Nashville – Day 1

Wednesday, September 28th at 5:00 am, my dad dropped me off at the airport for my flight to Nashville for the Story Gathering. I’ve volunteered at the conference when it was in Chicago. It’s the start of how I ended up in LA actually. It’s great, can’t wait for tomorrow, but for now here’s my day in pictures.


This is my usual view. Back of the chair. Jeans. Chucks. Backpack.

A guy boarded in Omaha and I knew he was heading for Nashville. Even without the guitar on his bag. He has the dark slicked hair and dressed all in black. Oh musicians. Nashville has its style and LA has its style.

It was dark leaving Omaha, and I was halfway asleep. Here’s a selfie.

I held my headphones like that on both flights. Didn’t even put them in. Plane rides are usually where my head is the clearest. I’m not distracted. I rarely read, write or pull out the laptop. It’s just me and my thoughts.

This was my first stop at the St. Louis airport. I was surprised at how busy it was. Long terminals good for walking during the layover. Lots of charging stations, it could have used a few more chairs with the amount of people there. It was nothing special, but now I can say I’ve been there.

All I saw of St. Louis this morning.


When I landed in Nashville, I grabbed a Lyft and headed to The Factory at Franklin. Franklin is a suburb of Nashville and quite a distances from the airport and downtown, but it was worth it.

One of my favorite photographers who is speaking at Story has his studio space here. I wanted to see the space that he picked for his office spaces, because it had to be something special. I had also heard amazing things about the Five Daughters Bakery also at the Factory, so yes please all the way around.

Will you look at that. This is their version of a cronut and one of their basic flavors with a Maple frosting and a creamy filling. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. It was more sugar than any one person deserves and a little difficult to eat, because well, my jaw doesn’t unhinge to be able to get that in my mouth. I ate most of it, but I didn’t eat again until 6pm tonight.

This was the interior of The Factory. I was enamored. I’m sure I just stared for awhile. There are lots of different shops ranging from a handmaid guitar shop to antique shops to artists bays including a motorcycle shop. Dear Omaha, let’s build something like this. I’ll help.

Downtown Nashville

I worked for a few hours for C3 at the Factory after that I grabbed a Lyft and headed to downtown Nashville. This Lyft driver just finished the finishing touches on the album with his country band. Nice guy. I should have asked the name of his band.

New cities always offer me a bit of trepidation. I don’t know anyone here. I don’t know what the culture is like or how people will behave. Turns out there are a lot of older tourists and families which made me a feel a bit more at ease.

I found the hostel I’m staying at. Seems like a nice place. I’ll reserve feedback for later. Once I got settled and made my bed, I walked to the Omni Hotel where pre check-in for the conference was located.

Along the way I had to stop in the Hatch Show Print Shop. Look at this wall of hand printed goodness. Aren’t they beautiful? I think I’ll take at least one home.

This is part of what the shop looks like. It was later in the day, so they weren’t working when I was there. I’ll have to come back and check in on them.

Story does a nice job of making you feel like you’re apart of something. Their volunteers are friendly and make sure they’re treating you like a person. Too many times, that’s rare. Here’s a pretty poor picture of the welcome package they put together. They gave us the War of Art book which I have at home and debated about bringing with me, so if someone wants a copy…

On my way back to the hostel, I stopped at Acme Feed & Seed restaurant that my Lyft driver recommended. It’s right on 1st street with a view of the river. I ordered a brisket sandwich which they delivered in the amount of time that it took me to fill my water glass and get settled at the table. Before I left, I made my way up to their rooftop deck. Pretty night as it was trying to decide if it was going to rain or not.

This is First and Broadway looking west I think. This is where all the open bars/music venues are. It’s not a joke when they talk about live music. It’s everywhere. Every venue has an open space where the music just spills out on to the street all mingling together in an interesting sound on the street.

Now here I sit on a couch in the common area of the Hostel with Thor playing on the TV in the background. Kind of nice. Have a good night y’all.

Life at the Beginning and the End

You know those deep introspective thoughts that makes you think about changing your entire world and then in the next moment you’re wondering what to have for dinner. Anyone else bounce back and forth like that? Is that normal?


My first niece was born on June 23rd. I am now an aunt and our family has a new member. A new little member. We’ve added my two sisters-in-laws in the last 3 years, but that’s different. This is a new life who has no concept of the world. She is going to experience everything for the first time, and we’re going to delight in watching her wonder. This is life beginning.

Then on the opposite side, I’m watching what life is like as it ends. My grandparents are all struggling with health issues. My grandpa who was very active softball player and golfer is having trouble getting from one side of the room to the other because of Parkinson’s. My grandma’s mind is slowly losing focus from early Alzheimers. My other grandma is insisting on taking care of her invalid sister at the detriment of her own health. They’re on the sunset side of life and there’s no use denying it.

We smile watching the cuteness of little people learning to understand their world, but we don’t seem to have the same kind of understanding and patience with those whose lives are winding down.

I’m trying to understand what a life well lived looks like. I’m in the in between. Trying to maintain the wonderment of life at the beginning with a healthy dose of learning what I want living well to look like at the end of my life.

Is it strange or insensitive to say we have to learn how to die? There’s a beauty in that.


My Bucket List

In an unorganized, unfinished list, here’s my bucket list. I reserve the right to add or subtract from this list.

