Sunday, April 11, 2021

A goddess of living love

revisited from la Vie Sirene

I posted a content call asking Siren School students to nominate a woman whom they felt was a modern goddess incarnate. The following is the first response I received, and certainly the most passionate. After reading about the siren in question, I understood what all the fuss was about, and decided to feature her on our cover. If ever there was a goddess of unconditional love, it is Alev Johnson.

"Good morning! I am the siren that nominated Alev Johnson. How can I possibly write about her without making it sound like I'm gushing, or writing a puff piece about a friend? Simply put, I can't. I do know Alev personally and just last night I was thinking that I'm so fortunate to know her because she is one of the most fascinating people I know. Alev is as you stated, gorgeous, but in addition she is also a very intelligent, sophisticated, and classy lady, with delicate and refined taste. She's incredibly sexy, romantic, and sensuous, as well. In addition, she''s creative, funny, kind, caring, down-to-earth, and one of the most dedicated and hardest working mothers I know. These are the obvious adjectives and nouns that describe her—it's hard not to notice these things about her immediately. However, what I love and admire most about this charming and lovely lady is her love and devotion for her daughter. She has been a single parent since her daughter's birth. Alev has made great sacrifices and overcome difficult challenges for her daughter. 
Now her daughter is an intelligent, beautiful, polite, and well-mannered young lady, who is graduating from high school with very high marks and going on to a university of her choice, to study Animal Science because she loves animals and wishes to be a veterinarian. Alev couldn't be prouder of her daughter. When she speaks of her, she literally beams with obvious pride and joy, and of course, she should. This is the most obvious thing about Alev, her love for her daughter, but this wonderful mother has many sides to her and all of them are quite interesting and fascinating. What fascinates and intrigues me most about her is her dancing. She is a belly dancer. She designs and creates her own costumes, as well as her own line of jewelry! This is one ambitious lady. When she's not busy with her daughter's projects, she is in the middle of many of her own projects. She is also a very kind and caring friend, who saves dogs from being put to sleep, always gives simple, yet great advice, and always has a smile and maintains a positive attitude and outlook on life and would like to open a project to assist the homeless population in Long Beach, CA as well as own her own blues lounge someday. And last, what I love most about this beautiful lady is her ability to be soft and vulnerable. In a world that celebrates being tough and harsh, Alev is humble and soft, the sweetest and affectionate, most willing to be vulnerable person I know. This is why I nominate her to be GODDESS." ~Erica

Please note while enjoying Alev's impassioned answers, that English is not even her native language!  Yet another mind-boggling achievement of this living goddess.

Let's start with the toughest question first. Why do you think your friend Erica nominated you to be her choice as the woman she knows who best expresses the term goddess?

She always told me how much she respected me and admired me as a dancer, but also for being a strong individual and a loving mother -- for working hard to make ends meet while raising my daughter to become a sweet, kind, smart and loving young lady :)

Erica mentioned that by far and away the most important thing in your life is your daughter. Based on your appearance I expected you to have a toddler, but I learned she is graduating from high school! What can you tell us about her and the way you've raised her?

Yes, my daughter is my life, my everything! The moment I was pregnant with her, she was my guardian angel and I knew that my life was going to be filled with lots of love from her.

I left her biological father when she was 9 months old and moved with her to the US when she was 4 1/2 years old. I was a very strict mother. I believe that respect, courtesy and manners should be taught to children at a very early age. I taught her to eat with a knife and fork as soon as she could eat on her own, always taught her to respect others, young or old. I always explained to her that she can only get respect by earning it. Always to treat everyone as she would want to be treated. I never mothered her but gave her lots of love, telling her everyday how loved she is, how proud I was and still am, always kissed her good morning and goodnight, and was always honest with her with anything she would ask about.

She wanted to dance at the age of 6, so I enrolled her at a dance studio and she has been dancing ever since. From classical ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern, tap, Flamenco and even Persian dance till age 13. Then we moved from L.A. to Long Beach and she continued dance at the Renaissance Performing Arts HS, which she will graduated from on June 13th as valedictorian!!! And she will be attending UCSB this August! I can't be more proud!!!!

