a contributor to Zillow Blog. Connect with him at
Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Many assume that only pleasing relationships have value, but that is not the case.

"Every person with whom you interact is a part of the person you are becoming. Not a single interaction with a single person is left out of the process of your becoming. Many assume that only pleasing relationships have value, but that is not the case. Your awareness of an unwanted situation evokes from you a clear Vibrational request for something different. And so, even those uncomfortable interactions with others form the Vibrational basis of your expansion."
- Esther Hicks

Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Realtor!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Take care of your people and they’ll take care of your bottom line.

You know when you see a kid in the playground acting like a complete jackass to all the other children and you’re all ‘where is your mother?!?’ That’s how I felt with this guy working in the hardware store.
I can’t even remember what I was shopping for, the experience with the clerk was so distracting from my task at hand. He was on the phone and didn’t look up when I came in. His conversation was clearly personal and not at all urgent and he rattled along, casually cussing, before finally saying that he should probably go as though having a customer walk in was the greatest of inconveniences. I am fine with casual and rarely offended by cussing. But having owned a small business for almost a decade, my shock was in imagining one of my staff ever behaving that way.
We had a good time, he was actually pretty helpful despite his ‘I don’t give a flying f-attitude’. When he couldn’t find a price, he just made it up saying “They don’t pay me enough to care.”
What?! Where is your mother? Where is your boss?
There are several layers that are dumbfounding to me here.
First…The amount of money we make has nothing to do with how much we care about our work. It just doesn’t. If you don’t care about your work, making more money won’t make you care. It might make it more tolerable, it might make it ‘worth it’ when you weigh it out at the end of the day, you may ACT more appropriately in order to not lose the paycheck…but money CAUSING you to care about your work….doesn’t work that way.
This also goes for “Once I get paid what I’m worth, then I’ll step up and work harder”. That’s not how things work. You provide value first and remuneration rolls in. Can you imagine if I, as a coach, held back what I have to offer, hold in my energy, knowledge, insight and love and demand you pay me a really high rate and THEN I’ll show up and deliver? Nonsense.
Anything I’ve ever built- be it a company, solid client base, great staff and respectable reputation- have all come out of generously and enthusiastically offering up whatever I’ve got. My time, know-how, talent and most importantly my heart.
Being stingy will leave you with what you’re offering up…not much.
And when I say ‘Where is your boss?’ I don’t mean to reprimand…I mean to provide a little bit of leadership, culture and community in the workplace.
In my past life as the owner of a hair salon we really made things up as we went along. Having only had a few part time, short term jobs before opening the place, I hadn’t formed a whole bunch of ideas about how things should be run.
What I did notice about being an employee was that my enjoyment of my work was of little concern to most of my employers. Which is a poor business move. ..
Fact: When people enjoy what they do, they are more productive.
The subtle resistance that occurs in every move and task for someone who resents what they’re doing or even being there at all is PROFOUND.
If you have a team and you’re focused on your targets and your numbers and you’re not focused, like really focused, on your team’s job satisfaction, you’re bleeding energy that could totally boost things up.
We used to have a weekly meeting at the salon, our Haven Huddle. Here, each staff would say what their targets or goals were for the week, in terms of numbers and where they were at in accordance. Nothing revolution here- measuring the measurable results is all. But what about their job satisfaction?
Why don’t most companies measure this? Probably because it’s not empirically measurable. Job satisfaction is subjective. Can’t turn that into a system.
It would benefit us all to bring a lot more humanity to how we’re running our companies.
Here’s what we did…
It was built into our policy manual that our staff had to love their work. We hired people who truly wanted to be there, who were stoked about the unique culture of inclusion and collective support and creative expression that we’d created. In those weekly huddles, each member rated their level of job satisfaction on a scale of 1-10. If they were above an 8, they talked about what was working that had them so satisfied (on behalf of supporting the team in generating responsibility for their own satisfaction.) If they were below an 8, they shared about what was going on that created the gap and what they planned to do about it. Then, someone else on the team would offer to support them in some way.
Here’s the thing though, this doesn’t work unless management actually gives a shit. If people don’t like their job because they think their manager is a bozo, are they supposed to say that in the meeting?
As a manager in this context, you need to actually really care. You need to be open to the perspectives and opinions of the staff and actually willing to be influenced by them. That’s how a real sense of team is created rather than a dictatorship. If we had a policy that everyone must love their work and that if they don’t, there’s a threat on the other end, rather than a big hearted commitment, it would just be another false ra-ra strategy to produce a result for the company.
At the crux of all of this is offering care.
At the crux of all of this is offering love.
People need to matter. Take care of your people and they’ll take care of your bottom line.
And it’s a co-created phenomenon that makes all the difference in the work place. We’re living in a world right now where so much emphasis is put on external results and we go about measuring those and completely forget about the heart. But the heart will move us faster and further than anything else. It was clear that this kid at the hardware store didn’t care about the company, and the company didn’t care about him.
I want to live in a world where we build our work and our interactions on deep care for one another, this would lead to way deeper fulfillment when the results do come in, fewer traumas when they don’t and could weed out a whole bunch of poor decisions that harm many along the way.
Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Police to search for remains of Jimmy Hoffa.

