Cover image for The great blue hills of God : from the founder of Blackberry Farm, a story of enormous success, unfathomable loss, and discovering the true meaning of home
Title:
The great blue hills of God : from the founder of Blackberry Farm, a story of enormous success, unfathomable loss, and discovering the true meaning of home
ISBN:
9781984822246
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
x, 269 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
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Summary:
"The Great Blue Hills of God is the powerful, resilient memoir by the creative force behind legendary, award-winning farm-to-table resort, Blackberry Farm, in Tennessee. Born with "the gift of hospitality," Kreis Beall helped create one of the South's most enchanting destinations, Blackberry Farm, in Tennessee's Smoky Mountain foothills. For decades, she was a fixture in the entertaining and design world and on the glossy pages of popular shelter magazines. But beautiful exteriors and glowing accolades papered-over deep inner pain. At the pinnacle of her success, a brain injury left her with devastating hearing loss; that was followed by the collapse of her 36 year marriage to her "best friend and business partner," Sandy Beall, and a few years later, the tragic death of her grown son and proprietor of Blackberry Farm, Sam, at age 39. Alone and desolate as her marriage ends, Kreis begins a new journey, to find her faith and find God. After spending years on her exterior life and work, now she must begin the hardest undertaking of all: to reclaim her interior life and soul. Kreis retreats to Blackberry Farm, moving into a dimly lit 300 square foot shed with peeling paint walls, "where I met myself for the first time." Out of brokenness has come reflection, re-examination, and bit-by-bit, healing and meaning. By turns fiercely honest, heartbreaking, warm, and funny, Kreis Beall's story will resonate with anyone who has ever searched to find genuine beauty among their own flaws and scars"--
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Summary

Summary

Born with "the gift of hospitality," Kreis Beall helped create one of the South's most enchanting destinations, Blackberry Farm, in Tennessee's Smoky Mountain foothills. For decades, she was a fixture in the entertaining world and on the glossy pages of popular home and design magazines.

But beautiful exteriors and glowing accolades papered over deep inner pain. At the pinnacle of her success, a brain injury left her with devastating hearing loss. That was followed by the collapse of her thirty-six-year marriage to her best friend and business partner, Sandy Beall--and a few years later, the tragic death of her son Sam, the proprietor of Blackberry Farm, at age thirty-nine.

Alone and desolate as her marriage ends, Kreis begins a new journey, to find her faith and find God. After spending years on her exterior life and work, now she must begin the hardest undertaking of all- to reclaim her interior life and soul. Kreis retreats to Blackberry Farm, moving into an unassuming, 300-square foot shed with peeling paint on the exterior walls "where I met myself for the first time." Out of brokenness has come reflection, re-examination, and bit by bit, healing and meaning.

By turns fiercely honest, heartbreaking, and warm, Kreis Beall's story will resonate with anyone who has ever searched to find genuine beauty among their own flaws and scars.


Author Notes

Kreis Beall is the founder and director of design at Blackberry Farm, an award-winning Relais & Chateaux hotel and resort in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and one of the country's premier destinations. As entrepreneurial as she is artistic, the Tennessee native carries varied experiences--as hotel proprietor, cook, photographer, interior designer, intrepid adventurer and traveler--all of which share a common thread- Beall's passion for the art of living, her love of beauty, and her knack for transforming big dreams into real, uncontrived elegance.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Entrepreneur Beall--cofounder of the Blackberry Farm resort in Tennessee and the former wife of Ruby Tuesday's founder, Sandy Beall--tells of overcoming obstacles in her moving debut. The author was swept away in 1975 by her future husband, who pulled up in a Jaguar with "two cut-crystal highball glasses filled with icy gin and tonics" on the dash. For the next 36 years, Beall and Sandy opened restaurants, moved in and out of countless picture-perfect homes all over the South, and raised two boys--until the marriage between the two admitted workaholics started to show cracks, and they divorced. Throughout this time, Beall faced tragedies--including a devastating brain injury that damaged her hearing and sense of smell; the loss of a child to a skiing accident; a house fire; and a sister suffering from substance abuse. Yet she puts a positive spin on matters, a perspective she attributes to her growing Christian faith: "The comfort that God gives me is strength, encouragement, and hope to deal with life." Beall's earnest, uplifting memoir will resonate with faith-based readers. (Feb.)


