Going on the Dr. Phil show on self-marriage as a guest expert earlier this year in February was what I would call a VERY mixed experience–you’ll get to read all the juicy details in an essay to be published soon in this space. If you are not on my newsletter list already, be sure to sign up to get that post!
But there were some wonderful moments that need to be remembered for the history (herstory?) books.
One of the best parts, for sure, was getting the chance to officiate a self-marriage ceremony on national TV, on a show that reaches two million people per episode. After all the other shenanigans happened on stage (again, stay tuned for the essay), the producers led me backstage where they had actually created quite a sweet space with flowers for a self-wedding.
Who was getting married? After I got to LA, the producer called me and told me that Kalley Sullivan, the assistant producer, wanted to marry herself on the show, and her sister Camryn, a mental health influencer (and survivor) who runs this YouTube account focused on suicide prevention, also wanted to commit to love herself in a ceremony. They had been so inspired by the conversations with me and the other two women featured on the show, Danni Adams (@amapoundcake) and Sonya Police, that they too wanted to take this bold step, in their early twenties. Way to go Generation Z!
They asked me to officiate the ceremony since I have been helping women to marry themselves for years.
Take a look at the video above to sneak a peak. I love what Camryn says about giving no one else credit for her own growth. The journey of self-care and learning to love oneself is a social one. People help us along the way–friends, therapists, coaches, authors, parents, and so on. We can’t do this life thing on our own. But ultimately we choose to care for ourselves, and we need to give ourselves credit. Especially if life has thrown tough obstacles in our way, such as trauma or severe depression.
I’m sharing this video clip now because I’m especially inspired by the vibes of self-marriage by the Zoom call we just had yesterday afternoon in this year’s Turned-On Living program, the yearlong small group coaching program that I am running that brings together women who have the shared goal of living a turned-on life.
In November, the women who are part of this year’s 2023 Turned-On Living cohort will come to Providence and we will do their own unique self-marriage ceremonies in the woods as part of our weekend retreat to bond in person. Each woman is designing her own ceremony, and we will all witness each other’s vows. I absolutely love it. It’s so fun because everyone gets to be creative together.
“Juneteenth marks our country’s (the U.S.’s) second independence day. Although it has long been celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans.”
Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom for Black Americans…a goal we are clearly we are still working to achieve. “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free,” said Freedom Summer activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
Over the last week, I have been savoring Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto, by Tricia Hersey, an artist, theologian, community organizer, and the creator of the Nap Ministry, which uplifts the liberatory power of rest through collective napping experiences.
Rest is Resistance reads like a sermon–and it centers the experience of Black people, for whom rest can be seen as reparations for their ancestors, enslaved people whose labor, bodies, and sleep were stolen. The manifesto makes a case for the revolution that is resting. Hersey makes it clear that the call to rest is for everyone.
Many of my clients struggle to rest. I do too.
I have been getting better at pacing myself, taking more breaks in the middle of the day for yoga nidra (or non-sleep deep rest). Dance breaks to a song from our Turned-On Living 2023 playlist are the best–they keep my life force going! Of course, there are always middle-of-the-day fifteen-minute pussywalks to tap into the core sexual energy that is always available for us when we turn it on!
It took me longer than I wanted to write this newsletter. The desire to work tempts me–to be productive, to do more, express and connect more often. But there is always so much to do, and as I get older, I don’t want to work in the evenings or on weekends. I want to rest!
If taking breaks and turning off your mind is a struggle for you too, I heartily recommend Rest Is Resistance.Opening up a page at random helps me to rest more with a feeling of solidarity about its importance.
Here is a passage I found at random just now: “All of culture is working in collaboration for us not to rest, and when we do listen to our bodies and take rest, many feel extreme guilt and shame. Embrace knowing that you have been manipulated and scammed by a violent system as powerful evidence. Now with this knowledge you can grieve, repair, rest, and heal.”
And…”Resting is ancient, slow, and connected work that will take hold of you in ways that may be surprising. Let your entire being slowly begin to shift. Get lost in rest. Pull up the blankets, search for softness and be open to the ways rest will surprise and calm you.”
Yours in honoring Juneteenth, and valuing rest and freedom,
P.S. I am reading Rest as Resistance in preparation for August, our month dedicated to the theme of rest in Turned-On Living. I’ll let you know how we expand our capacity to turn off from work and tune into doing nothing, wandering, and daydreaming after we live the experience!
P.P.S. This blog post went out in my newsletter the Sasha Cagen Weeklyish. It’s not social media or even a Substack. It’s simple. If you want to get the newsletter and never miss news from me, please go ahead and enter your email address here!
This month in my yearlong small group coaching program Turned-On Living we are looking at patterns of being “nice” and perhaps “too nice.” We are looking at whether ”nice” is honest.
