A plethora of entries, wonderfully candid stories, and a tough decision to make. Thank you to all who entered our Fall Makeover Contest. It takes courage to make positive change, and we are impressed with the entrants’ willingness to put themselves out there. Okanagan Women – daring and honest. After much discussion, we chose Barbara Simpson of Salmon Arm for her enthusiasm, tenacity, and commitment to her future.
Barbara arrived to her interview with lyrics from a song by Rascal Flatts, “For once I’m at peace with myself, I’ve been burdened with blame, trapped in the past far too long, I’m movin’ on”. And as we found out, Barbara is indeed “movin’ on”.
Like all of us, Barbara has faced a number of life challenges. What stands out is her ability to roll with adversity and put a positive spin on some significant diffculties. In short, she never gives up!
The youngest of five, Barbara grew up in Armstrong. “I loved it to bits. In school I was class valedictorian and was going to change the world.” After attending college in Saskatchewan, Barbara moved to Vancouver and took an Early Childhood Education program. And what luck, she was hired at a private school on Maui! Her goal was to teach there for a year and then come home and marry.
Barbara’s plans came crashing down when her relationship ended abruptly. “My dream was gone. I felt devastated. I had my life all planned out.” After she returned to BC, “I taught children for awhile and then decided to complete nurses training. I took a Licensed Practical Nurse’s (LPN) program in Kelowna, and my practicum was at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital.” During this time Barbara met a fellow from Salmon Arm. “He was a single Dad and when we married I became an instant Mom.” Eventually Barbara and her husband moved north to Prince George, where they had three children. Their marriage ended after 17 years, and after that “I hit bottom”. Barbara was now a single Mom and had not worked while she was married.
She felt overwhelmed. Yet, this setback did not stop her. Barbara took the Care Aide program at the College of New Caledonia and, after much encouragement from her instructor, took a position at a hospice facility. “I worked in hospice for years. I loved it. It was the greatest privilege and honour of my life.” But after ten years Barbara experienced a work-related injury and had to stop. More challenges - financial, emotional, and physical.
Life looked bleak. “My kids had moved to the Okanagan and said ‘come home’. I didn’t want to come back to the Okanagan because I felt I had failed. How could I come back with nothing?” After much soul searching she took the plunge. She moved to Salmon Arm, and then spent time at her son Andy’s place in Enderby. “In the process of coming to the Okanagan I began to get my value back.” Barbara began to heal both physically and mentally, and lost 35 pounds. Integral to her recovery was the support of her children. She describes parenting, “Of my personal life, being a Mum has been astounding. Absolute beauty. There is nothing more important than your kids.”
Feeling more grounded, after a couple of years, “I knew I needed to do something different.” Yet more change! Barbara took another risk and applied to a diamond mine in the Northwest Territories. “I work for a support company that takes care of housing.” The facility is 400 miles north and east of Yellowknife. It is called “Gahcho Kue Mine”, or “place of large rabbits.” Six months of the year they have an “ice road”. It is two weeks in and two weeks out, so Barbara gets to enjoy some of the Okanagan’s summer.
And that brings us to today. I ask Barbara what were her thoughts when she found out she had won the make-over contest. “Oh wow, that’s crazy.” As we discuss the next day’s events her face glows with excitement and anticipation.
The Big Day
Barbara arrives at Loyal Hair Therapy in Kelowna full of smiles and optimism, with eldest daughter Jenn along to share the experience. She is about to undergo an astonishing transformation, courtesy of master stylist Colin Ford. He
consults with Barbara, and discovers the last time she had her hair done professionally was about 10 years ago. She tells him he can do whatever he likes with her hair, which currently falls halfway down her back. After determining her lifestyle, Colin decides a wash and wear style will be best. With a subtle flourish of his scissors, Colin expertly cuts off about 6 inches, a perfect length for Barbara. What is next? Two colours are expertly applied by stylist Robyn Lemay. Once that process is complete, Colin returns to work his magic. Layers and a long sideswept fringe emerge as the scissors snip busily. The result is extraordinary and the make-over has only just begun! Barbara’s comment? “It looks fantastic. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Our next stop is Sassy Shoes in Kelowna, where shoes and dresses await. Tina Louise Dress Studio in Oyama has
kindly sent along a number of dresses to suit Barbara’s taste and body type, so she is able to try on dresses and shoes together. What a selection of attire. Barbara is mesmerized by the choices. She dons a number of dresses and it becomes clear what she loves. She is smitten with not one, but two dresses. The first is a Ted Baker of London’s “Secret Trellis Elastic Dress”. It is an empire waist, knee length sheath with muted ftoral prints of corals, creams, and yellows, with a sateen finish. Wonderful colours! Oo-la-la. The other dress, also a Ted Baker of London, is cream with taupe and coral colours and an asymmetrical hem. What beautiful flow.
And now for the shoes. Bonnie Schadeck, owner, is prepared with an amazing array of footwear. She knows just what
will work with each dress and provides Barbara with some very chi-chi choices. After much trying on, Barbara chooses two-toned, cream coloured, very high heels for the sheath, and coral suede heeled sandals for the second dress. Good choices, as they complement each dress to perfection! Throughout, there is a lot of oo-ing and ah-ing from both Barbara and Jenn. It is clear they are experiencing an excellent day. After she models her top picks, Barbara tells us, “I plan to wear my new wardrobe to daughter Michaela’s graduation from her massage therapy program.” You go girl!
We are not done yet!
Onward we trek to Faces Body + Soul in Orchard Park Mall. Tarah Buchanan treated Barbara to a facial the day before, and so her skin already glows. Now, Ashley Dallimore is ready to start a facial revolution. As Barbara settles in, she comments, “The last time I had my make-up done was at my oldest son’s wedding in 2003.” Sounds like she is ready for something new! Faces own line of toner, primer, foundation, eyeliner, bronzer, lipstick are applied, and the list goes on. And, “Yes to those eyelashes, I am so getting pampered,” smiles Barbara. As Ashley works, she explains that she is going for a “classic look” with the lipstick providing a bit of “pop”. And the overall effect? Simply stunning!
Our last stop is Jenny Kamo Photography Studio in downtown Kelowna. A lifestyle and portrait photographer, Jenny goes to work on our glamour girl with lights, camera, spray and wind…exquisitely executed while Colin, from Loyal Hair Therapy, is present to coif and swoosh Barbara’s hair. What an effect! Jenny’s ability to capture Barbara’s personality means the photographs are quite simply, superb. As we wrap-up our day with Barbara, we are honoured to see the emergence of a clever, classy, confident, Okanagan Woman.
Thank you to all of our amazing sponsors who made this special makeover day possible: