Six Months Left

How would you spend your time if you only had six months left?

Six Months Left

This can be a VERY interesting question. In October of 2014, a young woman named Brittany Maynard brought this issue to the social media forefront. Yahoo Health reported on October 7th that Brittany, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, intended to end her life on November 1st so she could die on her own terms.  As I began to read about Brittany’s journey, I came across an online post by Brett Harris where he contrasted Brittany’s journey with that of another young man who faced a similar situation named Clayton McDonald.  Both of these stories are heart-breaking (You can view the videos from both Brittany and Clayton and hear it in their own words by clicking on their names above). Clayton made a statement in his video that really hit home with me though and that prompted what I now refer to as the “Six Months Left Exercise”.  UPDATE 04/20/15: One month left in my “excercise”.  I just came across another young woman who walked the same path as Brittany and Clayton. Here is Kara Tippetts’ story and her open letter to Brittany. Kara’s time on this earth came to an end on March 22, 2015. As I pray her family, I continue to pray that I will make the most of the days I have.

The Six Months Left Exercise

Clayton McDonald said in his video that “We all have a clock. A timeline of when we are going to kick the bucket. For me, I have the luxury of knowing about when I might go.”  When I heard him say that I thought – Why does it take terminal brain cancer for someone to get a sense of urgency and live fully awake with a clear purpose? This thought churned around in my soul for a couple of weeks and on November 20, 2014, I made a decision to pretend I only had six months left to live. May 20, 2015 was going to be my last day and I was going to act like it.  I know there may be some who read this and think… “This is just morbid.” Well that may very well be. The problem is that I cannot escape the nagging question that started all this. I also feel that this is such a serious issue to those who are actually facing this that I do not want to be disrespectful. So, I intend to let my emotions get as real as possible in order to relate as best I can.  Thus far the emotions have been plenty real! Thinking this deeply is exhausting at times.  It is also invigorating as I look back and see differences in my conversations.

Making the Time Count

Once I made the decision to do this exercise I started experiencing some deep emotions right away. 6 months. 26 weeks. 180 days. As I contemplated the reality of being gone in six months, everything started to get measured against May 20th, 2015. This is my last Thanksgiving.  My last Christmas… Dang, six months will be gone in a flash! There is no time to start building something new – I am going to have to just bloom where I am planted.  So, my first step was to define my life “arena” – the people I already interact with and the places that I go.  As a husband / father / son / brother, I have 50+ years of experiences, emotions, advice and love to convey. This blog post itself is a part my offloading process.

My Places ( My Life Arena)

My life arena consists of the places I go each week and the people I know there. Beyond my immediate family,  I spend a lot of hours each week through Keller Williams Realty because my team, The Bunch Real Estate Group, helps people buy and sell homes. So, as an example at my office there is the staff, fellow agents and clients. Here are some sample places that make of our life arena:

  1. Workplace
  2. Clients
  3. Professional Associations
  4. Service Providers you use
  5. School (teachers, parents, students)
  6. Church
  7. Neighborhood / HOA
  8. Charities
  9. Boards
  10. Hometown friends
  11. College / Fraternity / Sorority friends
  12. Hobbies
  13. Social Media Connections

Think through all of these places and those people who seem to most appreciate you and what you have to offer.  Keep in mind, you only have 26 weeks left. So that begs the question – how many people can you focus on per week? How many can you write a letter/note to? How many can you meet with? Go ahead and start your list.

My People

We all have people or causes we care about. Ask yourself this question: “What breaks my heart?” OR if you want to look into the future, “It would break my heart if ______ happened and I didn’t ….”  In my case, these questions really helped me get clarity. As I begin writing down my concerns in Evernote, it was easy to focus and re-focus.  I noticed that when the days are flying by and life takes over, it is easy to get distracted.  To slip back in to some zone where it seems like there is “plenty of time”.  As I reflected on the people and causes most important to me, it was so gratifying to invest my time on those things instead of letting it slip away to the tyranny of the urgent! Please don’t get hung up on Evernote though.  It is not the be all – end all. It is simply tool that allowed me to have my priorities available on all my devices – which in turn brought clarity. It allowed me to be very purposeful with my conversations, my lunches and my commitments.  Having this list gave me a concrete set of priorities so that I could say “no” when I really wanted to.  That in turn allowed me the ability to say “yes” when I really wanted to. 180 Days and counting.  Let these people know how much they mean to you. Call them. Write them. Encourage them. Pray for them.

