September 17th, 2006

I have a friend who sends me regular “horoscope” readings. I have to admit that I read them… and I do look at the horoscopes, sometimes, in the newspaper. I have always had a little interest in the spiritual, metaphysical, paranormal… etc.

I have friends who have visited Sedona. I have friends who do astrological charting and others who do trance channeling. I have friends who do “readings” of all sorts. My brother is really into ghosts and unidentified flying objects (among other things). I admit to having a bit of intuition, myself. I guess I come by it honestly- a glimpse at my family tree would explain a lot. (I’ll save that for another rant).

I’ve always hated to admit that I’m an Aries… I wasn’t supposed to be an Aries… My mother’s “due date” was late January and she even had X-rays on Ground Hog Day and they told her to go home and rest- the baby’s head was engaged and birth was imminent. HA!

Somehow, I waited until the 16th of April! Dad was back and forth between hospitals visiting my mother (and me) and also visiting his grandfather, Richard (Dick) Hynes, who was gravely ill and passed away the same morning (more on that, in the family tree, later).

And so it was, I was born under the constellation “Aries”. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians and Greeks all called this group of stars "The Ram." The early Egyptians associated Aries with Amon-Re, the ram-headed supreme Sun God who symbolized power and fertility. Also, this faint and tiny cluster of stars is believed by some to have been the stellar pattern that the Magi and other astrologers looked to in their search for the Star of Bethlehem, which was foretold in biblical prophesies and promised to be a sign of the imminent birth of a king. Some people think Jesus was a Capricorn, but I’ve also heard he was actually born in July.

In spite of my denials, I’ve been told that I am the epitome of an Aries woman. I used to take offence until I did some research:

Aries is the First Sign of the Zodiac, the point where it begins its cycle on the Vernal Equinox. Thus, it is the herald of the Astrological New Year. Symbolized by an animal of great courage, Aries is related to dawn, the Season of Spring, and the beginning of life. Much like the Spirit of Spring, those born under Aries are forever looking forward, never backward. In essence, Aries governs leadership and initiative, as well as using energy to make things happen. Aries subjects are vital, instinctual and forever young. They are the perpetual Children of the Zodiac, are constantly in search of identity. These are joyful, dynamic, assertive, outspoken and brave individuals who celebrate life.

Aries natives will most likely be drawn to pursuits of an intellectual nature. They possess excellent business ability and are prolific moneymakers, particularly successful in all commercial areas. Being extremely generous, Aries is continually seeking to do well to others but tends to be careless in discriminating between worthy and unworthy objects of charity.

Aries can be intolerant, impatient, impulsive and overly emotional. Despite their apparent mean-looking features, most Aries subjects are rather attractive, especially in the face (which is, indeed, their strong point).

Also known as the Sign of the Pioneer or Warrior, Aries is Positive in polarity.
The general characteristics of Positive Signs broadly match those for the extrovert personality and such individuals are naturally impulsive, buoyant, communicative and sociable.

Since there is an inherent desire to rule and command, Aries natives are noble, charming and despite apparent mean-looking features, most Aries subjects are rather attractive, especially in the face (which is, indeed, their strong point).

Ruled as she is by the planet Mars, the female Aries loves nothing more than a good battle (verbal or physical) and is always ready to meet any challenge. The trouble is that, while she can forget about the whole thing within ten seconds, the offended party is liable to take a little longer to get over the confrontation. The spiritual Fire burning within these individuals consumes emotion and allows the ability to move on...to forgive and forget.

They are also sympathetic, tender and warm-hearted, as well as being magnetic and progressive. Fond of music and dancing, those governed by Aries love harmony, order and beauty in all things. Their tastes are likely to be luxurious and they will be at their best in the midst of elegant surroundings and, if leaders, also in social functions. Aries people are often considered to be wealthier than they actually are...possibly because they dress well and tend to possess a commanding appearance. It is a mistake, however, to think that the Aries female wants to be spoiled. This is actually the last thing she desires. This woman adores nothing more than a challenge and boredom is something she is unable to tolerate.

A vast majority of them will be deeply interested in the occult and metaphysical studies.

Aries individuals have high ideals and a broad vision, coupled with passion and assertiveness. Theirs is an inspirational and contagious "can-do" attitude that lacks nothing in the way of courage and initiative. It has been said that Fire Signs rule the spirit and primal life force. They are prone to have strong egos, so being the center of attention comes naturally to those governed by Fire.

