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A single property purchased in 1972 became the foundation of a 650-unit real estate empire by 1990. I cut my teeth on financing, management and maintenance with that first building. Unable to find consistently good cleaning people at vacancy times, I began a company that grew into a commercial and residential janitorial service with 24 full time employees.  We needed reliable maintenance people, handymen and building remodelers, so I became a general contractor and ended up with 52 full time sub contractors repairing the derelict properties we’d acquired.  At any given moment, there were forty different rehab projects going on.  These changed monthly as I added two homes to our inventory every week.



I was an expert in financing, using creative methods to obtain and manage $2.5 million in short term lines of credit and several mortgage lenders for long term financing.  In the interim, I’d created housing for abused women escaping dreadful situations; furnished 250 rooms for lost souls going through treatment and recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.  I specialized in the inner city and made cleaning up drug houses my specialty. 



I was preparing to create huge new business opportunities, jobs and beautification of the run down areas. Then it all changed. One fed up, gun toting Special Forces military man began a shoot out with the druggies in the neighborhood and 45 of my tenants fled in one week.  This cost me about $30,000 a month and two million dollars in values.



If that wasn’t bad enough, a lone investor in California had figured out how to rip off FNMA, the largest government funder of loans, and my major source of refinance. Subsequently, FNMA refused to make any loans to investors if they owned more than five rentals.  At last count I owned 350 homes and 300 apartments. I couldn’t find a loan. For 18 months I used every creative method to stave off ruin, trying to locate funding. 



After 265 lender rejections, I found it.  A lender committed to loan me 5 million dollars.  It was all going to be fine. The entire struggle had been worth it and I could retire. As my first package of loans was waiting for funding the lender was forced into bankruptcy by the FDIC, the government-banking insurer.  Thirty days later, my first ever loan payment was late.  The bloodletting began.



In the ensuing destruction, I looked to suicide as a viable option.  I could no longer keep my word… it seemed to me I had no identity, no self worth.  I no longer knew who I was. I’d been a problem solver, but I couldn’t solve anything anymore. I was honorable and trustworthy, but I couldn’t meet my obligations. What could I do? Somehow, for diversion, I began reading a book about Edgar Cayce called “There is a River” by Thomas Sugrue. The philosophy section at the end of that book changed my life.  I connected deeply with its revolutionary thinking saying to myself “If there’s one book like this, there’s more.  I felt encouraged, excited.  In the middle of a 450 book reading frenzy, I found a marvelous teacher to discuss my newfound philosophy and began studying.  I stopped asking why it had happened ‘to’ me. I began asking why and how I had created the nightmare.



This was an important shift, a leap in conscious awareness. I learned I create my reality and more importantly, how. Now, I know this idea is not appealing to many… especially when you have had horrors and nightmares to deal with.  Yet, once accepted, it is vastly empowering.  When one learns how we have created our experiences and how to create the ones we want, life feels very different.  In the course of studying with this great teacher, I developed many natural intuitive abilities that I’d been using throughout my real estate experience. Today I use them to counsel others. 



I took notes from my first day of studying with these gifted teachers. Through the years following, I collected stories of relevant experiences, others and mine. Together with the extraordinary teachings and their application, these became the basis for my book “Choosing Joy in the Midst of Crisis”, taking seven years to write.



As you’ll note in my story, it became all about rescuing people, property and neighborhood.  All my learning now shows me when we deal in rescuing, we create victims and one’s foundation becomes Fear, not Love.  This is the dichotomy.  It appears to be action proceeding from loving one’s ‘brothers’.  However it was many layers of fear that spurred me on.  Fear of lack of money.  You see, each house purchase produced a $10,000 profit on closing.  (Yes, I know those real estate secrets and taught many others.) Those funds kept us afloat when the gunfight happened.  I was fearful of not providing work for my now dependent sub contractors.  I was fearful of feeling like a fool if it all failed.  I was fearful in many ways.  In the beginning it was all fun, loving and fearless. Always it had been a game for me. It became too much, too many hours, no vacations for nine years, working 18-hour days and I wanted out.  So I created ‘out’. 



I learned what is important in life and am grateful for the wake up call.  Having been there, it is easier to counsel others through their personal crises.  Money, power, fear, health, relationships and most of all, self love, all come under scrutiny when we hit a wall in life.   I learned that life doesn’t happen to us, that we create it and I am stronger in a different way.  I am happier in a new way.  I am more at peace and I love my life.  I am again beginning to invest in real estate, not out of fear, but out of joy.  There were so many amazing stories throughout the bloodletting of my bankruptcy that proved to me how holding a loving attitude, instead of a fear based one, made miracles happen. Life and how I approach it are very different.  It may not always seem perfect, but it’s my approach to each event that makes it so.

Our only real choice in life is how we react to circumstances.


Joy is always one of those choices! 

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