Police to search for remains of Jimmy Hoffa under driveway in Roseville

5:43 PM, September 26, 2012 |
Photo of Jimmy Hoffa taklen days before his mysterious dissapearance By photographer Tony Spina July 24,1975
Photo of Jimmy Hoffa taklen days before his mysterious dissapearance By photographer Tony Spina
  • Jimmy Hoffa in 1975 / Detroit Free Press file photo
    The home at 18710 Florida in Roseville, Mich. where police will search for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, photographed on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. / KIMBERLY P. MITCHELL/Detroit Free Press
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    Police will be taking soil core samples at a home in Roseville on Friday in search of the remains of missing Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, whose 1975 disappearance sparked one of the 20th century’s biggest mysteries.“We received information from an individual who saw something,” Roseville Police Chief James Berlin told the Free Press. “The information seemed credible, so we decided to follow up on it.”Berlin wouldn’t say who provided the tip — one of hundreds authorities have pursued in the years since Hoffa vanished from a restaurant parking lot in Oakland County.But he said the state’s Department of Environmental Quality used ground scanning radar last Friday to check out a spot under the driveway and found “an anomaly” that prompted authorities to make plans to return to the site Friday to take a soil sample.Berlin said it would be sent to a forensic anthropologist at Michigan State University to check for human remains.“We do not know if this is Jimmy,” Berlin said.The tipster told police Hoffa’s body may have been buried under the driveway of the home in the 18700 block of Florida, a residential neighborhood northwest of 12 Mile and Gratiot.Berlin said the informant “thought it was Jimmy because the same time this happened was the same time Jimmy disappeared,” Berlin said.Berlin said he planned to contact the FBI, which has spearheaded the three-decades-old murder investigation.“We believe he saw something,” Berlin said of the informant. “Whatever he saw was suspicious.”Hoffa, 62, disappeared on the afternoon of July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of what then was the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township.He had gone there for a reconciliation meeting with Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano, a mob-connected New Jersey Teamster official, and Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone, a Detroit mafia captain.• Background: Who was Jimmy Hoffa?Timeline of the Hoffa caseReaders respond with humor, skepticismThe FBI theorized that Provenzano and Giacalone had Hoffa killed to prevent him from regaining the Teamsters presidency and ending the mob’s influence over the union and easy access to Teamster pension funds.Hoffa had run the union from 1957-71.At the time of his disappearance, Hoffa had served nearly five years of an 8- to 13-year prison sentence for fraud, conspiracy and jury tampering. Then-President Richard Nixon had commuted Hoffa’s sentence in late 1971 on condition that he stay out of union activities until 1980. Hoffa was in the process of challenging the condition.The FBI theorized that Hoffa climbed into a car driven by Hoffa’s long-time protégé, Charles (Chuckie) O’Brien, and was driven a short distance where he was killed. Authorities believed Hoffa’s body was shredded or incinerated.Despite thousands of tips, authorities never found Hoffa’s body, and no one has been charged in his disappearance.A woman who answered the phone at the Roseville home says she is “fully aware of what’s going on,” but she said she didn’t want to be interviewed at this point. She referred questions to the Roseville Police department. Police said the homeowner, who has owned the house for 10 to 15 years, has been helpful and cooperative.

    Daughter not hopeful

    Hoffa’s daughter, Barbara Crancer, a retired St. Louis administrative judge, said she doesn’t hold out much hope the search will produce her father’s body or solve the mystery of his disappearance.“I don’t put much credence into it,” she said this afternoon. “I don’t think the case will ever be solved. Too many people are dead and gone. I believe there are people out there who know what happened, but they’re not talking.”“After so many false turns, I’ll be surprised if anything comes of it. But as his daughter, I would like to have a body to bury.”Dan Moldea, a Washington, D.C., author who wrote a 1978 book — “The Hoffa Wars” — about Hoffa’s disappearance, said he’s crossing his fingers.“After all these years, I have come to believe that the final solution to this case will come very suddenly out of left field from someone who has had no connection to the actual murder. For that reason, I always treat these tipsters with respect. One of these days, one of them might be right."The Teamsters union in Washington, D.C., said it would have no comment.The Detroit FBI field office had no comment.

    Word spreads

    Reporters and TV live trucks have been congregating at the house, lining Kelly near Florida, as word got out of the Hoffa search. Two police cars also are guarding the area.Some neighbors are outside talking about the news, describing their reactions as surprise. “When I heard that, I couldn’t believe it,” said Sue Fero-Hutton, 66. “After all these years.”She said she doesn’t think there’s any truth to it and has lived in her home near the area in question since 1994.Fero-Hutton said her father knew Hoffa personally because her father was a union representative.“When I heard the rumor about Jimmy Hoffa, I said I wish my dad was alive so I could talk to him about it,” she said.Other neighbors said they’ll wait and see what is found. “Every couple of years, they seem to look for him. I’m sure his family probably wants the mystery solved,” said Cindy Kacir, 52, who lives across the street from the home.Contact David Ashenfelter: 313-223-4494 or

    Understanding of how the Law of Attraction works.

    A basic principle of the Law of Attraction is that we will bring into our lives what we focus on, visualize, think about and affirm with our words. The Law of Attraction is both powerful and empowering because it helps us to remember we are co-creating our lives rather than just allowing life to happen to us.

    BUT, if you make vision boards, surround yourself with affirmation post-its, maintain a journal full of lists or ideal scenes of what you’d like and speak your desires and you STILL are not attracting what you want, there is a flaw with the Law of Attraction.

    It’s actually our understanding of how the Law of Attraction works that is flawed, rather than the law itself. It is true that we attract at the level of our own vibration and that are our thoughts and words are extremely magnetic. But the most powerful “attractor” is our belief system. You can create beautiful vision boards and affirm every day that you are available for an incredibly successful, passionate career or a loving relationship.

    BUT if you don’t truly believe you are lovable, enough, worthy and deserving … well then attracting that into your life may be more challenging.
    I say truly believe because only about 3-5% of our awareness is actually conscious. So what’s the other 95-97%? Those are our subconscious belief systems that create patterns of thinking and behavior. We establish those belief systems at a very young age based on events in our lives, which then get lodged into our subconscious mind and become our programming. It’s that programming that influences our attraction factor.
    So here’s the deal: On a conscious, logical level you may totally believe in all your dreams. However, you’ve gotta uncover and let go of some of those deep down subconscious beliefs that contradict what you want in life. I have a seven step process to support you in doing this.

    Here are the seven steps to unlocking and releasing a hidden limiting belief:
    1. Discover it. It is possible to bring those beliefs and feeling states that linger in the subconscious to the forefront of your awareness. Think about what you want, feel it, then take a journey into your mind with the intention of discovering beliefs that object what you truly desire.
    2. Acknowledge it. Once you discover the limiting belief (or beliefs) simply acknowledge it and name it. Be honest and willing to admit the belief is there, regardless of any resistance or frustration that you’ve already “worked” on it. Judging or condemning only reinforces it.
    3. Ask it what its Highest purpose is. ALL limiting beliefs have a reason for being there that some part of us believes is helpful. Spend some time reflecting on the belief and asking your Inner Wisdom what the belief’s Highest intention is (hint: it’s usually related to protecting us or keeping us safe in some way).
    4. Thank it. After you uncover the Highest purpose of the belief, make sure to thank it for doing its job so well and move into a willingness to let it go.
    5. Bust it. Take an inventory of your life and collect data that proves this belief has not always been true. Think about all the ways in which life has proven this belief wrong and use that as evidence to support you in releasing it.
    6. Upgrade it. Now that you see the belief isn’t true, it’s time to reframe it and upgrade it to a belief that is more in alignment with what you want to attract in your life.
    7. Set an intention and keep your word! In order to create new patterns in your subconscious, it is necessary to consciously reinforce your new beliefs. (learn more about how to rewire your brain here) So when you notice old patterns of thoughts and behaviors, gently bring your awareness to your upgraded belief.
    These seven steps will support you in being flawless in your understanding of the Law of Attraction. Again, I share more examples in the video above.
    Remember, the Law of Attraction is not a formula or magic wand. Divine timing and our unique life curriculum play critical roles in how our destiny unfolds. It’s not our job to co-create everything – that is part of the magical mystery of the human experience. But here is a guarantee you absolutely can buy into: as you let go of those heavy, untrue beliefs, your vibration will naturally lift and you will experience more love, joy, peace, acceptance and lots of other delicious feeling states.
    Here’s to living flawlessly by recognizing that you are absolutely flawless!
    “You can change your beliefs so they empower your dreams and desires. Create a strong belief in yourself and what you want.” Marcia Wiede
    Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Realtor!

    Friday, September 21, 2012


    I know that other people are only doing the best that they can, and I love them for it as they are.

    I do not take what other people say about me personally.

    I give an empowering meaning to all negative energy directed towards me.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Recipe: Chocolate chip quinoa cookies
    • 1 cup cooked quinoa
    • 1 cup uncooked quinoa flakes (or oatmeal flakes)
    • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
    • 2 tablespoons almond butter
    • 4 large VERY RIPE bananas
    • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
    • Pinch sea salt
    These cookies are SOOO GOOD! The are jam-packed with protein, fiber, stress-busting B-vitamins, energizing goodness and deliciousness! They're also gluten-free and will kick your cravings to the curb.
    To prepare the cookies:Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas in bowl with a fork and add vanilla, almond butter and coconut sugar. Add quinoa, oatmeal, coconut and pinch of salt. Mix until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and drop batter on to cooking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
    Serving Size
    Makes about 25 cookies that look more like muffin-tops and are chewy.
    Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

    No Trespassing—Violators Will Be Prosecuted!

    A place to Love and be Loved

    Setting And Enforcing Healthy Boundaries!

    We have all seen the signs that read, “No Trespassing—Violators Will Be Prosecuted,” which sends a clear message that if you violate that boundary and cross the line, there will be a consequence. This type of boundary is easy to understand because you can see the sign and the border it protects. Personal boundaries, on the other hand, can be harder to define because the lines are invisible, can change and are unique to each individual.
    Personal boundaries, just like the “No Trespassing” sign, define where you end and others begin and are determined by the amount of physical and emotional space you allow between yourself and others. Personal boundaries help you decide what types of communication, behavior and interaction are acceptable.

