We all have a few powerful memories that stick with us through our entire lives. For me, one particularly vivid one was created when I was just a little girl. My father, Jerry, had served in the military since I was born. When I was five years old, he was ambushed while deployed in Vietnam. Back then, a lot of women wore heavy eye makeup, and I can still see my mom crying those thick black tears when she heard the news.

They thought he was dead at first when they found him. He had suffered bullet wounds in his arms and legs, his whole left side was paralyzed, and he had to have metal plates implanted in his skull. The doctors expected him to be in a vegetative state, and claimed he wouldn’t live past the age of thirty, let alone walk or talk again.

He proved them all wrong. But you’d better believe it wasn’t easy. My dad spent years in the hospital, and like a lot of Vietnam veterans, he battled addiction. After what he had been through, no one expected him to survive for very long.

Although he and my mom were divorced, she and my stepdad had a tremendous amount of respect for him. While I grew up living with her in the Mississippi Delta, I visited my dad in California every summer. My mom, Jan, always taught me to be prepared for the unexpected, because life has a way of throwing a wrench in the works, and you must keep on going. If something wasn’t working, you didn’t quit: you adjusted. I learned early on to always move forward.

That was the lesson that would lead me throughout my entire career. Whether it was the personal training business I founded in San Diego, or the years I spent in cosmetic sales, I was always looking for new ways to help others and motivate them to improve their lives. But I found the greatest fulfillment in connecting with people daily, especially after I realized my true calling as a Realtor®.

In 2001, I earned my license and jumped headfirst into real estate. I still remember my first sale: I got the call while in a car full of my teenaged stepchildren. They were as excited as I was when I pulled over to answer the phone! I got the listing and set to work giving it my all.

 When my sales manager told me I had listed the house too high, I remained adamant that I had made the right decision. It ended up selling for $15,000 above the appraised value! After that success, every homeowner in the neighborhood wanted to list with me, earning me rookie of the year at my brokerage—as well as an apology from that sales manager.