Posts Archived From: 'August 2011'

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Ready. Aim. What did I do?

See this? This right here is what you do for love.

I think.

Delight yourself in the rest at Flickr or on Facebook.

But please, be kind. It was my first time in chaps.

Erin Loechner is Adorable

Just look at that face. Of course she’s cute. That’s evident immediately.

But Erin Loechner is also talented, funny, sweet, creative, and has an amazing eye for interior design.

Color yourself lucky, because Erin is coming to Omaha. Later this year, Erin of the crazy-popular blog Design for Mankind and of fame will serve as the opening speaker for HOME: A Birdhouse Interiors and Art Exhibition, kicking off Friday, December 2, at the Bancroft Street Market near downtown Omaha.

Birdhouse Interior Design and Birdhouse Collectible owner Jessica McKay – who was mentioned earlier this summer in the The New York Times – will transform the empty storefront at 10th and Bancroft Streets into a temporary home featuring seven rooms. Using her interior design prowess and appreciation of originality, Jessica and her team will also showcase the work of a select group of Nebraska artists. (Note to artists: submissions for HOME will be accepted through September 1.)

Move your mouse to the Birdhouse blog for more details on Erin’s presentation, the week-long HOME event, and how, by attending, you’ll support The Union for Contemporary Art.

I am delighted to help Jessica and the Birdhouse collective with this very exciting, first-of-its-kind Omaha event, and hope to see you at our opening party on December 2. It will be an event you won’t want to miss!

Stars and Stripes Forever

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy Fourth of July!

When Care is Given, Much is Received

You may recall the incident this past February between my then-boyfriend (now fiancé) Matt and a very sharp table saw. It wasn’t a pretty sight, and the accident happened, of all days, mere hours before his surprise thirtieth birthday party.

I honed my caregiver skills in the weeks following Matt’s accident and subsequent seven-hour surgery, and learned that while I am a tidy person who can kind of cook, the true test comes in the many hours spent at home. Matt needed help in those first few weeks, and we learned a lot about the dedication and patience necessary to find the humor in our situation and not pull each other’s heads off.

I say this in jest, but it’s true.

We temporarily suspended our routine and roles as Matt ventured ever so gingerly on the lengthy road to recovery. And some four months later, I am pleased to report that Matt’s injured hand is doing much better.

But his back? His back is another story.

In September of last year, long before the infamous table saw accident, Matt was involved in a car accident. It wasn’t his fault, but that doesn’t mean Matt walked away unscathed. His Jeep suffered sizable damage, as did his back. And after wading through a world of hurt since then, Matt finally underwent back surgery just last week.

He is recovering at home yet again, and we have found ourselves in similar territory. Matt is in a sizable amount of pain. Walking is nearly impossible, although he is getting stronger and more mobile every day. He has spent his recovery in our man-cave of a basement, which means zipping up and down the steps to grab more snacks, meals, and beverages from the kitchen is now my job.

At times it has been exhausting work; I won’t lie or sugarcoat that for a second. And while I know Matt’s recovery will be slow and steady, I also know that his rehabilitation – heck, even his initial injury last year – could have been much more worse.

While pushing Matt in a wheelchair last week through a rather empty shopping mall, our eyes landed upon many of the injured and disabled adults and, heartbreakingly, children who are in much worse shape. Never before did I notice the discomfort and struggle of such individuals, especially as we took the elevator up and down a few times. We know Matt will get better, but some of the faces we saw are those who will be disabled for quite some time – perhaps for the rest of their lives.

It’s something I have remembered vividly and reflected on while carrying an armful of dirty dishes up the stairs and into the kitchen for what seemed like the hundredth time. Of course we are all handed our share of hardships and bad luck, but the most beneficial aspect comes in the gratitude of the opportunities and good luck that comes our way.

Billy as Buddy, And Better Than Ever

Last Saturday my mom and I took a trip back in time. Nestled inside the Howard Drew Theatre at the Omaha Community Playhouse, we were transported to another place, another decade entirely. Rave On! was on the night’s stage, featuring Omaha musician Billy McGuigan in his highly acclaimed (and long lasting) role as the legendary Buddy Holly.

I had the opportunity to visit with Billy back in 2005 while he was on tour. He was funny, humble, kind, and, at the time, in the beginning stages of a show that would take him crisscrossing around the country, playing to packed shows night after night. Saturday evening was no different. Billy’s unmistakable charm and wit were ever present throughout the more than two-hour performance. His back-up band was consistently energetic and highly entertaining, never missing a note, a footstep, a laugh.

And the glasses. Did I mention the glasses? Just look at those glasses.

Do yourself a favor and see this show. The sweet lyrics, fun melodies, and high energy of the evening will make you glad you did.

Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience plays through Sunday, June 26 at the Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.

What I’m Loving Right Now

I’ve been blogging recently about Big Omaha. A lot. Today, I felt the need for a little lighter blogging. Some tasty treats, you might say. To that end, below are links to things that I am Loving Right Now.

Tweety Got Back – There’s absolutely no reason to use a default Twitter background anymore. Pretty up your profile, please.

Pinterest – It’s an incredibly simple way to share breathtaking images of stuff you love. When I need inspiration or just a little mental “oomph” late in the day, a few clicks about Pinterest does the trick. P.S. You can find my pins at

Cartolina – When I’m bored with text messages, I use Cartolina. It’s an iPhone app that lets me send pretty messages to my friends. What could be easier? Or more gratifying? A handwritten letter, maybe.

Letter Writers Alliance – Speaking of handwritten letters, the LWA is a clever, member-based organization that connects pen pals and feeds the addictions of letter writers and paper lovers everywhere. Time to buy some postage stamps.

