OH MY GOODNESS! If I was happy dancing in that last book review post, I am more than happy dancing now! YOU GUYS!!! I read this book within the space of a day! One day!! Granted I was sick and my husband was home to take care of our kids (don’t worry they were not neglected) but still, I haven’t finished a book for fun in one day since I was on summer break in high school. We’re talking over 10 years folks. (Eeek, over 10 years!) Anyway, The Magnolia Story, written by Chip and Joanna Gains from HGTV’s Fixer Upper was such a fun and enjoyable read, I obviously couldn’t put it down.
- What made you want to read this book (besides the cover, Jenne)?
If you live and breathe in the United States and you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few years, I’m sure you have caught at least one episode of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. If you did, I’m sure that you were at least a little drawn to the design duo’s witty banter and how calm and collected Joanna is while Chip was surely the class clown. He also reminds me of my husband a bit, doing just about anything to get a laugh from his bride. I absolutely love Joanna’s classic design aesthetic, and how she adapts it to remember the different style and natural character of homes from different periods. I think one of my favorite fixer upper’s was a mid-century modern house that she did. And I HATE mid-century modern. But she took it and made it classic, while still being true to its roots. She has a gift, you might say. And I like to think that I have a penchant for design as well. When we moved into our current house and I decided to make the dining room the living room, my hubby was hesitant about the dining table now sitting in front of the faux fireplace and right inside the front door, but I pulled out “This is so Fixer Upper!” So I guess you could say I’m a fan! Ha!
- What are 3 main themes throughout the book?
1. Perfection is not the end goal. Joanna talks about how she had reached her idea of the perfect home and realized that she was still not happy. She was spending her days constantly cleaning, feeling discouraged by dirty hand prints on her white sofa, and did not have any space in her house where her kids could just be kids. I can soo relate to this. She designed the following home with them in mind. Click here to see the playroom that got her noticed by HGTV! Her homes are still beautiful, of course, but she was no longer striving for the perfection that she saw every time she opened up Facebook or pinterest. She wanted a space where all of the family could live fully. So whatever perfection looks like for you, scratch it and work to live fully in the life you already have.
2. We can choose to thrive, rather than just survive. Joanna talks about how the realization above helped her to realize that she was barely surviving in her search for perfection, let alone thriving. Every obstacle (even those as little as spilled milk) have both a surviving response and a thriving response. She emphasizes that they hit this stride of thriving as a family of 6 in an 800 sqft house with all of their eggs in one housing development basket that looked like it was about to fall apart. So obviously this was prior to all the opportunities that Fixer Upper has afforded them.
3. Live life like it’s Saturday. Now before you get concerned that I am thinking of our current, millennial idea of Saturday where we work hard all week and sleep all day on Saturday, Chip shares that his Saturday’s looked a little different growing up. They were characterized by hard work at home and then a fun family activity. Chip wanted everyday to look similar to that model.
4. Risk is not the enemy. (I know I’m cheating here with a 4th main theme, but I can’t help myself.) Joanna, like myself, grew up being a rule-follower shying away from any hint of risk. And then Chip came into the picture. Chip had already dappled in starting up several different businesses at this point and was simultaneously flipping houses (this was before flipping houses was even remotely considered a practical way to make a living.) Life was sure to be full of risk if she chose to spend it with him, and she graciously dove right in. I so admire that she didn’t try to eliminate or control the risks that Chip took. That is certainly my tendency. Instead she allowed it to energize/inspire her and she therefore opened her own store and designed their first house. If she hadn’t taken those risks, their business (empire) would never have been what it is today! AND it took a long time and some big failures along the way. Risk is not the enemy folks (I feel like I can get away with calling you “folks” after reading a book written by Texans, Ha!) A risk by definition includes the possibility of failure, we need to stifle the fear of failure or it will stifle us.
3. Do you have any favorite quotes from the book?
- “Now when someone spills a glass of milk, I don’t worry so much about the mess. Instead, I try to focus on my relationship with the one who spilled the milk.”
- “I always thought that the ‘thriving’ would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good.”
- “I have learned that if you’re looking for perfection in your house, you can get it. But as soon as you have it, you’re going to sit on your couch and find you’re still unhappy. You’ll find yourself continuing to say, ‘What’s next? What now? What do I need to do?'”
- “Most people think that you start off not thiving. Then you get a TV show or some other amazing opportunity, you get fame, you get fortune, and then you thrive…But what’s interesting to me is that Chip and I got to a place where we were thriving — as a couple, as a family, as business partners — before any of this new success unfolded.”
- “I think it’s important to reiterate here that I didn’t start out wanting to be a gardener, or a designer for that matter. It was all trial and error and figuring things out. And sometimes you’ve got to try something outside of your comfort zone to figure out what it is that you truly love.”
- “It isn’t as if we’re trying to push our lifestyle on anyone. If we’re trying to push anything, it’s the hope that there’s contentment in the journey. Whether you are in an eight-hundred-square-foot home or living in a dream house on a lake, contentment is found on the way to the ‘farm,’ not on the ‘farm’ itself.'”
4. How did this book inspire/motivate you?
This book inspired me in so many ways. First of all, Mark and I talk often about how we think our relationship would thrive most if we could work together in some capacity. This is not to say we would sit at home watching TV and eating bon bons (I don’t even like bon bons) but, when he is off for summer and school breaks we are so productive together, it is like we energize each other. Greyson last night said that he had a good dream for the “Adult side” of the basement- which is really just the unfinished side with the laundry and a workshop. But in his dream the adult side had a place where Daddy could work on cars from home- even he gets it! Now that is not a possibility right now (except for during the summer) so that brings me to the next thing that inspired me. The idea of thriving where you are rather than just surviving is so powerful. It means that we can choose joy even when life doesn’t look quite how we want it too, all the while working toward our goals. This idea does not put off thriving until life is just so, i.e. having a large house in a certain neighborhood, retirement, paying off student debt, having grown and independent children. No, we can thrive right now, in the midst of the spilled milk.
It is also so powerful to me that Joanna did not go to school for design. She has a degree in communications, which I’m sure she is using in some aspect but her job is not communications based. Her job is design. And look what she has built without a degree in it! She simply taught herself and learned by trial and error. This is further evidence of the shift that is currently happening in our society. People are recognizing that they can jump into creative areas of the workforce without spending years of their life and money to get a degree. These people come out ahead of the 4-year degree group making around the same amount of money (or more) without having a second mortgage payment each month worth of student debt. Clients in these areas are not looking for a degree or credentials, they just want to see your work. I think we should be encouraging future generations in this. Let’s not oppress them with the necessity of a degree and cause them to start their careers with $50-$100k in debt.
Who would you recommend this book to?
There are so many people that would enjoy this book! The creative, the mama, the designer, the dreamer, the Fixer Upper fan, the spouse of a dreamer. There is something for just about everyone!
So have you read this one yet? What did you think? I definitely came out an even bigger fan of Chip & JoJo! Click here to get yoself a copy!!