Opinion » Alta States

Alta States

Embedded in the culture - from happy hippie to realtor and back again

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It was hard. She owed a lot of money. But with her sense of humour intact, and her love of Whistler still palpable, Jan rolled up her sleeves and set down to the task at hand - re-building her financial world brick-by-heavy-brick. "There was a light at the end of the tunnel after all," she says with a grin. "And a few years later we were right back where we'd started, working our butts off promoting our mountain resort and the new and exciting development, Blackcomb Mountain."

By 1986 Whistler's economy had finally stabilized. "We were on the map and everyone was now talking about this fabulous new mountain resort town featured in Warren Miller movies, and ski and snowboard magazines," she says, the pride in her voice still a witness to the hard work required for her and her cohorts to get back on track. "The new Whistler Village was growing again and it was a very exciting time as we watched our little town being transformed into a European-style pedestrian village of shops and restaurants. Nobody had ever seen anything like it in North America before!"

As it is now (and will probably continue to be), Whistler politics in the 1980's was a hot topic. "Everyone gossiped about the newly created RMOW and who would lead us," says Simpson. "Pat Carleton paved the way for others like Mark Angus, whom we called the Nightmare... because he was mostly seen out at night...and later Drew Meredith and Ted Nebbeling." She smiles. "We tended to support the people who threw the best campaign parties..."

Simpson continued to pursue her realtor trade. Through the fast-improving eighties, and hot-as-chili-pepper-market nineties - and even into the roller-coaster ride of the early 21st century. But by 2008 she'd had enough. Thirty years in the trade. Loads of experience. Contacts up the yinyang. But all Simpson could see on the horizon was greed and greed and more greed. "Bigger was always better," she said. "More realtors. More sales. Smaller commissions - the competition got really stiff. Forget customer relationship or experience or even integrity. It was strictly about sales." She stops talking. Sighs.

"The toxicity of the job was making me sick," she explains. "So I decided to quit."

And just like that her world changed. "I was living alone in a big house," she tells me, "so I decided to get roommates. And it was great." She sold her car, bought a second-hand beater, took up yoga and completely re-focused her priorities. "It's funny, you know - I don't miss the work one bit. No migraines. No hell. No beating myself up over useless issues." She laughs. "I can sleep through the night now without one anxiety attack! Sure, I'm a lot 'poorer' financially. But I'm so much more at peace with myself. Turns out I have everything I need."

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