Bold Insight 3: There is beauty in every task, every struggle, and every day.

I’m going to make everything around me beautiful.
That will be my life.

Elsie De Wolf

I used to be obsessed with first dates. I loved them. In my early 30’s, I would sometimes have 2 or 3 back to back on the same night. When asked how I had the energy for that, I responded that first dates are the best moment you will ever have with someone: you are both on your best behavior, you tell all your best stories, share your best dreams for the future – and there’s no history or baggage to creep in and remind you that the person across from you isn’t perfect. They also held so much hope and optimism. As long as I was having first dates, there was a chance I would have the one that sparked the life-time love of movies, poetry, and song.

I was all at once in love with the experience and aware of its fiction. Years later when I felt the calling to be an influencer in a world for good and started following people who were doing that, I asked a friend if they thought Danielle LaPorte had social media accounts that only her closest friends and family had access to – not because she might want privacy or a way to keep in touch with people that weren’t accessible to the world – because I was curious where she was sharing the parts of her that weren’t so positive; so hopeful; so connected to a greater good. My friend, slightly perplexed by my question, said, No, I think if you live a life that is connected to the world you want to create, you don’t need a separate social media account to share things – I suspect the things you are thinking you don’t want to be out there for the whole world are things that you wish you had done differently, reacted to differently, or could change. The parts of those you can control, you should start changing. The rest, you should let go of.

That was the day I made my Facebook profile public and all of my posts public. It’s like my own little check-in with myself. If I wouldn’t want the whole world to see it as they research me before coming to see me give my TEDx talk, it’s time to examine what’s going on and regroup. (side note: the TEDx talk is coming one day… just wait and see!)

There is a lot of push right now for us to all stop comparing ourselves to people we only know through social media. Citing the negative effects of the comparison trap, experts remind us that what you see on Instagram is the best version of someone and trying to create a life that resembles that will only leave you disappointed.

I suspect that’s true for many people. It’s human to want to portray the best of yourself – on a first date or on Instagram. It helps us all believe that happiness is possible; hell, that anything is possible maybe. I’m sure that some of the profiles that have inspired me to live in a vintage camper for a year are complete b.s. and maybe even curated by someone who hates living on the road! I’ve often stared at Instagram feeds or poured through every photo on the website of someone who is ready to teach me how to live my best life and wondered if the smiles were real; if the joy was soul-connected; or if it was all theater.

Occasionally we have the gift of meeting someone we admire and follow in person. It’s always a gift because if they don’t match the image they worked hard to create on social media, we know we need to reconnect our relationship to them, possibly even stop following them or purchasing their products. This is not because we are better than them or because people don’t get to be human: it’s because we need heroes and examples that show up 100% as who they are and show us what is necessary to create a new world – not some idealized version of how the people live who are doing it.

Once-in-a-lifetime we actually know someone we admire and follow. Or maybe we knew them first before we started following them. That’s my story with Kate Mitchell & Danielle Gustafson. Yogis, real estate agents, clean eaters, good-time lovers, and soul-sisters, these two womxn have been making my life better for close to a decade. I was not the only one either; I suspect everyone who knew them felt similarly.

Last year, they launched Hello Saint Augustine as the brand to support their real estate company, St. Augustine Real Estate. The mission: to curate an artful collection of St. Augustine’s finest, in real estate and life. They feature local heroes: people in St. Augustine who make the community better with what they do and who they are. They share quotes about nesting, finding home, and what beauty really means. They share the stories of the buyers they help find their perfect house. And, of course, they share some of the most beautiful and special homes in town. 

All of this could seem a little too well-curated if you didn’t know them and know that this brand is also how they live their lives. Danielle is a devoted mother, mindful world-traveler, expert yoga teacher, and a genius real estate broker-associate. She believes in exercising body, mind, and spirit daily, and is wholeheartedly committed to her life and practice. Kate is an expert designer, discerning connector, nourishing friend, and a wise real estate agent and staging consultant. She believes that being genuine, open-minded, and tactfully honest leads to success and happiness in all areas of life. They both bring the spirit of yoga, mindfulness, and intentional living to every interaction they have with their clients, their network, their friends, and their family.

They are also the true epitome of the beautiful and complex spirit that embodies womxn. I’ve been on porches til 4 a.m. drinking beers and solving problems, in a treehouse hostile in sacred circle, at a county school board meeting advocating for our children, and at any number of locations, from a local bar to a fancy restaurant, celebrating the life of a mutual friend with one or both of them. 

When COVID-19 started taking over our town and the orders were coming to shelter in place and practice social distancing, it would have been easy for Kate & Danielle to start living and sharing from a place of scarcity or fear. I’m sure there were real estate professionals across the country who started trying to convince the people following them that it was the perfect time to think about the future and buy your next home. Not these two. 

They amped up the sharing of local business owners, gently reminding the community that there are people behind our local restaurants, breweries, retail shops, and more. They started sharing photos of the food they were picking up from locally-owned restaurants or having delivered from local farm box companies. They shared photos of gardens and patios and talked about how to sow seeds now for tomorrow and make every space you are in beautiful and functional. And they posted on all of their social media acknowledging the concerns around the effects of the pandemic on the real estate market and why they were going fully virtual regardless of being deemed an essential business. 

It’s an unprecedented time in history when the best action we can take to serve our commUNITY is to turn inward. We’ve asked our new listings to hold off a bit to reduce the risk to sellers, photographers, showing agents, buyers, and ourselves. Our buyers have graciously understood that it is just not an ideal time to physically view properties…with a town as unique and coveted as St. Augustine, there’s no doubt we will bounce back. In the meantime, we’ll be fine-tuning our marketing, implementing some effective systems, gearing up to come back stronger than ever, and recharging in a way we’ve never been gifted the privilege to do. Let’s all keep protecting our communities and sharing our most valuable asset (time) with those near and dear. We appreciate you.

True leadership from true leaders. 

Kate Mitchell & Danielle Gustafson are doing so much more than buying & selling houses as successful real estate agents in St. Augustine, Florida. From highlighting local heroes to sharing inspirational messages to promoting a simpler way of living, they are true leaders who show their community how to tame some of the toughest environments, including buying or selling a home.

Follow their page for your own bit of inspiration, tips on living a beautiful life, and places you should visit when you come to town, or connect with them to buy or sell a home in St. Augustine!

LaKay Cornell

LaKay Cornell is a writer, culture critic, extreme taco lover, and serial collaborator. As the founder of Champagne Hippies, she brings bold insights that accelerate business & heal the world. She is also a co-founder of Needle Movers: 52 Women | 52 Weeks | 52 Ways to move the needle towards equality.
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