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Compassion Week (April 10-16) Favorite Poem Project (April 12) James Van Praagh (April 15 & 16) CounterCurrent Festival (April 12-17) FotoFest 2016 Biennial (through April 24) WOW Speaker Series (April 29) VIDEO PICK SPOTLIGHT: The Beacon & Compass WORKSHOPS & MORE About SPIRIT PICKS About GISH CREATIVE
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Welcome to SPIRIT PICKS: A GUIDE TO INSPIRING ACTIVITIES IN HOUSTON! You are receiving this email either because you signed up for it or because it’s something I thought would be of interest to you. If you would like to unsubscribe, please do so using the link in the footer of this email. And if you’re in Facebooklandia, please sidle over there and LIKE our page and please share it too. Make sure you don’t miss a single post: click on the drop-down LIKE button and then check “See First.” Thanks!

Each month I cull through HUNDREDS of events in Houston and curate the best for you by highlighting six inspiring events (“PICKS”) and one “SPIRIT SPOTLIGHT” (an inspiring person or bricks-and-mortar place) as well as products, classes and workshops, and services. I focus on culture and art, meditation, spiritual events, healthy living, one-of-a kind moments, and organizations that enlighten and inspire Houstonians. I’m so amazed by this city and I want to share my delight with you!

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Helloooo April! As I write this, it’s been cold & hot & warm & cold again. Spring can’t decide if it wants to join us. But I’m ready for the sunshine and a little warmth (maybe you are too?!), so, come on -- #bringonspring. As always, there is a ton going on this month and below are my faves. But first, I want to point out a couple of special things happening.

Did you know that Houston was designated a “Compassionate City” in 2015? Read all about that evolution here, which was led by the nonprofit Compassionate Houston. They are kicking off a week of compassion – Compassion Week 2016 – this Sunday, April 10, with a fun, FREE festival from 2-5pm at the lovely Buffalo Bayou Water Works. I’ll have a table there so I hope you’ll join me. I’d love to see you! Read below for all the details.

If you haven’t been to the new Hines Center for Spirituality and Prayer – join me for my programs and get a tour! It’s located at 500 Fannin Street at Prairie and I lead quarterly labyrinth walks and host a monthly speaker series. My next labyrinth walk will be on “World Labyrinth Day,” which is Saturday, May 7. Join me at the Hines Center from 1-3pm and please register in advance here. My next WORDS OF WISDOM: lively talks on inspiring topics speaker will be Trudi Smith of Buffalo Bayou Partnership on Friday, April 29, noon-1pm. More details on her talk are below and here. Please mark your calendar and plan to join me at the Hines Center!

I love being busy – I’m a curious mama and a “life-aholic” as a friend once said. And getting out there and getting involved helps YOU because I find out about all kinds of cool things as I explore my world. But sometimes, I’ve got to say “no.” That word is so little, and yet so powerful! It helps us set boundaries and to take care of ourselves and to enjoy life more. I ran across this terrific article about saying no -- maybe it’ll help you if you are searching for more “no’s” in your life.

This coming weekend, April 8-10, is (woo hoo!) the Houston Art Car Parade. I’ll be rolling with my Phoenix Rising Art Car in slot #226 so be sure to wave as we drive by. There’s a new route this year – only downtown due to Allen Parkway construction – and the Legendary Art Car Ball is on Friday night, April 8. I block out my entire week for this time of year. I love it!

The theme for the 2016 “WORDS OF WISDOM” talks is “Houston’s Great!” so I thought it would be fun to share a couple of pieces that shower love on our city. The first one is a New York Times article from their “36 Hours” series, called 36 Hours in Houston.” They label us “America’s youngest city” – not exactly true but, hey, I think it’s a compliment! It’s worth a click just to see their beautiful photo of downtown and Buffalo Bayou. And this week’s VIDEO PICK is from the Yahoo news series “Cities Rising: Rebuilding America,” which focused on Houston after the oil bust. Even me, an intrepid Houstonian, learned some new things. Enjoy!

Click to view video
Click to view video

Have a great April, hug those you love, and happy PICK-ing!

