Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

“Some people were put in my life to help me, to push me, to make me feel compelled to work hard because they invested in me,” said Lijana Halstead of Eaton Rapids.
She credits Mark and Krysta McGee, owners of Mark’s Place in Eaton Rapids, as some of those people who invested in her. Her photography business was launched when the McGees invited her to bring her photo prints into their café to sell. She also created a calendar of Eaton Rapids area photos.
“My wife and I are huge fans of Lijana’s photography,” Mark McGee commented. “She is extremely talented, and we’re glad to have helped her out.”
In addition, Halstead took her calendars and visited all the downtown businesses to sell them. In doing that, she met Duane Ross, of Ross and Associates, and he recruited her to be a real estate agent. “He started training me immediately, and even paid for my real estate training,” Halstead said.
She discovered that she really enjoyed helping people buy and sell homes, and her first two sales got her hooked on the business. She later started working for Keller-Williams Lansing Realty and still does.
Halstead has lived about six years in Eaton Rapids and loves it. She lives in a historic home that was built in 1868 by Morgan Vaughn, a banker, jeweler, and insurance man back when Eaton Rapids was still a village. Vaughn was also elected president of the village of Eaton Rapids in 1864. There is a beautifully engraved plaque over her door that confirms that Vaughn built the house.
“It reminds me of Bedford Falls in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ my favorite movie,” Halstead said about living here.
“I even have a staircase with a loose handrail like in the movie,” she laughingly said. “The people in this community have embraced me, and invested time, money, and effort into my success here.”
As a child, Halstead thought she might be a novelist when she grew up. She has a book in progress, which promises to be a three-book series upon completion. The book involves a young foster child in a dream world, Halstead explained.
Halstead is the mother of four, including a set of ten-year-old twins, Jude and Audrey. “That’s why I work as hard as I do,” she explained. “I show them that if you work hard, and succeed, you will have a good life.” The younger two are Nellie, who’s seven, and Jack, age three. Halstead was a stay-at-home mom for four years and loves being a mother.
Her real estate work and family don’t leave Halstead much time for photography, but it’s still a passion for her. She submitted a photo entitled “Space Station dancing in the arms of the Milky Way,” to the 2020 Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest. Winners haven’t been announced yet. Pure Michigan has used two of her photographs, including one that she took on Brookfield Road in Eaton County. She continues to take photos when time permits and will sell prints by request.