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It’s All Part of the Rich Tapestry of Life

By Jim Gillespie | February 11, 2008

My commercial real estate brokerage career was cruising along in 1994. We were in the middle of a recession here in Southern California, but I’d been through one of these ten years earlier in my brokerage career also. It wasn’t fun, but I knew that if I just continued to do everything I could to grow my business, I’d soon see the recession in my rearview mirror.

But I really had no idea how much my life was going to change, and how most everyone I had counted on would no longer be around.

It all started when my wife and I began to get divorced, and then it pretty much went downhill from there. Within two months after beginning our divorce my father had a heart attack, followed by a stroke two months later, and then he spent six weeks deteriorating in the hospital until he finally passed away.

Many people might think that struggling through a recession in commercial real estate, going through divorce, and having my father die simultaneously would be quite a lot to experience all at one time. And when you add to this the fact that my father was one of my absolute best friends in life, it made it all that much more difficult for me to deal with.

But that wasn’t everything that I was going to experience. After my father died I was now responsible for my mother, who I came to recognize was progressing with Alzheimer’s Disease, and my sister, who had been schizophrenic for many years. So within a very short period of time my life had been turned completely upside down, and my entire foundation of the important people I had leaned upon throughout my life was crumbling all around me.

So for years I watched my mother and my sister deteriorate with their degenerative illnesses, and then my mother passed away. And when that happened I began to see what I was convinced was the light at the end of the tunnel. I needed to get my sister into a board and care facility as she had lived with my parents almost her entire life, and living with them wasn’t going to be an option for her anymore. I thought it would take maybe six months for her to adjust to her new surroundings, and that eventually she’d begin adding some new friends into her life. And I thought that once she made the adjustment, my life would begin to get better.

And that may have been the biggest miscalculation of my life.

Before my mother passed away my sister had been hospitalized only once in her life that I could ever remember, but that was soon going to change. She soon began to be hospitalized for different health problems, and at one time just a few months after my mother had passed away, she was totally unconscious and completely motionless for nine days. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with her, and all the tests they did on her showed no signs of her having any problems. But still she laid there in the hospital completely unconscious and motionless for nine days.

And when she finally woke up, all she could speak was gibberish, making no sense in her words and sentences at all. But fortunately after several days of doing only that, her speech began to return to normal.

So the light that I thought I saw at the end of the tunnel turned out to be anything but that, as my sister was then hospitalized 44 times over the next eight years. And in the process her schizophrenia became worse, as is what typically happens with degenerative illnesses. Right now she’s convinced that I’m not her brother, that I’m an imposter, and she orders me to leave immediately whenever I go to visit her. This is in complete contrast to who she was as a person soon after my mother passed away, when she told me how fortunate she felt she was to have me in her life.

So this particular journey for me has been a long one. While it’s been filled with much pain and loss, over time things have definitely gotten better for me. For seven years now I’ve been married to an incredible woman, and we have a beautiful 4 1/2 year-old daughter named Jamie. (Click here to see a photo of all of us.) And Jamie is truly one of the greatest joys I’ve ever known.

So no matter what difficulties we all go through in our lives from time-to-time, know that they’re going to pass. I learned to put one foot in front of the other one every day years ago when this all started happening, even during those days when that seemed to be about the only thing that I could do. As much as we want to create only good times, happiness, and abundance in our lives, we all have our own pain and difficulty to handle along the way.

When I think about all that I’ve experienced, and the difficulties that I see others experience in their own lives, maybe it can all be best summed up by something my father used to say to me when he’d see me experiencing difficulty when I was a kid growing up. He used to just turn and look at me, smile and say, “It’s all part of the rich tapestry of life.”


How to Completely Transform Your Commercial Real Estate Presentation Skills

This Wednesday I’ll be interviewing Jerry Anderson in a live teleseminar on the subject of “Becoming a Master at Making Powerful Real Estate Presentations.” Throughout his career Jerry’s worked with some of the most successful commercial brokerage companies in our industry, helping their agents perfect their presentation skills. And improving your presentation skills has you close a greater number of transactions with your clients and prospects, making you more money.

To learn how you can join us for this live teleconference and receive the information, even if you can’t join us on the live call, click here.

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