Aries women make excellent designers and good writers. They are highly capable of holding positions of authority, trust and responsibility. However, the Aries female will become impatient and irritable under restraint and it would be best if she were left alone to carry out any duties once she has a thorough understanding of what is required.

Positive Signs tend to crave excitement and thus, are inclined to direct their energies outward into the world around them. Aries is the most flagrantly extrovert of the Positive Signs. Aries is ruled by fire, governed by the Planet Mars. Fire individuals are impulsive, energetic, active and inspired.

Those ruled by Fire can appear brusque and hurried. They tend to rush through conversations in order to reach the heart of the matter. They are easily bored with the same people and ideas, and constantly search for more with which to feed their fiery souls. They often feel compelled by some higher force to take off on a personal quest or adventure.

Positive Traits: pioneering, adventurous, energetic, courageous, enterprising, confident, dynamic, quick-witted and freedom-loving
Negative Traits: selfish, quick-tempered, impulsive, impatient and foolhardy
Fire is prone to deliberately and openly do things that will irritate others to the point of anger. Fire is straightforward and has no reservations about hurting the feelings of others...prone to inflict both physical and mental pain.
Likes: action, challenge, spontaneity, championing causes and coming in first
The lucky number for Aries is nine (also known as the Novena). The Hebrews referred to the number nine as representing immutable truth. In Buddhist tradition, nine is the supreme spiritual power.
The lucky day for those who fall under the jurisdiction of Aries is Tuesday.
Colour: Crimson Red
Dislikes: waiting, tyranny, failure, lack of opposition and the advice of others
Apostle: Peter
Prophet: Malachi
Anatomy: Rules the head, face, brain and upper teeth
Corresponding Tarot Card: The Emperor
Animals: Ram, Sheep and Owl
Watchword: Action
Keynote: Hope
Physical Manifestation: Impetus
Mental Manifestation: Enterprise
Motto: Never Defeated
Quote: I Am

The most fascinating thing I have ever read about an Aries is: Since Fire subjects are generally warm, enthusiastic and outgoing, they require an abundance of "fuel" and are constantly seeking for something new upon which to "feed." Those who fall under the jurisdiction of Fire, however, are not truly to blame for they are usually quite oblivious to the effects of their massive energy.

A look at a list of notable Arians explains even more…. If I truly share any characteristics with most of these people, whatever it is- it really can’t be my fault! So maybe, just maybe, it isn’t so bad being an Aries!

