About a week ago, I woke up with a strong sense that my next life project was to open a bookstore here in the artsy community in southern Arizona where I live part-time (for now!). I have been praying for over a year for clarity about what I am to do with my life once we move here full-time. I went back to school at age 30, after my two children were born, and then I worked as a therapist/counselor/group home director for the next 28 years. Two years ago, I "retired". I was burned out physically and emotionally. (another long story for another day).
All that is to say that I was a bit dumbfounded when the idea of a bookstore came to mind. I love books. I read everyday as much as I possibly can. When I am near the end of a book, I lose sleep finishing it before I close my eyes. I become wrapped up in the lives of the characters, and I often become the protagonist in my mind.
My love of books came from my mother. She was an English teacher by training and vocation (in her later years), and our home was covered in books and magazines. There was a floor-to-ceiling corner bookcase in our dining room filled with books, and there was a half-size book case in the corner of our living room filled with paperback books, magazines and our beloved World Book Encyclopedia.
When my husband and I had our first child, my mother always bought books for him. And as he grew older, she would read to him. She bought beautiful illustrated books on the animal and insect kingdoms, story books about whatever topic was occupying his attention at the time.
I began taking our son to the library from the time he was born. In those early years, I was the one checking out books, but as he grew older, he began to attend story hour and choose several books to take home. As soon as he was able to print his name, he was able to get his own library card. it was a celebrated day in our home.
In the early years of our marriage, Ted and I could not afford to but books, but as his status in the work place increased, I began to frequent used bookstores and library sales in order to buy books of my own. From the time I went back to school, Ted and I have each had our own study in our home. Mine began to fill with bookcases and books. Ted had 1 bookcase for every three of mine.
As the kids grew older, Ted and I began to travel more, buying a time-share vacation home, and escaping to the sunshine and warmth of Mexico each year. We would take 1/2 a suitcase filled with books for our vacation reading. It became really problematic when we traveled to Europe and our suitcase weight was always too high. I was ecstatic when e-readers became available. For the last 8 years, we traveled with so much less luggage!
So the idea of a bookstore has deep roots in my psyche', but I have never actually considered it before. It seems a strange answer to my prayers about how I can minister and best serve the Lord at this time in my life.
But when I think of a bookstore, I think of cozy reading corners, a group room where book clubs can meet, a literary community center. I can also bring in books to sell that encourage people to think about their purpose in life, how to take better care of themselves, physically, spiritually and emotionally. I can have books that are FUN in order to bring more laughter into the world, and, of course, books for young readers and young adults that can fuel their desire to learn and grow!
So, I am beginning a journey to educate myself on what it would take to open and run a bookstore. I have no idea if this will actually happen, but I feel confident that for now, this is what I need to do.
Joseph Campbell coined the phrase, "Follow your bliss", and lately I have heard so many people say that you need to occupy your life with work that you love. I loved being a counselor. For the last year, i have tried to image what type of counseling setting I should pursue here in AZ. Nothing grabbed my attention. But the idea of this bookstore has ignited my heart and mind, filled me with energy and excitement for the first time in a long time. May-be as I educate myself on becoming a bookstore owner, God will take me off in a tangential direction. I am open to being led and educated by the One who controls the universe.