Growing older gracefully involves changing and evolving. It means recognizing that change in your mature years can be positive, and take you in unimaginable directions. Such a change occurred for my friend and business partner, Linda Paquette, and me when she noticed an obscure advertisement for a bra maker’s school in the back of a magazine.
In our early fifties, we’ve been friends for many years and during our many walks and talks, we’d felt vaguely discontent with ourselves. It wasn’t specific; it was that niggling feeling that we could do more or do it “differently.” For ages, we’d spoken about the need for change, but nothing came up that was strong enough to move us out of the lethargy of comfortable habit.
Attempting to do life differently, I left a position with a small garment manufacturer to work for myself from home. Linda was working full time as an office manager and casting about for a move of her own.
Sharing a love of sewing, we would inevitably make it part of the conversation whenever we got together. One day, she mentioned the interesting advertisement she’d seen.
When I got home, I turned on the computer, had a long look at the website and then shared my growing excitement with my husband. My enthusiasm was contagious and he encouraged me to go. I took a deep breath and called Linda, “I’m going, are you in?” Small silence. “I’m coming with you!” I almost fell off my chair! We did some research, made the necessary contacts and signed up to learn the art and science of professional bra making and fitting.
Knowing the threat of our old friend “comfort zone,” I made a special trip from Campbell River to Courtenay to get Linda’s cheque, put it with mine and mailed them in right away so there was no turning back. We had just committed ourselves to eight weeks in Hamilton, Ontario, away from our families, doing something completely different than we ever expected.
On our first day of class, we met a young woman from Hawaii, one from Calgary, two more from the Hamilton area, and two women from London, England – complete strangers until they met at the Hamilton B&B. All these women had taken a leap from their everyday lives to explore something new. Although their backgrounds and stories were different, they all wanted to make a change and had the courage to do it.
The following eight weeks were filled with delights and challenges: meeting new people, learning new skills and exploring new places. One major challenge we all agreed on was being away from our families for eight weeks.
The additional difficulty of being outside our comfort zones was at times overwhelming, yet we all persevered. After all, wasn’t that part of the reason we were doing this? The answer of course was yes.
The last days in Hamilton were busy and long. Our group of ladies worked at all times of the day and often well into the night. Twelve- and 14-hour days were common, as we strived to complete the required projects and absorb as much information as possible in our already full brains.
The night before our last classroom day, we shut everything down early to take a much needed evening off, to eat, drink and revel in our new education, and most importantly to toast our new friendships. After eight weeks together, we had developed a deep bond with these lovely, diverse women. How better to signify this closeness than over a glass (or two) of wine and good food.
On our last day, we packed up our gear and familiar workspace. Tears and hugs were the order of the day as our group slowly began to disperse and return to their other lives. Linda and I were excited to be going home, but also saddened that we had to leave. As we packed our suitcases in anticipation of our flight the next day, we found ourselves remembering that first day and the teacher’s inspirational words: “Embrace the chaos and all will be revealed!”
It’s been over two years since our journey to Hamilton. We spent the first year alternating between triumph and frustration as we went through the learning curve of sewing and fitting many bras (the chaos!). Every time Linda and I meet a new client, we have the opportunity to learn and to help someone feel better about how they look (the revelation!). To anyone considering taking the step towards new learning, we say, “Go for it!” You have so much to gain. Like my wonderful dad says, “The day you stop learning is the day you start dying.”
MAY 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND
To learn about the Anatomy of the Bra or Why the Darn Thing Doesn't Fit Anymore, visit
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