My Prayers ( Getting REAL )

The reality is that there are some problems that winning the lottery will not solve. This whole exercise is based on the notion of some terminal disease that money can’t fix.  I know people who are hurting and sick.  People who have relationship problems.  Other things that money can’t fix.  If I have limited time, I want to cover as much ground as I can. So, for me, asking for God’s help seems very natural. Prayer can be very powerful and yet we seem to reserve it for “major” problems. Like we don’t want to bother other people with our struggles.  Let’s face it – we are all struggling in some way and could use prayers and encouragement.  This six month exercise for me means writing those prayers down and actually sharing the written specific prayers with the people I am praying for.  That way they know for sure what it is I am asking for. Talk about tough! Some of these prayers flush some serious stuff to the surface that has to be dealt with.  That’s ok. I believe that is exactly what love looks like.  Real Life Wrestling. Honesty, transparency, boldness, compassion. I call it good-hard stuff.

Want to do this exercise yourself?

  1. Set a date six months from now and etch it in your mind.
  2. Watch both Brittany and Clayton’s videos.
  3. Describe your specific arena areas
  4. Make a list of the most important people to you in those areas
  5. Write out some thoughts and prayers for each of them
  6. Share the prayers with the people
  7. Watch the clock
  8. Take some breaks
  9. Keep a journal

I would love to hear how it goes for you!

Newer $2M Home gets Dramatic Interior Renovation

Newer $2M Home gets Dramatic Interior Renovation thanks to Stephanie Geyer.

700 Londonberry Rd Dining Before

English country manor takes a turn towards farmhouse with this dramatic interior renovation.  We met up with Stephanie Geyer at one of her latest projects to take a tour and see how she works her magic.  The photo above shows the first thing you see when you walk in the front door – a large dining room flanked by barn doors which looks out onto a rear covered porch.  One of the signature elements in this project was to add shiplap walls in several places over the drywall and it does not even feel like the same house at times.  And, that is the main point here.  In our real estate world of “location, location, location”, interiors can always be changed.  Sometimes radically.

The original kitchen design featured two islands, painted cabinetry and granite counter tops. Stephanie worked with the new home owner to combine the islands into a large one-level center island with a honed marble top.  The backsplash was replaced with white subway ceramic tiles by Waterworks.

Newer $2M Home gets Dramatic Interior Renovation

Kitchen – BEFORE

Newer $2M Home gets Dramatic Interior Renovation

Kitchen – AFTER

In the photos below, the Keeping Room was transformed from rich stained wood beams and boards to a more monochromatic palate which was then able to accommodate more transitional furnishings.  We are definitely seeing a recent shift to towards more painted wood and neutral color palates.  It is almost like people are bring a bit of the beach back home from vacation with them in their design preferences.

Newer $2M Home gets Dramatic Interior Renovation

Keeping Room – BEFORE

Newer $2M Home gets Dramatic Interior Renovation

Keeping Room – AFTER

Lightening the feel also meant lightening the stain on the hardwood floors too – a bold move move when the trend in new construction seems to be darker.

Looking for a splash of fun?

Stephanie works with a local artisan who has several pickers out looking for materials that can be re-purposed for accent pieces.  The photo below highlights two galvanized pails that were  inverted and converted into pendant light fixtures for the laundry room. I liken these artistic touches as “crushed red pepper flakes”.  It doesn’t take much to make a HUGE difference.  A sprinkle here – sprinkle there.

Newer $2M Home gets an early Renovation

Galvanized Pail Lights

Are you inspired?

Please let us know. We would be happy to help you put together a team to explore your dreams whether it involves moving or not. Email us at michael@bunchrealestategroup.com or call us at 404.939.3202.  Also feel free to visit our website www.BunchRealEstateGroup.com

Special Thanks to Jan Brownfield, Coldwell banker Residential Brokerage, for the “before” photos from when the house was listed prior to purchase.

Chastain Park Home Sales as of April 2014

Chastain Park Home Sales year-to-date are falling behind 2013!

Chastain Park Home Sales

View the Latest Home Sale Stats:

Inventory and Sales Summary – Chastain Park 2014

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Curious about which homes are currently for sale?
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Curious about which homes are selling?
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Chastain Park Home Sales as of Oct 2013

Chastain Park Home Sales year-to-date have now fallen behind 2012.