Zaarly – OK, OK. So this one is somewhat related to Big Omaha, as I heard the company’s founder speak on day two. But since Zaarly launched yesterday, I have found myself super curious about who’s looking for what in Omaha (and what they’re willing to pay). You can use the website, or simply follow @ZaarlyFeedOmaha on Twitter. My goal is to earn a few extra bucks this summer in the wackiest way possible, and then write about it.

Altitude Design Summit – I was late to the game for this conference, but made up for lost time by just following the chatter on Twitter. I recall reading about the speakers and looking at the gorgeous photos that the event’s very stylish attendees posted online and thought, “Wow! How did I miss this? And can I go next year?” Count me in for 2012.

Alex and Ani – No, they’re not the latest folk rock duo. They are jewelry designers that I discovered on Bluefly. To date I have purchased (and now wear every single day) two of their clever bracelets and hope to line my wrists with more in the future. Best of all: they’re affordable.

Overheard in the Newsroom – It’s no secret that I’m a recovering journalist. Actually, scratch that. I may no longer write full-time for a newspaper, but I’m cut from the same cloth and just can’t surrender my few years’ experience in the newsroom. Which is why this website has become a favorite of mine. They are quotes that are actually spoken (and subsequently recorded) in today’s newsrooms. A comment I just love from a reporter: “This is turning into a giant clusterf*ck, which means it’ll be a great story.”

What are you loving right this minute? Tell us!

We Didn’t Idle; Neither Should You

My head was still spinning and my heart was still aflutter following Big Omaha when a direct message via Twitter from Jeff Slobotski illuminated my iPad.

Whoa nelly! :) It’s out… – NICE work!

Jeff passed along an amazing opportunity to me a few weeks ago. As a member of the Domino Project Street Team, Jeff was charged with finding creatives who could tell the story of their work for a new eBook, No Idling: 30 inspiring stories from those who do the work. The Domino Project, the brainchild of Seth Godin, is a new publishing endeavor that’s powered by Amazon. And to be affiliated with Seth and his new project is nothing short of stunning.

I was honored to be considered by Jeff, and promptly drafted my essay on my experiences about the year leading up to the publication of Nerdy Thirty.

With opportunities such as these, there is never a guarantee that what you submit will actually get published. I collected my thoughts and sent them to Jeff. I didn’t follow up with Jeff or ask if my work was selected. In all honesty, I rarely do. I was confident in my essay and crossed my fingers that the book’s editors felt the same. And if they didn’t, no harm done.

Big Omaha came and Big Omaha went, and I didn’t give my submission much thought since. Until, that is, I heard the good news from Jeff.

As I mentioned throughout this morning on Twitter, I am supremely humbled, honored, and excited to be among a small group of only thirty creatives across the country. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that my creative pal RDQLUS Creative (see Page 5) was also included in No Idling. (Omaha, represent!)

Of course the words our are own, but the thanks goes directly to Jeff for offering up such an amazing opportunity. It seems extremely appropriate that the news of the eBook arrives on the heels of Big Omaha. Jeff and his team have made supporting and celebrating us creatives across the Silicon Prairie their main focus. This eBook is further proof of that.

Please spend a few moments downloading and reading through this eBook, and share it with family and friends. And let me know what you think. The stories throughout are uniquely inspiring, and may be just the motivation you need to live your passion and create your future.

Big Omaha 2011: Top Tweets

One of the many wonderful aspects of the Big Omaha experience is the ability to communicate and interact with other conference attendees – and those following the chatter from afar  – through Twitter. I kept my trusty iPad close by throughout the two-day conference, using my Twitter account to post some of the more meaningful and inspirational comments by this year’s impressive list of presenters.

Below are among my favorites, which I plan to keep top of mind in the coming weeks. These brief nuggets of wisdom are what will help maintain my motivation and yours – even if you didn’t attend Big Omaha this year. For more information on these speakers, visit the Big Omaha website.!/wtownley/status/69187174821666816!/wtownley/status/69062231614164993!/wtownley/status/68770599446650880!/wtownley/status/68689817659117570!/wtownley/status/68687816623792128

Big Omaha Recap: More to Come

A quick glance to my right displays a numerical digital readout. And the numbers obviously tell me I am crazy. It is 5:11 a.m. on a Saturday, and I am wide awake. I have found myself bright-eyed at this hour many times before; its occurrence is almost always the result of something Big Omaha 2011inspirational.

(Full disclosure: My most recent memory of this feeling was when I brought home my iPad last October. Offer your similar story or sound the Nerd Alert. I’m OK with either.)

Yesterday wrapped up an overwhelmingly motivational and truly amazing conference called Big Omaha. I count myself among the fortunate five-hundred-plus who attended this very special event in my fair city. Big Omaha dubs itself (and rightly so) as “The Nation’s Most Ambitious Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” Conference attendees find themselves in a sprawling art space in downtown Omaha, surrounded by creatives of all ages, all backgrounds, and all walks of life.

The chatter is continuous, the energy infectious. By the outside observer, Big Omaha is two days of sitting in chairs, sampling sugary snacks, swapping business cards, and listening to smartly dressed speakers who flavor their presentations with words like hustle and fail, entrepreneur and start-up. But for those of us enveloped in the Big Omaha culture whose minds and hearts remain in a state of rapture for what we love to do, the two-day conference is so much more than that.

Which explains, perhaps poorly at this early hour, why I find myself at my laptop just past 5 a.m. on a Saturday. The ideas and concepts that took root these past two days are simmering right now; but I get the strong sense that these idle ideas will continue to clarify themselves in the coming days and rise to the surface, demanding more of my attention.

And in those coming days I hope to share in this space the lessons I learned at Big Omaha, the people I met, the conversations I had, and the promise of what is to come before Big Omaha 2012.

It’s Finally Here!

Follow the conversation on Twitter: #bigomaha or @bigomaha.

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