Designers see artwork in every doorbell

No detail is too small to be artful, including your doorbell.

Timber Bronze 53® views its work that way. The hardware design company creates hand-crafted bronze knobs, pulls, handles, and, yes, doorbells that capture the vast beauty of the Pacific Northwest in a time-honored process blending art with function. But what makes Timber Bronze® unique is not only its ability to create one-of-a-kind pieces for customers but its desire to work with customers to create collaboratively and its hand-crafted, manual process. Timber Bronze® sees every drawer pull and cabinet knob as an opportunity to display art.

The Timber Bronze® process is different from what many call “oil rubbed bronze,” which in fact has no oil, rubbing, or probably even bronze in most cases. Timber Bronze® handcrafts a line of solid bronze products that have a dark, almost black appearance with soft coppery highlights showing through on detail such as cone petals and other high areas. Designers suggest Timber Bronze® pieces when customers need hardware that will work well with their “oil rubbed bronze” faucets, hinges, etc.

Timber Bronze® aims to reuse, repurpose and restore as much raw materials as possible during its process. They work to preserve the beauty of nature through their hand-crafted bronze pieces that capture the spirit and joy of nature from a tiny pine cone to a slight twig to the whimsy of a pig. Hand-crafted for Timber Bronze means pieces are manually produced by artisans using their hands and various small electrical and air tools and devices – as opposed to products made on production lines using large machines.

Where some hardware designers work behind the scenes, owners Garrett and Beth Lowe seek out one-on-one interaction with clients on both big and small orders to make sure the finished product is exactly what the client envisions and dreams of. They also pride themselves on the flexibility to make changes during the design process. Beth is a fifth-generation resident of Wallowa, Oregon. The brand name Timber Bronze 53® comes from the cattle brand used by her father and has been passed on to her to “reuse and repurpose.”

Timber Bronze® thinks the beauty found in Oregon reflects the beauty across the country from Miami to northern Maine or deep into the heart of Texas. Quality, customer service, warmth, responsiveness, innovative – words that describe the company, its product and the experience of working with Timber Bronze®.   You can reach Timber Bronze at (541) 263-2800 or contact Two Roads Communications.

Dr. Kim Stephens becomes second Project Alive president

Dr. Kim Stephens became just the second president of Project Alive this week, taking the reins from founding president, Melissa Hogan, who will continue as a board member and focus her efforts on the research side of finding a cure for the rare disease Hunter Syndrome. 

Stephens, who lives in Knoxville, Tenn., brings a tremendous amount of expertise and knowledge to this role, as well as energy and passion. She steps into the position as Project Alive is just $230,000 away from meeting its goal to fund a gene therapy clinical trial for Hunter Syndrome. The organization has raised a total of $2,268,820 and funded the preclinical work and vector manufacturing for the trial set to be conducted at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Stephens previously worked as Director of Fundraising for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In addition, she brings substantial business experience, having worked for IBM for 20 years in communications, product development for the IBM Accessibility Center, and most recently as the diversity and inclusion communications and education leader. Stephens received her doctorate in business from Georgia State University and focused her research on implicit bias and the role of social identity on behavioral change. She is the founder of Inclusive Thinking – a consulting company dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion through research, education, and strategic planning. In addition, she is an associate professor at Lincoln Memorial University teaching management and leadership in the MBA program.

She will work with Mario Estevez, vice president of Project Alive, to continue the non-profit’s mission.  Stephens’ son Cole was diagnosed with Hunter Syndrome, a rare and fatal disease that mainly affects boys, in 2012 at two and a half years old.

“We are thrilled that Kim is bringing her diverse set of skills to work for Project Alive. But most of all we are excited about the passion she has for our Hunter Syndrome family,” said Founder and Past President Melissa Hogan of Thompson’s Station, TN. “She is deeply dedicated to finding more promising treatments and a cure for our boys.”

With Stephens stepping into the role of president, Melissa Hogan will retain her role as founder and board member, now focusing more intently on the research side. Hogan’s experience with clinical trials and neurocognitive endpoints, as well as her work with the FDA as a patient representative and on the FDA/CTTI Patient Engagement Collaborative, will inform her efforts on patient outcomes in Hunter Syndrome. Insights from patient outcomes will be a tremendous asset to the Hunter Syndrome community considering promising research like gene therapy, gene editing and other treatments.