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1 Breaking Most women of my "certain age" line their walls or fill their shelves with photos of children and grandchildren--­happy, gap-­toothed smiles inside glossy frames. For years, my walls were hung with beautiful color photos and magazine spreads of my houses, each one unique, expertly decorated, and having its own given name: Hedgerose, Rose Bay, Maple Cottage, Toad Hall. I thought that the physical space, the walls, the paint, the rugs and windows, the way the chairs faced and how the side tables accented a room, the meals that came out of the kitchen--everything that made a house look great and feel great--­were the building blocks of home. I believed all it took was organization, hard work, and planning. Now all my plans had come undone. As I stood on the threshold of sixty, my marriage was over, I was disconnected from my sons, I spent too little meaningful time with my grandchildren. To the outside world, I was the co-­founder of one of the most idyllic spots on earth, Blackberry Farm. It was not a farm in the conventional sense of raising dairy cattle or crops. Rather, my husband, Sandy, and I had started with a dilapidated, 1940 low-­ceiling house with eight guest rooms and grew it into a Relais & Châteaux estate and restaurant, a stylish, award-­winning destination at the edge of Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains. Its iconic views, the shimmering trees and hills, the white-­painted rockers perched above a sweeping lawn, were routinely featured in glossy lifestyle and travel magazines. People began referring to it simply as "Blackberry." Beyond Blackberry, I was known for my own cooking and entertaining, for being married to Sandy, founder of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain, and for my photogenic family and two successful sons. And I never dissuaded anyone, not even my mother, my sisters, or my closest friends, that this was my story until I could no longer paper over and pretend. Until I had no choice but to tell my truth. I began by giving up what I had clung to the longest: my image of the perfect home. From a multi-­bedroom house, I moved to a 324-­square-­foot farm shed on the edge of Blackberry--­a space that not long before had been piled high with broken Christmas decorations that no one could quite commit to the rubbish bin. When I stepped into that single room, I left behind the cushion of things, an oversize closet, kitchen gadgets, a long dining table, and matched sets of comfy chairs. Suddenly unburdened of creature comforts and objects, I had no choice but to meet myself head-­on. If I wanted a view, I would have to step outside into whatever weather we were having and let my eyes rest on the mountains the Cherokee Indians had named the Great Blue Hills of God. If I wanted a rush of cooling air, I would have to stand and breathe the morning fog rising from the creek or the clumps of heavy dew on the meadow. If I wanted people, I would have to intentionally seek them. If I wanted a project, the only available thing to be worked on was me, perhaps the hardest renovation of all. But I could not begin to build a future until I found a new foundation on which to rebuild my life. It began with a prayer: Heavenly Father, Grant me courage, Grant me wisdom To learn from the past And not be crippled by it. So that like Joseph, I may be a Blessing to my earthly family And the world at large. In Jesus' name, Amen.  Starting with those words, I did something I had never done before: I told the truth to myself. I realized I had helped to create a place of flawless beauty, accolades, and daily perfection, Blackberry Farm, while living a life that was flawed. Now, I could finally see the scars. What I learned was that my real story was not the one I had expected. It's a story about success, yes, but also about tragedy and heartache. Ultimately, it is a story of deciding to consciously choose joy and live through pain, with a deep and abiding faith in God. When I started on this journey, I did not know all the ways in which life could be hard and yet still be beautiful. I did not know that seeking forgiveness and finding God's fierce love would change so many things. I was still learning that home is not a physical place, but the space you make inside your heart. Only when I let go of perfectionism and learned to sit with devastation, and from there slowly breathe in meaning, did I discover that what I had built was not a picture-­perfect life, but a real and beautiful one, stronger for the breaking. Excerpted from The Great Blue Hills of God: A Story of Facing Loss, Finding Peace, and Learning the True Meaning of Home by Kreis Beall All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.