Click here to view schedule
Holiday Celebrations (December) Chiara String Quartet (December 8) Avant-Theatre x 3 (through 12/5; 12/10-12; and 12/17-23) Free Opera (December 12) Women of Mystery (December 12) Rothko and Dalí (through January 24 and through June 19) VIDEO PICK SPOTLIGHT: MATCH 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!

SPIRIT PICKS will always be free to my readers so I’ll need advertising support to offset the cost of researching, writing, and designing it. If you are interested in advertising, please contact me. And so that we can spread the news of these great happenings in Houston, please share this information far and wide via email and social media with your friends and family members that might be interested -- or send them this link:

It’s the holiday season, full on – so each year I try to dial it down and focus on what’s important: family, friends, giving, loving, and art. This is the reason I created SPIRIT PICKS – because art enriches my life and gives it meaning. It connects me to others – the community that enjoys art as well as the artists and the art itself. And I’m not alone in this art love-fest – scientists have discovered that appreciating art can stave off disease, as seen in this article, and that art can increase mental health, as seen in this article. The Houston Center for Photography is hosting a panel on “The Value of Art to Healing and Social Connectedness” on Thursday, December 3 at 6pm. It sounds fascinating!

As this month’s crazy ramps up, I also work on keeping my exercise routine and nature time (30 minutes daily for both) intact. If you’re a biker like me, be sure to get to the Bike Fest” on Saturday, December 13 – an all day affair that benefits Bike Houston. By the way, if you haven’t tried out the City of Houston’s B-Cycle bike rentals, you’re missing out! They’re super fun, easy, and inexpensive. And if it’s a nature fix you’re needing, this Get Out Here Houston” website is your best guide – the calendar is chock full of daily suggestions of outings and is sponsored by organizations such as the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center and Houston Wilderness.

It’s the season for giving so I’d like to give you my IGNITE YOUR LIFE! poster – click here to access it. Feel free to post it and share it. I’d love to spread the fire and IGNITE lives! As part of that project, I’m creating beautiful, one-of-a-kind bracelets that have the 12 words from the 12 ways to ignite your life daily (see samples here) and I’ll be selling those at the Unity of Houston bookstore on Sunday, December 6 from 8:30am-2pm. A portion of each purchase goes to Archway Academy and Teen and Family Services, two organizations that help teens in recovery. I’d love to see you there!

I also like to give the gift of information and exploration – so be sure to click here for my monthly write-up on the local art film scene in my “GISH AT THE MOVIES” column featured in Local Houston Magazine. And each month I lead labyrinth walks on the first Saturday at a different site around the city – click here for a list of Houston area labyrinths (more than 20!) and be sure to mark your calendar for Saturday, January 2, 1-3pm to join us at the University of St. Thomas labyrinth, which is located in the Felicie Babin Gueymard Memorial Garden next to the gold-domed Chapel of St. Basil, near the corner of W. Alabama and Montrose.

Sometimes I like to just stop and look at things differently and mix things up. This month’s VIDEO PICK did just that. It was introduced to me by my younger son and I’m grateful because it showed me what is possible. Artists in Croatia created a sea organ and a light box – watch and experience. It’s nature meets art at its finest!

Click to view video
Click to view video

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

Picks for the Month of December, 2015

Holiday Candles


Houston is the most diverse city in the United States (don’t believe me? click here for the proof) so it makes sense that our winter celebrations are some of the most diverse in the country. I can’t help you find all of the MANY events coming at us this month to celebrate the holidays and different faith traditions but I’ll briefly highlight a few of the most unique below. And if you’d like to stay aware of faith traditions and celebrations around the world, check out this handy dandyCalendar of Observances.”

Chiara String Quartet


Chamber Music Houston is bringing the Chiara String Quartet on Tuesday, December 8, 7:30pm to Stude Hall, Rice University. Known just as much for their highly virtuosic performance as they are for playing from memory, this string quartet brings a special touch to the season. Expect a concert of breathtaking sound and tuneful, sensitive interpretation, leaving no doubt why the group is a must‑see event wherever they play.

