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Jewish Book & Arts Fair (through November 15) Blues for Food (November 8) Houston in Concert Against Hate (November 11) Film Fest and Film (November 12-19 and November 15) Sister's Christmas Catechism (November 18 - December 27) Artcrawl Houston (November 21) VIDEO PICK SPOTLIGHT: Casa Ramirez 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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Well, we made it through Halloween and now the holiday races can begin! Be sure to tune in here next month when my holiday present to you will be round-ups of great productions around town. In the meantime, enjoy all my PICKS below – there are many, many events I culled through to come up with my PICKS this month – be sure to check out some new workshops offered by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this weekend and later in the month. There are musical festivals with the Houston Whatever Fest and the Houston Blues Society and some fun shows at Stages Repertory Theatre and a powerful “Houston Concert Against Hate” produced by the Anti-Defamation League southwest region.

I have some things cooking at which I hope you’ll join me: my last labyrinth walk for 2015 will be this Saturday, November 7, 10am-noon at the Faith Lutheran Church – see the details here. And I’m hosting a groovy jewelry sale next Saturday, November 14, 10am-3pm at the Unity of Houston bookstore – all those details are here. I’ll have costume jewelry and handmade bracelets by sober teens and the proceeds will benefit my IGNITE YOUR LIFE! art project and Unity as well as Archway Academy and Teen and Family Services, two organizations that work with sober teens. The IGNITE YOUR LIFE! art project was inspired by my brother’s death due to alcoholism – it’s my belief that if people are ignited for their lives, they are less likely to succumb to addiction. Through the project, I am spreading the word about my 12 concepts for igniting your life (see them here) and giving talks to homeless people, therapists, yogis, teens, and many more communities. It’s been my joy to see others become ignited!

November is the time for our major arts organizations to begin their annual holiday thang – the Alley Theatre is bringing A CHRISTMAS CAROL from November 20-December 28 and the Houston Ballet is mounting the final run of Ben Stevenson’s version of THE NUTCRACKER from November 27-December 27. Thankfully, the Houston Grand Opera isn’t bringing the Iain Bell version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL back (love HGO but I didn’t like that production) – instead, they are bringing back their popular production THE LITTLE PRINCE from December 4-20. And of course, there is the Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade, a tradition since 1949. It’s happening November 26 starting at 9am at Smith and Lamar downtown. And, finally, if you’d like to give back this month, please check the Volunteer Houston page – their site has plenty of opportunities for year-round service.

I would be remiss in not mentioning my disappointment about the HERO ordinance not passing in Houston. It’s not a bathroom ordinance as many groups have portrayed it – in fact, it’s an important legal proclamation that protects 15 groups from discrimination, including pregnant women, military veterans, and religious persons. As the co-founder of Houston’s Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (now QFest), I was especially disappointed about the attacks on our LGBT citizens. The current director of the festival, Kristian Salinas, was very eloquent about it, here. Hate in any form – whether out of fear or out of disgust – has GOT TO STOP. You may not agree with me on this point but I do hope you’ll agree that discrimination of any persons is wrong. We are all on this planet together and need to learn how to share it better. Voting down this ordinance is also bad for business – the NFL may move the 2017 Super Bowl because of this. Let’s do better than this next time – let’s include ALL Houstonians at the table. If you are interested in making changes, Houston Stonewall Young Democrats will be hosting a meeting Tuesday, November 10 at Little Bigs to discuss next steps. To learn more about it, click here. And you can also check out what Houston Unites is doing.

This month’s VIDEO PICK is by one of my favorite rappers, Prince Ea. His take on the domination of electronics in our lives is spot on. And if you want to get a chuckle about too much television and kids, be sure to read Roald Dahl’s poem, “Television.”.

Click to view video
Click to view video

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

Picks for the Month of November, 2015

Ann & Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Fair


The Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston presents a 43-year tradition of authors, music, theatre and films during the Ann & Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Fair through November 15. Highlights include a hands-on culinary demonstration on Sunday, November 15 at 1pm and 5pm with Katja Goldman, author of The Community Table: Recipes & Stories from the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan & Beyond. Our overly wired lives are tackled by Elyssa Friedland in Love and Miss Communication (Tuesday, November 10) and families can enjoy plenty of activities during the Oliver Lapin Family Day this weekend. Woodstock legend Steve Katz closes out the Fair with an entertaining performance showcasing his new book Blood, Sweat, and My Rock ‘n’ roll Years.