Picks for the Month of April, 2016

Compassion Week 2016


Houston was deemed a “Compassionate City” in 2015 and it’s no surprise to me after witnessing the way we opened our doors and hearts following natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, Tropical Storm Allison and, more recently, after the horrible Memorial Day floods of 2015. We are indeed kind-hearted people in so many ways! Houston is also the largest refugee resettlement city in the country (see more about that here) and the most diverse, with over 90 languages spoken here daily (yes, Los Angeles, we beat you on that score). So the only way this big ole’ melting pot of people with different religious beliefs, cultures, economic backgrounds – to name a few! – can get along together is with COMPASSION. It’s such an important virtue here that Compassionate Houston decided to create a special week to focus on it. Compassion Week 2016” will be April 10-16 and there’s a big kick-off on Sunday, April 10, 2-5pm at the beautiful new Water Works on Buffalo Bayou at 105 Sabine Street. There are also events all week long, as listed on the website. I took a 10-week course from Dr. Betty Adam based on the Stanford University curriculum, Compassion Cultivation Training,” and two things we learned were to be kind to yourself and to help others. What a great lesson for all of us!

Houston Poet Laureate Dr. Robin Davidson


It’s National Poetry Month and I always look forward to the plethora of poems that come out of hiding each April during the largest literary celebration in the world. Houston is celebrating by highlighting our Poet Laureate, Dr. Robin Davidson, with a “Favorite Poem Project Anthology Launch" on Tuesday, April 12 at 6pm. Dr. Davidson is the second Poet Laureate Houston has had, after the fab Gwendolyn Zepeda, the city's first one. From the Houston Public Library website: "As Poet Laureate, Dr. Davidson is committed to developing a Community Outreach project for Houston’s many diverse neighborhoods, as well as to local businesses. She will conduct workshops in which she will share the art and love of poetry and participate in community based poetry programs. She will also provide content to the Houston Poet Laureate Program web page and publish poetry to the Website by the community members attending her workshops." Sounds great to me! Here is a link to Dr. Davidson's first poem for us – “How to Paint Light” – and below that poem is last year’s poem by Ms. Zepeda – “2015 State of the City Poem.” And if that’s not enough for you – here’s a video of how we closed out the “Final Four” on the steps of City Hall – with kids performing poetry, of course!

Other Poetry Month events include activities organized by Inprint; MetaFour Houston; and Writers in the Schools.

James Van Praagh


Brilliant Lectures is presenting two events with spiritual leader James Van Praagh: An Evening of Spirit with James Van Praagh” lecture on Friday, April 15 at 8pm which will be followed by an all-day workshop, “Master your Power Within” on Saturday, April 16, 9am-5pm. James Van Praagh is one of the world's most accurate and beloved spiritual mediums and over two days, he will share Spiritual lessons gleaned from decades of speaking with the Spirit world, and he’ll deliver detailed messages of love, comfort, and encouragement from loved ones on the other side. You'll leave forever changed - with a fresh new perspective on life and death, a stronger connection to the spirit world, and the comforting awareness that you are not alone! In a lively, interactive presentation, James will demonstrate his ability of spirit communication to random members of the audience, by bringing evidential messages of love and teachings from his spiritual guides to assist you on your spiritual journey. There will be a book signing following the lecture.

The one-day workshop, Master your Power Within: Working with Energy You Bring Into Your Life and How to Manifest Health, Love, Money, Success and Opportunities,” will take place on Saturday, April 16 from 9am-5pm. In this intensive workshop, James guides you through illuminating meditative and practical exercises to open you up to the spiritual core of your being. Through discussions and intuitive exercises, it provides a footprint in understanding the choices we make on a daily basis. Do you self-sabotage? Are you living someone else's life instead of your own? What parts of you feel lost and broken? Why can't you have every opportunity in life you desire? Learn how you can attract unconditional love, financial freedom, incredible health, and greater opportunities to you! Learn how to release old stagnant energy which you constantly carry around with you. Discover how you can cut the cords of helplessness and allow your self-esteem to emerge. Identify where you are powerless over the negative patterns of your past in order to let the vibrant energy of YOU shine through in the present! James will guide you on a journey to self-discovery and will help you begin to live the life you were meant to.

There are special VIP tickets and Bundle Packages that include the workshop on Saturday and one ticket to the lecture on Friday. For more information and to purchase tickets, please click here. The Friday talk takes place at the Royal Sonesta Hotel and the Saturday workshop takes place at the Houston Marriott West Loop.

CounterCurrent 2016


Houston, we have CounterCurrent again! If you haven’t had a chance to experience CounterCurrent, a FREE, week-long festival of contemporary works presented by the Mitchell Center for the Arts – you must dive in! This year’s festival takes place April 12-17 and you can experience live performances, participatory art, audio and visual installations, lectures, and special events by artists from around the world, including new creations made right here in Houston. From large-scale spectacle to intimate interaction, CounterCurrent 2016 projects represent the range of ways we view each other and the city around us. Festival headquarters are at the groovy new MATCH (Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston) (another must-see spot!) and events take place all over the city, from street corners to museums to theaters to the University of Houston campus. Festival venues are integral to the art itself, offering new ways to experience our city. The full schedule is here -- I recommend you book mark it, peruse it each morning, and hit the road to find art all around you!

