How to Draw a Shark



Step One:

Think of something you are afraid of.


Step Two:

Draw an upside down “V” or an A without the crossbar that makes it look like an upside down “V.”


Step Three:

Draw the bow wave so that you can tell what direction the shark is swimming (e.g. towards you).


Step Four:

Draw the wake to help reinforce that yes, it’s definitely swimming towards you.


Step Five:

Draw an arrow that points to it.


Step Six:

Color it in (optional).


Step Seven:

On the end of the arrow that is not pointing at the shark, write down a sentence that describes the fear you thought of in step one.


Repeat as many times as necessary.


You may be wondering why there is no body necessary to draw a shark.
It is because we only need the imagined threat of any fear to fully fear it.
And besides, 
spoiler alert.


Announcing Museum Camp 2015

I am very excited to announce that I'm partnering with Nina Simon and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History to put on Museum Camp 2015.  It'll be in August of this year and our theme is SPACE-MAKING, which means making time/head/physical space for things like creativity, contemplation, solitude, risk-taking, and self-care. 

You don't have to be a "museum person" to apply. If you pursue positive change in your life and community, you are invited. Applications are here. Join us!

Knowing Not Knowing

Some days risk must be endured. On those days it's not thrilling nor terribly scary. Reward and failure, both, elude.

Today is one of those days.  Today I experience the plain, boring side of risk. I must be with my choices and not scramble one way or another to change them so they are more or less comfortable. Being with this uncertainty is different from creating it or discovering where it leads. It’s both not knowing and knowing at the same time.

It’s knowing not knowing.

Ocracoke Update No. 4

Ocracoke Update No. 4

After a long drive and ferry ride. After packing the cars. After taking down the Christmas tree. After time with friends and family. After Christmas concerts. After finding a whole Scotch Bonnet. After star gazing and dodging cats (and their poop) on walks with Rusty. After dolphins and rainbows. After raw wind and storms. After warm days long past their due. After being chased by a dog and circled by a hawk. After making and experiencing one of the best decisions ever, we are home.

About a month ago, I was sitting on the couch writing morning pages when I heard an abrupt and familiar whackthump. A bird had flown into the window. I winced and got up to assess and I saw it lying on the ground, upright, panting, and otherwise not moving.

I knew the bird wouldn’t last a minute in its current state. Ocracoke is home to dozens if not hundreds of the fattest and most fearless feral cats — Ocracats — I’ve ever seen. And our area of the island happened to home a large percentage of them. I thought of something Frances once told me — to always make way for life — and I put on a coat and went outside to stand watch.

I sat about ten feet from the bird and waited. I tried not to scare it. I had no desire to rush it. I simply sat and watched it for what felt like a long time. Eventually, it did fly and with a start. One second it sat immobile and the very next it was gone and I never saw it again. 

As I sat watching that bird, I didn’t know if it would ever fly again. So much of my Ocracoke experience was like that. It was unknown until it was known. And even though each and every moment of those three months is known at this point, there’s still much unknown about it. What will come of the relationships we’ve begun? Will we keep our new routines and perspectives? Who will we be as a result of this experience? 

One last story.

Leslie owns a bookshop (the bookshop) on the island. It’s called Books To Be Red. We went there frequently because we love it and she’s awesome and it’s something to do. We always chatted and were friendly and it was the sort of thing we could do anywhere but usually don’t. 

A week or so ago, we stopped by Leslie’s store to buy toy walkie talkies. Jen and I were driving separate cars home and we thought it’d be nice to use them instead of our phones. Leslie showed us the set she had but once we told her our plans, she didn’t recommend them. She didn’t trust that the toy ones would have the range we needed to communicate.

Later that day, I got an email from her. She wrote that her son had a pair of real walkie talkies that we were welcome to use and could ship them back once we got home. We stopped by the store the next day and picked them up.

On the morning we were set to leave, Leslie texted at 7:32 am. She was on the 7:30 ferry with her son Andrew, a freshman at UNC, who she was driving back to school after winter break. Just as the ferry launched, he realized that he forgot his dorm key. Even though they were only two minutes from the island, they were essentially seven hours away from his keys (the three hour ferry to mainland, the wait for the next one, and the three hour ferry back to Ocracoke).

Leslie wanted to know if we might grab the key and meet them in the Triangle later that day. It was effortless to say yes and so right to be able to reciprocate her frequent kindness to us. We met them at REI a few hours later, dorm key and walkie talkies in hand.

These stories remind me of something I learned time and again in Ocracoke - to give from a place that has. The morning I watched the bird, I wasn’t sacrificing to stand watch. I suppose Ocracoke didn’t sacrifice much by being so very much Ocracoke in our time there. But it was exactly what we needed.

In the words of Rilke, “In the course of my work this last long winter, I have experienced a truth more completely than ever before: that life’s bestowal of riches already surpasses any subsequent impoverishment. What, then, remains to be feared? Only that we might forget this! But around and within us how much it helps to remember!”

Or in my own words, dated the morning of 12/30/14, “I am deeply grateful to this place. And to my past self for finding and trusting a way here. This time, while I am sad to experience the end of it, was enough. I am grateful for this perspective and for the truth behind it. I have the eyes to see how my life is wonderful.”

Ocracoke showed me that we have. And when we give from that place, we have even more.

Secret's in the Salt

The first edition of the Secret's in the Salt newsletter went out in the US Post today.

Be a colander.

A lesson from a new friend: let things flow through you, no need to collect or hold them.

Dogs and Us

Dogs and Us

Mary Oliver wrote an essay about dogs called "Dog Talk" that I just love. I love it for many reasons, mostly because it appreciates dogs for their complexity and challenges me to overcome my fear of them.

In her essay, she reminds us that dogs are from two worlds — the domestic and the wild — and that they uniquely experience both fully. She writes, "Dog promises and then forgets." And doesn't he? I sense in Rusty an intelligence that communicates with me and makes contractual agreements.

- "I won't pull on the leash if you take me to that thing over there."
- "I won't wake you if you prioritize me and take me out right away."
- "I'll do pretty much anything you want if you give me a treat."

But then there are moments of demanding behavior, or of hunting, or of playfulness and he is overcome. The contracts that bind us are far away.

Reading Oliver's essay, I thought, "Human realizes and then forgets." I have moments of deep insight into who I am, or how it all works, or what I need or want and then I am distracted — just like Rusty when he smells a chicken bone on the sidewalk or spies a neighborhood cat underneath a porch — and I lose it. I get distracted by the details and the drama and I am overcome. The wisdom that I once found is far away.

Humans are entirely domesticated, but we do know a similar duality. We live as both the grasshopper and the ant, both the tortoise and the hare, both the domestic dog that promises and the wild one that goes after whatever it desires, or fears, and forgets.



Last night, after a series of events, the pie safe and kitchen table pictured here were reunited.

The table has been in my family for over a hundred years. It was my great grandmother's, and then my mother's, and it was the table I sat at to do homework and eat supper everyday as a child. Each black water stain that shows through its stone maple grain was my fault.

The pie safe was a gift from my uncle John when we were very poor. I'm not sure why he bought it for her, but it came at a time when we didn't have very much and nothing new. It was a piece of furniture my mom took pride in. It was a bright presence, despite its dark wood, in our similarly brown and dark trailer.

I was given the pie safe when I graduated college. I used it in my first apartment as a toy chest, filled with toy guns and ironing boards and Smurfs and Motown California Raisins. In my next apartment, it was a pantry. Its contents were among some of the first signs of evidence of my choice to live a healthier life. In the Treehaus, it was a fully stocked bar and then later, a wardrobe. In the Perry Building, it spent several years in the basement as storage for home-canned goods and then for the last year as a bookshelf in the living room.

My Mom got remarried on January 8th and moved into a new house. Jen and I went down for the wedding and we rented a truck to bring back the table. It's been in the basement for a couple weeks, but last night we brought it up and also moved the pie safe into the dining room. This morning as I sat drinking coffee and reading over cookbooks, I found it a strange comfort to be back in their company. I treasure these two unexpectedly. The childhood they represent is one from which I distanced myself as soon as I got the chance. But gently, they invite me to reconsider that distance — to reunite the past with the present; to change and also stay myself.

Spoiler Alert

You are the shark. YOU ARE THE SHARK. #youareyourownshark