Hans Christian Andersen, Desi Arnaz, Herb Alpert, Alan Arkin, Louie Anderson, Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle, John Astin, Albert Gore, Patricia Arquette, Don Adams, Maya Angelou, Alexander the Great, Louis Armstrong, Jann Arden, Dante Alighieri, John James Audubon, Madeline Albright
Anita Bryant, Marlon Brando, Bismarck, Chaeli Layne Boken, Jerry Brown, Pearl Bailey, Wernher von Braun, Warren Beatty, Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Barkin, Victoria (Posh Spice) Beckham, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Benson, Roger Bannister, Joseph Barbera, Clyde Barrow, Dirk Bogarde, August Anheuser Busch Jr., Elmer Bernstein, Guatama Buddha, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Samuel Beckett, Jonathon Brandis, Richie Blackmore, Lucrezia Borgia, Lauren Bacall, Joan Baez, Joan Blondell, Lloyd Bridges, Alexander Graham Bell, Carol Burnett, Antonio Banderas, James Brown, Jack Black, Robert Browning, Charlotte Bronte, Irving Berlin, Tony Blair, Robert the Bruce, May Britt
Julie Christie, Charles Chaplin, Terry-Anne Moore-Davis-Hughes-Cramer, Casanova, Theodore Chapman, Joan Crawford, Stuart Cramer III, Karen Chinatti, James Caan, Mariah Carey, Eric Clapton, Richard Chamberlain, Francis Ford Coppola, David Cassidy, Roy Clark, Russell Crowe, Glen Campbell, Billy Carter, Lon Chaney, Dana Carvey, Charlemagne, Walter Percy Chrysler, Butch Cassidy, Jackie Chan, Russell Crowe, Chuck Connors, Oleg Cassini, Maria Callas, Tom Clancy, Jack Cassidy, Claudia Cardinale, Tim Curry, Jamie Lee Curtis, Howard Cosell, James Coburn, Joe Cocker, Bill Cosby, Deepak Chopra, George Clooney, John Coltrane, Johnny Cash, Frank Capra, David Carradine, Tracy Chapman, Bing Crosby, Marcia Cross,
Bette Davis, Denmark, Doris Chase Doane, Thomas E. Dewey, Doris Day, Clarence Darrow, Timothy Dalton, Robert Downey Jr, Claire Danes, Celine Dion, Francisco Jose de Goya, Rene Descartes, Catherine De Medici, Tony Dow, Leonardo Da Vinci, Ellen Degeneres, Robert de Niro, Bo Derek, Isadora Duncan, Laura Dern, Phil Donahue, Christen Dunst,
Wally Eckert, Buddy Ebsen, Carmen Electra, Queen Elizabeth II
Gene Fortunato, Robert Frost, David Frost, Aretha Franklin, Sir John Franklin, Norman Fell, Betty Ford, W.C. Fields, Mia Farrow, Geraldine Ferraro, Errol Flynn, Sigmund Freud.
Alec Guinness, Danny Griffith, Vincent van Gogh, Germany, Susanna Goldman, Jennie Rebecca Goldman, Gus Grissom, James Garner, Sarah Michelle Geller, Jennifer Grey, Leeza Gibbons, King George 1st of England, Maxim Gorky, Marvin Gaye, Jane Goodall, Frank Gorshin, Shecky Greene, Joel Grey, Andy Garcia, Vince Gill, Al Green, John Gielgud, BobCat Goldthwait, Billy Graham, Dick Gregory, Che Guevera, Jennifer Garner, Ulysses S Grant, Bill Gates, Martha Graham
Merle Haggard, Harry Houdini, Mary Ann Henson, William Holden, Billie Holiday, William Hurt, Holly Hunter, A.E. Housman, Hammer. Arthur Hailey, Hugh Hefner, Kate Hudson, Ken Howard, Franz Joseph Haydn, William Harvey, Emmylou Harris, Marilu Henner, Walter Huston, Sonja Henie, Lionel Hampton, Herbie Hancock, Olivia Hussey, Melissa Joan Hart, Adolph Hitler, Clint Howard, Margaux Hemingway, Barbara Hershey, Lena Horne, Ron Howard, Dorothy Hamill, Whitney Huston, Tommy Hilfiger, Gordie Howe, David Hume, William Randolph Hearst,
Eric Idle, Washington Irving, Janice Ian, Henrik Ibsen,
Henry James, William Lester Jacobs, Linda Janklow, George Jessel, Thomas Jefferson, Elton John, Shirley Jones, David Janssen, Ashley Judd, Erica Jong, Grace Jones, Jesse Jackson, Michael Jordan
Cheryl Keast, James Keener, Nikita Khrushchev, William E. Kemery III, Ethel Kennedy, Gabe Kaplan, Chaka Khan, Will Keith Kellog, Gary Kasparaov, Howard Keel, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Madeline Khan, Helmut Khol, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Karen Kain, Soren Kierkegaard
Henry Luce, Clare Boothe Luce, James Lovell, David Letterman, Loretta Lynn, John Lennon, Vicki Lawrence, Lucy Lawless, Frankie Laine, Christine Lahti, Heath Ledger, Julian Lennon, Vladmir Ilich Lenin, Louise Lasser, Jessica Lange, Harold Loyd, Spike Lee, Jennifer Lopez, Heather Locklear, Bela Lugosi, Liberace, William Lilly, Joe Lewis
Edmund Muskie, Marsha Mason, Steve McQueen, Ali McGraw, Jim Minow, Myke Minow, Wayne Mackin, Gail Mannina, Terry-Anne Moore , Marcel Marceau, Elizabeth Montgomery, Henry Mansini, Dudley Moore, Ewan McGregor, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Money, Karl Malden, Leonard (Chico) Marx, Matthew Modine, Reba McIntyre, Elle MacPherson, John Major, Oscar Mayer, Peter Marshall, Henry Morgan, Nancy McKeon, Arthur Murray, Mandy Moore, Ann Miller, Hayley Mills, Jayne Mansfield, Gordon MacRea, Joe McCarthy, Bette Midler, Henry Miller, Dean Martin, Demi Moore, Mary Tyler-Moore, Karl Marx,
Alfred E. Neuman, Wayne Newton, Leonard Nimoy, Craig T Nelson, Eliot Ness, Napoleon III, Martina Navratilova, Stevie Nicks, Jack Nicholson,
Fr. Anselm Ober O.S.B., Scarlett O'Hara, Tony Orlando, Rosie O’Donnell, Conan O’Brien, Gary Oldman, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ryan O’Neal, Jackie Kennedy Onassis,
Andre Previn, Gen. George S. Patton, Anthony Perkins, Norman Porter, Gregory Peck , Princess Eugenie, Rea Perlman, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Hyde Pierce, Robin Wright Penn, Teddy Pendergrass, Colin Powell, Michelle Phillips, Mary Pickford, Pauline Porizkova, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Commodore Matthew Perry, Joseph Pulitzer, Paloma Picasso, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vincent Price, Richard Pryor, Eva Peron, Valerie Perrine, Luciano Pavrotti, General Patton, Camile Paglia,
Dennis Quaid, Karen Ann Quinlan,
Wilhelm Reich, Dane Rudhyar, Harry Reasoner, Debbie Reynolds, Paul Robeson, Carol Roberts, Diana Ross, Giovanni Ribisi, Paul Reiser, Sergei Rachmaninov, John Ratzenberger, Wayne Rogers, Pete Rose, Anne Rice, Hirundo Rivera, Robert Redford, Chris Rock, Joan Rivers
Gloria Swanson, William Shakespeare, Gari Lou Cook Schwab, Robert Slatzer, Rod Steiger, Leoplod Stokowski, Daniel Schorr Allison Saul, Omar Sharif, Bessie Smith, Simone Signoret, Gloria Steinham , Omar Sharif, Steven Seagal, William Shatner, Elvis Stojko, Simone Signoret, Martin Short, Julia Stiles, John Cameron Swayze, Ravi Shankar, Avery Schreiber, Rick Schroder, Serpico, Christian Slater, Dick Seargant, Stephen Sondheim, Ringo Starr, Barbra Striesand, Joss Stone, Kevin Spacey, Jerry Springer, David Suzuki,
Spencer Tracy, Lowell Thomas, Evelyn Tucker, Arturo Toscanini, Emma Thompson, Steven Tyler, Quentin Tarantino, Meshach Taylor, Tiny Tim, Uma Thurman, Mike Tyson, Harry Truman,
Peter Ustinov
Bobby Vinton, Wilbur Wright, F.W. Woolworth, World War I, Thelma Williams, Debbie Williams, Kim Weis, Walter Winchell, Tennessee Williams, Christian Williams, Vincent Van Gough, Vince Vaughn, Sarah Vaughan, Otto von Bismarck, Max von Sydow, Jon Voight, Rudlolph Valentino
William Wordsworth, Christopher Walken, James Woods, Reese Witherspoon, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tennesse Williams, Bob Woodward, Jack Webb, Muddy Waters, Booker T Washington, Billy Dee Williams, Walter Winchell, William Wordsworth, Lyle Waggoner, Frank W. Woolworth, Thornton Wilder, Irving Wallace, Mike Wallace, Walt Whitman, Richard Widmark, Andy Warhol, Wilbur Wright, Robbie Williams, John Wayne
Julie Yarbrough, Michael York, Cy Young
Fred Zopfi, Florence Zigfield,


