My Unexpected Bookish Blessing

I wasn’t exactly looking for books when I came to The Farm. I heard about Vikki from a friend who told me that she found out about this woman who lives in Ball Ground, GA and encourages women to know that they are Loved, Worthy and Enough just as they are. The friend told me that Vikki had a unique and colorful backstory that included “Olympic bodybuilding” (which is not a thing), addiction and steroids. Well those subjects hit close to home for me- even Olympic weightlifting (which is a thing).

Long story short, I did know Vikki from years ago when we both lifted weights at Coffee’s Gym in Marietta. It had been 20 years and seemed like a past life with all of the changes we had both been through. (Thank the good Lord!) I was thrilled to hear about all the good things she was doing at her farm-Revival 356, and I wanted to go check it out myself. Here is me, Vikki and Lula-mae, the alpaca who likes kisses.

The beautiful red barn was even more beautiful on the inside. It was a chilly day, but there was a fire burning and the smell of incense and earth filled the air. Every inch of the barn invited you to slow down and be loved. There were mismatched chairs and repurposed farm décor, fresh cut flowers and the occasional stray chicken or bird. There was a wall of pictures, bins of scrap metal, leather, and wood. A crafty person’s dream. (They also hold art days and journal making classes at the barn monthly!) But what caught my eye was the books!

Shelves and boxes of books about love, spirituality, relationships and Jesus. My friends who know me know that this is TOTALLY my jam. (I’ve been reading Max Lucado since I was a pre-teen!) Vikki also loves to quote my BFF’s Brene Brown and Dr. Caroline Leaf AND she  “feeds her soul” through yoga and meditation. My friends who know me know that this is TOTALLY my NEW jam! We sat around these piles of books and swapped stories. She showed me around the farm and told me all about her mission to help others discover that they are Loved, Worthy and Enough.

I gotta say I’m not really an animal-lover, but I AM an animal-lover-lover. What I mean is, I dig people who are into animals and nature because they seem to be the kindest people around. I am more of a people lover, but still I enjoyed the peacefulness of farm-life, and these goats are pretty stinkin’ cute. I love how Vikki uses all that she is and how God made her to communicate love loudly-even sharing a beautiful metaphor about a “fence-climber” sheep based from Psalm 23. I was so drawn to the barn and to Vikki that I decided to visit regularly for some “life coaching”. I wasn’t sure what that looked like, but I believe in counseling and getting godly wisdom so I went for my first session and was blown away.

We didn’t even get through the first question on the list that she had me send in before our session. I’ve been to counseling before when I “needed it”, but this was different. I know I’m a work in progress but I like the direction I am headed.  I’m an achiever. A goal-setter. And thanks to Brene Brown and Liz Gilbert I’m not really afraid to put myself out there and risk failing. So, when I told Vikki that I was there to be a “better version of myself”, she said in her soft, sweet southern voice, “that sounds like a doing instead of being”, and BAM we talked for over an hour about THAT.

It’s not that those things are a bad thing, it’s just that life is in the present, the moments, the breaths that we take. I can work on the Better-Future-Bonnie, but if I’m not treating the In-This-Moment-Bonnie with compassion and really being present, I’m missing out. I get that. And I want that. Vikki loves to say that she doesn’t have the answers: “Take what resonates with you and sow it to your heart…And if something doesn’t resonate with you-throw that stuff out the window on your way out!” (She doesn’t say “stuff”.) I love that. I want to be so wise one day (when I grow up), that I don’t give people advice. Just love instead.

Life is such a journey of moments and I am learning to make space in my heart and mind to receive the gifts that come with each one. And every morning I will start all over again because His mercies are new. I am so grateful that He led me to peaceful green pastures- literally. At the Farm. I even stopped to smell these gorgeous daisies (and snap a picture), because daisies hold a special place in my heart, and I knew they were a gift… just for me.

At the end of our visit, Vikki recommended a book that was in her life-changing “top-ten”. I ordered it, because I know that books and conversations change lives. Do you have a favorite book that has made a positive impact in your life? I’d love for you to tell me. I’ll totally read it!

Until our next bookish adventure,

-Bonnie

Bookstore Blog Tour Episode 4: Underground Books

Our latest Bookstore adventure was one we have been looking forward to for a while! After visiting Hills and Hamlets Books Shop in Serenbe, GA and hearing about their sister store Underground Books in Carollton, GA, my book buddy Steen Jones and I couldn’t wait to check out this quaint book shop with a very romantic story…just in time for Valentines!

Just as the name implies, you literally have to step down into the entrance to explore the bookish treasures in the Underground. We were met by a smiling employee, Miranda, who was excited and clearly to proud to show us around. They boast of Rare, Used and Anitiquarian which we got a taste of at Hills and Hamlets, but this is Underground’s specialty. They have a curated offering of popular titles in all genres, but they also have a highly satisfying quirky collection of used and vintage books that you didn’t even know you wanted.

You could tell every space and shelf was well thought out. I wanted to look at everything, but of course I was most interested in the children’s section. I walked through a tunnel of books into another area of the store and…bingo. Mixed between the fan favorites were adorable children’s classics and even fun oversized books like this  gem by the Queen Bee herself, Jane Yolen. I felt like a kid holding this huge book and watching the feet of passerbys outside the half window. The atmosphere was cozy and full of imagination and artistic flair.

Right smack in the middle of the store is the “signature piece” of the Underground, the famous Book Arch that was actually made for owners Megan Bell and Josh Niesse for their wedding! How romantic is that? I had to get a picture and file it away because suddenly I had book arch envy. Underground Books has a very unique personality in every corner and shelf. The glowing lamps and Edison bulbs mixed with the comfy chairs and even the music made you feel like you were in another bookish world.

Underground has another “signature” practice, and that is Megan’s “book face” photos that she frequently posts on social media. Forgive me Megan because you are way better at this than me, but here is my attempt…also known as Poe Face:

Miranda was quick to make sure we didn’t miss Megan’s favorite addition to the store, the Call Me Ishmael phone near the front desk. You could pick up the receiver of this vintage phone, dial a corresponding number for a displayed book, and someone on the other end would give you a review or recommendation of the book you are interested in. There are clever things like this throughout the store from buttons and journals made in-house as well as other fun gift ideas. There is definitely something for everyone

We could have definitely hung out all afternoon with Miranda, but we were hungry, so she recommended the Charleston-esque Brown Dog Restaurant just around the corner of the historic downtown square. Super good food and super fast service. We didn’t realize until we noticed the decor inside that we were visiting on Fat Tuesday so that was a bonus. If you are ever in Carollton enjoying the fun and unique shops downtown, you have to stop by Underground Books and say Hi to Megan and the gang. You’ll find all manner of comforts and curiosities in a book lovers heaven.

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