The Zen of DownsizingFeb 24, 2015 08:00AM ● By David Williams
Anne Ginn’s epiphany came when she was ankle-deep in a pile of leaves.
“It came to me while I was raking,” says Ginn. “I was filling the last bag of leaves of the season and decided that it would also be the last bag of leaves of my life.”
So Anne, whose husband, Bob, had passed away in 2012, sold her Loveland-area home and packed her belongings. Well, some of them anyway. “One of the things that wasn’t negotiable were my art books,” she says. “We had hundreds of books…voracious readers…but I kept only my art books.”
It’s no surprise that Ginn, who now lives at Riverfront Place, could not part with the source of such creative inspiration. Ginn was a co-owner of the now-closed String of Purls knitting shop. She is, of course, an accomplished knitter, but she is also an artist in her own right and is perhaps best known for her wildly imaginative pattern designs for sweaters, scarves, and accessories.
Another grouping that would make the move with Ginn was her marble collection. The much-travelled Ginn, who also scours the globe in search of the most spectacular of scuba spots, amassed the collection one country at a time.
“They are just little works of art in glass,” Ginn says. “Besides being things of great beauty, they are storytellers. Each one reminds me of where I’ve been. They are almost like little sacred objects, all with a meaning and story of their own.”
Joining the construction of Gallup’s headquarters and the National Parks Regional Headquarters, Riverfront Place was the residential keystone of the city’s first major NoDo riverfront development. The Phase 1 tower, where Anne rents her space from the unit’s owners, was completed in 2007 along with an adjoining block of 57 townhomes. Phase 2, completed in 2011, added a second tower and an additional 50 townhomes.
Ginn’s end-cap condo offers floor-to-ceiling exposure to the East, South, and West. The three-fold orientation, she says, offers almost perfect symmetry. Ginn begins her day in the glow of a cobalt-blue sunrise on one side of her condo and, after the shortest of commutes, ends the day basking in the flame-red sunsets on the opposite side.
Riverfront Place boasts some of the most dramatic sightlines of any downtown living space. Looming below is the towering Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, whose base is grounded by a plaza featuring a popular, get-your-feet-wet water feature.
By June, the plaza will also have a removable stage and will increasingly become the home of evening concerts in the shadow of “The Bob,” Omaha’s signature structure.
Her 9th floor perch happens to place her at eye-level with flocks of soaring Canada geese. It’s also the perfect vantage point for taking in the breathtaking fireworks that light up the night sky during the holidays, the NCAA College World Series, and other special events. On the day of the interview, perfectly round orbs of ice swirled as they elbowed their way downstream in the river below. It was an ethereal, otherworldly sight, one not unlike a work of abstract art that had come to life. The mesmerizing ice dance mirrored images of the undulating, slow motion ballet performed by the jellyfish at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
“I worried that this [Riverfront Place] would be too remote,” says Ginn of the site that isn’t exactly downtown and isn’t exactly at the core NoDo. “But it turned out to be just the opposite. I’m not in the middle of anything, but I’m sort of in the middle of everything. Just look,” she says with a sweep of a hand in gesturing to the river, bridge, TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, CenturyLink Center Omaha, and the city’s skyline.
Ginn’s move to condo living was something of an experiment for her. Now she says she’s considering buying a condo at Riverfront once her lease expires.
“This has become the perfect place me,” she says. “Add to that all the amenities [indoor parking, concierge service, health clubs, access to miles of hiking trails on both sides of the river, and more] and I am just really enjoying life here.”
Ginn is an avid disciple of Bikram yoga who teaches at Creighton University during the summer. She is also a spiritual director, one who has taken a decidedly Zen-like approach to downsizing.
“Things—physical things, belongings, stuff—require care and maintenance,” she explains. “There is a weight to them, both physical and mental, that occupies and distracts the mind. The kind of weightiness I now seek is in other, more meaningful aspects of my life.”