Fill Your Self Care Cup This Fall

These local businesses will nourish your mind, soul and bod


the meaning of self care, I am reminded of flight attendants’ instructions to put your own oxygen mask on first before attempting to help those around you. My takeaway: it is essential that we take care of ourselves first, so that we can show up for our spouse, children, friends and community. Too often, self care gets tossed to the wayside because we are dividing limited time between career, family, social life, hobbies and more. But if we don’t designate time to nourishing our minds, bodies, and souls, we are likely to burn out.

In the spirit of self care, we’ve culled a list of Decatur businesses and services that will help you to prioritize wellness and integrate it into your daily routine. We even asked these local business owners how they practice self care, in case you need some tips.

Gain New Perspective with Therapy and Life Coaching

Nicole Miller, MS, LPC, NCC
Psychotherapist & Prepare/Enrich Trainer
Inner Edge Counseling, LLC

Therapy offers a variety of benefits to patients, including a safe, non-judgmental environment and an objective individual to help you accomplish a variety of goals and outcomes, according to Local Psychotherapist Nicole Miller. It also gives patients a greater understanding of self, increased relationship satisfaction, stress management, increased mood, reduced anxiety, improved communication skills and development of effective coping mechanisms for emotional awareness and regulation.

“Therapy helps individuals understand themselves on a deeper level, develop greater emotional awareness, make meaning of lived experiences and can ultimately help to create meaningful and intentional lives, relationships and careers,” says Miller, who says she wanted to become a therapist after seeing the benefits of therapy in her teenage years, following her parents’ divorce. Today, watching her clients’ transformations and seeing them achieve their goals, create change and experience breakthroughs in their lives is her favorite part of her job.

“I was drawn to helping others move through difficult chapters in their lives in order to promote effective coping strategies and make meaning of their circumstances,” she adds.

How do you engage in self care?

“I enjoy taking walks with my husband in nature, strength training and kickboxing. I feel my best when I am listening to my body in terms of the activities I engage in, the foods I consume, and the energy I surround myself with. Most recently, I have been focusing on curating environments that promote peace, emotional grounding, and honoring my personal boundaries,” says Miller.

Other ways that Miller works to nurture her mind, body and soul is by being mindful of what she eats, which means trying to eat gluten-free. “I also nourish my body by maintaining personal boundaries, which enhances my relationships with myself and others. I nourish my mind through reading, continuing education and learning new skills. Finally, I nourish my soul through practices of spirituality, connecting to God and prioritizing rest.”

To connect with Miller,
visit or
on Instagram, @inner_edge_counseling

Patrice J. Williams, MBA
Facilitator, Consultant, Professor,
Life Design Coach

Life design coach and consultant Patrice J. Williams helps her clients utilize design thinking and strategic planning to create a happier and more fulfilling life. “I build the bridge between where people currently are and where they want to go by helping clients remove the barriers to life and career fulfillment. The goal is to empower individuals to align with the most authentic version of themselves and, as a result, design their lives to first identify and then achieve their version of success. I work diligently to create spaces for people to witness themselves through the lens of personal authority over their lives, regardless of their professional position, and I provide the tools to create the experience they envision,” says Williams.

What are some of the benefits of having a life coach?

“So often, we forget that we utilize mentors and coaches in almost every area of life except life itself. In our working lives, we look to our supervisors to help us build performance plans to reach our professional goals. In our active lives, we look to our personal trainers to help us reach our body goals. Teachers coach our children academically. Pastors, rabbis, and spiritual leaders help us amplify our relationship with the divine. Life coaching is essential to ensure people are able to balance all of these life’s components to ensure a life they love – a life where our desires get to be just as important as our duties. There is no handbook to life, but my profession is the closest thing to helping people author their own handbook, holding them accountable for staying true to themselves and their goals and helping them meet and exceed their vision for their bestlived life,” Williams notes.

Even at a young age, friends would gravitate to Williams for her advice. After graduating from Spelman College with an undergraduate degree in psychology, Williams became a substance abuse counselor, assisting female offenders at Lee Arrendale State Prison with discovering and implementing new, healthy ways of understanding themselves, engaging in healthy relationships with others and reintegrating into society on positive terms.

“I knew from the moment that I started that job that I had found a key factor and favorite component of my life’s workhelping people realize that, no matter the circumstance or situation, we have the agency to chart our path forward and find success on our terms. From there, I have had the pleasure of coaching hundreds of individuals, leading retreats, facilitating workshops and teaching a course, ‘Designing Your Life,’ at Spelman College,” says Williams.

While most of her events, talks and workshops are commissioned by schools, organizations, families and groups, Williams recently joined her friends, Kristen and Renee, for their monthly wellness retreat, which is open to the public. This fall, she is looking forward to hosting her own retreats and workshops.

How do you nourish your mind, body, and soul?

“I nourish my mind through reading books, listening to podcasts and enjoying conversations with people whose perspective may be similar or different from mine. I nourish my body by having a dance party with myself, putting my feet in the Chattahoochee River, staying active in the gym or my Peloton and long bubble baths. I nourish my soul through remembering to breathe and to experience every ounce of life as a gift. I try to remember to laugh as much as possible and find ways to do the little things that bring me joy,” she shares.

To schedule a discovery call for one-on-one life
coaching, group coaching or any facilitation
services with Williams, visit

Elevate Your Soul in Nature

Woodlands Garden
932 Scott Blvd.
Decatur, Georgia 30030

Getting in a workout while experiencing nature’s peaceful beauty ranks high on many people’s lists for self care. Fortunately, Decatur is home to the beautiful Woodlands Garden, which provides “fresh air, a break from the hustle and bustle of life, a quiet space out of the traffic to take a breath, reduced stress, increased heart rate and a natural space to appreciate seasonal changes,” shares Kate McAlpin, executive director of Woodlands Garden.

