What is my favorite part about being a REALTOR®? It’s the relationships, by far. As I think back about myself I have always been driven by relationships. If I think about the different places my family moved or vacations we went on my first memories are always the relationships that were created in those experiences. If you were to ask my mother to give an insight on me she would tell you that I do not like being alone. All of my life I have been drawn to human interaction and being surrounded by good people.
My relationships are the most important asset I have. First and foremost, I am a wife and mother. My best friend is my husband Kevin and my biggest love is my stepson Gabriel. Kevin and Gabriel have had my back through my career changes and uncertainty. Without their endless support, I would have never made it to the point I have in my career.
I have had the opportunity to help friends, family and complete strangers with their homeownership goals. In the end, this is what brings me the most reward. The relationships I get to develop with new clients seem to be some of the most rewarding. I really love the fact that I can meet a total stranger at an open house I am hosting (or receive a recommendation from a friend or past client) and we are able to hit it off so quickly. I love helping people achieve a goal of homeownership or even just getting to the home-owning situation they need to be at in the time they are at in their life. This is what makes me feel accomplished.
Not only has this career gifted me friendships with clients, but it has also brought me some of my most rewarding professional relationships. I now call a handful of local real estate professionals some of my greatest friends. What I love about this profession is the camaraderie that comes within my team and brokerage and even in a single transaction. Very few transactions in my career have seemed like a battle. What is great about the Colorado Springs area market is how willing I find the professionals in a transaction to band together to get all parties involved what they need and want all while making the experience enjoyable. Of course there are always situations where things get combative, but those occurrences happen a small fraction of the time.
I grew up in what I consider the second half of my childhood in Monument, Colorado. I am the oldest of four daughters and our family grew very close as we moved around the country through my young ages. My dad is a chef and to “make it” in that profession, you had to relocate often and be willing to take on new challenges in the culinary world. These moves brought along many destinations to include Missouri (both Columbia and St. Louis), Tennessee (Memphis), Florida (where my father worked at Walt Disney World), and Iowa (Cedar Rapids). Our moves finally ended in Monument, Colorado.
While moving throughout my adolescence I think this is where I developed my value of family and sense of adventure. My mother is, and always has been, the rock that held our family together, especially through all of our young moves. She never seemed to mind moving away from her large family in Missouri. Now that I look back at it, I realize she has always been up for an adventure.
Some of my best young memories are taking our Sunday drives. My parents would call this “going crazy.” We would hop in the car with no plan on where we were going. One of my sisters or myself would eventually ask my parents where we were going, their response was always “going crazy.” To this day this is still one of my favorite things to do with my own family.
As a kid, I never really knew what I was going to be when I “grew up.” In my younger years, I waffled between endless ideas of being a lawyer, a nun, a flight attendant, a chef… the list was much longer and just as diverse as these examples. I always knew I would be in a position where I worked with people but I wasn’t like many people who seemed to just know where they would end up.
As a teen (and through college), I worked as a waitress at the Woodmoor Country Club in Monument, CO. That job taught me some of the best lessons of my life and later also supplied me with my most cherished relationship (with my husband). Working in a restaurant is one of the best places to learn hard work and also learn a lot about people. I have vivid memories of working weddings and private events where people show their true colors. Those situations range from seeing grouchy members throwing a cooler full of oysters at the bartender (my now husband) to kind-hearted families that made sure I had a generous extra tip each time they sat at one of my tables because they knew I was paying my way through college. Along with teaching me hard work and how to properly tip, that job equipped me with great local friendships that I still hold to this day.
It wasn’t until late in high school that I realized I had pinpointed a career. I would be a teacher! I loved my high school art classes and knew that I would love the relationships I would build with my students. I admired my high school art teach- er and thought it would be so cool to be just like her (little did I know then that she would go on to become one of my best friends).
So, I graduated high school and I went through college at the University of Northern Colorado where I received my bachelor’s degree in visual art education. Like most, I absolutely loved college! I loved living with different roommates each year, I loved making art, I loved working as a waitress (where I met my husband Kevin), and I loved the freedom that college brought. But more than anything I loved that I was working towards a career that would allow me to develop lasting relationships all while getting to create art. I loved problem-solving to come to a solution to make a piece work but I also thrived on the discussion that art created.
Through college, I worked at a bronze foundry where I helped art- ists from around the region (and some internationally) bring their works of art to life in bronze form. I promise not to go into the full process of bronze casting as that would take as long as this article and no one wants to read that! But, what I will tell you is that this position was very isolated and I spent many long hours working alone. This was my first professional job and it taught me that I was not meant to work in a confined space. I loved that job and I was fortunate to get a shot at a position that many post-grad stu- dents do not receive, but it showed me that I am best working with people and that I cannot function without the company of others.
After college, I moved back to the Colorado Springs area and started my full-time career as a high school art teacher at Doherty High School in Colorado Springs. I had teaching offers in a few places around Colorado but I was eager to get back to the Colora- do Springs area where my then-fiance (Kevin) and his son (Gabriel) lived. I missed getting to go to Kevin’s hockey games each week as that is where some of our best friendships were housed at the time. So, when I was offered a job at Doherty High School to work with my mentor (and former art teacher Sarah Stevens) I was elated to take the part-time position they offered me.
My first year of teaching was a total whirlwind with not only adapting to a new career but also getting married and becoming a stepmother. At Doherty, I taught a variety of art subjects to include photography, drawing, sculpture, ceramics and graphic design. Teaching a wide variety of subjects was tough as teachers are already very overworked in our public school system but those who have many subjects to teach are spread even more thin. I really loved getting to work with high school age students and supplying them with a safe place to make art and be comfort- able at school but I found myself falling into a negative space that I could not shake.
My focus had changed over the years that I was a teacher. I had once been engulfed with a desire to be the best teacher and that desire changed to wanting to be the best mother and wife. My time was most enjoyed spent with my family, even if it meant endless hours at an ice rink.
For years, Kevin coached hockey locally with the Colorado Rampage. He has coached a variety of teams over the years and be- cause we spent so much time at the ice rink we developed many strong friendships with families there. Our close relationship with the hockey club eventually led us to one of the most rewarding experiences we’ve had…billeting hockey players. Most people have never heard the term “billeting” before so for those of you who are not familiar, billeting is very similar to hosting a foreign exchange student, but instead, you are hosting a hockey player that has come for the season to play for a local hockey organization. Our billeting experience started in 2014 with a 14-year-old player named Aleksey who had come from Russia and lived with our family for four hockey seasons. To this day I still speak with Aleksey a few times a week and call him my “other son.”
After seven years of working as a teacher, I decided to change things up. I was frustrated with the way I was treated and paid as a teacher. In my nearly seven years as a teacher, I had never seen a pay raise – the only raise I saw was my class sizes getting bigger and bigger (all while my budget got smaller). I was tired of going home each night and complaining about education to my husband and son. A complaining and negative mom is not a good mom and being a good stepmom and wife is what is most important to me.
I figured that when I told my husband Kevin that I was ready to make a big change to real estate he would think that I was crazy. After all, we had moved to a specific neighborhood so that I could live by the school I taught at and I taught with my best friend. I was wrong; Kevin stood by my side and supported me as he always has. I promised our son Gabriel that this change would allow me more time to spend with him…Boy, was I wrong!
I took the encouragement of a long-time friend and REALTOR® and studied for my real estate exam over a summer between my sixth and seventh year of teaching. Leaving public education was not easy. Most who get into education do it for the right reasons and I believe I did as well. Educators want to change things and fix the broken system and unfortunately, it’s not possible to fix it on your own. In the fall of 2015, I took the plunge and started on a new path. Do I still at times feel guilty for leaving my students and colleagues at Doherty? You bet I do, but I know that I am now in a career that I am better at and that I can make a different kind of difference in!
I have also been lucky that my friends in education stuck by my side after I left teaching. My first transaction in real estate was with a couple that I taught with at Doherty. Glen and Vickie, thank you for giving me a shot and believing in me!
To this day Kevin, Gabriel and I still take in hockey players from around the country. We have hosted a total of six billet players over the past seven years. What I love most about bringing these young men into our home is the chance to build a stronger hockey family with each player and their families. I love a house full of Gabriel’s friends and hockey players. I may spend an obscene amount on groceries and know the staff at Costco a little too well but I wouldn’t trade my busy home and those relationships for anything. Aleksey, Cam, Clayton, Roope, Stanford and Zach…thank you for being part of our family and for keeping my free time filled with hockey games to watch or Instagram stories to laugh at!
When I became a REALTOR®, I was extremely fortunate to be brought in to the profession by a dedicated mentor that put in the work to truly teach me the ins and outs of the business. That team leader made sure that I stuck to my follow up and did things for the right reasons and the right way. I spent three years on that team and I am so fortunate to have ended up with the kind of support and guidance it provided.
In 2018, I made a team switch to The Wheaton Team with RE/ MAX Properties, Inc. This switch has to this day been one of the best professional decisions of my career. Since 2018 I have been honored to join in on a team with John and Jean Wheaton and Kristin Dionne as licensed agents as well as the best staff in the business. Our staff is comprised of our listing coordinator (Tricia Stack), licensed transaction coordinator (Tanya Bingham) and marketing director (Lori Pitcher).
Joining The Wheaton Team has been a complete game-changer for my business and especially for my clients. The entire Wheaton Team always stands by their true values and have fully committed to always doing what is right for the profession and their clients. I would say that most real estate professionals operate with these same values but this team brings it to a new level.
What I value most about the mentoring I have received with The Wheaton Team is the reminder to get back to basics. My team is filled with professionals with great reputations and those reputations have been built because we make sure to stick to our instincts and always do what is right. Over my time in real estate, I have finally come to realize that if I do the right things and treat people the right way the business will come. I have had the opportunity to build my referral business and the hockey community I so cherish has grown to cherish their relationships with me, as well. I will forever be grateful for this advice and my friends and family that entrust me to help their own loved ones.
This career has taught me many things in the (just over four) years I have been a REALTOR®. I have so far learned that 1.) Business is not ever promised, but earned by hard work, that 2.) I should never take for granted a day off, because they don’t last long (usually not even until the end of the day) and that 3.) with the right people around you and the support of my dear friends and family, I can do whatever I set my mind to.