That’s a no-brainer!

I’ve had an appointment cancel today; which gave me the time to sit and rest a little while. So much to be thankful for! I feel blessed! Being behind the chair for thirty-plus years as a hairdresser, I don’t remember going home with aches and pains. I see that as a privilege; because I hear so many forms of illnesses throughout each day.

In fact, one of my coworkers is leaving the profession at the end of this month; due to health related issues. I am sad; but I know she’s doing the right thing. Most of us hairdressers don’t have a plan B. If and when things don’t work out as planned; we wouldn’t know what else to do. Especially something that could involve and invigorate the creative mind. I pray she’ll manage alright.

I remember breaking my left leg during a bicycle accident and having my entire leg in a cast about eight year ago. I was behind the chair on the third day after the accident; since I couldn’t afford to stay home. My hydraulic chair had been replaced with a stool; just so I could be slightly higher than my customers. My leg remained elevated throughout the day; even though the swelling and the throbbing occasionally became unbearable. But what else is there to do? Life has many lemons. And we, as heaven-bound sojourners, keep making lemonade. God provides. Thankfulness adds. Complaining subtracts. That’s a no-brainer! Blessings to you…

Alis Cerrahyan

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Betty Benson I Knew

There have been so many stories written about my dear friend Betty Benson. Her life was tabloid-worthy from childhood on. While she was still a little girl, she got caught between her parents, during a fierce custody battle. Her mother was awarded with Betty’s care; so they moved to Virginia Beach.

Betty was tall, slim, and beautiful. At some point in her life, she started to receive countless offers from a New York modeling agency, until some day, she caught the attention of Sam Spiegel, Hollywood’s most iconic producer. She became his third wife and led the most fantastically surreal life ever possible. Sam’s shark-like personality and Oscars-worthy obnoxiousness redesigned Betty’s attributes. According to her close friend George Hamilton’s autobiography DON’T MIND IF I DO, Betty Benson Spiegel who always liked to be where the action was, in actuality, was too modest to admit the action was wherever she showed up.

After her husband’s death, Mrs. Spiegel moved back to Virginia Beach and married her second husband, Mr. David Resnik. He was the agent to many celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman… just to name a few. Betty and David were the happiest two people I’ve ever known. They were like little kids around one another.

I believe Betty’s only earthly nightmare happened when David died. She was already eighty-two and broken to pieces for the first time as she put it, “I’m too old to get over this Alis.”

I laid next to her as she moved the mahogany box filled with David’s ashes, and rested my head on what would’ve been David’s pillow. Betty was bedridden. She rarely left her bed, only to cruise around in her electric wheelchair. We talked for a long time.

I finally discovered her main torment when she said, “I’ll miss him eternally.” I said, “Honey, God’s grace and mercy will take care of this. Please don’t worry.” That’s when she told me she wasn’t a believer; that she didn’t know God. I said, “Sure you do…and I’ll prove it to you.” She looked at me with this “You must be the craziest person I have ever known…” kind of look. I didn’t let her looks intimidate me. I asked, “Did you love David with all of your heart? Did you do all you could to see him happy?” She answered, “Of course I did.” Then I asked, “Where do you think that love came from? You know God is love…and love is God. Without Him, we could never experience the limitless and unconditional love…” No one had ever told her that, in order to experience one of God’s attributes, we must possess a portion of Him inside of us. She was bewildered, yet hopeful all at the same time. So I offered the prayer of salvation, and told her she didn’t need to repeat after me, so long as she was in agreement with me. At the end of the prayer, I heard her deep sigh, as she said, “Amen.”

Betty Benson Spiegel Resnik was instantly filled with joy and gratefulness. With tears streaming down her sunken cheeks, she said, “God is good.” She continued to call me two three times a week to keep me up to date with all of the awful news about this world, since she knew I didn’t watch TV. And I still don’t. She kept telling me about her constant prayers over those poor innocent people who were struck with the disasters of this fallen world.

I believe Betty noticed them because of the intense darkness she experienced after her husband’s death. And I believe her prayers made a difference. We might shun the shadows of this world; but often, they are necessary elements that lead us to the sunlight. Betty lived another two years after that, and continued to grow as a prayer warrior. I miss her for the time being but never eternally. I know where she is.