May is the Anti-People Pleasing month in Turned-On Living. Every month has a theme in service of creating a turned-on life.
For sure learning how to say no is necessary to say yes to life and what you really want. And speaking up is required to live a healthy life.
And yet it is not easy to change these patterns. I have struggled with elements of people-pleasing my whole life. I’m getting better every year at being real and am so enjoying being with a group of women on this yearlong journey.
How about you? Are you sometimes “too nice”? And does becoming less nice mean “toughening up” or just loving yourself more?
If you want to look at your own people-pleasing patterns, and what it takes to change them, I highly recommend these resources:
The book Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty… and Start Speaking Up, Staying No, Asking Boldly, and Unapologetically Being Yourself by Aziz Gazipura. You can find Not Nice and all the other great books we are using during our yearlong journey on the Turned-On Living 2023 Bookshop.org list. (Shout out to Bookshop.org, a socially conscious way to buy books online and support indie bookstores!)
As I’m preparing to write my behind-the-scenes blog post about being on Dr. Phil (not using Chat GPT, which I am still resisting!), I uploaded this video to YouTube.
After our initial phone call, the producers asked me to make a video telling Dr. Phil why they should have me on the show as a guest expert. This four-minute chat into the camera is what I sent.
I got to say many more substantial things in my “audition” video than on the actual show!
The story of how the producers found me and what it was like to be flown out to LA to be on Dr. Phil will be coming soon.
I’ve been busy with my move into a new home, but now there are only three more boxes to unpack.
I am excited to get back into my writerly creative flow and share the backstory with you. Stay tuned. It’s my intention for my own Turned-On Life to do a lot more authentic, personal essayish writing this year.
It’s time to learn how to live from desire rather than obligation.
If you too are one of those “too nice” women who is ready to learn how to be kind to others while also being true to yourself, and you are curious to be considered for the next cohort of Turned-On Living, leave your email here to begin the conversation.
It was a massive pleasure to talk with fellow Rhode Islander Dave Ursillo for his podcast the New Story.
In Dave’s former life, he was, according to his LinkedIn profile, “a political insider, policy nerd and aspiring Presidential speechwriter at governmental offices on state and Federal levels, including the White House Council on Environmental Quality in 2008 and for a gubernatorial candidate in 2009.”
Now, like me, he has channeled his energy and concern for a better world into helping others tap into their truest callings. Dave is s a storytelling coach with a thoughtful podcast The New Story about the narratives that shape our time, and a therapist-in-training.
In this provocative conversation (Dave provoked me!), we dug deep into personal stories I haven’t shared in other interviews.
Dave titled the episode “What stigmas and stereotypes cost women” and it’s about that and much more.
We talked about:
–The kind of clients I find myself working with in my coaching practice: I’ve always attracted thoughtful women who don’t want to settle in life or relationships. More generally, I attract women who are asking the question, “What do I really want?” and want to get out of their heads and into their bodies to move beyond the social conditioning that often cuts us short from answering that big question.
–The personal story of how I got sucked into Silicon Valley during my thirties when I cofounded a street fashion startup and then got disillusioned and left the U.S. for Brazil, where I hoped that a more sensual culture would help me reconnect with my authentic self. We also talk about why my time in Silicon Valley was so alienating. I could see the writing on the wall about how social media was going to f#$@ all of us, in particular our ability to connect with ourselves.
–How feeling the drum of samba music in the streets and reconnecting with wildness in culture and nature helped me to cleanse my mind for a minute and feel present and alive
–Going with my body’s instincts vs. ticking off the box of what a professional woman in her thirties was supposed to do next (buy a condo, find a husband, etc., etc.)
–The treasured experience of quirkyalone solitude, and developing a mindful way of being in connection with yourself and others
–Making sense of the word “embodiment”
–How growing up in the Puritanical environment of Rhode Island shaped me and how I have been liberating myself from those influences ever since (and helping others to do the same).
–Coming back to New England as an adult and discovering the pockets of subcultural communities of resistance and aliveness formed in reaction to the dominant repressive culture. Whatever is violence-inducing will produce pockets of safety and community.
–The Scarlet Lettering that persists in our society when a woman seeks to embrace her sexuality and sensuality, and what this kind of rebellion and resistance feels like. I talk about how I help my clients to do that in a safe environment. Safety is a prerequisite to feel pleasure.
–Linguistic interventions of reclamation: How saying the word “pussy” out loud is a big deal for most women and can be a transformative path in and of itself. We talk about my new Turned-On Living group coaching program and how speaking that word has been a challenge for everyone in the group. We also talk about the joy and liberation that awaits us on the other side!
