*This story was a part of the Impowerage “It’s Never Too Late to Change Careers” Writing Contest. Voting is now closed and you can see the contest winner here.
By Christine Henry
My profession was in-store and window display, dressing mannequins in the fashion departments for one of Canada’s largest retail stores. I affectionately called this playing “Barbie Dolls.” Many years later, I switched to playing “House,” which was setting up and co-coordinating living room, dining room, and bedroom sets in retail furniture stores. Selecting rugs, pictures, linens, lamps, and accessories to compliment each room set.
Just after my 52nd birthday I was offered a Visual Presentation Supervisor position with a much larger pay cheque, and perks such as accessory buying trips to Las Vegas. Finally after 30 years in retail display, I had gotten my dream job!
Unfortunately, after only 2 short years, the economy reared its ugly head, and over the last year of employment it was my task to gradually dwindle down the entire display staff. Then with no warning, I was the next to go.
Humiliated, discouraged, and angry, it took a long time to even get out and face people again. I found it amazing how my work meant so much to me, and defined my identity. I was lost, lonely, and had no idea what to do next. I felt worthless.
Day after day, I beat myself up over what I did wrong, or what I should have done. I filled my days with cleaning closets, de-cluttering, painting, filing for E.I., jumping through hoops and more hoops. I applied for job after job. Getting very discouraged, never realizing how being over fifty would impact my ability to get the type of job I was looking for. It was hard enough that I was in such a specialized job category, and one that during slow economic times was the first to be deemed as un-necessary. I had never in my life, ever, had trouble getting the job I wanted. I needed to get out of the house and clear my mind so I could move forward.
My mom and dad were both artists…I thought I must have some artistic ability somewhere in me. I found myself spending the most time on photography and writing. Many glorious afternoons were spent going to wonderful places, to either write or take photos. I even started making art cards, and getting the photos printed on Canvas. Soon I gained the confidence to show a few of my canvases at The Coast Collective Art gallery, and the Hive.
Still being un-successful at finding a real job, and needing to contribute to the household expenses, my mind wondered to the thought of trying to start my own business. With my husband’s support and interest we both discussed what a good concept would be. It would need to be something creative, artistic, and complimentary to my skills.
Working long, hard hours it took well over a year to get my one woman business called Eye Party Arts off the ground. Now I’m a freelance home staging assistant, novice photography artist and beginner writer. Next I’m hoping to add a new dimension to my business, helping seniors de-clutter and freshen up their homes when they have made the decision to sell and downsize. I’m striving to make a “Party for the Eyes” whether it be through, Staging, De-Cluttering, Art or Photography.
In my spare time from the business I try to get some writing done. I’ve written a few poems and I’m working on the many stories of growing up with an Alcoholic father and a mother with Multiple Sclerosis.
As the saying goes there is a book in everyone. Everyone has a story. The challenge is to get it written. Another challenge I hope to accomplish soon!
My fifties have included getting my dream job, surviving a lay off, exploring and enjoying many artistic options, running my own business, starting a book, and now writing my first article.
For today will be yesterday…Ever so fast
Already the past…Full of memories
That will last and last…Time moves too fast!
( Excerpts from my poem “Time Moves Too Fast”)