Alis Cerrahyan

Healthy Impatience, by Jennifer Baker.

Jennifer Baker, DirectorCareerHQ.org wrote, “I was listening to the Marketplace Report on my local NPR station – one of my favorite ways to occupy my mind during my commute, aside from paying attention to the road, of course. An entrepreneur was being interviewed and the interviewer asked him if he was aware of his reputation for impatience. The entrepreneur responded that he was, but in his case it was a ‘healthy impatience.’

This characterization really struck me because, typically, impatience is not a quality to be proud of. In fact, it’s often associated with being a ‘Type A personality’ and, when chronic, can lead to an increased risk of health problems. Healthy impatience seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

I have since done some digging and found that, in fact, some levels of impatience can actually be good for us. In a 2010 story on the topic, Linton Weeks, National Correspondent for NPR Digital News writes:

Impatience can be a virtue. The country’s Founding Fathers were an impatient lot. In an 1822 letter, John Adams described the writing of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We were all in haste,’ he said of the drafting committee, which included Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. ‘Congress was impatient.’

You can also find references to healthy impatience in the world of higher education and in the realm of Parent Teacher organizations, and Bill and Melinda Gates believe in the value of healthy impatience so much they’ve adopted a version of it for their Foundation’s website address – www.impatientoptimists.org.

In all cases, healthy impatience seems to be about having a clear vision and the ability to effectively corral resources to execute on that vision. It also seems be about not taking ‘no’ or ‘it can’t be done’ as the final word. And, most importantly, it seems be about knowing when to temper the eagerness and restlessness of impatience with the calmness of patience so that people and principles don’t get trampled.

This concept of healthy impatience strikes me as particularly useful in the world of associations which can, let’s face it, be a bastion for the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ and the ‘we’ve never done it that way’ mindsets. What if we were all to bring some healthy impatience to the table? Who knows?

•    Perhaps, more of our career centers would be showing up on our associations’ main website pages.

•    Or, maybe, just maybe, we would find a way to get a full page spread for our career centers in our membership and media kits versus just short bullets on pages 13 and 23 respectively.

•    Or what about this, we might raise the profile of our career centers high enough that our colleagues start coming to us to figure out how to more effectively use them as on-ramps to greater engagement with our organizations.

As the pastor of a big church here in my area says as the sign-off to his weekly radio addresses…not a sermon, just a thought.”

Staying home

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This snow storm has devastated the entire Virginia Beach area. I have no problem staying home on the weekends. I kind of look forward to it. And I don’t care to run to the grocery store for this and that. But realizing I can’t leave home, even if I wanted to, makes me a bit uneasy.

So I decided to play a new/old game this morning. I’m going to call it “Who Do I Want To Be.” When I was a little girl, I wished I was given a different name like Monica or Claudia. Alis was short and sounded boring. In fact I wasn’t at all against an entire identity change either. In my room, after having put everything away, as it was mandatory to do so, I assumed different roles such as a queen, a princess, or a professor… I pretended to have a presence that mattered to others. I demanded love and respect; things that didn’t quite come unconditionally in my family unit. Deep down inside, I was trying to make a difference for others, as well as for myself.

This morning, I’d like to make an inventory of my life, and slip my feet into those tiny little pink slippers I used to love, and decide who I’d rather be, in order to see some serious changes. Remember… I am not sixty for the time being. I am very young. In fact I’m so young that I would even shake the portable radio every once in a while, so the poor newscasters and entertainers would fall out, just to prove me right.

First of all, I would eliminate most vegetables from my diet. No more spinach, okra, or btussel sprouts! Oh, but I have already done that. Next, I would indulge in cookies and desserts. Well, I’ve been doing that too. I would quit school and study only what interests me. Check! I would travel and see different parts of the world. Been doing that too. I would treat my kids as adults, instead of telling them not to speak until spoken to. I believe I’ve mastered that one already. They are my equal. They seem not to have any problem, when and if we all need to address an issue. I’d also like to hire a maid, since I still dislike household chores; such as dusting, scrubbing toilets, etc. I haven’t done that!

