Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Give 52 Final Reflection

Cheryl Houston Art
Exercise P from Y is for Yellow Class
with teacher, Carla Sonheim.
It's been two weeks since I gave out the last drawing of my Give 52 quest and I've been reflecting on what accomplishing the quest means to me.

I wish I could tell you that I'm overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment and pride and I've scored a huge deal with an art agent and I'm going to be the next Frida Kahlo, Pabla Picasso and Salvador Dali all rolled up into one while illustrating a ton of books and painting a ton of paintings but my reality is the same as it always has been.

While I am proud of the art that I created and of the courage I had to send it out into the world, for whatever reason I feel a certain disconnect. Maybe it's just that feeling you get when something ends but I feel disconnected from friends, family and community for a variety of different life reasons but at my core, when I ask myself, "Who are you?" I feel more like an artist than I ever have felt before- even when I was in art school. Even though, I've always been an artist. Maybe that was the whole purpose of the quest - recognizing my own purpose.

What happens next is a mystery to me but if I can keep nurturing my talent, following my curiosity, and sharing it with others, I believe good things will come.

Thank you so much for following along with my Give 52 Quest and I hope you will join me on my new website Cheryl Houston Art where I'll continue sharing my art stories on a new blog.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Give 52 Week 52 - Laugh Like Crazy

Give 52 Week 52
Cheryl Houston 2016
So, I'm an artist but I have a job I go to Monday through Friday. I've worked in this office for ten years. Ten years! Now, I don't want to sound ungrateful because this job has provided so much financially for me but there are days that you can hear me say, "I'm going to stab someone with my scissors!" (Just to be clear, I would never really stab anyone with my scissors. I just like the shock value of the way it sounds. Really. I wouldn't. I might be tempted. But, I wouldn't.) This is where my friend and co-worker, Nita, comes in.

If I ever have the scissors gripped in my hand ready to stab someone, or standing on the ledge threatening to jump, I know I can go down to her office first and spew the annoyance de jour to her and she will talk me down and make me laugh. And, boy do we laugh. Y'all would look at us like we were crazy if you only knew.

There were some snarky sayings I wanted to write on her drawing but they didn't have a positive spin to them and only the two of would understand the hilarity of it so I refrained and settled on what I like to do best with Nita: Laugh Like Crazy!

Her friendship and her insight have been so helpful to me over the last ten years and I don't know that I would have gotten through the last five without her. I might have really stabbed someone with my scissors! (No,no. I told you I would never really do that.)

She has been a gift to me in this office and I completely appreciate her in so many ways that words will never be able to express.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Give 52 Week 51 - You Are Enough

Give 52 Week 51
Cheryl Houston 2016
In 2014 - the Year of Purpose - I took Brene Brown's journaling class based on her book The Gifts of Imperfection and I love the journal I created from that class.

One of the first exercises she had us do was take a selfie with the phrase "I'm imperfect & I'm enough" written on our palms. The journey through that class made me realize that I have a lot to be proud of and that I was taking my accomplishments for granted and not valuing them. And I didn't achieve those things through perfection. I achieved them through vulnerability.

Brene's message about vulnerability is important because it helps you realize that through our vulnerability we find courage. And when we find and live with courage, we are able to live wholeheartedly.

Listen, I don't expect to change the whole, big world. I only hope that I have a positive influence on the people I meet throughout my lifetime in my small corner of the world.

That's what this quest has been all about. Living wholeheartedly, expressing gratitude for the people that touch my life. Brene's work has changed the way I look at and approach things. I'm able to recognize the things that send me spinning out of control and the search out the things that I know bring me peace. Her work is amazing and has been a true gift to me.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Give 52 Week 50 - This Beautiful Life

Give 52 Week 50
Cheryl Houston 2016
I don't remember the first time someone tagged me in a photo of Alisa Burke's big, beautiful flower wall but I fell in love with her work immediately. There's so much to love.

She is my art hero in many ways. Her story inspires and encourages me. 

Her and her husband were living in California and when they decided to have a baby, they also decided to chose a simpler life. They moved back to Oregon where Alisa grew up. They quit their jobs and they developed Alisa's art business. 