    Types of Personal Boundaries
    1. Physical
    Physical boundaries provide a barrier between you and an intruding force, like a Band-Aid protects a wound from bacteria.
    Physical boundaries include your body, sense of personal space and sexual orientation. These boundaries are expressed through clothing, shelter, noise tolerance, verbal instruction and body language.
    An example of physical boundary violation is a close talker. Your immediate and automatic reaction is to step back in order to reset your personal space. By doing this, you send a non-verbal message that when this person stands so close, you feel an invasion of your personal space. If the person continues to move closer, you might verbally protect your boundary by telling him/her to stop crowding you.
    Other examples of physical boundary invasions are:
    • Inappropriate touching, such as unwanted sexual advances.
    • Looking through others’ email, phone, and journal.
    2. Emotional
    These boundaries protect your sense of self-esteem and ability to separate your feelings from others’. When you have weak emotional boundaries, it’s like getting caught in the midst of a hurricane with no protection. You expose yourself to being greatly affected by others’ words, thoughts and actions, and end up feeling bruised, wounded and battered.
    These include beliefs, behaviors, choices, sense of responsibility and your ability to be intimate with others.
    An example of an emotional boundary violation in a romantic relationship would be your partner pressuring you to reveal what you talk about with your therapist or trusted friend(s). Your partner can ask, but do you respond by saying “that’s between my therapist/friend and me” (healthy boundary) or do you divulge the details although you would rather not (unhealthy boundary)?
    Other examples of emotional boundary invasions are:
    • Not knowing how to separate your feelings from your partner’s and allowing his/her mood to dictate your level of happiness or sadness (a.k.a. codependency).
    Sacrificing your plans, dreams, and goals in order to please others.
    • Not taking responsibility for yourself and blaming others for your problems.
    Being in a relationship does not have to mean losing your sense of individuality. It may seem obvious that no one would want his/her boundaries violated and would want to maintain their autonomy.
    So why is boundary violation a common issue? Why do we NOT enforce or uphold our boundaries?
    1. FEAR of rejection and, ultimately, abandonment.
    2. FEAR of confrontation.
    3. GUILT.
    4. Lack of solid knowledge, as many of us were not taught how to effectively draw healthy boundaries.
    Awareness is the first step in establishing and enforcing your boundaries.
    Assess the current state of your boundaries, using the list below:
    HEALTHY BOUNDARIES allow you to:
    • Have high self-esteem and self-respect.
    • Share personal information gradually, in a mutually sharing and trusting relationship.
    • Protect physical and emotional space from intrusion.
    • Have an equal partnership where responsibility and power are shared.
    • Be assertive. Confidently and truthfully say “yes” or “no” and be okay when others say “no” to you.
    • Separate your needs, thoughts, feelings and desires from others. Recognize that your boundaries and needs are different from others.
    • Empower yourself to make healthy choices and take responsibility for yourself.
    UNHEALTHY BOUNDARIES are characterized by:
    • Sharing too much too soon or, at the other end of the spectrum, closing yourself off and not expressing your need and wants.
    • Feeling responsible for others’ happiness.
    • Inability to say “no” for fear of rejection or abandonment.
    • Weak sense of your own identity. You base how you feel about yourself on how others treat you.
    • Disempowerment. You allow others to make decisions for you; consequently, you feel powerless and do not take responsibility for your own life.
    Tips for Setting Healthy Boundaries
    (Modified from the book, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin, by Anne Katherine)
    • When you identify the need to set a boundary, do it clearly, calmly, firmly, respectfully, and in as few words as possible. Do not justify, get angry or apologize for the boundary you are setting.
    • You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. You are only responsible for clearly and respectfully communicating your boundary. If it upsets the other person, be confident knowing it is not your problem. Some people, especially those accustomed to controlling, abusing or manipulating you, might test you. Plan on it, expect it, but remain firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. You cannot successfully establish a clear boundary if you send mixed messages by apologizing.
    • At first, you will probably feel selfish, guilty or embarrassed when you set a boundary. Do it anyway and tell yourself you have a right to protect yourself. Setting boundaries takes practice and determination. Don't let anxiety or low self-esteem prevent you from taking care of yourself.
    • When you feel anger or resentment, or find yourself whining or complaining, you probably need to set a boundary. Listen to yourself, determine what you need to do or say, then communicate assertively.
    • Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time. It is a process. Set them in your own time frame, not when someone else tells you.
    • Develop a support system of people who respect your right to set boundaries. Eliminate toxic people from your life—those who want to manipulate, abuse and control you.
    Establishing healthy boundaries and enforcing them builds self-worth and confidence—all very sexy qualities.
    I hope you take the time this week to put into practice some of the above ideas. Please share any insight, and even struggles, so we can support each other right here.
    And, as always, take care of you.
    Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

    Success is the ability to fulfill your desires with effortless ease.

    "Success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals. Success is the ability to fulfill your desires with effortless ease. And yet success, including the creation of wealth, has always been considered to be a process that requires hard work and it is often considered to be at the expense of others. We need a more spiritual approach to success and to affluence which is the abundant flow of all good things to you."- Deepak Chopra

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    The most powerful tool we have at our disposal is the power of choice.

    By Mastin Kipp
    The most powerful tool we have at our disposal is the power of choice. Almost everything that happens in our lives is the result of a choice that we have made. And for the things that happen in our lives that we didn't choose to have happen - how we CHOOSE to respond to these events is still our choice.

    Choice is everything. And what I've come to see after doing TDL for so many years and working with thousands of people is that a lot of folks don't think they have a choice in their life. It is not until we investigate where their actions come from that we discover they actually DO have the power to choose.

    We don't always get to choose what happens in life, but we do get to choose how we respond to what happens. There is a BIG difference between reaction and response. Reaction is when something happens and we just react - without thinking. It's like the animal in us takes over and wants to either fight or run. We react with defensiveness, judgment or shock. We react with anger or even hate. We react with disgust. We react with all kinds of emotions that don't represent our highest nature.

    I've come to believe that our journey is to first become aware of how we react and not make it wrong. To understand that we and everyone we know are doing the best that they can from their point of view. And we can investigate where these reactions come from. And slowly over time we begin to see that when things trigger us "out there" - there is a precious space in between something happening and our reaction. And in this space we now have a choice - a choice of how we want to respond.

    To me, the ability to respond is far more powerful than unconscious reaction. This is respons-ibility is - the ability to respond. And in this space, where we can choose, lay our power.

    What are we going to make this mean? And why? What's the root of the trigger I'm having? What do I have to believe about life to have this reaction? And then what do I want to believe about life, what empowering perspective can I take that will allow me to see the lesson in this moment and then let it go?

    This is like spiritual fitness training. Emotional muscle building. To be able to choose a response instead of be at the whims of our unconscious reactions.

    Until tomorrow - lots of LOVE,

    Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Tomorrow Night I'm Making These ~ Golumpki's!


    1. 1
      Cut 12 large leaves off of cabbage head, cover leaves with boiling water, let stand until leaves are limp (2-3 minutes); then drain OR core cabbage head, and boil cabbage until leaves are tender enough to remove easily (10-15 minutes), very carefully remove 12 large leaves (You may have to peel the outer layers first and then return the cabbage to cook and continue peeling the leaves until all are done); then drain.
    2. 2
      Mix beef, pork, rice, egg, milk, seasonings, and vegetables.
    3. 3
      Preheat oven to 350°F.
    4. 4
      Put 1-4 tablespoons (depending on size of leaf) of meat mixture in center of each leaf; tuck in sides and roll to cover meat (I roll any leftover filling into meatballs and cook them with the cabbage rolls).
    5. 5
      Place, seam side down in baking dish.
    6. 6
      Mix tomato sauce with the sugar; pour over rolls.
    7. 7
      Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes.

    Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Winning in a seller's housing market!

    Winning in a seller's housing market

    To their surprise, buyers in some housing markets are finding they're no longer in the power position.
    (Money Magazine) -- When Paul and Ieva Johnson moved from Minnesota to Florida, they were looking forward to warm weather and plenty of bargain-priced homes. But when the couple made their first offer earlier this year, they quickly discovered that they'd have to settle for the sunshine.
    Not only didn't they get the house, says Paul, but "we didn't even get a callback." Over the next two months they put in seven offers -- most at or above asking price -- before finally making a successful $365,000 bid on a Sarasota three-bedroom.

    How to Spot a Recovering Market
    If key local sales indicators beat the U.S. averages (as they do in the areas below), your market is probably picking up -- and prices will soon follow.
    Metro Area Percentage With Drop In List Price Days Listed On Zillow Sale-to-List Price Ratio
    San Jose 16.5% 51 1.01
    Cheyenne, Wyo. 21.7% 88 1.08
    Clarksville, Tenn. 30.6% 103 0.98
    National Average 30.7% 113 0.97
    NOTE: Zillow, based on June 2012 data.

    To their surprise, buyers in some housing markets are finding that they're no longer in the power position. The reason is simple: too many bidders and not enough homes.
    A growing number of shoppers are on the hunt, confident that the market has hit bottom, say brokers. Yet many would-be sellers are staying on the sidelines, either because they're underwater or because prices are still painfully low.
    Related: Best home deals in the Best Places to Live
    In June the number of houses listed for sale nationwide dropped 24% compared with the year prior, sending the supply of homes relative to buying activity down to levels not seen since 2006.
    That's led to some stiff competition among buyers, says Sin-Yi Chao Lambertson, a broker in Glendora, Calif.: "I've had listings get 45 offers."
    As the economy improves, the supply of homes should bounce back. If you're in the market now, though, and want to ensure yours is the winning bid, take these steps:
    Size up your town. First you'll need to determine whether you could be in for a bidding war. Rising price tags are a sign that sellers are gaining ground, but prices often lag the market.
    Related: Buy or rent? 10 major cities
    Two other stats, available on real estate site Zillow, can mean an area's heating up: a drop in the percentage of homes with list price cuts, and an increasing ratio of sales to asking prices.
    Don't skimp on credit. With many sellers worried about deals falling through, you'll need the bank's blessing right away. Don't waste time on prequalification, which is an estimate of how much you might be able to borrow.
    "When multiple offers come in, I'll toss out anything that's just prequalified," says Teri Herrera, a broker in Redmond, Wash. Pre-approval based on your credit, income, and assets is better, and full credit approval, which goes through the bank's underwriting department, is best.
    Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

    Do we ever really graduate from high school?

