We created solace in a harried world

It started out as an efficiency of business. And it’s turned into an indescribable bond of encouragement and respect.

It was back in 1985 that a group of self employed women, anxious to serve our community in a business and charitable capacity, founded our own business organization, with the encouragement of the Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce.

Until that date there were few ways a business woman could be involved in service work unless it was in the capacity of wife of a Rotarian, Lion, Kiwanian, Civitan etc.

So, a fledgling group was formed and within three years boasted 180 women who met monthly to foster professional and self development, sponsor small business awards, fund entrepreneur and mentorship programs, and generally encourage each other. Today, in 2001, business women belong to every service club and the need for the Barrie Business Women’s Council has dissipated.

In the early years of BBWC, four of us got to talking one night about the incredible time constraints around running businesses and “doing” Christmas. We went to the microphone at the end of the meeting with the following announcement: “Four of us are thinking about doing a cookie exchange to minimize Christmas baking plus have an evening together. If anyone’s interested in joining us, please call…”

There were 13 women each with 13 dozen cookies who arrived for that first cookie trade in 1990. Tomorrow night we’ll hold our 12th cookie trade and while the numbers have remained constant, and the original four women still attend, the Cookie Traders have changed membership (and shape!) over the years.

We’ve become such good friends, too. We initiated a weekend shopping trip about five years ago, pampering ourselves at bed & breakfasts and brutalizing our feet in dollar stores.

But this year we decided to spend a weekend immersed in indulging ourselves with each other. So… imagine this!

We took one member’s house, emptied it of kids, pets, spouse and in-laws for the weekend. Cleaned from top to bottom, fresh linen on eight beds, loads of fruit, croissants, and perrier, the Cookie Traders gathered last Saturday morning.

We unplugged all the telephones. We locked the doors. And while we changed into leisure suits and robes, spa practitioners set up in five assigned rooms, each with a card and pencil outside the door. We signed the cards, selecting five of eight available services… aromatherapy massage, cranio-sacral therapy, reflexology, ear candling, pedicure, manicure, facial, reiki. Our spa practitioners, organized by Sandy Trottier of Sugar & Spice Aesthetics, were superlative, and determined to have us relax and enjoy.

We sat in the living room, visiting with Cookie Traders waiting for their next “appointment”, and the practitioners came and retrieved each of us as our turn came. From 11 am to 8 pm when the last fingernail had its last tip polished, we laughed, we relaxed, we drank healthy liquid and ate healthy food. We let the grinds of daily care and responsibility fade.

And we served ourselves an elaborate pot luck dinner, complete with candles and wine, soft music, and laughter. We cried about Sept 11. We cried about the plight of Afghan women, determined to bring love and peace into our own environments in their honour. We celebrated the launch of one member’s project that’s been a four-year journey. We listened to each other and celebrated who we are, not what we do. We turned off the world and tuned into each other.

At midnight we went for a jet propelled walk. And then we slept. Sunday morning… coffee, croissants, quiche, fruit and more laughter.

And at noon, phone lines back in, doors opened, cars revved, we went back out into the world.

Much better for it.

Thanks, Sandy, for putting it all together.

Thanks, Linda, Shannon, Laurie, Michelle, Colette, Janet, Jill!