Ticket prices vary and unless otherwise specified, the Ann & Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Fair authors and special presentations take place in the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center Joe Weingarten Building Milton Levit Family Campus, 5601 S. Braeswood. Click here for a complete schedule and ticket information.

Blues for Food


I love da blues and Houston is home to some of the finest, so I’m happy to PICK the Houston Blues Society’s annual “Blues for Food” event, which is this Sunday, November 8, 2pm-2am at Shakespeare’s Pub. All proceeds benefit the Houston Food Bank. The line-up is below – it’s awesome! Bluesman Sonny Boy Terry is the host, with special guest emcees Treme’/True Detective actor Davi Jay, KCOH radio deejay Christian Tucker, Just Ask Foundation’s Reggie Bibbs, and KPFT-FM’s James “Blueshound” Nagel and Mr. and Mrs. V of the “Blues on the Move” show. The silent auction includes a handcrafted electric Cigar Box Guitar and the event honors Houston blues legend Albert Collins. There will be a plate of BBQ for attendees who donate plus 50/50 raffles, a silent auction, and special sale items.

2–2:30pm: BOURBON ST




5:15–5:45pm: LARRY GARNER







Admission is any non-perishable food items or a cash donation. Shakespeare’s Pub is located at 14129 Memorial Drive.

Voices in Harmony: 2015 Houston in Concert Against Hate


The Anti-Defamation League does some amazing work! They have a terrific calendar of observances, which I wrote about last month, and they are also very active in all their communities at the ground level. This month they are bringing together a former racist skinhead, a food company, the daughter of a Holocaust rescuer, an anti-bullying activist, and a priest to honor them at Voices in Harmony: 2015 Houston in Concert Against Hate” next Wednesday, November 11, starting at 6:30pm. Concert Chairs are Heather Yanak Phelan and James Phelan and the performance features the voices of the HGO Chorus and will be narrated by HGO Musical Director Patrick Summers and ABC/Channel 13 News Anchor Melanie Lawson.

Voices in Harmony: 2015 Houston in Concert Against Hate promises to be a harmonious evening of inspiration, song, and appreciation that will include the Houston Grand Opera (HGO), civil rights heroes, veterans, and a Julie and Ben Rogers Ecumenism Award Recipient. The concert honors Frank Meeink, a former neo-Nazi skinhead who rejected the white supremacist ideology and now speaks out against hate; Jeannie Opdyke Smith, who carries on her mother’s legacy by telling how she saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust, and Lizzie Velasquez, who became a national anti-bullying activist and motivational speaker after she was cyber-bullied because she has a condition which keeps her from gaining weight. The evening also will honor Sysco as a corporate hero for its commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment, and Father Donald Nesti, Director and Founder of the Center for Faith and Culture at the University of St. Thomas, who will receive the Julie and Ben Rogers Ecumenism Award for furthering greater harmony and cooperation in our community.

The evening takes place at the Wortham Theater Center and starts with a 6:30pm dinner, continues with an 8pm performance, and then closes out with a 9:30pm dessert reception. Tickets cannot be purchased individually but are included with sponsorships, which start at $2,500. Click here to learn more about sponsorship.



This month is one of my favorite times of the year, when the Houston Cinema Arts Festival comes to town – and this year it will be here for an expanded run of over 60 film offerings from November 12-19. The festival takes place at venues all over Houston and focuses on the connection between art and film. See my full take on it here in my monthly column, GISH AT THE MOVIES, in Local Houston magazine. Ticket prices vary; click here to purchase them and for more information.

Over at 14 Pews, they are combining live music (one of my favorite bands from Austin!) and silent film once again – “Nosferatu” screens on Sunday, November 15 at 7 and 9pm. The 1922 film is accompanied by an original score by The Invincible Czars. The tour will be accompanied by the release of a CD EP featuring highlights from their soundtrack. From the 14 Pews website: “Nosferatu is one of the most revered films in the history of cinema. As the world's first vampire movie, it is regarded as the first important horror film--but it was almost erased from the history books when the estate of Bram Stoker sued the filmmakers for copyright infringement and most of the prints of the movie were destroyed. Several survived, and this performance will feature the most completely restored version that exists.” Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.

Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold


Stages Repertory Theatre is bringing back the popular show Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold” from November 18 through December 27. It’s CSI goes to Bethlehem as Sister (Denise Fennell) takes on the question that has intrigued historians throughout the ages: On the night of that fateful birth, what happened to the Magi’s gold? Assisted by a helpful flock of audience members, Sister searches over manger and under camel hump in a hilarious hunt for the truth. Wacky gifts, musical highlights, and an unforgettable living nativity make this beloved mega-hit just the ticket for the holidays! The show is recommended for ages 5 and up -- the equivalent movie rating would be PG. This play is approximately two hours long and is performed with one intermission.

Stages Repertory Theatre is located at 3201 Allen Parkway. Tickets to Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold start at $23. Click here to purchase tickets and for more information about the show.



It’s time for one of the coolest free art events around – the 21st Annual Artist’s Warehouse ARTCRAWL, taking place Saturday, November 23 from 10am-9pm and featuring over 140 artists. A cluster of neighborhood warehouses will open their working art studios, live in spots, and exhibition spaces to the public -- maps to those spaces are available at Mother Dog Studios. Mother Dog Studios was founded in 1984 by Charlie Jean Sartwell and John Runnels and is the largest and oldest surviving artists’ working warehouse space in Houston. The theme of the Artcrawl is “Go Green” and visitors are encouraged to explore by hiking and biking to experience the art in this secret historical district.

Spirit Spotlight

Casa Ramirez


A step inside ​Casa Ramirez is an instant trip to Mexico! The Mexican folk art gallery in the Heights at 241 W. 19th Street is brimming over with colorful items carefully selected and purchased by owners Chrissie and Macario Ramirez – two of the kindest people on the planet. Handmade Mexican dresses, unique jewelry, sugar skulls, milagros charms, Mexican books and games, Mexican portraits, antiques and ceramic, clay, metal and wood artifacts and figures and much more are all available there.

Chrissie and Macario are well known for their annual “Day of the Dead” celebration in which a lively procession, complete with the incense copal, takes place on 19th Street, led by authentic Aztec dancers, people honoring their relatives who have passed away, oversized skulls, and the ever-present marigolds, a symbol of death. In the weeks leading up to the festivities, they offer sugar skull classes and ofrenda-building classes. Everyone is invited to participate in the store’s community altar and a select group of Houstonians are invited to build their own ofrendas in honor of their loved ones. My sister-in-law Juanita Page Gish and I created an altar in honor of my brother Geoffrey Gish who died in 2004. It was his death that inspired me to create my IGNITE YOUR LIFE! art project. To prepare for the ofrenda-building, we had to attend one of their altar classes and to build it in the authentic Mexican style. It was a very emotional endeavor since both of us loved my brother dearly. It was also healing because seeing the altar helped us feel his presence. If you’re interested in learning more about this tradition, the altars will be up through next Wednesday, November 11.


  • Saturday, November 7, 9am-1pm:
    TreeWise: Growing Healthy Trees in Houston

    Join a roster of leading horticultural experts, including the curator for Bayou Bend’s 14 acres, for a day filled with information on raising healthy trees in Southeast Texas. Select species will be singled out for their beauty as well as their ability to thrive in the local climate, with an emphasis on native trees. Experts will refer to the latest research when recommending the best trees for gardens and home landscapes. A guided look at significant trees in Bayou Bend’s gardens follows the presentations. A light lunch is included. Contact to register today! Advance registration strongly recommended. Visit for more information.

  • November 14 and 21:
    ART + STUDIO at the MFAH

    The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston invites you to two special Art + Studio workshops in November. On Saturday, November 14, 1:30-5:30 p.m. don’t miss Paint a Saintwhere you will explore the art of Dutch master Joachim Wtewael, and create your own miniature painting of a saint! Then on Saturday, November 21, 1–5 p.m. enjoy "Rothko & Automatic Drawing" and discover the early art of Mark Rothko and the practice of automatism in drawing. Visit for more information and to purchase your tickets today!

  • November 21 and 22:
    Houston Whatever Fest

    The City’s most eclectic two-day music, comedy and art street festival will take place in the heart of the East End of downtown with over 90 acts performing on 5 stages. The line-up features a diverse mix of music genres and notable comics, along with local food trucks, Houston-centric artists and artisans, performers, an impressive array of vendors, and more. Individual general admission passes are now available for $35. Two-day general admission passes start at $55 and VIP weekend passes are also available. To purchase tickets, click here.

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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Sarah Gish
Sarah Gish
(Photo: Two Birds Photography)

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

© 2015 Sarah Gish

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