    As children, we forge our identities based on the rewards given for “right” actions and trying to avoid the punishments exacted for “wrong.” We see our peers rewarded for certain behavior and others penalized, and in order to conform, we begin to align with those actions, those paradigms (belief systems) that squash our uniqueness, encouraging us to assimilate. Our formative years become about fitting in. “If I do this, I know I’ll be rewarded. If I do this, I’ll be made fun of.”
    As the left-brain is strengthened, we lose the emphasis in the right brain to create, explore, play and be spontaneous and instinctual. The more adventurous part – the seeker, the explorer – atrophies. We’re told,“Boys don’t cry,” or “Girls shouldn’t be loud or aggressive,” or “Stop doing that, you’re not a baby anymore.” Remember these: “Fag. Sissy. Loser. Fatso. Brace-face. Trash. Whore. Slut. Retard. Zit-head. Hick. Trailer Park. Dog-face.” Well, our left-brain does. And it stores all of it. Only to revisit high school in our heads over and over again.
    Remember when you received an “F” in elementary school for coloring outside the lines in your coloring book? Insanity! As people, as artists, we need to – we must - color wherever we want. Be a non-conformist. Color the sky green and the sea brown. Add polka dots and stripes and ignore the lines. Your own drawing is going to be better than trying to color in someone else’s “correctly.”
    The art of living is recapturing this child-like creativity and knowing we aren’t going to be punished for coloring outside the lines. All art is generated from what I believe is a transcendental place that taps into our eternal, ever youthful, ego-less selves. The word 'transcendental' means: beyond all concepts. Love doesn’t come from the left-brain. Nor does Passion. They’re not concepts.
    We love, hope, empathize and feel passion, create and play from the right hemisphere of the brain. The left-brain interferes with us expressing that natural essence of who we are. By listening to that, to those hurtful words from high school – the “you cant-s” and “you should-s” and the “be normal-s” – by conforming, we shut out the possibility of miracles happening when we don’t live our lives fully from a place beyond the left-brain. Meaning - living now.
    Let go of the conditioning of high school. You’ve graduated. You earned your stripes. No need to go back and revisit those lessons.
    Bravely return to this creative play within you, without fear of being forever banished to the homeroom hell of high school.
    Tony Meindl
    Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Realtor!

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Best Ever Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

    Best Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

    By mid-afternoon, the line at Culture Espresso stretches out the door and onto the sidewalk. Once inside, Midtown New York City office workers are handed white paper cups with artful foam and, if they are smart, a chocolate chunk cookie as big as a basketball player's palm, still warm from the oven.

    "Nothing really beats a good chocolate chip cookie," owner Jody LoCascio says, echoing our cookie-crazy thoughts exactly. "We have a full-time cookie guy," he adds, an oddity for a small coffee shop that focuses on expertly brewed espresso drinks and coffees. "We do over 100 a day."

    Related: How to Make Oreo Cookies at Home

    Form the dough into ballsForm the dough into ballsThe cookie is golden crisp at the edges, an inch-thick, and soft--blissfully almost undercooked--with melty dark chocolate chunks inside. I've eaten a lot of chocolate chip cookies in my day, but this one balances near the top of the heap.

    The cookie's been a customer favorite since Culture first opened and a Culinary Institute of America-trained pastry chef created a menu of treats. Back then, "a basic little home mixer from Macy's" could keep up with demand, said LoCascio. The coffee shop has since upgraded to an industrial-sized mixer made for large-scale batches to keep up with demand. "We just kinda hit it," he says. "It's taken off."

    Related: Creative Ways to Use Store-Bought Cookie Dough

    Three little tweaks take this chocolate chunk cookie recipe from simply delicious to sensational:

    • Culture uses a higher-fat unsalted European-style butter. "It's more expensive," says LoCascio, "but it's better." Most butter clocks in at 80 percent butterfat, but a European-style stick can have up to 84 percent butterfat. Look for it in the grocery store with the other butters. Organic Valley makes a version.
    "Another trick of the trade is refrigerating the dough," he says. "We make the dough, shape it into balls, refrigerate and bake it the next day. It keeps [the cookies] a little bit thicker but still moist."
    "The key is getting really good chocolate," advises LoCascio. "We use a darker chocolate." Buy your favorite dark chocolate bar and cut it into chunks yourself, or buy the best quality dark chocolate chunks you can find in the baking aisle.

    We say: pass the milk, please.

    Best-Ever Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
    adapted from Baking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America

    2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    2 sticks (16 tablespoons) European-style unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 3/4 cups sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    2 cups dark chocolate chunks

    In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined.

    In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between additions and scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and mix. On low speed or by hand, stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, mixing until just incorporated. Do not over-mix. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

    Using a cookie scoop, ice cream scoop, or two spoons, form dough balls and place on prepared cookie sheets with a few inches of room in between. Refrigerate overnight.