Chastain Park Statistics

View the Latest Home Sale Stats:

Inventory and Sales Summary – Chastain Park as of Oct 2013

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Curious about which homes are currently for sale?
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Curious about which homes are selling?
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If the links are not viewing properly, it may be because you are using Google Chrome.  Sorry,  FMLS software does not like Chrome 🙁

 

Chastain Park Home Sales as of Sept 2013

Chastain Park Home Sales year-to-date are still pacing 14% ahead of 2012.

View the Latest Home Sale Stats:

Inventory and Sales Summary – Chastain Park as of Sept 2013

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Curious about which homes are currently for sale?
———————————————————————————————-
Curious about which homes are selling?
———————————————————————————————————–
If the links are not viewing properly, it may be because you are using Google Chrome.  Sorry,  FMLS software does not like Chrome 🙁

 

Experiencing Turkey in 2013

Experiencing Turkey involves complex tapestry of history and cultures

Whirling Dervis show

Our trip was coordinated through my home church in Atlanta, GA – ChristChurch Presbyterian. 2013 happened to be the year we decided to send a delegation over to Turkey to meet with some local people as a part of a leadership development initiative. Interestingly, my company – Keller Williams Realty – expanded operations  into Turkey in 2013 as well.  Istanbul was calling me!

There are countless culture differences between Atlanta, GA  and Istanbul, Turkey and I did not have any clue what that would feel like.  So it was a HUGE blessing to a have a friend on the ground to translate the language and explain things along the way in our travels.

Range of Experiences

CCP Turkey Team 2013Traveling to Istanbul, Turkey from Atlanta, GA took us a full day with a layover in London, England.  We departed from the International Concourse in Atlanta at 9:30pm and boarded the 8 hour flight to London. Yes, that means we arrived at 5:30am body time – 10:30 am London time – with a 6 hour layover.  So, having prearranged to connect with a friend of a friend, we hopped on the subway and headed to meet her at the Piccadilly Circus station to see the sights and make the most of it!

London Street ViewOut through customs and an hour ride into the Tube  into London! We were big game hunting for Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and… Fish and Chips! Two hours later (through the rain I might add),  we had done it all thanks to our new friend and “speed tour” guide Georgina. Yikes, look at the time!!! Back to the subway, back through customs, back through security screening and racing for our connecting flight to Istanbul. No problem 🙂

Planes, trains and minibuses… we made it!

Grand As Hotel

Day 1

Our journey began with a meeting with our friend. Well, actually that is not true.  The day really began around 5 am (can’t remember exactly) with the calling of the prayers coming from the loud-speaker attached to the spire or minaret of the closest mosque.  As an American living in the U.S., this is not something I am used to. You do get used to hearing it, but the first couple of times you hear that it does get your attention.  Here is an example to help you get a sense of what this sounds like.

Our friend grew up in Turkey so his life experiences provided a rich context in which to begin to understand the history of the Turkish people and the complexity of Istanbul culture.

Turgay Ucal

Our first step in the journey was to step around the corner behind the church and visit a local mosque. Here is a photo of the leader (called the Imam ).

Mosque Visit Imam  Mosque Visit

The rest of Day 1 was filled our first Turkish meal, walking neighborhood streets and touring two other cultural centers.

Day 2

Tea Time

Day 2 began with a debrief time over tea. Tea is a staple in Turkey.  In fact, someone told us jokingly that the first thing someone says to you when you meet with them is not hello but rather “What would you like to drink?”

Ferry View of European Istanbul

The rest of Day 2 was filled catching a ferry over to the European side of the city, walking more neighborhood streets and touring the museum featuring the Whirling Dervishes.

Day 3

All Saints Moda Sunday Worship

After staying up late, Day 3 began with a brisk walk for Sunday worship. The trek always seems further when you don’t want to be late!  Besides being almost entirely in Turkish (big surprise), the worship service was a blend of prayers (that were sung), music and teaching.  I have to admit the sounds of Turkish worship take a bit of getting used to even though they are very reverent.  Clearly, my world needed expanding and I am so very grateful for the privilege of coming on this trip.

