Rude Awakenings ~ Catherine Sevenau

Catherine Sevenau Catherine Sevenau is a writer and storyteller who is out to capture your skittery mind. She's penned three books, compiled numerous collections of family genealogy, and has been a regular columnist in the SUN since 2016. She can be reached at [email protected].


An idea whose time has come

Posted on June 23, 2024 by Catherine Sevenau

: I pulled the lever and moved my Real Estate Broker’s license from my downtown business office to my home. I’m officially and happily retired. No more getting lost showing property, writing contracts, and holding open houses. No more attending endless meetings, conferences, and trainings. No more having to keep up with new forms, new laws, and new owners. No more dealing with dozens of daily business emails and constantly being on the phone. No more lying awake at night, trying to keep it all together. I’ve been simplifying my life for the past couple of years, and this is the final major piece. My friend Katrina texted me when I told her: “Congratulations! Simplicity is divine. Enjoy your one wild and precious life!!!”

I wrote the following in 2015 and update it herein: Has real estate changed since I got my license in 1982? That it has. In 1982, a contract was one page. Interest rates were 18 percent. There was no such thing as property inspections. Inventory was not pulled up on computers, it was delivered in 900-page books that covered the whole county. Fax machines weren’t invented yet. I wore heels, nylons, shoulder pads and had a head of big hair.

When I started at age 33, I was one of the youngest agents in the business, a single mom with two boys. Several from that era are still practicing and are now the senior agents, and the boys are now grown men. We aren’t as tough as some of the older agents we worked with when we started, but they were trailblazers, especially the women who taught us a lot. We have duly passed their knowledge and wisdom forward.

Sonoma Valley is a unique place to sell real estate. There is a camaraderie, trust, and interdependence among those in the business here that you don’t often find in other places, and I’m grateful to have been part of that. Of all the careers from which to choose, this one has suited me perfectly, and I know I’ve made a difference. In these 42 years I’ve opened many doors for people, helped hundreds of sellers move on with their lives, and held hands with hundreds more to find their dream homes … even with zero sense of direction. In those days I used a map (which was of absolutely no use). Then Siri centered my life!

A few years back I muddled over penning my obituary, my epitaph, or a newspaper ad. My own obituary was too weird to write. My epitaph, a no-brainer:  

1948 – TBD

And since I’ve been in real estate in Sonoma forever (42 years in one career with the same company is about the same as forever) my ad copy was a piece of cake:


This small-town charmer shines with character and colorful history. Endowed with good bones and standing on a solid concrete foundation, she is structurally sound with notable internal integrity. Built in 1948, this gem is a prime example of definitive California architecture and, other than the well-maintained roof, is in original condition. Despite an outstanding location with gracious curb appeal, her interior is somewhat dated and shows some wear and tear. No major complaint or disclosure issues, no plumbing leaks or wiring problems, no illegal permit or zoning headaches. However, she does bear a few slight quirks: two partially fogged windows, various rusted hinges, a few loose screws, and several stiff, creaking doors. There are minor holes in the ceiling (allowing hot air to escape), along with a few dinky wall dents. No termites or beetles, but evidence of squirrels in the attic. Well-tended and generally low maintenance, though can be temperamental, depending on the weather. Recently smudged for ghosts. Comes fully insured with a newly minted historical designation. Well-documented archival background information on request.

I thank all those who’ve supported, trusted, and worked with me on this journey. You know who you are. Those who were a pain in the ass, you know who you are too. As I’m not going anywhere, I’ll see y’all around the bend, enjoying my one wild and precious life

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA