Author Archives: Michelle Hiskey

About Michelle Hiskey

Michelle Hiskey is a freelance writer and writing coach based in Decatur, and her day job is senior editor on Emory University's development communications team. Michelle worked at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 22 years as a sports reporter, columnist and Sunday feature writer, and her stories of recovery and redemption bridge unexpected places and people across Atlanta. She lives in Decatur with her husband Ben Smith, also a journalist, and their two awesome daughters. She can be reached at michelle.hiskey@gmail.com.

To journalists on front line, Atlanta chaplain offers lifeline

The beheading of James Foley troubled Dorie Griggs of Roswell on a level that most of us cannot relate to. For the last 12 years she has followed an unpaid calling as a chaplain to journalists, especially those in combat zones.

It would be hard to find anyone in metro Atlanta who understands and supports the news gatherers who rush to danger without the benefit of trauma training. And sometimes don’t come back.
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Obscure inventor, quirky museum plow roots of television

Rigby, Idaho—Life before television lies in stark relief here in this small high desert town (pop. 4000) in southeastern Idaho. Its claim to fame is the birthplace of TV, where a teenaged farm boy first thought up the technology to carry images through the air into our homes.

The story is told at the quirky Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum, which itself could be a destination for the Travel Channel. In this converted hotel, amid the animal trophies, retro beauty shop mannequins and collections of barbed wire, you can find his quintessentially American hard-luck inventor story. Philo Farnsworth believed he could invent a device to transmit pictures and sound over long distance, and he did it without getting much credit or fortune.
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At 78, my healthy mom’s guide to dying well

My parents both turned 78 last week, and they remain so fit that I am unsure, at 51, if I can keep up. I know that they won’t always be alive, but picturing them gone is hard to wrap my mind around. It’s too painful. So I rarely dwell on that reality.

One surprising Sunday afternoon late last month cleared the hard-packed sand around my ostrich head, and helped me start accepting the fact of their eventual deaths. Especially if you’re in the sandwich generation and put off dealing with this reality….
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At 72, Chuck Wolf still developing a photo legacy

At 72, Chuck Wolf has reinvented himself from the owner of a national chain of camera stores to a single boutique storefront in Sandy Springs. Chuck Wolf’s Photo Bar points to how phones and social media make it easy to document our lives, but in the fast pace of digital life, how many of us take a longer view of what we want most to leave behind?

Wolf’s knack has always been to understand that photos aren’t about people and places and moments; they are about our identities and values. The Photo Bar serves those customers, some of whom want to curate and manipulate the selves they show to the world.
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Color Runs: The Peachtree Road Race’s millennial offspring

The Peachtree Road Race on July 4 is rooted in a time when running wasn’t popular. Out on the multicolored, millennial fringes of outdoor recreation for young adults, the clenched-teeth grind is passé.

By turning up the party, color runs have become a popular mixing zone for socializing, sweating, and social media. If anything was tailor made for the selfie and the “unique shareable experiences” craved by the millennial generation, it’s a color run.
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Atlanta men, man up for girls. Period.

Without men, you can’t spell menstruation. And that’s as far as most men want to read about this subject. But local men like Nathan Hilkert are manning up to encourage other men to pitch in for Days for Girls, a volunteer effort that targets a big barrier to educating girls in developing countries. When they have their periods, they miss school. Days for Girls prepares and delivers reusable feminine hygiene kits.

Men and boys play an incredibly important role in tackling the taboos around menstruation that isolate and weaken girls and help lead to sexual exploitation and violence.
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With love to Garcia Marquez, one word at a time

On a day that seemed so damp that fish could have come in through the door and floated out the windows, lovers of the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014) gathered at Kavarna coffeehouse in Decatur to pay their respects by reading from his timeless stories of families, war, death, and above all, the magic of love.

They came to 100 Readers of Solitude, named in homage to the author’s greatest novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien Anos de Soledad).” One by one they read vigorously, declaratively, and with humor, like Garcia Marquez wrote.
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Still Nonessential after 18 years playing Atlanta’s blues

When the federal government closed down in 1995, three furloughed workers at the Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta and their politically-appointed boss figured out how to stay busy. Instead of helping green the Southeast, the four started playing the blues.

The Nonessentials have stuck with one constant through nearly two decades: the three simple chords that make up the blues. On a part-time basis, they’ve played festivals, restaurants and other events. They’ve played as their founder retired from public service, one left government work and the two remaining EPA employees became nonessential once again in last week’s federal shutdown.

The stoppage brought back the story of how the band formed, the power of music to connect and sustain, and the possibility of bad news leading to new opportunities.
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For warped lives, re:loom and Spanx weave new hope

When Fred Brown’s ex-girlfriend went to prison in 2011 and left their son in his care, he knew he had to change the pattern of his life. Brown was homeless and didn’t want Damari, then only 9 months old, to grow up like he did—seeing his first dead body on the street at six years old and getting so used to the sight that it “was no big deal” by the time he was an adult.

Last week, Brown told his story from the headquarters of re:loom, where he turns recycled clothing and textiles into rugs and other items. Re:loom is nonprofit that helped him find his way back by teaching him the ancient art of weaving, and it got a big boost when another grassroots Atlanta business—Spanx—began globally promoting re:loom.
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Posted in Atlanta, Ben Smith, Inspiration, Life Changes, Michelle Hiskey, Reinvention, Saporta, Self-Help, Self-improvement, Transformation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Searching for the poet James Dickey, finding beauty in the grotesque

Searching for a column topic while on vacation in the small beach community of Pawleys Island, S.C., I learned that the poet and novelist James Dickey (1923-1997) was buried here.

Dickey, a one-time United States Poet Laureate and author of “Deliverance” was a native Atlantan, a graduate of North Fulton High School. Even better, a complete anthology of his poetry had been released a few months earlier. The new book made him topical.

After multiple efforts turned up nothing and the idea fell to the wayside, one of the names on Dickey's tombstone appeared a month later at the Decatur Book Festival. Bronwen Dickey's memories contrasted sharply with the popularized image of him as an outrageous alcohol-swamped fabulist depicted in unflattering biographies and exaggerated tales.
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