Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Give 52 - Week 12: Love Never Dies

I grew up in a small town. The majority of my classmates that I graduated with in 1987 were the same classmates that I started Kindergarten with in 1974. Not only were you friends with your classmates but you became friends with all of their siblings too.

DeDe was a freshman when her brother, James and I were Juniors. We were friends in high school and our friendship grew stronger after high school when we shared an apartment together in Corpus Christi during the college years.

We watched soap operas together, drove up and down Highway 77 about a kajillion times looking for trouble, talked and talked and talked about the boys du jour, went to I don't know how many dances together and drank about 1,000 beers too many. Life was good.

DeDe has a contagious laugh and a welcoming hug and I'm lucky to call her my friend.

I had planned on sending DeDe a Give 52 piece in January to celebrate her birthday but DeDe's dad made his journey to heaven this past week so I wanted to send her something now.

I'm thinking about you, friend. I'm praying for peace in your heart. I know you're smiling thinking about ol' Larry up in heaven singing with Elvis.

And, yeah... we still need to plan that girls trip. Just saying.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Give 52 Week 11 - An Interesting Justice

Give 52 Week 11
Cheryl Houston 2015
Can I be completely honest with you?

Well, you can't stop me so I will proceed with my truth. The last couple of weeks have been emotionally challenging.  I let circumstances and others hurt my feelings and make me angry. These are small things. But, a lot of small things that I let add up and add up and then become very heavy.

In the grand scheme of my life- life is good. All is well and I have all I need but it doesn't make these small things any less hurtful and heartbreaking and very heavy to carry around. Is a little bit of decency and consideration too much to ask? Is a little bit of fairness and justice too much to ask? Cheryl, put them down! "Just tell yourself, Duckie, you're really quite lucky!" - Dr. Seuss.

These challenges are showing up in my creativity as well. The saying, "Many are called, but few are chosen" rang through my head as I finished yet another less than encouraging piece of artwork. I have people picked out that I know I want to include in this project but I don't have a piece of artwork that I want to send them or I have a future date set for them. So here sits week eleven- distressed.

On Saturday evening, Chris and watched a Football Life: Alan Page.

He was a great football player- I'm told one of the greatest defensive linemen to play the game - but what I got from the show is that he is a great man. One that other men should aspire to be. While he played in the NFL, he attended The University of Minnesota Law School. He was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992- the first African-American to serve on that court and served on it until his 70th birthday when the law states he must retire.

"What an interesting, intelligent and caring man this is," I thought. How encouraging his life is.

He likes Dr. Seuss and has been known to quote him. He and his daughter co-wrote a children's book, Alan and his Perfectly Pointy Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky. And he does have a perpendicular pinky!

He played the tuba in school and he goes out and plays it at the corner of Knox and Douglas during the Twin Cities Marathon route to encourage runners on their race. I'm not sure he's bursting out any tunes but enthusiastically belting out notes.

He feeds the park dogs treats and he knows all their names. And they know him.

He and his wife Diane founded the Page Education Foundation in 1988 where they provide financial and mentoring assistance to students of color to pursue post-secondary education.

Justice Page and his wife don't need a piece of artwork from me but honestly watching his story on Saturday was one of the brightest spots of my week and it just feels right. So...

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Give 52 - Week 10: All Smiles

Give 52 - Week 10
Cheryl Houston 2015
Smiles are universal. No matter what language you speak, a smile conveys friendliness and happiness.

I am so entirely grateful for modern dentistry and the people that work in this field.

26 years ago I was involved in an automobile accident that damaged my two front teeth.

I had one dental implant done all those years ago but in 2006, after I moved back to Texas, my new dentist gave me the news that I was going to lose a tooth. "It's mobile," he said. Delayed trauma.

My dentist gave me the name of a periodontist, Dr. William Grover in Grapevine and we proceeded to perform a second implant. All went well.

And, then last year, as I have become a periodontist veteran, I noticed another mobile front tooth so, back to Dr. Grover's office I went.

I told Lisa that I was probably going to cry because as nice as they are, you don't really want to hear that you need a third dental implant. It means months of wearing a flipper and no tooth while your jawbone heals to be able to accept the implant. If you have any amount of vanity- and I do- you don't really want to turn to your new husband at night with the Grand Canyon of gaps in the front of your smile, lisping to him "good night".

And, I did cry. More than once. I cried a lot.

But, I was so well taken care of by Dr. Grover and his staff. They are such wonderful people that even when you're in their office getting extra gum tissue lasered off they're making you laugh and you actually do want to be there in their presence. And, having extra tissue lasered off ain't no bit of fun.

After every procedure I had, Dr. Grover was calling me that evening checking on me, making sure I was okay and giving me his cell number in case of any problems.

They gave to me their gift of caring for my smile and there aren't enough words in any language to express the amount of gratitude I have for them.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Give 52 Week 9 - Where Serentripity Leads You

Follow Your Curiosity
Give 52 Week 9
Cheryl Houston 2015
On Sunday, September 20th, my friends and I set out on annual trip we call Serentripity. We meet at 8:00am at Starbucks, load up on caffeine and get our first clue of where we're going. We have no idea where we will wind up or who we will meet throughout the day but the goal is to have an adventure doing random acts of kindness spreading shine and wherever we land at 2:18pm, that's where we were serendiptiously meant to be.

I'm not going to recap the whole day but we wound up in DeLeon, Texas. At 2:17pm Claudia was panicking in the back seat (as she does every year) about us being on a dirt road in the middle of no where. That is one of my favorite parts of the day- Claudia freaking out that we have one minute to be wherever it is we're meant to be.

As we're driving down the dirt road we see people in a backyard so we pull into their drive.

They have a B on the front of their house. Claudia's last name begins with B. They have a 3 foot metal chicken in their front garden. If you don't know that a metal chicken is a sign for me than read this.

So, the four of us pile out of our car, walk around the side of the house and pounce on these poor people! Well, anytime you walk up on people and want to do a kind act for them, they get very wary sounding asking things like, "Now, what are y'all doing? And, you want to do what? And, why?"

We met Breanna Barnes and her family.

They had been dutiful working on adding a back deck onto the house (thank goodness they were done lest they ask us to help!) and we wanted ice cream so we asked if we could bring them some ice cream, too.

After a funny exchange, we finally got their order, picked up their order and we returned we promptly sat down on their new backyard deck and proceeded to visit. Who are you? What do you do? All that business.

Breanna is an elementary science teacher. We asked her who she found to be an encouraging or inspiring person and this is when the magic happened. Breanna started to tell us about her principal, Lori, and her voiced cracked and her eyes welled up about how supported she felt by her principal. I can't even really remember what she said but it was that feeling, you know? She was talking about someone who was truly special to her. So special that she became overwhelmed with emotion. That's special.

I recognized that moment and I have a strict "no-one-cries-alone" policy so I welled up and told her Lori would be one of the recipients of Give 52. Now, Lori hasn't encouraged me in any way. Or inspired me. I don't know her one iota. But Breanna knows her, and Breanna is encouraged and inspired by her and that deserves a gift of Give 52.

And in the end, that is what our Serentripity day is about. Floating around, not knowing where we will land or who will meet but we trust in the process and in the universe to take us somewhere we can connect with good.

This is my gift. I give it to you.