September 14th, 2006

As a Realtor, it’s important to keep up with decorating and style trends. I’ve often got my nose stuck in a magazine or newspaper and I do read polls and google constantly. It seems that currently “Old World” styles are the rage. Be it French, English, Tuscan or Spanish, homes with stone or stucco walls, tile roofs, iron fixtures, heavy beams and rustic floors are in demand. A sense of historic connection resonates with buyers today. I must admit, I am a fan.

The Craftsman style, built in the early 1900's, is back, too. Features of this style include cobblestones, deep eaves, tapered columns and wide trim. This style favours the handmade look over mass production.
Farmhouses and country homes are perfect reno candidates and even new home construction now mirrors their style. Updates include a lot of the more natural materials like bamboo floors, wood windows, simple floor plans, and warm colors connect with nature and earlier times.

The retro look is in. Ranch styles and split levels built in the 1950's are being updated with sleek details and fit with fashionable furniture styles. Urban modern is everywhere, making use of open plans, splashy colour, tile, glass, plastic and metal.

Current Buyers prefer a ceiling height of 9’-11'. Two-story ceilings are out in small rooms where they feel like turrets. Lots of floor level changes are not desirable anymore, with the predominant Buyers being retirement age or thinking ahead to retirement. Even in small families, most buyers today want four bedrooms, and at least two living areas. Formal dining rooms are still in high demand.