  1. Visit “Middle Earth” in New Zealand
  2. Sit in the pub where the Inklings met.
  3. Be debt free by the time I’m 30. November 2016
  4. Work at movie theater.
  5. Move to a new city where I don’t know anyone.
  6. Watch a concert or big event from a VIP box
  7. Visit every continent
  8. Stand in running water in the mountains somewhere wearing those funny pants
  9. Start my own company with my friends and siblings where we get to play everyday
  10. Develop a company that people want to work for and where they’re taken are of.
  11. Get to invest in other people’s dreams.
  12. Own a debt free company
  13. Attend Comic Con with Leo Partible and other Act One people
  14. Meet Zachary Levi at Nerd HQ
  15. Publish a children’s book
  16. Write and publish a book series
  17. Write a screenplay
  18. Turn a book series into movies and other new media
  19. Give away 90% of my income and live on 10%
  20. Get married
  21. Go on adventures with my husband
  22. Adopt
  23. Take my kids on adventures
  24. Be a foster parent, loving kids who need it and telling them that they’re worth it
  25. Live in a van for awhile, traveling around the country, taking pictures and telling stories
  26. Design and own my own home
  27. Own a place where other creatives can rest and create for a season like others have done for me
  28. Come to the end of my life, spent, having lived my purpose and given all I have. Live well.
  29. Visit London, the British Isles, Iceland and Germany
  30. Take classes at Oxford
  31. See the Swiss town that was the inspiration for Rivendell
  32. Learn to do handstands and aerial/acro yoga
  33. Tell stories that remind people that there’s hope, they’re made for more and they’re worth it
  34. Help pay for my nieces and nephews education
  35. Love without strings attached
  36. Take a singing lesson  November 2016
  37. Take martial arts or boxing lessons
  38. Learn to rock climb
  39. Jump from a plane
  40. Meet Malcom Gladwell
  41. Hug Bob Goff
  42. Shake Donald Miller’s hand
  43. Shake Scott Harrison’s hand
  44. Meet and work with Jeremy Cowart
  45. Discover the best chocolate chip cookies and be able to make them at home
  46. Work in some way shape or form with Pixar and ILMxLAB
  47. Meet and work with Kathleen Kennedy
  48. Live in Israel for a season of my life
  49. Own homes with my siblings across the country so we can travel and stay together.
  50. Pay for my parents home, so they can retire and travel without worrying about having what they need at the end of their lives.
  51. Travel to places along the East Coast where America began
  52. See shows on Broadway
  53. Hike all over Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park and all the parks in Utah
  54. Pick blueberries in Maine
  55. Watch a season of Sherlock when it’s released in England
  56. Visit South Africa to see Kruger National Park
  57. Own a hat from Worth & Worth

The Key to ‘Not Failing’ is Fear

Wiser people have talked at length about those who succeed take risks in spite of the fear not because they’re not afraid, so I won’t try to say it any better.

What I’ve been wrestling with is the fine line between wisdom and fear.

I’ve heard it time and time again, you learn best through failures, but I tend to protect myself from perceived failures.

Wait to move until you’re out of debt.

Take care of your obligations before pursuing passions.

Move back because you can’t leave your job like that.

On the surface all of those sound wise. They would set me up for a good – somewhat safe –  foundation to fail if I’m going to. But is there fear lying underneath that is keeping me from a failure that I need to learn from? Or keeping me from the destination that I’m trying to reach.

Or another way of saying it, “Am I using natural wisdom, as an excuse for not fully committing and masking my real fear of failure?”

Like most questions I ask myself, maybe it’s a bit of both.

Always Be a Tourist

When I came back to Omaha in November one of the things that I tried to bring back with me is the idea of being a tourist no matter where I am.

I’ve lived in the Omaha area my entire life, but I always went to the same places. The same restaurants, coffee shops, events, museums, church etc… When you tend to frequent the same places, it becomes comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of comfort and stability. I needed a bit of stability in my life at the end of 2015.

But when you never venture out, you lose sight of the bigger picture. You think you have a grasp on how the world works, but really, you only have a grasp of how the world works in those spheres. Without intending to, the world has become about your world.

LA was an eye opening experience for many reasons, but the one I learned the most from was falling into these other worlds. There are so many different perspectives on life and different ways of doing things. Right or wrong, there are usually reasons why each of us do, believe, and care about certain things. We’re living in a bubble if we don’t get out there to understand how other people’s worlds work.

Travel and wandering are my favorite ways to get out of my comfortability. Those may sound like you need to leave home, but that’s not always the case. Go off the beaten path. Visit another church. Find a new restaurant (news flash, there are always new restaurants.). Drive home a different way. Go to a library in a different part of town. Volunteer for a random event. Dive into Yelp to find hidden gems. Take a class.

I’ve been working on a project that I can’t seem to work on at the house, so almost every weekend since I’ve been back, I find a coffee shop and work for a few hours. I watch the people. Chat with the baristas. Judge the coffee or tea. I have my favorites that I like to go back to, but I keep an eye on Yelp for new things or I’ll drive to a different part of town.

It reminds me that there are things going on outside of the house that I live in, the job that I spend so much time on or the church that I attend each week. In short always being a tourist is one of my ways to always continue growing and learning. Life gets really boring without it.