Dream of a Lifetime

Paradise Garden

Paradise Garden

“Hello! Welcome! Hair cut today? Nails?”

“Yes,” I said, actually only coming in for a hair trim.

“Five, maybe 10 minutes. You come sit and relax.” She directed me to a comfortable chair with controls to massage my back… patiently waiting until I sat down, she set up the controls and asked if ok. Nodding, I agreed.

Sitting back in the lovely salon massage chair, I waited my turn to have a hair trim. Originally, I hadn’t planned on having a manicure, but I was so grateful sitting there that I considered it. Stressed and tired, my intention was to ensure the scalp massage, hair wash and new style to feel better. Yet, her friendly open manner had instantly made me feel at home in her care. Sonia (not her real name) was the owner, a most congenial person, and the most customer-sensitive person. Her husband Bob (not his real name) worked with her and could do nails as well as all the other wonderful duties required in such a business.

“Tea? Green tea okay?” Bob asked me.

“Yes, thank you.” I smiled. Wow. I hadn’t expected that!

“Here you go.  Haircut and Pedicure today?”

“No, I’m having a hair trim.”

“Okay. Good. Sonia is good. You’ll like it. Let me know if you need anything.”

Relaxing, enjoying my green tea, I felt the simple pleasure of being cared for. Such a nice celebration of human spirit. Looking around, I saw the same satisfied look on the other faces, men and women.  Lots of interaction. Although the ladies performing the pedicures, manicures and hair dressing didn’t speak perfect English, they were all such good listeners. When the door jingled, they jumped up to attend to every person, old, young, male, female. Made no difference. Every person was treated with the exact same helping of kindness, “Hello! How are you? Come in, come in. Haircut? Manicure/Pedicure?”

It felt good to sit here. Such a warm, inviting atmosphere. I’ve heard that Starbucks strives to give each customer at least a few moments of intent attention. It feels good to go there, too.

Soon it was time to have my hair trimmed. Sonia came over smiling, and beckoned me over to the station where everything was neat and waiting.  She worked so fluidly moving between customers.

“Okay, tell me what you want?” She stood paying close attention. Then she asked me if she could also do some “new” ideas, too. Nodding my head, I was pretty open to anything from this angel of relaxation. By the time I left I was glad! I felt beautiful inside and out. (Yes, I got the manicure and pedicure.)

It’s been over a dozen years now, and Sonia and I have enjoyed many haircuts over the years together. Both she and her husband know how many children I have, and ask about grandchildren. Such a sweet relationship. Yet, I was curious about how she got here… to the USA, so I asked. She smiled, and began the story.

Sonia was a young girl in a war torn country. Life was hard and there were no luxuries… at least not in her home. It was tough enough to get simple necessities… like food.  In her small village, her mother gave her a few coins and she and her siblings would buy a sweet potato, which was cooked by a local vendor on the way to school. This was to serve as her first and second meal of the day. Her family was poor, and she felt it right on down to her only two sets of clothes. One to clean and one to go out to school.

After so many years of watching her father with no work, her mother trying to make money any way she could, and her own hard labor as a child, she decided she would find a way out. Her memory was fresh about how lush and green she remembered the country of her birth, but how poverty made life so difficult.

Now, I wish to mention that Sonia was in a war-torn country that our soldiers had impacted. You can use whatever you have in your head to argue what this means, but the hard, cold fact is that life was destroyed for her family and friends, and people had nothing.  American soldiers, however, had filled their heads with tales of a country of great bounty. Stories of the great America! It sounded like paradise! “You should go to America,” her father told her. “You should go to America when you can.” She agreed.

The day came when an escape was possible. They were refugees. A boat would leave at 7pm and head into the ocean, carrying many people… a storm in the near future. Yet, the opportunity to leave was like a sweet call to paradise. She arranged for her voyage and her younger brother to go. She feared plans could change so she only told her mother on the day of the boat. Can you imagine hearing this from your child? In their case, it was the only hope for an improved life. They said good-bye to their family, not knowing when they’d see eachother next (turned out seven years).



They headed out of their home, Taking what little money they had, purchased better clothes, and with nothing more headed to an unknown land for an unknown possibility… all based on possibilities. As things go, the boat actually launched and the small vessel was tossed in the seas, and she found herself terrified, but holding strong for the others consisted of many children. She made a promise, “One day I will have children who will live a better life.”

There is so much more to the story, including threats of being imprisoned by the Chinese, the rolling waves of an ocean with a tiny boat, refugee camps she lived in for months, and the hurdles she jumped to learn our customs and become a citizen. She did it all. She did it well.  Maybe this is why her customer service skills are so amazing.

I listened to the dream of a lifetime from this tiny lady, so strong, so courageous!

Sonia’s daughter is about to graduate after four years at university, studying to be a doctor. She is a kind and gentle spirit, and worked hard for the scholarships she won with high grades and work with people in missions. Sonia’s son works and attends university. Parents are proud.

“You should write a book,” the other beautician says in her Tualatin Salon.

“I will,” Sonia smiles. When my daughter and son graduate, I will tell them that this is the success that I dreamed of a lifetime. They complete my dream.

Okay… this gives one person’s dream. They couldn’t see what was going to happen, but they had a dream… it took over 30 years, but it’s real.  Take a moment and think about your dream. Impossible? How could you make it possible? Be strong. Be courageous. Dream big. Now, go get your dream!

Feel free to give Cat or Rich a call if we can help you get your dream started. We’ll look forward to hearing from you.