“The mission of Woodlands Garden is to preserve … an urban sanctuary to educate and engage the community in the natural world. The goal of this free public garden is to provide a natural respite for those seeking quiet solitude in nature, while also providing organized wellness programs that help facilitate a connection to the natural world. Many visitors stroll the mulched paths daily to increase their heart rate and lower their stress with each step. Other visitors find a bench in the bird sanctuary to watch pollinators hunting out native plants,” she adds.

This fall, Woodlands Garden is hosting a new series of programs, focused on health and wellness in nature. Among the experiences offered are outdoor yoga and qigong under the tree canopy on the Garden’s Lawn; Forest Bathing Walks, an immersive experience engaging all five senses and led by a certified Forest Therapy Guide; “Music in the Garden” performances (returning to the Pavilion on Sundays in October); exploration of the wonders of the Woodlands, led by expert Tyke Hikes; and the “Fairies in the Garden” exhibit with a hands-on labyrinthbuilding workshop, hosted by PaintLove. To learn more about these programs and how to register, visit

What is your favorite aspect of Woodlands Garden?

“Gardens are obviously beautiful to visit, and they provide something new to experience in each season. Woodlands is no different — the combination of piedmont native plantings mixed in with non-native ornamental specimens provides beauty and inspiration for what will grow well in our own backyards. However, my favorite aspect of Woodlands is the people involved, who help keep this unique treasure thriving. Once the private residence of the Morse family, who gifted the seven-acre property to the community as greenspace, this tremendously generous gift will preserve the garden for generations to come. The nonprofit has a small staff who rely on leadership from an involved board of directors, community supporters who donate to support the mission and the most hardworking group of volunteers who help to maintain the garden. The people involved with Woodlands Garden, past and present, are the lifeblood of the organization and my favorite aspect of working at Woodlands,” says McAlpin.

So, how do you like to nourish your mind, body, and soul?

My perspective on self care has changed as I have become a mom. With two little girls, I find peace while playing in our home garden and getting out for hikes in Atlanta’s diverse green spaces. My alone time is limited, so I jump at any chance I have to quietly wander the trails at Woodlands while at work—being able to step away from my desk to appreciate the emerging mayapples in spring, hear an owl call on my lunch break or capture the golden fall leaves of the ginkgo is how I nourish my nature-loving self on a regular basis.”

Woodlands is a welcoming place to visit, volunteer or host a special event. The Garden recently launched a Tribute Tree program as a lasting way to recognize family, friends and events that have touched lives while supporting the canopy of the Garden. For more information, visit

Love Your Body with Nutrition and Skin Care

Nuts ‘n Berries Healthy Market
2118 North Decatur Road
Decatur, Georgia 30033

What you fuel your body with is so important, as it affects how you function, which is why we love independently owned Nuts ‘n Berries Healthy Market. Their two stores tout organic and non-GMO groceries and produce, the largest variety of vegan and gluten-free items in Decatur and the largest variety of quality supplements in metro Atlanta to fill nutritional gaps in any protocol. And did we mention they have kombucha on tap?

“We provide hope for each member of our community that true health is possible through education, personalized nutrition and targeted supplementation,” says Mari Geier, owner. “We encourage our neighbors to feed their minds with brain-supporting supplements, like omegas and lion’s mane mushroom extracts, and rest their souls by learning about stress-reducing activities, as well as foods and supplements that support adrenal health.”

The Nuts ‘n Berries staff are experts in health and wellness and are passionate about helping customers find the root cause of any issue and work to develop individualized protocols that fit customers’ lifestyles. “It is our goal to conquer all the noise around what’s truly healthy and get down to basics that we can all understand,” says Geier.

Some of the benefits of patronizing Nuts ‘n Berries are that they’re affordable and frequently mark down everyday products like milk, bread, cheese and lunch meat. Each month, they release a flyer advertising great deals and place entire brand lines on sale. “We’ve built our foundation on providing the community with the healthiest, freshest options, with tons of local brands. Just look for the ‘Smart Buy’ tag on the shelf or grab a flyer at the front of the store.

“When you shop at Nuts ‘n Berries, you are not only supporting our small business, you are also uplifting local farmers, vendors and our dedicated employees. Nuts ‘n Berries is leading a new organic revolution to a greater understanding of the flaws in our food system, how that impacts our lives and health and how, as a community, we can come together to create a better future,” Geier adds.

Over two decades in business, Nuts ‘n Berries has won several awards, including Best Health Food Store (2021) and Best Supplement Store (2020) in Atlanta by Best Self – voted on by customers. Nuts ‘n Berries also hosts free events, like Hemp Fest, which attracts over 1,000 attendees. To see what they’re planning, check out the “Upcoming Events and Workshops” tab on their website. “We are so excited about our Fall Wellness Festival at our Brookhaven location, on September 10, from 4 to 7 p.m. We are offering an open house during the entire event with experts on site to answer questions and offer free consultations. Attendees can take advantage of an amazing holistic healing opportunity at 5 p.m. — a full hour of guided meditation and breathwork, followed by a sound bath demonstration. We’ll be announcing our soon-to-be-opened Holistic Healing Center at this event! Nuts ‘n Berries will have an entire center dedicated to holistic, functional health with lab tests, supplement consultations, foot detox, infrared saunas and access to a network of holistic healing specialists.”

This fall, Luna CBD will host their famous “The Luna Experience” as four pop-ups – the first two are on September 16 in Decatur and September 30 in Brookhaven at 7 pm. Attendees will participate in Elevated Painting, led by Atlanta artist @BadMonaLisa, while enjoying free Delta 8 or CBD, infused lattes and a few surprises from the brand.

