Saporta

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, keep reading. Continue reading

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Local mandala expert advises: Wait to make resolutions

Let me guess. It’s barely two weeks into 2014 and you’re already wavering on your New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’ve blown them altogether. Or if you’re like me, you haven’t even started them yet. What was supposed to be a fresh start is already a dead end.

Maybe we’ve got this all wrong. Susanne Fincher says the dead of winter is precisely the wrong time to setting out to change ourselves. She’s a Jungian psychotherapist, a licensed counselor, registered art therapist and a leading international expert on mandalas—sacred circles found throughout centuries and cultures. At the core of her work is the study and understanding of cycles and patterns that are universal.
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In Steve Walton’s lights, holidays on the edge

Steve Walton’s Christmas display around his Virginia Highland bungalow features a manger and baby Jesus without mom and dad, a monstrous snowman’s head and the effigy of an elderly woman who apparently got run over by a reindeer.

There are no flashing holiday lights, dime store decorations or blow up Santas. His displays are funny and edgy, sometimes quite dark and suggestive of a sense of longing for an artist who has experienced considerable loss in his life.

He moved on with his life by turning discarded stuff into elaborate, seasonal lawn displays. After the death of his partner in 1989, “I started to see the yard as a palette, not a chore,” said Walton, 59, last week.  “It was very therapeutic.”
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At Beatles v. Stones, the anchoring power of music and memory

Living in uncertain times, we’re all looking for anchors. Nostalgia is a powerful one, as is music and lending a helping hand.

Friday night, more than 800 people showed up in Midtown to hear 13 bands who tried to recreate the time of peace, love and understanding known as the 1960s through the songs of two iconic bands: The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

The music of these bands is now timeless, but in its day it was revolutionary, and the gray heads in the audience may have flashbacked like I did to a time when rock first moved us and when some of us sought to move others.

Beatles vs. Stones reminded me of my own altruistic early rocker roots in Staunton, Va. I played with a hastily assembled band called Ravenscroft in my first gig in a church basement.
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As holiday cards grow rare, Randy Osborne sends daily letter with care

In the coming weeks, as Americans rush to shove hastily written holiday cards and form letters in mail boxes to friends and family members, Randy Osborne will still pen a letter a day to a stranger.

Osborne doesn’t care if his letters arrive before a day attached to a religious figure or public cause. More than a resolution, his Letter a Day Project is about connection through a nostalgic form of messaging. It is one man’s reply to a national nosedive in personal correspondence.

“I think people really want some kind of contact even if it’s from a stranger, something that takes time and attention,” said Osborne, 58, who teaches fiction and non-fiction writing at Emory University and co-founded Carapace, a monthly storytelling event at Manuel’s Tavern.
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Weekly potluck dinner turns Atlanta friends into family

The bonds of family and friendship can be created through the sacrament of a regular shared mealtime, and it  doesn’t have to be as seldom or elaborate as the big Thanksgiving event many of us will travel thousands of miles to celebrate this Thursday.

For several years, Owen Mathews has hosted what he calls Potluck Dinner every week at his Midtown studio. It has grown into a broad range of young to early-middle aged professionals of assorted ethnic backgrounds and experiences.

“It’s almost like we have family dinner once a week,” said Sara Le Meitour, who is engaged to another potluck regular.
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Longtime Atlanta protester targets Walmart and more

Even though Walmart will likely take over Suburban Plaza shopping center in Decatur, Brian Sherman still isn’t giving up. Late last week, he stood among a couple of dozen placard-waving protesters from Good Growth DeKalb insisting Walmart can still be stopped.

Their unflagging commitment intrigued me. I stopped at their protest, feeling cynical in the wake of news that the Atlanta Braves will move to Cobb County. Why continue to fight Big Money, the Power, the Man, or whatever you call It when It always seems to get Its way? That was my question to Sherman, who at 70 has been fighting the fight since the 1960s.

“Because,” said Sherman rather defiantly, “We eventually win.”
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Local artist injects dark humor into diabetes

Diagnosed with diabetes in her first year at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Leah Owenby felt anger, fear and other deep emotions. Those feelings now are channeled into whimsical, funky and jarring pieces of art in “My Creepy Diabetes Show” at Yay Studio in Avondale Estates. She assembles syringes, test strips and other found objects familiar to all of us with this disease to create darkly humorous statements about dealing with the hideous monster that never leaves our bodies. By putting eyes and Lego legs on her blood glucose meters, for instance, she converted them into “glucobots.”

There is a sobering enormity to her work that reminded me that she and I and millions of us with diabetes most likely will die of this disease. No matter how much we exercise and try to eat right, it is always stalking us.
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Under I-85, DOT linking Atlantans to nature and BeltLine

The unfinished trail is bordered in part by cedar trees native to the Himalayas. It runs by a creek where, on a recent morning, fallen leaves floated like boats and a blue heron glided gracefully over the water. Up a steep bank, cars and trucks roar along Interstate 85.

Welcome to the new Creekside Trail, a transformative project by the Georgia Department of Transportation to turn a half-mile of scrubland north of Lindbergh Drive into a hiking path. This is one example that the BeltLine is becoming a catalyst for other trail projects.

The trail, between I-85 and the North Fork of Peachtree Creek, is the first nature trail built by the state transportation agency. It reveals more than just a small oasis right under the tires of thousands of daily commuters in Atlanta. It’s a spawn of the mothership BeltLine, a secondary trail that is supposed to beckon Atlantans out of their cars to walk or bike to work in Buckhead and northeast Atlanta.
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Transformed by refugees, Clarkston takes stage in ‘Third Country’

“I just want to know one thing: How do we stop the refugees from coming here?” That faceless voice rings from a cast member planted in the audience at the Horizon Theatre.

The play is“Third Country,” a drama based on the seismic change in Clarkston, which in the past 20 years has transformed from a predominantly white Atlanta suburb into what Time magazine called the most diverse square mile in America.

In this play by first-generation Egyptian-American Suehyla El-Attar, Clarkston is called Sidington, and the plot captures the intense emotions and misperceptions across our country about newcomers and the meaning of home, between ourselves and our shared space.
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