All events are free and most events are ticketed, however, many events have limited seating so advance reservations are strongly suggested. Click here for reservations.

FotoFest 2016 Biennial


It’s time for the FotoFest every-other-year-photo-binge-party, which is on through April 24. The theme of the FotoFest 2016 Biennial is “CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES: Looking at the Future of the Planet” and their shows reflect that theme in beautiful and heart-wrenching and cleverly creative and mind-boggling ways. Photographs are popping up at venues all over the city, along with FotoFest” street banners that designate official FotoFest sites. There are also a gazillion FotoFest “participating spaces” exhibitions from Baytown to the west side so combining the numbers of shows at those sites plus the centerpiece Changing Circumstances” FotoFest exhibitions at Silver Street and Spring Street Studios/the Silos at Sawyer Yard/Williams Tower Gallery with all the other official shows means we are awash in amazing art photography through the end of the month!

I am proud to say that I have a show, “IGNITE YOUR LIFE! A Visual Journey of Love,” at Flo Paris through April 24 and we are hosting a reception on Sunday, April 17, 4-6pm. I hope you’ll join us – all are welcome and the details are here. You can enjoy tasty treats, 141 of my IGNITE YOUR LIFE! photographs, and special IGNITE YOUR LIFE! songs written and sung by musician Ellen Reynolds specifically for my project.

FotoFest is also about moving pictures and they are again collaborating with The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital to present their Environmental Film Series” through April 16.

For tickets, information, and all you need to know about the FotoFest 2016 Biennial, please click here.

Buffalo Bayou


I started a speaker series last year called WORDS OF WISDOM: lively talks on inspiring topics and it was my goal to connect community leaders with Houston citizens. Each talk is presented on select Fridays from noon-1pm at the Hines Center and the cost is $10. Last year’s talks covered a huge variety of subjects – everything from mindfulness to politics, heart surgery to Ayurveda, and much more. This year’s theme is “Houston’s Great!” and I’m bringing in speakers to talk about different parts of our fine city. The remaining dates for this year are April 29, May 20, June 24, July 29, August 26, September 23, and October 28.

The next speaker will be Trudi Smith of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, who will speak on Friday, April 29 from noon-1pm on Transforming Houston’s Historic Waterway.” We are called the "Bayou City" and our largest bayou is Buffalo Bayou at a whopping 53 miles from Katy to downtown Houston. Learn all about the new developments, what we as citizens can do to help beautify the bayou, and how to enjoy the canoeing, the restaurant, the trails, the dog park, and all the amenities along our amazing waterway.

The WOW talk will take place at the Hines Center for Spirituality and Prayer at 500 Fannin Street. Please enroll in advance here so that the Center can prepare the space for the correct number of visitors. Also, feel free to bring your lunch or to grab something from Treebeard’s across the street -- that way you can feed your belly AND your brain!

Spirit Spotlight

The Beacon


This month features “Compassion Week,” so I wanted to highlight two organizations that model compassion in action. Located at 1212 Prairie Street in the John S. Dunn Outreach Center, the Beacon is an outreach ministry of Christ Church Cathedral (which is across the street). The Beacon has become a blueprint for how to care for those on the streets in the city and I interviewed the former director, Charly Weldon, about it a few years back – click here to listen to our chat. The mission of the Beacon is to provide services that restore dignity, self-respect, and hope to Houston's poor and homeless. Since their doors opened in 2007, they have served thousands of those in need through their four core programs: The Beacon Day Center, Beacon Law, Brigid's Hope at The Beacon, and the Cathedral Clinic at The Beacon. These four programs come together under one roof to provide meals, showers, laundry service, housing case management, medical and psychiatric care, pro bono legal services, and pastoral care and counseling. There are hot lunch meals five days a week and everyone that enters the Beacon is given a name tag and greeted individually. It’s a place of love and dignity and hope.

Interestingly, the word “Compassion” begins with “compass” and it is this connection that has served as the guiding principle of Compass, an organization which is also housed at the John S. Dunn Outreach Center and which also was birthed at Christ Church Cathedral . The goal of Compass is to assist the disadvantaged and unemployed in gaining direction and control over their lives through employment or other appropriate means. This means they get job counseling, interview prep, bus passes – whatever the situation calls for. Compass is hosting Spring into Song with the Music Box Theatre, a fundraiser on Wednesday, April 20 at 6:30pm. Click here for details and tickets.


  • Saturday, April 30, 3-5pm:
    What’s Your Purpose?” workshop with Kevin Casey and Sarah Gish
    Body Mind & Soul, 7510 Katy Freeway, 77024

    I’ll be teaching this two-hour workshop with my friend and astrologer Kevin Casey so come out and join us as we dance, learn, and connect! This is the class for you if you are wondering what your purpose in life is. Kevin Casey and I will talk to you about ways to catch your dreams and uncover who you really are, using tools from astrology as well as personal intuition. Each person in the class will learn about their special astrological characteristics and will be given their life path number (using numerology) from Kevin. I will guide everyone with salient questions designed to open your mind to what you really want to do with your life using wisdom from Ayurveda as well as from our own hearts. Everyone will walk away with a better understanding of themselves and their life vision and concrete ideas on how to become who they are truly meant to be.

  • Power Hour Strategy Session

    Green enthusiast and enlightened life guide Mary Frances Blatchley is offering a special deal on her “Power Hour Strategy Sessions” so sign up now! These personalized, one-on-one, one hour sessions will help business owners and marketing teams, entrepreneurs and go-getters, and anyone who needs a re-boot to get re-focused or to help them jump start their success stories. The hour revolves mostly around marketing and creative, with the added benefit of operational strategy. All sessions are customized to each person's concerns with the intention of providing a clear vision and clarity on next steps.

    Topics could include :

    • Strategies on all current & upcoming projects
    • Clarifying the business's vision & mission
    • Obtaining a speed evaluation of the current brand status
    • Consultation on internet marketing, digital media, print & other marketing endeavors
    • Best practices coaching related to all areas of your business affected by marketing
    • Defining long-term goals & short-term action plans
    • Brainstorming on new products & services
    • Reviewing the website or other marketing materials for ROI value
    • Deciding which vendors or platforms to use for which service

    Click here for more information and to schedule an appointment. I am doing one of these for myself and can’t wait!

The purpose of SPIRIT PICKS is to make you think and to ignite your life. It is a friendly portal of information for those who affiliate with an organized religion, for those who call themselves spiritual, for those who are “free-spirited,” and for those who are agnostics or atheists. This monthly list of events, places, workshops, and more will be varied enough so that everyone, no matter their beliefs, can find something of interest. If you see anything that you think would be good to include in SPIRIT PICKS, please email me.

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For more about my personal, family, and business enrichment company, Gish Creative, and the services we offer, please click here. You are on this list because I thought this e-newsletter would be helpful to you or because you signed up for it. Please feel free to tell your friends to subscribe by clicking here. My goal is to serve as an information resource for Houstonians through my various endeavors, including:

  • GISH PICKS: A GUIDE TO CULTURAL ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES, which is online and emailed out to thousands of parents and caregivers;

  • SPIRIT PICKS: A GUIDE TO INSPIRING ACTIVITIES IN HOUSTON, which is online and emailed out to seekers all over Houston;

  • THE SUMMER BOOK® ONLINE, a searchable database of over 200 Houston day camps and classes for kids and teens;

  • IGNITE YOUR LIFE!, my art project and community campaign whose goal is to inspire everyone around the world to light a fire to their own passions and to create connections among people;

  • INTUITIVE GUIDANCE SESSIONS, which are one-on-one consultations with me at Body Mind & Soul on personal and/or work questions. Sessions are one hour or thirty minutes;

  • Bi-monthly “WHAT’S YOUR PURPOSE?” workshops at Body Mind & Soul, check the store’s online calendar for dates and more information; and

  • OTHER SERVICES including SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS, INTERACTIVE WORKSHOPS, MARKETING, PRIVATE CONSULTATIONS, GUIDANCE SESSIONS FOR FINDING YOUR PURPOSE, and ART PROGRAMS. Talks and workshops cover topics such as summertime fun, passion-finding (for adults, children and families), marketing, historic preservation, art classes, activism, and more. All of these services can be tailored for any audience and budget.

Sarah Gish
Sarah Gish
(Photo: Two Birds Photography)

Sarah Gish
1940-A Fountainview, PMB 116
Houston, Texas 77057
phone: 713.492.1173

© 2016 Sarah Gish

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