So, how do you nourish your mind, body, and soul?

“As the owner of several businesses and a mom of a second grader, self care can be challenging. I have to prioritize movement every day, eating right and sleeping at least six hours a night. If I am well, I can better support my community and my family. So, I work out regularly using the Peloton app and hike at least twice a week, and I started running again. I would live outside if I could! I also try to eat as many organic veggies as possible every day. And when I can’t eat perfectly, I fill the gaps with whole food supplements, daily minerals and healthy doses of functional foods like medicinal mushrooms and hempbased CBD,” shares Geier

AYA Medical Spa
431 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue
Decatur, Georgia 30030

When you look good, you feel good, which essentially translates into a happier you. For your cosmetic needs, AYA is here to save the day. The award-winning medical spa offers an array of cosmetic treatments, from laser treatments, body contouring, injectables and hair restoration to aesthetician services and medical-grade skin care products for men and women.

vegetable salad

Offering services performed by highly trained professionals, AYA uses the safest and most effective laser treatments available in today’s market. Among the lasers offered is Halo, a hybrid fractionated laser that treats everything from sun damage, fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration to scars, vascular lesions and enlarged pores. Safe and effective for all skin types, tones, and all areas of the body, Halo is different from other resurfacing lasers because it uses ablative and non-ablative wavelength technology, which results in faster healing times (downtime is typically seven days), fewer complications and better results.

AYA also offers several pregnancy-safe products and procedures for expectant mothers who are experiencing melasma, acne and stretch marks. For expectant mothers with fine lines and/or expression lines, AYA recommends Revox Line Relaxer twice daily. If you’re interested in smoothing out the appearance of wrinkles, stretchmarks and scars, SkinPen Microneedling is another amazing treatment that helps promote collagen production and enables skincare products to penetrate your skin.

And there’s DiamondGlow, a quick skin resurfacing treatment that exfoliates the skin, cleanses and infuses serums that treat dry skin, acne and more. DiamondGlow provides immediate results without downtime for recovery. Certain chemical peels are also safe during pregnancy. While AYA follows the recommendations provided by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, they recommend checking with your OBGYN before getting a treatment or adding a new product to your beauty regimen.

AYA also offers facial fillers from top brands like Juvéderm, Sculptra Aesthetic and Restylane, which are used to address facial volume loss that occurs naturally with aging. An experienced injector will assess your face and address your concerns, then tailor injections to help you achieve a more youthful look. To book your appointment, visit

The Game of Life

New program offers real-world advice and guidance for high school students

THERE ARE FEW TASKS in life more stress-inducing than applying to colleges or determining what career to pursue as an adult. Figuring out “the next step” — especially for those students who are the first in their families to go to college — can cause anxiety, stress and inaction at the time in a student’s life when there are lots of deadlines and decisions to make. Having an adult “coach” whose role is to support and guide them could make a big difference for students’ future success.

With that goal in mind, Decatur Education Foundation is launching a new program this school year: the FOCUS Prep Program. FOCUS (Finding Opportunities to Create yoUr Success) Prep will pair ninth through twelfth grade students with adult volunteer coaches who will help these students explore their options, set goals and achieve them. DEF has partnered with College Avenue Consulting, which will host student workshops, train FOCUS coaches and assist high school seniors in writing college essays and submitting applications.

The Game of Life

Do you want to help a Decatur High School student to the finish line and beyond? DEF is looking for adult men and women who can volunteer two to three hours per month and commit to help their students for the 2022-23 school year, from August until May.

The FOCUS coach’s main goal is to provide accountability to the student(s). Throughout the program, students will be assigned tasks that correspond to their goals. FOCUS coaches meet monthly with their students to check in and guide them, answer questions and encourage them.

“There are a lot of expectations put on our high school students before you even consider the college application process,” says DEF Director of Programs and Partnerships Marie McCollum. “We see a need among our high schoolers for a little extra guidance and encouragement.

We think a solution might be a concerned adult who can answer questions, keep them on task and cheer them on. We hope that FOCUS Prep will not only help students meet their goals and find their paths, but that it will help alleviate some of the stress that our students are experiencing.”

Adults interested in volunteering as a coach can find the link under the FOCUS Prep Program, at mentoring. Coaches will be required to pass a background check.

Decatur Education Foundation is an independent nonprofit with a mission to help every Decatur student reach their full potential. If you’d like to learn more about DEF and how you can support Decatur’s kids by contributing your time or donation, please visit


Need a Seasonal Glow Up?

AYA Medical Spa is here to help

IT’S FALL, which is a great time to think about looking your best for art events, parties and the upcoming festive season. We spoke to the experts
at Aya Medical Spa and learned all about Halo, a cutting-edge new laser to perfect your skin, plus their men’s aesthetics options — because glow
ups aren’t just for women!


Laser Precision

Introducing Halo

Halo is a hybrid fractionated laser, meaning it is two laser wavelengths firing on your skin at the same time. One wavelength works in the deeper layers of the skin, or dermis, to help stimulate collagen and elastin, and the other wavelength works superficially to resurface the outer layer, or epidermis, of the skin. Because of this, Halo allows the practitioner to fully customize the treatment to the patient’s needs.

How is Halo different from other resurfacing lasers?

Halo is different from other resurfacing lasers because is uses ablative and non-ablative wavelength technology. It uses the best of both systems, which results in faster healing times, fewer complications and better results.

Who is a good candidate for Halo? What does it treat?

Halo is a safe and effective treatment for all skin types and tones. It treats everything from sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles to discoloration, scars, vascular lesions and enlarged pores.

What is the downtime for Halo?

The down time for Halo is typically seven days. Immediately after treatment, you will have a sunburn-like sensation that typically lasts up to two hours. The first two to three days post-treatment you can expect mild to moderate swelling and redness. The skin will also begin to develop a sandy texture. This is the MENDS — microscopic, epidermal, necrotic, debris — forming. These will slowly exfoliate off over the course of five to seven days.

When is the best time of year to get a Halo?

Halo can be done year-round, but is perhaps best in the fall and winter, when it is easier to be sun safe.

How often should I get Halo?

Depending on your skin type and concerns, typically one Halo is enough for glowing results! We recommend one Halo a year to maintain results.

What pre-treatment and post-treatment products should you use?

Before treatment, we ask that you have no prolonged sun exposure, no use of antibiotics and no self-tanner. There are several products that we recommend that you use pre and post-treatment to maximize results and speed up healing time. These include AYA Skincare Skin Soothe, TNS Essential Serum and Revisions DEJ Face.

What areas of the body can Halo treat?

Halo can treat all areas of the body including face, neck, chest, arms, stomach and legs

Fact or Fiction?

AYA Men’s Aesthetics Debunks a Few Skin Care Myths

Myth: Men can’t benefit from aesthetic treatments.
It is a common misconception that only women can benefit from the various treatments that we offer. Anyone who has skin and is aging should be prioritizing their skincare regimen. This begins with your at-home skincare routine and transitions into your treatment plan in our office.

Myth: Botox/Dysport will make me look fake, frozen or like I have spocked eyebrows.
Neurotoxins are targeting the dynamic muscle movement that, over time and repetition, leads to deep facial lines and wrinkles. While we can elevate the brow as we commonly do for women, the treatment plan and goal for men is different. We strive to cater each treatment plan to the individual to achieve their goals. Because we individualize each treatment plan, we are able to provide a natural look by adjusting the number of units you may need.

Myth: Facial filler will make me look more feminine.
Facial fillers are used to address facial volume loss that naturally occurs with aging. Therefore, if you are aging, you are likely a good candidate for filler. Yes, that means men can benefit from addressing their volume loss with facial fillers. An experienced injector will assess your face and tailor your injections to enhance your masculine features and achieve a more youthful look.

Myth: I don’t need botox or filler, therefore I don’t need any aesthetic treatments.

First, if you are older than 30, you likely could benefit from botox injections to prevent further aging. Secondly, if you are not ready to take the plunge into botox or facial fillers, we offer several other treatment modalities men are great candidates for, including laser hair removal, prp for hair loss and facial rejuvenation, microneedling and laser therapy for sun damage and skin aging.

The truth is, men age just like women — therefore, we can all benefit from a customized consultation to identify and address your skincare concerns.


October Artist Spotlight

Crysta Luke discusses the healing power of art


WHEN YOU LOOK AT one of Crysta Luke’s abstract paintings, you can feel it tug and stir, pulling you to a place you want — and maybe need — to go. It’s that bit of magic you can feel welling up inside; your breath quickens, and you must see more.

To make colors and forms ripple and dance and push emotion through the canvas — these are her gifts. A Decatur resident and Georgia native, Luke is both a mother and a painter. She is inspired by nature and wildlife, frequent – ing Hawk Hollow, the Eastlake Gardens, the Lake Claire Land Trust and the Atlanta Botani – cal Gardens, of which she is a member. She glows about her Oakhurst neighbors and their “beautiful, well-considered spaces,” while her own backyard sanctuary is filled with songbirds and owls. She is also inspired by “whatever is emotionally going on in life or in the world.” Luke creates both large and small formats, but regardless of the scale of each work, you can feel the depth to which she contemplates her inspiration and that moment of joy or grief — events she calls “the striking and pro – found,” worthy of processing into art.

“My work is part of my self care. If I didn’t express myself creatively, I don’t want to know what I would be like,” she admits with a chuckle. “Allowing yourself to be creative gets you out of whatever pain or suffering you are in, to some extent. It can be very grounding, and the tactile experience can be therapeutic.”

Luke is enormously grateful for her upbring – ing – her mother was a gardener and her father an engineer — and she credits both her parents for providing the encouragement and guidance to

October Artist Spotlight


October Artist Spotlight
pursue her lifelong artistic passion. With her parents’ blessing, Luke made the leap from pursuing a business degree to enrolling at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she earned a bachelor of fine arts in painting.

To anyone who is considering how to begin an artistic path, she says, “the important thing is to start and not to worry about the end result. People want to experience art – and that is always a beautiful thing.”

Crysta Luke’s art can be found and com – missioned online at and also viewed in person and purchased at Sustain – able Home Goods in Ponce City Market or at Balance Design in Candler Park.


Stars Aligning

Decatur’s performing arts scene will lift your spirits and inspire you

STORYTELLING, THEATER, MUSIC, SONG – all of these we know to be inspirational, healing and powerful. We can all relate to a performance humming through an audience, knitting a connection with the experience itself.

Fortunately, we live in a community that embraces creativity; many notable artists and musicians call Decatur home. The City of Decatur’s Arts Alliance enriches our daily experience with downtown’s outdoor sculpture installations, busking street musicians, annual festivals and musical performances in Decatur Square. What some in our city may not know, however, is that just down the street from the Decatur Square and the infamous Eddie’s Attic — where musical legends like John Mayer were discovered — there is another performing arts venue bursting with talent. Introducing the Decatur High School Performing Arts Center, home of stars in the making.

The Decatur High School Performing Arts programs include musical theater, drama, chorus, orchestra and band. All have captured our attention recently, with last year’s musical Matilda making headlines at the prestigious Georgia Shuler.

Awards. The show’s multiple Shuler Award nominations last year included Best Overall Production, an honor given to only six Georgia high schools. This coveted nomination allowed the Matilda cast to make a red-carpet debut and perform live on Georgia Public Broadcasting at the Cobb Energy Center for the Shuler Awards Show in April 2022.

Stars Aligning

Lorelei Calder, then a junior at DHS, took home the award for Best Supporting Performer after she and fellow classmate Bridget Blanchard were nominated among only 12 students in the state. The show also received three honorary mentions, including Best Costumes, Best Leading Performer and Best Direction. Now, after the fanfare of last year, a new season of performances is upon us — the culmination of hard work by teachers, students and parents — and the stars are aligning again.

These stars include the teachers themselves – one is the current director of the DHS musical theater ensemble, Raven Owen-Beyer. While this is her second year at DHS, Owen-Beyer has been teaching musical and technical theater for the past 15 years and says of her transition to City Schools of Decatur that she is “fortunate to work at a school with amazing colleagues who collaborate and work as a team.” She is quick to give credit to the former musical theater director, Amy Rawlins, and current music director, Dr. Elise Eskew Sparks, for beginning the musical theater program in 2016. Her gratitude also goes out to department colleague Kate McNeil and DHS history teacher Chris Davis as being integral to their team.

Owen-Beyer adds that the kids are her primary inspiration, and you can hear the excitement in her voice when she says, “there is so much joy in watching them every day, watching them grow, and seeing them have an aha moment. There is nothing like it.”

She also believes they have a program designed to encourage kindness and empathy, meeting one another where they are. In fact, they call themselves a “theater family,” and Owen-Beyer says that she has seen students be transformed — though she’s swift to point out, “while it’s not a magic wand, performance has therapeutic value.”

Stars Aligning

Students who participate in the performing arts programs at the high school learn other valuable skills, including public speaking, confidence and collaboration. The student-led productions enable students to shine both onstage and off, with tasks including set design, sound system management and costume creation. After high school, a number of the students will take these experiences even further, pursuing performance art or production at a higher level.

Lorelei Calder

“I’ll always find a way to work with community theater groups and choirs,” says Calder, adding that she plans to pursue a BFA in musical theater, as she is now submitting college applications. Of her DHS experience to-date, Calder beams, “I’ve enjoyed every aspect of my work with the DHS musical-theater program, from classroom work to musical productions. My teachers have been passionate, brilliant and inspiring.” When asked how the skills she has learned through the performing arts programs have had an impact on her personally, she says, “I’ve always been a bit of an introvert. Theater has allowed me to get out of my own head and focus on stories, perspectives and experiences other than my own.”

Even while the DHS Performing Arts are achieving great things for students and the community, funding for these programs is often uncertain. Like many schools, budgets are stretched, squeezed and balanced between much needed programs, and organizations like the Decatur Education Foundation and booster clubs step in to fill the gaps. For much of the Decatur High School Performing Arts, the assisting nonprofit organization is Decatur Performs. A completely volunteer and parent-led organization, they facilitate fundraising and help with administrative work to support the performing arts shows, concerts and competitions throughout the school year, in both Beacon Hill Middle School and Decatur High School. Pam Galenkamp, president of the organization, applauds the programs at both schools, calling the teachers “top-notch and brilliant.” Of Owen-Beyer she says, “she creates moments on stage that are magical.”

Galenkamp insists that the effects of the performing arts, whether you are part of the production or in the audience, are profound. “There is a connection made between the performer and the audience member. Performing arts have a way to reach down to the places we often neglect or want to push down and get away from. Sometimes you see a comedy — and, as I always say, laughter is the best medicine — and you can laugh and get away, but sometimes it’s pain. I’ve seen it with our students and even my own children: theater and music can be transformational – a safe place they can be.”

For younger students who are entertaining an interest in performing arts, this year’s production of The Sound of Music will audition younger cast members for special roles. Galenkamp encourages these students and those of every age to come see the shows, as she says this may be where you get “bitten” and inspired by the performing arts.

To experience the magic of the arts in Decatur, you have to get involved, and lucky for you, the Decatur High School Performing Arts scene comes alive this time of year. We are looking forward to this year’s event line-up — including musicals in the fall and in the spring — with historically sold-out performances, you won’t want to wait to get tickets. You can find schedules of Decatur High School Performing Arts events and information on how to become a patron or sponsor of Decatur Performs at

The musical this winter will be “The Sound of Music” and the musical “9 to 5” this spring.

Resale Therapy

Finders Keepers’ owner Lee Ann Harris shares her journey into women’s consignment and why sustainable shopping is the way to go

LET’S SAY you’re in the market for a designer handbag. Did you know you can expect to pay much less for a gently-used Gucci purse at Finders Keepers, as opposed to buying it new? There are a myriad of wonderful benefits to shopping pre-owned fashion. We all know it cuts down on waste, which is better for our planet, but it can also be more affordable — not to mention vintage is always chic and stylish.

With these benefits in mind, Finders Keepers’ owner Lee Ann Harris shares her foray into the consignment world and her best shopping tips, just in time for fall.

How did you get involved in selling gently used fashion? Crazy story to be honest! I took ownership of the Finders Keeper Consignment stores – three locations at that time and in business 38 years — in July 2020, during Covid. I knew Bonnie, the previous owner, because I always loved shopping at her stores. Bonnie wanted to retire but wanted to handpick the person who took over the ‘three-ring circus,’ as she called it. She came to me because we had been talking in the store one day, and I mentioned I had lost my job –I was a VP with BNY Mellon for 17 years — due to the downsizing of our location in Atlanta.

I gave it some long and serious thought and spent about a year volunteering in the stores, starting in January 2019, to get a feel for them and the job. I decided to make the leap of faith and be out of my comfort zone because I love resale and believe in it.