One of my big takeaways from our first couple of days here is how many different ways people worship as they seek to reconcile themselves with God.  It has been a blur of different looking faces, different looking buildings, different tasting foods and different customs, different sounds…  Not bad; just different.  I found myself looking at each face I passed in this city of 17 MILLION people thinking – you were created in the image of God – full of hopes, dreams, fears and needs – just like me.  Under the surface we probably have more in common than we ever could imagine. Good stuff!

And yet time marches on – it’s time to catch a plane to Keyseri in Cappadocia!

Cappadocia approach

Day 4

Day began at 35 degrees! Cool and crisp 🙂

Goreme Hotel View

Time to find an ATM for money and then on to an underground city of refuge carved out in Derinkuyu for people and livestock 60-80 meters deep,

Cave Church  Cave

“Walk like a chicken” was the tour guide’s advice to the group ahead of us because you cannot stand up. You are also 150 feet down through these narrow passages… We kept saying, “these caves have been fine for all these years, what are the chances something will collapse today?”  Don’t laugh – it helps with the mind games.  We also saw an inactive volcano and thanks to a new friend, Yousef, toured a co-op where rugs were being woven and sold.

Day 5 

Day 5 started (again at around 35 degrees) with a visit to an open air museum of cave churches in Göreme.

Open Air Museum

Then, off to meet up with Yousef again so he can introduce us to a friend of his who runs a ceramics factory.

Ceramics Factory

Everyone have your packages?  Time to fly over to Izmir to visit Ephesus.

Day 6

One day in Ephesus… hmmm.  Ok, let’s gets moving guys!  Ephesus is a trip back thousands of years into history.

Downtown Ephesus

One thing we noticed right away is that you can touch things here 🙂

Ephesus Columns

Day 7

Day 7 began with the typical Turkish breakfast.

Grand As Breakfast

Then tea with others in our group to talk about our travels since some stayed in Istanbul as we passed through to Ephesus.  Then FREE TIME in the afternoon 🙂  Sorry Grand Bazaar and Hagia Sophia, you will have to wait until next time. I am headed to Keller Williams Realty’s Turkey and Cyprus headquarters on the 25th floor of Trump Tower!!

Trump Tower Istanbul  KW Turkey Leaders

WOW!!  That will overload your circuits.  THANKFULLY, our friend was on hand most of the time as a native tour guide to help with the historical background along with our long time friend and awesome trip liaison, Scott.  Special Thanks to our personal banker Wendy Moeller for being on hand every time a bill needed to be paid and watching the budget.  Wendy was so gracious when at times it seemed that all we did was eat and spend money to get into some venue.

Special, Special Thanks

A very sincere and heartfelt thank you to all who supported us both financially and emotionally.  To each of you who invested in me personally!!  Your prayers, posts, “likes”, comments and WhatsApp texts were very encouraging and we were only there a week.  The people at All Saints Moda felt encouraged from our visit.  Perhaps just as importantly, I think I can speak for each of us in our group that our perspective on life has been enriched forever.  I know I have a more curious and loving attitude.  The surface level differences in people and cultures can easily overshadow all the aspects of life we have in common as we each seek to live our lives, make them count, love others and be reconciled with our maker. We would do well to focus on the things we have in common first.  That way we will at least have a relationship in which to work through the differences.

 

Chastain Park Home Sales as of August 2013

Chastain Park Home Sales year-to-date have stabilized and are still pacing 14% ahead of 2012.

View the Latest Home Sale Stats:

Inventory and Sales Summary – Chastain Park as of Aug 2013

—————————————————————

Curious about which homes are currently for sale?
———————————————————————————————-
Curious about which homes are selling?
———————————————————————————————————–
If the links are not viewing properly, it may be because you are using Google Chrome.  Sorry,  FMLS software does not like Chrome 🙁

Want to take your Brick Ranch over the Top?

This home is a prime example of what to do if you Want to take your Brick Ranch over the Top. Take a look at what is behind the curtain!  Key renovations can do to make a HUGE difference.  There are a lot of brick ranch homes in and around Chastain Park in Atlanta.  So here’s a warning: You should not judge a book by its cover – especially when it comes to ranch homes.  I live in a brick ranch and most of them are very predictable.  However, people are doing some really cool things when they renovate these homes and those renovations are very special.  They also command a crowd when they hit the market and sell very fast.

Here is one of our success stories from 2012:
View the Article in the Atlanta Journal