Formal living rooms are often converted to studies, libraries, or guest rooms and media rooms are a sought after feature. Buyers enjoy a visual and spatial connection between kitchen and family room. The television is still a major component of family life and Buyers will look for built-in cabinet space to hide large televisions and wall space appropriate for the newer flat screens.

Three car garages are in, especially in homes without basements. A utility basement is old news, but a walkout basement set up for entertaining is still a selling point. Buyers today want structured wiring. It’s important to have for internet, phone, cable and sound. Desk space for computers is must have.

Lots of storage is needed for today's lifestyle. People have lots of stuff. Huge master closets, pantries, laundry rooms, and extra storage closets are expected. On the other hand, there are more and more “minimalists” who enjoy very spare living, as simplified spaces seem to be antidote to today's complex lifestyle.

They say that kitchens and bathrooms will make or break a deal and most buyers are savvy about kitchen design. Buyers appreciate good workspaces with easy access to stovetop, refrigerators and sink. Lots of counter space, deep drawers, two sinks, a nearby extra refrigerator and a butler's pantry are all desirable features.

These days, the kitchen is absolutely the place to use more colour. It is a place where people gather and naturally an area that is more apt to have mixing and matching. Stainless appliances are going strong. In urban modern styles, white or colored appliances are back. With the use of white appliances, there is an inherent need for something colourful whether it is in the bowls or the toaster. House wares have now embraced colour trends.

New home designers love to conceal some appliances as cabinetry. Eat-in kitchens continue to be a basic requirement for most buyers. Instant hot water is a perk that buyers like, as are drinking water filters.

Jewel tones are predominantly popular for kitchen accessorizing. Add some zip to counter tops with coloured accessories or small appliances. Complement them with new tea towels and potholders. The same (or similar) wall color through adjoining spaces creates a more spacious feeling

Although blue continues to be the favourite, yellow is coming on strong, especially in the kitchen because of its bright association with the sun and grandma’s old kitchen. Other predictions for 2009 are a relaxed palette of colour with fabrics in rich, earthy tones and textures. Colours will be bolder and reflect multi-cultural hues.

Colours are in, but soft is the word. Soft greens, yellows, earth tones and creams create a serene background that fits many styles. Complex colors, with more colors in the mix, are sought after. Deeply saturated colors, such as plums and reds, are used in moderation.

A new look is a feature wall painted in a completely different colour from the rest of the room. This is a good way to create some vibrancy and a focal point in the room. You can use a feature wall to define a particular space, particularly in an open concept area. It is easy to change the colour of a feature wall, if the mood strikes.

To choose a feature wall, stand in the middle of the room and select a dominant wall may have a fireplace, interesting angles or may be a very plain expanse of space that is crying out for some attention. Try not to select a space with window or door openings, as these will detract attention away from the impact of a single colour.

Flat paint on walls hides flaws and creates a designer look. Use a fluffy roller if you are using a flat paint. Shiny is out. Soft whites are safe for trim. Faux finishes are out. Wallpaper is problematic and harder to change than paint and too often it does not fit the buyer's taste. Heavily textured walls and popcorn ceilings are totally out.

Orange is the new red. Warm, yellow-based reds will be popular and we will begin to see the brighter and bluer Asian reds become popular, as well. Yellow greens will continue to bring sophisticated, botanical coolness to rooms while deep olive and celery greens will gain popularity.

Blue tones include sea-blue, watery, spa-like colours and rich botanical and intense shades as splashes. Teal and turquoise blues are featured in retro-style decorating.

Purple is being featured in a new brighter, purer hue. This is supposed to be the hot colour for 2007. Browns continue to get earthier, muddier and are now considered as much as neutral as black. Brown can be paired with any colour from dazzling blue to tone-on-tones with mocha and almond.

Antique tables or cabinets are being refurbished and used as bath cabinets. Kitchen cabinets that look like furniture are a great look. Granite, marble or stone counters are popular. However, granite tops added to 1980's cabinets do not go over well. You must consider the architectural style of a room before adding features.

Rustic finishes on hardware, such as brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, weathered brass, and other non-shiny finishes are also popular choices. Rustic wood beams or wood covered ceilings can create that same, primitive look that buyers like.

Concrete countertops are perfect for ultra modern, but it is a new look and Buyers are still unfamiliar with them and a little nervous. Large rustic tiles, stone, concrete or wood is in for flooring, while subway tile (3" x 6") is popular in bathrooms and on kitchen backsplashes.
Patterned cultured marble and laminate are out. Pure white is considered too clinical and shiny, slippery flooring has lost its appeal.

