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When I was five years old, Sharla Bush spotted my long, blonde hair and smocked dress at church one Sunday and determined I would marry her son. A friendship between myself and both her children–Rex and Laura–ensued, and my childhood is dotted with wonderful memories of their family. A marriage between Rex and myself never happened, although he did hit on me as an adult one night in Dallas before he realized it was me.

Childhood memories are funny things. Were things truly how our innocent minds remember them? Was it really that big? That bright? That beautiful? Or, was the truth skewed in our childhood desires for circumstances to be greater, more positive than how they actually were?

Well, I know Sharla very well as an adult, and I can honestly say, Sharla’s greatness in my memories are nothing short of fact.

I remember…

Sharla always wore pretty nightgowns. Her home was always clean and smelled lovely.  It wasn’t uncommon to find giant world maps or Venus Fly Traps on their kitchen table, and both Rex and Laura knew how to play chess and the violin–which they attempted to teach me. All I remember now is a pawn can move two spaces on the first move, and the horse can move in the shape of an “L”.

Her children ate sushi. As kids!! They had savings accounts which George, their father, helped them manage and they understood the concept of money beyond counting change in their piggy banks as I did…….Truly, it was like some sort of fairy land with beautiful kids and fun games and delicious food and a funny Dad, and Sharla presided over it all as the Fairy Queen.

Eleven years ago Sharla opened her cosmetic and bath apothecary on the downtown McKinney Square. I began working for her in 2007, and although at the time it didn’t occur to me I would be receiving an education as a shop girl, the lessons learned from Sharla Bush on life and style (“Don’t fight with your husband, Lauren. It’s trashy.“–is my favorite) was in some ways more valuable than my private, sorority-ruled education at TCU. Sharla’s desire to live beautifully coupled with her boundless faith in God is remarkable.

There is a statement I’ve heard Sharla say many, many times: “I want women to live beautifully from the top of their heads to the soles of their feet.” For Sharla, Living Beautifully is all encompassing. For Sharla, Living Beautifully is acknowledging and respecting the Lord’s gifts.  It’s being her best. It’s creating her best. It is sharing beautiful living with others as a way to bless them. It is her way of worshiping the Lord.

When I asked Sharla what it means to her to live beautifully, this was her response:

“To live beautifully is to make every aspect of your life important. Every day is a gift and we need to treat it as such.”

Is every aspect of your life important? What do the important parts look like? More importantly, what do the insignificant parts look like? Do they look as beautiful as you wish?

While working for Sharla, I noted she was not driven by beautiful clients who also live beautifully. It has never been a game of attempting to keep up with or one-up another who shares her life motto of beautiful living. No. She is driven by those who appeared to have given up. The ones whose life had taken its toll on them. The ones who had let themselves go. It is these women whom Sharla wants to reach, to help, to inspire. She wants to bless them. She wants to believe in them. And so many women need that.

“We should do an assessment of our spiritual state, our health, our appearance and our family relationships often, and decide if we are moving forward or backward. These areas of life don’t really have a neutral gear. It’s going one way or the other.”

What would our lives look like if we were to take Sharla’s advice and complete an assessment like this every few months? Would you find you are in a neutral state? Are you moving forward? What does happiness look like to you? Is that vision what you see every day, or is it a dream-like musing noted with someday or what if disclaimers?

Several years ago, a large group of us traveled from North Texas to Napa Valley for Laura’s wedding. I remember watching her walk down the rose petal aisle. Her eyes never once left her groom. Unbridled, all consuming love shone from her bright eyes and radiant smile. After witnessing these unguarded moments between my old friend and her intended, I prayed for James and Caleb to find wives that love them with that kind of abandon. In May, I saw that exact look of love and devotion shining from Sharla’a eyes as she watched Laura welcome guests to her mother’s 60th birthday party. I now know where Laura learned to feel and express the depth of that kind of love.

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Sharla Bush is the ultimate woman of faith and style. She will never retire, “Retire!? What? Why would I do that when playing dress up in my makeup store is so much fun?” She is the courier, the attachè and the first lady of class and sophistication and fashion and culture, and has raised the bar on our downtown square to heights never before imagined for our once sleepy North Texas suburb.

Had we given speeches at Sharla’s birthday in May, I would have most definitely stood up and toasted my Fairy godmother…

To Sharla Bush: my dearest Boss Lady, a friend, inspiration, woman of faith, icon, style maven, fellow appreciator of curse words, wine enthusiast, devoted wife, loving mother and muse to us all;

May our clutches be small and colorful;

May our scarves be numerous and French in origin.

May our heels be high.

May our wine be expensive.

and may our tickets always read First Class.

May our dedication to the Lord, to Love, and to all things Exquisite be even a tenth as strong as yours is as we all strive to
Live Beautifully.

Cheers to you!

sharlalauren

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And here are a few pictures of how we lived beautifully at Sharla’s 60th Birthday…

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*All hats pictured were made by Frederic Marzi and of course are available at Sharla’s.

*Sharla wore a custom Nardos Imam dress (remember from Mad Hatters!)

-ciao for now-

lauren

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