Dreams. Goals.

The other really cool thing I learned about Alisa is her parents are potters. Potters. They make pottery! I'm sorry mom and dad, but why couldn't you be potters? That sounds totally amazing! If my parents were potters, I would totally be a potter too! 

I love that Alisa paints on everything. She paints big flowers on her walls, a refrigerator and she recently painted their wood deck. It's amazingly cool. She takes the simple things in life and makes them into art creating a beautiful life. I could go on and on about all that she creates but I feel the need to stop and say this:

Friends, as many of the people on our televisions and in our Facebook feeds tell us that the world is falling apart and they can't believe the hell we're living in, I encourage you to look at your own life. Really look at it. Be grateful for the things and the family and friends you do have and realize that your life is beautiful. 

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

GIve 52 Week 49 - Brave Hearts

Give 52 Week 49
Cheryl Houston 2016
If you are not reading Emily and Tim Loerke's website, stop what you are doing and go take a look-see.

I started following them when a friend sent me a link to their site in 2011 - the Year of Love - and I fell in love with the pictures and the stories of their lives.

What I love most about following along with their story is they are living such a genuine life. Truly authentic and true to them. That's what is most encouraging to me and I'm so grateful they share it online.

I love to see them fishing (momma's backpacking with their babes! So brave!) and gardening and they have chickens and bees and this beautiful home that they repair themselves and it's not that I want any of those things but I love how they live to the beat of their own beautiful drum and I hope that I can be brave enough to live to the beat of my own beautiful drum. That my children will do that too.

Emily introduces me to new music too and I'm in completely enamored with John Lucas' song Love is Kind. Whenever I feel troubled I listen to it, my heart fills with peace and it makes me feel loved. I also think of Emily. I can picture her and Tim hanging out in their gorgeous backyard with their daughter, Brave, and the beautiful tribe of family and friends that they surround themselves with and it makes me smile.

Sharing our lives - in person or online - is a beautiful gift.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Give 52 Week 48 - We Grow Love

Give 52 Week 48
Cheryl Houston 2016
Starting at that very young ages of 15 months and 29 months year old, my boys spent most first, third and fifth weekends away from me with their dad. They have memories and experiences that I know absolutely nothing about. Through the years they will have mentioned something and I have to question them about it. When did you do that? With Dad.

Melinda came into my boys lives in 2011 when she started dating Andy, and to me, she has been a blessing.

She cares about my boys and I know because they tell me about her and the experiences they've had together. Having another person love your children is something for a mom to be grateful for everyday.

My most recent favorite story is my picky eater, Drew, announces that he wants me to make lasagna. I gave him my questioning look that said ":I've tried to get you to eat lasagna before and you wouldn't. What's changed?" Melinda made it and I liked it! When I told my sweet husband the news he was happy because he likes lasagna and the joke has become, do I need to call Melinda to get her recipe? According to Drew- Yes! Yes you do!

These moments are small seeds of love planted in the hearts of my boys and where we plant love, we grow love and I appreciate Melinda's presence in my boys lives for today and always.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Give 52 Week 47 - The Love of Strangers

Give 52 Week 47
Cheryl Houston 2016

This week I'm mailing out my artwork to Hallee Sorenson. You may have heard of her through the power of the internet. Briefly, she had a birthday party last year where no one showed up. Her cousin put a plea out to the internet for people to mail her a card. And the kindness of strangers hit her full force in the form of 50,000+ cards to wish her a happy 19th birthday.

Her mom and sister have been going through all the mail for her as it has been quite overwhelming for Hallee.

We humans are sometimes kinder as strangers than we are as family members and friends.

I hope that my one more piece of mail isn't adding a burden to her family. I'm sure their love for Hallee is more than enough to make up for the missing party guests.

Love - it truly is all we need. Be the kind of love you want to receive and share your love not only with your family and friends but take time out of your day to share your love with strangers.

A smile is all it takes.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Give 52 Week 46 - Love One Another

Give 52 Week 46
Cheryl Houston 2016
Last June 26th, Margaret married Greg.

I knew I wasn't going to give them a gift right away but instead, because Emily Post or which ever etiquette expert said, you can give a wedding gift up to a year after the happy couple weds.

Since Margaret and Greg already had their home established, I thought I would wait for all the excitement to settle down and then give my gift on their anniversary therefore standing out as special because it's all about me! :) Not really. It's not about me at all.

This quest is all about being grateful and spreading love. I'm grateful for the laughs and friendship that I share with Margaret. And for the occasional bag of peach rings she sends up.

I wish nothing but unconditional and unending love for Margaret and Greg. Happy Anniversary you two!

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Give 52 Week 45 - One Heart At A Time

Give 52 Week 45
Cheryl Houston Art 2016
I was having dinner with Claudia last year and she had returned from spending time in Florida. She was telling me about an artist, Mari-Etta Stoner. 

Claudia had seen all of these hearts all over the popping up all over town and her curious self asked "What is going on with all of these hearts?" Being the tenacious person Claudia is she tracked down the artist, got in touch with her, met her and even went back to her magical cottage of heart making. 

Mari-Etta makes hearts out of plywood and installs them around her community to hopefully help us connect with each other one heart at a time. Messages of love. Anyone that knows me knows that during my Year of Love in 2011 I was very drawn to hearts. The universal symbol of Love. 

And who doesn't need more of it? 

I was really touched by Claudia's story and had hoped to be able to go out to Florida to deliver this piece in person but life circumstances and time just aren't falling in place for me to be able to make that happen. But that's okay- US Mail to the rescue. 

Mari-Etta's hearts became so popular that people began requesting them. And she's still making them and sharing them today. Amazing. 

Friends, I know there's a lot of turmoil going on in our world but I believe that there's a lot more love and generosity going on if you choose to see it. If you don't see it, maybe you need to give it. Share your love - one person at a time. One heart at a time.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Give 52 Week 44 - Me and You on a Patio.

Give 52 - Week 44
Cheryl Houston 2016
Today is Darci's birthday! Happy Birthday!

Darci and I were roommates at Texas Tech in Lubbock. We didn't hit it off when we first met at Freshman Orientation because she thought I was a dork. Probably not far from the truth but it takes some time to get to know me.

We had some very wild times together and because there was alcohol involved - lots of alcohol -the facts tend to be fuzzy but eventually we hit it off.

After our freshman year in a dorm, we moved into an apartment. One of my favorite stories of us is this: We were writing out checks to pay bills, complaining about how much money we didn't have. As we were writing the dates on the checks we realized, "Holy shit! It's Cinco de Mayo!"

That year, 1989, Corona had a fun ad campaign out. The papers had all advertised these fun cartoon drawings of people enjoying Corona beer on Cinco de Mayo. I think we had some cut out and put up in the apartment. (I can't find not one of the ads on the internet! Boo Hiss!?!) We couldn't let the day go by without driving our tushes out to the strip and buying a case of Corona! (Lubbock was/still is I think dry/ and you have to drive out of city/county limits to buy alcohol.)

Broke girls be damned! It's Cinco de Mayo!

We put on our bathing suits and hopped out on the porch and enjoyed our cervezas! And that my friends, is our holiday! Our Anniversary!

Next year, Darci! You and me. Cinco de Mayo. It's a Friday. On a patio. Drinking a beer and laughing about all the good times we've shared!

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Give 52 Week 43 - Internet Friendship

Give 52 Week 43
Cheryl Houston 2016
Do you have any friends that you met on the internet but that you've never met in person? I do.

Her name is Denise.

I found Denise in the days that I was searching out and reading blogs. She was writing a blog and I became this crazy stalker always commenting on her posts. Then she found Facebook and she stopped blogging. Boo!

Denise is a lover of motorcycles. She's the only girl that I know that rides and it's so cool to watch her embrace something that is so male dominated. She totally makes it her own. I love it.

Gosh, I'm sorry this isn't a drawing of a motorcycle, Denise. Maybe next time.

When I was getting my Etsy shop up and going she was my first purchaser and I was so appreciative of the support. Denise always has a funny comment for me when I least expect it and it just adds to the beauty of my day.

I hope to always have this small internet friendship with a woman that I've never met but appreciate so much. It's the small things.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Give 52, Week 42 - You're at Home

I've already written about my dear friends, Kristi and Johnanna, in December and today I want to tell you about their parents.

When I think about my childhood memories, a good deal of them land in the Linney household or on vacation with them.

They opened their home to the friends of their children and I treated their home as my own. I always just walked on in, not bothering with a knock yelling out my hellos. They lived in a big Victorian home right next to the train tracks and when I hear the train today, it reminds me of my childhood and the gentle shake that would happen as the train passed at night.

There were endless sleepovers and holidays and sitting around the butcher block table snacking and warming our back side by the gas heater until we were scorched.

I remember making myself butter and honey on bread and drinking out of the water jug like I was one of theirs. It was around that butcher block table that this picky eater first ate guacamole!

Mrs. Linney had one of those big station wagons with the seat in the back and I remember traveling to Port Aransas to the beach with them- laughing all the way. The Linney's gave me a place in their home and I wanted to really honor how special they are to me. I was at home in their house and I always felt loved.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Give 52 Week 41 - Blessed

Give 52 Week 14
Cheryl Houston 2016
Blessed. In so many ways, by so many people. People who are in my daily life and by people who used to be in my daily life.

As I may have told you before, I grew up in a small town where you go to kindergarten with the same people you graduate high school with and not only are you friends with your classmates, you're friends with all of their siblings, too.

Week 12 of Give 52 went to my dear friend, DeDe Reese. This week I honor her mother, Susan. Who at a time was like a second mother to me.

Susan Cox is the perfect image of grace, sweetness and discipline in a woman. I can remember times of great laughter with her and I can remember times of the sideways eye glance that meant you were teetering on the edge of being of trouble that if you were lucky enough would end in a smile.

I miss the days when we gathered in her home and chatted about the boy de jour and current events around town but I will always cherish the wisdom she imprinted on my life. And, though I'm more on the Hulk/Medusa side of mothering my boys, I'm working on the sideways glance.

Much love to you lovely, lady! You have truly blessed me.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Give 52 Week 40 - Speak Your Heart. I'm Speaking Mine

Give 52 Week 40
Cheryl Houston 2016
Most weeks I know who I'm going to send the next week's artwork out to but sometimes I don't. In those not knowing times, I try to listen to what's going on around me.

Week 40 was one of those weeks.

Leading up to week 40, I kept hearing an echo of former First Lady, Laura Bush.

She was in the headlines regarding the current election cycle.

A link came up of an interview that she did with her daughter, Barbara Bush and it was really sweet and interesting. It starts out with memory of Barbara's that Mrs. Bush didn't learn to type because she wasn't going to be somebodies secretary. A woman with a plan.

Then I saw that she and her other daughter, Jenna had co-written a children's book together called, Our Great Big Backyard.

And this kept going on- Ellen sent some cutie pie to the White House and the video popped up somewhere; and her book Spoken from the Heart showed up in my Amazon feed; and the last thing that happened was I sitting on the couch starting this weeks drawing with no idea who it was going to and my son, Drew, put a show on the soul-sucker (you may call it the television in your house). It was ESPNs 30 for 30 Shorts: First Pitch. A show about how we, as Americans, went on after 9/11 and the importance of our rituals. In this case: baseball.

And, there she was again.

Our graceful, beautiful, soft-spoken and steadfast former First Lady, Laura Bush. And when the universe keeps sending me an echo, I listen because I want the universe to work in my favor. What I admire about Mrs. Bush is that she is cool, calm and collected- a quiet voice but a stern, intelligent, loyal character radiates from her as well. She is a champion for women's causes and I hope that in my everyday life I can lead by her example.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Give 52 Week 39 - I Won't Forget

 Give 52 Week 39
Cheryl Houston 2016
None of us will. Forget.

No voy a olvidar is Spanish for I won't forget. (And if the translation is incorrect and you know it, just let me keep believing it is correct. Muchos gracias!)

What is it that we won't forget? The love and sacrifice that our mothers have made for us.

Week 39 was sent out to my mom in honor of Mother's Day. And I won't forget the many things that I love about her and the many things she has done for me over the years.

I won't forget when I was small we would curl up on the couch together because I wanted to be close to her.

I won't forget the bond she has forged with her sisters and the many family vacations we have had together. They brought my childhood so much fun.

I won't forget how independent and giving she is, rarely asking for help or for anything in return.

I won't forget the picture I have of her in my mind, dancing in our living room, smiling while eating what I think was a cup of ice cream (or some other kind of desert).

And so much more!

No voy a olvidar. I won't forget.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Give 52 Week 38 - My Heart is with You

Give 52 Week 38
Cheryl Houston 2016
When I think of Misty I think of laughter, smiles and a genuine love. This lady will love you with all her might and her laughter will bring you joy.

She's so in love with her family. Her husband, Robert and three of the most beautiful daughters a momma can be blessed with: Azlynn, Alanah, and Ava. Seriously! Robert's going to have to beat the boys away with those three cuties.

I miss seeing my friend, Misty but my heart is always with her.

Now, the red bird in this drawing symbolizes something else. When Misty sees a red bird she remembers her grandmother and I wanted her to have a piece of that in her home. So now, maybe she'll think of me too and know that she is loved - not just by her family but by all of the people touched by Misty's presence.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Give 52 Week 37 - This is Peggy!

Give 52 - Week 37
Cheryl Houston 2016
That commercial was awesome. Peggy? This is Peggy. And, I can't say Peggy's name without imitating the commercial but I don't do it with my coworker, Peggy.

I met Peggy when we were both in the throws of supporting our House of Shine friend, Claudia before House of Shine became House of Shine! The internet can be so awesome at connecting you with like minded people across the globe.

Peggy shares my desire to create and my desire to learn. She has her own blog where she posts her daily life and creative greetings- it's a little slice of Peggy. I love it. Her latest discovery is creating doodle movies. She's facilitating House of Shine's DO52 program on Facebook. And, lately she's been drawing more digitally. Learn, Peggy! Learn!

If you need something- Peggy is there ready to help! When I announced this project she texted me right away offering to create cards for the project! I had it covered already but that shows you who she is.

Her birthday was last week so I'm late but I sincerely wish her the best year ever! Happy Birthday, Peggy!

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Give 52 - Weeks 34, 35 & 36 My Mother's Sisters

Give 52 Week 34
Cheryl Houston 2016
 My mother is one of 7 siblings. She was born right in the middle. She has three younger sisters: Carol, Cynthia and Trish. When they're all together you will most likely find them playing a game of Scabble.

Growing up I always looked forward to the holidays when they would travel to my grandparents house in Refugio because they were fun to be around. There was always some kind of game being played and it was fun.

I remember going to my Aunt Cynthia's house in the summer. She lived in San Marcos and we would ride our bikes all over town and then go float down the river.

I spent a lot time with my Aunt Carol because she would let me tag along with them if they were headed to my uncle's parents house in the next town and I would go see them in the summer.

Give 52 Week 35
Cheryl Houston 2016

My Aunt Trish has the best stories about us as kids. My family went to Carlsbad Cavern for our family vacation when I was 3 or 4. Well, at 3 or 4 Carlsbad Cavern scared the hell out of me. My Aunt Trish carried me the whole way down and the whole the way back up!

Today, my mom and her sisters have a weekly conference phone call to keep in touch with each other. They get together often and we all meet for an annual family reunion.

Give 52 Week 36
Cheryl Houston 2016

These ladies had a direct hand in shaping my childhood and my dreams and their laughter and fun is a memory I will always cherish.

This is my gift. I give it to you

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Give 52 - A Grouping

I'm going to send weeks 34, 35 & 36 out at the same time later next week so stay tuned...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Give 52 Week 33 - Always Brave

Give 52 Week 33
Cheryl Houston 2016
Week 33 - Always Brave.

I mailed out week 33 to my beautiful friend, Karlie.

Here's what I love about Karlie:
She has the best can-do attitude I have ever witnessed.

She's a super supporter of her friends.

She's a breast cancer survivor and she started a foundation for awareness. She's adamant about educating our younger generation of girls.

 When you meet her, she makes you feel like you've been her best friend forever.

She's full of joy.

The love that she has for her daughter, Sophie, and her husband, Dennis, radiates from her.

So you see, Karlie is one special lady and one I'm so happy to call friend and whatever life throws at her, she is always brave!

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Give 52, Week 32 - Beautiful, Crazy Kind of Good

Give 52, Week 32
Cheryl Houston 2016
Week 32 was mailed out yesterday to another one of my friends that I grew up, Angie Graves.

Who is Angie?

Angie is the beautiful, crazy kind of good presence in the room and in your life. She has this big, bold smile and laugh that is infectious and she is full of overflowing goodness.

When Angie introduced me to her boyfriend (now husband) Tony, she also introduced me to Cory Morrow's song, Brand New Me. It stuck with me. I love that song. It's catchy and upbeat talking about how a person can bring you light and happiness. One of the lines from the songs goes:

You make love feel like it should
It's a beautiful, crazy kind of good

And, that's how love should feel, right? I can't listen to that song and not think about Angie.

I was so happy for Angie when she introduced me to Tony and I love following along with their family events on Facebook. Their lives are filled with family and a bunch of grandchildren and I can see how those kiddos fill them with life. I love it.

Angie is also a darn good photographer. She's always taking pictures. She should publish a book with her photos. Funny, beautiful Angie, I love you!

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Give 52, Week 31 - Be Happy

Give 52 Week 31
Cheryl Houston 2016
This weeks flowers were sent out to one of my friends that I grew up with, Nancy.

I have tons of fun memories of Nancy growing up along with some fun adult memories. I follow along with her life on Facebook. She's got the two cutest, ginger boys you've ever seen.

She's always encouraging and supporting her friends (a lucky crew indeed to have her in their lives) and when I think of her I can hear her voice and laughter. She's got a sarcastic spunk to her that I'm immediately drawn towards.

I picked Nancy for this weeks Give 52 because she was in one of my recent dreams. I was in this studio where artist were making art and I guess she was running it. She knew I wanted to be a part of it and she told me, "Cheryl, you have to submit 90 photos to even be considered. So get busy. You have to get in here." 90 photos! Isn't that a little much!

I don't have a clue what the dream means if anything, but I felt very supported and encouraged and that's what this project is all about, right?

I'm so blessed to have had Nancy as my friend for my whole life. I wish we lived near each other so she could make me laugh on a regular basis.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Give 52, Week 30 - Chase Joy

Give 52 Week 30
Cheryl Houston 2016
Oh how I love how this piece turned out. The flowers are wild and funky and the splatter is fun. This week's Give 52 was sent to Robin Whitney in Park City, Utah.

When I worked at Jess Reid Real Estate, we hired Whitney Advertising to re-brand the company. Jim and Robin were so great to work with.

I remember sitting around the conference table and Robin having a very pensive, contemplative look on her face and Jess asking her, "What's wrong."

I can't remember her exact words but I think she said, "That's my thinking face."

Since I left Park City in 2006, I friended Robin on Facebook and I love seeing her photos of her, her friends and her family. She radiates joy. Whenever I see her photos,  I think: "She isn't just choosing joy, she's chasing joy!"

I want to be like that. I want to chase joy. No amount of doldrums or boredom can stop me and making this piece for Robin will help remind me to do just that: Chase Joy!
This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Give 52 Week 29 - Don't make me hit you with my fun stick.

Give 52 Week 29
Cheryl Houston 2016
I've never met Lynn Whipple but I feel like I know her. I discovered Lynn when I signed up for the Year of Spark with Carla Sonheim and Lynn leading the way.

I love watching Lynn's classes. She has such a wonderful spirit- she has fun when she creates and she encourages her students to do the same.

Paint to music. Talk to your painting. Make a fun stick! Seriously. Make a fun stick.

Lynn taught me how to paint in books in the class Wordplay. Really, paint right on the pages of the book and the cover. What? I love it. And now no book new or old is safe from my creative tools.

I so enjoyed my Year of Spark class I signed up for Y is for Yellow with Carla. And when I saw Lynn was teaching a Big Bloom class, I was in!

The class started today and I logged into my email to get the first class except there was not email. What's going on here? Did the ladies forget me? Well, come to find out I never actually signed up for the class except in my mind. I even told Lynn I couldn't wait except I had signed up for the class yet. I got signed up right away after I discovered my error.

I want to be Lynn when I grow up.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Give 52 Week 28 - Blessed

Give 52 Week 28
Cheryl Houston 2016
Oh my goodness! I forgot to post after I got my artwork in the mail.

I made this piece for a man that is in my son, Drew's, life. Drew's dad got Drew in a city league of football when he was in the 6th grade. One of Drew's coaches was Ryan Young.

Ryan is this giant of a man but as nice and welcoming as they come and he has a love for God. He's such a good example for our boys.

Ryan leads Fellowship of Christian Atheletes and he has meetings at Drew's school. The other morning Drew told me he had attended a meeting and I thought about how grateful I was that Ryan is in Drew's life.

As many of my friends say, "It takes a village."

I pray that my children will always know God's love for them, that they will trust in the Lord for the good plans He has in store for them.

Ryan, thank you for all you do for the young men in this community.

This is my gift. I give it to you .

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Give 52 Week 27 - Teacher's Pet

Give 52 Week 27
Cheryl Houston 2016
Teachers. They're a special breed of people. They take in our children no matter how bratty or stubborn and the shower them with knowledge and love. We all have at least one teacher that holds a special place in our hearts.

And then, when you have children of your own, you get to have a favorite teacher that is teaching your your children! That teacher for me is Nancy Bingham. She was both Drew and JB's second grade teacher. Even though my boys are now in the 8th and 9th grade, I still think of Nancy often. I have a picture of her and my boys from one field day that shows up on my work computer screen slide show. 

I once asked JB, "Who's the smartest mom you know?" And instead of answering right away like he should have he had to take a moment to think about it. Seriously, kid? And then he thoughtfully answered, "Well, I think the smartest mom I know is Mrs. Bingham because she's a mom and a teacher." 

My heart smiled. 

I hope any teacher that may read this knows this: You are doing a great job! You are touching the lives of so many children! You are making a positive impact on this world! We need you! We love you! 

That's you, Nancy Bingham!

Speaking of teachers. Those flowers are inspired by an art teacher of mine, Lynn Whipple. Her art is amazing just like her.

Telling you people. Teachers rock!

This is my gift. I give it to you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Give 52 Week 26 - The Gaines'

Give 52 Week 26
Cheryl Houston 2016
Every week we watch this little show called Fixer Upper. It features a couple and their family from Waco, Texas- Chip and Joanna Gaines. Maybe you've heard of them.

Ever since we started watching, I've been saying we just need to open that kitchen wall up because that's what Joanna does in her designs.

The Gaines' make over these really sad houses into a family's dream home. Truly beautiful. Like it makes you jealous. Or maybe it's just me.

But more than the great work they do remodeling homes, they have such a sense of love and playfulness to them. You can tell they really love each other and that the really love their kids. And, they really love making these homes special for the owners.

We're getting ready to watch tonight as I type this!

I also saw a link on Facebook to Joanna's spiritual story and it left an impression on me. Go Google it.

I just wanted to send some flowers to Chip and Joanna because they come into our home each week and make us happy. And though our home doesn't look like her model homes, I hope we can still fill it with just as much love.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Give 52 Week 25 - Building a Life

Give 52 Week 25
Cheryl Houston 2016
I sent this illustrated quote off to Brian Root. Brian and I have never met in person but through the magic of the internet and social media, I have watched him shine in his part of the world.

Brian works in higher education at the University of Pittsburgh at Greenburgh in Pennsylvania in Housing and Residence Life.

I decided to draw this quote for Brian because I saw it in one of his Instagram photos written on some wood in red marker when they were building a home with Habitat of Humanity and I liked it.

Brian is a positive force in this world and is making a real difference through his job and his contribution to causes like Habitat of Humanity. And isn't this quote so true?

This world is a richer place because of you, Brian! Thank you for giving so much to it and to the people around you.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Give 52 Week 24 - You are Magic

Give 52 Week 24
Cheryl Houston 2016
I knew from the beginning of Give 52 I wanted to send a piece of artwork to author, Elizabeth Gilbert. But what? What do you send the person that is so magical that every time you hear her speak you think she's speaking directly to you?

I can't decide if this drawing is a hit or a miss. It's not my usual style and while I have been influenced by Jean-Michel Basquiat lately, this is no where as cool as his crazy, bizarre and wonderful drawings but it is mine and it comes from my heart.

Like most people, I first discovered Ms. Gilbert through her book, Eat, Pray, Love which I loved. Then, I listened to her TedTalk about your creative genius and it gave me courage to pursue my art further. Then, in 2014 I saw her in a 4:47 clip from Oprah's Live the Life you Want weekend tour where she spoke about following your curiosity when you don't know what your passion is. It was a freeing moment for me.

I named 2015 my Year of Curiosity and in that year it led me to my passion and my purpose which I knew all along but I realized was I wasn't nurturing it. I read her book Big Magic in the fall. More nurturing of this artist life that I want to live. On the last day of my Year of Curiosity, I was scrolling through Facebook where I saw a posting of Ms. Gilbert's talk titled The Flight of the Hummingbird. I can't even summarize for you with any justice. All I can say is: WOW! This woman has a magical window into the soul of my life and every time I hear her, it's exactly what I need to hear.

I know I'm not alone in this feeling. She is a Super Hero to so many women out there. She brings light to the world. Serious girl crush going on here. I'm beyond excited  to see her speak in May in Dallas! Can't wait.

This is my gift. I give it to you.
Give 52 Week 24 Part 2
Cheryl Houston 2016

Update: This is me not being brave. I love the above piece that I'm still in possession of but will be mailing off today. I say it's me not being brave because I'm including an additional flower piece.


Because it's not my normal style and maybe I'm afraid she won't like it and I want her to have something that I think she will like but I don't really know Liz Gilbert so how do I know what she's going to like!

No matter. I've decided. She gets 2 pieces because I'm not brave and because I want to.

There. The end. My decision. Don't judge me!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Give 52 Week 23 - Cousin Love

The memories I have of me and my cousin, Julie growing up together are priceless.

Julie is a couple years younger than me and as girls we spent a lot of time together. I loved the holidays when her and her family would travel from the Houston area to my grandparents house. I had a perfectly good bed at home but I wouldn't be happy unless I got to stay with my cousins at my grandparents house. And when they went over to their other grandparents house a town away, I was lucky enough to get to go with them.

As we grew into teens, when Julie was in town we would hit the streets and drive and drive and drive. There wasn't texting or email when we grew up! We had to use snail mail! Gasp!

I would go and stay with her and her family for a week in the summer and we would go play putt putt golf and go to the movies and to Astro World.

Julie has had an interesting life. Her and her husband lived in Santiago, Chile for several years. All but her first born were born in Chile. They were there on a Christian Mission. Her family is amazing.
Julie lives about an hour away from me now and my hope is that we can get together this coming summer around the pool with all the kids. Come to Euless, Julie!

I wanted to send Julie a piece of artwork because of the beautiful influence she has had on my life.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Give 52 Week 22 - You are Stardust

Give 52 Week 22
Cheryl Houston 2016
How did Wednesday get here so fast?

Faster and faster the days go! And, I feel bad that my post wasn't up this morning, but life happens and I cannot sweat the small stuff.

This stardust piece is making it's way to my online art teacher, Carla Sonheim. I took her art class in 2015, The Year of the Spark. So much fun and my new journaling style was born from her teaching. I love these books I'm creating.

This Friday, the 2016 class starts: Y is for Yellow and I can't wait! This years focus is building a body of work which I'm kind of already doing through this very project of Give 52 but her classes are just so much fun and inspiring that I wouldn't miss it.

I'm not sure where I heard or read this saying about stardust but the piece says, "You are stardust. A magical light in this world." And, I love that saying.

I want to be stardust! I know I have been falling super short of being any kind of light lately. At my paying job, I've been snarky and short and basically carrying around a big, bad attitude but I really want to be stardust.

If you are interested in exploring your creative side you should totally look up Carla's classes. I love her style of teaching and she's an amazingly genuine person.

This is my gift. I give it to you.