Established in 1960, Chamber Music Houston, formerly known as Houston Friends of Chamber Music, is a key actor of the Houston music scene, and one of the nation’s premier chamber music presenters. Directed by a team of passionate music experts, the nonprofit brings the world’s most celebrated chamber music ensembles to Houston for a full season of intimate, engaging concerts inside the beautiful and acoustically ideal Stude Concert Hall, on the Rice University campus. Called “an unheralded leader among mainstream presenters” (Houston Chronicle), Chamber Music Houston invites audiences to experience the intimacy and excitement of chamber music at its best. In addition to its main concert series, the organization conducts outreach events to develop the appreciation for music within the community and to foster young students’ appreciation of music and arts.

Everything Will Be Different: A Brief History of Helen of Troy


I try to limit myself when PICK-ing events for SPIRIT PICKS but sometimes (most times!), it’s just impossible. As I was researching what to include this month, I ran across three unique productions by three of my favorite theatre companies. I hope you’ll give them a try too.

  • Through December 20: The Catastrophic Theatre presents “Everything Will Be Different: A Brief History of Helen of Troy”. It’s the story of teenage Charlotte, whose beautiful mother is dead. Turning for comfort to the story of Helen of Troy, Charlotte is convinced that beauty, desire, and fame can help her bring her mother back.

  • December 10-12: Hune Company presents “Up Close,” a series of short plays about intimacy created and performed by some of Houston's most captivating and talented performing artists.

  • December 17-23: TUTS Underground presents a clever show that weaves together the story of a single, overworked guy with “The Little Match Girl” when a young woman selling special “full-spectrum holiday light bulbs” to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder knocks on his door inStriking 12”. TUTS Underground is the alternative arm of TUTS.

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Houston District


I like this event because it’s fun and different and not your usual fare: The Metropolitan Opera National Council Houston District will hold all-day auditions on December 12 at the Shepherd School of Music (Alice Pratt Brown Hall) at Rice University from 10am-4pm. The public is welcome at all or part of the auditions; a reception follows and winners are announced around 5pm. The Houston District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council holds auditions where approximately 40 singers are heard by a distinguished panel of opera professionals. Each singer normally presents 2 selections, one of the singer's choice, and the other chosen by the judges from a list supplied by the singer. Judges determine a winner of cash prizes and a chance to compete at the regionals in New Orleans. The process culminates in ten singers at the Grand Gala Concert with the Met Orchestra on the Met Stage. The 5 winners receive awards of $15,000 and possible invitations to the Lindemen Young Artist Program or contracts at the Met.

Murder by the Book


If you haven’t been to Murder by the Book, you are missing out! They are Houston’s stop for murder mysteries and more – for all ages. They organize all kinds of special programs and this month, on December 12 at 4:30pm, they are hosting a Houston’s Women of Mystery” event. Five authors – Mandy Broughton, Stephanie Jaye Evans, Kay Kendall, Rebecca Nolen, and Gay Yellen – will be present to talk about their books and sign them. The women have interesting backgrounds (snake wranglers, PR execs, actors) and their stories touch on women’s lib activists and missing hamsters, to name a few of them! All titles are available for purchase online in advance.

Mark Rothko; Salvador Dalí


This is the month to hit two big shows featuring two masters of 20th century art – Mark Rothko (1903-1970) and Salvador Dalí (1904-1989). Born just one year apart, the two left their unique stamp on art in very different ways.Mark Rothko: A Retrospective” is on view at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston through January 24, 2016. The MFAH is the sole U.S. venue to present the exhibition, which draws upon the unrivaled holdings of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. – art that was donated from the artist’s personal collection to the Gallery in 1986 (the pieces are known as “Rothko’s Rothkos”). The exhibition has an excellent audio tour that features Houston artists and curators as well as music inspired by Rothko. I recommend a visit to Rothko Chapel before or after the show.

The Menil Collection’s exhibition “The Secret of the Hanging Egg all started with an exchange between the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida: after borrowing a piece from the Menil, curator Clare Elliot was told she could select anything from the Dalí collection to serve as the center of an exhibit at the Menil. She chose “Eggs on the Plate without the Plate” and the rest is history. The Menil Collection (which owns only one Dalí drawing and no paintings) will place The Secret of the Hanging Egg into the context of the Collection’s Surrealist holdings, including the artists with whom Dalí collaborated in Paris, as well as contemporary artists who continue to make work in the Surrealist tradition, such as Robert Gober and Steve Wolfe.