Distressed wood floors that look old are valued. Simple wood boards are sometimes laid down with cracks exposed. Re-claimed wood is very desirable. Bamboo floors are popular; especially in modern style homes where light colored floors are desired.

Concrete floors - often stained and scored are popular. These go well with the modern look, and are used in Craftsman and rustic European styles too. Colourful laminate floors are a good fit with mid-century modern. Laminate floors that look like wood are out. Parquet floors are out, unless hand crafted.

Wide, baseboards (6"+) and door and window trim (4"+) are key features in “Old” style while Craftsman style doors - simple square frames with flat panels - work well with both old and modern looks. Industrial metal fixtures are in. The un-decorated, industrial look of metal or stainless steel is in.

Bath fixtures finished in rustic bronze, nickel, or chrome are all wow. Old style two-handled faucets and farmhouse sinks are in style. Bath sinks may be glass bowls, granite, and stone, stainless or traditional china. Cultured marble is out. Freestanding tubs are in. Pedestal and wall hung lavatories are in, too.

Framed or hung mirrors are preferred, although plate glass works in ultra modern styles. Mirrors used on walls or ceilings are a turn off and they don’t fool anyone into thinking there is more light.
People today are more discriminating about the quality of light. Windows on two sides of the room balance the lighting and reduce glare. Some people insist on full-spectrum lighting, considered a healthy choice. No matter the style, one light in the middle of the room will not do.

Light fixtures are a decorative element in all styles. Clean, modern fixtures, such as pendant lights, recessed cans, and wire string lights compliment the urban look. Retro fixtures are interesting decorative features in 1930's craftsman and 1950's ranch styles.

Under cabinet task lighting is appreciated. Security lighting is important. Wall sconces offer soft ambient lighting. Recessed cans provide area light. Dimmers help to create different moods but above all Buyers want more windows, natural light, and a greater connection with the outdoors. Light is in demand. Don't close blinds. Do remove solar screens when they are not needed, such as under patio roofs, porches or shade trees.

Wrought iron gates, stair rails and light fixtures compliment the rustic style while ultra modern homes may have components made of wire, pipe or painted metal.

Heavy drapes are out. They are too pretentious, and, well, heavy. Light cotton, linen or silk drapes are in. Or, wood blinds. Or nothing. And- no one wants foil on windows or stick-on window film. Woven wood blinds have made a comeback. Mini blinds are very yesterday.

Historic paint colors such as sage greens, beiges, muted yellows, and grays work well on the exterior. Bold or harsh colors can be a turn-off to most buyers. Iron or heavy wood entry doors make strong statements that buyers love. Good access to the outdoors is something buyers look for. French doors are “it”; they provide a perfect combination of access and light.

Front porches and covered patios are always a strong selling point. Outdoor fireplaces and barbeques are coming back into style. Screened porches are back. They create a multi purpose space that is both indoors and outdoors, and keep mosquitoes away. Sliding glass doors have lost favour.

Energy efficiency is definitely in. Buyers want high efficiency furnaces, appliances, central air-conditioning, good insulation, low-e glass, programmable thermostats, double pane windows, and ceiling fans. Heat pumps and effective passive solar orientation are considered more environmentally friendly and now.

Moving? Where do you start?

September 14th, 2006


Start with the rooms you use the least. In most family homes there are rooms that are not used on a daily basis, guest bedrooms, basements, or living rooms. Start the sorting process in these rooms and avoid cluttering the areas of the home used regularly.

Start with large items. In order to feel you are making progress, in each room start with the largest items and move towards the smallest. For example, identify what you will do with the furniture before you start on the knick-knacks. That way you can label the box for its home at the other end. Remember, you pack the small things on top of the big things. The big things go in the bottom of the box!

Have a sorting system. Sort items by making piles, or making detailed lists of what will be kept, what will be given away and to where, and what is still undecided.

Write down family history. Take the time to write down special memories or any family history that is connected to special items. This information will be cherished for generations to come and will contribute to the value of family heirlooms (don't we all watch the Antique Roadshow? They call it provenance.)

Work in scheduled blocks of time. Plan to sort items for periods of no more than two hours at a time. The process of revisiting memories and making decisions about items you have lived with for many years can be emotionally difficult. You will feel less overwhelmed and make better decisions if you take regular breaks and allow yourself time to digest what is happening.

