Sunday, February 27, 2011

Life Lessons from La Belle Amie


I spoke these words at my beautiful friends Celebration of Life November 2010.
This is dedicated to Lisa Ryan...La Belle Amie..."My Beautiful Friend"

28 years ago, 25 year old Lisa gave 20 year old Tonya, her first hairstylist job.
Little did I know the friendship that would develop and the lessons I would learn from this beautiful boss of mine!!
Lisa Lessons – there are many but here are my favorite 4
1. Make it happen
Do what you have to do in life to make "it" happen for yourself. Don't wait around for your dreams to just fall into your lap. You can't expect someone else to do the work for you. What you achieve
in life is totally dependent on how bad you want it! Lisa taught me to use the resources I have available to make it happen, whether it’s touching up hair with mascara because that's all you had at the time, hammering in a nail with the heel of your shoe because that's what was handy or standing strong when times got tough!
As I sat in my booth day after day at the salon watching her work, I quickly realized I was given the opportunity to learn from the best. So I took full advantage of it and tried to emulate and store away what she did in order to be successful.
My beautiful friend didn’t focus on the money. She always focused on treating each client special and listening to their individual needs while teaching them along the way. She was a true believer in the more you give, the more you will receive. Her philosophy was..do the right thing, please the client, and everything else will fall into place. She did "it" right...she paved the way for others like me and she
Made it Happen!
2. Only the best
La Belle Amie, my beautiful friend, did everything first class- in business, in decorating, in friendship..didn’t matter... only the best!!!
Years ago, when she was a bridesmaid in my first wedding, she made everything so special for me. The night of my bachelorette party, my friends and I were wondering who was going to do all the driving for the night and Lisa said..."no worries!" We then stepped outside and there sat a bright shiny stretch limo...Lisa...only the best!!
After years of working with her in the salon, she decided to open a day spa. She asked me if I would like to help her with this adventure. Of course, I was honored and thrilled to be a part of this next chapter with her. Once again I was awed by her knowledge and expertise of doing "it" right!
Lisa would instruct and teach me along the way. She would tell me, "if at all possible, you should never cut corners, do it correct the first time and you won't have to keep returning over and over to redo your efforts." She knew that people were drawn to beauty and excellence. Therefore she made the surroundings beautiful and therefore the people came. And because of Lisa's touch, the moment anyone stepped into the spa, they felt special.
Which brings me to my third Lisa Lesson...
3. Set the Ambiance
Lisa had a way of setting the ambiance...she had "the" special touch!
She could take anything that was plain and simple, like her RV and make it beautiful! Who would think to put beads and fringe around a plastic light to make it look better...she would...and after she was through with putting her touch to "it"...it would look like a million bucks even though it may have only cost her pennies! Even though she believed in making it the best, she made do with what she had. Once again, she made "it" happen!
One of Lisa's greatest gifts was knowing how to set the ambiance in order to make others feel special.
When she was creating the spa she would tell me, "Now I think we need to paint an outdoor scene of flowers and butterflies on this wall so when the client is relaxing they can escape to the peacefulness of nature. Then when they’re in this room getting a massage, I think we need a fireplace and we will fill it with candles giving the room a warm glow to make the client feel more at home."
My wise friend was always striving to make it the best that she could in order for others to feel special. What a gift the Lisa "touch" was to so many people including me on several occasions.
One such occasion was 8 years ago when I married the love of my life. We were spending our wedding night in "France" at 7F Lodge before leaving for our honeymoon. After arriving at "France", we opened the door and instantly I knew..."the Lisa touch" had been there making it special just for me...
rose petals everywhere, candles going, French music playing and a chilled bottle of champagne waiting for us to enjoy in our crystal...Waterford (remember nothing but the best) goblets.
La Belle Amie had taken the effort to set the ambiance up for me in order to make the night that much more special. The room was such a reflection of her heart...
Full of Love!
4. Live...laugh...love
To me, this was Lisa’s Life Lesson!!
Live - She was Queen of this...she lived life to the fullest! Even after finding out 8 years ago that she had ovarian cancer, it did not diminish her zest for life. She remained positive and strong while continuing to live every moment to the fullest. Even as the disease progressed, she stood strong and was such an inspiration to me.
One day several months ago, I called to check on her because I knew she had not been feeling well and I thought I would find her laying around feeling weak and sad (because that is what I probably would be doing if I was in her shoes!)
Well...I should have known better.
When she answered she said in her sweet lively voice, "Hey Miss T, can I call you back in a little bit? I”m out at Jason’s Deli having lunch and getting ready to go away on a girl’s weekend."
It made my heart smile knowing that even in the midst of her storm, she, like the energizer bunny, was still going!!! Living each second, each minute, each moment to the fullest! As it should be!!!
Laugh - Oh the laughter we have shared! I loved making her laugh! She would tell me all the time, "Miss T...you so funny!!!" We shared many moments filled with fun and laughter. There was always a sparkle when she was around. You never saw Lisa that she didn’t have that gorgeous smile on her face. To me, even in the last few months of her life, she began to radiate even more from within. Lisa’s smile and laughter was contagious. And her attitude was always positive and uplifting.
Years ago when I was raising two young children on my own, I would look at her life and think, boy she has it made! She is a successful business owner, she has money to travel and jet set around, she’s beautiful, she has lovely “stuff” and she’s carefree! (which to a mom of two young children..this appeared to be heaven.)
So, when I told her how I was feeling she quickly reminded me to never think the grass is greener! Her wise words of wisdom to me were, “Yes, but you have something that I don’t have and probably never will. You have two beautiful lives that are here on this earth because of you." She then continued to tell me how she loved watching me mother my children and what an awesome Mom she thought I was. My sweet friend...keeping me grounded...always giving to me..filling me up! Even though Lisa never physically gave life, she was superb at breathing life into those around her, most definitely the ultimate giver.
Love this was second nature for Lisa
She did this as easily as she breathed.
She loved life.
She loved nature. – butterflies, sunsets, cardinals
She loved beauty and surrounded herself with it always.
She loved people and within 5 minutes of being in her presence, you felt that love immensely.
She loved her husband Mark.
I’m so thankful Lisa had her sweet husband Mark to walk through this life with. I will never forget what he said to me at their wedding. I told him after the ceremony, "Thank you Mark for loving my sweet friend like you do" and he said, "I was born for this very moment.”
I’m thankful Mark has captured so many lovely moments of Lisa's life in photos. I will never see a sunset that I don’t think of her radiate face that Mark's captured in photos time and time again.
What a privilege it has been to have known such a person as Lisa.
I will forever cherish the lessons she taught me along the way.
*Make it Happen - do what you have to in order to make your dreams a reality
*Only the Best - Strive for excellence in all that you do
*Set the ambiance- fill your life with beauty & breathe life into others
*Live...Laugh...Love - Live each day to the fullest filling it with laughter & love along the way!



The Ambiance of My beautiful friend Lisa, will forever fill my life with the beautiful fragrance of love that will linger with me forever!