    Preheat the oven to 375 F with rack in the center. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

    Bake for 10-13 minutes (depending on the size of your dough balls), until they are golden brown around the edges and puffy in the center. Let cookies cool a few minutes on baking sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
    Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. — Thich Nhat Hanh

    Smiling and Stress

    Smiling speeds recovery when a stressful experience is over.
    Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. — Thich Nhat Hanh
    An interesting research report, by Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman, will soon be published in Psychological Science. Their research speaks directly to well-being, psychological and physical, and the link between these two spheres. The researchers wondered about the effects of smiling on physiological recovery from stress.
    The innovation of their research was that they deliberately manipulated whether participants were smiling or not — making this a true experiment — and further took steps to avoid “demanding” hypothesized responses from these participants*.
    Kraft and Pressman (2012) studied 169 college students, telling them that their investigation concerned multi-tasking. Participants were hooked up to a monitor that assessed their heart rate in beats per minute throughout the entire experiment. Heart rate is a simple and reliable way to measure experienced stress — the higher the rate, the more stress someone is experiencing.
    After a 10-minute acclimation period, participants were asked to spend two minutes doing a difficult task, using their non-dominant hand to trace a star-shaped design without going off a provided outline. Oh, and they could only see what they were doing while viewing a mirror image of their hand, which is to say a reversed image. Accuracy was emphasized, and participants were given false information about “average” performance: eight tracings in two minutes with fewer than 25 errors. In reality, participants could only manage two tracings and on average made more than 25 errors.
    A five-minute recovery period ensued, followed by another stress-inducing task, submerging one’s hand in ice water for one minute, a painful but not harmful experience. Then there was another five-minute recovery period.
    Are you following? Here comes the gist of the experiment. During the stress tasks (not the recovery periods), participants were assigned to different conditions. Those in the neutral expression control group were asked to hold the ends of chopsticks gently in their mouth while relaxing their face. Those in the standard smiling group did the same while using their zygomaticus major muscles**, those involved in raising the corners of the mouth, thereby producing a facial smile. Those in the Duchenne smiling group held chopsticks cross-wise in their mouths while using their zygomaticus major muscles as well as their orbicularis oculi muscles, those involved in closing the eyelids, thereby producing the full-faced smile known as a Duchenne smile. Duchenne smiles are often characterized as genuine ones, and they predict marital satisfaction as well as longevity, presumably because their frequent display is a marker of a happy and satisfied life (Abel & Kruger, 2010; Harker & Keltner, 2001). Participants were provided coaching and shown photo examples of how they should look in each condition. Their fidelity to the instructions was later checked by raters watching videotapes.
    Half of the participants in each of the two smiling groups were explicitly told to smile, which is how the researchers controlled for demand characteristics. These participants were aware that they should be smiling, whereas other participants were simply told how to hold their faces.
    The experiment had five conditions: (1) neutral expression; (2) standard smiling without awareness; (3) standard smiling with awareness; (4) Duchenne smiling without awareness; and (5) Duchenne smiling with awareness. Their heart rate was monitored throughout, and the crucial analyses looked at reductions in heart rate following the multiple tasks as a function of condition.
    Results were straightforward and as expected. Regardless of their awareness, smiling participants recovered more quickly from stress than those with neutral expressions, and those displaying Duchenne smiles recovered somewhat more quickly than those displaying a standard smile.
    So, smiling speeds recovery from stress. How? The research did not directly test possible biological mechanisms, but perhaps smiling influences blood flow in the brain, thereby undoing the effects of stress. In any event, let me draw out some of the implications.
    Smile while you are stressed, genuinely if possible. But faking — i.e., smiling with just your mouth — may still be worth your effort. Doing so does not reduce stress in the moment, but it speeds recovery when a stressful experience is over. That said, Kraft and Pressman cautioned that their finding applies to recovery from short-term stress. The long-term display of emotions one is not really feeling may actually take a toll (Goldberg & Grandey, 2007).
    I just talked to a writer for a fitness magazine, who had heard about this study and was writing a story on it. He asked if smiling during a workout made it easier. My opinion was “Not exactly.” For starters, exercise raises one’s heartbeat, but I assume in a different way than the stressful tasks in Kraft and Pressman’s experiment. Much as I would like to believe that stress caused by multi-tasking constitutes aerobic exercise, I suspect it does not. And in any event, the research was about recovery from stress and not about the reduction of stress per se.
    Still, smiling during exercise may make a workout more enjoyable, if only because it makes the smiling person more approachable by others. I have a strong opinion that workouts would be more enjoyable for most of us if these workouts were more social and not pursued in grim indifference to those sharing the same gym (Peterson & Xydis, 2011). Smiling opens doors, at gyms and elsewhere.
    Late at night, when I am flipping through television shows, I sometimes come across an infomercial pushing some sort of exercise device or program. The people depicted are of course fit and attractive, but they also have a strange expression on their face, which I finally have identified. It is not exactly a smile. It is a display of smugness, as in “I am ripped and you are not,” which I find off-putting. I would be more inclined to purchase whatever is being urged on me if these folks were simply smiling.
    I find it intriguing that Duchenne smiles can be deliberately created, which goes against their common interpretation as genuine and thus impossible to fake. However, I remember some years ago teaching a small seminar class in which I mentioned Duchenne smiles. I commented that they could not be faked. A student raised her hand. I acknowledged her, and she gave the whole class a wonderful Duchenne smile. I just stared back at her, speechless for a moment. Then I asked, “How did you do that? Are you faking?”
    She smiled, again, radiantly, and said, “What makes you think I’m faking? I’m just smiling. I’m a theater major, by the way, and I have learned how to express emotions.”
    What ensued was a fascinating discussion of method acting, and I think positive psychology, in its search for interventions that bolster well-being, could learn much from the strategies of Stanislavski, Strasberg, and others.
    * What are called demand characteristics can plague studies of sentient human beings, who may try to figure out what is expected of them in an investigation and then act accordingly, confirming the research hypothesis for irrelevant reasons (Orne, 1962). Imagine a psychology laboratory to which potential participants report for a study. As participants wait in the hallway for the study to begin, they see a bulletin board on which are posted descriptions of past studies conducted by those who run the laboratory. Is it far-fetched to suppose that some potential participants read these descriptions, think about them, and once the study begins recognize the research paradigm as one intended to investigate the effects of X on Y? Is it far-fetched to think that the behavior of these participants is thereby influenced?
    Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

