Tag Archives: Decatur

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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Posted in Atlanta, Ben Smith, Inspiration, Life Changes, Reinvention, Saporta, Self-Help, Transformation | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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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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 , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Looking in plain sight for Atlanta’s random signs of optimism

A random shoe track on a downtown Atlanta sidewalk turned into a  “spontaneous smiley”—a feat akin to finding the face of Elvis in a piece of toast, but a whole lot easier.

People all over the world (like me) discover, photograph and post spontaneous smileys to social media as a creative challenge to others. It is tailor made for creative thinkers and distracted people in our crowded and gridlocked city. This fun scavenger hunt can be done anywhere, and a handy time-killer when you’re stuck waiting.

Looking for the most basic sign of happiness in ordinary circumstances will shift your mood and mindset. Looking for a smiling face can release positive brain chemicals like dopamine. The scientific term for this pursuit is pareidolia, when a vague and random stimulus is perceived as significant (after all, it was just a footprint…). It is an example of how mindfulness identifies the extraordinary in ordinary life.
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Atlanta’s Makers and the Next Industrial Revolution

In metro Atlanta and across the country, a revolution appears to be underway in libraries, recreation centers and workspaces. Amid the mass marketng from big box stores and online retailers and other forces that tell us what we need and how to order it, some people with skills are assembling for change.

They are techno-geeks, artists and craftspeople. They wield computers, 3D printers, laser cutters, transistors, glue guns, canvasses, acrylic paints, embroidery hoops and a wide range of other tools. They can be hobbyists, inventors or entrepreneurs.

The revolution is called the “Makers Movement,” a growing grass roots do-it-ourselves culture seeking to reinvent their pockets of consumer society, and the third annual Atlanta Mini Maker Faire featuring workshops and exhibits on robotics, electric vehicles, computing, 3D printing, green technology, among other topics, is scheduled Oct. 26 at Georgia Tech.
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Posted in Atlanta, Ben Smith, Inspiration, Michelle Hiskey, Reinvention, Saporta, Transformation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Decatur, a peek into the mind of Temple Grandin

Autistic author and professor of animal science Temple Grandin, the hero of the eponymous Emmy award-winning HBO movie, wowed a recent crowd of more than 800 who packed into the pews, the balcony, the choir seats behind the pulpit and even snuck in guarded doors at First Baptist Church of Decatur.

They flocked to this famous face of high-functioning autism, drawn to her gift of describing and communicating her inner life and her willingness to advocate for those with learning disabilities. Appearing in customary western wear—a turquoise cowgirl shirt with floral yoke and cuffs and neck scarf tied bandanna style—Grandin spoke for more than 75 minutes, and resourcefulness was a big part of her message. Continue reading

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Rain or shine, Drive Invaders make weekly pilgrimage to outdoor movies

Every Wednesday night — even relentlessly rainy evenings like last week — a group of metro Atlantans reclaim a fun childhood memory and help preserve a piece of Americana that is rapidly disappearing from the nation’s landscape.

Last week, Suellen Germani and the rest of the Drive Invaders gathered to watch “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” at the Starlight Six Drive-In, the last outdoor movie theater in metro Atlanta. Instead of a playground, Germani and her grown-up movie companions each paid $7 to tailgate in the rain and watch the movie through wet windshields. The outdoor movie ritual reminds her of when she was around kindergarten age, at dusk on a playground at the foot of a giant movie screen. The memory always ended with her asleep in her parents’ car during the second show of the double feature.
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For 15 years, the mark of an Atlanta newcomer: a 678 phone number

Fifteen years ago this month, 678 became Atlanta’s third telephone prefix, and every call became a 10-digit dial. Today, when smartphones let us tap to connect, it’s easy to forget past milestones in how Atlantans connect – and what those turning points meant in the perception of the city’s growth and who we are.

For many native Atlantans inside I-285, there’s 404 and everything else. That’s what they grew up with. The 770, 678 and 470 will always belong to the Johnny-come-latelys and suburbanites.

The 404 prefix is dialed into their identity, a shared jersey number for the veterans on Atlanta’s home team. It is a holdover from a simpler time, before the rest of us got here and made life a whole lot more complicated.
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For veteran journalist, neighborhood trail leads to a new beat

Note from Michelle: This week’s column is by guest writer Ben Smith, who happens to be my husband. Many of you know him from his days as an AJC political reporter.  

By Ben Smith

In my old life, hitting the trail meant following the money, traveling with a campaign or tracking down a criminal.

Today it simply means taking my dog for walks in the woods and keeping my eyes open.

Yet in the three years since I left the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and sought to reinvent myself in the digital age, I have discovered that my skills as a reporter easily translate to a “beat” that is much smaller, more isolated and surprisingly weird.
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Posted in Atlanta, Inspiration, Life Changes, Michelle Hiskey, Reinvention, Saporta, Transformation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

For working parents, new childcare solutions sprout like Bean

Amid the Presidential debate chatter of workplace inequality and “binders full of women” catchphrase is the real bind that working parents find themselves in every day: how to succeed at work and childcare.

Adela Yelton is in the middle of that daily juggle herself as an entrepreneur serving working families. Her business is a novel answer to that need for working families. Bean Work Play Café near the Agnes Scott area of Decatur offers a portal into how these moms and dads are making ends meet, and seeking more flexibility, in the Great Recession.

At Bean, a parent can plug in down the hall from the childcare area. No rush to leave the office to beat traffic and late pick-up fees. Since Bean opened in March 2011, and began offering a flexible preschool a few months ago, about 200 “co-working” families have dropped in.
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Posted in Atlanta, Career Makeover, Reinvention, Saporta, Transformation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments