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!
My third stop on the Bookstore Blog Tour was to Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA. My bookstore buddy Steen and I braved the frigid temps to explore Decatur “where it’s greater”, which has become a trendy fun little area of Atlanta with tons of cute shops and yummy food- but, we were on a mission.
I was so excited to be visiting this adorable bookstore because I knew they catered to children and I absolutely LOVE the store name. Little Shop of Stories has been open since 2005 and is owned by co-owners Dave and Diana. Also to note, they are right next door to a popular coffee shop so you can sip a latte while you browse. Two thumbs up.
Sure enough, I was welcomed with a gorgeous wall of picture books and beautifully displayed Christmas themed books and gifts. I noticed right away that they had huge framed illustrations with author signatures bordering the ceilings (including a blank one with BIG signature from B.J. Novak. HA!) They had some pretty impressive names and Justin, the manager told us that they had just hosted Oliver Jeffers!
At the back of the store there was even a dedicated section of board books which I think is pretty cool because board books are the super fun introductory for little minds and hands and I think they deserve their own space. And just when I thought the kiddie fun was over- I saw the wall. It was Platform 9 3/4! I had to go through the wall to see where it led me…
It was the Great Green Room from the classic Goodnight Moon! Seriously, this was my most favorite part of the store. It looked exactly like the illustrations from Margaret Wise Brown’s most famous bedtime story. There was a red balloon… and a picture of a cow jumping over the moon. And three little bears sitting on chairs. There was even a comb and brush and a bowl full of mush! And an adorable curly head boy whispering “hush”. Kidding. But he was really stinkin’ cute. I mean- what an amazing idea! We were told that this creative space was co-owner Dave’s idea and just one of his (many) fun projects.
When I finally decided to leave the green room (sniff,sniff) I found the middle grade and young adult books. They do have a small selection of adult titles in case you want something boring to read. Totally kidding. Actually because their adult section is small it is also very curated so you’ll be sure to find a great book. If you look closely at the shelves you’ll notice little cards sticking out of different spaces. These are handwritten “reviews” done by the employees on a weekly basis. What a fun way to highlight a book! I’m always wanting a good recommendation.
We asked about the loft area above and Justin told us it was extra space for author visits, book clubs, summer camps and even birthday parties! (side note: if you are a kid and celebrate your birthday at a bookstore, YOU ARE OFF THE CHARTS COOL!) Justin let us go up there and check it out and we got to see an awesome view of the store including this floor mosaic made completely of pennies! Another cool idea from Dave. (He plans on covering the entire concrete floor.)
I snagged a present for my littlest one and the bag they put it in featured first lines from famous novels. How fun is that? On our way out there was an entire wall of books about kindness, which is the theme of my picture book The Yucky Words, available August 2018. I couldn’t help but envision it on the shelf, because I know that the kindness revolution will continue on into 2018.
I was very impressed with Little Shop of Stories in Decatur. I couldn’t wait to get home and show my kids the pictures. Of course they were instantly mad at me for not taking them, so it looks like we’ll be back soon for them to walk through Platform 9 3/4 and read in the great green room, while mommy sips her latte and inhales the best smell on earth: Books.
Next time I’ll be sure to leave enough time to visit some of the yummy places to get a sweet treat nearby like Cakes and Ale or Jeni’s Ice Cream. Until our next stop…
In trying to come up with interesting things to blog about, I had a writer friend of mine had the incredible idea to blog about local independent bookstores! I thought it was a perfect blog subject because personally I would LOVE to read about and get a sneak peek into the wonderful world of small bookstores. So I stole shared her idea and we started with my favorite little bookstore, FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA.
Ok, so I may be a little biased on this one because it is only 10 minutes from my house, and right in the middle of one of the cutest (and fastest growing) communities in Georgia. There is so much to do in Downtown Woodstock, and FoxTale is one of the few businesses to witness the growth first hand. FoxTale has been open for almost 11 years and the owners are Karen & Jackie. Nestled between an outside amphitheater, a park with beautiful white gazebos, a railroad track and a super cutesy shops, FoxTales is in a perfect location for a darling bookstore.
One of the first things I noticed when coming to drool over research this adorable book haven was the hours of operation: 10:00am to Dark -Thirty Monday through Saturday (And sometimes Sundays). Yes! They had me at hello. The window displays were fall themed with beautiful fall leaves and pumpkins. Which made me instantly (and stereotypically) assume that women were to blame congratulate for the welcoming décor.
When I rounded the first book shelf I was greeted by a friendly woman who I’m sure said, “Good morning!” or “How can I help you today?” but I was distracted by her BLUE hair. Yes, it was fate. She could have said anything, but she had me at azure coiffure. As if things couldn’t get any better she introduced herself as “Hyphen”. What? Could she be any cuter?? Hyphen graciously showed us around the store while I made a mental note to name a future child pet of mine “Hyphen”.
The store itself was perfectly organized into various genres of books including staff picks which is always one of my favorite things to look for. Hyphen was clearly excited to talk about the favorites on her shelf and it didn’t take long to figure something out about Hyphen- girlfriend LOVES books. Which makes me love Hyphen…but I digress.
Of course my favorite part of the shop was the children’s book section. A separate room with wooden French doors (to keep out boring adult talk I guess) filled from floor to ceiling with yummy picture books. Actually the ceiling was taken by a big colorful hanging bicycle. Hyphen, who is also the storytime reader at FoxTales, says she tells kids they can touch ANYTHING in the kid’s room except they may not go behind the curtain at the back wall. When kids sarcastically ask to touch the bike she offers to pick them up. Because Hyphen is as cool as her name.
I was just about to ask her to hoist me up when she said, “Wait! I have something for you.” My friend and I looked at each other in surprise while she slipped away behind the now very intriguing (and off limits) curtain. She came back with two bags with two books inside. They were left over from a recent event and she GAVE them to us! How cool is that!!
Needless to say my impressions of FoxTales Book Shoppe in Woodstock were exceedingly more than I could have hoped for from MY local bookstore. The ambiance, the staff, the selection and the events that they offer were enough to make me grab a copy of their calendar and subsequently fill up my own. I even loved the little touches like the stained glass fox, fox pillows,stuffed animal foxes (or is it foxii?), and the gorgeous accessories like scarves and necklaces to please any bibliophile. If you are anywhere near the Woodstock area I highly recommend visiting FoxTale. And tell my BFF Hyphen I said hello.
With each of these delicious bookstore reviews, and in anticipation of the release of my book The Yucky Words, I am including the scoop on YUMMY treats near by! Here’s what I found in Downtown Woodstock:
Need I say more? Once you’ve worked up an appetite enjoying FoxTale Book Shoppe, walk on over to Cupcakealicious and grab a a sweet treat like gourmet cupcakes, ice cream, King of Pops and more!
And then there is the Pie Bar which needs little explanation except that these pies are handcrafted and “made for the masses”. The owners of Pie Bar, an adorable couple, encourage patrons to enjoy pie everyday instead of only for special occasions.
Can’t wait to show you around the next bookstore! Until then…