Is There a Season to be Grateful?

This is the time of year that many of us slow down, spend more time with family and friends, reflect on our year and start setting our intentions for the New Year. The holiday season, for many, prompts a feeling of gratitude. Maybe it’s because we slow down, take time off, reflect on the year as it winds down and what it has meant. But, did you know that the act of feeling and expressing gratitude has extreme benefits for our physical health, psychological well-being and relationships with others? Scientific studies have been going on for decades trying to understand the full benefits of simply expressing gratitude. Robert Emmons Ph.D. is a leading scientific expert on gratitude. Here are just a few of his findings:

• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness

• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.

Dr. Emmons explains that gratitude has two components. First, it helps us affirm goodness in this world and recognize the gifts and benefits we’ve received. Even though life isn’t perfect, gratitude helps us identify some amount of goodness in our lives. The second part of gratitude is realizing the source is outside of us. True gratitude goes against a self-serving bias. When we are grateful, we understand that it’s other people that help us achieve the goodness in our lives.

Research has shown that gratitude helps us celebrate the present and participate more in life. It helps block negative and toxic emotions like envy, resentment and regret that can destroy happiness. Grateful people are more stress resistant and have a higher sense of self-worth.

So how do we get away from the “season” of gratitude and truly live it year-round? If you want to move past just feeling occasionally grateful to becoming a more grateful person, here are some daily practices you can incorporate:

  • Keep a gratitude journal. This can be as simple as listing 3 things you are grateful for every day, or you can use something more formal like The Five-Minute Journal that has morning question prompts and evening reflection questions. It was given to me as a gift at a very pivotal time in my life and it has been invaluable to me ever since.
  • If you don’t want to write things down, pick a time (first thing in the morning or at bedtime) to simply count your blessings. If you eat dinner with your partner, children, friend, etc. get in the habit of going around the table and each listing something you are grateful for today. It was our tradition at Thanksgiving, but now we do it all the time. It’s really fun to hear the simplest things that people are grateful for.
  • If you have children and want to help instill the importance of gratitude, you can do a variety of things. Volunteer as a family at a non-profit that makes you feel good. We serve dinner together as a family every month at one of the Transition Projects shelters dedicated to helping people transition off the streets. You can also start a gratitude jar at home that you put your spare change into every day. The idea is that the act prompts you to talk about what you are grateful for. When the jar is full you can donate it to a needy person or cause.

Personally, I have so much to be grateful for:   a warm home, supportive and loving family, a reliable car, access to good food and healthcare, a thriving business, friends, clients and colleagues that infuse so much joy in my life… the list goes on and on. As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, let it be a great time to remind us the importance of practicing gratitude daily.

41st Annual Duniway Holiday Home Tour

The Duniway Holiday Home Tour and Artisan Boutique is back for the 41st year as Portland’s longest-running house-hopping extravaganza.

The one-day event is Friday, December 6, starting at Duniway Elementary school, 7700 SE Reed College Place, Portland.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the students of Duniway Elementary by providing an arts program, cultural development and other academic enrichments.

The Duniway PTA and gracious members of the community offer 6 outstanding homes to explore.  All homes are special and certain to spark nostalgia, inspiration and warm holiday spirit. 

This year’s tour features a Mediterranean-style home brimming with an astounding collection of Pop Art and expertly curated Native American art.  Other homes include an eclectic vintage-inspired Colonial, and a newly remodeled estate.  The six homes offer a diverse array of architecture, landscaping and design: from classic to eclectic, and all the gorgeous styles between.

Nothing enhances a home tour like shopping! The Duniway Artisan Boutique is set to provide all your gift-giving needs. Browse dozens of local vendors in the Duniway Elementary gymnasium for locally made crafts, home goods and treats.  Purchase a unique bag or tote made from repurposed material and fill it with handcrafted jewelry, Oregon honey, handmade pasta and soap. Other vendors offer home goods such as special holiday ornaments and eco-friendly laundry products. 

From the school, participants can board the complimentary trolley to any of the gorgeous Eastmoreland homes whose residents have opened their doors to benefit Arts education.  The trolley circulates on a loop for participants to house-hop at their leisure.  A collectible brochure provides a brief description of homes on the tour, and homes can be explored in any chosen order.

The annual event offers two sessions throughout the day from 10am-3pm, and 5pm-9pm.  Live music will fill the homes during the evening session.  

Tickets are $35 at the door, or $30 in advance at  Admission to the Artisan Boutique is free, and will be open 9am-7:30pm. Single ticket purchase provides access to the Tour, Trolley and Boutique.  

Busting the Myths About Winter Home Sales

There was a time (okay fine, until a few weeks ago) when I thought that narwhals were fictional creatures. As a busy mom, I felt like I hit the jackpot when I stumbled into a garage sale and found a basically brand new baby Halloween costume for my son. It was perfect, warm, and sized just right. Done deal. My son will be a narwhal for Halloween. 

It wasn’t until I started telling friends that he will be “ya know, one of those pretend unicorn whales,” that I realized I know nothing about narwhals and was stunned when I googled that narwhals are not only real, but apparently it’s a very common misconception that narwhals are fictional! 

You know what else is a total misconception? The idea that you must wait until spring to sell your home. Baffled? Trust me, I know how you feel and you are going to be okay…read on.


When more homes are on the market in the springtime, it means buyers may get to be choosier. In turn, fewer homes for buyers to choose from in the winter plays in your favor.


Decorating a house for the holidays can be an incredibly cost-effective way to improve curb appeal and home staging. It can also instigate daydreams about being settled into a new home in time to host holiday get togethers.

Buyers are also understanding that winter holidays may mean they need to be a bit flexible on when they can view your home. Not to mention that if you head out of town for the holidays, your agent can be trusted to keep showing your house in your absence.


Winter buyers are serious. 

Portland gets chilly in the winter, so buyers who are out on the hunt are motivated about purchasing a home. 

Winter home buyers may also be motivated to capture the tax benefits of buying a home before the year-end. If you are selling your home to buy another, these tax breaks apply to you too! Think: mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums and real estate taxes. Check with your local tax expert to learn more. 

January is also known as one of the most popular months for corporate transfers. Buyers who transfer for work are on a set timeframe and motivated to find their home quickly.

Closing Thoughts

Yes, homes in the spring are on the market for fewer days and have more curb appeal. reports the median days on the market for houses that sold last February was 83 days, while May saw a median of just 55 days on market (both with a decrease in days compared to the same time periods in 2017).

However, if you do decide to list your home this winter, it’s important that you keep your driveway clear, keep outside porch lights on, and take care of any roofing issues or potential leaks asap (nothing freaks a buyer out more than walking up to a house with ice dams). 

Let some light in by keeping blinds and curtains open and keep it warm inside. Highlight rooms and features that make potential buyers wanna hang out. A lil’ festive wreath on the door and comfortable-looking blanket on the couch never hurt anybody either. Crank up the cozy!

And with that, I will leave you with a narwhal fact. The prominent horn is actually an ivory tooth that grows into a swordlike, spiral tusk up to 8.8 feet long. 

Consider yourself mythbusted.