When I was born, my clever parents put out a sweet little birth announcement with a drawing of a house under construction with a line underneath that simply read: “We’ve added another Storey.” Simple, brilliant, foreshadowing? Perhaps all of the above, but either way, it was perfect. And perfectly fitting for me.
Throughout my life, I have been building upon seemingly everything – life lessons, what I’ve learned in school, friendships, right down to my collection of recipes and developing a stack of one wooden block, then another, then another when I was just a wee child. It’s all been about building up my foundation of knowledge, my tools, resources, connections, and most importantly, my relationships.
I think back to when I was in sixth grade. For some reason, I always seem to go back to that year, that dreadful year. I was this height – 5’8″ – the tallest in my class, and 12 years old. I had a mullet, and it was permed (thanks, Mom). As I recall, I really liked to rock this red Lacoste shirt that was also often seen on the family Labrador Retriever, Ginger, who was also my best friend and confidante. It wasn’t my best year. But for some reason, it was that year, the year that I felt the most left out – the tall, awkward girl with the mullet who was most likely to get hit with the dodge ball – THAT was the year that I started to pull it together for myself. THAT was the first year that in my head, I knew I realized the importance of building relationships.
I had forever been witness to this concept being around my parents. They had (and still have, after 50 years of marriage) a wonderful relationship not only with each other, but also with their circle of friends, with whom they would get together constantly. This has not changed a bit to this day, and I attribute their active social life to their health and vitality. But when I was a kid, they always pulled me into the fold. I was never excluded, and it was always fun to come downstairs on one of their infamous bridge games and see what stories were being told. Laughter always filled the air. Lots of relationship building was surely going on. I am so thankful that they included me all those nights… That they didn’t send me off to a sitter or ask me to stay in my room. Rather, they wanted me to be a part of adult conversation and learn what it meant to be off my game a little and around people who I didn’t know what in what in the world I could possibly have anything in common with. But I did, and it was always fun. To this day, I love to talk to people with whom I have nothing in common, and I love making new, random friends. Do you?
But I digress. This blog all kind of came about because I have been working really hard with one of my clients to choose a contractor. That process has been a long one, and it’s been very much about relationship-building and trust. Certainly, the person you hire to do any sort of work, and in this case, to essentially completely remodel your entire house, had better be someone you trust. The problem was, my clients were out-of-state, so I was here on-site to build the relationships and find the best fit for the job.
This is where sixth grade comes in.
Because you see, I spent weeks and weeks and weeks getting to know these contractors. Building relationships with these people. Learning their trade, their skills, their strengths and weaknesses, what makes them tick. But most importantly, I developed emotional relationships with them too. I mean hey – when there’s laughter involved, and in life, you have to laugh, that means emotion… So then it came time to choose. So then it was ME holding the dodge ball. And I was sitting there saying “but, WAIT! I’m the awkward girl with the permed mullet, and you want ME to throw this thing?” Yes, Marina. You’re a big kid now. It’s time to move into the business world. Throw the darn ball.
And here’s where we cue Julio Iglesias’ “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.” (sorry, it just seems fitting, just not the girl part. okay, maybe I just needed an excuse to throw in this song. ah, Julio.)
I ended up having a really funny conversation with my client during the decision-making process about how I don’t believe in burning bridges. He laughed when I told him that I was still friends with my ex-husband and that even an old boyfriend (or two) was at our wedding, so that it was inconceivable to me to think that we couldn’t get through this process without everyone landing on their feet with a smile. I know there are a lot of people in the world who believe in the “you’re dead to me” philosophy – once a relationship is over, you sever the tie and never speak again, but that’s not me. I think we cross paths for a reason. Call me crazy… So I took this contractor experience as a definite learning lesson, and without a doubt, my relationship bank is richer and fuller because of it.
So… I am in a place of building. Building my business, building my resources, always building my knowledge bank (it will never, ever be full), building some houses (or remodeling), and most definitely, lovingly, and happily, building all kinds of relationships. I wish you much joy and success in your own building process.