Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Give 52 - Week 3: Love

Love for Arielle Ford
Give 52 - Week 3
Cheryl Houston 2015
Late in 2010, I found myself in another failed relationship and honestly, at that time I was shaking my head, thinking what is wrong with me? I wanted and needed to take a good long look at myself and own up my part of the failures of these past relationships. What was I doing wrong? And, believe me, I was doing plenty of things wrong.

I had misguided thoughts and ideas and perceptions and I was holding on to these old agreements I didn't even know I had and so much more.

I named 2011 my year the Year of Love and the only thing I knew to do was dive into any relationship advice I could find. If it was about relationships and dating, I was reading it. But, I was also learning more about myself.

I found Arielle Ford and her book Soulmate Secret.

Friends, if you are looking for love and find yourself struggling, please do yourself a favor and pick up Arielle's book. Read it with an open mind and an open heart. One of my favorite bits of advice from her book is this: It's not your job to know when you will meet your soulmate. It's your job to be ready.

Are you ready? Because, I was ready. I wanted nothing more than to be able to meet someone I could share my love with on a daily basis. I followed her advice. I listened in on her Soulmate Summit featuring relationship experts. I even got to go see her here in Dallas at an event she held. And, I held out faith that God (whoever God was) and the Universe were preparing me for someone and preparing someone for me.

And, guess what! He found me! We found each other. Chris Houston is the love of my life and I don't know if I would have been open to receiving his love if I hadn't have embraced the teachings of Arielle Ford.

My heart is so grateful that her words found their way into my heart and my world. Even today as I continue to work on my relationship with my husband, her wisdom has made all the difference in my life and my relationship with him.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Week Three Mail

Week Three's artwork went out into the postal world on Saturday.

(You meet some interesting people at the United State Postal Service office! Funny people. People with no shoes on their feet! Helpful people.)

I'm still trying out different packaging trying to figure out what I like best.

I prefer the white envelopes but they have a coating on them that doesn't soak in the ink of the markers I use to decorate them but, as long as the artwork gets to it's destination without a bunch of folds in it I guess that's all that matters.

I hope you will tune in tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Give 52 - Week 2: Quest

Love is Kind for Chris Guillebeau
Give 52 - Week 2
Drawing by Cheryl Houston 2015
I don't know Chris Guillebeau. The only connection I have with him is me reading his books, The $100 Start Up and  The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest that Will Bring Purpose to Your Life.

The post I originally wrote is below but that all seemed not to be as important after I read this post written by Chris. Chris lost his brother Ken this year and the story he so bravely shares makes my heart ache for him and for everyone who loses someone too soon. I never know what to say in these times of mourning other than I'm thinking of you and praying for you. 

Chris' post talks about wanting to be kind like his brother Ken and how he believes that he wasn't as kind as Ken. I didn't know Ken so I can't compare and again, I don't know Chris either. But, I don't believe for a minute that Chris isn't kind. He writes books encouraging and inspiring others to believe in their dreams and to seek greater meaning and purpose. His kindness in authoring those words of encouragement have touched me to create this blog and this one year quest. It's a small thing. But, it's my thing. It's my hope that my art will encourage and lift up others.

So, Chris, I'm so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and my prayers. May you find peace and know that there is a world of readers that believe you are kind. I'm one of them. Thank you for sharing your gift with me. 

Now, back to the original post...

2014 was my Year of Purpose and just like in my Year of Love, I dove into books about purpose. It wasn't that I necessarily needed more purpose but I just felt like something was missing. My home life was good. My job was okay but I just wanted something more. I'm not sure where I heard of Chris' book The Happiness of Pursuit but I immediately thought I had to read it. Except, I didn't read The Happiness of Pursuit. I listened to it on audio, to and from work everyday but same thing, right? And, then I listened to it again.

Chris' book is full of encouraging stories of other people's quests. I particularly like when he quotes Carrie, a hospice care worker speaking about patients under her care. She says, "when you're at the end of your life there's no time for bullshit."

One morning I was journaling and I wrote:

My God! I need a quest! I need a quest just like Chris describes in his book.

But what would that quest be? I don't have the travel bug like Chris does. I'm not going to go to every baseball stadium in the US or cook meals from countries around the world or knit 10,000 hats like the people in book did because those are not my things but drawing and painting and creating art. That's what I do. That is what I cannot not do. I don't know why I'm drawn to create art. It's just who I am. 

Pablo Picasso is quoted as saying: The meaning in life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. 

If I had not listened to Chris' audio-book, I may not have ever been thinking about finding my own quest and Give 52 would have never been born and my artwork would be molding away in a drawer. So, thank you Chris Guillebeau for sharing your shine with me and the world and encouraging us to live a better life following our dreams.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Give 52 - Week 1: Claudia Shines

The Alchemist Quote for Claudia Beeny
Give 52 - Week 1
Drawing by Cheryl Houston 2015
Way back in 2007 I met my friend, Claudia, at a neighborhood bunco party.

When I asked her what she did, she told me she was writing a blog.

"Funny," I said, "I read blogs!"

I had a lot of time on my hands at my job at that time and I would fill it by reading blogs.

I began participating in the fun that she created on her blog and a friendship was born. At that time, her blog was called Highlowaha and we did a ton of fun stuff! Claudia has an idea producing brain and she was always coming up with something fun and it was an honor to be able to participate in so many good projects.

Some of her projects included: Cookie Cutter Challenge, Creative Olympic Decathlon, Super Bowl Challenges, Serentripity, drawing Ray Wattson, Taste of USA, fun Holiday crafts and celebrations and a whole slew of fun stuff I'm leaving out. Seriously. There was so much more.

Through this friendship, I was able to redefine and rewrite some of the dreams I had for my own life. How could I not when I had found such an encouraging friend who sees the good in everyone she meets? And boldly encourages the good out of them!

The blog was renamed House of Shine and she really started putting a focus more on personal development. There is the The Yellow Envelope Project, The Year of Project, DO52, Box of Shine Party and Shineworks just to mention a few.

There are so many areas of my outlook on life that have been changed for the better by directly being a part of House of Shine and I will always appreciate these days and the growth that I have experienced by being a part of it.

Being a part of Claudia's world has truly reshaped my attitude about abundance and gratitude. I will always be grateful for the experiences and outlook that she shares with me and for what I have learned by taking part in the House of Shine and simply by being her friend. It only makes sense for me to give my first piece of Give 52 artwork to my friend, Claudia.

So, thank you, Claudia. For sharing your Shine with me and for encouraging me to share my Shine with the world. Give 52 can be linked directly back to your influence on my life. I look forward to so many more adventures with you.

This is my gift. I give it to you.

Friday, August 7, 2015

How do you live your life?

The Sound of Heaven - from the journal of
Cheryl Houston ©
Do you wake up every morning ready to celebrate your day?

Do you focus on the good things that are evident in your life?

Are you grateful for another day here on this earth?

I know I am because consider the alternative. The alternative of not being alive isn't something I'm ready to experience.

Someday I want to go to heaven and celebrate but not for a very long while still. I have too much to do and too much to experience here in this life that has been so gracefully given to me.

I want to live this life in a spirit of celebration not a stoic, woe is me way. How about you? Let's bring the sounds of heaven down to earth and those are the sounds of celebration! Focus on what is good in your life and be grateful for the everyday small things that we so often take for granted.

Here's what I'm grateful for today:
My sweet husband, our wonderful children, our safe and cute home, our overall good health, the fact that we have jobs to go to that provide financially for our family, for the beautifully hot days of summer, the cool blue water of our pool where we enjoy floating and listening to music, and the songs of the cicadas in our neighbors trees.

What are you celebrating today?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Give 52 - What, Who, Why, When

What is Give 52?
Give 52 is a gratitude challenge that I've created for myself. Once a week for 52 weeks I will give away one piece of my artwork and blog about it here.

Who will I choose?
I have some personal heroes that have inspired me through their work. I have some friends and family members that I want to be sure to spread some love and encouragement just because I love them. To those people that I have witnessed helped my friends and loved ones to whom I want to express gratitude on behalf of my loved ones. I will know some of these people personally and some of them I've never met.

Why am I doing this quest?
In February, I told myself I was going to take the 29 Gifts challenge again where you give one gift everyday for 29 days but I was being all rigid on the start date. I wanted to start at the beginning of the month on day 1 so it was easy to track. March 1 came and went and I didn't give a gift to anyone. I told myself that I would start in April. April 1 came and went. No gift to anyone. I noticed the pattern.

2014 was my Year of Purpose and 2015 is my
Year of Curiosity. While searching for purpose and following curiosity, I have read a lot of different books, taken online classes, began journaling on a regular basis and creating a lot of art. On April 2, 2015, while driving on Oak Lawn Avenue on the way to work I had this idea to give away 52 pieces of artwork in 52 weeks. It gave me breathing room with a longer commitment.

The persnickety side of me said, "Well, you'll have to wait to the beginning of 2016!" But the logical side of me, "Whoa, friend. How about we start on your birthday? That's coming up soon."

So, I started planing. I have been thinking about the people that I want to give a piece of artwork so I can show my appreciation and share my gift. Give 52 is my small way of making a difference and sharing my gift of creativity otherwise, why do I make all this art?

Why do I make it? I know many people view this as "just a hobby" but I wish I could explain to you that it is so much more than just a hobby. I feel as if I have to create. I have to. Drawing, painting, whatever it is and if I'm not creating something, I feel the loss of it. More than any other label that I attach to myself, Artist, is what defines me most. I'm called to make art, good or bad, and then I put it neatly away in my drawers at home and there it sits.

That ends with this project. Now, I'm called to make it and I'm called to share it.

When will Give 52 it begin?
 My first Give 52 recipient is scheduled to be announced on August 12. I hope you will come back on the 12th to see the first piece and to read about why that person moved me to gratitude.

This is my gift. I give it to you.