Being on the Dr. Phil show on self-marriage was a wild ride, to say the least
I said, “When I listen to you, I feel tense in my body,” to the conservative man they brought on to be my foil, I fell back on all my somatic coaching training because I was truly at a loss for what to say with all the nonsense coming out of his mouth about people marrying animals!
Sonya and Danni, the two other women who appeared on the show to share their stories are truly spectacular.
Together we helped to show that what at first seems like a weird idea really is not.
Would love to hear any and all reactions! With a caveat: no hate tolerated. Any nasty comments on this blog post will be deleted.
PS August 16, 2023: The YouTube account that hosted the full episode got deleted. I’ll look for another recording.
With Sonya and Danni, the other two (fabulous) women guests who married themselves, on the Dr. Phil show. Thanks to assistant producer Kalley for the photo. I helped Kalley and her sister Camryn get engaged to themselves after the show!
It was such an honor to interview Sue Aikens, star of National Geographic’s Life Below Zero, and an inspiring icon for independent women everywhere. When we shot this, I truly felt like I was doing my first episode of a celebrity talk show!
Sue came to Buenos Aires to learn tango with me and my team in January 2020. Three years later, we are finally getting this amazing video out there.
Sue is a beautiful, fascinating woman. She says so many powerful and delightful things in this interview. I love the way she talks about living a challenge-driven life. I can identify with that, having taken on so many adventures outside of my comfort zone over the years.
I also love her focus on pursuing dreams at every age. As she puts it, “I haven’t lost that yearning, simply because we grow up, and parts of our bodies sag, doesn’t mean that we can’t pursue the dream.”
Talking about Turned-On Living… okay, not on Zoom, but you get the point…
Over the last two weeks, my calendar has been busy with Zoom calls talking with women about being part of Turned-On Living 2023, the new yearlong group coaching adventure that I will be leading starting in January.
It’s been a journey that I have enjoyed!
I’ve realized and newly appreciated that being both a writer and a life coach means I get to talk with people who have read my books. This is a gift.
For me, writing is about creating connection, and I love to further the connection by getting to know readers in coaching experiences.
I want to share with you some of the reasons that women have told me they want to be part of the Turned-On Living cohort. First I will tell you about who they are.
Most of the women I’ve been talking with have been following my work for years and many are longtime Quirkyalone readers. Others have been attracted by pussywalking, Wet, my work with tango, exploring intimacy and connection, and joy pleasure as a path of personal empowerment. They are mostly in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. I’ve had one chat with a very mature thirty-year-old woman.
There are all women who want to be part of an intentional group of women who want to make the most of life.
With their permission, I am sharing with you what they told me.
Maggie said, “Ever since meeting you and watching your journey through newsletters, I have wanted to engage in coaching or something else.
I want to center myself in pleasure and intention. I hope that this journey can help me live and act on the things I have been learning from books, mentors, and therapy.
By doing this with a group of other women in similar positions and different world views, I want my desires to evolve.”
Melissa told me, “I’m drawn to the idea of meeting and sharing with other women who are on the same wavelength.”
Another woman said, “I’m solid on my ability to do hard things, deal with challenges, get shit done. I am much more unsure how to feel embodied, sensual, easeful, and joyful.
I am freaked out about being single for the first time in five years. I vaguely want to start dating again but I am feeling disconnected from that part of myself. I would like to feel like the fun, sexy version of myself more often. She exists but has made relatively few appearances in the hard slog of the last few years.
I really appreciate the emphasis on pleasure and adventure, since those are two things I am hoping to create for myself.”
Kimberly said, “I live in my head. I want to live in my body and heart. The ‘kids’ at work call me badass, yet I lack perspective on my accomplishments and belittle them. (I should have an MFA and a couple novels under my belt by now, bangs the monkey in my brain.) Then I judge that, too. The pandemic made alienation and distance feel that much further.
In the whirl of my days, selfing (deserves to be a verb) is the first thing to go. Yet it is also the cushion that centers me and makes me feel alive. I’d like to upend this equation, then slice it up and see what’s inside.
I need accountability/camaraderie/new conversations. I feel like so often I’m catching up with friends and we are scratching the surface, telling family/work/health stories by rote. I want real connection, inner peace and outer freedom.
I want to feel like the days aren’t just rolling by one after the other without depth.”
Kate told me, “I feel like I’ve lived most of my life from a place of turned-on living. I’ve tried to live a passionate authentic life. I’m missing a community to share that with.
I’m single with no kids so I recognize that it may be easier for me to live this way. But I have hope that there are other people in the world who have chosen to live their life this way and want to share that and experience that with others.
So I guess I’m looking for community. And also for support in continuing to live this way and maybe inspiration and guidance to help me to expand.”
It’s been a beautiful experience to talk about the power of being part of such an intentional group. I’m excited about the adventure we will be co-creating.
