Interchange Weekend 1

A few months ago I announced my plans to join a school and was too timid to even name the school for fear someone would look it up, judge me up one side and down the other, then burst my bubble that the school was a fly-by-night scam and that I was an idiot. Then I quit worrying about what people would think and asked the Internet for FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

The Internet gave me $5,150. Someone must’ve told the Internet my Sammy vs. Dave beliefs

And last weekend I started that school: Interchange Counseling Institute



Later tonight (I started this post on Thursday night) I will trade practice sessions with a classmate, which sounded daunting until late Sunday afternoon came around. 

At the end of the first training weekend I felt a bit overwhelmed and under skilled. So many of my classmates are currently counselors or have extensive experience in talking with people on a personal level. I couldn’t give myself the credit I needed of being perfectly apt at carrying a classmate through a conversation for 30 minutes. I was overthinking it, like I do. And my ‘not good enough’ were having a raging good time up there in my head. 

Fortunately, fate paired me off with a gifted counselor who cleared me out of my own way. I grasped a sliver of confidence like a relay baton and took my turn as counselor. What happened in the next 30 minutes was personally astonishing. Of course I won’t share any details about our talk but there was this moment where things clicked inside. I was all the way with this wonderful human and I heard a clue. I took a risk and asked a question. I hit pay dirt. My client had an immediate, visceral, positive reaction and I physically felt the bullseye in my own body.

I COUNSELED SOMEONE. I didn’t give advice, I didn’t pat their head and say ‘There, there…it’ll all be ok”. I took all the pieces given to me, looked at them closely and snapped them together. Then handed them back and said, “Look. There’s that thing you’re looking for. It’s right here.” Or something. I’m sort of terrible at analogies. 

That was the biggest moment, knowing that I was a counselor. There were plenty of other cool observances and happenings. So many. And I didn’t live tweet it, either. In fact, I mostly left my phone with my stuff on the side of the room — ignored for hours on end. At one point my son was frustrated I hadn’t answered his first 30 texts that said “Mom”. So he sent 17 more in various form, called 15 times and left 5 voicemails ranging from angry to tearful. But he lived and so did Twitter. (His phone wasn’t charging. That was the big, ironic emergency.)


My classmates range in age from early 20s to, uh, 70ish? Ethnically and socially diverse, soccer moms mixed in with Burning Man regulars. Loud, bright men mixed in with quiet and shy women. And vice versa. All good-hearted. All highly emotionally intelligent. When I realized I was in a room with 150 of ‘my people’ my eyes filled with happy tears. 

The meeting facility is at Ft. Mason and when we look out the window there’s a view of a marina. Beyond that, was the Golden Gate Bridge. Mostly the weekend weather was completely and totally perfect with just enough fog to be charming. 


I uncovered things about myself that surprised me. Did you know that I have some places where I’m closed off and protected? I hope to work on that in a gentle, purposeful way. I also hope to find more places that need light and fresh air. I’m ready to really flourish. 


My dear friend Jack, who a several months ago met a wonderful woman who is the absolute sparkle in his eyes sat across from me at lunch recently with a thoughtful speech prepared. After he and his girlfriend heard me rant across a glass or three of whiskey one weekend after a bad dating experience, he bestowed upon me his words. I wish I could have recorded it. He was very right in a lot of ways. More on that in a second.

I am a mega fan of Brene Brown’s work and was wishing last week she had some sort of help with staying Wholehearted through the dating life. I know I can apply those principles on my own but to have specific anecdotes would be tremendous. As a person who spent the last year or two on a quest for wholeheartedness, presence and the reclaiming of my Self, this territory of dating is difficult. 

Jack knows I believe most people are good and sees me give people the benefit of the doubt when at all possible, over and over and over. He worries it leaves me too vulnerable. Personally, I believe that if I’m going to have a successful go at this phase of my life that I have to approach it as true to my Self as possible, which must leave me vulnerable. It isn’t easy to strike the balance of vulnerability and boundaries. I never want to shroud myself in armor, but I also don’t want some guy to get his sharp knife into my tender, pink heart. It is tricky. 

The last 6 months of dating have gifted me a hell of a lot of experiences. So many first dates. So many friend zones (both where it happened to me and where I did the reclassification). So many first kisses and bad kisses and holymotherofpearlmyfacejustmelted kisses. A few skin on skin thoughtful or funny or provocative conversations while daylight streamed through the mini blinds. Several late night bad decisions that were so. much. fun. y’all. And a few moments of such extreme and throat-closing awkwardness I thought I would absolutely die. But I didn’t. And neither did he. Or him. Or that other guy. 

I’ve tried lots of dating approaches and really thought I had stumbled upon genius a few months ago. Multi-dating! This is the term I use to describe where I am technically dating two or more men at once (with full disclosure). You see, Guy A and I only see each other every other week or so but then Guy B and I might have happy hour or catch dinner once a week. But when either or both of them are occupied there’s a Guy C who I just met but, “Sure! Let’s get coffee,” because you just never know. One must kiss a lot of frogs, I’m told.

The downside is that the approach is really, really consuming of both time and mental resources. While all the joys of dating are amplified, so are all the frustrations. My most recent Guy C was a man I met on Tinder who was only in the US for a short while. He asked about my American dating life and as I proudly explained the logistics he responded, “So… you don’t want to get close to anyone?”


