Design Yourself 11: Storytelling – The Present

Carpe diem, baby. In part 3 of our 4-part miniseries on Storytelling, we go deep on the role of the present in shaping our stories. We explore the power of being able to bring new awareness to what you see right now using the wise words of the late writer David Foster Wallace (this is water!). We also learn about how being really clear about what’s real in your present is key not just to telling the Story of You but to feeling sane in the process. Sharon also dishes on some of her favorite shopping destinations around DC. Oh and there are some crazy prancing deer that show up which lead Sharon to record the this episode in two-parts. Seriously? Seriously! Enjoy!


  • I so loved that the recording of this show kicked off with me being surprised by seeing a doe and 3 fawns prance around the shallow waters of Lake Wallenpaupack. The fawns were living it up –  jumping here, there and everywhere seemingly enjoying the splashing and fun of it as much as my own little toddlers are on this Labor Day weekend trip.



  • In this episode, I shared a few of my favorite excerpts of a marvelous speech that I witnessed in 2005 back at my alma mater Kenyon College. (Oh boy, did I love my 3 years living on this hill surrounded by cornfields.) The speech, This is Water, was given by the sadly now diseased author David Foster Wallace. The opening vignette of the speech still blows my mind a bit:


There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet

an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says,

“Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a

bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes,

“What the hell is water?”

The immediate point of the fish story is that the

most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are

the hardest to see and talk about.


  • You can also purchase a beautiful little hardcover volume, which is a delight for any bibliophile, especially one in the middle of a life transition. It’s a book I find myself reaching for at not infrequent intervals.
  • I wish I could personally transport you back to that sunny day in May in Gambier, Ohio to experience the speech yourself. In lieu of inventing time travel, I will share that you can listen the audio for yourself.

The two key ideas I explore on the topic of The Present are:

  1. That it’s possible to see the water. We have the choice of consciousness and an ever expansive ability to grow the scope of what we see. This isn’t a yes or no – I did it or I didn’t do it – kind of choice. This is an active practice that we must choose (or not choose) every day.
  2. That cozying up to what’s real for you right now is critical not just to moving you to where you want to be, but to finding a sense of peace and sanity in the here and now.
  • Curious to go deeper on the sufficiency (“I have enough”) vs. scarcity (“There’s not enough” or “I need more”) mindset that I reference in this show?  Lynne Twist’s book Soul of Money is a great first stop.
  • At the end of the podcast, I shared a beautiful, fully present experience I had had in the past week. Oddly – because I’m not much for shopping these days – this experience included my heading into and out of several spots in the U Street Corridor of NW, Washington, D.C. In case you are curious to check them out, they are:

Fyubi Makeup and Brow Studio – I love this place. I head here every few months to have my brows shaped. The owner, Flami Garioni, is a true inspiration and I’m delighted to report that she’s agreed to be a guest on the podcast. Stay tuned!

Good Wood – This shop has furnished a great deal of my living spaces over the years. Beautiful vintage/antique pieces. On this day I got some great end of summer steals, including a dress crafted by a design team that I adore, Osei Duro. Osei Duro is a small fashion house based in Los Angeles, CA and Accra, Ghana. Each piece is not only beautiful, but I always rest easy knowing that I can feel good about how it was created as well.

Redeem – I popped into this clothing boutique and came across a pop up shop for Be Clean, which sells products for your body, mind, and home that are chemical-free and american-made. I’m obsessed with this lip stain that I got on this visit. It’s stellar and I can’t wait to learn more about Be Clean and it’s intriguing product lineup.

I became interested in this wellness movement in make up and skin care when I stumbled across Follain in Boston on a visit there this summer. Sadly, I was pressed for time and so haven’t been able to explore there a ton…yet! (They also have a store in my native DC at Union Market.)

Salt and Sundry – The final stop on my U Street crawl where I scored a sweet gift for my hubby and ran into an old friend and colleague who wonderfully and bizarrely thought I was in upstate NY running a training and development center and writing novels. Not yet, Paul. But maybe soon. =)

Curious about the other episodes in this Storytelling Miniseries? Check out:

Episode 9, The Introduction

Episode 10, The Past

Episode 12, The Future