Both exhibitions have accompanying special events onsite – and the nearby Hotel ZaZa has a special “Arts and Smarts” package for the Rothko show that includes museum tickets, accommodations, and Rothko-inspired cocktails. What fun!

Spirit Spotlight

MATCH (Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston)


I’m soooo excited that MATCH (Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston) is open for business! I’ve been hearing about it and watching its progress for months and the vision is now a reality. MATCH is Houston’s answer to Midtown’s lack of a cohesive arts scene and our city needing more space for mid-sized arts organizations. Lake/Flato and Studio Red created the beautifully-designed building and it really is a stunner with its open and airy interiors and the way it merges with the neighborhood so well. Located at 3400 Main Street, MATCH was built on the site of an old parking lot between Main Street and Travis in Midtown Houston. It consists of two buildings, North and South, and an expansive breezeway that flows between them from a plaza on Main to a bus drop-off on Travis. In the North Building are 4 performance spaces, MATCH Boxes 1 through 4, with dressing rooms and wardrobe to support all four in operation at once. The South Building is smaller but just as vital. On the east end of the first level are three rehearsal studios, each of which is also equipped with a sprung dance floor. On the west end of the first floor is 3,000 feet of gallery space. Above them both, on the second floor of the South Building, is 5,000 square feet of office space and room for some 60 people to have their own desks.

River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Apollo Players, Southwest Alternate Media Project, Main Street Theater, and around 60 other arts groups will all be performing and officing at MATCH. Click here for the calendar and to purchase tickets. A brand new performing art space in Houston? How lucky are we?!


  • Friday, January 22, 6:30pm-Sunday, January 24, 12:30pm:
    THE ADVENTURE OF SELF-DISCOVERY: A Holotropic Breathwork™ Experience.

    “Stanislav Grof is one of the most important pioneers in the scientific understanding of consciousness. He and his wife, Christina have contributed both to its intellectual and experiential understanding through their work with Holotropic Breathwork™.” —Deepak Chopra

    Join Stanislav Grof, M.D., for the experiential weekend workshop, “The Adventure of Self-Discovery,” or his Friday evening lecture, “The Healing Potential of Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness.” Stan Grof is the co-originator (with Christina Grof) of Holotropic Breathwork™ and one of the founders of transpersonal psychology. Through effective breathing, powerful music, and a safe and honoring space (staffed with trained facilitators), Holotropic Breathwork™ allows you access to your own inner healing wisdom. Each individual goes on a personal inner journey that can include aspects of your personal biography, psychological death/rebirth, and all types of transpersonal states and experiences. There will be time for questions and discussion with Stan Grof. Emphasis is placed on integration of the breathwork experience in a supportive environment. If you can’t make this workshop, you can join their 6-day retreats in Taos, New Mexico; Chester, Connecticut; and Joshua Tree, California.

    The workshop is $325 until December 10; $375 after. For details and to register for any of these events, please click here. For hotel reservations at a group rate, please click here.

  • Ongoing drum circles. I go to a couple of different drum circles so I thought you might be interested in attending some too. They are a wonderful way to connect to your own rhythms as well as to the rhythms of those around you and the world at large. It’s a powerful experience and I highly recommend it. I did some research and now present to you a partial list of drum circles in Houston. Enjoy! (and if you go to the Imani Vida one with Gregory Powell​, I might see you there. It's the second Saturday of every month at 2pm at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church​).

Help Needed!


Help publisher Sarah Gish with the production of her three excellent digital products she gives to the Houston community! We need a sales rep for all three publications GISH PICKS: A GUIDE TO CULTURAL ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES; SPIRIT PICKS: A GUIDE TO INSPIRING EVENTS IN HOUSTON; and THE SUMMER BOOK® ONLINE: A GUIDE TO HOUSTON SUMMER DAY CAMPS FOR KIDS AND TEENS. You will be trained in theGish Creative Way” – excellent customer service, support for cultural organizations, community enhancement, and value-added promotions. You can work from home but there will also be on-site visits with clients. Prior sales experience is preferred, even if it’s not ad-related (i.e. retail), but not necessary. Please send résumé and your statement of interest to with SALES REP in the subject line. We are especially interested in working with an enthusiastic fan of any and/or all of these products!

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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:

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  • 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

© 2015 Sarah Gish

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