More than that, it’s the relationships you build with consignors and customers in the community that I love. It’s so rewarding to hear their stories and be a part of their lives: the furniture they buy to place in their homes and the clothing they wear. It feels good to provide our community with places to shop that have become their ‘happy place.’ I love being a part of their lives and bringing them happiness via resale therapy!

Don’t get me wrong; being owner of Finders Keepers has been the greatest challenge of my life — but I don’t regret my decision one bit. It is an honor to be the owner of a small business that has been in our community for 38 years.

Why is sustainable shopping important?

Sustainable shopping is important because, bottom line, it benefits our planet. It helps to solve the fashion waste crisis. New clothing production hurts our planet. Clothes are being discarded as well, so extending the life of your clothes fights this waste by consigning them.

What pieces are most popular or the most coveted?

Casual wear is a big seller for us. However, this year, with consumers opting for experiences after Covid, they are traveling and going out, so we have seen a real increase in women buying dresses. We have a lot of them!

Items most coveted are designer handbags, such as Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci. Buying luxury items secondhand for less than buying new and bragging on the deal you got, who doesn’t like that?

If I am a newbie to consignment shopping, what should I pay attention to in making a good selection?

Quality matters with secondhand items, so we carry quality brands that women seek. Pre-owned clothing should be in like-new condition, but it never hurts to look it over for yourself and try it on. Our dressing rooms are always full of women doing just that. Everything in our store is one-of-a-kind, so you have lots of choices.

What is your best tip for sustainable shoppers?

Go often to get the best selection! We get items six days a week, so the store is always receiving and putting out new arrivals on the floor.

2134 N. Decatur Road
Decatur, Georgia 30033

Something Old, Something New

Kudzu Antiques+Modern touts a treasure trove of cherished furnishings

SUSTAINABLE SHOPPING is important because it reduces energy use and pollution, plus lessens our carbon footprint – take it from George Lawes, co-owner of Kudzu Antiques+Modern, one of Atlanta’s most established antique businesses. “It not only saves the landfills, it saves our collective cultural memory of those who have gone before and the things that they cherished in their lives,” says George.“That’s why we repair and restore so many items in our workshop — one of my favorite places in the store. We feel strongly that if you can extend the life of an item and pass it on to future generations, then that’s important.”“When you come into a store like Kudzu, if you’re lucky, you find something unique and wonderful that could end up being in your family for years, perhaps generations, to come. That’s really one of the fun parts of our business: seeing the delight on someone’s face when they make that find. And my favorite thing is helping someone find it!” adds Kate Lawes, co-owner of Kudzu and Lawes’ wife.

The couple stepped in to run the store, originally owned by Kate’s mother, when her health declined more than 43 years ago. The business became a full-time job for the husband-and-wife duo, who left their jobs to pursue “an exciting career as antique store owners.” While raising three children, the Decatur couple went to work on taking the business into the 21st century. They overcame low profits and a leaking roof, eventually transforming Kudzu into the 26,000 squarefoot business it is today.


Now, Kudzu has two locations — Kudzu Antiques+Modern in Decatur, which boasts an eclectic blend of antique and new furnishings, and Kudzu and Company in Sandy Springs, which focuses on new, upscale furnishings. “We have always felt it was important that our store reflect our home — a personal mix of old and new collected over the years. That’s really how most people’s homes are, and Kudzu provides that,” says Kate.The Decatur store is a sprawling market with three distinct sections. One section features unique, hand-selected antiques the Lawes have found during their trips to England, France, Denmark and other locales. “When we go antiquing in Europe, we love the hunt. Hitting the fairs at five in the morning, flashlights in hand, digging through old barns and warehouses, pulling over at roadside brocantes — it’s a lot of work but a lot of fun, and we have met so many interesting people over the years,” George shares.


The second section boasts new furniture, and the third section showcases pieces from some of Atlanta’s best vintage dealers, which are brought in daily. “We always encourage customers to look carefully if it’s an older piece. Pull out the drawers, wiggle the legs, look at the back that often tells you a lot about the age. But remember, it could be 150 years old or more, so don’t expect perfection,” advises George.“In terms of value, a nice antique chest of drawers is going to have a lot more value in 10 or 20 years than an equivalent brand-new piece for the same price,” adds Kate. “In terms of trends, nice, quality antiques are coming back into style. People appreciate their patina and history. Mid-century Scandinavian furniture continues to be strong and appeal to many of our younger shoppers.” “Kudzu is as much an experience as a store. We continually have out-of-town customers say this is one of their first stops when visiting Atlanta. And they leave saying, ‘I wish we had a Kudzu in our town!’ That brings a smile to our faces and makes all the hard work worth while,” George remarks.

2928 E. Ponce de Leon Ave.
Decatur, GA 30030

404-373-6498 •

Celebrate Pride Month

How to create a welcoming home

DECATUR AS A CITY is working to create a climate of nondiscrimination, first passing a city ordinance in 2019, then last year adopting a policy where it won’t do business with vendors who do not have their own nondiscrimination policies.

As the country celebrates Pride Month this June, local families may be looking for ways to align with inclusivity. Dr. Shannon Widlansky, gender expert and master-certified life coach, says there are benefits to both parents and children of making an effort.

“The more welcoming, the more open you are to other ideas, the better relationship you’ll have with your children,” she said. “They’re going to feel they can come to you with their thoughts and ideas, even if they are different than yours. And any part of their identity that might be different than yours, they’re going to feel that they can talk to you about.”

Here are the hallmarks Widlansky suggests for creating a welcoming home.

Consume Representative Media

Take a look at the TV shows you watch or the bookshelves in your home and make sure that some of the stories, characters and authors are different from your family. Buying books alone won’t solve for equity and inclusion, but it’s a great place to have conversations start, Widlansky points out.