Project Alive is poised to serve the Hunter Syndrome community by continuing to fund and design research, assist industry in the space, and bring new insights into the scientific community about this rare disease. Project Alive continues to work closely with the National MPS Society and the other Hunter Syndrome groups with the goal of saving and improving the lives of those affected by the disease.   Project Alive is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for Hunter Syndrome (Mucopolysaccharidosis II) through research and advocacy. It is a powerful voice for children and adults with Hunter Syndrome, bringing together families and advocates with researchers, industry, and regulators. Project Alive funds promising curative research, assists researchers and industry with designing research studies for our community, and advocates for the most effective and efficient system of clinical research, evaluation, and approval. Through its innovative campaigns and grassroots efforts, Project Alive has made significant advances in public awareness about Hunter Syndrome and its symptoms, the need for early diagnosis, and available treatments and clinical trials.        

Synergy, design and letting it all come together

Logo created by Two Roads Communications

Two Roads Communications completed a project with Woodward Homes, putting together their website and designing a logo for their growing business. I was excited about the opportunity to work on this project because it meant I would be looking through photos of beautiful homes and working with a vibrant young couple building their business while also building their family.

As I always do, I met with the owners first to talk about what they wanted to include in their website functionally and then what they wanted out of their website in terms of telling their brand story. We went through a branding questionnaire I do with all my clients and got to uncover the story of why they began their business — because it combined the best of both of the husband and wife team’s professional talents while it also gave them the flexibility they needed as young parents.

We were able to document their story and how they came to this spot in their road on their “Our Story” page:

“Woodward Homes is a family business in every sense of the word. Founded by husband and wife team, Mike and Elizabeth Jakubowski, the business grew out of their areas of expertise in high-end residential construction and design. They have a combined 26 years of experience working on projects from small kitchen remodels to multi-million dollar homes. Mike started taking construction classes in high school and loved the creativity of working with his hands. He was instantly hooked and has worked in construction ever since. After growing up watching her parents design and build their own home, Elizabeth realized her love of residential design. And it is in each other that Elizabeth and Mike were able to develop their passion in home design even further. They work in concert with one another providing a seamless range of services. They also love to include their little guy for meetings and some home visits, truly rounding out the family feel of working with Woodward Homes. 

After living in Charleston, SC for 14 years, Mike and Elizabeth moved to Nashville in 2016. They were drawn to Nashville by its economy, vitality and creative culture. Once in Middle Tennessee, the family grew with the addition of their son. A few months before his birth in 2017, they expanded their family to also include Woodward Homes.”

It reminded me so much of working for The Tennessean early in my career, where my husband also worked. We were also fortunate enough to be given the flexibility we needed to start a family and keep our careers going. I am so excited for Mike and Elizabeth as they begin their journey.

What would you do if you had a dying child but there was a chance to save him?

Guest Blog by Allison Muedder

To see him running on the playground and to hear his belly laugh as he makes his way down the slide, you would never know it. You would never know he’s dying – not yet. It’s happening slowly, and we’re racing against the clock. My little guy has Hunter Syndrome, meaning his body is missing an enzyme responsible for recycling cellular waste. Overtime, the build-up will lead to progressive physical and neurological damage. The disease is ruthless, taking children’s ability to walk, talk and eat, and then taking their lives before their teen years.

Not long after my son Finn’s diagnosis, we connected with families collaborating with researchers through Project Alive. The goal was simple: to keep kids with Hunter Syndrome alive. After learning how close the researchers were — a new gene therapy drug is ready and approved for the first human clinical trial — and funding was the only obstacle, we took action. Our family dove headfirst into raising that money. We have been furiously trying to raise the money for the gene therapy clinical trial that could save our son’s life. Most days it feels hopeful and purposeful. Enough money was raised last year to begin making the clinical trial drug, which will be ready in July. If the remaining funds are raised, we can start the trial and give Finn a shot at life. It’s so tangible and yet so maddening that money is standing in the way of turning research into treatment.

For as grateful as I am for this hope, it’s also exhausting and all-consuming. I wake up at 3 a.m. reaching for my phone to jot down an idea for a social media post, a person to contact, or the next sentence in a grant cover letter. My mind never seems to stop thinking about how we can raise the money needed. And underneath it all, I wrestle with this nagging question: “Are my children suffering now because I’m trying so hard to preserve the future?”

I wonder if the pace at which we’re running to raise money for a cure is detrimental to his own development right now and to my girls’ well-being. This exhausted, often short-tempered mama feels like I’m handing my children anything but my “first fruits” when it comes to time and intentional motherhood. Meal planning has become obsolete and laundry piles are the new decorating trend in our home. Some days it feels like the perfect storm of anger, disappointment and discouragement as I think about the quality of my motherhood journey.

