Motivation & Personal Growth: I'm Thankful for a Second Chance for ‘Stardom’

We asked readers to tell us whether they had something special to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Here's one inspiring story.

November 1, 1997

Editor's note: For the second year running, we asked practitioners to send us first-person stories about what they are especially thankful for as Thanksgiving approaches. Here's of the stories we received that demonstrate the warm and caring nature of real estate professionals.

I'm thankful for my family, associates, friends, and customers, who've added to the joy and meaning of my life--and who've helped me adjust to living with a debilitating disease.

I'm also thankful for my second career--my 26-year real estate career--which has become my love and passion.

My original career goal was to perform--to become a musical comedy actress, singer, and dancer.

During four years as a theater major at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill., I was in almost every play and loved it. My first professional experience was at the Wagon Wheel Playhouse in Warsaw, Ind. I played Molly in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Ellie in Showboat, Mrs. Mitty in Thurber Carnival, and Hildy in On the Town. During my senior year at Wesleyan, I was cast as Annie in Annie Get Your Gun.

All I had to do was finish my education, then on to the Wagon Wheel for one more season of summer stock, and finally on to the American Academy of Arts in New York. From there I would realize all my dreams!

Wrong!

My second life began four months shy of my college graduation, 34 years ago, when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an incurable disease that causes muscle tremors and paralysis. Saying good-bye to my dreams wasn't easy. For several years, I searched for a new career that I could physically handle--something that I could enjoy and that would also provide a decent income.

I tried teaching, working for a dentist, selling jewelry, and working as a front desk clerk at a hotel. Eventually, I discovered my career--real estate. There are many similarities between this business and acting and performing on stage.

I'm good--though not great--at real estate and proud of what I've been able to accomplish.

It has always been physically difficult for me to show homes. Getting up a small flight of steps, especially with no banister, is challenging, sometimes frightening, and, in winter, downright dangerous.

Fortunately, I've learned shortcuts and energy-saving measures. It has always been my feeling that customers and clients should be allowed to discover some points about the home on their own. Rather than being a “this is a closet” type of salesperson, I allow them to walk through the home without me looking over their shoulders.

Multiple sclerosis can be very unfriendly. Someone once thought I was a drinker because of my inability to walk normally. After I learned of that comment, I began using a cane.

One afternoon I was standing near the wall of a very large living room in a vacant house I was showing a couple and their 5-year-old son. The young boy ran over to me, grabbed the cane, and dashed to the opposite side of the room. “OK, Sandie,” he said, “let's see how you walk without your cane.” His parents were mortified and apologized, and scolded their son, but I thought it was about the funniest thing that had happened to me in a long time.

I'm thankful for those memories.

My husband of 32 years and our two grown sons have been loving, supportive, and upbeat. I'm lucky they’re my family, and I should tell them more often how much I love and appreciate them for their positive attitudes.

They’ve literally picked me up when I've fallen and cheered me up when I've been down.

Sandie Hawthorne is a salesperson with Kaisner Realty, Bloomington, Ill.

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