For example, the National PTA reports a recent survey of children’s literature shows that stories about white main characters make up
more than 40 percent of protagonists, with animals coming in second at 29 percent. Look for examples that represent diversity and avoid
tokenism and stereotypes, then support those stories with your wallet.

Share the News

Many parents avoid current events to stay away from negativity. Widlansky suggests finding a source for what’s happening and then discussing in age-appropriate ways.

“As you get into middle school and older, they may be hearing these things at school,” Widlansky said. “Bring up the news story then ask ‘has anyone talked about this at school’ or ‘what do you think?’”

Give your opinion in a non-judgmental way, sharing what you believe and why is an education in itself. Widlansky suggests you can also use the phrase “this is what I need to know more about to have an opinion” when unsure.

Celebrate Pride Month

Use Inclusive Language
(Avoid Four Assumptions)

We’ve been socialized to make certain assumptions from a young age. This creates expectations and opportunities for children to assume they are disappointing their parents now and later in life. “I’ve spoken to many people who identify as some part of the LGBTQ-plus community who have talked about the fear of coming out to their parents because of this language that’s used,” she said.

  1. Don’t assume your kids are going to get married. “If and when you decide to have a partner in this life” is a good alternative to “when you grow up and get married” because it doesn’t define whether or if they want a partner.

  2. Don’t assume your kids will have children. “In my experience as an OBGYN, my patients often thought about the expectation of their parents when they faced infertility,” Widlansky said.

  3. Don’t assume sexual orientation. This shows up most often when asking if someone is your child’s “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” or discussing the gender they will marry in the future. Use “love interest” or “person of interest” instead.

  4. Don’t assume gender identity. This applies not just for your child, also other people. “Most people don’t realize gender identity is an internal sense of self, not something you see,” said Widlansky. She is a proponent of avoiding categorizations bybgender such as girls like kittens and boys need to move a lot.

While acknowledging inclusive language no guarantee of open communication, Widlansky adds, “I’ll tell you, it is amazing when you can hear what your kids think independent of you.”

For more information on Widlansky’s work, visit @self_revolutionize_coaching on Facebook or Instagram.

Decatur Square is Nationally Ranked

New and established businesses that built one of the best public squares in the country

THE VOTES OF USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Best Public Square are in, and Georgia’s Decatur ranks third in the country. According to the publication, “Around the world, cities are centered around public squares. These outdoor living rooms continue to play an important role as gathering places and event grounds in cities across the country.”

Decatur beat some famous counterparts including Jackson Square in New Orleans, Village Green in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square.


The ranking is no surprise to some of the long-established and new businesses that have chosen to hang their sign and financial future there.

The owners of Little Shop of Stories chose the location about 17 years ago to be in the community they lived in, according to store manager Justin Colussy-Estes. “Little Shop was on the other side of the square, on the ground floor beneath Eddie’s Attic, already a longstanding Decatur landmark, across from the courthouse and next door to city hall. The space was large, and we shared it with an ice cream shop. The hope was that folks doing business at the courthouse might discover the bookstore and pick up a book while waiting for jury duty or the like,” he said.

One of the newcomers, restaurant Boho115, joins the square’s long reputation of being a haven for notable eats. “We have lived within a mile of the square for almost twenty years, often walking there and enjoying all the great restaurants. We love the concerts, festivals and liveliness. We have wanted to open this concept on the Square for some time and when the Square Pub became available it was the perfect space for us. We acquired the space during the pandemic, which was a bit scary, but also knew the third best square in the country was a great place to be and we’re thrilled to be here!” explained restaurateur Humberto Bermudez. “The location was perfect for our beachside concept, and we wanted to honor the original building and maintain its history, while modernizing the space and making it a casual and comfortable place to eat, drink and relax.”

Much of the success of today’s square is the result of the work in the 90s of the late developer Louis Pichulik, known for a love of downtowns, including Decatur’s. The Georgia Cities Foundation awarded Pichulik its 2015 Renaissance Award. He was nominated by Lyn Menne, then Decatur Downtown Devel22 DECATUR LIVING Summer 2022 opment Authority Executive Director, who credited Pichulik’s vision and commitment saying “we couldn’t have done what we’ve done without good downtown property owners” in a video that documented his work.

Menne goes on in the video to recount one of the first projects Pichulik took is the building that now houses The Iberian Pig. During the revitalization, they discovered an original painted sign for Smith’s shoe company that had been covered up. He also envisioned the patio behind Raging Burrito, which was once an unsightly service entrance.

The current film and television industry influence is also having an effect on the businesses that populate the square. “I chose Decatur Square to open my clothing boutique because of its high concentration of great restaurants, seasonal festivals, and community gathering spaces – foot traffic is always incredible,” said Lisa Bobb, owner of Squash Blossom Boutique. “The best surprise about being located on Decatur Square has been the opportunity for my business to be featured in movies and TV shows. There’s always something filming on the square, and it’s great to see my store on the big and small screen.”

Decatur’s reputation as a collaborative and congenial residential community translates to its business community as well. Colussy-Estes cites cross-promotional partnerships Little Shop has experienced over the years, for instance giving coupons for treats from local businesses as part of its summer reading program or having storytime at the farmer’s market. “The most rewarding part of being a small business in downtown Decatur is the community of business neighbors we have.”

That community, led by city leaders, is one of the things that helped the square during the pandemic. “The businesses came together with the city to hold an outdoor market over the holidays to help us get through the hardest moments of the early to mid pandemic,” explained Colussy-Estes. “We really do feel like a small town, even though we’re right next to downtown Atlanta. I often see our city leaders in the store, or at a local restaurant, and we all work together to keep that charm and make sure everyone feels welcome, whether they’re visiting for the day or looking to move to town.”