You do so many things: perform belly dance professionally, design costumes, model, sell your own line of custom-made jewelry, advocate for homeless humans and animals alike... not to mention raising a child as a single mother, how do you do it all? 

Before I moved to the US, I was an immigration officer in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. When I moved here, my whole life felt like it collapsed -- culture shock, hard to find work, especially when you have no family or real friends and a little child. But I never gave up and knew i could make ends meet with dignity.

I started working by passing out flyers for a restaurant with my daughter next to me (no one to watch her) which was one of the hardest times in my life. But then I started making friends and spreading the word that I was looking for work. I worked as a hostess, a server, then as an assistant loan officer and as a second job (besides office work), I was working 5 nights as a bellydancer. By that time my daughter was going to school. I would pick her up, make dinner, get her ready for bed, then went off to work at night.

I maintained two fulltime jobs for about a year and a half till I physically burned out. I decided to continue my belly dance profession and quit my day job so I could be there for my daughter, because i barely got to spend time with her. I created my own business cards and started to advertise my dancing and started dancing at private events, restaurants and night clubs. I couldn't afford to buy my costumes so I made them myself including the accessories, and that's how I started my own line of jewelry.

Clearly, all of your activities come from your overflowing heart and creative soul. Are there any projects that you've yearned to take on or experiences you'd like to try?

I love anything creative, from gardening, jewelry/costume making, painting, carpentry, you name it! Love them all! What I would love to do is learn to play the saxophone and travel! I haven't been able to travel and take a vacation in over 7 years and miss it so much! I also have jewelry making with soldering and molds on my wish list, would love to have more options and use my creativity on a higher level.

What do you do in all your 'free' time *wink*? 

Besides all that, I make some time for myself to enjoy the sun, my back yard (I love gardening) and spending quality time with my daughter. In the mornings have my coffee, check my emails, pay bills, take care of my two wonderful dogs, clean the house, run errands and later at night off to work.

Many women face the challenges similar to those you've experienced, but not all have come through them wtih such elan. What advice can you give women who are struggling with challenges?

It wasn't easy, but I feel proud and strong and believe that if I can do it, even without having a college degree, all women and mothers can do it! As long as you set your mind to it and have the will to succeed and love your child more than anything and truly want to raise them by not just feeding, dressing or housing them, but also by teaching them the value of life and that anything we want we need to earn and all is well worth it!

Follow Alev on Twitter

As a mother, what would you like to whare with the generations of women who will follow you? 

For those wonderful women and mothers out there I would like to say:

  • Enjoy everyday, spend as much time with your loved ones and your children as you can
  • Teach your children the value of life and give them the freedom in making there own choices, but guide them through it so there choices are wise. Give them lots of love, praise them when they do good but let them earn the praise
  • Be a full time mother but yet make time for yourself to enjoy what you love to do
  • Know that even when hard times hit you, don’t give up because I do believe that the sun will shine after the rain
  • Have your pride, but allow a helping hand when its handed to you through hard times
  • Believe in yourself and your instincts. They will never fail you!
  • Respect yourself, and allow yourself to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and don’t make the same mistakes
  • And listen to your children and show them that there opinion counts and is respected. Believe it or not, when you respect your children they will respect you back. I always told my daughter to obey my wishes out of respect and not out of fear. That way they trust you in sharing what goes on in their life, mind and heart.

Wishing all the wonderful women out there a blessed and successful life filled with love, joy and peace!!!

When I wrote to Erica to let her know that I'd interviewed Alev and how touching I found her answers, Erica responded with words too heartwarming not to share in conclusion: 

"Alev is all love. She always makes everyone feel so incredibly welcome!! My gosh, I've never experienced so much genuine love and affection from anyone before!! Everytime she sees you, she envelops you as if she hasn't seen you in years when she just saw you a couple of weeks ago!! She gives these wonderful hugs and you always want to keep going back, just to have someone celebrate you that way. Everyone who knows her has nothing but love for her. All she ever speaks of is her pride and joy, her daughter. Once she mentioned that that when her daughter went away to college, she was going to travel. I am very excited for her and keep wondering which will be the very first destination she visits. I hope she goes, although I'll miss her terribly when she does. I hope all her wishes come true."