It’s after the holidays. If all I need is a maid, I guess my life isn’t all that bad. I don’t need a new identity for that. I don’t need a new name either. Alis will do. Wishing you a Happy and a Prosperous New Year. Thank you for reading.

Alis Cerrahyan

What life isn’t

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I have an inquiring mind. I always study and try to learn. I’ve always asked, “Is this all there is to it? What is the purpose? We are born. We learn. We grow. We die.” Yet asking what life is all about hasn’t led me to as many answers as asking what life isn’t about did.

First of all, we are born into a family where there is love. But with love, there is pain and disappointment; unless we learn how to love unconditionally. There are rewards for good behaviors; but there are also circumstances we cannot erase for those not so good behaviors.

I believe every family unit has a set of dysfunctions. They’re never fun. And there is a difference between mentioning them with sadness and hope, and trying to cover them with love and compassion, versus using them as a knife to cut someone. If you’re that type, please don’t ask how those words slipped. They usually have a way of spilling out, if they’ve taken residence in your heart.

So the bottom line is, life isn’t something we measure and value based on what we think it ought to be. It isn’t limited. It isn’t still enough for us to weigh. It isn’t light enough for us to carry. It isn’t transparent enough for us to see all of its details. It isn’t simple enough for us to explain its many facets. Life isn’t unless we’re living it fully.

I pray for those who have not understood the dynamics of a true family that chooses to stand together through it all. I pray they will have a renewed heart and learn to appreciate the awesome love that binds all of its members into eternity; without a discriminating word.

This little one on the swing is my only grandson Zane. He’s a year old. I hope I’ll be around long enough to answer some of those questions for him. And who knows, maybe by then, I might have few more answers. Blessings…

Alis Cerrahyan

This morning

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This is the view from my front porch. It rarely snows in Virginia Beach. So it is a bittersweet experience. We enjoy looking at it; but because the city isn’t equipped to clear it away, driving is a huge problem.

I’m a hairdresser. I know customers will cancel their appointments today. Who can blame them? But I had to be at the shop, just so I would answer the phone when they called.

So I’m sitting in my chair, with a cup of coffee in my hand, looking out and staring at this beautiful white picture. I’m awake; but not really; because I know it’ll be a long day with no customers to work on. However, I have this incredible sense of gratitude I feel I must express.

What can I be grateful for this morning? I am alive and well! I have a healthy body/mind that can’t be bothered with outward conditions. I take this God-given life very seriously. And through every stage of it, I’m proud to announce He’s humbled me with further goodness and accomplishments. I’m sixty. Yet I feel as though my life has just begun. And every morning is another new beginning.

I’m grateful for having two beautiful children – inside and out – who continue to look up to me, love and support me; even though some of my past mistakes could’ve been life altering. They’ve always been there for me, just as I’ve done with them.

I’m grateful for this business I’ve owned for twenty seven years. It provided for my kids and I; as well as for my parents. I didn’t think I could last twenty seven days when I was signing the lease, let alone twenty seven years. Every moment of it has been a blessing. Mistakes were made along the way, but nothing debilitating.

I’m also grateful for having a book published – Dance Like Nobody’s Watching – since this one appeared out of nowhere. Many people have asked, “How did you find a publisher? Do you know how hard it is to find one?” My response was and still is, “I didn’t even know I had written a book!” I was simply asking a customer of mine if she would kindly read a few pages of my journal and give some constructive criticism. I had known her for more than twenty years, but didn’t realize she was an editor until she mentioned it that one particular day. She quickly contacted me back and said, “Whatever this is Alis, I will publish it for you!!!” I’m still baffled every time I go on amazon and read the reviews. It almost feels like they could be talking about someone else; because it’s a bit hard to comprehend I could write well enough in English, since I’m an immigrant.

My coffee is no longer hot. I need to refill my cup. But my heart is warm with fond memories God blessed me with; the many fearful stages that turned into victories; and most of all, with so much more ahead to be grateful for. Because with Him…there’s only good! I pray I’m contagious this morning!