Some of the hot spots on the square include:

Boho115 / 115 Sycamore St.
The best of Spain, Argentina and Mexico come together in this newer addition to the square. Boho115 offers a taste of the breezy, coastal flavors with a raw bar, global seafood dishes and flavorful ceviches and sashimis. Steak lovers can choose from the surf tuna or the turf Argentinian steak. Sourcing quality ingredients, including Espinaler Conservas from Barcelona and empanadas from Belene de la Cruz, is a hallmark of the menu. And the coastal cocktails, draft margaritas, and an extensive selection of tequilas, mezcals, wine and local craft beer are ready to quench the adult thirst. The space has been reimagined since its Square Pub days with a first floor dining room and bar, a second floor loft lounge and a third floor window bar overlooking the square, all in light and easy décor that may be coining a new phrase inland-seaside chic.


The Deer and the Dove / 155 Sycamore St.
Seasons come alive at The Deer and the Dove, a restaurant that offers the best of fine dining with a neighborhood vibe. Chefs Terry Koval and Chef de Cuisine Matt Crutchfield create a delicious menu that reads like a friend’s list, citing the farms and friends that contribute the hyper local, organic ingredients that contribute to dishes such as the Bramlett Farms Whole Trout or the Bear Creek Farms Ribeye to the draft beer and charcuterie program. An extensive wine list and clever cocktails ensure the drinks don’t disappoint. The wood-fired grill gets an early start with hand-rolled, bagels made fresh daily and ready for shmear offered at the B-side. Start off the day with your favorite coffee with house-made syrup flavorings or Rishi teas and one of the varying house-made pastries.

Little Shop of Stories / 133A E. Court Sq.
Now a staple on the square, this shop of “books and more for kids and the grownups they become” opened nearly 17 years ago after an email from one of its owners shared her dream with friends and asked for help. Outlasting the internet advances that have put many brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business, it’s hard to imagine Decatur without Little Shop with its twice weekly storytimes and summer camps. The shop offers several varieties of book clubs and social events including a unicorn party and author events. Little Shop of Stories is one of the partners of an upcoming ticketed event featuring Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of “Antiracist Baby.” The event is for all ages, and Kendi will discuss his work and share his new picture book “Goodnight Racism” on June 18.

Squash Blossom Boutique / 113 E. Court Sq.
With a vision to outfit the woman not willing to sacrifice a unique look in the pursuit of easy to wear, Squash Blossom Boutique offers beautiful apparel, accessories and shoes. From statement pieces to staples, shop a curated selection from major brands such as Free People, Johnny Was, Flax and Fly London as well as artsy finds from independent and local designers. The boutique offers a great selection of stand-out gifts at many price points, as well as modern unisex and masculine accessories. Squash Blossom is open on the square seven days a week, and recently opened another location in the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta. If you can’t get there in person, the shop is open online at

Wild Oats & Billy Goats / 112 E. Ponce de Leon Ave.
On the square since 2010, Wild Oats & Billy Goats is a whimsical and colorful art gallery and artisan boutique. Among the fares are paintings, pottery and sculpture as well as fabric, metal, wood, and paper art created by dozens of local and regional artists. Other handcrafted treasures include bath and body products, jewelry and stationery. Whether it’s wearable art, functional décor or a statement conversation starter, the shop is a destination place for square-goers in need of a gift or something special.


Not Your Grandma’s Anti-Aging Treatment

A nurse’s guide to medical spa options on trend in 2022

IN AN AGE OF RAPID ADVANCEMENT in medical treatments, it’s easy to turn to crowd-sourcing to stay in the know. That’s why we took a deeper dive with a nurse anesthetist practicing at a local medical spa, where anti-aging and skin-improvement treatments are offered in a spa-like setting (think non-surgical body contouring, scar revision, wrinkle reduction, skin tightening). We spoke to Lauren Runnels who practices at Decatur’s AYA Medical Spa about the treatment options available and their expected results.

What treatment do you recommend to those who simply want to look fresh by improving the texture of their face and getting rid of fine lines?
Microneedling is such a great treatment for this. It increases collagen and elastin production which strengthens the skin and improves tone and texture. There is very little downtime, and it’s generally safe and effective for everyone.

What are the popular treatments/services that many are interested in right now?
People will always love their neuromodulators, such as Botox. It’s a pretty quick and convenient way of looking more refreshed with very little pain or downtime. Not only is it effective at softening facial wrinkles, but neuromodulators can also treat excessive sweating, migraines, TMJ pain and acne. It’s such an easy treatment and appropriate for pretty much everyone.

What is your advice for those who are looking into getting facial fillers for the first time?
Please do not think all fillers will make you look “filled.” The goal is to restore volume loss and enhance the natural structure of the face. Strategically placed filler can accomplish these things while being undetectable.

As a professional, what treatments do you swear by and/or use yourself?
I get my quarterly Botox, and I have loved the results I got after just one MOXI laser treatment. MOXI is a laser that reverses natural signs of sun damage and aging, corrects uneven pigmentation and improves the overall texture and tone of skin in under 30 minutes.

Which services are you most excited about?
I love PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma). Platelets are full of growth factors that can stimulate tissue regeneration and wound healing and increase cell turnover. We get these platelets from your own blood and then inject it. It’s an amazing treatment for dark circles under the eyes and hair loss. It can also be paired with micro needling to enhance the results.

What should people look for in a medi-spa provider?
One of the things I love about AYA is that there is an injector and an esthetician in house together. Use us both. We offer complimentary consultations and a lot of our treatments work synergistically and can take your results to the next level.

Lauren Lauren Runnels, CRNA, is a nurse anesthetist who spent years in the operating room administering anesthesia to adults. She began her nursing career in 2006 and obtained a Master’s of Nursing at Louisiana State University. She is now a provider at Decatur AYA. For more information, go to