I feel guilty for time I spend on the computer or phone (or both simultaneously!). I feel guilty responding to emails, managing social media, or coordinating fundraising events instead of playing, reading books, or riding bikes. I feel guilty by the amount of time I leave my girls to take my son to appointments, therapies, and hospital stays.

I never expected motherhood to look this way. I’m not only living a story I never imagined, but I’m shocked with the overwhelming mommy guilt associated with caring for a child with special needs and fighting to save his life. Regardless of the story, I think most of us are living a different version of what we probably first imagined motherhood to look like.

We can become paralyzed by the disappointment and easily fall into the guilt trap by believing the lie that we should be able to do it all.  Or, we can shift and ask ourselves – what does “winning look like in this season and how do I adapt?”  Once I accepted this season was not going to be filled with Pinterest-inspired activities and new recipes, I adopted a few habits and boundaries to preserve snippets of the intentional mothering I craved:

  • Set specific one-on-one time with each child.
    • For example, I have arranged help for my youngest two children to keep a consistent “Friday mommy date” with my oldest daughter. After several months of the routine, it’s apparent she looks forward to this time the same day and time each week. In our hectic life, this has become a constant touchpoint for us.
  • Mark specific times during the week to unplug from phone and computer.
    • I mark it on my planner as “mommy time.” This helps me release the guilt of those other time periods where I may be “distracted mommy” knowing that I’ve got the time set aside to turn my phone on silent and place my laptop in the other room. Even if it’s an hour or two, I can sense my kids “buckets” are being filled and it can carry us through those days when I must be more split-focused and distracted.
  • Do simple activities they enjoy.
    • It’s easy to get carried away with this notion of creating new activities for our kids. Some of my sweetest moments lately have been spent coloring or baking banana bread.
  • Snuggle!
    • The power of bedtime snuggles — never underestimate them.

It’s not easy grieving and accepting parts of our story that are different than we expected. It’s not easy not knowing the ending to our difficult journeys. But I’m convinced we can thrive if we realign expectations and release the guilt. I’ve come to accept my children are more adaptable than I imagined and more gracious than I deserve.

What did you read in 2017?

Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman

As the year ends, I always stop and read the lists of best books. I see if I’ve read any of them and take note of those books I have not read or even heard of yet. I try to always have a book going. I find reading calming. It is both an escape and an enrichment exercise. This year I enjoyed some great new books, some old books and some completely different genres.

What is interesting to me about what I’ve been reading lately is that only about half the books I read are ones I’ve selected. I’m in a book club and so I read the selection of the month. That has stretched me in ways no book choices of my own could have. I’ve read books I would have never picked up and I’ve loved them. I’ve read genres I would not normally be attracted to and I’ve grown as a reader.

I’m always looking for new ideas, so let me know what you’ve read and liked this year (or what you didn’t like and I should steer clear of).

Here is my list of what I enjoyed reading in 2017:

Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman

I just recently finished this book and that could be a factor in why I’m talking about it first. But I also really enjoyed it. The book is Paul Stutzman’s account of the months he spent hiking the Appalachian Trail a year after his wife died. I was given the book by a friend who read the book and ended up meeting the author.  It was the right way for me to end my own year’s journey by tagging along on someone else’s trip.

When I started reading the book, I was not sure if I would like the spiritual aspects of the book because I tend to shy away from that in my casual reading. But I didn’t mind his stories about conversations with God and his accounts of growing closer to God while he was on the trail. I’ve always felt closest to God in nature and so I related easily to his message. I also decided that I would read this book one chapter a day so as to sort of “hike” with Stutzman each morning before I started my day.  I started to look forward to reading Stutzman’s account of his day on the trail before I got out of bed each morning. I felt transported. I also felt like dropping everything and heading to the Appalachian Trail on more than one occassion while reading the book.

Stutzman details each day similarly. He writes about where he slept, how many miles he hiked, the terrain, the surroundings, the weather,  the flowers he ate, etc., but I didn’t get tired of reading these accounts. I found the repetition comforting and the story kept me engaged and reading. I was sorry Stutzman finished the trail and I finished the book because I lost my morning hike through the pages. He’s also written a book about hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. That hike is on my bucket list, so I’ve got Stuck in the Weeds, Stutzman’s account of that journey and time on the Mississippi River, on my list to read in 2018.