Alis Cerrahyan

Daddy

I had an amazing time during Christmas break. Both my children came home and stayed a week. My only brother drove for thirteen hours with his three children as well. It was about nine of us, huddled and happy, for ten days.

Our final night together was the most magical one, as we all tried to savor every minute of it. We lingered at the table for hours, telling jokes and laughing, and making great memories. By the time everyone went to bed, I was left with a massive amount of dishes. They quickly found their way to the dishwasher, as the leftovers were being snugly tucked away into the fridge.

I finally turned off all the lights, sat on the sofa – the sofa that had been my bed for over a week, since all bedrooms were being occupied by the guests – and admired the lights on the Christmas tree. Peace filled my heart. I said a quick prayer, thanking God for the awesome blessing. I also mentioned daddy saying, “He would’ve been proud of us tonight…I wish he could’ve seen us…” Daddy passed away ten years ago. He was seventy eight. The thought of him still warms my heart. My eyes were teary for a second, as I pulled the covers over my head and fell asleep on the sofa.

The next morning, my son woke up first, and said, “Good morning… you two sure were having a good ole time on the sofa last night.” He smiled. “Us two?” I asked. He said, “You and your brother. I got up to use the bathroom and saw you two chatting away. He was doing most of the talking though.” I asked, “Were the lights on?” He said,”No…just the Christmas tree lights.” Then I told him that by that time everyone had already gone to bed; that I too was asleep; and that it was most likely our daddy who had visited us just to let us know he was proud of us.

You see, daddy and my brother sound alike. It would be hard to tell them apart. I truly believe, even though I didn’t get a chance to see him in person, daddy wanted for us to know he was still very much a part of our family. So it would be fair to conclude that he was my first visitor this year, the early morning of New Year’s Day. What a blessing! God is good!

Alis Cerrahyan

Daily Prompt: Float

via Daily Prompt: Float

Being extremely delicate and sensitive as a kid, just about anything and everything intimidated me growing up. I remember having panic attacks if and when a friend of mine would reprimand me over something silly. I didn’t know how to defend myself. All I did was to lock myself into my bedroom and cry bitter tears, until I no longer could.

One of the memories  from those frightening years is the fact that occasionally I dreamt of being in water – unclean water – where I would struggle just to be able to float little longer, until I would make it to the shore. And occasionally, I would have a little baby on my back; as if I was also trying to swim to a place of safety for both of us. Most of this – I now know – was because of dysfunctional family issues; where the little me was trying, desperately, to protect a much younger sibling.

The other nightmare was about falling into a vast emptiness; a bottomless pit and total darkness. This one was far worse. So I guess after a while, I learned to appreciate the earlier episodes where trying to float within muddy waters didn’t bother me as much as it used to.

Today, those have become distant memories. I’m thankful that, both my brother and I, didn’t put our children through unnecessary torments. Forgiveness has wiped everything clean; and if anything, we both chose to demonstrate how it should’ve been all along by treating our children with unconditional love. Time and patience make quite a team when inner cleansing becomes a must.

Daily Prompt: Interior

via Daily Prompt: Interior

I remember a time when appearances were extremely important to me. My space had to be tidy and clean, and organized, and color coordinated, and spotless, etc. I couldn’t relax and enjoy my surroundings unless everything was in order. The same applied to my clothing, my hair, and my make-up. I needed to look and feel impressive. For some reason, others’ opinion of me meant a lot.

I’m certainly glad I’ve shed a good portion of such insecurities that caused me to second guess myself almost all the time. Life’s harsh lessons and disappointments helped me develop an inner strength I didn’t know was possible; especially for me; because I was very timid as a kid. Then I realized my opinion of who I was mattered just as much. And in time, as I started heeding the inner voice that whispered words of wisdom, I placed less and less emphasis on trying to please others.

Today, I’m quite happy to announce that most of those life altering weaknesses have been buried; and I’m no longer concerned about appearances. For me, the inner peace and worth are far more valuable than looking and sounding impressive. The exterior can be deceiving. It’s a facade. Yet the interior hides eternal goods that can only be seen and appreciated by a caring soul.