Turned-On Living will be an opportunity to practice being open and vulnerable, to be known by others, and to learn how to both give and ask for support.
Do you long for something different for your work life? Do you want to have a more heartfelt engagement with your work?
As I talk with my clients over the last two years, I notice that more and more of us are re-examining our choices after a multi-year pandemic.
But when you don’t know what you want to do next, and every day is a fire drill, it’s easy to get stuck … for months, or even years.
If this sounds like you, I would like to invite you to our 4-Hour Soulful Work Reboot workshop this December.
My friend and fellow coach Jade Strattner and I are bringing together a group of women with the shared goal of imagining next steps and new possibilities for 2023.
This workshop is for women who have traditionally been high-achievers, conscientious types who work hard to do and be their best–and are longing for fulfillment and balance in their work lives.
This will be an intimate space to get real, be open, share, and envision together.
We don’t imagine you will figure EVERYTHING out in four hours but you will get unstuck and invigorated on a path to follow in the coming year.
The Four-Hour Soulful Work Reboot will take place over two Saturdays, December 3 and 10, 12-2 pm.
We have separated the workshop into two (2) two-hour chunks because we have so much to share with you, and four hours on zoom is deadening!
The pause in between our sessions will give you time to reflect and ideate.
Expect to come away invigorated and inspired with concrete next steps you can follow up on in 2023.
What will we talk about?
Our current experience with work
How and why are we each redefining ambition
What a heartfelt connection with work feels like for each of us
What will the experience be like?
Embodied–Getting out of our heads and into our bodies
Joyful–Express, learn, dance, and laugh
Intimate and Supportive–Each workshop will be limited to 20 women, integrated with a pre- or post-Lab thirty-minute one-on-one mini coaching session to help you get the most value out of the group session.
I had an interesting experience last week when talking with a woman about joining Turned-On Living, my group coaching program for 2023. This is something very new and exciting to bring together a cohort to explore a year of “turned-on living” together.
She asked me to “sell her” on it and I noticed that I froze up when she made that request. I never want to feel like I am “selling” anyone on anything I am offering, whether it’s coaching, an online course, the Tango Adventure (not offering it now, but I spent years “selling” that), or anything I am doing. I want people to want to do whatever I am offering. It’s a little bit like romance: if we are dating, I want you to want me. I don’t want to sell you on the value of dating me!
After our call, however, I reflected. I joined a yearlong business coaching program for 2022, which is in part what has inspired me to offer a yearlong program myself. Meg, the woman who runs the program, in my view, “sold” me on joining by painting a picture that showed me I could learn how to work on my book and grow my business at the same time (for years I thought I couldn’t do both and focused exclusively on the memoir while maintaining the same offerings).
I am now grateful that Meg “sold” me on that vision because, in fact, I have been able to do both in 2022, and that was a breakthrough. Many other wonderful things have happened as a result of my participation in that group business coaching container, and the decision to join has changed me and my life for the better–really for the rest of my life. Now I look back and see her as taking a stand for me and my growth.
So I realized that I could “sell” this person on the experience. I wrote her a longish email spelling out what I saw for her, based on my own experience of being part of such a group. Because I actually do believe that being part of my program will change her life for the better. She has told me what she wants out of it, and I believe she will get those things, and more. Also I really do believe that being part of such a group is in and of itself a transformative experience, and that we need to feel solidarity in all these tender, vulnerable places where we are often shamed and feel alone. And there will simply be so much upward spiral with a group of women supporting each other to live a turned-on life!
Entrepreneurship–or being a freelancer, or doing anything creative in the world–is such a journey that requires everything. No paycheck is dropped into the bank account regularly. You/I have to stand up for your own value and create what you want to offer for the world, and then, yes, SELL people on it. Now I feel really glad that this woman asked me to sell her, and that I found my way to feeling good about doing that. “Selling” can have a connotation of lying. It can evoke desperation. I certainly felt that way when I worked in more traditional business roles for a tech company. But in the end, I was telling the truth as I see it. It’s liberating to stand in that space and fully own the value of what I am offering.
I hope these reflections can help you stand in the value of what you are offering to the world too!
Executive and Life Coach on a mission to help women connect with their bodies to live their best lives + do their best work. Author: of Quirkyalone + To-Do List. Forthcoming: WET.
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Sasha Cagen is the author of the cult favorite Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. Her work as an author, life coach for women and entrepreneur has been featured everywhere from NPR and the New York Times to CNN and Vogue.
In her well-loved newsletter going to thousands of women and men who identify with "quirkyalone," Sasha is the voice for people who don't want to settle--in any area of life.
In her coaching practice, Sasha helps smart, successful women (and sensitive, self-aware men) get clear on what they really want and then to achieve their goals while always helping her clients focus on core issues such as self-worth.