Finally, I just wanted to share a little story. I read a short devotion each morning and have being doing that for a couple of years. So when I was reading Hiking Through each morning, I read my devotion first, then a chapter in the book. On Dec. 20, my devotion in the monthly reader I use called Living Faith was titled, “All Shall Be Well.” I finished the devotion and picked up Hiking Through to read the next chapter about Stutzman finally reaching Maine (he began his hike in Georgia 2,200 miles from it’s ending point in Maine). As I read the last sentence of the chapter, I saw the last three words, “all was well.” Maybe somebody was trying to tell me something? Or maybe it was just a happy coincidence, but it added to how much I enjoyed this read.

Three books I read this year that I’ve already written about:

  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande – This is a book I would have not found on my own. It was a book club selection and I did judge this book too early thinking I was not going to get through it because it was written by a doctor about end-of-life issues. Boy was I wrong. I loved this book and have recommended it repeatedly since I finished it. I wrote about it in another blog along with Option B by Sheryl Sandberg. Read more here.
  • What do you do with an idea? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom – This is a children’s story book that I’ve written an entire blog about, too. I continue to give it as a gift to both children and adults. Read my blog on the book and take five minutes to read this story book if you haven’t already. It could spark a little fire inside you like it did for me.

Back to the other books I enjoyed this year. One is Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance. My book club read this book in March 2017 and the timing was perfect. A few months into the new presidential administration it was fascinating to read JD Vance’s account of his life and his explanation of why there is such a deep division in this country. I believe Vance finished the book well before the election but it is so interesting to read now, in today’s political atmosphere. Having said that, the book is not about politics. It is about JD Vance’s life growing up poor in Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky.  The subtitle, “A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” sheds more light on the real meat of the story.

This year I finally read Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It was published when I was in high school but finally made it to my bedside table this year. And it scared the **** out of me. If you have not read this novel, it is worth your time. So much has been written about it I am not sure what else to say about Atwood’s book. Read it before you watch the new TV series. The books are always better.

This year I read my first graphic novel, March, Book 3 by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell. The book is about the civil rights struggle in the 1960s. I did not read comic books when I was young and it took me a few pages to figure out even how to read a graphic novel. Once I figured it out, though, I found it a statisfying way to read a story. I am hoping my teenager reads this one in 2018.

I love to read fiction based on historical events. This year that book for me was Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck. What I loved about this story is the perspective. I’ve read many fiction books set in World War II (I think my all-time favorite is All the Light We Cannot See, which I read in 2016) but this was the first one I’ve read from the perspective of German citizens living through a war they did not support either privately or as a part of the resistance. I found a few of the characters unsympathetic but I enjoyed the view other characters gave me through the story.

After listing to an NPR interview with Jay-Z, I decided to read Decoded, his book about hip-hop, his life and his music. I don’t love hip-hop and usually can only take one or two songs before  I asked my daugther to change the channel or switch the song. Jay-Z’s book gave me a little more appreciation for the genre. I still don’t listen to hip-hop but I can appreciate the music and the stories being told much more now.

One of the things I love about reading is talking about books and sharing books with others. Just the other night I was meeting with a friend and client. Like so many other conversations, we ended up talking about the books we are reading. I jotted down the name of three books she recommended and she was scribbling down some of the titles I shared.

Reading is solitary and personal. But it is also universal and unifying. I’m workign on my list of books to read for 2018. The first one on my list is Finish, Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff. I saw him speak earlier this month and thought this would be a good way to start the new year.

My daughter will begin a new semester course this month on military literature. The first book in the course guide is Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. I was lucky enough to take a class with Stephen Ambrose when I was a student at the University of New Orleans. He taught a large WWII lecture class maybe every third semester. I had read the book, Rise to Globalism, as a part of a history class my senior year in high school. Three years later when I was scheduling classes, I saw his name and scrambled to get into the class. It was, hands down, the best class I took in all of college and since. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am that my daughter is reading one of his books now.

I’ve read Pegasus Bridge, Panzer Commander and Eisenhower, so I’m planning to grab Band of Brothers as soon as she is finished with it.

Here’s to many more good reads in 2018.

No words necessary, just hope and possibility

Achilles Nashville's first race in 2014.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog was originally published Wednesday, May 14, 2014 on the Overbrook School Blog. It was written when I was serving as director of communications for Overbrook School and campus host facilitator for the first Achilles Hope & Possibility race in Nashville.  The race continues this weekend, Oct. 21, 2017, on The Dominican Campus. Join me there again this year. 