Start early and don’t rush yourself: Be sure to plan plenty of time for the sifting and sorting process. Take moments to laugh at old pictures, read old letters, and grieve for losses. If you can’t decide what to do with an item, set it aside and return to it later. Work at a pace that is comfortable for you and your situation.

Keep the items that you treasure the most. Make a list of items you refuse to part with and keep that list in sight as you sort through other possessions. If you don't love it, why does it live with you?

Get rid of things you no longer need.

Consider having a garage sale or home auction. If you have enough items that are likely to net a profit (furniture, antiques, electronics) it may make the effort of having a garage sale worthwhile.

Have the kids remove their “stuff”. Especially the adult children- tell them it is time to collect their childhood belongings and store their own mementos. Give them a deadline that works with your schedule and warn them that anything leftover will be donated to charity.

Leaving a family home can be a bittersweet event that involves revisiting many painful and joyful memories.

During the process of downsizing we may be surprised at how attached we have become to our possessions and how difficult it might seem to part with them.

Visit your local newspaper, purchase a roll of newsprint, it's inexpensive and perfect for wrapping stuff- PLUS you won't need to wash it all at the new place!

The Stress of Moving

September 14th, 2006

I have take one or two courses in psychology and I know that human beings can't avoid being anxious or fearful or worried at various times in their lives. Moving is ranked among life's most stressful events. Research shows that moving house is one of the greatest stresses we face in our lives. In its capacity to cause psychological distress it is right up there, with losing a close relative and illness, loss of employment and divorce, in terms of severity. Of course planned and managed well, stress is not necessarily a requirement.

The stresses of buying and selling a home often make many people feel overwhelmed. Taking care of yourself in the process, making sure you understand what's going on, and increasing your sense of control can reduce your stress and helps keep the relocation process sane. To understand relocation stress let's examine the two kinds of needs that people have when moving: Your transactional needs, like finding the home that is just right for you, finding a seller who is realistic, negotiating the price, completing the paperwork, handling the escrow, and arranging for the physical move. Your emotional needs which carry with them the largest amount of stress.

While moving certainly holds the potential for stress, overwhelm, and, conflict, this potential has become so firmly embedded in our collective belief system that it feels like an unavoidable truth. A thought, repeated enough times by enough people for long enough, becomes a collective thought pattern. Eventually, these patterns become so ingrained in our way of life that they become a part of our collective belief system.

Our physical reality is filled with collective beliefs - "Moving is stressful." "You have to work hard to get ahead." These collective beliefs hold great power and most of the time we allow these beliefs to determine the tone of our creative energy. Because of that, we usually create by default. We continue to get what we have always gotten because that is what we believe we are going to get. Human beings can't avoid being anxious or fearful or worried at various times in their lives.

Known by a number of names - Tropophobia, Fear of Moving, and Fear Making Changes being the most common - the problem often significantly impacts the quality of life. It can cause panic attacks and keep people apart from loved ones and business associates. Symptoms typically include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and overall feelings of dread, although everyone experiences moving phobia in their own way and may have different symptoms.

Although not everyone admits to having a phobia of some sort, many people, and conscious or not, tend to share the most common fear of all: the fear of change. Change acts as a threat toward those who are comfortable and set in a current way of living. People who do not accept change are often looked upon as narrow minded. However, those who cannot cope with a change in life can sometimes become mentally ill, diminishing life’s better qualities.

Though a variety of potent drugs are often prescribed for moving phobia, side effects and/or withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Moreover, drugs do not "cure" moving phobia or any other phobia. At best they temporarily suppress the symptoms through chemical interaction.

The Law of Attraction tells us that the thoughts, emotions and energy that we send out into the world are what create our experience. In theory, we have the ability to control our thoughts, emotions and energy Simple right? Simple perhaps, but not always easy. This law encourages us to stop believing that what we have always gotten is what we will always get. Instead, we are encouraged to start creating a new experience. Write a new script. Design a new set.
You must take creative control, otherwise, you will suffer with the feeling of uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time. This is known as cognitive dissonance.

Dissonance increases with:
The importance of the subject to us. How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.

Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.

Dissonance is often strong when we believe something about ourselves and then do something against that belief. If I believe I am good but do something bad, then the discomfort I feel as a result is cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful motivator that will often lead us to change one or other of the conflicting belief or action. The discomfort often feels like a tension between the two opposing thoughts. To release the tension we can take one of three actions: Change our behavior or Justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition or Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions.