    Five surprising principles for living, loving, and playing well with others.

    Lessons For Living

    Image: Babies playing poker
    Impressing others, managing money, advancing your career: No matter what your aspiration, there's a wealth of accumulated knowledge to help you reach it. But if your highest goal is to lead a satisfying life, your best shot is to seek out wisdom that helps you cultivate strong relationships of all kinds. Studies show that people who enjoy close ties with friends and family are happier, have fewer health problems, and are more resilient to the stresses of our times. "Good social connections aren't just important to living a fulfilling life—they're vital to any type of healthy life at all," says Will Meek, a psychologist at Washington State University. "When we lack stable and supportive relationships, we can become depressed and anxious."

    Find a Therapist

    Search for a mental health professional near you.
    Moreover, our connections provide some of the best opportunities to grow in meaningful ways, says psychologist Harriet Lerner: "Any relationship can be a laboratory where we experiment with bold acts of change and learn something about ourselves, the other person, and the possibilities between us."
    When it comes to seeking out bona fide relationship advice, don't limit yourself to self-help books—hard-won real-life wisdom can be more valuable than anything you'd find at Barnes & Noble. It's also wise to approach conventional relationship truisms with a critical eye. We've culled the data, consulted the experts, and arrived at some essential lessons that depart from hand-me-down norms.
    Lesson #1 THE ROLE OF RADICAL ACCEPTANCEYou can't fix the ones you love, so focus on fixing yourself.
    Decades ago, the musical Guys and Dolls lampooned our universal urge to change others with the lyrics "Marry the man today, and change his ways tomorrow." The idea that we can fix perceived flaws in our partners, friends, parents, and grown children, making them behave the way we want, remains tantalizing.
    A healthy dose of ego often convinces us that our way of looking at things is right, but the truth is that trying to "correct" someone else's flaws usually backfires, says psychologist Paul Coleman, author of "We Need To Talk": Tough Conversations With Your Spouse. "It implies that we're coming from a more enlightened place, that we have a deeper knowledge of what's best," he says. The other person may get the message that he or she isn't good enough, and turn resentful—creating an atmosphere that smothers affection and creates distance.
    Image: Babies dressed as animals crawling thru hoops
    A healthier approach when you don't see eye to eye in a relationship you want to keep: "Look inward to fix the problem rather than trying to change the other person," says Northwestern University psychologist Eli Finkel—even if that just means practicing acceptance. If you know your partner hates large gatherings, consider attending the next party solo so he doesn't have to make forced conversation and you don't have to leave early (and annoyed). Or if your son says he wants to forgo college for now, try to express enthusiasm for his budding career as a nature guide instead of bombarding him with links to school rankings.
    Making accommodations like these involves the crucial recognition that there are some matters on which you're never going to be in sync—and that you're willing to accept this in order to preserve the other's autonomy. "You have to say, 'We have this permanent difference, but we need to learn to live with each other,' " Coleman advises. Regardless of whether the other person changes, such acceptance communicates the basic respect that keeps relationships solid over time.
    Lesson #2 THE BEAUTY OF BENIGN NEGLECTIt's more harmful to overparent than to underparent.
    They provoke eye rolls from teachers and developmental experts alike: helicopter parents who hover relentlessly over their kids to keep them safe and fulfilled—see them sprinting over to the swings to right a playground injustice or emailing schools incessantly to check on their kid's progress. Then there are the gung-ho attachment parenting types who believe they must constantly wear their babies or share a family bed in order to build secure bonds.
    In its various forms, the über-doting mentality seems logical on the surface. Parents want their children to grow up feeling loved and happy; in an uncertain world of real (or perceived) dangers and intense competition for jobs, they may feel compelled to run interference to give kids every possible advantage in life. "There's a huge distrust in other parents and society's institutions that pushes parents to overparent. They overestimate the influence they themselves have on development," says Hara Estroff Marano, author of A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting.
    "Parents lack trust in children's desire to be competent and that nature will influence the course of development. They distrust that attachment is built into normal parenting, that it emerges from the basic routines of caring for a baby," she says. The compulsion to intervene becomes even stronger when parents view their offspring as surrogates for the fulfillment of their own happiness and deferred dreams, adds Tufts University child psychologist David Elkind, author of The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children.
    Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!