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” For those involved with Achilles International Nashville Hope and Possibility race, words were not necessary. The gospel was living, breathing and, in hundreds of cases, running a five miler.

Melanie Yappen was one of the original founders of the Achilles International Nashville chapter, an organization that pairs able-bodied athletes with disabled athletes for weekly runs and road races, and the first race thre years ago. Mrs. Yappen said nearly 700 runners ran the first race with 10% being disabled. The disabled runners ranged from blind runners to amputees. Some completed the race in wheel chairs and on hand-pedal bikes while still others were pushed.

“It was truly an inspirational celebration of running by athletes of all abilities,” said Mrs. Yappen, that first year as she stood at the finish line cheering on all athletes and giving out as many hugs and high-fives as she did medals. “We hope on a broader scope that our community-unifying event will paint a brighter horizon for healthier lifestyles for people with disabilities and an increased acceptance of people with disabilities.”

Continue reading “No words necessary, just hope and possibility”

Value responsiveness

Do you value responsiveness?

Do you consider responsiveness a value?

Is it important to you that someone with whom you have a personal or business connection is “quick to respond or react appropriately or sympathetically”?

It may seem out of line with values such as integrity, respect, honesty and responsibility but responsiveness is a tremendously important value that seems to be slipping away from many in both the personal and business world. Responsiveness may be corroding, in part, because of the technology that on the surface seems to help us stay better connected. However, the blame cannot be all technology’s because responsiveness is a human value not an algorithm.

We all get emails, texts and (sometimes) letters and phone calls daily. They can pile up, especially if you’re running a business or a school or an organization large or small. However, not responding to these messages sends a message whether you intend it to or not.

“If someone walked up to you and asked you a question, would you turn around and walk away from them without responding? Would you ever do that to someone?” asked Shana Rossi, director of admissions at Padua Academy and consultant with Partners in Mission. Yet, not responding to emails, texts and phone calls does essentially that. It turns around and walks away from someone without a word.

Continue reading “Value responsiveness”

Camille, Betsy, Katrina, Harvey & Irma

Recommended reading about Katrina.

It was Sunday morning and I woke up early, maybe 6 a.m., because I couldn’t sleep. I went downstairs and turned on the TV and there it was staring at me from the radar, eating up most of the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Katrina.

Heart racing, I grabbed the phone and called my parents, who lived in New Orleans. My mother answered, groggy.

“Mom, get up! What are you doing? You need to evacuate now.”

“We’re staying,” she said. She always said that.

Everyone did before Katrina. I grew up in a suburb of New Orleans and my whole life I heard stories about Camille (1969) and Betsy (1965), like they were family members who were always getting into trouble. I think maybe my Uncle Kenny lost his camp in Betsy? And maybe it was Camille that my mother told me she sat in her house and watched the trees bend half way to the ground in the howling wind, never breaking, just bending with the storm? I have one vivid memory of sleeping in a hallway when I was young – not even six – with a mattress leaning against the wall making a tent of sorts for me and my sister. I don’t remember which hurricane it was. But I was gone by the time Katrina hit. I woke up in Tennessee that Sunday.

Continue reading “Camille, Betsy, Katrina, Harvey & Irma”

Far is near

Welcome to America

Maybe a year and a half ago my daughter came to the dinner table one night and asked, “How much does it cost to send candy to the Netherlands?”

“What? Why do you ask?” we responded.

“I want to send some candy to the Netherlands,” she replied nonchalantly.

“To who?”

“To my friend. She is sending me some candy from the Netherlands and I’m sending her candy from America.”

Whoa. Wait. What?

“Did you give someone from the internet our address?”

Continue reading “Far is near”

Language lessons

Ms. Hollahan's students

Amy Wieck Hollahan taught for 17 years before she found her calling as a teacher.

This week she met a new group of students, most of whom don’t speak English. She can’t stop smiling when she talks about these children who come into her classroom each fall having just been torn from their former lives and “placed” here in Nashville. She will help them learn English this year, teach them about classroom rules and even get in some math lessons. But they have taught her so much more.

Hollahan spent 15 years teaching in a private Catholic school before she decided to move to Metro. Her daughter was teaching at Haywood Elementary and she decided to apply. She taught fourth grade for two years at Haywood before she was asked to get her English Language endorsement and teach English Language Learners (ELL), or as they are also called, SIFE (Students with Interrupted Formal Education).  The first year she taught she had 19 children in her class from seven different countries.

Continue reading “Language lessons”