Dissonance is most powerful when it is about our self-image. Feelings of foolishness, immorality and so on (including internal projections during decision-making) are dissonance in action. If an action has been completed and cannot be undone, then the after-the-fact dissonance compels us to change our beliefs. If beliefs are moved, then the dissonance appears during decision-making, forcing us to take actions we would not have taken before.

Cognitive dissonance appears in virtually all evaluations and decisions and is the central mechanism by which we experience new differences in the world. When we see other people behave differently to our images of them, when we hold any conflicting thoughts, we experience dissonance.

Dissonance increases with the importance and impact of the decision, along with the difficulty of reversing it. Discomfort about making the wrong choice of car is bigger than when choosing a lamp. Almost all major purchases result in cognitive dissonance, also known as buyer's remorse.

Frequently, the anxiety has its roots in the individual's failure to accept or acknowledge the simple fact that most purchases are either reversible or that any item of significant value may be resold, albeit with some degree of discount.

Buyer's remorse may also stem from the fact that before the act of purchasing both possibilities are open, and that after having done so, one option (not purchasing) has been closed off (unless one tries to obtain a refund). Psychologically, in the phase before purchasing, the prospective buyer feels the positive emotions associated with the purchase (desire, a sense of heightened possibilities, and an intimation of the enjoyment that will accompany using the product, for example): afterwards, having made the purchase, he or she is able more fully to experience the negative aspects.

In other words, before purchasing, one experiences oneself as acting in a virile way, creating a situation; while afterwards the time of acting has passed: one is deflated and experiences oneself as having been acted on by the former virile self; one feels bound by one's remaining limited choices.

This is a unique idiosyncrasy of human nature, but it is even worse when we are reaching some major milestone, something we may have dreamt of for years. Our first new car, our first home, our last car, our last home. In spite of the fact that you can only do your best; make your selection and then make the best of it; often the immedicate result may be a state of stress, remorse and unhappiness. It may be further characterized by feelings of regret, self-hatred and a strong desire to make things right.

There is value in learning from the experience, but little in using the clarity of hindsight to berate yourself over possibly not making the exactly optimal choice.

“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”( Robert Louis Stevenson). Let’s not waste our time wondering whether or not it’s fair. Let’s accept the fact that change is here, and it’s our task to deal with it.


September 14th, 2006

Caveat Venditor! We don’t often hear that one, but it is Latin for “Seller Beware”! Yes, even Sellers can be taken advantage of, in the Real Estate Market.

Constantly revising and reviewing adherence to regulations, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is responsible for regulating the trading of Real Estate and sustaining public trust in the marketplace. RECO works with the government, consumers and registered Real Estate practitioners to create a solid foundation for the industry.

One of the key words, today, is DISCLOSURE. The regulations regarding disclosure are stringent! Among other things, Real Estate professionals are required (by law) to disclose their role to all parties of the transaction. This must take place at the earliest opportunity and be done in writing. Real Estate professionals also have to disclose how they will benefit from the transaction- essentially: who is paying them and why.

Sellers must disclose any known defects of the property, even though it is the Buyer or the Buyer’s Agent’s responsibility to be diligent in discovering defects in the property. Deliberate avoidance of providing pertinent information may be considered fraud and could result in prosecution.

Being a Seller is difficult. Usually there is some personal reason that prompts the sale of a home. Perhaps there has been a transfer through employment, children have grown up and moved on, the family is growing, a lottery was won, a job has been lost… there are too many reasons to list… trust me, there is usually some kind of emotional, personal link.

I ask Sellers to try to disconnect their emotional attachment and try to think of it as selling a marketable item of great value… to think of it as more of a house, than their home. In this way, they can step back and evaluate it from a more objective perspective.
The Ontario Real Estate Association provides Realtors with a “Seller Property Information Statement”, a form that assists Sellers to be sure that Buyers are given accurate information about their property. While this provides a super outline, it is not a warranty and it is still up to the Buyers to make their own inquiries.

Real Estate “listing forms” contain a lot of information about disclosures. A good Realtor will go over every clause in the listing agreement and the Seller signs it, below the pre-printed phrase “THIS AGREEMENT HAS BEEN READ AND FULLY UNDERSTOOD BY ME….”

There are forms titled “Confirmation of Co-Operation and Representation” that put in writing, the nature of the roles of the parties in a transaction and provides an opportunity for any further disclosures. Here, a Realtor may disclose their own interest or relationship to the parties or any knowledge that they may have and wish to disclose.

Three key words have often been attributed to real estate: “location, location, location” and now we can add “disclose, disclose, disclose”.