LARSON: Finding new life after a tragedy in Lilburn

Get a life. That's something Barbara Barth did quite well.

"In May of 2008, my husband died," Barth said. "I spent 2009 writing my book on that first year as a widow, a journal of essays on doing all those things I never thought I'd do again."

She went about the task of marketing her book, "The Unfaithful Widow," and adopted several rescue dogs to help fill up her time. But it still wasn't the kind of life she wanted.

"I had no scheduled place to be. I missed the interaction of meeting people," Barth said.

Then in December 2010, Barth was having lunch with a friend and saw a "for rent" sign on a vacant cabinet shop in Old Town Lilburn.

"I knew I was meant to rent that space," she said.

Within months Barth transformed the store into The Little Shop of Art and Antiques, and has since rented and redecorated two more buildings to house her artistic endeavors.

In addition to selling small vintage furniture and gift items, Barth hosts local artists, writers and musicians who share their talents on weekends. Many events serve as fundraisers such as the book signing by former Gwinnett resident and Georgia Hall of Fame author, Terry Kay, which raised money for the American Cancer Society.

Barth has set up photography exhibits, poetry readings and arranged for local musicians to entertain at her gatherings. Every Saturday this month, patrons can take part in Christmas in July and get a head start on making holiday ornaments.

One of her most memorable events was a sparkling water tasting.

"Barbara's creative ideas and positive energy are a never-ending source of surprise and wonder to those of us who live nearby. Who would have imagined that sparkling water tasting could become an evening out event in Old Town Lilburn? It works -- and she knows how to make it fun!" Pat Gabilondo of the Lilburn Woman's Club said.

The next interaction coming up in Barth's life is a free, two-day writing workshop for teens and adults next weekend. On Friday, from 7 to 9 p.m., aspiring writers are invited to read their poetry and works in progress at an open mic. On Saturday, after the Mix and Mingle session at noon, Anne B. Jones, former Brookwood teacher and author of six books will share some secrets of becoming a published writer. Then yours truly will be happy to tell you everything you could ever want to know about the life of a columnist.

Next, a member of the Georgia Poetry Society will conduct a poetry workshop. Ending the afternoon at 4 p.m., local novelist Jackie Miles will present "The Art of the Query: Getting an Agent When Others Don't," followed by a question and answer session with all writers.

It all happens next weekend on Main Street in Lilburn. And to add some life to the party, there will be lots of sparkling water.

Reservations recommended: bb-bjd@comcast.net or email me for more info.

Susan Larson is a writer who lives in Lilburn. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.