H-Town Run Tourist's Guide to Mental Health

Feel like a kid again with community art

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

Last week, I gave my 9 recommendations to de-stressing. Because mindfulness has to be practiced every day, this week, I decided to try Hack #9 "Try Something New.". Because one of my super-powers is being at the right place at the right time, I just so happened to know of a community art project with some big time local artists.

Nicola Parente and Tami Moschioni, founders of Art Uniti, are creating a new art project and needed help. I have helped on community art projects before. My tourists and I worked closely with artist Carol Simon on "First Ward is Blooming." We painted up-cycled water bottles and cut them up like flowers. It was a perfect way to chill out after work. The project took 9 months to finish and when we did, we were all proud of our "flower garden." I had been looking for a new one since and I finally found it.

Houstonians' gifts of creativity.

Author's own

We met at the Baker Ripley Leonel Castillo Community Center in Near North Houston. I was so happy that 20 of my tourists came to help. Nicola briefs everyone first:

"This community project is called Snapshot. It is a permanent installation made of steel that will perfectly frame the view of downtown Houston. There will be a spot to stand and take your selfie with the perfectly framed skyline behind you. Hence, the name Snapshot. The frame will be sitting on top of a pedestal covered with tile designs. That is where you come in. Each one of you has a setting in front of you and a bowl of tiles. You are free to design anyway you want, just stay in the lines."

It was heads down as everyone set to making their tile designs. I decided to do a Blue Tile design to depict the first street signs of Houston. You know the ones that are found on the curbs. It seemed like a breeze until my fingers got too big.

The Taylor Family spending some quality time together.

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I listened to the conversations being had. Everyone talked about when they were kids and how they loved to paint and color. Everyone was asking questions about the person next to them. The children, in the room, were all of a sudden treated like the authorities on creativity. But, not one was talking about bills or gossip. Mission accomplished. That is exactly what I wanted.

Mother and daughter, Bobby and Rachel had a gloomy week and felt inspired and uplifted while working on their tiles. Rachel was stressed about her pre-calculus final and wanted to spend time with her mom. Gillian and Tracey moved here a few months ago. Gillian works from home and sometimes can get lonely and Tracey travels a lot for work. Both were excited to do something different and get out.

Artists Nicola Parente and Tami Moschioni hold a mock-up of Snapshot.

Author's own

Now, I bet you are thinking "What is Art Uniti?" Nicola feels that being creative is a huge component to mental health. It makes him happier and he wanted to share it with others. Because they know how important art is, Tami and Nicola founded Art Uniti to let the community get involved in creating the public art around Houston. The community is able to gift their art to the city with the help of respected artists like Tami and Nicola. Snapshot is the fifth project from Art Uniti. Maybe you've seen these projects around the city: Community Quilt at Kroger at Riverstone Sugarland, Color Bursting in Hermann Park, and Scaped Senses across from Moody Park. Unfortunately, community involvement on Snapshot is closed, but I will definitely keep you posted about new projects.

H-Town Run Tourist

Are you an H-Town Run Tourist?

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

You may have noticed that I have begun calling my column: H-Town Run Tourist. H-Town Run Tourist describes my relationship with the city I live in, the sport of running, and myself. Below is a list of the characteristics of an H Town Run Tourist. Read and decide if you if you are a run tourist too.

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You are super curious.

If you are anything like me, you love to discover new running or walking routes. What is this? What is that? Who painted that? When did that open? What does that taste like? Sometimes I feel like I am a dog that has her nose in the grass ready to smell just about anything.

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You started running to find yourself.

A lot of people spend a lot of time running away from themselves. But, if you are like me, you starting running to run into yourself. (Clever, huh) If you missed it, what I mean is that maybe you started running for your health, a mid life crisis, a divorce, or for your mental health.

When I was in Africa, I asked many of the other runners why they were running in Victoria Falls. I got many answers, all of them were amazing. However, one gentleman answered that he and his wife always wanted to run a marathon. She had died the year before and he was running for her. (I know, I need a tissue too.)

You are just not that competitive.

When I thought about it, I found that I am not competitive with other runners as to be the best. I am more interested in how well I can beat my best self. I am always competing with myself. I feel that once you make it to the start line, you have already won. (many things can happen before the start line.) Many times, I "compete" with how much I can enjoy the experience of the race and still stick to a timetable. I love reading signs, taking pics with new friends, and chatting with people at the before and after party.

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You love to think and dream. BIG.

If you are like me, you love to dream and think BIG. If you are running a long distance, you have time to dream. I quickly found that I could let my mind go. When you are on the open road for hours training, you find that it is the best place to solve problems. Then, I began to dream big. I quickly decided that I wanted to run around the world. I set the intention and I was able to achieve that goal. I also use it to meditate. I love studying flowers and trees for their fractal patterns. It helps get the best endorphin high.

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You have wanderlust.

Let me get this straight. If I strap on my running shoes, walk out of my door, and just keep going, I'll end up in this cool place. If I can do that here, where else can I go? This rabbit hole is worth going down. Where is the next race? In Houston? In Austin? In a national park? In a jungle? Overseas? It never ends.

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You can totally put yourself first.

This sounds crappy. Co-dependent people confuse this with being selfish. Healthy minded individuals know that true self care means to take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others. Others will try to get in your way by guilt tripping you to spend more time with them, but know that you have to be in a good place to help others or it just will not work.

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You are truly grateful for......everything.

Chances are, you don't even know that you practice gratitude. It just comes naturally. If you are anything like me, you starting running out of hardship, almost necessity. But, along the way, you could not help but notice the trees, the flowers, and the birds. You just had to stop and smell the roses. Gratitude comes naturally to you!

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You are Houston Proud and Houston Strong.

If you are like me, you love you some Houston, Texas. Whether you are running in Memorial Park to Buffalo Bayou Park or in the Chevron Houston Marathon. You could be running downtown Houston passing by originals by Gonzo 247, David Adickes, or Daniel Anguilu. You know one thing…..You would not live in another city in this country. In fact, you can't wait until this weekend to do your weekend long run and enjoy all the Houston craft beer that goes with it.

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