EDITORIAL: Enduring Good. Part One

The best things happen when you're relaxed.

Goodbye 296

Allow me please, dear HEALTH COACH visitor, a look back, one last time, on a special sojourn in my long career as a health professional. 

296 Taché Avenue gave me the opportunity to try my hand at a renovation and restoration project, and to work independently. Every day I would remind myself how fortunate I was, and that it would ultimately be finite. 

I often pondered the history of the shop since its beginning in 1911. While I worked on the renovation, many people stopped to talk to me about the history. The Jewish tailor who occupied the shop for a few decades spanning the fifties through the seventies, had made a lasting impression; encouraging the ambitions of many young people.

I was most interested to know what the original shop was. The image that stirred my imagination constantly through the years was the vision of a woman in early twentieth century silhouette, coming and going from her old fashioned sweets shoppe. 

The unplanned and unusual development in my career is that I am now involved in a feasibility study with SEED Winnipeg, the next phase here at HEALTH COACH - the creation of a superfood candy business.

....the story will continue in Enduring Good 
Part Two: Wisdom....


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Dispatched: Friday, March 14th., 2014

I have two and a half months and counting down, to evacuate my place of business. The building was sold in January. The last day possible there will be May 31st. This means finding a new place or position, financing (a business plan), and rebuilding or adjusting to work at someone else's business; no small change since I have been self-employed most of my working life. I am heartbroken.

My clinic at 296 Taché Avenue is unique. The 1911 space was long neglected when I arrived to first view it in the summer of 2002. Even though it was a ghetto, I had a vision of what it could be. I pictured a shoji-screened treatment room, glowing in the middle of the space. 

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In the end I designed a faux shoji wall facing the door as you enter off the street into the reception area. I realized that no North American was ready to have their naked form backlit and broadcast onto the street. But I kept the ceiling on the treatment room open and exposed to the soaring pressed-tin ceiling above, with the advantage of natural light.

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I completed four of the five phases that I had planned to spread across the first two years, in that six week project. The first four phases included a two week restoration of the 15 foot, pressed-tin ceiling that had been untouched since 1911, and had suffered endless floods from the several floors of apartments above. 

The fifth phase was completed by working six months of Sundays. 

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I learned how to build walls by removing all of the interior walls. The first two weeks were spent scraping and sanding the rust and corrosion before I was able to seal and then paint the ceiling. I rebuilt the front end of the shop completely after discovering that the lathe and plaster walls were falling down in chunks, the wood framework was rotten, and there was no insulation. I built a 3/4 wall around the perimeter of the shop to address the decay of the original plaster walls. 

I added an air conditioning unit, windows, window sills, a window box and wrought-iron trellis, refaced the original posts, added shutters and a mailbox, and finished the shop front with tongue-and-groove board, painted a Maritime blue. The building owner liked it enough to reface the other shops beside mine to match.

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The four phases also included signage, carpet, painting, electrical work - including the removal of a row of florescent light fixtures, the length of the shop, and massive amounts of electrical conduits - obscuring the pressed-tin ceiling. 

It took eight days to add all of the trim using a mitre box and handsaw. Most of the work was done without power tools. I could not afford supplies and tool rental. During the last two weeks I had no money left, and friends and clients became a part of the project, delivering home cooked meals and thermoses of hot tea.

I had no renovation experience when I took on this project. The renovation took six weeks on an extremely limited budget. It was an opportunity to try my unconventional style of solving the problems that threaten and are par for the course with any creative endeavour

I was able to parlay many existing skills into this renovation. I learned something about the estimation of myself. Now, when I approach a situation outside of my experience, I may still feel intimidated, but I let myself have a look and a try, regardless. Don't underestimate yourself - always give yourself a chance.

The vision I had when I first entered the space drove the project to completion. 

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The last project was completed in the Fall of 2012, when I used the sheets of gold, spray-painted, decorative screen that I had found discarded behind the building - material that is hard to find and comes with a special order price. The Asian-inspired decorative screen was cut into four pieces, framed with wood and fitted into four large windows in the upper part of the wall dividing: the front of shop and treatment room - from the back of shop: Decompression Lounge, Thai matted treatment area, washroom, and storage.

Saying goodbye is one of the things we must learn to do in this life, and we must learn how to do a good job of it, along with all of the other important skills we gain for a happy, healthy, and successful life.

The decorative screens viewed from 
The Decompression Lounge 
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Thank You

I am fortunate to have devoted my career to promoting health. But the therapy is not a one-way street. Being a Massage Therapist and caring for people has brought me out of my introverted self and has given me the opportunity to develop communication skills that have enriched my life. Yes, I value the practical skills that I have gained as a Therapist and as a business owner, but above all, I appreciate that I have had the opportunity to learn the language of love. 

The new owners (an anonymous group of investors - I deal with a property manager), will be gutting the building top to bottom to replace the electrical, plumbing, and the radiator-boiler system. The building is an historic gem and deserves to be restored - I hope they do a good job - I really should be in charge of that project too.

Valentine window - 296 Taché Avenue
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The story continues in Enduring Good 
Part Two: Wisdom....

Clare Isaak

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