So much for Wholehearted

This guy who barely knew me was dead right. I am tuckered out from trying to date without letting anyone close to me. Or dating guys who I know won’t get close to me. (I need a nickname for emotionally unavailable. Any thoughts on that, kind reader?) I can’t say that all the guys have fallen into the “don’t get close” category, but more have than haven’t. 

Everything prior to this paragraph was essentially written a couple of weeks ago. Tonight as I settled in to play catch up on some computer things, I checked my email. A fresh post was waiting for me from Danielle LaPorte, a new-to-me life coach who is the perfect blend of sassy and softie. The title of the post read, “Open, gentle heart. Big fucking fence.” The advice I give on Love that took the longest time to learn. I began to read…

“being loving” meant: letting everyone in the door … ignoring the mismatch between people’s words and their actions … and generally taking more shit than anyone should. While I professed to suffer no fools, I was, you know, suffering some serious fools.

Well, now. That got my attention. Then she said,

Closing my heart would be certain soul death. Not an option. Shutting my heart half-way would be like shallow breathing for eternity, and I’m here to breathe life in fully wholly holy. So semi-openness was not an option either.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Then she told a story she tells her son, 

“Keep your heart open, as wide open as you possibly can. Keep it so soft. Let it be tender. FEEL EVERYTHING. Feel your feelings, share your feelings. Keep your heart gentle, gentle, open, open.

And then… put a big fucking fence around it. Make it tall and make it strong. Ask your angels to guard the gate for you at all times. Do not let anybody past your gate unless their own heart is open and gentle. Only let in people who are respectful, kind, interested and loving. Emphasis on respectful, kind, interested and loving.”

Do not let anyone past your gate unless their own heart is open and gentle. 

Only let in people who are respectful, kind, interested and loving.

I have not done this. I’ve let everyone in all willy nilly and then get pissed when they aren’t interested or respectful or loving or kind. Or any combination thereof. 

Dear Universe, please grant me patience and compassion. 

I’m putting my fence up now. 

There was a concert in my living room

A little while back I texted my friends and veteran house concert troubadours on their opinion of my house as an appropriate venue for hosting a show. Not their show….just a show. David thought I might be able to get 30 or so people in the space. 

I never did anything with that information. It was just another one of my Beautiful Ideas

Maybe a week later he asked me if I’d like to host a house concert? A lovely woman by the name of Marian Call was embarking upon a tour across the states. She and David had talked about getting together for a show for a while but it never seemed to work out. I think. Maybe that’s the story? It’s the new truth because it’s late and god-so-help-me, I just want to get this story told. So I can tell all the other ones waiting in the wings. 

My answer was yes. Actually, since we’re making up stuff around here, I was all, “Oh hell yesss, muthafucka!”

Profanity aside, I truly was excited to have them play here. I am a fan of David’s band, Dr. Pants, and to have that glory happening under my roof seemed like a no-brainer. I had never heard of Marian Call, but I trust his judgement.

Bryan, Marian’s guitarist for this leg of her tour, had flown in Saturday night and Sunday morning I scooted to his hotel to pick him up. Later in the afternoon, we three moved sofas, unfolded chairs and ::boom:: a venue was born.

So...this is happening.

 FYI to any indie folk artist who are looking for a place to have a house concert in Oklahoma City, my house seems as if it could hold 45 or so people. The final count for Sunday was right around 30, so things didn’t get crazy. In fact, things only got cooler as the evening wore on. 

 Right when they were supposed to, people arrived and they all had their proper donations. Some even had extra and I think the bands  had a successful night in Casa de Sheri. I had a successful night, too, as a friend from Texas brought up a case of bottled Fat Tire each for David and I. As I cleaned up after the show I proudly tossed vegetables from my crisper drawer to make room for all those lovely bottles. 

I don’t remember a whole lot of detail from the show. There were a lot of friends in the room, which was a perfectly acceptable distraction in my book, plus I was knee deep in Fat Tire and whatnot. Sitting here tonight, I can think of ways to improve for next time as a person who wants to be writing about these many adventures upon which she embarks. Perhaps I’ll keep a camera with me? Or….I don’t know….take photos of all these lovely friends who attended? Next time. Next time I will be more present and less flittery. The times lately that I’ve most enjoyed the magic of live music, I’ve been writing words in my head as I’m listening and watching. All systems are go and I’m taking note as to not forget.  

One memory did surface, and it’s one I experience more often and more deeply as I become better friends with David and his wife K.C. I get a little weepy or get chills at least once during the evening, whether it be a Dr. Pants set or a K.C. Clifford set. To see people I love do the work they love makes my heart swell and makes me want to be a more open and vulnerable person. This is how music makes me better. I watch their vulnerability and it gives me joy and strength, even when it involves throwing donuts to a captive audience. You know what…. ESPECIALLY when it involves throwing donuts into a captive audience. 







Marian was delightful! She sings a lot about nerdy / geeky things, but then just funny / cool life observations, too. And she uses a vintage typewriter as a percussion instrument. Correction, she brilliantly uses a vintage typewriter as a percussion instrument.

And she handed out props for songs…

And Dr. Pants did what Dr. Pants does…

And it was glorious.

A big, huge thank you to David Broyles, K.C. Clifford, Marian Call and Bryan Ray for being so lovely to the newbie and for helping make a wonderful house concert happen. All I did was provide a venue and place for two musicians to sleep. They did all the magic and I’m, once again, grateful for the daily miracles. Sunday had miracles stacked to the rafters. <3

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