January 21, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Downtown Omaha pulses to the beat of live music, clinking glasses, and laughter, but while 20-somethings wander, propping one another up, scurrying from one bar to the next, Mary-Beth and Bruce Muskin find themselves settling slowly, calmly into a night on the town. For them, taking in everything downtown offers is not just for one night out, it is an invariable part of their new lifestyle.

About a year ago, the couple moved from the Leawood West house they lived in for 26 years. They got rid of “stuff upon stuff upon stuff.” While the couple loved their suburban home and neighborhood, they needed less space and desired a more vibrant lifestyle.

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“When we first moved in it felt like a permanent vacation,” Mary-Beth says. Nonetheless, the move hasn’t changed their day-to-day participation or interest in everyday pursuits. He is a small business owner while she is involved in local organizations including Omaha 360, Youth Emergency Services, and Take Flight Farms. She returned to work in August as the Anti-Defamation League Regional Director serving Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas.

Blessed with all four living parents, Mary-Beth and Bruce became inspired by the beauty of the aging process. It soon became important for them to eliminate extra stuff. With their children grown, the Muskins opened their minds and hearts to an entirely new way of living. They enjoy helping their parents but learned that by scaling back their own lifestyle, they’ve made it easier on themselves today and their children in the future.

Muskins3“There is a lot of fun activity right outside our door,” Mary-Beth shares. “We have everything from excellent food, great exercise areas, the arts, and sporting events.”

She also mentions that while she and Bruce can participate in just about anything by walking a short distance, their home is quiet when they return—a welcome advantage. Once taking time to discover their new surroundings, Mary-Beth and Bruce now immerse themselves in activities including live music at Nosh, movies at Film Streams, outdoor happy hours, the College World Series, and Creighton basketball games. Additionally, they find that they use the downtown farmer’s market as their primary source of fresh produce from May through October.

Mary-Beth and Bruce have slipped into their new habits easily. Their children—Anne, Matt, Emily, and Zach—none of whom live in Omaha, are pleased with the decision their mom and dad made, deeming it as much more manageable for their parents. However, the children do sometimes wish that there was more space for guests—specifically bedrooms. While the Muskins do have a spare bedroom, Mary-Beth admits it is almost constantly occupied by various rotating guests.

An added bonus to their new living quarters is how much less they need to drive from place to place—but walking isn’t their only option. “We are looking forward to using the newly installed bikes [the B-cycle bike rental stations] to move around downtown and midtown,” Mary-Beth admits. Additionally, she shares that she no longer purchases shoes unless they’ll be comfortable for at least a mile. Of course, it’s impossible for her to be upset about this. After all, the very pulse of Omaha is waiting to greet her and her husband just outside their front door.

Visit omahadowntown.org to learn more.

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